Archive for January 2012


All Quiet on the Blogging Front

January 31st, 2012 — 9:34am
italian seed packets

Italian Seed Packets

There has not been a lot of blogging as of late. In addition to my rather full plate of things to do I have added another business opportunity. This new opportunity seems to be eating up a lot of time while I climb the learning curve. This does not mean I have not been cooking. I have been making some old favorites while making changes along the way. I reinvented my cassoulet to include many more herbs and lamb. I am not a big fan of lamb but it seemed to give the cassoulet a different flavor dimension.

It looks like we are not going to get much of a winter here in North Texas. So it is time to start thinking about things to plant in the garden before the heat of the summer sets in. I usually just go to the specialty nursery and buy my plants. But I ran across some Italian seeds in beautiful packets. Leave it to the Italians to inspire me to try some seeds this year.

Of course I reached for things that remind me of Italy. San Marzano tomatoes (pomodoro alto San Marzano), bulb fennel (finocchio gigante di Napoli) which is impossible to find here in Texas, the spicy red Calabrese pepper (peperoncino Calabrese), and for good measure some arugula (rucola) and some chicory. The final two have been in the garden before. It is just that the packaging was so inspiring I had to buy them. We of course will add basil and eggplant later on.

I’ll keep you posted on the results. I have heard San Marzano tomatoes are hard to grow and the bulb fennel may not ever turn into a bulb. It never hurts to try new things.

Comment » | Gardening, Musings

More from the Mexican Market

January 10th, 2012 — 4:41pm
ropa vieja

Ropa Vieja

I keep finding new things to try out at the meat counter at the local Mexican market. It is not that you cannot find any of these things in the regular market. I think it is the way they cut and display the meat that makes me stop and take a second look.

Flank steak is not normally something that I would buy, but when they are stacked eight high, separated by paper in between and pressed against the glass of the meat counter somehow they just screamed “buy me.” As with many of my purchases I decided I would figure out what to do with it later.

In this case it turned into ropa vieja, or translated as “old clothes.” This is typically attributed to Cuban populations although it is apparently popular all the way from the Canary Islands to Colombia. What you put in the mixture is heavily influenced by your locale. Many of the recipes called for diced tomatoes or tomato paste. I just was not feeling tomatoes in this dish so I left them out. I tried to really spice it up with two whole pickled jalapenos. The slow cooking process I think really washed away the heat. So maybe add some more jalapenos at the end. Although the picture shows the dish in a bowl it is normally served with tortillas. And as with any sort of meat tortilla dish I like mine with a squeeze of lemon and some sour cream. Buen provecho

2 comments » | Musings, Recipes

Mexican Market Finds

January 2nd, 2012 — 5:46pm
oxtail osso buco

Oxtail Osso Buco

I have been availing myself of the many interesting things you can find at our local Mexican market. Over the recent weeks I have seen every part of the pig or the cow available for sale. (I cannot figure out what you do with the full pigs head. Guess I will have to research that one.) The produce is outstanding both in quality and variety. And prices, except for certain cuts of meat seem to be a bit less than the large chain grocery stores.

This market has inspired me to take a look at some things I would usually pass by. In this case I was captivated by the beautiful oxtails in the meat case. I had no idea what I was going to do with them once I got them home. And at $10 for four of them it was not a purchase I would take lightly.

oxtail tied up

Oxtails Tied Up Before Cooking

A bit of quit research turned up the idea Osso Buco. Although traditionally made with veal shank I decided the oxtails would work just as well with the requisite mix of meat and fat. And of course there are as many recipes to cook this dish as their are cooks who make it. So I pulled together the pieces that I thought would be best from each recipe and came up with my own. I served it over polenta, a very good choice and another new recipe which will follow in a couple of days. We had to have black-eyed peas for the new year so I made a nontraditional recipe with butternut squash. All in all I am batting 100% with all my great finds at the Mexican market. Olé!

Comment » | Musings, Recipes

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