Monday, March 31, 2008

A Cake and a Fire

Well, I'm a little late with my first Daring Baker's challenge. I kept thinking I had more time to get it done and all of a sudden the deadline hit! I ended up making it tonight.

Well, I bought the ingredients and was skeptical because I don't like lemon flavoured things unless it's lemonade. I also wasn't sure I would like the coconut and the raspberry jam either. The whole point of this blog and joining the Daring Baker's was to try new things so I stuck with it and didn't do any of the allowed changes.

Well, making the batter went well. While it was cooling we had a bit of excitement when an apartment across the street caught on fire! My former roommate called me to see if I was smelling the smoke and hearing sirens. I didn't, but opened my window. I hear the sirens sounding like they turned onto our apartment's street. I was hoping they would keep going, but they stopped and I noticed it was top floor apartment across the street and was part of my former roommate's building! Five fire trucks showed up, although it didn't seem the fire spread. I think they just wanted to be safe. My former roommate grabbed her cat, laptop, and important papers and came over for a bit. I don't even what to think about how my cat would react, she's feisty when scared!

Well, baking the cake took a break during the excitement. Luckily, everything is ok and the fire didn't spread, but it was still a little scary for her and we felt lucky that our building wasn't affected. I am now planning to call and find out about renter's insurance!

After the fire, I got back to work on the cake. The buttercream was easy to make, although I have never make it that way before. It took a lot longer than the other recipes I've tried.

I did end up liking the cake, but only want to eat small slices. My boyfriend loved it! I think I'll try this again sometime in the future with different flavours that I might like better. The cake itself was a perfect texture that was moist and not very crumbly.

This month's challenge was hosted by Morven. You can check out the recipe at her site.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bangers and Mash

Tonight I had hoped to do a traditional Irish fare in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Unfortunately, I was sick and didn't get out to the store to get food and didn't have all the ingredients on hand. I'll do some Irish food tomorrow, a day late, but hopefully well worth the wait.

Tonight, we went with Bangers and mash. I left my boyfriend, the Brit, in charge of this meal. He said he always eats it with ketchup. I know the essentially, putting ketchup on mashed potatoes isn't very different from putting it on French fries, but it just didn't seem right to me. I thought it would taste better with some gravy on top. I was thinking a thick, sausage gravy like the one used in biscuits and gravy, but I did a search online and found that bangers and mash is traditionally served with an onion gravy. I'm not sure why my boyfriend didn't do that, but I would have much preferred it that way. I didn't have any gravy left over from last night, so I asked him to make some instant brown gravy for this and it helped a lot.

I just called him over to ask him about it and he said he has had the gravy on bangers and mash, but he didn't realize it was compulsory, he thought it was just an option.

I'm not sure how he made these, he just baked some plain breakfast sausage (thicker ones would be better, but not Italian sausages), and made some mashed potatoes.

I want to try this again with a proper onion gravy and see how it tastes.

Chocolate Decadence

I love Rice Krispy Treats. Cocoa Rice Crispy Treats are even better. The best of all were the Cocoa Krispy Treats made with chocolate marshmallows!

While at Target buying some goodies for an Easter basket for Lee, I saw some chocolate marshmallows. I also bought some coconut ones, but I didn't buy those. I couldn't resist the chocolate marshmallows and bought a bag. I just knew I had to try them as Rice Krispy Treats with Cocoa Krispies. Boy, am I glad I thought of that!

I wasn't feeling well, but I did want my new food for the day and the roast dinner I was making wasn't something new, so I asked my boyfriend to make the treats. He was nervous about it since he says he can't cook (he seems to do just fine if he follows directions, I think he just needs some confidence). Anyway, after him asking me every 5 seconds what to do and me thinking it may have been easier to do it myself, he got it right and we had some delicious treats!

I did get to try a chocolate marshmallow on its own before he made the Cocoa Krispy Treats and it tasted like a hot chocolate that had gone cool to room temperature. It was delicious!

Extra Chocolatey Cocoa Krispy Treats

3 tablespoons butter
1 package chocolate marhsmallow puffs
6 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal

  1. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add marshmallows, coat in butter, and return to microwave until melted.
  3. Add cereal and blend thoroughly.
  4. Line a pan with parchment paper and spread mixture to cool.
Warning: These are highly addictive and won't last long!

