Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cilantro, Lime, and Habanero Marinated Pork Chops

This marinade is quite acidic, so it pairs nicely with pork.  The sauces on the back of the plate are guajillo salsa and some Mexican crema (I’ve been wanting to try this stuff out for a long time now, but could never find it – turns out its basically heavy cream , but more viscous. Goes good with potatoes though). I was inspired to do some swishy-swoopy plating stuff after reading this article. They didn’t look as fancypants as I was hoping, so I kept them in the background of the photos.

1 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup lime juice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 habanero, desseded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 or 3 pork chops

Roughly chop what  needs to be chopped, and combine in a blender. Give it a whirl, then taste and adjust for seasoning. Reserve half and refrigerate, and place the other half in a large Ziploc bag. Add the pork chops, and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Heat a oven-proof skillet over high. Remove the pork chops from the marinade, rinse off any excess and pat dry. Coat with canola oil, and give them a quick sear. Place the pan in the oven, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on thickness, until the pork reaches 145°F internally. Remove from the oven, let them rest for a few minutes, then serve with reserved marinade.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip Challah

This was my first attempt at challah, so I'm calling this one a victory by virtue of the fact that it came out vaguely looking like it should. I took a Peter Reinhart recipe (from Crust and Crumb) and added the chocolate chips and cinnamon sugar. The latter didn't quite work, since I dusted the loaf with the cinnamon sugar before baking. Maybe I should've waited until after it was baked. On the plus side, it made my apartment smell like a Cinnabon.

16 ounces (3.5 cups) bread flour
2 ounces (1/4 cup) sugar
0.25 ounces (1 teaspoon) salt
0.22 ounces (2 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 large eggs, beaten
2 large egg yolks, beaten (whites reserved)
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
½ cup water, at room temperature
6 ounces chocolate chips

Cinnamon sugar topping:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar

Combine all the dough ingredients (except for the egg whites reserved for the egg wash) in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on slow speed for 1 minute, then on medium for about 10 minutes. The dough should be tacky and pass the windowpane test.

Place the dough in a bowl, mist with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for one hour. Remove the dough, and knead it by hand for 5 minutes. Return it to the bowl and let it rise for another hour.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes, to relax the gluten. Working quickly, roll each piece into a log about 10 inches long.

Lay the strands next to each other, and pinch the ends at the top (see below – though the dough in the picture needs a bit more pinching). Now comes the fun part: The numbers underneath the strands are relative to their position on the table, not the strands themselves, i.e. the strand on the right of the table at any given moment is strand 4. Cross the strands over each other using this sequence: 4 over 2, 1 over 3, 2 over 3. Repeat until you get to the end, and pinch off the excess dough. I meant to get pictures of this every step of the way, but I got really into what I was doing and forgot. To be honest, I’m surprised how easy it went.

 Anyway, more rising: place your professionally shaped loaf on a prepared baking sheet, and cover with a towel. Allow to rise for another hour.

Wash with egg wash, and cook at 375 for 45 minutes, praying to the gods of baking that everything works out, and rotating the loaf half way through. Allow to cool for 45 minitues before slicing and devouring.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vanilla Almond Granola

Back when I was young enough for snack time to still be a part of my school day, my mom always used to pack me granola bars. Oh sure, they had chocolate chips in them, but that still didn’t save them from being the dullest food I’d eat on a regular basis. They certainly weren’t bad, but honestly, how was a kid supposed to be excited about granola? Ever since then, I’ve sworn off granola, only to rediscover it recently. This isn’t in bar form, but it’s miles away from the packaged stuff I ate as a kid. Combine with some plain greek yogurt and blueberries, and you have the tastiest snack/desert/lunch you could imagine. This is my variation of Eleven Madison Park’s famed granola.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2.5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pistachios
½ cup pumpkin seeds
¾ cup coconut chips
1 tablespoon salt

Preheat your oven to 300°F. Place the olive oil, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan, and heat over low, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and use your hands to combine everything.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and pour the granola on top in a single layer. Bake for 35 minutes, and then allow to cool. Be sure to mix up the granola while its cooling so it doesn’t clump up too much. Store in an airtight container. Yields 9 cups.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Roasted Corn Soup

I’ve never been big on soup, but for some reason I keep coming back to these chilled, summer-y soups. Adapted from:

6 ears of corn
2 small (4 inch) cucumbers
1 yellow bell pepper
2 jalapenos
½ white onion
3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 450°F. Use a knife to remove the kernels from the cobs. I find it’s easiest to place a small bowl upside down inside a very large bowl, and place the corn on top of the small bowl. This way you can cut downward on the corncobs, and the kernels all fall into the bigger bowl.  Reserve the cobs. Pour some olive oil on the kernels, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast for 20 minutes. 

While that’s going on, take 3 of the reserved cobs, place in a pot, and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and let it go for about 20 minutes.

Seed and chop the bell pepper as well as the jalapenos, and roughly chop the onion, garlic, and cucumbers. When the corn is finished, reserve about 1/2 cup of kernels for garnishing, and place the rest in a blender along with the other veggies. Blend until pureed.

Take the corn broth, and pass it through a strainer. Add one cup of the broth to a pot along with the chicken stock and pureed corn mixture. Stir, and season with ancho chili powder and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let reduce for 20 minutes to half an hour, until you have a somewhat thick consistency that you’re happy with. Pass through a strainer into a bowl, and chill until ready to serve.

Mahi Mahi Tacos with Guajillo Salsa

These may not be the easiest food to photograph, but they sure are tasty. The tortillas and the salsa are care of Rick Bayless (who else?). Normally for the salsa I’d brown the tomatillos and roast the garlic in the same skillet as the peppers, but I figured since it’s broiling week I’d keep with the theme.

Guajillo Salsa:
6 tomatillos
3 dried guajillo peppers
3 cloves garlic

Method: Preheat your broiler. Husk, rinse, and halve the tomatillos, and place them on a flat pan/baking sheet along with the 3 cloves of garlic (still in their husks).  Broil the garlic for about 5 minutes total, flipping halfway through. The tomatillos will take a little longer, 7 to 8 minutes to get some nice color. While that’s going on, stem and seed the guajillos, heat a cast iron skillet over medium, pour in 1 Tablespoon of canola oil, and fry the peppers for 30 seconds a side. You’ll know they’re done when they smell heavenly.

Rough chop the peppers, and put them in a blender. Remove the husks from the roasted garlic, and add the tomatillos. Blend until smooth, adding water if necessary. Season with salt to taste

Mahi Mahi:
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
Pinch of cayenne
½ clove garlic, chopped
Slice of onion
Sprig of cilantro
Mahi mahi filets

Toss everything in a Ziploc bag except for the filets. Taste and adjust to your liking. Add the fish, and let marinade on the counter for ½ hour to 45 minutes. Preheat the broiler, remove the fish from the marinade and season with salt. Broil for about 7 minutes.

To finish: Cut up the fish, top with the guajillo salsa, avocado slices, and cilantro.