2020 A Home-Cooks Moment

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Sandwich
Comté Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam and Black Winter Truffles on Homemade Sourdough Bread

Happy New Year! I feel refreshed and hopeful with every new year.  This year in particular because we seem to be rounding a corner with the vaccination roll out.  Our hearts have been especially heavy because my husband is an Emergency Room Physician and I am a Registered Nurse.  In the back of our minds we always knew a pandemic was possible but never truly believed it would happen.  In the beginning, we were glued to the news trying to understand what was happening like everyone else. We did our best to inform our family and friends of the severity of this virus.  We tried to be good examples on how to navigate our new way of living.  We questioned ourselves many times on how to best limit our social lives.  My son, a high school senior had dreams that this would be his year as a wrestler.  We witnessed his dreams crumble right before our eyes.  The frustration to keep them motivated to do well in school when everything felt so hopeless.  Polarizing politics, civil unrest, fires, earthquakes need I say more?  Our mental fortitude waxed and waned.  I know we have a long road ahead but I’m hopeful that we are heading in the right direction.  We know more about this virus than one year ago.  We are better at treating patients who get infected.  We now have a vaccine.

For those of us that cook and use it as a creative outlet.  This was our moment.  All of a sudden time was no longer an obstacle.  My weekends were free with nowhere to go.  Time alone in the kitchen always was my sanctuary.  I, like many others became a sourdough addict.  I was always the self-proclaimed non-baker.  I hated to measure and weigh.  I’m drawn to the fire and flame and improvisation of cooking.  I love the sound of my knife as I chop and the sound of sizzling when food hits the pan.  The pandemic actually gave me pause and opened up a side of me that I didn’t think existed.  Strangely, I wanted to slow down and learn to weigh in grams.  I didn’t mind waiting two days for one loaf of bread.  I mean this is insane but it has been the most rewarding thing I’ve learned in the kitchen in a very long time.  I feel more complete and well rounded.  A confident  home cook.  In hindsight, I am grateful that cooking was there for me.  Cooking kept my mind curious and excited.  With all the frustrations that 2020 ushered in, cooking became my center.  It kept the home stable and loved.  It reminded me that when the world seemed to be falling apart we should take hold of what we can control.  It helped me realize that I am the only person responsible for my happiness.  My faith and family held together and we are indeed closer.  I knew that when the year came to a close I wanted to end it well.  On New Years Eve I made myself a luxurious sandwich.  Black Winter Truffles with Comté cheese and fig jam with homemade sourdough bread.

This isn’t a recipe in the official sense.  It’s more of an idea with tips.  The ingredients are interchangeable and can be fluctuated as you see fit and desire.  Here is a list of the ingredients I used.

Sourdough Bread, KerryGold Salted Butter, Comté Cheese, Fig Jam and Black Winter Truffles

Tips

Mise en place-French for setting up.  Have everything ready to go.  Butter at room temp, grate cheese, shave proper amount of truffles

Butter both sides of bread

If bread has open crumb use larger slices so cheese doesn’t fall out

Cover skillet to help with melting

 

Cheese pull

Cheers to a better year from an RN and Home-Cook.

I’m strong to the finish cause I eats me spinach

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Appetizer / italian

Mom’s Famous Sausage Spinach Loaf

Who didn’t love “Popeye the Sailor Man” as a kid? I always think of Popeye when I eat spinach. Although I really didn’t like spinach as a child, I wanted the super strength you would get by eating it. This sausage spinach loaf may not make you strong like Popeye, but it will allow you to food flex. It will be all you are ever asked to bring to a party again. My Mom makes this and it’s always the first thing on the table to finish. I’ve learned to make it and now I am sharing this beloved recipe with you.

Time 1 hour

Servings 2 Loaves

Ingredients

3 lbs of bulk Italian sausage, 2 loaf (1 lb each) frozen ready bread dough thawed, 1 1/2 cups of chopped frozen spinach thawed and drained, 2 cups of grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 large onion chopped, 3 cloves of garlic chopped, 2 tsp dried basil leaves, 1 TBS crushed red pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 cup chicken stock, 2 tsp fennel powder and egg wash.

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large skillet on medium-high heat add sausage. When sausage starts to brown add onion. Once onions start to soften add garlic and mix for a couple minutes. Then add spinach and incorporate. At this point you can add dried basil, crushed pepper and garlic powder. Once mixed add chicken stock to get all the brown bits from the skillet removed from the bottom of the pan. Reduce liquid until almost completely evaporated and turn off heat. Finish with sprinkling the fennel pollen. Turn off heat and let cool.

Roll out bread dough on a well floured surface. Check frequently for sticking and add more flour as needed. This dough can be hard to roll out. Be patient and keep rolling out until it submits. Roll out to approximately a 13 x 10 inch rectangle. Add grated 1 cup parmesan cheese for each loaf.

Once sausage mixture is cooled add sausage 1/2 the amount in skillet to rolled out dough. This should make 2 loaves.

Roll jelly-roll style starting with the long side. Pinch and tuck ends and corners.

Place loaf on top of parchment paper on cookie sheet. Mix 1 egg and 1 TBS of water in separate bowl and mix. Brush egg wash over loaf. Place in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooled slice and serve.

Enjoy!

Backyard Corn with Street Cred

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Mexican

Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

Corn in America is a backyard summer staple. In the City of Angeles, the street vendors sell Street Corn like New York City sells hot dogs. It is often boiled and on a stick for easy on the go eating. Frequently, the corn is slathered in mayo and rolled in cotija cheese with various spices. Growing up we didn’t eat corn this way. We always grilled our corn and slather it with butter and Pico Pica. Pico pica a bottled hot sauce every self respecting Mexican will have in their refrigerator. I do love street corn, so in this recipe I mix the two ideas. I use a Pico-Pica butter in place of mayo, and roll it in a herb spiced cotija cheese. This Labor Day, make Street Corn as one of your side dishes. You won’t regret it!

Time 1 hour

Servings 4

Ingredients

4 Whole Corn with husks, 1 stick of salted butter melted, 3 TBS Pico Pica hot sauce, 4 oz of Grated Cotija Cheese, 3 TBS of chopped cilantro, 1 TBS of chopped green onion, 1 TBS of paprika, and lime wedges.

Preparation

One hour before grilling corn I soak the unhusked corn in water. I enjoy eating the corn with the husks pulled back. This will help prevent the husks from burning while on the grill. Then I pull the husks back and place a rubber band around the loose husks to keep everything neat.

Hipster bun corn husk

I place all the corn side by side and grill until I have beautiful grill marks.

Charred Corn

While corn is grilling, mix melted butter and Pico Pica.

Pico Pica Butter

Then mix cotija cheese, cilantro, green onion and paprika in a casserole dish.

Butter the corn then roll corn in cotija mixture.

Alternatively, you can use avocado as your fat base then roll in cotija mixture.

Avocado is a delicious fat alternative to butter or mayonaise

Once corn is coated in cheese place on platter along side lime wedges and enjoy.

Cheers to a great Labor Day Weekend

A Golden Opportunity

comments 5
Appetizer
Golden Beets with whipped feta, basil-pistachio oil, pomegranate molasses and mint

Let’s not “beet” around the bush. Beets are very earthy and challenging for most people to enjoy. I have found if the beet is golden and roasted, it’s delicious. This pandemic has really made me consider my nutrition and immunity. I am taking this time to work on self-care and re-think what I put into my body. I know that adding more colorful vegetables into my diet will benefit my health. At some point my immunity maybe challenged with the Corona Virus and I want to give myself the best fighting chance. This is a golden opportunity to create recipes that are delicious and good for you.

Time 90 minutes

Servings 2-6

Ingredients

9 golden beets (1 lb 11oz), 1/2 cup of feta, 1/3 cup cream cheese, 12 basil leaves, 7 mint leaves chiffonade, 1 TBS raw meat pistachios, zest of 1 lemon, 1 TBS olive oil, pinch of salt, pomegranate molasses and sourdough bread.

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Chop Beet greens off leaving the tips on. Place in an oven safe pot with a lid. Fill water level up half way and do not submerge the beets. Drizzle some olive in and cover and let cook for 30 minutes.

They will steam/roast with the lid on

After 30 minutes, rotate the beets so the part that was in water is now facing upward for even cooking. Place back in oven for another 30 minutes.

While the beets are steam-roasting start to grill up some of your favorite bread. In this case I used my homemade sourdough bread. Brush some olive oil and grill.

To make the basil-pistachio oil you will need a mortar and pestle. Add basil, pistachios, lemon zest and oil then a pinch of salt. Mortar and pestle until desired consistency. Be sure to taste and set aside.

To make whipped feta add feta and cream cheese to a separate bowl. Smash feta into cream cheese until somewhat smooth. The feta is tangy and the cream cheese is smooth and set aside. They work well together with fruit and vegetables.

Once the beets have cooked for one hour remove from pot and place on cutting board to cool. While they are still warm peel the skin off and quarter the beets into bite size pieces. If the skin is hard to remove use the back of the spoon to aid in the peeling.

Now it’s time to assemble. Place beets on platter and dress up with whipped feta, basil-pistachio oil, chiffonade of mint and pomegranate molasses.

Enjoy as appetizer or meal

Pandemic Happy Hour

comments 7
Mexican / Uncategorized

Hibiscus Margarita with URFA Pepper

We are living in unprecedented times. Our lives are flipped upside down. The reality of what life looks like for the rest of this year is starting to set in. Today, I wanted to feel like I was in my favorite restaurant during happy hour enjoying time with family/friends. I made myself this drink and thought about all the great memories I have with you. I wrote this recipe with hopes it inspires you to do what brings you good memories. My thoughts are with you. We are going to get through this. Cheers!

Time-30 minutes

Servings-2-3 Margaritas

Ingredients

4 cups of water, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers, 1 shot of tequila per margarita, 2 lime wedges freshly squeezed per margarita and rim glass with URFA pepper and sugar

Preparation

The drink starts with making the hibiscus tea. Put 4 cups of water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved remove from heat and stir in dried hibiscus flowers. Let sit for 20 minutes to steep and cool.

Drain spent hibiscus flowers with funnel and sieve. Place hibiscus tea in refrigerator until you are ready to mix margarita.

Rim glass with lime and URFA Pepper and sugar.

In cocktail shaker add one shot of tequila and two squeezes of fresh lime. Fill with ice and 3/4-1 cup of hibiscus tea. Shake for 30 seconds and let the shaker get really cold. Be careful to cover with wash cloth because this could get messy. The more you shake the better foam you will get on top. Pour into glass and place mint leaf on top.

Cheers!

Cook’s Note

URFA pepper is a dried turkish chili pepper. It has a fruity spice flavor that I love. It reminds me of Mexican candy. Some people describe it as having a raisin like flavor with a kick. It pairs perfectly with the warm cranberry taste of hibiscus.

Hibiscus is a dried flower that can be found under the name Jamaica. It’s found in barrels of Mexican markets or in plastic bags. It’s shelf stable so it’s perfect for our current stay at home status. Margarita ready whenever you want!