I've started putting my recipes in a relational database and writing some code to discover common "recipe segments"- ingredients and methods that comprise components of other recipes- which can allow for some interesting short cuts and easy versions of more complicated recipes. Two examples are that the spices in my Taco Bell taco meat clone recipe are nearly identical to my Gebhardt's chile powder clone, or that many of the ingredients in Ranch Style Beans, taken together, are identical to ketchup.
I'm a purist and love to do everything from ultra scratch (you don't want to see me make falafel!), but there are only so many hours in the day, and some of those shortcuts allow me to have it as I normally would without taking nearly so much time. I guess these should really be on three threads, but given the common method that created them I've put them all on this thread to illustrate the point. They all use quick, simple options, like garlic powder and onion flakes rather than doing it the "right" way. If you like Ranch Style Beans- if you're a Texan missing *good* Ranch Style Beans- you really need to try that one. It's amazing if I do say so myself. I'll swear by the other two, too.
Note on the spices: I like to use whole spices and grind them in a (dedicated to purpose) coffee grinder. They are much, much cheaper, and infinitely better. Oxidation is the enemy, and no spice that sits with all that surface area exposed for months will be remotely like the freshly ground version. Indian, Pakistani and Mexican groceries are a very good source for whole spices. You will shake your head when you see how much a 1/2 pound bag of cumin seed costs, how long that lasts grinding fresh, how much better it tastes and how EXPENSIVE the little, oxidized ground containers are in the typical mega-grocery spice section. It's often 10 times cheaper...and better!
Very Easy, Very Authentic Ranch Style Beans (no overnight soaking!)
1 pound dried pinto beans
2 ham hocks
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp whole cumin seed, ground
1 tsp whole black pepper, ground
1 TB dried Mexican oregano, crushed between your hands
1/2 beef boullion cube
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 heaping tablespoons Gebhardt's Chile Powder (see clone recipe below for substitute)
1 pound of ketchup
12 ounces lager
Rinse pinto beans, add to stock pot and cover with two inches of water. Bring to a rolling boil, turn off the heat (leave the pot on the burner) and let sit for 1 hour. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 8 hours, or until your preferred doneness. Obviously, this makes a great crock-pot recipe.
Gebhardt's Chile Powder Clone
4 dried Ancho chiles
1 dried red cayenne pepper, for the "hot" version
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed, ground
1 teaspoon whole corriander seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper, ground
1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Grind all to a powder and store!
Taco Bell Taco Meat Clone
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
4 teaspoons (1T and 1t) of Gehbard'ts Chile Powder
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound ground meat (beef, bison or elk)
Brown 1 lb ground meat in skillet; drain. Add remaining ingredients and 3/4 cup of water.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is nearly evaporated and the meat is still quite moist.
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