Friday, July 30, 2010

Smoky Black Bean and Corn Salsa

One of Doug and my favorite things to do in the middle of summer is to harvest a lot of the peppers and tomatoes from our garden, along with other veggies we pick up from the farmer's market, and make a giant batch of fresh salsa, which we can for the winter. There's nothing better than garden fresh salsa in the middle of winter...tastes like pure sunshine.

So we decided to make a fresh tomato salsa a couple weeks ago and when we went to the cupboard to see how many canning jars we had available, we discovered we had never eaten any of the tomato salsa we put away last year... oops! But we still wanted to make salsa, so we came up with this recipe...which is so good we have already gone through 6 of the 12 pints we canned! We will definitely be making more. It is smoky and spicy, but not too hot and just screams freshness.

A word about canning. Canning isn't terribly difficult, but can be intimidating. If you don't want to bother with canning, just partition this salsa among some heavy duty freezer bags and it will keep beautifully in the freezer for months. I guarantee, it wont last long once you taste the smoky goodness.

Smoky Black Bean and Corn Salsa
(makes 12 pints)
1 lb dried black Beans10 large red tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes could be good here too)
6 large tomatillos, paper husks removed
6 large pasilla peppers (can substitute poblano peppers)
2 large red peppers
4 large green jalapeno peppers
6 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 large red onions
3 limes
6 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 Tbsp ground white pepper
1 large bunch parsley, chopped1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste

Mesquite wood chips

Place the dried black beans in a large pot and cover with boiling water by 2-3 inches. Let the beans steep in this water for 1 hour. After one hour, replace water with fresh cold water (covering beans with 3 inches) and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to keep beans at a simmer, cover pot with a lid and cook for 1-2 hours until beans are tender but slightly firm (al dente). Drain beans and set aside.
Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer directions (we use a charcoal smoker) and soak mesquite wood chips in water. When coals are hot, add some mesquite chips to the coals and you are ready to smoke (you will have to add more wood chips from time to time).

Husk the corn and place on smoker being careful not to crowd vegetables so smoke can penetrate! If there is room (our smoker has an upper and lower tray), place tomatoes, tomatillos, red peppers, pasilla (or poblano)peppers, and jalapeno peppers onto smoking racks, cover and smoke for 1 hour until corn is golden and skins on tomatoes begin to split (tomatillos won't split). This will likely have to be done in two or three sessions so as not to crowd the vegetables. That's the beauty of a smoker: you put your food in, then sit back and watch things smoke while you enjoy a nice cold beer. After an hour remove vegetables to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature (or refrigerate overnight).
Remove skins from tomatoes (they will just peel off easily), and chop coarsely reserving all the tomato juice. Place chopped tomatoes in a large stock pot. Slice jalapeno, pasilla and red peppers in half and discard seeds, coarsely chop and add to stock pot. Carefully cut smoked corn off the cob and add to pot. Cut smoked tomatillos into large chunks and puree in food processor, then add puree to pot. Finely chop 2 red onions and add to pot. Mince garlic, and add to pot. Add juice of three limes, cumin. chipotle powder and white pepper to pot. Add reserved black beans, chopped parsley and cilantro, and stir to mix all ingredients well. Season with salt.
At this point, if you are freezing the salsa or eating it fresh, you are done. If you are canning the salsa, you need to sterilize your jars and bring a very large pot of water to a boil. For canning, the salsa must be hot when added to the sterilized jars, but you don't want to cook it into mush, so with frequent stirring heat the salsa just until it begins to simmer. DO NOT BOIL! Add heated salsa to sterilized jars, seal lids, and immerse in boiling water 10 minutes. Canned salsa will keep several years at room temperature.
Serve salsa with tortilla chips. This salsa is also a great base for a southwestern pasta sauce (1 pint salsa heated to a simmer in a skillet, add 1 cup heavy cream, adjust seasonings (add extra salt and some chiptole powder) then toss with freshly boiled penne and serve with fresh grated parmesan.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mushroom Risotto with Gorgonzola and Fried Sage

Jesus... what a day. I was busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. I taught from 8:00am until 12:45pm (which means I left the house at 6:45 am) and as many of you know I am not, I repeat NOT a morning person, so I was not looking forward to lecturing on atomic theory and the first and second laws of thermodynamics this morning. Then after class I had a bunch of unpleasant chores to do and I had to meet up with my daughter Emma to get an oil change on her car (which was not unpleasant at all).
Anyway, after the tedium of my afternoon was over, Emma and I went to the Teeter to search for inspiration for dinner. We found a delicious three cheese semolina bread in he bakery and were reminded that we saw Giada DeLaurentis make a mushroom and gorgonzola risotto on the Cooking Channel. Now let me set the record straight... I think Giada has some great recipes, but I just don't understand how she can be so, so... thin. I like her culinary ideas, but how good can her food be if she (allegedly) trots to the ladies room to toss it up 15 minutes later. I mean really.
ANYWAY... we decide to make our own Mushroom and Gorgonzola Risotto for dinner, Giada be damned! The following recipe is the result!

If you are looking for something light and ethereal, this is not your dish. However, if you are looking for something woodsy, autumnal and luxurious, then read on.
(I must admit, that this recipe was Emma's first hand at executing a risotto. It was stellar. Congrats to Emma on baby's first risotto!)

