Monday, March 28, 2016

Egg Foo Yung St. Paul Sandwich


Growing up in a thriving metropolis like Kankakee, Illinois, didn't offer many opportunities to eat ethnic food; that is unless you count Italian food or pizza as ethnic. I believe it has changed and now the big K3 even has Mexican food, but  40 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a taco, unless it was a prepared shell, in a cellophane wrapper, at the grocery store. 40 years ago Chinese food was the name of the game and I remember driving 30 minutes to eat at a Chinese restaurant, I think on Route 1 in Monee, Illinois; that is if memory serves me correctly. Kankakee finally got its own Chinese restaurant, of which my family was a big patron.

I remember us munching on such delicacies as eggrolls and wontons and won ton soup and sweet and sour chicken. I don't remember much else except that whatever it was my middle brother ordered, was only for him. No sharing on his part-yeah- I know there is always one of those! I also remember seeing giant, colorful tiki punches, some even flaming, maneuvering past our table; but we were too young for those!


Sooner or later my mother decided she wanted to learn to cook Chinese food, and after a grand expedition to Chinatown in Chicago, where she bought the store out, she arrived home with ingredients that had nowhere to go. Soon she cleaned a cabinet, found  a spot and started taking cooking lessons from the local Chinese restaurant, while amassing a large library of Chinese cookbooks, some of which I still cook from today. Thank goodness for the lessons, because up until that point I believe she only made Chow Mein and Egg Foo Yung-both of which I totally despised. Somehow seeing cans of bean sprouts being opened on the olive green kitchen counter top, was not appealing to me, nor were the chow mein noodles that came in the cellophane bag.

So how is it that a recipe for an egg foo yung sandwich caught my eye? Maybe it caught my eye because I found it in the Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian recipes cookbook, that came out not too long ago. And I do like the Lucky Peach. My son even gave me a subscription to it one year; he had found it before me! Maybe it is because I am a big fan of okonomiyaki-a Japanese-egg pancake-or maybe it is because I like sandwiches that I can call dinner-which is what this one has become several times over. Yes, Manservant really fell for this one, too and I've already lost track of the number of times I've made this beauty.


Now let it be said that this is also known as a St. Paul sandwich and just so you know, I've double checked my facts on that amazing Wikipedia site and they tell me the same thing that is written in the Lucky Peach cookbook, so it must be true. I repeat...Ever since the Chinese immigrants came here to build the railroad-the big, GIANT, Transcontinental railroad, is also when Chinese food made its inroads into America and quickly became Americanized Chinese food . Well, story has it that in St. Louis, MO (yes, I know some of you are from St. Louis, so you can verify my "facts") these little egg foo yung pancakes, (that my mother used to top with a horrid brown sauce and that also contained canned bean sprouts), were somehow, miraculously, placed between two slices of white bread,(probably the squishy kind), and then somehow got attributed to someone from St. Paul, Minnesota. If that is you please stand up and take a bow! Whereas said paragraph goes on to say that the sandwich is entirely foreign in that said Northern region. Yes, I am sure that is more than you want to know!

What I'm sure you do want to know, is that this is a great meal. Not having a doctorate but being famous in doctoring up, especially when it comes to food, I took lots of liberties with the recipe from the Lucky Peach. Mine is a bit more filling, has a great mayonnaise sauce instead of just the plain mayonnaise, and I put that elusive ingredient that everyone loves into the center of the sandwich. I bet you all guessed ham, hah!-yeah, I know you know-it just has to be bacon!. Besides that I subbed out beansprouts, because unless I venture to the Asian groceries or sometimes I can find them at Sprouts-well, beansprouts are hard to find, and I detest the canned version, and I know you know that already. Well, water chestnuts are a great substitute in my humble opinion and I have no problem opening a can of those.  Enough doctoring. Let's eat!


Egg Foo Yung St. Paul Sandwich
Serves 2
Adapted from: Lucky Peach
Time to Make: About 20 minutes-have your ingredients prepped!
Ingredients:
3 T canola oil
1 can of water chestnuts-drained and chopped or 2 c of fresh bean sprouts
1 c finely chopped scallions
4 T of chopped green pepper or jalapenos or serranos
2 t soy sauce
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c chopped ham, chicken or beef (optional) OR
4 large eggs
2 T cornstarch
Assembly:
4 slices of toasted white bread
1/4 c of mayonnaise mixed with 1 T of soy sauce and 1 t of sriracha
6 slices of cooked, crisp bacon
4 crisp slices of Iceberg lettuce
1 tomato, sliced and salted
Lots of dill pickle chips, blotted dry
Cilantro sprigs, optional
Directions:
Heat 1 T of oil in skillet over medium heat and cook beansprouts, if using, scallions and pepper, about three minutes until veggies are slightly wilted. Transfer to bowl and let cool a bit. Season with soy sauce and salt and pepper.If using ham, chicken or beef, add it to bowl now. Crack eggs into a large measuring cup and add cornstarch. Beat with a fork to combine. Pour over veggies in bowl and stir until everything is coated with egg.

Reheat skillet over medium low heat and add 2 T of oil. Pour about the equivalent of 4 pancakes into skillet and using a spatula try to contain them into 4" pancakes. Cook until the edges are brown and set, then flip and cook until pancake is puffed and cooked through out. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm.

Assemble: Spread flavored mayonnaise on toast. Top with bacon, lettuce, tomato, dill pickles, cilantro and 2 pancakes per sandwich. I think that's it!

A few More Goodies:
Okonomiyaki
Dan Dan Noodles and Chinese Sloppy Joe
Chicken Artichoke Dip Baguettes
OMG BLT

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Frozen Cheese Souffle (A Family Favorite for 30 years)

(This Frozen Cheese Souffle is perfect for Easter brunch. I have made it every year for over 30 years, though for Yom Kippur break the fast!  It is marvelously simple and simply divine. I'm reposting this with my original pictures and even though I know photos speak louder than words, you will have to trust me, that in this case, this souffle not only looks better in person, it also tastes outstanding! (It is one of my most requested recipes.)


I know. Whoever heard of a frozen cheese soufflé? Trust me, you’ll be glad I turned you on. I discovered this recipe in college in a food processor cookbook. The same one I discovered the frozen cranberries in. The book has fallen apart or I would give you the title because this book  was worth every penny. It is kind of crazy that I have been making these recipes for over thirty years  and they are still as scrumptious as when I made them way back when.

I don’t know why I ever made that cheese soufflé way back when, but I suspect it had to do with the Julia Child craze. She made a lot of soufflés and they always seemed to be a lot of work. In actuality they aren’t, but when you are in college who wants to go through the trouble of whipping egg whites and then beating yolks? Maybe that is why I was attracted to this soufflé, because it requires nothing but a food processor. No baking and whipping egg whites at the last minute; you can stick it in the freezer and bake it when you want. It never fails to wow guests, and it never disappoints on flavor. Though it isn’t as light as Julia’s, it is rich and creamy and divinely simple!


Our Chaverah makes this every year for break the fast on Yom Kippur. Though I love blintz casseroles, this kind of ups the ante so to speak.This is comfort food for me and I decided it would be good to freeze one for Thanksgiving weekend. I wasn’t sure if or when I would use it, but I knew eventually it would find a home. Well, it didn’t take long. Sunday morning before everyone left me, I put it in the oven. My kids even got out of bed to eat it. Or should I say scarfed it? Unfortunately not many leftovers for me.

I love the crusty, golden, cheesy parts that stick to the side of the soufflé dish. You will see what I mean when you make your own. The only drawback to this recipe is that you need to put it in the oven about 90 minutes  before you want to eat it. I kind of look at this as newspaper time. You know-when everyone is still sleeping and you have the paper to yourself?

The weekend is here. And though this makes for a satisfying brunch it also makes a superb light dinner. It is perfect for a luncheon, too. In fact, it is just a perfect dish. You will worship me for this recipe. Well, I did always want to be a princess.


Frozen Cheese Souffle
Serves 4-8
Time to make: About 20 minutes to prepare and 60-90 minutes to bake
Ingredients:
1 T softened butter
¼ c plus 2 T Parmesan cheese (about 1 ¼ oz) room temp
6 eggs
½ c sour cream
½ t dry mustard
½ t salt
8 oz sharp cheddar, cubed and room temp
8 oz cream cheese, cubed and room temp
Directions:
Butter the sides and bottom of a 1 to 1 ¼ qt soufflé dish.

Using the steel blade of your processor, grate parmesan finely. Sprinkle 2 T Parmesan over sides and bottom of buttered dish. To the remaining cheese in the work bowl, add eggs, sour cream, mustard and salt. Combine well. With motor running, add the cubes of cheddar and cream cheese, a few at a time. When all are added blend 20-25 seconds. Pour mixture into prepared dish, cover well and freeze.

When ready to serve, bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for up to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until center is set. If you like it crusty you can bake it longer. You may bake it without freezing in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes.











Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chocolate Red Wine Cake with Strawberry Filling and The Easter Bunny


Oh no. Have you heard about the worldwide chocolate shortage? It's true, and in case you haven't, you can read about it here. This is bad news for chocolate bunny lovers and chocolate brownie lovers and chocolate chip cookie lovers and well...me. I am a chocolate lover and there is almost nothing a handful of chocolate chips won't cure. I am in deep do-do when the craving hits and I have to go through withdrawals. Thank goodness even Weight Watchers now allows for chocolate.

For some folks, lemon might signal the sign of Spring and for others it is asparagus. For some it might be peas or strawberries. For me it is seeing chocolate bunnies lining the grocery store shelves or those chocolate Cadbury eggs that I have yet to have. I also adore the chocolate malted milk eggs and those robin eggs in the bright turquoise color, that have the crackly shell and are filled with chocolate. Yes, these to me, are the true signs of Spring.



As a  a good Jewish girl, loving Easter candy is something my parents probably started. You see as kids, there was always an in house Easter egg hunt- I guess so the neighbors wouldn't see- and there was always a chocolate bunny waiting for its head to be bitten off. Yes, my folks came through on the chocolate. For better, not worse, we did not continue the Easter egg hunt when our kids were young. I can remember Alex Odie San China Boy wondering what a bunny had to do with Easter and what was with hunting for eggs when he thought it would be so much better to hunt for rabbits. I'd always relate it back to hunting for matzoh (though there are good explanations for this) and then the stakes were even, until Zoe would chime in that, "those bunnies are just so cute." And then one year I broke down and got them one, (on the day after Easter), and they were astounded that I did.  They then bit the head off and left the rest to sit in their rooms for days on end, until I threw them away. That was the end of the Easter bunny in our house!

In my house, my favorite quote kind of goes like this... "In the beginning, the Lord created chocolate, and he saw that it was good. Then he separated the light from the dark, and it was better." No I did not write that-I took it from a chocolate site. And I took this one too. "My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M’s and a chocolate cake. I feel better already," said Dave Barry.






And now it is Easter and the stores are lined with Easter bunnies, which makes me think chocolate, and chocolate makes me think cake, and if I did want to lump chocolate in with a few other favorites, I maybe would choose red wine-which of course goes perfectly with chocolate. And then we could add in strawberries, because all three things are so good for you.  I have heard that if they are eaten together their health quotient increases incredibly. Just sayin'.

If I were to add another quote and this one from moi..."Get ready for the chocolate shortage. Eat more now!"

                                                                                                                                                                

This is a perfect chocolate cake for the spring season. Strawberries and red wine really make this cake sing...not to mention me. Just keep in mind that by using fresh strawberries, this cake should be eaten within a few days or refrigerated. Of course, that shouldn't be a problem! If you don't want to make the cake with red wine, check out my absolutely fabulous, most favorite chocolate cake, that I've been making for 39 years. Feel free to use the same filling and if you don't want to use wine, just use water or pomegranate juice.



Chocolate Red Wine Cake with Chocolate Frosting and Strawberry Filling
Serves 10-12
Time to Make: About 60 minutes
Adapted From: The Nest
Ingredients:
2 c sugar
1 c unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c pinot noir
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c self rising flour or (3/4 t baking powder, a pinch of salt and 1/2 c flour)
1 1/2 c cocoa
1 t baking soda
1 t salt

Strawberry Filling
16 oz fresh strawberries, diced into 1" pieces though I did leave some in slices
1/2 c pinot noir
1/2 c sugar
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper (Optional)

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 c softened butter
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 c cocoa

A few fresh strawberries for decoration

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9" cake pans and dust well with cocoa. Using a stand mixer, cream sugar and butter together on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each before adding another. Reduce speed to low and add vanilla and pinot noir. In a large bowl combine flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well with a fork. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix on medium speed until smooth, about two minutes.

Divide mixture between 2 cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes-inserting a toothpick to determine if the center comes out clean. Sides should also be pulled out slightly from the edges of the pan. Let cool on rack for about 20 minutes. Now start the filling.

Filling:
In a medium saucepan, heat strawberries, pinot noir and sugar over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, bring heat up to high and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Strawberry Filling should be reduced by about 1/2 and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in pepper if using.

For the frosting:
In a stand mixer, beat softened butter on medium speed for 3 minutes. Slowly add half of the powdered sugar and beat on low for 1 minute. Add the whipping cream and beat on low for one minute. Slowly add the cocoa powder and the rest of the powdered sugar and gradually increase the speed to high. Beat for three minutes, until fluffy.

On a cake plate, place one layer of the cake with bottom side down. Frost with a thin layer of frosting. Now top with the filling, reserving a little bit for garnish. Now top with the other cake round, round side up. Ice with the rest of the frosting. I chose to use most of the frosting on the top of the cake, rather than icing the entire cake. That way you can see the pretty interior. I also used a few dried strawberries on top, because I like their color, next to a few fresh ones. I then drizzled with a little of the reserved filling. (This sure beats a chocolate rabbit!)

More Chocolate Desserts to Pin and Share:
Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake
Quick Chocolate Cake
Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake
Flourless, Gluten Free, Passover Fudge Cake
Black Bottom Chocolate Bundt Cake
Easy Raspberry Meringue Cake with Chocolate Ganache
The Ultimate Katherine Hepburn Brownie
Alton Brown's Chocolate Chip Cookies


















Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bacon, Leek and Buttermilk Irish Pie


I can't imagine what it is about St. Patrick's Day that makes me think green. Spring makes me think green, too. And so it is I found myself with a pile of  monster leeks that were absolutely gorgeous. Needing something to do with them, and not wanting soup, my tired brain decided pie. I have no idea why-but pie they became.

Pie or quiche? It really doesn't matter what you call it. This pie/quiche though uses buttermilk which is a new one for me. No heavy cream, no half and half. Just buttermilk, which makes it savory and tangy and light. It does taste deliciously though of bacon and cheese. And of course leeks; that don't even need to be sauteed. This is so easy to make. Oh, I forgot to mention the mustard. I love mustard and mustard is awesome with leeks. And bacon. And cheese.


And then there is the oatmeal crust. It is a very sturdy crust which is very necessary to hold all these leeks. And just because there are a lot of leeks, don't think this tastes too oniony. Because it doesn't. It just tastes good. And filling. And now I'm getting hungry. And if you don't have time to make the crust, just buy one. Because today I'm all about easy. And maybe a beer, if someone put one in front of me.

I roasted some cabbage wedges to serve on the side. And some teeny roasted red potatoes would be great, too. You know the baby ones. Sprinkled with a little sea salt. And you could brush them with bacon grease, like I did the cabbage. And if you really wanted to, you could sub out the bacon for corned beef; but I'm a pretty big lover of bacon. And I'm a pretty big lover of this pie.


Bacon, Leek and Buttermilk Irish Pie
From: Irish Abroad
Serves: 6
Time To Make: Well that depends on if you make a crust, or have a beer, or use corned beef, or bacon-so let's just say about 30-60 minutes.
Ingredients:
Oatmeal Crust
1/4 c Irish oatmeal
1/2 c wholewheat flour
1/2 c plus 2 T all purpose flour
1 t salt
5 T butter
3 oz Dubliner Irish Cheese, shredded
3 T water or Guinness
Directions:
Lightly grease a 9 or 10" pie pan. In a food processor, combine oatmeal, both flours, salt, butter and grated cheese. Process until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the water or beer (who are we kidding here?) and mix to form a dough. It should start to form a ball. Denver is dry so I had to add a bit more beer. Use your judgment, just save some for the crust! Chill, wrapped in wax paper for up to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to  a 12" diameter. This is a heavy dough-not flaky! Transfer to pan and make beautiful. You can see I'm really good at that! Prick crust with a fork, line with foil and pie weights or dried beans. Bake about 12 minutes and remove.

Ingredients for Filling:
8 slices of thick bacon, cooked crisp or use 1-2 c of shredded corned beef
About 3-4 c of sliced leeks or enough to fill your crust
4 eggs
1 3/4 c buttermilk
4 oz Dubliner Irish Cheese, shredded
1 T wholegrain mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Directions for filling:
Crumble the crisply cooked bacon. Spread bacon on bottom of crust. Top bacon with the leeks. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, cheese, mustard and cayenne. Beat well. Pour filling over bacon and leeks. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top starts to brown and filling is set.

A Few More:
Chili Lovers Meatloaf
Donburi Bowl
Guinness Irish Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Shrimp Salad Croissants

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Magic Caprese Salad and the Rewind Bar




Magic is the  power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces. Magic is also wonderful or exciting like in a magic moment. Magic is also the reason you may never skip chemistry class. "The MAGIC, (Most Attractive Guy/Girl In Class) in chemistry class is so fine, I'll never skip again." Magic is also what happens when you mix tapioca maltodextrin with oil-say what? Molecular gastronomy, hardly an appetizing word, is magic at work; only on food. And what magic it is.

A few weeks ago Manservant and I headed downtown to rewind, relax and unwind...at Rewind Bar in the 1515 Restaurant at 15th and Market in Denver.

lodo-denver-bar-rewind

 We were ready to rewind our day and start over again. Rewind delivered. Paula and Gene Tang, our warm hosts, have owned and operated 1515 Restaurant for almost 20 years. But resting on their laurels is something that Gene and Paula don't do. Reinventing their bar space, which is also the entrance to their upstairs restaurant, was several years in the making, but a near perfect transformation has now taken place.  Think brick walls, cozy nooks and an LED lit bar that changes color. Yeah, it is a whimsical way to redefine a cultured space.  I can't wait to check out the patio this summer, when the windows are thrown open, too!

Gene-the chef and business owner who hails from Hong Kong, decided that the molecular gastronomy scene is lacking in Denver. After reinventing his downstairs bar space he decided to have some fun, not only with his cocktails, but  his menu.  You've got spherification, emulsification, gelification, transformation and probably other "cations", and things I can't even pronounce, let alone spell. However, the two good things I'm good at are eating and drinking, in which case Gene has me covered.

molecular-gastronomy-drinks

Strawberry Lemonade with strawberry "caviar" and shattered raspberry mojitos made with liquid nitrogen shattered raspberries, are just two of the drink choices to be had. Social Hour is the ultimate deal with $5 martinis and choices from lavender to chai. Oh my! Each Monday, Rena, unveils a new drink which is like chemistry in action. Too bad my high school chemistry teacher didn't have experiments like these! Manservant loved the bourbon basil old fashioned, which my friend Barb recreated on her site.

Moving over to the "eatification" side found me face to face with a giant mozzarella ball blown up with CO2 and scented with garlic air, and then plopped on a beautiful caprese salad.


The upstairs dining menu is French influenced, and also influences the bar menu which is evidenced by the escargot and scallops, that we also sampled. Manservant totally drooled over the Colorado 7X Waygu beef, that was cooked over a hot stone in individual slices. Lest one think that the food is a bit on the fancy side, I didn't get to try the mussels and fries or the poutine or the French Onion soup; which of course gives me a reason to go back. And if I do want something from the upstairs menu I can get that at the bar, too! Most everything is local, which Paula and Gene pride themselves on.   

Lounging too long was not in the repertoire and thankfully Gene took us on a tour of his knock out space. (I may never have wanted to get up otherwise!) Up the stairs we went where we saw his elegant dining room and his killer wine cellar. What a gorgeous space that has not escaped the eyes of Wine Spectator from which he has received an award of excellence for the last 15 years. Gene assured me that there were also many choices in the "my budget" range! Then it was down the stairs to see his private dining room which would make the perfect  dining space for anyone who needs to impress a special group.


We totally enjoyed talking to Gene and Paula. They have a daughter who works at the embassy in Shanghai...always a good contact to have, should Alex Odie San China Boy need it! And their other daughter lives in Philly. Plus they gave us some names of a few Chinese restaurants we've never been to. How small a world is that? 

Last but not least, it was back to Rewind where we finished the evening with Cherries Jubilee. Can't find that many places anymore. Maybe it took a bit of rewinding to remind us that old school food and new school ideas can totally transform an old space into something quite magical.
_______________________________________________________________________________

Gene and Paula, being the great hosts that they are, sent us each home with a lovely bottle of wine and a small packet of tapioca maltodextrin. Being the great chemist that I am, I researched what to do with this. Not having much to go on, I learned that mixing tapioca maltodextrin with things high in fat, creates these cute little oil pearls. After cooking them briefly the pearls became almost nutty and tasted of the garlic flavored oil that I used. 


They are very light and fluffy and keep in a covered container for at least a week. Sprinkled on top of a salad creates a rich experience when you don't want oil floating all over the plate. I tried this salad with and without the pearls and it was much better with. Our guests might think these were sprinkles of cheese, but that is the illusion of magic, shall we say?


Caprese Salad
Serves 4
Inspired by: Rewind Bar
Ingredients:
2 packets of Tapioca Maltdextrin (These totaled about 3/4 of an ounce.)
Olive Oil of your choice (I used a garlic olive oil)
Arugula
Variety of Tomatoes
Basil
Basil Paste
Marinated Mozzarella Balls
Good Balsamic Vinegar
Pine Nuts
Olive Oil Crumbs
Sea Salt and Fresh Pepper
Directions:
Combine packets with enough olive oil to make a very thick paste. This shouldn't be more than 2 T of olive oil. Using your hands drop small balls into a hot skillet. I kind of used a thin spatula to turn them over to get them to brown. They are very light. Remove from heat and store in a tightly covered container.
Line a platter with some arugula.Slice a few pretty tomatoes and arrange decoratively on top of the arugula. Intersperse some basil. Squirt a few dabs of basil paste around the platter. Top with a few balls of mozzarella. Drizzle with a little bit of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with pine nuts and your olive oil crumbs. Grind a little fresh pepper over the top and sprinkle with sea salt. (We samples this with and without the olive oil crumbs. We loved the olive oil crumbs!)


A Few More To Try:
Cap'n Crunch Meat Loaf
Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Meatballs
Chinese Noodles with an Angry Egg
Chinese Sloppy Joe

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pulled Chicken Tinga Tostadas and #TheHotBreadKitchenCookbook


Chicken Tinga Tostadas are not the recipe I'd expect to find in a book about bread. And even though I did find it in a book about bread, it is not one I expected to like so much. But I did, and that is why I'm posting two Mexican recipes in a row. You don't mind, do you? Well, Manservant didn't either!

I received the book, "Hot Bread Kitchen " from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The cover of the book may have caught your eye if you like looking at spectacular photos of bread. Winter is the perfect time to bake-especially bread-as my kitchen has no air conditioning- and baking bread requires a warm spot. Not only that, but this book by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez of Hot Bread Kitchen fame in East Harlem, leaves a warm spot in my heart. Jessamyn is the bright mind behind the social enterprise that provides a life-changing education for low income minority women. Bakery trainees are taught skills that allow them to get management track positions in the food industry or even start their own businesses. How cool is that? Each loaf of bread sold helps pay for this mission.

The bread that is baked every day is inspired by the women that are trained there, and the book reflects this. Chapters such as unleavened flatbreads and then leavened flatbreads, leads to tortillas and challah, and filled breads and sweet breads, and quick breads and what to do with leftover bread. Yes, that's a lot of bread. And the fun part is that there are breads in this book that I've never heard of. Breads such as M'smen  and Nan-E-Barbari and Momos all make an appearance. Though I don't consider this a book for novice bakers, it certainly is one to peruse for numerous ideas in bread baking. Additionally, it includes recipes besides bread, that this group of international women cook for their families.


 Hence the chicken tingas, that is perfect with Hot Bread Kitchen tortillas and the chopped liver that works well with the recipe for matzoh. Yes, there are definitely recipes in here that may show up on my Passover table. I had the opportunity to try several of their creations and though I didn't feel all were perfect, I did pick up a few new tricks.

 Jessamyn's challah is a bit salty for my taste but her recipe made a gorgeous loaf. Jessamyn employs a technique using pate fermentee  which is a pre-ferment dough, like levain, but it doesn't impart a sour flavor to the final recipe. It also allows one to use less yeast in the dough and helps extend the shelf life of the final product. I have made many challahs, but none that used this technique. It does require an added step, which means planning 8-24 hours ahead, so that the pate fermentee can later be mixed into the challah bread dough.  Did it extend the life of the challah?  I do believe it did, but this loaf also had a lot of salt and that may have helped, too. Jessamyn also brushes her challah with an egg wash during the second rising and then again before it goes into the oven. What emerges is truly a spectacular bread. Her braiding instructions were too tough for me to follow, so I relied on my tried and true method. I'll do a post about challah soon, I promise.


Banana bread was also on my radar screen, as the low and slow method of baking intrigued me. Can't say I was overly impressed by the flavor, but maybe my bananas were lacking. The amount of nuts and chips added in were also on the low side, if you want to taste them in each bite. Currently I'm working on her bialy recipe, as she uses Mimi Sheraton's recipe, which I have also interpreted. They seem to be pretty good, but I haven't tried toasting them yet! All in all, this book is a joy to read and though the recipes may need to be tweaked for a home baker, I am not adverse to trying more. The photos are drool worthy and I love reading the notes and stories behind each recipe. This is a book meant to be read and lingered over and I am glad it is now part of my collection.

So the chicken tingas? A hit in our house. Really a home run. No I didn't make the tortillas. I did fry them myself, though. Does that count? Making the chicken is easy as pie-or should I say bread? The tingas are classic Mexican street food where the chicken is braised in a chipotle, tomato sauce. Manservant was glad there were leftovers. We used the leftovers on a quesadilla but they would have also been great in a bowl with rice, beans, and avocado. Dry it out a bit and they are the perfect taco! One of the issues I have with this book is in the measurements. This recipe calls for 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. I have no idea what size chicken is called for, but I used about 1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts. I also switched out fresh tomatoes for a can of diced, because it is hard to find good tomatoes this time of year. This is a superb recipe and I know you will enjoy it!


Pulled Chicken Tinga Tostadas
Slightly Adapted From: Hot Bread Kitchen
Serves 4-5
Time to Make: About 60 minutes total
Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
1 large yellow onion, halved
4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
Kosher salt
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers in adaobo sauce, chopped
3 T olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Directions:
Place the chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add one of the onion halves, 2 garlic cloves and 1 t kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming and discarding the foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and set aside to cool.Do not throw the broth way! Once chicken is cool, shred the meat with your hands and discard the skin and bones.

While chicken is simmering, place tomatoes, 2 garlic cloves, chipotles and 1/2 t salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Slice the remaining onion half into thin half moons. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the onion, thyme and a large pinch of salt. Cook, until the onion just begins to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add the shredded chicken and the tomato mixture to the skillet along with 1 c of the reserved broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is very tender and the flavors have developed, about 20 minutes. Keep warm until ready to assemble tostadas.

Refried Beans
(Adapted from my friend Karen)
Ingredients:
2 strips of bacon
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 c minced onion
1 15 oz can of pintos
1/4 t oregano
1 pinch cumin
Chicken broth
Directions:
Fry bacon. When bacon is crisp, remove from pan, but leave the bacon drippings. You can garnish the beans with the crisp bacon or you can eat it as is! Add garlic and onion and cook until soft. Add beans and cook until warmed. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the beans. I prefer them to have some texture, but that is up to you. You may want to thin the mixture with some chicken broth, depending on how thick you like your refrieds! Season with oregano and cumin and add salt as desired.

Tostadas
Ingredients:
12 6" corn tortillas, home made or store bought
Canola oil
Directions:
In a skillet that can hold the tortillas, heat about 1" of oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the tortillas in one layer. (I usually do one at a time, but you can do s many as your skillet will hold.) Press each tortilla sown with tongs or a spatula to keep them flat. Cook until browned and crisp, about 1 minute per side. I do not like them totally crisp because then the don't break as easy when you add your toppings. As they are cooked, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and blot each side. Set aside until ready to use.

Tostada Toppings:
Refried Beans
Iceberg Lettuce Shredded
1 Tomato diced
1/2 c Mexican Crema or sour cream
1 /2 c crumbled cotija cheese or feta
Chopped Cilantro

To assemble:
Spread tostada with about 2 T of refried beans. Top with a large drained spoonful of chicken tinga, a bit of lettuce, some diced tomato, some crema and a bit of cheese. Garnish with cilantro.

Past March Recipes:
Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Raisins
Guinness Irish Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon
Pickpeppa Shrimp
Hamantaschen

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Red Chile, Chorizo and Cheese Breakfast Enchiladas


Lately I've been wondering what this world is coming to. I can remember my grandma saying that, and now I am saying that, and isn't that a bit scary? All this crazy stuff over the elections is driving 
me batty.

People disagree about so much, but I don't think the food arena is a major battlefield. It might be tough deciding where to dine, because choosing a favorite food or cuisine isn't easy. I'm grateful that by living in the good old USA, we have so many choices. I can assure you that if you live in China, you don't see pizza on every corner, though you may see KFC. In Sweden they have McDonald's, but hubby had a hard time finding a Chinese restaurant. In South Africa, a good bagel was scarce. Costa Rica seemed to have pizza and Italian everywhere, but no Chinese or much else. And growing up in Illinois in the 60's and 70's meant no Mexican food. Thank goodness we are a country of immigrants, or I would probably have never discovered Vietnamese food. I can't live without a banh mi here or there, and Vietnamese noodle bowls are divine.


I don't think we realize how lucky we are. Within 1 mile of my home I  can go around the corner and find Mexican and Chinese and seafood and pizza and sushi and Middle Eastern and the list goes on. It is too bad many of us don't realize what being a melting pot is all about.  I don't get it. If we can all agree on some things, why not others? Trust me.  I may or may not like building a wall at the border, but that won't stop my craving for Mexican food or my fondness for the Mexican people. Middle Eastern food? Jeez, ISIS is sure not for me, nor is Syria, but that won't stop me from eating Middle Eastern food. Should I ban it from my table in protest? That would sure solve things.

So why am I ranting today? Frankly, this election is driving me crazy. FOX news or CNN? I don't really care. Facebook? OMG! This is getting out of hand people. Republicans claim the Democrats won't work with them. Democrats claim the Republicans won't work with them. And on Facebook it just continues. I am tired of Republican bashing, Democrat bashing and people bashing others because of their personal views. Let's rise above this, folks. Congress may not be great, but I do believe they take our cues from us. Well, if not, they should.


Your views are your views. I don't begrudge them. I may not agree with them anymore than I agree with the Mormons who come knocking on my door every year before Easter. (They should be here any day!) These are kind kids who are on a mission and that's OK. I don't understand it, but as long as they understand that my beliefs are mine and there's are their's, and we respect each other, I'm OK.

This is our country and we are all entitled to what we think. Truth is that is what makes our country great. We are free to believe and voice our opinions. It is the spreading of hate and mistruths and the one-upmanship that seems to appear on Facebook, that I can NOT stand. Folks, you are more divisive than Congress. Insulting comments don't bring folks to your side. Stupid jokes don't work either. Can't we all agree that working together is better than not?  It seems like 4 year olds have taken over Facebook. "It's her fault. It's his fault. I didn't do it. She did it. Sorry doesn't help." One thing I know is that life isn't fair, but we have it better than most. Let's try to rise above the vitriol and face the facts. Mexican food is perfect for breakfast!


Red Chile Breakfast Enchiladas with Chorizo and Cheese
Serves 4-6
Time to Make: About 45 minutes
Ingredients:
1 recipe of red chile sauce, but you will have leftovers
1 lb chorizo, cooked and drained
3-4 T canola oil
3 corn tortillas per serving
1 or 2 fried eggs per serving
1 onion, minced
1/2 c grated cheese per serving (I like cheddar or jalapeno jack)
1/2 T chopped cilantro per serving
Oven proof plates for serving

Directions:
Start by making your red chile sauce. I love this stuff and prefer it all ancho chile powder because it makes this sauce extra rich. Brown your chorizo in a large skillet over medium high heat. If I can't make my own, I prefer the Boulder brand if you can find it. Blot free of grease and set aside. Wipe out skillet and heat up your canola oil. Fry your corn tortillas until soft, but not crisp on each side-maybe 30 seconds at the most per side. (Frying the tortillas like this keep your tortillas in the finished dish from getting soggy. You may think you are saving calories by softening them in the microwave, but I promise your finished dish will not be the same. Took me years to learn this!) Set aside. You are now able to fry your eggs in this skillet.

Assembly:
Preheat oven to 350.
Spoon enough chile sauce on the plate so that your tortilla has enough to sit on. Don't drench. Now place tortilla on that. Spoon another tablespoon of sauce on the tortilla. Cover loosely with cheese and onion. Add another tortilla. Spoon another tablespoon of sauce on that. Cover that tortilla with chorizo. Add your third tortilla. Cover with a tablespoon of sauce. Cover that with cheese. Now place in oven to bake for about 5-10 minutes or until your cheese has melted. While these are baking, fry your eggs to your desired degree of doneness. When enchiladas are ready, take from oven and place fried egg on top. Garnish with a little more onion and cilantro.

A few more to try, pin and share:
Shakshuka in Purgatory
Simple Green Chile Egg Souffle
Tortilla Espanola
Hamantaschen


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