I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sook's Fruitcake Recipe

Sook's Famous "Christmas Memory" Fruitcake

2 1/2 lb Brazil nuts
2 1/2 lb White and dark raisins;
1/2 lb Candied cherries
1/2 lb Candied pineapple
1 lb Citron
1/2 lb Blanched almonds
1/2 lb Pecan halves
1/2 lb Black walnuts
1/2 lb Dried figs
1 tb Nutmeg
1 tb Cloves
2 tb Grated bitter chocolate
8 oz Grape jelly
8 oz Grape juice
8 oz Bourbon whisky
1 tb Cinnamon
1 tb Allspice
2 c Butter
2 c Sugar
12 Eggs
4 c Flour

Cut the fruits and nuts into small pieces, and coat them
with some of the flour. Cream the butter and sugar
together, adding one egg at a time, beating well. Add the
rest of the flour. Add the floured fruits and nuts, spices,
seasoning, and flavorings. Mix by hand. Line a large cake
tin with wax paper, grease, then flour. Pour the mixture
into the pan and put it in a steamer over cold water.
Close the steamer and bring the water to a rolling boil.
Lower the heat and steam the cake for about
four-and-one-half hours. Preheat oven to around 250
degrees, and bake for one hour.
From "Sook's Cookbook" and made famous
in Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory".

I am going to soak the nuts and fruits in the alcohol and grape juice for a few days. That will give the candied fruits time to get here through the mail.

Fruitcake Ingredient Hunting

I have successfully rounded up all of the ingredients for Sook's Fruitcake. I had to go to several stores to get all the ingredients. I got the different nuts and figs in bulk from Whole Paycheck. I got the raisins from Hen House. I could not find candied cherries, candied pineapple or citron in any stores so I got them online from The Baker's Catalogue. They have a fruitcake mix that has just the right amount of all 3 for under 5 bucks. I ordered it and the mix should be here in a couple days.

Its Fruitcake Weather

One of my favorite authors is Truman Capote. You have probably at least heard of one of his more famous books 'Breakfast At Tiffany's'. That is just one small piece of his work which includes such masterpieces as 'Other voices, other rooms' and 'In Cold Blood'. The latter is THE true crime book by which all others are judged. Last night I was flipping through the channels waiting for the bread to toast for turkey salad sandwiches. I stumbled onto a TV adaptation of Capote's Christmas story - 'A Christmas Memory.' That reminded me that for years I have been planning on researching fruitcakes. In just a few short hours I learned more than I need to know and I found perhaps the most famous fruitcake recipe of all - the one featured in 'A Christmas Memory.' Capote's cousing Sook used to make 30 fruitcakes a year and send them to different people. She even had a cookbook out for a while called Sook's Cookbook. Her fruitcake recipe was featured in that book. I am hunting the dark recesses of the internet for a copy of the book. Meanwhile I have found a copy of the recipe. I must say that a couple of things about the recipe confuse me somewhat. For instance she calls for steaming the cake for 4 1/2 hours and then baking it for an hour. After looking at literally hundreds of recipes, Sook's is the only one I have found that calls for this process. Most of them call for baking with a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. The more I think of it the more genius I think her recipe is. You want to cook the fruitcake slowly without drying it out. That is probably why she steams it. At the same time you want it to brown a little bit and dry out just a tad so that it is not soggy. By steaming it you can be absolutely certain that you aren't going to burn it and that it will cook slowly. The last bit of cooking in the oven at low temp will dry it out just enough and brown it a bit.

The other thing that I have learned about fruitcakes is that you want to make them at least a month ahead of time so that they can mellow and age. You soak them down in alcohol and wrap them in an alcohol soaked cheesecloth, then tin foil and let them sit in a cool dry place for a month, possibly even many months. After that a fruitcake can be stored that way and burried in a tin full of powdered sugar. Some people have fruitcakes that are over 25 years old!

Today I am going on a hunt for all of the ingredients needed to make Sook's Fruitcake. I will post the recipe later along with other secrets of fruitcake baking as I learn them.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Friend now has a food blog!!!

My friend just started a food blog!!! It should be awesome because he has sent me some recipes before. He is of the creative make (a singer in a serious assed rock band) and I am sure he will dazzle us with future posts. You can view his blog atMile High Meltdown. I also included a link to the left.

More Leftover Turkey Recipes

On Sunday I made homemade pasta. I made some fetuccini noodles -

and some super thin lasagna noodles.

Nothing tastes better than homemade pasta. I decided to make a turkey alfredo lasagna. It has three cheeses in it. It has real mozzarella cheese (the kind that comes in a ball), parmesan and boursin cheese. The last is a special kind of cream cheese that has garlic in it. I wanted super thin lasanga noodles so that I could make a real deep dish of lasagna with tons of layers. It worked.

Turkey Alfredo Lasagna

Makes a deep 9X9 inch casserole dish worth.

1 cup leeks, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed.
1 t dried basil, oregano and thyme
¼ t red pepper flakes

Saute the above ingredients in 2 T olive oil until mushrooms are soft. Pour in ½ cup chicken broth and ½ cup white wine. Add the juice of ½ lemon and about a cup of turkey, shredded. Simmer until the sauce is reduced to about ¼.

Now make the cream cheese sauce:

Saute ½ onion finely diced in 3 T butter until soft. Stir in ¼ cup flour. Gradually pour 1 ½ cups whole milk and 5 ounces of Boursin cheese. If you can’t find Boursin cheese in the fancy section of your grocery store then use 5 ounces of cream cheese. Get the Boursin that has garlic and herbs in it, not the one with figs. Stir gently until the sauce thickens. Stir in 1 cup spinach, finely chopped and 1 egg. Let cool 10 minutes.

To assemble the lasagna you will need the meat recipe, the cream cheese sauce, ½ pound of fresh mozzarella cheese (sliced) and 3 ounces of parmesan cheese.

Oil a deep 9X9 inch casserole dish with olive oil. Put down a layer of noodles. Paste with the cream cheese sauce. Add a layer of meat and sprinkle with a little parmesan. Put a few slices of mozzarella on top. Keep making layers in this fashion until you have reached the top of the dish. For the last layer put down a layer of noodles and cover with remaining cream cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake in oven at 400 for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbly and brown. Let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

Tonight I used up the last of the turkey in a turkey salad sandwich recipe. I based it on a recipe from the Elvis Presley Cookbook. It is a book put out by Elvis' chef Alvena Roy. There are tons of excellent recipes for really good American food in the book. It is like a church cookbook only the recipes seem to have a certain flair about them. I just modified his original recipe a little. I added the bread and butter pickles, the green onions, the lemon juice and the hard boiled eggs. Who knew that Elvis liked capers?

Modified Elvis Turkey Salad Sandwiches

2 T olive oil
1/3 cup vinegar
juice 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups shredded turkey
2 cups diced celery
¼ cup capers
2 T diced bread and butter pickles
2 T diced green onions
2 hard boiled eggs, diced

Combine turkey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Marinate for 2 hours and then drain turkey. Combine with other ingredients and refrigerate. To serve, place a piece of lettuce on a piece of toasted bread, top with salad and put the other slice on top.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving Dinner

We had a great thanksgiving. The food was excellent and it was just an incredible day. I made up a pot of spiced cider early on in the morning and it cooked all day. We just relaxed, played cards, drank cider and cooked. I also watched a whole ton of TV which is very unusual. My wife is massively pregnant and can't travel too far so we stayed home.

Koko's Spiced Cider

½ gallon apple cider
¼ cup real maple syrup or more to taste
1 t whole allspice berries
1 t whole cloves
1 t ground nutmeg
4 or 5 cinnamon sticks
a few drops of red food coloring
extra sugar if desired

Dump everything into a crock pot and heat up on high until hot. Then reduce temperature to low and let it simmer in the spices until you are ready to drink it. I like to get up early in the morning and put a pot together to drink throughout the day.

It snowed the night before and it was too cold for me to fire up the smoker and I didn't feel like messing with it. I decided to make an old time recipe. I made a rye whiskey turkey. The classic recipe is for bourbon turkey but at the time of the original thanksgiving there probably wasn't any bourbon whiskey. Everything was rye whiskey back then so I decided to alter the classic recipe a bit.

Koko's Rye Whiskey Turkey


1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup rye wiskey
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 t anise seed
1 t ground ginger
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 to 4 fresh sage leaves
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


½ cup rye whiskey
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar

Marinate turkey in the marinade for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Put turkey in a roasting pan and roast until the internal temperature is 180. It may brown too much so if it gets too brown for your liking then cover it with a piece of tin foil. Baste it often with the marinade. After the turkey has soaked in the marinade you might want to boil it for a minute or two.

Increase the oven temperature to 450° F.

Stir the glaze ingredients together in a bowl. Brush the turkey well with the glaze, and bake 30 minutes, brushing every 5 minutes or so.

We also had cranberry sauce. You can find my recipe elsewhere on this blog. Look in the archives. We had deviled eggs and that recipe is also on the site. The last main dish I made was candied yams. I based my recipe on a recipe from Sylvia's restaraunt in Harlem. She has a cookbook.
Her recipe calls for raisins and pineapple but I don't like my candied yams that way. Also she doesn't call for marshmallows, and that is the way I like it best.

Koko's Candied Yams

5 yams, peeled and sliced to ½ inch thick slices
1 ½ cups water
1 t vanilla
½ stick butter
½ c sugar
½ c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground allspice

Put hams and water and vanilla into a baking dish. Melt butter, sugars, and spices and stir together. Pour the mixture over the yams. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. If the liquid doesn’t thicken up to your liking then cook it uncovered for a while until it thickens up a bit. A few minutes before serving put a layer of marshmallows over the top and return to oven. Bake until melted.

Here is how everything looked on the plate.

Notice how the turkey is next to the yams and the cranberries. That makes it nice and easy to add a little extra flavor to your turkey bites. After all this wasn't a smoked turkey. Also notice that there is a slice of my sourdough multigrain bread to assist in mopping up any extra juices. There is a glob of Muriel's Escalloped Corn at the 6 o'clock position.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Chicken and Dumplings

Today at work I almost got run over by a lady I call the Master Blaster. Do you remember that cartoon that was on from 1984 to like 1986 called Kidd Video? Well the evil genius on Kidd Video was Master Blaster. He was a big fat radio executive who tried to enslave the band to make him more money. He rode around on a flying motorized wheelchair.

Anyway this lady is the mail lady for the whole building. Now you would think that a mail lady would be nice and trim because she has to bring all this stuff all over the building all day long. And let me tell you its a HUGE building. This lady is as big as a house and she's always got a scowl on her face. She rides around on a forklift that has been modified and instead of forks and a lift it has a basket that she keeps her mail in. I have never seen her get out of the thing. She just rolls up to a door and knocks. She waits until someone answers the door and then hands them the mail. If no one answers she just drops it on the floor and motors on. Once I even saw her got through the line at the cafeteria with her modified forklift.

