Category Archives: Adventure in the kitchen

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

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As a friend once said, “I love enchiladas, they’re like delicious food already partly digested.” (or something like that). These chicken mole enchiladas pack a real wallop of flavor and have a wonderful saucy texture. The spiciness of the sauce and the creaminess of the chicken filling all with the brightness of a squeeze of lime juice is really divine!

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The sauce is really what makes these enchiladas special. Mole is a red sauce with dark chocolate in it. I know, it sounds a little weird, but the dark chocolate really helps to mellow out the sauce and complements the smokiness of the chipotle peppers really nicely.

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The chicken filling is really easy to make, which is nice since the sauce is the real star and a bit time intensive. If you wanted to have this as a weeknight meal you could make all of the component parts ahead of time and then simply assemble and bake when you are ready for dinner!

Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Adapted from Kirsten’s Home Cooking

Ingredients
For the enchiladas:
6-10 flour or corn tortillas (taco size)
4 bone-in skin-on chicken thigh, cooked and shredded
3/4 c light sour cream
one bunch green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
3 c grated cheddar, divided (1 cup and 2 cups)
Salt and Pepper

For the Mole Sauce:
The fat rendered from cooking 2 slices bacon (or equivalent amount cooking oil)
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce
2 TBS adobo sauce
4 cloves garlic
1/4 c warm water
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes, with juices
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c dark chocolate, chopped finely
Salt and pepper

Method
Directions for Mole Sauce:
Saute onion, carrot and celery in bacon fat (or substitute) until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Once vegetables have softened place them in a blender with the peppers, adobo sauce, tomatoes, garlic and water. Puree until smooth.

Return mixture to saucepan and add chicken broth. Simmer on high heat for 20-30 minutes until sauce has reduced and thickened. Stir in chocolate until melted. Salt and pepper to taste, keep sauce warm.

Directions for Enchiladas:
Mix chicken, sour cream, green onions and 1 cup cheese in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Make sure that the chicken forms a nice solid mixture; tweak amount of sour cream as necessary.

Lay out tortillas, fill with chicken mixture.

Roll tightly and lay seam side down in a glass or metal 13×9 baking dish that has a thin layer of mole sauce already spread on the bottom (to prevent sticking and burning).

Cover with remaining sauce.

Top with remaining 2 cups cheese, more if you feel it’s necessary.

Bake at 325 for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Serve with rice and beans with lime wedges and additional sour cream on the side!

Seared Ahi Sushi!

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Do you like sushi? I don’t! My problem is that I have an aversion to the nori (seaweed) that is wrapped on the outside, I really don’t like the way it smells or tastes. That being said, I LOVE seared tuna. In order to combine the two a friend (soon to be introduced on this blog) and I embarked on an adventure to make seared ahi tuna rolls. Mine were made without seaweed and his were the traditional roll, but both were amazing!

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The reason for searing the tuna (at least in our case) was that we had bought it a few days before and frozen it, meaning it was no longer safe to eat raw. We first marinated it and then seared it for 2 minutes on each side. We had a single 1/3 lb tuna steak that was more than enough for the 2 of us, so although sushi and sashimi grade tuna can be expensive when bought by the pound it is relatively reasonable for a few servings.

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You could use almost any crunchy green veggie in these rolls. We used celery, but green beans or cucumber would have also worked well. The marinade was really simple and even letting the tuna marinate for only an hour gave it so much flavor! Searing is a quick process, so make sure to do it well. Have the pan really hot with just a little bit of oil in the bottom.

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Seared Ahi Roll

Ingredients

1/3 lb tuna steak
1 batch marinade (see recipe below)
1 cup uncooked sushi rice, cooked per package instructions
2 ribs celery, cut in 1/2 the long way
3 sheets nori (sushi-rolling seaweed)
drizzle of vegetable oil
small dish of water for sealing the rolls
soy sauce and wasabi paste for dipping

Special equipment: bamboo rolling mat

Marinate tuna tightly covered in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Sear tuna in a hot pan with a drizzle of vegetable oil to keep it from sticking, approximately 2 minutes each side. Have all components ready to go when you put the tuna in the pan so that you can assemble everything while the tuna is still hot. When the tuna is done, cut it into 4 lengthwise strips, and then cut each of those strips lengthwise again so that they look like the slices in the top photo. Lay 1 sheet of seaweed onto the mat and spread 1/3 of the cooked rice all over the sheet except for a 1-inch border at the top. Lay 2 slices of tuna and 1 piece of celery lengthwise along the bottom of the rice. Using your finger, dab water along the top border and then roll the sushi shut, using the wet seaweed edge as a seal. Repeat for the next 2 sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into bite-size pieces. Put soy sauce and whatever amount of wasabi you like into a small dish, dip, and enjoy!

Tuna Marinade
for a 1/3 lb tuna steak
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 TBSP canola/vegetable oil
1 TBSP soy sauce
1/2 TBSP of diced pickled ginger (or grated fresh, if you have it)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 green onion (scallion) thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 lime

Supreming a Grapefruit

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Supreming is a technique used to cut citrus for garnish in a way that removes all of the pith/membrane and leaves only the flesh. Used typically on desserts and salads, it is a pretty but wasteful way to use citrus. However, I decided to practice my knife skills and give supreming a grapefruit a try. Please pardon the poorly lit pictures, it was early and the grapefruit was destined to be my breakfast.

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First you must cut away the skin, removing as much of the white pith along with it. The pith is unsightly on a supremed citrus wedge, but it is also somewhat bitter.

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Next, cut in between each of the segment dividers and remove as much of the flesh while maintaining a perfect wedge shape and not including any membrane. Remove seeds as necessary, but do your best to maintain the wedge shape of the original section. Repeat for the whole grapefruit,, being careful to not accidentally cut two wedges into one.

Chances are slim that I will ever actually need to supreme citrus for garnish (I really don’t cook anything that fancy), but it is nice to know that it is something I am capable of and to be able to demonstrate how relatively easy it is!

Chipotle White Bean Casserole

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This chipotle white bean casserole is a delicious and inexpensive dish that is chock full of color and flavor. The spice of the chipotle helps disguise the kale (for those who are skiddish about leafy greens) and adds a whole other dimension to this already flavorful and textural dish.

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It is a dish with a few components, but the can all be prepared ahead, even the night before, and the use of canned beans instead of dried really speeds up the process. If you make all the components beforehand this can be a forty-five minute meal with very little prep time! Serve with a crunchy green salad and you have an amazing weeknight meal!

Chipotle White Bean Casserole
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients
For the Chipotle-Tomato Sauce
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
2 big pinches of red pepper flakes
2 pinches of salt
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 TBS adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers

For the Cilantro Pesto
1 medium clove of garlic
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
big pinch of salt

1 19oz can white/cannellini beans
1 19oz can garbanzo beans
heaping 2/3 cup chopped and de-stemmed kale or chard
1 1/2 cups cotija or other salty, hard, crumbly cheese (like feta)
1 slice wheat bread, crumbled and dried out in the toaster or regular oven

Method
For the Chipotle-Tomato Sauce:
Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, red pepper flakes, couple pinches of salt, and chopped garlic into a cold medium saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and the oregano and heat to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the adobo sauce. Taste the sauce (careful not to burn yourself!). Adjust seasoning to make it as spicy/smoky/garlicky/etc as you like.

For the Cilantro Pesto:
Combine the clove of garlic and cilantro in a food processor or blender. Pulse while you drizzle in the olive oil (you could also do this by hand in a mortar and pestle). Season with a bit of salt and set aside.

For the Bread Crumbs:
Tear the piece of wheat bread into small pieces and then rub those between your fingers in order to turn it into crumbs. Place on a baking sheet in either a toaster oven or the regular oven, baked at 250 until dry (about 10 minutes).

To assemble and bake:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a 9×13 baking pan (metal or glass) toss the drained beans with the tomato sauce and the kale. Sprinkle with the crumbled cheese and bake in the top-third of the oven for twenty-five to forty minutes, the key is for the cheese to start browning and any visible beans to get crusty (especially at the edges). Remove from oven and let sit for about ten minutes. Top the beans with the breadcrumbs and just before serving drizzle with the cilantro pesto.

Carrot Cake

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This amazing carrot cake recipe will always conjure up some wonderful memories. Carrot cake is my dad’s absolute favorite type of cake and I can remember eating it in our backyard and watching the fireflies on his birthday. It also happens to be the favorite cake of my dear friend Elizabeth (hold the walnuts please), but I secretly think that she’s just in it for the cream cheese frosting. This particular recipe holds significance for me because it comes from one of the sweetest people I know, the wonderful Andria (a co-worker of mine), and whenever I make this recipe I am reminded of my 3 wonderful summers at my old office.

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With all of these wonderful memories tied to carrot cake, it is definitely one of my favorite types of cake as well. When Andria made the cake for the office it was as light as air; when I made the recipe the cake was much denser. Either way, it is an amazing recipe that I knew I had to share with you!

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Best Ever Carrot Cake
courtesy of Andria Cornell

Cake
Ingredients
4 large eggs (at room temperature)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups finely shredded carrots*
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped and toasted pecans/walnuts (optional

*A note about the carrots: You can use either baby carrots or the traditional stick carrots when making this cake. Using baby carrots take longer to grate but they will result in a much sweeter cake. Carrot cake is traditionally made with the large stick carrots, so choose accordingly.

Method
1) Preheat oven to 350° F
2) Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans
3) In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda.
4) In another large bowl, beat together the 4 eggs, carrots, and oil. Make sure that all of the egg yolks get broken and properly incorporated.
5) Pour this wet mixture into the dry flour mixture and gently stir until combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl so that there are no floury sections left in the batter.
6) Split batter evenly between the 2 greased and floured cake pans.
7) Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, checking for doneness every 2 minutes or so beginning at 26 minutes. Carrot cake can go from moist to dry very quickly so you must be very careful. Remove from oven when a toothpick emerges clean from the center of the cake.
8 ) After cooling 10 minutes remove the cakes from pans and allow to cool on a rack until completely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients
1 8oz tub/brick of cream cheese
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 3/4-6 1/4 cups powdered/confectioners sugar

Method
1) Blend together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually add in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, being sure to blend completely after each addition. After adding 5 cups you can add however much more you would like to bring it to spreading consistency and to make it as sugary as you’d like.

Lecso

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Lecso (lecho or IPA: lɛtʃoʊ) is a typical Hungarian dish that consists of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and sausage. We love to have it when my grandmother (a Hungarian) comes to visit because she can get some amazing Hungarian sausage from a butcher near where she lives.

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This is a simple set-it and let-it-cook dish once you’ve done all the chopping, which isn’t really all that much. It has great flavor but isn’t too spicy. Served with boiled potatoes, a slice of seeded rye bread, and a slather of dijon mustard for dipping (if that’s your thing), it makes a wonderfully hearty mid-winter meal. We often make it at family gatherings in the summer too, but I definitely prefer it as a winter dish.

Lecso
a recipe from my grandmother

Ingredients
1 tomato per person (large dice)
2 green peppers per person (large dice)
1/2 large onion per person (large dice)
1-2 Hungarian debreczeni or other mild smoked sausages per person
1 TBS paprika
Salt

Method
Heat some vegetable oil in the bottom of a large stock pot. Saute all the veggies, starting with the onion. Once the onion is sauteed, remove from heat and add the paprika. Turn the heat back on and add the green peppers and some salt (but not as much as you think you’ll need). Cook this on medium-high heat until peppers are soft to a knife pierce and reduced in bulk by about 1/3. Add the tomatoes and more salt (this is the last of it). Cook covered over medium heat until the tomatoes have lost their shape. Add sausage, making sure that they are submerged in the liquid the vegetables have created. Cook for 30 minutes on medium heat, uncovered if you think there is too much liquid (there usually is). The final consistency should have some broth but not be too soupy.

Serve with boiled potatoes and rye bread!

Cuban Bread

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Strapped for time but still want to make some great bread? This recipe is perfect because it has no rise time! It makes two cute little boules that can be served with just about anything, we dipped it in the Parmesan Pesto Fondue and it was absolutely perfect.

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Although this version of the recipe uses a standing mixer it can absolutely be done by hand and still be a simple and quick recipe. This bread was baked by the amazing Sharon Terry, I don’t think there is anything this woman can’t do.

Cuban Bread
Adapted from a Bernard Clayton recipe

Ingredients
5-6 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups hot water
2 TBS yeast
2 TBS sugar
2 tsp salt

Method
Put the hot water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the ingredients on a low speed. Add in sugar, salt, and about little bit of flour (less than 1 cup). When barely mixed, switch to the paddle attachment. Keep beating on medium/low while adding more flour (about 2 cups in all) or until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes. Add more flour as necessary so that the dough stays on the dough hook, approximately 5-6 cups of flour total. After 10 minutes have passed, ease the dough off the hook and let it rest in the mixing bowl for 5 minutes.

Shape the dough into 2 equal boules and cross slash them. Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet and place them in a cold oven set to 400°F. Bake for 45 minutes or until the boules sound hollow when tapped.