Morel Madness and the Audacious Soufflé

23 Apr Morel, Wild Ramp & Goat Cheese Souffle

This week I have the extraordinary opportunity to be a participant in the Marx Foods 4th Annual Blogger Morel Recipe Challenge.  This is an annual contest open to bloggers like me or, to coin a phrase, “morelnauts”, to help celebrate the Morel mushroom, which comes into season in a few short weeks. I simply offered up my interest, and was dutifully accepted!  So, having received my free sample of dried morels, it was time to suit up.

Dried Morels

My first thought, after consulting with my wife, was to make a fresh ramp and morel quiche, but I really wanted to put some sizzle into my entry. So after pondering it for a bit, I thought, “Fortune favors the audacious”, I instantly said, SOUFFLÉ! Problem number 1; I had never made a soufflé before! I had all the flavor affinities in my head, the eggs, the morels, the ramps, the goat cheese. I just needed to learn how to make the vehicle! So on Saturday, I went about my research and even took a test drive and made a Mexican Chocolate Soufflé! I soon learned that a savory soufflé is nothing more than an enriched bechamel sauce with some egg whites folded in! I can make a bechamel with my eyes shut, so this should be fun!

Morels have a unique earthy flavor and a musty aroma that pairs quite well with the pungent, garlicky-onion flavor of the fresh ramps. They are both at their prime in the spring, so why not use them together! I was able to find some fresh ramps at a local purveyor this weekend, and I thought why not deepen that earthy flavor with the deep smoky flavor of the poblano chile and toss in some rich, tangy goat cheese.  Finally I added a bit of freshness with the chopped cilantro plus,  I cannot be too far away from my Mexican flavors!

Fresh Ramps!

Fresh Ramps!

 

Well, here it is, my entry into the Marx Foods 4th Annual Blogger Morel Recipe Challenge! Enjoy…

The lucious Morel Soufflé

The lucious Morel Soufflé

Morel, Wild Ramp, Poblano & Goat Cheese Soufflé

  • 2 oz. dried morels
  • 2 chile poblanos
  • 4 oz. fresh ramps
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Take 4 – 8 oz. souflee cups and grease with some butter.
  3. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for about 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, drain and dry very well with some paper towels.
  5. Roast the Poblanos in the oven, then peel, remove the seeds and de-vein. Chop to a nice dice and set aside.
  6. Wash the fresh ramps and remove the roots and the greens
  7. In a food processor, place the morels and the ramps and pulse several times to a nice coarse chop.
  8. In a medium sautee pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Then saute the ramps and morels for about 3-4 minutes, ensuring that any liquid is cooked off.
  9. Add the chopped poblanos and the dried thyme and continue to sautee for another 2 minutes to incorporate all the flavors. Then set aside.
  10. For the bechamel, heat 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  11. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook until the mixture has a slightly golden color and smells a bit nutty, about 3 minutes.
  12. Take the milk and add it a bit at a time, continuously whisking as you add the milk. I usually add it in 1/4 cup portions. Make sure to whisk out any lumps!
  13. Once all the milk is added, add the goat cheese and season the bechamel with white pepper and salt.
  14. Now, incorporate the mushroom, ramp, and poblano sautee, and the chopped cilantro, mix well.
  15. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  16. Separate your yolks and whites, whisk the egg yolks until they are a pale yellow.
  17. Take about a large spoonful of the bechamel and temper the yolks so they do not cook once you add them to the bechamel.
  18. Once they have been tempered, add them to the bechamel and mix well. Cover the pan with some plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the sauce.
  19. Take the egg whites and whisk until the have hard peaks (I take the bowl and invert it over my head, if they do not fall out and hit me, the whites are ready!) TIP: For greater lift make sure you use egg whites that are at ROOM TEMPERATURE!
  20. Now fold the whites into the sauce in 3 different stages. Simply divide the whites into thirds and fold each section separately.
  21. Take your greased souflee cups and spoon the sauce into each one a little more than 3/4 of the way up each one.
  22. Place in the center of your oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
  23. Quick!!! Serve immediately before they deflate!

Morel, Wild Ramp & Goat Cheese Souffle

Caldo de Camarón

12 Apr Caldo de Camarron

Can any two words be more delicious than Shrimp Soup? Now take that simply delicious shrimp soup and add a little Mexican flavor and you have the classic Caldo de Camarón.

Caldo de Camarón

Caldo de Camarón

Among all the tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and tamales, Mexico also has a very large repertoire of soups, especially seafood based soups. Among those is the classic Caldo de Camarón. This hearty, slightly spicy soup is built upon a base of chile guajillo, a delicious shrimp broth, chunks of potatoes and carrots, and finished with fresh peeled shrimp. Luckily, I was able to find some fresh native shrimp at the local fishmonger, so this was a welcome treat to our Easter Sunday brunch!

In Mexico, this soup is often given complimentary in many restaurants, served in little shot glasses! It is a very delicious way to welcome you to their restaurant…

So as you welcome those special guests to your table, just remember to serve it very hot and always have fresh limes ready to be squeezed in the soup!

Buen Provecho!!!

Caldo de Camarón

  • 4 Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 8-10 Chile Guajillo
  • 1.0 lbs. Shrimp.
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Peel and devein shrimp under cold running water, reserving peels and shrimp separately; set shrimp aside.
  2. Take shells, the onion, 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, and ½ tsp of salt put in a stockpot and add about 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
  3. Strain broth and put liquid back into a stockpot and keep warm.
  4. Toast the chiles on a comal and then soak in hot water for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the stems and seeds and place in a blender with 1 clove of garlic, a peel of onion, and about 2 cups of soaking liquid. Blend to a puree.
  5. In another stockpot, heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, Strain the puree over the oil and then simmer for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-high heat, allowing the puree to season and thicken.
  6. Add the shrimp broth that you had set aside, add the carrots, potatoes.
  7. Bring broth back to a simmer, and simmer  for 5 minutes.
  8. Turn heat to high, add shrimp, bring to a boil, and simmer briefly until shrimp are done.
  9. Add the chopped cilantro and add salt to taste.
  10. Ladle soup into large soup bowls, and serve with lime wedges.

    Caldo de Camarron

    Caldo de Camarron

Mixotes de Pollo

5 Apr Mixotes de Pollo

I love waking up in Mexico City… Each morning in my suegra’s house is to awaken every sense in one’s body. The first to awake is sound; you can hear the commotion of the city, car horns going off, the sounds of the street workers yelling “Glooooobos” or the occasional “Tamales Oaxacaños” recording. The next is sight; the bright sun of the Valle de México shining through your eyelids, kick starting your brain. Then comes smell; there is nothing quite like the aroma of my suegra‘s kitchen wafting up the stairs and into the bedroom. It often brings me back to the old cartoons, where the aromas were like hands, grabbing the antagonist and leading them to their savory desires.  Finally, there is touch; to walk downstairs, sit down and take a fresh corn tortilla, a cup of café de olla, and a plate of  freshly prepared mixotes is the final step to waking up in Mexico City!

Mixotes de Pollo

Mixotes de Pollo

Among all the delicious dishes my suegra makes, one of my Top 5 favorites is Mixotes.  Mixotes is a dish typical of central Mexico and the name derives from what I believe to be the method (traditionally the meat is wrapped in the leaves of the Maguey cactus the ‘Mix’ ) and the cooking technique ( the ‘otl’ part or the ‘otes’ plural) , but I am not a Nahuatl expert so don’t quote me as the source of this linguistic synopsis. I digress, Mixotes can be made with almost any type of meat. I have had ram, lamb, and of course in the case of this recipe, chicken. The traditional way is to season the meat with a chile paste and wrap in the leaves of the Maguey, very similar to barbacoa, add a scoop of nopales, and to pit roast the packages for several hours. The modern preparation is to prepare En Papillote  and steam the packages. In this case, we use foil instead of parchment paper. The chipotles used in this dish smell particularly delicious because of the smoky, earthy flavor that dried chipotles bring to the party. Those smells are the little hands that bring me down those stairs in the morning!

The final result is a wonderful spicy dish in plenty of chipotle flavored broth, tender cactus, and succulent chicken. I open up that package, close my eyes, and I am transported back to my suegra’s kitchen! Enjoy!

 

 

Mixotes de Pollo

  • 6-7 Chicken Quarters (Legs & Thighs)
  • 12-13 Dried Chipotles Moras
  • 1 cup cilantro leafs, loosely packed
  • 6-7 Nopales (cactus paddles)
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Put the chipotles in a saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. While the chipotles are boiling, clean the nopales and cut into thin 1 inch or less strips.
  3. Place the nopales in a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3-5 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water, and let drain.
  4. Take the chicken and remove the skin, rinse well and pat dry. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Slice the onion thin using a mandolin and combine with the chicken in the mixing bowl.
  6. Add the nopales to the mixing bowl.
  7. Wash the cilantro and remove the stems, add to the mixing bowl.
  8. Once the chipotles are tender, put on some food service gloves and remove the stems and seeds, place in a blender with the clove of garlic and about 1/4 cup of the liquid you boiled the chipoltes in. Puree the mixture well and add to the mixing bowl.
  9. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the chicken time to marinate in the chile mixture.
  10. Grab some aluminum foil and make 6 sheets, make them large enough to wrap two pieces of chicken and some of the chile & vegetable mixture.
  11. With a large spoon, scoop out two pieces of chicken and some of the vegetables, place in the center of the foil and fold up the package, do this until all the chicken is wrapped into individual foil pouches.
  12. Place the pouches in a large pot with about 1.5 inches of water, you can place a bowl inverted in the bottom and then place the packages on top of and around the bowl, this will allow the packages to steam. OR you can use a spaghetti cooker (the one with the strainer insert).
  13. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and steam the packages for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, take out a package and check the chicken to ensure it is fully cooked.
  14. Serve with Saffron Rice or Frijoles de Olla.
Mixotes de Pollo

Mixotes de Pollo

Flan Napolitano

2 Apr Flan Napolitano

In the center of Mexico City, not far from where the Aztec main temple, Templo Mayor, once stood, there is the famous restaurant, El Cardenal. El Cardenal is an elegant place with white table cloths, white coated staff, and wonderfully delicious traditional Mexican cuisine. We go to this restaurant each and every time we are in Mexico City, primarily because they have the most decadent desserts to be found anywhere in Mexico. Among my favorites is Flan Napolitano, a delicious creamy custard covered in a sugary caramel, it is one of Mexico’s most famous desserts!

Flan Napolitano

Flan Napolitano

Flan has a long and glorious history that reaches back as far as Ancient Rome. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the custard recipe they developed became popular throughout medieval Europe.  As the recipe was replicated and adapted, it became more and more sweet. In Latin, the dessert was known as flado, for custard, it is from the French that it eventually became Flan.

In Mexico, flan was taken to a whole new level. Traditional flan is made with eggs, cane sugar, vanilla,  and cream.  It is prepared by first making sugar syrup cooked to a caramel, poured into a mold, or in my case, small soufflé molds, then finally adding the custard. It is cooked in the oven in a water bath to prevent the custard from curdling and to keep the top of the custard moist. Flan Napolitano is a bit different, in that it is made by adding cream cheese and queso doble creama to the custard. This gives the flan a much more rich and creamy texture. Flan is perfect for cooling the palatte after a spicy, chile based dish, this is why it is so popular in Mexico. There are other flavors as well; pumpkin, almond, and even coconut. But my favorite is still the classic vanilla.

In my interpretation, I decided to try to use marscapone instead of queso doble creama. The result was simply MexItaliano!

Right from the oven

Fresh from the oven taking a little bath!

 

Flan Napolitano MexiItaliano

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 9 ounces cream cheese
  • 9 ounces Mascarpone Cheese
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

For the caramel:

  1. Combine 1 cup sugar with the a bit of water in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
  2. When the sugar begins to melt, swirl the pan over the heat for 10 minutes, until it darkens to a honey-amber color.
  3. Remove from heat and immediately pour into each flan mold, tilting it so the caramel evenly coats the bottom.
  4. Place the molds in a large roasting pan and set aside.

    Making the caramel

    Making the caramel

For the flan:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Bring about 4 cups of water to a simmer and keep it hot. You’ll use this for your water bath.
  3. You will need to slice the vanilla bean down the sides and remove the inner seeds, to do this take a pairing knife and slice it lengthwise, open it up and scoop out the inner seeds and place it in the bowl.
  4. Combine  the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream cheese, crema and vanilla in a saucepan and place over medium-low heat.
  5. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, but don’t allow it to come to a full boil, once it is throughly combined into a cream, remove from heat.
  6. Whisk together the eggs and remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl, add a pinch of salt. Whisk vigorously until thick and pale yellow in color.
  7. Now, GRADUALLY whisk the cream into the egg mixture, but be careful not to add it too quickly or the eggs will cook (What I do is combine the cream and the eggs together a ladle at a time)
  8.  Pour the custard into the caramel-coated flan molds.
  9. Carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into a roasting pan so that it’s about halfway up the side of the molds. 
  10. Transfer to the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  11. If you notice during this time that the surface is starting to turn golden-brown but it’s not fully cooked yet, cover it with foil so it doesn’t burn.
  12. You may also periodically insert a knife into the center of the flan to check for doneness. When the knife come out clean, it’s done; when the custard is just set and slightly jiggles, it’s time to take it out.
  13. Let custard cool completely in the water bath. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  14. To serve, run a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the flan. Place a serving plate over the mold and invert it to pop the flan out

    Flan Napolitano

    Flan Napolitano

Bacalao en Cilantro

28 Mar Bacalao con Cilantro

If you ever get to travel to Mexico’s Gulf Coast, you will find that Mexicans really know their fish; it’s not all just about tacos and Ceviche!  Bacaloa en Cilantro

I had some fresh Haddock filets that I wanted to cook and my family does not particularly like the standard approach New Englanders take to their seafood; often deep-fried in heavy breading, or baked, drowned in butter and topped with crackers. Sometimes, there is nothing better than whipping up some beer-batter, deep-fry those filets, and have yourself some luscious Baja Fish Tacos, but were looking for something a bit more healthy! As I went through the recipe Rolodex in my head, I remembered a recipe that I once read in Diana Kennedy’s The Essential Cusines of Mexico for Pescado en Cilantro. In her version she uses snapper, but I had no access to fresh snapper, so I improvised and used the haddock instead!

 What I really like about this dish is the sauce. The chile, onion, and cilantro flavors combined with the fiery juice from the can of chiles make for a unique combination. To accompany this dish, I decided on using my go-to recipe of Saffron Rice. I just love the flavor of saffron with seafood.

You can go about the preperation two different ways. You can make the sauce and add the sauce to the casserole dish halfway through cooking, or you can simply drizzle it on the fish once you plate. I, out of sheer forgetfulleness (I wanted to cook the fish in the sauce to add the flavors of the fish and lime), ended up drizzling the sauce around the rice. It all turned out well in the end, the acidity and heat of the cilantro sauce complimented well with the fish and rice. After all, the taste of the sea, the chiles, cilantro, and saffron seem to be a match hard to beat!

 

Bacalao en Cilantro

(Baked Haddock in a cilantro sauce)

  • 2-3 pounds haddock or cod, cut into 6 ounce portions.
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 Jalepeños em escabeche
  • 1 cup of cilantro, packed
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons juice from the chile can
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Cut the fish into 6 ounce portions
  3. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a saute pan and saute the onions over medium high heat for about 5-6 minutes.
  4. In a casserole dish pour the lime juice and lay down half the onions.
  5. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place the fish on the bed of lime juice and onions, drizzle 2 tablespoons of oilve oil and place the rest of the onions on the fish
  6. Cover with foil and bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  7. Take a clove of garlic, the jalepeños, the juice from the chile can and the cilantro and place into a 3 cup food processor, drizzle in the remaining olive oil with the motor running.
  8. When the fish is cooked, serve by laying down the saffron rice, top the rice with onions and a piece of the fish. At this point you can drizzle on the sauce or spoon it along the circumference of the rice. Top with chopped cilantro and serve!

    Bacalao con Cilantro

    Bacalao con Cilantro

Saffron Rice

  • 1 1/2  cups white jasmine or basmati rice
  • 1/4 white onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Saffron threads
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  1. Place the water, saffron, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn off to let the saffron steep.
  2. Heat oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  3. Add onion, rice, and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  4. Add the saffron mixture and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  6. Let rice stand, covered, off heat 5 minutes
  7. Fluff with a fork and serve with your fish!

Shadone – The Italian Easter “Pie”

26 Mar Easter Shadone

If you know any Italians, one thing you would be sure to remember is that we are filled with so many traditions when it comes to food. We have a dish for just about any holiday on the calendar. For my family, it is the “Seven Fishes” on Christmas Eve, the Cavatelli for Christmas Day, the Ravioli on New Years Day, and for Easter we have Shadone.

Easter Shadone

Shadone

Shadone is a rather reclusive dish. If you Google it, you probably will not find much information on its source or on its history. Like all dishes in Italy, they are quite regional, so my guess is that it originated somewhere in Northern Italy, possibly the region of Liguria, as this is where eggs were used most in Italian cuisine. I would say it is more of an educated guess than fact though, so don’t hold me to that!  Those of you more familiar with the Pizzagaina, may find it to be very similar to Shadone as well. I find it to be a cross between a Quiche, a pie, and a Calzone. The star of the dish is of course, centered on the symbol of Easter, the Egg!

Shadone is a decadent Easter bread filled with plenty of eggs, cheeses, and pepperoni (salami). It is a bit involved to make, and it was a bit challenging for me as I have never made it before. I seemed to spend an unusual amount of time making my iPhone dirty by trying to call my father to get his tips and tricks! One of the things I loved about this was the smell. I remember smelling the aromas of the salami as it baked in the oven! There are few aromas better to my nose than pepperoni and bread baking in the oven! We generally would eat this as a starter before our Easter brunch. But it also makes a great breakfast, so grab a nice big slice and a cappuccino and enjoy! Buona Pasqua!

Shadone

Fresh from the Oven

 

Shadone

(The DelGrosso Italian Easter “Pie”)

Filling:

  • 1 1/4 lbs. Dried Salami, Sopresseta, or “Pepperoni”
  • 1 3/4 lbs. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 lb. Queso Fresco
  • 4 Hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Dough

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/4 lb. Butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  1. Hard boil the eggs; Place the eggs in cold water in a medium saucepan, making sure they have about 1 inch of water covering them.
  2. Put about a teaspoon of salt in the water and heat the eggs on high heat to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium and continue to boil for 1 minute.
  3. After one minute, cover, and remove from the heat. Let sit for 12 minutes. Your eggs should be perfectly hard-boiled. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Chop the salami into small cubes, I basically julienne the salami.
  5. Peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs.
  6. In a large mixing bowl combine the pepperoni, hard-boiled eggs, the cheeses. Add the lightly beaten eggs and mix well.
  7. Add some cracked black pepper and some salt. At this point I taste for seasoning, but if you are queasy about eating raw egg, you can skip this. I added about 1 teaspoon of salt and about 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper.
  8. Once the filling is ready, you can cover with some plastic wrap and put it in the fridge while you work on the dough.
  9. For the dough, place the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) into your Kitchen Aid mixing bowl and use the paddle to mix for about 1 minute.
  10. At this point I placed my tiles in the oven on the bottom rack and preheated the oven to 350°F.
  11. Then detach the bowl and add the cold butter in chunks. Use a pastry blender and work the butter into the flour until the mixture becomes crumbly and you no longer pull butter out of the pastry blender.
  12. Attach the mixing bowl and switch to the dough hook.
  13. Whisk the eggs and the milk together in a separate bowl and add to the dry ingredients.
  14. Mix on low-speed for about 2 minutes.
  15. Now, I did something different here, instead of continuing to knead, I took the dough out, folded it a couple of times, then placed it back into the mixing bowl. I wanted to make sure that all the flour was incorporated into the dough.
  16. Turn the mixer back on low and knead for 8 minutes.
  17. Cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes on the counter.
  18. Now, since this was my first time making this recipe, I kind of winged the rest of this:
  19.  I took a portion of dough a bit larger than an orange, flattened it with my hands, dusted it with flour  and fed it through my Kitchen Aid pasta roller on setting #1.
  20. I dusted it again with some flour and fed it through setting #2.
  21. I cut the sheet in a length about  24 inches, lay it down on a dusted countertop or pastry board. I rolled it along its width with a rolling-pin to make it a bit thinner and open it up a bit to about 8 inches.
  22. I cut the sheet in half (One for the bottom, one for the top) and placed about 1 cup of filling in the center of the bottom sheet, spread it out a bit with your spatula, but be sure to leave about an inch all the way around the sheet for you to close it up.
  23. Now place the top half of the sheet over the bottom sheet with the filling. Cut off any excess dough to even up the edges.
  24. Fold up the edges and corners, and seal with a fork in a cross-hatch pattern all around the pie (very similar to sealing ravioli).
  25. Baste with some egg wash, but do not baste the sealed edges and corners, just the top.
  26. At this point you have an option. You can slash it a couple of times across the top, or take a toothpick and poke some holes in the top gently to allow the steam to escape. I did half one way and half the other way to see what was better, I personally like the slash method!
  27. Place on parchment paper before setting on the tiles so that you do not burn the bottoms.
  28. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour.

    Shadone

    Halfway through baking!

  29. Place the pies on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate or freeze what you do not eat.

    Shadone

    Shadone

 

2012 Rochester Electronics Chili Cook-off

20 Mar Rochester Electronics Chili-Cookooff

What do tortilla chips and semiconductor chips have in common? Well, really, nothing at all, but they both go great with CHILI!Rochester Electronics Chili-Cookooff

Not only is Rochester Electronics the world’s most comprehensive solution for mature and end-of-life semiconductors, they also hold great food events. On March 15, they held their 3rd Annual Chili Cook-off at its corporate headquarters in Newburyport, Massachusetts. This year, 17 different entries, a record number, came to Rochester Electronics, all with the same desire to brew the best pot of chili in the Seacoast and bring home the coveted Presidents trophy.

The entries ranged from the sweet “Suga Mama’s Sweet N’ Spicy Chili”, which was sweetened with what seemed to be sweet pickle relish, to the high-octane heat of habenero chili in the “Kickin’ It Up A Notch Chili”. The event was also catered by American Barbeque, of Beverly, Massachusetts, with pulled pork, mashed potatoes and cornbread, but this was all about the chili! The judging was by secret ballot, with each person who attended the event voting for their favorite chili. I personally tried every entry with a separate bowl and spoon for each one. I can truly say that there was not a bad chili to be had at the cook-off!

The Chili Cooks

My entry featured fresh handmade Mexican Chorizo, Pancetta, Tri-tip, Pozole, and my own special blend chili powder; you can find the recipe below. In the end, the guests choose first timer Nick Rabbit as the overall best, his chili featured hot Italian sausage, hamburger, and a touch of barbeque sauce.

 
 
2012 Rochester Electronics Chili Cook-Off Official Results
1. That Jane From Maine Chili – Nick Rabbit – 2012 Champion!
2. Dago Reds Old #77 – Chris DelGrosso
3. Sweet Joppa Heat, A Clipper City Favorite – Keith Maguire & Chris Mele
4. Suga Mama’s Sweet N’ Spicy Chili – Erik Corkern
5T. Barnyard Chili – Karen Quarantiello 
5T. Chilly Chili – Pablo Lora 
5T. Kickin’ It Up A Notch Chili – Mike Smith of Boston Carnival Village
6T. Screamin’ Banshee Chili – Jamie Vatcher
6T. Kickin’ Chili – Crystal Vitale
7. 4 Watt Chili – Brian Thibeau
8T. Meaghan’s Fabulous Chili – Meaghan Meredith
8T. Authentic Mexican Chili – Heather Brogna
8T. Burning Saddle Chili – Jay Chapin
8T. No Name Chicken Chili – Bob “Wiles Thing” Wiles
8T. Sweet Cajun Chili – Loren Krott
9T. Turkey Chili – Jason Lemieux
9T. Kate’s Pot of Gold – Kate Mageary

Now for the winning recipes, we have the top two finishers recipes for you…

Top 2 Chili Cooks

The Top 2 Chili Cooks

 

That Jane from Maine Chili

(Recipe Courtesy of Nick Rabbit)

  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with their juice (chopped)
  • 2 14 oz cans Dark red kidney beans
  • 1 Medium onion (chopped)
  • ½ cup of green pepper (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons barbeque sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 Hot or Sweet Italian Sausages
  • 1 lb of Hamburger
  1. Brown 6 links of hot Italian sausage and cut into coin shapes prick sausage while they cook to drain fat (Add to le creuset pot)
  2. In one tablespoon of the fat, sauté 1 medium onion dice, 1/2 cup or more diced green pepper remove and add to le creuset pot
  3. Brown ¾ to 1 lb ground beef drain off all fat add to chili pot
  4. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil reduce to simmer and cook 1 hour

 

Dago Red Old #77 Chili

  • 7-8 ounces of Pancetta or Guanciale, finely diced
  • 1.5 lbs. Fresh Mexican Chorizo
  • 2 lbs. Tri-Tip or Sirloin Tips, cubed
  • 1 large Vidalia Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 28 oz. Can of San Maranzano Plum Tomatoes
  • 3 Chili Poblanos, roasted, peeled, seeded, and deveined
  • 15 oz. Frijoles de Olla
  • 15 oz. Pozole (Corn Hominy)
  • 3 tblsp Fresh Chili Powder (see recipe below)
  • 1 tblsp. Brown Sugar
  • 3 tblsp. Tequila (Anejo or Reposado) – I used Don Julio
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • Salt
  1. In a separate skillet, cook the chorizo off until done, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, render down the Pancetta until it is somewhat crisp, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is aromatic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cubed sirloin tips and then add the chili powder, cook until the meat is not pink anymore on the outside, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Deglaze with the tequila and continue to cook until the liquid reduces by half.
  6. Now add the chorizo and mix well to incorporate.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, crush the tomatoes with a potato masher or by hand (I use my hands!)
  8. Add the tomatoes to the pot and mix well, reduce the heat to medium and bring to a nice boil. Add some salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
  9. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and then add the chopped chili poblano.
  10. Continue to simmer on low heat for about 2 more hours. I recommend putting the chili in a crock-pot or slow cooker for about 8 hours on low. In the last 30-45 minutes, add the pozole and the beans.
  11. Serve with some fresh Chipotle-Cheddar Scones!

  

Dago Red Old #77

The Dago Red Old #77 on display

DelGrosso’s Fresh Chili Powder 

  • 2 Dried Chile Guajillos
  • 2 Dried Chile Anchos
  • 2 Dried Chile Pasilla
  • 2 Dried Chile Chipotles
  • 3 Dried Chile de Arbol
  • 1 tblsp. Dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Cumin Seed
  • 1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  1. Take the dried chiles and remove the stems, empty the seeds and break them apart into small pieces, I sliced them and separated the seeds.
  2. Place all the chile pieces, cumin, and peppercorns in a skillet over medium high heat and toast them until they become aromatic, DO NOT BURN THEM OR THEY WILL TASTE BITTER!
  3. Let them cool and place the oregano, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and half of the toasted chiles in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Wait about a minute for the dust to settle, then add the rest of the chiles, grind once again until a nice fine powder.
  4. Store in a airtight container.

    Me with the "Secret Weapon"

    Me & the "Secret Weapon"

Pozole Verde

13 Mar

This is a recipe that tugs right at my heartstrings. I love Pozole and this recipe for verde from Karen at The Back Road Journal does this traditional dish proud! Viva Pozole!

Corned Beef and Colcannon

12 Mar Home Cured Corned Beef and Colcannon

This weekend was the first “official” road race of the spring running season up here in New England, the St. Paddy’s Five Miler, in Portsmouth, NH, where your’s truly ran an uninspired 45:30… One can almost smell spring in the air and with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I thought it was time to post my first Irish recipe. Here in America, when we think of St. Patrick’s Day, we think of parades, Guinness, and Corned Beef and Cabbage.Home Cured Corned Beef and Colcannon

So what does corned beef have to do with MexItalian cuisine? Well, absolutely nothing, but I have always wanted to “corn” my own beef.  Now, the process of “corning” beef refers to the treatment of the meat with “corns” of salt and without going into the menusha of wet-cured meats, gives the cheaper, tougher cut of brisket suppleness and tenderness. There are several advantages to corning your own beef. The first being that is so extraordinarily simple, why would you not do it yourself. Another reason is that you are in complete control the ingredients that you are using in the curing process and you have ownership of the flavors and nutritional value of the finished product. I am specifically talking about the use of sodium nitrite, or Pink Salt. There have been numerous studies on the use and consumption of nitrites, but to make it simple, I tend to shy away from any food additive that is lethal to humans in larger quantities. One only needs a few simple ingredients, a corning technique, and 5 days (it takes 5 days to cure the beef prior to cooking so start NOW!).

For my St. Patrick’s Day feast I decided to serve my home cured corned beef not simply with the traditional cabbage and potato, but with another dish that combines both the cabbage AND the potato; Colcannon! For those of you who have never heard of, or eaten colcannon, it is another delicious traditional Irish dish that is made by combining mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale.Colcannon

So now that I had my menu, I started by putting my meat to brine on Tuesday morning so that it would be ready for my post-race Sunday meal. I submerged the brisket in a stockpot and made some room for it on the top rack of my refrigerator and turned the brisket each night. On Sunday I simply rinsed the brisket, placed it in another stockpot, covered it with water, added a bit more pickling spice, and simmered the brisket for 3 1/2 hours. I then added the potatoes to the pot and cooked them WITH the beef in the same broth, I think that this really brings both dishes together!

As I always say, if it is worth eating, then it is worth doing right! Forget that packaged corned beef loaded with cancerous nitrites. This corned beef is made from 100% grass-feed beef, crystal clear spring water, and hand toasted pickling spices. Serve that up with a hearty serving of colcannon and you can have a St. Patrick’s Day feast you can be proud to serve!

What is your St. Patrick’s day meal? If you are Irish, what are your traditions?

Home-Cured Corned Beef

(Adapted from Micheal Ruhlman’s Corned Beef : How to Cure Your Own)

  • 1 5-pound beef brisket
  • 1-1/2 cups kosher salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons pickling spice (see below)
  • 1 tsp pulverized celery seed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in two
  1. In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon of water with kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the pickling spice and the crushed celery seed.
  2. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
  4. Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 5 days.
  5. Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly.
  6. Place in a pot just large enough to hold it. Cover with water and add remaining pickling spice, carrot, onion.
  7. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer gently until brisket is fork-tender, about 3.5 hours, adding water if needed to cover brisket.
Corned Beef and Colcannon

Corned Beef and Colcannon

 

Pickling Spice

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon ground mace
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
  • 2 to 4 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger.
  1. Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan.
  2. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them.
  3. Crack peppercorns and seeds in a molcajete (mortar and pestal!) I knew I could add a Mexican twist to this!!
  4. Combine with other spices, mix and put in a tightly sealed plastic or glass container.

 

Colcannon

  • 8 large red potatoes
  • 1 head of Savoy Cabbage chopped
  • 6 scallions
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup Fat-Free   milk
  • 2/3 cups Fat-Free Sour Cream
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  1. Peel the potatoes rather lightly, it is ok to leave some of the skin on.
  2. Quarter them and place them in the stockpot cooking with the corned beef. Cook until fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large sautee pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons of the butter.
  4. When all the butter is melted, add the cabbage and sautee until just wilting and then reduce heat to low and continue to cook until tender about 8 minutes, stirring often. (Take special care not to burn the cabbage). Turn off the heat and cover.
  5. Once the potatoes are done, remove from the stockpot with a slotted spoon and drain them well in a colander.
  6. Combine the milk and the sour cream in a bowl by simply whisking in the sour cream.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, mash the potatoes well, combining the remaining butter and the milk and cream mixture. Continue to mash and stir until you get the desired texture that you like. (I like them a bit rustic and lumpy)
  8. Fold in the cabbage and add the scallions.
  9. Serve with the corned beef and a pint of Guiness!
Colcannon

Colcannon

Bánh mì Inspired

8 Mar

This weeks reblog comes from The Incuistion. This Vietnamese version of my Mexican Tortas made of pickled radishes, tamarindo, red onion, fresh cucumber, cilantro, and basil looks so delicious that I may just go out and make it this weekend! The avocado aioli is inspiring and would be wonderful with some fish tacos as well! Be sure to trackback to her blog and check out some of her other recipes as well! What do you think?

The Incuisition

On my way home from the beach the other day, I was trying to figure out the prefect evening meal to finish a day dozing in the sand. I was in a daze, just having emerged from the long afternoon sun and from under the gauzy blanket of ocean sounds: the waves, muffled gossip from girls on a nearby blanket, scattered birds, and children with their cries and plastic shovels. I was craving something with real texture and strong spice. I wanted to carry over the feeling of Pacific breeze, warmth and ease into the evening. I kept thinking about the flavors of tamarind, soy, cilantro, and sesame. When I got home, I did something I rarely do: make a sandwich.

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