Archive | September, 2010

Cumin Scented Tamale Bake

30 Sep

This is one of my new family favorites.  All the ingredients are likely to be in the kitchen, and there are easy substitutions if not.  If you like a thick cornbread layer, use a smaller dish (8×8 or 9×9).  For a thinner layer, try a 9×13 pan.   The recipe could easily be doubled and baked in two pans for a crowd.

Check your chili powder ingredients – if it doesn’t list salt, you’ll need to add more to the tamale filling.  The toasted cumin gives the dish a great flavor, but if all you’ve got is pre-ground, by all means use that.  To toast, add the whole seeds to a dry skillet and heat over medium 5-10 minutes until fragrant.  Keep watch!  They’ll go from perfect to burnt in an instant.

Cumin Scented Tamale Bake


Date Night: Farmer’s Market

26 Sep

Had a great time at the Date Night cooking class Friday night.  The theme was Farmer’s Market, and we had lots of beautiful local produce, meats, eggs, and some fresh herbs from home.  Pictured are an Eggplant Napoleon with Fresh Mozzarella and Cherry Tomato Chutney; Spaghetti with Squash Ribbons, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs; and Fritatta with Spaghetti, Sweet & Hot Peppers, and Bacon.

Our three couples did a great job – just some fresh ingredients and inspiration, no recipes – Yum!

Friday night classes are full for the fall session, but look for the Winter Recreater with old favorites and exciting new classes.

New Features

24 Sep

New Blog Features:

I hope you like the new look.  I think this is my favorite so far, and the most functional.  Check out the end of posts for new sharing buttons: email, share on social networks, and print!  And you can still subscribe to the RSS feed and by email.

Cooking Classes:

We’re kicking off the fall season with Date Night: Farmer’s Market tonight.  Click here for the online Recreater with all the listings.  We’ve got lots of new classes and returning favorites, including a series of gluten free classes.

Coming Soon:

I’ve got several posts scheduled over the next few weeks, plus a few more recipes I’m working on.  Tomorrow’s recipe is French Toast Bread Pudding – stay tuned to see if it makes the cut!

Barbecue Pork Sandwiches

24 Sep

I’ve been experimenting with barbecue sauce recipes, and this one from Simply Recipes is my current favorite.  I cooked it for about and hour then pureed it in the food processor.  The barbecue sauce comes together pretty quickly, but this batch took awhile, because I decided to make homemade ketchup the same day.  I used all the tomatoes for the ketchup, then I remembered I was supposed to same some for the barbecue sauce.  So I had to finish the ketchup first, then make the sauce.

The pork is easy – season a pork shoulder with salt and pepper, add some dried hot peppers, garlic, and onions if you’re feeling spicy, and cook in a slow cooker on low overnight, or 8-12 hours.  Cool, then discard fat and shred the meat.  If I’m feeling very motivated, I might sear the pork on all sides in a Dutch oven before slow cooking, but this involves and extra cleaning step, so it isn’t a necessity.

Pork on Foodista


20 Sep

I realized after making ketchup that we don’t really use much ketchup.  I guess maybe that’s a good thing, since it takes an awful lot of tomatoes to make the same amount of ketchup you could buy at the store for $1.99.

The Washington Post Food section had an article about making ketchup a few weeks ago (perfect timing).   Ketchup is an easy thing to make if you like to cook and have more tomatoes than you know what to do with.  It is not worth the trouble if you have to buy the tomatoes.  I made two batches – the first one yielded 2 pints of ketchup, plus about a 1/4 cup.  The second yielded 3 pints, plus 2 1/2 cups. (The 2 cups went into my barbecue pork) I used about 30 pounds of tomatoes.

Here’s the original recipe

Here’s my version: the ingredients are mostly the same, but the method is a little different.

Tomato Ketchup

I used half San Marzano tomatoes and half random regular tomatoes for the first batch, then all random tomatoes for the second batch.  Romas and San Marzanos have a lot less juice, so you’ll get a better yield, but regular tomatoes will work – they’ll just need to cook longer.  You’ll need a food mill and a food processor to get the right consistency.

  • 5 lbs Roma or San Marzano tomatoes (or 6-7 lbs regular tomatoes)
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large onion, preferably a sweeter variety, but any will work
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sweet pepper, fresh or roasted, chopped
  • 1 1/2 T salt
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 6 T brown sugar

Trim stems and any bad spots from the tomatoes.  Cut them in half and place in a large pot. (The pot should be big enough that the tomatoes only fill it halfway to prevent splattering.)  Turn heat to medium high.  Combine the peppercorns, cloves, allspice, celery seed, bay leaves, star anise, and cinnamon in a piece of cheesecloth and tie to make a bag.  Add to the tomatoes along with the pepper, salt, paprikas, and mustard.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30- 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat.  Fit a food mill with a fine disc.  Remove the spice bag from the pot, then process the tomato mixture through the food mill.  Clean the pot, return the tomato mixture to the clean pot, and place over medium heat.

Add the vinegar and brown sugar and cook 30 minutes-1 hour until mixture is thick.  Then taste it!  Add salt or sugar if needed.  It may seem a little grainy – that’s why you need a food processor.  If you’re not sure about the thickness, put a little spoonful on a cold plate and put in the fridge for a few minutes.  If you can run your finger through it and leave a trail, its thick enough.   Cool slightly, then process in a food processor until smooth.

At this point you can reheat the ketchup in a clean pan to boiling, then fill pint-size canning jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Or, fill clean jars or squeeze bottles and store in the fridge up to a month.

S’mores 2.0

17 Sep

Remember the chocolate covered grahams?  They were amazing.  My marshmallow making experiment – not so successful.  I ended up with a pan of marshmallow creme, which really wasn’t so bad.  I made Rice Krispy treats with some, and Granola Krispies with some more, and then I made the best s’mores ever.

I’ve never been a huge fan of s’mores.  I like the idea.  I like the chocolate, and the toasted marshmallows, and the crackers…but they’re a little clunky if you ask me.  I’m not one to complain about chocolate, but it seems like such a thick slab of it when you’re making a sandwich, and one marshmallow is never enough, but two don’t seem quite to fit without oozing out one on side and leaving the other without.

So here’s my solution: homemade chocolate covered grahams with just enough soft and melty chocolate ganache in a nice thick layer that won’t go sliding anywhere and homemade marshmallow creme that you can scoop out in just the right amount.

Even better would be homemade marshmallows that actually set up properly, which you then cut into a size just right for the s’mores, and toasted over your backyard campfire.

…but we can’t have perfection at every turn.  These will have to do.

Pot Stickers

12 Sep

I love potstickers.  They’re a pain to make, but so worth it.  The whole house smells like a really good Asian restaurant, and I always eat way more than I should.

I don’t have a recipe, but they’re easy – take a pound of ground pork, mix it with some scallions, garlic, ginger, finely chopped broccoli, carrot, cabbage – whatever you want, just make all the bits small.  Stir in some soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, oyster sauce, maybe some rice wine, plus a little sugar, maybe 1 tsp.

Search desperately for round wonton wrappers.  When you can only find square ones, use a round biscuit cutter to approximate a circle.

Watch this video to learn how to fill the potstickers and make that fancy fold around the edges.  Don’t fill yours as full as the ones in the video until you get the hang of it.  Keep the unused wrappers and the finished dumplings covered with a damp towel.

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large, flat bottomed skillet until shimmering.  Add the potstickers and cook until golden brown.  Add water or chicken stock to come halfway up the dumplings.  Cover and lower the heat, simmering for 10 minutes.  Remove the lid, turn the heat up, and cook until the liquid evaporates.  Remove potstickers and add oil for another batch if needed.

Serve with dipping sauce.  Experiment.  There are lots of recipes out there.  I like a thinner sauce.  Okay, here’s one: mix together 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, and 1 thinly sliced scallion top.

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