Just Right Today, Chicken Tacos

Chicken Tacos

So I wanted to take another stab at tacos last week and the very best thing I had on hand was some chicken thighs, which were fresh and very juicy (if that’s a word I can use with chicken thighs). And when it was all done, I actually really liked these chicken tacos and wanted to share them here in Discovery Cooking

One of the great things about tacos is that almost anything goes in them (provided it has some Mexican flavors and loads of Chilis). Apart from that, almost anything else goes. The recipe below is how I did this little treat.

It also gives me a chance to do something else I’ve wanted to do for a couple of months, which is to explain what’s going on here at Discovery Cooking. Yes, I’ve moved to Cleveland, Ohio (well Sheffield Lake, anyway) and I’m really about a two-three block walk from the actual Lake Erie. And while that’s good, as is the fact I’m living by myself, which is interesting and occasionally something of a pain, it’s sort of changing the way I cook. I don’t generally have three or four people to cook for these days, and I’m still learning that part of the puzzle. So for now, I’ll probably be posting a little less as I reconfigure what I do here, and eventually, I’ll get back to a better posting schedule and I hope some new ideas. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, here are the chicken tacos. They’re very good.

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Foie Gras, Maybe for Brunch or Dinner

foie gras

Foie Gras is one of those things that, if you like it, there is almost nothing on the planet that will come even close to that flavor. And if you’re one of those that for many reasons don’t like it, well it does mean more for those of us who do. And when you have a lovely daughter who sends you two very large foie gras, that’s something to celebrate. 

This foie gras is set up to be either a brunch or dinner, combined with hash browns, a few sugar snap peas, plenty of bacon and a little parsley. It works very well in either capacity. The snap peas and bacon can be done a little ahead of time (I like to make my bacon with a little water. It works really well that way.) The hash browns get finished as close as you can to the foie gras, and it all comes together rather quickly on a plate.

The foie gras is a delicate thing to cook. First, get it warmed as close to room temperature as you can. Add a little salt and pepper. Then, using the highest heat you can get on your stove, sear it for two minutes on one side and just a minute or so on the other. That way, the foie gras stays nice and firm and doesn’t turn into liquid, which obviously is a real no-no. This is one of those lunches or dinners you will crave forever more.

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The Gruyere-Onion Burgers

Burgers with Gruyere Cheese and Onions

Burgers are something I eat fairly often. Truth be told, it’s rare I let a week go by with out some kind of burger making it’s way onto my plate. From Burger King, McDonald’s, Five Guys, or Wendy’s to fancy half-pound monsters at a steak joint, I’ve had plenty. And that doesn’t even cover the many, many burgers I create myself. That said, I haven’t put a great burger up here on the blog. 

There is a reason for that. The truth is that most burgers are just, well, burgers. There are a million things you can do to dress them up. But in the end, they’re just toppings and there isn’t much else to do with them. Well, for once I’ve found a burger that’s worthy to put up here.

This burger starts with french onions and Gruyere cheese built right into the burger mix, which includes the best Angus beef I could find. And then, we have fresh, local, juicy — to die for — tomatoes. There really isn’t much more I could ask for. So give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

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Steamed Chinese Dumplings

Chinese dumplings

Steamed Chinese dumplings are my downfall. There are few things I eat that give me as much pleasure as these wonderful creations that disappear as quickly as I can make them. Doesn’t matter whether I’m hungry or not, doesn’t matter when the dumplings appear, nothing really matters. If I’m there and the dumplings are there, they disappear and I’m happier for it.

I don’t much remember the first time I had dumplings, but I can tell you two of my most memorable dumpling fests. The first was an occasion in China, when a friend invited my wife and I over to their house to make dumplings. Now going to an apartment in China was a big step for us. That stuff didn’t happen very often, and to go for dumplings, that was a special deal — at least for me. What I didn’t know, is that I’d have to help make them, and that, was, at the very least, funny. I eventually learned how to make a passable pleating to hold the dumplings together and the rest — including the recipe for the filling — was very wonderful.

