It’s the day before Thanksgiving, the last thing any of us wants to eat is turkey or chicken! In fact, today – the day and night before Turkey Day – is the biggest day for pizza delivery for the entire year! Bigger than Super Bowl Sunday, bigger than New Year’s Eve (we always ordered delivery pizza for our kids that night just as we were heading out the door), bigger than any other day! Why??? Because everyone is sick of cooking, the refrigerators are full, and we are all anticipating cooking and eating turkey tomorrow!
In honor of the “no poultry” unwritten rule, I’ve got some spicy chili for your dining pleasure. I purchased a package of chorizo bolita at the Mexican market thinking I was going to be trying some new and exciting style of chorizo. After some internet research, I learned that chorizo bolita is just regular chorizo in little links. Bolita means pellets. Oh well, I tried, and it turns out it is a convenient way to buy chorizo. You can cut off as many links as you need and then repackage and freeze the rest in smaller amounts. I used 3 pellets, or about 5 ounces, for this chili recipe. Plus I really wanted to cook and slice the chorizo as links instead of cooking and crumbling it as I usually do. Removing the casing very carefully and then cooking the links in a bit of water, gave me the exact result I was looking for.
November 23, 2011 4 Comments
Last Monday morning, after Marissa had left for work and I returned back to her apartment from taking Dave to the airport, I sat down to eat lunch. It consisted of a boxed salad I’d picked up at Trader Joe’s the day before. My plan was to eat half of it and save the remaining half for lunch on Tuesday; that didn’t happen. I scarfed down the entire tasty thing. Monday night, when Marissa came home from work, we jumped in her car and headed back to Trader Joe’s to do her “big” grocery run. She would finally have stocked shelves, refrigerator, freezer, and wine rack and could stop eating like like a “third grader with a drinking problem.” Instead she is now a young woman with healthy choices and plenty of nice wine to accompany her adult meals. (Did you know that in California “Two Buck Chuck” is actually two bucks, well actually $1.99? Not that the $2.99 we pay in AZ is a bad deal, but I always wondered why it was called “Two Buck” when it really cost three bucks… now I know.)
August 8, 2011 5 Comments
Just because I’ve named these Christmas custards, don’t think that they wouldn’t be good anytime of the year… in fact – it has been requested that I make them again for New Years Eve, and I just may!
December 28, 2010 No Comments
I wouldn’t actually call this true “fusion” cooking, but the idea is mixing two cuisines, in this case Italian and Mexican. According to Wikipedia, Fusion cuisine combines elements of various culinary traditions while not fitting specifically into any. The term generally refers to the innovations in many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s. So, true fusion cooking would do a bit more than just add pepper jack cheese and corn to risotto! No matter, it’s delicious anyway. [Read more →]
June 5, 2010 No Comments
June 4, 2010 3 Comments
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.
March 31, 2010 3 Comments
Say the word “casserole” and you will generally get one of two typical responses… a huge smile filled with excitment from the person who knows that something hearty, filling, and tasty is about to come their way… or a turned up nose and rolling eyes from the person who envisions a sticky, gooey, mess of food about to be forced upon them.
Because of that second reaction, I was tempted to call this dish a “Bake” instead of a “Casserole”. I even searched through online thesauruses looking for an alternate name, but call it what you may, it’s a casserole. And exactly what is that? A casserole is an ovenproof dish sometimes with a tightly fitting lid, made from earthenware, glass or metal. The word ‘casserole’ also refers to the mixture of food itself which is prepared in the oven in this dish. The word is derived from the Old French word casse and the Latin word cattia meaning a “frying pan or saucepan.” As often happens, the name of the cooking utensil was used for the name of the dish.
So, if the word if derived from a French word, then how does it end up sounding so pedestrian? Maybe it is because, when some of us were growing up, the contents in the casserole dish were often called “surprise”, as in Turkey Surprise, or even worse, Spam Surprise; almost a guarantee that this would not be a happy or delicious “surprise” at all!
As with many casseroles, this one is made using leftover meat, pork from Christmas dinner, to be exact. Feel free to use another leftover meat, such as chicken or beef in place of the pork. Additional vegetables can be used as well; bell peppers, green beans, kidney beans, or whatever you have on hand or dream up. I used a mix of three different “green” salsas to get my 3 cups needed, do the same if you have a mix of jars in your refrigerator. I hope the only surprise you receive upon making and tasting this casserole, is that it makes your taste-buds sing!
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December 30, 2009 No Comments
A perfect Thanksgiving side dish inspired by a recipe in a 2002 issue of Bon Appetit. Pictured above are the two main parts of the dish, the creamy corn mixture and the topping consisting of breadcrumbs, bacon, green onions and fried onion rings. They may be made a day ahead, covered and refrigerated separately. Also pictured is a package of the instant or “quick-cooking” grits used to thicken the corn mixture.
The fried red onion rings are delicious and well worth the effort, but if you wish to take a shortcut – substitute with the prepared fried onion rings you find in the grocery store. You know, the ones used in the classic Green Bean Casserole. If used, eliminate the 1/4 cup flour, the red onion, and the 1/2 cup olive oil from the ingredient list and eliminate the 3rd paragraph from the procedure portion of the recipe. Use 1 1/2 cups purchased onion rings in their place.
Triple Onion Creamy Corn Gratin with Bacon
6 bacon slices, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green portions), divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
8 cups frozen corn kernels (about 2 1/2 pounds), thawed
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 packed cup grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
November 25, 2009 No Comments
Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of hearty soup and a slice of warm crusty bread. This chunky soup has a long list of ingredients but actually comes together quickly. Especially if you use the leftover wild and brown rice (from the Rack of Lamb dinner post on October 2 on this site) and meat from a rotisserie chicken. As usual, I use Costco’s rotisserie chicken, which yields about 1 3/4 pounds of meat, after discarding the skin and bones. Chop up the dark meat for the soup and refrigerate the breast meat for salads or sandwiches for another day. The chicken Andouille sausage used here was found at Trader Joe’s but any cooked sausage you prefer (such as kielbasa) is fine. Although the sausage is fully cooked, it is sautéed with the vegetables to lend them more flavor before liquid is added to the pot. Today was my first opportunity to use my new “Elite” Cuisinart, and I must say, it was amazing, can’t wait to really put it to the test with a big ol’ day of cooking! With the holidays fast approaching, that will be very soon! Speaking of the holidays, this would be a perfect soup to make with leftover turkey meat and turkey stock made from the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving, so keep it in mind.
November 5, 2009 2 Comments
I mentioned the other day that my dear friend, Peggy, and I went to lunch and the she had a corn chowder that she loved and wanted to recreate at home. After much tweaking, tasting, and retweaking – I think I finally got it!
One issue I was having was the viscosity of the soup. Mine was not as thick as the restaurant’s version. I’m sure the chef used heavy cream and I didn’t want to go there… so I used my standard fat free half-and-half. And although it lends a nice richness to the chowder, it won’t add that thick consistency. There are two options to get there; the first is to do as I did and make a paste of softened butter and flour to thicken the mixture, this is called a Beurre Manié. It is similar to a roux, but unlike a roux, it is not cooked until added to the dish. The second and healthier way would be to take a portion of the solids (about 1/4 to 1/3 of the solids in this case) from the soup just before serving and puree in either a food processor or a bender, then stir that back into the soup. Honestly, that is the technique I generally use, but I thought it would be useful to demonstrate and explain the Beurre Manié this time.
September 19, 2009 2 Comments