Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pork Carnitas

I’m sorry if I’ve bored you with the last few postings, I know that salsa’s and chips aren’t too exciting, even to the novice cook. I was actually just trying to get those out of the way to post this yummy recipe. I love pork carnitas and this is the easiest recipe ever. True pork carnitas is pork fried in fat the entire time and I just couldn’t get into that as it really grosses me out a bit thinking about cooking meat in fat for a couple hours.
A friend from work made this and recommended it to me because it was such a good recipes, and I had seen versions of this before but never tried it out, but will put it in my top 10 favorite Mexican recipes for future use. Oh, can I also tell you how amazing the house smells while this cooks? Definitely need a little snack to tie you over until the meat is done!

Pork Carnitas

4 Pounds Country Boneless Country Ribs, or Butt Roast
6 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Orange, zested and juiced
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Quart Chicken Stock
¼ Cup Brandy

Trim large pieces of fat from the ribs, and reserve. In a large heavy dutch oven or 12 inch deep skillet add the pork, fat, garlic, orange zest and juice, ground cumin, salt and enough chicken stock to just cover the meat. Cover pot with lid and bring to a low simmer, cover and cook until meat is very tender, about 2 hours.
Uncover, turn heat up to medium and boil until liquid is reduced by half, add the brandy and continue cooking stirring often, until liquid evaporates and the meat starts to get browned and crispy, about 15 minutes.
Let cool slightly remove any large pieces of fat, and shred with a fork, should be very easy to shred at this time, and serve on tortillas with salsa. I served mine with a pico de gallo and the Avocado & Tomatillo Salsa.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa

I saw this recipe online and had to make it, as I am such a huge salsa fan. The flavor is bright, tangy, and almost refreshing. I don’t use tomatillos very often, but when I do I always enjoy them. This recipe went perfectly with my pork tacos that I made this week, don’t worry that recipe will be up very soon! I think next time I make it I might add a bit of sour cream to make the texture a little more creamy. Also, this recipe makes a pretty large batch, so you may want to cut it in half.

Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa

3 Avocados, peeled and chopped
8 Ounces Fresh Tomatillos, husked, rinsed and chopped
2 Serrano Pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped

Place the tomatillos, Serrano peppers, onion, and cilantro in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely minced. Add the avocados and pulse until the texture is to your liking, I left mine a little bit chunky.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pico de Gallo

This is the good old basic salsa recipe. I love the fresh flavor and the ease of this recipe. If you are not a huge cilantro fan you can use flat leaf parsley instead. You can also add many other ingredients to mix this recipe up a bit, such as roasted corn, black beans, cucumber, jicima, or any fresh hers you like. I made two bowls of this salsa this week and had it with chips for lunch, it’s just so good.

Pico de Gallo

4 Tomatoes, diced
½ Yellow Onion, finely minced
1 Serrano Pepper , seeds removed and finely minced(or jalapeno if you don’t like your salsa hot)
Handful Cilantro, chopped
½ Teaspoon Salt

Mix all ingredients well and let sit for a few minutes for all the flavors to mingle.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Almost Guilt Free Chips

Do you ever have a craving for chips? I think I do on a daily basis, but try not to have them on hand because they would be gone within minutes. I also love chips and salsa, It’s one of my favorite snacks, and I could eat them every day of the week. When I plan on making salsa, I love to make these oven baked chips, because they are so much healthier that fried corn chips. The texture is similar to a regular chip, just a bit tougher, but I personally like the extra bit of crunch it adds.

Almost Guilt Free Chips

6 Corn Tortillas
Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
Kosher Salt

Cut tortillas into the size of chips you like, and lay on a baking sheet in a single layer. Spray the chips liberally with the cooking spray then sprinkle with salt. Bake at 500 degrees until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Make sure to watch them carefully because they do burn really easily. Enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

I love pumpkin anything…pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin…I think you get the idea. I had a couple friends over for dinner last week and wanted to do something fall-esque for dessert and though that a pumpkin crème brulee would be perfect, and it was. Crème brulee is one of my all time favorite desserts and the addition of pumpkin was amazing. I gobbled mine down quickly and finished another for breakfast in the morning. I think that I might have to make these only once a year because they are way too tempting sitting in the fridge. They are really creamy, not too sweat, and the caramelized sugar on top is the perfect complement to the rich pumpkin flavor.

Pumpkin Crème Brulee

2 Cups Heavy Cream
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Sugar
8 Egg Yolks
½ Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
¼ Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Cup Pumpkin

In a saucepan combine the cream, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Bring to just a simmer over medium high heat, stirring constantly to keep the cream from burning. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks until frothy. Add 1 cup of the hot cream, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Add the rest of the cream mixture to the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh or cheesecloth into a clean bowl. (I used my large Pyrex measuring dish with a spout so I could pour it into the ramekins easily).

Pour mixture into 6 ½-cup ramekins and place in a 9x12 inch pan, pour enough boiling water into the dish to come half way up the ramekins. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven until custard is just set, in the center, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from water bath and chill for at least 3 hours, to overnight.

To serve sprinkle each custard with ½ teaspoon granulated sugar and caramelize with a torch, or place under a broiler and watch carefully as sugar caramelizes quickly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Coq Au Vin & Rosemary Polenta

I have seen this recipe made many times and have been dying to try it out. I have never had Coq Au Vin before, but knew it would be delicious because of the list of ingredients. I got this recipe from Tyler Florence from the Food Network. This turned out to be pure perfection! There is such a depth of flavor, and even though there are a lot of ingredients in the recipe, it’s quite easy to make. I served my version over a bed of rosemary polenta, which went perfectly with this rich hearty dish.
To make this dish more over the top than it already is I used the freshest just picked Oregon Chantrelle mushrooms, they were pure heaven, and so full of flavor and texture!

Coq Au Vin

6 slices bacon
2 chicken breasts 2 thighs 2 legs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt Pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups pearl onions, peeled
2 cups mushrooms
2 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cognac or brandy
1 bottle Burgundy wine
2 cups chicken broth
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
3 bay leaves Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

In a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Coat chicken pieces in flour, salt and pepper. Brown chicken in hot bacon fat on both sides.
Add garlic, onions, mushrooms and carrots. Saute 2 minutes to soften. Pour cognac into a small glass. Remove pan from heat, pour in cognac, Flambe by lighting a long match and holding it just above the pot, light the fumes. The brandy will catch fire and the flames will burn out within 1 minute. When the flames die down, return the pan to the heat and gradually stir in the wine and broth. When the wine is well blended, add the herbs. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer for 15 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce a bit. You may want to add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste or cornstarch to aid in the thickening process.
To serve, top the chicken and vegetables with reserved crumbled bacon and fresh parsley.

Rosemary Polenta

1 ½ Cups Water
2 Cups Cream
4 Springs Rosemary
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Instant Polenta
¼ Cup Butter
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese

In a large sauce pan add the water, cream, rosemary, and salt, bring to a simmer and turn down heat to the lowest setting and steep the rosemary for about 20 minutes, then remove. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the polenta, turn down to low and cook for about 5 minutes or until polenta is cooked through. Add butter and parmesan cheese, stir to combine.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Endive with Apple & Honey

I was trying to think of an easy appetizer to go with dinner this week and this came to mind. It’s such a simple recipe that can be thrown together in minutes and has intense delicious flavor. I love the combination of blue cheese and apple, which is such a classic pairing. I usually do this with a crostini, but didn’t want to bother with slicing and browning bread, so substituted endive instead. I love the crunch the endive added to the dish, and it cut out a lot of calories and prep time.

Endive with Apple & Honey

2 Endives
4 Ounces Blue Cheese (I used a really pungent gorgonzola)
1 Sweet Red Apple, cut into thin slices

Trim ends off the endive and separate the leaves. Fill each leaf with a little blue cheese, and then press the apple slice into the blue cheese to hold it in place. Drizzle with a little honey, and serve.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

I am still lucky to have some left over tomatoes and decided to make a version of Pam’s roasted tomato sauce that I saw on her blog a few weeks ago. Can I just tell you how amazing this sauce smelled while roasting in the oven, and then even more amazing reducing on the stove top! I used small tomatoes, that hardly had any seeds in them, so I didn’t go to the trouble of taking the seeds out, but I did remove the skins since they were a little tough. This sauce is so good on its own, and would also be great on pizza, or with some sausage or hamburger added to make it a bit more hearty. I am actually making another batch tomorrow with the rest of my tomatoes!Thanks for this delicious recipe Pam!

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

14 Tomatoes
1 Sweet Onion
Dried Thyme
Dried Oregano
Salt & Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves Garlic

Start by removing the skin from the tomatoes-Cut an x in the skin at the bottom point of the tomato and then place in boiling water for about 15 seconds, then place in an ice bath to cool, skin will easily pull away from tomato, continue until all tomatoes are peeled.
Cut out stem and quarter tomatoes, place on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, add onion and sprinkle generously with the thyme, oregano, salt & pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Place in a 350 degree oven for one hour, or until tomatoes are lightly wilted and onions are lightly golden.
Process in batches in a blender or food processor until sauce is fairly smooth, pour into a large sauce pan. Add garlic an additional tablespoon thyme and oregano (or more/less to taste). Bring to a light simmer and let cook until nice and thick, about 1-1 ½ hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and a little bit of sugar if too acidic.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Flour Tortillas

Growing up I always loved going to my aunt Sheila’s house because she made delicious homemade flour tortillas. They were soft, flavorful, and fresh off the stove, much better than you could buy in the grocery store. She didn’t use a recipe, so I was never able to re-create her masterpiece. Luckily my cousin December has come up with a recipe, so I can finally make fresh tortillas too.

Flour Tortillas

3 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
¼ Cup, plus 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Shortening
1 1/8 Cups Warm Water

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour baking powder and salt. With a fork cut in the shortening until well incorporated. Add the water and continue to mix with a fork until the dough comes together, lightly knead the dough incorporating enough flour to form a soft, barely sticky dough. You will have extra flour, so don’t overwork the dough and make it tough. Divide the dough into 2 inch rounds, cover with a towel and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Lightly flour a board and roll out the tortillas to about 1/8 inch thick. Cook tortillas in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until lightly browned on each side, about 1 minute. Keep wrapped in a towel while cooking other tortillas to keep warm.
Makes about 8-10 tortillas.

I used a seasoned hamburger and my yummy tomato cucumber salsa to make tacos. I can’t really call this a recipe, but here is how I make the meat. Fry one pound of hamburger until browned, drain fat. Add one 15 ounce can tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens and serve.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Olive Oil & Herb Tomatoes

I am still using up the remaining tomatoes from my garden and decided to make my version of sundried tomatoes. I absolutely love a good sundried tomato, and this is a great recipe. I use these tomatoes in pasta, on pizza, or to make a yummy sundried tomato pesto. If you have seen the price of good pre-packaged sundried tomatoes, you will realize that its much about the same price as making your own, but these are much better. Also, make sure to use the oil, it will have a delicious herby/tomato flavor after a few days, and make a really delicious bread dip.

Olive Oil & Herb Tomatoes

Tomatoes (I prefer smaller tomatoes as they are much sweeter and have less seeds).
Dried Oregano
Dried Rosemary
Dried Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut tomatoes into ¼ inch-thick slices and lay in a single layer on cookie sheet. Next sprinkle tomatoes with the oregano, rosemary, thyme, and salt & pepper, don’t be shy with the herbs!
Bake until tomatoes are dried through, and almost crisp on the edge, about 3-4 hours. Remove from oven and cool completely.
Next layer tomatoes into a clean container and then pour enough olive oil to just cover top layer of tomatoes, seal tightly and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Here is how your tomatoes will look when they are done, much smaller and the skin will be a bit crinkly.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Irish Cream

My co-worker Val makes the best homemade Irish Cream and there is nothing better than having a splash of it in your coffee in the morning on your day off. This recipe is really easy to make and is a great gift to give. It’s quick recipe and makes about 1 liter. I also like to drink it over ice on its own for an after dinner treat. Cheers!

Irish Cream

1 ¾ Cups Brandy
1 Can Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Cup Fat Free Half & Half
1 Cup Egg Beaters
2 Tablespoons Hershey’s Syrup
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Teaspoons Instant Coffee
½ Teaspoon Almond Extract

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk and store in an air tight container for up to two weeks.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tomato & Cucumber Salsa

I just harvested about a million tomatoes from my garden the other day, and thought I could use some of them in a salsa. I should have a better game plan for my tomatoes, because every fall they all ripen at the same time and I am scrambling to use them all! One of my favorite things is a fresh salsa, and you can’t beat the flavor a fresh garden tomato. I also have several cucumbers and decided to throw that into the salsa for a bit of texture and flavor, it was really good.

Tomato & Cucumber Salsa

6 Tomatoes, Diced small
1 Cucumber, peeled and seeded, chopped small
½ Sweet Onion, diced
½ Bunch Cilantro, chopped
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeds removed and diced
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, add more salt if necessary. Let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to mingle together. If you like a spicier salsa, don’t remove the seeds from the peppers. Serve with corn chips! I also add a lot of fresh herbs to my salsa to add more flavor, like oregano, thyme, or parsley. Enjoy!