Dinner

Recently I picked up some tomatillos at the farmer's market.  I had started craving tomatillo salsa and was excited to make some since I haven't been keen on the jarred versions I've bought in the past.  They sat around longer than I'd like to admit once I realized that I wasn't sure what went well with tomatillo salsa other than chicken and we don't cook chicken anymore.  Tonight I finally came up with an idea for a meal to go with the sauce.  Enchiladas made with the salsa, filled with zucchini, mushrooms and onions and topped with queso fresco.  This worked nicely because I already have a large quantity of corn tortillas that I need to use.

We bought the remaining necessary ingredients while on our afternoon bike ride.  I came home and double checked my Diana Kennedy cookbook, The Cuisines of Mexico, and the tomatillo salsa recipe I pulled from The Homesick Texan.  I didn't have serano chiles, but I had two poblanos that I had to use, so I roasted them under the broiler (flipping ever minute or so) to get a nice charred flavor and remove the skins.  Then I threw the hulled, rinsed, quarter tomatillos in the blender with 1/2 a medium white onion, a couple chopped garlic cloves and the juice from 1/2 a lime.  I blended until mostly smooth, then added a handful of cilantro and the peeled chopped poblanos and blended again, then added a pinch of salt and sugar and dumped it all into a skillet with a bit of oil to simmer for 5 minutes.

For the filling I sauted up slices of 1/2 a medium onion, 1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms, then when they were soft I set them aside and sauted up 1 zucchini cut into large matchstick pieces and 1 yellow squash cut into a small dice.  I mixed the mushroom and onions back in and then mixed in 6 oz of crumbled queso fresco.

At this point I realized that 1) my 9 x 12 casserole dish was in the fridge half-full of macaroni and cheese and 2) we were hungry and wanted to eat now.  I decided to layer the dish similar to lasagne.  Then I decided that I didn't want to wait another 20 to 30 minutes for the casserole to bake so I filled and rolled a couple cooked corn tortillas and top with sauce for us to eat for dinner and use the rest of the filling and sauce for the casserole.  The enchiladas were on the spicy side (I guess I used too many chiles) but okay with sour cream.

I layered corn tortillas, veggie mix, salsa, corn torillas, veggie mix, salsa, corn tortillas, and finally salsa (using maybe 1/2 cup of salsa per layer) topping with 3 oz of crumbled queso fresco.  Then I decided it seemed a little dry, at this point I remembered that Diana Kennedy mentioned tomatillo salsa pairs well with egg dishes, so I beat together two eggs and milk and poured it over the casserole and popped it in the oven set at 350 F for 30 minutes.

We are full from our enchiladas but I hope this egg, veggie and tomatillo salsa casserole is a good dinner tomorrow.

editing to add:  It was a great dinner, and lunch and another dinner.  Sadly I forgot to take pictures and post this in a timely fashion.

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September 24, 2007. Tags: , , , , . Thoughts. Leave a comment.

Dinner Sandwich

I don't know if I've really been cooking more, but I am more inspired to post about food lately.  Tonight I made Veggie Pan Bagnat, the cover dish on the July/August 2006 issue of Vegetarian Times.  I didn't take pictures because 1) we were hungry and couldn't wait and 2) it was dark.  The sandwich looked delicious on the cover, and it used eggplant, which I had sitting on the counter waiting to be used so I got over being weirded out by the hard boiled egg also in the sandwich.  I mean it called for tapenade and I love tapenade.

Sandwich

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, cooked lightly, rinsed with cool water, drained
1/2 cup roasted peppers, rinsed, drained, cut into 1/2" strips
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced (2 was enough for us)
2 1/2 T tapenade (I used homemade, if you are concerned about veggie look out for tapenades with anchoivies)
1 French baguete, halved lengthwise (we also cut it into individual sandwich size pieces)

Vinaigrette

1/4 c olive oil (I used 2 T)
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T parsley, coarsley chopped
1 1/2 t shallots, coarsely chopped (who measures this precisely?)
1/2 t dijon mustard
1/2 t sugar

Roast the eggplant slices in the oven at 350 on an oiled baking sheet (sprinkled with salt and pepper and a bit of oil brushed on the up-side of the eggplant), 10 minutes each side.  Whirl the vinaigrette ingredients together in a blender.  Pull some of the soft insides out of the baguette.  Layer the sandwich as follows from the bottom up: tapenade spread on the bread, green beans, roasted peppers, egg, eggplant.  Drizzle vinaigrette on the top piece of bread (you are also supposed to brush it on top of the tapenade, oops).  At this point the directions recommend pressing the sandwich together and letting it chill for 1 to 4 hours.  We did no such thing and it was still delicious, if a bit messy with the vinaigrette dripping and such.

This was a bit more time consuming, which is why I think of it as a dinner sandwich.  Of course if I hadn't made the tapenade at the same time it would have been a little easier.  Plus you could do stuff like boil the eggs in advance (though I did them while the eggplant cooked). Oh yes, this is supposed to serve 4.

As I said, the inclusion of eggs weirded me out.  But I think they really added something to the dish.  And now I am envisioning an herbed egg salad sandwich with chunks of lightly cooked green beans in it.

And finally the tapenade:  In a food processor I pureed about 1 cup of kalamata olives, a smooshed garlic clove, a bit of fresh parsley, a tablespoon of capers, a couple tablespoons of lemon juice and olive oil.

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September 12, 2007. Tags: , . Thoughts. 2 comments.

Fried Green Tomatoes

After my mom and I watched the movie Fried Green Tomatoes we were intrigued by the idea.  So the next fall (whenever that was) we used a few of the tomatoes that were not going to ripen and made a batch of fried green tomatoes.  We have been making them nearly every fall since then.

I've seen a few recipes and tried a few variations but prefer our offbeat breading (falafel mix, not sure why we tried it in the first place though).  This year I think I perfected the sauce that accompanies the fried green tomatoes- a chipotle infused sour cream (as suggested by Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven, though I don't like her puffy coating for the tomatoes). 

You need green tomatoes, I guesstimate that 1 large tomato will feed one person, but that depends on your appetite and whether it is a meal or side dish…last week 3 tomatoes made enough for 4 people with a couple slices left over and Fantastic Foods Falafel mix.  I pick mine up in the bulk section of a natural grocery store, or the natural foods section of a large grocery store.  Oh and oil for frying, I also suggest a cast iron skillet to do the frying… once the temp is right (medium on the large burner of my electric stove) it holds nicely.

The How-To
First make the chipotled sour cream (Mollie Katzen's recipe is for chipotle cream) by spooning the desired amount of sour cream into a bowl and mixing in some minced canned chipotle (the stuff that comes in adobo sauce), a bit of the adobo sauce and a sprinkling of chipotle powder.  MK recommends 1 cup sour cream and up to 1 teaspoon of the minced chipotles.  I think I minced one chipotle for around 1 cup of sour cream, frankly I didn't measure, I just added and tasted as I went.  Of course it gained heat as it sat so do keep that in mind.  Today I was lazy and made it with just chipotle powder and some of the adobo sauce.

Now make the fried green tomatoes.  I suggest having everything set out in advance because it goes quickly once the frying starts.   So, you dump some falafel mix in a pie dish (my preferred dredging container); wash, dry then slice the tomatoes about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick and dredge them with mix.  Then you pan fry them (just enough oil to cover one half of the tomato) until golden, flipping once.  I suggest using trusty tongs like these, though I think ours are a Target brand that cost about a buck less.  Then you set the cooked slices on a plate lined with towels to absorb a bit of the grease.  Serve with small amounts of chipotled sour cream.

