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    Entries in epicness (10)

    Tuesday
    Jun192012

    he found the pictures!

    A couple years ago when I was visiting my sister and some friends in LA, I went to an awesome Mexican restaurant for a late night drunken after the art show dinner and this awesome stuffed poblano pepper covered with some kind of creamy walnut sauce...

    When I told the story to Recipe Guy, he immediately knew I was talking about Chiles en Nogada and showed me how to make it. 

    Then I got home and somehow managed to lose the picutes I took of the process.

    Of course Recipe Guy has now shown me how to do a search by file type that looks everywhere on my computer. (really, it's a small laptop, things shouldn't be hard to find in it)

    This post is dedicated to Recipe Guy. He's fucking awesome.

    Chiles en Nogada

    It looks fancy as all hell, but it's actually pretty easy. It can take a bit of pre-planning if you want to do it old school, but if you make a couple compromises, you could easily do this in about 45 minutes. If you want to impress someone, this is the way to do it.

    The Chiles:

    • 8 poblano chiles

    We were planning on feeding 6, but it's best to do a couple extra in case you mess one up, and because someone always wants seconds.

    The Filling (aka Picadillo):

    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 onion
    • 1 peach
    • 2 apples
    • 1/2 c currants (or raisins if you prefer, but if you do, you're weird)
    • 1/2 c chopped dates
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp allspice
    • 1/2 tsp oregano
    • 1/2 tsp thyme
    • salt

    The Sauce:

    • 1 c walnuts (plus milk to cover them)
    • 4 oz cream cheese
    • salt
    • 2 c Mexican crema (this is the same as french creme fraiche)

    or

    • 1 c sour cream
    • 1 c milk

    To Make it Look Almost as Awesome as Recipe Guy is:

    • 1 pomegranate
    • cilantro

    Old School Steps:

    If you want the fast version skip forward to "What you gotta do."

    If you want to go all the way and make your own Mexican crema (aka creme fraiche) heat 2 c of heavy whipping cream in the microwave to between 90 and 100 degree F.

    Add 2 tbsp buttermilk.

    Shake.

    Cover and leave on the counter (yes the counter) for 24 hours. You might want to warn your cohabitants what you're doing. People have a tendency to refidgerate dairy products that they find on the counter.

    Basically, you're culturing and souring milk here. Which is why you could also use a sour cream and milk combo as a time saving, planning-schmanning alternative.

    The next old school thing you can do is roast the walnuts in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and then rub their skins off.

    Tell me how it goes if you do because there's no way in hell I have the patience to remove skin from walnuts. They come shelled and that's good enough for me.

    Since we were planning ahead with the crema, we also planned ahead with the nuts. You can soak the walnuts in milk overnight if you want to, but it's not necessary. If you do though, I totally recommend using the nutty milk in a savoury bread pudding. Best one I ever made was with the walnut milk.

    Now that we've got the shortcuts out of the way, we can start cooking.

    What you gotta do:

    Grill the chiles over a medium high flame until the skin is blistering and blackening.

    Dump them into a plastic bag and let them steam for a few minutes.

    If you chop the onion, apples, peach, dates, and garlic while they steam, they'll be just cool enough to handle.

    After steaming in a bag for a while, the skins will slide right off the chiles.

    You'll probably have a few stubborn strips that hang on for dear life. You're free to beat them to death, or let them live, depending on what you have patience for (one guess at how much patience I had for them). Once you've got them all done, just set them aside while you make the filling.

    The filling should take no more than 20 minutes if you chopped the fruits and veggies while the chiles were steaming.

    In a large pan brown the beef and pork with the onion, and then add the spices

    and then add the fruits.

     

    Recipe Guy is fond of his mortar and pestle, and will grind whole spices into powder whenever he gets the chance. I know you're just going to use the pre-ground stuff and that's fine.

    Cover the filling, turn the heat down to low, and you're done with it. It will probably need a stir from time to time, but really, that's all it is.

    While it hangs out in the pan you can make the sauce.

    Spoon the walnuts out of the milk and into the food processor. If yours haven't been soaking, just dump them in.

    Add the cream cheese and the crema (or sour cream and milk) and the salt. This really needs salt or it comes off as kinda dessert-y. If you're using sour cream and milk, warm them to room temperature in the microwave, or take them out of the fridge before you start cooking. This sauce doesn't get cooked, but it shouldn't be cold either.

    Turn on the food processor.

    I find it's impossible to get this perfectly smooth, but once it looks about like this

    I'm willing to call it done.

    So, there you go. All of your components are ready to go. Well, except the garnish. You need to bust some arils out of the pomegranate.

    Do this underwater in a large bowl and the arils will sink while the rest of the pomegranate floats. It also helps prevent pomegranate juice from getting everywhere.

    Okay, now we're ready to go.

    See, it's really not that bad when you think about it. Each of the components is pretty simple, and doesn't take too long to prepare. I mean, browning the meat probably took more time than everything else combined. If you're really into the planning thing, you could even roast the chiles the day before. They keep quite well in the fridge and will warm them to room temp on the counter while you do everything else.

    To stuff the chiles, cut a slit down the side and remove the seeds.

    (It goes a little faster if you remove all the seeds and then stuff all the chiles)

    Let the chile rest in your palm and the slit will fall open.

    Spoon in picadillo until it's nice and stuffed. Then, set it cut side down on a plate.

    Don't worry if a few crumbs fall out. You're going to be covering this with sauce anyway. Even torn chiles can make it to the dinner table looking fancy if they're covered with enough sauce.

    Spoon the sauce over the poblano

    until it has a lovely white blanket covering it.

    and then sprinkle with pomegranate arils and cilantro leaves.

    Holy hell do they look impressive when they're done.

    And if you work it right, you can do this all in less than an hour. If you preplan and do a few things the day before, you could probably even make this on a weeknight. But really, this is way too impressive to waste on a Wednesday.

    What simple thing impresses you?

     

    Tuesday
    Mar132012

    Muffin Win!

    I really needed something to go right today.

    Today was one of those crappy days. I didn't sleep well last night, we started double iterated integrals in calculus class and the prof warned we're going to speed through it toward the final, the grocery store told me they wouldn't exchange the buttermilk I accidentally bought for the real milk I really wanted (some stupid rule about not exchanging perishables after they leave the store.... um, I didn't notice when I grabbed it, how the hell am I supposed to notice before I get home??), it's quarterly report time at work, the line up at the post office was ridiculous and then the clerk took like 10 minutes and three phone calls to find the right form (yes, Recipe Guy, I mailed your headphones back to you), I forgot to get eggs on the way home and had to go back out for them, and then the applesauce I'd been planning on turning into muffins had turned into mold.

    If I had railroad-train pajamas, someone would probably make me wear them.

    Gah!

    It was 8 pm and I hadn't even had dinner, nevermind finish the assignment that's due in my mechanical engineering class tomorrow.

    And so, I decided to wing it.

    Again.

    I have now decided that March is wing it month. No clue what I'm going to make next week, but I'm sure as hell not going to have a recipe handy when I start.

    So, with no applesauce, and utter determination to make muffins, I came up with these:

    Oatmeal Date Muffins

    What you need:

    • 1 c quick oats
    • 1 c flour
    • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
    • ½ c sugar
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp cardamom
    • 1 c chopped dates
    • ½ c butter, melted
    • 1 c plain yogurt
    • 1 c pear juice (or apple, or orange, or even milk)
    • ½ tsp vanilla
    • 1 large egg

    What you gotta do:

    Preheat the oven to 400°F. Holy crap I remembered. Win! This is looking good already.

    Put all the dry ingredients (oats, flour, flax seed, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom) into a big bowl,

    And mix them together.

    In another bowl stir together the yogurt, egg,

    vanilla (crap, there’s no vanilla in the ingredients pic), and butter.

    Now, I wasn’t sure I’d need the juice, but once I had the wet ingredients all together I figured the mixture wasn't “liquidy” enough. It seemed too... gloopy.

    So I decided to add ½ c of pear juice.

    That helped. More liquidy.

    Now the dates. They’re so sweet that sugar has started to form on their surfaces.

    These things are sticky and sweet. If they were hot, you'd have Def Leppard in your head now wouldn't you?

    They’re also really soft and easy to chop up. And if you use the same butter knife that you used to cut up the butter, and to level the flour in the measuring cup, you only have to dirty one knife. What? I had to use an extra bowl, I’m going to conserve any way I can.

    Pitted dates. Yup, pitted. See the pit? Bastards.

    Once you’ve mashed/chopped a packed cup of dates… hm. Add to dry or wet? I opted for wet. But the wet bowl was a little on the small side, and it was tough to bust up the packed cup…

    So I just dumped it all into the dry ingredients and started stirring.

    About half way through, I realized I didn’t have enough liquid. This is where I added the other ½ c of pear juice. This is a dangerous thing to do. (not easy to photograph either)

    I've had to add liquid at the end of a muffin recipe before and what came out of the oven was more like a hockey puck than it was a muffin.

    When you make them, put all the juice into the wet bowl.

    Mix the wet into the dry just enough to get it all combined. The dates seemed to break up nicely as I stirred. The reaction between the baking soda and yogurt had already started and the batter was nice and fluffy.

    Divide the mixture into 12 muffin cups.

    Bake for 20 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean. If you don’t have toothpicks, and I never do, spaghetti works just as well.

    Let them cool in the tin for a few minutes before taking them out to finish cooling on the rack.

    I was a little worried about how these would come out since I had to add that emergency ½ cup of juice at the end, but OMG muffin win. These things are soft, dark, moist. Just barely sweet, and with nice chunks of dates.

    And since Taneasha's always piling muffins up into little pyramids, I thought I'd try too...

    So, what went right for you today?