Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dim Sum Sunday Anniversary

Carla Hall's recent chicken pot pie win on Top Chef started a lot of back channel chatter from those of us who participate in the Dim Sum Sundays meme. Some of the participants wanted to do a Pot Pie but my Culinary Godmother had to point out that we already had as our very first Dim Sum! I went back and looked and sure enough back in March of 2009 there was the Java Junkie's lovely puff pastry chicken pot pie. I thought we should mark the occasion of our two year Dim Sum Sunday Anniversary with a revisit to the wonderful world of Pot Pies. On Sunday, March 13th, bring your best pot pie to the table. You can go back and try the Junkie's delicious recipe or you can try Carla's recipe that I snatched off Bravo's website. I have no idea how many servings it makes but if you want to watch how it's made step by step here's chef Rick Moonen's video at Bravo.

Chicken Pot Pie by Carla Hall

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pound unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup water

1. Chill bowl and paddle of KitchenAid standing mixer.
2. Dissolve salt and sugar into water. Place in fridge.
3. Toss butter pieces in flour and coat each side. With the mixer on low, cut butter into flour. Pour water into mixer all at once. Increase speed to medium and mix until a dough is formed.
4. Divide dough into 8 parts, form into discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll dough 1/8'' thick. Trim dough into 4'' rounds. Place dough rounds on top of greased balls of aluminum foil covered with parchment paper. Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water.) using some of the dough scraps,make a small ball and place on top of the round to create the top of a cloche. Place balls on parchment lined sheet pans and place the dough scraps on a second sheet pan. Bake at 400 until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool, and carefully remove the dome from the ball.

Chicken Filling
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound carrots, cut into 1/2-inch moons
6 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and cut on the bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
4 quarts chicken stock
4 onions, diced
Pepper, to taste
2 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Salt, to taste
4 sprigs thyme
2 whole chicken, 2 pounds each, broken down into 6 pieces

1. In an 8-quart pressure cooker, heat 3 tablespoons canola oil. Sauté half the onions, carrots, and celery with half the thyme, rosemary and sage for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in 2 quarts chicken stock, add chicken breasts. Bring the stock to a simmer and place lid on pressure cooker. Cook for 30 minutes and remove from heat. Allow pot to cool before opening lid. Run cold water on the top if need be.
2. Remove breasts and set aside. Strain the broth into the large rondeau with the other vegetables and place the vegetables onto a sheet pan to cool. Remove the herbs.
3. When the chicken meat is cool enough to handle, tear it into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Chicken Veloute
4 ounces butter
3 tablespoons canola oil
8 ounces flour
10 ounces frozen baby peas
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
1. In the meantime, heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in another large rondeau.
2. Sauté the other half of the onions, carrots, and celery with the other half of the thyme, rosemary and sage for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in 2 quarts chicken stock, add chicken bones from carcasses, wings and dark meat (legs and thighs). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 90 minutes. Strain. Note: Remove dark meat when meat starts to pull away from the bones, about 45 minutes. Set aside. When the meat is cool enough to handle, tear it into bite-size pieces. Combine with the breast meat.
3. In same pot, melt butter then whisk in flour until smooth. Slowly whisk in the hot stock. Bring to a boil then simmer. Mixture should be the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in heavy cream. Bring to a boil again, then simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.

10 baby carrots each, with 1-inch tops, halved lengthwise and roasted
Dehydrated peas, powdered with salt
10 leaves sage, fried
10 sprigs thyme, fried
1. In a medium-sized pot, combine the pulled chicken pieces, vegetables and enough sauce to generously coat the veggies. Reheat until hot, then stir in peas.
2. Place dough scraps in the bottom of individual bowls. Spoon chicken mixture on top, then ladle more sauce, if necessary. Top with the dough cloche. Place the fried herbs and roasted carrots on the side of each dish. Sprinkle the rim with the pea salt. Enjoy!

So come join us on the 13th with your favorite pot pie, be it chicken, turkey or beef. Or maybe you've got something a little more outside the pie pan up your sleeve for our anniversary? Can't wait to see the results.

Sunday Supper - Claypot Chinese Sausage and Rice

Spring-like weather made a brief tantalizing appearance last weekend here in the Midwest. We all breathed a sigh of relief that only a cruel February mistress would teasingly allow. Winter bitch slapped us right back to seasonal reality with an rain/sleet/ice mix of a storm followed by more snow. The sun apparently has taken up residence elsewhere, leaving only rainbow of dirty whites and muddy grays, all made soft and fuzzy by a heavy dense fog. Something was needed to push back at that heavy depressing fog. Trying something new, by cooking with a method that's really old. Clay pot cooking.

My weekend wanderings can often find me poking around any number of non-English speaking Asian grocery stores, playing a never ending game of "what the heck do you do with this?". My favorite store has numerous shelves filled with all manner and size of clay pots. They were beautiful in their simplicity. I bought a small one and went on a quest on how best to put this to use for me. It was one of my other purchases that led to this Sunday Supper.

chinese sausage

Sweet Chinese Sausage. Worlds apart in flavor from our normal tubular meats, this sausage has a mild sweetness I enjoy. A quick google search turned up a good recipe to start with, Clay Pot Rice with Chinese Sausage over at Serious Eats. But before we even get to the recipe, a couple of things to keep in mind when you're cooking in clay pots. No extremes. If you take your pot from a hot environment immediately to a cold environment, you're going to end up with pot shards and a mess on your floor. Your pot has to heat up slowly so only put it in a cold oven and let it preheat along with your oven. A heat diffuser wouldn't be out of the question if your pot is going to sit on the stove for a while. And never take a hot clay pot and put it in the refrigerator or cold water. The other thing you need to do is soak your clay pot. The clay pot retains the water and when it reacts with the heat of an oven or flame, it steams whatever you have contained in the pot. Now that we have the basics down, time to cook. Sauteed the sliced sausage in the pot, removed the slices and toasted the rice in the small amount of fat the sausage released. Added the slices back, along with some pre-cooked tofu, vegetables and small amount of ginger.

ricesausage cooking2

Added some chicken stock, brought it to a boil, turned down the heat to a gentle simmer, popped the lid on and let the steam do all the work.

clay pot on stove

rice-chinese sausage

Forty minutes later you get a fragrant rice dish that gut checks winter right back the north where it belongs. The sweetness of the sausage has fused into the rice with an exquisite flavor. Not much else is needed except maybe the pungent counterbalance of some fresh green onions. Now there's one more bonus to clay pot cooking, especially when you cook rice. That's the crust. You see when you cook rice with this method if your timing is good your rice will develop a golden crunchy crust on the bottom of the pot. That is....if your timing is right. Mine was not. It developed a crust all right but not something anyone would want to eat. It didn't affect the rest of the dish but it's certainly something to keep in mind because cleaning your clay pot also takes some delicacy. No soap or metal scrubbers. Still if you have patience and persistence (hard headed) clay pot cooking is a lot of fun and delicious.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fry Baby Fry

I was dreading this episode. The Paula Deen episode. They had been teasing her appearance since the beginning of the season. She seems to inspire either total devotion or absolute avoidance. You can put me in the avoidance camp. One reason was on total display during this episode. Equating traditional Southern cooking with frying everything. Paula didn't exactly help the cause by admitting that she deep fat fries everything she can get her hands on. Mac and cheese, lasagna and butter were her shining examples of her repertoire. Just because you can totally immerse a thing in hot liquid lard does not mean you should.

At some point I would imagine Paula put out good traditional food at her restaurants. However her installation at the Food Network has somehow morphed her into a cartoon character of her former self. Would you really want to trust your stomach to someone who came up with this recipe gem, Cheesy Ham and Banana Casserole? Go ahead, click the link, if you dare. Cheese, ham, banana, bacon and.....wait for it....potato chips? (Thanks to Jillian Madison of Food Network Humor) People that's just wrong in so many ways. So, for whatever reasons the producers had in their skulls, Paula was invited to judge this episode. Let's all be thankful she wasn't asked to cook.
Which brings us to the Quickfire. Create a deep fried dish. That's all. However it's only a thirty minute challenge so there's not going to be any deep fried dishes that takes hours to make, it's quick, down and dirty. Now you would think the chefs with Southern backgrounds would have a leg up for this challenge. However Carla is sinking like a rock food-wise and Tiffany is a mystery at to why she's still here, and Blaise really isn't into Southern food. That leaves Dale, Antonia and Mike. Now, for reasons unknown, chefs lose their minds for the first half of the episode.

Exhibit A:

Here is Blaise back at the penthouse, explaining an original dish he thought up, called Chicken Oyster on a Halfshell, to Mike. Mike, despite everything else he is not, is a quick study. Seeing that Blaise is not making this recipe for this particular challenge, decides that it would be a perfect dish for Mike to make. Guess the Professor shouldn't have been so free with his lessons. This development cracks me up to no end. Mike's depth of douchiness is revealed to endless, Blaise gets bitten by his own ego by forgetting that this still isn't the coronation procession of Top Chef Richard Blaise. Why Blaise didn't make that recipe to begin with is baffling but he seems to be skipping down the path Marcel blazed with his unending foams. A liquid nitrogen frozen ball of coffee, lime flavored mayo deep fried does nothing for me. Can the dude cook without the tank? Not that any of that mattered because both boys got smoked by Antonia. Too bad Antonia got smoked by Antonia.

Exhibit B:

Here's the winning dish. Notice I said dish, singular. Apparently the rules we the viewers never hear about unless there's a major violation say that the chefs should make two servings of their dish. Antonia, having reached thus far in the competition, somehow forgot this. This truly sucks for her because it was Paula's favorite dish.

Doesn't matter because Antonia can't be considered for the win on that technicality. She loses the challenge and five thousand dollars. Even worse? The winner....

...Chef Law violator, Mike McDouche.

All I can say is watch your back Mike, still a lot of sharp knives left in the competition and Karma's known to have the sharpest knife of them all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This Week On....


Alex Cabot, ADA from Law and Order SVU, attempts to determine if this dope....

...committed Grand Theft Larceny or Grand Stupidity for not being able to think up an original dish on his own. Or perhaps....

...we'll just let Stabler handle him in his own special way.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pimping the Pretty

I couldn't do it. I just couldn't blog the Big Top Chef All Stars Pimp. The company that bought the Elimination Challenge of the last episode certainly doesn't need my microscopic blathering on the results. So here's what happened, the chefs had to shop for everything they needed to make a dish for one hundred people. Pots, pans, heat source, and serving implements. Dale won the challenge, Angelo lost. I threw up a lot in my mouth.

I decided that if we were going to pimp something it was going to be something I enjoyed and wasn't a massive corporation whose advertising budget wasn't larger than some third world country's GDP. I had just the person in mind. Remember this?


This is the artwork painted by Haley Harmon of the blog Don't Eat the Paintings. She painted it after I sent in a recipe from Virginia Willis' cookbook Bon Appetit Y'all. Ever since I've been following Haley's blog and her take on all things culinary. You know I had a huge smile when she recently posted this:

(get out of my head man!!!!!!!!!)

Haley has been very busy. Not only is she still making beautiful art, she's also making grocery bags out of her art...

...she's selling her current artworks...

...and this is the best, she'll take your favorite recipe and make your own personal painting.

How do you get in on all this watercolor goodness? The first place to take your tippy tappy fingertips is Haley's Etsy shop, Don't Eat the Paintings. All the details can be found there. I can't think of a better gift for a loved one than a personal painting of their favorite recipe to hang in their kitchen or dining room. I know I'm going to break out my favorite monkfish recipe.


(Just kidding Haley...snort!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Supper

Cookbooks in my house mostly occupy numerous bookshelves. Bookshelves in my office, bookshelves in my bedroom and of course, bookshelves in my kitchen. The Favorites reside in the kitchen, within easy reach, old friends well thumbed, marked perhaps with wayward droplets of sauce or juice from a fat lime. However one cookbook has had the top spot as my coffee table cookbook for quite some years. Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

Half travelogue, half cookbook, you can imagine the cover shot immediately hooked me through my envious photographer's eyes. Richard Jung took the studio shots and the authors took the location shots, all of which are beautiful and instantly evocative of the couple's time spent traveling up and down the Mekong River. It's a gorgeous, richly detailed book jammed with recipes. Since Southern Saturdays with Virginia took a little break this weekend, I thought Sunday Supper should get a little love and I'd try making Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce. I've linked the recipe from the Food Network since they've credited the authors and it's written just as it is in the cookbook.

thai chicken marinade

One of the reasons I picked this recipe to try, besides it's simplicity, was that I'm trying to develop a more spice heat accepting palate. When it comes to eating the spicier food of life, I usually pass. It's time to see what I've been missing. This recipe definitely covers those bases. The marinade is a black pepper, coriander (cilantro), and garlic paste that's incredibly fragrant. The chicken absorbs that wonderful flavor which is only enhanced by a quick grilling or broiling. However that's only two of the flavor profiles the title of this book hints at, we've still got hot and sweet to apply to our chicken.

Thai Chicken 3

That's where the Hot and Sweet dipping sauce comes in. Apple cider vinegar, sugar, more garlic and a healthy dose of dried red pepper flakes will put the puck in your pucker. Excellent practice for yours truly. Which is why I had plenty of jasmine rice and some steamed bok choy on hand to blunt the heat a little. If you like spice and heat and want a break from your routine buffalo wings, give this recipe a try. Don't forget to check out this book from your local library and linger over it a good long time, you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Hand puppets and shopping?

These are the challenges the final seven chefs face? Not to mention the absolute worst commercials on tv and I'm not talking about the Elimination Challenge.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Utter and Complete Joy

You know, I could do a whole poke and prod about the last episode's Elimination Challenge, a thorough deconstruction of each contestant's dish, who won, who should have won, who lost and why they lost. But here's the thing. This particular segment of this episode was about joy. The Joy of Cooking With Carla. If you haven't figured it out yet, Carla loves to cook.

Actually Carla looks like she just - loves - LIFE! Frankly it's a welcome relief from the anger of Marcel, of the puffery of Mike, or the constant navel gazing of Blaise. Besides the Westminster Dog Show is on and I've got dogs to watch.

So the chefs go on the Jimmy Fallon show and pick from among many of Jimmy's favorite dishes by cell phone shoot out. Carla was hoping to get Chicken Pot Pie. Do you think her trigger finger is quick enough?

Oh yeah, let the Joy Explosion begin....

...just be careful when she starts whipping that hair around. So Carla draws Chicken Pot Pie and she is over the moon. Does the joy stop there?

Hella NO!

No disasters in the kitchen, Dale pisses and moans about not wanting to be anywhere near her, gets all her food out on time

(with a little help from Dale). Which always helps to get to the top three dishes.

Can I say for the record, I thought I was into chicken pot pie.....

...but this woman is into chicken pot pie on a cellular level. I bow down to the Master.

And the Beef Tongue Song?

BRILLIANT!! It's an amazing thing to make all the judges smile and clap at the same time.

The best thing about it was what came after.

Winning the challenge....

...getting to go on Jimmy Fallon's show...and...and.....

...winning a six day trip to Tokyo.

That, my friends, is the joyful face of someone who's had three Elimination wins and three travel prizes. Carla is the last of my original four favorites to take the whole thing. Can she last that long? She's only been in the bottom three once, there's four more episodes and the finale (probably with three finalists) to go. Can she hold on? Or is she peaking at just the right time? I have no idea I just know she's entertaining as hell to watch. GO CARLA GO!!

New Product

Hmmmm, what kind of sauce do we think we should use with this pasta?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Southern Saturdays with Virginia: Simple, Satisfying, Steak

Miss Virginia had a hankering for beef this weekend and we here at the Karmic Kitchen always strive to make women happy. So we put our best cast iron skillet forward to make her Grilled Boneless Ribeye with Porcini Rosemary Rub. But the question had to be it really Southern?


Now before any Southern Belles get their knickers in a knot, let me explain. When one thinks of steak and Southern cuisine, what often comes to mind is this.

Country Fried Steak. After a night of heavy barley pop consumption, a big slab of tenderized chuck steak, breaded, fried, and slathered with cream gravy is just the ticket for many a vicious hangover. But healthy it most certainly is not. So while country fried steak is Southern, Virginia is attempting to cut some fat out of the Southern diet. Which is a good thing for all of us. That's not to say that I believe it's the size of a woman's heart that's more important than the size of her waistline but the point is taken that we have to keep that heart healthy and strong with better food choices. Goodbye country fried steak, hello grass fed, organic beef.

ribeye pan

Now Virginia has her own Southern resources for beef that weren't available to me. But if it's one thing they love here in the Midwest it's a juicy hunk of flavorful beef so it's not like I have to go far. The local Whole Foods carries Panorama Meats, a great source for grass fed beef. One small boneless ribeye later and we're off to the races. Again, it's a really simple preparation. Dried porcini mushrooms and rosemary are pureed until finely ground. One side of the steak gets the porcini crust and then the steak is either grilled or seared in a little oil in your finely seasoned cast iron skillet until your steak reaches the temperature you most enjoy. (Please....if you enjoy your steak well done, don't tell the folks here in the will displease them....) That's it kids.

ribeye dinner

Now Virginia didn't mention any sides to go with this juicy steak and normally I would happily plop down a hot baked potato with an obscene dollop of real butter and maybe even some chopped bacon but in keeping in the spirit of healthier eating I went with a trio of roasted vegetables and fun white bean, tomato and sage recipe to round out my meal. Let me tell you, I felt a lot better after eating this meal than any of the planks of country fried steaks I've eaten. I'm fairly certain you won't need a defibrillator after this meal so you can thank Virginia for that.