Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beef Tamales

Last weekend my good friend Erin and I attacked a very long but super rewarding cooking adventure, we made about 100 homemade tamales from scratch.  We had planned on making tamales together for over a year but it didn't happen until her boyfriend became obsessed with eating tamales and went to the tamale cart almost everyday.  We decided it was great motivation to make a bunch and freeze them for all our tamale cravings.  This recipe is for the beef tamales but we also made chicken tomatillo, and pork tamales, all of which are delightful!  All in all the tamale making took us about 8 hours and required some very creative steaming contraptions.  I am very excited for this weekend because my boyfriend and I are going to the annual Polish Festival in North Portland.  It is one of my favorite Portland cultural events, not to mention the tasty pierogis and delicious beer (definitely check it out if you haven't ever been).  Then on Saturday night I am going to a great fundraiser for EveryLibrary (a nonprofit social welfare organization chartered to work exclusively on local library ballot initiatives).  The event is called Tatas for Libraries, it is a tasteful burlesque show hosted in the beautiful Norse Hall and I'm sure it will be a blast!  One last note, I love that it rained all morning here in Portland, OR makes me so happy!

Makes about 30

The Ingredients

For Beef:

4 lbs beef roast (buy something leanish and inexpensive-ish)
1 large onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
2Tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp cumin
1 (15oz) can enchilada sauce
For Masa:
4 cups masa
4 cups leftover cooking liquid from meat
1 1/3 cups lard
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 bag corn husks
The Process
Day 1: (about 8 hours)
1.  Place beef, onion, and garlic in a slow cooker. Add 2 Tbsp chili powder, 1 Tbsp cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour in enough water to cover or almost cover the meat. (You could use low-sodium beef broth.) Cook on low 8-10 hours or till very very tender. Don’t discard the broth! Shred beef, pour in the enchilada sauce and refrigerate. Store broth separately in a container in the refrigerator.
2.  Soak corn husks in warm water overnight.

Day 2: (about 4 hours)

1.  Rinse corn husks and drain well.

2.  Add just enough broth (only a few tablespoons) to just moisten the meat. Taste and check seasoning. If somewhat bland, add more cumin and chili powder. You may need to add a little more broth.

3.  To make masa mixture, combine masa, lard, baking powder, and salt and stir.

4.  Then add the cooking water and mix.  Next add the lard and mix until dough is slightly sticky.

5.  Watch this video to learn how to assemble, we also took little strips of corn husk and tied them around the tamales to secure them.

6.  We steamed them (over a vegetable steamer in a large pot with water) for 2 1/2 hours (covered), then we uncovered them and steamed for another 1/2 hour.  When they are done the masa will start to pull away from the corn husk wrapping.  At this point you can eat them fresh or freeze them!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mushroom and Beef Chili

I finally got to make my chili...I almost lost it on Monday evening because as I mentioned in my last blog post my oven hasn't been working for 2 1/2 weeks and then I arrived home Monday night and my stove was out of commission too.  With all my chili ingredients in hand to make a fabulous and hearty chili I read the note my landlord left saying sorry he will fix the whole appliance as soon as he can.  All I could think was my day was lame (as it was a Monday), I am starving, and great thanks for being so vague.  After I accepted I wasn't going to be able to make chili I reluctantly sauntered down to Subway because I had no more energy or patience to feed myself any other way, and no it was not satisfying.  Tuesday morning I woke up happy and ready for the day and to my surprise when I got home after a grueling workout my stove and oven were fixed!!  So as you can imagine I made my special mushroom and beef chili recipe.  I know we all deal with lots of dumb things everyday but when it comes down to it cooking makes me forget it all.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 small can of diced green chilies

2 cups crimini mushrooms, quartered

1/8 cup chili powder

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt, divided

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup broth (I used vegetable)

1 pound ground beef (85-90% lean)

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

16 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

The Process
1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until it is shimmering. Add the onions, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.

2. Add the beef and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes (with their juice), tomato paste, green chilies, mushrooms, Worcestershire, honey, vinegar, broth, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so it maintains a slow simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste before serving. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and chips, if desired.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Asparagus Wrapped Chicken with Hollandaise Sauce

I had a very exciting weekend, first off we went to Eugene to visit my boyfriend's family and go to a baby shower and last minute I got a ticket to go with my boyfriend to the Ducks vs. Michigan State game!  If you watched it you know it was an amazing game that we (the Ducks) won!  It was my first Duck game since I was a freshman at the University of Oregon, and now I'm back to work and another boring Monday is in full effect.  For the last 2 going on 3 weeks my oven has been broken and I haven't been able to bake anything, if that weren't frustrating enough the repair man didn't show up or call on two separate occasions.  So finally my landlord said he would fix it which is great because I'm not going to sit around and waste 3 hour chunks of time anymore and dang it I want my oven working.  I always love to roast my asparagus but since I don't have a working oven I had to get creative and that is when researched different asparagus recipes and came up with this one.  (Mind you my boyfriend did make the hollandaise sauce and boy is it delicious).

Serves 2

The Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, pounded out
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bunch of asparagus washed, bottom 2 inches cut off
8 toothpicks
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup melted butter or clarified butter (add more if you want)
Dash of cayenne

The Process

1.  Put chicken breasts on a cutting board, and pound them out. Season each of the pieces of chicken on both sides with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Take about half of the bunch of asparagus, and roll the chicken around it. Secure the roll with about 4 toothpicks each.

2.  In a large frying pan, heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the hot pan and turn to brown on all sides. Once the chicken is browned, turn the heat down to medium and add chicken broth, wine and thyme. Let chicken simmer in the broth mixture for about 10 minutes, turning once halfway through.

3.  While the chicken is simmering you can make the hollandaise sauce. In a small saucepan, beat the egg yolks with a whisk with no heat. Add the lemon juice, mustard powder and cayenne to the egg yolks and whisk again to combine. Very slowly drizzle in the melted butter into the egg yolks while continuing to whisk. Once the butter is combined, place the saucepan over medium-low heat.  You want the sauce to come up to temperature but not boil, and stir occasionally. Just before the sauce wants to start bubbling remove from heat. (you can also use a double boiler to make this process easier).

4.  Drizzle the hollandaise sauce over the asparagus stuffed chicken and serve!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blue and Blackberry Ginger Pie

This last weekend we had a very social but somehow still relaxing weekend.  We rode our bikes to the Skidmore Bluffs and had a very nice picnic and played many rounds of rummy until the sun set.  On another night we attended our friend's 5 year wedding anniversary potluck party, for this I actually baked a pie!  As you have seen in the past I don't really bake nor do I like to, but pies are my one exception.  I like making pie and I'm actually good at it.  I only very slightly adapted this recipe because if I were to improvise much at all I would end up with a mess, baking is just a little too precise for me.  I used fresh blueberries and blackberries from my mother's yard, I also used her kitchen and moral support to make sure the pie turned out perfect and it did.  Enjoy!

Serves 8

The Ingredients
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Cup cold, unsalted butter diced
4 Tbsp. ice water
For the Filling:
4 Cups  blackberries fresh or frozen
4 Cups blueberries fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp small tapioca
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/3 Cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp crystallized ginger diced finely
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp unsalted butter diced
1 egg beaten (for washing the crust)
The Process
Prepare the crust:
  1. In the bowl combine the flour, butter and salt. Pulse until combined and the mixture looks like coarse meal.
  2. Slowly add the ice water and mix until just combined. Dump mixture out on to work surface (will be crumbly) and mix until incorporated.
  3. Divide in half, press into flat circles and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the berries and all remaining ingredients except the butter and egg in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Roll out dough on a floured work surface in two large rounds. Line a 9" deep dish pie plate with one. Cut 8, 1" strips from the other round. Re-rolling if necessary. Pour filling into the bottom crust, dot with the diced butter, and top with four strips of crust, weave into a lattice or use a fun cookie cutter and make designs in the top, just be creative! Brush top with the beaten egg. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then lower heat to 375 for the remaining 40 minutes, or until the juices bubble and the crust turns golden brown.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chicken Cutlets with Lemon Garlic Sauce

This past weekend was Pickle Fest 2014.  Again my mother and I went to the Beaverton Farmer's Market to gather all of the pickles, dill, and red peppers we needed.  This year we even came across white pickles, I haven't ever seen or heard of them but they were perfect size for pickling so we bought several pounds.  This year we ended up only pickling 25lbs because we have so many left over from last year, so hopefully we don't run out!  After a long, boring, taxing, and uneventful Tuesday I decided I needed to go to the gym and then go home and cook a lovely meal.  No matter how lame of a day I have when I go home and cook and create a delicious and healthy meal it always turns it around.  Creating a meal isn't only an accomplishment, it is immediately satisfying, and a way to express love to your significant other.  I adapted this recipe for the chicken, as for the wilted 4 cups of spinach and 1 cup tomatoes in 1 1/2 Tbsp. pesto...well just do exactly how it sounds and add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup arrowroot powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 egg
1/3 cup almond flour
1 tsp. paprika (or Creole seasoning)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 Tbsp. bacon fat (or olive oil)

1/4 cup broth or stock
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed
Italian parsley to garnish

The Process
1) Pound the chicken breasts to about 1/2 in. thick using a meat mallet.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and fresh cracked pepper. Set aside.

2) Get out 3 shallow bowls and line them up next to the stove. In the one furthest from the stove, mix the arrowroot powder with the garlic and onion powder. In the middle bowl, lightly whisk the egg. In the bowl closest to the stove, mix the almond flower with the paprika, thyme, and salt.

3) In a bowl or measuring cup, mix the broth with the lemon juice and garlic cloves. Set aside until the chicken is cooked.

4) Melt 2 Tbsp. bacon fat over medium-high heat in a large non-stick pan. Lightly dredge the chicken in the arrowroot mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip it in the egg, then dredge it in the almond flour mixture, again shaking off any excess, and lay it carefully in the hot pan. Do the same with the other chicken piece.

5) Cook chicken for about 5 minutes each side until golden brown, crispy, and cooked through. If the pan is dry when you flip the chicken, add the additional bacon fat. Once cooked, remove to a plate.

6) Quickly add the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom. When the sauce has reduced a little, this takes about 30 seconds, pour it over the chicken, sprinkle on the Italian parsley, and serve.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Spaghetti & Meatball Soup

I have been on a soup making kick!  Soups are by far my favorite thing to make because they take time, effort, and lots of love.  Yesterday I went to a conference put on by the Greater Portland Postal Customer Council and the USPS and it was pretty darn interesting, a whole world away from my librarian roots.  I was surprised at how formal everyone was and there were long gaps of nothing to do.  This surprised me because in the conference planning that I've done we always run out of time.  I'm excited to relax this weekend and go out on date night tonight with my man.  We are going to the awesome St. Johns Theater to see Sin City 2, drink beer and eat pizza, all of which sounds easy and fun to me.  I adapted this recipe and found this soup to be delightful.

Serves 6

The Ingredients
1 lbs ground beef
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons almond flour
1 ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 medium carrots, grated (I used a box grater)
1 small zucchini, grated (I used a box grater)
½ medium onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt & pepper
32 oz chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
24 oz jar of marinara sauce
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup uncooked broken wheat spaghetti pieces (1 inch sticks)
1 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
The Process
1.  In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, garlic powder, tablespoon of grated Parmesan, almond flour, ¾ teaspoon of the Italian seasoning, and egg. Using your hands (or a spoon), mush all the ingredients together until well combined. Roll meat mixture into 30 separate (3/4” – 1”) mini meatballs.

2.  In a large stock pot bring 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the oil and cook them, stirring occasionally until all sides are browned. Remove meatballs to a dish and set aside.

3.  Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the pot and continue to heat to medium. Add the carrots, zucchini, onion and garlic and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

4.  Add the meatballs, chicken broth, marinara sauce, red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar
 and remaining ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning to the pot with the vegetables. Stir together and cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, uncover and lower the heat to a simmer. Add the spaghetti pieces and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the pasta and the meatballs are cooked through. Add the Parmesan cheese in the last couple minutes of the simmer and stir in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ginger Chicken and Vegetable Soup

It is still summer how are my boyfriend and I sick?...He is definitely sicker than I am, so I decided to do the cooking and I'm making sure we flush all the bad stuff out.  We have been busy and going out of town for the last month and a half on fun adventures so I guess this was bound to happen.  Luckily we are staying in town this weekend and it also happens to be Pickle Fest 2014 with my mom.  Every year my mother and I (sometimes my aunt too) get together and make our secret batch of about 40lbs of pickles and it is by far one of my favorite things.  It appears that I forgot to post about Pickle Fest last year but here is a post from two years ago.  Onto my recipe it is healing and delicious, so whether you need it now or in the winter I hope it helps cure whatever ails you too.

Serves 5

The Ingredients
8 cups of vegetable broth

3 tablespoons of fresh ginger root, grated

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 cup green beans, snapped in half

1 cup zucchini, chopped

2 cups cooked chicken breast

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (I like things acidic)

2 tablespoon sriracha

1/2 teaspoon nature's seasoning (or any of your favorite simple spice mix)

3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped

pepper to taste

The Process
1.  Add broth, garlic, ginger, carrots, and green beans to a pot and bring to a boil.  Then turn heat down to about medium (so that there is a rolling simmer).

2.  Add zucchini, lemon juice, nature's seasoning, sriracha, and pepper.  Let simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

3.  Add pre cooked chicken and cook for about 5 more minutes (I like my veggies crunchy so if you don't cook longer).  Add chives and take off heat to serve.