Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blacked Eyed Peas and Hamhocks

If you do not already have a deep and passionate love affair with Black Eyed Peas, then you are truly missing out. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husbands too because if you whip up this recipe you will cheat on all of them.

I swear before the Living God himself.

Lawd Jesus!

Not only are black eyed peas good for you, they bring you luck (in both Black and white Southern traditions but for extremely different reasons), but you will discover that on their own with nothing but a touch of salt added they make their own delicious broth that is lovely....add a few extra ingredients and you will have a lover that will always leave you satisfied and begging for more.

Black Eyed Peas and Hamhocks

1lb bag of black eyed peas
2-3 hamhocks
1 jalapeno
1/2 medium red onion diced
2 cloves of garlic diced
1/3 cup cilantro diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Adobo seasoning
1/2 cup minced basil
1 tbsp dried/fresh rosemary

In a large pot combine all ingredients and fill the pot with water until ingredients covered and just shy of a 1/2 inch to inch below the rim. Bring the contents to the a boil and reduce heat to medium high. Watch the pot and stir occasionally and add water to make sure that the ingredients stay covered. Cook for about three to four hours, covering occasionally as well to help speed the process.  Once the beans are soft to the fork and the fat has been rendered from the ham hocks serve with rice. Black eyed peas are one of the only beans that you do not have to soak overnight, which makes them oh so lovely.

A single pot of black eyed peas with hamhocks over jasmine rice will feed a family of four, for several servings, for less than $8. Add your favorite extra to it (fried pork chops, smothered chicken, etc.) and you have a feast fit for a Southern belle.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Southern Fried Chicken a la Fierce!

Now my Mama makes some of the best fried chicken that I have ever tasted. To be specific her fried chicken wings have been known to cause small riots as folks stampede to grab the last one at the end of a meal. Mama learned years ago that when she was in the mood to make chicken wings, she might as well go on ahead and make the entire bag of 50 frozen wings so as to avoid bloodshed at the kitchen table.

That is some damn good chicken. And though I wish my mother another 50 years of life, when she goes on to make chicken wings for the Lord, the first thing I am claiming is her cast iron skillet. She's had that thing for most of my life, and if you know anything about frying chicken, you know that the only way to get it perfect is to deep fry it in Crisco in a cast iron skillet that has been heated to a temperature somewhere around the surface of the sun. If you are really old school, and you want to do it the Southern way, you heat up a cast iron cauldron and you fry that shiz out back of your house over a grate laid across the top of an outdoor fire.

Unfortunately, I live in heart of Manhattan, and the city frowns on bubbling hot grease snapping and popping on your fire escape above the heads of the residents of Hell's Kitchen. Plus, our building is 100+ years old and has very little wall between us and the outside, and, for example, I am tempted to pour boiling hot Crisco on the heads of the folks being loud down below my windows as we speak. Also, there are two schools next door to my apartment building and across the street. Those way too grown and often too sassy children would work my last gay nerve one day and there would be a mighty tragedy. Southern Fried Elementary School Children is just plain wrong.

But back to the chicken. I have a good friend by the name of Jason Chan that has an unnatural love for the yard bird. He scalps a piece down until ain't nothing left on that bone but teeth marks. Last week, I found an excuse to make fried chicken for my friend Snehal, where I experimented with a new recipe that was inspired by an episode of the television show "Chopped," and I perfected it with Jason two days later. This is the first time that my chicken would go toe to toe with my Mamas, and if I had that cast iron skillet, I might even beat the old yard bird at her own soul food game!

So here it is, my new fried chicken recipe.

Southern Fried Chicken a la Fierce!

Batter Mixture

6 cups white flour
3 cups Corn Meal
4  packets Goya Sazon con Azafran
4 tsps cumin
2 tsps Cayenne Pepper
2 tsps Chili Powder
3 tbsp Lowry's Seasoning Salt
2 tsps salt
2 tsps pepper
 2 large eggs

In a large, deep, and preferably resealable container, mix all the ingredients together except the eggs, which are the basis of the batter. The powder mixture can be saved nearly indefinitely and be reused. In a separate large bowl, crack the eggs and whip and set aside.

Chicken and Oil

1 whole fryer chicken cut up
1 medium sized bottle of vegetable oil (I recommend Crisco)
4 cloves of garlic
1 whole red onion chopped up
1 large tablespoon of Jeow Bong (this is an optional ingredient and is a traditional sweet-spicy chili paste, also, though I have not seen Jeow Bong in US food stores, I have seen other similar pastes, if not you can experiment perhaps with some chopped up tamarind and red pepper flakes or perhaps some garlic pepper hot sauce that is easy to find in the Asian food island at your local market).

