Monthly Archives: July 2009

fresh lady creamer peas

 

creamer peas-finished

at the risk of sounding unpopular, sometimes due to the extreme heat, crushing crowds, and added expense of it all, i just have to take time off from the farmer’s market. don’t get me wrong, i love to support local growers, organic or otherwise (you’d be hard-pressed to find any farmer’s at the market who use chemicals or sprays, anyhow), but i am not a competitive person by nature, so sometimes all the nudging to get at the best tomatoes, peaches, and eggs can get a bit much for me. but after a break from it a few weeks back, i come with new eyes and spot some fresh lady creamer peas. this is exactly the type of thing that makes each farmer’s market unique: the distinct nature of the local produce. this, of course, begged the question: what to do with them? after poking around online and coming up with with virtually nothing about this very specific item, i had my suspicions about where to turn for assistance, robb walsh‘s ‘the texas cowboy cookbook’. robb has become an expert in regional cooking, including cowboy and tex-mex cooking styles, real texas barbeque, texas gulf specialties (like oysters, etc), you name it. if you love anything texas, these books are for you.

creamer peas -book

these  peas, which are interchangeable with any fresh field peas such as black eyed or purple hull peas in their cooking style, are a cinch to make and compliment a great texas summer meal. we had ours with grilled pork loin and summer squash, and cornbread.

creamer peas

fresh lady creamer peas (serves 4-6 as a side dish)

1 pound shelled lady creamer, black -eyed, purple hull peas (about 3 cups)

2-3 slices bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups stock (preferably homemade chicken or veggie)

salt & pepper

hot pepper sauce of your choice (i prefer cholula, the best hot sauce on earth, that’s just me)

rinse and drain peas. in a large skillet over low-medium heat add bacon to pan. remember you are rendering the fat from the bacon. it’s important to cook it on the slow side, otherwise you end up with most of the fat still clinging to the meat of the bacon instead on as liquid in the pan. when bacon is crisp, remove meaty pieces and set aside to drain on paper toweling. alternatively, you can leave them in the pan, but since i prefer my bacon a bit crisp, not limp, i take it out and add it back in at the end of cooking. add diced onion and cook until softened and translucent. add stock and peas. bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer peas until desired tenderness, about 15-20 minutes, checking liquid level and adding more stock (or water) as necessary. i like them a little firm, but this is not the usual texan way. add bacon back in (if removed) and season with salt & pepper. serve with a little pot likker (some of the cooking liquid, i know it’s not greens but, hey…it’s good), hot sauce, and corn bread to sop it all up.

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Filed under bacon, beans, side dish

tortilla espanola

 

tortilla 5

when i was 10 years old my mom asked us, her 3 children, if we would like to go to europe. for a year. like to live there. yes, please! and so we did. true story. we bought a VW van in amsterdam (refer back to the whole cosmic part of my moniker), had it decked out to live in and were on our way to camp europe. when you think about it most of europe is located on a latitude that falls on the cool side when it comes to camping, with the exception of summer.  we ended up  spending most of our time in sunny southern spain. eating this.

most of you probably don’t have memories of pleading with your mother to head up to the bar for a drinky-poo. but we did. it was the only way to get a slice of tortilla espanola (free with a glass of wine!). this was our introduction to tapas back in 1975. mom did her best, but she wasn’t (and still isn’t) much of a drinker. so we just had to learn how to make it ourselves. my sister and i still make these on a regular basis. this was probably one of the first things i ever learned how to cook completely on my own, tollhouse cookies and biscuits from a can, aside.

eggs

look at these beautiful eggs from vital farms. they are from araucana hens, i believe. they are the ones that produce the blue-green eggs.

tortilla 3

mmm…lemony, super yellow yolks. commercial eggs ain’t got nothin’ on these.

tortilla 4

you can play with the ingredients a bit. i chopped up some salami i had on hand. like an omelette, you can add just a few handfuls of veggies or meat to liven things up. traditionally in spain, these are sweet red pepper, chorizo, maybe a few sliced mushrooms. but the egg and potato really should remain in leading roles. this is a peasant dish, after all.

tortilla final

tortilla espanola (serves 6-8 as an appetizer)

this is a very fluid recipe, meaning that the amounts may be slightly different for you, depending on the size of your potatoes, eggs, even your pan. the mixture should look roughly like the picture of raw eggs and potatoes in the bowl above before you put in in the pan for the final step. don’t let the amount of oil used in the recipe scare you away. the potatoes should gently fry, but also boil in the oil, then most it is drained off.

4-5 medium sized potatoes  sliced to 1/8″ thickness, then cut slices in half or quarters (i prefer yukon golds, russets will also work)

1 small spanish onion, sliced thinly

5-6 farm fresh eggs

3/4 cup olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

heat olive oil in non-stick 7-8″ skillet over medium heat. add sliced potatoes and a generous pinch of salt and cook until potatoes are tender and appear blistered. you are not trying to brown them, but it’s okay if the edges are slightly browned. remove with slotted spoon and place in a colander. whisk eggs in a large bowl and add salt and freshly ground pepper. add  potatoes (and any other veggies or bits of meat you are using) and combine mixture. pour off all but 1 tbsp of olive oil from pan into a measuring cup and reserve. heat oil in pan over medium high heat, then add potato/egg mixture. allow to set for a minute or so, then slide pan around a few times while cooking to be sure it doesn’t stick. i will sometimes tilt the pan to allow egg to run underneath tortilla if i feel it is very soupy. cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then place an inverted plate on top of pan. quickly invert pan so tortilla is on plate, uncooked side down. then slide tortilla back into pan and add an additional tbsp of reserved olive oil. turn heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until bottom is slightly browned and tortilla is cooked through. you will have to trust your instincts on this as you will not be able to see inside the tortilla. if i have my doubts, at the end of the cooking time, i place an inverted plate or lid on the pan, turn off the flame and allow it to steam for a few minutes. flip tortilla on a plate, allow to rest for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

this is best served warm or at room temperature. around our house, we eat this over the course of  a day or so. it is also great as a light dinner with a green salad and a glass of white rioja. just store in the fridge and remove at least 20-30 minutes before serving.

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Filed under appetizer, main dish

viva ribapalooza!

 

ribapalooza-score cards2

this past weekend saw another  instillation of ‘ribapalooza’ at our house. this was the 5th annual. and the hottest (i believe it was officially “the hottest july 4th on record” per our friendly weatherman, at 105 degrees!). ribapalooza is best described as a rib contest without any real rules, save that your entry must be ribs of some sort (a few years back our friend michael entered ‘fish ribs’!) and you must have them ready for 4pm judging, give or take. this year’s entries included st. louis, baby back and beef ribs with all manner of preparation methods represented: roasted, barbecued, smoked, etc. there were glazes made with soda, cherry sauces, jalapeno-honey lacquers and much, much more.

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each entrant places as many of his or her ribs as there are judges into a nondescript container that is given a number. each entry is brought to the judge’s table individually by one of mediators (we don’t really call them that, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?) so they are judged solely on their own merits, not compared with one another. the ribs are judged in four categories: appearance, taste, tenderness/texture, and originality. we’re really getting serious these days, too. we have real-live trophies and a bonafide graphics department makin’ everything look real official (thanks, casey!).

ribapalooza-me & frank

here is the lucky winner from this year, frank mancuso from saint arnold beer. the winning rib recipe was made with, what else, saint arnold root beer (their only non-alcoholic offering). i was lucky enough to take 3rd! there is always plenty of sangria, a keg of saint arnold and plenty of heat on hand.

ribapalooza-sign

frank has generously offered up his award-winning recipe for you, dear readers.

after all, ‘there is no delight in owning anything unshared’, right?

 

Saint Arnold Root Beer Ribs

Ingredients:

 

For the rub:

1/4 cup of salt

1/4 cup of brown sugar

2 1/2 tbs. of black pepper

4 teaspoons of mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons of chipotle powder

1/2 teaspoon of allspice

 

For the glaze:

2 cups of Saint Arnold Root Beer

1 cup of Heinz Chili Sauce (or Ketchup)

1/2 cup of  mustard

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of molasses

2-4 teaspoons of chipotle powder

 

Two racks of St Louis ribs

1/4 cup of Saint Arnold Root Beer

Coat the ribs with the rub, wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

 

Heat the oven to 300 degrees and bring the ribs to room temperature.

 

In a foil-lined large baking or roasting pan, arrange the ribs with the meat side up, pour in 1/4 cup of Saint Arnold Root Beer, cover pan tightly with foil and place in the oven.

 

Meanwhile, place all the glaze ingredients in a pan, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes until thick and syrupy.

 

After an hour and a half, take the ribs out of the oven and spread some of the glaze on each side of the racks. Place back in the oven, meat side up and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

 

After 30 minutes, take out the ribs and spread more glaze over them and cook for 30 more minutes or until ribs are desired tenderness.

 

At this point, take the ribs out of the oven, spread more glaze on them and then cook each side under the broiler for four minutes.

 

Divide and serve!

 

ribapalooza-mac n cheese

 

after some grumbling and some smack talking from our non meat-eating friends, we added a mac ‘n’ cheese competition on the side. congratulations to chris for winning the cheese crown with his very austin-type entry, complete with avocado.

 

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congrats to all the winners and many thanks to all who participated to make ribapalooza V a success.

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Filed under main dish, meat

sangria! (or happy birthday, america!)

sangria2

life has officially gotten in the way of my blog and i am thoroughly dissapointed by it. i swore it would never happen to ME. first, we had a new addition to the family (our niece was born on june 2nd) so an unexpected trip happened, then i got sick (VERY sick for 3-4 days plus the rest of the week to recover), and finally we had to plan and hold the 5th annual ribapalooza, which is a huge rib-cooking contest we hold at our house every 4th of july. so needeless to say, posting has had to take a back seat. it happens to the best of us, i guess.

i meant to post this recipe yesterday, in case any of you wanted to celebrate america’s birthday by making and consuming sangria, but it just didn’t happen. and really, this is something that you will be making all summer long, anyhow. so i figure, no harm, no foul, right? honestly, making sangria is more art than science. and, fortunately for you,  there is a lot of tasting going on when making this. and it is absolutely NEVER the same same twice. it’s kind of exciting how fleeting it is.

sangria1

this time around i used vinho verde, which is a young, very light (in flavor and alcohol content), slightly effervescent wine from portugal. it is available in white or rose. it is often VERY inexpensive and i think it’s nice because of the low alcohol content, especially when drinking outside during the heat of the day. i attribute the fact that i am not the least bit hung over today after consuming 2 or 3  4 or 5 glasses of this over the course of several hours to this fact.

sangria3

sangria (for a crowd)

6 bottles light and fruity wine

1-2 quarts citrus fruit juice, nectar and/or soda (such as ginger ale, grapefruit soda, lemon-lime soda)*

4-6 cups fresh fruit, sliced or chopped

put your prepared fruit in a vessel large enough to accommodate all of your liquid. add wine and refrigerate several hours or overnight. (i reserved a few of the bottles and added them just before serving to preserve some of the effervescence). just before serving, add the rest of your wine and your fruit juices and/or soda. i place the vat of sangria with cups and plenty of ice on the side for people to serve themselves. it is dangerously good.

*taste as you go for your preferred level of sweetness. you could even make a simple syrup (1 part water to 1 part sugar-simmer for a few minutes to dissolve sugar and chill). also, dark sodas (coke or dr. pepper) would really not work here.

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Filed under fruit, Uncategorized