If you need to feel better about your fried meal add a big green salad – the tomatoes are surprisingly filling, but maybe that is cause I eat so many when I make them.  I've also seen a recipe that makes a sandwich with fried green tomatoes, smoked cheese and some sort of greens (was it arugula) on good bread .  I might try that next time I pick up green tomatoes though I don't know if that will be next week or next fall.

Note: the fried green tomatoes I made for lunch today, shown above, are a bit red due to the tomato beginning to ripen.  I don't recommend this, because the tomato gets too mush to deal with while being cooked if anything but green.  It also looses its tangy bite.  I also had to mix up my own breading (flour and cornmeal, two breading options mixed together with garlic powder, cumin and dried parsley, spices I found in a falafel recipe as well as the traditional salt and pepper) since I was out of falafel mix, it was okay, but next time I'm going back to my falafel mix.

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September 11, 2007. Tags: . Thoughts. Leave a comment.

Catching up

Two weeks ago at this time I was just beginning to get panicky about the state of my house since my family was due to arrive in the middle of the week.  I was also Ikea-izing my house.  I finally made it to Ikea for some bookcases.  We bought one basic, short Billy bookcase for the upstairs hallway.  That hallway is freakishly wide and so a thin bookcase works quite well there.  It also helps anchor a large framed photo that we finally hung on the wall.  We also bought a Traby unit to use as a buffet-type piece in the dining room.  Now some pretty servings bowls that did not fit in my cabinets and most of my cookbook collection are stored in that bookcase-like piece.

A nifty thing about Ikea: you can take your basic used alkaline batteries and compact florescent bulbs to Ikea for recycling.  They have some bins near the exit to collect those items.  This thrilled me because I knew you were not supposed to dispose either thing in the trash, but didn't know where to get rid of them (did I really have to hang onto such things for the annual county hazardous waste collection, that always ends up being scheduled on the Saturday that I am out of town?).  I know this doesn't help everyone as not everyone has reasonable access to an Ikea…

This morning we made very delicious blueberry pancakes.  I had a favorite pancake recipe, it is on page 426 of The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook (my book is the  Reader's Digest edition, copyright 1980).  I didn't even have to look the page number up, and barely need to look at the recipe.  I learned to cook using this cookbook and fantasized over the picture index as a kid.  But this recipe might just be replaced by the Light and Fluffy Pancakes from The New Best Recipe.

  This is the second time I've made TNBR's pancakes (with buttermilk).  And they are so so good, exactly as the title says, they are light and fluffy.  Today we added blueberries to the recipe (and they instruct to drop the blueberries onto the pancakes once you drop the batter onto the pan, not to stir them into the batter where they color it blue and all drop to the bottom–we actually did that before TNBR though).  To be fair to the TGHIC, I have never tried their buttermilk waffles pancake recipe on page 427 and it is very similar to TNBR's recipe.

I also mixed up a batch of Mexican Cocoa in a Jar this morning.  While I'm sure the layered look makes a better presentation, this wasn't a gift (and is currently stored in a covered pyrex bowl) so I didn't bother with the layers and went directly the to "dump in a bowl and stir" part of the directions.  FWIW, 1 1/2 discs of Ibarra makes about 3/4 cup chopped Ibarra.  Overall I'm happier with this cocoa than most of the 'add hot water' mixes I've bought in a store lately, but if you make this variation do no try to drink the last tablespoon in the mug since it is gritty.  I really wonder if the Ibarra is necessary at all and plan on mixing up a smaller batch with just powdered milk, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon.  If anyone sees powdered milk that isn't "nonfat" please let me know.

Finally, I've been plugging away at the Dream Baby Granny Square Blanket and now have 17 squares finished (the goal is 48 squares).  My knitting projects are plagued by the "must sit down and concentrate on it" disease so I haven't made any progress there.  But I did start another pair of Fetching because I needed a car project.

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August 19, 2007. Tags: , , , . Thoughts. Leave a comment.