Monthly Archives: August 2003

Focus on Mexico

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This week I completed my first school-wide Cultural Diversity Committee newsletter, and the focus this month was on Mexico. In that vein, I found 3 Mexican recipes to share with the faculty. Here they are:

Chilaquiles with Chicken and Cheese

Chilaquiles are tortillas cut into strips, fried, and cooked in either a red or a green sauce. Literally meaning “poor man’s food”, they were undoubtedly invented as a way of using up leftover tortillas. They have evolved into a very versatile dish, with some rather sophisticated variations. The following version uses a red sauce; however a green sauce is also very good.

Ingredients:

20 medium-size corn tortillas 1/2 cup or more vegetable oil

6 ancho chiles, seeded, deveined soaked in hot water until soft.

4 Roma tomatoes, roasted and peeled

2 large cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 medium white onion, peeled 1/2 – 1 cup chicken broth, or as needed

1 1/2 cups shredded Oaxaca, jack, gouda or Chihuahua cheese 1 chicken breast, poached and shredded

thinly sliced onion

1 cup Mexican crema, creme fraiche or sour cream

Preparation:

Cut the tortillas into strips or wedges. In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add the tortilla strips, and fry until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Place the softened chiles, tomatoes, garlic and onion in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into the same saucepan used to fry the tortillas, bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook for about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Place the tortilla strips in the hot sauce, add the chicken broth and cook until most of the sauce has been absorbed.

Distribute the shredded cheese and chicken over the chilaquiles. Garnish with onion rings and serve with crema, creme fraiche or sour cream .

Serves 6-8.

Nopales in Chipotle Sauce

Nopales are cactus paddles. You can buy them at Mexican markets with the spines removed. Chipotle peppers in adobo can also be found in most groceries. If you do not like a lot of spices, then start out with one or even one half of a chipotle pepper. They are very spicy. Freeze the remainder of the peppers for another day!

The mild flavor of nopales makes them ideal for combining with more strongly-flavored ingredients, such as chipotles in adobo. This recipe, from San Luis Potosí, is a quick, easy and flavorful vegetarian dish.

Ingredients:

2 pounds nopal paddles, cleaned and diced

1 pound tomatillos, husked and roasted on a dry griddle or comal 1/2 medium white onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 canned or homemade chipotles in adobo sauce

1/2 large white onion, peeled and chopped.

1 tablespoon corn oil

salt to taste

Preparation:

Place the nopales in a large pot with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place the tomatillos, garlic and chipotles in a blender and puree.

In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in the oil until the onion is transparent. Add the puree and the nopales, stir and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot with white rice, beans and plenty of warm tortillas for making tacos.

Serves 6.

Dulce de Leche (Crock Pot Recipe)

Food writer Victoria Abbot Riccardi described dulce de leche, a Latin American confection, in the Boston Globe: “Like toffee, butterscotch, and honey all rolled into one, this thick tawny ambrosia consists of whole milk, sugar, and vanilla slowly cooked into a sticky jam.”

Although you can eat the cooled mixture right out of the insert, I suggest you pour it over ice cream, fruit, or cake, or mix it into coffee.

This recipe is from Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody.

Yield: about 2 cups

Cooking Time: about 10 hours on HIGH

Slow Cooker Size: 4 quart

Ingredients:

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

4 cups whole milk

1-2/3 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

Large pinch baking soda

Place the vanilla bean, 3 cups of milk, sugar, water, and baking soda into the insert of the slow cooker, and whisk them together. Cook on HIGH, for 9 hours, uncovered, then remove the vanilla bean and whisk the milk mixture gently. Use a dull-edged butter knife to carefully scrape down the crust of sugar that accumulates on the sides of the insert. Do not skim the foam off the top of the mixture.

Continue cooking for 1 more hour, stirring every 20 minutes, until it is a rich medium-caramel color and has thickened to the consistency of melted ice cream. In the meantime, warm the remaining 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan. Turn off the slow cooker, and stir in the warm milk. (This will prevent the dulce de leche from hardening while refrigerated.) Carefully remove the insert. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, then spoon and scrape it into a small metal bowl. Cover and cool to room temperature. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cools. Refrigerate it in a tightly covered container for up to 3 months.

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Here are some family recipes. I actually typed th…

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Here are some family recipes. I actually typed them yesterday, but they got somehow deleted – this still can be a tricky program!

Nore’s Pasta Salad

2/3 box of medium pasta shells, cooked
4 eggs, boiled and chopped
2 cans of tuna
1/2 large can of black olives, sliced
1 can of artichoke hearts
1/2 bottle of roasted red bell peppers
1/2 bottle of French dressing

Boil eggs and pasta. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and combine with your hands! Chill in the refrigerator before serving.

