Sunday, July 26, 2009

Farmstand Asian Slaw

Farmstand Asian Slaw, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

I was inspired to make this slaw after reading this article in Food & Wine about quick pickles. I like to make pickles & relish, but generally process them in a waterbath; these are faster to make, but more perishable.

The beauty of making relishes like this is you can throw in whatever you have on hand or looks good at the market and then find the appropriate seasoning to mix with the veggies. At the Tower Grove Farmers' Market on Saturday I found really crisp cabbage sprouts, bean sprouts, carrots & red peppers, so I started thinking about an Asian slaw, plus I knew I had garlic, ginger & rice vinegar on hand.

Talk about simple - I washed & chopped all the vegetables into thin strips and placed them in 2 qt jars, and topped them with the Curry Quick Pickles brine recipe. This should keep for a month in the fridge. I tried it out this morning and the flavors are already there - tangy, sweet, salty, & peppery with a satisfying crunch from the fresh veggies.

A more zingy title for this might be "Country Kimchi" but since it doesn't have fermented cabbage it's not reeeeeally kimchi, so I didn't want to offend any purists.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Skillet Nachos

Skillet Nachos
Originally uploaded by TagDragon

I love nachos. They are one of my favorite foods. Whether as cheese dip, individual single layer chips, or piled high; they’re all good. I also love to grill. So, why not put the two together. Just assemble, heat on the grill, and dig in. These are a great outdoor party appetizer and everyone will rave and ask “why didn’t I think of this?”

1 ½ cups Tomatoes – diced
¾ cup Scallions, white and green parts – sliced
15 ounces Black Beans – rinsed and drained
2 cups finely shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ teaspoon Ancho Chile Pepper
3 fresh Jalapeno Peppers - sliced
Assorted White, Yellow, and Blue Tortilla Chips
1 cup Sour Cream

Preheat outdoor grill to Medium heat.

Combine the cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper, and ancho chile pepper in a small bowl and mix together. In a large cast iron skillet, 10 inches or larger, arrange a layer of assorted chips and top with 1/3 of each the tomatoes, scallions, black beans, cheddar cheese, and jalapeno peppers. Repeat with two more layers of chips and toppings. You may want to build a kind of “chip wall” around the outside edge of the skillet to keep toppings from tumbling off the sides.

Place skillet on grill and heat for 10 – 12 minutes with the lid closed.

Serve with sour cream. Makes 6 appetizer potions.

Feel free to adjust the heat with more or less cayenne and ancho chile pepper; more sliced jalapeno; or seeded jalapeno. Pickled jalapenos work just fine too. Don’t be worried if the outside edges of some of the chips get brown and burnt. It just adds to the flavor and experience of Skillet Nachos.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Maque choux

Maque choux, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

Here's another unrecipe for this simple & delicious Cajun staple:

Chop: 1/2 lb bacon, 1 medium yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 jalapeño pepper (seeded), 1 bunch parsley

Grill: 2 ears of sweet corn, husks removed to grill. Here's how I grill corn. Cut corn from the cobs.

Grab: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 can of chicken broth & a 1/4 cup (or so) of cream

Fry bacon until crispy & brown. Remove to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2T of the oil. Stir in onions & red pepper, cook until softened but not browned. Add salt, cayenne, corn, garlic & jalapeño and cook 1min more (beware of burning the garlic).

Stir in 1/2 can of chicken broth, scraping up browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add in the cream (more or less depending on your desired texture) and heat through.

Serve it now or keep it warm & covered at the back of the stove. Monitor the liquid and add more broth or cream accordingly. Once you're ready to serve, stir in the bacon & parsley. This keeps well in the fridge for 2 or 3 days afterwards and even better, the flavors keep developing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Margherita Orzo Salad

Margherita Orzo Salad, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

This is one of those perfect salads/sides you can throw together in about 20 minutes. It's so simple it doesn't even need a proper recipe. Here goes:

Cook 1/2 lb of orzo in boiling, salted water. Drain well and toss with olive oil in a bowl. Add a pint of (washed & dried) cherry tomatoes to bowl. Chop 10 or so large basil leaves and add to bowl. Cut a large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese into bite-sized chunks (or use marinated bocconcini) and add to the bowl. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and kosher salt to taste & mix well.

Makes 6-8 side dish portions.