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Fresh Mex

First of all I want to apologize for abandoning you. Since I last spoke to you a lot has happened. I’ve started a new job that I love (more than I hate) & I’m engaged! It’s been an interesting few months, and it feels good to be back. Moving on with what’s really important— THE FOOD!!!
FRESH MEX! I love it when you start to spring coming around. There’s still a bit of a chill in the air, but nothing calls in the warm weather like using the grill. On the menu: Grilled Chicken Breasts (any cut will do, but I’m on “Bride Food” so you’ll be seeing a lot of boneless/skinless), marinated in a double duty lime dressing, grilled corn salad, and left over Spanish Rice (you’ll get that recipe soon, I promise).

The beginings of great flavor!

First the marinade/dressing.
• 4 tbs. of canola oil
• Juice of 1 ½ limes
• 1 tsp of honey
• ½ of jalapeno (I like to keep the seeds and white part, I’m spicy like that)
• 2 tbs. of cilantro (didn’t make to the photo shoot; I had Marc grab some as I was setting the stage.)
• Salt

I like to make the marinade/dressing first so all the ingredients make nice with each other, even if it’s just a few minutes. Taste it, make sure you like it, that it’s not too sweet, or sour. In fancy terms you’re tasting for balance.

For the marinade/dressing mince the jalapeno. You don’t want chunks of jalapeno you want the heat and flavor to be present throughout.

Macerate the garlic. There’s something very theraputic about doing this I think everyone should forego their garlic press and try it!

Helping Garlic reach it's Potential

You know it's gonna be good!

I do this by mincing it finely, then sprinkling it a tiny bit of kosher salt. The salt draws out the oils from the garlic. I then take the side of the blade of my knife and spread it back and forth on the cutting board until it becomes a paste.
Throw all the ingredients into the bowl and whisk together.

Fire up the grill, and throw on the corn I like a medium high flame on the top rack. If your grill doesn’t have one, just adjust the flame to medium. Shut the grill and keep the corn on for about 20 minutes, remembering to turn it every 5-7min.

Before A Beating

& After

Get out your huge chicken breast and cut its width in half. When you have two halves of

Put your chicken in a shallow bowl and add half of your dressing. Let your chicken marinade for about 5 minutes, not too long, you don’t want the acid from the lime juice to cook the chicken. Grill the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. Take it off the grill and cover with foil to keep warm.

For the Salad
• Dice 2 ripe tomatoes
• 2 ears of grilled corn
• Handful of spinach (not necessary, but I try to get some green in)
• Cup of black beans drained. (I wish I had some, but didn’t)
• ¼ cup queso fresco (if you don’t have any a mild feta would do)

Once the corn is done cut all the kernels off. I do this by standing the cob on end on the cutting board while holding the other end with a clean kitchen towel. From the top, cut straight down, and turn the cob, and cut again. Do this until you’ve gone all the way around the corn.

Throw in the tomatoes and grilled corn in with what’s left from the dressing you made. If you are more fortunate than I am, this would also be the time to through in your beans. Make sure it all gets covered with the dressing. Next is the Spinach, if you shall choose. Toss everything.
Plate and garnish with queso fresco.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Notice the lacke of Grill marks. The grill wasn't hot enough. That's how we learn.

 

Thank you for coming back, and I promise more recipes sooner than later!

Blanco Pizzetta

This Pizzetta, is inspired by the variety of gourmet pizza’s that seem to be infiltrating the Bay Area’s food scene. I’m going for a white pizza with leeks, potatoes, and bacon.

I don’t like to mess around with dough; frankly I don’t have that kind of patience. Plus, these Middle Eastern flatbreads are the perfect size for single servings.

For the white sauce:

  • 2 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup of parmesan
  • 1tbs of chopped sage
  • 1 clove of garlic finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste (not shown)

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the flour. Cook the flour for a couple of minutes. Add in your cream and milk. Next, the thyme and garlic go in and this is how the sauce gets it flavor. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and stir it. The sauce should thicken. Test it with the back of a wooden spoon. Melt in your parmesan and then season to taste.

Now to prep your toppings:

  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1tbs of olive oil (not shown)
  • 2 leeks finely sliced
  • 3 small potatoes thinly sliced soaked in water for a few minutes
  • 1 clove of garlic, just crushed
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 1 cup of grated Fontina cheese
  • Salt and pepper (not shown)

Chop up your bacon and then sauté it in a pan, so it gets nice and crisp. After your bacon has reached your desired crispness, remove it and set it aside. Add a little olive oil to the pan to avoid it from smoking, and then add your leeks and sauté on low for about 15-20 min. You are aiming for a very soft consistency. As the leeks are getting worked, let’s get to the potatoes.

Thoroughly drain the potatoes. & now it’s time to fry’em up. This works best in a cast iron skillet, (if you don’t have one, GET ONE! I don’t know how lived without one before.) Heat up some olive oil with the thyme and garlic and pan fry the slices of potatoes. (I saw Thomas Keller do this once —he’s such a master) I also seasoned them as they were cooking, careful not to over crowd the pan, this will prevent them from getting slightly crispy. You can cook them in batches if necessary adding in some olive oil as necessary)

Now it’s the fun part the PIZZA ASSEMBLY LINE!

 

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Take your flatbread, spread some sauce, top it with the cheese, leeks, potatoes, and bacon—and a lil’more cheese

Bake in @ 400ooven for 5-7 minutes.
You may use a pizza stone if you have one, if not, put it directly on the rack with the baking pan on the rack below to catch any possible melting cheese. Having the bottom of the crust exposed will ensure a delightfully crisp crust.

 

This pizza is so good, that even a deep dish Chicagoan like Marc loves it!

all dressed up

I can’t remember the last time I actually bought salad dressing. Salad dressing is so easy to make, and it’s a lot better for you when you make it yourself. Here’s my own “house dressing”

2 parts extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup) to 1 part balsamic vinegar (1/4 cup)

 

 

 

1 tsp of salt, plus additional for the garlic

½ tsp of freshly ground pepper

1 large clove of garlic

1tsp of Dijon

½ tsp of honey

Finely mince the garlic, then with the back of a knife grind it to a paste, a sprinkle of kosher salt helps this process. The salt draws out the oils of the garlic.

Put all your ingredients into a bottle or jar and shake. So simple and full of flavor! A little goes a long way, so go easy when dressing your salad. This lasts up 2 weeks in the fridge. If you know you are having salad that night, be sure to let it sit out for 15 minutes, the olive oil will solidify in the fridge, but as soon as it gets to room temp, it’s fine. If you forget to take it out, run the bottle under warm water. And just like the stuff from the store, shake well before each use.

The other night, when I came home from my night class I was craving something sweet. I didn’t want to make a big mess just a quick dessert.  I live with a champion snacker with an insane sweet tooth; a.k.a. “The Cookie Monster!”  So, of course there was nothing to statisfy my need for sweets!

I opened the fridge and I drew inspiration from this can of pancake batter, Marc bought for me. (He had a neighbor that promoted this product and he was eager for me to try it) Pancakes stuffed with bananas, yum! It was like having a crepe. The batter in a can, isn’t as fluffy as the real deal, but I thought it would be perfect for a thin crepe like texture. TA-DAH! A great snack idea to ease my craving:

The pancake:

The Stuffing:

  • 1 banana sliced ½ inch pieces
  • 1tbs maple syrup
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Mix the banana slices, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a bowl so the bananas are well coated.

Lightly butter the pan and warm up your banana mixture. You are trying for a thick warm consistency.Prep your pancake pan, on medium low heat, and just cook your pancakes like you would normally.

Once your pancakes are done place your banana stuffing in the middle of the pancake creating a line.

Then, roll the sides of the pancake around it.

Take a bite its sooo good!

getting stuffed

Woah, what a busy week!  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t cook—I did! I just didn’t have the time to stop and take pictures of everything and then write about it. Sorry, I’ll be better about it next week.  So to make up for it, I’ll share one of the best things I made stuffed chicken breast with sausage and mushroom, thyme gravy, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots.

Does the stuffing look familiar? It’s left over from the stuffed mushrooms, and the base of the gravy is the compound butter I used for Marc’s birthday dinner.  I love inventing meals based on stuff I had left over, I didn’t have to run out to the store, and it was so easy to make—really!

I like to start with the starch first because, it takes the longest to cook.  I prefer to keep the skins on because that’s where all the nutrients are.  Once, I did peel the potatoes, and Marc felt that they weren’t as good.

These are the ingredients I grabbed for the photo shoot, the stars of the meal:

  • about a cup of sausage mushroom stuffing
  • 1/8 of a cup of compound butter
  • a few small potatoes
  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • a handful of parsley
  • baby carrots

     

    The basics that did not make the picture:

    • salt
    • pepper
    • flour
    • chicken stock
    • dash of Worcestershire
    • pat of unsalted butter
    • splash of milk
    • drizzle of olive oil

To start cooking':  Cut the potatoes into large chunks, and put them into a pot of cold water (always start with cold water so the potatoes will cook evenly), and a large pinch of salt.  Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, until it’s fork tender.

As that’s cooking, take your carrots and cut them lengthwise into 2in. pieces. Finely chop your parsley (set aside some for garnish). Place your carrots on a baking sheet, and lightly coat with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Put them in a 400O oven
for 15-20min.

For the chicken breast, carefully cut a pocket into it with a paring knife.  Then, take your stuffing and do just that—stuff the chicken breast with it!  (For the stuffing recipe: http://atebyate.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/stalling-with-snacks/ )  Next, salt and pepper a few tablespoons of flour, and lightly coat the chicken.  This will give the chicken a nice crust that will go well with the gravy.  (If you’re watching your calories, you can just season each side with salt and pepper) In a pan, add a little pat of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. (The olive oil prevents the butter from burning.) Once the butter has melted and the oil is hot place the chicken in the pan, and cook for about 3 minutes on each side.  Take the chicken out of the pan, and onto a baking sheet.  Finish cooking the chicken in a 350 O oven, for another 10min.  While that’s finishing, I get the compound butter, (http://atebyate.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/happy-birthday-marc/) and equal parts of flour and cook it in a pan for about a minute.  Then, I whisk in about ½ – 2 cups of chicken stock and season to taste.  If the gravy doesn’t have the depth of flavor that I want I add a dash of Worcestershire, which I did to with this gravy. 

Take the potatoes and drain well, and smash them with a splash of milk, 2tbs. of butter, and salt and pepper. 

At this point everything should be done. Plate your potatoes, then your chicken, next the carrots.  Pour your delicious gravy over your stuffed chicken and potatoes sprinkle with parsley and EAT!!!


Have you ever come across a recipe that you would love to make, but don’t have all the necessary ingredients?  I experience this frustration all the time. I solve this common problem by cross referencing. 

As I was watching Rachel Ray one day she made this delicious side dish of gnocchi, which reminded me of a Giada recipe that I saw months prior.  It was the browned butter and sage sauce that reminded me of Giada’s dish.  With the two recipes in mind, I felt driven to combine the two, and this is what I came up with: Roasted Butter Nut Squash with Gnocchi, in a Sage Browned Butter Sauce.

First I coated the squash with olive oil and sprinkled some salt and pepper.

Then, I roasted it in a 400O oven for about 20 minutes.   Next, I cook the gnocchi per the instructions on the package.  (No, I don’t make everything from scratch.  Every home cook needs help.)

Once, the gnocchi and the squash is done, I dump them in a mixing bowl, and start the sauce.  

For the sauce, I melt enough butter to coat the sage and the gnocchi, ½ to ¾ of a cup of butter.  Pay very close attention to the butter, as soon as it starts to bubble and turn very light brown (about 5 min.) drop in the sage and take it off the heat, and stir for about a min.  Then, pour your sauce over the gnocchi and squash and mix until they are thoroughly coated.  Depending on your gnocchi you may to season with salt or pepper.  The gnocchi I had, was flavored with parmesan, which is a bit a salty, thus there was no need for me to add any salt.

Here are the recipes that I cross referenced: (Giada De Laurentiis: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/butternut-squash-tortellini-with-brown-butter-sauce-recipe/index.html  Rachel Ray: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/recipes/sage-butter-gnocchi/ )

I would like to mention that I have started school this week, so please forgive me for not being as diligent with my posts.  Thank you for checking and be sure to visit again soon!

stalling with snacks

We had a surprise guest for Marc’s birthday week— his brother!  Marc’s brother lives out of state, and it’s been quite a long time since they have seen each other.  To make sure the surprise went off without a hitch I had to stall Marc before I got the okay to procede to the restaurant.  How can I stall a hungry man from going to dinner?  Snacks!  But not just chips, it had to be something delicoius enough to stop him from wanting to  leaving the house.  Stuffed mushrooms did the trick!


• 1 lb of mushrooms
• Handful of parsley finely chopped
• ¾ cup of freshly grated parmesan
• ½ a shallot (depending on the size)
• ½ a garlic (depending on the size)
• 2 links of sausage out of the casings and browned (I was at the market yesterday and saw these “Vino & Formaggio Sausage” I had to try it.)
• 1 cup of bread crumbs
• Salt and pepper to taste

In the picture shown, there’s a piece of a French bread. I didn’t have bread crumbs but just a few pulses in my little food processor and—TA-DAH, bread crumbs. I mixed the fresh bread crumbs with the chopped parsley and place it in a mixing bowl and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Take the sausage out of the casing, and brown:
After the sausage has cooled pulse it in the food processor for a couple of seconds. You are aiming for a fine texture that will blend well with the bread crumbs.
When cleaning the mushrooms, do not run them underwater. Mushrooms have a sponge-like texture and will absorb the water, thus ruin the delicate flavor and texture. Just take a clean cloth and wipe them. After the mushrooms are clean separate the stems and from the caps. Finely chop the stems.

Sauté the chopped stems with the garlic and shallot in the same pan as the sausage. This will add sausage flavor to the mushrooms. After the mushrooms have browned, lightly season them with salt and pepper, and add them to the mixing bowl along with the grated parmesan cheese.
In the mixing bowl you have everything you need to stuff the mushrooms.

Mix them together being careful not to crush the bread crumbs. Sample the stuffing and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Next, line the mushroom caps on a baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil on both sides.
Next, take each mushroom and scoop the stuffing into the mushroom cavity where the stem once was. I like to do this over the mixing bowl so the excess stuffing falls back into the bowl. After the mushrooms are stuffed bake for about 20 minutes.

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