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Posts Tagged ‘Cumin’

Beer-Braised Pork Shoulder with Polenta | Relishing It

Another polar vortex, another no-school day for the kids.  So another cozy, cold-weather meal is in order.  It was difficult to come up with a name for this dish that would capture the flavors here.  It has so many things going on, but they don’t necessarily fit nicely into a category.  A little bit of Mexican from the ancho chiles and the cumin, and a little bit of Asian from the star anise and the cloves, brought together by the American craft beer.  At any rate, let me tell you about this delicious pork shoulder that you’re going to want to make more than once this winter.

Beer Braised Pork Shoulder with Polenta | Relishing It

For those of you who have a fear of tackling a large cut of meat, this recipe is an ideal entry point.  Braising a pork shoulder could not be easier and the results are dynamite.  For starters, and not to sound like a broken record– please use a piece of meat that has been raised properly, preferably local.  Braising can be done using any variety of liquids– broth, wine, milk, or plain water.  In this recipe I used a local craft beer that paired with the spices to develop a deep, wonderful flavor.  The pork works wonderfully with the sweeter tones of cinnamon/cloves/star anise/and allspice.  It also works well with ancho chiles and cumin.  Marrying the two combinations together is fantastic.  You’ll love it.  Be sure to top it with a bit of fresh jalapeño– it’s not that hot and the freshness really brightens up the flavors.

Beer-Braised Pork Shoulder with Polenta | Relishing It

We generally serve the pork shoulder on top of  polenta.  I love a creamy, hot bowl of polenta when it’s cold outside.  Polenta is basically just yellow cornmeal.  It’s origin is Italian and from what I gather, true Italians wouldn’t dream of putting dairy into their polenta, instead making it only with water.  I’m not Italian.  So, I opted for a couple pats of butter and a sprinkle of parmesan mixed in with mine.  I think my Fortify friends may have influenced this a bit.  You will find different variations of the grind size when buying polenta.  Medium ground seems to make the most satisfying polenta.  Some people think making polenta is fussy, but I haven’t found that to be the case.  I do however advise you to be ready to sit down and eat the moment the polenta is done.  It doesn’t stay creamy all that long before it starts to harden and become a bit clumpy.  While it still maintains it’s lovely flavor, the silky texture will be lost.  So, be ready to sit down at the table and enjoy this lovely meal.

Beer-Braised Pork Shoulder with Polenta | Relishing It

The Recipe: Beer-Braised Pork Shoulder with Polenta

(serves about 4 with leftovers)

For the Pork Shoulder:

2 tablespoons olive oil, for browning

about a 4-pound pork shoulder (bone-in gives a great flavor)

1 medium white onion, diced

7-8 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 4-inch long cinnamon stick

1 whole star anise

1 dried bay leaf

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 12-ounce bottle of really good craft beer (Locally,  Fulton’s Lonely Blonde or Indeed’s Midnight Ryder work really well.  One is a lighter beer and the other is a black ale.  The end results are each different, but both equally delicious.)

For the Polenta:

5 cups water

1 cup polenta, preferably medium grind

salt

a couple pats of butter

a few grates of fresh parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 250 °F.  Over a med-high flame, heat a large Dutch oven coated with olive oil until it is hot.  Pat the pork shoulder dry with a paper towel and season both sides of it with salt and pepper.  Place the pork in the Dutch oven and brown every side (ends, too) until a deep, dark caramel color has formed on all sides.  Remove from the pot and place on a plate.  In the same pot, add the onion and garlic, and a bit more olive oil, if needed.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  After about 3 minutes, add the the entire list of spices.  Stir and then add the beer.  Place the pork, along with any juices back into the pot.  Bring to an almost boil, then remove from heat.  Cover and place in the heated oven for about 3 hours.  You will know when the pork is done when you touch it with a fork.  It should feel tender, not tough.  It should practically fall off of the bone when gently tugged at.  If there is too much resistance, roast it a bit longer.  Be sure to have an oven thermometer, so you know the accuracy of your oven.

Meanwhile, begin the polenta.  In a large saucepan heat 5 cups of water seasoned with salt.  When it is boiling, sprinkle the polenta on the top.  Whisk everything together and reduce the heat to a medium simmer.  Continue to whisk every so often to avoid the bottom burning.  The mixture will eventually thicken up– the exact time will depend upon the size of the grain and how high you have the heat– so, I won’t give an exact measurement in minutes (anywhere from 20-40 minutes), just look for it to be the thickness that you desire.  When it is done, remove from heat and mix in a couple of pats of butter and a few grates of fresh parmesan cheese.  Polenta requires a decent amount of salt, to bring out the flavor– re-season, if necessary.  (Note:  leftover polenta can be spread out smoothly onto a baking sheet.  Refrigerate, then cut into squares.  You can bake or fry it and top it with all sorts of things– use your imagination!)

While the polenta is cooking, tend to the pork.  When the pork is done, remove it from the pot.  I like to make a smooth sauce out of the liquid, but the choice is entirely yours.  You can certainly skip this step.  Strain the liquid.  Then pour the liquid portion into a gravy separator to remove the fat, or use a spoon to skim it from the top.   Remove the cinnamon, star anise, and bay leaf and discard.  Place the remaining onions and garlic into a blender.  Then pour the liquid (sans fat) into the blender and blend it together (always be careful when blending hot liquids).  Return the mixture to the Dutch oven and re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Meanwhile, separate the meat from the bone and tear it into big chunks.  Place the meat into the sauce.  Serve with jalapeños and polenta, if desired.  This is a wonderful dish to re-warm, as the flavors deepen even more overnight.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

I’m now well into my sixth month of being obsessed with tacos.  Seriously, we’ve been eating them at least once a week for more than a half year, and I’m not even close to getting sick of them.  Tacos al pastor?  Sure.   Spicy shredded beef?  Yes.  And then there are these amazing carnitas tacos that we’ve been enjoying.  They’re perfect to prepare in advance (and I live for meals like this in the summer), they’re healthy (if you don’t go overboard), and they’re oh so tasty.

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas, or “little meats”, can be served simply as a stand-alone dish, but I love it in these tacos even more.  It’s a new addition to my repetoire, which also includes these, and these— both of which are also favorites.  This carnitas version combines the lively flavors of lime and orange, which pair beautifully with pork, cumin, and garlic.  The recipe couldn’t be simpler–  you can make it on the stovetop.  Perfect for when firing up the oven in the summer heat doesn’t sound so tantalizing.  Put all of the ingredients into a pot, no sautéing required.  When cutting your pork shoulder up into cubes, don’t trim off any fat– you’re going to need that so the meat doesn’t get dry.  Let it cook down for about 2 hours and then sear the pork at the end.  That’s it.  Did I mention that it’s completely delicious?

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

The fresh tomatillo salsa is a fantastic compliment to the carnitas.  You may be tempted to buy a ready-made salsa from the store, but don’t.  The freshness of this topping cannot be bottled and you’ll end up spending more on a store-bought version that pales in comparison.  It only takes a minute to either chop or pulse the ingredients together– definitely worth your time.  And as far as toppings go, I’m stuck on queso fresco cheese, white onions, and cilantro.  The combination is sublime and it tastes so fresh.  Hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

The Recipe: Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

For the Carnitas:

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes (do not trim the fat)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted then ground

2 teaspoons kosher salt

6-7 garlic cloves, chopped

Corn tortillas, queso fresco cheese, limes, cilantro, and white onions for toppings

For the Tomatillo Salsa:

4 tomatillos

1/2 medium white onion

4 garlic cloves

1 jalapeño

small handful of cilantro (around 1/3 cup)

juice of 1 lime

kosher salt

To make the Carnitas:  Place all of the ingredients into a large Dutch oven.  Add enough water to just cover the pork.  Bring to a boil, then simmer the pork uncovered for about 2 hours.  Do not touch the pork.  Let it do it’s thing.  After 2 hours, bring the heat up to medium/high and begin reducing the liquid for about the next 45 minutes.  When the liquid is mostly gone, sear all the sides of the pork pieces.  They will be tender and practically fall apart.  Keep a watchful eye at this point, as you don’t want them to burn.

To make the Tomatillo Salsa:  Rough chop the ingredients and place them into a food processor and give them a few pulses until the salsa is your desired consistency.  Alternatively, you can chop all of the ingredients by hand.  Make sure to season correctly with salt.

Source:  Carnitas recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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Spice-Marinated Feta with Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

It’s that time of the year when we start to have people over for light spur-of-the-moment gatherings again.  Here in Minnesota, we slough-off the heavy jackets, start working in our yards, and finally get an opportuntity to visit with our neighbors after the long winter.  Yes, I’ve been banging the drum about how much I enjoy the colder months, but I also get excited to invite guests over to our backyard for drinks and appetizers once the weather warms.  Today’s recipe is a tasty combination of marinated cheeses and fougasse.  It’s perfect to serve with a cocktail or two while you’re visiting with friends.

Spice-Marinated Feta and Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

Spice-Marinated Feta with Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

Spice-Marinated Feta with Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

Spice-Marinated Feta with Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

It may look a little fussy to make, but I assure you, it’s simple.  All it takes is combining cheeses and marinating them in olive oil with some spices.  The result is a beautifully flavored cheese that is wonderful when paired with some bread and olives.  The longer it marinates, the more flavorful it becomes.  I pressed mine into a glass square food storage container, since I wanted square bites.  But when chilling the cheese initially, you can also roll it into a log form and then cut it into pieces right before marinating.  It can last in your refrigerator for about two weeks.  I chose feta, but if feta isn’t your deal, try goat cheese, ricotta salata, or even a sharp blue cheese.  If you choose to use something a bit softer, such as goat, you can omit the cream cheese and just increase the total amount to 12 ounces.  You get the idea.  You have a fair amount of leeway with the spices.  If you prefer the flavor of other combinations, give them a try.

Simple Fougasse via Relishing it

Spice-Marinated Feta with Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

The bread is called fougasse.  This one is simple and may be a bit more crispy than traditional fougasse– which is fine with me.  I used the recipe from my favorite pizza crust (genius, right?), because I often have a bit leftover.  I’ve found that the longer the dough stays in the fridge, the more developed the flavor becomes.  I usually try to use it within two weeks, which timing-wise works out perfectly with the cheese.  Sit in the sunshine with your friends and neighbors and enjoy these fantastic nibbles.  Cheers!

Spice-Marinated Feta with Simple Fougasse via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Spice-Marinated Feta and Simple Fougasse

Spice -Marinated Feta:

7-8 ounces feta cheese (see note)

4 ounces cream cheese

zest of a medium organic lemon

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (California Olive Ranch is my go-to olive oil)

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

Simple Fougasse:

This pizza crust recipe, or use your favorite

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon coriander

(Note:  As I mentioned previously, you can choose to substitute a different cheese for the feta.  Ricotta salata, blue, or goat are good choices.  If using something soft already, such as goat, omit the cream cheese and increase the total amount of cheese to 12 ounces.)

To make the cheese:  Using a food processor, (or a bowl and wooden spoon) combine the feta and cream cheese until somewhat smooth.  It’s ok to have some chunks of feta.  Line a container that will hold the amount of cheese you have with plastic wrap.  I used a square food storage container (or place it on parchment paper and roll it into a tight log).  Fold the plastic wrap over the cheese so that it is entirely covered and gently push down– you want the cheese to become firm.  Find something to weight it down a bit (I actually ended up using some of my kids’ building blocks– they fit perfectly).  Then place a plate on top of that.  The goal is to compress the cheese as much as possible.  Place everything into the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm it up.

Remove the cheese from the container by gently lifting out the plastic wrap.  Cut it into bit-sized squares.  Place the cheese into a glass jar and top with the lemon zest, garlic, spices, herbs, and finally the olive oil.  Gently swirl the mixture around to make sure everything get coated.  If all of your cheese isn’t fully covered, add a bit more olive oil.  Cover and place into the refrigerator and let marinate for about three days and up to two weeks.

To make the Simple Fougasse:  Pre-heat your oven to 500°F.  Place a baking stone in it and let it heat for about 1/2 hour.  Sprinkle a work surface with semolina or all-purpose flour (semolina will not stick to the bread as much when baked).  Roll out a piece of the dough so that the size can fit on your stone.  Cut about 4 slits on each side into it with a sharp knife (see photo).  You may need to tug at the slits a bit, so they become a bit larger and more oval.   Sprinkle more flour on the back of a baking sheet or a pizza wheel.  Gently pick up the dough and place it on the sheet.  Make sure you are able to move it around freely, if not, add more flour underneath it– you want the dough to easily glide off the pan and onto the stone.  Brush olive oil onto the dough, then sprinkle with the spices.  Starting in the back of the stone, quickly and confidently glide the dough onto the stone from the pan.  Bake for just a few minutes (maybe 10, but it really depends on your oven– so keep a watchful eye) or until the bread looks to be a deep golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Enjoy with the spice-marinated feta cheese and some delicious olives!

Source:  Spice-Marinated Feta adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Thanks so much for stopping by today– have a wonderful weekend!  xo

Laurie

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Homemade Harissa via Relishing It

If you’ve spent much time reading food blogs or magazines, you probably know what harissa is, but for those of you that don’t (Hi Dad!), let me fill you in.  Harissa is a North African condiment made mostly from peppers and spices.  And it is amazing.  Like a punch-of-flavor-to-your-tongue amazing.  It’s often found on Moroccan tagines, but I’ve found so many more day-to-day uses for it.  I love to slather it on sandwiches.  Try it on this meatloaf with a bit of mayonnaise and some hot peppers.  Heavenly.  It’s also fantastic on an egg sandwich where the yolk is still a bit oozy.  Crunchy salads, or paired with carrots– harissa transforms an ordinary meal into something divine.

Homemade Harissa via Relishing It

Lemon for Homemade Harissa via Relishing It

Homemade Harissa via Relishing It

Homemade Harissa via Relishing It

If you’ve been visiting Relishing It for awhile, or taken a stroll through the ‘menu’ section, you know that I love to make my own condiments.  It’s not difficult, and to be honest, they just taste better than those bottled versions that are mass manufactured and sit on the shelf for months.  This mustard, ketchup, and red curry paste are a few of my favorites.  Harissa isn’t quite so common, but there really are a ton of recipes out there, and they are all a bit different.  Some use tomatoes, some don’t.  Some use fresh herbs, others stick with dried spices.  For this harissa, I was looking for something a bit smokey, but not too spicey.  I also wanted it to have a fresh, herb flavor.  If you want more of a kick, you can simply add more cayenne pepper or choose a hotter variety of dried peppers for the base.  One nice thing about this recipe is that you can easily manipulate it to suit your own tastes.  For my  part, I think this one turned out perfectly, so I won’t be changing a thing.  Top your Harissa with a bit of olive oil to store in the refrigerator for an extended period of time, it should last a few months this way.  But…it won’t.  You’ll eat it up in no time.  It’s that good.  Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Harissa via Relishing It

Cheddar and Stout Meatloaf via Relishing It

The Ultimate Meatloaf Sandwich with Homemade Harissa via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Homemade Harissa

(Makes about 1 cup)

5 dried Ancho chile peppers

5 dried Guajillo chile peppers

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground with a mortar and pestle (or use the flat side of a large knife to smash them)

1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground with a mortar and pestle

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

pinch of ground cayenne pepper, more to taste

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar (white or red wine vinegar will also work)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

sea salt, cracked black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons soaking liquid, or more, if needed

Place the dried peppers into a medium sized bowl.  Pour enough boiling water over them so they are covered.  Place a small plate on top of them to keep them submerged.  Cover the entire bowl with another larger plate, to keep the heat in.  Let sit for 1 hour.

When the peppers are soft, begin by reserving some of the soaking liquid.  Remove the peppers from the water.  Remove the stem and carefully dump out the seeds.  Place the peppers and the remaining ingredients into a food processor.  Process for a few minutes until completely smooth.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings and thickness, if necessary.  Store in a jar with a lid in the refrigerator.  Cover with a layer of olive oil, if intending to keep for an extended period of time (several months).  I don’t cover mine with olive oil, but I generally use it within a few weeks.  Enjoy the heck out of this!

Thanks for stopping by today, friends! xo

Laurie

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If you’ve taken a spin through my recipe section, you know that I pretty much love any and all types of food.  But meatballs are one of my favorite bites.  Last year I wrote this post, where I confessed that when we get together back in North Dakota, my mother often makes four different styles for our family holiday meal.  I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I certainly have the experience.  These meatballs were a huge hit with my family.  My kids (gasp!) even loved them, and they are proving to be borderline vegetarian lately. I served them with a simple quinoa side dish, but couscous, rice, or polenta would also be wonderful.

For this particular meatball, I wanted to use non-tradional flavors– at least non-traditional for a German-Hungarian from the Great Plains. I was in the mood for an ethnic twist.  Here, I made lamb meatballs infused with beautifully fragrant spices.  The toasted cumin– which smells amazing, by the way– and the coriander really stand out in this dish.  And the vibrant fresh herbs are heavenly.  I also made a red-wine sauce, and simmered the meatballs to add richness.  Turns out, I like the sauce enough that I could drink it by the ladleful.  Finally, I topped the dish with a bright chimichurri.  It adds a nice zing that really makes every bite ‘pop!’

These meatballs are very easy to make.  And they’re loaded with flavor– not just some bland lump covered in sauce.  For this recipe, I used a technique that makes perfect meatballs every time– I bake them in the oven.  The result is a firm, evenly browned meatball that is succulent.  Not dry, but perfect.   Buy the best ground lamb you can find.  The quality of your meat will always be reflected in your dish.  Also, buy whole spices if you can.  Toast them, as it enhances the flavor.  Once they’re toasted, crush them with a mortar and pestle, or anything else that ends up giving you mostly-ground spices.  In a pinch, even placing them in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin will work.  If you only have ground spices and don’t want to buy whole ones, don’t worry.

The Recipe:  Lamb Meatballs in Red Wine Sauce with Mint Chimichurri

(Serves 4 comfortably)

For the Meatballs:

1 tablespoon whole cumin seed, toasted and ground

1 teaspoon whole coriander seed, toasted and ground

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 pound ground lamb

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons toasted white bread crumbs

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

Red Wine Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon whole cumin seed, toasted and ground

2 cups crushed tomatoes

kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

1 heaping tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Mint Chimichurri:

1/4 cup packed fresh mint, roughly  chopped

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

about 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

kosher salt,

1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon (a bit of lemon zest can also be substituted)

water to loosen chimichurri a bit, if necessary

(Note:  To toast the cumin and coriander seed, place them in a small skillet on medium heat.  Stir or toss frequently and toast until the seeds become very fragrant, a few minutes.  Be careful not to burn the seeds.  Remove from heat and let cool on a plate.  Then use a mortar and pestle to grind them.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a 12-inch skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil until hot and add the chopped red onion and garlic.  Saute for a couple of minutes until tender.  Add the tomato paste,  red wine, ground cumin, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring to a boil, then immediately turn heat down.  Simmer for about 50 minutes with the lid on.

In a large mixing bowl, add the ground lamb, ground cumin and coriander seed, mint, parsley, red onion, feta cheese,  bread crumbs, egg, garlic, kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Gently mix with your hands.  Make sure to get everything incorporated, but being sure to not over mix.  Doing so will lead to a tough meatball.  Using a small scoop or form into balls with your hands,  drop onto the prepared baking sheet spacing them an equal amount of distance apart.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the edges of the meatballs are a deep golden brown.

Remove meatballs from oven and place in the red wine sauce.  Simmer together for about 20 more minutes so the flavors can incorporate.  If the sauce is too watery, leave the lid off and increase the heat, so the sauce can reduce.  If the sauce is a nice consistency already, simmer with the lid on.  When it seems to be done and the sauce is perfect, stir in the chopped parsley and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, using a mini-food processor (a blender or knife can also be used), add the mint, parsley, lemon, garlic, vinegar and salt.  Pulse a few times to incorporate.  Slowly add the olive oil — use more if you see fit.  Or add a bit of water to loosen the chimichurri.  Blend until smooth.  Taste.  Add more salt, if necessary.  Serve along with the meatballs and red wine sauce.  Enjoy!

I’m always delighted that you stopped by Relishing It  — thank you!  Have a wonderful day.

Laurie

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While we’re a few days closer to the holidays– and you’re probably expecting a sinfully decadent recipe– I’ve decided to shake things up a bit with this simple, wonderfully savory soup.  This winter warmer is one of my family’s favorites.  It’s modest, yet combines enough interesting flavors and textures to stand out.  For starters, can we talk about how fabulous smoked paprika is?!  I love the stuff.  And paired with the cumin in this soup, you get a real flavor explosion.  Add a little lime and cilantro, and you end up with a perfect, fresh complement to the spices.

The other key ingredient is hominy.  While I’ve been making this soup for a long time, I only recently switched from using the canned variety to dried hominy.  You’ve seen in previous posts that I always advocate using dried, rather than canned beans.  Well, I wondered if the same texture and flavor differences applied to hominy, so I had to give it a try.  Wow!  It really makes the soup that much better.  Dried hominy added a more ‘tooth-some’ (am I making up words again?) quality to the soup.  It’s firm (though not hard), and helps make the dish more substantial.  I won’t be going back to buying the canned version.

You may have to work to track down dried hominy.  I eventually found it in a local Mexican foods market.  The point is this– if you can find it, use it.  If not, the soup is still brilliant using canned hominy.  If you go the canned route, use about 3-4 cans, drained.  One thing to keep in mind, this soup will thicken more the day after it is made.  The hominy continues to soak up liquid, so you may want to add more broth on the following days if you have leftovers.  Make it– you’ll love it.  And as for those sweet recipes, I have a few up my sleeve for next week.  Have a great weekend!

The Recipe: Mexican Chicken and Hominy Soup

Serves about 6

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 white onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 quart canned crushed tomatoes

2 cups shredded roasted chicken

2 cups dried hominy, soaked overnight in cold water and drained

1  1/2 quarts chicken broth

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoon smoked paprika

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

juice of one lime

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the green bell pepper, onion, garlic, and jalapeño in the olive oil until tender, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, hominy, chicken broth, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook until the hominy becomes tender, about 30-40 minutes.  In the last 10 minutes of cooking time, add the roasted chicken.  Doing so too early will cause the chicken to fall apart.  When the soup is done, stir in the lime juice and cilantro.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve with tortilla chips and queso fresco, if desired.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by today.

Laurie

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Every once in a while I try a recipe that turns out so much better than I anticipated.  It usually ends up being a recipe that I crave days, weeks, or even months after I make the dish.  This is one of those meals, and it stunned me.  Sure, I expected it to be tasty, but to be honest I was more focused on the health benefits when I decided to make these cakes.  I didn’t expect the flavors to be so vibrant, the taste so fresh. And I had no idea that my family would love them as much as I did.

I was drawn to this recipe the moment I read it.  It is loaded with healthy ingredients that I generally keep on hand, contains Indian spices, and it’s in a tiny cake-form.  That’s right, I’m not above making a dish because I like little cakes.  Hey, they’re fun.  Another nice aspect to this dish is that is works as both a side accompaniment to a larger meal, or as the centerpiece with a salad or fruit.  Or how about this?  Stuff a couple of the cakes into pita bread along with some fresh vegetables like cucumber, tomato, and red onion.  Top with the sauce and it’s a perfect lunch to take to work, the park, or wherever you like.

The extra cakes from the recipe keep very well and heat up easily  without loosing any their wonderful texture.  It really is a nice meal to make at the beginning of the week that you can come back to over several days.  Just a note, you can roast a head of garlic for the raita (sauce).  I decided to use fresh garlic in the sauce, and it was incredible.  I substituted 2 cloves instead of the whole head, as fresh garlic is much more pungent.  Also, the roasted garlic need not be mixed into the raita, but can be served on the side.

The Recipe: Indian – Spiced Lentil Cakes with Raita

(2-4 servings)

Raita

1 -2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (substitute ground, if necessary)

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon seeded jalapeno

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or more)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lentil Cakes

1/2 cup mix dried legumes (lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, green or yellow split peas all work well)

1/4 cup brown basmati rice

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1/2  jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 cup leaves from pea tendrils, arugula, or spinach, chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped scallions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

To prepare the Raita: Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.  Let cool.  Pulverize with a mortar and pestle or finely crush with a sharp knife.  Mix the yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, cumin, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

To prepare the lentil cakes:  Rinse legumes; place in a medium bowl with rice and cover with 3-inches of water.  Let mixture sit at room temperature for 3-5 hours.  Drain mixture and transfer to a food processor.  Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeno.  Process until grainy paste forms (add 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary).  Transfer to a large bowl; mix in your choice of chopped greens, peas, cilantro, scallions, mint, salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.   Fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup almost full and gently compress it.  Tap mixture out onto your hands, careful to keep it’s shape and gently place into the hot skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and saute until golden brown and cooked through, add 1 more tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and flip.  Cook about 4-5 minutes per side, of whenever they are your desired color and doneness.  Repeat with remaining oil and mixture.   Top with raita — enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from the September 2011 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine

Have a great day!

Laurie

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