Friday, March 30, 2012

That's Some Monkey Business!


I had no idea that they use monkeys to pick coconuts!!! Wow!!! Anyway, concluding my Thai and Thai-inspired recipe week, my final recipe is for "Coconut Rice." This rich and creamy rice is just right to serve with spicy meats and curries, like my Thai-Style Chicken Kabobs! Don't forget to serve it with some classic Thai condiments, like Hom Jiew and Ahjaad! I even have the perfect dessert: Coconut Ice Cream!


Coconut Rice

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Thai Jasmine Rice
1, 14 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 kaffir lime leaf, torn in half (fresh, frozen, or dried)
Toasted Coconut, for garnish (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a strainer, rinse the rice well under cool water, until the water runs clear.


In a medium saucepan, add the coconut milk, stock or water, sugar, salt, and lime leaf, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and remove the lime leaf. Spoon into a nice bowl, garnish (if desired), and serve! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Don't Make Thai Without Them!

Continuing my Thai and Thai-inspired recipe week, I'm going to share two excellent condiments. The first is "Hom Jiew" (fried shallots), and the second is "Ahjaad" (pickled cucumber). I wouldn't serve anything Thai without them! Hom Jiew is a combination of shallots, ginger, spring onions, and garlic (or just a combination of one or two of these ingredients), then fried to crispy perfection in peanut oil. Perfect to sprinkle over my Thai-Style Chicken Kabobs! (Save the flavorful oil for another use.) Ahjaad is a mixture of cucumber, shallots, and red chili, pickled in a sweet mix of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Served on the side, it really adds a cooling element to spicy Thai dishes. I love it! Even better, they both can be made ahead!


Hom Jiew (Fried Shallots)

Ingredients:

2/3 cup peanut oil
6 shallots, halved lengthwise and sliced along the grain
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine strips
6 spring onions (scallions), trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1" pieces
3 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin strips

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium, medium-high heat in a wok or small saute pan. When the oil looks shimmery, add the shallots, ginger, onions, and garlic. Fry until lightly browned and crisp, just a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Leave to cool and store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 


Ahjaad (Pickled Cucumber)

Ingredients:

6 ounces rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 ounce water
3 cups cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1/4 cup red chili, sliced
1/2 cup shallot, sliced

Directions:

In a small pot, bring the vinegar, sugar, salt, and water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. When cool, add the cucumbers, chilies, and shallots. Let soak for at least 20 minutes before serving, but can be refrigerated over night.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Beautiful Thailand



It's no secret that I love Mexican food, but I also love the flavors of Thailand! Not only is it extremely healthy, but the blend of fresh herbs and spices are exotic and absolutely enchanting! This week I will share some simple Thai and Thai-inspired recipes, starting with my "Thai-Style Chicken Kabobs." So fire-up the grill and get grilling!


Thai-Style Chicken Kabobs

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 to 2 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2" chunks
3 large red or green bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2" pieces or 1 very large red onion, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
Cherry tomatoes (optional, but I already had some)
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed (optional, but I LOVE mushrooms)
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, shredded
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (in Asian section at any grocery store)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Vegetable oil cooking spray (for grill)
6, 17" metal skewers (or whatever you have)

Directions:

In a large glass or ceramic dish, place the chicken and vegetables. Mix the oil, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, basil, cilantro, chili garlic sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add to the chicken and vegetables, toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 6 hours.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill to moderately hot. Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable oil cooking spray. 

Thread the chicken and vegetables onto the skewers. Drizzle the marinade over the skewers. Grill, covered, 10-12 minutes, turning with tongs several times, until the chicken is cooked through. A little cilantro sprinkled over the top makes it even prettier! Yum!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Cowboys, Germans, and a Short-Order Cook

Most people know that Texans are passionate about their barbecue, Tex-Mex, and chili; but, they also LOVE their "Chicken Fried Steak!" Don't believe me? Well, in 2011, Governor Perry put it into law, by declaring October 26 the official Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day, "to pay homage to that shared legacy" with "special deals and related activities." Not sure what a Chicken Fried Steak is? Chicken Fried Steak is when you take a sorry cut of beef, pound it, batter it, fry it, and serve it with cream gravy. Mashed potatoes and green beans are classic sides for this rib-sticking meal. The origins vary widely from the good ol' cowboy and his chuckwagon, a mistake by a short-order cook, or created by German settlers, who settled in the Texas Hill Country in the mid 1800s. Being a native Texan myself, I'll give it to the Germans! After all, it bares a striking similarity to their beloved schnitzel


Chicken Fried Steak

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the steak
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
6 cube steaks (about 5 ounces each), pounded to 1/3-inch thickness
Canola oil, for frying

For the cream gravy
1 medium onion, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

For the steak
Measure the flour, 5 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and the cayenne into a large, shallow dish or bowl. In a second large, shallow dish or bowl, beat the egg, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in the buttermilk (the mixture will bubble and foam).

Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper to taste. Drop the steaks into the seasoned flour and coat well. Shake off excess flour from each steak, then, using tongs, dip the steaks into the egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing the excess to drip off. Coat the steaks with flour again, shake off any excess, and place them on the wire rack.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, set a second wire rack over a second rimmed baking sheet, and place on the oven rack. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Meanwhile, heat 1-inch oil in a large (11" diameter) Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Place as many steaks as fits in the oil and fry, turning once, until deep golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes. Transfer the steaks to the paper-lined plate to drain, then transfer to the wire rack in the oven. Bring the oil back to 350 degrees and repeat the cooking and draining process (use fresh paper towels) with the remaining steaks.

For the cream gravy
Carefully pour the hot oil through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot. Return the browned bits from the strainer along with 2 tablespoons of the frying oil back to the Dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium, add the onion and thyme, and cook until the onion has softened and begins to brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir until well combined, about 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened (the gravy should have a loose consistency-it will thicken as it cools slightly), about 5 minutes.

To serve
Transfer the chicken fried steaks to individual plates. Spoon a generous amount of the gravy over each steak. Serve immediately, passing any remaining gravy in a bowl.

This recipe for "Chicken Fried Steak" is from The New Best Recipe, by America's Test Kitchen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Virtues of a Good Meat Mallet



Keeping in mind my "Schnitzel Week," I thought I would share this video showing various uses of a meat mallet, particularly, this "antique" one. 


ANTIQUE??? I bought this one, "Made in Italy," brand new! I'm not that old....am I? He's older than I am! Well, ego aside, a good meat mallet is very handy. It is essential to turning tough cuts of meat into something special, like schnitzel!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why do you keep busting my chops?

My husband LOVES pork! He loves bacon, (me, too), he loves pork shoulder, (me, too), he loves pork roasts, (me, too), but boneless center-cut loin chops, (not so much). However, when these lean as cardboard chops are on sale, he ALWAYS brings them home. Although I applaud his frugality, I can't help but sigh. This is perhaps one of the most difficult cuts of any meat to cook successfully, thanks to "advancements" in breeding to produce a super-lean meat. I've tried brining, stuffing, braising, and searing, but no matter what, I'm always left disappointed. 

There is only one way to keep my sanity: "schnitzel" to the rescue! By pounding the meat, (tenderizing it), breading it, (sealing in moisture), and a quick fry on the stove, (preventing overcooking), you come out with a delicious and versatile entree. Try my "Pork Schnitzel Sandwich with Hot Chili Mayo." It's easy and quite tasty, perfect for a casual meal with family and friends. So fine, keep busting my chops! I can handle it!


Pork Schnitzel Sandwich with Hot Chili Mayo

Makes 8, (great leftover for lunch the next day!)

Ingredients:

For the hot chili mayo
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot chili garlic sauce or hot chili sauce (e.g., sriracha)

For the schnitzel
4 boneless, pork center-cut loin chops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or more if needed
Canola oil, for frying

For the sandwich
8 Kaiser sandwich buns, toasted
1 head Iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 ripe, juicy tomatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced into rings (red onion would look nice, but I didn't have any)
Pickles, optional

Directions:

For the hot chili mayo
Stir all the ingredients in a small bowl. Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and chill.

For the schnitzel
Place one pork chop on a cutting board. Cut away any fat from around the edges. With a sharp knife, place one hand on top of the chop and carefully cut the chop in half, horizontally.



Set one of the cut chops aside. Cover the remaining chop with a piece of plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin, until a uniform thickness of about 1/4-1/2" thickness. 


Repeat with the remaining chops.

Prepare the Panko breading by setting up a breading station. Place flour on a plate or shallow bowl, beaten eggs in a shallow bowl, and then the Panko on another plate or shallow bowl.


Season the chops with salt and pepper. Now dredge each chop first in the flour, then the egg, and then the Panko, shaking off any excess after each step. Place the breaded chops on a cookie sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 10-20 minutes. (This ensures the breading will not fall off when cooking.)

In a large skillet, (I like non-stick), heat about 1/4 inch or so of the oil to about 350 degrees over medium to medium-high heat until the oil looks shimmery. I actually don't check the temperature. Instead, I drop a small piece of bread (usually taken from the end of a loaf) to see if it starts to bubble around the bread. Cook the chops about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, tray, or cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining chops. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

To plate
Generously spread some hot chili mayo over the top and bottom of the bun. Top with a pork schnitzel, a handful of the lettuce, a nice slice of tomato, a few rings of onion, and a couple pickles (optional). Top with the top bun and dig-in!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Schhh...it's really schnitzel...

Chicken Paillard may sound fancy, but it's really just schnitzel. The word "schnitzel" comes from the word "der Schnitz" meaning a slice or cut, and is a boneless piece of meat, hammered thinly, breaded and fried, and dates all the way back to the Romans, around the 1st century BC. In the Middle Ages, it became very popular in Northern Italy (Cotoletta alla Milanese), and Austria (Weiner Schnitzel), and made of veal. In fact, in Austria, "Weiner Schnitzel" is required BY LAW to be made of veal. However it came to be, it is a perfect way to cook a thin piece of meat quickly without drying it out, and is popular all around the globe. In Australia it is known as "Schnitty" or "Schnitter," in Iran it is called "Shenitsel," in Japan it is called "Tankatsu," in Latin America it is known as "Milanesa," and even in Texas, it was transformed into "Chicken Fried Steak." Traditionally, it is served simply with a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top. It is so versatile, with any cut of meat or fish, I think everyone should know this classic technique.

This recipe for "Chicken Paillard with Salad Greens and Creamy Parmesan Dressing," was inspired by Tyler Florence, from his book, Tyler Florence Family Meal. I love making this because everyone in my family LOVES it!!! After all, it's just about the only way to make a boneless, skinless chicken breast taste great! It is a complete meal on one plate! Add a glass of wine, and it is simply sensational!


Chicken Paillard with Salad Greens and Creamy Parmesan Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the paillard
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or more if needed
Canola oil, for frying

For the dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad
4 good handfuls of mixed salad greens or arugula
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 ounces bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls), halved, or pearl mozzarella

Fresh lemon wedges, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, for garnish

Directions:

For the dressing
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar, cover and chill.

For the paillard
Place one chicken breast on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, make a slice down the center, but not all the way through.


Make another slice on each side, but not all the way through, to make it "open." (This makes it easier to pound out evenly.)


Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin, until a uniform thickness of about 1/2-inch thickness. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.


Prepare the Panko breading by setting up a breading station. Place flour on a plate, beaten eggs in a shallow bowl, and then the Panko on another plate or shallow bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Now dredge each breast first in the flour, then the egg, and then the Panko, shaking off any excess after each step. Place the breaded chicken on a cookie sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 10-20 minutes. (This ensures that the breading will not fall off when cooking.)


In a large skillet, (I like non-stick), heat about 1/4 inch or so of the oil to about 350 degrees over medium to medium/high heat until the oil looks shimmery. I actually don't check the temperature. Instead, I drop a small piece of bread (usually taken from the end of a loaf) to see if it starts to bubble around the bread. Cook the chicken about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, tray, or cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

To serve
Mix together the salad greens, tomatoes, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Add as much dressing as you like, and toss well. (Refrigerate any remaining dressing for another use.) Plate each paillard on individual plates. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with a good handful of the salad. Garnish with a lemon wedge to be squeezed at the table. Pop open the wine and serve!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Slainte, To Your Health!

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!!

How do I say this.....traditional Irish food is....not my favorite. I spent last weekend making all traditional recipes of corned beef, buttered cabbage, champ, and brown bread from Darina Allen, of the famous Ballymaloe House hotel and cooking school in County Cork, Ireland. I even bought Irish butter, which isn't cheap in the US! After all, I needed to provide you a perfect menu for St. Patrick's Day. I was so disappointed, and I won't relay what my husband had to say. Sorry Darina, I was sure it would be awesome, but it wasn't. So, I will refer to my fabulous Irish-Inspired Menu from a previous post. No wonder my Irish friend begs me to make it! You'll love it! I PROMISE!
















and,


Have a great holiday and remember to drink responsibly!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

If it can Swim in Water, It can Swim in Butter, Right into my Mouth!

Continuing my theme of "less is more" (see Pear and Blue Cheese Salad), here is my recipe for "Trout with Butter, Almonds, and Frizzled Parsley." This unbelievably quick and easy recipe is so delicious! I like to serve it with adorable sauteed baby carrots and equally adorable steamed harticot verts. One bite and you'll be hooked!


Trout with Butter, Almonds, and Frizzled Parsley

Serves 2, but can be doubled easily

Ingredients:

2, skin-on, trout fillets
1/2 cup flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (clarified butter is best, but if not, I won't tell)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions:

In a large nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Season the first fillet with salt and pepper. Dust lightly with the flour, shaking off any excess. Lay the fillet, skin-side up, in the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Then flip the fillet over, skin-side down, and finish cooking another minute or two, or until cooked through. Remove to a serving plate. Repeat the process for the second fillet.

When the trout is done, add the almonds to the butter in the pan and let them brown slightly. Next, while standing back, add the chopped parsley to the almonds and butter. (The water in the parsley will cause it to jump everywhere, while it "frizzles!") Pour over each fillet, add a lemon wedge to be squeezed over at the table, and serve immediately! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simply Pearfect!

Sometimes we all get caught up in elaborate recipes designed to impress, but sometimes less is more. For instance, take the classic combination of pears and cheese. Delicious! To make a truly perfect salad, take a ripe juicy pear, a generous sprinkle of good quality blue cheese, a healthy drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, and a grind of black pepper, and you have an amazing, beautiful, and healthy salad in minutes. I LOVE it!


Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 ripe, juicy pears 
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (Roquefort, Stilton, or Gorgonzola)
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar (preferably from Modena)
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cut the pears into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter in half and arrange on individual salad plates. Sprinkle each plate with 1 ounce of the cheese. Mix the oil and vinegar and drizzle evenly over each plate. Season with a generous grind of black pepper and serve. Enjoy!

Friday, March 9, 2012

To Flambe, or not to Flambe?

The origins of the legendary dessert, "Crepes Suzette," is disputed. Historically, it is attributed to Henri Charpentier, who in 1895 was a 14-year old assistant waiter at Maitre at Monte Carlo's Cafe de Paris. The story goes that while preparing dessert for the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII of England), Henri accidentally lit the cordials on fire. The Prince, along with his daughter, Princess Suzanne instantly fell in love with the dish, thus the name. This is rejected by Larouse Gastronomique: The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine, and Cookery, because Henri would have been too young to be serving the Prince, rather it would have been the head waiter. Another story attributes it to Monsieur Joseph, of Restaurant Marivaux, who in 1897 provided flaming crepes on stage (for theatrical effect) for French actress Suzanne Reichenberg, known as "Suzette." However, in 1896, the recipe appeared in print, as "Pancakes, Casino Style," (but without the flambe) in The Cookbook by "Oscar" of the Waldorf, by Oscar Tschirky. 

While the origins of the dessert will always be disputed, so is the necessity to flambe it. Some insist it is essential to achieve the correct flavor. Some insist it is not. However, when given the opportunity to have a dramatic presentation, I choose flambe! There are a plethora of recipes for Crepes Suzette, but this is the simplest recipe I could find, by Nigella Lawson, for novice Crepes Suzette makers. It's easy and fun! You can serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with the sauce, if you wish.


 Crepes Suzette


8-12 crepes, 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 oranges, juiced
1 orange, zested
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
8-12 crepes (Nigella recommends store-bought, but I like homemade. Click here for my favorite recipe. That is what I used here.)
1/3 cup orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec)

Directions:

Pour the orange juice into a saucepan, and add the zest, butter, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, cooking for another 10-15 minutes, until the sauce becomes syrupy.


Fold the crepes into quarters and then arrange in a large pan, or any oven-proof dish, slightly overlapping in a circular pattern.


Pour over the warm syrup and then gently heat the crepes through for about 3 minutes over low heat.


Warm the orange liqueur of your choice in the emptied but still syrupy saucepan. When the crepes are hot in the orange sauce, pour over the liqueur and quickly light it with a long match or long lighter to flambe them. (If you don't light it right away, it might dilute and not flame.) Serve immediately, spooning crepes and sauce onto each plate.

*Note: I find that people either really love this or they really don't. If you don't like orange desserts, don't make this. If you do, you'll love it!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Oh Crepe! What's A Galette?

I think everyone knows that a crepe is a thin pancake made from white wheat flour and eaten simply with sugar (Les Crepes Sucre), filled with sweet ingredients for a dessert or snack, or filled with savory ingredients for an appetizer or main course. Then what's a galette? A galette is a crepe made with buckwheat flour, and originated in Brittany, located in the northwest region of France. Traditionally, all crepes were made with buckwheat flour, which was introduced to the region from the Middle East in the 12th century. It wasn't until the turn of the 20th century that white wheat flour became widely available and affordable. Usually, savory crepes are made with buckwheat, and sweet crepes are made with white wheat. Today, "crepes" is the generic term for both.

This recipe for "Galettes Poireau-Fromage," is adapted from My French Kitchen, by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. These savory crepes, filled with bacon, leeks, and Gruyere cheese, are delightful! Serve them with a nice green salad and a glass (or two) of wine, for an elegant meal. If you don't have or can't find buckwheat flour, just make them with 1 cup all-purpose flour, as opposed to the 1 1/3 cups all-purpose and buckwheat flour blend. I won't tell!



Galettes Poireau-Fromage (Buckwheat Crepes with Leeks and Cheese)

Makes 7 generous crepes, serves 4-6

Ingredients:

For the galettes (this is not Joanne Harris' recipe, but I like it better)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more to cook the crepes

For the filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces slab bacon, cubed
5 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced (click here for more about using leeks)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere or Tomme de Savoie cheese
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

For the crepes
In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, milk, water, flours, salt, and the melted butter for 5 seconds, or until extremely smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Gently stir the batter if it has separated. Heat a NON-STICK crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Coat the pan lightly with butter and pour in about 1/4 cup of the batter. Lift the pan from the heat, tilting and rotating, to allow the batter to spread evenly. Return pan to the heat and allow to cook until dry on top and browned on the edges. Loosen the edges with a plastic or rubber spatula and flip the crepe over using your fingers or spatula, then cook the other side for about 15 seconds, or until lightly browned. Remove the crepe  to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the crepes as they are cooked.

For the filling
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the bacon, leeks, and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The aim is to cook the leeks until they are soft and any excess liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyere and creme fraiche.



Place a generous spoonful of the mixture on a quarter of each crepe.


Fold in half, and in half again to make little triangular cones. (You can "stuff" them generously.)

Brush a baking sheet with some of the melted butter. Arrange the filled crepes on the baking sheet and brush with the remaining butter. Bake until the crepes are heated through, about 15 minutes. (They will get pleasantly crisp on top, and warm and delicious on the inside!) Serve at once!

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Crazy Crepe Man"




Apparently, Julio (aka., "Crazy Crepe Man"), makes the best crepes and is somewhat of a tourist attraction in Alcudia, Mallorca. He really loves making crepes, and so do I! They are cheap, fast, and very versatile. This is a fabulous and simple recipe for "Les Crepes Sucre," taught to me by an old friend who lived in France. However, I highly recommend buying a NON-STICK crepe pan! (I have a 9-inch crepe pan, and it is great for omelettes as well!) It may take a little practice at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be making crepes all the time!


Les Crepes Sucre (Simple Sugar Crepes)

Makes about 15 crepes

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more to cook the crepes
Sugar

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, milk, water, flour, salt, and the melted butter for 5 seconds, or until extremely smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Gently stir the batter if it has separated. Heat a NON-STICK crepe pan over medium-high heat until hot. Coat the pan lightly with butter and pour in about 1/4 cup of the batter. Lift the pan from the heat, tilting and rotating, to allow the batter to spread evenly.


Return pan to the heat and allow to cook until dry on top and lightly browned on the edges.


Loosen the edges with a plastic or rubber spatula and flip the crepe over using your fingers or spatula, then cook the other side for about 15 seconds, or until lightly browned.


Remove the crepe to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the crepes as they are cooked. To make "Les Crepes Sucre," place a warm crepe on a plate, sprinkle generously with sugar.


Fold the crepe in half. (The heat from the crepe will melt the sugar.) Then fold in half again, making a triangle. Pick it up and devour this delightful treat!

Friday, March 2, 2012

House of Tiles?... and What do the Swiss have to do with Enchiladas?


Casa de los Azulejos or "House of Tiles" is an 18th century palace located in the heart of Mexico City. The palace was built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba in honor of his marriage to Graciana Suarez Peredo. A later renovation added the distinctive Puebla tile to the facade, giving the palace it's name. The palace passed hands a few times, used as a private residence, a jockey club, a women's clothing store, and was occupied by the army during the Mexican Revolution. In 1917, brothers, Frank and Walter Sanborn, purchased the property to expand their drugstore and to open it's flagship restaurant, "Sanborns." In 1931, the palace was declared a national monument. Click here for an awesome look inside! (The music's fun, too!)

Sanborns is a fabulous place to visit and grab a bite to eat. In fact, this is the birthplace of their signature dish, "Enchiladas Suizas." Enchiladas Suizas literally translates to "Swiss Enchiladas." Why? Well, in 1922, Mexican President Alvaro Obregon invited fleeing Mennonites, mainly from Swiss and German roots, to settle in the northern regions of the country. In addition to cheap land and freedom from taxation for 100 years, the Mennonites agreed to supply cheese and dairy products to the region. Later that year, a whopping 20,000 Mennonites arrived and began making their cheese, known as queso menonita, which is now known as Chihuahua cheese! The current population is estimated to be about 80,000, and makes 80% of the region's cheese and 70% of its dairy products!

Enchiladas Suizas are ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! These chicken enchiladas, smothered in a green chile cream sauce and topped with melty cheese, are my absolute favorite! The name is a tribute to the Swiss cheesemakers who made it all possible!


Enchiladas Suizas

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the sauce
1 pound (6-8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 medium white onion, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 serrano chiles or 2 jalapenos, stemmed
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Mexican crema, creme fraiche, or heavy cream
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

For the enchiladas
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheese, Chihuahua or Monterey Jack, halved
12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup canola oil
Sliced white onion, for garnish
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions:

For the sauce
Roast the tomatillos, sliced onion, peeled garlic, and chiles on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet, 4-inches below a hot broiler until the tomatillos are soft and blotchy black on one side, 4-5 minutes. Turn everything over and roast the other side.


Scrape the tomatillo mixture into a blender or food processor.


Process to a smooth puree. Heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a medium-large (4-5 quart) pot over medium high. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of puree sizzle, add the puree all at once. Stir nearly constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker. Add the broth and the crema, reduce the heat to medium low, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.


When done, if the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of a light cream soup, stir in a little more broth (or water). Taste and season with the salt. Set aside.

For the enchiladas
In a large bowl, mix the chicken, onion, and 1 cup of the cheese. Season with the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1/2 cup canola oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Using tongs, cook 1 tortilla until pliable, about 20 seconds per side. (Don't fry them!) Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.


Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a 13x9x2" baking dish. Making one at a time, spoon 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Roll up tortilla and arrange seam side down in baking dish.



When all the enchiladas are nestled in neatly, cover with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the enchiladas until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. Garnish with the sliced onion and cilantro. Serve immediately. You're going to LOVE it!