Friday, July 30, 2010

Pad Thai, American

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle in which the Thai-American writer uses kethcup in a cultural blasphemy greater than any you will see in my arsenal of bastardized Americanized recipes. I asked my friend who owns a Thai restaurant downtown before I tried this recipe.... is this lady's Thai grandma rolling in her grave? He shook his head yes. It may be good, he said, but it not Thai. I said, well, kethcup WAS invented in Asia.... and I see the train of thought.... tamarind to vinegar to ketchup.... the sugar's already in there.... but this did not matter to him. He explained to me that other Asian cultures has accepted ketchup into their kitchen without hesitation, but that the Thai people were especially proud and stubborn about their food. They pride themselves in cooking the way their mother's mother's mother cooked. Thusly, the Pad Thai battle began. I made the SFC pad thai enough times to perfect, in my mind, the perfect American pad thai. This recipe serves 2 and I have had a hard time doubling it. But go ahead and try if you want.

1 shallot, sliced or one small onion, halved and sliced (this is one recipe that a cheap yellow onion is perfect for)
4 cloves garlic, halved and sliced

Saturday, May 30, 2009

For Carolynne: Mango Salsa

Carolynne's Favorite Salsa

Sometimes I am a little too daring when it comes to food. This recipe seems like it could be too much... but it isn't. If you want to use it in a salad (on some greens with a grilled chicken breast - bomb!) don't process the salsa, leave it chunky. If you are eating it on chips, a rough chop, or better yet a trip through a little processer or submersion blender attachment will help make it more manageable, and will really marry the flavors. If you are disconfident in your mango dicing skills, just watch a video on YouTube. That's how I learned. This one is for my girl Carolynne, about to go off to college soon. In San Francisco. I know she'll be ok, but, just do me a favor, and pray anyway?

4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 c. corn kernels (about 4 cans, drained, or 6 ears)
1 Tbsp. butter (feel free to substitute olive oil, I just like butter.)
2 c. diced mango (about 3 mangoes)
1 red pepper, seeded, roasted and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, roasted and chopped (pointy end = spicy pepper)
1/2 to 1 red onion, chopped
Juice from one lime
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder to taste

Start by halving and seeding yr peppers. Turn on yr broiler, to high if you have the option. Rub the skins of the peppers with infused canola oil and place, skin side up, on a baking sheet. Place three inches or so from the broiler and cook for about three minutes, or until the skins blister and crack. Watch them closely. They go from delicious to garbage very quickly. You may need to take the jalapeno out a minute or so before the red pepper. While the peppers are cooling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and the corn and stir to coat with butter. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for ten to twenty minutes, until the corn becomes golden and carmelized. As you cook the corn the sugars break down, so the finished product is covered in a sweet sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (Although if you are having it on a salad, it is yummy warm, so you don't HAVE to let it cool...) Chop the peppers. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and season to taste. If you want, process it to change the texture.

This recipe is property of Domestic Prowess and may not be reprinted without written permission.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

For Andrew: Mac and Blue Cheese

Mac and Blue Cheese, or Mac a Man Can Make

This is the recipe that brought about my love for blue cheese. Tyler requested orzo for dinner, and I found a version of this with orzo in my online perusings. So clueless about what type of blue cheese to use, I picked out about six small wedges at the charcuterie and had a little taste test with Tyler. (And, thusly, the cheese retrospective blog was born!) My recipe uses mini penne, but orzo or any other small pasta can be substituted. Fresh spinach is a great addition if you would like to make this a one dish meal. This recipe is rediculously easy for how delicious it is, and it is my standard suggestion to guy friends who want to cook for a girl. I would probably use Rogue Smokey Blue, but you can use whatever kind of blue makes you happy. This one goes out to my homeboy Andrew, who is apparantly as big a nerd about Rogue cheese as I am.

1/2 lb. small penne or elbow macaroni
4 strips pepper bacon, cooked and crumbled, fat reserved
2 onions, sliced thin
2 oz. marscapone
3 oz. blue cheese
2 oz. provolone, shredded
1/4 - 1/3 c. cream
salt and pepper to taste

While you are cooking the pasta according to the directions on the package, saute the onions in the reserved bacon fat over medium to medium high heat until they just start to brown. (If you are adding spinach, add it to the onions about a minute before they are done.) When the pasta is done, drain it, and while it is still hot, combine all the ingredients and stir until all the cheese is melted and the pasta is evenly covered with the sauce. And that's it. Serves 2.

