Moros y Cristianos



That kills me. Don't blame me. I didn't make this up.  My version is more pure than most versions because I wanted my Christians really really white. The rice pictured above has generous mint and basil. The beans are topped with cheese and onion. Here is a more authentic recipe for Cuban Moros y Cristianos, you'll probably like it better.

This uses dry beans and it makes a lot. Serves 8.

*1.5 cups dried black beans
*sufficient olive oil to saute your stuff
* one large onion, diced
* one large green pepper, diced
* 3 to 4 garlic cloves, smashed, finely diced
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1.5 teaspoon if you like cumin a lot, 2 teaspoons if you really really like cumin, 3 teaspoons cumin if your cumin is old and if you're  insane!  
* 1 teaspoon dry oregano, the Mexican type that looks like little flowers. Find it in packages with the Latin seasonings. If you use Greek oregano then use more.
* 1 to 2 bay leaves depending on their size and how much you like bay. I love it so I tend to use a lot.
*3 tablespoons vinegar. I prefer rice vinegar. Second choice, champaign vinegar. Third choice, plain white vinegar, fourth choice, cider vinegar.
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* salt to taste. This should take about 2 level teaspoons table salt.
* pepper to taste. I use heavy grinds from a Turkish coffee grinder that literally dumps pepper. For service, I'd use 1/2 teaspoon.
* 1 quart chicken stock or broth. If you use prepared broth or bouillon then definitely use a lot less salt.
3 cups long-grain white rice. 

Sort and pre-boil the beans. Cover with water, bring to a boil, cut the heat. Let stand for one hour. 

Cook the beans for real. Enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, however long it takes for them to become tender. These beans are going to cook for an additional 25 minutes combined with all the remaining ingredients. 

Prepare the flavor ingredients for the rice. 

Rinse the rice have it ready.

Sauté the onion and the green pepper in olive oil until tender. Add garlic. Sauté another minute. Add tomato paste, black beans, oregano, cumin, bay leaf and simmer for a few minutes. Then add the rice, chicken broth  and vinegar.  The liquid should cover the rice by one inch. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to lowest possible simmer. 

Do not open the lid.

The pot is now a steamer. If you open the lid, then the steam escapes and the magic ends. If you have nosy types around that like to lift lids to see what you're cooking then duct tape the lid shut or something, give some clue that you're serious about the lid remaining shut. Trust me, the rice will be poorly cooked if the lid is lifted. 

Time this. Set a timer to 25 minutes. 

Okay, there's no messing around here. You're trying to coax an ordinary pot into being a rice steamer and this is how rice steamers work. 

After 25 minutes, turn off the heat but leave the pot covered for another 10 minutes.

Again, if the lid is lifted then the steam escapes and cooking stops early. 

That's 35 minutes total time steaming completely covered. 

Drizzle generously with olive oil to serve. 

Here's the thing about vinegar and beans. Acid and beans just flat do not get along. Acid prevents beans from cooking properly. Actually, acid protects the surface of beans. If you add acid early then the beans will never become fully tender. You can cook them for hours and they will still be kind of hard. Therefore, add any acid near or at the end, at any point after the beans have already become tender. This includes molasses. It is why the tomato paste is added after the beans are already tender.  
Some people believe that adding salt to beans prevents them from cooking properly, but that is wrong. Salt does not interfere with beans cooking properly, you can add that at any time, but anything acid will mess them up.  Should anyone tell you otherwise, you can now say "Stop! You are wrong."  Ask me how I know.
"Because I said so, that's how I know."  No, srsly, because I had this problem and because I read chapters and  websites about beans. I was mostly interested in the mitigation of a particularly unpleasant side effect of beans.
Fine, gas. Short answer: Beano. 
And I ended up discovering a whole bunch of other bean chemistry-related things. Acid keeps the exterior of beans toughened, conversely alkaline, like baking soda, softens it. Cooking with salt speeds cooking slightly while flavoring the whole interior of the bean, just as it does all other seed foods that are molecularly  compacted starches  which all benefit greatly from salt and mineral-laden salt like sea-salt. Corn or wheat bread or hummus without salt are all totally blah. 
You can confirm this easily [+beans +acid] and [+beans + salt] and [+beans +baking soda] .

Chicken with jalapeño

I woke up this morning having dreamt this. In the dream I was preparing for a party with a few other people and this was sitting there along with store-bought corn tortillas so I tore one and used it to scoop as a spoon even though that was not the intention whereupon I woke up. Then back in real life I go to myself, I go, "You need to make that." These are the components of a chicken enchilada except it is not rolled up, they are not fancy, and they're not baked as a casserole. 

I do have milk although it is in a tin and it is evaporated.
I do have chicken broth although it is in a carton.
I do have cheese  although they are the wrong types.

I have jalapeño both fresh and tinned.
I have chicken in the form of cooked thighs.
I have spices falling out of the cabinets. 
I have masa harina to make tortilly-yahs.
and I have onion and garlic.

So. I made what I dreamt and ate it as I dreamt it, as an unmannered lout directly from the pan.   It is everything I dreamt. More strongly flavored than your average enchilada. 

