Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grilled Fruit Pies in a Cornmeal Crust and a Whole Foods Giveaway


4th of July is always bittersweet for me. I've always felt like it is the halfway point to marking summer's end. (You can definitely see I'm the glass half empty kind of person, eh?) Maybe it is because my kids always started school around the third week of August. Well, the kids aren't here anymore, my attitude is changing and I still love 4th of July! Besides all the fireworks, (I am a fireworks kind of girl)  4th of July means food. It means grill. It means water and cold beer. And in the past it always meant parades and streamers and bikes and hikes and pie and watermelon. That's a lot to cram in, in one day!


So we all know that Whole Foods has an incredible number of great foods to grill. Most folks think meat, or fish or kebabs or burgers or corn on the cob. Not many think fruit, but just like I'm changing my attitude, it is high time to change your view on grilling fruit! I love grilled pineapple and peaches. And even putting your berries in a basket and grilling them for about two minutes intensifies those berry flavors.


Well, being the nut case that I am, I decided to grill some fruit and make grilled fruit pies. Cornmeal makes for a rustic crust that totally rocks with grilled fruit. (It is totally optional to grill the fruit, though it does give a distinctive flavor to your pie, but they are scrumptious either way.) It bakes up crisp and flaky at the same time. Before adding the fruit I smeared a couple tablespoons of cheese on the crust. This melts right in and only adds to the richness of the crust. It will not be detected when you are eating.

Add a scoop of ice cream or a pile of whipped cream and you have a way above average dessert. Plus serving everyone their own individual pie is a sure way to keep the crowds smiling. These individual pies aren't overly sweet, but if you want them sweeter, feel free to shake that sugar. The choice of fruit is yours, but I liked the combo of apricots and blueberries or raspberries and blueberries, but if you want to know the truth, I'm really not picky as long as I get to have dessert!


The hardest part about this dessert is making the crust and that's not that hard. I made these the day before I served them and kept them very lightly covered on the counter. I did pop them back in the oven to rewarm and they turned out great. My pies were 8 inchers so one might say they were a bit man sized, but my girlfriend managed to devour hers all on her own. And that even had a scoop of ice cream on it! How many you make is up to you. In fact this whole recipe is up to you. I'm just supplying the basic directions, so keep that in mind. And keep Whole Foods in mind for all your grill needs!

Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket. This post is sponsored by Whole Foods but all opinions expressed are mine. Open only to US residents. No compensation has been given but products have been provided. Giveaway closes on July 30th, 2015Subscribe if you don't want to miss the announcement of the winner in August to see if you won! Winner will be chosen by a Random Number Generator! 

How to Enter:


· Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me your favorite 4th of July dessert
· Enter twice by subscribing to This is How I Cook
· Enter again by following me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


Grilled Fruit Pies in a Cornmeal Crust
Makes 6-8
Time to Make: About 45 minutes active

Ingredients:
Your choice of fruit-I used 1 1/2 apricots per pie and dotted them with about 12 blueberries or use enough blueberries and raspberries to cover about a 6" diameter of pie
2 T melted butter
(Grilling is optional)

2 c flour
1 c yellow cornmeal
6 T sugar plus 1 T per pie for sprinkling
1 t salt
2 sticks chilled butter
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

1 container mascarpone cheese at room temperature
2 T honey
2 T balsamic vinegar
3 pinches ground black pepper

Fresh thyme or rosemary to sprinkle

Directions:
Combine flour, cornmeal,6 T of sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter until large crumbs form. Stir in eggs and vanilla and mix until you can gather dough into 2 large balls. Chill for a few hours. While dough is chilling grill your fruit.

To grill fruit: Preheat grill to medium. Cut stone fruits in half. Brush each side with a bit of melted butter. Grill for just a few moments until grill marks appear. Cool before slicing. To grill berries, toss with a bit of melted butter.Place on a grill screen and grill for just a few minutes. You are not cooking these, only giving them flavor and this step is totally optional.

Make cheese mixture by combining cheese, honey, vinegar and pepper in a bowl. Whisk until combined. Set aside until ready to use.

To roll dough: I roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll about 1/2" thick. You may slice each ball into 3 or 4 slices depending on how many pies you want. These are free form pies. After pie crust is rolled, remove top piece of parchment and spread a few tablespoons of cheese mixture on center of pie. Top with your choice of fruit and sprinkle with about 1 T of sugar. Now using a sharp paring knife, scrape outer edges of dough towards the middle on to the fruit. Pinch crust together if it comes apart. It is very forgiving.

Now using a large spatula, lift your pies, still on the parchment, on to a rimmed baking sheet. Chill for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425. After pies have chilled, bake them for 30 minutes until crust is golden and fruit is bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary or thyme while warm. It really makes the pie's flavors pop! Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Other great 4th of July foods:
Buttery Garlic Parmesan Potato Chips
Onion Dip
Red Onion, Blueberry and Pesto Goat Cheese Tart
Pineapple and Chipotle Guacamole
Old Fashioned BBQ Chicken
Elote Corn in a Bowl
My Mom's Secret ColeSlaw
Cream Cheese Poundcake
Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake






Monday, June 22, 2015

Roasted Poblano Onion Dip and How to Stock a Pantry


So...last week found me cleaning the basement not because I wanted to, but because water seemed to have found a way in during the Denver monsoon. Our weather has been so weird this year. Yesterday was so hot, today is cool and clearly Mother Nature has no clue what she wants to do. We also have flowers blooming that usually don't bloom until August, and some that bloom over Memorial Day are just starting. Very weird.

In any case, going through boxes of 1990's McDonald's toys and old drawings of masterpieces from kindergarten, kept me quite busy. I now have a pile of things destined to be carried up the steps and thrown away, which makes me feel so good. As much as I hate cleaning, I really find it quite therapeutic. So now it is on to grocery lists.

How boring is that? Well, if you are a bit like me, I must admit that when I'm not pressed for time, I really do like going to the grocery. To me it is a bit of an adventure and what I find determines what I cook and eat. Let me explain. When the bambinos were young and living at home, I thought of dinner like a main course. Determining the main course was always my first step, then the rest of the meal came together.


Recently my FIL has found himself doing more of the grocery shopping because of circumstances beyond his control. He lives in Texas and since I'm not there, I asked him would a grocery list help and he replied that it would. I know that eating is his forte, but cooking and shopping are definitely not. I believe that's true for a lot of us, so I decided to let you in on a few of my trade secrets. No, they really aren't trade secrets, but they have managed to serve me well over the last 35 years of meal planning.

Basically it works like this:
Day One: Ground Meat of some sort
Day Two: Pasta
Day Three: Breakfast for Dinner
Day Four: Chicken
Day Five: Fish or other Seafood
Day Six: Pizza, Burgers, Leftovers, Main Course Salad, Giant Sandwich or Asian Stir Fry
Day Seven: Take me anywhere, but I'm not cooking!

Now you might think this is too general, but for me it worked. I will tell you that now that the kids are gone, OK-not living at home, I have eliminated pasta once a week. Manservant does like pasta, but not as much as Zoe or myself. He prefers a real protein, as he puts it. Grocery shopping for me involves making sure I have these main course staples on hand. As much as I like grocery shopping, I do not like shopping every day, therefore I keep myself well supplied. I always have some kind of ground meat in the freezer. Eggs are a necessity. Boneless chicken breasts and whole chickens, fish and shrimp are always in my freezer, too. But let's set all this aside, because today we are talking pantry.

I'm lucky because I have a good sized pantry closet to store things in. I also have a cupboard in the garage for extras, that I don't want to clutter my inside pantry with. For instance, if I go to Costco and buy a container with 10 cans of tuna fish, I  only keep two cans inside. This may sound like common sense, but my mother kept everything on the shelf, and then was never able to find what she wanted because it was buried behind other large case items!


Well, on to the journey. When the kids were young and had friends over, I often found them buried in my pantry. No joke. I'll never forget little Hannah telling me, "You have the best pantry ever." Hannah now works in the restaurant business, as a manager in a highly rated New York restaurant, with a very well known chef at its helm. I have visions of her inspecting their pantry daily. I'll bet that it doesn't contain giant bins of red licorice or gummy bears or jelly bellies or tootsie pops though. But that is how the first shelf, "SHELF #1" of my pantry used to be. It has since evolved into a boring but efficient shelf that contains very expensive organic dehydrated dog food, various cocktail napkins, some aluminum pans for when I give food away, and a tortilla warmer. Oh, lest I forget there is also an ice cream maker, protein powder and a few baskets and serving pieces that don't fit in a regular cupboard and grocery bags to return to the store. I liked it much better with candy.

But on to the real stuff. The stuff that makes meals. The stuff that keeps me from going shopping more than once a week. We will call it Shelf #2.

Shelf #2: Cereals such as Rice Chex, and Oatmeal. Protein Bars. Dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, dried pineapple and cherries, dates and prunes. Popcorn. Then I have junk stuff like potato chips, Fritos, pita chips, pretzel snacks and jerky. Manservant likes his jerky for a high protein snack. Licorice. Swedish licorice. You might want cookies. Graham crackers. Oreos for when I come to visit.

Shelf #3 Canned Goods: I love all varieties of canned beans except for kidney beans. I hate kidney beans. Tomato sauce. Tomato puree. Diced tomatoes. Corn. Creamed Corn. Extra Mayonnaise and mustard. Tuna and Canned salmon. Canned soup if you use it. I like chicken broth. Guava juice and pineapple juice for cocktails. Extra Jams and jellies. Capers. Pickles. Coconut Milk. Bottled curries for quick meals. Salsas.Artichoke Hearts and Hearts of Palm. Nutella and Peanut Butter. Peanuts and mixed nuts for snacking. Hot sauce. Mandarin oranges and applesauce.

Oils and Vinegars: I have olive oil and coconut oil and canola oil. I have various varieties of specialty oils that don't need to be stored in the fridge. I have honey and agave. Rosewater. Balsamic vinegar and other varieties. White vinegar. Apple cider vinegar. Rice wine vinegar. Sherry vinegar. Soy sauce. Hoisin Sauce. Fish Sauce. Chili Sauce with garlic. Oyster Sauce.


Shelf #5: Teas. Too many teas. Hot Cocoa. Nestle's Quik. I still drink it especially when I'm in a funk. Then begins my baking arena shelf. You may or may not want all of this. Flour, unbleached. Cake flour. Rye flour. Bread flour. Rice flour. Whole wheat flour I keep in the freezer. Sometimes I have masa. Baking powder and soda. Cornstarch. Varieties of chips such as semisweet, milk, cinnamon, white, dark, and toffee. Sprinkles. (I still have them from when the kids were little.) Sugar. Brown sugar. Powdered sugar. Raw sugar. Powdered milk for Momofuku recipes. Ditto for malted milk. Condensed milk. Marshmallow fluff that needs to be used. Kosher Salt. Graham cracker crumbs. Coconut.

Shelf #6: Grains: Rice such as white rice, brown rice, arborio, jasmine and black. Farro. Quinoa. Dried beans and peas such as black beans and pintos. Lentils and split peas. Couscous. Pastas. Spaghetti, macaroni and lasagna. Egg noodles. Rice noodles. Pad Thai noodles. Udon noodles. Corn meal. Grits. Polenta. Matzoh meal. Shrimp chips. Onion soup mix. Potatoes.Sweet potatoes.  Onions, but sweet onions I keep in the fridge. Ramen. Dried chilies and dried mushrooms. Gelatin or jello. Crackers. But keep opened crackers in the freezer to prevent them from getting stale. Dried yeast.

Shelf #7 I have to climb on a stool to reach this one. Often it contains the chocolate chips, because I don't want to reach them! It also has a very large paella pan that I'm not sure why I bought, my wok, and a bamboo steamer. It has a huge variety of supplements and vitamins that only Manservant knows how to use and three giant bags of old candy corn that I used in candle holders during Halloween and Thanksgiving. I threw the giant bags of candy hearts away.


That about sums up my pantry. Hope this helps my FIL. Next week or thereafter, we will do the spice cabinet, and the fridge and freezer. Maybe even essential gadgets and pots and pans. What do you think? Let me know if I missed anything. If I was clever I'd do a printable list, but I'm not that clever and there are lots of lists if you Google. After all, google knows it all!

So now while you contemplate a new pantry redesign, I'll leave you with this dip. Dip is good and this one is from the 4 Seasons in Vail. Feel free to add more green chilies and to sub in things like low fat mayo, cream cheese and sour cream or yogurt. It makes a ton and keeps awhile so that you can take it out a few weekends in a row. Trust me, no one will mind. I like it best at room temperature because it lets the flavors shine. Veggies or chips go perfect with this. I might also mention that this is the perfect thing to munch on while cleaning one's pantry in order to take photos. You didn't think I'd show you the X rated version, did you?


Roasted Poblano Onion Dip (Serves a crowd, but feel free to halve this!)
Time to Make: About 30 minutes
Ingredients:
3-12 roasted and seeded green chilies (Really. Add as many as you want) Or you can use a few cans of  drained Hatch chilies)
1 large onion, finely diced
2 t extra virgin olive oil
1-2 t chipotle or ancho chile powder or more to taste
1/2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t Worcestershire powder
1 lb cream cheese, softened
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Moe chile powder for garnish, plus cilantro

Directions:
Heat two teaspoons of oil in a large skillet. Add onion and saute over medium high heat, until tender and browned. Cover the pan if you want this to cook a bit faster and turn to medium heat. Add chilies, garlic, chile powder and Worcestershire to skillet and cook 5 minutes more. Cool completely.

Combine cream cheese and mayonnaise with a hand held mixer. Add Parmesan cheese and sour cream and mix well. Stir in poblano mixture. Feel free to adjust seasoning by adding more garlic or chile powder. You could even add a few diced jalapenos if you'd like some heat!

Other Dips:














Monday, June 15, 2015

Seafood Paella


If compliments were worth money, I'd be a millionaire! This paella is the dish that garnered praise this time, which isn't surprising since it is courtesy of  Yotam Ottolenghi, of Jerusalem cookbook fame. I've written about a few of his recipes and I'm sure I'll be writing about plenty more (Plenty is also one of his cookbooks, as is Plenty More!). His cookbooks are without a doubt, some of my favorites. He recently started writing a column in Bon Appetit and it was the photo that caught my eye. It was then I spotted his byline, and zeroed in on it like a hawk spotting a pigeon.

We had lots of friends over last week. I've been busy cooking and I am exhausted. Manservant came home from Sweden and left again yesterday for Warsaw, and since I didn't think he'd be here for Fathers Day, I decided to have some friends over. Friday night found us eating my favorite BBQ chicken but Wednesday found us eating this paella. I actually found some Little neck clams that were fresh at the grocery and just decided to go for it. I always have a hard time finding them here in the Gateway to the Rockies! Of course, (now Manservant tells me) he will be back on Saturday, so I guess I didn't need to knock myself out on his account.


I've made many paellas through the years and even have a paella pan on the top shelf in my pantry. It was much to big for this recipe, so I left it on the top shelf to gather more dust. I'm not big on gadgets or appliances in my kitchen, so the fact that I even have a paella pan makes my eyes roll. Trust me a 12" cast iron pan is big enough to make paella for 6, and we were only four.

I stayed true to the recipe except I did add chorizo in with the pancetta. It wasn't necessary, but I do love chorizo. This is a seafood paella and does not have chicken. There are zillions of variations for paella, so don't be afraid to make up your own. I liked this recipe because it requires grilling the shrimp and vegetables that go on top of the finished dish. This isn't necessary but since it is supposed to be summer, (but doesn't feel like it here) I decided I loved the idea of grilling some of the components. Many paellas are cooked over an open fire so this was one way to incorporate that element.


We started with some panfried halloumi in garlic butter with fresh oregano and chickpeas and lemon, had a salad and this garlic confit toast, and finished with the strawberry slab pie from Food and Wine. The slab pie was great, because the crust was great, but since I'm not a great roller, it was a real pain in the tuchas. At least that was my take on it, but everyone loved it! And if you are wondering why I don't have photos of those items it is because we were too busy eating and maybe drinking. I must admit that the paella photos were taken the next day and they made great leftovers!


If you don't feel the need to have a full paella, feel free just to make the rice. You could always just grill a piece of fish or some shrimp to place on top. The paellas I've made in the past are always rice heavy, and this one is no exception. I would say the rice alone could serve 8-10 people so adjust accordingly. If you decide to forego the clams, you could always sub in some clam juice for flavor, instead of using all chicken broth.

Enjoy the paella. Don't let it intimidate you. Have all your ingredients ready and this is easy enough. I started the mixture ahead of time and stopped before I added the rice. You could even grill the veggies and set aside until ready. Keep it simple and relaxed. Now send in the flamenco dancers!

On a side note: I thought I'd start some kitchen features this week. This week I'm going to tell you a little bit about how I cook, which means how I plan my meals and how I stock my pantry and fridge, including grocery lists. Maybe even some articles about my favorite tools and appliances. What do you think of that?

Don't forget to enter the Whole Foods giveaway!


Seafood Paella (Bon Appetit, May 2015) slightly modified
Serves 6
Time to Make: About 1 1/2 hours including cooking time

Ingredients:
For green sauce:
1 serrano chile, not seeded, coarsely chopped
1/3 c chopped fresh parsley
10 T olive oil, divided
Kosher salt

4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/2" pieces
8 oz fresh chorizo
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" strips
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 t paprika
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 c dry Sherry
3 c short grain rice (I used medium because my grocery didn't have short)
6 c low sodium chicken broth
3 wide strips orange zest and more grated orange zest for garnish
1/2 t saffron threads (Don't skimp)
12 little neck clams, scrubbed
8 green onions, trimmed
8 oz fresh green beans
12 large shell on shrimp or prawns (heads are fine if you can find them)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 lemons, halved

Directions:
Puree chile, parsley and 6 T oil in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and set aside.

Heat 1 T oil in a 13" paella pan or a 12" cast iron pan over medium high heat.Cook pancetta, stirring occasionally until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add chorizo, breaking it up as it cooks. Add onion and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and paprikas and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sherry and bring to a simmer and cook stirring constantly, until pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes. (I stopped at this point and when I was ready to start again, I just rewarmed it.) Add rice and cook stirring occasionally until rice is coated and starting to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in broth, orange strips and saffron, season with salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered, reduce heat, and simmer until rice is nearly tender, 12-15 minutes.

Nestle clams into rice in center of pan and cook until clams begin to open, 12-15 minutes. Do not nestle them too deeply into the rice or too close together or they will have no room to open up! Cover pan with foil and simmer until rice is al dente and clams open. Discard any that don't after about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat but keep covered, and let rice steam 10 minutes.

While paella cooks, toss green onions and green beans with 2 T of oil and salt and then grill until charred, about 5 minutes. Then toss shrimp with 1 T of oil and salt and grill until cooked through and shell is lightly charred, about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on size. Brill lemons at the same time, until charred, also.

Arrange onions, green beans and prawns over paella. Drizzle with reserved parsley chile oil. Squeeze some grilled lemon juice over. Place a few wedges on paella.Don't forget the orange zest! Be ready for compliments.

Other great recipes:







Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cauliflower Salad with Hummus and Tahini Dressing


Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. Salad is one of my favorite foods. You know where this is going, right? Recently while scanning magazines, which it seems are piling up, I came across this fabulous take on a cauliflower salad. There isn't much to say about it, because frankly my mouth is full-of cauliflower that is. This is that good. It will have you taking bite after bite. Even Manservant who leaves his salad until the end of the meal-and no, he is not French, sang its praises.

This salad has crunch. This salad has rich and herby undertones. This salad has flavor that rocks. It is full of chickpeas for those who love hummus. The orange zest that is only added as a garnish, is a necessary component that has one looking for the bite with the orange flecks. It is spicy, but not too spicy. Look. It is really so simple. This salad is meant to be devoured.



I made minor modifications to the original recipe which called for using all raw cauliflower. Frankly, eating a salad of all raw cauliflower sounds like a lot of chewing to me. So I roasted some of it and mixed it with the raw. The contrast in textures works! And the flavor punch from the roasting is heavenly. Even the little one wanted to get close. So close he licked the spoon. What a great helper, eh?

Oh look. A spoon.
This spoon tastes pretty good.
Why did she take that spoon away?
One other substitution was using za'atar for sumac. I love za'atar in this! I eliminated lettuce and tomatillo because I didn't have any. No reason to cry. This worked out just fine, just fine indeed. Let me know what you think.


Cauliflower Salad with Hoummus and Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Food and Wine, May 2015
Time to Make: About 40 minutes
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
Dressing:
1/4 c canned chickpeas/garbanzos rinsed and dried
1 T rice vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove
3  fresh lemon juice
2 T tahini
1/2 c fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
1 c olive oil
1-2 t za'atar
1/2 t Aleppo pepper flakes or chili flakes
Salt and pepper

Salad:
1 medium head of cauliflower - 1/2 of it sliced like steaks and the other into florets
2 T olive oil
1/2 c canned chickpeas/garbanzos, rinsed and dried
1/2 fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 of an orange zested
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Place 2 T olive oil in a shallow pan. Take cauliflower steaks and oil them on both sides. Sprinkle with salt. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Flip over and roast until other side is light golden.

Make dressing by combining chickpeas, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, parsley and mint in blender or food processor. With motor running slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend until smooth. Dressing will be thick. Add the za'atar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a good sized bowl, toss raw cauliflower florets, roasted cauliflower broken into smaller pieces, chickpeas, parsley and mint together with about 1/3 to half of dressing. Taste for salt. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl and garnish with freshly ground black pepper and orange zest. This salad does keep well overnight as long as you don't use to much dressing! Enjoy!

More Chickpea/Garbanzo  and Cauliflower Recipes:
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Hummus
Roasted Chickpeas with Za'atar
Moroccan Fish with Saffron Aioli and Chickpeas
Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Raisins
Cauliflower Chutney



Monday, June 8, 2015

Corn and Grits Pudding with Green Chilies and Cheese


So Monday is upon me and I am so unprepared! Somehow I can be totally ready for everything I want to accomplish for the weekend, but then Monday hits and it takes me all of Monday to get ready for the rest of the week! Is anyone else like that? Maybe it is because Manservant is always flying somewhere and when he's home on the weekend I need him to help me accomplish all the tasks I can't do on my own. He's really been rockin' it too. I think he feels the pressure and finally realizing that weekends are the only time he can do odd jobs around here. Plus I think he's tired of the state of things-shall we say? Finally, I have a man of action! Well, all I can say for that is that this morning both of our backs hurt!

This weekend he finished our Buddha temple. Yes, I am Jewish, but a peaceful Buddha sends good vibes. We inherited Budda from my parents, who I think were going to leave him behind and we could not tolerate that!



 I also planted my flower boxes as it actually got sunny in these parts. It think they are going to be so pretty this year. I discovered two snakes which is not a surprise as our yard has lots of rocks, which means snakes lurk and I HATE snakes! Now I am on high alert in those areas of the yard which means I have on good running shoes.

Manservant also hung new lights over our deck so it makes it looks like a real restaurant outside.


I even have red checked tablecloths that my Mom made when she first got married, hanging in my closet ready to use! And the swamp cooler is up and running, but the pump on the waterfall is broke! Plus I weeded, but have way more to go! You see why Monday is catch up day.

Geordie is very good at holding the paper!
Well, while Manservant was busy working in Sweden last week, I was invited to my friend Karen's house for Tex Mex. So let me say this. If Karen ever invites you for TexMex, please run. Don't walk! And for sure don't say you can't make it. Karen has Texas blood in her veins and my, that girl can cook. If you don't believe me, check out her blog. I've known her about a year and she finally moved closer to me, so I get to see her a bit more. Which is good for me, but bad for my diet, I guess!


I asked her what I could bring and she said anything to go with cheese and guacamole. Sounds deadly right? Well, I had no clue what to bring. Now had she said appetizer or dessert or drinks I would have done better, but cheese and guac? I could have brought chips or tequila, but I didn't. I brought this corn puddin', because corn season is upon us. No, it isn't quite corn on the cob season, but ears are showing up everywhere. Now being from Illinois I wait to sample my first ears off the cob until at least 4th of July, but there is nothing stopping me from taking ears that aren't quite sweet enough, and using them for corn pudding. Oh my, this was good.

But that is until I tasted Karen's refried beans. Now I admit to not being a refried bean girl. Manservant is though, and he was in Sweden eating fish for all I know, but I did make him Karen's refried beans over the weekend. Yes. That is how much I liked them! Now I don't know if it's exactly how she does it, but she did kind of tell me how she does it, so I will share them with you, but not today. Because today is corn puddin! And YOU WON'T BE SORRY!


Corn Pudding with Green Chiles and Cheese
Adapted From: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger
Time to Make: About 25 minutes Time to Bake: About 50-60 minutes
Ingredients:
1 T softened butter
1/4 c corn meal
1 c cooked grits, slightly cooled
3 c cooked corn kernels or about 3 ears scraped from cob
1 c milk
6 large eggs
4 t sugar (depends on sweetness of corn)
2 t coarse salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 c roasted green chilies (I use frozen Hatch chilies)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325. Place a heavy baking sheet on the lower rack of oven. Grease a 3 quart souffle dish with butter. (I used a 12" cast iron skillet.) Sprinkle with cornmeal to cover sides and bottom of pan.

Cook grits according to package directions. Cool slightly.

Using a food processor or a hand held blender, puree the corn with the milk. Process until a rough puree is formed. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the grits. Stir in eggs, one at a time and then stir in sugar, salt and pepper, cheese and chilies.

Pour or scrape into prepared dish and set on the baking sheet in oven. Bake until firmly set in the center and beginning to brown around edges, about 50-60 minutes. Serve immediately, but this can also be served at room temperature. Garnish with cilantro, tomatoes, more corn and cheese and chilies if you'd like!

And a few more:
Corn, Bacon and Potato Hash
Corn and Green Chile Quesadillas
Avocado Corn Soup
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp and Corn
Summer Corn Pasta with Burrata
Corn and Green Chile Chowder with Smoked Salmon
Elote Corn in a Bowl
Coconut Corn
Calabacitas Tomato Sandwich with Corn





Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Sweet Pea, Mango and Mint Salad


Before Spring passes us by, I must pass on this fabulous recipe for pea salad. I've always loved peas; whether it was the tiny LeSueur peas that came out of a can that my mom bought us as kids, or the green peas that came in the Swanson TV dinners. The only time I haven't liked peas is when the 4th grade boys used to shoot them across the cafeteria tables at the new chest ornaments adorning females of the same age. No, that was not fun; though they thought it was hilarious.

I used to love growing peas in the garden. Those peas never made it to the dinner table though. They were always scarfed down straight from the vine; the best way to eat peas in my opinion. In my informative years fresh peas were hard to find, eating them involved opening the said can or breaking open the frozen little square boxes. Truly there is nothing wrong with the little square boxes. I actually always keep a box in my freezer for use in adding to fried rice or Chicken Vesuvio or this Greek 15 minute shrimp dish with feta. Peas are a great way to add color and texture to any dish.



Recently I discovered that Trader Joes has fresh shelled peas in their produce section. I bought a bag and some fresh English Sugar peas as well. Upon coming home and discovering a mango needing a home, a little light bulb went off in my head and this salad was born. I made it to accompany crab cakes, but this salad could easily become a main course with the addition of some goat cheese or even a burrata. I must make it again just so I can do THAT! I love burrata maybe more than peas. Maybe more than chocolate, too. But this post is about peas.

And this post is about mint. (Got that Seyma?) I have a lot of mint growing in the garden and I love using it. This salad is a perfect receptacle for fresh green mint. Now I know some of you may not like mint, but I bet you still love those Peppermint Patties. And if you don't, well, I don't know you! Need a low cal peppermint patty? Just dip those leaves into melted chocolate and let them cool, and you have a great treat with little effort. My problem right now is keeping my garlic chives from taking over my mint!

This post is also about watercress. I love the peppery taste of watercress and it is also another green that shouts Spring to me! Combine the watercress with peas and mint and the sweetness of mango-oh my-and you have a salad that is happy. Well, if there is such thing as a happy salad. But I forgot to tell you about the dressing. I've used the dressing before on this cabbage salad. This dressing sings! Well, it doesn't really sing. But it will have you singing and figuring out all the ways you can use it. Yes, this salad is the perfect way to celebrate Spring and say hello summer!


Pea, Mango and Mint Salad
Serves 4-6
Time to Make: About 20 minutes

Ingredients:
Salad:
8 oz fresh green peas, such as Sugar Snaps, English Peas or even Snow Peas
10 oz shelled peas (If using frozen, just thaw them according to package directions_
2-4 T fresh chopped mint
A couple big handfuls of watercress (optional)
1 Mango, sliced real pretty like
1/2 c chopped red onion
Optional: Buratta or goat cheese

Dressing:
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3 T maple syrup
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. To make dressing combine all dressing ingredients in a small jar. Shake to combine. Toss about 1/2 of dressing with pea salad about 30 minutes before serving. You will have some left over. But that's OK. You can use it on another salad!

Other fun recipes:
Kale Salad with Cherries, Almonds and Feta
Donburi Bowl
Balinese Chicken
Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies