Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kitchen Comeback Update 1

Now that I am cooking from scratch again, I am actively seeking out things I miss from my youth.  In July I made the meatloaf recipe I grew up with. In July I also finally made Filipino adobo, although it was chicken not pork like I had planned in May.  Filipino adobo was my signature dish back pre-old life.  I had not made it in over a decade.  The last time I made it, I struggled because I used old white vinegar that had become more potent sitting around.  This time I used rice wine vinegar.  I was extremely proud of the results.  In September I finally made Filipino pork adobo.  My version is not traditional.  I cut the meat in bite size pieces and thicken the sauce to gravy consistency.  I also tend to simmer the meat from 45 minutes to an hour, for more tender meat.

                                   Hawaiian chicken teriyaki

In August, I made Filipino chicken pancit with mung bean threads for the first time.  I was happily surprise with how well the first attempt went.  I learned a few things, especially since this was the first time I used mung bean thread noodles. In June and August I made my maternal grandmother’s zucchini casserole. Each attempt leads to me perfecting things.  In May I used a microwave and in August I baked it.  I need to cook it longer and beat the eggs better in the next attempt.  For the first time using a new cooking method, things went well.  Another old favorite that I cooked as a youth I revisited in August was homemade taco meat.  I made ground turkey tacos; this was my first time using ground turkey. They came out very good, so good I ditched the plan for ground turkey steaks for another batch.  August I was shown how to make my mom’s pot of beans, this time we use smoked pork shank.  I learned a wonderful trick to thickening the beans take the vegetables and puree them, then add them back to the cooking liquid.  It came out wonderful.  I made it again by myself and mom gave it her seal of approval.

                          Hawaiian chicken teriyaki with rice

A Facebook friend noticed that my dishes are extremely eclectic with ethnic origins.  Part of that is growing up in an ethnically diverse family and in an ethically diverse town in Southern California.  I have cooked dishes from or inspired by the following cuisines: Mexican, Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, Indonesian, Filipino, Greek, Middle Eastern, Thai, Russian, Cuban, Spanish, Irish, classic American, Indian (as in India), Hawaiian, Portuguese, Polish, German, Cajun, and Creole.

                                            Pork chile verde

One of the growing pains is not having some equipment.  When I ended my old life in December of 2011, I left all my cooking utensils and equipment. I work my way around that stuff.  My mother has been gifting me equipment almost every gift giving occasion she can.  I have a few kitchen appliances I have no clue to use.  I also have a few that are a godsend.  My Vitamix and my microwave rice cooker are wonderful.  Originally I was going to make sorbets with my Vitamix, but I really enjoy the yogurt fruit smoothies I have been making instead.  Since I do not have a whisk the Vitamix at low has been doing the job for eggs.  I started doing this after the fact the whites and yolks were not complete mixed in August’s version of Grandma’s zucchini casserole.

                                         Pork chile verde

In August I finally had a culinary stumble.  I made Hawaiian chicken Teriyaki.  I found the version I made too sweet, almost cloyingly.  The plan is to add more soy sauce and reduce the honey and the pineapple juice.  Enough honey and pineapple juice will be in it for flavor, but not to be the overpowering.  I am not sure the overly sweet flavor profile was from too much honey, too much pineapple juice, or both.  I did learn that honey as a sugar substitute is not 1 for one but 2/3rds to 1. This was bigger than something that needed tweaking.  This was making the dish something I was not happy with.  In September I made Greek spanakopita, and the phylo dough seemed burnt to me.  My family thought it was wonderful.

                             Beans with smoked pork shank

One of the things I missed about cooking was cooking on the fly.  In May, I had planned Filipino pork adobo, but ended up making slow cooked pork in barbeque sauce.  In August, I had left over stuffing (Mexican chorizo, onions and cheese mixture) from the stuffed Anaheim peppers.  I had a few small potatoes and a few eggs.  I threw all of those together and ate with salsa and steamed corn tortillas.   Also in August I had planned vinaigrette marinated chicken with mashed cauliflower.   I still had leftover vinegar based coleslaw and felt more vinegar based dishes was overload. I used the left over Madras curry paste and made Madras chicken with jasmine rice.  Taking one dish and adapting it to different ingredients is fun.  It keeps excitement in cooking for me. 

