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Loroco Filling for Pupusas

Loroco, thawing in water.

Someone from El Salvador told me that my Pupusas are pretty good. He tried to describe one thing that was missing, though. Something his mother used. He didn’t know the name…didn’t know how to describe it. What I took from his attempt was that it was some kind of small pepper that you ate with the pupusas. But he said you couldn’t find them locally. The closest store was more than 20 miles away. He asked his mother for the name and she said it’s called “loroco”.

Now, I had a name and could do some research! It turns out that it’s an unopened flower bud…similar idea to a caper, but not pickled. It does have a kind of briny, slightly sour flavor. It’s vegetal and very distinctive. I happened to find a package of frozen loroco at a local Latino store. You aren’t likely to find it in any other type of store. But, if you find it, I recommend you try it! If you’re exploring pupusas, this filling is pretty simple.

The pupusa techniques take a little more practice. It’s basically corn tortilla dough, made from masa harina, a bit thicker than a tortilla. It starts as a ball, about the size of a golf ball, formed into a little cup shape, a small amount of filling, cup closed, and then flattened…but not too thin. I use a tortilla press, but don’t flatten it completely. If a little filling is visible, its not a problem.

The pupusas are cooked on a hot griddle, a few minutes on each side, until browned. I have made a meat filling previously, and a cheese one. The loroco one is a variation on a cheese filling. I just kind of made it up, but had read a couple of recipes that call for farmer cheese. I used cottage cheese instead.

Started with about 1/3 cup frozen of loroco, thawed in some water, and drained. Add 1/2 cup of whole milk mozzarella, shredded.

Loroco and shredded mozzarella.

The next thing is 1/3 cup of cottage cheese, a pinch of salt, and stir to combine. While the pupusas are cooking, you can really smell the loroco. In fact, the person that told me about it, walked by while mine were on the griddle, and he recognized the smell! He tried the first one and I got his enthusiastic stamp of approval!

Loroco Pupusa

While in process, I missed the opportunity to get some photos that I should have, but I thought this would be worth posting anyway. There are instructions on making pupusas, elsewhere on the interwebs.

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Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Filling

Chicken Enchiladas

Guess who finally got an Instant Pot for Christmas?! Yup, that would be me. Just getting my feet wet and, so far, I’ve made vegetable beef soup, a vegetarian vegetable soup (that really needed some tomato paste), and today’s recipe: Chicken Enchilada Filling.

The ingredients are:

1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast, trimmed

1 can Red Enchilada Sauce

1 can Green Chilies, chopped/diced

1 large garlic clove, crushed, skin removed

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. dried oregano

pinch of salt

Just enough water to rinse cans…maybe a few tablespoons

 

Everybody in the pool!

 

Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot. Set to Pressure Cook, high pressure, for 20 minutes. (Make sure steam vent is closed!) When time is done, you can let the pressure dissipate naturally, or CAREFULLY open the vent to manually release the steam.

20 minutes later….

After cooking, I separated the chicken into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and popped it into the refrigerator to chill, so I will be able to handle it and pull it into shreds later.

Chicken…needs to cool off before pulling.

I poured the sauce into a bowl and refrigerated it, as well.

Spicy sauce!

I tasted the sauce, and it is pretty spicy, for me. I’m assuming that the reason for that is the enchilada sauce. I used Old El Paso brand Red Enchilada Sauce, and it is labeled “medium”. I may wind up using a milder sauce for the enchiladas, and serving this sauce on the side, so people can use it if they want to spice theirs up, or use it on rice. Not all of us like it painfully spicy. Note to self: buy more milk and sour cream.

So, next day…decided to make a mild enchilada sauce that I found online. If anyone is interested, I can give you the link. It was pretty simple.

I warmed the chicken in the microwave briefly…just enough to make it easy to pull apart by hand. I also added some of the mild enchilada sauce to it, to make the filling.

Pulled chicken with some mild enchilada sauce added.

The sauce that resulted from the chicken cooking, I modified with a sprinkle of sugar…maybe a teaspoon, at most… and then I combined a couple tablespoons of olive oil with about a tablespoon of flour. After mixing that in until smooth, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. This mixture was mixed well and then blended into the sauce. I microwaved the sauce for 2-1/2 minutes, covered,  to bring to a simmer. Now, for enchilada assembly. I sprayed  the bottom of my casserole dish non-stick spray and lined it with parchment paper…and sprayed it again. Should make for easy clean-up! Some of my original spicy sauce went on the bottom for a foundation. (It wasn’t much, so it didn’t overpower the dish.) Being a Gringo, I like flour tortillas and they work well for this dish. You could use warmed corn tortillas, if you prefer. The warming makes either type more pliable for rolling.

Ingredients for the Chicken Enchiladas, ready for assembly.

So, a couple of tablespoons of the chicken filling, a sprinkle of finely shredded cheese, and roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until filling is used up, or dish is full.

Fill the tortillas.

Fill the baking dish. (I had a few bits of chicken left, so I sprinkled it on top.)

Next, cover with enchilada sauce…this is the mild stuff…then a layer of cheese.

Oven ready!

Pop into an oven, preheated to 350F for about 25 to 30 minutes. Its just about heating the filling and melting the cheese. When mine was done, I dropped the the oven temperature to 190F, to keep it warm until I was ready to serve it.

Ready to serve!

I served mine with some yellow rice…spicy enchilada sauce was available to anyone who wanted it. (I used up all the mild in assembling the dish.) The final product was delicious! Definitely will do this again. Enjoy!

The basic serving.

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Corn and Salsa Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

Southwest Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

A spiralizer has been sitting around in my closet for quite some time, gathering dust. Something recently caught my attention and prompted me to buy a couple of zucchinis and dust that puppy off. Being that it is Summer, and the height of fresh veggie season, now is the time to do it!

First thing I did was set up the spiralizer with the smaller of the string settings.

Spiralizer and a few ingredients

I washed and trimmed the ends off of two zucchinis and ran them through the process.

Zucchini “noodles”

The center remains as a long “rod”, about the thickness of a pencil. I cut those into little chunks and set them aside. I added two or three good pinches of salt to the “noodles” and tossed them well. I set those aside, while I assembled my other ingredients: about a half of a cup of corn (fresh, cooked on the cobb, and removed), a half cup of salsa, the zucchini core pieces, a minced garlic glove, and a few grinds of black pepper.

In a 10″ nonstick skillet (or wok, if you prefer), add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. When melted and bubbling, add the veggies, except for the “noodles”.

Corn, zucchini pieces fron core, garlic clove.

Toss to saute for a minute, the add salsa. Make sure it’s all heated through, then add the zucchini noodles.

Almost done!

If there isn’t too much salt, it should be okay to toss straight in. If you think you added too much, rinse and drain before adding to the skillet. Toss the mixture a couple of times, to coat the noodles, cooking for a minute or so. Cover and steam for a minute. Add the black pepper and adjust seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with cheese of your choice, if desired. If I had some fresh cilantro on hand, I would have added a handful of leaves at the last minute.

The Final product…yum!

And let me say, if you’ve never tried the spiralized zucchini noodle thing, you will be pretty amazed. They really do feel like noodles, with just a slight crunch. Both my wife and daughter thought I had mixed regular thin spaghetti noodles in with the zucchini. Of course, this could be sauced an endless number of ways, and with different veggies. Also, with or without meat. I might try an alfredo next….

 

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Soup for One from Home Canned Pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

I have several pint jars of pumpkin sitting in my pantry that I canned after Halloween this year. I decided to pop open a jar and make some soup!

First, I drained the liquid from the pumpkin and transferred it to a small saucepan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

(If you substitute store-bought canned pumpkin, you might need to ADD a little water, as it is “solid pack”, meaning that it has had a bunch of water removed.) Then I added about 1/3 cup of buttermilk and a pinch each of powdered ginger, garlic powder, salt, fresh black pepper, and ground coriander.

Spices and buttermilk added.

Spices and buttermilk added.

I combined those ingredients until smooth, using a hand blender, while I brought the soup up to temperature over medium-high heat. I decided to add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of half’n’half and blend that in as well.

Blended, with half'n'half added.

Blended, with half’n’half added.

To have a little more fun, I added croutons to the glass canning jar that the pumpkin had been in, and topped them with about a 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

I poured the soup over the cheese and croutons and stirred. It was stringy with hot cheese and tasted like a soup and grilled cheese sandwich, all blended together!

Soup!

Soup!

Obviously, you could just eat the soup, without the croutons and cheese. You could vary the flavor by changing the flavor of croutons and/or the type of cheese. Also, you could vary the spices added to the soup. Cumin, instead of coriander; mustard powder, rather than garlic; add some chicken stock for a non-vegetarian option. It’s a versatile little soup that you can spice to suit your tastes, plus it’s quick and easy! Enjoy!

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Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits…MMM!

I have used the following recipe with great success and it’s very simple. I highly recommend it and give credit where credit is due. Please note the copyright included below and do not copy, forward, or print any of the contents without it!

>>>Recipe: Classic 3-Ingredient Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 12 min | Yield: About 6 to 12 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cold soft, winter wheat, self-rising Southern flour (like White Lily brand)
  • 1/4 cup very cold butter, shortening or lard
  • 3/4 cup cold real buttermilk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch cast iron skillet with additional shortening or oil and place into the oven for 5 minutes. Put the flour into a bowl and cut the very cold butter into cubes and toss in the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until it is crumbly. Add buttermilk and use a fork to mix very lightly. Dough will be very shaggy.

Put a bit of additional flour on the countertop and scoop dough out. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top and gently push together to form a rectangle. Do not overhandle the dough. Take the short sides of the rectangle and fold them in toward the middle, turn the dough, gently press down into a rectangle again and repeat. Repeat this folding once more and pat into desired thickness, usually about an inch. This folding creates flaky layers in the biscuits.

Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a small juice glass, cut out into rounds, taking care not to twist the cutter and gently gather scraps for the last biscuits. Transfer biscuits to the prepared skillet or baking pan and bake at 500 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through.

Cook’s Notes: This recipe uses self-rising, Southern soft wheat flour. Do not use regular all purpose flour.

To Freeze: Prepare as above, except set down parchment on or butter a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once you’ve cut out the biscuits lay them out on the pan, freeze until they are set and then transfer to a freezer bag. To bake, reduce oven temp to 375 degrees F, and bake until browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more or less, checking at 22.

Herbed Biscuit Variation: Add up to 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herbs. Good choices include sage, chives, parsley, dill, thyme, or a combination. Reduce to about 2 teaspoons max if using dried herbs. Make biscuits a smaller tea size for a potluck, church supper or a party and fill with Chutney Chicken Salad.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com<<<          http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2008/10/perfect-buttermilk-biscuits.html#axzz3hsC3wqoy

Mmmm...cheesy deliciousness!

Mmmm…cheesy deliciousness!

Now, my variation is to add a scant half teaspoon of garlic powder and a half cup of fine shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the flour and mix well, AFTER cutting in the butter and BEFORE adding the buttermilk. (You could add some parsley or chives, but my kids would refuse them if they had green specks, so I didn’t.)

In the oven.

In the oven.

And I brush the biscuits with melted garlic butter when they come out of the oven.

Done! Garlic buttered!

Done! Garlic buttered!

Great to go with dinner! Enjoy!

Oh YEAH, Babe!

Oh YEAH, Babe!

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Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese and Cream of Mushroom Soup

IMG_20150714_180756193

So, I’ve had this really easy recipe for a chicken dish that I got out of Southern Living Magazine decades ago. It’s boneless chicken, swiss cheese, cream of mushroom soup, white wine, bread crumbs and melted butter…baked for 45 minutes at 350F. Now that I have to cook for a vegetarian, I need to try some new things. I was looking for something to do with yellow squash from my garden and I decided to make this recipe.

Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese & Cream of Mushroom Soup

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

5 c. Yellow Squash. cut into approx. 1″ cubes

1 medium Sweet Onion, thinly sliced

1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

About 2 cups of Shredded Swiss Cheese

2 cups Plain Panko Bread Crumbs

1/4-1/3 c. Dry White Wine

Salt & Pepper, to taste

5 T. Butter, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saute pan, melt 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, but not browned. Spread the onions evenly over the bottom of a large casserole dish.

Sauteing onions

Sauteing onions

Cover with yellow squash and season with salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute the shredded swiss cheese over the squash.

Swiss cheese.

Swiss cheese.

In a bowl, mix the cream of mushroom soup and the wine. Ladle the soup mixture over the casserole, to cover.

Mushroom soup layer.

Mushroom soup layer.

Next, cover the casserole with the panko bread crumbs. Melt the remaining 3 T. butter and drizzle over the bread crumbs.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 40minutes, until bubbling throughout. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve hot, over rice.

Served over rice...yum!

Served over rice…yum!

Vegetarian approved…and I liked it too! Enjoy!

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Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

Pesto Bechamel Lasagna with Artichokes and Pine Nuts

I decided to create this lasagna after having seen similar ingredients used in a different dish. I thought,”Ooh, that would make a great lasagna!”. So, I picked up a few ingredients at the grocery store that I didn’t already have on hand and I sat down and wrote the recipe.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

Most of the ingredients for the lasagna.

As I worked my way through the recipe, I tweaked it to follow what I actually found while making the dish. A couple of observations: I had three layers and no problems. I used an 11″x13″ baking dish and I had to break a few noodles to fill in some space where whole noodles would not fit…no problem. You could use a smaller dish and make more layers, but make sure you leave some room at the top, so that the sauce won’t bubble out while cooking. Also, I started with 8oz of mozzarella and upped it to 12oz, because I ran out and opened another bag. On the other hand, I didn’t quite use all of the parmesan cheese. Cheese should be to your liking. Additionally, I used cottage cheese, instead of ricotta, because I don’t care for ricotta. To me, it’s just to dense and pastey. The cottage cheese is lighter and creamy. I bought a one pound container and used a little over half. The toasted pine nuts were a terrific addition. You could skip them…I know that they are expensive, but a few tablespoons really make a big difference!

So good!!!

So good!!!

Toasting pine nuts...carefully!

Toasting pine nuts…carefully!

I also made some fettucine alfredo for my kids and had a little extra alfredo sauce, so I drizzled a little on the top of my serving. It wasn’t really necessary, but it looked nice. I didn’t have any leftover pesto bechamel, but if I had, I would have used it for a little drizzle. Finally, I chopped whole artichoke bottoms into a medium dice.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

Chopping canned artichoke bottoms.

You could use hearts, if you like, but sometimes you get a fibrous leaf or two…no big deal, but maybe not the best idea for guests. And I don’t think you would want to use “marinated” artichokes…just plain, canned. My wife thanked me for leaving out mushrooms…she has lost her taste for them recently, for some reason. But, in my head, I was thinking how good some sautéed mushrooms would have been! I hope you’ll try this recipe! If you do, leave me a comment on what you think of the recipe…and enjoy!

Pesto & Artichoke Béchamel Lasagna

(Using “No Boil” Noodles)

Ingredients:

1 box “No Boil” Lasagna Noodles

1 small jar prepared Pesto

1 12oz bag shredded Mozzarella (or more, if you like)

1 8oz bag shredded Parmesan

1 container small curd Cottage Cheese (or Ricotta)

1 can Artichoke Bottoms, drained and chopped medium

2 T. Pine Nuts, toasted (for garnish)

For the Béchamel:

2 c. Half’n’Half

1 c. 1% Milk

1 small Shallot, chopped fine (or sub. sweet onion and a garlic clove)

3 T. Butter

3 T. all-purpose Flour

2 c. Vegetable Stock

Pinch of Salt

 

Directions:

Make the béchamel. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Sauté shallot for 2 minutes, whisk in Flour, whisk until the Flour and Butter are well combined. Add Half’n’Half and Milk. Increase heat and bring to a simmer and allow to thicken/reduce for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and continue to simmer for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in jar of Pesto.

Roux

Roux

Bechamel

Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Pesto Bechamel

Assemble the Lasagna: Cover the bottom of an 11”x13” baking dish with Béchamel. Cover the béchamel with Lasagna Noodles and cover with Béchamel.

IMG_20150302_164220871

Start with pesto bechamel.

Dot the surface with small spoonsful of Cottage Cheese (or ricotta). Next, spread a layer of Mozzarella Cheese and follow with a light layer of Parmesan. Evenly sprinkle chopped Artichokes. Repeat with another layer and then finish with Béchamel and Cheeses.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Lasagna noodles and toppings.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375F for 50 minutes.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

Baked for 50 minutes, covered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered.

After another 10 minutes, uncovered. Garnished with pine nuts.

Remove foil and put under a broiler for a couple of minutes to brown a bit and bubble the cheese on top (or bake additional 10 minutes). Allow to set up for a couple of minutes while toasting the Pine Nuts in a small frying pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes…move frequently and do not burn! Sprinkle Pine Nuts evenly over the lasagna, cut into squares and serve.

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