This recipe is property of Domestic Prowess and may not be reprinted without written permission.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

For Rose: My Favorite Ketchup

Cooking is one grand experiment for me... sometimes I try something because I have a craving to indulge, and sometimes I try it because it sounds cool. My interest in ketchup came about when I had a craving for french fries. While reading french fries recipes, I came across one with ketchup recipe attached and thought, how come I never thought of that? Whenever I can I would prefer to make condiments myself... I'm rather against weird chemicals in my food, and this was a great way for me to avoid them once again. But, time for real talk - do this on a nice day when you can open your house up. You are about to boil onions, jalapenos, vinegar, oj and tomatoes. For a long time. Tyler hid in our bedroom. It was painful. Worth it, but painful. This is a really big batch, so I took little jars to my girls at work for them to share with their families on Easter. It was a smash. (Everyone has brunch, and it just begs to be eaten with brunchy potatoes!) Also really delicious on a meatloaf. You may see a ketchup version 2 soon involving dried plums. Mmm hmm. Plums.

2 Tbsp. infused canola oil
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 c. each red wine and apple cider vinegar (this is a great place for infused vinegar, if you have that kind of thing laying around)
juice from 1 small or 1/2 large orange
zest of juiced orange
1 c. brown sugar, pref. dark
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. mustard, whatever kind you like
1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute a few minutes. Add the pepper and garlic and saute a few minutes more. When vegetables are soft, add the rest of the ingredients. Stir until combined well. Bring to a boil and cook for about half an hour, until the liquid is reduced by just more than half. Using a immersion blender, puree the ketchup until smooth. Remember that hot liquids expand when blending, so make sure you have enough room in your pan to avoid an accident. Place in a non-reactive container and store for up to three weeks.

This recipe is property of Domestic Prowess and may not be reprinted without written permission.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Tastings, or A Cheese Retrospective

OREGONZOLA: Leave it to Oregon to do something totally different. This cheese was sweeter and more pungent than the others I tried, with a true respect to the blue standard but from a whole 'nother angle. Almost like a sweet, sharp white cheddar and blue cheese had a baby. It had a middle of the road texture, soft enough at room temperature to spread, or melt in your mouth, but a few minutes in the freezer would make it perfect for crumbling, too. Because of this cheese's dramatic taste, I would recommend it for use in salads and dressings, and as a garnish. It needs to be a dominant flavor in the meal. Save this for your elegant cheese platters. It's not for immature palates.

ROGUE SMOKEY BLUE: A pioneer of a cheese, this is the world's first smoked blue cheese. Uh, YUMMM! Really good in a salad, and a great choice for a dressing. Or for eating. Firmer than other blue cheeses. Like other Rogue cheeses, it is true blue, but also truely smokey. This is a good cheese to use if you have an audience that doesn't want to step out of the box. Not to say that this cheese is tame, but the smokiness will appeal to most Americans. Of course I can buy these cheeses at my local store, because I live in Oregon. But I am wondering about the availability to my readers in other states. Please leave me a comment if you can, or cannot find it in your area.

From Rogue Creamery [home of Oregonzola] has a long history of cheesemaking stretching back to the 1930's. It is also a tradition peppered with "firsts." Oregon Blue was the first blue cheese produced on the west coast, Rogue Smokey Blue was the first of its kind from the region, the creamery won an awared for the best blue cheese at the World Cheese Awards in London in 2003, and this year Rogue Creamery became the first American artisan producer to export raw milk cheese to Europe. This recent development is a huge step forward not just for Rogue but also for the larger artisan cheese industry. They are putting American cheeses on the map and also cementing the tradition of raw milk cheesemaking in the U.S.

Oh, shoot. The signage for this cheese said it made the best mac and cheese, and they weren't kidding. I wish I would have bought a larger piece straight out of the gate, because I used it in a philly cheesesteak inspired mac with provolone - I couldn't wait to see what it could do on its own, or on a grilled cheese sandwich... or on crackers with an apple and some proscuitto or salami. Almost cheddar-like, crumbly enough for a salad, although not a good candidate for dressing, an A+ cheese for a cheese tray. And Seattle is local enough, keeping your artisan cheese dollars in the northwest.

The first wheel of Flagship, Beecher’s signature cheese, was handcrafted just as Beecher’s Handmade Cheese opened its doors in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market in November of 2003. Flagship is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with a uniquely robust, nutty flavor. It is carefully aged for one year under the watchful eye of the cheesemaker to fully develop its complex flavor and ever-so-slight crumble.

Morrocan Potato Tajine

The Tajine before you is a traditional Morrocan potato dish, with a few extra spices. A Tajine is a dish you can get creative with, though. You may add meat or any kind of vegetable. Cauliflower is one of my favorite additions to this recipe. Just make sure to add enough water to keep it nice and saucy - in Morroco, it is served with bread to dip in the sauce. I don't like bread with this particular Tajine - too starchy! - but I love it with the preceeding Morrocan Mini Meatloaves.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
4 medium yellow potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. turmeric or saffron (or both)
2 bay leaves
1/4 lemon
1/2 c. chopped parsley

In a large soup pan (with lid!), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, paprika and ginger to the pan and stir until spices and oil are evenly distrubuted on the onions. Cook for about 2 minutes, while stirring occassionally, until the oil is evenly colored by the spices and the onions begin to turn clear. Add the tomato and stir to cover the tomatoes in the spiced oil. Cover and let cook for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well to combine, and add 1 1/2 c. water. Cover and let cook for about 20 minutes, until potatoes cut easily with the side of a fork. Check it every now and then to make sure their is adequate water. Otherwise, the potatoes will stick to the pan and you will have a sauceless Tajine! Once the potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the Tajine to sit for about 15 minutes. This allows the sauce to thicken and the flavors to marry. If you can handle waiting, make the Tajine a day yearly and let it sit in the fridge overnight before serving. The flavor is incredible! Remove the bay leaves and the lemon wedge before serving.

This recipe is property of Domestic Prowess and may not be reprinted without written permission.

Moroccan Mini Meatloaves

These meatloaves are darling, delicious and super healthy. Paired with a vegetable tajine, they create a meal no one would ever guess was so healthy, or so economical. Serves 4.

1 zucchini
1 white onion
1 red pepper, seeded
1 carrot
1 clove garlic
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/3 c. whole wheat couscous
2 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. italian seasoning
1/3ish c. Orange Jalapeno Ketchup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12-muffin tin.

Puree the vegis and garlic in a food processor or a blender until they are smooth. In a large bowl combine the pureed vegis with the all of the ingredients except the ketchup and work with hands until combined. This recipe will be almost soupy compared to most meatloaves you have made in the past. Drop large tablespoons into greased muffin tins, filling just to the top and rounding them off a bit. Bake for 25 minutes. Top with the ketchup and return to the oven until the edges begin to brown again, about 15 or 20 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

This recipe is property of Domestic Prowess and may not be reprinted without written permission.

Get a Feel For the Flavor

If I had to describe the recipes you should expect in one little word... it would be American. I always do my homework. I always want to know the right way to do things, the culturally proper way to execute a recipe, and even the factors that led to the creation of the recipe and it's evolution since it's initial use. But at the end of the day, I'm going to do whatever I want with a recipe. I'm about to share my recipe for Morrocan Mini Meatloaves. I know they are not Morrocan. But Morrocan-Inspired Mini Meatloaves is just too long of a name, people. Keep in mind that these are all American versions of recipes. I don't want a bunch of angry comments about how I wasn't true to a recipe's roots - this is what we do here, we take what we want and leave the rest. Sometimes I take it too far, I know... ask my Peruvian friend Segundo, who shook his head in horror while I made sweet peach tamales. "I will never tell my mother," he said. I'll do my best to avoid sharing any serious cultural blunders here... just don't expect me to be authentic all the time.

Why I Blog, or My Love For a Dying Art

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a little old fashioned. I wear a skirt to work, I make my own ketchup, and I've never been very good at paying for things. I prefer cake eye liner and don't buy any clothing or jewelry I can't see myself wearing at age 60. Don't get me wrong - I'm 26 years old, ok, I party like a rock star and curse like a sailor sometimes, too...
But I miss femininity. I long for the times when women knew how to walk in heels because their mommies taught them in their youth. I long for the times when women knew what a slow oven was. I long for the times when a lady didn't leave her house without her lipstick on. I long for a time when every lady had a top secret recipe she was famous for at church outings and family reunions, a recipe that of course, bore her name in some witty way.
The reality is that this is only my dream. Homemade ketchup is just not on everyone's agenda. Growing up in the 80's, fast was key. A lot of us ladies (and gents) missed the culinary experience pretty much all women before us had. Our moms were at work, not instructing us on how to make the perfect pie crust. As a result, a lot of ladies just don't care to play in their kitchens.
But for those ladies who do care to play and just don't know where to start, this blog's fer you.
I hope your families enjoy my recipes, and I hope they help you channel your inner domestic prowess!
All recipes are property of Domestic Prowess and may not be reprinted without written permission.