Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sopa de Albóndigas

This wonderful recipe is from my book A Gringo's Guide to Authentic Mexican Cooking.
Sopa de Albóndigas
Meatball Soup

We go out for Mexican food with our friends Ryan and Claire at least once a month. Ryan always orders Albóndigas soup, so I wrote this easy, delicious recipe for him. Give it a try. Who knows, it might just end up being your favorite, too.

1 tablespoon long-grain rice
6 ounces ground beef
6 ounces ground pork
1/4 medium white onion, finely minced
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
½-teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4-teaspoon ground cumin
1/2-teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste

3 Roma tomatoes
1/4 medium white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-tablespoon corn oil
3 carrots, cleaned peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 small zucchini, cleaned, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 cups water
3 cups beef broth
1 chile guerro, stems removed, and a slit cut in the side
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Put the rice in a little bowl or cup and cover with boiling water. Let the rice soak for 20 minutes. Mix all remaining meatball ingredients together well. Drain the rice and then work into the meat mixture. Roll into little meatballs an inch or so across.
Turn the tomatoes upside down and cut a 1-inch X across the bottom of each tomato, just through the skin. Fill a small saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Drop the tomatoes, one at a time, into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove from the boiling water. Allow to cool down a little. Using the edge of a paring knife, remove the core and skin. Cut in half from top to bottom, shake out the seeds, and dice. Set aside.
Purée the onion and garlic in a blender. In a hot soup pot, lightly simmer the mixture from the blender in the corn oil for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened and reduced. Add all other ingredients except meatballs. Bring to a simmer and then carefully add the meatballs. Simmer over very low heat for 1 hour, gently stirring now and then. If froth appears on top of the soup, remove with a slotted spoon and discard. When the vegetables are soft and the meatballs well cooked, serve with wedges of key lime.
Serves 5 to 6

Friday, March 8, 2013

Road Trip a chapter from my novel Willie

Road Trip
By Daigneault
            The hard plastic phone rings on the cluttered, oak desk.  A middle-aged cop picks it up. 
            He clears his throat and then answers with a gruff tone, “Spokane Police Department, Can I help you.”
            “Yeah, this is Detective Carl Whitlow, I’m with Rock Springs P-D.  We’re located in Southern Wyoming.  We got a circular from you on an armed robbery and I’ve got two youth offenders in our lock-up that match your description.”
            “Okay, let me transfer you up to the Lieutenant.”
            A minute later a different man comes on the line, sounding a little annoyed, he say’s, “Robbery, Did you get any names out of those little bastards.”
            Whitlow replies, “I got a Joseph Bisc and a Willard Bershears. They can’t be more than 12 years old”
            “That’s them… hold on to em, we’ll send a car out.  It’ll be a couple of days.
            Whitlow, hangs up the phone.  Shaking his head he looks across his desk at the two boys, sitting quietly, handcuffed to the heavy bench, with a look of deep concern on their faces.  They are both wearing dirty, white tee shirts, worn out jeans and work boots.  A couple of scrawny little shits that look like they should be playing baseball or doing yard work, or… anything…  anything else.  It’s hard to think they’ve robbed a grocery store, and even harder to picture these two using a gun.  Maybe it’s this damn depression.  Times are hard. The whole country has gone bust.
            Chuck, our old foreman, stops with his story for a minute and leans back to light a cigarette.  We are a small group of ironworkers, sitting in a dusty, plywood job shack on a construction site, in south Phoenix.  The air is thick with the smell of grease and stale cigarettes.  It’s over 100 degrees in the shack.  Too hot to eat, everyone is drinking as much Gatorade as they can get down in the 15-munite break.  Dripping with sweat, at least we are out of the brutal Arizona sun. Chuck is dark and wrinkled from years of the heat’s damage.  His hands are badly crippled, from being smashed so many times by the iron, but he can still get over two tons an hour, per man.  In short he’s one tough old rodbuster.
            He takes a deep drag and slowly blows out the smoke. As it billows across the room, he goes on, “That was back in 1935 or 36.  In those days they would send a couple of older beat cops in a car across country to pick up lower level crooks they wanted.” 
            I break in and ask Chuck, “Did you know Willie back then?”
            “He was older. We used to say there were 10 men for every job and there were no jobs.  So everyone was always broke.  But if Willie was around… well, things were different.  I remember one time Willie was at my cousins house.  We wanted to drive out to the lake and go swimming with our girlfriends.  So we were all pooling our money.  It just wasn’t enough to buy gas to get to the lake and back. 
            Willie said, “Everybody go get your swim suits, I’ll meet you back here in about an hour.”
            An hour later Willie shows up.  He’s got a case of beer, a bottle of whiskey, a ham, some bread and a bunch of other shit for a picnic. Then he takes us to the gas station to fill up my cousin’s gas tank.  I think it cost a few bucks. Willie had a twenty and a five.  That was a lot of money back then.  We all went to the lake and had a great time. 
            The next day my old man’s reading the newspaper. There is a story about a local store being robbed.  It seems the thieves got away with a case of beer, a bottle of whiskey, a ham, some bread and twenty-five dollars in cash.”  Chuck staring at the floor like he could still see the scene shakes his head as he lets out a little snicker.  Then he looks me in the eye and says, “Willie… he simply refused to go with out.  He was going to be okay, or he was going to be dead.”
            “So what happened with the cops in Wyoming?” I ask.
            Chuck takes us back into the story; “The way they got back to Spokane was, after the cops picked Joe and Willie up, they would drive all day.  You need to remember there were no freeways in those days, so it was backcountry roads all the way.  At night the cops would put the boys in some little small town jail and then go to a diner and sleep in a motel.  In one of the jails, Willie had a few bucks hidden in his sock, that the cops hadn’t found when they searched him.  He bought a knife.
            The next day Willie and Joe are sitting in the back seat, and the cops are up front.  They’re trying to make good time, maybe doing 60, which is quite fast in one of those old cars. 
            A beautiful spring day, sailing down the road in central Idaho.  A ribbon of highway, gently rolling through a carpet of knee high, bright green, potato plants as far as the eye can see.  The cops are enjoying the trip.  They’re relaxed, foolishly dropping their guard.  To them Willie and Joe are no threat… just two scared little kids.  Remember no cage between the driver and the back seat. Out of the blue, Willie leans forward.  He grabs the driver by the hair and quickly reaches around his neck, pressing the homemade blade to the tough, old cops throat.
            Willie says, in his most menacing 12-year old voice, Okay motherfucker, pull the car over or you’re dead.
            The two old cops are torn between the seriousness of the knife and the irony of this 80-pound child acting like Al Capone.  The driver lets out a little snicker.  The other Cop’s belly starts shaking, and then trying to hold back, he breaks into a low whine, which causes the driver to uncontrollably roar with laughter.
    Without a second’s hesitation, Willie slices the driver’s throat wide open.  A shower of blood sprays all over the driver’s window, the dashboard, and the inside of the windshield.  In the same instant the driver instinctively lets go of the wheel and grabs at his throat.  The car lurches on to the dirt shoulder and then the front wheels suddenly catch the edge of the asphalt.  In seeming slow motion, the car lifts into the air.  After silently rolling over a few times, it explodes when the rear end hits the blacktop.  Mangled metal and glass are flying everywhere as the smashed up squad car goes flipping down the highway.  The car finally skids to a stop upside down, the roof totally crushed in.  Everyone inside is drenched in the driver’s blood with multiple broken bones.  Stuck in the smoking wreck, fading in and out of conceseness, it was hours before some local cops could cut them out. ”
            Chuck stops and thinks for a second.  He goes on ”The driver died.  They charged them both with the murder.  Because they were minors they were released on their 21st birthday. ”
            Chuck with an odd little smile says, “After that… those boys weren’t real popular with the cops around Spokane.            

Is Sourdough Bread Better?

Is Sourdough Bread Better?
This is from the web site "Suite 101"
Now that we understand the fermentation and magic behind sourdough bread, we can start to understand the chemical reactions that occur in the dough which make it, yes, better.
Though it is a matter of taste, many agree that sourdough bread tastes better. The rustic, sour flavor melts in the mouth, leaving a very pleasant aftertaste. Sourdough breads can be made in a million varieties: white, sweet, whole wheat and added nuts, berries, cinnamon, sugar. And we all love sourdough pancakes!
The real magic of sourdough bread is what happens once it hits the tummy. Sourdough bread digests very differently than yeast-made breads. The fermented yeast in the sourdough starter worked for a full day on the dough before it was baked, unlike instant yeast breads which are ready in a few hours. During this time acidity grows in the bread contributed by the lactic acid culture of the starter. This results in a better absorption of phosphorus, calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron in the grain.
On top of the better mineral and vitamin absorption, sourdough bread is lower on the glycemic scale, which means it does not spike blood sugar like regular bread. This is great news because most of the harmful effects of a high carb diet come from the release of insulin and the resulting blood sugar spikes. The fermentation can also lead to a more robust intestinal flora which leads to better digestion all around.
Sourdough bread digests slower, sticks with us longer, contributes to our health in numerous ways, and tastes better. I think that pretty much decides the case. Yes, sourdough bread is better.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rocky Point Shrimp Cocktail

