Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Mexican" Meatloaf

I’ve made meatloaf before, but I wasn’t too happy with the results, so I went back to the drawing board and decided to keep it simple. This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, with slight variation to the ingredients, and the bain marie cooking method that Michael Ruhlman uses in his book Ruhlman’s Twenty.  The meatloaf I made last year was on the dry side, but this one is anything but. Nothing complex here, but keeping it simple yields the best results in this case.

1.5 lbs ground beef/pork/veal mix
2 shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno deseeded and diced
1 tablespoon mustard
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
1/3 cup salsa (store brand)
2/3 cup milk
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¾ cup monterrey jack and cheddar cheese blend

Chipotle Ketchup:
1 cup ketchup
2 chipotle chilis in adobo
1 teaspoon fish sauce

Add all the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands. You want everything incorporated, but don’t go overboard and overmix it.

Place the mixture into a loaf pan.

Place the chipotle ketchup ingredients in a blender and liquefy. Taste and add more peppers if you like it a bit spicy.

Spoon the ketchup on top of the meatloaf. You’ll have some leftover ketchup. Cover the meatloaf pan with aluminum foil.

Place the loaf pan in a large baking dish, and fill with water until it comes halfway up the side of the pan. Remove the meatloaf pan, and place the water-filled baking dish in an oven and heat to 300°F.

Carefully place the loaf pan into the water (rubber oven mitts are fantastic here) and cook for 1.5 hours. Remove from the oven and take the foil off the loaf pan. Place the meatloaf under a broiler for about a minute, just to give it a little color.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Moroccan Lamb Shanks

This recipe is care of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook. He calls for using 'lamb leg steaks' which I don't think are a thing in the states. So I grabbed some lamb shanks, which I intended to roast until I realized every recipe online for lamb shanks calls for them to be braised. So I improvised a braising liquid (ideally after browning the meat I would've tossed a mirepoix into the pot for some more flavor), and everything turned out ok. I'm not sure if I'd make this specific dish again; apricots in a savory dish is a little strange to me.
2 lamb shanks
3 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon coriander
A few sprigs of parsley
Salt and pepper

In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add a little canola oil and brown the lamb shanks on all sides. Add the beef stock, then the spices and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, and place in  a 375°F oven for 1.5 hours. Remove the lamb shanks, and save the braising liquid for something else. What exactly, I haven’t figured out yet.

1 medium red onion, diced
1 large tomato, deseeded and diced
1 jalapeno, deseeded, deveined and diced
8 dried apricots, chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
1 (15) ounce can of garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper

Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add the onion, apricots, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the tomato and parsley, along with the cumin and some salt and pepper. Pour the garbanzo beans on top, including the liquid, and add an additional ½ cup of water. Simmer for 5 minutes, until sauce-like. Add the balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

To Finish:
1 cup uncooked couscous
1/5 cups chicken stock
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Greek Yogurt

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan and season with salt. Simmer couscous, covered for 6 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for another 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and olive oil.

Serve the lamb shank over the couscous, top with the sauce and some yogurt.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Butter and Sage Sauce

The theme for this week is cheap meals, and this is a great way to save money but still cook a hoity-toity gourmet meal. I’m somewhat guestimating, but I think the recipe as written below costs about $5 to make, and that’s for 2 servings plus a bunch of leftover raviolis. I didn’t make enough dough, but I’ll write the recipe as if I actually knew what was doing and made enough pasta to go with the filling. Since butternut squashes are pretty hefty vegetables, you can’t really downsize, but you can have some great leftover. The sauce is enough for 2 servings, even though there’s extra ravioli.  Leftovers are dead simple when you already have the ravioli assembled and frozen – just add to boiling water (from frozen) and simmer for 4 minutes.

Pasta dough:
9 ounces all-purpose flour
3 large eggs (6 oz)
1 tbsp olive oil

1 butternut squash
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
¼ cup parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
Salt and pepper

4 tbsp butter
1 shallot, diced
Sage leaves

Heat your oven to 375°F. Cut the top off the squash, and split it in half. Scoop out the seeds and gloopy bit (just like carving a pumpkin, but with 10x less). Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour. You can either roast the garlic (in its husk) along with the squash (should take 10 minutes or so) or in a dry pan over medium heat, flipping as blackened spots form.

Meanwhile, make a well out of the flour and crack the eggs into the center. Add the olive oil on top of the eggs. Whisk the eggs, slowly incorporating the flour bit by bit until a dough forms.

Knead the dough for approximately 8 minutes on a floured surface, until the dough is silky smooth. Take a piece of plastic wrap and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place the dough on the plastic, and give it a spray as well. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate for half an hour.

Is the squash done roasting? Great, scoop out the flesh and add to the bowl of a food processor. Dice the roasted garlic from earlier, and add to the food processor, along with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Process to a puree.

