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Lose that broccoli smell…. March 29, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Cooking, Family.
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Like to cook broccoli but not so keen on the smell?  Toss a celery stalk into the pot as you cook the broccoli.

Celery = Smell-B-Gone

No idea why it works.  But it does.

(Thank you: Jane Stromberg)

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What is there to say about this one?? March 28, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Art, Photo, S.F. Chronicle.
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Installation by Daniel Spoerri - Grand Palais Museum (AP / Remy de la Mauviniere - Used without permission.)

An installation by Daniel Spoerri, in Paris’ Grand Palais Museum.

20 Amazing Things About Voting in the USA March 26, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Blog, Politics.
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I love this stuff.  Loads of suspicious facts.  No correlation.  Even less causation.

But it’s still fun to muse upon….

Braised Green Beans with Tomato and Basil March 26, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Braising, Recipe, Side Dish, Veggies.
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1-1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 cippolini onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup water

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, basil, and water. Cover skillet and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until beans reach desired degree of tenderness. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Time to Prepare: 10 minutes prep + 20 minutes (avg.) stovetop.

Level of Difficulty: 2/10

Serves: 4

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I’ve been getting bored of green beans lately. I avoid casserole-type dishes because of their general heaviness. And tossing beans in butter / olive oil and adding salt has gotten old. So I was really happy to discover this recipe. It is light in oil and has tons of flavor. The sweetness of the onions and tomatoes really complements the basil.

I loaded up on the salt and that worked out ok — tomatoes can handle it. Next time I would take them off a bit sooner than 20 minutes, to make them a little crisper. This is an easy dish I could see myself making once a week.

Braised Chicken with Wild Mushrooms March 25, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Braising, Chicken, Entree, Mushrooms, Recipe.
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6 large whole chicken legs
zest of one lemon
3 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
4 tbsp. butter (1/2 stick)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped (white and pale green parts only)
1 cup wild mushrooms1
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1 qt. low sodium chicken broth

Put chicken pieces in a large bowl with lemon zest, thyme, and chopped parsley. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Remove chicken from refrigerator. Sprinkle with salt and freshly grated black pepper. Let stand for 15 minutes, until room temperature. Preheat oven to 325° F degrees.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skiller over medium-high heat. Add 3 chicken pieces, skin side down, and sear for five minutes. Turn chicken over, reduce heat to medium, and cook for another two minutes. Remove chicken and place it in a large broiling pan or pot. Repeat process for the other 3 pieces of chicken.

Spoon half the drippings from the skillet and discard. Add onion, leeks, mushrooms, and bay leaves to skillet. Saute over medium heat until onions are golden, about 7 minutes. Add wine and sherry. Increase skillet to high heat, and boil liquid until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add a handful of fresh parsley sprigs.

Pour vegetables and liquid over the chicken in the braising pot. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, and place the lid over the aluminum foil, to seal as tightly as possible. Cook at 325° F until chicken is very tender, about 90 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 400° F. Add 1 millimeter of chicken liquid to a large flat baking dish. Transfer chicken pieces skin side up. Strain mushroom and vegetable solids from chicken liquid, surrounding the chicken legs with them in baking dish. Roast in oven until brown, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer remaining chicken liquid into a medium saucepan. Boil liquid gently to reduce, about 15 minutes or until thickened slightly. Optionally add 1 or 2 tbsp. butter if it looks like it needs more essence. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve whole chicken legs with reduced juices spooned over, accompanied by browned mushrooms and vegetables.

Time to Prepare: 4 hours marinating + 3 hours total cooking time (90 minutes baking).

Level of Difficulty: 6/10

Serves: 4 to 6

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1 Any type of wild mushrooms can be used, dried or fresh. Morels are nice, as are Yellow Foot Chanterelles. It is best to use whole mushrooms, so don’t use anything too large.

This dish is more work than I would ever commit to on a weekday. But as a special-occasion chicken it’s a winner.

The browning at the beginning is crucial. I have skipped the marinating step without disastrous results, but it’s really better if you can commit to it.

The Summer of Braising March 25, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Braising, Cooking, Personal.
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I have decreed this summer to be The Summer of Braising. Which means much braising will be done at 1100 Everett Ave.

Yes, it’s not summer yet. And yes, hardly anybody braises during the summer months, at least not in the Northern Hemisphere. But I feel a strong need to master this particular side of cooking. Hence, TSOB.

Last night I braised chicken with onions, leeks, and wild mushrooms, in white wine. (Recipe to follow.) It was tasty, and I have solid ideas for improving it to something transcendent.

Grilled Pork Chop Marinade March 22, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Grilling, Marinade, Pork, Recipe.
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1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp chinese five spice
1/4 tsp onion powder
fresh ground black pepper

Marinate up to four pork chops for one hour to one day before grilling.

(Grill pork chops over medium flame, 8 minutes for thin chops to 16 minutes for thick chops.)

California vs. U.S.A., part 34 March 14, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Article, California, L.A. Times, News, Politics.
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Once again, an activity which is legal under California law is ruled illegal under federal law.  Even when the “perpetrator” is a California resident.

The L.A. Times, in a somewhat melodramatic tone, writes “Dying woman loses medical marijuana appeal“.

It’s decisions like these which remind me: the original settlers of the 13 colonies were a peachy bunch who were so conservative and rigid that they were basically driven out of England as being intolerable prigs.