Monday, January 25, 2010

Chilaquiles rock!


Started off by making more injera for my pretend babies. I love these kids so much. I know they are my neighbors but I adore them. In exchange for the injera I got my first snowman made for me by Habtamu. He shared it with his sis too. So now when I open my front door this is what I see


This weekend was cold and I wanted something comforting. I have been dying for Mexican food and I must say that coming from California what passes for Mexican food here in New England doesn't cut it for me. Dr Food and I make our own. I wanted warm and gooey with cheese and crunch. I also love tomatillos and so this recipe was perfect.


Check out the color of this sauce. How can that not make you jump up and down and giggle.

Fried up some tortilla strips to go into this dish


Then there was cheese. I can't tell you how much I love cheese. Why oh why couldn't it take the place of fruit in the healthy rankings?


You put it all together and get this:


Dr. Food made some beans and it was a fantastic weekend splurge.


Daisy Martinez

Makes 6 servings For the sauce:

1 ½ pounds tomatillos
1 medium Spanish onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup (loosely packed) mint leaves
1 bunch cilantro, stems and all, very roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
1 jalapeƱo, cored and seeded
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons, or as needed, fine sea or kosher salt
3 cups shredded cooked chicken, turkey, pork, beef or whatever makes you happy
Ten 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 2-inch wide strips
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan, manchego or cotijo cheese
Remove the papery covering from the tomatillos and cut out the cores. Cut the tomatillos into 2-inch or so chunks.

Blend the tomatillos at low speed until liquidy. Add the onion and blend until smooth. Add the mint and cilantro and blend until the herbs are finely chopped. Finally, add the jalapeno and garlic and blend until smooth. Pour the liquid into a heavy, medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering.

Cook until the sauce is thickened slightly about 20 minutes. Set aside ½ cup sauce and stir the shredded chicken into the remaining sauce. Add 2 teaspoons salt or salt to taste.

Heat the oven to 350° F. Pour about ¼ inch of vegetable oil into a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip a corner of one of the tortilla strips into the oil; when it gives off a lively sizzle the oil is ready. Add as many of the tortilla strips as fit without overlapping to the pan. Fry the tortillas, turning once until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.

Butter a deep (at least 2 ½ inches deep) 9 x 11-inch casserole/baking dish. Make a layer of the fried tortilla strips over the bottom. It doesn’t matter if the layer is perfectly even or not, just be sure to cover the bottom. Spoon half of the sauce and chicken over the tortillas. Top that with 1/3 cup each of the jack and Manchego or Parmesan cheese. Make another layer of the tortillas, sauce and cheeses. Top with another layer of tortillas and spread with the remaining sauce. Top with remaining cheeses.

Bake until the edges of the casserole are bubbling and the top layer of cheese is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Firemen rock and they can cook too!


It was a snowy day yesterday.


No sunny day with the top down and the wind blowing through anyones hair around here.

I decided a fire in the fireplace was the answer.


What to make for dinner? Something warm and comforting. So, I pawed through some cookbooks and found my Firehouse Foods-Cooking with San Francisco Firefighters. I have a soft spot for firefighters. Long ago they came to our aid when my daughter was in a life threatening accident. They filled my house and took over when I didn't know what to do. I love these men and women that are so competent.

When we lived in Northern California Dr Food and I won an auction that was a dinner at the firehouse that the firefighters cooked for 10 of us. They picked us up in a Limo and took us to the Fire Chiefs house where we had cocktails and snacks. We then went over to the firehouse where they cooked us an amazing dinner. We then got to play around with all the fire gear (I swear I was like a 5 year old) and got to see demonstrations and tour the firehouse. After that we took the limo to a jazz club and hung out with the fire chief.

So last night when I pulled out this recipe from this cookbook I thought of how thankful I am for these amazing professionals.
I didn't have a dalmation sitting by me but I did have my freckle face Saint Bernard by my side waiting for a tasty morsel to drop.


Chicken Giovacchini was the name of this dish and it was chicken with chicken liver and mushroom pilaf. It was really tasty.


Chicken Giovacchini
Firehouse Food

Chicken Liver and Mushroom Pilaf
3 Tbl butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 chicken livers (about 12 oz), chopped
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 C converted long-grain rice
3 C chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (about 3 lb total)
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C olive oil
1/2 C dry sherry
1/4 C chopped parsley for garnish
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges, for garnish

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350 F.

To prepare pilaf: In a large, heavy saucepan on Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken livers and mushrooms. Cook until the livers are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the gains evenly in the butter. Add the broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil while stirring; cover and place in the oven. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the broth has been absorbed. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the cheese.

While the pilaf is cooking, prepare the chicken: With a meat pounder or heavy skillet, pound each chicken breast between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Mix the flour with the garlic salt, salt, and pepper on a plate. Dredge each chicken breast in mixture, shaking off excess.

Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook 3 of the chicken breasts until golden brown on each side, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Pour half of the sherry over the chicken and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Wipe the pan with a paper towel and repeat the process with the remaining 3 chicken breasts.

Serve the chicken breasts with the pilaf on the side and garnish each plate with chopped parsley and a lemon wedge.

I love you firefighters!

Friday, January 15, 2010

So simple yet so good!


I love Donna Hay. She takes basic ingredients and makes something that taste wonderful. So last nights dinner was Garlic Chickpeas with Cumin Fried Fish. It was a perfect weeknight dish.

Garlic chickpeas with cumin fried fish
Off the Shelf
Donna Hay

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, shredded
1 tablespoon shredded lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper

Cumin fried fish:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped – I didn’t have any at home
4 x 200g firm white-fleshed fish, cut into pieces

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the oil, leeks and lemon zest, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes or until the leeks are golden and a little crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes or until heated through. Stir through the parsley and salt.

To cook the fish, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, cumin and chilli and cook for 3 minutes. Add the fish to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until just cooked through.

Place the chickpeas on serving plates, place the fish on the side and serve with a lime wedge.

I see a lamb in our future for this weekend. I am staying off the pork for a while.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Feijoida I love you!


There are very few ethnic foods that we haven't tried our hand at. It was Sunday and it was COLD. What would be fun to make? We talked it over and decided to go with Brazilian food. We are lucky to live around lots of great Brazilian markets and restaurants here. There is a large population of Brazilian's so we have all the ingredients at our fingertips for once. I thought about Feijoida which I knew was the national dish there. I had a recipe from "Daisy Cooks" by Daisy Martinez.

I warn you that there is a LOT of pork products in this dish and it is heavy and high on calories, but once in a while you just have to go for it!

It calls for pig trotters so we headed over to the Brazilian market for pork belly, trotters, and slab bacon (I warned you).


Yummm pork belly


Slow cooking was the name of the game.


So added that with black beans and rice and some farofa and the meal was amazing.


I think my favorite part of Brazilian food is the Farofa but Dr Food would most certainly disagree with me.


I made this with sauteed onions and an egg scrambled up in there (ya know how I feel about eggs).

I recommend this dinner highly.

Daisy Martinez
(Printable Recipe)
2 trotters (pig's feet) split
1C white vinegar
1 1/2 one-pound bags black beans
1 smoked ham hock
3 bay leaves
3 leaves culantro or 1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/4 lbs slab bacon rind removed and cut into 8 pieces
1 1/2 lbs pork belly, cut into about 4 pieces
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 1/4lb andouille, chorizo, or any other pork sausage (spicy is good)

1. Place the trotters in a bowl large enough to hold them comfortably. Pour in enough cold water to cover them completely. Add the vinegar. Let stand 30 minutes or so, then drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water.

2. Put the trotters, beans, ham hock, bay leaves, and culantro in a large (at least 12 qts), heavy pot. Pour enough col water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to simmering. Skim off any foam that rises to the top as the beans cook. Cook for 1 hour.

3. Pour 1/2 C water over the bacon in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the water has evaporated and the bacon begins to cook in its fat. Lower the heat slightly and cook, turning, untiul the bacon is browned. Set the bacon aside, but leave the fat in the pan.

