Saturday, July 31, 2010

Grilled Naan

Two reasons to make your own flatbreads:

1. They sell naan in packs of two for $3.00, and for three bucks in ingredients you can make a dozen or more.

2. Store-bought never tastes as good as right off the grill or out of the oven.

3. It's a lot easier than you might think.

4. For the sake of argument, let's say it's not all that easy. But you can still make it easy-ish by making a large batch and freezing most, to pull out later when you need it. Move it from the freezer to the fridge the morning you want to use it, then take it out to thaw completely about an hour before you need it.

5. The conventional wisdom says that cooking is more art and baking more science. In other words, when you're cooking, there are a lot of ways you can wing it, but baking requires precise measurements for everything to work just right. Could argue that from a lot of angles, but today let's just say, flatbreads are way forgiving. No reason to fear the flatbread.

Okay, that's more than two, but you get the idea.

Grilled Naan

1 ½ tsps dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 ½ tsps sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 Tbs clarified butter (called ghee in most Indian recipes) — divided
3 Tbs yogurt
2-3 Tbs sesame seeds, minced onion or garlic, or a dash red pepper flakes, or other flavoring
olive oil

Mix the dry yeast and sugar and add to the warm water. Stir till the yeast is dissolved. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. The mixture should begin to froth.

Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture, 3 Tbs of butter, and the yogurt.

Very gently mix this into a soft dough.

Flour a large work surface (counter top or cutting board) and knead until elastic, which should take at least five minutes.

Coat a large bowl with a few drops of olive oil, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for 90 minutes. The dough should approximately double.

Punch the dough down and knead for 10 minutes. About half way into this, sprinkle your seeds or onion into the dough.

Divide the dough in half, then each half in half, and then once again. Roll the divided dough into balls. At this point, if you don't want to grill all of the dough, you can put some of it in zip lock bags and freeze it for another time.

Re-flour your work surface and roll out each ball until you have a circle about one-half inch thick. Naan should then be gently pulled into a tear-drop shape.

Get your grill up to medium-high and then generously coat the grates with oil (paper towel and tongs works better than sprays).

Before putting the dough on the grill, spoon the rest of the butter onto each each piece of bread. Or, just spray with olive oil. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, turning with tongs when done.

The temperature isn't all that important, so if you're cooking anything else, don't worry about having certain zones for each item. Just grill it until it's firm on the bottom.

Serve immediately, or transfer to a plate and cover with foil until your ready to eat.

Chicken and mixed veggies in chile-lime adobo, mixed green salad with creamy avocado dressing.


I honestly don't know how I feel about this. Change is good, but there's something to be said for survival of the fittest and letting the best man, woman, dog, or cocktail concoction win.

And we're pretty set in our ways when it comes to margaritas. Good tequila, orange liquor, and fresh lime juice, with ice cubes and salt on the rim. It's that simple.

But we do love rhubarb, and this sounded interesting. And it was darn good. But as good as the classic? Well, no ... but still worth making once a summer, I guess. Serve it in plastic cups on a hot day when you're going to be sitting around outside.

I used four stalks of rhubarb, and got a good quart of rhubarb syrup. That would make drinks for a moderate gathering, but don't fret if you don't use it all at once. The simple syrup goes well with iced tea or seltzer as well.

The Rhubarbarita, originally from the Splendid Table via the Greasy Spoon.

Ingredients: rhubarb, water, sugar, tequila, lime juice.

Your measurements may vary, but here's how it worked for me:

I started with one cup of water and half a cup of sugar. Bring the water right up to boiling in a large pot, then cut the heat and add the sugar. Stir until dissolved.

I had four largish stalks of rhubarb, so that's how much I used. I didn't measure them, though, after chopping them into chunks, so I have no idea how much by volume (or by weight, for that matter) I had, but it doesn't really matter. Just chop up what you have and add it to the simple syrup. You want the water to just cover the rhubarb, and in this case, it didn't. So, I measured water by the quarter cup and added it until it did, and then added half that much sugar.

(Most recipes call for over-sweetening the rhubarb, so I was a bit stingy measuring the sugar, never quite getting a full scoop each time.)

Bring the pot back to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, and let it do its thing for 15-20 minutes or so, until the rhubarb is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Then allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

(The Splendid Table recipe doesn't call for this step, but I then went at the whole thing with a potato masher for a minute or so, just to get all of the flavor out of the rhubarb.)

Place a fine-mesh colander over a large bowl, or line a colander with cheese cloth, and pour out the rhubarb mush, collecting the liquid. Use a large spoon or the bottom of a tumbler to press out as much of the liquid as you can. Transfer to a bottle.

Now mix your drinks. Their starting point is half tequila, half rhubarb syrup, with a splash of lime juice, but I think you'll need a lot more lime. So try 3 ounces tequila, 1 ounce rhubarb, 1 ounce lime, and then shift and adjust from there.

Step out into the hot sun, wipe your forehead with a bandanna, and take a sip. Cheers!

Friday, July 30, 2010

End of July Food News

Wandering through the papers this week ...

Korean Tacos gain momentum. There are several things I like about this trend. First of all, I just personally think the fusion of Korean BBQ with Mexican garnishes just plain works. It's like twins separated at birth, and when you get them back together, you realize that there's something in their DNA that makes them fit. Second, I love the movement towards healthier fast food, a la Chipotles, Garbanzos, Wahoo's Fish Tacos. And third, you gotta love the groundswell of well-appointed restaurants and pedigreed chefs taking their craft to the streets. In Denver, we've always had Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, but lately he's been joined by GastroCart and the Steuben's Food Truck. 'Cause let's face it — Americans are never going to stop eating fast food, but at least now we can feel good about it.

