Jalapeño Spiced Beef Stew

I have never been one to diet or one to restrict anything I eat or drink. I truly believe that I should enjoy every single thing that I want to, and so I have never curtailed my consumption of food or drink. I scorn diets and I scorn the calorie counters… because it turns the ethereal and wonderful experience of food into a mathematical equation that makes you miserable. However, recently, I have found that the tremendous stress I deal with has negatively impacted my eating habits. I used to eat all I wanted – but I ate fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein – and  because I ate good and clean foods… I felt good and maintained a trim figure. However, I am in law school and I live in a city where fried chicken is an institution and fries accompany every meal. And when you cook for one, it’s easier to snag a pizza and it’s easy to justify ordering in because the 40 minutes it takes for delivery to arrive is a precious 40 minutes you could be reading for school.

Anyway, this semester winds down, and finals scare the living sense out of me – I have made some small dietary changes to take my focus off being scared (I always start projects when I’m stressed out so I can distribute my nervous energy and handle my neurotic insomnia). My sister and mother recently transitioned to a paleo/primal eating pattern and both have felt they are vastly improved. Both have slimmed down and enjoy eating paleo/primal. While I have not made the drastic switch that they have, I have eliminated nearly all processed foods (with the exception of my candy stash for finals studying) and have drastically cut down my wheat intake. I’ve cleaned out my pantry, and just in time for donating to charities for the holiday season.

This December has been unseasonably warm, but with the drippy rain I felt the need for some stew. Instead of dusting the beef in flour, I seared the beef chunks in olive oil and then gently muddled a baked yam into the stew to thicken it up and for some added flavor. And since it is stew, I allowed myself a small handful of egg noodles to round out my dinner.

Jalapeño Spiced Beef Stew (Kaprise Kitchen)

  • 16 oz ribeye steak, cubed (you can use any other cut of beef, but I prefer ribeye in mine)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 small seeded jalapeños, diced (be wary of those teeny ones that pack a punch. Mine were the small ones that positively emanated heat, so I seeded and rinsed mine with great care)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 portabella mushroom, diced
  • 1 cup of red wine (I used a good Malbec, but anything on the drier side will be fine)
  • 1 orange yam, steamed until soft
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt/pepper to taste
  1. Cube meat and dust with black pepper and salt
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil and sear the cubed ribeye, flipping cubes as the sides brown.
  3. Once the meat has browned, stir in the jalapeño and onion, until both have softened slightly.
  4. Stir in wine and allow the wine to reduce by half before adding filtered water
  5. In the broth, muddle the yam until it dissolves into the liquid. I steamed my yam for about 15 minutes until it was soft to touch.
  6. Add the remaining ingredient and simmer for 1 hour.
  7. Serve over noodles or on it’s own.

 

 

Seeking Serenity

It’s only been a couple weeks since classes started again, but I already feel the need to run away. I feel responsibility to do this league long list of things, but inside I just want to fleetly race away. I was asked when the last time I painted, and I didn’t remember. In fact, it’s been months and months since I last unpacked my oils and painted. What happened to me?

Anyway, as always my serenity comes from long hours of patiently cooking, painting, or running. I haven’t cooked in quite a while, but these ribs are the right answer for any number of ailments. Brushing the ribs with mustard and dry rub, and then patiently waiting as they gently bake in your oven? This is as close to end of summer salve as it gets. And as summer unwinds and turns dramatically into fall, this is the perfect way to kiss summer goodbye. And for those apartment dwellers, like myself who do not have grills, this is perfect.

I eyeball the ingredients and taste before generously patting the ribs with the rub. Feel free to change and add the herbs you want to make your ribs taste the way you like. The only necessities are brushing the bottoms of the ribs with mustard and some salt/pepper and then a generous pat of dry rub.

Dry Rub Ribs (Kaprise Kitchen style)

  • 3 to 5 pounds of baby back pork ribs. (I’ve used spare ribs with good results)
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground red pepper
  • pinch of lavender powder
  • 2 tablespoons of fine mustard
  • salt/pepper
  1. In a bowl mix together all spices and sugar but the mustard and salt and pepper.
  2. Trim ribs as necessary. I normally trim any unsightly bits and overly fatty sections. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.
  3. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper
  4. Brush the bottoms of the ribs with the mustard
  5. Pat the dry rib over the tops of the ribs and sides. (I once patted the entire rack with rub…. it was a bit messy and the flavor was no different, so spare the bottoms of the ribs).
  6. Before pre-heating your oven, scrub the racks and line the lower shelf with foil that is tilted slightly towards the center to prevent any dripping. If you have one of those super-sized cookie sheets that will protect your entire lower shelf… use that.
  7. After preheating the oven, place the ribs directly on the oven shelf
  8. Bake ribs in a 275 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours. I normally let mine cook for 2.5 hours and then raise the temperature to 400 degrees and brush the tops of the ribs with just a thin layer of BBQ sauce (I’m not cool, so I buy mine at the grocery store. This time? The yellow one)
Notes:
  • I have read a number of recipes on wrapping ribs in foil and blah blah blah but you know… that’s so complicated and this is so much easier
  • I do like my rub on the sweeter side, so feel free to scale back the sugar if it’s just too much for you
  • If you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can use a dry packet of Italian salad dressing with the sugar. You won’t need to salt the ribs or do anything else.
  • If you are from Baltimore? Do what I know you will, use Old Bay!

Guilty

In law school, I think a lot about guilt. We learn and analyze guilt on so many different levels, and think about proving guilt, disproving guilt, and the nature of guilt. Law school has changed the way I think of people, maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I see things in terms of lawsuits, guilt, and how solid my arguments to nail you to the proverbial wall. I judge things based on the gravity of the information I have in my possession… and I research to further analyze whether my judgment is sound. I judge. I judge a lot.

The other day, someone asked me, “What are your guilty pleasures?” And I thought… how could something that is pleasurable be guilty? Is it wrong? Are you doing something morally questionable? Why does something that make you happy a guilty thing?  Because in my mind – pleasure is good. Feeling good is good. So… what is guilty about it? A lot of people talk about food like that… chocolate is their guilty pleasure… or cupcakes. Or ribs. But to me? Food is never guilty or bad or regrettable. I believe in eating all of the wonderful things in the world and enjoying every single bite… and then if you are worried about the calories? You go run it off… I don’t believe in low calorie. I don’t believe in fat-free. I don’t believe in sugar free. I don’t believe in skipping meals. I don’t believe in dieting to lose weight. I believe in loading up on all of the good things in life. Food, exercise, and laughs.

Anyway, a few years back, my sister and I saw some stellar reviews for an arepas bar in NYC. I was working in the Financial District at the time, so my sister collected by father and me from work and we went to the arepas bar. It was delicious. Granted, my dignified father, sister, and I were squished in a little hole in the wall restaurant table nailed against the wall… but the food was delicious. And I was instantly infatuated with the idea of making my own arepas. After doing my research, I bought a bag of masarepa flour and fixings. My family and I ate arepas for months afterward… it was one of those treats we would gather around the table to eat. It was fun. We’d hollow out the pillows of arepas and load them up with cheese, beans, and meat. It was messy, and inevitably the munchkin would stick her head through our arms and try to lick the table. It was so much fun, and so delicious.

So, now that I live alone and in a little apartment, arepas are few and far between. The frying oil permeates my apartment, and I dislike sitting eating what I consider family food by myself. The arepas we ate at the arepas bar were thick, and hollowed out to make room for fillings, but I make mine thin and crisp. It eliminates the hollowing out step, and then I top the arepas with toppings like canapes. I think this would be an amazing appetizer for a dinner party, the crisp little arepas are just phenomenal with melted cheese and beans. I think any topping would be phenomenal. Maybe some pulled pork, or chicken to make them heartier.

Arepas (Kaprise Kitchen Style)

  • 1 cup of masarepa flour (this is different than masa harina!)
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of black beans
  • 1/2 cup of salsa (or homemade pico de gallo)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (any kind! I used a pre-shredded mix from the grocery)
  • hot sauce (Tabasco, Cholula, whatever floats your boat)
  • 1/2 -1 cup of canola oil
  1. In a bowl, stir together masarepa and water until the water is absorbed. Cover the mixture for 10 minutes
  2. After the dough has rested a bit, wet your hands and form the dough into 2 tablespoon patties. Flatten them to about 1/4 inch thick. I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons per circle to make smaller and cuter arepas.
  3. Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a skillet
  4. Fry the arepas in the oil until golden, about 4 minutes per side.
  5. Allow the arepas to drain on paper towels, continue to fry the remaining arepas.
  6. Arrange the arepas on a cookie sheet
  7. Top with black beans and cheese
  8. Broil (on high) arepas until the cheese has melted
  9. Top with salsa and serve.
  10. The arepas keep well in the refrigerator (without salsa) for up to 3 days. You can simply reheat in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Pesto, Brisket and all things Good

My paper was submitted last night and today? Today was amazing.

I went to buy a suit, and not only did I find that was suitably conservative and girlie (yes… there are little ruffles!) but it was on sale…. super sale. So $85 later, I hooked a pair of $10 sunglasses in the teen department of Nordstrom and headed to the supermarket.

I snagged some of those awesome raw chickpeas again, and a rosy red 2 pound slab of brisket. In addition to the plethora of greens, interesting vegetables, and some fruit. I got home at 3, but have spend the last couple hours sorting through everything and mushing my basil into pesto. Almond Pesto. (I also rubbed my brisket with some chili, cumin and pepper… peeled my chickpeas, cleaned my apartment, and marinated some kick-ass chicken)

I don’t have pictures yet, but here is my recipe

Almond Pesto (the Kaprise Kitchen way)

  • 1/2 cup of roasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup of shelled edamame (I like the extra texture this gives my pesto)
  • 1/2 cup of good olive oil
  • 1 medium bunch of basil
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbl of minced garlic

I throw everything into the blender/food processor and whizz until creamy. I add a little more oil and salt as needed.

Notes:

  • I make big batches of pesto and store them in the freezer. I spoon about 1/3 of a cup into mini plastic bags and seal the air out. Then I stack them neatly and freeze. This way, whenever I want some pesto, I just grab a little bag and let it de-frost on the counter while my pasta boils and then just toss it with the hot pasta.

17 Degrees

After spending a week in Florida, with my furry jacket stuffed in my suitcase and dancing down the streets in flats and running outside in the sunshine, I’m feeling down. I want to go back and pick up another bushel of blood oranges and walk on the beach with the sand squishing in my toes while the red juice runs down my chin. I want to put that $15 bikini I fished out of a clearance bin back on and roll around on the sand.

Not to mention the start of classes. EWWW. I’m happy to be back in my cozy apartment with my fluffy little munchkin, but  this morning when the thermometer read 17 degrees… I was blue. 17 degrees is even too cold for a cold weather running junkie like me. My little dog was thrilled, it’s not wonder, because she was born wearing a cashmere sweater… but me? I was born cashmere-less.

Anyway, this general ennui has spread… I’m sitting in the library leafing through Income Tax law and looking through pictures from last week. The sun! The sand! The beautiful hotel!

Normally when I am stuck inside I resort to baking, rolling out jam tarts and baking mounds of chocolate cupcakes. This time? I have  rolled like a taco in my blankets and watching itunes movies on repeat. I didn’t even finish unpacking from Florida yet! And this morning? I realized the puff pastry I was defrosting on Friday was still on the counter in a floopy and gloopy mess. I realized this morning, as I chucked this goopy mess, that I must need a new spark. And inspiration.

So I have given myself a project. I will post every single Monday and Friday of each week (twice a week!) with recipes, pictures optional. You all can keep me on track.

This is a recipe for bbq chicken that I use frequently when I feel that the massive quantities of buttered bread should be offset by some protein. The removing the skin from the chicken is a bit tedious, but it is well worth it.

BBQ Oven Roasted Drumsticks (a Kaprise Kitchen original and favorite)

  • 6-8 chicken drumsticks, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup of bbq sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Worchestire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crumbled lavender
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons of whole grain mustard
  • salt/pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Using a pair of kitchen shears, remove the skin from the chicken drumsticks. I slide the tip of the shears under the skin and cut from the meaty part of the chicken to the end of the bone. Then I cut through the little tendon and peel the skin from the meaty section down and over the end of the bone. Then I push back the clear and gelatinous membrane from the chicken before rinsing and patting dry.
  3. Cut two diagonal slices into the meaty part of the drumstick, just until a little before you hit the bone.
  4. Whisk the bbq sauce and ingredients together in a small bowl. Using a basting brush, brush the chicken with  sauce
  5. Reserve any remaining sauce for basting
  6. Lie the chicken in the baking dish with about 1 inch of space on each side.
  7. Bake chicken for 30 minutes, rotating the pan once during cooking and basting with remaining sauce
  8. Raise the temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is browned and the juice run clear when you prick with a knife.
  9. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before serving

Notes on this recipe:

  • Skinless drumsticks are available for purchase at some groceries, however they normally charge up to 2xs more per pound for skinned chicken. I prefer to do it myself (because I am a control freak) and normally buy about 5-10 pounds of drumsticks, skin the chicken and then store it in freezer bags (4 per bag) for whenever I want to have this dish.
  • I use a specific type of bbq sauce (with a yellow label), but the name escapes me right now… but that one is my favorite. Feel free to use any type of sauce you want… this chicken is just as good with a soy/ginger sauce as it is with bbq sauce.
  • During baking, try not to open the oven more than once to rotate the pan, the high temperature required for this dish is essential in having the chicken cook evenly and brown perfectly.
  • If you prefer a slightly crisper crust on your chicken, sprinkle a little salt on the tops of the chicken, it’ll help crisp up nicely.