Feb 21, 2011

DFO {devil's eggs}

Spooned over slices of toasted bread or scooped up with tortilla chips, this is a quick, easy & inexpensive supper. Multiply the recipe and bake in a large casserole dish to create a great group brunch dish.

Dinner For One: Eggs El Diablo {Devil's Eggs}

A friend who lived in Texas for a bit introduced me to Rotel tomatoes – a brand of tomatoes canned with chile peppers. They’re a must for melting with Velveeta to make queso dip and help keep the ingredient list & chopping requirements low here. Can’t find Rotel in your grocery store? Just used regular canned tomatoes and a spoonful of canned green chiles or half of a fresh, chopped jalapeno. You don’t want anything with too much heat though, the chipotles in adobe are pretty fiery so you’re just looking for some mild green chiles to add depth to the dish’s flavor.

What you need:
1 Tb olive oil
½ small white onion, peeled & chopped
1 chipotle chile in adobe, chopped plus 1TB adobe sauce
10 oz. can chopped tomatoes with mild green chiles, such as Rotel
salt & pepper
2 eggs
1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
chopped parsley (optional)
toasted bread or tortilla chips

How you make it:
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add chipotle chile and sauce, sauté for another minute. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook, breaking up tomatoes with the back of a spoon until sauce has thickened, 4-5 minutes. Taste, add salt & pepper as needed and remove from the heat.

Place oven rack as high as possible and turn on broiler to high. Place tomato sauce in a shallow, ovenproof serving bowl. Use the back of a spoon to create two little valleys and crack eggs, one at a time, into the spaces. Place bowl on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until eggs whites are set and yolks are still runny, 5-7 minutes. Top with crumbled feta and chopped parsley, if using, and serve immediately.

Note: You're only using one chile from the can of chipotles here so you'll have quite a bit leftover. They add great smokiness and heat to anything, so be sure to save them for later use. Not sure you'll use them all right away? Generally you just use one at a time so separate the chiles and a spoonful of sauce into individual plastic baggies and store them in the freezer for later.

Feb 11, 2011

Make It {mexican hot chocolate}

I'm famous in certain circles for these, but this kicked-up hot chocolate may just become my new claim to fame. It's sweet & spicy with tingling heat and an espresso kick... think of it as the cold weather alternative to those (in)famous brownies...

Mexican Hot Chocolate
makes 2 cups

What you need:
50 grams good bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 cups milk (anything but skim)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1-2 tablespoons light brown or turbinado sugar, to taste
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch ground chipotle pepper

How you make it:
Coarse chop chocolate and combine with remaining ingredients in a small sauce pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to melt & combine chocolate. Serve immediately.

Feb 9, 2011

DFO {salt + pepper tofu}

Inspired by the most popular lunch special at one of my favorite Asian restaurants, this is a quick & easy replacement for weeknight takeout. The crispy, fried tofu squares would be delicious served with the garlic ponzu dipping sauce as an appetizer as well.

DFO: Salt & Pepper Tofu

DFO recipes generally make two servings so you can pack up the leftovers for a tasty lunch the next day. The tofu won’t stay crispy if it’s stored overnight though, so this recipe makes enough for just one generous serving.

What you need:
4 TB cornstarch
1 tea each salt & pepper
½ block extra firm tofu, cubed
vegetable oil
½ white onion, sliced thickly
2 cups of your favorite veggies, peeled, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (green beans, green onion, celery, bok choy, carrots, brocolli)
1 TB ginger, minced
1 TB, garlic, minced
1 TB soy sauce
Juice of half a lemon
Rice for serving

How you make it:
Combine cornstarch with salt & pepper in a shallow bowl. Toss tofu cubes in mixture until well coated.

Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large sauté pan on medium high heat until shimmering. Fry tofu, a few pieces at a time, turning occasionally until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside in a warm oven.

Drain all but one tablespoon of the oil remaining in the pan and return to high heat . Add onion and vegetables. Sauté on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add soy sauce and lemon juice and cook 30 seconds.

Serve stirfried vegetables over rice, topped with the crispy tofu. I like to include a side of ginger ponzu for dipping – mix bottled ponzu sauce with pickled ginger… so easy.

Feb 7, 2011

Inspired {kraft paper}

Not only does brown kraft paper make a great replacement for pricey wrapping paper to wrap gifts all year long, but it makes an easy and inexpensive table covering - elegant & chic or casual & kid-friendly, here are a few ideas from around the web that caught my eye...

Image Source: unknown
Image Source: Sunday Suppers, Karen Mordecai

Image Source: unknown

Head here and order yourself a roll of Kraft paper. A 24" roll costs $25 and you'll never have to worry about someone spilling red wine on your grandmother's lace tablecloth ever again. Ask your friends to leave their mark on the table - put out crayons or colored pencils and let them create an impromptu work of art. Or decorate it yourself - replace place cards by scribbling your guest's names where you'd like them to sit or create hand-drawn "place mats" like the image above. Then start finding other ways to use your roll - I love the framed menu board below!

Image Source: Sunday Suppers, Karen Mordecai

Feb 4, 2011

Game Time

Are you ready to really blow your friends out of the water? Then make these. But only if you think they can handle it...

My advice is to eat these as soon after they come out of the oven as possible. Possibly while watching a big football game - if you're into that sort of thing.

You can see mine didn't turn out particularly photogenic. Don't even sweat it. Just call them "Rustic Pretzel Rolls" and act like they're supposed to look like that... at least that's what I did.

Spicy mustard is a must. Or some cheese sauce to dip into. Or make them a little longer, split them open and turn them into the best damn hotdog bun mankind has ever put his lips around. You're a shoo-in for MVP, trust me.

Feb 3, 2011

Ok, I'm impressed.

Check this out! Serious kudos to her...

Image: iammommy.typepad.com

If anyone attempts this for Valentine's Day, I want pictures. And you will become my new personal hero...

Feb 2, 2011

Year of the Chicken Wing

Oh wait... that doesn't sound right.

Year of the Pot Sticker?

Hmm, probably not. Though after you try these two recipes you may want to dial up the People's Republic of China and have a serious chat about changing their calendar...

Both of these require some time and effort up front, but please don't let that scare you off - the pay off is incredible depth of flavor that will have everyone asking, "What did you put in these??" But, you know, in a good way.

Dinner for 8

Tsingtao Beer (The #1 Beer in China, easy to find at your local liquor store)
Spicy Pork Pot Stickers
Mahogany Wings
Szechuan Green Beans
Vegetable Fried Rice (Takeout! or even better - have it delivered!)

Jasmine Tea
Almond Cookies
Clementines or Orange Wedges
Fortune Cookies

I wrote a post about throwing a fabulous Chinese New Year Feast two years ago here. It's still full of great ideas but my position on pot stickers has completely reversed... yes, they take some time but they're totally worth it!

But some things haven't changed. I do think the easiest way to add a festive touch is to drop a red tablecloth, put out a bowl of clementines, stockpile sauces & chopsticks from your favorite take out joint, and buy a stash of colorful melamine dipping bowls from a local Asian grocery store or restaurant supply warehouse. Going for extra credit? Pick up some cute take out containers to send your friends home with the tasty leftovers or some custom fortune cookies. Dipped fortune cookies are easy & fun or you can make your own - I've done it & it takes some practice, but it is fun to write your own fortunes!

Spicy Pork Pot Stickers
Makes 60+

What you need:
1 egg
1 pound ground pork
1 large carrot, grated
2 scallions, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
2 TB ginger, peeled & finely minced or grated
2 TB Thai Chilli Paste (see note below)
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB sesame oil
60-70 gyoza wrappers
Vegetable oil

How you make them:
Mix all ingredients except gyoza wrappers and oil in a large bowl and mix well. Make a small (less than a teaspoon) patty of the mixture and fry in a small pan so you can taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed.

To fill the dumplings, put a scant teaspoon of the pork mixture in the center of a gyoza wrapper. Dip a (clean) finger in water and wet the edges of the wrapper. Pull two opposite corners together over the filling and use your fingers to squeeze the edges together, folding & crimping a little until they stick. You'll have to practice a bit to get a shape that you like and don't try to use more filling - you'll end up with a big mess.

Place the pot stickers on a sheet pan or store them in a large airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to cook them. You can also freeze them at this point & cook them later, right out of the freezer.

When you're ready to eat, heat 2 TB of vegetable oil over medium heat in the widest, flat-bottom pan you have that has a lid. Place pot stickers close together, but not touching, in the pan - you can crowd as many as you can fit in there. Let the dumpling saute until they're golden brown on the bottom, add half a cup of water and get the lid on as fast as you can so the steam doesn't escape. Lower the heat a bit and steam until the wrappers are almost translucent and the filling is cooked, 2-3 minutes. remove the lid and continue to cook until all the water has evaporated.

Serve the hot pot stickers with any dipping sauce you like - I'm partial to sweet chili sauce or ponzu sauce mixed with grated ginger & scallions. If you like a little more heat try soy sauce mixed with Sriracha... yum. And 60 probably sounds like alot but trust me, your friends will eat every last one - you can never have too many of these.

Thai Chilli (Chile) Paste:
Also known as nam prik pow has a sweet and sour flavor. Typical ingredients include Pure Cane Sugar, Garlic, Onion, Anchovy, Soybean Oil, Dried Shrimp, Chili, Tamarind, Peanuts, Parsley, and Fennel. There are some widely available ones from brands like Thai Kitchen that you can likely find in your local grocery store. The one I use is from an Asian market but I don't think there's anything particularly special about it - you're just looking for that mix of Tamarind, chili and anchovy or dried shrimp that adds depth and complexity to your filling.

Mahogany Wings
Makes 4 dozen+

What you need:
1.5 cups soy sauce
.75 cup dry sherry
9 oz. Hoisin Sauce (one bottle)
.75 cup plum sauce
18 scallions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
.75 cup cider vinegar
.5 cup honey
4-5 dozen chicken wings and drumettes
vegetable oil

How you make them:
Combine all ingredient except wings and oil in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool completely before using. The sauce can be made several weeks ahead and stored in the fridge.

Put wings in a large storage container or a few gallon-size ziploc bags. Add the cooled sauce and refrigerate overnight, turning once or twice.

Place oven racks in upper & lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Drain wings, reserving sauce, and place them in a single layer on two oiled sheet pans. Greasing the pans is incredibly important because things are about to get sticky...

Pour reserved sauce back into a small pot and boil rapidly for 5 minutes until it's reduced by a bit. Bake wings uncovered for 90 minutes, turning every 20 mins and basting with more sauce. Switch the pans from high to low halfway through so everything gets even heat exposure. Serve warm or at room temp and toss a handful of sliced scallions and sesame seeds over the top of the wing pile - just to make it pretty. Serve with lots of paper towels and stand back.

Szechuan Green Beans
Serves 8 as a side dish

What you need:
1 TB vegetable oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
.25 cup hoisin sauce
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tea ginger, peeled and minced
1 tea sugar
1 tea red chili flakes or Sriracha

How you make them:
Heat oil in a large pan over high heat. Add beans and onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the beans are crisp-tender and blackened in spots, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add the sauce to the pan and stir until the beans are evenly coated. Serve hot.

So there you have it & it's alot of prep work... but I promise, you'll be glad you tackled it. If you're making a few of the recipes, look over the ingredient lists before you start and combine any prep work you can. For example, there's alot of minced garlic here, do it all at once and you'll save some time. And, now that I think about it, the wings & pot stickers would be great for any sports-related viewing parties you have coming up... isn't there some big football game this weekend? :)

p.s. - Since I've been gone from this space for so long I'm probably putting this out into a vast black hole at this point... but for those of you still out there - I missed you. And thanks for reading.