Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adobo chicken with rice

I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first Penzys spice shop to open in the Carolinas, but my neighbor beat me to it. It's OK, though, since she thoughtfully brought me a spice blend that I didn't even know had been woefully absent from my cupboard.

I am now the happy owner of an aromatic jar of Adobo seasoning, which Penzys says includes onion, garlic, Tellicherry black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin and cayenne pepper. Sounds simple enough, but there really is something quite lovely about the balance that made tonight's dinner so good that it was gone before I thought to take a photo.

I used a cupful of rich, gelatinous turkey stock, the final gift from our holiday bird, which I feel sure was the magic that pulled all the flavors together. It's an indulgent ingredient, however, and one that I'll use in Scrooge-like fashion until the last luscious cube is gone from the freezer. If you're not so lucky, substitute your favorite store-bought broth.

2-3 tbsp canola oil, divided
6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
2 tsp Adobo seasoning (or to taste)
salt, pepper
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeno
1 cup homemade turkey broth (or store-bought chicken broth)
1 cup water
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar (optional)

Pour 1-2 tbsp oil in clay cazuela or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Generously sprinkle meatier side of chicken thighs with Adobo, arrange spice-side down in pot. Dust other side lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, then flip. When done, remove to a dish and keep warm.

Add remaining oil to pot along with diced onion. Reduce heat and sweat 4-5 minutes, then add sherry, stirring well to loosen any browned bits. When mostly reduced, add rice and stir well to coat. Add stock, can of tomatoes (with juice) and about a cup of water. Increase heat and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 10 minutes.

Give the rice a stir then tuck in the chicken pieces and any juices. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes. If rice is still soupy, remove chicken and simmer uncovered until thickened. Return chicken to pan for last minute, then serve. If desired -- and we did -- garnish with cheese.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pumpkin kugel

With Hanukkah coming so close on the heels of Thanksgiving, I am happily changing gears to decorate the house tomorrow. I also have made the transition from thinking about a juicy turkey to crispy latkes. While there are no visions of sugar plums in this house, but I did entertain a somewhat festive take on kugel today, thanks to an abundance of canned pumpkin in the cupboard.

I have to credit Bittman with the inspiration (No. 35), but I wound up making essentially the same kugel I make every holiday, only substituting a can of pumpkin for the more traditional jar of apricot preserves. There were a few other tweaks, too, like some brown sugar, nutmeg and orange zest.

1 16 oz bag egg noodles
3 eggs, beaten
1 24 oz container low-fat cottage cheese (such as Light 'N Lively)
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1 cup 2% milk
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
zest of one small orange
4 cups corn flakes, crushed
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook egg noodles to al dente in a large pot of salted water. Drain and rinse lightly to cool.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream and pumpkin; stir well to combine. Add milk, stir until smooth. Mix in brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and zest.

Add noddles, stirring well to combine. Coat 9x13 casserole lightly with vegetable oil spray and pour mix into dish. Top with crushed corn flakes and dot with butter.

Bakes 45 minutes or until set. Cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lost, then Found

I have only the most vague recollection of having snipped the recipe from the newspaper, an event that probably happened some 20 years ago. I'll never forget, however, the panic at realizing the directions for the single-most important part of my Thanksgiving feast -- my savory, jewel-toned cranberry-apple chutney -- was missing, and that even a friend with whom I share such treasures also could not find it.

I spent several years trying to recreate this lost gem with very mixed success. In the days before Google, locating an unsourced recipe was a mostly fruitless challenge. Thankfully, I finally found a copy I'd saved electronically, and promptly taped it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet.

This year, however, during a fit of purging old magazines and boxes of dusty clippings, I came across the original, yellowed with age and spotted with the evidence of past holidays. It was almost like finding a forgotten childhood photo. The kind where you actually look good.

Suffice it to say, as many times as I've made this, it's easier to get it right when you've got the directions in front of you. I've changed it a bit: a Granny Smith apple instead of a Jonathan; the zest of a lemon; more nuts and no cloves. I've also used fresh apple cider instead of water. Watching it transform from bright chunks into into a deep-hued jam is lovely thing, and the thought of not only enjoying  it with the tomorrowq's dinner but also later dolloped on sandwiches is, for me, proof that Thanksgiving is worth every bit of effort.


3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups raw cranberries (not frozen)
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup diced walnuts

In a large saucepan, stir together brown sugar, water, lemon juice and zest, salt and spices; stir over medium heat to combine. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

Cool about 10 minutes then check for flavor balance. If too tangy, add more brown sugar or a spoonful of honey; mix well. Refrigerate, ideally at least 24 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Linguine with Carolina Clams

We're all eager for Thanksgiving here, but the arrival of the holiday also signals the end of our weekly deliveries of fresh seafood from Walking Fish, our excellent community supported fishery.

With just one more post-turkey day delivery left, we decided to make this most of this week's generous order of three bags of clams. We had expected one bag and some flounder, but Tim arrived late and they apologetically explained this was all that was left. We were delighted.

It's been a long time since I've made linguine and clams, so I relied on Bittman  for directions. Since I didn't have fresh tomatoes, I added a can of drained, diced tomatoes with garlic. It came together quickly and the plump clams retained their briny charm while soaking in the white wine broth, which was delicious mopped up with ciabatta.

My concern about whether the leftovers would reheat well vanished along with the mountain of clams, which Tim and Graham opted to stack in decidedly different styles. It was easy and delicious. Even Gimel agreed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Can you guess?

In this era of incivility and assumption, it would be wrong to make a snap judgment about an unfamiliar foodstuff, especially one recommended by an elderly auntie, without even trying it. Even if it looked really weird but came from a reliable source. Right?

I'm generally suspicious of food that most people won't touch by hand -- like dark, slippery beef liver, which even hearty butchers generally pluck from a sloshy container with a long-handled prong. Tonight's presumed delicacy, a pale buttery orange in its semi-natural state, came sheathed in a baggie to keep it apart from its famously scrumptious other parts.

For me, that's about as much a deal-breaker as a finding the word fennel in an otherwise intriguing menu option. Not so for Tim. These tubular oddities intrigued him.

Since he'd started a charcoal grill for the desirable main course, he figured he'd toss these on as well. Nicely charred and apparently cooked, he carried them in for sampling. Gamely setting one on his plate, he sliced off a chunk and chewed. Then he ate another. "Not bad," he said. "Interesting."

I think a man describing something as "interesting" is akin to a woman saying something is "fine." Nontheless, I took a portion of one and gave it a try. On the bright side, I can now honestly say I have eaten jumping mullet gizzards and lived to tell the tale.

It may be that grilling is not the best technique for cooking fish offal, but the only ones who really enjoyed it was the dogs, both of whom are especially keen on salmon. Tim described it as a cross between sweet potato and liver. I found it grainy and flavorless. Graham, who refused to try it, said it looked like a couscous sausage, which is oddly accurate.

Not surprisingly, there are those who sing the praises of jumping mullet gizzards, which I've also seen labeled as roe. A posting on Walking Fish, our awesome community-supported fishery that provided said jumping mullet this week, shared this tip:

September 22, 2010 @ 6:43 pm
Hi All,
A few people said they’re going to try using the Jumping Mullet gizzards this week! If you’re one of them, but you’re are sure what to do with them, here’s a little info from Debbie’s aunt:
“I called my 85 year old Aunt (born and lived in Beaufort all her life!) and asked her advice. She said to split one side and clean out the ‘innards’, rinse and pat dry. Dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then deep fry. Now I am going to have to try to find her some as well. Got her thinking about how good they are!!” ~ Debbie
If you try them, let us know what you think!!
So here's what I think: Blech. Bring on the jumping mullet, a somewhat boney but deliciously tender catch, but feel free to save these nasty bits for those who truly appreciate them.