Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mexican Country Fried Potatoes

Had some family in for brunch the other day and served my Chile Relleno Rustica... and really needed a side dish.  
So I invented this.
Regular hash browns would have worked, but Mexican Country Fried Potatoes are more fun! I also served it with Chipotle Sour Cream, because we all like it HOT, HOT, HOT.

I actually cooked both dishes at once, in the same oven.  
Easy peasy.
That gave me time to whip up some Mango Bellini Cocktails, essentially a champagne mimosa with mango juice and apricot schnapps.  Yum... I will blog that one soon, because I know you need to know that one!

Serves about 4-5

6-7 red potatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 onions, chopped into big pieces
2-3 jalapeno, chopped into big pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped into big pieces 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional if you don't want it spicy)
1/2 tsp garlic powder or chopped garlic
1 tsp salt 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

This is how I chop the jalapenos so I don't have to touch the seeds or membranes. Clever, huh?

Here's the veggies ready to go

Here's the mixture after tossing with the spices, oil and lime.

Roast at 425 for about 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are done to your liking.  Give them a stir about half way through to get them a little browner.
I must admit, I like it a bit on the softer side.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bran Muffins

My friend Pam gave me this recipe.
It's a very cool process, make the batter ahead of time, cover it and keep it in the fridge, then bake muffins fresh every morning!  
The batch makes 24 muffins, however she bakes 4 each morning in her toaster oven, so this one batch can last all week. She says it keeps for weeks, but never lasts that long.

Think of the possibilities!
It's a great time saver, you can do the batter ahead, and then it makes life easier in the morning.   Brunch guests, fresh baked treats for your co-workers coffee break or for the holidays.  I can imagine popping a batch of these in the oven for Christmas morning, to snack on while you are enjoying the early morning festivities, something to hold you over until the real sit down breakfast is ready.

(Sorry to confuse you, but I pictured the sour cream by mistake- LOL)
Makes about 24

1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs 
1 1/2 cups flour 
1 cup whole wheat flour 
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1/2  teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk 
1 cup boiling water
3 cups All Bran cereal 
3/4 cups raisins (or dried cherries, dried blueberries or cranberries)
3/4 cups chopped walnuts

Pour hot water over All Bran and let set to cool.

Cream shortening and sugar, add eggs and mix well. Mix together with a fork the flour, salt, soda. Add alternatively the buttermilk and flour mixture. Blend in cooled All Bran, add raisins and walnuts. Batter can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 weeks. Cover tightly until ready to use. Spoon batter from container without stirring into greased muffin pan (or use muffin papers). Bake at 400 degrees in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chickpea Panzanella with capers

Leftover bread.
A yummy expensive hunk of bread sitting there, staring at you.
You haven't the heart to throw it away.
But whatever will you do with it?
Bread crumbs? Stuffing?  Feed the ducks?

Now salad made out of leftover bread made sound a little weird to you, but this happens to be one of my favorite salads.   I've done one before but when I saw this recipe in Sunset in 2009, using the old bread with some arugula, some chickpeas, capers and tomatoes? 
Yes, I was IN for trying it.

Yum, the chickpea (or garbanzo's) are a nice filling addition to the salad with some of their creaminess and texture, perfect with a salty taste of capers, fresh tomatoes and peppery arugula.  

Serves 4-6

3/4 pound day-old crusty whole-grain bread, cut into 1-in. chunks

2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-in. chunks(or cherry tomatoes)

2 cups lightly packed arugula

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzos), drained

2 Tbsp capers

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3-4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

12 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toast the bread if it is fresh and soft for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
If it's a dense or stale bread, you can skip this step. 

Mix all the ingredients and ideally let sit for 1-2 hours before serving.  If it tastes good right away, go for it!  Eat it now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Indian Spinach and Cauliflower- Palak Gobi Sabzi

But tasty.

My hubby always says "Ugly food is good food".  
While I may not always agree with that, and I DO aspire to have my food look great, sometimes you just have to get over yourself on that.
Indian food is one of those cuisines that tastes SO great but often is in the UGLY category.

This one is no exception.  I got to tell you, you put this pureed spinach sauce on anything and it doesn't look so good.  Including your teeth, your table or your napkins.
But, wow, the spinach sauce has zip and flavor galore!  It would be great on potatoes, garbanzo beans or rice.

I have no idea if Palak Gobi Sabzi is right,  I Googled it and it came up as the Indian name for cauliflower and spinach.  Might not be right for the pureed spinach sauce... so if you know, please let me know!

Serves 6

1 big pack of spinach, fresh or frozen
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 lg onion, chopped
1 -2 green chilies (like jalapenos), chopped with seeds

4 tablespoons ghee or 4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon garam masala (Indian mixed spice)
1 teaspoon turmeric or curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced 
1 large cauliflower, broken into flowerettes

Over medium high heat, saute the garlic, ginger, onions and green chili together in the butter until the onion started to brown. Add the spices  Stir for about a minute until the aroma starts to bring out the flavor

Then add the spinach and cook till it wilts. Puree in a blender or food processor, making a paste out of the onion, spinach mixture.  Add salt to taste.  Make sure the spinach puree is quite flavorful as the cauliflower is very mild.

Steam your cauliflower (to the doneness you like) and toss with the sauce. 
Serve at once.

I served it Indian Grilled "Yellow" Chicken.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Toffee Sauce

Maybe it's redundant to say Toffee Pudding with Toffee sauce.
But this is all about the toffee sauce.
Actually the cake is fantastic, more so covered in toffee sauce, I may add!
The sauce is good on a spoon.
Okay, your finger is awesome covered in this sauce!

It's only called "pudding" because it originates from the UK, or Canada or Australia- all those Brit types call it their "own".  All dessert is called "pudding" there, so really, who can tell?
I'm not taking sides, just sayin',  I had it in Scotland first.

The cake gets it toffee flavor from dates, so don't be thinking "oh I don't like dates"... trust me, you DO In here!

NOTE:  I have not tried to make this with gluten free flours, but I am going to try it.  There is something about the already dense texture of this cake that would work out.  If you try it, let me know!

ONE more thing... you are going to have extra toffee sauce (oh darn it!  LOL), but it keeps well and you could use it on other things, like ice cream or apple pie.  It would also make a great gift item to give someone a cute little jar of homemade toffee sauce.

Serves 6

Toffee Sauce:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/c cup butter 

Pinch (or two) of salt, to taste

1/2 stick sweet unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
6 ounces dates, pitted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350.

Start the sauce, In a large heavy saucepan, or a dutch oven pan, over medium heat, combine 1 1/4 cups of the heavy cream, the sugar, corn syrup and butter.  

Here it is when I first started:

Cook, stirring often, until a dark amber color occurs about 40 minutes. 
It gets quite thick, just keep stirring.

Carefully add the remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream. IT WILL BUBBLE UP AND IT IS HOT! Keep stirring/whisking to incorporate the newly added cream, it will be a bit stringy looking, but bring it back to a slow rolling bowl.  The sauce will be a rich brown toffee color.  Add a pinch of salt to taste.  We liked it a bit more on the salty side.

While the sauce is cooking, assemble the cakes.

First, grease 6- 1 cup ramekins and set aside.

Combine the dates and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan and cook until the dates are softened, about 15 minutes. Mash up with a fork.  Cool.  

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the dates, brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, egg and date puree. 

Stir in the dry ingredients. Divide into the prepared ramekins and bake about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and remove the cakes from the ramekins. 

 Here's what they looked like when I took them out:

Slice the cakes in half horizontally. Add a little toffee sauce on a plate, add half the cake, top with more sauce, then add the rest of the cake and more sauce.
Yep, yum.

I show mine with whip cream, but I really, really think a small scoop of vanilla ice cream would be fantastic.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Gremolata- Condiment for Beef, Pork, Fish, Veggies or Bread!

Gremolata is Italian and Chimichurri is from Argentina.
Both pretty much the same- delicious.
No matter where this originated, obviously people all over the world can stand behind this.
The intent is the same, a flavorful, herb packed burst of yumminess.
I am addicted.  I love it more than I should. 

Today my Google spell check told me "yumminess" wasn't a word, but suggested "chrumminess"?  WHAT is up with that?
This is YUMMY, not chrummy. Geez.

Here's a couple of other ways to use gremolata, or chimichurri:
NOTE- I used my preserved lemons in the recipe in place of the fresh lemon juice and zest- incredible!.
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
½ bunch green onions, cut into 2" lengths
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest OR 1 Tbsp minced preserved lemons recipe here
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, add the parsley, cilantro, green onions and garlic.  Pulse until you have a small mince, but not so fine that it starts to become a paste.  

OR, you can hand chop it too, which is what I usually do.  A little chunkier, but just as nice.

Here's a picture of it on my Baked Feta with Chimichurri

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Perfect Poached Eggs in your Microwave

It's not very often that I get so excited about a recipe that involves 1 egg and 1/2 cup of water.

I've always liked poached eggs, but frankly they were too much of a hassle and we rarely made them.   Plus my pet peeve is having poached eggs at a restaurant and getting uncooked snotty egg whites.  It makes me totally lose my appetite.  

This technique has revolutionized our breakfast options, I am so in love with it!I know what we are having for breakfast tomorrow.  I am so excited about doing this.

Here's the instructions, it's this simple.  If you need more, keep reading below and you will see my step by step photos.

1 small low bowl
1/2 cup water
Crack 1 egg into the water
Cover with a small plate, or lid
Microwave for 60 seconds, or until white is set
Use a slotted spoon to remove egg from water
Dab a bit on a paper towel to remove extra wetness and serve at once
Here's my small bowl, I put it on a salad plate to make  it easy to remove from the microwave

 See?  It's a pretty small bowl, that's how big the egg is to get an idea of the ratio of egg to bowl size.

Add the 1/2 cup of tap water (not cold, not hot) and crack the egg into the water

Cover it with a little plate

 Put in the microwave for 60 seconds.  This was perfect for my husband, and I did mine for about 70 seconds.

Use that slotted spoon to drain it, use a little towel to absorb the extra liquid

Here they are ready to eat.  My egg is on the right, you can see it's a bit more cooked, but the yolk was still runny, as you can see by the top photo.  LOVE THIS technique so much.

Indian Grilled "Yellow" Chicken

I'm sure that sometimes, sometimes, like me, you stand in front of your freezer and look at the lumpy frozen chicken breasts and say- what to do? what to do?

I always buy the ginourmous bag at Costco, because it is just so easy.  
Dull, but easy.
Often times, the end result of a cooked chicken breast can be dry, hard and very boring.
My hubby doesn't really care for chicken, so I always trying to spruce it up and "sell" it to him.
I made this recipe up this summer, but have made it many times in past months.

This one has exciting flavors from the garlic and lemons, a little spice from the cumin and red pepper flakes.  Turmeric, or curry powder give it a beautiful yellow color.

Here's a very easy one, with ingredients that you probably already having hanging around.

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric (or curry powder, if you don't have turmeric)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cilantro, minced (optional)

Marinate about 4-6 hours, or even over night.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill over med heat until done about 10 minutes per side.Slow and easy, don't try to rush it by cooking on extra hot grill.

NOTE: We used the Traeger smoker at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes per side, to give it a bit of smoke flavor too.

We served it with the Indian Cauliflower with Spinach Sauce.  Kind of ugly (as good Indian food is prone to be...) but delicious.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cowboy Caviar

I sit thinking about what to say about a dish called Cowboy caviar.
My question is just WHY?
Why is it called that?
It's a Texas thing.  That's what they say. 
I can't explain, it's really just veggies, beans and some seasoning.  It has nothing to do with caviar at all, and nothing about it resembles it whatsoever.  
Whatever.  I think i like this cowboy, yes I do.

Kind of a side salad, and kind of dip/salsa for chips. You decide.  No rules.

Makes a big bowl
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained (or white cannelli beans)
1 can corn, drained or use 1 1/2 cups of fresh corn
1 avocado, diced (optional)
2 roma tomatoes, diced OR 1 cup cheery tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
1-2 jalapeƱo, seeded and finely diced
1-2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Dump everything together in a big bowl.  Add seasonings and mix.  Let chill for 1-2 hours to help flavors develop even more. Serve with Chips

Note-  I used the leftovers of this and added it to chicken stock with shredded chicken and chopped corn torillas and made a great Chicken Tortilla Soup.