Fire Day Friday: Torta de Espinacas
Don’t you hate it when you are doing a main dish from a certain country and then you are stuck trying to come up with complimentary side dishes?
Tonight I was trying out Lomo Al Trapo, a popular Colombian beef dish. When I needed to find side dishes, I knew right where I was going….to Erica’s blog My Colombian Recipes. Erica lives in the states now but is from Medellin, Colombia and posts recipes inspired by her homeland. Tonight Alexis made Erica’s Torta de Espinacas (Spinach Cake) on the Big Green Egg.
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Torta de Espinacas (Spinach Cake)
Source: My Colombian Recipes
Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter
11/4 cups milk
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch nutmeg
1 garlic clove
8 oz frozen spinach, thawed
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespons parmesan cheese
Directions
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk often until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Add the milk gradually and continue whisking often until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Place the spinach and garlic in a blender and add the white sauce(bechamel sauce). Blend until smooth.
Place the spinach mixture in a plastic container and add the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a small bowl, mix the parmesan and bread crumbs.
Pour the spinach mixture in a baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan mixture.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until the cake is done.

We only did a few things differently. First, we used about twice as much bread crumb/cheese mixture on top. Second, we did ours on a 375f grill set up for indirect heat for the 35 minutes.
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This recipe fits perfectly inside a Weber Small Drip Pan (6″ x 9″, come ten to a pack). Don’t be alarmed if it poofs up a bit like a souffle, it will fall back down.
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We found that this recipe converted to the grill very well and will definitely make it again. It would also be good in the oven but I think the fire roasting adds a little something. Besides, you know we like playing with fire!
So Labor Day is coming up. Is that the end of the grilling season for you or are you just getting started?
Try a New Recipe: Marinated Mushrooms

Try A New Recipe Day 4

Yet another recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen. I used to make these a lot, even took them on a hiking/camping trip in a little plastic jar! You might as well double the recipe from the start. Very flavorful, you will wonder where these little gems have been all your life! Served cold, they are very refreshing in the summer!

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Marinated Mushrooms
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 antipasto servings
1 pound small mushrooms (1-inch diameter)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 medium clove garlic, minced
fresh black pepper
a handful of finely minced parsley
Clean the mushroom thoroughly, slicing off and discarding the stems. Place the mushroom caps in a saucepan with no added water, cover, and cook them over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the marinade by combining all the remaining ingredients in a medium-small bowl.
Drain the mushrooms. (for a great soup stock, reserve the liquid). Place the mushrooms in the marinade, stir gently, and let marinate, either refrigerated or at room temperature, for at least several hours. Stir occasionally during marination. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

Don’t forget to visit me at The Bad Girl’s Kitchen for more fabulous recipes!
Polenta with Talegio Cheese ala Year on the Grill via “the Long Quiche Goodbye”

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Good Morning…
 
I’m older than dirt, but learning every day.
But, I am too lazy, too unfocused and too undisciplined to go back to school (don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up, but that’s another story).
 
I am a BIG fan of murder mysteries and what I like to call “Gentle Learning”.  here’s what I wrote just a couple days ago… (3 is a magic number).
148There is a NEW murder mystery series just released.  I can’t imagine anything more exciting than an authors first published book.  Avery Aames has authored, “The Long Quiche Goodbye”.  That’s the first in a planned series of books set in the cheese shop (Fromagerie Bessesse is the actual name, but everyone in town calls it “The cheese Shop”).


I was very excited when I first heard of Avery’s book.  First, she is “one of us”.  Some of you may know her as one of the Six merry murderesses from The Mystery Lover’s Kitchen.  All six of the contributing authors of the blog are published authors, all mysteries, and all their books have food themes, most with recipes included in their books.  The blog posts daily, with recipes and glimpses into their lives.  Fun daily read (and for contest whores fans among us, they have more give aways than any other blog I know of… but I digress).  My fellow bloggers out there, if/when you get a book deal, sign me up as the first to buy.  We should support our own!

But my new found blog buddy’s setting for the series really turned my crank.  I am pretty good with basic cheese knowledge.  I no longer buy bags of shredded cheese (the more air that gets to the cheese, the faster it losses it’s taste and goes bad, shredding adds surface area, so more air gets to the cheese… buy the bricks and shred yourself, cheaper, tastes better and stays fresh longer… but I digress).  I also buy “real” cheese, and not the low fat versions (half the amount of “real” cheese will add a fuller flavor than twice the amount of the less tasty substitute.  Half the amount is the tastiest way to cut the calories, not pretending you are getting the same taste… But now I am ranting and digressing… Back to “the long Quiche Goodbye”).  But aside from the basics, I still buy most of my cheeses from the tiny cheese section of my store.  My knowledge of better quality cheeses is lacking.  Much the way people of my generation still hum “3 is a magic number”, soft education is a great way to learn without the burden of schooling (extra points if you caught the “Schoolhouse Rocks” reference.  That’s where I was gently educated about math, while watching the Wonder Twins powers activate.  
 
Do you think the “Cheese Shop Mystery series” will do for cheese what Schoolhouse Rock did to teach me how a bill becomes a law???).  

And sure enough, in one of the recipes Avery provides in the book, I traveled to the only cheese shop on the island and found a new (well, it is at least 11 centuries old, but new to me) cheese… Taleggio Cheese 
 
And WHOOP de DO, do I ever LOVE Taleggio Cheese!  Think Brie with an attitude. Taleggio melts like brie, so I imagine just about any recipe you have for brie you can sub Taleggio.  But where Brie is a mild gentle cheese, Taleggio will take you down, slap you around and leave you begging for more.  I did a little research (see, learning every day) and found that Taleggio is more related to Limburger (the stinky one) than Brie.  While this doesn’t stink, it certainly does have an oder.  Strong earth scents, makes for a strong nutty taste.

Hunting the cheese down was surprisingly easy.  There is one and only one specialty cheese shop on133the island. Center shelf, center of the shelf, and there it was!  I asked the cheese monger for a sample, and was in love. Surprisingly cheap, $16 for a pound, I only needed a small amount (the recipe calls for a garnish of the cheese, so no more than 1/8th pound really needed if you follow the recipe (of course, I didn’t)).  I bought 1/2 a pound, planning to use it for several recipes during the week.
 
Aren’t cheese shops wonderful places… Just ask, and they will happily slice you off a sample of something that sounds interesting.  I feel a little guilty that it has taken so long for me to leave the safety of the big grocery store here, with their sampling of maybe 7 or 8 cheeses.  Be a cook, don’t be intimidated… Find something new!
 
OK… Time for the recipe…
 
First, here’s Avery’s version from The Mystery Lover’s Kitchen.
Fire Day Friday: Red Beans and Rice

I was making some blackened pork chops last night (Gee…..where could I have gotten that inspiration, Dave?) and thought some red beans and rice would go perfectly with the chops. I used one of Emeril’s recipe as a guide and then made it with what I had on hand.

Red Beans and Rice
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Red Beans and Rice

Serves: I dunno, probably a small nation like the size of Aruba, it makes a lot.

Ingredients
1 lb dried red beans, rinsed, picked, and soaked (I did the quick soak method instead of overnight soak – 2 minute boil, let soak for an hour)
4 – 8 oz Mexican chorizo (yeah, I had no andouille sausage)
1 ea yellow onion, chopped
1 ea green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 ea bay leaves
4 springs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp garlic minced
3 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of water

Instructions
Got my “mess in place” ready while the fire was getting started in the grill.

Beans 1

Saute the sausage for 1-2 minutes until it starts to brown. I did this in a cast iron dutch oven that was preheated on a 350f grill. Then add the onions, peppers, and celery and continue sauteing 5-7 minutes until softened. (Note: If your chorizo doesn’t render a good bit of pork fat, you might have to add some bacon grease or other fat before adding the veggies.)

beans 2
Then “put everybody else in the pool”. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, reduce heat and simmer (I cut the temp of the grill down to 300).

beans 3

This is where I kind of screwed up. During the prep, I must have commented 3 times that this seemed like a lot of liquid and veggies compared to the quantity of beans. Even after cooking an hour, the liquid really hadn’t reduced much. It was about this time I realized that I had used only a 1/2 pound bag!! I remedied that by adding two cans of drained kidney beans and it all worked out okay.

The total cooking time was about two hours. I smashed some of the beans against the dutch oven with my wood spoon per Emeril’s advice. Served them with rice, hot sauce, and my blackened pork chop.

pork chop 5

The whole family loved the beans with the chops, my boys both even got seconds.

Speaking of cajun and creole foods, last week at the food blogger get together at Larry’s, Katherine of Smoky Mountain Cafe (she’s from Cajun country) made REAL jambalaya that made my mouth jump a happy dance. The best jambalaya I’ve had.

What is your favorite cajun or creole based dish?

Homestyle Meatloaf, Mashed Carrots, Garlic Lemon Brussels Sprouts & Mushroom Ragout

Simply Delicious Sunday Pink

HOMESTYLE MEATOAF

MASHED CARROTS
1 small bag baby carrots, halved
2 Yukon gold potatoes, washed and cubed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 +/- cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

  • Boil potatoes and carrots until fork tender. Drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl place softened butter on the bottom followed by the hot carrots and potatoes.
  • Mash together until uniform consistency.
  • Add cream until desired consistency and seasonings.
  • Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese
GARLIC LEMON BRUSSELS SPROUTS
1 dozen equal sized Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (Balsamic Vinegar works well too)
1 lemon, juiced
3 green onions, sliced
3 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter

  • Wash, halve and drain the Brussels sprouts.
  • Melt butter over medium high heat.
  • Add green onions and garlic. Saute’ until golden.
  • Add Brussels sprouts and continue sauteing until tender.
  • Add lemon juice and champagne vinegar. Heat through.
  • Serve immediately.

MUSHROOM RAGOUT
3 cups mushroom mix (I used baby bellas and portabellas)
1 small shallot, minced
4 sprigs Thyme, minced
1/2 cup red wine
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces demi-glace*
2 teaspoons minced garlic, jar
salt & pepper to taste

  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Saute’ mushrooms until golden and tender.
  • Add shallots, garlic and thyme.
  • Continue to saute’ until translucent.
  • Deglaze the pan with the wine.
  • Add the cream and demi-glace.
  • Simmer until desired consistency.
  • Serve over HOMESTYLE MEATOAF and mashed carrots.

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*Demi-glace is a rich brown sauce in French cuisine used by itself or as a base for other sauces. The term comes from the French word glace, which used in reference to a sauce means icing or glaze. It is traditionally made by combining equal parts of veal stock and sauce espagnole, the latter being one of the five mother sauces of classical French cuisine, and the mixture is then simmered and reduced by half. The term “demi-glace” by itself implies that it is made with the traditional veal stock. Demi-glace is hard to find and a bit expensive so I substitute 1 tablespoon Better than Beef Bouillon Aujus Base with 1/4 cup boiling water and it tastes great!

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Healthy Helpings – Spinach, Feta & Chick Peas

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Sorry for posting this late, this has been a crazy week, one in which I have spent very little time in the kitchen, so I don’t have a new recipe or one with pictures.

This recipe is one that I have made for years and I really love it. I found it in a Prevention Magazine (you know one of those recipes that you clip and you just hang on to it forever?), and from what I found on the internet, it was later published in one of their cook books in 2002.

My favorite thing to serve this with was a nice grilled piece of salmon. It was a favorite meal of mine and my mother’s back when Tara was small.

Spinach, Feta, & Chick Peas

SERVES 5
2 (9 ounce) packages frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup chick peas (cooked or canned)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 ounce roasted red peppers, minced
Directions
1 Heat the spinach in a skillet or in the microwave.
2 Mix in the chickpeas, feta and peppers and serve.

Do you have a favorite healthy recipe you would like to share? I need to get back into the kitchen this next week!