Archive | February, 2013

Chicken Curry Pot Pies

28 Feb

Curried Chicken Pot Pie 008

Nothing says home cookin’ like a pot pie, except someone who consistently practices saying “home cookin'” and should get their ass kicked.  Like many people, I went through my frozen Marie Callender’s pot pie phase in my early twenties and, yes, my nose effused sodium, I spoke thickly for some reason,  and I turned into a doughy, paste-y specimen of a human.  Once I hit my late twenties and early thirties, I needed to keep my ankles in shape, so I quit the store-bought pot pies.

And then I learned that making pot pies isn’t really that big of a deal, and there are shortcuts to be had, and they can be made so that you will not have to buy an early grave.  The first one I made was an Ina Garten recipe and, yes, it’s indulgent and fattening and beautiful.  But one can put all sorts o’ goodies into pies, and tonight I made a keeper.  My good sense told me not to eat the whole damn thing even though my wife almost had to hold my arm behind my back and tazer me to stop.  This pot pie was that good.  So, some background is needed.

I have said before that I am an Anglo- and Hiberno-phile, meaning a lover of things English and Irish.  Savory pies, some might call them pasties, are a staple of the British isles and Ireland.  Also, because of England’s cunning use of flags (thanks Eddie Izzard), they dominated India for many years, and they managed to steal curry from them, amongst other things, and they stole the word “pajamas” (no joke…look it up).

British pub chicken curry is a nut buster if ever there was one.  If you’re ever in Fullerton or Santa Ana, California, go to The Olde Ship and you’ll understand the beauty of pub curry.  One of the best indulgences I’ve ever eaten was French fries with curry sauce on them, and I got those in Ireland.  Granted, I had about 10 Guinnesses and some whisky in me to boot, but I still was touched on an emotional level and right after crawled to my hostel near the Galway road.

I know that there are pie shops in England that sell curried chicken pies, so I decided to do some investigating.  It started with me deciding that I wanted to make pot pies tonight with my thawed chicken breasts, the boring bastards that they are.  I looked through my mom’s old recipe book and found a pot pie recipe, so that gave me direction.  I have had a hankering for curry for a few weeks, so the perfect storm arose: I searched for some pot pie recipes and decided to get creative and improvise a bit.

The result is the recipe below, and I even impressed myself with this one, and it’s totally fucking easy.  While a normal pot pie might be a “cold weather” dish, this Chicken Curry Pot Pie is a year round option.  It’s easy to make, savory, and delicious, to be sure.  Better yet, this is not that bad for you.  It has around 14 grams of fat a serving (500 calories or something), and if you notice the ingredients, they’re not bad.  Other pot pies are loaded with butter, but these are rich without the fat.

Chicken Curry Pot Pies

Makes 4 in oven-proof small baking dishes (they should hold 2 cups  or so each)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. curry powder

2 cups peeled, diced potatoes

1 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped carrots

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces (1/2″ cubes)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup thawed frozen green peas

1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. cornstarch

3 tbsp. water

1/2 cup low fat cream cheese (1/2 of a brick)

1 box of store bought pie crusts (this was a shortcut that totally paid off), or a recipe to make 2 pie crusts

1 egg, beaten

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the curry powder and let it get happy for a minute as you stir it in and get a paste-y thing going.  Add the potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, and chicken.  Cook this, stirring often like stir fry, for about five to seven minutes to get the chicken done. Then add in the broth, mushrooms, peas, apple , salt, and pepper.  Get it bubbling, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook it for another 5 minutes until the mushrooms are a bit juicy.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water, whisking it to mix it well.  Add this and the cream cheese to the veggies and chicken skillet.  Mix this and cook it until the cream cheese is melted and it’s all thickened.  This is easy peasy.

Divide the filling evenly between the four bowls.  Brush the rims and sides of the bowls with the beaten egg.  Unroll the pie crusts (or roll out the pie crusts until they’re  about 11″ in diameter), and, using a similar bowl to measure roughly, cut out circles that will overhang the pie bowls about an inch or two.  You will need to roll together the scraps and cut the last two crusts from it.  Drape this over the bowls and press the dough onto the rim and the sides of each bowl.