Rogan Josh

On Saturday, I tried Rogan Josh curry. I used the leftover chicken from Wednesday night and added it to the curry sauce. This was a mildly spicy curry that was just hot enough to make me wish for a soda instead of water!

I forgot to take a picture.

Shrimp and Scallop Scampi

We went out with my family for Lee's birthday. We had the worst service ever! We didn't get our drink orders for a half our, and only got our appetizers after being seated for an hour!

The food wasn't as good as usual either. I had the shrimp and scallop scampi and, while it tasted good, it felt like it was missing something. I took home leftovers and on Saturday, for lunch, added a clove of garlic and some Parmesan cheese. The extra garlic and cheese made a big difference!

The Rock-Hard Birthday Cake

Well, I tried to make a birthday cake for my boyfriend, but it just didn't work out. I'm not good at folding and the cake turned out to be a rock-hard solid slab. The batter did taste good, though.

Spicy Crock Pot Chicken

This was a delicious recipe I choose for the Australian/New Zealand recipe swap on Recipezaar. It was really easy, except for me cutting my finger while chopping the onion! The meat turned out tender and juicy.

I used 4 large bone-in chicken breasts (I saved 2 for a curry) instead of a whole chicken because that's what I had and I figured it would work just fine. For maximum flavour, marinate overnight.

Whole Chicken Crock Pot Recipe

4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large roasting chicken
1 cup onion, chopped

  1. Combine spices in a small bowl.
  2. Remove giblets from chicken and clean thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Rub spice mixture over chicken. cover with plastic wrap or place in a ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight.
  4. When ready to cook, chop onion and place in bottom of crock pot.
  5. Add chicken.
  6. There is no need to add liquid, there is plenty of liquid that will come from the chicken and you can even make gravy from it!
  7. Cook on low for 4-8 hours (depending on your crock pot).

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Blech!!!!! Yuck!!!! I did not like this at all!!!

It could be that it was not homemade. It could have been a bad one since my boyfriend didn't think it tasted as good as it should. Or, I could just hate sticky toffee pudding. Regardless, I did not like this at all. I'll have to try making this traditional English dessert at home to see if it tastes better.

Homemade Brownies

I made my first batch of brownies from scratch!!!

Now, I am not good at folding, and they turned out quite thin, but they tasted delicious and I'll have to work on my folding technique to get them to turn out a bit thicker. My boyfriend actually said they were the best brownies he's ever had. This was a fabulous recipe that included ingredients I always have on hand anyway.

The original recipe did not include chocolate chips, I added those myself since I love chocolate chips in brownies!! Please check out the original recipe to see how they are supposed to look!

I have rated it 4 out of 5 stars because of my difficulty with folding in the egg whites.

Fudgy Brownies

½ cup flour (for coating pan)
2 eggs
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup cocoa, moistened
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup confectioner's sugar

  1. Grease an 8x8 pan and coat with flour. Place a piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Separate the egg whites into one bowl, and the egg yolks into another larger bowl.
  4. Beat egg yolks with sugar.
  5. Add melted butter, cocoa, and vanilla. Mix well.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff.
  7. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
  8. Gently add in chocolate chips.
  9. Place in pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes.
  10. After 5 minutes, remove from pan. Before serving, dust with confectioner's sugar.

Lasagne al Forno

I already knew all lasagnas aren't created equal, but I didn't know that in some areas, lasagna is completely different from what I know. I have grown up with the American style of lasagna with the layers of red pasta sauce, ricotta cheese, ground beef, etc... Apparently, there is a whole other world of lasagna that is "lasagne" and does not have red sauce and is made with a white bechamel sauce.

This didn't feel like lasagna to me. It felt like a completely different dish, kind of like the difference between fish fingers and chicken fingers; similar concept but not the same.

That said, I did like this lasagne, I just have to recognize it as a completely different style than what I'm used to. I loved that I could use regular lasagna noodles and not precook them! I hate having to precook lasagna noodles and keep them from sticking while doing the layers. I have worked out a system for that, but it's still nice to not have to do that.

I made a few changes with the recipe. I did not use chicken livers for this recipe. I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I also would shred the mozzarella cheese next time to make it easier to spread evenly. I had difficulty layering the cubes and I could get it much more even if it was shredded. I also had to stir the ragú approximately every 45 minutes because otherwise the meat was blackening and I was worried about it drying out. Lastly, I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese over each layer of mozzarella cheese.

This wasn't as difficult as it sounded. The best thing to do is to set out all your materials you will need so you are not rushing about. I actually chopped up everything before starting to cook. I just then added things as needed. I also set out my pots and pans ahead of time. This made it so much more relaxing for me since I didn't have to stress about getting things chopped in time to go in, while worrying about the things already cooking becoming overcooked. I'm not the fastest cutter, so this is definitely the way to go for me.

This recipe is from Delia Smith, a British cookbook author, who seems to be to the English what Julia Child is to the Americans.

Lasagne al Forno

1 lb. lasagna noodles
14 oz. mozzarella (diced)
4 oz. Parmesano Reggiano cheese

For the Ragú Bolognese:
12 oz. (350g) ground beef
12 oz. (350g) ground pork

200g pancetta
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic (chopped )(I double this)
630g Italian chopped tomatoes
6 tablespoons tomato purée
6 fl. oz (175ml) red wine
whole nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
15 g fresh basil

Bechamel Sauce:

6 cups(1.5l) milk
6 oz. (175g) butter
4 oz. (110g) flour
2 large cloves garlic, minced
6 fl. oz (175ml) heavy/double cream

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onion and fry for about 10 minutes.
  2. While the onion is cooking, chop the pancetta. The best way to do this is to roll it up, cut lengthwise then across.
  3. Once onion is softened, add the pancetta and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Place the pancetta and onion in a 6 quart dutch oven, add another tablespoon of oil to the sauté pan and return to heat.
  5. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Transfer to the dutch oven, add another tablespoon of oil to pan and return to heat.
  6. Add the ground pork and brown.
  7. Once pork has browned, add it to the dutch oven.
  8. Preheat oven to 275°F (140°C, Gas Mark 1)
  9. Place dutch oven on burner and stir ingredients together. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, red wine, salt, pepper, and about ¼ nutmeg, grated. Stir all ingredients together and bring to a simmer.
  10. While bringing mixture to a simmer, tear half of the basil leaves from the stem, tear or chop the leaves and add them to the pot. As soon as the mixture is simmering, place in preheated oven. You do not need to cover the mixture.
  11. Here the recipe says to let simmer for 3 hours before giving a stir, I stirred every 45 minutes.
  12. When liquid has reduced to a concentrated sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper and add the remainder of the basil.
  13. About 20-30 minutes before the ragú bolognese is due to come out of the oven, begin the bechamel sauce.
  14. Place the milk, butter, flour, salt and pepper, and garlic in a large saucepan. Heat oven medium-low heat and whisk until simmering and thickened. Reduce heat as low as possible and simmer for 10 minutes more.
  15. Sieve the sauce into a large bowl and add the cream. Adjust seasoning and add another quarter of nutmeg.
  16. Preheat oven to 350°F (Gas mark 4, 180°C).
  17. Now for the assembly. Organize your materials in the order in which you will use them, with the baking dish on a cookie sheet (to catch spillage) in the middle.
  18. Spread a thin layer of the ragú bolognese on the bottom of the pan. Cover with ¼ of the bechamel sauce, diced mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Add a layer of lasagna noodles (They don't need to be cooked, the large amount of sauce cooks the noodles). Repeat in this manner, finishing off with a top layer of cream sauce and a coating of Parmesan cheese.
  19. Place in oven (be sure to keep the baking sheet underneath!) and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Meridian Pino Grigio

I am not the biggest alcohol drinker, but I do like most Pino Grigio wines. I tried a brand called Meridian, which was really good!

Tomato and Chicken Pizza

My boyfriend and I ordered Pizza from Papa John's. I usually only go for cheese, but he ordered their tomato and chicken pizza and I must say it was delicious! It was full of flavor and I think I'll definitely have it again sometime!

Marinated Garlic and Curry Rubbed Steaks

I had planned to make a recipe that is called Grilled Marinated Garlic and Chili Rubbed Striploin Steaks, but we didn't have any chili powder, so my boyfriend substituted curry powder. These weren't bad, but I would like to try these again with the chili powder instead of curry, since I'm not the biggest fan of curry.

