Archive for October, 2008

The Penguin. Similar to Pellegrino. Less carbon.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

So much has been written about bottled water. The sheer volume of plastic or glass in the landfill. The absurdity of paying a premium for repackaged city water stored in mysterious plastics. Even more unsettling, just consider the carbon footprint involved in transporting a product like San Pellegrino water from Italy to the US. Water is heavy to begin with, add the glass and packaging, float it across the Atlantic then truck it to your local Costco; let’s just admit that there are hidden costs that really should restrain your initial glee at the unbelievable $10 case price.

Nonetheless, I, along with so many others, am addicted to agua con gas.

Strike back with The Penguin. This device makes carbonated water at home on a reasonable scale and at a very low cost. With filtered water (Brita or ilk) and the glass carafes most of the obvious health issues are covered, the price is right, and the end result delicious.

Chile #2. My green chile. With heresy.

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

With last week’s bounty in hand here’s my recipe for green chile. It’s a sort of New Orleans take on the classic, and doubtless would be viewed with some suspicion by Southwestern traditionalists. I start with a roux, a red-brown roux to be exact, and keep the spicing simple in order to highlight the perfect flavor of those Hatch mediums. Of course you can use any other chile pepper, but at your peril.

Green Chile

  1. 2 Tb oil
  2. 2 Tb flour
  3. 1 cup (about 8 oz by weight) Hatch medium chiles
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  6. 1 cup light chicken stock + 1 cup water
  7. 1/4 tsp cumin
  8. 1/4 tsp oregano
  9. salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-hgh flame. Slowly add flour when hot, stirring constantly. The roux will turn smooth and start to color. You are aiming for a color a little lighter than peanut butter – watch carefully and toss in onion at this point to slow cooking. Turn down heat, add garlic, and cook for a minute more. Add the chiles and stock and stir well. Season initially then simmer for about 20 minutes, reducing only slightly. Correct seasonings. Serve with beans, eggs, tortillas, fried potatoes, etc.

A true Southerner would add a dash of Tabasco, but that is only because a true Southerner adds a dash of Tabasco to everything.

Add Heresy

Purists shudder, but this is really good with about a cup of tomato added. If you are feeling lazy use a can of Rotels, but be sure to peel and seed fresh tomatoes. Simmer a few minutes more, and use as above.

Sources

Hilltop Gardens, by way of my freezer

Fall signs. Last Hatch chiles. Freeze ‘em!

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Green chile is a fall tradition, there’s still time to hit the road looking for chile stands. In the Denver area try Federal Blvd, about anywhere from Thornton south, just follow your nose. The less adventurous can consult Denver Green Chili, a great listing of chile stands in the Denver metro area. I’ve always been partial to Hatch Medium chiles, so I was happy to pick up one of the last half bushels of the season from Hilltop Gardens at Federal & 96th.

After selection, the chiles were roasted on the spot then sealed in a plastic bag. Chilies are generally peeled before use, about 30 minutes steaming in the bag leaves them in optimum peeling condition.  Apparently some purists freeze without peeling, but I prefer to get the hard work out of the way by peeling and portioning the harvest up front. As in all things, your mileage may vary, but it certainly saves time later.

Peeling a half bushel is nothing to an aficionado, but it’s a daunting task if you do it only once or twice a year. I recommend using a sharp knife to scrape off the charred skin, then cut off the stem end but leave the chile whole. Chiles freeze well in any size Ziploc bag, but for maximum flexibility I put about half in 8 oz. portions in quart bags and the remaining half with 4 oz. portions in sandwich-sized bags. For best results use freezer bags and squeeze out any excess air before sealing.

Sources

Hilltop Gardens

Got eggplant? NYT to rescue. Turkish-style.

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

I clipped an interesting recipe from the NYT a few weeks ago: Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant, and Yogurt Sauce, and as luck would have it Red Wagon Organic Farm brought irresistable japanese eggplants to market. The recipe called for greek yogurt; hmmm, there’s ground lamb in the freezer and a new tub of Fage 0% – let’s cook. I executed the recipe with a few riffs that reduced the brown butter sauce and incorporated a little more yogurt, the results were outstanding. Aleppo pepper is worth seeking out – Penzeys carries it and describes it as “an ancho-like flavor with a little more heat and tartness.” Perfect here, and at home wherever you would use classic red pepper flakes.

Sources

Red Wagon Organic Farm

Top Chef. Boulder chefs compete. Good luck.

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Boulder chefs Hosea Rosenberg (executive chef, Jax) and Melissa Harrison (sou chef, Centro) will compete against 17 hopefuls on the 5th season of Top Chef. This show is a guilty pleasure, and once again it looks like the talent is deep enough to make up for the silly challenges and bombastic hosting. It’s worth noting that both chefs are part of Dave Query’s empire, good luck to them.

Read more in this Daily Camera article.