Monthly Archives: January 2010
|January 10, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Mexican and Southwestern, One Pan, Quick Weeknight Meals|
I’ll admit that the first time I heard of a potato taco, I wasn’t impressed. It sounded like a dense, heavy, carb-fest. Then at the Foodbuzz festival last November I had the opportunity to try a potato and chorizo taco from tacolicious. My mind was changed – they were one of the highlights of the street food fare and I’ve been anxious to try them again ever since. When I saw that my local grocery store started selling their own house-made tortillas, I knew that the time had come to try making these at home.
For something that’s whipped easily up in 15 minutes, these are phenomenal. The potatoes are mild and really let the flavor of the chorizo shine through – you don’t really taste “potato” at all. What I really love about these though are all of the contrasting textures – soft potato, chewy chorizo, and creamy avocado. There’s not really much more to say about them than that – they’re very simple with bright flavors and a fresh feel. I don’t know what more you can ask for in a quick meal.
As I mentioned before I used fresh tortillas on these, and I think they made a huge difference in the overall weight of the dish. Despite being corn, they were extremely thin and delicate (close to something like a flour wrap. They were really, really, really good. As in, I want to learn how to make my own tortillas and i don’t really want to go back to eating packages ones ever again. So if you have the option, I highly recommend using fresh corn tortillas. I’m sure packaged ones would be good too, but the final dish may feel heavier. Also, the filling is great on it’s own too. We ran out of tortillas before we finished the filling, and I was just as happy eating leftover filling with the salsas and avocado sans tortilla the next day.
For the salsa, you’ll want to use something like what you would find at a taco bar – not a tomato based salsa that you would eat with chips. I really like Goya Salsa Taqueria – it’s a thin sauce made from tomatillos and chili peppers. It’s pretty spicy, so use it sparingly!
- 2 ounces dried chorizo, diced
- 2 red potatoes, diced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 small onion
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 avocado, diced
- salsa/ hot sauce (such as Goya Salsa Taqueria)
- corn tortillas
Set a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 2-3 minutes until it is slightly browned and crispy on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the potatoes and jalapeno to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the edges get crispy. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until all of the liquid has evaporated and the potatoes are fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chorizo and cook to heat through (about a minute or 2).
Meanwhile, add the onion to your food process and pulse 5-6 times until finely chopped. Add the cilantro and pulse a few more times to combine.
Serve with tortillas. Top with the onion-cilanto mixture, salsa/hot sauce, and avocado.Serves 4.Approx. 180 calories, 12.4 grams fat, 4 grams fiber, 5.8 grams protein (not including tortillas)
|January 6, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Chicken and Poultry, French, Fruit, Light, Special Occasions|
Chicken and grapes – it sounds like something that you would feed your five year old for dinner. But trust me when I say that this meal is greater than the sum of its parts. The chicken is browned and then braised in wine until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. The pan juices are made into a delicious sauce enriched with a touch of cream and plenty of fresh thyme. And then there are the grapes – when heated, they transform into tiny morsels of juicy perfection that are the perfect balance of sweet and bitter.
I first had the idea of cooking with grapes over the summer. I must have seen it somewhere because shortly after I first started thinking about it, food + wine magazine featured a recipe with roasted grapes. That was closely followed by an issue of fine cooking that has a whole section on cooking with grapes! As great as the idea seemed, I was always distracted by the fresh, seasonal produce that was available. Grapes seemed silly! Until now. In the dead of winter in upstate New York, produce – especially fruit – is scarce, but grapes seem to be a constant. So I gave it a try, and my only complaint is that I shouldn’t have waited so long!
This dish is based on a recipe from fine cooking that I chose not only for its use of grapes, but also for its use of gewurztraminer – a sweet-ish white wine from Germany, similar to riesling. I have a few bottles of this that I picked up at Trader Joe’s forever ago. I typically prefer dry red wines, so while I do enjoy this wine, its not usually the first thing that I reach for. In this dish though, it was perfect. You could easily substitute riesling or even a sauvignon blanc if you prefer – I would stay away from chardonnay though, as the oaky flavor will overpower the delicate sauce.
Oh yeah, the sauce. Um, it’s incredible! You’ll want to eat every last drop, so I recommend making a side dish that will sop it up nicely. I made Israeli couscous, which went perfectly (I cooked it simply in chicken stock). Rice or mashed potatoes would also work well.
