Andor Blogs?

Posts tagged “basic

Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup

Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup (1)

I am in love with this soup! Layers of porky flavor make it a delight to devour. I originally intended to make a bacon and bak choi soup, but instead I used what was in My freezer. Thus stumbling upon this lovely combination. Baby lima beans add a great texture and are perfect for reducing the spicy impact on Your taste buds. Obviously, bacon adds to almost any meal, but by cooking it in different ways, bacon can take things to the next level. I have been playing with different methods of cooking it for quite some time. Treating a pack of standard, sliced bacon as a single piece of meat is the key to this dish.

Soup takes time to make. It is very easy, since You can ignore it most of the time, but it’s a long process. 3 hours of simmering on the stove seems to be the minimum for getting all of the flavor and nutrients out of the ingredients. Simmering for 4 to 6 hours before reducing has yielded the best soup stock for Me. Be sure not to reduce too far, the general rule is that You want to cook it down by half. You don’t want to end up with soup concentrate. Making this soup is a two part recipe. First, one must make the stock that provides the base flavors. Then, You fry Your bacon and finish the soup with spices. I tend to make stock half, to three quarters of a gallon at a time, since the largest pot in My kitchen is 8 quarts. Storing any that is not being used right away in the freezer for later. It will last about a month in the freezer, so You can save time and make the stock well before the day You intend actually to serve the soup.

Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup (2)

Supplies Needed: TWO 8 quart stock pots(the second is for straining), a decent sized strainer and a skillet for frying.

~For the Stock~

Ingredients:

2lbs Ham Shanks, or the bone of a mostly eaten ham

3 large Carrots, cut in half, or thirds

2 large Onions, halved

half a bushel of Celery

half a bulb of Garlic

2 Bay Leaves

1.5 to 2 gallons of Water(as much as can be fit into the pot with the other ingredients)

Andor's Porky Soup Stock © Andor

To Cook:

Put all the above ingredients in a stock pot, adding as much water as possible(1.5 to 2 inches from the top of the pot). You don’t want to boil it, set the burner to whatever setting You need to keep it simmering. Continue simmering for 4 or more hours. Then, strain the ingredients from the liquid, pressing as much of the broth out of them as possible. Discard the solids(eat the meat, if there is any) and return the liquid to the stove. Now You want to bring it to a boil and continue until the soup has been reduced to about half of the post-straining quantity. You don’t want a full rolling boil, with a foamy top. A ‘low boiling’ is ideal, constant large bubbling is what You want to see. Once reduced, let cool and place in the fridge over night. When it’s nice and cold, remove the fat that has solidified on the top. Now proceed to the next part of the recipe, or put it in containers and freeze.

~Finishing the Soup~

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Cajun Spice blend

A 1.5 to 2 inch wide slice of the Bacon slab and half a cup or more of Baby Lima Beans per person

1 tsp freshly ground Peppercorns(multi-color medley is best for this)

Salt to taste

Slow Cooking Sliced Bacon © Andor

To Cook:

Over medium-low, or even low heat, start frying the bacon, spreading the pepper evenly on the top and bottom. It is best to slow cook, flipping every 5 to 10 minutes. You want to keep the temperature low, so You don’t burn the outsides before the center has been cooked. This should take 45 minutes to an hour. You may also have a hard time keeping the bacon from splitting apart, I suggest using a tongs for flipping, so You can hold each piece together as You maneuver them around. Once the bacon is ALMOST cooked through, heat Your soup stock on high. Once the soup starts to boil, add the baby lima beans, cajun spice and salt and reduce to medium heat, stirring occasionally. At the same time, turn the burner for the bacon to medium-high and fry until the outer edges are nice and crispy(burnt is ok too), then remove from the pan, placing on a towel to pull out the excess grease. Make sure the beans are cooked to Your liking and turn off the burner. Ladle the soup and beans into bowls and place a chunk of bacon on top. Serve hot!

Notes:

I have only served this when also making other dishes. I’ve never tried it as a stand alone meal, it’s a great fit for multi-course dinners.

Cooking sliced bacon in this manor provides a unique texture, similar to tender un-sliced meat. Half pound slabs cook up quite well, but are hard to slice afterwords without breaking it all apart. I prefer Corn King brand bacon. You may laugh, or turn Your nose to the sky, but the brine and smoking process they use produces a superior tasting grease. I use bacon grease instead of cooking oil in most of My cooking, so such things matter to Me. Yes, I am telling You that a mass produced product of Iowan factory-made bacon is better than bacon from a quality butcher shop!

Baby lima beans are really tender inside. If You are substituting regular lima beans, You will want to boil/steam them with water and add to the soup when plating. Otherwise they will be tough and meaty in texture.

