Monthly Archives: September 2005

Paper Chef #11 Nominations open…

It is time to kick off the 11th installment of the Paper Chef. I am getting rather overloaded lately so I am taking up Stephen’s offer to host as well as judge this time around. I’ll kick it off by putting up the current ingredient list here, but he will pick it up and post properly himself shortly and you should nominate ingredients to him, etc. The nomination deadline is next Thursday evening (October 6th) and the event will start Friday October 7th.

Here is the current initial list before new additions: Summer squash, star anise, scallops, cherries, wasabi, pears, fresh coconut, something you get from a neighbour’s garden, walnuts, lavender, nut butter, tofu, parsnips, sweetcorn, duck and little fishes.

An indian feast.

Indian Dinner Copyright Owen Linderholm 2005

It’s no secret that I’m fond of Indian food and that my family is too. As with everything I have my favorites and perhaps the single most favorite dish is from the inimitable Madhur Jaffrey.

It is to be found in her wonderful book, “Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.” I especially like this book because it is designed for ordinary home cooks in a hurry. Substitutions are made or recommended for difficult-to-find Indian ingredients and the dishes really are all easy to prepare. It is also one of the few cookbooks I own from which I have never ever made a dud.

So the backbone of dinner was the easy grilled chicken. This is a huge family favorite. However I had to make it without yoghurt and so I was forced to improvise a bit. I decided to venture afield for the other mainstays of this meal. On a recent trip to London we went on one of the truly fantastic Original London Walks tours. This one was “A Slice of India” and is basically a tour of Southall given by Monisha Bharadwaj who it turns out has also written a nice, also simple, Indian cookbook called “Stylish Indian in Minutes.”

I liked the look of a dish with peas, mustard seeds and coconut so I adapted it fairly heavily to go with the beet greens and kale that I had.

Finally, I turned for the rice to that trusty rice cooker savior, Beth Hensperger. (Also bread machine and crockpot saviour – her books about these machines are literally the best there are. If you own one, just get her book and learn afresh just what they are capable of). Anyway, I adapted a yellow Indian pilau from her book, “The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook.”

I made pretty hefty changes to all these recipes so I am giving my versions here…with the exception of the grilled chicken. The original can’t be beat – I didn’t have yoghurt and it showed. Just make the original. You’ll make it again and again and again…I di, however, add four asian eggplants cut into quarters lengthways in the pan as I grilled/roasted and they absorbed some of the spices. I was going to mash them up with the remaining pan juices/sauces as a spicy eggplant dip, but the starving hordes polished the whole lot off…

Yellow Pilau Rice

Grilled Indian Chicken and Yellow Pilau Rice Copyright Owen Linderholm 2005

You’ll need two small onion, a tablespoon of mustard seed, a tablespoon of cumin seed, a tablespoon of ground turmeric, two cups basmati rice and some chicken stock and butter. Turn the rice cooker on and set it to cook as if rice were already in it. Put three tablespoons of butter in the cooker to melt and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once the butter is melted and starting to get hot, chop the onions up finely and stir them in. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally for ten minutes. Then stir in the rice and the turmeric coating everything thoroughly until the rice is also getting hot. Now add 3 and a half cups of chicken stock and salt to taste and put the lid on the cooker and leave to cook the rice normally. Once the rice cooker is done, fluff the rice with a fork when ready to serve.

Coconut-Cumin Greens

Indian Greens Copyright Owen Linderholm 2005

I used a bunch of beet greens and a bunch of dino kale (cavalo negro I believe), but you can use any greens really. You’ll also want one small whole chilli, a tablespoon of cumin seeds, a tablespoon of mustard seeds, some salt and some lemon juice. Put a couple of tablespoons of oil (I used olive) in a large skillet and heat on high. Drop in the seeds and the whole chilli. Meanwhile wash and chop the greens. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, add the greens and spend a couple of minutes stirring them in until they start to wilt and reduce. Now add the lemon and the salt to taste (about a teaspooon of salt and a tablespoon of lemon juice). Keep cooking until the greens are thoroughly wilted. Remove the chilli pepper and serve.

