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Friday, September 13, 2013

Chicken and Veggie Chilaquiles with Poblano Avocado Cream


I love to make chilaquiles because it's a delicious use of leftover meat and vegetables. This 'Mexican lasagna' is a multi-layer flavor extravaganza. I made this tonight with what I had in the fridge and included this new addition of the avocado and poblano cream is based on one of my favorite restaurant meals ever - Besito's Budin de Mariscos with crab and shrimp. On that note, you can pretty much substitute any ingredient in this dish - seafood, veggies, even use corn tortillas instead of flour.

Chilaquiles
1 chicken breast, shredded
1 cup of your favorite salsa (just please friends, no Tostitos)
1/2 package of shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 zucchini, grated and squeezed dry through a paper towel (just make sure its of decent quality)
1 cup of kale, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 mushrooms, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Poblano Avocado Cream
2 poblano peppers
1 jalapeno, de-seeded, de-veined
1/3 cup sour cream
2 avocados
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Roast the poblanos for about 20 minutes (turn once half way through) or until they start to blister and get soft. Once they cool, remove the stem and all seeds. Turn oven down to 375.

3. Saute the onion and garlic on medium with a bit of olive oil until onions soften. Add the kale and stir frequently until the kale softens. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

4. In the same pan, saute the mushrooms and set aside. Add the chicken and 3/4 of the salsa. Let it simmer to evaporate some of the juices. Turn off the heat.

5. Spray a deep dish (one you would use for lasagna) with baking spray. Spoon a bit of salsa on the bottom of the dish just to cover. Put down a layer of tortillas. Add some of the chicken mixture to form a layer. Add the mushrooms and then sprinkle some cheese over. Lay more tortillas on top, then more chicken, then the zucchini, and more cheese. Lay more tortillas, more chicken if you have it, then the kale mixture and a little cheese. Lay a final layer of tortillas and spoon the rest of the salsa on top (this will prevent the top layer from getting hard). Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top (and a little extra if you want!). Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins.

6. Meanwhile, in a food processor, add all of the cream ingredients with a good bit of salt and pepper.

7. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the avocado cream on the plate and swirl it with a spoon to spread it out in an even layer/circle on the plate. Serve the chilaquiles on top.
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Ricotta Omelets with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Eggs are my go-to fast meal, especially for dinner. When I don't have any meat or if I don't feel like cooking, nothing like a frittata with some random veggies or a nice fluffy omelet (made Grandma's way - stay tuned) for protein. This is a great, easy recipe from Bon Appetit. The tomatoes are sooo good and could be used on just about anything. Also, who thought to put ricotta in an omelete? Genius!

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 tbsp chives, chopped

Omelet:
3 tbsp butter
4 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 tbsp ricotta (or make/use your own!!)
2 tbsp Parmesan
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

1. Cut half of the tomatoes in half. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often and until softened.

2. Add the tomatoes and cook until they release their juices. Mash some of the tomatoes with a spoon. Add 1 tbsp vinegar and the rest of the oil. Season with salt and pepper, add the chives and let cool, slightly.

3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in the beaten eggs and cook until almost cooked through, spreading eggs completely over the pan.

4. Top the eggs with the ricotta, cheese, basil and chives. Fold 1/3 of omelet toward center, and fold the other 1/3 toward center.

5. Serve with warm tomatoes on top.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Wow...June since my last post?! I've been slacking. But actually I've been a little busy with work and lots of travel across the country: AZ, VI (yes, VIRGIN ISLANDS), CT, WV, IN, CA, NE, NC, DC, CO, and NY!)

It's summer! And you all know that we generally stick to simple, easy grilling in the summer. Lots of chicken, corn, and salad. My creative juices haven't been flowing...

So, Paddy's playing a gig up in NH tonight and I'm watching the Sox kill the Yankees again (GO SOX!). It's a good night to hit you with a bunch of new ideas. This beef and broccoli recipe came from a blog called appetiteforchina.com. I looked it up a looooong time ago and made it this summer when we had extra steak tips. This is a good one.

1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced (or leftover grilled tips, like I used)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp canola oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 cups broccolini
Jasmine rice (as much as needed)

The Sauce
 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp chili paste (optional)

1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the soy, sesame, rice wine and cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the beef and marinate at room temperature for 10-30 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside.

3. Heat a large pan over high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and coat the pan. Add the beef and spread so that it's cooking in a single layer. Allow it to sear for just a minute or two, untouched. Give it a quick stir and sear for another minute. Transfer to plate and set aside. (If you're using leftovers, marinate if needed or just throw in at the end to heat through)

4. Put another tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the garlic, ginger, and shallots and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and cook for another minute. Pour in the sauce and continue to cook while stirring for another minute.

5. Return the beef to the pan. Give it a stir.

Serve with rice.

Corn Lovers' Potato Salad

It's corn season! We've been eating it every night. Usually steamed, but often grilled. I love charred, grilled corn. It reminds me of walking through downtown Bamako in Mali after a day at school and going to catch my bus home. Women line the edges of the side streets, crouched down over small charcoal grills, turning their corn over the hot coals. The best kind of snack.

These days, I'll grill up a bunch and bring a cob to work to munch on as a snack. But warning - have floss ready. Getting corn in your teeth is a whole other story when: 1) the corn is black, and 2) you're at work. Awkward smiles at meetings. Trust me folks.

1 bunch or about 1 lb of small baby potatoes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup charred corn (shuck the corn and put directly on high heat grill, turn occasionally)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup cilantro
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1. Place potatoes in medium saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain.

2. Heat a large skilled over medium high heat. Add the oil. Add the potatoes and tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes. Add the corn and cook another minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Transfer to a bowl and mix in cilantro and cheese.

Vegetable Risotto with Poached Eggs

Ok...confession. I have been putting poached eggs on everything lately. We have them for breakfast but they're been pretty popular on the dinner plate too - on grilled asparagus, over stir fry, with grits (such as this butternut squash and sausage hash), and this risotto is a good one. Never thought of an egg as a meal enhancer but I'm a believer now! (Stay tuned for my chorizo and fried egg tacos...YUM!).

People think that risotto is hard to make or that it takes a really long time. It doesn't. And it's a nice change from pasta and not as heavy as you'd think if you make it with some nice, fresh veggies.

4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white part thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup peas
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
(or any vegetables that you want to use!)
3/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 eggs

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the broth over medium-high heat and keep hot on the stove.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and oil. When hot, add the leeks, fennel, zucchini and squash and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms are soft.

3. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the rice toasts a little. Add the wine and let simmer and reduce until mostly absorbed/evaporated.

4.Add a ladle of chicken broth and stir occasionally, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Then add another ladle of broth, stir until absorbed, and add more. Continue this process until all broth has been added and all has been absorbed. It should take about 20 minutes or so.

5. Add the peas.

6. Heat about 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan until it boils. Turn down to medium or a veeeery gentle simmer. Add the vinegar. Working with one egg at a time - if you have a small ramekin, crack the egg into the ramekin and then gently transfer egg to water (the ramekin will help the egg stay together). If you don't have one, very gently crack the egg into the water. Let them sit still for about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the egg to a plate with a paper towel.

7. Add the cheese to the risotto, give it one last stir and serve with poached egg on top.