Sunday, December 27, 2009

Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the Common Good

"Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the Common Good" is the motto of The Newman's Own Organization and I like it, a lot. Newman's Own is a for-profit corporation founded in 1982 by actor Paul Newman and author A. E. Hotchner. All profits after taxes (read: ALL PROFITS) are donated to charitable organizations and since 1982 those profits have been in excess of two hundred and eighty million dollars. It is a hopeful and refreshing contrast to other corporations that operate in a world of shameless greed and wretched excess.

I like Newman's Own a lot.

Newman and Hotchner began their endeavor with a salad dressing that was very popular with their family and friends. The popularity of the salad dressing lead them to introduce it commercially. Its success in the marketplace and the money it generated spearheaded a brand that has continued to grow and includes a variety of popular and profitable products that include: pasta sauces, iced tea, lemonade, limeade, fruit cocktail juices, popcorn, pretzels, salsa, cookies, coffee, grape juice and more.

Recently, Newman's Own sent me a variety of products to try, review and create new recipes with*. I was happy to oblige because I am familiar with their products as I have purchased them many times. They are all good products and of the varieties I buy I've always been satisfied and often surprised. It's good stuff and I like it a lot.

Also, all of Newman's Own products have a particular flavor that I rarely find in other brands. It is a profound nuance. Something that transcends the high quality of its ingredients, something special. It's the heart warming flavor of knowing that by purchasing Newman's Own products I am helping people in this world. I am effecting positive change and getting help where it is needed and WE ALL NEED TO DO THAT.


Thank you for that Newman's Own, it is certainly a huge selling point!

"Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the Common Good" Yeah, try that on for size mega-corporations, mega-banking interests and others. Do it for a couple of years. Do it for the good it does and not for your own selfish tax benefits. Nike? McDonald's? Coca-Cola? Walmart? Where are you all?

Yeah, Newman's Own - I like it a lot! I love it.

Chop Onions and Boil Water endorses Newman's Own products not only for their superiority, but for the good the company does.

*I get many products to try and review, you'll only see ones that I sincerely and truly use and enjoy in Chop Onions, Boil Water!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recipe: Jonnycakes (Rhode Island cornmeal pancakes)

Here in Southeastern New England you just can't get more down-home-swamp-yankee-soul-food than jonnycakes. Their history is long and finds its root in the pre-European-invasion food traditions of the local Wampanoag and Narragansett Indian tribes. Corn cakes were a tribal staple and the Native Americans generously shared their corn, its farming methods and its preparation with early settlers. In the case of Plimouth Plantation, jonnycakes (or something very similar) were in-part, the difference between the life and death of the colony. A error on the tribes' part which the intolerant Pilgrims soon made them regret. The negative aspects of American history aside, the early settlers took a serious liking to jonnycakes and they became synonymous with Southeastern New England farm life and are still available today. Which is something, because the ingredients while simple, take a little effort to produce.

Genuine jonnycakes are made from stone ground white cap flint corn. It's the same variety of corn that was favored by the local Wampanoag and Narragansett Indian tribes before the arrival of the Europeans. Still grown by local farmers, white cap flint corn (or Narragansett Indian Flint Corn) must be grown in areas isolated from other corn crops to avoid hybridization. It is also a low yield crop with stalks producing one to two ears of corn with each ear having only eight rows of kernels. The corn once harvested takes approximately eight months to dry enough to get to the point where it can be milled. Which takes us to the next step.

Genuine jonnycake meal has to be stone ground between granite millstones. This slow and traditional method not only produces a superior meal, but the one-pass method used in grinding the flint corn also allows a higher nutritional value in the resulting meal. Several historic mills currently produce the stone ground flour required to make jonnycakes. Among them are: Gray's Grist Mill in Adamsville, Rhode Island which is the oldest dating back prior to 1700, Carpenter's Grist Mill in Perryville, RI, dating to 1703 and Kenyon's Grist Mill in Usquepaugh, RI, dating to 1886. Their products are available in a few local markets. Both Gray's Grist Mill and Kenyon's Grist Mill offer their products online. Each mill claims their product to be the genuine item and all other products are inferior, but a lot of things with jonnycakes are like that.

Like all things much loved by passionate adherents, there is much dispute over jonnycakes. Points of view tend to form regarding where you live, what mill you get your flour from and who your ancestors are. There are several variants of the jonnycake that are defined by where one lives on Narragansett Bay. Mills aside, each variation has its faithful proponents whom will profess their favorite's advantages above all others. At the time of this writing I am aware of three general regional variations (also: subtle variations of each recipe can be found within its region):

East Narragansett Bay Jonnycakes which are small and thin with lacy and crispy edges and use only milk.

Mid-Narragansett Bay Jonnycakes which are medium-sized and on the thick side. These seem to be the newest variant.

West Narragansett Bay Jonnycakes which are large, thick and soft and made with the addition of boiling water.

Even the name "jonnycake" has been disputed in the past. One story I came across tells of a couple of 19th century politicians coming to blows in the Rhode Island State House over the need, or not, of the "h" in the name. Apparently, the fellow who wanted the "h" kept out won, because most places refer to them as "jonnycakes". Even the origin of the name comes into scholarly debate. Some scholars believe the word jonnycake is derived from "joniken" the Algonquin Indian word for corn cakes, while others point to jonnycake being derived from "journey cake" because the corn cakes travelled well. Here you choose the story that most fits in with your personal feelings. I know where mine lie.

While a fan of ALL jonnycakes (and nokake and cornbread), I grew up eating the East Narragansett Bay variety on my grandparent's farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island. My grandmother was a wizard at the stove and indulged me whenever she got a chance to. At the ignorant age of seven I once challenged her that I could eat all the jonnycakes she could make. Testing her love like that was pure folly and in under an hour I was stuffed to the gills with the crispy corn goodness produced in her cast iron skillet. My jonnycake pedigree is deep and can be traced back through Yankee farmers all the way to Native American ancestors. That makes me pretty damn romantic about jonnycakes and puts them high on my list of personal supreme comfort foods.

Jonnycake purists will tell you these have to be cooked on a well-greased cast iron pan or griddle. I can't say that's true because I mostly cook in cast iron anyway. Purists will also tell you that you serve them with sweet butter only. Well, when I ate them at my grandparents that's how I had them and they were GOOD! These days though, with concerns about cholesterol, I don't think it's a sin to use maple syrup or some other heart-friendly topping. You can use jonnycakes anywhere a pancake, biscuit, dumplings, potatoes or corn would be served. Thinking about it now, the next time I make some chili, I'm going to cook up a bunch of jonnycakes. I can't lose.

Behold the famed jonnycake,
easy to cook and quick to make.
Fare of Indian brave and white man
Crisp, golden joy in a cast iron pan.

I've presented three recipes below of the Narragansett Bay variations and one personal recipe. Try what you like and experiment a little. In the words of Richard Donnelly, Rhode Island's own "Jonnycake Man": There is no wrong way to make a jonnycake! I hope you try, and enjoy this simple and historic Southern New England pleasure.

East Narraganset Bay Style Jonnycakes (Courtesy: Gray's Grist Mill)

1 cup stoneground white cornmeal

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar (optional)
1-7/8 cups of milk

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Let stand a few minutes as mixture will thicken, (Add extra milk if necessary to keep the mixture thin).
Spoon onto on a well-greased, hot griddle or cast iron pan.
Cook, flipping after the edges turn brown so both sides brown evenly.

Mid-Narragansett Bay Style Jonnycakes (Courtesy: Richard Donnelly, Edible Rhody Magazine)

1 cup stoneground white cornmeal
1/8 cup dry milk
1 tsp of sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch of either allspice, or nutmeg or ginger (optional)
1-1/2 to 2 cups boiling water

Place dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add the boiling water slowly and use the back of a spoon to smooth it and keep it from lumping on the spoon.
Drop spoonfuls onto a well-greased, hot griddle or cast iron pan and flip when the edges are brown.

West Narragansett Bay Style Jonnycakes (Courtesy: Kenyon's Grist Mill)

1 cup stoneground white cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Sugar
1-1/4 cups of boiling water

Place all ingredients in bowl and gradually add boiling water.
Let stand a few minutes, as mixture will thicken.
Thin down with boiling water to a consistency that will drop off the end of a spoon.
Drop on a well greased, medium hot griddle by the spoonful, and cook for about 6 minutes each side, until brown.

