Christmas Breakfast Burrito

Basically it’s an omelette with red and green decorations, wrapped in a tortilla, and enhanced with holiday cheer (aka avocado).

Ingredients
2 eggs
Ham
1/2 avocado
2 red Thai chilies
1 large scallion
1-2 tsp butter
1 large whole wheat flour tortilla
2 thin slices Amerikan cheez

1. Heat your preferred omelette making pan over medium low heat.
2. Chop the ham, thinly slice the chilies and scallion. Remove seeds from chilies to reduce heat if desired.
3. Melt butter in pan. Add meat and vegetables and cook for a minute to heat through. Meanwhile scramble the eggs.
4. Add the eggs to the pan, swirl around to coat evenly. Add cheese on top.
5. Warm up tortilla over direct flame of gas burner, or in microwave.
6. Fold omelette in half, flip, finish cooking on other side, then slide onto tortilla, top with sliced avocado, season with salt and pepper to taste, and roll up into burrito. Or just fold in half like a giant taco if there is too much filling.

Notes
1. The cool creaminess of the avocado helps balance the richness and sweetness of the ham, and sooth the heat from the chilies.
2. You could also add some finely diced red and green bell peppers, for extra colour and crunch. But not too much or you’ll end up with a boring Western omelette (which are not bad, just not the goal here).
3. This could probably serve two people, or at least be enough to fill two tortillas. Using a larger pan, this could easily be doubled to feed more people.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone has been posting pictures of cookies all week. I managed to resist the temptation until just now. Started with a vegan cookie sandwich recipe: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/peanut-butter-sandwich-cookies/

I didn’t stick to keeping it vegan, or a sandwich.
Instead of using smooth peanut butter and then adding roasted peanuts, I just put in chunky PB, then added some large chocolate chips.

They came out too large and fluffy to stack, but I have a jar of vegan carob spread instead of making the chocolate filling. Also cut the butter to 1/3 and used applesauce for the rest.

I made a half size recipe and ended up with 23 decent sized cookies. Took up two pans.

Modified recipe:

ingredients
1 cups chunky natural peanut butter
2 TB butter
1 egg
4 oz unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
⅓ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or coat with cooking spray.

2. Cream peanut butter, egg, butter, applesauce, brown sugar, cane sugar, and vanilla 2 to 3 minutes with electric mixer, or until smooth. Beat in milk.

3. Add dry ingredients to peanut butter mixture, and beat on low speed just until dough forms.

4. Scoop 2-3 Tbs. dough onto prepared baking sheets 1 inch apart. Roll each cookie into a ball and lightly press down. Make crisscross pattern on top of each cookie by indenting with a fork. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to lightly brown. Cool on wire rack.

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Hannukah Ham

I realized that although I’ve referenced it several times, I never actually posted the Hanukkah Ham recipe here.

First, here is the original 2012 version.
It uses a store-bought spiral cut ham.

Marinade

1/3 cup bourbon
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup apple cider or pineapple juice
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 TB black pepper
2 TB honey mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 TB liquid smoke

Glaze
2 TB molasses
1/4 C honey
1/4 C maple syrup
1/2 C brown sugar
4 TB butter

Cooking Liquid
reserved marinade 
orange juice
pineapple juice 
apple cider

Directions
Marinate overnight, drain and reserve marinade
Score ham 1″ apart, 1/2″ deep. Insert whole cloves at intersections.
Line bottom of crockpot with 1 sliced onion and 1 sliced orange
Put ham in pot, add some of the reserved marinade or fruit juice so it wont dry out
slather half of the glaze over the ham
cook for 4 hours on low, then add the rest of the glaze and cook another 4 hrs on low. Add liquid if too dry.

Instead of being too dry, all the extra liquid made it soggy, and gave the meat a mealy texture. A different attempt with slices of fresh pineapple had a similar effect.

This year I was pressed for time, so didn’t marinate in advance, and kept it simple.
Just unwrapped the ham, put it int the slower cooker, added a splash of apple cider to barely cover the bottom of the pan while it heated up, and seasoned with a few whole cloves, a bay leaf, 2 allspice berries, a dried red chile d’arbol, two whole cloves of garlic, and some black peppercorns. Then I sprinkled some brown sugar on top, and drizzled with honey and maple syrup.
Cooked for about 4 hours on high, or using the probe until center was 160F. By this time, the glaze had melted into the meat, which had yielded its liquid to make some nice pan juices. I removed the ham and set it aside to rest.
In a saucepan, melt 2 TB butter, then make a roux with 3 TB flour. Deglaze with a splash each of dark rum and bourbon. Strain the cooking juices and slowly add to roux to incorporate. Add some sharp honey mustard and some dry powdered mustard. Cook until thickened. If not sweet enough, add a splash of molasses and some more honey and/or maple syrup. It should be slightly tangy and a bit sweet. If too dry, add some more cider, and maybe a bit of cider vinegar and cayenne for extra punch. The goal is balance, and not too hot or spicy, with the sweetness coming through but not overpowering the smokiness of the meat.
Reslather with any remaining sauce.
When the meat is all done, use the bone to make a pot of beans.

Stew Fish

In an homage to a different Christmas Eve tradition, I made a fish stew for dinner. Not quite the full complement of seven, but a lot easier. The style is quasi-Caribbean, but not really authentic anything. Changing up the seasonings would vary the origin, but I kept it fairly mild to showcase the fish. I used pretty much the cheapest fish that looked good at the store. Got them whole but cleaned, and cut into manageable pieces.

Ingredients
3 lbs fish
1 onion, thinly sliced
1-2 TB olive oil
4 TB tomato paste
1-2 tomatoes
1 quart broth or stock
1 stalk celery
Hot chilies
2 bay leaves
Fresh thyme
1 lemon
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
2 TB dark rum
2 TB dark brown sugar (Mexican piloncillo)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 package mushrooms, sliced
Cilantro and/or parsley for garnish

Procedure
1. Rinse fish, pat dry, cut into serving pieces of about 4 oz each. Season on all sides, put in bowl and squeeze juice of lemon and mix well. Set aside while making the rest.
2. Sauté onion in olive oil in large pan, add peppers, celery, and mushrooms. 3. After a few minutes, sprinkle flour over the mirepoix to make a roux. Stir until lightly browned.
4. Deglaze pan with wine, add aromatics and spices, tomato paste and mix in broth. Bring to boil and simmer gently for 10-20 minutes.
5. Add fresh tomatoes, rum, sugar, cook for another 10-20 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings and consistency of sauce, then add fish pieces, and simmer covered for 6-10 minutes until fish is cooked through.
7. Remove from heat and garnish with lemon wedges and fresh cilantro or parsley. Serve with rice, bread, or cassava and boiled plantains

Notes
1. I used one whole pompano, one whole sheepshead, and the tail of a blue snapper (filleted by fishmonger). If you have fish with heads, add those with the broth at the beginning of cooking to flavour the sauce.
2. I didn’t have any fresh thyme, so added a bit of fresh epazote and a dried avocado leaf instead.
3. I didn’t have any bell peppers or jalapeños, so used 1 lb of mushrooms and 9 red Thai chilies. I left them whole, be sure to fish out before eating. Should have chopped up one or two to mingle with the sauce.
4. I used a whole can of tomato paste, which was a bit too much. Next time will try some coconut milk, with ginger and some allspice.

Xmas Chow Fun

Apparently there is a tradition of American Hews eating Chinese Food on Christmas. I never did until I ended up in 29 Palms, California on Christmas and the Chinese restaurant was pretty much the only thing open within a 200 mile radius. But to continue the tradition, I made Chow Fun, which is one of my favorite things, but for some reason never tried to make it myself.

Ingredients
4 oz ham
12 oz package chow fun noodles
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 red Thai chilies, thinly sliced
3 slices ginger, minced
1 rib celery
2 TB Soy sauce
1 TB Mirin
1 TB Chile paste with garlic
1 TB Oyster sauce
2 scallions
2 TB peanut oil
1 star anise
1 dried red chile

Procedure
1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl
2. Chop the garlic, ginger, chilies, and celery and set aside
3. Prep all the other ingredients, heat oil in wok with a star anise and dried red chile to flavour oil until browned. Remove spices and heat until oil is almost smoking.
4. Add garlic, ginger, chilies, celery, and meat to hot wok. Swish around until coated with oil then dump in noodles and stir fry.
5. After noodles have got a bit of char on them, add sauce and scallions, cook until well coated and heated through.
6. Remove from heat, drizzle with sesame oil, and serve.

Notes
1. I used leftover Hannukah Ham, but shrimp, chicken, beef, or just veggies would also work just fine. I didn’t measure, just throw in a handful. More if this is a main course, less if serving as side dish with other meat dish.
2. I ended up with wheat noodles, but the rice ones are traditional
3. All measurements are approximate, adjust to taste

Conch Latkes

Last night of Hanukkah, decided to go out with a bang.

Appetizer was fried whiting filets, blot dry, sprinkle with Old Bay, dust with flour, lightly fry.

Then the conch fritters.

Ingredients
1/2 pound conch (two pieces)
1 banana
1 large scallion
3 small red Thai chilies
1 clove garlic
1 egg
Salt, pepper, spices to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 TB matzah meal
1/4 tsp baking powder
Extra light olive oil for frying

1. Rinse, dry, and coarsely chop the conch and scallions.
2. Deseed the chilies
3. Add all of the wet ingredients and seasoning to food processor. Pulse gently until conch is chopped into small pieces and batter is smooth.
4. Scrape into bowl and add flour and enough matzah meal to make the batter just thick enough to hold together.
5. Fry in shallow oil until lightly brown, then flip and cook the other side until crisp and nicely browned.
6. Drain on paper towels, serve with hot sauce of choice.

Notes
The banana is used was quite ripe which made them a bit sweet, not bad but I think it would be better with a yellow-green rather than brown-yellow.

I went easy on the spices, because I wanted to be able to taste the conch. It’s got a very mild flavour. I might add some allspice and curry powder to the next batch.

Red Rice

One of the traditional ways to eat carnitas (aside from just stuffing them into my face) is mixed with rice cooked with vegetables.

Ingredients
1/4-1/3 cup red recado (achiote garlic paste)
1 cup rice
1 cup carnitas
1 3/4-2 cups beef broth
1 poblano pepper
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
1 small onion
1 TB schmaltz

I used short grain brown rice, longer grain white is probably more traditional. Mix it with the broth and the achiote paste in the rice cooker and start it cooking.
Meanwhile, roast the poblano over direct flame until charred on all sides, then peel, deseed, and dice.
Dice the onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté the mirepoix in the schmaltz (or olive oil). Add the poblano when it’s ready. After the onion is translucent and the carrot has started to soften (about 5-6 minutes), add to rice cooker and mix well.
Shred the meat and add that in too after a few more minutes.
Can add more meat, or other vegetables like peas.
The rice would be good even without the meat, as a side dish with a different main course.

Applesauce

In case you haven’t noticed, making your own applesauce is almost painfully easy.

In a large pot, add 3-5 pounds of apples. Cut each apple into 8 pieces. Remove leaves and stems and any lose seeds, but no need to core or peel.
Moisten with 1/2 cup of apple cider. Flavour with a stick of cinnamon and maybe a couple of whole cloves and allspice berries if you’re feeling frisky. Cook for about 40 minutes until the apples are smooshy, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, fish out the cinnamon stick, and run through a food mill, which will catch the skins and cores we ignored earlier.
Eat a bowl while it’s warm for dessert, then save the rest to eat with latkes.

Cheap Macintosh apples work fine, but you can use pretty much any kind. The $3 honey crisps are probably overkill. If you get a whole bunch of apples, make a larger batch and can it.

Holiday Drink

Because who doesn’t like to get sloshed this time of year?

1.25 oz Baileys
1.25 oz kalhua
3/4 oz Strong white rum
3/4 oz dark rum
3/4 oz Elijah Craig bourbon

Shake with ice
Strain into martini glass
Garnish with chocolate shavings and a candy cane

Turkey Carnitas

A few weeks ago I posted my first attempt at carnitas:
https://aardvark007.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/carnitas/

Since I’ve been trying to eat less red meat (and yes, the “other white meat” counts), I tried it with turkey. I got a second turkey when they were on sale for thanksgiving, cut it up, and froze the pieces. For the carnitas, I used both legs and thighs. Didn’t even defrost them first.
The procedure was pretty much the same as described in my previous post.
Melt a couple of tablespoons of turkey schmaltz in a large pot, lightly brown turkey, then cover with 1.5-2 liters of boiling water.
Season with one packet Goya spice mix, 2 whole cloves garlic, 2 whole cloves, 2 whole allspice berries, 2 bay leaves, 6 black peppercorns, 2 dried arbol chiles, and a sprig of dried epazote.
Cook uncovered until water boils out, turning turkey pieces occasionally. Remove spices and cook on low until nicely browned and turkey is easily removed from bone and shredded. Add a bit of water if necessary to get the stuck bits off the bottom of the pan, and pull out the bones and tendons.

Serve with spicy radish salad and warm corn tortillas, and/or red rice with beans.

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