Thursday, August 30, 2012

Late Summer Fried Rice

I love Cooking Light. I subscribe to 4 magazines and read even more at work, but that's the one I've read the longest. I often get recipe ideas from there and expand on them (like I did here, which was inspired by the faux-fried rice), and sometimes I follow the recipes to the T (like with these black bean cakes - divine!). Either way, I love how the saltiness and umami flavors of the Asian sauces contrast nicely with the sweet corn and bell peppers. A great end-of-summer dish!

Late Summer Fried Rice

2 cups brown basmati rice
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ears corn, kernels removed
1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded and chopped
3 green onions, whites and green parts chopped and divided
1 egg
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
6 large basil leaves, chopped

Cook rice according to package instructions, then place in fridge to chill. Heat oil in a large wok skillet (I used a cast iron) then add corn kernels, bell pepper and green onion one pieces and saute until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add rice and saute another 2 minutes. Create a well in the middle and pour in the egg. Let it cook about a minute and a half, then stir it into the rice. Add the 3 sauces and stir to combine, then let warm 1-2 minutes. Serve garnished with the green parts of the green onions and basil.

Apologies, no photo on this one!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hatching new ideas & recipes

Hatch chile season is here! Ever since the blogger potluck 3 years ago, when this time rolls around I get giddy with excitement. I'm a mild hatch chile gal myself, and I love the slow, surprising heat they provide to dishes. This year, I created several tasty hatch dishes. Unfortunately I did a terrible job capturing them on camera (as in, I didn't), but please forgive me and try these anyway!

How to roast hatch chiles 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chiles on a baking sheet and roast in oven 15-20 minutes. Using tongs, flip chiles over and roast another 15-20 minutes. Remove and place in a paper bag. Seal and let them steam in the bag at least 20 minutes. Carefully peel off the charred skin and they're ready to use!

Hatch Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup low-fat milk
5 mild hatch chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. Place in a large pot with cold, salted water covering it by 1-inch. Bring to a boil and cook until you can easily pierce it with a fork - about 30 minutes. Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile,pour milk in a small sauce pan and include 3 hatch chiles. Warm to infuse the chile flavor, then add to a blender. Let it cool for a minute the pulse a few times.

Mash the potatoes with a masher, then slowly add milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chop remaining 2 hatch chiles and stir into potatoes. Enjoy!

Hatch Chile Hummus

3 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 can chickpeas
1 large clove garlic
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Add chiles, chickpeas, garlic, lemon zest and juice, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to food processor and pulse. Keep on and stream in olive oil through the feed until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add additional cayenne pepper for heat as desired.

Hatch Chile Ice Cream
Very slightly adapted from this recipe from Melissa's

8 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded, divided
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean (half lengthwise, remove seeds with a butter knife and reserve seeds and pod)
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, warm 4 hatch chiles, milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla seeds and pod. Stir constantly until hot, almost scalding.

In a standing mixer or small bowl with egg beaters, whip egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until thick - about 30 seconds on high. Add half of the hot milk mixture to eggs and stir, then add that mixture to the remaining milk mixture in the sauce pan and heat until thickened. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla. Stir in remaining hatch chiles then refrigerate 2 hours or overnight (until chilled). Freeze according to ice cream machine manufacturer's instructions (my Cuisinart took about 25 minutes). This is surprisingly hot - enjoy!

Pork and Hatch Chile Stew
Inspired by Pork and Green Chile Stew in Food & Wine

3 pounds pork butt, fat trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 serrano chiles, seeded and diced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups vegetable stock (I made this for a friend who's allergic to chicken, but obviously you can use chicken stock here)
6 roasted hatch chiles, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Warm corn tortillas and basmati rice, for serving

After trimming the pork, cut into 1-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven, heat the oil. Working in 2 batches, brown the pork in the touch oven, about 4-5 minutes per batch. Add all pork into the dutch oven once browned and stir in onion, serrano chiles and garlic and saute until veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and hatch chiles and bring to a boil, then simmer 25-30 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Serve with cilantro, tortillas and rice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grilled Sausage & Black Rice Salad

Nothing about this meal is typical for me, and I think that's why I love it:

  • I rarely cook sausage, unless it's for a big BBQ
  • I rarely do a salad that doesn't involve greens
  • I rarely make a salad that doesn't have goat cheese
  • I rarely make meals that have 5 ingredients or less (not counting S&P and olive oil of course)
 Sometimes, necessity forces us to break out of our comfort zone, and in this case, I'm so glad it did! After a long weekend driving to Tyler and back to celebrate a friend's wedding, I was not at my best when we arrived home Sunday afternoon and had no intention of going to the grocery store or spending hours in the kitchen. Luckily, a well-stocked pantry, an over-zealousness for cherry tomatoes the week before and 2 frozen sausages saved the day. (Well,  that and a wonderful husband who agreed to grill in the 100 degree weather).  I used some turkey sausages made in house at Whole Foods Market with fresh cherries, and they were SO sweet and flavorful. Use whatever sausage you have, but if you can get your hands on this one - DO IT!

Grilled Sausage and Black Rice Salad

1 cup black rice (or other whole grain)
1 yellow bell pepper (any color pepper works though)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cherry turkey sausages

If you have a charcoal grill like us, get your coals going in the chimney starter. Meanwhile, cook the rice to package instructions and set aside. At this point, I like to place a grate over the chimney and actually flame cook the bell pepper while the coals heat up. Of course, you can always grill it the old fashioned way too :) Either way, after charred on all sides, place in a paper bag for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, peel and slice the bell pepper.

Create a foil packet with a few layers of foil and place cherry tomatoes inside. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for about 10 minutes, until cherries begin to burst. Grill sausages 10 minutes as well, or until cooked through.

In a large bowl, combine rice, bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes with oil and juices and sliced sausage. Enjoy!
Here served with grilled chicken and okra

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Heirloom Bruschetta

I hesitated in doing back-to-back tomato posts, but then I realized I must not be the ONLY heirloom-obsessed person out there. Can I get an amen?! I know many people who complain about not knowing what to do with ingredients after they used part for a recipe, so I thought this would be a great way to show how I used some leftovers to create another tasty dish. This time, an app! Nothing crazy about this bruschetta, just big, bright flavors. Bon appetit!

Heirloom Bruschetta

2 heirloom tomatoes (or 1 heirloom, 1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes in my case - I wanted more color!)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced red onion
Crushed black pepper
6 basil leaves, freshly chopped
2 ounces mozzarella, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
Sea salt to taste
3 large pieces of bread, cut in half, or 6 small slices of ciabatta

Chop tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add to a bowl with minced garlic and onion and stir to combine. Season with black pepper. Stir in basil, mozzarella and balsamic vinegar and let marinate 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a cast iron or grill pan to high heat. If using cast iron, melt butter, then sear bread until charred on both sides. If using grill pan, melt the butter and brush generously on both sides of bread, then grill until charred.

Immediately top the bread with tomato/mozzarella mixture and season with a bit of sea salt. Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Italian Chicken Salad

Heirloom tomatoes are in stores! I can't stop buying them, and while I enjoy them prepared very simply, I also like to mix things up a bit. Since huge logs of mozzarella were on sale this week, I decided a heaping Italian salad was in order. If you don't have a bountiful basil plant like me or are just feeling lazy, feel free to just buy pesto (same with the roasted red pepper).

Italian Chicken Salad

1 heirloom tomato
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup farro
1 red bell pepper
Olive oil
2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
15 pitted olives, halved
1 1/2 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed (I love Crave Brothers mozzarella. The 16oz log was on sale at WFM this week - score!)
8 ounces spinach
Pesto (recipe below)

Spinach Basil Pesto

4 ounces spinach
16 basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Slice tomato into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Place in a shallow dish and top with balsamic vinegar. Let marinate at least 20 minutes, flipping over every 5 minutes or so.

Prepare farro by bringing it to a boil in a medium saucepan with at least 4 cups water, then let lightly boil about 15 minutes and strain. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet on high heat. Place the red bell pepper and cook, rotating every 2 minutes, until deep char marks appear. Place in a paper bag and let sit for 10 minutes. Peel off skin then slice into bite-sized pieces.

Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in cast iron skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then cook in the cast iron until cooked through - about 5-6 minutes per side for 1 inch thick chicken breast. Set aside to slightly cool a few minutes, then slice.

To make the pesto, add spinach, basil, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, pine nuts and salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse a few times. Then leave on and stream in olive oil through the mouth until it has a dressing consistency - this calls for about 1/4 cup olive oil.

Slice olives and mozzarella cheese and place in a large bowl with spinach. Add in sliced chicken and bell pepper, then drizzle with pesto.Toss to combine. To plate, place several tomato slices on the bottom then top with salad and serve with extra pesto on the side for drizzling. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

So delicious - San Francisco!

Two back-to-back travel posts tells you two things - 1) I've been a busy girl and 2) I haven't been able to dream up exciting new recipes. BUT, that also means I'm getting inspired left and right from the delicious new things I've tried, so I can't wait to get cooking and sharing this month.

If you remember my trip to Seattle a few years ago, you'll know that when Luke and I travel, it's all about the food. San Francisco was certainly no exception! This trip was hastily planned (about 1 week in advance!) so we were at the mercy of our friends in SF (or those who used to live there) to give us some great recommendations to get us started. They delivered! Below are a few of the highlights:

Pardon the Instagram pic!
I was in SF 2 days before Luke, so I didn't want to wait to start the eating adventures. I visited Slanted Door after a loooong work day and sat myself at the bar for a treat. The bartender was SUPER helpful, and after explaining that I wanted to try a few things, he mentioned they could do half portions of most of the menu - score! I ordered up half of an Imperial Roll, which featured pulled pork and shrimp, served in a lettuce cup. So many delicious flavors and textures, I'd highly recommend it! Note that it's extremely messy to eat, so consider yourself warned :)

After a failed attempt to go to the recommended Mama's (the line was SUPER long, especially for a Thursday morning!), we walked across the street to Cafe Divine. What a lovely little cafe in the Italian neighborhood of SF (another surprise, I didn't know they had such a thriving Italian community). I ordered the chai latte and waffles. But not just any waffles - they had bacon, cheddar and chives on top. The waffle wasn't belgian style, which was nice for a change, and they had a lovely crunch. Very filling, but very delicious.

Several people recommended this spot, so Luke and I went preparing ourselves for a long wait followed by delicious food. Wait we did, but it was worth it. The hostess was lovely and kept the wine coming while we waited, and then we sat at the bar and enjoyed the company of those left and right of us along with a phenomenal bartender. The pizza looked amazing, but we couldn't resist ordering the 7 course tasting menu. All of their pastas are made in-house, and we weren't disappointed. 

Great view of the kitchen at the bar

It wouldn't be a trip to the coast without some sushi! We visited the Osaka in the Castro neighborhood, which had such a fun vibe. I was surprised by the over-the-top rolls, but quickly got over that and chowed down :) If you like simple sushi, this isnt' for you. If you like a mix of textures and tastes, definitely go here!

Napa wineries
Visiting Napa was the top of my list, but I wanted to do it as easily and affordably as possible, while also trying as many wines as I could - a tall order! After weighing our options, we went the uber-tourist route and did a shuttle tour with Wine Country Tour Shuttle. Our favorite winery of the day was V. Sattui, which had a huge menu to taste from along with a lovely deli and cheese counter so you could assemble your own picnic to enjoy on their grounds. Luke was also a big fan of the Andretti winery - and not just because it's owned by a famous ex race car driver!

Cheese counter at V. Sattui

Enjoying the vineyard at Andretti

Located in the heart of the Haight area, this was a fun spot to visit. Not only are their beers spot-on (the Sarah's Ruby Mild was flavorful but not too heavy) but their pub-fare was responsibly sourced and delicious. Highlights included the Devil-on-horseback (bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with cheese) and the chorizo sausage over baked beans and a fried egg.

Come here for the breakfast pizza! The crust is perfectly cooked, and it's topped with gruyere, ham and 2 eggs. We also added on truffle oil for a special something (I think it needed it). Things to skip - the breakfast cocktails. $9 for a mimosa is too steep for this Austin gal!

Be sure to add the truffle oil!
Loved all the colors at the market
Like any good Austin foodie (or any foodie for that matter), I love visiting local markets to see what produce thrives in that area and meet the growers. This is bar far the BIGGEST and COOLEST market I've ever been to. So many vendors crammed in side-by-side, all with the freshest produce possible. And since it's California, the variety is insane. I was on sensory overload and got lots of great tastes, and I hope to come back here some day with a kitchen nearby so I can really shop my heart out :)

Luke enjoying our peach from the farmers market after a bike ride up to the Golden Gate bridge

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Whisked away to cherry land

I don't often blog about my job, but this is too fun to pass up. This was the third year Whole Foods Market is celebrating Cherry Fest in stores, so we decided to take 3 fantastic bloggers up to visit the Rainier Fruit Company's cherry fields in Yakima, Washington.

The trip was a total blast (read my recap on the Whole Foods Market blog here). The bloggers were great (shout out to Gaby, Anjali and Meghann!), Rainier was so accommodating, and a few of my produce-savvy WFM colleagues made the trip the perfect combination of learning, delicious tasting and fun. 
Whole Foods Market field inspectors use sizers like the one pictured above to see how the cherries are measuring up

One of the coolest parts? Riding in a helicopter! Their farms are all over the state of Washington, so Rainier has a couple helicopters they use to get around. I was surprised at how smooth the ride was. 

Also, it was neat to watch their preferred method of protecting the fields from birds- falcons! They have a few falconers on staff who go to the fields each day and use falcons to scare the birds off. It was amazing to watch Jacob fly! (Yes, Jacob was named after Twilight). 

We ate an insane amount of cherries, both right off the trees and in a side-by-side taste test (my favorite varieties are rainier and sweethearts, in case you were interested).
Walking way, I have a new appreciation for cherries. I was hoping to whip up some amazing recipe to share, however I never could get past eating the cherries fresh, except to add them to a bowl of yogurt and granola for breakfast. Trust me, I'm having major blogger guilt. But, I have to say as someone who is driven so strongly by what I see in the markets and featured in my favorite magazines, it was such a pleasure to get to see one of my favorite fruits at the source. Hoping this happens again very soon!