5/16/17

Cooky Cat Home Page
When it comes to cooking . . .

This Cat can Cook! Very Cooky!


BOILERPLATE

The Internet is full of cats these days. Here's a Cat among cats. The one who put the puss in his boots. The very one whom the Ad Biggies referred to when they said, "let's put it out on the back stoop and see if the cat licks it up."

Cooky Cat cooks from scratch. (No claw-related pun intended.) You’ll find not so much recipes, as suggestions. The world, after all, doesn’t need another cook book. A certain culinary skill is expected to dig this cat.

Inspiration is what is needed. And Cooky Cat brings it. A sense of humor also wouldn't hurt. He kids... but, always, he loves. In his own words, "Just kitting."

We give you... Cooky Cat!

The Cooky Cat is into cooking. He can be a playful kitty, sometimes prone to exaggerating the facts (he can be a down right fibber), but always true blue when it comes to steering you in the right direction kitchen-wise. Take what he may say otherwise with a grain of salt. Just shoe him off your lap(top) when he gets too frisky for you.  

Cooky Cat can cook anything (he is not vouching for its edibility, however). Don't expect recipes and treatments on the more conventional dishes. [E.G., regarding omelets... Wisk a few fresh eggs, shake and stir in a pan with some butter, fold onto plate. Done. Next.]

Cooky Cat is also very straight ahead in the kitchen. No stunt foods. So don't expect any of those trendy piled high ego displays or cakes made to look like... whatever. Take this pledge: "I will never again watch a cake show on television." About foam... you can't even get him anywhere near the foam of a bubble bath. And, as few gadgets as possible. It took him years to get around to a Cuisinart processor; prior, it was the trusty Benriner mandoline.

He also vigorously eschews the trend to overly combine wildly disparate ingredients or overly sauce and/or multi-spice recipes. Things do have their own taste and Cooky Cat stands for letting the ingredients speak for themselves.

His motto: Create meals from what looks good at the market, always looking first for what is seasonal, fresh, and local. Shopping to a recipe is a way to go, but many times slavishly sticking to that approach can be frustrating if you can't find the ingredients; it forces compromises if what's only available is of lesser quality, and it is certainly the most expensive approach. Quality costs, and pays off in the long run; but when it's on sale, go for it. By and large, you get what you pay for.

There have been comments from certain quarters that the recipes are not detailed enough. The point Cooky Cat is making has to do with conveying the secret ingredient to all good cooking. If you want the specifics, just do a search and zillions of options magically appear. To repeat, the world does not need another cook book!

Now go ahead, scratch around and see what Cooky Cat has for YOU!

A faithful follower of Cooky Cat  shows her appreciation. . .

 




5/15/17

Cooky Cat's Last and Definitive Word on Spicing

Like Julia Childs has pronounced vis-a-vis Nutmeg, Cooky Cat universalizes the topic to say that you don't want to introduce any spice or flavoring into a dish so much so that on first taste you'd say "Nutmeg!". Or, "Cumin!". Or, "Cinnamon!". Or, what have you.

If you're following a particular recipe, follow it closely the first time. Afterwords you can adjust as you like. This point, particularly in the arena of heat. Just to observe that with the essential flavors of the ingredients themselves, added flavorings, and spices ... there's an alchemy in the combination. Long tested recipes have got the magic of the proportions down. Follow them.

And, for the love of God ... take a tip from the Itralians: The thing itself has its own flavor. You don't have to go all over-spicing everything. String Beans sautéed in Butter with some Garlic ... it don't get no better.

This Cat has some preferences; Cumin ... he likes. But, just because you like it, doesn't mean to overdo it. Capish?

<

5/2/17

The Zen of Tacos

Jerk Pork Tacos / Photo David D. Wronski

We have right here the definitively proper take on Tacos ...

" ... making tacos doesn't seem like a particularly daunting culinary challenge. Make some tasty stuff and ladle it on a taco. That's about all there is to it."


— Michael Weinstein


Who would disagree. But, it is in that "tasty stuff" quotient ... wherein lies the proof. And, the love.




Birria and Chivo Tacos at Los Cuñados Passaic, New Jersey
Photos: David D. Wronski



4/17/17

Hard Cooked Eggs

How to make less ... "hard"

 Eggs Garnished with grated Horseradish/Beets
Photo David D. Wronski 


1. Raw Egg(s) at room temperature.

2. Place in boiling water, shut off heat, let stand for 15 minutes.

3. Remove Egg(s), place is cold water to cool.

3/24/17

Pizza in the Detroit Style

Photo: David D. Wronski

If you're from Detroit, Michigan or you know the town well, then you know about the kind of Pizza folks there prefer. The epicenter of what defines Detroit style Pizza is Buddy's Rendezvous.

WORLD FAMOUS.



