Korean Fried Chicken Sliders

Holy Balls, Batman

Korean Fried Chicken Sliders

Oh haaaaaaaaaay!

Anyone there? Have you left me? It would be well deserved – I am a giant slacker and I apologize. This has been, perhaps, the busiest six months of my life, and I am exhausted. Just when I think things are easing up, they absolutely do not do that. Luckily it’s been mostly great, fun, exciting and lovely stuff, but I am tired. I have a list a mile long to tell you about, but it’s been so long since I have made some of the things I want to share, I am going to have to go back and make them again.

BUT, I had to write today, because as it turns out, today B&G turns FIVE. That’s right. Today is Bread & Ginger’s fifth blogiversary. I am currently celebrating with a delicious gimlet and some pork chops that I can’t wait to tell you about, but we are going to celebrate with some fried chicken sliders, which might be how I celebrate everything from now on, because they are good. I first made this a full sized sandwich, which was good but it was a lot. I like the sliders better for their spicy/sweet meat-to-everything-else ratio.

These are good and easy and quick! There is some deep frying but hopefully that doesn’t scare you anymore. The sauce is sweet and spicy and nutty from the sesame, and also has a hint of funk from the fish sauce. (A good thing, I promise…) There are some ingredients in here that you may not have, but if you have an Asian supermarket nearby you will be able to find all of them ( if you don’t  – Amazon!) Gochujang – Korean chile paste – is spicy, but spicy like sriracha, rather than spicy like Frank’s or Texas Pete. There is a great depth of flavor and umami-ness to it. The spice is balanced by the sweetness from the sugar, and the pickles and the Kewpie mayo and the buttery brioche combine with the sauce for crazy goodness.

I miss you all, and B&G. I am still working on making more hours in the day. If anyone has any ideas, I am all ears.

Happy Blogiversary B&G! And thank you all for reading!!

Seriously, you are not gonna want to stop.

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough

1. It is apparently National Junk Food Day which makes me feel way better about the snacks I had today.

2. I will watch Parks and Recreation any time it is on, notwithstanding how many times I have seen a particular episode.

3. I am currently reading A Clash of Kings. I am currently listening to Beyonce as often as possible. I saw her and Jay in concert a couple weeks back. It was amazing – life changing even. (Too hyperbolic?)

4. I am recovering from an ankle sprain. Apparently walking is a struggle. I wear heels for days, and hike around Denver, and a curb in front of one of my favorite restaurants three blocks from home lays me low while I am wearing top-siders. My high school soccer career is coming back to haunt me. Forever a champion. (This is the most annoying because I was starting to run again, and I have a Jawbone. It counted crutching, which was nice, but I am falling way short of my goal while I have a bum wheel.)

5. MAKE THESE SLIDERS. They are so good. You are going to like them. (And then use whatever sauce you have leftover for chicken wings. I am planning on doing just that this week.)

Korean Fried Chicken Sliders (makes 8 sliders)

For sauce:

4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbl gochujang (Korean chile paste, available at Asian markets or online)

3 tbl dark soy sauce (available at Asian markets)

1 tbl fish sauce

1 tbl brown sugar

1 tbl sesame oil

2-3 tbl rice vinegar

Put all ingredients and two tablespoons of the vinegar in a blender and pulse until ingredients are mixed and ginger and garlic are minced. If sauce seems a little thick, add another tablespoon of vinegar and blend to combine. Place in bowl and set aside.

For chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in two equal pieces each

1 egg

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup masa harina (corn flour)

1 tbl corn starch

Salt and pepper

oil for frying

Heat three inches of oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat until it reaches 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in one bowl mix egg with 1 tbl water and whisk until combined. In another bowl, mix both flours, the cornstarch and generous pinches of salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Dredge chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, and then again in the egg and then the flour. Fry chicken in batches until light brown and crispy, about 6 or 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let the oil come back to temperature and repeat with the rest of the chicken pieces.

For sliders:

8 small brioche rolls

butter for toasting

dill pickle slices

kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese style mayonnaise – can be found in Asian markets and some supermarkets.)

Spread butter on the sliced brioche rolls, and toast until cut sides are golden brown and toasty. Spread each side generously with kewpie mayonnaise and layer pickle slices on the bottom roll. Dredge fried chicken pieces in sauce until well coated, and place on top of the pickles. Cover with the top of the roll and voila!

Pressed Sandwiches are the best sandwiches…

Perfect picnic food

Perfect picnic food

Sandwiches are perfect.

They are portable, they include bread, the filling can be anything you want, they are usually pretty easy to put together, and in this case, they are made ahead of time, so they are great for adventures or weeknight dinners or bag lunches or picnics. And they are really great for summer.

Sandwiches are perfect. These sandwiches are even perfecter.

I have made these a couple different times, most recently for a fundraising meeting at my house on a Tuesday night. I work later than most of the rest of the ladies, and needed something that I could do ahead of time so I wouldn’t spend the whole meeting cooking instead of, you know, meeting. Plus it was hot as blazes that week, and we needed to be able to stay in the living room with the AC.

These can be done with mostly meat or mostly vegetables. They could be completely vegetarian and would be delicious, and I suppose they could be all meat and cheese, though I think they might be a bit one note done that way. I recently did them with various cured meats, some pesto, some provolone and roasted peppers, and they were great. This version included grilled eggplant and squash, pesto, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and sweet capicola on a really good ciabatta that I can get at a bakery in my neighborhood. Next time I might try tapenade or olive spread of some sort. Maybe another meat or cheese or both. You can really do anything your heart desires, but don’t leave out the pesto, because that might be the best part. All the work is done the day or night before, and then the sandwiches get wrapped up and pressed under bricks in the fridge. All you have to do the day you eat them is slice them up.

Plan a picnic, or a boat ride, or a night a roof deck or even a meeting. Invite your friends. Make these sandwiches. Bask in their thanks and awe. Pack them leftovers if you have them. Bask in their thanks once more. And do it in August. It’s national sandwich month!

What I am thinking about when I am not thinking about food:

1. ALL THE BOOKS. I just finished Canada by Richard Ford. It was beautifully written. I have about eleventy hundred still on my list. The problem is they keep publishing more. Someday I am going to find a job that involves copious reading, cooking food, and writing about stuff. And then I will be happy.

2. I, like the rest of humanity, can’t stop listening to Blurred Lines. This is my new favorite version.

3.  I just spent a week with 50 of the loveliest humans I know. They are fun, funny, smart, musical, kind and generous, and I am lucky that they are also my family. We have good times.

Pressed Sandwiches (makes 8 big sandwiches)

One large loaf ciabatta (two smaller would work just fine too. The ones I get are 16 or 18 inches long and about 8 inches wide. You may not be able to find them that big. Two smaller ones would work just fine!)

three large red peppers

two medium summer squash, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

two medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

one large globe eggplant, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices

1 cup of your favorite pesto

12 oz fresh mozzarella sliced in 1/4 inch slices

1/2 lb thinly sliced sweet capicola or prosciutto

olive oil for grilling

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, turning every 15 minutes or so, until the skins are charred and the peppers are soft. Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to steam. Set aside for 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, salt the eggplant slices and let sit on paper towels for 20 minutes or so to remove the bitter liquid. At the same time, heat a grill pan over medium high heat (or an actual grill is even better!) and rub lightly with olive oil. Grill the squash, zucchini, and eggplant when they are finished salting, in batches until cooked through and soft. Set aside.

Remove the roasted peppers from the bowl and peel, stem and seed them. Slice them into wide slices and set aside.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise, and spread the pesto on the bottom half. Layer the cheese over the pesto, followed by a layer of meat. Follow that with the grilled vegetables, then the peppers, then another layer of meat. Put the second piece of bread on top and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Find a spot in the fridge and use bricks, cans or cast iron pans to press the sandwich down overnight.

Slice the day you plan to eat it and enjoy!

layers of goodness

layers of goodness

Buffalo Wings for Football Sunday

It’s really fall. I’m sleeping with blankets, wearing boots to the grocery store, listening the college kids partying into the wee hours and making wings for a football Sunday.

a football classic

…At least the wings were successful.

I’m just going to chalk that Pats performance up to a show of solidarity for that smoking wreckage of a baseball team we have up here right now, and figure we’ll all be moving on next week.

***

Buffalo wings are delicious. And actually pretty easy to make. Ingredients are minimal: hot sauce, butter or margarine, and chicken. I like to add a little salt, pepper and cayenne also. You can technically bake these, and I have. They are fine, and they still taste like buffalo wings, but I’m not going to lie, deep-frying them is better. A bit more work, but not much, and worth it I think. Yep, they are more unhealthy, but we are talking about a recipe in which one of the primary ingredients is butter or margarine, so let’s go all in, shall we?

I have made these for years with butter, but I was just reading the most recent Saveur, and apparently, the original recipe – like the Anchor Bar in Buffalo original recipe – used margarine. Which makes sense, since these were invented in the 60’s. I used margarine today to see if it made a difference, and I am not sure if it does, and since margarine is pretty much poison, I will probably stick to butter in the future. But I did come up with another trick. I tossed the wings in just a little corn starch before I fried them. It doesn’t really make a huge difference in the crispiness, but it gives the sauce something to stick to, so it’s a win!

crisp fried and delicious

Wings are a crowd pleaser. They are messy as anything, but that is half the fun. Obviously, blue cheese dressing is a requirement, and it’s always nice to add celery and carrots for health. And just like that, you can skip the bars and strangers and have delicious wings at home! (If you are like me, this is a dream come true.)

Sunday Funday

Buffalo Wings (makes two dozen wings)

24 chicken wing pieces (from twelve wings, separated, tips removed)

1/4 cups corn starch

3/4 cups hot sauce, like Franks

3/4 cups (1.5 sticks) butter or margarine

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

salt and pepper

Peanut or canola oil (or a combination) for frying

Blue cheese dressing (recipe below) celery and carrots for serving

Heat several inches of oil in a dutch oven or other heavy pot to 350 degrees. Toss the wings with the corn starch and salt and pepper. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, shake off the extra corn starch and add half the wings and fry until crispy and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. When finished cooking, remove the first batch from the oil and drain on paper towels. Let the oil come back to 350 degrees and add the second batch of wings.

In the meantime, cook the hot sauce, butter, cayenne, salt and pepper over low heat until the butter melts. Keep mixture warm over low heat until the wings are finished cooking. Toss the wings in the hot sauce mixture and serve with blue cheese dressing and carrots and celery for dipping.

If you want to bake these, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and toss the wings in half the hot sauce mixture. Lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes until the wings the cooked through. Toss with the rest of the hot sauce mixture and serve.

Blue Cheese Dressing (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tbl white wine vinegar

Splash of red wine vinegar

4 oz blue cheese crumbles

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine sour cream, buttermilk, vinegars, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add blue cheese and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Ginger Scallion Sauce

Oh hello. It’s been awhile…

What’s new? Not much here. Except apparently time travel, because suddenly I looked at the calendar and it’s April, which doesn’t seem possible. Oh also? Apparently Chrissy Teigen – gorgeous lady blogger, SI swimsuit model, fiancee of John Legend – somehow discovered the recipe for Spicy Sesame Noodles with Chicken on here and made them and loved them and then posted about them and linked back to here, so B&G blew up today. So many thanks to her. One of her tweets earlier was that she was packing for a trip to Australia with Erin Andrews and Brooklyn Decker and the background photo on her account is a gorgeous picture of her in her unders – our lives are exactly the same, but opposite – but we can clearly both enjoy the hell out of some noodles! (update: mystery solved – my awesome cousin Danny and his gorgeous girlfriend Kellie brought these to a party that Chrissy attended – my family is fancy…)

Um, so the last couple of weeks (months?)  have involved a trip to Denver to see the littlest, a trip to NYC for a birthday, quality time with my tiny boyfriends Baby L and Baby Dubs, working, the gym, and the other usual stuff. I have been thinking about the blog a lot, but have not actually been cooking all that much because it’s been so busy, so even had I not been suffering from some serious writers’ block (or a serious case of the lazies, not sure which…) I wouldn’t have had much to write about. But things are turning around! And B&G got a bit of a facelift, in case you haven’t noticed…it is making some of the formatting a little wonky but I’ll work on that…

I want to tell you about Ginger Scallion Sauce because it is the greatest thing ever, but in order to do that, I need to start with an apology for my one true chef/celebrity love, Dave Chang…

Oh my heavens.

David, I need to confess something. I’ve been unfaithful. I wanted to make this sauce the minute I first saw it, lo those several Christmases ago when I got your book. And I did, almost immediately. And it was fine, but not great, and I was sad, but wasn’t going to let it turn me away from you. It had to have been my fault right? I couldn’t blame you, I must have executed incorrectly, and you were likely as disappointed in me as I was in you. But it was ok, we would get through it. But then…my eye wandered, and THIS caught my attention. Deep down in my heart I knew it would be Francis. I’ve always had a wee bit of a crush on him too. And so I made his version. David, I’m sorry. It’s better. It’s heaven. But I hope you can forgive me the transgression. You’re still first in my heart. But I can’t promise it will be just that one time. This stuff is too good.

The ingredients

This is a condiment. One of the most flavorful condiments ever. I have mixed it with plain noodles and fried rice, and I’ve eaten it with steak and I’ve eaten it with fish. It would be awesome in soup, and I will add it to the ramen I plan to make later in the month. It is so good that I plan never to be without it again. It is equal parts minced scallions and minced ginger, both of which I did in about 30 seconds in the food processor. Then it gets an almost ungodly amount of salt, and hot oil is poured over it so it sizzles and removes some of the bitterness that ginger and scallions can have raw. It mellows them a little. That is where this version is better than the Momofuku version. I actually finished mine with a splash of light soy sauce as a nod to the version that inspired me, and it is perfection.

With steak and noodles.

Really I can’t say enough good things about this. Just make it and you’ll see.

With noodles and tuna.

Before we go on…

First things first. Please check out my awesome cousin Sam…wish I was half as talented and adventurous!

How come I’m not dating Seth Davis? How have I missed this guy? Anyone know anything about him? Like, for instance, his phone number? Now that March Madness is over he must have some free time, right?

I accidentally saw Tiffany in concert last weekend in New York. It was awesome. I love New York.

What I am reading right now: I am actually too embarrassed to tell you the trash book I’m reading, so let’s just leave it at The New Yorker…

What I am listening to right now: Portraits by The Wheeler Brothers – the band of a guy that studied with my sister in Spain…they are very good.

Craftiness of the week: pillow covers for Al and Dyl and their new apartment…pictures later.

I am in for a few nights of revelry over the next couple of days. It’s my birthday, and I decided drinking is a better option than crawling in a hole and crying. See you on the flip side.

Ginger Scallion Sauce (makes about 1.5 cups)

adapted from Francis Lam and Momofuku

1 ounce ginger, peeled and cut into one inch pieces

1 bunch scallions, roots and ends trimmed, both white and green parts cut into one inch pieces

1/2 cup peanut or grapeseed oil

Splash of light soy sauce

More kosher salt than you think you need

Pulse ginger in a food processor until finely minced. You do not want to puree it, so pay close attention as you are doing it. Put ginger into a large heat proof bowl. Not kidding about the large part or the heat proof part. Do both of those things for real. Pulse the scallions in the food processor (no need to wash it in between) until they are finely minced and add them to the ginger. Throw a good pinch of salt in the bowl and set aside while you heat the oil.

Heat the oil over medium heat just until you see the first wisp of smoke. Be careful. It will be quite hot at this point. Pour the oil over the ginger scallion mixture and step back because it will splatter and smell awesome. Stir the mixture together and add a splash of soy sauce and more salt and let it cool. Add it to everything in the world because it is so delicious.

 

Chicken Tinga Tacos…one of my new favorites

You guys are going to love me for this...

I’m sick again. I may have discovered the kink in my plan to be a person that sleeps less and accomplishes more. All I want to do is lay around, drink smoothies and eat chicken soup. This is on the stove as I type. I’m hoping that by virtue of the almost insane amount of ginger in there, I might actually be able to smell and taste it when it’s finished. It would be about the only thing.

Perhaps my most favorite recent discovery, Chicken Tinga Tacos will likely be in the rotation for some time. I spotted these in the pages of Food & Wine, and may have skipped right over them, but for a recent celebration of Taco Tuesday with the gals at La Verdad, where the Chicken Tingas were our favorite tacos of the evening.

From my very scientific web searches on the topic, it appears Tinga is a stew of braised chicken, pork or beef, with tomatoes, onions, garlic and chipotles in adobo. Which is good, because that’s what it is in this recipe, so it appears we’re on the right track. A couple of the recipes I saw also called for Mexican chorizo (definitely different than Spanish chorizo, if you are reading a recipe that specifies you definitely want to get the right one, Spanish chorizo has the very distinctly flavored Pimenton in the mix, Mexican chorizo uses chile peppers.) I am sure that would also be quite delicious.

This recipe calls for chipotles in adobo. I have mentioned them before for the Chilequiles, and when I finally get a B&G Pantry page together for your viewing pleasure they will definitely be on it. They are spicy and smoky and add a ton of flavor and background smoke and some excellent heat to things. They are also potent. A little goes a long way. I am guessing you can find them in most grocery stores. Whole Foods carries them, and any market with a decent international section probably does too. (I wonder if my dad can get them? I think yes, even in good old small town CT he can find them, so it is looking good for the rest of you.)  They last pretty much forever in the fridge so don’t be afraid to buy a can or two if you see them. They look so innocuous, but they are spicy. Chipotles are, after all, smoke dried jalapeños, and the seeds are still in there.

This would be a great dinner during the week, it only takes about an hour, and better yet, I think the Tinga would only get better with time, though I can’t say I’ve had many leftovers to test this theory. There is also something that feels very Sunday about it, probably the braising part, even though it is a short braise. It also would be great game day food, and easy for a group. I served it the first time with a combo of hard shells* and soft shells – the hard shells won the day – and it would also be great as a tostada topping, or for nachos, or probably on a roll of some sort like pulled pork. And also just with a fork. Or any spare tortilla chips you might have hanging around. (*Do me a favor next time you are making tacos of any kind, heat some oil in a frying pan ¼ – ½ inch, I’d say, fry corn tortillas until they start to get just a bit stiff, then fold them over so they are taco shell-like and fry for another minute until they are just barely brown and crispy, but not stiff and shatter-y like those gross ones you buy in a box. Truly, it makes a world of difference and takes very little work.)

someday we'll talk about that corn...

