Wednesday, January 28, 2009

chicken enchiladas

The other night I had a hankering for a casserole-like dish, but also for something resembling a burrito (I always want a burrito, you see). Voila! Enchiladas. I remember wanting to try this recipe in Everyday Food. Of course, I had to add beans, because beans=love. I also added some of that pesky ham that I can't seem to use up. This was such a good winter night dish, and a great dish if you want something that will make good leftovers and/or freeze well. Spicy, warming comfort food without a whole lot of guilt. This was my first time making enchiladas and I now realize I need to make enchiladas far more often. The possibilities are endless!!

Chicken, Bean and Ham Enchiladas

-about 1 cup of chicken stock, plus water to make 1 inch in a pan
-2 whole cloves of garlic
-2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
-1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 jalepeno pepper, minced
-about 1 cup of finely chopped ham
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 shallot, chopped fine
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 to 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotles in adobo
-about 14 ounces of chicken stock
-1/2 cup water
-10 corn tortillas (6-inch)
-1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

In a pan with a tight-fitting lid, bring 1 inch of chicken stock with 2 whole cloves of garlic to a boil. Add chicken. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes; remove from heat. Let chicken steam, covered, until opaque throughout, 12 to 14 minutes. Shred chicken with 2 forks, and place in a bowl with the beans, ham and jalepeno.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add garlic and shallots; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add flour, cumin, and chipotles in adobo; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and 1/2 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, until sauce has thickened slightly, 5 to 8 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1 cup sauce to bowl with chicken mixture; toss to combine.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour 1/4 cup sauce into bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside. Stack tortillas, and wrap in a double layer of damp paper towels; microwave until hot, about 1 minute. Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture; roll up tightly, and arrange, seam side down, in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce, and top with cheese. Bake until hot and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Ham & Walnuts in Sage Butter

Still using up that ham! Also, I had some sweet potatoes that were begging me on their little yammy knees to be made into gnocchi. I could I say no? People, you need to pay attention to this recipe. I don't put up anything on this blog that tastes bad (unless it's hilarious), but this meal is ESPECIALLY delicious. Just sayin'. You might have gleened the tastiness factor from the fact that it contains cheese, butter, ham and nuts, but I just wanted to make sure you understood. Yum.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

-4 small sweet potaoes
-1 15 oz. tub part-skim ricotta, drained in a colander lined with paper towels for a half hour
-1 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
-1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
-2 Tblsp. brown sugar
-2 tsp. salt
-about 2 cups of AP flour, plus more for dusting

Prick potatoes with a fork and microwave until fully cooked and soft...about 10 minutes (turning once). Cut potatoes in half and let cool. Scoop out the insides and mash them well in a bowl. Add ricotta and blend well. Add the Parmesan, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar and mix well. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough forms.

Separate the dough into 4 pieces, and one at a time on a floured surface, roll each piece into a long rope, about 1 inch thick. Cut the rope into bite-size dumplings and gently roll each dumpling on the back of a fork (dip fork in flour to avoid sticking) to make ridges. Set formed gnocchi onto a sheet pan lined with parchment and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Set aside about 20 of the gnocchi for this recipe, and freeze the rest on the sheet pans for at least 1 hour before transferring them to freezer bags.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. In a couple batches, cook the gnocchi in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Ham and walnuts in sage butter

-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
-about 10-12 fresh sage leaves, minced, plus a few whole ones for garnish
-1 cup of diced ham
-a handful of walnut pieces
-cooked sweet potato gnocchi
-salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a skillet with garlic. Cook until the garlic starts to soften. Add butter, sage, ham and walnuts, and cook until the whole sage leaves are crispy and the ham is starting to brown. Add gnocchi and gently toss to coat, then heat through. Season and serve.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ham Stir-Fry

I'd like to say that I was inspired to make this ham and pineapple stir-fry by the fact that our new president (Yaaaaaay!! Woooooo!!! *happy dance happy dance* ahem...) was born in Hawaii. But the truth is, I just have an excess of ham I need to use. I was also craving rice. Yes, I crave rice. What?

Anyway, this was fun and tasty new stir-fry...sweet, salty, crunchy...and hammy!

Ham Stir-Fry

about 1 lb. of boneless ham, cut into bite-size pieces
1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
soy sauce
black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 small can of pineapple slices, cut into small pieces, juice reserved
1 small can of sliced water chestnuts, cut into small matchsticks
1 red or orange bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced

Heat oil in wok, adding the ginger and garlic before oil gets hot. Cook until ginger and garlic are fragrant and starting to soften. Add ham and toss to coat. Cook on high heat, tossing or stirring occasionally until the ham starts to brown. Dump ham out of wok onto a plate and set aside. Add onion and shallot to wok and cook for 30 seconds or so, then add a splash of pineapple juice, soy sauce, cumin, ginger, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until soft. the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Cook until the peppers just start to soften, but still have good color and crunch, adding pineapple juice as needed. Serve on jasmine rice.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Duck Stew with Turnips & Apples

A friend of mine gave me a wild duck he had killed. I was excited to cook it, though nervous due to my very first wild duck cooking disaster. After taking a week or so to decide how best to use this duckie, I decided to make him into a stew. I have been wanting to cook turnips since I had some a while back at The Scottish Arms (where they are called "Neeps" which makes me giggle). So I looked around the net for something with duck and turnips...and found this recipe. Perfect!

Here is Mr. Duckie during prep. Watch out for ammo!!

I added bacon to the original recipe, mainly so I could show off a wonderful christmas present from my friends Kelly & Ron...A piggy-shaped bacon press!!! Don't you love it!?!?!

Wild Duck Stew with Turnips and Apples

1 wild duck 

4 strips of bacon

6 cups water (or enough to mostly cover your duck in the pot)
2 cups chicken stock, if needed

2 medium onions 

1/2 head of garlic

4 medium turnips

3 granny smith apples

4 carrots 

About 2 teaspoons ground coriander
About 1 Tablespoon dried roasemary, chopped fine

Salt & Pepper to taste
All purpose flour to thicken, if desired

Chopped fresh cilantro for serving 

Cook the bacon, remove from pan, break into small pieces and set aside. Start the water over med-high heat in a large pot. Brown the duck on all sides in the bacon grease. Place the browned duck in the simmering water. Pour a bit of the hot water from the pot into the skillet and scrape the pan with a spatula, getting all the flavorful juices and brown bits from the pan. Pour them into the pot. Lower the heat and set the pot to simmer for an hour and a half or more. Remove Duck and set aside to cool. Once it's cool enough to handle pick off all the meat you can and set aside to add back into the stew later.

Add the onion, carrots, coriander, rosemary and garlic, and, if needed, add some chicken stock. Let simmer another 1/2 hour or until the onion is soft. Meanwhile peel and chop the turnips and apples into chunks. Sauté the turnips in some butter in a skillet until browned and just tender. Do the same with the apples. Add the turnips, apples, duck meat and bacon to the pot. If you want to make the stew thicker, make a slurry with flour and COLD water and add this to the pot, bringing the stew to a boil briefly. Let simmer another 5 or ten minutes then serve, garnishing with fresh cilantro.

I was hesitant about the apples at first, but I am glad I added them. However, I wish I would have cut them into smaller pieces. Other than that this stew was great! I loved the hearty flavor of the duck, and the oh-so-rich stock it made. The turnips and apples added a nice sweetness. A fantastic winter meal! Although my fur-cousin Henry expressed disappointment in my use of his kin...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bavarian-Style Stew-Vintage Cookin'!

So you may know I have this thing for vintage cookbooks. Specifically Better Homes & Gardens cookbooks from the 60's and 70's. I have highlighted portions of my collection here, here, here and here. I also love browsing vintage cookbook flickr groups, mainly Vintage Cookbooks and Mid-Century Supper Club. I love these books for their crazy photography and food styling, and for the often nasty-sounding recipes (canned chicken in lemon jello anybody?). However, not all of them are filled with condensed cream-of-mushroom-soup concoctions. I decided I needed to stop making fun of these books, and actually cook something from them.

It being winter, I went for my 1968 Better Homes & Gardens Casserole Cookbook. And actually this book has a lot of yummy-sounding comfort-food dishes that I'd totally try (and I just discovered Saveur listed it as one of their favorite casserole cookbooks!)! The recipe I chose this time was Bavarian-style stew. It caught my eye for several reasons. First, it was one of the pictured recipes. I'm a sucker for visuals! Also, the recipe was written in paragraph form. Finally, the last ingredient you ad to this beef stew is crumbs from gingersnaps! What?!? I was sold.

I followed the recipe as written...oh wait...I added garlic with those onions...and I browned the beef in butter instead of shortening. But other than is the recipe how it is written in the book:

Bavarian-Style Stew

Brown 2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1-inch cubes, in 2 tablespoons hot shortening. Add 3 cups water, 2 medium onions, sliced, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 bay leaf, and 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seed. Cover; simmer 1 hour. Add 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar. Cut 1 small head red cabbage in thin wedges; place atop meat.
Cover; simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Remove cabbage to platter. Add 1/2 cup broken gingersnaps to liquid; bring to boiling, stirring constantly. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

How was this crazy retro recipe? It was Really Good!! It was sweet and the meat was tender. The cabbage took on almost a sauerkraut like flavor, but not nearly as strong. And I loved the purple! Pretty. Maybe I outta crack open my collection more often. Now, this book is not all gems.... it also has such recipes as the "Wienie-lottas"...basically enchiladas with hot dogs as the meat. I don't know about that one...although I love the name so much I just might try it.

A comparison...not too shabby!

Friday, January 02, 2009

nutty cookies

I tried out a couple of cookie recipes over the holidays.

The first were butter pecan cookies, which I found on Simply Recipes. These bad boys were a HIT! I gave out some as gifts and left the rest for my mom. My mom would not stop talking about them. They are very good. They seem to Melt-in-your mouth...mmmmmbuttery goodness. Check out the recipe on Simply Recipes...I followed it to the tee, so there is no reason to re-post it here. I'm sure these will be a regular cast member in Iron Stef kitchen stadium.

The other cookies I tried out were Martha's Almond Spice wafers. I LOVE spicy cookies, and I love crunchy cookies. These were fun because you freeze the dough first so you can cut out thin cookies. They would make a really cute hostess gift I think, a cute little mini-loaf pan filled with frozen cookie dough.

Mine, of course, looked nothing like Martha's. I did not slice them thin enough. I should maybe keep a ruler in the kitchen. The flavor was good, and I can see the potential for a lovely crumbly crunch were they thinner. Anyway, check out the recipe on Martha's site.