Saturday, January 31, 2009

Enchiladas, 2 ways.

As you all may have guessed I never (well, 98% of the time) measure ingredients. For me, cooking is about feel and flavor. Put things together you like. Try new stuff. It will probably be tasty, but maybe it will need refining. No problem. Try again. That's the fun about it. I decided to stray a little from my cooking mantra and make some enchiladas with a tomatillo salsa (Ive never made that before). Still though, recipes are just a guide. More for me to keep track of what I need to buy so I don't forget something at the store. Here we have "The Recipe Way" for which I sort of followed the recipe as a guideline, basically eyeball all measurements and add and subtract ingredients when I want. Case in point: I like onions so I added more of those, but I am a HUGE WIMP when it comes to spicy food, so I took everything spicy out. And we have "The Tara Way" which means I make it with what I have...?

AKA green enchiladas.
The recipe was spawned from reading the other Tara's food blog, Tara the Foodie. I came across the blog a while ago, and really love the pictures she posts with everything, and the liberal use of Mexican ingredients (one of my faves). She gives the recipe as Tyler Florence's. Check her blog out, its worth a look.

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa:
1 pound tomatillos, husked

1 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered
4 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos tooo spicy
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 lime, juiced
Extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
10 large flour tortillas
1/2 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
2 cups sour cream
Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the salsa: On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Enchiladas: Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees F and begin assembling the dish. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish, cilantro and tomato.

While chopping, don't forget eye protection from the evil sulfuric acid! These are my old chemistry goggles. Safety first.

Tomatillos, red onion, white onion and garlic.

After roasting, blend with cilantro and cumin to make your salsa.
The veloute (one f the 4 french mother sauces... all pretty easy so don't get scared). Basically a roux with stock or broth added. If we added milk it would be a bechamel sauce. Roux+ _____= a mother sauce.
Roaster chicken from the deli that I shredded. Save the carcass for stock!
Veloute, chicken and tomatillo salsa. The saucy deliciousness... mmmm.
Filling the enchiladas using flour tortillas, sauce and cheese.
Put in pan and cover with more tomatillo salsa.
Cover with cheese. I <3>Here I am making a black bean and con dish Ive made like a million times: Saute red onion, add roasted red pepper, corn, cilantro, lime juice and rinsed canned black beans. Consume.
Enchiladas after baking.
Black bean side.
Condiments: tomato, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, tomatillo salsa and chopped banana pepper.
The meal: rice, beans and enchiladas. Carb heaven.

AKA don't use a recipe
some (2 lbs-ish) chicken
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 zucchini, cut into large matchsticks
1 pkt low sodium taco seasoning
1 T-ish cumin
couple scoops of sofrito
1 small can chopped green chiles (available at a latin market or the international section of your grocery)
1/2 c-ish cilantro, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
corn tortillas
8 oz cheddar cheese
Garnish: avocado, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, lime wedges, tomato...
Cook chicken (however you want), remove and shred or chop, then set aside. Cook onions, zucchini and bell peppers until onions are almost translucent. Add taco seasoning, cumin, sofrito and green chiles. Cook for a couple min. Add chicken. Add cilantro right before use.
Pour 1/2 can tomato sauce in a 9x13 pan and spread out. Put about a 1/4 cup of filling into a corn tortilla and fold over then place in pan, seam side down. Repeat until pan is full. I can usually fit 8-10 in. Top with rest of tomato sauce and then cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350F until cheese is melty and slightly golden, about 20-30 min. Consume!



After baking... one exploded. It happens sometimes w/ corn tortillas.
Plated with lime, cilantro, avocado and sour cream. Maybe enjoy with a horchata?


Friday, January 30, 2009

The Sweet 100

Inspired by the omnivore's 100, here is the sweet 100!

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten--or make them a different type color.
3) Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat.
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List.
5) Optional: Post a comment here linking to your results--or just post a comment letting us know how many you've tried, or what you're going to try next!

Ive had 57/100 of these. I should really just cross them all out though, since now I am PBing it... I really shouldnt have ANY of these!

