Monday, June 28, 2010

Layered Tortilla Omelet with Homemade Salsa

Are you lucky enough to have a vegetable garden this year? If not, do you go to the local Farmer's Market? I have both options and tomatoes are starting to be everywhere! Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, bright yellows, reds, multi-colors everywhere I look. A great way to show off fresh flavors and colors is with as little prep work as possible, least amount of additional ingredients; allowing the food to speak for itself.

Fresh salsa screams juicy, sweet flavors and gorgeous colors. The layered tortilla omelet is just as much fun to put together and a great base for toppling on large spoonfuls of the colorful salsa. I added the recipe for making your own red sauce. This sauce is made for adding heat in the tortilla omelet. There will be a lot left over so freeze the excess for later use . . . maybe to make this omelet again.

The tortilla omelet works great for breakfast, brunch or dinner served with a chilled, light and fruity white wine.

Layered Tortilla Omelet With Homemade Salsa

9 large eggs
1 1/2 t. salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper
1 t. thyme
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. butter
3/4 c. chopped scallions
4 eight-inch flour tortillas
2 c. red or green enchilada sauce OR Red Chile Sauce (RECIPE FOLLOWS)
1 c. cream cheese (even better, use queso fresco if you can get it)
4 ounces goat cheese
1 1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 T. Dijon mustard
3 to 4 T. chile powder (I mixed mine; 2 T. New Mexico and 2 T. California chile powders)
1 t. sugar to cut down acidity in tomatoes
3/4 c. beer (Corona or XX Mexican beer would be appropriate, or substitute sparkling wine)
1 t. soy sauce
1 t. oregano
1 t. ground cumin
10-12 ripe Roma tomatoes or 1 1/2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 c. red chile puree (I will post the recipe for homemade puree)
OR substitute canned red chile sauce
2 t. balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (or use a silicon mat), spread 3 of the tortillas on the sheet and place in the oven to get warm.

Beat the eggs with the salt, pepper and herbs in a quart-sized glass measuring cup to make it easier to divide the eggs in three parts.

Mix the cream cheese and goat cheese together.

Melt 1/2 teaspoon of butter over medium heat in a skillet the same size as the tortillas. I used my 8-inch crepe pan. The perfect size! Pour in 1/3 of the egg mixture. Cook until the edges get dry, which will only take a few minutes.Then lift out the flat omelet with a large spatula and place it directly onto a flour tortilla on the warmed greased baking sheet. Repeat two more times, keeping the omelets warm in the oven until the last one is ready.

On the baking sheet, ladle 1/4 of the sauce over a tortilla/omelet and crumble 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and 1/4 of the jack cheese over the sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of the scallions on top.
Place the next tortilla/omelet on top and repeat. Repeat again with the third tortilla/omelet and place the remaining plain tortilla on top with the last of the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining jack cheese over the top.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Make a tent out of aluminum foil so that you can cover the stack without touching the top, or all of the cheese will stick and come off on the foil. I also spray the foil with PAM just to be sure.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes until the tortillas and omelets are heated through and the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and let the stack sit for a few minutes so that the layers don't slide. Cut it into wedges and serve with Fresh Salsa over the top.

In a saucepan, saute onion in a little bit of olive oil until soft. Add mustard and chile powder. Cook for a few minutes to soften the rawness of the chile powder. Stir in beer, soy sauce, oregano, sugar and cumin along with the tomatoes. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add more beer if the mixture looks dry. Remove the pan from the heat. Let the mixture cool a few minutes and then puree using a blender or food processor.

Return to a low heat and add the chile puree or red chile sauce and balsamic vinegar. Cook a few minutes more to marry the ingredients together.

Add more of the beer if needed for a good spreading consistency. The sauce will have a strong chile taste. It is suppose too. You want to taste a little heat in the tortilla/omelet but you will not taste the sauce itself.

Chunky Garden Salsa

1 heirloom tomato; preferably yellow
4 Roma tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion
1 roasted red pepper from a jar
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
3 cloves of garlic puree using a garlic press
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/3 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

I chopped all my ingredients by hand (instead of using the pulse button on a food processor) because I wanted large chunks and less juice. Stir together and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Love how the flavors mingle.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Julie and Julia; Lobster Killer

I finally have the way I can cook fresh lobster IF I am cooking a whole lobster that has not been pre-cooked in any way. This is strictly fresh, live lobster. The steaming part can be used for pre-cooked lobster at a store but you will need to ask how long the store has already cooked and the process the store used . . .

