Sunday, November 2, 2008

100th Post

It's a blog-iversary! My 100th post. I have to say, I'm very thankful that anyone reads this at all. I know it's hit and miss when it comes to entertaining entries, but at least it is as messy and weird as real life, which is hopefully somewhat refreshing. On to the entry:

Culinary Challenge: Bagels & Lox

It was much easier to make lox than I thought. And it came out tasting so good! Not too salty, like lox can sometimes be, especially the store bought kind. The recipe I used is a fairly simple one:

fresh salmon (skin on preferred, I used about 8 oz. of salmon)
1/4 cup of salt (I used Kosher salt, but I don't like it to be too salty)
1/4 cup of white sugar
2 tsp. black pepper (using crushed peppercorns would work good too)
Bunch or two of fresh dill.

I purchased two 4 oz. fillets, slathered them in the salt/sugar/pepper mixture and then placed some dill in between the two like a dill sandwich. Then, I wrapped the whole thing tightly in plastic wrap. Put the wrapped salmon in a dish and place something heavy on top to apply some pressure. Drain the dish each day at least once and in 48 hours, you can slice it thinly and enjoy some tasty lox! For less than half of what it costs to buy 4 thin slices, I have a whole bunch of lox that I can freeze for future breakfasts. Am I happy? Yes.

The bagel recipe I took from The Fresh Loaf. A very good recipe because you do everything the night before and refrigerate the risen dough. Then, in the morning, you can boil and bake. You don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to have breakfast. My kinda recipe. Bagels are kind of a pain, but no more than any other bread, really. They came out light and after slicing and toasting them, very crisp on the outside. The recipe is supposed to yield 12 bagels, but they rose so much that I probably could have made 24 regular sized bagels. Just in case, I made a couple of what I considered "mini bagels." These turned out to be regular sized in the end!

Saturday night we didn't have much in the fridge, and I wasn't in the mood to go to the grocery store again, so we made do with what we had in the pantry and fridge. Matt had Coney dogs with fries, but I am not a big fan of the hot dog, so I started to make a chicken gumbo. I had the andouille cooking with some leftover chicken, and then I realized that I didn't have the necessary ingredients. Uh oh. Disaster. Then I remembered that I had a can of white beans (canellini beans) and some fingerling potatoes. So my Modified Cuban Caldo Gallego emerged.

It usually calls for chorizo and/or ham hock, but I think andouille worked just fine. Recipe below:

2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup diced cooked chicken
1 andouille sausage, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (or quarters if you have large ones)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper (optional)
1 can of canellini beans , drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of dry white wine
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. flour

Chop the andouille and brown on medium heat in a medium sized pot. Add the chicken after about a minute and cook them together. Remove to a plate after about 3 minutes. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and bell pepper (this is the 'sofrito') and sautee for about 3-4 mintues. Add the dry white wine and let it reduce for a few minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and mix well. Add the seasonings, potatoes, and beans. Stir well. Add the chicken stock and replace the chicken and sausage. Toss in the bay leaf and let it come to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 10 minutes, use a spoon to crush some of the beans and potatoes. This will thicken the soup further. If you like, you can take out about half a cup and blend it, then return it to the soup, but the smashing works just fine for me. The longer you let it simmer, the better the flavor, but another 15-20 minutes was all I could stand.

If you are super lazy or super busy, you could put all the ingredients in a crock pot. I have done that before and it worked fine, but the fingerling potatoes might not be the best choice, as they fall apart kind of easily. Go with red potatoes or Yukon gold.

I made a nice salad and some garlic bread and even though the Coney dog and fries actually looked tasty, I felt very good about my dinner. Highly recommended!

Tonight: I have a loin of pork marinating in the fridge. I am trying a new marinade. Cuban mojo criollo by Goya is the one I usually use, when I don't make mojo myself. But I found that Goya makes a chipotle mojo criollo, so I had to try it. We'll see!

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