Exciting News!

I’m very happy and pleased to announce that my blog has moved!  I now have my own domain.  I will still be posting delicious recipes and still talk about my travels.  I thank you so much for reading, and I hope you will continue to read at my new site.  Please join me at:

www.texannewyorker.com

Thank you again!!

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Sambal Shrimp

Sambal Oelek is one of my favorite pantry staples.  If you should ever not find it in my pantry, call someone immediately, for I am not well.  It’s an Asian fresh chile paste sold in most grocery stores these days.  I didn’t discover it until I lived in New York for a bit.  I still remember buying a bottle of it for the first time, not really knowing what it was.  I twisted the lid off, removed the safety sealant, and took a whiff.  I was in love.  I knew it would taste amazing just based on the intoxicating chile smell.  I swooned in anticipation of dipping a spoon in there and sampling it.  I adore the taste of it, and use it whenever there’s an excuse.  I will warn you that it is really hot and fiery.  A little goes a very long way.  I love it added to marinades, stir-fries, even curries.  I never use more than a couple of teaspoons at a time, if that much.  So imagine my surprise when I came across a recipe that instructed to marinate shrimp in two CUPS of this hot sauce!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Two cups.  Despite my slight nervousness, I knew I had to try it.  The results were delicious: plump, juicy shrimp with a wonderful sweet-hot Asian flavor.  The Sambal didn’t blow our heads off at all, but its flavor definitely shone through.  The shrimp were a gorgeous red color too.  I would definitely make these again.  Enjoy!

Source: Emeril Lagasse, “Emeril at the Grill”

Ingredients:
2 cups sambal oelek
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/4 cup minced or grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup mirin
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs dark Asian sesame oil
3 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbs chopped fresh mint

Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the shrimp, cilantro, and mint. Whisk well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
Place the shrimp in a large Ziploc bag and add all but 1/2 cup of the marinade. Allow the shrimp to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil the grates.
Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until they are just done, about 2-3 minutes per side. You’ll now when the backsides are opaque and they are very firm to the touch.
Transfer the cooked shrimp to a large serving bowl. Add the reserved 1/2 cup marinade, cilantro, and mint. Toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

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Yucatan Chicken Tacos with Peanut Barbecue Sauce

When you hear the phrase “peanut sauce”, most people think of Thai food.  Peanut dipping sauce is their version of our American barbecue sauce.  I think everyone has tasted it by now, and most everyone would probably agree that it’s delicious.  What I didn’t know until a few years ago, is that peanut sauce isn’t solely a southeast Asian thing.  It’s quite common in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.  Apparently it’s a favorite condiment for grilled chicken tacos.  Next time I’m there I’ll definitely be seeking them out.

Bobby Flay introduced me to this concept and dish with his “Mesa Grill Cookbook”.  I first made this several years ago, in my pre-blogging days, and wanted to do a repeat meal post to share it.  This taco is outstanding!  Juicy, charred chicken thighs are wrapped in a warm flour tortilla and topped with crunchy cabbage and a flavorful sauce that tastes like a cross between Thai peanut sauce and American barbecue sauce.  Garnish with chopped peanuts for extra crunch and to drive that peanut flavor home.  The good news is that the peanut sauce makes a ton, so freeze the extras.  You can make this dish again, or use it to baste ribs, chicken, or any pork cuts while grilling.  Enjoy!

Source: Bobby Flay, “Mesa Grill Cookbook”

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs ancho chile powder
3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
Salt and black pepper
12 (6″) flour tortillas
Red Cabbage Slaw (recipe to follow)
Peanut-Red Chile Barbecue Sauce (recipe to follow)
Chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish

Directions:
Marinate the chicken: in a large, shallow baking dish, whisk together citrus juices, oil, chile powder, and garlic. Place the chicken in the dish and turn to coat fully. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, season with salt and pepper on both sides, then grill 4-5 minutes per side, until just cooked through.
Warm the tortillas and store in a tortilla warmer or in a foil pouch.
Serve the tacos with the Slaw and Sauce; garnish with peanuts.

RED CABBAGE SLAW:
Ingredients:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 oranges)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbs honey
1/2 a head of red cabbage, finely shredded
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and black pepper

Directions:
Whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, oil, and honey in a medium bowl. Add the cabbage, onion, and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour before serving.

PEANUT RED-CHILE BARBECUE SAUCE:

Ingredients:
1 tbs canola oil
2 tbs peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups Mesa Grill Barbecue Sauce (recipe to follow), or your favorite BBQ sauce
2 cups Chicken stock
2 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
Salt and black pepper

Directions:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook until soft, 1-2 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add barbecue sauce and chicken stock, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half.
Whisk in the soy sauce and peanut butter and cook over medium heat until thickened, 15 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.

MESA GRILL BARBECUE SAUCE:
This is a really good barbecue sauce. I highly recommend making a batch, it’s very versatile and freezes just fine.

Ingredients:
2 tbs canola oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (15 oz.) cans plum tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup molasses
3 tbs Dijon mustard
3 tbs dark brown sugar
2 tbs honey
3 tbs ancho chile powder
3 tbs pasilla chile powder
1 tbs chipotle in adobo (1-2 chiles, depending on your heat level tolerance, plus some adobo sauce)
Salt and black pepper

Directions:
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a stockpot. Add the onion and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, honey, chile powders, and chipotles. Lower the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes.
Puree the mixture until smooth, either with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature. Freeze any leftovers.

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Buttermilk Ice Cream

I remember the first time I tried buttermilk.  I was visiting my grandparents’ house, something we did often.  They always, for better and for worse, let us have the run of the refrigerator and pantry; we could pretty much eat whatever we wanted.  I think I was probably around 9 years old or so, and I had never tasted or really even knew much about buttermilk.  I opened the fridge, and there sat a carton.  I looked at it for several seconds, thinking about that word, buttermilk.  I thought it sounded delicious.  Who wouldn’t want to drink that?  I got a glass out of the cupboard and poured myself a healthy amount.  It looked wonderful.  I raised the glass to my lips and took a generous drink.

You know where this is going by now.  I made it to the sink before aggressively spitting it out.  It was nasty!  So bitter and way too thick on my tongue.  I frantically started guzzling water, trying to get the sour taste out of my mouth and the unpleasant coating off my tongue.  In some ways, that day was a learning experience for me.  I learned that just because something sounds delectable, doesn’t mean it will be so.  But in other ways, that day was not a learning experience.  I decided right then and there that buttermilk was disgusting and served no purpose in life.  I was very wrong.  Buttermilk is a wonderful ingredient, just not to drink!  I use buttermilk all the time in my cooking.  It’s a terrific alternative to an egg wash before frying a piece of chicken or fish.  It works to tenderize the protein and makes the final product really moist.  I also use buttermilk as the base of dressings, particularly Ranch and Blue Cheese.  It’s also a great ingredient in biscuits, pancakes, and waffles.  So you could say that I’ve definitely revised my opinion on buttermilk.

But Buttermilk Ice Cream??  That still gave me pause.  When I ran across this recipe initially, I raised my eyebrows and turned the page.  But I had to admit it was intriguing.  I kept returning to it.  So last week, I had an almost full carton of leftover buttermilk and decided it was time to give this ice cream a try.  It was very simple to make.  I am still not completely certain if I like it or not.  I certainly don’t hate it, seeing as I managed to eat an entire bowl of it.  But the flavor is not one you’d associate with ice cream.  It’s sweet, but a bit sour, too.  The recipe suggested putting a scoop of it atop apple pie, and I can completely see how that would work beautifully.  I didn’t have any apple pie, though, and the ice cream on its own was a little odd to my palate.  But I still wanted to blog it, and I may very well make it again the next time we have apple pie.  If you are brave enough to make it, drop me a comment and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

Source: Donald Link, “Real Cajun”

Ingredients:
1 quart well-shaken buttermilk
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and chill for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze for a few hours before serving.

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Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

Time for another repeat meal post!  I first made this soup several years ago, and we were very impressed with it.  First of all, I love chicken tortilla soup.  I’ve eaten it countless times and I have very high standards for it.  I was actually initially skeptical of this particular recipe for it. The broth for this soup is usually pureed, and this recipe didn’t call for doing that. But, since “Chipotle” was in the title, I was drawn in.

It is really delicious. Maybe not quite traditional, but incredibly flavorful and certainly a nod to the original. I will also add, this version is a bit easier than the original; it’s pretty quick-cooking. I highly recommend! Enjoy!

Source: Rachael Ray, “2,4,6,8: Great Meals for Couple and Crowds”

Ingredients:
3 cups chicken stock
1 lb. chicken tenders
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tbs EVOO
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped, plus 2 tbs adobo sauce
1 (28 oz.) can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
Salt
3 to 4 cups tortilla chips, lightly crushed
2 cups shredded smoked Cheddar or mozzarella
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/2 red onion, chopped
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
Bring the stock to a simmer and add the chicken and bay leaf. Poach chicken for 6-7 minutes, until just cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat the EVOO in a medium soup pot on medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Drain excess fat, leaving 2 tbs in the pot. Add onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes, then stir in chipotles, adobo sauce, and tomatoes.
Remove chicken from poaching liquid, dice it, then add it to the tomato mixture in the soup pot. Pass the poaching stock through a strainer, then add it to the soup. Season to taste with salt.
Place a pile of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of four soup bowls. Cover the chips liberally with smoked cheese, then ladle hot soup over the top. Set out the lime wedges, red onions, cilantro, and reserved bacon bits at the table for soup garnishes.

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Moroccan Chicken and Merguez Tagine

I am absolutely DYING to go to Morocco.  I want to see both Casablanca and Marrakech, in particular.  I am fascinated by their culture.  I’ve seen tons of pictures of both those cities, and the bright colors and intricate mosaics always mesmerize me.  I want to see the camels and even the snake charmers.  I’m dying to visit the spice markets and taste their cuisine.  I find their food to be unique and utterly delicious.  It’s so fragrant and flavorful, and I love any cuisine that applauds heavy-handedness with the spice cabinet.  (Anyone who’s seen my spice cabinet is snickering right about now.  It’s fine, I stand by it.)

So far I have not been able to get myself to Morocco, but I hope to one day sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep cooking Moroccan food in my little kitchen.  Like this wonderful tagine meal.  A tagine is a word both describing a cooking vessel and a meal made in that vessel.  You’ve probably seen pictures of tagines.  They are made of clay, usually painted bright or earthy colors.  They have a round base, probably 12 inches or so, with a cone-shaped lid.  I don’t have one, and it’s fine to make tagine dishes in your Dutch oven.  A tagine meal is generally a one-pot stew.  Sometimes it’s made with chicken, sometimes with lamb, and often vegetarian.  This one in particular used a whole chicken and some merguez.  Merguez is a lamb sausage made with Moroccan spices, and it’s insanely tasty.  It can be hard to find in the States, but the company D’Artagnan makes it.  They are based in Newark, New Jersey, but they ship, so you can order some online if you can’t find it at your grocery store.  I am very lucky because my grocer actually carries a lot of their products in the packaged meat case, so I found a package of merguez there.  In America we generally serve our stews over rice or potatoes; Moroccans serve their tagines over couscous, so that’s what I did too.
There are a couple of possibly unfamiliar ingredients in this dish: preserved lemon and harissa. Preserved lemons are sold in jars at international grocers. Look for them on the international aisle, but if you can’t find one I’ve provided a substitution. Harissa is a north African condiment that is used there the way Americans use ketchup. It’s spicy! A little goes a long way. You can omit it if you want. Look for it on the international aisle in your grocery store, most have it.  Enjoy!
Source: Ted Allen, “In My Kitchen”

Ingredients:
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tsp kosher salt
1 (3 pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces (breasts halved crosswise), skin removed
2 tbs EVOO
10 oz. to 1 lb. merguez sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup plus 1 tbs chopped cilantro
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, tops removed, cored and chopped
2 tbs chopped preserved lemon, or grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbs chopped, peeled, fresh ginger
1 tbs chopped garlic
1/4 cup dried apricots or currants
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, chopped
1/2 tsp harissa
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, fennel seed, cayenne, and salt. Rub 2 teaspoons of the spice blend onto both sides of the chicken pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a tagine or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until just starting to smoke. Add the chicken and merguez and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. You’ll probably have to do this in batches.
Reduce the heat to medium-low or lower. Cover the chicken and sausage evenly with 1/4 cup cilantro, onion, fennel, preserved lemon, ginger and garlic. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, cover, and cook 15 minutes.
Add the apricots, chickpeas, and zucchini, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, cover, and cook another 15 minutes.
Add the diced tomato and bell pepper. Mix the harissa with the lemon juice; add it to the pot along with any remaining spice blend. If your dish hasn’t produced a little broth and the onions aren’t softened, raise the hit a little bit. Cover and cook another 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining cilantro over top, and serve over couscous.

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Grilled Banh Mi Sandwich

These just might be the best sandwiches on the planet.  If you’ve never tried a banh mi before, I implore you to track one down in your city as soon as possible.

The banh mi sandwich is Vietnamese street food.  They are very popular in Ho Chi Minh City and in many North American and European cities with a strong Vietnamese immigrant community.  The sandwich came about as a result of French colonization of Indochina.  It’s truly a fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors.  In New Orleans, which has a large Vietnamese community, they are called Vietnamese po’boys.

I first had one a few weeks ago, in my own city of New York.  A little bit of searching Google and Yelp led me to a small restaurant on the edges of Little Italy and Chinatown called Banh Mi Saigon.  These are apparently the best in New York you can find.  Matt and I both had a religious experience with those sandwiches.  They were so amazing.  I knew I had to make them at home sometime.

A banh mi is marinated pork that is cooked up and sliced or shredded.  The sandwich is assembled on French bread, with mayonnaise (that part is not optional!), and pickled Asian vegetables, plus some sliced cucumber and sliced jalapenos.  You can add Sriracha as a condiment if you like.  The recipe I made called for pork tenderloin to be grilled and sliced.  You could easily sub in the same amount of pork shoulder, then slow cook and shred it.  Making these at home does require some prep ahead of time, but they are much easier than I was anticipating.  I hope you will make these sometime soon.  There’s no reason to deprive yourself of such deliciousness!

Source: Emeril Lagasse “Emeril at the Grill”

Ingredients:
2 green onions, minced
1 fresh red chile, such as Fresno, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbs Vietnamese fish sauce
1 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 French baguette
Special Vietnamese Mayonnaise (recipe to follow), or plain mayonnaise
Pickled Carrots and Daikon (recipe to follow)
1 Kirby cucumber, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste

Directions:
In a resealable bag, combine the green onions, red chile, garlic, sugar, black pepper, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pork, turn to coat evenly, and seal the bag. Allow the pork to marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours and up to overnight, turning it occasionally.
Remove the pork from the marinade and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
Pat the pork dry and brush it all over with the oil. Grill the pork, turning often, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 F. Remove pork and let rest, tented with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes. Then cut it into 1/4 inch thich slices.
Cut the baguette into 4 pieces. Cut each piece in half horizontally, but don’t cut all the way through. Remove some of the interior bread so it is less dense. Spread both sides of the bread liberally with mayonnaise. Divide the sliced pork evenly among the bottom halves of the sandwiches. Top with the Pickled Carrots and Daikon, then cucumber slices, then jalapeno slices. Garnish with a few cilantro leaves, then close the sandwich. Serve immediately.

Special Vietnamese Mayonnaise
Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbs Sriracha sauce
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp Vietnamese fish sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to blend thoroughly. Serve immediately, or refrigerate a few hours to let the flavors marry more intensely.

Pickled Carrots and Daikon
Ingredients:
1 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp crushed chile flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonol
1 cup thinly sliced daikon

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, crushed chile flakes, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a non-reactive bowl or baking dish and add the carrots and daikon. Make sure they are all coated. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

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