The first order of business is to combine to heat your oil over high heat. You want the oil to get as hot as it possible can get without burning.  The hotter the oil the crispier the chicken. Also, a cast iron skillet maximizes the heat level if you happen to have one, otherwise a big soup pot will work as well. One the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and Jeow Bong or tamarind/garlic pepper sauce and cook until the garlic starts to brown and the onions become transparent. You will have to stir the oil to make sure that the paste breaks down.

While you are working on the oil, you will also want to dip each piece of chicken in the egg, make sure it is evenly covered and then drop several pieces at once into the batter mixture. Close the lid and shake vigorously until all pieces are completely covered. Once the oil is ready and spitfire hot, drop your chicken in.

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THIS! The chicken needs space to crisp. Do not overload the oil with too much chicken at once. The pieces need to be able to bob around a little bit to cook up the best. Once the chicken is tender to the fork and the skin is crispy and it has started to float towards the top of the oil, pull it out and set it on a plate that have a layer of napkins across them to soak up excess oil. The frying shouldn't take anymore than 12-15 minutes for the larger pieces and a little shorter for legs and wings. If you buy a whole fryer, drop the neck, gizzard, heart and liver into the oil as these make an awesome and tasty amuse bouche!

I promise you that this chicken will change your life.

If you have access to a butcher this dish will cost you less than $10 to make if you have the more common ingredients lying around at home and perhaps $17 if you have to purchase the chicken from the grocer and some of the other ingredients. This should feed a family of four, but if Jason is around, it's just enough for two.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pho dac Brandon

Now anyone and everyone who has ever had pho and loved it will know that it is a magical dish that only an ancient Vietnamese woman can conjure. I learned from my Vietnamese friends that they don't even make the stuff at home, they go to the pho shop. Well....I tried to make pho once and the three day process resulted in a tragedy.

So, I decided to make my own "not really but imma call it pho" recipe.

Here it is.

Pho dac Brandon

1lb thinly sliced beef steak cubed
1 whole onion diced
2 jalapenos diced
1 bunch cilantro diced
3 potatoes diced
3 carrots sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
6 cups water
1 packet Goya Sazon con Azafran
2 cans Goya black beans

Put the onions, jalapenos, cilantro, and garlic and sautee in oil until the onions are transparent.  Add in all other ingredients except carrots, potatoes and water. Sautee together for about 10 minute. Add water, potatoes, and carrots. Let simmer over medium heat for one hour.

This recipe will serve 8-10 people for roughly $15.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mediterranean Chicken with Lentils and Rice

There is a restaurant in Hell's Kitchen that my boyfriend Keith and I love. It's called Hummus Kitchen. They have amazing falafel and the Moroccan wrap is awesome. Yesterday, we stopped in for lunch after the gym, and the server brought to our attention that since we were ordering two appetizers, if we spent another $1.95, we could get a third. We, of course, said yes, and I opted for the rice and lentils.

It was delicious.

I decided to come home and build dinner around the rice and lentils experience, and I did! It was cheap, easy, and so damn delicious.

Mediterranean Chicken with Lentils and Rice

2 chicken breasts cubed
1/4 bag of lentils
2 tomatoes
8 cloves garlic diced
1 naval orange
1 Belgian endive chopped
1 jalapeno diced
1 bunch cilantro minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tbsp hot sesame oil
1/4 cup manzanilla olives with juice
1 lb spinach
1 cup jasmine rice
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 cup Patis (fish sauce)
1 medium red onion diced
2 ripe avocados

First, put a pot of water on to boil for the lentils. Put the lentils in right away. Add half of the garlic and half of the onion into the water. Once the water begins to boil, cover the lentils and reduce the hit but leave the lid off slightly. Allow to cook for 20-25 minutes. When done drain most of the water and set aside. Once the lentils are done cooking and the water has been drained add half of the cilantro and stir it all together. The heat from the lentils will soften the fresh cilantro.

Cook the rice and set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the sesame oil. Once the oil is hot add the cilantro, onions, jalapenos, and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Then add the chicken. Brown the chicken for about 5 minutes on medium high heat and then add all the rest of the ingredients except for the spinach and avocado (don't mix in the lentils and rice...sorry if I am stating the obvious). Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice from the orange onto the chicken. Keep the mixture stirring and cooking for another 10-12 minutes. Just before the chicken is completely cooked, add the spinach and cook, mixing it all together for another 3-5 minutes.

Serve the chicken over a plate of rice and lentils and voila!

This recipe will feed a family of four (with seconds and thirds) for $12-$15.

PS This was the first time I have ever cooked with endives. I am now a HUGE fan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hamburger Helper Fairy Chef Style

I have, a number of times, received emails from folks asking for recipes that take less preparation time, particularly something relatively easy to make to feed hungry children for dinner.

I don't know about all ya'll, but while my Mama did generally make home cooked meals every night, sometimes she cheated and out came the Hamburger Helper. I was partially fond of the Beef Stroganoff.

Unfortunately, the back of the package reads like a high school chemistry lab experiment.

So, tonight, I present to you a similarily quick hamburger meal but better for you (and you can pronounce all of the ingredients without a master's degree in inorganic chemistry).

Hamburger Helper Fairy Chef Style

1 lb ground beef
1/4 red onion chopped
1/2 cup zuchinni sliced
1/2 cup portobello mushrooms or button mushrooms
1/2 cup snow peas
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper
2 packets Goya Sazon con Azafran
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbsp olive oil*

First in a large skillet or wok heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic and brown for three minutes. Then add the hamburger along with the soy sauce and the Goya seasoning packets. When the hamburger is about half way done cooking add in the rest of the vegetables. Mix thoroughly until the veggies are al dente.

Serve this over jasmine rice.

Also, to save even more time, most grocery stories have pre-packaged, pre-chopped fresh vegetables. Economically, this makes less sense to buy the veggies this way, but if you are pressed for time they are usually relatively inexpensive (though very expensive for the amount you actually get). The upside is that it cuts out about 10-15 minutes prep time because of the lack of need to do much chopping.

The kids will love this dish.

This recipe will feed four people at a cost of about $9 and is way healthier than Hamburger Helper with about the same prep time.

*Please note...ALWAYS use Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Extra Virgin indicates first pressing and does not involve chemicals in the extraction processing...every level of purity down from extra virgin requires more and more chemicals to extract the oil from the same pressed olives.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Curry Pork with Green Beans

I know it's been a minute ya'll, but I've been busy, and I hope you have all been eating well. I have been busy as Hell for one of the unemployed masses, though my sweetly broke unemployed life ends next week when I return to the work force, at least part time.

So, before I do all that business, I decided to share with you a delicious recipe that is even now perfecting on the stove.

Curry Pork with Green Beans

1 lb pork ribs (if bone is in, cut meat from bone into 1" pieces)*
1/2 yellow onion chopped
2 jalapenos chopped
2 cloves garlic smashed and chopped
1 cup fresh green beans
1 packet Goya Sazon with Azafran
2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp olive oil

First, in a wok, heat the olive oil. Add in the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Sautee them together for about 3-4 minutes until the garlic starts to brown and the onions are translucent.

Next, add in the pork. Sautee this all together for a couple of minutes until the pork starts to brown. Then add in the rest of the ingredients except the green beans.

Cook this all together for about 10-12 minutes on high heat. You want the pork to be almost cooked before you add in the green beans. Throw the green beans into the wok and sautee for another five minutes or so.

Remove from heat and serve over jasmine rice.

This recipe will run you about $8 and will happily feed 2-4 people.


If you buy the ribs with the bone DON'T WASTE THE MEAT THAT IS LEFT ON THE BONE! But that shiz in a pot of water, add soy sauce, and cook those bones and gnaw the meat off of them.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chicken and Peppers Stew

Some like it hot! Lord knows I do. And this multi-layered flavored stew is going to start out sweet and end with fire on your tongue...but the kind of fire that keeps you dipping back into the pot. The subtle Caribbean flavors melded with a touch of the Phillipines and a dash of La France....makes me want to say Salamat Po Gracias Adios Bon vie bon!

Pepper Chicken Stew

1 whole chicken cut up
1 Poblano chili pepper sliced
3 cherry chili peppers diced
2 jalapeno peppers diced
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper sliced
1 tbsp sliced fresh ginger
1/2 large red onion diced
1/2 cup diced basil
4 to 6 red potatoes cubed
4 cups red wine
2 cups green beans
4 limes
Dash of red wine vinegar

The lovely thing about stews is that they are 1) delicious and 2) easy to make. First, in just a little bit of olive oil, sautee the ginger, onions, and hot peppers for about three minutes. This unlocks their flavors and sets the tone for the rest of the dish. Once this is done add all of the rest of the ingredients to the pot.

Cook on high heat until the stew starts to simmer, and then cover it, reduce the heat to low, and let it stew for an hour to an hour and a half. The longer you can resist the pot, the better it is going to taste.

Serve it as a stand alone dish or with rice. This pot of stew will feed 10 people at one time or a family of four for several meals. The entire cost of this meal is $10-$12 depending on the price of the chicken.