Monday, December 31, 2012

CHICKEN & BLACK BEAN CRISPY TACOS


A crispy shell with hot, juicy chicken and bean filling.
Yes, another taco recipe! But we do eat a lot of tacos in our house. This is a chicken and black bean version done in the same style as the regular bean tacos. The chicken cooks right inside the tortilla.

Basic steps:  Soft fry the corn tortillas, smear with a mixture of ground chicken, shredded cheddar and black beans. Pinch together and re-fry until brown and crispy.

Chicken and Black Bean Tacos

2 dozen corn tortillas (I prefer white corn ones, my go-to is mission, as they do not soak up the oil too much)
wesson vegetable oil
1/2 lb. ground chicken
1/2 can of drained and rinsed black beans
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and garlic powder

Garnishes of your choice, lettuce, tomatoes, more grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, etc.

First mix the chicken, black beans, cheese and salt/garlic powder. You want to evenly distribute the ingredients without making it too soft.

In a good sized skillet, heat enough wesson oil to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. You should get it to about 375 degrees (I only say this because I did it in an electric skillet to see how hot it should be).

Set up a draining rack with paper toweling for the tortillas, and once the oil is hot, pass each tortilla through the hot oil, for about ten seconds or so, turning once, and drain. The oil should be sizzly but not popping or smoking, the tortilla should puff and bubble up some and stiffen a little, not be limp and oily.) Keep the tortillas flat and drain/blot all and move on to the next step. (Take the oil off the heat between steps.)

A thin layer of raw chicken, cheddar and black beans cook completely during the second fry.
Spread some chicken mixture thinly on one side of a cooked tortilla. You should put no more than 2 Tbl. of meat mixture in each one. Fold over and press shut, avoid any loose chicken/beans around the edges. You want it spread thinly inside so it can cook completely during the second frying.

Make sure the meat filling is evenly spread, and thin.

Fill all tortillas before starting the second fry, unless you have a minion or two to fill while you cook.
Once all the tacos are filled, line your draining rack with more paper towels, and heat the oil back to about 375 degrees. You may need to add a little to keep the level up. Fry the tacos, letting the oil sizzle around them, crisp them up, but not too browned. Turn over to cook the second side.

 
You want little blisters on the surface, some browning, some crisping, especially around the curved edge.   You should be able to open the tacos to add stuff without it splitting in half. Because this started as raw filling, I always check the doneness of each taco as I take them out. I just open them up a little, and poke into the meat to make sure its not pink anymore.


Stuff with whatever fillings you want and enjoy!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gingerbread Upside Down Cake over Spicy Pear/White Peach Compote



Very low fat, vegan cake. I made a pear, white peach compote and chilled it over night. I don't think you would need to chill this, though. I made a recipe called War Cake because it was developed for rationed ingredients, so there is no egg or milk or butter in it. (The original recipe had 1 c. raisins and 1/2 c. chopped nuts in it, if you want those too, add the raisins with the wet ingredients and the nuts with the dry.)

I baked this in a ceramic oval dish @ 7" x 9" and 2" deep. it could work in other dishes, just watch the time, which I didn't record, so I'll give guidelines.

Compote:
2 large, ripe pears, cut into wedges, cored but not peeled
3 white peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into wedges
@1/2 c. white sugar (brown would work)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl. margarine
@ 1 Tbl. cinnamon, and some clove, ginger and mace to taste (maybe 1/2 tsp each?)
Simmer until fruit is softened and juices have thickened with the sugar. Cool.
If it is too dry, you could always add a splash or two of juice (like apple or orange)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cake:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbl. margarine
1 Tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder

In a sauce pan, bring water, sugar, margarine and cinnamon and clove to a boil. Simmer until margarine is fully melted, stirring occasionally. Let cool until comfortably warm to your finger.
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add them to cooled sugar mixture, until completely incorporated.

Evenly spread fruit mixture in bottom of baking dish, and then evenly spread the gingerbread batter over the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes (I didn't time it, I just kept checking the cake dough until it was cooked. It will probably take at least 20 minutes.) A tooth pick will come out clean even before its done because the batter is very thick. You want the dough to be airy and firm. The fruit will be bubbly around the sides and keep the bottom of the batter moist, just make sure the dry part of the batter is cooked.
Serve warm or cold. I didnt have any, but this would be really good with whipped cream.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

PEPPER CABBAGE

This is a great recipe that my mom used to make, I think she started making this when she got a giant antique wooden and steel cabbage slicer. So imagine this as a crispy coleslaw with clear, almost sticky dressing rather than coated in a mayo/creamy dressing.

This is a great recipe because it gets better as it sits, so it makes a wonderful pot luck dish. When I want it a little spicy, I add a very thinly sliced, seeded jalapeno. And as horrifying as the amount of sugar seems, most of the dressing does stay in the bowl and the vegetables do shrink down.


Pepper Cabbage

1 head of cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 c. thinly sliced white onion
1 c. celery, diced
1 green or other colored bell pepper, slivered


Dressing:
1 c. white sugar
1/4 c. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. celery seed

Place all chopped and diced slaw ingredients in a bowl, mix dressing ingredients, it will be pretty thick.



Pour over slaw, and toss well. the sugar will dissolve and create a watery dressing, and the slaw will shrink a lot. Put in fridge, and toss occasionally, really good to make ahead, and keeps for several days.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls 2.0

These are the same basic cinnamon roll recipe I posted in October (The basic recipe is there, under the title "The Mother of All Cinnamon Rolls"). Here, I switched it up just a little bit. I made a full pan of 2 dozen, with 12 made with dried cranberries and shredded apples inside. I also added some almonds and cranberries to the bottom of the pan on that half, resting in the gooey topping mix, which of course, will become the top. The other side had rolls with just the spices and shredded apples inside (thank you again Dr. Elizabeth Monroe, for the apples), and nothing in the topping.


Before letting them rise in the pan, you can see the two types side-by-side.

 
The rolls bake until the bread is nice and golden, and the topping mixture is bubbling and starting to caramelize. That is why I like baking these in a glass pan, I can see what stage the topping is at.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Enchiladas de Jaiba en Chiles Chipotles (Chipotle Crab Enchiladas)




Enchiladas de Jaiba en Chipotle

Chipotle Crab Enchiladas-very spicy and smokey, seems like it would be very rich, but the balance of everything is perfect. Serve with lots of fresh lettuce as a bed to serve as a foil for the heat. A plain guacamole would be good as a garnish as well.


filling:

2 c. thick mexican crema (or sour cream thinned a little with milk)
1/4 c. milk
sea salt
4 Tbl. unsalted butter
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 c. green onion tops, chopped (Save the white part and slice thinly for garnish)
1 pound of crab meat, in big chunks
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, sliced into narrow strips
fresh ground black pepper
8 corn tortillas
1/4 c. oil or more for soft frying the tortillas
1/2 c. grated monterey jack cheese

for the garnish: 3 Tbl. chopped fresh cilantro and reserved sliced white tops to green onions)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together the crema and milk in a small mixing bowl. lightly salt and set side. In a medium saucepan or deeper skillet, melt the butter with the 2 Tbl. oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and cook about 2 minutes, until the onions are softened.

Add the crabmeat, chile strips and 1 c. of the thinned crema, reserving the rest to use as a topping. Lower the heat and continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring very gently. Add pepper to taste. This can be prepared to this point ahead of time and then reheated.

Warm the 1/4 c. oil in a skillet. Press each tortilla into the hot oil with a spatula until they just soften, a few seconds at most. Drain tortillas on paper towels. Continue until all the tortillas are cooked.
Place an equal amount of filling across the center of each tortilla. Roll them up and put them side by side in a lightly greased baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated through. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped cilantro and sliced white onion tops.

Serving suggestion: lots of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and any other toppings you enjoy.

This is one of many great recipes from "Cocina de la Familia," by Marilyn Tausend.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Nut Cookies

These can be decorated with a small piece of caramel in the center added before baking.

These are old school refrigerator cookies! If you aren't familiar with this style of baking, they are easy and fun, and allow you to keep a stash of homemade dough on hand for impromptu cookie baking with your friends and family. The cookie dough makes a great gift for families who may want to bake together, just wrap well in plastic wrap. You can keep them in the freezer and slice and bake in small batches. (Good luck with that! These go faster than almost any other cookie I make.) Refrigerate no longer than 1 month. Freeze up to 3 months.

This is a dark chocolate dough, using hershey's Special Dark Cocoa. Any cocoa will work.
You can easily make these cookies all chocolate, and just skip the swirl part, in fact that was the original recipe.  But I like things swirly, so I make two batches, one with and one without the cocoa, roll out half of both doughs about 1/2 inch thick and layer them and then roll to make pinwheel logs. then follow directions for chilling and slicing. You could also just use each batch, one of each color, and make two flavors of cookies, and skip the swirly part, which would make these suuuuuper simple.

When I make the swirly version, I seldom add nuts.


The original SINGLE COLOR dough recipe here:

1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. shortening
2/3 c. softened butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1/2 c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix sugars, shortening, butter, vanilla and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide dough into halves, shape each half into a roll about 2 inches in diameter and about 8 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Heat oven to 375. Cut rolls into 1/4 inch slices. Place 2-inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets immediately. Makes about 5-1/2 dozen cookies. These can be cut and baked in their frozen state.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pollo Borracho AKA Drunken Chicken




A wonderful, easy dish to make for a large gathering of people, spicy, but not too much, all simmered in one big skillet. Add some rice and black beans and you have a feast!

Pollo Boraccho

Serves 4 generously

2 Tbl. veg. oil
2-1/2 to 3 lb. chicken thighs, with skin and bone in
1 white onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
14-1/2 oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup beer, like Dos Equis or an amber ale
1 Tbl. oregano
3 pickled jalapenos, sliced, or to taste
2 Tbl. of the vinegar from the jalapenos
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
Chopped cilantro to garnish

Choose a large skillet or dutch oven with a lid, that will hold all the chicken.

Warm the oil over medium-high heat, and saute/brown the chicken for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the hot oil in the pan, and cook until soft and golden. Add the garlic and the tomatoes, and cook for 10 minutes, making sure you scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken to the pan, lower the heat to medium heat. Add beer, oregano, salt and pepper, jalapenos and pickling vinegar. (This dish is good with a good amount of black pepper.) Stir once and cover, simmer for 20-30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and tender.

Serve on your favorite seasoned white rice, and garnish with cilantro. (I usually make a white rice with a mix of colored peppers in it, and a side of black beans) The sauce is really good on the rice.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Smothered Pork Chops


If you can learn how to make a good gravy, or even a white sauce to play with, you can really stretch your options. Tonight I had a small package of thin cut boneless pork chops that I bought on a whim yesterday. I also had some pan drippings I saved from some wonderful thick slab peppered bacon I bought at Eastern Market in DC.

I heated just enough of the bacon fat to barely cover the bottom of the skillet. While the fat heated, I salted, peppered and garlic powdered the pork chops, and added  the same seasoning to some flour to coat them. When the bacon fat got sizzly hot, I dusted the chops in flour and browned them a few at a time in the pan. This went fairly quickly and I ended up with a good mix of bacon fat and meat juices in the pan when I was done.

So I set the chops on a plate, and sprinkled the leftover flour I had used for the coating over the drippings. There was probably about 4 Tbl. worth of fat, so I added about the same for the flour. Be ready with a whisk or fork when you do this, and stir until you get a loose paste. It should be thin enough to bubble. Let it bubble for a minute or two, and stir to keep it from getting lumpy. Then add in some liquid. So I probably added about 1-1/2 cups of milk and a little more water, and stirred it until it thickened. It was made with seasoned flour and peppered bacon drippings, so it had great flavor. You can always add a little more liquid as you go along.

 I follow my Aunt Barbra Deetz's advice about pan gravy: If you were frying, add milk and if you roasted, add water. (Barbra taught me how to make gravy like this when she stayed with me while I was recovering from a car accident. Lucky!)

I took the chops and submerged them in the gravy and heated them through. So an inexpensive thin chop, which could get dry pretty easily, stayed favorful and moist. It also created some gravy for the very plain noodles I cooked, not only for dinner tonight but for leftovers tomorrow.

Everyone should master gravy, which is made just like a basic white sauce, a little fat, a little flour and some liquid. Then you can season anyway you like, or add cheese, or cooked mushrooms, etc., so much you can do. This was a good way to add some interest to plain ingredients, and not waste the flour I had used to cook the pork chops.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

Dark chocolate truffles with chopped almond topping
Yes, truffles. The easiest treat to make aside from rice crispie treats. And very adaptable. I will start you with the basic recipe, and then make some comments about variations. This is a very low key, not chichi (sheeshee?) recipe from Ms. Betty Crocker.

Truffles

6 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate, cut up
2 Tbl. butter or margarine
1/4 c. whipping cream (its also fun to replace all the cream with all-fruit preserves of your choice, like raspberry or apricot)
1 Tbl. shortening (like crisco)
1 pkg (6 oz.) semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

(Truth be told, I have used chocolate chips for both parts. You can also do a white chocolate filling or coating using white chocolate chips.)

