Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mexican Rice and Chorizo

This weekend we went to a friend's home for a wonderful cookout, a great time to catch up with friends and have some delicious food to end the summer break.  I had an idea to create a Mexican rice and sausage dish.  I was inspired by a dish my mother-in-law used to make with rice and sausage.  However, I wanted to take things in a spicier direction using chorizo, peppers, and spices.  This recipe has a fairly mild spice level.  If you want to kick up the heat, you can always add in some cayenne or siracha.  The dish was a hit and so here it is for you to enjoy!

Mexican Rice and Chorizo before adding cheese
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
5 chorizo sausage links
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
4 ears of corn
1 tablespoon rice bran oil (or canola oil)

Dressing and spices
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon guajillo chili powder
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or canola oil)
Juice from 1 1/2 limes

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese

Cook the rice according the package directions. I highly recommend a rice cooker.  Before we got one, we always cooked it on the stove.  However, it rarely had a fluffy texture and was almost always wet and sticky.  Getting a rice cooker is an excellent investment if you like rice.  I will never go back to cooking it on the stove.

Remove the chorizo sausage from the casings and discard the casings.  Brown it on the stove, stirring  frequently to break the meat up into smaller bites.  Once cooked, set chorizo aside and drain off any excess grease.

Dice the onion and peppers and cut the corn off the cob.  Warm the oil in a large frying pan and begin sautéing the onions.  After they turn translucent, add the peppers and corn.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until the veggies are cooked through, about 6 minutes.   

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and stir well.  Now that all the ingredients have been cooked, you can begin combining the different components.  In a large bowl, add the warm rice, veggies and sausage.  Gradually add the dressing and continue to stir the rice to coat it with all the delicious flavors.  Once it is well mixed, add the cilantro and transfer to a baking dish. 

Top the dish with the Mexican blend cheese.  Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees so that the cheese is melted.  Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Winning Food Products at DC Metropolitan Cooking Show

My wife, daughter, and I attended the Metropolitan Cooking Show in DC on November 3-4.  This makes the third time I have attended.  There are aisles of food product booths set up handing out samples, trying to entice you to buy their products.  There is no short supply of olive oils, dips, sauces, desserts, spices, drink mixes.  You name it, they probably had it.  The show also features celebrity chefs who provide entertainment with their cooking demos.  This year, we attended the cooking demos by Iron Chef Michael Symon and Carla Hall of The Chew as well as legendary chef Jacques Pepin with his daughter Claudine.  All were quite entertaining and provide great inspiration to those who love to cook. 

Below are my top 10 favorite foods from the show.  I have put a link to each of their businesses for you to check out.  Each one is a small business owner.  I am sure each would appreciate your business this Christmas season. 

Carolina Candy Company

If you love chocolate covered toffee, this is the product for you.  This is the best toffee I have found. The chocolate is smooth and very high quality.  The toffee is crunchy, yet melts in your mouth when you eat it.  This toffee will be snapped up quickly around your house. 

Emily G's Jam of Love

Emily G's has a large collection of 18 jams to chose from.  The hardest part is picking which one you want to buy.  My favorites are the Triple Berry, Cranberry Port, and Cabernet Sauvignon jams.  The finest ingredients go into these jams and you can tell in the finished product.  The flavor profiles in these jams are useful in many different types of sweet and savory recipes.   

Basik's Spice Blends

This company specializes in blended spice mixes.  I like to have a large selection of different spices at home to use in my cooking.  These are also great in olive oil to create a special dip for parties.  They can be used as a rub before grilling or roasting or added to your veggies when sauteing.  My favorites are the Italian Blend, Key Lime Citrus, or Hunter Blend. 

Dimitri Olive Oil

This olive oil from Greece is quite outstanding.  The olive oil is unfiltered and has a truly wonderful depth of flavor.  The fruity flavor is rich and goes well in both salads and sauteing.   

Tom's Roid-Rippin BBQ Sauce

Barbecue sauces are a popular commodity at the food show.  This one was my favorite barbecue sauce.  I prefer some sweetness in my sauces and the mixture with the mesquite flavors here make for a great sauce.

Tsp Spices

This company sells collection of complimentary spices in small teaspoon sealed packets.  These are perfect for adding to recipes in the right amount.  Since each package is sealed, each remains fresh until you use it.  The spice profiles include Game Day Chili, Cookie Jar, Dinner for Two,  and Sweet Heat.  They also have a holiday collections. 

Sarah N' Dippity Salsa

As with the barbecue sauces, there are many types of salsa at the show.  They range from the very mild to the kinds that leave you breathing fire.  The Sarah N Dippity salsa came out as my winner.  The fire roasted flavor of the tomatoes and peppers really set this one apart from the others.  They had a mild and spicy variety and each was just the right amount of heat for those categories.  This salsa would make a great hit with friends and family.

Cookies and Corks

This company specializes in selling cookies that can be paired with wine.  We bought some of these cookies a couple of years ago and served them at a party pairing them with different kinds of wine.  Folks at the party really enjoyed trying the cookies and wine.  The company sells three different types of boxes, one for white wine, one for reds, and one for sparkling wine.  Some cookies are sweet and others are savory.  These would be fun to have at your New Year's party.   

La Boella Olive Oil

This olive oil from Spain is also quite good and has won many awards in Spain.  I am a fan of arbequina olive oils in general, but this one rises to the top.  I really like the spicy notes in this olive oil. 

No Bull Burger

I don't have a picture of these scrumptious veggie burgers.  However, check out their website for info about their products.  While I love my beef, I am also becoming a fan of a good veggie burger.  This one ranks very highly on my list.  My only regret was that we couldn't buy any at the show since they needed to be refrigerated and we had no way to keep them cold until we got home.  I will have to look for them in the future. 

Hope you check out some of these small businesses.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Carla Hall Visits Columbia Wegmans

This weekend my daughter and I were at the movies.  To my surprise, when I checked Facebook news feed, I saw that Carla Hall was across the street at the Columbia Wegmans signing her brand new cookbook Cooking with Love.  Carla Hall is one of the hosts on the TV show "The Chew" and a former contestant on Bravo's "Top Chef."  My wife and I have taken cooking classes with Carla prior to her role in her new show.  She is a wonderful teacher and cooks with such passion while having so much fun in the process.  We got our copy of "Cooking with Love" signed by her and my daughter, who was a little shy about meeting someone on TV, was so thrilled.  I haven't had a chance to read through the cookbook yet, but glancing through the recipes, I know that I will be making many of the recipes in this cookbook.  The book has her recipe for her Chicken Pot Pie which was such an extraordinary hit on Top Chef.  Looking forward to trying it myself.   

Wegmans had a great setup for the signing.  They had made about 10 recipes from Carla's cookbook and was giving out samples of the finished result.  Some of the highlights were Salmon Cakes, Pecan Shortbread, Beer Barbecued Beef Brisket, and Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce.  Thanks Wegmans for putting on a great event. 

If you are looking for great Christmas ideas, you can also check out Carla's cookie business and order a tin of cookies for a special gift.  Check out her website at:  Alchemy by Carla Hall.  You can buy a collection of either sweet or savory cookies.  We have purchased some in the past and they are delicious. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fun at The Family Market

A new grocery store has opened in the Long Reach Village Center.  The Family Market gives the Columbia area a new great place to shop for produce, meats, Asian, and Latin Foods.  Thanks to HowChow for alerting me to this great new place.  It is a cross between the typical American grocery store and the typical Asian style groceries.  I have visited HMart in Catonsville several times and always loved buying produce and meats.  For those who a little overwhelmed by the vast selection of products that you can't identify at HMart, you should give The Family Market a try. 

I went to try out the grocery store today to find some fun things to make.  I will share some of the results in future posts.  The store was clean.  The employees were helpful and spoke English.  They had lots of great produce at fantastic prices.  In addition to the aisles of Asian food products, they also have aisles of Latin food products and traditional American products.  It is easy to identify most of the Asian products, with some English on the products.  Some of the roducts include large and small bags of rice, noodles, sauces, seaweed, oils, spices, and Asian snacks and candies. The Latin section featured a large array of dried beans and dried chilies of different types.  The Asian and Latin products were very well-priced, while the American products were slightly higher compared to your typical Giant or Safeway.     