This soup is very barbecue friendly. I saved 15 bones from pork spare ribs that I had smoked, added them, burnt edges, sauce and all, instead of the ham. It was delicious! I was unsure about how the charred ends and the messy, sweet remnants of bbq sauce would affect the flavor, but it came out really good. The only burnt parts were maybe half an inch at the tip of each bone.  The soup lacked the hammy flavor and aroma, but was instead smelling like a barbequed bowl of goodness. I admit to also using one head of bak choi in place of the carrots that time too. The spice blend really helps this soup fit in to a barbecue menu as well. The spiciness just invites one to eat more sweet, savory, saucy ribs.

I have also found the broth, which is the soup after straining, but before reducing, is very good for sauces. 1 cup of broth, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp minced fresh ginger, some garlic and a splash of chili powder made for a delicious thick sauced stir-fry.

Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup (3)

Advertisements

Pesto, Arugula and Mozzarella Rolls

IMG_1351-2

This, super simple recipe, is just delicious. Pictured above with wadds of bacon and a giant cup of tea, it goes well with an awful lot of things. Yesterday, I served these rolls with My ‘traditional ribs’ and it was a quite pleasant pairing. Plucked from the BBC’s Good Food web site, it isn’t My usual experiment and see what happens kind of dish. Having a mere four ingredients, anyone can whip these up in minutes. I think this is a good one to teach to kids, since it doesn’t require cooking and can be jazzed up with just about anything. If You are looking for a quick, satisfying snack, or if You need something that can be made well ahead of having company over, this one is a winner. Serves 8, or half that many hungry teenagers.

Supplies Needed: Knife and cutting board(if You are using fresh Mozzarella blocks)

Ingredients:

4 – 10 inch Tortillas
1 cup – Pesto
1  – 12oz block of fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
6-8 cups – Arugula

Prep:

Lay out a tortilla and spread 1/4 cup of pesto all over it. Add cheese to half and spread arugula evenly. Roll it up, starting from the cheesy side and slice for serving, or refridgerate for later. Yeah, that’s it.

Notes:

Shredded mozzarella nullifies the need for any pre-assembly prep.

The original recipe called for two sheets of lahvash flat bread instead of tortillas.

Adding bacon, thinly sliced pastrami, or some such thing makes this into more of a meal than a snack food.

Experiment! Such a simple flavor combination goes well with a lot of different things.

 


Port Chicken

Andor's Grilled Port Chicken © Andor

It doesn’t get much easier than this. The first time I made this, I roasted it in the oven. I made it again last weekend and opted to grill instead. Both times, it was quite delicious. Port wine and garlic provide the core of the flavor, with salt and honey accentuating the experience. Making for a solid base to add other ingredients to, which I shall venture in to soon. So long as You have time to let it marinate and take the time to baste as it is cooking, the meat should be very tasty!

Supplies Needed: Large zip-lock style bag, or a large bowl and a roasting pan, or baking sheet, with a raised edge to hold a bit of liquid.

Ingredients:

6 Chicken Thighs, with bone
3-5 large Garlic cloves, minced
3/4 Cup Tawny Port Wine
1/2 Cup of Water
2 or so tablespoons of Sea Salt
As much Honey as it takes to thinly coat the top of Your chicken, roughly 1.5 tbsp per piece of meat.

Prep and Cooking:

In Your bag or bowl, disolve the salt in the water. Warm water makes this go faster. Then pour in the garlic and port wine. Mix or shake it up to Your liking and put the chicken in. Let it sit in the marinade for 4+ hours for the best results, but You can rush it by going no less than an hour. Once You have let the meat soak in the flavors and are ready to cook, You will want to keep all the liquids in Your marinating bowl, or bag and lay the chicken out on a baking sheet. Pre-heat Your oven to 400(f), but when You put the chicken in, turn the tempurature down to 325 degrees. Let the meat cook for 25-30 minutes and then start basting. Spreading the marinade evenly over the top of the meat every 5-10 minutes, layer by layer making a nice glaze. While cooking, any time You open the oven You should be spooning a layer of marinade over the top of things. Even if You just want to peak, always baste as well, it will help to add more power to the impact of the flavor. Once the chicken is just about fully cooked, You will be adding the honey. Try to evenly coat the top side of the chicken and place back into the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the honey has thickened to a nice dark hue over the red-ish color of the marinade. Remove from the oven, let it rest/sit for a minute or 3 and serve.

Notes:

Just about any port should work with this recipe.

This would go very well with various herbs, citrus, or chilis. Thyme stands out to Me as a natural fit. I can think of plenty of other things too.

