When I was interviewed by Tinned Tomatoes, she asked whether I would ever blog about a “dish gone disastrously wrong”. The answer was Yes…and here it is, along with my conclusions about slow cooking. Also stick around to the very end for a shout-out olé to Goya and Badia products.
It all started when I spotted a crock pot that wasn’t being used in one of my mother’s cabinets. I had been thinking about slow cooking for a while (since I started this blog I’ve been thinking about nothing else but cooking) so I immediately took possession of it. To reference how small this particular cooker is…that’s an 8 oz water glass next to it. I imagine there’s a Barbie somewhere who is looking for her first kitchen appliance.
Experiment #1: Arroz con Pollo (chicken & rice)
These are the ingredients in the order they went in:
1 tomato chopped
1 red pimento
1 well-seasoned chicken leg and thigh
1/2 cup short-grained Valencia rice
1 cup chicken broth mixed with 1 packet Sázon with achiote
2 teaspoons chopped chorizo
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon stuffed olives
Even though most recipes called for 8-10 hours, I knew this was done way before that time — basically because I peeked and the rice looked like it could hold up wallpaper!
Conclusion: The flavor was delicious but that’s only because I put good ingredients in the pot — but I would never serve it to dinner guests or myself (again). Sadly, the chorizo had all it’s flavor sucked out of it and was tasteless, but the real problem was the rice. I suspect it was my fault for using short-grained which I generally find trickier than the long-grained variety even when I do it on the stove top. THUMBS DOWN.
Experiment #2: Pork Chops Encebollada con Pimientas al Estilo Fricassee (Pork Chops and Onions in a delicious sauce)
This is a combination of 2 dishes popular in Puerto Rican and Cuban cultures. Seemed like the perfect dish for my second Slow Cooker experiment.
2 center cut pork chops
1 sweet onion sliced in rings
4 dried prunes
stuffed olives & capers with a splash of their juices
mini Sweet Pepper (or substitute rings of green pepper)
1 small can Goya Spanish Style tomato sauce
1 package of Goya Sazón
splash of Naranja Agria (bitter orange juice found in Latin section of supermarket)
Mojo Madness dry – this is a Caribbean citrus seasoning that I found in the supermarket and have been enjoying but any adobo style seasoning will do.
The method and order they went in the crock pot: A drizzle of olive oil on the bottom, pork chop that had been seasoned with Mojo Madness, layer a bed of sliced onion rings, second pork chop, layer of onion. Add peppers, prunes, olives, capers, can of tomato sauce, packet of Sázon and a splash of Naranja Agria.
Conclusion: I don’t understand the merits of slow cooking. I could have accomplished the same thing (twice!) on the stove in under an hour and I think it would have tasted better. I’m so ’over’ slow cooking.
Anyone care to share their slow cooker experiences?
Si es Goya tiene que ser buena…y Badia tambien.
I don’t know about other markets but if you live on the East Coast of the U.S. anywhere from North to South, you know the above marketing refrain…”if it’s Goya, it has to be good”. Goya dominates the Latin food products market. While I don’t cook Latin with any great frequency because it’s not calorie-friendly, for some reason experimenting in slow cooking brought me immediately to comidas criollas. In preparing 2 Latin-inspired dishes, almost back-to-back, I was struck every time I went into my pantry by just how many Goya and Badia Spice products I actually have on-hand at any given time.
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…I passed through the kitchen and catered my own recovery. Being the foodie that I am, when faced with a scheduled procedure called anterior cervical disectomy & fusion (herniated neck disc/implant), I wanted to be sure my kitchen was adequately stocked with comfort food for my recuperation.
So last week I made soup. I had some leftover grilled asparagus from dinner but no cream to make a cream of asparagus soup. Instead, I blended the stalks (reserving the tips) with chicken broth, threw in a splash of sherry and, because I didn’t have cream, I added a few teaspoons of a far-too-expensive-for-soup French cheese (Brillat Savarin). It definitely added a rich but light level of flavor.Then I whipped up escarole soup, one of my faves and very simple. Saute a little garlic, a chopped carrot, and head of cut up escarole, and cook in chicken stock. I also made little turkey meatballs studded with garlic, parmesan, basil and breadcrumbs to float deliciously in it (just in case I was feeling well enough to chew and swallow).
And, then, thanks to new friends I made in the food blogging community, I adapted some of your recipes.
Peter at Kalofogas showed me that you didn’t need an ice cream machine to ‘make’ ice cream…and I figured that would slide down a sore throat very easily. I’m not crazy about full-fat ice cream, so I purchased a tub of Lowfat Frozen Vanilla Yogurt and Fat Free Cool Whip and started experimenting. Watching calories, I only scooped out a couple of small spoonfuls of each and then started folding and connocting: Expresso Cinnamon (a teaspoon of coffee grinds and cinnamon folded into mixture) topped with a chocolate covered expresso bean. The somewhat gritty texture made this my favorite.
