Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oven Fried Fish 'N Chips

I loooooove fish and chips but I can't bring myself to order it at a restaurant very often because I know just exactly how oily and fatty it really is. Which is a rotten shame, because fish and potatoes are really good for you if you prepare them properly!

I also have a weakness for vinegar and this meal was chock full of it. I love vinegar and my pantry is currently stocked with the following: red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, balsamic vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, grapefruit vinegar, orange muscat champagne vinegar, and plain old distilled white vinegar. A few of these were treats I purchased on vacation last weekend in Door County, WI at a super cute little store in Egg Harbor. I had a blast (and consumed about a loaf of bread) tasting all the different vinegars and olive oils in that store!

One of the best uses of vinegar is in salt and vinegar potatoes. Take a plain old boring potato and add vinegar and your little brother will actually exclaim, "Wow, it's crazy how much flavor that has!" I par-boiled my potatoes in white vinegar, then broiled them with oil and salt on both sides. They were fantastic and very good for you!

The fish was done simply - cod cut into bite-sized pieces and triple coated in flour, egg, and Old Bay seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Then it's just drizzled with olive oil and baked for about 8 minutes. The panko is important because it makes the baked fish crunchy enough to fool you into thinking it's been deep fried.

You could dunk your oven fried fish fingers in some homemade tartar sauce, or if you're like me with the vinegar problem, sprinkle with malt vinegar. With Salt and Vinegar Chips, it's a fabulous healthy version of an indulgent meal.

Oven Fried Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
2 russet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
distilled white vinegar, enough to cover in a pan
kosher salt
olive oil

Boil your potato slices in vinegar for 7-8 minutes or until you can pierce them with a fork. You don't want them to get too done or mushy. Let cool slightly. Line on a pan in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Broil (or grill) until brown and toasty on each side (it took about 8 minutes on each side for me with the broiler on medium).

Oven Fried Fish Fingers
Boneless white fish filets (I used cod), cut into bite-sized pieces and patted dry
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
olive oil, salt, and pepper

Prepare your 3 dipping stations: Flour on one plate, eggs whisked on another, and panko and Old Bay on the last one. Season each station with salt and pepper.

Coat your fish fingers first in flour, then egg, then panko and line on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes or until done.

ONE YEAR AGO: Olive Oil Granola (I make this about every other week and it's still the best granola I've ever had!)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spooky Graveyard Trifle

I've been craving Smitten Kitchen's stout cake again lately. I made it last winter and it was awesome so I thought turning that into cupcakes would be a fabulous contribution to our Halloween potluck at work.

Unfortunately, the cupcakes completely crumbled! I don't know what I did wrong, but not one cupcake came out of the pan in one piece. Well, I couldn't let that delicious cake go to waste, even if it was a crumbly mess.

So, I quickly whipped up some cream with a splash of vanilla and 2 scoops of powdered sugar. I layered that cake in a clear glass bowl with the whipped cream and some vanilla pudding that I dyed orange with food coloring. A layer of orange oreos ensured the halloweeny-ness of the dessert.

The layers are: cake, pudding, whipped cream, crushed oreos, repeat. To make this sweet concoction into a graveyard, I dipped Milano cookies in melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, then used some leftover purple cream cheese frosting (I had frozen a few weeks ago after making another cake) to decorate the tombstones. Gummy worms complete the spooky effect.

While this dessert contains many fake food items that I would normally never eat (boxed instant pudding!, food coloring!, oreos!, milanos!, gummy worms!), I feel Halloween is a special occasion that warrants a little leeway in my real food quest.

I got raves about this dessert from co-workers! The flavors are really amazing and the chocolate stout cake, while crumbly, is still an awesome recipe. The addition of some real whipped cream only enhances its true chocolate flavor.

ONE YEAR AGO: Hippie Chow

Monday, October 25, 2010

Welsh Rarebit

Even though I've lived only about 30 miles away from Wisconsin for the past 9 years, I've rarely had occasion to go there. That all ended this past weekend when I spent 4 days there and realized I have been missing out! Wisconsin is a fine vacation destination. And food-wise, they have lots of CHEESE and BEER, which are 2 really wonderful things in my opinion.

I have been waiting for the perfect occasion to make Welsh Rarebit, and my recent affection for cheese and beer makes me think the time is finally right. Welsh Rarebit is simply a fancy name for an English style open-faced grilled cheese sandwich. But, in a traditional version of Welsh Rarebit the ingredients are important, so I sourced as many of the real deal as I could find.

First - rye bread. My favorite bakery Rustica was out of their rye bread tonight so I settled for some "Jewish Seeded Rye" from Lund's. It was covered in caraway seeds, which I thought were an awesome complement to the cheddar sauce.

Next - beer. The recipe I used called for porter. Other recipes call for Guinness. I went with an English Ale - Boddington's. As a bonus, it's a really great beer for drinking so the 4-pack of pint cans did not go to waste.

Finally - cheese. Real Welsh Rarebit calls for super sharp cheddar. I used a bright orange cheddar from Wisconsin that had aged for 4 years. If you're not a sharp cheddar lover, I recommend mixing some of this cheese with a milder cheese (like monterey jack or baby cheddar) because the sharpness really shines through in the finished sauce.

To make Welsh Rarebit, mix up your cheese sauce then let it set. Spread it onto toasted bread and broil until hot and bubbly and melty. If you don't like any or all of the main ingredients, switch them up! I'd like to try a variation of this sandwich with multigrain bread, local Surly beer, and a milder cheese.

I'm excited to use my leftover cheese sauce in many ways. It tastes great with the cauliflower and broccoli (maybe add some pasta for a fancy mac 'n cheese?). I also want to try the open faced sandwich again but add either sliced tomato, a poached egg (which would make it similar to a Croque Madame), or good quality canned tuna to make a fancy tuna melt.

Welsh Rarebit, adapted from Alton Brown
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup English Ale beer
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
hot sauce to taste
sliced rye bread

Melt butter and flour in saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. Add mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper and keep whisking. Add beer, cream, and shredded cheese, whisking after each addition to keep the sauce smooth. Add hot sauce.

Remove cheese sauce from heat and let it set (refrigerate or let sit at room temp to thicken up).

Toast or broil thick slices of rye bread on both sides. Add a thick layer of cheese sauce and broil for a few minutes until brown and bubbly. I recommend lining your baking sheet with tinfoil or parchment prior to broiling to make clean up much easier.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mexi Turkey Juicy Lucy

If you don't live in the Twin Cities you may not be familiar with a Juicy Lucy. It's one of those regional things that sprouted up many years ago in the bars of South Minneapolis - at the 5-8 Club and Matt's (where it's inexplicably spelled Jucy Lucy). It was even the topic of an episode of Food Wars on the Food Network. Other restaurants have gotten in on the fun and many bars In Minneapolis and St. Paul now have some version of a Juicy Lucy on their menu.

What is a Juicy Lucy? It's basically just an inside-out cheeseburger. Simple right? But people go nuts over these things! I've never had one but I thought I could make one at home with lean ground turkey. It was a super flavorful burger with the addition of some kicky mexican ingredients like pickled jalapenos, cilantro, and roasted red peppers.

The cheese I stuffed inside was the queso quesadilla left over from my enchiladas verdes. On top of the sizzling hot burgers I added sliced avocado, tomato, lettuce, and grilled tomatillo salsa (also left over from the enchiladas).

The flavorful ingredients and cheese ensure these burgers aren't dry and boring (a typical outcome with turkey burgers!

Mexi Turkey Juicy Lucys, serves 4
1 package ground turkey (1.25 lbs)
1/4 onion, grated on microplane
2 cloves garlic, grated on microplane
2 Tbsp chopped pickled jalapenos
2 Tbsp chopped roasted red peppers
handful chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

Several slices good melting cheese
Hamburger buns
Toppings such as lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa

Mix turkey and all the rest of the ingredients through the olive oil together with your hands. Make 8 flat patties out of the meat mixture. Add a few slices cheese between 2 of the patties and pinch the edges together all around.

Add to lightly oiled grill pan (or frying pan or outdoor grill) over medium-high heat. Cook 6-7 minutes on one side without moving. Flip and cook 5 more minutes on the other side or until cooked through.

Serve on toasted buns with optional toppings. Cut it open and watch the cheese ooze out! Careful, it's HOT! But delicious!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Enchiladas Verdes with Cumin Yogurt Crema

Each fall I end up with the same problem: lots of roasted vegetables and a lack of creative new ways to use them. Frittatas, soups, pizzas, and pasta dishes are all great tried and true ways to enjoy your roasted veggies. Or, just serve 'em as a side with a great piece of fish or some type of sandwich. If all else fails, I freeze them for later use.

I had a gigantic bowl of assorted veggies I scrounged from my fridge and pantry and roasted up a few days ago: potato, onion, turnip, broccoli, red pepper, and Brussels sprouts. And, even though I was warned by a good friend that this sounded gross, I decided to make enchiladas out of them. I'm happy to say I was right and these enchiladas were awesome!

And these are not just any enchiladas...they're the extra green kind that uses that yummy tomatillo salsa I recently made on the grill. I made another batch tonight (using the broiler instead of grill) and took pictures this time.

So, this pretty green salsa gives the enchiladas an amazing fresh, sweet, spicy flavor that actually pairs very well with the roasted fall veggies. Especially when rolled up with some queso quesadilla, which is a Mexican melting cheese that's super creamy and melty.

Because the tomatillo salsa could carry a big kick if you have spicy jalapenos, I wanted to cool down the dish with a creamy drizzle. Mexican crema, creme fraiche, or sour cream would all work. But I just used some plain yogurt, thinned with lime juice, and spiced with cumin.

Mexican dishes are notorious for their supremely unphotogenic qualities. But when your enchiladas taste this good, I promise you won't care about what they look like!

Enchiladas Verdes with Cumin Yogurt Crema
For the tomatillo salsa:
10-12 tomatillos, papery husks removed and rinsed
2 jalapenos
1 medium onion, quartered and skins removed
2 cloves garlic, skins removed
1 handful cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime

For the enchiladas:
6-8 corn or flour tortillas
several cups roasted veggies (or meat) of your choice
shredded cheese

For the crema:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
a squeeze of lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin

To serve alongside (all optional):
black beans
cabbage or lettuce
spanish rice
pico de gallo
Mexican beers or tequila

First, make your salsa. Coat tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on foil lined sheet and broil 5-7 minutes on each side or until charred. Remove seeds from jalapenos and throw everything in a food processor with cilantro and lime juice. Pulse to combine.

Add a thin layer of tomatillo salsa to bottom of baking dish. Roll veggies and cheese in tortillas and place in dish. Top with more tomatillo salsa and more cheese. Bake at 400 degrees approximately 20 minutes or until cheese is brown, bubbly, and melty and enchiladas are hot throughout.

While your enchiladas are baking, mix your yogurt with some lime juice to thin it out so you can drizzle it. Mix in cumin. Drizzle it on top of your enchiladas when they're hot out of the oven.

Serve with any or all of the optional sides!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cabbage Soup with Dumplings

So you know how I sometimes get a question in my head and I ask it of everyone I know? Well, maybe you don't know this but it's true. Last year my question was: "If you were going to be executed tomorrow, what would you request for your last supper tonight?" Morbid yeah, but still such a great question. Well, this week lots of my friends and family have been sick so my question has been: "What did your mom/dad/grandparent/etc. make for you when you were sick as a kid?"

The answers are so fun to hear! I would LOVE it if those who read this blog left a comment with their childhood memories of sick food. It may inspire some future blog posts! For sick young me, my mom would make chicken noodle soup with dumplings. It was the Lipton brand - the dried stuff in an envelope, and she'd add her own homemade dumplings. I loved those dumplings. They're dense and chewy and I always wanted more of them.

Even though I'm not sick (excuse me while I pound furiously on wood), I decided a vegetable rich soup with dumplings was just what the doctor ordered tonight. You can make any broth-based soup and add these kickass dumplings, but I wanted the nutritional benefits of cabbage and kale to proactively fight all those germs out there.

I also have had mega carb cravings this week - must be the season change. So I decided I had to have some popovers with my soup. I used the most basic recipe I could find and it worked great! Yum, for dessert, leftover popovers are AMAZING with homemade raspberry jam (made with raspberries from my backyard!).

Here is the method for making my mom's dumplings: beat an egg in a bowl with a splash of milk and some salt and pepper. I also added fresh chopped parsley for a punch of green color. Add flour in small increments and mix until it's thick and sticky. If it gets too thick, add some more milk. You're looking for the consistency of wet concrete - or what you imagine that consistency would feel like.

Then dip a big spoon in your boiling soup to make it hot. Scoop some dumpling mixture with the hot spoon and drop it into the soup. Stir that spoon in the boiling soup to keep it hot and add another scoop of dumpling mix. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until dumplings are plumped up. Serve dumplings and soup with parmesan cheese and popovers!

Cabbage Soup with Dumplings
1 large onion, diced
1 large Russet potato, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
3 bay leaves, salt, pepper, and 1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
2 cubes Rapunzel vegetable bouillon w/ herbs
7 cups water
1/2 Napa or Savoy cabbage, shredded
1/2 bunch kale, chopped

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in large Dutch oven. Add onion, carrot, potato, celery, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add bouillon cubes and water and crank up heat to medium-high. Cook another 5 minutes then add cabbage and kale. Cover and cook another 5-7 minutes to cook until all veggies are soft. Add dumplings (recipe below).

My Mom's Dumplings: (sorry, no measurements!)
1 egg
1 splash milk (1/3 cup?)
salt and pepper
chopped parsley (optional)
all purpose flour

Beat egg, milk, salt, pepper, and parsley together with a fork. Add enough flour until the mixture is thick and sticky like concrete. Drop by spoonful into boiling broth soup and cook covered until pump and cooked through.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Butternut Chipotle Soup

I can't pretend it's late summer anymore. The trees are yellow, red, and orange. It's time for my tiny hometown's scavenger hunt. And I can't stop eating squash. All are the true signs of fall.

The scavenger hunt is tonight. It's a quaint tradition that is so fun. No matter how many years I live in the big city I will love small town quirks like this. We pile into a car and race other cars to clues, running around in the dark with flashlights. It's a hoot! Can't wait.

Pre-hunt fuel must be full of veggies and this soup is a great way to consume a ton of healthy nutrients. This soup is similar in method to my split pea soup (only 3 basic ingredients - onion, stock, split peas!) but with a kick of added chipotles, inspired by this recipe. I added a swirl of plain yogurt to cool down the heat of the chipotle and it was needed.

Because my disdain for pureed soups is well-documented, I'm sure you understand why I needed a hearty sandwich along side this soup for dipping. Seriously, as long as I have teeth in working order I just can't eat an all-mush meal. So I made this yummy fall-tasting Fontina, Pear, and Arugula Panini with a big slathering of dijon mustard. To the trees!! (inside joke for my fellow scavengers).

Butternut Chipotle Soup
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 large roasted butternut squash (about 3-4 cups of squash)
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce, or 1 whole chipotle if you can take the heat!
plain yogurt (can substitute sour cream or creme fraiche)

In a large stock pot over medium high heat, sweat your onion in olive oil and/or butter with salt and pepper until soft (about 5 minutes). Add stock and squash and chipotle sauce. I just used the liquid in the can, not an actual chipotle - but do what you want based on your spice tolerance.

Simmer 15 minutes. In small batches, blend in blender until thick and creamy. Serve super hot with swirls of plain yogurt.

ONE YEAR AGO: Apple Crisp