Thursday, February 21, 2013


Valentines day brings chocolate to stores everywhere (thank god that's over). Subjected to terrible heart shaped chocolates (the kind that hurt your teeth) and a forewarning of terrible Easter bunnies to come, it is an overindulgence of sweets that most of us don't really need.

But chocolate is so good, we cannot simply ignore it!

In fact, chocolate should be, and is, celebrated. (In NYC Feb. 4th through the 13th is Chocolate Week, sorry you missed it)

Now I don't mean Milky Ways and Hershey Kisses, but rather the more savory side of chocolate.

Savory chocolate like a Mexican style mole of slow simmered chocolate and cinnamon and about a million other ingredients.
Savory dishes like the chili recipe with a healthy dose of bittersweet swirled in for richness and depth. The double chocolate porter or oatmeal stout you use for your signature beef stew recipe that creates a silky background and a malty sweetness.

I'm talking chocolate with chilies and salt. I'm talking chocolate! (This is also an excuse to use up all the chocolate laying around the house you're trying to avoid.)

The bitterness of unsweetened chocolate pairs very well with deep-flavored, complex dishes. Stew, chili, and braises, all gain a familiar, but hard to place, unctuous quality when chocolate is added.

Once you start using chocolate in recipes, you'll start using it more and more.

Mole style chocolate is up first. In order to learn all you need about Mole, I suggest the wiki on it.

I suggest using Mexican style chocolate for all your mole dishes. Taza, a brand from Mass., has quite a few different flavors that would be conducive to cooking, including a salt and pepper flavor, as well as almond, serrano, orange, the list goes on. They have so many flavors. 

Most Mole adaptations are based on the poblano style. A rich sauce of chilies and chocolate, finished with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. The number of ingredients and amount of each, varies depending on who is making it, but the basic principle is vegetables (tomato, onion), dried chilies, chocolate, spices and nuts. Everything together is very flavorful. You don't need a lot of each ingredient to make a lot of sauce.

Some Mole recipes here, and here are a great start to making actual mole and enjoying a flavorful sauce that's great anytime of the year. This next recipe is especially nice on a cold day (oven) or in the summer heat (smoker/outside).  I wish I had taken these pictures...

Intense Mole Ribs - You can make these in your oven instead of a smoker, so it's a good excuse to get your house warm with the wonderful aroma of meat! It is a relatively easy recipe but requires a little bit of work. It's totally worth it.

So we get the point that chocolate is awesome, right? Okay, here is a list of recipes worth trying.

Lamb rub with chocolate and cloves - I love the way this recipe combines cloves with chocolate. I find cloves to be a very in-your-face flavor that is generally forgotten except in baked ham or mulled cider.

Chocolate Stout Chili - Great excuse to go buy some awesome chocolate stouts (a great beer!). This recipe has the added bonus of using both bittersweet chocolate and a chocolate stout. I like Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, and also Rogue Chocolate Stout (22oz. bottle means you get some too).

Steak with Chocolate Stout pan sauce? - Why yes, yes I would like a steak.

Give these a try, and you might just start using more chocolate around the house.

What are some of your favorite recipes for chocolate?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Poetry Corner

This poem, titled Mmmmm, was written for the satisfaction of it.


Meat Man Mentions Me,
Making Movements;
Material Mastication.
Morbid Motions.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Oven Lovin'

It's oven season.

Cold days and warm ovens go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows; and any excuse to use your oven is usually a good one.

Stews and baked goods are at a peak right now, and with a big snowfall coming to the east coast, it's going to get pretty cozy. (It's probably pretty cozy right now!) Refueling is a must after a solid romp in the snow and you could use some projects to stay busy. Especially projects that produce awesome food.

The aromas wafting towards your nose are reason enough to utilize the powerful workhorse that is an oven. Some of the best smells come from a full oven: cookies baking, chicken roasting, banana bread - the list goes on.

Anyway, lots of snacking is in order. You're already using your oven for a hearty chicken tagine or ratatouille, you may as well keep going while it's hot!

Yes, this post is about snacking; and ovens. Great, right?

Cans of chickpeas hiding in your pantry behind half a bag of pancake mix have more potential than just hummus. I suggest this zippy appetizer.

Zesty Spiced Oven-Roasted Chickpeas
2 cans chickpeas (about 15 ounces each, but feel free to make from scratch)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (less if you're heat sensitive, wimp)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
zest from one lemon (organic)

Heat the oven 400°F.
Pour the chickpeas into a colander, drain and rinse very well under running water.
Pat dry. Don't put them in the oven until they are dry - trust me.
Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spread out on a large cookie sheet (you may need to do two batches; perfect excuse to make two flavors)
Roast for 30-40 minutes or until brown and crispy. If you place them on the middle rack in the middle of your oven, they shouldn't burn, but you'll want to check them every 15 minutes or so. (Give them a good shake)
Take out and toss with salt, zest and spices to taste while they are still hot! (It's easy to add more spices, but it's hard to take them out)

Excellent crunchy spicy snacks to get your palate ready and your mouth watering for the main event, which should be:
Moroccan Chicken Tajine.

I suggest using a little bit of red pepper flakes with this recipe, although your tongue may still be tingling from the chickpeas!

And that, my friends, is how you get the most of your oven. Now check out the next recipe, which I imagine will become a new addiction.

Two words: Garlic Confit

Pretty much just poaching garlic in oil, and basically making garlic butter. AKA the food of the gods.
I love that this recipe calls for 65 cloves of garlic. Incredible.
This is when you shamelessly buy peeled garlic by the half-gallon.

Saveur suggests using the cloves in mashed potatoes, which I am inclined to think is a fantastic idea. Because you're going to need a side dish for the roast chicken you just made.

Don't even roast a whole chicken, just get a big pack of thighs or leg quarters and make some garlic mashed potatoes with it. Spread the garlic on toast. Mash the garlic with a fork and then just straight eat it. You know you want to.

And while we're at it, you should make some kale chips. Yeah I said kale chips.

Look, I'm not going to post a recipe for kale chips. They are ridiculously easy to make, and any basic search is going to give you 100+ recipes. But seriously, they're super easy, you don't even have to cut the stems out. You can just rip them up with your hands. And to be honest, they don't last long enough to ponder anything about them except why you didn't buy more kale.

So without a recipe, I can only give you a suggestion. Instead of olive oil, use spicy sesame oil (thanks Sheri!) or try Old Bay or curry powder, which are probably all of the easiest flavors to use except sea salt.

All in all, just don't forget to give your oven some lovin'.