I always have these grandiose visions about my perfect day off. I picture myself reading and drinking a great latte, or working on my cookbook, or getting outdoors and doing something adventurous. well, if you are like me, that. never. happens.
I started off the day by thinking I was going to make some banana bread and then go on to doing something else. As I was waiting for that to bake, I thought that I would try a recipe I saw last week for a blueberry cake, so I mixed that up and had it ready to put in when the bread came out. Then, I got to thinking that I would make some pain de campagne, just to see how it would turn out at home in my own oven. Just now pulled the last bread out of the oven. Maybe I was a little too ambitious today. Oh yeah, I am "barreling" 12 pounds of pickles today also. I'm out of vinegar and am going to look for an appropriate receptacle in which to place them.
Ok, in no particular order (I'm positive you'll match them up:) here are some of last week's tasties: Pork chili, loaded baked tates with garden veg and corn, mole-braised short ribs with cornbread, and croque madames with paprika bechamel. The pork chili was made with leftover smoked porkchop from the last post. I can't say enough about using up your leftovies and making different things with them. anytime I can get two completely different meals out of one original meal, I feel pretty good.
I'm really into seeing how far I can stretch things right now. It has kind of become an obsession. I actually made a snack out of some of the cornbread by simmering chicken stock and the mole sauce and then adding crumbled cornbread in there until it broke down and was kind of a rough, polenta type thing. As weird as that sounds, it was pretty tasty. ok, getting side-tracked...do you love baked potatoes? OF COURSE YOU DO! If you don't, you're either crazy, or you haven't had a good one. Right now you are asking yourself if a baked potato can be bad aren't you. well the answer is yes, oh, it can be bad. Tips to follow.
The real sleeper-hit of the menu last week was the mole braise. It was an idea I had that worked out nicely, but next time will reserve some of the sauce for plating (braising the ribs in the sauce made for an extremely fatty end result. not to say that you can't de-fat the sauce, it is kind of annoying and takes more time then I would like it to. Also, made some croque madames for lunch yesterday, adding paprika into the bechamel, which was a really nice addition.
yeah, I know, this was a ridiculously random post...I drank a whole pot of coffee earlier and am trying to fit this in using time I've already run out of. Feeling kind of jittery...Need to seriously prioritize...
emile henry loaf pan: Got this a couple of years ago. It's pretty much the best loaf pan ever. just thought you guys would want to know that. Used it to make banana bread.
6-7 dried de-veined, de-seeded, chiles (such as ancho or new mexico) soaked in boiling water for about 20 minutes
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
6 all spice berries
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 14 0z can beef broth
3 cloves garlic
15 oz. mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra)
1 tsp kosher salt.
Drain the chiles and add to a blender along with the garlic, salt, beef broth, and mexican chocolate. Meanwhile, add whole spices (cumin, coriander, peppercorns) to spice grinder and pulverize thems. Add the ground spices to the blender. Blend for about a minute. now you are ready to braise/sauce something!!! If you are going to use this as a sauce, just put into a pot and simmer for about 20 minutes. If braising, add to a pot/dish and then add meat or veggies and cover with more sauce. low heat is best (stovetop-low) (oven, 300F) cooking times will vary depending on what you make, duh!
Baked tates tips for greatness:
don't turn on your oven...yet...I mean it. ok, here we go. Wash and scrub your potatoes (use russets, I'm serious!). Pierce them all over with pairing knife. Given them a quick rubdown with veg oil and then roll them in kosher salt (don't worry, if it seems like a lot of salt, well, it IS a lot of salt, but we'll scrape that off later.) Place on a baking sheet and then put into your cold oven. Now, turn your oven on to 425 degrees F. Check potatoes after about 1 hour. This will take about 1-1.5 hours depending on size. ok, now, here are my reasons for doing this:
1. I don't like soggy potato skins ( no foil here!)
2. by piercing the potato all over and rolling it in oil/salt, I believe that extra flavor gets down in it's deeps.
3. (my weird unproven theory, but tasty, I assure you) you start boiling potatoes in cold water right? RIGHT? of course you do, friendlies:) So why don't you start baking them that way? (This probably has no effect whatsoever, but I am convinced it does. If nothing else, it will make people think that you are onto something.) I feel that by doing this (just like when boiling tates for mash) you end up with a fluffier, non-gummy, non-starchtastic tate.
So, to summarize here: You end up with a super fluffy, super tasty potato that the salt and oil has drawn excess moisture out of, and the cold start has eliminated the chance that you will end up with a gummy mess. Give it a shot at least once. think of all the foil you'll save, you can even do this with it!
ps. don't forget to rub/scrape off the baked on salt on the potato skin. I guess you could eat it, or If you have a pet pony, they would love to lick it off!