Pickled Jalapenos

May 22, 2011

This weather is the pits. Where did the sunny part of Spring go? Every day I’ve had off has been grey, drizzle-y, and 45 degrees. Where is the sun? The heat? The chirping songbirds? But I had a brilliant idea Wednesday night. I would make my own sunshine *ding. How is that possible? you ask. MAKE TACOS AND MARGARITAS FOR DINNER.

And so I chopped vegetables and grilled shrimp (inside) while listening to the Buena Vista Social Club station on Pandora. I decided to add a few special touches to the shrimp tacos. I made a corn and tomato relish. I grilled up a link of chorizo that was sitting patiently in our freezer. And I made an at home version of my favorite taco condiment, pickled jalapenos.

Much spicier than their canned counterparts, these potent peppers will kick up anything you add them to (I’d strongly encouage you to chop them into small bits, first. I ate a whole round and had to chug milk immediately after). You even get to pickle some carrot rounds with them which make another excellent taco topping.

This recipe yields 2, pint sized jars. Which is good, because if this week’s forecast is any indication, we have a lot of taco/margarita nights in our future.

PICKLED JALAPENOS (from Everyday Food, June 2011)

Yields 2 pint jars

Ingredients

1/2 lb jalapenos (about 8)

2 medium carrots (cut into 1/4 inch rounds)

1.5 cups cider vinegar

2 cups water

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Recipe

Cut stems off jalapenos and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Put them in a big, heatproof glass bowl. Put carrots, vinegar, water, bay leaves, salt, sugar, and peppercorns in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture boils, reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes. Pour this mix over jalapenos, and let cool (about one hour). Store in an airtight container for 3 weeks or more.

We celebrated my birthday this weekend. We had a great time. See?

This is my friend Kristina. She made me an ice cream cake!

The crust was made of brownies. The frosting was whipped cream. The middle was made of candy (Reese’s PB cups, chocolate covered pretzels, malted milk balls). It was an epic cake. And pretty too. And loved by people big and small.

This is my friend David. He built a bar in his apartment. Where we started the night right. He makes a mean cocktail. Thanks for my cocktails, David!

This is Will with bunny ears. And these are some of his math friends. Who are now some of my best friends. Thank you Will and my math friends! And all my other friends too. It was a lovely party. And I love all of you.

And I made onion dip. Like Lipton Onion Dip. But better.

THE END.

NOT YOUR MAMA’S ONION DIP (from Alton Brown’s Onion Dip from Scratch)

This dip tastes best if you let it sit overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients

Recipe

Place a saute pan over medium heat. Add oil and get it hot, then add onions and salt. Cook onions stirring every 4 or 5 minutes (but not more often than that) until they caramelize (about 20 minutes). Take them off the heat and let them cool. Mix all remaining ingredients together in a bowl, then add the onions once they’re cool. Stick it in the fridge and give it a good stir right before you serve it.

Pea and Parmesan Dip

March 28, 2011


SPRING!

Nothing celebrates spring quite like a tasty and (naturally) electric green dip. I still like my artichoke and green olive tapenade the best, but this is a good back up. Bright, springy, and slightly garlicky. ELECTRIC GREEN WIN!

Another great dip: Artichoke and Green Olive Tapenade

PEA AND PARMESAN DIP (Mark Bittman’s Pea Dip with Parmesan)

Serves 8 as an appetizer

All I changed was the name. Because I cannot eat something called “pea dip.”

Ingredients

3 cups peas (fresh or frozen, don’t both defrosting them if they’re frozen)

About 1 cup stock or water, as needed

3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, roughly chopped

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

Recipe

1. Place peas in saucepan and add enough water or stock to come up to half of their heat. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until peas are bright green and tender. Put 2 cups of the peas in a food processor or blender. Add a little cooking liquid (a few tablespoons did the trick for me) and start pureeing. When the puree is mostly smooth (a little chunkiness if fine), place in a bowl and stir together with the remaining cup of whole peas.

2.Stir in  pine nuts, cheese, garlic, mint and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add some more cooking liquid. Refrigerate, but take out of the fridge about an hour before you serve to allow the dip to come to room temperature.

I bet you’re wondering what to make for the Superbowl this weekend. Meet my favorite guacamole. It’s got 5/5 stars on The Food Network website for a reason. It’s spicy, salty, and nearly impossible to stop eating. I even dipped vegetables into it when the tortilla chips ran out!

But I don’t need to worry about running out of tortilla chips anymore, because my friend, Angela, taught me how easy it is to make my own at home. You simply cut the tortilla into triangles, place them on a cookie sheet, spray them with butter flavored cooking spray, sprinkle on some salt, and bake. And tortillas freeze well, so you can make small batches of chips on demand. So if I want a handful tortilla chips with lunch, they’re only 15 minutes away.

Well, I hope you enjoy this recipe from The Food Network. Which, although I use it often, is at times the lamest website. For instance, they posted a recipe for Dark Chocolate As A Snack. There is actually a group of people who find these lame recipes and comment on them enough to make them “popular” on the Food Network Website. Please check out their most famous handiwork, at Late Night Bacon.

MY FAVORITE GUACAMOLE AND TORTILLA CHIPS (Guac from Alton Brown, Tortilla Chips from my friend Angela)

Guacamole Ingredients

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes (preferably Roma) seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Guacamole Recipe

Toss the avocado pulp and lime juice in a large bowl. Mush salt, cumin, and cayenne into the avocodo/lime mixture.. Gently fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Serve at room temperature.

Tortilla Chip Ingredients

Corn tortillas (fresh or defrosted enough to cut)

Butter flavored cooking spray

Salt

Tortilla Chip Recipe

Preheat oven to 400. Cut tortillas into pie-shaped wedges (I like 4-6 per tortilla). Spread tortilla triangles on a cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until chips are lightly browned at edges (the time varies widely depending on the brand, but it usually takes me 7-10 minutes if fresh, 12-17 minutes if frozen).

Spinach Almond Pesto

October 11, 2010

I was looking for an efficient way to use up a bunch of spinach and remembered hearing about using spinach in pesto instead of basil. I also remembered reading, not too long ago, that pine nuts go rancid quickly. I can’t remember when I bought my industrial-sized Costco bag of pine nuts. I opened my cabinet and was relieved to see all my little pine nuts, looking good. And then I saw the expiration date. November 10, 2009.

2009? I can promise you I have used these much more recently than November 10, 2009. I had a fleeting moment of, Well they certainly look fine. But Will and I watched the pilot episode of Hoarders not too long ago, where an elderly woman hoards, of all things, food. I won’t elaborate further since you should only be subjected to this story by free will, but I will say that if you ever want to get your butt in gear to do some spring cleaning, watch Hoarders. I can promise you, you will be throwing things out faster than you can say “OCD.” Into the trashcan went the pine nuts.

So I decided to try this pesto with almonds. I thought I’d seen pesto with almonds before, and I had some on hand.  A great way to use some pesto now and save some for later is to freeze part of the pesto in ice cube trays. Pop them into a plastic bag for storage. 1 or 2 of these pesto cubes gives you a single serving of pesto, on the spot. And yes, I do own heart shaped ice cube trays. It was an impulse buy. In hindsight, I should have got the penguins.

This pesto tastes, well, a lot like spinach. And not much else. I wonder if pine nuts would have given it a creamier or more complex taste. It’s definitely not bad, and I will use it as a quick dinner on pasta or over chicken or as a sandwich spread, but it’s just not very exciting. But the giant bag of bright green hearts in my freezer is a good conversation starter, at the very least.

More on spinach: Spinach, Strawberry, and Goat Cheese Salad, Spinach Pie, Spinach Quiche.

More on pesto: Unconstructed Garlic Scape Pesto

What I’m Reading:

SPINACH ALMOND PESTO (adapted liberally from Grilled Chicken with Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto by Giada de Laurentis)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Recipe

Combine the spinach, almonds, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Put half of the pesto into ice cube trays and store in the freezer for future use.

Transfer the rest of the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Roasted Garlic

September 30, 2010

There are a few items you can add to your food repertoire to elevate your cooking. Roasted garlic is one of them. All you need is an oven, melted butter, and garlic. I’ve put roasted garlic on pizza (killer), spread it on a toasted baguette (also killer), added it to couscous (you get the point)…. There are infinite things to do with it. And it makes your kitchen smell amazing. Roasting the garlic mellows out its harshness. I could eat it straight up on a cracker. Come to think of it, I do!

The place I live perpetually smells like delicious food. My floor smells like curry. The floor upstairs smells like fried chicken (at all times of day, even in the morning). And I am always perplexed by the fact that no matter what delicious thing I am making in my kitchen, the smell of curry or fried chicken is always stronger. Well for ONCE, when I last made my roasted garlic, the hallway smelled like MY kitchen. Am I territorial? I had no idea!

What I’m reading:

ROASTED GARLIC (from various sources)

To use roasted garlic, let cool (or stick in freezer for 5 minutes if you’re in a hurry to use it). Squeeze out the cloves like toothpaste. Spread them over anything (recipes using roasted garlic will be coming soon!) Enjoy.

Ingredients

Garlic bulb

1 tablespoon butter

Recipe

Preheat oven to 325. Cut top off garlic bulb to expose the majority of the cloves. Place bulb, exposed side up, on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Melt butter in a saucepan on the stovetop. Pour melted butter over exposed bulbs. Bake until garlic is browned and very soft, about 35-40 minutes.

Pumpkin-Ginger Butter

September 25, 2010

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love autumn. It is, by far, my favorite season. The apple crisp was my first Fall celebration, and this Pumpkin-Ginger Butter is my second. I misread the ingredient list, confusing fresh ginger with ground ginger. I looked up the substitution online and, as it turns out, there is no substitution. They are totally different. Well, harrumph. I first tried it without the ginger, but I wanted to add it anyway. I love the unapologetic spiciness of fresh ginger. So I tossed it in the pot and really liked the results. Although, next time, I’d add ground ginger as well to get a more even distribution of ginger flavor.

I like this butter very much, especially after it sits for a few days. But there is a slightly bitter aftertaste. Nothing to stop me from liking it or eating it, but I would like to take it away. Any thoughts? Do you think its the nature of the canned-pumpkin-beast?

Though this is canned, I (and the American Association of Canning, more importantly) recommend refrigerating or freezing it, as pumpkin is a food that must be pressure canned if it is to be stored at room temperature. Will and I always make fun of pressure canning. When you have a pressure canner you can make your own canned salmon or canned tuna which, in Will’s words, “Is a way of making something expensive into something cheap.” No pressure canners over here. I think I’ll just stick with freezing pumpkin for now.

The only other place ginger exists in my blog, even though I love it so muchSticky Chicken Wings

What I’m reading about Food:

PUMPKIN-GINGER BUTTER (adapted from Pumpkin Butter at allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup peeled and diced fresh ginger

Recipe

  1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spice, ginger, lemon juice, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Season with extra spice or sugar to taste. Stir frequently.
  2. Transfer to sterile containers (boil jars in boiling water for 10 minutes) and chill in the refrigerator or freeze in the freezer.