Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Salad on North Texas Now

Madame's students asked if I would do a guest segment on the North Texas Now television show that they produce. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But it was scheduled for October 26 - a bitterly cold and blustery day to be out in the Botanic Garden in Fort Worth. The segment was only going to long enough for one dish and a crafty technique. I chose to make a fall salad with a warm onion/kiwi/clementine dressing. It had yellow tomatoes so it looked proper for the season, and some baked pita chips to give it some crunch.
Halving small tomatoes is a pain to do, but luckily there is a trick to i. Here's a link to the blog page that illustrates the "trick" (albeit with olives, but the principle applies). Wow your friends and family with your knife skills as you zip through masses of small tomatoes in a matter of seconds.

Ingredients (serves 8 as a side salad)

1/4 cup olive oil (doesn't need to be extra virgin)
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped - not diced small, you want some size and shape
2 kiwi fruit peeled and each sliced into 8 or 9 slices
3 clementines, peeled and segmented (use canned mandarins without their juice if you prefer)
24 yellow cherry tomatoes halved (by the technique referenced above to save time)
1 lemon - zest and juice
Some roughly torn lettuce leaves (or baby spinach as a substitute if you wish)
A handful of baked pita chips broken into small bite sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste.


In a large skillet (preferably non-stick) heat the oil gently over medium heat. When shimmering, add the onion and stir. Cook slowly (sweat) the onion for about 8 minutes to soften it, but do not allow to brown. When the onion is softened, add the sliced kiwis, the segmented clementines and the lemon zest. Heat through, stirring gently so as not to break up the fruits. When warmed through turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and stir to combine. This essentially makes the dressing from the pan contents + the lemon juice.
Meanwhile place the lettuce, pita chips and tomatoes in one large or several individual bowls. Add the dressing (solids and liquids) over the top of the greens, tomatoes and pita chips. Season to taste.
Serve while still warm.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicken Peanut Soup

Yeah, I know this sounds crazy, but it came out really nicely. Madame had been feeling under the weather a bit, so I wanted to make sure that she had something tasty, hearty and comforting for dinner when she came home yesterday - especially as I was out drinking good red wine and eating fantastic pizza!
I had recently watched an episode of "The Minimalist" - Mark Bittman's somewhat crazy cooking show. Crazy because it is about cooking more than it is about recipes. Also, I think he is certifiably mad (in a good way!). So as usual, I will tell you what I did. You can treat it as a recipe, but I suspect it is pretty forgiving. The only real thing to worry about is having it become too brothy. It wants to be the thickness of cream at the end. Luckily that thickness can be controlled by the amount of peanut butter added.


3T grapeseed oil
1 medium onion - finely diced
1" piece of ginger, grated
2 large garlic cloves, minced to a paste
4 chicken thighs - skinned, boned and cut into 3/4" chunks
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts roughly chopped
a pinch (or 2!) of cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken stock (home made preferably)
3 cups water
3 small sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/3" thick rounds
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes. Drained, tomatoes roughly chopped
1 bunch of curly kale - leaves only, stripped from the stalk. roughly chopped, large pieces.
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 cup chunky, unsweetened peanut butter (I used one of the "natural" varieties)


Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven until shimmering. Add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add the chicken and continue to cook until the chicken is lightly colored on all sides. The chicken is NOT fully cooked at this stage. Add the peanuts and the cayenne and stir to combine. Add the stock/water combination and the sweet potatoe slices. Make sure the sweet potato slices are well distributed through the pot, and are immersed in liquid. Bring to a gentle boil, add the chopped tomatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the kale and simmer until the sweet potatoes are just tender.
Stir in the peanut butter until the desired thickness is reached. Check the seasonings, adding salt/pepper, to taste.

It did get the "we can serve this to people" accolade, so it must have been good! Thanks to Mark Bittman and the New York Times for the inspiration

Monday, October 22, 2012

The brisket and the egg

Ok, this was to be the acid test. Can the big green egg (and this operator) turn out an edible brisket? You know the one that has great bark, is meltingly tender, tremendous flavor and doesn't need sauce.
The bottom line is yes! And really without any great difficulty. I used my standard technique of rubbing the dry rub on, wrapping the meat in cling wrap and refrigerating for at least 8 hours.  As always, the rub was going to be critical. None of the kinds of floral/aromatic notes that I use on pork. Just some bold spicing, but nothing too fiery.


2T coarse sea salt
2T black pepper corns
2t coriander seed
1t cumin seed
8 cardomom seed pods - seeds only
1 ancho chile, seeds removed
2T Smoked paprika
1T sweet paprika
2t cayenne powder
1t powdered ginger
1T garlic powder
1T onion powder
1/4 cup jaggery (Indian crystallized sugar cane) - can use light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt (Morton's)
12 lbs brisket - with fat cap on


Grind the first 6 ingredients to make a fine powder. The coarse salt helps grind the coriander finely. Mix in the remaining rub ingredients. Pat the brisket dry, and rub the spice mixture into it thoroughly. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours - or overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to come up to room temperature. Smoke (over oak wood) for at least 11 hours at 225F. Longer would be OK too.
Remove from smoker, allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Slice thinly and serve.