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Mack's Corner

This Week


Somebody asked me last week where I got all the weird spices that I use when I cook. That's easy: Penseys (Perkins 2 doors down from Cook & Love across the street from where Kid Davis used to be). It's the only place to get spices. I've been buying from them for 15 years. I can't remember where I heard about them, must have been in a food magazine. Every time I read about a place like this, I always wonder "How good can it possibly be?" You get the food section of the New York Times and they're talking about a taco stand in Times Square and how it's the greatest taco in history of the world, but I've got no chance, I can't taste it. I can't fly to New York for a taco. I'll read about a guy who cooks caviar on an open fire in Australia and how you have to eat it the second he takes it off the flame…Can't really send off for that. But I could get Penzeys. At the time Penzeys was in a little town in Wisconsin. When I first ordered from them that was their only store and it seemed like everybody there was named "Penzey". I ordered mostly standard stuff, cinnamon(they have 6 different kinds), pepper corns(5 different kinds), nutmeg(2 different kinds), cardamom(5 different kinds), Chili powder(6 different kinds) Just to see what it tasted like. I could smell the box as soon as I walked in the door. It was like opening a treasure. It filled the room with China and India and Mexico. Each small package had a different spice. As I opened each one to get a whiff I was more and more confused. It didn't smell like the cinnamon that I knew and the nutmeg smelled like floor wax. I called Penzeys. A woman named Penzey (I think it was a daughter) answered the phone. "Hi, I ordered Nutmeg and it says Nutmeg on the bag, but I don't think it's nutmeg." .. She said "Does it smell like floor wax?" … "Yeah, how did you know?" … "This must be Mr. Oates?.. I ground your nutmeg yesterday. You'll see how it's clumped together. That's because the oils are still in it. That's the floor wax smell. Just use half as much as you normally would and you'll be fine." …. It was all like that. I had never smelled or tasted fresh ground spices before. Every spice I had ever known had been in a jar on a shelf for years. I really didn't think it made much difference…

God's like that: We remember God from when our Grandmother would take us to church or some little campus church when we were in College, and now he's kinda faded. It's what we're used to… But he can be fresh every day. Ask God to use you today, ask God to show you he's still there, Ask God to change your life. You don't have to get weird or go off and be a missionary, he'll do it right where you are with the people you already know …. Take a deep breath, he's right there … 

Maybe I'll to go over to Penzeys on the way home just to smell. They have everything in jars that you can open…. China Tung Hing Cinnamon, it's magical….

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

Cooking at Home Continued …

Mark Miller created modern southwest cooking back in the 80's at the Coyote Café in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Still a great Restaurant). One of his cookbooks (my favorite) is "Mark Miller's Indian Market Cookbook".
Queso Fundido means Melted Cheese. It's melted cheese and a pumpkin seed pesto. It's really good. 

Queso Fundido - Broiled Fresh Goat Cheese in Poblano and Pumpkin Seed Sauce..

4 poblano chiles, (big green chilies)

3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (whole foods, or fresh market)

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1/2 tbsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

8 oz goat cheese

3/4 cup pine nuts

Tortilla chips

Pre-heat your oven to 300.

Put the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over low heat. Stirr, stir, stir .. don't let them burn. They will "Pop" when they get ready…lightly toast. Don't wait till they all pop, they won't …. After a few pop, take them off the heat and put them in a bowl…

In the same skillet do the same thing to the pine nuts. Don't let them burn. Just lightly toasted. These WON'T pop… a few minutes only..

In the same skillet roast the whole Poblano chilies over high heat. Turning them, let them blacken on all sides. Take them out of the pan to cool slightly. Then peel the thin skin and black parts off. Cut them in half and remove the seeds.

Place the poblanos, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, and salt in a food processor or blender. With the machine running add the olive oil and puree until it is mostly smooth and pesto-ish ..

If you have little ramekins, use them. Otherwise, any small baking dish will work. Divide the cheese between the ramekins(6 small) or put it all in one baking dish. Press the pine nuts in to the cheese. Spoon the pesto (poblano mixture) over and around it.

Bake in the over for 5 - 8 minutes or until the cheese is warm and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips….. One of the best things ever put on a chip..

Standard rules apply: best eaten right out of the oven, standing in the kitchen. This is the prize for being the cook…



Posted by Mack Oates at 09:59