Dark chicken broth

Broth made of the bones and extraneous meat bits, cartilage, and skin including the neck bones from the whole chicken cut up into pieces at Whole Foods and cooked in two clay cloches yesterday. The remnants of that chicken are in chicken salad form presently and disappearing fast. Along with previous chicken bones and duck leg bones saved along the way frozen. All of those bones were roasted at once, they filled a whole baking tray. I accidentally erased the photographs taken of the bones prior to roasting, and after. That baking until veritably burned, completely dried the bones out, the largest bones crumbled when crushed with pliers and the extended heat accounts for the unusual darkness of the broth. The broth includes onion, garlic, carrots and celery, hot árbol chiles and a few spices and herbs.  

The effort produced three quarts of broth. The flavor is strong, somewhat aggressive. Unusually strong and dark for chicken broth. A yellow stain from onion skins coated the two pots used to strain the liquid,

The two containers will be chilled, the layer of fat that forms on the top will be lifted off and discarded for nearly entirely fat-free broth.

Chicken salad with potato, pasta, jalapeño

Two jumbo eggs cooked in the pressure pot for ease of removing the shell. Actually, for making removing the shell possible. I've found in Denver that eggs shells flat do not come off hardboiled eggs no matter which technique is used. Try anything and it does not work. It never works. It always removes half the egg with it. I did try everything multiple times and it always results in the same mess. Why, it's enough to put you off hard- boiled eggs altogether.

Until I learned from reading Cooking for Geeks that commercial hard-boiled eggs are pressure cooked for ease of peeling and that changed everything. Now peeling hard-boiled eggs is no problem at all. Not ever. One egg or four dozen eggs, it doesn't matter, they all peel with ease, veritably fly out of their shells. Odd, that. The length of time cooking is not speeded. 

It has to do with boiling water being hotter than boiling water at sea level, and not with the length of time cooking. Apparently water or steam that is hotter than usual denatures the membrane between the egg shell and the white.

Today I cooked hard pasta and large chunks of potato along with the hardboiled eggs, and those things turned out a little too soft. They were not ruined, but I would have pulled them earlier had they not been locked up inside the pressure pot. 

Two jalapeños included with the intention of burning my face. But the potato and the pasta absorbed the capsaicin heat such the chiles had no heat effect at all. Their power was completely muted by the dullness of starches.

Cloche-baked chicken, sweet potato, corn on the cob

Two cloches were used, one for dark meat started earlier, and another for white meat. The sweet potato is the palest of three types available, marked Beauregard but I believe that is wrong.

Western style omelet, mushrooms, spring onion, serrano chile, robusto cheese

Homemade coconut milk

1.5 cups coconut shavings
4 cups water heated but not boiled.

I used a fine strainer and then squeezed through a tea towel in place of double layers of cheesecloth. The tea towel or cheesecloth is rinsed out and dries fairly quickly and there you are ready to use it again.

At Whole Foods I went straight to the bulk bins that are at the front of the store as you go in and I encountered a very old man squatting down and scooping some unidentifiable white substance. He is wearing riding shorts, white socks, cross trainers, and a bicycle helmet and he looks to be about seventy years old. He was focused on scooping without making a mess. I addressed him directly, 

"What is that stuff you are scooping?"

He looks at me blankly. It does take a moment to assess whether he is being accosted, greeted, imposed upon, or genuinely beseeched for knowledge. There is a silent pause holding in the air between us. I just stand there waiting for a response one way or another aware of putting on my own innocent sincere face.

     "This is coconut."


Another silent pause hangs between us. I do not move.

"What are you going to do with it?"

I can see him wondering if I am worth his taking his time for me.

     "I'm going to use it to  make coconut milk."


Then he decided to explain things more deeply. I had opened the floodgate of expository impulses. He told me all about coconut milk, all he thought valuable relating.  Once he got into it he appeared to be really enjoying himself. He put me some knowledge at length.  He did go on. He decided I will make an apt student.

And so he went on, and on, and on, and on, I had a lot of shopping to do ahead of me I had only just started, and on and on and on.

"What else can you do with it? Can you use it to make a cake?"

He told me the bin next to the bin he was scooping holds larger shavings. People, women, use that one for cakes, or better, they use a real coconut. Behind us in a pile on a table. 

What he did not tell me, or maybe I was spacing when he did tell me, is that the coconut milk liquid forms a layer of coconut fat on top when as it cools in the refrigerator. That layer can be mixed in. The layer of coconut fat is quite good for you and melts at room temperature although the little chunks floating around are interesting, not off putting at all, and actually enjoyable.

After all that, he also did not mention that you can add a few drops of vanilla extract. Nor did he mention it goes well with Ovaltine too, though it appears a bit watery when you are used to whole milk. 

Health-conscious people live in a world of their own. Don't we all? I find they are always willing and eager to share their obsessions, impart the things that they know.

Chicken breast with whole poblano chile, cheese sauce, Spanish rice, black beans

I nicked the idea for this meal from a restaurant nearby called Zócalo (plinth, plaza, the main square of a town) where the booth that I sat is blown out and repaired with duck tape. My kind of place. The people are lovely. It attracts an appreciative crowd.

This is the best meal that I've made for myself in a very long time. Each element hits the spot. But ultimately it is not the sort of meal to make for one's self for lunch due to the work involved preparing each element. Best to do those things separately and hold restaurant style for a family or for a large dinner party. Then all the effort will be worth the time and the trouble of preparation and clean up.

The poblano is roasted, sweated, and peeled. Several steps right there. A béchamel sauce is prepared the usual way with nutmeg, chile powder and cheese, another series of steps. Spanish rice is flavored and steamed. Black beans prepared and that does take time. It is not a simple matter of opening a tin. Lastly, a chicken breast is floured and rapidly fried and all that makes a big pile of dishes and pots, the broiler is used and three stovetop burners. Then the elements are brought together for one extraordinary whole. This would wow the pants off your family or guests.