And then I tried Maraschino Cherry (same blend with a little of the juice from the jar and a few dark chocolate shavings).Honey-Walnut was the same blending of frozen yogurt and cool whip with a drizzle of honey and toasted walnuts and a quick grind of black pepper.
And while it was my intention to also cook up Fuji Mama’s recently posted pumpkin mac n’ cheese, I didn’t have the ingredients and was running out of time. I was really counting on the “excuse” of recovery to make this dish for which I normally would have to reach deep to justify the calories and fat content. It was going to make me feel better! (I’ll just have to think of another excuse at a later date.) But I did know pasta was one of ‘soft’ foods that would work well so I made a pesto pasta. (I always have those ingredients on hand.)
And, of course, before heading out the door, I checked the wine rack inventory.
Postscript and truth in disclosure: The surgery went well but soup was out of the question for the first couple of days (no hot food). I survived on eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, and canned fruit! But I’m feeling better now and ready to eat without restriction…which means to cook and blog freely. Thanks for your good wishes.
No lie, I’ve been lusting after this “E” award ever since I started seeing it passed around the blogosphere so imagine my delight when Gloria from Cookbook Cuisine gave me one! Gloria is not only an excellent chef with a Southwestern flair (ole!), she is a prolific writer and a very generous blogger always looking to promote and support her sister/fellow bloggers. So in that tradition, I decided to pass the E Award on to a few bloggers who I don’t see frequently in the commenting circle, but who nonetheless deserve a shout out for excellent blogging in the food arena. I poked around my RSS list and came up with following blogs who are doing an excellent job and have thus far gone un-awarded.
Last Night’s Dinner
: This is one of my favorite blogs for everything a blog should be…very stylish, great food and fab photography. I can’t believe they haven’t been tapped for awards but I don’t see any noted on the blog. Perhaps it’s a style decision.
Eating in Translation
: This is specialized blog all about eating out (ethnically) in New York City. Since the blog’s launch in 2005, the writer has eaten in and blogged about over 2000 places. Even if you don’t live in NY, you can learn about all different types of cuisines from his several-times-a-week posts.
: The name of this blog belies the interesting recipes you’ll find here. Christine features Asian and Western recipes and specializes in the food of her Chinese culture. I particularly love her (cheese-covered) Baked Pork Chops with Rice
: I just came across this blog recently and it’s already become one of my favorites. Layla presents beautiful food with a South American flair in a very stylish blog.
Strictly Fine Dining
: And for creative presentation, I have give an E Award to this sous chef from Hampshire, England. Take a look at some of his presentations for a little creative inspiration.
Chronicles of a Fledgling Home Cook
: Christine has some really good recipes from Korean style beef ribs to fish tacos. I notice she hasn’t posted recently but I’m hoping this award and a little love from you all will bring her back out again.
To award recipients, this is a ‘pay-it-forward’ award. Hopefully, you’ll bestow it on some of your favorite blogs.
Eggs are a great source of protein and there’s an infinite variety of ways to serve them up. And what better way to beat the economy blues than with 12 different meals made from a simple dozen eggs? Since I’m big on incorporating fresh vegetables into as many meals as I can, when I make eggs, even for breakfast, I first think about what vegetables I can pair them with. Tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, herbs and peppers are my ‘go-to’ veggies because I usually have them on hand. Then it’s how can I combine them in an interesting and non-eggs over easy Joe’s Diner style (sorry Joe) – a sprinkle of parmesan, a spoonful of ricotta or pesto, a dash of hot sauce? Feeling carnivorous? Try some crumbled bacon, chorizo, ham or sausage? Next step is bread of some sort…toast (pan de tomate-my new favorite from Barcelona), tortilla wrap, puff pastry shell, crepe or tostada?
Eggs Florentine Pastry Cups: sauteed spinach,
sun-dried tomatoes, bacon bits, fried egg.
Breakfast in Cup: Oatmeal & Parmesan Crusted (top & bottom),
beaten eggs, sauteed spinach, ricotta baked 25 minutes.
A Caballo (on horseback): Fried egg over white rice
& black beans with chorizo.
Italian Cheese Omelet: ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan,
Salsa Eggs: Fried egg with fresh salsa on a tostada.Another version of Eggs Florentine: on a pizzette
(rosemary & salted flatbread).Tortilla Espanol (potato omelet)
La Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain.Chiliquiles: scrambled eggs cooked
with tortilla chips, cheese and tomatoes.
Eggs Remoulade: Hard boiled eggs with sauce of
Remoulade Mustard, Pimento, Olive Oil & Capers.
Lemon Egg Pancake made with lemon zest,
rolled around grilled asparagus & topped with soft cheese sauce
That’s it for breakfast. Hope you got inspired. Have a nice day -– and please come back for lunch!
