Friday, October 30, 2009

Peanut Flour

The October 2009 issue of "Southern Living" magazine has an ad by the National Peanut Board that included some peanut recipes. One that looked particularly intriguing is "Peanut Oven-Fried Chicken with Citrus-Ginger Sauce". We have pretty much all of the ingredients on hand, except for one: Peanut flour. Seriously, we even have the aromatic roasted peanut oil; so, I thought, I guess we're gonna have to get us some peanut flour.

First we first tried Sunflower Shoppe in Colleyville, a large health food store. They had almond flour, hazelnut flour, pecan flour, coconut flour - but no peanut flour. Next we tried Central Market in Southlake, an upscale gourmet grocery store. They had a similar selection of different flours - but no, alas, peanut flour.

So, I went to the web site for the National Peanut Board, found the recipe on their web site, and added a comment asking where I might be able to find peanut flour in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Lo and behold, I received an email within 24 hours from a Communications Specialist for the National Peanut Board with the following message:
Thanks for reading the National Peanut Board blog and for your interest in trying some of our recipes. Unfortunately, peanut flour isn’t yet available in retail stores, but we would be happy to send you some peanut flour to work with and would welcome any feedback you have about using it.

If you send your address, we’ll get that out to you early next week.
I replied, thanking her for responding, and gave her my mailing address. This week, a package arrived by UPS containing a 1 pound package of peanut flour. So, next week we'll be having "Peanut Oven-Fried Chicken with Citrus-Ginger Sauce" for dinner some evening. There are also other recipes on the National Peanut Board web site that look yummy, such as

Peanut-Parmesan Spiced Chicken

Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi with Spicy Peanut Aioli
Peanut Butter Pancakes

I may even try to come up with some recipe's of my own using peanut flour, stay tuned . . .

btw, the National Peanut Board has an extensive selection of peanut recipes - check them out if you're looking for new things to try.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vegetable stock

Making a vegetable stock is a good use of excess vegetables in your fridge that may otherwise go to waste. I like to use fresh produce whenever possible. The problem is, so often we have to buy produce in a pre-measured package of some sort rather than just what we need. For example, the other day I was making a recipe that called for a leek (as in one leek). You can't buy just one leek - you have to buy 2 or 3 leeks. A week or so ago I needed a parsnip; but, you can't just buy one parsnip - they typically come in a cello package. Which I don't really understand because turnips, rutabagas, and even carrots (in upper end grocery stores) can be bought individually - but not parsnips, at least here in Texas.

Anyway, rather than letting the leftover vegetables go bad in the fridge (as typically happens), I decided to make a vegetable stock. I used a recipe for vegetable stock on the food network website - although not to the letter. I just used what I had.

My vegetable stock has
  • 2 parsnips
  • 4 carrots
  • 1/2 bunch of celery that was starting to wilt
  • 1/2 onion from the fridge plus a whole onion from the pantry
  • 1/2 head garlic separated into cloves and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 package of snow peas
  • Some string beans I bought the other day to have with dinner and forgot to cook
  • 3/4 bunch of arugula
  • a small red bell pepper from my garden
  • A dozen (or so) black pepper corns
  • A good sized handful of fresh herbs from the garden
    • bay leaves
    • thyme (2 types)
    • savory
    • marjoram
    • oregan0
    • rosemary
I washed everything under cold running water; but, I did not peel the carrots or parsnips - I just scrubbed them and cut them into quarters. Even the onion was chopped into quarters, skin and all, after washing.

Just dump everything into a big pot, bring it to a boil, then simmer for several hours. Turn off the heat, let it cool, strain and package into freezer containers and freeze.

I'll be using 1 cup and 2 cup containers. But, I'll have to figure out some way to distinguish them from the chicken stock containers we made a month or so ago. Hmmm, this makes me want to find a butcher to see if I can get some beef bones to make a good hearty beef stock. It's hard to find a real butcher these days since most grocery stores have gone to pre-packaged meat.

You may notice that there is no salt. The original food network recipe didn't call for salt either. Commercial stocks and broths are often loaded with salt - which is a good reason for making your own. We don't use a lot of salt in our home. I often put in 1/2 the amount of salt (or less) a recipe calls for, except for certain recipes, like baked goods, where the salt is essential to the chemical reaction.

A vegetable stock can be substituted in many recipes that call for chicken stock. I wouldn't substitute vegetable stock in something like chicken and dumplings; but, a acorn squash/pumpkin soup I made the other day called for chicken stock - and a vegetable stock would have worked just as well, perhaps even better (it wasn't as delicious as I wanted it to be - which is why the recipe isn't posted here).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Shepherd's Pie (aka Daddy Jon's Pot Roast, part II)

Since it's just Linda and I, we usually always end up with leftovers after dinner as we just haven't gotten used to the idea of cooking for two. I usually end up eating the leftovers for lunch the next day or two. But, leftover pot roast was just too good to waste on lunch. So, I made shepherds pie.

The shepherd's pie we've made in the past had the leftover meat and vegetables on the bottom, leftover mashed potatoes on top, and baked until the stuff on the bottom was bubbly and the potatoes were lightly browned.

This recipe is different in that it puts the potatoes on the bottom (soaking up all of that good flavor from the gravy) and a biscuit crust on top.

Shepherd's Pie
  • Leftover pot roast, cut into small chunks
  • Leftover gravy, heated in microwave until liquefied
  • Extra potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender
  • Leftover vegetables from pot roast
  • Extra vegetables if necessary to make 2 to 3 cups (see note below)
  • Instant biscuit mix (I used a single-use package of Kroger brand buttermilk biscuits, so I don't know how much actual mix)
  • 3 Tbl butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Potato layer: Place the potatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish and lightly mash, leaving it a bit chunky

Meat layer: spread the meat over the potatoes and then lightly drizzle the gravy evenly over the meat.

Vegetable layer: Spread the vegetable mixture over the meat.

Biscuit layer: Mix up the biscuit mix according to instructions, adding just a bit more liquid to make it thinner than normal and spread it over the vegetables. Drizzle melted butter over the biscuits.

Place in oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the biscuits are lightly browned.

A note on vegetables: I only had a few carrots and parsnips leftover from the previous dinner. So, I chopped up some fresh carrots and precooked them in the microwave for one minute (covered). I also cut up some fresh green beans into 1 inch pieces and precooked them in the microwave for 1 minute (covered). I then added some frozen corn niblets. I could have used a bag of frozen mixed vegetables - but personally I think they taste nasty. Fresh carrots and green beans (in season) are pretty cheap, and they taste so much better than their frozen counterparts.

Daddy Jon's Pot Roast

For me, recipe's are more like suggestions than actual rules. I usually start with a recipe, often looking up several recipes - and then I concoct my own recipe using ideas inspired by those I looked up as well as my own.

This recipe is no exception. It started out as Momma Neely's Pot Roast, but I added enough of my own ideas to it that it is now my own recipe; so, I call it Daddy Jon's Pot Roast.

Daddy Jon's Pot Roast
  • 1 (3-4 pound) pot roast (I prefer bone-in as the bones lend flavor)
  • Vegetable oil (I used bacon grease leftover from my breakfast)
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed (don't be afraid to add even more garlic)
  • 1 cup red wine (see note below)
  • 2 cups stock (preferably beef, but whatever you happen to have on hand, I used chicken because that's what I happened to have left over from a previous dinner)
  • 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs (I suppose a teaspoon of dried would work)
  • a handful of raisins
  • 12 whole allspice berries
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces (1/2 inch if large in diameter)
  • 2 parnips peeled and sliced into 1 inch pieces (1/2 inch if large in diameter)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil and sear the roast on all sides. Remove the roast and add the onions, garlic, and tomato paste; cook until slightly colored. Remove the Dutch oven from the burner, spread the onion mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan and lay the roast on top. Add the wine, stock, thyme, bay leaves, allspice, and peppercorns. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven.

Roast for about 1-1/2 hours and then add the carrots and parsnips, pressing down into the liquid. Continue to cook for another hour or so.

Remove the roast and vegetables from the dutch oven to a serving dish. Strain the leftover liquid in the dutch oven through a colendar and then return to the dutch oven. Over medium heat, gently boil the cooking liquid to reduce and thicken. Remove gravy to a bowl

Optional: You could also add potatoes along with the carrots and parnips. Although, I put a couple of baking potatoes in the oven at the same time I added the carrots and parsnips to the pot. I left the potatoes in the oven while I reduced the cooking liquid.

A note on the wine: Personally, although I am a Mormon and don't drink, I don't have a problem using a bit of wine in a recipe. Particularly one like this where it cooks for a long while as all alcohol will be long gone by the time it is consumed. I usually keep a bottle of cooking wine in the pantry; although, I've recently discovered that, if you watch sales, you can pick up a bottle of cheap wine for $3-$4 dollars, which is cheaper than cooking wine. To a wine connoisseur, I'm sure it probably tastes nasty; however, my personal opinion is that the typical substitutes (water, juice, stock, etc.) change the flavor profile and that even a cheap wine will produce a result closer to what the author of the recipe intended. However, if you have a problem using wine in a recipe then feel free to substitute.