Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

Feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or just to let me know what you think. Thanks!

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I want to thank you for the time that you spend here, and hope that you can find useful things here.


Monday, May 18, 2009

A better path to Mexican ground beef?

Do you like simple Mexican food, but sometimes the grease is overwhelming? Dislike the sometimes harsh taste of pan-fried ground meat? Well, here's a little-experienced method usually found in tiny hole-in-the-wall cocinas and neighborhood Mexican restaurants.

Have you ever considered making tacos, etc., with boiled ground meat? Done in this method, you retain all the great taste and you lose almost all the nasty grease - and on top of all that it has a different almost velvety mouth feel. It even freezes well. La comida mas fina!

Here's one way:

2 lb. ground chuck
2T chili powder
1t cumin
1t garlic powder
1t paprika
1t salt
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 onion

Put the meat in a pan and add seasonings (plus more to taste). Add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about an hour. Every 15 minutes or so break up the meat so it isn't lumpy. Just make sure you don't run out of water - keep just enough to cover meat. Once done, add finely-diced onion & bell pepper and simmer like another 20 minutes or so. It will be pretty finely textured, like this:
Remove from stove pour into strainer. Let the meat sitting the strainer for 10 or 15 minutes to make sure all grease drains out, pressing it if need be. You want to keep the liquid, but get rid of the grease. Put the liquid in the freezer for a few minutes. When grease separates and starts to harden on top, take a spoon and remove all of it. Save about a cup of the cleaned liquid - the rest can be saved towards a soup, or poured over the dog's food for a treat, a little at a time.

Place the reserved liquid in a small pan bring to a boil. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of corn starch in about 1/4 cup of cold water add to liquid, simmer 4 or 5 more minutes. Dump the reserved meat into the pan and mix liquid well into meat. Now we have tasty moist taco meat, but grease free. It can be used for so many things, but here I demonstrate the simple taco:
I mixed up some fresh Pico de Gallo, and put it in the fridge to chill:
Then it was time to assemble the tacos. Atop the meat is a light shred of cheddar cheese, and the entire plate dusted with chile powder before topping with the Pico de Gallo. I didn't have any, or it might have been treated to a few avocado slices as well.

Every bit as good as it looks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Better Garlic Bread

Nothing sours a good Italian meal faster than soggy, drippy garlic bread. A great garlic bread topping would have a good consistency and texture, adding to the bread and not just soaking it.

My father came up with a concoction that works pretty well. I changed the mix a little, and here's what I am using nowadays. I realize that this recipe make a lot, but it freezes well and keeps in the fridge for a long time too. This way, you don't have to make it too often, but it is always available.

1 lb unsalted butter
1 cup real mayonnaise
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (or Parmesan & Romano mix)
5 T garlic powder

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Do this over low heat so it doesn't burn, it may take a while.
Once melted, mix in the mayonnaise and garlic powder. The mayonnaise adds a nice consistency without affecting the taste. Continue mixing occasionally until combined. I used a stick blender (what Emeril calls a 'boat motor'), which will make it really smooth.
Pour the mixture into a glass or metal bowl, and place the bowl in the freezer until the mixture starts to thicken up. You will see that it has separated.
Next, grab a spatula and mix it into an even consistency. You'll have to do this again, so don't wash it just yet. After it sets up spme, mix a final time until uniform, then back in the freezer it goes. This time it will remain mixed, but still be spreadable. Now stir in the grated cheese.
At this point I fill half-pint Mason jars for the fridge. Now, on to the tasting! You will want to pull this from the fridge a while before you use it, because it will set up hard, just like butter.

Spread the mixture on your bread. I didn't have any great breads on hand for the photos, so I used a light rye for these shots.
Pop the bread in under the broiler until it just starts to turn a golden light brown. Notice that the spread has formed a nice coating, instead of disappearing into the bread. Just enough soaks in to make the bread tender from the oven. You can also spread this on fresh hot bread or freshly made toast.

Sprinkle with a dash of parsley, and eat!
This spread can be used for other things as well, and you'll see some of that next time.