Alejandra’s Sweet Chipotle Pickles

28th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Chiliheads, easy

The chipotle is a beautiful thing; a dried, wrinkled morsel of spicy, smoky goodness, full of flavor and pungent aromas, and ready to add depth to many dishes.

Chipotles begin life as lovely, deep red jalapeños that have been left on the plant to ripen fully. When the fruit has begun to give up its moisture and is wilting slightly, it’s harvested, and smoked in a closed chamber over wood fires, drying and preserving it, and imparting that distinctive and wonderful smokiness.

The morita variety (Spanish for “little blackberry”) is a lovely dark reddish purple pod. This is the typical variety of northern Mexico, and the one most often found in the United States. It is not smoked as long or as deeply as the ahumado variety, so its flavors are more subtle and fruity. They’re easy to find in any Mexican grocery, and many supermarkets will have them in hanging plastic bags.

Daniel’s neighbor, Alejandra, a wonderful cook, introduced him to these fantastic sweet pickled chipotles, and graciously shared the recipe with us. They’re fantastic with huevos rancheros, or on a burger, or used to spice up a grilled cheese sandwich. Try them in an egg salad, or with some lime juice, cilantro and chopped onion as an addition to some simply cooked beans. Or, add some zest to a quesadilla. Read more…»

Orecchiette with Sausage & Grapes

26th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy, pasta

I was describing this dish to a friend the other day, explaining that, yes, grapes and Italian sausages really do work wonderfully together, and found myself getting hungry for it. I knew what was going to be for dinner!

The sweet, slightly tart grapes really enhance the flavors of the sausage, and add a wonderful textural element to the dish. It’s a fairly quick dish to put together, especially if all the preparation is done prior to turning on the gas.

To my palate, sweet sausage, adding in some heat by toasting red pepper flakes in the oil, offers a better balance of flavors than using hot sausage, and brings more life to the party. The orecchiette (little ears) pasta is a perfect vehicle for the sauce, and makes a lovely presentation. The yellow bells add wonderful flavor – red or orange will do just as well. It’s a great dish for a spring supper, and the kids will love the grapes! Read more…»

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Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

23rd April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Sides, easy, vegetarian

It seems no one is ambivalent about Brussels sprouts; people love them or hate them. Personally, I think the reason more people don’t enjoy them is because, as children, they were tortured by mushy, overcooked sprouts, bitter and reeking of foul smelling sulphurous compounds. It wasn’t the sprouts’ fault. It’s time to forgive the little green globes, and find a place in your heart, and your diet for them.

Sprouts are a wonderfully nutritious vegetable, and all they require to offer their goodness is a little tenderness, a little care in preparation, and no ovecooking!

Here, we blanch the sprouts before roasting to cut down on the cooking time. Then, the sprouts are tossed with a little olive oil, balsamico, thyme, salt and pepper, and roasted in the pan to caramelize them and bring out their wonderful sweetness. Read more…»

Chicken Tortilla Soup

12th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate, Soups

Based on a Rick Bayless recipe

This is a remapping of one of Rick Bayless’s recipes for those who want a more hands-on approach to the dish. As usual, we’ll do everything we can to extract the most flavor possible from the ingredients, creating something absolutely delicious, and almost 100% scratch made. We use tinned tomatoes, simply becuase it’s really hard to get fantastic fresh tomatoes during the cooler months, when a hearty, spicy soup like this is most welcome, and also just becuase they’re really good. Choose a quality brand, preferably all natural. The fire roasting brings up the smoky flavours of the soup.

The method isn’t tedious, but it does take some care. We’ll golden-brown the chicken, rendering some of its fat in which we’ll cook the onions. Then, the chicken gets another turn in the pot, browning to deliver more of its chickeny goodness. Read more…»

Chicken Marrakesh

10th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Main Courses, Moderate

This is actually the dish that inspired the creation of Marrakesh Sunset in the first place. We’d gone out for a lovely Morrocan meal, and I fell in love with a Chicken Tagine, with Citron Confit, or preserved lemon. After its haunting my dreams for a couple weeks, I didn’t just want it, I had to have it. So, I looked up a dozen or so recipes for similar dishes, spent several hours experimenting with the balance of the spices, and this delightfully simple but richly flavored and delicious dish was the result.

This is traditionally cooked in a tagine, a shallow clay pot with a tall, conical lid designed to seal in the goodness. The stew would be braised in the tagine until tender; then, the lid would be removed, and the pot brought to table for service. The recipe here is adapted for the cooktop using a 4-5qt sauteusse, deep skillet or even a Dutch oven, but if you have a tagine, it’s even better. Read more…»

Chili Canario

6th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate

Chili is one of those ‘controversial’ foods. Almost everyone loves it, and each has at least one opionion about what it is, and what it is not. There are national and world-wide competitions in which contestants try to prove that theirs is, in fact, the best there is. Some like it hot and spicy, and others like it hotter and spicier. One thing is constant; according to the International Chili Society, “Never has there been anything mild about chili.” Well put!

Here’s my version. It’s spicy and rich and wonderful. The Chili Casablanca has some little surprises that add interesting dimensions to the dish. It’s not flame-thrower hot, but presents plenty of warmth. If you want more fire and even more flavor, add a little Flavorevolutions Fatal Attraction hot sauce when you serve it — it complements the spices beautifully. Or, chop some fresh Habaneros, red onions and cilantro to sprinkle over the top. For a twist, garnish with wedge of lime. Read more…»

Fusili with Tomato Cream

3rd April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Main Courses, Moderate, pasta

Tomato cream sauces can be wonderful, and are a great addition to the culinary repertoire, but often, they end up a little lacking in that wonderful tomato flavor that we crave. My approach is to turn the knobs to eleven, amping everything up, so that when the cream is added in the final steps, there’s still lots of tomato goodness, tons of flavor and amazing mouth-watering aromas. And, we’ll do it without tomato paste.

The method is simple, but requires a little attention. We’ll cook down and caramelize the tomatoes, add some sun-dried to amplify the flavors, and use an unexpected ingredient. (Even if you think you hate anchovies, try it my way. They add some body and depth, and amp everything up, but won’t make the sauce fishy; you won’t really taste them, but you’d notice if they weren’t there.) Read more…»

Citron Confit – Salt Preserved Lemons

1st April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate

Once you’ve had preserved lemons, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without a jar of them in the pantry. They have a bright and lively taste, without being overly sharp, and bring lemony goodness to many dishes.

You can order them from Middle Eastern specialty shops, but they’re really easy to make,
and you’ll know exactly what to do next time that generous neighbor brings you a big bag of fresh lemons from their overly prolific tree.

An open jar will keep in the fridge for at least a year, though you’ll use them far more quickly than that, so be sure to have another jar or two “doing their thing” on the counter top. It takes six to eight weeks before before they’re really ready to use, so what are you waiting for? You’ll want these on-hand when you get your Marrakesh Sunset, so you can immediately do a batch of Chicken with Citron Confit and Olives! Read more…»