My last post was June 2016. Frankly, I just didn’t feel like posting much this past summer and fall. While I don’t write much on my posts I find it more laborious than rewarding. Even my photography was getting stale, and I love photos.
I have been cooking a bit and certainly busted out a killer Thanksgiving spread but was spared from cooking during Christmas. I seem to always want to make more and more stuff and it gets out of hand. The feedback from those feasts is worth the labor and planning.
There is a great series on NetFlix called “Cooked”. Author Mike Pollan explores various aspect of cooking from the themes Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. He gives a sort of history of various cultures and how the invention of fire, pots, fermentation, bacteria, stews and air changed food forever. It was pretty inspirational to think about how far our foods have deviated from their basic forms. Shortcuts come at the expense of nourishment. The idea is to consume as few ingredients as possible. For example, last night I made a simple marinara using only tomatoes, garlic, basil, and onion. Look on the label of a store-bought jar of sauce and it has 30 ingredients.
This year I am going to try to stick to the butcher, produce, and dairy sections of the grocery store and spend a little more time with the fewest amount of ingredients as possible.
There is a little joint in Cabo San Lucas that sells Cuban cigars and Cuban Rum Mojitos, it’s called J&J’s. They have only two small tables and two small leather chairs. When you breech the door you are punched in the face with the smoke and smells of freshly lit Cuban cigars.
Over to the right is a small little set up to make the most incredible Mojitos you will ever taste. They cram the shaker with a massive handful of mint, a tablespoon of minced ginger, about 1 to 2 tablespoons of Turbinado sugar. She pours in about a jigger of fresh lime juice and muddles it for a few minutes. Then you pick either 3 or 5 year Cuban Rum. She adds a touch of bitters and tops it with seltzer water. We got ours to go and wandered over to Gus’s Taco joint to enjoy some Mexican Street Tacos.
Below is my attempt to recreate the J&J Mojitos. The only difference is that I don’t have Cuban Rum.
Ingredients for 2 large Mojitos
Juice of 6 limes
5 jiggers of rum
2 tbs of turbinado sugar
1 tbs of minced ginger
Handful of fresh mint
two dashes of bitters
Homemade Tandoor Oven
While poking around some sites looking for some tandoor chicken recipes, I happened upon a video where a guy built his own tandoor oven using clay flower pots. http://www.simplenick.com He was even cooking his naan bread on the inner walls of the clay pot. I was hooked and decided to make it a little Saturday project. I will be posting a recipe I used for the inaugural burn.
The tandoor oven is a staple in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Think wood fired grill but instead of putting your protein on the grill grates you use long skewers and put them in the fire letting them cook without touching anything. The protein gets little crusty edges but remains juicy and tender.
I bought the biggest pot I could find but I wish it was deeper. Then I found another pot that would fit nicely in the bottom of my largest pot with the center holes aligning. As an extra safety precaution I added a pot base with holes on the outside to feed the fire with air but not let the ashes fall out of the bottom.
For cleaning convenience I bought a little bucket that could be lifted in and out of the “oven”. That way I could get the fire going and then lower it into the base and then when completed burned out, I would pull it out to clean in it.
For the last pot that goes over the top of the second pot you will need to get a saw and cut the “lid” or opening.
I used a dull saw and snapped a piece on my final cut. I also added washers and a bolt as a handle so I could open and close the oven. Fill the largest pot with river rock, lava rock etc… This will act as insulation and keep the pots hot. Mine got up to 700 degrees by using oak lump charcoal.
If I dont find a bigger, deeper pot I will start using my smaller skewers that have a loop on the end. I will then hang those from one that sits across the opening. I will put a little notch to keep the main skewer steady. I will take a picture next time I fire up for a visual of what I am talking about.
Chicken Lettuce Taco
I grilled up three chicken breasts the other day (see Chicken Kale Salad) for some lunches this week. I had a salad yesterday so decided to go Mexican today. While at Central Market the other day a guy was handing out samples of a salsa called Happy Tomato Fresh Salsa . My wife brought a jar home and I tried it for the first time and it’s really great. All natural and organic with a lot of locally sourced ingredients. Very fresh and it reminds of La Taqueria in College Station ages ago. www.happy-tomato.com
Organic Free Range Chicken Breast
Organic unrefined Coconut Oil
Penzey’s Buttermilk Seasoning
Penzey’s Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave Chicken and Fish Seasoning (lemon peel, K Salt, Pepper, garlic, onion)
Smidge of Kosher salt
Happy Tomato Fresh Salsa
I made the chicken the day prior and cut it up and served cold. Avocado sliced and diced with lime juice to keep from browning. Happy Tomato Fresh Salsa or anything that is organic, sugar and chemical free.
Assemble like tacos or fajitas.
Garlic Green Beans
Super easy and healthy green bean recipe where garlic, onions and butter help bring it all together.
6 cloves of Garlic
6 green onions
1.5 tbs of Organic Butter or Ghee
In a small saucepan put your minced garlic, diced green onions and butter/ghee and saute until soft. Add a pinch of Kosher Salt.
Cook your green beans by boiling them or steaming them until they are done to your liking. Then combine everything in a bowl and serve.