Brush the dough on each pie with the rest of the egg wash.  Cut a few slits into each pie to let the steam escape.  Put the pies on a baking sheet (it catches the bubbly filling that might spill over) and put them in the oven for 30 minutes, until the tops are golden and gorgeous, like this:

Curried Chicken Pot Pie 001

And when you put your fork into it, it will look like this:

Curried Chicken Pot Pie 011

I’m not kidding when I say that this was one of the easiest pies I’ve ever made, and one of the most unbelievably bitchin’ ones I’ve ever tasted.  If you make this for company, everybody’s happy as long as they like curry.

Enjoy.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Advertisements

A Panty-Dropping Bruschetta and a Panty-Dropping Cocktail

26 Feb

Panty-Dropping Bruschetta

Today, you get a two for one, and both will drop your panties, if you’re even wearing them.  The recipes will follow.

When I was a bartender at T.G.I. Chotchki’s, I made a drink called a Panty Dropper.  In essence, it’s a raspberry lemon drop.  I got more ladies buzzed on that shot than I can remember, and I believe my lovely wife was one of them.  Every time I made one, ladies would order a few right after it, not thinking that they were potent because they tasted like a raspberry lemonade.  After about three of them, they realized the error of their ways and the levity around the bar began.  If you ever want a solid night’s entertainment, bartend at a hopping place and watch the dynamics after people grease their necks a bit.  Wedding rings disappear, vows are made, promotions are given, politics are discussed, crushes get revealed, bets are made, and, you guessed it, panties drop, the most impetuous instance, I would guess, being in the parking structure behind the restaurant.  The human condition is rarely quite as transparent than at any good bar.

That being said, now that I don my husband/ father/ teacher/ grown-up hat in the world these days, such libidinous revelry isn’t had.  But, I still have found an appetizer that might get panties to drop considering that, every time I’ve made it, I hear sighing, moaning, and disbelief issuing from the females enjoying it.  No joke.  I hear that barely audible behind-the-bedroom-door-only “oh my god,” and I know I’ve nailed it.  Chicks dig the Panty-Dropping Bruschetta, and I think I know why.

This has everything for which ladies long in terms of ingredients, and the portions are small and light.  Guys, if you’re reading this, this appetizer is what the ladies order when they go out for a “girls’ night” and talk about feelings, chardonnay, Macy’s, Downton Abbey, candles, and sex (they ARE more lascivious than we are, I have learned through the years). When we go out with them, they’ll eat the jalapeno poppers and wings to nurture our egos, but those are not their first choices.  If poppers and wings equal the hardcore porn mostly consumed by men, then this Panty-Dropping Bruschetta is a romance novel with Channing Tatum modeling for the cover while mending his lover’s blouse.  Make it and you will see.

So without further ado…

Panty-Dropping Bruschetta 

Makes enough for about 6 to 8 people, I would think

Ingredients:

2 French baguettes, sliced on an angle into 1/2″ thick slices

1 large log or 2 small logs of plain chevre, better known as goat cheese

8 Roma tomatoes, sliced about 1/2″ thick

Salt and Pepper

good olive oil (it matters in this recipe because it’s part of the overall flavor)

good balsamic vinegar (same thing with this stuff)

fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade (Roll the basil leaves together tightly and slice the basil log thinly.  This will make thin wispies of it.)

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 425°.  Arrange the baguette slices on some baking sheets in an even layer.  Take a little bowl of the olive oil and brush each slice daintily with the oil, just to kiss it and not to drown it.  Put them in the oven for about 5 plus minutes, until the edges are a bit brown, but be careful not to burn them.  They just need to get a bit crisp.  You might have to bake these in batches, by the way.

Once the bread (crostini, if you will) is done, smear each slice with about 1 to 2 teaspoons of goat cheese.  You know, a good schmear.  Top this with a tomato slice.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the tomato itself.  Try one to see if you have the right amount of salt and pepper.

Take a few wisps of the basil and drape it over the tomato.  Drizzle this with more olive oil and some balsamic vinegar (again, use restraint…you just want to tickle them with the flavors and balsamic can take over quickly).

Bob’s your Uncle.  After I get one down the way I like it, I set up an assembly line and it goes much more quickly.  Arrange them sexily on a platter and prepare for the ensuing licentious sound effects.

The Panty Dropper a la Jonny Precious

(I know there are lots of versions of this drink.  This is just my version, but it’s still the best one.)

Makes 1

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Stoli Orang

1/2 oz. Triple Sex, oops, I mean Triple Sec

1/2 oz. Chambord or a comparable raspberry liqueur

the juice from 1/2 a lemon

Makin’ It:

Chill a martini glass and then coat the rim in sugar.

Squeeze the lemon into a mixing tin and then add all of the liquor.  Add in a good scoop o’ ice, top the mixing tin with a glass or topper, and shake the hell out of it.  The idea is to get the ice to chip off into the drink, so when you pour it, the surface will have ice crystals on it.

Strain it into the martini glass and, again, watch what happens with the ladies.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Chicken Gyros Easy Peasy

20 Feb

gyros 006

In Santa Maria, California, where we live, the food scene flat out sucks.  If you want steak, we have the best damn steakhouses around.  Mexican food?  Ubiquitous.  We have burger joints that will make your knees shake.  But beyond these types o’ places, you need to travel a bit.  For example, the best Italian food, besides my house, is at Olive Garden.  I suppose that I’m spoiled from living in Southern California for the first 33 years of my life.  The irony is that, down in O.C., we had problems figuring out where to eat because there were too many options.

Every time I see a new restaurant getting set to open here in the SMC, I wistfully hope for something new, something different, something original, or something that will just make me optimistic about this town.  But 99% of the time, it’s a fucking steak house or Mexican restaurant that opens, leaving me to curse my fate and stomp in circles in front of their “new” restaurant while talking to myself in tongues (I’ve become popular in this regard, at least).

Good Mediterranean food just can’t be found around here.  If a pizza-type Greek place opens up, it usually lasts a year or two and then it folds up without fanfare.  There is a place north of here, in Nipomo, California, called Antonio’s which is about as close to authentic as one could get.  But it is a bit pricey for a young family, so I have to suffer without gyros and moussaka and the like.  On the positive side, it gives me the impetus to branch out and start making Greek food.

I got the gyro recipe below online at  http://basil-albi.blogspot.com/2011/11/chicken-gyros-with-tzatziki-sauce.html?m=1.

It didn’t  have much in the way of explaining the process, but the recipe itself is a keeper.  I have always wondered what made gyros taste the way they do.  This recipe showed me.  It’s easy and quick, too, kiddo.  The grill pan gets a bit juicy, but it doesn’t burn like a BBQ sauce or Asian sauce does.  An outside grill would have no problems.

Chicken Gyros Easy Peasy

Makes about 6 Gyros

Chicken Marinade Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into slices or strips

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. chopped garlic (yes, there’s a lot of it)

1 tsp. dried oregano (I am thinking fresh would kick ass here)

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. salt

Makin’ the Marinade:

Mix everything up in a zip-lock bag or a non-reactive dish that you can cover.  Put it in the fridge for an hour or until you’re ready. Mix it up every so often.

When you’re ready, take out the strips and shake off the excess marinade.  Grill them over medium high heat until cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes total.

Tzatziki Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup of roughly chopped cucumber

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp. chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/4 tsp. salt

Makin’ the Sauce:

Put everything in a food processor and pulse it until the chunks are broken down fairly well.  You still want texture, so don’t go nuts on this and let it puree while you make a cocktail.  If you don’t have a food processor, just chop everything finely and blend them together well.  Either way, put it into a dish in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

If you’re in a hurry, get the tzatziki sauce from Trader Joe’s or someplace comparable and you’ll be fine.  But, the homemade still kicks the store-bought sauce in the nuts with puissance.

Stuff to Build the Gyro

Pita bread

sliced red onion

lettuce

tomato

Sriracha (me only, unless you too are obsessed)

Put it all together and you get this:

gyros 007

I made these Greek potatoes to go with this using Bobby Flay’s recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/greek-potatoes-with-lemon-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html.

They were unreal, but be sure to flip them regularly or you’ll have some serious charring going on.  The flavor was perfect with the gyros.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Frittelle di Cavolfiore (Cauliflower Fritters)

17 Feb

015

Cauliflower Fritter 2

I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern when I make my comfort food.  I always think that no one will like it. Yet when I bring it into the English teacher workroom, everybody wants to try it, and lo and behold, they dig on it.  I’ve never had anyone, and I mean anyone, not like these fritters unless they’re lying bastards, which they could be without a doubt, especially in my English department.

For whatever reason, I think my pessimism is residual bashfulness from my childhood.  My family was different from the “normal” American family, whatever that means.  My pop, who has a thick accent, never watched football on Sundays because he was rebuilding classic MGs and couldn’t care less about football.  I could be late for anything, including church and school, but not for dinner.  I might belabor this point if I didn’t know there are a shitload of “You know you’re Italian if…” lists out there, so you get the point.

Personally, I never brought a girlfriend to a family gathering until my late teens/ early twenties. I think I was self-conscious because I thought she wouldn’t like the food or would think I was abnormal based on the family.  That first time I did bring her to a family party, right after we left she said to me, “You know how different your family is, right?”  I realize now that she meant it as a compliment…something of which I should be proud.  I got offended.  I told her that America is a melting pot, goddammit, and that we are part of the fabric.  I was right, but we are “different” too. I have since lightened up quite a bit, obviously.

After My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out, I remember my cousin asking me, “Did you see that movie?!?  It’s our family!”  So true was she, except that we’re Italian and not Greek.  At our family gatherings, everyone yells and gets passionate, yet we’re not pissed at each other…most of the time.

Even now at our family gatherings, everything centers around food and drink, and I think the biggest difference between my parents’ generation and mine and my brothers’ is that the guys cook in this generation.  And with only one girl in this round of grand kids,  I think that tradition will continue.

My pop said he and his buddies would buy fried treats in Naples at little fry shops called friggitorie.  My aunts, nonna, and mom made these regularly and they are absolutely delightful.

Frittele di Cavolfiore (Cauliflower Fritters)

Makes a bunch of ’em…enough for six I would think.

Ingredients:

1 big head o’ cauliflower, stemmed and broken into florets (I am guessing a bag o’ florets would work too, but you’d be ghetto and lazy, of course)

1 to 1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup of milk

2 eggs

salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp. of each works for me)

Vegetable oil for frying

Makin’ ‘Em:

First, you need to parboil the cauliflower, so steam the florets for about 10 minutes and drain. They’re ready when you stick a fork into a floret and it splits, but it isn’t mushy; they’ll have a moist firmness to them.

Then, as my mom told me, you need to make a savory pancake batter.  Mix the flour, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.  It shouldn’t be too thick, so that’s why you have to feel how much flour you need. Add in the drained cauliflower and mix it well, breaking up the florets with a metal spoon’s edge so there are chunks, rather than florets, of cauliflower in the batter.

In a big skillet, pour enough oil to fry, about 1/2 cup.  Get it hot enough so that a drop of water pops, dude.  Working in batches, drop 1/4 cup or so of the batter mix in the hot oil, and let it get golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes or so.  Using tongs and a fork, flip them carefully and brown the other side.  Drain them on paper towels and season them more with salt and pepper, but be careful not to over-salt them.  You should get this:

Cauliflower Fritter 3

Everyone except me eats them as is.  I love to dip them in ketchup mixed with sriracha or tabasco because I’m ghetto like that.  Truly, they need nothing, as you will taste.

Raise the glasses! Say it aloud and make the guests repeat!

Acqua fresca, vino puro, fica stretta, cazzo duro.

Buon Appetito!

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Butternut Squash and Pasta (Pasta e zucca)

15 Feb

Pasta e Zucca 2

Today’s recipe post is all about love.  ‘Tis Valentine’s Day, of course, so it follows that whatever I post needs to effuse passion and desire.  Squash and Pasta is it for me.  Out of all of the dishes with which I grew up, this is my favorite. On my birthdays, my mom would ask me what I wanted for dinner, and this is usually what I requested, even after I had moved away from home.

This is another dish that when I made it for my wife the first time, although I was a bit shy about serving it, she just stopped after the first bite and said, “Oh my god.” Now we both can’t wait for fall to begin so this can be on the menu again. I remember one time that we were expecting company and I thought about making this for guests.  I had called my mom that day for whatever reason and told her what I was making.  Her reply was, “Jon, you don’t make that for company.  That’s peasant food. It’s comfort food.”  And it’s true.  I think I’ve made it for one or two people and that’s about it. I don’t want to exaggerate, but this dish is me, pure and simple.  No matter the circumstances, this cheers me up and satisfies me to the core.

This is purely vegetarian, even vegan, come to think of it, but it still sticks to the ribs.  It’s also a fall/ winter dish and most Neopolitans will serve this regularly during those seasons.  Just like so many Italian dishes, it takes simple ingredients and makes them magical.  It’s also very healthful in that its only fat is olive oil, and you’re getting a good serving of veggies with it.  Although one might think it overkill to eat this with a good hunk o’ bread, that one person should fuck off because this sauce on warm bread is pure indulgence.

The recipe below is from Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz, but it tastes EXACTLY like my mom’s, who learned it from my nonna.  Like I said, this dish is love, so make it for that special someone and thank me later for the shenanigans after the meal and wine.

Butternut Squash and Pasta (Pasta e zucca)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 lbs. butternut squash, cubed into 1″ pieces (see below) (you can also use acorn squash)

1/3 cup olive oil

5 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. salt or to taste

5-6 cups water

1/2 spaghetti, broken into 1 1/2″ or slightly longer lengths (it’s peasant food, so it doesn’t have to be perfect, wise guy)

1/3 cup finely cut parsley, or 1 tbsp. dried

Parmigiano to serve

Makin’ It:

In a 3 quart or larger pot over medium-low heat, combine the oil and the garlic.  Cook the garlic until it’s soft and barely browning on both sides.  Press the garlic into the oil with the edge of a wooden spoon to get the flavor into the oil. Remove the garlic.

Add the cubed squash (again, see below) and the red pepper flakes.  Sprinkle this with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and raise the heat to medium-high.  Saute the squash, stirring fairly often, until it’s soft and starting to brown.  It almost gets gooey and stringy on the outside. This takes me about 12 to 15 minutes.  Some of the squash will stick to the bottom, which is okay, but don’t let it burn.

At this point, add the 5 to 6 cups of water, stir it well and scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and get it to a rolling boil.

Stir in the pasta and recover it until it returns to a boil. Once boiling uncover it and cook the pasta according to your taste (10 minutes normally for spaghetti).  As it cooks, stir it once in a while and smash some of the squash cubes against the side of the pot to thicken the water .   You can do this a lot and make it like a stew, or do it a few times and make it soupier…whatever blows your hair back (obviously, there’s no draining pasta in this dish).

Stir in the chopped parsley, and it looks like this:

Pasta e Zucca 3

Pass the parmigiano.  Serve it hot, like this:

Pasta e Zucca 4

Note:  Reheating this is good, but in the microwave, cover it and stir it every few seconds because it will pop and crackle like a mofo.

Cubing a Butternut Squash:

Lay the squash on its side and cut off the ends.  Slice it into 1″ thick disks (or close to it…it’s peasant food, dude), like this:

007

Scoop out the seeds of the disks that have them, and then peel each disk, like this:

008

Then, slice this into cubes, like this:

009

Bob’s your uncle. Do I get exactly two pounds of squash?  No.  I get a good size one and use all of it because I like a lot of squash.

If you try this and enjoy it, let me know.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Chilaquiles

11 Feb

Chilaquiles 005

Chilaquiles 015

I used to call this dish “Chili-killies” until I was instructed about the error in my pronunciation by some pretentious bastard, I’m sure.  But my relationship with chilaquiles has been fraught with problems over the years.  It wasn’t until recently that all became copacetic between me and this delectable breakfast or dinner treat.

The main problem I had with chilaquiles had nothing to do with the dish itself. Rather, it was a profound fuck up in the kitchen, one that dictated the direction of an entire Saturday, that scared me away from them so I wouldn’t have to relive that experience.  Let me explain in a more narrative voice…

It was a brisk Saturday morning and I, in my shorts and T-shirt, decided that I wanted to make something special for me and my lady for brekkie.  The idea of breakfast nachos appealed to me for whatever reason, so I reminisced about chilaquiles, a dish comprised of tortilla chips immersed in enchilada sauce, topped with cheese and eggs and all sorts o’ stuff.  This was my direction that morning.  I would make this happen.

So as I scoured the pantry in our 888 square-foot house, I noticed that I was out of a few items.  I needed pinto beans and tomato sauce, which required a quick trip to the store.  I made it there and back with no problem, and I proceeded to make the sauce.  Of course, the first time one makes anything, it always takes a bit longer, and I was in no hurry.  I then realized that, like a jackass, I forgot the tortilla chips.  So, in the car I went again down to the store and got some chips.  I admit, I was annoyed, which will make me hurry more than normal, which is bad news in the kitchen.

By this time, which was about an hour and half after I initially had decided on making this damn breakfast, my wifey woke up, rubbing her eyes because she doesn’t have balls to scratch.  She was as excited as I was about the prospect of chilaquiles that morning, and I was putting the finishing touches on this monster of a dish, laden with chips and beans and sauce and sour cream and cheese and you name it.  The oven was set at 350° and it was time for them to bake.

I believe my exact words to my wife were, “Look at this goddamn beautiful thing!”  The oven door was open and two racks were in there.  As I thrust the baking dish into the oven, its side hit the middle of the bottom rack.  Since I wasn’t expecting it, I fumbled with it.  The whole dish flipped forward, and with a giant whoosh and an ensuing sizzle, the entire mess of chilaquiles covered the racks, bottom, and sides of that piping hot oven.

In those three seconds, my entire Saturday’s course was decided for me.  There would be no picnics or wine tasting that day because I got the pleasure of cleaning the equivalent of meconium from an oven for about 4 hours.  It was such a fuck up that I couldn’t even be mad.

I hope that wasn’t too much story for little pay off. I think I just needed to reflect, and I do feel much better now.

Anyhow, these babies are easy to make as long as you don’t literally throw them in the oven as I did.  I found a recipe years ago online by someone named Jeanne Lemlin, but I have improvised with it quite a bit.   You can top them with nothing or with eggs any style.  In the pictures, those eggs are poached and there’s something about the yolk dripping over it that welcomes me.

Chilaquiles

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1 cup salsa (I dig on the hot stuff myself)

2 cups canned tomato sauce (1 14-15 oz. can is fine)

1/2 cup water

1 4 oz. can diced green chiles

1 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

1 bag o’ plain tortilla chips, about 8 cups of them

1 cup sour cream

2 cups cheddar, Mexican blend, or jack cheese

4 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup sliced black olives

2 eggs for every serving, any style (optional)

Makin’ It:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine the salsa, tomato sauce, water, chiles, beans, cumin, and oregano in a bowl and mix it well.  Pour about half of it in the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9″x 13″ one).  Top this with half of the chips, and crush them down a bit to make an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of half of the sour cream over the chips, and then sprinkle on half of the cheese.  Top this with the remaining chips, sauce, sour cream, cheese, and all of the olives.

Bake this guy for 35 minutes until it’s hot and bubbly, like Jessica Simpson.  Remove it from the oven and cut it into squares like a lasagna.  For each square, top it with some of the green onions and the eggs, if you’re doing that.

Chilaquiles 009

If you like some heat on this, the Trader Joe’s Habanero Sauce is no joke, by the way.  Careful. (http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=140)

So now I make chilaquiles with reckless abandon without the fear of oven cleaning or mispronunciation.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013

Easy Homemade Croutons

10 Feb

Easy Homemade Croutons 002

In one of my first posts, I mentioned that croutons are one of the items that I no longer buy.  I found a recipe by Guy Fieri years ago and I haven’t messed with it much.  But in those early posts, I put links instead of actual recipes.  As I made some of these nuggets o’ splendor today, I figured that it’s high time to write the actual recipe down and post it.

Guy’s recipe calls for stale bread.  I rarely have that around because crouton-makin’ bread usually gets eaten before it can get stale in this house.  A regular baguette works just fine for it; it has the right “inside,” too, because it doesn’t have too large of air pockets in it.  If you want to spice it up, add more cayenne to the seasoning blend.

The hardest part, if there is one, is making the garlic paste.  You can buy it, of course. But making it is simple. For this recipe, I use 4 cloves of garlic.  All you have to do is peel the cloves, cut the stem part off, and smash it with the side of a chef’s knife.  Then, sprinkle some salt on the smashed cloves (like 1/8 tsp.), and start smearing it across the cutting board with the side of your knife, back and forth, until it gets sticky and paste-y.  There will still be a few garlic fibers in it, but that’s okay.  Easy as a hooker with an oral fixation.

Easy Homemade Croutons (based on Guy Fieri’s recipe)

Makes A Lot (How’s that for specifics?)

Ingredients:

1 regular baguette, cut into 1″ cubes (or enough bread to make 4 to 5 cups o’ cubes)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

1/2 tsp. paprika (I have used smoked paprika, too, and it’s pretty damn good for a variation.)

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

2 to 3 tsp. garlic paste (see above in the intro)

1/3 cup o’ olive oil

Makin’ ‘Em:

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Combine all of the ingredients except the bread in a small bowl.  Put the bread cubes in a big tossing bowl (a toss pot, if you will).  Pour the oily herby mixture over the bread cubes.  Using your hands or a big ol’ spoon, toss the bread with the seasonings until all of the bread cubes are well covered in it.

Spread the cubes out on a baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake these for 30 minutes, turning them once after 15 minutes of baking.  Remove them from the oven and let cool until you’re ready to use them.  Store whatever you don’t use in an airtight container.  Piece of cake.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013