potato corn chowder

•March 2, 2010 • 2 Comments

it’s been a while since i posted, not because i haven’t been cooking, but because most of it has been done with my boyfriend, at his house, usually late/drunk/cameraless. i’m going to try to carry a camera around more because some of the stuff we’ve made would be more than postworthy. it’s pretty awesome dating someone who not only likes to cook, but has skill (probably more than i do).

corn chowder

so today i got home after work, had a few hours until driving improvement class (for a speeding ticket), and i was really hungry. a look through the pantry, and all i really had to go off of was potatoes. after i saw some frozen corn in the freezer, i decided to try a simple corn and potato chowder.

i started by dicing a few potatoes and covering them with salted water and bringing it to a boil, much like i would for mashed potatoes. after it boiled some, i lowered the heat and covered, adding garlic powder, marjoram, pepper, and a few dried sage leaves from my long-dead herb garden. i cooked it covered until the potatoes were becoming soft enough to easily mash but not mushy. i mashed most of them up a bit but left some larger chunks, too.

then i removed the cover and turned up the heat, adjusting the seasonings as the water reduced. once the entire mixture started to thicken, i added frozen corn, let it come back to a boil, and turned down the heat. then i added a little leftover sour cream, some half and half (no milk on hand), and a touch of parmesan cheese. i just brought it back up to a bubble for a few minutes, then stopped the heat and adjusted the seasoning one more time (a little more salt and pepper).

now i’m enjoying it. it’s exactly the kind of filling, simple, hearty thing i was craving earlier today. i’m finishing up my second bowl as i finish the movie “sunshine cleaning”, which i’m not totally sure i love… but i do really really like that it’s filmed in my hometown (albuquerque) and that it actually claims to be set in albuquerque and embraces local things in a good and non-cheesy way. so that part of it is really well done…

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eggnog cheesecake

•December 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

so the other night i had a festivus party in honor of the holiday made popular by Seinfeld… it was fun! i decided to bake, so i made an eggnog cheesecake (made it a rectangle for easier serving to lots of people).

eggnog cheesecake

i don’t usually post recipes, but i had a friend request the recipe and for baking, recipes are a little more essential… so it’s a first, here’s the recipe.

(makes one 9×13 pan…)

ingredients:

– 5 packages cream cheese

– 3 cups eggnog

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon and nutmeg)

– 4 eggs

– 1 box gingersnaps

– 1/4 stick butter

directions:

first, start the crust. i crushed up almost an entire box of gingersnaps by hand.. it was a pain, use a food processor or blender if you can. get it to a nice crumby consistency (some larger chunks are ok). then melt the butter and mix it in. you may need to add a little more butter– you want the crumbs to be fairly well buttered. get a greased pan and press the crumb mixture in the bottom and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

meanwhile, soften cream cheese by leaving at room temperature for a while, or microwaving on low power. use an electric mixer on medium-low heat to whip the cream cheese. add sugar and mix until well blended. add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low until well combined between each egg. then mix in eggnog, vanilla, and spices. pour over the crust.

place the pan inside a larger pan and put in the oven. fill the larger, outer pan with hot water about 1/2 or 3/4 of the way up the side of the inner pan. be careful not to spill into the cheesecake!

i baked it for about 50 minutes… you want the sides to be spongy and solid and the middle to be slightly jiggly but not liquid. if you press your finger on the outside, it should bounce back and feel spongy but the middle shoudln’t be totally set. pull it out of the oven and let it cool for a while inside the water bath. then continue cooling on a rack, and once it’s no longer hot, put it in the refrigerator to set.

i decorated mine with some icing and gingersnaps. it was a huge hit… really rich and delicious!

artichoke

•December 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

i really only had a whole artichoke for the first time this summer, while staying at a friend’s cousin’s house on the cochiti reservation, of all places.

artichoke food

little did i know i was discovering a really fantastic, simple, plain delight.

artichokes are a little tricky to approach to someone who’s never seen how, but they aren’t bad. all you really do is trim the bottom stalk, chop about an inch off the top, and throw it in a steamer. i don’t really time exactly, but you know it’s done when you can pull it out, open it up slightly, and easily pull a leaf out from near the center. i like to do it so that the center leaves are tender enough that the bottom halves are completely edible.

so pull it out of the steamer, and then basically just peel off leaves and eat them. hold them by the top of the leaf. the outer, tougher leaves require you to use your teeth to kind of scrape the flesh off, and the inner leaves will be tender enough to pretty much eat the bottom half. i like to dip them in melted butter with some pepper, salt, garlic powder, maybe a little lemon juice.

then once you get near the center, the leaves get thinner and smaller, and eventually you will get to the “choke”. this is way in the center and it is a bunch of little fibers. you do not want to eat this… hence the choking… so when you get there, just use a spoon to scoop out all the fibers. once you’ve removed them, you can eat what’s left (the heart) which is really tasty!

so yeah… i like it because it’s really good, easy, and kind of an adventure to eat!

pasta carbonara and white asparagus

•December 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

so i’d never had white asparagus before, and i saw that it was on sale at work for less than regular so i decided to try it. i also made a quick pasta carbonara with it.

pasta carbonara asparagus cooking food

the asparagus i just planned to steam, plain, like i normally do. however, i saw on the package that it needs to be peeled first, which was a little odd, so i did. so basically just peeled it, threw it in a pot with a steamer basket, and steamed for maybe 5 minutes. it was really good, fresh and crispy tasting. we even tasted a little bit raw and i think it could definitely be eaten raw, but it was nice to have it warm.

the pasta was also pretty easy. i got some slab bacon and cut it into chunks, fried that up in a pan while i boiled the pasta. i threw some frozen peas into the pasta water for the last few minutes of the boil. when the pasta was done and drained, i poured a mixture of whisked eggs, some milk, parmesan, garlic powder, salt, and lots of black pepper over the hot noodles and stirred quickly to create a creamy light sauce. then i added the bacon and voila!

a little terse on the details this time, i’ve been sick and don’t have the energy to try very hard on this post, but i wanted to get it up anyway before i forgot…

beets

•December 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

i always loved beets, even as a kid when most kids hated beets.

beets

i’d never had golden beets before, so when i saw a bunch of them at work the other day, i decided to try them out.

i washed the beets thoroughly, then separated the greens from the roots. i steamed the beets, whole and skins on, for about 45 minutes. once they cooled a bit, the skins peeled right off. i served those simply sliced with some pepper and parmesan on top.

the greens i diced up and sauteed in oil for a bit. then i added some garlic powder, salt, and pepper. i also added some chopped walnuts. then right toward the end, i threw in about 1/2 cup of buttermilk i had leftover from a recipe and lowered the heat, stirring until it was evaporated enough.

served the beet roots with the greens. it feels good to eat the entire vegetable. the greens were kind of tangy and nutty which complimented the plain sweetness of the beets.

seriously love beets.

oh, the golden doesn’t seem to really taste different. but at least i won’t have to deal with freaking out when the purple beet coloring comes out the other end and i don’t remember that it’s from eating beets! haha

chilaquiles

•December 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

chilaquiles is essentially a way to use up stale corn torillas or tortilla chips, but i think it’s also a pretty brilliant, simple breakfast.

the basic idea is to take those stale chips or tortillas, cook them in a chile sauce, and eat it with eggs or something for breakfast.

so i took my corn tortillas, ripped them into quarters, and pan fried them. i use a small frying pan that fits about one corn tortilla at a time and i use just a little more oil than is needed to cover the bottom of the pan. i fried several tortillas this way and set them on a paper towel to drain.

in the meantime, i added some salsa and beef broth to another pan and let it simmer with cumin, garlic powder, and a little oregano. as soon as this mixture was bubbling and my tortillas were done, i threw the tortillas in and stirred and let it simmer for a few more minutes.

back in the frying pan, a quick fried egg… i intended it to be over easy, but i broke the yolk trying to flip it one-handed 😦 a skill i still have to work on, i guess.

throw the chile/tortilla mixture on a plate, egg and sour cream on top, and voila! could also put some cheese on it, but i didn’t have any. i’m sure meat could be incorporated too if you felt so inclined.

yet another simple, fast, kind of rustic dish that i think is super satisfying for breakfast. the chile sauce thickens a bit from the tortillas, and the tortillas soften but retain a little bit of chewy crunch.

side note: this has probably become my favorite use for corn tortillas besides just making chips, and my second favorite use for old tortilla chips. my favorite use has to be “meltychips”, a drunk invention of my cousins that involves pouring all the old, rejected, broken tortilla chips onto a plate, covering with shredded cheese and microwaving until the whole thing turns into a big melty disc of goodness. mm.

spaghetti squash alla carbonara

•December 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

so i had half of my already-baked spaghetti squash from the other night sitting in the fridge and i was thinking about what i could do with it.

something (probably the fact that spaghetti squash looks like spaghetti) reminded me of one of my favorite ways to prepare pasta: alla carbonara. according to wikipedia, alla carbonara typically refers to pasta prepared with a sauce of raw eggs, some sort of cheese, black pepper, and some sort of ham. the sauce is poured over the hot pasta and stirred quickly to cook the eggs. it makes a really nice creamy, light sauce that sticks to the noodles.

squash spaghetti carbonara

my version tends to also include garlic powder, and i usually don’t have any ham or bacon on hand. usually, the sauce should be poured over the hot noodles right after draining. since i was using refrigerated spaghetti squash instead, i had to reheat it, so i just threw it in a pan with some olive oil and cooked it over medium heat until it was heated all the way through. actually, i used some chive olive oil i made a while back… i had a bunch of fresh chives in my garden that were going to die when the first freeze came, so i pureed them with olive oil and salt. it lends a nice mild garlic flavor.

while the squash was heating, i whisked together two eggs, salt, garlic powder, plenty of black pepper, and plenty of powdered parmesan cheese. as soon as the spaghetti squash was hot, i turned off the heat, poured over the egg mixture, and quickly stirred until the “sauce” thickened, signaling the eggs had cooked. i sprinkled some extra parmesan on top and that was it!

that’s part of why i love pasta alla carbonrara… it’s really easy, fast, and really good! even on “fake” spaghetti, like spaghetti squash 🙂