Before getting into the major makeup of this work (viz., the recipes), it is perhaps worthwhile mentioning a few items of orientation concerning format, features,
preparation, and content.
Having gotten this far, you have probably already discovered the role of the four green navigation buttons at the top right of each page. These allow you to sequence through these pages in the order found in the Table of Contents. The leftmost button brings you to the beginning page, and the rightmost, to the end page. The “Home | Table of Contents | Author” text at the top of each page lets you navigate, respectively, to the opening page, the table of contents, or to a blurb outlining my past. If the View Menu of your browser has the Navigation Toolbar selected, then a back-arrow, and perhaps a forward-arrow, will appear the top-left of the screen; these provide navigation backwards and perhaps forwards through pages previously viewed.
Footnotes* are denoted by elevated asterisks like the one after the beginning word of this sentence. Hovering the mouse over them displays the intended information.
For readability and scrolling convenience, the size of images on your screen may be adjusted by changing the browser’s zoom factor, which appears in the View Menu on your browser menu bar, or by using the keyboard sequences ""CTRL +" (larger) and "CTRL -" (smaller). Just remember: making the text smaller reduces the number of pixels of items on the screen, and, as a consequence, some detail (such as page borders) may disappear.
Any piece of work, whether it be gardening or plumbing—or cooking—is made easier by possession of the proper tools, techniques, ingredients, and style. Without them some tasks are a chore, and perhaps, impossible. With them, they are made easier and, for food preparation, tastier, less time consuming, less frustrating, and maybe more fun. This chapter records a few notes on personal philosophy, technique, preferred ingredients, and culinary styles.
printing a recipe
It is an unfortunate trait of internet browsers, such as FireFox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Chrome, and Safari, that printing of the recipes appearing here cannot be adequately achieved via the usual Print function on the File Menu of the browser. If you try, all you will get is an image of the opening page of the displayed segment. To remedy this shortcoming, a special print function and procedure has been devised, as described below.
After navigating to a particular page that you wish to print out, use the mouse to select the green button at the top of the screen bearing the image of a printer.
This will link to a special high-quality typeset version of the selected recipe or text segment in Portable Document Format (pdf) that will be rendered by your browser’s default pdf reader, normally Adobe Acrobat®.
If your browser does not currently have such a default installed, it will be necessary to download one, such this one. The action may then be completed using that application’s printer interface. The recipe may also be retained, if you wish, for future access by selecting the save button.
Selecting the browser’s back-arrow returns to the WWW recipe pages.
For health reasons, I try to make my preparations low in sodium, cholesterol, and calories. Consequently, the following guidelines apply. They are only guidelines, and should be applied unless there is a good reason not to. A good reason is one that you can actually articulate conscientious verbal justification* of the contravention.
The reader may note many departures from these guidelines in the recipes that follow. Some violations occur within earlier recipes crafted when we were younger and less health conscientious. Others appear because the dish would suffer if strict adherence to the rules were enforced. The guidelines are:
• No MSG.
• Use <salt> for salt. See Preferred ingredients, below.
• Use <butter> for butter. See Preferred ingredients, below.
• Use <sugar> for sugar. See Preferred ingredients, below.
• Eliminate oil and fat as an ingredient. Use cooking oil sparingly and only to keep things from sticking.
the art of substitution
Because many recipes here are based on classics, substitutions of ingredients are rife. There are at least three good reasons to make substitutions in recipes:
• Dietary: if you have dietary restrictions or goals. But let’s face it: you can’t make cardboard taste like bread, and you can’t make cauliflower taste like potatoes. One frequent stand-in that I do use is egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters®, which I refer to in recipes simply as “X”, for eggs. In certain dishes, I think its taste and texture are almost equal.
• Innovation: if you have an improvement you want to try. It’s especially rewarding when this turns out right.
• Desperation: you don’t have the ingredients called for. It pays to have a well stocked larder and freezer. Desperation is not so dire if you have a range of alternatives.
The last of these may be the standard if you live in Boondocks, NM, where availability sometimes may be severely limited to what local stores can sell in quantity. But if you can plan ahead, you may be able to obtain a needed ingredient from a supermarket not too far away or an internet source.
