Posts Tagged ‘crockpot cooking’

Turkey Stew

August 5, 2010

Turkey Stew

My friend Chino was the one who taught me you could stew anything and he did. Dolores made Irish stew from Beef and sometimes Lambs. Chino made Caribbean style red stew from oxtail, chicken, goat, pork and Turkey. I got fat because I loved and ate all of it although as regular readers might notice, I am not a big fan of beef on an everyday basis. Now since both have died, I often think of them when I cook and a few times I have crossed over and Stewed Turkey in an Irish Style Stew.

The recipe is straight forward. With typical Irish Stew ingredients except turkey is the meat.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

4 oz. Turkey

Medium Onion

Potato

Garlic

Celery Stalk

Carrot

½ Tablespoon parsley

½ Tsp thyme

½ Tsp rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon flour or cornstarch to thicken

1 oz. Rum

Chef Magic (Optional)

The cubed potato and ½ tsp salt were placed in the coffeepot and 10 cups water run through the coffeemaker. They were left on the hot plate for 30 minutes.

Blanch the Potatoes

The Garlic and Onions were prepared during this time and then they were sautéed in olive oil with the turkey steaks for 20 minutes and and then the rum was added to the pot.

Prepare the Garlic and Onion

Meanwhile the celery and carrots were prepared and added to the pot topped off by the potatoes and spices.

Carrots and Celery Cut to Size

About half hour later enough water to just cover the solids was added to the pot and the stew was allowed to cook for about 5 hours. The aluminum foil was removed for about an hour to let the alcohol evaporate.

Everything Steaming in Rum Vapors

The liquid was decanted to a bowl and the flour or cornstarch added and blend until uniform. I used a whisk but a fork could have been used. If the darker color is desired, chef magic can be used. The liquid is returned to the pot and allowed to thicken for about an hour. If you used cornstarch it will thin out if you let it remain hot for too long. Flour is more heat stable but cornstarch is easier to blend into the liquid.

Turkey Soup

The rich white stew (top) was thickened with flour flour and the darker more soup like liquid was cornstarch and chef magic. The darker stew was too thick after an hour but thinned out to soup in 2 hours, Both were good whether soup or stew.

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Puerto Rican Style Red Beans and Rice

August 4, 2010

Puerto Rican Red Beans and Rice

Well, I guess I’m in a rice and beans mood right now because when my granddaughters get here, there will be a lot of grilled chicken, hot dogs and beans and Italian pasta in red sauce. Although I’m sure when their mother gets here, we will have some rice and beans again.

The recipe for Puerto Rican Style Red Beans and Rice is so classic that locally when you call for rice and beans, everybody knows you are expecting red beans. This recipe started life with the Goya recipe on the back of a small can of beans but whenever I put meat in a Crockpot or a coffeepot I add rum to make sure nothing goes bad if the power goes out. Also, the recipe calls for ¼ cup green bell pepper and ¼ cup tomato sauce and I happened to have tomato based Goya Sofrito which was predominantly tomato paste and green bell pepper so I used that instead of opening a can of sauce to use a small part of it.

Recipe and Ingredients:

I Tablespoon Olive Oil

4 oz ham chunked

1 small onion chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1 thin slice of Scotch Bonnet hot pepper

1-2 oz Cruzan Dark Rum

4 Tablespoons Sofrito Tomato Cooking Base

¼ tsp oregano

1 can 10.5 oz Goya Red beans

1 packet Sazon Goya (could have used a ½ packet to reduce salt)

This is a very easy coffeepot meal if you have microwave rice on hand.

Saute the Onions, Garlic, Oregano and Ham

Everything except the beans and Sazon was added to the pot and allowed to simmer covered with aluminum foil for an hour after which the beans and Sazon were added to the pot. If eating right away, cook for an hour uncovered and if in no hurry replace the foil and let it cook as long as you want.

Serve over cooked white rice which is difficult to prepare except on the stove top or microwave or buy the white rice from a Chinese restaurant.

Rasta Pasta – Final Version!

July 23, 2010

Vegan Rasta Pasta

Good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good get better, and the better best. Rasta Pasta 1.2 is my favorite and final version of vegetarian Rasta Pasta, but since Chicken is an authentic ingredient in some Caribbean recipes, I will probably try a chicken version called 2.0 but for now version 1.2 is excellent, tasty, hearty and vegetarian.

In my new lifestyle, I probably eat vegetarian dinners about 3 times a week but start everyday with a piece of fruit to get my sugar levels up in addition to some high protein fish like a 3 oz tin of tuna or a can of sardines. In addition, I take my multi-vitamin to insure I have everything I need for the Day. I take milkweed thistle to counter the effects of the wine the night before and I Take a fish oil Omega 3 capsule that I am happy some fish sacrificed his oil for me. By 9 am, I have consumed everything I need for the day to insure I hit the ground running with a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Essentially this version of Rasta Pasta is the same as version 1.1 with the further elimination of yellow peppers to reduce both the cost and the bell pepper taste. The replacement yellow vegetable is summer squash.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 onion rough cut

1 thin slice scotch bonnet pepper

1 yellow summer squash sliced

1 green bell pepper

1 can 14.5 oz. diced organic tomatoes

1 can 8 oz tomato sauce

1 sprig basil

¼ tsp oregano

1-2 oz dry sherry

salt to taste

Onions, Green Bell Peppers and Squash

This is an all in the pot meal where I sauteed the hot scotch bonnet pepper, garlic and onion in the olive oil for about ½ hour and then the rest of the ingredients were added to the pot and left to simmer for about 5 hours or until the peppers are soft.

Green Basil on Red Sause - Beautiful Food

I love the appearance of fresh basil on red sauce.

Rasta Pasta Topped with Cheese

The introductory picture is the vegan meal but once again, I enjoy mine with cheese as shown.

Stroganoff – Truly a Meal for a King!

July 19, 2010

Stroganoff

The Stroganoff Family was rich peasants 400 years ago who gave so much money to an inept like of Czars that they were awarded Nobility status. Somewhere along their financial dynasty, they are credited with developing Beef Stroganoff and the first recipe with that name contained mustard and was published in 1863. Now Dolores loved her beef and loved Stroganoff and cooked it well. I liked the flavor and nootice the great similarity to other easten European foods containing dill, onions and sour cream.

Dolores would use her leftover Porterhouse stake which was always cooked rare and then have me slice it thin. In this case, I started with another piece of that tough eye of the round that I was attempting to tenderize with sous vide. The meal was tasty and came out good but frankly would have been better with a better piece of meat so start with a decent cut. Left over London Broil works well.

Recipe:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

4 oz meat dusted with flour.

½ small onion sliced

3 sliced green onions separate the white and green parts

4 oz sliced mushrooms

1 Tablespoon of Water

¼ cup sour cream (enough to coat everything, about 3 heaping Tablespoons or 4 level ones)

1 sprig of dill for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Setting up for Stroganoff

The olive oil, onion and white part of the green onions were cooked in the coffee pot until they were glazed or about ½ hour.

All in Except Sour Cream

The flower dusted cooked beef strips were then added to the pot. If it had been raw or rare, I would have added it at the beginning. The diced green onion parts, mushrooms and a small amount of dill leaves from the garnish were also added to the pot with a tablespoon of water. When all is cooked covered with aluminum foil for about 2 more hours, the sour cream is added to the pot and stirred. By the time you cook the noodles, the Stroganoff will be ready to serve. I usually add salt and pepper at the table and forget the salt on most days.

Zhou’s Tea Eggs-Coffee Pot Style

July 16, 2010

A Pretty Tea Egg

Ok, Dagny Wins. I am weird. I get up at 4 am and check the international addition of CNN on the Internet which happens to be edition.cnn.com. Now that is usually a non event which allows me to check the global stock markets and then focus on my prayer beads for the new stock picksof the day. Yesterday was different as I met a story on Tea Eggs and an irresistible challenge to make DIY (Do It Yourself) Zhou’s Tea Eggs which I immediately accepted to mean DIY Zhou’s Tea Eggs Coffeepot Style.

Now the biggest problem I had was finding haujiao peppers which simply don’t exist in St. Croix. I immediately searched the Internet to find out the flavor of these peppers is so unique that there is no credible substitute. No problem, I was looking at a method of making them more than the exact flavor so I checked all of the hot Chinese style sauces available locally and found that they were made from dried chili peppers which I had in stock plus I planned on adding my local scotch bonnet peppers which could bring it up a notch.

Half Hour Coffeepot Egg

I put the eggs in my coffeepot and ran the water through the coffeemaker to get it up to temperature right away and let the eggs sit on the warmer for 30 minutes which gave me the equivalent look and taste to a 4 minute egg. The eggs were cooled and the shells were cracked with the back of a spoon against the counter top. Do not crack the ends as the ends may be hollow, I followed the recipe as best I could except that I used a scotch bonnet pepper and a dried chili in lieu of the haujiao pepper and had to adjust the cooking times.

Recipe

1 cup soy sauce

1 dried chili

1 dried scotch bonnet

4 Tea Bags Black tea

2 Teaspoons sugar

1.5 Tablespoon five spice blend

Saved water from cooking eggs to fill pot

All in the Pot

I put all ingredients in the pot and stirred until most dissolved leaving space for the eggs.

White Egg After Four Hours

After 4 hours on the hot plate of the coffeemaker, the egg shells have taken on the rich mahogany color described in the article.

After 7.5 hours the beautiful patterns developed from the cracking process (see top picture).

I refrigerated the eggs overnight and allowed the full flavor to develop.

In the process of making Tea Eggs, I developed a lot of respect for Zhou as making the eggs is more an art form that actually cooking Chinese food. As photographed, I had some pretty eggs but only half which would not be a satisfactory percentage for a Tea Egg vendor. The two problems are that not all eggs pealed properly and not all of my cracks generated perfect patterns. The other issue was flavor. My recipe lacked the bite of the real product and pretty much had only the flavor of tea, sugar, and spice and no pepper taste at all.

If you can get the ingredients, this would be a fun project for cooking with kids. I just might use the process to make a patterned egg with my granddaughters but would probably use a red beet die as it’s more traditionally American and I can get all the ingredients.

Vegetarian Broccoli Soup

July 11, 2010

Finished Broccoli Soup - Vegan, No Cheese.

I am always amazed that many cultures will eat almost anything and stay healthy. French eat snails, frogs, sweetbreads, kidneys and other weird stuff that I enjoy and wash it down with gallons of wine. The also rank 10th in longevity compared to 38th for Americans. Italians are just as bad eating squid, octopus, brains, eel, milk fed veal, goats and other good stuff and they also live longer than Americans with a ranking of 12th.

Now what brought this comparison to mind was a broccoli soup recipe that I made from kitchen scraps. The basis for this recipe is from Carla Capalbo’s “Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking”.  Apparently the head of Broccoli that I purchased was not the freshest in the world and two days later the flowers were starting to yellow. I remembered the beautiful presentation in her book for broccoli soup and decided to convert it to my needs as I pretty much have dropped bread from my diet even though Italians who eat white breads are likely to outlive me.

As usual, when a meal is 90 percent vegetarian and looks strong enough to have flavor without meat, I convert it and purge my system of meat for the day. Since broccoli is a strong flavor, and and the soup is served with Parmesan Cheese, I figured it would be bold enough without the chicken broth so used vegetable broth.

For the Broccoli, the recipe actually called for the pealing and dicing of the stems, so I figured a few slightly yellow and dry flowers wouldn’t change the flavor and they didn’t. As I said, as far as my normal eating of broccoli goes , I eat raw or steamed green flowers only but this soup was made from stuff I would normally throw out like the stems and yellow flowers and it tasted great. You just have to love the recipes that poor people come up with to stretch a food dollar.

