Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mahi Mahi Tostada

So, here's the deal. Unlike my sisters and my mom, I can't cook meat. That's why I like organic chicken thighs - you basically can't dry them out. I like making pulled pork. But, it's pretty much fool-proof. Steak? ugh. I could make a filet mignon taste like a t-bone. A poorly cooked t-bone. I love pork, but I'll never make pork chops as well as Tracey. So I never try.

I think I've found an alternative protein source. Turns out, I can actually cook fish. We've been trying to eat more of it, and we are all pleasantly surprised when it turns out!

These tostadas were originally planned as tacos, but we tasted the tortillas and weren't crazy about what else is there to do with food that is a bit lack-luster? Fry it of course!

I just rubbed the fish with some salt, pepper, garlic powder, oil and a little lime juice. Then cooked it in some oil for approx 4 mins per side. I topped it with this citrus vinaigrette (doubled the amount of cilantro), cabbage w/lime and cilantro, chopped tomatoes and sour cream with minced garlic.

To fry the tortillas, just heat 1/2 inch of veg oil in a shallow pan and fry until golden on each side (a minute or two per side). Drain on paper towels.

It's a tasty meal (and you don't have to stress about the main ingredient being leathery)!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tortilla, Lager, and Black Bean Pie

We are celebrating one year of recipes... already!

It has been a fun year of trying to log some of the recipes we hope to remember. And sharing part of our family food history through those recipes. It's pretty amazing how a blog can motivate us to keep cooking so we have something to post on here! This coming year we hope to share more recipes from all of the great cooks in our family. *wink wink*

To commemorate this anniversary of sorts I figured we could use a bean recipe to celebrate. Since we all eat a lot of them. I am sure between us and our cousins we have eaten a virtual ton of our Grandpa's crazy-delicious refried beans. Beans are cheap, healthy, and let's face it—entertaining.

Growing up, Mama Rae also made those refried beans by the bucketful and would slather the tasty buggers between slices of thick wheat bread, topped with bean sprouts. As you can imagine, we got some bug eyed reactions from classmates in the lunchroom when we pulled one of those puppies out. Actually, friends were intrigued and I think I got more sandwich trades out of those than any others. I didn't know how good we had it.

I found this layered tortilla pie recipe several years ago in an edition of 'Everyday Food' by Martha herself. It's the type of recipe you have to hold on to for when you get a hankering for it. Thankfully, I was able to dig it up a few weeks back when we wanted it again, in all its cheesy glory.

It works well in a spring form pan, but I'm sure any pan would work; it just may not look so pretty. One nice feature of this recipe is that you can assemble it ahead of time and then bake it just before serving.

4 flour tortillas (10 inch)
1 T oil
1 large onion diced
1 jalapeno chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 t cumin
course salt and pepper
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces lager beer or 1.5 cups water
1 package frozen corn or 1o ounces fresh
4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
2.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream and salsa on the side if desired

Preheat oven to 400. Trim tortillas to fit a 9 inch springform pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cumin, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5-7 min.

Add beans and beer to skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, simmer until liquid has almost evaporated. This may take up to 15 min. Stir in corn and scallions, remove from heat. Add more salt and pepper.

Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan, layer with 1/4 beans and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat 3 times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20-25 min. Unmold pie and sprinkle with scallions. Slice into wedges.



Monday, January 17, 2011

And the winner was...

So...I know you're losing sleep because of the suspense.

You're just dying to know who won our Christmas Soup Simmer Competition...aren't you!!?

1. Grandpa - with his smokey, creamy split-pea?
2. Lora - with her herby chowder and garlicy oyster crackers?
3. Shawnie - with her roasted root veggies and savory sausage?
4. Tracey - with her spicy chorizo and hearty greens?
5. Momma G - with her ultra comforting clams and tomatoes?

If you know anything about our family you know there is one individual who always rises above the rest. She (sorry Gramps!) is the girl who everyone looks for at a party to make sure shes there - for two reasons; everyone loves her and everyone loves her party food. When I say everyone loves her, I mean, her friends AND my family. She's the favorite.


