It’s Irrational Not to Eat Pie on Pi Day!

comments 6
Dessert

Chocolate Banana Empanadas (Mini Pies)

March 14th is National Pi Day.  It celebrates the irrational number of Pi.  Whatever the reason, in my world it’s just another day to enjoy some food!  These chocolate banana mini pies are perfect for tomorrow’s festivities.

Time-45 minutes

Servings-24 mini pies

Ingredients

2 pre-made pie crusts, Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels, 1 banana, 1 TBS brown sugar, 1 egg, 2 TBS granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and bench flour.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface.

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Use a 3 inch circle cookie cutter to cut.  Combine left over dough and roll out again. You should get 12 pies per crust.

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Mash banana with a fork and add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar set aside in a bowl.  Beat one egg and set aside in a bowl.

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With each pie crust use rolling pin to make slightly oval to fit in filling.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of banana mixture a 3 chocolate morsels.  Close and crimp edges on both sides with a fork.

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Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay 12 per cookie sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Cook in oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Dust with powdered sugar.

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Happy π Day!

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My Valentine’s Day Gift

comments 6
Pasta

fullsizerenderOn Valentine’s Day last year I had the privilege of meeting a living legend, Nancy Silverton. Nancy needs no introduction. However if you are not familiar with Nancy, allow me to introduce her. She is a chef, restaurant owner, founder of La Brea Bakery, and a James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Chef. Nancy is co-owner of my favorite restaurant Mozza. We celebrate Valentine’s Day every year with the best pasta and wine in Los Angeles. If you are fortunate enough to dine when Nancy is present, she is very visible in the center of the restaurant. She works behind the Mozza Bar surrounded by a marble countertop where she prepares delicious bites with mozzarella. It’s mesmerizing to watch her work with such grace and posture. There are so few moments in life when you get to witness someone who has honed their skills to the point that they make everything look simple. To my surprise Nancy walked up to our table and I about broke into tears. Nancy was unbelievably kind and generous with her time. We discussed the dishes I have made from the Mozza cookbook and she informed me of her new cookbook Mozza at Home. She engaged my husband and kids in conversation. Later Nancy posed for a picture and gave me a really good hug before leaving. This was quite the moment for this home cook who rubbed shoulders with a legend on Valentine’s Day.

One of the most popular pasta dishes, and a family favorite, is orecchiette with fennel sausage and swiss chard. The recipe from Nancy’s cookbook takes approximately 90 minutes. I adapted the recipe to an easier and quicker version for the home cook.

 

fullsizeoutput_c99eMozza inspired Orecchiette with Fennel Sausage and shaved Brussel Sprouts

Time-45 minutes

Servings-8

Ingredients

4 uncooked sweet sausage links, 4 uncooked hot sausage links, 1 lb and 1 cup of orecchiette  pasta,  1/2 cup of onions or shallots chopped, 3 cloves of garlic minced, 1/2 tsp of crushed pepper, 2 cups of chicken stock/broth, 1 tsp of fennel pollen (see cooks note), 1 10 ounce bag of shredded brussel sprouts, 3 TBS of butter, 1 cup of panko bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano plus some for plating, and drizzle of olive oil to finish.

Preparation

Fill a large pasta pot with water and start to bring to boil.  While waiting for water to heat, prepare sausage.  Sausage is difficult to break down in a hot skillet.  In an unheated large 13″ skillet remove sausage from casings and piece into cold pan.  Once sausage is broken down turn on burner to medium-high heat and brown.   Sausage has plenty of fat and salt no need to oil pan or season with salt.

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It is important to get a good brown on the sausage it helps build flavor.

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When sausage looks similar to the picture above add shallots/onions and incorporate into dish.  After 2 minutes add garlic, crushed pepper and 3/4 of the shredded brussel sprouts.  Sauté crushed peppers, garlic and brussel sprouts for one minute then add chicken stock.

Drop orecchiette into pasta water and cook 1-2 minutes under package instructions for al dente pasta.  Reduce the sausage mixture for 5-10 minutes on medium high heat.  When the mixture is reduced but still has about 1/2 cup of stock remaining turn off heat.  When pasta is ready drain pasta water and add pasta to sausage mixture.  Mix pasta into skillet incorporating the sauce onto the pasta.  Add fennel pollen, parmigiano-reggiano, and remainder of brussel sprouts.

fullsizerender-6 Lastly, in a smaller skillet add 3 TBS of butter on medium heat.  Once butter starts to bubble add panko bread crumbs.  Slowly brown crumbs for 5-10 minutes.

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Plating

Add sausage orecchiette to plate and top with a drizzle of olive oil, more parmiagiano-reggiano, and a tablespoon of  bread crumbs.  A dusting of fennel pollen would be lovely as well. Enjoy!

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Cook’s Note:

  1.  I buy Fennel Pollen online because it is difficult to find.  However, you can grind fennel seed in a spice grinder and it tastes very similar. img_5903
  2. Sausage is sometimes sold by weight.  I weighed the 8 links and it weighed 1 pound and 10 ounces.

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3.  Always salt your pasta water.  Once water comes to a boil, I put in 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

4.  In order to get the right sausage to pasta ratio I needed a little more pasta.  Yes, you have to buy two boxes of orecchiette.

5.  I have also used fresh baby spinach or power greens mix in place of brussel sprouts.  The power greens mix has baby swiss chard and it resembles Mozza’s version the best.

6.  Before throwing out pasta water reserve a cup in case your sauce is to dry you can add some pasta water to loosen.

 

 

 

Are You Ready For Some Football?

comments 8
Appetizer

dsc_2687Quesadillas two ways

Southwest BBQ Pork with caramelized onions avocado and cilantro & Green Chile and Chicken

My favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday is the food and commercials…  Shocking, I know!  When having a Super Bowl party finger food is your best bet.  You need one free hand for the high-five, or a cold beer.  Quesadillas are perfect for game day because they are delicious.  They even taste great at room temperature.  Expedite this appetizer with some pre-made ingredients from the store to make sure everything is ready before kickoff.  Sit back and enjoy the commercials…  I mean game!

Time-1 hour 15 minutes

Servings-8

Ingredients

1 rotisserie chicken, 1 40 oz package of pre-cooked carnitas, 4 burrito size flour tortillas, 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, 1 onion, 3 poblanos, 5 jalapeños, 1 2.2 LB of shredded Mexican cheese, 1 avocado, 1 teaspoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of butter, 1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped, sour cream, salsa, guacamole

Preparation of Quesadilla

Caramelizing onion start by peeling skin off the onion.  Cut onion in half from tip to root.  Then cut perpendicular to grain and cut thin half moon slivers.  Add oil and butter to skillet on medium high heat.  Add onions and distribute evenly in skillet and coat the onions well in the oil.  Keep an eye on your onions you may need to lower temperature to medium-low to prevent burning.  You can add a teaspoon of sugar to expedite the process and a pinch of salt about 15 minutes into cooking.  If onions look dry you can add a little water.  The onions will turn brown in about 30 minutes.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

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Toasting peppers you can grill the chile peppers stovetop or on open flame.  Place peppers on grill on high-heat.  Blacken evenly then place in a container with lid to steam for 10 minutes.

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Peel the skin off the peppers with a spoon.  Chop into small pieces and discard stem and skin then set aside.

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Remove and shred Chicken from carcass and set aside.  Heat up Carnitas according to package instructions and add barbecue sauce and mix until well distributed.  Chop cilantro and set aside.  Open and score avocado and prepare all your toppings to start building your quesadilla.

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Building the Green Chile Chicken Quesadilla-in a skillet, comal, or griddle lightly toast tortilla on both sides on medium heat.  Then add cheese, chicken, green peppers and cilantro.

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Place second lightly toasted tortilla on top. Allow bottom tortilla to crisp up then flip and toast opposite side. Once cheese is melted take off griddle.  Place on cutting board and cut into 8 slices.

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Repeat same method with cheese, pork, onions, cilantro and avocado.

fullsizeoutput_c994The amount of ingredients you use is entirely up to you.  Remember the cheese is the star of any quesadilla.  Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

fullsizeoutput_c995Enjoy with cold beers and good friends.

Cook’s Note:

  1.  Costco has two products I really like to use for the quesadillas.  Del Real Carnitas and Supremo Chihuahua Shredded Quesadilla Cheese.
  2. You will have left over ingredients depending if you only make the amount blogged. I made chicken enchiladas with my left over chicken.  Pulled pork sliders with the left over pork.  I blended the left over chiles with some canned tomatillos, cilantro, onion and garlic for a fresh salsa verde.  Waste not want not.
  3. I used Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.
  4. For great guacamole and salsa recipes see previous blogs.  Take a Break. It’s Labor Day and Don’t tell anyone I told you this secret! Find under appetizer.

Nana’s Hot Chocolate

comments 5
Mexican

MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE

My Nana (Grandmother) used to make Mexican hot chocolate for my cousins and I during Christmas time.  The taste and smell really take me back to childhood.  It’s a cherished memory.  We have had our fair share of cold and rainy nights this year in California.  These rainy nights are perfect for pajamas and Mexican hot chocolate.  Find a cozy, quiet spot in your house and enjoy a silky smooth cup of chocolate.  It’s easy to make, and I will show you how to fancy-it up.

Time-10 minutes

Servings-2

Ingredients

2 cups of milk (whole/lowfat), 1 block of Abuelita/Ibarra chocolate, 1/2 cup of milk for frothing, hersheys milk chocolate for design.

Preparation of Mexican Hot Chocolate

On medium-high heat add milk in an aluminum pitcher or deep pot.  Warm milk to almost boiling.

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The chocolate is already scored for you.  Cut into triangle pieces for easier melting.

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Add chocolate into warm milk and use whisk or the traditional Molinillo to whip the chocolate milk for 5 minutes to thicken and make the chocolate smooth.  While chocolate is melting place your extra milk into frother.  Once chocolate looks slightly thick and smooth pour into cups.

fullsizeoutput_c917Add frothed milk to hot chocolate.  It should sit right on top leaving a little edge of chocolate on the perimeter.fullsizeoutput_c918With hershey’s syrup you can make a zig zag pattern or circular pattern.

fullsizeoutput_c911Using a toothpick run it perpendicular to the zig zag pattern.  For the circular pattern take the toothpick from the outside of the circle and bring it to the center most part to create a flower design.

fullsizeoutput_c914Enjoy!

Cook’s Note:

  1. This blog is dedicated to my Nana who passed away 2 years ago today.
  2. Milk is not a liquid you can walk away from when on the stovetop.  When it hits it’s boiling point it rises and spills over very quickly.
  3. See foodie field trips tab at top of my blog to find where you can find a restaurant that does it right.
  4. Mexican hot chocolate is different because it is infused with cinnamon.

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Breakfast Nachos

comments 10
Breakfast / Mexican

dsc_2506Chilaquiles with Salsa Verde

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day.  Having a well stocked refrigerator makes life easy when you want something quick and delicious.  This breakfast was ready in less than 10 minutes.  I had left over refried beans and salsa verde.  I try to keep homemade red or green sauce in my refrigerator because it’s healthy, and it adds so much flavor to just about anything.

Time-10 minutes with left overs

Servings-1

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cup of salsa verde, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup refried beans, handful of store bought thick tortilla chips,1 TBS of cotija cheese, 1TBS of cilantro, a few slivers of jalapeños for garnish, 1 tsp of oil for eggs, drizzle of cream and salt to taste over eggs.

Salsa Verde recipe from previous blog Are you ready for a throw down? 6 Anaheim Chiles, 2 Poblanos, 8-10 tomatillos, 1 white onion sliced 1/2 thick, 1 garlic head sliced, 1 cup of water.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place Anahiem/Poblano chile peppers, tomatillos, onions, and garlic on a cookie sheet. The flesh of the garlic should be exposed and foil wrapped around the garlic shells to prevent burning. Drizzle a dab of olive oil over exposed garlic to prevent dryness.   Each of these vegetables finish roasting at different times. The tomatillos will be done in 20 minutes. The onions and garlic will finish in 30 minutes. The chiles will be ready in 40 minutes. When they are done roasting, place the tomatillos, onions, and garlic in a blender. Place the roasted chiles in a sealed, gallon size, ziploc bag. Allow the chiles to sweat in the ziploc bag for 20 minutes. Remove the stems, skin, and seeds from the chiles. Add the chiles and cup of water to the same blender and blend all ingredients until smooth.  Season with 1/2 tsp of salt.

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The variety of peppers is your discretion, add poblanos or jalapeños.  Just fill up the cookie sheet.

Refried Beans recipe from previous blog Back to Basics a Mexican Kitchen

1 lb of pinto beans, 7 cups of water, 1 tsp salt, and 1 bay leaf (optional).  Refried 1/2 cup of shredded jack cheese and charred Serrano pepper.

Spread all the beans on a tabletop and check for rocks. Beans are a product of the earth and when harvested rocks are often mistaken as beans. Place beans in crockpot and throw away rocks. Add water and bay leaf to crock pot but do not salt until beans are cooked. Cook on high with lid on and beans should take 3 hours. Cook on low for 6 hours of cooking time.  When the beans are done fish out bay leaf and season with salt. The beans will be perfect with some queso fresco crumbled on top and served as is.  If you would like to refry them you have a few options. You can sauté some onions in oil and then add cooked beans and use a potato masher and smash until desired consistency. You can add lard or 1/2 cup of shredded jack cheese and mash until refried.  In my household we commonly use cheese and lard on special occasions. I like to char a serrano pepper and dice it up into my beans with some queso fresco.

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Preparation of Chilaquiles

In a 12″ skillet add salsa verde on medium-high heat.  Once salsa is warm add the tortilla chips.

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Soften and coat tortillas chips for 2-3 minutes.  The key with chilaquiles is the chips should be in between crisp and soggy.  The chip should have some bite to it.  The thicker the tortilla chip the easier it is to find the middle.

Plate the chips and add the refried beans.

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Fry your eggs in the style you enjoy them.  Finish with eggs, creama, cotija cheese, and cilantro.

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Enjoy!