Collard greens – Yummy!

January 28, 2012

Collard greens! One of my favorite veggies!

1 bunch of collard greens
1 cup of rough chopped yellow onion
2 chopped garlic cloves
a shake of hot pepper flakes
olive oil
salt
pepper

1) Collard Greens
Wash collard greens very thoroughly in large amount of water. Usually I put a stopper in a sink, fill sink with cold water and rinse greens in the water.
Strip green part of every leaf from the stem. Just tear it off on one side and then on the other side. Discard the stem
Cut green part into bite size pieces – about 1inX1in
Put a pot of water on a cooktop and bring water to boil. A large amount of water. Add greens and boil for 5 min exactly! Very important to NOT over-boil
While the greens are boiling prepare an ice bath. Pour greens and hot water off in a colander, then place greens in the ice bath. After greens cooled down, remove them from the ice bath, drain in a colander. Now the veggie is ready for cooking. You can put them in your fridge and use a day or two later.

2) Actual cooking:
In a heavy pot add olive oil to moisten the bottom. Add chopped onion and a shake of pepper flakes. Let onion sweat for 3 – 4 min. The heat should be medium to low.
Add garlic and let it sweat a little longer. Do not allow onion/garlic mixture to brown!!!
Add greens, a tea spoon of balsamic vinegar, some salt, a pinch of sugar and let it stew on low heat for about 15 min.
Take a taste and adjust salt, sugar, etc. If greens are still tough, stew a few minutes longer.

Enjoy!

Green bean salad:

1 1/2 pound green beans, tips removed, cut in bite pieces and blanched (you can french beans for fancier look – cut them on bias)
1 teaspoon of salt
3 celery ribs, veins removed, cut on bias in the same size pieces as the beans
1/4 cup yellow onions cut in the same size pieces as beans

1) to blanch beans. Pour good amount of water and a teaspoon of salt into a largish pan and bring it to boil. Add beans and boil for 6 min exactly! Lower the heat after beans in water start boiling. While beans are boiling, take a large bowl, half fill it with ice. Just as beans are about done, add cold water into the bowl with ice. Pour boiling beans into a colander to remove hot water and than put these beans into the icy bath. Let it sit for a minute or two, then remove them from the ice bath. Beans are ready for the salad.

2) removing vein from celery ribs. It takes some patience. Cut both ends from a celery rib. Hold it with the rounded side toward you. Start by “snipping” the outer layer with a small knife and pull it away and down the rib. Hopefully, you will see a hard veins pulling out of celery. Remove all veins. If this is too hard, then just cut them on bias.

Dressing

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon harsh strong mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and taste the dressing. It should be a bit over-salted and a bit “mustardy”.

Mix all veggies and add dressing and mix again. Taste, adjust to your taste.

Enjoy!

At our latest Birdie party olive appetizers were a HUGE success. And justly so:) Each ingredient: olives, garlic cloves, lemon peels,tasted wonderfully zesty, spicy and unique. Here is the recipe. You can use olives with pits, I opted for pitted fruit to make it easier for my quests.

Pick a glass jar (about a pint)

enough pitted kalamata olives to fill 3/4 of a jar
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
6 garlic cloves (skinned)
zest of 1 lemon – strips
several sprigs of whatever fresh herbs grow in your garden
1/2 tea spoon of dry Italian herb mixture
1/2 cup vegetable oil – not olive oil, olive oil jellies in the fridge! You may need to add more oil to cover olive mixture
1/2 tea spoon pepper flakes; if you like it spicier, add more flakes

Mix it all in a bowl, put in a jar and keep for about 2-3 days in a fridge before devouring

Drink your vitamins

Salads are good for you, right? All these vitamins, and minerals, stuff that makes you feel good and happy.
Well, I have news for you. You don’t have to eat salads, you can drink them. Yep! I can tell you with confidence that drinking a salad makes you a lot happier then eating a salad. You can trust me on that. I ran an experiment last Sunday. The crowd at our party was SO happy and cheerful after sampling my cucumber mojitos, we had to make another batch of it. They drank up the cocktail and ate up cucumbers macerated in the stuff overnight. In fact, the general consensus was “These are darn good pickles!” So, be good to yourself and don’t forget to drink your vitamins!

Cucumber Mojitos for a lot of guests

The night before your party, mix together in a large bowl

3 cups of light rum, or gin, or vodka, whatever you have on hand
2 cups of lemon or lime juice, whatever you have on hand
Sugar – Amount of sugar depends on which juice you use, for lime juice – 1 cup of sugar, for lemon juice a little less then 1 cup
1 or 2 sliced fresh cucumbers with skin on
Herbs – a bunch of fresh mint, or 10-12 pieces of cilantro, or some dill

Mix it all in a bowl, rip herbs up to bruise them, add sliced cucumbers, cover your bowl with plastic, and put in a fridge to macerate overnight.

