Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More Harvest Treats

Friday night, we had a wonderfully autumnal veggie stew for dinner. While I didn't serve any dessert with it, the gingerbread cake I made for class Thursday would go well with it. My prof said, "Mmm, tastes like Fall!" when he bit into it. I served it plain for class, but I heartily recommend some real whipped cream to dollop on top.

Fall Veggie Stew
1 lb. acorn squash, cubed
2 potatoes, cubed
4 carrots, chopped into 1" lengths
4 ribs celery, chopped as above
1 c. sliced zucchini
1 c. green beans
1 c. peas
2 c. beef broth
2 tbsp. red wine (I used burgundy)
A good grinding of pepper
1 tsp. herbes de Provence (or rosemary)
1 lb. kielbasa, cut in 1/2" pieces (you could also use regular pork sausage links)
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
2 onions, quartered
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. warm water

Put squash, potatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, green beans, broth, wine, pepper, herbes de Provence in crockpot. Brown sausage with peppers & onions. Add to pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Add peas. Whisk flour into water until smooth and add to pot. Cook on low 1 more hour. Serve with good, crusty bread like the tomato-basil bread from Lakewood's Breadsmith we found at the Farmer's Market this weekend.

Gingerbread Cake
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
4 1/2 tbsp. melted butter
1 egg
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix first 7 ingredients together. Beat in egg. Sift flour and soda together and add alternately with buttermilk. Butter 8" square pan. Pour batter into pan and bake 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Serves 9. I actually doubled this recipe and baked it in a 13x9 pan for about 7 minutes longer than this recipe calls for. This recipe comes from the fabulous Susan Branch, who included it, along with a recipe for lemon sauce that sounds delicious, in her Autumn cookbook. The recipes are wonderful, but the illustrations, watercolors by Branch, are even better. It's a delight to look at even if you don't cook.

Welcome Fall!!!

Ah, I just love seasonal changes and I especially love Fall! For our first Fall dinner this year, I roasted a chicken (slather with butter, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and herbes de Provence, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes...and let it rest 10 minutes before cutting), jazzed up some leftover mashed potatoes (spread into baking dish, topped with 1/2 cup heavy cream and a bunch of grated parmesan and broiled until it was all golden & bubbly on top), steamed some green beans and made an apple crisp. Of all the desserts I remember from my childhood, apple crisp and chocolate chip cookies are the most vivid memories. Every time my mom made apple crisp, I would help, but I would also be excitedly waiting for the curls of peel that I would get to snack on! I found some gorgeous Granny Smiths and used those along with MacIntosh, Pink Lady and some sort of homegrown Ohio apples.

Apple Crisp
10 apples, peeled and sliced
Lemon juice
1 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. cold butter, cut into bits
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2-qt. casserole. Layer the apples in it. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix the other ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples. Bake half an hour.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Using Up The Basil

I had a bunch of fresh basil left from another cooking project, so I made a simple basil cream sauce for spaghetti tonight. With it, I served Caesar salad (bagged, definitely not Dole!) and Pillsbury garlic breadsticks with some extra Grana Padano grated over the top before baking.

Spaghetti with Basil Cream Sauce
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
A handful of basil, cut in chiffonade (or a couple tbsp. dried)
1 tsp. lemon juice
Pinch salt
Pinch garlic powder
12 oz. spaghetti

Gently boil the cream for about 10 minutes, until it is thickened. Add the basil, lemon juice, salt and garlic powder. Cook the pasta and drain. Toss with sauce. Serves 4.

Spicing Up Lunch

Since J was here until noon, there was no need for me to take lunch to her. That's a favorite way we stay connected during the work week, but sometimes it's nice to be free to simply play in the kitchen without concern for anyone else's preferences and especially without any concern for how to transport and serve the food! So, I made myself a pot of creamy Tex Mex mac & cheese. I've put the leftovers in containers for the neighbors & J's dinner later in the week.

Tex Mex Mac & Cheese
1 lb. shell pasta
2 1/2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
8 oz. shredded Jack cheese (or a "Mexican blend")
4 oz. can green chiles, drained
11 oz. can Mexicorn, drained

Cook pasta al dente. Mix flour and salt in a saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk and heat on medium-high heat until boiling, whisking all the while. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add chiles and corn and heat through. Mix with pasta. Next time, I might toss in some salsa, too.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chicken Enchilada Soup

The other night, the three of us chowed down on this good comfort food, much needed that night.

Chicken Enchilada Soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 c. diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. masa harina
3 c. water
1 c. enchilada sauce
16 oz. Velveeta
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

Brown the chicken in the oil, 4-5 minutes per side. Set aside. Add onions & garlic to pot and sauté on medium until translucent. Add broth. Mix masa harina with 2 c. water and whisk until blended. Add to pot. Add rest of water, sauce, cheese, spices. Bring to a boil. Shred chicken and add to pot. Simmer 30-40 minutes, until thickened. Serve with tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Serves 12.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Make It Snappy!

When I was a kid, my favorite kind of fish (besides Long John Silver's) was red snapper. I was a big fan of shrimp, too. One of my family's traditional celebratory meals was shrimp in beer. Anyway, when we would go down to the Gulf Coast of Florida, there were a couple of restaurants we frequently visited. One was called The Admiral's Wardroom and it was there that I discovered the joy of munching on radishes. The red snapper we had there was simply broiled, nothing like the Cuban recipe I made tonight for red snapper with capers. Tonight's dinner was rounded out with rice and a simple traditional Cuban salad with avocado and artisan leaf lettuce sprinkled with Spanish olive oil and cider vinegar, along with a scattering of salt and pepper.

Red Snapper with Capers
6 tbsp. oil
1 1/4 c. chopped onion
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. toasted almonds (I used slivered ones, I am sure chopped would work equally well)
2 tbsp. capers
1 1/4 c. fish broth (I actually used chicken broth, though...easier to obtain pre-made)

1 1/2 lb. red snapper fillets
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. oil

Cut fish into 3" pieces. Marinate in lime juice, with some salt sprinkled over, for 10 minutes per side. For the sauce, heat oil. Sauté onion & parsley until the onion is soft. Add capers and almonds and cook about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook gently about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Fry the fish golden on each side in the 2 tbsp. oil. Pour the sauce over the fish and bring to a boil. Cook another minute or two, then serve fish with sauce ladled over it.

This is my adaptation of one of my favorite Cuban cookbooks, A Taste of Cuba.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Back To School Cooking

Seminary started again this past week, which means I am again cooking for my grandies and for my classmates. This week's dinner for the grands was chicken paprikas with egg noodles (recipe adapted from December 2003 issue of Gourmet) and lima beans. This week's class treat was Kahlúa bars. They were supposed to be served right out of the freezer, but they were actually eaten about 3 hours later. Oops. They still tasted great, they were just incredibly goopy.

Chicken Paprikas
3 lb. chicken pieces
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. oil
1 lg. onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely-chopped
1 1/2 tbsp. paprika
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. sour cream

Rinse chicken and blot dry. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Heat the oil and add the chicken, skin side down. Brown on all sides, then set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same pan until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add paprika, tomato sauce and water. Add chicken, skin side up. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and cook 10 minutes, to thicken sauce. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Put one cup of sauce in a bowl and cool slightly. Whisk the sour cream into the cooled sauce. Blend with the rest of the sauce. Adjust seasonings. Serves 4.

Kahlúa Bars
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (I used cinnamon graham crackers to make mine)
1 c. chopped toasted almonds (I used the slivered kind and it worked out just fine)
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa (I used Ghirardelli)
1 slightly beaten egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. Kahlúa (I imagine you could use another coffee liqueur like Tia María)

6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk or cream
3 tbsp. Kahlúa

1 1/2 tbsp. butter
4 oz. chocolate chips

Mix crumbs and almonds. Melt butter on low. Add sugar, cocoa, egg, vanilla. Cook 4 minutes, until the mixture is thickened. Mix with the graham crumbs. Sprinkle with Kahlúa and mix gently. Press evenly into a 13 x 9 pan. Freeze. To make the icing, beat the butter with the powdered sugar. Add the milk/cream and Kahlúa. Spread over bars and freeze 2 hours. To make the topping, melt the butter and chocolate together (I used the microwave to good effect) and spread over the frozen icing. Serve while still nice & solid!

Trying Again

Well, the last Friday night Boot came to visit, I made a crappy Cuban dinner. Tonight, I had Latin food on the menu again. I wasn't terribly worried, but the thought did cross my mind that bad things might happen again. They didn't and we had a delightful dinner. I made burgers, plain for the boys and "Argentine burgers" for the grown folks. For those, I just mixed a pound of 90% lean hamburger with 1/4 cup of chimichurri from my sweetheart's plant. If you don't have access to pre-made chimichurri, it's really easy to make.

Traditional-Style Chimichurri
1 & 1/2 bunches curly parsley, finely-chopped
3 tbsp. minced garlic
1 c. olive oil
1/2 c. white vinegar, lime juice or lemon juice
Salt & pepper

Whisk everything together & let stand for at least 2 hours before using. This is great on steaks. It's also a good dip for chips or bread. You can also make it with green onions added in.

So, I made patties & J broiled them. She put American cheese on the boys' burgers and queso blanco on ours. I made fried plantains, very, very ripe, and they were fantastic. We had fruit salad from the grocery and two different kinds of chips. We'd been to Jungle Jim's and I picked up Goya yuca chips and Donita plantain chips. I made brownies for dessert and it looks like Boot & J have wiped out half the pan already! I'd better have one or I will be out of luck!