Mar 31, 2011

Shredded Pork Tostados

I stinkin love Mexican food. I think it might be because I was raised on it, or maybe it was because it was the last thing that my Mom ate before she birthed me.  Regardless I LOVE IT! I made this dish from a pork shoulder that I slow cooked and made hawaiian bbq pork out of the first night and then soaked in orange juice and chipolte peppers the second day.  It was delicious.  The tangy orange juice was a nice partner to the spicy chipolte and then I topped it with finely chopped onion, chopped cilantro and avocado, queso fresco and a ton of lime. So really no recipe, except for the pork shoulder:

Kalua Pork
delightfully borrowed from melskitchencafe
10-12 pounds pork shoulder butt roast (don’t substitute a leaner cut of pork or it will be dry)
1 bottle liquid smoke
2 tablespoons sea salt (or hula salt if you can find it)
1 1/2 cups water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Trim roast of large pockets of fat (but leave some fat on there to help the pork stay tender while cooking). Place pork in large roasting pan (the aluminum, deep roasting pans you can buy at the grocery store work great if you don’t own a heavy-duty roasting pan). Rub 2-3 tablespoons of sea salt into pork. Pour the bottle of liquid smoke over and around the pork. Pour the water around the pork. Cover roasting pan TIGHTLY with two layers of aluminum foil.
Bake for 5-7 hours

Mar 29, 2011

Ahhh Summmmmer (March Dessert Wars Challenge)

I personally think that March in the Pac Northwest is hell.  It's cold.  It's rainy.  Sometimes it snows.  It is particularly difficult for me when I see pictures of all my friends in Texas. It seems like as soon as February rolls around everyone is posting pictures of beach time, gardens and talking about how they are getting sunburns. Things I can only dream about. 
This cake is the result of my frustrations and while it didn't make it any warmer or even make the sun come out it was wonderful and tasted like my favorite Summer drink a mojito!

This is my submission for the March edition of Dessert Wars, which had a great twist to it.  We were given two columns of ingredients to choose from, one traditional and one not so much.  I choose to include avocado from the "not so much" column and lime and mint from the traditional.

Mojito Pound Cake
recipe modified from joythebaker
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup rum
flesh of 1 1/2 ripe avocados, just over a cup of avocado, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pant.
In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. Set the four eggs out on the counter to come to room temperature while you beat the butter and sugar.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until softened and pliable. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the avocado and beat another minute to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute after the addition of each egg. Beat in vanilla extract.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, all of the buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat just until combined.
Divide the dough between the two loaf pans and place in the oven. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. I checked my cakes every ten minutes or so after the 30 minute mark. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Lime Glaze
3 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
8 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest (about 6 limes total)
Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Add lime juice; stir until smooth. Stir in lime zest. Use glaze immediately.

Candied Mint Leaves
Mint leaves
egg white
granulated sugar
1 tsp. water
Gently wash flowers and leaves in cool water and blot dry on paper towels.
mix the water with egg white and beat slightly.Carefully dip mint into egg white. Gently dredge with sugar and dry on waxed paper 12 hours or more before using.

March's prize package includes:
Whisk and cupcake necklace from Moon & Star Designs
The Smartshopper Electronic Grocery List Organizer
Lenox Personalized Musical Cupcake
1,000 ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies & Cakes
Endless Vanilla and Cinnamon Extract
Unlimited Layers: A Recipe for Turning Your Passion into Profits
50 $ Gift certificate to organic valley
Organic Prairie $50 Gift Certificate
Theme Kitchen $50 Gift Certificate
Crepe Pan

Mar 21, 2011

Spicy Grits Bowls

     "I like my grits gritty."  I don't really know why but I growled this at SA yesterday before preparing this new delightful dish to add to my repertoire, but it started an epiphany. 
     Do you ever just look in your fridge and feel slightly uninspired by the ingredients you have before making a trip to the grocery store? I do it ALL the time, and I am the queen of the last minute call to pick up ingredients on the way home. I am however, trying to turn over a new leaf and use my pantry so this recipe is a result of trying to be both frugal and use ingredients I had on hand (and almost always have on hand.)

Spicy Grit Bowls
Two servings of grits prepared
2 cups of black beans
1/2 pound of spicy sausage cooked and crumbled
1/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c. green salsa
1 avocado chopped
sour cream
cilantro to taste
      So basically layer the the toppings on top of the prepared grits and then mix them up if you want  to or not :) Delicious and feeds two.

Mar 19, 2011

Pappas Rellenas and Sopa de Lima (March Daring Cooks Challenge)

I was on a mission as soon as I read the recipe for the March Daring Cooks challenge.  I was going to find some Purple Peruvian potatoes! Alas I went to every grocery store in the area to no avail.  Finally I went to Seattle for work and got a chance to visit the Pikes Place Market (WHICH I LOVED!!!) In the market I barely had to look, there were my little purple gems. 
Due to being sick with what I am going to refer to as the plague for the last week I just got a chance to perform the challenge tonight for SA and our friends Tiff and Matt. It was fantastic! I used a mixture of spicy sausage, onions,garlic, olives and cheese.

Pappas Rellenas
For the dough:
2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
1 large egg
For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
½ lb spicy sausage
6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)
2 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more) 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)
Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)
In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.
For the dough:
Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool.
Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.
Forming and frying the papas:
Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
Heat 1 ½ - 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 - 190°C).
Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

I served the Pappas Rellenas with Sopa de Lima:

Sopa de Lima (Tortilla Soup with Lime)
delightfully borrowed from Home Sick Texan
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
10 cloves garlic
2 quarts of chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
Crushed tortilla chips
2 jalapeños, stems and seeds removed, diced
1 avocado, pitted and peeled, cubed
1 lime, cut into slices

Place the quartered onion and 10 cloves of garlic under the broiler. Cook until blackened, about 10 minutes, turning once. Place the cooked onion and garlic into the blender, along with 1 cup of the broth. Pour into a large pot.
Add the rest of the chicken broth to the pot, and stir in the allspice, cinnamon, oregano, cumin, cayenne, 1/2 cup of the chopped cilantro and lime zest. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings, and then stir in the lime juice.
Serve with Monterrey Jack, crushed tortilla chips, diced jalapeños, remaining 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, avocado and lime slices.
Blog Checking Lines:
Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.


Mar 17, 2011

For Japan with Love

When I was a kid growing up on the Texas gulf coast, I remember when hurricane Alicia hit.  It wasn't one of the epically destructive hurricanes of years past(ie. Katrina or Ike), however it was memorable to me.  I remember how the trees were destroyed and the power was out for days and the surreal quality to the fact that we were using water from the tub that my dad had filled up before we evacuated to do everything from wash our hands to flush the toilet. The neighborhood fared well but I remember the houses out where my grandparents lived, torn from their stilts or simply a blank spot where a house used to be.  I remember not being able to know if our friends and family were OK and the tree that crushed our neighbors mustang.  I even remember dropping a full container of melted bluebell chocolate ice cream on the floor... a true travesty considering we were without power or water for days! When I look at the pictures of the destruction in Japan I think of my hurricane experience times 20. In light of what occurred in Japan I am reminded:

In Lak'ech
I am you, and you are me---
and we must all

I will be silent this Friday in support of this movement.  Please take a moment and check out the above link or more directly here to make a donation to shelterbox which is an awesome organization that does great work!
Sending LOVE from the heart to the people of Japan.

Mar 4, 2011

Lentil Soup with Preserved Lemons

Recently we had a snow day.  And by snow, I mean, that it snowed a bit and covered all of the trees in a beautiful white glaze.  SA and I managed to have the same day off that day so we decided to take a drive up into the mountains. It was gorgeous:
We stopped by a local lake and I got accosted by a goose? The question mark was because I think it was a goose.  I have never heard something make a sound like this one was making.  I think it wanted part of my Luna bar... at any rate, it made Curry loose his mind!!!
look at that evil glint in his beady eyes! He was out to get me!!!!

see? Curry was loosing his mind over the snowdrifts.  This picture we like to affectionately call, digging to china, because that's what he was doing in the big pile of snow!!!
 At any rate, after we got home we were hungry for something warm in our belly's and soup fit the bill quite nicely.  This lentil soup is delicious, but the addition of the preserved lemons on the top took it to the next level.  I started the preserved lemons from a recipe on chow back in December and they were the perfect accoutrement, and highly delicious in their own right.

Lentil Soup with Spiced Preserved Lemons
polska kielbasa cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes with chiles
2 cups dry lentils
6 cups of chicken broth
2 cups spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, and sausage and cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic oregano cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in lentils, and add chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top with rinsed chopped spiced preserved lemons.