Pez Cycling interview with Willy Balmat. This won't mean much to 99% of you, but Willy's been a hero of mine forever. A very distinguished chef in the traditional sense, having worked at some major restaurants around the world over the year, what makes him special is that he's been the team chef for professional bike teams for a quarter century. And not just any old teams, but 7-11, Motorola, US Postal, Discovery, Garmin, and now Cervelo. What a career, and what stories he must have.

Beat the heat with a handful of ice cream recipes, from the Atlantic.

Why do we like the food that we like? And specifically, why do we like bitter foods instead of just sweet and savory ones? Paul Bloom discusses that very issue with the editors at SEED magazine and with Ira Flatow on Science Friday.

Field to Plate: We're in the middle of serious farmers market season, and to find out what's in season in your neck of the woods, check out these state-by-state calendars here.

Ready for August? August is National Catfish Month, National Panini Month, National Peach Month, and National Sandwich Month. For the day-by-day "holidays," visit Foodimentary.

Sharing powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, W. Va., TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver makes the case for an all-out assault on our ignorance of food.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thought of the Day

" 'The knowledge of God is the bread of the angels.' I don't know what that means, but I believe it."

Primo, Big Night

Bánh Mì Times Three

I think we've confirmed the obvious: you just can't screw up the bánh mí sandwich.

There's the Meatball Bánh Mì, the first one we tried.

Then there's the more traditional pan-fried pork loin version, which is always a crowd favorite.

Wrapping up the trilogy is the grilled bánh mí burger.

This one might be the most family and party friendly version, since you can make the pork burgers ahead of time and there's minimal clean-up.

Burgers (makes 4-6)
1.5 pounds ground pork
a couple of scallions, chopped
1-2 Tbs minced ginger or 1 Tbs powdered ginger
2 Tbs sherry
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs Sriracha
1 Tbs fish sauce (optional)
dash of salt
olive oil

+ French or hoagie rolls

Gently mix all ingredients except for the olive oil in a large bowl, then shape into patties the same size as your buns. Use a fork to smash them down into nice rectangles. (And using foil or waxed paper on your counter or cutting block will save some clean up.) After you make your patties, spray both sides with olive oil. If you're ready to grill, then fire them up just like you'd do a hamburger. Or, store them in tupperware or plastic wrap until everything else is ready.

Lightly toast the rolls on the grill right before serving.

Pickled Veggie Slaw
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs salt
1 tsp Sriracha
1 4-inch chunk of daikon, grated or sliced into strips
1/2 cup sliced or grated carrots
1 cup cucumbers, thinly sliced (seeded if necessary)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt until everything is dissolved. Add the Sriracha, then drizzle over the vegetables in an air-tight bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Final Assembly
Prepare a 4:1 mayonnaise to Sriracha mixture (enough for your rolls), then add a dash of lime juice. Grill the patties, toast the rolls, spread on the mayo mix, and then fill your buns with the burgers and slaw. Extra cilantro on top is nice. And some recipes call for one slice of deli ham per bun.

Leftovers? Thinly slice the left over burgers and mix with the slaw, then serve in a tortilla as a wrap.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hawai'ian Banana Bread

A hearty thanks to Mary at One Perfect Bite for this one.

I only changed one thing in the recipe. I upped the mac nuts to a full cup, and after I toasted them, I chopped up about half of them with a hand-chopper. (If you chop them and then toast them, they can burn rather quickly, so I recommend toasting first.)

Ahh, the hand-chopper ... so easy, a 2-year old can use it ...

And because all of two of us in the household right now are either on baby formula or kibble, once the bread cooled I sliced it, zip-lock-bagged the slices, and put it all in the freezer, and then the two of us who are walking on two legs can grab one as we run out the door in the morning.

With the extra fat from the mac nuts and coconut, it's also easily thrown in a jersey pocket or Camelbak for a bike ride or hike instead of a commercial energy bar.

OPB's Hawai'ian Banana Bread

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 tsp lemon zest
1 ⅓ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large 'naners)
3 Tbs sour cream
1 cup macadamia nuts, lightly toasted and cooled, then chopped
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted and cooled


1) Heat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour two 8 ½ x 4 ½-inch loaf pans.

2) Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars, and then beat in the vanilla, eggs, lemon zest, sour cream, and bananas.

3) Add the flour mixture, stirring just until the batter is combined. Add in macadamia nuts and coconut and gently stir until evenly incorporated.

3) Divide the batter between loaf pans and smooth tops. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Let the pan cool for ten minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool on racks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Gastronomical Look at the Tour de France

Some old, some new ... some nutritional highlights from the world's toughest endurance sport.

Five-star cuisine for Team Garmin

Team Garmin Chef Sean Fowler, slideshow with audio commentary.

An inside look at Team Garmin's Daily Menu.

Going gluten-free to fight the inflammation associated with endurance sports.

Chef Duffy, Johann Bruyneel's long time associate:

Homemade Energy Bars from Leah Vande Velde, wife of Team Garmin bike racer Christian Vande Velde

Meals on Wheels:

Info about Clif Bars:

Dr Allen Lim's Rice Cakes: