Elote Inspired Tostadas

Aunt Suzy says

I saw this article and recipe in last week’s Taste section of our local newspaper and that was all the inspiration I needed. The headline was “One more taste of summer” and I said yes, please. Tomatoes and corn are still plentiful here in Minnesota and I have not yet had my fill of either. If you know us here at S&SK you will already expect that I made a few adaptations to the recipe, but I think following the original, using my recipe or making up your own riff would all end in a great tasting tostada. We both loved these, and as Randy said “this has great mouth appeal”. Indeed!

Elote-inspired Tostadas with Corn, Chicken and Avocado

This note is from the original article: Elote, or roasted corn on the cob, is a popular street food in Mexico, and is often served with condiments such as Cotija cheese, lime juice, mayonnaise and ground chile peppers.

This recipe makes approximately 8 tostadas.

This tostada consists of layers (starting from the bottom) of avocado, corn, chicken, cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced onion and optional cheese. Prepare the layers as follows:

For the chicken: Shred approximately 2 cups of cooked chicken. This could easily be from leftover roast or rotisserie chicken or cook up a couple of chicken breasts. We baked 2 bone-in/skin-on breasts sprinkled with some ground cumin and ground chile. (I had ground red Hatch chile on hand.)

Once the chicken is shredded, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet on medium high. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic. Saute for a minute stirring constantly. Add the chicken, saute for another minute or two, then add 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles. Cook for another couple of minutes until heated through all chicken is coated with the sauce. Stir in a squeeze of lime and some salt, to taste. Set aside. The chicken can be served warm or room temperature.

For the corn: You’ll want about 2 cups of corn. I got that amount from 4 large ears of sweet corn. Shuck the corn and then slice the kernels off the cobs. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Once hot, add the corn kernels and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste). Saute, stirring often until some of the kernels start to brown. Remove from heat, turn into a bowl and set aside to cool. Once cool, add 1-2 teaspoons mayonnaise, a squeeze of lime and some salt, all to taste.

For the avocado: Mash 2 ripe avocados to the consistency of a chunky paste. Add a squeeze of lime and some salt, to taste.

For the tostadas:

Chop 1/2 yellow or white onion.  Seed and chop one ripe red tomato. Chop 1/2-1 cup cilantro leaves. These can be kept in separate bowls or combined for a quick pico de gallo.

Crumble some feta cheese or have on hand grated Cotijo cheese, optional.

Have on hand the required number of tostadas. You can make them yourself from tortillas – instructions included in the original recipe. But if you live near a Hispanic grocery, I say go ahead and buy a package! We got two meals of 8 tostadas each from our package with enough leftover to give to friends Sue and Al for a meal! NOTE: If you’re making these for kids, I think hard taco shells might be easier for them to eat. Just a thought.🙂

Assembling the tostadas:

Spread some avocado on the tostada. Add a layer of the corn, then some chicken. Top with the onion, tomato, cilantro and cheese if using. If you love lime, squeeze a little on top. Dig in!!

Vegetarian option:

The next night we made vegetarian tostadas, starting with a layer of refried beans, then adding the corn on top. Instead of mashing the avocado, we chopped it and added it on top with the onion, tomato, cilantro and cheese. Rave reviews for this approach too!

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Margaux says…

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted anything, and I never would have thought that I would break our silence with potato salad. But potato salad is definitely a favorite around here…we’ve posted quite a few! And this one is definitely my current favorite! I’ve made it two times in the last week, and also made a batch of just the pickled onions and celery for us to munch on with our sandwiches at lunch. And I hope I can make some time to post some of the other delicious things we’ve been eating this summer!

Potato salad with quick pickled onions and celery

adapted from Martha Stewart Living June 2016

3 lbs red new potatoes
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp celery seeds
3/4 cup packed fresh dill, chopped
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ slices
1 medium sweet onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with 2 inches of water; season with about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cook until easily pierced with a knife, 12-15 minutes. Drain and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, 2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, celery seeds, and dill. Add celery and onion and toss, and set aside to sit for about 15 minutes. Quarter potatoes when completely cool and add to bowl along with olive oil. Toss and serve.

chicken white bean chili

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We love making this recipe for White Chili, something I learned when I moved to Minnesota 20+ years ago. It’s in both of our regular rotations in the fall/winter season. So it caught my attention when my friend Ruth brought a different version of “white” chili to a gathering recently. I thought it was delicious so asked her to share the recipe. This variation on white chili is from the Neelys, a couple I enjoy seeing on their Food Network show. They are a lot of fun to watch cook as they share recipes for good home cooking.  “White” is stretching it a little with this recipe which uses ground red chili, but it is a close relative of our original and I think it’s delicious. We served it with Harvey Cornbread and a “winter ale”.  What did you and your family think, Margaux?