Note: All the dishes were prepared at home, with the exception of tortilla Espanol which I photographed in Barcelona.
This time Gloria at Cookbook Cuisine was kind enough to include FOODalogue in her Featured Foodie series. I’m very grateful to all you foodies out there for your interest and support. This has become a very rewarding experience. Please click here to see her very nice review. Thanks, again, Gloria.
And, then I got an award from Theresa over at Mexican-American Border Cooking. The food-blogging community is so generous in their support of each other. I’m in awe.
Jenn, better known as The Leftover Queen among food bloggers, hosts a monthly challenge to inspire the foodies out there to come up with a dish incorporating 3 random ingredients (picked by the winner of the month before). Here’s my first entry for the current challenge.
Orange-Essence Acorn Squash
with Moroccan-Inspired Ground Turkey & Couscous
Ingredients: acorn squash, honey, freshly squeezed orange juice with pulp, olive oil, S&P; ground turkey, parsley, sage, fresh fennel plus fennel seed, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, toasted walnuts, orange-essence prunes; whole wheat couscous.
Cut squash in rings, reserving ends, and brush rings with a mixture of olive oil, orange juice, honey, S&P and cinnamon. Bake till tender.
Mix ground turkey with S&P, parsley, sage, fennel seed, cumin, allspice, nutmeg and garlic. Chop the reserved squash and some fresh fennel and saute till tender, fold in ground turkey mix and cook till done, adding prunes and toasted walnuts towards end.
Cook couscous separately and plate. Add squash ring and then turkey mixture in center. Grate some orange zest on top, think of the Casbah and enjoy!
One day I read about an Adopt-A-Blogger event hosted by Kristin of Dine & Dish and immediately thought it would be a fun thing to do. The goal is to introduce and pair up experienced (that would be Holler) and newbie (that would be me) food bloggers with the purpose of nurturing, learning, and cross-promotion.
And so it is how I got to meet Holler who resides in Scotland, surrounded by hills and castles. Though we’ve only spoken by email, I just know she’s got a lovely Scottish lilt to her voice.
On the personal side, Holler is a trained artist who studied graphic design and printed textile design though she says that pursuit has been relegated to leisure time these days. She and her husband, Graham, have just celebrated one year of wedded bliss, are both vegetarians and enjoy holidays in Cyprus, Turkey and Gran Canaria.
The ‘foodie’ scene in her area is limited. There are about 14 supermarkets that she knows of, but specialty food stores are scarce and most folks are not as food-obsessed as Holler and her U.S. counterparts. She doesn’t get the Food Network or Top Chef, but she told me about a show called Come Dine With Me where 5 strangers are brought together to throw dinner parties for each other in their homes and at the end of the evening, the guests give the host’s food and hospitality a score. Sounds like a fun experience.
In addition, Holler co-hosts a blog event with Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen called No Croutons Required which sponsors a soup and salad challenge. She says the last round-up called for soups or salads including fruit and there were some fabulous entries.
And ‘the verbatim’ in response to the rest of my questions:
What is the national dish of Scotland? Your area?
“Neeps and tatties [huh?], veggie Scotch eggs [looks delicious], Haggis, Cranachan, Clootie Dumpling [huh? huh? huh?], Scones, Oatcakes, Tablet and some of the most delicious cheeses such as Cheddar, Crowdie, Caboc, Strathdon Blue, Strathkinness and Bishop Kennedy.”
Do you have any suggestions for someone who is considering becoming a vegetarian?
Do you have suggestions for new bloggers?
“I would say to new bloggers, just have fun! Don’t worry about how little you feel you know, you will learn so much, so quickly, and most bloggers are happy to give a helping hand if you are stuck. Visit blogs you like, leave a thoughtful comment and you will soon have lots of new friends and be part of the most fantastic community.” [Amen!]
Have you ever been to the U.S.?
“No…I would like to go, but I don’t think I will be visiting soon unless I win the pools!”
To which I reply:
You certainly wouldn’t have to spend $$$ on meals. You’ve made so many foodie friends who I’m sure would be happy to host a dinner (vegetarian, of course) for you in your travels. You could start in South Florida!
Click here for Holler’s post about me and foodalogue.
I just love it!
From “Today’s Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen”, displayed with special permission. For more cartoons, please visit Randy’s site www.glasbergen.com.
You may have read my comment about Cuba in my Meandering Meals
piece earlier this month, so you know when I read Bren’s post it struck a personal note and I wanted to share it for everyone’s edification and consideration.
I thought this article particularly timely because in this land of abundance, many of us have been hysterical over the past few weeks about the state of the stock market and the prospect of having to tighten our belts as we wait for the economy to rebound. Let us not forget how blessed we are to have the resources to resolve the problems we do have. That puts things in perspective. Don’t forget to vote on November 4th!