Saturday night – 04/28/2012

The first two dishes of our Saturday night meal this week were from an episode of America’s Test Kitchen we watched Thursday night. We built off of that to pull the rest of the line up together.

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemon
Couscous with Shallot, Garlic and Almonds
Chickpea side dish
Green salad with roasted red peppers and hard boiled eggs
Ted bread

Chocolate Stout Cake

Notes under the cut

Black Beans and Rice

This recipe is based on one from Cook’s Illustrated for Cuban-style Black Beans and Rice. They start with dried black beans. Since I’m using canned beans I needed adjust a few things to keep the great flavor. I also tend to make a vegetarian version of this dish.

Confession time… I have yet to make a bean dish from dried beans that didn’t taste not quite right. I’m willing to risk it when I’m just cooking for Ted and I however when company is coming I want some certainty in my ingredients. Thus I turn to canned beans. Properly rinsed they work great. A quick substitution for dried beans is four 19.5 oz. cans of beans equals 1 pound of dried beans.

My husband, who is not a fan of black beans, adores this dish. Your mileage may very.

Black Beans and Rice
Servings: 8 to 10 as a side dish
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 70 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 large green bell peppers, roughly cut into ~2″ pieces
  • 1/2 large onion, roughly cut into ~2″ pieces
  • 4 tsp. teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 4 19.5 oz cans Goya black beans, thoroughly rinsed
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges


  1. Adjust oven racks so that your Dutch oven will fit and heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Put the rice in large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear, 3-5 minutes. Shake strainer vigorously to remove excess water; set rice aside.
  3. Place the pepper & onion in a food processor and pulse until you get 1/4″ pieces.
  4. Heat the Dutch oven with 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the pepper and onion mixture, cumin and oregano and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, 8-10 minutes.
  5. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste and chipotle powder. Stir frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir to coat, about 30 seconds. Stir in beans, veggie broth, water, and vinegar. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and fluff with fork. If you wish to hold this dish before service remove the cover and place a clean cloth towel over the top of the pot. Place the cover back on top to secure the towel. The towel will present any steam from condensing and dripping onto the rice.
  7. Serve with scallions & lime wedges on the side.

Rinsing the rice seems to make a big difference in the end product. When I haven’t bothered to rinse the rice it seems to stick together much more resulting in a more clumpy end product.

When I am making a non-vegetarian version of this dish I use chicken broth in place of the veggie broth.  I also cook 6-8 oz. of salt pork, which is cut into 1/4″ cubes, prior to cooking the peppers & onions.  Try to use lean salt pork so you get more meat and less fat.

Caribbean Pork Chops

I found this recipe in the “Cookbook and Owner’s Manual” for my slow cooker.

Caribbean Pork Chops
Servings: 8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 7-9 hours


  • 1 tsp. sambal oelek (fresh chili paste)
  • 2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 cup scallions, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp. soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 8 bone-on pork chops, about 1″ thick


  1. Combine the first 12 ingredients (basically everything except the pork chops) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you have a well blended, course, paste.
  2. Coat both sides of each pork chop with the paste and layer them in the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and set the slow cooker on low. Cook for ~8 hours. I rotated the chops about half way through so that the chops that started out on top moved to the bottom.
  4. Remove the chops from the slow cooker. The meat will most likely fall off the bones when you remove them from the pot. Don’t worry about it. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Pour the “juice” through a strainer into a gravy separator and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the “juice” into a gravy boat or 2 cup glass measuring cup and call it sauce. You might want to check the flavor before serving. Mine was fine but I could see it coming out salty or bland.

Saturday night – 04/07/2012

I asked one of the young ladies who comes to dinner what she wanted to have this week and she said apple sauce.  So here’s a menu with apple sauce.

Orange-marinated turkey tenderloin
Potato pancakes with apple sauce & sour cream
Roasted butternut squash with brown butter and sage
Steamed snap peas

Hot cross buns with currants and candied tangelo peel

Notes under the cut

Candied Tangelo Peel

Hello, world – all the Afterlife Cafe posts you’ve seen so far were from my trusty sidekick Bob — occasionally you’ll see a reference to “Ted” or “we”.  I’m Ted.

I made a whole mess of candied tangelo peel today for hot cross buns.   I usually candy tangerine peels and thought I’d give tangelos a whirl – they have sturdier peels which makes this a bit easier.  These last a long time in an airtight container in the freezer – I just finished a slightly stale batch that was still usable from December 2010.

Start with the whole peels of 8 tangelos, torn in pieces as large as possible.
Put the tangelo peels in a saucepan and cover with cold water.
Bring to a boil, then simmer over very low heat until the white part of the peels scrapes off easily without the whole peel disintegrating – took me about 35 minutes but it depends how low you keep the heat, so check them often.
Drain the peels and let them cool 10 minutes.
Carefully scrape off the white part of the peels with a spoon and discard it.
Slice the peels into strips.

3 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup corn syrup

Back in the saucepan, bring this to a full boil, and carefully add the tangelo peels.
Simmer this over very low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

1 lb sugar in a large bowl

With a small amount of that pound of sugar, dust a half-sheet lined with a silicone mat.
Drain the peels.  I haven’t figured out a great use for the syrup yet… maybe poaching fruit?
Quickly lay the peels out on the dusted silicone mat, using tongs to spread them out so they are touching as little as possible.
Let them cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
Dust the peels with a bit more sugar to make them easier to handle, then transfer them to the large bowl and complete dust the peels with sugar, packing down slightly so that no sticky parts remain exposed.
I usually let them dry for another hour, then store them in an airtight container in the freezer until I’m ready to use them.

You can eat these like candy, chop them up and put them in hot cross buns or other breads, top cakes with them, and lots of other things I’m sure.  Tomorrow I’ll put some in a cherry glaze to serve with ham.

Candied Tangelo Peel