Breakfast for Dinner Winner!

March 31, 2011

Huevos Rancheros

I was torn about what to root for in this past week’s poll. Breakfast for dinner almost always equates to savory egg dishes for me, so I was secretly pulling for the pancakes to test my creativity! But how could I be bummed with huevos rancheros…

This is a dish that I love to eat! It’s got to be one of the most savory breakfast dishes out there and when the flavors are in balance, it’s got to be my favorite item to order; salty, crunchy goodness that begs for that creamy egg yolk. So for my version I wanted to really play up this characteristic and the addition of spicy chorizo really nailed it.

The recipe attached is for four servings (which I imagine you would have been able to figure that out) but this dish works just as well if you’re cooking for yourself; extra black beans and chorizo will definitely not be a burden. I chose to poach the eggs because I thought the texture of a fried egg white would get lost with all the other things going on. In this case, breaking into that runny yolk and getting a full bite including the crispy tortilla was just what I was looking for. And if the cured chorizo doesn’t add enough spice, serve this dish along your favorite hot sauce and maybe a jalapeno margarita (I’m working on the ultimate recipe, don’t worry) and you’ll be eating this at all times of the day!

SilverCaterersRecipeCards – HuevosRancheros

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It’s good to have friends…

March 30, 2011

Just some of the deliciousness!

I would say I’m pretty lucky in the friends department. No, not because of how nice they are (sure some of them are alright), but mainly because of how many of them cook. And cook damn well I may add! So when Nikki invited us over Monday night for dinner I knew we were in for some delicious grub…

We’ve both  become pretty obsessed with Jamie Oliver (has anyone seen his new show on the cooking channel?) and this Indian spiced ground beef with a bright and flavorful ginger and carrot salad with grilled naan was the perfect riff off of his recipe. With a spoonful of yogurt to cool down the spices the flavors were pretty darn delicious. But paired with empanadas and cacciatore?

Well, isn’t that the best part of a potluck style dinner party? The more flavors the better! So when Vanessa fried up a few of her empanadas filled with ground beef, green olives, hard boiled eggs, and spices, there was mostly just silence; unless you count ferocious devouring as noise.  Plus the cacciatore gave us plenty to talk about.

Cacciatore means hunter in italian. So how many of you would read the recipe and go hunt the chicken (or chukar in this case)? Well you might not have, but that didn’t stop Theo. Having gone hunting with his dad the weekend past, this chukar cacciatore showcased their “winnings”. With the traditional tomato base and the perfect additions of bacon and liquid smoke the flavors were spot on delicious!

So what did I bring to the table? Nothing but my hunger…I guess I owe them one!


Kitchen Perfume

March 29, 2011

Slow Roasted Garlic Confit

Some love the smell of fresh baked cookies perfuming through the kitchen and into the rest of your home (or in my case, a tiny apartment). But that’s not for me. I’d much prefer the aroma of roasted garlic!

But roasting garlic for each dish on any given night can take some time and patience; that’s what Sunday was made for. Because this may be the easiest thing in the world to do, and the payoff is huge. In a cast iron pan, simply add a whole head of peeled garlic gloves, about a ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, and a few pinches of crushed red pepper. Over the lowest heat possible, let the garlic cook gently and let your nose be the timer!

It’s good to keep an eye on this as the cast iron holds even the low heat pretty darn well. But as soon as the garlic begins to brown and can be easily crushed with a fork, you know you are getting close.

This garlic and the oil it was cooked in will be an unbelievable add in to your week’s long worth of cooking. And if all else fails…buy a baguette on your way home from work and go to town!


When Ideas Collide

March 28, 2011

Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Cream

It’s pretty exciting where ideas can spark from. For instance, this weekend I was emailing back and forth with my good friend Kelly on some veggie filled dishes that help us forget about starchy, meaty goodness. I remembered my summer attempts with zucchini noodles which were not only delicious, but super simple to work with. So as I spent my Sunday working on a few basics for the week, my homemade peanut butter started screaming in my ear, “Thai Noodle Salad!!!!”

First off, if you haven’t tried making your own peanut butter, go ahead and give it a shot. Naturally, it doesn’t take much: peanuts, salt to taste, and a little oil (I use olive oil) to get the creaminess going. In the food processor you might be unsure of what’s going down as the first few minutes create what looks like crushed peanuts. But give it some time and a little bit of that oil and before you know it, you’ve got yourself a homemade peanut butter.

But how would peanut butter and zucchini noodles come together? Quite deliciously to be honest!

In a small sauce pan I got started on what would be the base of my thai flavors. The sauce, containing pureed tomatoes, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, ginger, garlic and lime was bright with flavor and color. Thinly sliced red onions and scallions along with shredded cabbage and carrots were added to the sauce for only a minute before serving to just barely soften them. Tossed with my zucchini noodles (raw and sliced into spaghetti style thickness with a mandoline) and topped with a few quickly pickled jalapenos made for an unbelievable dinner. But what about the peanut butter? Using equal parts peanut butter and sour cream, along with a bit of honey and a squeeze of siracha, the peanut cream added the final touch and the perfect cooling aid to the spicy and delicious noodle dish.

But the exciting part is, this approach could be used for so many different sauce types. So at the risk of sounding preachy, I really encourage you to try these “noodles”. I’ve found by keeping them raw and tossing with the hot sauce right before serving, the wonderful texture of spaghetti is mimicked pretty darn well. And with a big plate of veggies in front of you, there’s no feeling guilty about going back for seconds!


Breakfast for Dinner Poll

March 25, 2011

Scrambled Egg, Arugula, and Cotija Quesadilla

I love breakfast! And I love breakfast at all times of the day. But you know this already. I’ve been posting about breakfast for dinner since the first sample…

But here’s the opportunity for you to choose which breakfast favorite I re-interpret for dinner in this week’s poll. So pick a good one and check back next week for the delicious recipe:


Maybe I DO like Pesto…

March 24, 2011

Pan Roasted Cod with Arugula and Grapefruit Pesto

I can never decide if I like pesto. Because for every delicious sandwich spread or tomato dish that has me longing for the brightness and freshness of a good pesto, there have been just as many heavy pastas or boring chicken breasts sopping in heavy green oil. But I guess not all pestos are made to be alike.

Bottom line, the word pesto always meant the same to me as I started to cook. Olive oil, basil, pine nuts, and parmesan blended together creating that un-mistakable green topping. But I’ve followed suit over the years, and have become liberal in what I consider pesto. Herbs, greens, or even chilis blended with oil can make for far more exciting versions of the classic but there is one thing I feel is crucial. Some acidity!

At the end of the day, pesto is in large percentage oil, and oil can coat the pallet rendering your dining experience pretty boring and heavy. But acidity cuts right through that heaviness and for this arugula pesto, grapefruit juice made for a fantastic addition. With about a cup of packed arugula, ¼ cup of toasted walnuts, a clove of garlic, olive oil, and a few splashes of grapefruit juice, my pesto turned out exactly how I like it; bright, flavorful and perfect for this pan roasted cod with beet greens. Topped with my new favorite, pickled red onions (check out the recipe I posted a few weeks back), this dish pushed me towards a decision: I guess I do like pesto after all!


Should I Join a CSA This Year?

March 22, 2011

Catskills Lamb Sausage and Peruvian Potato Salad

I’m on the fence this year about joining a CSA. As much as I loved my weekly bundles of fresh vegetables, I’m thinking of taking on a new approach. Because even in the middle of March I am reminded about how fantastic the farmers market is. Even without the overwhelming amount of color and life that will come in a few short weeks as Spring really takes form, the market is packed with fresh, local, and delicious produce. So delicious that it’s a pleasure to come up with market inspired meals like this one.

Catskills lamb sausage with pea shoots and purple peruvian potato salad is a meal that shot me right into the heart of summer.  Cookouts and grill sessions with hot dogs and potato salad fill some of my favorite memories, but this twist has got me so excited to create brand new ones.

Roasting the potatoes and then tossing them with pea and dandelion shoots, cotija cheese, and a mustard and egg vinaigrette made for an awesome balance of warm and cool flavors and textures. With a handful of mung bean pods roasted in the pan juices making a deliciously crunchy topping for the sausage, the meal was packed with flavor from start to finish. Absolutely delicious!


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