Monday, April 17, 2017

Somewhere on the South East Asian Peninsula

This is not Strictly Thai, nor is it Vietnamese so as someone from Vietnam's eye's  would pop open in wonder, but it is a foray into a South Asian Stir fry with my fav elements of each cuisine. As all home cooling should be it's to my taste, so it's fits me almost perfectly.  This was a fine first try, building a dish on the morphing of three or four separate recipes and hoping for the best.

So what is it I like?  coconut, green and red curry, pork I adore frutta di maiale.  I also like ginger and heat and veggies, so I thought I 'd take a shot at a classic As in restaurant staple:

Crispy pork stir fry over snow peas and bell pepper and onion.  

The ingredents

1 pound of pork cut for stew, then further cut down into littler strips and chunks
1/2 pound of snow peas, end trimmed and cut into 1 inch-ish pieces
a bell pepper cu into strips
fresh cashews (unsalted and chopped)

Peanut oil (3 tbsp)

1 large shallot, minced
3 cloves of garlic,  finely chopped and crushed
Lemongrass -  finely chopped
a big chunk(about an inch) of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced/minced
coconut sugar
coconut milk
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 squirt of fish sauce
green Thai curry paste
cracked back pepper

A cup and a half of white rice

The rough how-to:

Make your rice with a half fistful of minced ginger.

In a sautee' pan add a tablespoon of peanut oil, add some shallot and garlic/lemongrass and 2 tsps of soy sauce till blended then sautee' the snow peas on high heat for a two mins before adding the bell pepper slices for an additional 1.5 mins or so.   add in the crushed cashew for the last minutes
Set aside

add more peanut oil , let it heat up to almost smoking and brown/crisp up the pork.  3-5 mins tops.

add shallots, garlic, lemongrass coconut sugar, fish sauce,  Thai green curry paste (two tsps - to taste)
*optional: some chopped serrano or Jalapeno peppers for heat

When you've got a bit of a sauce going with the meat and blend items.spoon in two tablespoons of the top, think lyer of coconut milk out of the can.  fold in and heat for 3 or four mins.

Plate it over the rice, peas and peppers with some scallions....

Monday, February 13, 2017

Game -over Chicken

Okay, okay, it's been a while since I added anything to this blog.  Instagram and the lure of the 2 sentence description with a photo appealed to the lazier more dominant side o my nature.  I'm all better now. Last night I ended the chicken game and stumbled onto what was easily the best chicken I've ever had, bar none.

The the upside of all upsides, it was ridiculously easy to make.  That makes my top two chicken dishes  (this and my standard Devil Chicken) the easiest thing I make, perhaps only a shade more complex than something like Guacamole.

The marinade is the thing:

Savory and sweet with my go-to sherry soak along with a long enough bake time to really break down the chicken made it flat out as tender as pulled chicken, just falling off the bone tender.

8 chicken drumsticks  (but you can substitute bone-in thighs)
black pepper
Garlic powder
Smoky Paprika

The Marinade
1/4 cup very dry sherry
2 tbls olive oil
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbls dry rub (see below)
dusting of garlic powder
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp cracked fennel seeds

1 dash cayenne

Jalapeno jelly  (

Dry rub:
4 teaspoons ancho chile powder 
4 teaspoons chipotle chile powder 
2 teaspoons ground coriander 
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
2 teaspoons ground black pepper 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon fennel seed 
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic 
1 teaspoon dried dill 
1 teaspoon dry mustard

The how to's:

Rub the chicken with  black pepper, paprika, garlic powder
Set aside or refrigerate while preparing the marinade

In a a bowl add all the marinade ingredients  Make up  the  dry rub in advance and have at the ready, this rub is also great on lamb or pork

Whisk thoroughly till it's a fragrant dark mix of sweet and savory

Place the chicken on a baking dish or just some aluminum foil (sprayed with canola oil)
brush on the prepared marinade.
brush on the Jalapeno jelly

Let the chicken marinade  open air yet lightly covered if it's not a hot day, or in the fridge for 1-2 hours if it is.  Patience is a virtue here. The length of time you exercise the aforementioned patience the greater the reward in tenderness, so go watch a movie or binge-watch cooking shows on Netfilx

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Bake the chicken for an hour

Serve  -  and make twice what you think you'll need.  Worst case, you have the best breakfast/lunch tomorrow that you can imagine

Suggested side: 
wild rice
Mashed or roasted potatoes


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thai Street food part 2

Another hot Summer night as always, gives me an excuse for cooking outside.  Something I love to do as I suppose it connects me to my caveman past or something. Mostly it's just that I live in a remote, green, redwood forest and standing at the grill as the evening cools the air and everything just quiets down to a whisper makes me happy to be alive.

