It just goes to show – no matter your age, you’re never too old to start liking a new food. For the last, well – 40-ish years or so – I had never made a particular item in our kitchen. And with our love of Mexican food, it seems unlikely that this item, very common in Mexican cooking, has never made it to our table. But the fact is that for the last, well – 40-ish years or so – I have had a disdain for this comestible. We’re not sure what caused a change of heart, but this week I purchased, cooked, and ate…beans. Many of you just became completely indifferent to this post, but for those of you who have known me for a while, you know that eating beans here is a big deal.
Now before anyone gets too celebratory, I must concede that it was refried beans that I made – but again, for someone who has never ever, ever prepared or even liked beans, this was a culinary event. So what was the motivation after all these years to finally consume some legumes? Back in December we visited a place called Gloria’s Café in Los Angeles, a Salvadoran restaurant with terrific food. At said eatery we were served refried beans, and they were terrific. For some reason that experience came to the forefront of my foodie brain this week and I bought a can of Goya’s Rancheros Refried Pinto Beans to make some bean, rice, and cheese burritos. The “Ranchero” refers to the beans being cooked with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and spices, and even on their own, they were quite tasty. Wrapped in a flour tortilla with rice and cheese, they were even better.
The main reason for my not liking beans is their texture – I just don’t enjoy those semi-firm, slippery little buggers. But frijoles refritos are very mushy, so that helps explain why I can tolerate – nay, like – that varietal of bean. And it only took me, well, 40-ish years to figure it out.
Oh, you want the recipe for the burrito? Sure – ok, it’s pretty complex. Take a large flour tortilla. Cook some rice. Heat the beans until hot. Spread the beans on the tortilla. Scoop some rice on the tortilla. Crumble cheese on the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla. Eat. Enjoy!
We’ve espoused enough about our love for Thai food on this blog, so I’ll save the back story and get straight into the food. Som tum, the fantastically fresh and spicy papaya salad from Northern Thailand, is something we’ve wanted to make for a while but for some reason never got around to it…until now. We based this recipe on one from www.thaitable.com; as far as the flavors go, it was a complete success. As far as the texture goes, it was not up to our standards. The problem was with the papaya – it’s a very juicy, moist fruit, and if you don’t get that moisture out of there, it turns very soggy; sweet and delicious, but soggy. That was the failing of the dish – somehow we will extract the moisture better next time. But the sweet tomatoes, the crunchy bean sprouts, the hot and spicy chili peppers, the salty fish sauce (which can be substituted with soy sauce to go vegetarian), the tangy lime juice, and the cilantro and peanuts create a vibrant ménage of flavors that is very refreshing. You can certainly remove the seeds and veins from the peppers if you don’t like it spicy, but it’s the spiciness that really brings the dish together (otherwise it’s a lot of just sweet and salty). We even used spicy peanuts, but we are kind of insane about spicy food. We used Fresno chili peppers – if you can find Thai chilis that would be ideal, but serranos would work just as well (get an extra one or two though since they are small). We served this with a quick and delicious Thai omelet (traditional Thai street food made with fish sauce and black pepper in the eggs, with cilantro and Sriracha on top – really tasty!). It was like Bangkok in our kitchen; almost as humid too, but with no underage prostitutes…that we know of. Enjoy!
Som Tum (Thai Papaya Salad)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup bean sprouts
2 red chili peppers, stemmed and chopped
1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 cups shredded green papaya
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
Combine the garlic, tomatoes, chili peppers, and bean sprouts in a large bowl; add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Add the papaya and mix well. Add the scallions and 1 tbsp. of the peanuts; stir to combine. Top the salad with the remaining peanuts and the cilantro. Eat!
We recently came across two recipes featuring a vegetable as the main ingredient that we had never prepared before – endive. You’ve seen it – it’s sort of like a lettuce, but it’s firm and smooth and traditionally used in salads. The first recipe, is just that – a salad featuring endive, but with apples, tomatoes, and tangy cheese to bring it all together. The second recipe, from the Hannaford Supermarket magazine, takes endive off the salad plate and into the oven, baking it with lemon and spices, creating a terrific side dish for meats or even just served with crusty bread. Enjoy!
Endive Salad with Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette
4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups mixed greens
1 red apple, cored and diced
3 oz. walnuts
3 oz. blue cheese
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
In a small saucepan, mix together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and warm over med-low heat. Arrange the endive and mixed greens on 4 plates. Top with apples, walnuts, cheese, and tomatoes. Drizzle warmed dressing over the salads. Eat!
Belgian Endive Gratin
8 each Belgian endive
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. chives
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim endives: remove any discolored parts, rinse, and slice each endive in half lengthwise. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add salt and nutmeg, then endives. Brown pieces quickly, turning once or twice, about 3 minutes per side. Add broth and lemon juice, cover pan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes. While endives simmer, chop chives and set aside. Spray a gratin pan or an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Pour enough of the cooking liquid to cover the bottom of the pan (about 1/2 cup), and then transfer endives to the pan.Sprinkle raisins between the endives, then sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover dish with foil, bake for 4 minutes, then uncover and bake another 4 minutes, until cheese has melted. Transfer endives to a serving platter and sprinkle chives over the top. Serve hot.
Another heat wave is set to bake the Northeast this weekend, and here’s what we’ll be making for dinner. Nothing cuts through that summer heat like a fresh, flavorful salad. Grilled peaches are a marvelous thing – their sweetness becomes enhanced by the warmth from the grill, slightly caramelizing the sides of the peach wedges. This salad, from Working Mother Magazine, utilizes the grilled peach slices to balance the peppery arugula, and the creamy goat cheese binds it all together. The addition of the brown sugar on the peaches helps with the caramelization – make sure you use ripe peaches, but not so ripe that they are soft. They need some firmness to maintain their integrity on the grill. And if you have some extra peaches, grill them and save them for dessert – top vanilla ice cream with them and your tongue will thank you. Enjoy!
Peach, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 firm, ripe peaches 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar 2 bunches arugula (about 2 cups), tough stems removed 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring ½ cup of the vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Cut peaches in half lengthwise; remove and discard the pits. Cut each half into 6 wedges. Place in a shallow dish, sprinkle with brown sugar, and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Brush and oil the grill grate or a vegetable-grilling basket. Arrange peaches on the grate or in the basket directly over medium-high heat. Grill, turning once, until grill marks appear, about 1 minute per side. In a large serving bowl, combine arugula and oil; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange peaches on top and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Top with cheese to serve. Eat!
It has been 4 long months since the MHK went on an involuntary hiatus of sorts; I won’t bore you with the details…so that’s the end of that sentence. But we are back in full force to bring you recipes, reviews, and other tasty posts to satisfy your online foodie needs. But the good news is that even without any new posts, this little blog continued to generate hits – in fact, we surpassed 100,000 hits a few days ago! Thanks so much to everyone for stumbling across the MHK while drunk at 3am…or so I assume. But now it’s back to business, so let’s get cooking!
A heat wave is hitting the Northeast tomorrow, but luckily we have the perfect recipe to keep your kitchen cool and your taste buds happy. From Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, this soup combines my favorite of flavor juxtapositions – sweet and spicy. The sweet combination of raspberries, bananas, and orange juice is offset by the hot jalapenos in a very delicious way. Some may prefer a smoother soup – in that case, blend the jalapenos with the rest of the ingredients and then strain it. We served this with grilled corn on the cob for a fresh and colorful meal – perfect for summer! Enjoy.
Chilled Raspberry-Chile Soup
4 cups fresh raspberries 4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut up 1 cup fresh orange juice 1 (6 -oz) carton plain low-fat yogurt 2 tablespoons honey 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, minced Whole or sliced fresh raspberries (optional) Sliced fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers (optional)
In a blender combine the 4 cups raspberries, bananas, orange juice, yogurt, and syrup. Cover and blend until smooth. Stir in minced jalapeno peppers, then refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve the soup in small bowls. Garnish with raspberries and sliced chiles, if desired. Eat!
Ok, call off the dogs – we’re still here. Sorry for the huge lapse in posting – to be honest, we hadn’t tried any new recipes or any new restaurants for a while anyway, so you really haven’t missed much. But we now have a few new recipes to share, along with a review of a local eatery. And there was much rejoicing. So today’s recipe stems from a redesign of a Hannaford supermarket magazine recipe. Their dish contained okra, which we have never really cooked in the MHK, so I was looking forward to giving it a shot. But apparently – and maybe it was just me, I don’t know – okra goes bad in four days. I had it in a plastic bag in the fridge and when I pulled it out, it had white gunk (technical foodie term) all over it. Disappointment set in, but we rebounded magnificently. The original dish seemed Indian in nature, but without any typical Indian spice. Years ago in California, we had eaten an egg curry dish at an Indian place, so we decided to substitute eggs for the okra, and added some garam masala (very typical Indian spice blend). The result was terrific. The flavors of the onion, garlic, and hot peppers soak into the tomatoes and broth, and the eggs provide a nice texture (plus they soak up the bright flavors too). Serve this over rice with some naan too. Enjoy!
Spicy Tomatoes with Egg
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small onion, minced 1 medium red Fresno or jalapeno chili, seeded and minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 each (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth 1/4 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1/2 tsp. garam masala 4 eggs, beaten 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion, peppers, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, broth, sugar, salt, and cayenne. Stir well. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the eggs in a separate pan until just cooked through. Place eggs into the saucepan, stir to combine and cook for one minute. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro. Serve over rice. Eat!
After our recent post about a recipe from the Sriracha Cookbook, the book’s author Randy Clemens commented on that post. I love this internet thing. Anyway, on to today’s recipe which we adapted from – guess what – the Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens! It’s another soup; this time a spicy take on corn chowder that’s full of flavor, with some delightful heat. The onions, bell peppers and Sriracha give it a robust orange-red color, and the roasted corn kernels really enhance the dish. The amount of cream is fairly small, so it’s not a heavy soup at all. You can of course adjust the amount of Sriracha – the amount listed here makes it quite spicy, but not lip-burning spicy. It’s perfect for these cold weather nights. Enjoy!
Fire Roasted Corn Chowder
3 ears fresh sweet corn, husked 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced 1/2 red onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 cups vegetable stock 1/4 cup Sriracha 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 bay leaf 1/2 cup heavy cream Smoked paprika, for garnish Torn leaves of fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Roast 2 ears of corn over a direct flame (on a preheated grill or over a gas burner) until the corn kernels begin to blacken, turning every few minutes until all sides have roasted. After the roasted ears have cooled, scrape the kernels from the cobs, and reserve. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bell peppers and onions and cook until softened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape the corn kernels from the remaining ear of corn. Add the raw corn kernels and garlic, and cook until the garlic is aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock, Sriracha, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before the soup is finished, gently heat the cream over low heat, keeping it just below a simmer. Once the soup has cooked for 30 minutes, discard the thyme and bay leaf. Puree the soup using an immersion blender. (A food processor or blender can be utilized with caution, pureeing the hot liquid in small batches.) Mix in the warm cream and add the reserved roasted corn. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until thoroughly heated. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika, and torn cilantro or parsley leaves. Eat!