Friday, July 31, 2009

Chorizo-ed Out Baked Potatoes

After eating quite healthy for a week, I decided that "eating in sin" was the way to go for this next dish. When I think of a baked potato, I always think of the baked potato that my mom or dad would serve with dinner - not even baked at all. Nuked in the microwave for about 10 minutes, slit in the middle, and served with a slice of butter. Not too fancy, and not too good - for me anyway. Way too boring and didn't excite my mouth.

So I perused for a good LOADED baked potato and came across this recipe from The Noshery that I just couldn't resist. I fell in love with this recipe mainly because it had some meat in it - chorizo sausage. Perfect mix of spicy and pork. Some of my 2 favorite things.

4 Potatoes (I used Russet because there's big and I was super hungry)
10 oz. ground chorizo
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
sour cream
shredded cheddar

This is definitely another quick fix meal for a weeknight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Start by wrapping the potatoes with a damp paper towel and nuke them in the microwave for 10 minutes. When I first read that they were going to be nuked in the oven, childhood memories of bland potatoes came back to me and I was a little frazzled, but I gained composure and knew that these were no ordinary potatoes. Also, watch carefully that the damp towels don't dry up in the microwave, because I had a few potatoes that kind of melded with the paper towel, but it's nothing a little elbow grease and some water can't rub off.

Meanwhile, while the potatoes are in the microwave, heat up the chorizo in a skillet for about 5-10 minutes, until all of it is cooked and set aside.

I got chorizo sausages and just removed the casing instead of buying a roll, because every time I buy a roll of sausage it seems that I never use the whole thing and it ends up going bad. This way, if I have extra chorizo sausages, I can just grill them up for a quick lunch.

In a small bowl, mix up the olive oil, salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

This was heaven in a bowl. This mixture could really be put on anything. Potatoes, veggies, steak, etc. I had to control myself from licking the spoon like it was left over brownie batter.

Brush a little bit of the mixture on a sheet pan and place potatoes on top. Score the potatoes and mash each one down. Not too rough though, still want the potatoes mostly in tact.

I almost lathered my potatoes in the olive oil mixture because it was THAT good.

But smother as much on as you see fit.

Then place potatoes in oven for about 25 minutes, when outside is a bit crispy but potatoes are still tender.

Top however you like your baked potato, mine consisted of a layer of shredded cheese first (so it could melt on top of the hot potato), then LOTS of chorizo, sour cream, and a garnish of green onions.

Boy was this delicious. I made 2 for the both of us, but I could only eat one. Starches are quite filling, but it was so good I had to save my pretty little potato for lunch the next day... and it was still just as amazing!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spicy Green Beans & Shrimp

First of all, I want to thank anyone and everyone that voted for my eggplant dish in Foodie Fight's Battle #8: Eggplant/White Wine. Crossing my fingers that the results turn out in my favor, or at least that I kept up with the competition!

So, in the mean time, I figured I'd post this quick and delicious recipe for Spicy Green Beans & Shrimp that Andy and I had for dinner last week. Credit goes to Dishing Up Delight's blog who found the recipe from another blog, so I guess this is just a turning into a chain, so feel free to pass it along to the next guy. This is definitely something that can be fixed up on a weeknight and not feel guilty about eating it, because it's mucho healthy.

What You'll Need:

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 in. pieces
3 tblsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 tea. ground coriander
1/2 tea. ground cumin
1 tea. salt, divided
1 tea. freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (I used cayenne pepper)
3/4 lb. raw shrimp (peeled and deveined, I also left the tails on mine)
zest from 1 lemon (cut lemon into wedges as garnish for plating)

As far as the cooking, it goes by pretty quick.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the trimmed beans in 1 & 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, coriander, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Toss shrimp in separate bowl with remaining 1 & 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Spray sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and lay down green beans in single layer. Roast in oven for about 10 minutes. Make sure to stir them up mid-way.

After 10 minutes, layer shrimp on top of beans and roast for about 5 more minutes, or until shrimp looks pink and juicy.

Squeeze lemon on top of shrimp and save wedge for garnish. Enjoy!

I couldn't believe how delicious this was. So simple, so fresh... sooooooo gooood.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Foodie Fight Battle #8, Eggplant/White Wine: Double Fried Eggplant Cakes w/ White Wine "Icing"

First of all, when I found out that I was a contestant on Foodie Fights I think I almost went ballistic. It was like that feeling you get when you get that neon pink Barbie Big Wheel for your 4th birthday. Yeah... it felt THAT awesome.

Then, I go to check out the secret ingredients and I just slumped. Eggplant?! I don't ever cook with eggplant. What the heck am I going to do with that thing?

And as the day progressed, all that I kept thinking about was fritter, fritter, fritter. Everything tastes good fried. Haven't had a single thing that was fried that wasn't good. So let's give this eggplant thing a try.

Before I could even start, I had to do my research. Had to check out my opponents, all of whom look like they know their stuff. Found out that eggplant has "nicotinoid alkaloids." And you're thinking... whata whata whata-oids?? Basically, a close relative to tobacco. So light bulb! Let's do a play on that and make eggplant cigars! I had extra wonton wrappers from making some tarts a few days ago and it'd be perfect.

During my research, I learned that eggplant is a good absorber. So I cranked the oven up to 450 degrees, salted and drizzled my 1 somewhat medium, somewhat large, purple eggplant and stuck it in the oven to roast.

So while I waited for the eggplant to roast, I started making a little medley in my food processor: 1 halfway seeded jalapeno pepper, 3 garlic cloves, 1 cobb of corn (taken off the cobb, of course), and 1/2 of an onion. Pulsed it to get a little chunky chutney of sorts and set it aside.

About 20-25 minutes later, my eggplant was hissing at me so I knew it wanted to get out. I let it cool for a few minutes and then peeled the skin. Now this next part is quite important. The eggplant, being the good absorber that it is, it very much made up of water and liquid, just like it's cousin the tomato, so it's very essential that you strain the eggplant! I left mine in a strainer on top of a bowl for about 30 minutes, checking on it every 5-10 minutes to turn it over or press it down to release some juices.

When the eggplant looks like it's about through leaking, I did a rough slice and put it in the food processor. Add salt, pepper, and a swig or two of white wine. Pulse a few times until well mixed and eggplant is kind of mushy, but still somewhat chunky. Add eggplant to corn chutney mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 beaten egg, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 tablespoon softened butter. Fold in eggplant mixture.

Fill large pot or saucepan with about 2 inches of vegetable oil and place on medium to high heat. You'll know when it's hot enough when you can flick some water on it and it sizzles. Or you can take it's temperature if you want to play on the safe side, about 350-375 degrees.

Take out your wonton wrapper and put a small spoonful of eggplant mixture in middle of wrapper. Roll up into cigars and fry until brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes. As they brown, place on paper towel lined plate to dry.

And wait, the title says DOUBLE FRIED. I had some tempura batter in the pantry so I decided to dip the fried cigars into that and fry for a second time. The tempura gives it a kind of sweet taste that makes you forget the cholesterol worries of anything deep fried.

And wait, the recipe says cakes... don't get me wrong, the cigars were divine, but I had so much eggplant mixture, I had to have a back up plan in case the wonton wrappers didn't work. So I pretty much just took the filling and pattied them out into cakes, and followed the same procedure as the cigars. Just as good, if not better! Andy was the true taste-tester and did say he liked the cake better, but it was a tough decision.

To set everything off, I made a white wine "icing." After all, you can't have cake without icing.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup white wine (I used a dry chardonnay), 1 cup heavy cream and bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and grated aged Emmentaler cheese. I also threw in a pinch of garlic powder. Let sauce cool away from stove.

When the sauce cooled, I didn't like how thin it was, after all, it was supposed to be "icing." So I took out my electric beater and started whipping it. It got a tad bit thicker and it was perfect. The taste, the texture, and now it was time to see if it worked well with the cake.

I split one of the cakes and slowly dipped it in the "icing." My fingers trembled as I slowly brought it to my mouth to have a bite. "Please be good, please be good." I crossed my fingers, took a chomp, and O-M-G... I was in heaven. The sauce was the savory component to the sweet cake. It was perfect and I was pleased!

For my first ever Foodie Fight, if I don't impress anyone, I can still be happy to know that I greatly impressed myself. I was able to really think on the fly, with a down right challenging ingredient, and pull something out and have it taste delicious. This has been a true learning experience for me and just proved to myself more that I just LOVE LOVE LOVE to cook.

Fritter/Cigar Mixture:

1 cobb of corn, corn kernels sliced off.
1 jalapeno, halfway seeded
1/2 medium onion
1 medium to large sized eggplant
3 garlic cloves
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
salt and pepper to taste
tempura batter mix
wonton wrappers, for cigars
vegetable oil, for frying

White Wine Icing:

1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried oregano
grated aged Emmentaler cheese (no specific amount, just as much as you want)
pinch of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicken Teriyaki

Considering my Asian background, I really think I wouldn't do my culture justice if I didn't include some Asian-inspired dishes every once in while. I came across this teriyaki sauce recipe over the weekend and just had to try it. I know, it's a Japanese thing, and I'm Filipino. But hey, I'm broadening my Asian horizons.

Surprisingly, teriyaki is extremely easy to make.
You'll just need equal parts of these ingredients (the recipe says 2 tablespoons of each, but I doubled it because I had a few more pieces of chicken and I love extra sauce):

honey (or maltose)
dark soy sauce
sake (i used hot sake as opposed to cold)

Then for the chicken brine/marinade: (and once again, I doubled everything)

1/2 C water
2 Tbs dark soy sauce
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
2 Tbs mirin

4-6 skin-on filleted (boneless) chicken thighs (I used breast fillets and a few drumsticks)
As far as the recipe goes, like I said, it's extremely simple and straight forward, practically anyone can make it.

Combine water, soy sauce, brown sugar, and mirin in bag with chicken and let sit in fridge for about an hour or so.

When almost ready to take chicken out of fridge, combine honey, soy sauce, mirin, and sake, in small saucepan and bring to boil, but be careful not to let it get too crazy. You'll know it's done when it looks glossy. It won't be thick, but that's alright, the flavor is still there and that's what matters.

Take chicken out of fridge and prepare a hot grill. I love the char a grill gives chicken so that's why I chose to do it on the grill, but this can be done just as well in the oven.

When chicken is cooked on one side, flip over and baste with some of the teriyaki. Put on as little or as much as you'd like. This is your chicken so it's up to you how you like it. When ready to take off grill, drizzle other side with remaining sauce, or keep a little bit to dip chicken in.

And there you have it, Chicken Teriyaki so easy a caveman could do it... (I hope Geico doesn't sue me for that.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Flank Steak Enchiladas with Tomatillo Green Sauce

Before anything, let me first say, that I am super stoked about being chosen to participate in this week's Foodie Fights: Battle Eggplant/Wine. This is definitely a tough one because I've only really used eggplant a few times in my culinary adventures, but with a little research I think I might be on to something. And the competition is fierce, kinda makes me feel like a little fish in a VERY huge and advanced pond. But more updates on that later...

I was checking out Food In My Beard's blog the other day and there was a recipe for flank steak enchiladas that I just had no reason not to try. For 1, we never cook mexican/spanish food at home. 2. i love flank steak. 3. after making avacado salsa verde a few weeks back, i fell in love with the tomatillo. So I just couldn't pass it up. For complete recipe check out the blog, there's always something delicious and entertaining there.

First things first, preheat oven to 450 degrees and roast 1lb cored tomatillos, 3 halved and seeded jalapenos (i didn't seed them all the way, because i like a little punch), and 2 halves of an onion. Drizzle with some olive oil and salt, then roast until they're a little brown on the edges, I think it took maybe 10-15 minutes.

After that, I let them cool for a little bit and then pulsed all the veggies in the blender. Depending on how you like it, you can make it chunky or smooth, but that's up to you. Add some garlic and cilantro and whatever else you might have laying around that sounds good. I was going to add some cream cheese, but forgot, so it never happened. But it turned out like this...

Had a little kick to it, that's for sure!

And instead of using 8 New Mexico dried chiles, I used about 4 because I had them on hand and didn't feel like buying more at the store. I then soaked those in about 2 &1/2 cups chicken stock and 2 & 1/2 cups water mixture under medium to high heat. I let them soak for maybe 20-25 minutes.

Next step was to blend the liquid and peppers in a blender. Since hot liquids in a blender don't really go together well, I let the mixture sit out for a little bit to cool. (an immersion blender could have solved this problem, but that's on my christmas list) Then, I put the chiles in first and blended those up first, added the slightly warm cooking liquid and just pulsed so it wouldn't all blow up. Worked well and had a minimal mess to clean up.

Set that mixture aside and get the flank steak out. Sear on both sides, I did mine for about 3 minutes each side, then set aside on cutting board/plate.

Chop up some onion and a few more jalapenos (once again, i left some seeds in) and cook in a pot for about 10 minutes. Add some garlic and cook for a couple minutes longer. Then bring back the pepper juice from the blender and mix in to pot. Add the flank steak. I grated a couple cloves in, pinch of cinnamon, tablespoon of cumin, and a shake or two of cayenne pepper. Then I covered pot and let sit on stove on low for about an hour and a half. About 45 minutes into it, add some diced potatoes.

I had some masa harina laying around and also made homemade tortillas just like Dan. Honestly, I've only just used it in tiny amounts to thicken things up - sauces, soups, etc. Never used it for it's actual intended purpose, to make tortillas. But it was really pretty easy though, just add water, basically. My tortillas didn't turn out quite as circular and perfect as Dan's did, but it was my first time and I was a tad bit clumsy. The authenticity and effort was there though.

Back to the steak and pepper mixture, take steak out with tongs and let sit on cutting board/plate a few minutes to cool. Then shred. I got tired of trying to shred thinly, so I ended up with half shred, 1/4 chunks, and 1/4 strips. Made for a good mix. Return shredded/chunked/stripped steak back to liquid and stir.

Put oven on broil. Fill tortillas with steak/potato mixture and fold in and place tortillas, crease side down in baking pan. I put shredded cheese in the tortilla first, then placed steak in. Add cheese on top of tortillas along with tomatillo sauce. Can put more cheese on if you wish. Place in oven and broil for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted, and enjoy!

Everything was so tasty and great, thanks Dan for the idea!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Clam & Pork Stir Fry & Truffle Butter Potato Au Gratin

So I've been working on taking better pictures with my rinky dink Kodak digital camera from the stone age, and I think I really am starting to get that "depth of field" look I've been after.

You may be thinking to yourself, Clam & Pork Stir Fry... who ever heard of such a thing. Well, that's exactly why I wanted to try it out after reading the Food & Wine Magazine's article on quick and easy stir frys!

The supplies you'll need...

3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 lb. ground pork (I used a wee bit more because I like a lot of meat)
40 Little Neck Clams
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Teaspoons Chinese Black-Bean Chile Sauce (I couldn't find this exact ingredient, and didn't really want to go on a scavenger hunt, but I found Black-Bean Sauce and had some Garlic Chili Paste on hand so I used two scoops of the bean sauce and 1 scoop of the chili paste and it worked great)
4 Scallions, thinly sliced
Rice, for serving

Start out by sauteeing the garlic in vegetable oil for about a minute, just until it looks golden brown. Then take out with slotting spoon and reserve on a small plate.

Then cook ground pork until no pink remains. Pull apart with wooden spoon. Add wine and clams.

Cover so clams can steam open, about 3 to 5 minutes. Once clams start opening, transfer them to a bowl.

Place black bean chile sauce/mixture in cooking liquid and mix together. Then mix in garlic, scallions, and return the clams and mix until well combined.

I served mine with long grain brown rice, but any rice pairs well! The stir fry was quick and easy and definitely something you can fix on a busy weeknight.

And for the Truffle Butter Potato Au Gratin...

I randomly bought some truffle oil the other day and have been looking for an excuse to use it, so it was a great joy to see a recipe in the book "Secret Suppers" by Jen Garbee.

What You'll Need:

10 medium or 15 small Yukon gold potatoes (I used a mixture of red and russet potatoes)
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
2 Teaspoons kosher salt
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons Truffle Butter, ex. TartufLanghe, melted (I actually didn't find truffle butter, so I mixed about a tablespoon and a half of white truffle oil with 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and kind of got the same effect)
6 oz. Abbaye de Belloc or aged Emmentaler, finely grated (this is pretty much just a fancy swiss cheese)
4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only) (I used dry thyme)
1 cup heavy cream, divided

preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the potatoes and thinly slice them.

Grind peppercorns and salt and put thin layer of mixture on the bottom of a glass baking dish. Mix potatoes, oil, butter, cheese, thyme, and 1/4 cup of cream. Then place in dish.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, layering on 1/4 cup of cream every 10 minutes until cream is finished off. Make sure potatoes are tender, then take out of oven. Cut into squares, or dish out, and serve while hot.

The flavors really sing in this simple dish.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Colombian Chicken Soup

So this is the first post. So I figured I'd start out with something light and refreshing. I posted on my Facebook status the other day that I was in the mood to make chicken soup. I got tons of responses asking me if I was sick. Why does wanting to make chicken soup have to mean you feel sick or ill? Hell, I just wanted it because it sounded good.

Well let's start out with what you need:

Short-Grain Brown Rice
Skinless Chicken Breast
Garlic Cloves
Ears of Corn
Chicken Broth
Ground Black Pepper
Fat-Free Yogurt

And On To The Action:

Personally, I like to get everything ready so I can just throw it all in and use it when it's called for. I Used to just prep as I went along, but I soon found out that it was a lot quicker to do the latter.

Anywho, put about 2/3 cups of the rice in a saucepan and put another water in to cover the rice. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover the rice, and let it go for about 30 minutes or so, or until it tickles your fancy. When it's done, let it chill out without any heat for about 10 minutes, then salt it to your liking and let it be until it's needed.

Now for the magic, in a big pot, throw in the chicken breast(s) (the actual recipe calls for 1 skinless bone-in chicken breast, but I used 2 skinless boneless breasts instead because I had them on hand, you can do whatever), about 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (or green onions, whatever you wanna call 'em), 2 smashed cloves of garlic, 2 shucked and sliced ears of corn, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and some cilantro (actual recipe called for 1/2 cup, but Andy is sensitive to cilantro, sensitive meaning he's not too big of a fan, so I used about 1/4 cup to tone it down), and 8 cups of chicken broth (I took the easy way out and threw in 8 cups of water with 8 boullion cubes). Salt and pepper as you like and let boil, then simmer down low for about 12 minutes, or until your chicken no longer makes a peep. Take the chicken out of the pot and let rest until slightly cool, then shred it up. I did both thick and thin chunks, because I really like hearty pieces of chicken in my soup.

Then strain out the solids from the broth and discard everything except the corn (unless you don't like corn, you can throw it out, but why waste perfectly delicious corn, right?). Return the corn to the broth and bring that sucker to a boil again. Add about 1/2 lb. of cubed potatoes (I used red and peeled them, you can leave skin on if you like), and cook until just tender, 8 minutes. Then add 1/2 lb. chopped (1-inch thick) asparagus and heat for about 5 more minutes. Add chicken to pot, salt and pepper it up, and voila! You're done.

I "churched" it up a little and ladled the soup into the bowls, garnished the soup with some fresh cubed avocado, a spoon full of fat-free plain yogurt, a few capers (they add a punch that you don't expect), and a heaping spoonful of the brown rice.

Full recipe can be found here: Columbian Chicken Soup
Adapted from Food & Wine: May 2009 Recipe

And since soup clearly wasn't enough for Andy, his contribution was the grilled cheese...

... which I must say, was a good addition. There's nothing like dipping grilled cheese in soup =)