Mannequins, Markets, and Tortilla Espanola

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Ever feel like life is a roller coaster and every time is starts to slow down, it takes off again? In my case, perhaps a speeding train would be more like it. For the last year or so, I just seem to be headed to one experience after another. Throughout it all, I have enjoyed taking photos, but I haven’t taken the time to pause and do anything with them. Currently, my husband and I are living the dream (O.K. – maybe his dream!) of traveling around the United States in a motor home. Check out our travel blog at Yates RV Adventures. A couple of weeks ago, we were staying at a RV “resort” in Naples, Florida. These parks typically are a mix of prefab homes and recreational vehicles. As I was passing one of the homes, I was startled to see a mannequin guarding the door. My memory was jolted back to another mannequin I had seen when we were in Spain visiting my daughter Allison just several months ago. All of a sudden I realized I had tons of photos and lots of experiences from that trip that I had never shared or done anything with because the train I was on never slowed down. The Spanish mannequin I remembered was looking out onto the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid. It was the first of the many fabulous markets we encountered on that trip. It had booth after booth of beautiful produce, meat, and seafood. Best of all, it had delicious ready made food that could be eaten right there or taken away for a meal at home. One dish every market in Spain had was Tortilla Espanola. This Spanish tortilla is basically a very yummy potato torte and is a common every day food in Spain. A wedge of it could be an entre, or cut in squares and served with aioli, it is often part of a tapas spread. The lady of the house where Allison was staying made it for us one night for supper and I saw how simple and easy it was to make. In this post are photos of some markets we saw on our travels. Below them is a recipe for Tortilla Espanola.

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The classy senorita on the left overlooks the Mercado de San Miguel. The American mannequin on the right surveys the trailer park.

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Above is the beautiful Mercado de San Miguel, a wonderful market in San Miguel Plaza in Madrid.

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This is a shot of my daughter Jennifer walking into a market in Porto, Portugal. Whether they were big or small, these places of commerce offered fresh meat and produce and we thought they were all charming.

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The Mercado de Ribeira in Lisbon, Portugal had the largest food court we had ever seen. The market area was in one side of the building, and the Time Out Food Hall was in the other half.

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Beautiful greens in the famous La Boqueria on La Rambla in Barcelona.

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The Mercat Nou in Ibiza, Spain sold every thing from tea and liquor made from local herbs to their famous salt and honey.

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Of course the market in Ibiza had an offering of take away foods, including a Spanish Tortilla.

Ingredients and Procedure for Tortilla Espanola:

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Ingredients for Spanish Tortilla:

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 medium sized onion, peeled and sliced

4 eggs

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon Spanish paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch pepper

pinch saffron (optional)

 

Ingredients for Garlic Lemon Sauce:

1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic, put through press or finely minced

pinch Spanish paprika

pinch saffron (optional)

 

Procedure for Spanish tortilla:

In a skillet, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set the onions aside in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 of olive oil and the sliced potatoes to the pan. Cook, covered, over fairly low heat for 20 to 25 minutes – gently turning over once at 10 minutes. Potatoes will be done when they are easily pierced with a fork but still retain their shape. Carefully remove the potatoes from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the onions in the bowl. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan. Whisk the eggs, salt, paprika, pepper, and saffron together. Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and onions. Gently mix the to coat the potatoes and onions. Add the potato mixture to the pan and cook over low heat. As the tortilla slowly sets up, run a rubber spatula along the sides to create a rounded edge. When the tortilla is almost completely firm, remove the pan from the heat. Place a plate on top of the skillet and using pot holders or a kitchen towel to prevent being burned, flip the pan over so that the tortilla is on the plate. Then slide the tortilla off the plate and onto the skillet. Place back on low heat and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and either cut into slices as a main dish or small squares as part of a tapas spread.

 

Procedure for Garlic Lemon Sauce

Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and saffron.

 

I’d love to hear anyone else’s experiences with the markets in Spain or Portugal!

