Overlook the old baking sheet and concentrate on the quiche. It is very rich, yet light in texture with tantalizing flavors. Next time out, egg beaters with just an egg or two and half and half instead of heavy cream should work and make it somewhat healthier. The tortilla crust is something worth trying with other fillings. We’ll work on that in the Gringo Gourmet Academy Test Kitchens and report on the trials soon.
POBLANO ENCHILADA QUICHE Ingredients
4 large eggs
¾ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small to medium poblano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (or cheddar, or pepper jack or plain jack cheese)
1 10 oz can red enchilada sauce
4 six-inch corn tortillas, three cut in half
Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk the eggs, heavy cream ½ tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the sliced poblano pepper, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender and charred in spots: 5-8 minutes. Add to egg mixture along with scallions and all but two Tbsp cheese, stir to combine and set aside.
Pour the enchilada sauce into the skillet and heat until bubbling; remove from heat. Using tongs, dip the whole tortilla in the sauce until coated. Place in a 9-inch pie plate. Dip the tortilla halves in the sauce and arrange around the sides of the pie plate with the curved sides up, they will overlap a little. Reserve the remaining sauce.
Pour the egg mixture into the tortilla “crust”, smooth out the poblanos in and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Drizzle with about three Tbsp of the remaining enchilada sauce. Bake until golden, slightly puffed and set – about 25 minutes.
Reheat leftover enchilada sauce, cut the quiche into six wedges and plate. Drizzle with heated enchilada sauce. Serve with a simple tossed salad or the jicama recipe below.
Optional Jicama Side Dish Ingredients
1 pound to pound and a half jicama
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup chopped cilantro Method
Peel the jicama and slice into matchsticks. Toss with lime juice, cilantro, 2 Tbsp olive oil and ¼ cup water. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the quiche.
Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is trendy right now. We’re finding poke on menus, in specialty restaurants and even on food trucks. It is raw fish with an assortment of sauces and it is very good!
Running across a recipe for a “tuna and avocado tostada” was just another way of enjoying poke with a little Mexican twist, so, por que no? (why not).
Toss 12 oz diced sushi-grade tuna with one tablespoon each soy sauce, orange juice, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil. Stem, seed and mince one serrano pepper (two might have been better), and season with salt and pepper.
Mash one avocado with the juice of half a lime and a little salt. Spread the avocado side to side on 6 tostadas. Tope with the tuna drizzle with chipotle mayonnaise and sprinkle with shredded red cabbage and cilantro and crispy fried onions.
Notes: Make your own tostadas by baking corn tortillas in a 375° oven. Spritz the tortillas with a little cooking spray, turn at five minutes a couple of times until they are lightly browned and crisp. You can use 6″ tortillas. I used three 3″ tortillas and heaped on the poke and avocado to make a meal for one.
Make your own chipotle mayonnaise with two to three tablespoons of mayonnaise and a teaspoon or so of adobo from a can or jar of chipotles en adobo. Thin with a little water to make a drizzling consistency.
I was too lazy to fry onions and didn’t want to buy a whole can of fried onions this time. Maybe nest time!
Have the guy at the meat counter get your tuna from the freezer, not the tuna that’s been in the display case for who know’s how long! It will be frozen and easier to dice and better tasting. Remember, you’ll be eating it raw “cooked” by the citrus juices in the marinade.
Battered and fried “spicy”shrimp with sides of fries and coleslaw are a wonderful indulgence once in awhile, but you can go low-cal garlic shrimp and potatoes as well. Broiled garlic shrimp and sugar snap peas and a side of potatoes mashed with buttermilk and chives can become another treat without the guilt at 44O calories per serving (including the richness of butter). Using buttermilk in the mashed potatoes was a new experience after years and years of using half-and-half. Buttermilk adds a special touch to the flavor. Thank goodness there were enough potatoes for a small second helping.
Think outside the paper box of fried goodness and try this different approach to favorite goodies.
GARLIC SHRIMP AND POTATOES Ingredients
1¾ lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1½ lbs small red potatoes, halved
¾ cup buttermilk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon Method
Preheat broiler. Toss shrimp, snap peas, garlic, thyme and olive oil in a large bowl and set aside.
Cook potatoes in a pot of water until fork-tender – about 10 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup cooking water, drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add buttermilk, 2 Tbsp butter, ½ tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mash, gradually adding cooking water if needed. Be sparing with liquids and don’t over-mash. Stir in half the chives.
While potatoes are cooking, spread the shrimp and snap peas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil until just cooked through and charred in spots – 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven, dot shrimp and peas with 2 Tbsp butter, sprinkle on the lemon zest and toss until the butter is melted and the mixture is well coated.
Divide potatoes and shrimp mixture among 4 plates. Drizzle with any juices (that would be herbed butter!) from the baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp chives.
Many fun meals have been made using a small, hand-held, inexpensive OXO spriralizer to make colorful and delicious vegetable “noodles”. It has become more fun with the introduction of a three-blade option allowing a choice of three sizes of noodles. This new toy and discovering a new recipe calling for zucchini noodles made experimenting mandatory.
LEMON-BASIL CHICKEN WITH ZUCCHINI NOODLES Ingredients
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (6 to 8 oz each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ shallot, finely chopped
½ cup torn fresh basil, plus 2 tsp finely chopped stems
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1-1/2 lbs zucchini noodles
Red pepper flakes for topping (optional)
Spread ¼ cup flour on a large plate. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredged in the flour; shake off excess flour.
Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add chicken and cook until golden and almost cooked through (5 – 6 minutes per side).
Push chicken to the edges of the skillet and add shallot and basil stems to middle of skillet. Cook about 1 minute until soft, but not browned. Stir in remaining tablespoon flour and cook 1 minute to make a roux. Add chicken broth and lemon juice, bring to a boil while scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat and simmer, turning the chicken occasionally until cooked through (165°in thickest part of breast) and sauce is thickened (3 – 4 minutes). Turn off heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons butter until melted and add the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt the remaining tablespoon butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini noodles, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until just softened (2 – 3 minutes). It is easy to overcook the noodles and make them too soft! Toss in half the torn basil. Divide among 4 plants, top with chicken, sauce, remaining basil and red pepper flakes.
Long ago, The Gourmet Dad, by Dean McDermott, caught my attention on a Denver bookstore shelf. It promised “Easy and Delicious Meals the Whole Family will Love.” It had great recipes that included modified versions to appeal to children. A surreptitious photograph of book cover was taken to remember to look at the book in more detail after the trip.
Stumbling on that photo a couple of years later prompted a visit to Amazon and subsequent purchase of the electronic version of the cookbook. It does have some very good grown up recipes; even the kid versions sound good. The books photos attest to the plating skills of an accomplished professional chef and inspire emulation.
McDermott has a wife and five children which seems to a cadre of sous chefs in the house to help with the prep of the books “easy” meals. There are no quibbles with the “delicious” description.
The below recipe with the Fennel F-word begged to be made. Seared scallops with it made it imperative! As a single empty-nester with no sous chests around, prep for most recipes takes some time. This recipe was worth the time on multiple levels. As a desert dweller, using watercress was a new adventure well worth the price for a handful. Who knew it has a peppery bite! It is always a thrill to try something new. McDermot’s instruction on searing scallops is simple and produces beautiful results. Gaining a new skill is always appreciated.
McDermott’s original recipe is for four salad servings topped with two scallops each. Hah! Reducing the volume of apple and fennel and upping the count of scallops to six per serving and the addition of a little garlic and herb bread made in a meal instead of a side dish. No point on shorting oneself on scallops, or fennel! A bonus was some leftover roasted shallot vinaigrette for another evening.
Seared Scallops, Shaved Apples and Fennel with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
4 shallots, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus ½ cup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
Juice of 1 orange
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced Salad Ingredients
8 sea scallops
1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and thinly sliced (may substitute Pink Lady, Gala or Jonagold)
2 fennel bulbs, stem trimmed and shaved
Juice of 2 lemons, halves reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 bunch watercress, all but ½ inch of the stems removed
1/8 cup hazelnuts, toasted and crushed, plus 1/8 cup for garnish Method
Preheat oven to 400°
Spread shallots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the thyme and two springs’ worth of the rosemary. Roast the shallots until tender, 10 – 12 minutes.
Allow the roasted shallots to cool, then mince them. Combine them with the remaining rosemary, orange juice, lemon juice and zest and garlic in a small bowl and mix well. Whisk in the remaining ½ cup olive oil and season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Pat the scallops dry and allow them to come to room temperature. In the meantime, combine the apple, fennel, lemon juice and lemon halves in a medium bowl and set aside.
Preheat a large sauté pan over high heat. Using a sharp knife, carefully score the top of each scallop in a crisscross pattern and season both sides with salt and pepper and a drizzle of grapeseed oil.
When the pan is hot, carefully place the scallops in it with the crosshatched side down. Do not move the scallops until they release from the pan, about 3 – 4 minutes to get the best sear and coloring.
Once the crisscross side releases and is a golden brown, flip the scallops and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, baste the scallops a few times and then remove the pan from the heat. Residual heat from the pan will finish cooking the scallops to perfection.
Drain the reserved apple-fennel mixture and discard the lemon halves. In a large salad bowl, toss have the watercress with the fennel-apple mixture. Add the reserved vinaigrette and 1/8 cup of the crushed hazelnuts and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the salad on four salad plates, and top each with two scallops. Scatter the remaining watercress on top and garnish with the remaining hazelnuts and serve.
Notes: I forgot to buy hazelnuts, so I didn’t use them this time. I wonder how pecans might work instead. The garlic cloves I uses were quite strong, but mellowed nicely in the dressing as it sat on the counter for a few minutes.
The “3 Ways to Use Chard” feature in Cooking Light magazine has been the source of some great meals over the past several days. Chard with Shaved Fennel started the binge. Fennel is always a siren’s call around here. Then came Charred Chard and Shallots, just because it was fun to say out loud and charring greens in the oven or on the grill is a taste treat that keeps greens interesting. Completing the trifecta was a Sweet Potato and Chard Salad. The clincher on that one is farro.
It wouldn’t be honest to say the chard binge is over. There’s another bunch in the crisper awaiting another chard challenge.
SWEET POTATO AND CHARD SALAD Ingredients
10 oz cubed sweet potato – about ½ inch
6 oz chopped rainbow chard
1 cup hot cooked farro
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp tarragon vinegar
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp sliced scallions
Cook sweet potato in 4 cups water over medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil and reduce to medium low for three minutes. Stir in chopped chard and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain well.
Combine potatoes and chard, the cooked farro, olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Toss well to combine. Sprinkle with sliced scallions.
This salad will be a hit at the next potluck dinner gathering.
Follow package directions for cooking farro. You can put the farro and water in the refrigerator overnight to soak and reduce it’s cooking time. This works with steel cut oatmeal, too. The texture and nutty flavor of farro made this salad extra special.
Good ol’ El Paso groceries… it took shopping in three stores to find tarragon vinegar. The Heinz tarragon vinegar was a disappointment. It was very weak and not really vinegary nor was there much tarragon flavor. Even with more than the recipe called for, it was sad. Next time I’m out of town, I’ll search for a more potent brand.
Doing fun things with greens keeps them exciting. Grilled romaine and steamed curly endive are welcome changes on the menu at my house. I found a recipe for charred chard. I enjoyed saying charred chard out loud (I’m easily amused). Saying “charred chard” three times must have been a mystical incantation because then the recipe demanded to be made.
Charred Chard and Shallots
1 lb rainbow chard
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper
Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. Trim stems from rainbow chard. Divide chard leaves and shallots evenly between prepared pans. Spray vegetables lightly with cooking spray. Broil on high, one pan at a time until most of the chard is wilted and some is partially charred – 4 to 5 minutes.
Chop cooked chard into large pieces. Place chard mixture on a platter, top with golden raisins, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Do you ever really measure 1/8 of a teaspoon of anything? I keep a jar with a mix of 40% coarse ground black pepper and 60% kosher salt right by my stove for seasonings. A pinch or two of the mix does the trick for most things.
Watch the chard as it broils. You want it mostly wilted with a little char, not a pan full of ashes! The charred chard retains some texture and can be strongly flavored. It needs a touch sweetness.
I didn’t have golden raisins on hand. I used grape tomatoes on the side for sweet balance and was very happy with it. I’ll be making this again when I pick up some raisins.
The recipe suggests adding chickpeas and crumbled feta to make a vegetating main dish. I expect substituting a mildly salty vegan cheese world work, too.
Pure luck: Found a good sounding salad recipe and had the main ingredients oh hand – fennel and red chard. A little thinking and the richness of baked feta balanced with the mild tang of a Cara Cara orange sounded like the rest of a meal.
Confession: Only dinner was meatless. It’s a start.
Wilted Chard and Shaved Fennel Salad Ingredients
1 lb. rainbow chard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
¼ cup water
¼ cup chopped pistachios
2 Tbsp fennel fronds
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt Method
Coarsely chop chard leaves; thinly slice stems to equal 1 cup. (Reserve remaining stems for another use.)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chard stems and fennel and cook, stirring often until starting to soften – about 3 minutes.Add chard leaves and ¼ cup water, cover until just starting to wilt – about a minute and a half. Drain. Toss with apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper.
Divide into four servings. Top each evenly with the chopped pistachios and fennel fronds.
Baked Feta Ingredients
Block feta to allow 4 oz. per person
Olive oil Method
Heat oven to 400º
Cut feta into individual servings. Brush all sides with olive oil.
Put feta on a foil-covered baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Turn on broiler and put feta under it for 2 – 3 minutes until it gets a little color. Carefully transfer to plates and garnish with a fennel frond or two. Serve warm.
A group of friends get together every other month for a potluck dinner. Sometimes the dinners are true potluck. At other times, they are themed with a menu of dishes individuals may bring. It makes for pleasant evenings with good people and good food. It is hard to beat that combo!
Our March dinner had an Italian theme. I was asked to bring appetizers. I made a personal favorite – skewered mozzarella balls, basil leaves and grape tomatoes. Last fall, I discovered how wonderful baked feta can be, so I made baked feta with a borrowed idea for a fruit confit and and decided this was an opportunity to share a delectable treat. The warm roasted feta has a wonderful creamy texture nothing like you might expect from crumbled feta on a salad.
The name says it all. If you need an ingredients list, you should be making reservations for dinner. (Wasn’t that tacky!) Method
I’ll share a fee hints. I roll the basil leaves and put them between the cheese and tomato on wooden skewers that are a little longer than toothpicks. I used a telera roll anchored to the plate with a blob of peanut butter as a base for the skewers. Curly lettuce leaves tucked under the roll make the plate more attractive. Telera rolls are a Mexican sandwich roll widely available in El Paso. You could use a brioche instead if you wish. The important thing is a half-round base for the skewers/
What wowed the group was the Roasted Feta with Blackberry and Herb Confit. It was an amazing pairing of flavors and textures best served warm.
Several months ago, I served roasted feta as the protein for a vegetarian bridesmaid luncheon in Oregon. The El Paso group dinner was a chance to do a riff on that feta with the addition of a blackberry and herb confit as an appetizer.
Roasted Feta Ingredients
One 8 oz. block feta, patted dry (sheep’s milk feta is great if you can find it.)
2 tsp. olive oil Method
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Brush the feta with the olive oil and place in a small oven-proof baking dish, preferably the one you can serve from.
Bake the feta until it starts to soften, about 8 – 9 minutes. Switch the oven to broil and broil for about three minutes to start to brown the top of the feta. Watch that is doesn’t burn.
Remove from oven and spoon the warm confit over the feta. Serve immediately.
Blackberry and Herb Confit Ingredients
3 black peppercorns or a few good grinds of black pepper
4 juniper berries (or 1 bayleaf)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (about 1.5 to 3 inches)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 pint black berries Method Tie peppercorns. juniper berries and rosemary spring in a single layer of cheesecloth. They will be easier to remove later.
Place all ingredients, including the cheesecloth bundle in a small saucepan over medium heat. Be sure the cheesecloth is under the blackberries. When the mixture has begun to simmer and the berries have begin to break up and yield their juices, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring gently occasionally until syrupy -25-30 minutes. You should have about a cup of confit.
Remove the cheesecloth bundle and discard. Confit may be used immediately. If you let it chill a few hours or overnight, the flavors meld. I lprefer the texture of the berries in the confit. If desired, you can strain the confit through a fine mesh strainer and mash all the liquid you can from the confit to have a smoother, but lesser volume syrup.
Spoon warm confit over warm feta and try not to swoon.
The Gringo Gourmet has a new look with an easier to read color scheme. Please feel free to comment on it.
The end of the year us always hectic and 2017 was no exceptions. A number of things got me way behind in posting here. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is better organization of time and tasks and more posting here. Wish me well on that one!
I’ll start off with a recipe for an amazing and colorful slaw that looks and tastes as bright as fireworks welcoming in the new year, even if I’m doing it a couple of days early! In the next day or so I’ll post an interesting vegan dish we made for Christmas. It was a recipe from Jamie Oliver and all the measurements were metric. Fortunately, my daughter had a scale that could to metric weights as well as the weights we are used to in the U.S.! Keep an eye our for that one.
My pre-happy new year treat was part of a birthday party for one of my great grandnieces who turns 3 on New Year’s Eve. (Note: I have 10 great grand nieces and two great grand nephews. The consensus is I am a great, great uncle!) There was a luncheon featuring brisket, beans, fruit, guacamole, chips and salsa. Good TexMex eating on the border. I made a standard Cole slaw with a. creamy dressing and then, go fiesta with a Red Slaw with Spiralized Beets.
Red Slaw with Spiralized Beets
1 tsp lime zest, grated
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove(s), medium garlic clove(s), crushed through a garlic press
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed 1/2 tsp table salt 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
3 medium uncooked beets, peeled (about 3/4 lb)
2 cup(s) uncooked red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 medium uncooked scallion(s), thinly sliced
3 or 4 sliced shishito peppers
3 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
6 Tbsp queso cotija, or Parmesan cheese, coarsely shredded
3 Tbsp roasted salted pepitas, (pumpkin seeds)
In a large bowl, whisk together lime zest and juice, oil, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
Spiralize beets; add to dressing.
Add cabbage, scallions, shishito peppers and oregano to beets; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and pepitas.
Garnish with a few additional spirals.