Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fried Corn Tortilla Chips

So the answer to yesterday’s mystery of what we ate with the fruit salsas is… homemade fried tortilla chips! Yay! Mystery solved. I’m sure you were all surprised. I mostly just didn’t want to jam everything into one mega post and I got tired and didn’t want to blog anymore last night. That’s right! Blogging is hard work. I have to type things and copy recipes from my cookbooks and the darn things won’t always stay open. Yeesh!

Anyway, for part two of Becca’s birthday party snack posts, I went again to my fabulous Mexican cookbook by Marge Poore. This book is awesome. She breaks down menus and has tons of fabulous traditional and modern recipes to check out. Plus, I just love Mexican food, so sometimes just reading about it makes me feel good.

Fried Corn Tortilla Chips from 1000 Mexican Recipes:

Makes a bunch of chips

12 (6-7”) corn tortillas. I had 14 left in the house, so I just used all of them.
1 c. vegetable oil
½ tsp. salt (kosher), or to taste (optional)

Stack 3 tortillas on a cutting surface. With a large sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack into quarters. I cut mine into eighths because I wanted more chips.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until a wedge of tortilla starts to sizzle immediately when dipped into the hot oil. Fry the tortilla pieces on batches about 2 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. They change from lightly browned to brown quickly, so watch it. Remove with a slotted spoon on tongs (a slotted spoon is much easier to use), and drain on paper towels. I stuck my towels inside of a colander and it worked out very well. While the chips are still hot, sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired.

Be careful with the number you try to fry at once. I tried to cram as many in as possible and sometimes they stuck together. Oops. For the most part though, they came apart and I was not punished for being a bit sloppy. In any case, this is a super simple recipe, which you can also use to make crispy tortilla strips. They taste fantastic and you get to show off your homemade salsas with homemade chips. You know, until they run out and you have to open up a bag of regular tortilla chips. Next time I make nachos, I’m making these first. Yum!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fruit Salsas

Just like I did for Aaron’s birthday, I made a bunch of snack for mine. However, unlike Aaron’s birthday, I didn’t want to be cooking just before or during the party, so I needed to come up with stuff that could be made ahead of time. The first thing that came to mind was salsa. Fresh, homemade salsas are delicious and taste even better if the flavors can mingle for a bit before serving. The two recipes I have listed here are more from my big old list and from my fabulous Mexican cookbook. Breaking down a pineapple isn’t the most fun thing it the world, but the results are so worth it. Plus, it’s something fabulous to snack on while making your salsa. Okay, so maybe that’s not in the official directions, but that’s how I do it. Same with the mango.

So here we got with part 1 of snacks from my birthday party!

Mango-Avocado Salsa from 1000 Mexican Recipes:

Makes about 1½ cups

1 large mango, peeled and finely diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and finely diced
2 green onions, very finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, finely chopped
2 Tb. fresh lime juice (I didn’t actually measure this, I just used the juice from one whole small lime)
¼ tsp. salt (kosher), or to taste
A bunch of cilantro, chopped (this is my addition)

Put all of the ingredients into a medium bowl, and stir gently to mix. Serve cold. Since I prepared this about 4 hours ahead of time, I waited to add the avocado until just before serving. This was such a delicious salsa. Oh my gosh, I never wanted to stop eating it. The flavors are clear and meld perfectly. I cannot wait to try this with fish or chicken.

Pineapple Salsa from 1000 Mexican Recipes:

Makes about 2½ cups

½ fresh pineapple, about 1½ lb.
½ medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded, veins removed, and minced
1 scallion, minced (I like that in the previous recipe, which is 2 pages away from this one, they call for green onions but in this one it’s scallion)
1 Tb. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt (kosher), or to taste
2 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro (I didn’t even eyeball this, I just put in a bunch)

Cut off both ends of the pineapple and then cut off the hard thorny skin all the way around the pineapple. Cut out the “eyes.” Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise and cut out the center core from each half. Cut the pineapple in 1/2 –inch pieces and put them in a large bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours. Serve cold.

This one was also super delicious. But what did we eat the salsa with? That, my friends, is for the next post. Ooooh! Mystery. (Not really.)

Official Logo!

So for those of you who don't know (which I'm going to guess is zero since this blog is pretty much just for me, my friends and fam), my birthday was this past Sunday. I had a birthday party and made plenty of tasties, which I'll blog about later. What THIS post is about is the fancy dancy new logo thingy I have at the top of the blog now. My dear friend Bryan makes me a drawing for my birthday every year and this year he did a very pretty picture that is the above logo. I'm still working on the sizing of the digital copy for this blog, but I love it! It's so much better than that crappy picture of garlic I had from when I started this all the way back in November.

I feel so special!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Braised Turkey Legs

I love turkey. Though at Thanksgiving I tend to be more of a sides girl, I do love having just a bit of the meat. Aaron’s really into turkey legs, especially after he had one at this fair in Minnesota while we were visiting his sister. We have been looking for them off and on at grocery stores since November and finally a couple of weeks ago, we found them! So we tossed them in the freezer while trying to figure out what to do. Finally, I realized I had a recipe on my ambitious list and a few days ago, I went for it.

This is actually a fairly simple recipe and the only thing you really need to invest is time. So I sat downstairs near the oven and watched Top Model while basting every 20 minutes. What a fabulous way to spend an evening. These are super tasty and if you can find turkey legs, I say go for it! This is a half recipe and slightly modified on the gravy bit.

Brasied Turkey Legs from The 2nd Avenue Deli Cookbook:

Serves 2 with leftovers

1 Tb. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
3 turkey legs
1 c.-ish chopped onion
½ c.-ish chopped celery
Poultry chop spices to taste
Handful of flour
Chunk of butter

In a bowl, mix garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Rub turkey legs with the mixture, covering them thoroughly. Place legs on a platter and refrigerate from at least 4 hours. I did mine overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chopped onion and celery in a baking dish at least 2 inches deep and large enough to hold all of the legs. Place turkey legs on top of vegetables, add 1 inch of water, and bake for 45 minutes, basting about every 20 minutes with pan juices.

Turn legs, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, and bake for another 45 minutes (still basting occasionally), or until the legs are well browned and meat is cooked and tender. I did the full 45 and they were perfectly cooked. Remove from oven, and turn oven temperature to warm. Remove turkey legs to a platter, and strain pan juices into a saucepan. Discard celery and onion, retaining 2 cups of pan juices in the saucepan. Return turkey legs to baking dish and keep them warm in the oven while you prepare the gravy.

The original recipe had you use a browning sauce/gravy base, but I decided to just go for the gusto and make my own gravy for the very first time ever. I add some poultry seasoning to the pan juices, threw in a chunk of butter and added flour until it looked the right consistency and simmered this over low heat. I have never made gravy before, but I’ve seen my dad do it a number of times, so though I was just guessing, it seemed right. And it was! I was super impressed with myself.

Remove turkey legs from oven and spoon gravy over it. There is also a suggestion in the book that you can have them cold and though I didn’t, Aaron tried it and said that it was quite tasty, but better warm. We had ours with some fabulous mashed potatoes and green beans.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fiji Ginger Tea

It is very warm here in Portland, ladies and gents. It’s the late spring spurt before it rains a bunch and then we get summer. I’m loving it because it’s blue skies everywhere and everything looks beautiful. It also makes me overheated. This is why I am falling in love with my Polynesian cookbook. Where else but the South Pacific would I find dozens of delicious warm-weather recipes?

This drink is quite gingery and as a result, quite delicious. My friend Renai was in town this weekend and we got to share in our ginger love while hiding out indoors between outings and bike rides. It’s so easy to make and all of your ginger-loving friends will be all about it.

Fiji Ginger Tea from Sam Choy’s Polynesian Kitchen:

6 c. water
1½ c. brown or raw sugar
2½” piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced (I just used a big hunk of ginger. Do it to your taste)

Combine water, sugar, and ginger in a pot. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain and serve hot or chilled.

I vote chilled. If you refrigerate it for several hours or overnight, the ginger flavor develops quite a bit and is very pronounced. The sugar, though, is almost overwhelming. We continually watered it down to get it to the right sugar level. When I do this next time I will cut the sugar just a bit and add some more water. The general flavor though is soooo good and so perfect for summer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Roasted Halibut with Aioli

I am awesome at blogging about food. Aaron and I made this dish on Wednesday and I’m just getting to it now. I actually have been fairly busy, my friend was in town, and the weather this weekend has been gorgeous! So yeah, no time for blogging. And laziness. That too.

The point though is that this halibut dish was AWESOME! I love halibut. Like love love love. I’m Alaskan, what can I say? The problem is that it is often prohibitively expensive. However, when doing some grocery shopping we noticed that halibut had dropped from $14-15/lb. to about $8-9/lb. Uhm, yeah! So we picked up a couple of hefty halibut steaks and searched for the best way to eat them. Aaron found this recipe and I was all onboard except for the sauce. It’s cheater aioli and regular aioli is so easy to make, I just decided to do that. You can check the aioli recipe I have mentally filed away here.

Roasted Halibut with Aioli (formally Garlic Sauce) from Gourmet via

Serves 2

Halibut fillet or steak
Aioli (garlic, egg yolk, and olive oil)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

We also used:
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Make aioli.

Put fish in an oiled shallow baking dish and sprinkle with teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Spread aioli over top of fish. Cut up lemon wedges and place in dish with fish. Pierce garlic cloves in dish and sprinkle with a bit more olive oil.
Bake, uncovered, until fish is just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. The cook time will depend on how thick your fish is. The original recipe has them at 1½. Ours were quite a bit thicker and took about 15 minutes.

Serve with rice, cooked lemon wedges, roasted garlic, and fresh lemon wedges. We also had steamed broccoli. I also rocked out some quick bruschetta. This was so, so, so good! Aaron cooked this fish perfectly! My aioli rocked (duh) and it kept the halibut moist and flaky. I won’t give it all to the aioli. Aaron really did an amazing job with this. I was so impressed. The cooked lemon was perfect to spread over the fish and the bruschetta. It’s such a cool texture when it’s cooked. I wish I had more of this meal to eat now. Gaaah! Halibut!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Risotto with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

It’s so great when you set out to do something and it comes out exactly the way you wanted it to. I do have a lot of bravado when it comes to matters of the kitchen, but when attempting my first risotto, I was a little wary. As a result, I followed the recipe almost to a T, with one exception, just because I didn’t want to screw it up. And I didn’t! Oh my goodness, it was so good and although time consuming as far as prep goes and trapping me at the stove, easy enough and so worthwhile. I saved a bit a time by doing most of the prep earlier in the afternoon.

My exception to perfection in following the recipe comes from the fact that Marcella Hazen, from which I got this recipe, is so bossy! Everything is supposed to be done in a certain, particular way that there is no room for change and if you do it wrong, it’s stupid and so are you. That’s how I read it anyway. For example, for the risotto you need homemade broth, not stock like I used. It needs to be “a pale amber broth in which veal and beef predominate, with minimal amounts of chicken and bones. Pure chicken broth generates distractingly sharp flavor”, etc., etc. I used my homemade veggie stock because I don’t make meat broth and I’m not going to go near veal. So ha! My stock was just fine and everything tasted wonderful.

Risotto with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen:

For 4 persons

1½ lb. firm, ripe plum tomatoes (I used organic romas)
5 c. veggie stock
4 Tb. butter
1 Tb. oil
1/3 c. chopped onion
Salt (I used kosher)
Black pepper in a grinder
1½ c. Italian Arborio rice
½ c. freshly grated parmesan
10 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Wash the tomatoes in cold water, skin them with a peeler (she recommends not doing the blanch and peel method as you want the tomatoes to be very firm when you start cooking them), and cut them into ½” pieces. If there are very many seeds, pick out most of them with the tip of a paring knife. I cut mine in half and washed the seeds out. Sorry Marcella!

Put the stock in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot put ½ of the butter, the oil, and the chopped onion and turn on the heat to medium. When the onion becomes colored a pale gold, add the tomatoes with a little bit of salt and grindings of pepper. Cook, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir it a few times to coat it thoroughly.

Add a ladleful of stock and stir the rice constantly to wipe it away from the bottom and side of the pot. When there is no more stock, add another ladleful. Stir steadily to keep the rice from sticking at any point, adding more stock, a ladleful at a time, as required. Repeat the procedure, never ceasing stirring, until the rice is done. It should be firm but tender, without a chalky center. This took me approximately 25 minutes, with a little bit of stock leftover.

Add the remaining butter, the grated cheese, and the basil, stir for a minute or two, taste and correct for salt and pepper, and serve at once.

The only thing I would change about this recipe is the addition of garlic, but that should be obvious. I’m going to fiddle around with this, adding and creating, and see what I come up with. As Hannibal says, I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Banana Breads

I have been on a total banana kick lately. I go through phases with bananas. Sometimes I’ll buy a bunch and I’ll eat one and then rest will just sit there until they have to become either banana bread or weapons. Lately, though, I’ve just been chomping them down. I did really want to make banana bread though because of my awesome banana bread recipe, so I made myself not eat a few of them and let them turn all brown and perfect. While talking about this with Aaron, he said “Hey, you should put Oreos in the bread. That would be awesome!” Liking the idea, but hedging my bets, I decided to make two loaves, just in case the Oreo one was all weird.

It’s not. It is delicious and lovely. I love the original as well. There’s just something so nice about warm banana bread. I love taking fruit and making it bad for you. Plus, my poorly subtitled, but oh so lovely to use Settlement Cookbook gets to make another appearance in this blog. Good times all around.

Banana Bread from The Settlement Cookbook:

Makes 1 loaf

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. butter
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
2 medium ripe bananas
½ c. butter milk (I always use buttermilk power. Mix 2 Tb. of the powder in with the flour, etc. and ½ c. water with the wet ingredients.)
About 12 Oreos, crushed, if you’re going that route

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread pan.

Mix flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, mashed bananas and milk.

Slowly mix in dry ingredients. If doing the Oreo bread, add the Oreos now. When well blended, pour into bread pan, and bake for 1 hour. It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The Oreo version took a bit longer to bake, but this bread is usually perfectly done at 1 hour.

Let cool and serve. Yum!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Fried Rice and Teriyaki Chicken

The other night Aaron and I had our friends over for dinner. Earlier in the day Aaron had asked me what I wanted to make so as to run it by our friends before we went shopping and got started on the whole thing. I panicked and couldn’t think of anything, even though I was staring at my huge to-cook list. Fortunately for me, Aaron stepped in and he decided that he would cook dinner. Tasty dinner made by Aaron and I only have to do prep? Brilliant!

Aaron has done fried rice before and, as he puts it, he improvises as he goes along, so it might be a little inexact. There was some help from a few epicurious recipes, past experience, and our 1000 Chinese Recipes cookbook. The teriyaki has an actual recipe though. Initially we had the fried rice and the chicken separate, but the chicken got mixed into the leftovers, which is what you see as the final picture. I was so hungry that I didn’t even take a photo of the food before I ate it Wednesday night. It was quite tasty too! My leftovers got a bit of extra pineapple, but that’s because I’m pineapple obsessed.

Vegetable Fried Rice and Teriyaki Chicken from Aaron’s brain, 1000 Chinese Recipes, and

Serves at least 6

For the teriyaki:
1/3 c. soy sauce
2 Tb. mirin (Aaron subbed in citrus sake)
2½ Tb. cider vinegar
2 Tb. sugar
1½ Tb. chopped peeled fresh gingerroot

4 chicken breasts, roughly chopped

For the rice:
5-6 c. cooked rice (eyeballed by Aaron)
3 eggs, whisked
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
½ sweet onion, finely chopped
3 small heads of broccoli, chopped
6 pineapple rings, chopped
½-¾ c. scallions
Decent splash of soy sauce

For the teriyaki sauce, simmer sauce ingredients, stirring until sugar is dissolved, until reduced to about 1/2 cup. This simmered and reduced for forever, but didn’t quite get thick enough. We will have to try it again. It was still quite good. Strain out the gingerroot and set aside.

Heat a wok and oil over high heat. Throw in chicken and cook through, about 5 minutes or so. Set aside.

In a separate pan, cook eggs over high heat and scramble into small pieces. Set aside.

(look at how gorgeous my broccoli was!)

Heat oil in the wok again and add garlic. Cook until brown or fragrant, less than 1 minute. Add the rice and then the veggies. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning frequently. Aaron eyeballed this whole process. The more you do it, the easier it is to tell when it’s ready. Add soy sauce, cook for about 1 minute to add flavor and color. Throw in scallions and egg at last minute and toss thoroughly.

Toss chicken with teriyaki sauce. Serve rice and chicken immediately. This whole meal was super tasty and quite filling. We’ve had it for lunch a few times as well. This makes a ton and is quite the crowd pleaser.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sweet Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I think they are one of the greatest things ever invented and if it wouldn’t kill me, I’d probably eat one every day. So when I was getting down to the last of this bread, I decided to take a peek into my grilled cheese cookbook (yes, I have a grilled cheese cookbook and I’m not ashamed of it) to figure out something fun to do with it. And that’s when I came across this recipe. Originally it was made with brioche and the raspberries went into the actual sandwich. However, I think my bread was a perfect replacement and though when sliced it was not as pretty as the picture, it still tasted phenomenal. I guessed on the proportions and did everything to taste as the original recipe is for 4 sandwiches and I only needed one and didn’t feel like measuring everything out at a quarter size. You’ll get the general idea though.

PS: If you love grilled cheese sandwiches as much as I do, you should check out the book I use (by Laura Werlin). All of the recipes are so creative and use different types of cheeses and breads. Plus, the pictures are just pure food porn. Nommm!

Sweet Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich modified from Rich Raspberry Brioche from Great Grilled Cheese:

Makes one to die for sandwich

About 2 oz. of fresh goat cheese
½ Tb. sugar (the original has you use extra sugar for the bread, but as my bread was already fairly sweet, I skipped it)
About 1/8 tsp. lemon juice, but probably a bit more as I looove the flavor of lemon
Unsalted butter at room temperature to butter the bread
One large slice of raspberry and cream cheese bread, cut in half

In a small bowl, mix the cheese with the sugar and the lemon juice.

Butter the bread and place them butter side down on your work surface. Evenly spread the cheese mixture over one slice.

Heat Panini grill to medium (or use a pan over medium heat on the stove). Place in maker and close and cook until cheese is warm and bread is brown and toasted. This took maybe 4 minutes for me. If you’re using a pan on the stove, cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to soften. Uncover and turn, pressing lightly to flatten slightly. Cook for 1 minute more or until the undersides are golden brown like the tops. Turn again, press lightly and cook for 30 seconds more, or until cheese is soft and creamy.

Serve immediately and enjoy immensely.
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