Henry's East Narragansett Bay Style Jonnycakes

1 cup stoneground white cornmeal

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar
1-1/8 cups of milk

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Let stand a few minutes as mixture will thicken, (Add extra milk if necessary to keep the mixture thin).
Spoon onto on a well-greased, hot griddle or cast iron pan.
Cook, flipping after the edges turn brown so both sides brown evenly.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Recipe: Sweet Corn Cakes/Fritters

Sweet Corn cakes (or "fritters" as they are more commonly known outside of New England) taught me a valuable lesson about people and cooking. You can go out of your way and create an entire dinner, all the food can be great but one small thing can become a standout. Such was the dinner on the front porch of my old apartment one summer evening. I prepared all manner of Mexican specialties for my guests including smoky refried black beans, chicken fajitas, homemade salsa, etc. It was a basket of warm corn cakes drizzled with honey, prepared as an afterthought that was the hit of the party though.

Cakes/fritters are popular all over the United States, from the New England clam cake to the hush puppies of our Southern states. They are served as additions to other meals or popular stand alone snacks. They're not difficult to make and prepared mixes abound, but what's Zen about dumping a box of ingredients bolstered with chemical preservatives, compared to working with a nice recipe of wholesome ingredients? NOTHING!

I'll offer you a little advice in the way of quantity. Correctly made these things disappear faster than your cheap friends when it's round buying time at the bar, so make more than you think you'll need. I serve them drizzled with mesquite honey, but any flavor will probably do. They are also very good served as a side for chili or corn chowder.

Corn Cakes/Fritters are really versatile and you can steer them between savory or sweet as you like. You'll notice below that I keep the sugar kind of low. That's because this recipe should get most of its sweetness from good sweet corn. Also, you may be drizzling honey over them before serving them which will add additional sweetness. Another variation of this recipe that I prepare includes diced red bell pepper. To prepare that use 1-1/2 cups of sweet corn and 1/2 cup of diced red bell pepper instead of the 2 cups of sweet corn below.

Sweet Corn Cakes/Fritters

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white sugar
2 cups whole kernel sweet corn
1 egg lightly beaten
1 TBS peanut oil
1/2 cup milk
3 cups vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Stir the sweet corn kernels into this dry mixture.

In another mixing bowl beat the egg, peanut oil and milk together.

Pour the wet and dry mixtures together, stir until just blended.

Heat the 3 cups of oil in a heavy pot to 350°F.

Drop tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil and cook, turning occasionally until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels and serve warm, brushed with butter, drizzled with honey or sprinkled with salt.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Recipe: Slow Cooked Pot Roast

At the risk of sounding like one of the Beverly Hillbillies I'm going to confess that this dish kind of reminds me of something my grandmother used to make when I was a kid - roast raccoon. That's no lie, it's not even an exaggeration. We ate a lot of strange things at my grandparents house. For the record, it was all good. They were country people and products of the depression. My grandfather was a hunter and fisherman and my grandmother was a hell of a farm wife. She once saved me from a blood-thirsty and crazed fighting rooster. That story is elsewhere on this blog, something tells me it's probably got to do with a chicken recipe.

If my memory serves me well (and it usually does) roasted raccoon looked like roasted turkey only reddish brown with four drumsticks. There were of course, potatoes and carrots. I imagine a dinner like that will freak some people out, but it was good. Everything the woman cooked was good.

Okay, my freaky memory aside, this recipe is a great rainy Autumn Sunday dinner. Which coincidentally is just the kind of day I prepared it on when I finalized, prepared and photographed it for the blog. It is rich, hearty and delicious and of major importance: SIMPLE! You basically just do a little prep, chuck everything into a crock pot or dutch oven* and slow cook it and not touch or look at it for ten hours. It cooks while you do vastly more important things like watch television, play with the kids, do your yoga, read poetry or run around all day and do errands. Start it at 8:30 AM, do what you want all day and an amazing dinner is ready at 6:30 PM. Pretty sweet huh?

My only recommendation is that you don't over-pack your crock pot or dutch oven. The meat and vegetables will give off a lot of moisture during the cooking process and you don't want the liquid rising over the top. If you have a small crock pot or dutch oven, adjust the recipe as needed.

*My home range has a slow-cook feature so I prepare dishes like this in a covered dutch oven. Of course it works equally well in a crock pot.

Slow Cooked Pot Roast

3 lbs. Boneless bottom roast
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of red wine
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 medium onions chopped
3-4 small onions peeled
4 carrots cut into 3-4" pieces
1-1/2 to 2 pounds small red and white potatoes (golf ball to egg-sized)
Your favorite homemade or store-bought biscuits
2-4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Put the chopped onion in the bottom of your cooking vessel.

Mix the sea salt, black pepper, onion and garlic powders together and coat the roast evenly on all sides. Place it on the onions in your preferred cooking vessel - fat side down.

Take the potatoes, carrots and whole onions and arrange them around the roast. Be sure that you'll be able to close the crock pot/dutch oven completely when ready.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar and red wine until the Dijon mustard and the brown sugar are completely blended in. Pour all the mixture equally over the roast and the vegetables.

Cover the cooking vessel, set it on low and let it cook for ten hours (If you're using a dutch oven, cover it, place it in the oven and use your range's slow cook feature and instructions).

When the time is up remove the roast and vegetables to a large serving bowl. cover it with a plate and towels to keep it warm while you prepare the gravy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and water.

Pour all the liquid from the roast into a suitable pan and place it over high heat until it begins to boil (if you're using a dutch oven prepare your gravy in that). Lower it to a high simmer and slowly add 1/2 the water and cornstarch mixture while stirring constantly. You'll need to use your judgement here to get your gravy to the desired thickness. It is better to add it SLOWLY as you PROBABLY WILL NOT NEED IT ALL. If you add it all quickly, I hope you enjoy extremely thick gravy!

Slice or chunk the roast, plate it with the vegetables and a biscuit, dress it with the gravy as you like.

beef, recipe, meat, roast, pot roast, bottom round, roast beef, recipe, henry krauzyk, cuisine, new england, crock pot, slow cook, dutch oven, potatoes, carrots

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recipe: New England Clam and Scallop Chowder

Annually there's a big clam chowder festival a short drive from my house in Newport, Rhode Island. For a stretch there I attended every year. It was a lot of fun and it was interesting to see how different restaurants and organizations approached making what they considered a good chowder. There were New England, Manhattan, Bahamian and Seafood styles as well as a few others including a pretty good quahog chili one year.

They offered different categories to compete in, and in the seafood chowder contest one restaurant reigned supreme and that happened to be the restaurant I hung around at and eventually met my wife at. They made a great chowder, no, they made a phenomenal chowder! It was so good and they won this contest so often that eventually they were politely asked to retire from competition to give other establishments a fair shot at the prize.

Ah, what a great restaurant and chowder, but things change. That is why I am going to offer you a short lesson here on economics. The restaurant of which I speak is doing rather poorly these days and I don't think it will be around for long. I'd like to explain why.
You see each restaurant has a geographical location that it serves. This means that on the average you can count on a certain number of people coming into it from a given distance. They call this your "customer base". If the restaurant is doing well and you decide that you want to open another one, you have to open the new one outside the territory of the first. Two good restaurants owned by one entity in one area don't double the custom base, they divide it. Now a restaurant that used to pull in $30,000 on a Friday night divides that lucrative customer base in half (more or less). So in effect you have doubled your cost but not your profits.

Worse yet, suppose you're not clever enough to catch on before the slump begins to show? What do you think you do? Well I guess you open a third and then a fourth restaurant in the same geographical area as the first popular one, because that is what they did. Guess what? The customer base that didn't double when you opened the second restaurant doesn't multiply again. So now you've divided your customer base by four! Your biggest competition becomes YOU and even the areas that don't overlap between the restaurants cannot generate enough new customers or income to cover that kind of expense! Never mind the other new restaurants that are opening around you that you don't own!

This is what happened to my beloved bar and restaurant. It wasn't long after all this that it took on the desperate feel and vibe of one of those places we've all been to: The "Doomed Eatery". They try anything, changing the menu, coupons, anything! They're cutting corners and missing details to save money but it's all moot, the slide has started and they're on their way out.

Some day soon, if a couple of friends can keep a promise, I am going to have that award winning seafood recipe and I'll put it in this cookbook for you. By then I think that restaurant will sadly be gone. That recipe could have saved it, if the owner had put his money and efforts into packing and marketing that seafood chowder to the masses out beyond his regular customer base. Instead they spent all that money and time to do nothing but compete against themselves.

Bummahs huh?

New England Clam & Scallop Chowder

24 ozs Clam juice
1 lb. of potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold) cubed small
2 Tbs sweet butter
Pork fat back (piece about the size of a pack of gum)
2 cups of finely chopped onions
1-1/4 cups of celery (chopped fine)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
1 large bay leaf
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2.5 lbs of chopped local clams (strain from juice, save juice)
1 lb. bay scallops (strain from juice, save juice)
1-1/4 cups of Half and Half
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp Saffron threads (mince or crush into a powder after measuring)
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the clam juice and the potatoes to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are just tender. Remove from heat.

In a larger heavy pot, melt the butter and add the fat back and cook until the fat back begins to brown.

Add the onions, celery, garlic and the bay leaf and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften. Slowly add the flour, mixing thoroughly. Things will begin to thicken and paste up. Be careful not to let the flour burn.

Stirring quickly and constantly, slowly add the reserved clam and scallop juice to the vegetable and flour mixture. You're looking for a smooth mix.

Now, add the clam juice and potato mixture. Then add the clams and the scallops, the half and half, hot pepper sauce and the saffron. Simmer chowder for 10-20 minutes to blend flavor. Stir frequently, testing often to adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve hot with clam cake/fritters. Always better the second and third day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recipe: Panko Chicken with Red Bell Pepper - Peanut Sauce

I would like to tip my hat to my wife for the inspiration for this recipe. While she is not as passionate about cooking as I am, she does turn out her own really good dishes when she feels inclined. One of the areas of cooking where she surpasses me is with the venerable crock pot. She is a crock pot master and I am just a humble student.

Beyond a stew, I don't think I'd be able to coerce much good from a crock pot. Not so with my wife. She has produced all manner of wonderful things from crock pots. From tasty dishes like the one the recipe below finds its roots in, to delightfully gooey and delicious chocolate desserts. There are no clinkers in her cadre of crock pot cookery creations! So, unlike many homes in which the crock pot either collects dust or is relegated to warming cocktail weenies or beans at parties, our crock pot sees regular use.

Recently, she created a version of a Thai dish she found in one of her crock pot cook books. It was of course delicious and pretty authentic tasting. I loved the rich, satay-like peanut sauce and at some point mid-dinner, after my compliments and comments regarding its various delicious aspects I got the idea to take elements of the recipe in a different direction. My idea was a Japanese and Thai fusion of sorts.

Chicken Katsu is a popular dish in my house. Easy-to-prepare and loved by all. So, I just thought I'd bend my wife's dish a little bit by preparing my version of the sauce from it with katsu-style fried chicken dish along with steamed Jasmine rice (or noodles like my wife's recipe). The resulting dish is rich and delicious and will certainly find its way on our dinner table again.

NOTE: If you are on a low sodium diet, you may want to prepare this recipe using low-sodium options where you can.

Panko Chicken with Red Bell Pepper - Peanut Sauce

4 boneless breast of chicken
2 red bell peppers (one cut in 2" slices, one cut into a 1/4" dice)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup of smooth peanut butter
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1-1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
2-1/2 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
Peanut oil for frying
1 cup of flour
2 eggs
1 TBS milk
Panko bread crumbs
3 Green onions (cut into 2" pieces
3/4 cups peanuts (chopped)
3/4 cups cilantro (chopped)

Trim the boneless chicken breast and flatten to 1/2" with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Season with salt and pepper and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a sauce pan combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic, red curry paste and sliced red bell pepper. Place over medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Whisk frequently until the peanut butter is dissolved and sauce is smooth. Set to a very low simmer and cover pan while you prepare the other ingredients. Stir occasionally.

Prepare the Jasmine rice the normal way. While it cooks prepare the other ingredients.

Place the peanut oil in a deep frying pan and bring to frying temperature.

Place the flour in a plate, beat the eggs with the milk in a wide shallow bowl and place the panko flakes in a plate. Dredge each chicken breast in flour (removing excess), then dip it in the egg wash (draining excess), then coat well with panko flakes. Fry each breast in the peanut oil until golden brown on each side and cooked through. Place on draining rack.

When done frying the chicken remove the cover from the sauce pan. Raise the heat to a simmer and slowly drizzle in the cornstarch and water mixture while constantly stirring until the sauce thickens well. Add the green onions to the sauce and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes being careful not to scorch the sauce. Remove from heat.

Plate with a bed of rice with the panko chicken breast on top. Cover the rice and chicken with a generous portion of the red bell pepper-peanut sauce and garnish heavily with the chopped peanuts, cilantro and the diced red bell pepper. Serve immediately.

If you'd like it a little spicy, add some sriracha or some chopped red chilis.

Enjoy this recipe with an ice cold Thai beer!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Recipe: Pork Loin Marsala

As I was preparing this dish last night and transcribing the final version of the recipe, I came to a surprising realization: In my house, we go through a lot of alcohol just for cooking purposes.

For instance, this recipe calls for 3 cups of Marsala wine. That is quite a bit of wine (but worth it!), and we tend to keep two big bottles handy. We also keep big bottles of Port wine for a couple of pork recipes we cook frequently. Then of course there's Penne à la vodka which doesn't earn a name like that for nothing! In fact it's the ONLY reason we keep vodka in the house.

This list goes on and on. Bailey's Irish Cream for French toast, Chinese wine for Chinese sauces. Two kinds of sake for teriyaki and tonkatsu sauce. Cognac for steak diane, as well as regular and cherry brandies for a variety of flambés. Portuguese cachaca for Azorean chourico bombeiro and surely more that doesn't readily come to mind. That's just the specialty stuff. I couldn't even calculate how many bottles of white or red wine we go through a year for marinades, deglazing and sauce building!

I wonder what chefs did during prohibition?

This is a great recipe. For the best results you'll want to use fresh pork and pay careful attention to how you build your sauce. The objective is too create a nice silky sauce that clings to the pasta. If it seems watery, simmer on!

Pork Loin Marsala

4 Pork loin cutlets (cut 3/4 to 1" thick)
1/2 cup of flour plus 2 TBS
1/4 cup olive oil
3 TBS sweet butter
8 oz. Portobello mushrooms chopped coarse
3 cups Marsala wine
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 medium tomatoes diced (the redder, the riper, the better)
1 lb. dried pasta (your favorite)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Start the water for your choice of pasta. While you are preparing the pork cutlets and sauce, time your pasta to be ready just as your sauce is finishing.

Season the pork cutlets with salt and pepper, dredge/dust the cutlets heavily in flour and set aside.

In a large dutch oven set on medium-high to high heat add the olive oil and butter. When the butter melts sauté the mushrooms until they are half-cooked. Remove the mushrooms from the pan with a slotted spoon. Be sure to save the butter, oil and mushrooms behind in the pan. It's okay to add more olive oil if necessary.

Sear all the cutlets at once in the reserved oil and butter mix. Don't worry about browning them, you just want a good sear on both sides of all the cutlets to lock in the juices and keep the pork moist and tender.

Once the cutlets are seared, add two cups of the Marsala wine and tomato sauce to them (don't mix). Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat until the mix is barely bubbling. Cover the pan and braise the cutlets for 20 minutes. FOR OPTIMUM TENDERNESS, BE SURE THE MIX DOESN'T BREAK INTO A SIMMER! You'll have to readjust the heat a few minutes after you cover the pan. Do not lift the lid more than absolutely necessary.

After the 20 minutes is up carefully remove the cutlets and set them aside in a covered bowl to keep them warm.

Add the chopped tomatoes to the Marsala mix and raise the heat to cook down the tomatoes and thicken slightly. Stir frequently. Lower the heat if necessary.

Whisk the 2 TBS of flour into the remaining 1 cup of Marsala wine. Add that mix to the Marsala mix stirring constantly as the sauce thickens.

Once the sauce thickens, reintroduce the mushrooms to the mix. Stir well, letting the mushrooms reheat and cook a little (about 3 minutes).

Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning.

Reintroduce the pork cutlets. Gently stir in to coat with sauce and warm (about 1 minute).

Plate pasta, top with a pork cutlet and a generous amount of the Marsala mix over the cutlet and pasta.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Recipe: It-Doesn't-Necessarily-Have-To-Be-Sunday, Sunday Gravy

There's no bones about it, I found my cooking passion by making my own Italian food at home. It's not a recent thing either. It started when I was a teenager when I would "dress up" jarred sauces (often with chourcio - NATURALLY!), and it continued right on into my very first "from scratch" dinner recipes and it still goes on today.

I may cook all kinds of authentic world food for my family these days, but there's no world food I feel more comfortable preparing than Italian. It's one of the world cuisines I'm quite comfortable improvising with. Give me anything, as long as you include a few basic Italian ingredients, and I'm going to feel safe cooking something good for you. My cook's confidence is in Italian and to a lesser degree, Thai and Native American cuisine.

Which makes it kind of weird that I didn't have a proper, personal "Sunday Gravy" recipe after all these years. Anyone familiar with Italian cooking or gangster films (real ones not that Hip-Hop nonsense) knows what Sunday Gravy is. For those of you who don't know, allow me to direct you to Italian cookbooks and gangster films to find out. I'm not in a typing mood today.

Anyway, I never found a Sunday Gravy recipe that I really liked all that much. Everyone who is Italian or knows Italians or who cooks Italian is always going to crow about their Sunday Gravy or their friend's Sunday Gravy or their mom's Sunday Gravy or their aunt's or grandmother's Sunday Gravy and how it is the best in the world.

Well, as with most food, they are all right of course. The food you like best is the best in the world - to you! So up until a few days ago, I never had a Sunday Gravy that I could crow to the world about being the best. Then I flipped through the September 2009 issue of Esquire Magazine and I got an inkling.

The picture is what captured my imagination. I saw the photo of all that rich, glistening sauce with all those chunks of meat and well, it got my attention. I sought out the recipe on the following page. There, courtesy of Peter McAndrews (hey! He married an Italian!) I found the recipe and some important words that convinced me to try the recipe. Words like "spare ribs", "bones" and "hours".

That recipe was the basis for my own recipe below. I've made enough significant changes to the original recipe to confidently call this one all mine. (I'm not in the habit of changing recipes just to call them my own. If that were true, you'd see Giada De Laurentiis's Rosemary Roast Pork with Port Wine and Fig sauce in here under a different name! Search recipe out folks because it is FLAWLESS and delicious!).

Anyway, I made changes to suit my taste and preference. The most notable, was starting the whole thing with a onion-hefty mirepoix. Yeah, that's a French word in a classic Italian recipe, but trust me it helps make one hell of a good sauce. I also changed the kinds and amounts of tomatoes, added more garlic and tomato paste, as well as the addition of a pork tenderloin and a little GOOD QUALITY balsamic vinegar. Finally, the fact that your chucking in the World's Best Meatballs doesn't hurt either!

Without further adieu allow me to introduce my NEW, old-family recipe for Sunday Gravy:

It-Doesn't-Necessarily-Have-To-Be-Sunday, Sunday Gravy

1/2 cup olive oil
3 lbs. country-style or southern-style spare ribs
3 lbs. sweet Italian sausage
2 lbs. World's Best Meatballs
1-2 lb. pork tenderloin
3 lbs. large beef bones
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
10 cloves garlic chopped
3 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
3 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes (lightly crush the tomatoes with your hands)
3 28 oz. cans of ground tomatoes
3 large bay leaves
1 TBS turbinado or light brown sugar
1 TBS GOOD QUALITY balsamic vinegar (the syrupy type)
Sea salt to taste

Take a LARGE stock pot. A large one. A BIG stock pot. I mean BIG, like a 14 quart stock pot. Pour in the 1/2 cup of olive oil and coat the bottom and the sides of that stock pot really well. Place the stock pot on medium high heat. When the oil comes up to temperature and is hot and shimmering (not smoking), brown and remove all your meat in this order: spare ribs, Italian sausage, meatballs and tenderloin. Place the browned meat in a covered pan or dish and set aside.

If you need more olive oil at this point feel free to add it. Let it come to temperature and then brown your beef bones on all sides.

When the beef bones are browned, add your onions, carrots and celery and continue to saute until tender and starting to brown slightly. If the oil begins to smoke, lower your heat. You want the onions, carrots and celery to sauté evenly.

Add the chopped garlic and sauté along with the bones, onions, carrots and garlic for about 2-3 minutes. Be sure not to burn the garlic or it will turn bitter!

Add the tomato paste and mix it in well so that it coats the mix and bones. Continue to sauté until the tomato paste darkens. Again, be careful not to burn the mix.

Add the hand crushed whole tomatoes with their juice, the ground tomatoes, the bay leaves, sugar and the balsamic vinegar. Stir all together until it is well blended. Bring it slowly to a lively simmer. Special note: When you are cooking a quantity of sauce like this, it is always wiser to bring it up to temperature SLOWLY to avoid burning the sauce in the bottom of the stock pot.

When the sauce reaches a lively simmer and is an even, slightly thick mix, add your spare ribs and pork tenderloin. Reduce to a medium simmer and allow to continue like this for one hour stirring occasionally.

At the end of the first hour, add the Italian sausage and allow to simmer for another hour. Always be sure the simmer is low to medium to avoid any burning. Stir occasionally.

At the end of the second hour, add the meatballs and continue simmering for another hour. Stir occasionally.

At the end of that hour, you will notice a layer of red oil forming at the top of the sauce. If you're health conscious you can skim off some of this with a ladle. It won't reduce the fat all that much, but it'll give you a false sense of responsibility that will get you past the guilt of eating all this pork and beef fat goodness.

Season with the sea salt to your preference. Stir sauce well.

Remove from heat. Remove all the meat and bones to a separate serving platter and serve the sauce over your favorite pasta perhaps with a sprinkle of your favorite cheese (as long as your favorites are parmesan-reggiano or pecorino romano).

This sauce kicks ass and is the World's Best Sunday Gravy - TO ME, FINALLY!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Recipe: Barbecued Pork Ribs

Are you ready? Here comes a diatribe.

Propane should be used for hot air ballooning and forklifts and never for barbecuing.

Propane should be used for hot air ballooning and forklifts and never for barbecuing.

Propane should be used for hot air ballooning and forklifts and never for barbecuing.

Did you get that?

When barbecuing, NOTHING equals a wood or charcoal heat source, NOTHING. Of course there are going to be nay-sayers, pseudo-scientists and pseudo-philosophizers and all manner of malignant thinkers out there who are going to protest and offer numerous reasons why propane is just as good as charcoal or wood. Well guess what? I'm not listening because I know better.

Nothing can impart the flavors on food that wood and charcoal do, especially not a smelly gas like propane. Sure it's cleaner and convenient but so is masturbation compared to the real thing, and I don't know about you, but you can put me in the "real thing" column when asking folks what they prefer.

If you own a propane grill, stop using it, fill it with dirt and grow geraniums in it. Then go out and get yourself a well-made, sturdy barbecue like a Weber or Charbroil. That's what I finally did (well, except for the geranium part), and I have no regrets because the results are remarkable.

If you do take this sound advice and come over to the purist ranks, seriously consider the charcoal and wood you're going to use. You wouldn't put regular fuel in a Maserati and you can't use those uniform futuristic-looking briquettes in a good barbecue. They are processed and covered with chemicals to make them burn uniformly, and well, you might as well use propane if you're going to use them.

Look for the good chunky and irregular (naturally) shaped stuff that comes in big bags. You'll find these burn hotter and impart a better flavor on the food you prepare with them. Do a little research on the subject and you'll see what I mean. It also doesn't hurt to investigate the best barbecue and ribs joints and see how they're cooking. If they're the best, I know what's burning in their kitchens!

This is one of my first original barbecue recipes. I hunted around for a good ribs recipe, but came up short. No single recipe looked like something I wanted to try. So I just combined what I thought were the best ingredients in each one. Most recipes recommend simmering the ribs for 20 to 30 minutes and then letting them marinate overnight in the sauce. I don't, I go from pot right to the grill and slow cook them until I can't stand waiting to eat them any longer. These things are a smash hit at my house.

Barbecued Pork Ribs

2 full racks of pork ribs (St. Louis style or babyback)
1 litre of Coca-Cola®
1 large onion (frenched or sliced)
1 Tbs of ginger powder
1 4 oz. can of tomato sauce
4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sweet Baby Ray's® barbecue sauce (or your favorite which should be Sweet Baby Ray's®)

In a large pan, place the ribs, Coca-Cola®, ginger, onion, garlic and tomato sauce, salt and pepper and add enough water to just cover the ribs.