Before your party

1 or 2 fresh cucumbers sliced with skin on
A bunch of fresh mint, or cilantro, or dill
1 bottle of cold seltzer water
A bowl of ice cubes

Pour the beverage into a pitcher through a seive, put “pickles” into a small dish, and throw out herbs.
Prepare fresh garnish in little dishes: sliced fresh cucumber, mint leaves, cilantro leaves
Put out a bowl of ice cubes
Dilute your beverage with some seltzer water (to taste)

Serve to your friends, and don’t forget to tell them about the vitamins C, and A, and B, and whatnot that’s good for in is this drinkable salad.

Love u all

Here are some ideas on how to deal with an infection of your computer.

1) The very first thing you do as soon as you recognize that something is not kosher with your computer is to say “Oy vey!”. Hey, it may be some other kind of exclamation, some “$%@*” you use in desperation, that will be OK too. Stop using your computer right away and get a coffee, a stiff drink, an herbal tea, whatever is your kind of thing.

2) DO NOT CLICK on any buttons on any new pop-ups! This is very-very important! A lot of newest malware (malicious software) uses adware (advertisement software) to get in. Clicking on a button allows malware to start a dialog with your computer. RESTRAIN YOURSELF! Write down on piece of paper everything you find suspicious or outright wrong. Describe it to the best of you ability.

3) Having a second computer is crucial. You should not use your infected computer, remember that? So, from now on, your tools is a telephone and your friend’s computer. Whatever it costs you: a six-pack, a hug, a chocolate, get another computer as soon as you can.

4) Go online and google your observations. I know, I know, you think yourself unique, but most likely other people already suffered the same fate and are desperate to find remedies. There will be scores of hits, be patient, go to links and educate yourself on the subject. There will be tons of highly specialized discussions, and you know what? Even if you skim over these discussions, it will help you in understanding your problem. There will be scores of offered solutions, tools, etc. This is part of your education. Don’t rush to use any tools, just read up about them.

5) Your best friends are your Internet service provider, and your software operating system provider. Your service provider is responsible for security of data getting to your computer. Your operating system provider is responsible for ensuring health and well-being of your operating system. In my case, my Internet service provider is Comcast, and my operating system provider is Microsoft.

6) Start with calling your Internet service provider customer service, there will be a case created on your behalf and you can call back with follow ups. As usual, you will start with someone on the bottom of the totem poll, so be patient, there is a protocol they have to follow to pass you on to experts. Every service provider offers anti-virus, anti-spyware tools, in most cases for free, and the service provider will pass you on to the security tools customer service. Follow their advice, these are real experts. If you are still having problems, go to the next step.

7) Call your operating system provider customer service. In the case of Microsoft, they have their own anti-virus tool, and are happy to give it to you for free. In addition, Microsoft provides free help if you use their tool. Follow their advice.

8) If you are still unsuccessful, ya, most likely that will be the case, you will get a whole new slew of symptoms. Google these symptoms, concentrating on tools. Pick a tool and use it.

9) These tools are harsh, they may remove “good” stuff along with infection, and that, ha-ha, will create a new set of problems, such as freezing your computer, or shutting it off the Internet. DO NOT DESPAIR! It means your operating system is in disarray and and needs a kick in the butt.

10) Go back to your operating system provider and they will help you to restore you computer’s health and well-being.

11) Rerun ALL your security tolls and be happy ever after!

12) Get a drink, go for walk, hug your friend, take the rest of the day off!

Enjoy!

This is a variation of Emeril Lagasse’s passover brisket recipe. It is a very tasty brisket and it freezes well. It should be prepared a day or two in advance to allow flavors to marry and permiate the meat, a good thing for a hostess, less work on the party day. You can make a large portion and use it for several dinners. Every time you serve it, your guests will be impressed and pleased.

Never buy a piece of meat that is totally stripped of fat, the result will be stringy and dry, wasted effort. Whether you buy at Safeway, or at a specialty store, ask for an untrimmed brisket, and then ask them to leave about 1/2 inch of fat on the top. Guess what? The butcher will adore you and will charge less. To prepare brisket is quite an effort, so buy and cook a big one (8-10 lb), and freeze for later.

You will need a deep oven pan to place your meat and cover it with sauce. If you don’t own one, buy a couple of cheap ones that are used at catering events. Put one inside the other, so to speak, double bag them. The pan should be large enough for your meat, but still fit into your oven. An electric knife is very handy to slice your meat up.

Usually, I start with cooking the sauce, that where Emeril and I disagree :). After the sauce is done, I deal with the meat.

SAUCE:

1 quart low salt chicken broth. Very important to use low salt, otherwise the brisket will be much too salty. I use two cartons of broth. Hmm, is it 1 quart?
2-3 large onions peeled and choped
3 large cloves of garlic chopped
one tablespoon EACH garlic powder
onion powder
ground black pepper
salt
italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bottle (12 oz) chilli sauce
1 bottle (12oz) seafood cocktail
1 cup ketchup
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil, or vegetable oil

1) Preheat large soup pot and pour oil into it. Add chopped onions and garlic and sweat vegetables for about 5 min. There are HUGE differences between “sweating”, frying, and caramelizing. To fry onions you need to cook them relately fast on high heat. They will darken fast and become crunchy. Or burned, if you are not super careful :). To caramelize, you need to cook onions and/or garlic for a loooooooooong time on VERY low heat, for 30-40 min at least. During this time they will develop beautiful sweetness and deep golden color. That’s how you would cook onions for an onion soup. To “sweat” onion and garlic, you shoud cook on relatilvely low heat for about 5 – 10 min, they become translucent and impair their flavor to the oil.
2) To the pot with onion and garlic, add broth and ALL remaining ingredients, mix well, watch out for foam and cook for about 20 min. Taste a couple of times and add spices to bring it to your taste. In 20 min, turn off the heat, let the sauce alone, and start on your meat.

BRISKET
1 brisket with fat on the top
2-3 large cloves of garlik, slices into slivers

1) Preheat oven to 500F

1) With a knife pierce meat all over ON THE FAT SIDE and push slivers of garlic into the meat
2) Place meat in your pan FAT DOWN and roast in the hot oven for about 15min during that time the top will brown up
3) Take the pan out and CAREFULLY turn meat over, put it back in the oven and roast for 15 min to brown the other side
4) Take pan out. Add all sauce at once, be careful, you are dealing with very hot ingredients. Cover pot very snuggly with foil, you will need several pieces of foil. The brisket will cook for at least 3 hours, you don’t want the liquid to evaporate and your brisket to become dry. Make sure, there no holes or gaps for the steam to escape.
5) Lower temperature to 350F, place your pan in the oven and cook for at leat 3 hours. Usually, I will take it out after 2 hours to check on the level of liquid.
6) in 3 hours, take the pan out, turn off your oven. You done with cooking!
7) Let it cool for about 30 min. Lift meat from the pan on a large cutting board and crape off or cut off visible fat. Using an electrical knife or a shrp knife slice brisket into slices and put it nicely back in the souce. Cover the pot with foil or palstic wrap and put in the fridge for at least a day.

On the day of the party, take out your meat, discard coagulated fat and put as much meat as you need onto a platter or a nice looking container. Pour sauce all over, reheat ( I usually do it in a microwave) and serve. Your guests will be smitten!

To tell you the truth, I like the rich and comforting taste of my homemade chicken soup and, OMG, I like the taste of cooked chicken. It has a primitive, stark, and complex flavor, and looks so delicious. Whenever one of us feels under the weather, it is the chicken soup that we crave for and it is the chicken soup that we drink by the gallons.
There is nothing simplier to cook then this soup and it freezed beautifully. I looked through hundreds of chicken soup recipies online and in cookbooks, but none were as easy and simple as this one. The post is long, and may seem complicated. But I added all sorts of general cooking comments and observations, hopefully you will find them useful.

General pointers:

1) ALWAYS cook your chicken soup at the lowest levels of heat. After bringing your soup to boil and skimming off the foam, lower the heat to a level that the liquid simmers, not boils. To simmer is to keep the temperature at a level when bubbles are rare and small and you can see all content clearly. This way the broth will be clear, golden, and delicious. The higher is the heat, the faster is the boil, the more clouded is the broth and the simplier is the taste. And you know what? The soup will not be done faster!

2) ALWAYS buy the freshest chichen you can.

3) NEVER pour too much water. The broth will be deluted and watery, not worth your effort. You can always add a cup of boiling water at the end of your cooking.

4) To make a REALLY great chicken soup, one need a whole chicken with feet and all. Why the feet? Because they add sublime richness to the taste, while a chicken breast does nothing but fills the pot. What a useless piece of meat to put in a pot of chicken soup, this chicken breast. So, what does one do without chicken feet? The next best is to use chicken legs only. You can even ask a meat guy at Safeway to skin chicken legs for you, I asked and he did:)

5) As this soup freezes very well, make A LOT and freeze for future use.

So, here it is:

10 chicken legs, with or without skins
1 carrot
2 ribs of celery
1/2 of yellow onion
1/2 of a parsley root (it looks like a white carrot)

1) peel the carrot, cut it in half longwise or, if it is very thick, quater it longwise, and cut the halves (quaters) into 2in pieces. You will end up with a pile of carrot sticks. Do the same with a half of celery root.
2) cut celery ribs in half longwise and then cut into 2in pieces, you will end up with a pile of celery sticks.
3) cut the onion into halves, BEFORE you peel it. Carefully shave off the root, do not cut it off! Peel of the skins while protecting the root. Why to go to all this trouble? Because, the onion adds a lot of flavor to the soup, but you may want to throw it out after cooking. If the root is intact, you have a “whole” cooked onion to deal with, otherwise it is a pain to fish out pieces of cooked onion from the pot.
4) rinse chicken legs and put them into a soup pot, add cold waster to cover legs and have 1/2 inch of water above legs. Remember not to pour too much water!
5) bring pot to boil and skim off the foam. This is an important step. Not so much for the benefit of your soup, as for your own. If the foam is not skimmed off, it will overflow the pot and onto your cooktop/stove. Lemme tell you, you will have a lot of cleaning to do right then and there :). Lower the temperature a bit, and continue skimming for a couple of minutes. When you are happy with your skimming, lower the heat so that your soup is simmering, not boiling. Simmer for about 10 min.
6) Add all your vegetables, a teaspoon of salt, raise the heat to bring soup to a boil. After it boils, lower the heat again so the soup simmers, not boils
7) simmer for 30 min, taste a couple of times, add more salt if needed.
8) turn off the heat, take out the onion and serve.

Usually, I add a few stick of cooked carrots, parsley and celery to each bowl of soup. Serve this soup with motzot balls

Enjoy!

Every summer we have a “Chicken” party at our house. It is a celberation of poultry in its utmost glory. Smoked whole chickens, BBQed cornish hens, stewed quails. You name it, we will make it :). Every party starts with my rendition of sangria. Do I make it potent! You bet! Last year we had a battle between red and white sangria, and, you guessed it, friendship won :). Red and white sangrias should taste differently. While the red sangria is robust, white sangria is springy and fruity.
For both sangrias I used inexpensive wines, because the wine is simply a base and its taste will be enhanced by addition of fruits and strong liqueur. Hey, “2 buck Chuck” is perfect, although in Virginia it is the “3 buck Chuck”. Sangria should be prepared ar least 2 days in advance, which is perfect for a hostess – one thing less to do on party day! During these 2 days all the tastes will “marry”: the fruit will permuate the mixture on one hand, and absorb the alcohol on the other. So, my advice to sangria drinker is “GO EASY ON THE FRUIT!!”. Sangria is prepared in a rather large pitcher and served either in rustic big wine glasses or in juice glasses. I use a soup laddle to dispense it into glasses. Also, we do NOT dilute it with club soda or any such thing. Serve it to your guests as they come in, and you will have a very merry crowd of very happy people!

RED SANGRIA
2 bottles of enexpensive red wine
1 apple chopped
1 orange with skin and all chopped
1 lemon with skin and all chopped
1 cup PITTED red cherries (You don’t want your guest to choke on a pit or to crack a tooth on a pit). If you don’t know how to pit a cherry, cut it in half and discard the stone.
2 red plums chopped
1/2 or 1 cup of sugar (depends on how sweet your sangria to be)
1 cup of brandy

Mix it all together, cover with plastic and place in the fridge. Next day taste it, be careful, it will knock you out :). Add sugar, or brandy, or some lemon juice to make it taste good for you.

WHITE SANGRIA

2 bottles of enexpensive white wine
1 apple chopped
1 orange with skin and all chopped
2 limes with skin and all chopped. Notice, for white sangria you use limes instead of lemons, it will make sangria taste springy and happy!
1 cup of honeydue melon
1/2 cup (if you want to) cut green grapes or a skinned peach
1/2 or 1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of white rum
1/2 cup apple pucker. If you don’t have apple pucker, don’t worry, add tripple sec

Mix it all together, cover with plastic and place in the fridge. Next day taste it, be careful, it will knock you out :). Add sugar, or rum, or some lime juice to make it taste good for you. Do not make it too sweet.

Enjoy!

Roasted chicken

January 9, 2009

What can be better then to inhale this wonderful, mouthwatering aroma of chicken roasting in your kitchen! Oh, my, it makes you so hungry, that you can hardly wait for it to be done, and rested, and carved. Now it is easy to find a roasted chicken at Costco, or Safeway, but to have it cooked by yourself, in your kitchen, for your family and friends is entirely something else. So, let do it, let’s roast the bird for everyone to enjoy.

Two points before we even start. First, the chicken must be very fresh, check the dates on packages and choose wisely. Second, let the chicken “macerate” for a day or two in refrigerator to allow spices permeate the meat. Take the bird out of your fridge about an hour prior to roasting to bring it to room temperature. Let’s go.

1) Buy a very fresh chicken, remove all visible fat, rinse with cold water, and pat dry inside and outside (use paper towels)
2) Prepare dry rub. The recipe will result in a large amount of rub, most likely too much for one chicken. Don’t contaminate the rub, pour some off to a small dish and use it on your chicken, add more if needed. Save remaining rub for future use. Please, pay attention to “tablespoon” vs. “teaspoon”

Dry rub

1 ½ tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
½ tablespoon black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

Place these spices up in a plastic container with a lid, close the lid and shake it well until spices are all mixed up.

3) Rub the spice mix all over your chicken inside and outside. Don’t be shy, use your mix liberally.
4) Put rubbed chicken in a none-corrosive container, cover with plastic and keep in your fridge for a day or two, NO LONGER!
5) On the cooking day do some scheduling calculations to figure out when to take it out from the fridge
One hour to bring it to room temperature
About one hour to roast
15-20 min to rest before carving.
Total 2 hour 20 min before eating
6) Take chicken out and bring to room temperature.
7) Preheat oven to 350F
8) Use a roasting rack, or fat slices of potatoes, or whatever you can spare to put under the bird. Chicken should be elevated creating a gap between the bird and bottom of the pan.
9) Place chicken on roasting rack BREAST DOWN, spray PAM all over it and put it in the oven. Chicken should be somewhere in the middle of your over, not too high and not too low.
10) Roast for about an hour. Check occasionally to see if it is not too brown. If it gets too brown too fast, loosely tent with foil.
11) After about an hour, stick a small knife in the thigh and see if running juices are clear. If juices are clear, your chicken is done
12) Take it out, cover with foil and it rest for about 15 to 20 min.

CARVE! ENJOY!

Standing rib roast

October 28, 2008

Do you want a dish to impress your guests? Here is one for you. It is sooo easy, and sooo tasty, that you will make it over and over again. This is my beloved beef in its glory! It has looks, aroma and taste to die for, and eventually, after 90 years of eating it, to die from. Don’t believe me? Ask Grandma Lusia 🙂 She is 96 and still kicking.
This is a dish that you prepare up to week BEFORE you party, and you cook on the day of the party. This recipe works for a small 3 rib roast as well as for the largest rib roast to fit into your oven. Now, without further delay, let me tell you how to cook it

One standing rib roast.
Generously (I mean it!) shake all over the roast following spices:
dry ionions
dry garlic
paprika
salt
black pepper
dry italian spices.
Spices should fully cover the meat
Now you can run a butchers twine over the roast, ot leave it as is. Put roast in a none-reactive dish (glass baking pan), cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigirator for a week. It is very important to allow the roast to age in your fridge and to get permeated with spices.

Now is the hardest part. On the day of yor party do a little scheduling. It takes about 4 hour 20 min from the moment you take your roast from the frige to the moment you dig into your slice of beef, but all you have to do it to turn your oven on or off.
1) The roast should be brought to room temperature – keep it for 1 hour on your counter.
2) Preheat your oven to 375F and roast your meat for an hour at 375F. Cook your meat uncovered. If it stats to burn, lightly tent with a piece of foil
3) Turn your oven off and keep the roast in for at least 1 hour. Do not cover your roast, or take it out and do not peak into your oven. This hour is very important, it is called velveting. The muscle relaxes and the meat accuires wonderful velvety taste. You can rest it in the oven for 2 hour.
4) turn your oven on to 375F and start your timer. Cook for another hour
5) Take the roast out, cover with foil and let is rest for 20 min.

Bring it to your table and place in the center for all to admire. Carve, serve, enjoy!

If you like REALLY rare roast, either cook it at 350F instead of 375F, or make second roasting shorter. When I cooked a 13lb roast for Diana and her friends, it came out quite rare, because I cooked it at 350F. Also, her rental apartment oven was overwhelmed by this huge chunck of meat! Now I know that 1 5-rib roast needs both higher temperature, and longer roasting time.