Oct 1

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to review Jennifer Schaertl’s new cookbook. “Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens” I was really excited to review the book because Jennifer started her career as a food enthusiast (foodie if you will, but I’m not in love with that word).  The difference is she started cooking amazing meals for herself and friends from a 300 square foot apartment.  I complain that I don’t have enough counter space now and I think my kitchen is over 300 square feet.  After developing a love of cooking and an appreciation for fresh, seasonal ingredients on her own, Jennifer enrolled in cooking school.  She also moved to Texas ans started working her way up the restaurant ladder as a dishwasher.  She went on to become an executive chef, a career path that requires tremendous dedication.  (If you haven’t read it pop over to Michael Ruhlman’s Blog and read this post: So You Wanna Be a Chef – Bourdain.  Eye opening.)

I’ve read criticisms of the book that focused on the paper stock (cheap) photography (amateur) and graphics (kind of goofy).  But, none of those affect the heart of the cookbook.   I think it’s a great beginner cookbook that should be part of that “mom kit” that stocks every new apartment.  There’s a great intro section on stocking a pantry so you always have something to cook, Utensils, cookware and avoiding pitfalls.  I think this is invaluable to a new cook (no matter how big your kitchen or age) .  She includes recipes that represent many different cuisines and writes in a way that makes the reader/cook feel like they can do it.  She has also sprinkled tips throughout the book.   I think this book absolutely accomplishes what Jennifer set out to do; she takes some fear and mystery out of the kitchen and presents ways to make great food.

Here’s a sample of one of her recipes

Holy Moly Chicken Pasole

Makes 2.5 Quarts

A gourmet version of tortilla soup, this rustic version is actually thickened with finely diced pieces of corn tortilla that break down as the stew simmers. It’s also a great way to utilize leftover chicken, which makes it a standard on my rotation of Soupe du Jour in my restaurant. There’s always leftover chicken laying around!

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded off the bone

8 c chicken stock

1 onion, diced

6 cloves garlic

1 green bell, diced

1 rib of celery, diced

2 T chili powder

1 T ground cumin

½ c tomato puree

1 large tomato, diced

1 T oregano

5 corn tortilla finely minced

½ tsp red pepper

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

½ c cilantro, chopped

  1. In a large stock pot over a medium-high heat, bring the shredded chicken, stock, onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery to a gentle simmer. Once simmering, add all of the other ingredients except for salt, pepper, and cilantro.
  2. Once the tortilla has begun to break down and thicken the stew (about 30 minutes), season to your tastes with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped cilantro.
Sep 18

Photo by bhanek via Flickr

I recently visited Seattle for work.  It’s such a food town that finding a place to eat is hard because there are so many fantastic places to choose from.  That said, I always make it a point to visit The Pike Brewery.  They brew phenomenal beer on site.  And the site itself has an interesting history.  The brewery is located on the site of a former bordello, Hence the name of their Naughty Nelli Ale which honors the former madame of the house.  Other quirky beer names on the list are Kilt Lifter Ruby Ale, and Old Bawdy Barley Wine Ale.

The inside of the restaurant is decorated with historic Seattle and beer memorabilia.  There were enough interesting things to look at that dining alone twice I didn’t get bored.  The servers also took special care to pay attention to me without overwhelming me.

The quirky history of the Pike Brewery makes it attractive to me.  But the food and the beer keep me coming back.  I had dinner at the brewery two nights while I was in town and both times I had great service and great food.  The first night I started with the soup of the day which was a corn cheese chowder made fresh.  I had a Naughty Nellie which I pretty much have to order because of the name.  For dinner I ordered the Pike’s Ale Braised Bratwurst that features bratwurst from Uli’s Sausage in the market.  The sausage was perfectly seasoned and not too fatty I had it with their IPA which has a nice floral  aroma and is pretty hoppy.  My kind of beer.

The next time I stopped by I wasn’t terribly hungry so I ordered the grilled garlic prawns appetizer which comes with rice pilaf.   There were 5 – 6 large prawns and rice.  It was a perfect portion and the prawns were perfectly cooked.  Their recommended beer pairing is an IPA — so who am I to question????

If you get the chance to visit and are a beer lover I highly recommend the Pike Brewery.

Sep 14
Mexican Fiesta!
posted by: dawn in Beef, Chicken, Comfort Food, Mexican, Uncategorized on 09 14th, 2010 | | No Comments »

Tyler and Becky Celebrating his Birthday

Bill’s son Tyler turned 18 last month.  To celebrate I asked him what he wanted for dinner — Mexican!!!!

I invited his girlfriend & my parents over and cooked up a storm.  I got so darn excited about eating dinner that I forgot to take any pictures.  The Menu:

Jalepeno Roasted Chicken
Chili and Cheese Rice

Re-fried Black Beans
Marinated flank steak
Flour Tortillas
Fresh Salsa

If you are reading my blog, you’ve likely come to realize I’m currently obsessed with Mexican food.  I absolutely love the flavors.  My dad used to joke about ordering in a Mexican restaurant “hmm,  do I want the beans, tortilla and cheese or should I have the cheese, beans and tortilla?” For a long time, I thought that was true.  But it’s not, the flavors are so layered with nuance when the cooking is done with passion.  It’s easy to see how Rick Bayless spent 20 years perfecting his Mole.  Every time I cook these foods I learn something.

In July we took a cruise on Princess and had a fantastic time.  The best excursion was in Cozumel.  My wonderful amazing husband researched and found a private cooking class in a woman’s home Cocina con Alma.  Josephina teaches small groups to make traditional dishes.  Along the way she explained the ingredients, the history and methods.  It was a fantastic experience.  Check out her site. We made the pork roast!  I plan to write another post with more detail about the class, but the point I wanted to make here is that she opened my eyes to simplicity.  Her salsa is the recipe I wrote about in my chicken tortilla soup post (linked to above).  It’s a 6 minute recipe and when you make a batch it disappears.  I can buy “fresh” salsa that will sit in the fridge for weeks!  With her recipe I’m lucky to have enough to put on my eggs in the morning.

Her class gave me a good dose of confidence and I’ve been playing around since then.  My family seems to love it as I’m not seeing any leftovers.  So for Tyler’s dinner I made a pretty ambitious menu.  The recipes for the chicken and rice came from the food network (Mexican made easy)  I changed up the rice a little adding more garlic, using chicken stock instead of water and upping the amount of peppers for flavor.  I have to tell you that recipe ROCKS.  It has the trifecta – easy, tasty and cheap.  The roasted chicken recipe came from the same episode.  I’ve made it three times now.  At first I was worried about the Jalapenos making the dish too spicy but when they cook down they are amazing.  The chicken gets flavored all the way through.  It’s stunning.

Josephina teaches tortillas in her class.  We made delightful corn tortillas that were light and flavorful.  When I came home and tried to make them I could not reproduce the results.  Mine were “corny-ier”  and the texture wasn’t light.  I experimented with the recipe, mixing in some flour with the masa trying to reproduce what she did.  I couldn’t.  I am assuming it’s a difference in ingredients.  So I switched to flour tortillas.  They are not effortless, but they are not in the same class as what you can buy in the store.  Worth every second.  I found the recipe online (link above)  I use my mixer to combine the ingredients and they turn out fine.

So now, I’ll finally give some actual original recipes.  I don’t usually link to other people’s recipes but I think it’s part of the learning process.  Research and make it your own.

I’ve made the flank steak about five times since July.  The keys are marinating and quick cooking over high heat.  Flank steak should be sliced thin against the grain or ti will be hard to eat.  This is the current favorite at the house beating out steak.  For the marinade I used my Salsa Rojo which freezes well.  Marinate the steak for about 30 minutes to an hour then cook over high heat for about 3 minutes per side.  The grill works best, cast Iron is second best but beware, it smokes,  a lot!

Re-fried beans are easy enough to buy in a can.  And they aren’t horrible.  In fact they are pretty OK.  So you may think why bother.  Please please please just once try it from scratch.  When you soak dried beans and cook them you get a different texture, a better texture.

Re-fried Beans

1 lb black beans or pinto beans
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 onion in quarter plus 1/2 onion fine dice
2 bay leaves
6 Tbsp Lard (yes lard) divided
3 Tbsp salt
2 whole cloves garlic
2 minced cloves garlic

Soak beans overnight with the baking soda.  Rinse drain.  Cover with water in a dutch oven or stock pot, add 1/4 onion, 3 Tbsp lard, salt,  bay leaves and 2 whole cloves garlic.  Bring to a rapid boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 90 minutes or until they are tender.  Remove onion, bay leaves and garlic cloves.  DO NOT DRAIN THE BEANS.

In a large skillet over medium high heat add lard and cook onions until soft.  Add garlic and then add about 3 cups of beans.  Use a slotted spoon so you don’t get too much liquid.  Heat the beans through.  Move to a food processor and process till smooth adding cooking liquid as needed to get the consistency you like.  Return to pan.  Add 1 cup whole beans.  Serve with cheese, sour cream, fresh onions.  I’d tell you what to do with leftovers but I’ve never seen them!

Cheers!

I think Mexican food is better with beer.  I always love IPA.  In this case I like the Stone IPA because it’s crisp and balances the rich foods.

Aug 15

I adore Chili Rellenos.  I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, I grew up in California.  There was fantastic Mexican food available in almost all my neighbors homes and certainly countless family run restaurants.  I vividly remember my first encounter with chili rellenos.  I was playing at a friends house, her mother invited me to stay for dinner.  This was a coveted invitation because her mother made everything from scratch unlike my house where there were lots of packets and an endless supply of hamburger helper.

I watched my friend’s mom split and stuff the chilies, batter and fry them.  She put them on a bed of home-made cooked salsa.  One bite and I was hooked.  The crispy outside, the soft chili and oozing cheese with just the right amount of heat in the background!!!  Heavenly day!.  My friend moved away shortly afterward and I’ve been chasing that food memory for years.  Restaurant chili rellenos never lived up to hers.

I’m a pretty accomplished home cook.  I will take on any recipe I set my mind to, but occasionally I get it in my head that I’m not going to be able to make a recipe and I shy away from it.  Hollandaise sauce was my first nemesis, I thought about it and put if off for a year — then of course I made it and it was hard but it worked.  Chili rellanos are the same.  I was convinced they’d split in the pan and cheese would go everywhere, my batter wouldn’t be crispy enough, blah blah blah.  Then one day I saw beautiful Anaheim chilies (a.k.a. New Mexico chilies) and Oaxaca cheese (a rare find in these parts).  So I decided to grab the bull by the horns and I’m so glad I did.  It was a little time consuming to do everything from scratch (90 minutes or so)  however the dinner turned out magnificent!  I dare say I lived up to my food memory, which shows me that patience and fresh, quality ingredients are CRITICAL to success.

I also made corn tortillas, but I need some more practice before I start trying to teach that skill, mine turned out chewy and really strong tasting.  I was not impressed though they looked pretty.

Chili Rellenos Recipe

6 Anaheim Chilies
8 – 10 oz grated oaxaca cheese (mozzarella or Monterrey jack would also work well)
flour for dredging
3 egg whites
1 whole egg
oil for frying
sour cream for garnish

Roast chili’s under a broiler or over an open flame until skin blisters and blackens.  Put them in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  When the chilies have cooled enough to handle remove the outside skin (it will just slide off).  Using a paring knife, cut a slit into the side of each chili lengthwise and remove and discard the seeds.  Gently stuff each chili with cheese, use toothpicks to secure the cheese inside the chili.  Dredge in flour and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Whip egg whites to soft peaks, add whole egg and whip to stiff peaks.  This will be the batter for the chilies.

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet to 350 degrees.  Dip chili in batter and fry until golden (about 2 – 3 minutes per side)  Remove toothpicks and serve over Salsa Rojo, garnish with sour cream and fresh salsa if desired.

Salsa Rojo Recipe

4 dried ancho chilies
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion diced
4 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
2 jalapeno chilies
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp oregano
1/2 bunch cilantro

Remove seeds and stems from ancho chilies.  Soak in warm chicken broth to soften.  Meanwhile saute onions, garlic, tomatoes and jalapeno until golden.  Add ancho chilies and chicken broth and cilantro.  Bring to a simmer.  Use food processor or blender to puree sauce, return to pan and reduce to desired consistency.

This meal was highly enjoyed and paired very well with an Avery IPA!  (then again, I think everything pairs nicely with an IPA!).  It was so flavorful and filling we didn’t realize that we had eaten a vegetarian dinner until later that night.

Cheers!

P.S.  the green sauce on the outside of my plate is the Salsa I wrote about in my Chicken Tortilla Soup post

Jul 30

Thanks to Jen at My Kitchen Addiction for hosting the Kitchen Bootcamp Challenge.  This month’s challenge was salad or salad dressing. I created a Cilantro Pesto Vinaigrette to top my Mexican version of a Caprese Salad.

This challenge was exciting to me because you won’t find a bottle of salad dressing in my house.  I think that store bought salad dressing is an insult to tastebuds.  Salad dressing is so easy to make and so much better than anything you can buy there is no excuse not to make your own.

When I first started thinking about this challenge I was overwhelmed by the options for creativity.  A salad can be made of anything – cold cuts, vegetables, grains, fruits, shellfish, pasta … and you can combine it any way you want.  As it’s summer and tomatoes are at the height of their season; I decided to build tomato salad.  Once that decision was clear I thought about my favorite tomato salad, the Caprese.  While I love it, I wanted to make it my own.  I’ve been really into Mexican flavors lately so I decided to spin the Caprese.

I started with pesto, replacing basil with cilantro and pine nuts with pumpkin seeds.  I added the lime loosen it and make it more of a salad dressing using an oil to vinegar ratio of 1:1 (the standard American ration is 3:1 but I find that too oily and not sharp enough).

For the salad I replaced Buffalo Mozzarella with  Queso Blanco and used my vinaigrette instead of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Recipe: Cilantro Pesto Vinaigrette

Summary: Cilantro, Garlic, Pumpkin Seeds and Vegetable Oil

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic 1 bunch fresh cilantro juice of one lime 1/2 cup ground pumpkin seeds 1/2 cup vegetable oil salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse to chop. Add cilantro, lime juice and pumpkin seeds. Pulse to combine, stream in vegetable oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking time (duration): 10

Number of servings (yield): 6

Meal type: hors d’oerves

Culinary tradition: Mexican

Microformatting by hRecipe.

Jul 26
Chicken Tortilla Soup
posted by: dawn in Chicken, Mexican, Sauce, Soups and Stews on 07 26th, 2010 | | 2 Comments »

I have a confession to make.  I am a soup-a-holic.  I could eat soup every single day.  And the best thing about soup is that you can make it out of pretty much anything you have on hand.  I had some left-over enchilada sauce I had made, some fresh salsa and chicken thighs.  Then I threw in celery, carrots, tortilla chips and cheese.  Voi la! Delicious Mexican inspired Chicken Tortilla soup. The fresh salsa makes this recipe and is super easy to make.

The salsa recipe I learned on a recent trip to Mexico.  It’s super simple and enhances everything from tacos to eggs.

Authentic Mexican Salsa
4 Roma tomatoes*
1 Jalepeno
1/4 white onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro
juice of a lemon or lime
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the tomatoes and jalapeno until soft (about 10 minutes).  This trick helps the salsa keep longer in the refrigerator.  Set aside to cool.

Place onion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add tomatoes, lemon juice, jalapeno and cilantro.  Process until smooth.  Taste for salt and add according to your preference.

NEVER tell anyone how easy this is because they are all going to want your secret.  I make a batch and it’s gone in 24 hours.  A container of “fresh salsa” from the supermarket will languish for a week or longer, sometimes until it’s t thrown away.

**  I suggest Roma tomatoes because in Florida they are the most flavorful available.  Any red tomato with flavor will work fine.

I posted my recipe for salsa rojo (enchilada sauce) previously along with the recipe for Turkey Chilaquiles.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 bone-in chicken thighs skin removed
1/2 white onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
2 large carrots peeled and cut into large pieces (spoon sized)
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
salt and pepper for taste
tortilla chips, fresh salsa, cheese and lemon or lime wedges for garnish

Place chicken thighs in water and bring to a slow boil.  Cook for 30 minutes until done, remove to cool.  Taste the broth, If it isn’t rich enough you can add some chicken broth (which I did).    Add onion, garlic carrots, celery and enchilada sauce to the pot.  Allow to simmer while chicken cools, about 45 minutes.  Remove chicken from the bone, add to the pot and heat through.  Taste for salt and adjust seasoning (soups should be salted at the end of cooking to avoid over-salting as the liquid reduces.

Crush tortilla chips in the bottom of the bowl, add soup and top with cheese, fresh salsa and a squeeze fresh lemon.

Simple, not too hot and perfect for a summer afternoon!

Hope you enjoy this!

Jul 24
Cooking with Cat Cora
posted by: dawn in cookbook review on 07 24th, 2010 | | 4 Comments »

In my life I’ve met a very few people who I instantly respected.  I must give a nod to two of my earliest bosses (and the first two people I remember giving me this feeling)  who helped shape the career that allows me to afford my cooking passion, Sheri Benjamin (who owned the Benjamin Group which is where my career was put in motion) and Ellen Roeckle, who I worked for twice in my career (Benjamin Group and Bay Networks).  When they walk into a room I feel calm.  I know that no matter what happens, they’ll know what to do.  And they do.  Some people tell me I have that affect on them, I consider it the highest compliment.

Cat Cora is one of those people for me.  She’s calm, in control and retains her femininity in a somewhat male dominated profession.  I respected her the instant I laid eyes on her.  In June, Cat Cora did a private lunch at her restaurant Kouzzina  which is located near the Boardwalk hotel in the Epcot Resort.

I cannot tell you how happy I am that I attended this.  Disney always puts together amazing events, there was little likelihood of any disappointment so I tried not to develop an expectations.  We arrived and there were roughly 60 people at the event.  We were all presented with personalized menus which was a very nice touch.  After being shown to our table we watched the chef’s spring into action.  Kouzzina is an open kitchen so you can watch all the action.

The menu was amazing!  We were able to sample several dishes.  But then again, this is a Cat Cora menu flawlessly executed by her Kouzzina Executive Chef Dee and her talented staff, so it’s not surprising that it was amazing.  I thought about posting pictures of the plates; but to be honest my iPhone could not capture how beautiful they were and I don’t want to detract from their impact with bad photography.

Menu

Mezze

Dolmades
with Dill Oil

Salt Roasted Beets
with Skordalia

Tuna Tataki Lettuce “Gyro”
with Sumac Onions and Avocado Tzatziki

Salad

Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Barrel Aged Feta
with Micro Arugula Aged Red Wine Vinaigrette

Piato

Basque Rubbed Lamb Chop
with Feta Herb Saltsa

Pastitsio
Traditional Greek lasagna with Kasseri

Cinnamon Stewed Chicken
Slow simmered chicken with tomatoes, herbs and Cinnamon sticks

Glyka

Chocolate Budino, Baklava, Coffe Creme Brulee

What I enjoyed most about the meal is that as each course was served, Chef Cora came out and told us why the dishes are special to her.  Relating cooking to her mother and her Greek heritage.  Food that is simple and reminiscent of home cooking was so beautifully plated that you couldn’t imagine making it at home.   But then, Cat would explain the preparation and give you a little dose of her confidence, inspiring you to go home and try it.

Throughout the meal she made it a point to go to each table and talk to everyone individually.  She answered questions about Iron Chef as if she’d never heard them before.

I asked her two questions that were important to me.

When was the first moment you actually felt like a chef?

When I got the title, the first time I became executive chef at a restaurant.

What are the most important skills a home cook can have?

Good cookware makes all the difference.  Using quality pots, pans and knifes will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable.  That doesn’t mean you have to purchase expensive brand names, you just have to purchase quality.  While quality has a price — the pans will last a lifetime if properly cared for. (Editor’s Note:  Not once did she pitch her line of cookware she is launching and this was a perfect softball question for her to do that.  I was extremely impressed by that.  Also in my personal experience I’ve heard many people complain about their electric stoves and how they can’t cook on them, they need their Viking gas stove.  I disagree.  While I’d live a Viking stovetop in my kitchen, I can’t afford one so I have a ceramic top stove.  I push out perfect food almost every night.  Here’s my dirty little secret, the  pans do most of the work.  They provide even heating that makes getting a good sear easy.  I personally use Calphalon stainless steel and Le Creseut enameled cast iron. I use the very inexpensive Bar Keeps Friend to clean them and they all look brand new.)

At the end of the day we were all fortunate enough to receive an autographed copy of Cat Cora’s Classics with a twist.  She also autographed my Whineaux chef’s jacket which was a request I felt a little sheepish about but she put me at immediate ease saying she thinks it’s a fantastic idea!

This book is beautifully photographed, but more importantly includes tons of recipes that you want to make.  She puts a Greek spin on American favorites like  Nachos,  but she also has Japanese, French and other cuisines represented.  The idea is taking comfort food and putting a spin on it, so that it’s still comforting, but not boring.  It’s the kind of food you want to make at home.  This is a cookbook you should add to your collection.

Until next time!

Cheers!

Jun 10
Opening a Wine Bottle With a Shoe
posted by: dawn in Uncategorized on 06 10th, 2010 | | 1 Comment »

We’ve all been there — great bottle of wine and no corkscrew.  If you wear dress shoes… no problem!

Jun 1

I am excited to enter the Kitchen Bootcamp Sauce Challenge with my authentic Mexican salsa recipe  for Salsa Verde which is also known as green sauce.  This sauce isn’t covered in the Professional Cook but my green sauce recipe is so simple and tasty I’m sure you’ll be making it for your family.  It’s similar to a French sauce Tomate or Italian marinara sauce in terms of preparation and is based on cilantro, tomatillos, yellow bell pepper, garlic and chicken stock.

Setting about making my green salsa and writing this post took me back to why I started making it.  The thing about being spoiled is that you  don’t know you are spoiled until something changes.  I’m from California.  I grew up not realizing that Mexican food is ethnic food, I just knew it as good food.  I assumed that everyone had access to hand made salsa, tacos, tamales and little off the wall restaurants where the sauces were made fresh using family recipes handed down for generations.  I lived in a version of food paradise and I took it for granted.

Then, I moved to Florida.  Sure, we have “Mexican” restaurants here.  The quotation marks are there to indicate that these restaurants impersonate, possibly even insult real Mexican cooking.  Sauces come in 100 oz cans tortillas in bags.  I searched and searched for a restaurant to become my regular place, but alas it was to no avail.

And so, I learned to cook the foods I craved.  I searched online for people sharing their family secrets and I started making my own sauces.  Living in California, Salsa Rojo was my favorite but now that I make my own, Mexican green sauce is my hands down favorite.  Once you have it on hand it’s perfect for making chicken, pork or cheese enchiladas, chilaquiles, chile verde, green rice, tamales or simply having special chips and salsa.

Making it reminds me of making my Italian red sauce.  I never quite make it the same.  Poblano chili’s have amazing flavor but they aren’t consistent in heat so you have to taste it.  If you want this sauce to be amazing use home made chicken stock you can also slow simmer pork or chicken in it to make the flavor even richer.  Another hint don’t salt it until it’s reduced to the point you want — otherwise you may end up oversalting.   I posted on making turkey stock, the method is the same for chicken.

Mexican Green Salsa Recipe

2 large yellow bell peppers
4 Poblano chilies
2lbs Tomatillos
1 large white onion
6 cloves garlic
2 bunches Cilantro
2 Tbsp Mexican oregano
2 Tbsp Cumin
3 cups Chicken Stock (roughly)
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Optional:
Grill the bell peppers, chilis, tomatillos and onion after lightly coating with vegetable oil this will give you great smoky flavor.

If you choose not to grill them then sweat the vegetables until soft in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat.

When vegetables are soft puree in a food processor, add one bunch of cilantro and garlic.  Return to Dutch Oven and add chicken stock, oregano and cumin.  Simmer for at least 2 hours until it reaches the consistency you desire, I shoot for something similar to spaghetti sauce.  Return some of the sauce to the food processor and puree with the remaining bunch of cilantro.  (I like to add the cilantro in two phases as you get brighter flavor).

Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.  You can also add sugar.  If your taste buds crave more heat add one or two Jalapeno chillies at the beginning.

Tip: This Salsa freezes well so double the batch and keep some on hand!

I used this last batch for Pork Enchiladas!  I slow cooked a pork but with onions and garlic, shredded it and combined with flour tortilla’s, Monterey Jack Cheese, and baked them until golden brown (about 45 minutes at 375 degrees)

Enchilada Assembly Station

Enchilada Assembly Station

When assembling the enchiladas, coat the base of your pan with green sauce, dip each tortilla in sauce, fill with cheese and meat, roll tightly and place in the pan.  Top with more cheese.

Assembling the enchilada

Ready for the oven!

Unfortunately I got so excited about eating that I forgot to take pictures of the final product!

May 12

I’m back!!!!!!!!!!

I’ve been on hiatus for a few weeks as I took a cooking class and my work world changed a lot requiring more of my attention, but this dish was so tasty and I was so impressed with myself I had to post.

First let me come clean, I’m NOT a fan of boneless skinless chicken breast.  To me, it’s tasteless.   However it seemed like a good choice for the idea that was percolating in my head after receiving samples of Pretzel Crisps. You could do this with pork or even veal just as easily.

Pretzels make me think of Germany which makes me think of mustard and schnitzel.  Most people have heard of Wiener Schnitzel which traditionally meant pounded breaded fried veal scallops until the hot dog chain took its name!  Pork and veal are the most common “schnitzel meats” but in the states we love chicken.  Since Pretzel Crisps have re-thought the idea of the pretzel, I decided to rethink schnitzel.

This dinner was VERY popular at my house with everyone cleaning their plate (though to be honest I did have to argue with teen age son to get him to eat the spinach)

Pretzel Crisp Chicken Schnitzel with White Wine Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:

3 Chicken Breasts (boneless skinless)
flour for dredging
1/3 cup whole grain mustard
2 cups Pretzel Crisps (ground into crumbs using food processor)
4T vegetable oil

Directions:

Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness.  Dredge in flour, rub mustard on both sides and coat with Pretzel Crisp crumbs. Add oil to pan and cook over medium heat.  Drain all but 2 Tablespoons of fat from the pan.

Mushroom Wine Sauce

Ingredients:
8 0z sliced mushrooms
3T flour
1 Cup dry white wine
2 T whole grain mustard
1 Cup chicken stock

Directions:
Saute mushrooms in same pan as chicken.  Add flour and cook for 2 minutes.  De-Glaze pan with white wine.  Stir in mustard and chicken stock.  Reduce to desired consistency add salt and pepper to taste (but be careful with the salt because the Pretzel Crisps are salty)

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  The best part of this dinner was it only took about a half hour to make and it was so flavorful

Cheers!

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