Sweet and Spicy Fish Tacos

Fish tacos with sweet and spicy marinade as well as pineapple/red pepper/jalapeno salsa

Fish tacos with sweet and spicy marinade as well as pineapple/red pepper/jalapeño salsa

My blogging motivation disappeared on me a few months ago. It makes a brief appearance every few weeks, though. I keep waiting for it to return full force. Actually, this summer has presented loads of stress as I handled some home renovation projects (still in progress), so blogging has dropped on the priority list. I haven’t cooked nearly as much as I usually do as a result of the projects.

However, last night hubby came home from a three-day fishing trip with some fresh yellowfin tuna. Perfect time to try the grilled fish taco recipe in the recent issue of Cooks Illustrated. What a winner of a recipe, too!

The marinade, along with a couple of chile spices, includes the sweetness of orange juice and the tang of lime juice. Although it intrigued me, I wasn’t sure how hubby would react. Rather than our usual toppings of cheese and tomatoes, this called for a pineapple/red pepper/jalapeño salsa. I’m the one usually not open to unique toppings like that, but for some reason, my taste buds were in the mood for something new and different. But hubby? I thought for sure he would nix this idea.

Turns out we both really really liked this variation of our usual fish tacos. We dubbed it the Sweet and Spicy Fish Taco recipe. It provided a palatably pleasurable change of pace from our usual fare.

Sweet and spicy fish tacos

Sweet and Spicy Fish Tacos

Serves 6

Notes:

  • Rather than buy expensive bottles of the chile powders, I found small bags for much less cost near the spice section at the market.
  • Leftover fish easily freezes for another taco meal. Just place in resealable bag and remove as much air as possible before freezing.
  • This works well as a salad, too. Just omit tortillas and toss other ingredients.

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds of a skinless, meaty, dense fish, such as swordfish, mahi-mahi, tuna, or halibut
  • 16 (6-inch) tortillas

Marinade Paste 

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. ancho chile powder
  • 2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (from 1 large orange)
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • optional: I included the zest from the orange and lime

Salsa

  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 4 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. minced cilantro

Other Toppings

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced (or use any lettuce you prefer; original recipe calls for iceberg lettuce)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • cilantro, minced
  • lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fish prep: Cut fish into one-inch thick slices and one-inch wide strips. Place in bowl or resealable bag; place in refrigerator until marinade is ready.
  2. Marinade: Heat oil and both chile powders in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring continuously until fragrant and bubbles begin to form, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add oregano, coriander, minced garlic, and salt; stir for 30 seconds more.
  4. Add tomato paste, mashing it into the spices.
  5. Whisk in citrus juices (I added a bit at a time to fully incorporate it and reduce any clumping). Cook mixture for about 2 minutes, until slightly reduced, then allow to cool for 15 minutes. When cooled, add to container with fish, stirring gently to coat fish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  6. Salsa: In a small pan, roast the jalapeño, turning until charred on all sides. When jalapeño cools, remove membrane and seeds (unless you want the heat); finely mince the jalapeño. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  7. Add diced red pepper, lime juice, and minced cilantro.
  8. Cut pineapple in half, then into quarters. Cut each quarter in half. Lightly oil each strip of pineapple, then grill for 3-4 minutes per side. I grilled on the stovetop using a grill pan. However, original recipe calls for outdoor grilling. Dice grilled pineapple and add to salsa.
  9. Grilled fish: Grill fish steaks until cooked through. Grilling time will depend on how thick your slices are and what type of fish you used. I cooked yellowfin tuna for about 4-5 minutes per side. When fish is cooked through, transfer to a large plate and flake into pieces.
  10. Toppings: Prepare toppings before grilling or during grilling. Thinly slice cabbage. Cut avocado into slices. Cut lime into wedges. Mince more cilantro.
  11. Heat tortillas if desired. I like to heat tortillas in a pan on the stovetop.
  12. Fill tacos with fish, salsa, cilantro, avocado, and cabbage. Squeeze with a bit of lime. Enjoy the burst of flavors!

SOURCE: Cooks Illustrated (Sept./Oct. 2014 issue)

Veggie Bowl with Tahini & Lemon Dressing

Veggie  Bowl with Tahini Dressing

roasted veggies with a zing of tahini dressing

Dang! I totally forgot about that bundle of kale I bought last week. I discovered it languishing in the back of the fridge this morning. I managed to salvage 5 leaves from it, though, to add to the veggie bowl I had in mind when I originally bought it.

A couple of weeks ago, I lunched with a pal of mine at VeggieGrill, a healthy-style fast food place. I ordered and devoured a Harvest Bowl, which included vegetarian sausage, roasted cauliflower, steamed kale, and some kind of creamy sauce. Rather yummy, I wanted to somewhat replicate it. Not sure how close I came to imitating it, but I’m very satisfied with this version.

Best of all, this dish is highly versatile. You can use rice of your choice or quinoa or any other grain or seed. Hot or cold. As for the veggies, add your favorites. Roast ‘em, like I did, or steam them or add them fresh. See what I mean about versatility? Also, you can serve it as a meal on its own or as a side dish.

I roasted my kale along with the other veggies simply because my hunger pains were making me rush (that’s just a fancy way of saying I was lazy). However, the roasted kale added a slightly charred taste, which I enjoyed. I also wanted to add grated carrots, but in my rush of hunger I forgot. And, thankfully, I had cooked the rice the night before so I would have some on hand for the week. I often do that with rice or quinoa. Anyhow, that quickened the process as well as lessened the work load.

And the dressing? The best part! Lots of tang from both the tahini and the lemon, and then lots of pungency from the garlic. It’s a zinger of a dressing that makes the nutty rice and earthy veggies totally pop with flavor.

All in all, a bowl loaded with healthy goodies = happy belly.

Veggie Bowl with TahiniDressing2

a bowl of healthy goodies: veggies & tahini dressing

Veggie Bowl with Tahini & Lemon Dressing

Printer-Friendly Version

Note: use your favorite veggies and favorite seasonings as well as your choice of grains for this dish; the ingredients below are just a starting point

INGREDIENTS

Rice/Veggies

  • 3 cups cooked rice (brown or white) or quinoa (I used short grain brown rice which cooks up plump and chewy and nutty…I sometimes buy Lundberg brand or buy from bulk bins at Whole Foods)
  • 1 small crown of broccoli
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 5 leaves curly kale
  • olive oil
  • seasoning (I used Penzey’s Shallot Pepper, which is fantastic of all veggies, corn on the cob, and baked potatoes)

Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. tahini (which is sesame paste…I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon zest (I actually left this out)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook rice or quinoa, following directions on package. For the short grain brown rice I purchased from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, I rinsed the rice thoroughly using a strainer, then added it to a pan with 2 cups chicken broth (water or vegetable broth works, too). I brought it to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and cooked covered for 25 minutes. Keep it covered for 10 more minutes after cooking, then fluff with a fork. This makes about 3 cups cooked grains. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. Just microwave when ready to use after refrigerating if you want hot rice.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Chop broccoli and squash into bite-sized pieces; place in roasting dish. Separate kale leaves from stem, then tear into small pieces; add to dish. FYI: If you don’t want your kale charred, I suggest adding it after 10 minutes of baking. Or massage it instead to tenderize it (yep, it really works!). Or steam it.
  4. Generously drizzle olive oil over vegetables, then give a hearty sprinkling of your favorite seasoning (or I bet skipping the seasoning would be fine because the dressing gives a powerful punch of flavor). Toss to mix. Roast veggies for 15-20 minutes, until done to your desired tenderness.
  5. For Tahini Dressing: While veggies are roasting, place lemon juice, tahini, minced garlic, zest, salt, and pepper in a small food processor and pulse until mixed. Alternatively, you can just whisk with a fork until it’s all mixed. Or even easier, shake it in a container. If the dressing needs thinning, use a bit of water.
  6. When veggies finish roasting, toss with dressing, then add to rice and mix.

SOURCES: inspired by the Harvest Bowl at VeggieGrill; dressing from A Full Measure of Happiness

Beef Wellington (Classic Style)

Hubby and I spend each New Year’s Eve quietly at home, enjoying an elegant homemade dinner. This year, I opted to try Beef Wellington, a recipe I had clipped from the Jan. 2011 Fine Cooking magazine.

Beef Wellington

Beef tenderloin wrapped in chicken pâté/duxelles, crepes, and puff pastry

It just looked so yummy in the magazine: juicy red beef enveloped in flaky puff pastry crust. I knew one day I would try it.

Beef Wellington

Isn’t the baked Beef Wellington gorgeous all wrapped up in puff pastry?

Well, it’s more than just beef wrapped in puff pastry. It’s actually quite an involved recipe that takes several steps of prep (some which can be done in advance) and requires a lot of expense. See why I saved it for New Year’s Eve dinner? It’s definitely a splurge, both in cost and time.

