Sunday, October 28, 2012

Grilled Tumeric Chicken with Black Beans and Cous Cuous

Chicken breasts
white onion
Black beans
Cous cous
Black pepper
Brown sugar
Garlic powder
Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil
Pine Nuts

Start up the old grill and once it's reached cooking speed throw on the chicken. Cut the onion into rings, the thickness will depend on personal preference. Cook the "onion rings" on the grill with the chicken. Ideally the rings of onion will be cooked till they've almost lost their bitterness. Don't worry to much about burns on the onion, they will be delicious. When the chicken is almost fully cooked slather it in the glaze.

The glaze is made by first putting the turmeric, chipotle, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and honey together. This should form a rather thick paste. Loosen the paste by adding olive oil till it's reached a consistency similar to Elmer's glue but a touch less viscous. The flavor should be somewhat spicy but offset by the sweet. Make sure to not overdo it on the brown sugar as the glaze shouldn't be too sweet.

Open the can of black beans and drain off the goo that they come in. Put the beans in a pot with just enough water to cover the tops of the beans. Add the cumin, garlic powder, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Put on low medium heat just below simmer. You want to activate the flavors of the spices but not over cook the beans.

 For the cous cous make the cous cous, you can look up how elsewhere. In a dry saute pan heat the pine nuts making sure to toss frequently, until nuts are aromatic and slightly browned.

One may mix the beans and cous cous together or serve in separate piles alongside each other. The rings of onion should be placed atop the chicken. For variation one may chop the cooked onion up and mix into the cous cous and beans to form a bed for the chicken to sit on. This meal would also be complimented nicely by the addition of some toasted pita bread.

Guinness Barbeque Sauce

This barbecue sauce has layered tastes. If prepared properly the initial taste will be of sweet and cinnamon. Once that passes one will experience the Guinness flavor which passes away in an intense wave of heat. Once the heat subsides one is left with the aftertaste that Guinness leaves in the mouth. It also happens to be vegetarian. Depending on your feelings on yeast, and a substitution of molasses for honey it can be vegan.

The quantity of items are not given. This should be about what tastes good to you. Besides cooking should be experienced, not followed out of a book. Life is no fun that way.

Ingredients: tomatoes chopped
brown sugar
sherry vinegar
Preferably over a grill, if not then a saute pan will suffice, roast the jalapenos and onions. Ideally one would cook the jalapenos till they begin blistering on the outside, the onions till they are fairly well caramelized. Once they're finished cooking give the jalapenos and onions a quick dice
First run the tomatoes through a food processor till you have nothing but liquid. In a decent sized pot add the sherry vinegar approximately in a 1/5 ration of vinegar to tomatoe. Add enough honey to take the edge off of the vinegar. Put in the chopped jalapenos,garlic, and onions. Season with the cayenne, salt, and pepper. Simmer this until you have cooked out all of the water.

While the veggies/vinegar are cooking down, put on the Guinness. Pour the Guinness into a sauce pot and heat to a decent simmer. This is to reduce the Guinness and cook out the alcohol. Wait until you have the Guinness reduced to approximately half it's initial volume.

When the water is cooked out of the veggie mix and the Guinness is reduced to about half it's initial volume it's time to mix them. Ideally the final mixture should be approximately 1/4 reduced Guinness 3/4 veggie mixture. Once combined add the molasses(being generous), brown sugar, cinnamon, and cumin. Being somewhat liberal with the cinnamon and a touch more conservative with the cumin, a little goes a long way with cumin so take it easy.

Cook this just below simmer tasting occasionally and adding spices as necessary. Make sure to remember that salt can often bring out flavors that would become overpowering if more of the ingredient were added.

When the ideal taste has been reached slather it on the meat/veggie of your choice, cook and enjoy.

Having receieved multiple responses asking the amounts, I submit the following. But I do so with this caveat: I made this on the spur of the moment, as such all measurements will be guessed, and the amounts will be suitable to feed approx. 10 people with extra sauce to spare. 

tomatoes: 8 whole chopped
garlic: 2 cups
 jalapeno: 4
cumin: 2 tsp.
cayenne: 6 tbsp.
Guinness: 2 quarts
molasses: 1-1/2 cups
brown sugar: 1 cup+
salt: 5-6 tbsp.
pepper:4 tbsp.
sherry vinegar: 3/4 cup
honey: 1/2 cup
cinnamon: 3-4 tbsp.
onion: 2 onions

Bernaise Sauce

The following is how i was taught to make Bernaise sauce.

1C white wine
1C white wine vinegar
1 diced shallot
1tsp diced fresh tarragon
2C unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
In a sauce pan pour white wine and white wine vinegar. Add the diced shallot and fresh tarragon. Bring to just below boiling and cook down till there is no liquid left. Add the egg yolks and whisk vigorously till mixed. Once the egg yolks start to firm, to the point where the are beginning to become a touch viscous, begin adding the butter. The key here is to balance the heat from the stove with the addition of the butter. I like to use room temperature butter cut into slices so i can control the rate of addition, and so that the butter isn't so cold as to shock the sauce into breaking. A good indicator of the proper viscosity is when, while whisking, one can easily see the bottom of the pan between strokes. When the desired consistency is reached it should be seasoned (salt, pepper, cayenne) according to taste.

The salt content should be just enough to bring out the sweet quality in the butter. The cayenne should be relatively minimal just enough to add a hint of spice to the sauce. Not enough that it becomes overly noticeable, or spicy for that matter.

While making this sauce it is vital that unsalted butter be used so that the flavor can be more precisely controlled. From the addition of the eggs till all the butter is mixed in completely one should never stop stirring. Pay very close attention while adding the butter. To much to fast may break the sauce, and adding the butter to slowly while your pan is over the heat will over cook and curdle your egg. Pay very close attention while cooking. Heat management and whisk speed are your best allies in making this sauce.

If while cooking the sauce and one notices a distinct separation of egg matter and butter (a clear liquid separating form the thicker yellow) this means that your sauce is "breaking" immediately remove your pan from the heat source, and begin whisking as fast as you can. If necessary splash with a little bit of cold water. By splash i mean run your hand slightly cupped through a stream from your faucet and toss that into the pan.

This sauce is excellent for steak, or grilled asparagus.

Salmon crostini with pistachio smear

1cup pistachios-ground
1tbl dill
1 1/2cup creme fresh
1/2cup sour cream
lemon juice
salt and pepper
red wine vinegar
2 salmon filets
olive oil
To start this dish cook the salmon in the style of your choice. I just tossed the filets in a little olive oil put them into some tin foil gave them a dash of lemon juice(2tbl), and a little S&P and tossed them in the oven at about 350F till cooked through.

While the salmon is cooking you should cook off the crostinis as well. As to how to do that I defer to sensei's write up Garlic Crostini, simply leave off the garlic and you're good to go.

The smear consists of a mixture of creme fresh and sour cream(4/1 ratio approx). Add to that enough lemon juice (1-2tbl) so that the mixture becomes noticeably smoother. Once it's reached that stage add a dash of red wine vinegar(1tbl). Ideally one is looking for a slightly looser than sour cream consistency.

Take your pistachios and toss them in the blender/food processor and blend them till very fine. Be careful not to go to overboard with the blending or you will begin to make pistachio butter. Use more pistachios than you'll think you'll need. Once chopped up mix them with the cream mixture. There should be enough pistachio in the mixture to noticeably alter the color of the mixture and clearly see the bits of pistachio suspended in the mixture.

As for the dill, it depends on wether you're using dried or fresh. If you're using fresh dill you'll need a lot less than if your going the dry route. When added to the creme/pistachio mixture the dill should be a much lighter not quite as present flavor. So add and taste till you find a good balance point.
When the salmon and crostini are done allow them cool. Once cooled take the crostini and spread a layer of the smear on them. Then take the salmon and pull off bits along the natural flake lines that are present in cooked salmon. Place those pieces on the smeared crostinis and serve.

all amounts wildly guessed at

Duck confit pasta

The quantity of items are not given. This should be about what tastes good to you. Besides cooking should be experienced, not followed out of a book. Life is no fun that way.

Tomatoes (diced de-seeded)
 Red onion grilled and (diced)
 red bell pepper-Roasted (diced)
Duck confit
garlic (minced)
  Marsala wine
Pinch of parmesan
 Noodles (cooked)

Prep the tomatoes by quartering and de-seeding them. Cut the red onions into slices and put them on the grill long enough to get some good char marks on them. Roast the red bell pepper in the oven and remove the skin when done. Dice the tomatoes onions and red pepper. Shred the duck confit by hand removing excess fat. Don't worry about making the pieces that small, bite size is fine. Just keep in mind the duck will come apart a little bit while cooking as well.

Toss the tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, garlic, herbs, and confit into a sauté pan with the marsala wine. Cook until the wine is almost all cooked off, toss in butter, when melted, add cheese. Season to taste

Pour over cooked noodles and serve with good crunchy bread to offset the velvety texture of the dish

Amounts estimated, if you really need some sort of guide, take with a grain of salt (ahaha);

2 medium tomatoes
 ½ red onion
 1 bell pepper
 1 ½ duck legs
1tsp thyme
1tsp rosemary
 1tsp sage
 1tsp parsley
3 tbl garlic (more if you like)
 s&p to taste
 ¾ cup marsala
1 tbl butter
 2 tbl parmesan
1 1/2 cup noodles

Run for your money, the economic nonsense of college athletics

It is my contention that university athletics in general and at UNM in specific are a drain on the university and do not provide a worthwhile return on the investment the school makes in them. My modest proposal then is not the abolition of the sports programs at UNM, but to relegate them to the level of clubs. Vast sums of money are poured into the university athletics program. The usual justification for this is that having a successful sports team aids in national recognition and that aids in recruitment, arguably for the university itself, but the primary benefit for this probably falls to the sports program itself. In that a superior athletics program is more likely to attract superior athletes, not necessarily superior students. Athletics are often cited as a way of maintaining alumni interest in the university and thus increasing alumni funding but a study by the NCAA(1) found that this is not in fact the case. The relative success or failure of the sports programs at a university shows no apparent statistical relevance to alumni donations. Furthermore the study also showed that an increase in funding for athletics shows no statistical correlation between either team success or revenue from ticket sales. College athletics represent black holes for funding. That is, money can be poured into the programs, but there is no reason so expect any return on that investment.

UNM's athletic department runs on a $27,551,570 budget for the 09-10 fiscal year according to their SFRB application for a further $1,525,842(2). This is an immense amount of money to be pouring into these programs given the general state of the New Mexican economy, and the economy of the school in particular. According to a 2002 article at the time, both Stanford and the University of Michigan, significantly better funded schools, spend in the area of 33 million a year to run their athletics programs(5). This should raise some serious questions as to the amount of funding being put towards the athletics programs atUNM. How is it that a school whose overall economic profile could never compete with either of those schools pays the kind of money towards sports as those two institutions? Furthermore I perhaps falsely assumed that the point of a university is to educate people, and to provide them with the best education that the institution can afford. To that end the university is paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $750,000 a year to Michael Locksley plus benefits and Steve Alford negotiated a $975,000 compensation. This while multiple departments are losing faculty due to individuals retiring and there is a freeze on new faculty. The average salary for a UNM professor is around $108,859 (2). I leave you to do the math as to how many professors we could manage off the salary of one head coach, much less the small army of support staff that make up the athletics department. The fact is that the amount of money we spend is disproportionate given the size and fiscal capability of the university.

To add insult to injury the student athletes are afforded a great many amenities that the average student does not have access to. Granted these "student" athletes probably do need more outside support to assist them in passing their classes since they miss so much class that any "mere" student would long have been dropped for a similar amount of absences. Health insurance, tutors, psychological assistance, the list of assistance options to student athletes is a long list of programs designed to assist the student athlete pursue their college degree. What I find strange however is the wording specifically used in the SFRB request. There seem to be a proliferation of programs that are designed to almost force the student athlete to study and work on school related material. This is of course because as the athletics department states in the SFRB request "student athletes are held to strict academic requirements for competition as dictated by the NCAA and the mountain west conference, these standards are in most cases more stringent than those required of the general student population." I did a little research and found that the NCAA requirements are in fact simply a percentage of the school's minimum GPA requirement. Of course the required percentage of the minimum GPA required by the school goes up for each year attended, the benchmark is still the minimum. That benchmark is the same one that all students are subject to. I fail to see how more is required (academically) of student athletes than other students.

University athletics provides nothing economically to the university. For a school the size of UNM having an athletics department the size of the one we have can only be detrimental to the overall quality of the education at the university. So much money is sunk into athletics programs with the only beneficial result being perhaps a heightened sense of community and morale. But my suggestion of maintaining sports at a club level would still allow for these benefits while allowing the university to compete academically with other universities due to the flood of funding that could be diverted from athletics. Furthermore student athletes who are serious about receiving an education would be able to receive a better education and not endure such demands on their time as are currently required by their participation in a sports programs. The relegation of sports to the club level seems the only responsible solution to the situation facing the University. It would provide the athletic outlet for those who both enjoy sports and those who enjoy watching them. But at the same time it would allow the massive amounts of funding that are currently spent on sports to be diverted towards other, dare I suggest academic, programs. While some may say that the loss of division 1 sports will cause immense financial repercussions for the school I ask how could saving almost 30 million a year hurt the school financially? That money certainly isn't made back in tickets. That is money that disappears every years and does nothing to further the quality of the education of the average student. If the school truly cared about giving a competitive education and doing first class research and turning the university from a no name backwater state school into a first class institution the solution is relatively simple. Abolish sports teams, relegate them to the level of clubs and let them lobby for funding like everyone else on campus who has a non academic interest but would like to pursue it while attending the university. I fully believe in the role of clubs and special interest groups that are funded in part by UNM. I don't know why it is that one particular group should receive such a disproportionate amount of money while the fundamental elements of the university are left to suffer.

(1)Litan, Robert. Jonathan Orzag, Peter Orzag. "The empirical effects of collegiate athletics: An interim report" Sebago Associates August 2003

(2)Cass, Tim "2010-2011 Student Fee review board funding request application" 12/7/09

(3)"Unm's $100k Club: More than 750 university employees draw six figure salaries" TMC.NET May 20 2007
(4)"Intercollegiate Athletics: Four year colleges' experience adding and discontinuing teams" GAO reports; 3/8/2001

12" Meat Sheet

In discussing food with  a friend I told him I would send him some recipes, I started typing them out and realized that the amount of work going in to simply committing things to "paper" is such that I might as well publish them for the benefit of others (should such people exist who are interested!) As such this blog will now have some recipes posted and ideally some more content in general seeing as I feel writing is something that is both important and something I should be better at. To that end I begin with a classic recipe of mine that I have not made, nor eaten in some time as I'm trying to eat as  little bread and sugar as possible these days. None the less I believe that this is quite tasty:

I prefer to not give measurements in my recipes because I tend to cook by sight, smell, and feel. But for the sake of trying to make this more coherent for people who prefer numbers I will make estimations from memory. As such feel free to increase or decrease any of these parameters. I feel that cooking should be a personal process and not mechanically followed from some piece of paper. Pay attention to what you are doing, how things are smelling, be involved with what you are going to eat not, what the paper says to do. The territory is not the map, the material you have to work with is not the same as what's on the list. Your individual needs may differ from what a recipe dictates, do not be held in thrall by an algorithm. Taste is personal, so to should the manner in which you cook be.

Trace's 12” Meat Sheet

Ingredients:                                                         Glaze:

Ground beef                                           Whole grain mustard
Baguette*                                                Honey or Molasses
Egg                                                                Ketchup
Ketchup                                                  Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Soy Sauce
Herbs D'Provence


I will attempt measurements after the introduction of an ingredient. For the sake of scaling I will be using 1lb of beef, which will not in fact create a 12” meat sheet. But that is the original name I gave this dish and I think it's funny so it stays.

In a large bowl place the ground beef (1lb). Take the baguette(~1/3 whole baguette) and shred by hand into small pieces (or cut into medium dice, but I find that irregular edges made by tearing the bread provide better soaking and crisping.). Cut onion(1 large) into large to medium dice and place in bowl with the baguette pieces.

Add the following into the bowl with the beef and bread:

Egg (2)
Ketchup (¼ cup)
Worcestershire sauce(1tbl)
Adobo (1tbl)
Soy Sauce (1tbl)
Herbs D'Provence (2tsp)
Ginger (½ tbl)
Cumin ( 2 tsp)
Garlic (4 cloves minced)
Salt (2 tsp maybe less, keeping in mind the salt already in the soy sauce)
Pepper (2tsp)

Mix this by hand until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. When fully mixed place on to cookie shit, ideally one with a lip around the edges as when this cooks it will release a lot of liquid that you don't want burning onto the bottom of your oven. Then spread the mixture out across the cookie sheet into roughly a 1/4~1/2 inch thick layer. Make sure the thickness is uniform across the cookie sheet to insure equivalent cooking.

The glaze will consist of the following:
Whole grain mustard (4tbl)
Ketchup (4tbl)
Honey or Molasses (1tbl)
Worcestershire sauce (1tsp)

Mix the 4 ingredients together. If you enjoy honey then use honey. Sometimes if you get good local honey the flavor can be particularly strong, and often somewhat floral. As such molasses makes a excellent substitute but either one will work equally well. Though I am partial to molasses. Take the glaze and spread evenly across the top of the meat sheet. If this proves to be to thin for your taste you can always make more glaze and put a thicker layer on top.

In an oven preheated to 375 bake the meat sheet for approximately 15 minutes. Ideally what will happen is that the glaze will caramelize and the outside surface of the meat sheet will become slightly crusty and delicious. This is particularly true of the bits of baguette that will be sticking out of the sheet. When the outside is completely cooked and looking crispy tasty, take out of the oven and let it sit for a minute or two, then cut into portion sized squares and enjoy.

*I prefer baguette but any sufficiently dense strong bread should suffice. The bread needs to be able to hold up to the amount of liquid that will be infusing it.