Rocky Point Shrimp Cocktail

My friend Ernie Bunch, the Vice Mayor of Cave Creek, has been coming to my open mic, about two or three times a month, for the past 12 years. He wanted my Rocky Point Shrimp Cocktail recipe, but said he will cure the shrimp in Key lime juice rather than steaming or boiling it!”
I told him that was a great idea. So, find below the recipe. This is a recipe that my wife, Chef Kathy, developed, after we went to Rocky Point Mexico about 20 years ago. It’s delicious and is just the right thing for those days, poolside when it’s too hot to eat.
Rocky point Shrimp Cocktail /Gazpacho
Just add Cocktail shrimp to below recipe to taste and top with 4 or 5, 6-8 (per pound) cooked shrimp tail on!
4 C Tomato juice
2 C Tomatoes, diced
1 Cucumber, peeled and diced
1 CLOVE Minced garlic
1 Avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 Green bell pepper cut into ¼" pieces
1/2 Large White Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Jalapeno pepper without seeds, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
2 TBL Light olive oil
1/4 C Fresh parsley, chopped
2 TBL Red wine vinegar
1 TSP Fresh basil chopped
2 TSP Tabasco sauce
1/2 TBL Dried Mexican oregano
1 TSP Honey
Salt to taste
4 C Tomato juice
2 C Tomatoes, diced
1 Cucumber, peeled and diced
1 CLOVE Minced garlic
1 Avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 Green bell pepper cut into ¼" pieces
1/2 Large White Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Jalapeno pepper without seeds, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
2 TBL Light olive oil
1/4 C Fresh parsley, chopped
2 TBL Red wine vinegar
1 TSP Fresh basil chopped
2 TSP Tabasco sauce
1/2 TBL Dried Mexican oregano
1 TSP Honey
Salt to taste
1. Put everything in a large bowl. Mix together allow flavors to marry in the refrigerator for a few hours. As we say around Cave Creek, go take a nap with someone you love. A few hours later the shrimp is ready and so are you!

Spicy Tomato Grits 'Redneck Eats' at their best!

This recipe is from my book "On the Chile Trail, 100 great recipes from across America."  This from the chapter on Texas.  It's 'redneck eats' at their best.

Spicy Tomato Grits
There is no way I can write a chapter about this part of the world without at least one recipe that includes Velveeta cheese and Ro-Tel tomatoes.  Any among you without a little fast food grease on your hands cast the first stone!  This is a delicious southern side dish that will amaze even the most sophisticated of palates.  
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 cup quick grits
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies

Bring the water and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt and then slowly add the grits while stirring.  Return to a boil for 1 minute, while stirring. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in1/2 cup of butter.  Keep stirring until butter is incorporated. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the grits are thick and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside. In a separate pan sauté the onions and garlic in the remaining butter for 2 minutes.  Stir the Velveeta, half of the cheddar, and the green onions, and garlic into the grits.  Keep stirring until the cheese is fully melted. Stir in the tomatoes. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and bake for 35 minutes in a pre-heated 350°f oven. Sprinkle remaining cheddar over the grits and pop under the broiler for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 12-14

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Old-fashioned Cherry Apricot Bars

Old-fashioned Cherry Apricot Bars

1--1/2 Sticks (3/4 cup) Sweet butter, cut into chunks
1 TBL All-purpose flour, for topping
1/2 C Dried cherries, minced
1/2 C Dried apricots, un-sulfured, minced
2/3 C Fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 TSP Sugar
PINCH Cinnamon

1/2 C Slivered almonds
1/2 C Fresh grated coconut
1-1/4 C All-purpose flour
3/4 C Old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 C Dark brown sugar, packed firm
PINCH Cinnamon
1/2 TSP Kosher salt

1.pre heat oven to 150°f.

2. Meanwhile, bring the apricots, cherries, orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat, cover and simmer, on low, until fruit is soft. Remove from heat. Mash fruit in juice until mixture thickens. Allow to cool.

3. Toast nuts and coconut in oven on a cookie sheet until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Increase temperature to 350°f. In the mixing bowl of a heavy-duty mixer (do not use a food processor for this recipe) combine the almonds, coconut, flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well, then add butter. Mix, on medium, until crumb mixture is formed, about 1 minute.

4. Set aside 1C of crumb mixture for topping. Firmly press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of 8"x8" baking dish. Spoon fruit filling on to crumbs and spread out but do not allow fruit to touch sides of baking dish( leave about 1/8" border.) Mix 1TBL flour with remaining crumb mixture. Sprinkle over fruit filling. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool and cut into squares.

Strawberry Shortcake with Amaretto Caramel Sauce

Strawberry Shortcake with Amaretto Caramel Sauce
Everybody loves strawberry short cake.  This delicious caramel sauce puts it in a class all by its self.
6 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar

1 cup flour
3 Tbl. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sweet butter, cut into pieces
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/4 cup heavy cream

Caramel Sauce:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbl. sweet butter
2 Tbl. Amaretto
1 Tbl. heavy cream

1/2 cup Heavy cream

Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut in half.  Place the strawberries in a glass bowl and stir in the sugar.  Cover with plastic and put in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.  Pre-heat the oven to 400º.  In a medium bowl sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg, stir well. Add butter and work mixture with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until dough resembles a coarse meal.  Mix eggs and cream together and then stir into dough just until dough holds together.  Drop the dough a spoonful at a time onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden on top.  When biscuits are done, place on a wire rack and allow to cool.  Cut biscuits in half, place bottom half in the bottom of a shallow bowl.  Spoon strawberries and their juice over bottom half of the biscuit and the cover with top half.
 Stir the butter, brown sugar, Amaretto, and cream together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat and immediately spoon over shortcake.  Pour a little cream around outside of shortcake.
Makes 6

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bread rising… about to bake!

These babys will go in the oven in about two hours!
And then they'll look like this!

Two-chili Salsa with Avocado

Two-chili Salsa with Avocado
I made this recipe for Bruce Jones, my friend and the original Director and Producer of ABC15's The Sonoran Grill, my Emmy Award winning outdoor cooking series.  I would call Bruce up and say, hey come over for breakfast and I'll make you a ham steak bigger than your head.  He loves Mexican food and so I developed this Two-chili Salsa with Avocado.  Although I made it to go with Mexican Breakfast, it's great with chips and Margaritas or any Southwestern meal!
1/2 BUNCH Cilantro, chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 key lime
2 TSP Kosher salt
1 Habanero chile, diced
1 Serrano chile, diced
2 Tomatoes, diced
1 Avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 White onion, minced
2 CLOVES Garlic, minced
1. Gently mix all ingredients and let flavors blend for 2 hours.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce
If you love grilled meats, especially beef, this amazing sauce from Argentina.  The Argentineans say, “Chimichurri would make nails taste good!”
Use liberally over steaks, Prime Rib, Grill Roasted Tri Tip, Slow smoked pork.

1 cup fresh Italian parsley (Some recipe use cilantro or a combination of both)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon red pepper hot sauce

Place the parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, cumin, salt, garlic and hot pepper sauce into the container of a blender or food processor. Blend for about 10 seconds on medium speed, or until ingredients are evenly blended.
Makes 1 -1/2 cup

Whole Grill-roasted Sea Bass

Whole Grill-roasted Sea Bass

This technique applies to grill-roasting any fish.
1 2-3 LB Sea Bass, scaled
1 TBL Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
1 SLICE Lemon
1 SLICE Orange
1 SLICE Lime
2-3 LEAVES Basil (or whatever herb you prefer)
1 TSP Ancho chile powder
2 Green onions, chopped fine
1 Lemon

1. Rinse the fish under very cold water, then dry with a paper towel.
2. Cut 4 deep slits down each side of the fish.  Rub both sides of the fish well with olive oil.  Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.
3. Place the slices of citrus and basil in the cavity of the fish.  Roast the fish on a very clean, medium-hot grill, turning only once.
4. After turning, sprinkle with chili powder and dress with green onions.  To check for doneness you can look inside the slits.  The rule of thumb for grilling fish 10 minutes of direct grilling for every inch of thickness.  You can indirectly grill after browning but use a different burner or if using a charcoal grill move the grate, as too many movements will cause the fish to fall apart.
5. Remove from grill; squeeze a little lemon over the fish and serve.
6. Serves 2.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Horny Toad Open Mic!

Another great open mic Sunday at the Horny Toad, in Cave Creek.  We want to thank Greg, it's been far too long since we've heard his amazing voice,  Glade's daughter Alissa, nine year sold who sang for her first time in front of an audience and a whole host of other talent and the great crowd for supporting music in Cave Creek and Arizona.  Don't forget that Pandy and Mike will have their Wednesday night open mic as usual which is a real fun way to spend an evening and Hatman Dan will be playing Friday and Saturday night all at Cave Creek's own Horny Toad Restaurant… See you soon!

Three Step Sangria

Okay God willing, the satan inspired cold weather is over (Writers note; notice I capitalized God but let that dirty, red, devil remain in lower case, my spell check is arguing this point but hey that's just me living on the edge)

Three Step Sangria

This cool addition to a backyard party
is easy and delicious.

2 Key  limes, sliced thin
1 Lemon, sliced thin
1 Orange, sliced thin
1/2 C Brandy
1/4 C Mandarin Napoleon (orange liquor)
1/4 C Sugar
1 BOTTLE Full bodied red wine
2 TBL Lemon juice
1-2 QT Soda water
Ice cubes

1. Place the fruit slices in a large glass picture with the brandy, Mandarin Napoleon and sugar and allow to sit for 1 hour.
2. Add the wine and lemon juice and allow the flavors to blend for 1 hour more.
3. Add ice and soda water to fill and serve in glasses of ice
4. Serves 8.