Marinated Garlic and Curry Rubbed Steaks

3 large garlic cloves, mashed
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 strip steaks about 1 inch thick.

  1. Mash garlic cloves and salt in a small bowl to form a paste. Add the curry powder, cumin, honey, and Worcestershire sauce to form a paste.
  2. Rub both sides of steaks with the paste.
  3. Place in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for about 24 hours.
  4. Before cooking, allow steaks to sit at room temperature for about an hour.
  5. Grill about 4-5 minutes on each side until medium rare.

Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I'm participating in a recipe swap for the Australia/New Zealand area of Recipezaar. Strangely enough, you don't have to do Australian or New Zealand recipes for this swap, just participate.

Last week, I made some Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes. I haven't had many pasta dishes that don't have a sauce, but this recipe sounded the best out of the ones I had to choose from, so I went for it. I love pasta, I love tomatoes, the only thing I wasn't sure about was my boyfriend because he doesn't like raw tomatoes.

This was such a simple, tasty dish to make. I easily threw it together, halved the recipe, and it was on the table in about 20 minutes. I can't wait to make this again!

Note: The recipe doesn't state what type of breadcrumbs to make, I used Italian style. It will take about 30 minutes to cook the full recipe.

Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

2 lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (plus more for serving)
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 lb. penne
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place tomato halves in a single layer on the bottom of a casserole dish.
  3. Coat with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese.
  5. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have wilted.
  6. After placing tomatoes in the oven, heat a pot of water until boiling. Season well with sea salt.
  7. Cook penne until al dente.
  8. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
  9. Drain pasta and toss with tomato mixture, adding 2-3 more tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and basil.
  10. Season to taste, adding reserved pasta water if more moisture is needed.
  11. Dish out and top with additional cheese to taste.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I'm pretty far behind in posting, although I am still trying new foods each day. I have had a really rough couple of days and this is about all I'm up to really posting right now. I'm going to make it my goal to catch up with the posing this week.

Coming Soon:

  1. Penne with Roasted Tomatoes
  2. Steak
  3. Tomato and Chicken Pizza
  4. A new Pinot Grigio
  5. Lasagne al Forno (a British Lasagne)
  6. Brownies from scratch!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fish n' Chips

Fish n' Chips is synonymous with England. That and curry, but fish and chips was first. I've been to a chippy (a fish and chips shop) in England a couple of times and just loved it! Fish and chips in the US is just not the same, it's really hard to find a place that even comes close to a British chippy. In England, the fish fillets we had were huge, about ½ pound each! Over here, all the "fish and chips" I've ever had or seen have been smaller and more like fish sticks.

My boyfriend tells me that plaice is the traditional fish to eat for fish and chips, but his step-father says it is cod. Regardless, I saw cod at the market, so that is what we had.

One thing I was really confused about on one of my trips to England is that I knew they called "fries" "chips" but I saw some restaurants advertise french fries. I found out that, in England, that "french fries" are the thinner version, more like you would get at McDonald's or Burger King. "Chips" are like what we Americans call "steak fries." Chips are "chipped off the potato" instead of "being Frenched" or "being cut in the French manner."

As for the debate of whether to do beer batter or not, I found a recipe from a woman who was from Yorkshire that was for beer batter. I also see boxes of batter at the supermarket for beer batter, so I figured it was traditional. My boyfriend said that he didn't think that he ever had a beer battered one, and I looked online and it seems as though only some places do beer batter. It makes sense since chippies are relatively inexpensive and beer would raise the price.

We both loved this meal, although neither of us are beer fans so I don't think I'll do a beer batter next time. There was just too much of a beer taste for us. I used a Newcastle Ale for the beer since that is from England.

We both LOVED the chips! I didn't have a mandoline or Vslicer, so I just used my chef's knife, which was perfectly fine for chips. I soaked them in water for about an hour to get rid of some excess starch and then did a double frying method. The chips turned out perfect! Lee couldn't stop eating them. I thought I made too many chips (six or seven russet potatoes go a long way!), but it turns out we didn't really have leftovers.

