Cooking with Confucius (Gratuitous Pictures)

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Cooking with Confucius (Gratuitous Pictures)

Post by Confucius » Sat Sep 13, 2014 10:47 pm

Paella
Granola
Gazpacho
Sauerkraut
Hand Salve
Roast Spatchcocked Chicken
Dill Pickles

So, it has recently come to my attention that a solid 40% of my recreational time is cooking or taking pictures. It seems a natural fit to combine the to and spread some cooking knowledge around.

Will try and post a recipe whenever I'm cooking anything more profound than say, a smoothie...


Let's start with a paella. For all those Valencians out there reading this, I'm so sorry for the horrible, horrible things I'm doing to your most prized dish...

Totally inauthentic chicken and mussel paella, a la some random dude on an emergency preparedness site

Gather:
1 cup white wine (optional, you can substitute stock or broth for this easily)
~ 6 cups low sodium chicken or fish stock
2 cups short grain rice
~ 2 lbs chicken or rabbit
~ 1 lb mussels (optional, but damned delicious)
1 medium onion
1 red bell pepper
2 good tomatoes
A couple of cloves of garlic
A handful of green olives (optional, I used Castelvetrano Olives, which are not traditional in any way, but their fruity, briny flavor works really well)
A handful of green beans or peas (Had some green beans, but they had turned in the fridge, so went without)
A couple of tablespoons olive oil
A hearty pinch of saffron
Salt, pepper, rosemary, paprika, crushed chili peppers (all to taste)

First, heat a cup of wine to warm, and add a hearty pinch of saffron (maybe 20 threads?), let steep
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Chop an onion and slice the pepper. Dice the tomatoes.

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Put the stock in a large pot with a bit of rosemary, about a tablespoon of paprika, a pinch of crushed chili peppers, black pepper and a bay leaf

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Heat an excessive amount of good olive oil in a paellera, cast iron skillet or other large, flat pan

Saute the bell peppers, remove and set aside. Toss the onion and chicken in. Brown well, and toss in the diced tomatoes and minced garlic.

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Let that cook down a bit. While it's cooking, turn your attention to the mussels. Clean and debeard (if you aren't familiar with mussels, they have a hairly little beard on them, grab it with needlenose pliers and pull towards the hinge end. Scrape any barnacles off, and hit them with a stiff brush to remove any grit. Discard any mussels that are open and don't close when tapped (it may take a good size tap, hold it between your fingers and give the hinge a tap against a counter. It should close in a fairly short amount of time)

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Add the rice, and stir a bit to mix with the onions. Now would be the time to add green beans or peas if you weren't an idiot that forgot to check if they were covered in slime before thinking "Do I have any green beans?"

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Arrange the olives and bell peppers on top. Pour the wine/saffron mixture in and add stock to cover the rice. Scrape any rice that's stuck above the stock into it, and then DO NOT STIR EVER AGAIN

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Cook over low heat (two burners, a grill, or the floor of the oven will all work) until most of the water is gone. Add more stock. When the rice is near finished, arrange the mussels on top

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Cook, adding stock as necessary until the rice is done, the mussels are opened and the stock is evaporated off.

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Last edited by Confucius on Mon May 25, 2015 7:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Beowolf » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:17 pm

Well done!
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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by woodsghost » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:21 pm

Looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by cv66er » Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:09 pm

I'm drooling as I read. When I was in Spain, I quickly learned that Paella is the most delicious thing on earth.

Traditionally, it is only cooked by men, over a wood fire, and always cooked for an odd number of people. My paella will cook seven servings, but I haven't used it recently. I may need to do something about that.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Confucius » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:15 pm

Granola:

In a large bowl, combine:
4 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups milk powder
1 pinch salt
4 cups dry mix-ins, I used:
~1-1/2 cups coconut flakes
~1/2 cup chia seeds
~1 cup flax seed
~1 cup slivered almonds

Separately combine:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup inoffensive oil (I used almond. Coconut, canola, etc would all work well. No sesame, olive or any of that jazz)
1/2 cup applesauce

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Mix separately and then mix together, spread out on a cookiesheet (or, for the love of god, use TWO)

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Put in a 300 F oven for about an hour, stir every so often to let dry and toast fully

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After it's cooled, if you like, you can add cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, etc. Whatever makes you happy. I used cranberries, pineapple and apricots.

