Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Feeding the Masses, First Course February 11, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:55 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I had a birthday feast last weekend. I was hoping for pictures, but none have surfaced yet. I promise to post as soon as they are passed on to me.

I will post each course separately.

Roasted Squash Soup

6 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
3 cups vegetable broth or chicken
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, toss diced squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour squash into a large baking dish and spread into an even layer. Roast squash until it starts to brown, turn oven to broil for a few minutes to brown further. Remove from oven and add wine, scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen juices.

Transfer contents to a large pot, add stock and set to a low temperature. Use a hand blender to purée the contents, adding more stock if necessary. If you do not have a hand blender, you can use a regular blender in batches. Add nutmeg and ginger, raise heat to medium and let soup cook until just starting to boil. Reduce back to low and carefully add cream. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


Another fan favorite July 17, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 10:10 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

For my last housewarming (a year ago) I made a giant pot of black bean soup with chorizo meatballs. I promised for a year that I would write up the recipe and never got around to it.

Well here it is, sorry for the delay. I am not including the recipe for the meatballs, it is a variant of my albodigas using half chorizo and half ground meat. I made a vegan version and it was just as good. The entire meal can be made vegan easily without losing much taste.

Black Bean Soup

2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth or veggie stock
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
pinch of oregano
4 cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
Juice of one lime

Garnish options:

lime slices
chopped green onions
Sour cream
Grated cheddar
crumbled cojita cheese (or feta)
Chorizo pieces
tortilla chips or fried tortilla slices

Dump all ingredients into a large pot and let cook on a medium temperature for at least an hour. I let mine cook overnight on the lowest setting and added a lot more stock – it cooked down quite a bit. I you prefer a smooth consistency (I do) use a hand blender to bend ingredients in the pot and let cook for another 15 min at least, salt and pepper to taste.

I serve the soup plain and fill the table with toppings. You can end up with a whole meal in the bowl or just enjoy it simple… both tasty



Juxtaposition Soup July 15, 2009

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 1:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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. 🙂


Comfort food September 11, 2008

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been in a mood lately. Perhaps it’s a feeling of displacement after moving. Whatever it is, I’ve been craving comfort food. Rich starchy goodness that hugs me from the inside. Here are a few goodies in case you are feeling down.

Potato and portobello mushroom gratin

1 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/2-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms – or any wild mushroom of your liking
1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms
12 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced 4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes or white-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine 1 1/2 cups hot water and porcini in small bowl. Let stand until mushrooms soften, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup soaking liquid. Chop porcini; set aside. Remove and chop stems from portobellos; place in large bowl. Using small spoon, scrape away dark gills from portobellos and discard. Cut portobello caps into 1/2-inch pieces; add to bowl.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped portobello stems and caps and sauté 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and reserved porcini and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat each of two 13x9x2-inch glass baking dishes with 1 tablespoon oil. Combine remaining 7 tablespoons oil, potatoes, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in large bowl; toss to coat. Layer 1/6 of potato mixture in each prepared dish (there will not be enough to overlap slices). Top potatoes in each with 1/4 of mushroom mixture. Repeat layering. Top with remaining potatoes. Pour 1/3 cup reserved porcini soaking liquid over potatoes in each dish. Cover dishes with foil.

Bake gratins 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until tops are brown and potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover with foil and rewarm in 350°F oven about 20 minutes.)

Rice Porridge or Jook

This is a traditional Chinese breakfast. Super easy and yummy, a perfect way to start a cold winter’s day.

1/2 cup rice: white, long grain or glutinous works (jasmine is my standard)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of sesame oil or peanut oil
2-4 cups water (depending on desired thickness)
2-4 cups chicken stock (depending on desired thickness)
a good chunk of ginger, sliced
an equal amount of chopped green onion
1 tablespoon of soy sauce

Rinse the rice, then add all ingredients into a large pot. Slow cook the rice for about 1 1/2 hours, time will differ depending on the amount of fluid used. After about a half hour, stir to loosen the grains on the bottom of the pot. Stir occasionally and add more water/stock as you see fit.
I like my jook nice and thick, but traditionally it’s pretty thin. You must decide what works for you… Just remember that the more water you add the thinner the taste.

