Archive | February, 2013

Tortilla Soup

22 Feb

I love Tortilla Soup and make many different yet similar versions of it. What’s so great about Tortilla Soup (in my mind, at least) is that it’s a bowl of hot, slightly spicy (how spicy is up to you), filling soup that’s just what I want on a cold winter day,  yet the flavours take me to southern California and I can pretend I’m sitting in the sun rather than shivering in the ice and snow.

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a new obsession for me, but if you can’t get them, don’t want to use them because they’re too spicy or don’t like them, simply leave them out and add 1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder.  If you have it, add 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika as well.

The fresh, cool avocado that I add when serving the soup is something new for me.  The last couple of times I’ve made this soup I’ve added the avocado and love it.  The creamy, cool avocado is a great addition to the spicy, tart soup flavours.

image

Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium orange pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 tomatillos, paper removed, cored and chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced 1/2″
  • 19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • tortilla chips
  • lime wedges
  • extra cilantro

image

Over medium heat, saute the onion and orange pepper in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes, until soft.  Add the garlic, cumin, salt, black pepper and the tomatillo and cook another minute.

Add the chipotle and the adobo sauce and stir through. Add the stock and tomato juice, cover and bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken and beans and cook for 2 minutes, then add the corn.  Cook another 8-10 minutes, or until the soup just comes back to the simmer, the corn is hot and the chicken has cooked through.

Add the lime juice and cilantro, stir through and taste, checking the seasoning and adjusting if necessary.

Top each bowl with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips and extra lime wedges and chopped cilantro on the side.

image

Advertisements

Simple Sides: Roasted Cauliflower

20 Feb

I’ve always liked cauliflower — even when I was really young, I always liked the vegetables that most kids don’t. I’m quite happy with simply steamed cauliflower, but I’ll take it in a soup, with sauces, in a stir-fry, a quiche or many other recipes.  But just like my crispy smashed potatoes, one of my absolutely favorites ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. (It also happens to be great for Passover.)

image

Just like those crispy smashed potatoes, the ingredient list is small — only four items:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large cauliflower, washed well and broken down into small florets

image

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the cauliflower and mix until the oil, salt and garlic are evenly distributed.  Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Roast for 20 minutes, then toss and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges golden brown.  Serve immediately.

image

** Any leftovers are great chopped up and added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Cowboy Cookies / All in One Cookies

14 Feb

imageWhen I was younger we had a baker that used to make Cowboy Cookies.  I don’t know where the name came from, and an online search doesn’t come up with much, but I remember that they were huge oatmeal cookies that had chocolate chips and raisins in them. Perhaps they got their name because of their size and heartiness, making them a great snack for a cowboy.

Another name for these cookies could be the Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies — but I like to think of them as an All in One cookie.  This recipe combines a peanut butter cookie with an oatmeal raisin cookie and a spice cookie and a chocolate chip cookie. These cookies are great as they are, but there’s plenty of room to play around with the additions.  Replace the chocolate chips and raisins with dried cranberries and pecans or slivered almonds and apricots — or any other combinations you can think of.

The ingredient list calls for almond butter, but I also make them with peanut butter and like them that way too.

The recipe makes approximately 24 cookies — they will keep in the freezer for a few weeks if they’re well wrapped.

imageCowboy / All in One Cookies

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cups raisins

Preheat your oven to 350° F.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and two sugars together.  Add the almond butter and mix to combine, then the egg and vanilla.  Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed together.

In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice together.  Add the flour mixture to the stand mixture and mix on low until combined.

Add the oats, chocolate chips and raisins and mix on low until they’ve all been incorporated.   The dough will be very thick.

image

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and use  two spoons to portion the dough into approximately 2 Tbsp. balls.  Use a fork to press the balls down and flatten each cookie, making sure you leave about 1 inch between the cookies.

Bake one sheet of cookies at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 17-21 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown.  Remove and cool.  Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days, or in the freezer, well wrapped, for a few weeks.

Hamantashen

12 Feb

Through the years I’ve tried several different types of Hamentashen.  Some of my favorites include almond pastry with apricot filling, gingerbread pastry with pear filling, cream cheese pastry with any fruit filling, yeast pastry and chocolate pastry with cherry filling.  Though all good, sometimes I think there’s nothing better than a plain-old-simple-pastry with assorted fruit fillings.

Here’s my recipe for Simple Hamantashen dough.  You can fill these with anything you want — jam, pie filling, chocolate, etc.  I’ve made my own apricot, pear, poppy seed, prune and other fillings, but there are lots of great fillings out there, ready to go.  Use whatever you like.

I use lemon zest in the recipe because I really love the hint of lemon flavour it adds to the cookies, but you can leave it out and they’ll still be delicious.

image

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine, soft
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • assorted fruit jams, pie fillings or other fillings

image

Preheat an oven to 350°.

Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the lemon zest, baking powder and salt and mix through.  Add the flour and mix on low until it’s all combined and a ball of dough forms.

Divide the dough into 2 sections, setting one aside.  Roll the other section approximately 1/8″ thick on a well-floured counter.  Use a cutter to cut out 2 1/2″ – 3″ circles.  You can keep the scraps and re-roll them once.

Place about 1 tsp. of a filling of your choice in the center of each circle.  Bring three sides of the dough together to make a triangle.  Pinch the three corners together and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Continue with the rest of the dough.

Place the hamantashen in the oven and bake 15-17 minutes, or until the bottom and edges are golden brown.

image

You can make the dough the day before you want to make them, keeping it in the fridge, well wrapped.

Makes approximately 4 dozen hamantashen.

Pulled BBQ Beef

7 Feb

I  planned on posting this last week for a great Superbowl Sunday dinner idea. Though I’m not a football fan (I’d watch hockey over football any day), I thought this was a great option.  Alas, do to some technical difficulties, my blog has been down for over a week.   But it’s still a great recipe and with a very short prep time, you’re free to watch the hockey game or anything else while it slowly cooks.

This is an easy recipe.  Mix everything together and toss it in the oven or slow-cooker for several hours and you’re good to go.

image

This is a hearty, filling meal. It’s fun. Finally, it’s delicious.

I’ve done this with a shoulder roast in the past, and you can, but I really prefer a chuck roast (boneless here, but you can use bone-in).

image

Raw, ready to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. beef chuck roast (boneless)
  • salt and pepper

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. fancy molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup water
image

After 5 hours. .

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and place in a Dutch oven or large pot with lid.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a mixing bowl and pour the sauce over the roast.  Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 5 hours, turning the roast over every 2 hours.  It’s ready when the meat breaks apart easily when you stick a fork in it.

image

Shredded, mixed with sauce.

Remove the meat from the pot, placing it on a large plate or in a bowl.  Use a spoon to carefully remove as much fat as possible from the top of the sauce.  (If you’re not eating this right away, you can chill the sauce, remove the fat, then reheat it before serving.)

Use two forks to break the roast into small chunks or to shred it.  Remove any fat as you go.

Return the meat to the sauce and mix, making sure all of the beef has been coated in sauce.  Serve on a soft bun on it’s own, or try it with some coleslaw added to the sandwich.

image

Makes 6-8 big sandwiches.

** If you’re using a slow cooker, cook for 10 hours on low or until the roast is fork tender and pulls apart easily when using two forks.