Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Unusual Recipes That I'd Really like to Try

I'm an adventurous cook in the sense that I like to try out new recipes, but not in the sense of trying out recipes with especially unusual ingredients or techniques. My family is somewhat picky, and I don't want to end up throwing out an entire meal (or eating the leftovers myself at every meal for a week). But there are definitely some recipes on my mental list that I'd love to try to make...someday. Here are a few of them.

Chicken Tikka Masala
I love Indian food. No, I ADORE Indian food. But my family members are not fans, and most Indian recipes call for a number of spices and ingredients that I don't keep on hand. So I satisfy my cravings for Indian food mainly through patronizing restaurant booths at fairs and carnivals. But someday I'd love to try this recipe!
2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to your personal heat preference)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp cornstarch
juice of 1/2 lemon (~1 tbsp)

Combine all ingredients except bay leaves, cream, cornstarch, and lemon juice, stirring with a large spatula until chicken is well coated. Grease the inside of the crockpot crock or line with a crockpot liner. Pour chicken inside and place the bay leaves on top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4 hours). When done, combine cream and cornstarch and gently stir into chicken. Cover and cook on low for 20 more minutes to thicken. Gently stir in lemon juice just before serving.

Beef and Cheese Empanadas
Another somewhat spicy dish that my family wouldn't enjoy, this recipe calls for just a few unusual ingredients (such as adobo), but also a few techniques that I'm admittedly weak on, such as sealing dough pockets. But someday maybe I'll get brave and give these a shot.

3-1/4 cup flour
2 tsp salt, divided
3/4 cup butter (cold)
3 eggs, divided
1/2 cup very cold water
1-1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 onion, chopped
oil for sauteing
1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 chipotles in adobo
1 tbsp adobo sauce
1-2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
ground black pepper
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, cut into small chunks

Whisk together flour and 1-1/2 tsp salt. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to flour. Using your fingers, crumble the butter into the flour. Mix just enough to get a crumbly texture with a few lumps of butter remaining.

In a bowl, combine 2 eggs, vinegar, and cold water. Add to flour and blend with a fork. Combine just enough to form a cohesive ball but do not knead. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Saute the onion in a small amount of oil over medium-high heat for several minutes. Add the beef and cook until browned. Drain fat. Add minced garlic and saute briefly. Add chipotles, adobo, chili powder, cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper. Add a splash of water and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.

When dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface, dividing in quarters or thirds if you have a small work surface. Roll out to no more than 1/4" thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or a large glass, cut out rounds. Place 1-2 tbsp of beef mixture and a few chunks of cheese on each round. Lift both edges of the round and seal with fingers, then lay flat and seal further with a fork. Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water and brush each empanada with egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Venison Jerky
I've only eaten venison a few times, but I find it absolutely delicious. And I love the salty spiciness of jerky. So if any of my hunter friends ever see fit to provide me with a few pounds of venison, I'd love to try this recipe.
4 lbs venison
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Hungarian hot paprika (adjust to taste)
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp hot sauce (adjust to taste)

Trim any fat from meat and cut into 4-inch strips, 1/4"-1/2" thick. (This is easier if the meat is partially frozen.) Pound lightly and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour over meat, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Line cookie sheets with foil and lay meat out in a single layer. Bake at 150-175 degrees (whatever the lowest setting your oven allows) for 3 hours, then turn over and bake 3 more hours, until meat is dry.

Venison Loin with Chocolate-Infused Sauce
This sounds both delicious and vaguely bizarre. Red wine with red meat is wonderful; red wine with dark chocolate is wonderful; why not combine all three? Yeah, I'd totally try this some time.
1-1/2 pound venison loin
4 cups red wine
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme (plus more for garnish)
4 cups venison (or beef) stock
1/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips
salt and pepper
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup honey
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1-12/ lbs braising greens (collards, chard, bok choy, radicchio, turnip greens, mustard greens)
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Place the venison in a glass bowl or baking dish and add wine, bay leaves, and thyme. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Pour marinade into non-reactive (stainless steel, glass, enamel) saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the stock and reduce heat to medium-low. Reduce again by half and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Season the venison with salt and pepper. in an oven-safe saute pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Sear the loin on one side until golden brown; turn over and place pan in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the loin registers 130 degrees (medium rare). Remove from pan and allow to rest.

In a saute pan over high heat, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add chanterelles and season with salt and pepper. Saute 4-6 minutes, until tender. Set aside.

In another saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining tbsp of oil and saute garlic until golden, about 30 seconds. Quickly add braising greens and lemon juice. Saute until tender, stirring frequently. Reserve.

In a small bowl, combine the pecans and honey. Roll the venison in the mixture and slice into 4 portions. To serve, drizzle some chocolate sauce on each plate and then layer braising greens, chanterelles, and sliced venison. Drizzle with honey-pecan mixture and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Spicy Thai Lobster Soup
I love spicy food, I love Thai food, I love lobster, and I love soup. Nothing more need be said.
2 lobster tails, cooked
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 to 1-1/2 tbsp Asian Blend (commercially available spice blend, or make your own with this recipe)
4 cups fish (or chicken) broth
1 tbsp fresh lime zest
1/3 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
6 large mushrooms, sliced
2 green onions, chopped
1 thai or bird chile, halved
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Remove lobster meat from shell. Slice and set aside. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in Asian Blend and saute for 1 minute. Add broth and lime zest and bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and mushrooms; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lobster, green onion, chile, and cilantro and cook 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a lime wedge.

Let's be honest: The reason I'm never going to make this is not because it's difficult or because it calls for exotic ingredients. The reason I'm never going to make this is because it's a lot of work and I'm lazy. And the Costco bakery has really good baklava on a regular basis. But someday I'll get inspired to try it myself. Maybe.
1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed in fridge for 24 hours and left at room temperature for 1 hour before using (Note: remove only the sheets you immediately need; cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and a damp towel until ready to use)
4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup butter
2 cups honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp vanilla

Toss together the nuts and cinnamon and set aside. Butter a rectangular baking pan that's no large than a sheet of phyllo (you can trim the phyllo if it's too big). Brush the top sheet of phyllo with melted butter and grab it and the next sheet of dough and set in buttered pan, butter side down. Press lightly into pan. Repeat twice, so you have 6 sheets of dough in the pan, 3 of them buttered. Cover with a layer of nuts. Butter two sheets of phyllo as before and place on top of the nuts. Add another layer of nuts then two more sheets of phyllo, buttered. Repeat until nuts are used up. Top with 4 more sheets of buttered phyllo, ending with a buttered top. Cut diagonally into diamonds with a sharp knife. bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until very golden brown.

While baking, combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. When baklava come out of the oven, drizzle half the mixture over the top. Allow to sit and absorb for a few minutes, then drizzle on more until thoroughly moistened. You may not use the entire mixture. Allow to cool (uncovered) for several hours before serving.

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