Monday, July 27, 2009

Beer and Aztec Rice

Okay, now if you don't care to read about my ultimate geekdom, I suggest you leave now. I went to the Rockstar Mayhem show in Atlanta last Friday. Guys. I saw Slayer live.


No, really. And it was live. And so cool. I was never a huge fan (Megadeth is more my speed), but got to hear some of the songs I did like. Plus I've always had a thing for Tom Araya, Slayer bassist and vocalist. He's just so chill. And now for the geekdom: Tom is Chilean. And I'm white, so when I was making Aztec rice, I thought of little Chilean Tom. Mexico. Chile. Whatev.

So Tom, I dedicate this sidedish to you. May you always get enough fiber.

Beer and Aztec Rice

Student's Vegetarian Cookbook, Revised: Quick, Easy, Cheap, and Tasty Vegetarian Recipes

1 T minced jalapeno

1/2 c finely chopped onion

3 lg cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp olive oil

1 T finely chopped cilantro

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 c brown rice

1 c water

1 c dark beer, ale, stout

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup frozen peas (I didn't add these. Who really likes peas anyway?)

The instructions for this were a bit confusing, so this is what I think you should do.

1) Saute the jalapeno, onion, and garlic in olive oil until onion is soft- 5 mins.

2) Add cilantro, corianer, and cumin and saute for 1 more min.

3) Add rice, water, beer, and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook on low for 35-40 mins until rice is tender. When nearly done and liquid is almost gone, turn off heat and let the rice sit on the burner for another 5 mins.

4) Remove pot from heat and stir in peas (ugh). Re-cover and let sit for 5 mins to warm peas.

5) Serve.

I added a black bean, corn, tomato combo, melted cheese on top, and wrapped it in a tortilla. Alone, the rice makes for a nice side dish.

*I so wish I had photochop skillz. Then I could make Tom eat my rice. Not in a dirty way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Beer Pancakes

Yep, you heard right. Breakfast of champions!

I recently checked out the Student's Vegetarian Cookbook by Carole Raymond. The idea what that this might be a great present for my friend, but I wanted to look it over first. So far, this might actually go on my shelf instead. All the recipes are simple and hardly involve what I would call cooking, but it's very inspiring. Things like the humble zucchini and pita bread are called to action with recipes that I've sure never seen before. I've bookmarked most of the book already, so I figured I'd start with the recipe that first caught my attention. Beer pancakes.

Actually, this is a rather ingenious idea. Because of the carbonation, if you stir carefully (instead of whisk to hell like I did), you will come out with nice fluffy pancakes. It's also perfect for someone like me. I rarely buy milk and am not crazy about using water or dried milk in my pancake mix. However, I do love my beer. Since I drink so rarely at home, I'll usually have a few bottles on hand instead of the dairy.

For this recipe, I used a small brew lager. I was afraid that it might be too dark, but it worked out beautifully. You can't taste the beer, but it gives it such a depth of flavor that it's amazing! These are honestly the best pancakes I've ever had. This is going in my favorites. It's good enough that I might actually want to eat pancakes for breakfast. A light pilsner would work just as well, but I would probably stay away from anything darker than lager unless you just want to experiment. I thought the flour was out of whack because it was way thin, so this recipe includes my measurements.

Beer Pancakes

Says 2-3 servings, but gave me about 5 with the way I eat them.

2 c flour, sifted (calls for whole wheat, but I used all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking salt
1 egg
3 T oil
1 T honey
12 oz beer

Whisk together dry ingredients and then the first 3 wet ingredients in separate bowls.

Carefully stir the wet mix and beer into the dry mix. It'll be a little lumpy. Cook as normal.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Provencal Beef Stew

My best friend has the most amazing-looking crock pot cookbook. There's a picture for every recipe and they all sound fabulous. She let me borrow it to try out three new recipes this week. This is the first. While I'm not overly impressed with it, this hearty stew was still filling and very beefy. As always, I made several substitutions. Instead of the carrots it called for, I used potatoes that are sitting around plus 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms leftover from the chicken marsala. My bouquet garni only consisted of a bay leaf and some thyme I'm still trying to use. Plus, I didn't use tomato paste.

One day, I'm going to own my own food company. On that day, I am going to alter the life of tomato paste as we know it. It shall come in tubes! Yes, tubes! That way, you can use just the 2 teaspoons called for and not have the rest of the can hanging out until it grows mold. I don't care how carefully you plan, I don't care how much you cook- unless a recipe calls for the whole can, you end up trashing some of it. Am I right? I thought so. I'll step off my soapbox now.

