Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending the year with some two-wheeled inspiration

A random sampling of bike quotes to end the year:

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
Arthur Conan Doyle, in the Scientific American, 1896

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
John F. Kennedy

“I thought of that while riding my bike.”
Albert Einstein, on how he came up with theory of relativity

“I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.”
Susan B. Anthony

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
H.G. Wells

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
Ernest Hemingway

“Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls.”
Bob Weir, Grateful Dead

Sunday, December 20, 2009

West Point Baked Ziti: Dinner for 4,000

Something you might be able to use for the holidays, if you're doing some major entertaining and happen to have penitentiary kitchen equipment.

3 quarts salad oil
175 pounds ground beef
420 pounds pasta (ziti or penne)
6 cans tomato paste *
12 cans tomato puree *
6 cans diced tomatoes *
20 pounds onions
1.5 pounds garlic
32 pounds mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste

* sorry -- no mention as to the size of the can, so you're on your own there.

Place salad oil in 60 gallon tilt pot and get it hot. Braise onions and garlic in tilt pot.
Add all tomatoes, stock, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Brown meat in oven on baking sheets. Break up meat with hand whip. Drain meat and add to sauce.

Cook pasta in 60 gallon tilt pots. Drain and place in serving dishes. Cover with meat/tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Meatball Bành Mì

Assembled banh mi: hot chili mayo (mix 1/2 cup mayo with 1-2 Tbs Srirachi) on a French bread roll, meatballs, and pickled veggies, sprinkled with cilantro.

Bành Mì is a Vietnamese baguette made of rice and wheat flour. Recently, though, it has come to mean a particular family of sandwiches using these rolls. There are no hard and fast rules, but typically it features savory pork filling surrounded by pickled vegetables and a spicy sauce. And the beauty of the sandwich is that it's really hard to screw it up. Pork and pickles just go together, and from there it's just a matter of how hot you want to go.

Pickling the veggies in the vinegar/sugar/salt brine; pork mix in 1 inch meatballs

Sriracha is often the not-so-secret ingredient to these sandwiches. Sriracha was named "ingredient of the year" by Bon Appetit, and it seems to be one of the few hot sauces that everyone can agree on. If you like it hot, use it full strength and use a lot of it. Not so hot, just water it down with ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce or olive oil, or whatever else your recipe calls for.

This version calls for pork meatballs, but you can find a lot of other options at the definitive Bành Mì reference site, The Battle of the Bành Mì.

Two things to make ahead of time:

1. Chili Sauce Mayo: Mix about 1/2 cup mayo with a couple or three squirts of Sriracha or other hot chili sauce. Wait, I take that back ... you have to use Sriracha. I mean, you could use something else, but why? You can also add some chopped green onions, minced garlic, or minced ginger, but try it with just the Sriracha first.

2 cups grated or julienned carrots; 2 cups grated or julienned daikon; 1/4 cup rice vinegar; 1/4 cup sugar; 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt.

2. Pickled veggies. Mix together 1-2 cups of julienned or coarsely grated carrots, an equal amount of daikon (Japanese white radish), and maybe some red peppers if you have them. In a small measuring cup, mix 1/4 cup rice vinegar with 1/4 sugar, and 1 tsp sea or kosher salt, and stir until everything is dissolved. Pour the pickling solution over the veggies and let stand for at least an hour, or even overnight.


1 pound ground pork; 1/4 cup chopped basil (fresh) or 1-2 tbs dried basil; 3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 2-3 green onions, minced; 1 Tbs fish sauce (optional); 1-2 Tbs Srirachi (rooster sauce); 1 Tbs sugar; 2 tsp corn starch; 1 tsp each salt and pepper.
1 pound ground pork; 1/4 cup chopped basil (fresh) or 1-2 tbs dried basil; 3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 2-3 green onions, minced; 1 Tbs fish sauce (optional); 1-2 Tbs Srirachi (rooster sauce); 1 Tbs sugar; 2 tsp corn starch; 1 tsp each salt and pepper

Mix it all in a large bowl and roll into 1 inch balls. Keeping your hands wet will make that a little bit easier, so you might want a bowl of water nearby. You can also make these the day before, and just store in an airtight container.
Browning the meatballs in sesame oil

Set your oven to 275º and heat a large skillet (non-stick) with a few tablespoons of sesame oil. Cook the meatballs in portions, depending on the size of your skillet, turning frequently and browning all sides. After about 10 minutes, move to a large, heavy duty baking sheet and move to the oven while you do the rest of the meatballs. When the last batch is done, cook for another 10-15 minutes and then turn off the oven while you prep everything else.

