October 2011 Archives

Parmesan and Artichokes are a natural pair, I'd say.saladartichoke.jpg
So I've roasted them here and combined them with leaf lettuce tossed in a Tarragon-apple vinaigrette. The tarragon aroma makes a rich-tasting contrast to the sharp artichoke.  The apple juice-oil gives the salad a pleasing silk-like feel on the tongue.  But that's me. If you make this dressing, add comments here or shoot me an email.

Recipe: (serves two)
4 leaves red-tip lettuce, washed and dried
4 leaves Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
1 French baguette, frozen solid. You won't use the whole baguette, only enough for 6 slices
6 canned or frozen artichoke hearts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbs Extra Virgin olive oil
fresh grinding of Black Pepper
1/4 cup Pine nuts (optional)
For Vinaigrette:
2 Tbs Canola oil
2 1/2 tsp Apple Cider vinegar
2 tsp Apple juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried Tarragon
1/4 tsp salt

whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and let stand for 30 minutes or a little longer so the flavors develop.
Artichoke hearts: 
1. Drain the artichoke hearts and carefully insert the parmesan cheese between the leaves.
2.  Place the stuffed artichoke hearts on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with fresh black pepper and roast in a 350º oven for 20 minutes. If after baking them you want more color, you can place them under a broiler for 2 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
Baguette toasts:
1.  The baguette is frozen so that you can easily slice six very thin slices, bias cut. Use a mandolin or a very sharp bread knife. Place the slices on a sheet pan.
2.  Carefully brush olive oil on the bias-cut baguette slices and bake them in a 350º oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.  NOTE:  These baguette toasts are really elegant and they crunch almost ephemerally.  But if you can't get that thin slice, all's well since cubed crunchy croutons will be great too. See them in the picture?

Tear or cut the lettuce into medium size pieces. Toss with the vinaigrette (taste and adjust salt if necessary).  Arrange all the ingredients on a plate as shown. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the salad. Serve at once.

Bon Apéttite
Direct, uncomplicated, profuse flavor. I think oftentimes we miss so much by complicating our everyday, wasting time with artifice.  Just look at the beauty of what's around, get real and go with it!
GreenChilesml.jpgWe roast Anaheim chiles then eat them with hot yellow corn tortilla and salt.  There's not a single gourmand who can resist crooning with joy upon biting into this

Recipe?  What recipe? Roast the chiles, add salt and eat them with a yellow corn tortilla!
haha, just kidding.

1. On a comal or cast iron griddle roast the chiles  as shown above until most of the surface is charred. You can use a broiler or an open fire but I find that the extended time that it takes to char on the griddle is just right for cooking the inside of the chile.  There's still texture but it's not firm at all. You don't want to bite into a raw, firm chile.  Let's not get lost in the crudité 80's again!
2. Place them in a paper bag and close tightly so that the steam helps release the skin.
3.  When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and remove the seeds.
1. In a shallow bowl filled with water, immerse the corn tortillas for about 30 seconds. I assume you have bought a package of yellow corn tortillas. (In a later post we'll be making corn tortillas from masa.)
2. Heat a clean comal or griddle on high until it is quite hot, to the point that if you sprinkle droplets of water they dance on the surface.
3.  Place the re-hydrated tortillas on the griddle and cook for about 10-15 seconds.  The tortillas should char just a little bit but you don't want them to burn.  Turn over with a spatula.
4.  Place strips, rajas, of the chiles on one half of the tortilla, sprinkle with salt, and fold in half. Heat for about 15 seconds, turn it over and heat the other half of the tortilla. This roasts the tortilla and also reheats the chile nicely.

Serve immediately, while they are aromatic and steamy.
Ok, so it is also delicious with cheese.  I recommend two cheeses, good melting Asadero and more delicately flavored Panela.  Both I think are readily available in most grocery stores of the US. I wouldn't use longhorn or cheddar.  Too loud.

Add the cheese after sprinkling the salt on the rajas as indicated above, then fold the tortilla and proceed, also as above. Both cheeses will melt well, but differently.
Here is the Asadero cheese.  It melts completely and is a bit more present in flavor than the panela but still very nice and gentle. Remember that we want to taste the shades of flavor of the chile itself.
anaheimcheesml.jpgAnd below is the Panela cheese.  It's a very different taste and texture.  Cut into small dice, it will melt slightly as you can see.   Oh, my goodness.....toothsome.  Do let me know how you like these.

Chicken Cutlets Meunière

Of course, it's "Sole Meunière" that's the quintessential French luscious dish but chicken is great. 

ChickenPicattasml2.jpgHere it's served with spinach and roasted potatoes.

I think the dish is rustic country and also elegant.


Recipe: serves two



2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

¼ cup flour (wheat)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs unsalted butter

Salt to taste

a grinding of black pepper


¼ stick unsalted butter

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 ½ Tbsp capers, drained

1/8 tsp salt


4 small boiling potatoes

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

a grinding of black pepper

½ Lb Spinach, thoroughly washed and large stems removed

1 Tbsp butter

Salt to taste




1.    Wash the potatoes, dry them and cut them in half.

2.    In a bowl, toss the potatoes in the olive oil and add salt and pepper

3.    Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet on medium-low heat, add the potatoes and cook them, turning them occasionally, until they are cooked through, about 30 minutes.


1.    In a deep skillet melt the butter on medium heat, add the spinach and cook it, stirring as needed, until it begins to wilt. This will take only about 4-7 minutes.  Remove and hold warm.

Chicken Cutlets:

1.    Trim fat from the chicken breasts and cut them into cutlets.  Place each between waxed paper and flatten with a mallet to a ¼" thickness.

2.    Dredge the cutlets in the flour to very lightly coat them.  Shake off excess flour and hold them.

3.    In a large skillet heat the olive oil and butter on high heat until it begins to shimmer.  Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes on each side (lower the heat immediately if you see that the oil begins to smoke or burn).

4.    Remove the cutlets, place them on paper towels, dabbing gently to remove excess oil and hold them warm.

5.    Arrange the vegetables and the cutlets as shown on warm plates.

6.    Now the Sauce.  It's fun to see this butter transformation!!   In a skillet heat the butter on medium heat.  Add the salt.  Watch very carefully and when you see the butter begin to brown, (there's only a few seconds between the butter being brown and being BURNED) immediately remove it from the fire. Add the lemon and capers and swirl the pan joyfully!  It will bubble and foam lusciously.  Pour it over the cutlets and serve immediately. 


This is rich, rustic food that makes you break into a genuine smile.  I'm getting hungry!

Food and Media are Deeply Connected

Food is direct cultural memory;
it nourishes as it keeps us alive and connects us to the past -- our own, our families,' our communities.'

Our media is also direct cultural memory.
It has the fierce ability to nourish our consciousness just as powerfully and to keep us alive to imagine realities other than our own. -- -- Helen De Michiel

carrotsinjeans.jpgWell said! 

This quote is from Helen De Michiel's article, "Toward A Slow Media Practice," in which she outlines the relationships between food and media.  Her ideas are a good platform from which to explore the many ways in which our daily immersion in food and media can make sense as unifying experiences, one nurturing the other. 

Both presenting the same choices about how we choose to address corporate control, local food and media independence, transnational yet grassroots collaborations, fair trade.  And what I like best:  both offering joy.

Michiel goes on to say that "Both Slow Food and Media Arts represent significant niches in our cultural landscape.They are quiet movements built on the ideals of self-determination, community empowerment, and preservation of legacy in a throwaway milieu. While neither valued nor well understood by the mainstream, they both are sustaining individuals and communities with imaginative practices that transform consciousness in a slow and steady flow.

While Slow Food defends endangered foods, we struggle to carve out and protect a public space where independent media arts practices can thrive."

Now I'm going to make a nice breakfast!

Mexican Cuisine

Notes on Cooking
three-minute interviews with chefs, filmmakers and food activists

This week Chef Iliana De La Vega, acclaimed authority on Mexican Cuisine, explains the Spanish and Arab influences on Mexican Cuisine.  Noting her philosophy of food, she advocates not covering up flavors with heavy lard or fats.  Techniques of roasting, charring date back to pre-Columbian times. But the final test of fine Mexican cuisine is the taste, delicious, rich, harmonious.


For Fall socials, this elegant and earthy local canapé will please friends.  The trout is aromatic and complex.  The flavored butter gives a perfect velvety mouth feel companion to the oils and flavor of the fish.
smokedtroutcanapesml.jpgAfter brining and drying the trout, place the fish in a smoker with plenty of space between the pieces so that the smoke can waft about evenly.  Use Pecan wood at 2000F and smoke it for 3 to 4 hours.  The fish must reach an internal temperature of 1500F.  Remove the fish from the heat and cool it down completely, removing all bones and skin.  It will keep refrigerated for several days.  Or you can freeze it for weeks.

Slice the fish into small strips.  Place atop horseradish-buttered rye toast rounds garnished with sliced green olives stuffed with pimiento.  The brininess of the olives is great with this.

Horseradish Butter:

1 stick, 4 ounces, softened unsalted butter
1Tbsp prepared horseradish
3/4 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp sugar
1/4  tsp fresh lemon juice
After squeezing out excess liquid from the horseradish, blend all the ingredients together well.  The butter can be held, covered tightly, in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the canapés.  Soften the butter a bit after taking it out of the fridge so it will spread easily.

I suggest enjoying it with a crisp dry Riesling.

Fall, the time for pickling, brining, drying, freezing.  All those tasks that take us back to a time when we were more in tune with the earth's changing seasons.  Well, it was either be in tune or starve!   haha..!

Here's a recipe I'm making this morning for smoked trout. The final result is flaky, aromatic and richly flavorful.  It can be mixed and mingled with an array of creams butters and dips during cool autumnal evenings.

2 cups water
1 lb ice
1 1/2 ounce salt
3/4 ounce brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp pickling spice

troutbrinesml.jpg1. Add the salt, sugar and spices to the water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar completely.
2.  Cool the hot brine mixture by pouring it over the ice

2 8-ounce trout filets
If you possibly can, opt for pan dressing the trout, which means leaving the bones, skin and tail intact.  As you can see in the picture, I used skin-on fillets because that's what was readily available from the fish monger this morning. 

Pour the brine over the fish, making sure it is completely submerged.

Place in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.  Then remove the fish from the brine and lay the fillets flat on a tray and dry them, uncovered, in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or until a dry, tacky glaze, "pellicle," forms on the lovely fillets.  This pellicle formation is critical at the time of smoking because it maximizes the smoke flavor and keeps oils and moisture where they belong.

In the next blog I'll show the smoked trout and the various ways it can be served. 

Just a few final thoughts about our tradition of drying fish.  I'm reminded of a recent discussion regarding one of our ancestor Texas peoples, the Karankawas.  They lived for thousands of years along the Texas coast from Galveston to Corpus Christi. They ate speckled trout, among other fish, and drying and smoking were of course known culinary practices.

The discussion leader reported that the Karankawas were horrible savages who pierced their skin for adornment and were cannibals.  They were generally ugly, awful, I repeat, savages.

Then was not the proper moment to refute but here I want to report that the current body of academic research (see bibliography at the end of this post) finds the following:

1.  Piercings: Karankawa men were aound 6 feet tall and they sometimes pierced their nipples  and lower lips to wear cane adornments.  Here in Houston I've seen a lot of men and women with piercings, wearing body jewelry.  I'm not calling them savages for doing so.

2.  Accusations do not make it so:  The accusation of cannibalism is so often repeated, mainly by those with a vested interest in discrediting natives, that the repetition tends to make it so.  But there is no direct oral nor written evidence.  There is no direct eyewitness account of such behavior.  There is no archaeological evidence at all of scraped or shattered bones to support the claim of cannibalism. 
3. The record refutes the claim: When the Spanish colleagues of Cabeza de Vaca shipwrecked onto Galveston Island, they began to eat the bodies of their shipmates to stave off starvation.   When the Karankawas found them they were horrified at the Spanish cannibalism.  Cabeza de Vaca writes: "The Indians were so shocked at this cannibalism that, if they had seen it sometime earlier, they surely would have killed every one of us who had survived."  (La Vere, 2004,  p. 60-62)

We receive culinary techniques from our ancestors, enjoy the same seasonal fish as they did, so I delight at the academic work that is giving us a clearer picture of who they really were. 

