Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Give Me Some Sauce Tuesday or Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas

 This is the whole enchilada. Well, not really. One could write a book with a recipe each day for a different enchilada. There are beef enchiladas and chicken enchiladas. Cheese enchiladas (my fave) and black bean enchiladas. New Mexican enchiladas, Tex-Mex enchiladas...  I have a recipe for a shitake enchilada that I can't wait to try. Cover them with red chile or green chile, mole or a suiza sauce and the list could go on forever. Just like Italian families have the family sauce recipe or the lasagne recipe, Mexican families have the enchilada recipe. And those are the Mexican families. It appears that enchiladas are different in Nicauragua and Guatemala and the Honduras. See what I mean? You could write a book on the variety of enchiladas and oh, now there's an idea... Then I could travel to each place to check them out, don't you know? You could all invite me in for your favorite enchilada meal. Wouldn't that be fun, FUN?

So today's recipe is New Mexican stacked enchiladas with red chile sauce.  I love New Mexico and haven't been there in so long. I miss you New Mexico; I really do. I love New Mexico in the fall when the air is crisp and it smells like roasting chilies. I love buying them fresh out of the roaster and slapping them into a homemade tortilla because there always seems to be a lady making fresh tortillas nearby. (And kind of way back when, that is how enchiladas got started. It appears one took whatever was available, like  little fish, and wrapped a tortilla around them.) I love seeing the colorful ristras

and GOD, don't even get me started on the art galleries. 

Where was I?  OK, I know I'm cheating here because I've already given you the red chile recipe. Now go read it and that covers sauce Tuesday. (Hey, it's my blog and I can do what I want!) Becca and I made these and they were goodawesome, spectacular! Now the pictures may look good or not, so you will have to take my word for it, and as my father tends to say...all Mexican food looks alike so it doesn't matter what you order. Well, it does matter, Dad. And enchiladas are one of my favorites in a Mexican restaurant, unless I am feeling skinny, which means I can order a fried chimichanga or relleno. Hmmmm. That hasn't been in like centuries.

Enchilar means adding chile to... and this is what we did. The red sauce was almost mole like, but so much simpler. It is a rich red sauce because of the combination of chile powders used. That gives the sauce strength, notice I said strength, not spiciness. Red chile can go either way on the heat scale. Green chile often tends to be much hotter in my opinion. Now you could do your enchiladas Christmas style and serve them smothered with both red and green, but since green chilies haven't yet arrived in the markets, we stuck with red. 

Becca wanted chicken so I showed her my handy, dandy, simple as pie (who came up with that expression?) recipe. The smell coming out of the oven is intoxicating and if you aren't careful you may eat all the chicken before it gets to the enchilada. The rabbit catcher loves this recipe and I make it countless ways seasoned in whatever flavor I feel like. (Think Italian, please.) This chicken or beef  means he has lots to eat in the fridge. You can make it in big batches and freeze it in smaller portions, if you please. You can turn it into sloppy joe or add it to pasta or eat it on a sandwich. Add bbq sauce or make it into chicken salad.  Throw some on a salad and you have a full meal. Put it in tacos, or on quesadillas. Come on, help me out here.

This is a recipe without measurements! But I know you can do it. And you can switch it around with whatever seasonings you want. You will like this or else! If you have a family you can make a giant batch and have it for the week; school lunches, family dinners, snacks, etc. This is perfect for all!

One thing I found when making enchiladas is that they are not good made ahead and kept in the refrigerator. They get soggy, so bake them right away. Ours were broiled but if they were just cheese I would have baked them to get the cheese to melt. Enchiladas are made to be eaten right away! New Mexican enchiladas are stacked, not rolled, which I think makes them easier to assemble. It does help to have two sets of hands and Becca's worked great. Now one more thing about New Mexican enchiladas...they like to be topped with a fried egg. Rabbit catcher loves his fried eggs but I didn't do that with these. But don't forget this. They make a perfect meal more perfect. That is if you like fried eggs!

I think that's about it. My mind must be in New Mexico because I keep losing my train of thought. Some things just do that to you, don't they?  Just as these enchiladas do. They are good for making memories. And memories sustain me many days, even though enchiladas taste like, WAY better! Than memories, that is! There is a saying in Mexico. "This is no enchilada", meaning this (whatever it is-like my life!) is not so simple. Well, enchiladas are simple and that's a good thing.

Please Pin and Share:

Click here for a Few More:
Breakfast Burritos
Corn and Green Chile Quesadillas
Green Chile
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

New Mexican Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile

(serves 6)

1 recipe of red chile sauce 

Red Chile sauce should be kept warm. I made this with chicken broth to give it more flavor. If it gets too thick, add more broth. Enchilada sauce should be on the thin side. Ancho chile powder gives the sauce the rich chocolate taste. That's a good thing, don't you know?

Baked Mexican Chicken Breasts or Thighs

I used 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts. This gave me leftovers of chicken that made the rabbit catcher happy. Some people prefer dark meat and say they give more flavor. They also doesn't dry out as fast. I'll leave this choice up to you!


Garlic Powder, Salt, Cumin, Oregano, Chile Powder, Smoked Paprika
1 c pickled jalapenos and 1 c of pickling juice or fresh lime juice
Chicken broth or beer
Canned green chilies

I go easy on the cumin and paprika, but other than that...Lay your chicken in a 13x9 baking dish. Season well on both sides. The chicken should just be peeking through all those seasonings. Cover with some jalapenos and the green chilies. Pour jalapeno pickling juice and broth or beer around the chicken until it comes up about half the depth of the chicken. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Let soak in liquid until cool enough to shred with your fingers. (No way around this, folks.) Shred chicken into the liquid. Let sit at least an hour until chicken has soaked up as much liquid as it can. Chicken can then be taken out and saved for enchiladas or other things. I keep it on the moist side, but not wet! If you have leftover liquid you can pour some of into your red chile to give it more flavor.  Just don't make it too thin.

I added a bit of grated cotija and finely chopped white onions to the shredded chicken and used that for my enchiladas. When I'm ready to make the enchiladas I heat this up in the microwave so that it's hot. Use about 1/3 c of this shredded chicken per layer.

18 Corn Tortillas for 6 servings

Mexican Crema (This is so good and different than American sour cream but that is OK, too. I also found out that I can buy other Central American varieties of crema at my local Mexican carniceria!)
Cotija or Feta Cheese Grated
Finely Chopped White Onion

Assembling Enchiladas:

Heat your red chile on low in a skillet. Take one corn tortilla and slide it through the  red chile (I use my fingers or you can use a spatula. Tongs tended to tear the tortilla.)  Place on a baking sheet. Cover this with 1/3 c of warmed chicken mixture. Top with another soaked tortilla. Add another 1/3 c of chicken. Top with one more soaked tortilla. Sprinkle with cotija. Assemble 5 more just like this and place under preheated broiler until cheese melts.

While cheese is melting, take out 6 plates and put a good spoonful of chile on each plate. When tortillas are done, place one stack on each plate. Top with another good spoon of red chile, dollop with crema, and sprinkle with minced onion. Put on some music and drift away.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Coconut Rum Tres Leches Cake and A Special Request

 I'm really good at special requests. And they make me feel so special. I mean no one asks you to do something unless they think you can do it- right?  And that, to me, is flattering. I get it all the time in my small business because all I do is custom work. Now that wedding season is upon us I am doing lots of custom gifts for people needing special gifts. Generally, I take their wedding invitation and turn it into a special one of a kind plate that can be functional or decorative. I do lots of other accessories too and I love the compliments I get when someone is happy.

I made this!

And this, too! And many more...
But this request was a bit out of the ordinary. And it was special because it came from the 16 year old daughter of a close friend of mine. I mean I've known Becca since she was still in her mom's tummy, so that is a pretty long time in my book. Anyway Becca, who has a million and one things to do to keep her busy, asked  if she could cook with me. Talk about flattery. Becca, you are now my favorite, over your older sister even though I have known your older sister longer. Obviously!

Well, Becca and I had a fabulous time which I think made her mother very happy, too. Becca wanted to make my  avocado corn soup so we did that which helped settle us in to a Mexican menu. We had loads of fun while making salsa and fresh refried black beans and Spanish rice. Flat New Mexican chicken enchiladas with red chile were the main course and I know Becca wants the recipe for that chicken, pronto! But we'll get to that! I think it is because that is the first thing she tasted after she rushed straight from a sleepover birthday at a friend's house. (Boy, I wish I looked that good when rushing straight over after an all nighter, because I bet that's what it was!) Laura, you'll be happy to know she eats very healthy. She started with the chicken and some Crystal Light and a Diet Coke and finished off the rest of the snickerdoodle cookies I had on the counter. I can easily see why she stays so skinny and gorgeous!

After figuring out the main course, we then had to figure out dessert. She suggested pie, which I like, but didn't think very Mexican, so I suggested a tres leches cake which she had never heard of. Frankly, I've never had one, but I always love seeing them in Mexican bakeries, all gorgeous with their thick white, fluffy frosting and always topped with colorful slices of fruit, making them look like Carmen Miranda's fruit basket hat.

 Well, we decided to give it a go and I think we are both glad we did. OK, let's catch our breath here... Let me tell you this was a great cake. A superb cake. A really, really, good cake. And when you read the directions it sounds so weird. So squishy (you'll see). But what the heck? Everyone raves about it, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

This is a cake from Central America. It is called tres leches, meaning three milks, because there are three milks involved in the soaking of the cake. Generally, it is evaporated milk and condensed milk. Other choices involve heavy cream or half and half but I used coconut milk.  The frosting also contains heavy cream so in actuality that is 4 milks, but who's counting? 

I didn't take this !
There are many theories about this cake's origin.  One says that in 1810 evaporated milk in cans became available in Central America. Then in 1850 condensed milk was able to be canned. Supposedly Nestles printed the tres leche recipe on the cans of milk which popularized the cake. Others say that as Europeans began to settle the Americas, recipes like tiramisu and rum cake, both of which are cakes that are soaked in some kind of liquor, were adapted to the area. I don't really care. What I care about is that someone came up with this and it is good!

There are many different types of recipes for this cake. Basically it is  sponge cake, as it acts like a sponge when absorbing all the milks that go into it. Most sponge cakes do not contain leavening, and the only fat is from the egg. The eggs are beaten until light and this helps create the air pockets or holes in the cake which makes the cake great for absorbing lots of flavors; in this case, the milks! Several recipes I found did contain butter in the cake batter but I decided that tres leches sounded rich enough and who needs all those butter calories anyway? One variation involved the eggs and should the yolks and whites be separated? After reading many comments I decided to do that, because I think it helps keep the cake from becoming to dense. 

Another  variation I saw, besides the various flavors that you can make this cake, involve how to frost it. Some call for a meringue frosting. Others believe in a whipped cream frosting. I chose that. We dolloped the whipped cream on rather than frost it because we knew there would be leftovers. I think this worked great and allowed us to keep the cake longer. I can tell you that the cake only got better the longer it stood. It never got soggy, only more moist and creamy. I still have one piece left in the fridge and we made it last Saturday. Rabbit catcher would not let me throw it away!

Look at all the holes!
I flavored this cake with rum and loved it. I also used coconut milk and meant to top it with some dried toasted coconut flakes but as Becca and I were busy gabbing, well, we forgot. Frankly, even though we used coconut milk, the rum flavor was more predominant. You could use cinnamon or caramel for other flavor variations and I would love to try chocolate, but haven't figure that out yet. The options are many. 

 So Becca.  I'm ready for more special requests.  Even though this cake is awfully special you are way more special than that! I am ready for our next foray, wherever, whenever that may be. Thanks for making my day special!

Coconut Rum Tres Leches Cake (adapted from Chow)
1 c all purpose flour, aerated with a fork
6 large eggs, separated
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
Three Milk Mixture
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c heavy cream
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 T rum
1 c sweetened flaked coconut toasted
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 T rum
1/4 powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 with the rack in the middle position. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside. 

Separate eggs. Place whites in mixer and beat on high speed until medium peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to another bowl.

Place egg yolks in mixing bowl and add sugar. Beat on high, until pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

Using a rubber spatula, stir about 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold in the remaining whites. Sprinkle the flour over the egg mixture and gently fold it in, until there are no white flour streaks remaining.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake until the cake is puffed and golden around the edges about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile! Place the three milks and the rum in a large bowl and whisk until combined.

Remove cake from oven and place on a cooling rack. Using a toothpick or skewer poke holes all over the cake and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Poke holes at least every 1/2 inch and poke all the way to the bottom. Pout the milk mixture evenly over the cake and continue cooling about 45 more minutes. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

To make frosting:
Toast coconut for topping. Set aside. Beat cream until soft peaks form. Then add rum and powdered sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to serve cake, frost with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Or just dollop the way we did!

Try Some More:
Brazilian Coconut Lime Shrimp Stew
Mexican Style Quinoa
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Cornbread
Tomatilla Salsa

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quinoa with Chimichurri Sauce

Today finds us in Argentina being served an enormous grilled steak doused in chimichurri. The grill is burning, the smell of meat is in the air and this green, herby, garlicky sauce is being poured liberally over my meat and served to me by a handsome gaucho with massive arms and a cute tush. Don't I wish? Truth is, I don't eat meat anymore but I can assure you that if I was being served by a handsome gaucho with massive arms and a cute tush, well, I wouldn't turn him down.

Chimichurri hails from Argentina or Nicarauga. No one knows for sure. And it doesn't really matter as this sauce can now be found everywhere. It's a good one and one that can surely find a lot of uses in your kitchen. Typically it is served as a marinade for grilled meat and also as the sauce for that steak, I keep envisioning. But this sauce can do a whole lot more...

1. Drizzle over any meat, fish or chicken. Use as a marinade or sauce.
2. Perfect for baked potatoes or even on hash browns.
3. Dunk huge hunks of sourdough in this and you have a winner.
4. Pizza - yeah this would make a great base. And an extra garnish on top.
5. Cheese - Buratta or fresh mozzarella comes to mind. Drizzle, shmizzle. You get the idea.
6. Watermelon. Enough said.
7. Mix into mayo for a sandwich spread.
8. Drizzle, as is, to give that sub extra flavor.
9. Rice. Pour some on top, please.
10. Eggs. Use this over hard boiled eggs or scrambled and everyone will want more.
11. Pasta. Instead of pesto. Pesto tends to be a bit overused. And not that that's a bad thing, but it's time to start a new trend.
12. Quinoa. Kind of in the rice category.
13. Salad Dressing. Mix with sour cream or mayo and you have something fresh.
14. Stir into Cream Cheese for a new dip.
15. As the base for quesadillas, sprinkle with corn and cotija and grill this outside. This is really good. Throw a few mangoes on top, too.

OK. Let me know what you do with this. Or for that matter any of the sauces that have been posted. And what is your favorite sauce? That could be a long list!

I took a few liberties with this sauce and you can too. Use what you have on hand and make your own signature sauce. I served rabbit catcher this with chicken mango sausages grilled over the fire. They are made by Aidell's, a great brand. Labelled chicken mango habanero, they do have a bit of heat, but in our opinion not much. And the dogs like them, too. No complaints there. I also grill these and serve them with spicy mustard for an easy summer appetizer. Just sayin'.

Give it a go. This dinner comes together exceptionally fast, which is really good when you are hungry. And no it wasn't steak. And a handsome gaucho didn't serve it to me. But it was good and hit the spot!

Chimichurri (Makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 c flat leaf parsley, but I used basil
3/4 c cilantro
1/4 c fresh oregano
1 t dried oregano
1/4 c red wine vinegar, but I used sherry vinegar
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 c red onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic
1/2  of a jalapeno
Salt and pepper

3/4 c olive oil

Throw all but olive oil into food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down sides as needed. With motor running, add olive oil in a steady stream. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving. (I only used about 1/2 c of oil because I wanted a thicker sauce.)

Quinoa and Sausage
1 package Aidell's Chicken Mango Habanero Sausage 

Grill Sausage while quinoa is cooking.

1 c quinoa - cooked to package directions (I used chicken broth instead of water and added a garlic clove.)
2 T sliced mixed olives
2 T cilantro
1 T chopped fresh jalapeno
1 T dried currants
3 T minced red onion


After liquid on quinoa has been absorbed add all of the above ingredients.  Stir. Top with sliced sausage. Drizzle with chimichurri. Leftovers make a perfect salad the next day!

A few more to try:
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Corn and Green Chile Quesadillas
Avocado and Corn soup

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberry Spiral Biscuit Pie and Which Road to Take

 Sometimes it is hard to start a Monday.  Other weeks I can wake up raring to go. But sometimes it is just hard. Choosing the right direction in life isn't always about the compass. It's about passion and love and common sense. And learning how to stand on your own two feet. It's the common sense that makes our choices so tough. Some days common sense just slides right on by, but our direction takes us straight down the path of unknown.

Robert Frost chose his road "because it was glassy and wanted wear". He "took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference." I'm still waiting to find the difference and wonder if sometimes the road is already chosen without my realizing it. Soon I may be sauntering down it without thought. I'm on the journey but perhaps not with it. Sometimes I find myself plodding ahead with no gusto. The gusto is gone and I'm left with questions that should have had answers long ago. Avoiding answering them takes me further down the path to parts unknown. Other times I run. I don't enjoy the view. I'm just anxious to finish. But life is never finished until we are in the ground or have given up. The best time on the road is when  I can't wait to explore and find something new, something exciting, something mesmerizing, something that makes me want to start life all over again. Yes, it is that good. No cautious walking on this road, just energy and life and exhilaration at all that can lie ahead. I want that road. Yes, I do.

Often our choices find us soul searching for the right path, but still marching bravely forward to the point of no return. But when does one know it to be the point of no return? Maybe the point is never succeeding at what the world views success to be, but yet never giving up. And I wonder isn't not giving up, succeeding? Perservering, never losing sight of what the goal might be, despite pressure from everyone, everywhere, that you are losing, you are a loser; but somehow you just can't quit. It's your way or the highway, baby and why can't others just see what you see? Is that stupidity or just the righteous vision of what is going on in your head? And why is it so hard to come up with the right answer that everyone else already seems to know? The answer that would make everyone happy, but probably not you. No. Not you. Is life so simple?

Is it because you are on the wrong road or the right road, or maybe you just aren't ready to get off the damn road? You've gone to far and there is no turning back? Often, we are so busy on the road, we can't see the forest through the trees. Other times we see the trees and not the forest and no, this isn't a college philosophy essay. But it is late at night and I can't sleep. I guess I'm to busy pondering what is right and what is wrong. I thought by the age of 55 that I'd have figured it out, but my brain seems to be on overtime. Or life does. At least mine is. And here I am. And that beats the alternative.

And it's late. The dogs are quiet, the house is quiet, the rabbit catcher is talking in his sleep and I am here in the dimmed lights, in front of this bright screen pondering who knows what. And the swamp cooler that couldn't keep me cool in the bedroom is making me cold in the den. And I am thinking that this is a food blog and there is a point here somewhere and the point is that Monday would be, could be, really good if this was waiting for me hot out of the oven to start my week. Something gentle, something soothing, to start the beginning of what I hope will be a good week.

Strawberry Spiral Biscuit Pie

Biscuit Dough (you favorite recipe or you can use this)
2 c unbleached flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3/4 c cold milk

1 T melted butter

2/3 c strawberry jam (I used my black pepper jam)

4 1/2 c strawberries, washed and hulled, cut into halves or quarters if very big
1 T cornstarch
1/2 t cinnamon
1/3 to 1/2 c sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries

Preheat oven to 450.

Pour flour, baking powder and and salt into bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Drizzle the milk over and stir until it is incorporated into the flour. Gather dough into a ball and knead once or twice on floured board. Gently pat the dough into  rectangle about 10 by 18 inches.

Brush the dough lightly with melted butter. Spread jam over the rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Starting at the long side, roll up the dough jelly roll style and pinch the seam closed. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into four pieces and then cut those pieces into three pieces so you have 12 biscuits.

Mix strawberries with sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Spoon filling into 9 inch glass dish. Place 8 biscuits around the perimeter of the dish and 4 in the center. Don't push the biscuits into the strawberries.

Bake the pie for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Lower the oven temperature to 350, loosely cover the pie with foil and bake 15 minutes longer. Cool for 30 minutes on rack before serving.

This pie is also great for dessert with ice cream. Or not. And feel free to use your favorite fruit and jam. This is a comfort dish as I say; one that soothes the soul. And even if you don't need soothing, it still tastes damn good!

Check out these other morning treats:
German Apple Pancake
Belgian Liege Waffles
Blueberry Nut Bread
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Amazing Black Pepper Strawberry Jam or Mrs. Ingalls, I Am Not!

 My dream life requires me to have an open pantry lined with jars of  glassy preserves and shelves of  dill garlic pickles and canned red heirloom tomatoes. And last but not least; fresh honey.There is something about that vision of neatly stacked, colorful jars that makes me feel so orderly, so secure, so well taken care of. That same dream also has loaves of fresh, warm bread coming out of the oven and cookies on the counter. Did I mention the goats in the yard and the free range chickens? Lots of dogs and cats would be good and kids. I like kids. Oh, a horse, please, too. A few bah-bahs- a few moo-moos- by God, just get me the ranch.

Well, the baking I' m good at. No problems with yeast or sugar in this house. Except the eating of it, way too often. But a pressure cooker in this house? Science fiction to me. And a thermometer? I struggle with them every year when I make fudge. Usually it turns out great, but sometimes I get a batch of hard flint. And canning? I think the warnings of botulism always kept me from trying. Seriously. I don't like lighting matches either. My mom put the fear of God in me when it came to matches. Probably because she smoked when I was a child. So mom, I still can't light a match, thanks to you! I use one of those lighter things where you press a button. I can't even flick the Bic.

I've always wanted to preserve things but it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. However there are plenty of recipes out there that don't require canning or boiling or thermometers. And given that strawberry season is ending I searched for my old recipe from Gourmet, so I could make this easy, no fail, strawberry jam. It is so full of strawberry goodness and has that hidden, can't put your finger on it, taste. And if I can make it, so can you! But you, whoever you are, probably make canned jams. In any case, you will still love this because it is a glorious, ambrosial jam. No canning, no thermometers, no set test needed. Just a clock, a pot, and some ripe strawberries!

Strawberry jam like this is special. Yes, you can tell a difference from Smuckers and I love Smuckers. But this is so fresh, and if you are like me you will leave more whole pieces in your self made jam. It is good over goat cheese or cream cheese. I do use it with peanut butter and I've used it as a filling in cakes. As an ice cream topping-you bet and for biscuits, well, that makes my mouth water. Let me know what you use it for. And by all means just make it. You won't be sorry. And if the thought of black pepper scares you, just leave it out. However, I'll tell you that everyone loves this, just the way it is. So get over your fear of jam making, because within 1/2 hour this glorious jam can be yours!

Strawberry Black Pepper Jam

2 c hulled, washed strawberries (some cut in quarters, halves and wholes)

1 1/2 c sugar
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T water
1 t freshly ground black pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a deep pot. Bring slowly to a boil. (Really. Don't let this boil over or you won't think this is so easy.)  After it comes to a rolling boil, let it boil for 15 minutes. (Here in the mile high I let it boil about 17 minutes and that is not scientific but the set point of jam is 225 so you can check it if you want. There is also a cool saucer test if you like, but I've never tried it.) Stir the mixture here and there. You will see scum. It is that foamy stuff. Under it is the glistening red juice. Skim the scum so your jam will be pretty. 

After 15 minutes, remove from heat. Let cool. Jam will thicken on cooling and when placed in the fridge. After it has cooled, spoon into your nice clean jar. This keeps at least a month in the coolness of your fridge-but it won't last that long!

Don't miss these:

Dried Fruit Salami
Avocado Corn Soup
Quick Chocolate Cake

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Give Me Some Sauce Tuesday or Lemon Oregano Pesto

I'm ready for a little joy and hopefully this pesto will do the trick. Oros ganos, a Greek word meaning joy of the mountain, defines the mountain sides of Greece where oregano and marjoram flourish. The sweet, spicy scent was created by Aphrodite as a symbol of happiness. Marjoram is in the same family as oregano and not quite as strong in flavor. Bridal couples were crowned with garlands of marjoram and plants were placed on tombs to give peace to the departed.

Oregano is one of my favorite herbs. I love the flavor it gives to pizza and tomato sauce. I love it on subs as part of an Italian dressing and I love it on grilled fish. It tastes savory on fresh tomatoes and gives a definite warmth to eggs and cheese. Butter or olive oil, lemon and oregano brushed on fish or shrimp-heaven in my book. I have oregano growing in my herb garden and it is just starting to flower which means harvest now, or forget about it. I could dry it and I will, but this year I thought I'd try a pesto with my favorite herb.

I love pestos of every sort. I use them with a bit of extra oil as salad dressings. I stir pesto into rice or any grain dish. Of course, they always work with pasta. Try some mixed into your favorite vegetable. I can tell you that I plan on trying this pesto over grilled corn. Pesto is great with goat cheese as a spread on crackers or a baguette. Over tomatoes-no questions asked. Pesto stirred into mayonnaise makes a great flavored spread for any sandwich. Tonight's dinner plan is this pesto spread over grilled fish. I can't wait. Pesto in scrambled eggs?  A dollop of pesto in soup gives so much flavor. You get the idea. Pesto is a workhorse in the kitchen.

One of the best things about pesto is that it can be frozen. That is great news for your summer's bounty of herbs because that means you can taste summer, all winter long. How good is that? You can freeze it in small containers or you can freeze it in ice cube trays so if you want just a little flavor all you have to do is pop one out. But when I have a container of pesto I tend to think of all the ways I can use it. Which means I go through it pretty fast.

As an herb, oregano was used in Egypt to preserve, heal and disinfect. In Europe, oregano was used in nosegays because of its sweet scent. It was also used in furniture polish to make the air more fragrant. I can attest to the fact that honeybees love my oregano. Now if I could just find that hive! So enough about oregano. Tonight I'm sprinkling some dried oregano and salt and pepper on my fish. Then as soon as it is grilled through I 'm going to top it with a dollop of pesto and serve it on a bed of pasta with some fresh, juicy, red tomatoes thrown in. I better get started. Just writing this is making me drool!

 Lemon Oregano Pesto  (Makes about 1 cup)
1/4 c olive oil
2 chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, halved
1 T walnuts
1 1/2 t lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
1/3 c grated parmesan (optional)
1 lightly packed cup of Italian parsley
1 lightly packed cup of fresh oregano leaves (Take the leaves off the stem by running your hand backwards up the stem)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of red chili flakes

Since I don't have a blender I threw this in a food processor and processed until well combined and pesto like! Use a blender if you want and puree until smooth. If you like more oil feel free to drizzle more in. And by all means if you can't find oregano, just fly to Greece. Just kidding. But you could use cilantro or mint or basil instead!

A few more to try:
3 Ingredient Artichoke Dip
Zucchini Chips
Moroccan Fish with Saffron Lime Aioli
Tuscan Beans and Potatoes

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Teriyaki Shrimp or Glaze and Grill

Teriyaki is the Japanese cooking technique of marinating, and then grilling and glazing, usually chicken or fish. It is believed to have originated in the States, though the word teri  means luster and yaki means broil or grill. Originally it contained four ingredients-mirin, sake, sugar and soy sauce. A worthy combination but one that has been somewhat Americanized as it has become quite a popular sauce. To me this is a standard and should be in everyone's repertoire. It is so simple and quick that there is no need to buy the bottled variety. You make it and you know what you re going to get!

Teriyaki combines the sweet and the salty which is a popular combo today. With the addition of garlic and ginger you really get an all ready good thing going. Garlic is an American addition as you don't see to much garlic in Japanese cooking. Sherry is often used instead of sake or mirin but I find keeping a bottle of sake on hand is great when it comes to cooking. But use what you have.

This sauce works great as a marinade but if you are marinating fish or shrimp, try to keep it at no more than an hour before cooking it. I also use the marinade as a basting sauce. If you want more of a glaze, the marinade can be boiled down until it reaches a thicker consistency. And remember that the longer your marinade has to stand on its own, the better the flavor on your preferred grilling item.

This marinade works great with fish, chicken and shrimp. I love to stir it into rice and also use it with a dollop of oil added OR a touch of mayo, as a salad dressing. In which case a touch of wasabi added to it makes any salad sing. It is great as a dipping sauce if you forget to marinate and I love it with pineapple. In many recipes pineapple juice is used instead of sugar so feel free to experiment. Pineapple slices are also great grilled and brushed with teriyaki.

I served the shrimp on a bed of farro. Rice is something I enjoy but the rabbit catcher is on this no white food thing. I like farro so it really isn't a big deal and he doesn't need to know about the sugar in the sauce! Honey also would work but it would make the sauce a bit thicker. And remember honey is sweeter than sugar so taste as you go.

Keep this in your fridge and you always have a great sauce on hand. And did I mention it is also fantastic on grilled mushrooms-especially shitakes? It is great stirred into stir fry vegetables, too. The possibilities are endless! Let me know what you use it for!

Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 c soy sauce
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced ginger
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c sake, or sherry

Mix together and let stand for at least an hour to let flavors develop. OR NOT!

Teriyaki Shrimp
I marinated a lb of shrimp for about 45 minutes and then cooked them slowly on a grill preheated on the medium setting. They only take a few minutes on each side. Baste as often as possible with the marinade. Serve with more sauce for dipping.  You can boil it down if you want a thicker consistency.

Teriyaki Farro Serves 2-3

1 T oil
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/2 T chopped garlic
1/2 T chopped ginger 
1/3 c chopped onion
1 c farro
Hand full of cabbage or coleslaw mix
3 T teriyaki Sauce

Heat oil in pan over medium high heat. Add ginger, garlic, red pepper and onion and saute until limp. Stir in 1 c farro and let toast about a minute while stirring. Add three cups of water and bring to a low boil. Boil for about 15 minutes uncovered. Water should be almost gone. sometime this takes a little more, sometimes a little less. At this point, stir in your cabbage. About 2 minutes before serving, stir in 3 T teriyaki sauce. Let warm through. Serve with fish, chicken or shrimp.

More to try:
Pad Thai
Meatball Vietnamese Noodle Bowl
Farro Salad

Monday, July 8, 2013

Triple Berry Hand Pies and What a Girl Must Know

I love pie because I love crust. I love pie because I love filling. But there are certain pies I just don't like. I don't like lemon meringue. I don't like lemon and I don't like meringue. Double whammy. Horrors. And I don't think I'm a big fan of cream pies. Never had a banana cream pie. Think I've had a coconut cream pie. Of course I do like anything chocolate but don't put meringue on it. I guess know my favorite pies are fruit pies. Apple pie. Cherry pie. Peach pie. Those are my faves. I do like key lime pie. Frozen. In a graham cracker crust. Ice cream pies like Mud pie are definitely on my agenda, though I can't remember the last time I had one of those. I think my favorite part is the hot fudge on top.

Which leads me to my new favorite pie - the hand pie. Really, isn't it just another name for a turnover? But doesn't the word hand pie sound more romantic, more childlike, and aren't they something everyone would  have one of?  The best part about hand pies is that you can eat more than one because they aren't as big as a slice and you can take one for later.  Hand pies make me think of farmers markets and state fairs where the thought of being a pie judge must surely be a treat. And pie makes me think of blue ribbons and crust which make hand pies perfect for me. Lovers of crust rejoice because hand pies get you a better ratio of crust to fruit. Honest.

Pie also makes me think of my mother and her neighbor friend who used to make apple pies in our kitchen every fall and share them between their freezers. My mom's friend made the crust and my mom made the filling. Guess what I never learned how to bake? Yeah, a pie crust. I never learned how to make fried chicken either, but that is another story.

There are some things a girl must know. A girl must know that her shoes and bag don't have to match. A girl must know that navy and camel are now  acceptable colors of nail polish and that glitter reigns. A girl must know that you never cancel a hair or a nail appointment. A girl must know that you never say yes the first time you are asked on a date. The proper response to said question is "Let me check my calendar", whereupon you immediately pull out your IPhone, check your calendar and then say, "It looks like I'm available." A girl must know how to make a pie crust, but then so should a boy, for that matter. And why should one know this? Because pie is so real, so wholesome, and by God, so American!

Which leads me back to the fact that I really suck at pie crust. I've tried food processor pie crusts, pastry blender pie crusts, vegetable shortening pie crusts, refrigerated pie crusts, oil pie crusts, butter pie crusts and frozen pie crusts. Everyone eats my pie. They always tell me how good it is, but I am never happy with my pie crust. I want a perfect, truck stop, pie crust. The flaky, thin, golden kind. Kind of like I'd like my body, well, except for the flaky part. And how is it that every recipe for pie crust is always titled, "No Fail Pie Crust"? Isn't that automatically setting us up for failure?

All right already. I resorted to cream cheese. It works. I'm not telling you it's perfect, but I'm telling you it makes pie crust pretty, pretty easy. And it is exceptional for repairs. I always need to repair my crust a lot. But hand pies are easy to repair and besides a little juice seeping out makes them look pretty. Well, that's my opinion and I'm standing by it. I used Martha Stewart's pie crust recipe. It works well for these. The cream cheese gives the crust a salty, rich taste which balances the fruit filling. A winner in my book. Plus, it is easy to roll out and only needs to chill about 30 minutes. She recommends a food processor. I was lazy and did it by hand. I'll give you her version, but know that as long as you have a pastry blender you can do it by hand.

Cream Cheese Pie Crust (makes about 18 hand pies)
8 T  cold or frozen butter
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c flour plus 2 T
1/2 t salt

1 beaten egg

Cut butter into small cubes. Process butter, cream cheese and cream in food processor until well blended. Add flour and salt and process until mixture forms a ball. Divide in two, flatten into discs and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out each piece on a floured surface, one at a time into squares about 12"x12". Trim edges if needed. Cut in thirds. You should have 3 equal strips, but I am really bad about the equal part. Now you need to cut each strip into 3 squares. These are now ready to be filled with about 1 heaping tablespoon of filling.

Place one heaping tablespoon in the middle of the corner of each square. Fold other corner over so the two straight sides meet. Fold in the straight corner and crimp into a half circle. Or shoot, just fold the dang things in half. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Crimp. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Poke a few holes for a vent and to get those juices flowing.

Chill before baking for about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. These are great with an ice cream cone in the other hand!

 Triple Berry Filling
1 c blueberries
1/2 c raspberries
1/2 c blackberries (sliced if too big)
1/2 c brown or white sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/2 t cinnamon, ginger or cardamom
1/2 t vanilla
1 T lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Mix all together. Use 1 heaping tablespoon per hand pie.

A few more to try:
Blueberry Nut Bread
Fudge Pie
Not My Mama's Cherry Pie

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tartar Remoulade Sauce with Old Bay

This tartar remoulade sauce is perfect on crabcakes or a fish sandwich. Or just off the spoon! #sauce #tartarsauce #remoulade www.thisishowicook.com

There appears to be some discrepancies when it comes to deciding what to call this sauce. You can call it what you want, but I'll just call it good. French fry dipping, good. Crab cake topping, good. Fish sandwich topping, good.  Grilled fish topping, good. And even steak tartare topping, good. I've been making this for years without writing down  the recipe and every time I make it there is only one word that pops into my head and that is - good. 

Well, last night I wrote it down. Yes, it is one of those sauces that you can play with. Adjust the seasoning, leave out what you don't like and add what you do. I used the REAL mayo but you could get away with the low cal stuff, if you must. I say that because there is so much flavor in this that I think that comes through more than the mayo. Let me know.

While in Phoenix, I made something similar to this for my folks. Seems my dad likes sauce to go on his fish. I never knew. In my home we just grill the fish and eat it, thereby saving calories, but really never missing a sauce. Well, my dad likes tartar sauce. Never really having much fish growing up, I guess I just never noticed. He also likes steak tartare. I can remember him coming home at lunch with freshly ground beef from my grandfather's  grocery and butcher store and warning us kids to not use this beef for anything. This beef was for HIS steak tartare. No problem there, Dad. I don't think it appealed to any of us kids. I can remember him mixing up his tartare on the butcher paper. A few raw eggs, some Worcestershire, I think, lots of pepper, I think, and who knows what else. He then would sit down to eat HIS steak tartare probably with a cup of borscht. And now I find out that this similar sauce used to be served and still may be, with his steak tartare.

The remoulade sauce originated in France. Typically it was a mayo based sauce that contained parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon. Probably a few chopped cornichons and some anchovy essence. Maybe a chopped hard boiled egg. Louisiana remoulade sauce usually had some horseradish and some paprika or tomato paste to make it red. Tartar sauce originated in Russia near the Eurasian Steppe. It contained capers, lemon juice, pickles and tarragon. Maybe some green onion. Maybe some celery and even some hard boiled egg. 

This tartar remoulade sauce is perfect on crabcakes or a fish sandwich. Or just off the spoon! #sauce #tartarsauce #remoulade www.thisishowicook.com

I remember having a remoulade sauce in Denmark with french fries. This was way back in my high school days and  I still remember those fries and sauce. I remember the person behind the counter putting a potato into a machine, which extruded the potato straight into the hot oil. They then served the frites with a soft, flaky salt and a yellow remoulade sauce. Seems the Danes like curry or turmeric to flavor and color their remoulade. Whatever it was, I was in heaven.

My sauce is a bit of a conglomeration of the two but I do add  Old Bay. I love Old Bay. I first tasted Old Bay when I was pregnant and visiting Baltimore many years ago. I had crab cakes which may explain my predilection to crab cakes every spring. I don't think I'd had crab cakes before visiting, but in Baltimore one eats crab cakes.  I am certainly not one to buck the trend. I brought crab home on the plane and made them when I got home, too. And I took that crab man's recipe to heart. I bought some Old Bay. I then added it to my dipping sauce and it has been with me ever since.

It isn't necessary to use Old Bay, but then it would be just a tartar sauce or just a remoulade sauce. See what you think. Stir it in last. I love the salty, celery, tangy-ness it gives. It gives a little bite, a feeling of wanting more, in my humble opinion. You could also throw in some celery or substitute green onion for the onion. So many ways to go and so little time. You get the picture. Have fun with your remoulade/tartar sauce. Hard boil an egg if you want. This sauce is good and I just smeared some on a sandwich for lunch. It is a way to give anything some extra punch. Keep it in your back pocket, because this one is  keeper!

This tartar remoulade sauce is perfect on crabcakes or a fish sandwich. Or just off the spoon! #sauce #tartarsauce #remoulade www.thisishowicook.com

Remoulade/Tartar Sauce
1/3 c finely chopped onions
2 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped dill pickle
1 T brown spicy mustard
1 T drained capers
1 T Old Bay seasoning
3/4 t sugar
1 T horseradish (not the sauce kind)
1/2 t tarragon
2/3 c mayonnaise
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Let sit about an hour (if you can) to let the flavors blend. Serve on or with fish, steak tartare, fried fish or shellfish. Eat on a sandwich or serve with fries. Whatever you do-just eat this!

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This tartar remoulade sauce is perfect on crabcakes or a fish sandwich. Or just off the spoon! #sauce #tartarsauce #remoulade www.thisishowicook.com

More to try: