Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blessed is she who receives the gift of chutney...

Back in the fall (I think), my dear friend, Jay, sent me a lovely jar of his homemade rhubarb chutney. I guess I take after my mom who always saved her gifts "for special," because when Jay recently asked me if I enjoyed the chutney, I was chagrined to realized that I hadn't even tried it yet!  So I busted it out tonight and used it to top off a quick meal of one of those pre-marinated garlic and peppercorn pork tenderloin roasts.  It was SO delicious--and I don't even *like* rhubarb! My roommate's review was: "Amazing! I want to put it on EVERYTHING!" When our local rhubarb is ready, you can be sure I'll be making of batch of this wondrous stuff!

Orange Rhubarb Chutney

10 whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon pickling spice
4 tablespoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
6 cups chopped rhubarb
5 cups lightly packed brown sugar
3-1/2 cups cider vinegar
3 cups chopped onion
1-1/2 cups raisins
2 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice

1.) TIE peppercorns, mustard seeds and pickling spice in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. Set aside.
2.) COMBINE orange zest and juice, rhubarb, brown sugar, vinegar, onions, raisins, garlic, and ginger in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occassionally, for 45 minutes.
3.) ADD curry powder, allspice, and reserved spice bag; stir well. Boil gently, stirring frequently, until thick enough to mound on spoon, about 30 minutes.
4.) PREPARE boiling water canner in the meantime. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
5.) LADLE hot chutney into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
6.) PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Today is perhaps my favorite holiday of the year--Second Easter, as I like to call it. My dear friend, Janice Padula, always invites folks over for the most AMAZING Mediterranean spread for orthodox Easter. Observe:

As for my contribution, I couldn't help myself but to try and duplicate something cheesy but adorable that I had seen floating around Facebook (via Pinterest) around traditional Eastertime. This platter of peepers took a little longer to make that regular devilled eggs--which take too long as it is--but they were fun, and everyone was greatly amused at the orthodox Easter gathering.

Just prepare your favorite devilled egg recipe, but instead of cutting the hard-cooked eggs in half lengthwise, cut the top third or so off, width-wise. (If the yolk doesn't pop out easily, try coaxing it out with the small end of a mellon baller.) Pipe the filling into the bigger/bottom part from a sandwich baggie with the corner snipped off, really heaping it up, then top with the other piece of white. Finally, fashion eyes with small bits of black olive and beaks with a teeny triangle of carrot. SO CUTE!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Throw away those takeout menus!

WHO NEEDS TAKEOUT when you can make fabulous fried rice at home? This works great with whatever kind of meat you have left over, but in this case, I used some ham from a previous night's dinner. Even my roommate raved about this, and she claims to hate rice!

Pork Fried Rice

2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
3 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, thinly julienned
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup roasted peppers, chopped
1/2 cup ham, chopped (or any cooked meat you prefer)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
squirt of sriracha
2 eggs

First, prepare the rice. In a large sauce pan, add the rinsed rice and the water. Bring to boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to simmer, and steam covered (no peeking!) for 20 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil and saute the onion until tender and translucent. Add the carrot, garlic and ginger, and cook for another couple of minutes.  Then add the peas, chopped peppers, ham (or other meat), pepper, spy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and sriracha. Cook for another minute.

Using a spoon or spatula, push the cooked veggie and meat mixture away from the middle of the pan and then crack the eggs in the center. Scramble the eggs as they cook, and when they are very close to being fully set, pull the pan off the heat. Add the rice and mix everything to combine.

Garnish with green onions cut on the bias.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Couscous and chickpeas and lemons...OH MY!

Warm weather is just around the corner, folks, and we're going to need some sunny side dishes, preferably ones that hold up for long stretches on the picnic or potluck table. So I've got one for you, and it's colorful, extremely flavorful, has interesting textures, and is downright DELICIOUS! If your grocery store doesn't carry Israeli couscous, try your local co-op/health food store, or substitute Acini de Pepe pasta instead.

Israeli Coucous and Chickpea Salad with Lemony Dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (though a cup of halved cherry tomatoes would have been preferable if I had them on hand)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
zest of one lemon/juice of two lemons
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon honey (or sugar)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground celery
squirt of sriracha
salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, large dice

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Fry the couscous until it starts to brown. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for six minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the couscous sit for another 3-5 minutes covered. Combine the cooked couscous and everything else except the avocado in a large bowl and mix (gently) until well combined. Taste to correct seasonings. Then tenderly mix in the avocado chunks just before serving. May serve room temperature or chilled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mean and GREEN Enchiladas!

I know I've made these chicken enchiladas in green sauce (and blogged about them) before, but I tried a different technique for the filling this time. Basically, I started with making a roux before adding sour cream and cheese, which ultimately yielded a luscious, creamy filling. You should give this a try. If you start with a roasted chicken from the deli, it's even easy enough for a work/school night!

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1 deli chicken, skinned, deboned and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese, divided
1 jar Cookwell & Company Green Chile Stew (or about 4 cups of your favorite salsa verde)
10 6-inch flour tortillas

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onions until tender and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for two minutes, then whisk in the chicken broth until thick and smooth. Stir in the cumin, pepper, sour cream, chicken, cilantro, and one cup of the shredded cheese. Remove from heat.

Add a cup of the salsa verde to the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. Divide the chicken filling into ten portions in the skillet. Spoon each portion into a tortilla, roll up, and place into the baking dish. Continue until you've done all ten tortillas (8 in a row, 2 along the side). Pour the remaining salsa verde evenly over the enchiladas, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Add the remaining cup of shredded cheese to the top and return to the oven to melt for another five minutes or so.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

HAPPY EASTER, 2012 Edition

We didn't have any special Easter plans this year, so my roomie and I decided to play a new game that we made up: Aldi Chopped. It's a pretty easy game. You just wander around Aldi, adding things that you might like to eat in the cart, and then you have to make an Easter menu with those random items.

Sound scary? Well, here was tonight's Easter feast: Artichoke and Feta Dip with Crackers, Bone-In Smoked Ham with Brown Sugar and Pineapple, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup, Fresh Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon, Corn on the Cob (um, in April?), and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.  I declare myself the new Aldi Chopped Champion!

And then for a seaonal art project, we also made some tie-dyed eggs. They didn't exactly turn out as advertised on the box (they never do), but we had lots of messy fun coloring them! 

HAPPY EASTER (or Passover) everyone!