Tuesday, September 4, 2012

a match made in foodie heaven

Parmesan pasta with balsamic roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli

Oh, y'all.  There are things I dearly love: pasta with parmesan and butter, roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli and balsamic vinegar.  Put those together and you wind up with this glorious gastronomic goodness.  And it is so easy.  Have I told you how I discovered my love of roasted vegetables?  My "cooker" as they call them in Belfast was, er, antique and persnickety.  Basically the oven only heated from the top, so baking or cooking meat thoroughly was tricky.  But, heating from the top, that ol' cooker roasted beautifully.  And it turns out that roasted veggies is the nicest way to treat them: the flavors intensify and caramelize until they're divine.  Let's get started on this hearty supper (this makes enough for 2).

Peel one large sweet potato.  I find using a knife to be the easiest way to peel things.  Cut your tater in half, place flat side down and work a sharp knife along the curve of that spud.  Easy.  Cut the sweet potato into small cubes (about 1/2" size).  

Make a quick balsamic glaze: in a small saucepan simmer together 2 T of butter, 1 T of balsamic vinegar, 1 T of dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a fair amount of pepper.  Simmer for about 5 minutes on medium until it begins to thicken.

Cut or break half a head of broccoli into small florets.  Toss the sweet potato and broccoli in the balsamic glaze until well coated.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast (yipee) for about 20 minutes at 400ºF/204ºC, giving it a stir halfway through.  They're done when caramelized and the sweet potatoes are tender.

In the meantime, make your pasta.  I actually used the same saucepan I used for the glaze, just boiling water in it and keeping all that balsamic flavor there.  I realize Ina would tell me it is way to small a saucepan to be cooking pasta in.  Ina, dahhling, feel free to mail me a hand-crafted copper pasta pot hammered by French nuns!  It worked fine, and before I drained my al dente pasta, I saved 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.  It's amazing what that cloudy water will do for a sauce!  Drain pasta, put empty saucepan back on the heat, add 1 T of butter (Julia would approve), that cooking water and simmer for a few minutes.  Add in the cooked pasta, season with a bit of salt and pepper and 1/3 cup (or as much as you please) of freshly-grated parmesan.  Toss together and there you have the easiest, most flavorful pasta to go with your roasted veggies.

Normally, when making pasta, I mix the pasta and veggies/sauce together and let them get to know each other for the last few minutes of cooking.  But, if you do that here, you wind up making those delightfully crunchy vegetables mushy.  So, don't mix 'em together, just let them hang out next to each other.  Top with a few shavings of parm and there you have it!  Tangy and sweet with the balsamic glaze, peppery from the pasta, creamy from the parmesan and butter and crunchy  with hearty vegetables, it's just so good.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

what's corny and cheesy and delicious all over?

There are many blessings found in living in a small town.  This week, that blessing was fresh-picked-from-the-garden corn.  Last night, I used some of it in a simple pasta with shrimp, tomatoes and white wine.  Tonight, I decided to take those same veggies and make something entirely different: roasted veggie enchiladas!  I think this is because it was raining.  We Texans like to make enchiladas when it's rainy (or sunny, for that matter).

                      Get ready for a sensational seasonal supper, y'all!
Cut the corn off of two cobs (trying not to let those kernels fly all over the kitchen like confetti).  Then chop two roma tomatoes (sans seeds), 3 cloves of garlic (chopped large) and a large shallot or half an onion.  Drizzle with vegetable oil (not evoo: it has too strong a flavor for this) and season liberally with 1 T cumin, 1 t chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

 Roast at 400ºF/204ºC for about 15 minutes.

 While those veggies are roasting, get going on your enchilada sauce.  Add enough oil (vegetable again) just to cover the bottom of a small pan (about 3 T) and go a bit crazy with the cumin.  Also add a bit of chili powder and enough flour to soak up all of the oil.

The French call this sort of sauce base a roux.  But we're making Mexican, we'll just call it deliciosa.
Add in about 1 T of tomato paste, which gives it a rich color and depth of flavor.

Then add about 1 1/2 cups chicken stock.  When my family makes enchilada sauce, they just use water, which tastes great too once it thickens.  I must've been thinking of this as I made my sauce, because I seasoned it with salt and pepper without tasting it, thus making it waay too salty.  Like Atlantic Ocean salty.  *Must remember how salty chicken stock can be!*  If at first you don't succeed...

 ...try and try again.  Much better.

 Grate some cheese as that sauce thickens (again).  I just used colby jack because it's what I had, but pepper jack would add a nice kick.

Now, get your corn tortillas ready to fill with those spicy roasted veggies and mild cheese.  Unless you never outgrew that "eating paste" phase from kindergarden and like all your food to be paste-ish, only use corn tortillas.  Very fresh corn tortillas will probably roll up without tearing, but mine have been hanging in the fridge for a few weeks (they last a good long while) and so they needed a quick dip in hot oil to soften them so they wouldn't tear.

Fill each tortilla (I made eight enchiladas) with a tablespoon or so of filling and cheese.  Roll up.

Cover with that delightful sauce.  I actually strained mine through a sieve, just to be sure I got a nice smooth sauce.  Top with a bit more cheese and a sprinkling of chili powder.  If you have any filling leftover, put that across the top as well.

Cover with foil so they don't dry out, and bake for 15 minutes at 400ºF/176ºC.  Uncover and cook 5 minutes more.

Here you have it!  Top with cilantro, or if cilantro is as appealing to you as kindergarten paste, chopped scallions will do.

 Absolutely deliciosa.  Full of flavor and very satisfying.

Poor Hayden didn't even get one bite.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

peach cobbler perfection

Hi, y'all!  I'm so sorry to have neglected my lil' Wild Honey blog here...I have been cooking up a storm (and even taking pictures of lots of it), but haven't made time to blog it.  But I am back with peachy perfection in a cobbler.  And it couldn't be easier to make.

Get ready for mouth-watering, peach cobbler.  This recipe comes from my church cookbook, so you know it's quality.  (Credit given to Laura's Aunt Virginia.)

Pretty please may I have some peaches with sugar on top??
I halved her recipe to make an 8x8 cobbler.  I found these sweet peaches at a farmer's market.  You'll need 2 cups of peaches, chopped in bite-sized pieces.  I think I wound up using 4 peaches.  Add 1/2 cup sugar.  For good measure, I also put in a dash of vanilla.

Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

Preheat your oven to 375ºF/190ºC and put a half stick of butter (1/4 cup) in your dish in the oven until melted.

Now for the easy cobbler batter: stir together 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of flour.  The recipe calls for self-rising flour, so I also added 1 t of baking powder to my regular flour.  Pour the mixture over the butter.  Do not mix.  Pour the peaches over that, again not mixing it.  I also sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on top.  Bake for about 25 minutes, until brown and bubbly.

 YUM.  It makes for a cakey-cobbler (as opposed to my Mother's delightful more pie-like cobbler, but variety's good, y'all).  Very simple and seasonal.

Happy summer!  What's your favorite thing to eat this time of year?

Bon appetit,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

you ain't gettin' this at Taco Bell, honey.

When it's late April and the day is rainy and a chilly 52 degrees, what's a Texan to do, y'all?  Make enchiladas, of course!  These are actually my favorite enchiladas to make: roasted tomatillo and chicken.  After a full day at church (complete with a really fun "Show and Tell" and lunch), I was interested in a no-fuss, easy supper.  This takes such little effort and has dynamite flavor.

First, you'll need some of these guys: tomatillos.  They look kinda dodgy on the outside, but are similar to a tomato.  If you've ever had green sauce in a Mexican restaurant, these little gems are probably behind it.  You'll need about 8 of these.

Peel 'em and they'll be sticky under that papery skin.  Rinse them off and then chop into bite-sized pieces.

Here's where your whole sauce comes together: to those tomatillos, add 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion chopped and 1/2 a jalapeno chopped in thirds.  It's a good idea to taste your jalapeno a bit, because they can range from bell pepper mild to quite kicky. Mine had some good heat (which is why I didn't use the whole thing).  Toss the veggies with a bit of canola oil (or other flavorless oil: evoo has a bit too much flavor for Mexican food) and season with salt, pepper and 1 T of cumin.  Roast 400ºF/204ºC for 20-25 minutes.

They'll look all slimy and mushy when done, but don't worry.  SO good.  Trust me.

Just a wee bite, please??
While tomatillos + friends are roasting, prep your enchilada filling.  Now, of course, one could roast your own chicken or use leftovers.  Or, if one wants to take the easy route, just buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store.  It shreds really nicely for enchiladas.

The enchiladas are easy to put together: just corn tortillas (never use flour tortillas to make enchiladas unless you never outgrew your elementary school penchant for paste) filled with white cheddar cheese and the chicken.

Once those tom's are good n' roasted, blend them in a food processor with 3/4 cup of warm chicken stock, until smooth.  Taste to see if it needs any seasoning.  Tomatillos have a tang to them, so I usually go a bit lighter on salt when using them.  And that's your sauce.  To quote the indomitable Ina, how easy is that?

Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with extra chicken.  (I ended up using half of a rotisserie chicken to make 10 enchiladas, the other half's in the freezer for emergency lemon chicken soup if I have a cold.)  Note slightly creepy grin on my enchilada-desiring dog.  Ha.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350ºF/176ºC, until well-heated through.  The sauce is really nice and thick, so won't bubble a lot.

These enchiladas are best with sour cream on top, and if you're feeling a bit fancy, put some in a ziploc bag and snip the end off to make a piping bag.  It also helps detract from the way my enchiladas somehow fell apart in the short journey from the baking dish to the plate.  These enchiladas have delightful flavor: the tang from the tomatillos, heat from the jalapenos and creamy goodness of sour cream is splendid.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

austin avocado omelet

Several years ago, I was checking out seminaries and spent a weekend at Austin Seminary.  While I didn't feel called to go there, I discovered something amazingly tasty in Austin: omelets with creamy avocado.  I also remember that the cafe had a carafe of coffee and mugs while you waited for a table.  That was especially fantastic.  After a wonderful week in Florida with my German friends the Kuhlas, I slept in and craved these omelets this morning.  They're especially good with a bit of turkey or ham in them, but I just used what I had: sharp white cheddar and avocado.  
 Simple egg prep stuff: s&p in two eggs.

 Whisk together and for a bit of extra flavor, add whatever herb you have on hand.

 (I used thyme.)

Heat a small nonstick skilled over medium-high heat.  Put some of this super-healhy delicious stuff in it. :)

  Add the eggs and cook until just set.  (When you add the eggs, pour them directly over the butter and it will spread out under them.)  Once they're set, flip it over gently, using a spatula.

Slice up your avocado while the eggs cook.  If you open your avocado and it looks as pretty as mine does, do a happy dance!

 My sweet dog really wanted a bite of avocado.

Grate some cheese.  I sort of have an aversion to bright orange cheese: this sharp white cheddar is the best.

 Please can I have some cheese?

After you flip the eggs, add a little cheese to one side, then layer the avocado on top and season well with salt and pepper.  Add more cheese on top and fold the omelet in half, cooking until the cheese melts.  

Slice some bread to toast if you like.  I'm infatuated with this honey brown bread.  If your omelet breaks a little, don't sweat it.  There are bigger issues in the world than broken omelets!  I make mine really thick, which is probably more Texas style than french style.  I'm sure Julia would reprimand me for this, but I love big, fluffy omelets.

Enjoy!  The creaminess of the avocado with the sharp cheddar and kick of pepper is just divine.

Bon appetit,