I’m doing some digital spring cleaning, going through a bunch of random old notes on my computer. And I came across part of a recipe for green chile stew that I made up to reflect what I was making. This was meant to emulate the green chile stew I had at the View Restaurant at the Monument Valley visitor center.
The thing is, I didn’t really write a full recipe, just a list of ingredients. I do that a lot, since usually they’re just to jog my memory later, and how to put the ingredients together is pretty obvious. Hopefully it’ll be obvious to you, too.
If I ever wrote down details, it would be things like “add enough cumin for it to taste good” or “cook it until it looks and smells right”. Do you cook the same way?
One nice thing about being out of work is I have lots more time to experiment in the kitchen. A few days ago I made “two-ingredient dough” for the first time. I made two batches, enough to make homemade bagels one day, with lots left over for another day. Today was that other day, and I decided to try some sort of somewhat low calorie dessert.
I’m doing WW right now, formerly called Weight Watchers, to lose some weight, and didn’t want a dessert that would blow my responsible eating out of the water for the day.
Going through a bunch of options in my mind, I decided to make a sort of pastry with a thick dark chocolate filling. I’m now calling it a chocolate pizza.
I rolled the dough out and then made a little lip around the edges, thinking that would help keep the chocolate topping contained (I was wrong, and it was irrelevant).
Then I beat an egg and brushed it on the dough to make it look nice and shiny. Then I put that in the oven at 425.
Meanwhile, for the topping, I put the following into my food processor and mixed it all into a wonderful paste the consistency of mousse, and the flavor of dark chocolate.
2 bananas, previously frozen, now thawed in the microwave
After a while (15+ minutes), the crust started to brown and I thought it looked like it was ready. Baking made the crust poof up, so the lip around the edges that I made turned out to be totally useless and lost.
Next, I chilled the crust in the freezer a few minutes to bring it down to room temperature, because my chief taste tester was in a hurry to get home so she could do her online Jazzercise class.
After the crust chilled enough, I spread the topping on, and then cut it into 8 pieces. They look something like this.
They were tastier even than I had hoped, and the dark chocolate topping is so rich! I did the math, and each serving is only 3 SmartPoints.
Today in Denver it snowed a few inches and the high temperature was 28. So it’s perfect weather for some hot beef stew. For the first time in my life, I made Bun Bo Hue (or at least my imitation). If you don’t know, it’s a Vietnamese dish from Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. (Note: I’m spelling this the Anglicized way, because for some reason my blog site converts some Vietnamese characters to question marks. Here’s how it’s really spelled, in Vietnamese.)
I don’t have much experience making Vietnamese food, and I couldn’t get many of the ingredients in time to make a more authentic version, but I had a secret weapon that made all the difference.
Here is the secret ingredient. At this summer’s Dragon Boat Festival there was a little stand selling Vietnamese spice pastes, and so I bought this one. Combining that with a beef roast, bone broth, beef bouillon, and sliced white onion in the Instant Pot under pressure for a couple hours did the trick.
For garnishes, I had lime slices, cilantro, sliced red bell pepper, sambal oelek, green onions, and snow peas. I couldn’t find any bean sprouts since most supermarkets do not carry them any more due to contamination problems (E. coli, I think), and I didn’t have time to go to the Asian supermarket. So I thought snow peas would be close enough – crunchy and green. It worked.
It tasted even better than it looked.
I would definitely buy the spice paste again, if I ever see it. They were test marketing it in the US to see if enough people would buy it to make it worthwhile to put into supermarkets. And I have no idea how that went. But I sure enjoyed it, and have a bunch of delicious leftovers.
Since this past spring, I’ve been working to arrange composting at my condominium complex. And this week it starts to pay off.
Denver Compost Collective is an organization that collects food waste from apartment dwellers and takes it to their large scale composting facility. Then they give the resulting “black gold” to a local urban farm/food charity. The city has been encouraging composting the past few years, but if you don’t have a big garden, it’s tough to do. So this group fills that gap.
Here is me with my new bucket. I’ll fill it up throughout the week with food scraps (no meat or dairy) and then put it in my building’s parking garage for DCC to pick up Monday morning. They weigh each bucket, dump it into a bigger container on their truck, rinse the bucket out, and put it back in the garage.
In other news, I voted today. The ballot and issues were so easy this time I decided to do it while enjoying some quasi-legal recreational drugs. It’s great to live in Denver.
When I have time, some weekends I make muffin tin omelets, also sometimes called no-crust quiche. It makes it easy for me to have a high protein, low carb breakfast throughout the week. In the past, I’ve used a fairly shallow muffin tin. But that makes muffin tin omelets that aren’t quite enough to satisfy me, while eating two of them is too much food for breakfast. So I decided I needed a larger size muffin tin. Last time I visited my parents, I learned Mom had a spare! So I took it home with me.
Like my old one, the new tin holds 6 muffins, but each one is much deeper. Today, I finally had time to make some muffin tin omelets again. If you’ve never made these, you should try it sometime. You can find a ton of recipes online, so I’m not going to give you all the details, but here is the general idea.
I usually grease the muffin tin with coconut oil, since I don’t ever have shortening (or lard). Supposedly it’s better for you than vegetable oil or butter.
Today, the things I put in were:
some leftover BBQ brisket, chopped
one red bell pepper, chopped and sauteed in the fat from the brisket
one roma tomato I got from the farmer’s market two weeks ago and realized I better use before it’s too late
cheddar/jack cheese blend
9 eggs – so each omelet is 1.5 eggs
some milk – don’t ask me how much, I don’t measure stuff, that’s not how I cook
salt, black pepper, umami pepper
What, you don’t know about umami pepper? I found this thing on a “if we can’t sell it, we’re just going to throw it out” rack at Safeway a couple years ago and it was the most wonderful discovery.
Then I baked it until it looked good to me. That turned out to be 30 minutes at 350 degrees. And here is the result:
They sure look good, but I already ate lunch, so I’ll save these for later.
I had a bit of trouble getting them out of the muffin tin, maybe I need to coat the pan with something greasier next time. Or cook them inside of muffin cups.
I decided to add a new category to my blog, and that is “Recipe”. So I went back and labeled all the recipes I’ve posted here over the past decades. That means I can now list them all in once place, right here:
Like a lot of people in Colorado, I like green chile. Denver is a 9 hour drive from Hatch, New Mexico, but we’re close enough to be in the orbit of Hatch chiles. So when I got an Instant Pot for Christmas, I decided to try to use it to make pork green chile.
The green chiles I got were a gift from a friend who bought a bushel and did all the prep work (thanks, KY!) so I just have a pile of quart-size Ziploc baggies of green chiles ready to use. This batch is a bit on the spicy side, I found, hotter than Anaheims. Maybe they’re Big Jims. I don’t honestly know.
My experience wasn’t perfect, and during the process, I realized a fundamental truth I’d never thought much about. Colorado-style green chile sauce that you’d use to put on a burrito or eggs is a lot spicier than Colorado-style green chile that you eat like soup with tortillas. My original goal was to make the former, but I ended up with the latter. Next time I’ll do it differently, I think. Here goes with the recipe.
2 to 3 pounds of pork shoulder, diced
1 quart bag of prepped green chiles
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp Mexican oregano (a totally different plant than European oregano)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground dried New Mexico chile
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 32 ounce (weight) chicken broth, plus 2 more cups of broth
2 cups of water
1 can of diced tomatoes
De-husk, wash, and cut up the tomatillos, garlic, and onion. Blend them together in a blender.
Dice the pork and dice the green chiles (separately).
Set the Instant Pot for Sauté, add 1 TB of oil, and brown the pork.
Add the blended stuff, the green chiles, the chicken broth, the tomatoes, and the spices. Seal the IP and set for pressure cook High for 75 minutes. Yes, 75 minutes. You want the pork to be so soft it melts in your mouth. When it’s done, let the steam do the “natural release” for another 30 minutes.
Switch the Instant Pot back to Sauté. Make a slurry of corn starch and water, and slowly add enough, stirring into the soup to thicken it up.
Once it seems thick enough, serve it up with warm flour tortillas.
You can also use this to smother burritos and eggs, but my taste buds say it’s not spicy enough for that.
This started as a recipe I found online and made for Thanksgiving sometime around 2000, and I’ve made it several times since then, slightly simplifying and improving it along the way. It’s fresh, vegan, gluten-free, and tasty. It requires no cooking, unlike Martha Stewart’s similar recipe.
Buy one 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries. Here’s the kind I’ve used most often:
Note that if you can’t find fresh cranberries, in a pinch you can make this using two small cans of whole berry cranberry sauce instead. Just dump the cranberries into a colander and rinse off all the gelatin and sauce and stuff, so you only have the berries left.
You just need one apple. It’s best to use a sweet variety, because the sweetness of the apple is going to help cut the tartness of the cranberries.
You need one medium size ginger root, as fresh as possible. It should be about the size of three of your fingers, like this:
Sugar and Water
Regular table sugar. You’ll only need a tablespoon or two, depending on your preference of how sweet you want the relish. The sweeter the apple, the less sugar you need. And some tap water.
First, rinse the cranberries and discard any bad ones.
Peel and rinse the ginger; if you don’t know the trick about how to peel ginger easily, watch this video. Cut the ginger up into one inch chunks.
Rinse, peel, and core the apple. Then cut it into one inch chunks.
Put the ginger, cranberries, apple, one tablespoon of sugar, and a half cup of water into your food processor. Pulse it all to chop everything up to the consistency of relish, because this is relish! If it’s not blending nicely, add a little more water. Be careful not to blend it too much or it will become more of a sauce than a relish.
Once it looks nice, taste it. If it’s too tart for your tastes, add a little more sugar and blend it all together very briefly. Then taste again, and add more sugar if needed. (If you screw up and add too much sugar by accident, add a tiny bit of lemon juice to bring it back to the tart side. Nobody will know.)
When it gets to be not too tart but not too sweet, you’re done. Pour it into a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or more (overnight is fine), for the flavors to blend together. Stir before serving.
If you have more than you need, spoon some of it into a plastic container to freeze. Freezing and thawing doesn’t really hurt the consistency, I know from experience.