Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February CK Digest

Hello fellow cooks!

We had a great time on Thursday. I am so proud of how deliciously everything turned out and how well everyone worked together. We had a couple of twists to the usual recipes, in honor of a couple of my friends. Guest chef Teresa Huff led the recipe group in making a vegan version of the collard greens she grew up making and eating. And instead of braising chicken like we usually do, I switched it up and braised beef, because my friend Felix was at the CK for the first time ever, and it's his favorite.

We made Eggplant Coconut Curry, a progressive saute of delicious vegetables in oil and Madras curry powder, where we use the technique that a lot of the world uses: Saute aromatic vegetables (onions, garlic and celery) in oil and then add spices so that their flavor blooms, then add other vegetables so that the spices cook into each thing you add. I've seen this a lot in recipes for southeast Asian dishes, and it results in an incredibly rich flavor development there, too. Yay for delicious vegan dishes!

The Red Salad was another vegan dish, which combined the roasted (potatoes), with the sauteed (red cabbage & red chard), and the raw (red bell peppers) in a lemon juice & spice blend dressing. The spice blend we used was Melange Classique, a southern French blend that borders on the curry-like, but with the very French additions of thyme, rosemary and marjoram, as well as white pepper, cayenne pepper, clove, nutmeg and bay leaf. It's very, very pretty, and it makes salad taste pretty, too.

Teresa's Collard Greens omitted the usual pork influence per my request (we get a lot of vegetarians in community kitchens, which is a good thing!), but it was otherwise genuine southern cooking. You boil the greens in salted water, add sauteed onions and vinegar, boil for a good while and then strain out. The greens get rich and sweet, as well as tangy from the vinegar. I could eat them for every meal.

What can I say about Slow Beef? I used to make this as a sandwich when I worked at Seattle Coffeeworks (it's not there anymore, sorry). You always braise the cuts of meat that are made up of a lot of muscle groups. The same interconnecting tissues that bind the muscle groups together make the meat tough and inappropriate for the grill, but by using the braising method to gently cook the meat, those same tissues dissolve and melt into what makes braised meat to unctuous and tender. These cuts of meat are always the cheapest to buy.

Happy cooking! Please know that I am always available to talk about cooking with you.


"A cook is an instrument of nature."  -Eric Ripert

Eggplant Coconut Curry (V)

Cooking skills focus: Knife skills, roasting, sauteeing, balancing flavors

3 eggplants, striped (partially peeled) and cut into 1” slices
½ t salt

2 # Yukon gold potatoes, diced medium (1/2” on each side)
2 T cooking oil
1 T Madras curry powder (from World Spice Merchants)
Salt & pepper TT

3 C jasmine rice
Salted water for cooking

3 T cooking oil
2 yellow onions, diced
½ head celery, stalks peeled & sliced ½” thick
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thickly sliced
3 T Madras curry powder
Salt & pepper TT

1 bu lacinato kale, sliced ½” thick
1 ½ # English peas, shelled
1/4 C water
1 small can coconut milk

3 bell peppers, cut into bite-sized strips (julienne, then cut in half)

2 lemons, juiced
Salt & pepper TT (if needed)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Toss the eggplant slices with the salt in a large bowl. They will start to exude water. After 15 minutes, gently squeeze a little more water from them, then cut into bite-sized chunks (this removes some bitterness and lets them absorb other liquids like the curry sauce we’ll be making).
3. Toss the potatoes with the first 2 T cooking oil, 1 T curry powder, salt & pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside when done.
4. In the meantime, cook the rice: Rinse it, put it in a saucepan and cover it with water until the water comes up to the first knuckle of your finger when your fingertip is touching the level of the rice. Salt the water moderately, with about 1 ½ t salt. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes on low heat. (This is the way to cook nearly any kind of rice; see Ryan with any questions about the procedure.)
5. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the last 3 T cooking oil, then add the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic, celery, last 3 T curry powder, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
6. Add the eggplant, kale, peas, water and coconut milk to the sauté pan and cook for 7-8 minutes more. Then add the bell peppers, roasted potatoes, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve the curry over the rice.

Red Salad (V)

Cooking skills focus: Roasting, sautéing, balancing flavors

2 # Yukon gold potatoes, diced medium (1/2” on a side)
2 T cooking oil
Salt and pepper TT

2 T cooking oil
1 head red cabbage, cut in quarters, core removed and sliced thinly
1 bu red chard, stems removed and leaves cut bite-sized. Stems sliced ½” thick.
Salt & pepper TT

1 T cooking oil
1 red onion, julienned
½ head garlic, cloves peeled & sliced thinly
½ bu celery, stalks peeled & sliced ¼” thick

3 bell peppers, cut into bite-sized strips (julienne, then cut in half)
2 lemons, juiced
2 T Melange Classique spice blend (from World Spice Merchants)
½ bu parsley, minced
Salt & pepper TT

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Coat the potatoes in the first 2 T cooking oil and season with salt and pepper, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside in a large bowl when done.
3. Heat the large sauté pan over high heat, then add the next 2 T cooking oil. Add the red cabbage, chard stems and cook for 3-4 minutes, remove to the large bowl.
4. Heat the sauté pan over high heat again, then add the last 1 T cooking oil. Add the onion, garlic and celery and cook 3-4 minutes. Add to the large bowl.
5. Add the peppers, lemons, spice blend, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Slow Beef

Cooking skills focus: Braising, balancing flavors

2 T cooking oil
5 # boneless beef chuck, cut into approx. 1# chunks

7-8 dashes Tabasco sauce
½ bu parsley, minced
Salt and pepper TT

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add a few pieces of beef to the pan (don’t crowd it or it won’t brown, which is what you want here) and brown well. Set aside. Repeat until all the beef is well-browned, then remove to a deep braising pan. Cover the pan and braise for 3-3½ hours.
3. When the beef is falling apart from the braising process, cool it so it can be handled. Then, pull it apart and remove any large portions of fat, and put the meat in a large bowl. Season it with salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce, then add the parsley. Serve as a sandwich filling, a meat dish, an omelet filling, a salad topping, etc etc etc.

Teresa's Collard Greens (V)

Cooking skills focus: Sautéing, boiling, balancing flavors

Large pot with about 3 qts. water
2 T salt

3 bu collard greens, washed, the thickest part of the stems removed and the rest twisted apart into large pieces

1 ½ T cooking oil
1 large white onion, diced large (3/4” on a side)
½ t salt

1 ½ C distilled white vinegar

1 T salt

1. Start a large pot of water boiling over high heat and add the 2 T kosher salt.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, heat a sauté pan over high heat, then add the cooking oil. Add the onions, add the ½ t salt and sauté them until almost browned.
3. When the water gets to a rolling boil, reduce heat to a low boil and add the greens. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, then add the vinegar.
4. Continue to cook at a low boil uncovered until about half the water is gone. If you’re in a hurry, you can increase the temperature to a rolling boil, but the collards will turn out tougher.
5. When they are done, strain the collards and onions in a colander (preferably a comically large one), toss with the last 1 T salt and serve.