Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Black-Eyed Peas November 17, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 2:02 pm
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My humps, my humps… Oh wait, the other kind of black-eyed peas.

Last night I made b.e.p. with kale. A simple, healthy  and very tasty meal. I threw in some leftover steak, but this would also be very tasty with chicken. It stands up fine without meat, for the vegetarians out there not appalled by my excessive use of bacon.

Black-Eyed Peas and Kale

1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 bunch kale
1 cup dried black eyed peas
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoon vinegar
2-3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt

1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast or lean steak, cubed

Rinse beans and remove any funky looking beans or stones. Place in a bowl or pot and fill with water, about an inch above the beans. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and a couple bay leaves and let sit for 4 hours or more. The beans are ready when you can cut one in half easily with your fingernail.

Rinse and chop kale, removing the hard stems and set aside to drain.

Start beans cooking on a medium heat, once boiling reduce to low and simmer while cooking the kale.

Sautee onions in a large pan with olive oil until soft and transparent, add garlic and sautee for another few minutes.

If you are adding meat, toss this in now. Sauteing for another few minutes.

Add kale and toss carefully. You might need to add kale in batches to prevent spillage. Add sprinkle with cumin and paprika and cover pan with a lid for a few minutes. The kale will cook down and release liquid into the pan, add the rest of the kale (if necessary).

Drain some of the liquid from the beans, but not all, and add to the kale. Add vinegar, tomatoes and parsley and toss well.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve by itself or over rice.



Crock Pot Beef Stew November 4, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 2:46 pm
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Today a friend asked for a recipe for Beef Bourguignon using a crock pot.

This is a slightly altered version of Julia Child’s, the big differences being this doesn’t include bacon and I replaced butter for olive oil.  Sorry Julia.

Beef Stew

2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, full-bodied
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon ketchup
4 cloves smashed garlic
1 large onion, in large chunks
carrots, peeled, in large chunks
4 celery stalks, in large chunks
1 1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 teaspoon of each: thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage
3 bay leaves

*Instead of cooking the whole thing in a large pot, sauté the beef in a pan and deglaze the pan with wine after transferring everything to the crock pot. *

Place flour in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a heavy Dutch oven over high heat. Working in batches, add beef to pot and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove beef and toss in flour. Return all meat to pot. Add wine, garlic, broth, ketchup and herbs. Cover; simmer for about 1/2 hour. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on a low temp for 2 hours or longer.


Bork-bork, Meatballs June 19, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 2:56 pm
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I was a little too busy eating to take photos of my last culinary exploit, so today you get a peek at the first chef to inspire me.  I could not be where I am today without his chocolate mousse recipe: “you put the chocolate on the moose”.

Last night I made Swedish meatballs. An easy and tasty meal. Traditionally using beef or pork, but I used ground turkey. I don’t work with ground chicken much, it’s not as common and tends to cook a little too dry. For this recipe a higher fat content is preferred as it will produce more drippings for the gravy.  Note: you might notice, I add brown gravy mix to most of my ground meat dishes. I think it adds a nice meaty flavor to the meat – it’s one of my secret ingredients 🙂

Swedish Meatballs and Baby Red Potatoes

1 lbs ground meat
1 egg
3/4 c. bread crumbs (or 2 slices bread torn into pieces)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. brown gravy mix
salt and pepper to taste

1 lbs new red potatoes
1/2 c/ salt

1/2 c. flour
2 c. chicken or beef broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the meatball ingredients into a bowl, lightly oil and heat a large saute pan. Roll meatballs into balls about the same size as the potatoes. lightly brown the meatballs on all sides in the large pan, then transfer pan to oven. Cook about 15 min or until thoroughly cooked.

Fill a medium pot with water, potatoes and salt, slow boil until fork tender.

Take pan from oven and set meatballs aside, leaving the drippings in the bottom of the pan. Add flour and return pan to stove, mix flour with drippings and cook until lightly brown, then add broth and stir constantly until gravy has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve meatballs and potatoes with gravy and lingonberry jam, garnish with chopped parsley.


Mirepoix June 10, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 8:51 pm
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From wikipedia: Mirepoix (pronounced /mɪər ˈpwɑː/) is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery celeriac). Traditionally, the ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 of onions, celery, and carrots. These three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics.

Mirepoix derives its name, as do many other elements of French cuisine[1], from the patron of the chef who established it – in this case one of the house of Lévis, seigneurs of Mirepoix since the eleventh century and a famous name in Languedoc.[2

Those simple ingredients make the base of most stocks, soups, stews and sauces.  As far as culinary holy trinities go, mirepoix – in my opinion – is second only to garlic, onion and extra virgin olive oil. It is safe to say I am a fan.

Mirepoix is standard in many cuisines and can be found in many supermarkets packaged together, pre-chopped. I believe that pre-chopped mirepoix is a sin. But it’s one of those minor sins, like red meat on the sabbath. I do it all the time, for the sake of time, but I do not recommend it for the more delicate dishes. Take the time and chop the ingredients, it adds love to the food and that is the best ingredient. </soapbox>

Tonight’s dish is not French, but uses celery, carrots and onion the way is was intended. The following recipe is for Australian shepherd’s pie. NOTE: no Australian Shepherds were harmed in the making of this meal! This is the Aussie version of an English classic, traditionally using lamb but beef and turkey work equally well. This is a popular dish with the men in my life, and I would assume works just as well with kids. It is a meat and potato meal, while slipping in a good deal of veggies.

Another thing to note, I make my version using ketchup. Tomato paste, tomato sauce or ketchup, it’s been greatly debated and I stand by my choice. It’s the same question with Pad Thai and my answer is the same there. I just like the way it makes stuff taste.

Now, on to the food…

Aussie Shepherd’s Pie

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1 lbs ground meat
2 tbs flour
2 cups Beef stock
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 dried bay leaf
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs ketchup

For Mashed Potato Topping:
4 potatoes, cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk

Sauté onion, carrot and celery in a large saucepan with olive oil for 5 minutes or until soft. Add ground meat, stirring occasionally to break up lumps, for 5 minutes or until the meat changes color. Sprinkle the flour and cook for 2 minutes or until combined. Add stock, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and zucchini. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large pot cook potatoes until tender. Drain well. Return to the pan, add butter and mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth. Add milk and stir until incorporated. Season to taste and let cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with breadcrumbs, then add the meat mixture. Pipe the mashed potatoes on top of the mixture to make the “crust”. I make a piping bag out of a large ziploc – fill bag and cut the corner. Bake until the top is brown and the filling is bubbly.



Thai Beef Salad (Yam Neua) May 13, 2008

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 9:12 pm
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This is dedicated to the lovely ladies sitting next to me during the cooking class tonight. Ladies, there is also a posting for wine pairing specific to Thai food, if you are interested. ENJOY!

1-lb decent quality steak, sirloin or other
10 (or more) fresh hot Thai chili peppers, slice crosswise very thin (or substitute jalapenos or serrano chilies, minced)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1″ inch ginger, grated or minced
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tblsp ground rice powder (optional) you can throw dry sweet rice in a food processor to make powder.
12 sprigs fresh mint
1 small cucumber, sliced thin
2 to 3 shallots, sliced crosswise very thin or 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, stems removed
1 heart of Romaine lettuce
Mix garlic, ginger, chiles, vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Taste and add more fish sauce, lime or sugar if desired. Use half of the dressing as a marinade for the beef . You can leave it overnight or as little as an hour.

Drain the marinade and sprinkle rice powder on meat before grilling. Grill or broil the steak until medium-rare. Trim off any fat. Cool and slice thin, into pieces approx. 2 inches across and 1/8 inch thick.

Add the meat, cucumbers and shallots and toss with remaining dressing.

Make a bed of the lettuce on a serving plate. Place the beef on top. Garnish with cilantro and mint. Serves 2 to 3 as an appetizer or as part of a meal.


What pairs well with Tom Yum Gai? August 10, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:19 am
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I pulled this from sfgate, sorry for the phoned in posting but I find this to be very useful.

I’ll list my recipe for Tom Yum soon, it’s my sick soup and I don’t want to jinx myself and talk about it whilst healthy 🙂

Grilled meats

Thailand’s culinary culture is happily enjoyed alfresco – something we see less of in American Thai food. Food of any kind is thrown on a grill, from chiles, garlic and shallots – the basics for some curries – to meats. These are lightly salted, if at all, and sometimes marinated, leaving them easily accessible to all manner of sauces and dips.

Food: Satays in all the variations, beef, pork, chicken, lamb. Most meat proteins can be grilled over charcoal, from whole fish to chicken to beef that is intended for a salad, as in the beef salad recipe we include.

Wine: Pinot Gris, sweet Riesling or Chenin Blanc if there’s more fat and sugar in the marinade or sauce (like peanut sauce). Dry rosé also worked well here. A surprise winner was dry Lambrusco – with the tannin of red wine and the acidity and chill of white, it straddles two worlds.

Salads and herbs

Papaya, mango and banana blossom are all major ingredients in this group. Lime is also a major flavor component. When a protein such as beef or chicken is present, you’ll find perfumed herbs such as cilantro, mint, basil, lemongrass, magrut lime and galangal.

Food: Green papaya salad, beef salad, chicken or pork larb, green mango salad, green chile sauce, minced catfish salad. Tom yum and tom ka soups (if light on the canned coconut milk) also fit here, due to their use of lime juice and lemongrass or galangal.

Wine: Torrontes, which combines the aromatics of Viognier and the sharp edges of Sauvignon Blanc, was a runaway hit. Albarino, a similar wine, works well too – as do dry Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, though with less finesse. Riesling was a solid performer, the sweetness level matching the dish.

This was one of the few categories where Gewurztraminer worked, though not always – a bit of sweetness helped stave off occasional bitter notes in the wine. Some reds work, too: Lighter Tempranillo, Barbera, Beaujolais, St. Laurent and light Cabernet Franc with the beef salad, and a Chinon even went well with the chile sauce. Some sparkling wines will also work. In all cases, wines with high acid and herbal notes fit the bill.

Fish and fish sauce

Mouthfeel is a major factor in this group, especially with the use of fish sauce or shrimp paste either as ingredients or condiments. Their salty, sharp flavors require an even sharper acidity in wine, even a slightly Sherry-like note that works with the pointed anchovy flavors.

Food: Tod mun (fried fish cakes); fried and grilled fish, which usually are served with nam pla (fish sauce dip); anything else served with nam pla.

Wine: Dry aromatic whites such as Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Edelzwicker. A dry Sherry works well, as would the tangy wines of L’Etoile from France’s Jura region. With more fish sauce, dry wines seem the better match, including Alsatian-style Rieslings. When you add more sweetness, sweet Riesling and even sweet Chenin Blanc are better.

Sweet and sour

One of the most popular flavor combinations in Thai food largely borrows from Chinese tradition. In both food and wine, you need a balance of sweet and acid. Red wines can work, so long as they have a minimum of tannins.

Food: Pad Thai, northern Thai pork curry, tofu tod (deep-fried tofu with sweet-and-sour dip)

Wine: You want high sugar, high acid and a high level of fruit extract – dense, sweet and tart. Hence Riesling is the undisputed winner here, as are Scheurebe, Pinot Gris and other aromatic white wines, the sweetness level matched to the dish. Zinfandel is a good pick among reds, with its lingering sweetness – though be mindful of alcohol levels. Balanced Pinot Noir with just a hint of sweetness can work, too.


Soy sauce often plays a role here, and the combination of salt and fat begs for a lean, fresh wine to cut through and cleanse your palate. Fish sauce adds to the intense salty flavors.

Food: Stir-fried noodles, Thai fried rice.

Wine: A surprisingly versatile category. Dry Riesling, sparkling wine and even Sherry-like wines offset the fat and glutamate flavors. Sweeter wines work when there is sugar in the dish. So do lower-tannin red wines like Barbera and even Merlot. Purely herbaceous wines like Torrontes and Sauvignon Blanc were too lean and clashed with the food.


Without canned coconut milk, some dishes in this group overlay with the herbal flavors of salads. With it, you’ll need more direct acidity and sweetness in your wine. Typical takeout curries, with lots of canned coconut milk and sugar, call for sweet, high-acid wines; late-harvest Rieslings are also in order. Curries with little or no coconut milk, especially those from Northern Thailand, often provide the most harmony with wine. (If you’re lucky enough to run into a curry made with fresh – or frozen – coconut milk, the range of wine options open up because fresh coconut is subtle and floral and not clingy in mouthfeel.)

Food: Red, green, yellow, Penang or Mussaman curries are usually made with coconut milk. Northern curries, including “jungle curries” and others called priao wan (sour-sweet) often do not. Complex satay dips often resemble curries, but include ground peanuts.

Wine: When coconut milk is present, as is typical with the sweet spices of Mussaman curry, more texture to the wine is important; you might turn to the richly nuanced white wines of Alsace or the Anderson Valley. Lotus of Siam’s Atcharawan adds another good rule of thumb: Look for wines from a cooler vintage with higher acidity (like 2002 or 2004 in Germany) to match the milk’s density.

Riesling works well across the board – the sweetness level depending on the sweetness of the dish. Fattier dishes can withstand a light red wine – Merlot or, again, Lambrusco. When more herbs and less sugar are present, as with jungle or green curries, consider the same wines that work for salads – including Torrontes, dry Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris.

Laarb (Grilled Beef Salad)

1/2 cup dry glutinous (sticky) rice
1 tablespoon thinly sliced lemongrass
4 slices galangal
4 magrut (kaffir) lime leaves
1 pound beef: filet mignon, loin or flank steak
4 to 5 tablespoons lime juice
3 to 4 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder, or to taste
2 tablespoons roasted rice powder + more for garnish
1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar or palm sugar
2 tablespoons sliced green onion2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon thinly sliced lemongrass (tender part only)2 tablespoons sliced shallot
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Cabbage leaves

For the roasted rice powder: In a dry nonstick pan over medium heat, combine rice, lemongrass, galangal and lime leaves, and dry-fry, stirring, shaking and turning the rice and herbs, until the rice grains and herbs tu
rn dark brown and are fragrant, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then grind to a fine powder. The rice powder will keep in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for months.

