RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: January 2014

Baked Potatoes with Turkey and Broccoli

Posted on

Tonight’s dinner was fast and easy.  That was good, because Little Man refused to nap today.  He’s about to turn three and is becoming particularly mischievous.  It’s time to pull out the preschool quiet time boxes, so I can get dinner on the table.

This is our favorite way to make baked potatoes.  This is the original recipe that I modified for my first post on this blog.

Baked Potato with Turkey and Broccoli

Baked Potatoes with Turkey and Broccoli

10 small potatoes, baked using your preferred method
1 lb cooked shredded turkey from the freezer
1/2 medium onion diced
2 lbs broccoli, steamed or roasted
2-3 T olive oil
salt to taste
Vegan Parmesan Cheeze (optional)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan that has a lid.  Add the onions and start cooking with a pinch or two of salt.

Add the cooked turkey when the onions have turned translucent.  Stir it until well mixed and the turkey is warm.

Place potatoes on the plate.  Slice and mash slightly with a fork.  Drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil and a pinch of salt.  Top with turkey and Parmesan.

I served this with steamed broccoli, and served leftover mango rice pudding for dessert.

Sunday Roast and Mango Rice Pudding

Posted on

Our parish is doing some renovating, so we didn’t have our usual pot luck this week.  That meant I needed to feed hungry children right when we got home.  So the slow cooker came out and in less than ten minutes, I had lunch cooking.

Roast
Sunday Roast

2-3 lbs beef roast
8 multicolored carrots, cut into 3 inch sections & 6 celery stalks, cut into 3 inch sections
1 small onion, sliced
3 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup red wine

Mix the vegetables and bay leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Place the roast on top of the layer of vegetables.  Sprinkle both sides with the salt an spices.

Drizzle with olive oil, and pour the red wine over the roast.

Set the slow cooker to low and cook for 5-6 hours.  Serve with your favorite sides.

______

For dessert later Sunday night I made a variation of my Rice Pudding.  I added 1 tsp ground cardamom with the almond milk and served it topped with diced mango and unsweetened grated coconut.

Mango Rice Pudding

The Tenth Day of Christmas – Fried Chicken

Posted on

I only make fried chicken twice a year.  Once after Pascha and once after Christmas, so it is a treat for everyone.  You see, there are no chicken nuggets in our house, not even the gluten free varieties from the store.  At the very least they all have some pepper in them, so Buster would be left out if I bought them.  Since he struggles with feeling left out of “special” things in general because of his allergies, I don’t like to do it inside the house unless it is unavoidable.

I originally planned to prepare this meal during the Christmas celebrations, but a rescheduled church party pushed it to Tuesday instead.  In lieu of this meal the children helped make sugar plums as our festive contribution.  Buster pitted dates; Snuggle Bunny measured the fruit; Little Man added the nuts; and I added the spices.  I substituted allspice for the cinnamon.  Then I only had ground fennel, so I didn’t bother with the toasting step.  Everyone helped roll the sugar plums in coconut, then we were off to the party before I thought to take a picture.  They were so good that there were no leftovers after the party; Little Man may have single handedly finished off a third of the batch himself, as I remember him having one in each hand most of the time.  The party was lovely, but as always we left right when the guitars came out with a sobbing two year old–the sign of having too much fun.

Fast forward a few days and I finally made the fried chicken.   While the oil was hot, I also whipped up a pepper free batch of Sev with the sev maker I received for Christmas.  It took less than ten minutes and was very tasty.  Much was eaten for snacks, but we did manage to get one breakfast of Poha out of this batch.

Sev
Moreover, I have a hard time throwing away good food.  So every time I make fried chicken, I make frybread out of the leftover flour and almond milk from chicken coating.  I have no actual recipe.  Each time I add about a half teaspoon of baking powder, mix the wet ingredients into the dry, and whisk together until smooth.  The batter should be a little bit thicker than pancake batter.  Sometimes I have to adjust by adding a little water or additional flour depending on the given consistency.   Then I fry the mixture about a tablespoon at a time in the oil after the chicken is cooked.  I think this may be as close to Navajo Frybread as my family will ever be able to get.

