September 20, 2018

Reuben-Inspired Twice Baked Potatoes




Ingredients:

4 large Russet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
2 1/2 tablespoons minced dill pickles OR dill relish
1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cup chopped corned beef*
3/4 cup sauerkraut
2/3 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyère
freshly ground black pepper



Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Bake potatoes one hour or until fully cooked. Half each potato and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Place the empty skins openside up on a foil-lined baking sheet.


Add the pickles, tomato paste, pepper and sour cream to the bowl with the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash until well combined. Add the corned beef and stir well mixed.





Scoop the mixture into the skins. Divide the sauerkraut among each potato half, top with cheese.



Bake 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and the potatoes are hot. Serve immediately.


*I cooked mine for 8-10 hrs on low in the slow cooker, covered in water.

My thoughts:

I had this idea a few months ago but it was just too hot to bake potatoes. We finally had a few cool days so I used that an as an excuse to make this riff on the popular, totally no Kosher deli sandwich, the Reuben. Ruebens normally have corned beef, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and rye bread. I ditched the rye bread (I did toy with having rye bread crumbs but decided against it) but kept pretty much everything else. Instead of the Russian dressing I've made when I've made the sandwich, I tossed in the two ingredients that influence the flavor the most, pickled and tomato, and mixed it with the potatoes and sour cream. Adding the corned beef was easy. I debated about mixing the sauerkraut in but I left it on top and I think it was the best choice. It really did end up tasting more like a Reuben that way; in the sandwich, there are very distinct layers and you taste each one individually so it makes sense!

The end result was a triumph, it really did taste like a Rueben, the potato was perfectly flavored and creamy and the toppings nicely browned and slightly crunchy. I made the corned beef  "fresh" but it would also be a great way to use up leftovers.


Note: corned beef can be tricky to find but Aldi seems to carry it most of the year and most supermarkets will order it for you if they don't have it in stock. I personally buy a bunch when it is super cheap near St Patrick's Day and freeze it. It freezes and defrosts wonderfully.

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September 17, 2018

Cheesy Zucchini Pimento Casserole




Ingredients

1 1/3 lb (about 3 medium) zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick half moons
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
5 oz shredded gruyere, divided use
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.


Place the zucchini in the prepared pan. Steam the zucchini until just tender. I used a steamer pot like this one and steamed it for roughly 4 minutes. Drain (if needed) and allow to cool.


In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pimentos, milk, and spices Stir in the onions and 3/4 of the cheese. Pour over the zucchini.


Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese then bread crumbs. Bake 35 minutes, until bubbly and browned.





My thoughts:
Zucchini season is still in full swing! Honestly, the zucchini we've had this year has been the best out of all of the local produce. The peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, and corn that I wait for all year have been either just fine or downright inedible. My old pal, zucchini, however, had been quite tasty.

One thing I like to do is make a slightly labor intensive dish like then when I am making a super easy main (ahem, hot dogs) so I'm not torn in so many directions for a weeknight dinner. I made this dish up on the fly like I have so many dishes lately. I had stocked up on pimentos to make pimento cheese (jarred chopped pimentos can be oddly difficult to find locally) and accidentally knocked a jar to the floor breaking the seal. Rather than making pimento cheese, I took it as a sign to try something different with it. Pimentos have a great mix of heat and sweetness and were perfectly paired with similarly lightly sweet zucchini. The whole dish was homey and satisfying, with just the right amount of cheese and eggs for it all to hold together. It's definitely making its way into regular rotation. The leftovers held up well reheated in the oven.

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September 13, 2018

Chorizo, Hatch Chile and Rice Bake




Ingredients:
1 lb Mexican style chorizo
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cooked rice
1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 roasted* Hatch Green Chiles, diced
5 oz shredded quesadilla cheese
7 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon Tajín Clásico Seasoning
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Direction:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish. Set aside.

Saute the chorizo, onion, and garlic in a medium pan until the chorizo is cooked through and the onions are translucent. Drain off any fat. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and spices. Stir in the chorizo mixture, and 3/4 of the cheese. Pour into the prepared baking dish.


Sprinkle the top with the remaining breadcrumbs. Bake 35 minutes, until bubbly and the edges are nicely browned.

*Thanks to the rain, I oven roasted my chiles this year.
My thoughts:
This was not the most photogenic dish but it was so tasty, I had to share. It's another dish born out of trying to use up ingredients I had on hand. I roasted some green chiles for this how-to that afternoon and rather than freezing them, I wanted to use them up. I had some chorizo in the freezer that quickly defrosted, tomatoes from my mom and a whole pint of rice leftover from Chinese takeout so why not combine them all? 

I'm glad I did because it turned out really well. It wasn't quite a baked frittata, more of a casserole thanks to all of the rice so I'm just calling it a bake. It was savory, spicy (which can vary with your chorizo and it's always the luck of a draw with the chiles) and very satisfying. A great weeknight meal. The leftovers reheated nicely, wrapped in foil and baked for about 10-15 minutes. 


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September 12, 2018

How to: Oven Roast Hatch Green Chiles




I'm sure you're tired of hearing how rainy it has been this summer but its true (according to the Washington Post, we've had 300% more rain this summer than average) and it has really affected my cooking and recipe development.

In years' past, we've gone to chile roasting events and picked up several pounds of Hatch Green Chiles during their short season. This year some of the events were canceled due to rain but I have suddenly been able to find raw Hatch Chiles here in Baltimore in a few stores for the first time. The logical conclusion was to roast them on the grill myself (the tumbling roasters are best but one can make do) but again, rain!

Here's my post on how to process the chiles if you are lucky enough to buy them at a chile roasting event.

I finally gave up on waiting for clear skies and roasted them in the oven. I do not think this is the best method nor the tastiest but it works just fine. I do not suggest roasting huge amounts of chiles (when we'd get them at a roasting event we'd get 25 lbs roast and process them at home and freeze) because even if you have fairly good ventilation, the room gets quite smoky and full of chile oil. I would recommend roasting no more than 2 pounds at once.



Step One:

Line a baking sheet with foil, completely covering the entire sheet, including the edges. Turn the broiler on high.

Step Two:

Place the chiles in a single layer on the foil. Place in the oven roughly 3-4 inches from the broiler.

Step Three: 

Broil for 10 minutes or until the chiles are charred. Use tongs to flip the chiles.

Step Four:

Return to broil for 2-3 minutes or until that side is charred and blistered. The second side cooks much faster than the first, do not leave them unattended!




Step Five:

Using the tongs, place the chiles in a bowl (preferably something non-porous like metal or glass) and cover tightly with foil. Allow to steam until cool enough to handle.

Repeat the process for any remaining chiles.


Step Six:

Using food safety gloves, peel the blackened skin off each chile. Discard the skin. Squeeze out the chile seeds and discard.

Use immediately or process for freezing.

To Freeze: 

If you are freezing them whole, slide the pepper into the bag as flat as possible. Repeat for remaining peppers. Freeze in a single layer in the bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible (sucking it out with a straw works nicely if you don't have a vacuum sealer) and seal.

If you are freezing chopped peppers, flatten the diced chiles in the bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal.


Freeze flat in the freezer.


Defrost overnight in the refrigerator as needed for recipes.





September 07, 2018

Stay Gold(en Berry Apple Honey) Bundt Cake




Ingredients:
2 cups  whole milk
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup halved golden berries (aka ground cherries, cape gooseberries)
1 large ginger gold apple, grated
1 1/2 tablespoon honey


for the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon honey


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and SUGAR one Bundt pan. Set aside.

Squeeze the liquid out of the grated apple. Use one 1 cup grated, drained apple. Discard or repurpose any leftover apple.


In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the milk, sugar, eggs, oil, spices, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer running, stream in the dry ingredients and beat until well-incorporated. Fold in the apple, honey and golden berries. Scrape into prepared Bundt pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the cake comes out with just a few damp crumbs.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove and cool completely on the wire rack.

Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle cake with glaze. The glaze can be doubled if you want a really well-coated cake. Store leftovers at room temperature.

My thoughts:
I've been wanting to make a bundt cake for ages but it has been so hot, I couldn't bring myself to do it. It's finally below 90 and I couldn't wait anymore. Ever since I came across a mention in a novel of a cake that had a sugar crust I've wanted to try it. Then I watched last season's Great British Bake Off and a contestant made a sugar-crusted cake and just amped up the urge. It's super easy--just swap out flour for granulated sugar when buttering the pan--but you end up with a cake that has a crunchy, sweet coating. Why isn't every cake made this way? Or at least all cakes you don't want to ice? It's so pretty and delicious! 

I had other reasons for making the cake too, I have wanted to make a ground cherry cake since we went to Portugal a few years ago and the place we stayed in Porto had an amazing breakfast with a different breakfast cake every day! Every day! I never wanted to leave. It was the first time I encountered ground cherries and I loved their tart-sweetness. I haven't been able to find them locally until recently so when I saw them, I obviously picked up a carton. 

The final reason I wanted to make the cake is that Rosh Hashanah is right around the corner and I always try to make something with apples and honey as a nod to the tradition of dipping apples in honey for a sweet new year. I do not always get a chance to but this year my produce box happened to have some early local apples so I was all set! One note, this is a dairy cake as we do not keep kosher and have no reason to make it pareve. Feel free to substitute non-dairy milk for the milk in this recipe. 

I also have on hand a bottle of locally made BeeGeorge Honey that I picked up when staying at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort last month. It's made with bees from their property! How cool is that? I had one of the most relaxing weekends of my life there while apparently, bees were hard at work making my honey!


The result? A moist, fruity cake with a nice crumb. The golden berries break up the sweetness of the honey and apple and add a pleasing tart burst in many bites. Since the apple is shredded, it is in every bite of the cake.




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September 05, 2018

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Red Grapes and Goat Cheese





Ingredients:

1 1/4 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
1 lb red grapes
1 red onion, cut into quarter moons, 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup corn oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper

garnish:
2-3 oz soft, crumbled goat cheese (optional)


Directions:

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Prepare a charcoal grill according to manufacturers' instructions.



Place the vegetable mixture in a grill basket (I use this one) and cook, turning occasionally until the vegetables are fork-tender, about 10-20 minutes. Pour back into the original bowl and toss again. Garnish with cheese. Serve immediately.


Tip: if your sprouts are very large, quarter them vs halving
My thoughts:

The day we grilled this, it was simultaneously very humid, very sunny and pouring down rain. Then an hour or so later it was clear enough to bust out the grill. The weather of this summer has been driving me insane. I bought two big bags of fancy charcoal back in May and we've barely put a dent in one.

A local restaurant has a Brussels sprouts dish that is always on the menu in some form or on the other. The original was super dark roasted Brussels sprouts, grapes, saba (a grape must reduction), and lardons. It's very good (even though I don't generally like fruit in savory dishes) and I've always wanted to recreate it. I finally did but with a twist. Instead of bacon, I gave it a smoky flavor by grilling it. If you leave off the cheese, it makes a great vegan side. The sprouts and onions caramelize quickly and the grapes get soft and juicy. It's really an amazing mix of flavors and textures.




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August 30, 2018

Grilled Scallops with Cherry Tomatoes and Zucchini





Ingredients:
1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 shishito peppers
2 cups cherry tomatoes (I used Sun Gold)
1 small onion, sliced into quarter moon slices
1 lb large scallops, patted dry
Florida seasoning or lemon pepper
salt

Directions:

Lightly oil a grill pan and heat. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer. Sprinkle with seasoning and grill until the peppers blister and the zucchini is fully cooked. Remove to a bowl and cover.  Add the scallops on the grill, sprinkle with seasoning and cook 1-2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
This is one of those meals that I made from pulling together random stuff I had in the house yet turned out really great. My mother had given me some yellow cherry tomatoes she grew, we had zucchini and I have had these scallops in the freezer forever. They defrosted quickly and grilled up really well! The juices from the vegetables made a light sauce and the whole meal was really flavorful yet made in under 20 minutes. I have really missed grilling this year so I have rediscovered my grill pan (I have this one and it cleans up and grills like a dream) and have been very pleased with the results. It caramelized the ingredients quickly and easily. I still miss grilling outside (go away, rain, humidity and high heat!) but it does help satisfy my cravings a bit.

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