Yum Peaceful Cooking: October 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sonoran Honey Streusel Coffee Cake - The New Southwest Cookbook Giveaway!!!

Before we talk about the Giveaway, let me just

Do you ever have one of those days...where you wonder if you shouldn't have even stepped foot in the kitchen that morning?

Saturday ended up being a day of discoveries.

I discovered that my dishwasher door is being weird...it's sticking shut while the handle that you squeeze to unlock it just sorta disappears into itself.

I also discovered that my oven takes foreeeeeeeeeever to heat up to the proper temperature. As in, after the preheat phase....and the required 45 minute baking time, the temp was 100' below the needed 350'F mark. That happened as I was baking this delicious coffee cake. I opened the oven door as the timer went off...toothpick in hand, ready for the plunge (do you know that this is probably the only reason I own toothpicks?) and I stopped breathing...in total disbelief as I tugged on the rack and witnessed the soppy center sloshing around.

My mind raced....did I set the timer right? Forget to put in an ingredient? Did I measure everything correctly? Is my oven ON? (oh yes....the heat is steaming up my glasses, it's definitely on). I double checked the recipe...everything looks good there. So I got out my oven thermometer, pushed the rack back in, along with my mess and reset the timer (a few times)......

Aaaaand that's when I broke out the bourbon. It was well past 5:00pm, so it was an overdue action anyway. (But that's another story for a different post).

I could tell the cake was finally cooked when it smelled delicious as the aroma filled the house.

Anyways...the moral of this story is...when things aren't going right...don't just give up. Think a minute...try and salvage the situation before you toss in the towel. I mean...what's the worse that could happen? You might have to toss it anyway. But....maybe not....

Thank God that wasn't the case this time because the is one good coffee cake. Especially if you're a honey lover....as in Pooh bear kind of honey lover. I suggest you use your favorite honey for this recipe if you can't get Sonoran honey. But then again....is there such a thing as a honey that doesn't taste good? phhht....silly bear.

And the topping....oooh my oh my. It almost caramelizes and gets crunchy. This might be my favorite streusel.

Sonoran Honey Streusel Coffee Cake
Printable Version

for the cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground canela (or cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup Sonoran honey (or your favorite local honey)
2/3 cup buttermilk

for the topping:
6 TB cubed butter, chilled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350'F

Line a 9" square baking dish with parchment paper

Cream together the butter and sugar until light an fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, canela (or cinnamon) and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture gradually, alternating with the honey and then buttermilk. Mix until just combined. Pour into your prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, using your fingers, combine the chilled butter cubes, brown sugar and flour until you have uniform crumbles. Sprinkle over the batter evenly.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a cake tester toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan.

Slice and serve and totally enjoy the richness of this coffee cake.

I've only tried 3 recipes from this book, two of them were my choice (the first one was chosen for the group). It was really hard to pin down just two. There are so many more I have tagged for trying later....such as an almond-crusted pear tres leches cake (holy cow!!) and the stacked squash enchiladas...and and...roasted crema. Ok, I'll stop there (for now). My mouth is watering. You should see all these photos! And did I tell you? In the front of the book is a whole section dedicated to the southwestern pantry. What you should have, what it is, what it looks like, what you do with it. If you're just getting into making southwestern food....fear not, Megan will hold your hand right through the learning stage.

And now for some more good stuff.......

The contest! And I'm not the only one giving away The New Southwest Cookbook.

There are more than a dozen of us participating. And that means there are more chances for you to win. Woooo hoooo!!!

1. Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment on this blog post letting me know what your favorite Southwestern dish is.
2. Tons of optional entries in rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hippocrene will be supplying 14 copies of The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi for this giveaway, in conjunction with The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight. Contest is open to anybody with a shipping address in the USA. Submissions will be accepted via the rafflecopter widget through 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Fourteen winners will be chosen by random draw, verified, and be notified by email (from Heather at girlichef) within 48 hours of the close of this contest. The winner should respond within 24 hours of notification, or a new winner will be drawn in their place. Good Luck!

This post is part of The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight sponsored by Hippocreneand hosted at girlichef.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Navajo Tacos

Navajo Tacos. Say what?

Say....mmmmmm. This is one amazing dish! What we have here is a great infusion. Navajo Fry Bread topped with New Mexico Green Chile Stew.

Now don't go thinking you can pick this baby up with your hands and eat it like a traditional taco. Unless you're into totally messy food! Not that there isn't great totally messy foods to do that with (burgers, burritos, traditional tacos) but I think you'd probably end up with most of that stew back on the plate. At best. Just get out your fork and knife and go to town on this baby. And use that last bite of fry bread to sop up any juices that might be left over cuz seriously, you won't want to leave anything behind.

This is another great recipe from Megan Micozzi's (of ScarlettaBakes.com) cookbook, The New Southwest. If you missed it, I posted a recipe last week of hers, Mushroom and Leek Migas. At the time, my copy of the cookbook hadn't arrived yet. When I got home from work on Friday, I was thrilled to see the little (somewhat worn) package on the table. Apparently it went to the wrong address first. So I grabbed the book as I raced out the door, headed to my friends house. Once there, I curled up on her couch with a little sip of something (much needed at the end of a long week) and thoroughly browsed the lovely pages.

Gorgeous, hard cover...lots of amazing photos to make anyone drool...even if they aren't hungry.

I'm not sure exactly what made me choose Navajo Tacos. I think part of it had to do with the fry bread. I have 3 different American Indian tribes running through my blood yet I've never eaten American Indian food. Although Navajo is not among the three....I couldn't help but being pulled in.

So, I'm going to be sharing two recipes with you here. One for the Navajo Fry Bread and one for the New Mexico Green Chile Stew.

Important Note about the Navajo Fry Bread: Before I begin, I need to let you know that there is a type-o in the cookbook regarding the fry bread. Megan was contacted and it has been confirmed. The book lists 2 cups of water, which is incorrect. Please adjust the amount to 1/2 cup water.

Navajo Fry Bread
Printable Version

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your hands
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 TB powdered milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup very warm water (corrected amount)
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Pour in the warm water (water should be as warm as possible but not so warm that you can't comfortably work with it). Using your hand, mix the water into the dry ingredients, moving in a circular motion until all of the dry ingredients have absorbed the water. This is a very dry dough. If you can't get the dough to come together, add a tiny bit more water...1 TB at a time. Be careful though, you don't want the dough to be too wet.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large pot to 350' F.

Pull off a plum sized piece of dough and using your hands, dusted with flour, flatten the dough into a disk, about 1/4" thick

Carefully place into the hot oil and fry for about 60-90 seconds per side, until puffy, crisp and cooked through. Place on a paper towel lined plate and continue with the remaining dough. This makes about 12 pieces of bread.

Now, for the New Mexico Green Chile Stew. I made two changes. One by choice. The other by necessity. Instead of using pork and beef stock, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and chicken stock. The other change was in the actual usage of chilies. I only had about 1 cup or so of Hatch chilies so I roasted some Anaheim chilies to fill the gap. Only apparently 12 Anaheim chilies do not yield 2 cups. So I added some canned diced green chilies of unknown kind. It was still amazingly delicious!

New Mexico Green Chili Stew
Printable Version

6 TB olive oil, divided
2 lbs boneless pork loin, cut into 2" cubes (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 TB minced garlic
1/4 cup masa harina
3 cups beef broth (I used chicken broth)
1 TB ground cumin
1 TB ground coriander
1 tsp ground oregano, Mexican oregano if possible
3 cups Hatch green chilies, roasted, peeled, stemmed and *seeded (I used a combination of Hatch, Anaheim and canned)
Salt and pepper to taste

*if you like heat, leave the seeds in.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot such as a dutch oven or bean pot, heat 3 TB of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches so that the meat is in a single layer, brown all sides of your meat. Remove from pot and set aside. Continue until you have all the meat browned.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the now empty pot. Cook until tender, caramelized and very fragrant, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add the masa harina and the remaining 3 TB of olive oil, stirring together and cooking for an additional 2 minutes.

Stir in the broth, de-glazing the pan if necessary. Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, chilies and chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 - 50 minutes. If you find that the pot is too hot for a simmer, pull the lid slightly to side to allow a crack for some of the heat to escape while cooking.

Stew is done when the meat is tender and the stew has thickened. It will thicken more as it cools. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I did add some salt but I didn't think it needed the pepper.

To serve, place Navajo Fry Bread on a place and top with the stew.

Garnish if desired. I used Queso Fresco. Avocados and cilantro would also be wonderful choices.

There are about 15 of us playing around in The New Southwest Cookbook so by all means, check them all out. You can find us all listed here:

Last week we all made the same thing...with some delicious variations. This week, we all got to choose what we wanted to make. Aaaaand....next week we'll be hosting a MEGA GIVEAWAY! Lots of copies of this gem being given to lots of lucky people.

This post is part of The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlightsponsored by Hippocrene and hosted at girlichef.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce

I have a new found respect for pumpkin.

And that's saying a lot for someone who doesn't really like pumpkin pie.

I recently discovered a group of bloggers in my area who meet once a month. I have never met another food blogger, face to face. That I know of. (or that I can remember) Do you know how excited I was to attend my first meeting...and meet real live people who are just as obsessed with food and pictures and writing about it all, as I am?

Oh man...I felt like I was going to my first ever party.

Then I found out that everyone needed to bring a dish.

Ok, that's cool.

A pumpkin dish.


Then the nerves set it. What can I bring that will live up to whatever expectations other bloggers have? I certainly don't want to bring the same dish as someone else. I considered my Pumpkin Cheesecake but pushed it to the back of my mind for a bit. Then decided to experiment and see what my other options were.

One of the many dishes that I considered and reviewed was this Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo. Although I was skeptical. I mean...I imagined pumpkin pie tossed with tortellini. Not a good visual, or mental taste test. Upon noticing that it only contained 1/2 cup of pumpkin...my reservations lifted a bit and I went for. As in...test run for dinner.

I wonder if my family realize how often they're used as guinea pigs. Or if they care.

(do you see how few ingredients there are?!)

Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
inspired by Food Network
Printable Version

2 9oz packages of cheese tortellini (I only used a 14oz package. worked fine)
1 TB butter
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
Pinch of nutmeg (freshly ground if you have it)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream (ya ya, I used whipping cream)
1/4 parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped sage for garnish (ooptional)

Cook the tortellini according to package directions.

In a skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots. Cook and stir until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and nutmeg and continue cooking for another minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in the cream, stirring to blend and bring to a low boil.

While still stirring, reduce heat and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in the cheese and cook for another minute, until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tortellini and garnish with cheese and sage if desired.

Oh man...this dish is subtle in flavor yet rich. Each bite leaves you wanting more. It's so good that I made it again. Less than a week later.

Another bonus: you know how you have that little bit of pumpkin puree leftover from making all your holiday desserts? Well this is the perfect dish for using that up.

But I did not bring this to the food blogger meeting.

Not because it wasn't amazing and delicious. Not because it would shame me in any shape or form.

I didn't bring it because....I had a slight hangover and it didn't sound like it would be very good for brunch. So I brought pumpkin cheesecake which I had made the day before (as a backup plan...just in case).

Thank god no one else brought the same thing. And yes...the food was amazing, as one would expect. I just wish I could've fit everything on the table is this one photo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mushroom and Leek Migas

It's that time again....time to Spotlight a new amazing cookbook. I'm sure most of you are acquainted with the author in some form or another. She's a fellow blogger (I love when this happens!) by the name of Meagan Micozzi. She has an amazing blog (of course) called Scarletta Bakes

She's been giving away some amazing stuff lately so I highly, highly recommend that you give her visit and see if you can win something.

So...she has this new cookbook, The New Southwest

and I'm here to tall you about it...during the next 3 weeks. Aaaaaaand (this is a BIG and) during the 3rd week, I'll be giving this cookbook away to one of you lucky people.

But let's explore a little. See what's inside. I mean, you never buy a cookbook without browsing through the pages first, right?

So for this week, Mushroom and Leek Migas is on the menu. It's typically a breakfast dish but how many of you love to eat breakfast for dinner? I'm a huge fan, that's for sure. Which is why I chose to make this for dinner. It's quick, easy and delish! I had all of the ingredients on hand

...except for the leek. Oh...and the cheese. So I ran to the store...(because I needed a bottle of wine anyway) and picked them up. Not long after I got home, dinner was served. But honestly, if you don't want to run to the store...you can use any kind of cheese you want. If you don't have a leek on hand, use whatever onion you've got.

It's all good.

Talk about a great meal for those busy weeknights. Loaded with flavor and guaranteed not to send you to bed hungry. Do you have a vegetarian in the house? Peeeerfeeeeeeect! Can't go wrong there.

And one more thing, if dirty dishes aren't your thing...then you're going to love this even more. One pan is all you need.

Mushroom and Leek Migas
Printable Version

4 5" corn tortillas
1 1/4 cups oil (divided)
10 large eggs
1/4 heavy cream (milk will do if that's all you have)
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz crimini mushrooms (or whatever you prefer would be just fine)
1 leek, ends removed and sliced
2 TB minced garlic (or to taste)
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese (or whatever you have on hand)

Cut the tortillas in half then slice into thin strips (about 1/2"). Heat 1 cup of oil in a large heavy bottom saucepan over medium high heat.

Working in batches, fry the tortilla strips for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned, flipping as needed. Keep an eye on them. They go from golden brown to burnt real quick.

 Remove from pan to a towel lined plate or baking sheet.

(if you really really want to save time, you can buy tortilla strips from the market, but honestly they're not as good. Just sayin')

Whisk together the eggs and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once you're finished with the strips, rinse out the pan and heat up the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat.

Saute the mushrooms for about 3 minutes or until tender (ooooh they smell so good). Add the leek and saute for another 2 minutes. Then add the garlic.

The aroma level just jump up several notches! Seriously!

Saute for a minute before pouring in the egg. Stir constantly in a circular motion until the eggs begin to solidify then add those lovely crispy tortilla strips.

Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the eggs are cooked through.

Remove from heat, top with the amazing, tangy Manchego cheese and serve. If you'd like, chop up some cilantro, avocado, maybe a little tomato and sprinkle on top as well

Holy moly....good stuff I tell ya! I can't wait to try something else from this book.

Stay tuned for the next feature....coming your way in the very near future.

There are about 15 of us playing around in The New Southwest Cookbook so by all means, check them all out. You can find us all listed here: http://www.girlichef.com/2013/10/TheNewSouthwest-CookbookSpotlight.html

This post is part of The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlightsponsored by Hippocrene and hosted at girlichef.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Millet with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Many, many moons ago I raised and bred birds (at one point I had about 80) and millet was no stranger to me. I'd buy it by the bags full.

And feed it to my birds.

During my last trip to the farmers market, I asked a gal that had a nice spread of dried beans and grains if she had any quinoa. Her response was "I only sell stuff that's grown in the USA and quinoa isn't". I had never thought of that. Her next statement went something like this..."but I have millet. It's very similar to quinoa and is cooked the same way with just a bit more water. It has the same nutrients and a lot of people like it better because it doesn't have that 'soapy' taste that quinoa has." (well...if you rinse quinoa before cooking it, it will not have that undesirable hint of soap when cooked)....but I remained quiet and let her sell me a small amount of millet).

After some research on my part, I found out that millet doesn't have the same nutritional value as quinoa so don't get overly excited, although it is very good for you. I'd say it lies somewhere between quinoa and brown rice.  I do like the fact that it's grown in the USA. I think. Let me rephrase that. I like that it provides jobs here in the USA because it's grown here. Other than that, where food is concerned..."made in the USA" doesn't make me feel better about eating it.

But, I digress.

When cooking millet (btw, millet is not a grain. It's a seed.) the ratio to liquid is 3 to 1 (unlike quinoa and rice which is 2 to 1).  But, Just like the other two, if you want it dryer or wetter, just adjust the liquid ratio. Millet has a more earthy flavor to it and is actually quite good.

Especially when it's sauteed and cooked with veggies.

And I kinda liked the idea of feeding my family..."bird food".

Millet with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Printable Version

1 cup whole millet
3 cups chicken broth
2 tsp olive oil
4-6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb asparagus cut into 1-2" pieces (green beans are a great alternative)
Salt and pepper

In a dry sauce pan, over medium heat, brown the millet to give it a more nutty, toasty flavor. (this step is optional).

Pour 3 cups of hot chicken broth into the pan with the millet. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 - 25 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

While the millet is simmering, in a medium skillet heat the olive oil. Add the sliced mushrooms and asparagus and saute until crisp tender or to your desired tenderness.

When the millet is cooked, fluff with a fork and toss in the cooked mushrooms and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bifteck Hache a la Lyonnaise - Ground Beef with Onions and Herbs

Leave it to Julia Child to make ground beef sound special! Or maybe it's just the French language. But since my introduction to this dish was from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I'll give Julia the credit.

My trip to the Hollywood Farmers Market over the weekend was different than most. I was not zoned in on vegetables. My mission was to check out raw milk and grass fed beef. With all the scares and concerns out there, I really wanted to do some research and see what my doable options were. The opinions and concerns out there are all very real on various levels. I personally think its a crime shame that eating healthy (ie: organic, grass fed, free range, etc etc) is so expensive. I still don't understand how pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and such can be less expensive than growing the product the way it's meant to be....as is.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'll leave it at that.

I found some wonderful pasture-grazed ground beef for about $5.00 lb. (the price will be going up by $2.00 per pound later this month). I splurged and bought some.

As I continued to wander around the market, my mind was trying to decide what to do with it. Of course spaghetti and meatballs came to mind...as did sweet and sour meatballs, and a number of other common menus. None sounded right. I didn't want to hide the flavor of the beef....I felt it needed to shine, center stage in order for me to really taste the difference.

Luckily, in a moment of silliness, when I got home I decided to check Mastering the Art of French Cooking, As I opened the book, I thought "surely the French don't eat something as mundane as ground beef!"

Oooooh, how wrong I was.

This delicious patty would make an amazing hamburger! (what do you think of them apples?) Simple, few ingredients and lots of butter. Seems to be a huge theme in MtAoFC. I don't know why I never realized this before but...Julia Child was the queen of butter. Paula Deen has nothing on her!

Ground Beef with Onions and Herbs
(Bifteck Hache a la Lyonnaise)
Printable Version

1/4 cup minced yellow onion (I used what I had...white)
7-8 TB butter, divided
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp thyme (I used savory)
1 egg
1/2 flour
1 TB oil
1/2 cup beef stock, beef bouillon, dry white wine, dry white vermouth, red wine or 1/4 cup water (I used dry white vermouth)

In a heavy skillet, melt 2 TB butter. Cook the onions in the butter until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the onions, beef, 2 TB softened butter, salt, pepper, thyme and egg. Mix until thoroughly blended. Form the mixture into 6 patties, about 3/4 inch thick.

At this point you can cover them and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Just before sauteing, lightly coat each patty in flour, shaking off any excess flour.

Over medium-high heat, melt 1 TB butter along with the oil. When the foam from the butter begins to subside (this indicates that the pan is hot enough to sear the meat) saute the patties for 2-3 minutes per side or more, depending on how you like your meat, rare, medium, well done.

Mine were on the well done side but the searing was perfect!

Remove and keep warm while making the sauce.

Pour the fat out of the skillet. add in the liquid of your choice and rapidly boil down until it has reduce to an almost syrupy consistency, scraping up the delicious nuggets from the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and gently stir in 2 - 3 TB of butter, 1/2 TB at a time. Pour over the patties.

So good. So simple. And as far as the beef goes? Well, it has a fuller flavor...a bit richer. But then again, this was ground top sirloin. I'm not saying that none of the generic ground beef isn't. I've heard chefs say that often times, ground beef is made from left over bits of chuck. This farm happens to make theirs with sirloin...and nothing else. No bits and pieces of leftover anything.

Honestly, I shouldn't complain too much about the cost. I mean, I spend more for my favored rib-eye steaks. But beef in this household is not cooked as often as chicken. Ground beef even less. Next time I decide to buy ground beef, I will think twice when at the supermarket. If it was a staple....I don't think I'd be able to afford to do so.

Reliving this recipe is making my stomach growl. Wish I had some leftovers but those were quickly consumed the next day....