Beans, cheese and everything else...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Fire Pesto

It's been almost FOUR years since I've posted to this blog. Dang! Well, looking at that pizza down there in the last post I can see why I quit. Gross!! I hope my cooking skills have improved since then. Actually, I know they have, at least pizza-wise, a web redemption pizza post coming soon, but in the mean time I wanted to reflect on hot foods.

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways. Or, rather, let me REcount the awesome memories I have surrounding hot foods in relation to people.

* Vinod: There are quite a few with you (10 out of 5 please), but roasting and eating fire peppers in Burnett Woods with Vivek scarred me and my insides for life.
* Erik: Remember that Four Horseman green chile Mackey brought us from Santa Fe! SO HOT.
* Nick/Sisters: Ooooooh, the gypsy that appeared out of nowhere in the back roads of Venice to serve us her gypsy satan burritos? I couldn't feel my face for the rest of the day!
* Mom and Karen: Balloon Fiesta Green Chile peeling gave us fire hands for days!
* Liv and Jeff: I brought some of that fire chile back for you to use in small batches and you unwittingly put the whole thing into your stew. OUCH!
* Chris B: Dude, the smirk on that little old Thai ladies face when she'd give us Thai Express level 12. FUUUUUHHHH!!!!
* Laure: Ummmm that's not basil pesto it's jalapeno pesto......
* Ema: Oh goodness, habanero ejay. YOOOOOO!!!!!!
* Sterling: Speaking of habaneros, how about grilling some for everyone to feel like they got maced while camping!?
* Kurtis/Seth: Mmmmmmm jaaaalllllaaaapeno peeesto......

Here it is, a recipe request from the lips of Big K. Jalapeno pesto, couldn't be simpler!


Mix it in a blender and BLAMO! Jalapeno P!

Thanks for the memories everyone.


8 Jalapenos, chopped up.
2 cups (~2 bunches) cilantro
Tablespoon toasted pinon seeds
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I hate that phrase. Use about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and go from there).

Emulsify by slowly adding the oil to the blender.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Not I, but the Pizza, Teaches

Not enough can be said about pizza. From one dollar slices at Laventina's in Newport Beach to gourmet pies at Dewey's in Cincinnati, it gracefully covers the spectrum from take-out to dine in. It has lasted through centuries and traveled across the globe, continously evolving as it goes along.

In addition, pizza is an excellent place to enter the world of baking breads. The dough is pretty hard to truly screw up, and even then it's still good. Face it, a cardboard box covered in meats, sauces, cheeses, vegetables and herbs would still taste good. But get it right, a nice pillowy dough, and homemade pizza is downright heavenly. Split the dough up into strips and you have breadsticks. Hold the sugar and change some small details and you have it's mediterranean cousin, pita.

Just about anything can be put on a pizza. From crazy people making Indian pizzas (no microwave required!?) to twists on the classic ham and pineapple , pizza is definitely flexible. In this writer's humble opinion, none can compare to the tasty Socrates' Revenge. Somehow spinach, olives and feta as a group add a subtle complexity that has to be tried.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving Redux

Got that full fridge, nothing to eat feeling this week? It's probably because you have turkey and stuffing leftovers popping out of every shelf. In honor of being thankful for what we have and not being wasteful, here is a recipe for mixing it all up with a twist. These curried thanksgiving leftovers may not be as efficient as say.... recycling turkey poop, but they're damn close.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Curry On My Mind

If you've ever spent much time in New Mexico you'd know that green chiles find there way into just about everything. Pizza, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, eggs, apple pie... you get the idea. Unfortunately for this blog, my latest stock of chiles suffered the same fate, and my aforementioned mentioned Thai rellenos will have to wait. In the meantime, I took the time to focus on the curry itself, a simple and popular pineapple chicken version.

The term curry appplies to various of dishes from a number of locales including the Caribbean, Ethiopia, South Africa, England and just about any country in Asia. More popular versions include traditional Indian curries, creamier English curries and the sweeter Thai curry. Thai curries consist of green and red curries (based on the color of the pepper) as well as yellow curry, similar to Indian curry and usually containing potatoes.

Some scientists believe that curries can be both addictive and good for the aging brain. So it may be a little bit of a stretch to envision a curry addict curled up in ball in a dark alley with dried curry spilled on his clothes, but it is an experience eating curry. The melding of spiciness and sweetness when combined apppropriately can create a dish like none other. Let the curry bender begin.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Great Fried Pickle Experiment

Yup, fried pickles. Having been mildly dissatisfied with the chile relleno batter I decided to experiment with novel batters. With green chile supply low, I decided to use something similar in weight and moisture....pickles! Having already used an all egg batter for the rellenos I wanted a bit more structure so I decided on the following four trials: unsweetened pancake batter, pancake/egg batter mix, tempura batter and tempura with panko for structure. While both tempura batters resulted in a nice crust, their texture may have been better suited for other flavors. I chose the pancake/egg mix for the rellenos and the pancake batter for the pickles. Surprisingly, the pickles which are commonly found in southern U.S. bars as appetizers, are nice when dipped in ranch. Then again, a fried sock would taste good dipped in ranch as well.

Rellenos 101

After following my own link to the Hatch green chile web-site, I quickly realized that fresh green chiles are currently difficult to come by. This is due to massive summer and fall flooding in southern New Mexico. Fortunately, the majority of my family is still in New Mexico and a quick call to my grandmother resulted in the procurement of the twelve lovely green chiles seen here. However, while the NM green chile is best suited for this, many varieties of peppers can be used including poblano, jalapeno, anaheim and if you enjoy the occasional stomach ulcer even the habanero pepper is suitable. Canned whole chiles are also suitable, though they lose a great deal of the texture and flavor of a fresh roasted chile.

As this was to be my first organized attempt at relleno making I decided to keep it simple and start with the basic, traditional cheese stuffed chile. In order to aid the reader I did a comprehensive search (ahem, Wikipedia) and chose to use the linked recipe with some minor adjustments. I found the instructions to be clear and they produced a light egg batter to accompany the smoky flavor of the chile. The tweaked version of the recipe can be found on the recipe version of this blog.

A cautionary note: if the egg whites are not beaten long enough to establish structure they will only form a loose foam. When exposed to the high temperature of the oil, the small air structures in the foam will become large air structures resulting in a messy, oily relleno. In addition, because of the simplicity of this dish, two things that should be mentioned are the need for a more flavorful cheese as well as a proper sauce to accompany the rellenos. I hope to address these matters in a subsequent blog.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Taste of Home

A freshly made sandwich from the family owned deli, a creatively dished opus from the local celebrity chef and a mouthwatering burrito from the corner taqueria all have something in common. They can't hold water next to my grandmother's chile rellenos. By matter of simplicity, the comfort and satisfaction they bring to me just can't be compared. In this first edition of BCEE, I'd like to focus on the relleno in it's many glorious forms.

The traditional restaurant chile relleno is a chile pepper, stuffed and subsequently fried. Specifically, the traditional New Mexican relleno is a New Mexico chile pepper stuffed with queso fresco cheese and fried in a golden corn meal batter. As a result of it's ubiquity, I've witnessed it wrapped in a burrito served with horchata, stuffed with shrimp and cream cheese, served alongside sushi and even in the midwest as a jalapeno popper. My grandma's version is a New Mexico chile stuffed with ground beef and mild cheddar cheese, fried.

The three forms I intend to experiment with are the following: the Restaurant (traditional), the Abuelita (my grandma's) and the BCEE original Thai relleno.