Chicken thighs

These grocery store chicken thighs are big compared to the tiny Bell & Evans thighs I've been picking up. They're plain with little to recommend them except for their size, and I suppose their price. They were all in a big family-size package. 

Whole coriander seed and cumin seed and  black pepper seed heated briefly in a pan on stove top. Ground in a dedicated coffee grinder. I love that thing. Mixed with kosher salt flakes and applied directly to the chicken, the surplus divided evenly into the dredge flour, the drench whisked egg and milk, and dredge dried breadcrumbs which in this case was panko. Baked and turned. I suppose I should have baked them on a rack and sprayed them with vegetable oil, but I didn't.  I eat these like a caveman because I like to make like I'm un-evolved.  

Sourdough buns

sourdough starter from refrigerator

hydrated with equal weight of water

heat from stove channeled to jar on counter

eight hours later the starter is rejuvenated.


one tablespoon rejuvenated starter begins a new batch

8 hours later 1 tablespoon water added + flour to double

8 hours later 2 tablespoons water added + flour to double

8 hours later 1/4 cup water added + flour to double

this is the top view 

8 hours later 1/2 cup water added + flour to double

this is the top view

8 hours later 1 cup water added + flour to double

8 hours of proofing the sponge looked like this

flour is added in increments until the sponge becomes a sticky dough

the dough is divided into  3oz segments and formed into tiny pillows using the stretch method, folded in thirds, twice, then pinched to seal the edges.

six hours later the buns were painted with egg wash and baked

They flattened more than I had hoped. Therefore they are now officially hamburger buns and not dinner rolls. They are not as tangy as the first batch that impressed me so much. Therefore I will not bother with this method again of painstakingly building up from nearly nothing, keeping a dedicated schedule at all hours of the morning. That's nonsense.

I cannot believe I forgot to add salt. My only excuse is that I got up at 4:00 in the morning just to see to the dough. I suddenly recall Anthony Bourdain writing in Kitchen Confidential about a bread baker of whom he was attached and greatly impressed referring to his gigantic glob of sourdough sponge as "the bitch" for exactly that reason.  Hahahahah. That kills me. Now I must add salt onto each bun individually. Not so bad, really, but how stupid can I be?

I'm a little tired of these sourdoughs not performing properly. Next time I'll use the cloches. I have three of them. Might as well put them to use. It'll be kind of tricky dropping wet dough for 3 or 4 individual buns into screeching hot covered clay containers in series, but I do think it can be done. That's one way to force them into the behavior I seek. We'll see. 

Chicken noodle soup

Asian style. Ordinarily, you'd take a whole chicken, throw it in a pot, boil it until it falls away from the bone easily. Before you reached that point, you'd add celery, onion, carrots, a mirepoix if you were to do things correctly, which my mother, bless her, did not.  And which would have come first. Actually, to be totally correct about it, the good chef realizes that whereas roasting a chicken concentrates flavor, boiling one dilutes flavor. And after the chicken is roasted, the bones are then roasted too, just to make sure that every molecule of flavor that bird has to offer is extracted, concentrated, and layered via the miracle of Maillard reaction. But I am not doing any of that. And I am not doing what I saw my mother do either. I'm striking out on my own here and following my own lights. I'm using a single chicken thigh, albeit a large one, and a carton and a half of prepared chicken broth along with aromatics as suits me, and a few Asian additions. I'll also make my own egg noodles because that's what I'm all about tonight. I got a wild hair to make noodles by hand, like a little old Italian lady, and without the aid of the Atlas because I do not feel like dragging it out and clamping it up. Down. On. Whatever. And Plus I get to hone my mad pasta-skillz. 

Whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap whap whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap  whap.   Done.  A whole row of perfectly spaced pasta strands. And, Man, are they ever good. I totally forgot how supremely better my own egg noodles are compared to the best I can buy. This is child's play for me.  I'm awesome. 

Here's how I made this in the order it was done. The process is linear.  The pasta was made first and held in reserve then added last. I guess that's circular innit. It's linearly circular then. Not shown, one tablespoon sugar. No salt and no pepper.  The yellow powder is semolina flour next to all purpose flour. A green bell pepper is shown cut but not shown whole. The chicken thigh was cut up into pieces, and the skin and fat were rendered, all reserved in the pot to oil and flavor the remaining ingredients. The pot was deglazed with sake. That sake sure went fast, the whole bottle is almost all gone. Then the remaining ingredients added one at a time as a stir-fry with the noodles last. 

No more words, now, just pictures.

Napa cabbage cole slaw

With one red bell pepper, two carrots, a handful of raisins, a handful of pecans broken and heated for a minute, mayonnaise made with two whole eggs which caused it to be runny so it was heated in seven-second pulses and whipped between heatings to 150℉ / 65℃ whereupon it thickens. The mayonnaise included 1/2 cup vegetable oil (frankly, I don't like that stuff. It seems fake. Canola oil ,rapeseed, is the worst. Nine out of ten new-wave type nutritional freaks agree. <--- I might have made that up.), two tablespoons cider vinegar (I bought a jug to do windows. Turns out, you can eat it! Tastes a little bit like apples except sour. Rice vinegar is a lot better.), one tablespoon yellow French's mustard. (kind of gross), 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon smashed garlic, one tablespoon sugar, two tablespoons sake just for the heck of it. Since the mayonnaise was heated I can now store it for longer, up to a week. It was hot so I put the jar in the freezer so it wouldn't wilt the cabbage. The carrot was shredded on that little Japanese shredding thingie.  It's a pain in the butt, but it does a decent job. 

I never cared for cole slaw because I always had it with that bitter cabbage. I do not understand the attachment or the loyalty to that cabbage.  This cole slaw is a lot better than that so now I changed my opinion. It could take some other interesting things too, like apple or orange, dried cranberries, maybe peaches or something. Grapes. Leeks. Tamarind. Jícama. You know what? I'm going to go through the vegetable aisle and pick up something that I don't know what it is and try it in this cole slaw. 

Double-yolk egg



This happens sometimes but only with jumbo eggs. I betchya jumbo eggs come from jumbo chickens, or maybe older than regular chickens. Frankly, I don't know anything about chickens but they fascinate me. 

Can you imagine having a jumbo chicken that pooped out, say, nine eggs  and was sitting on them in her nest incubating them, then one fine morning ten little chicks appeared running all around? It'd be like defying the laws of mathematics. 

Double yolk eggs counter the reasoning behind the adage, "Don't count yer chickens before they hatch,"  because you might end up with more than you figured. So next time somebody says that adage, and come to think of it they almost never do say it, then you can go, "Yeah, some of those eggs could be double-yolk and make twins!" Which would prove you're an incorrigible optimist doomed to disappointment. 

Mixed meat patty with potato

Okay Kids, here's the dealio. From a big box store I picked up a 3.5 LB lamb roast, a 3.5 LB pork roast, and a 3.5 LB beef roast, thereabouts. They were actually heavier than that but I forgot the exact ounces. For a single bloke, it is a HUGE pile of meat. I froze them. Then partially thawed them. In their partially thawed state I cut them into manageable chunks ground them all using an attachment that comes with the mixer. The mixer is not a KitchenAid™, it's another European type and its grinder is heavier.

Either way, if I hadn't the grinder then I'd have used the cheese grater with the Cuisinart and worked in batches. Same deal really. It helps for the meat to be nearly frozen. It was fierce I tell you.  I never ground that much meat before. It took up the entire work surface, which is considerable. I mixed all three types, still mostly frozen even after being ground up, and if not actually frozen, it sure was cold. I seasoned the whole pile with liberal cranks of freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt flakes, and I doused the whole pile with Worcestershire sauce. That was it. Didn't want to overdo it.  Then I formed them into patties. The whole lot. Used wax paper as dividers. Stacked 6 patties to a group and re-packaged them using a FoodSaver™

Now I have about 100 of these things. OKAY FINE! Now I have five of these things, or so, with 6 meat patties each. I can open a package, remove 2 patties, and reseal the package. That's like a whole month's worth of 2 mixed meat patties a day if I were to carry on like that daily which I do not. The thing is, I do not have to keep them in patty form. They can be re-combined into nearly anything, meatballs, meatloaf, and um ... uh ... probably some other things, like maybe chunky meat to go with beans or fried rice or pretend gyros or whatever. 

I'll probably get sick of it.  But for right now it's amazingly convenient. 

Same thing with the potatoes. These were from the 10 LB bag that was all boiled at once in salt water then frozen just to prevent them from turning. That worked out great. I can reheat them in the microwave and change their form from boiled potato to something else. 

I wouldn't serve these for a dinner party but for everyday use the preparation has been fantastic. Take it as a bachelor survival tip. 

Green salad with shrimp and pecans

This is a big pile of blue cheese I picked up at Sam's Club, and Boy, is it ever strong. 

The blue cheese dressing at Emil-Ene's has a very clean blue cheese flavor. I applied my finely-tuned analytical powers and discerned its components were most likely blue cheese diluted probably with milk, possibly with water.  My friend insisted it must have mayonnaise because he used to make it at another restaurant where he worked years ago. Online recipes confirmed many recipes do indeed call for mayonnaise. Others called for sour cream. None that I read called for buttermilk. I tried all variations including my own mayonnaise but I kept coming back to the purity of Emil-Ene's. The restaurant is known for its stark simplicity and for its fantastic steaks. There is nothing elaborate or even faintly pretentious about the place. Therefore, my new recipe for blue cheese dressing is 1) a strong blue cheese 2) milk. Here I used the remnant cartons of Half & Half, heavy cream, and buttermilk, but frankly, milk is just fine. I recommend it. 

The pecans heated for 45 seconds in the microwave. 

Frozen shrimp. Water brought to the boil then cut off. Frozen shrimp de-shelled and dumped in the hot water that was no longer boiling. 

Sourdough hotdog buns. 

The Aerogarden greens. 

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