Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cranberry Onion Jam

I made this for the first time last Thanksgiving and was hooked. Immediately it became a must have for all future giving thanks holidays, and I think it works especially with a smoked turkey (another Thanksgiving tradition). It's punchy, puckery, oniony and there's this caramelized depth that is just so many flavors in one in your mouth. It's so bright, just so... holiday-y. It's sweet but it also has an undeniable presence. And it's really not that hard to make. No, not as easy as popping open a can of cranberry jelly and scooping out into a bowl, but it's so much more worth it, if anything for the flavors that aren't one-note, but many.
This may have been one of the first recipes of Luisa's (The Wednesday Chef) I ever made, as it fell right around the holiday a year ago when I got really engrossed in her blog. I think it was also the first bright thing I made after days and days darkness and what first started to bring my appetite back (if you need clarification on this you can read here) and one of the first things that made me finally put pen to paper (so to speak) and actually start up this little blog. And it's amazing how many things can change in a year while some things always stay the same. I mean that in the best way, in having a new recipe to add to the many Thanksgiving's to come, a new tradition to add to the old, a new thing that moving forward will stay the same, even as so many other things change.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How To: Quickly Roast Peppers

I figured I'd set up my next post with a quick how to on roasting peppers. It's a snap, and it makes all the difference in the world for having those lovely layers of flavor to add to almost any dish. In this case I made possibly the most typical form of roasted peppers, stuffed poblano, but this can be used for any kind of pepper out there.

And yes I KNOW, a true, lovely and silky roasted pepper comes from the oven, baked luxuriously for over an hour until charred and filled with flavor. But in this case, I'm doing a quick roast, then stuffing and baking. So if you have time, check out this post from Luisa... if anyone understands and can really impart the importance of taking your time with food its her. But if it's a Monday night, you've worked all day and then run errands all night, sometimes this will just do.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

So now that we all know how to quickly roast some peppers, it's time to move on to the meal. Poblanos stuffed with Mexican spiced shredded chicken and smokey cheddar cheese and topped with a tomatillo salsa, there's something just so... home... about this dish. And it's so easy, an excellent Monday night meal.
And the beauty of roasted stuffed peppers is, there is no right way to make them. I just happened to have chicken and cheddar in my fridge that needed to be used before I left, but this could easily be vegetarian or vegan, you could use pork or beef or any even seafood, with a nice spicy red sauce or even mole. Any number of vegetables like mushrooms, eggplant, corn, zucchini, spinach, huitlacoche, etc could be used. You can skip cheese altogether and go for a Mexican crema or sour cream. And one of my absolute favorite versions if a traditional Mexican dish called chile en nogada, a recipe I usually defer to the experts when I visit home instead of attempting on my own.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blog Love: Commuter's Kitchen

I've mentioned it before, buried in some other post, but I wanted to make this a full blog love. For my sister's new blog: Commuter's Kitchen. And not coincidentally, but a post about all the delicious things we'll be making in just a few short days. Check it out, subscribe, etc. And of course, come back here in a few days for posts on oyster stuffing, how amazing a smoked turkey can be, some fabulous pies, casseroles, and such.

Thanksgiving Gear-Up: Four Days To Go

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday for my family–starting back in college, we let the holiday fall by the wayside, focusing more on Christmas dinner. That, and the fact two trips from the East Coast to Texas in a month can get pretty pricey, has led to my sister and I forming our own celebration on our own. We are both foodie bloggers, so it’s become more a cooking challenge. This year, she’s coming down Wednesday and staying through the weekend, so we’ve planned out a fantastic menu for her, myself, Chris, and any other friends who need a place to eat/escape on Turkey day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How To: Caramelize Onions

There's nothing better than a plain old cheeseburger sometimes. The soft yet toasty sesame seed bun, the juicy meat with just a touch of pink for me (I'm the weirdo that loves my steaks black and blue but my burgers have to be at the very least medium), melty sharp cheddar, the crisp of the lettuce and the soft, satisfying bite of an almost sweetly acidic of the tomato. Perfection... almost.
The only thing missing to take it from good to absolute carnivore deliciousness is the onions. No, not raw (which for some reason give me a headache), but those lovely, browned, sweet with a hint of char, caramelized onion. Not just the perfect accompaniment for a burger, but for steaks, dips, soups, pastas, omelettes... I could go on, but you get the idea. It's a little time consuming, especially if you're making a bunch, but it's so worth it. 1 large onion will yield about 1/4 cup so you can judge from there how many you should use.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spiced Pepita Crusted Tilapia with Pickled Green Tomatoes

This was a pretty cool little recipe I came up with pretty much on the fly. And a great back story which is always fun in explaining the back end of how something came together. My parents just returned from a epic tour of the South and let me tell you, they know how to live it up. The best hotels, amazing activities, and of course, the most decadent food that could be had in New Orleans, Mobile, Charleston, Florida, etc. One of the things my Mom picked up for me in a little shop in Charleston though was a jar of our shared love, pickled green tomatoes. No, not chow chow, but largish green, perfectly pickled green tomato pieces. The kind that I'll eat straight from the jar, but are also excellent with a deep fried piece of catfish.
So coming home from the airport on Monday after a wonderful alma mater Homecoming weekend in Dallas, those pickles were all I could think of. And yes, I'd happily make those my dinner any exhausting night of the week but sitting on a plane for 4 hours also allows for my creative juices to flow so it just evolved from there. Catfish, breaded and  panfried. Maybe some roasted onions and okra. But that's just so... plain. And the catfish at the fish market looks... not good. But the tilapia looks fresh and it's another fresh water flakey white fish. And how about some roasted ground pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) in place of the breadcrumbs, with the same delicious spices? Served over my favorite carb mixture of Texmati and quinoa. Well the verdict is, it works. Actually it's delicious, the pepitas make it so fitting for autumn, but it's still light and provides a nice crispy breading for the fish which is a nice compromise between regular breadcrumbs and all out nut crusts like pecan. And the leftover ground pepita mixture helped to thicken up the sauce without the use of any cream.


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