Friday, November 20, 2015

Chipotle-Mornay Muffin Melts

I seem to be on a bit of a chipotle kick recently.  Since so much of the can is left over after each recipe, I was brainstorming and came up with a bunch of ideas that I thought would be good to try.  Then I got pretty busy elsewhere in life and had a few days in a row where I needed quick, easy dinners.  So instead of spacing those recipes out as I usually would, I had chipotle-based dishes a couple nights straight.
  • 2 English muffins, split
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into coins
  • 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 C milk
  • 3/4 C shredded Gruyere
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1.  Toast English muffins, top with a single layer of egg coins, and season with about 1/8 tsp of salt and the pepper.
2.  In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour, remaining 1/8 tsp salt, and pepper.  Stir in milk all at once.  Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly.  Stir in Gruyere until melted; add chipotle pepper and let adobo sauce incorporate completely.  Pour sauce over egg-topped muffins.

Robyn's notes: a Mornay sauce is Bechemel (white sauce) with Gruyere and egg yolks added.  In this case the egg is not in the sauce, but under it!  I thought this worked out pretty well, I was pretty stingy with the pepper and adobo sauce, so it just added a little kick and some depth of flavour.  My only real complaint is aesthetic, I wish the final dish wasn't so pale!

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Slow-Cooked Baked Potato with Chipotle Cream Sauce

Sure, a potato can be baked in the oven, in the microwave, on a grill, even tossed into a campfire.  But sometimes on a busy or stressful day it's nice to know that your potato is ready and waiting for you, without your needing to do anything else to it.
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1.  Poke potatoes in several places with a fork, rub with oil and sprinkle with salt.  Wrap in aluminum foil, place in 1 1/2 quart slow-cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
2.  In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and chipotle with sauce.  Refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour to allow flavours to blend.
3.  Split potatoes, spoon sauce over top, and serve.

Robyn's notes: use as much or as little of the adobo sauce with the pepper as fits your preference for spice.  I'm very sensitive to it, so I use just the littlest bit.  The remaining sauce and peppers in the can will last a few days covered in the fridge, or can be frozen.  If freezing, pour into a zip-loc bag and seal, flattening the bag so that the peppers are in a single layer when the bag is laid on its side.  Freeze in that position.  Next time you need a pepper, you can break or cut off just the one with some sauce and allow it to thaw, without having to thaw the entire bag.  See Using Up Ingredients for other uses.  I find it really difficult to get small or medium russet potatoes anymore, unless I buy a 5-10lb bag.  If Jumbos are all that's available, one will serve two people.  It's been awhile since I had a baked potato come out as perfectly cooked as this: cooked through perfectly but not dry inside.  The sauce was a nice topping for it, though about halfway through the potato I had to start adding shredded cheese to cut down the spice.  But as I say, I'm very sensitive to heat.  I had some mashed potatoes in the fridge that I brought home from a potluck, so I saved a bit of this sauce to stir into them when re-heating.  That was ok, gave them a bit of a kick, but didn't provide much in the way of flavour, just spice.

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Three-Cheese Mac with Crispy Prosciutto

This recipe comes from the cookbook "One Pan, Two Plates", which has some absolutely amazing-looking recipes.  However, from the moment I received it I simply couldn't believe the dishes inside were truthfully 2 servings.  As soon as I started this one, I had a sinking feeling about how many days this was going to have to be eaten (2 Cups of elbow mac is way more than 2 servings, according to the box of pasta it's just over 4 servings).  But I had purchased all the ingredients, looked forward to it for ages, and can't review a book without cooking from it, so I went ahead.  This is ridiculously oversized.  The only way this serves two is if one of them is a horse. 
  • salt
  • 2 C elbow macaroni
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto, cut crosswise into strips
  • 1/2 C panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 C warm milk
  • 1/3 C crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/3 C grated Parmesan
  • 1/3 C shredded Gruyere
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Position rack in center.
2.  Fill 12-inch ovenproof skillet with water up to about 1 inch from the top.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add 2 tsp salt and toss in macaroni.  Stir once or twice to keep pasta from sticking.
3.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Cook at gentle boil until almost cooked through, chewy but not tough (about 2 minutes less time than the package calls for).  Drain and run cold water over pasta to stop cooking and avoid clumping.
4.  Add 2 Tbsp butter to pan and melt over medium-high heat.  Add prosciutto and toss in pan until crispy, about 2 minutes.  Transfer prosciutto to plate.  Put panko in a small bowl, pour hot butter from pan over panko and toss to coat.
5.  Return pan to medium-high heat and add remaining 2 Tbsp butter.  When butter is melted, sprinkle in flour and 1/4 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring, until flour becomes foamy, about 1 minute.  Whisk in warm milk, and stir until mixture is thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and all all three cheeses, nutmeg, and pepper, stirring until cheeses are melted.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.  Stir in macaroni and prosciutto until pasta is coated and prosciutto is evenly distributed.  Smooth top and sprinkle panko over top.
6.  Transfer to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until juices are bubbly and top is lightly browned. 

Robyn's notes: so many problems with this.  I don't give a lot of 1-star ratings, so clearly I had some issues.  We'll start with the two things that were entirely my own fault: a 12-inch cast-iron skillet full of food or water is beyond my ability to easily lift.  I'm disabled, and I get that this is not a problem for many cooks, but trying to move a heavy skillet full of boiling water from the stove to the sink so I can drain it was dangerous.  Secondly, my oven is not full-size.  It's not tiny, but it is slightly smaller than a normal oven, which means I don't have a burner large enough to accommodate a 12-inch skillet.  Ok, those are the only things that were my own issues.  I was very careful about the heat level, especially since my burner is small, but when I added the first butter in step 4, it smoked up fast and sudden and started to burn immediately.  I did the best I could with it, but that meant the prosciutto was given a slight burnt taste, as was the panko.  The sauce looked luscious and thick and creamy and cheesy when I stirred in the mac and prosciutto, but when the pan came out of the oven there was no sauce left.  The noodles were just dry, and basically have no flavour.  Any bite without a bit of prosciutto in it is bland bland bland.  Since this is, as I said above, way more than two servings, and the cheeses and prosciutto were not cheap, I will be eating this terribly bland meal at least once a day for the next couple days.  I am not happy.  

* 1 Star: Not Too Good. Neither of us liked this enough for me to bother making it again without complete overhaul

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pear Rose Cardamom Oatmeal

This recipe comes from Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You, which I've had for over a year and had not yet cooked from.
  • 1/2 C steel-cut oats
  • 2 C unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 small pear, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater, food grade
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • sweetener to taste (sugar, stevia, etc)
1.  Spray 1 1/2 qt crockpot with cooking spray.  Add all ingredients except sweetener.  Cook on low overnight (7-9 hours).
2.  Stir oatmeal well and add sweetener.

Robyn's notes: this tasted good, but I found the texture extremely unpleasant.  It was just a mush, and fairly slimy.  I sweetened with brown sugar and found myself adding quite a lot of it just to break up the unpleasant feel in my mouth.  

** 2 Stars: Acceptable. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, if I make changes

Monday, November 16, 2015

Curried-Pear Chicken

I love the smell of curry powder, but don't get the opportunity to use it as often as I'd like.
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 C dry white wine (see notes, below)
  • 1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1.  Season chicken on both sides with 1/8 tsp salt and pinch of pepper.  Heat 2 tsp oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until well-browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
2.  Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tsp oil to the pan.  Add pear, shallot, and curry.  Cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add wine and broth; bring to a simmer.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
3.  Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan.  Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to 2 plates.  Add coconut milk, cilantro, and mint to the pan and stir to combine.  Season with the remaining salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken.

Robyn's notes: I can't afford wine for cooking, so I simply used all chicken broth (or 1/2 C total) instead.  Another option is to replace the wine with apple juice.  I thought I had the fresh herbs in the house but turned out to have misremembered, so I just left them out.  I found the chicken really quite good, but it all went best when each bite had a bit of chicken with sauce, a bit of pear, and some of the Ginger Pear Rice that I made as a side.  

**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently

Gingered Pear Rice

I was looking for a way to make a side of rice more interesting, and the entree used pear, so decided to jazz up the rice with that flavour profile.
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp pear, diced small
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 C white rice (not instant)
  • 1 1/3 C chicken broth or water
1.  In small saucepan, cook garlic in oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add pear, lemon juice, ginger, and pepper, and cook until pear is slightly softened, stirring constantly.
2.  Add rice and water, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.
3.  Sprinkle with diced green onions just before serving, if desired.

Robyn's notes: this worked out well, but it wasn't a very strong flavour.  Served with Curried-Pear Chicken

*** 3 Stars: Good. At least one of us liked this enough for me to make it again, but not often

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream

Without an ice cream maker. 

This recipe from Against All Grain was quite straightforward and worked well for me.  My only issue was that I had no blackberries on hand, and really just wanted vanilla anyway, so I decided not to bother making the blackberry syrup.  Without it, the honey flavour was far too strong for my taste.  The recipe made exactly 32oz of ice cream (I stored it in an empty Greek yogurt tub) and hadn't even eaten half of it after 6 weeks.  After taking the above picture, however, I topped the bowl with a few fresh raspberries, and that turned out to be perfect, cutting right through the overly-sweet honey.  So whether using blackberries or another berry, I'd call this a worthwhile recipe to try, but it needs that tart fresh aspect the recipe creator included.