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Tamales – Black Bean & Sweet Potato and Red Pulled Pork … and a BBQ Pizza

I haven’t made tamales in some time but a craving, a trip to the local Mexican grocery store for various types of chiles, and the timely sale of boneless pork loin, meant that I decided to invest a hot weekend in the second half of August (and an efficient A/C system), on making a batch of red pulled pork. The vegetarian option came about due to a large sweet potato that had been languishing in my basement for a couple of weeks and most of a can of black beans in the freezer.

The basic masa recipe can be found here. The red pulled pork recipe is here.

  

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Filling

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamale Filling – makes about 5 cups, enough for 24-28 tamales

a splash to 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 large tomato, peeled and seeded and coarsely chopped or 1 cup diced, canned tomatoes with juice**
1/2 onion, finely diced or 1/2 tsp dried minced onion**
1 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed if canned
1 cup corn kernels, thawed and drained if frozen
1 large sweet potato, peeled, diced into ~1/2 inch cubes, drizzled with oil, salt and some chili powder and roasted until tender
salt, to taste

Optional
1/2-1 cup shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese (separately or in any combination desired)

** I added canned tomatoes and the dried minced onion as that’s what I had. I had made red pulled pork the day before with pureed chiles, onion and pepper and after straining the braising liquid, I added a couple of tablespoons to the filling below. Chile powder or cumin may be added if desired for a bit of smoky flavour.

In a medium sized saute pan, over medium heat, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil and the diced onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the diced tomato and cook for 10-15 minutes until the tomato has broken down but the mixture still has a bit of moisture in it. (If using the dried minced onion, just add a splash of oil, your diced tomato and cook until the onion is rehydrated.)

Add the black beans, corn and sweet potato. Stir through to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add a bit more salt if needed.

And if you have leftover pulled pork, give this quick pizza try.

BBQ Pizza with Red Pulled Pork (on Sourdough Tortillas) – BBQ sauce, shredded pork, grated cheddar, Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese and sliced green onion on a sourdough tortilla. Baked at 400 deg F for 8-10 minutes.

 

Pesto Goes East – Shiso Pesto

My surviving green shiso plant (the red leaf plant died seedless) flowered and I made the mistake of NOT saving any of the seeds for the spring but shook them all into one pot. Long story short, I ended up with four crowded pots of shiso plants. The plants are leggy with huge leaves that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. So I went net surfing and ran across a genius idea on “Summer Tomato” … treat the shiso leaves like you would those from basil or mint plants and make pesto.

Creamy Pesto Shrimp Alfredo over Home Made Fettuccine Pasta

Instead of Parmesan cheese, the blogger suggested miso for its salty umami flavour. I used red miso, cause I had run out of the white, and instead of pistachio nuts, I used equal parts of pine nuts and roasted, salted sunflower seeds.

Creamy Pesto Alfredo Shrimp over Fettuccine – serves 2

150 gm fresh fettuccine pasta

8-10 raw large shrimp, seasoned with salt, white pepper and garlic powder

Creamy Pesto Sauce

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oi
3 tbsp pesto (basil or shiso)
6 tbsp whipping cream
salt, to taste

Fresh pasta cooked for 2 1/2 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drained, rinsed with cold water.

In a large saute pan, heat up the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Cook the shrimp until pink on both sides and starting to curl up. Remove to a small bowl.

Add the whipping cream and pesto to the same saute pan that you cooked the shrimp in. Simmer for a couple of minutes, add drained pasta and stir through. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.

Serve immediately with shrimp on top.

Seeing if I can root some miso cuttings on a sunny kitchen window. (PS: I have long roots now … I should really plant them. But WHERE?)

Mexican Street Corn and another try at Mititei/Mici

I set aside a couple of the grilled corn on the cob from last week’s barbecue and finally got around to making the dish I had planned … Mexican Street Corn.

It’s a remarkably easy dish which can add flavour and moisture even to corn that’s no longer at its peak in terms of flavour and texture because it’s been sitting in your fridge for a day or three longer that it should have. Incidentally, the result tasted SO good, I wish I had more grilled corn available.

