Crunchy Cornslaw – a new twist on the same ol’ slaw

Crunchy Corn Slaw Fish Tacos with Corn Slaw
This weekend we had a cookout with some of our friends from church and decided we’d bring a good coleslaw to go with the bbq type meats everyone would be cooking.  So we decided to do a punny version of coleslaw and bring cornslaw.  I started dreaming it up because every summer for the past four or five years, Matt and I have inadvertently gravitated toward a Corn Dish of the Summer.  A few years ago it was an amazing creamed corn, a year after that it was Esquites (a bowl full of the equivalent of Mexican street corn) and last year it was this amazing miso buttered corn with scallions and bacon, a la Momofuku.

Now, I’m not saying this is THE corn dish of the summer of 2014, but it’s a start.  We really like it.  To compliment the sweetness of the corn, I added a Granny Smith apple and poppyseeds.  To offset the sweetness, I added plenty of purple cabbage and red onion and fresh poblano peppers – everything diced the same size (that’s important).  Then, I made my own mayo because we had just run out and I didn’t remember it the TWO times I’d been to the grocery store that day.  I was not going back.  So, homemade mayo with a little dijon and brown sugar and sherry vinegar – the perfect sauce for our perfect summer slaw!

Corn Cole Slaw
This stuff was fantastic as a side for smokey sausages on the grill (and grilled bread, of course!)  Tonight, I made fish tacos and made a little Srirracha mayo with the leftover batch of mayo from the slaw and topped our tacos with the still-crunchy slaw.  Amazing!  Welcome to summer, my friends!

Fish Tacos with Corn Slaw and Srirracha Mayo

Crunchy Cornslaw

4 large ears of corn
1/2 head purple cabbage, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 TBS poppyseeds
1 cup of mayo (homemade or not – just don’t buy something fake or low fat or “miracle”)
2 TBS dijon mustard
2 TBS sherry vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, cut all the corn from the cobs directly into the bowl.  Add cabbage, peppers, onion, carrots, apple and poppyseeds and stir to combine.  In a smaller bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, vinegar and brown sugar and fold into the corn mixture until everything is coated.  Season to your taste with salt and pepper.  If you want to make your own mayo, I’ll give you our super easy recipe below!  Happy cooking!

Homemade Mayo *
makes about 2 cups

2 large eggs
4 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups non-flavored oil like canola, grapeseed, vegetable

Add the eggs, mustard, vinegar and salt to a large cup and add the oil (if using an immersion blender). Start processing as you gradually lift the immersion blender up, letting the oil get sucked under in a steady stream.  If using a food processor, add everything except the oil to the processor or blender and blend for 30 seconds.  While running, slowly drizzle the oil in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is added and the mixture is smooth.

*adapted from Spike Mendelsohn’s awesome book, The Good Stuff

 

Fish Tacos 

2 fresh cod fillets or other firm, white fish
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper
olive oil for pan frying

Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and season each side with salt and pepper.  Cut into fish-stick sizes (mine were about 3-4″ sticks) by cutting the fillet across it’s width.  Put the beaten egg in a large bowl and the panko and seasoning mixed together in a separate bowl. Dip each stick into the beaten egg and then roll in the panko/Old Bay mixture and pat on all sides to fully coat.  Lay the coated fish sticks on a clean paper towel while you finish the others.

In a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add about 4 TBS of olive oil and let it heat till it shimmers.  Add the fish sticks without crowding (I had to do two batches) and fry till golden brown on each side.  Keep warm and crisp in a 250F oven until ready to assemble the tacos.

For assembly:

Dollop some srirracha mayo (there’s no recipe here – just add srirracha or any hot sauce to mayo and mix it up till it’s a heat level you like!  Mine was about 2 TBS per cup of mayo) along the center of a soft-taco sized tortilla.  Lay two fish sticks on top of the mayo and then top with the cornslaw.  Enjoy!

Summer Grilling: Romesco Sauce!

summer meal - romesco sauce
Ah, summer.  It’s upon us!  And even though I’m hoping no grilling will get done this weekend due to rain (please, oh please) we have fired up the grill several times already and hope to continue as the months continue to provide us with warm nights and light well into the 9 o’clock hour.  We had a truly noteworthy grilling session last weekend where the star of the show was that tasty little dollop of red pepper puree on the side of the asparagus called Romesco.

romesco sauce
Romesco is a blend of roasted red bell peppers, hazelnuts, almonds, garlic and roasted tomatoes.  I can’t explain how magical it all is when blended up together, but it is incredible as a topping for a grilled flank steak, a dip for asparagus, or even a spread for the grilled bread I’m hoping you’ll still try! We topped baked potatoes with our leftover romesco sauce this week and I just KNOW it would be fabulous on top of a simple omelet.  I love a sauce that can be so versatile because it won’t just sit in your fridge, unused.  There are literally endless options for this tasty sauce and I hope you will make this for your next summer meal!

grilled asparagus with romesco sauce

Romesco Sauce*
makes about 3 cups

4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
4 red bell peppers
6-8 cloves of garlic, still in their skins
3/4 cup olive oil, plus oil for roasting vegetables and toasting nuts
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup day-old bread, cubed and toasted with olive oil
red wine vinegar
2 tsp Piment d’Esplette (or dried chili flakes)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300F.  Season the tomatoes and peppers with 2 tablespoons of  olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. Bake the cloves of garlic along with the tomatoes and the peppers, until the garlic is soft, (remove them when they are to let the tomatoes and peppers finish) the tomatoes have begun to caramelize and the peppers are tender and beginning to blister, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, cover the peppers with foil and set aside for 10 minutes, then peel the skin and remove the seeds and veins from the peppers.

In a small skillet set over medium heat, toast the almonds and hazelnuts with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and salt.  

Remove the garlic cloves from their skins. In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, peppers, garlic, toasted nuts and bread. Add the Piment d’Esplette or chili flakes.  Slowly drizzle in the remaining ¾ cup of olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Season with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper until it’s to your liking.  We added about 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar and added about 2 tsp of kosher salt and some pepper.  Puree until very smooth, but the sauce will remain slightly chunky.  

Serve with grilled vegetables, meats, baked potatoes, bread, etc, etc, etc!

*we combined two recipes from Tasting Table to make our own version.

 

 

 

 

Chicken Avocado Taquitos with Red Pepper Soup

chicken taquitos with green chili
These recipes jumped off the screen last Monday when I was looking for something quick, nutritious and slightly comforting to make for my family.  Both recipes come from the great world of Pinterest and they paired together like old friends.  The first was baked chicken taquitos and I improvised from the original recipe a bit and added avocado (because it improves nearly everything) and green chili powder instead of cayenne.  Both additions worked well and I’ll definitely make this recipe again!

The second recipe comes from a dear friend and fellow food blogger, Becky McGrew of Apronclad.com!  She made this roasted red pepper soup a while back and I have kept it in the back of my head as yet another wonderful soup to introduce new flavors to our little two-year old, Olive.  The soup made a wonderful dip for the taquitos and was obviously wonderful on its own as a starter/side dish for the meal.  It has some Italian herbs in it, which are awesome, but I think next time to match up a little better with the Mexican theme, I think I’d omit the basil and thyme and add in Mexican oregano and cilantro to finish.  Whatever you do, just make this soup.  It’s outstanding!  I didn’t mess with the recipe at all, so just go on over to Becky’s blog and get the recipe there, plus very nice step-by-step instructions!

chicken taquitos

Baked Chicken Avocado Taquitos*

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon green chili powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
8 6-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded mexican blend or cheddar cheese
1 large, ripe avocado
Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and spray heavily with cooking spray.

In a small bowl whisk together garlic salt, green chili powder, onion powder and cumin. Rub seasoning into both sides of chicken breasts. Spray a large pan or skillet with cooking spray and cook chicken over medium heat about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Chop chicken up into small cubes. Divide chicken evenly among all tortillas, spreading the chicken into a strip down the middle of each tortilla. Top chicken with about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese and a few pieces of avocado. Tightly roll each tortilla into a taquito. Place end side down on prepared baking sheet. Spray taquitos heavily with cooking spray. Bake 10-15 minutes until tortilla edges begin to brown/blacken and cheese is melty. We dipped ours into the soup and also our favorite – Mexican crema!  Seriously, so much more flavor than sour cream!

*adapted from Creme de la Crumb

Zucchini Basil Soup with Stove Top Fritters

Zucchini Basil Soup
I’m happy to have resurrected this soup!  Matt and I made it a long time ago when we were still doing the 800 sq ft apartment thing and then again when a friend of ours invited her dad over and we needed to fix low sodium, low fat recipes since he had recently had heart surgery.   Matt’s father also has heart troubles, so it’s always refreshing to find healthy recipes to share that taste as decadent as a full-fat option.  This soup is so perfect for the coming zucchini-overload we all will have soon (as it’s the only vegetable that seems to have no trouble in our awful climate) and basil, the herb that’s also hard to kill.  It’s got all the depth of flavor of a soup that has been slowly cooked with butter and cream only – it has neither!  It isn’t even made with stock – just water!  So the sodium is only what you add for taste.  I bet in one batch, I added a little over a teaspoon of salt.  And it serves six!  Can you tell I’m excited about this soup?!
zucchini basil soup and stuffing fritters
One other merit of soups from a mother of a toddler’s perspective, is that they are a perfect way to get more variety of vegetables and flavors into our newly opinionated children.  Olive has eaten zucchini, pesto, fresh basil from the garden, etc, before, but suddenly, she’s on a suspicious, won’t-try-anything-green bender.  Drives me batty because I KNOW she would like most things if she’d just try them.  Sound familiar?  What does NOT work is forcing, tricking, cajoling, pleading, prodding or manipulating your kids to eat.  They can smell your tricks a mile away and they’ve come prepared with an iron will.  This is pretty natural and resistance is futile.  But soups.  Olive has willingly eaten this soup twice in the past 4 days.  It’s green!  It’s got darker green chunks in it!  Why will she try it?  My guess is texture.  No chunks – pureed and easy to sip from a cup so she has full control.  When Olive doesn’t want to try something, I ask her to just smell it.  If she smells it, 99% of the time she’ll try a bite.  And I’ve learned to be happy with One Happy Bite, as much as it flies against my need to control the situation.

So.  If you have a child who is resisting new textures/colors/flavors, try soups.  I know it seems like a regression back to the baby food days, but if that’s what it takes to keep the flavors and colors changing on your child’s plate, I say it’s worth it.  Children get used to variety if variety is the norm.

Without further babbling, here’s the recipe!  Also, I paired the soup with a not-so-saintly fritter made from leftover Stove Top Stuffing.  No kidding.  They were FABULOUS as a little crispy soup-companion!  I topped them with herbed goat cheese and they tasted downright fancy.  Happy Meatless Monday!

Zucchini Basil Soup with Stove Top Fritters
Zucchini Basil Soup with Stove Top Fritters*

serves 4-6

2 lbs zucchini, peeled, trimmed and cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups of water
1/3 cup packed basil leaves

Cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat in a 3-4 quart stock pot until the onion starts to soften.  Add chopped zucchini and about a teaspoon of kosher salt and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.  Cover with the water and let it come to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, until the zucchini is soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Add the basil and puree in two batches in a blender (watch out blending hot liquids and make sure it has a vent or you’ve got your hand firmly on that lid!) or, blend directly in the pot with an immersion blender, which is what I do.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with fritters, toast, or as a starter for your three-course fancy-schmancy dinner! 🙂

*taken from Epicurious.com

Stuffing Fritters
Stove-Top Stuffing Fritters

2 cups leftover cornbread stuffing
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
olive oil for frying

In a medium bowl, combine the stuffing, water and egg and if the mixture won’t come together after a bit of stirring, add a little more water until you can form the stuffing into small patties.  I used a medium sized cookie scoop and it worked well.  Heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil (or any vegetable oil) over medium-high heat and fry the fritters about 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and keep the cooked fritters in a 250 degree oven until the rest are done and you’re ready to serve.  This will keep them crispy and warm!

