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Green Garlic & Asiago Potato Pancakes! April 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — crankychef @ 4:38 am

I hadn’t really been able to cook at home recently, so I was really excited to get back in the kitchen tonight. I ended up spending three hours in the kitchen, just cooking for myself!

First, a snack: Romano-Pepper Breadsticks and a Creamy Red Pepper Dip, perfect for an antipasto plate.

The breadsticks are not only straightforward, but it’s easy to eyeball ingredients and add moisture as necessary. They are also great because it’s easy to throw them together with whatever ingredients you have already. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine: 1 cup flour (a combo of white and wheat would be ideal, I just grabbed some cake flour), 1/4 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese, 1t fresh black pepper. Once mixed, add in 5T water and 1t olive oil. Mix into a dough (add water and even oil, if neccesary), then knead 4-5 times on a lightly floured surface. Roll into 18 8″ sticks, and bake for 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Now, for our sauce: Combine 2T golden raisins and 2T balsamic vinegar, throw in the microwave for 45 seconds and then let sit for 10 minutes. Drain the raisins, and then combine them in a food processor with the following: 3T ricotta, 2T cream cheese, 2T chopped parsley, 2T fresh chopped basil, 2/4t honey, 1 12oz. jar of drained and chopped roasted red bell pepper. Add salt and pepper, to taste. The result is sweet and savory, would make an excellent sandwich spread.

This is what you end up with:
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Now, on to the main event: Potato Pancakes with Green Garlic and Asiago. I just recently learned about green garlic, which is essentially ‘young’ garlic that is milder than it’s more mature form. You can also use the green stalks, much like a green onion. So, I’ve been dying to cook with it at home and I am absolutely happy with the result.

Potato pancakes are a hard thing. I’ve never been particularly good at making nice, firm, dry patties. So, my dinner tonight was more like an insanely rich hash, and I’m 100% okay with that. In fact, by serving in a hash form you don’t really need the garnish that pancakes beg for.

The hardest part is waiting for the potatoes to boil and cool before shredding. It’s a brutal waiting period, but worth it. Boil 1 pound yukon potatoes for 20 minutes, saving a bit of the potato water before draining (to prevent the garlic from sticking). Once the potatoes are cool enough, skin and grate them. Dice up 3 heads of green garlic (don’t forget to dice the green stalks!), and saute in 1T olive oil with s&p for ~5 minutes, adding saved potato water to prevent burning and sticking. Mix your cooked garlic in with the potato, add some more s&p. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1T sour cream/yogurt/creme fraiche/labneh, and mix in with potato. Mix in 1 ounce grated asiago cheese. Last but not least mix in 1/2T flour. Now you are ready to fry your pancakes in vegetable oil. Serve with your dairy of choice (sour cream, etc.) or enjoy alone.

I can’t possibly describe how awesome the green garlic is. Here is a sideways (will fix later) picture of it cooking, followed by the final product:

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Chicken Fajita Tacos with Jicama and Mango April 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — crankychef @ 2:44 am
Tags: ,

It’s only April but here in the central valley we got hit with a heatwave of 95 degree afternoons. I hadn’t cooked for a while so I was pretty excited to return to the kitchen, but I kept finding recipes that required oven time. This dish is not only very easy but requires very little stovetop time. I will definitely be revisiting in the summer. The following recipe would probably make 3-4 servings, depending on your appetite, and is modified from Cooking Light.

Jicama and Mango Salsa: Julienne about 3/4 cups jicama, 1/2 cup mango, 1/4 cup red onion. Combine 1T fresh lime juice, a dash of each¬† sugar, salt, and pepper. If you want this more ‘salsa’ like, dice your ingredients.

Chicken Fajita Filling: Take about a half pound of chicken breasts and slice into fajita chunks. Mix together 1/4t each chili powder and cumin, and about 1/8t ground chile pepper (or cayenne powder is a good substitute). Lightly salt your chicken, then sprinkle spice mixture evenly over your pieces. Saute in 1t olive oil
for about 3 minutes, or until cooked. Remove chicken, and saute 1/2 a red bell pepper and 1/2 cup red onion, each sliced thin. Cook the veggies for only about 2 minutes, then return the chicken in with them and cook another couple minutes.

Heat corn tortillas. Add a few mixed greens. Maybe, if you want a treat, some sour cream. Then chicken and veggies. Then salsa. Marvel at how easy it was to make such a colorful and beautiful dish.

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Black Bean and Yam Burritos with Spicy Corn April 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — crankychef @ 3:36 am
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Oh boy, this one is a winner! Not particularly low cal, but healthy nonetheless and vegan up until the last (optional) step.

  • Peel and cube 1 large yam (or 2 small… and as a side note, I will never refer to a yam as a sweet potato in this blog. To imply they are interchangeable is an insult to their distinct tastes!). Throw your cubes in a pot of salted water, bring to a boil, and simmer for ~10 minutes or until soft. I casually mashed them with a wooden spoon. Stir in juice of 1/2 lemon and salt to taste.
  • While your yam’s are boiling, heat up 1T oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute up 1 diced onion, a few cloves minced garlic, and 1 chile pepper. As I’m not a spicy food fan I picked up an incredibly mild and inoffensive anaheim pepper, but if you like heat you probably know more about what kind of pepper you’d like in your burrito. I wouldn’t presume to tell you. Once your onions are nice and soft (~5 minutes, stirring occasionally), cook an additional minute or so with generous shakes of each cumin and coriander, and a modest shake of cayenne.
  • Drain and rinse 1 can of black beans.
  • Grease up a glass cooking dish (generous amount of cooking spray will do). Load up a flour tortilla with a layer of each: mashed yams, onion mixture, and beans. The amount may vary by the size of your tortilla, I got 5 burritos out of a standard bag of tortillas. Fold each burrito up, and place seam side down into your cooking pan. Make sure your burritos are nice and snug with each other, then bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  • While your babies are baking, you have plenty of time to do all the dishes, drink a beer, grate cheddar cheese, and make this delicious corn side:
  • Heat 1T oil over medium-low heat in a pot of your choosing. Toss in 1 bag of frozen corn (Trader Joe’s Roasted Corn is my favorite, otherwise I will use any brand’s white corn), stir occasionally for 5-10 minutes, until thawed and warm. Stir in 1 small can of diced chilis, some cumin and chili powder, a chopped serrano if so desired, and salt to taste.
  • Now’s the best part: when your burritos are done baking, sprinkle with aforementioned cheddar cheese, and throw under the broiler until the edges are browned. They will look like this:

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That may look like a lot of cheese, but it actually wasn’t. More than anything my modest layer of cheese added crunch and saltiness. I had expected these to be real knife-and-fork burritos, like an enchilada. But I ate ’em with my hands and forked up the droppings along with my corn.

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Quick Broccoli Pasta April 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — crankychef @ 3:30 am
Tags: ,

I swear at some point I will post things that are not ridiculously easy, simple, and great for dining alone. But, lately that’s how I’ve been living with food. Frankly, these are the kind of recipes I look for when cooking at the end of a busy day so even though they seem a bit pedestrian. They are also the easiest to type up!

This is a great pasta dish that is not only ridiculously simple, but I have a feeling my leftovers will make a great cold pasta salad for lunch. Even fresh and warm, this would be a great summer dish as it is pretty light but satisfying. The only change from the original recipe that I made is an increase in the oil for saute’ing the garlic. They called for 1t but it was frankly too little to prevent some burning. And, actually, as I re-read the recipe, I guess I was supposed to use peeled, trimmed, chopped broccoli stalks as well. But it’s okay that I missed that part, since I usually pick out stalks in favor of the more flavorful and nutritious florets…

Boil up 8 ounces of orriechette or similar small pasta (such as shells, as here, or bowties) until al dente. Before draining, save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. In a large skillet, saute ~2 minced cloves of garlic in 1T olive oil, about 2 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Add reserved pasta water and broccoli florets and stalks (about 1 bunch/1.5 pounds of broccoli), cook for about 3 minutes, or until broccoli is beautiful bright green. Salt and pepper to taste, this dish is particularly good when salted generously.  Remove from heat, and add your pasta into the skillet.

If you care about presentation, serve up individually and drizzle lightly with olive oil and some freshly grated cheese (pecorino is great). But for my lonely Friday night pajama dinner, I just stirred in 2T asiago into the skillet and stirred it in with another 1T olive oil. Because, really, am I going to drizzle olive oil and fresh cheese onto this for lunch leftovers tomorrow? No.

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