Fried Chicken
Oh, those little potato looking things to the side are really taro root.  I got both taro and malanga when I was shopping for the pasteles.  I wasn’t sure which one was the correct choice, so I bought both determined to find a way to use the incorrect one.  I roasted them according to this recipe.  I left out the peppers and used the optional curry leaves, since I had some on hand.  They were very good and the children would have eaten twice as many.

I served honey mustard for dipping.  It’s nothing fancy–just half Dijon and half honey whisked together.

Fried Chicken

1lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into nugget sized pieces
oil for frying

Dry Ingredients (more in similar proportions if necessary)
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca  starch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
1 cup water or nondairy milk of choice (I use almond milk)
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer powder

Whisk dry and wet ingredients into separate bowls.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pot or skillet (this cast iron is my favorite).  You will know when it is hot enough because a drop or two of water sizzles gently in the pot; if the water causes the oil to spatter violently, decrease temperature.

Dip the nuggets into the flour and the milk and then the flour again until evenly coated.  When you have 8-10 nuggets ready, you may start the first round frying assuming that the oil is hot enough.  Cook for 5-8 minutes turning regularly.  You will know that the chicken is done when it is golden brown and cooked throughout if you cut through the middle of a nugget.  It’s always the chef’s prerogative to sample the first nugget for quality assurance.

Continue until all the chicken is cooked.

Make frybread if desired.

Serve with your favorite sides.

The Ninth Day of Christmas: Pasteles

Posted on

I’m one of those people that asks questions of other shoppers while in ethnic food stores.

“What is this?  What is your favorite way to cook it?”

Most times I get a cursory answer or someone who doesn’t speak my language any more that I do of theirs.  Sometimes, though, I meet that friendly person who is delighted to share their culinary knowledge.  Right before Christmas was one of these times.

I asked about an herb that was right next to the cilantro.  It was called recao (or culantro).  This lovely lady was using it to make Recaito (Puerto Rican sofrito) for Pasteles.  She spent time telling me in detail about Pasteles.  She gave me enough information that I was able to go home and track down a recipe.

Pasteles are very similar to tamales, only the masa is made of quite a variety of tubers, gourds, and green bananas.  Then you boil the pasteles submerged in water rather than steaming them like tamales.

I didn’t think that I was going to manage to make these this year seeing as I was out of fresh pumpkin and didn’t have plans to acquire any.  However, I ended up bringing my mom’s last pumpkin home from our Christmas festivities as she wasn’t going to manage to use it before it went bad.

Since I was already shopping for tamale supplies, I simply got enough banana leaves for this process as well as the few extra ingredients.

I followed this recipe using the food processor instructions.  I simply substituted pureed Mexican zucchini for the peppers and tomatoes in this recipe and the recaito.  I froze the extra recaito in an ice cube tray to use another time.

I found annatto seeds at an ethnic grocery store.  To make annatto oil infused 2/3 cup canola oil with about 1 1/2 teaspoon annatto seeds on low for about 20 minutes.  This way I could season the meat and infuse the oil without having the rest of a bottle of annatto oil hanging around my pantry.

For the sazon packet I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground cumin, annatto seeds, and garlic powder into the pot with the meat along with the other ingredients in the recipe.

Also, yautias are tubers called taro or malanga at the grocery stores near me.  However, taro is also a name given to a smaller tuber.  Yautias are larger than baking potatoes, while true taro is smaller than a red potato.  I read that either will work, but the malanga is the most traditional.

Pasteles
John and I liked the pasteles.  We though they were a fun derivation from our tamales.  However, of all three children only Little Man liked them.  I guess we’ll have to stick to tamale making in the future.

The Eighth Day of Christmas: Corn-Free Tamales

Posted on

Most tamales are gluten free, while many are dairy free; you can also make them vegan with a seasoned black bean filling.  They are a big project, but well worth your time (if you are a fan).  Making them yourself cuts the cost dramatically, and they freeze successfully for up to a year.  It is a Mexican tradition to make tamales for Christmas.  While they can be made at any time of the year, it makes the most sense to me to make them at Christmas when all of the ingredients go on sale at the ethnic markets.  It’s also the only time of year that you can easily find banana leaves.

I started making tamales when we found out that Buster couldn’t eat peppers.  Trust me when I say that the only way to find a pepper free tamal is to make it yourself.  (Language nitpicking: Tamal is the proper Spanish singular, while tamale is the American misunderstanding of the word.)

We hit a hitch last year after we discovered Little Man’s corn allergy.  Tamales are a staple of our almost-everything-from-scratch diet.  What would I do without this emergency meal?  That’s when I found out that some tamales are steamed in banana leaves instead of corn husks.  With that hurdle passed, all I had to do was tackle the masa.  What other gluten free flour would produce comparable results?  After my experience baking, I knew sorghum reacts similarly to corn in baking.  I decided to try it.  A little tweaking later and now Little Man (and my mom) can eat tamales!

Each year I spend two days making a large batch, and then they serve as a quick meal straight out of the freezer many times throughout the year.  The first day you simply simmer the meat until it’s tender and season it for the next day’s work.  Don’t forget to save the broth too.  The second day you mix the masa, assemble the tamales, and steam them.

This website is the one I used to learn how to prepare tamales.  I simply leave out the spices that contain peppers and follow the rest exactly.  Well almost exactly…  I now skim the lard off the top of the chilled broth from the first day’s meat preparation.   Then, I use that as the fat in the masa.  I only use cooking oil after the lard runs out.  Waste not, want not.

The only special piece of equipment you need is a steamer pot.  You can buy big fancy pots just for tamales, but I just use my pasta pot with it’s large insert.

Before I get to the recipe, I must point out that tamal making is a big job.  Be sure to have at least one helper, but many hands make light work.  This year we invited friends for cooking and eating on New Year’s Day, and afterwards we sent them home with leftovers.  Thanks for coming, Patrick and Heather, we had a great time!

Tamales
When I make vegan tamales, I soak and cook 3 lbs. of black beans, drain, and season them with the same spices as described in the aforementioned linked recipe.  You can also add fresh corn off 4-6 cobs to the blend for added texture–unless you are making corn-free tamales.

Also take a look at the flavor options on this site.  They even have dessert tamales.  I see experimentation in my future!

Corn-Free Tamales

1 package fresh banana leaves
prepared meat or bean filling (1.5-2 cups for this amount of banana leaves)
Warm broth

Masa (start small, you can always make more if necessary)
2 cups sorghum flour
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/3 cup lard, canola, or safflower oil
Warm broth (quantities vary by day and humidity)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and dry the banana leaves.  Cut them into strips about 8″ X 10-12″ and remove the tough spine if necessary.  Kitchen shears make this job go quickly.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut in oil until well distributed.   Add warm broth about 2-4 tbsp at a time until the masa is a thick peanut butter consistency.  The masa should spread well without cracking too much.  It is very forgiving at this stage, so you can add more flour if you get it a little too thin.

On a cookie sheet warm 3-4 cut banana leaves in the oven for 2-3 minutes.  Be careful not to over warm them or they will dry up at the edges.  This process keeps them from splitting when you fold the tamales.

Spread about 1/4- 1/3 cup masa (to taste) in the middle of the leaf.  Spread in a circular motion or press down with your fingers.  Fill with about 2 Tbsp of meat or beans (to taste).

Gently fold the banana leaf around the fillings to make a long tube, then fold the ends towards the seam to make a small rectangular envelope.  Now many recipes will tell you to tie the package with cooking string, but I simply let gravity help the process and lie them on their flaps to keep them closed.

Place the tamales in your steamer and steam for one hour over medium heat.  Check the water level periodically to make sure that you don’t scorch your pot.  Don’t ask me how I know this little tip.