The Robusto cheese that I used here is available from only one place, Whole Foods, they have the exclusive for this brand. I learned that by asking for it at a specialty shop nearby and frustrated the cheese guy said, "No. Those guys own the world. People have asked for it before."   If you go to Whole Foods I recommend buying a wedge and you'll see for yourself what the fuss is about. The precut wedges are disappointingly thin so I bought two to make sure that I have it around.

In The Fort Cookbook Samuel Arnold writes his Cuban chef referred to black beans as the Rolls-Royce of the bean world and I heartily agree.

Rice is steamed in a pot the Japanese way, twenty-five minutes on low and without opening the lid another ten minutes off the heat, then fluffed with a fork. The difference here is starting as with risotto, frying the granules in butter before adding water. I used turmeric for color and flavor rather than anatto or saffron, and few other regular herbs chiefly Mexican whole leaf oregano.

Chile powder

In the west we use the spelling "chile" for the plant and the spelling "chili" for the meal made from the plant but elsewhere the terms are conflated. I nearly made powder myself from hot arbol chiles that I do have on hand, but then thought, "nah," then became distressed the grocery store spice racks had plenty of chili premix, always gives me heartburn, but cheered they do have specific types chile ancho, chile chipotle and such, but no cayenne, and it really should be offered in large and small tins. What gives? Oh! I am in the part of town that caters to Mexican immigrants. They have these packages all over the place. At least three areas of the same store. And delightfully it is a lot less expensive. The package does not specify which type of chile, but it is not cayenne, and who cares? It is most likely chile arbol just as I would have done myself.

Trout stuffed with corn, piñones, jalapeños

"I'm not seeing any trout."

     "I have some right here. I'm putting it in packages. Marking them down, actually." 

"What do their eyes look like." 


"Why are you cramming them in packages like that? Are you punishing them?

     "Yeah, they looked at me the wrong way." 

The idea for this comes from the The Fort Cookbook by Samuel Arnold, pg.203. 

Their version has egg, dill and thyme in the stuffing but I left that out. I had all the corn stuffing in one meal. Almost added cilantro but left that out too. This meal was quite delicious and satisfying. I could have eaten two. I did have double the amount of salad shown here. 

The salad has Belgian endive, broccoli sprouts, and watercress. The dressing is made with honey and rice vinegar olive oil and my own mustard made from powder. 

Duck legs, green beans

Bâton sourdough loaf

Wider than a baguette and shorter than those and heavier with semolina, altogether more substantial. 

This is made from half of the dough from a frozen sourdough pizza base that was refreshed with additional water, semolina and all purpose flour. Refrigerated for some four days or so, I lost count, maybe five, maybe six, and then refreshed again with more water carried over on my hands and scant all purpose flour dusted on top and kneaded again briefly to distribute new food and rearrange yeast cells so that the loaf springs back to life, folded into shape. Rather alarmed with its own resurrection the yeast took advantage of its new salubrious conditions and puffed up delightfully eager to be pleased while it can as if there is no tomorrow. Then before it was done, the loaf was slashed clean across and baked on high heat. Such is the uncertain cycle of life for a husbanded yeast colony, ever at the edge of wanton orgiastic abandon and abuse then destruction. 

Beef and semolina noodle soup

The squares are pasta, not cheese slices.

Hearty soup that hits the spot, several spots actually; a few spots in my mouth, a spot in my throat, the large spot of my presently extended stomach, and later, well you know what I mean.

Scrounged meal based on the excellent frozen house beef stock from Tony's Market a few blocks down the street. I am resolved to never be without it. It is a bit more expensive than usual, more so than stock purchased in cartons and  tins, but so much better and so worth it and the stock stands well on its own with nothing else added. In fact I am hesitant to add anything at all for making it worse.

The noodles are made of one jumbo egg and 95% semolina flour with just enough all purpose flour to dry the mass then quickly rolled out onto a work surface and cut into squares. Fast as can be.

Tinned beans that never get used. I had the tins in the pantry for emergencies and I suppose this is such. Frozen corn that is not so great texture-wise. One large russet potato cut into small cubes and that is the thing that determined the length of time cooking. One small pork cutlet that I had been using for panko-coated tonkatsu for a full week here and there marinated in hot flavored liquid that I shared with the women downstairs in the office winning their admiration for my mad sauce-making skills. Finally pickled jalapeño, the remnant bits, the very last of a jar.

Fried potato, bacon, egg breakfast

Sourdough pizza

The frozen pizza bases are not so good. This is one such pizza base refreshed with additional semolina, a coarser less processed flour similar to corn meal but wheat before it is turned into powder, additional water, fresh commercial yeast for speed, and white all purpose flour to form a double-size dough ball. This is half the amount of dough that resulted from refreshing, the remaining half is proofing in slow motion inside the refrigerator. 

Café Rendezvous, History Colorado Center, Art Hotel

View through the window from my seat.

Construction across the street Broadway is for an Art Hotel and it takes up the full length of the block. Commenters are pleased with the development.

An unusually overcast day barely sprinkling just a drop here and there. 

Arriving late, I asked the young woman working the counter what is her favorite thing on the menu and then ordered it. A cowboy cheeseburger with authentic fire-roasted flavor. The sandwich is simple and very good tasting. The meal hit the spot. The young woman is helpful as can be, attractive pleasant clean and forthright, a solid individual quietly minding the whole place. I asked her if I can take her photograph and she sweetly politely declined. That is okay, I would have too and so would my mum. It is the way we roll around here, more private than boisterously overt.

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