Archive for January, 2011

From Dish Danielle:

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent an enchanting week out in Santa Fe last month with fellow dish Amelia. My taste buds were inundated with the regional culinary traditions of Northern New Mexico as I ate more chile in the matter of 6 days than I had in my entire life. Nose running and table slapping, I quickly fell in love with these earthy yet spicy southwestern flavors, and truly began to understand what Amelia’s fuss has been all about.

Dish A & I have been meaning to curate a large-scale dinner together for a while now, and once back in Brooklyn, we decided it was about dang time. Now that I’d had my crash course in the robust flavors of NM, we thought it only appropriate to expand my culinary horizons and base a menu off of these tastes and traditions; I, the pupil, Amelia, the seasoned veteran.

Here is a recipe for Red Chile Sauce and a Pork Tamale filling–a quick & dirty pulled pork recipe that will be stuffed into SLD’s following post, Amelia’s (hot) tamales. These are several components that will be a part of our upcoming New Mexican dinner. I hope you enjoy, and wish me luck!

(brief sidenote: Amelia & I randomly met a New Mexican last night while out on the town. He too professed his love and addiction to the coveted chiles. He ranted and raved, clenched his fists and closed his eyes for a few moments, paying what I only understood to be a brief homage to a sorely missed flavor from his hometown. New Mexicans are effing serious about their chile: to the bone).

top of menu at a local NM resto in Santa Fe....

For the Red Chile:
4-6 tbsp dried ground NM red chile
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried cumin
a couple liberal pinches salt
a grind of pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tablespoon lard (just cause I had it around)
4 c stock
1 yellow or white onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 c water, or more, as needed.

Whisk 1 tbsp of the flour into the red chile in a bowl, set aside. In saucepan, heat oil and lard over medium heat. When lard is melted evenly sprinkle the other tbsp flour, and whisk to develop a roux. When it turns golden, add a touch more oil to keep it loose and sweat garlic and onions until translucent, which will happen quickly. Add chile and flour mixture. A paste will form. Stir briskly and add stock a bit at a time. Cook for a few minutes and add oregano, cumin, salt and black pepper. Turn heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes -1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add water at evenly spaced intervals, since sauce will be reducing and melding. You’re aiming for a thickened sauce that’s not at all see-through. You’ll know when it’s done when the aroma of red chile’s permeates your entire apt.

(NOTE: We’re using this sauce for the pork tamale filling, but you can put it on ANYthing. Eggs, as pictured above, (yum), or any meat will be happy to be smothered in it.)
This recipe yields about 3-4 cups

For the Pork:
2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of fat, room temp.
2 tbsp dried ground red chile
oil for searing
red chile sauce

Once you’ve got your sauce simmering you can deal with the pork. Preheat your oven to 280. Pat it dry and rub down with the salt & chile. (you could rub it with the chile prior to getting the sauce going—giving it more time to take hold of the meat). Place dutch oven over a high flame and add the oil. Once the oil is about smoking, drop the pork on in. Sear on all sides for 20-30 seconds (or so) each.

Add 2 cups of the red chile to the pork (it does not have to be finished), turn oven down to 225, and cook for 1.5-2hrs.

Check it about half way through, and flip meat over. Once it’s cooked and cooled slightly, drain the liquid and set aside, skim as much fat as possible as it cools. Place pork on a cutting board and tear apart using 2 forks. Toss pulled meat back in pot and add a ladle full of chile, (you can use the liquid you just took out of the pork, which is now deliciously porky red chile sauce). You don’t want it to be soupy, or too gooey. Your end result should be be dry enough to be clump-able—it needs to hold its shape. Finally, place pot over low flame, leaving it uncovered to dry the filling out a bit/really incorporate the chile sauce. Reserve for future tamale making…

to be continued…

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From Dish Erin:

It was 5 degrees today in NYC. 5! I saw a polar bear hanging out on 7th street today on my way home tonight and thought, I have to get out of here. As I perused the super market aisles tonight I decided I needed a gastronomic vacation to somewhere warm. At that very moment a delightful man sampling olive oil from Crete asked me if I’d like to try a taste of the Greek Isles. Why yes, Nico, I would! In fact, I’d like to cook something so delicious and otherworldly that I completely forget that I’m living in the arctic tundra right now where things like this happen in my hood.

I love Greek food. It’s unfussy and every dish has a convivial simplicity to it. I’ve tried my hand at a lot of it, lamb kabobs, spanakopita, stuffed grape leaves, tsatziki…and I can eat my weight in Kalamata olives. Tonight I tested the classic but never-before-attempted shrimp saganaki, a fairly simple but hearty dish of shrimp baked in tomatoes and feta cheese. I added my own spin by adding a little spinach–which allowed me to adhere to my strict one-pot dinner rule on Mondays. Saganaki apparently gets it’s name from the type of dish it’s baked and served in (usually a little ‘crock’ or skillet). You could totally cook it in a saute pan and serve on a plate, but a little personal pot is so much more fun.

Let’s go to Greece.

You will need:
*A small, oven safe ‘casserole’ dish, the exact size you’d need for a personal chicken pot pie, or a small au gratin or cast iron dish.
*4 jumbo shrimp, deveined and peeled
1/4 cup white wine
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
2-3 cloves garlic, mined
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced very thin into half moons
3-4 kalamata olives, minced finely almost into a ‘paste’
A heaping handful of baby spinach
1/2 can of diced tomatoes
Oregano, thyme (fresh or dried, your pick)
Lemon wedge
Crumbled feta
Chopped parsley for topping

*My saucy lil husband was at class tonight, so I was cooking for one. Just double this recipe for 2, triple for 3 and well…you get the idea.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Marinate the shrimp in the wine and a bit of salt and pepper. (While this is marinating, you can mince the garlic and onion and prep the ingredients.)

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple shakes of red pepper flakes over medium heat. Add the shrimp and the marinade to the pan. Cook the shrimp 1 minute, then flip to the other side and cook 1 minute more.

Remove shrimp from the pan with tongs and place into a little oven safe dish. Layer them on the bottom of the pan on their sides. (You can remove the tails if you like, I think it provides more flavor and I’m lazy so I leave them on.)

Add the garlic and onion to the pan and sweat until translucent. Add the olive ‘paste’, herbs, and stir. Then add the tomatoes and spinach, squeeze a wedge of lemon and stir to incorporate completely. Add more salt and pepper to taste but keep in mind that you’re going to add feta cheese add the end so don’t over salt now.

Turn off the heat and pour the entire mixture over the shrimp. Top with crumbled feta cheese and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has gotten gooey and the casserole is bubbling.

Serve with chopped parsley and enjoy with a glass of wine and a beautiful, glowing vista of Mykonos. Opa!

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From Dish Nicole:

It seems as though Dish Paige and I are on the same page this January. I too have been craving the comfort foods of winter and decided to make an old classic: Mac and Cheese! (Mine being a much less healthy version.) After living in Brooklyn for over 3 years I have come to adore it and have sort of become a Brooklyn snob. Actually it didn’t take 3 years for my love to develop. I like to think that Brooklyn has the best coffee shops, bagels, and restaurants in all of New York City and I don’t think that I am alone in that belief. Knowing my fondness for Brooklyn and eating in its wonderful establishments, my loving boyfriend bought me The New Brooklyn Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from 31 Restaurants That Put Brooklyn on the Culinary Map. I of course was thrilled and couldn’t wait to try some of my favorite dishes. I figured most of them would be complicated in that “this took hours and hours to prep and cook by Brooklyn’s best Chefs” sort of way. I happen to frequent one of the restaurants featured in the book quite often: Dumont. I decided I would start with an all time favorite, Dumont’s famous Dumac and cheese. The results are always amazing and definitely not for the faint of heart or stomach. Of course the recipe they provide is PERFECT but you can always add extras to make it your own.

What you need:
2 cups whole milk
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
1 pound pasta: elbow, radiatore or fusilli (which is what I chose)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup flour
½ pound Gruyère, grated and divided
½ pound extra sharp cheddar, grated and divided
¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper as needed

Fresh parsley to garnish
Thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg

(Note: before starting the mac and cheese process I pre-cooked the bacon until crisp and set it aside.)

First thing’s first: you can start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees and cooking the pasta in salted water. The book recommends cooking only until its al dente. At the same time, heat the milk and cream in a sauce pan over medium heat until warm. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside in a bowl and toss with olive oil. Next, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until it is smooth. The mixture should look golden brown. Slowly add in the warmed milk mixture and whisk until smooth, being careful not to let it burn. At this point you can add salt and pepper to your liking. I chose to add in nutmeg and found it really enhanced the flavor. Turn the heat to low and slowly add in ½ of the Gruyère and ½ of the cheddar. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Now that the sauce is done, add the pasta to the mixture and coat completely. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a buttered baking dish or gratin dish. I chose to use my extra large cast iron skillet. Add the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs to the top of the mac and cheese and cook for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. The end result should be browned and bubbling.

Garnish with parsley and bacon and enjoy with a nice glass of wine! It’s a very heavy dish so invite over friends to help you feast. I have to say that I was impressed at how closely my attempt tasted like Dumont’s. I guess I will have to go back again soon just to be sure!

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From Dish Rachelle:

I always love East Coast winter up until New Year’s, when the snow and bitter cold feel like pillars of the holiday season. It’s only after January 1st that the cold, hard, reality sets in. While Santa and his reindeer are in hibernation, the rest of us are slogging through the slush and fighting freezing winds to get to work on time, only to emerge from the office well after dark. If it sounds depressing – well, it kinda is. Which is why I decided to make a summery dish with a twist, featuring a bright winter ingredient. Citrus fruits always strike me as paradoxical: they taste like the tropics but they’re best in the coldest months of the year when, incidentally, we need that extra dose of vitamin C. To lift my spirits, I splurged on some decidedly out-of-season ingredients like grape tomatoes and an avocado, to bring the flavor of summer into my Brooklyn kitchen.

Ingredients (makes 4 tacos):

For Grapefruit salsa:
1 grapefruit, supremed, reserving the remaining “guts” for juice
an equal measure of grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
1/2 ripe avocado, cut into small squares
1 jalapeno (remove ribs and seeds for mild salsa)
2 tablespoons parsley or cilantro, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

Cut grapefruit wedges into smaller pieces, and drop them into a bowl. Add red onion, avocado*, jalapeno, herbs and fresh ginger. Squeeze the grapefruit “guts” over the mixture and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir and let stand for an hour before serving.

*To easily remove flesh from an avocado, cut it in half and with the skin still on, score it in a checkerboard pattern with a butter knife. Then simply scoop the flesh from the rind over a bowl.

For tacos:
~1 lb. firm whitefish (I used tilapia)
Spice mix: oregano, cumin, cayenne, S&P

Fixings: small corn or flour tortillas, spinach leaves (chiffoned), radish slices, sour cream

Season fish generously with spices and rub it into the surface. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat, and cook fish a few minutes per side.

Heat tortillas one after another over high heat and distribute fish among warm tortillas. Spoon a serving of grapefruit salsa over the fish, then garnish with radish slices, sliced spinach and a dollop of sour cream. Eat in a tank top in a nicely heated apartment and pretend you’re in Mexico.

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From Dish Paige!:

A while ago there was, shall we say, an abundance of books about how you can take regular, ordinary, kid-friendly food and hide veggies in them to up the healthy quotient? I won’t say any more about it, because the people who wrote those books seem to be, shall we say, somewhat litigious. Anyway, at the time I didn’t really understand the point, but I just realized that it’s THE BEST IDEA EVER because during these frigid times, all I want is mac and cheese and I feel like I should be eating more vegetables. Viola! Macaroni and Some Cheese featuring cauliflower as the secret ingredient. Disclaimer: I have no idea if a similar recipe to this is used in either of those aforementioned books, or any variation of it. I thought of it at the supermarket, please don’t sue me.

1 box of your macaroni of choice (I like the curliest possible shape)
1 quart skim milk
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar
1/2 cup shredded Romano cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.
Cook the macaroni to al dente, and set aside.
Meanwhile, par boil the cauliflower – in a medium pot, combine the quart of milk, cauliflower, nutmeg and some salt & pepper (to your liking), and bring to a simmer. Cook until a knife inserted in the stem meets little resistance.

Blend the ingredients in the pot (I recommend a HAND MIXER!!!!), then add in the shredded cheddar and about 3/4 of the Romano cheese. Simmer until the mixture begins to thicken. Add in the cooked macaroni, transfer to a baking dish and top with the remaining Romano cheese.

Melt the butter in a small skillet, then add the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Spoon the breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni…

and then bake in the oven for about half an hour or until the breadcrumbs are nice and brown.

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From Dish Amelia:

I was just home in New Mexico which is still enchanting since the last time, and coming back to Brooklyn takes me days to settle in. This first week of the year I’ve been reflecting, New Year dreaming, and being thankful for the gifts of 2010. I used some storytelling ingredients in this dessert, and having a bite of it is like a reconfigured version of home; It could very well be a reconfigured version of me, I am so wired in with these flavors. And so I made a sundae with ingredients are from New Mexico, New York and Mexico.

My dad gave me the piñon nuts when I was there last time. He likely gathered them on the side of the road or in the yard. The honey was given to me by my dear friend who ambitiously started keeping bees for the first time last year, and I bought the vanilla at a tiny organic market in Oaxaca City, Mexico in October. I bought the red chile in Santa Fe at the boot and shoe repair, which is for some reason one of the best places to get it. I love the places these special components come from, and I am transported when they come together.

Piñon nuts are pine nuts that fall from the Piñon pine tree that dots the landscape of northern New Mexico. It seems to me they are shorter and often rounder than some other pine nuts, and have irregular facets. They are very earthy and oily and have a wonderful strong flavor that slides up towards you.

If your dad gives you a baggie of piñon nuts in their shells, here’s what you can do. (besides cracking them with your teeth and eating them). Go through them. They should look like they’ve already been though a fire, and take out busted or shady looking ones.

Lay them out on a tea towel, and cover them with another. Roll over them with a rolling pin and hear a breakbeat as you crush them.

Carefully extract the nuts from the broken shells. Toast them in a cast iron pan until they are a shade darker and become fragrant.

For Piñon Honey Vanilla Ice Cream:

1/2- 1 cup of New Mexican piñon nuts (or pine nuts from other regions)
1/4 cup plus a Tablespoon or two honey
1/4 cup plus a tablespoon or two sugar
2 large eggs
1 yolk from a large egg
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Put the milk and cream in a saucepan and add the vanilla pods and scraped goo. Heat on low for a long while, but don’t let it boil. Leave the vanilla to steep for 45 minutes.

Put the nuts, sugar and honey in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add eggs and blend. Remove the pods.

Take a cup from the hot milk (steaming) and pour it slowly into the food processor while it is running. Put all of this into pot with the rest of the vanilla cream. Heat on low and stir gently until the plot thickens. When it is noticeably slower and silky looking, and with no eggy bits, strain into a clean bowl, and give it an ice bath (or in my case a cold water bath since I had no ice, just to cool it down enough to put it in the fridge to chill.

When cold, run it through the ice cream maker and it will yield a quart or so.

For Red Chile Caramel:

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
scant 1/4 cup honey (or agave syrup)
3/4 cup cream
5 T butter
2 tsp New Mexican ground red chile
pinch of salt

Put the sugar, honey and water in a saucepan. Cook on medium until amber. (If you use honey it is sort of already amber, so you can use a thermometer, but I just watched it till it took on more color and the bubbles themselves looked more gold than clear).

Remove from heat and add cream. Heat gently and stir together. Add butter. When butter is melted, let sauce cook down a bit, then add salt and red chile. Cook a bit more, then remove and cool.

Caramel needs to be at room temp to serve, otherwise store in the fridge. This makes about a pint.

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ED’s note: due to some internet-related problems, Saucy Little Dish was unable to post this entry before the holidays. No matter – it’s never too late for cookies and Christmas cheer!

From Dish Gwen:

For the past three years I’ve made a very large batch of cookies to give as gifts to my neighbors and family, so now it’s a tradition. There’s nothing particularly Christmas-y about these three kinds of cookies but they’re delicious and they look nice together packed in tissue paper and tupperware. They’re relatively easy to make, but I recommend inviting over a friend to help roll dough, drink eggnog and listen to “Bing Crosby White Christmas” radio on Pandora with you.

Cookie #1: Peanut Blossoms
1 3/4 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp of soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tblsp. milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 bag of Hershey’s Kisses

Heat oven to 375
Mix sugar and all of the wet ingredients in a stand mixer, and mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry mix into the wet mixture while stirring, and blend until smooth and consistent. Roll the dough into 1 inch to 1 ½ inch balls, roll the balls in sugar and lay them on a cookie sheet (they will not spread much so you can lay them out with just an inch or two between each ball). Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, and while baking unwrap the kisses. Take out the cookies and squish one kiss into each cookie while they’re still hot. Let them cool before you serve or pack them, so the chocolate can firm up.

Cookie #2: Sugar Cookies with Jam
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
Strawberry or raspberry jam

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter or cup with sharp edges to cut into 2 ½ inch to 3 inch rounds, and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Stamp the center of each cookie with a bottle cap or other flat circular object (you want to make a 1 inch round indentation in the top of the cookies), and dollop about a teaspoon of jam onto each cookie. Bake until the dough turns light gold and let the cookies cool before serving.

Cookie #3: Walnut Balls
1 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely chopped walnuts
powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture. Mix well, then stir in walnuts. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 12 to 15 minutes. When still warm but cool enough to handle, roll the balls in a bowl of powdered sugar so that each cookie is well-coated and white.

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