                              Spanakopita with tzatziki

I had originally in August planned on making a turkey ham and cheese scramble with onions, eggs, turkey ham and cheese.  I ended up making several different dishes with it: turkey ham and eggs with hash browns, and turkey ham with corn and mashed potatoes.  I had originally planned to make a version of lasagna with zucchini and summer squash as noodles with spinach, but I have used spinach in spanakopita.  It seemed like too much of one thing.  I decided I would use mushrooms instead of spinach, which works better as a meat substitute.

                                   Filipino pork adobo

Getting back to cooking has done wonders for me.  I get to experiment with flavors, cuisines and techniques. It fills a creative void I have had for years. I did not know I missed it.  It is one thing I plan on never giving up again.  When I left the old life, a dream I had was possibly to my own food cart or truck.  In recovering my passion for cooking I want that even more.  I am going to work to get more cooking tools to make that possible. I have a few recipe ideas I need to play with, three dishes and a condiment.

Here are the past Menus:

May 2015

Chile relleno casserole, sopa de lima (Yucatan chicken and lime soup), jalapeño jelly slow cooked pork tacos, Carroll Shelby’s chili con carne using stew meat (with beans, corn, tomatoes, and Ortega chiles), Zatarain’s dirty rice, slow cooked pork in barbecue sauce with mashed potatoes and corn, Mexican chorizo and eggs, Greek tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, garlic and dill sauce), roasted garlic hummus (Middle Eastern garbanzo beans/chickpeas pureed with roasted garlic, lemon juice, tahini{sesame seed paste}, olive oil, paprika), salsa, guacamole, olive oil baked tortilla chips, sandwiches and bratwursts with mashed potatoes.


June 2015

Thai Lemongrass and chicken soup, grandma’s zucchini casserole, Zatarain’s Black beans and rice with linguiça sausage, Cuban mojo sauce marinated roasted pork in mojo sauce with Zatarain’s Caribbean rice, Russian style beef Stroganoff with rice, hamburger steaks with mashed potatoes, Polska kielbasa scramble with hash browns and onions, Indonesian sweet pork with rice, tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus, salsa, guacamole, olive oil baked tortillas chips, and sandwiches.


July 2015

Zatarain’s red bean and rice with andouille sausage, Filipino chicken adobo with rice, tortilla Española (Spanish tortilla: an omelet of eggs, slice red potatoes and onions), Carroll Shelby’s chili con carne  using ground beef (with beans, corn, tomatoes, and Ortega chiles), California scramble (eggs, onions, mild green chiles, Spanish chorizo with avocado and salsa as garnishes), Quaker oats meatloaf with Irish colcannon (mashed potatoes with leeks and kale), Dublin Coddle (potatoes, onions, ham , parsley, Irish sausage, and nutmeg), Tamale pie (corn bread type dish with tomatoes, green chiles, olives and onions, garnished with cheese and enchilada sauce), tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus, salsa, guacamole, and olive oil baked tortillas chips.


August 2015

Indian Madras beef curry with Basmati rice, Filipino chicken pancit with mung bean thread noodles, turkey ham with hash browns and eggs, turkey ham with mashed potatoes, stuffed Anaheim peppers (stuffed with Mexican chorizo, cheese and onion garnished with enchilada sauce and cheese), Mexican chorizo and eggs with hash browns, onions and cheese garnished with enchilada sauce, Hawaiian chicken teriyaki, Mexican pork chile verde with refried black beans and homemade red rice (AKA Spanish/ Mexican rice),  ground turkey tacos with vinegar based coleslaw, Indian Madras chicken curry with jasmine rice, beans with smoked pork shank, tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus, salsa, guacamole, and olive oil baked tortilla chips.


September 2015

Chile relleno casserole, beans with smoked pork shank, salsa, tzatziki sauce, Zatarain’s dirty brown rice with ground turkey (diced tomatoes, corn, mild green chiles, roasted garlic and sweet onion added), Greek spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese pie in phylo dough) with Greek tzatziki sauce, Filipino pork adobo with jasmine rice, and Carroll Shelby’s Guilt-Free turkey chili (with beans, corn, tomatoes, and Ortega chiles).

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