MushroomRisotto with Gorgonzola and Fried Sage
(serves 6)

4 cups (32 oz.) chicken or vegetable stock
16 oz. mushrooms
4 Tbsp olive oil
6 large fresh sage leaves
1 cup arborio rice
I Tbsp fresh rosemary coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup port
1/4 cup red wine
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
4 oz. (1/2 cup) crumbled gorgonzola cheese
4 oz. (1/2 cup) grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
fresh ground black pepper

Put the stock in a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer. Keep hot stock on a low simmer on the back burner. Meanwhile, finely mince 1/2 of the mushrooms in a food processor. Transfer minced mushrooms to a double thickness of paper towels, and squeeze to ring out as much moisture as possible. Thickly slice the remaining mushrooms.
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large (preferably non-stick) skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add the sage leaves and fry 2 minutes per side ( this crisps the delicious leaves and infuses the oil with sage). Once crisp, remove leaves and drain on a paper towel. Add sliced mushrooms to the hot sage oil, making sure not to crowd the mushrooms and to keep them in a single layer. After 2minutes flip the mushrooms, they should be turning a golden color. After 2 minutes, add the minced mushrooms and stir and spread in as thin a layer as possible, covering the bottom of the pan. Allow the mushrooms to caramelize, stirring occasionally until almost no steam rises from the pan and the mushrooms have begun to sweat the olive oil they have absorbed (about 10-15 minutes on medium high heat). Remove mushrooms from pan and reserve.
Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to the hot pan and add the arborio rice, stirring to coat the rice with oil. Allow the rice to "toast" in the hot oil, stirring frequently, until the rice appears an opaque white color (about 3-5 minutes). Add the port, wine, garlic and rosemary to the rices and stir constantly until liquid has almost completely been absorbed. Add the thyme, and reserved mushrooms, stir.
Now add the heated stock one ladle at a time (about 1/4 cup at a time), stirring constantly until rice appears almost dry before adding more stock. Continue until all the stock has been added. This should take about 20-30 minutes of constant stirring and vigilance (stay with me , the end product is worth it).
After the last of the heated stock has been added, and stirred until absorbed, remove pan from heat and add gorgonzola cheese and parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is mixed and melted. Add 3 Tbsp butter and stir until butter is melted and risotto is glossy. Garnish with reserved fried sage leaves, and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Additons: This would be amazing if topped with either (or both) toasted chopped walnuts and/or crumbled fried prosciutto!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Turkey Meatball subs

Ok.. so yesterday I came home form work and wondered what I was going to make for dinner.

As usual I was craving something trashy AND delicious. After a quick inventory check of the freezer I found three 1lb packs of ground turkey I apparently bought at Costco, a third of a loaf of french bread that had petrified since I bought it 2 weeks ago, and a garden overflowing with fresh herbs. I'm not usually a fan of ground turkey... its kind of bland and doesn't behave like ground beef or pork... but it does have the capacity to taste sort of like ground veal... if you treat it correctly. So an idea hatched... I could make ground turkey meatballs with sausage spices and glaze them in a wine and stock combination that would make them taste like... well, like a delicious baby cow. Sorry PETA, but I like to eat animals, especially the delicious babies. I just can't always afford veal, so I have learned to find substitutes.
These meatballs were totally delicious... delicious enough that I decided to start my own food blog today. I hope you enjoy this fast and easy recipe. These are the kind of meatballs that make you get out of bed at 2:00am...shuffle to the kitchen and eat them straight from the fridge illuminated only by the light form the open refrigerator door (well, thats what they made ME do anyway).

Sorry I didnt get any pics of these beauties... but hey, it's my first post... I promise pictures in the future

Turkey Meatball Subs

Meat balls
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup of VERY dry French bread chunks
6 large fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp fresh thyme
¼ cup fresh parsley
4 cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Crushed fennel seeds
1 ½ tsp salt
1 egg

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp Better than Bouillon stock base (Mushroom or Beef)
1 cup red wine
1 jar prepared Marinara Sauce

Hoagie Rolls
Parmesan Cheese
Sliced Provolone cheese

1. In a food processor combine dry bread chunks, fresh herbs and garlic. Process until very fine (this allows the bread to absorb all the oils from the herbs). In a large mixing bowl combine breadcrumb mixture, turkey, fennel, salt and egg. Mix with hands until well blended.

2. Form meat into golf-ball sized balls and place on a sheet of wax paper. In a large NON-STICK skillet, heat olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes over medium high heat until pepper flakes begin to sizzle. Add meat balls and cook, turning meatballs occasionally until meatballs are browned on all sides, about 15-20 minutes. Mean while, In a large glass measuring cup (or small glass bowl) combine stock base and red wine. Microwave on High for 1 minute, remove from microwave and stir until stock is dissolved in the wine.

3. Add stock/wine mixture to skillet and cook over medium high heat, tossing meatballs to coat until wine is reduced to a shiny thick glaze that coats the meatballs. Add Marinara Sauce and heat cook until sauce is heated.

4. Preheat Broiler. Slice open a hoagie bun and line with slices of provolone. Top with 4 meatballs, marinara sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Top with sliced provolone and broil 1 – 2 minutes until cheese is melted and browned. Serve Hot with lots of napkins!