Mexican Street Corn – serves 2

2 grilled corn on the cob
1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp fresh herb or herb mixture (cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, mint**), julienned
1/2 – 1 tsp lime zest
several shakes each smoked or regular paprika and cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes
1-2 tbsp grated cheese (manchego, asiago, Parmesan, Romano**)
1 tbsp sliced green onion
paprika, to taste
lime wedges

** I used mint leaves and the Romano cheese

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, paprika, cayenne pepper, fresh herbs and lime zest, stir and refrigerate covered for at least one hour to allow the flavours to meld together.

Brush the mixture on all sides of the warm corn on the cob. A silicone pastry brush will help to load the thick mixture onto the corn and help spread it out.

Sprinkle on the cheese, green onion and more paprika to taste. Squeeze the lime wedge over your corn just before eating.

This is my second attempt at making these skinless Romanian sausages called “mititei” or “mici”. (The Serbian version is called “cevapcici” or “cevapi” and uses equal parts ground beef and pork.)

I used a package seasoning mix which contained: garlic powder, salt, onion powder, summer savory, MSG, ground black pepper, ground coriander, bicarbonate of soda, ground caraway seeds as well as a bunch of preservatives.

As suggested on the package, I added the contents to 1 kg of ground beef along with 50 mls of cold water, and hand mixed it for about 10 minutes, though 15 minutes might have been better, but I got bored. If you have a stand blender with a dough hook, it will save you both time and effort. I portioned the meat into 50 gm amounts and then shaped it into 3 inch sausages using wet hands.

Grilling on the barbecue would have been the best way to cook the sausages but I didn’t want to fire it up, so it preheated a cast iron frying pan to med-hot, seasoned with about a tbsp of vegetable oil. I browned the sausages on all sides and then finished the sausages in a 375 deg F oven for 15 minutes. I think 10 minutes would have been plenty as a lot of liquid came out and the resulting sausages were drier than I would have liked.

Served with salad as part of a meal or as a snack with mustard or tzatziki sauce on tortilla wraps, they were very tasty but I know the next trial, with my own seasoning mixture, will be even better.

Pie … Sweet or Savoury

I haven’t made a pie in ages but the various flyer sales for stone fruits (nectarines, peaches and plums) tempted me and so I scoped out what was available. I ended up going to Food Basic and picking up a clamshell of nectarines cause I had a bad experience with last year’s basket of peaches. They were firm but not as sweet as I would have liked and I had to guess-timate how much sugar to add. I erred on the side of caution. With a scoop of ice cream the result was perfect but it was a bit tart on its own.

The next question was … which of several pie crust recipes should I use. I went with the one on the Crisco vegetable shortening package, though I replaced half the shortening with unsalted butter. The recipe makes enough pastry for a single double crust pie, but I made two minis in disposable aluminum pie tins instead.

Crisco Pie Crust Recipe – makes 1 double crust pastry, ~580 gm pastry, enough for 2 8″ bases, and 2 6 1/2″ tops, plus leftover pastry

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable shortening (or 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening)**
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp ice cold water
1 tbsp vinegar

** What I used this time

 

Nectarine/Peach Mini Pie Filling Recipe – rough formula for filling

2 – 2 1/2 nectarines per mini pie shell
1 tbsp sugar per nectarine (if the fruit is fully sweet, reduce to 2 tbsp per each 3 nectarines)
1/2 tbsp cornstarch** per nectarine
pinch of salt

** If planning to freeze baked tart, use flour, otherwise, use cornstarch. For every 1 tbsp of cornstarch, you’ll need to use about 3 tbsp of flour. Also, cook whatever you’re thickening a few minutes longer to get rid of the raw flavor of the flour. Baking should take care of that issue. Plus, the filling will be more matte than glossy when using flour.

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Bake pies for 35-40 minutes on a baking sheet in case of overflow or melting of butter

The remaining pastry became a savoury tart with broccoli, Canadian (peameal) bacon and cheddar cheese. No waste at all. Though I still have five nectarines in the fridge to deal with.

NOTE: For a filling recipe, I used the same amounts and timing as in an earlier quiche recipe baked in the same ceramic pan. Pre-baking the crust is advised.

PICSPAM: Last BBQ of the Season

I love the taste of bbq’d foods but only bbq’ing a few things at a time seems wasteful to my frugal nature. So I make it worth my while with enough meat and veg for a week’s worth of meals.

I recently saw a post for Mexican market corn which made my mouth water, so I picked up a half dozen corn on the cob on sale to throw on the grill and make a batch. At 6 for $1.99, it wasn’t the best deal ever but I didn’t quibble. I didn’t quite have the energy to make them today, but there are two cobs set aside for it. The other three will probably end up in a corn chowder.

The full spread.

Here’s a picture of today’s Civic Holiday meal.

And some close-ups … sirloin steak and a sweet potato

Sweet corn on the cob and pork chops

Jumbo hot dogs

Chicken Thighs … Green Curry, Crispy Chicken Skin and Schmaltz

I came home with a tray of chicken thighs last week and got to work peeling off the skin, before I began to de-bone them. And then I took a good look at that pile of skin and fat. A quick visit to my desktop, and I came up with a couple of bonus items, from what would have been discarded.

Crispy Chicken Skin … is also known as “chicharron” in Latin America, Spain and parts of the US. And “gribenes” in Jewish cooking.

Crispy Chicken Skin/Chicharron/Gribenes

2-3 pounds of chicken thighs

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel the skin from the thighs. Trim the excess fat from the skin, rinse it, drain and place the fat on the baking sheet.

Rinse and pat dry the skin and stretch it out in one layer on the lined baking sheet. Roast, checking every 5 minutes. Drain as rendered fat accumulates.

It should take 20-25 minutes to get the skin crispy enough, but you may want to continue for another 5 minutes, if you want a darker colour. Be careful not to burn the skin.

Drain the skin on paper towels.

Break into shards and serve with guacamole in place of tortilla chips.

Next time, I may chop up the chicken skins and put them in a frying pan over medium heat. After draining off the fat (or schmaltz) as it renders down, I’ll add sliced onions and continue cooking until everything becomes crispy and delicious. They make a great topping to noodle dishes or an ingredient in potato latkes according to readings and advice from a Jewish fellow blogger.

Here’s a shot of the entire results from seven chicken thighs.

Speaking of Schmaltz … I ended up with about 1/2 a cup of the golden liquid fat which I will use later.

ETA (08/04/2017): Chicken soup with grizgaluska (Hungarian cream of wheat dumplings) made with the schmaltz.

Hungarian Cream of Wheat Dumplings (Grizgaluska) – makes ~20 tbsp sized dumplings, 10 servings at 2 dumplings per person

2 eggs
1 cup Cream of Wheat
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp butter**, slightly melted

** vegetable oil or melted chicken fat (schmaltz) may also be used

Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then stir in the cream of wheat, salt, baking powder and butter. Let rest for 10-15 minutes so the cream of wheat can fully absorb the liquid.

Bring a big pot of water to the boil. Season well with salt. You may want to turn the heat down a bit so the water is not boiling furiously as you may break up the dumplings, especially if they’re on the soft side.

Dip a soup spoon into the hot water and then scoop out a scant tablespoon or so of the stiff batter and drop it into simmering water. Repeat wetting the spoon as needed to help the batter release cleanly. You want to form a relatively triangular ‘quenelle’ as you scoop.

Your dumplings will sink to the bottom as they’re dropped in, so you may want to gently free them in case they stick and don’t float to the top.

Once your dumplings are floating, continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Cut one open to make sure that they’ve cooked through to the center. You’ll be able to tell as they will be yellower and more dense in texture if they’re still a bit raw. Return to the pot and continue cooking for a few more minutes, or as necessary.

If you will be adding the dumplings to your pot of chicken soup, you may prefer them a bit ‘al dente’. Otherwise, you can transfer them to a bowl with some of your hot chicken stock and keep them warm until ready to serve.

Depending on the size, 2 or 3 will be plenty per serving.

And the main objective of the exercise … Green Curry Yogurt Chicken.

It may not be too pretty (my broccoli rabe wilted down a bit too much during cooking) but it was delicious with basmati rice. Jasmine rice is great as well.

All that for $5.

Kolbaszos Rakott Krumpli or Hungarian Scalloped Potatoes (Repost)

I know I’m doing a lot of Hungarian recipes lately but it turns out my Yugoslav-Romanian mom cooked several dishes which have both Romanian and Hungarian versions. This Polish sausage, hard boiled egg and potato casserole dish is a re-post of one from the early days of my LiveJournal, because it’s unlikely that new visitors (to my blog, to be honest) are going to scroll back through the LJ posts and run across it.

Here’s a screen cap of one of the assembly pictures from that post cause the original pictures are ‘somewhere’ on one of my many archive cd/dvd disks. The raw potatoes sliced much more neatly than the cooked ones I used below.

So, here’s a slightly modified version of “Kolbaszos Rakott Krumpli” or Hungarian Scalloped Potatoes

And a quick and dirty Hungarian language lesson:

Kolbaszos – sausage ie kielbasa or kolbasz
Rakott – pleated or layered
Krumpli – potatoes

Not the prettiest of dishes but you’ll honestly want to finish the entire casserole by yourself. It’s the ultimate comfort dish for an Eastern European. Maybe it will become yours too.

Kolbaszos Rakott Krumpli or Hungarian Scalloped Potatoes – serves 4

4-6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced across
1/2-1 lb kielbasa (or Polish) sausage, skin removed and sliced thinly
4-6 medium potatoes, boiled in the skin until tender, then peeled, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
~1/2 cup sour cream and ~1/2 cup milk **
salt (1 tsp) and pepper (1/2 tsp), to taste

** You can reduce the milk quite a bit if you don’t want to POUR the sour cream, salt and pepper mixture over the casserole but prefer to spoon it over each potato layer for seasoning. Since, my mom used raw sliced potatoes which were cooked in the milk, she had to use enough milk to almost cover the potatoes.

Lightly oil a large casserole dish as the milk really sticks.

Stir together the milk and sour cream until you get a smooth mixture. Add the salt and pepper and mix in as well.

Place an even layer of the potato slices on the bottom of the casserole dish, then add a layer of the sausage and then hard boiled egg slices. Repeat ending with the last of the potato slices. Pour the seasoned milk and sour cream mixture over the potatoes.

Bake tightly covered at 350 deg F for 1 hr. Remove the lid and continue baking until the potatoes on top are golden brown. (I know I should have baked it for another 15 minutes for a better picture … but I just couldn’t wait to dig in.)

Serve with a green salad.

NOTES: Some Hungarians saute one large sliced red onion in oil or butter, cool and mix it in with the sour cream before adding both to the casserole.

You may sprinkle bread crumbs over the bottom of the casserole dish before adding the first layer of potatoes. Hungarian paprika mixed with a bit of sour cream may be spooned over the top before baking. Or another sprinkling of bread crumbs if you like a crunchy top.

Polish sausage can be replaced with any smoked cooked sausage. If I was using a fresh sausage though, I’d put them on top of the casserole so they could cook and render the fat down into the potatoes. If you can get hold of dried Hungarian sausages, spicy or mild, slice and use those instead.

Hamburgers and Salad

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

If you remember from my last post, I only had one pound of lean ground beef in the freezer. Why, you may ask?

Because those hamburger buns were SO amazing that I quick thawed that other pound of ground beef and made three HUGE burgers to stuff them with. I had a pork chop sandwich on ONE of the buns. But that only whetted my appetite.

For THIS

Each patty was about 1/3 of a pound (175 gm to be precise) before I cooked it and placed it on a buttered and grilled bun.

Best Burgers – 3 x 175 gm burger patty

1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Lightly fork together and form into 3 x 5 inch diameter patties. Dimple the center 1 inch to reduce shrinking.

And, I DID make a salad. Cause I try to eat healthy every once in a while and letting your pricey Romaine go bad in your crisper isn’t a good thing.

Isn’t it pretty? So, green and fresh looking. And healthy.

And then I added some diced cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds … and ‘light’ Caesar salad dressing. Diced hard boiled eggs and raisins are other add-ins I enjoy.

Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos/ Meat Lover’s Lasagna

I had a pound of lean ground beef in my freezer and, with a bountiful pantry, was torn between various possibilities. The front runners were beef burritos and a meat lasagna as I already had all the ingredients for either one. Including a batch of fresh pasta sitting in the fridge ready to be rolled out.

I decided to make small batches of both starting with a common base.

Ground Beef Base for the Two Dishes

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 small cloves garlic, finely minced
1 lb/454 gm lean ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano

In a large saute pan, fry the onions in the vegetable oil over medium heat until they become translucent and start picking up some colour on the edges. Add the garlic and continue frying for another minute or so, until the garlic is translucent as well.

Crumble the beef into the pan and fry until no longer pink, breaking up the meat into crumbles. Sprinkle the salt and dried oregano over the top of the meat, stir through and continue cooking for another few minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, drain off the excess fat and transfer half the mixture to another container. Reserve for the meat lasagna.

Unfortunately, my home made flour tortillas weren’t large enough to fold into burritos, especially with anything else inside other than a generous tablespoon of Beef, Bean and Cheese Burrito filling, so I settled for burrito ‘wraps’.

Beef, Bean and Cheese Burritos – enough filling for 8 burritos, 4 servings at 2 burritos per servings

1/2 of the Ground Beef Base from above
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp Spanish paprika
1/4 cup salsa (mild, medium or hot) **
1/2 lb/ 227 gm canned re-fried beans
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional toppings or fillings
sour cream
guacamole
shredded lettuce
additional salsa
Mexican rice

8 home made sourdough flour tortillas or purchased regular 8 inch tortillas

** I had a package of taco seasoning (from a Taco Bell taco making kit) left in the freezer from the last time I made tacos so I used that instead.

To the ground beef base left in the saute pan, add the herbs and spices (cumin, chili powder, both paprikas) and stir through, cooking for a few minutes. Add the salsa and re-fried beans, mixing well, and continue cooking until the burrito mixture is warmed through. Take the pan off the heat and stir the shredded cheddar cheese through the mixture.

A picture of the ground beef base reserved for the lasagna and the finished beef, bean and cheese burrito filling.


Fill warmed tortillas with a couple of tablespoons of the burrito filling and then the other toppings or fillings.

Serve with salad.

Meat Lover’s Lasagna – enough for 3 to 4 servings

Meat Lover’s Lasagna – makes one 2.2 lb/1 kg lasagna, fills one 8 x 3 7/8 x 2 15/32 inch disposable aluminum baking pan

Meat Filling
1/2 of the Ground Beef Base from above
1/4 lb (2) hot Italian sausages, removed from casings
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup jarred tomato sauce

For Assembly
8 sheets commercial or home made pasta sheets, cooked until al dente
1/2 cup jarred tomato sauce, reserve 1/4 cup for topping
bechamel sauce (1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp flour, 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large saute pan over medium heat, crumble the sausage meat, frying the meat until it is no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat. Add the reserved half of the ground beef base and the dried basil. Cook for several minutes. Stir in the first 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350 deg F.

Reserve half of the 2nd 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.

In the bottom of your baking pan, spread 1-2 tbsp of remaining tomato sauce. Lay a sheet of cooked pasta over the sauce and then spread one quarter (1/4) of the meat mixture over the pasta. Spread another 1-2 tbsp of tomato sauce over the meat. Add another pasta sheet and one third (1/3) of the bechamel on top of that. Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of the grated parmesan over the bechamel and then top with another sheet of pasta. Repeat with the meat sauce/tomato sauce, pasta, bechamel/parmesan, pasta layers until you finish with your last sheet of pasta. You’ll have used up all eight of your pasta sheets.

Tuck any excess portions of your pasta sheet down into the pan so that it doesn’t poke up. Spread your reserved 1/4 cup of tomato sauce over the pasta and sprinkle a generous handful of the grated mozzarella cheese over the tomato sauce.

Place your baking pan onto a large baking sheet, in case of over flow during cooking, and bake for 40-45 minutes in your pre-heated oven. If you like a browned top, you can turn on the broiler and brown the cheese … a BIT. Be careful. You don’t want a black cheese topping, especially after all the time you’ve invested in assembling this delicious dish.

Serve with salad.

Another Something Old, Something New Post

Most of our moms had ‘good’ towels or ‘guest’ towels that you weren’t allowed to use. At my house, they were packed, two rows deep in the bathroom closet, and so tightly that you couldn’t pull any out without causing a towel-slide. After my mom passed away, it still took me several years before I started using the good bath towels. I wasn’t able to make myself throw away any of the old beat up towels I had, except maybe for the worst of the bunch. They would end up in the laundry and then I’d use them ONE more time. Repeatedly.

I finally decided to toss my oldest dish towels and start using the new ones I had bought, this weekend. I went with a red, white and blue theme. And some black. Cause black goes with everything.

Do you prefer fluffy or linen-type dish towels?

And for the old, some pictures I took a couple of weeks ago. I had thawed some sliced pork butt to make Chinese barbecued pork (char siu) and then realized that I hadn’t replaced my bottle of hoisin sauce, which I needed for the recipe. So, I rummaged through the jars in the fridge and found some satay sauce.

Pork Satay