Baking, Roasting, and Eating Pumpkin

First, you are going to go buy some pie pumpkins, then you will bake them, then you will have your own pumpkin for pies and breads and whatnot and then you will NOT buy canned pumpkin. Then you will roast the seeds and give them to someone who likes that sort of thing…maybe this someone is you. Then you will make the greatest pumpkin bread on Earth and then you will keep one loaf for yourself and then you will give one loaf to someone who likes that sort of thing…maybe that someone is you again. Then you will eat it for breakfast and be incapable of denying it’s magnificence.

Then you will be incredibly happy.

Ready? OKAY!

BAKING

FIRST: You are going to buy PIE pumpkins. Not jack-o-lantern type pumpkins.

The difference? Pie pumpkins are smaller and sweeter. And they are typically labeled “pie pumpkins” anywhere you may find them. (That little guy up there? The one with his brains spilling out of his head? That’s it.)
2 medium sized ones will get you plenty of pumpkin for this bread recipe with a little left over.
(It calls for 2 cups.)

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°.
  2. Take your pie pumpkins and knock off the stem. Do this with a good yank, the counter top or a good karate chop. (Not responsible for injuries obtained from inexperienced karate choppers.)
  3. Next, with a large chef’s knife, CAREFULLY cut each pumpkin in half from top to bottom. (My first 2 were pretty tough skinned and cutting them really took some effort. However, the ones I just made were incredibly easy to cut. Keep in mind that this is a possibility.)
  4. Scoop out the seeds and stringy guts. (What are you doing?!! Don’t throw that away!)
    Put them aside.
  5. Turn open side down on an ungreased cookie sheet.
    (Some people like to use water in this step. Not only do I find it unnecessary but I find it typically creates an extra step for you later on.)
  6. Bake anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the size of your pumpkins. They are ready when a fork easily penetrates the meat.
  7. Flip them and allow to cool.
  8. Scoop out meat and puree in a food processor.
    (Some pumpkins are really watery. No biggie. Allow it to sit in the fridge overnight. The pumpkin will sink and you can easily pour out the excess water. I’ve actually never had to do this though.) 

    Now you have pumpkin like in a can, but not in a can.

ROASTING

the seeds


  1. Preheat your oven to 200 or the next lowest temperature available.
  2. Get a medium bowl.
  3. Pick up one of the clumps of pumpkin string/meat/seeds and squash it in your hand. You will notice the seeds, very easily separate from the rest of the pumpkin and slip through your fingers. Keep doing this, putting the seeds in the bowl and discarding the stringy meat. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  4. Fill your bowl with cool water and swoosh around. Let sit for 3 minutes.
  5. You will notice most of the loose meat has sunk. Skim the seeds off the top and place them onto a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake these seeds at 200 just until dry. (about 5-10 minutes). You’re not roasting them here. Just drying them. No, a towel won’t work.
  7. Increase your temperature to 300°
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or use 1 Tablespoon olive oil (for a semi healthier and longer lasting snack) and toss seeds in it. Add 1/2 tsp sea salt and toss.
  9. Roast until medium to dark golden brown.
  10. Receive kisses from happy husbands or sneak into the corner and keep them all for yourself.

Note: Get creative. Some people don’t want salty. They want spicy or honey roasted or ranchy or BBQ!

If you have never had roasted pumpkin seeds, I personally think they taste a lot like popcorn. Then again, I'm pregnant.

EATING

the best part
(this involves some baking too.)

 

Now, go here and proceed to bake your bread with your fancy non canned pumpkin.
Here are the only changes I make to the recipe:

  • I use fresh pumpkin and I use 2 cups of it.
  • I use 2 loaf pans that are 8 X 4 X 2 1/2″ and bake them longer.
  • I add a pinch of Cardamom.
  • I don’t allow anyone to touch it for 24 hours.

That is it. No. Don’t try subbing o.j. or applesauce or anything else for the water. (O.K. Subbing half the amount of water for o.j. or applesauce works, but really, it doesn’t make THAT big of a difference.) Don’t try changing up the spices or using any amount of brown sugar instead of regular or using a tad less flour and CERTAINLY, WITHOUT A DOUBT, DO NOT let anyone try it the same day it’s baked. Seriously. I have obviously made numerous changes to this recipe on previous occasions only to find out, they were totally unnecessary.

After mine is finished baking, I cool it on a rack. I then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and I am pretty sure just plastic wrap is the best way to store it. I then proceed to destroy the entire loaf. Luckily, this recipe makes 2.

 

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November 9, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Recipes. 5 comments.

Perfect Pizza for the Pack

It doesn’t matter what coast you’re from. Thin and crispy, thin and floppy, thick, deep dish…

Pizza is delicious. Pizza is amazing. It is versatile.
It can be topped with greasy meats or healthy vegetables. It can seem fancy schmancy, funky or classic.

It is also one of the most profitable foods in the food service industry. It’s fun for kids to make.
All of these things mean that it is a good idea to make your own at home. Don’t be scared. You will see the words yeast and rise in the following recipe but don’t run! It’s a single bowl method and I was testing ingredient combinations for this crust before I knew how yeast worked. What’s better?
This recipe can make 3 different styles of crust. Don’t believe me? Just try it. This is a great recipe for those who are afraid of yeast and bread baking because it’s almost foolproof.

Yuh’ welcome.

Perfectly Versatile Pizza Crust
(from Wendi Kent)

you will need:

1 packet (1/4 oz. or 1 1/2 tsp.) Active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour plus some for dusting
(for whole wheat crust: exchange 1/2 cup of white for wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil (plus a little for brushing)
1/2 Tbsp honey (or sugar)
3/4 cup 105-110° water
cornmeal or semolina for dusting
Toppings

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (including sugar if you’re using it instead of honey) except water and honey. Add the honey to your hot water and then temp it again to be sure it is still the proper temperature. Add water to mix.

(But, Wendi, it looks like a big mess and that’s not how you do it when you make bread and shouldn’t I do the yeast and water different and are you sure this is going to work? Chill out. It will work.)

Combine until dough forms. Once combined, knead 5 to 15 times on a floured surface.  You are kneading JUST until dough becomes resilient unlike bread.
Cover with a light towel and let rest. Choose your style below.

Fresh basil leaves, sauce and fresh balls of mozzarella make a classic Margherita Pizza.

For thin, crispy crust: Preheat your oven to 400°. Let dough rest only 5 minutes. (It still should have risen a bit.) On lightly floured surface, roll dough out with rolling-pin. Sprinkle pan lightly with cornmeal or semolina and lay crust on top. You will likely have some dough left after trimming the edges. I like to make bread sticks from this (below). Brush with olive oil. Perforate dough a few times lightly with fork or pizza cutter. Pre bake 8-15 minutes or just until light golden. Remove and add toppings. Finish baking.

For thin, soft crust: Preheat oven to 400°. Let dough rest only 5 minutes. (It still should have risen a bit.) On lightly floured surface, roll dough out with rolling-pin. Sprinkle pan lightly with cornmeal or semolina and lay crust on top. You will likely have some dough left after trimming the edges. I like to make bread sticks from this (below). Brush with olive oil. Perforate dough a few times lightly with fork or pizza cutter. Add toppings. Bake until crust is golden and toppings are done.

For thicker crust: Preheat oven to 400°. Let dough rest 10 to 15 minutes. (It should have risen quite a bit.) On lightly floured surface, roll dough out with rolling-pin to desired thickness. Sprinkle pan lightly with cornmeal or semolina and lay crust on top. Brush with olive oil. Perforate dough a few times lightly with fork or pizza cutter. Pre bake 8-15 minutes or just until light golden. Remove and add toppings. Finish baking.

For bread sticks: Take excess dough and roll out into long strand(s). (I like to twist two together.) Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Bake until golden and serve with sauce. Nummy and no waste!

Print Pizza Crust Recipe!

Fresh basil leaves, sauce and fresh balls of mozzarella make a classic Margherita Pizza.

