Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey egg roll "tostadas" with cranberries and hoisin

Inspired by my favorite TV chef, Ming Tsai. I made these with Thanksgiving leftovers, but one could probably make something similar substituting oil or butter for the turkey fat, white wine for the stock, and ground turkey (or beef or pork) for the leftover turkey. In that case, brown the meat with the onions rather than adding at the end. You could also cut the egg-roll wrappers or use won-ton wrappers to make smaller versions for appetizers.

Serves 4 as appetizer, 2 as main course

1 small onion, diced
1 TBSP minced fresh ginger
1/2 c. cranberries
1/2 c. hoisin sauce
4 egg roll wrappers
canola or other vegetable oil
homemade turkey stock, fat from the top removed and reserved
2 c. leftover turkey, diced
1 green onion, sliced thin

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Heat a little of the reserved turkey fat in a small-to-medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once reasonably hot, add onion and ginger and sauté for several minutes.

3. Deglaze with a bit of stock, then add cranberries and hoisin sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan.

4. Once oven preheats, brush each side of the egg roll wrappers with vegetable oil, lay flat on a baking sheet and put in oven.

5. After 5 minutes, check egg roll wrappers; they probably won't be browned & crispy quite yet, but remove them if they are. Add turkey to saucepan and re-cover. Check wrappers every 1-2 minutes; remove once they are brown and crispy.

6. Spoon 1/4 of the turkey mixture onto each wrapper and garnish with green onions.

Chocolate pancakes with olive oil

A Sunday morning favorite in our house. Pretty much adopted from Jose Made In Spain. The olive oil (both in the batter and on the skillet) gives them a slightly crisp surface and a bit of a change in flavor from the usual butter pancakes. Everyone else eats them with maple syrup but I prefer strawberry preserves.

1 1/2 c. white flour
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. buttermilk OR 1 TBSP cider vinegar mixed into enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups total
1 egg
olive oil
about 1 oz. chocolate, chopped up into fairly small pieces

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, creating a slight depression in the center.

2. Pour the buttermilk or soured milk into the depression, crack the egg in, then pour in some extra-virgin olive oil (I probably use about 2 TBSP, but I've never measured it). Start whisking the liquid ingredients together, slowly incorporating the dry. Mix until just combined.

3. Fold in the chopped-up chocolate.

4. Heat your pancake griddle. Once it's hot, drizzle a little olive oil over the surface and ladle the pancake batter on by scant 1/4 cups. Cook as usual for pancakes, repeating the drizzle of olive oil for each batch.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Penne with chestnuts, apples and cream

A week or two ago, while dragging the younger kid on a grocery shopping trip, he found a bucket of chestnuts, became fascinated, and insisted that we buy some. Since the first rule of Getting Kids to Try New Foods is to purchase anything they show even remote interest in in the grocery store, I did. Last Sunday I roasted them (in the oven — no open fires in Vermont this time of year), and everyone ate a few as appetizers, but we ended up with some leftovers.

This dish could also be made with chestnuts from a jar — in fact, I recommend it. Cooking chestnuts yourself is kind of a pain in the ass unless you have children and/or a non-cooking spouse who you can put to work doing the peeling (they need to be peeled while still hot).

The recipe (serves 2)

1/2 lb penne
1 TBSP butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, cut into smallish chunks
1-2 tsp dried rubbed sage (or 1-2 TBSP fresh, minced)
pinch of cloves
1/2 cup cooked chestnuts, cut or broken into smallish pieces
splash of white wine or vermouth
good glug of cream (I think I used about 1/4 c.)
salt to taste

1. Put some heavily salted water on the boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, dice or chop all the other ingredients.

2. When the water is looking like it might boil fairly soon (small bubbles), melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.

3. Once butter is melted, add onions, stir to coat, and cook for several minutes.

4. While onions are cooking, your water should boil. Add the pasta.

5. A few minutes after the pasta has been cooking, add the apples, sage and cloves. Cook for several minutes.

6. Add the chestnuts, cook for another minute or two.

7. Add the white wine, scrape up any browned bits if you're using a non-non-stick pan, boil until wine is almost gone. Add a bit of the pasta water and the cream to make a saucy consistency, not too thick.

8. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water. Add pasta to pan with sauce and toss to coat. Add a little of reserved pasta water if sauce is too thick.

* * *

Meanwhile, the kids (since they wouldn't come anywhere near anything with sage and onions) were assigned to make their own leftover plates. The younger one found some leftover plain penne in the fridge, and somewhat over-microwaved it, creating an edible fused pasta hanging sculpture:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My political compass

I was perusing PunkAssBlog, and came across the political compass test. Here are my results:

To be honest, I scored a little more libertarian than I expected to.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Studs Terkel and the old, old left

Studs Terkel died last night. Here's an obituary. A master of "the rich art of taking the vernacular, and making it eternal."

I (sort of) met Studs Terkel once. He was speaking at a university where I worked, and where my co-workers and I were trying to organize a union. During the question and answer period, in a shameless ploy to advertise our efforts at this (hopefully sympathetic) gathering, I essentially asked him what he thought about this. He didn't hear very well, he didn't catch any of the particulars, but he waved his arms about a bit and lectured the crowd on the great benefits of the labor movement, and made a great show of signing the authorization card I handed him and putting on one of our buttons.

* * *

My high school friend P was from England — he moved to the heart of the "red states" in junior high. The Labor Party was still marginally socialist in those days before the famous TONY BLAIR, MP = I'M TORY PLAN B anagram. The guy probably never read a word of Marx in his life, but he came with this basic, English working-class understanding — predating even the "old left" of the Communist Party and the Russian revolution — that capitalism benefits the rich, socialism benefits the workers.