Set on high heat and bring to a boil.

When it reaches a boil, lower heat and continue at a low simmer for 30-40 minutes. (Important note! You can simmer these longer or leave them in the warm liquid longer. The ribs will become more and more tender. They can get too tender and begin falling off the bone on the grill. It's your choice. I generally simmer them for 30 to 40 minutes and then let them sit in the warm broth for up to 4 hours for perfectly tender ribs.)

Remove from heat and remove the ribs. Slather them with the Sweet Baby Ray's® and place them on a preheated grill.

Slow cook them over medium heat being careful not to burn them. Turn them occasionally and slather with the barbecue sauce each time.

When they have been cooking for at least an hour and looking like the sexiest ribs you've ever wanted to eat, remove them from the grill, re-slather with barbecue sauce and cut into individual ribs.

Serve with cole slaw, roasted corn-on-the-cob, corn biscuits, beer and bbq'd beans.

Apologize to your heart and dig in!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Recipe: Rice with Brazilian Sausage, Red Peppers and Chickpeas

One of my favorite kinds of restaurants to eat at is a Brazilian steak house or "Churrascaria". Typically the service is "rodizio" style. Basically, you're seated and cocktails are offered Shortly thereafter the feast begins. "Passadors" or "meat waiters" come by your table with knives and skewers full of a variety of meats slowly cooked in special rotisserie ovens. Among my favorite meats are sirloin, tenderloin, pork loin and pork tenderloin. Though, I can't complain about the lamb, chicken, fish or duck, though I usually pass on the chicken hearts or chicken livers.

One of my friends' and my own favorites is the roasted Brazilian sausage. I can remember one night in particular at a churrascaria in Montreal known as Le Misla where the sausage was incredible. In fact I think many of the guys at my table that night would have said it rivaled the beef tenderloin!

While it was in churrascarias that I was introduced to Brazilian sausages, it's in my own home and from my own grill that I tend to eat it the most. Luckily, I live near an Portuguese/Brazilian/Spanish market and a dependable supply is always available.

While it is easily great served solo right from the grill, I have managed to use it in a couple of rainy day recipes, when the grill is not available. The recipe below represents my current favorite.

I f you can't find Brazilian sausage where you are, don't fret. This recipe will also do well with a variety of sausages like Italian, chorizo, chourico, andouille and others. Never be afraid to experiment!

Rice with Brazilian Sausage, Red Peppers and Chickpeas

2 TBS. Olive oil
2 lbs. of Brazilian Sausage
4 plum tomatoes (diced)
2 medium onions (diced)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
2 cups of red bell pepper (diced)
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1 cup of white wine
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley (to garnish)

Put the sausages in a deep pan and just cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the sausages until the water almost runs out.

Set the sausages aside. When cool, slice into 1/4" disks.

Set another deep pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer add the onions and simmer until they begin to brown.

Add the tomatoes and cook stirring often until they give up their juice.

Add the red pepper, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and chickpeas and continue to cook stirring occasionally.

Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Raise the heat a little. When the mixture almost loses all its moisture add the white wine and deglaze.

Add the rice and sausage and mix them in thoroughly. Cook it for a few moments to allow the rice to soak up some of the juices and flavor.

Add the chicken broth and water. Stir to mix in well and bring to a boil. Then lower to a low simmer and allow to cook uncovered until the rice is tender and absorbs most of the liquid. Add more liquid during cooking if necessary.

Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recipe: Tasty, Dreamy, Light and Creamy Hummus

Way back yonder in a place we commonly refer to as the 1960's and 1970's we didn't see a lot of chickpeas in my family and social circle. We other things either, not broccoli, not asparagus, not mushrooms or anything else that didn't fall into our socio-economic reality. I've got no grudges, we ate well. Having a father who hunted and a grandfather who hunted and owned a farm, we ate a lot of things other people didn't eat, like rabbits, pheasant, quail and the occasional raccoon, woodchuck or other animal that wasn't quick or smart enough to evade the hunters. Jethro Bodine has got nothing on me and Granny Clampett could have learned a few things about cooking vittles from my Grandmother!

Like I said, no chickpeas. I think my first chickpea experience may have been in the early 1980's at one of those horrible, corporate all-you-can-eat salad bars. You know the places: heavy on the atmosphere but also heavy on the overly salted reheated frozen entrees? YUCK! That's a rant left for another post in the future. Anyway, my chickpea experience then was pretty unimpressive. It was a cold, waxy marble that turned into a grainy mush in my mouth. Boy have things changed.

We keep a pretty good supply of chickpeas in my house. Both dry and canned varieties for a variety of reasons. I suppose it was Indian food that swung it for me and certainly my wife. Things like Aloo Chole and Chana Masala can make a chickpea lover out of many people. One of the things we prepare regularly is hummus. Boy, do I love hummus. I can remember the first time I ever tried it, it was at my sister Carolyn's wedding, (She's still married, amongst me and my siblings, well that's just AMAZING!). I've loved hummus ever since.

That's not to say I've never had bad hummus, I have. Sometimes it's too garlicky, other times there's not enough garlic. Other times it's like school paste or just filled with a lot of pseudo-food-ingredients or chemicals that you just don't need in your body. Like many things though, I've solved those quality control issues by preparing the stuff at home and creating something I love.

The basis of this recipe comes from two sources. One is a local Lebanese market that makes great hummus, the other is a great television program and publication called "America's Test Kitchen". The market gave me a target for great hummus and the America's Kitchen recipe was a perfect starting point. I spent some time tweaking (and eating a lot of homemade hummus) to get it to a great recipe for me, my family and friends.

The thing about hummus is that it is easy to prepare. So you can kind of take it where you desire when you make it yourself. You want it thicker? Cut the water. More garlicky? Add garlic! You want it ungodly hot? Add lots of cayenne. It's weird that I've had as much bad hummus as I have, it seems so simple and easy to prepare well, what were all theses people and companies doing wrong? : )

Recipe: Tasty, Dreamy, Light and Creamy Hummus

3 TBS Lemon juice (fresh squeezed, THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE!)
1/3 cup of cold spring water
6 TBS tahini (stirred well)
3 TBS blend oil (recipe below)
1 14 oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed, I use Goya)
1 tsp garlic (minced well and gently packed into spoon)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cumin (fresh ground, NO SUBSTITUTE)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

To prepare the blend oil mix 1/2 TBS olive oil with 3 TBS peanut oil, blend well.

Mix the lemon juice and the cold spring water together.

In a separate bowl mix the blend oil and the tahini together.

In a food processor add the chickpeas, garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Chop until all the ingredients are well blended and the chickpeas are almost ground.

Scrape the side of the food processor. Then with the food processor running, add the water/lemon juice mixture in a steady stream allow to blend for about 1 minute.

Scrape down the side of the food processor again. Then with the food processor running, add the tahini/blend oil mixture in a slow and steady stream. Continue processing until the hummus is smooth and creamy (about 15 seconds).

Put the hummus in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Serve with pita chips or any other way you like.


Tasty, Dreamy, Light and Creamy Hummus from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Friday, April 3, 2009

Coming Soon COBW 2.0

Hey folks, I know it has been a little while since I last posted a recipe or review. I just wanted to let everyone know that I've been busy working on Chop Onions, Boil Water Ver. 2.0

The new site is going to be a multichannel outlet for cooking world food at home. The basic blog will still be there as always and I'll add new recipes as I create or perfect them (my definition), but there will also be exciting new food areas, regional and specialty forums and channels and feeds from other great food resources out there.

I'm also want to offer folks the opportunity to register if they'd like to post their own recipes and create their own profiles within COBW. Maybe we can even start a little "World Food at Home" community.

So, I apologize for the delay of new posts, but promise that there is much more coming in the near future. Thank you for your interest and input and I look forward to trying some of your recipes in the future!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Recipe: The World's Best Meatballs

Yup, you are reading right. The recipe below represents what are in my opinion THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS. They are the result of over 2 years of tinkering and intensive dedicated meatball research. This recipe also has one hell of a pedigree, its origins having come from the hallowed halls of Rao's, one of the most famous and exclusive of Italian eateries in the world.

Even with those distinguished origins the resulting meatballs still didn't pass my personal taste test. They were good, but needed improvement and that took some trial and error and tweaking. This is not to say that I think I am a greater cook than those in great restaurants, only that I know what I like and want, and I am going to go to lengths to get it. I'm not like this with every recipe I prepare, but hey I'm talking THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS!

