Monday, September 30, 2013

JGE 8 - Part I - Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

Good Day,

Today I came home with Harvested a bunch of Scotch Bonnets and now looking for recipes to make sauce. I do like spicy and hot additions to most of my meals.

I have found a couple of recipes... and my mouth begins to water.  I need Scotch Bonnet peppers, carrots, Cho Cho - aka Chayote, garlic, ginger, onions, Allspice, vinegar and oil. Another includes Jalepeños and sugar. And another includes bitter melons, limes, cilantro, and green papaya.

And the drag continues, two weeks without my computer. I am somewhat frustrated that my regular PC has not been returned. I now realize how much my live has become PC-dependent, especially when I do write five different blogs. Even in this day and age of electronic database updates and frequent changes, a supplier of a required part makes the mistake and sends the necessary component to an old, old address of the computer builder. I am currently experiencing a shade of keyboard withdrawal.

But I am enjoying eating...


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

JGE 7 - Classic Italian Salad Reconstructed

Good Day,

How many times have I ordered a salad from a restaurant take out and I get home and have a ton of it leftover? And the majority of the times that salad always contains more rabbit food, i.e., lettuce, than I want to eat... And then I think that I could have gone to the store and bought one of those torn up lettuces in a bag things. Eco friendly, I am not.

Well I did take out, and it was supposed to be a classic Italian salad.  Now don't get me wrong. The salad and all the ingredients were fresh, and I really do like this restaurant and their pizza, especially their Baked Cauliflower Pizza, and chicken wings, and other stuff on the menu...but the amount of lettuce? I know I have The Pack which is comprised of canines.  I do not have a leporine Pack.

And I checked my kitchen as to what I may have just to "enhance" the classic Italian salad...and make it more classic.

There was some shrimp in the freezer. I figured that a quick steam bath of Old Bay Seasoning, water, vinegar, salt would prepare the shrimp. And on the butcher block I found a red onion and Kalamata olives in the fridge. I also added some extra chickpeas.

The salad dressing was provided, but I thought a wee bit more olive oil and some red wine vinegar.

And I ate my leftover greens. Double helping equalled a great supper.

Be healthy and enjoy,


Saturday, September 14, 2013

JGE 6 - Guacamole

Good Day,

There are two ripe avocados just sitting on the counter.  If I don't do something with them right now they are gonna go bad.

I could sit and eat them with no problem, sliced with some salt and pepper and lime juice. But all of a sudden I have a craving for some good and fresh guacamole.

My Ingredients: Two Florida Avocados, the type with the smooth skin, one Lime, one Onion, one large Roma Tomato, a Jalapeño pepper, a couple of cloves of Garlic, some Cilantro, some Cumin, Salt and Pepper...

Next is the easy part, chop everything and mix...

But I do have a secret to keeping the avocado from going brown too quickly as I prepare all the other ingredients, give or take some instructions. I scoop out the flesh of the avocados into a bowl and just before I tackle anything else I squeeze the juice from the lime all over.

Whenever you cut into an avocado, you activate an enzyme, polyphenol oxidase, which causes the monophenols in the avocado to hydroxylate to polyphenols. Got that. This results in the browning you see. I stop this by introducing the acid from the lime juice, and it is the lime juice that I am going to use in my guacamole. I then put the avocado, covered in lime juice, in the refrigerator to cool up while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Check DesiGrub's Adventure with Food. There is a good and quick write up of Avocado Browning.

And then I discovered some great chips, Jeff Foxworthy's Grit Chips, and they are available here in Tampa at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. Grit chips and guacamole. And I ate the whole bowl.

Be healthy, and enjoy... I did.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

JGE 5 – Guisado de Pollo

Good Day,

And there are times when I that I do like to try something completely new.  From time-to-time I want to try a dish and recipe that I have never ever tried before.  But of course, I do not want to be stuck in the kitchen for too, too long a period of time, especially at this present time.  My kitchen is in a state of disrepair because of the recent broken water pipe and I am waiting, and waiting on adjusters, contractors, and the insurance company.

But I will keep my cool, and transpose myself from my kitchen here in Tampa to some small cupboard kitchen in some apartment five stories up. Just don't ask.

From I came upon a picture and a recipe for Guisado de Pollo.  The image is a great one and I thought that it just looked like something that I would want to reproduce, and of course, eat.  Now don’t get me wrong… I am not a naïve cook that I realize that whatever comparable facsimile of a recipe that I am able to construct I will never, and I write never, be able to make my attempt to look, and I say look like the image of the meal and dish.

First of all, and even though I have a working knowledge of Spanish, I had no idea what Guisado translated to.  I did know that there was a possibility that Guisado de Pollo was and should be something to do with a chicken; Pollo (pronounced poi-yoh) - Chicken (pronounced - cheek-in).  I immediately learned that Guisado translates literally to stew.  Okay I have found a new recipe, new to me that is, for Chicken Stew.

But do not expect a regular chicken stew, the type with the cream sauce and dumplings.  This Guisado is sort of tangy and definitely light.  The only oil that I used is one tablespoon of vegetable oil and the oil that is sort of rendered from the chorizo sausages.  From my kitchen, I used two types of Chorizo sausages, fresh and dried.  The Chicken is all thigh meat, already skinned and deboned.  These are the proteins; Chicken and Chorizo.

The rest of the ingredients included about 2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes; three small Carrots; one Red Bell Pepper; two small Onions; one Jalapeño Pepper. I used eight cloves of garlic; one teaspoon each of Cumin and Thyme; three sprigs of Cilantro; the zest and juice of one Lime; one can of Pineapple tidbits; one can of roasted diced Tomatoes.  Couldn't find Chilpotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce at the grocery story, so I used a tablespoon of Chilpotle sauce.  And of course Chicken Broth.

While the Chorizo and Chicken were cooked, I prepared the remainder of my mise en place. And yes I used my iPad to provide me with my reference recipe.  I've never created this type of dish before. I needed guidance.

The Chorizo and the Chicken are removed from the pot and set aside to cool… The chopped carrots, red pepper, and onions are all placed in the heated oil and cooked until tender. Next the Jalapeño pepper, minced garlic, cumin, thyme, pineapple, tomatoes, the Chilpotle pepper sauce; the cilantro and the juice of the one lime are added.  After a couple of minutes the chopped up potatoes and chicken broth are added.  I then toss in the Chorizo and the chicken, which I shredded with a fork.

This is the now the easy part.  The mixture is brought to a boil and then the heat is turned down low and left to stew for about 30 minutes.  The smell and odor wafting through the house is amazing.

At about the penultimate moment there are still two more ingredients to add.  I throw in a couple of tablespoons of capers.  Then I spoon out the Guisdao de Pollo into bowls.  A dollop of sour cream is added to each bowl.  Sliced Cuban bread and we eat.  Delicioso…

What can I say?  A little more time, about two hours, but I learned something new, Guisado de Pollo.  And there were nary a complaint as the bowls were licked cleaned.

I did enjoy,


Sunday, September 8, 2013

JGE 4 – Jim’s Gotta Eat – The Dreaded Ramen Noodle Pack

Good Day,

The dreaded Ramen noodle pack is my got-to-get-done supper when I haven't got a clue as to what I want for supper or I am running too late to prepare a meal.  It is also a good supper whenever or when I am eating late at night.  Obviously, it's easy to prepare and the instructions are right on the package. But before I start, I'm not talking about Cup of Noodles. You know that Styrofoam cup with the dehydrated stuff that requires boiling water and then it sort of expands.  And it still tastes like...

I'm talking about packages of dried noodles that are available in all types of weird and wonderful concoctions. These quick noodles are readily on the shelves at local Asian grocery stores. The regular grocery stores, like Publix, seem to stock just the very few brands that certainly doesn't allow for too much tweaking of the imagination.

Well I just found out that the Ramen or instant noodle was somehow invented in 1958, and of course I'm wondering if that may be the actual age of some of the noodles and ingredient pouches that are included in the packages. And would you believe, that in Japan in the city of Yokohama, there is a Ramen Noodle Museum.

Well, on this particular evening I finished my volunteer work and when I got home I went to the pantry to look for a Ramen noodle package. Well, this is one of the ones I found. The only English words on the package were "INSTANT NOODLE". Hell, I couldn't make heads or tails of what was on or in the pacakge, but sure enough there was a disk of dried noodles and three of what I guess were flavor and add-on pouches.  At least a very simplistic set of English instructions were on the package.

Instructions were: 1. Add pouches to 500 mL of water; 2. Boil; 3. Add noodles; 4. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes; 5. Serve.  Like I said, the instructions do not require a post–doctorate theoretical research aptitude.

For all intents and purposes you eat one Ramen noodle package you have tasted them all. So here's where I go to work with the most minimum effort. I immediately think of what I can add to enhance the flavor and provide some sort of entertainment of taste to my tongue and stomach. Is there something in my kitchen that I can add?

Well, instead of water, I substitute chicken broth. And I find a zucchini, some green onions, and a red chili pepper in the refrigerator. Oh yes, there is a toasted sesame seed container in the pantry.

I followed instructions from the package and at that point just after where I add noodles to the boiling broth and where I turned down the heat to simmer, I add chopped zucchini, chopped green onion, and chopped chili pepper.

I let the noodle concoction simmer for 4 minutes and then dump everything into a noodle bowl. I sprinkle the top with the toasted sesame seeds and supper is served. Damn the red chili peppers are hot. My sinuses clear up.

As you can see the noodle bowl supper is only as limited as your imagination, and as long as it is edible, you can be as gastronomically creative as you want.

Oh and yeah, my blood sugar count is turning downward in a positive direction.



Friday, September 6, 2013

JGE 3 - Jim's Gotta Eat - Swedish Meatballs on Pasta

Good Day,

From IKEA there is a bag of Swedish meatballs, sans horse-meat, in the freezer. It just so happens that there is also a jar of Lingonberry preserves in the refrigerator.  Therefore obviously for supper, I decide that I need to make Swedish meatballs without making the meatballs, since they're quite conveniently and already made. And I want Swedish meatballs for supper.

At IKEA the fare-de-chaque-jour is typically Swedish Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes. Well, the IKEA mashed potatoes taste good, but they're awful loose.   That is, they are too much like wall-paper paste, for my liking. But I really don't think I want to go to the effort of boiling potatoes and waiting the almost 25 minutes for them to cook and then mashing them etc., etc., etc.

So how about Swedish meatballs on pasta? Swedish meatballs on wide egg noodle pasta. There's a bag of those in the pantry.  (I never really know what lurks and I've tucked away in the pantry in this house.)

So my ingredients at this juncture are - frozen Swedish meatballs, Lingonberry preserves, and wide egg noodle pasta. All I need is the sauce. And that should be relatively easy to put together. This is a perfect quick supper – all things being equal, and one that I don't have to think too much about.

So now I can grab the ingredients to make the sauce. I need flour, butter, beef broth, and some sour cream. Well, I don't have any sour cream in the fridge but there is a half-full container of Kefir cheese.  Why not? I also want to add some onion. One small onion chopped up finely.

Pot on the stove, I throw in six tablespoons of butter and melt them down. Next, I add the chopped onion and cook until they're translucent. That simply means until they are sort of like see-through. I then add one third-of-a-cup of flour and mix the onion butter mixture with the flour.  After a couple of minutes I start pouring in the beef broth while whisking to make sure that the sauce is nice and smooth. The recipe that I found asked for 4 cups of beef broth, but I found that it was much better with only three. Once the sauce is thickened to my liking, I turned the stove burner down to simmer.

In the meantime, I've had a pot of salted water boiling so that I can cook the wide egg noodle pasta. And at the same time I've been sort of defrosting and cooking the Swedish meatballs in the microwave. The type that come from IKEA are frozen and pre-cooked so it's just an easy reheat and warm them up.

I drain the pasta, put it on the plate, throw on the meatballs and ladled some sauce all over. I make sure that there is a heaping tablespoon of Lingonberry preserves.

I also add a quick salad of young greens and capers, drizzled with olive oil and caper vinegar.  And I go to town… and eat.

Obviously this didn't take too much time to create a generous dinner of Swedish meatballs on pasta accompanied with Lingonberry preserves and a salad. I definitely am channeling the Swedish Chef.

Be healthy and enjoy,


Thursday, September 5, 2013

JGE 2 - Jim's Gotta Eat - Enchiladas

Good Day,

I tried something for the first time… Enchiladas. And no, I do not mean that it was the first time to eat enchiladas, but it was my first time to construct and cook them. For most of time, I have sort of avoided cooking Mexican, excepting microwaved Nachos, and Sushi recipes... just because. But this time I thought what the hell? What could I lose? And actually, of all the cooking experts out there right now Rick Bayless is sort of my culinary mentor.

I had to make a quick stop at the grocery store. Well I started with a can of Old El Paso Medium Enchilada Sauce which I picked up at one of the local Publixes. There is a pretty easy recipe on the can, and I thought why not? There are only four ingredients listed, including the 6-inch flour tortillas, on the back label and I thought that this recipe sound pretty basic and boring.

Ground beef, Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce, cheese and flour tortillas.  I had to ramp it up.  I added chopped jalapeño peppers, chopped onion, chopped garlic, and refried beans.  Oh and yes I did add some cilantro to fancy-up the plating.

The prep work and the construction was quite easy.  I fried and then drained the ground beef.  I then pushed the cooked ground beef aside in the frying pan and then added the chopped ingredients.  Once had cooked to my liking, I then added the refried beans, a bit of the enchilada sauce, and a fair amount of shredded cheese. I combined all items quickly together.

I preheated the oven to 375 °F, I Pammed a casserole dish, spooned the meat concoction onto the open tortillas, rolled them up and placed them into the dish. I I poured the remaining enchilada sauce and spread a good amount of cheese over the top.  The completed and fixed-up casserole dish was put into the oven and baked for about 20 minutes.

Turned out quite well. Well the picture, I am not a food stylist or photographer... It tasted good and I think I would try this again, maybe with shredded chicken or anything else that I could dream up.   And my blood sugar ranged in the next morning at 111.

I did, enjoy,


JGE 1 - Jim's Gotta Eat - Well, What Have I Got To Lose?

Good Day,

Guess what? I was asked, yesterday, to think about writing a cooking blog.

My response was, well, maybe… But there are thousands, upon thousands of amateur cooks and wannabe chefs’ blogs and sites in Internetland. But ya know the right buttons were pushed. And then I thought, why not?

So this is the beginning and a new venture.  This is my new blog - Jim’s Gotta Eat.

And so does anybody else who sits down without the folderol of being formal gotta eat.  All we got to do is have an idea or an ingredient, make the preparations and eat.

My blog is my attempt at an extremely relaxed and easy way of preparing food and meals without having to put too much thought or effort into the preparation and cooking. This is not gonna be some nose in the air cause-that’s-the-way-they-do-it in the expert kitchens and cooking institutions. This is going to be my thoughts of what I want to eat, when I want to eat, what I would like to cook, and what I’ve got in the kitchen and pantry. And yes there are times that someone has got to stop at a grocery store.

And who knows what concoctions may appear on the table, end up in the stomach, or end up in the trash.

This is a work, and a menu, in progress. So here I go, Jim's Gotta Eat.

Be healthy and enjoy,