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 3 chicken quarters (or 6 pieces legs and/ or thighs)
- 1 cup green seedless grapes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cups guwurztraminer or other semi-sweet white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp arrowroot powder
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan, and sear on each side until golden brown – about 10 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Pour off any fat that has accumulated in the pan. Return to the heat and add the grapes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.
And the onions to the pan and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by about half.
Return the chicken to the pan. Add the broth and thyme. Cover and let simmer until the chicken is very tender and separates easily from the bone – about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan.
Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, or until it begins to reduce. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and the arrowroot. Whisk into the pan sauce. Add chicken and grapes back to the pan and cook a minute or two until the grapes are heated through and the sauce is slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
(The skin will be soft – I recommend removing it prior to eating)
Approx. 150 calories, 7.8 grams fat, 0.5 grams fiber, 9.2 grams protein (calculated with chicken skin)
|January 3, 2010||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fish and Seafood, Italian, Lent, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Reviews, Soups and Stews, Special Occasions, Winter|
I just got back from my last holiday get-together of the season, and while it’s nice to see everyone I have to admit that I’m so happy it’s finally over! All of that traveling is exhausting, and I think I’ve eaten enough cookies over the past two weeks to last me until summer. Everyone kept trying to send me home with goodies, but I honestly just didn’t want them. I’m tired of eating garbage, and I can feel the negative effects that eating like like this has had on my body. I’m definitely ready to get some balance back in my diet.
I made this clam chowder last week, and it’s exactly the type of dish that I’m looking forward to eating over the next few weeks. We love clam chowder, but typically go for the creamy New England style over the tomato-based Manhattan style. I wasn’t in the mood for a creamy soup this time though (even if I lightened it in terms of calories, it seemed too heavy), so I set out to make a new and improved Manhattan Chowder.
And improved I did! First, I used fire-roasted tomatoes since I love the way they taste with seafood. They gave the soup a really nice flavor that was mellower and less tomatoey than typical soups. A few slices of bacon lent a slight smokiness and tabasco passed at the table provided some heat. Nutritious vegetables added bulk to make the soup filling while keeping the calorie count down, and fresh seafood made the dish seem special. Shawn was actually very skeptical when I said I wanted to make this, because he hates tomatoes so tomato based soups really aren’t his thing. He loved it though, and told me that I should make it again! Served with a crusty piece of bread to sop up the broth, this is the perfect dinner on a snowy January night.
In addition to fresh littlenecks, I used a can of Crown Prince Natural Boiled Baby Clams in this soup. I was planning to use whatever canned clams I could fin at the grocery store, but I saw these at the co-op and figured it was easier to just grab them there and save myself the trip. I really liked them and will buy them again, as well as check out the other products in the line. The clams were small and tender with no grit – much less chewy than other canned clams I’ve had. Any canned clams will work in this soup, but if you don’t have a favorite I do recommend using these (or another brand of baby clams, although I’m not sure if that’s what made them so good) if you can find them.
Once you add them clams, be careful not to let the soup come to a boil or they will toughen – just heat it gently to bring them up to temperature. I found that the soup was hot enough to do this even off the burner. The soup is also great leftover – just remove the clam shells before storing and again be careful not to let the soup come to a boil while reheating it. I found that a minute and a half in the microwave (stirring halfway through) was plenty of time to heat it enough without resulting in tough clams.
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp oregano (dry)
- 1 tsp basil (dry)
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- generous pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 can (14 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 red potatoes, diced
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 can baby clams
- salt and pepper
- 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- Tabasco to taste
Fry the bacon in a large soup pot over high heat until crispy – about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the onion and garlic. Cook until translucent – about 5 minutes more. Add the celery, carrot, by leaf, and spices. Cook until vegetable begin to soften.
Add the tomatoes, potatoes, chicken stock, 2 cups water, and the liquid from the canned clams (reserve meat). Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes and carrots are soft – about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups water to a second pot. Add the littleneck clams, cover, and steam for 10 minutes or until opened. Discard any clams that don’t open, and set the rest aside.
When potatoes have softened, remove pot from heat. Stir in the canned crab meat and the littlenecks. Season with the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Allow each diner to season their bowl to taste with tabasco.
Approx. 90 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 1.5 grams fiber, 7.7 grams protein
I am submitting this recipe to Deb for Souper Sunday!