Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bon Appetit's One Pot Classics - Part 1 - Pork and Poblano Tamale Pie

Growing up we didn't have any of the traditional dishes that people my age complained about.  Meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole, crock pot dishes were pretty exotic to my sister and I until we visited a friend or started cooking with our roommates college.  So when Bon Appetit had a one pot classics article I was very interested.

Bon Appetit Article

First of all, I've never had even one of these dishes in its original form so I don't have much to compare.  But despite this I forged ahead because I feel my culinary education isn't complete until I understand as many possible cuisines as I can.  I had my first deviled egg just last year so I still have a lot to learn.

The final dish here was amazing, one of the best I've made that only required slight modification from its original form.  I left about half the poblano seeds into the chopped peppers.  The reviews of the dish indicated that it did not have quite enough heat so this really did the trick.  I used a pretty coarsely ground cornmeal so the cornbread topping was really rustic.  It paired perfectly with the fork-tender pork.  Another note here - the pork  (1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless country-style pork ribs) was something that I was not familiar with.  Just ask your butcher is my advice.  When it was cooked it was like the pork used in barbecue rather than a pork loin. Also, I just threw the charred peppers into a paper grocery bag, this works well instead of having to clean a bowl.

Pork and Poblano Tamale Pie.

6 servings


Pie Filling

  • 12 ounces fresh poblano chilies (about 4 large)
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cups chopped white onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chiles
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup purchased salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Cornbread Topping

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably whole-grain stone-ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 5 ounces), divided
  • Sour cream

Pie Filling

  • Char poblano chiles and bell pepper directly over flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer chiles and bell pepper to large bowl; cover and let steam 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chiles and bell pepper.
  • Stir cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 3 minutes. Remove seeds from heat and cool completely. Finely grind toasted seeds in spice mill or in mortar with pestle. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.
  • Coarsely puree thawed corn kernels in processor. Cover and refrigerate corn puree until ready to use.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with coarse salt and pepper. Working in batches, add pork to pot and sauté until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to medium bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot, then add chopped onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground spice mixture, garlic, jalapeño, and oregano; stir 1 minute. Return pork and any accumulated juices to pot. Add chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits. Add salsa verde and bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer 30 minutes. Add chopped chiles, chopped bell pepper, and half of corn puree to pork mixture; cover partially and simmer until pork is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes longer. Season pie filling to taste with coarse salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Pie filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm pie filling, stirring over medium heat, before continuing.
  • Transfer pie filling to 10-inch-diameter 2 1/2-inch-deep ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron). Stir in chopped cilantro.

Cornbread Topping

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and chili powder in large bowl to blend. Whisk remaining corn puree, whole milk, melted butter, egg, and honey in medium bowl to blend. Add corn puree mixture to flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup cheddar cheese over pie filling in skillet. Drop cornbread batter by large spoonfuls atop pie filling. Spread cornbread batter evenly to cover pie filling completely. 
  • Bake tamale pie until cornbread topping is deep golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve tamale pie hot, passing sour cream alongside.

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits is one of my favorite southern dishes.  In Gourmet magazine's last edition, a recipe for shrimp and polenta was posted in the Gourmet Everyday section.  I've been making a version of this dish often since then. It only takes about 20 mins from start to finish, perfect for a week night but the final result is worthy of a weekend meal.

1 lb shrimp - I use frozen (which are often much fresher than the "fresh" ones in the case as these have usually been frozen before they made it to the store) 21-30 count (which refers to a size class - how many shrimp of this size make up a pound)
4 oz of pancetta (Italian bacon) chopped
3 gloves of garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, depending on how much heat you like
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes - with juice
olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil at medium high. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp - about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and crush red pepper to the cooked pancetta.  Cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.  Then add the can of tomatoes and juice.  Cook this at medium heat for about 5 - 8 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Finally, add the shrimp, cooking until just done, flipping once - about 2 minutes per side.

Finish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper (probably won't need much salt, depending on how salty your pancetta is).


1 cup coarse ground corn meal (called grits or polenta - depending on the brand)
3 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil the water and salt in a saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to low - medium/low and whisk in the grits.  Use a wooden spoon and stir the grits frequently while they thicken and the water is absorbed.  I usually allow about 10 minutes of cooking time.  When the grits have reached your desired consistency, add the butter, cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  Beware - cooking the grits too long will create a gummy texture and they will all stick together in a blob.  Now this can be good if you want to shape it and grill it but that's not the point of this dish.

To serve - spoon a serving of grits onto your plate and top with the cooked shrimp and sauce.  I served it with a simple side of steamed broccoli.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Forgo the Melting Pot, enjoy fondue at home!

I have a friend at work that loves to go to the Melting Pot.  I have been to the Melting Pot once or twice, and although my meals have always been good, I just can't help but think it is so easy and WAY cheaper to do fondue at home.  Now I'm sure many married couples have a fondue pot that they got for their wedding and have never really used it, maybe once for a chocolate fondue dessert.  Maybe its because my parents were hippies but I grew up loving to eat a fondue dinner. 

Fondue dinner is so flexible for lots of guests and really doesn't require much work at all.  Here is my approach to fondue dinner, whether for two or ten people.  Choose 5 - 6 vegetables.  Chop up about 1/2 cup of each vegetable (for two people) in large chunks.  I choose zucchini, broccolini, green peppers, green beans, and onions.  The carrots aren't really for cooking, just for snacking.  Arrange on a plate.

Next for the proteins - choose three - five proteins depending on what your guests enjoy.  We have hear peeled, deveined shrimp, mahi-mahi, and grass fed beef strip steak.  Cut into large chunks.  Season with salt and pepper and arrange on a plate.

Next make some dipping sauces!  Here you can go with a combo of pre-made sauces and homemade sauces.  You can base your sauces on what types of proteins and veggies you are serving.  I always have some sort of Asian/teryaki type sauce.  Most of the time I buy this - I like Soy Vay Veri Veri Teryaki.  Or Trader Joe's potsticker dipping sauce.  Most of the times I have tried to make Asian dipping sauces the results have been far inferior to the pre-made.  

I also do a garlic butter.  Melt 3 tablespoons of salted butter in a small skillet over medium heat and add 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Cook until the garlic is softened and fragrant, being careful not to burn it, about 5 - 10 minutes.

I really like a green goddess - type sauce for the veggies.  I take creme fraiche (you can use sour cream) about 4 oz.  (optional - 2 oz. softened cream cheese) and add 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, basil and dill.  Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.  Let this sit for about 30 mins before eating.

I like a curry mayo as well.  Take 2 tablespoons of good mayo, 1 tablespoon of sour cream or yogurt, and 1 teaspoon of curry powder (I like hot Madras curry) and combine.

Finally, a horseradish sauce, either pre-made or fresh using 1 cup sour cream, 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 scallions, finely chopped, 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and
salt and pepper to taste.  Blend together!

Here are my dipping sauces.  Bottom left - asian, center - green goddess, top left - horseradish, top right - garlic butter, bottom right - curry mayo.

Finally - the cooking.  I like the traditional hot oil cooking method - which if you keep your oil hot enough you can keep the food from absorbing too much of it.  You can use a flavored bouillon (beef, chicken or veggie broth with various seasonings) instead of oil.

If you use oil, a tempura batter for veggies and some of the seafood is in order.

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Deep Dish Pizza

Some people like to argue whether Chicago style deep dish pizza or New York's thinner crust pizza are better (mainly these people are from Chicago or New York...) but I don't think there is any way to compare them!  They are different meals altogether.  Personally, I have never appreciated true New York pizza that when folded "properly" becomes a conduit for massive amounts of grease to be delivered directly to your mouth...but that's another story.  My favorite is the Neapolitan style with super thin, crispy crust, lightly sauced with very little cheese.  Maybe that will be next Saturday's blog post!

So when deep dish pizza was requested today I spent some time reading blogs and recipes and found there was quite a bit of variation in the approach to all things deep dish - crust, cheese, toppings.  I took a little bit from each of the recipes and here is what I came up with.

Megan's Deep Dish

Ben and I shopped today looking for deep dish ingredients, which can be as varied as what your family can possible love/hate.  I saw some huge, beautiful shiitake mushrooms from a local farm and grabbed them immediately.  I also picked up a red pepper, sweet onion, and basil.  For the meat,  I used Whole Food's in-house made Tuscan turkey sausage...similar to sweet Italian sausage with a bit more heat and sweet red peppers. 

For the dough

3 cups all purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast (these are 2 1/4 teaspoons each)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup of warm water
4 tablespoons butter - melted

In your stand mixer put the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Add the water and butter and knead with the dough hook for about 4 -5 minutes.  If you don't have a stand mixer, mix the ingredients together until they are combined and knead by hand for about 10 minutes.  Either way, the final dough should spring back slowly when you press your finger into it. 

Put the kneaded dough into a bowl greased with olive oil in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.  The dough should double in size.  Punch the dough down and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

 For the filling: 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, rough chop
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced
3/4 lb tuscan style turkey sausage
2 small crowns of broccoli, cut into large chunks.

In a large skillet on medium high heat cook the onions and peppers for 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook.  At this point much of the liquid will be drying up and the veggies will stick and brown to the pan - this is OK, good flavor.  Let this mixture cook for another 10 minutes, being careful not to let things burn.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the turkey sausage - removed from its casings - breaking up with a spoon.  Cook just through.

In a veggie steamer, cook the broccoli for 10 minutes.  You can also blanch them in boiling water for 2- 3 minutes, shocking it in ice water afterwards to stop the cooking.

Combine the sausage mixture and the broccoli - check the seasonings.

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28oz can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons sugar

In a large saucepan, cook the onions and garlic over medium high heat, until softened, about 5 - 6 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.


3 large balls of fresh mozzarella
1/2 lb of fontina

Grate the fontina and slice the mozzarella, very thinly.


Grease a 12 inch cast iron skillet with olive oil.  Press the dough into the skillet. Place half of the cheese on the bottom of the crust.  Add the sausage filling.  Add the remaining cheese. Pour on the sauce.  Sprinkle the final dish with 1/4 cup of freshly grated parm and a bit of dried oregano.

Bake at 400 for 30 - 40 minutes or until the crust is browned and the filling bubbling.

The final product turned out just as I had hoped!




Sunday, February 7, 2010

Baked or Fried? Wing Time!

Of course chicken wings are synonymous with the Super Bowl. And as you can see, I'm blogging during the game so you understand that my priorities are more about 'game day food' rather than the game itself.  On to the food.  A friend at work pointed me towards a posting on Serious Eats this week...baked or fried? was the question...and the answer for this blog turned out to be baked!  I thought I would modify my plans to include a baked vs. fried cookoff of spicy dry rub wings!

I have always enjoyed baked buffalo wings, I like the crispy skin.  Round 2 of  my recreation of Cheep Cheep Chicken's spicy dry rub wings was already on the schedule for tonight.  An Annapolis classic, Cheep Cheep Chicken used to be located in the Market House.  Since the Market House debacle a few years ago, it has relocated to the festival at Riva.  They serve an amazing wing that is seasoned with Old Bay.  The very old and wise proprietor of Cheep Cheep isn't likely going to give away the secret to me, a challenge! 

The first key to success, whether baked or fried, is GOOD QUALITY chicken wings...I like Bell and Evans - available at Whole Foods.  Recently I had a friend ask me why would I buy organic?  higher price, lower quality?  He was absolutely wrong.  Factory farming, whether it is produce or poultry, invites pathogens.   Once you have tasted a local, free range chicken you will wonder what you have been eating for so many years.  Give it a try, you won't be disappointed. 

My Version of Spicy Dry Rub Wings

20 wings (drumettes and other part :)
1 cup Old Bay seasoning
3 tablespoons cayanne pepper
all purpose flour

Begin by separating the wings - cut the drumette from the other part (I have no idea what that part is called) and get rid of the wing tip.  (or save it for stock - see my Italian Wedding Soup posting)  Mix the Old Bay and cayanne in a big bowl.  Adjust the amount of cayanne to taste.  Take 4 - 6 wing pieces at a time and toss them in the dry rub.  They should be fully covered.  Place the seasoned wings into a baking dish.  Repeat this for the rest of the wings.  Refrigerate (marinate!) for an hour.  Before cooking toss the wings in a generous amount of all purpose flour.  Shake off the excess flour before cooking.

To Bake:

Preheat your oven to 400.  Place a thin layer of veggie oil on a baking dish or cookie sheet if you have lots.  Place wings on the dish/sheet and toss with the oil. Cook for 30 minutes WITHOUT moving them!  This lets them get a crispy crust on one side.  Flip and cook for another 15 mins.  Serve!

To Fry

Preheat veggie oil (or peanut oil) to 375.  Cook the wings for 13 - 15 minutes (depending on the size of the wings).  Toss the cooked wings onto a cookie sheet with a paper towel.  Serve!

So the final verdict?  It is so tough to say but after careful consideration, the juicy meat of the fried wing makes it the winner!  The crispy crust on the baked wings was delicious, better than the fried wings...but the flavor and juiciness of the fried wing is unbeatable.  In the picture below, fried on the left, baked on the right.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


After almost an entire day without power (besides the generator used for the tv, internet, and a few lights) I felt that I needed to cook this meal....just because!  I got this meal idea from a friend who has a great blog.  She is a pastry chef but posts lots of non-dessert recipes on her blog.  She blogged her way through pastry school so if you want any inspiration or just want to look at some beautiful desserts, check her out

So the menu was pretty simple, Wellshire Farms Keilbasa, saurkraut, and peiroges.  The only complicating factor was that everything I cooked had to be done on the grill!

Here I am with Molly and Cole cooking up the sauteed onions and boiling the potatoes.  

Margot's recipe for pieroges starts with a pretty simple dough and a very tasty filling including yukon gold potatoes, sauteed onions, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese.  After I boiled the potatoes outside I riced them and mixed the other filling ingredients together.  The dough was the only problem I really encountered.  Margot's recipe said to roll out the dough to 1/8th inch thickness.  This is critical.  Several of my pieroges were a bit thick and the final dough was a bit tough.  The thin skinned pieroges were amazing!

Wellshire Farms keilbasa was a great pick.  Wellshire Farm products are all nitrate free and available at whole foods. 


Here's my final product.  I tried my best to crisp up the boiled pieroges but by the time we got around to eating the temperature had dropped and I couldn't get the grill to make my skillet hot enough!  Still I was very happy with this recipe and I'll do it again...with power and a stove next time.

Check out Margot's recipe at her blog:

Advance Planning

I like to grocery shop on demand.  I don't normally like to figure out what I want to eat until that night, sometimes the night before.  With the realization that a huge snowstorm was coming I was forced to menu plan this weekend in a way that I don't normally do.  Last night needed to be something easy.  Ben was sick and I was on my own to cook and take care of him for a while.  In January's Bon Appetit there was an article celebrating various types of meatballs.  Since I haven't been eating out as much with Ben around, I thought I would make something ethnic rather than a traditional American approach to meatballs.

Hence, Lamb Kofte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhamarra 


This recipe used ground lamb, garlic, tons of mint, cumin, paprika, cayanne to make the meatballs.  The yogurt sauce incorporated tahini (sesame seed paste) and lemon juice.  First the onions were sliced and sauteed in a bit of olive oil.  Then the meatballs were browned up and cooked through.  After the meatballs and onions were done, kept warm in the onion, I added chopped roasted red peppers to the meatball pan and some water to deglaze.  The sauce was reduced and I added pomegrante molasses and chopped parsley.  
Served on some warm middle eastern flatbreads, these were delicious!