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Indian Butter Chicken November 9, 2019

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Indian Dishes.
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Indian Butter Chicken

Some of the world’s great cuisines are in Asia – Chinese, Thai, Indonesian and Indian.  Most of use spend too little time on these great cooking traditions.  In some cases, we have trouble finding and understanding the ingredients, but mostly we are afraid to step out of our comfort zone.  A good way to start experimenting with Asian cuisines is to try an easy to make classic that is not too dissimilar to American or European dishes.  Indian Butter Chicken is a perfect candidate – not too spicy with tomatoes and chicken as the main ingredients.

This recipe will introduce you to two of my favorite ingredients in Indian cooking.  The first is Garam Masala, which, like curry powder is a mixture of spices.  Garam Masala contains nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin and black pepper.  Notice that there is nothing spicy or hot in the mix.  It gives a slightly sweet tone to a dish.  I think that it is hard to use too much.  Garam Masala is available at almost any supermarket or on-line at Penzey’s (maybe the best source of spices.)

The second ingredient is garlic ginger paste.  This is a key element of this dish and you should make your own since it is sometimes hard to find.  If you can peel ginger and garlic and have a food processor or blender, it is easy to make.  The instructions below will produce more than you need, but you can freeze the extra amount, since you will, I assure you, make more Butter Chicken.

Making Ginger-Garlic Paste

The ingredients are simple: 4 oz. peeled garlic, 4 oz. fresh ginger and olive oil.  If you don’t have a kitchen scale, 4 oz. is about ½ cup.  However, get a hold of yourself and get a scale if you don’t have one.  I suggest the Eat Smart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale – under $20 on Amazon.

Break the ginger apart into manageable pieces and use a vegetable peeler to remove the outside skin and any fibrous parts.  Peel the garlic cloves. 

Roughly chop the garlic and ginger and put into a food processor.  Turn on and slowly add olive oil through the top until you get a thick paste.  Finish at high speed to blend thoroughly.  Store in a freezer safe container

Servings: 12

Time:  1 hr. Prep

            1 hr. Cooking

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:

  • 3 lbs. chicken breast or thighs – cut into ½ in. cubes.  (Hint: partially frozen makes the chicken easier to cut into cubes.)
  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Procedure

  1. In a large skillet or frying pan, heat the oil and garam masala over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the salt and pepper to the chicken and stir well. 
  3. Add the cubed chicken to the frying pan, stir well to coat and brown for about 7-8 minutes until chicken is golden brown.
  4. Turn heat off and leave chicken to rest

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 1-1/2 cups shallots – finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups onion – finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes (Italian San Marzano are the best)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup of water
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ chopped cilantro or parsley

Procedure:

  1.  Pour the tomatoes with the juice into a china cap or other strainer and puree the tomatoes, forcing them through the strainer with a wooden pestle or the back of a large spoon.  This should produce 3 cups of puree.
  2. In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat the peanut oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and onion and sauté until softened.  
  3. Add the lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, chili powder, ground cumin, salt, pepper and bay leaves.  Stir well and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato puree, yogurt and half-and-half.  Stir well.  Reduce heat and gently simmer uncovered for 15 minutes stirring frequently.
  5. Mix the cornstarch and water, add to the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with jasmine or basmati rice; garnish with parsley or cilantro. 

The final result should be a thick sauce.  If too thin, gently simmer for additional time. 

Serve with naan, if desired.  This is very typical.  Check the Bravado website for a great naan recipe – easy to make at home.  Some add cayenne pepper to this dish, but I like it better without the heat.  However, if you feel the need, add one-half tsp. of cayenne, but no more. 

This dish is almost a meal in itself, but it also goes well with any green vegetables like green beans or broccoli.  There are many wonderful Indian vegetable dishes but maybe we should not worry about that now.  Let this be your first baby step into the world of Asian cuisine.

Blini with Caviar June 29, 2019

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Appetizers, Classic Eastern European Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Blini with Caviar

We recently went to a friend’s house to have cocktails on his terrace overlooking a small lake. We were surprised to find champagne, ice cold vodka and homemade blini with caviar. Blini, which is the plural of blin, are small, rich pancakes similar to French crépes. We decided to try to repeat the experience when some special friends came over for drinks this week, and it was a real hit.

Blini are a traditional Russian and Ukrainian dish which have been eaten in those countries for over 2,500 years, as documented in old coins and medals. Although they are eaten throughout the year, they are most commonly enjoyed just before the beginning of Lent to celebrate the end of winter. They are always served with sour cream or crème fraiche, caviar, and finely chopped onions and hard boiled eggs. The egg yolk and white are always separated. Don’t ask why, that is simply the way it’s done.

In Russia and the Ukraine, the traditional liquid refreshment is always ice cold vodka. However, as a curtsy to modern tastes, especially among the ladies, champagne is also an excellent choice.

Perfect Blini

Not surprisingly, the proper way to assemble and eat a blini can be confusing. The best way is to take the blini, add a dollup of sour cream, put caviar on top of the sour cream and then add onion and egg as you wish. The proper way to eat a blini is to fold it in half like a taco, get near your plate so you don’t spill and enjoy. Finish with a nice taste of vodka or champagne and you will understand why this dish is so popular.

Proper Eating Technique

You have to be careful if the champagne is too good. Women tend to swoon.

In Danger of Swooning

Here is what you need for a party of up to eight people:

For the blini: (this recipe is based on the one found in Joy of Cooking with some modifications)

Makes 24 blini

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat or buckwheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. dry yeast
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1-1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 3 eggs

Procedure:

  1. Heat the milk over medium heat; add the butter cut into pats and stir until the butter has just barely melted. Do not get the milk too hot; it should feel hot but not scalding to your pinky. If not, let it cool.
  2. Sprinkle the dry yeast over the milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. (BTW, the reason you don’t want the milk too hot is because it will kill the yeast if the temperature is over about 120 degrees F. If the milk is too cold, less than 100 degrees F, the yeast will not “bloom”.)
  3. Mix the dry ingredients – flour, salt and sugar.
  4. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Lightly beat the yolks with a fork.
  5. Add the buttery milk and the egg yolks to the dry ingredients and whisk gently.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and let the batter sit for 1-2 hours.
  7. When the batter is ready, beat the whites until they have small peaks and fold into the batter.
  8. Add a pat of butter to a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add two tablespoons of batter for each of the blini. Flip when you see browned edges and bubbles on the top. Add additional pats of butter as needed.
  9. Keep the blini warm in a glass dish covered with a dish towel or in an oven at 200 degrees F.
Cooking the Blini
The Finished Product

For the accompaniments:

  • 4 oz. caviar
  • 1-1/2 cups of crème fraiche or sour cream, diluted with 3 tbsp. of heavy cream. Crème fraiche is not readily available and sour cream diluted with a little heavy cream works very well.
  • 1 Spanish red onion – finely diced
  • 3 eggs – hard boiled and finely diced with the yolks and the whites separated
  • 2 bottles of good champagne (try the great American champagne from New Mexico – Gruet
  • 1 bottle of cold vodka (store it in the freezer)

The only issue with the accompaniments is hardware. You need to find some dainty bowls and small spoons for the onion, eggs and caviar. It is best to set the caviar bowl into a larger bowl which has ice to keep it chilled. (There are caviar bowls you can buy on Amazon) The vodka and champagne also need ice buckets. Improvise as needed.

Enjoy!

Coconut Cake June 10, 2018

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Desserts.
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Cocomut Cake

 

This recipe comes from a good friend, Priscilla Nei.   I am not sure where she got it, but it is really great.  As you can see below, the condensed milk and coconut cream are “infused” into the cake.  This makes the final product incredibly moist.  Whenever I make this cake, people literally fight over the last pieces.

I wish I could say that this is a really healthy creation, but I think “indulgent” is a better word. After calculating the total calories of one whole cake and dividing that by 16 slices,  I decided that it is not prudent to communicate the numbers to my readers.  Best that you try this great recipe and see if you even care about calories. (more…)

KISS Ribs June 3, 2018

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Summertime is upon us – women look better, beer tastes colder and, for some reason, we’re drawn like a magnet to the outside grill. In past posts, we’ve talked about some great grilling ideas, such as

  • Argentinean flank steak
  • Six-Pack Chicken
  • Smoked Brisket
  • Tacos de Carne Asada (Grilled Beef Tacos)

This summer, let’s talk about ribs on the grill.  They are inexpensive, healthier than you think, and easy to prepare, especially with our KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) recipe. (more…)

Rice Pilaf -You’ll go nuts for this ancient dish August 10, 2017

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Middle Eastern Dishes.
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 Before we start today, we need to have a talk. I know that some of you are reading these great articles, but you are not actually trying some of the fantastic recipes.  This has got to stop.  Go no further unless you are committed to cooking rather than just reading.  I say this because the recipe that I am going to share with you today is so good that it will bring tears to your eyes.

If you’re Greek, Armenian, Turkish, Iranian, Afghani or Azerbaijani, you already know about this great dish – it is part of your national tradition.  If you’re Brazilian or Spanish, you eat versions like Pilau and Paella.  Most of you have had it in restaurants, but you have probably not paid attention.  This magical dish that we are going to talk about today is Rice Pilaf.  Forget the little boxes that you can buy in the store.  Make Rice Pilaf from scratch at home and it will be like the day you first tried garage door opener, or something. (more…)

Homemade Corned Beef Hash May 23, 2017

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes.
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Corned Beef Hash

If you want something special for breakfast, this is the dish.  I have always loved corned beef hash, even the canned varieties.  Recently, while staying at the

Greenbriar Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, I had their famous homemade corned beef hash with two poached eggs on top.  It was outrageously good and I became committed to reproduce the dish at home.  While I won’t claim to have surpassed the Greenbriar, I think you will find this recipe very good.

This recipe starts with a whole flat cut corned brisket just like the ones that are always sold around St. Patrick’s Day.  “Corned” simply means a brisket that has been brined for 2-3 days.  This was a technique used in pre-refrigeration days to preserve the meat.  Now, we continue the tradition because of the resulting slightly salty taste and interesting texture.

Corned beef is often boiled, but I suggest a technique from Mauigirl, where she braises the brisket in the oven rather than boiling it.  It works great.  I like to put the brisket in the oven when I go to bed (about 10:00PM) and take it out when I get up (about 6:00AM).  If I have a big group to feed, I have time to get the hash prepared and make a big deal of the whole process and serve an incredible breakfast.

The Science of Cooking Brisket

Tougher cuts of meat like brisket or pork shoulder (really the butt) have a lot of connective tissue, made up of collagen and elastin, which slowly dissolves over time during cooking.  The process usually takes 6-8 hours.  Once the collagen and elastin have “melted”, the meat will be beautifully tender, as long as you haven’t applied so much heat that the meat is completely dried out.  Long, slow braising at a low temperature is the only way to cook these cuts.  When braising, a little liquid is added and the dish is covered.

Here’s how to make your homemade corned beef hash.

The Brisket:

Ingredients:

  • Corned Beef – flat cut brisket (this is the typical way they are offered around St. Patrick’s Day)
  • 1 onion – sliced
  • 6 garlic – peeled and smashed
  • 2 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet – this helps in browning
  • ¼ cup water

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry the corned beef brisket, discard any flavoring packet, and brush with Kitchen Bouquet.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a large pan and brown the brisket for 2 minutes on each side.
  4. Brush the corned beef with Kitchen Bouquet and place in a roasting pan on a rack Add the onion, garlic and water, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for at least 8 hours.   Throw it in the oven when  go to bed, but make sure you remember to take it out in the morning!  The internal temperature should be about 210 degrees.DSC_0004
  6. Put into the refrigerator for an hour. This will make it easier to chop and dice

It is interesting to note that a 3lb. corned beef will yield only about 1.5-2.0  lbs. of meat after cooking and removing fat.  There is a lot of water in the beef.  You will get about 6 cups of diced meat.

The Hash

This recipe produces a large batch of corned beef hash which you can serve to a big group or freeze in smaller batches to use as needed.  Freezing works just fine as long as you use non-starchy potatoes like red or Yukon Gold varieties.  The object is to cook the potatoes about about three-quarters of the way and then dice.  They freeze and reheat better this way.  We also cook a little more before serving, so it works just fine.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of diced brisket as cooked above
  • 6 cups of non-starchy potatoes, like red or Yukon gold, unpeeled and quartered
  • 2 onions – diced
  • 1 red pepper – diced
  • ½ tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley

Procedure:

  1. Take the corned beef brisket out of the pan and put on a cutting board.  Save one cup of the juices in the bottom of the roasting pan.
  2. Dice the corned beef into ¼ inch cubes and set aside.  This is most easily done slicing the brisket across the grain and then, working with three or four slices, cut into cubes.  Remove any excess fat.  If the corned beef brisket has been cooked sufficiently, this will be a very easy process.DSC_0005
  3. Boil the potatoes with the skin intact for no more than 10 minutes. They should still be relatively firm.  Drain and set aside to cool.
  4. When potatoes are cool, dice into 1/4 inch cubes.
  5. Add the olive oil to a large pan and cook the onions and peppers until they just begin to soften.
  6. Add the reserved brisket, potatoes, red pepper flakes, parsley, salt and pepper to the pan and heat until warm. Add a little of the retained juices if too dry.DSC_0201
  7. Serve and enjoy.

Serving Techniques:

  1. Make a bed of hash and cook or poach two eggs and serve on top of the hash. Toss some parsley on top and you have a gorgeous breakfast dish.
  2. Serve the warm hash by itself with vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower for lunch or dinner.  Ketchup and Tabasco are good accompaniments.

Storage:

Put portions of 2 cups each into plastic bags and freeze until needed.  Each package will serve two people.  Take a frozen package out of the freezer at night and put into the refrigerator.  It will be thawed by morning.

Options:

  • Make Cauliflower Rice Hash and omit the potatoes. Chop the cauliflower in a food processor or grate with a food grater to make rice-sized pieces. Add the cauliflower to the sauteed onions and garlic. Proceed with the recipe.
  • Stir in your favorite spices such as thyme, parsley, chives or sage.
  • Instead of Worchestershire, add one of your favorite sauces, such as a BBQ sauce or a good hot sauce.

 

 

 

Hangtown Fries April 28, 2017

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes, Diary of a Wandering Foodie.
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Hangtown Fries served with Homemade Corned Beef Hash


A friend of mine, who also happens to be a Federal Judge, invited me to breakfast last week and served Hangtown Fries.  This exceptional dish is basically bacon, eggs and fried oysters, and it has a very interesting history. (more…)

Scones – We’ve Done Some Great Things with the British Classic October 18, 2016

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic British Dishes.
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Scones - Sweet with Chocolate and Cranberries

Scones with Chocolate Chips and Cranberries

A friend suggested an article on scones.  She was thinking colder weather, the warm and cozy feeling of something baking in the oven, maybe something nice and hot to drink.  Whatever.

Strangely, my thoughts drifted back to my high school days and what would have happened if I told my buddies that I wanted a scone.  There would have been pushing and shoving.  I would have been the endless butt of jokes for days, with pinkies sticking out in the air as if holding some imaginary cup of tea.  I can hear them asking, oh so sweetly, if I wanted some clotted cream or maybe some petit fours. (more…)

Tacos de Carne Asada August 23, 2016

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Mexican Dishes.
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1 comment so far
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One afternoon, I was walking through the park in my local community and I  saw a group of Latinos enjoying themselves around their grill.  I shouted across the way, “How about a double cheeseburger?”.  They shook their heads and wagged fingers in the air to indicate that there were no cheeseburgers involved.  However, they motioned me to come over.  I lived in Chile for three years and love to speak Spanish, so I joined them.

(more…)

Classic Tiramisu May 25, 2016

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Italian Dishes.
1 comment so far

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Tiramisu is the all-time most classic dessert recipe in the Italian lectionary.  You will find it on 75% of the menus in Italian restaurants.  There is a good reason for all of this – it is really good and actually fairly easy to make.

Origin and history:

Unlike many Italian dishes, tiramisu is relatively new on the scene.  It was “invented” in a famous restaurant in Treviso called Le Beccherie in 1969.  The restaurant is still there (2016).  Treviso is about 50km. north of Venice.

The dessert starts with zabaglione (or sabayon as they say in France).  This mixture of egg yolks and sugar is the beginning of many Italian desserts; so, if you learn to make tiramisu, you will be ready to prepare a whole range of luscious treats.  The zabaglione is poured over Lady Fingers, which are crunchy sweet biscuits shaped like a finger.   They are very absorbent and are quickly soaked in expresso or coffee along with some liqueur or rum before adding the zabaglione. (more…)

Granola – An American Classic May 18, 2016

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes.
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Maybe the Europeans might claim title to the inventors of granola.  They have something called Muesli in Switzerland.  However, in my mind granola is a truly American classic.  Invented in California in the 60’s by hippies and Seventh Day Adventists, it has grown non-stop ever since.  Rolling Stone has the full history on-line at:  a-social-history-of-granola

The exciting thing about granola is that it is soooo easy to make at home.  Once you try it, you will probably never get the store bought stuff again. (more…)

Fudge – An American Classic December 3, 2015

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes.
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Fudge

With the Holiday Season quickly approaching, it is time to start thinking of all the sweet things we can make. Here is a great one –  fudge using three different types of chocolate, two of which are dark.  It’s wonderful and creamy and, most importantly, justifiable. Ah yes, we all know that dark chocolate is very good for you – micronutrients and antioxidants and such (check out fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/6-health-benefits-of-dark-chocolate.html.) (more…)

The Best Hummus Ever November 14, 2015

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Appetizers.
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Hummus with parsley and cumin

Hummus with parsley and cumin

Hummus has become ubiquitous in the U.S. in recent years. However, you have never tasted a hummus as good as this one. It has one special ingredient – cumin – that makes all the difference. (more…)

Sexy Italian Salads August 17, 2015

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Italian Dishes, Classic Salads.
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The Ingredients for Sexy Italian Salads

The Ingredients for Sexy Italian Salads

Sometimes everything comes together and it all becomes clear. For, example, most people think of salads and can’t get excited. Well, that has all changed for me. Let me tell you how I got to this new place. (more…)

Linguine with Clam Sauce August 10, 2015

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Italian Dishes.
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2 comments

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Linguine with Clam Sauce

This is one of the all-time favorite pasta dishes. You will find it on well over 50% of the menus in Italian restaurants. In Italy, Venice is probably most famous for this dish. I have this vision sitting in a sidewalk café looking over a canal at sunset, sipping on a cold glass of Gavi di Gavi, watching long-legged beauties walking by and smiling at my wonderful travel companion of 50 years. (more…)

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