First off, apologies to our (small but loyal) readership for the lack of new posts over the last few months. What can I say – life got a little busy.
However, what’s the New Year if not an opportunity to make a fresh start? So, back in the saddle we go.
It’s been cold and misty in Monterey for the last several weeks, and I’ve been craving warm, filling meals. During my most recent how-can-I-use-up-the-random-odds-and-ends-in-my-pantry rummage, I was drawn to a small can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. When a large bunch of chard showed up in my CSA box this week, I knew it was time to revisit this recipe.
Pulling inspiration from this recipe from The Kitchn, with a few tweaks, produced a week’s worth of brown rice bowls topped with greens and a just-spicy-enough tomato sauce. With the extra body from the chorizo, this concoction will keep you going as you settle back into the post-holiday work routine.
2 cups brown rice
1 tsp salt
1 lb chorizo sausage
1 large onion
1/2 head garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each salt, pepper
1 28 oz can chopped plum tomatoes
3 chipotle chiles in adobo (if you want to crank up the spice, add a few more)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup almonds, peeled*
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 medium bunch parsley (about 2 cups once chopped)
3-inch piece sourdough baguette
1 large bunch chard (about 12 large leaves)
4 handfuls baby spinach (or other greens)
Bring 4.5 cups of water to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the rice and salt. Simmer covered for 45 – 55 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, fluff rice with a fork, then let sit covered for 5 minutes.
Crumble chorizo into a large skillet. Stirring frequently, cook over high heat until browned, around 5 minutes. Set aside.
Coarsely chop the onions and garlic, then add to skillet with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften and turns translucent. Add the tomatoes (including the juices) and the chipotle chiles. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
Add the smoked paprika, balsamic vinegar, almonds, pine nuts and parsley.
Add the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Tear the baguette into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the blender; blend again until the sauce is smooth.
Slice the chard into thin ribbons, then add back into the skillet with the spinach, sauce, and chorizo. Stir over medium heat until the chard and spinach have wilted, then remove from heat.
To serve, top the brown rice with the sauce and enjoy!
*Note: if you can’t find (or don’t want to spend more to purchase) peeled almonds, you can use raw almonds instead. Place the almonds in a small bowl and bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Pour the water over the almonds, then let sit 10 minutes, until the skins begin to soften. Rub the almonds between your fingers to remove the skins. Voila!
One of the best things about roasting a whole chicken is the sheer number of meals you get out of it (especially when you’re cooking for one!) My typical go-to meal for using up leftover roasted chicken is tacos, but I was in the mood for something a little more exciting. Plus, I’ve been having a tomatillo craving recently. Enter this creation.
This recipe will keep you in tasty, healthy enchiladas all week long. Or, invite some friends over and share the wealth. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
If you don’t happen to have half of a leftover roasted chicken, never fear – you can easily cook up a couple chicken breasts and go from there.
3 lbs fresh tomatillos
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
2.5 cups cooked black beans
1/2 head garlic
1 small bunch cilantro
2/3 cup roasted New Mexican green chile, peeled
1/2 cup canola or safflower oil
24 corn tortillas
1.5 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
Peel off the tomatillo husks, then rinse under warm water. Place stem-side down on a baking sheet. Turn on the broiler, then roast until tomatillos are slightly charred (about 12 minutes), rotating the sheet a few times to ensure all of the tomatillos cook. Some of the tomatillos may burst while cooking. Set aside to cool.
Add the chicken and beans to a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
Add the tomatillos to a blender. Peel and chop the garlic and cilantro, add to the blender. Dice the green chile, add to the blender. (Note: The large volume of tomatillos relative to the amount of green chile will cut a lot of the spice out from the dish. However, if you’d rather have the flavor with even less spice, remove some of the green chile seeds before dicing.)
Blend for approximately 30 seconds; just enough to combine the ingredients. Set aside.
Heat half of the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add sauce and stir frequently. Once sauce starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until sauce has thickened. Turn off the heat and let sit.
Preheat oven to 350.
Add the remaining oil to a heavy skillet and heat on medium-high. Prepare a plate with a paper towel, leave near the skillet. Leave another plate near the pan with the sauce.