It’s OK to use canned or partly-prepared ingredients if they provide the taste and texture you like. But don’t do it to cut corners on pleasure. A few pennies or minutes saved by use of an inferior product may well compromise the quality of the result.
One cardinal rule about substitutions: If you are missing an ingredient, substitute bacon*. It is nature’s most perfect food.
how to cook bacon
Put down a layer of bacon slices on a paper towel, cover with another paper towel, and sandwich this inside a section of the daily newspaper. Take another paper towel,place on the floor of the microwave oven, and place the newspaper bacon sandwich on top. Microwave on high for about 45-60 seconds per slice. Let the cooked bacon sit for a minute or so to let the newspaper absorb the bacon fat. Remove the bacon strips and use as they are, or crumble into real bacon bits.
Unless otherwise specified in a recipe, certain recipe items will be expected to be either fat-free, low-fat, or low-carb. These items include the following, which are in everyday use in the Tausworthe household:
• Bacon bits: Fairbury Foods Real Bacon Bits.
• Bouillon base: Better Than Bouillon® concentrated paste food bases are made primarily from meat, seafood, or vegetables. This gives them a richer and more natural flavor than ordinary bouillon cubes or granules.
• Ham and turkey products: Jenny-O® turkey ham, Italian sausage, smoked sausage, Polish sausage, ground turkey.
• Ice cream: Breyers® CarbSmart™, e.g.
• Oleomargarines: Use lite margarines and polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils, denoted <butter> in recipes.
Lite: SmartBalance®, Brummell and Brown®, Blue Bonnet® light.
Spray: SmartBalance®, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter®.
• Pasta: Shirataki noodles (various sources) have no calories or carbohydrates, but are sometimes difficult to find. Otherwise, you can use zoodles†.
• Pepper: Unless otherwise specified this term refers to freshly ground black pepper.
• Salt: Depending on your dietary demands, use a salt substitute, such as No Salt® or Sour Salt, or a reduced-salt product, such as Morton’s Lite Salt®, or make your own using half sea salt and half salt substitute (i.e., calcium chloride). It is denoted <salt> in recipes.
• Sugar: Use sucralose, stevia, aspartame, or other artificial sweetener. It is denoted <sugar> in recipes.
• Spices: Although not dietetic, herbs and spices are what make some recipes click. If you don’t have some of them in your supermarket, you can always find them at Pendery’s World of Chiles and Spices, available over the internet, at www.penderys.com.
• Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP): Bob’s Red Mill®, found in health-oriented stores and supermarkets. Also sold as Textured Soy Protein (TSP).
• Tortillas: Mission® Carb Smart®.
• Vital Wheat Gluten: Bob’s Red Mill®, also known as seitan (pronounced SAY-tan).
• Yeast extract: The products Marmite® and Vegemite@ taste the same to me, and may be used interchangeably, whichever your store stocks. Look in the international foods section of your supermarket.
southwestern, new mexico, and santa fe styles
While perhaps not a part of the early American fare, the culinary preferences of our neighbor to the south have of late become well integrated into our daily diet. There are Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Southwestern styles, all of which have similarities, but differ significantly according to the Culinary Gestapo.
Often in this work I apply the “New Mexico Style” of cookery. Perhaps the single, most dominant characteristic of the New Mexico style is the use of New Mexican chile, in green and red varieties, fresh and dried. Many restaurants make dishes that may contain either, at client option. The typical question from a wait staff associate upon ordering is “Red or Green?”, meaning, of course, which color of chile you prefer. If you want both, the reply is “Christmas,” which combines both.
The early New Mexican ethnic influences were Native Americans, the Spanish conquistadores, and settlers from the eastern United States and Europe. While I was growing up in New Mexico, it was considered an insult to call a native of Hispanic heritage a Mexican. Their ancestors were not Mexicans, they insisted, but the Spanish conquistadors. They preferred to be called Spanish. Restaurants serving their fare were advertised as Spanish Restaurants. Now, the term “New Mexican” is used, especially in Santa Fe, but more recently the ethnic balance has changed and many restaurants now admit to being Mexican.
New Mexican cuisine springs from Native American, Mexican, and European cultures. The Rio Grande Pueblo Indians, and their ancestors, the Anasazi, or ancient ones, relied on corn, beans, chiles, and squash for sustenance. The tomato, which originated in South America, came into the Southwest (and around the world) following the Spanish colonization of America. These early crops became firmly entrenched in the culture, forming the foundation of New Mexican cuisine even before the Spanish arrived.
I like to think of Santa Fe cuisine as the gourmet version of the New Mexico style. Santa Fe, being the state capitol, tourist Mecca, and art center, has attracted many wealthy settlers and celebrities to live in or visit the area. These, in turn, desire upscale restaurants with foods having the subtleties and complexities of French, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisines. Hotels and restaurants have sought chefs trained in culinary institutes to come and interpret the New Mexico style as an haute cuisine.
New Mexico Cash Crops
The top agricultural commodities in New Mexico that are ingested by humans are dairy, cattle, pecans, chiles, onions, wheat, peanuts, and potatoes, in that order. Perhaps the most surprising entry in this list to outsiders is pecans. However, having lived in Las Cruces during my college years, it was no surprise to me, for many was the time that I marveled at the miles of pecan groves that lined the Rio Grande River all the way from Mesilla to Anthony. Chiles and onions became the distinctive signature items in the New Mexico cuisine. The other crops are common to many states.
about chile and chili
The New Mexico Culinary Gestapo makes a careful distinction between the words chile and chili. Capitalized, as Chile, it is the name of the South American country. But chile, with an e at the end and not capitalized, refers to the fruit of the capsicum plant that comes in red and green colors and in varying degrees of pungency. Elsewhere, such fruit may be referred to as chili peppers, or just chilis, but in New Mexico, they are chiles.
The term chili, with an i at the end, refers either to a hearty stew made using chiles as its primary distinctive seasoning, or the dried ground up flakes from which it is made, called chili powder.
Although they are often called peppers, they are not. They are capsicums. There are 5 common species of chiles, and over 3000 varieties of them have been cataloged. Pungency is indicated in one of three scales: hotness, which varies from 0 (none) to 10 (volcanic); the Scoville scale, which runs from zero to about 16 billion; and the American Spice Trade Association pungency units, which translate to about 1/15th of measurements in the Scoville scale. Some of the more popular varieties are rated in the following table for reference:
Chile Heat Scale
Sweet Bells, Sweet Banana, and Pimento
Cherry, New Mexico, Anaheim, Big Jim
100 – 1 K
Ancho, Pasilla, Anaheim
1 K – 1.5 K
Sandia, Cascabel, Poblano
1.5 K – 2.5 K
Jalapeño, Mirasol, Chipotle
2.5 K – 5 K
Yellow Wax, Serrano
5 K – 15 K
Chile De Árbol
15 K – 30 K
Ají, Cayenne, Tabasco, Piquin
30 K – 50 K
Santaka, Chiltecpin, Thai
50 K – 100 K
Habanero, Scotch Bonnet
100 K – 500 K
Red Savina Habanero
350 – 855 K
Bhut (or Naga) Jolokia
855 K – 1.1 M
15 M – 16 M
Two of the more popular chiles are the pasilla (pronounced pah-SEE-yah; literally “little raisin”) and the Poblano, which are both very flavorful and have low piquancy. Both names include more than one variety of chile. A true pasilla is the dried form of the long and narrow chilaca pepper. In the United States producers and grocers often incorrectly use pasilla to describe the Poblano, a variety whose dried form is called an ancho. Pasillas are used especially in sauces. They are sold whole or powdered.
As shown in the following anatomy* of a chile, the placenta and seeds account for the majority of the capsaicin in the pod. For this reason, you may adjust the amount of pungency, within bounds, by the amount of them you remove or leave in, when using fresh chiles. When a recipe calls for fire roasted mild green chile, use the canned variety. The difference in taste, though distinct, is not distinct enough to warrant me roasting my own.
There are recipes, however, that call for dried chile pods, of which there are many varieties available in supermarkets. The recipes will tell you which ones to choose, and why. They all call for reconstitution in liquid, which is accomplished by placing them in a microwave dish with water or broth, bringing them to a boil, transferring chile and liquid to a blender, and processing until puréed.
new orleans Style
New Orleans is famous for a number of qualities, among which are its laissez-faire life style, its French Quarter architecture, restaurants, hotels, bars, entertainment establishments, Mardi Gras Celebrations, and its food. Called “The Big Easy,” it promotes and lives up to its motto, “Laissez le bon temps rouler!” (Let the good times roll!).