Think this bias played into the final decision (Gram???)?

Her soup was delicious, AND it was an original recipe. It really was no surprise that she won. She once wrote a term paper in 4 hours before it was due, and got an A (now EVERYONE knows I didn't win).

OK, one more hint. She used to complain there were always four blue eyes staring at her...

Shawnie's Savory Winter Soup was our winner! Well deserved!

Next year?

She's headed for a world of hurt. She's goin' down. I'm going in the kitchen now to practice.

Congrats, Shawnie!

She won "What's Cookin'?", a trivia style game about all things food.

I'm already looking at recipes for inspiration for my 2011 entry... let me know if you have any ideas.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Entry #5: Mama Rae's Italian Sausage Clam Chowder

This is a family favorite. Mama Rae used to make a triple batch of this unbelievably good soup for family picnics when we were small. We have dreams about it.

3 lbs ground sweet italian sausage
1/2 lb ground hot italian sausage
1 "huge"can of chopped clams from BJs (you'll have to ask her for the actual size!), reserve juice
2 large onions chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 "small" can chicken broth (see above)
2 large containers sliced mushrooms (see a pattern here?)
2 heads of garlic chopped (that one is for real!)
3-20+ oz cans of crushed tomatoes
3 cups hearty burgandy wine

Brown sausage and then add mushrooms, chop them up into meat as they cook. Add a little water or broth to prevent mixture from sticking. Once mushrooms are browned and tender remove meat mixture from pan. In same pan saute onions, garlic, and pepper, over medium heat until sweated.
In large stock pot combine both mixtures. Add cans of tomatoes and rinse contents of cans with chicken broth and empty into pot. Drain clams and set aside. Add clam juice to soup. Add 1 cup of wine and simmer soup for 25 minutes. Add another cup of swine and continue to simmer.
15 minutes before serving add clams and the last cup of wine.

Entry #4: Tracey's Chorizo and Potato Soup

Adapted from Emeril's Kale and Chorizo Soup

I added many more potatoes and much less kale than the original recipe. I like soft but hearty potatoes in my soup, and lots of them. I thought more kale than what I used made the soup too bitter and took away from the great flavor of the broth.

2 T olive oil
1 pound chorizo sliced in 1/2 inch slices, if I make this again I will use fresh chorizo
1 large onion chopped
4 large cloves garlic chopped
5 large white potatoes peeled and cute in bite sized pieces
3 quarts chicken stock
2 cups chopped kale, stemmed,
2 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt/pepper to taste
parmesan for topping

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chorizo and onions. Saute the mixture for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and kale and bring the liquid up to a boil. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim off any fat.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Entry #3: Shawnie's Savory Winter Soup

Shawnie's original recipe entered into our Christmas Soup Simmer Competition.

1 large carrot
1 large sweet potato
1 large parsnip
olive oil, salt and pepper
garlic powder
fresh rosemary
2 packages baby bella mushrooms
3 chicken and spinach sausage links
3 green onions
1 link smoked chorizo
2 cups small cooked pasta
3 quarts chicken stock

Slice carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Coat veggies with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and a dusting of garlic powder. Then sprinkle with fresh rosemary. Roast at 450 for 15 min, then flip on tray and roast for another 15 min. Set aside.

Slice mushrooms into thick chunks and saute in a bit of butter and olive oil combined until browned. Set aside.

Add about a tablespoon of olive oil into saute pan and cook chicken sausage 7-8 min on each side. Let cool and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside.

Chop 3 green onions and smoked chorizo into small bits. Set aside.

If using home made stock (see Shawnie's recipe below), then take stock out of fridge and skim the fat from the top. Place fat into a large frying pan and begin to warm. Once bubbling add 1/4 flour stirring until smooth. Add 2 cups stock, whisking until smooth and thickened. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

In separate pot warm chicken stock and add gravy to thicken and stir. Add all the roasted veggies, sausage, and onions. Heat through. Add 2 cups small cooked pasta, (tubetti, orzo, etc.) right before serving.

Chicken Stock

1 whole chicken
2 celery stalks
2 large carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
10 peppercorns
1 sprig rosemary

Put all ingredients into a large stock pot. Fill pot with cold water until it just covers the chicken. Simmer uncovered for two hours or until chicken falls off the bone. Strain out chicken and vegetables. Cool stock in the fridge.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Dinner 2010: Soup Simmer

Grandma Romero
2010 Soup Simmer Judge & Jury

As we mentioned last year, our Christmas dinners are usually made up of hearty, soul-warming foods that carry some ancestral significance. This year...we went crazy...threw out the books...threw in a dash of competitive spirit...and dusted off our crock-pots.

For Christmas 2010 - our family had an inaugural Soup Simmer. It was a competition. And it was phenomenal.

That's right. No roasted side of beast, no football field-sized lasagnas or tamales steamed to perfection (sniff). Everyone arrived, armed with a crock-pot filled with deliciousness...but... you're going to have to wait to hear who our winner was...

Although the men-folk initially found our idea for a soup cook-off a bit lack-luster, we all agreed that the result was just as satisfying and much more entertaining. And, as it turns out, our idea of a non-traditional holiday meal actually has some deep family roots. As we were swapping stories around the dinner table my Grandpa spoke about how our Little Grandma (Great Grandma Romero) always had a pot of soup simmering on the stove. Gramps says she didn't consider her children fit for exiting their home without a serving of warm soup to fuel them. So in a way, this dinner paid homage to her; a little lady, with a huge heart and a gift for making a delicious pot of something out of not much.

So, over the next few posts, we will be sharing the soups that collectively created our Christmas meal. They warmed our hearts, souls and bellies. We hope the same for you and yours!

Happy New Year, and cheers to NEW Holiday traditions!

Entry #1: Grandpa's Smokey Split Pea & Ham

1 bone-in ham
Fixings for making ham broth (see below)
1 lb dry split peas
4 diced carrots
2 cups diced ham
2 tbs fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
Non-fat Half and half

So, as my Grandpa says, if your broth is tasty - you'll have good soup.

This recipe makes amazing broth.

First step is to eat a bone-in ham. ;)
After most of the ham has been consumed (reserve 2 cups chopped) - cover the ham bone with water (about 8-10 cups) in a stock pot, and add 2 onions, 4 carrots, 3 bay leaves and 10 cloves of smashed garlic. Simmer for two hours and then skim SOME of the fat off. You need to leave some fat...that's where the flavor lives.

Strain the broth and place into a soup pot, bring to a simmer.

Add dry peas and cook until al dente.

Add sliced carrots, chopped ham, salt (sparingly), pepper and fresh dill.

When peas and carrots are desired texture, turn off heat and add 1 cup half and half.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Entry #2: Lora's New England Clam Chowder

This is actually an adaptation of Tyler Florence's New England Clam Chowder recipe.

I'm not a fan of thick chowder, so I drastically decreased his amount of flour and shhh...I used canned clams and clam juice in lieu of steaming two batches of clams. I really love this recipe though, and the parmesan oyster crackers are a new favorite snack in our house.

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Leaves from 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1 large box organic vegetable stock
  • 1 bottle clam juice
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cans chopped clams
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed well
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Parmesan Oyster Crackers, recipe follows

Heat butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon, onion, celery, garlic, and thyme and cook until the bacon renders its fat and the vegetables are good and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Dust the vegetables with flour and stir to coat everything well. Pour in the broth, clam juice and bring to a boil. Add the cream,milk and the potatoes, bring to a boil and boil hard for about 7 minutes, until the potatoes break down a little. Add the chopped clams and season with salt and pepper.

Now add the 16 clams in their shells. Cover and simmer to open the clams, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve hot, with crackers.

Parmesan Oyster Crackers

2 cups oyster crackers

2 cloves garlic minced

1/4 c olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 c shredded parm

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Toss all ingredients together and bake until golden and cripsy - 25-35 mins.

Stay tuned for the remaining entries!