 

Life Happens – Fire Up the Grill

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The past few weeks have been a game of “just make it through this day.”  My grandpa was very ill and had cancer surgery, then spent the next two weeks rapidly going downhill till his body finally gave up the fight last Friday.  We were in and out of the ICU waiting room for a couple weeks, then there all day Friday, then I went to my hometown of Portales, NM for a couple days this week for the funeral, then Matt left for two and half days on a business trip.  In the midst of those three weeks, Olive was sick for two of them, I was sick for one week, we had crazy awful dirt storms and everything around the house just started taking a back seat to our little survival game.  In hindsight, it went about as well as it could and my family grew closer than ever before.  Needless to say, I didn’t blog much and while I really don’t want to neglect my regular posts, sometimes life just takes over.

image_2
So last Saturday, the day after my grandpa passed away and we were in the short calm of the storm, we decided to have a “normal” dinner at home and thought it sounded super relaxing to just grill almost every part of the meal and eat outside.
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Matt made a pot of BBQ baked beans from Rancho Gordo (we are part of a Bean of the Month club.  No joke) And they were smoky and full of good texture and went perfectly with all the grilled components of the meal.  We grilled a sirloin tri-tip steak and made a really unique green chili and tomato salsa with worchestershire sauce for the salt and it was perfect with the BBQ flavors and our grilled bread.  Yes, grilled bread – it was awesome.  Kind of a hillbilly bruschetta, if you will.

photo 3

 

photo 4

photo 5
 I’d highly recommend this grilled bread.   We took a loaf of sourdough bread, cut it in half, spread vegetable oil and kosher salt on the cut sides and let it grill till crispy.  THEN we mixed a clove of smashed garlic in with a half stick of butter and seasoned it with salt and spread that on slices of the grilled bread.  I swear to you, you will never want another bread for an outdoor BBQ as long as you live!

This whole meal was so therapeutic.  The weather was good, we all sat outside and enjoyed the smell of the grill, the breeze was actually gentle instead of tornado-like, and even the kid was transfixed by her surroundings long enough to just SIT and eat.  I think everyone needs to take a break from time to time.  A break from all the performing we find ourselves doing.  I feel like I perform with my photography, with this blog, with just about everything that is broadcast on social media.  And maybe in times where we find it very hard to STOP performing for everyone, life throws us an unavoidable circumstance that forces us to simplify and slow down.  Only God could restore my energy at a time like this.  Only God could bring families closer out of death.  And only God would design food to be so comforting and satisfying that one meal would have the ability to inflate my entire family’s sails just a little bit more than before the meal began.

There will be a steadier stream of posts coming, now.  I THINK most of the drama is at a standstill for now.  Thank you for being patient!

 

Perini Ranch Poblano Hominy

hominy001
Back in 2011, we went with two of our best friends on a BBQ Tour of Texas.  It was just as awesome and delicious as it sounds.  Our very first stop was at Perini Ranch in Abilene, TX.  We got some amazing barbecue but this little side dish was a favorite at the table.  Hominy baked with bacon, poblano peppers, jalapenos and cheddar – how can you go wrong?  It’s savory and hearty and a perfect side dish to most anything.  It’s very filling and easy to whip up, serves a whole lotta people and I have the recipe for you!  Aren’t you lucky?!  🙂 We only slightly altered the original recipe – it’s pretty perfect how it is!

hominy002

Perini Ranch Poblano Hominy*
serves 10 to 12 as a side dish

1 cup chopped onion
4 (15 ounce) cans white hominy (drain and reserve liquid)
1/2 cup hominy liquid
1 tablespoon juice from pickled jalapenos
1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, grated
8 slices thick cut bacon, fried crisp and chopped (reserve drippings)
1 cup fresh seeded and chopped poblano pepper
1 or 2 pickled jalapenos, seeded and chopped (optional) 

Saute the onions in a little of the bacon drippings and set aside. Heat the hominy in a separate pan, stirring often. When heated thoroughly, add the hominy liquid and jalapeno juice, bring back to high temperature and add 3/4 of the cheese. When the cheese melts, add half the peppers and bacon and all the onion. Pour into a large baking pan (a 9×13″ works) and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon and peppers. Bake at 325 degrees F until cheese on top melts, about 15 minutes.

*adapted from this copycat recipe

The Amazing Pea Puree

7G9A9851
This recipe is one of the most delicious things we’ve ever made in our kitchen.  I’m serious.  How can a pea puree be that good and be something adults want to eat, instead of just babies?  Because yes, I agree, it looks like baby food.  But let’s be honest with ourselves: any high-end restaurant is selling you baby food under the name “puree” and you LOVE it.  This stuff is creamy and almost like a really soft whipped mashed potato consistency.  I know I’m fighting an uphill battle trying to make this sound appealing, so I’ll stop.  Just make it.  Especially if you want something different in your week night repertoire.  You certainly have some frozen peas in your freezer.  You certainly have a head of garlic.  The only thing you may not have on hand is heavy cream.  This puree has been a simple accompaniment to our meals, the base sauce and flavor for seared scallops (as pictured) and every time Olive basically licks her bowl.  Heck, we all do.  Seriously, it’s that good.  And we have Nigella Lawson and her awesome book, How to Eat to thank for this gem.  In her book, this recipe didn’t even get it’s own title or section, but it was sandwiched in alongside a fish recipe and we felt so lucky to find it.  We’ve made it at least four or five times since!

If you’re looking for a great baby food, toddler-friendly food or high class side dish for a dinner party, this is it!

Pea Puree*
serves 4 as a side dish

2 1/2 cups frozen peas
6 cloves garlic, left whole
4 TBS butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

In a medium pot, bring salted water to boil with the garlic cloves.  Boil for about 5 minutes and then add the peas.  Boil the peas till they are very tender and then transfer the peas and garlic cloves to a food processor.  Add the butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the peas and garlic and pulse until smooth.  Drizzle in the heavy cream while the processor is running.  Taste to see if it needs more salt and then serve immediately!  Easy peasy!  Har har.

*adapted from How to Eat

Dinner Tonight: Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits and some Blogger Love

Blue Cheese Biscuits with Roasted Tomatoes
I’m loving other foodies’ blogs this week.  After signing off of eating out for Lent, this week I decided to make nothing but food from amazing recipes I saw on Pinterest or other blogs I follow.  Today’s main recipe comes from Joy the Baker’s amazing blog.  I saw her recipe for tomato cobbler and blue cheese biscuits on Pinterest and I wanted it THAT VERY SECOND.  The recipe takes almost two hours, start to finish, so I had to save it for a night where we weren’t running around.  That night was tonight and I absolutely loved this dish.  Sweet and tangy roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, sweet basil and peppery, blue cheese biscuits…honestly, I can’t think of a more perfect combination of flavors.

Olive ate an entire biscuit, and a couple tomatoes and declared it, “good.” 🙂  I wasn’t sure if she would, so instead of making this dish the entire meal, I served it alongside some baked, herbed tilapia, inspired by my personal friend and fellow food-blogger, Becky from Apronclad.com.  I typically pan fry fish but when Becky posted about baking it, I thought, “hey, I’m already baking the main course, why not pop some fish in the oven, too?”  It turned out light and simple and I love how the protein in this case, was the side dish 🙂

Baked Tilapia with Herbs
I just thought this was a beautiful dish before it was baked! Here’s the simple method I used.  Thanks, Becky for the inspiration!

Baked Tilapia with Herbs
serves 2 and a toddler

3 small fillets of white fish – cod, tilapia, mahi mahi, etc.
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
snipped fresh herbs – I used thyme and chives, about a teaspoon each
1 tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes

In a shallow baking dish, spread the olive oil around and place the fish on the oil. Season fillets  with kosher salt and pepper and sprinkle the snipped herbs all on top and around the fish.  Dot the top of each fillet with a couple pieces of butter and bake at 375F for 15-18 minutes, until fish flakes apart easily.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon if desired.

 

Olive inhaled her fish, as it is a bit of a comfort-food item for her by this point.  I make fish every week.  Familiarity breeds comfort.  Serve your kids something covered in herbs enough and they’ll eventually not balk at it. You think your kids wouldn’t eat this meal?  I disagree! I think eventually they would.  I have watched over the past couple weeks as Olive has really come into a “grown-up” phase of her life where she MUST assert her own authority over things at ALL TIMES.  It’s fine, it’s normal, but I can see where this point in a toddler’s development would create a negative environment around food, trying new foods or even just mealtimes in general.  Here’s what we do:  Every meal, whatever we’re having, I put a tiny portion of each component on her plate.  I tell her what each thing is and then I back away.  Don’t even pay attention.  Make small-talk! The only time I intervene is when she hasn’t tried a particular component and I encourage her to.  Not shockingly, this is the only time during dinner she protests.  She doesn’t want to be told what to eat.  Do you?  I really should back off in this area even more.  So we just say she has to taste it.  Or simply smell it!  After a smell or a tiny lick, she will 99% of the time decide to eat it.  We emphasize that she doesn’t have to like it, but we DO want her to just taste.  If she doesn’t like the taste, that’s fine, and she can spit it back out if she wants.  It’s working!

We have had upsets.  We’ve had back tracking.  We’ve had days where the girl will literally only eat a cracker and declare herself “all done” and get up from the table and leave and not even come back for fruit.  We have had days where she cries because I tell her she can’t have dessert first.  Most of the time her fighting is on days where she really doesn’t have much of an appetite.  So I let it slide.  I think the most important thing you can do to get your kids to eat what you serve is to STOP ACTING LIKE YOU CARE.  And more importantly, if they don’t eat it, don’t serve them something else.  Don’t go to the kitchen and short-order them a side of PB&J.  I always make sure there is something on the table I know Olive likes and then the rest is up to her.  It’s tough to watch your kid not eat much at a meal.  But trust me – they make up for it at the next one!

I’ll do a simple repost on the tomato cobbler recipe.  I know several friends who would fawn over this recipe and I hope they will make it this weekend!  Summer Richards, I’m talking to you 🙂
Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits

Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits*
serves 6

For the Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

For the Filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and coarsely ground black pepper

To make the Biscuits:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add cold butter and shortening.  With your fingers, quickly break up the fat into the dry ingredients.  Rub the fats into the dry ingredients until well incorporated.  Some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, other will be the size of oat flakes.  Toss in blue cheese crumbles.  Stir to incorporate.

Create a small well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add buttermilk all at once.  With a fork, quickly bring together the wet and dry ingredients.  The dough will be rather shaggy.  Dump dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead dough about 10 times, bringing it together into a disk.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is assembled.

To make the tomato Filling:

Add olive oil and butter to a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook and brown onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for one minute more.   Remove pan from heat, add balsamic vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together clean cherry tomatoes (no need to cut them), chopped basil, flour, and red pepper flakes.  Add caramelized onions and toss together until everything is lightly and evenly coated in flour.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour the tomato and onion filling into a square 8×8-inch baking dish.  Place in the oven and bake tomatoes filling for 25 minutes.

Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out biscuit dough into a 3/4 or 1-inch thickness.  Use a 1 1/2 to 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits.  Dip the cutter in flour should it get sticky.  Remove the partially cooked filling from the oven and carefully place 6 biscuits atop the tomato filling in the pan.  Brush biscuit tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Reshape and reroll excess biscuit dough to make extra biscuits at another time.  (The shaped biscuit dough freezes very well.)

Return warm filling and biscuit dough to oven and bake for 17-20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, and the tomato mixture is bubbling.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.  Tomato Cobbler is best served warm.

*posted directly from Joy the Baker’s blog

Ginger Scallion Sauce and Taking a Fast from Fast Food

Ginger Scallion Sauce
It’s Ash Wednesday and for many, that means a time of choosing to fast from one vice or another in order to devote the time previously taken by the vice to thinking about God or praying for focus or simply remembering Christ’s sacrifice.  It doesn’t even have to be a vice, necessarily, but something that you do or perhaps over indulge on a daily or weekly basis, that if you gave it up, it would create a bit of a hole or an inconvenience in your day and force you to remember why you are fasting from it in the first place.  Many give up certain foods: sugar, coffee, sodas, fried foods.  Some give up distractions like apps on their cell phones or Facebook or watching tv.

Matt suggested that we give up eating out at restaurants for Lent this year.  This obviously involves my participation more than his, as I will be doing the majority of the cooking.  But I know that for both of us, we lean on the ability to go get something fast and easy too often.  I cook a LOT, but I use dining out as a “break” or a “reward” for cooking all week.  I use it when I just “don’t wanna” and sometimes when I just feel plain burned out on thinking up another meal to cook at home. I thought it was a good thing to give up, though, and so I agreed.  He will no doubt cook more often during this time, too.  Today is the first day of Lent and today’s recipe is from our lunch today.

I don’t believe you have to be Catholic to participate in the season of Lent.  I believe any tradition that helps us refocus on the sacrifice and life of Christ is a worthwhile endeavor.  Borrowing from other religious cultures can enhance our own or refresh the way we see things and shed new light on old habits.  Someone questioned how we “do” Lent regarding what we give up and asked if it’s just “another resolution” or if we really pray or do what we’re supposed to do in the absence of the thing we’re giving up.  I have never thought of Lent as “just another resolution” and fully intend on dining out at restaurants once the 40 days are over.  But for these next six weeks, I plan on remembering a few things in the absence of the convenience of dining out and every time I feel tempted:

1. It’s a privilege to eat out – even fast food, not just nice restaurants.
2. Not everyone has the joy of owning a house or a kitchen to cook in.  We do.
3. When I don’t feel like cooking over the next 40 days, I will think of my new friends at Carpenter’s Church who only WISH they had a nice kitchen, but instead have to rely on the kindness of soup kitchens downtown to get a hot meal.
4. Not everyone can afford good produce at the grocery store.  We can and I plan on utilizing that honor.
5. Dining out is a break from reality.  So many people in the world never get a break from their harsh realities.  They have no choice.

This morning I taught my little cooking class at Carpenter’s and our class ended and we finished cleaning up about 10 till noon.  Typically, I would have called up Matt and said, “We’ll just come pick you up, I don’t feel like cooking again.”  But I called him up instead and said, “I gotta run home and cook – lunch will be a little later today.”  I had been to the store yesterday and bought all the items needed (a privilege)  for one of our favorite garnishes for Asian type dishes, Ginger Scallion Sauce.  We love to put it on just about anything, and today, I tossed it along with some sticky rice and leftover pork we cooked on Sunday, and some pineapple (and a fried egg, of course).  A really fresh, tasty meal and it only took me 30 minutes, start to finish.

You don’t have to give up something for Lent in order to be “good” or “right.”  It’s not about that.  However, in order to be more disciplined in life, there really is no other way than to TRY.  Think you’re not disciplined enough to give something up for 40 days?  Well… have you tried?

Sticky Rice with Broiled Pork and Pineapple

 

Ginger Scallion Sauce
makes about 3 cups

Momofuku Ginger Scallion Sauce
Look how lazy I am.  But there you have it – we don’t alter it so I figured I’d just show you the page out of the book!  Everything in the Momofuku cookbook is good, from what we’ve tried, so far.  David Chang is one of our biggest celebrity chef crushes and we think he can do no wrong.  Pick up this book today! And the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook while you’re at it!

 

Glazed Pork Chops with Home Fries and a Fried Egg – The Ultimate Breakfast for Dinner

brunch-pork chops, home fries and a fried egg
We made this brunch meal a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me as one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in a long time.  A salty/sweet glazed pork chop with home fries and a fried egg – the perfect brunch!  The pork recipe comes from Serious Eats and we followed it to the letter.  So I will give you my home fries recipe, here, and let you follow the Serious Eats link to make the rest.   This was just as good as any brunch you might get on Sunday at a nicer restaurant and best of all – it only took about 30 minutes!  Serious Eats is one of our favorite sites for recipes.  There are certain, very popular sites (don’t want to drop names but it starts with a M and ends with an artha Stewart dot com)  that don’t have reliable recipes.  You can tell when a recipe has just been thought up but not tested thoroughly.  Not so at Serious Eats.  You can bet that each recipe has been done a few times and you can rely on the promised outcome!

That’s another thing I love about writing this blog and reading most food blogs – the author is posting things she has literally tried at home!  So even if something goes wrong here or there, you can ask questions in the comments and be a part of the unofficial test group in helping to refine the recipe!  And I hope you all who read my blog will tell me when you hit road bumps.  I’m learning every day how to be better at this craft and it’s not helping me one bit if you stay silent when a recipe goes wrong for you!

Happy cooking and when in doubt, fry up some potatoes…

Pork Chops with Home Fries and a Fried Egg

Seasoned Home Fries
makes two servings (plus 1/2 for the little tater tot at your table)

1 large baking potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper

Scrub the potato and dice evenly into 1/2″ square dice.  The more evenly you chop, the more evenly your potatoes will cook!  Heat a large saucepan filled with water over high heat till boiling.  Drop the potatoes and cook until partially cooked – still a little firm, but getting softer on the outside when pierced with a fork.  Remove the potatoes and spread out on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and pat the potatoes dry.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat until it shimmers.  Season the potatoes with season salt and pepper and toss in the skillet.  Let them brown evenly on each side and then remove from heat, adjust seasoning as you wish and serve with pork chops and a fried egg!

brunch