Bone Broth in the VeloKitchen

December 4, 2016

In this blog post, I’m sharing a few practical tips for preparing, using and storing bone broth. In our small community, I somehow became a bone broth expert. I’m not a trained professional; most of what I’ve learned is from hands-on experiments and reading. Let’s start with three must-know steps to make a clear broth.

1. Roast the bones for about 30-40 minutes in a 350-degree oven. I know the bones are ready when they smell delicious and my dog is mooching around my kitchen. When I’m pressed for time, I roast frozen bones and just add 30 minutes to the cooking time.

2. In a slow cooker, cover the roasted bones with room temperature or cold water, 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and whatever veggies, herbs and spices take your fancy. Regular add-ins to my broth are carrot, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns and fresh herbs. Apple cider vinegar helps leach nutrients and other goodies from the bones. For more on the health benefits of bone broth, I recommend this book: “Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World” by Sally Fallon Morell.

3. Turn your crockpot on low and let the bones constantly simmer for three to five days or more.

While preparing to teach a Bone Broth cooking class in the Seasonal Kitchen series for the Inland Northwest Food Network, our local non-profit which connects our community of farmers and consumers, I answered questions I often hear about bone broth.

Bone Broth FAQs

Q: What kind of bones are best?

A: Marrow bones produce flavorful broth. Pork bones make our family’s favorite. We also make bone broth from beef, chicken, lamb, oxtail and wild game bones. Living in Idaho, I’ve been able to source elk and deer bones, and I heard that moose bone broth is delicious. Ask your butcher to chop the bones into crock pot-sized pieces, about 2-4 inches long. Meat on the bones adds flavor to your broth and is a hearty addition to your soup or stew.

Q: What’s your source for great bones?

A: Like the location of our huckleberry-picking spot, my bone sources are top secret. Bones are offered at most grocery stores or ask your butcher. Look for bones from animals who lived a grass-fed, antibiotic and GMO-free life.

Q: So, what’s the deal with cooking the bones for days on end?

A: The first time I let my broth simmer overnight on the low setting, I wasn’t sure my crock pot would handle the continuous heat. Instead, we awoke to the aroma of a meaty lamb broth, and our kitchen smelled medieval. Unable to resist, we dipped the ladle into the pot and drank bone broth with our breakfast. The texture of marrow bone broth is creamy and soothing. As you can see in this photo of reserved samples of pork broth after 24 hours and after four days, the color, along with the flavor, becomes deeper and richer with each day.

4 days vs. 24 hours

 


Q: What happens to the contents of the crock pot after a few days? 

A: This question makes me think of the 18th-century rhyme, “Pease Porridge hot. Pease Porridge cold. Pease Porridge in the pot nine days old. Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Some like it in the pot nine days old.” Nine days? We tend to consume broth daily, and I add water and exchange soft vegetables and herbs with new ones during the week. Or not. Sometimes it depends on how busy we are and how much attention I’m paying to the pot. In any case, I’ve never had bones go soft, not even small chicken bones. I’ve even read recipes that say you can remove the bones after five days, freeze them and reuse them.

Depending on the kind of bones and how much fat and meat are on them, some broths produce a foam or film at the top that is liquified fat and particles released from the bones. You can skim and discard these with a large spoon. The same goes for herbs and veggies that you added for additional flavor. After a few days, they can get mushy. When this happens, remove them with a slotted spoon and add new ones. It’s handy to have a fine strainer when you ladle your broth into a cup or another pot to remove the chewy bits you might not want in your mug or recipe.

Q: What do you do with all that broth?

In our family, we sip bone broth like tea or bouillon, and I use bone broth as an ingredient in most meals I cook during the week, from soups and stews to fish chowders. I also substitute broth in recipes that call for water to give flavor and a nutritional boost to our regular meal rotation, e.g., British Pork bangers, bolognese sauce, chicken curry, rice, quinoa, etc.

Q: How do you store and reuse broth?

Bone broth freezes beautifully. I use zip lock quart or gallon bags and lay them flat in my freezer, so they are easy to store when frozen. Some of my friends store and freeze broth in mason jars or ice cube trays.

Share your Tips!

Please share your bone broth tips below. I am always delighted by the tips home cooks create to save time when cooking ancient dishes using modern appliances.


Spoonful of Optimism in the VeloKitchen

November 12, 2016

I have fewer Facebook friends today than I did on election day, but not because I unfriended anyone. I didn’t think I had been overt in my political views in that forum, and, over the past year I read many hateful posts about all the candidates from these (and other) friends, but, mostly, kept my views to myself. I find it sad that so-called tolerant unfriends who say they embrace the diversity of every size and type would be so abrupt as to cut our ties without any discourse.

I was neither stunned nor shocked that Trump won the election. While nearly all of mainstream news was bashing him, they missed hearing the despair of America’s middle, both geographically and economically. The majority of Trump’s voters chose a flawed candidate who acknowledged their concerns, but that does not mean they condone all of his behavior. In the end, Clinton, with her flaws, did not represent them.

I am appalled by the anti-Trump ranting and drama, especially when accompanied by violence. In a civilized country, a peaceful political transfer of power includes not only that of one leader to another but also a respectful transition by its citizens. I believe in the goodness of people and am optimistic that once the hotheads on both sides calm down and start listening to each other, we will move forward as a united nation, respectful and appreciative of our differences. I am optimistic and hopeful that President Trump, drawing from his business persona, will be a strong leader and bring our culturally rich and diverse nation together. I may sound Pollyanna-ish, but first, we must believe to make it happen.

Peace.


Auld Link Sausage in the VeloKitchen

December 29, 2015

Wrapping up 2015, my 12-year-old son asked me for one word to describe my year. The one I chose is slow-food. I’m using the URL address spelling to fit into the “one word” rule.

Since moving to Idaho in 2014, I began connecting with local food and farmers and started gleaning essential gardening tips for our short growing season in the Idaho Panhandle from savvy natives. I met some interesting and wise characters at farmers markets and roadside stands whose wealth of know how filled holes in my local knowledge. Participating in the “Food for Thought” book club sponsored by the Inland Northwest Food Network and our public library has become my favorite meeting of the month, and our discussions open my eyes to food-related topics that had rarely crossed my mind.

In our first Idaho garden, we harvested over 100 lbs. of organic produce mostly grown from seeds, (yes, we had an abundant potato crop), saved seeds from an heirloom tomato plant following instructions from a farmer who also sold us dehydrated llama poo fertilizer. In our kitchen, we adapted modern technology for old-time techniques and mastered a few “advanced” cooking skills.

Our biggest adventure was purchasing our first half-hog from Cable Creek Farm. Bob the Butcher, helped us decide on meat cuts from the 90 lbs. hanging weight, and away we went with several boxes of cut and wrapped Berkshire pork. Allow me to share how we are slowly honoring this pig’s life.

  • Slow Pork Pie – My husband, Tony, who hails from Leicestershire, England, home of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie, began perfecting his from-scratch recipe in our Coeur d’Alene kitchen. Surrounded by a hot water pastry and filled with pork seasoned with herbs from our garden, he injects gelatin made from home-made pork bone broth. The finished product takes two days but is well worth the effort. This pork pie is savory and eaten cold which made it an ideal contribution to our gourmet picnic lunch at the bottom of the Trail of Hiawatha bike ride last August.
    Slow British Bangers – Next came ground pork shoulder sausages. Perfecting the traditional banger recipe by experimenting with different cuts and grind settings and taste testing herb and spice combinations was a party in our bellies. We eat bangers with a “full English” breakfast and bangers and mash for dinner. There are never any leftovers.
  • Slow Bone Broth – I owe my bone broth success to simmering browned bones in a slow cooker with veggies, herbs and spices and apple cider vinegar for three to five days creating a clear, deeply flavored, savory hot beverage or a base for soup, stew, chowder, Phở, etc. My kitchen smells satisfyingly medieval when chicken, beef, pork or lamb bones are simmering 24 hours a day for days on end.
  • Slow Pulled Pork Tamales – I understand that preparing tamales from scratch is usually a multi-person hands-on project. But after becoming inspired by a cooking class at The Culinary Stone by Chef Colomba from Cafe Carambola, I undertook a tamale cooking project in my kitchen. Using a beautiful, creamy white lard from Sunny Springs Garden Farm’s Berkshire pigs, I whipped the lard in my KitchenAid for 15 minutes, according to the chef’s instructions, until it became the consistency of a butter cream icing. My first tamales, which took a few hours to prepare on my own, were filled with pulled pork (simmered for a day in the slow cooker) and chipotle salsa. While they look rustic on the outside, I achieved a light and airy masa.Slow food is a team effort. In our family we back away from industrialized “food” and understand that a home-cooked dinner takes at least an hour to prepare, but nourishing our bodies and souls with good food at the dinner table and knowing where our food came from makes our meals all the more satisfying.

    Here’s wishing you and yours Auld Lang Syne, love, kindness and friendship, at your kitchen table every day in 2016!

 


Five VeloKitchen Hacks

November 27, 2015

“What’s for dinner?” Carving out time to cook family meals from scratch every day requires commitment and, especially on busy weeknights, can sometimes feel like a time trial challenge. Work, exercise, and children’s after-school and sports activities, along with regular household chores take up a big chunk of our daylight hours. On some days just thinking about preparing dinner an hour before I hope to serve a healthy, home-cooked meal can feel daunting. Not only that, as any home cook knows, meal preparation from scratch begins with planning: scanning recipes, checking the fridge and garden for ingredients on hand, shopping for items, and the meal prep and cooking process have not even begun!

In our family, we are unenthusiastic left-over eaters, so we try to prepare just enough food for each meal, but that means coming up with a new idea for dinner every day. As a busy, working mother I adopted some time-saving practices into my culinary routine. Here are a few:

  1. Need protein, quick! Need protein, quick! For various reasons, I avoid using the microwave for defrosting. Instead, I significantly decrease thawing time by placing frozen meat and fish in my trusty cast-iron frying pan. This method works great for fish and ground meat, as well as roasts. A physicist could explain why iron is an efficient conductor, but, for me, I am happy to know that I can place a pound of frozen fish in my cast-iron pan, take my dog for an hour-long walk and return to thawed, ready-to-cook protein for our meal. I grill some vegetables, add a starch and a salad, and my weeknight meal becomes balanced and healthy in 45 minutes or less without opening a can or processed food package.
  1. Under pressure. The TV show Masterchef allured me to pressure cooking. In less time than a TV episode, competing home chefs prepare gourmet meals with ordinary cuts of meat. When my husband gave me a stove top pressure cooker for my birthday, I was a little terrified of the possible dangers of the device. I made a New Year’s Resolution to make friends with my pressure cooker and have never looked back. Pressure cooking is ideal on weeknights because I can transform frozen meat into a delicious meal in less than 60 minutes. A few of our weeknight pressure cooker meals include Korean-style ribs with steamed vegetables, Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles and corned beef and cabbage. I consult the FastCooking.ca website which lists “Detailed Pressure Cooking Time Tables” for just about every food imaginable.
  1. Trusty family favorites. I’ve heard that most families who cook from scratch rotate about eight recipes a month. Our family favorites are quick to prepare, don’t require a recipe and use ingredients on hand. They include Spag Bog (aka Spaghetti Bolognese), Indian Butter Chicken, Shepherd’s Pie, New England Seafood Chowder and Thai Fish Soup, among others. A key to our family’s successful rotation in making routine meals interesting is that even though we use similar main ingredients throughout the month, we change up flavors by using different spices from cuisines around the world.
  1. Bone broth. My friends know I am a big fan of the health benefits of bone broth. Vegetables, herbs and grass-fed beef bones, a few Parmesan rinds, a roasted chicken carcass or fish heads simmered in a crock pot of water and spices for six hours to three days turn into a staple every home cook can use throughout the week or freeze for later use. When I am stuck for time or dinner ideas, I start with a quart of bone broth and add meat or fish, vegetables and seasoning that transform into a hearty soup, stew or chowder. In addition to its potent nutritional qualities, steeped broth adds magical flavor depth to ordinary recipes.
  1. Embrace flavor! Our kitchen’s spice cabinet is plentifully filled with a wide variety of leaves, herbs, seeds, pods and powders. We grow fresh herbs in pots; our favorites are thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and mint. Herbs and spices awaken any dish. Revamp ordinary dishes with Italian seasoning, curry powder, smoked paprika or lemon pepper. Stock your cupboard with quick-to-prepare staples such as potatoes, rice, pasta and quinoa and generously season side dishes.

Sharing the joy of preparing dinner with family members reinforces our commitment to eating meals made from scratch. In day-to-day meal preparation, it’s easy to become bored, feel too tired to take the time effort to cook or become stumped for new ideas. I am fortunate that my husband is an excellent cook and we share the commitment to prepare meals without processed ingredients. He doesn’t like grocery shopping, so my job is to stock our kitchen with the staple ingredients for the meals he likes to cook and he is more than willing to prepare the evening meal. It’s not a coincidence that we eat a couple of Indian curries a week.

Any time of year is an ideal time of year to renew good intentions to eat meals made from scratch. In summer and fall, fresh produce just harvested from gardens and farmers markets is abundant and makes ordinary foods taste extraordinary. Involving children in mealtime preparation on weekends and school breaks encourages them to learn and experiment in the kitchen. Enthusiasm for delicious meals children participate in creating can snowball into a life-long commitment to make the time and effort to eat from scratch every day.

(Originally published for the monthly newsletter published by Inland Northwest Food Network).

 

 


Fatties in the VeloKitchen

February 15, 2015

Yesterday I rendered beef fat in a cast iron skillet to make tallow. A month ago, melting animal fat for tallow or lard was not on my ever-growing bucket list of foodie activities. The last time I may have given tallow a passing thought was in the fourth grade when I read “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Fatty in the Snow

I’ve been thinking about fat. I look out the window and see my husband pedaling in the snow on his fat tire bike with four-inch tires pumped to a pressure of around eight PSI. Flipping the page on my calendar, I see that Fat Tuesday is around the corner. Reading “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” by Nina Teicholz has made me think about the fat we eat.

What if everything you have been told about saturated fat was based on a shaky premise and built on a century-long, Kafkaesque trail of soft science and research funded by corporate interests and money, a lot of money? I picked up “The Big Fat Surprise” thinking I would learn about nutrition. Instead, I became engrossed in a page-turning conspiracy about how the diet-heart hypothesis met food politics and transformed saturated fats, like tallow, lard, butter and tropical oils, into modern villains.

