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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sage & Cheddar Beer Bread

By now, it's no secret that I am addicted to bread.  You know what else I'm addicted to? Sage.  Yup.  It's a new addiction.  Thyme was always my favorite herb...for years...but this year sage grabbed ahold of me and just kept holding on.  You could substitute whatever fresh herb tends to hang out at your place in place of the sage...or switch out the cheese for could use dried herbs in a lesser proportion, as well.  Guess's even great without anything other than the dry ingredients and the beer.  It seems far too simple a process to turn out something so divine, but it does. 

Sage & Cheddar Beer Bread
adapted from Farmgirl Fare

2 1/2 c. unbleached ap flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbs.sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. baking powder

2 1/2 Tbs. fresh Sage, chopped
1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
12 oz. beer, at room temp.

1 egg
2 Tbs. water

Heat oven to 375° F. Combine flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, sage, and cheddar in large bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased loaf pan.  Beat the egg and water together and brush gently over top of loaf.  Bake until golden, ~45 mins.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove bread from pan and cool it directly on rack until ready to serve... either warm or at room temp.  
I'm planning on making up beer batter mix gifts to give out for the holidays this year...and I'm so excited!!  Along with the liqueurs I have holiday shopping is looking good.  Well, minus the kiddos.  They'd be pissed if they got beer bread mix and liqueur.  Pissed. HA! Get it? Pissed That's a Britishy term for drunk, right?
Okay, the bread won't get them pissed...unless of course they drink the beer and ditch the mix.  Mental note...don't give children alcoholic beverages as gifts.  Wine coolers don't count.  Kidding.  Garsh.  Wine coolers DO count. ;-)
This is great toasted and slathered with butter, too.  I loved it warm and spread with some homemade jalapeño butter.
I am sharing this post with:
flash-back Friday Cookin' for my Captain
Monday, August 30, 2010

Ready, Steady, Cook Challenge: Dessert Apricot Ice Cream spiked w/ Cinnamon & Chile and Chickpea & Apricot Thumbprints

Well....I'm up to the final course in my Ready, Steady, Cook! Challenge menu- Dessert!  And no...I did NOT work green beans into my dessert.  This ice cream sandwich was big enough to split down the middle and share...but you could have made smaller cookies...or eaten the whole thing by yourself.  I mean, you could even just scoop the ice cream into a bowl and eat the cookies on the side if you so desire...I just wanted it this way.  These thumbprints were inspired by the Mantecadas I made recently for my Big, Fat Puerto Rican meal!

Apricot Ice Cream spiked with Cinnamon & Chile
yield: just under a quart

4 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. milk
1/2 c. Apricot Jam (see Main Course...made enough for both)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder

Beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy.

In a small heavy saucepan over low to medium-low heat, add milk. Slowly bring milk just to a gentle simmer or until it begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat.

Gradually whisk scalded milk into egg mixture....a bit at a time at first to temper it.  Pour it back into the saucepan. Over low heat, stirring constantly, heat until the custard mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (napé), approximately 7 to 10 minutes.  Carefully stir in the warm jam, cinnamon, and chile powder.  Take off heat and let cool ~1 hour.  

Cover and transfer to refrigerator for a few hours.  Transfer to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer directions.  

Once your ice cream maker has stopped, sandwich a thick layer of ice cream between two cookies recipe follows, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until firm.  Or simply eat it as is, or freeze for a firmer ice cream.
Chickpea and Apricot Thumbprint Cookies
yield: ~1 dozen lg. cookies

1 c. flour
1/2 c. chickpea flour*
1/4 c. sugar
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
4 oz. cold butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs
Apricot Jam (see Main Course...prepared big batch)

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a large bowl, mix together flours, sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Work the butter in quickly with your fingertips to form a crumbly dough.  Stir in eggs until mixture comes together.

Roll dough into balls the size of golfballs and set on a lined baking sheet.  Press down in the center of the cookie with your thumb.  Place ~1/2 tsp. Apricot Jam in the center of each.

Bake ~25-30 mins., until golden around edges.  Let cool on rack.  Eat as is or use for Ice Cream Sandwich cookies.

*to make Chickpea flour, I ground dried, unsoaked chickpeas in my food processor...adding just a few at a time...adding a few more as they started to turn to powder...until I had as much flour as I needed.  Strain through a sieve to remove any large bits that may not have broken down.

*If you'd like to see everybody else's HERE!

My other two on starter to see my 7 assigned ingredients plus my pantry/free items...


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lentils and Potatoes with Curry

I was flipping through some cookbooks this I'm wont to do...searching for something I could make with ingredients that I already had in house.  Do you do that?  I go with something I have, say chickpeas or green beans or tofu...and then hit the indices of a big stack of books.  Comparing items I have...or could adapt...or draw inspiration from.  Sometimes completely striking out...other times hitting pay dirt.  I was searching lentils this particular day (yesterday)...looking for something to eat for dinner that would have enough leftovers for me to pack into my lunchbox for our trip up to meet my mom tomorrow (today by now).  I found a dish that caught my fancy...for which I also had all the components in the pantry or fridge...and this comforting, belly-filling, heat-creeping dish was on the stove in minutes flat.  Don't ask me how many minutes...just minutes.  Minutes flat.  I guess it sounds strange to leave out the actual number if you're using that phrase.  So, we'll say... I had it on the stove in 4 minutes flat! 

Lentils and Potatoes with Curry
from HTCEV by Mark Bittman

1 c. dried brown lentils, washed and picked over
3½  c. homemade coconut milk (or water or veg stock)
1 Tbs. homemade curry powder
2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
yogurt and cilantro leaves for garnish

Combine the lentils, liquid, and curry powder in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over med-high heat. Turn heat down to med-low, so it bubbles gently, then partially cover and cook ~15 mins., until lentils start to absorb liquid a bit.

Add potatoes and cover pan completely.  Cook, undisturbed, for 10 mins. or so, then stir gently.  If lentils seem too dry, add a bit more liquid. Add some salt as the lentils become tender.

Cover and continue to cook until lentils are soft and beginning to turn to mush and potatoes are tender at center, 5-10 mins.  Add liquid if necessary...should be moist, but not soupy.  Add lots of black pepper, then stir, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Serve garnished w/ yogurt & cilantro.
 ...and yes, there was enough left over to pack into my lunch box for the roadtrip today that I'm currently on and I'm betting it's tasting even better after sitting a night.  Flavors having time to get to know each other and co-habitate and all.  The theme this week at IHCC is the way I worked that in? Ha!  It's the honest to goodness truth, though...I'm probably stuffing my face as you read this...

This post is linked to....
IHCC cookbook sundays Hey What's For Dinner MyMeatlessMondays MLLA26
*Check out past & future MLLA hosts over at The Well-Seasoned Cook!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chimichanga Dog

I admit it.  I like hot dogs.  Sometimes I flat-out crave them.  And chimichangas...well...they pretty much rock my world. So, when I saw the Chimichanga Dogs in the July/August 2010 edition of Food Network Magazine...I just knew I'd give in and make some sooner or later.  It's nice knowing yourself so well.  So, now that mama gets a few beautiful, peaceful, glorious hours to herself during the week hooray for the school year!, mama gets to do what she wants.  When she wants to.  And she even starts referring to herself as mama!?  In the third person, even.  Ooooookaaaaaaaaaay.  Mama like.  

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love waking up and walking the kids outside to wait for the bus.  Cool mornings.  Coffee in hand.  Autumn teasing.  And then.  ME TIME.  Breathe deep.  Put on the tunes. a bit.  Read, write, cook, experiment...even cleaning seems dare I say almost, no...easier.  I could do pretty much anything.  I could a movie...I could even walk around in my skivvies or less.  But, on this particular day (not's Saturday...two days ago) I decided to make a chimidog.  Not a whole families worth of chimidogs.  ONE. SINGLE. CHIMIDOG. 

Chimichanga Dogs
very slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine July/Aug. '10

hot dog
chile powder
flour tortilla
egg, beaten
Monterey Jack cheese

to serve:
sour cream 

Rub hot dog with chile powder and wrap in a flour tortilla.  

Dip in beaten egg, then dredge in flour and deep fry in 350° F vegetable oil until golden. 

Sprinkle with Monterey Jack and bake at 375° F until cheese melts.  

Top w/ salsa, sour cream, and jalapeños.
Let me just insert here that it's a good thing I only made ONE. SINGLE. CHIMIDOG. 

Because in the midst all my elation and lightness and high hopes and cooking what I wanted, when I wanted it...I came across a food that was pretty UNimpressive. Not really much flavor going on. Ah some, lose some.  Afterall, I have the whole school year to be impressed.
Friday, August 27, 2010

Ready, Steady, Cook Challenge: Main Course ...with far too long a title to list

Now on to the Main Course of my menu for the Ready, Steady, Cook! Challenge...this was the part of the meal that seemed to flow from my mind the easiest. I posted my starter yesterday in case you missed it...where you can also see my list of pantry and free items and the seven items that I was allowed when planning my menu.  I almost feel like a shmuck for using the chicken breast.  I can you screw up a breast?  BUT, I did.  I used the breast.  Can I get bonus points for at least contemplating using the livers?  Seriously, I almost made a paté...but in interest of using all of my ingredients somewhat wisely, I ended up choosing the breast.  I actually ended up adoring the presentation of the vibrant...just beckoning to be eaten outdoors on a patio here in the thick of summer.  I did wonder, though if it would be a bit too frou-frou for a manly man to feel like he could dig into.  Mexi put my mind at ease when, after setting his plate in front of him, he said MmMmm. That looks great!  Aw.  Then he proceeded to eat it.  With manly-like gusto.  And go back for seconds.  Nice.  Well, I do know my man and his tastes, so...  Since chile powder is on my list of pantry items, I decided to combine the smokey heat of chipotle chile powder with the natural sweetness of apricots.  I'm thinking this is one of my new favorite taste sensations! (All of the recipes on this page are set to serve three.)  I made a half recipe of apricot jam and divided it amongst this course and my dessert nail-biting uses all regulation ingredients.  Let's not even talk about those pesky green beans...

Grilled Chipotle Apricot Glazed Chicken Breast

3 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
~1/2 c. Apricot Jam started a night in advance using this recipe (apricots, sugar, juice of a lemon)
1/2 of a small Sweet Onion, grated
1 Tbs. Chipotle Chile Powder
salt & freshly ground pepper

Start the coals on a charcoal grill (or alternately preheat a gas grill or even a grill pan).  With the jam still warm from the stove, stir in the grated onion and chile powder.  Set aside.
Once the grill is hot and ready, season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.  You will probably want to spray the grates of the grill with a cooking spray or brush them with a bit of oil to prevent sticking and make for good grill marks.  Lay the chicken breasts down and let cook until nice grill marks form on bottom.  Flip over and brush the cooked side with a very heavy slathering of the spiced jam.  Continue to cook until the inside temperature reaches ~155° F. Flip once more and brush the tops with another good slathering of the spiced jam.  Watch closely, because the sugars in the jam will burn'll just take another couple minutes for the breast to reach ~160° which point you want to remove the chicken from the grill and let it sit for another 5 minutes or so, to let the temperature come up to about 165°.
Serve whole or sliced.
Grilled Chipotle-Apricot Glazed Chicken Breast
Smokey Apricot Salsa

3 Apricots, diced
~¼ ea. three different colors of Sweet Peppers, diced small
2 green Onions,chopped
juice of ½ a lemon
chipotle Chile powder
few leaves of fresh Basil, chiffonade or chopped

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl, using a big pinch of salt and a bigger pinch of chile powder, to taste.  Tastes best at room temperature.
Smokey Apricot Salsa
Lemon and Basil scented Couscous w/ Dried Apricots

¾ c. dry uncooked Couscous
1 c. water
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
6 dried Apricots, diced small
leaves from a sprig of basil, chopped
zest of ½ a lemon
salt & freshly ground pepper

 Bring the water and olive oil to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes.  Gently stir in the apricots, basil and lemon zest.  Season to taste w/ salt & pepper.  Serve hot.
Lemon and Basil scented Couscous w/ Dried Apricots
Sautéed Green Bean and Sweet Pepper Strips

big handful of fresh Green Beans, ends snapped, cut in ¼'s lengthwise
3 different colors Sweet Peppers (~ ½ pepper ea.), julienned
olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat a sauté pan over med-high heat.  Add a good drizzle of olive oil, then toss in the beans and peppers.  Sauté quickly until just tender.  Season to taste w/ salt & pepper.  Serve hot.
Sautéed Green Bean & Sweet Pepper strips
That's that!  To serve, plate everything together and viola!
My Ready, Steady, Cook! Main Course
...coming soon- DESSERT!


Other portions of my Ready, Steady, Cook! menu:
*Dessert see other contestants dishes, check this page
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ready, Steady, Cook Challenge: Starter Roasted Apricot & Sweet Pepper Hummus w/ cold Green Bean dippers

You know I love a challenge, right?  Well, when Lady Raven of Add to Taste announced that she was starting up a Ready, Steady, Cook! challenge...I signed up without a second thought.  Always gettin' myself in deep, huh?  Basically, each participant is assigned a list of 7 ingredients different for each participant which they then use in conjuction w/ pantry/free items to create a three course menu.  Following is a list of the Pantry & Free items...and the list of my personal 7 ingredients that I was assigned by Jessica of Tiny Oven Adventures.
I'm gonna be honest with you here...I had a really hard time fitting green beans in with my other items... Oh, I managed to do it, I'm just not sure how well I did it.  Each course is to be posted separately, so for each, I'll highlight the course I'm sharing that day.  I'm gonna go ahead and share in order...cuz I'm totally OCD like that.
Roasted Apricot & Sweet Pepper Hummus
w/ cold Green Bean dippers
from the kitchen of girlichef
yield: ~ 1½  c. hummus

~1 c. cooked Chickpeas
2 Apricots, halved & pitted
3 small Sweet Peppers
3 cloves garlic, peeled
~2 Tbs. Olive Oil
juice of 1 Lemon
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
pinch of Cumin

fresh, uncooked green beans
sea salt

Begin by "roasting" the apricot halves, sweet peppers, and garlic on a hot comal or cast iron skillet...or under a hot broiler...until charred.

In the meantime, bring a big pot of salted water to a boil.  Snap the ends of the green beans off and drop into boiling water.  Let cook just a few minutes, until al dente.  You want to be able to pick them up without having them droop.  Quickly pull out of boiling water with a slotted skimmer or strainer and transfer to an ice bath.  This will stop the cooking.  Set aside on a clean towel to dry.

Remove the roasted peppers to a bowl and cover with film.  Let steam until cool enough to handle, then slide of the skin and remove stem and seeds.

Place the chickpeas, roasted apricots, roasted garlic, and the roasted sweet peppers in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the olive oil, juice of a lemon, a good pinch or so of salt, a good grating of black pepper, and a big pinch of cumin.  Process until very smooth.  If the mixture seems a bit thick, add a tablespoon or so of water at a time until it is a good consistency for dipping.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve the hummus cold or at room temperature with the cold green beans on the side for dipping...sprinkled liberally w/ sea salt.
I love "regular" hummus...but I sincerely enjoyed the flair that the roasted apricots and sweet peppers earthy, natural sweetness that the heat and char-factor brought forward...add in my best friend garlic and you have a starter course that will get your tummy rumbling in anticipation of the next course! for my Main Course and Dessert to come soon!

My other menu portions:

*To see a list of completed challenges, check THIS PAGE...Lady Raven will be updating as courses/challengers post!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Big, Fat Puerto Rican Meal (Pavochon, Jibaritos, Spicy Piña Vinagre, Mantecadas)

When Joanne announced that Regional Recipes was traveling to Puerto Rico this month, I was so excited!  But honestly, I'm not really all that familiar with the PR branch of hispanic know I'm pretty well-versed in Mexican cuisine...but there is so much more to hispanic/latino cuisine than just Mexican.  Perhaps I'm just giving myself a push by saying it out loud.  So, I was happy to start the digging and the drooling and the searching and the wondering.  Where, oh where, would this journey deposit me? 

I ended up finding a whole meals worth of things I wanted to make in the book Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night by Daisy Martinez.  The flavors, the descriptions, the photos...I was instantly transported!  So, every single element of my big, fat, Puerto Rican meal came from this book. This post is pretty jam-packed with mouthwatering I'll stop the jawin' and let the food transport you today....

Adobo Mojado
Wet Adobo Rub
yield: ~1/2 c.

12 cloves garlic
1½ Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. black peppercorns
2 Tbs. dried oregano
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar

Place garlic cloves & salt in mortar and pound w/ pestle to a paste.  Add peppercorns and oregano, pounding each into the mix before adding the next.  Stir in the olive oil and vinegar.  Best when freshly made.

Use this peppery garlic rub to transform turkey into an irresistible meal!

Turkey Breast "Pavochon"
"Pavochon is a Puerto Rican word used to describe a turkey (pavo) seasoned and roasted like a suckling pig (lechón)."  ~Daisy
yield: ~12 svgs.

A double boneless turkey breast, skin left on
1/2 c. Adobo Mojado  see above

The first thing I had to do was bone a turkey breast...because I couldn't find one already boned anywhere!  It's easiest to use a flexible boning knife.  I just saved the bone/carcass that was left in the freezer for turkey stock.  Once you have your boneless double turkey breast w/ skin still attached...

Work from top (round end) and slip your fingers between the skin and the turkey, leaving skin attached along sides of breast.  Rub a generous amount of adobo under skin, massaging into meat.  Flip breast over and rub remaining adobo into skinless side of turkey, also.

Cut several 14" lengths of kitchen twine.  I realized too late that I didn't have any twine, so I improvised by cutting lengths of cheesecloth and twisting it into ropes.  Roll the breast up, tucking in any edges to make a tight, smooth roll.  Tie the breast securely at 1½ " intervals.  Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight
Place an oven rack in lowest position and preheat to 400° F. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and let come to room temperature while oven is preheating.  Roast for 45 minutes.  Lower oven temperature to 375° F and continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers ~150° F, ~1 hour and 15 minutes.  The temp. will continue to rise as it sits outside of oven...reaching ultimate goal of 160-165° F. Remove and let stand for 20-30 mins. before carving.

Remove the twine and slice the turkey breast at a slighty angle into ¼" thick slices.

This is some of THE best turkey I've ever tasted in my life.  I think it was key leaving it to marinate overnight.  This was awesome eating just out of hand once it was sliced.

BUT, you cannot begin to imagine how double-awesome it was once it was added as a component in the Jibarito!

"Jibarito is a termof endearment in Puerto represents people who are the heart and soul of Puerto Rico."  This awesome sandwich is made with slices of fried plantain in place of bread.
yield: 2 sandwiches

2 green plantains
oil for frying
4 thickish slices Swiss Cheese
1 1/2 c. leftover thinly sliced Pavochon  see above
4 dill pickle slices  garlic dill
4 thin slices deli ham
2 Tbs. deli mustard

Peel the plantains.  Carefully cut them in half lengthwise.  Pour 1" oil into a large skillet and heat over medium until ~325° F.  Fry the platain halves, turning once, until they are tender when poked w/ the tip of a knife, but only just starting to brown, ~5 mins.  Remove and drain on paper towels until cool enogh to handle.  Lay still warm platain half flat side down on sturdy surface.  Pound w/ a flat-bottomed heavy skillet to an even thickness of ~¼".  Repeat w/ remaining halves.  Reheat oil over medium high until oil is ~375°F.  Fry the flattened plantains, turning once, until crisp and golden brown, ~5 mins.
Preheat a  sandwich or panini press.  Tear or cut the slices of cheese as necessary to cover two of the flattened plantain halves.  Top the cheese on each with an evenlayer of the turkey, then a layer of sliced pickle and 2 slices of ham.  Spread the mustard over the ham and top w/ two remaining plantain halves.  Cook in a sandwich or panini press until cheese is melted and centers are warmed through.  Cut in half and serve immediately. 
I drizzled it with Spicy Pineapple Vinegar (see below)...absolute insanity.  I cannot describe how fabulous this is.  The plantains turned bread were so rockin'!

Spicy Pineapple Vinegar
yield: ~4 c.

"A bottle of this spicy condiment is found on every table of every fonda in Puerto Rico.  It is, easily, more popular than ketchup."  ~Daisy

2 ripe pineapples
1/2 lg. Spanish onion, thinly sliced
20 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
6 habañero chiles, stemmed & coarsely chopped
1 Tbs. cider vinegar, plus more as needed
1 Tbs. smashed fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt, plus more as needed

Peel the pineapples and set aside the peel for use.  Save the pineapple for eating or use in something else.  Put rinds in a pot large enough to hold them comfortably, pour in enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Adjust heat so liquid is at a gentle boil and cook until rinds are very tender, ~30 mins.  If water dips below rinds, top off as necessary to keep them submerged.

Meanwhile, put onion, garlic, chiles, vinegar. oregano, peppercorns, and salt in a large jar (or two smaller) w/ tight fitting lid.  Strain pineapple liquid into large measuring cup or bowl.  Pour into the jar of seasonings. Taste and add a little salt or vinegar if you think it needs it.  Can be used as soon as it cools, but will get better as it sits.  Keep in fridge for up to 2 months.
We finished off the meal with a simple plate of cookies and some strong coffee...
Puerto Rican Shortbread Cookies
yield:~30 cookies
slightly adapted

2 c. AP flour
1 c. almond flour
1/3 c. sugar
pinch salt
8 oz. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 XL eggs  I used 3 lg. eggs, well beaten
~2/3 c. guava (or any) jelly  I used mango butter and strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line 2 baking sheets w/ parchment.  Stir together flours, sugar and salt in medium bowl.  Add butter and work into dry ingredients w/ your fingertips until there is almost no trace of the butter left.  Dough should be loose and crumbly.  Add eggs and stir until dough is smooth and no longer crumbly.

Using 1 level Tbs. for each, roll dough into balls and set ~1½" apart on prepared baking sheets.  Press down firmly on center of each dough ball w/ your thumb to flatten it out and create a deep well.  Spoon ~½ tsp. jelly into each well.  Bake until cookies are very pale golden around edges, ~25 mins.

We absolutely loved every minute of our Big, Fat, Puerto Rican Meal!! Be sure to head over to Regional Recipes to check out what Puerto Rican recipes everybody else ventured into this, you have til the end of the month to join in the PR fun!