New Orleans is especially world-famous for its indigenous cuisine, which is a centuries-old amalgamation of Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, Creole, French, Cajun, and a hint of Cuban traditions that produces a truly unique and easily recognizable Louisiana flavor.
Signature items include beignets; chicory-flavored coffee; po’ boy and muffuletta sandwiches; gulf oysters, crawfish, and other seafood; étouffée, jambalaya, gumbo, and other “iron-pot” delicacies; sausages such as andouille and boudins; and desserts such as Bananas Foster, Bread Pudding, and Praline candy.
My first introduction to Cajun-Creole cuisine and zydeco music was when Camilla, daughter Kat, and I invaded the 1984 Worlds Fair and Expo held in New Orleans. I became quickly convinced from empirical evidence, and have had that conviction reaffirmed upon each return visit, that there are no bad restaurants in New Orleans.
The local populace does not shun alcohol, as does much of the Deep South. Even the smallest café and those that are only open for breakfast and lunch will have a full bar, to offer you libation at every opportunity. If you don’t finish it in the place you ordered it, you can take it with you to finish while walking in the street or in the next place you care to visit.
As Camilla’s late Uncle John told us during this visit, in his region-typical drawl, “In New Orleans, we like to party (pronounced PAW-tih). But you have to practice, or you can hurt yourself (pronounced yusseff!).” Practice we did, then and on every visit since.
That Worlds Fair heralded the coming popularity of Louisiana’s arts, events, and attitudes in America. Paul Prudhomme had just published his first book and his restaurant on Chartres Street had a long line waiting to get in.
Music is also a big part of the New Orleans scene. Jazz is prevalent throughout the French Quarter and elsewhere. The Louisiana style of music featuring the button (squeeze box) accordion, guitar, and fiddle, known as “zydeco*”, gained increasing popularity outside Louisiana since that Worlds Fair.
As for the food, the Culinary Gestapo may yet make some distinctions between Creole, Cajun, and other component cuisines of New Orleans cookery. They will insist that Creole food is more refined and subtler, while Cajun food is pungent and more highly spiced. As a practical matter, however, it appears that over the years, any meaningful distinction between Cajun and Creole cuisines has been lost. The styles have essentially been assimilated into what is now called the New Orleans Style. Good. One less thing to worry about. I certainly do not make any distinctions as to whether my dishes here are Cajun or Creole.
But, for what it’s worth: historically, Cajuns are the descendants of Acadian exiles from Canada who settled in South Louisiana from Lafayette to the outskirts of New Orleans beginning in 1785. They cooked with what the land provided and kept it simple but delicious. Creoles were descendants of French, Spanish, Caribbean, Indian, and African origins who settled in New Orleans and whose cultures and tastes intermixed, intermingled, and melded. Because Creole aristocrats could afford to use both imported and local ingredients in their cooking, their style is considered by some to be more sophisticated. Oysters Rockefeller is Creole; crawfish etouffée is Cajun.
Caveat on Cooking Dried Beans
Many types of raw beans contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which occurs in its highest concentrations in uncooked red kidney beans and white kidney beans (also known as cannellini). It is also found in lower quantities in fava beans and certain types of green beans. Poisoning can occur from ingesting as few as five raw beans, and symptoms occur within three hours, beginning with nausea, then vomiting, which can be severe and sustained (profuse), followed by diarrhea. Recovery occurs within four or five hours of onset, usually without the need for any medical intervention.
Fortunately, it is destroyed in recipes by sufficient boiling and is therefore not of great concern here, as dried beans prepared in this work are all boiled sufficiently long as to be safe.
So, for proper preparation, always wash the dried beans, remove any debris and ill-looking beans, put them in a large enough sauce pan or kettle, cover with water, bring to a boil, maintain the boil for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, drain, rinse well, and drain again. This method replaces the often recommended overnight soaking, which does not destroy the toxin.
Then cook the beans according to recipe instructions.