The idea that “eating fat makes you fat” dramatically changed the food industry, transformed the fat we consume from animal products to vegetable oils and commutated what we eat. Surprisingly, these steps did not achieve their good intention of reducing heart disease. Instead, diet-heart recommendations, which caused vegetable oils to be substituted for animal fats and tremendously increased our consumption of carbohydrates, have been, quite possibly, the most significant contributors to the rise of a host of other illnesses like cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Independent, investigative reporter, Nina Teicholz, spent nine years researching this topic and makes a compelling case for consuming saturated fat. She summarizes the scientific research for the regular reader while never talking down to her audience. She walks us logically through the history and science of fat: mono-, poly-, trans-, unsaturated and saturated, and tropical and vegetable oils. The diet-heart hypothesis that has ruled nutritional guidelines in the last 100 years appears to be another example of an idea that began with the best of intentions, but ended up, like many other situations in recent history: flawed and “too big to fail.”

I’m trying to reprogram the fat messaging I have heard all of my life. Before the invention of Crisco in 1911, butter, tallow and lard, were the main, fat staples in the American kitchen. Since then, doctors, scientists, researchers, authors and “experts’ have trained us about good fats, bad fats and the evils of cholesterol. The food industry spends zillions of dollars a year trying to convince us their new-fangled inventions produced in their corporate laboratories are better for our bodies. After studying this book, I want to get my head around bringing back healthy, nineteenth-century, grass-fed and GMO-free fats into my kitchen.

I’m persuaded to go back to the full-fat (organic) dairy I gave up wistfully 25 years ago, eat the yolks of (cage-free) eggs, indulge in (grass-fed) butter and red meat a little more often, and enjoy bacon (in moderation) with less guilt. To me, eating a healthy diet and feeding my family is still about balance, portion size and eating a variety of in-season foods. There are proven reasons saturated fats are satisfying in our diet, and it’s a comfort to know we can enjoy them (in moderation).

The generally-accepted scientific conclusions of the diet-heart premise have not convinced me that a glass of watery, non-fat milk could be better for my cardiovascular health than one filled with creamy, whole milk, but the mental and physical benefits of aerobic exercise are clear. Winters in northern Idaho tend to be long and cold, but we keep moving. We are hopping on our fatties and going for a ride. Meanwhile, I’m hoping to hear the likes of Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman chime into the diet-heart debate.

 


Flying Strawberries and Greek Yogurt in the VeloKitchen

March 8, 2014

We are ten weeks into 2014. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolution? In recent years I’ve tried to set low friction, but meaningful resolutions. If I meet my goal, I feel successful, and if I don’t, no remorse. A few of my recent yearly resolutions have been making friends with my mandolin slicer,  bringing reusable bags with me to the shops, reducing plastic in my kitchen and eating with the seasons.

For my 2014 resolution, I chose a page from the Nelson Mandela handbook: “Tread softly. Breathe peacefully. Laugh hysterically.” I like how I can apply my interpretation to each of these simple phrases and how these are evolving as the year progresses.

Tread softly. For me, this not only applies to the obvious, my interactions with the people around me, (the golden rule et al.), this simple phrase also means how I impact the environment. Actions I can work into my daily routines include bringing my bags to the market, substituting bike rides for car tansportation (especially in the summer when the weather is more favorable) and recycling more household and business waste. With a committed family effort, we’ve been able to reduce our household trash pickup to every other week.

Breathe peacefully. Once daylight savings time ends in Seattle, afternoons become short, and the weather turns cold and soggy. I ride my bike for exercise a lot less (or none between November and February). In addition to dog walks, this winter I am warming my body at hot yoga and Pilates classes to reinstate my long lost core for stronger, longer bike rides in the summer. I renamed our Monday fusion practice with weights “Yoga Boot Camp.” Our instructor is called Peach, an unlikely name after you experience the intensity of her workouts.

Laugh hysterically. My husband and son make me laugh every day, a gift I truly appreciate. The detail I am working on this year is laughing more at myself, especially in the kitchen. I’ve had a few cooking mishaps including one with a blender that makes the dog cower every time I plug in the Vitamix. Instead of being hard on myself for a careless error (or, in that situation, a distracted one), we all laugh together and reassure our dog he will be safe from flying strawberries and Greek yogurt.

Daylight savings time begins tomorrow at 2 a.m. Here’s to treading meaningfully on the pedals, breathing hard up the hills and laughing hysterically because I made it to the top of the hill even when I get dropped by my peleton.

Namaste.

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Supporting Sustainable Food in the VeloKitchen

February 18, 2012

Cycling Chef picking up our CSA share

After watching Chipotle’s television ad, “Back to the Start” played during last week’s Grammy Awards, I reflected how our family’s eating habits have improved over the past few years to support sustainable food. A few years ago, the film “Food, Inc. made a huge impact on how we began to think about the food we consume. After seeing that movie, it occurred to us that although we often cycle on low-traffic, rural roads, we rarely see cows grazing in pastures, a familiar site from our childhoods. I came to the conclusion that, even though I had thought I was doing a satisfactory job of supporting local farming by shopping at farmers’ markets, I could do more to ensure our family eats foods free of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and genetically modified ingredients. So I started on a self-education journey beginning with the fascinating book by Michael Pollan THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA, A NATURAL HISTORY OF FOUR MEALS which he wrote to answer the question my husband asked me every single day when we were getting to know each other via e-mail, “What are you having for dinner?” (For more on that story see my post “A Curry Love Affair in the VeloKitchen.”)

We had been consuming organic fruits and vegetables, organic dairy products, grass-fed meats and wild caught fish, but after reading publications by Jeffrey M. Smith, a leading consumer advocate on non-GMO foods who publishes the practical non-GMO shopping guide, I banned non-organic corn, soy and canola oil from our kitchen and educated my husband and son on suspect GMO foods. At home we cook our meals from scratch, but the awareness of GMO ingredients in our country’s food supply makes us think twice when we make decisions about the food we are consuming.

Two years ago, we joined a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, which is, essentially, a co-op where we and other families buy a season of crops grown on a local farm and pick up our share of each week’s harvest. Our CSA Zestful Gardens is run by Holly and Valerie, dedicated organic farmers whose farm is about nine miles from our home.  Our first year’s experience opened my eyes to the difference in flavors of locally grown vs. store bought produce. Not only were the vegetables more intense and vibrant in flavor, I was surprised by how long just-picked produce lasts in the refrigerator. After I picked up our first CSA share my biggest shock was finding a giant, slimy brown slug in a head of lettuce! I screamed and my husband and son came running, laughed at me and then reminded me that finding critters in the produce means that no nasty pesticides were used to grow it.  Last year, I added another level of eco-consciousness to my CSA share pick-up routine. In the spirit of The Slow Bicycle Movement I rode my Townie bike eighteen miles round trip to pick up many of our weekly shares. I love the feeling of pedaling through my town with my bike basket and panniers filled with produce that had been harvested earlier that day.

My newest resolution is focusing on eating in-season foods during our non-CSA months. Living in the Pacific Northwest means fresh and colorful fruit from Chile in February is tempting, but we are finding that in-season fruits grown closer to home are equally satisfying. For Mother’s Day last year, my son gave me the cookbook CLEAN FOOD, an “encouraging, easy-to-understand guide to eating closer to the source and benefiting from the rich nutritional profile of the freshest, in-season, locally grown ingredients.” This cookbook’s recipes are organized by season and are easy to prepare.

Our family feels healthy and satisfied that we are doing our bit to help support sustainable farmers and the environment. My eight year-old son has watched the Chipotle video many times. I hope our experience shows that going “Back to the Start” is an attainable goal, family by family and farm by farm. And, for me, this lifestyle change began with wanting to meet the chickens who lay the eggs we eat.


Cyclecation in Idaho

September 23, 2010

In August we spent two glorious weeks bike riding in Idaho’s panhandle. We stationed ourselves in Wallace, a small historic mining town whose claim to fame until the 1980’s was the host, (or should we say, “hostess?”), to more than a dozen brothels. Now the most notable red light in town is the Red Light Garage where huckleberry milkshakes are the claim to fame and locals play live music on the weekends. Aside from 300 miles of bike riding in two weeks we enjoyed swimming, tubing, fishing, hiking and eating huckleberries.

The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a 71 mile paved bike trail following the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way. The trails are smooth and wind through small towns, forests, rivers and around Lake Couer d’ Alene. The scenery is spectacular and the trails are easy to ride since the steepest grades are ones that trains used to summit. The trails are very safe for our seven year old to ride on his own bike and restroom access is readily available. We began our 20-40 mile rides at a different point on the trail each day ensuring an ice cream stop on just about every ride. The weather in August is ideal for bike riding: sunny, with temperatures in the low 80’s. Squirty’s longest ride was 40 miles! Once he tasted speed on his new Felt road bike, we couldn’t stop him. This is family bike riding at its best.

Cycling Chef Cycling

Cycling by the river

Harrison Trail

Bull Run Trail

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The other bike riding highlight was mountain biking on breathtaking scenic stretches of railroad trails on the Route of the Hiawatha which winds through 10 train tunnels and 7 train trestles. The route is 15 miles downhill beginning at over 4,000 feet elevation. Aside from riding through pitch black, cold, drippy tunnels (the longest is 1.6 miles) the descent is fairly easy. The ascent on bikes was a sweaty, challenging 1,000 feet!

Trees! and more trees!

Hiawatha train trestle

A short train tunnel

Domestique in training


Stamina in the VeloKitchen

March 7, 2010

Mole Poblano

Ride a hilly Metric Century on my bicycle (62 miles) or prepare a Mole Poblano? Each takes about 5 -1/2 hours to complete, and both are epic events. Standing in the kitchen can be nearly as tiring as pedaling for that duration. I’ve had the pleasure of eating many kinds of moles of pureed spices, chiles, seeds and a myriad of other ingredients in Mexico many times. I had heard that preparing this Mexican haute cuisine dish from scratch was time-consuming, but I had no idea of the effort required.  The recipe I chose is from Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art (available on epicurious.com) and is very similar to the one in Frida’s Fiestas, Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo a lovely, beautiful cookbook.

22 dried chiles

My preparation began by shopping at the Mercado Latino which sells the dried chiles in separate bags for about $2.50 each. Nearly every one of the 20+ ingredients in this mole needs pre-treatment before being combined into one of three distinct purees. I toasted, roasted, blanched, blended, plumped, chopped, popped, husked, ground, soaked, fried, … you get the picture. In my pre-cooking research, I read many warnings against taking shortcuts to avoid a muddy-tasting mole.

My husband helped out after his 30-mile bike ride by de-veining and de-seeding 22 dried chiles: 9 mulatos, 7 pasillas and 6 anchos. The dried chiles are black with specks of red and give the Mole Poblano its color. Chef Ravago strongly advises using exactly 22 chiles, and although you can vary the number of each, you may never substitute any other kind of chile. I counted out the chiles three times. I never question cooking superstitions, especially on such an elaborate dish.

Ibarra chocolate

In the spirit of keeping my blog posts at around 500 words, I will summarize the next few hours of the preparation process which challenged all of my cooking know-how and followed with heavy-duty pureeing to ensure smooth pastes. By the end of the afternoon, even my VitaMix and food processor were tired, their motors heating up in protest! I can certainly empathize with cooks from the days of old when the ingredients were hand-ground in a molcajete. After combining half a round of Ibarra Mexican chocolate with the purees, the mole quietly simmered in a dutch oven for about an hour requiring frequent stirring to prevent scorching. My fear of ruining four hours of food preparation and needlessly splattering the VeloKitchen and dirtying countless dishes counted toward my day’s upper body workout.

Mole Poblano is commonly served over chicken in Mexican restaurants. Frida’s recipe calls for turkey. Since we prepared this dish as an appetizer for a chocolate-themed wine dinner with foodie friends, we decided to present the mole over three kinds of meat: poached turkey, roasted duck and grilled pork, and served with a dark Mexican beer: Negra Modelo. My husband handled the roasting and grilling.

The result was a divine Mole Poblano: well-balanced, smooth, spicy, but not too hot, and no flavor overpowered another. By far, the duck brought out the virtues of the mole’s flavors and the beer nicely complimented the spices and textures.

If you are interested in more photos of the mole preparation process, please visit my Cycling Chef Facebook page and share your Mole Poblano cooking and eating experiences in the comments below!

Originally published on March 7, 2010.

©2010 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved


A Curry Love Affair in the VeloKitchen

November 22, 2009

I haven’t always had a love affair with curry, especially Indian curries. In fact, when I met Tony and we began our long distance, (7,253 miles or 11,671 km), year long courtship between Seattle, Washington, and Wellington, New Zealand via email, I learned Indian food was his favorite. The thought crossed my mind that we might not be as compatible as we had seemed in person. I now realize my Indian curry experience had been quite limited.

Hundreds of emails in 12 months where his burning question EVERY day was, “What are you having for dinner?” made me realize the way to this man’s heart was through his stomach. It wasn’t until after we were married and he moved many jars of assorted spices, seeds, pods, sticks, peppers and leaves into our spice cupboard that I learned he was quite serious about his curries. I made a mental note that to have harmony at our dinner table, I should learn to embrace Indian curries. As it turned out, he introduced me to my first homemade Indian curry via his favorite recipe book “Indian Curries” by Madhur Jaffrey. Timatur Murghi (Chicken with tomatoes and garam masala) was delicious! This dish is what I now call my “comfort curry.”

With curry peace achieved, my husband cooked about two curries a week. I started reading curry recipes but felt intimidated by the long lists of ingredients. It’s not unusual for a curry recipe to call for 10 to 15 spices PLUS another five or more other ingredients (meat, tomatoes, onions, etc.). Most curry recipe instructions are fairly precise of when to add each ingredient and the duration to stir, cook or simmer each before adding the next which makes them seem complicated, but once I got brave enough to cook the first few, the steps became logical.

I don’t remember which curry recipe I chose first to prepare on my own and without a pre-made curry mix, but I found cooking Indian curries quite enjoyable. That led to our next step, our 50 Curries Project, where we are cooking our way out of a curry rut of preparing the same 6-8 recipes. We decided to stretch our apron strings and are experimenting with different curry flavors by cooking our way through Camellia Panjabi’s “50 Great Curries of India” cookbook. The photos in the cookbook are mouth watering.

We are cooking the curries at random, and a few weekends ago we prepared our eighth curry from Panjabi’s book, Malabar Shrimp Curry (Konju Curry). The photo of this curry graces the cover of the cookbook and is a beautiful combination of red and orange accented with green curry leaves and hot peppers. We made this curry with U15 prawns. The most interesting and different preparation step from other curries we have cooked was heating two teaspoons of oil in a ladle over the stovetop burner and adding sliced shallots and curry leaves to infuse the oil which we poured over the prawns just before serving. We rated this dish 8/10 and will indeed be preparing this curry again.

Next weekend we invited friends to dinner for the ninth curry. I’m pretty sure we will delay making the egg curry, (I’ve got to get my head around hard boiled eggs and curry), or the Aab Gosht (Lamb Cooked in Milk). The photo of Aab Gosht shows white meat, apparently from the milk, served on white rice which doesn’t look too appetizing. But every curry in this cookbook has surprised our taste buds, so stand by for the next curry post and the rest of this book. We are committed to cooking all 50!

Do you enjoy preparing and eating Indian curries? Check out our Curry Crazy Project on our 50 Curries Project page where we are cooking our way through Camellia Panjabi’s 50 Great Curries of India cookbook!

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


Death Row Meal in the VeloKitchen

October 31, 2009

The D.C. sniper’s execution date is set for Nov. 10th, but I’m not here to debate the death penalty. Nor is this post meant to be morbid or macabre even though it’s published on Halloween. However, the topic brings up the question, if you were able, “What would you choose for your last dinner?”

death row mealMy husband has a menu he has long called his “Death Row Meal.” (He’s not planning anything sinister. Neither am I). His ultimate comfort food meal is braised lamb chops with onions and gravy served with boiled potatoes, green peas and cauliflower with English cheddar cheese sauce. This supper is a straightforward and hearty dish he insists on preparing whenever I bring home lamb chops. If I were choosing my last meal, I think I might like someone else to cook my dinner. In my research for this post, it seems that inmates on death row choose comfort foods or foods unique to their culture rather than meals that are exotic or rare. Some do not make a final meal request. Reportedly the most requested meal by death row inmates is a cheeseburger and fries.

Last year, at a wine dinner with our foodie friends, we went around the table and asked each person to describe their Death Row Meal. Because we are cooking and food enthusiasts, our conversation took a couple of hours and we ended up going around and around the table describing our “last” entree, appetizer, dessert and salad. The wide variety of choices, some simple and others rare, made for fascinating debate and quite a few laughs.

Feel free to leave a comment below of your Death Row meal!

Originally published on October 31, 2009.

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


35 Green Cardamoms in the VeloKitchen

October 25, 2009

35 cardamomsIn my research to write this post I learned that cardamoms are part of the ginger family. There are three types: green, black and Madagascar. The Indian curries we cook usually call for green cardamom and we use two to three whole pods which are cooked in the sauce and then discarded. Sometimes we forget to remove them before serving and we find out when we bite into something crunchy and bitter. This recipe, Elaichi Gosht, (Meat cooked with Cardamom), on p. 86 on Camellia Panjabi’s cookbook “50 Great Curries of India”, caught our attention because it is prepared with 35 ground green cardamoms, ten times more than any other curry we have cooked.

The other ingredient curious to us, as compared to other Indian curries we cook, is that this recipe calls for two teaspoons of ground black pepper. Our cookbook explains that in many parts of India this dish is prescribed to women who have recently given birth and in the Sindh region new mothers eat this curry every day. It makes me wonder how this primes the palates of breast-fed babes in India.

Elaichi GoshtMy husband prepared this curry with lamb, although it could be prepared with chicken. He ground the cardamom pods in our coffee bean grinder. The black pepper flavor was very intense and overpowered the other flavors, (tomatoes, turmeric, chile, coriander powder). This is our fifth adventure in our “50 Curries Project” and we have no regrets about trying something different, but it did not rate anywhere near one of our favorite curries. If we prepare this dish again, we would season it with about 1/2 tsp. black pepper, add garam masala before serving and garnish with a flavorful chutney.

Do you enjoy preparing and eating Indian curries? Check out our Curry Crazy Project on our 50 Curries Project page where we are cooking our way through Camellia Panjabi’s 50 Great Curries of India cookbook!

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


Thick as Fog in the VeloKitchen

October 16, 2009

pea soup

Fall has arrived in the Pacific Northwest which means rain, showers, drizzle, … I’ve heard that Native Americans in this area have 100’s of different words for the drippy stuff that falls on us pretty much constantly from October through April. I usually garage my bike for the season and opt for other exercise since I don’t like to be cold and wet. My husband is a year-round rider. Me? I prefer to buy my winter clothes at Nordstrom rather than Performance Bike.

This recipe is for a hearty split pea soup. I make it after my cycling season ends because it’s no fun being the stoker on a tandem bike after the bike captain eats this meal! I prefer not to puree the veggies for this recipe, so I chop them in small pieces before cooking. If you prefer a pureed soup or a vegetarian version, leave out the chopped ham and remove the ham hocks before putting the soup in your blender. This soup can be cooked in a slow-cooker or in a dutch oven. Both methods turn out a tasty meal. Enjoy!

Split Pea & Ham Hock Soup
Serves 8 (nice for leftovers)

2 cups dried split peas
2-4 ham hocks
1 lb. of ham, cubed
3 chopped leeks (use the white & green bits)
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 bay leaves
Thyme – 3 tsp fresh or 2 tsp dried
1 tsp cracked black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 cups water

1. I always forget to soak beans the night before so I quick-soak them by covering with cold water, bringing to a boil and letting sit for 1 hour.
2. Combine all ingredients. Slow-cook at low 8 hours or high 4 hours.

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


Rocking the Casbah in the VeloKitchen

October 12, 2009

About every three months we get together with three couples who enjoy fine food and wine for a homemade, gourmet meal of a specific cuisine. We rotate the preparation of each course, appetizer, salad, main dish and dessert. Recently we began stretching our cooking fortes by choosing cuisines out of our cooking comfort zones. At each dinner we continue to raise the bar of excellence! This weekend’s meal theme was Moroccan food and we prepared a Lamb Tagine. From my research I concluded that tagines differ in style and ingredients, especially in the selection of vegetables and fruits. For example, some recipes called for potatoes and peas and others for sweet fruits such as prunes or dates. The recipe below has none of these. If you already cook Indian curries, you will find the steps to prepare this tagine very similar. Below the recipe of my version of our tagine are some preparation tips.

Moroccan Tagine

1. Toss 2 lbs of lamb (or chicken) cut into bite-sized cubes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat.

2. I used the spices recommended in the following Lamb Tagine recipe (Allrecipes.com) for the marinade making the following adjustments: I cut the cayenne pepper by half and, instead, added a hot pepper to the sauce and used about 5 cloves of fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Here’s the marinade link: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lamb-Tagine/Detail.aspx

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. Most are probably in your spice cabinet. I marinated the meat for about six hours.

3. Brown the marinated meat in a heavy bottomed pan. We used our trusty cast iron fry pan.

4. To prepare the sauce the meat will simmer in for 2 hours, I used some of Jamie Oliver’s recommendations from this recipe, http://www.jamieoliver.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=30442. Here’s my version:

In my cast iron dutch oven I sweated the following vegetables for about 15 minutes until they were soft and reduced in bulk by half.

2 cups onions, 1 red onion and 1 Walla Walla sweet onion
10 quartered carrots cut into three inch slices
6 celery sticks chopped thinly
5 garlic gloves
1 T freshly grated ginger
1 small hot chili (or more, or less, to your preference for heat)

5. Add 1 T balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of white wine. Simmer for a few minutes.

6. Add:
2 cans of chopped tomatoes with their juice
Zest of 1 lemon
6 anchovy fillets (Jamie Oliver says these bring out the flavor of the lamb and I agree. You won’t taste the anchovies in the sauce when the meal is cooked).

6. Add the cooked meat, bring to a boil and put in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 2 hours.
 
7. Serve over couscous and with Moroccan bread (or pita bread).

Preparation Tips:
– I attempted to make Moroccan bread from scratch, but mine turned out like hockey pucks, so, obviously, I need more practice.
– This recipe could easily be made in a slow-cooker. I would skip marinating the meat and add the spices to the meat and sauce. I haven’t tried this yet, but if you do, please leave a comment below.

Fig TartThis tagine was warm without overbearing heat from the chili. Each course of our dinner burst with flavors. We ate interesting appetizers of risotto cakes and chicken wings, a beautiful, colorful salad of roasted vegetables, an amazing fig tart with cardamon cream and nine bottles of fine wines. We enjoyed many laughs and another delightful wine dinner with our friends and we got to eat the leftover tagine which was just as tasty the the next day.

  

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


Slow-cooked Korean-style Ribs in the VeloKitchen

October 8, 2009

Long ago I established a “no appliance” rule for birthday and Christmas gifts. Since we eat at home most days and we cook from scratch, I consider kitchen accessories as “necessities.” Luckily, my husband agrees so when I decided to replace our old crockpot with a new model, I researched products, read reviews and chose the All-Clad Stainless Steel 6-1/2 quart slow cooker with a ceramic insert. Even though the All-Clad is more pricey than other products, I feel I made a wise long-term purchase since this is a product I foresee I will use often. Calling it a “slow cooker” instead of a “crockpot” helped me justify the extra expense, too. With this huge and shiny new toy on my kitchen counter, I decided I must get away from my old crockpot recipes, which to me, taste like the same old casserole. I am trying other cuisines in my slow cooker and they are turning out successfully.

Ribs (2)We are big fans of take-out Korean-style beef short ribs, and inspired by a Twitter friend I decided to try them in my new slow cooker. After reading a few recipes, I prepared the ribs as below. Below is the recipe and a few preparation tips.

Slow Cooked Korean-style Beef Short Ribs

Serves 4

3 lbs. beef chuck short ribs with bones, thin sliced

1. Stir together in a large glass measuring cup:
    1 cup orange juice
    1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    2 tablespoons sesame oil
    2 tablespoons honey (or brown sugar)
    2 teaspoons rice vinegar
    1 tablespoon minced gingerroot
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    5 garlic cloves, finely minced
    12 scallions, (include white and part of the green leaves) finely chopped

2. Pour about 1/2 cup of sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer the ribs and massage sauce into each rib. I don’t like to touch raw meat, so I use gloves. Pour a small amount of the remaining sauce over each layer.

3. Slow cook for 6-8 hours.

Tips:
– When pressed for time, (and who isn’t?), I use chopped gingerroot from a jar instead of peeling and grating fresh gingerroot. The flavor from a jar is a bit milder, but a good substitute.
– My garlic press is one of my most important kitchen tools. I rarely mince or slice garlic with a knife to save time and to ensure the garlic pieces in my dish are small enough.
– Slow cooking the meat, (chicken could be substituted for beef in this recipe), replaces the need for marinating in advance since the slow cooking process infuses the meat with the spices and other flavors.
– The meat was very tender after cooking for eight hours and fell off the bone. The next time I will use a spatula instead of tongs to serve to try to keep the ribs together.

Serving suggestions: Steamed rice and Sauteed Red Swiss Chard with Garlic, recipe link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sauteed-Red-Swiss-Chard-with-Garlic-13423

The next meal I am planning for my slow cooker is a Moroccan Lamb Tagine. Stand by for the blog post!

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


Palak Gosht (slow Indian cooked curry) in the VeloKitchen

September 23, 2009
Palak Gosht

Palak Gosht

We finished eating dinner two hours ago and our house still smells like a curry! I broke in my brand new All-Clad slow cooker with an Indian lamb and spinach curry, also known as palak gosht. I was inspired by the recipe in the October 2009 “Oprah” magazine. Here is the link: http://www.oprah.com/recipe/omagazine/recipes/200910-omag-recipe-lamb-curry . If you have never made a curry or your family is not used to eating Indian curries, I recommend this recipe as it is mild and tasty. I think you could easily substitute chicken for lamb, or even make this recipe vegetarian with an equally succesful result. 

We eat Indian curries at least twice a week so I enhanced this recipe based on our experience of cooking with Indian spices and after consulting one of our Indian cookbooks, 50 Great Curries of India by Camelia Panjabi.  When you open our spice cabinet, the smells of curry ingredients waft out of the cupboard. We usually make a mild version for our youngster (little to no chili or cayenne pepper) and a spicier one for the adults. If my husband sweats from his brow, then the curry is hot enough! This was my first attempt at cooking a curry in the slow cooker. The advantages of slow cooking are that you can prepare the meal in advance and the meat turns out melt-in-your mouth tender.

To the recipe above, I added 3/4 tsp. coriander powder, a bay leaf and 2 cloves. The next time I prepare this curry I would also add 1/2 tsp. Garam Masala powder just before serving. To prepare a family-friendly recipe, I cut the cayenne pepper to 1/8 teaspoon while the curry simmered in the crockpot. When the slow cook cycle was complete, (eight hours on low heat), I removed my son’s portion and added two small Thai chilis to the rest to add heat to the curry. If you like your curries very hot, then you could add even more chilis at this step since adding the yogurt at the end cuts the heat of the chilis.

If your slow cooker has been on the warm cycle for an hour or more, you will need to slightly heat the curry before you add the spinach at the end so that it will wilt quickly (in about five minutes). Beware not to heat the curry too much or when you add the yogurt just before serving, the yogurt will curdle. This will not change the flavor, but curdled dairy looks clumpy instead of creamy. I served this curry over rice.  My vote for cooking a curry in a slow cooker is a win and I look forward to adapting other recipes. What’s your experience cooking Indian curries? Please leave a comment below!

Do you enjoy preparing and eating Indian curries? Check out our Curry Crazy Project on our 50 Curries Project page where we are cooking our way through Camellia Panjabi’s 50 Great Curries of India cookbook!

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


Green Lips in the VeloKitchen

September 19, 2009

My mom is from Cataluña, the northeast region of Spain, and our family grew up eating what’s now called a “Mediterranean Diet.”  The aroma of olive oil, garlic and onions sauteeing in a fry pan are comfort food smells in my kitchen. I often joke that when we were growing up my mom would begin cooking dinner each night with these three ingredients, and then say, “What should we have for dinner?” and then add chicken, fish, vegetables, etc. to the pan.