When I finally came to the recipe I liked best, I prepared it a number of times to make sure it was consistently good and trust me, it is. You can even vary things a little and still get fantastic results. Sometimes when I want lots of meatballs I triple the recipe and use half ground turkey and half beef/pork/veal in the meat mixture. Then I fry them all, let 'em simmer a bit in sauce and then just freeze meatball after meatball after meatball knowing that I'll always have a few when I need them (and I need them often because, in case you have not figured it out by now, they are: THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS).

If I have to warn you about anything, it would be the parmigiano-reggiano. Sure, its expensive cheese and you might be inclined to substitute its inexpensive cousin pecorino-romano for it. Do that at your own peril! These are THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS and being such they demand parmigiano-reggiano! Oh, and that is PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO, it comes in a wedge, you can't shake it out of a green can. If you want THE WORLD'S GREATEST MEATBALLS you have to have parmigiano-reggiano.

The World's Best Meatballs

Sundried Tomato Marinara Sauce
1 lb. ground lean beef
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 small garlic clove peeled and minced
2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups warm water
1 cup olive oil

In a large pan, prepare the Sundried Tomato Marinara Sauce recipe. You may, as an alternative use any marinara recipe you like, but if you do, these will only be great meatballs, not THE WORLD'S BEST MEATBALLS. Keep on a low simmer.

In a large bowl thoroughly and evenly blend the beef, veal, pork, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, Italian style breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Add the water a little at a time as necessary to keep the mixture pliable and a little on the moist side. You may not use all the water or you may require a little more.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.

While the oil heats up begin making your meatballs by using an ice cream scoop to measure out each meatball. Roll the meat between your palms to firmly roll each meatball until round and well formed.

Place the meatball in the hot oil turning it occasionally until it is browned all over. You can do several meatballs at a time in this way.

When each meatball is browned, remove it from the oil. Allow any excess oil to drain from it and then place it in the simmering sauce. Complete this process with every meatball. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Serve with pasta or in sandwiches. The flavor improves overnight.

The World's Greatest Meatballs from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recipe: Linguini with Chourico and Red Pepper Sauce

It's no secret that I am a fan of the spicy portuguese sausage known as "chourico". Why I am a fan of chourico is no mystery either, it's because chourico is a ubiquitous ingredient in the cuisine of my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts (where the word chourico is pronounced something like: "SURE-dEESE"). Fall River has a large Azorean Portuguese community and that means we have great Portuguese food. From what I hear, Portuguese people on the island of Saint Michael now consider Fall River the tenth Azorean island. I like that.

So, like I said, chourico is a ubiquitous ingredient in our local cuisine. It is in sandwiches, pies, paired with seafood, a pizza topping, a breakfast side, it is served as an appetizer, a main, it can be used with or in a variety of things. It has even penetrated the most American of feasts: Thanksgiving, where our local variety of turkey stuffing has a good deal of chourico in it. Hell, one of my friends even eats it dipped in chocolate. I prefer to cook mine in a flaming bath of Portuguese moonshine.

That's why, I can't even consider a collection of personal Italian recipes that doesn't include one that uses chourico. This is probably the oldest of the chourico sauce recipes I have. I've been preparing something like this since around 1980. In those days the recipe was basically a marinara with ground chourico in it. I've refined it now and I also add some sweet and crunchy red pepper that works great against the spicy chourico.

If you don't have chourico where you live, I've included a link below where you can get some of the best. Don't be afraid to try a different kind of spicy sausage with this dish. Italian, Cajun or Brazilian sausage will work fine, and while I haven't tried it with Mexican or Spanish chorizo, I'm sure that would work as well.

Linguini with Chourico and Red Pepper Sauce

2 TBS olive oil
3 large links (about 1.5 lbs.) of chourico cut into 1/4" slices
1 large leek (white part only) chopped (substitute onions if you like)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 bay leaves
2 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1-2 TBS dried basil
1 healthy pinch of dried oregano
2 cups of chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large red pepper (cut into matchstick sized pieces)
Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (grated)

While you are preparing the sauce as outlined below, cook your linguini the normal way.

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

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the leeks, bay leaves and chourico and sauté stirring regularly until the leeks get translucent and the chourcio begins to cook and brown a little.

Add the garlic and continue to cook stirring frequently for 1 to 2 minutes. DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC!

Raise the heat to high and deglaze the pan by adding the two cups of chicken broth to the mix. Stir well and be sure to scrape up and hard bits from the pan.

Allow the chicken stock to reduce. When it does, add the two cans of ground tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the basil and the oregano and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to a low simmer and cook like this for 20 to 30 minutes.

Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

2-3 minutes before you are ready to serve the sauce, add the red pepper and stir in well. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE RED PEPPER. You want it to remain a little crunchy.

Serve the sauce over your linguini with a generous sprinkle of parmesan-reggiano cheese.

Recipe: Linguini with Chourico and Red Pepper Sauce from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recipe: Fall River Style Boneless Buffalo Wings

When you think about it, buffalo wings have become a phenomenon. If my sources are correct, they were first served by Teressa and Frank Bellissimo at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York on October 3rd, 1964. Since that historic and important date time they have spread internationally and spawned thousands of regional variations.

My favorite regional variation is from my hometown. Unlike more complex versions the local one is simple, as it calls for just one extra ingredient. It differs most from the original Buffalo Wings in that it isn't a chicken wing or drumstick at all but rather it is made from chicken tenders or slices of chicken breast.

This recipe was among my favorites at a restaurant I used to visit almost every night. In fact I met my wife there and made many friends during the time I spent there. Things change however, and that restaurant has faded into history. Its former glory now only a memory for the patrons that used to love it.

Now, if you read all my little stories above the recipes you're in for a special bonus treat here. My friend Sandy used to bartend at this same restaurant and one night when I was ordering the boneless wings, she insisted that I add some barbecue sauce to the prepared dish and then wrap the whole thing up in a tortilla. Well I did and it was great and it became one of my favorite sandwiches/wraps for a few years. If you try it I think you'll enjoy it as well! The schlubs who don't read these stories will never know that! So to honor it's creator I will call this recipe "Sandy's Super-Secret Boneless Barbecued Buffalo Wing Wrap." Try it, you'll like it.

Fall River Style Boneless Buffalo Wings

1/2 cup of Frank's Red Hot© Sauce
1/3 cup butter
1/8 lb. salt pork
1-2 lbs of chicken tenders or breast strips
Clam fry batter
Celery sticks
Carrot sticks
Your favorite bleu cheese salad dressing

Combine the Frank's Red Hot© Sauce, salt pork and butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until salt pork is well rendered. Set heat to low to keep sauce warm while you prepare the chicken.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 375°F.

Dredge chicken tenders in clam fry batter and deep fry until done.

Drain the chicken of excess oil and then toss it in the hot sauce mixture until well coated.

Plate it and serve with the celery sticks, carrot sticks and bleu cheese dressing.

Crack open an ice cold beer and enjoy!

Recipe: Fall River Style Boneless Buffalo Wings from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recipe: Romesco Sauce

Long overlooked, Spain is finally gaining world wide recognition for its amazing food. In my home I prepare a number of Spanish dishes including paella, pinchos mouros, batatas bravas and others. Among my favorites is salsa romesco from Tarragona, in Spain's northeast region of Catalonia.

As with many popular foods, the variations of romesco are limitless, but at its core are some standard ingredients. Among these are nuts, garlic, red peppers, tomatoes and wine vinegar. Often other ingredients are added to better match the romesco with the food that it is to be served with. Among these other ingredients are things like dried or smoked chillies or herbs like fennel or mint.

My introduction to romesco sauce came in the form of a condiment on a turkey sandwich that I ordered at a popular soup and sandwich chain. I loved romesco immediately. The complexities and interaction of the nuts, red peppers, tomatoes and red wine vinegar result in a delicious and versatile sauce that enhances the flavors of many other foods.

Traditionally, romesco was most often served with seafood. Today romesco sauce is used in a wide variety of other dishes. I've used it with great success not only as a condiment on sandwiches and grilled chicken and beef, but also as a dip, pasta sauce, baked potato topping and a host of other things. My children love Israeli couscous mixed with a dollop of romesco. sauce. I'm looking forward to trying it on hot dogs and hamburgers. Like I said: I love it!

For my version below I opted to use several different varieties of nuts for a more complex flavor. I also roasted the red peppers and tomatoes for a sauce with a richer flavor. This recipe also makes a good amount of romesco sauce. It is easier and economical to make it in larger quantities and then portion it out and freeze it so that you'll always have some on hand when you need/want it.

Romesco Sauce

1 ancho chile
1 cup of almonds
1/3 cup of peanuts
1/3 cup of pistachios
1/3 cup cashews
6-8 cloves of garlic
4 plum tomatoes
2 large or 4 small red peppers
2-1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp paprika (Spanish sweet preferred)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
Olive oil

Soak the ancho chile in water for 4 hours or overnight. Carefully remove the stem and seeds and cut the ancho chile peppers up into small pieces. Set aside.

Set the oven to 450°F allow it time to heat. Place all the nuts, garlic and bread cubes into an ovenproof skillet. Place the skillet in the oven and allow the nuts, garlic to roast and the bread to toast. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn anything. Remove from oven, place in a bowl to cool and set aside.

Set your oven to broil. Place the tomatoes and red peppers in the skillet and place under the broiler. Turn the peppers as each side blackens. When mostly black remove from broiler and place in a paper bag to cool. Roast the tomatoes until the surfaces blister and soften. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Remove roasted pepper from bag and carefully remove blackened skins, stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into large pieces and set aside.

Take the tomatoes and remove the stems. Cut into large pieces and set aside.

Place the nuts, garlic and bread together in a food processor and chop until the pieces are uniform and well blended.

Add the tomatoes, red peppers, ancho chile, sea salt, paprika, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar to the nut blend and chop and blend until almost paste-like.

While the food processor is running SLOWLY add a fine stream of olive oil to the mix until you achieve your desired consistency. For pastas you'll want a smoother sauce, for dips or for use on sandwiches you'll want something a little thicker.
Recipe: Romesco Sauce from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Recipe: Thai Beef Curry with Red Pepper and Snow Peas

Today's world food that you can prepare at home is a Thai Beef Curry with crunchy red peppers and snow peas. As Thai food goes, this is one of the spicier recipes that you will find on Chop Onions, Boil Water. It's good though and it is even better the next day as a leftover!

My own introduction to Thai cuisine came in the early 1980's when I was invited to join some friends for dinner at a newly opened (and rare at that time) Thai restaurant. My friends had spent a great deal of time in Thailand and one, Al, had fallen in love with and married a Thai girl named "Tim". They were all excited to finally be able to get their favorite Thai dishes so close to home. It was a long time ago, but I remember how happy Tim was to be able to speak her native language to the wait staff and she insisted on ordering for everyone in her native tongue. It was a great night of food, friends and fun (the three F's) and I experienced a number of firsts that night. Thai beer, spicy squid curry and mango with sweet rice were among them.

After that night, I always used to talk to Al about all the different foods, vegetables and fruits he had tried in Thailand. His descriptions of many things were the first accounts I had heard about those foods. Things like fish sauce, durian, mangosteen, phad thai and some dishes of raw pork with extremely spicy chilies are among the ones I can recall. Though common and well known now, they were all very foreign and exotic to me at that time. This was before the internet kiddies and lots of things took trips to the bookstore or library to research in the old days!

Suffice to say, that introduction to Thai food all those years ago turned me into a fan. Subsequently, it also turned my wife and kids into Thai food fans. Barely a week goes by that I don't prepare something Thai for dinner. We eat Thai so often that when I put rice out for any dinner be it Italian, Mexican, Portuguese, etc. my 4-year old daughter will always ask "Is it sticky rice daddy?" You cannot imagine her disappointment when it is not. You also can't imagine how much she talks about sticky rice and why she likes it better than whatever rice we may be eating during that dinner. Yup, from the beginning to the end of dinner... "Daddy, I like sticky rice because it's good and fun...", "This rice is red....", "When are we having sticky rice again?" I remember when I was a kid and we got one kind of rice: Minute Rice! At least some things have changed for the better!

Again, this dish is very spicy. If you're looking to tame it down, back off on the red curry paste or use a milder type of curry paste. You can also curb the ginger a little bit to take the heat down. Me? I like it spicy and hot. I just use more sticky rice* to temper the heat. Al and Tim taught me that over twenty years ago!

Thai Beef Curry with Red Pepper and Snow Peas

2 TBS peanut oil
2-2.5 lbs. sirloin tips
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1/2 cup fresh ginger (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
3-4 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 TBS fish sauce
4 ozs. snow peas
1 large red bell pepper (cut into matchstick-sized pieces)
1 lime (zest grated and then the fruit cut into wedges)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
1/4 cup basil (julienned)
Rice or noodles

Prepare the rice (I use Thai sticky rice*) or noodles (I use udon) while you do the following:

Season the sirloin tips with salt and pepper to taste. Cook them in your broiler to desired doneness. Remove from the broiler. Allow them to cool about 10 minutes and then cut them into 1-1/2" pieces and set aside in a covered plate (reserve any juices).

Place a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the peanut oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions and cook until just tender and lightly browned

Add the ginger and continue cooking, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.

Stir in half of the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Add half the coconut milk, stirring until the curry paste has blended in completely.

Stir in the remaining coconut milk and chicken broth. Add the fish sauce and simmer stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.

Add the sirloin tips (and any collected juices), snow peas and the red pepper and cook stirring frequently for about 3-5 minutes. You want the snow peas and red pepper to remain slightly crunchy and the meat to just reheat.

Portion rice*/noodles into individual bowls and ladle the beef curry over it. Sprinkle with the cilantro and basil and serve with the lime wedges.

*If using sticky rice serve it as a side dish. Roll the rice into balls and dip into the curry.

Recipe: Thai Beef Curry with Red Pepper and Snow Peas from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Recipe: Henry's Mexican-Style Rice

This is a rice dish I prepare when I'm serving Mexican food. I'm not sure how authentic it is because it is my own creation based on a variety of rice dishes I've had on both coasts of Mexico. I do know that my wife, kids and friends love it because it always goes, and its flavor blends well with the Mexican dishes I serve it with. I love to heap chunky guacamole and salsa fresca on this and shovel it into my mouth until the pleasure center in my brain flips into overload. That's comfort food baby! My wife loves it with a good dollop of sour cream.

You do what you like with it, I don't think you're going to be disappointed! It comes together quickly and is easy enough to prepare that I ALWAYS, ALWAYS (written twice for dramatic effect in case you didn't notice), serve it ANYTIME, ANYTIME (yes, again), that I serve Mexican food in my home.

You'll notice that I've listed Goya® Sofrito among the ingredients. I make it with both homemade and store bought sofrito. That depends on the time I have and the ingredients I have on hand. I don't think any American readers will have a problem finding the Goya stuff in the local market (BUY THE FROZEN STUFF!). If you're one of my non-American readers or a hands-on American reader you can find your own sofrito recipe online.

Henry's Mexican-Style Rice

2 Tbs peanut oil
2 Tbs Goya© Sofrito (frozen kind)
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 6 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 cups of steamed rice
1/2-3/4 cup of cooked peas
1/4 - 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro

Heat a large dutch oven over a medium-high flame.

Add peanut oil.

When oil begins to shimmer, add the sofrito, red pepper and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes being careful not to burn it.

Add the tomato sauce and blend well.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lower heat. Add the steamed rice and blend well.

Stir in the cooked peas.

Remove from heat and add cilantro, fluffing the rice as you mix.

Recipe: Henry's Mexican-Style Rice from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Friday, January 30, 2009

Recipe: Chunky Style Guacamole

Guacamole was one of those things that took me a long time to try. For the longest time the guacamole I encountered just didn't look edible. It always looked like a dark, olive drab or worse colored goop. Who wants to eat goop? Eventually I ran into a chunky style guacamole somewhere and I was hooked. After that I went to avoiding it at all cost, to making is regularly.

Due to the volatile nature of avocado flesh once exposed to the air, guacamole is best served fresh. So I keep my batches small so that there is minimum leftover. Though, if you do have some leftover you may get an extra day out of it but placing it in a ziplock plastic bag and removing all excess air and placing it in the freezer.

I keep mine pretty chunky you, of course will do what you like. Just keep folding it with a spoon while cutting with the steak knife to your ideal level of "chunky". Though, even if you are serving it with tortilla chips keep it a little chunky! No one should have to eat green goop? Well, not until they lose their teeth.

