Sunday, September 21, 2014

Beef Fajitas and Homemade Tortillas

I've gone fajita crazy. I cooked The Pioneer Woman's Beef Fajitas and Homemade Tortillas (pg 141 and 143 of A Year of Holidays) last week, and have been craving them again ever since. The ingredients are already on my grocery list to make again for dinner this week.

The meat sits in an easy-to-throw-together marinade of Worcestershire, garlic, lime juice, sugar, olive oil, and spices for several hours, then gets grilled. The veg (multi-colored peppers, onions, and mushrooms) are simply cooked in olive oil and butter. I was originally skeptical that there was no seasoning for the vegetables, but it turned out that the meat marinade provided plenty of flavor.

I didn't get as many tortillas out of my "walnut-sized" balls of dough as I was supposed to, and the tortillas, which I flattened in my tortilla press, were too small to wrap the food up like a fajita, but they tasted delicious and were a nice, soft, bendy texture. Next time, I'll know not to halve the recipe. The tortillas, used like tacos, disintegrated under the weight and wetness of the food, but as long as you're not a neat-freak, the deliciousness will compensate for the mess. If you have a problem with messes, you probably shouldn't be eating fajitas in the first place.

I inhaled these so fast that I didn't even think to snap a picture. Whoops.

Conclusion: Loved both recipes. I want more, right now. I may experiment with the ratio of corn to white flour in the tortillas, because I do prefer a cornier flavor, but that's just a matter of taste.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Let's Get This "Long Term" Ball Rolling

I recently asked Charlie to pick a recipe out of C is for Cooking. He went with Ernie's Fruity Frozen Fun Pops. I like the idea of these a lot more than either one of us enjoyed the outcome.

Blitz banana, canned crushed pineapple, plain yogurt, and a little sugar in the blender. Fill an ice cube tray with the mixture. Put them in the freezer, and when they're half frozen, stab them with straws.
These were annoying to eat, because the second they get a little melty, they fall off the straw and make slow-eating 4 year olds scream. Also, the straws that I used weren't sturdy enough to support the weight of the cube, so they bent. Refer back to the screaming 4 year old.

My biggest problem with this, though, was that the texture of the cube was unpleasant to eat. There weren't fruit chunks, but there was a lot of fiber from the pineapple, so you almost had to chew it. Not ideal.

Charlie barely ate his first one, and never wanted another. I felt the same way.

Conclusion: Dislike.

My first two forays into Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays have been delightful.

First up: Sticky Cherry Cake, from her Valentine's Day section. This cake uses canned cherries in the batter, and then the syrup from the can is cooked down with sugar and butter, and poured on top of the cooked cake.
Holy moly. This thing was rich, sweet, and delicious. The chewy, caramelized edges were the best part. For me, a little went a long way, and my family didn't eat much of it on the day I made it. However, our friends and their kids came for dinner the next day. We demolished the rest of the cake. One of the kids may have licked the pan clean.

Conclusion: Loved it. Sometimes you need something this decadently sweet.

The Chipotle Chicken Chili from the section for "The Big Game" is, hands-down, the best chicken chili I've had. I think that the element that sets it apart from other recipes I've tried is that, in the last few minutes, you add a mixture of beer and masa harina. This provides that nice, earthy, corn flavor, and also thickens the chili beautifully. I'm also a huge fan of the flavor that chipotle peppers in adobo give to any recipe, so this wins points for using them.
I realize this looks like a pile of cheese, with no chili.
Conclusion: I loved it. Matt loved it. Charlie ate an English Muffin.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FFwD: 2 Make-Ups

The recipe that the French Fridays with Dorie gang is cooking this week is Curried Chicken, Peppers, and Peas en Papillote. I've made this dish several times. Each time, I amp up the measurements and the variety of the spices I use, and each time, it turns out bland. For me, it's a cozy kind of blandness that I don't mind. Matt, however, grumbles and moans and says it doesn't taste like anything. It may be bland, but it's so, so easy, and one of these days, I'm going to figure out a good way to make the spices stand up to the amount of water that leaks out of the vegetables.

Because I mistakenly thought that I'd already done a post about this dish back in the day when I first made it, I decided to skip it this week and catch up on two recipes that I missed.

First, I made Potato Chip Tortilla. Yuck. I like potato chips. I like Spanish tortillas. I'd skipped this recipe originally, because dumping half a bag of potato chips into my eggs didn't exactly align with my dietary ambitions at the time. I shouldn't have worried about it. I ate three bites and threw the rest out. I would think that food cooked with half a bag of potato chips would be salty, but it wasn't. It was remarkably underseasoned, and the texture was weird, to the point of being gross. I'm pleased to say that I hated this one. I could have been in trouble if I thought it was delicious.
Last night, I served one of my old Dorie favorites: Creamy Cauliflower Soup Sans Cream. To go alongside, I made Socca from Vieux Nice, which is a simple batter made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, and chopped rosemary. A thin layer of this goes into a cake pan, where it's baked for a few minutes, then broiled to brown and (ideally) burn the top.

I didn't cook mine properly. I baked it for the specified amount of time, but hit a snag with my broiling. My oven is gas, but the broiler is electric, and takes a looooong time to get going. I switched over from baking to broiling, and let it sit there for quite a while, but I don't think the broiler was even warm yet when I finally took the socca out of the oven. I made the executive decision to remove it, even though there were no brown or burnt patches, because it looked like it was drying out.
Not a looker.
For such simple ingredients, the flavor was surprising and delicious! Chickpea flour. Who knew? The best bits were the crunchy edges, so I imagine this would have been even better when cooked properly. Dorie isn't joking when she says it should be eaten immediately. When Matt got home from work, his portion was gummy and dense. He ate it anyway, but after tasting both, I can confidently say it was much better hot out of the oven.

Despite the fact that easyjet flies cheaply from Naples to Nice, I haven't really been interested in going, because it's so expensive to stay there. Now I kind of want to go, just to try "real" socca. We'll see.