Thursday, March 31, 2005

Food Processor!

(And Asian Coleslaw)

There are some things in life that I have resisted owning, often times for good reason. Even if my bank account was bulging at the seams, I’ve generally resisted certain extravagances in favor of working my way up through the learning curve in an effort to truly understand the fundamental concepts of a given endeavor.

I once bought a $700 water ski, even though I had only owned a boat capable of pulling a skier for about a year. That exercise turned out OK because in water skiing, cost equates with quality and performance and I advanced a lot faster in my slalom skiing efforts as a result of owning my fancy ski.

I’ve done all of my cooking to date using a chef’s knife and a few inexpensive smaller knives for chopping, dicing, paring, julienne, and otherwise mutilating my cooking ingredients. I literally spent hours last spring chopping up cabbage and other vegetables to make large quantities of three types of slaw to take to a single cookout.

I believe that I know how to use a chef's knife and it has been my primary tool in prep work for years. Not anymore, because my mother gave me a food processor last weekend.

I love it.

Unless someone stops me, I’m just libel to grind up everything in Glynn County Georgia in the next few weeks. Last night I made a version of coleslaw that I found in an old issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

Here is what you need:

½ head green cabbage
¼ head red cabbage
1 carrot
¼ large red bell pepper
¼ large yellow bell pepper
3 green onions

For the Dressing:

4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp peanut oil
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp golden brown sugar
1 tbsp minced pealed fresh gingerroot
¾ tbsp minced garlic

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and let stand covered at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Now break out that gleaming new food processor and get going making small pieces out of large pieces. Slice the cabbage and bell peppers down to pieces that will fit in your food processor “chute.”

Run the vegetables through the food processor according to the manufacturers’ instructions. When the container gets full, dump the contents out into a large mixing bowl to make more room. Once everything is chopped up, reach in the mixing bowl with your hands and mix everything up nice and evenly.

Redneck Tip: Wash your hands, fool.

Now drizzle your dressing over the vegetables and toss everything again to coat evenly. Place in the refrigerator to chill. While your slaw is chilling, cook a burger or a hotdog or fry up some chicken, break out your slaw, and EAT!

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Lentil and Pasta Soup

I found myself hungry and in a hurry the other night. As usual, I started poking around my pantry and I came across a package of dried lentils I had bought on sale several months ago.

Being from the south, I have to admit that Lentils are a bit foreign to me. Pinto beans, black eyed peas, butter beans and butter peas, crowder peas—I love every form of legume including the peanut, but I’ve only eaten lentils maybe a half dozen times in my entire life. All I had ever heard of was lentil soup, so I made some. It was easy

¼ to ½ of an onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, diced very fine
1 carrot, pealed and diced fine
1 stalk of celery, diced fine
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 can beef stock
1 can chicken stock
2-3 cups hot water (you be the judge—got company coming over?)
1 cup (about ½ package) dried lentils
½ cup orzo pasta

Heat the olive oil in a four quart boiler over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot and celery and keep stirring. Now add the garlic and cook until the onions are clear.

Toss in the thyme, the bay leaf, the spices, the beef stock and the chicken stock and turn up the heat to medium. Cook everything for another ten minutes or so until it reaches a low simmer. Now add the lentils and 2 cups of water. Stir it all up, bring it back to a simmer and cover with a lid.

Cook for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat so that the mixture doesn’t boil.

When the lentils are tender, add the Orzo pasta and let it all cook for another fifteen minutes. Add a little more water or stock if things get too thick. Taste your soup and add a little kosher salt if you want.

Turn down the heat, ladle out some soup into a bowl, grab some soda crackers, and EAT.

Enjoy Ya’ll

The Redneck Gourmet