I'm becoming really obsessed with all foods Asian these days and  last night worked up my courage to make something that is an all-time fav -  either on the street when traveling or as a light starter to a nice restaurant meal.  Satay.

Again, as I'm learning in my culinary adventures, nothing is really hard. I fought forest fires for 2.5 years in my late teens/early twenties.  THAT was hard work.  Making a satisfying and delish meal is nothing more than focus and thought and assembly and attention to detail. And as such my first try at Satay was a complete success.  That is, not to say, it can't get better.  I think my dipping sauce could have been a bit better. It was a little thick.  But I get ahead of myself.

The supplies:
  • A couple lbs (two large) skinless, boneless chicken breast chopped into large cubes.
  • 1/2 cup of hippie peanut butter, chinky if you can find it -- you know the stuff, runny and gooey that you have to stir to thicken properly
  • 1 table spoon (to taste/heat sensibilities) Thai chile paste. I tend toward hot, but your milage may vary.
  • 3/4 a cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • The juice of two limes
  • A splash of pineapple juice
  • A medium grip of roasted coconut flakes
  • Cilantro
Some bamboo skewers -  soak them in water while you make your marinade.

A hot grill  (600-700 degrees)

So, first you make your sauce/marinade

Plop the peanut butter into a sauce pan over medium heat and add the rest of the sauce ingredients, whisking it into submission until its creamy and smooth.  Don't let it come to boil, we're not cooking it, we're simply blending flavors.  Different levels of chemistry altogether.

When it's the consistency you want (creamy but not too soupy) pour it over the chicken chunks in a large bowl,  toss them about a bit to get them completely coated and then cover with cloth and let it the whole aromatic mess* sit and think about itself for 1-3  hours.

* it's not super pretty at this point, but smells amazing.

When it's grilling time, take your skewers out of the water and load em up with chicken, packed tightly, almost as if you're trying to reassemble the chicken to it's pre chopped state.

Slap em on the grill and turn semi-frequently with tongs until they are firmly crusted over on all sides and cooked  through. This is pretty quick, maybe 15 mins tops depending on how big your chicken chunks are. The end result is a crackle at first bite and an extraordinary juicy, tasty finish.  Best satay I've ever had.  I reserved a tiny bowl of the marinade to use as a dipping sauce and dusted the chicken with chopped cilantro and another squirt of lime juice to finish.


The results are about the prettiest thing to ever come off my grill; chicken that looks like golden ore  and smells like heaven.

For a side I also grilled some fresh cut pineapple spears.  Same grill, but just about 8 minutes, with one flip -- to just char them a bit.

The pineapples and a quick three bean salad made this a super satisfying, high protein healthy meal.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thai Street Food In Canyon

Damn it's hot. Not too hot to cook, just too hot to care or make decisions.  My kitchen is messy, I worked 11 hours in the heat, I have nothing planned and gave up and decide to just go to the store and get a frozen pizza for Patty and Ethan and browse for something that grabs my interest.  I felt like a muttering, cranky old man.

The over air-conditioned aisles and flag-draped suburban matrons browsing for hot dogs and badly limp chicken (July 4th coming up) kind of depressed me and as  I swanked past the butcher shop section.  I saw the saddest prefabbed chicken kebobs in history.  Yet that was my click moment.

Heat -  kebab - THAILAND.  Done and done. I remembered I had a few pounds of sirloin in the fridge, excellent skewers, a working BBQ and tons of Thai spices.


I got some coconut milk, cilantro, a few diff colored bells and some pineapple slices.

Back at the ranch I poured into a bowl (not in this order necessarily):

  • 15 oz coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of Red Thai chili paste
  • 2 long squirts of Sriracha
  • a glug and a half of Thai peanut sauce
  • a long dribble of pineapple juice 
  • and some chopped cilantro
  • 1.5 lbs of cubed sirloin

A fast two hour marinade (warm and lightly covered, not in the fridge) and then I skewered the meat chunks alternating green and orange bell cutlings and pineapple slices and then out to the BFG2000 (Still after all these years my workhorse of a grill).

