Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Grandmother's Alabama Chile

This recipe was given to me by my late mother-in-law and it is my "go-to" recipe for when I'm: sick, tired, sick and tired, sick of being tired, get it.  This dish is delicious, dead easy, nutritious, and cheap.  What's better than that?

You need these ingredients.
Rotel.  You must use Rotel chile and tomatoes.  I know everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line knows about Rotel, but maybe it's universal now.  It should be.
Kidney beans.  I don't know whether any other bean would work, but this was in the recipe given to me and I've never strayed.
Ground beef.  I like Chuck.  It tastes good.  I buy my own chuck roasts and grind my own ground beef with my Cuisinart mixer grinder attachment, but I'm the only nut I know who does that.  If you use chuck from the store, you probably will need to drain it.
Diced tomatoes.  If you really like pica, or "spiciness" as the Yankees call it, you can use another can of Rotel.  Otherwise, use the diced tomatoes.
And an onion.  This onion was rotten in the middle, but I am not squeamish and cut the rotten part out and used the rest.  NBD.
I love to use my Kmart wok for this kind of thing.  Heats quickly, doesn't splatter, holds a lot.  Put some olive oil in there and add the onions.  Cook until slightly transparent.
Add the ground beef and brown it up good.
Drain the beans and give them a quick rinse.

Add the Rotel, tomatoes, and beans to the browned beef.
A little salt, and cover it up.  Let it cook on low for about 10 minutes.


If you don't have tortillas, I'm sorry for you, but this is a nice alternative.

Now toast your tortillas.  This is the difference between a good tortilla and a really delicious one.  You can do this on an electric element, too.  Wrap them in foil until ready to serve, preferably with real butter and a salad.  And some nice red wine.

Ahhhh.  Much better now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Elizabeth's Mint Sauce for Lamb

Besides Plum Pudding at Christmas, the only thing I know for certain was a recipe used by my English/New Zealander grandmother Elizabeth Pressland Fletcher is this one, for Mint Sauce.  I can hardly eat lamb chops without it.  And don't even mention Mint Jelly!  My mother had a special little face and an emphatic "Yeeech" for that.
You start with fresh mint leaves.  Wash 'em and chop them up really fine. 

Take those leaves and put them in a glass bowl or sauce pitcher.  If it's not heat resistant, leave a metal spoon in it to absorb some of the heat when you add boiling water.
Add a good amount of sugar, then

                     half of that amount of salt.

Then cover your mint with boiling hot water and stir.  Let it steep for about 10 minutes.

      After it has steeped 10 minutes, add three  or four tablespoons of vinegar.  I have used white, apple cider, and balsamic vinegar.  I think I like the apple cider the best, but it's all good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Steak a la Tampiquena, a La Hacienda

Please pretend that there is a "tilde" on the n in Tampiquena.  I can't figure out how to get it to type on this post.  But you should know that the word is pronounced "tampeekaynya" and it means "like the women from Tampico make it".  Which is really, really, good.
There is a long-closed restaurant in our town.  Whenever its name is invoked,  people who loved it get almost teary.  We miss the homey, dignified ambience of the old building right by the bend of the Rio Grande, we miss Manuel and Carlos and Jesus, who worked there when we were babies and when we took our babies.  I've run into those guys, in hospital elevators and in the line at Home Depot, and they ask about my folks.  And my children. God bless them.

This was my favorite dish. It's so wonderful because it's just beef and some natural ingredients, a cena made with what they had on hand.  Beautiful!

You start with thin little steaks.  Round steaks, sirloin steaks, it really doesn't matter too much.  Just as long as it's beef.  And very thin.
I used eye of round for these.  I seasoned them with Great American Land and Cattle Co. Steak seasoning.

Then I pounded them, and cut the tough silver skin on the outside edge so they wouldn't curl.

I browned them in olive oil on a very hot skillet.

Then put them in a pan to keep warm and  wait for the rest.

You will need to have roasted and peeled and seeded green chile,  1 for each steak, or have bought some green chile that was ready to be peeled and seeded, but unless you're desperate, don't use canned chile.  Just not the same and pretty much ruins the dish.  Canned chile is like taking a bath with your socks on.  What's the point?  No, no. no.

Heat up your beef cooking pan and put some oil in it.   Add the chile, onion, and let that brown up a little, then add tomato, oregano, garlic powder (a tiny bit, this isn't Italian) and let that cook a while, then add beef or chicken broth or stock, or, if you've really browned the pan well, just plain old water..  I like the stock (from a store) best, but you don't have to have it.

Oregano, fresh is good but dry is fine.

FYI, these are the best tomatoes for Mexican food.  Yes, I know, canned and what I said before not withstanding, I think these were the tomatoes the restaurant used.  That's why.

  Stir that up and add a some beef stock or broth.  Chicken would work just as well.  Or water, if you've browned the pan well.
Let it cook for abut 5 minutes and pour it over the cooked steaks.  Now they can just wait  until you're ready to serve.

Okay, now earlier you have cooked your beans, we've done that in a previous post, and you're going to make some Refritos.  Refried beans, and here's how that works.  Take some lard.  Yes, I just said lard.  Just a little, like a large tablespoon full.  That isn't enough to hurt anyone, and it gives beans the taste they should have.   Gotta do it.

Put beans in the hot lard and let it cook a few minutes, then start mashing them up.  Mash and smash, but I don't like to puree every bean.  Leave a few whole so people know what they're eating. When they are smashed to your liking, put some Monterrey Jack cheese on top.  Done!  No,.... wait.  Here's the last thing.  You must, must, must put avocado slices on top of the steaks and sauce when served.   And spoon plenty of juice over the steaks with the chile, tomato, etc.   This is actually a nice supper for entertaining.  You can do it all ahead and just serve when you're good and ready, maybe after a few copitas.

When you serve it you can add Sopa de Arroz or not, but for real La Hacienda style, you need some very good bollios.  Orale!

Steak a Tampiquena, a La Hacienda

Round  steak, eye of round, or any thin beef steak.
Roasted, peeled and cleaned  green chiles
sliced onion
canned tomatoes (SanBenito Whole Peeled)
beef stock
avocado slices 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

64 Blondies in a Hurry

As if the title of this blog didn't convey the idea enough, let me be clear: I'm impatient. And a procrastinator.  Not a good combination.  Nor qualities to be proud of, but it's an unchangeable part of my genetic make-up, without a doubt.  And, uh-oh, I signed up to bake for a church bake sale in a moment of .....optimism. 
Now here's how to make 64 Blondies in a big rush.
You need a half-sheet pan.   I use these constantly.  Spray it with Pam.
Then put a sheet of parchment paper on top.  The Pam holds it to the pan.  I buy sheet parchment paper on ebay.
Then spray your parchment paper with Pam, too.  This is one of those steps that's okay to leave out, but I usually do it.

Then, take 4 sticks of butter, softened, and a full bag of brown sugar.  Or 4 cups of brown sugar.Put them in the mixing bowl with the butter and add a big glug of vanilla and a nickel size pile of salt. 

By the way, my vanilla bottle looks like that because I make my own vanilla elixir with vodka and vanilla beans. Another post, someday.
So now, start the mixer and go turn on the oven to 350.
Add four eggs, one at a time to the sugar /butter mixture.  When that is thoroughly mixed, you can start adding Self-Rising Flour.  If you don't have SR flour, add 3 tsp. baking powder at the end.
Add SR flour till it's really stiff, about 5cups.

Then you can add chocolate chips.  Or instead, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.  Your choice, but not both.  I added the chocolate, no debate there, because I had the chips.  Spread it out on the parchment paper using a wet spatula, and throw it in the oven for 30 minutes, or until cracks on top don't shine.   That is, they are NOT WET.

Now here comes the important part, the cutting.

Take the trusty Pam and spray your knife or use a pizza cutter.  Start by cutting in half.  Then each half in half, and so on, until you have 7 cuts each way, vertical and horizontal.  So now you have a #$%load of cookies to take to whatever event you are obligated to do so, and in about 40 minutes.  Or you could eat them.