Thursday, December 25, 2008

Recipe: Flo's Kickass Pulled Pork

Today's world food that you can prepare at home is a fusion of French, Portuguese and the American South. In the USA pulled pork comes in many different ways and with a wide assortment of condiments. None though, are quite so easy nor nearly as delicious as Flo's Kickass Pulled Pork!

This is a recipe from my friend Andy's parents (and my friends as well) Chuck and Flo. For some reason my British and Antipodean friends always chuckle when they first hear the names "Chuck and Flo" but that is their quirk not my own. I'm adding this recipe to Chop Onions, Boil Water for three reasons: For one, it's a really good, crowd pleasing and delicious dish. Secondly, it is a breeze to prepare and most importantly I wanted an opportunity to write about Chuck and Flo.

I usually call this recipe "Flo's Kickass Christmas Pulled Pork" not because they only serve it at Christmas, but rather because that is how I associate it. You see, Chuck and Flo, really like Christmas and by that, I mean to say that they really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really LOVE Christmas (that's 50 really's in case you didn't count). I remember the first time Andy mentioned (warned) me about how they decorated their home:

Andy: "I have to help my parents string Christmas lights on the house this weekend."

Henry: "Oh, they like to decorate the house?"

Andy: "Yeah, they go nuts."

Henry: "Yeah, I've seen houses like that."

Andy: "No, I don't think you have."

I shrugged his last comment off. Thinking he was just internalizing and dramatizing the weekend task at hand.

I couldn't have been more wrong, the first time I visited their home around Christmas it was apparent. I was at least a half mile away from the house when I saw it. A glowing aura in the shape of a half-dome in the distance. NO LIE! Before I ever saw a single light on the house I could see the atmosphere around the property all a glow! In fact, there is a famous image of the first millisecond of a thermonuclear explosion that shared shocking similarities to the gigawatt induced luminescence that lay before me in the clear frosty cold Rhode Island night. My heart began to race.

I turned the final corner before their house - and there it was. It was overwhelming. A holiday display of such excess and surplus that I heard myself gasp. Imagine 279.533 (repeating) normal festively lit homes all physically inhabiting the same space. That is how it all looks (ordered and well executed of course). Electric glowing, festive, sparkly, splendor! Unfortunately, space restraints forbid a full inventory here, but trust me, it is an awesome spectacle. Plus it gets grander every year. Because through their generosity and charisma Chuck and Flo manage to cajole, influence or woo willing accomplices to their Christmas madness. In fact in the year 2004 they got a group of these goons to build a special Christmas train so that Choo-Choo-Christmas-Chuck can pull guests around the the Christmas yard and past all the Christmas lighting exhibits set-up in the yard. Even strangers showed up for rides. Where do they get these willing accomplices and participants from?

They've said that 2008 was the last Christmas in which they would create their seasonal spectacle. Some folks believe them, I'm wondering...

Flo's Kickass Christmas Pulled Pork

Fresh (unsmoked) pork shoulder
1 TBS. Gravy Master
1 TBS. Kitchen Bouquet
1 TBS. Garlic powder
12 ozs. hot crushed pepper (this is the "wet" variety that comes in a jar)

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Coat the pork with the combination of Gravy Master and Kitchen Bouquet.

Sprinkle all over with garlic powder.

Cover the pork with hot crushed red pepper.

Cover the pan and place in the oven for about 6-8 hours. If it looks like it is cooking too fast turn the oven down a little.

During the last 1-2 hours of cooking, baste the pork frequently to mix the crushed red pepper with the rest of the juices.

Shred (at this point the pork will just freely fall off the bone) and serve with fresh rolls or roasted potatoes.

Accept oohs, aahs, mmmms, yums, and praise from your family and guests.

Recipe: Flo's Kickass Pulled Pork from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Websites We Love:

Recommending is easy because their tag line says it all: a "Complete Source of Authentic Thai Recipes, ingredients and cookware." Their not kidding either. They have an extensive selection of both fresh and prepared Thai ingredients as well as a large collection of Thai cookware and recipes. What really makes them stand out from similar online Thai grocers though is their recipe blog featuring many online videos.

A Thai food enthusiast is going to get lost in the many videos showing how to prepare recipes, other videos of street vendors doing their thing, and others depicting how ingredients are made and even some cultural offerings like a Thai wedding ceremony, etc. also limits their offerings to their e-mail list to real offers and news of new videos. You can join this list without the worry of being annoyed by your inbox being flooded with the nonsense we've come to expect from other online companies. Sign up without worry.

So let's look at the tally:

A.) An extensive selection of fresh and prepared Thai ingredients and authentic cookware.

B.) Lots of authentic recipes.

C.) Tons of interesting and educational online videos featuring Thai cooking and culture.

Yup! We love for good reasons! Check them out!

From Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recipe: Chicken Taghrib (Tashreeb, Tharid, Thareed)

Today's world cuisine that you can prepare at home comes at you straight out of Babylon and time. Taghrib is a dish that can be traced back thousands of years. It is a popular meal in the middle east and comes in a variety of styles and range of ingredients. Versions that feature lamb and goat are common and the dish can contain an array of vegetables, spice combinations and garnishes. I do know that the prophet Mohammed enjoyed it because he thought enough of it to mention it. Jesus of Nazareth probably ate it as well. This dish is coming deep out of history folks, a lot of noteworthy people have enjoyed it and I am bargaining you will as well!

This recipe is based on several Iraqi ones that I found in my research. From what I read, taghrib's "comfort food" status in Iraq kind of makes it the equivalent of the US' "American Chop Suey". A common dish across the USA, every American family has its own recipe. It is the same with the Iraqi's and taghrib. Given my choice, I'm going for the taghrib instead of the American chop suey. It is a rich, flavorful and delicious dish that people should hear more about. It's kind of like a curry, but not quite. I also like the way it is ladled over flat bread instead of rice. It's an interesting twist and certainly lends itself to some tasteful, hands-on dining!

You can use a variety of flat breads as the base for taghrib, but the thinner ones like markouk or lavash are similar to the breads the Iraqi's use. My choice for this dish is Lebanese markouk. Markouk is a new favorite bread of mine. Very thin, chewy, delicious and about the size of the largest of large pizzas you could find. It is the perfect compliment for this dish. No worries though, naan, roti or pita will suffice nicely.

Finally, I added a bit of rosewater to this dish because I noticed many spice combinations for taghrib called for crushed rose petals. There are no crushed rose petals in my home, there's plenty of rose water. It worked out fine.

If you like hearty stews with a middle eastern slant, give taghrib a try. You're going to really enjoy this dish!

Chicken Taghrib

2-1/2 lbs. skinless chicken (I use thighs)
1/3 to 1/2 cup of olive oil
3 onions (frenched)
6 cloves garlic (smashed)
4 medium red potatoes (peeled and cut into 1-1/2" cubes)
2 bay leaves
2 TBS curry powder (I use Ship Brand Masala Curry)
1 TBS turmeric
1/2-3/4 TBS sea salt
2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp rose water
16 ozs. chickpeas (cooked or canned)
Markouk flat bread (or other flatbread like naan, pita, etc.)
Lemon wedges
Dried sumac (to taste)

Season the chicken with some salt, set aside.

Set a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil heats up, brown the chicken 1-2 pieces at a time. Remove and set aside.

Add the onions, garlic, potatoes, bay leaves, curry powder, turmeric and sea salt and cook, stirring frequently. Be sure to coat all the ingredients in the spice mixture. If the mixture seems a little too dry, add a little more oil. It's normal for some of the spices to stick to the pan. Be sure not to burn it. Continue cooking until the onions and potatoes begin to turn translucent. About 8 to 12 minutes.

Add the browned chicken, chicken broth, water and rose water, stir well to incorporate. Everything should just be covered by the water. Add or subtract water as necessary. Bring to a boil then lower to a medium simmer and continue to simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked and tender and the potatoes are tender but not mushy (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Add the chickpeas and allow to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat.

Line the serving bowls with pieces of torn bread. Spoon the tashreeb into the bowls and sprinkle with sumac powder and a good twist of lemon juice.

Serve hot accompanied with a lemon wedge and extra sumac powder.

Recipe: Tashreeb Dijaaj from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Suppliers We Love:

I'm old enough to remember when the prospect of good home-prepared Mexican food was pretty dismal. Sure, if you lived in Southern California or the American Southwest you didn't have a problem. Not so in most other parts of the United States or Canada. The ingredients were scarce and homemade Mexican food was usually limited to ground beef taco "kits" and mediocre "chile con carne"! Those were the dark days of World Food at Home!

Thankfully, all that has changed. Today it is easy to prepare excellent Mexican food at home. Not only are there endless authentic resources to learn about preparing Mexican food, but our local markets are better supplied with key and specialty ingredients. When they're not, or if we are far from them, there are also great online suppliers like MexGrocer.

There are several reasons I like doing business with MexGrocer:

1.) They have everything I've ever needed but could not find in local markets. When I tried a new hot sauce in Mexico and could not find it in any local market or specialty shop, MexGrocer had it. It has been the same thing with other hard-to-find-products. I also frequently scan their online products just to get ideas for new ingredients and dishes to try.

2.) Their prices are good, and they frequently offer excellent discounts. It's also safe to sign up to their mailing list. You won't be inundated with weekly junk mail. Instead you'll get occasional e-mailings offering good discounts, useful information and great recipes.

3.) They are REAL people. They are not a "faceless corporate outfit" with an outsourced customer service department. I frequently get the impression that I am dealing with the owner or the owner's family when I contact them. I like that. I like that a lot.

4.) They offer more than just their products. I've gotten several good recipes from their site. Among them was a recent "Day of the Dead Bread" one that I made for my family (and they loved). I've also learned some great stuff from their various articles.

5.) They have supported Chop Onions, Boil Water in the past. Several years ago I mentioned that I would list them as a source for Mexican food products in my cookbook, they responded by offering my readers a 20% discount on purchases from

You can find some links of the MexGrocer products I use in the Chop Onions, Boil Water Kitchen Outlet. Of course I recommend that you purchase them there. I also recommend you visit their site if you're looking for other products to prepare Mexican food, or you're just looking to learn more about preparing it authentically in your home. MexGrocer is a Supplier We Love!

Suppliers We Love: from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Recipe: Roast Prime Rib of Beef

Today's world food that you can prepare at home is kind of ubiquitous. It really has no one place of origin. It is also quite possible the first cooked food: Roast Meat. Specifically: Roast Prime Rib of Beef.

Homemade prime rib is one of the special treats in my home. For one it's not the most economical cuts of beef you'll come across. Secondly, it's not one of the healthiest. It sure is good though! So this dish is reserved for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and the most important of all: days when it is on SALE!

It's preparation is not difficult, but the details vary and can be a little critical. Each cut of meat is different and each home oven is varies. Each precaution you execute in cooking your roast increases the quality of the final dish. For instance:

When purchasing your meat, talk to your butcher! Let them know your plans and the number of people you'll be serving. They're going to be a great help. Also, buy your meat several days in advance and let it sit in the bottom of your fridge (in its store packaging or a similar alternative). I believe this makes a difference in the flavor and tenderness. Some people are probably going to disagree, but I find it works for me. You'll want a good idea of how your oven performs as well. Does it hold an accurate temperature? Are there hotspots that will necessitate turning the roasting pan while cooking? Most people who cook a lot know their ovens well. If you don't, all this can be sorted out with an oven thermometer.

Finally, and most importantly, I highly recommend using a good remote electronic meat thermometer. NOTHING takes the work out of roasting beef, pork, turkey, venison, etc. than a remote electronic meat thermometer. It also cuts down on opening the oven and losing valuable heat and potentially burning yourself (yes, I've done this too many times).

What I write three times is my best cooking advice:

Get yourself a remote electronic meat thermometer.
Get yourself a remote electronic meat thermometer.
Get yourself a remote electronic meat thermometer.

Now, let's get to roasting some prime rib!

Roast Prime Rib of Beef

Prime Rib Roast (you choose the size, but at least a two rib roast)
1-4 cups kosher, rock or coarse sea salt (dependent upon the size of the roast)
1 cup white wine
1 can beef broth

Remove the roast from the fridge an hour or two before cooking.

Preheat your oven to 450°F

Mist down the roast with balsamic vinegar or water.

Pack the exposed meat areas (not the bone or fat areas) of the roast with the salt. You want it to stick to the roast as well as possible so apply some light pressure. Some will fall off. That's okay. It is better if it falls off while packing it rather than while roasting it.

Gently place the roast bone side down in an appropriately deep sided roasting pan (1"-2").

Place the roast in the oven and roast for 15 minutes at 450°F, after that,lower the oven temperature to 350°F until the meats cook to your desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to judge doneness:

105°F For an ultra-rare piece of meat.
110°F For a red and rare piece of meat.
115°F For a medium-rare piece of meat.
120°F For a piece of meat that is "done".

This is prime rib and anything above 120°F at this point is going to end up tough and dry.

When the roast reaches your desired doneness temperature remove it from the oven.

Carefully, lift the roast from the pan trying not to dislodge any of the salt. Place the meat on a tray or plate and using a pastry brush remove and discard all the salt from the roast.

Move the roast onto a sheet of aluminum foil and cover with another piece of aluminum foil. Seal the entire roast in the aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Keep the thermometer in it as the temperature will continue to increase. I find 10 degrees to be ideal. If it climbs faster or too high, unwrap it from the foil.

While the roast is resting:

Remove and discard any visible salt from the drippings in the roasting pan.

Place the roasting pan over a burner set on high. When pan and juices are hot, add the white wine to the pan and deglaze. Be sure to scrape up any bits of meat or crust stuck to the bottom of the pan.

When the wine evaporates, add the beef broth bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and continue simmering until the mixture is reduced by half. Remove the pan from heat. Reserve the juice in a bowl or gravy boat.

After the roast has rested 15 minutes, unwrap from the foil. Add any juices in the foil to the beef broth mixture.

Remove the chine bones in one slice by cutting just behind them. (These are the small, diagonally positioned bones on the wide end of the roast. Save these for picking at later as the meat surrounding them is tender and delicious!)

Slice the roast into desired serving sizes, plate and drizzle with juices.

Recipe: Roast Prime Rib of Beef from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Recipe: Nokake (Native American Blue Corn Cakes)

I love nokake (no-kah-kay). Perhaps it is because they are so base, simple and sustaining. It could be that they kind of remind me of the elven bread called "lembas" that sustained Frodo and Sam on their way to Mordor in The Lord of the Rings, (Geek check!). I do know that they are delicious.

The recipes for corn cakes predate the arrival of the Europeans on the American continent. There are many different recipes that include all manner of ingredients including dill, bacon bits, bear grease and even wood ashes (for real good chemical and nutritional reasons). They were an important food stuff for the Native Americans and influenced the cooking of the colonists and American food today. Cornbread, corn pone, corn sticks, hoe cakes, johnny cakes and a host of other corn meal breads find their origin in nokake.

This recipe is based on one published by Wampanoag Indian chef Sherry Pocknett. Sherry runs a catering business and also operates a the "Sly Fox's Den", a Native American foods concession stand she operates at many pow wows including the Pequot Nation's annual "Schemitzun". I've made some changes to her recipe to suit my personal taste, but the heart of it is hers.

I use nokake as a platform for several "stack" types of recipes. One consists of the nokake, topped with roasted acorn squash and then a layer of smoked pork tenderloin. The resulting dish is DELICIOUS and one of my favorites. It, and others like it will find their way here as photo opportunities present themselves.

Nokake are versatile, you can alter their preparation between sweet or savory depending on your needs. This recipe leans towards savory.

Nokake (Corn cakes)

2 cups blue cornmeal (I prefer blue, you can use white or yellow)
1/2 cup flour
2 TBS honey
1 heaping TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups water
1 bunch scallions/green onions (green part only), chopped
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
Pepper, to taste
3 TBS peanut oil

In a large bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, honey, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly add the water until the resulting mixture is the consistency of hot oatmeal.

Stir in the scallions, sweet corn, and pepper.

On a large griddle or skillet, heat some of the oil on medium-high heat. Ladle enough batter into the skillet to make a 5-inch cake.

Cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Brush the surface with butter.

Continue making corn cakes, adding more oil as needed.

Recipe: Nokake (Native American Corn Cakes) from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recipe: Three-Cheese Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

Today's world food you can prepare at home is a familiar one to many people. Baked Ziti comes in a myriad of styles and interpretations. That's because it's good and everyone takes their own angle at it. For many of my Italian friends it is one of their favorite comfort foods.

I'm not going to stretch the truth here, the recipe below is a little involved, but not really complicated, nor does it demand any special talents or tools. It's a large recipe that is suitable for a family dinner or even a party. Generally, this dish will get my family through three days worth of dinners. Correction: three days worth of welcome dinners!

Leftovers can make some folks groan, but there's a way around that kind of resistance. One restaurant trick I suggest using with this dish or similar ones like lasagna or chicken or eggplant parmesan is having a quantity of hot marinara sauce reserved for dressing the dish while placing it on individual serving plates. Sure, this may be common sense for a lot of home cooks, but I cannot count how many times I've been served similar dishes without the benefit of some fresh sauce! That's the reason I suggest the extra marinara first in the ingredients below.

Three-Cheese Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

1 quantity of Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara Sauce
2 1 lb. boxes of ziti
3 TBS olive oil
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 lb. Italian sausage (skin peeled off)
1 lb. ground beef
1 28 oz. can roasted tomatoes (I use Muir Glenn Fire Roasted, see link at top of page.)
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 TBS sweet butter
1 lb. ricotta cheese
3/4 lb. mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1/3 cup parmesan-reggiano cheese (grated)
1 large tomato (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Make the Sun Dried Marinara Sauce and keep it on a low simmer on your stove while you prepare the other ingredients.

Place a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and when it begins to shimmer add the crushed garlic and cook it until it browns and softens. Remove the garlic and allow it to cool, then mash it into a paste and set aside.

Add the Italian sausage and ground beef to the oil and cook until crumbly and well browned.

Add the roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, fennel, bay leaf, mashed garlic, salt and pepper to the sausage and ground beef mixture. Mix well, raise to a boil, lower to a healthy simmer and continue cooking for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. You want it to reduce and thicken.

While the sauce simmers cook the ziti in the normal way being sure to keep it al dente. When the pasta finishes cooking, drain it and pour it into a large bowl. Gently mix in the butter to coat the ziti.

When the sauce is done, check for seasoning and adjust, remove it from the heat. Add the finished sauce to the ziti and blend it well.

Take a 10 x 14 baking dish and spread the ziti and sauce mixture evenly within the pan. Take spoonfuls of the ricotta and slip the ricotta under the ziti at regular intervals throughout the ziti. Now firmly level and press the ziti into the pan. You are looking to get it to pack a little so it will hold it's shape like lasagna after baking and cooling.

Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top of the ziti, followed by the parmesan-reggiano. Then take the tomato slices and lay them out over the top of the mixture. Finally, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the mix and pop the pan into the oven for 35 to 45 minutes. You're looking for the top to get golden and bubbly here.

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool and set for at least 20 minutes.

Take your serving plates and spoon a generous portion of the marinara onto it. Carefully cut and remove a block of baked ziti and place it on the plate. Then add more marinara to the top. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and perhaps some basil.

Red wine, crusty bread - HEAVEN!

Recipe: Three-Cheese Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recipe: Sadie's Crab Rangoon (Cheesy Triangles)

Today's world food that you can prepare at home comes from China by way of North America and includes cream cheese! Crab Rangoon is a popular Chinese-American dish found throughout North America. Like General Tso's Chicken its origin is sketchy and disputed. That of course doesn't affect its popularity at all. As I've written before and will no doubt write again: A food's origins can be sketchy or lost with time, it doesn't matter because the truth is in the taste.

Generally, the crab rangoon you'll find in most Chinese restaurants are simple and good, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. If you're going to go through the effort of preparing something at home, you might as well make it as best you can. I think you'll find the recipe below offers a little more depth and complexity compared to the average takeout crab rangoon. That's a good thing and takes almost no extra work on your part.

You may also be surprised to see that I recommend using real OR imitation crab meat. It's all about week to week economics for me. When crab meat is on sale I'll use it, when it isn't, I'm not too proud to use the imitation stuff. Neither are most Chinese restaurants, more often than not they're using the imitation stuff exclusively.

You'll see I call for the addition of some MSG. Use it if you like, avoid it you're sensitive to it. I find that it does make a difference in this dish's authentic taste.

Finally, I dedicate this dish to my 4-year-old daughter Sadie. She has always loved crab rangoon but calls them "Cheesy Triangles". One day her mom took note and asked me to begin making them at home for my daughters. That worked out great because I love them as well!

Sadie's Crab Rangoon

1 to 1-1/2 cups (packed) crab meat/immitation crab meat (shredded)
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (I use Philadelphia brand)
1/4 cup sour cream
3 green onions (white and very pale green parts only, sliced thin. Use the green parts to garnish)
1 clove garlic (minced fine)
1 tsp ginger (minced fine)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp MSG (Ac'cent)
Package of wonton wrappers (enough for 50 to 60 crab rangoon)
Small bowl of cool water
Peanut oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar and MSG until smooth and well-combined.

Thoroughly fold in the crab meat and green onions to the cheese mix.

To form the crab rangoon:

Place the small bowl of water on your work surface.

Place a wonton wrapper on your work surface. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of the cheese and crab mix in the center of the wonton wrapper (the proper amount depends on the size you bought).

Take your finger and dip it in to the water. Run your finger on the outside edge of the wonton square. Then gently fold it over to form a triangle shape. Seal the edges firmly so they don't open during frying. You will find that as you seal one edge, the other may raise a bit, that's okay, go with this, it makes the process quicker and easier. Once you get the hang of it you'll be moving right along. Grab another person to help and you'll be flying!

Place each finished crab rangoon on a large sheet of wax or parchment paper. Cover with a kitchen towel to keep moist while you make the others.

When finished forming the crab rangoon:

Place a pan suitable for deep frying over medium-high heat. Immediately pour the peanut oil to a depth of about 2". Heat to 350°F.

Cook the crab rangoon in the hot oil (turning once) in small batches. They cook quickly. When finished frying, remove them with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on a rack or paper towels.

NOTE: I find that I should cook them just a shade or two lighter than the "golden brown" I'm looking for. They seem to darken more a few moments after you remove them from the oil. You'll know if you fry them too long because the the cheese and crab mixture will start to seep out from the seams.
Recipe: Crab Rangoon from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recipe: Chickpeas and Chorizo

Today, our world food that you can cook at home comes from the Iberian Peninsula. Chickpeas and Chorizo, (or Garbanzos y Chorizo as it is known in Spain) is a very popular tapas dish. It is one of those humble but fortifying dishes that the Spaniards and Portuguese are masters at creating. Trust me, I'm a fan of such foods and you are going to see many of them here.

Don't be discouraged if you can't find chorizo at your local market. You can find it online or you can substitute your favorite spicy sausage. That's what is great about simple dishes, they usually allow you forgiving avenues of exploration.

I have seen a great deal of variation in this dish. It can run the range from a simple preparation of little more than chorizo, chickpeas, onion, salt and pepper, to something a little more seasoned like the recipe below.
Chickpeas and Chorizo (Garbanzos y Chorizo)

20 ozs. chickpeas (cooked fresh or canned)
1 bay leaf
2-3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 quart chicken stock
2 TBS olive oil (I use Portuguese)
1 large onion (chopped)
2-3 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1 lb. chorizo links
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Place a large sauce pan over high heat, add the chickpeas, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the 2 TBS of olive oil, when it begins to shimmer add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Stir frequently, do not burn the garlic!

Add the chorizo to the onion, garlic and thyme mixture and cook. Flip the sausage frequently and stir the onions around so they don't burn (it's okay if they caramelize a bit).

When the skins of the chorizos darken and caramelize, remove them from the pan. Slice the links in 1" pieces and then reintroduce to the fry pan.

Remove the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon stick from the simmering chickpeas. Add the chickpeas and broth to the chorizo and onions in the frying pan. Raise heat to high and simmer, stirring frequently.

Using a potato masher, mash some of the chickpea mixture in the frying pan. This thickens it up nicely. Test for seasoning and adjust to preference.

When most of the liquid has been reduced, remove from heat. Toss in the chopped parsley and fold throughout.

Serve hot in bowls. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and serve with a hearty wine and crusty bread.

Recipe: Chickpeas and Chorizo (Garbanzos y Chorizo) from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recipe: General Tso's Chicken

Today's world food that you can prepare in your home kitchen is one of the most popular Chinese dishes in North America. It's origin is disputed and it may not even be a Chinese dish at all, but rather a Chinese-American dish that was a fusion of both Hunan and Szechuan styles that better appealed to North American palates.

In fact the dish itself is known by a dizzying array of names that include: General Tso's, General Tao's, General George's, General Tsao's, General Zhou's, General Mac's, General Gao's, General Gau's, Chou's, General Tzo's, General To's, General So's, General Joe's, Jordan Chicken, General Toso's, General Chow's, General Chicken, Admiral Tso's, Pei Wei Spicy and General Chu's. You say poe-tay-toe, I say pah-tah-toe, who cares! As I say: the truth is in the taste.

Depending on what you read or who you listen to, this dish may have first been prepared by any number of people. A sampling of popular origin stories would include:

A.) Either General Zuo Zongtang (the dishes namesake regardless of personal participation), his wife or chef during the 1800's of the Qing Dynasty.

B.) The chef of popular Chinese politician Tan Yankai who used the hero's name on the dish to honor him around 1900.

C.) A Taiwanese chef by the name of Peng Chang-kuei may have first prepared the dish in New York in the early 1970's.

D.) Another Chinese chef named T.T. Wang may have first prepared the dish also in New York, also in the early 1970's.

In my extensive (well, not really extensive) research, I have even found a similar, more savory Australian variant of the dish also called "General Tso's Chicken". See, a wonderful, engaging, mystery with some controversy, a perfect element to immortalize this dish!

In any event, this is an extremely popular dish in North American Chinese restaurants and buffets. It is sweet and spicy goodness and not all that difficult to prepare in your home kitchen. There are no exotic ingredients and it can be replicated in even the most humble of home kitchens. Try it, you'll like it.

The recipe below is a good representation of the dish as I have had it in a number of Chinese restaurants on the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada. Personally, I'm still tweaking it so that it tastes just like it does at my favorite local Chinese restaurant. I'll change it here when I do.

General Tso's Chicken

For the sauce:

2/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 TBS garlic (minced)
1 TBS ginger (minced)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sherry or white wine
3 cups chicken broth

For the chicken and broccoli:

3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs cut into 1" square pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 egg
1 cup cornstarch
4 cups of broccoli florets
2 tsp ginger (minced)
2 tsp garlic (minced)
3/4 cup peanut oil (plus more oil for deep-frying)
2 cups green onions (thinly sliced, reserve a little for a garnish)
16 small dried hot peppers or 2 tsp red pepper flakes

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the water. Add the garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sherry/wine and chicken broth. Stir until sugar dissolves completely. Move to the refrigerator until needed.

In separate bowl, beat the egg, soy sauce and white pepper together. Add the chicken and coat it well. Add cornstarch to a smaller bowl and thoroughly coat each piece of chicken. When finished return the chicken to the bowl. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil to help stop the chicken pieces from sticking together.

Heat a wok over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of the peanut oil to the wok. Immediately, add the ginger and garlic and swirl once. Add the broccoli and stir fry for a few minutes. Add a little water if necessary. You want the crunch to remain in the broccoli, DO NOT OVERCOOK OR BURN. When done, remove the broccoli from the wok and set aside.

Replace the wok over the heat. Add enough of the frying oil to fry the chicken in small batches. Fry the chicken until golden brown, remove and set aside to drain. Continue until all the chicken is cooked.

Remove all but 1-2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok. Replace the wok over the heat. Add the green onions and hot peppers and stir fry for a few moments (don't burn!). Then add all the sauce and stir while cooking over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken (this can happen quickly so be prepared). As soon as the sauce starts to thicken, add the chicken and broccoli and stir to coat well. Cook until everything is warmed through.

Remove from heat. Serve over rice garnished with green onions or a light sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Recipe: General Tso's Chicken from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recipe: Three Sisters Red Curry

Today, my world food at home recipe is a bit of fusion. A melding of Native American and Thai food. It's not as strange as it may sound, in fact given all the ingredients, anyone familiar with both cuisines can see the common sense in it.

The "three sisters" refers to the staples of the tribes of the East Coast of central North America. They are squash, beans and corn. The cultural and mythological references to their origin are many, but the one I like most speaks of an otherworldly maiden seen walking on a moonlit night, in each footprint that she left grew squash, corn or beans. That's some beautiful imagery, no?

In practical terms, the farming of the three sisters was nothing short of genius. On a mound of dirt, corn would be planted, then beans around the corn. This way the beans could grow up the corn and thus produce more fruit, while the corn benefitted from the support of the bean's vines in heavy wind. Around the base of the mound was planted squash. It's broad leaves would shade the ground and keep it from drying out. It's prickly stems would discourage pests and varmints from compromising the crop. Yes, genius.

Earlier this week I was considering making dinner with the food I had on hand. I was thinking of doing some Native American dish, but my wife asked for a Thai curry with some sticky rice. 2 + 2 =4, and Three Sisters Red Curry was born. It is a delicious, spicy and rich red curry that benefits from the contrasting sweetness of the squash (I used sugar pumpkin) and sweet corn. The beans of course make it satisfying and filling. I chose pork for the protein, but chicken or beef would work just as well.

You can get a little creative with the other ingredients as well. Acorn or butternut squash could be substituted for the pumpkin and pintos or some other beans can work where I chose Anasazi beans. It's all good.

Three Sisters Red Curry

1-1/2 cups of coconut milk
2 TBS red curry paste
3/4 lb. of pork loin (trimmed of fat and cubed in bite-sized pieces)
1-1/2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of sugar pumpkin (cut in 1" cubes)
1 cup cooked beans (I use Anasazi, pintos will work fine)
1 cup of fresh or frozen sweet corn
2 TBS fish sauce
1 TBS palm sugar (brown or turbinado work fine)
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno (thinly sliced into rings and de-seeded as a garnish)

Place a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the coconut milk and heat for a few minutes until it begins to thicken and simmer. Add the curry paste and stir until it is dissolved.

Add the pork cubes and cook for a few minutes stirring frequently. Be sure the meat gets coated well.

Add the chicken broth, pumpkin, fish sauce and palm sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook stirring occasionally until the pumpkin is tender but still firm, (about 7 to 12 minutes).

Add the beans and the sweet corn and continue simmering for a few more minutes.

Plate in shallow bowls, sprinkle generously with cilantro and garnish with jalapeno pepper rings. Serve with sticky or jasmine rice.

Recipe: Three Sisters Red Curry from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Products I love: Cast Iron

Hands down, dollar for dollar there is no better deal for cookware than cast iron. People can say what they want about any other cookware and short of some specialties like a carbon steel wok, some bakeware or the odd stainless saucepan I'm going for cast iron. Aluminum? No way, I'm not touching it, I've heard all I want to about aluminum. Teflon impregnated pans? Sorry, a long time ago I worked with Teflon and the warnings on the barrels were enough to never permit me to let food touch it. Fancy copper-clad stuff? Right, for the cost of one saucepan I could outfit an entire kitchen in cast iron and never miss the copper.

I'm opinionated when it comes to cast iron. I'm religious when it comes to cast iron. I come from a long line of down-home, swamp-yankee, cast-iron-cooking-and-loving people. Chances are if I'm cooking in it tonight, it is cast iron.

Cast iron, like wood, cotton and leather has stood the test of time. There's a weird purity and soul in that stuff you know? Cast iron is still out there and available. There's a reason for that. It is because it is SIMPLE and it WORKS. In fact it works well.

As I sit here typing this entry I am surrounded by my cast iron cookware. It inhabits every burner on my stove and there are seven pieces hanging on one wall alone! All manner of frying pans, friers, cauldrons, dutch ovens, griddles, comals and combos.

I love cast iron!

I LOVE cast iron!


There's no excuse not to use it. It holds heat, it's non-stick, it's inexpensive, and now it come pre-seasoned. Plus it's nearly indestructible! Sure, restaurants need stainless and aluminum because they need heat fast and they need it to cool fast. However, in your home kitchen, where food better than ANY restaurant can be cooked at your will, you want cast iron.

Hey single guys, do you want to buy one pan that you can cook everything in? Then grab a decent-sized cast iron dutch oven guys. You can fry, braise, boil, roast, stew, soup, sauce, sauté and almost every-other-dang-cooking-thing in it. Plus, you'll still be cooking in it when you're a grandfather!

In the old days like the 1980's you had a choice between a few well-known manufacturers. There was Wagner and Lodge. Today, in my opinion there is one choice: Lodge. Sure there's the fancy French stuff and one pan can set you back a couple of hundred dollars, but that same pan produced by Lodge can be had for about fifty bucks at your local Hellmart or other outlet.

Sincerely and honest-to-God, I only recommend what I believe in on this blog and I'm giving you my number one, hands down, first choice for a product I love. Buy cast iron folks! Buy it new, by it antique or ask your old aunts and grandmothers for the stuff they don't use. You will not be disappointed.

Oh, and if its rusted? If it looks funky? It can be refreshed, do not throw it away! Scrub it, sandblast it, do anything but throw it away! The stuff has soul people, It absorbs those who use it into it. It becomes part of your family. It deserves to.
Products I love: Cast Iron

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Recipe: Easy Beef Wellington

Today's world food comes from the British Isles under mysterious pretenses and its origins may lay upon the more cuisine-serious shores of the European continent.

There seems to be a great deal of mystery surrounding the origin of Beef Wellington and that mystery begins with its name. There are several stories and no real certainties as to why it is called "Beef Wellington". I can offer that it seems to be the English incarnation of a popular French dish called "filet de boeuf en croûte". Perhaps, as I've read, the anglicized version was named after a British hero during times when English and French relations were much more strained than they are now.

In the end, it doesn't matter what you call it, because "a rose by any other name..." blah, blah, blah. You can call it "tenderloin pot pie" or a "cow in a blanket" and I'm still going to want seconds. The telling is in the taste and not the name, ("spotted dick" fans are nodding while they read this).

Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that for a small amount of effort, you can have something really impressive looking and delicious to serve your friends or family during the holidays and other special occasions. It's hard not to get a reaction from your guests when that golden pastry-clad, juicy tenderloin takes center stage on your dinner table. Sliced good and thick and dressed with just a little bit of au jus and paired with some good roast potatoes, this stuff is going to have a lot of fans.

Other recipes suggest an au jus using Madeira as an ingredient. I suppose that is more accurate than my simple au jus, but I just don't keep Madeira around and my version doesn't seem to suffer from the lack of it. If you're a stickler, I'm sure there are many Wellington sauce recipes online. The internet is a wonderful thing!

My last suggestion for this recipe is that you use a good electronic meat thermometer with a remote read out. This allows you to constantly monitor the cooking temperature and lets you time everything perfectly. I know, my roast beef, chickens, pork loins and turkeys have greatly improved since I picked up one of these inexpensive technical doodads..

Easy Beef Wellington

2-3 lb. beef filet (trimmed of fat and silver skin)
2 TBS peanut oil
1 2.75 oz. can of goose liver paté
8 ozs. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms (chopped)
1 TBS butter
2 sheets of pastry dough (homemade or frozen)
1 egg white (beaten together with 1 TBS water)
1 cup white wine
1 14.5 oz. can beef broth
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Put a small fry pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the chopped mushroom and sauté until the mushrooms give up their liquid and cook down. Remove the mushrooms from any remaining liquid and allow to cool. Reserve the mushroom liquid along with 1 TBS of mushrooms separately.

Set a large heavy fry pan or dutch oven on medium high heat, add peanut oil and when it begins to shimmer carefully brown the beef filet on all sides and both ends. Good browning is key, so increase the heat if necessary. When finished with browning, remove the filet to a plate to cool.

While the filet cool, you can make the au jus.

Set the pan you used to brown the meat over high heat. When it is very hot, add the white wine and deglaze the pan being certain to scrape up any bits from the pan bottom. When the liquid begins to thicken, add the beef broth and reserved mushrooms and mushroom sauce and continue at a high simmer (lower heat if necessary) and reduce to about half. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Preheat your oven to 450°F

Lay out one sheet of the pastry dough (if using frozen, be sure to thaw first) on a lightly oiled baking tray (not a baking sheet). In the middle of the sheet where the filet will sit, spread a thin layer of the paté. Sprinkle some of the cooked mushrooms onto the paté. Place the filet gently on the paté and mushrooms.

Spread the rest of the paté evenly over the rest of the filet. Then gently press the rest of the mushrooms evenly into the paté on the filet. Then trim the pastry crust to a 1" border around the filet. Then using a pastry brush moisten the this border with some of the egg wash mixture.

Place the second pastry crust gently over the filet. Be sure you fit it firmly buy gently over the filet. Trim the top pastry dough to match the bottom pastry dough then be sure to seal the two pieces of pastry dough together using the tines of a form or a pie wheel.

Now here you can get creative. Using the surplus pastry dough, cut shapes or ribbons from it and decorate the covered filet by attaching the pieces of decorative dough to it using some egg wash mixture. In the photo you'll see I did ribbons and a bow. When finished paint the entire wrapped roast with the rest of the egg wash.

Place the roast in the middle of the 400°F oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°, and bake the roast for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the meat thermometer registers 130°F. for medium-rare meat and the pastry is cooked through. Let the fillet stand for 15 minutes then remove it using two spatulas to a cutting board, slice and serve with the warmed au jus.

Recipe: Easy Beef Wellington from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recipe: Great Bake-At-Home Baguettes

Good bread defies description. There's also something about tearing bread that has always felt honest and base to me. I guess bread is a food that makes me wax romantic.

Today, the world gives us a bread recipe that found its origins in the kitchens of Polish bakers working in Vienna. Sure, it is most identified with France, but much of the great bread of France can be traced back to Vienna. So, from Vienna to your kitchen.

Though this isn't a "sourdough" bread, I do use a sourdough kicker in the beginning, but it's just to add some oomph and character and well, I kind of had to improvise because of an oversight. More of that in a bit. That's what sets this recipe apart from the original I used. The original required making a conventional starter using some regular bakers yeast, a little flour, some water and about 20 hours resting time.

Well, the night before I originally made this bread I kind of had a little too much red wine and forgot to do the conventional starter. As I needed some fresh bread for dinner and I always have a sourdough starter going in the fridge, I decided I'd try that instead of the conventional starter and see what happened. Well, it was really good. It was good for dinner, good for sandwiches, good for freezing, GOOD! So I guess that overindulgence was a divine intervention, or at least that's what I'll tell myself when I forget things because of too much red wine.

I also made a few adjustment to the "punch down" process during the dough rise that seemed to help me get the kind of stick bread I was looking for.

Also, baking really is a pretty simple and easy process. It's not hard and when you tally up the actual active time the bread making requires it comes out to about 25 minutes. This recipe and my other bread recipes may seem really long and involved. That is only because I am trying to be a descriptive as possible if the processes and tricks involved. Don't be intimidated. Read the directions through a few times. Do a little research online of the techniques and you'll see that baking bread, no, baking GREAT BREAD in your home is EASY!

Great Bake-At-Home Baguettes

1 cup sourdough starter
1 tsp instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 cup of warm water

In a large bowl or your mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the sourdough starter, yeast, water, flour, and salt, and mix and knead them together until they become a solid cohesive mass. Then if you like you can use the bread hook on your mixer and knead it an additional 10-12 minutes. Or, you can do what I prefer to do and knead it by hand. Kneading bread by hand is more fun than it would seem and it really give you a great feeling for the dough. It'll teach you how to make better bread a lot faster than the machine. It's you choice.

How to knead by hand:

Turn the dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface and knead. (I've found the best way to knead dough is to push down and forward into the dough mass. Pick it up, return it to its original position and then repeat the entire action three times. Then turn the dough ball 1/4 of a turn and repeat the entire procedure. Continue doing this for 10 to 12 minutes. You're looking for a dough that is soft and pliable and tacky but NOT sticky. If you're not familiar with working with dough, be patient. Dough responds slowly to changes in moisture. Make small adjustments and give it time. If the dough seems a little dry, moisten your hand with a little water or milk and continue working it. If it seems wet and is sticking to the kneading surface, dust the surface and dough with a little flour and continue kneading. Again, the resulting dough after kneading should be smooth, pliable and tacky but not sticky. With this particular dough a little roughness on its surface is desirable.

After kneading, form the dough into a rough ball and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to relax for 10 minutes.

While the dough relaxes find a suitable bowl or container that is large enough for the dough to easily double in size. Coat that container with a thin layer of oil. (I find a plastic food container of about 5 to 6 quart capacity with a cover is ideal).

Allow the dough to rise for one hour. Then take the dough out and GENTLY knead it down with your knuckles (don't push forward, just gently downward). Take one end of the dough and fold it midway over itself. Take the other end and fold it over that. Knead GENTLY down again. The dough should still be soft and spongey, it should form a rough rectangle. Repeat the folding and then knead gently one more time.

Place it back in the oiled container and allow it to rise again for one hour. Then again, take the dough out and repeat the gentle kneading process again.

Return the dough to the container and allow it to rise for one more hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully divide the dough into three pieces. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel or edge of your hand. Don't flatten all the dough, just the outermost edge being sure to get a tight seal.

Then flatten it slightly again, and fold and seal again.

Then With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and GENTLY begin roll the dough out into a log shape. Remember when you were a kid and you would roll Play-Doh into a snake on the table. Well, just like that only VERY GENTLY and without flattening your log or making it dense. GENTLY!

You want them to get to about 15". I have found it is best to do this in 2 to 3 steps. Roll it out a little. Cover it and let it rest while you start another. Then come back and roll it some more.

When finished, place the logs onto a waiting baking tray that has been lined with parchment and then sprinkled with some cornmeal or semolina. Cover them again with some lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise until they have become quite puffy (about 60 to 90 minutes depending upon room temperature).

Preheat your oven to 475°F; if you're using a baking stone, place it on the second or third lowest shelf. On the lowest shelf, place an oven-proof NON-GLASS pan (A small cast iron fry pan is ideal,) on the bottom shelf.

When the baguettes have risen, brush them with an egg white mixture (1 egg white, one tablespoon of cool water).

Then using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8” vertical slashes about 1/4" deep in each baguette.

Spritz them heavily with warm water, as this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.

Place the baguettes in the oven. Add the warm water to the heated pan on the bottom shelf. Spritz the sides of the oven with about 6-10 shots of water and close the oven door.

In two minutes, open the oven again and spritz the loaves and the sides of the oven again.

In two minutes repeat that same procedure. Then lower the oven to 450°F

Bake the baguettes for about 10 minutes, then take out them out and rotate them 180° and place them back in the oven for 15 minutes.

Bake them until they're a deep, golden brown.

Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the a very crispy crust, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2 inches, and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.

Let them cool for about 30 minutes before eating.

Recipe: Great Bake-At-Home Baguettes from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Monday, November 10, 2008

Recipe: Portuguese Roasted Chourico and Potatoes

Today my world food for the home kitchen comes from the island of Saint Michael in the Azores by way of the large Portuguese communities of Southern New England.

This is an adaptation of a recipe that has become quite famous amongst my group of friends. Each year on the hottest day of the year (don't ask me how they continually accomplish this, but they do), the good folks of Saint Michael's parish on the North side of Fall River, Massachusetts throw their annual Portuguese feast or "fashtah" as we like to call it. This feast celebrates the Archangel Michael, the soldier angel that cast Satan into the fiery pit of hell. He's the only non-human saint, did you know that? I did, weird huh?

Anyway, the highpoint of the feast is not the parade (even though Mr. Raposo marches in it as one of the parish's elite), nor is it the many games or flower petal-decorated streets, it is not even the "carne espit" which is seasoned meat roasted on long metal skewers. No, the high point of the feast is the Portuguese dinner we have at the Raposo's house each year.

Space prohibits me from listing every delectable dish that we are presented with but standouts include Portuguese beef, braised quail, pork and clams, sweet rice, octopus stew and much, much more. Consensus among my many friends however decrees that principal and chief among the multitude of great dishes is Mrs. Raposo's roasted chourico and potatoes. It is a dish of simple and delicious perfection. It is always a topic of conversation at the table that day or on any other day of the year when someone cares to bring it up. It is worthy of an expenditure on great wine and good bread to enjoy along with it. It is one of those great food stuffs that though it is of simple ingredients, the finished product is sublime. It is a transcendent food. Below, you will find my adaptation of this recipe.

Chourico, in case you are not familiar with it, is a spicy Portuguese pork sausage. Similar to Spanish chorizo, but different enough to make a difference. Of course, you can make this dish with just about any similar spicy sausage, but if you can source it, I highly recommend chourico. It's a head-spinning delicious dish with it and you can even order it here.

Portuguese Roasted Chourico & Potatoes

2-1/2 to 3 lbs egg-sized potatoes (peeled)
3/4 cup peanut oil
2 tsp of Portuguese paprika (colourau)
1 cup white wine
2 medium sized onions (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 bay leaves
Chicken broth
2 Tbs tomato paste
4 links of chourico (about 2 lbs)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Peel the potatoes and place them in a bowl of water while you prepare the other ingredients.

Mix the paprika in the peanut oil, blend it well. Set aside.

In a roasting pan (I use a 9" x 13" x 2" Pyrex), add the wine, onions, garlic, bay leaves and tomato paste. Be sure to blend all the ingredients well.

Space out the chourico links in the the roasting pan, then the potatoes equally around and between them.

Drizzle all of the peanut oil/paprika mixture over the potatoes.

Add as much chicken broth as needed until the liquid just over half covers the potatoes.

Place it in the oven until it reaches a boil. Then reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue cooking another 30 minutes.

Turn the potatoes and chourico over, then replace the pan in the oven and continue cooking another 15 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from the oven allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then cut up chourico and return to pan. Coat all in the juices.

Serve with a hearty red wine and a good crusty bread.

Recipe: Portuguese Chourico and Potatoes from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Recipe: Tomato-Onion Chutney

This is a recipe that took a little while to find and then a few adjustments to get it to where I like it. It is a popular Indian chutney found in all the Indian restaurants I have visited. The problem is that the variations are numerous and each one is a little unique.

I wanted to one that came close to one of my favorite Indian restaurants and I finally arrived at this one. Tomato-Onion chutney is a great relish. I often make it as an accompaniment for pakoras, but it works great on a number of Indian foods. It is also really good on hot dogs, hamburgers, bratwurst and other things where you might normally use an "American" relish. It may even be great on chourico, but really, what isn't?

I've used a variety of different kinds of onions in this dish and they've all worked.

Tomato-Onion Chutney

1/2 tsp peanut oil
2 TBS tomato paste (more or less, adjust it to what you like)

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp Indian chile powder (optional for heat)

1/4 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt
1 cup onions (finely chopped)

Place a small saucepan over low heat. Add the peanut oil.

When the oil begins to shimmer add the tomato paste, paprika, cumin, chile powder (if using), sugar and salt. Simmer for 1-2 minutes mixing well.

Mix in the onion and blend well. Remove from heat immediately and set aside for flavors to meld.

Serve as a side for most Indian food.
Recipe: Tomato-Onion Chutney from Chop onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recipe: Penne a'la Vodka

At my house we go through about three to four bottles of vodka a year, none of which is ever used for drinks. All of it is dedicated for use in this sauce. We even keep a sizeable plot of parsley growing, again, almost exclusively for preparing this sauce and chimichurri. Now, if I can just find room for a cow, I'll have my own source of cream.

In life, few things are certain, in fact the certainties stand out and one of mine is this: If I ask my wife Michelle what she wants for dinner she's going to ask for penne a'la vodka. She always does. She'll eat it for two days in a row with some as leftovers for lunch. She loves the stuff. Here, I'll do an experiment right now and ask her... (asks wife what she wants for dinner...wife answers "risotto!"). Alright, so fewer things are certain than I thought. One of the beauties of this sauce is that it is quick to make. In fact if your ingredients are prepared, you can put your pasta water on to boil and this sauce will be ready at the same time you are straining the pasta. The other great thing about this sauce is its rich flavor and silky smooth texture.

I add crumbled Italian sausage most times I prepare this, and I encourage you to do the same. This will give you a good idea of how this sauce can enhance the flavor of the food it is coupled with. It will also couple well with boneless chicken breast (cubed). In fact, I have been toying with the idea of using this sauce to make a lobster and scallop lasagna. You can look for that one in a future book as I think the creaminess of the sauce is a sure hit with the flavor and texture of the shellfish.

Penne a'la Vodka

1 large can of ground tomatoes
1 can of tomato sauce
1 lb. of penne or ziti
4 Italian sausages (pre boiled and crumbled)
1/2 cup of vodka
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (diced)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10 cloves of garlic (lightly crushed with the back of knife)
3 Tbs of Italian parsley (chopped)
1-2 Tbs of unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried, crushed red pepper
1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Place pasta water in pan to boil. Cook pasta in normal way.

Preheat a separate pan and add olive oil. When oil begins to smoke lightly and shimmer, add garlic and saute until lightly brown.

Add both cans of tomatoes, crushed red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes, bring to boil and then cover and place on simmer for 10 minutes.

Add vodka and mix in, simmer until pasta is done.

Fish out garlic cloves from sauce, discard.

Add crumbled Italian sausage to sauce, mix in well, continue to simmer.

Strain pasta (reserve some water in a separate container), fold in butter ensuring all the pasta coated.

Check sauce, add salt and pepper to taste.

Add cream to sauce, mix in well.

Add pasta and parsley to sauce, continue simmering to desired consistency. If mixture is too thick, add reserved pasta water.

Stir in cheese, let settle for a few minutes. Serve garnished with a little more cheese and parsley.
Recipe: Penne a'la Vodka from Chop onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Friday, November 7, 2008

Recipe: Teriyaki Sirloin Tips

This is a really simple dish made with a few prepared products. You may have noticed or you will notice that I am not fond of using prepared products in most of the meals I create. My philosophy is that you should home prepare as much as you can. It's just better for you and your family. Sometimes though something comes along and if it works don't mess with it. This is one of those recipes.

This recipe came to me, (and therefor you) by way of begging, nagging, coersion and screaming. It also took several meetings in dark alleys with shady characters to finally get. It is not one of my own recipes, but it is just too good to neglect entering it in Chop Onions, Boil Water for my readers, friends, family and descendants.

It comes from the kitchen of a now defunct restaurant and former favorite hangout. Those of you who know me or are familiar with Fall River, may know of where I speak. It was a pretty cool place for a time. The social center of a lot of our lives. A place where I spent many, many hours, drained many bottles of cabernet sauvignon and made many friends. It is a place that represents a part of my life that I consider my own renaissance. A place where I was able to stand back, relax, look at myself, take stock and rebuild. It is also an important place because I met my wife there.

Enjoy these steak tips folks because many people who used to will never be able to again. They weren't as tenacious as I was at bugging and coercing people for the recipe. Nor are they as resourceful as my friends Sandy and Shane were at securing this recipe.

Thanks guys!

Teriyaki Sirloin Tips

3-5 lbs beef sirloin tips
3/4 cup of Italian dressing
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki glaze (plus a little for post grilling)
1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki marinade

In a large bowl combine the Italian dressing, water, teriyaki glaze and teriyaki marinade. Blend the ingredients well.

Add the sirloin tips to the mixture and coat well.

Cover and place in the fridge overnight. Turn mixture occasionally.

Prepare on the grill to desired doneness.

Toss with a little bit of the teriyaki glaze.

Serve and enjoy!

Recipe: Teriyaki Sirloin Tips from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin and Wild Rice

I've really started to appreciate Native American influenced food and it is showing up more and more in the things that I serve in my home. As I've mentioned in previous recipes, the Native American influence on world cuisine is profound. As I'm cooking more and more traditional Native American dishes I'm also beginning to fuse it with other foods I prepare like Mexican, Portuguese, etc. Surely, some of those dishes will find their way into Chop Onions, Boil Water.

Wild rice, an important Native American food, is quickly becoming a favorite ingredient of mine. It has a great nutty flavor, a unique texture and it is packed with protein and vitamins to make it a great addition on your dinner plate. It's versatile and you can use it a number of different ways: rice dishes, stuffings, pancakes, etc. You can be sure I'm going to introduce more recipes that include it.

Due to the nature of its harvest, it is expensive compared to common white rice, (which is not a substitute). I recommend you avoid buying it in your local grocery store because it is usually overpriced there (much like saffron), compared to online outlets or even Trader Joe's.

The recipe below is a great introduction to wild rice. When using wild rice it is not uncommon to cut some white rice into it. In this recipe I use a 2:1 wild rice to white rice ratio. It's possible to alter this ratio to 8:1 white rice to wild rice and still get plenty of flavor and texture of the wild rice. So feel free to back off if on the wild rice if you prefer.

The onions and roasted pumpkin certainly don't hurt this dish at all and if you like it a little sweeter, feel free to add more maple syrup or honey. This is a great pairing with smoked meat, roast chicken and the like. I'm having some with sirloin tips this evening.

Roasted Pumpkin and Wild Rice

1 cup wild rice
1/2 cup medium grain rice
1 2 to 2-1/2 lb. sugar pumpkin (seeded, peeled and cut into 3/4" to 1" pieces)
2 slices bacon (cooked, chopped, fat reserved)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1/2 cup chicken stock.
1 TBS peanut oil
3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup (use the real stuff, go with darker or grade B)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Bring 8 cups of cold water to boil. Add 2 TBS salt and the wild rice. Cook the wild rice at a gentle boil for 35 minutes.

When the 35 minutes is up add the white rice and continue gently boiling for 15 minutes.

When rice is finished cooking, strain and rinse with hot water.

While the rice is cooking:

In a large roasting pan or dutch oven combine the pumpkin, onion, bacon, chicken stock, salt and pepper (to taste), bacon fat and peanut oil. Toss all ingredients to coat evenly.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup over the pumpkin pieces. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After the pumpkin and onion mixture has baked for 30 minutes, remove the foil and return the pan to the oven. Roast for about 30 minutes.

When the pumpkin and onion mixture is tender and starting to brown, remove from the oven. If pumpkin has not begun to brown, place it under the broiler for a few minutes. Be sure to keep and eye on it so it does not burn.

When done, remove from the oven. Add the rice mixture and 1-2 tablespoons of the remaining maple syrup, toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot.

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin and Wild Rice from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Monday, November 3, 2008

Recipe: Aloo Chole

This recipe probably had more to with my wife's conversion from someone who didn't like Indian food to someone who loves Indian food than anything else. It is a milder dish, yet full of great flavor. "Approachable" is what I think an Indian food novice may think.

Aloo Chole and related chickpea dishes like chana masala are very popular street foods in India. They are inexpensive and easy to prepare and not only sustaining but really flavorful. I've had aloo chole a number of ways, from a "stew" consistency to something thicker and more in line with my recipe below. I usually prepare it as a side dish in larger Indian dinners I prepare at the house. However, aloo chole really shines as a lunch item paired with a good piece of naan or roti. Like many Indian foods it seems to get better with one or two days behind it.

I always get the impression that chickpeas can seem a little foreign to a lot of people, I find that aloo chole can really change people's opinons. So, if you're looking to introduce someone to Indian food, or you're looking to experiment yourself, you may want to give aloo chole a go.

While I have not done it, what I've learned from cooking a lot of Indian foods is that if you're looking for something a little more toward the "stew" range in a dish, the addition of oil or ghee seems to be the path you'd want to take. I've found this work well with tikka masala, I'm sure it would work here if you like.

Recipe: Aloo Chole

2 cans chickpeas (around the 14 oz. size)
I medium onion (chopped)
1 tsp onion seeds ("nigella")
1 tsp cumin
6 cloves garlic (sliced)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 medium potato (cut into 1/2" cubes)
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp salt
2 TBS peanut oil
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)

Place a large pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the peanut oil.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and saute until translucent.

Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add the onion seed and cumin seed and stir for a few minutes.

Add the cubed potatoes and stir until slightly translucent.

Add the add chickpeas, spices and yogurt and stir in well. Cover, lower heat to medium and continue cooking for approximately 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Add a little water if necessary.

Remove cover and use a potato masher to mash about 1/3 of the mixture. Stir to blend. Again, add a little water if necessary.

Mix in chopped cilantro and serve with naan or roti bread.

It is better the next day.

Recipe: Aloo Chole from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recipe: Academica-Style Steak Sandwiches

In 1993 my friend Tom asked me to join him for lunch at a local Portuguese bar. We ended up at the Academica Association in my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts. The Academica is an informal little Portuguese place that has a bar side and a restaurant side. We chose the bar side. When I asked what to order he suggested the steak sandwich and fries. At the time I didn't realize how my choice would affect the eating habits of so many people.

When the plates arrived, the portions were large which is not unusual for a Portuguese restaurant. A large, medium-crust bread which had been sliced lengthwise and filled with reddish brown steak topped with cooked whole garlic cloves and sliced red peppers. There was also a hefty pile of fries on the plate as well. I bit into the sandwich and was really surprised at how phenomenally good it was. Luck of luck, the fries were equally tasty. Well, I wasn't 4 bites into the sandwich and I knew I'd be back, and back I went, and continue to go to this day.

I introduced a few friends and family to the place and mentioned it to others and soon it was a hit amongst them. It wasn't an uncommon occurrence to have a friend mention they had just been to the Academica and then express how good it was. One friend in particular, Dave Lebouef, started getting take out there. Dave is one of my oldest friends and it was his luck that I told him about the Academica, but my luck that he went and became interested in it.

Dave's friends also know him as the "Technician" because of his pragmatic approach to the process of things that interest him. Well, during his visits to the Academica, he studied the processes of cooking those steak sandwiches and experimented on his own at home. He soon came up with an excellent version. Like most things in life the simplest things are often the best, and such it is with these sandwiches. This recipe is my adaptation of Dave's. I think I use a little more garlic than Dave does, that's about it. Oh no wait, I also take my sandwiches with a half bottle of Dao wine as well! You'll read more about Dave elsewhere here, but know he makes major contributions to our cooking circle.

Academica-Style Steak Sandwiches

Steak, not too thick, cubed steak works well. It should be 1/4" to 3/8" thick.
Stick-style sandwich bread
1 TBS Olive oil
8 to 12 cloves of garlic
Pickled sweet red peppers (mild to medium heat, sliced and seeded)
Frank's Hot Sauce® or Texas Pete's Hot Sauc
1 tsp butter
Salt to taste

Heat a large saucepan over a medium-high flame.

Add olive oil, when it begins to shimmer, add the steaks to the pan.

Salt steaks and add some hot sauce to the top of steaks while cooking.

Toss garlic cloves around the pan. Move it around frequently so it does not burn.

When steaks are half done, turn them over, add a pinch of salt and more hot sauce.

Move pan contents so the ingredients blend well.

Turn steaks when done and be sure all the liquid ingredients in the pan blend well.

Add a teaspoon of butter to mix and blend in.

Swirl steaks around in sauce, move onto bread, add a little of the garlic and top with pickled sweet red peppers.

Serve with french fries.

Recipe: Academica-Style Steak Sandwiches from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Recipe: Smoked Pork Tenderloin

I've got a big 'ol locomotive-sized smoker out back that I jokingly refer to as Hank's Smokehouse. It has become the basis for all of my barbeque and smoking recipes of which there are many and the list continues to grow.

When I fire up the smoker, I like to make the best of the time, charcoal and wood, so I'll load it up with whatever it can handle. Usually, there will be a few pork tenderloins, pork loins, a brisket, a couple of chickens or a turkey, some beans and even some fish. Yeah, I like smoked foods.

For the love of space and time, I can't go into a whole dissertation on the art of smoking so, I've just put the basics below. You should know, that it is not difficult. Once you understand your smoker and what you're going for, it's pretty easy and not a bad way to spend a day by the pool. I'd just suggest having some "smoking clothes" set aside just for that purpose.

This is an easy recipe (most smoking ones are), the bonus of this one is that unlike beef brisket which likes to be in the smoker for over 12 hours, pork tenderloins are fast smokers. If I remember right I've even got some done in less than an hour.

If you've always wanted to smoke food, go for it, you won't be disappointed!

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

1 Pork tenderloin
1/2 cup of paprika
3 TBS coarse black pepper
3 TBS sea salt
3 TBS brown or turbinado sugar
2 TBS chili powder
1 tsp dry chipotle pepper (ground fine)

Day one:

Mix the paprika, black pepper, salt, sugar, chili powder and chipotle pepper together. Set aside.

Rinse the tenderloin and pat it dry.

Place the tenderloin in a large plate and massage the dry rub mixture on to it. Be sure to coat it evenly and well.

Wrap the pork tenderloin up in plastic wrap and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Day two:

Soak your smoking wood of preference (I use hickory for this) in water for about 30 minutes prior to using.

Fire up your smoker. When the charcoal is ready add a few pieces of the wood. Again, if you're thinking about smoking food I encourage you to do a little research, but generally:

You're looking to keep the temperature in the smoker between 200° and 225°F. You want to do this with an absence of flame. You want hot charcoal that keeps your wood smoking. This is all done by venting the amount of air going in the smoker and venting the amount of smoke out. You replace your smoking wood as need and with a little practice, this is easily accomplished using a minimum amount of that wood.

The tenderloin is finished when the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches 155°F. Remove it from the smoker, wrap it in aluminum foil and let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes. Slice and serve. Wrap and freeze unused portions, they hold up well in the freezer.

Recipe: Smoked Pork Tenderloin from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk