Monday, April 28, 2014

Red Posole

Because I have to use my leftover Easter hambone for something and there is so much more than split pea soup out there in the world.

8 or 9 dried New Mexico chiles
1 lb pork shoulder or diced pork stew meat
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 medium white onion, diced
8 cloves minced garlic
1/2 bottle Negra Modelo
1 ham hock from smoked bone-in ham
1 cup leftover ham, chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1 29 oz can hominy (drain but reserve the liquid)
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced in a food processor, optional

In a large glass bowl, soak the chiles in hot water.  Set a smaller bowl on top to keep them submerged for at least 20 minutes.

Put the diced pork in a plastic bag with all the spices and shake to coat.  Set a Dutch oven over medium heat and brown the pork in oil, lightly on all sides.  Set aside to a plate.  Add more oil and sweat the diced onion until barely translucent.  Cook the garlic for one minute and then deglaze with 1/2 the beer.

Add the hambone, bayleaf and almost enough water to cover.  Simmer while you make the chile sauce, skimming any foam that rises to the top.

Remove the soaked chiles from the bowl, reserving the soaking liquid.  Remove the stems and the seeds if desired.  Chop in a food processor, adding the soaking liquid to make a smooth sauce.  Strain through a sieve if you want to remove the large chunks of chile skin.

Add to the pot with the chipotle peppers (if using) and hominy.  Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the bone.  Add the lid to the pot and put in the oven set to 300 degrees.  Cook for 6-8 hours, checking the liquid level regularly and adding the hominy liquid, more water or beer as needed.

When ready to eat, move to stovetop and simmer over medium heat, skimming any fat that rises.

Garnish with avocado, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, diced red onion, cotija and/or tortillas.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Avocado Cheesecake (GF)

Truth be told, nobody wanted to eat this cheesecake. There were many jokes along the lines of "This cheesecake has gone bad!" and "Mmmm, moldy cheesecake!"

Except everyone shut up when they ate it. This is so easy and so good, and be secure in the knowledge that this is healthy(-er) for you.

This is made with a fabulous gluten-free nut crust, but would be wonderful with a graham cracker crust if you prefer. Enjoy!

1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Press into a 9-inch pie pan and bake at 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

2 8 oz packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened
2 ripe avocados, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
Zest of one lime

Whip up the cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add the mashed avocados, sugar and vanilla and blend until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the zest.

Pour into pie crust and bake at 300 for one hour.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for three hours.

Not moldy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Party on a Budget

A friend sent me a group text: Happy hour on Friday at Cafeteria 15L?!?!?

At first I was all in, and then remembered: There is $13 in my bank account.  Even at happy hour, that's not going to go very far.  So instead I responded, "Love to, but I'm broke - happy hour at my house?"


It was only after the fact that I realized I had just invited six or seven people to my house to drink all my wine.  With some creative use of items on hand combined with nine dollars in Target vouchers, I was able to throw a party for... $1.

First I took a look at everything in my cabinet - I knew I could make a decent cannellini bean dip with some leftover herbs I had on hand, but a single bowl of dip seemed like a meager offering for a "party."  With the discovery of a jar of roasted red peppers, I had a double dip plan!

I took my vouchers to Target and picked up a couple cans of beans (only .84 cents each, what a steal!), a bag of baby carrots, and a bottle of Barefoot Brut Cuvee.  This came out to around $10 and I parted with my one dollar.

Back home I whipped up the following in my cocktail shaker and food processor, respectively (luckily I was able to borrow a lemon at the St. Germain from my sweetheart).  I recommend making the dips the night before for the best flavor, and substitute with whatever you have on hand.

Ask your guests to bring the tortilla chips and you're set.  Enjoy!

Double dip the chip.

St. Germain 75s

Two ounces gin
Two ounces St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
The juice of one whole lemon
Lemon peel, for garnish

Combine the gin and St. Germain in a cocktail shaker; chill until guests arrive.  When ready to serve, peel a strip of rind from the lemon and garnish each cocktail glass or champagne flute.  Shake the liquor with ice and strain into the glasses, then top with champagne.

Romesco Dip with Feta

1 8 ounce jar roasted red bell peppers
3/4 cup walnuts (almonds or cashews may be substituted)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika

1 splash red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (as needed)

In a food processor, combine everything but the olive oil.  Slowly strain in the oil a little at a time, until well blended.  Taste for seasoning and chill until ready to use.

When serving, garnish with feta cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Mint & Canellini Bean Dip

1 can white beans
1 handful mint leaves
3 ounces goat cheese
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
Fresh dill, if you have it
1 cup kalamata olives, chopped

Combine everything but the oil and olives in a food processor.  Blend until very smooth.  Taste for seasoning.  Chill until ready to use.

Before serving, garnish the top with kalamata olives (or fold them in if you like).  Serve with baby carrots and tortilla chips.

Minty fresh.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

This is one I've been working on for a while.  I have been really falling in love with roasting Brussels sprouts, something my mother always served steamed.  (Which is gross.  Please don't ever do this.)  They are one of those vegetables that tastes even better the darker and more roasty they get.  I wanted a quicker way to cook them and get them really dark without completely overcooking them, and it took a few rounds of trial and error to perfect this one.

The champagne vinegar is something I threw in without planning to.  I always have it on hand - anytime I have a party or friends over and a small portion of champagne goes unfinished, I put it in a small jar and let it sit in a cupboard for a month or so.  It doesn't have a very strong or acidic flavor, so it's great for salad dressings.  (If you don't have champagne vinegar, just mix a little white wine and vinegar together and this will work just fine.)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
Salt and pepper
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup champagne vinegar

Coat a large saute pan with the olive oil.  As you trim and slice the Brussels sprouts, place them cut side down in the cold pan until it is completely full.  Set it on a burner at medium high heat.  When it begins to sizzle, season the Brussels sprouts generously with salt and pepper.  Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid.

While they cook, chop the shallot and garlic.  After about five minutes the Brussels sprouts will begin to smell smoky (don't forgot to turn on your overhead fan and open a window).  Check one of the center sprouts to see if it is cooked to your desired color (mine is black, so I left them a bit longer). When they look almost done, sprinkle the shallots over the sprouts.  Return the lid.

After two or three minutes, remove the lid.  Add the garlic, and then pour in the champagne vinegar and quickly deglaze the pan with a spatula, scraping up the Brussels sprouts.  Toss until all the vegetables are well coated.  The Brussels sprouts should still be bright green (not brown) with very dark bottoms.  Add to a serving bowl and season with more salt if needed.