Working in batches of 6, briefly pass each tortilla through the hot oil, then lightly pat with the paper towel to remove excess oil. Place on the other plate.
Once a stack of lightly fried tortillas has accumulated, pass each one through the pan of sauce, then add a large spoonful of the chicken and bean filling to the center.
Roll the tortilla around the filling, then place seam-side down into a 9 by 13 pan. Repeat until the pan is full; you should have used about 12 tortillas.
Take just under half of the remaining sauce and pour over the rolled tortillas, covering them with a thin layer. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the top.
Assemble the remaining 12 enchiladas and add to the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve warm. While best fresh from the oven, enchiladas will also keep well in the fridge for several days.
Every family has their traditional holiday meals, dishes that encapsulate the essence of the holiday spirit. For us, at Easter, it’s all about the lamb (preferably with some mint jelly). It’s been several years since I’ve celebrated Easter with family, but even so preparing my lamb-based meal for one calls to mind family gatherings held in years past.
This year, I had trouble tracking down mint jelly, so I went in a different direction. The local lamb shanks in my freezer were begging for a slow-cooked preparation and I was feeling very French, so slow-braised lamb shanks in Bordeaux it was. I served mine over a bed of polenta with some steamed green beans, but you could also serve this dish with risotto or baguette and a side salad, or simply enjoy it on its own.
1 1/3 lbs lamb shank
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 medium carrots
5 oz chicken broth
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
250 ml red wine (I used a relatively inexpensive Bordeaux, but any red wine will do. Just remember that while there’s no reason to buy an expensive bottle, you should never cook with wine you wouldn’t also be willing to drink!)
salt and pepper
Pat lamb dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, rubbing the seasoning into the meat on all sides. Add olive oil to a dutch oven on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, place the lamb in the bottom of the dutch oven. Cook until meat is just browned on all sides, then remove and set aside.
Dice onion, carrot and garlic. Add to the dutch oven and cook until onion and garlic are fragrant. Add the wine and chicken broth, then nestle the lamb in the mixture.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook covered on low for 2.5 – 3 hours, or until lamb is extremely tender and falls off the bone with very light pressure (it is very hard to overcook lamb using this method – if you aren’t sure if the lamb is done yet, give it another 20 – 30 minutes and check again).
Once the lamb is done, gently remove from the pot and place on a plate. Tent the plate with aluminum foil.
Continue simmering the vegetable-broth-wine mixture until the sauce has thickened substantially, about another 20-30 minutes.
Plate the lamb, pouring the sauce over the shanks. Makes 2-3 servings.
Well, it’s been a while since we’ve posted anything, but never fear – several more recipes will be up this week. What can I say – between moving and starting a new job, I’ve been cooking plenty but haven’t been keeping up with the blog as much as I would like. Hopefully, we’ll be getting back into a more regular schedule!
I mention this mostly because it is a necessary part of the “why” behind this recipe. In my last post, I shared a recipe for a celery-root based “No Noodle Asian Noodle Salad,” and while I quite enjoyed eating it the following week, I wanted to do something a little different with the last (and largest) of the celery roots I had bought. In particular, I wanted to try cooking it and compare the flavor with the raw preparation.
I ended up on the Food and Wine website with a recipe for “Celery Root Skordalia.” I was intrigued by the recipe, but wanted to pair the earthiness of the celery root with a richer garlic flavor, so instead of steeping the garlic in the olive oil, I roasted it. All I can say about the result is that it was quite a hit at the potluck I went to later that evening, and I highly recommend it as an appetizer or light afternoon snack, paired with pita chips or veggies.
Note: For a more complete step-by-step guide to roasting garlic (and better photos), check out this post from The Kitchn.
1.5 heads garlic
1/2 tbsp + 3/8 cup olive oil
2 tbsp almonds
1 celery root
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
Pre-heat oven to 400 deg.
Peel back most of the garlic layers, keeping the majority of the clove intact. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head, exposing the inside of each clove. If some cloves are too short to expose this way, remove them from the main bulb and slice off the top portion separately. Place intact heads and stray cloves cut-side up within a small piece of aluminum foil, then drizzle with the 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Wrap the foil tightly around the garlic, then place in the oven. Roast for 1 hour.
Place almonds in a small heat-proof bowl. Heat 1 cup water until boiling, then pour over almonds. Set aside. Once almonds are softened and water has cooled, about 5 minutes, remove the skins and set aside.
Slice off the top and bottom of the celery root, then peel. Cut into medium pieces and add to a medium pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then add salt and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes, then strain.
Once garlic has finished roasting, keep oven on, then remove and open foil packet. Allow garlic to cool 5-10 minutes. Carefully separate cloves, then one at a time squeeze cloves from the root end towards the cut end, forcing the roasted garlic out and placing into a small bowl. Set aside.
Place almonds on a baking sheet and roast for 5-7 minutes or until just shy of golden brown. Set aside.
Once celery root has finished cooking, drain and add to food processor with remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and almonds. Puree until smooth.
Serve immediately or, if making ahead, store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to serve, add to a small pot and reheat slowly over low heat.
I’ve always been intimidated by celery root (or celeriac, as it’s sometimes called). It’s ungainly exterior supposedly hides an incredibly versatile ingredient – raw or cooked, added to soups or mashed potatoes. But I’m proud to say, I finally took the plunge and picked some up at the local farmer’s market over the weekend.
Of course, impulse produce shopping when you have no prior experience cooking said ingredient leads to pulling cooking books off shelves and browsing blogs in search of something to do with it. Since Monterey is unseasonably warm right now, I decided to stick with a spring/summer preparation, and found inspiration in this recipe.
Of course, I made a few tweaks to the recipe above, largely with the proportions in the dressing – I added a little more soy sauce as well as some lemon juice. Fair warning: the recipe as written below makes 5-7 generous servings, so feel free to cut the listed amounts in half if you’d rather not commit to quite so much of this tasty salad.
2 large celery roots
7 large carrots
1.5 – 1.75 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup basil
4 large cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger root
6 tbsp white vinegar
6 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp maple syrup
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the chicken thighs. Cover and cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165. about 15-20 minutes. Set chicken aside to cool for another 15-20 minutes.
As the chicken cooks, peel the celery root and remove the very top and bottom of each carrot. Using a mandolin, food processor, or sharp knife cut the celery root and carrots into thick julienned pieces. Add the celery root to a medium-large bowl and the carrots to a very large bowl. Shred basil and add to the bowl with the carrots. Set both bowls aside while you prepare the dressing.
Peel and dice garlic, then peel and grate ginger. Add to a small bowl with the white vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
Once chicken has cooled, thinly shred and add to the bowl with the carrots.
One third at a time, add the celery root and mix to combine. Once all of the celery root has been added, pour the dressing over the salad and stir to fully incorporate before serving.
Aah, baked beans. There is something so delicious about them. Paired as a side with the best from the grill, served party style as a Game Day appetizer – any time of year, these beans do the trick.
I whipped this batch up as I worked through my pre-moving-eat-everything-in-my-pantry-and-use-up-as-many-condiments-as-possible routine, and I’ve got to say- this recipe is a keeper! It makes a great meal for your next car camping trip: make in advance and then re-heat in your camp stove.
3 1/2 cups cooked King City pink beans (you can substitute pinto beans or something similar)
1 large onion
1 lb bacon
10 oz Sriracha BBQ sauce (sold at Trader Joe’s – I liked the extra kick from the Sriracha sauce but if you aren’t into spicy, feel free to use another type)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp red chile flakes
1 tbsp yellow mustard
Preheat oven to 325.
Cut bacon into small pieces and dice the onion. Cook bacon and onions over medium-high heat 3-5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add beans and stir.
Add BBQ sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, red chile flakes, and yellow mustard to the pan.
Cook over medium-low heat or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.
Pour beans into a medium-large baking dish. Bake for 2 hours, then serve hot.
Ok, so the name isn’t really all the catchy, but the finished product is. This recipe is adapted from the Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole by Ree Drummond, but adds chicken, additional vegetables, different cheese, and changes the proportions for the sauce.
2 lbs chicken thighs (Costco now sells organic chicken, so I use that)
1 lb broccoli florets, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 head cauliflower, same
10 large Brussels sprouts, quartered
6 carrots, chopped
2 brown onions, diced
I head garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
4 ounces whipped cream cheese
Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
1 jalapeno pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (or other cheese with a bite, like cotija)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
This recipe calls for four different vegetable choices: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and carrots. You can use all four, or any combination of 2 or 3, which makes this a great recipe to use when you have some extra vegetables on hand and want to do something yummy with them.
Once all your vegetables are bite-sized, steam them until just barely cooked, 3-5 minutes.
The secret to this recipe is for the vegetables not to overcook. While the vegetables are steaming, cook the chicken using what ever method you prefer, or, if you are having a busy night, buy it pre-cooked. I grilled mine in a non-stick pan.
Once the vegetables are steamed, set them aside. Ditto with the chicken once it is cooked.
Now take your diced onions, diced jalapeno and chopped garlic and sauté it all for 5-10 minutes in olive oil. I added the oil to the chicken juices that were still in the pan for some added flavor.
Add 1/2 cup flour and stir until the onion mixture is coated. Now start pouring the broth into the pan, and stir. Once it is all combined, let it cook on low for 5-7 minutes. Then add the whipped cream cheese (or room temperature block cream cheese) and stir until dissolved into the mixture. Taste the mixture and add some salt, pepper and paprika to taste — I used about 1 tsp of salt, a tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 of tablespoon of pepper.
If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it with more broth or some of the water from the steaming of the vegetables (here in California that is a good use of water – I used the rest of it for the patio plants). You want it to be the consistency of prepared cream of mushroom soup, but the recipe is very forgiving if it is thinned out too much.
Now you are ready to assemble the casserole. First layer is vegetables. Followed by diced chicken (dice it after the chicken has rested for awhile). Followed by sauce, and then cheese. Repeat. The original recipe calls for 2 layers, but I sometimes do 3.
Melt the butter in the microwave (mine takes a minute, but I think it is old and slow so watch yours carefully and take it out as the last bit just melts). Pour the breadcrumbs into the melted butter and mix.
Sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs on top of the casserole and bake for 35 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let set for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
There will be some sauce accumulation at the bottom of the casserole pan — be sure to distribute it over each serving to give it some extra moistness.
The smell of a pot of posole on the stove always smells like Christmas. It conjures memories of holiday open houses, full of close family and friends. A labor intensive dish, to be sure, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.
I’ll be moving (yet again!) in the coming weeks, this time from Sacramento back to the central coast. In searching for the perfect main course dish for my farewell get-together, I was struck by the urge to make posole.
Be prepared to set aside 5+ hours for this dish, but once you get things going, it’s fairly low effort – just let the pork roast and the soup simmer as your house fills with wonderful smells. Best of all – you can make a portion of this soup vegetarian (or, really, vegan + gluten free) by separating a portion before adding the roast pork.
The recipe below will make about 12-15 servings, depending on how hungry your guests are. Don’t expect any leftovers!
3.25 lbs boneless pork shoulder
1-2 tbsp salt
1-2 tbsp pepper
1-2 tbsp New Mexican red chile powder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions
1.5 heads of garlic
6 cups homemade vegetable broth (if making vegetarian/vegan), other stock, or water
2.5 + 2 tbsp oregano
2 cups New Mexican red chile sauce* (see note)
24 oz canned tomatillos
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
1 large can hominy (or, use 1 lb dried hominy and cook according to package directions)
1 lb carrots
2 large russet potatoes
2 bunches radishes
1 bunch cilantro
1 cup cotija or similar mexican cheese
1/2 head cabbage
Preheat oven to 325.
Trim exterior fat from pork shoulder, then cut into fist-sized pieces.
Mix the salt, pepper, and New Mexican red chile powder in a small bowl. Rub into all sides of the meat.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a Dutch oven. Sear pork on all sides, working in multiple batches if needed. Set aside.
Chop 1 onion into thick slices, and peel 1/2 head of garlic.
Add pork back to the Dutch oven, then add the onion pieces and garlic cloves in between the pork. Pour 1 1/4 cup of the vegetable stock or other liquid on top of the pork. The liquid should almost but not quite cover the top of the pork pieces. Bring the pot to a simmer, then place the lid on top and cook in the oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours, test for done-ness; the pork should fall apart with very light pressure. If not yet done, return to the oven and check every 30 minutes. Pork should take between 2 and 3.5 hours to cook.
While the pork cooks, dice the remaining onion and garlic. Add to a very large pot with remaining olive oil and 2.5 tbsp oregano.
Cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until onion and garlic is fragrant. Add red chile sauce, tomatillos, crushed tomatoes, and remaining vegetable stock or other liquid.
Simmer over low heat for 4 hours.
After pork is fork-tender, remove from Dutch oven and set aside in a medium bowl to cool. Once the pork has reached room temperature, shred and set aside.
About 20 minutes before the posole is finished, chop carrots and potatoes. Set aside.
After the posole has cooked for 4 hours, if tomatillos have not dissolved into the rest of the soup, remove with a slotted spoon, dice, and add back into the soup. Add the hominy, carrots and potatoes and stir to combine. If making a vegetarian portion, remove some of the soup and place into a separate pot. Then add the pork to the main portion. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are tender.
As the posole continues to cook, prep the toppings. Thinly slice radishes, chop cilantro and cabbage, cut limes into quarters, crumble cotija, and place additional oregano in a small bowl.
Once posole is done, ladle into bowls and add desired toppings. Serve hot.
*NOTE: New Mexican red chile sauce can be hard to find, but is easy to make at home! I recommend making several portions at a time (more than you would need for this recipe) and freezing the remainder.
Rinse and remove the stems and seeds from 25 dried red chile pods. Place in a large pot, and add enough water to fully cover the pods. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool until no longer painful to the touch. Add pods and water to a blender, working in batches if needed. Once blended, use a colander or metal sieve to separate the pulp from the skin. The strained liquid that remains is your red chile sauce!
I love vegetables. Really, I do. I’ve never been the type of person who feels the need to slater vegetables in cheese or add copious amounts of cured meats in order to get my 5 servings a day. My go-to methods usually involve roasting or sautéing, with minimal seasoning to let their natural flavor shine through.
So, you can understand my confusion when I spied an overflowing pile of brussels sprouts at the farmer’s market and visions of bacon and blue cheese started dancing through my head. The more I thought about it, the more tantalizing the prospect became.
Out of that moment came this recipe. I brought the dish to a potluck that week and every bite was gone by the time I left. Give this a whirl the next time you are looking to spice up your roasted vegetable game.
1 lb brussel sprouts
12 oz applewood smoked bacon
3 oz crumbled blue cheese
Preheat the oven to 450.
Slice brussels sprouts into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Set aside in a medium-large bowl.
Cook bacon in batches, being sure to save the grease. Set aside to cool, then slice.
Once the grease has cooled slightly, pour over the brussels sprouts and toss to coat.
Add the bacon, and stir to combine. Once the mixture is just over room temperature, add the blue cheese crumbles and stir until mixed through.
Pour the brussels sprout-bacon-cheese mixture into a small-medium baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has started to melt. Serve hot.
For the first time in quite a while, California is experiencing a wet winter. While a welcome relief from our historic drought, the combination of chilly temperatures and rain calls for warming, hearty soups.
I love soup, but without a good helping of protein, they can leave one unsatisfied. Sausage tends to be my favorite way to bulk up soup, but I’ve been experimenting with a vegetarian-friendly addition of beans instead and am quite happy with the results. A steaming bowl of this soup, along with a warm hunk of buttered bread and a glass of wine is the perfect remedy for a rainy night in.
2 medium carrots
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
6 stalks celery
1 medium onion
2 bay leaves
6 cups broth (homemade is always a wonderful choice)
15 oz tomato purée
2 cups cannelli beans (if you have the time, cook them yourself. If not, canned is dine)
6 oz spinach
Add oil to a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Chop carrots, celery, onion and garlic, then add to pot with the bay leaves. Sauté until softened (about 7 minutes), stirring frequently.
Add broth, tomato purée and beans.
Bring soup to a boil, then let simmer until soup reaches desired consistency.
Add spinach, then stir to incorporate into the pot. Stir occasionally until spinach is wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
NOTE: Soup is especially good re-heated. Just return the pot to the stove and simmer for 15-20 minutes until re-heated all the way through.