A few weeks ago Scallywag, who as an unusual palate for a six-year old, requested one of his favorite dinners: greenlip mussels. I’m always looking for different “brain foods” to add variety to our diet. Greenlip mussels are reported to have low mercury content and are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. I have prepared greenlip mussels in many different ways, but my favorite recipe is a simple broth of my mom’s favorite meal starter plus chopped fresh ginger, red peppers, white wine, Thai fish sauce and sweet chili sauce. The greenlip mussels we are able to buy in our neighborhood are cooked and flash frozen so we only need to steam them for about eight minutes in the broth before we eat them. In this photo you can see apricot and cream colored mussels. The apricot colored ones are female; the cream ones are male. They taste the same.

I will never forget the first time I tasted greenlip mussels at the Mussel Boys Restaurant in Havelock South, near the top of the South Island in New Zealand in the year 2000.  They were that special! The Mussel Boys Restaurant was once described by Travel and Leisure magazine as a “funky roadside shack.” Greenlip mussels are endemic to New Zealand and although the mussels are large in size, they are not chewy, but tender and flavorful. The Mussel Boys prepare greenlips is many different ways. If you have the opportunity to visit New Zealand, don’t miss this great delicacy! And if you can find greenlip mussels in your neighborhood, they are easy to prepare to make a quick, tasty, nutritious meal.

©2009 Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. All Rights Reserved.


Figs and Rocket in the VeloKitchen

August 30, 2009

Eruca Sativa is the Latin name for arugula, also known as rocket, an edible green often used in salads. This summer we have enjoyed rocket’s peppery flavor tossed with lemon olive oil and feta cheese. A friend suggested adding fresh figs to add another late summer ingredient. Fresh figs are not a staple in the VeloKitchen, but I decided to give them a try. The result was splendid and the combination of colors of the figs’ purple skin and reddish and white flesh made a beautiful presentation!

FigsFigs are often called a fruit, but the fig is actually the flower which blooms inside the skin and the seeds are the fruit. The fig has a long cultural history starting with Adam and Eve’s fig leaves. The flowers of the common fig are female and require no pollination and some believe the fig is the oldest fruit. Aside from tasting delicious, figs are also nutritious. If you are interested in learning more, I suggest checking out Wikipedia’s entry on figs.

Figs are called “higos” in Spanish and I have eaten them in Spanish, Italian and Colombian dishes. After reading about and researching information on figs, I am inspired to look for recipes to incorporate them into our meals. If you’ve never tried a fresh fig, cut one open and taste it. If you have a great recipe, please share it!

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

©2009. All Rights Reserved.


Pavlova in the VeloKitchen

August 26, 2009

Pavlova is a heavenly meringue dessert with a crunchy outer layer and a soft, marshmallowy interior topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. The dessert is said to have originated in honor of the Russian ballerina, Ánna Pávlova, who visited New Zealand and Australia in the 1920s. Both countries claim to be the inventor of this dessert, and not that I want to contribute to the controversy, but since my husband grew up in New Zealand I stick to the version that Kiwis were the creators.

Individual Blackberry PavlovaMost often pavlova is prepared as a large, single dish and then servings are cut and shared. As far as I can tell, just about any fresh fruit or combination of fruits can be served in a pavlova. I prefer to make mini-pavlovas from Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her cookbook “How to be a Domestic Goddess” and top them with berries. These look beautiful and I find the presentation more manageable in individual serving sizes. Also, if any of meringue shells crack in the preparation process, repairs can be easily covered up with the other ingredients without ruining the entire dessert.

This recipe calls for beating egg whites, a pinch of salt and baker’s sugar, a very fPavlova Shelline sugar also called caster sugar, and folding in corn starch, white vinegar and vanilla flavoring creating, as Nigella describes “glowing, satiny, snowy meringue.” Next I spooned the meringue in circular shapes onto parchment paper lined baking sheets and created a “bowl” shape in the middle to fill with whipped cream and fruit later. Then the shells bake 30 minutes in a warm oven and are left in the turned off oven for an additional 30 minutes. The shells are a very light brown color when they come out of the oven to cool.

For our paBlackberriesvlova filling, Scallywag and I ventured out to our “secret spot” in our neighborhood to pick wild blackberries. I should have worn long sleeves and pants to avoid getting scratched by the thorns. The end of August is the ideal harvest time for blackberries, which are considered by some as a pesky weed in the Pacific Northwest. Scallywag ate more berries than he picked, but this has become an annual tradition in our family.

The rest is simple. To ensure the meringue shells are crispy, just before serving we whipped fresh cream, dolloped spoonfulls onto the shells, added the blackberries and garnished each mini-pavlova with mint leaves from our herb garden. The combination of the sweet meringue, plain whipped cream and fresh fruit is a combination of textures and flavors that is a luxurious dessert in any season.

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

© 2009. All Rights Reserved.


Larb ตุรกี in the VeloKitchen

August 25, 2009

My life has been busy since BoyMan1 is heading off to his university soon and I have been making preparationg for Boy2 to enter first grade. That’s not the entire story as the weather here has been ideal for bike riding and we have been riding many miles on our tandem and solo bikes. We are on the back side of the summer solstice which means the days are getting shorter and I feel desperate to make the most of summer weather.

LarbLarb ตุรกี (which I hope is the correct translation for “turkey” in Thai) is a spicy meat salad and a colorful dish. This was my first attempt to prepare this dish at home. In restaurants I have had Larb ไก่ทอด (Larb Gai or Larb Chicken). The recipe I used from http://www.epicurious.com was surprisingly simple, quick and delicious. Click here for the recipe link: Larb Chicken Salad

Ground chicken is not so easy to come by at my local market, so I substituted ground turkey and when I began cooking I discovered I only had one lime, so I substituted lemons for the rest of the juice. The fragrances of chopped mint, lemon grass and cilantro combined with green onions and shallots made for a tasty summer meal. I made two versions, a spicy one with chilis for adults and I left out the chilis for Scallywag’s.

In Thai restaurants Larb is served with lettuce leaves to make a wrap so you can eat it with your fingers. The iceburg lettuce I used fell apart, so the next time I will look for a heartier leaf, perhaps a cabbage leaf or Boston Bibb which has more substance.

Let me know if you prepare this dish at home and how you enhanced the recipe for your family!

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

© 2009. All Rights Reserved.


No Galangal in the VeloKitchen

August 14, 2009

My oldest son’s good friend who is a girl, but not a “girlfriend,”(don’t teens seem complicated these days?), is going away to college soon so we celebrated with a good-bye dinner. My son requested Ceviche or Thai Green Curry. I chose Green Curry since I think Ceviche tastes better when the weather is more Peruvian, (which actually occurs in Seattle from time to time).

I used Jamie Oliver’s “Fragrant Green Chicken Curry” recipe from his first cook book, The Naked Chef. Click here for the recipe link: Fragrant Green Chicken Curry
Two kitchen tools make the job easier for me; one is manual and ancient and the other is electric and modern.

MolcajeteThe first is our well-seasoned molcajete, a Mexican version of a mortar and pestle, made from volcanic rock that we brought back from Guanajuato, Mexico ten years ago. My six year-old son, who loves to help in the kitchen, ground the coriander seeds in the molcajete. The other helpful tool for this meal is our Vita-Mix high performance blender which smoothed the fresh herbs and other ingredients: cilantro, lemongrass, basil, green onions, garlic, ginger root, black pepper, olive oil and lime juice and zest into a paste. The fragrance of the fresh herbs that filled our kitchen was delightful.

