Sunday, July 30, 2017

Getting Stuffed

Hi everyone,

This entry is really three recipes in one. My original plan was simple. Stuff peppers with rice, beans, and chorizo, and top them with cheese. I had planned to use red bell peppers because they stand up nicely, but Nexx made a very good case for poblanos. Honestly, I didn't take much convincing. I adore poblanos. Let's start with the stuffing:
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided,
  • 3/4 Cup short-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 Cups water
  • 7 - 8 ounces Chorizo. I used Spanish Chorizo and it happened to come in a 7-ounce stick, I'd love the extra ounce. Spanish is harder in texture and nowhere near as crumbly as Mexican. Either one will do.
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans
  • 5-6 green onions, chopped 
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 of the largest poblanos you can get your mitts on
  • (note for next time: 1 Tablespoon dried cilantro)
  • 6 ounces Manchego cheese.
  • 3 chicken breast
  • Ground Cumin
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 serrano or jalapeno peppers
  • 2 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
Cook rice on the stovetop or in your rice cooker (when we lived with Austin the minimalist, I used his rice cooker all the damn time. I still miss it). While it's cooking, rinse and drain your black beans. From there, skin and then chop your chorizo into pieces about 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch. I'm 5'3", this works about to be around the size of my thumbnail.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Rinse and drain your black beans. Cook chorizo on low heat for about ten minutes, just enough to get the fat to start melting and make your kitchen smell delicious. If applicable, chase your significant other out of the kitchen. If he's cooperative about it, give them some chorizo.

Drain the chorizo on paper towels, chop your green onions. By this time, your rice is probably ready. Remove the rice to a large bowl and let it cool for about fifteen minutes. 

While the rice is cooling, wash your poblanos. After you wash them, figure out in what position they will be stable in the baking dish. You don't want them falling over in the oven. Cut off a third of the pepper (leave the stem intact) and use a small knife to de-seed and get rid of as much of the rib as you can. Take your time and be patient with yourself. You'll end up with something like this:

Add your chorizo, beans, green onions, and lime juice to the rice and stir well. Now you're ready for the tricky part. Using a small spoon, add the rice mixture to the peppers. The small spoon is key here--you can use it to force the filling into hard-to reach areas and this will help you not to have to force open the pepper any more than necessary. 

Put a Tablespoon of olive oil in a 9x13 baking dish, and spread it around so it covers the whole thing. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, top your peppers with about half the cheese, and bake another ten minutes, uncovered until the cheese is bubbly.

I had originally planned these as a main dish, but then I thought some more protein might be in order. Plus, I like to serve meals with a lot of different textures, so I added cumin chicken quesadillas.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a pan on medium high heat. Salt your chicken lightly and shake cumin over the breasts until you can see about 1/4 of the meat. Add the chicken tt the pan and turn the meat over every 5 minutes until your meat thermometer reads your desired temperature. 

In between checking, cut up your peppers and your onion. You'll put these in the quesadillas.

My meat thermometer says poultry should be at 165 F. I take it out of the pan at 150-155. Juicier and still thoroughly cooked. Let chicken rest for about five minutes. Chop it into small pieces (about 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch) or shred, either works fine. (I like shredded, Nexx does not. It's a continuous bone of contention)

Melt half the butter in a skillet on medium heat while you prep your first quesadilla. Microwave the tortilla for 15 seconds to soften it. Add half the remaining cheese, peppers to taste, fold in half and zap in pan for three minutes a side. Serve.

I should have bought more peppers as we had a ton of filling left over. Actually, we had a ton of quesadilla ingredients over too. To save space in the fridge (when you live in NYC, you're always about saving space), we put the chicken, peppers, and onion into the rice mixture and stuck it in the fridge. The following day, we put it in bowls, topped the mixture with cheddar cheese and microwaved for about 90 seconds.

If you try any of the above, or come up with variations, let me know!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fowl Play

I'm very new to the sous vide process and had originally looked at it with some skepticism. Then Nexx made a few things with it and won me over. My first experiment with it was chicken breasts (and chicken tastes more like chicken when you cook it in the immersion circulator), but the flavorings I added didn't take as well as I wanted so it didn't get blogged. This time, I attacked the ingredients with more gusto. 

This was a labor-intensive day, but it was worth it overall. We cooked a pair of duck breasts. In the bag with each one went:

  • 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger
  • 3 green onions, split lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • the peel of half an orange (I use a vegetable peeler for this)
  • 5 cloves pan-roasted garlic (like I said, labor-intensive. This took a while, but the kitchen smelled fabulous. When I made the chicken, I used raw garlic and it didn't cook enough to release its aromatic flavors)
Note to Kate: make sure you have the garlic salt instead of the garlic powder. Yes this can be (and was) added afterwards, but it should have been in there in the first place.

Duck takes 2 hours for medium rare. I don't recall what site Nexx gets his temperature settings from (look for an entry from him about his adventures with the sous vide method soon). A quick search found me this page, which I like because it also has the thickness of your meat to take into consideration.

While the duck cooked, I sautéed 8 ounces of mushrooms (this was a mix, I recommend shitake if they are affordable in your area) in the oil that I cooked the garlic in, added a about a teaspoon each of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

The duck came out two hours later and went into a hot pan for a good sear. Crispy duck fat is like elevated bacon (and no nitrates!). While it was resting (do this for at least five minutes, more is not bad), I put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, filled the pan with bok choi, and stirred it until it wilted and started turning a lovely bright green.

About bok choi: Wash it thoroughly. Then do it again. Grit is not fun and hurts your teeth.

Once wilted, I added rice vinegar and red pepper flakes. Taste as you go to get it just as  you like it.

Slice duck into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Plate your meat and vegetables. Add salt and additional red pepper.

For next time (and there will definitely be a next time), we'll take the juices and make a pan sauce, plus top everything with green onions.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Light Summer Pasta--Linguine With White Clam Sauce

I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself. I've made linguine with clams before, but I've never actually researched a recipe. I may very well be missing a basic ingredient (if you know, it, please comment here). Regardless, this came out delicious and I hope you enjoy it as much as Nexx and I did. This serves 4.

  • 12 ounces of clams. I used canned because I am too lazy to shuck clams. The brand I bought had them chopped roughly instead of minced and I liked the variety in size and texture a lot. Reserve 2 teaspoons of juice from the cans.
  • 3/4 cup of dry white wine
  • 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice--this worked out to be 1.5 lemons
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 5 cloves of garlic (or more. Next time there will be more)
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
First, draft a sous chef to chop the parsley. This gives you time to put everything else together. Thank you sweetie!

Pour the wine and lemon juice into a small saucepan. Add your garlic, your clams and (something I will do next time) 2 teaspoons of clam juice. Make sure your liquid covers your clams. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Set heat to simmer and stir every couple of minutes.

Start your pasta water boiling. If you feel like it, make a salad. I cut some small cucumbers into spears and we nibbled on those while we waited for everything to be assembled.

Cook the linguine according to your package directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta water to improve stickiness. Drain the pasta, put back in the pot. Add your clam mixture, and gently toss to incorporate. I have a set of tongs that is silicone-coated and they worked great for this. Add your parsley, some pasta water if you need to. Serve with lemon wedges on the side. 

Nexx thought some cheese could be a good garnish, and I will definitely have that prepared for next time.

The leftovers were a little sticky, and there was more garlic flavor, so maybe less pasta water and more lemon/wine mixture.

Questions? Comments? Love to hear from you!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Make-Ahead Breakfast Muffin

I'd heard of egg muffins before and I've had baked eggs. These seemed a good idea because I tend to be in a rush in the morning before work, and these reheat in 30 seconds, are satisfying to chew and are filling too.

I came across this recipe (hat tip to the author!), and immediately thought of ways to improve it to my tastes. I also made half a recipe because I wanted to make sure I would like them before I committed to using a dozen eggs.

So the base recipe is

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 ounces of your favorite breakfast meat
  • 2 ounces cheese 
  • 1/2 Cup of chopped onion
  • 3 teaspoons of water
I used 2 bun-sized sausages that had habaneros in them, and a sharp cheddar cheese. Instead of shredding the cheese as the original recipe said, I cut it into small chunks. This way we got a bigger taste of gooey cheese in some bites. To go with the habaneros, I put in a teaspoon of dried cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon of oregano. The herbs got lost, I'm afraid. I blame the habaneros.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. If you don't have an oven thermometer, get one. Apologies for repeating myself, but I can tell you from experience it makes a huge difference. My oven is 50 degrees F cooler than what it says on the readout.

Lightly scramble your ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Using a 1/3 Cup measuring cup, spoon your egg mixture into your muffin tin (grease it lightly unless you're using non-stick or silicone). Do what you can to make sure your mix-ins are evenly distributed without making too much of a mess.

You might be wondering why I added water to the recipe. The idea was to keep the eggs moist while baking and to make the texture lighter by also having steam help cook them. I think it worked pretty well.

Bake the muffins in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes. You'll also be able to see the muffins start pulling away from the edges of the tin, and if you insert a knife it will come out clean or with only a little moisture on it..

Put the muffin tin on a cooling rack for about ten minutes. Remove your muffins and serve. We had them with yogurt as a dessert , but the damn raspberries I bought on Friday went a bit off, so the yogurt was plain. You could also serve these with a side of fruit, or if you're not in a rush, a potato of some kind.

I got some good feedback from Nexx, which is always nice, and I have some for quick breakfast this week before I get on a crosstown bus. I live in the Theatre District, sometimes referred to as Midtown West, and the ride to where I work, which is near the United Nations, is a tad annoying. A full stomach will definitely have me in a better mood.

I plan on trying some variations. Manchego, onions, bacon, and rosemary. Possibly bacon, potato, onions, and cheddar. Right now, I'm staying out of the kitchen because Nexx is threatening to make flan.