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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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.

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!

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This winter, Randy and I had what we called “Downton Abbey Dinner Date”.  We would record DA and I would cook a soup which we would have while we watched the latest installment, usually Wednesday evenings.  It was a lot of fun and  great to have warming soups during our coldest months. While I made a few standbys, I tried some new recipes including this one. Margaux had pinned this recipe a while back and while searching for something to cook it caught my eye. I thought it looked really good and that it would be a really quick weeknight meal. We made a number of adaptations to up the deliciousness, but still keeping fast and easy in mind.  How quickly you can make this is determined by how much you cook from scratch (chickpeas, e.g.) or how much you use canned/frozen ingredients.

Margaux says . . .

I don’t remember pinning this recipe, but I’m really glad Aunt Suzy brought it to my attention! I just made it last night and it was a hit with the whole family. My son loved that it was spicy, too…he’s very proud that he has a taste for spicy food. If you have someone in your family that is sensitive to spicy things, I would cut the red pepper flakes back to 1/4 tsp. I used fresh chard because I couldn’t find frozen in my grocery store, but I think using frozen is a great idea as a time saver, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for frozen for the next time I make this.

Ingredients

5 1/2-6 cups cooked chickpeas (four 14-oz cans or 2 cups dried, cooked)

6-7 cups chicken stock, homemade or boxed (or Better than Bouillon no chicken broth for vegetarian)

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, small dice

1 celery rib, small dice

Swiss chard stems, diced (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Bay leaf

Small Parmesan rind, optional

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and  leaves cut into 1-inch pieces or 1-2 bags frozen chopped Swiss chard (see above note about stems)

Salt & pepper

Cooked small pasta – elbows, fusilli or shells, optional (we like whole wheat shells)

Directions

If using dried chickpeas, cook according to directions. 2 cups dried will produce the amount  of cooked called for in this recipe. If using canned, drain and rinse.

Combine 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas and 1 cup chicken stock. Using a hand or regular blender, process until the texture is like oatmeal. Set aside.

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Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, chard stems, if using, and rosemary. Saute over medium heat for 5 or so minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the pepper flakes. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add the pureed chickpea mixture, the remaining chicken stock, cooked chickpeas, bay leaf and the Parmesan rind, if using.  The amount of stock you will use depends on whether you like your soups on the thick or thin side. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the Swiss chard and cook for another 10-15 minutes until cooked but not mushy. Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaves before serving.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions until al dente.

To serve, place a little pasta in the bottom of the soup bowls and ladle the soup into the bowl. Serve with baguette if desired.

Pasta e Fagioli

December 31, 2011

Margaux says…

I think I’ve had enough meat and potatoes to last me a lifetime. I can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth…I’m a total meat-and-potatoes kind of girl. But we had the most rich food over the holidays (like, for example, potatoes whipped with a stick of butter, 8 oz. cream cheese, and a cup of sour cream!), and then had them as leftovers, and I think I’ve really had enough.

I found this recipe last year on Food 52, and have made it a couple of times. It’s quick and easy, and very heartwarming. And you can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon,  instead using 2 tbsp olive oil to saute the veggies, and vegetable broth or water in place of the chicken broth. We’re definitely going to be eating things like this for the next several weeks!!

Pasta e Fagioli
adapted from “Jenny’s in the Kitchen” blog on Food 52
serves 4-5

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small stalks celery
4 cups chicken broth
2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dittalini
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
grated Parmesan

1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring until crisp. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and transparent. Add celery and cook another couple minutes. Add broth, salt and oregano and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl mash 1 cup of the beans, then stir them into the onion mixture along with the remaining whole beans, tomatoes, and pasta. Simmer the soup, covered, for 15 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Then remove from heat and let stand, still covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in parsley and grated parmesan (I used about 1/4 cup). Serve with crusty bread.

White Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

White Chili – delicious but not widely known!  When I moved to Minnesota from the San Francisco Bay area years ago, my co-workers threw me a going away party. They were instructed to bring a gift that would either remind me of  California or prepare me for Minnesota.  One of the gifts was a box of white food designed to introduce me to the cuisine of Minnesota – things like marshmallow fluff, mayonnaise, white rice, etc.  This was a hoot, but I didn’t think much further about it until my first week in Minnesota when I found myself in a Lund’s restaurant on a chilly day with my new Minnesota co-workers.  I saw chili on the menu and thought it sounded perfect.  When I ordered it, the server asked me if I wanted the white chili or the red chili – white chili?  Of course, I had to order the white given my white food gift and I loved it! I had never heard of white chili before, but I knew I had arrived in Minnesota.  This is an adaptation of the dish I first had 17 years ago!

Cooks Notes:  This recipe calls for chicken or turkey broth and chicken or turkey meat.  It is easily made meatless or vegetarian by substituting mock chicken broth powder+water for the broth and omitting the meat.  I almost always make this with canned beans, using a combination of great northern and cannellini.  Today, I decided to start with dried beans, same combination.  What a delightful difference in flavor – but then it takes extra time.  Either way, this freezes well so make a bunch!

Ingredients

1 pound dried or 3 15-ounce cans white beans

6-8 cups chicken or turkey stock OR water with mock chicken broth powder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 medium yellow or white onions

4-6 cloves garlic

2-3 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 4-ounce cans diced green chiles

2-3 cups cooked chicken or turkey, diced (omit for meatless or vegetarian)

Garnish: sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, diced seeded tomato, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips

Preparing the Dried Beans

Put dried beans in a pot and cover with 3 inches of filtered water.  Bring to a boil, turn off heat and let sit for 45 minutes.  Drain the beans and then put them in a large soup pot or dutch oven.   Add the broth – more or less depending on how thick you want the chili.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until beans are cooked, but not mushy.  Set the pot aside while you make the chili base.

Making the Chili

Coat a saute or frying pan with the vegetable oil.  Bring to medium-high heat and add the onions.  Saute, stirring , for 5-8 minutes until soft and starting to brown.  (Turn down the heat to medium after about 2 minutes)  Add the garlic and saute 1 minute, then add the cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper and saute 1 more minute.  Add the diced green chiles and saute for 2 more minutes.  Add this mixture to the pot of white beans/broth.  Put the pot back on the burner, bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  If the chili is soupier than you want, you can simmer with the lid off for part of all of the 30 minutes to thicken and concentrate the flavors.  Otherwise, simmer covered.  IF USING CANNED BEANS: Follow the saute instructions, but in a soup pot or dutch oven.  Add the broth and canned beans, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Finishing and Serving the Chili

When ready to serve, add the chicken or turkey meat.  Stir and heat until serving temperature, but don’t bring to a boil again. Ladle into bowls.

Place the garnishes on the table so people can add the things they want to their individual bowls.  Serve with Orange and Avocado Salad and Harvey Cornbread.

Orange & Avocado Salad

Chop 1 head romaine lettuce.  Make a dressing of olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Toss with the lettuce, then place on a platter.  Peel 2 oranges with a knife, cutting off all rind and pith.  Slice and cut each slice into quarters.  Arrange over the lettuce.  Place 3 slices of red onion cut into half moons and one sliced avocado on top of the lettuce.  Drizzle with a little more dressing.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.