Today I was walking down the hall and she careened towards me at the last second, almost pinning me to the wall. So I needed some comfort food. What better comfort food is there than chicken and dumplings?

This is not your run of the mill crappy recipe for chicken and dumplings. These dumplings are delicious. They have a secret ingredient of Parmesan cheese. Also the chicken is a little different and the choice of vegetables is a little different as well. Read on for details.

Koko's Chicken and Dumplings

For the chicken:
cut 1 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast into half dollar sized pieces.

Dip the chicken pieces into a well beaten egg and then dredge in:

1/2 c flour
2 t sea salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t black pepper

Fry these in oil and set aside.

For the vegetables, saute the following vegetables in 1 T vegetable oil until soft:

1 leek, slice up
1 piece celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 turnip, peeled and diced

Add a couple bay leaves. Next pour in a 1/4 cup of dry white wine to deglaze the pot. Dump in the rest of the flour that you used to dredge the chicken. Dump in 1 quart of chicken broth. Dump in the chicken pieces and add:

1 t rosemary
1 t ground sage

Bake in the oven, covered in a deep Dutch oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the dumplings.

For the dumplings combine the following in a mixer and stir up:

3 T butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 c flour
3 T parmesan cheese
2 1/2 t baking powder
2 t sugar
1 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper

Form the dough into golf ball sized balls. When the 20 minutes is up from the chicken and vegies cooking in the oven take it out of the oven and bring it to a simmer on the stove top. Add the dumplings and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. when they are done, a toothpick should come out clean.


It was an extremely good harvest in Iowa this year.

Gino's East

Here is my clone of Gino's East Pizza. You can find the recipe on this site if you hunt.


Here was our campsite at Lake of the Ozarks State Park.

Yet Another Marinara Recipe

I got home last night and wanted to put something together quickly. I found a big can of tomato juice, some spaghetti and some italian sausage. Aha! Spaghetti with meatballs. If I have said it once I've said it a thousand times - there are millions of ways to make marinara. Here is yet another.

Simple Marinara

1 large can of tomato juice
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic - pressed
a few gratings of a carrot
2 t to 1 T italian seasoning depending on your tastes
salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan and then add onion and garlic. Saute until translucent. Add the rest of ingredients besides salt. Simmer/boil uncovered until it reduces to the consistancy of spaghetti sauce. I like it a little thinner so it only takes me like 1/2 to 1 hour. Stir it fairly often and check the consistency. At the end taste it and add the salt to your tastes.

Easy Sausage Meatballs

1 pound ground italian sausage
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
fresh ground black pepper
1 T dried minced onion

Mix those ingredients up in a bowl and form into balls. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 1/2 hour or until done.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sienfeld released today.

I ordered the new Sienfeld
DVD's today from Amazon. They have a special edition set with the first 3 seasons and some extra junk thrown in there like a script and salt and pepper shakers. They have it for $77 or so which is ridiculously cheap compared to the prices I have seen it at elsewhere. You know you want to buy it, so why not buy it through my link up there? Its as cheap as you'll find it.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Bubba's Chicken

My experimental roast chicken turned out excellent. I figured out how to incorporate grits into roast chicken. When it came out of the oven it looked a little dry so I added one more component, something that no southern table is complete without - GRAVY!

3 pieces of boanless skinless chicken breast
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 T butter
1 recipe Koko Grits (see below)
1 T paprika
1 T seasoned salt like Lowry's or Johnny's
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t thyme

Saute the onion, green pepper and celery briefly in the butter in a cast iron skillet. Don't let them get too soft. Remove from cast iron skillet and paste the bottom of the skillet with the recipe of grits. It should cover the bottom of the skillet with about 1/3 inch. Meanwhile put the paprika, seasoned salt, pepper and thyme onto a plate and mix up. Rub the chicken pieces with the spices. Put the onions, green pepper, celery and carrots on top of the grits and put the chicken on top of all. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the chicken. Bake in the oven at 375 for 1 1/2 hours. When it is done the chicken will be roasted and the grits will be nice and crispy brown on the bottom and fluffy white on top. Let cool for 5 minutes while you make the gravy. To serve put a portion of the grits and vegetables on the plate and a piece of chicken on top. Pour over gravy.

Koko Gravy

1 cup chicken broth
2 T wonder gravy flour
1/2 t fresh ground pepper
1/4 t thyme

Bring to a boil and thicken to gravy consistency.

Koko Grits

1/2 cups instant grits
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 t salt

Boil water, add grits and salt, reduce heat and simmer until thick.

Ultimate Baguettes

This is a very complicated process. There are a lot of steps and everything listed is important. There is also some special equipment needed but its cheap and available at Wal Mart. When you are measuring out flour be sure not to scoop directly out of the bag. Instead use a tablespoon and fill cups that way. It is preferable to use a scale so I will list the weights too.

6 cups (27 ounces) bread flour
2 t sea salt
2 t rapid rise yeast
2 1/4 cups ice cold water (water with ice floating in it)

Combine all ingredients in a mixer and stir for a couple minutes. Switch over to a bread hook and kneed it for 5 minutes or so. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but not the sides. You may need to add a little bit more ice cold water if the bottom of the dough isn't sticking to the bowl, or a little more flour if the sides of the dough are sticking as well. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover plastic wrap and throw into the fridge overnight.

The next day 3 to 4 hours before you want to bake the bread take the bowl out of the fridge and let rise until double in size. It may take 2 or 3 hours. When it has doubled in size flour a counter top and transfer the dough to the countertop. Try not to let all of the gas out of the dough. Using a metal pastry scraper cut the dough into 6 equal portions and let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile turn a cookie sheet upside down and put a piece of baking parchment on top. Sprinkle it with flour or semolina pasta flour (preferred). Preheat the oven to 550 with a baking stone 2 racks up from the bottom. On a rack above the pastry stone put a cast iron skillet.
While it is preheating stretch each piece of dough out into a baguette. Place each baguette on the parchment/cookie sheet setup. You may need more than 1 cookie sheet. Spray the top of the baguettes with spray oil and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let rise 15 to 30 minutes when the oven is preheating. Next take 1 cup of water and heat it to a simmer on the stove. Cut 7 slashes in the top of each baguette using a razor blade. Transfer one baking parchment sheet of baguettes from the cookie sheet to the baking stone. Put the cup of water into the cast iron skillet, creating a blast of steam. Close the door and wait 30 seconds. Spray the inside of the oven with water, close the door. Repeat 2 more times. Then lower the temperature to 475 and bake for about 10 minutes. Rotate the baguettes 180 degrees and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer until they are golden brown. Remove and cool on a cooling sheet until room temperature. Return the oven to 550 degrees and bake the next sheet of baguettes. Repeat this process until all the baguettes are baked.

Big plans

The bread was a big hit at the dinner party. One of my Turkish friends liked it so well he asked for the recipe. Now I'm all intimidated and such, given that I have posted Turkish recipes before and he is actually from Turkey. Later tonight I will post detailed instructions on how to make the bread.

In January I am supposed to go down to Georgia for an interview. The last time I was there I stayed in a place in Augusta called the Partridge Inn. It was a bed and breakfast. I would not have stayed but the plane wouldn't take off secondary to fog. I am glad I did though because for 5 bucks I got a bacon, tomato, lettuce and pimento cheese spread sandwich, pecan pie and a coke. The pimento cheese spread was homemade and so delicious that recreating it became an obsession. The next time I make it I will post the recipe. So I have been thinking about Southern food lately. I promised my wife I would make her roasted chicken tonight. There are as many recipes for roasted chicken as there are chickens. Most of them are good, some of them are amazing. I am feeling experimental so I have decided to make up my own recipe. Since I am currently thinking about southern food I will try to make it a southern roasted chicken. One food that exemplifies the south and separates southerners from northerners is grits. I am going to try to figure out a way to incorporate grits into the roasted chicken. If it turns out alright I will post the recipe. One of the pitfalls of experimental cooking is that sometimes it turns out absolutely amazing and other times it just sucks. I hope this chicken will be one of the former.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Tomorrow's Dinner

I went to let the dog out today and there was a hawk as big as a turkey sitting on the ground about 20 yards from the back door! He sat there for a little bit and the flew off to a nearby tree carrying a squirrel! That calls for a manly meal. Steaks seem reasonable. As a side we will have a potato casserole that my mother makes. I haven't personally had it but people rave about it so its time I try it. The recipe seems pretty similar to my Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole recipe so it should be good. As a salad I will make my Great Aunt Darlene's Pasta Salad. Here are the recipes:

Steak au Poivre

Coarsely Crush:
2 T whole black pepper corns
1 T whole white peppercorns
2 t whole yellow mustard seeds

Coat one side of a NY strip in above mixture. Preheat oven to 425 with oven rack in the middle. Heat an oven proof skillet on the stovetop at medium high heat for 5 minutes. If you are using a cast iron skillet you may have to heat a little longer. Add olive oil to bottom of pan and drop in fillets. Sear the steaks without moving them for 5 minutes. Using a tongs, not a spatula, turn filets over in pan and transfer pan to oven. The searing is with peppercorn side up.

Saute in 1 T butter:
¼ cup shallots

Stir in and reduce:
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup brandy
1 T dijon Mustard

Finish with:
1 T fresh lemon jice
1 t minced fresh thyme
salt and cayenne to taste.

Darlene's Dilly Veggie Pasta Salad

2 3/4 c medium shell pasta or rotini cooked and drained. Place in a large bowl.

1 c halved cherry tomatoes
1 c sliced green pepper
1/2 c chopped green onions
1/2 c sliced ripe olives

Whisk together 1/2 c olive oil, 4 T lemon juice, 4 T white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, 2 tsp. dill weed, 2 tsp. dried oregano, 2 tsp. salt (or less), 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Pour over veggies and pasta. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Serves 8.

Mom’s Potatoes O’Brien

1 bag of Potatoes O’Brien (found in the frozen section of your grocery store)
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups of sour cream
1 cup of colby jack shredded cheese
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese.
1/2 cup of milk

Mix all of these ingredients together in casserole dish, salt and pepper a little bit, and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until potatoes are cooked through. If you can't find potatoes O'Brien, its just hash browns that are cubes instead of shreaded potatoes. It also has finely diced onion, red pepper and green pepper. You could whip something like this up at home with ease.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Headed up to microbrewery

We are going to head up to this little brewery that we like tonight. They have 5 kinds of beer on tap all the time that are their 'standard' brews. Then every month they have an extra 2 beers that are their seasonal brews. They're usually all good. They also have a very good menu. I like the bangers and mash. Its 2 bratwursts with garlic mashed potatoes and german red cabbage. Tomorrow we are headed to a dinner party. Someone is making spaghetti and meatballs. I decided to bring the baguettes that I posted earlier in the blog. I threw the dough into the fridge tonight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Beans and guacamole

I thought I would post the recipes for charro beans and my wife's recipe for guacamole. Tonight we are having nothing fancy. Fried egg sandwiches with macaroni and cheese and bean and bacon soup. I made a loaf of multigrain bread for the sandwiches. I got the recipe out of The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Amazon has it for $22 and the cover price is $35. Seriously folks, there is no better book on bread. I'll let you know how the loaf turns out.