In my next blog I'll be serving the smoked trout to some of my nose-pierced friends!

Here's Some Bibliographic info:

La Vere, D. (2004). The texas indians. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
Newcomb, W.W. Jr. (1961). The indians of texas. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Warnes, Andrew. (2008). Savage barbecue. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

A Serving of Justice

It's a good thing that I'm feeling jumbled, riled, mixed up and chaotic.  The protests against the corporate reality in which we live (corporations are persons now) are chaotic, which means powerful, energizing and substantive.  Injustice is always served with food.  So is justice.

ServeWhitesml.jpg The recipe that I'm posting today is one for chefs and foodies.  We will continue to serve food when needed to support  Occupy Wall Street rallies.  We will blog about food and it's corporate control.  Foodies will take up anew conversations about the food movemen and about:  Native Americans denied the right to plant corn seeds in their gardens because Monsanto has patented the seed, Obesity resulting from corporatized food,,etc., etc., etc. 

Personal actions in choosing what we  do are the cornerstone.  This essay by Kristin Wartman maps well the food movement opportunity. 

Going out for brunch now!

I cry for us

I cry for us.
people powerless in society,
the despised,
the de-humanized
what a contradiction.

The despiser.
I cry for us. 
And sob,
that it is in our nature
to inflict pain,
bully, fellow human beings.

Recently during a delicious and amiable meal, a 20-something friend of mine asked me for details of how Gays and Lesbians in the US got more freedoms, and about Stonewall.

Thereafter I shared with him this audio documentary, "Remembering Stonewall," by Peabody and MacArthur Awardee David Isay. Produced in 1989 and broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered.  I had not heard it in years.  Hearing it anew, especially eye-witness accounts of lesbians brutally beaten for fun by male cops, it makes me cry. 

I'm glad for meals where generations ask questions of each other. They give me hope.

Roots and Vision of TexMex Cuisine

Chef and Author Melissa Guerro identifies the Mariame Indians of Texas, the Comanches and others in the roots of today's TexMex cuisine. Melded with the Spanish influence, this delicious cuisine is growing in importance. Like all cultural cuisines, "It can fix the world!"


notes on cooking...

a series of video shorts
"critical thinking about food and its meanings"

3 minutes with a chef, filmmaker or food activist.  The series covers trends in food pathways, food conglomerates, kitchens, farms, labor and entertainment. Issues about social justice and the cultivation of enjoyment and fun. And of course, inventive recipes--delicious taste is IN!

The series uploads one segment weekly on www.jmcommunications.com

--a High Definition version is on the Vimeo channel, "Notes on Cooking," http://vimeo.com/channels/245942

The series begins with critically acclaimed Chef Iliana De La Vega who speaks out on Mexican cuisine. Her call is for "no more burros!"  Originally from Mexico City and Oaxaca, she currently serves on the Faculty of the Culinary Institute of America and the Center for Foods of the Americas. She is Owner/Chef of El Naranjo in Austin, Texas.
 Other chefs included in the series are:

-Chef Johnny Hernandez, Chef/Owner of "La Gloria" in San Antonio, Texas is acclaimed for his inventive recreations of Mexican street food and regional cuisines. His stellar positions include the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara.

-Chef Hinnerk von Bargen, International Consultant on Restaurant and Culinary Trends, Faculty at the Culinary Institute of America, His chef positions have included hotels and restaurants in Germany, South Africa and China. He is currently authoring a book on Street Foods of the World.

-Chef Melissa Guerra, Host of "The Texas Provincial Kitchen" Television series, author of Tejano and TexMex cuisine cookbooks including "Dishes From The Wild Horse Desert."

-Chef Alain Dubernard, His positions have included chef-owner and general manager of La Balance Pâtisserie in Mexico City, Chef de partie at Hôtel Bristol in Paris, and commis pâtissier/chef de tour for Roux Restaurants Ltd. in London.

See a High Definition version on Vimeo:  http://vimeo.com/channels/245942

Produced by Adán M. Medrano

The series is licensed under Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-commercial, Share-alike 

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2011 is the previous archive.

November 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.