November 20, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate

I think you all have picked up on the fact that I absolutely love brussels sprouts, to the point of going on a quest to convert as many non-eaters to eaters and/or lovers of these little veggies. I usually stick to the classic roasted version, but then I saw this recipe from Bobby Flay in Food Network Magazine and knew I had to try it. Plus, apparently pomegranate is what all the cool kids are doing, since I brought this dish to a friends house for a potluck, and two other dishes also included pomegranates. This dish is so simple to make, and has incredible flavors, everyone raved about it. So yes, I am finally getting a Thanksgiving dish posted before Thanksgiving, which means you should probably add this one to your Thanksgiving feast this year. Plus, the pomegranate molasses will rock your world.

What's in it
1-2 lb brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
2 Tbl canola oil
salt and pepper, fresh ground
3 Tbl pomegranate molasses*
seeds of one pomegranate
1/2 C roasted walnuts (or hazelnuts or pecans...)
fine zest of one lime and one mandarin

How it's made
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (or 400 for a more roasty version). Put the brussels in a medium roasting pan (or large dutch oven with wide base) and toss with oil, salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and a knife inserted goes in easily, 45 min - 1 hour. Transfer to a bowl (or not) and toss with remaining ingredients. Serve warm.

*this ingredient was the clincher...I went to Monterey Market in Berkeley for the brussels and pomegranate, and decided I would make this dish if they had the molasses. They ended up having two different types, and it was really inexpensive. You can probably find it if you look a few places. Or make it yourself.

Minestrone Soup

As daylight savings kicked into gear this November, and we all 'fell back', I immediately went into 'one soup a week' mode. I have some great standbys like Tortilla Soup, Pozole, Veggie Chowder, Thai Dumpling Soup and Tom Ka Gai. But then I realized I absolutely love Minestrone, and had never made it before (as far as I can remember). Being Italian, I realized I had been ignoring my roots, and fell into the belief minestrone only came from restaurants and my Grandma Nonna. My beloved Nonna is no longer alive to ask for a recipe, so I looked through all my cookbooks, and put a recipe together from a few different sources, mostly Joy of Cooking and The Silver Palate Good Times cookbooks. On the first go I vastly underestimated the power of pasta, but by the second and third rounds I think I have the soup dialed. Here's what I came up with...

What's in it
olive oil
chopped carrots*
chopped celery
chopped onion
minced garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
sweet italian sausage (uncooked, casing removed)
shredded cabbage or chopped kale
chopped basil
4-10 C chicken broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
16 oz cannellini beans (white kidney), rinsed through
chopped zucchini
other optional additions (add with zucchini): bell pepper, green beans, parsley, parmesan rind
orzo or other small pasta noodle (macaroni, small tortellini, parfelles etc)
garnish with fresh grated parmesan and ground pepper

*I don't give any measurements, because what I use always comes out with a giganitic pot of soup, so if you want something more manageable it wouldn't help you. If you need recommendation, do one or two of each veggie (and 1/2 to 1 onion) with a half or whole pound sausage (or bacon, or pancetta).

How it's made
Prep all your veggies then heat olive oil (1-2 Tbl) in a large ceramic coated dutch oven or large stock pot. Add sausage and break into little pieces with your stirring spoon, cook in oil until browned. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic add dashed of salt and saute until softened. Add rosemary (whole) and put cabbage/kale and basil on top of the cooked veggies, letting it steam on top for a few minutes before mixing in. Cook until wilted then add canned tomato, rinsing inside of can with water and adding it as well. Bring to a simmer, then add chicken broth and parmesan rind then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add beans and zucchini. If you want to speed up this part of the process, heat chicken broth and canned tomato in a pot separate so it is hot when added. Simmer until zucchini is al dente, then add your pasta. Go very conservative, it grows to about 10 times its size, especially if you don't eat the soup right away. Kind of like the magic growing dinosaurs - just add water. I use orzo because it is so small to begin with, and for a big pot of soup I use 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Simmer your soup until the pasta is cooked, then serve with crusty bread.

November 13, 2011

Enchiladas Suizas

I made these enchiladas to drop off for our friends who just had a baby. Enchiladas are great because they aren't very labor intensive and you can make them ahead of time. (And who doesn't love a gooey cheese-y comfort food dish at this time of year.) Done and done. I went to look up this recipe and realized that there were no photos posted, so I took a couple and added them here. I figured I would re-post this 2009 recipe while I was at it. We'll call it a belated día de los muertos post...
Living in Mexico, this was easily one of my top five dishes to order. (Which, if you have ever been to Mexico, you'll know that's really saying something. So much good food!) As far as I'm concerned, enchiladas suizas are without a doubt the best enchilada out there. Creamy, cheesy chicken and green chile sauce? Yes, please. And just so you know, it would be nearly sacrilegious to make enchiladas with flour tortillas. (In fact, corn is always best, in my not-so-humble opinion.)

This recipe is a variation on one I found about five years ago in the San Francisco Chronicle Food Section. The woman who wrote it got the recipe from the family running the bed and breakfast where she stayed. The original version calls for making the salsa verde from scratch, but I didn't want to spend all day on this and just used canned green enchilada sauce. Some brands are better than others, and while I've yet to do a brand by brand taste test, I know that El Pato, Las Palmas and La Victoria are decent.

(If you are wondering, the word suiza, surprisingly enough, means Swiss. Apparently Swiss immigrants in Mexico often ended up making cheeses and other dairy products, like the crema Mexicana in this dish.)

Enchiladas Suizas
The Chicken
  • 2 chicken breasts (It called for bone and skin, but we used boneless/skinless.)
  • 1/4 of a white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  1. Rinse chicken and put in a 4 quart pot with the onion quarter and garlic. Add broth. If the chicken is not completely covered, add water until covered. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let chicken cool in broth for 20 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and when cool, shred it.
  3. Save the broth for use in any recipe calling for chicken broth. (We used it to make tortilla soup.)
The Enchiladas

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 10 large corn tortillas
  • 4 cups (or more) green chile enchilada sauce (spicy, if you like!)
  • Shredded chicken from above
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion (optional)
  • 3 cups grated manchego or Monterey Jack Cheese (We used cheddar and it was fine.)
  • 3/4 cup crema Mexicana (We had to substitute sour cream; it's definitely not as good as the real stuff.)
  1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a wide skillet and fry the tortillas (1-2 at a time) to soften them, turning once--about 20 seconds on each side. Stack them as you finish. Add more oil to the pan as needed.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Use 1 teaspoon oil (I used a spray instead) to coat a 12x9 inch (or so) baking dish. Spread 1 cup of green sauce over the bottom of the dish.
  4. Moisten the shredded chicken with 3/4 cup of the green sauce.
  5. For each enchilada, spoon some of the chicken, some chopped onions and some shredded cheese down the middle of a tortilla. Roll it up and place seam side down in the dish.
  6. When all of the enchiladas are in the dish, spread 1 tablespoon of crema over each one. Pour 2 cups (or more as desired) of the green sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinke more grated cheese all over the top.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Pass the remaining salsa verde at the table.

November 8, 2011

Thai Dumpling Soup

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, from their quick and easy dinner section. Seeing as the weather has finally started to get very chilly, and I've been itching to cook thai food, it seemed the perfect opportunity to try this recipe. What I found out is that not only is this soup easier and faster to make than Tom Ka Gai, one of the simplest thai soups, but it is even more delicious. I've never made dumpling soup, and what I realized is unlike in a restaurant, I don't have to ration the 2 or 3 dumplings your soup will have, because when you make it yourself, you can have as many dumplings as you'd like! So do yourself a favor and try this one out in the next couple weeks. You will not regret it.

What's in it
2 Tbl oil
3 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/2 onion, sliced in 1/4" wedges
dried (or fresh) shittake mushrooms
1 Tbl curry powder
4 C chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
1 C water
1 Tbl fish sauce
1/4 lb fresh green beans trimmed and cut in half
optional: sliced crimini mushrooms, sliced bell peppers
1 lb frozen thai dumplings (I found delicious frozen chicken cilantro mini dumplings at Trader Joes)
lime and sliced green onions

How it's made
Boil 2 cups water and pour over dried shittake mushrooms in a bowl, if using. Use another bowl or cup to weigh them down under water. Let sit 30 minutes until re-hydrated. Prep other ingredients in the meantime.
In a large dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add celery, onion, shittake mushrooms and curry powder. Stir until curry powder is toasted and vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce and water (use water from re-hydrating mushrooms if you'd like more mushroom flavor, but be sure to strain out bits). Bring to a simmer and add crimini mushrooms if using. Add green beans (and bell pepper if using) and simmer about 3-5 minutes until green beans are crisp tender. Add frozen dumplings and bring back to simmer until dumplings are cooked through. Serve garnished with lime juice and chopped green onions.
I highly encourage you to adapt this recipe to your taste. Clearly I like mushrooms so I load up on them, but maybe you'd like to see tomatoes or galanga and lemongrass for a more authentic flavor, or more green beans. The great thing about soups is they are very flexible to adaptation, so have fun with it!