Red Velvet Cake
Princess Torte
Whoopie Pie
Apple Pie with sharp cheddar
Black and white cookie
Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
Scone with clotted cream LOVE THEM!
Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
Banana pudding with nilla wafers
Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")
Dixie Cup
Rice Krispie treats
Girl Scout cookies
Moon cake
Candy Apple
Baked Alaska
Brooklyn Egg Cream
Nanaimo bar
Baba au rhum
King Cake
Tres Leches Cake
Shoofly Pie
Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
Panna Cotta again, LOVE it!!
New York Cheesecake
Napoleon / mille-fueille
Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake See xmas cookie post
Anzac biscuits
Moon Pie
Dutch baby see Taste and Create post
Boston Cream Pie
Homemade chocolate chip cookies

Gooey butter cake
Green tea cake or cookies
Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
Crème brûlée I DO have a kitchen torch... lol.
Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
Jelly Roll
Pop Tarts
Charlotte Russe
An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or
Tarte Tatin)
Hummingbird Cake
Jell-O from a mold
Black forest cake
Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
Linzer torte
Churro I LOVE churros
Angel Food Cake
Mincemeat pie
Opera Cake see opera cake post
Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
Pain au chocolat
A piece of Gingerbread House
Rainbow cookies
Petits fours
Chocolate Souffle
Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
Homemade marshmallows
Rigo Janci
Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
Coke or Cola cake
Gateau Basque
Figgy Pudding
Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
Joe Froggers
Millionaire's Shortbread
Animal crackers

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Daring Bakers... Tuiles!

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Baking Soda and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Go to The Daring Bakers!

Okay so that was the obligatory blog-checking line, I hope? Well anyway we get to make tuiles! Ive been wanting to make these for a while now, but I had simply added then to the "later" category in the back of my head! Well... now! Ordinarily tuiles are quite simple, but I had to crazy it up! These kinds of challenges are my favorite kind, there is a lot of freedom and it does not involve chocolate! A baker not liking chocolate? I know, I know.

I really wanted to do something in season fruit-wise, so I chose blood oranges! I love me some blood oranges. The first time I ever had them I was in Sicily and ordered a glass of fresh blood orange juice. Yum. Well, hope you think these are creative! My additions are in red.

Sweet tuiles: Cardamom tuiles with coconut mousse and blood orange jellies.
Savory tuiles: Marmite tuiles with avocado mousse and flaked salmon.

Sweet Tuiles from “The Chocolate Book” by Angélique Schmeinck
65 g softened butter
60 g sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar dash vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 t cardamom powder
65 g sifted AP flour
Oven: 350F
Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirriItalicng while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Bake in a preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still very warm, so place the baking sheet on a pulled out oven rack and shape while in front and slightly inside the oven.

Coconut Mousse by me
1/2 c heavy cream
1 T sugar
dash coconut extract
1.5 T unsweetened coconut flake
Whip cream, add sugar and extract then add coconut.

Blood Orange Jellies by me
1 c blood orange juice, strained of all pulp
1 T sugar
1 packet gelatin
Bloom gelatin on blood orange juice for 10 min. Microwave in 10 second bust and stir until dissolved. Add sugar, dissolve. Pour into am 8in round cake pan and plane in refrigerator overnight. Cut into 1/4 in cubes with a very sharp knife.

For the sweet ones I made a square stencil (from a cardboard milk carton) and when they were done baking I folded three corners in and left one flat. Pipe in coconut mousse and decorate with blood orange jellies. Garnish with blood orange segments and coconut. Pretty simple. These are wonderful little cookies and simple! The stenciling takes the most time but after you get the hang of it is no biggie.

Savory Tuiles from "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller
65 g AP flour
1 T plus 1 t sugar
1 t kosher salt 1 T marmite
114 g unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Oven: 400F
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. The cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point. Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door (this will help keep the cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll).

Avocado Mousse by me
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 mashed avocado
1 t lemon juice
Whip cream and add mashed avo and lemon juice. Add a dash of white pepper and salt to taste. Whip for 10 more seconds to combine.

For these I simply made a circle stencil and when they were cooked I put then into a mini-muffin tin to for nice ripples. I am GLAD I chose these to do round b/c they are finicky as hell! They will over cook so fast in the oven, I wasted a whole pan of then b/c they got too done. They are harder to shape if they are over done. I feel the amount of butter is excessive, so I added more flour and they were still oily when they were done. I know the butter:flour ratio is such maybe to offset the lack of sugar in the savory recipe, but man! Oh well it worked out well in the end. I just piped in the mousse and put a piece of salmon on top, garnished with smoked paprika.

Now for the pics!
Blood oranges.

Stenciling the sweet tuiles.

See how thin they are?
Assembly of the sweet tuiles. Be careful! Yes, that is an ice cube tray! Lol.
Sweet tuiles done!
I had to showcase the insane amount of snow we got.
Close up. Yummm,
Savory tuiles.
Close up.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Xmas cookies.