The recipe to the right should be sufficient for about eight people. Scale it up or down as necessary.

Chunky Style Guacamole

4 ripe avocados
2 ripe tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 small onion (chopped)
1/4 cup of cilantro (chopped)
Fresh jalapeno pepper (minced) to taste
Salt to taste

This one is pretty easy, folks.

Remove meat from the avocado whole and place in a mixing bowl.

Add the tomatoes, lime juice, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper and salt to the mixing bowl.

Using a steak knife and a spoon mix the ingredients together. It is important to blend it well while still keeping it chunky.

Cover and place in the fridge and allow the flavors to blend and the guacamole to thicken a little (about 1 hour).

Recipe: Chunky Style Guacamole from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recipe: Tomato Salsa (Salsa Fresca or Pico de Gallo)

There are all kinds of salsa out there, but for me, there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good fresh tomato salsa (also known as "Salsa Fresca" or "Pico de Gallo"). None of that goop that you see on the shelves in the supermarket can even compare to the simplest of fresh salsa. It's easy-to-prepare, delicious and a healthy addition to many meals.

The other great thing about a basic recipe like this is its adaptability. You like more tomatoes? Add them. More garlic or cilantro? Add it. This basic tomato salsa can be personalized quite easily. You can also take it in a number of directions and come up with some great recipes. Try it with roasted tomatoes (really good), or add some sweet corn kernels or black beans and you start to get some great variations.

You'll also probably want to make a little more than you think you need. It goes pretty quickly.

Another suggestion I'll make is that you always sample a small piece of the chopped chile that you decide to use. I find that the heat in supermarket chiles can vary dramatically (especially jalapenos). What was mild one week can be extremely hot the next week, even amongst peppers that look exactly the same. Sampling a small piece will avoid any unpleasant surprises in your salsa!

Tomato Salsa (Salsa Fresca or Pico de Gallo)

2 medium-small regular tomatoes or 4 or 5 plum tomatoes
Fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers to taste (scorch over an open flame until skin turns black, place in paper bag, put aside)
12 large sprigs of cilantro (chopped, stems and all)
1 large garlic clove (minced)
1 small onion (chopped and rinsed in a strainer under cold water.)
1-1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp sea salt

Finely chop tomatoes and add to a bowl.

Remove the jalapenos from the paper bag and rinse the skin off under running water. Cut open, remove seeds and chop finely. Test for desired heat and add to tomato mix. (BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH YOUR EYES. WASH HANDS WHEN FINISHED)

Add the cilantro to the tomatoes and chilies.

Add the chopped onion.

Add the lime juice and salt (to taste) to the mix. Blend together well and set aside for flavors to blend.

Some folks will chuck this into a food processor and chop it until smooth. I don't like my salsa that way, you might.

Tomato Salsa from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recipe: Rosemary-Fennel Sauce

I first prepared Rosemary-Fennel Sauce at a time when I was experimenting a lot with mirepoix. This sauce has since become a popular addition to my home cooking efforts because it is a versatile addition or starter for a variety of Italian dishes. I recently posted one of those dishes, you can find it here.

I prepare this sauce in a variety of ways. For instance, I'll create a thicker version for roasting with meats. To do that, I'll half the amount of crushed tomatoes. If it is being paired with something and needs a little more support, I will increase some, or all of the amounts of fennel seed, rosemary or red pepper flakes as necessary. It's not rocket science so don't be afraid to adjust this sauce to your needs.

As it is presented below it is the perfect accompaniment for cheese tortellini or any other pasta you may want to try it with. I'm not going to get all arty and poetic here and go into great detail regarding the texture and flavor contrast and balances, but they are in there. Give this sauce a shot, I think you'll really like it. Get a little daring with it and you'll soon be making your own mirepoix-based sauces. Do that enough and you'll never buy another jar or can of that prepared gloop in the market!

IMPORTANT NOTE: You'll need to boil down your own balsamic vinegar until it forms a thicker syrup, or you can drop a chunk of money on the expensive vintage stuff. If you want to make your own, just buy two bottles of the inexpensive stuff and simmer it down until you have less than one bottle left. The resulting syrup retains the balsamic flavor but is thicker, sweeter and far less "vinegary" than what you started with. Take a taste of that stuff and you'll understand why Italians put balsamic vinegar on strawberries and ice cream. DO NOT USE THE THIN, INEXPENSIVE BALSAMIC VINEGAR IN THIS RECIPE!

Rosemary-Fennel Sauce

2-3 TBS olive oil
1-1/2 cups celery (finely chopped)
1 1/2 cups carrots (finely chopped)
4 cups onion (finely chopped)
2 tsp fennel seeds (crushed)
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried rosemary (coarsely ground)
6 cloves garlic (sliced thin)
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 cups (16 ozs.) tomato sauce
4 TBS tom paste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS balsamic vinegar

Place a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil When the olive oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel, red pepper flakes and rosemary. Sauté until the the carrots and celery soften and the onions begin to brown.

Add the sliced garlic and stir in for 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Allow the wine to reduce to form a thick sauce.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, black pepper and the balsamic vinegar. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and continue cooking. You want the sauce a little thick, not too thick, not too loose. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Serve over cooked tortellini or any other pasta.
Recipe: Rosemary-Fennel Sauce from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recipe: Crazy Dream Choo Chee Fish Curry

Today's recipe that you can prepare at home is Choo Chee Fish Curry and it comes to your kitchen via the exotic Southeast Asian kingdom of Thailand. It is a rich and flavorful dish and is best accompanied with a big bowl of Thai sticky rice. That sticky rice is going to serve an important function when eating this extra-spicy curry because it helps temper its heat quite well.

I'm not going the blur lines here, this curry is probably the hottest thing I serve in my home. It's not near the hottest thing I'll eat and enjoy, but it is plenty hot enough for my family. This dish packs a rich and delicious wallop for people who like spicy food, but for less robust palettes, well be careful who you prepare it for. It's just going to be too hot for some, but it does make believers out of others! My wife for instance. If you had told me all those years ago that she'd eat food this hot and not only enjoy it but request it, well I would have said you were deranged. Choo Chee Curry converted her to spicy foods.

It's also a full service seafood curry so try it with whatever makes sense. A lot of recipes call for shrimp, and I've seen others call for a kind of seafood stew which I'll be trying myself in the near future. I may even try the sauce over some panko-battered fried chicken. Now for the weird twist.

The weird twist of this dish (and hence its name) are the after effects. It makes me dream vividly and madly. At first I thought is was just a coincidence. However, after numerous similar post-chow-down experiences and even a few by my wife, I will caution you that maybe, just maybe you too may dream crazy, and dare I say forbidden and maddening things. You know, like being chased by the Teletubbies through a Jello cave while wearing a thick suit of woven angel hair pasta while aluminum foil hummingbirds whisper threats in your 31 ears.

Things like that. Still though, it's all worth it. IT REALLY IS!

Crazy Dream Choo Chee Fish Curry

1-2 lbs. of firm white fish fillets (I use tilapia or mahi-mahi)
All-purpose flour (to dredge the fish in)
4 TBS peanut oil
2 cups coconut milk (unsweetened)
Bottom half of 1 stalk of lemon grass (peeled into individual blades)
4 TBS red curry paste
1/2 cup of water
4 TBS fish sauce
3 TBS palm sugar (or brown or turbinado sugar)
2 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
4 TBS green onions (sliced very thinly)
3 TBS fresh cilantro (chopped)

Cut the fish in to pieces about 2" x 3" inches. Dredge individually in flour, set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer cook the pieces of fish about 2-4 minutes per side until browned and crisp. Remove from pan and allow to drain on a paper towel while you prepare the cooking sauce.

Remove the unused oil from the pan and wipe out any residue. Replace the skillet over medium heat. Add half the coconut milk and the lemon grass blades and cook until it becomes fragrant and creamy.

Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly until well dissolved.

Add the remaining coconut milk, water, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, half of the green onions and half the cilantro. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer.

Add the fish pieces and simmer in the sauce for about 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon the curry sauce over and around the fish while it cooks.

Remove from heat.

Remove the lemon grass blades and discard.

Serve the fish in deep plates with the curry sauce generously spooned over it. Garnish with the remaining green onions and cilantro.

Pair with Thai sticky rice.

Dream madly children, dream madly.

Recipe: Crazy Dream Choo Chee Fish Curry from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk