the simplest hot sauce known to man

Homemade is best.

After the fist batch I couldn’t but regret not having done this before. If you think those hot sauces at the store have anything on homemade stuff, think again and the beautiful thing is: Hot sauces are extremely basic and easy to make. Just a few ingredients and cooking is really optional. In fact 1 ingredient is all that’s required. Fresh hot chiles,  puree them and that alone is already a killer hot sauce. Add salt and you have a seasoned sauce. Add liquid and control the consistency. Add salt and season it… trust me, 1-3% is more than enough.

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a simple ratatouille tart

I’m one of the worst food blogger out there. I abandon my site constantly. Neglect it for extended periods of time and when I do post I have typos and writing mistakes everywhere. I rarely provide photos of the process. I can’t stay focused on the subject in question and find it extremely hard to provide a recipe since it’s not how I cook. If you’re still here thank you for putting up with all this crap. I could make some promises that I will try to address some of these things but I won’t. I simply don’t have the time to work a full-time job and maintain my blog the way I want to. I’m not gonna give up now either, although it has crossed my mind lately but that would be even more lame so I’m just going to continue with my efforts and hopefully provide some useful content from time to time.  We’ve been through a lot since 2013 and there’s really no point in throwing the towel now. Happy holiday season… end of rant… #1. 

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Christmas Bolognese Pasta

If you know or you know of somebody that holds the true original recipe for bolognese sauce please report back in the comment section if you can. I’m really curious. A simple google search returned over 200,000 result and after checking the first 2 pages of results it was obvious everybody has their own idea of what an authentic bolognese ragu should be. There are obviously the usual suspects in the ingredients list which I tried to keep in mind but seriously, cooking by most common denominator ingredients is plain boring, at least to me. 

The absolutely required ingredients in bolognese ragu.

hmm…. meat? I think that’s mainly it. Which kind? well… in today’s world beef because it’s easier to find although historically veal is probably more proper. Pancetta can also be found in pretty much all the recipes I looked at. Then we have the aromatics like onion, celery and carrots. Carrots being fairly popular and onions being in pretty much all the recipes. Wine? hit or miss really. Milk? yep… another one that is popular but not standard. Garlic for sure. Nutmeg… yep. I think nutmeg is probably the only spice being added to this sauce in modern times. No bay leaves apparently. Pork? yep, it does appear but not consistently. Stock? yep… here and there although I should say.. if I can avoid it I will refrain from using stock unless absolutely necessary in a recipe.  

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Quick and Easy Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce with Saffron Potatoes

Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Another recipe for the budget cooking series. Braised chicken in tomato sauce with saffron potatoes. I think it qualifies. Skip the saffron which can be a bit pricey specially if getting the good stuff. There’s even an ISO standard for it…that’s just crazy,  although this spice is so unique and amazing I shouldn’t be this surprised. Saffron and Pimenton (Sweet paprika) define Spain’s flavour. I have a few chicken recipes on the blog but this one for some reason never made it in until now.  This is something I used to cook when I was in high school and during my college years. It’s that easy and almost impossible to mess up. Sometimes I’d cook it with spaghetti and skip the potatoes (yep, heaven).

Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Some thoughts on what meat to use. 

For this recipe I used chicken thighs for simplification and flavour. I could have used the whole chicken, but cooking chicken breasts require more control and the flavour doesn’t really shine as much as the flavour in darker and fattier thigh/leg meat does, at least in my opinion. Drumsticks also work really well here as do the wings, so try it if you want. Anyways, enough yapping, let’s get to it! 

Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients (4 servings):

4-6 big chicken thighs. Skin on (A MUST, sorry dieters)
10 small creamer potatoes. Skin on
1 yellow onion, finely chopped.
1 Tbsp garlic. Minced
1 red sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 Thyme sprigs
A few basil leaves or parsley ones
Couple of pinches of saffron strands
1 Tbsp Sweet paprika (pimenton)
1 Cup of White wine
1 1/2 Chicken bullion cubes. Or 6 cups of chicken stock reduced to about a cup and a half.
Salt and Pepper to Taste.
Sriracha sauce to taste.

Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce

The chicken and the secret of flavor.  

So… wish I had known this all along during my high school and college years. Browning chicken skin is key (I know, I wasn’t really paying much attention then, but it seems so obvious now right?!). And it doesn’t take much to get it right. Definitely patience and a hot skillet. So start there. Get some olive oil or vegetable oil on a skillet and heat it to medium high. Place the thighs skin side down and allow to brown for as long as needed. Might take a while. Chicken skin is really resilient. Don’t move the meat, not stirring, no nothing, just let them be for a good 10 mins, take a quick peak and continue to brown until golden and crispy. Of course, if you smell anything burning…no need to wait those 10 mins. Just get on the phone and order pizza.

Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Once the skins are golden brown its time for the peppers and onion to go in. You can now turn the chicken thighs over and lower the heat to medium. Sauté for another 5 mins. Add the tomato paste. Add the garlic. Add the wine and the thyme sprigs. Add the paprika. Add the chicken bullion and about a cup of water or the reduced stock. I suggest reducing the stock ahead of time because otherwise it would take forever to reduce 6 cups while braising the chicken, and your chicken thighs will be well.. way way overcooked or you will end up with chicken soup which isn’t a bad proposition.  Braise in the cooking liquid for about 10 mins. Don’t cover the pot. You can always add water if the cooking liquid becomes too thick. Remove the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper if needed. A splash of Sriracha sauce will take this thing to the next level. Braising anything is a relaxing exercise. Let it bubble away and set a timer, drink some wine, browse some web. Before you know it… done.

The potatoes.

Place them in a plastic container, add about 2 tsp of salt, the saffron strands and enough water to cover the potatoes. Cover with a loose lid. Microwave for 20 mins. You don’t have to use a microwave. You can cook them in the same pot with the chicken, or cook them on the stove in a separate pot. I like to use the microwave because my kitchen is tiny and freeing up a burner is always nice. Microwaves are pretty good at heating water. That’s basically what they’re designed to do and that’s exactly what potatoes need. Cook until tender. Don’t discard the water. Add that to the chicken pot, make sure it isn’t more than 1/3 of a cup. Most of it will evaporate in the microwave. If not, microwave or cooked until the liquid is 1/3 of a cup.

Braised Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Note on salt.

It’s always good to check for saltiness during the cooking process and when cooking chicken, check for saltiness ONLY after the chicken meat is cooked, but with that said, keep in mind that there are a few sources of salt in this recipe and hard for me to write down proper amounts without knowing the exact ingredients you’d be using. The saffron water has salt in it. The chicken stock might have salt in it. Chicken bullion definitely has salt in it, at least the one I use. Sriracha sauce has salt in it. So, adjust as you go and you should be perfectly fine. Have fun! Gotta go.

 

Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Chicken : Home Ketchup : Home Fries

 

 

I roast a chicken every other week on average. I’ve tried  many different techniques and many different combinations and it’s hard for me to choose one method over another. Sous vide equipment aside (which yields the juiciest of chickens, sous vide cooking is almost cheating, seriously), the oven can do a pretty good job as well and it’s simply convenient. Chicken goes in, and about an hour later, chicken is ready. I love chicken and there are so many classic cooking skills involved in roasting one that it’s a great way to fine tune cooking intuition and technique.

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For this recipe I opted for the cold oven approach which is nothing more than simply throwing the chicken in the oven right before starting it. I really like it, maybe it’s all in my head, but the chicken seems to be extra juicy and the skin extra crispy. I’ve also cured the chicken overnight with salt, garlic and rosemary (I’m addicted to this combo of flavors if you haven’t noticed). Curing the chicken overnight imparts flavor into the meat not just on the surface. It also dries out the skin which helps tremendously in getting that awesome golden brown crispy finish. The other thing that I’ve tried here is placing the chicken in my cast iron skillet and adding some vegetable oil. This ensures that the chicken side in contact with the skillet cooks well (fries basically). Otherwise it seems to simply stew away and never develop the proper color. We’ll use this skillet, chicken drippings and brown butter to cook the crispy home fries. Read on! 

Ingredients:

1 whole organic happy chicken

The cure mix:

1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp Chopped Rosemary leafs
1 Tbsp Garlic paste

Home ketchup:

1 cup San Marzano tomatoes, blended
2-3 Tbsp of white wine vinegar. Champagne vinegar works really well
1 Tbsp Sugar (sure, brown, why not)

Home Fries:

1 whole russet potato, chopped in wedges

The chicken. Mix the cure ingredients. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the mix. Distribute the mix evenly over the surface of the chicken. Add some to the chicken’s cavity. Place the bowl uncovered in the fridge (of course, make sure it sits at the bottom of your fridge where nothing else is underneath it. Leave to cure overnight. If you cover it, the skin won’t dry out as efficiently. When you’re ready to roast it the next day, you can remove it form the fridge. But only then. Tie the chicken’s legs, we don’t want this chicken to escape. Add some vegetable oil to a cast iron skillet and place the chicken in it, breast side up.

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Place the skillet in the oven in the middle tray. Set the temperature to 375F. I like to baste the chicken a couple of times with butter towards the end of the cooking time to get the skin golden and nicely caramelized. I don’t have a cooking time here It’s about 60 min, to 90 min. The core temperature of the chicken should be around 155F. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for a good 15 mins before serving.

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The home ketchup. Add the tomatoes to a small saucepan on medium hight heat. And cook and reduce until bright deep red. Add the vinegar and the sugar and reduce again until it gets to the consistency of a thick sauce. Stir constantly, don’t let the bottom burn. Remove from the heat. Store in the fridge.

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The home fries. Once the chicken is ready. Remove from the skillet, we need it for the fries now. Place the chicken on the cutting boar. Place the skillet over medium high heat. This skillet  contains vegetable oil, chicken drippings and brown butter (from the butter basting step above on the chicken section). Allow to heat up for about 5 mins. Add the potatoes all in one layer. Fry for about 5 min. The best way is to lift one and check for color. Once you’re happy, turn the potatoes over and cook for about 5 more mins or until you’re happy with the color. Remove from the oil and place on a tray lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. Cover them with another layer of paper towels and get ready to serve them.

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The rest is pretty much self explanatory 🙂 enjoy!!!

Liebster Award : Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole : Eggs in Tomato Sauce and Fresh Guacamole

Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole

I’ve been busy with getting everything ready for selling my apartment. My kitchen in which I spent 4 years making messes and cooking, won’t be there for me . It’s kind of sad. All those memories, decent food, crappy food, smoke detectors gone wild, fires, knife accidents, degreasing floors constantly, cleaning up… all the time…and tons and tons of stories. I don’t want to admit it, but it’s sort of a big deal. Oh well, need to move on, literally. I spent the whole day today taking photos of my apartment, and editing them in photoshop so they can be used in the listing of the property. I’m glad I got to take my own house photos. I saved myself a few bucks too! and now onto Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole and liebster awards!

Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole

A few weeks ago I was nominated for the liebster award, first time ever getting nominated for an award of any kind. Super cool, and not only that, but during that same week I got a second nomination!  So thank you both, this is really sweet! My first nomination came from my fellow blogger friend Phuong who has a wonderful and delicate blog mykitchenoflove.wordpress.com and then, Effie, from the awesome and fearless cooking style featured in fooddaydreaming.wordpress.com. Two excellent blogs worth exploring and following!

Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole

This award not only is cool, but it has its perks. If you don’t know what it is, the liebster award is like a chain letter, if you get nominated and you choose to accept, you can (should) nominate other bloggers. Who gets nominated? Blogs with less than 200 wordpress.com followers. I guess this number has changed overtime, started at 2000 followers and then dropped? In any case, I am humbled and lucky to have 2 wonderful bloggers nominate me almost at the same time. This award helps blogs with little traffic get more exposure and it is a great way to tell people a little bit about yourself.

The Rules:

  1.  Each nominee must link back to the person that nominated them.
  2.  Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3.  Nominate 10 other bloggers you like and who have less than 200 followers.
  4.  Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5.  Let them know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.
  • What is your favourite quote?

“Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.” Detective Sommerset, from the movie Seven. By the way, I have never read an Ernest Hemingway book.

  • Who is your favourite author?

I’d have to go with Arthur Conan Doyle from when I was a kid.  I rarely read fiction now. I compensate by watching many movies to get my fiction fix I guess. I like reading about history, specially WWII history and stories of survival. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is probably my favorite book.

  • What is a song that has a lot of sentimental value for you?

This is a difficult one. So many songs. Most of them extremely embarrassing to list here. There is one song though, and it is from my favorite movie. Tema Finale form the movie Cinema Paradiso.

  • If you had to name one essential beauty product, what would it be?

Being a guy simplifies or complicates answering this, not sure which. I would have to go with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint liquid soap. Magic in a bottle, no, seriously.

  • Do you prefer the country side or the city?

I like the country side better. I can enjoy and do enjoy the city. I actually live in the city, but I’ve experienced the country side and it was great. The city was 5 minutes away though. I’m sure true country side living can be tougher than I think.

  • What is the saddest film you have ever watched?

hmmm… Snakes on a plane? jk… but it was a sad little film you have to agree with me. Ok, true saddest movie.. I keep thinking Happiness, but that wasn’t sad that was more depressing than sad. I’ll go with Schindler’s list.

  • If your house was on fire, what would be the three items you would save?

wallet, EU passport and my chef knife… or maybe my kitchenaid, ok, my immersion circulator.

  • What is your favourite season of the year and why?

Living in California, seasons aren’t that marked but I’d go with fall. As much as I like warm summers, I still enjoy  fall better. And I enjoy cooking during fall more too.

  • If you could do any job in the world, what would you choose?

Between food catering company owner and homicides investigator. not sure which.

  • Everyone has something that comforts them when they are ill, what is it that makes you feel better?

NyQuil.

And the nominees are:

These are blogs of fellow bloggers I follow that I find inspirational, entertaining, and educational. Please take the time stop by, say hello, do some browsing, get some recipe ideas, get inspired!

I want to post fresh questions, so if you choose to accept, these are my 10: 

1. what is your opinion of eggplant as an ingredient, please be honest.
2. when you cook something tasty… do you lick the plate when you’re done? in front of others?
3. grits… thumbs up? I say thumbs down, but you tell me.
4. what’s your favorite cuisine? thai, chinese, italian, french, mexican? and why.
5. what ingredient you haven’t used yet but would love to experiment with?
6. what’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?
7. what’s the best thing you’ve ever cooked?  (yes, it can be the same answer)
8. what’s your favorite cooking blog and why? (of course you can list mine here .. jk)
9. any particular chef/restaurant that inspires you?
10. favorite ingredient and tool in the kitchen?

So, I didn’t want to post about the nomination without also posting about food. Something to go along with it to make it more meaningful, so I took a few photos of my breakfast and thought it would go well with the liebster award post. These aren’t recipes since they are such simple things to make, but I like the photos and wanted to share them with you.

Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole

Huevos con Tomate:

If you’ve never had them, but you love eggs and tomatoes as much as me, do yourself a favor, buy an onion (red if you’r picky), garlic and tomato sauce. Slice the onions in half rings, sweat the onion in olive oil, add the garlic, cook until fragrant and then add the tomato sauce and caramelize until beautiful, you can add some salchichon or chorizo rounds while this cooks, trust me, it’s pretty amazing. Salt, pepper, and that’s it. Tomato sauce in its simplest form but so good. Soft boil some eggs in that sauce, soft yolks and springy whites. You can do this in a pan and then transfer to a plate, or finish the eggs in the oven.

Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole

Guacamole:

Get a couple of ripe avocados, remove the skin and discard the seeds, about 2 or 3 tsp of lime juice, some cilantro, some finely chopped red onion, some roma tomatoes, seeded and dice small, add some salt, some chili hot sauce, mash the whole thing in a bowl with your own hands, let rest in the fridge for half hour and you’re done. Couldn’t be simpler and I’m pretty sure better than at most restaurants.

Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole

I prepared a quick dinner that same day and was able finish the left over guacamole. Rare fillet mignon and guacamole over assorted spring veggies and roma tomatoes dressed with an olive oil and cherry vinegar vinaigrette. Simple and delicious.  Thanks for reading. I will soon have to find a place to live and all I keep thinking is that it better has a window in the kitchen with a nice view and tons of sun light 🙂

Huevos Con Tomate y Guacamole

Spaghetti : Roasted Cherry Tomatoes : Anchovies : Lemony Panko

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes Spaghetti

Ah! finally back craving my spaghetti! I’ve been a bit out of it lately, possibly because it has been extremely hot around here (specially in a poorly ventilated kitchen like mine).Today, the weather here in Los Angeles has been a bit more forgiving, believe it or not, we even had a bit of rain. But don’t get me wrong I love sunny southern California, tomatoes are at peak season,  farmers markets are insane, full of colorful fresh produce, traffic increases to unthinkable levels, kids everywhere… yep, it is summer time.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes Spaghetti

Today I needed my anchovy fix (which actually happens quite often but goes “unblogged” most times). I know it isn’t a popular ingredient for some, but like fish sauce or malt vinegar, this ingredient is all about personality. One strong personality that can be enjoyed in proper smaller doses and will deliver satisfaction even to those who swear by their hatred of it, believe me! Paired with some garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and a rich egg yolks, this seemingly little dish delivers a succulent and elegant flavor dose (overdose really in the best of ways). The anchovy taste is nicely dialed in by the citrusy panko which adds an exceptional textural contrast. I would call it pangrattato but I don’t want to be slapped on the wrist by the true italian cuisine connoisseurs, so let’s keep it light, shall we?. This lemon panko, is browned on a pan with olive oil until golden and ready. Ok, let’s get into it right now!: 

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