Heat squares of chocolate in a heavy 2 qt, saucepan, stirring until just melted. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Stir in the whipping cream. Refrigerate, but stir often, just until thick enough to shape, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto aluminum covered cookie sheets. Shape to even out into a ball. Return to fridge if still too soft to shape.  When all balls are shaped, put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Heat choc. chips and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly until chips are melted and smooth. (I put the chips and shortening in the microwave, and zap a few seconds at a time and sneak up on it. The chips will soften and hold their shape so you need to poke at them to see how soft they have gotten.) Dip each filling ball and completely coat with chocolate, place on the foil lined cookie sheet. (I use a fork, and let the excess choclate drip back into the bowl.) Top with garnish of your choice, (see suggestions below). Return to the freezer for ten minutes more.

Top with chopped nuts, coarse sea salt, cocoa powder, a few pieces of crushed peppermint candy etc. its fun to make different flavors, and code each one with different toppings.

Salt: I made these with Pinot Noir salt, I added a pinch to the filling, and sprinked some on the top of each truffle before setting them up.

Almond or other flavor: stir in 2 Tbl. almond liquer into the cream. Also could work for any other liquer you like, like kahlua, orange, cherry brandy, etc.

Apricot: Chop 3 Tbl. dried apricots and soak in 1 Tbl. brandy for 15 minutes, add to cream. I like making these using white chocolate in the coating but dark chocolate in the filling. Garnish with a small piece of apricot.

Keep in a cool dry place, but serve at room temperature. Keeping them in egg cartons works really well.

Fancy Delft Tile Cookies

 
These cookies may not make as much sense to non-archaeologists, but they are meant to look like broken delft tiles. I made them for a Christmas party at Ivor Noel Hume's house (he is a famous archaeologist). I presented them like they were in an artifact bag with coins and rusty nails (made with dark chocolate and cocoa powder). They were not only pretty but tasted really good. You could make these using any cookie cutter you like, and painting them with any kind of decoration. I just made square cookies, frosted them, and then broke them on purpose to look like shards.

 
This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens "New Baking Book"
 
Painted sour cream-sugar cookies
 
(The dough will need to chill)
 
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
dash of salt
1/2 c. sour cream
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
2-1/2 c. flour
 
Meringue powder icing recipe: Beat together 2 Tbl. meringue powder and 1/2 c. water until combined. Beat in 2-3/4 c. powdered sugar. (this makes a good gingerbread house frosting). Food color for painting. (You could add some coloring to the icing as well.)
 
In a large mixing bowl, stir butter until smooth. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, beat/mix in sour cream, egg, vanilla and lemon peel. Beat in as much flour as you can. (This may be a good recipe to use a mixer, I use a wooden spoon).
 
Divide dough in half, cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle/roll.
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
 
On a well floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time to 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 1" apart.
 
Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very slightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
 
 
When cookies are cool, spread tops with meringue icing. Allow icing to dry completely. Using a small paintbrush, paint whatever designs you like onto the icing surface with food color. Let dry.

Split Seconds

These are the perfect christmas cookie, shortbready and gooey at the same time. I literally can not keep enough of these on a cookie plate. I make them and they are gone gone gone. The recipe is the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-off winner, so they certainly have the retro, old school comfort thing going for them, as well as being very easy to make with the most basic recipes. I make them with butter, but they could be made just as easily with margarine. (I think experienced vegan bakers could figure out how to compensate for the egg, you would need something to compensate for the egg giving a little binding and a little leavening.) I have also made them with orange marmalade and apricot preserves, but raspberry to me is the best match. Its pretty to do a couple different colors.


You can make many cookies quickly this way. What looks messy on the pan looks yummy on the finished cookies.

SPLIT SECONDS

3/4 c. margarine or butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 red preserves, I like raspberry with seeds. (Something thicker works better than a jelly, but that would work too.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix/beat margarine and sugar until light and fluffy (I do this with a wooden spoon). Add vanilla and egg and blend well. Stir in flour and baking powder, mix well.

Divide dough into 4 equal parts (this is where you can use up to four different jellies if you want).

On a lightly floured surface, shape each part into  a 12 x 3/4 inch roll. Place rolls on ungreased cookie sheets. Using a handle of a wooden spoon or your finger, make a depression about 1/2 " wide and 1/4 inch deep lengthwise down the center of each roll.

Fill each roll with preserves, about 2 Tbl. per roll. (I probably use a little more, but if you use too much, the center can get too soft and break.)

Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool slightly and cut on the diagonal into strips, about 1" wide. Cool on racks.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Homemade Almond Joys


I love to make my favorite cookies each Christmas, but also like to add something new each year. That was the case with my coconut macaroons, with an almond and chocolate covering. They were the cookie experiment that became one of my must-makes.

I start with a basic coconut macaroon recipe, which is super easy. If you just made the macaroons, without the almond or chocolate, you would be still happy. I add an almond on top and then melt some chocolate in the microwave and enrobe them. Decadent. I know I got this recipe from some cookbook somewhere, not sure where, probably Fannie Farmer.






So chewy and sweet, super easy to make:

2 egg whites
1/3 cup white sugar
2 Tbl. all purpose flour
dash salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 cups shredded coconut
12 almonds

1 small bag  of semisweet chocolate chips (or whatever your favorite is)

Heat oven to 325 degrees F

Grease and lightly flour a cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites lightly. Add sugar, flour, salt and extract. Blend well and stir in coconut. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. You can make them more oval if you like, but place one almond on the center of each cookie and press in a little.

Bake at 325 for 13 to 17 minutes or until set and lightly browned, remove from cookie sheet immediately.  Once they are cool, put the chocolate chips in a microwave bowl, and a few seconds at a time, heat until chocolate is just melted. Stir to smooth out. Carefully place a macaroon into the chocolate and using a spoon or fork, bring some chocolate up over the top of the macaroon until totally covered. Place on a rack to set up. Makes 1 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cranberry Orange Pinwheel Cookies (Shortbready)


Without much ado, another great cookie for your holiday baking, a little finicky but well worth it.

FIRST NOTE: these need a minimum of three hours chilling. PLAN AHEAD.

filling:

1 Tbl cornstarch
3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 c. orange marmalade


cookies:

3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
1 egg
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice

In small saucepan, combine all filling ingredients.  Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stirring constantly. Refridgerate until thoroughly chilled. (I made this the night before.)

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients, mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour for easier handling.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16" x 8" rectangle. spoon and spread cooled filling evenly over dough, leaving 1/2 inch around edges.  Starting with a 16" side, roll up jelly roll fashion, cut in half, making two 8" rolls. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
(I found this was really important. Even at three hours, the dough was fairly soft.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease cookie sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/2" slices. (This is where they were a bit delicate, a little floppy, I pressed them down slightly with the bottom of a glass to stabilize the dough roll a little). Place two inches apart on greased cookie sheets. bake for 9 to 13 minutes, or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets and cool on racks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BEAN TACOS, BABY


OK, there should be a chorus of angels and a heavenly light shining down from golden tinted clouds, some bare assed cherubs (or ten) . . .

and quite honestly, I am a bit reluctant to attempt to reduce the deetz bean taco to a mere recipe. It will not do it justice. It is not a recipe, has never been a recipe, but presented here is a germ of an idea so that each and everyone of you can start perfecting your own bean taco.

I can not imagine how many bean tacos have been made by deetzes through the years. My previous post illustrated a single night when deetz hands produced ONE THOUSAND BEAN TACOS! If I was told we have made over a million of these in our life, I would say "yeah, probably."

Yes We Can! And DO!

So lets start some basic math, on some very general assumptions. Starting when I started High School, 1970, was about when tortillas and refried beans became common enough to make them a weekly meal. We usually made at least 7 to 8 dozen a meal, lets say conservatively once a week. 8 x 12 x 52 puts us at just shy of 5000 tacos a year. Times 20 years, as the household made the same sized meals until about 1990. That's 100,000 tacos. Just in household number one, my mothers. And that's only considering two decades. AND some times we made more, rarely less, sometimes we had them for breakfast-lunch-and-dinner. BUT . . .  we had deetzes making them in their restaurants, and deetzes making them at college, and deetzes making them for parties, and grandkids and nieces and nephews . . . .  so yeah, one night last year when I made a total of 3 bean tacos, it was like the world imploded. Real Surreal . . .

So, I have been urged to add the bean taco recipe here. I will give some broad strokes and send it out into the world to become someone else's bean taco, however they decide to craft it. (deetz siblings are groaning right now, "no, no, NOOOOO . . .  ok, lets see if I do them that way . . . " 

* check out sister Cricket's great tip in the comments, and the attribution to Sue Owens for the original recipe. Roger and Sue and family are longtime friends of the deetz clan.

BEAN TACOS

1 dozen corn tortillas (I prefer white corn ones, my go-to is mission, as they do not soak up the oil too much)
wesson vegetable oil
1 small can refried beans
garlic powder

garnishes of your choice, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., suggestions below.

In a good sized skillet, heat enough wesson oil to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. You should get it to about 375 degrees (I only say this because I did it in an electric skillet to see how hot it should be).

Set up a draining rack with paper toweling for the tortillas, and once the oil is hot, pass each tortilla through the hot oil, for about ten seconds or so, turning once, and drain. The oil should be sizzly but not popping or smoking, the tortilla should puff and bubble up some and stiffen a little, not be limp and oily.) Keep the tortillas flat and drain/blot all and move on to the next step. (Take the oil off the heat between steps.)

Spread some refried beans on one side of a cooked tortilla, and sprinkle with a little garlic powder. (My niece Marilyn showed me how she adds a little green box parmesan). Fold over and press shut, avoid any loose beans around the edges.



Once all the tacos are filled, line your draining rack with more paper towels, and heat the oil back to about 375 degrees. You may need to add a little to keep the level up. Fry the tacos, letting the oil sizzle around them, crisp them up, but not too browned. Turn over to cook the second side. You want little blisters on the surface, some browning, some crisping, especially around the curved edge.  You do not want the surface of the fat beany-belly-bulge to be soft and oily, it should also crisp up, just not quite as much as the edges. You should be able to open the tacos to add stuff without it splitting in half.


Drain on paper towels, and add whatever garnishes you want. Crisp lettuce shreds, diced tomatoes, scallions, shredded cheese, sour cream and avocados are a pretty good standard mix.

Will you be able to make deetz bean tacos from this recipe? Hmmm. I do not know. BUT you can work with this method and make them into your favorite. MAKE THESE YOUR OWN!

And like all my recipes, you can change them up. Use refried beans with some whole beans stirred in (I wouldn't heat the beans up, they will get too runny and ooze into the hot oil), or add some queso fresco to the beans before the second fry, just keep it all tucked inside. You want a crispy but not too flaky taco shell around creamy hot beans, and anything else you want added in. Drain them well, and if you get your oil to just the right temperature, they won't be oily.

AND stay tuned for any deetz variations my siblings may want to add . . . 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stuffed Peppers--a Classic "Oldie but Goodie"

The peppers soften just enough to hold together, and still be fork tender. The breadcrumb topping gets nice and crispy.
I have recently made many of my standards and wanted something a little different. My dad used to make a great version of stuffed peppers, but instead of the usual ground meat and rice filling with tomato sauce, it was a garlicky pork in cream sauce served inside pretty colored peppers. I took that idea, and to make the dish lower in fat, and appropriate for the non-pork eaters in my household, I opted for something in between, a ground chicken and vegetable filling with a creamy sauce to hold it together. (Plus then I didn't have to think about where that recipe may be and how long it would take me to find it.) I also had some large tomatoes, so I hollowed one of those out to fill and add some variety.
Tomatoes also make great receptacles, as would zucchinis or even parboiled onions.
Stuffed Peppers
 
4 bell peppers of your choice
1 lb. ground organic chicken
1/2 onion, diced small
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic. minced
A handful of fresh parsley
4 Tbl. olive oil
4 Tbl. flour
1 cup of low fat milk
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 scallion, sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste
Some dry bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, mixed, enough to top the peppers (maybe a cup in all?)
 
The sauce should be thickened but not too dry
In a medium saucepan, boil some salted water to blanche the peppers. This will partially cook the pepper so you get a nice texture once it is all baked.
 
While the water is heating, heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the garlic, onions, carrots and parsley. Add the ground chicken and cook, breaking apart, until cooked through.
 
Add the flour by sprinkling it over the top of the meat mixture. Stir well, and add the milk. Stir until thickened, and add the spinach, scallions and salt and pepper to taste. Spinach will wilt quickly and the scallions don't really need to cook much.

 
 Cut the tops off the peppers and pull out the seeds and the white ribbing. When water has reached a boil, submerge the peppers into the water and simmer for about a minute or two. Drain, salt and pepper the interior, and place upright in an 8x8 baking dish.
Divide the filling equally between the peppers. You can always add a little water or broth to the bottom of the pan.

 
Drizzling a little olive oil or even melted butter over the crumb topping will help it get crunchy and browned.
Top with the breadcrumb/parmesan mixture and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place in a 375 degree oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs on top are crusty and golden brown and the peppers are starting to shrink in a little bit.
 
You could adapt this to a vegetarian recipe really easily by adding more substantial vegetables and eliminating the meat, maybe use some broccoli or other favorite. You could make this vegan by using vegetable stock in the the sauce and avoiding the suggested butter and parmesan.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Turkey Meatball Subs --Quick and Easy for the Busy Season

Turkey Meatball Sub on Garlic Toasted Roll
Turkey Meatball Subs

This is the time of year when everyone in my house is headed in different directions. As much as I like having dinner ready for an evening meal, sometimes you need to plan for eat-and-run. When you are not sure when you may be cooking or how many people will be there, meatball subs are a perfect answer. You can keep most of the ingredients on hand, and throw them together in whatever volume you need fairly quickly. If you like, you can use any meat for the meatballs, or even substitute vegetarian "chicken" patties and make it more like a chicken parm sandwich.


 
I start with soft bolillo rolls, you can get white or whole wheat. I toast them up like you would garlic bread, and while they are toasting, I make (heat) the meatballs. Add some cheese and bake until melted, and you have a very filling meal. Add a salad, and you are good to go.
 
 
 
6 bolillo rolls or other soft sub roll
Butter or olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or garlic powder
28 oz. of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Frozen turkey meatballs, about 24 to 30
Grated mozzerella cheese, about 2 cups or so
 
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Split bread rolls and either butter lighty or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle on garlic in whatever form you like. Arrange open faced on a cookie sheet. Toast in the oven, remove when slightly golden brown.
 
While rolls are toasting, heat spaghetti sauce, and cook the meatballs in it until the meatballs are warmed through, about 5 minutes. They heat up fairly quickly from the frozen state.
 
Place about 4 or 5 meatballs on rolls, and some additional sauce. Cover with cheese and return to the oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.
 
 



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Cookies!!!!!!!!


Very rich, very chewy. One of my favorite cookies and sooo easy. I make them in a vintage 9" square pan with a removable bottom. I make these every xmas and always wish I had made more.

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c dark brown sugar
5 Tbl flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
2 Tbl. butter

confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs and vanilla together lightly. Mix together the brown sugar, flour, baking soda, and nuts. Add to the eggs and mix well. Melt the butter in the 9 x 9 inch pan. pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm to the touch. Turn out onto wax paper, with the butered side up. Dust with confectioners sugar while still warm. Cut into 16 small squares.

 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Classic Rock (Split Pea Soup)

As I often mention, in my huge family we all learned how to cook, lots of things, lots of ways. When I got married, I married a man who was an only child, his mom cooked very standard mid-20th century meals, A chop, a vegetable, a starchy side, maybe a dessert. Not that different in ingredients, but served up to her son and husband and nothing too dramatic. You can imagine the culture shock at the first meal John had with my family, over a dozen people, large bowls brimming with any variety of things, elbows, chatter, stuff headed in all directions around a large family style service. In his view: Chaos, Pandemonium!  We still eat quite a lot of what I learned how to cook in that craziness, but I also  have two or three great recipes that come straight from John's Mom Kate Rock.

Split Pea Soup with mini rye toast
 croutons
One standard for Kate was Split Pea Soup, something she made for me by the bucket full while I was recuperating from a car accident. I didn't have the heart to tell her I really, really do not like pea soup. John does love pea soup though, and I make it a couple times each winter. It keeps well, you can make it a variety of ways, and it is easily complimented by cheese quesadillas, or a large salad or anything else you have on hand. Kate would use a ham bone and chicken bouillion cubes. I sometimes have a ham bone, which you would add to the pot at the beginning, and then pull out and add the meat bits back in at the end. But the following is a close approximation of how I usually make split pea soup:

1 bag of dried split peas
1/2 white onion or 4 scallions, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 large stalks of celery, sliced
1 roma tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
4 to 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want this vegetarian/vegan)
salt and papper to taste
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. celery seed

Place all chopped vegetables and herbs in bottom of soup kettle with vegetable oil. Over medium heat, sautee until they are softened. Add chicken broth and dried split peas. Stir and cook at a low/medium boil. Stir often, as the soup will start to thicken, and could stick on the bottom.

Add water as cooking progresses to keep at the consistency you prefer. When peas are tender, use a potato masher and mash some of the soup right in the pot. Cooking time from start to finsh should be about 30 minutes.

Serve hot with croutons, I used small rye squares on this one.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Albondigas en Caldo (Grandma Style)

When  John and I moved to Tucson, Arizona for the second time, we had a houseful of little kids, and a single income. I spent a lot of time there perfecting recipes that would be budget- and baby-friendly. Living in a new region was inspiring. I was browsing the very small book section at the local grocery store and found an interesting cookbook. And while I rarely cook directly from recipes, I lovelovelove owning and reading and absorbing cookbooks of any kind. This was an unassuming paperback, Mexican Family Cooking, by Aida Gabilondo. So I added it to my groceries and headed to check out. The seemingly stern woman who checked me out looked over the book, looked at me and said in faintly accented English, "You can't learn Mexican cooking from a book. You need an abuela." I sheepishly said "Well, I wish I had a Mexican grandmother, so I guess this will have to do . . ." The twinkle in her eye was a little brighter than her all-but-non-existent smile.
My well-worn copy of  Mexican Family Cooking
As time went on, this woman and I forged a very fun relationship, always over something I was buying, something I was making, and if she saw an ingredient she knew about, she would give me tips and guidance, like how to roast a green chile, and package it for the freezer, or how to make a green salsa or her version of chilequiles. When she learned I was taking Spanish, she insisted "From now on, I will never speak to you in English, only Spanish."  She started every basic converstaion from then on in Spanish, and was very encouraging with my basic skills. She did talk to me in English, but only after a few sentences in Spanish.

And as it turns out, I did learn  a few things from a Mexican grandma--this kind woman, and also the author of the small cookbook I purchased that day. Through a series of odd incidents, I came to find out that the author is the grandmother of TV chef Aaron Sanchez. She probabaly wrote this when he was a little boy.

One of my favorite recipes from this cookbook is the soup called Albondigas en Caldo, a brothy soup with meatballs, flavored with green chiles, scallions, garlic and fresh cilantro. It is a common soup in Tucson restaurants. I have had it many ways, often with diced carrots. peas or even potatoes--and sometimes with rice in the meatballs. This one has corn masa paste added to the meatballs, so there is also a nice infusion of corn flavor.
Albondigas en Caldo
I will offer the original recipe here and make notes where I have usually deviated. For example, because of dietary choices some of my family makes, I make the meatballs with ground chicken or turkey, and substitute the lard with olive oil.

Albondigas en Caldo

2 lbs. of ground round or other lean ground beef (I have made this with ground chicken, and also a mix of turkey and pork)
1 egg
1/2 cup dehydrated masa flour (masa harina) mixed with 4 Tbl. water to make a soft dough
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbl. vinegar

2 Tbl. lard (I use a stronger flavored olive oil, but if your family doesn't avoid pork, the lard imparts a great flavor)
2 Tbl. flour (I replace this with masa, to add to the corn taste in the broth)
2 to 3 qts of well seasoned chicken broth (I usually use my own, but for this without celery in it, the flavor is not wanted in this case. Homemade broth allows me to leave a few shreds of chicken meat in the broth, not a lot, just a few shreds here and there)
2 green onions cut into 1/2 inch lengths (I use 4 and cut them a little smaller)
1 4-oz. can of chopped green chiles (undrained)
1 cup of ripe, chopped, unpeeled tomatoes (I use romas and include the pulp and seeds)
1/4 cup tomato sauce (I rarely include this, not because it's not good. I always forget it when I am shopping)
4 garlic cloves, mashed or minced fine
1/4 c. fresh mint leaves (I rarely include these, but it is really good with them included)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, including some stems (I usually use about twice that much)



Mix in the masa and seasonings, but do not handle too much

You will get about 30 meatballs


In a medium sized bowl, mix the ground meat, the egg and the soft masa dough, salt, pepper and vinegar and mix well, creating a soft, well-mixed dough. Make the meatballs about the size of ping pong balls and place on a cookie sheet. They are soft, so do not stack up. Have the chicken broth ready.
These vegetables all go in at once
In the bottom of a large kettle, melt the lard (I use olive oil, any fat will work), add 2 Tbl. of masa and brown lightly, making a roux. Add the chicken broth, stirring to incorporate the roux. Add the green onions, garlic, green chiles, tomatoes and cilantro. If adding mint, add it during this step. Correct salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer.


Simmering softens the vegetables while the meatballs cook
 
While broth is simmering, carefully drop meatballs into the broth, and cover pan, allowing meatballs to poach. Cover pan and simmer for about 30 minutes. The meatballs will float to the top when done.

If you refrigerate this soup overnight, it improves its flavors, and you can skim any unwanted fat off the top before reheating. It also freezes really well, but we rarely have leftovers. I am serving this tonight with my Sonoran Cheese Crisps, found on this blog in an earlier post.