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Posts from the ‘Ethnic Cuisine’ Category

Hybrid Enchiladas with Green Chiles & Cheese


I am currently jealous of any person currently living in an area where the daily high temperatures are not rising above 70º.  Here in southern California…we’re still in the thick of the heat.  Today we had a major dip and the high was only 84º!  Last week, husband and I were enjoying a late summer vacation around the Teton region in Wyoming and Idaho and although it was certainly cooler…it was still ridiculously hot for this late in September.  Wild fires still abound and our days were filled with smoky haze.  However the brisk early mornings and waning light left me hungry for fall weather.  Casserole weather.

I love enchiladas as they tend to include cheese (love), corn tortillas (love) and they beg to be topped with the quintessential Tex-Mex garnish of sliced canned black olives.

No, these hybrid enchiladas will not get you more miles to the gallon…but they are a mixture of enchilada preparation styles from both my family and my husband’s family.

Woody likes his enchiladas on the spicy-side and I prefer it a bit milder so I tried to maximize the flavor of the sauce while not creating a volcanic sauce that would ruin the fun of my dinner.  Truly…I winged it.

In its most basic form, enchilada sauce is tomato sauce that has been flavored with chilies, onions and spices.  There are plenty of recipes out there to use as a starting point.  You’ll also notice from the above photo, that I used a portion of prepared enchilada sauce in making my sauce.  I tend to not love the sauces straight from the can, but they can enhance the depth of your sauce and make things a bit more complex.

Enchiladas can be made with flour or corn tortillas.  I like both, but they are very different, with corn being more authentic.  To use corn tortillas and make them malleable, you need to soften each one in a bit of hot vegetable or canola oil first.  Heat a shallow fry pan that is at least the size of your tortillas with ¼” of oil in the bottom.  You are not trying to make crispy tortillas…rather they should soak up a bit of oil which will make them easy to roll without tearing and ripping.  Using tongs, slip each tortilla into the warm oil for no more than 5-15 seconds per side and stack warm on a plate.  It’s best to do more than you think you will need so you don’t have to go back and repeat this step.  When the oil gets low, just add a bit more and let it heat back up.  If the oil is spitting, it is probably too hot.

I filled these enchiladas with jack cheese and Ortega green chiles.  Cut the cheese into ¼ to 1/3 inch logs and slice the canned whole green chiles into lengthwise slices.  Place one of each onto a tortilla and roll tightly and place the seam side down into a baking dish.  Continue until you have filled the pan and squished in as many as possible.

While I was building the enchiladas, my sauce was bubbling away on the stove.  When the pan is filled, it is time to lade the sauce over the enchiladas.

I started the sauce with sautéing a thinly sliced onion which is why it looks a bit chunky and stringy.

Smooth sauce over the top, letting it settle into the nooks and crannies.  Tope with shredded cheese and (of course) sliced black olives.

Now it’s time to bake this delicious pan of cheesy goodness.  You can also wrap it with foil and freeze it at this point – I had enough to feed an army…so I froze a whole second pan for sometime in November!  Bake at 350º for 20-30 minutes (from frozen it will probably need more like 45-60 minutes – and you can put it directly in a cold oven, and that way you can avoid the risk of your dish breaking from temperature shock as it will heat up with the oven).  If it is browning too quickly, cover with a piece of foil.

Let it stand for a few minutes once you remove it from the oven and then serve it up with your favorite sides.  We went with beans and a little garnish of fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream (which didn’t make it into the photo).

Side note:  I out-spiced myself with this particular dish.  In my attempt to satisfy my husband’s need for some heat…I went a bit far with the chiles, cayenne and chile powder.  Oops!  At least one of us loved it!  The sour cream helped me cool down the dish for my pathetic pallet.  

What are you cooking now that the weather has turned (in most places)?

 

 

3rd Time’s a Charm (almost) – Coconut Milk & Key Lime Panna Cotta


Update:  Recipe should have included 1/4 cup of sugar…correction made below!  

Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment…I tried again.

But wait, you say, that doesn’t look like a vanilla bean buttermilk panna cotta…why didn’t you attempt the same recipe?  Well, because I am difficult.  I figured something had to go my way if I made a completely different recipe that included no dairy whatsoever, right?  Hmmm…the answer is not as clear as one might think – yes and no.

Success…YES!  (as it did not separate).  And FAIL…it didn’t actually totally set…but I have only myself to blame for this one.

In “collaborating” (read: angrily discussing) with my brother who seems to end up with nothing but perfection when he makes panna cotta (all varieties, I might add) at his restaurant…he may have mentioned that the amount of gelatin can be tricky when using coconut milk.  What seemed to be like an extreme amount of gelatin…was apparently necessary.  I did not believe the recipe and (of course) thought I knew better…so this one is completely.my.fault!  There’s always room for a 4th or 5th or 27th attempt, right?

Nonetheless, it tasted spot on!  Recipe can be found here (see below)…and I recommend following the recipe to the letter…and I’m sure that your panna cotta will work out absolutely perfectly!  (mostly due to the fact that I am nowhere near your kitchen and therefore my luck (or lack thereof) will have absolutely no influence on your end-result!)  I repeat…follow the directions!

I searched and searched to find the recipe I used…and to no avail…so unfortunately…you won’t have the opportunity to make the exact recipe that I managed to flub up…so find your own.  Go, make panna cotta and succeed!

From my memory and photos….here is the recipe!

Key Lime Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
1 can (15 oz.) of Coconut milk
I packet of gelatin
2 tbsp.’s of fresh key lime juice
1 tsp. of key lime zest
1/4 cup of sugar 

Pour lime juice into the sauce pan and sprinkle in the gelatin.  (my recipe indicated an entire packet of gelatin should be used…but I (incorrectly) assumed that I would end of milk bricks if I added it all since I was using half the milk previous recipes had called for with the same amount of gelatin.  Once it is bloomed, add in the zest and stir around a bit to make sure it is completely dissolved.

Next add in the coconut milk and sugar; heat gently until you see bubbles forming and there is steam rising.  Make sure you continue to stir during the heating so the gelatin, lime juice and zest remain suspended in the mixture.

Remove from heat and pour into small dishes or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set.  I pulled one out later that evening to try it.  Once again, we had guests and I was trying to avoid another big let-down of serving what appears to be a delicious panna cotta hiding a secret gelatin layer…or ending up a soupy disaster.

That evening, the panna cotta had not set and I convinced myself that it obviously needed some more time in the chiller.  I unmolded it in a shallow bowl and we all nibbled spoonfuls.  Flavor…perfect – refreshing, lime-y and not overly coconut-y.  Texture…too soft…a little like thin yogurt.

The next morning when I pulled one out and plated it, it was certainly more set than the previous evening…but not that heavenly texture that panna cotta should be!

I will not give up.  I will not give up.  I will not give up.

Stay tuned for attempt #4.  I believe everyone has a cooking nemesis…like Kryptonite for Superman…perhaps panna cotta is my kryptonite!

What is your culinary nemesis?

Cuban Sandwich :: Porky & Delicious!


So last week…we had some pork and later last week…we needed to eat up what little was left and what better way than to make the traditional Cuban sandwich!

According to my sources (the interwebs of course – nothing but the best for you readers!), all Cuban sandwiches contain roast pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese and a spread of mustard and are always served hot off the presses. Sounds like a pretty pungent sandwich, right? Wrong…it’s delicious, strongly flavored…but apparently many wrongs make a right!

Do you live near a Trader Joe’s? Good! We find that using the mini-ciabatta loaves which are only par-baked and ready to be crisped up before serving are perfect for any panini. Soft enough to let the panini press squish it a bit and grill up the outside but not so much that when you take a bite, you either get all bread or only the filling.

Moving on…slice the bread and spread with mustard on both sides, we happen to be fans of this one from Sierra Nevada Brewing. We also like their beer…but that’s another post! Layer a few slices of ham on the bottom side of the sandwich, cover with slices of the roast pork.

Having only dill pickle spears in the house…which I thought too difficult to slice lengthwise, I was relegated to many little slices of the spears.

Ready for the swiss cheese, layer it on and give a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. (Remember rule #4 – season at every step! – It’ a rule…maybe not rule #4…but it’s a rule.)

Top with the other half of the bun and get it into your panini press stat…or fry pan…or whatever works for you.

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Once the cheese is melty, the bread toasty, and the filling delicious-looking…pull it off the grill and cut in half. (Also…make a giant mess for just one sandwich!)

Serve with crunchy potato chips and a pickle on the side.

Dig in (and then wish you had a little more leftover roast pork).

In lieu of additional pork…throw together another sandwich with ingredients found in your fridge!

Filled with sliced roast turkey, roasted red peppers, arugula, mozzarella cheese and some sprinklings of garlic dried Italian herbs.

I love panini night…you never know what might make it into a sandwich! Do you have a favorite filling?

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So Good Soba & Tempura Greatness


A little late I know…but better late than never… (and it is, technically, still February!)

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com.

Having never made soba noodles before, I was unsure of what to expect.  In fact, although there are many steps in making cold soba and tempura…it is actually quite a simple dish.  You start by boiling the soba noodles.  I followed the directions on the package and let them cook up for 4 minutes, drained them and then plunged them into cold water to stop the cooking.

Next up was the broth for the soba…

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce:

Ingredients
2 cups basic vegetable stock
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)

Heat the mirin gently and then add in the soy sauce and vegetable stock.  The Mentsuyu is typically made with Kombu Dashi, which I did not get my hands on soon enough, so I substituted vegetable stock and added just a bit of powdered miso soup broth for a little more flavor.

Vegetables, a beautiful thing!  All the fresh ingredients for the tempura on the right and all the toppings for the cold soba in the upper right.  Clockwise, starting at the tofu:  tofu, edamame, nori, julienne of cucumber, green onions, sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and green beans!  Time to make the tempura batter…

Tempura batter works best when it is very cold.  Although it’s a bit hard to tell…pictured above is a clear mixing bowl set atop some ice water in a metal mixing bowl.

Ingredients
1 egg yolk from a large egg
1 cup (240 ml) iced water (or
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
oil, for deep-frying preferably vegetable
ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

Directions:

Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well.

Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.

Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be between 320° and 345°F. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.  I used an electric fondue pot, which has a variable temperature dial.  I checked to make sure the oil was hot enough with a thermometer.

Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, which won’t leave a strong odor in the oil.   Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep-frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.

Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.

Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.

A quick dipping sauce can be made with garlic paste, soy sauce and ponzu, and if you like it spicy, add a small dollop of Sriracha!  We enjoyed the tempura with a crisp white wine with some acidity to it, which is always great with fried food.

We made sure to gobble all the tempura while it was still hot and crispy, so we saved the soba for our second course.

Besides the broth, there is an additional dipping sauce for the soba.

Ingredients
¾ cup green onions finely sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon  granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon English mustard powder
1 tablespoon grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each

Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

All the ingredients should be chilled or room temperature.  To build your dish, pile noodles into a bowl.  Spoon 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of the broth over the noodles, and then begin adding toppings per your tastes.  I used julienned cucumber, nori strips, edamame, green onions and a dot of Sriracha.  Serve with the dipping sauce on the side, grab noodles with chopsticks, dip into sauce, and then slurp it all up.

Kanpai!

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