The second, was also in China, and a friend and I had gone to the Great Wall, and an old friend who was our guide, was bringing us back from there and pulled into a restaurant, ordered something in Chinese, and in a short while, out came the most gigantic plate of dumplings I’d ever seen. I thanked the chef, as I recall, and with three of us working on them, they didn’t last very long. As we were leaving, the chef brought another box of dumplings for us to have later. Amazing.

The steamed dumplings are about as close to the original as I could make them. I have to confess I did use frozen dumpling skins, but the truth is, their as good as any I’ve ever had and they are so much more convenient. If you want to make your own, there are plenty of online articles for that.

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Chicken Chorizo Empanadas

chicken chorizo empanadas

How do you make your own empanadas? Well, I had some chorizo and some fresh chicken in the fridge, so the idea of making chicken chorizo empanadas seemed like something that just HAD to happen. And surprising enough, It actually did happen (although the first try wasn’t very good, but that’s an altogether different story). Turns out, none of it was very hard, and you could use a good frozen package of empanada shells to make it even easier, if you care to. 

The story behind empanadas, on the other hand, was a revelation — at least to me. For a lot of reasons (not the least was my own ignorance of South of the Border cooking) I assumed that empanadas were Mexican. I mean, you get them everywhere in Mexican restaurants, right? Nope. These tasty little meat pies are originally from Argentina, it turns out, and while chicken and chorizo may (or may not) have been a part of the original pies, empanadas have become such a mainstay of all cooking below the U.S., I think they probably fit the norm now. 

The trick is that whether they were part of the original idea, they are first, extremely good and second, well, why not?

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If You’ve Never Tried Marrow Bones, Here’s How

Marrow Bones

Marrow bones are something that, if you’ve tried them and don’t like them, I understand. If you love them, they’re pretty easy to make and make an interesting appetizer. This post, however, is mainly for those who haven’t tried marrow bones yet, and haven’t had the intestinal fortitude to actually order them in a restaurant. First, as I said, they’re pretty easy to make and, if you don’t like them, I suppose you can toss them and know o avoid them in the future. If, like me, you really love them, then you’re all set.

The main thing about marrow bones is to get a nice size batch of bones, preferably not something you’ll have to cut. If you like long bones, get the butcher to cut them lengthwise, or if you’re like me, I try to get bones about two inches or so, which can be used as is, without any cutting. The rest is easy. Make a little parsley dressing and some nice sour dough toast and you’re ready to go.

To eat them, dip a knife into the bones, spread the marrow on the toast and add a little dressing on the top, maybe with a little lemon. The taste is beefy and maybe a little gooey, but honestly, it’s not a lot different from hummus or some other filling you put of bread, but a lot more tasteful — to my mind anyway.

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Peach Pie, Getting It Just Right

Peach Pie

Peach pie is one of those things that, done right, is quite likely the best pie you can make. Done badly, it can be pretty awful. How do you make it the right way? Surprisingly, it’s actually pretty easy, but does require a little care in getting everything ready.

So to start out, you need a couple of pie crusts. I use the special Perfect Pie Crust I’ve used for many years. If you have another recipe or even want to use a prepared crust, go for it. You can also make a lattice crust if you like. The secret is how to deal with peaches, which can be way too juicy or, on occasion, too  dry. To handle that, after the peaches are peeled, put them in a pan with brown and white sugars and let them sit for at least an hour. If you then lift out the peaches and take that wonderful peachy juice that’s left behind, add it to some starch (I use tapioca, you can use cornstarch or what ever else works), cinnamon, nutmeg and some salt. Heat it until everything is dissolved and it starts getting nice and thick, and add it back to the peaches. Add a little butter and you’re done.

You can then bake the pie and that’s all there is too it. And with a bit of luck, you’ve got a pie that’s moist and flavorful.

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