Margaux says . . .

I think this is my new favorite chili recipe! I love how easy it was to make, because I used canned beans and a rotisserie chicken, which made it a snap. It was also very easy to adapt for my vegetarian: I made it with vegetable broth, and then took out a couple of servings for my veggie son, and then added the chicken for the rest of us. One thing I did differently than the recipe was mashing 1/4 cup of the beans before adding them to the chili as a thickener…I found it to be a little soupy for my family. We like our chili thick. We also like to load our chili up, too, so I served it with sour cream, shredded Monterey jack, chopped avocado, and crushed tortilla chips. It was a hit!

Chicken and White Bean Chili

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups dried white beans OR 2 small (14.5 ounce) cans -navy, great northern or cannelini (AS used dried navy beans, M used canned cannelini)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced

2 medium poblano peppers, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1/2-1 chipole chili in adobo sauce, rinsed and chopped

4-6 cups chicken broth (mock chicken broth, Better than Bouillon no chicken broth or vegetable broth for vegetarian)

juice of 2 limes

2-3 cups cooked chicken, cubed, omit for vegetarian

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

lime wedges

Sliced avocado, optional

Sour cream, optional

Crushed corn chips, optional

Directions – preparation

If using dried beans, brine/soak the beans: Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 3 quarts of cold water.  Add the beans and soak overnight.  Alternatively, you can bring the beans, salt and water to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Less time for smaller beans, more for larger. In either case, drain the beans and rinse well. Set aside.

If using canned beans: Drain and rinse the beans.  Set aside.

Blend the spices:  Put the cumin, coriander and ground chili in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside.

Prepare the chicken: If using rotisserie chicken, take the meat off the bone and remove the skin.  Or bake 1 or more chicken breasts (skin-on/bone-in) at 375 for 40 minutes. Let cool, then take meat off the bone and remove the skin. In either case, shred or cut into cubes for desired amount. AS used the meat from one (largish) chicken breast which equaled 2 cups. M used meat from one small rotisserie chicken which also equaled 2 cups.

Directions – making the soup

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil. When shimmering, add the onions and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two and then add the spice blend plus the chipotle pepper. Stir for a minute or so to toast the spices. Stir in the broth and the beans. Stir to blend, bring to a boil then turn down the heat to simmer. If using dried beans, simmer for 30-60 minutes depending on the size of the bean until cooked firm, but not mushy.  Start checking at 20 minutes and then check every 10 minutes thereafter. (The navy beans were cooked in 30 minutes.) If using canned beans, simmer 20-30 minutes. In either case, you can mash or blend part of the beans to create a thicker chili, per Margaux’s message above.

Taste the soup. Add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust the spices if necessary. Stir in the lime juice and chicken and bring back to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes.

Directions – serving the soup

Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Pass the cilantro and lime wedges, along with the sour cream, crushed corn chips and/or avocado slices if using.

Zesty Winter Squash Soup

December 20, 2015

Zesty Winter Squash SoupAunt Suzy says . . .

It’s winter! Time for soups and stews. This one from our local newspaper caught my eye because Beth Dooley, creator the this recipe, is one of our local food/cooking gems here in the Twin Cities. Also, this looked so different from the soups I’ve been making with a mirepoix base. While some ingredients are familiar – squash, beans, tomatoes and kale – others sounded exotic in a soup – za’atar, orange zest and juice. Randy and I both loved this – we could hardly stop eating it! The recipe says it serves 4-6, but honestly after one meal we only had a tiny portion left for my lunch the next day. I will probably double the ingredients next time I make it.  I was excited that I met Beth yesterday at one of our local indoor winter farmers markets and was able to tell her how much we liked this soup.

Here’s Beth’s note from the article in the Strib: “Note: Think of this recipe as a series of suggestions; you can add other vegetables you have on hand, substitute chickpeas for white beans, try winter squash in lieu of pumpkin. Toss in leftover turkey or chicken and call it stew. The za’atar blend of spices can be found in the spice aisle of many grocery stores, culinary shops and food co-ops. From Beth Dooley.”  Check out Beth’s website for more about her and see all the great cookbooks she’s authored. A new book, a memoir, has just come out!

And here’s my note: I’ve been obsessed with using dried beans in soups these days following the Cook’s Illustrated brining method, so I’ve made some adaptations to Beth’s original which uses canned. If you want to take the quick and easy route, you can do so with Beth’s approach in her recipe. I won’t judge🙂  (This makes me laugh because when making this soup, I texted my blog partner “I’m kicking myself for using dried beans instead of canned!”) Actually, this was pretty quick and easy using the dried beans, it just took the extra step to brine/soak them.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced

1 to 2 tablespoons za’atar (see Beth’s note)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Generous pinch red pepper flakes

4 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock

1 cup brined dried cannelinni or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices (1 1/2 cups)

3 cups roasted kabocha or butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

grated orange zest from 1 medium orange (or to taste)

juice from half the medium orange (or to taste)

2 cups thinly sliced kale

Instructions

Brine the beans: Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts of cold water.  Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Alternatively, you can bring the beans, salt and water to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour. In either case, drain the beans and rinse well.

Prepare the squash: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. I used Kabocha squash of the orange variety, but green Kabocha, butternut or pumpkin would be excellent in this recipe. Whichever you use, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice into 1-inch slices. Line a baking sheet with foil and then put a skim of vegetable oil on the foil. Place the squash slices on the foil and turn to coat both sides with the oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, turn the squash over using tongs and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Let cool. Remove the skin with a knife and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside. (This step can be done up to 2 days ahead of making the soup.)

Make the soup: In a deep stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute till fragrant. Add the Za’atar, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir for a minute or two till fragrant.

Add the stock and the dried beans. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to low and simmer, covered, until the beans are done. This can vary depending on type and freshness of the beans you use from 30-60 minutes. I checked after 30 minutes and the cranberry beans I used were cooked through.

Stir in the squash and continue simmering for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Stir in the orange zest and juice, and parsley and continue simmering another 5 minutes until the flavors meld. Adjust the seasonings and add the kale before serving hot.

Tuscan White Bean Stew

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

In our ongoing 2015 series of soups and stews, we wanted to revisit one we make regularly and love. We did this recipe a couple of years ago which was a riff on today’s Cook’s Illustrated stew. This recipe is found in THE Cookbook, as my brother John calls it – The Science of Good Cooking from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s chock full of just what it promises, cooking science! The 2013 version used Italian sausage as the meat flavoring and cabbage as the vegetable. Today’s version uses pancetta and kale. While I liked both of these spins on the stew, I think the perfect combo will be sausage and kale. We will report back!

Margaux says . . .

I love this stew, and was excited to make this variation! This stew is so hearty and delicious, I’ve made it with the sausage and cabbage several times. I agree with Aunt Suzy, though, that kale and sausage would be the perfect combo. I will definitely make it that way next time! I love serving this with a loaf of crusty sourdough and a green salad. Yum!

Ingredients

Table salt
1 pound dried cannelini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
1 tablespoon EV olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large onion, medium dice
2 medium celery ribs, ½-inch dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a garlic press
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale,  stems trimmed and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Black pepper to taste

Brining the beans: Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Alternatively if you’re in a hurry, bring the beans in the brining water to a boil. Turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour.  For both methods, when done soaking, drain and rinse well.

Making the stew: Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Remove all racks except the bottom one.
Heat oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 6 to 10 minutes. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), abut 45 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the prepared greens and tomatoes. Cover pot, return to oven, and continue to cook until beans and greens are fully tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer.

Remove pot from oven and submerge rosemary sprig in stew. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves and rosemary sprig and season stew with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over toasted bread, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil. Alternatively serve with a nice crusty baguette.

Deconstructed Cabbage Stew

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

It’s soup season and we love soups and stews here at S&SK! We’ve decided to do a Soup/Stew series this fall/winter season where we cook and blog about new recipes like this one and revisit old recipes to provide updates on some of our favorites. We just decided this late last week and voila! this recipe appeared in our Minneapolis paper in a regular column Sunday Supper.  The Minneapolis contingent of S&SK loved this dish (slightly adapted in ingredients and method from the original), both with and without the sour cream. We served with a baguette and some dark beer. Randy and I both thought it would be really good with a sour dough bread as well.

Deconstructed Cabbage Stew

Margaux says . . .

