Monkey 47 – Gin and Sin

Monkey 47 gin comes from the Black Forest in Germany.  This gin was created by a retired British commander who settled in Germany’s Northern Black Forest.  Missing his favorite alcohol, he experimented and distilled a gin made from 47 different plants and herbs.

We’ve had this unopened bottle since we left Germany, about 3  1/2 years ago. Finally working up our courage, we made this exotic cocktail for a snowy afternoon.

Gin and Sin

1 1/2 ounce Monkey 47

2 ounces orange juice

1 tbsp lemon juice

Splash of grenadine

Ice ( 3 small cubes)

Place all ingredients in a shaker, shaking until chilled.  Pour into a cocktail glass and sit down somewhere.

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Spaghetti Squash and Ribs

Oddly I bought this American set of fork, knife and spoon at the Leclerc supermarket in France.  I don’t know why they were there, other than someone thought I might need them 🙂

Spaghetti squash is a very good tasting vegetable and I’m a little resentful that many times it’s only worth is seen as a low calorie substitute for pasta.  I object!

Slices of the squash treated with a sprinkle of salt for about 15-20 minutes before baking creates a luscious, stand alone vegetable that shreds in spaghetti like strands that can be eaten deliciously right out of the rind with no additives.

But of course this old Southern/French influenced girl had to add pancetta, scallions, garlic, some cherry tomatoes and butter because I couldn’t help myself 😀  But no sauce specifically meant for pasta.  No.  Although you could use the same combination on pasta with good olive oil.

This is the first time my husband has liked spaghetti squash.  My fault, I was inexperienced.

Of course he ate a few of the teriyaki flavored ribs that he likes but still raved about the spaghetti squash.  He’s mellowing 😀

Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash

Salt

1/3 -1/2 cup pancetta or lardons if you have it

2 tbsp butter

4-5 scallions, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Salt and pepper

Cut off the ends of the squash, then slice into rings of  1 1/2- 2 inches.  Clean out the seeds and strings with a spoon.  Generously salt the rings on both sides, then set aside for 20 minutes or so.  With a paper towel, wipe away the salt and water that has been released.  Place the rings on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, then place in a preheated 400F oven for 40 minutes.  5-10 minutes more if you want the strands softer.

With a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash, into spaghetti like strands towards the center of each ring, placing  the strands into a mixing bowl.

Brown the pancetta in a skillet, add the butter, scallions and garlic, sauteing until the garlic begins to brown. remove from the flame, add salt, pepper and the tomatoes, until warmed through.  Toss the pancetta mixture with the spaghetti squash and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Black Cod with Bok Choy and Mushrooms

When searing Japanese style black cod (sable fish), the marinating process takes about 3 days.  My husband, a recent graduate from frozen, breaded fish objects, has been asking for this delicacy for weeks now, knowing that I had (8) 4 ounce fillets in the freezer.  “Cook em all!” he insisted.  So I did.

It would be wonderful to have a fresh whole black cod cut to my specifications by my favorite ‘monger Steve but I appreciate that it’s available on line, if frozen and oddly cut.  Better than none 🙂

Once some of the marinade is spread on the fish and the rest added to a ziplock with the fillets, it’s just a matter of turning the ziplock over whenever you’re in the fridge or passing by, keeping the fillets flat in the marinade for 2-3 days.

In the meantime you can beat the bushes for some decent bok choy and mushrooms.

I used portobello  mushrooms instead of shiitake because the shiitake weren’t that great looking and a tiny little package (4 mushrooms) was about $5.  Non!

The bok choy was very fresh and crisp. I was lucky to find these at Weiss supermarket; they usually look like they were dragged all the way from Japan 🙂  The mushrooms were perfect; tight and juicy.

I served the vegetables and fish with some odd udon noodles I found in the freezer.  The noodles were a little past their date and stuck together in wads in some places, but worked out.

