Bachelor Chow Quickie: Indian Pizza

Sue was actually home by the time I made this, but she’d told me she had a big lunch and wouldn’t want dinner.

I had a leftover tandoori style lamb shoulder chop from two nights before (hardwood charcoal mmm), and most of a kabob of vegetables (onion bell pepper tomato). I found a slightly freezer burned garlic naan not much bigger than my hand (less than two thirds the size of a pre-made personal pizza crust) in the freezer. While I pre-heated the grill, I put down some sauce: a heaping teaspoon of coriander chutney and a scoop of plain Greek yogurt. Diced up the vegetables and lamb, dropped that over the sauce, added a small handful of shredded mozzarella, a slivered Serrano chile and a sprinkle of garam masala.


I turned off the front burner and let it bake with indirect heat, turning it a couple times until the cheese was all melted, less than ten minutes, under 30 counting the pre-heat.


Delicious, accompanied by a tall glass of ice water, The Clash’s “London Calling” and Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary Justice.”

Tiger Cry Beef

Tiger Cry Beef – from “Simple Thai Food” by Leela Punyaratabandhu

Last week, a beautiful new cookbook arrived, authored by fellow Chicago-area cook Leela Punyaratabandhu. You may know her better as “SheSimmers” – a blog on home Thai cooking. The day I received it, I made a batch of Panang (Phanaeng) Curry, which I didn’t photograph, and last night a batch of Tiger Cry Beef. There’s no doubt in my mind that this book is a winner. Continue reading

finished dish

Bachelor Chow Weekend: Chimney-Seared Tuna

Sue’s gone for the weekend, so expect several bachelor chow posts, starting with last night’s dinner.  Saku (yellowfin) tuna was available at the newly-opened Fresh Thyme market at a decent price.

So how to prepare it? Seared tuna is somewhat passe, but the only other method that sounded interesting would be oil-poached, and I thought I should keep at least one meal this weekend light.

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Nuea Nam Tok

Signs of Warm Weather: Nuea Nam Tok

My favorite warm-weather meal is the Thai salad Nuea Nam Tok, or “Waterfall Beef.” It’s named for the drops of juice that form on the top surface of the steak as you grill it, the sign that it’s ready to flip, or if already flipped, then it’s time to serve. It’s finally warm enough in Chicago to run the grill regularly, open the back door and get some fresh air in the house, but this dish is even better on a hot summer day: no fat other than what’s in the steak, fresh vegetables, and a bright, herby dressing.

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I want my baby back baby back baby back

Grill-Smoked Baby Backs

This post may get me a shunning from Pitmaster and BBQ Life Coach Gary Wiviott, author of Low and Slow.

I made baby back ribs on a gas grill, instead of smoking them.  Smoked ribs, using Gary’s methods creates a porky delight that surpasses 90% of the restaurant ribs, and is at least as good as the best rib shacks: spicy, great texture and flavor to the meat: tooth-sucking bliss.  But it takes about 5 hours, start to finish.  I didn’t set things up at lunch time, so smoking ribs for dinner wasn’t an option.

But they’re still great, because baby back ribs are great.

Continue reading

grilling mishaki

And the Oscar goes to.. Somali grilled ground meat skewers

For a friend’s Oscar viewing party, everyone brings something at least loosely tied to a movie.  Italian food from American Hustle or Wolf of Wall Street was popular, with a pizza roll, and chicken picante. We also had blackberry buckle (12 Years a Slave), cheesecake (I don’t remember what that was for), flavored popcorn (Nebraska), and my wife’s reproduction of Milk Bar’s Crack Pie.

I made Mishaki, Somali grilled ground meat skewers, for Captain Phillips, adapted from a few websites, and Shidni, a tomato-tamarind-date chutney to dip them in. Captain Phillips didn’t win any awards, but this dish is a winner.  Mildly spicy grilled meats, with a zippy sauce. The weather in Chicago had warmed enough that standing outside to turn the skewers wasn’t going to result in frostbite, and they’d cook adequately with the cover closed.  I’d grill them with the cover open in warmer months.

Are they authentic Somali recipes?  Probably about as much as any Hollywood depiction.  But they were delicious.

Recipe: Mishaki – Somali Grilled Ground Meat Skewers

1.5 lb (650-700g) ground beef (80% lean) – would probably be great with lamb or chicken too
1 small onion, grated
2 small cloves of garlic, grated on microplane
1 tsp (5ml) berbere seasoning
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) coriander
1 tbs (15ml) potato flour or cornstarch
2 serrano chilies, grated
1/4 (60ml) cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tbs (15ml) olive oil
3/4 tsp (4ml) salt

  1. Combine all ingredients but the meat and mix well
  2. Mix the meat into the mixture thoroughly, and allow to sit for an hour (now would be a good time to make the Shidni, below)
    meat mixture
  3. Make sure grill is clean and oiled.
  4. Light charcoal or gas grill, if gas, heat on high.
  5. Form into 24 small, chubby sausage-shaped pieces, put three on each of eight bamboo skewers
  6. Turn gas down to medium, or move charcoal to one side, and grill for four minutes on each side. Turn carefully, because they’re fragile.
    grilling mishaki
    see the fun of grilling in winter in Chiberia
  7. Serve with Shidni — I was packing these up to take to the party, never got a picture of serving them over shredded lettuce with the sauce in the middle.


Recipe: Shidni – Somali Tamarind-Date-Tomato Chutney

2 Tbs (30ml) tamarind paste
1/2 of a 14oz/400g can whole tomatoes (I used San Marzano Cherry Tomatoes), drained
4-6 hot chiles, stems removed (I used a mix of green serranos and red thai)
1/4 cup (120ml) diced dates
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp (5ml) Berbere spice mix
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) salt
4 tbs (15ml) olive oil, divided

  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in blender, blend until smooth
  2. Heat a small saucepan on medium.
  3. Add 1 tbs oil to pan and add blended (blent?) mixture
  4. Stir constantly for three to five minutes, until thickened and slightly darkened.
  5. Add about 3tbs olive oil to make it a little more liquid (not part of the original recipe, but the sauce was otherwise too thick, more of a spread than a dip)

Makes about 3/4 cup sauce