Thursday, October 29, 2009

Now's a good a time as any for some excuses.

Hi everyone. I feel deep deep guilt for not posting much recently.

But worry not everyone, I have EXCUSES!

I got the flu last week. It was miserable and I was lucky to have a beautiful wonderful gal take care of me.

I also have been packing like a madman and moving down to Hawthorne as well. I should be just about done with the packing and shipping out of my apartment. Not having electricity is a real doozy when it comes to packing!

Anyway, Hawthorne, in spite of its geographical distance from my work, I think should have positive effects upon my cooking. The kitchen is marginally bigger, and with a new mindset I can organize it in a bit more form friendly fashion.

And I'm close to these great ethnic markets where I can get food much cheaper than I ever did in Santa Monica. So! We shall see how this progresses. I look forward to updating much more regularly, and with perhaps more of a... regional flair?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A favor and Shredded Potato Quiche

A man's gotta do, what a man's gotta do. And sometimes what needs doing is helping out a good, dear friend make some breakfast for 25 of her friends who you don't know. Ok, maybe that doesn't happen to some men, but it happened to me. She wanted to try quiche, so I looked for a quiche recipe.

This is the recipe we settled on. With hash browns taking place of the crust, I knew it was breakfast worthy. Not willing to settle on frozen though, I opted to make my own crusty shredded potatoes from scratch for this.

Ham, Swiss cheese, potatoes, butter, milk and spinach (optional). We're not using OJ but it sure looks pretty doesn't it?

This is the other stuff she'll have at her breakfast. I'm really glad we didn't go for cinnamon buns from scratch.

I brought over some of my cooking implements too. Look at her pretty table! Sure wish I had one that nice.

I peeled the potatoes and got ready to shred. Was quite a pile, just take my word for it. I'd preheat the oven now to 375.

And we diced up the ham and cheese real fine.
Ever seen 26 cracked eggs? Well there you go.
Beat em.

Milk em. Is that the right terminology?

Add the swiss cheese! I would have cut these strips in half given a second shot.
And ham!
Glorious cooked ham....
And might as well make it colorful.
Looks delicious already.
I sprayed down some pans with Pam and layered the potatoes on them, leaving them in the oven (already preheated to 375) and kept an eye on them, tossing on occasion. I'd probably grease the pans with butter next time.

Good and crispy huh? I bet topping it with butter would quicken the browning and add some good flavor here.
Scraping the goods off.
Almost forgot to season the quiche mixture. Pepper.
In a stroke of inspiration I decided to make mini quiches since we had a cupcake tin lying around.

So you don't make my mistake, layer the potatoes in, let them toast a bit more in the oven, THEN add the quiche mixture. I just got a little excited to do this though.

Soon my pretties...

And voila! Don't they look divine?

It was fluffy and nomtastic.

But I wasn't done. Still had over half the mix left. Trust me when I saw there's a big fat layer of toasted potatoes down there (I did learn from my mistakes).

Holy mackerel. Actually some smoked salmon would probably go great on top of this. I'm sorry, I was so tired at the end of the night that I forgot to take the finished shot of it.

But I think this is proof of satisfaction.

This is Cast Iron Therapy, signing off.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why does this take so long? - A double meaning post on procrastination and Chuck Roast Marinara

I think I need a different publishing program for one. Uploading five pictures at a time, and having to do it in a strange order really isn't helping at all.

What for today though? Lets see what the archival pictures have.

Ah this was a particularly comforting dish. By particularly comforting, I mean not for the faint of heart, and that it requires a lot of time.

I bring to you Chuck Roast Marinara.

This is about a 3 pound chuck roast. Good for many many meals, and hopefully you won't get tired after just one meal of it.

Salt and pepper both sides, we want to get a good crust.

Nothing says comfort like bacon. Just some standard grocery store bacon for me here. Sure I'd love some of that peppercorn bacon, but, maybe when I'm not up to my eyeballs in Santa Monica rent bills.

I like to cut my packages in half. Lets the bacon sit into more manageable pieces.

Lay it out in the pan. That's my wonderful cast iron pan there. One of four.

And here's the tomato sauce recipe you might remember from the pizza recipe earlier. Its very versatile!
Once you've gotten that out your bacon should be on its way to nicely browned.

Pretend that's a bit browner, then pull it out onto some paper towels.

In goes the beef! Its gorgeous! Look at that marbling. And slightly excessive fat.

And you'll want to get it nicely browned on all sides. Cooking internally isn't important, its going to sit in a slow cooker for a good long time. This is for flavor!
Throw the whole mess into the cooker. The roast, the bacon, the tomato sauce.
I let it go a few hours on high, then all night on low. This is the result. The meat has broken down into this lovely glossy mess, and blended in with the tomato sauce, making it almost obscenely rich. The bacon pieces are good and hidden in there, little nuggets of joy.
For my part I used it to top some Gemelli, cooked al dente. Perhaps some parmesan or some other hard salty cheese would be good if the sauce isn't savory enough, but you should be fine really!

Any requests for the next dish?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pizza for forgiveness.

Long delay. This blog is getting off to a shaky start and I won't begrudge you your angry fists, your barely disguised sighs nor your disgust. I can only hope this small offering of pizza will stave off your ire a bit longer as you become more patient with me.

Please continue to frequent this blog! It'll be a sensation, I'm sure of it. Or something. Anyway. On to the building of this pizza. Last time we built the foundation. And now we get to the good stuff. Not that crust isn't good, it just... well its incomplete.

Before you start anything else!


You want that bad boy piping hot. I suppose you can start in the middle of the process, perhaps once the sauce is done, but for your first time, I recommend an earlier start time to eliminate the need for waiting or a badly heated oven.

A pizza stone and a paddle are also pretty essential.Mise en place for the tomato sauce. Look at the assorted goods: Black pepper, garlic, onion, italian seasoning, Kosher salt, olive oil, and tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes from the market. These are called "seconds" as they aren't perfect. A bruise here, a blemish there, perhaps a bit overripe, they don't sell for as much. And absolutely perfect for sauce.

My methodology for tomatoes is simple and perhaps brutal. A simple V cut to take off the top, then cutting off the flesh from the big "top" so as not to waste overly much, and perhaps a slice off the bottom if the brown nub at the bottom is too big. Slice into big chunks and through into a blender.

I'm fortunate enough that my cousin hooked me up with this glorious machine. One half a horsepower of blending power. Power I don't really need for this delicate operation, so just a few seconds of pulsing and the tomatoes were into a lovely pinkish puree.See the small chunks? That's good. If you don't have a blender, you can chop the tomatoes by hand. I do that sometimes when I want a slightly coarser sauce.
Action shot!
Here's my blender protip. I like a bit of wine in my sauce, but instead of directly adding it into the sauce, I use it to slosh up the bits of tomato that stubbornly cling to the blender.
Finely minced garlic.
Quarter a cup of olive oil. Heat this over medium heat, we don't want to brown anything too much.
Onions first! Once they're barely translucent....
Add in the garlic. Cook through but avoid browning once again.
Then throw the mess of puree into the pot.
Small palmfull of italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
Tonight's topping of choice was spicy Italian sausage. Here's my methodology.. first slice the casings off.
Then put them right into the pan. I should have used less sausage for more room but darnit I was eager.
Check on the sauce while the sauasge is cooking! I bring it to a boil then simmer.
You see the yellow bubbling and liquidy areas? That's the acid from the tomatoes, and you'd be well served to skim it off to lessen any heartburn. Youch. An old tomato can is great for dumping it in!Here's what the acid looks like.
Oh right, the sausages. Flipped over, pressed flat with a spatula and "cut" it into chunks with the spatula. Very uniform and simple. Don't worry about cooking them all the way through, the pizza making process will handle that. Ok, toppings are done, lets start building this sucker.

Remember this? Good and ready to go.
And the mise en place for the pizza. Sausage! Sure, I'd have loved some mushrooms, canned artichoke hearts, perhaps some peppers, but sausage on its own is fabulous.

Sauce! The essential layer of moist savoriness that separates cheese from crust.

Cheese! Well, its cheese!

Dough! The absolutely necessary foundation to this fabulous dish.

The corn meal? ESSENTIAL. We'll get to that later.
Take a piece of dough (I use half) and start rolling it out with your fingers or a pin. If its too big, well, cut it down and make more smaller pizzas.
Relatively round! Not bad, not bad.
Look at it! Stretchy and pillowy! This isn't just for show though, I needed to put the corn meal on the paddle. Don't have a paddle? I suppose you could make a pan pizza, which would require a greased pan. The results won't be as great though.So, why is the corn meal essential? Keeps you from getting into... a sticky situation. That is, without this layer, the dough is going to stick to the paddle and you'll have a really really rough time getting the pizza off and onto the stone. SO DON'T FORGET IT. In the absence of corn meal, a thick dusting of flour works, but you have to work fast.
The sauce is a bit wetter than I want it. I used a slotted spoon later to drain out some of the liquid before putting more of it on.

Nicely sauced! ...Why is my spatula there?
Sausages. Putting them in the sauce means the cheese helps hold it in place. Keeps them from flying off the pizza when you roll it in.

Cheese is good. Learn it, love it.After throwing it into the oven for 10-15 minutes, it should look like this.