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.