Just to show you how great the produce prices were, I wanted to share with you my produce purchase. 

1.2 Pounds Red Seedless Grapes
1Yellow Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1 Lemon
1 Jalapeno Pepper
2 Limes
3 Stalks Lemon Grass
Handful of Thai Red Chilies
0.9 Pounds Yams
1 Piece of Ginger
Pack of Dried Chilies
1 Bunch Carrots
4 Plum Tomatoes
1 Pack Sun dried Tomatoes
2 Pounds Baby Red Potatoes
1 Pound Shallots
2 Red Onions
1 Bunch Green Onions
2 Fuji Apples

Any guesses on the cost of this?  Drum roll please ....  $18.21. 

The meat section contains great cuts of beef, pork, chicken, duck, and an array of seafood.  In addition, I was able to buy a dozen cage-free eggs for only $1.29. 

Great fun exploring a new find in Columbia!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A New Experiment: Sous Vide Lamb Tagine

For Christmas, my wife and I got a sous vide appliance and vacuum bag sealer.  For Thanksgiving, I borrowed one from a friend to try it out.  Preparing food sous vide simply means that your food is vacuum sealed in a bag and cooked in a low temperature water bath.  This idea has always seemed a little strange to me.  I had seen chefs on a number of cooking shows try to cook food sous vide, but wasn't sure if it was really worth the effort.  The Thanksgiving experiment produced one awesome turkey and made me a believer.  So we decided that it would be a great addition to our kitchen.  After the food cooks in the vacuum sealed bag, it can be served immediately or you can take the food and apply another cooking technique like searing it, frying it, or cooking it with freshly sauteed vegetables. There are so many choices of things you can do.  In my first use of my new toy, I decided to try something out of the blue rather than follow a given recipe.  What could go wrong?  Well, things don't always turn out to be fantastic, but this one was in fact incredible, a super tender Moroccan lamb dish with a burst of flavors.
Sous Vide Lamb Tagine

Ingredients for the sous vide:
2 pounds of boneless leg of lamb, cubed
2 tablespoons of tagine spice blend
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon harissa spice
2 teaspoons ras el hanout spice blend
2 teaspoons onion powder
3 stalks of flat leaf parsley
3 stalks of cilantro
1/3 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional ingredients for cooking tagine:
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons ras el hanout
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup half and half

1/3 cup almonds, toasted
3 shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
Curried couscous, such as Near East brand
Cooked Peas

Cut the lamb into bit-sized pieces, trimming off the excess fat.  Melt the butter and add in the all of the sous vide spices.  Coat the lamb in the butter and spice mixture.  To the lamb, add in the dried apricots and tomatoes.  Place the lamb mixture in a sous vide bag.  Add in the stalks of parsley and cilantro.  Vacuum seal the bag and let sit in refrigerator overnight. 

Prepare the sous vide machine with water and set the temperature to 155 degrees.  Place the vacuum sealed lamb in the water and cook for 9 hours.

Once the lamb has finished the sous vide cooking, open the sous vide bag and remove the parsley and cilantro as well as the apricots.  Heat the butter in a skillet and add in the lamb.  Cook at a low temperature and add the ras el hanout, coriander, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Add in the half and half, and simmer slowly for 5 more minutes.

To prepare the other components, toast the almonds with a drizzle of olive oil.  Saute the shallots in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 8 minutes, until they are well-browned.  Cook the peas and couscous to serve with the lamb.  With my dish, I used frozen peas and the Near East curried couscous. 

To serve the meal, plate the couscous and lamb.  Sprinkle the lamb with the toasted almonds.  On the side, plate a spoonful of the caramelized shallots.  Hope you enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

African Chicken Curry

One of my favorite products to buy at Williams-Sonoma is their collection of ground spices. They have so many varieties from regions all around the world. Recently, I wanted to experiment with the African Curry Powder that I bought. African curry powder is a mixture of a large number of different spices, including corriander, onion, cumin, tumeric, ginger, cardamom, curry leaves, fenugreek, cilantro, mustard, cinammon, and pepper. All of these combine together to produce an extraordinary taste experience. This spicy curry dish was the exciting result.

One half of a large onion, diced
One poblano pepper, diced
One jalepeno pepper, finely diced
One half cup of diced eggplant
One fourth cup of shredded coconut
Two tablespoons canola oil
Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Two tablespoons African curry powder
One half teaspoon corriander
One garlic clove, minced
One cup chicken broth
One half cup coconut milk
Two tablespoons half and half
One fourth cup golden raisins
One fourth cup chopped cilantro
Salt and Pepper

To begin, prepare the vegetables. Dice the onions, peppers, and eggplant. Heat one tablespoon of canola oil in the pan and cook the onions for 3 minutes. Add in the peppers, eggplant, and shredded coconut and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Dice the uncooked chicken breasts into small bite-sized pieces. Coat the chicken with the other tablespoon of canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the vegetables to cook. Continue cooking the mixture until the chicken is cooked through. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, diced garlic, African curry powder, and corriander. Season again with salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for approximately 15 minutes. Finally add in the half and half, golden raisins, and cilantro. Mix all ingredients together until they are well blended. Serve the curry over rice or couscous and garnish with fresh cilantro. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chickpea, Coconut, and Cilantro Burgers

Hello all. I am back to writing a new blog entry again. I had hopes of writing up several recipes from the summer, but plans don't always work out. One thing that I did do this summer was to go to a food festival in Cardiff, Wales. It was a fun day of trying food samples, attending cooking demos, and exploring the Cardiff Bay Area. There were many food booths set up to sell food to the masses of people there. Early in the day, I saw one booth that intrigued me, a booth from Greta's Wholefoodies.

I had a Curried Chickpea, Coconut, and Coriander Burger. It was so flavorful and delicious. I had never had a sandwich quite like it before. Later in the day, I wanted to get something else to eat. I had so many places to choose from, but I decided to go back for another one of these burgers. Ever since I have been home, I have wanted to recreate one of these burgers myself. This past weekend, I had a chance to experiment and was very happy how the result turned out. I see that Greta's website has a list of ingredients for their burgers. However, I was very happy that I tried to recreate it without seeing what their ingredients were.

So enjoy this great vegetarian sandwich.

Burger Ingredients

15 1/2 ounce can of chick peas
1/2 onion, small dice
1/3 cup carrot, small dice
1/2 cup coconut
1 tablespoon jalapeno, finely diced
1 teaspoon corriander seed
1 1/2 tablespoons madras curry powder
1 teaspoon garam marsala
1 egg
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
salt and pepper

Slaw Ingredients

2 cups chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon corriander
1/2 teaspoon siracha
pinch of salt and pepper

Combine the coconut, curry powder, garam marsala, and coriander seed. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil in a pan and cook the coconut and spice mixture over medium heat for about 3 minutes stirring occasianally to prevent burning. Drain and wash the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to the coconut mixture and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt while it is cooking. Put the chickpea mixture into a food processor and blend until the chickpeas are just crushed and mixed with the spices.

Add the other 1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil to the pan and saute the onions, carrots, and jalapeno until slightly browned. Once done, combine with the chickpeas. Beat the egg and add to the mixture along with the rice flour. Mix well to form a dough. Add in the chopped cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

Roll the dough out on a cutting board. Form the burgers using a large biscuit cutter. Depending on how thick you like your burgers, the recipe should make between 4-8 patties. Once they are cut, place them on a plate or flat surface and freeze for at least 15 minutes. This will help the burgers stay together while cooking.

To cook the burgers, add a tablespoon of cooking oil to a nonstick skillet. When oil is hot, add burgers and cook on each side approximately 3-4 minutes until the patties start to brown. You could also try this on a grill surface, using care that the burgers do not fall apart. If you do this, I would recommend using a grill tray instead of putting them directly on the grates.

Prepare the slaw ingredients by combining all of the ingredients together. Serve the burgers on a regular bun, flatbread, pita, or no bread
with a serving of slaw on each.

If you don't cook all of the burgers, you could easily package them up, freeze them, and take them out as you need them. Enjoy!