Dinner Time:

Spread the chili-mayo on your roll, fill it with meatballs, and stuff with the pickled veggies. Sprinkle a bit of fresh chopped cilantro on your sandwich and enjoy.

Serving suggestion: Side salad of romaine, red peppers, and cukes with your choice of Asian dressings. We used this one:
Simmer 1/3 cup rice vinegar with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp salt, then add 1-2 tsp minced garlic and ginger. After simmering, strain out the solids. Cool, then add 1/4 sesame oil and 3/4 cup olive oil

Dressing for the salad: simmer 1/3 cup rice vinegar with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp salt, then add 1-2 tsp minced garlic and ginger. After simmering, strain out the solids. Cool, then add 1/4 sesame oil and 3/4 cup olive oil

Saturday, December 5, 2009

College Football Championship Weekend Grub: Pork and Green Chili Stew

Loosely based on a recipe in the Denver Junior League's Colorado College, a great book that everyone should have.

Reminds me of Pete's Kitchen's breakfast burrito, so we'll probably scramble some eggs, bake some tater tots, wrap it in a tortilla, and cover with copious quantities of the stew, then sit down to the Texas - Nebraska game.


2 lbs pork loin, cubed (1 inch)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsps cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground sage

3 tablespoons oil

3 tablespoons vinegar

1-2 cups chopped onion
(optional: 2-3 cloves of garlic)
1 fresh jalepeño, Anaheim, or Poblano, diced
2 7 ozcans chopped green chilis (Hatch, preferably), or a pound of freshly roasted green chilis, if they're available in your area
2 cups peeled chopped tomatoes (Muir Glen or the equivalent)
1 cup chicken broth
tsp brown sugar
optional: a cup of diced new potatoes
optional: a cup of diced tomatillos

warmed tortillas, guac,

2 pounds of pig ... a bit more than it called for, but is there every such a thing as too much pig?

Cube the pork and set aside. In a zip lock bag, add the cumin, salt and pepper, sage, and flour. Add the pork and shake to evenly cover.

Coating and browning.

3 Tbs of oil in a skilet (non-non-stick, preferably — the brown bits that stick to the pan are so worth it). Brown the cubed pork in batches, transfer to a crock pot as you finish. Then add the onion, garlic, and fresh peppers, and brown for 5-6 minutes. Transfer to the crock pot and set the crock pot to low. Add the vinegar and deglaze your pan, adding the mix to the crock pot when you're done.

Add all remaining ingredients to the crock pot, gently mix, and cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10. (You can reduce the time by cooking the pork until almost done instead of just browning it.)

Simmering ... 6 more hours and we got chow!

Pairing suggestions: Odell's Isolation Ale or a Spanish red.
Music pairing selections: A ska mix of the English Beat, General Pubic, the Specials, and later Pietasters.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Après-ski (or, in this case, après-snow angel and snowball fight) snacks

After playing out in the snow, nothing better than a cup of hot chocolate and some homemade cookies.

And a good winter cookie is the triple ginger snap. Especially if you have an eager assistant who'll do the chopping and mixing for you.

2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped super-fine
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 sticks (3/4 cup) butter (unsalted), brought to room temp
1/2 cup each light and dark brown sugar
1 large egg, also room temp
1/4 cup molasses
1.5 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated super-fine
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

plus, enough sugar to cover the bottom of a small bowl

Standard cookie recipe: Mix the powdery dry goods (flour, baking soda, salt) plus the crystallized ginger and set aside.

Mix the wet ingredients (actually, everything else on the list ) in the order listed in a large bowl. First beat sugars and butter until creamy. Then add each remaining item, one at a time, beating just until mixed.

Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet mixture, maybe a cup at a time.

Make balls in your hands using about a tablespoon of the dough, and roll each ball in the sugar.

Place each ball on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper) about two inches apart.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Seems like at altitude it only takes 12 minutes and the flatlanders need 15.

Bake right up until the cookies flatten out and surface cracks appear.

If you want a slightly softer cookie, make the balls bigger and watch the time closely. For a flatter, crisper, ginger-snappy cookie, smaller balls for the full 15 minutes.

If you take them out right as they crisp up, you can let them cool on the baking sheet. If you think they went a minute too long, then let them cool for 2-3 minutes on the sheet and transfer them to a rack.

These are excellent cookie to make a double batch and freeze. Only takes a few minutes out of the freezer before they're soft enough to eat ... or a quick dunk in your coffee or hot chocolate works as well.


Friday, November 20, 2009

For Thanksgiving: Cranberry Chutney

This is so easy, you'll wonder why anyone ever bothered canning that jello-y crap.

The Indians and English use them much, boyling

them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat,

and it is a delicate sauce.

—John Josselyn, while visiting New England 1663

12 ounces fresh cranberries

2 tablespoons red onion,

finely chopped

2∕3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans,

lightly toasted

In a heavy saucepan, combine the

cranberries, onion, sugar, ginger,

spices and salt. Cook over medium

heat, stirring, until cranberries

begin to pop—about 5–6 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Stir in

pecans. Chutney is best if made two

days ahead. Refrigerate.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not quite winter yet: Smacked Flat Chicken with Clementine Salsa

Not quite winter yet, so not ready for heavy stews and soups and roasts. But too cold and wet to go stand out by the grill. Need a good transition meal, and with winter citrus readily available, a clementine salsa over pan fried chicken sounded like the ticket.

For the Salsa:
3-4 clementines or satsumas, peeled and diced
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup each diced onion and celery
1/4 cup each chopped fresh basil and cilantro
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Chiles to taste, eg 1 jalepeno or serrano, finely chopped, minced even

For the chicken:
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

To deglaze:
1/2 cup fresh clementine juice (from about 2 satsumas or 3 clementines)

Mix the salsa ingredients and put in the fridge for a couple of hours before you're ready for the chicken

Pound the chicken flat to about a quarter inch. I don't have a mallet, so I use the sharpening steel of my knife set. Put the chicken breasts in a heavy duty zip lock bag and whale away. Watch for rips in the bag, because you don't want raw chicken getting on anything.

If you want, you can marinate in a 3:1 mix of lemon juice and EVOO. But you don't have to. Salt and pepper the chicken right before you pan fry it.

If you get the chicken nice and thin, it should only take 3-4 minutes on medium-high heat to cook the chicken. Move the chicken to a plate and cover with foil while you work on the sauce.

Deglaze your pan with the clementine juice and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce to about 1/4 cup.

Serve up the chicken, spoon the sauce over it, and then add heaps of the salsa.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Training Table Reading List

Daylight Savings Time is almost over, and we'll revert to the hours as nature intended for us to experience them, before rush hours and must see TV and all of the other chronological cues of modern society. We will soon have lots of dark evenings, with nothing better to do than to grab a book and sit by the fire, so here are a couple that I plan to leaf through over the next few months.

From Science Friday: A simple recipe with a lot of variations ... Take some milk, add some bacteria to spoil it. Add some mold, and don't forget to add some rennet, which comes from the stomach lining of livestock, then heat the mixture, drain out some of the liquid, then let it sit around for a few months. Sounds good? Well, maybe if we call it by its popular name, cheese.

The Cheese Chronicles is an insider's look at the burgeoning world of American cheese from one lucky person who has seen more wedges and wheels, visited more cheesemakers, and tasted more delicious (and occasionally stinky) American cheese than anyone else. Liz Thorpe, second in command at New York's renowned Murray's Cheese, has used her notes and conversations from hundreds of tastings spanning nearly a decade to fashion this odyssey through the wonders of American cheese. Offering more than eighty profiles of the best, the most representative, and the most important cheesemakers, Thorpe chronicles American cheesemaking from the brave foodie hobbyists of twenty years ago (who put artisanal cheese on the map) to the carefully cultivated milkers and makers of today.

There's nothing I can say about Kenny Shopsin that hasn't been said better by Calvin Trillin, so I'll point you instead to one of his New Yorker articles here.

And the New York Times did a piece on him about this time last year, here. Macaroni and cheese pancakes, anyone?

And finally, one I've been meaning to get to forever is Jim Harrison's The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand. Again, I'll defer to the Times in their description of Mr. Harrison:

Jim Harrison is not your average foodie. He is no pinkie-in-the-air fusspot who finds delight in taste-testing balsamic vinegar or drizzling sea salt from some distant shore on his blanched asparagus stalks. In this collection of his essays and correspondence, ''The Raw and the Cooked,'' he presents himself as the Yosemite Sam of dining -- a rootin', tootin' culinary combo plate of Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, Julian Schnabel and Sam Peckinpah. His eats with vigor and writes with unbounded gusto. His enthusiasms are so visceral that readers may put the book down feeling as if they have just been trampled by the bulls at Pamplona.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rules to Eat By

As always, an interesting and thought-provoking piece from Michael Pollan.

Rules to Eat By

Here at the Training Table, we have our own kitchen manifesto, as you can see if you look at the far right column and scroll down a wee bit.

What are your rules to eat by?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cooking for der kinder

The Z'ster isn't crazy about hot spices, so we've had to tone down just about everything we make. When it comes to southwest fare, he loves sweet peppers, corn, posole, and beans, but he just can't handle chilis right yet.

And because I'm a Bear of Very Little Brain, it took me a while to figure out the very simple solution to this situation: leave the spice out of the main dish and put it in the sauce, salsa, or sides.

Here's an easy example: start with the Modern Fiesta here at Bon Appetit

Modern Fiesta

and make these easy modifications

Chili-Corn Custard Squares with out the Chili

2 tablespoons EVOO plus more for sauteing veggies
1 cup chopped onion
1 diced sweet pepper (red, orange, or yellow)
Butter or non-stick spray to prep pan
1/4 cup King Arthur whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 X 1/3 cup shredded cheese (Mexican blend, queso fresca, or something like that)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canned creamed corn (one can makes two batches, so save the rest in Mason jar)

Heat just enough EVOO to coat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add finely chopped onion and sweet pepper and sauté until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool, because you're going to add to the egg mixture, and you don't want the veggies to pre-cook the batter.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan, or spray with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. Whisk egg, 1/3 cup cheese blend, 1/2 cup sour cream, creamed corn, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl. Add flour mixture; stir to blend. Stir in onions and peppers. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup cheese blend over.
Bake until puffed and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Custard squares can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Topping: For the kids, they just get a splat of sour cream. For those wanting some spice, mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with a Tbs of diced chilis, or a dash of Tobasco Chipotle sauce, and a squirt of lime juice. The tiniest dash of cumin is also cool, and maybe a dash of Mexican oregano.

Cut into 1-inch squares. Place on platter. Top each square with dollop of sour cream, then small spoonful of salsa. Again, for Z, he got a no-spice tomato salsa, and we got a hotter mix on ours.

Summer squash rice with pepitas, black beans with chorizo, and corn bread with chili.

Rice with Summer Squash and Sweet Peppers

This wasn't hot to start with , so we didn't modify it much. Just added some mild chorizo from the Boulder Sausage Company.

1 small onion, finely chopped
Optional: one link of chorizo, casing removed and crumbled
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow zucchini, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1 green zucchini, same
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice, with a dash of salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth (low-sodium is best because then you can liberally sea-salt it)
3 tablespoons roasted pepitas
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
A squirt of lime juice

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and saute another 2 minutes, and then add the summer squash, and cook 2 more minutes. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage is browned.
Add the rice and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the broth, turn up the heat to high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in pumpkin seeds, cilantro, and a squirt of lime juice.

Summer squash rice with pepitas.

Black Beans

The Z-Man isn't crazy about spicy beans or even borracho, so instead of putting a lot of prep into this dish, we just cooked some crumbled chorizo in a stock pot, then added some onion and garlic and sauteed the mix for a few minutes. Then added a can of black beans and simmered the whole thing until dinner was ready. All of the spice then went into the salsa and sour cream topping (same as above, in the corn-chili custard square recipe).

