Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chiles Rellenos


I was pretty excited last Wednesday when I spied the poblano peppers at the farmers market. The first thing that came to mind was chili rellenos, one of my husband's favorite meals. He was away on business and was to return later that night for dinner. Perfect, I now had a plan......

*Set out eggs well enough ahead of time as eggs should be room temperature*

The poblano chili preparation came from Chow.com recipes, with great step by step photos.

Ingredients:

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (chopped)
1/2 jalapeno pepper (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 medium poblano chile's (about 1 pound)
2 cups shredded jack cheese
4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup vegetable oil

To prepare:

In a heavy skillet, add olive oil, then onions and jalapeno. Cook until tender about 10 to 12 minutes. Add oregano, garlic and then tomatoes. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Now place the peppers under the broiler or on top of a gas burner (one at a time) and blacken and blister on all sides


Once this is completed the chili is put in a glass bowl and covered with saran wrap to allow them to sweat. (Sealing them up in a paper or plastic bag is another way to achieve the same thing). Fifteen minutes later remove and wipe with a paper towel, skins should peel right off. Make a slit lengthwise in pepper to remove seeds. Stuff with jack cheese, shrimp, smoked chicken or pork, we did jack cheese.

Preheat oven to 250F.

Next whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until lightened in color and frothy, about 2 minutes; set aside.

Place the egg whites and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat until peaks form about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer add the egg yolks and fold in with a rubber spatula, until just combined. (do not deflate peaks).

In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add oil, let heat up about 4 minutes. When oil is hot enough drop 1/2 cup of egg batter into skillet, place chili on top, flat side down, place another 1/2 cup of batter on top. Cook bottom until golden brown about 2 to 3 minutes. Turning carefully with a flat spatula and a fork, turn and cook until the other side is golden brown. To brown the sides take spatula and carefully push oil around the edges. When done transfer to a paper towel. Repeat with remaining chili's.

Transfer poblanos to baking dish and cover with sauce and cheese. Place into oven 5 minutes or so to melt cheese and reheat sauce. Serve and enjoy!





Monday, April 21, 2014

Barrio Guacamole


Yesterday was Easter and my sister so kindly brought me over an avocado. We both enjoy them immensely and could probably eat then almost every day. Deciding what to do with this luscious green thing was no problem. Cinco De Mayo is a much celebrated holiday here in Arizona and in the southwest and we always celebrate the holiday with this dip.

This recipe is from the Barrio Cafe a popular restaurant that is located somewhat close to downtown Phoenix. The food served there is not the typical Sonoran style Mexican fare that you typically find around town. One of the owner's of Barrio, and it's head chef is Silvana Esparza. Using her culinary training she takes you around the various cuisines unique to the different regions of Mexico. There is no rice or beans on the menu and they make this wonderful chunky guacamole table-side. There are seven ingredients in this dip that are folded gently together and one (of all things) is pomegranate seeds. It's the burst of flavor from this little seed that sends this dip into another category all by itself. Enjoy with a bag of chips or use as a garnish.

Recipe has been slightly adapted from the video posted on line by 3TV and Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza.

Ingredients:

1 avocado
1 heaping tablespoon tomatoes (diced)
1 heaping tablespoon red onion (diced)
1 heaping tablespoon jalapeno (seeded and diced)
1 heaping tablespoon cilantro (diced)
Salt to taste
Juice from 1/2 lime (I used juice from 1 whole lime)
1 heaping tablespoon pomegranate seeds
1 heaping tablespoon roasted unsalted sunflower seeds (my addition)


To prepare:

Dice avocado into small chunks while in it's shell, using a large spoon scoop out into a medium-size bowl. The trick is to not bruise the avocado, keeping it intact as much as possible. Add tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. *In the video she says to add salt before the lime juice, because the lime makes it harder for the salt flavor to come out.*.



Squeeze fresh lime juice over mixture. Fold together gently, add pomegranate and sunflower seeds. Toss carefully. Serve immediately.



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter bread


About a day or two before Easter we receive a goodie box from the husband's mom. Every year we open this box with anticipation and excitement. There are always the most exquisite little cookies and a bread doll for each of us. This significant gesture has become a big part of Easter for me. For many others this bread conveys a traditional message or religious meaning. The bread base is somewhat similar to challah, and it comes out of the oven a rich golden brown. The variety of cookies she sends are quite extensive and the flavors are unusual. Some will have nuts, others with dried fruit or anise. There are amaretti, biscotti, bones of the dead AKA ossi-dei-morti, pignoli (my favorite), pizzelle, Italian wedding cookies (knots), ricotta, pepper, Neapolitan and date filled cookies. You can see by this incredible assortment that she is an amazing baker. I've talked about her "here" with the gnocchi.

This is my first time baking a sweet bread and the process was a very positive one. I believe the reason I had so much success with this bread was the use of both recipes and their instructions. This recipe is from the Bon Appetit April 2012 magazine. This was used in conjunction with my mother in-laws recipe. Her instructions were just a little vague and I need a lot of direction.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 large eggs, divided (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick butter room temperature  (cut into 1 inch pieces) plus 1/2 teaspoon melted
4 to 6 hard boiled eggs

To prepare:

Using a glass 2-cup measuring cup, heat in microwave about 30 seconds, need temperature to register 110F-115F. (I used a instant read thermometer). Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. (I waited 7 minutes) Add eggs, whisk until smooth.


Combine remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, flour, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running add 1/2 of the butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Then add the rest. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Turn speed up to medium high and kneed 5 minutes. (here I set the timer).

Brush a medium bowl with some of the butter, leaving some to brush on top of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let set 1 1/2 hours.


Let dough rise in a warm draft-free area until doubled in size. (If refrigerated let dough set for 2 1/2 hours or more if needed, if the dough springs back it needs more time.)


Prepare baking sheet with parchment.paper.

Lightly flour hands and preparation area. Punch down dough, then divide into three equal pieces. Roll each of your pieces into long ropes using your hands, about 16 inches each.


Arrange ropes on baking sheet side by side, pinch top ends together and begin to braid. When finished pinch bottom ends together. Let rise a second time about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk remaining egg with 2 teaspoons water. Brush dough using pastry brush. Tuck in hard boiled eggs. Bake until golden. About 20 to 25 minutes. Let cook on a wire rack. Happy Easter!






Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Veggies on Egg Tortilla


This time of year life can get a little hectic with taxes, birthdays, holidays and just plain keeping up with everyday work. I don't know about you but doesn't it seem like the days are going by faster and faster. As time slips by you start to prioritize and maybe even let some things go completely. Times like this bring about innovation and measure to our lives too.

Last Saturday after a particularly long hike I stood in the open door of the refrigerator. It was mid-morning and with only a granola bar under my belt I was fairly hungry. There was not much to look at, really just a couple of eggs and some veggies. Specifically, I had 2 eggs, 5 fingerling potatoes, 4 stalks of asparagus, a small wedge of cabbage, some fresh pea shoots and a couple of radishes. I was sweaty and tired and did not want to run out to the market. Knowing myself well enough, I knew that I would probably grab something quick and unhealthy first, and then be to full to fix something healthy next. So I decided to work with what I had, and this is how this particular meal came about.

Ingredients:

1 egg for each person
1 tablespoon milk or cream for each egg
2 or 3 different types of veggies (I used fingerling potatoes, asparagus and cabbage)
2 or 3 different types of toppings (I used raw pea shoots and radishes)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sriracha for some spice


To prepare:

In a small sauce pan bring water to a boil and steam fingerlings until just tender, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from pan with slotted spoon, add asparagus and cook 1-2 minutes, remove from pan. Cut both into 1/3 to 1/2 inches in length, whatever size you choose try and make them both the same. Set aside.

Cut cabbage into thin strips and saute with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until desired tenderness. Set aside.

Using 1 egg at a time, beat egg with 1 tablespoon milk. In a non-stick pan on medium heat add a teaspoon or so of olive oil then egg and swirl pan around to get a thin flat layer, like a tortilla. When the egg starts pulling away from the sides of the pan and looks almost done you want to flip. It's a little hard to turn at first but just be patient; with your spatula work around all sides of egg and then do one quick flip. Cook another minute or so and set the egg on it's own plate and repeat the process.

Top the egg tortilla with veggies and garnish with pea shoots and radish. Enjoy with a few pops of sriracha and it's done and ready to go. Enjoy!




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rosemary Butter Cookies

These delicate little cookies are delicious. They are savory, salty and sweet all at the same time. Perfect for holidays and parties!


When it comes to baking I have much to learn. Take these cookies for example, the first time I made them was last summer. I added extra rosemary because I just adore the flavor and thought they would taste even better. Well, sometimes too much of a good thing, is too much of a good thing. I also made them extra-large so the flavor ended up being overpowering and even tasted a little soapy. Sadly they were barely okay. So with those little memories etched in my mind I decided to try my hand again with a few small changes. This time I made them much smaller and used the amount of rosemary posted. And guess what, they turned out just perfect!

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Martha Stewart.com website.

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg white, beaten (to brush on cookie roll to hold on sugar granules)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup sanding sugar (I used raw sugar)

To prepare:

Add butter and sugar to mixer, beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in whole egg and vanilla. On low speed mix in flour, rosemary and salt until combined.



Roll in parchment to 1 1/2 inch in diameter, about the size of a paper towel holder. Freeze until firm, at least an hour.


Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

Brush egg whites on outside of log, roll in sanding sugar and then cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake approximately 12 to 14 minutes turning baking sheet halfway. Recipe suggest baking 18 to 20 minutes but in my oven they would of burned.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Grilled Vegetables with Baby Lettuce and Dill


This salad came together in bits and pieces, really just a little of this and that. As the days become longer and the evenings much brighter our diet starts changing. At first it's very subtle as the availability of produce at the market is changing too. Also here in the southwest it's much warmer, we now try and keep the heat outside. This is the time of year I send my husband out to the grill with large platters of vegetables. Here is where the smokiness of the grill is brought to the dish.

I'm in the kitchen wheels turning in my head, this time I add pearl couscous to the salad to add a little texture. After coming off the grill the veggies are cut into bit sized pieces and placed on a bed of baby greens with a little bit of fresh dill throughout. I dress this salad with the pesto vinaigrette that I have ready made in the fridge (link below) and toss in a few slivered almonds. We sit at the table and eat our salads in quiet. This makes for a quick week-night meal.


Ingredients:

6 ounces baby lettuce
1 tablespoon dill (chopped)
2 medium zucchini (sliced length wise)
1/2 bunch asparagus
4 ounces mushrooms
1/4 cup pearl couscous (cooked according to package)
Hand full of slivered almonds


Pesto vinaigrette:

Recipe "here"

To prepare:

Grill veggies, then slice and add with couscous to bed of greens, add dill, dressing and almonds. *This would also be good with grilled chicken, flank steak or tofu*. Serve with a slice of crusty bread and a crisp glass of wine. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Artichokes with Garlic and Anchovy Panko Topping


Sometime in the next month we will be heading to our home in Oregon. One of the first things I do after hastily unpacking is to start the garden. Last year I planted several different types of lettuces, kale, chard, zucchini and herbs. One plant we noticed growing in neighboring yards were artichokes. So last year we decided to buy a few of our own, and as you can see in the picture below they did pretty well. Hopefully when we arrive they will have made it through the winter.


In our household steamed artichokes are enjoyed several time a year. So when I saw this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis, in the May 2014 Food and Wine, magazine I headed straight to the market. In this recipe the artichokes are steamed until just tender, then cooked face down until lightly browned in olive oil that has been flavored with garlic and anchovy fillets. They are then placed in a ceramic baking dish and topped with panko and Parmesan cheese, then baked. We really enjoyed the flavor from these few extra steps and will be adding different ingredients to the mixture depending on what is on hand. Artichokes are perfect for appetizers or even as a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 lemon, halved
3 medium artichokes
Extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
6 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup panko
Salt and pepper

To prepare:

Fill a medium size bowl half -way with water and add juice from 1/2 of lemon. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, discard some of the dark outer leaves, then cut about an inch of the top, peel and trim the bottom and stem. Halve the artichoke lenghwise and scoop out the furry choke. Rub artichoke with the other half of lemon. Repeat this process until all artichokes are done.

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large skillet, add water and when ready to boil add artichokes, cover and cook until barely tender, mine took a little longer than recipe stated as I kept most of the green outer leaves on. Drain well and pat dry.


In the same skillet on medium-high heat, add oil and garlic, and cook until golden in color about 4 minutes; discard the garlic. Add the anchovies and stir until dissolved. Add the artichokes cut side down and cook until lightly browned, flip and cook another 3 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking dish, cut side up.



Let oil cool a little and then pour remaining into a medium size bowl, add panko and Parmesan. Top artichokes with topping, bake in oven 12-15 minutes until topping is browned and crisp. Enjoy!


*Recipe has been slightly adapted from the 2014 May, Food and Wine Magazine.