Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ranchero Sauce - The Ultimate!

Ranchero Sauce is the ultimate. It makes everything a lot more delicious (though my favorite is on top of quinoa, refried beans and egg). It is fabulous to have in your fridge at all times!


  • De-seed a 1/2 pound of dry chilis (today I used a mixture of Ancho, Pasilla and New Mexico). Simmer for a few minutes in a pot of water and then let soak overnight.
  • In plenty of olive oil, sautee 2.5lbs of onions for 10 minutes, add 7 large cloves of garlic and simmer for another minute. 
  • Drain chilis (retain water) making sure that you don't add back in any seeds (any that you missed in the de-seeding should have sunk to the bottom of the pot). In a food processor or blender, blend the chilis, onion/garlic and a little more oil. 
  • Flavor to taste with salt (3 tsp), cumin (3 tsp), a little cinnamon (1/2 tsp), oregano (1-2 tsp) and then this time I added a few others (a little smoked paprika and a little aleppo pepper)
It tastes better the next day, but it's still pretty awesome day of.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Dinner Party - Hot and Sweet

I've never had so much trouble coming up with a menu before. I knew I wanted a meat main dish that had a spicy sauce, but nothing seemed right. I finally made something up myself, and it was pretty good.


  • Finger foods: 3 cheeses (Robiola, Tomme Crayuse, Manchego) plus bacon-wrapped dates with blue cheese
  • Rustic Onion Tart with a side of greens
  • Braised pork loin with Nectarine-Roasted Poblano sauce and sweet potato fries and brussel sprouts 
  • Chocolate mousse with raspberries and whipped cream

Bacon-wrapped dates
These are super-easy. Slice the dates halfway, pull out the pit, stick a piece of blue-cheese into the hole, wrap it with bacon, and stick a toothpick in. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Rustic Onion Tart
I had made this once before, it was as easy and delicious as I remembered. Though it did take close to 2 hours to carmelize the 3 large red onions (that were the perfect amount of onion for the tart). Also 1/2 pound of Gruyere gives you a little more than the needed cheese.

Pork Loin
I tried brining for 3 hours (I would have done it longer, but I only bought the pork 3 hours before I started cooking it - limitations. I would do it again, it was easy and the pork was super-juicy.) 1/4 cup kosher (!) salt per quart of cold water (it dissolves super-easily and you don't have to wait for the water to cool).

After brining I coated the pork in salt and pepper. Then made a few slits in the top into which I put garlic and a little jalepeno (had it extra). I put it on a bed of sliced onions and added about a cup of red wine to the pan. I cooked it for about an hour at 425 for 15 minutes and then 325 until it was done.

For the sauce I started with bacon grease (from one piece of bacon), added a scoop of chopped ginger (1 tsp?), cooked that with minced onion (a quarter of a small-ish one?), a bit of minced jalenpeno (1 tsp?) and a couple of garlic cloves. Then I added 2 nectarines (big ones) peeled and minced and cooked till it was mushy. Then I added salt and pepper. And then 3 roasted red poblanos (fresh from the farmer's market, like the jalepeno) as well as a touch more jalepeno. I cooked for a while. Then added some port (tawny, because that's what I had). I had planned for it to be sauce-like, but it kept drying out. So I left it and then added the wine/drippings from the pork pan. It was really delicious!!

Brussel Sprouts
I was planning to do the Momofuku recipe, but was (horrors!) out of fish sauce. And I cannot buy just any brand (since Thai Kitchen is the only one that really shows up in regular groceries and it is HORRID and I didn't have time to hit Chinatown to buy Golden Boy), I had to do something else. We decided on boiling them for 5 minutes (which we did before the guests arrived), then sauteeing for 2 minutes (just before we served the main course) with some red-pepper flakes and other stuff. They were yummy.

Chocolate Mousse
I still haven't found anything better than Anthony Bourdain for this.