Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

Super Bowl Recipe #4:  We love grilling.  Something about that mix of hot fire, cast iron grates, and charcoal is absolutely intoxicating.  Here we grill spicy green jalapenos stuffed with a blend of extra sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and topped with a great smoky seasoning that ties it all together.  Until last weekend, we'd gone months without making these, and holy cow, they are even better than we remembered.  If you’re lucky enough to have grill weather this time of year, get out there and fire some of these up!  

8 jalapenos, halved, seeds and insides removed
1 cup finely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup finely grated Monterey Jack cheese
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix together cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.  In a small bowl, mix cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.  Pack each jalapeno with some cheese mixture (amount will vary based on the size of jalapeno).  Sprinkle each with a dash of the seasoning mix. 

Heat grill to medium or medium high.  These jalapenos aren’t picky about temperature; any grill that is hot will do.  Place stuffed jalapenos on the grill, close cover, and grill until cheese is all melted, between 2 and 5 minutes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tsunami Wings

Super Bowl Recipe #3:  This great alternative to the classic buffalo chicken wing will astonish you with its flavor and spice.  Essentially a joining together of garlic butter, lemon pepper, and cajun spices, it’s a combination that the local Cajun seafood places have used to attract foodies from all over southern California.  This is our recipe for this delicious sauce, only in honor of the upcoming Super Bowl, applied to chicken wings.  We like to grill the wings, because, well, grilled chicken wings taste awesome, and I like to play with fire.  Of course, you can easily fry, sauté, or bake your wings, and they’ll work just as well.

1 ½ lbs chicken wings
½ cup unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
7 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
zest and juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Spice Mix
1 1/8 cup chicken broth
4 green onions, chopped

Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
¾ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground thyme
½ teaspoon oregano

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and spices together.

Place chicken wings in a plastic bag with 1 cup chicken broth.  Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sauté shallots until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté for a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.  Take off heat and add salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons Spice Mix, and chicken broth.  Any remaining Spicy Mix can be saved for another time.

If grilling, preheat grill to around 350 degrees.  Brush canola oil over grates, to prevent sticking, and immediately place chicken wings on grill and close the lid.  Come back in a few minutes to check; once the bottoms of the wings are nice and crispy, move them aside, brush a little more canola oil on grates, and flip them over.  Once both sides are a little crispy, put wings in a bowl and toss with your sauce.  Place them back on the grill for about a minute to let the sauce thicken and stick to the wings, and then remove from heat and toss again with more sauce.

Serve wings with chopped green onions sprinkled on top.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spicy Seasoned Loaded Guacamole

Super Bowl Sunday recipe #2: Guacamole.  Now you wouldn’t think something as innocent as guacamole could cause such turmoil.  I like my mashed avocadoes mixed with stuff, filled with spicy red onions and Serrano peppers, tomatoes for fresh sweetness, and seasonings like cumin and garlic powder for earthy depth.  Jenn, on the other hand, is a minimalist with guacamole.  She likes hers with avocado, salt, pepper, and lime juice.  That’s it.  We’ve learned to keep the peace and our taste buds happy by making both kinds.  Since hers is pretty self-explanatory, here is the recipe for mine, the good stuff…

2 avocados, fairly soft, peeled and pit removed 
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ red onion, minced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 roma tomato, pulp removed, then diced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

In a medium bowl, mash avocado and mix with lime juice and vinegar. Stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder.  Mix in red onion, Serrano pepper, cilantro, and chopped tomato.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pizza Dip

For those who haven’t experienced the wonders of pizza dip –  imagine a gooey layer of garlicky, herbed cream cheese, then a layer of marinara sauce and green peppers, topped with mozzarella cheese and all your favorite pizza toppings.  We like jalapenos!  Toss the bowl in the middle of the table, give chips for dipping, and you've got one pretty amazing Super Bowl snack.  When that bowl runs out, they'll cry harder than when their team loses.

8 ounce brick of cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 14 oz jar pizza sauce
2 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 jalapeno, sliced (or any other toppings you want)
dash of paprika

Heat oven to 375.  Mix the cream cheese with the garlic powder, Italian seasoning, parsley, and oregano.  Spread in oven-proof dish.  Sprinkle about a 1/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon of the parmesan cheese on top.  In a small bowl, mix the pizza sauce, scallions, and green pepper.  Spread sauce mixture over the cheeses in the oven proof dish.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan, then top with sliced jalapenos and a dash of paprika.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Braised Chicken Thighs with Herbed Noodles

This is a recipe for those lazy weekend days where time is in abundance.  Though there are a lot of steps, some of them can be done and then set aside.  I like to get the mushrooms browned and onions braised, then take a break and finish the rest later in the afternoon.  French cooking techniques allow you to get some truly decadent flavors and textures, and we love the way the herbed noodles underneath pick up all that thick, delicious sauce.

Browned mushrooms:
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Brown braised onions:
6 ounces pearl onions, peeled (it helps place in boiling water for 3 minutes and then rinse with cold water)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs parsley, and 2 sprigs oregano wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni

Garlic and Herb Paste:
1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
7 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Braised Chicken Thighs:
1 pound chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on)
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups red wine
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs parsley, and 2 sprigs oregano, 1 sprig thyme wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni

Herbed Noodles:
1 pound spaghetti (or noodle of choice)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon garlic oil
2 cups chopped parley
¼ cup chopped oregano
¼ cup chopped tarragon
2 cups arugula, wilted and chopped
1/3 cup grated parmeggiano reggiano cheese

1) brown mushrooms:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.  Once the butter has melted and the bubbles in the mixture have started to subside, add the chopped mushrooms.  Stir continuously, allowing the mushrooms to absorb the butter and oil mixture.  After a few minutes, once the mushrooms have begun to brown and release their juices take off heat.  Sprinkle with dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Set aside.

2) brown braise onions:
Melt butter and oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  When the butter and oil mixture starts to bubble, add the onions.  Roll the onions in the mixture to ensure as even browning as possible.  Once the onions are brown, which takes about 7 minutes, add the red wine, chicken broth and bouquet garni.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, simmering for 35-45 minutes, or until the braising liquid has evaporated. Remove bouquet garni.  Set aside.

3) prepare garlic and herb paste:
In small bowl, mix together fresh herbs, minced garlic, butter and salt until a paste is formed. 

4) prep and braise chicken thighs:
Under the skin of each chicken thigh, generously spread garlic and herb paste.  In a Dutch oven or large pot, melt the butter and olive oil over high heat.  Place the chicken thighs in the Dutch oven, making sure the pieces do not overlap.  You want the pieces of chicken to get nice and brown.  Brown both sides of the chicken, about 6 minutes each.  Once browned, add the red wine, chicken broth, tomato paste, and bouquet garni.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.  Remove bouquet garni and stir in the browned mushrooms and braised onions. 

5) prepare herbed noodles:
Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  While still hot, place cooked spaghetti in a large bowl, and coat with butter and garlic oil.  Toss with parsley, oregano, tarragon, and arugula, and sprinkle grated cheese.

To serve, plate noodles with chicken and sauce on top.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lime Spiced Cashews

Spiced nuts are such a perfect snack for entertaining.  They  take minutes to make, they can be made a few days in advance, and they have that easy to munch quality that'll keep your guests coming back for just one more handful... and one more... and one more...  They can also be a great opportunity to bring together different flavors without appearing intimidating.  Here we combine just a tiny bit of hickory smoked flavor with the spice of various ground peppers and top it off with the fresh, sweet and sour taste of lime.  These nuts pack a shocking amount of flavor and are so much healthier than any of the prepackaged stuff. 

5 ounces plain, unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
1 ½ tablespoons Spice Mix
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 limes, cut into wedges

Spice Mix:
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
¾ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground thyme
½ teaspoon oregano

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and spices together.
In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the cashews, ½ teaspoon liquid smoke, and 1 ½ tablespoons spice mix.  Sauté for about 3-4 minutes, until cashews turn golden brown.  Take off heat, and sprinkle another ¼ teaspoon kosher salt on the cashews.  When cashews have cooled, squeeze fresh lime juice over the spiced nuts. Remaining spice mix can be saved for another time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fresh Fettuccine with Orange Prosciutto Cream Sauce

2012 is the start of a whole new era for us, an era filled with heaping mounds of fresh, homemade pasta, thanks to my new Christmas present, a shiny, beautiful, Atlas 150 Pasta Maker.  This is something we have been wanting for a long time, and I have to say, it is well worth the 85 bucks, especially if you make pasta a lot.  These noodles taste shockingly delicious right out of the boiling water!  After a trial run or two to get used to the process, we officially celebrated this appliance’s homecoming into our kitchen by making one of our favorite, and very distinctive, Italian pasta dishes.  This is our heavily modified, and even more flavorful, take on a pasta recipe from Bon Appetit.  With the prominent orange flavor and complimentary spiciness and saltiness of red pepper and prosciutto, add some peas for depth and color, it is surprising how addictive this dish can be, given the unusual flavor profile.

4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 shallot, minced
4 ounces prosciutto, chopped into 1 inch chunks
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas
1 pound fresh (or dried) fettuccine
freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste

Boil water in a large pot, seasoning generously with salt.  Add pasta and cook for about 2 minutes (if using fresh pasta).  You want the pasta to be about a minute from al dente (or fully al dente with thicker fresh pasta) so that it can finish cooking in the sauce.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain. 

In a large sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.  Add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the prosciutto pieces and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute.  Add heavy cream, orange juice, orange zest, and ½ cup reserved pasta water.  Bring mixture to a boil and add the almost-cooked pasta, peas, and remaining ½ tablespoon butter.  Once pasta is cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cucumber Sandwiches

Cucumbers are an unappreciated vegetable, oftentimes just tossed haphazardly into salads.  Recently, Seth and I ordered sandwiches from a deli that seemed promising.  Though the thickly-packed sandwiches were a bit lackluster in flavor, we couldn't get enough of the big, fresh chunks of cucumber hidden within.  Bright, crunchy, and delicious, this vegetable became the star of the show, and we found ourselves hoping to encounter more cucumber with each bite.  In tribute, here is a cucumber sandwich recipe to celebrate its secret awesomeness.

1 loaf rye bread
1 English cucumber, sliced
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, softened
dash Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
fresh parsley sprigs
lemon wedges
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Beat the cream cheese, butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.  Spread some mixture on a slice of rye bread.  Place slices of cucumber on top of the mixture.  Add sprigs of parsley to the top of the cucumber.  Sprinkle some fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper on top of that.  Place another slice of bread on top, and cut off the crusts. 
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