Soft Tacos
This doesn't sound very southwest, but Z. likes the citrusy flavor on the chicken, and it works just fine. Marinate chicken breasts for 1-6 hours in a four-to-one mixture of lemon juice and olive oil, with minced garlic and sea salt. Then grill the chicken per your grill and slice into thin slivers. Add some chopped tomatoes, grilled veggies, and a bit of the rice and sour cream mix from above.

For Z, he gets a quesadilla instead of a soft taco, because he can hold it better. Lots of cheese keeps it together, and a couple of minutes on the George Foreman and it's ready to go.

If your family doesn't have a spice problem, check out the originals here:
Bon Appetit's Modern Fiesta

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Weekly Highlights

Here's a quick wrap-up of some highlights in the news this week.

1. Sabores Sin Fronteras, Flavors Without Borders.

The Sonoran Hotdog Crosses The Border

Was just thinking about my dad's comments about the suddenly ubiquitous chipotle pepper, and heard this on the radio about recipes moving back and forth across the border.

Americans' view of the U.S.-Mexico border is pretty narrow these days — basically, drugs and illegal immigrants.

Of course, there's more than that if you live there. There's the area's tasty food — Baja California fish tacos, Tex-Mex fajitas and the newest cross-border concoction: The Sonoran Hot Dog.

2. There's no problem getting enough sun in the summer time, right? Not so fast.

Soaking up more of the sunshine vitamin for improved performance, at VeloNews.

As you continue to train and race for the remainder of the season, learning about your vitamin D status and focusing on your vitamin D intake from food and supplements might actually improve your performance. While there is limited data on vitamin D status in athletes , (let alone cyclists), some experts believe that poor vitamin D status can often be a problem among athletes, and affect your overall health and ability to train.

3. No tomatoes for your pizza? Then how about blueberries?

The Weirdest Pizza I’ve Ever Made, at Bitten.

When Kerri sent me this picture, right, I said “but was it good?” She said “terrific.” I said, “send it.” It’s gorgeous and bizarre, and it qualifies as “pizza,” but … check it out. —MB

4. Are your kids getting enough water? Or, are they drinking too much crap?

Phys Ed: Are Sports Drinks Actually Good for Kids?

No one suggests that, outside of fields or courts, sports drinks are wise. “These are not health foods,” Clark says. “They’re fancy sugar water. You see kids having them with their pizza at lunch. That’s not a good idea.” Sports drinks have been linked with obesity and tooth decay. They’re also expensive. Finally, consider nagging, an underutilized means of improving young athletes’ hydration status. When the kids at the sports camps were asked why they didn’t drink more often, one of their most common responses was, “I forgot.”

5. Simple fitness test: how long can you hold your breath?

Measuring Fitness and Health: Part 1, Breathing, by Dr. Phil Maffetone

Breath-Holding Time is a simple test that measures the overall function of the diaphragm. It’s simple to perform. Take a deep breath and see how long you can hold it. This test is best performed while standing and with an empty stomach. Anyone in good health should be able to hold the breath for at least 50 seconds. If you can’t, it may indicate some functional problem, as discussed below.

6. Summer salad dressing: Cilantro and Green Chili. Mix, enjoy, repeat.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cookie Time

The boy wanted to make some cookies to take to the folks at his day care center, so he fired up the mixer and went to work.

Now, I'm sure a lot of folks probably don't consider an electric mixer to be a power tool. But in the mind of a 16 month old, apparently it sounds just like a train, a bulldozer, or a motorcycle. He spent the next couple of hours running around making circular motions with his arms and going "vrrrrmmmm, vrrrrroooommmm" like he was still mixing cookie dough. Same sound he makes when he pushes a tractor or rides his scooter.

Anyway, we usually use the recipe from the New York Time's ultimate cookie project.

But we were out of pastry flour. So we mixed it up like this:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
1.25 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp kosher salt
2.5 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup baker's sugar
2 Tbs molasses
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
half a bag of chocolate chips, plus a couple more shakes
about a cup of walnuts, finely chopped
sea salt

Follow the directions in the link above.
Two keys:
1) Let the dough rest for a full day before baking the cookies. That lets the liquid ingredients soak into the flour and sugar.
2) Add the tiniest pinch of sea salt to the balled dough right before you put it in the oven.