Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

The pepper population in the City Market has expanded rapidly as summer winds down, so we decided it was time to try to do something with them. We attended a party a couple of weeks ago where the "scientists" tried an experiment where they stuffed a jalapeno with a fig and cream cheese, then grilled it until the skin on the pepper popped. Magically, the cream cheese stayed in place and did not ooze out of the pepper and onto the grill. So, with the help of our friends, we identified our primary stuffing ingredient. The pleased pepper partakers tell me they were amazing. My husband enjoys heat...and I mean the red faced, sweat rolling down your forehead heat. I do not. My pepper experience has been that stuffed poblano peppers are not as hot as some of the jalapenos and others I've tried. So, we came home from the City Market with poblanos for me and poblanos and jalapenos for him.
Many recipes call for meat and/or rice stuffing with cheese and vegetables for poblanos, but I decided just to go for the cheese. I marinated a flank steak, which I recently learned from my former boss, is one of the leanest cuts of beef. He's a beef guy, he should know. My husband grilled the steak and his jalapenos and I warmed some tortilla, whipped up a fresh pico and stuffed and fried the poblanos. All around, it was an excellent meal. The grilled jalapenos would be great as an appetizer, or a side dish.

Stuffed poblanos and jalapenos
6 poblano peppers
6 jalapeno peppers
4 oz cream cheese, softened (I used low fat)
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack and Cheddar cheese mixed
1/2 cup flour
3 egg whites
2 - 3 Tablespoons oil
Roast the poblano peppers under a broiler or over a flame until the skin jumps off the peppers all around. Place roasted peppers in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 10 minutes or until cooled.
In a small bowl, mix the cheeses into a smooth, soft consistency.
Once cool, remove the skin from the peppers and cut a small opening in the side of the pepper to pull out the veins and seeds. (Since I don't like heat so much, I rinse the peppers with water to make sure I get out all of the HOT seeds.) Gently stuff peppers with enough cheese to fill, but not overfill.
Mix the egg whites with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium, dredge poblanos in flour and then egg whites. Fry on all sides about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.

Cut the very top and stem off the jalapenos, gently cut out the seeds and veins out of the pepper and stuff with cheese mixture. Grill outside on gas or charcoal over medium heat until skin is charred and cheese melts, but magically does not run out of pepper!

Flank steak
1 lb (ish) flank steak
1/4 cup beer
1/4 cup tequila
juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
glug of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
pinch of salt and cracked black pepper
Mix marinade ingredients together, whisking in a small bowl. Pour over flank steak in a large Ziploc bag. Set in refrigerator overnight, turning a couple of times.
Drain and dispose of marinade. Grill flank steak 8 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Let steak sit for a few minutes then slice thinly for steak tacos, or fajitas, or a wrap, or over a crisp green salad.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why I love the City Market

I'm not sure this photo even needs a post. Sunday morning in the City Market...and we weren't the only ones taking pictures.
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Saturday, August 25, 2007

And for dessert....

A few weeks ago we tried Michael Smith's new restaurant in the Crossroads. The restaurant had been open just a couple of weeks and the buzz was so good...we just had to go. The menu is impressive, not unlike his former restaurant, but with a much fresher menu. Every item from the freshly squeezed fruit in the cocktails to the dessert, featured seasonal ingredients. I had halibut with a corn slaw, it was lovely. For dessert, we chose a sampling and had little bites of everything. The sweet cherry clafoutis was a show stealer. Although the lemon sorbet and Pimm's float rocked.

I decided to try a clafoutis the very next day, searching through all of my resources for a great recipe. The recipe below from
Bon Appetit had the best reviews and won the biggest praise overall, so I went for it. I used the peaches and blueberries from our CSA, in place of the pears. We had such a hard spring with late freezes, our Missouri peaches are just not as good this year. They are best cooked or used in smoothies.

This is very much a custard-like dish, while the cherry clafoutis at the restaurant had more of cakey consistency. Both were delicious, but not as similar as I'd hoped. This is a nice summer dessert that isn't too sweet. I'll try it again with fall fruit. Bonus: the leftover Reisling is a great starter for white sangria.

Vanilla Pear Clafoutis
Bon Appétit November 1997
Makes 6 servings.
3/4 cup sweet white wine (such as Riesling)
3 large pears, peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine wine and pears in large bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Drain pears, reserving 1/4 cup wine.
Butter 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Beat eggs, sugar and salt in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in flour. Add milk, butter, vanilla and reserved 1/4 cup wine; whisk until smooth. Arrange pears in prepared dish. Pour batter over pears.
Bake clafoutis until center is set and top is golden, about 55 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Sift powdered sugar generously over top. Cut into wedges; serve warm.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another hot dish...I'm embarrassed

I have a good friend who told me this week that she and her boyfriend have decided to eat vegetarian 2 or 3 times a week. I think that is a great idea! I've been inching that way for awhile, but have been afraid that my carnivorous better half will threaten all-out rebellion unless presented with a large portion of protein at each meal. Guess what? He surprised me. I've been kind of sneaking in some vegetarian meals and he hasn't complained at all. He notices, but he's enjoyed what I've made. Wednesday night I scored a meat and no starch! Now, I didn't say no cheese...we're not getting crazy in the River Market.

It all started with a baby spaghetti squash I picked up two weeks ago in the City Market. I also have a bigger version, waiting for a bigger presentation, but I was making dinner for two tonight...not ten. When I cut the squash in two I couldn't help but think, "hmmm...probably 34B's, I bet the big squash is more like 40DDs," laughing to myself thinking how funny I am.

I also raided the kitchen of every bit of produce to create a veggie-loaded tomato sauce and made some sort of spaghetti squash meets lasagna-ish casserole. And yes, I am embarrassed that I've posted now 1 - 2 - 3 "hot-dish" recipes in a row. I usually don't make casseroles this often, but it has been too hot to grill and I'm trying to find as many new ways to use fresh produce as possible.

I made up this recipe so please bear with my explanation below.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut 1 small spaghetti squash in half and place seeds down in a small baking dish with enough water to cover about 1/4 inch of the squash. (You can also use a little butter, if you plan to toss the squash with a light sauce instead of baking it.) Cook for 30 - 40 minutes until soft in the middle. Let cool a bit, scrape out seeds with spoon then using a fork, scrape out the squash into thin spaghetti-like strands. (I didn't do this, but I recommend straining the squash for a few minutes before using it in the casserole.)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
1/2 red or yellow onion
8 - 10 mushrooms sliced
3 large tomatoes cored and chopped
1/2 cup slivered Italian parsley
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 pound of thinly sliced provolone
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Add olive oil to bottom of saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and peppers, saute for about 3 minutes tossing regularly to coat with olive oil. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to pan and cook for another 3 - 5 minutes to break down tomatoes. Add fresh herbs and cover saute pan for about 10 minutes, cooking over low heat.

Clean the small baking dish used for the squash and lightly oil. (I always use spray olive oil.) Place the shredded squash in the bottom of the baking dish and add 1 cup of the tomato sauce, draining off the juice. Lightly mix the squash and sauce to coat the strands. Layer 4 slices of provolone over the squash mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 the Parmesan. Add the remaining sauce, straining the juice, using mostly vegetables. Layer the remaining provolone cheese and Parmesan over the top.

Cook for 25 minutes at 350 or until brown and bubbly. EAT!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chicken enchiladas

I love searching for new recipes. In my pile of cookbooks I find inspiration, but I usually arrive at some sort of combination from cookbooks and online recipes. This weekend, I had the perfect, healthy, low-fat dinner planned. A whole roasted chicken, with baby artichokes and a green salad. I had the pile of herbs ready to go and the plump, farm raised plan was "hatched" (ha!) until my husband says, I want tacos. Tacos? Are you kidding me? Then I remembered he spent an entire year as a little boy eating nothing but tacos and wearing his Dallas Cowboys jersey. So... we settled on enchiladas.
I agreed to the enchilada request and set out on my search for a great Mexican shredded chicken recipe. My last enchilada experience was at Carlos and Charlies in Aruba and the food was horrible (although, we shouldn't have been surprised). I still don't know why we went there. They seriously used canned chicken meat (!?!?!?) in the enchiladas and tacos. We were shocked. To my delight, I discovered the ONLY way to cook chicken that is perfectly seasoned and tender and a couple of great new sites. The chicken could be utilized in tacos, enchiladas, soups, whatever. Minor changes in the spices would lend it to Italian or other ethnic dishes.
Chicken enchiladas, with refried black beans, guacamole and chips. Pairs perfectly with a nice, Mexican beer. My disappointment is long gone. The baby artichokes will have to wait.

But this didn't....

Mexican Shredded Chicken
By Kate Heyhoe
Yield: About 4 to 5 cups shredded chicken, plus broth
1 whole chicken cut into pieces, with bone and skin (about 3 pounds)

1 small onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

2 bay leaves

Pinch of dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

Arrange the chicken pieces snugly in a large, deep saucepan or pot. Sprinkle on the onion, garlic, marjoram, oregano, bay leaves, thyme and salt. Add enough water to just cover the chicken.
Bring the liquid to a boil on high heat. Partially cover and reduce the heat to low, so the liquid just simmers. (Make sure the liquid does not boil again.) Cook for 7 minutes, then cover the pot completely and remove from the heat. Let the chicken cool in the broth for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (I freaked and left it for a little over an hour, I didn't want to kill anyone.)

Tomato sauce:

2 pt red grape or cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 lb)

5 large garlic cloves

2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoon taco seasoning

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup warm water

juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small yellow onion chopped

1 small can of green chilis

10 - 12 corn tortillas

1 pound of shredded colby jack cheese

1 bunch finely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 250°F.
Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Add three garlic cloves (unpeeled) to pan, sprinkle with half oregano and taco seasoning; roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes.
Peel garlic and purée with oil, water, lime juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth. Add remaining tomatoes and seasonings, continue to puree until smooth.

In separate deep saucepan sauté the chopped onion and two minced garlic cloves. Add shredded chicken, sauce, can of chilis and 1/2 to 1 cup of remaining broth from chicken. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes so chicken breaks down and flavors blend.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large fry pan at high heat add 3 Tbsp of canola oil. Add a tortilla to the pan. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift up the tortilla with a spatula, add another tortilla underneath. Cook for 2-3 seconds, lift again, both tortillas, and add another tortilla underneath. Repeat the process with all the tortillas, adding a little more oil if needed. This way you can brown and soften the tortillas without using a lot of fat. You do this process to develop the flavor of the tortillas. As the tortillas brown a little, remove from the pan one by one to rest on a paper towel, which absorbs any excess fat.

Put some olive oil on the bottom of a large casserole pan. Take a tortilla, spread chicken and sauce in middle, cover it lightly with the shredded cheese and a sprinkle fresh cilantro, then roll up the tortilla and place it in the casserole pan. Continue until all tortillas are filled and rolled. Cover with remaining chicken and sauce and remaining shredded cheese. Put the casserole in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer Harvest

Seriously, it has gone past the point of rescue. We have so much summer produce it isn't even funny. And I have forbidden myself to let a bit of it go to waste. I have 6 quarts of stewed tomatoes in the freezer for winter chili and tailgating. I've frozen pesto and an assortment of fresh fruit.

We're so fortunate to live near the City Market, which is a feast of fruits and veggies; and just last weekend my parents brought a ton of tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and green beans from their garden. At one point, we had at least 30 tomatoes in our possession. I didn't know what to do, my only thought was Vegetable Lasagna. Now, my husband (and father) are both meat and potatoes men, so I was concerned that this plan would leave them wanting more. I couldn't have been more wrong. In fact, as my mother and I were navigating the recipe and making our own changes, we realized we had a winner on our dinner for four, quickly spread and we invited our friends over to enjoy as well. Everyone loved it and I think you will too...if anyone is actually reading this!

Recipe note -- this would also be good with mushrooms, we just didn't have any. Saute the shrooms after the peppers and onions and set aside until time for layering. Also, while it takes forever, please do not skip the step of frying the eggplant and zucchini. Two things I do not believe in -- no cook lasagne noodles and mushy eggplant.
This would easily serve 10 with a fresh green salad and bread. The leftovers rock.
Vegetable Garden Lasagna
Adapted (very loosely) from "The New Basics Cookbook" by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
1 eggplant
1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1 zucchini
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 bell peppers (any color combination, I used 2 orange), cored, seeded and cut into Julienne
1 large onion, slivered
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
8 ounces lasagna noodles
3 cups tomato sauce (I used it from a jar, if I'd had more time, I would have the basic tomato sauce recipe from Smitten Kitchen and used my tomatoes)
12 ounces ricotta
1 cup tightly packed fresh spinach slivered
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 lb thinly slice provolone
Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Sprinkle them with coarse salt, and let drain in a colander for 1 hour. Wipe off the salt and pat dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the bell peppers and onion, and saute over medium-low heat until cooked through, but not browned, 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the peppers and onion from the skillet.

Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Add 3 more tablespoons olive oil. Dredge the zucchini with the flour, shaking off the excess, and saute the slices on both sides, over medium heat, until lightly browned, adding more olive oil as needed. Transfer the cooked zucchini to paper towels. Repeat this process with the eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, spinach and basil until smooth.

Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the lasagna, and cook at a rolling boil until just tender. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.

Spread a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of a deep 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Arrange half the lasagna noodles over the sauce. Cover with the peppers, onion, eggplant and zucchini, in layers. Spread with half of the ricotta mixture. Top with more tomato sauce, and then another layer of lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining vegetables, then ricotta, top with remaining tomato sauce. Spread the provolone slices overlapping to cover the entire pan. *I used about 3 slices per row, but use to suit your taste. Shredded mozzarella would also work.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until brown and bubbly, another 15 minutes. *I actually didn't cover with aluminum foil and it was fine, if your use mozzarella, you'll definitely want to.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

My Blueberry Mojito

The first time I had a Blueberry Mojito was at the "Blue" Hotel in Sydney. It was deliciousness in a tall glass...I vowed to make them myself someday. That day arrived last weekend, as we prepared to celebrate one of our good friend's birthday. The City Market must have known I had something up my sleeve since it sent about a zillion limes and a huge bunch of mint home with me that Saturday morning. My fortuitous stash of frozen fresh blueberries were also waiting to showcase their loveliness. We spent the rest of the evening searching for a comparable cocktail to no avail. My only warning is if you make these, make a lot...they go down fast and your guests will want more.

adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2001

3 cups (packed) fresh mint leaves
9 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) +berries for garnish
1 1/2 cups light rum
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
6 cups club soda
6 cups crushed ice
6 lime wedges
Reserve 6 mint leaves for garnish. Place remaining mint leaves in medium bowl. Add sugar and blueberries. Mash with wooden spoon until mint is aromatic and oils are released. Add rum and lime juice and stir until sugar dissolves. Strain mixture into pitcher.
Add club soda to pitcher; gently stir. Fill each of 6 glasses with 1 cup crushed ice. Pour mojito over and garnish each glass with 1 mint leaf, a few blueberries and 1 lime wedge.
Bon Appétit, January 2001
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