Friday, January 27, 2012

Stuffed Poblanos with Goat Cheese & Andouille Sausage by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian

(Part of a series featuring 50 Women Game Changers in Food by Gourmet Live)

I just joined a group of bloggers (there's a list of who's participating at the end of this post), founded by Mary of One Perfect Bite, who are celebrating Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers in Food. Each week, the group features one of the women ranked on the list (going sequentially) and make a dish of hers. The group's currently on #32. I'm sad that I missed 31 of them but, I'm glad that I jumped on the boat some time and best of all, one of my favorites, Ina Garten, is yet to come! :D

This week, at #32, we have Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian. I'd never heard of them before but, once I researched them, it was interesting to read about them championing the cause of eating fresh, healthy food daily and helping people connect with resources to make that happen. They co-founded Edible Communities, Inc., America’s largest publishing company dedicated to the local foods movement, in 2002. The company currently publishes 70 titles across North America and is currently adding new magazines at a rate of 10 per year. The content for each publication is region-specific and focuses on the farmers, fishermen, chefs and food artisans from each area. They also launched their first cookbook, "Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods", in April 2010 and have 4 more in the pipeline.

I naturally picked a recipe featured in their cookbook for my dish of the week for the series. And boy, was I glad I chose the one I did because these stuffed poblanos were beyond delicious. I am generally a very humble cook but, I couldn't stop gasping in wonder at how good it tasted, thanks to Tracey and Carole. 

The goat cheese mixture with basil and cilantro is a dream (I ate spoonfuls of the mixture even before stuffing the poblanos, it was THAT GOOD) and the roasted red pepper sauce knocks this dish into the heavens and back!

There are still some notes I would make to myself. The recipe calls for roasting the peppers and chiles. Since I've never roasted anything on an open flame before, I was overly cautious. I think I removed them off the flame a little too early since I wasn't able to get all the skin off without spending hours on it. I just got what I could and left the rest on. Roasting them longer would've also made them softer and more tender. So, just be a little mindful of this if this is the first time you're roasting peppers too. Don't be worried about scorching them whole, they need to get as black as they can!

Bon Appetit!

Stuffed Poblanos with Goat Cheese & Andouille Sausage (adapted from Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods)

Ingredients & instructions:

Roasted poblanos and red peppers:
  • 8 poblano chiles
  • 2 large red bell peppers
Stuffed Poblanos:
  • 4 ounces mild goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Panela cheese or Monterey Jack
  • 3/4 cup chopped Andouille sausages
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
Red Bell Pepper Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Roast and peel the poblano chiles and red peppers: Over an open gas flame (on the stovetop or outdoor grill), roast the chiles and peppers, turning with tongs for even roasting, about 5 minutes each (you can roast two or three at a time on each gas burner). You can use your oven's broiler as well, if you don't have a gas stove or grill. Make sure you get the chiles and peppers blackened and blistered all over. While they should be soft, be careful not to overcook them since they need to hold the stuffing while baking.

Place the hot chiles and peppers into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or with plastic wrap; set aside for about 15 minutes. Using a paring knife, gently rub the skin off of the flesh of each chile and pepper. Wipe the surface of the flesh with paper towels to remove most of the excess skin and charred bits; discard the skin and set the chiles and peppers aside. 

Make the stuffed poblanos: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum baking sheet. Carefully slit each chile down one side and remove the seeds, leaving the stems attached. In a medium bowl, combine the goat cheese, Panela cheese, chopped sausages, shallot, chopped red pepper, cilantro, basil, salt and pepper; stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Divide the cheese mixture into eight equal portions. Place one portion into each chile, being careful not to overfill. Close each chile, overlapping the edges slightly. Transfer the stuffed poblanos to the baking sheet. Bake until just warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Make the sauce: Cut open the roasted red bell peppers; remove and discard the stems and seeds. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and Serrano chile and cook, stirring occasionally until the shallots are tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the roasted red peppers, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add more broth as needed to reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Return the sauce to the skillet to warm slightly.

To serve, pour shallow bed of sauce on the plate, place a stuffed poblano pepper in the middle and spoon a little more on it. I cut my peppers in half, sprinkled a little more Monterey Jack cheese and baked them for a few minutes till the cheese melted. 


Here's a list of the other bloggers participating in this series. Do go over to their blogs to see what yummy dishes they've whipped up. If you'd like to join the group, please get in touch with Mary of One Perfect Bite. 

