Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cooking Extravaganza!

Tonight, I had a cooking extravaganza. They've been working me to the bone at work for like 3 weeks, I haven't turned on my stove in like 2 weeks, its been rough. But, tonight, I finally got to leave by 6:15, so I got home in time to cook dinner for myself! It made me so happy, I love cooking.

So I was, perhaps, a little ambitious; I made hummus, beans, and tortilla soup.

The hummus was the quick thing that I could make so I could eat soon after getting home. I've made it before, and I'll make it again. Particularly because I haven't quite gotten the texture right. But also, its fun to see how the different flavors come through. This time, in trying to get it smoother, I added too much tahini, so in flavor and textured, it needed to be balanced by olive oil and lemon. Both times I've made it, the raw garlic is too strong. But I think this is the fun part of the recipe. Eventually, I would like to start adding different flavors like you can get in the store (roasted peppers, roasted garlic, uhm, etc.) but for now, I'm sticking to the basic recipe.

a la Mark Bittman

2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas, cooking liquid reserved if possible (I cooked mine but I don't think it matters)
1/2 cup tahini with some of its oil if you like, more to taste
1/4 cup evoo, plus more for garnish
2 cloves of garlic peeled
juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 table spoon ground cumin, or paprika, or cayenne
parsley for garnish (I never have any, so I leave it out)

Put everything into your handy dandy food processor. Blend until smooth. Add cooking liquid or water to reach desired consistency. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with pita or veggies.

(It should be said now, I don't measure anything. I pretty much just add the listed ingredients, and taste things. Which can work well, or can be a disaster. So tasting and adjusting is an important step.)

So after the hummus was made and eaten, a bottle of wine was opened, and two episodes of Scrubs were watched, I started the recipes that actually count towards the challenge.

My grandmother always made beans in a pressure cooker, and until recently, I thought that it was special somehow. Turns out, its just so that it is faster.

Recipe #3: Beans
a la Diana Kennedy

This recipe is for a lot more beans than I made. I think I only had maybe half a pound of beans. I didn't want to commit to a full pound of beans on my first attempt :)

1 pound of dried beans (I used pintos, but you can also use black beans)
10 to 12 cups of hot water
1/3 cups roughly sliced white onion
2 tablespoons pork lard (I don't have any, I used shortening)
salt to taste

Rinse the beans, and remove anything that is not a bean (rocks, dirt clumps, etc). Put them in a pot, and more than cover them with hot water. Add onions and lard and bring to a boil. Once it boils, cover and lower to a simmer. Time varies greatly here; I cooked them for about an hour and 20 minutes, Diana says 2.5 hours to 4 hours for black beans. Basically,cook until the beans are soft and the skins are breaking open. Add salt, cook for another half hour, until the beans are completely soft.

Tomorrow, or sometime this weekend I'm going to refry the beans, so that will be another recipe. (I tried to today, but it wasn't working, so I aborted the plan.)

Recipe #4 Tortilla Soup
a la Diana Kennedy

This is not at all the tortilla soup recipe I grew up with, which called for a can of corn, can of beans, can of tomatoes and a chopped up zucchini. But all I needed was to use up the disaster tortillas from 2 weeks ago, so I chose this recipe instead, which just calls for broth and fried tortillas.

Vegetable oil for frying
tortillas for frying, cut into strips and dried
12 ounces tomatoes, broiled (actually, because its the middle of February in New York, I used canned tomatoes...)
1 garlic clove
6 cups chicken stock
2 large springs epazote (I couldn't find any, so I omitted)
2 pasilla chiles, fried crisp
6 tablespoons grated cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet, fry the chiles. Remove them, put them in the food processor. Add tomatoes, garlic, onion, and process until smooth. Add to oil in a pot, and fry for about 5 minutes, until sauce is well seasoned and has reduced. (Warning, this will bubble like CRAZY. My stove top is currently a MESS. Cover this with a lid or a splatter cover thing.) Add chicken broth and continue to cook.
Fry the tortillas until lightly browned. Make sure that they are crispy, not just damp with oil (like my first batch). Just before serving, add epazote. Serve each portion with cheese and crispy tortilla strips.

Yay for cooking!

1 comment:

effer64 said...

Hola, banana: One quick suggestion- epazote is an amazing herb. Don't leave it out of the recipe, as it is a crucial part of any recipe that calls for it. Think of making pesto without any basil ("I didn't have any, so I omitted"??)