Pasta procrastination





Does your kitchen equipment taunt you? Maybe it’s a stand mixer, gathering dust on your countertop. A cast iron skillet peering out from behind those lower-maintenance pots and pans. An immersion blender that hasn’t seen any action since 2003.

For me, it was three gleaming KitchenAid pasta attachments and a still-packaged pasta drying rack—staring me in the face every time I reached to grab their more popular cousin, the pizza stone. Then finally, a year after I got them as wedding gifts, it was their turn.

Fresh pasta

(Adapted from Mario Batali’s fresh pasta recipe)





You’ll need:

3 1/2 cups of flour 

5 medium eggs

Water to moisten as needed

Shape flour into a mound on a large flat surface (wood is ideal, but I used a large Corian cutting board, and any flat, clean surface will work) and form a large well in the middle of the flour. Crack the eggs in the well.







Using a fork, scramble the eggs inside the well and slowly begin to incorporate the flour working your way from the inside out.

You’ll have a shaggy mess on your hands at this point. If it’s too dry to incorporate into one ball of dough, add water. It should be sticky, but workable.

Add some more flour to your work surface and begin to knead the dough. If it’s too tough and hard to work with, add a little more water. Knead for 6-8 minutes. You’ll know the dough is ready when it’s smooth, elastic and doesn’t stick to surfaces.

Cover your dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes. This is a very important step.

If you’re attempting to hand-roll your pasta, more power to ya. For your sanity, I recommend the mechanical route.

Cut the dough into four or eight pieces (eight is easier to work with, but if you want long, wide sheets of lasagna, for example, you might want to do four). Flatten the first piece to about 1/2-inch thick with your palm or a rolling pin, and feed it through the pasta maker, starting with the largest thickness setting (usually the “1” setting).

Incrementally increase the setting each time you feed the dough through the pasta maker.

My pasta was a tiny bit too thick, I think, so next time I’ll follow the tips I found: pasta should absolutely be no thicker than 1/16 of an inch and a good rule of thumb is to roll it out to the second-to-thinnest thickness setting on your pasta maker. Repeat this with the other portions of dough and cut pasta to the desired shape. I ran my sheets through another attachment to make linguini.

Dust your cut pasta with flour and dry on a drying rack or flat surface for 20 minutes or so. If you aren’t ready to cook it right away, freeze in plastic bags for later use. Cook fresh pasta for 2-3 minutes and prepare as desired.







I’m already itching to make more pasta, and the next time I do, I think I’ll draw a little inspiration from The Geometry of Pasta, a fantastic graphic depiction of pasta’s many forms. This book is beautiful, elegant and simple in a way you probably never thought a cookbook could/should be.













And there’s enough material in there to keep my kitchen covered in a fine layer of flour—and to help ensure my pasta-making equipment will never again suffer from neglect.







Veggie burgers for the carnivore in your life







No offense, Morningstar, but your veggie burgers don’t hold a candle to these babies. While I can’t say they’ll satisfy cravings for a big, juicy hunk of ground beef (but let’s be honest, what veggie burger will?), they’re a ridiculously addictive, filling and flavorful meal option that anyone—even the most meat-and-potato midwesterners in your life—will thoroughly enjoy. Chockfull of fiber and veggies, they’re healthy to boot.

I first encountered these at Atwood Cafe in downtown Chicago—and since spent a few random afternoons reminiscing and searching Google for the recipe. Recently, when the food memory popped into my consciousness, a search yielded the recipe. FINALLY.

They’re as delicious as I remember them, albeit a bit tricky to keep in patty form when cooking. As much as you may be tempted (and I was), don’t try and grill these—unless you do it in a skillet of some sort that sits on the grill.

