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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Recipe Round Up: Cooking, Fast and Slow

Baba Ghanooj

Much like my recipe for harissa, these amounts are largely guesses. I make this by feel, sight, and taste.

2 large eggplant (the fat kind, not the thin kind)
4 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 2 lemons, strained to remove seeds
1/4 cup tahina
1/4 cup good olive oil plus more for garnishing
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
salt, to taste
chopped parsley, to garnish

Take the stem off of the eggplant, prick all over the skin with a fork, and roast in a pan at 400 F for 45 minutes to an hour, until they are soft and the liquid is seeping out of them. Allow to cool, then remove and discard the peels. This can be done a few days in advance, and then the eggplant kept in a covered dish in the refrigerator.

In a food processor or blender, place the garlic and process until the pieces are extremely fine. Add the eggplant flesh and process some more to combine and puree. Add the lemon juice, tahina, olive oil, and pepper, and puree until it is a smooth, uniform mixture. Add salt and taste for flavor and seasoning, adding more lemon juice, tahina, and/or olive oil, until it tastes just right.

Serve in a shallow dish, and drizzle with good olive oil, sprinkling with chopped parsley for color.


Tourshi really just means pickles. These are beet stained, pickled turnips, and even my beet and turnip skeptical friends and family like these. Something about pickling foods makes all of them delicious. Although you could can these, I really only use them as refrigerator pickles. The quantities are, therefore, not as precise. I use what it takes to fill a jar and go from there. Rich loves taking these bright magenta pickles in his sandwiches for lunch at work, as they always draw surprised looks and comments from his co-workers. There are two ways to make these, too: Fast and slow. The first is the slow way. You have to let them sit for quite a long time to turn into pickles. The second way is the fast way. They are fermented, but don't worry, if something goes wrong, you will know right away. If they smell fine, they will be fine to eat. They only take 5 - 7 days to ferment completely.

Vinegar or Slow Method:

2 pounds baby turnips, firm and unblemished
2 large beets, peeled and sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and root end trimmed
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
6 tablespoons salt
4 dried red chiles (optional)

Wash and trim turnips, peel if necessary. Quarter or slice the turnips. I quarter them if I plan on using them to serve along side food, and slice if we are going to use them as pickles with sandwiches and so on.

Layer the turnips into two quart jars with the beets and garlic.

Mix the vinegar, water and salt to dissolve salt and divide between the two jars. Add two chiles to each jar and seal.

Keep on the counter for 3 - 4 weeks, turning jars over occasionally to dissolve salt better, then refrigerate.

Lacto-Fermented or Fast Method:

2 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick sticks (slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds, and then cut across to make sticks)
1 1/2 pounds red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick sticks
1/2 cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt plus a pinch to add right at the end
8 cloves garlic, peeled and root end trimmed
8 dried red chiles (optional, but not really)
2 teaspoons of whole peppercorns
about 4 cups water (if you have chlorinated water, use filtered water)

2 half gallon or 4 quart jars with plastic lids, all immaculately clean

Divide the garlic, chiles, and peppercorns evenly between your jars. Layer the turnip and beet sticks in the jars, reserving the longest pieces for the end to secure the vegetables under the brine. Set aside reserved pieces of turnip.

Divide the salt equally and sprinkle it over the vegetables in each jar (so 1/4 cup per jar if you are using half gallons, and 2 tablespoons per jar if you are using quarts). Put the lids on and shake them up to distribute the salt evenly over all the vegetables. Use the reserved pieces of turnip to secure the vegetables underneath by tucking them in across the jar, under the shoulders of it, crossing the pieces to make a kind of guard at the top. Allow to sit for 6 - 12 hours to start releasing the water from the vegetables.

Top up the jars with water, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Put the lids on the jars, loosely, and place the jars on a platter with a rim or a pan to catch any overflow of liquid. Allow to ferment about 5 days. You may hear hissing or see bubbling, and this is good. That is the sign that the fermentation is happening. If they start to smell bad, and I mean bad, then something has gone wrong. It is an unmistakable smell, like a fungus. If you use a metal lid, there may be some discoloration that is distasteful, which is why I recommend a plastic lid, but will not harm the pickles themselves.

Taste to see if they are sour enough, and if not, put the lid back on and allow to ferment a few days longer (I usually never go beyond 7 days). Tightly seal the lids, wipe down the outsides of the jars, and place in the refrigerator. They will keep for at least a year in the refrigerator. Longer, actually, though they will get softer.

Chipotle Beef

This recipe can be made either on the stove or in the slow cooker. If you make it in the slow cooker, leave out the water, since there isn't the same evaporation as there is when cooked on the stove. This recipe is a 1:1:1 ratio for the meat, onion, and can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You can scale this up or down with ease. It makes great tacos, burrito filling, can be served over rice, or made into a tortilla casserole. My friend JoNell gave me the recipe, and I have adapted it for our ease and preference.

2 pounds beef cubes
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, snipped into small pieces in the can with scissors, with all the sauce (reduce to one can, if this is too spicy for you)
water to cover
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt

Place all the ingredients in a pot large enough over medium high heat. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated, about three hours. It should be pretty close to shredding on its own, but you can help it along if it needs it. Serve as you wish.

To make in a slow cooker, do not add any water, and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours.

Slow Cooked Beef Machacas

I found a similar recipe to this several years ago, and fiddled with it right from the start. We didn't have some of the ingredients, and I wanted to do other things with the recipe. In any case, this is what I came up with. Normally, I make these with bell peppers and jalapenos, because those are easiest to get. However, with our bounty this week, I had some sweet, smoky, red frying peppers and some habaneros. I used one habanero for the entire pot and left out the chipotle powder.

3 - 4 pounds beef chuck roast (or another tough cut that does well with slow cooking)
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and diced
6 sweet peppers, seeded and diced
2 hot peppers, seeded and minced
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
1 quart diced tomatoes with their juices (jarred or canned)

In a small bowl mix the ancho chile, cumin, salt and chipotle powder and spread over the chuck roast. Heat a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add the chuck roast and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Remove and place into the slow cooker.

Add the onions and peppers to the skillet and saute for 5 - 10 minutes, or until the onions get soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Scrape the bottom and then add the vegetables to the slow cooker.

Add tomatoes and beef broth to the slow cooker and set to low for 8 - 10 hours.

After the beef has cooked enough to start shredding, use two forks to shred completely, mixing in the vegetables and juices.

Serve with warm tortillas and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

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