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.



Juxtaposition Soup July 15, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 1:28 pm
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In celebration of Bastille Day, I had a few friends over for some French inspired cuisine. The hit of the meal was my Nasturtium soup.

Nasturtium is a flower that grows pretty wild, often regarded just higher than a weed.

Growing up, we had them in the yard and my mother would throw them into salads every once in a while. So I was familiar with the taste (strong, peppery) but never thought much of them until I read the biography of Alice Waters. I had to try the soup she mentions in her interview. The trick was, I couldn’t just walk into a market and buy a pound of leaves and flowers… I had to find it. Foraged food is exotic and free 🙂

Then there is the juxtaposition I mentioned. Truffles, of the mushroom persuasion. The highly coveted and very expensive little buggers that you only find in the best of markets and restaurants. When I first tasted my soup I liked it, but felt something was missing, so I drizzled a little white truffle oil on it and BAM! I wanted to bathe in it. It was simple yet rich and really yummy.

Here is the recipe, I hope you like it as much as I do.

nasturtium soup

Nasturtium Soup with Truffle Oil

2 leeks
5-6 cloves of garlic
6 cups chicken stock (make it from sratch with mirepoix if you can, belive me     it makes a huge difference! See bottom for stock recipie)
4 cups fresh nasturtium leaves and flowers
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 Tablespoons truffle oil (preferably white truffle)

In a large pot, pour in chicken stock and set heat to medium. Rinse nasturtium leaves and remove stems and seeds and add to chicken stock.  Slice leeks thinly (reserving a small handful for garnish if desired) and chop garlic, add to pot. Let cook for about a half hour. While soup is cooking, pluck the petals from the flowers, the whole thing is edible but for presentation purposes I’d recommend just the petals. Strain the soup and return the broth to the stove, set heat to high and gently stir while adding cream and pepper, add salt if you feel necessary. Do not let the soup boil, it will curdle the cream.

Pour into bowls, drizzle a little truffle oil and sprinkle the petals.


look at all that mirpoix

look at all that mirepoix

Basic Chicken Stock

3-4lbs Chicken pieces, preferably with skin and bones – leftover chicken carcasses work too, if you happen to have one leftover.
1 large onion
2-3 carrots
3-4 stems of celery
3 cloves garlic
1 Scarborough Faire (1 tsp each: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) hehe

Place chicken in pot and fill with just enough water to cover. Clean and chop the rest of the ingredients and let cook for at least an hour, the longer the better. Strain and let cool, overnight works best, then skim the fat off the top.

I didn’t mention salt and pepper because I assume this will be added to something else, if serving as is – go ahead and season to taste. 🙂


mahal kita adobo June 9, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 6:36 pm
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Mahal kita means I love you in Tagalog and I LOVE Adobo. It’s one of the easiest things to make and works wonderfully in slow cookers. Adobo is a Filipino classic, about as common as mac and cheese for Americans. The ingredients are simple and the flavor is complex yet light.

Chicken Adobo

3 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breast and/or thigh
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
1 bulb garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons sliced fresh ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Peel and crush the entire clove of garlic, use the side of your knife to make short work of it by laying the knife on top of the cloves and banging down with the heel of your hand. You can roughly chop after removing the skin, but the garlic will break down while cooking. Crush the peppercorns in a similar way, just a few, the flavor will come out whole. Slice a few pieces of ginger from the root, again you can do this pretty roughly – it will make it easier to remove later. You can also place the pepper in a piece of cheese cloth – like a pepper tea bag. This will lend the pepper flavor without the intense and somewhat unavoidable bites of pepper later.

Add all ingredients into a large pot, or a slow cooker and cook for at least 2 hours or as long as you can. The chicken will start to flake apart after about 2 hours.  Remove the bay leaves (pepper bag, if used)  and chunks of ginger and serve over rice.



Green Chicken March 17, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 2:39 pm
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Yes, it’s really green. I placed the chicken in brine overnight; which is a great way to season chicken. It makes the meat moist and adds flavor. Here is the recipe for brine, add coloring if you like.

Herb Brined Chicken

1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1 head garlic, cut in half and beaten up a bit – so the flavors seep out
1 onion, sliced
3 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
3 lemons, halved

Fill a clean container with lid (I prefer plastic) with 1/2 gal of water, in a saucepan boil the other half gal of water and mix in salt and sugar and herbs. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolves and pour into the large container. Throw in the other ingredients, squeeze lemons before adding. Let liquid cool and add chicken.

Refrigerate for at least an hour per pound, I left mine in overnight (14hrs total I think) but diluted the mixture after 3 hours. You do not want to over brine, it will be way too salty. Under brining has no negative consequence but will lack flavor.

Rinse and dry the chicken, cover in butter and roast.



Fall Harvest October 29, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:37 pm
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My next delivery of organic produce is coming on Wednesday and it is root tastic! It really reflects the season and I’m looking forward to my starchy, earthy meals.

Here’s whats in the ‘bullpen’
Acorn Squash
Bagged Baby Spinach
Crimini Mushrooms
Dandelion Greens
Delicata Squash
Globe Eggplant
Purple Top Turnips
Sweet Potato
Varietal Mixture Summer Squash

The starting lineup:

Braised Turnips

1 lb. turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 lb. bacon
1/4 c. onion, minced
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. chicken stock
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. parsley, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Blanch the turnips in boiling salty water for 1 minute. Drain the turnips in a colander, run them under running cold water and pat them dry. In a large skillet, saute diced bacon until crisp and drain. Add to the skillet onions and butter and cook until onions are soft. Add the turnips, chicken stock, sugar and salt. Toss the mixture cook covered, over moderately low heat for 15 minutes or until turnips are tender. Cook the mixture uncovered, stirring until the liquid is gone. Add bacon, parsley, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Celery and Parsnip Stew

1 lb. chicken breast – cut into chunks
1/2 lb. parsnips
2 med. onions, chopped
3/4 lb. celery, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 c. chicken stock or low-sodium bouillon, or water
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. thyme
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Start chicken cooking in stock or bouillon on medium heat with parsley, bay leaf and thyme for about 15 to 20 min – depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces. Peel the parsnips and chop into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. Melt the butter in a large saucepan; add the onions and celery, sauteing until golden but not browned. Mix in the flour, let cook for 2 minutes, and add parsnips, carefully add soup. Stir, cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Remove the bay leaf, season with pepper to taste and serve.

Sweet and Sour Dandelion Greens

1 lb. dandelion greens
1/2 lb. sliced bacon
1/3 c. + 3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1 raw egg
2-3 hard boiled eggs

Thoroughly wash dandelion greens and tear in half. Set aside. In skillet, saute bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Reserve 4 tablespoons bacon drippings and put in medium saucepan. Stir in sugar, flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup water and vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and comes to a boil.

In small bowl, with wire whisk or fork, beat egg well. Gradually beat in some of hot mixture. Return to rest of mixture in saucepan. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil gently for 4 minutes. Break crisp bacon into bite sized pieces and slice hard boiled eggs. Add with dandelion greens to boiling mixture. Stir several times or until greens are slightly wilted. Serve immediately.

I also harvested 2 lbs of kumquats. I plan on making more bread, it was so tasty… and maybe some marmalade?


Too Much Celery September 18, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 5:05 pm
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I’m noticing a trend here… First I had too many Kumquats, now celery. I might just start up my own produce market.

Here is a simple and tasty way to polish off a head (is that the right term?) of celery.

Braised Celery with Parmesan

1 head celery with leaves, ribs separated
1 cup chicken broth, low-sodium canned or homemade, or water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 to 12 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, optional
1 sprig thyme, optional
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Trim off the tough bottoms of the celery ribs. Split the ribs lengthwise and cut into 2 to 3-inch long pieces. Chop 2 tablespoons of the celery leaves, toss the rest or save for stocks, etc.

In a medium skillet, add celery, broth, olive oil, garlic, celery seeds and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and then adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Set a lid slightly ajar on the skillet (so steam can escape). Cook until the celery is tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Remove the celery and reduce the cooking liquid. Remove the thyme sprig, and pour the cooking liquid over the celery, sprinkle with the cheese and serve.

This one makes my eastern European heart happy… Oscar Meyer makes a nice packaged precooked chicken cubes that would be perfect for this. There is a lot a salt in the seasoning, so keep that in mind when you salt the celery.

Spaetzle with Chicken and Poached Celery Hearts

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound cooked chicken, diced
6 celery hearts
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup white wine
Salt and pepper

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well and mix in eggs and milk. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Dampen a plastic cutting board and place dough mixture on it. Cut off strips of dough into water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain spaetzle, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

Cut hearts in half lengthwise. Boil celery in salted water until fork tender, about 5 minutes and shock in cold water. Warm up butter in saute pan and saute celery until golden brown, about 2 minutes over low heat. Add white wine, salt, and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large skillet heat up butter and saute spaetzle until lightly brown. Toss with chicken and garnish with poached celery.


Freeform yummy September 6, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 11:42 am
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I had the idea of making a Moroccan inspired chicken dish, I had the ingredients in mind but no recipe to speak of. So I winged it and it was super tasty.

I’m not sure if I’ve got the proportions exact, feel free to adapt this to your liking and let me know if you have discovered a fantastic addition.

1 lbs Chicken, boneless in sections
2 cups rice
½ cup dates, chopped
¼ cup Spanish olives with pimento, chopped
¼ cup capers
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
½ cup leeks, sliced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1 ½ chicken stock
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili pepper
1 tbsp ground black pepper
Juice of ½ lemon

These instructions are for the oven, but would make an excellent crock-pot recipe.

Place rice in bottom of a deep casserole dish, chop dates, olives and tomatoes and sprinkle over rice. Place chicken pieces on top evenly leaving some spaces between so fluid can reach rice. Sprinkle chicken with spices and let sit while preparing liquid.
Chop leeks and garlic, heat olive oil in a large pan and sauté leeks until slightly brown, add garlic and brown a little longer. Add wine and stir to release the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let liquid reduce for a few minutes, then add chicken stock or water and bullion, heat liquid slightly and pour over rice and chicken. Cover casserole with lid and bake at 450 for 2 hours or until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice – if you have time to cook it longer at a lower temp, even better.