NHK’s Dining with the Chef

Guatemalan Black beans


Soup, nuts!

Food & Wine’s Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup (apple, ginger)

    Ming Tsai’s Real Hot and Sour Soup – super fast, pretty simple.

    Jody Adams’ Green Pea & Artichoke Hearts Soup – with two different pestos, involving a food processor, a blender, multiple pots, multiple dishes and bowls….. this looks great… when I have a dishwasher.

    Tom kha gai

    • Ming Tsai’s (no galangal, no lime leaves, super lemony)
    • (what I think of as a more traditional tom kha, with galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass)

    Rice + coconut milk + tumeric 

    Pozole Rojo, version 1

    Last night, I made a quarter-ish pot of pozole rojo, based on Pati Jinich’s recipe and her 4 minute version.

    Broth & chicken: I cold poached 2 chicken bone-in, skin-on thighs (note to self – results were good but this takes FOREVER) with most of a head of garlic. I removed the skin and pulled the cooked chicken off the bone, and then returned the skin and bones to the poaching liquid – with maybe 4 frozen chicken paws. I let simmer for a couple hours, then removed the solids, strained and refrigerated the broth. It looked like about 3 cups total broth, almost two cups chicken.

    Hominy: I started with a pound of dried hominy, but lost a quite a bit between floaters and my mishaps with de-hulling. Details are here. Next time I’ll include onion &/or garlic in the cooking liquid. I ended up with about 3 cups of cooked hominy.

    Chile paste: working with what I had, I used an ounce of ancho chiles. My bad: I didn’t stem or seed the chiles. After soaking the chiles & blending them with garlic, cumin & salt (I had no cloves or onion), my second bad was not forcing the paste through a sieve. I then fried it. Messy. I made a half-recipe of paste for a quarter-recipe of soup, so, not surprisingly, I only needed about a third of it.

    Putting it all together: I combined broth, bite-sized chicken, hominy & about 3 cups of water, brought to a boil, reduced to a simmer. Added a little chile paste, then a little more. Broth was about the right color, and tasted of chile, but was intensely bitter. My dinner guests would be over in just a few minutes – OMG, how do I course-correct? I added some Better than BouillonTM to boost the chicken flavor (the broth wasn’t terribly flavorful to begin with) and suddenly, the broth just worked. Which was good because suddenly, my guests were here.

    For the salad plate: 

    • Quartered limes
    • Chopped cilantro
    • Chopped radish
    • Shredded cabbage
    • Tostadas
    • Chunked avocado
    • Mexican oregano
    • Chili powder

    Results: not bad. Resulting soup was flavorful but gritty. I was unhappy about the grittiness. I didn’t let the soup with chile paste simmer for the full 25 minutes – I don’t know how much that affected the taste. I think I still would have had to doctor it.

    Next time:

    • Season each part separately to build flavor. Broth & hominy were too bland.
    • Pay attention to the details on the chile paste.
    • Halve the chile paste recipe again – use a half ounce of chiles.

    Making hominy with dried flint corn, or why lime is a good idea

    I got some bulk hominy and decided to cook it like beans and see what happened. Since it was from a bulk bin, I had no info on whether it was dried nixtamal (limed flint corn) or just flint corn.

    I quick-brined it, poured off the brine, covered the hominy with fresh water, brought it to a boil, and reduced to a simmer. In about three hours I had a pot of cooked hominy, tender but chewy.

    Nixtamal is soaked or cooked in an alkaline solution – the Spanish word is cal, but in English we call it lime, as in quicklime or slack lime (used in pickles to keep them crisp). There’s also lime aka limón, the citrus fruit – different thing. Food-grade lye and baking soda are also options though the taste is reportedly not as good with the latter.

    I understood intellectually that lime unlocks niacin, making hominy more nutritious. Note to self: it also loosens the skins or hulls from the kernels, and a person wants that. Removing the hulls on cooked hominy is time consuming and not fun.  Live and learn.

    My next experiment will be with nixtamal (dried, soaked or cooked) to use as a baseline to compare ease & taste.

    If and when I try again with dried – not nixtamaled – flint corn, this looks like a good way to proceed:

    A slightly less sweet Mexican style “instant” gelatina

    How’s that for qualifications, huh?

    Mexican gelatin is very firm, and instant gelatins can be very sweet.  Here is my attempt to keep the firm, the instant, and bring down the sweetness just a smidge. Using the appropriate instant gelatin, you can make this with water or milk.

    I like D’Gari brand Gelatina Dessert. It’s instant, comes in a variety of flavors, and water vs milk types. (Make sure to get the right type – they are not interchangeable – milk gelatin really only works with milk, and water gelatin with water.) It’s available in well-stocked grocery Mexican or Latin sections.

    Time: active: 10 minutes; inactive: 2 hours

    Makes: 9 generous servings (slightly less than a half cup each)


    • 5 cups water or milk, divided
    • 1 4.9 oz/140g package instant Mexican style gelatin
    • 1 envelope unflavored Gelatin
    1. Put one cup cold liquid in a large spouted heat-proof bowl or measuring cup.
    2. Sprinkle unflavored gelatin over the liquid & let stand one minute.
    3. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups liquid to a boil.
    4. Add the boiling liquid to the bowl or measuring cup, and pour in the instant gelatin.
    5. Whisk until completely combined & not clumpy. (You may get a couple bubbles – that’s normal).
    6. Pour immediately into molds & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

    Pati Jinich’s directions for blooming gelatin

    A yummy & impressive homemade Mexican Gelatina, also from Pati Jinich – Tres Leches and Strawberry Mexican Gelatin




    Fresh Garbanzos

    Egg Tofu

    You can cook it or – like tofu – add it directly to soups or food in the process of cooking

    For sauce elements – sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine

    Cheater tortilla española with cheater allioli

    Skillet soda bread (in the Cooks Illustrated style)


    Swedish Death Cleaning