Let me briefly explain Beef Wellington: a tender slab of center-cut beef tenderloin enveloped in a mixture of liver pâté and cooked, minced mushrooms spread onto crepes that are wrapped around the beef, which is then all wrapped into a puff pastry dough.

The pâté/mushroom mixture releases some fat into the meat as well as some savory flavor. The crepes help absorb the meat juice and keep the puff pastry crisp. It’s baked until the meat is rare,  then it is sliced and served with a savory and sweet Madeira sauce.

So, it involves buying an expensive piece of center-cut beef tenderloin, which I purchased at a local butcher shop.

I made my own beef broth, but you can easily purchase broth instead. The broth is used to make the Madeira sauce, which is poured over the cooked slices of Wellington (or you can serve the sauce in small dishes and use it for dipping, I suppose). The homemade broth can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a couple months.

Next, I bought pricey Portobello mushrooms to make duxelles (duck-SO), which is a mixture of finely minced mushrooms, shallots, and herbs sautéed in butter and used as a stuffing or in sauces (see link for more uses). This step can be made ahead of time as well, refrigerated for a few days or frozen up to a couple months in advance.

Duxelles

Duxelles–not the most photogenic food, but the minced and cooked Portobello sure add savory depth to dishes

Then, I made chicken liver pâté. Chicken livers are inexpensive, the pâté is easy to make, and it actually tastes very savory spread on crackers or baguette slices. This, too, can be made a few days in advance and refrigerated (not sure if it can be frozen). It later gets mixed with the duxelles to form the pasty mixture that is spread onto the crepes and wrapped around the beef tenderloin.

Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pate–tastes a lot more appetizing than it looks!

I made my own crepes, which can be a bit tricky. I’m not sure if crepes can be purchased frozen, but that would save some time. The crepes can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge.

Crepes

Crepes all ready for the duxelles/pâté spread

Beef Wellington

Dotting the pâté/duxelles mixture to make spreading it over the crepes easier

Beef Wellington

Place browned and cooled tenderloin onto crepes spread with pâté/duxelles, and wrap crepes snugly around tenderloin

Beef Wellington

See those extra crepes on the end? Cut them off; otherwise, you’ll get bug chunks of baked dough on the ends like I did!

You can make your own puff pastry, but I opted to purchase it instead–much easier and quicker.

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington getting wrapped in puff pastry

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington snuggly wrapped in puff pastry and ready for baking

You’ll need a bottle of Madeira wine to make the sauce.

Beef Wellington

See the Madeira sauce in the background?

It takes a lot to make this, but it’s well worth it, especially if you want to impress some guests.

Let’s recap quickly: beef tenderloin, duxelles, liver pâté, crepes, puff pastry, and Madeira…and time.

Throughout the process, I thought, “This is the only time I’m going to go through the effort to make all this.” However, now that we’ve tasted it and savored it for leftovers for two nights, I would certainly make it again, and the steps don’t seem as daunting now that I’ve made it.

What made the whole experience even more fun, though, is that I pulled out my fine china (rarely used), set up a lovely table, and had everything ready to serve the minute hubby walked in the door from work. I even got semi dressed up to celebrate the new year (and the excitement of hubby having started a new job right before Christmas, a career change that required two years of schooling and lots of interviewing these past few months). All in all, the entire meal was a smashing success!

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington–layers of savory goodness

By the way, I served the Beef Wellington with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mashed Cauliflower.

RECIPE:

Rather than  type up the entire lengthy recipe, I found a link to it on Fine Cooking’s website along with a video. Truly, it’s not as daunting as it all appears, and it’s well worth the effort if you are game for trying something new and on the gourmet side of cooking.

Chicken Pot Pies

I roasted a chicken the other night, which always leaves us with leftovers, so I decided to make chicken pot pies and realized I hadn’t shared a recipe for those yet. I make them about once a year because the recipe makes six pies, which carries us through the chilly season with only two of us to feed.

Chicken Pot Pies

Chicken Pot Pies

The chicken pot pies at some of the chain restaurants used to be my staple order until I began making my own. Nothing beats the flavor of homemade chicken pot pies, though, so no more mass-produced chain restaurant pies for me.

Chicken Pot Pies

Chicken Pot Pies

These homemade pies do take a bit of work but not excessively so. You can certainly cut corners by purchasing a rotisserie chicken and precut and/or frozen veggies. However, don’t skimp corners on the crust. This crust contains tangy cream cheese and is spiced up with some pepper. Fantastic flavor. So easy to work with, too: not too sticky and you can handle it without having to first refrigerate it.

Chicken Pot Pies

Chicken Pot Pies with a cream cheese crust

The first time I made these, I pressed the dough on the rims of the bowls to make sure it would stick. Bad idea. I guess I pressed so hard that during baking the sides just slipped off! Looked like the pot pies decided to drop their skirts ;  ) I’ve since learned, thanks to Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cooking show, to brush both sides of the dough with an egg wash. The inside brushing helps the dough adhere to the bowl while the outside wash gives a sheen to the cooked crust. Thank you, Ina, for that handy dandy tip.

Chicken Pot Pies

Chicken Pot Pies loaded with chicken and veggies

Once cooked, these freeze beautifully. Just double wrap snugly in plastic wrap followed by an aluminum foil wrap, and you can then bake them straight from the freezer. Love the ease of that.

Now, if making entire chicken pot pies doesn’t appeal to you, the folks at Cooks Illustrated have created a casserole version that tastes equally yummy and is easier than making pot pies.

Chicken Pot Pies

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

FIlling

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced into small chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 cup celery, diced small (not part of original recipe)
  • 1 cup carrots, diced small (or use frozen carrots)
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Sauce

  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • dash hot sauce
  • salt and pepper

Crust

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • 1 large egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make filling: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and potato to pan; saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, bell pepper, celery, carrots (if using raw) and mushrooms; cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
  3. When veggies finish cooking, add cooked and shredded chicken along with frozen peas (and carrots if using frozen carrots). Stir in red pepper flakes as well as season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To make sauce: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth (mine lumped up into a big ball).
  5. Add broth about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking it into the flour mixture. Continue cooking over medium heat until it thickens into a creamy sauce. If using heavy cream, mix that in now. Add hot sauce as well as salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pour cream sauce over chicken and veggies; stir to combine.
  7. Spoon the filling into 6-8 individual oven-safe ramekins (mine are 4 1/2 inches in diameter).
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F at this point.
  9. To make crust: Place flour in bowl of food processor along with salt and pepper. Pulse briefly to mix.
  10. Cut cold butter into 16 pieces and add to food processor; pulse until flour and butter are crumbly.
  11. Add cream cheese; continue to pulse until dough forms a ball. Transfer dough to a lightly-floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll dough into a rough rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough in half lengthwise, then into thirds in the other direction, making six squares (or if you have 8 pies, cut accordingly). If squares are too small to fit over bowls, you can roll each one separately to enlarge them to needed size.
  12. Beat egg with a whisk, then brush dough with the egg. Place brushed side down over bowls, and gently press sides until they adhere to bowl. Now brush egg over top side of dough.
  13. Place pies on a foil-covered baking sheet (both for ease of transfer as well as any overflow of filling). Cut several slits into pie tops. Place pies into oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown (if your crusts are on the thick side, you may need to bake a bit longer).
  14. Baked and cooled pies can be frozen. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap followed by an aluminum foil wrap. Either thaw frozen pies in refrigerator on the day you intend to eat them, then reheat in 350 degree F oven for 30-40 minutes. Alternatively, pies can be reheated straight from freezer at 400 degrees F for 45-60 minutes.

SOURCE: adapted from Annie’s Eats via Ezra Pound Cake via the cookbook The Pastry Queen

Fried Crappie (fish)

Fried Crappie

Fried crappie with homemade tartar sauce

The other day I posted a recipe for tartar sauce that I quickly whipped up to accompany the light white breaded fish we prepared for dinner. Lest I forget, I better get around to sharing that recipe for the fish. It’s actually hubby’s recipe since he is the Fish Master around these parts.

Before I get to the recipe, though, I want to share a cute story about my hubby and the igniting of his passion (a.k.a. obsession) for fishing. Every summer in his youth when he visited family in Ohio, his grandpa would take him fishing. At two years old, they ventured out on their first fishing trip together to a local lake. Well, rambunctious toddlers in their terrible two’s don’t know how to sit still at all, least of all whilst fishing. In his excitement, he kept disrupting the fish by running into the water. Finally, his grandpa looped a rope around his waist with the other end around a tree, a safe distance from the water’s edge yet close enough to fish. That venture to the lake hooked him on fishing, and the love has never waned, not one bit.

Most of his adult fishing years have found him on the open seas, but lately he has given lake fishing more attention. And when he travels to Texas to hunt, he sometimes finds time to fish local waters. A couple years ago in Texas, he caught loads and loads of crappie (pronounced “krop-ee”), a freshwater fish of the light white-fleshed variety. Surprisingly, it has held up well in our freezers, and we have pursued attacking the supply of fish with gusto in recent weeks.

Our favorite method of preparation for the crappie involves a simple dredging of the fillets in  egg, flour, and basic spices followed by a bit of frying in oil. Sometimes simplicity makes the best meals. We’ve tried a few fancy recipes I found for crappie, but this is the method we return to time and time again.

Fried Crappie

INGREDIENTS

  • canola oil
  • 1 egg, whipped with 1/4 tsp. of water
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 6 fillets of crappie

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill a 10-inch cast iron skillet with enough canola oil to reach 1 1/2 inches up the side of the pan. Heat over high heat until hot (if you place the end of a wooden spoon in it, the oil should bubble around the spoon).
  2. In a shallow dish or bowl, whisk egg with 1/4 tsp. water.
  3. In another shallow dish or bowl, combine flour, garlic powder, and pepper.
  4. Dredge fish fillets through egg first, followed by dredging through flour mixture.
  5. Fry fillets in the hot oil until golden brown on each side. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
  6. Serve hot with tartar sauce squeeze of lemon.

SOURCE: my hub

Pasta Puttanesca

If you haven’t entered the Cupcake Goodies Giveaway, click the link and check it out! Giveaway ends August 25th.

 

Pasta Puttanesca–sounds fancy, doesn’t it? However, it means “whore’s pasta”!!

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca — a quick and easy dish to prepare

According to Hank from the Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook blog when he guest posted on Simply Recipes, “the legend of this sauce was that it was easy to prepare for anyone who works when markets were closed — and ladies of the evening certainly fit that bill.”

Wikipedia contains another interesting derivation of the reference to harlots: Cuomo, a journalist, claims that Petti, a 1950’s Italian (Ischian) restaurant owner, found his ingredients on the meager side one night near closing when some customers wanted service. “‘Facci una puttanata qualsiasi,’” they said, which means “‘Make any kind of garbage.’” The word puttanata here means worthless, with its derivation from puttana, meaning whore. To satisfy his customers, Petti used his meager ingredients of tomatoes, olives, and capers to make a sauce for pasta, hence the birth of puttanesca.

I’m sure many more tales exist as to the meaning and origin of this sauce. Origins aside, puttanesca takes minutes to make, using either fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes, producing a tang from the capers and a saltiness from both the anchovies (or anchovy paste) and kalamata olives. I loved it. Simple. Quick. Loaded with flavors. And the perfect use for the last of the cherry and san marzano tomatoes from our garden.

P.S. Don’t scrunch your nose at the use of anchovies. They provide a savory depth of flavor to the dish and you won’t even know it’s in there!

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca (made from fresh tomatoes)

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. anchovy paste (or 1 tbsp. mashed anchovies)
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 lbs. cherry tomatoes (or use one 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 pound pasta (I used campanelle, which have lots of curls to capture the sauce)
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. capers, rinsed and minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, mix oil, garlic, anchovy paste, pepper flakes, and oregano.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse tomatoes until finely chopped but not pureed. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and allow tomatoes to drain for 5 minutes, until you have about 3/4 cup tomato juice. Reserve juice for use in sauce.
  3. To prepare pasta, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. When water boils, add 1 tbsp. salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve one cup of pasta water, then drain al dente pasta and return it to emptied pot.
  4. While pasta is cooking, use a large skillet over medium heat to cook garlic/anchovy mixture, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant but not browning, about 2-3 minutes (no need to heat up pan first).
  5. Add tomato liquid that you reserved earlier; bring to a simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add tomato pulp, olives, and capers; cook until just heated through, 2-3 minutes.
  7. Mix in parsley.
  8. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to combine. If needed, add some of the reserved pasta water to adjust consistency. Season with salt, if needed. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, if desired.

SOURCE: Cook’s Illustrated magazine, Sept/Oct 2013 issue

Chiles Rellenos with Salsa Ranchera (made with Hatch Chiles)

 

Chiles Rellenos

Chiles Rellenos made from Hatch Chiles

 

August and September are Hatch Chile months.

And what are hatch chiles? Well, they look a lot like Anaheim chiles, which are light green in color and rather large. However, Robert Schueller of Melissa’s produce described hatch chiles as the “grandfather” whilst the Anaheim is like the “grandchild.”  Additionally, hatch chiles have a much thicker skin, making them great for roasting and even freezing. I had never thought to freeze roasted chiles or peppers!

These particular mild-medium heat chiles hail from New Mexico, but you can find them in local markets during the months of August and September. As a matter of fact, I just saw them advertised in the Sprouts weekly ads, so I’m off the pick some up this weekend and have my own Hatch Chile Roasting event with our backyard barbecue grill!

Hatch Chiles

Roasted Hatch Chiles

If you want to attend a live hatch chile roasting event, Melissa’s Produce offers a schedule of dates and locations.

Anyhow, after my Camp Blogaway experience and the contacts I made, I found myself invited to attend a Hatch Chile Lunch at Melissa’s Produce, at which the hosts provided us yummy foods made from hatch chiles with recipes from the new Hatch Chile cookbook presented by Melissa’s Produce.

In addition, we walked away from the event with the cookbook and both dried and frozen hatch chiles to test out a few recipes.

The most unique item on the lunch menu included hatch chile ice cubes! How clever!! What a way to literally spice up your party drinks. Just use a food processor to chop up two hatch chiles, mix with six cups of water, let sit for about 5 minutes, then freeze in your ice cube trays. Voila–spicy ice cubes. The people at Melissa’s served them with ginger ale and lemonade. As they begin to melt, your drink takes on a slight kick of heat that actually complements both drinks (I taste-tested both).

The lunch event opened my eyes to the possibilities of using chiles to add an element of sassiness to a variety of foods, ranging from ice cubes to sweet treats such as cookies to breakfast/lunch/dinner fare and even to nut & pretzel snack mixes. Who knew a chile could provide such versatility? (I took tons of pictures but cannot find the memory card with the images–ARGH!!)

With a cookbook full of recipes to try and some frozen hatch chiles in my freezer, I perused the variety of options and decided on Chiles Rellenos, which hubby requested I make many months ago. They ended up being a lot less work than I had anticipated, in part due to the pre-roasted and frozen chiles (such a bonus!). By the way, you can attend Hatch fire-roasting chile events in the months of August and September (check out this schedule of locations and dates).

I also used some of the chiles to make a Salsa Ranchero recipe from the cookbook to accompany the Chiles Rellenos. You can easily use your food processor to pulse the salsa a bit more if you want a less chunky consistency. All in all, we both enjoyed the Chile Rellenos: mild chiles, cheesy interior, crunchy coating, and slightly spicy salsa to top it all off.

Chiles Rellenos with Salsa Ranchera

Printer-Friendly Version

INGREDIENTS

Chiles Rellenos

  • 12 large Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled, and left whole
  • 1 pound cheddar, Jack, or queso blanco cheese, shredded
  • 4 large eggs, well chilled and separated
  • 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Salsa Ranchera

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup chicken broth

DIRECTIONS

Chiles Rellenos

  1. Methods to roast chiles: To roast over an open flame, use long-handled tongs to hold the chile over a medium flame, turning until evenly charred (I’ve done this over the flame on the stove before). To roast on a barbecue grill, heat the grill until hot. Roast chiles over the direct heat until they are blackened and blistered all over. To roast under a broiler, preheat broiler to high. Arrange chiles in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and set under broiler. Roast until blackened and blistered all over, turning so all sides get roasted.
  2. Once chiles are roasted, cool using one of the following methods: Transfer roasted chiles to a paper bag, roll the top down, and allow to cool. Or, transfer roasted chiles to a pan or bowl and cover with a tight-fitting lid, a damp towel, or with plastic wrap.
  3. Once chiles are cool enough to handle, the skins will easily peel off. For chiles rellenos, leave the stem intact, cut a lengthwise slit up one side of each chile (careful, though, to not cut through the tip end), and delicately remove the seeds so you don’t tear the chile.
  4. Fill the slit chiles with cheese and use toothpicks to hold the chiles closed.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  6. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and egg yolks; mix until completely incorporated.
  7. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large, deep skillet over medium heat (I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet). Working in batches, dip the stuffed peppers into the batter and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
  8. Serve with Salsa Ranchera.

Salsa Ranchera

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, cooking until translucent and softened.
  2. Add garlic; saute one minute (don’t allow garlic to brown or it will taste bitter).
  3. Add chiles; saute for 3 more minutes.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, then add cumin and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Dissolve cornstarch in the chicken broth. Add broth to pan and bring salsa to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer; cook salsa for 10 minutes or until thickened to your desired level of thickness. (Since I prefer my salsa less chunky, I process mine in the food processor to my desired consistency.)

SOURCE: Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook