So, here I am, back again after
too lengthy an absence. I could blame the year-plus
break in columns on a bunch of things, but work
would probably be the biggest culprit.
You see, yours truly got seduced
by the Dark Side and ended up having little
or no creative energy for the last year or so.
Luckily, things started looking up about two
months ago with a creative position about ten
minutes from home, realistic hours in a fun-filled
environment, and the re-emergence of my "muse,"
we'll call it.
But enough therapy for one column.
not. For despite my low-tide of productive creativity
(writing, photography, publishing, etc.) my
food maturation has continued unabated in the
last year. I've been mixing in traditional,
stick-to-your ribs favorites with all-new adventures
Frankly, the best food contraption
to hit the THG offices over the last 12 months
is the Patio Caddie, hands down. Since our palatial
living/working quarters lack one key component
(a yard), we figured that further adventures
in grilling would be impossible. Mrs. Nitrate
surprised us with the electric Patio Caddie
one afternoon, and my cooking hasn't been the
Forget what you know, or think
you know, about electric grills. The PC features
a round grill capable of holding: enough London
Broil for six, plus several halves of summer
squash; a whole chicken for slow roasting (one
of my favorites); and, about two dozen fresh-from-the-bay
clams courtesy of some generous houseguests.
One of the best dishes I've whipped
up so far on the PC benefitted greatly from
a product sample that I recently received in
the mail. (One knock against e-mail: it's pretty
rare that bottles of vodka show up in my In
Sorrels Pickard is a Kenny Rogers-looking
country singer/songwriter who has penned tunes
for the likes of Ringo Starr, Roy Clark and
Slim Whitman (!). Luckily, Pickard didn't let
his tunesmithing get in the way of his God-given
talent: making one great peanut butter! Based
on his family's own recipe, Pickard's Gourmet
Peanut Butter (available in Creamy and Chunky
styles) will make you forget what you ever thought
you knew about peanut butter.
Forget Jif, Skippy or any other
peanut butter you've ever tasted. We opened
the Chunky jar for a taste test and almost didn't
have enough for the recipe that follows. Mrs.
Nitrate likes it so much that she'll sneak a
spoonful when she's hungry for a snack, or bogart
some when I'm whipping up my now-famous Thai
Peanut Sauce (see below).
Pickard's Gourmet Peanut Butters are currently
only available in the Western half of the United
States, but I've been assured that they'll be
available nationwide soon. Until then, get your
friends in California or Seattle to grab some
jars and send it your way. Believe me, it's
worth the wait.
(a variation on Southeast Asian Peanut Dipping
Sauce from Joy
I usually make up a large batch
of this sauce and set some aside in a container
in the fridge for later in the week. Here's
a couple dishes we've used it for...
JUMBO PEANUT SHRIMP (appetizer
or light lunch): get some jumbo shrimp or prawns,
shell them but leave the tails on. About three
or four per person will be enough. Take a sharp
knife and split them down the middle. Wash and
pat the shrimp dry, then place them in a large
bowl and marinate with a little vodka or gin
and some soy sauce for about an hour or two
in the fridge. Spray wooden skewers with high
heat cooking oil and place one shrimp on each
skewer, threading them in a "wave"
fashion. Baste the shrimp with the sauce and
place on a medium-high grill. Close the cover
and wait about three minutes. Brush the shrimp
with the sauce and turn over. Close the cover
and grill about three minutes. Serve hot with
a dish of sauce for dipping.
PEANUT CHICKEN (light main
course): wash and pat dry skinless, boneless
chicken breasts (10-12 ounces each). Salt and
pepper the breasts and marinate covered in vodka,
gin or white wine with a splash of good soy
sauce for about an hour or two in the fridge.
Reseason and baste with the sauce just prior
to placing on a medium grill. Grill for about
8 minutes on a covered grill, baste and turn
over, grilling for about 6 minutes. Test
for doneness: Chicken should be opaque with
no traces of pink at its thickest part. Serve
with a dish of sauce for each diner.
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 small, fresh chili pepper, seed and minced
1 cup water
1/4 cup good quality soy sauce (don't use mass
market versions...it makes a difference)
1/3 cup Sorrels Pickard Chuny Gourmet Peanut
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves (or 1 tablespoon
fresh, chopped mint leaves)
Heat the oil in a small saucepan
over medium heat. Add the garlic and minced
chili and stir for a few seconds. Add the water,
soy sauce, peanut butter and honey and stir.
Cook for about 5 minutes until thickened. Remove
from the heat and stir in the mint leaves. Let
cool and transfer to a container. Place in fridge.
Let the sauce come to room temperature before
serving. Keeps for about a week in the fridge.
Makes 1.5 cups.