Back to the pasta. Roll out the dough in 3 batches. Start on the lowest (widest) setting, and pass the dough through 4 times, folding like a letter each time. This helps knead the dough. Then, pass the dough through the machine, increasing the setting each time until you reach the thinnest setting. You may want/need to flour the dough lightly during this process. Repeat with remaining dough. Split into 6 equal sized sheets.

Place a spoonful of filling  for each ravioli, giving yourself enough space between each spoonful. Add filling to 3 of the pasta sheets. Get some water in a small bowl, and using a brush, ‘paint’ around the filling. This will make them easier to close. Place one of the pasta sheets that doesn’t have filling on it directly on top of one that does. Seal up each ravioli, pressing out any excess air. Use a biscuit cutter or similar to separate each ravioli from the dough. 

Place any raviolis you don’t plan on immediately cooking on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the freezer until frozen. Transfer to a Ziploc bag.

For the raviolis you are cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the raviolis, cooking for 1 minute, then removing with a spider/slotted spoon to the pan with the sauce.

Melt butter and add diced shallots, allowing them to get some caramelization. Add the sage and cook for about 1 minute. Add in the cooked pasta, and toss to coat. Serve with additional parmesan cheese.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rosemary and Lemon Scones

This is a mashup of the basic King Arthur Flour scones recipe: and the Pioneer Woman’s Rosemary and Lemon Scones recipe:

11.5 ounces all purpose flour
2.5 ounces sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) butter
2 large eggs
4 ounces almond milk
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon

5 cups powdered sugar
½ cup almond milk
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl and whisk together. Add in the butter, and incorporate with a pastry blender/forks. You can leave a few chunks in there.

In a separate bowl/pyrex measuring cup, combine the eggs, almond milk, rosemary and lemon zest. Give it a good whisk to break up and incorporate those eggs.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the flower, and stir until they come together. Add a little extra flour/milk if the mixture is too wet/dry.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured working surface, and use a rolling pin (you’ll probably want to flour that as well) to roll out the dough into a rectangle about ¾” thick.

Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 12 rectangles. Then, make diagonal cuts in the middle of each rectangle to make triangles.

Transfer these triangles onto a baking sheet lined with either a silpat or parchment paper.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are just about to start turning golden.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. This one is easy: Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl, and add the lemon zest, juice, rosemary and milk. Mix, and add powdered sugar or milk as needed to get the right consistency. It should be pretty thick, but still come off a spoon easily.

Remove the baked scones from the oven and cool for at least 5 minutes. Dunk each scone in the glaze, and place on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to cool. Allow to sit for 1 hour to set the glaze.

Chiles en Nogada

I've been meaning to try these for a while and finally got around to making the recipe. I deviated from the traditional in a few ways; first, chiles rellenos are usually battered and fried, which I'm sure is delicious, but also not particularly healthy. Secondly, the stuffing usually involves pork, but I opted for a vegetarian (hell, this meal is even full on vegan, thanks to using almond milk instead of dairy) version for no particular reason. Usually the pork is accompanied by fruits like apples and pears, for a sweet and hearty flavor, and I think mine are in that same spirit. Finally, it seems like all the recipes I read garnish the dish with parsley, but I wanted the sort of penetrating fresh flavor cilantro brings to the table.

Chiles Rellanos:
10 poblano chilis
½ large eggplant, diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 pear, peeled, cored diced
½ large yellow onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon cumin
½ teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons chili powder

Nogada Sauce:
2 cups walnuts
¾ cup almond milk
½ cup beer (I used a Victory Festbier)
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt

To Finish:
Pomegranate seeds

First, we need to char the poblanos. You can do this directly over a gas burner, on a cast iron pan with no oil, or stick them all under the broiler. I used the broiler. They will take a few minutes each side – flip them when they start to blacken and char. Remove from the oven and drape a towel over them for a few minutes. Once they cool, remove the skin (it should come right off). Cut a slit down the middle, and remove the seeds – it’s best to try and keep the stem intact so that the chilies stay together when stuffed.

Moving on, hope your knife skills are up to snuff because there is a good amount of chopping to be done. You’ll need the eggplant, zucchini, apple, pear, onion, and garlic diced and the mushrooms sliced.  Add these all to a large bowl or two.

All these ingredients are going to be sweated down, and you’ll need to do this in 3 batches. Heat a large pan over medium, add a little oil, and the diced ingredients. Season with salt, and sweat for 5 to 7 minutes, until much of the water in the vegetables is released.  Repeat with remaining batches.

Once you’ve sweated the veggies, add them all to a bowl along with the cumin, allspice and chili powder. Stir to mix.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spoon the stuffing into each of the chilis. Place on a backing sheet/roasting pan lined with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Before saucing

Combine the walnuts and almond milk in a blender, and puree. Add the beer, and season with salt and taste. Add sugar as appropriate. The sauce will have some texture to it.

Serve the baked rellenos with sauce and sprinkle pomegranate seeds and cilantro on top. Serve with corn tortillas or white rice.