C’s Hot Wings!

My attempt at plating. Anyway, you get the idea. Wings and drumettes with sauce.

Alright, I meant to put this up before the Super Bowl, but I got waylaid by Chinese New Year’s festivities (stay tuned for a future posting).  So football season is now officially over.  But really, who needs to watch grown men running around in skin tight pants, head butting each other in order to enjoy spicy and delicious chicken wings?  I, for one, do not.  And neither should you.  It’s always the right time for hot wings.

Here’s the recipe (as usual, quantities are suggested):

Ingredients:
8 oz chipotle peppers in adobo (or from 1/2 cup to 3/4 – depending on how spicy you want it)
2 – 3 tsp to of fish sauce
1-2 tsp of vinegar
1 tbsp of ginger
1-2 tsp of garlic
2-3 tbsp of plain yogurt
2 1/2 lbs of chicken wings

Here’s how you do it:

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Lahmacun and Sarmale

This past weekend found us taking a culinary trip from Turkey to Romania all from the comfort of our own kitchen.

Saturday Night = Turkey Night

As is often the case, Shefali suggested and I executed.  In this case, she suggested that  I make lahmacun, a flat bread “pizza” with a topping of ground meat  and spices for a potluck party we were attending on Saturday night,.  Now depending on whom you talk to, lahmacun (pronounced: lah-ma-joon) is either of Turkish or Armenian origins.  I don’t  want to get into the particular complications of the conflicted relationship between Turkey and it’s Armenian citizens, but one thing they do share in common is this delicious savory snack/meal (I say “meal” because because once you try it, you might not be able to refrain from eating just a snack like portion).  You can also find lahmacun in Lebanese and Syrian restaurants and bakeries.  I consulted a couple recipes for inspiration: a Saveur Magazine recipe and a recipe from a Turkish cook book by Özcan Ozan, the chef owner of The Sultan’s Kitchen, a Turkish restaurant in Boston.  Then I just kind of did my own thing.  Again proving the versatility of the sourdough starter, I used the sourdough for which I was originally intending to make baguettes and then re-purposed for the flat bread.  It added a nice extra tang and chewiness. Here’s what the lahmacun looked like:

uncooked lahamcun - basically spicy meat paste spread over dough

after baking for about 10 minutes at 475 degrees F. Smelled just like Turkey! In other words, it smelled deliciously of spiced savory lamb

Lamahcun waiting station. Packing them up for the poluck.

Sunday Night = Romania Night

A fun game that we often play in our house is naked twister. But when we get bored of that we play another game called “what the hell should we do with all this cabbage in our fridge?” And fortunately our CSA gives us ample opportunity to play this game.  Case in point, our last pick up we got three different types of cabbage: a red cabbage with which I made my patented cole slaw, a napa cabbage for which I already assigned supporting role duty in Shanghai chow mein.  That left me with one more head of cabbage, an arrowhead cabbage (?) that I had to figure out how to cook.  Solution: sarmale, or Romanian style stuffed cabbage.  I’m dating myself here, but I first sampled sarmale in Romania when I was shooting a “documentary” about the origins of Dracula and vampires,  which served as bonus material  on the DVD release of one of the finest movies ever made: Underworld – yeah that vampires v. werewolves movie staring Kate Beckinsale. Well, at least it got me to Romania where I remember the food being really, hearty, rustic (raw bacon? yes please) and delicious.   Case in point: the stuffed cabbage dish called sarmale.  Stuffing cabbage with meat and other ingredients is not unique to Romania.   According to Wikipedia, sarma as it is also called has it’s origins in the Ottoman Empire which makes complete sense if you consider all the the countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that have stuffed cabbage.  They were all under the influence directly or indirectly (or just by proximity) to the Ottoman Empire.  Isn’t history cool?  Anyway, I consulted a number of recipes on the web and basically incorporated a bunch of them to suit my needs and capabilities.  Some recipes called for using sauerkraut which I didn’t have, so I blanched the cabbage leaves in water and vinegar before using them to wrap the meat mixture ( a combination of ground pork, lamb and beef mixed with rice, spices, onions, garlic and celery).  The end result? Delicios! (uh, that’s Romanian for “delicious”)

Sarmale - cabbage is stuffed and ready to be cooked

Sarmale in the pot and simmered slowly in broth and a bit of tomato paste

The sarmale after cooking in the oven for about an hour at about 350?.

We cooked for our friends Ben and Maria visiting from out of town. Ben, who's Jewish said the sarmale reminde him of food his mom cooks. Mission accomplished. I always knew I'd make a great Jewish mother.

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PK’s Yeast Infection…

… fortunately it’s of the sourdough variety – as in Matt’s sourdough starter.  Sure, PK’s been in possession of the starter for a while and indeed has become quite the waffle master, but until this past week, PK had yet to make a loaf of bread. That changed this past weekend when PK attempted his first loaf. Now he’s got the bread bug, and  bad. For the first loaf, perhaps he bit off a bit more than he could chew, attempting a full wheat loaf which came out super dense owing to the fact that he used too much wheat flour (I think two cups). Here’s a picture.

PK's very first loaf: dense wheat (with a shape only a mother could love)

PK says he got through about half of this loaf before he realized he just couldn’t eat something more dense than several of the heavy metals on the periodic table combined.  But not to be deterred, he quickly got back on his horse and baked another loaf which according to all accounts -namely PK’s – he nailed.  Here’s his spin on the recipe:

1/4 c starter
1 5/8 c water
3 1/4 c flour
1/4 c wheat flour
3 tsp kosher salt
Sprinkled with cornmeal
Oven 475-480
20 mins with lid

15-20 mins without lid

Behold...PK's second (perfect - according to PK) loaf.

PK's second loaf has a nice airy quality

And as an added bonus, here’s a short vid of PK thoroughly enjoying his bread. Here’s to many more perfect loaves in the future, PK.  Welcome to the club.

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C’s loaf… of meat!

So it’s been a while since I’ve put up a food video and recipe but the time is right.  We’re in the thick of winter right now and what better way to enjoy the cold weather outside then being in the kitchen, turning on the oven and cooking up some meatloaf.  Oh yeah!  And this recipe will definitely put some fat on your bones so you don’t freeze when you go outside.  Think of it as a winter jacket for your insides.  Alright, for the full recipe as well as the story behind my meatloaf inspiration, click on the meatloaf below.

Why yes, that is bacon on top.

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Sourdough Baby!

Alright you all.  This post is decidedly anti “zone diet“.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore protein and delicious meat, but this post and page is all about the carbs.  Last month, I went back to the Bay for the holidays and came back to NYC bearing a very special gift.  The gift of sourdough starter bequeathed to me so generously from Matt aka Dumpling King (though now I would also dub him The Earl of Sourdough).  And since then, it’s fair to say I’ve been a little bit obsessed – obsessed with maintaining and tending the starter and baking the perfect sourdough loaf.  I’m happy to say the maintenance of the starter is going pretty well, because I’m a nurturing kind of guy.  The bread?  Well I’m still working on that.  Click on the image below for the full story behind the starter and my obsession with sourdough.

this is how much Matt loves his starter

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