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Makes a good amount.
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Last edited by Confucius on Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Confucius » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:19 pm

Gazpacho:

In a blender combine

A whole mess of tomatoes
A cucumber
A bell pepper
A clove of garlic
A small handful of almonds
A dash of vinegar
A bit of onion

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Blend until finely pureed, and drizzle in a bit of good olive oil with the blender on slow

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Dice some more of the above ingredients (if you like, I do), and toss them in with the soup

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Mix and serve with something tasty

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Y'all like those incredibly accurate units of measure? Looks like vomit, tastes delicious, and is good on a hot day.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Confucius » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:32 pm

Sauerkraut:

Take thee a whole mess of cabbage (I used two, they were on sale, but honestly, five pounds of sauerkraut lasts me a very long time), cut into appropriately sized strips:
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Toss with salt, about three tablespoons or so for two cabbages (I go by taste as tossing, don't really measure it out)
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Squeeze down into a glass or ceramic container
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Keep adding cabbage, salt and pressure until all your cabbage is used up and liquid starts coming out of the cabbage
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Weigh down your kraut with something, a big clean rock, a plate... I use a freezer bag filled with a brine made of two cups of water and a tablespoon of salt.
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Set in the dark for... A week, two, longer? It all depends on the temperature and how sour you like your kraut. Skim any mold off that forms, and when you're happy with the taste, enjoy your kraut. It'll bubble as it goes. If the kraut starts coming above the juice, add a brine of 1 cup water and a teaspoon and a half of salt to cover.
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Will update with a money shot when my kraut is all done...
Last edited by Confucius on Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Confucius » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:38 pm

Okay, so this isn't technically cooking, but it involves oil and my kitchen, so I'll go with it and just shove it here.

My hands have been drying out really badly and cracking lately, so I went ahead and made a batch of salve.

Microwave for a minute or so:
1/2 cup oil (I used almond once again)
2 tablespoons beeswax granules (Depending on how thick you like your salve)
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That's the basics, mix it up and check the consistency with a cold spoon, add more wax or oil as required.
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Feel free to add any other mixins: Essential oils, vitamin e, whatever. I added about a half teaspoon of lanolin and a bit of peppermint oil to cover the sheep smell from the lanolin.

Pour into containers and let it solidify.
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Last edited by Confucius on Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Apathy » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:45 pm

I want to try that.
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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Confucius » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:54 pm

So, in honor of shrapnel cooking her first whole chicken (not actually, just made me think about chicken), I thought I'd roast up a spatchcocked chicken.

This will work with any bird (have done with turkeys even), and is really nice, because A: it cooks faster, and B: It cooks much more evenly.

First: Take thee a chicken
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Second: CUT ITS WEE SPINE OUT!
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Basically just cut on each side of the spine, push through the bones, and pull the spine out.
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Third: Optionally, remove the ribs, wishbone and keelbone (I usually don't, but figured I might as well this time)

Cut along the ribs, and they should more or less pull right out
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Keelbone is a little more tricky, but not bad...
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Fourth: To keep it all together, cut two slits in the chicken's butt-skin, and push the legs through
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Congratulations! You now have a flat chicken!
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Season liberally (I used salt, pepper, cumin, garlic and paprika) and toss skin side down in a hot skillet with plenty of oil
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Flip once it has had a chance to brown a bit, and toss in a 400 F oven until cooked through.
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Let rest, and then quarter with a big honkin knife (this is where the pain in the ass of removing the ribs and keelbone is nice)
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Serve with something tasty...
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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Stercutus » Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:33 pm

I am glad they finally added that "thank button"
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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by Confucius » Mon May 25, 2015 7:24 pm

Pickles

Pickling cucumbers
Salt
Water

Optional:
Peppercorns
Dill
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic
Onions
Mustard Seed


Select firm, relatively blemish free pickling cucumbers.
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Wash, trim ends off and cut into spears (or don't, leave them whole if you like. Do trim off the blossom end though, it contains an enzyme that will soften your pickles)
Pack into a jar, crock or whatever with some dill, garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, basically whatever you want, or with nothing if you're boring
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Add more dill (you ever had pickles and thought, "Man, these pickles have too much dill"?), maybe some onions too...
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Cap off with more cucumbers, pour a brine of 2 tablespoons salt per quart of water, and weigh down with something inert (jars, tupperware, whatever)
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Store somewhere cool and dark until they reach your desired level of sourness.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius,OR: I really need a new username

Post by duodecima » Mon May 25, 2015 10:05 pm

Confucius wrote:Pickles

Pickling cucumbers
Salt
Water

Optional:
Peppercorns
Dill
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic
Onions
Mustard Seed


Select firm, relatively blemish free pickling cucumbers.
I'm going to say something obvious that wasn't obvious to me the first time I pickled cucumbers - no really, they have to be pickling cucumbers, regular cucs get incredibly mushy and make very poor pickles. Believe me, I tried it.
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Re: Cooking with Confucius (Gratuitous Pictures)

Post by shrapnel » Mon May 25, 2015 10:40 pm

NPR had a pickle recipe I've been meaning to try, and they said that alum will make pickles crispier. Not that that'll fix pickling vs regular cucumbers, but crispier pickles is good.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/201 ... cipe-found

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/201 ... kle-recipe
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Re: Cooking with Confucius (Gratuitous Pictures)

Post by Confucius » Mon May 25, 2015 10:54 pm

shrapnel wrote:NPR had a pickle recipe I've been meaning to try, and they said that alum will make pickles crispier. Not that that'll fix pickling vs regular cucumbers, but crispier pickles is good.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/201 ... cipe-found

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/201 ... kle-recipe
I know there is no scientific basis to it, but given my father's rapidly declining mental health, I'm avoiding intentionally introducing aluminum salts into my food...

But yes, alum will make pickles crisper. Word has it that introducing tannic acid into the brine will as well. I've heard of adding grape leaves to the brine towards that effect.

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Re: Cooking with Confucius (Gratuitous Pictures)

Post by duodecima » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:24 pm

Since Confucius and I were discussing cassoulet and cassoulet-like things, here's the original recipe for my version of cassoulet (which I have then modified to suit us, and then pressure canned so we can have it on like 10 minutes notice.) Apparently making "proper" cassoulet can involve all sorts of exotic things like duck comfit, and can take hours to days. So this version was already stripped down for speed.

"Tuesday Night Cassoulet" - from The Kitchen Detective, by Chris Kimball (that guy on America's Test Kitchen.)

1 lb navy or Great Northern beans (I use navy)
1 small onion, peeled and studded with 8 cloves
1 bay leaf
salt

1/2 lb Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled. (I use 12 oz of Andouille or Italian chicken bratwurst, sometimes a whole pound, depends on package sizes.)
8 bone-in skin on chicken thighs (I have used either boneless skinless breasts or boneless skinless thighs.)
pepper
1T oil
1 med onion (I use 2) cut to 1/2 inch dice
1 med carrot (I use 5 large carrots, plus 5 stalks of celery) cut to 1/2 inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (I use a generous tablespoon of minced)
1/2c white wine (or a little more)
2T tomato paste (I have used up to double that)
3c chicken stock (I use turkey, and about 3.5c)
1T fresh chopped rosemary (or 1-2 t dry rosemary because that's what I have)
1/4c chopped parsly (I usually skip this)

Put beans, onion with cloves, bay leaf, a little salt, with 10c water (or, enough to cover the beans generously), bring to a boil, simmer 45-60 min until beans tender. discard onion, cloves, bay leaf.

in large dutch oven, brown sausage, remove with slotted spoon, drain off some of the rendered fat if there's too much. Pat chicken thighs dry, season with salt and pepper, brown in the oil from the sausage. Remove thighs, pour off excess fat, when thighs cool remove skin.
(I obviously do this differently - I slice the brats lengthwise into 3-4 slices to brown, I do so in oil as my brats have very little fat, then remove. I dice the brat slices because we prefer little chunks of stuff in this stew, not big chunks or whole thighs. I usually just dice the chicken raw without browning.)

adjust heat to medium, add oil (I already did that). Add chopped onion and carrot (and celery) cook until soft, 5-7 min. add garlic, cook 2 more min. Add wine and scrape browned bits off bottom of pot. stir in tomato paste, then add drained beans, chicken, sausage, chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 30-40 min or until chicken thighs done. (I add the rosemary with the chicken and sausage because it's dried, fresh gets added 10 min before the end. Season liberally with salt and pepper (I usually don't but I used Andouille sausage, it's got a little more kick than italian...) Serve.

Obviously, if people wanted more meat, they could increase the amount of sausage and chicken. If I'm canning this I don't simmer for 40 min, I just give it the 10 min boil before putting it in the jars and then process at 10lb for 75min for pints, 90 min for quarts.
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