Friday, July 21, 2017

Black Bean Chilaquiles #FoodieReads


When we weren't hiking, kayaking, or playing poker during our 10-day camping trip last week, I found myself in the hammock, enjoying my books. It was the perfect opportunity to get through more books for my Foodie Reads Challenge. I finished four books and started a fifth. It was a good vacation!

Today, I'm sharing Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale* which is not a foodie book per se. But it was a book that I read long into the evening by flashlight after everyone else had snuggled into sleeping bags. And, since the main character is a baker and owns a café, I'm counting it!


On the Page
Right there, on the first page, I was riveted. Aimee is in a church on her wedding day. Except, instead of wearing her wedding dress and marrying her childhood sweetheart, she's clad in black and there for her fiancé's funeral.

Everything We Keep is rife with plot twists and turns as well as love, pain, and healing. I rarely chatter about the books I'm reading with my family, but I rattled on and on about this book during breakfast on the eastern side of the Sierras. 

Jake said, "Didn't you just start that book yesterday?" 

Yep, and I finished it last night.

 "That good, huh?" 

Yes!

After a year, Aimee is pushed by her friends to at least start working on a life without James. She opens a specialty café with awesome coffee and gourmet baked goods. But, convinced that James might still be alive, she takes off for Mexico.

I'm not going to give away anything else. Just know that this was an excellent novel that kept me up to find out how it ends. And I have the sequel on my nightstand, too. Will report back on that soon.


On the Plate
There several things I considered making for this book: lemonade (they met as children when James stopped a bully from ruining her lemonade stand); coffee drinks (Ian, the new man, is an extraordinary photographer and barista extraordinaire); and various baked goods (Aimee has been baking for as long as she can remember).

But, in the end, I was inspired to make chilaquiles. I imagine this could easily have been part of a comforting breakfast in Mexico when all came tumbling down around her.

It's funny for me to think that before Fathers' Day - just last month - I had never heard of chilaquiles. Jake mentioned it as something one of his co-workers loved to make; and our friend Mike was over for dinner. "Oh, we used to make chilaquiles all the time." Then he described how his grandmother and mother used to make them. Now, I probably make them once a week. We always seem to have leftover corn tortillas and it's a quick meal. I don't always make the eggs like this; sometimes I pour in beaten eggs and it's more like a cheesy tortilla scramble.

Derived from the Nahuatl word chīlāquilitl, this traditional Mexican dish is an easy and filling way to start the day. As with many Mexican dishes, regional and family variations are common. I never make them the same way twice. But that's the beauty of them. This is a use-what-you-have kinda dish.

Ingredients serves 4

  • 4 to 6 leftover corn tortillas (depending on how many you have!)
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 to 6 eggs (depending on appetites)
  • 1/4 C shredded cheese
  • 1/2 C cooked black beans
  • homemade salsa for serving (for this, I used my watermelon pico de gallo)

Procedure
In a large skillet with a lid, melt the butter in olive oil. Cut the corn tortillas into eighths and brown them in the butter-olive oil until they are browned and crisped. Spoon the beans over the crisped tortillas and top with cheese. Break the eggs over the top and cover with a lid. Cook until desired doneness. We like the whites firm but the yolks still runny. Let diners serve themselves and add salsa to taste.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


 

Here's what everyone else read in July 2017: here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bánh mì #BacktoSchool


This week Cynthia of Feeding Big asked us share some back-to-school recipes. Since my kids aren't sandwich lovers, I try to get creative.

Love these Other Ideas

Our Kinda Sandwich
Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread, derived from bánh (bread) and mì (wheat). But, more often than not, it refers to the baguette which was introduced by the French during its colonial period. But when we say it, we're usually referring to the Vietnamese sandwiches that my boys adore. These sandwiches combine French ingredients such as baguettes, pâté, and mayonnaise with native Vietnamese ingredients such as cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots, and daikon.


Though my boys are decidedly not sandwich kinda kids, they do love themselves some bánh mì. So, these make it into lunch boxes every couple of weeks. And whenever R sees one on a menu, he orders it...just to see if there's something new we need to add to ours. This summer he tried the version at the Eatery in Mammoth Lakes. He did like the brioche bun and housemade pickles, but he assented that mine was still better. Awesome!