For the salad: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill beef until medium rare to medium, about 4 minutes per side. If you don’t have a grill, fry the beef on both sides in a little oil. Slice the beef across the grain into thin strips. Place meat and juices in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, and toss to coat the meat evenly. Add the fish sauce, cayenne, roasted rice powder and coconut sugar. Mix well. Add green onion, cilantro, lemongrass, shallot, mint leaves and sawtooth coriander or cilantro, and toss gently to mix.

Transfer to a serving plate lined with cabbage leaves.


Menu for my housewarming August 3, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 9:54 am
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It’s a potluck, but I think it’s customary for the host to provide some munchies, usually the main course. I was thinking lasagna, I make a damn good lasagna, but I’m kinda tired of it. So I was thinking tapas. And since this is happening during a meteor shower, it seems fitting that all of the items I will serve look like little meteors (lumpy balls, tee hee).

Here is the menu… doncha wanna come and play?

Walnut and Blue Cheese-Coated Grapes / Dates

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine and then altered a bit

1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

8 ounces crumbled Cabrales (Spanish blue cheese), Roquefort or Gorgonzola may be substituted

6 ounces cream cheese

20 loose seedless red grapes (about 1/4 pound with stems)

½ lb dates

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. On a sheet pan spread out the walnuts and toast in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Melt butter and add sugar, when sugar has melted pour in the toasted walnuts and toss. remove and spread out again on the cool sheet pan.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the blue cheese and the cream cheese until smooth. Put one tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the palm of one hand and in it roll a grape, shaping the mixture around the grape to coat, repeat the process for the dates. Cover the grape and date balls and chill on a sheet pan for 15 minutes.

While the balls cool, chop the candied walnuts into smaller pieces, you can also use a rolling pin and break them into peices. Roll the cheese-coated balls in the walnut mixture to cover completely and chill for 30 minutes or until coating is firm.

Spanish Meatballs baked in tomato sauce (adapted from the Albondigas recipe)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 can of tomato sauce
1 bouillon cube and 1 cup water
1 zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, sliced
1/2 lb of string beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pound ground turkey
1 cup of cooked white rice
1 raw egg
1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dried oregano, crumbled
1 tablespoon of brown gravy mix
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Prepare meatballs. Mix rice into meat, adding mint, gravy mix, salt and pepper. Add raw egg. Form beef into 1-inch meatballs. Return soup to gentle simmer. Add meatballs and remaining veggies to soup. Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour. Add a few pinches of oregano, cilantro and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place meatballs in a dish and prepare sauce.

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and minced garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Sauté veggies until tender, add tomato sauce, onion and garlic mixture and broth. Pour mixture over meatballs and bake until meatballs are brown.

Plantanos Rellenos

1 plantain, very ripe
1 can black refried beans
corn starch

crema fresca
diced onion
cajota cheese

Mash Plantain, place some mashed plantain in hand and spread into palm. Drop a small amount of black bean into the middle and wrap plantain mixture around the beans. Drop balls into corn starch and then deep fry.
Serve with crema, crumbled cajota, diced onion and chopped cilantro.


The secret ingredent August 2, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 1:37 pm
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I had a craving for Albondigas : Mexican meatball soup, and went searching the internet for recipes.

I have made it before but never got the flavor just right. I found a recipe on that listed mint as the missing ingredient. MINT! Sure, why didn’t I think of that? I have always been impressed with the effect a little sprig of mint has on flavors. That said, try a little mint in your green salad, it’s awesome.

So here is the recipe from elise, with a few changes of my own.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
3 quarts of chicken stock or beef stock OR water and bullion cubes (about 2 large)
1 or 2 zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 large carrot, sliced
1/2 lb of string beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 or 2 potatoes, cut into large chunks (not really necessary, but I love meatballs and potatoes together)
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1/3 cup of raw white rice
1 raw egg
1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dried oregano, crumbled
1 tablespoon of brown gravy mix
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and minced garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and broth mixture. Bring to boil and simmer. Add carrots and potatoes.

Prepare meatballs. Mix rice into meat, adding mint, gravy mix (sounds weird but makes ground meat taste meatier), salt and pepper. Add raw egg. Form beef into 1-inch meatballs. Return soup to gentle simmer. Add meatballs and remaining veggies to soup. Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour. Add a few pinches of oregano, cilantro and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6-8.