6 to 8 mins a side on a super hot (700 degree grill) and we're just talking heaven on earth.

The high heat is important so it sears the baby Jeebus out of the marinated beef and gives it a luscious crust while being super tender and juicy inside.

i will never fear a hot and seemingly uninspired night again.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer BBQ Season: game on

I <3 Summer, who doesn't.  Let me list the things I love about it, in no particular order

  • Heat - yes I like it hot and could live on a beach, given the chance
  • The cool of the evening on the deck after a hot day
  • Margaritas
  • Plum ice cream
  • BBQ ribs.

....Halt.  yes, BBQ ribs should be at the top of the list.   Once the temps starting hitting 80+ my mind turns to bbqing on the BFG2000 grill.

My ribs recipe is one I've been iterating on for about 15 years at this point and I think I may stop tinkering with it after tonight.  It was just spot on parfait.  Super juicy, moist, just dropping off the bone tender with a nice patina of sear for the first bite crunchiness factor.

I'll spare you the 12 iterations to date and cut to tonight and what works so well.

#1  Get good baby back ribs.  See that Safeway?  Keep driving.  Find a good butcher shop you trust  (like Diablo Foods, hint hint) and buy a nice fresh rack or two.

2.  Bring it home and at room temp coat it thoroughly in your rub of choice. I fluctuate between my own creation:  and a local blend called Oakland dust.  Oakland Dust has more paprika than my rub so it's a matter of mood, really.

Anyway,  coat it about twice as thick with your rub as your instincts tell you to, then double foil wrap it tightly and place into a 225-250 degree oven.  With my doddering, olden oven, temp is a bit of a guess, but tonight I put it to 250 and it worked like a champ.  Walk away and do something else for 2 hours -- I spent my two hours building a big fat Greek salad and playing with my dogs.

3.  When two hours is up, remove the now fully cooked and dropping off the bone ribs from the oven and let them cool slightly while you make a brushing sauce:

Le sauce:

#1 fry up a half a pound of bacon and do what you must with the bacon,  but reserve the bacon fat in the pan.


The juice of 3 limes
four tablespoons of organic honey
a tablespoon or more of the same rub you used earler
a dollop of dry sherry

Simmer this for 5-7 mins, stirring until it reduces a bit and is slightly thickened, but not mud-like

4.  Brush this over your cooling ribs and take them to the grill that you've been pre heating at high/stun level for 10-15 minutes.

5.  Quick sear the ribs for 3 mins a side, praying for blasts of flame  (you won't have to pray too hard, the rib /bacon grease helps a lot).

Remove and eat.  Holy Moly! this batch was absolute perfection,  Juicy and falling off the bone but with a certain satisfying crackle on first chomp:

my Big fat Greek salad:

Come on by anytime the mercury passes 85 degrees or so and it's bbq game on.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

weeknight easy chicken landscapes

Chicken is so luscious and satisfying as a meal, not to mention cheap enough to make multiple times a week.  Then of course you get to make stock for soups, stews and risotto with the bones.  Win/wn

Happy was I to find yet another way to cook it; one so easy and so super tasty that it's become my go-to chicken when I don't want to do the whole chicken roasting thing, or a long drawn out braise or the drama of frying.

My new meme is from a NYtimes cooking recipe, and it's killer simple, can be made in 15 mins flat and I guarantee it will be about the most interesting tasting chicken you've ever tried.

Fast broil Devil chicken

Simple simple simple

#1 Get a bunch of bone-in thighs or leg segments.  Salt and pepper to taste

Then make up this easy potion:

1/3 cup dijon mustard
1/3 cup of finely diced, almost minced onions  (sweet, red, shallots, scallions -  your choice)
2 tables spoons honey
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

fork it violently to blend.

Heat your broiler to full on.

when it's hot, place the chicken on foil into the broiler, skin side up

cooke for 6-8 miuntes until you have a nice light browning going on.

Flip the chicken and apply about a teaspoon of your devil potion per piece and put it back in hte broiler

cooke 6-8 minutes till you have a golden red crust

flip the chicken yet again and heavily coat the topside and then back into the broiler for an additional 6-8 minutes

Done, it's as simple as that.   A crackly hot/spicy outer layer and super tender juicy on the inside.  This is the real thing.

Serve with, well, I like Mashed potatoes a lot (here my grandma's recipe).

Devil chicken  mountains plus cloud-like mash potatoes with a hovering ghostly moon wine glass.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Red Beans and Rice: Soul food for any soul under the sun

I spent about 10 years on the road mixing FOH sound for a Blues/Rock icon.  A good gig which took me around the world a few times and to every state in the US except Alaska and oh crap, I think that's the only place in the world we missed.  As a crew member working 18-20 hour days  (something my current gig coworkers don't understand about how my current work ethic got tattood onto my dna) I remember a lot of good times and some less than fun times. But I also remarkably can recall almost every crew meal from every gig.  It's uncanny. Ex: The Cabooze, Mn 1989.  Overcooked ribs and bland beans or phenomenally bad pizza which my cohort Whit had (with a bartender raving about how they were the best ribs in Minneapolis). har!

What I can recall also was what has become a legend in my mind; the single flat our best meal  I ever had.

1990 Jazz and Heritage in NOLA.  Two shows, one for our band and the second subbing for a suddenly sick BB King.  Great show, good times in the blues and music capital of the world.  Felt like I was on top of the world, getting paid to mix shows at this level.

After the gig I took a walk to wind down.  NOLA is great anytime, but at Jazz and Heritage it is just alive with people and about the most interesting city imaginable.  I walked by alone letting myself wander a bit, not really caring where i ended up.  The only downside was the sticky 104 degree heat which was pretty intense, but it was a day off after a good gig, I had no worries, was in no hurry to do anything. in particular.

It was damned hot though and after an hour or so of walking I was just sweating through my shirt and feeling a big dogged and about ready to pack it in and head back to the hotel, when what did I spy?  A neon sign of a flashing beer mug way down almost hidden in a shady alley with ivy growing up the brick walls around it.  I was sucked down the alley like a moth drawn to a flame and when I got under the sign and stood in front of an open door, I felt the blast of massive AC. Heaven indeed.  I walked in and placed myself at the stone and tile bar, ordered two beers (to take out the waiting period between #1 and #2) and ordered some red beans and rice for the strength needed to walk a few miles back to the hotel.

What came in about 10 minutes was the most satisfyingly hot and savory dish I have ever had, bar none. Better than reindeer steaks in Norway, better than sushi in Osaka, better than barbecue in Chicago. Simple, pure and aromatic sausage, beans and rice. perfectly cooked.  I could taste heat from a few different sources, basil and parsley winding around smoked sausage and soft yet almost crunchy red beans.  And the bottle of Jalapeno based hot sauce which was placed within arms reach by the barkeep was like nothing I'd ever had and remains to this day, my main hot sauce for anything - eggs, rice, soups, salsa.  Bat's Brew hot sauce from Baton Rouge.

I have been working on recreating that dish for a few months now, and tonight I got close.  It's not 104 out in Canyon, but it is a bit sticky out in this weird May drizzling rain.  Here's what I did.

Soaked 1.2 lbs of small red beans overnight  (I am so virtuous).

Bought a pound of smoked Portuguese sausage cut up into half rounds and fast sautéed them to slightly crisp in a table spoon of oil.

Adding 3 more table spoons of oil, I dumped in two finely diced onions and 8 cloves of crushed and minced fresh garlic and tossed them about until they were opaque, not burned in any way.

Next came a large stalk of celery, finely diced and a whole green pepper chopped

Five more minutes of sauté and it smelled like the afterlife.

I then just dumped the whole bean shebang in to the mix, added a tiny bit more water and set it to low simmer for around 2 hours -- till the beans hit that soft with a slight bit of crunch (that is the hardest part of this recipe)

Aromatics added just as it comes to a simmer:
a 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne
a teaspoon of sage and one of dried basil
1.25 teaspoon of black cracked pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
some salt if you swing that way

Got my rice going -- long grain with a teaspoon of ginger, cause I like ginger

For the last fifteen minutes of simmering, I pulled about a cup of the beans out and mashed them with my Irish potato tool, placed them back in the pot along with some chopped green onions and a cup of chopped fresh parsley

Omg omg omg  such a fine meal. Soul filling for sure.  And topped with a blast of Bat's Brew. though depending on how adventurous you are with the cayenne and red pepper flakes, you may not need the Bats Brew.  You can buy it from Panola Pepper company via the Internet tubes.  I can't recommend this strongly enough. Get some and you WILL thank me.

Pass the cornbread pls......And I believe I'll have another one of those cold IPA's as well.