Val - More Than Burnt Toast [] Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed [] Susan - The Spice Garden [] Heather - girlichef [] Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney [] Jeanette - Healthy Living [] Mary - One Perfect Bite [] Kathleen - Bake Away with Me [] Sue - The View from Great Island [] Barbara - Movable Feasts [] Linda A - There and Back Again [] Nancy - Picadillo [] Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits [] Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen [] Annie - Most Lovely Things [] Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook [] Alyce - More Time at the Table [] Amrita -Beetles Kitchen Escapades

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Southern comfort: Shrimp and Grits

Last year was a good vacation year for me. I traveled quite a bit. The cities that found a special place in my heart were New Orleans and Savannah. I LOVED both places. The food - out of this world since it is the kind of comfort food I can live on. The sights - just plain beautiful with lots of French and Victorian architecture. The shopping - pretty, quaint little knick-knacks. The company - the husband. I couldn't have asked for better vacations.

At both cities, we indulged in a lot of southern staples, including Shrimp and Grits. Well, the husband did since I was busy stuffing my face with other yummy foods like Jambalaya, fried Chicken, Beignets and much more!

I remember watching this Food Network Throwdown with Bobby Flay and a native of one of the cities in Louisiana, if I'm not mistaken - a Throwdown of Shrimp and Grits! I remember scribbling down instructions of what they created and putting that in my list of to-make recipes. But I promptly forgot about it. After my trip to New Orleans (and Savannah, most recently), I knew I had to dig it up and quickly make it!

Here's what I managed to gather from the show though I don't remember whose recipe I was following and whether this is accurate. It tasted yummy, nonetheless! I must say, though, this dish is best eaten fresh and hot off the stove! Bon Appetit!

Shrimp and grits

Ingredients and instructions:

For the grits

  • 1 cup grits
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese

For the Shrimp

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 scallion sprigs, chopped

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

Bring the water to a boil. Add the bouillon cubes and stir to dissolve. Add the grits and let it cook according to manufacturer's directions. Once it's cooked, add the butter and stir. Add the cream and cheese, stir till the cheese is melted. Remove from flame and keep aside.

In a bowl, mix the shrimp, salt, powdered pepper, cayenne pepper and italian seasoning. In a frying pan, melt the butter on medium high heat. Saute the garlic in the butter till it starts to brown. Add the shrimp and let it cook. Add the chopped scallions, stir for a minute. Turn off the flame.

In another pan on medium heat, add the butter and once it's melted, add the flour. Stir constantly for a minute till the raw smell of the flour goes. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Add the chicken broth slowly and stir till the flour mixture is completely incorporated. Add the worcestershire and hot sauce. Increase the heat to medium and continue to stir till the sauce thickens.

You can add the shrimp to the sauce before serving over the grits or you could assemble them individually.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rocky Mountain Brownie Cups with a hint of Kahlua

Oh yes! This is not just a rocky road, but a rocky mountain filled with bounteous chocolatey madness. You'll get a hint of Kahlua but, you won't be thinking of that when you dive into a triple chocolate wave.

I was on a chocolate high after eating one but, I couldn't get enough of it. I gobbled one as soon as it was out of the oven and inhaled another after taking photos. Hey, I can't let the poor brownie I cut into for pictures just rot away, can I?

These tasted even more delicious after a baking disaster. I was down in the dumps after a failed experiment with cupcakes. Cupcakes! I know. Who can go wrong with cupcakes? I was heartbroken that the very love of my life had let me down. Truth is, I was the one that screwed up. I tried playing around with flavors and it bit me in the rear end.

Lessons learned: 1) never EVER make frosting with ricotta cheese (I don't know what possessed me) 2) never try to right the mistake of using ricotta, with your aspirations of mixing unique flavors a la Cupcake Wars and 3) when all else fails, MAKE BROWNIES! What's even better? Make them like cupcakes if you're in love with cupcakes.

Bon Appetit!

Rocky Mountain Brownie Cups (adapted from Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies)
(Note: I made only a quarter of the original quantity in Ina's recipe and got 12 brownie cupcakes - regular sized not the mini ones)

Ingredients and instructions:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces plus 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A handful of pecans (I went easy on the quantity since I don't like a lot of nuts in my cakes/brownies)
For the topping:
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup broken pretzel pieces
  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place cupcake liners in your cupcake pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat - mine got a bit fluffy because I mixed mine with an excited hand) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. 

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the Kahlua and mix gently. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into your cupcake moulds.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (bake for 20 minutes if you're using a sheet pan like regular brownies), then rap the cupcake tray against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. You know it's done if a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! 

Once your brownie cupcakes are out of the oven, change the setting to broil, preferably at low. 

Mix together your topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over all the cupcakes. Put it back in the oven for a minute or two till the marshmallows turn light brown. Watch it carefully because the marshmallows burn in a second. Mine nearly did in less than a minute when I set the broiler at high.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Turkey Meatloaf Pie with a simple Mushroom Sauce

Earlier this week, we had a freak day of snow. I mean that in every sense of the word. The day started out with flurries and got me all excited about the prospect of snow.

I'm in love with gazing out the window and soaking in the picture-perfect pretty white snow-topped trees and roofs. My eyes happily ignore the madness on the ground, where people have to slog over shoveling sidewalks or walk gingerly to avoid ski-ing down the road (I'm glad I haven't had the pleasure yet, but, being the klutz I am, I'm sure it's coming sooner than later) or leave the house an hour early to make up for snow traffic or crazies on the road.

We've had flurries before but they've never lasted this long. It started in the morning and lasted all day! Yes, so I was hopeful that days of snow were here again. And Voila, by late afternoon, the ground started turning white and the tree and roof tops too. I was ecstatic. Well, at least till next morning, when the sun decided it wasn't time to give me a good snowy landscape yet.

Though it's been sunny here and there ever since, winter is definitely here and it is time for nice, comforting, meaty meals. That's when I thought of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. What's even better? I put everything together and made a meatloaf pie so it was just one dish of goodness. Yumm! I'm a sucker for simple, easy to make meals. You top it off with some sauteed mushrooms or a sauce and you're set with a dinner that you can curl up to on the couch (yes, we break rules by eating dinner on the couch but it's so much more cosy!). Bon Appetit!

Turkey Meatloaf Pie (adapted from one of my favorite cooks, Ina Garten)

Ingredients and instructions:

Seasoning sauce
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 1/2 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 
  • 4-5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste

For the meat
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

For the mashed potatoes topping
  • 1 large russet potato (or 2 small/medium)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt to season
  • Handful of mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a pie dish. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours (if its a meatloaf, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F - I'm not sure how this guage works for the pie because it isn't a big chunk like the loaf). 

While the meatloaf base is baking, boil and mash your potato. Add the milk, garlic powder and salt. Mix well till you get a nice, creamy texture. You can adjust the amount of milk accordingly.

Just 5 minutes before the meatloaf base is done, take it out, spread the mashed potatoes on top, sprinkle with cheese and send it back to the oven. Once it's done, slice, pour mushroom sauce over it and enjoy!

Simple Mushroom Sauce (serves 2)
  • 10-12 baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup of any dry white wine from your stash (use red if you're using beef broth)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with a little water
  • Sprinkling of dried parsley

Saute the mushrooms in butter. Once it's softened, add the white wine and let it cook for a minute or two. Add the chicken broth and simmer for a few minutes. Slowly pour in the cornflour mix and stir till the sauce thickens, a couple of minutes. If your sauce is till too watery, add more cornflour mixed with water. I added more cornflour and it got a bit thick but, I was too lazy to thin it out with more broth.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

It's 2012 and I can't believe how fast 2011 flew. That's because I was having the time of my life and as they alway say, time flies when you're having fun. So true! 

2011 was full of adventures - traveling to different places, eating different types of food, experimenting in the kitchen with new dishes. Ever since I started this blog, I've noticed that I have this urge to dig out recipes I would never have tried under normal circumstances. Looking back, I am very pleased with the variety of dishes I've tried and added to my recipe book - though this is more virtual than physical at the moment and I'm hoping I can finally get it organized into a nice recipe folder this year. Hey, I think I found a resolution! Do you have any?

Last December (wow, saying that makes it feel like it was ages ago, though it was only a week back), I had this crazy craving for Thai Basil Chicken and rice. The type I used to go ga-ga over in Singapore. It was one of the number of dishes that I counted under my 'comfort food' category and it would never fail to satisfy me, no matter where I ate it. So, I wanted to find the best recipe that came close to the way the Singaporean cooks make it. 

The first recipe I tried from Thai Food & Travel was delicious but it didn't quench my craving since it wasn't as close to the ones from Singapore. So, I hunt again and found a recipe here that was apparently adapted from the cookbook, Simply Thai Cooking. It was the closest I could get to what I wanted and I was an extremely happy camper after that. The flavor basil adds to the chicken is just divine. So, this is the recipe I'm sticking to until someone can share one that's exactly like the Singaporean ones. Bon Appetit!

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken (Apparently adapted from Simply Thai Cooking - the cookbook)

Ingredients and instructions:

  • 1 onion , sliced
  • 1/2 green/red bell pepper , sliced
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 12-15 thai green chillies (add more for spiciness that will kill and reduce if you aren't tolerant towards spice)
  • 1/2 cup shredded basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sesame/peanut oil , for stir-fying

Sauce 1
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Sauce 2
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste

Sauce 3
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water

Heat oil in wok. Stir-fry onions and peppers. Remove and keep warm.

Add another tablespoon of oil to wok if needed and heat in wok on high. Saute garlic for a few seconds. Add chicken and chillies and stir-fry until chicken is done. Add sauces in order, stirring between each addition to coat. Add cooked vegetables back and stir to coat.

Add basil, stirring just unti hot-crisp, and beginning to wilt. Serve immediately. This goes best with a fried egg, rice and a side of cucumbers to cool off the spicy chicken.

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