Sunday, March 29, 2020

Find Comfort In Oatmeal.

Sometimes, there's just nothing better than good old-fashioned oatmeal cookies.
Especially, in these times, when everything is up in the air and you can't take anything for granted, and you yearn for a simpler life, you can still make oatmeal cookies.  And for just a little while, things are as they should be.  

Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups oatmeal

Heat oven to 375°.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Place butter in medium mixing bowl and beat until creamy.  Beat in both sugars until well combined.  Add egg and vanilla and continue beating on medium speed for a minute or so, until mixture is light.
On low speed, beat in flour mixture until just combined.  
Stir in oatmeal, until combined.
Place heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets.  Gently press into flat rounds, 1/8 -1/4" thick. 
Bake about 10 minutes, until top is just set.  Let sit on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to rack to cool.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Rosie Makes Enchiladas.

After having some lovely chile rellenos,

I was still on a Mexican bent, so I decided to go with enchiladas.  If you recall, I'd made a big batch of red sauce (Here's the recipe.), used some of it for the rellenos, and froze the rest.  I did save a bit of the sauce to use on these enchiladas.

An enchilada, in case you don't know, is simply a rolled tortilla, typically filled with a variety of ingredients - meat, rice, vegetables, cheese, and/or beans, and served with an enchilada sauce, which is a savory red chile sauce.  Click here for the chile rellenos and the enchilada sauce.

For my filling, I'm simply using rice and black beans, onions and peppers.

You can use canned beans, although I've never liked them.  I use dried beans whenever I have a recipe that uses beans.  And you really don't need to soak beans overnight, like the directions always tell you to do.  Am I the only one who sees the irony in soaking beans overnight?  The reason you soak beans for a looooooong time is to shorten the cooking time.  So, like I said, you don't need to soak for hours.  Just simmer the beans longer and you'll have cooked beans on the same day you started.  Makes sense to me.

 Now, here's a Rosie Tip for faster bean cooking:  Add a little baking soda to the cooking water.  The baking soda changes the pH of the liquid and an alkaline environment causes the cell structure of the beans to break down, resulting in tender beans in shorter time.  I use about 1/4-1/2 tsp for a quart of water and a cup or so of dried beans.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until al dente.  I like a bit of "tooth" to my beans, as opposed to al mushe.
Be sure to rinse off the baking soda after cooking and draining the beans.

For the enchilada filling, first I sautéed about 1/2 cup each chopped onion and pepper.  Then I added a cup or so each of cooked black beans and cooked rice.  Season to taste with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a few shakes of oregano and cumin.

Spoon the filling onto the flour tortillas and...

add some shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Roll up tortillas and place seam-side down on a pool of the enchilada sauce.

Add some more sauce on top.

And give it some more cheese lovin'.

Bake in a 350° oven for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and gooey and starting to brown..

Serve with some fresh salsa and cilantro just picked out of your garden.

A little plop of sour cream never hurt anything.

Now, this doesn't have to be vegetarian.
If you wanted to brown up some hamburger meat, maybe with a bit of garlic, and add that to the beans and rice and pepper and onion, I'd say go right ahead.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rosie Makes Chile Rellenos.

We're having chile rellenos today with a smoky intense enchilada sauce made from dried chilies.
You know those big bags of dried chili peppers in the Hispanic section of the store?  I'm going to tell you how to use those for a sauce you can make that will go a looooong way.  

Before I start on the recipes, let's clarify a few points.
#1 What's the difference between chile and chili?
     Chile refers to the plant, like a chile pepper.
     Chili refers to the culinary dish, like hot dogs and chili.
  Now, to confuse you, the powder can be either chili or chile, depending on what's in it. Chile powder is made up out of pure ground dried chile peppers.  Chili powder is generally a blend of chile peppers and other spices, including oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.

#2  What is a chile relleno?
      It's a stuffed pepper.
      And that stuffing, or filling, can be most anything you fancy.

I'm making my chile rellenos using poblano peppers, which I first roast over an open flame, then wipe off the blackened skin.  Next, I'll fill the peppers with a mixture of meat (I'm using ground bison since I have it.  Hamburger meat would do just fine.), rice, and cheese.  Next, I'll batter and fry the stuffed peppers, then serve them on a pool of red, Spanish-style sauce made with dried chiles, with homemade salsa on the side.

 Let's make the red sauce first.  I'll be using a mix of dried chiles along with some Mexican spices to make a batch of the sauce. 
I have dried California, guajillo, and pasilla chiles.
The California chile is a dried form of the Anaheim chile.
The guajillo chile is the dried form of a mirasol chile.
And the pasilla chile is a dried chilaca chile.
You can use whatever dried chiles you have on hand.  Whatever dried chiles you have will give your sauce a nice smoky, authentic flavor.

Grab 3 or 4 chiles of each kind.

Cover chiles with about 4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for around 30 minutes or so until the chiles are tender.  Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.  (I had about 1 1/2 cups liquid left over.)

Rest of ingredients:
1 TB oil
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, stirring, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook about a minute.  (Whenever you're cooking garlic, be careful not to burn it.  It gets bitter and will ruin your dish.)  Add rest of ingredients and bare-simmer for about 20 minutes.

Transfer cooked chiles and reserved cooking liquid to a blender and purée until smooth.

Add puréed sauce to tomato mixture and slowly heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes.  Taste test and adjust seasonings as needed.

This makes right much sauce, so I'm going to freeze most of it, using only what I need.   It's a strong-flavored sauce and a little goes a long way, so I'm diluting it a bit with another can of tomato pieces.  Next time you want an authentic-tasting sauce, you'll already have the base in your freezer.  For my chile relleno sauce, I mixed 1 14.5 oz. can of tomato chunks with 1/2 can of the above sauce, puréed the two sauces, then heated them up.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.

Here are the step-by-steps:
First I sautéed the chopped onions in a little oil.

When the onions softened, I added a can of diced tomatoes and the spices.

Rosie Note:  If you like, you can add in a cinnamon stick or a pinch of cinnamon here.  Gives a little warmth to the sauce.  (Discard the stick later.)  I would've added the cinnamon, but then I'd have to listen to Mr. Hawthorne wondering, "What did you put in here??!!??"

Purée the cooked and softened dried chiles.

Add the puréed chiles to the tomato mixture.

Stir in until blended.
As always, taste test.
If you like, you can purée this sauce to smooth it out.  Or you can just leave it as is.  I happen to like the texture.

It has a strong smoky flavor, so I dilute when I'm making my final sauce for enchiladas, chile rellenos, burritos, tacos, or whatever.  Two parts crushed or chunky tomatoes to one part of this smoky and savory red sauce.
If you want to purée a bit, go right ahead.

Now that my sauce is done, I'm ready to start on the chile rellenos.
I'm using poblano peppers.  They're a mild variety of chile pepper and an excellent pepper to use for stuffing.

The first thing you need to do is char the peppers and remove the blistered skins.
I set the peppers over an open flame, but lacking a flame, one could blacken them under the broiler.
After blackening the skins, immerse in ice water.

Use your fingers or a paper towel to rub the char off.

Make a slice lengthwise
and remove the seeds.

Ready for stuffing.


As for filling the peppers, you're only limited to your imagination.
I happened to have some ground bison patties (you could use hamburger)
and I had some leftover rice.  Add some cheeses and you have a stuffing.

I browned the meat in a skillet with a little butter,
and then seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a shake or two of cumin and oregano.
I had cooked rice, so I added that to the bison meat.

Start filling the peppers with the meat and rice and cheese.
I used shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
Beans would be totally acceptable in here too.

Do not overfill the peppers.
Don't want them to split.

 Stuff peppers, close, and secure with toothpicks.

Now, we're ready to batter and fry the stuffed peppers.

I have a large heavy pot that I use for deep frying - 9 inch diameter and about 6 inches deep.
Pour 3 inches of peanut oil in the pot and start heating to somewhere between 350° and 375°.

For the batter:
Separate 3 large eggs.
I whupped the whites with a little salt until stiff peaks formed.
Then I beat in the yolks...

... and a tablespoon of flour.
Batter is ready.

Sprinkle each chile with flour and roll it in flour.
Cover chiles evenly with flour, shaking off the excess.
This gives the batter something to cling to.

One by one, dip the chiles in the egg white batter.
Cover completely.

Carefully place battered chiles, one at a time, in the hot oil.
Fry 3-4 minutes on each side.  Until rich golden brown.
While one chile is frying...
...start battering the next...

Keep the oil hot.

If your pot is big enough, go ahead and fry two at a time.
Just don't drastically lower the temperature.

Remove and let drain when golden.

Serve your chile rellenos on a bed of the red sauce with fresh salsa on top.

Fresh cilantro from my garden gives it a nice touch.

It's perfect.