October 31, 2007

Roasted Poblano & Green Tomato Chili

2 poblano peppers
2Anaheim peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 lb green (unripe) tomatoes*, chopped
15 ounce can hominy
12 oz chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons PLUS 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1/2 lime

Place the cubed chicken in a resealable bag. Sprinkle with lime juice, cumin and 1 teaspoon ground chipotle. Marinate 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place the poblano chiles in a heat safe dish and broil 5 minutes on each side. Remove to a towel and allow to cool, five minutes. Gently use a towel to remove the skins from the chiles, using a circular motion. Cut a slit down one side of each chile (or in the middle, if a split formed while removing the skin) and remove the seeds with as spoon. Discard the seeds. Cut up the chiles into 1/2 inch pieces. Saute the onion, red pepper flakes and garlic in olive oil until the onion is just translucent. Add the chicken, remaining spices and Anaheim chile and saute until the chicken is almost cooked through. The chicken should look white on all sides, but night still be slightly raw in the center. Stir in the poblano chiles, tomato, hominy and chicken broth. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, then remove lid and cook 15 additional minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.

*Some unripe tomatoes will be green on the outside and slightly pink on the inside. This doesn't make much difference to the dish.

My thoughts:
When I saw that Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen was hosting a green tomato contest I knew I had to give it a shot. I've fried green tomatoes and ripened them in paper bags but that was about it. I like the flavor of green tomatoes a lot so I thought this would be a good excuse to do some experimentation. The only problem was finding the green tomatoes. After an extremely violent storm in late Summer toppled our tomato plants we dug them up. But a quick call to my mom revealed that she had plenty of green (unripe) heirloom tomatoes still on the vine. I told her about the contest and when I picked them up she had them waiting in a paper bag neatly labeled "For Rachel 'unfried' green tomatoes". So what to make with them? The weather has taken a turn towards the seasonal so I thought something warm might be in order: chili. The combination of the different peppers and spices give it a complex spicy flavor that the cool tartness of the green tomato tempers slightly.

October 29, 2007

Salted Caramel Apples

10 bite-sized lady apples with stems attached
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 cup golden syrup
1/8 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. In a small sauce pan bring the cream, butter, water and salt to a boil. Set aside. In a medium sized, heavy pan, heat the sugar, golden syrup to a boil, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves. Boil until it turns a light golden color. Slowly, carefully stir in the cream mixture. Stir until the caramel is 255 degrees (just beyond softball stage so it isn't too soft and runny). Remove from heat and carefully dip the apples in the caramel. Place on lined baking sheets to cool.

My thoughts:
I love caramel apples and this version has to be my favorite. Not too salty, not too sweet, not too gooey. Diminutive lady apples (contrast their size with the standard size honeycrisp above) are the best choice for caramel apples in my opinion. The two bite size is just enough to satisfy my yearly caramel apple urge and the apple to caramel ratio is perfect.

October 28, 2007

Paprika Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 cup sea salt
fresh from the pumpkin pumpkin seeds
oilve oil
smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350. Place the pumpkin seeds in a large pot. Fill halfway with water. Add salt. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil, more heavily with paprika. Stir to evenly distribute spice. Place in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the seeds then bake for an additional 5 minutes or until they no longer look wet are instead toasted and crunchy looking. Cool and serve.

My thoughts:
This is my favorite way to make pumpkin seeds. Boiling them in salt water impregnates them with a light saltiness but doesn't effect the texture at all. Smoked paprika adds a subtle hint of smoky sweetness which really works with the natural toasted seed flavor.

October 27, 2007

Spiced Pear Oatmeal

2 Bosc pears, cored and sliced thinly
2 1/4 cup pear cider
1 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
sprinkle salt

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on low overnight (8-9 hours). Stir and serve.

Serves about four.

My thoughts:
I've been hearing good things about overnight oatmeal in the slow cooker for some time now and this dreary weekend seemed like the perfect time for an experiment. Rather than use water or milk, I used some wonderful pear cider I purchased at the farmer's market. I love this fruity twist on oatmeal (normally we eat it prepared the traditional way and rather plain-with a sprinkle of salt and butter) and how it requires no morning prep time. The pear sort of half melts into the oatmeal which creates a thick, fruity sauce.

October 26, 2007

Chorizo & Quinoa

1/2 lb Spanish style chorizo, sliced on the bias
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quinoa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a large sauce pan, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, chorizo, and celery. Saute until fragrent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the quinoa. Cook 1 minute. Add the broth and smoked paprika. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cover. Cook about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is translucent and has a small, visable spiral. Serve hot.

Yield: about 4 servings

My thoughts:
Quinoa has to be one of my favorite food words to say: KEEN WAH! But the excitement over the pronunciation is only part of the fun when it comes to quinoa. Quinoa, while frequently referred to as a grain and treated as such is technically not a grain at all but an edible seed. It was first cultivated by pre-Columbian Andean civilizations. It is gluten free, unusually high in protein and has a balanced set of essential amino acids which makes it a great substitute for couscous or rice. This also makes it a wonderful food choice for vegetarians or vegans who are looking for a good protein source. That said, I didn't take the vegetarian course this time and instead made a somewhat Spanish influenced one pot meal instead. It is super simple yet super tasty.

October 24, 2007

Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup pepitas (shelled, unsalted raw pumpkin seeds)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Place two large (baking sheet sized) sheets of parchment paper side by side on a flat surface. Have a rolling pin and a third and fourth sheet of parchment paper in reserve nearby. In a heavy pan, bring the sugar, salt and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Lower heat and cook, without stirring until you reach softball stage (238 degrees). Remove from heat and stir in the pepitas and chipotle pepper. Stir about 4 minutes or until the sugar crystallizes. Return to heat and, stirring continuously until the sugar melts again (it may appear to further crystallize before it begins to melt) and turns a dark brown. Pour immediately on the the parchment paper, placing the extra sheets of parchment paper on top of the brittle and using the rolling pin, roll smooth. Remove the top sheets of parchment paper and allow the brittle to cool completely. Remove parchment and break into pieces.

My thoughts:
For this recipe I used the same basic recipe and technique as I would to make nut brittle but subsituted pumpkin seeds and added some spice. The result: a tasty, easy treat with a hint of smoky spice.

One note: the spice makes the brittle appear slightly grainy when in actuality the texture is quite smooth.

October 23, 2007

Green Tea & Tangerine Tapioca Pudding

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup small pearl tapioca (not instant)
1 teaspoon matcha powder*
zest and juice from 1/2 tangerine
1 egg

Set the slow cooker on low. Pour the milk, tapioca, matcha and sugar in, whisk until the sugar dissolves. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until the tapioca is soft and translucent. Stir in the egg, zests and juice. Cook an additional 1/2 hour. Serve warm.

*If you don't have matcha powder, seep 2 green tea bags in the milk for 1/2 hour before cooking, discarding the bags.

Yield: about 4 servings

Note: for more traditional tapioca pudding made in the slow cooker, eliminate the green tea/matcha and juice/zest and sub about a tablespoon of vanilla.

My thoughts:
I've always wanted to come up with a dessert recipe to make in the slow cooker (if for no other reason than to say I did) and long cooking tapioca pudding seemed like the perfect choice. It isn't a faster method, but it eliminates all that carpal tunnel inducing stirring that even so-called "instant" tapioca requires. Plain, ordinary tapioca pudding sounded sort of boring though. I was stuck thinking of a good twist when I spied a bag of jumbo sized pearls for making boba tea and since the only real difference between the pearls in tapioca pudding and in boba tea is the size, I thought I'd make a boba-inspired pudding. I was nervous about doing it in the slow cooker but I shouldn't have been. The end result was the best tapioca pudding ever. Creamy and cooked to perfection. I am never making tapioca pudding any other way ever again.

October 22, 2007

Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips & Spinach

1 1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
3 parsnips, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup frozen spinach, defrosted
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter


In a large pot, bring water to a full boil. Add potatoes and parsnips. Cook until tender and easily pierced with a fork. Drain and return to pot, add butter, spinach, and buttermilk. Mash. Serve hot.

My thoughts:
I am in serious comfort food mode right now, and while I can't resist making mashed potatoes, I couldn't neglect my vegetable intake. These are a great way to meet both those needs.

October 21, 2007

Peas & Carrots Meatloaf

2/3 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 egg
1 onion, shredded
1/2 cup finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup frozen peas (still frozen)
1/2 cup panko
1/4 flax seed meal
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl and with a gentle hand, mix together all ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil. Add some additional panko if the mixture seems wet. Mold into a loaf and place in a standard loaf pan. Spread the olive oil over the top of the loaf (this keeps the moisture locked in) and place in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until cooked through and the juices run clear. Allow to sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

My thoughts:

After seeing the Serious Eats' National Meatloaf Appreciation Day round up, I really wanted some meatloaf. It has been about a month since I submitted my entry, and after the drama of the taping, I wanted some comfort food. Plus my meatloaf pan, Kitchenaid (to grind the meat) and a mixing bowl were about the only things in the kitchen I didn't have to clean before using. Adding fruits or veggies to meatloaf, while I am not trying to fool anyone, does make the whole experience seem more virtuous. The carrots add a subtle sweetness and the peas, well that was just for fun. I've never used flax seed meal in meatloaf before but I had read some article that suggested using it as a replacement for bread crumbs so I thought I'd give it a shot. You really wouldn't know it was there if someone didn't tell you, so I think it did the trick.

October 19, 2007

The Big Reveal

I thought I'd let you all in on a little secret. The reason I've been so busy the last few days is because I was filming a TV show! An episode of Andrew Dan Jumbo's new(ish) show, Take Home Handyman to be exact. It's not airing until late Winter, but we filmed these past three days and did a lot of work. Since I am a food writer/blogger they mainly concentrated on the kitchen, which was great-Matt learned a lot about home repairs- and since the final "reveal" of the kitchen was a surprise for me, I did some handy "man" tasks around the yard.

It really is a lot of work being on these shows-they didn't leave last night until 3 AM! They film hours and hours of tape just whittle it down to a 22 minute episode, so I am looking forward to seeing what makes it into the final show. The kitchen looks great but they need to come back next week and put doors on some cabinets that some how got overlooked. All in all it was a great experience!

We are done filming though and while I can't give many details about the final product, I can say I got some fun surprises that will help out with photographing food in the kitchen. I uploaded some pictures of the "before" and the work being done here.

October 17, 2007

Excitment is in the air

No recipe today, but lots of fun stuff is afoot at the Rappaport house today. Details to come, I promise! In the meantime, check out this article about me and several other area food bloggers that appeared in the November issue of Baltimore Style magazine. It has some fun details about me and the blog that you might not know.

October 15, 2007

Pumpkin Power Muffins

1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup pepitas (shelled, unsalted raw pumpkin seeds)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
additional pepitas for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 1 12 well muffin tins In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, pepitas, flax seed meal, oats baking soda and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat together oil, buttermilk and brown sugar. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Stir in pumpkin. Add the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Divide evenly amoung the 12 wells and top with additional pepitas. Bake 15-20 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center muffin or bread should come out clean.

My thoughts:
Two muffin posts in a row? Normally I wouldn't make two batches of muffins back to back much less post the recipes, but after I made my oatmeal craisin muffins, Matt said that maybe next time I could make pumpkin muffins. Who knew he even liked pumpkin muffins? Anyway, despite the fact that I have zero time to be baking, I took half an hour and made these muffins while I washed some dishes. I'm not going to be able to cook at all over the next three days or so, so I thought they'd be good for breakfast over the next couple days. They are really moist and light despite being loaded up with goodies and I love the pepitas on top!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

October 13, 2007

Oatmeal Craisin Muffins

1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup sweetened, dried cranberries*
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour one 12 well muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, egg, oil, buttermilk, and sugar. After it is thoroughly mixed, add in the flour, salt, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Fold in the dried cranberries. Divide evenly amount 12 muffin wells. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, serve.

*Chop them up if they are freakishly large. The ones I had were on the small side so I left them whole.

Note: If you are using unsweetened dried cranberries, you might want to add additional sugar to the recipe as cranberries are quite tart.

My thoughts:
We're having a major house cleaning day today so I thought muffins would be a good choice for breakfast-quick and filling. I was looking for inspiration in the cupboards and came across a bag of Craisins I has purchased at least a year ago. I checked the expiration date and it was for the end of this month so I thought I'd better use it up. I like the idea of dried fruit and often pick up bags of it, but I never seem to get around to actually eating it. Adding them to the oatmeal muffin recipe I had been thinking about all week seemed like a good idea. I was worried the muffins might be too heavy or chewy, but it worked out fine, the muffin was fluffy, the cranberries really plumped up and I am always amazed at how oatmeal seems to disappear once it is baked.

October 11, 2007

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

2 eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 oz unsweetened chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray with baking spray one 8x8 inch baking dish. In a small pan, melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of butter together, stirring occasionally. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs and sugars until fluffy. Add the vanilla and melted butter, mix thoroughly. Add in the baking powder and flour. Beat to combine. Divide the batter into two bowls. Add the melted chocolate to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the cream cheese, nutmeg and pumpkin to the second bowl of batter and mix thoroughly. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared pan. Drop large spoonfuls of the chocolate batter on top and swirl throughly with a knife for a marbled look. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Slice and serve.

My thoughts:
I've had luck with cheesecake brownies in the past but wanted to make something a little more seasonal. These are really moist and flavorful brownies. Keep in mind when you make this recipe that it is pumpkin cheesecake flavored and not pumpkin pie flavored. Pumpkin has a subtle squash flavor that the tang of cheesecake compliments, but if you've only ever eaten pumpkin in pie form, it might not taste quite the way you expect. I hadn't thought of making that distinction, but that's the reaction that I've been getting from people who tried them, the brownies were great, but tasted nothing like pumpkin pie! Which, of course, they weren't supposed to-it's the spices that give pumpkin pie that distinctive taste and aroma, not the pumpkin.

October 10, 2007

Croque Monsieur

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
4 slices French loaf bread*
4 slices Gruyère or sharp Swiss cheese
4 slices high quality ham, medium thickness**


For the béchamel: In a small pan, melt the butter. Add the flour along with a sprinkle of nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir until smooth. Add the milk and whisk together until slightly thickened. Set aside.

For each sandwich: Heat a large skillet. Place the bread on the (ungreased) skillet. Place the ham beside the bread on the skillet. Cook for about 1-2 minutes or until the bread is slightly toasted, then flip the bread and the slice of ham and cook 1 additional minute on the other side. Place the ham on top of the bread and turn off the heat. Drizzle with béchamel sauce and top with one slice of cheese. Place on a oven safe tray and broil for about 2 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly. Remove to a plate and serve.

*Trader Joe's sells a presliced French style loaf bread that works really well here.
**I like to buy those boneless hams and cut a slice off of that rather than to use presliced meat.

Yield 4 sandwiches

My thoughts:
As you might recall, I am teaching a quick Continental Cuisine class through a local community college. It is only a 3 week class and I have to cover three cuisines, so each cuisine (French, Italian and Spanish) only gets one two-hour class. It is a bit of a time crunch since we have to cook, eat and clean all in those two hours, but I think I am up to the challenge. Since today's the first class, I kept it simple and went with the French classic Croque Monsieur. Now I know some people make this differently, but to me the simple way is the best: good ham, good bread, and good cheese, a little bit of béchamel sauce and served open faced. I love making it with Gruyère, but that is some times difficult to find (I went to four stores and came up empty handed) so for class I substituted an easier to find high quality, sharp Swiss and I think it came out just as well.

October 08, 2007

Cornbread Pancakes

1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

oil or butter for cooking

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and cornmeal in a large bowl. Set aside. In small bowl or measuring cup whisk together the egg, buttermilk and butter. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly, breaking up any chunks. Heat the butter or oil on a pan or griddle. Ladle about about 1/3 of a cup of the batter on to the hot pan. Cook, flipping when bubbles start to appear. Cook until the other side is golden brown. Repeat and serve.

My thoughts:
Don't be alarmed if these pancakes sport tiny holes, that's just part of their charm. They have a subtle sweetness and a slightly grainy texture from the cornmeal but are as light and fluffy as can be. I dipped mine in a touch of golden syrup, but it really didn't need it-these would be fine served as is.

October 06, 2007

How to Have a Tasting Party

While most everyone has been to or at least heard of a wine tasting, few people host tasting parties of any other kind. This is a shame, as they can be some of the most fun and interesting parties to both attend and throw. There are a few easy steps to follow.
Step one: Choose a food or drink that has some variety to it: different types of fruit (apples or mangos are personal favorites), chocolate, coffee, tea, honey, olive oil, vinegar, cheese or even vodka are all simple yet interesting choices.
Step two: Select an assortment of 4-6 items with different characteristics. A range of light to dark chocolates, assorted varieties of cheese.
Step three: Make tasting cards. Create cards with check boxes where attendees can check of characteristics of what they are tasting. Is the cheese runny or firm? Is the mango citrusy or spicy? Leave room for additional notes and comments.
Step four: Arrange the food and drink. Disposable toothpicks and tiny sipping cups are a perfect ways to distribute the food or drink. Label the food (or don't and have a blind tasting). Set out plenty water and plain bread to cleanse the palate. Provide writing utensils for the tasting cards.
Step five: Taste and discuss.

Additional resources:
The Chocolate Manufacturers Association has a complete chocolate tasting guide available for download.
Some tips on how to serve cheese for a tasting or dinner party.
There are some good tips in this guide to tasting parties, Tasting Club

October 03, 2007

Homemade Fish Sticks

1 1/2 lb tilapia fillets*, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch strips
1 1/2 cup panko
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons Old Bay**
sea salt***

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix together the panko, Old Bay, pepper and cornstarch and arrange on a plate. Pour the buttermilk into bowl. Dip the fish into the buttermilk (or soak the fish in the buttermilk for up to 20 minutes for slightly better flavor and sticking ability) then dredge in the panko mixture. Place in a single layer on the line baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.

*Or other firm, white fish like catfish or orange roughy.
** Paprika or cayenne would good too, if you can't find Old Bay Seasoning in your area.
***For that fresh from the sea flavor. I used the tasty Terras de Sal, which is harvested the old fashioned way by hand.

My thoughts:

Homemade fish sticks (or fish fingers if you prefer) are not really something I had thought of making before, but I was feeling sort of nostagic for my preschool days and thought I'd try a slightly more adult and healthier homemade version of my old frozen favorite. These fish sticks are delightful-fresh tasting, moist and flaky with just a hint of spice. As an added bonus they were made without any added fat. If you are not totally fat adverse, however, I recommend serving it with a little bit of homemade tartar sauce for dipping. They are also very good with a little mustard on the side.