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Archive for August, 2009

Ama’s Meringues

From Dish Jodi:

Ama's Meringues

When it’s 105 degrees in LA, as it was this weekend, CLEARLY the best thing to do in your tiny kitchen with no through-breeze is BAKE. Obviously.

Luckily, this recipe calls for 275 degree oven, so it could have been worse. Our wedding is in a month and a half, and instead of the traditional wedding cake, we’re going to (with the help of our visiting relatives) make cupcakes and a selection of “family cookies” – those recipes that we grew up with and remember making and eating as children. My future grandmother-in-law (one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever met) has passed along her simple and refreshing recipe for meringues. Sweating and gulping water to keep myself cool and hydrated, I did a test run this weekend.

6 egg whites
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
Grated zest of one big lime

Meringue ingredients

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees and grease a couple cookie sheets.

With a mixer (if you can do this by hand you are in far better shape than I), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar til they become frothy. With the mixer running, add the sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form.

Mixing.

Add the vanilla and vinegar and beat until blended. Add the lime zest and mix gently til evenly distributed.

Drop from a spoon in inch or so piles (should look like big kisses) on the baking sheets, or, if you wanted an excuse to use fun kitchen tools as I did, pipe fun little piles with a pastry bag.

Bake until firm to the touch, but before they get toasty brown, about 30 minutes.

Cool completely and enjoy the crunchy (hopefully a little chewy on the inside) refreshing sweet bites that melt on your tongue. They will last a week or so stored in an airtight container at room temperature (unless your room is located in Los Angeles where it’s 105 degrees).

The bride-to-be with her cookie

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From Dish Erin:

Pork Chops with Peach Chipotle Salsa

Confession: This is not a true original Erin creation but a recipe redux. The original, found on Epicurious, claimed to have a peach ‘salsa’ but left out the tomatoes. And I’m sorry, but salsa without tomatoes is blasphemy.

Warning: This dish is not for the faint of taste buds. Chipotle peppers often lose some of their heat when cooked, so the fact that this salsa is served raw means that you will taste every bit of kick those peppers have to offer. If you don’t like spicy food, reduce it by half. Seriously.

For the salsa:
1 firm but ripe peach, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
1 tablespoon of adobo sauce
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
Zest of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Pinch of sugar

Salsa ingredients
For the pork chops:
2 pork chops*
Ground cumin
Ground turmeric
Salt & Freshly ground pepper

Preheat a grill (I use a cast iron indoor grill-top) over medium heat. Brush with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Season pork chops on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then rub with cumin and a pinch of turmeric (similar to a dry rub).

Pork chops on grill

To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir. Let it sit while you begin to cook the pork chops.

Place the pork chops on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove and plate with a few tablespoons of the peach chipotle salsa. I served this with a green pepper stuffed with corn bread, black beans, onions and cheese. The stuffed pepper and pork chop were fighting for the spotlight, but the piggy definitely won.

*If you think ahead (or are OCD, like me) you can brine the pork chops before cooking. I like to brine white meat when I’m working with a dry rub–it adds great moisture and flavor. Simply place raw pork chops in a large ziplock bag. In a small bowl combine 2 cups of warm water with 2 heaping tablespoons of salt, and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Pour over pork chops, seal bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hrs, or at most overnight.

Erin and pork chops!

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From Dish Rachelle:

Tomato and Artichoke "Poached" Tilipia with Potatoes

Fact: I sometimes eat dinner alone.

Fact: I can’t eat enough artichokes.

Fact: I once lived in New Orleans.

I lived in NOLA for two months last fall, where I ate jambalaya, catfish po-boys, fried green tomatoes and tasted varieties of gumbo to my heart’s content. (I also rode a bicycle as my primary source of transportation, which is probably why I didn’t come home with a big fry-belly). Big Easy dishes are bright, spicy, improvisational, and often favor fish and meats that are considered less than prime – like catfish, which is very inexpensive, and turkey’s necks. This dish isn’t an imitation of any particular meal I ate down south, but it does remind me of the homey, free-form meals served even in the most esteemed NOLA restaurants. Made with economical tilapia (which is low in Omega-3s, but is also mercury-free), a ripe tomato fresh from Jersey, and canned artichokes (delicious year-round and which do, surprisingly, show up every once in a while in a jambalaya supreme), this tilapia and vegetable stew is my healthier version of comfort food.

A note about the seasoning: The Boy and I picked up some “Big Kevin’s Bayou Blend” at the New Orleans School of Cooking. It’s available online, and worth getting your hands on, but you’d no doubt get a similar flavor from a dry rub of salt, pepper, onion powder, old bay, cayenne, oregano, and paprika (all standard in NOLA cooking). The potatoes, also cooked with a dash or two of cayenne, add some additional spice, and provide richness without the cream or animal fat ever-present in southern preparations.

Ingredients (Serves 2 moderate portions, or 1 dinner with leftovers)

For fried potatoes:
1 medium-sized waxy red potato, diced
¼ cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
Cayenne
Salt & Pepper

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 1-2 minutes, until flavors release. Add potato and season with cayenne and black pepper (to taste). DO NOT season with salt until potatoes are very nearly done. The salt causes potatoes to retain water, thus making them resistant to crisping. Toss and turn heat down to low. When the potatoes are soft (poke them with a fork) and the fish is ready to serve, turn heat up to high for a minute or so, until potatoes are crispy on the outside. Season with salt.

Frying potatoes

For Tilapia:
1 boneless tilapia fillet, roughly 4 oz
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tomato, roughly diced
2-3 canned artichoke hearts such as Roland’s organic, chopped (reserve juices from can)
baby spinach
Big Kevin’s Bayou Blend Seasoning, or a dry rub of salt, pepper, onion powder, old bay, cayenne, oregano, and paprika (feel free to experiment)

Rub tilapia fillet with seasoning on both sides, giving it a nice dry coat. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add seasoned fillet and cook 2-3 minutes on both sides, until firm and opaque. Reserve to plate. Add chopped tomatoes and artichoke hearts and saute 1-2 minutes, or until tomatoes soften. Add 2-3 tblsp. artichoke juices to moisten. Toss and cover sauce with fresh spinach leaves, seasoning veggies LIGHTLY with salt and pepper. Return fish fillet to the pan, spooning some of the vegetable mixture over it. This is where the poaching comes in: the tilapia is mostly cooked, but the liquid from the tomato and the artichokes adds moisture and flakiness to the fish. Cover pan and cook until spinach leaves are wilted, another 2-3 minutes.

Tilapia in panTilapia buried

Serve immediately over fried potatoes. Another hallmark of NOLA food: the leftovers are always terrific for lunch.

Rachelle and Tilapia

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