Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dinner 3

Simple. Leftover steak, cold. Asparagus, roasted with olive oil, garlic salt, pepper. Yellow squash, cooked in a pan under a lid with olive oil, butter, garlic salt, pepper. All eaten with hands, no utensils. Beer on the side.

Man meal!

Dinner #2

Dinner 2 turned out to be a rush job, as I realized late in the game that I had to hustle or else I wasn't going to be on time to meet up to see Star Trek. (for the second time. yes I've seen it twice)

I had already pulled out the 1/2 pound of ground turkey we had in the freezer, though it was still pretty frigid. I sauteed onion and mushroom for awhile, then added the turkey and a diced tomato. When I added the turkey, I squeezed a lime in. When I don't have time to marinate (or haven't planned adequately) I like adding lime to raw meats while they are in the pan. The lime flavor comes through so much better than if you wait til the end. At that point it is meat plus lime, not delicious, limey meat. Next, I added chili powder, garlic salt, pepper, a little cayenne. I let this all cook up and when it was cooked, but still liquidy in the pan, I had a thought: we have masa harina (the flour used to make tamales). So, I added a tablespoon of this and stirred.

The masa flour was a solid addition to the mix. I will do this again, no doubt. It gave an authenticity of both sight and taste that I am happy to be seeing coming from my kitchen. The liquid turned to delicious gravy and I had myself the perfect filling for a burrito.

Achieving the burrito involved 11 seconds in the microwave. Then I added grated cheese and put it back for 11 more seconds. I added chopped cilantro and put the filling in. Start to finish, this thing took me about 12 minutes.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Dinner #1

In the week Misty is in the great state of Maine, I am chronicling my dinner solutions. Part one is easy. I went to the store tonight after racquetball to find myself enmeshed in a desire to do something new. That something new came quickly as I hit the greens area. I have been big on greens lately, focusing most of my energies on spinach, baby to be exact. This stuff is great. Put in a pan with butter, garlic, salt, and pepper, and you win in about 2 minutes. Every time. Winner.

Tonight's greens aisle trip found me atop some collards. I have only ever eaten others' collard greens and tonight, I made my own. These are not hard to make. I haven't researched their nutritional value as compared to other greens, but they sure were good. They are also easy to make. Rinse the hell out of them. Roughly chop your green, removing the thicker parts of the stalk. Mince [] cloves of garlic and start them to sautee in about 2 tsp oil/butter. Your greens will still be a little wet, which is fine. Drop them in. Salt and pepper them. The collard does not seem to lose its color like spinach, staying a reasonably bright green. I tasted continually as soon as I thought they might be done and you are well-advised to do the same.

Oh, and I had a t-bone and some mushrooms cooked down in Burgundy for my other dishes. That all paired with the '06 Beringer Founders Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Word.

Night one is done.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shrimp & Grits

Low Country cuisine is something of an anomaly. Not quite Southern or Soul Food, and not quite Cajun or Creole -- it's somewhere in between. I've been thinking about Shrimp & Grits for a week or so now and finally got an opportunity to cook some last night.

If you're asking yourself "Shrimp & Grits, what the hell?" Don't feel bad. Many people asked me the same questions as I was eating the leftovers for lunch at the office. It used to be a breakfast thing, in the shrimping towns of the Carolinas. As with all things comfort food, we've turned it into dinner. And a delicious dinner it is.

Shrimp -n- Grits
1lb raw shrimp -- peeled (I used 26-30s, cause they look nice on the plate)
6oz breakfast sausage, or bacon, or chorizo [for that Mexican flair]
1 Can Rotel
1 Can Chicken Broth
1 Cup Grits (yellow, white, quick -- doesn't matter)
1 Cup shredded cheese
1 Onion, diced and divided
1/2 Cup water +-
1 .5 tsp Thyme, divided
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Cayenne
2 Lemons
Chicken/Shrimp stock – maybe a cup or so
S&P to taste

Take 3/4 of your diced onion and add it to a two quart sauce pan over medium-high. Sauté the onion till it’s translucent and beginning to caramelize. While this is going down, start browning your breakfast sausage/bacon/whathaveyou in a large skillet. As the onion becomes golden, add the turmeric, 1 tsp of the thyme, the can of Rotel -- with juice, the can of chicken broth and the water. Bring this to a boil.

By this point, your sausage/bacon should be browned. Remove it from the pan, and sauté the rest of the onion in whatever leftover grease you have. When your stock/Rotel/onion mixture comes to a boil, add your grits and cook as the directions on the package dictate.

I used quick grits, so there wasn't really a whole lot of waiting for me. Basically you want your shrimp gravy to be done at the same time as your grits. If the grits are done first, that's ok -- they'll stay warm. As the grits finish, stir in the 1 cup of shredded cheese.

So, now that you've got some onion browned in bacon grease in the skillet, add some flour (roughly the same amount as fat you estimate to be left in the pan) and make a roux. Cook the roux for a couple of minutes to get the raw taste out of the flour. Then, add a few cubes of the frozen shrimp/chicken stock I'm sure you have at your disposal, Loyal BeefRobot Reader. Your goal is to make enough gravy to poach all the shrimp. As this thickens, add the cayenne and the sausage back in and your raw shrimp. I poached the shrimp in the gravy for 3 minutes or so -- just till they've turned pink and are opaque in the center. Add the last 1/2 tsp of thyme and turn off the heat.

Spoon your grits into the bowl, top with a few shrimp and some of the gravy, and enjoy. A toasty piece of crusty French bread might be nice, for a starch on starch component, but, I served mine with roasted broccoli.