Kokito's Charro Beans

Fry 2 strips of smoked bacon in the bottom of a sauce pan. Remove bacon from pan. Saute 1/2 onion, diced, 2 cloves garlic, pressed, and 1/2 serrano pepper, diced in the grease.

When the onions etc. are soft, add 1 can pinto beans with juice. Add 1 T Cumin and the crumbled up bacon. Add about 1/3 cup water. Dice 1 tomato and add to pan. Cover and simmer until tomato is soft, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and add about 2 to 3 T fresh cilanto and serve.

Wifie's Guacamole

2 avacados
1/4 onion, finely diced
1/2 serrano pepper, finely diced
1 roma tomato, diced
juice of 1 lime
2 T fresh cilantro, finely chopped
fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Mush up avacados in a bowl, add the rest of ingredients and serve immediately.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Ahh yess

Last night's food was delicious. Tonight we had mexican food. We had my wife's recipe for guacamole (the best as far as I am concerned), mexican red rice, charro beans and GQ tacos. It was all totally awesome. I got the taco recipe out of GQ. It is the best recipe for tacos I have eaten. What makes it special is the home-made taco shells. I am probably one of the last people on earth that still makes home-made taco shells but let me tell you, its worth it and these taco shells will never die as long as I am alive. I will post the recipe for the tacos now, and the others as I feel like it. I am tired tonight for some reason.

GQ East LA Hamburger Tacos

1 pound hamburger
½ onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 serrano chilies, diced
2 pinches mexican oregano
salt and pepper

12 corn tortillas (not the hard shells, the actual tortillas)
shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
lettuce, shredded
diced tomatoes

1) Brown hamburger. Add in onion, garlic, serrano, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook until onions soft.
2) Char tortilla on both sides over an open flame on gas stove until almost toasted. Have a frying pan full of vegetable oil sizzling. Quickly dredge both sides of the toasted tortilla in the oil, fold in half and then fry for 30 seconds. Turn it over and fry for a little longer. Drain tortillas on a paper grocery bag or a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
3) Enjoy with cerveza or margaritas!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Turkish Food

Tonight is Turkish Food night. My Turkish Cookbook is The Sultan's Kitchen. The recipes that I have tried from that book are absolutely magnificent. For an appetizer I am going to make hummus:


1 cup chick peas (canned)
1 t salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup tahini
2 T olive oil

Throw everything into a food processor and blend until smooth, adding more liquid as needed. Garnish with paprika, olived and sliced red onion.

We will also be having a Greek Salad. I know it is Turkish night but hey, I'm getting freaky with it!

Xoriatiki (Greek "Village" Salad)

4 Ripe tomatoes
1 Cucumber
1 Onion
1 Green pepper
1/3 lb Feta cheese
1/2 cup Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Cut the vegetables in slices and mix in a salad bowl. Top with the olives, capers and oregano and cover with "crumbled" feta cheese. Pour the olive oil evenly.

With the main course we will be having a rice pilaf from the book. It is called muceddere. I'll let you know how it tastes. It has lentils, chick peas, onion, olive oil, rice, orzo (a pasta), tomatoes and parsley. It sounds good and if it is good I will post the recipe with any modifications. The main course is going to be Sultan's Delight from the book. I have modified the recipe. The original recipe calls for cubes of lamb that you cook for a while. I am going to make it basically the same way but instead of cooking cubes of lamb, I am going to make the lamb into kebobs and then add it to the sauce. My recipe for lamb kebobs caused a friend of mine to go out and buy a lamb and slaughter it in his front yard, to the delight of his neighbors I assure you.

Kokito's Lamb Kebobs

Lamb pieces, about 1/4 inch thick and longer than they are wide. I like to take a piece of lamb and keep cutting it like an accordian so that it gets longer and longer.
juice of 1 lemon
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, grated
2 t sea salt
fresh ground black pepper.

Marinate lamb in the other ingredients for a few hours or overnight. Grill over a charcoal grill.

Sultan's Delight, Koko Style

lamb kebobs from previous recipe
4 T butter
3 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 t tomato paste
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 t thyme
1 t oregano
1 1/2 c chicken broth
salt and pepper
fresh Italian parsley

Melt butter and oil. Saute onion and garlic. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, spices and stock. Simmer sauce for 1 hour, covered.

The sauce and kebobs are served over creamed eggplant. To make the creamed eggplant, poke holes in an eggplant all over. Grill over charcoal until very soft. Meanwhile blent 1 T lemon juice, 1 cup water and 1 T salt. Peel eggplant and put in the bowl with the lemon juice, water and salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a strainer and press out the juice.

In a saucepan heat 1/3 cup milk, 1 T cream until warm. Add 2 T flour to 2 T butter and cook until combined. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture and cook about 1 minute. Add eggplant pulp and about 1 ounce of feta cheese, stiring until eggplant is pureed.

To serve put pureed eggplant in a plate, add kebobs on top, and top with the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Party tonight.

Last night we ate at a Persian place. We got an appetizer platter that had hummus, dolme and a roasted eggplant appetizer. As the entree we got a kebob platter with ground beef kebob, chicken kebob and lamb kebob. It came with Persian rice as well. It was all pretty good but not as good as we get at home. Just wait until tomorrow! Turkish food tomorrow night!

Tonight we have to go to a party so I'm not making anything too special. We are having paninis with the leftover sourdough bread. I have some leftover proscuito and genoa salami. I will also put a sliced tomato, some basil and a slice of cheese. I got us some progresso minestrone soup to go with the sandwiches.

I am bringing a loaf of sourdough potato, chive and cheddar bread and a laof of Christmas bread from Italy that has dried apircots, cherries, cranberries and white grapes soaked in my homemade cherry vodka. It also has slivered almonds. MMMM! Both of those recipes I got from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Italy Day 2

I had 2 leftover sausages from last night but I didn't feel like leftovers and I wanted a chicken dish. So I decided to get a little creative. I know tons of Italian recipes for chicken so I decided to combine a few and use the sausage as well. The result: ba-da-bing chicken! We are also having some Campbell's Select Italian Wedding Soup and I have a loaf of sourdough that I made last night. I find it gets better as time goes on so it should be extra tasty tonight. There is a lot of sauce with this chicken so the bread will be good for the sauce. Also I like to dip the bread in a little olive oil that has parmesan, fresh ground black pepper and garlic salt in it.

Ba-Da-Bing Chicken

In a cast iron skillet brown 3 salt and peppered chicken breasts in olive oil. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the leftover oil saute 1/2 finely diced onion, 1 diced red bell pepper and 3 cloves crushed garlic. Add 1 cup of Pinot Grigio. Add 1 t crushed red pepper

Add the juice of 1 lemon, a good handful of fresh sliced mushrooms and about 3 to 4 tablespoons of fresh cut Italian parsley. Add 1 15 oz can of chicken broth and 3 T butter. Boil until the sauce reduces a little bit. Add back the chicken and 2 cooked Italian sausages cut up simmer for 15 minutes covered. Thicken the sauce by taking a little of it out using a soup ladle. Add 1 T corn starch, shake it up in a jar and return it to the pot and boil until it thickens. To serve sprinkle the top with a little bit of fresh flat leaf Italian parsley.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Layover in Italy

In our culinary trip to the middle east I have to make a couple day layover in Italy. I am going to be short of time until the weekend. So tonight I am making homemade marinara from fresh roma tomatoes. Trust me it isn't hard. I am not above using a Paul Newman product now and again but tonight I felt like fresh sauce. I usually make the marinara separate from the meat and then combine the 2 and cook only for a few minutes. You can use whatever meat you like but I am using Italian sausages tonight.

Koko's Fresh Marinara

1 pound roma tomatoes
2 T olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 carrot, grated
2 t Italian seasoning of choice
2 t salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper

Prepare the tomatoes by dropping them in boiling water and then into cold water. Peel them and set aside. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and saute onions, carrots, and garlic until tender. Add tomatoes, cover and cook a few minutes. Use a potato masher to crush up the tomatoes. Cook a little longer (15 to 30 minutes) but not too long. You want the marinara to taste fresh but not green.

We are also having some sourdough buns that I am making up tonight.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Transition Eastward

Nows the time the time is here! I am about to go through a spell of Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern Cooking. The problem is how to get there from here. You see, if you go from eating baked chicken, Dutch meatballs, pizza, beef stew and the like straight to the finest cuisine in the world you might have problems. Some people have been known to have massive heart attacks from the shock of eating such good food so suddenly. Who knows, you might even have a seizure or some other terrible malady. So I can't in good conscience go straight from really good food to mind blowing food. I have an obligation to slowly make the transition. The best thing to make first would be a recipe from a 'Greek' restaurant in Mason City Iowa. I don't know if it is still there but the Northwest Cafe used to serve up a pretty good Americanized version of Greek food. They had 2 particular recipes that they are famous for. One is NW Cafe Steaks and the other is Greek Spaghetti. I don't see how either of the 2 dishes is Greek, but is a good place to start.

Northwest Cafe Steaks

1 T seasoned salt
1 T Greek seasoning
1 T garlic powder
fresh ground pepper
1 stick butter

Melt butter and add spices. Pour over steaks and bake at 350 for 15 minutes on one side and 10 minutes on the other. Turn the oven to broil and spend the last 5 minutes broiling.

Greek Spaghetti from Northwest Cafe

Boil salted water. Add spaghetti, enough to feed your guests. Cook spaghetti to al dante or enough so that it is cooked but not soggy. Drain spaghetti and add:

Juices from NW café steaks
1 small can chicken broth
1 t Greek seasoning
½ t garlic salt or more if you like it
¼ cup parmesan, add and add more if you like more
1 t fresh ground pepper
a good amount of chopped fresh parsley or ½ tablespoon dried parsley

Monday, November 08, 2004

Camping Food Part 5

The final night of camping is always the best. Usually we have stockpiled huge loads of wood to have blazing bonfires. It tends to get a little wild on the last night and anticipation builds during the entire trip. One thing that makes the last night so special is the food.
We have a common friend who was named Trig. He is the only person I have ever met with that name and he was as unique as his name. I had the pleasure of camping with him once. He was a true outdoorsman. His specialty was dutch oven chicken enchiladas. He made them and I think they are the best thing ever to come out of a dutch oven. I watched him make them and over the course of the next few months we wrote back and forth with ideas to improve the recipe, making it even more delicious. Unfortunately he was killed in a small plane crash just a few days after he graduated from dental school. He is sorely missed but his memory, and his enchiladas live on.