There are many variations, but I discovered that the Bánh Mì Xíu Mai is a baguette with pork meatballs. It was exactly what they love. And I love that I just pack up all the components and they assemble them at school. Easy peasy! This recipe is enough for us to have them for dinner one night and lunches for two more days. 

Ingredients 
makes 15 sandwiches with 5 meatballs each

Meatballs
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 2 T chopped basil
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 t minced lemongrass
  • 3 to 4 scallions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 to 2 T gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 T Sriracha or other hot sauce
Sauce
  • 1 to 2 T fish sauce
  • 2 to 3 T gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 T Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1 T organic dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C water


Pickled Carrots and Daikon
  • 4 to 5 medium carrots, julienned (I used orange, yellow, and purple carrots)
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
  • 4 T organic granulated sugar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1/2 C rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 2 t minced cilantro
Spicy Mayo
  • 1/2 C organic mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 T Sriracha or other hot sauce
To Assemble
  • 4 baguettes, cut into 4 equal pieces and lightly toasted 
  • pâté
  • fresh cilantro
Procedure

Pickled Carrots and Daikon
(This can be done the night before, but should be done at least six hours before serving.)


Place julienned carrots and sliced daikon in separate bowls. Bring the sugar, vinegar, and fish sauce to a simmer. Stir till the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the sesame oil and cilantro. Divide the hot liquid in half and pour half over the carrots and half over the daikon. Make sure the vegetables are as submerged as possible. Set aside until ready to serve.

Spicy Mayo
(This can be done the night before, but can also be done at the last minute.)
Place ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Stir together until well combined. Set aside.


Meatballs
(This can be done the night before, then you heat the meatballs in the sauce just before serving.)
In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together all of the ingredients until well-combined. Roll walnut-sized balls and place them on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 35 minutes until well-browned.

Meatball Sauce
Place all ingredients in a large, flat bottom pan that can hold all of the meatballs. Bring to a simmer and swirl pan until sugar is dissolved. Lay the meatballs in the pan and stir to coat. Simmer until heated through.

To Assemble
Open up each piece of bread. Spread the Sriracha mayonnaise on one side. Smear pâté on the other side. Place the meatballs on the bread. Top with picked carrots, pickled daikon, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Avocado, Squash, & Pinto Salad with Pesto and Cumin-Honey Yogurt #CrazyIngredientChallenge


I love the idea behind the Crazy Ingredient Challenge (CIC). In the CIC, we are assigned two ingredients to cook and create. Lori of Lori's Culinary Creations and Kelly of Passion Kneaded
are our fearless leaders. So, here goes...

July's Crazy Ingredient Challenge = avocado and cumin

With avocado and cumin, my first thought was something with guacamole. But that seemed too easy.


So, I ended up making an entree salad with pesto, pinto beans, grilled summer squash, avocado, and a cumin-honey yogurt. I feel so fortunate to have just gotten a bounty of summer goodness from one of my favorite farmers, Jamie of Serendipity Farms. The squash, the herbs, the fresh pea shoots. And I had lemons from my parents' tree.

I know it sounds like a crazy combination of flavors, but this is for Crazy Ingredient Challenge after all. It really was delicious. And my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf ate the cumin-honey yogurt by the spoonful for dessert over fresh blackberries.

Ingredients
  • half a dozen baby summer squash
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 large organic avocados, peeled and thickly sliced
  • smoked fleur de sel for serving
  • fresh herbs for garnish (I used sprigs of basil flowers)
  • Also needed: grill or grill pan, oil as needed

Cumin-Honey Yogurt

  • 3/4 C Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 T honey

Pea Shoot Pesto

  • 1 C pea shoots
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 organic lemon
  • 1/4 to 1/3 C olive oil


Procedure
Place yogurt, honey, and cumin in a small mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined. Refrigerate until needed. 


Place all of the pesto ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until desired texture. Adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.


Grill the squash until nice char marks develop. Once cool enough to touch, slice them in half lengthwise.


To serve, spoon pesto into the bottom on a serving bowl. Spoon pinto beans over the pesto. Top with grilled squash and avocados.  And add a dollop of cumin-honey yogurt. Garnish with fresh herbs and smoked fleur de sel.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Roasted Beet Hummus #BacktoSchool


This week Cynthia of Feeding Big asked us share some back-to-school recipes. Can you believe that summer vacation is almost over? It's hard to imagine, but we had a great vacation and I'm looking ahead to lunches that everyone will enjoy.

Lunchbox Ideas...

And I decided to share one of our lunchbox favorites: hummus. Well, it's not really hummus as my little one is sensitive to garbanzo beans. D developed a sensitivity to garbanzo beans several years ago, so we get creative with our hummus. He still pines for "the regular, plain old hummus" but it's gotten to the point where he no longer suffers through the stomach pain. So, we make hummus with black lentilsroasted carrotsgolden cauliflower, though roasted beet is one of our favorites.


I put containers of hummus in their lunches with either veggies, pita bread, and even chips. It's a family favorite.

Roasted Beet Hummus

Ingredients
Roasted Beets
  • 3 to 4 organic medium sized beets, scrubbed, dried, and trimmed
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground sea salt
Hummus
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • ½ C tahini
  • 1 C plain whole milk yogurt
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon for this batch)
  • 1 t freshly ground sea salt + more for taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling, optional


Procedure
Roasted Beets
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scrub and trim the beets, then roll them in olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Lay them on a baking sheet. Roast until they are fork tender. It depends on the size of the beet, but it usually takes about an hour. Once they are cool enough to handle, rub off the skin.


Hummus
Place all of the ingredients - plus the roasted beets - in the bowl of the food processor. Process until smooth. Adjust seasoning, if needed, with more salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil, if desired. Serve with pita bread, chips, or cut veggies.

The Quintessential Summer Condiment: Watermelon Pico de Gallo #FoodNFlix


So, he did not turn around and ask me to dance, but there was something about this image that reminded me of Dirty Dancing when Patrick Swayze gets Jennifer Grey to dance on a log! But I'm getting ahead of myself...

This month's Food'N'Flix event was hosted by Chef Sarah Elizabeth and her blog of the same name.You can read her invitation: here. She asked us to watch - or rewatch as is probably the case with everyone! - Dirty Dancing.*

On the Screen
Let me say that it disturbs me to no end that I now have to clarify: Dirty Dancing, the original one. Why is there a need to remake such a classic movie?!? Okay, it's not a classic in same sense of the Casablanca era of films, but it is a classic for anyone who was a teen in the 80s. Why ruin a classic? Back to the point with a brief summary...

The Housemans are vacationing in the Catskills. It's 1963. 'Baby', whose real name is Frances, wants to change the world, while her sister "just wants to decorate it." Baby is attracted by some music in the staff area and encounters charismatic dance instructor Johnny Castle. The staff camp world is raunchy, raucous, and a whole lot more fun than her moneyed society.

But it's more than a film about sex, class disparities, and first love affairs. It's about the liberating power of dance.

If you haven't seen it - the original, I mean - do! Actually, I can't say anything about the remake released twenty years after the original as I haven't seen it. I just object on principle.

Next month, Courtney at Fictional Fare is hosting us as we watch Second Hand Lions. I've never seen that. Have you? Back to this month's selection...


On the Plate
Surprisingly, there are many food references in this movie...

“Just put your pickle on everybody’s plate, college boy, and leave the hard stuff to me," spat Johnny to Robbie.

“Robbie, Baby wants to send our leftover pot roast to Southeast Asia, so anything you don’t finish, wrap up.”

“I didn’t blow a summer hauling toasted bagels just to bail out some little chick who probably balled every guy in the place.”

“Last month, I’m eating Jujubes to keep alive, this month women are stuffing diamonds in my pockets.” I actually did try to find these candies. Just because.

And, lastly, spaghetti arms...you can't dance with them.

I don't know why the scene of Baby and Johnny practicing on a log appeals to me so much. Perhaps it's sheer awe. It's difficult enough to walk across some logs, much less dance on them gracefully.


We do plenty of hiking across logs, as natural bridges, during our forays into nature. So, I considered some version of Ants on a Log, such as these!

But, instead, I wanted to make something with watermelon after Baby's awkward attempt to explain why she's in the no-guests-allowed area: "I carried a watermelon." When I was pregnant with R, we joked that I was carrying a watermelon.


I suspect we'll likely see lots of watermelon creations this month - it's a memorable quote and it is watermelon season, after all. While I considered, all sorts of sweet watermelon creations, including watermelon sorbet, I ultimately went for a savory. I've decided that watermelon pico de gallo is the quintessential summer condiment. It's so versatile, I've made at least four batches this month alone.

We used this salsa on...

Grilled Beef and Fresh Slaw Bowls

Lettuce Wraps with Black Beans and Beef

Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos

I even ate it straight from the bowl with a spoon. Shhhh...don't tell!


This is also an incredibly flexible recipe. I might try adding diced jicama for added texture or even fresh radishes for a piquant bite.

Ingredients

  • 3 C seedless watermelon, diced
  • 1/2 C onion, diced 
  • 1 t jalapeno, diced - feel free to use more if you like it spicy
  • 3/4 C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 organic lime, juiced
  • salt, to taste


Procedure
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving. That's it.

Use this wherever you would normally use salsa! Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for two or three days. But each batch won't last that long. I promise.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


   

Monday, July 17, 2017

Raw Warrior Pudding #BacktoSchool


This week Cynthia of Feeding Big asked us share some back-to-school recipes. Yes, back-to-school. It's hard to believe that summer vacation is almost over. Sad, but true. Grateful for our annual summer camping trip. We're ten years in to a ten-day trek around Northern California. This year, we went down the Eastern Sierras, camping in Lassen National Forest and Inyo National Forest. So darn picturesque.

Jake and I love creating these memories for our boys. It makes their eight-week summers seem a little less short!

Manns at Little Virginia Lake
Manns on the trail to Crystal Lake
Manns above Marsh Lake

Okay, back to the reason for this post...some great lunch box ideas from my blogging friends.  

Warrior Pudding

Chia puddings are a great, make-ahead breakfast. And I love that they are so versatile.

Why is it called 'warrior pudding'? Because, as my bag of organic whole chia seeds - tagline "Aztec Superfood" - explains: "The chia seed was eaten by Aztec for strength and was a main staple food along with corn and beans."

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C chia seeds
  • 2 C milk
  • 1 T raw turbinado sugar
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground cardamom
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground ginger


Procedure
Place all of the ingredients and let it soak overnight. Serve as you would oatmeal - with fresh berries or bananas. I topped mine with diced fresh strawberries and raw sliced almonds.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pistachio-Armagnac Sabayon with Strawberries and Meringues #Winophiles


Here we are at the July 2017 event for The French Winophiles, a wine-swilling, food-loving group started by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva and, now, jointly coordinated by Jill of L'occasion and Jeff of Food Wine Click. This month, Jeff has us heading, virtually, to Southwest France. Here's Jeff's invitation: here.

If you are reading this early enough, we'll be chatting on Saturday, July 15th at 11am EDT. Join us on Twitter using the hashtag #Winophiles. Or come check out the stream later and try to join us next month.

To the Southwest of France...

We're referring to the region that's inland and south from the Bordeaux and Saint Emilion regions, Marcillac is a small area, but the area vineyards of Cahors, Gaillac and Bergerac are extensive and best known for their reds. The Cahors area produces some of the richest and darkest red wines in France, primarily using the Malbec grape variety, sometimes referred to as "black wine." Had I been able to track some down in time, I definitely would have tried it. But, as it is, I'm still looking!

The Rest of the Crew...
Take a look at all the discoveries made by our Winophiles group!

In the Glass

While researching the area's wines, I opted to go with Armagnac, a distinctive brandy that's distilled from wine and produced in the Armagnac region in Gascony, in southwest France.

In the 14th century, clergymen claimed it had therapeutic benefits: "It makes disappear redness and burning of the eyes, and stops them from tearing; it cures hepatitis, sober consumption adhering. It cures gout, cankers, and fistula by ingestion; restores the paralysed member by massage; and heals wounds of the skin by application. It enlivens the spirit, partaken in moderation, recalls the past to memory, renders men joyous, preserves youth and retards senility. And when retained in the mouth, it loosens the tongue and emboldens the wit, if someone timid from time to time himself permits."

Those would all be nice effects of drinking Armagnac. I can't vouch for any of them, but I will say that it was a pleasant sip and added that je ne sais quoi allure to my dish. In the glass, it was a shimmering amber. On the nose, I detected some muted floral notes - think lemon blossom - and honey. And on the palate, it was mildly spicy, but rounded, with a strong taste of licorice.

In the Bowl

I decided to carry the alcohol flavor over to the dish as well and made Pistachio-Armagnac Sabayon with Strawberries and Meringues. This is adapted from A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse by Mimi Thorisson. Actually, since the only thing changed was swapping the Marsala for Armagnac, I'll just send you to her recipe. Enjoy!




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