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Ottolenghi’s Socca

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Before I figured out that Yotam Ottolenghi was a rock star in the foodie world, I purchased his 2010 (2011 in the U.S.) cookbook Plenty. The gorgeous picture on the cover of Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce was nothing short of magical as were the other photos in the book. However, what turned out to be my favorite recipe was the chickpea pancakes (Socca) with cherry tomatoes shared here.  Ottolenghi gave a little background on the recipe and explained that socca, a batter made from ground chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) is a specialty from the region around Nice, France. I had a package of Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour that had been sitting in my pantry for a couple months. I had bought it out of curiosity since I figured it might be an interesting alternative to wheat flour; now I had the chance to give it a try. The first time I made this recipe, I followed the directions given below exactly and the result was wonderful. Since then – I have to confess – I skip a few steps and the dish is still great. For instance, I’ve just dropped a whole egg into the batter without whipping up the whites and folding them in. And, I’ve just served them straight from the pan, ladling the delicious onion mixture and cherry tomatoes on top of the pancakes without the extra heating in the oven. The dish is still delectable and meets the time constraints of busy family members!

Ingredients for Four Servings:

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling

1 3/4 pounds onions, thinly sliced (I used two medium sized onions)

2 tablespoons thyme leaves (I used 2 teaspoons dried thyme)

Salt & Pepper

1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar (I used plain white vinegar)

1 3/4 cups chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour)

2 cups water

2 egg whites

Creme fraiche to serve (I used thick Greek yogurt)

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.  If not done already, rinse the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Spread them cut side up in a small baking dish and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place them in the oven for 25 minutes. At the end of the cooking time they are tender but still hold their shape.

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While the tomatoes are baking, saute the sliced onions on low heat with the olive oil, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. After about 20 minutes they should be soft and starting to turn brown. Add the vinegar and taste to see if they need more salt and pepper.

After taking the tomatoes out of the oven, increase the temperature to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the chickpea flour, water, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to form soft peaks.

Fold the whipped egg whites into the chickpea batter.

Use a slightly oiled, non-stick frying pan, to make the pancakes. Heat up the pan over a medium high burner. Pour in the batter so each pancake is about 5 inches across and about 1/4 of an inch thick. After two minutes, bubbles should appear on the surface. Flip the pancake over and cook for another minute. Then transfer onto a baking sheet lined either with parchment paper or lightly oiled foil. When all the pancakes have been made, place them in the oven for 5 minutes.  Take them out of the oven, divide the onion mixture between each one and spread it from edge to edge. Arrange the tomatoes on top and return the pancakes to the oven for 4 additional minutes. Serve warm with the creme fraiche (or Greek yogurt) on the side.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

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The inspiration for these little seasonal treats came from a post on an awesome blog, Tastes of Lizzy T’s. One night I realized I was supposed to bring some cookies to an event early the next day. It was late and all I had in the house that seemed interesting was a can of pumpkin and white chocolate chips. I Googled the ingredients and was led to the above blog post. What a stroke of good luck! The cookies were delicious, but I couldn’t help but think how great they would be as whoopie pies – especially studded with dried cranberries and filled with cream cheese icing.  I omitted the white chocolate chips and tried my idea out. Roy and Allison both agreed the resulting whoopie pies were yummy! Let me know how your family likes them – I’d love to hear all about it.

Ingredients for about 1 1/2 dozen Pumpkin Cranberry Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

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For the cookie tops and bottoms:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

For the Cream Cheese Frosting Filling

1/4 cup butter

1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese

1 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, Beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Mix in the pumpkin puree. Add the spices. Then add the flour, baking soda, and salt and combine well.

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Stir in the dried cranberries so they are distributed evenly throughout the dough.

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Line a baking sheep with parchment paper or foil. (I used the inside of a half pint mason jar lid as a guide to draw circles on the parchment paper.)  Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, drop balls of dough on the on the baking sheet. Then, with the back of a spoon or a knife, flatten and spread the dough out to make circles. (I used the circles I had drawn as a guide.) Bake about 14 minutes or until cookies have firmed up and are starting to brown. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on them. After removing them from the oven, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow them to completely cool.

While they are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting filling.

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Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract until fluffy.

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To assemble each whoopie pie, spread about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese frosting on the flat side of cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down on the filling, on top.

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Williamsburg Peanut Soup

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A few weeks ago, we spent a day at Colonial Williamsburg. Once the capitol of Virginia, it was one of the places where the forefathers of our nation discussed the idea of independence from Great Britain. I loved seeing it all and I was fascinated by the period’s methods of using fire and hot embers to do all the baking and cooking.

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When Roy was in grade school, his family went on vacation to Williamsburg. While they were there, they ate at King’s Arms Tavern . He wanted to revisit it, so we went for dinner. He remembered eating on pewter plates and having the peanut soup – so of course we had to order it. I was doubtful about trying it, but found it was delicious! Since I was cold and hungry, it hit the spot. However, I shared a cup of it with Roy and since it’s such rich stuff, that was plenty. I detected a sort of bacon flavor in it and I asked the waiter about it. He said, “Oh – that’s the ham broth in it.”

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Later in the trip we saw Roy’s brother Bruce and his wife Betsy. We were telling them about our visit to Williamsburg and she whipped out her copy of The Williamsburg Cookbook. She told us she used to make their peanut soup at Thanksgiving and showed us the recipe. It called for chicken broth which I’m sure is fine, but I was still remembering that ham flavor in the soup we had. So, I took the recipe in the cookbook and modified it just a bit by making ham broth and using it to make the soup. It’s not something to have everyday, but it is fun for something different and children might find it interesting if they are studying US history. The cookbook said it is also good served cold.

Williamsburg Peanut Soup

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Ingredients for Six Servings:

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

2 tablespoons flour

1 quart ham broth (4 cups), ingredients listed below

1 cup smooth peanut butter

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream

Chopped peanuts, crushed peppercorns, or sliced green onions for garnish

 

Ingredients for the Ham Broth:

1 ham hock

4 quarts water

2 or 3 small carrots

2 or 3 celery stalks with leaves if possible

1 bay leaf

2 or 3 pepper corns

 

Directions:

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Make the ham broth by placing the ham hock, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, pepper corns, and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and allow the mixture to simmer for an hour. Discard the vegetables. Skim off any frothy stuff that might raise to the top. Let it cool slightly, then use a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth to get rid of any remaining pieces of the vegetables as you pour it into a container. Refrigerate for several hours or over night. The fat will rise to the top and it will be easy to get rid of it before adding the broth to the soup.

To then make the soup…

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Melt the butter in large soup pot. Saute the diced onion and celery over medium low heat until they are very soft and tender, but not brown.  Add the flour and combine well. Over high heat, whisk in the broth a bit at a time. Bring to a boil. Transfer to a blender, food processor,  or use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables into the broth. Add the peanut butter and cream. Stir or blend again to completely combine all the ingredients. If needed, heat before serving, but don’t let the soup come to a boil. Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with chopped peanuts and pepper corns or sliced green onions if desired.

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The Kings Arms Inn served the soup with a sampling of corn relish, ham relish, and pickled watermelon. Just for fun, we bought a jar of corn relish to take home.

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Butternut Squash Stuffed Pork Loin with Braised Red Cabbage

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Every autumn, I seemed to be obsessed with butternut squash.  I don’t think I’m alone because I keep getting notices from Pinterest that a pin I got from Simply Recipes on cutting butternut squash has been repinned about a hundred times. People out there must be cutting up oodles of butternut squash! With that in mind, I came up with this fall dinner dish that is full of seasonal flavors. It’s just as scrumptious as it is colorful! Enjoy!

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Ingredients

For the meat and rub:

1 to 2 pound pork loin

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced or put through a press

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

3 pieces of cooking twine, each about 5 inches long

 

For the stuffing:

1 small butternut squash

1 tablespoon olive oil

sprinkle of salt

sprinkle of pepper

1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cubed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon dried cranberries

1 clove garlic, minced or put through a press

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

 

For the braised red cabbage:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 medium red cabbage, cored and shredded

1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cubed

Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup red vinegar

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pinch ground cloves

 

Directions:

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the ends off of the squash and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Cut the squash in half length wise and scoop out the seeds. Then cut each squash half again, separating the “bowl” from the top part. Cut both “bowls” and both top parts into 1/2 inch wide lengthwise strips.  Then cut the strips into square cubes. Place on a foil covered baking sheet, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake 20 minutes to give the squash pieces a head start on getting tender once they are part of the tenderloin stuffing.

While the squash is partially baking, prepare the tenderloin and stuffing. Trim fat away from the tenderloin and “butterfly” it by cutting it down the middle lengthwise, but not going all the way through to keeping it in one piece. Set aside.

To prepare rub for the tenderloin, place 2 tablespoons olive oil,  garlic, kosher salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons sage in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

When the butternut squash has baked for 2o minutes place a heaping cup of it in a bowl. Add the 1/2 diced apple, 2 tablespoons sage, cranberries, salt, pepper, and garlic. Gently mix. Save the remaining squash for another use. ( For a link to a great autumn salad featuring butternut squash click HERE )

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Open the butterflied pork loin up, and place the butternut squash mixture inside. Fold it back together, and use the 3 cooking twine pieces to tie the roast together. Take the rub paste and gently smear the outside of the pork loin. Make sure to get both the top and bottom covered. If any stuffing falls out during any part of this process, just tuck it back in. Place the pork loin on a foil covered baking sheet and place in the 350 degree oven. Bake for 1 hour or until a cooking thermometer inserted into the meat reads 160 degrees. Since this recipe calls for a 1 to 2 pound roast, that should be enough baking time. But – if you use a larger piece of meat such as 3 pounds – you will want to allot at least an hour and a half baking time.

While the pork loin is baking, prepare the braised red cabbage. Place the 2 tablespoons olive oil, onions, and carrot in a pan and saute over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds more. Then add the cabbage, apple cubes, orange juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and ground cloves. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes over medium low heat until the apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Keep warm until ready to serve.

After removing from the oven, allow the pork loin to sit for 10 minutes. Then gently cut the cooking twine and remove from the roast. Using a serrated knife, cut the tenderloin into 1 inch slices.

Put about 3/4 cup of the braised red cabbage on each serving plate. Top with slices of the stuffed pork tenderloin.

 

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“Almost” Autumn Ingredient Salad from True Food Kitchen

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Being from the Midwest, I’ve only gotten the chance to eat at a True Food Kitchen twice. The southwestern area restaurant chain was started by Dr. Andrew Weil, who thought the super healthy food he cooked at home was tasty enough that others would love it too. He was right because anyone I’ve ever talked to that has visited one of his restaurants has raved about it. Since my post on a copy cat version of  True Food Kitchen’s Inside Out Quinoa Burger is the most visited post on this blog, I decided it was time to share my “Almost” Autumn Ingredient Salad. The real one includes dried mulberries and dried pomegranate seeds, but they are pricey and hard to find. I just used dried cranberries and they make a good substitute.  At any rate, this salad is a great side dish and the dressing works well any kind of veggie or salad.

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Ingredients for the Salad and Dressing

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1 medium butternut squash

1 medium head cauliflower

1 pound Brussels sprouts

1 (15 oz.) can white beans such as Great Northern or Cannelloni

2 tablespoons olive oil (For roasting veggies)

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons sliced green onions

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil. Cut off the cap and base of the squash, cut it lengthwise down the middle, and scoop out the seeds. Remove the skin by using a vegetable peeler. Lay both pieces of the squash on a cutting board and cut each in half, separating the neck from the rounded bottom. Then cut each of the four large pieces into two inch wide strips. Finally, cut each strip into squares. Spread the pieces on one of the baking sheets.  Wash the cauliflower, cut into florets, and put them on one side of the second baking sheet. Wash the Brussels Sprouts, cut off the tough woody part of the base, and if they are large, cut them in half down the middle.  Place them next to the cauliflower on the baking sheet.  Drizzle the vegetables on both baking sheets with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Toss them around to make sure they are evenly coated and season with salt & pepper.  Put both baking sheets in the oven for about an hour or until the vegetables pierce easily with a fork and are slightly browned.

Meanwhile whisk together the 1/2 cup of olive oil, vinegar, green onions, dried cranberries, horseradish, salt, red pepper flakes. Set aside. Rinse, drain, and put the beans in a microwave safe bowl.

When the vegetables are done, take them out of the oven.  Warm up the beans for about a minute in the microwave. Then, place the beans, squash, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over the top and gently toss.

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I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences at True Food Kitchen!

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Cherry Cobbler Pie

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One of the best times we had this summer was picking our own cherries at Rennie Orchards. It’s about 15 minutes from our family lake cottage and 15 minutes away from Traverse City, Michigan. Caroline and Adam were spending the week with us and it was the perfect thing to do on a day that started out rainy, but ended up clear and sunny. Everyone got a little bucket that would hold four cups of cherries – just the right amount for a cherry pie.  The first one I made was so runny that it ended up being cherry sauce for ice cream. My mistake was not letting the cherry filling get thick enough, and then not waiting long enough for the pie to cool before cutting it.  With the rest of the cherries we picked that day, I managed to master the thickness of the filling. But instead of pie, I made cobbler.  I brought it to a pitch-in and got a thumbs up from our lake cottage neighbors.  At the end of our stay, I talked Roy into going cherry picking with me again.  We brought the cherries home and I got the great idea of combining a pie and a cobbler. The recipe posted here makes a very decadent dessert! It’s especially good with a scoop of  ice cream!

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Cherry Cobbler Pie

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients for pie crust:

1 cup flour

pinch salt

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup water

Procedure:

Cut the butter into slices and place in a large bowl. Add the flour and salt. Use an electric mixer to combine all the ingredients so they look like crumbs. Then add the water a little at a time while using a fork to mix it it. When it forms a cohesive ball, it’s ready to be rolled out. Honestly, this takes patience. I place the dough on a floured surface such as a pastry cloth or board. Then I roll it out in all directions to make a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of my pie pan. When the dough cracks, I patch it up and keep going. I have even balled it up again and started over. The experts say that’s a no-no, but because this crust is so buttery, it’s never affected the flakiness or taste. The main focus of this pie is the cherries and topping – not the crust. However, this crust really compliments the other two parts of the pie.  When the crust is rolled out large enough, place it in the pie pan. Crimp the edges or cut off the excess if you are lucky enough to have that much extra dough. Set aside while you make the filling.

Ingredients for cherry filling:

4 cups pitted cherries, frozen or fresh- a combination of tart and sweet

1 cup sugar – if using mostly tart cherries add another 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

dash of almond extract

1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice only if using mostly sweet cherries

Procedure:

Place the cherries in a medium sized pan, cover, and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes. This releases the juice. Then add sugar and cornstarch. Also add the extract and lemon juice if using. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low. Stir often until the mixture thickens enough to cling to the spoon. This takes about 10 minutes but don’t walk away – the bottom can burn if not watched closely. When it’s nice and thick, spoon it into the pie shell and set aside while you make the cobbler topping.

Ingredients for cobbler topping:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1 stick butter

Procedure:

Mix flour, sugar, and vanilla together. Spread the dry mixture evenly over the surface of the filling. Cut the butter into slices. Arrange the butter slices on top of the dry mixture.

Bake the pie in a preheated 375 degree for 1 hour. The topping should get nice and brown, but will be uneven in coloration in some spots.

Allow the pie to cool before slicing.

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SoCal Street Tacos

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So many choices… So many combinations!

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Since I got home from visiting Jenn in Southern California, I have been trying to replicate the fabulous tacos found in tons of little joints all over her neighborhood. Since the weather is always 75 degrees and sunny, everyone there seems to be out doing some kind of exercise – running, yoga on the beach, surfing, hiking – and they all look great while doing it. The temperature is too nice to be able to hide figure flaws under a large bulky sweater, so the people look fit and lean. The food reflects that sensibility as well. A farmers market can be found somewhere close by every day of the week and California cooking uses all the wonderful produce grown close by. We had some kind of tacos every day I was there and they are nothing like the heavy, ground beef ones in the Midwest. Basically there are many protein options: chicken, beef,  pork, fish, or seafood. They are either seasoned with spices or marinated before being grilled or slow cooked. Then comes the choice of tomatillo or red sauce and which garnishes such as fresh salsa, guacamole, or cabbage salad to use; all the different choices remind me of a probability math problem! This post features my favorite combinations, but any of the meats could be prepared using any of the methods below. Likewise, they could be paired with any of the sauces. I’d love to hear about anyone else’s favorite! Enjoy!

Variation #1 – Carnitas – Pulled Pork with Tomatillo Sauce and Pickled Red Onions

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To Make the Pork:

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Ingredients:

1 to 2 pound pork shoulder roast

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups broth – chicken or beef

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix together the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  If the roast is tied with any string, cut it off. Rub the spice mix into the meat. Place the meat into a 9 by 13  or similar oven safe dish and pour in the broth. Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 4 hours. When done baking, lift the pork out of the liquid and put on a serving platter. Take two forks and gently pull the meat apart.

For the tomatillo sauce:

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Ingredients:

1 pound or about 11 medium fresh tomatillos

2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilis or 1/2 a serrano chili that is seeded and chopped

a small bunch of cilantro, both stems and leaves roughly chopped

1 small onion chopped

1 large clove of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 cups chicken or beef broth

Directions:

Peel the papery skin away from tomatillos and rinse them off. Boil in salted water to cover for 10 minutes. Carefully remove them from the boiling water and put in food processor (or blender if you don’t have processor) along with cilantro, onion, chili, and garlic. Process but leave some texture. Place the oil in a pan and place over medium heat until it becomes hot.  Pour all the tomatillo mixture in at once and stir constantly for 4 minutes.  Then add the broth, return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer for 10 minutes  – stir every so often so it won’t burn.

For Pickled Onions and Garnishes:

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To make the pickled red onions, all I do is peel and thinly slice a red onion. I put the slices in a bowl and pour in plain old white vinegar to cover. Some people mix in a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar to two cups of vinegar when they pour the vinegar over the onion slices, but I just don’t want the extra salt or sugar and I don’t miss it in the taste at all.  For garnishes slice some limes and washed radishes, crumble some cotija cheese, and include some cilantro sprigs.

Assemble each taco by doubling up two small corn tortilla and stuffing them with the pork and sauce, & garnishes.

Variation #2 – Carne Asada – Beef Steak – with Red Sauce

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For the Steak:

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Ingredients:

2 pounds of any steak can be used but the best is flank, skirt, or flat iron

4 garlic cloves, minced or put through a garlic press

2 teaspoons jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of pepper

Directions:

This is even better if you “butterfly” the steak by cutting it in half through the middle so it becomes thinner. Place the steak in a shallow container such as a 9 x 13 dish. Whirl the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pour over the steak. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature or 2 hours in the refrigerator. Grill over medium low heat for about 5 to 7 minutes per side, according to how rare is desired. Let the meat sit for about 5 minutes after taking it off the grill, and then slice it into strips.

For the Red Sauce:

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Ingredients:

2 to 4 dried arbol chiles (These are very hot & spicy!)

3 ripe red tomatoes, cored and chopped

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups tomato sauce

Directions:

Rinse the chiles under cold water and pat dry. Toast them in a dry pan, turning them over until you can see they are browning but not burnt. Take them out of the pan, and when they are cool enough remove the stems. Set them aside for a minute. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute the onion until it is tender, then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, broth, and chilies and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and transfer to blender or food processor. Whirl until well blender, then pour the mixture through a wire mesh strainer, and back into the pan. Add the tomato sauce, bring it back up to a boil, then turn down the heat, and simmer for 15 additional minutes. Taste before serving to see if salt needs to be added.

To serve, wrap the steak in a double corn tortilla, add the red sauce and garnishes of lime slices, cotija cheese, radish slices, and/or fresh cilantro leaves. Or  for Variation # 2.5, serve with guacamole and fresh salsa as shown in the photo below.  Great versions of guacamole and fresh salsa are in this post CLICK HERE on the Yates Yummies blog.

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Variation #3 – Pollo Asado – Grilled Chicken with Cabbage Salad

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For the Chicken and the Salad

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Ingredients for the Chicken:

1 to 2 pounds chicken meat

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Rinse and pat the chicken pieces dry. Combine the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic pepper. Rub into the chicken. Grill over medium low heat until juices run clear. For chicken breasts, I usually cook them 10 minutes per side – it depends how thick they are. I often cut into one to make sure all the pink inside is gone. Take off the grill and slice the chicken into strips.

Ingredients for the salad:

1 red onion

1 avocado

1/4 head green cabbage

1/4 head iceberg lettuce

2 tomatoes

small bunch of fresh cilantro

1 lemon

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Peel and slice the red onion. Place the onion in a small bowl and pour the vinegar over it. Let this sit while you are preparing the rest of the salad. Wash and cut the cabbage and lettuce so it looks shredded or in bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Core and chop the tomatoes. Add them to the lettuce/cabbage in the bowl. Chop the cilantro leaves and add them to the bowl. Cut the avocado into chunks and squeeze juice from the lemon over it before adding it to the bowl.  Lift the red onion out of the vinegar (don’t throw it away!) and place in the bowl. Take 1/4 cup of the vinegar the onion was sitting in and whisk it into the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the resulting dressing to the salad and gently toss it.

To serve, place about 1/4 cup of the salad into double corn tortillas. Add the chicken strips and some cotija cheese.

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Click HERE for super easy but super tasty recipe for lime marinated shrimp taco on the Yates Yummies blog.

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California Breakfast: Acai Bowl with Granola

bowl collage

A Real California Acai Bowl on the Left, My Version on the Right

My obsession with acai bowls got renewed last week when I was visiting Jenn is SoCal. It had been an interesting morning. When I woke up in our hotel, my foot landed in a great big wet spot on the carpet. We were staying at a nice family oriented spot and the one of the washer units housed next door to us was probably leaking. It was really unpleasant so I called the front desk. They apologized profusely and offered to upgraded us to a “Junior Suite”. So we packed everything up and moved across the property into a very spacious room – nice problem to have – right? Caroline was staying with Jenn at her place and we had agreed to meet to go to the farmer’s market. I was thinking we might end up having breakfast there, but after all the scrambling around I was pretty hungry. (And ashamed to admit, maybe a bit crabby too.) There is a cute little cafe just across from Jenn’s beach house that serves acai bowls so I suggested that we grab something there. I had forgotten how refreshing and yummy they were! They are perfect in hot weather and I was telling Caroline how last summer I made one for about 26 days in a row. The lady at the table next to us stopped trying to look like she wasn’t eavesdropping and jumped right into our conversation. We had a big chit chat about methods, ingredients, and how wonderful California is. My version of an acai bowl is posted here. It might now be 100% authentic, but it sure is tasty!

Ingredients and directions for two servings or one large serving:

First, make the granola

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Either in a large bowl or directly on the baking sheet, mix the following ingredients:

4 cups regular “old fashioned” oatmeal, uncooked, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Some kind of nuts or seeds such as pumpkin, almonds, pecans, walnuts – about 1/2 cup or so of each of whatever you choose

Some dried fruit such as apricots, raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries – about of 1/4 cup or so of each of whatever you choose

3 tablespoons blue agave syrup or honey

Then spread the mixture evely on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring twice at 5 minutes and 10 minutes.

Allow to cool while you whirl up the acai bowl.

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Use a blender to combine 1 (3.5 oz.) packet of frozen acai puree (I found it at Whole Foods) which is slightly thawed, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen fruit such as bananas, blueberries, mixed berries, raspberries, etc. The trick is to get it to the consistency of sorbet. The blender may have to be stopped and the mixture might have to be stirred a few times to get it all blended.

Divide the mixture between two small bowls or one large one. Top with fresh berries or bananas and granola.

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