Vegetarian Broccoli Soup

2 small heads of broccoli

1 can 14.5 oz vegetable broth

the juice of 1 small local lime

1 large clove of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Cut Flowers and Pealed Broccoli Stems

I cut all off all of the flowers and saved the best looking 10 to 12 to add back to the soup. All small flowers, yellow flowers and the pealed and diced stems were added to the pot along with the garlic and the juice of the lime. I was amazed that pealing the stem was fairly easy as the bark was pulled up towards the head and only the fattest portion of the stem was actually pealed.

Cubed Stems and Minced Garlic

After everything was in the pot except the salt and pepper which was added as served, the soup was cooked for about 4 to 6 hours and then pureed in a blender. The soup was then added back to the pot along with the saved flowers and cooked until done – 1 to 2 hours.

When served with grated Parmesan, this is a flavorful, hearty, filling soup.

Espalier Lime Tree - St. Croix

While I am not really opposed to using the bottled lime juice, I cut into my drinking time one Saturday a few years ago and potted a local lime tree against the wall outside my kitchen and trained it in an espalier manner. As soon as one crop is done, I prune the tree back to the flat profile and another crop occurs within a month or two. Not only is my lime tree an evergreen, it is almost a continuous producer.

Italians have used lime trees in both topiary (sculpted) and espalier (trained) since the time of Christ.

Dagny’s Chicken, Rice and Beans

July 10, 2010

CHICKEN, RICE AND BEANS

Mothers of young children, have a difficult balancing act when it comes to preparing food with flavor yet without being too spicy. There is also the issue of food products that are convenient, yet offer rich flavors without an overload of salt. Now anybody who grew up in the Caribbean knows that Mother’s little helper is not rum but the line of foods offered by Goya. In my case, rum works some days and I added a little to this recipe just for fun and plus it makes it safer when cooking chicken in a slow cooker especially when the power goes out. I am cooking a pot of bean  soup for over three days as the power went out for 5 hours and its safer in the Refrigerator than in a slow cooker with the power off.

For the more precise Recipe from Poppa John jump down below Dagny’s

Dagny’s recipe for Chicken Rice and Beans

Chicken Thighs, – enough to feed the Family – Thighs work best in her Crockpot.

Kidney Beans – Enough to correspond to the number of Pieces of Chicken

I Sazon Packet per can of Kidney beans

I Tablespoon Sofrito per can of Kidney beans

Mix it up and cook until done

Poppa John’s Chicken, Rice and Beans – Scaled to a Meal for one

Now unless you cook Caribbean or Spanish Style, many of these are unfamiliar and deserve an explanation but they are available in the states from Virginia to Florida usually in a section devoted to Puerto Rican food which mostly translates to Goya Products.

About ½ pound Chicken legs, thighs or wings with bones, less if boneless.

1 can 14.5 oz Goya Kidney Beans

1 Goya Sazon Packet (This is a Purerto Rican Seasoned salt that carries a rich red color – mostly natural)

1 Tablespoon Goya Sofrito (Mostly, natural blend of Tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and spices)

1 Tablespoon Hot Mexican Style Salsa

1-2 oz Dark Cruzan Rum

The Goya Ingredients

Obviously, my version is spicier than my daughters but I’m only making meals for one. But hold that thought, my granddaughters pour on the heat when they are in the mood. It’s just safer to let them add the hot sauce. This is an all in the pot, stir and cook recipe. I blanched the chicken ahead of time to get it safely cooked.  I cooked it for three hours covered with aluminum foil and then for three hours uncovered to cook off the alcohol and thicken the gravy.

After Cooking 3 Hours - Notice the Rich Color

I have made this meal twice in the past three months and the first time I served it with mixed white and wild rice as below and the last time I served it over a bed of white rice as in the introductory picture. There is no right way to serve chicken rice and beans as it seems to be a personal preference and I have seen it served with dozens of variations in the rice recipe from white to yellow to seasoned just depending on your mood or preference.

Served with White and Wild Rice

As a food supplier, Goya uses both natural and artificial ingredients but is aware of a cultural aversion to salt for medical reasons and does manage to keep the sodium under control.

Caribbean Style Turkey Stew

July 4, 2010

Turkey Stew Ready to Eat

There can be no doubt that my friend Chino has altered my cooking style.

I’m familiar with at least two types of stew. What my wife called stew was the traditional Irish stew with beef, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, and flour to thicken the gravy. She would brown the meet in oil, then add onions and garlic and sauté until they were glazed; then add the vegetables and cooked until done. This will be discussed at a later post.

This post is about my friend Chino who would make stew out of any meat and any combination of vegetables that were either fresh or did not need refrigeration. No one ever used refrigerated or frozen vegetables in stew.

Caribbean Style Turkey Stew.

Recipe:

1 Potato cubed and blanched

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 rough cut Onion

2 cloves Garlic minced

1 thin slice scotch bonnet pepper

2 stalks celery diced

1 package Goya Sazon

5 oz sliced turkey leg

1-2 oz Cruzan Rum and 1-2 oz of water for moisture to steam the meat and vegetables

½ Tsp salt or as needed

Since I haven’t included detailed pictures of coffeepot cooking for a while, I am including them here because this type of meal without the need to fry or with rice is where the coffeepot works best. It is actually a safer slow cooker when cooking meals for just one person.

Potatoes Ready to be Blanched

First cubed potatoes and salt are put in the coffeepot and water passed through the coffeemaker to blanch the potatoes remove from heat in 25 minutes, drain and set aside. Meanwhile prepare the rest of the vegetable.

Chopped, Diced and Minced Vegetables and Spices

Put all the uncooked vegetables and spices in the pot.

Meat and Uncooked Vegetables in the Pot

Place the partially cooked potatoes on top.

All in Pot - Cooked Potatoes on Top

Put 2 oz Cruzan Rum and 2 oz water in the pot, cover with foil and return to the coffeemaker hotplate to cook the meat and vegetables for bout 6-8 hours.

Cooking the Turkey Stew

Remove the foil and the alcohol will cook off in about an hour additional. There was no excess of water added so you do not dilute the flavors. This meal can be served from a bowl American Style or over a bed of Rice to extend it, Chino Style.

Anybody Can Cook Spaghetti and Meatballs

July 3, 2010

Angel Hair Pasta and Meatballs

When you start cooking,  it is best to start  with a simple meal anybody can cook and one of the simplest is Spaghetti and Meatballs. Since my youth, there has been vast improvement in the flavor of prepared foods and reductions in cooking time. Making an excellent Tomato sauce was once an all day job, while making meatballs was a messy, time consuming, pain in the rear and only the pasta was good off the shelf. Today a great meal can be made with off the shelf items and a little attention to the details.

I prepared the above “meal for one” in a hurry but still wanted something good to eat. I had leftover Italian Red Sauce which was reheated on the stove top and was originally Bertolli which is a reasonably good brand that you could serve to Italian friends and get away with it. The meatballs are from the freezer and since I was in a hurry, I microwaved them following the directions on the bag before adding them to the sauce. The sauce would take two hours to reach cooking temperature in the coffeepot but took a lot less on the stove top.

I added more basil to the sauce when I first made it because I like the flavor and it grows in an herb garden outside my house. I also added additional garlic for a richer flavor and aroma, These adjustments introduced a personal factor and make the sauce “mine”. Now that my daughter has suggested I shake the weird factor of the coffeepot and use more normal appliances in cooking, I could use my new small Crockpot, just for the presentation value especially if I have more than two hours to cook the sauce and the time to watch it and stir it away from the heated walls.

The pasta is angel hair but I also like tortellini, gemelli and many more which if you pay attention and follow the directions on the package, all turn out fine.

After a month in America, I owe a few people a favor when I get back home and I’ll probably cook them a meal. I’ll use my new Crockpot for the Tomato Sauce which should be OK because all it has to do is keep everything hot until it is being served. The pasta, I’ll cook on the stove top.

Good solid food without the weird factor but also more than enough for a few people. If I use the small Crockpot just for me, I’ll either end up with leftovers or eat the whole pot. The truth when it comes to eating is;

My will power to eat is still stronger than my won’t power to stop.

My urge to be morbidly obese is still strong as I have never been repulsed by Jabba the Hutt as a role model.

Thai Won On – La Quinta Style

July 1, 2010

Cooking Thai Food with Dagny in my Hotel Room was a special event. First she eats Thai food on a regular basis and knows what it is supposed to taste like, she is a “make do” cook with a good sense of taste so substitutes freely and she also has a great sense of adventure. Well as mentioned in the previous post on the La Quinta Casserole, my new Crockpot was not even close to being the right tool for a stir fry, but still I was more interested in the flavoring used and matching authentic Thai Flavors so we decided to proceed in a “make do” manner adapting a recipe from Tes who is a very interactive blogger. She listed Thai recipes for me in the comment section of one post on yummy lunches and I decided on a stir fry recipe as a starting point.

In attempting to separate the fun from the food, I am presenting Dagny who was in charge of making the Microwave rice because I had prepared the rest of the food while she had to work at the last moment. Seems that the Hotel had bought an odd lot of Sylvania Ghost Microwaves from Hell and their solution was to unplug them but leave them in the room without warning the guests.

Struggling to Plug in the Goast Microwave from Hell

Dagny did a trouble shooting on the microwave and verified it wasn’t plugged in. No problem she simply moved the wooden cabinet that held the refrigerator and the microwave while both remained inside then crawled behind it to plug it in.

Dagny Calling me a Nasty Name

She then discovered that I was documenting her monumental struggle because the cord was too short for both her to reach and plug it in yet she persisted to fight the battle to assist in dinner preparation. She burst out laughing and called me a nasty name when she caught me photographing her efforts. She’s lucky shes my daughter and I have a sense of humor otherwise I would have posted a more unflattering picture.

The microwave started nuking the rice with a 6 minute and 36 second cooking time and could not be reset. Dagny’s solution was let it cook, open the door at 5 minutes and 6 seconds and take out the rice. The microwave from hell cooked the rice but kept on randomly beeping and making weird noise whether the door was open or not until Dagny unplugged the machine.

Smiling with Pride over her Epic Battle

I am not sure if the whimsical smile while serving the rice was because of winning her epic battle with the Ghost Microwave from Hell or because she was having fun cooking with her Father. I certainly hope it was the latter.

Rice & Thai Flavored chicken with Peppers and Onions

Ingredients:

For chicken

1 lb Chicken cut into small pieces

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp Thai chili paste

2-4 packets Hotel Salt to taste

1 tbsp Soy sauce

2 packets hotel sugar (tsp)

1 tbsp olive oil

For veggies

3/4 pound sliced Peppers and Onions Fajita mix

For Rice

1 package microwave white rice

Now right from the start, I knew my cooking utensils were limited to an undersized coffeepot that cuts off in an hour and a crock pot with hot walls and a cold bottom so I decided to use both tools, with the coffeepot doing the cooking and the Crockpot doing the holding. If I had a larger coffeepot, I would have used that alone.

The procedure was straight forward for a cook who understands food processing. The chicken was blanched by adding sliced raw chicken and salt to the coffeepot and water to the coffeemaker. As the water perked, it took the heat up to 175 right away. The very moist chicken was placed in the Crockpot on warm (160 Fahrenheit) and held until all of the rest of the ingredients were combined in the coffeepot and heated until the garlic was glazed. The sauce was then added to the chicken and stirred until the chicken was thoroughly coated.

Chicken Coated with Sauce

The vegetables were added on top of the chicken and not mixed, Dagny and I went for our walk and then we stopped so I could have a couple of beers and be bad. After all, it was two days after surgery.

Dinner is Served

We ate the meal and her comment was the same as usual. It’s good and I could even pick up a woman by cooking her dinner (She knows I do.). But I still have to shake the weird factor of cooking in my coffeepot if I want anybody to really follow my recipes.

Actually Dagny, I’m working on it and may have a solution.