Sunday, August 24, 2014

Broiled / Roasted Potatoes with fresh herbs

Potatoes are another one of my vegetables I like to eat when I am craving comfort food.  The good thing about potatoes is that you don't have to wait to turn the oven on.  They are excellent on the grill as well as broiled in the oven.  Some of my favorite potatoes ever were some broiled ones that were broiled in olive so they were super crispy on the outside and hot and steamy all the way through.  These potatoes are started in the microwave, so you can be sure that they will be cooked throughout, but they are finished in the oven so they get some of the crispy texture without all the oil and the time needed to broil from start to finish.

Broiled Potatoes
potatoes (as many or as few as you want)
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano, etc.) chopped, if desired

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Cut the potatoes into wedges and put in a microwave safe bowl.  Add 1/2 lemon or 2 half lemons if 2 pounds or more.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 7-10 minutes or until nearly cooked through.  Check to be sure potatoes are nearly cooked through (or cooked through is fine too).  Add the fresh chopped herbs (if using) and a splash of olive oil.  (The amount will depend on how many potatoes you are making, but enough to lightly coat the potatoes in olive oil...usually 1-3 tablespoons.)  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure everything is mixed well together.  Pour into a oven proof dish and put on the top rack of your oven.  Broiled until golden and crisp.  Depending on the amount this should take about 20 minutes.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chicken Enchiladas

I live in a state with a lot of Mexican food.  I am also lucky enough to have eaten Mexican food prepared by Mexicans (and not just eaten Americanized Mexican food).  One of the things that shocked my husband was ordering a chicken burrito at a Mexican restaurant.  He looked at me and said there is only chicken inside.  I laughed and said that it was the way Mexicans eat Mexican food.  It isn't filled with all sorts of things that we Americans can possibly think to add to make it not really Mexican food anymore.  This version of chicken enchiladas is definitely Americanize as there are things added to just the meat.  It is based on a recipe found on Food Network, but modified to spice it up a little more.  If you have not used chipotle peppers before, you might want to start with one or two as they add heat quickly.

Chicken Enchiladas
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast (boneless)
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 green chilies, finely chopped (I used a combination of serrano and jalapeno)
4 chipotle chilies (from a canned), chopped
1 28oz. can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
about 16 corn tortillas
1 28 oz can green enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Garnish: scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, lettuce

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a large pan with olive oil.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Brown chicken over medium heat (about 7 minutes each side) until no longer pink.  Sprinkle chicken with powdered spices above before turning over.  Remove chicken to a platter to cool.

Saute onion and garlic in the chicken drippings until tender and clear.  Add the chiles.  Stir to combine.  Add canned tomatoes and saute for about a minute.

Pull the chicken apart....the easiest way to do this is to put it in the mixer and turn on a lower speed.  My KitchAid does this in about a minute.  Add the shredded chicken to the saute pan with the vegetables.  Dust with corn starch to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds (this prevents them from breaking).  Coat the bottom of a 9x12 inch pan with enchilada sauce.  Dip the tortillas in enchilada sauce and fill with chicken mixture.   Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese melts and mixture is hot throughout.  Serve garnished with cilantro, sour cream, lettuce, scallions and chopped tomatoes.   Serves about 8 (2 enchiladas per person).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Cucumber Salad

Cucumber salads are perfect for summer.  They grow easier in gardens and in pots.  I have a wonderful "patio snacker" variety in a pot on my deck this year and it is producing wonderful smaller sized cucumbers.  So now that the bounty is coming in the question is what to do with all those cucumbers.  This recipe is very quick and yet it uses the cucumbers all the way.  It is a version based on the recipe by Jaime Oliver from Meals in Minutes.

Cucumber Salad
1 English cucumber (hothouse and have no wax on the outside)
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, juiced
small bunch of cilantro, chopped (separate the leave and stalks, use stalks only and reserve leaves for another recipe)
1/2 chile (I used a serrano), finely chopped

Grate the ginger onto your serving platter. (I used a low pasta/fruit bowl.)  Add the soy sauce, olive oil and sesame oil.  Add the lime juice and then taste for addition seasoning.  Peel the cucumber into strips.  Either discard the middle or cut into thin slices and add the the salad.  (I like to use everything as to eliminate waste.)  Add the cilantro stalks and the chile.  Toss just before serving.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fish Cakes with fresh salsa

Who does love a good crab cake?  Some really good crab cakes are to be had in Annapolis, but what happens when you aren't there?  Or in my case, I am no where near the sea, but I still want something that is as good and can make at home.  So I decided to try these fish cakes from Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes.  (This recipe is based off the one in the book.)  I have referred to his cookbook before and this is yet another pretty quick recipe to make, especially once you have made it a couple of times.   It is also easy to half or double depending on how many are eating.  Plus the variations are endless depending on what fish looks the best or is the freshest when you go to buy it.  The salsa which is served under the fish is a combination of lots of good summer vegetables, so now is the perfect time to give it a try.

The nice part is you can choose how many types of fish you want to put in here.  I have tried it both with two fish and another time with three different types of fish.  As long as you pay attention to having the same amount of total weight for the fish, it will still serve four people.  Fish is good served with potatoes, so check out the potatoes I ate with these fish cakes.  They are a simple broiled potato with seasonings.

Fish Cakes with Salsa
Fish Cakes:
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 pounds fish (any combo: salmon, haddock, tuna etc.)
1 lemon
parsley (one bunch or as much as you feel like using), stalks removed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
salt and pepper

1 red chile (I usually use Anaheim), seeded and stalk removed
1 green chile (I use either a jalapeno or serrano depending on what I have), seeded and stalk removed
2 scallions, trimmed
2 tomatoes
red wine vinegar
1/2 English cucumber, cut into small pieces
1 yellow pepper (or red - whatever your prefer), finely chopped
1 lime
bunch of basil

In a bowl or on a piece of foil, pour the bread crumbs.  Put the fish in the food processor.  Then add the zest of the lemon, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pulse until coarsely mixed.  Pour the fish onto a platter and add about 1-2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.  Mix with your hands and then divide into four equal patties.  Put the patties on the remaining bread crumbs and cover with some of the bread crumbs.  Put a frying pan over medium heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil (enough to fry the patties).  Add the two cloves of garlic to the pan.  When the oil is hot (and garlic frying) add the fish cakes to the pan.  Cook for about 7-8 minutes while you make the salsa.  Once golden flip and cook for about the same time on the other side.

Rinse out the food processor bowl. Add the chiles, scallions, tomatoes and a little salt and pepper.  Add about a tablespoon of the red wine vinegar and pulse until finely chopped.  Adjust flavors as needed.  Pour out onto a serving platter.  Mix the cucumber, yellow pepper and the juice of the lime with the salsa on the platter.  Roughly cut basil and add to the salsa.  Mix.

Once fish cakes are finished cooking, place on top of the salsa for serving.  Sprinkle extra baby basil leaves (if you desire for garnish).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Zucchini Salad

Zucchini is in season!  What better time to figure out new ways to eat it, especially when it is freshed picked from the garden or farmer's market.  Unfortunately, I didn't have space to grow any this year, but it is something I want to put in the ground next year.  This is a simple salad based on a recipe from Meals in Minutes by Jamie Oliver.  It is very quick and has a very nice fresh flavor.  A twist on this would be to try it with the yellow squash which is the same sized and usually right next to the zucchini (at least in my grocery store).

Zucchini Salad
3 large sprigs of mint (I used sweet mint since it is growing in my garden.)
1 red Anaheim chile
1 small lemon
8 oz. zucchini (young and small are the better ones to use)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Pick the mint leave from the sprigs.  Add the red chile (seeds removed), lemon zest from 1/2 the lemon.  Chop these three things together until finely diced and nicely mixed.  Place this mixture in the middle of a serving bowl and add about 3 tablespoon of olive oil.  Squeeze the lemon juice and add to the mixture.  Add a little salt and pepper and then taste and adjust as necessary.  Peel the zucchini into ribbons over the dressing.   Toss just before serving.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Piri Piri Chicken

I tend to eat a lot of chicken because if cooked right, it can have a lot of flavor.  On the other hand if not cooked well it can be dry, tough and without much flavor.  This chicken has a lot of flavor which come from the piri piri sauce that the chicken is cooked in.  (This recipe is based off Piri Piri chicken from Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes.)  I also tend to use a lot of boneless, skinless chicken which makes it all the more important to have good flavor infused into the chicken.  This method uses a bit of cooking on the stove top as well as finishing in the oven so it gives you enough time to work on other things to serve with this chicken.

Piri Piri Chicken
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast
olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced or cubed
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced or cubed
6 sprigs of thyme
cilantro leaves
1 red onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile, stalk removed
1 jalapeno, stalk removed
2 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 lemons, zested (1 lemon also juiced)
1/4 white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
fresh bunch of basil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Put a large pan on to heat (to cook the chicken).  Place the chicken on a cutting board and season it with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken into the preheat pan and cook until golden on each side.  (The first side should take about 5-6 minutes, then turn over.)

In the meantime, make the piri piri sauce.  Add the chopped red onion to a blender with the garlic, chiles, paprika, lemon zests, and juice from one lemon.  Add white wine, Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of salt and pepper, the bunch of basil and a little water.  Blend until smooth.

Add the red and yellow pepper to the chicken.  Turn the heat down to medium and stir the peppers.  Pour the piri piri sauce into a baking dish, add the peppers then the chicken (and any cooking sauce).  Next, add the sprigs of thyme and place in the oven on a middle rack.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until everything is baked through (and hot throughout).  Chicken will be cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 160F.  Remove chicken from oven the serve with the cilantro leaves sprinkled on top. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cannellini Bean Curry

One of my favorite things to eat when it gets cold out or when I am craving some spicier food is curry.  I never ate it growing up and had no idea what I was missing until I tried Indian food.  Of course I am sure a lot of the food we get in the U.S. is in no way similar to food eaten in India.  However, I have accumulated a few different Indian cookbooks trying to get more authentic Indian food.  (Of course I ate this with a pita bread so I didn't really carry the Indian food theme through all the way.)  Another of my comfort foods is white beans.  Any recipe that has beans in it never has enough for me.  In the same way I tend to minimize meat and add more vegetables.  So this recipe is based off one from Anjum's New Indian with changed to fit how I like to cook and eat, but I would expect the same from anyone cooking off of my modified recipes.

Cannellini Bean Curry (serves about 4)
1/4 olive oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped (or microplaned as it bring out the ginger flavor)
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ground corriander
2/3 cup good quality coconut milk
2 cans of cannellini beans drained and rinsed
6 - 10 oz. cherry tomatoes (more if you like them or less if you don't), halved
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon tamarind paste
fresh cilantro to garnish

Heat oil in a large pan.  Once heated add the mustard seeds.  Once they pop, add the onion and cook until it is soft and golden.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the salt to taste and the powdered spices and stir for about 10 seconds.  Add the coconut milk and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the beans and tomatoes and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in the sugar and tamarind pasta.  If you like it a bit thicker mash some of the beans against the side of the pan.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Garnish with cilantro and serve.