Tarragon, Mushroom, and Leek Tart

Tarragon, Mushroom, and Leek Tart

 

It’s starting to cool down a bit here, not enormously, but in the evenings there is a slight chill in the air;  for me, that means that I can start using the oven more often, and I love it!

I have an obsession with all the ingredients of this tart, but the most recent one is tarragon.  I had never tried it before a couple of years ago, it really isn’t an ingredient readily available in Miami or the Bahamas.  After moving to Spain I started noticing it in the market, and wondered if it tasted as good as it smelled.  I think it is a definite acquired taste, but I liked it more and more every time.

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This is a very simple tart to make, but just because its simple doesn’t mean it isn’t elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.  I love these types of meals, unfussy, rustic and über delicious.  Perfect to serve as a starter, or as a main with a simple lamb’s lettuce salad.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

For the shell:

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares

1 1/2 tbsp lard

2 – 3 tbsp ice water

 

For the filling:

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced (cremini or white)

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

3/4 cup tarragon, chopped

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup Gruyère or comte cheese, grated

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 425F (220C).  In a medium bowl place the flour and salt, mix well.  Add the butter and lard, and with your hands or a pastry cutter, mix until all the fats are incorporated.  Add the water, one tbsp at a time, and mix with your hands to form a ball, and just until the dough sticks together.  Add more water if needed (but I only used 2 tbsp).  Wrap in plastic film, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough on a clean and floured surface.  Roll out to about 1/8 thick, and place in tart mold, trimming the edges.  Cover with aluminum foil and put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Remove from freezer, and add pie weights or beans, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium low heat.  Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, thyme and salt.  Raise the heat to high and cook until the mushrooms have let out their liquids and it has evaporated.  Add the tarragon cook for another minute, then take off heat.  Let cool.

In a medium bowl, add the eggs, cream, cheese, black pepper and nutmeg.  Mix well.  Add the cooled mushroom mixture.

When your tart has finished pre-baking, lower the oven to 375F (190C).  Place the mushroom mix in the tart shell, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.  Let cool 20 minutes before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Asparagus and Red Pepper Quiche

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Spring has definitely sprung, and as the days grow warmer in Madrid, it’s time to eat lighter and take advantage of nature’s bounty.  Asparagus is something that I look forward to every year, especially since my daughter absolutely loves them.  Yet I find that I seem to prepare them in the same ways, lightly sautéed either with eggs, parmesan or just a simple vinaigrette.

This year, I was going through a book that I have not opened in a long time.  My copy of Michel Roux’s “Pastry; Sweet and Savoury” has been sitting on my shelf for years.  I always leaf through it, and promise myself that I will try some of the recipes, yet I think I have only made one before.

I remember I bought the tart pan for this recipe specifically a couple of years ago, because the picture in the book struck me for its beauty.  I was a bit wary though, because the many times I had read the recipe, it seemed quite complicated.  I wasn’t wrong.  But what I didn’t realize, was how wonderful and delicious it is.  So yes, it is time-consuming, but I think if you tackle it bit by bit then it will become infinitely easier.  It isn’t hard, just laborious.

The result is a Quiche so elegant, so refined and bursting with spring flavors.  I hope you will try it too.  Oh, and the pastry is to die for.  ‘Nuff said.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Michel Roux’s  Pastry; Sweet and Savoury

1 recipe short crust dough (follows)

40-45 medium asparagus stalks

salt and freshly ground pepper

5 red peppers, semi-confit (recipe follows) 600g total weight before confit

1 egg

1 egg yolk

200ml whipping cream

pinch of nutmeg

6 dill sprigs

Roll out the dough to 3mm and cover the elongated tart pan.  Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190C, poke the dough in the tart pan and cover it with parchment and pie weights (or dried beans if you don’t have pie weights).  Bake for 20 minutes.   Lower the heat to 170C, remove pie weights and parchment and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and proceed with the filling.

Trim asparagus to 10cm to fit the tart pan ( do use a ruler).  Reserve bottom stalks for soups or frittata.  Steam until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

Chop the already confit peppers, and set on a paper towel to drain off all the oil.  Place evenly on the baked tart pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the egg and the yolk with the cream, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Pour 3/4 of the cream mix onto the peppers.  Carefully place the asparagus, 2 by 2 horizontally facing opposite sides in your tart pan.  Spoon the rest of the cream mixture on top.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.  Take out of the oven and place over a rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding.

