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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Potato-Corn Chowder

I came across this recipe in my July 2008 Gourmet magazine. It was fairly simple to prepare, I just wish there was a way to de-cob the corn without the juice flying every where. It was on the counter, the back splash, my shirt and glasses and probably a few places that I missed. Oh well, it was worth the effort and very good.

Potato-Corn Chowder

3 ears corn, shucked
2 qt. water
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, halved lengthwise, then sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 thyme sprigs
2 Turkish or 1 California Bay leaves
3 cups heavy cream
3 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Garnish: chopped cilantro

Cut corn from each cob, then hold cob upright in a bowl and scrape with knife to extract "milk". Bring cobs, water, potatoes and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil in a large pot, covered, then boil, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard cobs.
Meanwhile, cook onion, carrot and 1/2 tsp. salt in oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is pale golden, about 10 minutes.
Add bell pepper, corn and it's milk, thyme and bay leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook , covered, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
Stir in potatoes with water and cream and gently boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 7 cups, about 30 minutes. Stir in scallions, white pepper, cayenne and salt to taste. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
Serve topped with chopped cilantro.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Black Bean and Sirloin Chili

I've had this recipe for a long time and use it to create other chilis from. It's a favorite in our house.

Black Bean and Sirloin Chili

1/3 cup olive oil
2 lb. sirloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1/3 cup Masa Harina
1/3 cup regular chili powder
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 ( 14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth
2 cups cooked black beans (rinsed and drained if using canned)

Brown sirloin, in batches, in a heavy pot with olive oil, transferring it to a plate with a slotted spoon as it is browned. In remaining fat, cook onion, garlic and peppers over moderate heat, stirring until onion is softened. Add Masa, chili powders and cumin, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth and sirloin and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve.

Chicken Paillards with Basil Cream and Balsamic Vinegar

This excellent recipe comes from the September 1988 Bon Appetit. The sauce on this chicken was so good and really not that difficult to prepare. This one is a perfect company dish.

Chicken Paillards with Basil Cream and Balsamic Vinegar

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 2-oz. piece Muenster cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 medium garlic clove
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

rinse chicken and pat dry. Pound each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an even thickness of 1/8 inch, beginning in center and working outward.
Grate cheese and set aside. Place basil in bowl of food processor. Turn on machine. Drop garlic into feed tube and mince. Add oil and salt and mix 5 seconds. ( I found this easier to do in a small processor, the large one did not chop the mixture that well.)
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. brush one side of chicken breasts with half of basil oil. Add chicken to skillet basil side down. Brush tops with remaining oil. Cook until bottom side is just opaque, about 45 seconds. Turn and cook until second side is just opaque, about 45 seconds. Transfer to warm platter, tent with foil to keep warm.
Add vinegar to pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add cheese, cream and any collected juices from platter and stir until mixture thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over chicken.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Torta Cioccolata con Crema y Fragole

As you know, baking is not one of my strong suits, but I am trying to be better. I found this nice cook book called Cakes From Scratch in Half the Time by Linda West Eckhardt and I just had to buy it. The pictures are great, but the recipes are what won me over. This chocolate torte is incredible and easy. The picture does not do it justice, it's very dark, almost black, but I had to use a flash on the camera, it was just too dark. The cake is dense, but not heavy and not overly sweet. I think that it would be just as good sprinkled with powdered sugar as opposed to using the whipped cream. Either way, the cake is delicious.

Torta Cioccolata con Crema y Fragole

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. Dutch process cocoa powder, divided
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup brewed espresso
5 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Arrange the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Spritz a 9-inch shiny round aluminum cake pan with Baker's Joy, then dust with 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder.
Whisk the flour, the remaining 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Stir together coffee, oil, vanilla, and vinegar in a 2- cup glass measuring cup. Whisk into the dry ingredients, blending until just lump free.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until top springs back at the touch and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool cake in the pan on a rack. Turn out onto a cake plate.

Perfect Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp, sour cream or creme fraiche
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine ingredients and whip until soft peaks form. Refrigerate, covered, until time to serve.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sloppy Joe

The other day, I saw a commercial for Manwich that gave me a craving for Sloppy Joes. My mom made the best ones while I was growing up and I was longing for the comfort of those wax paper wrapped sandwiches. I turned to my copy of Joy of Cooking and used the recipe there. I will start off by saying that there was way too much bell pepper and way too much Worcestershire in the recipe for me. Against my better judgement ,I followed the recipe (so unlike me) and was disappointed. I will have to get mom's recipe and have another go at it.
Sloppy Joe
Heat in a large skillet over medium heat:
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion , finely diced
1 small red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large celery ribs, finely diced
Sat and black pepper to taste
Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened but not browned, transfer to a plate. Add to the skillet and slightly increase heat:
1 1/4 lb. ground chuck
Cook, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, just until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. (I removed some of the fat here). Add onion mixture, along with:
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup beer
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Hot pepper sauce
Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Serve on toasted French rolls.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


When I was younger, my sister Beth and I made snickerdoodles all of the time. We both loved them for their flavor and the ease at which they could be made. They are still one of my favorite cookies, but I have not made them since those childhood days. I got out my Joy of Cooking and found a recipe that looked easy and promising. Once I had the batter made up though, I ran into a few problems. The dough was very light and impossible to roll into balls. I decided to refrigerate the dough in order to harden it up some. It took about 30 minutes to get to the correct consistency for rolling. Then as the cookies baked they flattened and spread into each other on the baking sheets. The flavor was good, but a little buttery for my taste
and the cookies were thin and crispy, not what I remembered from the past. I asked my mom about them and she said we used the Betty Crocker version, so next time that is what I will try. Here is the recipe that I used.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets . Whisk until well blended:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Beat in a large bowl:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
Add and beat until well combined:
2 large eggs
Stir in the flour mixture. Combine:
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Shape dough into 1 1/4" balls, roll in cinnamon and sugar and arrange 2 3/4" apart on baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are light golden brown at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to wire racks.