To fry or not to fry...Fry!! Baking won't give the same taste as frying. Also, according to Alton Brown, if you do the frying correctly you don't get in much extra fat anyway. As he explains, the moisture in the food is trying to get out and there is no room for the fat to go in. It's only once the moisture in the food is gone that it begins to absorb the oil. If done correctly, the food should absorb no more than a tablespoon for the entire dish!

As for the oil and frying method, I used canola oil because it doesn't add a lot of strange flavor to the food. When first making mozzarella sticks, I used vegetable oil, but I could taste the oil too much. I switched to canola and it soon became my favorite oil for frying. I didn't manage to get the oil up to the recommended temperature, but the oil got plenty hot enough and the chips turned out perfect anyway. I think the oil got up to 350°F in the end, but for most of the cooking the temp was in the high 200s.

One more tip, when beginning the process, turn on the kitchen fan and/or open some windows, otherwise your home will start to smell like a chippy. It's one thing to taste like a chippy, a completely different thing to smell like one!

I am rating this dish as a 4 out of 5 just because we would prefer it without the beer batter.

Beer Batter Fish and Chips

~3lbs. russet potatoes (or other good frying potato)
1 gallon mild oil such as canola
2 lbs cod fillets (you can sub either haddock or plaice)
6 oz. all-purpose flour + a bit extra for coating the fish
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 oz. beer
juice of ½ a lemon

  1. Place oil in a dutch oven or fryer. My 6.5 quart dutch oven held a gallon. Leave about 1½ inches at the top to allow for oil bubbling.
  2. Scrub, peel, and thickly cut potatoes. Place in water to soak for about an hour.
  3. When oil reaches approximately 320°F, remove potatoes from water and dry. Carefully drop potatoes in oil one by one. Do small batches so the chips don't crowd. To safely drop in chips, hold by the end and only let go when the potato is mostly submerged. Cook for about 3 minutes or until soft, but not browned. Allow to sit on a cooling rack placed on top of a baking sheet.
  4. When potatoes are finished with the first fry, prepare the fish for frying. Coat them in the flour, shake off the excess, and coat in the batter. When thoroughly coated, slowly submerge the fish in the oil. Do not just drip the fish in the oil or the batter cannot set and it may stick to other parts of the fish. Cook for about 6-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to cooling rack and sprinkle with lemon juice. Place in oven at warm setting.
  5. Raise the temperature of the oil to approximately 375°F. In small batches, fry the potatoes in the same manner as before for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to the cooling rack and salt.
  6. Serve with malt vinegar and ketchup.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Taste of the Tropics: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I know Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a popular dessert, but I've never tried it. I don't mind pineapple, but I'm not it's biggest fan. I will rarely eat it on it's own and even then can only eat a couple of pieces.

I decided to ask Lee to pick a couple of meals for the week. He tells me garlic-roasted vegetables, pineapple upside down cake, and lasanga. Hmmmm....not really meals that go well...I decided to split them up this week. Since I was exhausted after work today and we only had something quick and easy for dinner, I decided to do Pineapple Upside-Down Cake for dessert. It seemed like a really easy recipe and something I could definitely handle.

I didn't have the size pan called for in the recipe, so I used a larger pan and it turned out just fine. I also decided to add some of the pineapple juice from the can to the batter and just left out that much water. I figured it would give a bit more pineapple flavor to the cake itself. It didn't seem to make a while lot of difference, but maybe next time I'll get some pineapple juice and have the full amount of water be replaced with pineapple juice and see if that adds some additional flavor to the cake.

I must admit, although I really liked the cake, I did peel the pineapple off the top before eating it. I couldn't really cut into it with the fork and couldn't be bothered to get a knife to cut into the pineapple.

I ate two slices and I feel so full! I complained about eating too much and Lee said "Robyn, you didn't eat half the cake! I feel like I'm going to be sick!" He literally ate half the cake and the sweetness is catching up with him! :-O

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
½ cup margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 20oz can pineapple slices
5 maraschino cherries

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pan with butter in the oven to melt.
2. Mix batter according to package directions. You may replace all, or part, of the water with pineapple juice for more flavor.
3. When the butter has melted, add brown sugar.
4. Place pineapple slices in layer on bottom of pan. Place one half of a maraschino cherry in the middle of each pineapple.
5. Bake in oven until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

¡Entomatado de Pollo, Salsa, y Torillas!