4. While the bacon is cooking, season the pork belly with salt and pepper. Once the bacon has been removed, add the pork belly pieces to the bacon fat and cook, turning often, until well browned on all sides, about 15 minutes.

5. Place the bacon, pork belly, and sausage in the pot after the beans have been cooking for 1 hour. Continue cooking until the beans and meats are tender, about 1 hour.

6. Transfer the meats to a carving board, cut them into slices, and arrange them on a platter. Spoon the beans into a serving bowl. White rice is a must with this dish.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holy Smoke!


I had been begging for the Smoking Gun for quite some time. Dr. Food finally bought it for me for Xmas. What great fun. So last night I decided to smoke some salmon for dinner.

I simply seasoned it with some lemon pepper and a bit of olive oil and shoved it under the broiler. Then the smoking began!


It comes with shavings in hickory and applewood. We used the applewood.


It only takes 3 minutes and voila! Your fish, meat or anything else you can think of is smoked. It works great.


Can't wait to try it on more unusual things like cocktails and cheeses.

Another happy surprise was a package from my adorable kid Annie and my son in law Tim. They were in Spain and collected a Xmas gift there to send to me.


There was bee pollen (I used to feed it to Annie when she was a kid so it is kind of a "thing" with us), and honey, and saffron, and honey wine, and paella seasoning. When I opened the box it really smelled like Europe to me. What an incredible gift. I loved loved loved all of it!

and last but not least, I opened my email today and found that I had won something.

The Foodie Blog Roll Contests: Winner!

It was Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day Cookbook. Right up MY alley!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pace Picante Bloody Mary... I had a dream


As I said in my last post, I was sent 2 jars of Pace Picante by Foodbuzz as part of the "Tastemaker" program. I told you what my first idea was. So, I had another jar of Pace Picante (mild) to play around with another recipe. Being the "little bit weird" person that I have been called, I actually dreamt of this recipe. When I woke up I passed it by Dr. Food, who I thought would be revolted by it. Not at all. He called me brilliant. This is what it is:

16 oz Pace Picante (Mild)
7 oz Vodka
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3/4 C water
1/2 to 1 lime

Whir up in blender and serve over ice.

I decided that maybe Dr. Food was just being nice so I invited our neighbor Jeff to give it a try. Not that Jeff isn't nice, but he is VERY honest. He loved it! A recipe was born. I suggest you try it. It will make you smile.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pace Picante Ceviche!


I am part of Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program. I received two free jars of Pace Picante Sauce to test out in recipes that I came up with. As luck has it I came up with two of them. I tested them out on family and friends and got a 2 thumbs up. So, here is the first one..

Pace Shrimp Ceviche

1 16oz jar Pace Picante Sauce (Medium heat)
1lb 41/50 Count Cooked Shrimp
1/2 C White Onion chopped and rinsed
1/2 C Lime juice
1/2 C Cilantro
1 Avocado diced
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 C diced Cucumber

Combine shrimp and lime juice and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Mix Pace Picante Sauce, onion, cilantro, avocado, cucumber and olive oil. Add marinated shrimp along with any juice that is in bowl.

Serve with tortilla chips.


Stay tuned for "Pace revisited" coming tomorrow.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years Cassoulet was a success!


So, it came to D day with the cassoulet. Up early to do the 90 last steps to prepare this dish. Meantime we did some shopping and 160.00 later I scored an Emile Henry dish to make the cassoulet in. I was pretty sneaky because I have eyed this item for a long time and then talked Dr. Food into it by making him think it was HIS idea.

So it all started with soaking salt pork and pork skin to make them supple.


Of course I was armed with plenty of duck fat (because there wasn't enough FAT in all the pork that goes on in this dish)


Ham hocks were involved here too


Lots of stirring and browning


Duck confit that we did days before came out perfect


Meantime I baked a bread


After about 30 more steps into the oven it went


Made a simple salad because I couldn't imagine any more food being served


and there you have it


I did make a phyllo and blueberry dessert. I just happened to have 10lbs of blueberries in the freezer from berry picking in the summer.


If you dare:

Toulouse-Style Cassoulet
Recipe by Paula Wolfert

2 fresh ham hocks
1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
6 ounces fresh pork skin with 1/4 inch of fat attached
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds dried Tarbais or cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed
2 ounces salt pork, skin removed
1/3 cup duck fat (see Note)
3 small carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium onions, diced
One 5-ounce piece of pancetta
One 5-ounce piece of prosciutto
1 head of garlic, unpeeled, plus 4 small garlic cloves, peeled
1 large plum tomato, chopped
2 quarts plus two cups chicken broth
Bouquet garni: 4 parsley sprigs, 3 small celery ribs, 2 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf, tied with string
6 duck confit legs (see Note)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound French-style fresh pork sausages, such as saucisses de Toulouse, pricked with a fork
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Put the ham hocks, pork shoulder cubes and skin in a large dish; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In a bowl, cover the beans with 3 inches of water and soak overnight.

2. The next day, in a medium saucepan, cover the salt pork and the seasoned skin with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over moderate heat until the skin is supple, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool. Refrigerate the salt pork. Cut the pork skin into 5 long pieces, roll each piece into a bundle and tie with string.

3. Dry the ham hocks and pork shoulder cubes with a paper towel. In a very large, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the duck fat. Add half of the pork cubes and cook over moderately high heat until lightly browned all over; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining pork cubes. Add the ham hocks to the casserole and brown them lightly. Add the carrots and onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, about 7 minutes. Add the pancetta and brown it lightly. Add the prosciutto, the head of garlic and the tomato and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 quarts of the broth, the bouquet garni, pork skin bundles and the browned pork and its juices and bring to a boil. Cover the casserole and gently simmer the ragout over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

4. Drain the beans. In a large saucepan, cover the beans with water and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer the beans for 3 minutes, then drain. Add the beans to the ragout and simmer until the beans are just tender, about 2 hours. Let the ragout cool, then refrigerate overnight.

5. Remove as much of the solidified fat as you can from the surface of the ragout; reserve 1/4 cup of the fat. Let the ragout return to room temperature. Pick out the ham hocks, pancetta and prosciutto. Cut the meats into bite-size pieces; discard the bones, skin and gristle. Pick out the pork skin bundles and the head of garlic and reserve. Discard the bouquet garni.

6. Preheat the oven to 400°. Bring the ragout to a simmer. Cut the blanched salt pork into small pieces. Squeeze the cooked garlic cloves into a food processor. Add the salt pork and the raw garlic cloves and process to a smooth paste. Stir the paste into the ragout and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in all of the cooked and cured meats.

7. Meanwhile, arrange the duck confit legs in a baking dish and roast just until heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove the meat from the bones in large pieces. Cut the skin into strips. Discard the bones.

8. Turn the oven down to 325°. Untie and unroll the pork skin bundles. Line the bottom of a 5- to 6-quart earthenware casserole with the pork skin, fat side down. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer half of the ragout to the earthenware casserole. Top with the duck confit in an even layer, then cover with the rest of the ragout. Add the remaining 2 cups of broth to the cooking liquid in the cast-iron casserole and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour the liquid over the ragout and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the reserved skimmed fat. Bake the cassoulet for 1 1/2 hours.

9. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet. Add the sausages and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over. Let cool, then cut the sausages into 3-inch pieces.

10. Reduce the oven temperature to 275°. Gently stir in the skin that has formed on the cassoulet. Nestle in the sausages and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of reserved fat. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake the cassoulet for 1 hour longer, until it is richly browned on the surface. Transfer to a cloth-lined rack and let rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

The cassoulet can be prepared through Step 6 up to 3 days ahead. Let cool, then refrigerate. Bring the ragout and beans to room temperature before proceeding.
The cassole can be ordered from; duck fat and confit legs from; Tarbais beans and Toulouse-style sausages from