October 5, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Recipes. 3 comments.

Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade

So in my opinion, there are 2 great ways to make crab cakes, although I could imagine myself saying, there is no wrong way to eat crab as I have an intense love for it.
Seriously, I could eat anything with crab…except soft shell when it has the eyeballs still in it…then I have to ask RPK very nicely if he will please remove the eyes for me so I can enjoy my beautiful soft shell crab sandwich and then he smiles and I have to look away and grimace and stick out my tongue while he plucks or cuts out or whatever he does with the eyes so I’m a happy lady again.

Anywhoo

First best way: below and pan fry.
Second best way: crab meat, bread crumbs, sauce, then bake.
Personally, I love both but this is how I make them most often because I particularly love the addition of the crispy outside with all the softness of the inner cake.

for Crab Cakes (makes 8-10)
adapted from many different sources
skill level: silly easy, really.

You will need:
16 oz crab meat (claw or lump, your preference)
1/2 cup diced chives
1 tsp Worcestershire
2 Tbsp mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
2 medium eggs, beaten
1 tsp spicy mustard
1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (my favorite is Tony Chachere’s but any Cajun mix will do)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs

In small bowl, beat eggs. Add all other ingredients minus crab and bread crumbs. Mix together well. Put crab in medium bowl. Add egg mixture and mix in well. Fold in bread crumbs. I fold in 1/2 of a cup (which is usually plenty) and feel the texture. If it seems to wet (if my eggs are too big) I add a bit more but remember, this is a crab cake, not a bread cake. You don’t want it so full of bread crumbs that all your egg gets soaked up. When you form it into a patty, you should get plenty of egg on your hands.

Form into patties no more than 1/2 inch thick. Heat 1 -2 Tbsp olive oil in skillet on medium. Cook patties 3-6 minutes or until thoroughly browned. Flip and add 1 more Tbsp olive oil. Cook 3-6 more minutes. Top with remoulade (below).

 

Print Crabcakes recipe

In my opinion, crab cakes are not crab cakes without an incredible sauce.
Here is your incredible sauce.
Do this 20 minutes ahead.

For Spicy Remoulade
adapted from many different sources
skill level:it only SOUNDS fancy
this recipe calls for diced items to be diced small

you will need:
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, diced, divided in half
1/4 cup chives, diced, divided in half
1 cup mayo
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper

In food processor, combine half of the bell pepper, all garlic, half of the chives, all mayo, and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Transfer to bowl and stir in all remaining ingredients. Refrigerate 20 minutes before serving.

Print recipe for Spicy Remoulade

September 22, 2010. Tags: , , . Recipes. 5 comments.

Salted Shortbread Cookies

These cookies were originally made to go with a custard and blueberry compote that I make to offset the sweetness of the blueberry compote but I became hooked with the first bite. With age, my taste buds have learned to appreciate the salty sweet combination more and more.

What’s even better? Dip half in chocolate. Wham! You’re in heaven. Your welcome very much.

Adapted from Food and Wine 2010 Salted Shortbread Cookies

You will need:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp table salt plus 1/4 tsp kosher salt for sprinkling
1/4 cup sugar plus 1/2 tsp for sprinkling
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup unsalted butter, softened

For chocolate coating:

6oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 Tbs butter

In medium bowl, combine 2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup sugar and flour. In large bowl, combine softened butter and almond extract. Add flour mix to butter mix and rub until crumbly. Next, divide mixture into two piles. Put one pile in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap. Form into log shape and roll up in the wrap. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap to push the ends inward to get a good, firm log. Now, lightly press the top to flatten (and the bottom will flatten slightly as well). Repeat with the other pile. Refrigerate 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Carefully remove dough from plastic wrap. Rub a tad bit of butter or shortening onto a straight blade knife. Don’t use a serrated. Slice 1/2 inch cookies from logs and arrange on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. (Skip this next part if you want to add chocolate.) Combine 1/4 tsp Kosher salt and 1/2 tsp sugar and sprinkle over dough. Bake 25-35 minutes or until just barely browned. JUST BARELY! Remove and let cool.