Once the porridge is about the consistency of cream of wheat it’s ready to go. By itself it’s pretty plain, that’s where toppings come into play. Leftovers are a good place to start. Meat, sausage, diced onion, cilantro, tuna and fishballs are all great , chop it up small and toss it in and enjoy. My fav is egg and bonito flakes with a little extra soy.


Organic Delivery August 21, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:52 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I signed up for organic produce delivered to my door every other week. I know that I am blocks away from a very decent farmers market, but I don’t want to carry bags of produce on the train with me every week. Plus I’m hoping this might give me opportunities to try things I might not use in my cooking otherwise.

This is what will be delivered:
Crimini Mushrooms
Dino Kale
Garlic Colossal
Green Beans
Green Bell Pepper
Green Onions
Kadota Fig
Mixed Medley Cherry Tomatoes
Red Beets
Romaine Hearts
White Nectarines

Here is A few ideas of how to use my new ingredients:

Tuscan Sausage-Kale Soup

1 lb ground Italian sausage
1½ tsp crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
2 tsp garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
1 bunch of kale

Saute Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients. In the same pan, sautee bacon, onions and garlic for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft. Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour. Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in the sausage, add kale just before serving.
Smothered Mushrooms and Kale

Smothered Mushrooms and Kale

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
24 small crimini mushrooms, wiped clean, halved
1 bunch kale, trimmed, stems removed and chopped
1/4 cup Marsala or other sherry
Salt and pepper

Heat a medium skillet with extra-virgin olive oil and butter over medium to medium-high heat. When fat is hot, add garlic and mushrooms and place a lid which is too small for the skillet down into the pan, pressing and smothering the mushrooms. Cook 7 to 8 minutes, stirring once, then wilt the kale into the pan, turning it with tongs to combine with mushrooms. Smother the greens for 1 to 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with Marsala and season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Wild Mushroom Frittata

Wild Mushroom Frittata

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
12 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, a couple of handfuls, stems removed, chopped
1 cup oyster mushrooms, a couple of handfuls, chopped
1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
Coarse salt and pepper
12 eggs, beaten
Dash of half-and-half
1 lemon, zested
2 scallions, sliced
2 teaspoons hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 cup Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet, with oven safe handle over medium to medium-high heat. Wrapping a rubber handle in foil will allow the pan to transfer to oven as well.

To hot pan, add oil and mushrooms. Season mushrooms with thyme, salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 5 minutes until all of the veggies are tender. Beat eggs with salt and pepper, dash of half-and-half, lemon zest, scallions and hot sauce. Pour over the mushrooms. Lift and settle eggs in the pan as they brown on the bottom. When the eggs are set but remain uncooked on top, transfer to oven for 7 or 8 minutes, until frittata is golden brown and puffy. Sprinkle the frittata with cheese and return to the oven for 1 or 2 minutes.

Pickled Beet Salad

2 pounds beets, trimmed and washed
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 pickled gherkins, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish root (or 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Place the beets in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the beets, loosely covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain the beets, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. When cool enough to handle, rub the skins off.

Slice the beets into strips and place in a 1-quart jar, along with the onion and garlic. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, cardamom seeds, cloves, salt, and the reserved cooking liquid. Heat just enough to dissolve the sugar, while stirring. Pour warm vinegar liquid over the beets, onion and garlic in the jar. Let cool to room temperature, then cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In a large bowl, combine the pickled beets, gherkins, and apple. In a small bowl, blend together the horseradish, sour cream, salt, and sugar, and add to the pickled beet mixture. Stir gently, cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled.


The secret ingredent August 2, 2007

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 1:37 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

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.