Monday, April 28, 2014

Bourbon Pecan Tart

I love pecan pie, but this is really something new, from Jamie Oliver...It's quite "bourbony" and so addictive. The pastry is also very unique--with orange zest to add flavor. If you afford to buy lots of pecans (haha), this should be your go-to pie!

Sweet Pastry:

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup butter, cold, diced
zest of 1 orange
1 egg
a splash of milk

Combine the flour and sugar by hand or in a food processor. Sprinkle in the butter and zest, and combine with a pastry cutter or pulse until in pea-sized crumbs. Add the egg to the mixture, and a splash of milk--I say a splash because depending on your flour and the temperature and humidity, you will need more or less.

Continue blending until it all comes together into a ball. Flatten slightly and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350F and Roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Lightly oil a pie plate and place the dough inside, cutting off any excess and pressing down the edges.

Scrunch up a square of parchment paper, and then unwrap and use it to line your pastry. Fill in right up to the top with rice. This prevents the pastry form sinking into the pan. Place in the oven, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and rice, and cook again for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.


15 oz. pecan halves
3 large eggs
6 oz. sugar (1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 bourbon cup whiskey

Preheat oven to 350F.

Bash up half of your pecans in a zip-lock bag with a rolling pin.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and cinnamon. Add in the bashed pecans and mix until completely blended.

Add the molasses, melted butter, and whiskey, and fold in the halved pecans.

Pour into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into the pie (it will be slightly syrupy at the bottom when cooled!).

Delicious with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jamaican Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa

I first tasted real Jerk chicken (and pork) on a trip to Jamaica with my family many years ago....It was so good that I still think about it! Today I decided to give it a try, considering I had all of the required ingredients. This chicken really needs to marinade for a good long time, for several hours or overnight.

This is tangy, sweet, and a bit spicy--and it smells amazing. I am not a huge fan of really spicy foods, so one might consider this recipe the equivalent of "medium" spicy (like medium salsa). If you want it more spicy (you crazy folk...) you can add a chili to the mix.

The mango salsa (more of a salad really) complements the chicken fantastically if your mangoes are ripe--make sure they are slightly soft and brightly colored. I used the smaller, yellow mangoes, not the red and green ones for this. The salsa has tangy, sweet, and sour flavor. Plus it's really pretty!

Chicken Ingredients:

-1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced up
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. rum
- 2 Tbsp. vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. oil
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1.2 tsp. pepper
3-4 chicken breasts

Combine all of the ingredients (minus the chicken, of course) in a food processor until smooth.


Pour into a large zip-lock bag with chicken, and squash it all around. Let it marinate for several hours--overnight even. The longer you marinate, the better the flavor!

To cook, preheat your grill and then set the heat to medium. Place on your chicken and let cook on each side for approximately 6-8 minutes.

Mango Salsa Ingredients:

- 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1/4 tsp. salt

Combine, let sit for 10 minutes. Serve everything together! Super easy, right?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mexican Supper with Ancho Chili Salsa and Chorizo Queso Dip

So I get this really highfalutin magazine called "Bon Appetit" that often has yummy recipes, but tends to call for really random ingredients--some cut of meat that would cost your pay check, some vegetable or herb you have never heard of that "you can find at your local speciality food store" (pshh! like I have one of THOSE around here!). Anyway, so I do actually sometimes find workable recipes in it, and this week I came across an amazing idea--a Mexican feast!

Now this doesn't mean you get to go out and buy your taco "kit" or your fajita "kit" and some Tostitos chips and you're good to go. NO...this means you get to use awesome, real ingredients to make something funky, fresh, and REALLY Mexican. Trust me, you'll go for this. 

These recipes are simple, cheap, and don't require any ingredient that you've never heard of (at least I hope...).

This Ancho Chile salsa is really sweet and tangy, with a definite spiciness to it (I would say it qualifies as "medium" spicy compared to store-bought stuff). The queso is also really something. It's uh-mazing with chorizo in it (who would have thought?).

I also made a delicious steak with grilled vegetables to go with our tortillas and sauces, and I will tell you what I did for that at the end. 

Ancho Chile Salsa:
-1 1/2 oz. dried chiles de arbol
-1 1/2 oz. dried ancho chiles (both types can be found in the Mexican section where all the spices are)
-1 medium white onion, chopped
-4 garlic cloves, peeled
-1 Tbsp. kosher salt
-1/2 cup white vinegar

Toast the chiles in a dry pan over high heat, turning often, until fragrant. This should take 3-5 minutes. Let them cool slightly.

Next, pull out the stems and seeds (you may need to cut the stems out of the ancho chiles). Place the chiles, onion, garlic, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of water into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until very soft.

Puree the chile mixture in a blender until smooth. Mix in the vinegar, and let it cool while you start on your queso dip.

Chorizo Queso Recipe:

-1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
-6 oz. chorizo, casings removed
-2 1/2 cups half and half (or use half milk, half heavy cream, like I did)
-8 oz. Mexican melting cheese or Velveeta (I KNOW! The pros even use it!), cubed
-8 oz. Monterey Jack, grated
-8oz. sharp cheddar, grated
-Mexican Cojita Cheese/Crumbling Cheese
-Cayenne Pepper
-chili powder

First, add your vegetable oil to a pan and cook your chorizo until crispy--about 8-10 minutes. This stuff is amazing, and I have no idea why I never used it before! So flavorful and tangy! Set it aside on some paper towel.

In a large saucepan add in the velveeta/melting cheese and your milk/cream to the pan.

Stir occasionally until the cheese melts completely, about 8-10 minutes. Next add in the Monterrey Jack and cheddar and stir until smooth.

You can keep the cheese sauce over the heat until you are ready to serve up. Stir in 1/4 tsp. of chili powder and of paprika, and 1 tsp salt. Taste. Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle the chorizo on top, and then some Cojita cheese.

Grilled Steak and Vegetables:


-2lb. skirt steak, cut in 4 pieces
-4 garlic cloves
-1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime (about 2 limes)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-3 Tbsp. smoked paprika
-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
-1 Tbsp. ground cumin
-1 tsp. kosher salt
-1 tsp. onion powder

Puree all ingredients (except the steak, of course) in a blender. Pour into a large zip-lock bag. Add in your steak and turn to coat. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or until ready to grill.

When ready to grill, remove steak from marinade and scrape off any excess. Salt and pepper both sides. Grill on medium for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium doneness. Let cool for a 5-10 minutes before slicing, to let all the juices settle.

Grilled Veg:

-1 cabbage, quartered, core intact
-1 bunch scallions, trimmed
-1 white onion, halved with some root end attached
-1/3 cup chopped red onion
-3 Tbsp. lime juice
-1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Rub olive oil and salt over the vegetables. Grill cabbage for about 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, same for the onion. The scallions will only take about 4 minutes.

Chop up grilled vegetables into pieces, discarding the core and stems of cabbage and onion. Toss in a bowl with other ingredients.

Serve with steak and tortillas.

I added some peppers and cojita cheese on the side for some more toppings. Use whatever you like!

The Final Product! A Mexican feast! Oh, and don't forget those are probably going to want to mop up as much of that queso as possible...