Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Potato Waffles

For breakfast this morning, I decided to make waffles using the leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner. There was about 1/2 cup, and I stirred it into a half-batch of my favorite waffle recipes. For added flavor, I also stirred in a 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. If you don’t have leftover sweet potatoes, pumpkin purée would be a terrific substitute. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Waffles
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup leftover Senator Russell’s sweet potatoes

1. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine butter and next 4 ingredients. Gradually stir butter mixture into dry ingredients just until combined.
2. Cook in a lightly greased waffle-maker until crisp and golden brown. Serve hot with warm maple syrup.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner: Cranberry Preserves

This is a new take on cranberry sauce. The recipe was inspired by one I saw on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It’s very versatile and would make a terrific spread on toast and biscuits. I will definitely make cranberry preserves again. Enjoy!

Cranberry Preserves
1 bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
Zest from 1 orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Combine fresh cranberries and next 5 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and mixture begins to thicken. Stir in dried cranberries, and cook 5 more minutes. Serve warm, at room temp, or chilled.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Cornbread-Stuffed Pork Loin

Vegetable oil
2 cups self-rising corn meal mix
4 Tbsp. melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Pinch of salt
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper
1 (6-lb.) pork loin, butterflied
Kitchen string
4 cups apple cider
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 450°.  Pour vegetable oil to cover bottom of a cast-iron skillet; place in oven to preheat. 
2. Combine corn meal mix and next 4 ingredients until smooth; pour into hot oil in skillet. Bake for 20 minutes or until done. Remove from oven; cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, sauté onion, celery, and garlic in hot olive oil for 10 minutes or until tender. Season with herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.
3. Crumble cornbread, and place in a bowl. Stir in onion mixture.
2. Sprinkle pork loin with herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper on cut side. Place cornbread mixture in center of pork, and use kitchen string to tie up meat around cornbread mixture. Place pork, seam side down, in a baking pan. Sprinkle with additional herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Pour apple cider and vinegar into baking pan.
3. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until pork is done. Allow to rest 15 minutes, covered with aluminum foil, before removing string and slicing.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Sides

We were blessed to share this year’s Thanksgiving meal with Andy’s family, my mom, and some friends from our church. The menu this year included old favorites (Mimi’s sweet potatoes) and new flavors (pork loin stuffed with cornbread dressing). In addition, we had risotto with roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts with bacon, and cranberry sauce (homemade and from the can). My sister-in-law Laurie once again outdid herself with delicious pies—lemon and black-bottom bourbon-pecan. Yum!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chili Verde

During our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii several years ago, we tried a restaurant called Huli Sue’s. The food was so terrific that we actually ate there twice in our 10-day trip. The first night, one of their specials was chili verde. Since that time, I have thought about making my own version and finally did it tonight. I knew that the “verde” refers to a tomatillo-based salsa (this is my favorite version). My technique was pretty simple: Sauté chunks of pork with onion and jalapeño; stir in the green salsa, broth, and cannellini beans. Then simmer until the pork is tender.  The result was absolutely delicious, and this is my new favorite cold-night comfort food. Enjoy!

Chili Verde
1 (3-lb.) pork butt, cut into chunks*
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
4 cups Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 (32-oz.) box chicken broth
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans

1. Sauté pork in hot oil until browned on both sides. Add in onion and jalapeño, and cook, stirring often, 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in salsa, broth, and beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours or until pork is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

* Pork tenderloin would also work well in this dish.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ME Feast: Naan

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 envelope instant yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup room-temperature water
1/4 plain whole-milk yogurt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter, melted

1. Combine both flours, yeast, sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the water and next 2 ingredients; mix on low speed until a loose dough forms.
2. Replace paddle with dough hook; knead the dough on medium speed until smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes, adding additional all-purpose flour in 1-Tbsp. increments as needed for the dough to clear the sides of the bowl. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface; knead dough for 1 minute.
3. Shape dough into a ball, and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide dough into 12 equal portions. Gently shape each portion into a ball, and flatten out into a 6-inch circle.
5. Cook each circle on a lightly greased griddle for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Brush naan with melted butter and sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ME Feast: Kefta Kabob

Serve these meat patties stuffed in pita bread or alone. Tzaziki sauce is a must though.
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
Juice from 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. ground lamb
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 tsp. vegetable oil

1. Process onion and next 5 ingredients to form a paste. Transfer to a large bowl, and add lamb and cilantro. Stir together to combine. Form mixture into 12 balls; gently flatten balls into patties.
2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the patties, in batches, and cook until brown and crusty (about 3 to 4 minutes). Flip the patties, reduce heat to medium, and cook 3 to 4 minutes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

ME Feast: Tabbouleh

1/2 cup fine- or medium-grain bulgur wheat
Juice from 2 to 3 lemons
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 roma tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. Rinse bulgur wheat thoroughly, and drain. Place bulgur in a bowl, and stir in 1/4 cup lemon juice. Let stand until grains are tender and fluffy, about 20 minutes.
2. Stir in parsley and next 3 ingredients. Combine remaining 4 tsp. lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cayenne. Pour into bulgur mixture, and toss to coat. Season with additional salt and cayenne to taste, if needed. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

ME Feast: Baba Ghanoush

1 large eggplant
2 Tbsp. tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat a grill pan until very hot (make sure exhaust is on high). Place eggplant on pan, and grill on all sides until eggplant is wrinkled and soft. (This step can also be done on a grill or in the oven.) Remove from heat, and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Cut off top and bottom from eggplant; cut eggplant in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the pulp, and place pulp in colander to drain for 3 minutes.
2. Process the eggplant pulp, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a food processor until combined and slightly chunky. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto mixture, and chill for 1 hour. Before serving, drizzle baba ghanoush with olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Middle Eastern Feast: Hummus

 Today I made some foods for a friend that remind him of home. I have made hummus before and find it very easy. Some of the other items on the menu (tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, kefta kebab, and naan) were new experiences. In addition, we had baked feta with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper—delicious! All of the recipes are from Cook’s Illustrated The Best International Recipe cookbook and made with just a few modifications. Our friend enjoyed the feast, and these flavors are a great addition to my menu repertoire. Here is the recipe for hummus; the others will follow in subsequent posts. Enjoy!

1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
Cayenne pepper to taste

1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; add additional salt and cayenne as needed to taste. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Potato-Poblano Chowder

This recipe combines a unique combination of flavors that pair deliciously! It has a lot of steps but is worth the effort. The original recipe appeared in the December 2000 of Southern Living. What follows includes my variations. Enjoy!

Potato-Poblano Chowder
1 large red bell pepper
4 poblano chile peppers
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups milk
Salt and pepper

1. Broil bell pepper and chile peppers on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet 5 inches from heat about 5 minutes on each side or until peppers look blistered. Place peppers in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal and let stand 10 minutes to loosen skins. Peel peppers; remove and discard seeds. Coarsely chop peppers.
2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven; sauté onion and jalapeño 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour, and cook 1 minute. Gradually stir in chicken broth and milk until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in roasted peppers and potato.
3. Bring chopped roasted peppers, chicken broth, and next 3 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender.