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Monday, July 29

American Native fry bread

Forgive my Food Network moment, which requires every dish to have a story. I have a long-standing love of "Indian" tacos, thanks to the Natives at the Oklahoma State Fair. Their overtaken fort within the fairgrounds was near magical to me as a boy.

Raised near the Indian Meridian, I grew up with Natives, schooled with them, and according to family lore, have a bit of their blood in my mix. I admire the different tribes' rich histories, some more than others, including the songs and dances. However, the passage of time, even when I was a boy, diminished the accurately retold history of grief European immigrants heaped on them. The numerous dislocated tribes in Oklahoma were a chapter in my state history book, and it wasn't a very thick book. They were the names of towns, streets, and such, which only the Natives and Oklahomans seem to intrinsically know how to pronounce (Tahlaquah, Muskogee, Oologah, and Tishomingo, to name a few, roll from the tongue).

Sadly, the story behind Navajo fry bread is one of sorrow and pain. Frighteningly, this story is bleak in both the past (being based on rations to prevent tribal starvation), and present (diabetes and obesity based on poor diet). As mouth-watering good as the taco ingredients piled on top of fry bread can be, this dish should only be enjoyed once or twice a year. To be true to the original, and achieve the correct flavor, lard is used. I prefer Crisco, which to me is a reasonable middle ground between a flavorless fry bread from corn oil, and a fatty one from lard.

Basic recipe:
Flour, unbleached
1 cup +
¼ teaspoon
Milk, powdered
1 teaspoon
Baking powder
1 teaspoon
½ cup
Oil for frying
  1. Sift together the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Pour in all the water at once, and stir with a fork until it starts to form one big clump.
  3. Flour your hands well, and work in all the flour to form a ball without kneading the dough.
  4. Divide the ball into fourths.
  5. Using floured hands, stretch, pat, and shape a piece of dough into a flat disk, about 5 to 7 inches in diameter, and then poke a hole in the middle with your thumb.
  6. In a Dutch oven, add oil to a depth of 1 inch, and heat to 350°F.
  7. Fry the dough disk, one at a time, for about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
After the fry bread is prepared, toppings can get creative. Traditionally, for tacos, it's layers of thick beefy tomato chili, shredded lettuce, orange cheese, and then diced tomatoes and onions (check out The Pioneering Woman for a great photo blog of the process). Some folks dust the fry bread with powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar, but I seldom go that route. (Beignets or funnel cakes sate my dessert fry bread cravings.)
One of my first dishes dumped on this blog without a recipe.
Not prone to fixing the same dish the same way twice, this time I'm starting with a 48-hour marinated bison top sirloin, grilled to perfection and then thinly sliced, as my first layer. Spring greens and herb mix next. Then, a fresh heirloom tomato salsa. Orange cheese of choice for the top: jalapeño cheddar!

Friday, July 26

Lemon-cured chicken

Chicken, whole, cut in half
4 pounds
Garlic, crushed
Oregano leaves, fresh
2 tablespoons
Rosemary leaves, fresh
2 tablespoons
Salt, kosher
4 teaspoons
Lemon zest, finely grated
1 tablespoon
Black pepper, freshly ground
½ teaspoon
Thyme, fresh
10 sprigs
Lemon, halved
Sugar, raw or light brown
2 teaspoons
  1. Combine the garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt, zest, and pepper, and rub the chicken with the mixture. 
  2. Place in a Ziploc bag, add the thyme, seal, and chill for at least 12 hours. 
  3. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. 
  4. Remove the chicken from the bag, and grill, turning occasionally, until cooked through, until the oven probe registers 165°F, about 30 to 40 minutes. 
  5. Sprinkle the cut sides of the lemon with sugar, and grill until caramelized, about 2 minutes. 
  6. Serve the chicken with the lemon. 
Recipe from Bon Appétit, August 2013.

Thursday, July 25

Cardamom pound cake with tea-poached plums

Butter, unsalted, room temperature
¾ cup +
2 cups +
Baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons
Cardamom, ground
1 teaspoon
Salt, kosher
¾ teaspoon
Milk, whole
¼ cup
Crème fraîche
½ cup +
1 cup
Eggs, large, room temperature
Vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon
Almond extract
¼ teaspoon
Almonds, sliced
¼ cup
Plums, small
1 ½ pounds
Tea, strong black
3 bags
¾ cup
Cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Star anise pod
Vanilla bean, halved
  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. 
  2. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; line bottom and long sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
  3. Butter the parchment, and dust the pan with flour; tapping out any excess.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  5. Whisk the milk and crème fraîche in a small bowl; set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to blend between additions, and occasionally scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  8. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.
  9. Reduce speed to low, and add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture in two additions.
  10. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the sliced almonds.
  11. Bake the cake, rotating halfway through, until golden brown, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes.
  12. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and let the cake cool for 15 minutes.
  13. Using the parchment overhang, gently remove the cake from the pan, transfer to the wire rack, and let cool.
  1. Using a paring knife, score the plums all the way around, starting and ending at the stem end, and cutting just through the skin (keeping the plum intact). 
  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  3. Remove from heat, add the tea, cover, and let steep for 5 minutes; discard the tea.
  4. Add the sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve.
  5. Reduce heat, and add the plums, cardamom, and star anise, scrape in the vanilla seeds and add the pod.
  6. Simmer until the plums are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat, and let cool.
  8. Discard the vanilla pod, cardamom, and star anise.
  9. Halve the plums, remove pits, and return to the poaching liquid.
Serve with the cake, and a dollop of crème fraîche.
Recipe from Bon Appétit, August 2013.

Spaghetti with cherry tomato sauce

Olive oil
2 tablespoons
Onion, small, finely chopped
Garlic, finely chopped
2 cloves
2 sprigs
1 sprig
½ sprig
Star anise pod
Tomatoes, cherry, halved
4 cups
2 teaspoons
12 ounces
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add the onion, and cook, stirring often, until soft but not brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. 
  3. Add the garlic, basil, thyme, and tarragon sprigs, star anise, and clove, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the tomatoes and sherry. 
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release their juices and the sauce forms, about 10 to 15 minutes. 
  6. Discard the thyme, tarragon, and basil sprigs, star anise, and clove. 
  7. Season with salt and pepper. 
  8. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in lightly salted water until al dente; drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. 
  9. Add the pasta and ½ cup of the cooking liquid to the sauce in the skillet. 
  10. Cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until the sauce coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. 
Recipe from Bon Appétit, August 2013.

Tuesday, July 23

Peach julep

Ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1-inch piece
Cardamom pod, cracked
¼ cup
Peaches, ripe, peeled, sliced
8 sprigs +
8 ounces
Lemon juice, fresh
4 ounces
Ginger beer
12 ounces
  1. Bring the ginger cardamom, sugar, and ¼ cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. 
  2. Let cool, and then strain into a jar; cover and chill. 
  3. For each cocktail, muddle ¼ of the peach slices and two mint sprigs in a julep cup or double Old Fashion glass. 
  4. Add 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of lemon juice, and ½ ounce of ginger syrup. 
  5. Fill the glass with crushed ice, and add 2 to 3 ounces of ginger beer. 
  6. Garnish with a mint sprig. 
Recipe from Bon Appétit, August 2013.

Hearts of palm & corn cakes

Olive oil, extra virgin
1 tablespoon +
Corn, kernels removed
4 ears
Onion, minced
¼ cup
Bell pepper, green, minced
¼ cup
Hearts of palm, whole, drained, thinly sliced lengthwise, cut crosswise into ¾-inch lengths
15 ounces
Old Bay seasonings
2 teaspoons
Parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons
¼ cup
Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons
Bread crumbs, panko
¼ cup +
2 tablespoons +

Pepper, freshly ground

  1. In a skillet, heat the oil; add the corn, onion, and bell pepper, and cook over high heat until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. 
  2. Scrape 1 cup of the mixture into a food processor, and pulse into a coarse purée. 
  3. In a bowl, squeeze the hearts of palm to break into shards. 
  4. Add the purée, and the remaining sautéed vegetables to the bowl, along with the Old Bay seasonings, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, and bread crumbs. 
  5. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir until evenly moistened. 
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and fill a pie plate with the panko. 
  7. Scoop scant ¼-cup mounds of the mixture into the panko, and roll to coat. 
  8. Form the mounds into 18 2-inch cakes, and transfer to the baking sheet. 
  9. Wipe the skillet, and then add a scant 1/8-inch of oil. 
  10. Fry half of the cakes over moderate heat, turning once, until crispy, about 2 minutes per side. 
  11. Wipe the skillet, add clean oil, and fry the remaining cakes. 
  12. Serve hot with a green salad. 
Recipe from Food & Wine, August 2013.