Cuisine Rapide

I’m stealing the title for this post from Pierre Franey, one of my all time favorite cookbook chefs. He really gets what it takes to make a meal at home for dinner several nights a week in contrast to so many cookbook chefs who seem to think I have three hours a day to devote to the complex preparation for a mis-en-place for their frou-frou recipes with multiple complex reductions. Probably my favorite of his books is Cuisine Rapide.

Anyway, I hope to emulate his spirit in the cooking I do for regular weeknight meals. I have a 9-5 ish job so I really am rushed when I get home and I don’t get to do marketing exactly when I want so sometimes I don’t really have the ingredients that I need. But sometimes I do…

Last night I had some pork shoulder blade chops and a lot of oddments. I browned the pork chops before I left for work and threw them in the slow cooker with four hastily and roughly chopped tomatoes, two chopped cloves of garlic, two chopped onions, a teaspoon of herbes de provence, a splash of red wine, some salt. At five I added two cans of butter beans, two tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes in oil, half a cup of top-notch barbecue sauce, another splash of red wine and I put rice on in the rice cooker. Then I ran the kids to swim practice. When I got back I sauteed greens by my usual arcane methods and served it all up. It was all very very tasty. The trick with the slow cooker (crockpot) is to minimise the additional liquids early in the cooking and to put in STRONG flavors. The pork I have to say was like buttah!

What I did with the produce…

I haven’t used it all yet. I test roasted some of the peanuts – they take a LOT of roasting in the shell. But the kids liked them.

I made some spicy pesto using one bunch of basil, a head of garlic, an ancho chile, olive oil, parmesan reggiano, breadcrumbs, lemon juice and salt. I used the roma tomatoes up several ways – probably the best was fried in bacon grease for breakfast along with the bacon of course. Next best was cut in halves and roasted int eh oven topped with half a teaspoon of the pesto each and served with mashed potatoes and a salad of the spicy cress made with olive oil and lemon juice and salt.

I used one kind of green and some of the thai basil in making a thai soup with leftover chicken and chicken stock and tofu and red peppers and fish sauce and coconut milk and jalapenos and ginger and two lemongrass stalks – that was pretty good too.

So there it is…the report on what I made! Oh – I forgot – I also made a dip for a party Friday night – basically like the pesto but with more spicy pepper and less garlic and more lemon juice – that was eaten with the nicy crusty baguette I got at the market as well.

Today at the Farmers Market

I think I’m going to be a regular at the Oakland Farmer’s Market. I got two pounds of a mysterious asian green that tastes a lot like sorrel. I got six large fresh lemongrass stalks. I got two pounds of fresh basil and a pound of fresh thai basil. I got a bunch of cilantro. I got a quarter of a pound more of the wonderful mustardy peppery cress I got last time. I got three pounds of roma tomatoes. I got a pound and a half of FRESH peanuts (to boil and roast). I got two pounds of another unknown asian green. I got a still-warm crusty crunch baguette. Total cost – $16. I also got two tamales for lunch from the tamale vendor. One traditional wiith pork and tomatillas and one Oaxaca chicken mole wrapped in banana leaves. $4.75 with nine different kinds of free salsa.

Peaches – even organic – were running $1 per pound but I got there too late – what was left was kind of manky.

I’m making some thai food this weekend (the sorrelly green vendor threw in some jalapenos for free) I expect and some pesto and some greens. Have a good weekend everyone!

Paper Chef Roundup at last

I’m sorry for the delay in getting the roundup done. It had nothing to do with the fact that we had a record-breaking 19 entries all anchored in the spirit of doing a little something to simultaneously celebrate New Orleans and contribute a little. Instead it was to do with me getting a little overwhelmed with other projects. I’m proud of being a part of the food blogging community for the way it has stepped up to help in ways like this one and in encouraging general donations and specific aid for restaurant workers and restaurants. Of course, as you will see if you read to the end, I was right to wait this long….

I really love”>Paper Chef #10 Ingredients”>Paper Chef #10 Beer-smoked Creole Hot Sausages
Paper Chef #10 Louisiana Hearts of Gold
Paper Chef #10 Akudjura and Cajun Prawn Cocktail
Belly Timber where Chopper Dave and Mrs. Deedop rule the roost with a unique sense of humor, fun and whimsy. Except this time. They opened their hearts to us this time and really dug deep just to enter and pointed us to some passionate links about poverty and devastation. They made us Chopper’s Northwestern Jambalaya and Stuffed biscuits with spicy gravy.

Shauna’s Gluten-Free Girl is a new food blog to me but one that went straight into the rotation. She cooks fantastic things with the added handicap of remaining gluten-free. And she really put thought into her The Gumbo Pages, run by cocktail/food/politics/music blogger Chuck, one of the great contributors to Digital Dish. She wasn’t the only one to be influenced by Chuck, either as you will see.

Stephen over at Stephen Cooks, a food blog that has that crystalline professional quality I so envy really melded the theme and made it local (to him – Maine) and New Orleanian at the same time with his Beer-Boiled Shrimp Po’Boy along with his own remembrance of New Orleans and a plea to help displaced restaurant workers.

Sylvie at Soul Fusion Kitchen has the name to really get into the theme. She also has the instincts. To quote directly, “[my entry] is a simple New Orleans style soup. I followed no recipe but instead relied on my instincts.” Good instincts indeed – and this meal is ready in minutes to boot!

Charlotte at Love and Cooking didn’t have much experience with either Creole or Cajun cooking but relied on an old friend who she reports that she heard from safely after the hurricane. Her friend, Janine, gets credit in the recipe for Blading towards dinner, a Canadian food blog, was new to me and is, of course, a newcomer to the Paper Chef. This was also a tag-team effort with Paul’s friend Aaron. And what a creative entry it is too, a Beer pork and shrimp Love Sicily’s entry for the Is My Blog Burning relaunch and has more than a nod toward the paper Chef. He’s another participant inspired by Chuck’s Gumbo Pages and specifically the gumbo recipe Chuck contributed to Digital Dish. While you are there, make sure to click through to the Love Sicily main pages to see Ronald’s Sicilian vacation opportunities – they are worth the time to look even if you never get to go!

Nupur runs One Hot Stove, a fantastic Indian food blog that is one of my favorites and she actually had an entry up by Friday evening (so a long time ago now!) for a Beer Chili she made. Nupur hadn’t cooked with beer before so she was happy for the opportunity.

Mantia’s Musings is also a newcomer to the Paper Chef although not a newcomer food blog. Alyce writes from Mantia’s International Food in Memphis Tennessee and served us up a dish that contains one of my favorite Southern ingredients of all – grits. Go check out her Shrimp ‘n’ Grits Katrina!

June at June’s Blog was also a very game first time entrant who made a shrimp, sausage and tomato tempura-like dish using beer in the batter. Since she is both underage and very law-abiding, she used non-alcoholic beer.

We got a group blog entry – a really big group blog! Recipe Maven not only had a post urging people to take part, but one of the contributors, none other than capnjacksparrow contributed an exotic and suitably piratical Voodoo Bayou Balayez

Perhaps the most amazing entry was Carolyn from 18thC Cuisine (who does most if not all her cooking as if she were living in French Canada in the 18th Century) who brought us not a dish but a full day of menus.
Beignets or
Brioche or Croissants (with jam and real butter)
Café au lait

Paté de Campagne
Crusty baguette
Brie or Camembert
Fresh fruit
Bottle of wine

Chicken & Okra Gumbo (Thanks to Jan and Donna from Metarie, LA, who helped me perfect my roux)

Aaron over at the Naked Ape, another new blog to me, provided us with two recipes, a “Jambalaya” Salad with Chicory Stout Ice Cream. I have to try the chicory stout ice cream some day – that’s the kind of ice cream I can imagine getting used to! Plus he clearly prefers brewing his own stout!

Daffy’s Kitchen Crazy Daffy is a long time favorite here at the Paper Chef. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she has been known to take part even though she went away for the weekend (to Paris that time, so our admiration is tinged with envy). This time she made us a very lovely looking (wish I could get prawns that looked as nice) Asian Inspired Pesto Pasta with Drunken Prawns, Pork Frankfurters and Garlic Tomatoes for three.

Next entrant isn’t technically an entrant since he is the JUDGE! (and he has already judged – but we’ll get to that in a minute). Kevin at Kevin’s Beer Bread.

Next up is Alanna, of Veggie Venture, a blog set up specifically to cook a new vegetable every day for a month. Obviously successeses since it is now on Day 151! Alanna is also the author of a syndicated column for newspapers specifically for small-town cooks. Find out more at Kitchen Parade. Alanna made us an inspired Hurricane Rice.

Chubby Cat of Chubby Cat Cooks, planned a dish for the IMBB virtual relaunch involving beer and then checked back only to discover the Paper Chef association for this month. Too late to alter course midstrem, we bring you a delicious sounding beer-marinated lamb that unfortunately has no tomato, sausage or shrimp anywhere near it! Incidentally, Chubby Cat didn’t enter this. I found it in my vigilant hunt for all entrants.

And (not quite) finally – just to prove that I was RIGHT to wait so long to do the roundup, I got an email today from Scott at Desert Island FoodsThe Pragmatic Chef who made us a Gumbo with chicken, sausage and shrimp.

Well, as noted below, I did miss somnebody. Rachael at Fresh Approach Cooking is a professional and made an appropriately beautiful and fast dish. I couldn’t quite figure out what to call it – maybe New Orleans Style Rice Cakes with Shrimp? Anyway, Rachael is a superstar and I’m sorry to have missed her out initially.

Finally, last but not at all least – the winner(s) are already announced over at Seriously Good.

I’m certain to have missed someone despite all this delay and my hypervigilance. So give me a shout in the comments below or by email and I’ll add you in!

Sorry about the Delay

In posting the Paper Chef Roundup. I have been extraordinarily busy and for once some of it has been more important than the Paper Chef. I WILL get the roundup posted sometime over the weekend…

Celebrating New Orleans

The past week or so has been a bad one. New Orleans was one of my favorite cities for several reasons, but mostly because our visits there have all been for the right reasons and have been about people and relationships. Two weddings and a family vacation. Making new friends. Drinking good coffee. Eating beignets in the startling clear morning with rays cutting through the metal verandas in the French Quarter. Long, long drawn out home meals at the houses of friends of friends where we made new friends and celebrated old. Music and dancing and learning to love the street brass band and the new funked up sounds that the young kids are playing. Wandering through old stores and markets buying junk. Searching out the voodoo.

Oddly enough it wasn’t about the food. We had our best meals at the cheapest dives. The fancier a place tried to be the less we liked it. We never made it to the really great places – we were on other people’s time. All the best food was cooked at home. Michael’s astonishing gumbo. Jambalaya that showed me what it could be. Seafood fresh from the Gulf. Greens and red beans and rice.

Apart from the home cooking, the best meal we had was the cheapest. Crawfish boil – hot from the pot at the Royal Street Grocery. Three dollars a pound and you eat in on newspaper at a table right there in the deli so close to the refrigerators you can reach up and grab another beer.

So I was happy to get the crayfish at the market the other day in preparation for this weekend and for eating in instead of going out. For celebrating the memories past from New Orleans and the memories yet to come. Because the reason it was a great city wasn’t Mardi Gras and it wasn’t Jazzfest and it wasn’t Bourbon Street. It was the people and the place and the fact that this city was truly a cultural melting pot where black America really left a mark – for once more so than white America. In the heart of the Deep South and yet completely apart from it. Roll hundreds of years of relationships and people and abiding and enduring and living and laughing and loving and crying and music and complexity all into one. Roll them tight so they all get to know one another and understand one another even if they don’t like one another. Then do it again and again and again like a rich puff pastry of life. That was New Orleans and that is what the people who really care, who feel it in their bones will build again.

So we got four families together. We spent the day building and recovering from a different disaster – the contractor who left the job unfinished, walking away with all the money. So we all pitched in and built the framing for the garage – all four walls and up. Then we came together and ate and remembered and talked and grew angry and sad and made bad jokes about worse people and brought out our stories of New Orleans and polished them a little. This is what we ate…

Crawfish Boil

Five pounds live crawfish
Eight pounds of potatoes
five pounds (ten ears) of corn
eight small onions
two lemons
one package old bay boiling spice
two tablespoons dried thyme
one head garlic
two tablespoons coriander seed
two tablespoons fennel seed
one fresh cayenne pepper
eight fresh bay leaves
two tablespoons black peppercorns
two tablespoons herbs de provence

Crawfish Boil copyright 2005 Owen Linderholm

put about four gallons of water in your six gallon stockpot and bring it to a rolling boil (this will take at least an hour). Add all the spices and the two lemons cut into halves and the garlic. Let it boil for ten minutes. Add the potatoes cut into two inch pieces. Let it cook for 15 minutes. Add the crayfish and cook another 5 minutes. Add the corn and let it cook another 5 minutes and then turn it all off and let is sit until ready to serve HOT. (Don’t let it sit too long).

This turned out yummy and spicey and tasty and really great except for one thing – the California crawfish we got weren’t really that great. Kind of mild and not very meaty and a lot of work. But the potatoes and corn and onions were fantastic. Leftovers will become crawfish potato cakes…


You’ll want a big pot…

one and a half pounds of long grain rice
two 24 oz cans crushed organic tomatoes
two pounds red peppers (gypsy in this case)
two extremely large onions
eight cloves of garlic
one pound of very large frozen shrimp
one pound of sausages (chicken with chile and cilantro in this case)
one tablespoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
two tablespoons dried thyme
one tablespoon liquid smoke (I use an apple wood smoke)
two tablespoons tabasco sauce
two pints of beer

Dice the onions and fry gently until translucent. Crush the garlic, turn up the heat and add it. Dice the peppers and add them. Chop up the sausage and add it. Add the thyme and smoked paprika. Now stir in the rice until coated and then addd the cans of tomatoes. Keep the heat on high and add the beer, stirring frequently. Over the course of the next half an hour slowly add water as needed to keep the rice moist and a little liquid at the bottom of the pot. You want the dish to come out wetter than regular rice…

As it nears completion, stir in the liquid smoke and tabasco thoroughly. Once basically done, turn the heat down low and add the frozen shrimp and cover them with the rice and stir occasionally for another ten minutes.

Jambalaya copyright 2005 Owen Linderholm

This was the best Jambalaya I have ever had bar none. I think the liquid smoke makes the difference. I could eat it every day for ever.

We also had greens and a roast chicken and a salad for the unadventurous diners present.

Dinner is served! copyright 2005 Owen Linderholm

A little more time

Thank you to everyone who took part over the weekend in Paper Chef and thank you for your donations as a result for hurricane relief. It was also a holiday, so we’ll keep taking entries until tonight. I’ll post my own (non) entry later today. Crawfish boil, jambalaya and greens…

Crawdads, or why I like Farmers Markets

So, in honor of the Paper Chef and virtual IMBB parties for this weekend I hurried off to the Oakland City Center Farmers Market at lunchtime, late because of work. I wanted things to go with beer, shrimp, sausage and tomatoes. Tomatoes would in fact be one of those things, so three pounds of organic beefsteak toms at $1 per pound went in a bag first. Then I saw a nice $1 bunch of organic broccolli rabe and a bunch of organic cilantro (also $1). It would have been two bunches of cilantro but as I grabbed the second (and last) a despairing cry went up so I let someone else have it.

But in the back of my mind was the guy further along who I saw two weeks ago. And there he was. Live crayfish (crawdads) for $5 a pound (or $4 a pound if you get 5 pounds which I did). Those guys will make a real Lousiana dish for the weekend!

I also scored organic raspberries and a couple of HUGE bunches of basil. I’m thinking a straightforward crawfish boil with taters and corn and lots of spice (maybe cooked with beer?!) accompanied by a mound of rice with shrimp and tomatoes. Greens on the side.