Sunday, January 30, 2011

if you watch closely and if you really want to you can make a great relleno

Does this look familiar? It should.

First off there should be no excuse for not roasting chiles. Chile tastes better roasted and from a pure dietary perspective they digest better as well, so no more excuses - roast your chile.

You dont have to have a blast roaster or a special outdoor fire pit or anything fancy what-so-ever. Roast the chile peppers under your broiler, and it doesnt matter whether its gas or electric, the skin will char, the flavor will be imparted and they will be easy to peel. Simple as that - roast the chiles for that real authentic flavor - no ifs ands or buts about it.

Secondly I cant believe its been two or three posts since I last posted chiles rellenos, dang where does the time go? (thats supposed to be sarcastic humor) I think you know already that this dish is one of, if not the, all time favorite of me, my guests, my clients and my friends and family, I make them any which way possible. (search chiles rellenos on my blog when ever you have some time to kill). This time I went for the whipped egg white batter and simply stuffed them with queso de oaxaca and queso de quesadilla, easy cheesy and vegetarian.

Thirdly if you want to make it all "mexican restaurant style" then you need some beans and rice. I made some straight forward pinto beans and some spanish rice. This rice has a little tomato, a little garlic a tiny pinch of oregano, a little cilantro and salt to taste, once again if you want the recipe - tough luck.

Pour on some nice New Mexico red chile enchilada sauce over the whole thing, grate a little extra cheese and toss on some finely chopped partially dried cilantro (I like the texture and flavor) and guard your plate you wouldnt want the relleno zombies to catch wind of this delicacy. (you think this is two shots of the same plate but it isnt - look closely and you will see - I made five of these but only photographed the first two) Make rellenos, impress your friends.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

soup for the soul is soul soup and this is the real deal lemon peel

Soup, when the weather is like it is in the Northeast all you hear is soup, soup, soup and it makes all kinds of sense. Soup is soothing. Soup is comforting. Soup is the answer.

A few mornings ago the weather was so cold that soup was the answer first thing in the morning. I woke up to a cold and dark kitchen knowing full well that in an hour or so this tomb would be alive and warm with the fresh hot smells of soup and not just any soup but Sopa de Albondigas otherwise known in english as Meatball Soup.

Aesthetics are a big part of things around here so I couldnt let the meatballs have all the round fun so I took my melon baller and made potato balls to go along with it. This was a breakfast that set the tone for the entire day, soothed, comforted and charged up and ready to go.

Obviously you cant see the two or three tablespoons of chipotle with adobo that I stirred into the pot but you can believe that you can taste it - just the right heat kick. As usual I dont print a recipe since there are enough recipes floating around out there and since most, if not all, of my recipes are my own little secrets. Keep an eye out you might just see a ChezWhat cookbook popping up and while we are on that topic maybe you can let me know what kinds of things you would like to see in said cookbook but until then - have some soup.

Monday, January 24, 2011

pure and simple comfort food disguised as junk food

Tacos make my son want to do back hand springs, hand stands, tv stands, jump up and down and giggle stands - totally go into some kind of freaky excited stage - stands - back flips, front flips, run in place and act like a maniac flips; he likes tacos and who wouldnt, they are crunchy, spicy and loaded with goodness.

I like to have full control of things so I even grind my own meat.

As tempting as it is to want to eat this fresh ground angus steak raw I have to strongly urge you not to and I especially urge you not to eat the beef raw with a raw egg and some rough cut green onions. While I do enjoy eating steak tartare the FDA would not be happy if I suggested you do the same. So dont do it. Instead heat up a skillet and brown some of the meat then add some onions and garlic and all kinds of secret chile spices until it tastes like Taco Bell, you'll know when its ready, it will smell too good to be true.

Tacos with a crispy shell wrapped by a soft shell are all the rage around here. Cool as they look they actually serve a purpose. The soft shell has a layer of melted cheese between it and the crunchy shell and the soft shell helps hold the whole taco together from the first bite to the last.

You can forget the soft shell and have them straight and crunchy if cool isnt your game.

How ever you have them make sure you eat at least 3 and I am certain you will flip for tacos just like us.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I am not finished yet - the more you leave the more there is

Ever cooked too much tuna and ever cooked it too much? Fear not my brethren there is hope. Tuna salad made from fresh tuna is not like tuna salad you have ever had.

Take that over cooked tuna and chunk it into a bowl.

Add chopped green onion and hot house tomato and a big wad of mayonnaise.

Make sandwiches on toasted bread. Leftovers fit for a king.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Are you ready, Are you ready for this Are you hanging on the edge of your seat ........

"Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust "

That is exactly what happened to this chicken. What was once an inspired chicken soup that was cherished and honored became leftovers in less than 24 hours. What do you do with a pot full of chicken and veggies that is sans most of the broth because the broth was lopsidedly consumed more than the rest of the soup? Chicken pot pie is what.

If you thought making salmon cakes was easy then you can do this in your sleep. Make a nice and light crust for the bottom of the pie or if you really want hassle free use a pre-made pie crust, pierce it all over with a fork and prebake it until its golden. (I made this crust in less time than it took to write this paragraph.) Fill baked crust with shredded chicken chunks of veggies and make a little cornstarch slurry and pour over the whole thing to aid in thickening. Roll out a top crust and lay it over the filling and poke with a fork then Bake at 375 until golden, for the last few minutes brush with an egg wash to create a nice silky crust and crank the heat up to 400.

Slice into wedges and serve with a nice white chicken gravy and I'll bet you dollars to donuts you will be making pot pies all the time after you have one delicious bite. Look at all that chicken and the bits of carrot and potato, it screams out to be loved.

You can use mixed frozen veggies if you like, or you can even buy a rotisserie chicken and make it fresh from scratch. Make extra and freeze them for those busy times when you dont have time to cook. Chicken pot pies are about as comforting as comforting can get, add gravy and its cozier than a campfire.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

leftovers leftover are leftovers leftover - make good on em'

Who cares what anyone says for that matter. Everyone has some opinion about something, whether its right or whether its wrong, in fact some people dont even care about that. I have heard opinions from people that literally had no clue what they were talking about. I learn from all of this since its my pirate way. Oftentimes someone close to me will say "if I only had one of your meals I would consider myself lucky" and to which I respond "but you do and you dont even know it."

Once everyone is adequately confused you proceed to throw together some leftovers. Yeah you heard it - leftovers. Leftovers should not have the negative stigmata that they are so keen to attract. Leftovers should be given the same guardianship that they were afforded when they were not leftovers. Chop up some celery, some cilantro, some onion and smash in some soda crackers.

Take that old leftover pistachio crusted salmon*, for instance, and chunk it up then toss in a couple of eggs and mix it along with the crackers and veggies.

Gently fold together

Make salmon cakes

Fry cakes

Plate salmon cake with a little cucumber and carrot salad and float it in a nice orange/ginger and butter glaze. Leftovers given the respect they need is what I am talking about.

*pistachio crusted salmon is leftover from a party I worked whereby 350 guests were fed delicious pistachio crusted salmon, miso glazed halibut and various other assorted delicacies but by some small stroke of oversight there were some things leftover.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

fully Enchanted and back in the Apple

Our little trip to the Land of Enchantment was unexpected, sudden and now over too quickly. Without going into too much detail we had to go and it wasnt for fun but that didnt stop us from enjoying everything New Mexico has to offer. If you are talking scenic vistas thats a given, cool crisp and clean air as well but whats the biggest draw when you get home - the food!

Of course we had all kinds of things at all kinds of places but nothing and I mean absolutely nothing beats eating at my moms house. One of the biggest all time favorites is the green chile and cheese tortilla burger. Now dont go and try and capitalize on my idea and think you can start a franchise because you will run into a little opposition, worse than cinco de mayo, worse than whatever you think is worse and then more worse than that.

The beef needs to be shaped so that it fits in the tortilla better then you add a little green chile and some grated cheese.

Cooked to perfection you can then add whatever you have around, from guacamole on down but dont forget the yellow mustard the mayo and some onions, lettuce and tomato - now this is one damn good burger.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I am a cultural journey but I only go as far as a taco will take me

Redefining what we know best is probably one of the best ways to contribute to our own cultures and I like to make my contributions to the food of my people. Mexican food is such a loose description for a multitude of dishes and styles of preparation and that is only in Mexico. Mexican food in the USA is something else entirely because you have TexMex, CalMex, ArizonaMex and NewMexicoMex and out of all of these it is only the TexMex that has a cool name. Particular as I am I think that New Mexico makes the best out of all these other versions since we have readily available our own hot chiles that grow exclusively in the Land of Enchantment, if you dont believe me then look it up in Wikipedia. Ok enough of this business of which state makes the best southwestern food - I think we are all on the same page now.

Enchiladas are a big hit and always a favorite and they typically look like this when you order them out. (you might notice that this is the second time I am comparing foods and you would be right, in fact I might keep on doing this for quite some time so get used to it) Now these certainly do look good and they will do in a pinch but this isnt how I like to see them.

Enchiladas Suizas are simply a rolled corn tortilla with cheese and or chicken and then covered with a creamy sauce, chile and more cheese - incredibly simple and from a cost perspective incredibly cheap to make.

I like to serve things a little lighter, a little brighter and a little healthier after all I want to look as good as my food, dont you?

Stick around I am on a roll here showing you how good this stuff can really be, Mexican food does not have to be glop on a plate, it can be refined looking, healthy and tasty beyond your wildest dreams.

Maybe some of you remember when Billy Chrystal did Fernando Lamas on Saturday Night Live and he would say "you look mahvelous, you really do" well thats where I am coming from. Eat, light, eat bright and eat right and you too will look "mahvelous!"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

say hello to my little friend - or is that sey hallo tu maij leetle frend?

Rellenos are my buddies. Stuffed peppers baby, one of my favorites. If I go to a Mexican restaurant - and its rare that I do - I always order a chile relleno, I dont care how bad they are I always have to have a relleno. For the most part those rellenos are a roasted chile pepper stuffed with cheese and fried, a very good starting point, but I like to turn those babies upside down.

Most of you have probably seen a typical platter from a Mexican restaurant - entree, rice and beans with a little shredded lettuce and some diced tomato or a pico de gallo - pretty standard. What if you put those goodies inside of the pepper instead? It could work, a little protein substitution and bada bing bada boom.

For starters the chiles, poblanos in this case, need to be roasted and when I say "poblanos in this case" I am not singling these guys out, no - all chiles are better roasted unless you are making relish.

Stuff them in a plastic bag, a paper bag or put under a moist towel - or do what I did and tear a paper bag open and wet it before covering the hot roasted chiles.

After the chiles have cooled you can peel them under running water and the skins will slide right off, at this point stuff them. I stuffed them with house ground chicken, skin and fat and all, roasted and chopped poblano chile, a mix of grated mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, herbs and spices like green onion and salt and secrets galore with a nice base of toasty brown rice.

Flour them then egg them then flour them again.

Fry them to golden perfection. You are now ready to plate them up but before we do that I have a little contest and the winner will get a prize, if the prize is more important than the contest then you should disqualify yourself now but if you like a mysterious challenge then proceed. Modern decor didnt wake you up Bathroom cabinets meant nothing to you, why would a handful of baubles be any different?

What are these? (hint) they come in other shapes as well. [I didnt zoom in because I want this to be as easy as possible - there is one person out there that might know and I have to disqualify her before hand - sorry] The answer is one word.

Chiles rellenos they way I have grown to like them - fat and large and full of flavor.
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