Jason and I loved this, too! The kids not as much, but since it was such a hit with Jason and me, I will try it again…I think the new flavors were what put the kids off, and sometimes we just need to try things a few times before they like it. The fun part about this was that my 6-year-old loves knowing what country our foods originate from, and we’ve never really had Hungarian food before, so he was really excited about this. We pulled out our world map and found where Hungary is, and then looked it up on the internet. We looked at pictures of Budapest, of the countryside, talked about traditions there, what music they listen to and different foods they eat. This is something I started last year when I was homeschooling him, and it has just become sort of the norm around here. His favorite so far is “Italian night,” which of course we do on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes we really “do it up” and make up a restaurant name, create a sign for our restaurant, put on music from that country while I’m cooking. It’s really fun!

I also served this with a baguette…I’ve been making my own bread lately with a book Aunt Suzy got me, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,”  which I can’t recommend enough! It makes bread making so easy, and the results are amazing. The baguette was sourdough, and it went perfectly with the stew. We had it with a cotes du Rhone, because it’s what we had on hand, and it was pretty good!

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew

Ingredients
1 1/2 lb. ground pork, beef or dark-meat turkey (Margaux used ground pork and AS used 1 lb. ground turkey)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1/2 medium head regular or savoy cabbage, cut in 1/2-inch strips – about 12 cups

1-2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire or Pick-a-Peppa sauce

1/2 c. long grain rice (white or brown)

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dried

Sour cream for serving

Directions

Cook meat over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pot, drain grease and wipe with a paper towel. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, carrot and cabbage. Sprinkle with paprika, allspice and cayenne and stir to blend. Add the browned meat back to the pot and cook, stirring, until cabbage is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire or Pick-a-Peppa. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until cabbage is tender, 20-40 minutes to taste. (AS likes things more al dente so cooked for just 20 minutes.)

Add rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until rice is just tender (it will cook more off the heat), about 15 minutes. If using brown rice, put in when you add the stock, etc.

Stir in dill. Serve in soup bowls with dollops of sour cream.

Vegetarian directions – from Margaux:

I have one vegetarian in my family, so any time we have a dish with meat, I have to make a veg version. This one was really easy. Cook the stew according to directions, just eliminating the meat at the beginning (and using vegetable stock, of course). When you add the rice, also add one can (or two cups cooked) great northern beans. We thought the beans were a great addition to the stew!

Holiday granola

Margaux says…

This time of year, when peaches are extra, super delicious at the farmer’s market (and those 4 lb boxes at Trader Joe’s! Yum!) my favorite breakfast is yogurt, granola and peaches. It’s really like a heavenly dessert for breakfast. Juicy, sweet peaches. Creamy, rich (whole milk, of course) yogurt. And crunchy granola, with tons of nuts and a hint of salty-sweet. I also have it for dessert sometimes, too (it’s great on ice cream!) And for a mid-day snack. We walk through one of those 4 lb boxes of peaches in about a half a week!

Holiday Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

The granola is just as an important ingredient as the peaches. It can’t be too sweet, too chewy, or too hard. Supermarket granola, even the best kind, always has a weird aftertaste to me, almost like a coating is left in my mouth. I really don’t like it. Thankfully, making your own granola is really easy. I have two recipes that I use, both from my Aunt Judy. I’ve already posted one, the original “crunchy granola,” that I make on a regular basis. It’s very cheap, quick and easy. I also use this recipe, which Aunt Judy calls “Holiday Granola.” It has a few more ingredients (more nuts!), and uses real maple syrup instead of honey and maple flavoring like the other one. My aunt makes it for friends and family members as Christmas gifts, which is how I first tasted it. It makes a perfect Christmas gift because of the pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) and dried cranberries: it’s red and green. I prefer it to the “Crunchy Granola” recipe, but don’t make it as often because it’s quite a bit more expensive. But it is totally worth it!

Maple Pecan Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Holiday Granola

4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup large flake, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ, preferably untoasted*
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries, or other dried fruit blend (optional)**

* I’ve made this gluten-free by substituting flax meal for the wheat germ and had great results.

**I leave out the dried fruit during the summer because I don’t want it competing with my delicious in-season fruits. Totally your call, though. 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Heat maple syrup, oil and salt together, stirring to dissolve salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in large flat pan (I use a large baking sheet and it fits perfectly).  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or more, until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Sprinkle dried fruit over granola and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in airtight containers.

Note: I have subbed all sorts of nuts for the ones suggested, just sticking to the same measurements. In this last batch I swapped half the pecans for cashews, and in the past I have used chopped walnuts in place of pecans, pistachios in place of pumpkin seeds and an additional 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in place of sesame seeds. Just make sure all the nuts are raw and unsalted!