I've been interested in Mexican food a lot lately. I've learned that what we, in the U.S., usually think of as Mexican isn't really authentic. I was reading Ben's blog at What's Cooking? and I borrowed a couple of Mexican cookbooks from the library. The more I read, the more I wanted to try to make some authentic Mexican food.

On What's Cooking? I saw a recipe for a dish called Entomatado de Pollo and thought it sounded really good. I've never noticed tomatillos at my local markets, but I've never looked. The rest of the ingredients were easy enough to get, so I decided to give it a go. :)

Some notes about the ingredients:

Tomatillos are little green tomatoes. They are a little more tart than the red ones, I guess the best way to describe them is to say they are the Granny Smith apples of the tomato family. On Ben's blog, he posted a picture of tomatillos. From the picture, I thought they'd be the same size as regular tomatoes, but they are actually quite a bit smaller. The tomatillos were about the size of a cherry tomato, though some were closer to the size of a clementine or tangerine. The tomatillos have husks on the outside like corn. When buying tomatillos, you should look for ones that are more green in color and are firm to the touch. The husks should still be close to the tomatillo. I actually found some at two stores. The first store had tiny tomatillos and I barely got enough good ones for a 1 lb. I guess they aren't bought too often because there were a lot that were going bad, the cashiers at both stores also had to ask me what they were! The second store had better tomatillos and they were also slightly larger.

My local Price Chopper, the store with the better tomatillos, also carries Mexican Oregano. It was very inexpensive, at $1.99 for the container, and it is worth it to buy some for cooking Mexican dishes. The Mexican Oregano has a different flavor than the Mediterranean kind. It is more fragrant and intense in flavor than the regular oregano as well. You can read more about Mexican Oregano at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's website.

I decided that I would make a salsa and chips to eat before the meal. Since I found better tomatillos at Price Chopper, the second store I went to, I had a total of 2lbs. tomatillos. I figured I'd make two types of salsa, one red and one green. I forgot to make sure to get corn tortillas at the store, and bought flour by mistake. I figured I'd go ahead and use the flour ones, although I do prefer the taste to corn tortilla chips. I had to go get my boyfriend while I was making the salsa and chips, so I didn't fry them, I just coated them with oil and baked them since it wouldn't have been safe to leave a pot of oil on the oven while going to get him, but I could run out between batches of baked chips. My red salsa was a little watery, but had an excellent flavor. The heat came in as part of the aftertaste so it had an interesting blend of initial cool, then heat. I prefer my salsa verde to the one I had at Moe's. My boyfriend didn't like the salsa verde at Moe's but said he liked mine. (*)

Now it was time for the main dish. Since Lee was late getting out of work, I scrapped my plans to try to make authentic Mexican rice and used the box of Spanish Rice flavored Rice-a-Roni instead. Everything I've heard and read says that Mexican rice is tricky even for professional chefs, so with all the other new things, I thought I'd just go with a box mix for today. I'll try the authentic rice another time. I have never had the Spanish Rice before, and it was really good! I wasn't expecting to need a can of diced tomatoes, but I just diced up two tomatoes I bought today, and used a can of Rotel.

The Entomatado de Pollo was easy to make. The most difficult part was cutting the tomatillos. The smaller ones were quite firm and weren't very easy to chop. Other than that, it was a breeze and it tasted delicious!

All in all, I'd definitely make this again and would be sure to make some authentic Mexican Rice to go with it. I can't wait to try more authentic Mexican food and have some of this again for lunch tomorrow!

Oh, I'm sorry about the bad picture quality for the Entomatado de Pollo picture. I usually take several photos and post the best, but I accidentally dropped my camera in the food after that picture and thought I'd give it a break for a bit... #-o

I am rating this 4 out of 5 stars because the red salsa was a bit water for my tastes.


You can use this recipe to make either red or green salsa. For green salsa, simply exchange the tomatoes for tomatillos. You could make this without roasting the tomatoes/tomatillos and peppers, but it would not have the same flavor.

Salsa de Molcajete
2 jalapeño peppers (or 4 Serrano peppers)
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 medium red tomatoes or 4 large tomatillos, husked
½ cup finely chopped white onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
salt, to taste

There are three techniques for roasting the peppers and tomatoes or tomatillos. a) Preheat oven to the broil setting and roast until blackened, turning halfway through, b) use a cast iron skillet and cook on each side until charred (do not add any oil to skillet), or c) Heat one side of the grill and roast vegetables with indirect heat until blackened in spots. The garlic should either be roasted in the broiler or skillet, you'd need a fine mesh grill to keep them from slipping through the bars of a grill.

  1. Roast the peppers, tomatoes or tomatillos, and garlic. When done, allow to cool before handling.
  2. Meanwhile, chop onions, place in a mesh strainer and rinse under cold water.
  3. Cut the stems off the chilies and remove the seeds. Peel the garlic cloves.
  4. Peel tomatoes or tomatillos. Remove charred bits from the chilies.
  5. Mix tomatoes (recipe calls for unstrained, but I think I'll try straining them a bit next time), garlic and peppers. Blend, or pulse in a blender until desired consistency. Season with lime juice and salt. If serving within an hour or two, add onions and cilantro.

Baked Tortilla Chips

8 large torillas
2 tablespoons oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Brush tortillas with oil and use a sharp knife to cut into eighths.
  3. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes or until crisp and slightly golden brown.

Entomatado de Pollo

4 chicken thighs
1 lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
¼ white onion, diced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 lb dehusked, chopped tomatillos
2 Chipotle peppers (or more for your tastes)
1 tbsp Mexican Oregano

  1. Sprinkle chicken thighs with lemon juice, salt, and pepper on both sides. Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.
  2. Heat olive oil in large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic and onions.
  3. Add chicken, skin side down. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until light brown.
  4. Turn over thighs and cook for about 4 more minutes.
  5. You may drain the juices, but the dish will lose flavour. Add tomatillos, peppers, and oregano. Stir, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

English Pancakes: Pizza Style!

Since we didn't make pizza last night, I decided to do pizza tonight. Yesterday, I had been thinking of a conversation we were having on the Leftover Food Queen's forum about breakfast around the world. I had told my story about Shrove Tuesday and it reminded me that I learned pancakes can have fillings and don't have to just have the lemon and sugar topping. Yesterday morning I decided that I would make pizza pancakes. I was really excited about trying it, but I didn't want to tell my boyfriend about it since I wasn't sure of his reaction.

Well, on our way home from me picking him up from work, I told Lee that I thought I'd try making pizza English pancakes. He immediately started getting that smile people have when they're trying not to laugh. I called him on it and he said, "Well, I can see how you got to that idea since we've had calzones, but I really don't know how it'll work with the tomato sauce..." He said I could give it a try, but he was very skeptical. He just did not think it would work. at. all. I started to worry about trying it, and almost didn't, but I really wanted to and he felt bad and said to go ahead and try it....still trying to keep a straight face. :

I found a new pizza sauce recipe to try on Recipezaar. I wasn't too sure about it because it said to serve immediately and the last quick sauce I made didn't have much flavour until the next day. I thought I'd give it a go anyway since I was reading Mexican cookbooks all day and forgot to start the sauce earlier. I then brought out the English pancake recipe I used on Shrove Tuesday and put that to work.

After cooking the first one, Lee tried it and he was shocked to find out he really liked it!!! He thought it was so strange that it would taste so good. He said he was thinking that we would also put the dusting of sugar and lemon on it and that's part of why he didn't think it would taste good. For someone so convinced it would fail, he really did love it! He said it's not fair at all that it turned out so good.

The important thing for this is to put just a thin layer of sauce and cheese on the pancake. Since it gets rolled up, a little really does go a long way. Lee put too much sauce on his and said that the sauce needed to be a bit more balanced. I had him try a bite of mine, and he agreed that he just put on too much and it was better with less sauce.

Pizza Flavor English Pancakes

1 recipe English pancakes
2 cups pizza sauce
1 cup Italian style shredded cheese

  1. Cook English pancakes according to recipe instructions.
  2. Transfer to a plate to be the "rolling plate."
  3. Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce to within ¼-½ inch of the edge. Sprinkle a thin layer of Italian blend shredded cheese. Add in desired toppings, such as pepperoni.

4. Roll and place in oven on "warm" or lowest setting while the rest of the pancakes cook. Doing this also allows the sauce to warm up and the cheese to melt.


Made by Lena