Back to ingredients. I got to open my new bottle of wine (from the wine tasting that I promise I will blog about soon) and the homemade beef stock I made in the crock pot a few weeks ago. Oh, did I forget to mention that? It's beefed up beef stock. Like, I took the time to broil the onions and beefy bone bits and everything. I even froze it in individual 1 cup portions. I'll stop now.

It's alright. I'll eat it, but won't make it again. Why? I'll bet you five bucks it's lack of tomato paste. Damn it. Otherwise it was just straight beef. Beef in beef stock with little else to distract from that. It needs that added depth of flavor to make everything shine. Of course, my best friend really liked it, so it's a matter of personal taste. I'm not scared off for three reasons. 1) Come on, this is me. 2) It's only one recipe. And 3) It's my fault that it wasn't as tasty as it could have been. If you'd like to check out the book, it's called "The Slow Cooker Recipe Book" by Catherine Atkinson. Stay tuned for the next two recipes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chicken Marsala and a Daiquiri

Cooking for one has its own problems. Granted, I've been doing it for so long that I don't really think about it. Usually, I'll just make a full recipe and eat on it for several days, saving me time cooking when I'm too tired. However, there are lots of things I'd like to try, but can't seem to justify doing for myself. So what's a girl to do? Have company.

My mom visited for the night, which was a perfect excuse to make something a little more fancy than normal. I've been daydreaming of a chicken dish I had at a restaurant several months ago that featured wine-soaked mushrooms atop a chicken breast. It wasn't quite the same, but when it's this good who cares? Paired with herb-cheese mashed potatoes and icy mixed drinks, it was a hit. Watching my mom's face as I paid nearly $6 for "exotic" mushrooms was just a bonus. This also marks my first attempt at cooking mushrooms at home and adds to the handful of times I've tried them at all.

The original recipe can be found here, but I made some modifications and would make just a few more next time I make this. I feel almost white-trashy adding this, but it's also good with melted cheese on top. And you know what? I'm not going to show you what it looks like! Hah! Really, I actually had decent pictures of it, but somehow deleted them. Srsly. Edit: I found them! It's amazing what happens when you, you know, take the time to really look.

Chicken Marsala

4 Servings

1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used oyster, but I think crimini and shitake would also go well)
1 cup Marsala wine
1/4 - 1/3 cup cream

1. As far as I can tell, button mushrooms have little to no flavor (unless they're fried). Use dried mushrooms and soak them in the wine for 15-30 minutes before you start cooking. Whatever you have time for.

2. Pound out chicken breasts to a quarter of an inch thick.

3. Stir flour, salt, pepper, and oregano together. Use it to coat the chicken.

4. Melt butter and oil in pan, cook chicken on both sides for about 3-5 minutes until brown. Put them in a dish in a warm oven.

5. If you have bits stuck to your pan, quickly deglaze it with the wine. Dump wine and mushrooms into pan and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to med-low and cook until mushrooms are soft. Near the end, add the cream. Spoon sauce over chicken and dig in. Enjoy with the cocktail below.

Peach and Mango Daiquiri
From the Bon Appetit cookbook

4 servings

3/4 cup frozen mango-peach juice concentrate, thawed
3/4 cup light rum
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 16 oz package frozen unsweetened sliced peaches
Fresh mint springs, optional

1. Puree juice concentrate, rum, orange juice, and sugar in blender. Add half the frozen peaches and puree again. Keep adding peaches a few at a time until smooth. Serve with mint as garnish.

My mom played bartender during this meal. Unfortunately, my grocery store didn't carry juice concentrate, so we used a tropical mixed juice for all of it. Still good, but it'll be better next time. My mom also spent the time to help me take a bunch of well orchestrated pictures. That I deleted. Thanks mom.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pork Schnitzel with Sour Cream Dill Sauce

Recently, my friends and I have been cooking a lot. Mostly, I'm not involved in any way, but I took over my friend's kitchen a week or so ago and whipped up probably the best shrimp scampi I've ever made just with what he had on hand. So we've been experimenting a bit more and decided to try something different for the holiday. Seeing as how I've been craving schnitzel since I'd seen this recipe months ago, I suggested it. Luckily, my friends love me and agreed. They paired it with a corn casserole, and some chips and AMAZING black bean salsa picked up at a recent wine tasting.

The schnitzel was so easy to make, but really satisfying. Right out of the pan, the pork is so juicy and flavorful you might not need sauce. After it rested, it lost a bit of the flavor though. The sauce is too salty on its own, but pairs nicely with the pork. Most of my experience with pork chops has been dismal, so I'm really excited to have something revive my interest in them. Schnitzel is where it's at.

If you're looking for an interesting read, check out the comments for this recipe at the original sight. There are quite a few confused Americans amid the pissed off Germans and Austrians. Me? I just love sour cream. Please excuse the appalling photos. I had crap lighting and I was hungry.