A Jar of Tamarind Concentrate

tamarindchickenThere is a Thai restaurant in Tyson’s Corner Virginia and they have a spicy tamarind sauce. I now live in Chicago and I miss it. I have found Thai restaurants that I really like but none of them seem to have that tamarind sauce, the one that satisfies that craving. So I have purchased a jar of tamarind concentrate. I’m starting slow, a very simple chicken marinade and a simple Indian spiced chutney…it is a good sized jar so I can dawdle…but soon, soon I will have the confidence to start experimenting. Perhaps I can find just the right combination of lime juice and fish sauce and red pepper flakes.

As for the chicken pictured above, well, I should have fired up the grill….but it was cold outside and I was feeling wimpy. So I used my crappy apartment stove broiler again, it skyrocketed into nuclear, and before I noticed the skin was pretty much charcoal. (sigh)

John Ash’s Marinade
2/3 cup brown sugar (he calls for light but I only have dark)
2/3 cup of red wine vinegar
1 cup of chicken stock
1 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1 can drained)
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds (mine were black)
1/2 tsp seeded and minced Serrano chile (about 1/2 a chile)
3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (or pulp)
Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, cool, and puree. I put mine in a ziplock with my chicken halves and put it in the refrigerator on one evening and cooked it the next.

chili that is vegetarian

Why was the vegetarian chili at ye olde Radical Rye in Madison WI so frigging good….does anyone know? This was good but it did not quite live up to that memory chili…

Do you need bread and butter with chili?  I do.  And Not cornbread, just good old whole grain sliced wheat bread with lots of butter.

This chili is tasty but thin like a broth or soup and I tend to like my chili thick….that may have to to with the bread and butter thing because I actually scoop the chili onto the corner of the bread and eat it.

You know what is nice about vegetarian chili you can add some leftover sausage or chicken the next day and have not-vegetarian chili for day two and then day 3 you add some farmer cheese and you have not-vegan chili…. but you can’t take the meat out of regular chili and make it something else.

Vegetarian red chili stock

3 oz dried ancho chilis
1) add them to warm water an let soak for 1 hour
olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2) heat the olive oil and then cook the carrots, celery and mushrooms until just beginning to color
3) drain the chilis and remove stems and seeds to stockpot
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups of canned tomatoes with juice
1 cup of hearty red wine
2 quarts of water
4) add all of this also and bring to a boil
5) reduce to a simmer, partially cover and simmer for 1 hour
6) strain through a fine mesh strainer (push on solids to get all the juice) put the liquid in the fridge overnight
2 cups chopped onions
7) on day 2 put some olive oil in the stockpot and cook until starting to color (okay you could have included the onion in step 2 above but I forgot)
8) add in the stock and some additional water and simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes
9) add salt and pepper to taste, strain through a fine mesh strainer (push on solids to get all the juice)
10) !!! done

Chili with Pepitas

1 cup of dried beans (mine were Roman beans that soaked all day while I was at work)
1) When you get home from work drain the bean put back  in the pot with enough vegetarian chili stock to cover by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the beans are just cooked through
3/4 cups of diced onion
1/4 cup of chopped carrots
1/4 cup of chopped celery
1 tablespoon of sliced garlic
2) Heat up some oil and cook the above until beginning to color
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3) add the spices and cook for 5 minutes more
1 cup hearty red wine
4) Add wine and beans with stock and additional stock to cover. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
1/2 large poblano chile, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
5) Cook for 5-10 minutes.
6) Season with salt & pepper and some lime juice.
7) Garnish with fresh cilantro, toasted pepitas, queso fresco.

John Ash’s Grandmother’s White Bean Soup

white bean soupThis was a bit of a disappointment. I made my own chicken stock. I got a big beautiful smoked ham-hock from Gene’s Sausage Shop. I soaked the beans! and it still ended up as an “ehhh” recipe.

I made chicken stock on Sunday evening with some chicken backs that I had in the freezer and a couple of wings. (simmered for 1.5 hours with celery, sweet onions, carrots, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns)

The next morning I put 2 cups of navy beans in water and soaked them all day while I was at work.

After yoga class I sauted 2 cups of sliced onions, 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic, 1 cup each of diced carrots and celery.  I added 8 cups of the stock, 2 cups of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a 1.4 lb ham-hock, 2 teaspoons of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 2 large bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

After that simmered for 1 hour, I gave up on having really good beans and added the 2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes and 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley. I think the navy beans were old because they just didn’t ever get tender and the skins stayed chewy.

At this point it was almost 11pm and I was tired but it was really too hot to put in the refrigerator. It takes a long time for 10 cups of soup and a giant ham-hock to cool down, so I actually set my alarm to get up in a couple hours to put it in the fridge.

It was a little cooler when I staggered into the kitchen and groggily put it in the fridge at 1 am.

The next evening I put most of it in the freezer and heated some up for my dinner with shredded cabbage and some parm.

My suggestions for improvement: your chicken stock should include garlic and perhaps some salt, the Virginia Willis version, make sure your dried beans aren’t antique. I.e. buy the bagged Goya ones at your little local grocery which have a good turn around time. Not the bulk bin ones at Whole Foods, because apparently all anyone really gets from the bulk bins at Whole Foods is pre-made trail mix/granola.

poblano pepper sauce under stuffed steak

tenderloin with poblano sauceThis was not my favorite John Ash recipe. It is still better than lots of other recipes…That is one ugly picture though. The green sauce and the oozy cheese. Looking at it does not make me want to eat it again either.

It is a stuffed tenderloin. I don’t understand why I need to stuff the tenderloin. Couldn’t I just put the onion/pepper filling and cheese on top? Next time…

The sauce recipe calls for almonds or pepitas. I used almonds because I was out of pepitas but I should have bought some. I think I would have liked it a little better. I also wasn’t able to find any good jack cheese at either of my local stores and the pepper jack I used was just not very good.  The tenderloins were beautiful and they would have been perfect just grilled up straight. Oh well, next time…I think I said that already.

It you would still like to try it. -> recipe link

sweet corn ice cream

sweet corn ice creamPeople are unsure of this when they hear about it but I’m telling you it was de-lish. John Ash really does such a great job in this book of coming up with flavors that are just a little outside the norm yet still accessible and delicious. Love it! Corn is sweet and then you add some vanilla and cream and honey…pure summer straight from from your freezer.

If you try this recipe, I will tell you that I left out the optional Serrano pepper.  I suppose I should try it someday but I felt it might be a little overpowering to the mildness of the sweet corn flavor.

The almond lace fan cooks are also good and are easy but so greasy! That page is hidden in the link above so here is my version with comments.

Almond Lace Fans (John Ash)

1 stick of butter (yes a whole stick, 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon of flour (yes only 1 tablespoon)
3/4 cup of ground almonds (I used whole skin on raw almonds and ground them up in my food processor)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of grated orange zest (you need the fresh grated orange zest!)

1. preheat over to 325 degrees (that is Fahrenheit…or as in my case where my apt oven if off by 100 degrees I set it to 225 degrees and watch my oven thermometer carefully)

2. butter and flour a couple of baking sheets (btw heavy duty 1/2 sheet pans like they use in restaurants really do seem to be much better than the cookie sheets you can buy at target)

3. put all the ingredients in a saute pan over low heat and stir (wooden spoon is always best for your pans, your food and your health) until butter melts and it is mixed.

4. remove from heat and place heaping teaspoons of batter on sheets (far apart – like 5 inches – they get very flat and thin)

5. bake for 8 to 10 minutes (golden brown and not yet burning)

6. I left most of mine flat but they are pliable when they first come of the oven you can shape if you want.

purslane and fricelli tri-colour

purslane and fricelli4 oz bacon lardons
8 oz of fricelli tri-colour (or other short tube-shaped pasta)
12 oz purslane (which I found at the farmers market but you may have some growing in your yard)
red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
tomatoes (I used 1 15 oz canned whole, drained and chopped, because the fresh tomatoes just don’t seem very good)
1/2 cup feta
salt and pepper

cook bacon. drain. boil pasta. cook purslane until just tender in some of the bacon fat (2-3 minutes) add a few glugs of  vinegar and sugar (cook 30 seconds) Add the cooked pasta, some olive oil, tomatoes, feta, the bacon and combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

I found the purslane a little difficult at first. It is very much like a weed and full of tiny black seeds (like poppy seeds). I was soaking it in water, pulling every tiny leaf off and trying to get rid of all those tiny seeds..ugh!  I quickly got over that though and just rinsed it off and cooked it.  Apparently it is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It was delicious warm the first night and actually delicious cold as leftovers the next day.