Sunday, May 31, 2009

sashimi dinner

sashimi dinner
Originally uploaded by lornababy
we're lucky enough to live close to a couple of japanese markets. we were by the nijiya market on saturday and stopped in to pick up the fixin's for a nice sashimi dinner. tuna and salmon. simple, healthy and delicious.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When life gives you egg whites, make meringues

I ended up this morning with four egg whites and I can't throw away four egg whites. Nope can't do it. I've tried, I've even froze them thinking I'd do something at a later date and since I already have frozen egg whites that are from the Clinton administration I figured I better use these. Don't try to understand me, just feel sorry for me.

Even though I've collected a dozen recipes for meringues I'd never made any of them. Oh, I've eaten my fair share. There is a lovely bakery in Westlake that make a coconut meringue cookie that is to die for but I've never tried until this morning when I ended up with four egg whites. How I ended up with four egg whites is another post that I will hopefully finish this weekend but you've seen my track record lately, don't get too excited.

Now, the most important thing about meringues is don't open the oven. Sheesh, what a test of my patience. My sister makes a wonderful roast prime rib that you cook for a while, turn the oven off, and let it rest for a few hours. Holy Cats. She had to tie the oven door shut so I wouldn't, you know, just check on it. So here I am with my cookies tucked neatly into their warm little beds and me on the outside tapping on the glass, Open, Open, Open ...

Here's the recipe I used. Could not be more simple, it's just the damn waiting.

Pecan Meringue cookies

Notes on working with egg whites. Before you start, remove eggs from refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. (A couple of hours will do, or if you are rushed for time, immerse them in warm water for 10 minutes.) Make sure that all bowls, hands, and utensils that might touch the eggs are clean and free from oils.

* 1 cup whole pecans (preferably lightly roasted - 8-10 min at 250°F)
* 3 egg whites
* Pinch salt
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 teaspoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Place pecans in zipper baggie and beat them with a wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Set aside.

Put egg whites into a stand mixer bowl. Add salt. Start the mixer speed on low, gradually increasing the speed until soft peaks start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium-high, and slowly add the sugar to the egg whites. Continue to whip the eggs and sugar for a few minutes. Then add the vinegar to the bowl. Increase speed to high and whip the egg whites until they fluff up and become glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4-5 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pecan pieces. Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or Silpat. (I piped them from the same plastic bag the nuts were in after cutting off a corner)

Put the cookies sheet in the 300°F oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Leave them in the oven overnight. In the morning they should be ready - crisp on the outside, light and airy on the inside. If they are a little marshmallowy or chewy on the inside in the morning, just let them dry out for a few more hours. Makes 12-24 cookies, depending on the size.

Editors note: I did finally get the photos posted. It's not easy taking a snap of something white in something glass. Should be a photo assignment somewhere. The cookies are wonderful. Not too sweet and light and airy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How we do it: Pie vents

This ever happen to you?
You finally get the pie crust right. You get the fruit in the pie shell and you even get a decent top crust on. Now into the oven it goes and 45 minutes later you have a drooly bubbly goo oozing out of your pie onto your clean oven making a smokey mess. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to remove the pie, toss salt on the gooey mess, make a little foil boat to catch the dripping mess and put the pie back to continue to bake.

What I found out, and from who I just can't remember, is use three pieces of uncooked penne pasta stuck in the crust before putting the pie in the oven can almost eliminate that above scenario. These little steam vents will turn crunch brown but relieve the pressure of you bubbling juices in your fruit pie. Don't forget to remove them and toss them away.

Yes, you can use those cute little ceramic birds to sit in the center but I found this is so easy and it only leaves little holes in the top crust, plus, it's nearly free unless you never use penne. Could that be? Is there someone out there who is planning to bake a pie and has never made penne pasta?

If you put a cookie sheet or something else under the pie it seems to interfere with the proper baking of the bottom crust. My mom always said, your bottom crust needs to be set before the filling bubbles or you'll get that under-done crust. She's right, you need all the heat focused on the bottom of the pie to get it right.

The pie? It's my all time favorite, Pineapple Pie. Check out the link for the recipe.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chilaquiles: not just for breakfast anymore

As many cultural dishes do this recipe comes from the peasants side of the table. Usually they are fixed for breakfast from last nights tortillas and salsa. The poor of this planet have always been green.

Chilaquiles (chee lay kee lays) has so many variations but while tinkering about with this recipe I came up with great casserole version. Since I fry my tortillas in oil before assembling my enchiladas I thought I'd combine the two dishes.

Salsa Verda is a sauce of tomatillos, spices, and chillies and you can use homemade or buy it in the store. If you can find salt-free tortilla chips you could use them in a pinch but frying the tortillas isn't very difficult at all. That's the whole idea of using left over tortillas.

Chilaquiles Enchilada Style

1 quart Salsa Verde, homemade or store bought
vegetable oil for frying
12 corn tortillas
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pan bring Salsa Verda to boil and turn down to a simmer until thickened a bit.

While that is simmering cut tortillas in wedges or strips and fry in small batches until golden. Remove to paper toweling to drain. Make sure oil is hot enough between batches so the chips don't become oily. Put chips in a very large bowl or pan; big enough to add the sauce and stir.

Return the salsa to a light bubble and whisk in quickly the beaten eggs. The sauce will start to thicken and continue to whisk for about 30 seconds. Pour the sauce over the chips tossing gently as not to break them. Toss until they become soft and absorb some of the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese, onion, and cilantro. Serve hot.

Now this is where I changed my recipe. After you turn off the heat and before you pour the sauce on the chips gently stir in the following:

2 large cooked chicken breasts, cubed
2 green chillies, chopped
1 cup Pepper Jack cheese, cubed
2 green onions; including tops, chopped

Now pour over chips and gently mix. This goes in a 2-3 quart oven-proof dish and into a 375 oven until bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the cheese, onion, and cilantro. To serve, use a large spoon.
This photo is before the oven and because it was so yummy, no photo after. I was going away for the weekend so I made the whole recipe, took out three portions, and gave the remaining to our neighbors. I hate to waste anything.

This is great to use leftovers and you can add anything you'd normally put in your enchiladas. Olives, medium cheddar cheese, salsa, and you could certainly leave out the meat if you wanted. The eggs you whip into the sauce makes it very rich and velvety.

Friday, May 01, 2009

An actual Vegan Recipe

This might be the only Vegan recipe you'll ever find on PBE but I had to share this.

Last week I attended the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA. This is my third year and it is always a good day though last year they didn't have any decent authors on the Food Stage. I was very lucky to be there and see a good demo from two authors. Amelia Saltsman author of the Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook was half of one of the cooking demos on Saturday. The other was, Jo Ann Cianciulli , and her book is LA's Original Farmer's Market Cookbook .

Amelia was focused on all farmer's markets and the wonderful fresh local food to by and Jo Ann was more about one the 3rd and Fairfax Original Farmer's Market. I bought her book and even stood in line to have her sign it for me. Something I usually don't bother with but she was so charming I had to ask a few questions.

What I found at the demo was Green Garlic. I know, I'm always a bit late to the party and lil bird had mentioned buy some at her FM a few years ago but I was so intrigued with a very simple vegetarian soup Amelia made I had to find some. Quite surprisingly I found some at Jon's our local ethnic market. It looks very much like Mexican Onions but not. It's actually garlic not formed into a head of cloves with the green tops. Everything is eatable and has a mild garlic flavor. I made the soup and as vegetarian recipes go it wasn't bad and it's very quick to make. Next time I'll saute the leeks and green garlic with bacon to give it a little more flavor; maybe a little cream, too.

Vegan Potato Leek and Green Garlic Soup
  • about two cups of leeks, white and just a bit of the green part
  • three bulbs of green garlic, remove the roots and chop
  • about two cups of cubed red potatoes, don't peel
Saute leeks and garlic in a large sauce pan in oil. Add potatoes. Just cover vegetables with water and simmer, not boil. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until potatoes are done. You may need to adjust the seasoning. Serve.

Now she suggested to puree some of the soup to give it a different texture which I did. I just did a quick few whirs with my stick blender. The flavors are very subtle and I'm sure that's why there is no chicken broth and it's quick, less than 30 minutes and with no milk or meat you could serve this to you Vegan friends. My meat-eating husband ate it for lunch and enjoyed it quite a bit.

The book I bought, LA's Original Farmer's Market Cookbook is great and brought back some fond memories. Little vignettes about the origins of the Farmer's Market and great recipes from some of the food vendors. If you've never been or a regular patron this book is great.