Cremini burgers with goat cheese and fig aioli (adapted from Atwood Cafe’s recipe)
Prep time: 5 hours
Cook time: 12 mins
Total time: 5 hours 12 mins
Serves: 6-8

 

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (slightly overcooked and sticky)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • goat cheese for topping
  • green onions for topping
  • whole wheat buns
  •  
    Fig aioli:

  • 4 tbsp fig jam or preserves
  • 1/3 cup mayonaise







Instructions
  1. Cook the rice per the instructions, except stir frequently to build up the starches and make the rice stickier.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until tender.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and the liquid is evaporated.
  4. Stir in the brown rice and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in a bowl with oats, cheese, thyme, garlic powder and salt and pepper.
  6. Cover the mixture and refrigerate until firm, 3 to 4 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step and make the patties immediately, but you’ll still have to refrigerate them for at least an hour or two to solidify them a bit. Otherwise, form patties after 3 to 4 hours and then refrigerate again, covered, for one hour.
  7. Heat a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Cook burgers, turning carefully with a spatula, until nicely browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side.
  8. Mix fig jam and mayo for fig aioli. Spread on toasted buns.
  9. Arrange burgers on buns, top with goat cheese and chopped green onions.

 
If you like risotto and mushrooms, you’ll LOVE these. And don’t skimp on the toppings—they really put them over the edge.







Living on the edge with slow-cooker carnitas







When it comes to activities that could cause bodily harm or physical destruction, I ALWAYS err on the side of caution. Meaning, I don’t partake. That’s so dangerous! is a big phrase for me. Leaving a slow-cooker unattended for a moderate stretch of time is on my list of no-nos. But alas, left with no dinner options and package of pork that would be unusable in a few days, I took a walk on the wild side.

I know what you’re thinking: That’s what a slow cooker is for. In fact, upon some investigation, I discovered evidence that debunked my fears in Crock-Pot’s own tagline: Cooks all day—while the cooks away!

Still, I couldn’t erase the visions of smoke pouring from my windows as I arrived home from work. So I’m a little paranoid.

After deciding to take the plunge, I made sure to add plenty of liquid and keep the cooking temperature on low. To my delight, I didn’t burn my apartment down. To Dave’s delight, he got fed that night.

These carnitas were perfect—tender and juicy with a wonderful depth of flavor. The pork I bought from a local mexican grocery store was simply labeled “pork cubes,” so I can’t be sure of the cut, but the meat fell apart in the sauce the minute I touched it with a fork. It was fairly lean but with really nice, thin marbling throughout. The majority of the other recipes I’ve seen call for pork shoulder or pork butt, so if your grocer doesn’t have anything labeled “pork cubes” (what an oversight!) get one of those cuts. While you could dress these up with cheese, sour cream, and a number of other complements, I recommend trying them first by themselves in a fresh, warm corn or flour tortilla. Perfection.

Slow-cooker carnitas
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 4 hours
Total time: 4 hours 15 mins
Serves: 4-6

 

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lbs. pork, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, plus a teaspoon of sauce from can
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of allspice
  • salt to taste
  • lime juice from 1 lime







Instructions
  1. Blend chipotle and garlic to a paste.
  2. Add all ingredients except for lime juice and salt to slow cooker and cook, covered, on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  3. Remove lid and shred pork with a fork—it should be tender and fall apart easily at this point. Keep lid off for the last hour or so of cooking to allow any excess liquid to cook off. Salt to taste. Squeeze in lime juice, or use lime to garnish after serving.
  4. Serve with tortillas.

 

I garnished with hot sauce and a generous squeeze of lime juice. These would also be fantastic in enchiladas, tamales or nachos. Easy, cheap, delicious.







Food Buzz 24×24: Talking Turkey—3 Turkeys, 3 ways








Hope you all are slowly coming out of a nice Thanksgiving food coma (and just in time to enjoy the last of the leftovers!). Obviously, this post is too late for this year, but be sure to flag it for next year if your turkey-cooking skills could use a little work.

As some of you may know, we have crowded, rowdy Thanksgiving every year at my parents’ house in Tucson—complete with tequila shots and sports gambling. The food is always amazing, but the birds don’t get as much love as they should.

The 50 or so lbs of turkey are my dad’s job, and suffice to say he’s more of a set-it-forget-it-and-go-have-a-bloody-mary kind of guy than a doting tender of the turkey. Plus he never thinks the bird is cooked enough, so it’s inevitably a liiiitle on the dry side.

When it comes to the dirty work, though, he’s your man.







Sorry, love you daddy, but I thought we could step our game up this year. And did we ever.

We did the usual turkey trio: one in the oven, one in the fryer, and one on an ancient charcoal grill that’s been around since Tucson was dirt roads and cowboys.







The ultimate consensus was that the brined, butter-slathered, oven-roasted turkey was the clear winner, but the others held their own.

So we’ll start with the star of the show—a massive, fresh (no frozen birds at our party) 22-pounder which I lovingly brined, slathered in a buttery marinade and monitored with a trusty digital probe thermometer. All that—and a little help from my friend Alton Brown—gave us one of the best birds to date.

The perfect roast turkey

You’ll need:

One turkey, thawed (recipe is for a 14-16 lb. bird)

2 sticks butter

1 tablespoon pepper

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon garlic powder

For the brine:

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 gallon vegetable stock

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 gallon heavily iced water

A container large enough for the bird and the brine

For the aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced in half

1 half onion, sliced

1 cinnamon stick

4 sprigs rosemary

6 sage leaves

The night before Thanksgiving, slightly tipsy off Ra’s dangerously strong whiskey and diets, I brined my bird. First, mix all the brining ingredients together—minus the ice water—in a large stock pot (I upped the ingredient amounts for our big bird).







Yes, that is a bottle of Jack Daniels in the background. No harm in maintaining my pre-thanksgiving buzz … besides, how else does one find the stamina to pull off Thanksgiving dinner for 50?? By the way, I had nothing to do with the Belvedere bottle reflection you see in the brine pot.

When the brown sugar and salt have dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat and let cool to room temp.

Add the mixture to your ice water and put the bird in. I have a last minute Ace Hardware run to thank for my brining bin. Technically it was plastic file folder container, but who’s counting? Worked like a charm.

Brine the turkey overnight in the fridge.

Here’s where it gets tricky; timing the bird perfectly is next to impossible, but follow Alton’s loose guidelines: About 2-2 1/2 hours for a 14-16 pound bird (temps to follow). I estimated that our monstrosity would take about 4-5 hours, plus 30-45 minutes to rest, so I put it in at 11 a.m. to be ready at 5ish.

First, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Yes, that’s right. Alton says it crisps the skin and gives you a nice golden brown color. Mine didn’t look as good as his, but since it was delicious anyway, I’m sticking to the plan.

Then, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it off and pat it dry. Place it in a roasting pan and set it aside.

Heat your aromatic ingredients in the microwave in a small bowl of water for a few minutes.







Once they have cooled stuff them in the turkey cavity. If the giblets are still there when you go in, you missed a step.

Now get to work on the butter mixture. Mix softened butter with your seasonings.







Now comes the fun part: The trick is to loosen up the skin enough that you can stick your hand in between the skin and the breast and massage the butter in.







Lovely, I know.

Then give the entire outside of the turkey a generous slathering for good measure.







Now comes a special Alton Brown trick: form a aluminum foil triangle to the breast like so:







Now remove it—you’ll use it in a minute.

If you don’t have a digital probe thermometer, I highly recommend it—either way, place your thermometer in the deepest part of the breast, sideways (see Alton’s video to get a visual). Now, put the turkey in the oven and put the timer on the outside of the oven. Start the time so you can keep track and set it to go off when the temperature reaches 161 degrees.







Let the turkey cook at 500 degrees for about 30 minutes to brown the skin. Then lower the temp to 350 and put the foil on the breast. This will keep the breast from drying out to much. Mine was cooking a little faster then I would have liked, so I lowered it to 325 about halfway through and then to 300 for the last hour. When the breast temp reached 161, pull that baby out and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Recruit your best carver (Dave in our case) and get to work!







As I mentioned, the turkey didn’t brown as I would have liked, but just look at that juicy breast meat. MMMMMMMMmmmmmmm. Plus, the gravy we made from the roasting pan juices had a depth of flavor like I’ve never tasted, thanks to the aromatics. And to think … we almost went sauce-less after my mother and Q’s near throwdown over gravy-gate 2009: the previous year’s baked-on stovetop gravy mess.

The fryer and BBQ turkeys were a little less time- and labor-intensive. I skipped brining, although if I’d had more time, I would have used the same brining process for the BBQ turkey (the fryer turkey doesn’t need it since frying locks the juices in.)

Fryer turkey

You’ll need:

One turkey, thawed

Dry rub of your choice

Fryer and oil of your choice (we used Canola oil)

First and foremost, read the directions on your fryer to avoid third-degree burns and house fires. The oil usually takes about an hour to heat (you’ll want it absolutely no higher than 350), so plan accordingly.

Rub your turkey generously with the dry rub of your choice (I used a cajun rub) and stick it on the turkey fryer hook thingy. Yup, that’s the technical term. (Your fryer should come with instructions for this).

Slowly and very carefully lower the turkey into the fryer like so:







Bronco Billy is our fearless fryer.

Give the turkey about 4 minutes of cooking time per pound. Pull it out, let it rest and carve it up.







BBQ turkey

You’ll need:

One turkey, thawed

Butter marinade (same as above with spices of your choice)

Charcoal grill with charcoal and a brick

Rub your turkey down with the butter mix, as I described with the roast turkey. I added a BBQ spices to mix things up.

To prepare our grill, we put a brick in the middle, surrounded by coals.







This keeps the heat evenly distributed and the temperature low and steady to avoid overcooking.

Heat your coals. When they’re ready, place the turkey directly on the grill rack.







Our 15 lb. turkey took about 3 hours and 45 minutes.







Cook until the breast meat is about 161 degrees. And by the way, don’t leave a digital thermometer in the turkey while it cooks as my dad did … it doesn’t end well.

Let it rest and carve.







And there you have it.







After all that, 4 lbs of stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn cassarole and appetizers, you’ll understand why I kept good ole Jack Daniels close by.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The one day a year when bingeing is socially acceptable …

… is nearly upon us!! Hip-hip-hooray!!!







As far as food goes, holidays don’t get much better than Thanksgiving. Last year’s Thanksgiving post pretty much covers things so I’m posting the link again (hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). There’s also my Southwest Thanksgiving post and the Paula Deen post to give you a little turkey-day inspiration. Also keep an eye out for a special Thanksgiving Day post. Happy gorging!

Backblogged

I won’t be one of those bloggers that pretends to have thousands of clamoring fans that didn’t know what to do with themselves when their favorite blogger went on hiatus. That being said, for the three of you out there who actually care, sorry for depriving you of dry humor and french toast recipes.

It’s been an insanely busy summer, but I’ll spare you the excuses and get straight to the good stuff …

Portobello, red pepper and goat cheese flatbread/pizza

You’ll need:

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1-2 portobello mushrooms, chopped

8 oz. goat cheese

3-5 cloves garlic, minced

Crushed red pepper  and salt to taste

1 bag of Trader Joe’s pizza dough (you can substitute other dough, but I love this one)

A pizza stone

Olive oil

Have I ever preached the merits of a good pizza stone? It is absolutely crucial if you want to achieve the perfect crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside crust. And take it from me—skip the parchment paper and slap that dough right on the stone. There is an art to this people, so allow me to explain the process:

Ideally, you’ll want to pull your dough out of the fridge an hour or so before you start to let it proof.

Then, you’ll set your oven to 500 degrees and put the pizza stone in to heat it up. Next, ready your ingredients.

In this case, I sauteed the chopped red peppers in a little olive oil for a while to soften them up (ever had a pizza with vegetables that were raw and crunchy? Nothing worse.) and then added the mushrooms in toward the end. Set your ingredients aside and let’s get doughing (forgive me for that one, I’ve been out of the food-humor game for a while). I cut the dough in half so each pizza will fit on the stone—that’s a ball of dough about the size of a baseball. You’ll need a flat, floured surface to work on.

Press your fingers into the dough about an inch inside the outer edge to form a crust. Then press down in the middle with your palms to flatten the dough, and start pulling the dough apart with fingers. Once it is thin enough, you can slap the dough back and forth between your palms or hold one end and let the weight of the dough do the work to stretch it more. If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, here’s a good video tutorial—unfortunately I didn’t have the foresight to visually document this process.

At this point, your pizza stone should be heated. Professional pie-makers may turn their noses up at my method, but trust me, for the home cook this works like a charm: Take the pizza stone out—very carefully—and set it on your counter or stove top. Again, VERY CAREFULLY, place your shaped dough (no toppings yet) on the stone. The crust will start to cook immediately from the heat of the stone, so quickly brush the dough with olive oil, crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle the toppings over the surface. I added a few grates of parmesan for good measure. Stick the pizza stone back in the oven and keep a close eye on it. It cooks very quickly—in about 5-7 minutes. Remove the stone once the crust is golden brown and let cool for a while. The pizza should slide off the stone fairly easily.

Garnish with crushed red pepper and a bit of sea salt to taste.

Squash Soup

Squash

If one is good, three is great.

Case in point: Butternut, acorn and zucchini squash soup. Next time you consider whipping up a batch of that old fall go-to, butternut squash soup, consider this delightful remix.

Roasted three-squash soup

You’ll need:

1 acorn squash

1 large butternut squash

1 zucchini

1/2 of yellow or white onion

4 cloves garlic, roasted

1/2 teaspoon curry

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon white pepper

salt to taste

olive oil and butter for roasting

1-2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut up your squash in slices and scoop out the seeds, but don’t peel them.

Butternut squash_2

Drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan and place pats of butter underneath the squash slices on the pan, placing the squash flesh side down. This creates a delicious caramelization on the bottom of the squash that adds another layer of flavor and complexity to the soup. Throw your garlic cloves, un-peeled, onto the pan along with the squash. Cook it all for about 30-40 minutes or until it begins to look a little shriveled and feels soft to the touch.

Roasted squash

Roasted Acorn squash_2

Roasted acorn squash_3

Allow the squash to cool enough to handle it. Meanwhile, chop your zucchini and onion and heat over the stove top in the chicken/vegetable stock until the vegetables are cooked through. Scoop out the insides of the squash and add it to the stock pot, along with the spices. Mix thoroughly and then puree it in batches in a blender or food processor.

Squash soup

The white pepper gives this soup a nice creeping heat that is guaranteed to warm you up on crisp fall days.

Pulled pork, Baklavian treats and aptly named cocktails

BBQ_6

Advertising folk and the people who love them are pretty damn fun to hang out with. On the eve of the first day of my new full-time copywriting job, I hung out with some of my favorite people from my old full-time copywriting job.

Marc—marketing guru, general jack-of-all trades, and personal copywriting mentor—was gracious enough to have us all over for a Sunday, North-Carolina-style BBQ.

BBQ_5

The air was crisp, the hickory chips were fragrant, the baklava was, errr, “baklavian” (thanks Dana), and the drinks were … uhh … hot tranny messes?

Michael snatched my camera and took some action shots as I, sadly, was more interested in capturing the pork than the people.

IMG_1791

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whaaa?? Hot tranny messes? Get back to that part!” you say. OK. It really isn’t all that scandalous.

Fred the Hot Tranny Mess is the cocktail creation of Marc’s lovely and hilarious wife, Chris. It’s a mixture of unknown measurements of tequila, cranberry juice, lime juice, Cointreau and pink champagne. Yeah, exactly.

Cranberry margarita

OK, now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the BBQ.

BBQ_2

Sky_2

IMG_1795

After the unbelievably tender, 4-hour-slow-cooked pulled pork and delicious potato salad and coleslaw a la Chris, there were cupcakes from Phoebe’s (thanks Liz) and my homemade baklava.

Seems that whenever I’m in the same room with a pastry, it doesn’t live to be photographed. Remember this poor scone? The red velvet cupcake suffered the same fate:

Red velvet cupcake

This event also marked my baklava rematch—a long story which I’ll tell when I post the recipe (coming soon).



Baklava_9



Redemption and bear-shaped tostadas



Football Game Food



Last week, I made some delicious game-day food for the return of Sunday Football at Jim’s place.

Unfortunately, as a result of Cutler’s awful debut performance, I was too dejected to actually post about it.

Since I went to great lengths to make bear-shaped food, and the Bears redeemed themselves tonight in an exhilarating win, I think I’ll get around to posting about that meal now. Plus, this tortilla soup is way too good not to share.



Tostada and tortilla soup



Black Bean Bear Tostadas and Tortilla Soup

For the Tortilla Soup you’ll need:

3 chicken breasts

1 cup chicken stock

1 zucchini finely chopped

1 onion finely chopped

1-2 jalapenos (depending on how spicy you like it) minced

2 small tomatoes or 6 cherry tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can refried beans

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons corn flour or corn starch

For the Black Bean Tostadas you’ll need:

corn tortillas (recipe follows)

2 cans black beans

1/2  medium-sized onion, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

vegetable oil for frying

Let’s start with the tortilla soup. This recipe is easy-as-can-be thanks to the slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a large pot or dutch oven, but you’ll have to stir frequently, keep the stove at a low heat and keep a close eye on your soup. And if you don’t have a slow cooker, you really should invest in one.

Brown your chicken breasts in a skillet with some olive oil. Meanwhile, roast your red pepper and tomatoes with a little olive oil under the broiler until they get a nice char on them.



Roasted Red Pepper_2



Remove the blackened skin from the peppers and tomatoes—plastic sandwich baggies work well for this:



Roasted Red Pepper_3



A little char left on is OK. Blend your tomatoes and red pepper together until smooth.



Roasted Red Pepper_4



Add all the ingredients except for the corn flour to the slow cooker and cook on high for three to four hours or low for six to eight hours. Towards the end of the cooking, shred the chicken (I used two forks) and add the corn flour to thicken the soup. Garnish with tortilla strips (I made my own—see the tostada recipe below) and shredded cheese.



Chicken Tortilla Soup_2



For the black bean tostadas, first make your refried black beans.

Cook the minced onions in the vegetable oil until they become translucent. Mix all of the other ingredients (except the corn tortillas and vegetable oil for frying) in a skillet over medium heat. You can use the liquid from the black bean cans, as it will cook out over time, or reserve it and use it later if the beans dry out too much as you cook them. As the beans cook, mash them with a fork and continue to stir with a rubber spatula.



Black Beans



Cook the beans for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has cooked out, stirring frequently. Set aside.



Black Beans_2



To make the tostadas, fry corn tortillas until golden brown. I made my own corn tortillas so I could shape them into bear faces (don’t call me a loser, I’m just a really devoted fan). They’re easier than you might think—no tortilla press required. First, mix two cups corn flour (masa) with 1 1/8 cup water. Roll the dough out very thin on a floured surface with a rolling pin.



Corn Tortilla_2



Assuming you aren’t forming your tortillas into cute animal shapes, use a cookie cutter or the lip of a cup or bowl to cut circles in the dough and use a spatula to scrape them off the table:



Corn Tortilla_3



I, on the other hand, made bear faces using a shot glass to cut out ears (then cutting the circle in half) and affixing them to the sides of the bigger circle with a dab of water.



Corn Tortillas_6



Cook the tortillas in a lightly greased skillet over medium heat. They take about two to three minutes each.



Corn Tortilla_7



After they’ve cooked, deep fry them in vegetable oil until golden brown, about two minutes. Sprinkle the tostadas generously with salt and garlic immediately after they’ve been fried.



Tostadas



Top the tostadas with warm refried black beans and crumbled queso fresco.



Black Bean Tostada



These are great together:



Tostada and Tortilla



So even though the bears suffered an embarrassing and demoralizing loss last week, at least the food was good.

Sheesh, and I call myself a fan—sorry for focusing on the negative guys, congrats on your awesome win tonight—keep up the good work. A post on tonight’s football feast to come.

Squash blossoms, part 2: Squash blossom quesadilla



Squash Blossom quesadilla_6



After squash blossom experiment part 1, I had some unsused blossoms and thought I’d try Paula’s quesadilla idea. Here we go:

Squash Blossom, Onion and Orange Bell Pepper Quesadilla

You’ll need:

2 large tortillas

about 1 cup of mexican cheese (I buy the blended, packaged kind from the store)

6 or 7 squash blossoms

1/4 of 1 chopped yellow onion

1/2 of 1 chopped orange bell pepper (green or red would work fine also)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

First, cook your bell pepper, garlic and onion in olive oil until they are soft. This takes a while so I add water to keep them from burning and to speed up the cooking process. Just make sure to cook all the liquid out before putting them in the quesadilla.



Red pepper and onion



When the onions and peppers are almost done, thrown in the squash blossoms.



Squash Blossom



Cook until the squash blossoms are wilted. Remove the veggies from the skillet and set aside.



Squash blossom_3



Wipe out the skillet or grab another and let the vegetable oil heat up. I assemble the quesadilla by putting one tortilla down in the pan, adding cheese, then the veggies, a little more cheese and then the second tortilla. I know, it’s not rocket science.

Now just let the tortilla brown on both sides and make sure the cheese is all melted (medium to med-high is a good stove setting).



Squash blossom quesadilla_3



No need for a fancy pan that makes those cool grill marks, but if you want it, here it is.

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