****These directions are what works for me and gets great results. It is against all my emotional feelers to cook live lobster so these directions are for when I have to do this process again WAYYY in the future, I hope. ****
I order fresh lobsters through or call 1-800-796-3189. The lobsters are boxed right on the Maine docks and shipped out overnight express. The company ships lobsters of all sizes but only steam lobsters up to 2 pounds. Anything larger and you will be shipped a "live", very fresh lobster.
Lobster Cooking Directions:
Time: 45 minutes
1 lobster if larger then 3 pounds
2 lobsters around 1 1/2 to 2 pounds each (local Washington lobster)
(A large kettle of boiling water will only handle 1 (3-pound or larger) lobster at a time - maybe two lobsters if you are using a canning kettle)
Melt butter for dipping the meat in
****Have two large pots ready. One for boiling the lobster and one for steaming. ***
Bring a large pot of water to a high boil.
Pick up lobster and quickly place head first in boiling water.
Cover and boil for 10 minutes. (I want to make sure the lobster is no longer alive.) (I do not like using the knife to make a slit at the back of the head to kill the lobster and I know this method is just as hard but I can actually do this . . . kind of. . . I cry every time.)
NEXT STEP: (You can add more then 1 lobster to a pot for steaming.)

Take lobster out of boiling water and place in steaming basket or rack elevated above water. Make sure the water is at a high boil before placing the lobster inside and start timing when the water is at a high boil after placing the lobster inside. For a 3 to 3 1/2 pound lobster or 2 ( 1 1/2 pound) lobsters, I steam for 20 - 25 minutes after boiling for 10 minutes.

A 4 to 5 gallon pot is ideal for steaming a total of 6 to 8 pounds of lobster. Do not overcrowd the pot, if you can not see the bottom, use a second pot or steam in 2 batches. The first steamed batch can be kept warm by being covered in foil and set in the oven at 165 degrees while waiting for the second batch.

1) The lobster shell will be bright red & the tail will be curled.
2) Pull off one of the small walking legs. The leg will come out pretty easily when the lobster is done.
3) The internal temperature should be 180 F.
4) The meat inside the lobster will be firm, white and opaque. The tomalley, which fills most of the body cavity will be greenish-yellow.

I took a part the lobster and served with king crab legs, delicious!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chocolate Tacos

Chocolate tacos are simple to make and stunning to serve. Your imagination can go wild for the filling. Whatever fruit is ripe and fresh at the market makes the filling bright and fun. Sliced peaches (grate a little fresh nutmeg over them), fresh figs, quartered, mandarin oranges, seedless grapes, papaya and the list can go on and on.

Find a bright, fruit flavored sorbet matching one of your fruit fillings to serve in the chocolate taco. Just remember, have FUN!

Chocolate Tacos

1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
3 T. cocoa powder
2 egg whites
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. skim milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/8 t. cinnamon
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced (grind a small bit of fresh black pepper on top)
1 c. raspberries
1 c. blackberries
1/2 c. blueberries
1 mango, sliced into 1/2-inch thick strips
2 kiwi, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/2 pint sorbet (use a flavor of one of the fruits)
8 mint sprigs
Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Cover the batter and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. TO COOK AND SHAPE THE TORTILLA:
Remove the batter from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, which will take 20-30 minutes. Heat a small skillet or crepe pan over low heat. Pour in about 1/4 cup of batter (I use a long-handled measuring cup as my ladle) and tilt the pan quickly to spread the batter into a 6-inch or 8-inch circle. Once the edges look dry (2 or 3 minutes), loosen the edges with a knife and turn over the tortilla. Cook for another minute or two.
Life the soft hot chocolate tortilla out of the pan with a knife or spatula and quickly drape it over a rolling pin. It will become firm and crisp as it cools.
NOTE: if the tortilla doesn't firm up, it means the tortilla isn't thoroughly done, so cook it a bit longer. It should be dry when you remove it from the skillet. DIRECTIONS FOR FRUIT FILLING:
Gently mix berries together in a bowl. Keep the remaining fruit separate until assembling or they'll pick up the colors from the berries.
Place a tortilla on a serving plate. Generously fill it with the berries and then tuck in the mango and kiwi. Add a scoop of sorbet and garnish with mint sprigs.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sunday - Chestnut Honey Madeleines and HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

I have "a" madeleine mold. Guess the one sentence says I have not made madeleines before; most madeleine recipes need several molds to bake a whole recipe. The dough is not made to sit in the bowl, especially Melissa's Chestnut Honey Madeleine recipe chosen by Debbie of Café Chibita. Baking along with the gang of Sweet Melissa Sunday's group has been widening my already large collection of bake ware, but who is complaining? I have been collecting LONGGGG before SMS was started and love every item!
I was a little lost over the word "chestnut" in the title of the cookie recipe. The madeleines are made using ground hazelnuts and the honey can be chestnut or clover. Nevertheless, the cookies are delicious. I failed to mention at the beginning where I used a miniature muffin tin for the rest of the cookie batter. Both shapes made for easy nibbling; a little to easy.
Filling a tin for the first time always leaves the question of whether the molds are too full or not full enough.I tapped the pan like the directions stated and the cookies popped right out of each mold. Happy Father's Day to all the Dads, including my Dad! The little tuxedo strawberries are a tribute to my hubby. AND . . .
Thank you Debbie for a wonderful recipe this week. I made my first madeleines and loved them! For the recipe, go see Debbie's blog and also check out all our other talented SMS bakers by clicking on the link for the list. Happy Baking Everyone!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fabulous Mexican Breakfast

Huevos Rancheros with homemade tortilla chips. Before you look any further into the recipe, I would like to state . . . the tortilla chips are made from purchased tortillas, cut into wedges and quickly fried into crispy little chips; then sprinkled with Ranch seasoning for flavor while on paper towels. No one needs to scroll down in a blog post and feel jipped.
I fight making breakfast since my stomach refuses to wake up until around brunch. Making a food dish to me means my tastes buds should be drooling over what the eyes and brain have seen, associated with and made a decision on. No one gets hungry for a breakfast with the cook looking like she is going to hurl her cookies across the kitchen just from the aroma. The solution for this unsightly problem is to find food ideas that appeal to my morning sense of adventure. I get excited over the aspect of creating something fresh and interesting. The Heuvos Rancheros breakfast was fun because all the elements pull together, looks beautiful, contain layers of great flavor, does not take long to make and is enough to wake up anyone's tummy!
Huevos Rancheros with Semi-Homemade Tortilla Chips
For the Chips:
Vegetable oil, for frying
8 corn tortillas, each cut into 8 wedges
1 1-ounce packet ranch dressing mix
For the Sauce:
5 plum tomatoes
1/2 medium white onion
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 to 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the Eggs:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 large eggs
1 avocado, halved, pitted and sliced
Fresh cilantro and crumbled feta cheese, for topping (optional)
Make the chips: Heat 3/4 inch vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F. Fry the tortillas in batches until golden, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon dressing mix. Make the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic and cook, turning, until the vegetables are charred, 5 to 7 minutes. Squeeze the garlic from its skin and cut the onion and tomatoes into chunks. Transfer to a blender; pulse with remaining dressing mix (about 2 tablespoons), the chipotles and half of the beans until smooth. Heat the olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the pureed mixture and the remaining beans and cook until thick, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.
Make the eggs: Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Fry the eggs in batches until the whites are set, adding more butter as needed. Divide the sauce among shallow bowls; top each serving with 2 eggs, some ranch chips and avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese, if desired.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Time Grilling - Shrimp Tacos with Tequila Refried Beans

Grilling can be alarming for some and a natural way of cooking for others. A person definitely needs to practice to get timing, color, and amount of heat down. Nothing worse then nibbling on charcoal. At least, if the BBQ is not done, you can go back and grill.Seafood is pretty easy. Smaller portions and smaller actual sizes to work with. Fast grilling, less mess and more time to enjoy good food with family and friends. The shrimp taco shells in the recipe below are even wrapped in aluminum foil and set on the grill. The refried beans are done on the stove top. I know. You knew it was to good to be true!

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Time: 30
Serves: 4
For the Shrimp Tacos:
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
1 T. olive oil
2 t. chili powder
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (24)
8 flour tortillas
For the Chipotle Sauce:
1/2 c. mayonnaise or sour cream
1 1/2 t. minced chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 1/2 t. honey
1 t. fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
For the Red Slaw:
4 c. shredded red cabbage
1/2 c. sliced scallions
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 T. olive oil
1 T. distilled white vinegar
Salt to taste

Whisk together 1/2 c. lime juice, 1 T. oil, and chili powder for the tacos. Add shrimp and chill until ready to skewer.

Preheat one side of the grill to medium-high and the other side to medium-low.

Whisk together mayonnaise, chipotle's, honey, and 1 t. lime juice for the sauce. Season with salt and chill until ready to serve, or up to 1 hour.

Combine cabbage, scallions, cilantro, 1 T. oil, and vinegar for the slaw. Season with salt and chill until ready to serve, or up to 1 hour.

Wrap tortillas in foil. Thread shrimp onto 4 metal or soaked bamboo skewers.

Grill foil-wrapped tortillas, covered, over medium-low heat, 3-4 minutes. Flip and grill 3-4 minutes more. Grill shrimp skewers, covered, over medium-high heat, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove tortillas and skewers from the grill.

To serve, divide slaw and shrimp among 8 tortillas; drizzle with sauce.

I also added Tequila refried beans to the base of the tortilla before adding fillings.

Tequila Refried Beans

Time: 20
Serves: 4
1/4 c. diced white onion
1 T. olive oil
1 t. minced fresh garlic
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground coriander
2 T. tequila or water
2 cans (15 oz. each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled feta cheese
Sliced serrano chile


Saute onion in oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, cumin, and coriander. Saute 1 minute. Deglaze pan with tequila; reduce until evaporated. Stir in beans and broth.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Crush beans with a potato masher and cook until soupy, 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Serve with cheese and chile slices.

Monday, June 14, 2010

TWD - Raisin Swirl Bread

It's Tuesday with Dorie Day! Susan of Food.Baby chose Raisin Swirl Bread for this week and what a delicious selection. I love all things bread and needed to work out a few bread baking kinks.I did alter a few things like add lemon zest instead of orange zest. I had half a lemon to use up. Fresh nutmeg is always fun to add!The concept "more is better" does not always fit. I omitted the raisins, doubled the sugar, used 1 T. cinnamon and 1 T. Valrhona cocoa powder for the filling. My swirl in the bread did not stay tight. My deduction is too much swirl filler. Maybe I am wrong so if anyone would like to jump in and add input, please do =). The raisin issue actually ended up being a great conversation piece. Hubby and I discussed in length whether we do or do not like raisins. For 10 years, I swore Larry didn't like raisins and I was pretty sure my taste buds said "no" too. Come to find out, neither of us "dislike" them. In fact, we both kind of do like them. I even found out he likes carrot salad with raisins. So do I! Crazy chicken stuff I tell you. AND the clincher to all this was I had already made the bread and it was happily rising while we were having this conversation. While the bread was rising, we decided to torture our two cats, Fluffy and Shadow by flying a stealth helicopter. Always makes for a great laugh!See? Wide, open swirl. I shake my head. The flavor is delicious, even with no raisins. Who knew, we like raisins. I am still in shock. You have just GOT to go see Susan's bread at Food.Baby, as was mentioned at the beginning of this post. Her bread is PERFECT! and check out the rest of the Tuesday with Dorie bakers because a few of the bakers have some pretty fun surprises and twists.

Spring/Summer to Busy to Sit Still

Sitting down in front of the computer to post a wonderful recipe, thoughts and ideas, or special events is so much harder to do when the sun is out, beckoning to us. Ashley, my daughter, had her 19th birthday yesterday. I definitely enjoyed decorating her chocolate on chocolate birthday cake and shaped cupcakes. Someone comes into the kitchen and asks you why you are smiling and there are a thousand memories swirling through your mind at that very moment, causing the smile. How do you answer? I think the love you feel is the answer.Then, there is the gardens. Flowers poking out everywhere among the weeds. A person would think the flowers would go into rebellion from lack of care but Washington coast has been swamped with rain. The flower buds have been turning brown before even opening from to much rain. Always makes me feel so sad inside. The sun popped out and so did the petals! Of course I couldn't wait to dig in some dirt.The kitchen always calls to me. Thank goodness I have a large window to look out over nature and my garden while I cook or people in my home might be going hungry. I have long admired recipes involving layers of delicate crepes with light mousse or custard fillings.
Discovery of a recipe called Meyer Lemon Crepe Cake was all I needed to see. I knew we needed to make this dessert. Martha Stewart magazine was the culprit and my family was happy for the inspiration. So was I!
Meyer Lemon Crepe Cake
Time: 90
Serves: 10
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 c. whole milk, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 T. pure vanilla extract
6 T. cold unsalted butter, melted plus more, melted for crepe pan
1/4 c. heavy cream to be whipped at the end for topping cake
1 t. unflavored gelatin (from one 1/4 ounce envelope)
1 T. cold water
4 large eggs plus 6 large egg yolks
1 c. sugar
1 T. plus 2 t. finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from 2 lemons), plus
3/4 c. fresh Meyer lemon juice (5 to 6 lemons)
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c. heavy cream, whipped
1. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually pour milk mixture into flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Whisk in butter. Pour through a fine sieve into an airtight container; discard lumps. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Lightly coat a 6-inch or 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet with butter. Heat over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Remove from heat; pour about 2 Tablespoons batter into center. Swirl to cover bottom. Reduce heat to medium-low; return pan to heat. Cook until edges are golden and center is dry, about 30 seconds per side.

3. Slide crepe onto an overturned plate. Repeat with remaining batter, coating pan with butter as needed, and stacking crepes. Let cool.
4. Place 1 crepe on a flat serving dish. Spread about 1/4 cup lemon curd mousse onto crepe. Top with 1 crepe.

Continue layering crepes and mousse. (use about 15 crepes, ending with a crepe on top.) Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
5. Top crepe cake with whipped cream and if you can find them, candied lemon peel. DIRECTIONS FOR LEMON CURD MOUSSE:
1. Sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisk together eggs and yolks in a heavy small saucepan. Whisk in sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10-12 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat; add gelatin, stirring constantly, until gelatin dissolves and mixture is slightly cool. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, stirring after each addition, until smooth.
4. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula to remove as much curd as possible; discard any undissolved bits of gelatin and egg. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until set. at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir curd, and gently fold in whipped cream. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Stir before using. Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Magazine.