Melting Pot #8

Chicken on the grill!


Grilled Ginger Chicken

If I have a choice between grilling or not I will generally go for the grill. Here is a quick and easy way to add some flavor to your grilling experience. You will need:

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs – about 3 per person if they are smaller pieces
  • Ground ginger (fresh)
  • Crushed garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • White wine

Trim away any excess fat from the chicken, check for bones…mix the ginger, I usually use about 3 tablespoons for 8 or 9 pieces of chicken. Garlic, one clove per every two pieces of meat, a tablespoon or two of pepper, depending on spice level desired. Use 1/8 cup of brown sugar. Add about 1 cup of soy sauce and 1/4 cup white wine. Mix everything with a whisk or fork, put in chicken.

Let the chicken marinate for an hour or so. The chicken should be out of the fridge for a bit before going on the grill. I find that super cold meats just seem to toughen up when they are exposed to high temps right away. Heat your grill up, make sure it is reasonably clean…lay the chicken on the grill, close it and walk away. No need to constantly flip your bird! After about 3 to 5 minutes, turn the meat over and cover again. The sugar and soy sauce will give the meat a lovely dark complexion. In another 5 minutes you can remove your meat from the fire. Let it stand about 4 or 5 minutes before serving, it will be better this way.

I like to serve this with steamed rice and a fresh green salad with a miso dressing.

There will not be any left-overs…sorry…


Melting Pot #7




Sloppy Joes!!

This is one of those ultimate All American type meals. When I am feeling lazy and don’t want to work hard this is one of my go to things to make. Don’t use those instant packets at the store, there is just a mountain of salt in there.

You will need:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 1 large tomato chopped up, 1 tennis ball size onion chopped up, BBQ sauce, ketchup, spicy mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, pepper and white wine.

After everything is chopped and ready, throw the beef into a sauce pan. Get it browning and add a pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir in the onions and get them nice and translucent. Add garlic powder, maybe a teaspoon, perhaps more or less, depending on your preference. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to a low simmer. As the liquid has reduced put in 1/4 cup ketchup, tablespoon of spicy mustard (I use Chinese mustard), 1/8 cup of BBQ sauce (something with a smoky flavor) and a couple of splashes of the Worcestershire sauce.  Stir everything well, add 1/8 cup of wine. Simmer until liquid is reduced.

Serve on a hamburger bun, I like whole wheat. This goes great with coleslaw, either on the side or some people like the slaw on the bun. Also some ridged potato chips.

This will serve four of five people. To do more just up the amounts. You can add more BBQ or spicy mustard to taste. Hot sauce might be nice but the whole hot sauce thing is a bit played out.


A Recent Book Find

La Cuisiniere

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got a booth at a book fair to sell some of my books. I did alright, covered my expenses at least. I did buy a book though…it’s hard to pass something cool up I guess…

This is a French cookbook from about 1900. The title is ‘La Cuisiniere des Menages’, which translates to  ‘The Cooker Cook of the House.  It is a great little book, 536 pages including the index. I am not very good with French, but this book is the whole method (1900’s style) of French cookery. It starts with kitchen terms, then goes into tools, butchering and then cooking. I will probably have to start learning some French now!

The book does need a little repair at the front hinge, just some cloth to hold the hinge together. Not a big deal, more of a conservation item than an actual repair.

Anyhow, here is the cover of the book. I may redraw this so I can print it out larger. Let me know what you think.



Melting Pot #6

Irish Stew

Yummy stuff on a chilly day. Irish stew is one of those easy to mess up things. It seems super simple but if you get too carried away you can end up with something that is less than appealing.

The final product. It was delicious!

The final product. It was delicious!

Generally speaking, a stew is sort of a soup but with bigger chunks of goodness. For my version I use beef, some lamb, potatoes, carrots, onions, a bottle of beer, salt pepper, corn and green beans. You can add other vegetables like turnips, celery, cabbage, etc. Avoid the sissy vegetables like cauliflower.

First, chop up two baseball size onions into a medium dice. Set them aside.

Peel and cut up two or three carrots. You want about a cup of carrots so what ever that works out to, go for it.

Get your locally sourced beef and lamb ready to go. By locally sourced I mean the super market that is closest to your house. I take the beef, usually about two pounds, and rinse it off. The lamb, usually just a couple of chops are cut up into cubes. In a deep pot I render off some bacon. Then add some oil, a few tablespoons or so.

Start browning the meat. Before you put the meat in the pot, dry it off. This helps them meat to actually caramelize and

The brownin' o' the meat...

The brownin’ o’ the meat…

not go grey and boiled looking. Add beef until the bottom of the pot is almost covered, leave enough room to turn your meat. Brown it on all sides and then remove. Do this until all the beef is browned. Do the same thing for the lamb.

After browning drain off most of the oil at the bottom of the pot. Bring the pot back to temperature and throw in your onions. Stir them around, add a pinch of salt to help break down the onions. Once they start to look a little translucent throw in your carrots. Mix everything around so it seems like you are a chef.

Vegetables simmering with beer. Meat waiting to dive in.

Vegetables simmering with beer. Meat waiting to dive in.

Turn the temperature down a little and dump in a bottle of beer. NOT one of those giant bottles of Budweiser that you can buy at the CVS for a $1.49. Use a bottle of dark something…Harp, Guinness, Sapporo…you know, something made by people who care. Use a 12 bottle. This time around I used Newcastle Browne. Simmer that down and let it reduce.

As that that is happening peel and cut your spuds. When you cut them make sure they are pretty good size chunks, about the same size as the stew beef pieces. Put them in a separate pot to cook.

Go back to the stew pot and stir, scraping all the good brown bits off the bottom. Add back the meat, including the bacon that you used to render. Stir things around a little. Add water to just cover everything. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Add some pepper and salt and a couple of bay leaves. Cover. Have a beer.

When the potatoes get to the point that they are almost done, drain them out but do not rinse them. Set the potatoes aside to cool. If you have a big pan you can spread them out on even better. As they cool they will get a starchy coat which will help them stay firm in the stew and keep a nice ‘bitey’ texture.

After about an hour check the stew. The meat should start getting softer. It may take a lot longer, maybe just a little. You want the beef to come apart under a fork. If you have to work at it there is some more cooking to be done. You may have to add a little more water, but not too much. You really want as little juice as possible.

When the beef is right fold in the potatoes. Be gentle, you don’t want mashed spuds! After this add corn and green beans. I use frozen veggies so let the temperature of the stew come back to a boil and you are ready to serve.

Serve with some bread and butter along with a nice beer and you have a meal fit for a peasant.

I am sure you will have a completely different way of making stew, but that is only because the Irish are a confused lot. I am sure however you do it is fine. Wrong, but fine.

Melting Pot #3

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Everyone has their own recipe, there are a million ways to make it and everyone is great (almost). The worst I ever had was when a Japanese friend made it. She used ketchup and katsu dipping sauce for the spaghetti sauce…being a nice guy I ate it but later on I showed her my version.

The Meatballs

Pretty simple: Chop up one large onion to a fine dice, use about 3 pounds lean ground beef, some grated Romano cheese, bread crumbs (you can buy the pre-made ones, my mother would dry bread in the oven and crush it up.), some garlic powder, salt and pepper, two eggs. Oregano if the bread crumbs aren’t seasoned. Some fresh basil leaves.

Mix the onions and beef, add spices, add the eggs and mix by hand thoroughly. Once the mixture is fully integrated start making the meatballs. The meatballs should be about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Put the mixture in your hand and press it to make sure there are no air pockets. Form into a ball by rolling gently between your hands. Set aside and repeat until you have all the meatballs made.

Turn the oven on to 325.

Heat up a deep, large diameter pot. I use one that is 10″ diameter by about 9″ deep. Add Canola oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot. Put meatballs in around the perimeter of the pot, maybe one in the middle. Brown the outside of the meatballs, turning them with a pair of tablespoons. When they are brown on all sides take them out and place in a flat roasting/baking pan. Repeat until all are browned.

Once the meatballs are browned and in the pan, lay a basil leaf on top of each one then cover the roasting pan with tin foil. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes.

The Sauce (Gravy)

I use the same pot that was just used to brown the meatballs.

You will need one large onion chopped, one or two green or red bell peppers cut into 1/2″ squares, red wine, two cans of diced tomatoes, 6 Roma tomatoes cut into quarters, oregano, six garlic cloves crushed and chopped fine and fresh basil leaves. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Add a little Olive Oil to the pan and throw in onions, add a bit of salt to help sweat the onions. Stir in bell peppers. After a few minutes add garlic. Pour in about 1/2 cup of red wine to deglaze and reduce down. Add oregano. I use about one tablespoon but you can use more or less to taste. Once the wine is reduced by about 2/3 add the diced tomatoes. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Lay Roma tomatoes on top and fold into sauce. Cover and let simmer, stirring every 10 minutes or so. After 30 minutes add the fresh basil. You can use whole leaves or chop them up.

Take the meatballs out of the oven and transfer them to the sauce. Do not just pour them in, there will be grease in the bottom of the pan that you don’t want to put in your sauce. Fold in and continue the simmer.

This is where you will start your pasta. I like a thicker semolina spaghetti but you can use anything you like. Just use a pot that will have plenty of room for the pasta to swim. I use about one teaspoon of sea salt per gallon of water. Cook the pasta to taste, drain and put in a serving bowl. Fold in about 1/2 cup of sauce.

Serve per person or family style with meatballs and sauce on the side.

Goes great with a nice salad, French bread and a good vegetable dish.



The Melting Pot #2

My mother was German. She grew up in New York and learned tons of great recipes from lot’s of different cultures. This is a German dish that she would make once every 2 or 3 months. It is one of those basic dishes that is easy to do and tastes great.

Rind Rouladin

A rolled beef dish, super easy. You need thin beef, bacon, diced onions and salt and pepper. You also need toothpicks for assembly. Figure enough for 3 or 4 rolls per person. This will probably give you a few leftovers.

First, take the beef and smash it thin with a mallet. The beef should be less than 1/8″ thick. You can buy thin sliced beef and pound that out. I put cling film over it to keep the juices from flying about the room.

The beef should be about 2.5 to 3″ wide by about 6″ long.

Take bacon and cut it in half. Enough to put bacon in each roll. Take two medium size onions and dice them, each piece about 3/16″ square.

Lay out a strip of beef, add a splash of salt and pepper, put on some onions and then the strip of bacon. Roll tightly from one end to the other, put a toothpick in to hold together. After you have prepared all your rolls take a deep, large pot and heat it up slowly. Throw in some chopped bacon to render the fat out. Brown the Rouladin, getting the color to a nice dark brown. After the pieces are browned remove them from the pot and set aside. Throw in the balance of the onions and sweat those down. There should be a nice crust at the bottom of the pot from browning. Once the onions are clear add a cup of white wine to deglaze the pot. Make sure to work with a spoon to scrape the bottom and get all the good bits off. Reduce the wine to about 1/3 in volume. Add back 4 to 6 cups of water. Put Rouladin back in pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Let simmer for about 3 hours.

In the meantime:

Peel potatoes…usually two per person if they are medium sized. I always make more for left overs. You can add sour cream when you mash them if you like. I also put in some white pepper and garlic powder at mashing time just for a little kick of flavor (optional).

Make pickled red cabbage. Either from scratch or get a jar. Some Rouladin recipes call for a pickle in the middle of the roll. I think the pickle flavor can take over and mask all the other flavors. The pickled red cabbage on the side works perfectly well with this dish.

I also serve Corn with this and Brussel Sprouts. The sprouts I cut in half and pan roast, tossing in a little butter at the last minute as a light glaze.

So that’s it. This is a great meal for a cold or rainy day. I don’t think my mother ever served this in the summer. But I know in the winter I would have this and have plenty of energy to go out and play with my friends until she hollered for me to come in and go to bed.