Friday, June 14, 2013

Classic American Cooking: Braised Oxtail

America is a mixing pot of cultures.  This makes for a diverse style of cooking.  I have been thinking about this a lot.  What are the roots and classic styles of American cooking?  Now that is a really difficult question to give you a direct answer to.  We as Americans have developed our own style borrowing techniques and recipes from around the world.
One of the most classic styles of cooking is Braising.  I am sure most of you know what braising is but for those of you who don't, then read on!  World wide people eat parts of animals we throw away as delicacies.  Depending on what part of the globe you are on Oxtail is one such cut of beef.  It is a tough cut so it requires time and love to cook properly.  I chose to start a Culinary Journey through American history and then beyond so I thought Braised Oxtail was a great way to start.
I just went by taste on this one.  I started by flouring and browning the Oxtail.  I used red wine and beef stock as my braising liquid and for flare I topped the Oxtail with fresh thyme and basil.  I braised the Oxtail for four hours then added Potatoes, Onions, Celery, and  Carrots and braised for another hour.
The result is a fork tender flavorful delight!
I intend on doing more with this one so keep and eye out!  What  is your favorite Braising Recipe? 

I also roasted some Beef Marrow with thyme and basil.  It is very rich and so I served it with toasted cibatta bread topped with tomato vinaigrette and a side of roasted tomatoes.
So this is part one of my new Culinary Journey! I am excited to see where it takes me and I hope you will join me from home!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cookin' With Mom! Chili Verde and Lemon Tarts

As early as I can remember I was in the kitchen with my mom.  I was boiling water for my Ramen Noodles by age 5 and cooking hamburgers by age 7.  I was always curious and watching.  I am so glad I took such and interest at an early age for several reasons.  Reason one, only one of my Ex girlfriends could actually cook, and I can have Mom's cooking anytime now that I know the recipes!
One of my favorite meals growing up was Mom's Chili Verde.  (Yes I am aware our Chili Verde is brown and not green lol!)  Her Chili Verde is different than any I have ever had.  It is my go to dish in a new Mexican restaurant because it is normally just pork cooked in a green salsa.  On a trip to Lake Isabella in Southern California my parents stopped into a small hole in the wall Mexican restaurant and she ordered the Chili Verde.  She was served Chili Verde in a gravy and she took the idea home with her.
This makes for a rich dish packed with flavor. The salsa and gravy are slow cooked with the pork and it just melts in your mouth.  There is a lot of room to play with too.  You could add an array of veggies and it would still be just as good!
Here is what you need:
Serves 6-8
3 pounds diced pork
1 cup plus 2 heaping table spoons of flour
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic salt
16 ounces of Salsa Verde
3/4 cup of vegetable oil for frying
1/2 oil for the gravy
2 cups hot water

Add your garlic salt and black pepper to 1 cup of flour and coat the pork with the flour mixture.  Brown your pork over medium high heat.  For more texture you can brown the pork really well.  As your pork browns remove from stove to a plate with a paper towel and let the excess oil drain.  Now for the gravy.  Add the remaining oil to the pork drippings and turn up the heat and slowly add the remaining flour and water.  The gravy will thicken and any may not use all the flour or water.  Be sure to taste the gravy because once you add too much flour it is really hard to fix.  Pour the gravy and pork into a slow cooker and cook on low heat for at least 5 hours.  And done!!!!

It was my turn to teach my Mom something in the kitchen. She loves lemon deserts so I decided I would show her how easy it is to make a classic Lemon Tart.  This meant a lot to me being able to share what I have learned with my Mom.  Keep in mind I am self taught and just have a passion for food, but it felt awesome to be able to teach her something I know she will enjoy.

Here is what you need:
serves 8
1 cup Lemon Curd
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Phyllo Dough
 1/4 cup butter

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl except for the dough and blend until nice and creamy.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let it set up.

 Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.  I used 3
layers of Phyllo Dough for each tart.  Buttering each layer makes it flavorful and more manageable to work with.  Butter you mold and place the Phyllo Dough in the mold and feel free to play around with making different shapes and patterns.  Bake the dough for 6 to 8 minutes, I have had to watch the dough carefully, my Mom's oven bakes really fast and mine bakes really slow, so just keep and eye on them so they don't burn.
I topped mine with fresh raspberry and powder sugar but you could get really inventive at this stage, make it your own by adding your favorite fruits, nuts, or even breakfast cereal, Fruity Pebbles just seems like a natural topping and would add color and texture.
So I realize that some of you do not know what Lemon Curd is.  It is an old fashioned Lemon Jelly of sorts that originates in Europe, very popular in the British Isles.  I found it with the other preserves but you may need to go to a speciality store of sorts to find it.  I fell in love with it!!! I eat it on my bagels in the morning, Blue Berry Bagels and Lemon Curd were born for each other!
What is your favorite childhood meal? Do you know the recipe?