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The Rancho Gordo Blog — clay pot cooking

A Sincere Attempt at Tofu "Chorizo"

Clay pot cooking

A Sincere Attempt at Tofu "Chorizo"

I had some major doubts about Mark Bittman's "Chorizo" tacos, as they are made of tofu. I like Bittman a lot and I like tofu but I really love Mexican food, so this was a bit hard for me to embrace. I do try and keep an open mind and this was my attempt at his "Chorizo" tacos. I'm not going to repeat the recipe as it's here on Bittman's very good site. You basically fry the tofu until it's almost dry. I opte out of the optional red bell peppers as they seemed wrong for such a traditional Mexican...

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Guest Post: Julia's Cassoulet Moment

Cassoulet Clay pot cooking In the kitchen

Over the summer, I was lucky enough to get to spend three days at Georgeanne Brennan's house while we shot photos for our new cookbook, French Beans. When I wasn't trying to pretend I was a prop stylist or a food stylist, I was hovering around her kitchen, watching her every move. Mainly, I was just trying so soak up some of her kitchen zen, the way she calmly moved about, checking on something in the oven, stirring croutons that were crisping on the stovetop, chopping herbs, humming quietly to herself. On the last day of the shoot, chef Sarah...

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Dinner Party: Fish Tamales in Soup with Garbanzos and Zucchini

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Rancho Gordo Soup of the Day sotd soup of the day soups

Dinner Party: Fish Tamales in Soup with Garbanzos and Zucchini

I keep experimenting with this concept and it keeps getting better. It started by my seeing a clay pot of these fish tamales in both in Morelia, Mexico. I've attempted to recreate it before. Every time it improves. You start with a broth. This was half bean broth and and half water. The zucchini were sliced very thin and added with onion, parsley and celery. This continues to cook until you have an acceptable broth. Soaked corn husks for tamales were soaked in warm water for a couple of hours to make them pliable. In each package I added an...

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Smoked Tomatoes With a Great New Toy

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen

You know I love a new toy. I've written about clay donabe pieces from Toiro before and I'm strictly a tourist. The pots are an investment but for someone like me who still is haunted by the Napa fires last year, grilling and barbecuing is just not an option. The Ibushi Gin stovetop smoker is perfect. It's very easy to use and I am looking at every ingredient in my kitchen as a potential experiment. This last weekend I used crap Roma tomatoes from the grocery store. I salted them and added some of our Oregano Indio. I would guess...

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My Favorite Green Just Might Be Dandelions (Especially With Beans)

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Ingredient Spotlight Vegetarian>Vegan

There's not much original about loving beans and greens. They're a natural combination. The greens are fresh and healthy, and if I have my way, a little bitter. They are offset by the creamy, indulgent beans. My grocery store carries them in their organic section. I hope yours does, too. You can always ask the produce manager to bring them in if they don't already. I don't tend to see them at the farmers markets. They are considered a weed. I normally just saute a little onion and garlic in olive oil to start but I had a fennel bulb...

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A Clay Cazuela from Oaxaca with Shrimp, Acuyo Sauce and Pasta

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Ingredient Spotlight Misc

A few years ago I was on a road trip through Oaxaca with my pals Yunuen and Gabriel of the Xoxoc Project, as per the usual, hunting for beans and clay pots. This cazuela we found in Ixaltapec, on the isthmus. Sadly, the whole region was hit with a horrendous earthquake last year. A lot of the attention seems to have gone to the Mexico City quake, which was also bad, but the Oaxacan recovery has been much slower. Recipe: Shrimp in Acuyo influenced by the cuisine of Veracruz 10 small to medium sized leaves Hoja Santa (also known as...

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Greens for Beans

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Vegetarian>Vegan

I like them all: dandelion, kale, chard, lambsquarters....all of them. I could live without spinach but I would never make a fuss if it was offered. Sauteed greens are a natural with cooked beans. Or as a filling in a tortilla. The last bit can be used in a soup. I love them and usually have several cooked in my fridge, waiting to be used. I've seem recipes that have you boil them but that seems a bother. I wash the greens and add them to a wide pan of sauteed onion and garlic. Sometimes I use a little pancetta...

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Slow Baked Garbanzos

Clay pot cooking In the garden In the kitchen Ingredient Spotlight Vegetarian>Vegan

One of my favorite books from the last years has been The Blue Zones (National Geographic, 2008) by Dan Buettner. Statistics for longevity are examined and there are some not so surprising conclusions reached, my favorite being that those of us lucky enough to make it to the old folks stage tend to eat beans. The Greek Island of Ikaria is mentioned a lot and it's referred to as the place where people forget to die. Citizens work, garden, eat whole foods, little meat and of course eat beans (and drink wine.) Works for me. Diane Kochilas' book on the...

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A Muy Porky Spanish Rice Dish for your Garbanzos

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen

It was a Sunday and guests were coming over and I got inspired. Two books, The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen and Spanish Made Simple by Omar Allibhoy, inspired me. Allibhoy's recipe was very simple but von Bremzen's description added context and helped me to improvise, just a little. I like paella and love it when it's done really well. Mostly, I think of it like Mexican mole: it's a special occasion dish for most of us and probably best left that way. This recipe appealed to me because it used Spanish bomba rice, which is short grain...

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Simplicity and perfection in a bowl. 

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Ingredient Spotlight Vegetarian>Vegan

Special friends were coming over so I decided to use the last of my Marcella beans. We've been sold out for awhile but I'd been saving them for an occasion. This was it. (These easily could have been Alubia Blanca beans.) I soaked them for about two hours while I messed around in the kitchen and then cooked them with just half an onion, very thinly sliced with a mandolin and a smashed clove of garlic. I sauteed these in good olive oil before I added the beans and water. A bay leaf was the final touch. Marcellas are very...

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Decadent Simplicity: Poached Fish in a Corn Husk

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Misc

After biblical winter rainstorms and a scorching season of heat waves, things in Northern California seemed to have calmed down. We're back to fresh mornings, hot days and fog rolling in for the night. Repeat. It's a lovely trend and I want to eat outside as much as I can. The rains seem to have washed away all the wasp nests and our usual yellowjacket plague is not happening, knock wood. For the 4th of July, I took some Pacific cod and marinated it with olive oil and our Oregano Indio. The oregano is a natural for fish. I added...

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Paula Wolfert's Unforgettable Sandpot Mushrooms

Clay pot cooking In the kitchen Vegetarian>Vegan

I am totally enamored with Emily Thelin's new biography of Paula Wolfert, Unforgettable. I don't know how it's possible that the major publishing houses had no interest in this book and it only came to fruition thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, but such is modern life. Maybe when Paula's gluten-free microwave cookbook comes out, they'll be interested. It's shameful! But enough of that! The very good news is that Paula's life makes for an excellent story and Emily Kaiser Thelin, who wrote a very good profile on Rancho Gordo in Food + Wine magazine many years ago, is really the...

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