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Monday, March 16, 2015

Loaded Irish Potato Pancakes (Boxty)

Boxty are traditional Irish pancakes, different than American style potato pancakes in that they are made from half hash browns, half mashed potato. I prefer them to traditional potato pancakes; something about the mixture helps make them a bit less greasy.

The Irish saying goes, "Boxty in the griddle, boxty in the pan, if you can't make boxty, you'll never get a man!"  Sexism and cooking; a great combination!  Happy St Paddy's Day!

Yield: 4-6 servings

3 cups grated raw potatoes or frozen shredded hash browns
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups mashed potatoes
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable or olive oil, for frying

Prepare mashed potatoes as you usually would and set aside to cool (can be made the night before, or used from leftovers). Toss the grated potatoes with flour in a bowl.  Stir in the mashed potatoes.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, then add to the potato mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil on a griddle or pan, then drop the potato mixture in large tablespoons onto the hot surface, pressing down slightly to form patties.  Fry on both sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels and serve while warm.

Note: I turned these into "loaded boxty" pancakes; with sour cream, crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions. There are a lot of variations on boxty, so if you're in the mood to experiment, search online for more ideas.  In Ireland, these are traditionally served with breakfast or dinner, so there are a ton of ways to serve this recipe.  Enjoy!

Very Berry Muffins

A super easy muffin recipe! Use fresh berries in the summer, frozen berries in the winter. For this recipe, I used a combination of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, but you could substitute other berries such as blackberry, boysenberry, etc.  These smell great while in the oven and taste even better while still warm!

Yield:  approx 15 small muffins

1 cup brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup diced strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.  Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add butter chunks and cut into the dry mix with a pastry blender - or, if you're lazy (I like to call it efficient), use an electric mixer to mix until the butter is incorporated into pea sized bits.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  The batter will be lumpy.  Fold in the berries and fill a muffin tin or cupcake wrappers about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes longer or until muffins are firm and a clean knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Curried Cauliflower and Potato Soup

The depth of flavor in this soup is amazing, considering how few ingredients are in it, and that it's completely vegetarian. Actually, it's vegan - there is no cheese, no butter, no cream, none of the things that I associate with a really creamy and delicious soup. I almost added some cream at the end, just out of habit, but decided to follow the recipe I had, and it turned out perfectly without it!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, ends removed, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large baking potato, cubed
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Garnish:  Fresh cilantro, if desired

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions, celery, garlic, and carrots until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, then add the cauliflower and potato, vegetable broth, and seasonings.  Simmer until cauliflower and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk and season to taste.

I served this chunky, but for a creamier soup, you could puree the mixture with a food processor or immersion blender.

Garnish with parsley or cilantro and serve, maybe with some crusty bread on the side.  Enjoy!

Note:  You could also make this soup with a brightly colored seasonal cauliflower - a green or yellow cauliflower would pair great with the yellow shade the turmeric adds to the broth.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Meatless Meatballs


I stumbled upon this recipe while trying to make a meal that was both hearty and delicious for a vegetarian friend.  This turned out really nice and the texture is surprisingly similar to a meaty meatball.

One caveat - I tried making the veggie meatballs even healthier by omitting the frying and that version wasn't nearly as tasty, or as textured, as the fried version.  Oil, you win again!  Bake for health or fry for flavor! 

Yield:  about 20 appetizer sized meatballs 

Olive oil, for frying 
4 cloves garlic, minced 
1 medium white onion, finely chopped 
1 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
1 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped 
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Coat large pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add garlic and onions to hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, jalapeno, and zucchini.  Cook until softened, then transfer to a mixing bowl.

Add cheeses, panko crumbs, and herbs to the vegetable mixture and mix until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the eggs and stir until the mixture comes together.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Once the mixture has chilled, form into firm meatballs with your hands or a scoop.  Add more olive oil to a pan, bring to medium-high heat, and fry the meatballs for about 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.  For a healthier version, bake the meatballs in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until brown.

Serve with pasta and marinara sauce as an entree, or try adding a little extra cheese to the top and serving as an appetizer with some marinara on the side.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Honey Bourbon Hot Toddy

A hot toddy is the kind of enticing thing you read about in books when you're a kid, like baked alaska, or Turkish delight - it sounds so amazing that the name sticks with you, even though you have no clue what's in it or how it might taste.

I have heard from friends that grew up in cold places that this is often served after winter sports like ice fishing and skiiing.  I grew up in California, so I never had this until recently, when I had a bottle of bourbon on hand and the wind was whistling outside. It's the perfect drink for a cold night in front of the fireplace, snuggled up to someone special... or a good book! 

Yield:  2 cocktails

6 tablespoons honey
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
2 lemon peels
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise cloves 

Heat the water on the stove, in a teapot, or in the microwave.  Mix in the honey until it dissolves.  Add the bourbon and divide between two rocks glasses.

Add a strip of prepared lemon peel and the star anise to each cocktail.  Stir the drinks with the cinnamon sticks, drop in, and serve.  Cheers!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Spiced Scones

Scones are surprisingly easy to make!  They taste best eaten within a day or so and while warm.  Happy holidays!

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk, divided (reserve ¼ cup)
1 large egg

3 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Spiced Pumpkin Glaze: 
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons milk (add more if needed for a pourable consistency)

The first step is to combine the dry ingredients.  The idea is to blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  The old school way to do this is to cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender.  You can save a little time and carpal tunnel by doing this in a blender or food processor - I have replicated this technique in my blender many times and there is no discernable difference in taste or texture in the final product.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin and milk. Stir in the crumbly flour/butter mixture until just moistened; do not overmix.  On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it comes together. Use your hands to form the dough into a large round shape, making it smooth and even, about 1 inch high.  Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 triangle pieces.

You can bake the scones right away if you're in desperate need of carbs, however the best thing to do is chill them first!  The scones have a large proportion of butter to flour, and if baked while at room temperature, the butter will melt and seep out, which will make the scones overly dense and dry.  Freeze or refrigerate the scones until they are cold, and you'll end up with a much tastier scone!  The scones can also be frozen indefinitely and baked at a later date.

When ready to bake the scones, preheat the oven to 400.  Place the scones 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Brush reserved buttermilk over the top of each scone.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

To decorate the scones, if you want to be fancy, you can make a simple powdered sugar glaze (1 cup of powdered sugar and several tablespoons of milk or water) and coat the top of each scone with that before drizzling with the spiced glaze.  That will create a dual toned icing (see top picture).  Or you can simply combine the spiced glaze ingredients as listed above and drizzle over the scones.  Either way they will be delicious!  Enjoy!

Note: if you have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can substitute the other spices in the recipe with that. Season to taste or use about the same total quantity.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Spicy Stewed Mexican Potatoes

This is a super easy dish to make that is hearty, but still healthy.  I like to make a big batch of this, serve it as a side dish, and then eat the leftovers for lunch for a couple of days.

Yield:  5-8 medium servings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 pounds russet or red potatoes, cubed
3 poblano peppers, seeded and cubed
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 whole bunch cilantro, chopped
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup lime juice
2-3 cups water
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat vegetable oil in a large pan or pot on medium high.  Add garlic, peppers and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes.  Add potatoes, then cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until they begin to brown on the outside. Add remaining vegetables, crushed tomatoes and lime juice. Pour in enough water so that all of the vegetables are covered.

Cook until the potatoes are soft and the liquid has evaporated, about 40 minutes.  If liquid disappears and potatoes are still hard, add additional liquid and cook down until soft.  Potatoes should be soft and tinged with the color of the tomato before this dish is ready.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, garnish with cilantro, then serve. This dish is great as a meal, a side dish, or in tortillas as vegetarian tacos.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oaxacan Red Chile Enchiladas

Making enchilada sauce from scratch is very easy and tastes a million times better than the canned stuff!  This recipe is slightly different than traditional red sauce.  It's very garlicky, a little spicy and a little sweet.  I like to double the sauce ingredients and freeze half later, to use over quesadillas or in beans (or in another batch of enchiladas!) 


Yield: approx 6 servings 



1 medium white onion, diced

2 whole dried guajillo chiles
8 cloves garlic, peeled
6 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 serrano chiles (remove seeds for a less spicy sauce)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 slice white bread, toasted and crumbled
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
Kosher salt, to taste
18 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
3 cups cheddar cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping) 

1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese 
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup copped cilantro
Salsa (for serving)
Heat a skillet over high and add the dried chiles. Toast for about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with boiling water, then allow to soak for about 20 minutes.  Drain the chiles, reserving the liquid, and remove the stems and seeds.  Transfer the chiles to a blender or food processor along with enough of the soaking liquid to cover the chiles.  Purée until smooth, and then set the chile purée aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat, and add the whole garlic cloves, tomatoes, chiles, spices, herbs, and onion.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.  Add the chicken stock, lime juice, sugar and bread, then cook until the mixture has thickened a bit.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once the mixture has cooled, pour into a blender with the chile puree.  Purée until smooth, then season with salt to taste.  That's the sauce!

For the chicken, I usually boil boneless skinless chicken breast for about 30 minutes, allow it to cool, then shred it by hand.  Depending on how saucy you want your enchiladas, you can add about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce to the chicken to coat it.  If not using additional sauce, add a bit of salt and pepper to the chicken so it isn't bland.

Now, set up your enchilada making station!  One bowl of chicken, one bowl of enchilada sauce, one bowl of cheddar cheese, and a pile of tortillas!  And a casserole dish.

The tortillas must be warm in order for them to be pliable enough to fold.  The traditional way to make them pliable would be to fry them, but personally I find that adds more grease (and more calories!) than necessary.  What I usually do is heat about half of the tortillas in the microwave at a time - about 30 seconds will do it.  It won't affect the flavor at all, and if the tortillas get cold while working, you can just nuke them again.

To assemble the enchiladas, start by spooning a bit of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish.  Dip a warm tortilla in the enchilada sauce bowl to coat each side.  Place chicken and cheese in the center of the tortilla, then roll tightly.  Place seam side down into the casserole dish, then repeat until the casserole dish is full.  Spoon additional enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, then sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.

Bake enchiladas in a 350 degree oven until melty and brown on top, or about 30 minutes.

To serve, transfer the enchiladas to a serving platter.  Sprinkle with cotija cheese, onion rings, and cilantro, and of course, don't forget salsa on the side!  Enjoy!