Vlad’s Kebabs

Dearest readers, how have I missed thee.

Apologies for the hiatus. I was too busy to cook the last few weeks, which meant I couldn’t write about cooking.

Our time apart has been well spent, though I did miss all of you. In case you’re curious what kept me, well I was performing in a little play called Othello and I’ve been taking a stand-up comedy class so expect classier jokes in the near future.

My pesky day job is also a thing that keeps me away, but that’s not fun to talk about so I’d rather move on to my next recipe which is chorizo and mushroom kebabs from I Love Spice.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 24 slices of chorizo, each about a half inch thick
  • 24 button mushrooms
  • 1 green bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and cut into 24 squares

Kebabs are the best aren’t they? They don’t require a lot of skill. You just grill some stuff and then stab it with a stake.

I dare say this had to be Vlad the Impaler’s favorite meal to cook.

I must caution you readers, however, that when it comes to chorizo we can’t be all Vlad the Impaler about it. We have to choose wisely and pick the right chorizo. Not every chorizo can be impaled. Mexican chorizo, for example is usually grounded and crumbly which means it is unable to be staked.

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Sorry Vlad, you just can’t impale Mexican chorizo

What we want to buy is Spanish chorizo which usually comes cured and dried aka a solid form of sausage.

My neighborhood Vons did not have Spanish chorizo, but they did have longaniza which google has told me is similar to chorizo and even better is in a solid shape that one can hopefully impale.

Now that we got that important info out of the way, the only step that I need to advise you on is roasting your pepper.

I recommend roasting it in an oven with a pan coated in olive oil under 400 for 20 minutes. When the 20 minutes are up, turn the pepper so it can have an even tan and roast for another 20 minutes.

Once this step is over, remove the pepper from the oven and allow it to cool so you can remove the skin and cut it into 24 squares.

While the peppers are cooling you might as well get started on cooking your chorizo. To do so, get a skillet and coat that in olive oil. Heat the skillet under medium heat and then add the chorizo.

Now if you got dried and cured chorizo, you should only need to cook this for 20 seconds, but if you had to substitute like me, you’ll need to cook for a longer amount of time, because 20 seconds is going to give you a health code violation for sure.

Once your meat is cooked throughly, we can add the mushrooms into the skillet. Cook this for 1-2 minutes. You’ll know the mushrooms are ready when they look slightly brown and are glossy just like Vlad after a hard day of impaling people.

Speaking of Vlad, we are now ready for his favorite part! Making the actual kebab!

All you have to do is impale a bell pepper, followed by a mushroom, and then a kebab.

You can use a toothpick to make this more of an appetizer or get your large stake and make it a meal.

The choice is up to you for your enjoyment.

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So as you may have guessed from the professional photo above, I failed. Turns out that longaniza is not easily impaled. It is more solid than Mexican chorizo, but it fell apart when I tried to stab it.

I will say that this combo is tasty one, so if you find the right chorizo do give it a try. Otherwise I recommend making yourself some chorizo and eggs instead of a kebab.

 

Spicy Ground Pork in Basil Leaves

Good news everyone! I have another winner from The Everything Thai Cookbook! 

I made this with my LA bestie one Sunday afternoon at her home in the deep north of the valleys of Los Angeles.

Conditions were fair that afternoon, so fair that I don’t have any notes of interest about our cooking process. I can only say we both liked this recipe and had fun making it together.

Let’s get straight to the punch then!

What you’ll need

  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1/2 pound of ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tablespoon ground dried chili pepper
  • 5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted rice powder
  • Lettuce and/or large basil leaves

The first step is to squeeze half of the juice of a lime on the pork. Let it marinate in the juices as you slice your shallot and chop your cilantro.

Now get a skillet out and heat it on high. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir in the pork. Cook it completely through then remove the excess fat.

We are now ready to combine everything but the lettuce and basil into a bowel. Do so and  feel free to adjust lime juice to taste.

Once everything has been throughly mixed you will be ready to serve and eat!

The consumption and serving protocol is a lot like chips and salsa only with meat and lettuce. Lettuce being your chips and the pork being the salsa. Both require scooping and placing in your mouth!

As I mentioned earlier, this turned out extremely well. My bestie and I were pleasantly surprised. Even my bestie’s husband liked it and he can be a little picky in comparison to the two of us.

Taste wise it reminds me a lot of Vietnamese noodle bowls only without the noodles. I think this is because both use ground pork, basil, and light fish sauce.

The ground pork gives both dishes a grainy and chewy texture that is complimented with a slight tang from the fish sauce.

All in all I am so pleased to have another win from this cookbook and look forward to the next recipe.

Hope all of you enjoy this as well!

 

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Penne with Angry Sauce

According to Classic Pasta at Home red pepper flakes make pasta sauce angry.

Look Williams – Sonoma, I’m here to tell you the sauce isn’t angry, it’s just talking! And boy does this Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce love to talk!

What you’ll need

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes aka angry flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 pound of ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • salt
  • 1 lb of penne
  • 1/2 cup of grated pecorino cheese

Your first step is to heat some olive oil over medium heat in a nice large saute pan. Then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. The actual cookbook has a see note asterisk for this. This said note is basically letting you know that if you don’t use the full 1/2 teaspoon of flakes then you won’t be like a Roman.

My reaction to this note is represented below,

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I guess Ron and I are just “angry”

A 1/2 teaspoon is not that much sissies! I’d put at least a whole tablespoon.

Ok, I know. I’m being a spice snot. I will get over my spice elitism and advise you to adjust to whatever level you desire. Afterall, I did a ramen spice challenge this past weekend and none of my friends could handle it. One even asked me if I had magical powers.

If that is a power, well you can enlist me in The Mystery Men.

Seriously can someone do that for me?

Once you’ve determined your spice level, saute for about a minute and then add the parsley. Stir that for a few seconds and then add the tomatoes. Kick the burner heat up to medium-high to allow the tomatoes to simmer until they break down. Stir occasionally as you wait for this to happen. In about 15 minutes they should break down into more of a sauce consistency. Feel free to add water to thin out the sauce if necessary and salt to taste as well. Once you feel satisfied with the sauce texture, reduce the heat to low.

We are now ready to cook our pasta. Do so the usual way with boiled water and such. Follow your pasta box instructions for cooking time and when it’s time to drain the water, keep about a 1/4 of a cup for later use.

Combine the pasta and sauce together and toss to allow sauce to cover evenly. Then add the cheese and do the same, adding the reserved water as you toss.

Once the cheese and reserved water has been mixed evenly you are now ready to serve!

Do so by placing each serving in a pasta bowl and then topping with some cheese and parsley like below.

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Angry pasta with crostini

I was quite satisfied with the results of my angry pasta. It was simple, fresh, and “angry.”

Normally I love thinner and longer pastas like linguine, but the chunky tomatoes added to the texture of the penne making it juicy with just the right amount of chewiness. Also, there’s something about how the parsley and cheese fall into the grooves of the penne that make it bellisimo.

If you enjoy a little kick to your meals and want an easy, light pasta meal then this angry little pasta is your man!

Spareribs with Paprika Sauce

“Hey brother can you spear a rib?”

“Yes I can! Put that rib on a spit, light it up and call it a…  ribbesper/sparerib?”

I was so close to making a catchy song, but the name of the dish just isn’t working. Whether you go with the German origin of ribbesper or our modern sparerib terminology.

I’ll just have to visit this later and figure it out.

Stay tuned on that coming attraction and now enjoy the main attraction provided to you by I Love Spice.

What you’ll need.

  • Spanish olive oil (it’s ok to use regular fyi)
  • 2 lb 12 oz pork spareribs
  • 1/3 cup of dry Spanish Sherry
  • 5 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • salt

You may have noticed a Spanish theme in the ingredients. I say ignore that if you already have an equivalent of those ingredients. I do believe regional ingredients differ from the other, but I also know a dish can turn out well even if it’s not a 100% accurate recipe wise. Spoiler alert that I didn’t have all Spanish ingredients and this turned out well.

Our first step is to preheat the oven to 425 and grease a pan big enough for your ribs.

Not your personal ribs, but the ones you bought for this dish. Although, a pan big enough for your personal ribs would work in this case.

The next step is to either cut the ribs into individual ribs or be resourceful like me and buy them cut that way already. I recommended being resourceful unless you’re planning on becoming a professional chef. Even then, though, asking for help from a pro butcher doesn’t seem shameful to me.

After you’ve weighed those decisions down move on and place them in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

While roasting you can make the sauce by combining sherry, paprika, garlic, oregano, water, and salt together.

When the 20 minutes are up on the ribs, reduce the temperature to good ole 350. As you do so, examine the ribs for fat residue. I’d be surprise if there was none, but you’ll want to pour out that fat residue because we are now ready to coat the ribs with our sauce.

Do make sure to coat each side, but reserve some sauce as well because basting is required in this cooking process.

Roast under 350 for 45 minutes and about halfway through is when you’ll need to baste. Again, don’t use up all your sauce because this will essentially become your bbq sauce as well.

Once the ribs are cooked, the final step is to boil your leftover sauce. Once boiled, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow that to cook until the sauce has been reduced to half. Once reduced pour over the ribs and enjoy!

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Realize I could have cleaned the plate up a bit, but ribs are messy and so is life. Deal with it.

This turned out nicely for me! Despite the sauce it came off as almost a dry rub in taste. Which was not a disappointment in the slightest. I am a huge sauce lover when it comes to all foods, but dry rubs are flavorful and give an earthy tasteful coat without taking away from the natural, chewy juiciness of the meat.

As I mentioned it turned out well despite the fact I didn’t use all Spanish ingredients, but I’d like to make this again with all things Spanish to see if it’s even better that way.

I’m sure it’ll be enjoyable as well and hope those of you reading this try this out!

 

 

Spicy Scallops

I am pleased to announce that I finally made something from The Everything Thai Cookbook that I actually liked.

Prepare your trumpets and your drumrolls,  cause that recipe is…. Spicy Scallops!!!

*The author of this cookbook recognizes that her food tastes are not refined enough to appreciate some of the previous recipes she has cooked in this book. She means no offense to Thai cuisine or people. She enjoys meals she’s had at Thai restaurants and recognizes that the issue lies with her and possibly her cooking skills.

What you’ll need

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeno minced
  • 1 (1/2 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 8 large scallops

The first step is to prepare your sauté pan by placing that veggie oil in it and heating it up. Even food needs some foreplay guys. That is purposely directed towards guys in case you’re wondering as well.

Add the garlic, jalapeno, and ginger to your hot oil and cook for about a minute.

Next add the coriander, soy sauce, and water. Stir it together and allow it to simmer for about 2-3 minutes.

Once cooked, strain the liquid and set aside for later.

Add the scallops once the pan has cooled for a bit and drizzle the strained sauce on top. Increase the heat to medium-high and cover the pan with a little bit of wiggle room for steam to escape. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.

At this point your scallops should be ready to eat!

 

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Mmmm…spicy scallops

The final result is Thai restaurant quality. That’s saying something, becasue I like scallops, but am not a die hard fan. This recipe almost made me one.

The sauce is simple, with a bit of that salty bitter soy sauce taste, but it just glazes over those scallops and makes you want to slurp every last bite.

I think this soy, ginger, and jalapeno combo would make a great marinade for other meats as well. I look forward to making this again and hopefully you will too.

Homemade Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa are a favorite eating pastime of mine. I’ve known how to make my own salsa for a few years now, but this was my first attempt to make my own chips.

The greatest news about this chip making recipe is that it comes from the Light and Healthy Cookbook, so you can feel a little less guilty about eating a giant bowl of chips and salsa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Not that I ever do that or anything.

What you’ll need for the salsa

  • 2 pounds of ripe tomatoes (5-6 medium), cored, seeded, and chopped medium
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup of minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder

What you need for the chips

  • 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas, each cut into 6 wedges
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

The fist step in making the salsa is to place the tomatoes in a strainer with a bowl underneath the strainer. Sprinkle salt on top of the tomatoes and let them drain for about 30 minutes. Discard the liquid once the 30 minutes are up.

While the tomatoes are being softened with salt, you can combine the onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and chili powder in a medium bowl.

Side note, if you like things hot like I do, don’t discard the jalapeno seeds. If you’re truly like me, you’ll add another jalapeno as well.

Put one-third of the drained tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Then add these tomatoes to your onion and chili bowl you created earlier. Then add the chunky tomatoes and mix it all together.

Cover this mixture and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

We are now ready to make our chips!

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat to 350. Place your chips as evenly as possible, spray with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake until they are slightly browned which should be around 8-12 minutes. Flip the chips when this occurs and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes. By this time the chips should be ready to eat, but if they aren’t just tackle on more time in the oven. You want to make sure they are nice and crisp.

Whether you need more time or not, they will need to cool before consumption which should work out with waiting on that delicious salsa you just made.

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Overall, I was happy with this recipe. I prefer salsa that isn’t quite as chunky most of the time, but I like how the chunky tomatoes sort of spritz juice in you mouth. It makes me feel light and refreshed.

My chips were not consistently crisp which was disappointing, but I blame myself. I didn’t bake them long enough and didn’t realize they weren’t really as crisp as they seemed. So be sure to really check those chips out before taking them out of the oven.

I’m sure if I made this again, I’d have more success and as much as I love greasy fried chips, it’s good to have heatlhy alternatives you can make yourself.

Historically Accurate Beef Fajitas

These beef fajitas come from I Love Spice and are actually called Classic Beef Fajitas, but doesn’t the word classic really just mean from the past?

So I decided to name it historically accurate, but it might not actually be historically accurate come to think of it. I mean I don’t know if this is an authentic recipe. However, it is a recipe from the past that millions of people enjoyed and that’s historically accurate.

At least here in the Americas this is the case.

I think now is a good time to say,

“Rachel assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site. The information contained in this site is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness…”

Just covering my bases…

What you’ll need:

For the fajitas

  •  1 pound of beef skirt steak, cut into strips
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • large pinch of mild chili powder
  • large pinch of paprika
  • large pinch of ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1-2 avocados, pitted, chopped, and tossed in lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

For the pico de gallo salsa

  • 8 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1-2 fresh green chilies, such as jalapeno or serrano, seeded and chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 5-8 radishes, diced
  • ground cumin

The first step is to combine the beef with the garlic, lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to your standards, mix, and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes outside the fridge or overnight in the fridge.

While this is happening, make the salsa by combining the tomatoes, scallions, chilies, cilantro, and radishes in a bowl. Then season with cumin, slat, and pepper.

The cookbook now recommends you warm the tortillas in a skillet and then wrap them in foil to keep warm while you continue to cook.

I recommend you make everyone warm their own tortilla in the skillet right before they eat. It doesn’t take that long and it’s guaranteed tortilla warmth.

Once the meat has been marinated to your liking, you can prepare to cook it by heating vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Stir fry the meat in this pan until browned and slightly tender.

You are  now ready to create your historically accurate and classic fajita masterpiece!

Do this by heating that tortilla, scooping in the meat, and topping with salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

Please note, that my fajita was not historically accurate because I left out the sour cream. I know it’s terrible, but forgive me history snobs.

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Not historically accurate, but good.

If you chose to be historically accurate or not, like all classics it goes without saying that this is an easy, satisfying meal that the whole family can enjoy.