Friday, July 15, 2011

Crème Fraîche Cheesecake

Earlier in the week, DD#1 and I had a friendly challenge: to beat one another's scores on a practice test of the verbal section of the GRE. As it happens, I lost the challenge. My score was respectable enough, but she squeaked past me, and so I was tasked with the penalty, and a sore one it was, to make this cheesecake from the NY Times. I even had to eat a piece of it!

First, because the recipe is crust-less, I made a graham cracker/walnut crust, which was improvised from another internet recipe, but which is essentially 1 pkg. of graham crackers (one sealed plastic pkg, not the entire box), crushed; 1/4 c. walnuts, finely chopped; 1 T. sugar; and 1/3 c. melted butter. Mix all together and press into bottom of springform pan. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely before putting batter in to bake per the rest of the recipe.

The NYT recipe calls for sour cherries, pitted and cooked, but my friendly Trader Joe's carries jarred Morello cherries, so I used a jar of these, and the cooked down syrup sufficed for the sauce in the recipe.

The batter requires one quite surprising ingredient, aside from the novelty of making a cheesecake with goat cheese:

The strange thing is that, at 1/4 t., we really didn't notice any peppery flavor. If this grabs you, consider upping the amount to 1/2 t.

Also found at TJs was the creme fraiche, and my, was it rich. Added to the goat cheese and a block of cream cheese, it was divine, and I believe, contributed to the great texture of this cake.

The recipe is a cake walk (yuk yuk), and later, with cherries spooned on top, a slice of this was an outstanding consolation prize.

DD#1 took the real deal today (did great!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Slow-Baked Beans and Kale

Now, at first glance, that title might not entice. However, when I was first directed to the NY Times recipe by DD#1, I thought, hmmm, that DOES sound tasty. Comfort food with extra healthy ingredients. So I picked up some Great Northern beans and dinosaur kale, and over two days, I created this:

Granted, as usual, I didn't play it exactly as the NYT recipe indicated, but the result is quite satisfying. My thoughts on mods for this recipe are:
1. Soak beans overnight (rather than four hours). Rinse well and then continue with recipe, over a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
2. OK, so I don't own Herbes de Provence. Nor could I whip together a Bouquet Garni. But some dried thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf worked nicely. What I am missing with the HdP I don't know, and it seemed irrelevant when we took our first bites of the dish at dinner last night.
3. When I put the casserole in the oven the first time (I cooked it over two sessions), I started with everything BUT the extra water. I added that a bit later. Mainly the reason for this can be seen here:

My casserole was JUST a little too small to do the job, and there was overage onto a cookie sheet I'd placed below. Until much of the first liquid had cooked into the beans (or over the sides of the dish), there was no room for the water.
4. The bread crumb mixture is a great touch, one that somehow satisfies separately from the creamy beans and kale. Next time, though, I'd add some grated Parmesan.

All that said, though, I am making this puppy again, soon! Y-U-M!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Really Drunken Pork


Here's yesterday's culinary masterpiece: Really Drunken Pork. I used both tequila (to deglaze the pan when I seared the pork before cooking) and beer (during the oven time), and the resulting pork stew tastes divine.

Really Drunken Pork
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray and set aside.

1 pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. canola oil
juice of two limes
1/4 c. tequila (hell, put in 1/2 cup!)
3 garlic cloves (not peeled)
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
1 bottle beer (I used Corona)
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. cooked brown rice
salt to taste

Roll tenderloin in flour until well coated and sear in the oil, heated in a frying pan. Turn frequently to get all sides browned. With tequila, deglaze pan and add lime juice. Cook briefly, until liquid is reduced by half. Put pork and pan scrapings into Dutch oven, add garlic cloves, chopped onion, and beer. Cover and cook 1 hour, and remove lid and cook another 15 minutes or so.

While pork is cooking, prepare the following salsa:
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 onion, finely choppped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
salt to taste

When pork is done, remove pan from oven. Remove garlic cloves, squeeze out garlic, and the cooked garlic back to pan. Remove pork to a plate to cool, and use a stick blender to puree the remaining juices, vegetables, and beer broth. Chop pork and return to pan. Add one can of cooked pinto beans, and cooked brown rice. Add salt if needed. Reheat gently.

Put pork stew on plates, and add a generous helping of salsa and a dollop of sour cream. I know the picture shows a glass of red wine, but it's best eaten with a cold beer. ;^)
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tasty Stuffed Chiles

Call it inspiration from being in the desert Southwest of the US last week, where so much food is made with blue cornmeal and Mexican elements. I just got this idea yesterday and had to see it to completion. We had the leftovers this evening, and they were even better than last night's meal! Could be slightly revised to make in a slow cooker.

Polenta-Stuffed Chiles
3-4 poblano chiles, straight shaped if possible (for easier stuffing)*
1 onion
1 T. canola oil
1 pkg (about 14 oz.) fresh chicken breast tenders
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 14 oz. can of tomatoes
½ c. red wine (optional)
1 c. chicken bouillon
½ head of garlic (roasted ahead of time)
1-½  c. parmesan, shredded
1 c. cilantro, washed and chopped
½ pkg. prepared Trader Joe’s polenta (approx. 9 oz.)

Wash peppers and cut off tops. Save usable parts of tops and chop with ¾ of the onion. Meanwhile, remove seeds from peppers without cutting into them. Rinse out thoroughly and set aside. *Note: though poblano peppers are not particularly “hot,” when rinsing them, you may cough from the fumes created by the water spray. Similarly, if you handle them without gloves, you may regret rubbing your eyes later.

In oil, sauté onion and pepper on medium-high heat, and after a few minutes add the chicken tenders. Sauté all together until chicken begins to brown, turning chicken tenders at least once during this time.

Remove chicken to a waiting plate or bowl. Add 4 of the Romas and the canned tomatoes (or one 22 oz. can tomatoes will do fine, instead) and chop down as it cooks with the onions. When hot, add the wine and cook off alcohol. Cover with lid, turn down flame, and let simmer until all tomatoes are quite soft. Add ½ c. of the cilantro and cook down, uncovered.  

Lightly grease the bottom of oven-proof casserole with oil.

Meanwhile in food processor, add the polenta, remaining chopped onion, roasted garlic, chopped Roma tomato, 1 c. parmesan, and ¼ c. cilantro. Mix thoroughly. Using a long handled teaspoon, fill peppers with this mixture, which will be slightly liquid.

Lay chicken pieces in bottom of casserole dish; use them to prop up the peppers slightly so that the filling doesn’t drip out. Add peppers.

If any filling remains, just add it to the tomato mixture that is now cooked down. Puree in food processor. Pour tomato mixture over the peppers and chicken. Place lid or aluminum foil on casserole and bake for 45 minutes. In last ten minutes, remove lid, add last of the cilantro and then last of the parmesan. 

Cook uncovered until golden brown on top.

 Bon apetit!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Okonomiyaki (Say THAT three times, fast!)

 Because I love trying new foods, and found my curiosity piqued by someone's FB post earlier this week, I decided I'd lived too long never having heard of Japanese pizza. While I want to keep trying different versions of the recipe, this was quite tasty, and I had to stop at half a "pizza" to keep to a reasonable portion size.

Here's my rendition:

Okonomiyaki with Unagi

3 small Japanese eggplants, sliced
6-8 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. chopped green onion
1/2 c. finely shredded cabbages
1 c. flour
1 egg
~1 c. dashi, divided use (I used a powdered kind and reconstituted it)
1 T. mayo
Japanese pizza sauce (this was my least favorite taste sensation, but mixed in with everything, it was fine)
Seaweed flakes (ao-nori)
Furikake (a sesame seed seasoning that I've used for sushi in the past)
4 oz. prepared unagi (BBQed eel), chopped

Saute eggplant, mushrooms and green onions in a scant tsp. oil. Add 1/4 c. water or dashi and cover to cook eggplant to a nice soft consistency. Remove to bowl and wipe out skillet.

In a small bowl, place flour and make a well in the middle. Add egg and 1/2 c. dashi. Stir together just until it forms a dough. Mix in cabbage.

Heat skillet  to medium high and add another tsp. oil. Add dough, spreading out evenly in pan. It's nice if it's round, but, heck, it doesn't matter!

When browned on one side, probably 2-3 min., carefully flip over to cook again. Now place pancake (oops! pizza crust!) on a plate. Add sauteed vegetables.

In small jar, mix mayo with 1 Tbsp. dashi and shake well. Drizzle over pizza. Using bottled Japanese pizza sauce, do the same thing in the other direction. Sprinkle with ao-nori flakes and furikake (sesame seeds and seaweed), to taste. Top with chopped unagi.

Cut into wedges or just dig in.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Roast Pork Loin "Carnitas"

I love Trader Joe's! They have awesome pork tenderloin in the meat section that couldn't be easier to roast and serve. Here's what I did with it this time.

Pork "Carnitas"                       

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (on "Roast" if you have a convection oven)

1 pork loin (approx 1 lb.)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 t. salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil (divided use)
juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
cooked rice
2 onions, diced
1 pasilla or ancho pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Roma tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
sour cream

In a Dutch oven or Le Creuset-type pot, heat 1 Tbsp. oil. Add paprika and cumin, and when hot, place pork loin in pan. Cook on high a minute or two each side, lowering flame if it starts to get too hot.

When loin is seared, add juices to deglaze the pan, scraping sides and bottom. Place lid on pot (or tightly seal with aluminum foil) and roast for 30 minutes in preheated oven.

Allow to sit 10 minutes.

Remove meat to a plate (and as much of the sauce as you can get too) and add the remaining olive oil, onions and peppers to the pot.
On the stove, saute until softened and browned. Take off the heat.

Chop pork loin coarsely, in approximately bite-sized pieces. Add sauce back into pot with cubed pork and toss to mix.
Chop tomatoes and cilantro.

Whip sour cream with a fork. Place rice in serving bowl or platter. Top with chopped meat. Layer onions and peppers on that, and end with tomatoes and then cilantro.

Sour cream can be drizzled over the entire dish or placed on table for guests to serve themselves.

Hope there will be leftovers for tomorrow night!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crock-Pot Chili

While summertime is not often the season I most want to make and enjoy this recipe, it is so dang good that I decided to include it here. You need only toss a number of great ingredients into the slow cooker before you leave for work, and when you get home, the house will smell divine. If you have time, make a batch of corn bread to go with it.

Crock-Pot Chili
1 lb stew meat, patted dry with paper towels
3 T. chili powder
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt
1/2 t. dried oregano
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed
1 28 oz. can tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 sm. can whole green chiles
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped fine (opt.)
2 T. tomato paste

Place beef in bottom of crock pot and cover with spices. Stir to coat pieces. Add other ingredients in whatever order; stirring is not necessary at this point. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-6 hours.

When ready to serve, garnish with chopped cilantro. Sour cream is also perfect dolloped on top.

Forgot the finished product photo (again!) so you'll have to wait until I make it next time. Or better yet, go ahead--make it anyway. 8^)