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Posts from — March 2010

convenience

On Sunday, my friend and neighbor, Ronnie had a party to introduce and welcome new neighbors to “the hood”.  She made this colorful fresh and flavorful salad that we all went crazy for. It is inspired by a recipe she found in a cookbook by Rick Rodgers. I had two servings, and would have had a third if I could have gotten away with it! The original recipe called for 3 ears of corn to be roasted on a grill. This simple take on that uses frozen roasted corn kernels found at Trader Joe’s.  One medium cob of corn yields about 3/4 cup of kernels. So that is convenience item number one.  And here is number two … a new way to freeze and store chipotle peppers. As you know, chipotle peppers are sold in cans and they are packed in adobo sauce. The sauce is just about as good as the peppers themselves, spicy and smokey and just so addictive. I can’t think of a time when you would use an entire  7-ounce can of the peppers, generally recipes call for just a few peppers and then you have the rest of the can to deal with.  In the past I have  placed the remaining peppers on a small greased baking sheet, frozen them, then removed the frozen peppers and placed them in ziplock bags to freeze. But now… I have an even better way. In the majority of recipes the peppers are very finely chopped, so why not freeze them that way? First place all the remaining peppers and all the adobo sauce left in the can in a food processor and puree it. Next, carefully spoon the puree into the little holes of an empty garlic cube package. What is a garlic cube package, you ask. In a prior post, I told you how much I love to use the minced garlic cubes sold at Trader Joe’s. My freezer is full of them… so I reuse those empty containers and now I always have chipotle cubes on hand too.  One chipotle cube equals about 1/2 chipotle pepper.  Plus they pop out just as easily as the garlic does.

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March 31, 2010   3 Comments

new item alert

I recently learned of a great new convenience item available in the frozen food section of the local supermarket. OK, maybe it’s not new to the supermarket or even new to you, but it is new to me.

Frozen chopped green chiles and chopped red chiles can be found in plastic containers, similar to a sour cream container, in the freezer section. Locally, I’ve found them at Safeway, Fry’s, and Food City. Supposedly they come in hot and mild, but I was only able find the hot, so I’m combining them with mild canned green chiles for this recipe.

Feel free to roast, seed, and peel your own mild long green chiles, if you prefer.  Pictured below: Frozen chile container (do not worry if you don’t find the same brand, any brand will do)plus a side by side comparison of mild canned diced chiles on the left and hot frozen diced chiles on the right.

It’s been in the mid to high 80’s the last few days here in AZ, but we’re expecting rain and a cooling trend for the rest of the week.  It may be our last chance to really enjoy a nice steaming bowl of chili for many months to come. Marissa requested this recipe so she could make “roomie” dinner tomorrow for her four beautiful roommates; Kaley, Petra, Kelsey and Paige.

Girls, I hope you enjoy it, ‘cause summer and 100+ degree temps are just around the corner!

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March 30, 2010   1 Comment

gorgeous!

For Easter 1996, when Marissa and Connor were 8 and 5 years old, we gave them four baby chicks.

We raised the chickens as pets and for their eggs.

One chicken laid white eggs, another produced brown eggs, and the other two were araucana chickens.

They gave us beautiful blue and green tinted eggs.

It was such a joy to go out each day and find those fresh eggs in their various hues. We had to give the chickens up when we moved to our current home, over a dozen years ago. Not only do I miss the daily fresh eggs, but also those lovely colors.

Last year I found a way to create my own amazingly gorgeous eggs, maybe not on a daily basis, but at least for Easter. The secret? 100% silk!  If you’re in need of purging your closet, this is a good time, at least for 100% silk items, such as ties and scarves.  If not, head out to the closest Goodwill or thrift store to find such items. I went to the Goodwill at 40th Street and Thunderbird over the weekend and bought all 32 of the 100 % silk ties they had, so be sure and go to another location!

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March 29, 2010   11 Comments

“unwind at the grind”

…That is the slogan for a fab new restaurant in town, The Grind.  My beautiful sister, Sloane, and I enjoyed a delectable dinner there last night.

Chef Matt McLinn is at the helm, so you know it’s gonna be good (that’s Sloane and Matt, pictured above). I first met Matt nine or ten years ago when he and Sloane worked together. They dated for quite a while and that meant that we shared some wonderful holiday meals together too.

It’s no wonder Matt’s food stands out, he has cooked alongside some of the culinary world’s most recognized names – such as world-renowned Chef Alain Ducasse of the Michelin three-starred restaurant Le Louis XV of the Hotel Paris in Monte Carlo and Chef Dominque Bouchet of the Michelin three-starred restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, located in Paris, France. He also studied at the Michelin two-starred Le Hotel Carlton in Cannes, France and Michelin one-starred Le Maison du Seignuer in Brussels, Belgium. He is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and  a member of the James Beard Foundation.

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March 28, 2010   3 Comments

jalapeño jelly

I don’t know why, but I can’t get enough fish lately. Just the other day in a post, I said I was not into frying fish … two days later – here I am doing just that, go figure! I dedicate this recipe to Tram Mai, the host of Valley Dish (weekdays at 4:30 on Channel 12). When I was on earlier in the month making sweet jalapeño mini corn muffins, Tram asked what could be done with the rest of the jalapeño jelly in the jar.  I stammered and said something stupid about putting it on cream cheese and serving it with chips – hey that’s good stuff, but is was a totally lame answer!  Since then, another guest has used jalapeño jelly on the show. So, Tram, here’s another one especially for you…

The recipe calls for self-rising flour. If you don’t have any handy and don’t feel the need to purchase a one pound bag and then only use the one cup needed here, you can make your own. I’m not sure if you know just how much valuable information is on this blog. Let me tell you, a lot! If you look over to the left, you’ll see a “Tip Index” and that puppy is loaded with good stuff…. including the very useful “conversion and equivalent charts”  Check it out sometime, and if you want to make that self-rising flour now, CLICK THIS LINK and it will take you to the conversion chart… scroll down until you see “Flour” and there it is, easy as pie!

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March 27, 2010   2 Comments

mediterranean magic

This quick and delicious vegetable side dish just screams “Mediterranean” to me. I love every single distinct flavor here. I served this with the mahi-mahi from yesterday’s post, but it just as easily compliments pork or chicken as it does fish. And it takes literally, only about 7 minutes to put together, well OK – depending on your knife skills! So sharpen your chef’s knife and have a wonderful weekend!

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March 26, 2010   3 Comments

fish frydays

Easter is quickly approaching which means Lent is nearly over… and I have only posted one fish recipe… sorry! I’m not actually into frying fish at home… we’ll leave that to the church social halls.  But with two Friday’s left – including Good Friday, it’s not too late to get a fish recipe posted, so how about a little mahi-mahi and shrimp?

Contrary to popular belief the mahi-mahi is not related to the dolphin family of mammals. They are one of the fastest-growing fish and are carnivorous- feeding on crabs, squid, and mackerel. Mahi-mahi’s sweet taste and firm flesh makes it perfect for poaching; along with halibut, swordfish, and salmon- just in case you are looking for a good substitute.

If you eat a lot of fish, a fish poacher is a great pan to have in your kitchen. Often thought of for cooking whole fish, it works wonderfully with fillets as well. If you are in the market for a poacher, you can check out this link or visit your local kitchen store. If you don’t have and are not interested in a poacher, no problem, a larger skillet with a tight fitting lid will work just fine. And please don’t be intimidated or turned off by the long list of ingredients… the majority are either spices or items just dropped into the poaching liquid.

As a vegetable side, I made sautéed fennel and red peppers with capers and olives. I then used the fennel stalks in the poaching liquid and the fronds as garnish. I’ll be posting that recipe tomorrow, but in case you want to do your grocery shopping today here is the ingredient list: 1 fennel bulb, 1 small onion, 1 red bell pepper, capers, and Kalamata olives. And if you decide against this side dish, leave the fennel out of the poaching liquid – it is listed as optional.

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March 25, 2010   No Comments

“Hey Paula”

It is just now beginning to warm up here in “The Valley of the Sun”.  That means if we’re going to have soup, hot soup anyhow, it better be now!  I was inspired to make this after assisting for a class last night at Barbara Fenzl’s Les Gourmettes Cooking School. Paula Lambert, of the Mozzarella Company, was the instructor and she made a Pea Soup with Minted Mascarpone. This mascarpone will be flavored with basil and orange in the place of mint, with a base of  tomatoes instead of peas for the soup… just goes to show how versatile soup is.

Paula founded the Mozzarella Company in Dallas, Texas in 1982 and believe me, she is one talented bundle of energy and a laugh a minute!  Her delicious cheeses are available by mail order, check them out at this LINK, I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

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March 24, 2010   4 Comments

olé mole

Mole – when most gringos think of mole, they immediately think “Oh, that Mexican sauce that has chocolate in it.” Not necessarily true, there are a wide number of sauces that are moles and only one of them contains chocolate. The word mole comes from the Nahuatl word “milli” which means “sauce” or “concoction”.  The most common or widely known mole in America is guacamole, meaning “avocado concoction”.

Moles can be black (negro), red (rojo), yellow (amarillo), and green (verde), to name but a few. Mole negro is the most labor intensive to prepare. It traditionally has six varieties of chile peppers, seeds, nuts, spices, herbs and chocolate.

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March 23, 2010   2 Comments

microwave madness

For the “end of spring break” brunch yesterday we had home fries, also known as breakfast potatoes, along with our frittata. I generally add diced red bell pepper to my potatoes, but since those were already prominent in the frittata, I left them out this time. Feel free to use 1 diced pepper in your potatoes though, you’ll just add and sauté it along with the onion.

Most recipes for home fries, such as these, call for the potatoes to be boiled first. I’ve found that this leaves the potatoes too water logged and they do not brown as well when later sautéed, so instead I use the microwave to steam them… far better end result! How long to steam them all depends on your own microwave, and you know it best, so use your judgment.

My microwave is, by far, the worst tool in my entire kitchen… as my kids say, “it sucks!”  Every single time they come home, they are shocked to see that it is still here. I do not know why I am so resistant to just go get a new one. I’ve had to purchase several in the last few years for the kids’ dorms and apartments, so why not just get a new one for myself? Maybe I feel I need to have just one thing in my kitchen that isn’t “all that.”  I mean, I am so fortunate to have all the latest and greatest and, in many cases, (because of the cooking school) more than just one of each of those latest and greatest…  Three KitchenAid standing mixers (all the big model); four Cuisinarts, including the new super-duper one; a Vita-Mix and two Waring blenders; more than two dozen silicone spatulas in every shape, size, and color; a dozen whisks… you get the picture. So if I have to suffer with an inferior microwave that literally takes twice the time to cook something, so be it!  I honestly don’t use it that much for actual cooking, more often than not, it is used to melt chocolate and butter or to soften something. Although it did take a full 17 minutes to get these potatoes tender! But if you have a “good” microwave, it may only take 6 or 7 minutes.

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March 22, 2010   4 Comments