Sunday, May 29, 2011

Elvis Bread (Peanut Butter Banana Bread)

Well, we had some bananas sitting around getting old.  We had some organic peanut butter in the fridge, and we really don't eat peanut butter in our house.  So I decided I was going to make something with them.  I really don't enjoy baking much at all.  Sure, I'll make a cheesecake here and there, and sometimes I get a baking bug up my butt, but it's not something I really enjoy like cooking.  I Googled for different ideas - cookies, muffins, cakes, breads.  In the end, I didn't really like any of the recipes I found so I simply decided I was going to make peanut butter banana bread and come up with my own recipe by combining elements of recipes I found on line.  I was really happy with the results!  When we ate the bread by itself, the peanut butter flavour was really strong, but didn't over-power the banana, it was a nice balance.  When we made french toast with it, or toasted it with some butter (which was like waffles!), the peanut butter got a little weaker, but it was still freakin' delicious!

I still want to play with this recipe... being that I'm calling it "Elvis Bread", I so want to make it again and add a bunch of crumbled bacon to it!  I think it would be killer.  And I might add a little more butter, too.  Though the bread wasn't dry, I don't think it was as moist as I'd like it.  But until I make it again, this is the recipe I made the other night.

I'm torn about what kind of music to post.  It's Elvis Bread, so you'd think I'd have been listening to Elvis, but I wasn't (even though I love The King!)  I was actually listening to some soul music when I baked it (so you know it's was made with some love): Solomon Burke, Maurice Williams, Sam & Dave, Ike & Tina.  However, this is a punk rock cooking blog, and because the bread was made with bananas, the first song that popped into my head was The Dead Milkmen's "Smokin' Banana Peels" on the album Beelzebubba.  I remember discovering this album in 7th grade with the only other weirdo in school, my good friend, Nate.  Sneaking into the cafeteria with out little boombox, playing Punk Rock Girl over and over.  And so, rather than posting "Smokin' Banana Peels", I'm going with "Punk Rock Girl".  -jen

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 large)
  • 1 cup peanut butter, melted (just throw in microwave for 30-60 seconds)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding more.  Add mashed banana and peanut butter.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Incorporate dry ingredients into large ingredients, a little at a time.  Batter will be very thick. 

Spray a cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour in batter and smooth until even.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife or toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chimichangas de Pollo en Mole, Guacamole, Mexican Rice

So, our Cinco de Mayo dinner recipe is posting a bit late, but that's only because we're too busy eating leftovers to wash our fingers off and use a keyboard.  I originally had designs on a traditional Mexican meal, complete with an old school mole that involved all kinds of chiles, cocoa, nuts, and herbs along with several steaming, steeping, grinding processes, etc.  Needless to say, that didn't come to pass.  Instead, I found a couple of modern, shortcut recipes that have a very similar taste and texture to the one that Abuelita would make and they only take a little while to prepare, comparatively.

We decided on chimichangas as they are just like a burrito only deep fried crispy and they happen to be one of my favorite things to get when we go out for Mexican here in NorCal.  Jen put together the filling and made a guacamole that was perfect to balance the mild heat and savory flavor of the mole sauce.

I could think of no better group to accompany this recipe than Union 13 as they are a rocking punk band from East Los Angeles that is not only comprised of Hispanics but also sing at least one song on each of their four albums in Spanish.  Suitable for Mexican dinner on Cinco de Mayo, especially since Jen and I both had a couple shots of Chinaco Reposado (my favorite tequila) to celebrate!  -justin

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 can (8oz) salsa verde 
  • 2 tbsp ground New Mexico chile powder
  • 2 tbsp ground Pasilla chile powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 fresh Poblano peppers, seeded, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter  
To start, pulverize the pumpkin seeds in a grinder or small food processor.  Incorporate the can of salsa verde with the pumpkin seeds in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking, until thickened, around 15 minutes or so.

While the salsa and seeds are going, combine the New Mexico chile, Pasilla chile, cayenne powder, salt, cumin, and coriander in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.  This is the seasoning mix referred to from here on out.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over high heat.  When butter is hot, add the onions and Poblanos and cook for 3 minutes without stirring.  Stir in 3 tbsp of the seasoning mix, add the garlic to the pot, and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and the brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock to the pan and deglaze with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to get all the good bits off the bottom.  Stir in the chocolate, peanut butter, and the pumpkin seed/salsa verde mixture.  Cook for 3-4 minutes while continuing to stir.  Add the remaining 4 cups of chicken stock, the rest if the seasoning mix (make sure to save 1/2 tbsp to use in the cimichanga filling!) and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.  At this point you'll want to use a whisk to make sure everything is mixed well.  Stir continuously until sauce thickens, becomes darker brown, and comes to a rolling boil (large, fast bubbles).  Reduce heat to low and mix with a hand blender (or portion into stand blender) until smooth.  Let simmer over low heat for 20 more minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon like a brown gravy.  Let cool and place in fridge while preparing the chimichangas as this will give the flavors a chance to marry.  This sauce can be made several days ahead of time and stored in the fridge, in an airtight container.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground, black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon leftover seasoning mix from Mole sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 can (4oz) diced green chiles
  • few dashes of green Tabasco 
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
    Preheat oven to 450F degrees.  Add oil to 1 large baking sheet and brush evenly over surface.  Side note: Jen and I also use tin foil (or aluminum foil for you modern folks) on our sheet pans before oiling as they are super easy to clean up after dinner that way!  Mix salt and pepper and apply evenly to both tops and bottoms of thighs.  Space evenly apart on sheet pan and place in center of the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until skin in golden brown.  Let cool until you can handle them.

    Tear off meat from bones and shred into a large bowl (I use my hands, but you can use two forks to shred it too.)  Add the cilantro, oregano, seasoning mix, lime juice, chiles, Tabasco, Cheddar and salt and pepper and toss.

    Heat the vegetable oil to medium-high in a large skillet.  Fill your tortillas with the meat mixture (Jen added Mexican rice, guacamole, and more cheese to hers.)  Fold sides in tightly and roll so that the ends are sealed, like a burrito.  Fry in oil seam-side down first, until golden brown, then turn and cook until entire chimichanga is golden brown.

    • 3-5 ripe avocados
    • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • dash of cumin
    • dash of salt
    • few dashes of green Tabasco sauce
    • 2 green onions, chopped
    • 1 roma tomato, diced
    In a medium-sized bowl, add avocado and lime juice.  Mash.  Then add garlic powder, cumin, salt, Tabasco, green onions, and tomato.  Mix.  (I like to top it with crumbled Queso Fresco! -jen)

    • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
    • 1 cup uncooked white rice
    • 1.5 cups water
    • 1 can (4oz) tomtao sauce
    • 1 heaping tablespoon Caldo de Pollo (or 2 chicken bouillon cubes)
    • 1-2 tablespoons minced garlic (to taste)
    • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (click for homeade taco seasoning recipe)
    • 1 can (7oz) diced green chiles
    • 1 tablespoon diced jalapeƱos
    • 7oz (1/2 of a 14oz can) diced tomatoes
    • salt and pepper
    In medium sauce pan, heat oil on high. When oil is hot, add rice and fry for several minutes (do not brown). Add water, tomato sauce, Caldo de pollo, garlic, taco seasoning, chiles, and jalepeƱos. Stir until well mixed and bring to a boil.

    Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with lid and let simmer 20 minutes until rice is tender. Do not lift the lid during cooking!  Once rice is tender, remove from heat, stir in tomatoes and serve.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Crab Bisque

    So, when we did the crab stuffed sole, we had some canned, lump crab left over and were trying to decide what to do with it.  We "kicked" around a couple of ideas regarding croissants, avocados, Swiss cheese, and other accoutre mounts, but settled on a crab bisque since we both love soup and had been craving creamy, savory goodness for some time.  This was another amazingly simple meal to throw together with the crab on hand and took about 40 minutes to do, total.  Include some bread to sop up soup with, and maybe some steamed or roasted veggies, or a carb like rice or potatoes, and you're all set.

    I was enjoying some Dropkick Murphys, live on St Patty's Day, 2002, as I made the bisque since they are the quintessential, east-coast punk rock Irish band.  And their ode, "Boys on the Docks" only seems all too appropriate for this recipe.  This is a later video but that's okay because how would you like to be this close to the stage in such a small venue for the Dropkicks?! - justin


    1 teaspoon olive oil
    2 tablespoons shallots (or sweet onion)
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
    2 tablespoons flour
    3 tablespoons butter
    2 cups crab meat
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 tablespoon very dry sherry
    2 cups heavy cream
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/8 teaspoon white pepper
    salt to taste

    Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan that's heated to medium-high heat.  Add shallots and cook until golden brown.  Add garlic and lemon zest and cook 2 minutes.  Add flour and butter and cook 2 more minutes.  Add crab and parsley and cook 3 minutes, scraping,  making sure the mixture doesn't stick to the pan.  Add chicken broth and sherry, cover partially, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add cream, cayenne, and white pepper, and add salt to taste.

    Bread is a must for this soup!  This is rich and savory and creamy.  Some sourdough or crusty Italian bread will do nicely!  The sourdough is a nice accent to the richness of the soup and the Italian style loaves tend to be dryer and more absorbent.

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Crab Stuffed Fillet of Sole in Lemon Dill Sauce

    So, growing up here in California in general, and more specifically the North Coast, I've always been exposed to awesome seafood.  From fresh snapper, to abalone, to salmon, my family and I have always enjoyed the fruits of the Pacific.  I caught my first catfish at 8 and my middle brother caught his first mackerel in the open Pacific at 9.  I've fished bluegill, rainbow and brown trout, steelhead, small mouth bass, lingcod, and a myriad of other fish since my childhood.  While I rarely fish anymore, I love to cook seafood here at home for Jen and myself.  Living in Eureka, one of the old fishing capitols of California, affords us the opportunity to get fresh seafood at an affordable price almost anytime of year, from a variety of outlets and vendors.

    When Jen moved out to Cali, she'd only been exposed to seafood in the Midwest and was not much of a fan at all.  I don't blame her.  After living here a couple of years, she started falling in love with sushi, fresh pan-fried catfish, all kinds of shellfish, and basically any kind of crustacean (i.e. crabs, lobster, shrimp, etc.), many of which she had liked before but rarely had fresh.  Since then we've made it a regular part of our menu.  Recently, we'd wanted to do some seafood and she suggested stuffing some whitefish with some crab.  Since I'm no moron, I said, "Of course!"  I decided to do something simple and easy, some canned crab, as opposed to fresh, as it involves much less prep and it tastes awesome regardless.

    As I made the dish, I was listening to an all time classic of one of my favorite bands, Primus, "Fish On".  Though this song is not punk rock, per say, it is none the less a part of my musical repertoire from earlier days and I happen to love Les Claypool's bass action, especially in their earlier years.  Since he happens to reference San Pablo Bay, which is located in the north eastern part of the Greater San Francisco Bay, it seemed perfectly appropriate for me to use as I grew up in what San Franciscan's refer to as the North Bay, but the rest of us call Ukiah.

    This is a simple dish that can be a perfect meal to serve to company as it seems far more complicated than it is.  We served it up with some steamed broccoli and used wild Dover sole for the whitefish, but you could substitute your your favorite mild, whitefish or garden veggies very easily.  The sauce is simple to put together and takes no time at all so it really is a snap to prepare as long as you have the ingredients all chopped and measured out ahead of time. -justin

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
    • 2 tablespoons minced mushroom
    • 2 tablespoons minced green onion 
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 cup crab meat (I used canned, lump crab but you could use whatever you prefer)
    • 2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
    • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
    • salt to taste
    • ground black pepper
    • 6 fillets of wild Dover sole (or whatever whitefish you prefer)
    Preheat oven to 400F degrees.  Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 3-quart sauce pan and heat to medium-high.  Add the yellow onion and cook until golden brown.  Add mushrooms, green onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Pull vegetables from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add the crab, Gruyere, lemon juice, white pepper, and Mexican oregano and mix thoroughly.  Add salt to taste.  Lay out fillets and salt and pepper both sides.  Divide filling evenly among the fillets and roll them closed over the filling, using toothpicks to secure the ends of the fish fillets.  Place evenly spaced on a lightly oiled sheet pan, brush tops lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and place in the oven.  Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tops are starting to brown.  Serve with the following sauce which can easily be prepared while the fish is baking:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 cup diced shallots (or onions)
    • 3 cloves minced garlic
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • juice of one lemon
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • salt to taste
    • 5 tablespoons sweet cream butter
    Add the olive oil to a small sauce pan heated over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and cook until golden brown.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add wine and cook 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice and zest, dill and Dijon and stir until combined.  Add heavy cream and black pepper, taste and add salt ass needed.  When properly seasoned, add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each is melted and incorporated before adding the next.

    We served this with steamed broccoli, as I mentioned before, as the sauce goes with it beautifully.  One could also use cauliflower, asparagus, or artichokes, etc.