Margarita’s Quiche

2 deep dish pie crusts
6 large eggs
8 oz. Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 small can green chiles
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup filling for each pie shell*

Prebake pie crusts for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. In the bottom of the crust, place filling of your choice (cooked bacon, ham, sausage and or mushrooms, peppers, onions). Put the rest of the ingredients into a blender (chop the cheese into chunks), and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture into pie crust, and dot with butter or margarine. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

I got this recipe from my copy of a family cookbook published for the family by my aunt. I can’t find the copy of the Talk About Good cookbook that has what seems to me to be a different version of the recipe. I’ll try this one, and see how it does.

A Taste of Spain

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Tonight, my husband and I are supposed to meet a friend at a restaurant called La Fonda Latina. There are several here in Atlanta, and they serve some basic Cuban/Mexican fare. One of my favorite dishes – and what we will probably order tonight – is Paella. Theirs is not a fussy paella, but they do have two kinds: regular and seafood.

The first time I remember having paella was in the best place: Spain. That was in 1985, I think. I really loved it, and had it every chance I got while I was there. Last year, for my 40th birthday (I just turned 41 two days ago…), my mother and friends gave me a party, and my mother prepared a paella recipe from Cooking Light magazine. To make it, she had to borrow the paella pan given to me on another occasion, which I have yet to use myself! I am determined to do so this year! Here is the recipe she used, I think:

Seafood Paella

INGREDIENTS:

Broth:
3 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice

Herb Blend:
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 large garlic cloves, minced

Paella:
1 pound monkfish or other firm white fish fillets
16 unpeeled jumbo shrimp (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1 cup frozen green peas
16 littleneck clams
1 (7-ounce) jar sliced pimento, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

To prepare broth, combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

To prepare herb blend, combine parsley and next 4 ingredients (parsley through 2 garlic cloves); set aside.

To prepare paella, trim connective tissue from monkfish; cut into 1-inch pieces. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large paella pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and shrimp; saute 1 minute (the seafood mixture will not be cooked through).Remove seafood mixture from pan, and keep warm. Add onion and bell pepper to pan, and saute 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paprika, crushed red pepper, and 3 garlic cloves; cook 5 minutes. Add rice, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, herb blend, and peas. Bring to a low boil, and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add clams to pan, nestling them into rice mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until shells open; discard any unopened shells. Stir in the seafood mixture, and arrange shrimp, heads down, in rice mixture. Arrange pimento slices spokelike on top of rice mixture; cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Remove from heat; cover with a towel and let stand 10 minutes.

YIELD: 8 servings (serving size: 1-3/4 cups paella, 2 shrimp, and 2 clams) Calories: 445

I believe that she used mussels, too, since we were trying out these frozen mussels we found at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. I think that they didn’t all open. We’ll use fresh next time! Margaritas were served, mixed expertly by my bestest friend with the expensive tequila, and we had lovely desserts prepared by my favorite French bakery in Marietta called Douceur de France. They were raspberry mousee cakes with charlotte fingers around them, and my mother in law paid for them. My husband picked them up, after having to return home for a check after he was informed that credit cards were not accepted. It was a great party, with my best friend and a college friend flying in for the occasion – yes, I was surprised!

If you are interested in paella, and in Spanish food, check out this page on Martha Stewart.com, where many Spanish recipes, including Paella for 45 people (Leave it to Martha to overdo!) are to be found. I am contemplating that my next party might be paella, because August’s Martha Stewart Magazine had a yummy-looking recipe for sangria made with peaches. Check it out:

Prosecco Sangria

In a pitcher, combine 1 peach, 1 nectarine, and 3 apricots, all pitted and cut into wedges. Stir in 5 ounces peach brandy; let sit at least 1 hour. Stir in 1 750-ml bottle chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and 1 cup peach nectar. Add superfine sugar, if desired. Serve chilled. Makes about 2 quarts

Doesn’t that sound super?!! I might substitute cava for the prosecco, since it is a Spanish meal, but I think that the bubbles are lighter in prosecco… There are two recipes on her site, but your are going to have to wait a while until they post the recipes from this month’s issue. I love this variety, because I am not too fond of the traditional apple and grape garnished sangria – although I will drink it in a pinch! 😉

As you can see, I am in planning mode! For dessert? Flan, of course! I could serve some olives, manchego cheese slices, sausages, and other tapas – like treats for appetizers, and a salad for the terminally healthy! Okay, when’s the party?!

Cocktails, anyone?

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I have really not been cooking lately – need to fix that! One note, though – I thawed out a “TV dinner” that I had made from salmon I had cooked with artichokes, bell peppers, onions, olives, and capers, along with half a potato. It was not horrible, but apparently this combination does not freeze well. For one thing, the salmon overcooks when you re-heat it in the microwave, and, for the other thing, the potato turns to a strange, crystallized, mush. The veggies were fine, though! It will soon be time to bake salmon again, and I will share the recipe then!

At the moment, I seem to be into cocktails – or the idea of cocktails, anyway. I did not buy duty-free liquor at the airport, because I didn’t feel like the prices were that good, and didn’t want to carry it home. But, in the mood for a margarita last night, I found myself with no tequila. I searched my neck of the woods for a liquor store, and, after an hour (you read that right!) I found a Tower Liquor. They have a great selection of liquor, including Latin American kinds, so I indulged myself. Here are some of the things I plan to make – but not all tonight!

Midori Margarita

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Tequila

1/2 oz Triple sec or other orange liqueur

1 oz fresh Lime juice

1/2 oz Midori melon liqueur

Salt

Mixing instructions:

Moisten rim of cocktail glass with lime juice and dip in salt. Shake ingredients together, and pour into glass filled with crushed ice. Option: Mix above ingredients with one cup of ice in blender for a smooth, “granita” type drink.

Note: I made mine with Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, instead of lime juice, and squeezed two 1/8ths of lime into the drink. I also do not care for salt. I bought a different orange liqueur this time, called Citronge. It’s made by Patron, a tequila distillery. I noticed that, while Grand Marnier and Cointreau are available in Mexico, more often than not a knock off brand called Controy is used. At $19.99 for a liter, I decided to try the Citronge!

Caipirinha (from Maria-Brazil.com

1 lime

2 ounces of cachaca

Sugar to taste

Ice cubes

Wash the lime and roll it on the board to loosen the juices. Cut the lime into pieces and place them in a glass. Sprinkle with the sugar and crush the pieces (pulp side up) with a pestle. (We have a long, wooden one from Brazil, made specifically for this purpose.) Just enough to release the juice, otherwise it’ll get bitter. Add the cachaca and stir to mix. Add the ice and stir again. It is delicious and potent!

This, from BolsCocktails.com:”The most famous Brazilian cocktail, a caipirinha in Brazil is usually made using the Brazilian “limon subtiel” – a confusingly green-skinned lemon! Many people prefer the taste of caipirinhas made with muddled lemons to those made with muddled limes. The sugar usually used in Brazil is regular white sugar, although brown sugar is an option. The final drink may be stirred to mix the ingredients, or short-shaken one time. A caipirinha made with vodka instead of cachaca is called a Caipirovska, and one made with rum instead of cachaca is called a Caipirissima. The Caipirinha is the original form of this cocktail.”

I first had a caipirinha in Paris, at a Brazilian restaurant we went to because it was the only one open on a Sunday afternoon. Then, I had one (okay, more than one…) at Fogo de Chao when I was brought there for my birthday. I have searched for cachaca everywhere, and then, when I found it, searched for reasonably priced cachaca! I finally splurged on it last night – it was $17.99. And, let me tell you… this drink rocks!

The Pisco Sour

2 oz. Pisco Brandy

1 oz. Lime Juice

½ oz. Simple Syrup or 1½ teaspoons of superfine sugar

½ teaspoon of egg white

Combine the ingredients in a shaker, and shake vigorously with freshly made ice for about four minutes. Pour into a sour glass. (This essentially looks like a white wine glass with the stem shortened nearly to the base.) Add 2-3 dashes Angostura or Amargo bitters and allow them a moment to seep into the drink proper. Garnish with a lime or a mint sprig.

I think I still have some Chilean Pisco left from our trip 3 years ago – waste not, want not!

Kir Royale

6 ounces champagne

1/2 ounce creme de cassis

Lemon twist

Pour the champagne and cassis into a champagne flute. Stir. Garnish with lemon twist. Serves 1.

If you just use white wine, it’s called a kir. I have yet to find a recipe on the Internet for it, but I also had kir aux mures when I was in France. For this, you just use blackberry brandy instead of cassis. I broke down and bought some Bols Blackberry Liqueur, for variety.

I also purchased some kirschwasser, to be used in clafoutis, and possible a Black Forest Cake!

I love pizza

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I love pizza. In particular, I love Pizza Hut Meatlover’s Pan Pizza, and can eat half a pizza in one sitting (ahem, in moments of extreme stress, or PMS!). If I have the ingredients to make my own pizza on hand, I can often satisfy myself with fewer calories.

I usually keep these products in my pantry and refrigerator:

Kontos Flatbread – it’s the best! And it keeps for over a month in the fridge

A jar of Pasta Sauce – Muir Glen and Classico are my favorites, and they are also have long fridge life!

A package of Hormel Sliced Turkey Pepperoni

Shredded Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese and Grated Parmesan/Romano Cheese.

Lower Fat Turkey Pepperoni Individual Pizza

Pre-heat oven to 450°F. Spoon 2 tablespoons of Pasta sauce over the top of the Pita and spread almost to the edges. Lay out your pepperoni slices on top of the sauce (or, if you prefer, you can put then on top of the cheese. Sprinkle about 1/4-cup of mozzarella cheese over the sauce and pepperoni, adding some Parmesan on top if you want. I also like to add some herbs, such as Herbes de Provence or basil, oregano, and parsley. Place on a cookie sheet and put in oven for about 5 – 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven and slice into four slices. Serve hot. Add more Parmesan – my husband like red pepper flakes.

Individual Veggie Pizza

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Mix any combination of fresh vegetables (I like to stick to peppers, onions, canned artichokes, black or green olives, eggplant – Italian veggies!). I would saute the peppers and onions first, if you don’t want your veggies too crunchy. Use about 1/2-cup of vegetables per Pita. Spread vegetables over the top. Add some shredded Part Skim Mozzarella and Parmesan/Romano Cheeses. Place on a cookie sheet and put in oven for 10-12 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven and slice into four wedges. Serve hot.

Have fun making your own!

I have not been really cooking for a while, but th…

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I have not been really cooking for a while, but thought I would share some thoughts on a cookbook that I actually use. It’s called The Cake Mix Doctor. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a book that helps you make cakes from regular cake mixes, with a little “doctoring.” I used to do a bit of this myself, as I am a person who is loathe to use a recipe, much less the same recipe more than once! I have made quite a few cakes from this book, including the Tennessee Jam Cake, which is a spice cake mix with buttermilk added, and a little tricky caramel icing, with blackberry jam between the layers. I love it! I could not find a copied recipe for it on the Internet, but here is one that is similar – and it’s from Tennessee! I also love the Snickerdoodle Cake, which starts with a white cake mix and uses cinnamon and a cinnamon buttercream icing.

Now, I have also purchased The Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor, but haven’t tried the recipes yet, because I have been on a diet this summer!. While looking for recipes to share with you, I came across The Cake Mix Doctor.com, which does share some recipes, and even offers a monthly newsletter. Check it out!

Here’s one recipe I tried, and found on another website, which has some recipes from the Cake Doctor. It’s called:

Pumpkin Pie Crumble Cake

“This dessert is much like a pie in that it has a cinnamon-enhanced pumpkin filling, but much like a cake with a soft crust. And the crunchy topping is the best of both worlds. Don’t be concerned that 1 cup of the cake mix is reserved for the topping. The filling bakes up firm and creamy without it.”

Serves: 18 to 20

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 70 to 75 minutes

Assembly time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pan

Flour for dusting the pan

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter or margarine, at room temperature

4 large eggs

2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin

1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, chilled

1 cup chopped pecans

2 recipes Sweetened Cream (page 432)

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

2. Measure out 1 cup of the cake mix and reserve for the topping. Place the remaining cake mix, the butter, and 1 egg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 1 minute. Using your fingertips, press the batter over the bottom of the prepared pan so that it reaches the sides of the pan. Set the pan aside.

3. For the filling, place the pumpkin, evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, remaining 3 eggs, and cinnamon in the same large mixing bowl used to prepare the batter and with the same beaters (no need to clean either), blend on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture lightens in color and texture, 1 to 2 minutes more. Pour the filling over the crust in the pan, spreading to the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. Set the pan aside.

4. For the topping, place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the chilled butter, and the reserved cake mix in a clean medium-size mixing bowl. Rinse and dry the beaters. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined and crumbly, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stop the machine and stir in the pecans. Use your fingers to thoroughly knead the pecans into the topping mixture. Distribute the topping evenly over the filling mixture. Place the pan in the oven.

5. Bake the cake until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the pan and the pecans on top have browned, 70 to 75 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly on a wire rack, 20 minutes.

6. Prepare two recipes of the Sweetened Cream. Slice the cake into squares and pass the Sweetened Cream to spoon on top.

* Store this cake without the Sweetened Cream on it, covered in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

More recipes can be found at The Good Morning America website and in an interview at Pink Sunrise.com.

Last spring, I got this hot idea for making cakes as gifts. I went to Micael’s and Walmart (they are also available at JoAnn’s) and purchased 4 Wilton cake pans in 6″ size (either 5″ or 6″), a package of round cardboard cake board (slightly larger, maybe 8″), and some doilies, and started making smaller cakes. It was a lot of fun. I followed the directions on the Wilton cake pans, and was able to get two separate two layer cakes from one recipe! I made a little more icing, as I tend to ice thickly. As I said, they make great thank you gifts, and they will serve 12 slices, if you slice it right – I like to get at least 8 slices out of them.