Green Chili

As my readers know, I grew up in Texas, the birthplace of chili.  In Texas we make what is known as red chili.  Proper Texas chili has no beans (perhaps I shouldn’t, but I must admit that beans in a chili don’t offend me), and it is always a tomato based sauce with beef.  I grew up eating versions of red chili.  Recently, I learned about green chili.  This chili originated in the state of New Mexico.  It has no tomatoes, and uses pork instead of beef.  The green comes from green chiles (a lot of them!) and tomatillos.

One day I got it in my head that I wanted to make this chili and see what it was all about.  So I ventured to Whole Foods for the ingredients.  I walked out of there with an armload of chiles and a big hunk of pork shoulder.  I think the checkout girl was wondering if I was making weapons at home!

I spent a lovely afternoon simmering this chili, making the whole house smell delectable.  I still wasn’t sure what to expect as far as taste.  Let me tell you, it was sooo good.  Spicy and fiery from the chiles, succulent tender pork shoulder, all enveloped with a thick gravy that was cooked to a perfect consistency.  We fought over the leftovers.  Green chili is distinctly different from red chili, but I highly recommend it!  I do apologize for the picture, for whatever reason it didn’t photograph well.  Do not let that dissuade you from trying it.  Enjoy!

Source: The Homesick Texan blog (not cookbook)

4 lbs of boneless pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb of poblano peppers (about 5)
4-10 serrano peppers stemmed and seeded (I used 8)
4-10 jalapeno peppers stemmed and seeded (I used 8)
1 lb tomatillos cut in 1/8ths (about 6 to 8)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tablespoons of cumin
2 tablespoon of Mexican oregano
2/3 to 1 cup of cilantro
2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of dark beer
1/4 cup of masa harina
Salt and white pepper to taste
Peanut oil, olive oil or lard for frying

Roast the poblanos over the flame on a gas stove, until blackened, and then place in a mixing bowl, cover with seran wrap and leave alone for about 20 minutes. After this, the skins will come right off. Then dice the peeled poblanos, removing seeds and membranes. Meanwhile, dice the jalapenos and serranos in a small food processor or by hand. Mix them with the diced poblano.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, saute the onion in peanut oil until cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more. Turn off the pot.
In a cast-iron skillet, lightly brown the pork on each side in lard (or the fat of your choice – I used canola oil) for a couple of minutes and then add to the soup pot. You will probably have to do this in batches.
Once all the pork has been lightly browned and added to the soup pot, add two cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of dark beer. Also throw in the pot the tomatillos, 3 tablespoons of cumin, 1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano and half of your chile mixture.
Turn on the stove to medium and bring chili to a boil and then turn heat down to low.
Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
After an hour, add 3 tablespoons of cumin, 1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano, 1/3 cup of cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for half an hour uncovered on low, stirring occasionally. At this point, you’ll probably notice a nice brown oil slick on the top of the pot. Skim the fat by sticking in a ladle and dragging it over the surface. This isn’t foolproof, but it gets rid of most of the fat.
After half an hour, throw in the rest of the green chiles in the pot and add another 1/3 cup of cilantro. Cook for another half an hour to 45 minutes.
In a separate dish, mix the masa harina with some of the chili liquid until a thick paste is formed. Slowly stir this into the chili until it’s well incorporate without any lumps. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Garnish with crumbled Cotija cheese and sour cream.

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Orange Blossom Waffles

Welcome to another repeat meal Wednesday!  I’ve made these waffles several times, sometimes for company, and they are always a big hit.  Orange blossom water is the secret ingredient, and it can be obtained at international grocers or online.  The other thing that makes these waffles so delectable is that you separate the egg yolks and whites and whip the whites before folding them into the batter.  This makes for fluffy, airy waffles.  I would actually recommend doing that for any waffles you make; the end result is really worth the little bit of extra time and mess it takes to do that.  I love these waffles drizzled with honey instead of maple syrup, the honey really compliments the orange flavor.  Enjoy!

Source: Padma Lakshmi, “Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet”

4 large eggs, separated
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
3 tbs orange blossom water
Honey and confectioners’ sugar, for serving

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, then add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well with a whisk.
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the whites into the batter, then stir in the orange blossom water.
Cook the waffles according to manufacturer’s instructions on your waffle iron. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and drizzle with honey to serve.

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Tilapia Ceviche

I have fond memories of the first time I tried ceviche.  San Pedro, Belize, May 2010.  I was eating lunch with Matt after doing some exploring of the town in a rented golf cart.  We got lunch in this little seafood shack right on the beach with beautiful views.  Matt was actually the one to order it, but never fear, I ate several bites.  We both really enjoyed it.  It was fresh, clean, citrusy, and a touch spicy from the habaneros that Belizeans love so much.

I really didn’t know about ceviche growing up.  We didn’t eat much seafood; BUT, all things considered, I doubt I’d have touched this dish with a ten foot pole even if I had been exposed to it.  It’s a Mexican specialty that has easily migrated to other Central American countries and Caribbean islands.  Ceviche means that seafood has been “cooked” in citrus juice.  It is never exposed to a traditional heat source for cooking it.  Up until my mid-twenties, I would have considered it raw and stayed far away.  I’m very glad I have changed my mind, because ceviche is delicious, easy, and healthy!  Our waiter in Belize told us that ceviche is usually consumed after a long night of drinking.  That hasn’t ever been my experience of it, but I can attest to the sheer pleasure of eating it with an icy cold beer.

You can use a variety of seafood for ceviche, really whatever you want.  I’ve seen white fish, swordfish, tuna, shrimp, squid, and crab.  This particular recipe called for tilapia, and that’s one of my favorite fishes, so I happily obliged.  This recipe allowed 15 minutes for “cooking” and I would probably allow up to at least 30 minutes.  I served my ceviche in the traditional manner: the fish itself is in a drinking glass with corn tortillas and lime wedges alongside.  You can use the tortillas as is, and eat this like a taco, or you can fry or grill them and serve it tostada style.  It will be delicious either way.  Enjoy!

Source: Marcela Valladolid, “Fresh Mexico”

2 lbs. very fresh tilapia, cut into a small dice
15 limes; 14 halved, 1 cut into wedges
1/2 cup chopped, seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped, seeded cucumber
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and black pepper
1 tbs bottled hot sauce (I use Cholula)
Corn tortillas, for serving
Sour cream
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, thinly sliced

Place the tilapia in a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lime halves over the fish and mix gently to combine. Chill in the refrigerator until the fish is white throughout, about 30 minutes.
Drain off the lime juice, gently squeezing the fish with your hands. Discard the lime juice. Mix the tomato, cucumber, jalapeno, onion, and cilantro with the fish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the hot sauce and mix gently.
Spread the tortillas generously with the sour cream, then top with the ceviche. Arrange the avocado on top and serve immediately with lime wedges alongside.

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Roast Chicken with Shallot-Garlic Butter

In my house, we absolutely adore a whole roast chicken.  Our local grocery store sells a brand of chicken that is farmed responsibly, raised without antibiotics, sourced locally so there is a small carbon footprint, and tastes delicious when cooked.  So we buy them as often as possible, we’re happy to support them and give them our business.  Compound butter is one of the best ways to easily prep a whole chicken for maximum flavor.  The beautiful thing about compound butter is that you can flavor it however you want.  You are only limited by your imagination.  You can make it herb-heavy, you can use spices, you can use tons of garlic and even ginger.  How it works is you simply mix your flavorings with softened butter and then stick huge gobs of it under the skin of the breasts and dot it over the legs and thighs.  Most recipes will say to evenly spread the butter over the legs and thighs.  I’ve tried many times, and I just don’t know their secret for making the butter remain on the chicken and not come off onto your fingers.  If anyone knows how this works, please leave a comment and let me know!  I’ve found it’s far less frustrating to just dot the butter around and let the hot oven do the work.  This particular compound butter was very flavorful and the chicken was so moist and tender.  It’s a winner for us.  Enjoy!

Source: Emeril Lagasse, “20-40-60”

4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbs minced shallots
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 whole chicken, about 3-4 lbs, excess fat and giblets removed, rinsed and patted dry

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a small bowl, combine the butter with the shallots, parsley, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Place a dab (about 1 tbs) of butter inside the cavity of the chicken, then sprinkle the cavity with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Use your fingers to gently loosen the skin covering the breast, and place 1/2 tbs of butter under the skin on each side of the breast. Use another tbs to dot each of the legs and thighs. Reserve the remaining tbs for brushing on the cooked chicken.
Tuck the wing tips behind the bird and tie the legs securely together with kitchen twine. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper all over the chicken. Set in a large shallow roasting pan or a large cast-iron skillet. Roast in the oven until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast, not touching bone, reads 165 F. Remove the chicken and dot the remaining compound butter over it. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Carve it and serve it!

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Smashed and Fried Lemon-Herbs Potatoes

These potatoes were life-changing.  I absolutely loved them, and will most definitely serve them to company sometime.  Nice and crispy on the outside, almost like a good potato chip, but creamy and moist on the inside, and drizzled with a lemon-parsley vinaigrette.  They were so yummy.  All in all, they were pretty healthy too.  The skins are left on, and we all know there are many nutrients in potato skins.  And while the insides tasted like the fluffiness of mashed potatoes, they contained none of the fattening dairy that usually accompanies mashed potatoes.  This recipe does require two steps and two pots, but it’s really not complicated and anyone can pull this off.  The recipe instructs you to smash the potatoes with your hands, but I used a round drinking glass and would use that again.  I used baby Yukons, but baby red potatoes would work nicely too, your preference.  Enjoy!
Source: “Weeknights with Giada” by Giada de Laurentiis

2 lbs. baby potatoes, Yukon or red
1/4 cup plus 3 tbs EVOO
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Grated zest of 2 lemons
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste

Put the potatoes in a large stockpot with enough salted, cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to dry for 5 minutes. Using your palm or the bottom of a drinking glass, gently press each potato until they are all lightly smashed.
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup EVOO on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until it’s fragrant and lightly brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard. In batches, add the potatoes and cook, without stirring for 5 to 8 minutes, until the bottoms turn golden brown. Using a flat spatula, turn the potatoes over and cook another 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter once cooked.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining EVOO (3 tbs), along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.
Spoon the dressing over the potatoes and serve immediately.

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No Bake, (Almost) Dairy-Free Chocolate Silk Pie

This is another recipe I made several years ago, before my blogging days.  But it’s so good and unique, and we have never stopped talking about it, so it definitely deserves to be blogged.  I love chocolate silk pie, it’s so decadent and rich.  This one cuts calories by using silken tofu (!!!) and there is no baking at all!  You just need a blender.  And never fear, the flavor and richness do not get sacrificed.  I found this one in my book “Food Network All-Stars” and it was submitted by Alton Brown, the mad scientist, evil genius cook with the awesome tweets.

I still remember the first time I made this.  I was incredibly skeptical, as I do not care for tofu at all.  I remember wondering if it would blend thoroughly, if it would retain any tofu taste (such as there is).  I remember being beyond delighted and maybe a little surprised at the spectacular results.  I marveled at the ease of making such an impressive dessert.  I wasn’t the most experienced cook back then, and I simply couldn’t believe it came together so seamlessly.  I raved about it to anyone who asked (and probably a few people who didn’t ask).

A month or so after I made it, Matt and I headed down to Texas to visit my family for Christmas.  I offered to make this pie for everyone, feeling certain they would love it as much as we did.  It actually turned out to be a humbling experience, for that’s when I learned that you MUST use a blender, and only a blender, to make this pie properly.  I hadn’t realized my parents did not own one at that time, and for some dumb reason, hadn’t thought to ask beforehand.  D’oh!  So I tried to make the filling first with a hand mixer, then with an immersion blender.  Neither worked.  The tofu never really blended, and there were white flecks all throughout the chocolate.  The texture was a little chunky and not smooth and rich as it should be.  It was…..okay.  You can probably imagine no one sought seconds.  Lesson was learned!  But when you make the pie with a blender, the way Alton Brown instructs, it is a rich little slice of chocolate heaven.  And the following year, I gave my parents a blender for Christmas.  Enjoy!

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup coffee liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) block of silken tofu
1 tbs honey
1 (9 inch) prepared chocolate wafer crust

Place a small to medium heat-proof bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Melt the chocolate and liqueur in the bowl. Stir in the vanilla.
Combine the tofu, chocolate mixture, and honey in a blender and puree until smooth.
Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until the filling is set.

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Chipotle Rosemary-Skewered Shrimp

These shrimp look all innocent but do not let them fool you.  They were SPICY!!  So tasty, but oh so hot and fiery.  Not for the faint of heart.  We both loved them though.  Using rosemary stems as the skewer was a creative touch.  You want really sturdy stems for this.  I found this in a new cookbook, “Fresh Mexico” by break-out Food Network star Marcela Valladolid, host of the weekend morning cooking show “Mexican Made Easy”.  I’ve come to really enjoy her show.  And, since I’m obsessed with Mexican food, I knew I wanted her two books.  This was the first dish I made from “Fresh Mexico” and it makes me really look forward to the rest of the recipes in there.  If you like spicy food, enjoy!

15 fresh rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp chipotle chile powder
Salt and black pepper
1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Lime wedges, for serving

Remove the leaves from half the length of each rosemary sprig and set the sprigs aside. Chop enough of the leaves to make 1 1/2 teaspoons.
Combine the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, chipotle powder, and chopped rosemary in a medium bowl. Season the marinade with salt and pepper to taste. Add the shrimp and toss until coated. Let stand for 5 minutes. Then skewer the shrimp on rosemary sprigs.
Heat your grill to medium-high and oil the grate. Add the skewers and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until firm to the touch and opaque. Transfer the skewers to a platter, garnish with lime wedges and serve immediately with lots of cold beer.

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Peruvian Grilled Chicken

It seems that Peruvian food has been coming into vogue over the past few years. That is just fine with me, as I would love to learn more about Central and South American food in general. I know a lot about Mexican food, a little bit about Caribbean food, and almost nothing about their neighbors to the south. If this chicken dish is any indication, I’ll be cooking more recipes from Peru! It was quite tasty, and incredibly easy, too. I found it in an old magazine from 2007, actually. Gourmet magazine, which I think is now defunct (but I’m not sure), is a magazine I’ve never subscribed to. But I have picked up a couple of issues. Several years ago they put out an issue that was nothing but Latino recipes!! It covers dishes from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, El Salvador, Peru, and probably some more I’m forgetting. It’s so cool. And this chicken dish came from that issue. I highly recommend trying it; as you’ll see, the ingredients aren’t exotic and you probably have them lying around already. Enjoy!

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbs fresh lime juice
5 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 lbs., quartered
Lime wedges, for serving

In the blender, puree soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and oil. Place chicken in a large resealable bag; pour marinade over it. Seal bag and marinate in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours.
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and oil the grate. Place the chicken on the grill skin side down. Don’t disturb for at least 10 minutes. You want the skin nice and crispy. Turn and cook until a thermometer registers 165 F when inserted in the middle of the thigh not touching bone. This takes around 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove and let rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board before cutting and serving.
Squeeze lime wedges over the chicken if desired.

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Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

I’ve been cooking a lot longer than I’ve been blogging.  As such, there are some dishes we’ve had in my pre-blogging days that were beyond delicious, that we still talk about, and they absolutely deserve a space on my blog.  So, for the next few months, I’ll blog a “repeat dish” once a week.

My first repeat dish is this salsa.  It comes from Bobby Flay’s “Boy Meets Grill”.  In his book, the salsa is designed to accompany a grilled chicken dish, which is how we initially made it.  However, years later, neither of us remember the chicken, just the salsa.  It’s great with just chips for dipping.  This salsa is incredibly fresh, flavorful and clean tasting.  The only downside is that, because of the avocado, leftovers don’t work.  But the upside is, you probably won’t have any.  Enjoy!

3 large, Haas avocados, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 large tomatillos, husked, washed and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
3 tbs fresh lime juice
3 tbs finely minced fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and gently stir to mix thoroughly. Serve immediately at room temperature.

I fried my own chips for this, but of course store bought tortilla chips are fine. If you want to make your own, simply buy a package of white corn tortillas and cut each into four wedges. Pour some flavorless oil, like canola, into your deep fryer and heat to about 350 F. Fry the chips about a minute a side, maybe 90 seconds. Remove and drain on paper towels. Salt them as you drain them in batches. They are so delicious and worth the extra effort if you have time.

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Mushroom Chorizo Queso Fundido

I found this one in Rachael Ray’s “Look and Cook” and we both loved it.  First of all, I’ve never met a queso fundido that I disliked.  I can’t imagine there being anything to dislike.  It’s flavored melted cheese scooped up and eaten in a warm tortilla.  Melty, gooey, satisfying Mexican spiced cheese.  Secondly, this one had great ingredients, so how could it go wrong?  For her recipe, Rachael added glorious Mexican chorizo, one of my favorite ingredients (and a common feature of queso fundido).  She also included mushrooms, which is not terribly common, though not unheard of either.  It was really a great marriage.  The earthy mushrooms, spicy sausage and gooey cheese blended harmoniously and made for a terrific guilty pleasure of a snack.  To serve, use a spoon to scoop up the cheese and fill a warm flour tortilla or a crispy tortilla chip.  The tortilla is more traditional, but it’s tasty either way.  Enjoy!

Drizzle of EVOO
1/2 lb. Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1 cup diced pepper Jack cheese
2 scallions, sliced, for garnish
Flour tortillas or tortilla chips

Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat with the EVOO. Crumble in the chorizo and break up with a potato masher until no traces of pink remain. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain off all but 2 tbs fat. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned and tender.
Transfer the chorizo and mushrooms to a small baking dish. Add the cheese. Place under the broiler until browned and bubbly and completely melted. This only takes a couple of minutes, so don’t walk away. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.

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