Fail #2: Pecos River Bowl of Red


I stumbled upon an amazing cookbook that I think I’ll cook through. It’s called “Chili Madness” by Jane Butel and it’s all about how that bowl of  fire came to be.

Excited, I happily picked out the first recipe and started preparing ingredients..Sure, it did seem to call for a lot of ground chili, but I know I’m a seasoned spicy person. I could handle any amount of heat, right?…….right?

Yeah. This is a FAIL.

WELCOME TO HELL!

FAIL #2: Pecos River Bowl of Red

Ingredients:

Chile, chili, and more chillies that I could ever imagine. That, and I even added some beans to try to even it out. Shredded pork seemed promising, and all was well. That is, until after 4 hours of cooking in a crock pot, one mere chip-full of chili sent me running the 2 feet to the fridge for a glass of milk. (water doesn’t work, I tried it).

Thinking that milk would help the chili too, I put about a cup in, trying to dilute the heat. That didn’t do anything but turn the pot a bit lighter.

Then, I tried to over-cook it a bit and hopefully break down some of the compounds responsible for this spiciness. Yeah, if you think to how many dishes call for intense temperatures and still can be spicy, that proves my logic wrong. So, with much sadness, the chili joined the rest of the failed experiments.

Lesson learned: Don’t over-spice. It’s hard to ever recover your dish unless you dilute it with more of the ingredients.

I still have heartburn from that. Ugh.


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Kitchen Experiment #2: “Beeten” Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes


Something brilliant and comforting...

This week has been a little crazy for me. The final courses I am taking are, to put it lightly, a little intense. Days are long and filled with differential equation calculus as well as functional groups and wave functions. If I see another Greek letter I may hurl. :]

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Recipe 22: Tamales


I love tamales. They’re tasty and deliciously doughy. The type of filling I am using here is pork shoulder that was boiled with spices for about 3 hours until it started to fall apart. I made fresh masa and then rolled the two in soaked corn husks. After that you have to steam them for a bit, and then do a little dance because you don’t have to pay out the nose for fresh tamales anymore!!

Pork Tamales!

Truthfully, tamales are easy, they just tend to get a bad wrap because they can really take a while to do, that is, if you want them in the same day. I made the dough in advance and was too wiped from other activities to make them fully. It’s okay though, I delivered tonight. So roll up your sleeves and lets make something amazing.

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Kitchen Experiment #1: Layered Potatoes


Kitchen Experiment posts are for the times that I don’t use a recipe and just improvise. I put down what I used, but the technique is more important due to the wide range of substitutions and variations available.

Experiment Results: Success!

So for a while I’ve wanted to try my hand at a scalloped potato dish because I’ve only ever relied on the packaged style and been too much of a chicken to try it myself. I didn’t want to make one of those cheesy, saucy, fat-laden sides though. I wanted something with the same layered texture I love so much about scalloped potatoes, but with a bit more flavor and spice, and a prettier appearance.

Well, I made some mistakes, but I was able to troubleshoot them this time. This dish is tasty, lovely, and absolutely unique. It can be used as a side or as the main event, with a little dressing up. If you’re looking for something subtle to impress your guests, this is the ticket.

Kitchen Experiment #1: Layered Potatoes

Notes: You can make this ahead. Get past the baking portion and then cool in the fridge while weighing the foil down until you’re ready to cut the pieces out and warm.

Ingredients: (4 Servings plus “leftovers”)

  • 1 large russet potato, sliced into discs with a mandolin. (1/8 inch-ish)
  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced into discs with a mandolin.
  • 3 red-skinned potatoes, sliced into discs with a mandolin.
  • fresh thyme (or whatever herbs you like)
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper & salt

 

Process:
Preheat your oven to 350F.

Get a baking dish that’s a square of about 9″x9″ and line the bottom with parchment paper. If you want to scale up, go for it. The potato amounts can be scaled up to layer as much as you want, as long as they fill the dish completely without gaps.

Start with the sweet potato and layer with overlapping the first level. Build on that with the red potato, and then the russet. Do another three layers, but this time make sure the russet is extra dense (make your overlapping more extreme). Season with herbs, pepper, and salt, and then a drizzle of olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

When the potatoes are done, vent the foil and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then, press the foil down to the surface of the potatoes and set a heavy pot or panini weight on the top. You want to compress these layers so as they cool the starch helps “glue” them together.

If you’re planning on serving the same day, allow to compress for 30 minutes or until room temperature. Then, grab a corner of the parchment and slide the whole thing out onto a cutting board. Grab the corners quickly and flip over, so the sweet potatoes are now facing up.The sweet potatoes are the easiest to cut through with the cutter, so that’s why they’re up top. If you try it from the other side, it could disrupt the layers.

Use a pretty cookie cutter (preferably a circle) and sigh-measure where to place it to get the most out of your potatoes. I started with the upper corner. Press quickly through all the layers, and then give it a sharp smack with the palm of your hand to send it through the bottom layer. Cut away the excess carefully around the cutter (if it’s sticking) and transfer to a plate. Lift the cutter up carefully to reveal your tower. You can serve these at room temperature. If you want to warm them, place them on a lined cookie sheet and put them in the oven for a spell until warmed through.

Because they is a test recipe, I encourage you to get creative. There are a lot of very good possibilities with something like this, be it garnish, sauces, or even turning it into a sweet dish.

Enjoy!

Recipe 20: Spring Rolls


At first glance, these may seem a bit tough to make but once you destroy the first one (it happens to me too) it gets better.

Spring Rolls!

Spring rolls are essentially a bunch of raw vegetables, noodles, and sometimes meat and sauces rolled up in a flexible rice wrapper. They are chewy and crunchy, not to mention flavorful, and are a great way to eat healthy and on a budget.

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Recipe 19: Oatmeal Bran Muffins


Oatmeal Bran Muffins!

This recipe is for those mornings when I’m out of bed and on the road in a about 5 minutes flat and realize when I get there that I didn’t even grab breakfast. The same mornings that I begrudgingly buy some crap barista muffin when I know that I could have baked the same thing for a fraction of the cost (and fat). Yep. Here’s to those mornings.

These muffins have a dense, moist texture that hold well even when frozen. Pop one in the microwave in the morning and head out the door with breakfast in hand. They’re easy (literally, mix and bake) and they’re one of those items that fills your house with such a warm, “home sweet home” smell.

Bye the way….Scroll to the end for a bonus video!

Recipe 19: Oatmeal Bran Muffins

Note: I tried making these with actual rolled oats inside and they turned out a bit dry, so if you plan on including some, make sure you swap out an equal volume of the wheat bran, which seems just as absorbent, and hydrate the two together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Proces:

First thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 375F. Then, grab your bran and put it into a bowl with the buttermilk, mixing until evenly distributed. You’re going to let this hydrate the bran for 10 minutes. It will be like cereal that’s been left too long in the milk, but it’s important.

Next, grab your muffin tin and line it with either folded parchment paper (as I had to use in the absence of muffin cups) or muffin cups. Sift together your dry ingredients and add your wet ingredients and the bran mixture. Mix roughly with a wooden spoon until just combined and add to the muffin tin. Top with a swirl of honey and some rolled oats for a pretty finish.

Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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BONUS!!

So a while back I decided to launch a Youtube account and this was my first recipe. Nervous and making all kinds of mistakes (like forgetting to buy muffin cups), if you need a laugh, enjoy! (Take pity!! :D)