Trig Style Enchiladas

Makes a hefty 12 inch dutch oven full - enough for 5 to 6 people

Chicken base:
Fry 4 strips of bacon in a cast iron skillet. Remove the bacon, cool and crumble. In the grease saute 1 chopped onion.
Add 1 pound of chicken, cut up into stir fry style pieces. Brown.
Add a can of diced green chilis and their juice
Spice the mixture by adding the following spices:
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
a dash or two of pepper

Next add 1 or 2 chipotle peppers. These come in a can in sauce. Chop them up before adding. Finally add 1 cup sour cream, the crumbled bacon and 1 bunch of green onions, chopped. Stir and cook until combined.

To assemble the enchiladas:
Take 3 tortilla shells and spread them with refried beans like you would peanut butter on a piece of bread. Place them into the dutch oven, covering the bottom. Pour 1/2 of the chicken mixture on top. Add 1/4 of a diced tomato, 1/4 of a small can of drained sliced black olives, 1 handful of shredded velveta cheese and 1 handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle 1/4 of a can of old el paso enchilada sauce over, and a few dashes of Pace Picante sauce. Make another layer in exactly the same way. To finish off the dish, place 3 more tortillas spread with the refried beans on top. Pour remaining enchilada sauce, olives and tomato over the top, spreading evenly. Top with enough velveta and cheddar to cover the top layer evenly. Bake in the dutch oven until done. You will know it is done because the cheese will be melted and just starting to brown. Also the top layer of tortillas will just be starting to turn crispy around the edges. Let it sit 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Camping food part 4

Saturday morning we had buttermilk pancakes. I got the recipe from my great grandmother, who got it probably from her great grandmother. I have tried other pancake recipes and I see no need to make any other kinds, unless you want some buckwheat pancakes. I have her recipe for those as well. One of the secrets to these pancakes is that they are cooked with the skillet just barely coated with bacon grease. Another is that you don't want to make them too big. Somewhere between baseball and softball size is about perfect. Also I don't like to have the batter too thick. I prefer my pancakes a little thinner and less bready. Finally, if you have the time and remember, it is always good to make up the batter the night before and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. It isn't necessary but it just adds one more little bit of interest to the flavor. And without further ado:

The Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

3 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 T sugar
2 t baking soda
1 pinch salt

Mix everything up. A few lumps is OK and even preferred by some. These are best made with a light coating of bacon grease on the frying pan or griddle. Not too much though, you want pancakes not pan-fried fritters.

Camping Food Part 3

Friday night we had beef stew. This is not ordinary beef stew. I based it on a recipe from Hemingway's boat captain Gregorio Fuentes. Hemingway was a real man's man and did all sorts of outdoors stuff. He camped, fished and hunted all the time. He also enjoyed good food, and wrote about food often. He had his characters eating all sorts of things. There is a book called The Hemingway Cookbook.
Someone actually went through all of Hemingway's books and went to the original restaraunts if possible to get recipes. Just without the Hemingway interest, this book is an excellent cookbook. Towards the end of his life Hemingway had a boat called Pilar. Remember the old woman from For Whom the Bell Tolls? At any rate his captain also cooked quite a bit and was an excellent chef. One of his best recipes is this beef stew. I adapted the recipe just a little to make it work in the dutch oven. My recipe makes enough for 4 hungry men and cooks well in a 12 inch dutch oven. One alteration is the use of bacon grease and bacon. I just LOVE the smell of onions cooking in bacon grease. It is one of my favorite kitchen smells.

Gregorio Fuentes Beef Stew

4 strips bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
2 cans pimentos with juice
1 cup sherry or other wine you have on hand
1 T crushed dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 pound stew meat
3 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks

Get some coals going and heat a dutch oven from the bottom. Fry the 4 strips of bacon, leaving the grease behind. Let the bacon cool and then crumble. Saute the onions and garlic in the bacon grease. Next add the pimentos and wine and cook until it reduces a bit, stirring occasionally. Next add the beef, spices, tomato sauce and tomatoes. The beef goes in raw. Add the crumbled up bacon as well. Cover the dutch oven and load down the top with coals. Let it cook for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is soft. Taste the sauce and add a little salt if needed. Finally add the potato chunks. Cover again and cook an additional 1/2 hour or until the potatoes are soft. Serve over rice.

Camping Food Part 2

Well its all over now. It was a great trip. The weather was perfect. There wasn't a cloud in the sky all weekend. On Saturday and Sunday the temperatures were in the 70's. We had a lot of great food and I will be post the recipes as I have time. I got to camp on Thursday night. By the time I got camp set up and the rest of the party arrived it was too late to cook anything good so we went to a little mexican place that we have eaten at before. The next morning I made biscuits and gravy in the dutch oven. If you have never cooked in a dutch oven you should try sometime. It is a lot of fun and the food comes out delicious. There are a lot of internet sites about the specifics of dutch oven cooking and how to get started. There is also a book called The Dutch Oven Cookbook or something like that. I never bought a book I just learned to use a dutch oven by trial and error and I have adopted my other recipes to cook in a dutch oven. One of the most basic things you can make in a dutch oven is biscuits. They are almost perfectly suited to the dutch oven. Add a little sausage gravy to pour over the top and you have a very filling and delicious meal. Here is my recipe for biscuits. You can make them in a stove if you want. For sausage gravy I always use Jimmy Dean Regular sausage. I like the flavor the best. Just about any recipe for sausage gravy will work.

Koko's Buttermilk Biscuits

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
5 T butter, cold and chopped into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

Pour everything but the butter into a bowl and mix up into a soft dough. Flatten the dough out using a rolling pin or your hand. Sprinkle the dough with butter pieces. Fold the dough into thirds like you are folding a letter. YOu should have rolled it out thin enough for the final thickness to be about 1/2 inch. Cut out your biscuits and place in the dutch oven. Alternatively you can cook these until they are puffed up and done and just starting to turn brown on top in an oven on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dutch Food

Today I got up early. I went out into the backyard and cut down a dead tree. I hauled the cut up branches over to my burn pile and tried to burn it. It wasn't burning very well. The moral of this story is - if it doesn't burn right away diesel fuel always helps. I dumped about 2 gallons of diesel fuel on it and it burnt up no problem. Then I changed the oil on my car and raked some leaves. I need a good thick meal tonight. It is time for some Dutch food. On my trip to Iowa I collected a couple of old-time recipes. I haven't tried them yet but I have had similar dishes at other times. I also made a couple of loaves of marbled rye. We'll eat one tonight and I will take the other on the camping trip tomorrow. Tonight we are having sweet and sour meatballs, Dutch mashed potatoes, boiled rutabaga and sour kraut. The first two recipes came from this sturdy horse-looking Dutch woman from Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Dutch Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs potatoes
1 c sour cream
6 ounces cream cheese
3 t butter
1 t salt
1 t onion salt
¼ t pepper

Boil potatoes until soft. Mash together with other ingredients. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 until heated through.

Pennsylvania Dutch Sweet and Sour Meatballs

3 eggs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ c dry bread crumbs
1 t salt
2 lb ground beef
2 t vegetable oil

Mix it all together and fry.

3 ½ c tomato juice
1 c brown sugar
10 finely crushed ginger snaps
¼ c white vinegar
1 t onion salt.

Put sauce into pan and boil until dissolved. Pour everything together and bake @350 uncovered for 40-45 minutes.

To make boiled rutabagas I peel the wax and skin off, cut it up into 1 inch cubes and boil in salted water until it is soft. I drain the rutabaga, add 1 T butter and a little salt.

I am also making up some pumpkin cupcakes to take on the camping trip.

Pumpkin Chip Cupcakes

1 c all purpose flour
¾ c whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
½ t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
2 eggs
1 c canned pumpkin
½ c vegetable oil
½ c honey
1/3 c water
½ c chopped walnuts
1 c mini chocolate chips

Mix the above and fill into cups. Bake at 350 for 20 – 25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

For frosting:

8 oz cream cheese
¼ c butter
1 t vanilla
2 c powdered sugar

Beat everything together until smooth.

Bush Wins and a Weekend Trip

Yeah he won. He won big. Now we get to listen to 4 more years of the wacky conspiracy theories emanating from the Democrats. Am I missing something? Didn't the wacko conspiracy nuts used to be Republicans?

I took a trip this weekend up to visit relatives in northern Iowa. The first night I went with my grandparents to a church supper at the Methodist church in Livermore, Ia. They served turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, corn and numerous salads. For desert they had a choice of a dozen different kinds of pie. It was really cool because I have spent a lot of time in the church over the years when visiting my grandparents. I knew quite a few people there. Also I spent a couple days helping paint the church back in the late 80's.

The next day I went to a small town called Ledyard and spent an afternoon with my Great Aunt and Uncle. My second cousin also came down to visit. He lives just up the street from them. Ledyard is pretty much the place our family moved after we left North Carolina after the Civil War. We got there at about 11 AM. We had coffee and cookies. At noon we sat down to a dinner of baked chicken (recipe below), squash, baked potatoes, broccoli salad and apple crisp with ice cream. It was absolutely wonderful. The chicken was so delicious that my head promptly exploded.

After I glued my head back together we sat and talked for a little while. Then we drove up to Elmore Minnesota for coffee. They took me on a tour of the town. My grandparents were along as well. As it turns out, Elmore is the boyhood home of Walter Mondale. In fact, he has been named the 'favorite son' of Elmore. I think I would be pretty pissed if my home town christened as favorite son some guy who lost an election in one of the biggest landslides ever. Also there is a naughty boy's home in Elmore. They named the naughty-boy's auditorium after Mondale. His name is plastered on the side of it in 4 foot high letters. I tried to get my grandfather to have his picture taken in front of the auditorium but he refused.

Last year one of the naughty boys escaped and ran to Ledyard. He stole my great uncle's truck and drove to South Dakota. He left the truck and didn't hurt it at all so no harm done. He ran it out of gas though.

Besides stealing trucks, the naughty boys of Elmore run a coffee shop in the Elmore Grocery on highway 169. We stopped in for coffee. When we entered the most amazing thing happened. The women automatically split off from the men and went to join a table of women. The coffee shop was segregated by sex automatically! I guess I haven't been in any small town coffee shops for quite some time. It was pretty neat. We got to meet the people of the town and have conversations etc. I heard a lot of funny stories.

When I was up there I collected quite a few new recipes, including one for Klubb. Klubb is a Norwegian dish. It has potato dumplings that are boiled in ham broth. My great grandparents used to drive from Ledyard to a neighboring town for church suppers whenever they served Klubb. I haven't made it yet but I plan to soon.

At the end of our visit my second cousin gave me a badass hat. It is a Stormy Kromer. It is an awesome wool hat that has ear flaps. I love it so much that I am buying people Stormy Kromer's for Christmas this year. It is a cult hat. You can learn all about the brotherhood at The Official Stormy Kromer Website. To repay his kindness I bought a Buck knife that I will be sending him in the mail shortly.

Here is the recipe for the chicken:

Great Aunt Darlene's Mushroom Chicken

4 large or 6 medium chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 oz can of sliced mushrooms with liquid
1 C sour cream
½ c cooking sherry

Place uncooked chicken breasts in baking dish. Combine rest of ingredients and pour over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered for 1 to 1 ½ hours (probably 1 ½ or more) at 350.