Sable fish has an exceptionally, sumptuous taste and a large meaty flake that lets you know that it’s cooked just right  😉

Black Cod with Bok Choy and Mushrooms

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup hon mirin

4 tbsp white miso

4  6 ounce skin on sablefish fillets or 8 4 ounce skin on sablefish fillets

 

1/3 cup dashi broth

1 tsp garlic chili sauce

2 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce

1 tsp sesame seed oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

3 -4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

l lb bok choy, sliced

8 ounces portobello mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp peanut oil

Udon noodles

Mix the sake, mirin, miso together and spread on the fish fillets.  Place the fillets in a ziplock and add the remaining miso paste, gently squishing it around.  Flatten the fillets in one layer in the ziplock and turn the bag over whenever you think about it for 2-3 days, keeping them flat in the paste.

Mix together the dashi, chili sauce, mirin, soy sauce and sesame oil and set aside.  Heat the 2 tbsp peanut oil in a large skillet, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, add the bok choy and stir fry for about 3 minutes.  Remove the bok choy and set aside.  Add the mushrooms to the skillet and saute until the mushrooms start to release their juices.  Return the bok choy to the skillet and add half of the dashi mixture, bringing to a boil and steaming for about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Cook the udon noodles, strain, then stir in the other of the half the dashi mixture.  Set aside.

Remove the fish fillets from the marinade and lightly wipe off the miso.  Heat a large, flat skillet with the 2 tbsp peanut oil and add the fillets, skin side down on high heat, cooking for 3 minutes, turn, and continue to cook for 2 minutes.  Serve with the bok choy and noodles.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Easy Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet

First, line out all your “necessaires”, prep and measure out ingredients, get a big skillet.  Take a double swig of a reliable Cremant de Bourgogne and wipe your mouth with the back of your hand.  This should amuse you; it did me 😀

In no time at all you’ll be at the table, looking out of the windows, watching the snow fall.

Easy Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp paprika

A pinch of crushed red pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup water

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 small onion, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, slivered

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 lb smoked kielbasa, sliced

1 small cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, mustard, paprika, red pepper, salt, black pepper and water together.  Set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet, add the onion, garlic and bell pepper, then saute until the onion is vaguely soft.  Add the kielbasa and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add the cabbage and continue to saute until it starts to wilt.  Stir in the vinegar mixture, cover and steam for about 15 minutes.  Boom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lamb Stuffed Aubergine

I saw an old post of mine of when I was in Germany and stuffed a beautiful, round Sicilian aubergine that I got at my favorite store, Bohm’s in Stuttgart.  When the aubergine was roasted, it turned a lovely butternut brown. 

That didn’t happen with these megasize, pear shaped aubergine but they were still good.  Because they weren’t Sicilian and I wasn’t using ground beef, I thought I’d flavor the lamb  a la Indian.

The mixture of aubergine pulp, aromatics and spices was awesome.  From here, if you don’t want to go lamb or meat, you could mix in some cooked rice instead and not suffer from it  🙂

The Indian red chili powder is hot!  I used a teaspoon and a half.  Cut it back 1/2 teaspoon if you are scared 😀

Lamb Stuffed Aubergine

2 large aubergine

2 tbsp ghee

1 onion, chopped

4-5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, chopped

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1 1/2 tsp Indian red chili powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 1/2 lb ground lamb

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 small can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Cut the aubergine in half and hollow them out into boat shapes, leaving a rim.  Coarsely chop the pulp and reserve.

Saute the onion, garlic, ginger and bell pepper in the ghee until every thing is soft.  Stir in the reserved aubergine pulp, cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, coriander powder and garam masala and cook for about 4 minutes.  Remove from the skillet and reserve.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and add the lamb, cooking until all pink is gone.  Drain and discard the lamb fat.

Stir the reserved pulp mixture, the tomatoes and cannellini beans into the skillet with the lamb.  Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring for 5 minutes, then fill the aubergines shells with the mixture.

Place the filled shells in a baking pan, cover with aluminum foil and roast at 350 F for 40 minutes.  Remove the aluminum foil, brush the aubergine shell rims with olive oil, turn the oven up to 400 F and continue to roast for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Indian, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Smoked Pork Neck Bone and Pinto Bean Chili

Over the holidays we went to Baltimore to stay a few days with our son and his girlfriend.  They have a townhouse in an area of Baltimore that is being “gentrified.”  As this area is still in progress, there are still a lot of ethnic grocery stores and restaurants catering to mostly new immigrants, which means authentic!  I grew up in California and can honestly say, not counting Tex-Mex, that I haven’t had Mexican food since I left.  The Taqueria El Sabor del Parque is located about 3 blocks from our son’s house and in the 3 days we stayed, we ate there twice and took some pozole and burritos back to Pennsylvania with us.  Before the last bite was finished, I was dreaming of more.   Their thinly rolled corn and flour tortillas are made on the premises and I’d like to believe patted out by hand but that could be my imagination.   We’re going to have to visit our son more often, because we love him and must eat in that restaurant several more times 😀

Craving more of that “Old Mexico” flavor and remembering that my Mom would make chili beans with ham hocks, I removed some smoked neck bones from the freezer and put some pinto beans in water to soak overnight.  Pinto beans have always been one of my favorites, starting out speckled beige and then turning to pink after cooking.  Magic!

As I gathered all the necessary ingredients for a good chili, I was reminded that next time, besides eating at the same place,  I absolutely have to go shopping in one of the many neighborhood bodegas to get authentic Mexican spices from Baltimore.  I’ve gotten so used to substituting and sacrificing quality for availability.  No more 🙂

My IT Jessie once again knocked over the camera tripod and felt guilty for about 10 seconds, running around and around the island, knowing that she wouldn’t be put outside on her run because it’s way too cold for man or beast.  A failed sous-chef, she took full advantage.

 

When I was overseas, it always amused me that most of my house help didn’t know how to use a can opener.  Surprising it wasn’t an easy thing to teach, more than one session was needed.  I assumed that it was because 1) canned items are more expensive than fresh, home grown fruits, vegetables and legumes and 2) many were suspicious that food came in a can, especially fish.  Can openers were unknown and meaningless in their culture.

At home, in the U.S., I find myself amazed and amused by the younger generation of Americans who also do not know how to use can openers!  I imagine if a can doesn’t have a tab opener on it, then only really old people buy it 😀  Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  Thank God I have lots, they’re probably antiques!

Smoked Pork Neck Bone and Pinto Bean Chili

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5-6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 tbsp Mexican chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1/2 tsp piment d’espelette

1 lb pinto beans, soaked overnight

1 lb smoke neck bones

1 16 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute the onion, garlic and bell peppers in the oil until soft.  Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano and piment d’espelette and cook with the vegetables for about 2 minutes.  Add the beans, neck bones, tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 -2 hours until the beans have a creamy texture but still maintain their shapes.

Serve with heated corn tortillas, grated cheese, chopped scallions, chopped tomatoes and hot salsa.

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Mexican, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Chicken with Sage Potatoes and Snow Peas

All of the other herbs in my garden are dead, but my sage is still “killing it” as my son likes to say.  To show my admiration and appreciation of sage power, I decided to include it in someway with my meal today.

I’ve told you a few or many times that my mother would cook green beans, ham hocks and potatoes together until the beans were gray and the potatoes melting.  I decided to use this idea with snow peas, pancetta, potatoes and sage, jettisoning the extreme cooking method.

My Mom’s vegetables were always interesting, though overcooked.  She would always add some extra, even if it was only onion.  We loved her overcooked spinach with vinegar and boiled eggs.  She would boil corn on the cob until they screamed for mercy, but sprinkled with paprika and slathered in butter, you would get no complaints from us.

This was nice with the sage and pancetta.  Bacon or lardons would serve as well.

Now that I’ve discovered kosher chickens, I’m much more secure and comfortable cooking chicken in the U.S.  I don’t know what makes a chicken kosher, but unlike most chickens, they taste like chicken, aren’t packed with loads of unhealthy looking, discolored fat and have normal size breasts.

I cut this chicken up in the normal fashion, albeit a little wildly.  My everyday knives need to be sharpened and I think I’ve found a place.

This is my usual oven chicken; salt, pepper, flour, melted butter in the pan.

Sage Potatoes and Snow Peas

1/3 cup pancetta

1/4 cup sage, chopped

2 tbsp butter

1 lb mini potatoes, boiled and halved

1 1/2 cups snow peas

2-3 tbsp chicken broth

Lightly brown the pancetta in a large skillet, stir in the sage, then add 2 tbsp butter.  Gently stir in the potatoes until they are coated with butter, then stir in the snow peas.  Add 2-3 tbsp chicken broth to the pan, cover and steam for 2-3 minutes.

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments