Sunday, September 20, 2009

Birthday Brunch Redux

This past week was a little light on activity for me because I was completely distracted by my birthday! That's right, my birthday was this past Wednesday, September 16. In celebration of my birthday and the birthday of a dear friend (Mickey), I hosted brunch at my house last Sunday. A week later (today) I'm finally getting a chance to post pics of the tasty treats that went with some bottomless mimosas :)

Me, Mickey and Jenn a while back - two of my close friends!

Turkey Sausage & Cheese Strata

* 1 large (20 ounce) loaf Italian or French bread, cubed
* 1 cup cooked turkey breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
* 1/2 large onion, chopped
* 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, or 1 garlic clove
* 1 cup sauteed mushrooms and red bell pepper
* 3 Tablespoons butter
* 3 1/2 cups skim fat milk
* 12 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
* 2-3 Tablespoons spicy grain prepared mustard
* 2 cups total shredded cheese; combination of gouda and smoked cheddar
* Sprinkle of Herbs de Provonce
* 1/4 c. of Panko

How To Make Strata Breakfast Casserole

1. Spray a 9" X 13" baking dish with vegetable spray. Set aside.
2. Cook sausage until done. Drain on paper towels.
3. Saute the onion and garlic together in butter.
4. Saute mushrooms and red bell peppers until just tender.
5. Place half the cubed bread in the prepared baking dish.
6. In a large mixing bowl, whisk or beat cream, half & half or milk, eggs, salt, pepper and mustard until foamy and blended well. Remove from mixer and add cheese.
7. Layer half the onions, veggies if using them and bacon or ham on top of the bread.
8. Pour half the milk and egg mixture over the bread. Repeat with another layer of bread and all the toppings, finishing off with the remaining milk and egg mixture.
9. Press the mixture down with clean hands until all the bread is soaked. Sprinkle with herbs. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top, press again, and refrigerate the strata at least 8 hours or overnight.
10. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 65 - 80 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. During the last five minutes, sprinkle the top with panko. Let cool about 15 minutes before serving. Be careful, the strata will be hot.
**Serves 8 - 10 main size portions, or 15 -20 brunch size servings.

This recipe is an old one my mother has made many holiday mornings, it's tasty with ham instead of the sausage and you could sub just about any veggie you can think of for the mushrooms and bell peppers, same for the cheese. It was a huge hit. We enjoyed the strata and our mimosas and then later had a sweet treat with these delicious chocolate coconut macaroons.

The backstory here is that earlier in the week I had met my father at Whole Foods for lunch and we got some chocolate coconut macaroons for dessert, they were so good that I became slightly obsessed with finding a comparable homemade version. I've got a few recipes I'd like to try other than this one but this was really tasty and so easy I'll definitely make it again.

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
*4 ounces semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
*3 large egg whites
*1/4 cup cocoa powder
*3/4 cup granulated white sugar
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*2 1/2 cups sweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a stainless steel bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir in the coconut and melted chocolate, making sure the coconut is well coated. If the mixture is too soft, refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
4. Place small mounds (about 1 tablespoon) of the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing several inches apart.
5. Bake for about 15 or until the macaroons are shiny. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool.
**Makes about 20 Macaroons

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Slightly late Labor Day Tart....

National Holiday, red white and blue tart...yup that sounds good to me. Sorry my Labor Day weekend was spent mainly watching loads of college football (which means my Labor Day post is nearly a week late!), the kick-off of one of my favorite things just happens to coincide with a three day weekend, coincidence, I think not! Before college I could've cared less about most sports, yes I was a Cowboys fan back in the day (thanks to my Mom) but really sports just didn't have much time in my changed that, I drank the orange kool-aid, got brainwashed, whatever you want to say but yes I became one more of the devoted, one those folks who have two seasons each year - football season and not football season! So, to celebrate, here's my red-white-blue tart for the end of the summer holidays (oh and yes to anyone who needs to know - my Longhorns have been doing quite nicely, 2-0 for the season, yes it might be a slightly simple schedule to date but I have faith that the winning will continue!).

Raspberry - Blueberry Tart ala Mode

2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Stick Cold Butter, Diced into Cubes
1/4 Cup Water

1 1/2 Cup Fresh Raspberries
1 1/2 Cup Fresh Blueberries
1/2 Cup Sugar
Zest of 1 Lemon

1. In a food processor, add all dough ingredients. Pulse until well combined. Remove dough from processor and knead with a small amount of flour until smooth ball forms. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
2. Heat oven to 400F. Grease and flour 9-inch tart pan.
3. Roll dough out on a well floured work board or counter-top to about 1/4 inch thickness. Roll over rolling-pin and then lay over tart pan, press into pan.
4. Gently mix berries, sugar and lemon zest.
5. Place berry mixture inside the shell. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serve with a scoop of ice cream!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hatch Chile Week - Day Seven: Hatch Chilaquiles

On the tongue
one can taste
conquistador's sword
piercing hides
of a thousand tribes
where skin bruises
calloused heel of naked foot
loin cloth and brass
Bolivia unfolding
If you listen to the crackle
gunning against lustful chicharras
perched among the mesquite's
still limbs
delicate as a child's embrace
you get fallout
of acidic torrents
Tarahumara talismans
strewn in a heart of seeds
To eat Hatch
is to eat Espanola and Chimayo
monsoon downpour
of silt and filament
is to eat adobe
homo smoke tendrils
of cedar and sassafras
unfurling dusk
and the sun torn faces
of its people;
construction belts cocked waist-side
tired denim & broken boot heels
sunk in red pulp of mud
where dances a white scorpion
And lift the hood of an old pick up
to eat exhaust
bash the knuckles on failing engines
curse carburetors
and canticles of Church mad sufferings
and hail the saints
of the downtrodden
eat them too
in molcajete mash
peyote and holy waters
for broken levies in the ducts
ablutionary floods
wrecked glands in the aftermath
To eat Hatch is to eat Sandia
& Rock City, Old Mesilla
receive sacred Capsaicin
& excavate the bones of Papago
make offerings to Chiltepin
L'itoi Ko'okal
prayers of new beginnings
where birthed a woman
I call mother
desert child with thick convictions
& cancerous misshapings
in the chest cavity
a single cactus flower
flowing outward
from the scar
taste razor mesh
in the holy emerald
corrugated border walls
& boot stomped altars
in shadows of saguaro
strewn pants empty
with blood on the knees
speckled like red strewn ristras
half drunk water bottles
& love letters
left to stew
in ghosts of parched dreams
where discarded sheaths of rattlesnake
slither in the breeze
to eat Hatch is to eat exoskeleton
of trembling coyote
volcanic rubble and fossil of fern
desert clamshells that keep rainbows
that mimic the cosmogenesis unfolding
of nebulas yet to be bom
in ripe plums of midnight
a reptilian abode
deep in the red, nuclear fallout
of spent bombs
smoked honeycombs
& petrified oysters
rusted harmonicas
wailing nursery rhymes
half throated war ballads
electric duende
in the seed-Flamenco!
clutch the stem
and taste yucca
flautist blowing arias
of brilliant infernos
scribing the esophagus
with the abandon
of Lorca's pen
and I devour each verse with
wild consideration
the way an infant swine gobbles at its mother's
fleshy nipple
for that noble nectar
only to be harvested
and flared forth
in the gut of origin.
Canto for a Hatch Chile
Tim Hernandez

After running out of chile facts I stumbled across this, it's a little more literary than I tend to be on my blog but it seemed like a good way to close my Hatch Chile week posts. Today's post is an homage to one of my favorite foods, something that I didn't even know existed until the last few years (really since my parents moved to Mexico), Chilaquiles. What are Chilaquiles you ask,

Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish. Typically, corn tortillas cut in quarters and fried are the basis of the dish. Green or red salsa or mole, is poured over the crispy tortilla triangles, called "totopos." The mixture is simmered until the tortilla starts softening. Eggs (scrambled or fried) and pulled chicken are sometimes added to the mix. The dish is topped with cheese (typically queso fresco) and/or sour cream (crema), and it is served with refried beans. Like many dishes, regional and familiar variation are quite common.

Usually, chilaquiles are eaten at breakfast or brunch. This makes them a popular recipe to use leftover tortillas and salsas.

To start my Chilaquiles, I needed some salsa, I make red salsa fairly often but haven't made green salsa, which seemed much more accommodating to my Hatch Salsa Verde it is!

Salsa Verde
5 Tomatillos
1/4 Large Sweet Onion
3 Whole Cloves, Peeled Garlic
3 Hatch Chiles (Seeded or not depending on your preference for heat)
1/2 Cup Cilantro
1/2 Tsp Salt
Juice of 2 Limes

1. Broil/Roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and chiles until they are charred on the outside. Turn to ensure even cooking.
2. Remove from oven once they are charred, allow them to cool.
3. Toss all veggies, salt, cilantro and lime into a blender and blend until desired consistency.

12 Slightly Stale Corn Tortillas
1/2 Tsp Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 - 2 Cups Salsa (Red or Green)
Creama/Sour Cream
1 12oz Can Chicken

Possible Garnish:
Chopped Red Onion

1. Heat large skillet with oil. Cut tortillas into quarters. Saute tortillas in oil until they are slightly crispy and browning.
2. Remove tortillas from skillet, place chicken and salsa in skillet and heat until warmed (a few minutes at most). Put tortillas back in skillet and mix. Serve topped with creama and whatever garnish you desire.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hatch Chile Week - Day Six: Hatch-Hefewisen Chile

Today I'm cheating a little and re-posting an oldie but a goodie, Hatch-Hefewisen Chile! Originally I made this from some frozen Hatch Chile that I had saved from a previous Hatch Festival (ala Central Market), it was intended to showcase my favorite Texas Beer (Shiner Bock) for Texas Independence Day but instead will be used to as a platform for this weeks theme, Hatch Chile!

The origins of the Hatch Chile can of course be traced to Hatch, New Mexico! Hatch is known as the Chile Capital of the World (a self proclaimed, but well deserved title). Nearly one hundred years ago, Dr. Fabian Garcia, a horticulture professor, developed a chile pepper that was bigger, fleshier, and milder in taste and resembled a vegetable. Suggesting field-gathered seeds to be used instead of certified seed sources, farmers could then plant peppers that produced consistent and fixed heat levels, thanks to Dr. Garcia. Thus the Hatch Chile was born!

Hatch-Hefewisen Chile
1 Bottle Shiner Bock Hefewisen
3 LB Ground Sirloin
3 15.5 oz Cans Pinto Beans
2 28 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Roasted, Chopped and Seeded Hatch Chile (yup, I'm aware this beauty is from New Mexico but that's okay)
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 Small Chopped Onion
1 Small Can Tomato Paste (pretty sure that's a 6 oz can but can't remember)
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
2 Tbsp Adams Extract Pinto Bean Seasoning
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Salt
3 Cups Beef Broth
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Garnish)

1. Brown the ground beef in large stew pot with a small amount of olive oil, season liberally with salt and pepper. Once it's brown, remove it from the pot and drain off any excess fat.
2. While the meat is draining, saute the onion and garlic until onion is tender, approximately 5 minutes.
3. Put meat back in pot with onion and garlic, add tomatoes (with juice), beans, beer, diced/seeded chili and beef broth. Season with Chili Powder, Pinto Bean Seasoning, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper and Salt...I have given measurements as a baseline, taste it and season until it tastes like you like it!
4. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes. After it has simmered, remove about 1 cup of the liquid and mix in the tomato paste, then pour into pot and mix well.
5. Serve hot with cornbread and some cheddar cheese on top!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hatch Chile Week - Day Five: Cream Cheese Hatch Enchiladas & Calabacitas

Chile peppers are the mysterious and highly addictive vegetable that may cause brows to sweat, noses to run, eyes to tear, and alas, guttural hiccups upon overdose. It’s a painfully pleasant experience we in the Southwest have become addicted to (some of us from birth, some of us have grown into it)!

The noble chile plant has been a part of New Mexico’s culture and cuisine since the early 1600s when the Spanish first planted along the fertile Rio Grande valley. Hundreds of years later, the powerfully pungent pod remains dear to New Mexicans. Although chile is now grown worldwide, New Mexicans self-assuredly declare “our pods are peerless.”

Chiles range in color from yellow to green to red to black. Some are long, slender and no thicker than a swizzle stick while others are rotund and nearly spherical (check out these crazy chiles on Donna's Blog, My Tasty Treasures). They vary in length from 1/2 inch to 12-inches, nope don't go applying that logic to the photos linked above! Some chiles are spicier, and others are hotter - usually the smaller the chile, the fiercer its bite.

Now that I've made a habit of opening this week's posts with tidbits of chile info I had to make sure to spice up this post similarly! Time to get down to business, today's Hatch recipe is Cream Cheese Enchiladas con Hatch and Calabacitas.

Cream Cheese Enchiladas con Hatch

12oz Softened Cream Cheese
5-6 (depending upon desired heat) roasted, seeded and chopped Hatch Chiles
14-18 Softened Corn Tortillas (depends on how tightly you roll and fill your enchiladas as to how many you'll need)
1 12oz Can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, I highly recommend Hatch Brand
1 Cup Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 Lb Fajita Chicken (I cheated with mine and used the frozen pre-cooked fajitas but you could easily grill a few chicken breasts and slice them into fajitas)

1. Preheat the oven to 375, grease a large 13x9 baking pan.
2. Combined cream cheese, chopped chiles and chicken in a large bowl.
3. Place 1 tbsp chicken/cream cheese/chile mix inside (plus at least one piece of chicken) a tortilla, roll gently and place inside pan. Continue until all tortillas and mix have been used up.
4. Pour Enchilada Sauce over the pan full of enchiladas. Evenly distribute cheese over the top of the sauce.
5. Bake 30 minutes (or until browned and bubbling on top).

*Now, a few notes are necessary - I did take a short cut and use frozen chicken fajita strips (I had a ton of them in the freezer) which turned out moist and delicious, you could also substitute canned chicken (my mom has a great recipe where she does that) or you could grill and slice up chicken fresh for the recipe, just depends on how much time you have.

As to how best to soften corn tortillas, my mom always has done it where she puts a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag and places the tortillas she wants to soften inside the bag. Then reheats them in the microwave for 30 seconds at a careful they get steamy hot but it's a great trick!

3 Zucchini, Cut into Rounds
1/2 Cup Diced Tomato
1/2 Cup Diced Sweet Onion
2 Cobs of Corn, Cut off the Cob
1 Tsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
4 Seeded, Roasted, Chopped Hatch Chiles
1 Tsp Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp Olive Oil

1. Spread zucchini rounds on a large baking sheet, spray with olive oil/vegetable oil and roast at 425 for 5-10 minutes, until the start to just slightly turn brown. Remove from oven.
2. Preheat a large skillet with olive oil at medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, saute until onion is tender.
3. Add remaining vegetables and seasoning, saute until everything is cooked through.

My take on calabacitas is minus any kind of dairy product (there are many delicious recipes out there involving cheese) but it's was intentional, I decided there was plenty of cheese to be found amongst the enchiladas!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hatch Chile Week - Day Four: Beer Braised Pork Chops and Hatch Chile Stuffing

Perfecting the spelling of 'Chile' happened in 1983. Senator Pete Dominici made it official by putting it in Congressional Record. He rose and addresses the United States Senate, declaring that even though the word was chili in the dictionary , New Mexicans refuse to spell it the way the rest of America does, and so, he said, he stood before the full Senate and with the backing of my New Mexican Constituents state unequivocally that the dictionary is wrong. Then, after extolling the virtues of New Mexico chile, he told his colleagues, Hospitable as we are to all visitors, we have chile that is mild enough to make a baby coo in delight, or hot enough to make even the strongest constitutions perspire in a sensual experience of both pleasure and pain. He ended by saying, I could go on and on about the wonders of red and green chile, but in reality, all I wanted to do was inform Congress on the correct way to spell the word. A highly interesting tidbit found on the Chile Traditions Website.

So being one who might occasionally mix-up the spelling of Chile/Chili I wanted to gather a bit of intel on how it all works and what the 'proper' way to spell Chile is! Today's chile recipe is a permutation of a food near and dear to my heart, stuffing! It's funny, as a kid I thought stuffing was reserved for holidays and really felt (yup I'm about to offend the good cooks of my family) that no matter who made it, it really was just smushy bread that was heated up a few too many times....a very scientific opinion, huh? Well that's all changed, I'm a convert, of course it has to be good stuffing, but I can assure you, this recipe is! It's a little bit of work for a week night because it requires fresh cornbread but it's so worth it, I swear.

1 8x8 Pan of Fresh Cornbread (mix or from scratch), Crumbled
2 Cups Old Bread, Crumbed
3 Pieces Raw, Chopped Bacon
1/4 Cup Sweet Onion
1/2 Tsp Roasted, Minced Garlic
1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
1 Chopped Green Apple
3/4 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Tsp Ground Sage
1 Tsp Ground Thyme
2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Black Pepper
2 Chopped, Seeded and Rinsed Hatch Chiles

1. Heat bacon along with onion and garlic in a large skillet until bacon is beginning to crisp.
2. Add green apple and chiles to the mix, cook until apple begins to get tender (appx 5 minutes)
3. Add raisins, chicken broth, sage, thyme, salt, pepper and bread crumbs (both corn and regular).
4. Allow to cook until mixture begins to get crispy, stir so that it crisps evenly.

Now, while you've got your stuffing going (actually before you start it), you'll want to find a tasty protein to go with...although that stuffing is tasty on it's own! I choose some delicious, thick-cut bone-in pork chops that were on sale at the market. To me pork chops are so tasty with a sweet-ish side/sauce and this stuffing made the perfect combination of sweet/spicy and pork!

Shiner Bock Braised Pork Chops

1 12oz Bottle Shiner Bock Hefewisen
1 Tbsp Honey
1/3 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Essence of Emeril*
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Cider Vinegar

1. Mix Flour with ginger, salt, pepper and Essence of Emeril. Dredge pork chops in flour mixture.
2. Heat a large skillet to medium-high (with 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in it). Once skillet is hot, brown pork chops on both sides.
3. In a bowl, mix beer, cider vinegar and honey.
4. After pork chops are browned, pour beer mixture into the skillet, braise for 1 hour, turn once during the process.

*Another goodie from Foodbuzz!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hatch Chile Week - Day Three: Hatch Chicken Stew

Hatch, New Mexico is located 37 miles north of Las Cruces via I-25. The northern most incorporated community in Doña Ana County, the Village of Hatch is home to some 1,673 residents, many of whom work in the fertile fields of the surrounding Hatch Valley. The area produces the world famous Hatch Chile and is home to the annual Hatch Chile Festival, which draws thousands to the village. Hatch is located just west of the banks of the Rio Grande. So one of those oh-so southern traditions to me is having a 'queen' of a there a Hatch Queen? If so, where do I sign up?

Enough of that, for today's Hatch Special I'm serving up a hearty, tasty Hatch Chicken Stew. I know it is a thousand degrees where I am but I still love a good hot soup sometimes, plus it's sort of fall...mind over matter, if I wish it to get cool, eat like it's cool, dress like...wait, what am I saying, I'm not wearing a sweater in 100 degree heat! You get the picture though, this is a tasty stew well worth eating year round.

Hatch Chicken Stew

2 Whole Cloves Garlic
Rib Meat and Bones from 3 Split Chicken Breasts
1/4 White Onion
1/4 Red Onion
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
3 Qt Water
1 Cup Carrot
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Chile Powder
4 Ribs Celery
4 Chopped Tomatoes
2 Cloves Crushed, Minced Garlic
3 Chopped, Seeded, Roasted and Rinsed Hatch Chiles
1 Qt Chicken Stock (see recipe below)
1 Tbsp Chile Powder
1 Lb Chopped Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 Tbs Flour
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1/2 Qt Chicken Broth
3 Chopped Chicken Breasts

1. In a large stock pot, bring first ten (through Celery) ingredients to a boil, allow them to simmer two hours.
2. Remove stock from heat, strain and set 2 quarts of it aside for use in the stew. Freeze additional quart for future use.
3. Heat stock pot with olive oil over medium heat. Dredge cubed chicken in flour. Place dredged chicken in stock pot, once all sides are cooked, add liquids (chicken stock and broth) to pot.
4. Add cumin, salt, chile powder, tomato, potato, garlic and hatch chilis to pot.
5. Bring to boil, allow to simmer (covered) for 4 hours. Stir occasionally.

I didn't have the energy to make cornbread the night this was served so we ate it with a crusty demi-baguette, but this would be delicious with cornbread!