So I know Im a month late but here are the Xmas cookies! I guess its more of a pictorial since I dont feel like writing much.

Betty Crocker cookbook from 1974.

"Russian Teacakes" = "Round Powdered Cookie Rounds" Thats the name from my childhood, and it still sticks. One of my fave memories is cooking these with my Mama.
The infamous "Round Powdered Cookie Rounds" (aka mexican wedding cakes).
Jams I made this past summer with seasonal fruits! Kumquat Marmalade, Blueberry Jam, Apricot Jam, Raspberry Jam (no pic) and Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam.
Nori Shortbreads inspired by David Lebovitz. I actually used Furikake.
Earl Grey and Clementine Shortbreads
Double Ginger Cookies. Chewy and yummy!
Old Fashioned Fruitcake Muffins. LOTS of brandy was involved.
Rolling the Anise Scented Fig and Date SwirlsAfter chilling, slicing and cooking. These were reeeaaally good.
Cute bottles.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Ecuador, Dec 2008.

Well I went to Ecuador on a school trip. It was the most awesome thing I have ever done! I have been to Europe 2x and this was significantly more fun and rewarding. We stayed at TBS, Tiputini Biodiversity Station. Its a research station so there were a few researchers down there while we were there. I met some awesome people (Jose, Santiago, Ramiro, Diego, Shawn, Bejat, Erin, Michele) and did sooo many awesome things:

  • Piraña fishing
  • Turtle egg hunting
  • Walks in the rainforest
  • Canopy tower
  • Nighttime caiman hunt
  • Float trips down the river
  • Seeing the monkeys right outside our bunks
  • Butterfly swarms in the Vball court
  • Tattoo fruit
  • Lake tour
  • Dock at night to look at the stars
  • Saw loooots of animals and plants and insects...

I'm sure I am forgetting stuff, but Ill edit accordingly. Some things I'm glad to leave behind include: not being able to flush TP, wearing bug spray all the effing time, not wearing makeup (I'm ashamed to admit) because I looked a hot mess down there, being suspicious of the fruit, veg and H2O all the time (damn you little microbes), not eating so many carbs (though I do LOVE me some fried plantain) and being able to use the bathroom in private (the bathroom was just screened away from the bunks, sooo yeah).

Despite all the things I am glad to have back, I will miss 10-fold more things. From the people (who I will see again, sometime) to the learning Spanish everyday to the simple little WOP frogs. It was simply the most amazing and different place Ive eve been, and the allure to return is strong. I feel like I may have finally found my happy place.

Oh and please be aware of the devastation oil drilling causes, Ecuador is losing its native rainforest at an extremely rapid pace, and I fear that someday some will not be able to see what I have been lucky enough to. Its truly heartbreaking stuff, that makes me pissed and feel helpless at the same time.

This is the view of the Tiputini River from a hill. This is where we stayed. Beautiful.
We went on a canopy walkway. It was super fun, but there were lots of ants and sweat bees or other various insects of annoyance. A lot more here than in the understory it seems.
View from a canopy tower.
Pretty pic. Me jumping into the Tiputini! I stayed in for about an hour, just floating and being amazed at where I was!
Pic (credit to Sarah) of a tree right before a storm.

Turtle eggs were harvested to take back to the station and hatch.
On to the FOOD! Me eating lemon ants! They are very small, so there was no weird moving-in-my-mouth sensation. Just bursts of lemon! Those little black dots on my hand are the ants.
Tacos for dinner. One of the dinners I enjoyed more.
Snot grenade! I loved these! More of a novelty, the flavor isn't much.
Cuy. AKA guinea pig. Its traditional to eat in Ecuador and Peru (probably other countries as well). I thought it tasted good but the meat was oily, and not just from the frying. I would have it again though in a different preparation.
Coca tea. AKA mate de coca. Used to help alleviate altitude sickness symptoms (I was lucky I didn't have any). We stayed in Quito for a couple days and the elevation is ~9,300 feet so some were suffering. We're from an elevation of ~700 feet. Tea tastes like a cross between chamomile and green tea. I just like it.
View of the Andes from Quito.
Verdict on the food: I would have liked more traditional food at the station, but Im told most people want something they can recognize, so Im in the minority there. I love food al together, but Americanized food is bastardized. We take perfectly good cuisine from other countries and eff it up so much! Ugh. Anyway, the food there was good, but traditional is preferred. I know Im a food snob. I cant help it. Sorry.