Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew

I am still not entirely clear on the difference between a stew and a soup, but stew sounds more appetizing and hearty so that is what I am calling this.

The stew is filling and savory. Roasting the red pepper is totally worth the extra time, their flavor is fantastic.

Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Stew
4 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
1 onion
1 lb carrots, chopped
2 16 oz bags red lentils
3 T chopped garlic
2-4 T hungarian smoked paprika
2 t cumin
2 t coriander
1 t cayenne pepper
1 1/2 T salt
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
8 cups or more water

Cut the bell peppers in half and clean them out (take out the seeds). Lay them, cut side down, on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Roast in the oven on the top rack on the broil setting for 5-10 minutes until the skin of the peppers has blackened. Place the peppers immediately into a bag and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile saute the onion on medium high heat with a little oil for about 7 minutes or until slightly browned and translucent.

Put chopped carrots, lentils, spices, chicken stock, and water into a large pot and bring to a boil.

While waiting for the lentils to boil skin the now cooled bell peppers and chop them up. Add the peppers and the onion to the stew and simmer over medium-low heat until the lentils are tender and mushy (about 20-30 minutes).

Serves 10-14

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fucking Awesome Spinach Queso Enchiladas

These enchiladas are second only to the queso enchiladas at traditional hole-in-the-wall mexican restaurants. Below is the recipe:

1/2 bag fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, chopped finely
8 oz quesadilla queso, grated (keep out a couple ounces for garnish)
4 oz goat cheese
1 tbl brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
a little oil

Enchilada Sauce:
1 7oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 tbl brown sugar
1/2 cup or more water

13 corn tortillas

Saute onion on medium high for about 7 minutes, adding the brown sugar, salt and pepper at about minute 4. Throw in spinach for a minute or so; just enough to begin wilting it. Pour onion and spinach mixture into a bowl and mix the grated cheese and goat cheese in. While onions are sauteing put enchilada sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium/low heat until heated through.

Cook tortillas in a skillet over medium heat for about 30 seconds on each side.

Put about 2 tablespoons of filling in each tortilla and place in a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes then pour the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes then let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

Rolling back in from vacation I didn't have a lot of food in the house but I did have most of the ingredients to put together a shepherd's pie casserole type dish. This is both hearty and healthy as well as yummy. The peas, carrots, onions, green pepper, and mushrooms give it a lot of pretty color and flavor and the ground turkey with gravy holds everything together. Of course the mashed potatoes on top really help to fill you up too. I added in cheese and horseradish to them for a little extra zing. This is kind of time consuming to put together because of all the chopping but if you do that in advance you can have this on the table in about an hour. 

Shepherd's Pie
10 oz or more Frozen Peas
6-7 Carrots sliced thin
1 1/2 Onions diced
2-3 tablespoons minced Garlic divided
1 Green Bell Pepper diced
8 oz. fresh Portabella Mushrooms diced 
1 Gravy packet or 2 tablespoons Flour
1 1/2 cups (about) Beef Broth
1 lb Ground Turkey
7 red Potatoes diced
2 teaspoons Horseradish
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/2 - 3/4 cup Milk
2 tablespoons Butter
lots of fresh ground Pepper

In a large pot of salted water bring potatoes to boil and cook until just tender.
Right before mixing
Drain and mash the potatoes with the butter, sour cream, horseradish, and milk until creamy then add in the cheese and one tablespoon garlic and mix. Set aside.

In a large skillet in some olive oil saute onions, mushrooms, two tablespoons garlic, and bell pepper until onions start to become translucent and caramelize - season with salt and pepper.
Onions and peppers before they have been cooked
Add in the ground turkey and cook until browned then sprinkle on the gravy packet or the flour and mix around until everything is coated then slowly pour in the beef broth and bring to a slow boil to thicken.
Gravy, yum!
Mix in the peas and carrots.

Pour into a 13x9 inch pan and top with the mashed potatoes.

Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes or so before eating.

Serves 8 or more.

Ice Cream Social

Caramel Ice Cream!
My friend and I decided to have an ice cream social on Memorial day and make homemade ice cream. We sat down and picked out some tasty looking recipes and I went out and purchased an ice cream maker and she got the ingredient; then we went to town. The major lesson I learned is that ice cream making is time consuming if you are making multiple batches because the freezer part of the mixer has to be frozen in between every batch, which takes several hours. Also each recipe, after being made, has to be chilled before being put into the ice cream mixer - this also takes several hours. Bottom line, if you are making several ice creams start several days in advance.

My friend sampling the strawberries
Fortunately we started the process on Saturday night so all was well. The first night we made the coffee and caramel recipes and put them in the refrigerator to chill. Then on Sunday we began churning; starting with the coffee ice cream, which firmed up beautifully. Then, while the mixer was refreezing, we made the strawberry daiquiri ice cream recipe and put it in the fridge to chill. That afternoon we froze the caramel ice cream but it didn't firm up as nicely as the coffee ice cream, so after a while I just took it out and put it in the freezer anyway to continue freezing. That worked out pretty well but the ice cream is still on the softer side (but totally delicious).

Sunday evening we went to bike prom, which was awesome! (Pictures here: Beached Miami.) Once we were back from a wonderful night of biking and dancing - we biked around Miami with a sound system attached to a bike stopping periodically to break out into dance - I put the strawberry ice cream in the ice cream maker and froze it until it was the consistency of soft-serve then spooned in into containers and put it in the freezer to continue hardening.

Monday afternoon arrived and all our guests began to enjoy the ice creams! Definitely a solid hit and worth the effort to make! Also, a lot of fun.

My personal favorite in terms of flavor was the caramel ice cream - it was exactly the way caramel should be. The coffee was a close second in terms of flavor, though I next time I would make stronger coffee, and it definitely had the best texture: perfectly smooth and creamy. The strawberry was really popular with everyone, but I ended up not liking the lime flavor as much as I had hoped too - still everyone else seemed to think it was awesome so don't let that dissuade you.

Enjoy creating all of these recipes:

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (taken pretty much verbatim from Cherry Tea Cakes Blog)

1 1/4 cups Sugar divided
2 1/4 cups Heavy Cream divided
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract
1 cup whole Milk
3 large Eggs

Heat 1 cup sugar in a dry large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring to heat sugar evenly until it starts to melt.
It should clarify like this and not be milky
Do not stir after this point, only swirl the skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber. This is important!!! If you stir it it globs onto your spoon and crystalizes (I know cause that is what happened to me).

Add 1 1/4 cups cream (mixture will spatter) and the rest of the sugar and cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved, and the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Caramel after cream has been added
Pass mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Transfer to a bowl and stir in salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Creamy part of ice cream:
Meanwhile scald milk and remaining cream.

In another bowl whisk eggs for a minute or two and then add in the scalded mixture in a slow stream. Let it run down the side of the bowl on a low speed (This prevents the hot milk from scorching the eggs I expect).
Adding the milk to the egg mixture
Pour combined mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats the back of the spoon.

The final part:
Pour custard through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl, and then stir in cooled caramel.

Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, about 1 hour in the freezer (I had to do this for two hours and it was still hella soft).

Freeze custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (it will still be quite soft - kind of like a semi-melted shake); then transfer to a suitable freezing container and put in freezer to firm up. This ice cream will remain very soft even after freezing. Lower the temperature of your freezer if necessary to fully harden. FYI: It took at least 8 hours for this to harden in my freezer.

Makes about 1 quart, maybe a little more.

Creamy Coffee Ice Cream (taken directly from Not Eating Out in NY with a few additions to the directions)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup the strongest coffee you’ve ever made in your life (it should really be espresso strong)

Combine eggs, yolks and sugar in a bowl and blend thoroughly with a whisk or electric beater for about 5 minutes (mixture should thicken and turn a lemony yellow).

Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan; do not let boil, just “scorch” it until it is near-boiling hot. Turn off heat.

Very slowly pour in one cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, beating rapidly with a whisk. Once it is all beaten in, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk mixture while beating, then add in the coffee. Heat at about medium low, stirring constantly, for a few more minutes or until the consistency is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon when dipped in. Turn off heat.
Ours looked kind of "chunky" for some reason but turned out totally smooth
Pour mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the liquid (this prevents a "skin" from forming). Chill overnight or until completely cool. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow machine’s directions for how long it should churn.

Recommended: freeze for 2 hours before serving. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.
As you can see everyone really liked this one
Makes about 1 quart.

Strawberry Daiquiri Ice Cream (taken from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

1 cup sugar divided
2 limes zested
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 yolks
1 1/2 cups (16 ounces) strawberry puree
1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes)
2 tablespoons rum

Pour the cream into a large bowl; set a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl and set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.
Sugar and eggs before mixing
In a medium saucepan, rub the lime zest into 1/2 cup of the sugar until fragrant.
Sugar and lime zest pre-rubbing
Add the half-and-half and heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it simmers.

Once the half-and-half has simmered, very slowly pour it into the beaten egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pot and bring just to a simmer over medium heat, still whisking constantly.

Pour through the strainer into the bowl with the cream; stir to combine.

Then mix in the strawberry puree, lime juice, and rum.
This looks so pretty!

Chill until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Freeze the ice cream custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once frozen to the consistency of soft serve ice cream, transfer the ice cream to freezer container and freeze until firm. This may take several hours (I would bet on overnight or at least 6-8 hours).

Makes about 1 quart.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Roasted Eggplant

The texture and taste of this eggplant is as unusual as it is awesome. The slices of eggplant had a texture similar to the apples in an apple pie and they soaked up all of the flavor of the balsamic vinegar.

This makes a great simple side dish to accompany almost anything although I ended up eating all of it for dinner one night. :)


Roasted Eggplant
1 Eggplant halved and sliced a 1/4 inch thick
4 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
In a large bowl mix together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and brown sugar.

Toss in the eggplant and stir around until thoroughly coated.

Put into a 9 inch pie plate and bake at 375 for about 20-30 minutes (until eggplant is softened and the top has started to brown), stirring once of twice. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Classic Banana Bread

I think just about everyone has a recipe for banana bread, but even if you do you should give this one a try. It is just perfect: dense, banana-y, sweet but not overpowering, and packed with pecans. Also, it takes all of 15 minutes to mix everything together and presto you have a sweet treat to eat or give away.

As always this is a great way to use up blackened overripe bananas (which I usually toss in the freezer to preserve if I don't feel like making banana bread). I bake mine in a tube pan because I have never gotten around to buying a loaf pan. I am sure this would turn out just fine in a bread pan but it might take a little longer to bake.

Classic Banana Bread
1 3/4 cups Flour
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
2 blackened (overripe) bananas mashed
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Buttermilk (you can easily substitute curdled regular milk by adding in a tablespoon or less of vinegar to plain milk)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Pecans chopped
In a bowl mix together dry ingredients and set aside. 

Dry ingredients

Combine mashed bananas, eggs, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk.

Wet ingredients

Add in the dry ingredients and mix until all is combined. Stir in the pecans.

Pour into a greased tube pan.

In the tube pan

Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour and 10 minutes checking on the hour to make sure it doesn't get overdone (bread is done when a knife inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean - with only a few sticky crumbs).

Final product

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fresh Salsa

I made salsa for the first time a few weeks ago and the results were ok but not great. This time around I added in another tomato, used more peppers, and took out the cilantro (I still don't like the flavor it imparts) and I am quite pleased with the results. Very simple to make but it does taste a lot better if it sits and marinates for a day.

Having sampled it again a few more days later - it is really excellent. The hotness and flavor from the peppers really come out.

Enjoy the heat!

Fresh Salsa
3 Tomatoes finely chopped
1 Onion finely chopped
4-5 Serrano Peppers finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Lime juiced
Mix together all ingredients and chill for a day (if possible) before serving. Makes a huge bowl that would be perfect for a party.