It doesn’t hurt to use a larger amount of salt, 4-8 tbsp, to create more of a brine. You will need to have an additional cup of port wine and 2 large garlic cloves, minced, for basting. Once You’ve removed the meat from the salty marinade, You would want to toss it out and baste with the extra wine and garlic. In this case, You may also want to baste fewer times, so it doesn’t just taste like wine.

For grilling, I would push the coals over to one side and place the chicken on the opposite side, using indirect heat, You can layer on the marinade and later the honey, without it burning so easily. Adding a chunk of hickory or Your favorite hard wood to the coals will only make things better.


Almond Chicken Curry

I’ve seen many recipes similar to this. It’s very close to more Thai styled peanut-based curries, found in many restaraunts here in America. Since I usually make that asian style curry with potatoes and spinach, the aging bak choy in My fridge turned out to be the perfect candidate to accompany this simple almond curry, which is seasoned with more of an Indian style. I ended up making a first attempt on a 4am cooking excursion. Frying up some bacon, to grease the pan and to have something to nibble on as I cooked, I rounded off the meal with a pack of strained ramen noodles. Don’t ask Me why I used two habanero peppers, it was some pretty fiery stuff, but it was quite delicious! I’ll be having future goes at this one for sure.. Prep and cooking took Me 45 minutes, including frying the bacon and greens separately, the curry it’s self should take an average home cook half an hour or so. When paired with veggies and rice, noodles, or bread, this recipe serves about 4 people.

Supplies Needed:

A Wok, or high sided Fry Pan, Blender, or something(magic bullet, mincer, large hammer?) to turn the nuts to sand sized particles or smaller, Knife and Cuttung Board.

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of thinly sliced Chicken Thighs
1 Onion, chopped up as You like
30 Almonds, mashed, minced, or otherwise turned as close to a paste-like texture as possible
3 large Garlic Cloves, minced
Fresh Ginger, a piece about the diameter of a quarter, 2 to 3 inches long, minced
1-2 tbsp of Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Mild Chili Powder
1 tsp or so, Garam Masala spice blend
1 Bay Leaf
a pinch of Dried Terragon bits
half, to 1 cup of Water
a bit of Cooking Oil

To Cook:

Over medium heat, saute the bay leaf and garlic in a bit of cooking oil. Once the leaf starts to brown, add the ginger and chili powder. Stir for a few seconds and pour in the water. Adjust the burner to medium high, to high heat. Once this begins to boil, add the meat, onion, soy sauce, almond mash and half the masala blend, stirring frequently. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the remaining masala and the terragon. Cook until the liquids have become a nice thick sauce, discard the bay leaf, remove from heat and enjoy.

Notes:

If You cut the chicken into pieces more than a quarter inch thick, You will want to cook the meat half way before starting the above process. Slicing semi-frozen, boneless thighs makes it pretty easy to get nice thin slices.

If You do not have access to some Garam Masala, try adding 4 or so cloves and a 1-2 inch chunk of a cinnamon stick at the same time as the bay leaf. Removing them as the sauce starts to thicken.

If You so desred, You can soak the almonds in warm water for half an hour or more and peel the skin off of them. I just leave it on and toss the nuts into the food processor.. Also, if You are using chunks of almonds, You may want to soak them for a while before cooking, or at least put them in at the same time as the water, to soften them up a little.

A carrot or two adds a lot to this dish! Spinach, greens and broccoli match up quite nicely as well. Turmeric is also a great addition. Try a teaspoon of fresh lemon zest, or some minced lemongrass in place of the ginger. I find that a nice spicy chili, such as Thai Dragon, or Habanero, rounds this out very nicely. When adding such heat though, I admit to adding about a teaspoon of sugar, or 2 teaspoons of honey as well.


Beef Fajitas

A staple in Mexican-American cooking! This Fajita makes for one tasty meal. Despite first appearances, it’s very easy to prepare as well! Traditionally served with Sour Cream and Avocados. Can be made in as little as 45 minutes. Serves 4-6 people.

Supplies Needed:

A Frying Pan or Skillet, Large Mixing Bowl, Knife and Cutting Board.

Ingredients:

1 and a half pounds of Beef Skirt Steak(or another tender Steak) – cut into strips
1 Bell Pepper – de-seeded and sliced into strips
3 Garlic Cloves – minced
the juice of half a Lime
1 tsp of Chipotle or Mild Chili Pepper Powder
1/2 tsp of Paprika
1/2 tsp of Ground Cumin
2 tblsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Your own taste
12 Flour Tortillas
and possibly a little Cooking Oil

Pico de Gallo Salsa Ingredients:

6-8 ripe Tomatoes – diced
3 Scallions – diced
4-6 Radishes – diced
1 or 2 Serrano or Jalapeno Peppers – de-seeded and minced
3 or 4 tblsp of fresh Cilantro – diced
adding Cumin, Salt, and Pepper to Your liking

Prep and Cooking:

Combine the Beef, Garlic, Lime Juice, Chili/Chilipotle Powder, Paprika, Cumin, and Olive Oil in a Mixing Bowl. Salt and Pepper to Taste. MIX WELL. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. As with most meat marinades, covered in the fridge overnight is best.

To make the Pico de Gallo Salsa, put the diced Tomatoes in a bowl with the Scallions, Serrano/Jalapeno, Radishes, and Cilantro. Using Salt, Pepper, and Cumin to Your liking. Set the Salsa aside for now.

Heat the Tortillas in a LIGHTLY Oiled non-stick fry pan, one or 2 at a time. Covering with foil as You go to keep them warm and pliable.

Stir fry the Bell Pepper strips til done, then set aside.

Stir fry the Beef and marinade with a bit of cooking oil until the meat is browned and cooked through.

At this time You can add everything together on plates to serve, OR just put it all out on a table so everyone can ‘build their own’ fajitas…

NOTES:

If using Avocados, they are to be pitted, sliced and then tossed in Lime Juice(good use for the other half of the Lime not called for in this recipe, use 1-2 Avocados).

Onions also work well! I’d do them with the Bell Peppers..

Some people just put Tortillas in the micro-wave… One at a time, or they’ll stick to each other. High heat for 10-30 seconds, depending on Your microwave… This method may also make them a little tough around the edges if You over do it.


Mom’s Fried Green Beans

Based on the deep-fried green beans found in many Chinese restaurants, My Mom devised Her own version that’s easier to make at home. Which, since it’s not deep-fried, is a much healthier proposition as well. These beans are simply delicious! I can eat an entire batch of them as a meal!

Supplies Needed: A Large, high sided, nonstick(or well seasoned) Fry Pan that has a close fitting cover.

Ingredients:

2 lbs of fresh Green Beans – ends trimmed and washed
1/4 cup of thick Teriyaki Sauce OR Hoisin Sauce
4 large Cloves of Garlic – minced
1 tblsp of Lemon Pepper
2 tblsp Peanut/Canola/Veggie Oil
half a cup or so of Water
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Prep and Cooking:

On high heat, put the clean Beans, a bit of the Oil, and the Water in a Pan(You may need to add more Water depending on the size of the Beans). Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-high heat until the beans are ‘al dente.’ Uncover, pour off any extra water and turn to high heat. Add the Garlic and Teriyaki Sauce, with Salt and Pepper to Your liking. Stir Fry it to mix the Sauce around. Continue cooking, tossing frequently, until the Sauce caramelizes and the Beans begin to brown. Serve immediately.


Cajun Spiced Chicken Stir-Fry

Many people tend to think stir-frying is just an asian thing. This, however, is simply not true. This particular recipe is My most recent stir-fry developement! A very basic flavor combination that goes well with most vegetables, pictured here with carrots, onions and broccoli, served on toasted whole grain bread. Albeit untried, I do beleive this would go well with pork or beef, amongst other things. Paired with rice, bread, or noodles, this recipe serves 2 ravenous teenagers, or 4 people.

Supplies Needed: A Wok or large, high sided Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board, Large Bowl, or Sealing Bag for marinating.

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, sliced a quarter inch thick or thinner
2 Large Carrots, chopped into thin pieces
1 Onion, Chopped up too..
Half of a Bag of Frozen Chopped Broccoli, thawed
4 Tbsp – Cooking Sherry
2 Tbsp – Worcestershire Sauce
2 or 3 Tbsp – Cajun Spice Blend
1 Tbsp – Minced Garlic(2 large cloves)
2 or 3 Tbsp – Pure Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bacon Grease or Cookig Oil as needed

Prep and Cooking:

Mix the sherry, worcestershire, half the cajun spice and half a tablespoon or so of salt into a large zip-lock bag and drop the chopped up Chicken into it. Mix that up and let it marinate for 20+ minutes. Now is a good time to chop Your vegetables! Heat Your wok at medium-high heat, grease the pan and start stir-fying the chopped carrots with half the garlic, after the carrots start to soften a little, add the onion and broccoli, continue frying until the ingredients are cooked to Your liking. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the chicken and all the contents of the marinade to the fry pan, also adding the rest of the garlic and any additional salt and pepper You want. Turn Your burner to high heat and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through and the liquids start thickening, then add the last tablespoon of the cajun spice, pour the veggies back into the pan, drizzle the honey over the top, turn off Your burner and mix it all together. Plate and serve!

Note: The amount of sherry listed is for the lower end stuff found in most big box grocery stores here in North America. If using a quality sherry from a winery or liquor store, try using half the amount stated.