It's made in a rectangular steel pan. In the first photo we used what we had. A round pan. [Whatever.] In the shot below, behold the inimitable original from when we last dined at Buddy's Rendezvous.


Photo: David D. Wronski

When I was a lad, Buddy's was the place. The friendly, warm and definitely hip waitresses there treated you right. After asking if I was of age (I lied), with a wink I was served my first alcoholic beverage — a Boomba of Beer — at Buddy's.

But this isn't about that place. It's about how you — yes, you! — can make a pie at home that will take you back to Motown in a jiffy.

Here's the secret. Whether square or round, use a high side metal pan. Butter the bottom and sides liberally. Form your risen dough to the sides of the pan. Let it rise again. And, again, if you want. Pressing it down if you're going to rise it twice.

Use a mild white Cheese. Some portion of Mozzarella if you want. In the Motor City they use what's called Wisconsin brick Cheese. Good luck finding that outside the Midwest. Mild white Cheddar or Monterey Jack, or something close will do it. No need to order some online. Unless of course you have the moola and the help is not too busy.

Buddies puts the Pepperoni down right onto the dough first. If you're asking why Pepperoni, maybe you should just stop reading. Alright, don't stop. If'n you no likka the Spicy Stick, then you are beyond salvation. But, that's OK with us. It's your bouche that you have to amuse.


Then add the cheese. This is key. Spread the shredded cheese liberally all the way to the edge of the pan. It's that cheesy crusty burntish edge that gives the Detroit Pizza it's claim to fame. It is addictive.


 

Sauce-wise ... cover or dot the top with chunky Tomato sauce. However much or little you prefer.

PS Last time at Buddy's the waitress confided that you can have the sauce added first, or last. Seems there are variations on the theme.

Bake as per your recipe. And ... enjoy.

Here's the Buddy's Boomba in all its glory. (With a shot of Tomato juice.)


Photo: David D. Wronski


2/21/17

Enchiladas en Casserole


Our buddy David D. Wronski posts photos of his awesome culinary creations on his Facebook page. And ... friends often request the recipes. We interviewed him on the subject of the above pictured Enchiladas, and here is the short and sweet.

An Enchilada is a Tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with Chile sauce. It's really the simplest thing.

A basic question you have to ask yourself at this juncture if you're going to make them at home is this: how much work do you want to invest?

The simple approach is to get all your ingredients off the shelf from your local market. Open some cans, assemble, heat through in the oven. Serve.

Cooky Cat cooks from scratch. So, it's none of the above. While Enchiladas are essentially the simplest of things, there are some considerations and steps to take. You decide how deeply you want to "scratch".

Tortillas

Tortillas, for example. Store bought are fine. Then, of course, there's the question of whether to select Corn or Wheat Tortillas. We prefer corn for that distinctive flavor. But, wait! Maybe you want to make your own. You can get Masa Harina (Corn Flour) and make a simple dough. Press out some Tortillas then bake on a heated flat pan. Or, if you want to go native, buy some dried Maize Mote (Hominy) and take these steps.

You can get a Tortilla press if you want. Not recommended, unless you're going for Tortillas in a big way; or, you're a moneybags and need to have a gadget for every step in the kitchen. A flat bottom of a stainless steel bowl and some elbow grease will get you a proper round Tortilla. As for grinding the corn, a food processor will do nicely. Traditionally a Comal is used to bake the Tortillas. It's just a flat pan with a handle. Wronski uses his Indian Tawa. Hear this!  A cast iron skillet will do the trick.

We suggest adding some good Lard into your Nixtamal-based dough. By "good Lard" we're talking about rendered Lard from a local butcher or a store selling cured Pork products. A well stocked Mexican grocery should also sell good Lard.

In the Southwest USofA freshly prepared dough can also be found in the refrigerator section at some stores. Or, go to your neighborhood Tortilleria and buy some fresh dough.

Had enough about Tortillas?

Hint on those store boughten Corn Tortillas. If you have a choice, give them a good old "Charmin" squeeze. Soft and fluffy is the word. Same with Flour Tortillas.

Chile Sauce

Here, again, some considerations. First ... Red? Or, Green? Or, both. That latter is quaintly called "Christmas" in the Southwest.

Muy Importante: DO NOT USE PACKAGED CHILI POWDER. That's what you use [rather, can use] to make a bowl of Red. Again, even for Chili Con Carne, make it from dried Chiles.

For Red: Get a selection of dried Chiles. Chile New Mexico, Chile Guajillo, Chile Passilla, Chile Ancho (dried Poblano) are a good basic range. Not too hot. Maybe canned Chipotle con Adobo, dried Jalapenos in sauce, for some kick. There are other Chile Peppers you may want to add for flavor and heat. Experiment. As you can tell, it's a subject in itself. Here's a link for a list of the varieties and their heat.

