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Monday, February 8, 2016

Black Olive Tapenade

This is a tasty olive spread that originated in Provence. It makes for a great appetizer when spread on bread or crackers or used as a dip with vegetables. Leftovers won't go to waste because it can also can be used as a rub for baked chicken, mixed into boiled potatoes, as a base for a vinaigrette or stirred into a bunch of spaghetti.




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Black Olive Tapenade


Plan ahead since this should sit in the refrigerator for 18 hours before using. 

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

1/3 c raw pine nuts, (don't toast them, please)
1 1/2 brine-cured pitted kalamata olives
1/2 c salt-cured black olives (also pitted)
3 T capers, rinsed and drained
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
2 teas Dijon mustard
1/2 garlic clove
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Process the pine nuts in food processor until they become a paste. The nuts will begin to adhere to the side of the processor bowl and avoid the blade. You'll need to scrape down the side and run the processor a second and third time until the nuts become a mostly smooth paste.

Redistribute the paste in the processor bowl and add the olives, capers, anchovies, mustard and garlic. Pulse the processor until very finely chopped, about 15 pulses. Halfway through, scrape down the sides. Remove the mixture from the food processor to a bowl and stir in the olive oil.

Refrigerate for 18 hours or up to 2 weeks. It's best to allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

Note:

You may have difficulty finding salt-cured olives. I got mine at a Whole Foods olive bar. These olives aren't resting in a brine and look wrinkled.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Tom's Quick Chipotle Chicken Tacos

At the cabin a few years ago, Tom was in charge of the meal and prepared a taco extravaganza. This was one of the favorite fillings and everyone wished they'd taken better notes that day. At a recent visit at my dad's I looked through my mom's old recipe files and found Tom's instructions. I want to make sure any of us can find them again.



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Tom's Quick Chipotle Chicken Tacos


Source: Rick Bayless, but not sure which book
Serves:  8 or more 

4-5 c cooked and roughly shredded chicken (this is what a rotisserie chicken yields)
1 28-oz can tomatoes, drained
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped 
1-2 chipotle chiles en adobo, depending on preferred spiciness 
1 T adobo sauce from the can
2 T oil, vegetable or olive, your preference
salt to taste

Place tomatoes, garlic, chiles, and adobo sauce to a blender and process until smooth.

Heat oil in a large sauce pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato mixture and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. When it is slightly thickened add salt to taste, start with a half teas.

Add the chicken and heat through. Taste again for seasoning. You can add more chipotle, either the chiles (finely chopped), or the sauce if you want it more spicy.

Serve on hot tortillas (corn is best) with diced avocados, onion, cilantro, and queso fresco, if you have it. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pear and Almond Baked Oatmeal

I've fallen in love with baked oatmeal this winter. It's warm, comforting, and often sweet, but I don't feel guilty because of all the healthy ingredients. Plus, baking on the weekend or a day off leads to leftovers for several days. The almond extract makes this recipe particularly attractive.



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Pear and Almond Baked Oatmeal


Source: Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-off Meals Straight From the Oven by Molly Gilbert

The original recipe called for baking the oatmeal on a sheet pan--which would be great for a big group, but is too much for just me. (My boys haven't discovered the joys of baked oatmeal yet.) I halved the recipe here, but if you're feeding a crowd, double this and cook it in a sheet pan.

Oatmeal:
2 c rolled oats
1/2 c sliced or slivered almonds
1 teas baking powder
1 1/4 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas ginger
1/4 teas nutmeg
1/2 teas kosher salt
2 c unsweetened almond milk or other milk
1/4 c maple syrup
1 large egg
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
1/2 teas almond extract

Topping:
2 Bartlett pears
1 T dark brown sugar
1/4 teas cinnamon
1/4 c sliced or slivered almonds
1 1/2 T unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Mix together the oats, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.

In another bowl, or a quart liquid measuring container, melt the butter and let it cool slightly. Then whisk in the almond milk, maple syrup, egg, and almond extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the oat mixture until combined. Place the oatmeal in the prepared 9x13 pan, and spread out using a spatula.

Slice the pears about 1/4 inch thick and cut out cores and stems. Place the pear slices on the top of the oatmeal. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds together in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the pears. Melt the butter and drizzle it over the topping and pears.

Bake 35-40 minutes, until pears are soft and oatmeal pulls away from the side. Serve with a little milk and maple syrup drizzled over the top.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Black-eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

Though time is quickly passing, it is still the beginning of the new year, and you have a chance to get your portion of good-luck bearing black-eyed peas by making this flavorful and filling vegetable soup. Apparently in some locales cabbage represents good luck, too, so you'll increase your chances (see this article for background).

I'm just crazy about black-eyed peas and I have a lot in my freezer, thanks to how well the plants produce each summer. This recipe, however, calls for dried peas which will be easier for most cooks to find. It is easy to modify and use frozen or fresh black-eyed peas.






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Black-eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup


Adapted from: Slate Magazine
Serves: 12

This soup makes enough for a large crowd but can be frozen or it can be halved. If you have trouble locating Savoy cabbage, substitute regular cabbage.

Cooking times are for sea-level locations. If you are at higher altitudes, everything will take longer depending where you are cooking. Plan on this difference and start earlier. 

The author mentions a texture boosting technique she learned from Mark Bittman which requires saving some of the aromatics to add later. If you are short on time, you may cook all the onions, carrots, and celery at the same time and it will still taste great.

1 pd dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
3/4 to 1 teas salt
2/3 c olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled or scrubbed and chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/4 teas freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium head Savoy cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped, thick stems removed (at least 1/2 c)
1 28-oz can tomatoes, whole and squished with a potato masher or by hand
2 bay leaves
water
grated Parmesan cheese, optional 

Place the black-eyed peas on a large pot and cover with water to a depth or 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and keep at a gentle simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook until the peas are mostly tender, 30-40 minutes. Season with about a teaspoon of salt. Set aside. (If necessary you may cool and refrigerate them in their cooking liquid and finish this soup after a day or two.)

Pour half the oil into a Dutch-oven or a large deep pot over medium-high heat. Add about half the onions, carrots, and celery and stirring now and then cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat if necessary to keep from scorching the vegetables. Add the rest of the oil and the remaining aromatics. Season with salt and pepper and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Stir in the garlic, cabbage, 2/3 of the parsley (roughly), and bay leaves, and cook for 7 minutes until the cabbage is softened.

Add the black-eyed peas and their liquid and the tomatoes. Stir until everything is combined. Add some water until it is stew-like but not overly watery. Cover, bring to a boil then reduce the heat so the soup keeps simmering. Cook until the cabbage is very tender, 20-30 minutes. Before serving taste it for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese and parsley.

Note: 

If you have frozen or fresh black-eyed peas, I used a half pound of peas from my freezer and simmered them for about 45 minutes. Taste to see if they are mostly tender and, if so, add acording to the recipe.

The next time I make this soup, I am going to add one of the rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that I have in my freezer. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Packets

During the zucchini season I tried this dish and found it a pleasing way to help deal with an abundance of the vegetable. This can be cooked any time of year, however, since store-bought zucchini is still good. The dish is quick and can be prepared ahead of time and pulled from the refrigerator to cook on a busy evening.


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Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Packets


Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 2 (multiply the recipe for more servings)

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 T butter, cut into half-inch pieces
1/2 teas dried dill weed or a sprig of fresh dill
2 lemon slices, halved, plus 4 teas fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 skinless salmon fillet (6-8 oz)

Set oven to 350F and preheat. Prepare 2 large pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil (approximately 15 by 16 inches) by folding them to crease and then opening to lay them flat. 

For each serving mound half of the zucchini on the center of one half of the paper. Top with half the shallots, butter, some of the dill, and the lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper. Set one fillet on top of a mound. Drizzle each with 2 teas lemon juice and sprinkle with the remaining dill weed and salt and pepper.

Fold the other side of the parchment over the mound and make small, overlapping pleats to seal the open sides. Make each into half moon shaped packets and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. (If you use foil, try to leave an air pocket rather than wrapping tightly.) Bake for 15-19 minutes until salmon is mostly opaque. Since the salmon is inside the packet I found this hard to test. One can use an instant read thermometer (145 is target temperature) right through the paper into the thickest part of the salmon and return to the oven if needed. 

You may serve this in the packet so everything stays warm and you'll enjoy a sensory surprise when the steamy package is opened. But a big piece of parchment paper may be hard to deal with on a dinner plate so alternatively you may cut a slit in the paper packet and use a spatula to transfer everything to plates (foil can be easily pulled apart). 

See these videos for a good description of how to cook "en papillote" (the French term for paper packet cooking): http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/inside-our-kitchen/article/how-to-fold-parchment-paper-to-cook-en-papillote or http://www.finecooking.com/videos/fish-in-parchment.aspx


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Chorizo Burgers

These burgers are a creation of a chef who has come to USA from Mexico and has successfully combined the two cuisines in these burgers. I'm particularly happy to have access to this recipe since his restaurants are too far away for me. I tried this out when Ty and Andrea were here during the holidays. We all loved the burgers and feel that they compare favorably to Pork Burgers which are a family favorite. Some of us couldn't pick which we like best.



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Chorizo Burgers


Adapted from:  Pati Jinich via Rodrigo Albarran-Torres
Serves: 5

hamburger buns or bolillos, toasted if you like

Burgers:

1 slice white bread, crusts removed and crumbled
2 T milk
1 1/4 pd ground beef
3/4 pd Mexican chorizo
1/2  onion, chopped
3/4 teas black pepper
3/4 teas salt
1/4 teas cumin
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c water

Garnishes:

at least 5 slices bacon, halved and cooked
pepper jack cheese
tomato slices
red onion slices
leaf lettuce
salsa or chipotle mayo (see below)

With a fork mix bread and milk in the bottom of a large bowl to make a panade (a paste). Add the beef and chorizo and mix well. In a blender place the onions, salt and pepper, cumin, garlic, and water. Blend well and pour into the meat mixture. Form into burger patties, making sure to leave an indentation right in the middle . If you are using bolillos, you may want to make the burgers oval in shape rather than round.

Cook the burgers in a skillet, grill pan, grill, or under a broiler until you reach desired temperature. The panade should keep the burgers juicy if you choose to cook the meat until safely well done.

Let burgers sit for 5 minutes after cooking so juices redistribute.

Prepare buns with garnishes and build your burgers. Enjoy!

Chipotle Mayo:

1 c mayonnaise
1/4 to 1 whole chipotle pepper from chipotle chiles in adobo sauce chopped finely or use sauce to taste

Mix together in a small bowl.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Raspberry Butter

Not everyone has a plethora of raspberries in their freezer, I know, but if you happen to have some on hand try this delicious spread. I bet it would work well with other berries, too.


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Raspberry Butter


Adapted from Food52 http://food52.com/recipes/13134-raspberry-butter

3/4 c raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 c butter, softened
2 1/2 T powdered sugar

Smash berries in a small bowl with the back of a spoon. (If using frozen berries, thaw or defrost them first.)

If you need to soften the butter, heat it in the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds.

Mix the berries, butter, and sugar together with a spoon. The level of incorporation will depend on the softness of the butter. I like to melt the butter slightly so it will mix better, but play with it and see what consistency you prefer.

Serve on bread, rolls, etc.