Monday 27 February 2012

Mexican Posole Stew

I tried making Posole a long time ago and it did not turn out great.  I decided to try making it again and change a few things up in my recipe.  This new version I was more than thrilled with, so good!  The stew just got better and better everyday, perfect for leftovers.  You can control the level of spice by adding more or less of the peppers depending on what you like.  I used chicken in my stew, but you can  use slow cooked pork as well.  I roasted a whole chicken in the oven and then shredded the meat with a fork.  Make sure you use a very large pot!

Mexican Posole Stew

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 28 oz. can undrained pinto beans
  • 1 28 oz. can white hominy, drained
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juices, pureed in blender until smooth
  • 1 small can of Jalapenos with juices
  • 1 Tbl. Mexican oregano
  • 1 Tbl. chile powder
  • 1 Tbl. garlic powder
  • 3 tspns. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper
  • Cooked chicken (from a 4-5lb. whole chicken)-shred the meat into smaller pieces
  • To serve: Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, flour tortillas, cabbage
-Heat oil in a large pot over medium low heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring often until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and stir until softened, about 2 minutes longer.  Stir in the broth and the next 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Cover; simmer stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.  Add reserved chicken.  Simmer uncovered for 30 more minutes for the flavors to meld.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide among bowls and garnish with cheese, cilantro, lime, cabbage and tortillas.  

Friday 24 February 2012

Simple Thai

Bon Appetit Magazine recently did a feature on Chef Andy Ricker, of Portland's award-winning Pok Pok.  The article features fantastic Thai recipes and tips from his restaurant.  We're big fans of Thai food, but I have only attempted cooking classic Thai dishes limited times.  I decided to make the Fried Prawns with fresh turmeric and garlic with the Long bean, Cucumber, and Tomato salad with Coconut rice.  Delicious!  Check out the article, Chef Andy Ricker gives great tips and guidelines on how to make your meal easy and simple.  Enjoy!

Fried Prawns with fresh turmeric and garlic

  • 1 knob of fresh turmeric, peeled, cut into rounds (about 1 Tbs.)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, tough outer leaves removed, bottom 4" thinly sliced (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 1 tspn. kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1 lb. uncooked giant prawns, peeled keeping tails intact, deveined
  • Vegetable oil
-Smash turmeric, garlic, lemongrass, and 1 tspn. salt in a mortar with a pestle until a rough paste forms, 3-4 minutes.  Combine prawns and turmeric mixture in a medium bowl.  Stir well, rubbing mixture into prawns.  Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

-Pour oil into a wok or a large nonstick skillet to a depth of 1/2". Heat oil over medium heat until deep fry thermometer registers 300 degrees.  Season prawns with salt; add to wok.  Fry, turning occasionally, until cooked through and lightly golden, 4-6 minutes.
-Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a platter.  Skim crispy bits from oil and spoon over prawns.  Serve with Coconut Rice (recipe below)

Long Bean, Cucumber and Tomato Salad
  • 2 dried chiles, soaked for 2 minutes in warm water, drained
  • 3 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 lime, cut into 3 wedges
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. dried tiny shrimp
  • 9 long beans or green beans (2 1/2 oz), trimmed, cut into 2 1/2 lengths
  • 2 kirby cucumbers or 1 English hothouse cucumber, coarsely chopped into 1" pieces
  • 2 Tbs. Thai fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbs. crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts
-Place first 4 ingredients in a clay mortar and pound with a wooden pestle until mashed into a fine paste, about 5 minutes.  Add shrimp; mash until pulverized and well combined, about 2 minutes.  (alternatively, process in a mini-processor until finely chopped)  Place beans and tomatoes in a resealable plastic bag.  Roll a rolling pin over bag to bruise vegetables; transfer to a bowl with the cucumber, fish sauce, lime juice, and chile dressing. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes.  Stir in the peanuts.

Coconut Rice
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tspn. kosher salt
-Rinse rice in a large bowl with cool water until water runs clear.  Drain rice.  Combine rice, coconut cream, sugar, salt, and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan.  Bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 40-45 minutes.  Fluff rice with a fork; cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

San Francisco Weekend

I took a weekend getaway to SF to see close friends, celebrate a birthday, cheers to an engagement and go wine tasting. San Francisco has the best food, it was hard for me to decide on where I should have some tasty treats.  Below are a few of the amazing dishes I enjoyed.  I received great recommendations from friends, relied on Yelp and some trusty blogs and I wasn't disappointed.  Each time I go back it feels like home, there is no other city like it.  Great to see everyone and cheers to next time!....I'll bring Aaron and Jack with me next trip :)

Zuni Cafe- Amazing! I have been wanting to go here for so long. We had the best service from Tim, our waiter.  I think service can really make or break the experience at a restaurant and he was fantastic.  I started with some oysters, their oyster list is lengthy and amazing.  I had the duck leg with polenta and mushrooms with a sausage and veggie puree.   I have only had duck breast before and I enjoyed the duck leg because it was less fatty and so flavorful.  This restaurant is so cute, the perfect place to celebrate with my good girlfriends! I just ordered the Zuni cookbook this morning!  (The pictures aren't great, but hopefully you'll get the idea)

Straw- Awesome brunch. So simple and so delicious.  The bloody Mary was so good, the perfect amount of spicy.  I had Wilbers Revival, braised pork hash with creamy grits. The pork was cooked perfectly and the runny egg made it even better.  This place is small and kind of silly, but that is what makes it so worth it.  You can even eat your brunch sitting in a tilt-a-whirl! Our server  had my friend model his pink tassel apron and Bill Withers was blaring in the background, perfect way to start a Saturday.

I love to go wine tasting, specifically in Healdsburg at the smaller wineries.  We had beautiful weather and really great wine.  Some of our favorite wineries: Yoakim Bridge, Wilsons, Robert Young, Bella and many more.  We stopped at Jimtown Store after some tasting and I had a delicious sandwich: Prosciutto with Fig and olive spread & Pt. Reyes blue cheese.  Simple and fantastic! Fun store too...cute homemade items with antiques.

Chez Papa- I have read a lot about Chez Papa, and was excited to eat here.  The food was very good, the service not so much.  I'm not sure I would eat here again, but I did enjoy my meal...even if I had no guidance and waited 25 minutes for my martini.  The restaurant has a cool, hipster vibe and the menu didn't disappoint.  We started with the Kobe beef tartar and Bibb lettuce salad with mustard vinaigrette.  I had the Roasted Butterfish with potato gnocchi and Brussels sprouts.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs with Baked Beans

This meal is perfect for a lazy day.  I love trying different short rib recipes and this one is so easy and very delicious.  The ribs stew in a slow cooker for seven hours and leave your house smelling like heaven.  I can't even begin to describe how tasty the baked beans are.  A lot of homemade baked bean recipes take hours and hours...this one uses canned beans to cut the cooking time in half.  The bonus and my favorite part of these beans is the crumbled pancetta you add to the top with sprinkles of toasted rosemary. Delicious!

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 soy sauce
  • 3 Tbl. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbl. dark brown sugar
  • 4 lbs. beef short ribs
-In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat hot, then cook the onion, stirring until softened and golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar, stir until smooth, and heat for 5 minutes.  Place the short ribs on a cast iron pan and cook until well browned.  

-Arrange the ribs in a large slow cooker.  If you have a round slow cooker, stack them.  Pour over the sauce, distributing the onions over all the ribs.  Cover and cook on LOW until tender and the meat starts to separate form the bone, 7-8 hours.  Transfer the ribs to a platter.  Let the sauce cool for a bit, then spoon the liquid fat off the surface and discard.  Pour the sauce over the ribs and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Baked Beans
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 peppers from the canned chipotle chilies in adobo (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 3 28oz. cans of cannelloni beans, drained, rinsed
  • kosher salt & pepper
  • 8 slices pancetta, diced
  • leaves from 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • extra virgin olive oil
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put molasses, ketchup, mustard and chilies in blender and puree.  Scrape into a big bowl, add beans and season with salt and pepper. (**the pancetta is salty, so don't over salt the beans)  Toss so beans are coated.  Divide mixture to 4 individual crocks.  Top each crock with pancetta, rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the pancetta starts to golden.  Enjoy!

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Roast Sea Bass with Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Corn

This dish is delicious and so perfect for an easy dinner party if you are looking to impress.  You don't have to use sea bass, you can substitute halibut, monkfish, salmon or swordfish.  I prefer the buttery taste of sea bass, and it turned out fantastic.  Make sure you buy fresh mushrooms, it makes a huge difference. We served brown rice on the side with white wine.  Tasty!

Roast Sea Bass with Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Corn

  • 1 3/4 lb. sea bass fillets, skinned
  • 2 tspns. chili powder
  • coarse salt and fresh pepper
  • 2 Tbl. olive oil
  • 4 cloves, minced garlic
  • 2 Tbl. dry white wine
  • 3/4 lb. shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean, stemmed and sliced
  • 1 can baby ears of corn, drained and halved on the diagonal
  • 5 green onions, including tender green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Sprinkle sea bass fillets with the chili powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the olive oil and wine into an attractive baking dish large enough to hold the fish fillets in a single layer.  Scatter the garlic over the bottom of the dish and place the fillets in it.  Arrange the mushrooms on top.

-Roast for 15 minutes.  Baste the mushrooms and fish with the pan juices every couple of minutes. Scatter the baby corn ears over the fish and continue to cook, basting two to three times, until the corn is heated through and the sea bass is opaque throughout, 5 minutes longer.  Remove from the oven and garnish with the green onions.  Serve directly from the dish.  Enjoy!

Monday 6 February 2012

Orecchiette Bolognese with Celery & Parmesan Salad

This pasta is so good, I promise you that you will never want to buy a store bought red sauce ever again.  Such a great pasta for a cold night and the fresh basil and oregano make it so special.  The celery salad is a real surprise.  This recipe is one of Ina Gartens, and she once again didn't disappoint.  It is really light and we thought it went perfectly with this pasta.  The dressing is very flavorful and you can't go wrong with fresh Parmesan.  Enjoy!

Orecchiette Bolognese

  • 2 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground sirloin
  • 5 tspns. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbl. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tspn. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (good brand such as San Marzano)
  • 2 Tbl. tomato paste
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 3/4 lb. orecchiette pasta or small shells
  • 1/4 tspn. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
-Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon for 5-7 minutes until the meat starts to brown.  Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute.  Pour 1 cup of wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, a little less than 1 Tbl. salt, and 1 1/2 tspns. pepper, stirring until combined.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 Tbl. salt to the water and a splash of olive oil, and the pasta.  Cook according to the instructions on the box.  While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce.  Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.  When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl.  Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well.  Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Celery & Parmesan Salad
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tspns. grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbl. freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 2 Tbl. minced shallots
  • 1 tspn. celery seed
  • 1/2 tspn. celery salt
  • 1/2 tspn. anchovy paste
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 5 cups thinly sliced celery hearts, tender leaves included, sliced on an angle (about 12 stalks)
  • 4 oz. chunk aged Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Whole flat leaf parsley leaves
-At least 1 hour before you plan to serve the salad, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, the shallots, celery seed, celery salt, anchovy paste, 2 tspns. salt, and 1 tspn. pepper.  Place the celery in a mixing bowl and toss it with the remaining 1 Tbl. of lemon juice and 1/2 tspn. salt.  (Make sure you do these 2 steps separately, they are all part of the salad but it does make a difference)  Add enough dressing to moisten well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the celery to crisp and the flavors to develop.  When ready to serve, arrange the celery on a platter, shave the Parmesan onto the celery with a vegetable peeler, then sprinkle the walnuts, parsley leaves, salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Enjoy! 
**To toast the walnuts, place them in a small dry saute pan and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes, tossing often, until browned.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

I love a good Spinach-Artichoke dip and I finally made one that I think I'll stick with.  If you're looking for something delicious and easy to make for a Superbowl party, try this.  This is made with fresh spinach and sharp cheddar cheese.  I add a hint of red pepper flakes, but you can omit it if you don't want the spice.  Enjoy!

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 10oz. bags spinach, stems removed
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tspns. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tspn. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tspn. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded white sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, squeezed dry and roughly chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Chips or crackers for serving
-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Stir in the spinach and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds.  Drain and rinse under cold water; squeeze out the excess moisture, then finely chop.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and 1/2 tspn. salt and cook until the onion is soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan and sour cream  Return the pot to medium heat.  Add the spinach, cheddar and artichokes and stir until the cheese melts and the dip is heated through.  If using, sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on top and stir in. Serve with crackers or chips. 

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Lamb Chops with Mint, Tomato and Garlic Sauce and Yogurt Cucumber Salad

These lamb chops are so tasty.  I have made them a few different times and each time I am thrilled with the way they turn out.  The tomato-garlic sauce that goes on top of each lamb chop you literally will want to eat with a spoon when you first taste be careful not to to do too many taste tests!  Be sure to buy good bone in lamb chops, it makes such a huge difference.  The cucumber salad is the perfect side and we usually make an easy couscous as well.  Enjoy!

Lamb Chops with Mint, Tomato and Garlic Sauce

  • 8 thick-cut bone in lamb loin chops, each 1 1/2 inches thick, 2-2 1/2 lb. total
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for coating, plus 2 Tbs.
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs. chopped flat parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tspn. balsamic vinegar
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, cut into narrow strips
  • 8 fresh mint leaves, cut into narrow strips
  • 1/4 dry red wine
-Trim off the excess surface fat from the lamb chops.  
-Brush the chops on both sides with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Press the chopped parsley and basil firmly into both sides of each chop.  Let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil.  Add the shallot and saute until softened, 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to release their liquid, 3-4 minutes.  Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and mint strips.  Set the sauce aside.
-Preheat a large, cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot.  Add the remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil, then add the lamb chops and sear for 2 minutes.  Turn the chops over and sear for 1 minute.  Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers at 125 degrees for very medium rare, 5-6 minutes.  Transfer the chops to a warmed platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.  Pour any excess fat from the pan.  Set the pan over medium-high heat, add the wine and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits.  Add the tomato sauce and any juices from the platter and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat.  Divide the chops on plates and spoon the sauce over the chops.  Serve immediately.

Cucumber-Yogurt Salad
  • 2 cups of plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tspn. ground cumin
  • 1 tspn. minced garlic
  • 2 tspns. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 chopped fresh mint
  • salt and pepper
-Combine all the above ingredients in a serving bowl and mix well.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve.