June 30, 2010

Spicy Mango-Pineapple Hot Dogs




Ingredients:
8 hot dogs
8 buns

for the mango-pineapple salsa:
1 mango, cubed
1 cup cubed pineapple
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced jalapeno
juice of 1/2 lime

for the jalapeno sauce:
5 jalapenos, seeded
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 shallot
juice of 1/2 lime
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:
Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender (I used my Vita-Mix) and pulse until very smooth. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the salsa ingredients. Set aside. Broil or grill the hot dogs. Place in buns, top with the fruit salsa and drizzle with sauce.



My thoughts:
I am obsessed with reading about regional hot dog varieties. It is amazing that so many cities all over the world do so many different things to hot dogs! I've never been to Hawaii but I am already making a list of Hawaiian hot dog joints to visit when I finally get there. A common theme on the menu are fruit topped hot dogs which intrigued me. I figure if I can't go to Hawaii, at least I can have a fun hot dog. And really, these are some of the tastiest dogs around!

June 28, 2010

Rachel's Famous Chili Dogs


Ingredients:
1 lb 94% lean ground beef
15 oz tomato sauce*
15 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon cumin
hot sauce
salt
pepper

to serve:
8 hot dog buns
8 hot dogs
chopped onion (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
mustard (optional)

Directions:
Slow cooker instructions:
Brown the beef in a nonstick skillet, breaking it up into fine bits. Drain off any excess fat. Add the beef and the remaining ingredients to a 2 or 4 quart slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. If it is too wet, remove the lid and cook on high for 30 minutes.

Stove top instructions:
Brown the beef in a nonstick skillet, breaking it up into fine chunks. Drain off any excess fat. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and everything is cooked through.

Cook the hot dogs according to your preference. Nestle into buns and top with chili and other desired toppings.


*Not chunky pasta sauce. Look for it in the canned tomato aisle.
My thoughts:
Every once in a while I am hit with an overwhelming urge for a chili dog. Unfortunately Baltimore has a severe lack of quality hot dog houses. There are some truly delicious yet deadly dogs from Ann's Dari-Creme out on Ritchie Hwy but that is quite a hike. There are a few in the city but none that I can say that I love. When I was a child, we'd make chili dogs with chili from the soup counter at the grocery store. I have to say, homemade chili is much better. And after developing an entire chapter of chili for my slow cooker cookbook, I am the self proclaimed slow cooker chili queen. I wish I had thought to put a recipe in for chili for hot dogs in the book (although it is a healthy slow cooker cookbook)but I didn't so the book's loss is your (free recipe) gain. Slow cooking the chili means that all you have to do to have from scratch chili dogs is to pop some stuff in the slow cooker in the morning, go about your day, come home, broil or grill some dogs for 10 minutes and you are ready to go.

There is a lot of contention on what makes the best chili for hot dogs (everything from a bean only mixture to the various versions of a "Coney" to a thin sauce) but this is what I like the most on my dogs. Not too spicy or chunky and with kidney beans. I think it is best made in the slow cooker where the flavors develop throughout the day but the stove top version is tasty too.

The leftover chili is great on baked potatoes.

June 25, 2010

Grilled German-style Potato Salad



Ingredients:
2 pounds Yukon Gold or red skin potatoes, quartered and parboiled
1 white onion, cut into wedges
3 strips thick cut bacon

for the dressing:
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 bunch green onion, chopped (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
salt
freshly ground pepper


Directions:
Place the dressing in a jar or salad dressing container. Shake until well mixed. Set aside. Prep grill according to manufacturers' directions. Oil a grilling pan with canola oil. Place the potatoes, onion wedges and bacon on the grilling pan.



Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, turning occasionally. Place the potatoes and onion in a bowl. Crumble the bacon on top. Toss. Drizzle with dressing and toss again.

My thoughts:
German potato salad is traditionally served hot and it is great, but when it is summer in Baltimore and you live in a 1930s house with no air conditioning, you really don't want to be standing over the stove more than you have to. I had the idea to grill it instead and I really think I like it better. The smoky, grilled flavor of the potatoes and onions really ties in with the bacon and the potato gets sort of crisp around the edges. Yum! I hate it when potatoes in salads are mushy. I just make sure I boiled the potatoes until they were almost fork tender. You don't want a potato falling apart on the grill! Using quartered potatoes (or small wedges) is important too, slices are difficult to turn. I used a grated grilling pan that only took up part of the grill so we were able to make our whole meal at once which was awesome. The grill pan really is needed for this recipe, the spaces in the grill rack are too large to cook bacon or thin slices of onion on. Luckily they aren't terribly expensive and we use it all the time for vegetables and more delicate grillables.

June 23, 2010

Raspberry Sour Cream Muffins


Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup sugar (adjust to suit berries' sweetness)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one lemon
1 egg


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease 12 wells of a muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together oil, sour cream, zest, egg and vanilla until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth. Fold in raspberries. It is okay if the raspberries break up a bit. Divide the batter evenly between the wells. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
My thoughts:
We went to a pick your own farm this weekend to pick berries. Raspberry picking is a lot of fun and in just 40 or so minutes we picked about 4 lbs of purple and red raspberries. Luckily they are fresh from the vine so they will keep a little longer than supermarket berries but it is still a daunting amount of berries. I haven't made much with raspberries before, they are so expensive* even in small quantities so I never seem to have enough to do anything with them but eat them out of hand or sprinkled over yogurt or ice cream. Muffins seem like a good starting place. I love sour cream in muffins because it adds so much moisture and flavor and lets me use less butter or oil than I normally would. Even lower fat sour cream works well. The oil gives the muffins a lighter texture than a butter based recipe would have been and I think that worked well with the raspberries. They are such a delicate berry that a heavier dough can be overwhelming.


*Even the pick your own place had a prepacked pint for sale for the same price we paid for a whole pound we picked ourselves.

June 21, 2010

S'mores Cookies


Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup ground graham crackers (about 2 crackers pulverized in the blender)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate chips
2-3 graham crackers, broken up (for sprinkling)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper*. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, ground graham crackers, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips and distributing them evenly. Form cookies by dropping 1 teaspoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes then top each cookie with marshmallows and broken graham crackers. Press the graham crackers and marshmallow in a bit so they don't fall off. Bake an additional 2 minutes. Carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.


*Please line with parchment paper or a silipat. The marshmallow will run and make the cookies stick to the pan if you do not.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
I was trying to think of a new, summery brownie or cookie recipe and was coming up empty until I remembered one of summer's quintessential desserts, s'mores. I actually have graham flour but it tastes less like graham crackers than you'd think so I ground up some graham crackers and used that in place of some regular flour to give it extra graham cracker-y flavor. I was a little nervous about trying that but it worked really well. Everyone who had one remarked on how much they tasted like s'mores, I think that is because the extra ground up cookies, the ones on tops are really just for decoration.

To be absolutely traditional I guess I could have cut up candy bars but I do think that for the most part, chips work best in cookies, they hold their shape better. That was important since I knew I was topping them with marshmallow and graham crackers, I didn't want chocolate oozing out as well. Anyway, enough talking, you need to make these cookies! Delicious and fun.

June 18, 2010

Basil & Oregano Pork Chops



Ingredients:
4 boneless, farily thick cut pork chops
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
salt
pepper

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a resealable bag. Refrigerate up to 6 hours. Prepare grill according to manufacturers' instructions. Grill the chops over medium heat about 5 minutes on each side, covering briefly to insure that they cooked all the way through. Raw or "rare" pork is not your friend.





My thoughts:
I've received a lot of emails asking for help grilling pork chops. It seems that many people have problems with their pork chops drying out. The trick is to give your pork chops a good long soak before grilling. It not only infuses the pork with flavor, it keeps them moist during the grilling process. Another trick is not to press down on the pork (forcing out juices) and or overcook. Allow them to sit about 2 minutes, covered, before serving to avoid the juices pouring out when sliced. This recipe is an excellent recipe to start with for the pork skittish, it has easy to find ingredients and doesn't make much time or effort at all yet the flavor is amazing and the pork is incredibly juicy.

June 16, 2010

Mango Ginger Lime Sorbet




Ingredients:
5 large very ripe mangos, cubed (I used Hayden)
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 inch knob ginger, sliced
1/2 to 1 cup water

Directions:
Add the mango, lime and ginger to a food processor or blender. I used my Vita-Mix. Add 1/2 cup water. Blend until very smooth. Add more water as needed to thin the mixture out. Pour into a ice cream maker and churn according to package instructions. Freeze in a freezer safe container until ready to serve.




My thoughts:
When the mangos on my counter got so ripe it smelled like I was living in a mango grove, I knew I had to do something with them. I had actually made a mango sorbet last week for my lunch (it was hot out!) but didn't pay attention to exactly what I did because I thought I had already posted a mango sorbet recipe. When I was going through and adding tags to recipes this weekend I realized I hadn't. I mentioned this to my husband and he insisted I make the sorbet again since the last time he didn't get to have any and I'd have something to post. Win-win. This isn't exactly how I made it last time but I think it might actually be better. Adding the ginger gave it a subtle spice that accented the mango flavor without overpowering it. Just take care that it gets really pulverized in the mixing process or you will end up with little bits suspended in the sorbet.

June 14, 2010

Shrimp & Spinach Dip


Ingredients:
5 oz cooked shrimp, divided use
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (reduced fat okay)
1/4 cup packed, defrosted chopped spinach
1/2 cup 0% or 2% Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 shallots, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt
pepper


Directions:
In a food processor, blend together the yogurt, horseradish, half of the shrimp, spices, shallot, mayo and cream cheese until very smooth. Chop the the remaining shrimp. Stir in the spinach and chopped shrimp until just combined. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


My thoughts:
In the warm weather, sometimes I cheat and instead of making a side dish, I make a batch of dip and serve it with fresh vegetables or chips and pretzels. It keeps for a few days in the fridge and is perfect to have on hand, especially for days when we are grilling. I've even stored cut up carrots and celery in water filled containers in the refrigerator so all I have to do is fish them out and they are ready to go. This dip is perfect for using up a bit of leftover shrimp (or make extra the next time shrimp is on the menu) and the spinach makes it seem at least a little healthy. The horseradish and Worcestershire sauce is in there to keep it zippy without having to add aged cheese. I hate a bland dip!

June 11, 2010

Grilled Black Cod with Fresh Wasabi & Mirin


Ingredients:
4 black cod fillets (about 5 oz each)
2 inch knob fresh wasabi, grated
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup mirin

Directions:
Place the fish, wasabi, vinegar and mirin in a resealable bag. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Prep your grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Grill skin side down until almost cooked though, about 10-15 minutes then flip. Cook for another few minutes until the fish is fully cooked.

My thoughts:
Black cod (also known as sablefish) is a naturally oily fish. This makes it perfect for grilling. Unlike some fish it can be placed directly on the grill without much worry of it sticking, just make sure you put it skin side down first. Fresh wasabi can be a little tricky to find but it is worth it. It is pungent but fruitier than the paste most sushi restaurants serve. If you have to, substitute a small amount of dry or reconstituted wasabi for the fresh. It won't be quite as good but the zip it gives the fish shouldn't be missed.


June 09, 2010

Sweet Cherry Lime (Freezer) Jam


Ingredients:
4 cups halved cherries
zest and juice from 2 limes
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 packet (45 grams) no cook freezer jam pectin

Directions:
Whisk together the sugar and pectin in a small bowl. In another bowl, mash the cherries with a potato masher. When well mashed, add the lime juice and zest. Stir. Sprinkle with the sugar/pectin mixture. Stir to combine. Pour into 4-5 8 oz jars. Ball makes some great plastic freezer jam jars I highly recommend. They have a fill line about 3/4 inch down. Don't over fill. Use the jam within a month or freeze up to 1 year.


My thoughts:
It has been a long time since I last made freezer jam. Too long. I like it because it is near instant gratification. No cooking, just mashing and then you have jam. Plus it uses a lot less sugar than traditionally canned jam because you don't need the sugar to act as a preservative. It is just the beginning of cherry season here and I've been trying to make the most of it. Every year I wish I had a cherry pitter. Once the season rolls around it is too late to order one and have it arrive in time and when cherries aren't in season, I think of other ways to spend my money. I've found that simply pulling the cherries in half with my hands is the more efficient (if slightly messy) route to pit-free cherries. For some reason I had been cutting them with a knife and it took forever. I've heard about methods involving a paper clip or toothpick but pulling them apart has been resulting in two perfect halves so I am loath to try something new. And it makes me feel super strong.

Anyway! We were talking about how we don't have a Sonic (even though we get the commercials occasionally) anywhere with in several hours. I've never been to one but I have heard so many people going on about the cherry limeade, I feel like I have. So when I decided to make cherry jam, I thought to throw in some lime. I am glad I did. It is a delightful combination as it keeps the sweet cherries from being too sweet. Plus I think the natural pectin in the limes help it gel.



June 07, 2010

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dry Mix


Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry buttermilk*
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons freeze dried chives
1 1/2 teaspoons dillweed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Most buttermilk powders need to be kept refrigerated once opened. If this is true of the one you are using, keep the dry rub refrigerated.



*Look for it in the baking or natural food aisle.

My thoughts:
I keep dry buttermilk on hand for baking and one winter day I got to thinking about ways to use it without re-hydrating. While at the grocery store I realized it must be an ingredient in Cool Ranch Doritos and other ranch flavored snack foods. So I decided to try to make my own buttermilk ranch mix. It is so good! Very fresh tasting despite the lack of perishable ingredients.

Short of making my own Doritos (even I have to draw the line somewhere) or sprinkling it on popcorn I wasn't sure how I'd use it without re-hydrating it. Months went by but I kept the idea in the back of my mind. Then I started thinking of it not just as a topping but as a dry rub and did some experimenting. I found that it was especially good on chicken, it can be just rubbed into the skin before breading and frying or grilling. I bet it would be good in pork or chicken burgers too.

Of course, this mix can all be used to make ranch dip (add to sour cream) or turned into salad dressing (just add some water). But it is fun to use it in unexpected ways.

June 04, 2010

Tzatziki Lamb Burgers


Ingredients:
1 lb ground lamb
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated
zest of one lemon
salt
freshly ground black pepper



tzatziki:
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup finely diced, seeded cucumber*
1 tablespoon minced dill
salt
freshly ground black pepper

toppings:
1 large red onion, thickly sliced
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch slices

4 buns

Directions:
In a medium bowl, mix together the burger ingredients until evenly distributed. Form into 4 equal patties.

for the sauce:
Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Prepare your grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, brush the onion, burgers and eggplant slices with olive oil. Place on the grill next to the burgers. Cook until everything is cooked through, flipping once. Cover as needed.

Place a slice of eggplant on each bun. Top with a burger then onion slices and drizzle with sauce.



*You can salt and drain them if you want but I just left them chopped on

My thoughts:
This is seriously the best lamb burger I have ever had. Better than the much lauded lamb burgers at Breslin. More than just juicy, this burger has a lot of flavor. I thought the cumin in the Breslin burger brought out a gamey flavor to the burger which was a little overpowering. I picked seasonings that I hoped would enhance the fresh taste that lamb can have and it paid off. The burger tasted amazingly fresh and light. I honestly can't wait to make it again and I rarely remake a recipe! The cucumber-yogurt sauce, eggplant and onions are really just gilding the lily but they do make the burger more fun to eat without overpowering the lamb. The flavors of the tzatziki really tie in with the flavors of the burger.

June 02, 2010

Fresh Cherry Mascarpone Waffles


Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 cup halved fresh sweet cherries
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch salt
2 eggs, at room temperature

Directions:
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, mascarpone and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in the cherries. Follow the instructions included with your waffle iron to complete the waffles. For most large, Belgian-style waffle irons you would use 1 cup of batter for each waffle. I love my waffle maker.


Yield: 4 large Belgian-style waffles

My thoughts:
I haven't posted a lot a of cherry recipes (maybe one?) over the years but it isn't for a lack of cherry love. I just end up eating them fresh out of hand and next thing I know, the bowl is empty and I haven't made anything special with them. I decided to remedy that with these waffles. I had some leftover mascarpone so on a whim I thought I'd add it to the batter. I am glad I did, the waffles turned out creamy, moist and light. No small feat for a simple waffle. The cherries add a juicy pop of flavor to nearly every bite.