In Thailand a typical green curry would include Kaffir lime leaves and galangal, but both are difficult to find where I live. Galangal, also known as Blue Ginger, is a root sometimes described as having an aroma of citrus and earth and a hot ginger-pepper flavor. In some places in Southeast Asia galangal is purported to be an aphrodisiac, so I suppose it is just as well it was left out of this family meal.

I added a small green chili to the paste, but in retrospect, I should have added two or three since the coconut milk cut the heat of the chili. The rest of the curry is easy to prepare: add the paste to a hot wok or deep fry pan where it will sizzle and spit, add coconut milk and chicken (or shrimp) and in about 10 minutes the dish is complete and ready to be served on steamed jasmine rice. Although the more exotic ingredients of galangal and Kaffir lime leaves add additional flavors to this curry, the combination of these easy-to-find ingredients and simple preparation makes a delicious green curry for a weeknight meal that tastes loads better than any green curry mix I have tried from a jar or a packet. If you try it, let me know!

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

© 2009. All Rights Reserved.


100 Boiled Eggs in the VeloKitchen

August 8, 2009

Our family is not enthusiastic about eating leftovers. We will eat day-old favorites like Indian curries, Spag Bog or Shepherd’s Pie for lunch, but we prefer a hot, fresh-cooked meal at dinner time. Since setting a New Year’s goal of reducing food waste at home, I have been working on serving leftovers creatively.

This week, while doing my rushing around with all-of-the-usual, I decided to experiment using leftover grilled steak and lamb from two different meals in a recipe from a cooking class I took in Thailand. I chose to make Yam Nuea Yang (spicy grilled meat salad). I marinated the already-cooked meat in oyster sauce, cracked pepper, and soy sauce for about 30 minutes while chopping the vegetables: garlic, green onions, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, and cilantro. I added a dressing of fresh squeezed limes, (left over from “Havana in the VeloKitchen”), fish sauce and a little sugar. To spice up the adults’ salad, I sprinkled chili powder on top. The result was as tasty as a freshly cooked dinner!

Now, on to the 100 boiled eggs. I have had the fortune to visit Thailand two times. The second time was to give thanks to the fulfillment of a prayer-wish to the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. On our first visit, our guide shared that, in Thailand, Buddha is a messenger to God, and Buddha delivers messages to any religion’s deity. He explained that temple visitors may pray their wishes and when these are fulfilled, they return to give thanks, often in the form of 100 boiled eggs which are donated to the monks for their once-daily meal.

I carefully followed the instructions for the Thai ritual using incense, a lotus flower and a small piece of gold leaf and prayed-wished privately for “a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.” Having suffered a miscarriage the year before, I was miraculously surprised when, within a month of returning home, I tested pregnant and nine months later delivered my second son, whom we affectionately call Scallywag. When Scallywag was born, I knew that “someday” I must return to Bangkok to thank Wat Phra Kaew, but I had no short term travel plans. Unexpectely, when Scallywag turned three months old, I was invited to speak at a business conference in Bangkok, and I was able to return to give my gratitude.

My first challenge was: how would I acquire 100 boiled eggs while staying at a fancy business hotel? Thankfully, the concierge was very accommodating after I explained my story. He sent a messenger on a scooter to the local market who returned with a plastic bag filled with 100 boiled eggs. My husband carried Scallywag in the Snugli, while I toted the 100 boiled eggs. One hundred eggs weigh a lot! We caught a river taxi from our hotel to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Once we reached the Emerald Buddha, a guide helped me chant my thanks in Thai. I have no idea what the words meant, but I repeated them dutifully. Then we stacked the 100 boiled eggs on a platter and left our symbolic thanks along with others’ gifts. Since this very personal experience, I am wondrous of the mystery of miracles and Scallywag’s favorite food is eggs, prepared in any way.

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

© 2009. All Rights Reserved.


Berries in the VeloKitchen

August 1, 2009

Hubby, Scallywag (age 6) and I had a lovely 30 mile family bike ride on the tandem plus tag-along in the Puyallup Valley on the paved trail through Orting past the glacier-fed Carbon River to South Prairie where we stopped for a couple of iced lattes and an Italian soda. The volcanic soil from Mt Rainier’s ancient eruptions makes this farm land very fertile. While Squirty chattered non-stop for the entire ride, we rode past Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches, rhubarb fields and wild blackberry bushes. A few more weeks of 80+ degrees days like today will ripen those berries. I am convinced that if we could discover a way to convert the chatter of six-year olds to biofuel, we could power the world. After our ride we stopped at a berry farm and picked up three half-flats of fresh raspberries and blackberries. I’m thinking of ice cream and berry parfaits for tonight’s dessert and mini-berry pavlovas for tomorrow night, (if the berries last that long).

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

 © 2009. All Rights Reserved.


Havana in the VeloKitchen

July 30, 2009

We are having an unusual heat wave in Seattle rather resembling the Caribbean than the Pacific Northwest. While riding my bike (just 10 miles today) I thought about tropical recipes, did a mini-inventory of my kitchen and settled on a bag of limes. Fresh lime and orange juice, cumin, garlic and onions became a marinade for Chicken Mojito. Rice, spiced black beans, fried ripe bananas, (plantains are hard to come by up here), a crisp white wine and Cuban music will make up tonight’s summer meal. Click here for the basic recipe I use from epicurious.com Chicken Mojito

My favorite Cuban song is “Habana del Este” sung by the Afro-Cuban All Stars. The slow, soulful song begins with a long instrumental section featuring a trumpet and then breaks into its only lyrics:

“Allá en la Habana del Este, gozando el puro y amor, tengo una casita linda, y allá está mi corazón.”

Here is my translation, although the lyrics sound are much more poetic in Spanish:

“In East Havana, enjoying a cigar and love, I have a pretty little house, and my heart is there.”

These lyrics beckon the joys of a summer evening and a simple life. Do you agree?

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

 © 2009. All Rights Reserved.


Steamy in the VeloKitchen

July 28, 2009

It’s steamy in the VeloKitchen tonight, but not because of what’s cookin’. We’re not used to temps reaching near 100 with high humidity in the Pacific Northwest. I prefer my Century on a bike ride rather than see 100 on the thermometer!

To cool off this afternoon we drank a pitcher of Watermelonade, (blended 1/2 watermelon, the juice of two fresh lemons and ice). Since we like it tart I did not add sweetner. I found it challenging to be creative about what to prepare for dinner because it was so hot, but DH hit the pavement early this morning to beat the heat and rode his 18 mile daily ride on his bike and the boys are always hungry.

Even the yellow jackets thought it was too hot to disturb our meal and stayed away from one of their favorites: broiled fresh Coho salmon. I boiled cornetti pasta (looks like mini macaroni noodles) and tossed it with artichoke lemon pesto, served a garden salad and finished with fresh raspberries for dessert. We drank our weekday favorite white wine: Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Family score of today’s dinner: 8/10. Everyone cleaned their plate.

The heat is predicted to continue for the rest of the week, so I welcome summer meal ideas from readers who are used to the dog days of summer.

Cycling_Chef’s Velokitchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

 © 2009. All Rights Reserved.