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Monday, September 14, 2020

Melanie's Green Chile Stew

Late summer and early fall bring an unmistakable and delicious aroma to New Mexico when the chile harvest is roasted in gas cylinder roasters at roadside stands, markets, and supermarkets. It's one of the best things about living in New Mexico and I've missed it this year since I'm home more. However, I was able to purchase chile curbside from a grocery store and roasted them on my grill so I didn't totally miss out on the pleasant smell of roasted chile. This soup is from my sister-in-law who is a native New Mexican with special thanks from my brother Sam who gave me his copy of the recipe. 



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Melanie's Green Chile Stew


This is one of those home recipes with a good deal of latitude about ingredient amounts, especially with the green chile. Chile can come mild, medium, or hot and people come with varying abilities to tolerate the heat. The original recipe calls for at least a cup and a half of chopped green chile. While the heat is an important aspect of this soup, the flavor of the chile is paramount in my mind. If you are like me, a bit of a wimp when faced with high heat, you should look for mild chile. Stir in a little at a time and taste as you go. I know from experience there's nothing quite like the dismayed look on the faces of a table full of hungry folks who can't eat what you cooked for them. 

 As for potatoes, I think a waxy potato is best, but if you don't mind a russet falling apart while cooking go ahead and use a baking potato. 

2 pds ground beef
1-2 onions, depending on size
salt and pepper to taste
several cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 quarts chicken broth
4-6 potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
green or Hatch chile, see note above--stir in a little at a time, tasting as you go
1 T ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
mexican oregano
bay leaf

Brown the ground beef with the onions. When the onions are translucent and the beef is browned, add the garlic and cook for just a minute. Add the broth. Stir in the potatoes, chile, spices and herbs. Cook until the potatoes are done. Serve with flour tortillas, or corn, if you prefer. Chopped epazote as a garnish is delicious but not everyone can lay their hands on it.

Note: 

I suppose you could substitute poblano chile for the Hatch, or New Mexican chile and this would still be good but it wouldn't be quite the same. New Mexican chile is becoming more available all the time and I've heard of it being sold in Utah, Colorado, and Virginia, so I imagine it is being introduced other places as well. Hoping you can try it with the real thing sometime.  


Grilled Corn Salad

Although this was featured on the Mexican cooking show, Pati's Mexican Table, it doesn't seem exclusively Mexican. I'm certain this salad could be used for a number of other cuisines by changing the herbs or adding other vegetables. I think this would be great with basil or oregano to accompany an Italian meal  The next time I have it with Mexican, I'm going to use epazote or Mexican oregano  instead of the mint and chives.






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Grilled Corn Salad


Adapted from Pati Jinich's recipe
Serves 6-8

4-6 ears of corn (I found 4 large ears to be sufficient) equaling 6-7 c of corn kernels
10 scallions (or substitute yellow onion slices, chop after grilling)
5 T olive oil
1 1/2 pds cherry tomatoes
1 teas kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 T red wine vinegar
1/4 c chopped or torn mint
1/4 c chopped chives, garlic chives if you have them


Remove the husks from the corn and rinse and dry. Heat a grill or a cast iron grill pan on your stovetop. When warm, cook the ears of corn for about 20 minutes until they are charred and cooked through. Remove from the grill and add the scallions and grill until charred. Watch these carefully or consider turning down the grill heat since they can over cook easily. Set aside.  When you are able to handle the corn, cut the kernels off each cob and cut the scallions in one-inch pieces. Place in a salad bowl. These can be refrigerated for a couple of days before you serve the salad if needed.

Place the 5 T olive oil into a large skillet and heat over medium high to high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have released some of their juices and, if you like, continue cooking until the tomatoes have begun to char. I didn't do this because I wanted all the released tomato juice and didn't want it to burn in the skillet.

 Stir the vinegar into the corn and scallion mix. Add the tomatoes and the juice and oil to the salad. Stir gently. Add the mint and chives and stir once more. Serve.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Chicken with Black-eyed Peas and Cherry Tomatoes

As we approach the end of summer, my garden-based meals start to reflect heartiness often found in fall and winter dishes. I credit the harvest of my black-eyed peas. This recipe is one that can be enjoyed all year round. 



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Chicken with Black-eyed Peas and Cherry Tomatoes


Source: Christian Science Monitor which adapted a Bon App├ętit recipe for sausage
Serves 6-8

4 pieces bacon, cut in quarter inch slices
8 bone-in chicken pieces (if using breasts, cut them in half)
salt and pepper
1 rounded teas dried thyme, divided (or 1 T fresh thyme)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c dry white wine
1 11-oz or 12-oz frozen shelled black eyed peas, thawed (about 2 cups)
8 oz fresh green beans, trimmed
8-10 oz cherry tomatoes, halved if large

Place the bacon into a nonstick skillet or saute pan and cook until the fat is rendered and it is as crisp as you like. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon and hold until later.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and half of the dried thyme. (If you're using fresh thyme don't add it at this point.) Place the chicken in the pan and cook over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on both sides. Move chicken to a plate or half sheet pan. Remove some of the bacon fat leaving a couple of tablespoons in the pan. 

Cook the onion slices until translucent. Add the garlic and the rest of the dried thyme and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil and add the broth. Stir in the black-eyed peas until combined.

Return the chicken pieces to the pan as well as the juices that accumulated while set aside. Reduce the heat and cover the pan and cook until the black-eyed peas are beginning to become tender, around 15-20 minutes. Stir in the green beans and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until heated about 5 more minutes. The tomatoes should begin to split and the broth should be thickening, If you are using fresh thyme, now is the time to add it. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper if necessary.

While the black-eyed peas and vegetables are cooking, it's a good idea to check the temperature of the chicken pieces. With a probe thermometer make sure the breast pieces are at 165F and the thighs and legs are at 175F. If the chicken reaches the target temperatures, remove and set on a plate while everything else cooks. Replace in the pan and warm the chicken before serving with the chicken placed on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle the reserved bacon over all. 

Serve the chicken on top of the vegetables and black-eyed peas.

Notes: 

You can shell your own black-eyed peas in season if you wish. Aim for about 2 cups of fresh shell peas.

If you prefer to skip the wine, increase the broth to 3 cups and just before serving the dish stir in a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar.

If you are cooking this when available green beans are substandard, I think you could experiment with subbing other vegetables, such as halved brussels sprouts (although you might need a larger pan since they don't have the slim lines of a green bean). 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Peach Drop Biscuits

I look forward to Saturday mornings this time of year. Usually I forgo sleeping in to visit two local farmers markets, and upon arriving back home I gleefully show my purchases to my family. They are typically unimpressed. In fact, only a few people understand the joy that big farmers' market hauls bring to me--but that doesn't lessen my delight one bit!

This year, though, I have opted to stay home to avoid crowds. I have discovered a couple of workable alternatives, and between my half-CSA share, a farm stand, and a weekly farm delivery order option I have managed to enjoy many of my normal harvest-time fruits and veggies. I visited the farm stand about a week ago, and came home with a half-bushel of peaches, a quarter-bushel of pears, and an eighth-bushel of pluots. It was too much, really, but I just couldn't help myself. So, I was suddenly baking peach goodies whenever I had time. 

The texture of this "biscuit" is lovely. Crusty on the outside but tender on the inside. I even used it as a base for peach shortcake one night. 


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Peach Drop Biscuits

Yields 12 biscuits (I doubled it for my big family, so halve it if you don't need this many)
Adapted minimally from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1021175-strawberry-drop-biscuits

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c granulated sugar
8 teas baking powder
12 T cold salted butter, but into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/3 c peaches, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 c heavy cream, divided
1/2 c powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 425F, and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Stir the pieces of butter into the mixture, just to coat the butter. Then work the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the pieces of butter are no larger than a pea. 

Add the peaches, and stir gently. Add 1/2 c cream and 1/2 c water, then toss with a fork until the dough is just wet. If the dough is still too dry, add a couple of teaspoons water. 

Drop the dough in generous 1/3 c amounts onto sheets, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of space between each mound. Brush the tops with 2 T cream before baking for about 15 minutes. The biscuits should be golden brown. Place the biscuits on a wire rack to cool.

As soon as the biscuits come out of the oven, whisk the powdered sugar with the remaining 2 T cream. This should make a thick icing. Drizzle the icing over the warm biscuits, and enjoy. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Pork Chops with Salted Plums

One of the best things about summer is having fruits with meat. This summer has been more challenging for getting fruits and sometimes what I get is less that the best. This recipe is a good one for plums that come from a grocery store instead of a market or a backyard.



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Pork Chops with Salted Plums


Source:  Alison Roman in New York Times Cooking
Serves 4

Since I'm currently not going to my regular butcher and instead take what I get in a curbside pickup, I learned this recipe works with a thinner pork chop, too. I didn't brine the thinner chops but I was careful not to overcook them--I had to ignore timing recommendations. Thin chops might benefit from a brine, especially if you keep the salt and fish sauce lower in the plums. I did not slice these chops but served them whole.


2 bone-in thick pork chops (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick, about 1 1/2 pounds in weight)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pd medium  slightly under-ripe plums, pitted and sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c unseasoned rice wine vinegar or fresh lime juice, plus more, if needed
1/2 teas fish sauce (optional, but tasty)
1 T vegetable oil
1 c fresh mint leaves
olive oil, for drizzling

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper and set aside.

Place the plums and onion slices in a bowl and toss with the vinegar and fish sauce. Add a bit of salt and pepper and taste a plum. It should taste tangy and salty. If it doesn't, add more vinegar and salt. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the pork chops when hot and cook. Keep the chops in place for 4-6 minutes and don't move until well browned. Flip the chops and continue to cook until this side is browned about 3-5 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer you may want to use it here. I found that these recommended times resulted in quite pink meat. USDA and the National Pork Board recommend cooking to 145F in addition to a 3-minute rest. 

Remove from heat and place the chops on a cutting board. Allow them to rest while you briefly cook the plum and onions in the same skillet. Toss the mix and try to scrape up the fond and cook only long enough to wilt the onion. 

The author of this recipe instructs cooks to slice thick pork chops and serve with the plum mixture, topping the pork slices with the mint and drizzling with olive oil just before serving. This works tolerably well with very thick pork chop but it leaves the bone and bits of the chop languishing on the cutting board. But, as I mentioned above, thinner chops can be substituted. 

Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust

This recipe uses a technique which was new to me, except in hot pudding cakes. On first glance it appears it won't work. But this cobbler sports a lovely, crisp topping.





Unless you are serving a large group, I recommend you half this recipe and bake in an 8X8 pan. The cobbler is best right after baking and for a day or two afterwards; any longer and the topping will lose its crunch.

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Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust


No modifications were made for altitude and it turned out great.

Adapted from Food52.com
Serves 10 or more

10 large ripe peaches (about 4 1/2 pds), pitted but not peeled and cut into chunks about an inch in size
1 large lemon
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
2 c sugar, divided
1 1/2 c AP flour
2 teas baking powder
1 teas kosher salt (or 1/2 teas table salt)
3/4 c whole milk
1/2 c hot water
Heavy cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle

Place the peaches in a buttered 9X13 baking dish. Using a microplane, zest the lemon evenly over the fruit. Squeeze the lemon and drizzle 1/4 cup of the juice over the fruit as well.

Cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar on medium for a minute or so, until it is creamy but sandy. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and on medium speed, beat until incorporated and all is crumbly (30 seconds or more). Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Slowly pour in the milk while the mixer is on low speed. Beat a couple of minutes until the batter is light and fluffy.

Use a large spoon or the rubber spatula to drop 6 large portions of the mix over the peaches. (Make sure you get all the batter.) Carefully spread the batter with an offset spatula so that all the fruit is covered. Try to spread it evenly so that it is all about 1/2 inch thick overall.

Take the remaining half cup of sugar and sprinkle it evenly over the batter. In a small stream, drizzle the sugar topped batter with the hot water which will melt the sugar.

Place the pan on top of a large baking sheet and place both in the oven. Bake the cobbler until the top is crackly and golden brown, about 70-80 minutes. Use a toothpick to test; it will come out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Check in several spots.

Allow the cobbler to cool for about 30 minutes. Serve it warm with the cream poured over the top. If you have leftovers, cover and refrigerate.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Ratatouille

This vegetable stew is one of my favorite things to eat in late summer when I have an abundance of vegetables in my garden. But it can be cooked any time if you choose to use canned tomatoes.

The author of this recipe utilizes a method that keeps all the flavors fresh tasting by keeping the parts separated a bit while cooking so it doesn't turn into a mushy mess.

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Ratatouille


Source:  The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook by Kim O'Donnel
Serves: 6

1 large globe eggplant (about a pound) or 3 thinner Asian eggplants
salt for leaching eggplant
5 T olive oil, divided
2 medium onions sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
3 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and julienned (about 2 1/2 c)
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow or green zucchini, cut into half moons (about 2 1/2 c)
ground black pepper
6 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 3 c) or 1 (28-oz) can plum tomatoes
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teas dried
1 teas dried oregano
chopped fresh basil and/or parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Dice the eggplant into half-inch cubes (about 5-6 c). Sprinkle with salt and place on a rack or in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. (This leaching step is not required but it will reduce liquid.)

With a towel pat the eggplant dry. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 T of the olive oil. Toss and spread into a single layer. Put the eggplant in the hot oven and roast for 15 minutes until the eggplant browns and shrinks substantially. Take it out of the oven and set aside.

You'll need a large skillet as well as a large lidded saucepan or Dutch oven which you can keep on a burner on the lowest warm setting.

Heat another 2 T oil in the skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions until tender and stir in the peppers with a generous pinch of salt. Cook until the peppers are soft.

Add half the garlic and stir for a minute and transfer all from the skillet to the Dutch oven (or saucepan).

In the skillet heat 1 T olive oil over medium-high heat and add the zucchini and some salt and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is tender but still retains its color. Add the remaining garlic; cook for a minute and then add the mixture to the Dutch oven. Stir the vegetables together.

Chop or mash the tomatoes with a potato masher so they are broken up. Add them to the vegetables along with the thyme and oregano. Stir in the eggplant. This mixture will be thick but as the tomatoes release liquid it will loosen up. If it remains thicker than you like add a few tablespoons of water. Raise the temperature to medium-low and mix the ingredients well. Cover and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes until heated through. Taste for seasonings and remove herb sprigs. Serve.

This can be served with couscous, quinoa, or orzo. Crusty bread would be great, too.

Note:

If you can't entertain the idea of heating your late summer kitchen with a 450F oven, you can pan-roast the eggplant before you start cooking everything else. Heat the olive oil in your large skillet (can be nonstick if you prefer) over medium high heat and cook the eggplant after leaching and patting dry. Stir from time to time so it doesn't scorch and cook until browned and tender. Set aside in a bowl. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and begin cooking the onions as instructed above.

If I'm in a rush, I'll employ more than one skillet and cook onions and zucchini at the same time but in separate pans and you'll be able to control how "done" each vegetable becomes. This will speed preparation somewhat but will make for more pans to wash, of course.