You make a basic sauce by first deseeding and toasting the red Chiles in a pan [What! You don't have a Comal?] over medium heat. Soak until soft off heat in water brought to a boil. Blend to make a sauce. Strain to remove papery skins.

Finish your sauce however you want. Chicken or Beef Broth. The sauce leftover from a braise. Go ahead, if you have vegetables in with the braised meat, puree the veggies into your sauce. Some sautéed finely chopped Onions and Garlic, Cumin, and Oregano. Salt, Pepper. There's your sauce.

For Green: Green Chile Sauce is from fresh green Chiles. If you can get your hands on some Hatch Green Chiles ... do it. Roasted right there on the side of the road in Hatch, NM. You can hunt for some canned. You will not be disappointed. Great flavor. Chile Pablano is a good alternative. Be careful. Sometimes you get a hot one in there. Roast over an open flame, or on a fire grill. Peel blistered skin. Remove seeds, chop and add to sauce. Anaheim's are also a possible variety. Same as above: blister skin over heat, peel, chop. Seeds can stay.

Green Chile sauce is best kept ... green. A clear sauce with water or Chicken broth. Onions and Garlic. Cumin and Oregano. Salt and Pepper. That'll do ya.

The Filling

Meats: The filling in Mr. Wronski's superb creation pictured above is centered on braised short ribs of Beef. The key understanding for whatever you put inside that rolled Tortilla is to be sure it's ... "tender". Chicken, Beef, Lamb/Goat, Pork. You choose. Braise, buddy, braise! Roasted meats will do nicely. Just ... "tender". OK?

Seafoods? Maybe. But, let's not go there now.

Wronski likes to make Refried Beans at home. Very simple. Sauté fine chopped Onion and Garlic, add a can of Frijole Pintos (or whatever bean you may have a desire for to use), bring to heat, let liquid evaporate, then mash. Salt and pepper. Bring some heat if you want. Voilà! Refried beans. He likes to use good Lard in this dish too.

Queso: Here you have some more choices. Inside with the meat(s) and refried Beans goes some cheese(s). Wronski likes the Velveeta. Don't quibble. Any melty cheese will do. Also maybe some crumbly plain white cheese. The Mexican store has more than a few choices. Wronski used Feta! (He's so fusion.) Or, why not try some drained small curd Cottage Cheese? Do you get it? Do your thing, baby. 


Also, some melty cheese for on top of your assembled Enchiladas en Casserole. You like the Parmesan? Do it!


Assembly


Put some sauce in the bottom of the baking pan. Fill, then roll them up. Arrange them nicely, flaps down. More sauce on top. Cheese. 


Baking


Really, just to heat through. Bake for 15 minutes at 325 F.


Serving


Put 2 or 3 on a plate and dig in. Crema or Sour Cream. Sprinkling of fine chopped white Onion/Scallion. Cilantro leaves chopped. Maybe some roasted or pickled Jalapenos. And ... whatever the heck you may also like to accompany.


Like ...


Salsa Ensalada


Coarsely chop sweet Onion/Scallions, Tomato, Cucumber, Jalapeno Chile (with or without the seeds and veins depending on how much heat you want), Cilantro leaves. Pulse in food processor until minced. Salt, pepper. Fresh Lime juice. A little good Olive Oil. 


Wow!












2/3/17

Onion Confit


Before we get to the subject of Onion Confit, I want to get something off my chest. When you sauté onions to the point of they be getting nice and brown, can we agree to call them "browned".

The spirit of the culinary age seems to prefer the term "caramelized". It's true that they get brown through a process known as caramelization on account of the natural sugars; but do we have to make it so highfalutin? Or, like the word, "Melange". Which works best, a "Mess of Greens" or a "Melange of Greens"? Write it the way you want; but, no need to get all snooty-like. Like . . . that Martha person, for example. When the hostess says, "Soupçon" I immediately make haste for the dining room. "Soup's On!" And, you better beleive we'll be expecting a nice size bowl, no soupçon, if you please.

But, you say, what about Onion Confit? Look it up.

1/15/17

Challah French Toast

"Almond Touch"


Hankering after a good Almond Croissant. Instead, using homemade Challah, made French Toast and topped with toasted-sugared sliced Almonds.

Brilliant!

French Toast Tip: Marinate the bread slices in the egg-milk-sugar dip to make moist through and through. Also, lots of Cinnamon.

1/14/17


 Los Cuñados

Mexican Grocery and Restaurant

195 Monroe Street, Passiac, New Jersey


The restaurant is open Saturdays and Sundays. Featuring Birria (Goat Soup), Carnitas (Pork), Chivo (Goat), and Lingua (Beef Tongue) Tacos. 

Also, warm hearts and smiles.


A peek inside the kitchen where fresh Tortillas are made to order.


Made and served with love.


Birria Consome and Chivo Tacos. Packets of red and green Salsa.


Our Lady of Guadalupe watches over everything ...