With a spatula, lift the Quiche on to a plate.  Place the dill springs on top, and serve warm.  You can accompany it with a side salad for a perfect spring meal.

SHORT CRUST DOUGH RECIPE:

250g flour

150g cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp cold milk

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients.  With your fingertips, start mixing all the ingredients until it resembles wet sand.  Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to a week.  You can also freeze it for up to 3  months.

CONFIT RED PEPPERS RECIPE:

600g red peppers (if not for this recipe, you can use whatever color you want, or a mix)

600ml of olive oil

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 rosemary sprig

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 tsp black or white peppercorns

Roast the peppers, in the broiler or on a grill.  Char the skin all over, then place in a plastic bag for 15 minutes to cool and sweat.  Remove skin and seeds.

Heat oil in a small stock pot to 70C (very very low heat).  Add all the ingredients plus the peppers and cook for 30 minutes.  Let cool, and if not using immediately, place the oil with all the ingredients in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are going to use them.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Parmigiana di Melanzane – Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

 

I adore eggplant.  I love it’s versatility, it’s meatiness, the way it soaks up the surrounding flavors.  I love that you can even make desserts with eggplant! (Just ask the Sicilians).  Parmigiana has been a staple in my household for years.  When I was vegetarian, I used to prepare this all the time.  And, lucky for me, my sweetie Paolo, makes an amazing parmigiana.  Unfortunately, he is in Madrid, so I had to make this myself.

My daughter, also, absolutely adored this.  I didn’t tell her what was inside.  When she asked what was for dinner and I said Melanzane alla Parmigiana, she just nodded and life was ok for her.  Italian food is her passion.  I should probably start translating all of my dishes in Italian so she’ll eat them.  The best bit was when she tried the first bite and told me it was delicious.  Score!  Another veggie consumed happily by the picky teen!

Parmigiana can be served as a main meal, or as an appetizer.  But I like to eat it as a main, since every bite is amazing.  Oh, and this recipe I changed up a bit, to make it a little more heart and calorie friendly.  Instead of frying the eggplant, I baked them in the oven.   Let me tell you, I think I am going to make it like this all the time.  The flavors of the tomato sauce and the eggplant really came out, instead of the heaviness of the oil.  But hey, if you ain’t watchin’ your weight, go ahead and fry!

It is a very simple dish to prepare.  It has a few steps, but once that is done, you can just sit back and wait until it comes out of the oven.  And it’s even better the day after!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4 (as a meal) or 8 (appetizer)

2 medium eggplants, sliced and sprinkled with salt, and place in a colander for about 1 hour, then rinsed.

1 tbsp olive oil, more for tray and eggplants.

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 small cans diced tomatoes, if you can, use italian tomatoes.  You WILL notice the difference.

2 fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).   On a large baking tray, place a layer of aluminum, and paint with a layer of olive oil.  Place all the eggplant slices on the tray, and then paint them with another layer of oil.

photo (99)

 

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until starting to brown.  Take out of the oven and lower the heat to 400F (200C).

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium low heat, add the tbsp of olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until translucent and softened, about 6-8 minutes.   Add the two cans of tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes.

In a small baking dish, add a scant layer of tomato sauce.  Top with the slices of eggplant, then mozzarella, and finally the parmesan cheese.

photo 101

 

Repeat, adding, in order, tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella and parmesan until you have no more.  The last layer should be the mozzarella and parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes.   Uncover and continue to bake until the cheese is golden brown and most of the water from the tomatoes has evaporated.    Take out of the oven and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

photo 103

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipe No.19 – New England Clam Chowder

 

I had high hopes for this recipe.  Being one of my favorite chowders and all.  (Ok, my super-duper favorite is Conch Chowder, but conch is hard to come by here.)  Paolo chose this recipe, he was really excited, loving clams, loving New England.  He also had never tried this and was super intrigued.   Alas, I have to say it was a total disaster.

As I mentioned in my first Saveur Magazine post,  I am going to prepare the recipes exactly as it states in the magazine.  I’ve prepared this dish from another recipe of mine and it has been a complete success.  I have eaten this dish a gazillion times too.  The problem that I found with this recipe, is that it was extremely watery.  A little red flag started waving wildly as I read the recipe calling for 6 cups of water to 2 cups cream.  And no thickener.  And, I would highly advise to place the clams in water to rid them of the sand, because I was straining and straining and straining.  But, anyhoo, I proceeded to recreate it in complete trust and experimental nature.

Needless to say, my two co-judges were not pleased at all.  Another recipe bust, another lunch that we ended up eating mainly bread and the sautéed porcini I had made as a side.  But, tastewise it was delicious.

So, without further ado, the rankings:

Overall points:  4.6/10

Difficulty:  Medium, as it has numerous steps and a wee bit time-consuming

Availability of ingredients:  Easy, if you can’t find fresh clams, frozen will do in a cinch.

10 lb clams in the shell, preferably cherrystone, scrubbed

4 oz. thick-cut bacon, finely chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves

2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 lb. new potatoes, cut into 1/4″ cubes

2 cups heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Oyster crackers and hot sauce for serving

1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan over high heat.  Add clams, and cover pan;  cook until clams are steamed open, about 10 minutes (discard any that do not open).  Remove from heat, and let cool.  Remove clam meat from shells, and roughly chop;  set aside.  Pour cooking liquid from pan though a fine strainer into another bowl (you should have about 6 cups; if not, add enough water to make 6 cups); set aside.

2.  Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until its fat renders and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.  Add butter, thyme, onions, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add reserved cooking liquid and potatoes, and bring to a boil;  reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Add chopped clam meat and cream*; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper;  serve with crackers and hot sauce on the side.  Serves 8.

* I suggest you lower the heat to minimum, if not your cream is going to curdle.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Buckwheat Polenta with Gorgonzola Cream and Toasted Walnuts

 

Buckwheat Polenta

 

The first time I tried Polenta I was 11 years old, my first year in Switzerland.  I remember seeing these enormous vats of polenta, being stirred constantly by a mechanical arm.  To tell you the truth, it really didn’t look very appetizing.  It looked like a big mass of yellow mush.  Then I tried it.  I’ve been hooked since.

I love the versatility of polenta.  It can be eaten soft, or left to harden then baked or fried.  It allows you to top it with an infinite nuber of possibilities, savory or sweet.  Buckwheat Polenta, or as they call it in Italy, Polenta Taragna, is quite different.  It has a saltier and denser quality, and usually it is eaten only with savory, and with a final addition of Bitto cheese.  In Lombaridia, the region where Milano is capital, there is an area called Valtellina.  This is the northern alpine area, and buckwheat is used in many recipes, two of the most famous being this polenta and a type of pasta called Pizzocheri.  They are both some of my favorites, but for my belly it needs to be quite cool to eat this since it is much more filling than normal pasta and polenta varieties.  That said, it is also a heck of a lot more nutritious too!

On my last trip to Lugano, I brought back some of this polenta, and finally the weather cooled down enough for me to make some.  I have a few friends here who are die-hard fans of polenta, so I wanted to introduce this variety to them.  I chose to top it with a creamy gorgonzola sauce, and some toasted walnuts.  If you are so lucky to find some, make sure you get the express variety, which cooks in about 5 minutes.  If not, you will have to stand over the stove and CONTINUOUSLY stir the polenta for 40-50 minutes!  (I haven’t had an arm workout like this in years.)  But, the end result is well worth the exercise, and throughout the process, I was channeling my inner nonna.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

500 g Polenta Taragna (or regular polenta if you can’t find it)

250 g Gorgonzola Dolce Cheese

200 ml cream

Salt, Pepper and Freshly Grated Nutmeg to taste

100g Walnuts, toasted

Cook polenta according to package directions.   In a small saucepan over medium low heat, add the cream and gorgonzola cheese, stirring until it melts.  Take off heat and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Keep warm.

In a small frying pan, toast the walnuts until darkened and fragrant.  Take off heat.

On a plate, heap some polenta on it, then drizzle as much cream sauce as you want ( I like a lot) and top with the toasted walnuts.

It’s that easy and it’s even more delicious!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Shiitake Croquetas

Shiitake Croquetas

 

I LOVE CROQUETAS.  Croquetas are croquettes, usually made with leftover ham, but now a days, you can find them filled with anything your heart desires.  I have had cheese, spinach, pine nuts and raisins, beef, onion, fish…..the list goes on.

I have eaten croquetas since I was a kid, and I think my obsession started because my parents really didn’t buy or make them.  In Miami it is a Cuban thing, and the only time I would get to eat them is when I went to sleep at my Uncle Ernest and Aunt Myra’s house.  We used to have them for breakfast.  Sooooo good.

Now, call me stupid, but I had no idea that croquetas was a Spanish thing.  When I first landed in Spain, and saw that every single restaurant had a croqueta on the menu, I had an “A-ha!” moment.  Croquetas originally are made with left over chicken or pieces of Jamon mixed with a thick béchamel, then coated with breadcrumbs and fried.  The ham ones are still my favorites.  I’m not so sure about the chicken.  I decided to make them with some shiitake, because I had some dried in my fridge, kind of just staring at me every day.

Croquetas are fairly easy to make, but they are laborious and time-consuming.  This is probably something you might want to do on a rainy Sunday, (as I did) and make a lot.  They freeze really well, and as all things, the home-made versions are much better than store-bought, which usually has a very low ham to béchamel ratio, favoring the latter.  And once you get the knack, then the possibilities are endless!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

2 handfuls (sorry, I didn’t measure other than that) dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and strained, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid, then minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely minced

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour, more for dusting

2 cups milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs, beaten

Breadcrumbs, for coating.  In this recipe, I used Panko (Japanese Style Breadcrumbs)

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, shiitake and onion.  Saute until the mushrooms and onions are softened, about 20 minutes.  Make sure all the water from the mushrooms has evaporated too.  Take off heat and set aside.

In a stockpot over low heat, melt the butter and add your flour and mix well, to make a roux.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.  Mix the milk with the cup of soaking liquid, and in a slow stream add to the roux, whisking constantly.  Stir until very thick, about 25 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and mix well.  Spread out on a plate, and let it cool to thicken even more.

Now, on your counter line up the plate with the filling, the bowl with the beaten egg, the bowl with the breadcrumbs, and a baking pan to place them on.  Dust your hands with flour, and grab a bit of the mushroom filling, roll into a ball or a log shape, dip them in the eggs, and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.  Continue to do that in order until all your filling is gone.  If needed wash your hands in between.  If you are not using immediately, you can freeze them in an airtight container for up to a month.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with olive oil, when it is hot but not smoking, fry your croquetas about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Turn over and repeat.  Place on a plate lined with paper to soak the excess oil.  Serve hot.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Cherry Tomato, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart

Cherry Tomato, Roquefort, and Caramelized Onion Tart

 

Last night we had a small gathering at a friend’s house, and since she offered up her wonderful roof top terrace, I wanted to chip in not only by bringing some wine, but making something to take to the party.   But, I also didn’t want to spend too much time cooking, since that is what I do everyday, for my family, and for work.  I do love what I do, but sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything.

Well, this recipe is perfect for those situations, and it works just as well for dinner, or lunch in a pinch.  The prep time is absolutely minimal if you buy some store-bought pizza dough or Pate Brisee.  This leaves you plenty of time to enjoy your friends or family, and all you have to do is serve a salad to go with it, and you have an exquisite, easy meal.  Isn’t that the best?

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 store-bought Pizza or Pate Brisee dough

1 box cherry tomatoes, halved

1 onion, sliced

1 small package blue cheese

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 sprig of thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, add the oil, sugar, thyme leaves, and the sliced onion.  Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is softened and turning golden.  Strain the onions, set aside.

Roll out the dough, and heat the oven according to package directions.  Place the sliced cherry tomatoes randomly over the dough, leaving a 2 inch border on all sides.  Top with the caramelized onions and the blue cheese.  Place on a baking tray in the middle rack of the oven.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until your dough is crisp.  Remove from the oven.  It’s best when eaten warm, not boiling.  And it tastes marvelous cold, too!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

“Spanish” Onion Soup

The first time I ever had French Onion Soup was in 10th grade.  Our French teacher took us on a cultural field trip to a French restaurant, and one of my friends ordered it.   I would not have been so adventurous.  She told me to try it, and as an obliging teenager who only trusts her friends, I did, and it was a taste revelation!  I just couldn’t get enough of the gooey cheese, the crusty bread, and then hidden underneath it, that dark, caramel broth filled to the brim with soft, caramelized onions.  Heaven.

Cut to last night.  I have wanted to make this soup for ages.  But I had to wait until I got some earthenware that I could use in the oven to melt that amazing cheese.  So a couple of months ago I purchased two Le Creuset soup bowls, not only are they functional, they are pretty gorgeous too.  (I love Le Creuset by the way, but this isn’t a post about them.)

Also, as I have mentioned before, I have a gazillion cookbooks, and hardly ever get to use them.  So I adapted the French Onion Soup recipe from my Williams Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook.  But I didn’t want just a French Onion Soup.  I wanted the depth of Spanish ingredients.  First of all, I took the time to make my own stock, but instead of making a plain beef one, I did a Chorizo Stock.  This gave the stock a more golden reddish hue.  And as I caramelized the onions, I added a heaping tablespoon of pimenton, Spanish Paprika, to give it a smokiness that is missing from the delicate French version.  And lastly, I used Jerez, or sherry, instead of the wine.  In the end, I think it was a total success, the new version had levels of flavour, from the warmth of the chorizo and pimenton, and then a unique nuttiness imparted by the Jerez.  I hope you’ll be adventurous and trust me on this and try it at home!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Comfort Food

Ingredients for French Onion Soup


2 tbsp Unsalted Butter

2 1/2 lbs. Onions, yellow, white, red….go crazy!

1 tbsp pimenton or smoky paprika

1 tbsp All purpose flour

1 cup Jerez (Sherry) or dry white wine

Chorizo Stock (recipe follows)

2 tsp minced Fresh thyme

1 Bay leaf

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1 Crusty baguette

2 2/3cups shredded Gruyère Cheese

For the stock:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 lb marrow and beef bones

1 spanish chorizo sausage

2 celery ribs, including leaves, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 leek, sliced

1 swede or rutabaga, chopped

2 tsp salt

1 bay leaf

1 large sprig of thyme

Water

In a large stockpot, add the beef marrow bones and the chorizo and cook over med-high heat, for about ten minutes or the chorizo starts to lose some fat and color the oil.  Add all the veggies, salt, bay leaf and thyme.  Stir to coat and cook about 5 more minutes.  Add the water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer vigorously for 30 minutes.  Switch off the heat, cover and let steep for a good 2 hours.

 

To make the soup, in a large heavy bottomed stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions, stir well, cover, and cook for 5  minutes.  Uncover, add the paprika, and reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Onions

caramelized onionsSprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until combined.  Gradually stir in the wine, then the stock, and finally the thyme and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer, uncovered, until slightly reduced, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Discard bay leaf.

Spanish onion soup

 

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.  Have ready eight 1 1/2 cup broilerproof soup crocks.  Cut the baguette into 16 slices, sizing them so that 2 slices will fit inside each crock.  Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, until lightly toasted on both sides, about 1 minute total.  Set the slices aside.  Position the oven rack about 12 inches from the heat source, and leave the broiler on.

Ladle the hot soup into the crocks.  Place 2 toasted bread slices, overlapping if necessary, on top of the soup and sprinkle each crock evenly with about 1/3 cup of the Gruyère.  Broil until the cheese is bubbling, about 2 minutes.  Serve at once.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes with Three Chile Sauce

Fried Green TomatoesThe other night I made enchiladas.  And unfortunately I don’t have a picture of them, otherwise I would have obviously shared the recipe with you.  But, I will share the chile sauce recipe, because you can use this on any type of enchiladas you wish.  I made them with chicken, onions and cheese.  If you have a hankering for a vegetarian version, well, go ahead and use this sauce to coat them.  It is spectacular.  That’s why I chose to top the tomatoes with the sauce too, and I plan to use this sauce as a base for other things too, or maybe just as a flavor enhancer.  The deep rich smokiness elevates a lentil soup, perhaps, to plain ole good for you, to hell yeah! for your taste buds.

Fried green tomatoes are super simple.  But I thought I would include this recipe, so you could have the sauce too!  So, you craving huevos rancheros?  Add this sauce to them.  Maybe some nachos?  Bring this out as a dip.  Or maybe you want to make a butternut squash soup.  Well, this sauce will lend the perfect balance to the sweetness of the squash… endless possibilities, one sauce!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 large green tomato

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup olive oil

Maldon Sea Salt

For the sauce:

3 guajillo peppers

2 ancho peppers

3 new mexico peppers

1 cup soaking liquid

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp achiote powder

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 small can diced tomatoes

3 tsp brown sugar

4 tsp cumin powder (if you don’t like cumin as much as I do, add less.  But trust me on this!)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 dash ground chipotle

1 bay leaf

Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

To make the sauce:

On a comal, or griddle set to medium high heat, toast the dried peppers on both sides, about 1 minute per side, until fragrant.  Don’t let them burn, if they do, chuck them out because they will just become bitter.  Slice the toasted chiles, and remove seeds and veins.  Then place in 3 cups boiling water, and soak for about 20-30 minutes, or until tender.  Strain them, and reserve one cup of the soaking liquid.  Puree the chiles with the soaking liquid and reserve.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onions and achiote powder.  Saute for about 7 minutes or until the onions are softened.  Add the minced garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Add the pureed chiles, and lower the heat to medium and let cook for about 15 minutes, or until thickened slightly.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Reserve the sauce for whatever you need.  Will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

For the tomatoes:

Slice the tomato in 1 inch thick slices.  Arrange the slices on a paper towel and let the water from the tomato be soaked up.  Beat the egg in a small bowl, and add the cornmeal on a plate.

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat.  When it is very hot, dip the tomato in the egg, then coat both sides with the cornmeal and fry for about 2-3 minutes per side.  Drain on a fresh piece of paper towel.

When they are all done, arrange on a platter, sprinkle with sea salt and dollops of the chile sauce.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Chutney

Scallops and Cilantro Chutney

The first weekend we were in Florida, we drove up to Sanibel Island to visit my aunt and uncle who live in Ft. Myers.  They have a wonderful friend who rented out her beautiful house to us for 4 incredible days.  It was absolute heaven.  Sanibel is a small island off the coast of Florida, and it’s main draws are shelling on its pristine beaches, biking, swimming……RELAXING.

Shelling beach, Sanibel Island

Check out the amount of shells!

It was wonderful.  We spent most of our days doing Dolce far Niente, which in Italian means the sweet art of doing nothing.  The house was perfect, 4 bedrooms, large living room, but the best part was the large screened in patio, where we ate ALL of our meals.  Everyday we came up with delicious food that we all enjoyed making together, family style.  It was pure heaven I assure you.

One of those days, my mother made a specific request that she wanted lobster tails.  But the ones that we were able to purchase were quite small, so we got the lobster, but I also decided on Scallops, which is something I hardly ever get to make in Spain.  And the best part was being able to prepare it with the wonderful ingredients that are native to South Florida, and some little cheats that my family had brought over, such as this amazing cilantro chutney.

This dish has an overall ease that is hard to beat.  Scallops cook quite quickly and are delicious on their own.  With the addition of the cilantro chutney, well it was just sublime!  I placed it over some julienned zucchini, just because we had that on hand, and over a bed of spinach, so we could get some heart healthy vitamins in!

Made in a flash, and eaten almost faster, it’s a dish you will love, I promise!

Seared Scallops with Cilantro Chutney

Serves 5

1 lb medium scallops

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp butter

Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 small container of store-bought cilantro chutney

1 zucchini, julienned

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bunch of fresh spinach leaves, washed and stemmed

On a small plate, place the spinach leaves and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and decorate the plate with a few drops of the cilantro chutney if you want.  If you don’t, just plop it on top of the spinach and you’re good to go!

In a small frying pan, add a teeny drizzle of olive oil, and heat to high.  Add the julienned zucchini, garlic and sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Keep warm.

In a large frying pan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and tsp of butter.  Heat on high until smoking.  When you make scallops, the pan has to be extremely hot, if not they won’t sear and they’ll let out this gummy liquid that isn’t pleasant.  When the pan is super hot, add your scallops, and sauté on one side for about 1 minute, then turn to sear on the other side, one more minute.  Add the lime juice, salt and pepper, and sauté another minute or so.

On your plate, place a small bit of the warm zucchini, and top with 4 or 5 of the scallops.  Drizzle a little of the cilantro chutney.

Your taste buds will thank you!

From my (Sanibel) kitchen to yours,

Carla