To dip in chocolate:
In heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt over saucepan with hot water. Remove from heat as soon as smooth. Dip cookies (or brush the tops) and lay on parchment paper. Combine 1/4 tsp Kosher salt and 1/2 tsp sugar and sprinkle over cookies. Let cool until chocolate is set.

Print Salted Shortbread Cookies!

September 17, 2010. Tags: , . Recipes. 7 comments.

The Almighty Yogurt Cake

I am very excited about this next entry as I have finally nailed down this recipe AND this will be the first recipe with the new printable version of the recipe below it! Yay!

So for the past 6 months or so, I have been trying different yogurt cake recipes. I found myself pretty disappointed in many for different reasons. The first, from a very popular cooking blog, was way to dense for my taste. The second, from a french cookbook, too greasy. The third, too crumbly. I ate my way through each of them with a furrowed brow and decided to stop trying these recipes as a whole. I began to take bits and pieces from many and make adjustments according to my picky little taste buds and my taste buds have declared:

We finally have a winner.

This yogurt cake is everything I want in a yogurt cake. It is tangy, very moist but not oily or wet, dense yet airy but still not as light as regular cake, sweet, but not too sweet. The greatest thing about yogurt cake is it is sort of a base like a muffin recipe. It is amazing as is or with all different combinations of fruits and juices your heart desires. This recipe incorporates the flavors I was obsessing over after feeling very inspired by my honeymoon. It calls for coconut oil. If you have never used coconut oil before, you may be pleasantly surprised. I use coconut oil for my cast iron skillets as it does not go rancid. It is also very good for your skin as well as your health. It is slightly pricey but a little goes a long way and I have decided I really like to have it around the house for all these things. I recommend giving it a try.

The other wonderful thing about yogurt cake…?

You can eat it for breakfast.
What other cake can you actually eat for breakfast without feeling like you need to hide in a dark corner so no one calls you fatty fat fatso
? None that I know of.

It is wonderful in the morning with coffee and a little fresh fruit OR as a dessert with a little whipped cream and a compote. The only thing about yogurt cake is it should NOT be eaten hot or warm and it is best the next morning. After it has cooled, store wrapped in plastic wrap.

One last note about this recipe; If you make this, I believe you will realize after the first slice, you should have doubled the recipe and made 2 loaves. Consider yourself warned.

So without further ado:

Lime in the Coconut Yogurt Cake with Mango Compote

(skill level:pretty dang easy)

You will need:
1 cup whole milk unsweetened yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup coconut oil plus 2 Tbs for pan prep
zest of one lime
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbs light Rum (this recipe works completely fine if this is omitted)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour plus some for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat to 350. Grease and flour an 8”x4” ish (regular size) loaf pan. In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In one large bowl, mix sugar, almond extract, rum and oils. Add juices, and zest and mix well. Whisk in yogurt.

Next, whisk in one egg at a time. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes then remove from pan and allow to cool further on cooling rack.
I really like this just plain for breakfast or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a couple blueberries. For a more dressed up version for tea or after dinner, add the mango compote.

♥♥♥

For mango compote:

(skill level: it only SOUNDS fancy)

4 large, ripe mangos
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
Skin and cut mangos into chunks. Slice vanilla bean down the center and gently pry open. In a medium saucepan, combine half the mango chunks and all other ingredients. Cook over low heat about 8 minutes or until mangos begin to fall apart. Put a lid on and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove lid and vanilla bean. Scrape vanilla seeds into mixture. Stir in the other half of the mango chunks. This is good served warm or cold!

Print honeymoon yogurt cake

August 27, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Recipes. 3 comments.

Marry Me (Martha)! Cookies

I was lucky enough to be handed the secret recipe behind the soft and delicious Oatmeal Raisin Cookies I so loved as a child. My Nana used to make these for me and she got the recipe from her sister, Martha. My (great) Aunt Martha.

I made a few adjustments and began to make them at a diner I worked at and within a week, received 3 marriage proposals!
Seriously. O.K. So it turns out they weren’t very serious about getting married but they were serious about loving those cookies so I renamed them Marry Me (Martha) cookies!

I also made some of these for a family of friends that were all the way across the country and hear they traveled real well.

You will need:

1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 C white sugar
1 C light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 C flour (all purpose)
2 C oatmeal (not instant!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Put flour, oatmeal, soda, salt, and spices together in a large bowl and stir well. Set aside.

Cream together the butter, shortening the two sugars, molasses and vanilla mixing well.  Stir in eggs.
Add in the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time, mixing in well.  Add raisins last and stir in well.  With a large spoon, scoop out cookie dough and light flatten the center with a fork.
Bake about 10 to 14 minutes.  Transfer cookies to brown paper to cool.  A large brown grocery sack cut open and spread on your counter top or table is ideal for absorbing some of the oil and cooling the cookies.  Store in covered container.

August 22, 2010. Tags: , , , . Recipes. 3 comments.

Carnivors Unite!

(Veggies, you may want to look away.)

Just in time for the fourth of July!

Looking for something that screams “It’s summer!”?
Come together and appreciate the tastiness that is…
spicy, bloody steak.

This is my new favorite dinner. FAVORITE. I do not use that word generously when it comes to food. I like food but I think I am also kind of picky. I have made it at least half a dozen times since getting this cookbook recently. It’s fairly easy, tastes like a million bucks but doesn’t cost it, is PERFECT for the summertime, and satisfies the meat lover thoroughly.
The absolute best part: This recipe is perfect as it is.
This is very rare.

The only difference from the recipe you’ll see here is my local market didn’t have flatiron steak so I used flank instead which I LOVE. I suggest whichever is available as they are both delicious.

I also suggest you get the book from whence it came. It is fantastic. I have already tried a handful of recipes in here and actually really like them all with no adjustments. Also, it’s incredibly cheap.

Chipotle-Marinated Flatiron Steak with Avocado Corn Relish

(basically from Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010)

you will need:

1 1/2 lbs flatiron or flank steak
1/4 cup orange juice
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
plus 1 Tbsp adobo sauce from the can
1 large clove garlic
2 Tbsp E.V.olive oil
2 Hass avocados diced into cubes
(I recommend for them to be just under ripe)
1/2 cup corn kernels (from one ear of corn)
(I DO NOT recommend the sweet corn as it is way too sweet. Use canned if there are no ears available. It is still perfectly delicious.)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 small jalapeno seeded and minced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

(If using flatiron steak, butterfly now. Light grill if using one. I use a cast iron skillet.)

Set steak in a medium bowl or baking dish.

In a blender (or food processor), combine the orange juice with the chipotle, adobo, garlic, and 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and puree until smooth. Pour the marinade over the steak and let stand for 10 minutes. (I lay plastic wrap over mine since it’s not going in the fridge.)

Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, gently mix the avocados, with the corn, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice and the remaining olive oil. Season relish with salt and pepper.

Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bowl;do not wipe off the marinade. Season with salt and pepper. **Grill the steak flat over moderately high heat, turning once, until medium, about 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain and serve with the relish.

-Melissa Rubel Jacobson

Serve with: tortillas, black beans and lime wedges.

Suggested wine: Intense, fruity Zinfandel

**If cooking indoors, I suggest opening a window and/or turning on a fan as the smoke from the chipotle can irritate you a bit.

July 3, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Recipes. Leave a comment.

Be Prepared…

You’re about to fall in love.

When I moved to Rhode Island I began working in a little diner. It didn’t take long at all for me to realize that almost no one here had heard of Migas. This blew my mind as I had been cooking them for the past 8 years for the starving masses of Austin. (Remember, besides a 1 year stint in St. Thomas and one in Tyler, Texas, I’d never lived anywhere else!) I’m positive I have cooked at least 1,000 plates of Migas.
I ran them as a special and just as I suspected, they were being demanded regularly. I put them on the permanent menu and now I am solely (and proudly) responsible for introducing hundreds of people to a delicious dish from Texas.

Migas will make you fall in love with eggs all over again. I was eating them before I even liked their ingredients individually. “Migas” literally translates into “crumbs” and some Mexicans may also answer “chips” and “pieces”. This is due to the chips or strips used in the dish. Personally, I prefer using stale tortilla chips much like french toast utilizes bread that has gone stale.  I believe the final texture is ideal, however, many use freshly cut corn tortilla strips. This will be up to you. I suggest trying both.
This part is important: These are Tex-Mex Migas, NOT Spanish Migas.  There is a big difference as you can see here.

Without further ado!

Migas (Tex-Mex)
(for 2 grown folks)
you will need:

1 large tomato, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced (if you desire heat)
large handful of stale tortilla chips, slightly crushed
5 eggs
splash of milk
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded pepper-jack cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Mix equal amounts of tomato, onion, and bell pepper in a bowl together. Add jalapenos.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk together.
Heat oil in a skillet on medium high. Add vegetable mixture when hot and saute until onion begins to turn translucent.
(Please take care to not hover over your skillet while sauteing if you are using jalapenos.)
Now add chips and toss with veggies a few times. Add eggs and reduce heat to medium low.
(This is how the chips get just the right texture. I find that if soft tortillas are used, they become too soft.)
Scramble together. While the eggs are still barely wet/soft, add cilantro. (Cilantro is not a traditional addition but I really like a touch of it.)
Stir and remove from heat.

*Mix cheese in and serve!

I serve my Migas with salsa, flour tortillas and refried beans. They are also often served with Spanish style potatoes.

*There is an important reason I recommend adding cheese after the egg is almost completely cooked. Cheese is porous. This means that if you put cheese into raw egg, it can trap the egg not allowing it to become fully cooked.  Personally, I do not worry to this extent but if you are worried about bacteria and typically cook your eggs hard or dry, this is important for you to know.

♥♥♥

April 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Recipes. 8 comments.

Part Three-Black Beans for Pork Tenderloin Medallions

The final installment is here! My husband swears he never liked black beans until I made them for him. These are my black beans.  I love them.  I hope you do too.

You will need:

3 1/2 cups black beans
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chile molido (if available)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp sage
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Night before: Put beans into your pot with twice as much lukewarm water and cover. Let them soak overnight. Strain and replace water the next afternoon and continue soaking.

Time to cook: Strain water from beans and rinse thoroughly. Put them back in your pot with 6 & 1/2 cups of water. Add all ingredients EXCEPT cilantro. Bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes on high. Stir well. Reduce heat and simmer with lid for approximately 1 hour or until beans just begin to fall apart. Remove from heat, stir well and remove bay leaves. Then add the cilantro, stir and put the lid back on for 10 minutes. (We do not cook the cilantro because it is an herb that looses all flavor when cooked.)
Now they are ready!
Hopefully I will have a prettier picture of this dish later on but this will have to suffice for now.

April 23, 2010. Tags: , , . Recipes. Leave a comment.

Part Two-Pork Tenderloin Medallions

Welcome back! Here are the two toppings that most definitely must accompany the crunchy tenderloin medallions. Although simple, these play an important role in the experience of this refreshing dish.

The first being the tomatillo sauce. I do not refer to this as salsa verde for a number of reasons but one is because it is not to be cooked. The tomatillo sauce being fresh, cold, and uncooked, provides a tangy and refreshing start to the meat.
Next is a very basic pico de gallo. I always mix a bit into my spoonful of black beans. I feel the texture and temperature of this is what’s important. I will suggest heirloom (or ugly) tomatoes in the recipe but that is just a personal favorite of mine.
Here we go:

for Tomatillo Sauce
you will need:

*6-8 tomatillos (medium-sized)
1/4 small Spanish onion, rough chopped
1/4 cup cilantro (rough chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Remove husks/skins from tomatillos, rinse and rough chop tomatillo into quarters. Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth. Store covered in refrigerator.

*Learn more about how to choose good tomatillos here.

for Pico de Gallo
you will need:

3-4 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 medium to large Spanish onion, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, diced
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp olive oil
*seeds from one small dried arbol chile
(Use sparingly. These babies es muy caliente)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together!

*An arbol chile’s seeds are almost strictly for heat so you may disregard if none is desired. If you are interested in the flavor of the pepper, you can discard the seeds and use the pepper ground.

♥Voila!♥
Come back Friday to get the final step for this meal!



April 21, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Recipes. 1 comment.

Al Pastor Tacos

The best part about being born and raised in Austin, Texas, was the abundance of genuine Mexican food as well as Tex-Mex. I am often thankful I paid attention while I lived there now that it is impossible to find great Mexican food in the northeast. I can make it at home whenever I want!

Al pastor taco meat is typically cooked on a spit but I don’t happen to have one of these and I am going to assume you probably don’t either. Well, no need to fear! After many tries, I believe I have figured out the best way to mimic the taste and texture of the rotisseried pork that makes these tacos so incredibly delicious. The meat stays tender, moist and still has the wonderful, slightly crisp skin. These are a nice, light dinner with cool toppings, hints of citrus, sweet pineapple and light corn tortillas. You can stuff yourself with these and still be able to move (to the dessert table). Also perfect for feeding a large number of people because the toppings are just served cold from a bowl. Notice how few ingredients there are as well! This=cheap. And if you typically steer clear of “tenderloin” because you assume it is expensive, you will realize that does not include pork. Onward to Mexico!

*Note: I like to marinate my meat the day before cooking it but you can also prepare it in the morning and let it marinate through the day.

You will need:

  • about 1 1/2-2 cups pineapple chunks and 3 Tbsp juice.
  • 2 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1 large spanish onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • limes (plenty for some juice and garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp Cumin (for future reference, this is my favorite spice in the whole world besides salt and vanilla)
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp medium ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil plus 6 more Tbsp
  • corn tortillas

Do not cut your tenderloin. In a large ziplock or container with lid, combine all spices, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 3 Tbsp pineapple juice and whole tenderloin. Marinate in fridge overnight and through the day.

Dice onion and cilantro and combine the two in one bowl. Squeeze juice from half a lime over them and refrigerate. Chop pineapple into smaller chunks about (1/3″ in size) and put aside.  Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil on high heat in large skillet. Sear/fry pork for 3 minutes on all sides. Remove and place on cutting board. Chop into small chunks. (Insides should still be raw)

Heat 2 more Tbsp oil on high and fry pork pieces, tossing/turning regularly until cooked. This time will depend on the size of your cuts but typically anywhere from 7-12 minutes. Toss in pineapple chunks, squeeze juice from one whole lime and saute for 3 more minutes.

Serve on grilled corn tortillas, top with spoonful of raw onion mixture and limes slices.

*note: I have read many recipes that suggest marinating the meat with the pineapple pieces. I DO NOT recommend this as the meat ends up feeling mealy which is yuck.

♥refreshing!♥

February 25, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Recipes. Leave a comment.

Southern Onion Rings

I seem to have a hard time convincing people that a recipe will be good when it doesn’t have “fancy” ingredients. I think you’ll start to believe me after you try these. Your family will be impressed and you may be surprised. Takes about 15 minutes @ most.

You will need:

  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2-3 LARGE sweet onions, sliced 1/4″
  • frying oil (canola,vegetable, or soybean)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp parsley flakes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup corn meal

Heat frying oil in skillet. If you have a candy thermometer, you can use that to test to 350°. I usually just test with a sprinkle of batter.
(Take a pinch of your cornmeal mixture and sprinkle a little into the oil. The oil is ready when the mixture sizzles instantly.)

In medium bowl, pour buttermilk over onions. stir well with fork. Put all dry ingredients in another bowl and mix well. Move onions from milk to cornmeal mixture and coat well. Cook onions 8-10 at a time until golden brown.(This won’t take long!!) Place on paper towels until served.


♥♥♥

February 20, 2010. Tags: , , . Recipes. 4 comments.

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