Mexican-Style Rice

Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, and if you live in northeast Ohio you’ll either 1) ignore it, 2) find yourself in a restaurant that wouldn’t know real Mexican (to say nothing of Tex-Mex) food if it jumped in their lap, or 3) make it yourself.

For the last 9 years, I’ve opted for number 3.

I guess ideally, I should have posted this recipe prior to Cinco de Mayo, but since I make Mexican food on a fairly regular basis – and you should, too – I figured it would be worth putting up post-weekday-reason-to-drink-margaritas anyway.  Well, that and the fact that it’s the first time I’ve ever really made it successfully.

For some reason, Mexican-style rice, or sopa seca, is something I’ve never been able to master to my satisfaction.  Something of an oddity, really, since things like handmade tamales and traditional chiles relleno pose no problem for me at all and neither of those dishes are what you could call “quick and easy.”  However, since I was making enchiladas for the “holiday” (I found some wonderful organic, sprouted corn tortillas at our local natural foods store) and I’d just made western-style beans a few days before, I wanted some rice.

I wanted some good rice, and I found the recipe over at Homesick Texan.  Lisa is a marvelous cook (her blog is where I found the aforementioned western-style beans originally) and I was more than willing to try her version of Mexican-style rice.  With a few modifications – I like peas and carrots in my Mexican-style rice and subbed half the tomato paste with some homemade Enchilada Sauce while cutting back on the cumin – it was just marvelous.  Not only did I love it, but Beloved, Jolly and Darling Daughter also ate it with great enthusiasm.

Really. Good. Stuff.

Mexican-Style Rice. A must for any Cinco de Mayo feast, this recipe for Mexican-style rice is easy, delicious and pretty much perfect.

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://www.homesicktexan.com/2008/06/with-beans-comes-rice.html” target=”_blank”]Homesick Texan[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice, chicken broth and kosher sea salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat. Stir again, then cover the saucepan with a dry, clean dishcloth and place the lid on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, sauté the onion in the butter in a shallow skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, enchilada sauce, cumin and peas and carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are warmed through, another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the onion/vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the cooked rice, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 197 calories, 3.7g total fat, 7.9mg cholesterol, 347.9mg sodium, 313.1mg potassium, 35.3g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 3.6g sugar, 6g protein

 

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

Look – I’m here!

More importantly – I cooked!

It was a nice weekend; we finally got a little down time.  A good thing, too, because that won’t happen again until after Christmas.  I love the holidays, but the older I get the more I just don’t want to deal with it.

We are SO taking the week between Christmas and New Years off.

I’m also glad to report that my oven is back in working order, and this was the first thing I made once it was up and running again.  We have a ton of root vegetables in our fridge, as well as sweet potatoes and winter squash on our counter, some from the farmer’s market and some from our own garden (we were surprised at the success we had at growing sweet potatoes; there will be more next year), so I decided to see what I could do with them.

This recipe makes a lot – 6 very generous servings – and is quite easy to make, if you discount all the peeling and dicing prep-work involved; fortunately for me, my better half has no problem helping out with such tasks.  And it is just delicious – Beloved not only wolfed down a second helping the evening I made it, but ate more the next morning with breakfast.

I think he’s hording what’s left in a Tupperware in the back of the fridge where I can’t find it.

I used a delicata squash in this, but you could use any winter squash you like, as well as just about any combination of root vegetables – a rutabaga would be nice thrown into the mix, as would some red-skinned potatoes if you’re so inclined.  But as written, the hash is Whole30 compliant as well as vegan-friendly, and would make a great addition to a real food holiday table.

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash. This simple and colorful autumn hash can be made with any variety of squashes and root vegetables.

Click the image to enlarge

Roasted Root Vegetable Hash
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 large delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl; toss, making sure all the vegetables are coated with the olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Spread the mixture in a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender.
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and place under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes to finish browning if desired.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 164 calories, 7.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 547.1mg sodium, 583.7mg potassium, 24.7g carbohydrates, 5.8g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 2.3g protein

Winter Squash Casserole

It’s funny, where you can find inspiration for a dish.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the little “ticker” over on the right-hand side of the screen on Facebook fascinates me.  I’ll often click on it just to see the photo or status someone on my friends list “likes” or see the post or status they’re commenting on.  I’ve found some hilarious and infuriating things over there – and, occasionally, something instructive.

Such was the case last weekend when I clicked on something that looked like a recipe by my friend Barbara, a professional chef who owns the blog Tigers and Strawberries.  (She hasn’t blogged for quite some time, but has left the blog up – which is a great thing; it is a marvelous resource of recipes and cooking knowledge.)  In fact, that’s exactly what it was – a simple recipe on one of her friend’s post about discovering delicata squash.

And, like all of Barbara’s recipes, it looked marvelous.  Right away I sent her a private message saying I planned to make the dish soon (I made it the next night, as a matter of fact) and asking if I could post the recipe here when I did.  Gracious as always, her reply was, “Go for it.”

So here it is.

And it is every bit as marvelous as I had anticipated.

Barbara gave no real measurements – it was just a list of ingredients and general instructions for the dish – so I had to sort of wing it when it came to proportions.  We had a fairly large butternut squash that we’d just pulled out of our garden, so I used that, along with two Fuji apples because they are delicious and hold up fairly well to cooking.  The only other ingredients were 2 parts almond butter to one part maple syrup, dried cranberries and slivered almonds.

Since the almond butter I used was an all-natural butter with no added salt or sugar, I ended up reversing the proportions of that and the maple syrup (which turned out to be a good thing once I saw the calorie content of a serving).  On a whim, I also added raisins along with the dried cranberries and I had no slivered almonds, so I used chopped pecans instead.

I also didn’t realize when I began that it was going to make a HUGE amount, but that’s okay – it is so very, very good that we’ve eaten the leftovers every day this week for lunch (and there is still some left in the fridge that we’ll probably polish off today).  In fact, it’s so good that Beloved is campaigning for it to be part of our Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I may very well accommodate him.

This would work well with just about any kind of winter squash, and Barbara says you can use sweet potatoes if you prefer.  She also says this would make a great dessert, and if you use sweet potatoes, I’d have to agree.

Note:  This dish is vegetarian as written; if you sub the butter with olive oil or palm oil shortening for greasing the pan, it will become vegan – and dairy-free – as well.

Winter Squash Casserole. This delicious and simple casserole is perfect for a chilly autumn day - or your holiday table.

Click the image to enlarge

Winter Squash Casserole
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter and maple syrup until well-blended. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper. Pour the almond butter mixture over the contents of the bowl and toss to coat all of the pieces of squash and apple evenly. Add the seasonings and stir to combine.
  4. Pour the squash mixture into the buttered baking dish and spread out evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the squash and apples are tender. Remove the foil and return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top of the casserole begins to brown.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 425 calories, 13.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 343.5mg sodium, 426.3mg potassium, 77.5g carbohydrates, 6.6g fiber, 26.5g sugar, 3.8g protein

Pommes Anna

I was watching No Reservations recently when Anthony Bourdain said something about cooking not being so much a calling as an affliction.  I’m afraid this is especially true when you’re a food blogger.

I almost didn’t post this recipe, which was part of our lovely Christmas dinner, simply because I’m not thrilled with the photos.  Surely I’m not the only blogger – who isn’t also a professional photographer, that is – who, when faced with a particularly tasty dish, but less less than inspiring photograph, who says, “I wonder if I’ve got a recipe somewhere with a better picture I can post instead?”

Such was my dilemma with this recipe, which is absolutely delicious and just as stunning, visually, when properly executed and photographed.  Unfortunately, in this case, the photography portion rather fell short – partly because the cake came out in two sections when I turned it out of the pan (a hazard with the particular dish), and I had to reassemble it, and because my choice of serving vehicles were a little…monotone.  Ah, well; from what I understand, even professionals have their bad days, so I’m going to suck it up, realize that both Tastespotting and Foodgawker will probably turn this down – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time – and post what is probably Beloved’s favorite potato dish.

Pommes Anna is a rustic but classic French preparation of potatoes, reputedly named after the most loved and respected courtesan in 16th-century Paris. Traditionally it is cooked in a special copper pan designed especially for the dish, but since I share Alton Brown’s disdain for single purpose kitchen utensils (to say nothing of the fact that copper cookware is obscenely expensive; the Pommes Anna pan on the Williams Sonoma website is $400), I cook mine in my well-seasoned, 12″ cast iron skillet.

Like many French dishes, Pommes Anna is not difficult to make, but it is exacting:  skip a step or take a shortcut, and the finished product will suffer.  In this case it won’t be the taste – potatoes and butter are pretty much going to taste good no matter what you do to it – but in the presentation.  If you don’t press down on the potatoes, it will fall apart when you turn it out of the dish.  If you don’t shake the pan occasionally, the potatoes on the bottom will stick when you turn it out of the dish.  If you don’t start it on the stovetop, the potatoes won’t brown properly.

Now, having said all of that, this is going to taste absolutely marvelous even if it doesn’t come out in one golden, crisp-yet-tender disc.  I make mine with Japanese sweet potatoes, although you can use regular sweet potatoes or white potatoes, if you’re so inclined, but no matter the type of spud you use, it is simply a rich, delicious dish.

The best thing?  If you use sweet potatoes, either regular orange or Japanese, it’s a rich, delicious dish that’s Whole30 complaint.

Pommes Anna

Pommes Anna

Pommes Anna

Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 large Japanese sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Liberally brush the inside of a 12″ saute pan or cast iron skillet with some of the melted ghee. Arrange the potato slices in concentric rings emanating from the center of the pan, forming layers until all of the potato slices have been used.. Carefully brush each layer with clarified butter and lightly season each layer with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the pan on the stove and cook, undisturbed, over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and cook until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes, pressing the potatoes occasionally to compress and shaking the pan to prevent the potatoes sticking to the pan.
  4. Drain any excess butter from the pan and carefully flip the potato cake out onto a cutting board. Slice into wedges and serve.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 146 calories, 10.3g total fat, 27.1mg cholesterol, 37.1mg sodium, 222.1mg potassium, 13.1g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2.7g sugar, 1.1g protein

Honey-Lemon Roast Pheasant

Hello, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.  We had a lovely time, and I received a new toy for the kitchen I’ll be using very, very soon – an 8-quart Fagor pressure cooker.  I’m thrilled with it; technically, you can cook with our pressure canner, but it’s so large that it’s not really practical.

Fair warning:  be on the lookout for recipes using a pressure cooker in the (very near) future.

Our Christmas dinner was small – just me and Beloved – but suitably celebratory.  The centerpiece of the meal was this dish.

I’d never had pheasant before, much less cooked it, but it’s no more difficult than roasting a chicken and the flavor is just out of this world – far richer than even a good pasture-raised chicken.  Brined for several hours and glazed with a mixture of fresh lemon juice, local honey and fresh thyme, it is simply outstanding.

This recipe is based on the excellent Glazed Roast Pheasant recipe from Hank Shaw of Hunter, Anger, Gardner, Cook.  If you don’t have a roasting pan with a rack, he gives instructions on how to build one with vegetables that can be eaten as a side dish.

Note:  Pheasants are not large birds, and the original recipe says it will serve 2.  While this recipe also serves 2, we did not eat all of it – there’s at least one more serving left.  Pheasant stir-fry, maybe?

http://honest-food.net/wild-game/pheasant-quail-partridge-chukar-recipes/roast-pheasant-with-prickly-pear-glaze/

Honey-Lemon Roast Pheasant

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 pheasant
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lemon, halved and juiced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 large sprig thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the salt and water in a small stock pot or other large, non-reactive container until the salt is dissolved. Place the pheasant in the brine and cover; refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Whisk together the lemon juice, honey and thyme in a small bowl until well-combined.
  3. Remove the pheasant from the brine and pat it dry. Allow it to rest on a cutting board while the oven heats, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the reserved lemon rinds and the sprig of thyme; sprinkle with the cayenne pepper. Place the bird breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan.
  5. Roast the pheasant for 15 minutes at 450 F, then decrease the heat to 375 F and roast for another 20 minutes. Turn the pheasant breast side up and baste with the honey/lemon mixture. Roast for another 30 to 40 minutes,
  6. basting the bird every 10 minutes, and taking care not to allow the glaze to burn.
  7. When the thigh of the pheasant reaches an internal temperature of 160 F, remove to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving and serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 412 calories, 17.5g total fat, 131.7mg cholesterol, 1030.1mg sodium, 532.1mg potassium, 20.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 18.1g sugar, 42.5g protein