There are really only a couple of steps. First you brown the chicken thighs in a little oil, then take the chicken out and add some sliced onion. Let it soften and brown a little, then add the garlic, cook for a minute longer, and then add the tomatoes, chipotles in adobo and chicken stock. This combo simmers for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off for a couple minutes and let it cool slightly, then puree it in a blender, add it back to the pan and add the chicken back in.

pureed

Simmer for another 20-30 minutes and voila! Shred the chicken and you are ready to serve.

shredded

I serve mine with corn tortillas, either fried into hard shells or just warmed in foil in the oven. Cotija cheese is a must, and I like avocado and something pickled too, radishes or red onion. And finish it with a squeeze of lime.

toppings

Hold UP. I think, I THINK I just saw a commercial for TGI Fridays that involved allusions to romance and cute bartenders. Is Fridays a martini bar now? With an app and entree combo for $10? When did that happen?

Is there ANOTHER GOP debate tonight? Are there more debates this primary season than ever before? Doesn’t it seem that way?

I am trying to turn over a new leaf in 2012. I am trying not to let people annoy me for no reason. It’s their life, and if they want to jump around like a fool like the Sweaty McHeadband in my kickboxing class, or kill themselves with cancer sticks like half the people I get stuck behind walking to work, that’s their problem, not mine. It means I will be putting the next blog I wanted to start, peopleiwanttopunchintheface.wordpress.com on the back burner for the time being. Here’s to new beginnings!

I’ve gotten locked in my bathroom twice in the last week. I thought I was going to waste away on the floor of the smallest bathroom in the world. It was terrifying so I took the doorknob off. Now there is no doorknob, but also no chance of getting locked in there. Probably time to talk to the landlord.

I am currently obsessed with Ryan Adams’ “Easy Tiger.”

I am reading The Line of Beauty, and am having difficulty getting into it, but that is probably because I don’t get in bed to read until about 11pm and one of my eyes is already pretty much shut from exhaustion.

This is awesome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9NF2edxy-M

So is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF9-sEbqDvU and this (even better): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta9K22D0o5Q&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

And now, please enjoy your Tinga…

Chicken Tinga Tacos (serves 6-8, probably with leftovers)

adapted from Food & Wine

1/4 cup plus 2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

2 1/2 lbs trimmed, skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 large garlic cloves, minced

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 canned chipotles in adobo, coarsely chopped

1 cup chicken broth

24 corn tortillas

Cotija cheese, avocado, pickled onions, slaw or toppings of your choice

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 12 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and pour off the fat.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and then add the onion. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned and softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the chipotles and the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, 20 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a food processor and let cool for 15 minutes. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Add the sauce back to the pan and add the chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Simmer the sauce and chicken over medium low heat until the meat is tender and the sauce is very thick and darkened around the edges. Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven for about 10 minutes or fry into hard shells.

Shred the meat, spoon about 3 tablespoons of chicken onto each tortilla and sprinkle with the crumbled cheese and toppings of your choice.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Working my way back to you babe – Scallion Pancakes for the (Chinese) new year…

Happy New Year!

It’s 2012! How did that happen?

This post is a total cop out. Two months I’ve been gone. TWO MONTHS! And all I have for you is this dumb recipe. Just kidding, it’s delicious. It’s not dumb at all. There’s just not much to it. There are approximately four ingredients and one of them is water. But somehow, in spite of its simplicity, it is a delight.

Scallion pancakes are one of my most favorite Chinese take out treats. They are crispy and delicious and taste like scallions and you get to dip them in soy sauce. Please tell me one thing that is bad about that?

And, bonus, they are very easy to make.

start with the flour

Flour in a bowl. Add a little salt.

Flour and water

Add boiling water to the mix and stir it (not with your hands, because it’s hot.)

When the dough starts looking shaggy, take it out of the bowl and clump it together on the counter. You won’t need much flour on the counter, as this is a pretty dry dough, but have a little there to be safe.

shaggy

Clump the dough into a ball and start kneading. It will take anywhere from five to ten minutes of kneading to get the dough where you want it.

after one minute

after four minutes

after nine minutes

You should knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Then cover the dough with a damp towel and let it sit for 30 minutes while you do something else. Slice the green parts of some scallions, perhaps. Or make a dipping sauce (soy sauce, chopped scallions, a couple drops of sesame oil, and a splash of rice wine or rice vinegar.) Or watch a sitcom. Or something else you like to do. I don’t know, I don’t know your life.

After the dough has rested for 30 minutes it will be even smoother and stretchier, if you can believe it. Cut the dough into eight pieces (I find cutting it in slivers like a pie is the easiest.) Then the fun part begins. Roll each piece of dough into a circle. They are not going to be very big, please see the photo below for a gauge. That is my creepy hand next to the dough.

about the size of my hand...which is a helpful measure for the rest of you...

It’s a wonder I haven’t made it as a hand model.

Then brush the round with sesame oil and sprinkle with chopped scallions.

brushed and sprinkled

But you’re not done yet. Now you roll it into a cylinder, like you were rolling a…umm…rug, or something.

a scallion pancake taquito

Then role THAT cylinder into a pinwheel thing. Like so…

scallion pancake snail...now with more creepy hand

And NOW, and now, stick with me one more minute, roll the snail into another scallion filled pancake…

aaaaand, we're done!

And now all that’s left is frying them up. You don’t need much oil for these, and you don’t need much time either. They fry up in minutes. These are not huge, the ones I’ve gotten from Chinese restaurants are bigger. If that is what you’d prefer, I suspect you could just divide the dough into four or six pieces and roll them out bigger. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot, drop one of the pancakes in the pan, and watch it carefully, it will be ready to flip in a minute or two.

fried

I have found the pancakes will sometimes puff up in the  middle a little and the edges will get crispy while the center does not. I found pressing gently on the center of the pancake when it first goes into the oil helps that.

Once you flip it, the second side cooks even faster than the first. When it is browned to your likeness, take the pancake out of the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt, cut in quarters and serve with dipping sauce. Delectable Chinese take out with out the take out!

scallion pancakes at home

I think I would like to get this out before another New Year passes – and incidentally, it just so happens that the celebrations for the Chinese New Year are beginning (I believe the actual date is January 23rd) so make these and raise a glass to the Year of the Dragon – so I will wrap this up. But (and I know I say this a lot) I have so many things to discuss with you. This month’s project is noodles. Udon, ramen, and egg yolk filled ravioli, which I have been working on forever and can’t manage to perfect. But I am getting closer. And I want to share it with you. And I want to do some new things for “Meatless Mondays” and I want to talk about soup. And so many things. And I miss this little spot. So I will be back. Stick around.

Scallion Pancakes (makes 8 four inch pancakes)

Adapted from Delicious Days.

1 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for rolling out the pancakes

Pinch of Salt

1/2 cup water

1 bunch of scallions, green parts only, sliced into thin rounds

2 tbls sesame oil

canola or other neutral oil for frying

Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Boil the water and add to the flour slowly. Stir the dough until it is shaggy and cool enough to touch. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and pliable, anywhere from five to ten minutes. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

After the dough has rested, cut into 8 equal pieces. One at a time, roll the dough pieces into thin rounds, approximately four inches across. Brush sesame oil onto the dough with a pastry brush, and sprinkle on a couple pinches of the scallions. Roll the dough round up like a cigar, and then roll the cigar into a pinwheel shape as shown above. Press the edge lightly to seal the round, and then roll again into a think 4 inch pancake. Set aside, and repeat with the remaining dough. As you complete the pancakes, pile them up with aluminum foil or parchment paper in between them.

Heat just enough oil to cover the bottom of the frying pan over medium heat until hot. Fry the pancakes one or two at a time in the oil until the bottom is brown and crispy, 1-2 minutes, and then flip, doing the same to the second side. Remove the pancakes to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt, cut each pancake into quarters, and serve with a dipping sauce.

Enjoy!

Empanadas, finally…

Oh empanadas, I so wish you were pretty. You are just so beige.

empanadas!

But you deserve so  much more! I want you to be as fantastic on the outside as you are on the inside! I know it’s the inside that counts, but still, it doesn’t seem fair…sigh.

I made these for the first time at least six months ago, and they really are some of the most delicious things I have ever made, but I have been hesitant to share them with you because they really aren’t very pretty. Mostly my fault, as crimping empanada dough is apparently my kryptonite and they just end up looking so haggard all the time, but also because their natural hue is kind of yellowish and the lighting in my house does them no favors. Same could be said for banana bread, which I can not manage to get a good picture of…working on it.

The recipe is initially from Gourmet, but I discovered it on Smitten Kitchen. She made these back in 2007 and at the time said they were one of the best things she ever made, which I figured was saying a lot. They did not disappoint. Empanadas are Spanish, and the guess is that they were an adaptation of the samosas brought to Spain by the Moors. They then made their way to South America, and that seems to be now where they are most enjoyed. They can be filled with anything, but often they include olives and raisins, which are a interesting and delicious combo of sweet and salty. These have olives and raisins, as well as chicken and chorizo and a lot of onions.

filled

The chicken gets browned and then finished in with the rest of the filling which gets quite saucy. The chicken gets shredded and the finished filling is a delight.

filling

My issues come with the forming of the empanadas…I can not get them to look good. Crimping dough is the worst and I just can’t do it so they look pretty. It’s annoying. The dough itself is great, butter, flour, eggs and vinegar. I, taking Deb’s advice, sub in some whole wheat flour and have really liked the results.

There’s really not much else to say about these other than they are just SO good. They freeze well after baking, and they are good room temperature, but better warm. They are great for parties, or watching games, or bringing in for lunches or pretty much any time. They do take some time to make and put together, but they are so worth it. Make them. Make them now, or as soon as you have a couple of hours. Seriously. You will be very popular.

heaven

Some thoughts for a Sunday:

1. ARNOLD! What. The. Hell? You know what I would be angriest about? Not that it happened in the first place (though, also, yes, potential future husband, I WILL be mad if it happens in the first place) but that he supported the kid for MORE THAN TEN YEARS without telling her, and then, AND THEN, only when it would no longer hurt his political career did he mention it. Ultimate worst husband ever.

2. Watching The Social Network. Armie Hammer is cuuuuute.

3. Trying to trade out my summer and winter clothes even though it’s May and it’s 50 degrees. Why do I live in Boston?

4. I finished Freedom. I liked The Corrections better.

5. Did I mention the headwear when I was discussing my desire to be British? Because that’s really the best part. The hats and the polo. I need hats to be a thing here, and pronto.

6. I’ve never had a banh mi sandwich and I would like to change that…there might be a lunch adventure in my future, I’ll have a do some research and find out where to get a good one.

7. I need a visit to San Francisco stat. It has been way too long. Being there recharges my batteries.

Empanadas with Chicken and Chorizo (makes 2 dozen)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Gourmet

Dough:

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (sub in 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour if you’d like)

3 tsp salt

2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 large eggs

2/3 cup ice water

2 tbls distilled white vinegar

Filling:

3 whole chicken legs, including thighs (2 to 2 1/4 pounds total)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

4 1/2 tbl olive oil

2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California

1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; 1 1/2 oz; casings discarded if desired)

1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika (not hot)

1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Egg Wash:

One egg, beaten

1 tbl water

Make Dough: Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into two flat rectangles and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.

Make Filling: Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning over once, about 6 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Sauté onions, garlic, and bay leaves in fat remaining in skillet, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add olives, raisins, wine, and broth and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes total.

Transfer chicken to a clean plate. (Sauce in skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if it’s not, briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and coarsely chop meat. Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes.

Fill and Bake: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Divide the dough into two dozen equal pieces. Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick).

Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make the remaining empanadas the same way, arranging on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

delectable

Chilaquiles

Only one week between posts? Woo-hoo! I rule!

And IIIIIIII-ey-IIIIIIIIII will always love you...

Chilaquiles are my new best friend. (To those that currently hold that dubious distinction, I hope you are ready for competition…er, company.) Chilaquiles kind of defy definition, except that they don’t because they are a Mexican staple of stale tortilla chips in a chile sauce that is generally eaten for brunch, and I just defined them, except that they are so much more than that. They can be “plain,” they can be done in a red chile sauce or a green chile sauce, the sauce can be tomato based, you can top them with chicken or make them completely vegetarian, or in my case you can top them with some classic favorites, cotija cheese, diced onion, sour cream and avocado.

This is one of those recipes that shouldn’t have sucked me in, but did. I was reading Matt Bites and he takes such pretty pictures, and there were chips! And cheese! And I was intrigued, so I saved it in my recipes link list that gets longer and longer and longer every day, and I picked up some tortillas last time I was at the grocery store, and let them hang out in the fridge until I found a good time to make these. It happened on Sunday.

Last weekend seemed really long, but not in a good way really…I mean, not bad, exactly, just LONG. I had a long night on Friday, both good and less good, and then Saturday I volunteered in the morning and my volunteering job was making lunch for 35 in three hours. I made enchiladas, and they were very tasty, but I was totally beat afterwards…anyway, by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, I needed a pick me up, and I thought Chilaquiles, even though it is traditionally a breakfast or brunch dish(?) would do the trick.

Oooh-wee, I was correct.

First things first, I made the chips. You don’t technically HAVE to make the chips, but actually, yes you do, because they are so easy, and I can’t even a little bit imagine this with bagged tortilla chips…yeah, no, don’t do that.

Making tortilla chips really couldn’t be easier. And not easy like “shut up Meghan you’re an idiot -fill in the blank here- is not easy it’s super annoying when you say things like that,” easy, it’s actually easy. Heat oil over medium high until it is good and hot in a frying pan a couple inches deep. Cut corn tortillas (taco sized) in quarters. Fry without over crowding the pan. I did eight at a time in a 12″ cast iron skillet, I’d do six at a time in a 10″ skillet. Fry for two minutes or so until they are starting to look golden, flip once, fry for another minute, remove to paper towels and salt. Dunzo. Cooking enough chips for this dish (I started with an 11 oz bag of tortillas which was 12 of them) took me approximately 15 minutes of not hard work. I even drank wine while I did it. Incidentally, if you are looking to impress guests or just to enjoy the heck out of your next batch of guacamole, I would recommend this as well. I mean, sometimes you just want a delicious chip asap, but if you have a minute and your guests aren’t rolling their eyes at you because you are making them wait and all they want is some stupid guacamole for crying out loud, you should try this. Note though, I wouldn’t do this the day before if I was using them for chips and dip, but I would totally do this the day before if I was using them for chilaquiles. So, to that end, next time you are having non-eye-rolling guests, make some for your dips and then make extra for the next day’s breakfast. If you do know some eye rollers, make Chilaquiles for them, perhaps you will get an apology for the eye roll.

Once the chips are done, You just need 15-20 minutes for the rest and you are good to go.

This version, which is the one Matt picked, wisely because it is a Rick Bayliss recipe and I love him (also though? The Rick Bayliss recipe is pretty much exactly what is on Martha Stewarts’s site with absolutely no credit to Rick, and while for somethings she may reign supreme, I SUSPECT she did not create this recipe nor come up with almost exactly the same thing on her own given that the use of chipotles in adobo is different from most other recipes. Sorry Martha, I am going to give credit to Rick on this one, nice try, get your minions in line, they’re getting too big for their britches…)

Anyhoodle, puree a can of whole tomatoes with two chipotles in adobo. You can find them in a can in the Mexican food section of the grocery store (Also, I am adding them to my pantry list from last post. Stock up on them, they’re great.)

Brown onions in oil and then add garlic, then the tomato mixture and reduce for a minute or two…then chicken stock and reduce for another couple more minutes.

browned

simmering

then you add the chips, and that, my friends, is it. Top it with whatever your little heart desires. Cotija cheese, Mexican crema or sour cream, chopped onion and scallions, shredded chicken, poached eggs, the possibilities are endless.

delightful

The chipotles in adobo are spicy and smokey and are really well balanced by the tomato. You have to eat these right away, because the best part is that in between time when the chips get soaked in the sauce and aren’t really crispy anymore but aren’t soggy. The soggy part happens pretty quickly though, so there are no leftovers here. Get them while they’re hot. And make them soon, I promise you won’t be sorry. And use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock if you want to go vegetarian. Easy peasy.

And now, as has become the norm, I leave you with some thoughts.

1. I watched The Fighter. Hadn’t seen it. AWESOME. Great movie. Christian Bale was fantastic, of course, but he will always be Jack Kelly to me. (I have not given up my no tv for Lent quest. I had set the ability to watch a pay per view movie now and again as a parameter ahead of time…)

2. In contrast to the prior weekend, this past weekend was one of those times when I realize just how lucky I am. Between my awesome family and my incredible friends, I have some very very awesome people in my life.

3. Five words for you: Lionel Richie station on Pandora. You are welcome. All thanks go to the Swiamse household for that tidbit.

4. My tournament bracket is destroyed. Notre Dame and Louisville killed me.

5. I need this…or maybe two. That and a $700 camera and I’d be in business. I pick expensive hobbies.

6. I have a pet peeve people. I know you are surprised. I hate the idea of vegan “cheese.” I think it is usally made out of ground pressed nuts. I don’t mind the idea of a spread made out of ground pressed nuts. In fact, if you said “I made this delicious vegan spread with nuts!” I would probably say “ooh, that sounds delightful, let me try it!” But if you say, “hey look, I made vegan “cheese” made out of nuts” I am going to say…”does not compute, not cheese.” I am not saying the spread wouldn’t be delicious, but I am fairly confident it would not be similar enough to cheese to make me think I am actually eating cheese, in which case, I will be disappointed. And I know that people say it DOES taste like cheese, but I don’t believe it. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that ground nuts in any form are going to taste like Goat Gouda. I’m just saying, don’t call it cheese.

And now, as I continue to plow through life leaving offence in my wake, It’s probably time to wrap this up…

Chilaquiles (serves 3-4)

(adapted from Matt Bites)

1 can of whole tomatoes (28 oz), drained with 1/4 cup of the liquid reserved

2 whole chipotles in adobo

1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, three-quarters sliced thinly, one-quarter in a fine dice

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

8 ounces tortilla chips

¼ cup Cotija cheese

1/3 cup sour cream or Mexican crema

¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Toppings of your choice (shredded chicken, avocado, eggs, cilantro, chorizo, pickled onions, steak…I could go on and on.)

If you’re making your own tortilla chips, simply fry pieces of corn tortillas in hot oil until golden brown and then drain on paper towel.

In a blender, add the canned tomatoes and the reserved liquid and the two chipotle peppers. Blend until smooth.

In a large deep skillet (I used my high sided saute pan, a cast iron skillet is probably not deep enough,) heat the oil and the sliced onion (not the green) and cook over high heat until browned, 7-8 minutes (since it’s over high heat pay attention here so they don’t burn.) Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and chipotle puree and simmer for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the chicken stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat until it reduces a bit, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Gently stir the tortilla chips into the chile sauce, making sure they’re totally coated in sauce. Top the chips with the diced onion, the green onions, a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream or crema and your chosen toppings. Eat these right away, they are not good once they are too soggy. You are going to like these a whole lot.

Scallion Cheddar Quickbreads…

scallion and cheddar bread-y things that are not muffins...

Here’s another one from the Great Recipe Rescue of Aught Ten. They are delicious, they are savory, they are perfect for most any meal, they would be great with chili or pulled pork or barbeque, they are great with butter on them, but shock of all shocks, are even better on their own, but they ARE NOT muffins, even if Food & Wine tried to tell me they are.

These actually start out like a tart dough

early on

Essentially you cut butter into flour and salt, except that the flour also has cayenne and baking powder in the mix. (The cayenne pepper, by the way, is a delightful addition.) Then you add cheese, minced scallions and milk, and stir it until you have a dough that is very biscuit dough-like. Cake and muffin batter is wet and can be poured. This, not so much. This was a dough. The recipe suggested mini muffin tins, but I was immediately averse to that idea, for reasons I can not put my finger on, so I did a regular muffin tin, and ended up with a dozen.

ready for baking...

I baked them for about 25 minutes and they were golden and savory and looked like drop biscuits. They are dense but not at all heavy, and they are moist. They didn’t rise above the top of the muffin tin, so they end up pretty small, just a couple of bites of delight. They should be eaten warm. I ate two almost immediately. I froze most of the rest of them, but kept one out for the next day. It was not good room temperature, it was chewy and heavy. I did defrost and reheat one, and it was delightful, so feel free to make them and freeze them, but definitely reheat. These little nuggets need to be eaten warm. Make these next time you are eating chili or pretty much anything on the grill. And call them quick breads. Thank you.

White Cheddar and Scallion Quick Breads (makes 12)

Food & Wine, October 2006

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tbl cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup very finely chopped scallion greens

3 oz. extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbls cold milk

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin (or two 12-cup mini muffin tins if you choose.)

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne. Using two knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with some small pieces of butter still visible. Add the scallions, cheese and milk and stir with a wooden spoon just until the dough comes together.

Scoop the dough into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. (Can be frozen and reheated, still serve warm.)

savory delight

Football Snacks: Cheddar Cheese Dip, Olive Tapenade and Melted Onions…

I should know better. I read a lot of food blogs. A lot. And I have the nerve to get annoyed when they don’t post regularly enough for my taste and I have to wait longer than I feel is appropriate to get my fix. I don’t care if they are having babies, opening restaurants, generally in a funk or anything else. I want to read posts. And then I do exactly the same thing, except worse because I ACTUALLY HAVE NOTHING ELSE GOING ON… So I am going to try my darndest to not get annoyed at these lovely folks for several reasons: one, because I have absolutely no right to. Who do I think I am? Just because I check for updates every day, because I have nothing better to do, doesn’t mean I can expect them to post to my whims; and two: because I am a blog reading junkie and I think I need to tone it down. It might be more detrimental to my life than all of the other terrible habits I have, so I am going to work on it; and third: as I sometimes have to tell colleagues, why don’t we stop worrying about what other people are doing, and just worry about ourselves, ok? And then I curse myself for sounding like a mom, when I am, in fact, no such thing. They totally deserve it, but still. (That makes me sound like I am totally insufferable to work with. I am not. There were extenuating circumstances that required a firm hand. Usually I am a pleasure.)

I will make one excuse for myself and my irregular posting though, and that is that my wireless connection totally stinks and at times will just crap out for zero reason that I can tell, and then my computer gets into the act, and won’t reconnect to the signal without having to restart it, and then I lose a bunch of stuff that I just worked so hard on, which makes me want to throw my computer against the wall. So it is the perfect storm of crapitude that makes posting way more annoying than it should be. I am in the market for a new computer, so I will be able to see if this is a computer issue or a wireless issue, and if it is a wireless issue, watch out Verizon, my patience is wearing thin.

So on with it. Since Superbowl Sunday is soon upon us, I thought I would share some recipes that get A LOT of play around here. They are all dips of sorts, and are great for cocktail parties, football Sundays, or an after work snack. All three are super easy, and if you are anything like me, there is a chance you will have most of what you need on hand at any given time…

The first one I almost hesitate to share, because it might reveal me as a fraud of sorts. People go wild for this, and it is the easiest thing I have ever made in my life. It is embarrassing it is so easy, and when people ask what it is, they rarely believe me when I tell them. I feel like there should be some super secret ingredient or step, but there is not…

This is referred to simply as cheese dip. Because that’s what it is. This has been served in some form at almost every holiday I can remember, as well as every single time all the kids are around my parents’ house, and every time I have people over, and sometimes when I don’t. It is a nice thing to whip up as a bonus snack, especially if there are kids around, because kids don’t like much sometimes, but they like this…

This is how it starts…

whoa. stand back.

I like to use sharp cheddar for the flavor, but you could use a milder one if you would like. And you could use orange cheddar if you would like. It won’t offend my sensibilities. As far as supermarket cheddar goes, I like Cabot. The cheese needs to be grated, and because I am really lazy, I generally run it through the food processor to accomplish this. Then I mince the white and light and medium green parts of three or four scallions, depending on their size. And I loathe to admit this, but I have actually minced the scallions in the food processor, changed the blade, and grated the cheese, and then dumped the whole thing in a bowl, but I felt so lazy after that I have only done it once.

Anyway, the grated cheddar and the minced scallions go into a bowl.

almost finished.

Add a pinch of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of pepper, and then mayo. I am not going to lie, I have never measured the mayo until I decided to make this for the blog, so I was curious myself to find out how much went in there. As it turns out, I used a 1/4 cup. Who would have guessed? Probably plenty of people, but I had never given it much thought.

So add the mayo, and mix with a fork until it is all combined. And that’s it. Finished. You can make this ahead of time-my mom actually prefers to, because she likes the flavor better the next day- but I would take it out of the fridge a bit before you serve it. It is much better at room temperature, like most cheese. I like this best with Stoned Wheat crackers.

Finished.

Dip number two is a bit more civilized, and while is has more ingredients, it is not exactly much more difficult. This is an olive tapenade that I have adapted from this Jacques Pepin cookbook.

Chez Jacques

Jacques and I are tight. I was introduced to this lovely book at a wine lunch that my dad did through the store and a restaurant near my parents’ house. I took the day off, picked up my Gram, and we headed down for a lovely lunch where the chefs adapted some of the recipes from the book, and Jacques was there signing cookbooks and being generally lovely. Like I said, he and I? Tight.

The tapenade starts like this.

Raw materials

Pitted kalamata olives, dried figs, anchovies, garlic, capers, fresh mint, honey and olive oil. More ingredients than the last one, but no harder. Essentially all the ingredients go into the food processor, but I like to quarter the figs first, as they are fairly hard, and then I like to run the figs and garlic through the processor first, to make sure they get chopped finely enough. After that, everything else goes in.

into the processor...

And then I run the processor until the tapenade has the consistency that I want, and voila. That’s it. I like to serve this best with toasted ciabatta or baguette. It is salty and sweet with a hint of mint. It is really quite good. Jacques actually calls for 8 anchovy filets, but I have found that the longer this sits the more pronounced the anchovy flavor gets. And since I often don’t finish this in one sitting, I prefer fewer anchovies.

Olive-y goodness.

This is a slightly more civilized football dip. Your guests will be very impressed.

Lastly, one I like to call melted onions. My dad made this for us once, and I loved it. I will suggest this is the most difficult of the three, but that is a bit misleading, because it is not actually difficult at all, it just requires a bit more time. The ingredients are yellow onions, butter, fresh thyme if you have it lying around, a little bit of chicken stock and a splash of balsamic vinegar. The onions are sliced, put in a sauté pan (with a lid) with A LOT of butter and some thyme, and cooked over really low heat until they are practically liquid. The chicken stock and balsamic get added at the very end, and the results are extra delicious. The key is actually NOT to let the onions brown and caramelize, you just want them to melt (hence “melted onions.”)

looks innocent...

I use two of the really large yellow onions, or four medium ones, but this can be adjusted up or down really easily.

into the frying pan...

Into the frying pan over low heat with SIX tablespoons of butter and a hefty pinch of salt. And just cook and cook and cook. Always on low heat.

After 10 minutes (I forgot to add the thyme from the start.)

After 20 minutes (at this point I put the lid on the pan.)

After 30 minutes...

After 40 minutes...starting to get closer.

50 minutes (plus black pepper and chicken stock)

At this point I taste and taste to determine when they are finished. When the onions are ready they should have absolutely no bite, both in mouthfeel and in onion flavor. It usually takes about an hour.

After about an hour, with the balsamic vinegar...

I like to serve this with toasted ciabatta or baguette as well:

And onions are served.

and the nice thing about this, is that if it is not eaten right away, it keeps for a long time, and can be used for all sorts of things. I came up with an egg dish during free week (post still to follow) that used this, because I had some in the fridge from NYE, and I have eaten said egg dish about 27 times since I came up with it. Including yesterday for breakfast. So there you go.

All of these are delicious. I can’t even pick a favorite. I just wouldn’t be fair. Make them and see.

Here are the recipes.

Cheese Dip

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (I like Cabot)

3-4 scallions (depending on size) white and light green parts minced

1/4 cup mayonnaise (I think anything but Hellman’s tastes weird, but that is just me. For the love of all that is holy, do NOT use Miracle Whip. Gross. Also, it’s not mayonnaise.

Salt and pepper to taste

Grate the cheddar cheese, combine with minced scallions, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add mayonnaise and mix with a fork to combine. (There should be enough mayo to just hold it together, but feel free to adjust to your liking.) Serve with crackers (preferably Red Oval Farms Stoned Wheat Thins…but now I am just being bossy.)

Olive  Tapenade (adapted from Chez Jacques)

1/2 lb pitted kalamata olives drained of any liquid (the measurement is approximate, I pick up one of the more full looking deli containers from Whole Foods and it always works out just fine)

2 cloves garlic, peeled

6 dried figs, quartered (I use dried black mission figs, also from Whole Foods. They quite hard when dried, not like raisins. They are about the size of a large marble maybe.)

2 tbl capers, rinsed of any salt or drained of any liquid

4 anchovy filets, rinsed of any oil or salt.

15-20 small mint leaves – I generally twist a fist full off a fresh bunch. This is also to taste, feel free to use less to start and add more to your liking.

black pepper to taste

1 tbl honey

1/4 cup good olive oil

toasted bread or crackers for serving

Put the dried figs and garlic in the food processor with a steel blade and pulse a couple of times until both are chopped fairly small. Add the rest of the ingredients to the processor and pulse until you have the consistency you want. Serve with toasted bread. This recipe is very flexible, so feel free to mess with proportions until you find your perfect combo.

Melted Onions (from Dad)

6 tbl butter

2 large or 4 medium yellow onions (about 1.5 lbs-ish) halved and sliced thin.

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1/4 cup chicken stock

salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy frying or sauté pan with a lid over low heat. Add the sliced onions, thyme and a generous pinch of salt. Cook the onions stirring occasionally, over low heat until they start to release their water. Make sure they are not browning and burning. After about 15 or 20 minutes, put the top on the pan, and let the onions continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they lose all firmness and onion-y bite. Taste the onions to test  for doneness. At about the 45-50 minute mark, add the chicken stock and stir, do not replace the lid, stir a bit more frequently as the chicken stock cooks off. Add black pepper and more salt to taste. Add balsamic vinegar, start with about a tablespoon. It should be enough to darken the onions slightly and add a sweetness and tang. Cook for about five minutes more. Serve with toasted bread.

tapenade redux.

PS WordPress? May we have a word? I would prefer if you didn’t call every word I use that is longer than 6 letters a complex phrase. If I want to use the word detrimental, I want to use it. I don’t want to use harmful. And if I want to say frequently instead of often I will. Seriously, who is programming this function?