Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vegetable enchiladas (freezer friendly)

Winter (or Armageddon?) must be upon us because lately I've had the urge to start stockpiling food in the freezer.

This is another Martha classic from Everyday Food. The magazine features many recipes that make a large amount (this one makes enough for 8) along with instructions on how to freeze* half of it. That's exactly what I did.

2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can reduced-sodium vegetable broth
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 cups grated pepper Jack cheese
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 box (10 oz) frozen corn kernels, thawed
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
16 corn tortillas (6-inch)


*To freeze: Prepare enchiladas through step 3; top with cheese, and cover baking dishes with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Place sauce in an airtight container. Freeze enchiladas and sauce for up to 2 months.

To bake from frozen: Thaw sauce in refrigerator overnight (or microwave on high 2 minutes, stirring once halfway through). Preheat oven to 400˚. Remove foil and plastic wrap from baking dishes, and pour sauce over enchiladas; cover with foil. Bake 30 min; remove foil, and bake until bubbly, about 15 min more. Cool 5 min before serving.

Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Make filling: In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, spinach, corn, scallion whites, and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400˚. Lightly oil 2 8-inch square baking pans; set aside. Stack tortillas, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute. Or stack and wrap in aluminum foil, and heat in oven for 5 to 10 min. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared pans.

Dividing evenly, sprinkle enchiladas with remaining 1 cup cheese, and top with sauce. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15–20 min. Cool 5 min.




Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a baker or much of a desert person, but this weekend I made an exception; I needed cookies. Here's a seasonal classic:



Wet ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp milk

Dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp.salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375˚. Mix together the wet ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients and add to wet.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for ~10 minutes.

Note: Be careful not to overcook; cookies will be soft and moist.

Random link: I seriously considered not posting the bizarre exchange below, (from back before cookies were a sometimes food). Random, I know, but I was reminded of it today and couldn't resist.

I'm glad to see that Cookie has now gotten his act together.




Monday, October 20, 2008

Mustard chicken with roasted brussels sprouts

Gettin' ready for the oven

**Bonus Monday post.**

Another best recipe from last week. (I am getting a bit of a backlog, which isn't a bad trend when you only post your best work.) This one comes from Martha, but it's really just chicken coated in Dijon mustard with roasted brussels sprouts. What makes it special, and why Martha's Everyday Food is such a great magazine, is that it suggests pairings (wild rice was also included in the original recipe), and then times the preparation so that so that all parts of the meal will be ready at roughly the same time. This timing is very handy for those of us with only one oven; but I will get my double oven someday.



8 chicken drumsticks or thighs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground pepper
olive oil
1 pint brussels sprouts (quartered or halved, depending on size)


Preheat oven to 450ยบ.

Place chicken on a large rimmed baking sheet and coat with mustard. Season with salt and pepper.

On another baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts (trimmed and quartered) with oil; season with salt & pepper. Place chicken and Brussels sprouts in the oven (chicken on the bottom rack, sprouts in the middle) and bake until chicken is cooked through and Brussels sprouts are browned, 25–30 min, turning chicken halfway through.




Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pork tenderloin with pomegranate and currant glaze

Served with Butternut squash risotto.

Here is a great recipe that I tried for the first time this week.

The only tricky parts are finding pomegranate juice (not drink!) that won't break the bank, and remembering to use an oven mitt or towel when handling the fresh-from-the-oven skillet during sauce prep. I can't stress that last one enough; that handle is hot, and I'm lucky I have good reflexes.



1 tbsp olive oil
1 pork tenderloin (~1 lb)
salt and pepper
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 tbsp unsulfered molasses
1/4 cup dried currants


Preheat oven to 350˚.

Season tenderloin with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, brown tenderloin on all sides (~6–8 min).

Tranfer skillet to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 140˚ (~10–15 min).

Transfer pork to a platter and tent with foil, and return skillet to stove. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat the juice, molasses and currants. Cook for 5–6 minutes, until the sauce has formed a glaze.

To serve, slice pork and drizzle with glaze.




A week of ups and downs: mood down, productivity up

I've never been a fan of Dancing with the Stars. Not only do I have zero interest in ballroom dancing, I have even less interest in watching "celebrities" take themselves way too seriously.

But Rocco diSpirtito is a different story. During that brief time that the reality show The Restaurant was on the air, I was a huge fan. Maybe even his biggest fan (much to Shawn's chagrin). Since he's been on this season of DWTS, I've managed to watch periodically, but that came to an end this week with his inevitable elimination, made all the more poignant by Rocco's shirt choice.

Also upsetting is the fact that Shawn is out of town at a conference for the next few days. However, that means that my productivity is up, which isn't so bad. I may even embark of my yearly recipe reorganization. Not much cooking though.

It also gives me the chance to watch interesting television like the Superstar Food Stylist Challenge that aired yesterday and today. It was mesmerizing.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Salmon ball

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving with the inlaws, and I was tasked with bringing my famous (or I should say my mother's famous) salmon ball.


1 brick cream cheese (room temp.)
1/2 lb. smoked salmon (or 1 can salmon drained and cleaned)

You can add...
a squeeze of lemon
chopped onions
chopped chives


Combine ingredients with an electric mixture. Refrigerate for 1 h. Form a ball. Serve with crackers.

I made my ball with smoked trout this year and got more compliments than ever!

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadians!



Monday, October 6, 2008

Jamie's School Dinners

Jamie breaks it down for the kids. (*Language warning* [After all, we are
talking about a British chef here!])

This blast from the past definitely ranks among the best food television there is. I watched season one a few years ago, and found it to be educational, entertaining, unnerving  and, ultimately, inspiring. 

The series is frequently replayed on the Food Network and BBC Canada, and last night I caught some never-before-seen footage from the second season. It was a welcome change to my regular viewing schedule and prompted me to check up on Jamie, and I'm happy to report that it looks like he's still fighting the good fight.

You can read updates on his ongoing campaign at the Jamie's School Dinners website.




Butternut squash mac n' cheese

I know your propbably thinking, "But you justed posted a mac n' cheese recipe, like, a month ago!!" But, you would be being hasty, because each mac n' cheese recipe is special! This one came to me very highly recommended from a recipe wiki* — one of the reasons it's great to be living in the 21st century.

Below is my take on the recipe.



1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons melted butter
a pinch each of salt, pepper and nutmeg

Mac 'n cheese
1.5 pound elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pound shredded old cheddar (about 4 cups)
1 3/4 cup free-range chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 400°.

Toss the cubed squash in the melted butter, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Roast for 35-45 min until very tender.

Once squash is done, reduce oven heat to 350°.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil pasta to al dente, drain and set aside.

Melt 1/4 cup butter and slowly stir in 1/2 cup flour to form a roux. Off heat, slowly whisk in 2 cups of milk. Return to medium low heat until sauce fully blends and thickens. Lower heat to lowest setting. Add mustard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Stir in 3 cups of cheese (set aside 1 cup for the topping) and 1 3/4 cups of stock, alternating cheese and stock by cupfuls. Taste sauce, adjust seasonings if needed. Add roasted squash to the sauce, and blend with a hand mixer until smooth.

Combine pasta and sauce in a large casserole dish.

Blend remaining cup of cheese with melted butter and breadcrumbs to form topping. Sprinkle mixture over the macaroni.

Bake casserole at 350° for 20 min, then broil until topping is nicely browned (~2–4 min). Let stand 10 min before serving.

*A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content (Source: Wikipedia [obviously, the most famous wiki]). So you can think of a recipe wiki as collaborative recipe building.




Going all out for Halloween

If you haven't visited the Martha Stewart website recently, I suggest you do so soon because Martha always goes all out for Halloween. In fact, I would venture to say that it's her most creative time of the year. 

Unfortunately, this does not come without pitfalls: some visitors to the site posted that the mashed potato ghosts look like klansmen. Which isn't the first time something like this has happened. (Sigh.) I'll stay out of the debate out of respect for Martha and only say that I found the Shrunken Apple Heads (pictured right) to be more disturbing than anything else I've seen on that site to date.