Don’t Try This At Home!

OK, so my title is a little misleading. Let me start at the beginning. Melissa’s (http://www.melissas.com/) offered another challenge to the San Diego Food Bloggers. The timing was a little tough due to the craziness of the Holidays, and Melissa’s pushed our creativity to the next level. We had to use all of the ingredients and create two recipes: one savory and one sweet. I was on board. I can’t thank Melissa’s enough for giving us the opportunity once again. I received my complimentary box of goodies containing a one pound bag of Mandarin oranges, two Korean pears, bag of Baby Dutch Potatoes, steamed chestnuts, steamed baby potatoes, steamed beets, peeled and steamed baby potatoes, seedless grapes, and a cookbook all about Baby Dutch Potatoes.

Book

I gave myself a few days to figure out the direction I wanted to go with all of the items. I browsed the cookbook I received. I had some ideas, and then my wallet was stolen. Aargh. I am still talking with different companies and the police, so my creativity took a little hit. I felt like grabbing a burrito at La Posta (http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-posta-de-acapulcos-san-diego-2) and a growler from Societe Brewing Company (http://societebrewing.com/) instead of cooking and writing.

I started with dessert. I needed something sweet! I decided to make a Korean Pear and Grape Pie. I had eaten a Korean Pear before, but I had no idea how it would bake. This is where the “Don’t Try This At Home” comes into play. The pie tasted really good, but it looked like a wet mess. So sad. Korean Pears are unbelievably juicy. Maybe that was where I went wrong. Maybe I needed to add more flour to the fruit mix, or maybe I should have sautéed the pears to extract some of the liquid? Let me know your thoughts! The produce was delicious, and the pie was really tasty, it just should have held together better.  I wish I had more time to try this again, but time was short.  I’m making sure to put “Time” on my wish list to Santa!

Korean Pear and Grape Pie

For The Crust:

  • 2  2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup Canola Oil (You can substitute Vegetable Oil)
  • 6 Tablespoons cold milk

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large Korean Pears, about 2 pounds total, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound seedless red grapes, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, diced
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the crust, sift together flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Combine oil and milk, but no need to mix, into a small bowl. Pour oil and milk into the flour mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together. DO NOT over mix!! Divide dough in half, and shape into 2 round balls. Roll dough between two sheets of wax paper to form 12 inch rounds. Transfer one disk to a 9.5 inch glass pie pan, removing and discarding the wax paper.
  2. Create the filling by mixing together the 1 1/4 cups sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add sliced pears and grapes, and toss until evenly coated.
  3. Fill bottom crust with fruit mixture and place diced butter on top. Cover with the remaining pastry round, discarding the wax paper.   Crimp edges to form a seal. Create a vent on top either by scoring the pie or by creating a design. I opted for a Christmas Tree vent. Brush with milk and sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar. Bake for 1 hour and allow to cool for at least an additional hour. If the pie crust begins to darken too quickly, cover the edges with foil.
Pie Shot

I opted for a contemporary Christmas tree vent.

 

 

Pie Cut

It was even more watery. I had to drain it a bit.

Once I made my sweet tooth happy, I, shockingly, was in a way better mood to cook! With the remaining ingredients I created an entrée and a side dish that is so easy to make any night of the week. I usually am not a fan of chestnuts, but I LOVE them in this recipe. And I love beets, but they can kind of be a pain if you buy them fresh. I felt like I was cheating by having the beets peeled and steamed for me! No grabbing surgical gloves to avoid the red stained hands! Awesome!

Seared Five-Spice Chicken with Chestnuts, Beets, and Spinach Roasting on the Open Fire (Well, not really, but I was listening to Christmas music while cooking, so it just sounds right.)

  • 3 skin-less chicken breasts (You can easily increase this number.  My Trader Joe’s chicken pack had 3 in it, and I didn’t feel like getting more.)
  • Five-Spice powder, 1 teaspoon
  • Dash of cayenne powder (I like a kick.  If you don’t, don’t use it, or substitute paprika.)
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • Peanut oil, total amount approximately 2 Tablespoon (You can easily swap this out for canola oil or olive oil or any oil that can take high heat.  Do NOT use extra virgin olive oil.)
  • Fresh orange juice, 4 Tablespoons
  • Soy sauce, 2 teaspoons
  • Rice vinegar, 1 Tablespoon
  • Fresh spinach, 4 ounces (or a couple of large handfuls if you don’t have a scale)
  • Mandarin oranges, 2 diced
  1. Sprinkle Five-Spice, cayenne, and black pepper on chicken breasts.  Add about a tablespoon of peanut oil to a skillet and heat to medium-high.  Once the pan is nice and hot, add chicken breasts.  Once one side is seared, flip and sear the other side.  Once seared, reduce the heat to about medium to medium-low.  Cover the skillet with a piece of foil.  I prefer foil over a lid because it allows steam to escape and the chicken breast maintains the sear.  Continue cooking until the chicken is at least 165 degrees, approximately 20 minutes.  I always cook mine a little longer just because I like chicken that way.  And if you properly seared it, it will remain juicy (unless you let it cook for an hour;).
  2. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan and keep warm.  In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of peanut oil, orange juice,  soy sauce, rice vinegar.  Add chopped chestnuts and chopped beets. Stir all ingredients together, loosening the chicken bits on the bottom of the skillet.  Increase temperature to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Once a boil is reached, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add spinach and gently toss until the spinach is wilted.
  3. Place a nice amount of the chestnut mixture on a plate and top with a chicken breast.  Serve with a side of Baby Mash Potatoes, and call it a night!

Chicken

Ginger Baby Mash Potatoes (No red-heads were harmed in the making of this recipe.)

I love these Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes.  The roast so nicely!  I received the same potatoes from Melissa’s during the last challenge, and I couldn’t resist preparing them the same way, but I had to mix it up a little!

  • Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, 1 1/2 pounds
  • Olive oil, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Baby Potatoes, 17.6 ounces, rinsed
  • Greek non-fat yogurt, 6 tablespoons
  • Milk, 6 tablespoons
  • Fresh ground ginger, 2 teaspoons (You can add more if you prefer a stronger ginger flavor.)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Rinse and dry the baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes. I halved the potatoes lengthwise, and place in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over them (about a Tablespoon or so), and sprinkled them with fresh ground pepper and some salt. This really is about what you like. As I mentioned in the previous post, I like a lot of pepper and not too much salt, so I would suggest eyeballing it. Just remember you can always add more after they have roasted, but you can’t take any away! Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with foil, place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven, and wait until they have softened. Ovens can vary, so check them after about 20 minutes. Once they are soft, remove the foil cover and place them back into the oven. Roast until they are the golden color you prefer. Make sure to flip and move the potatoes around once while they are browning. This step will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.  Once they are browned to your liking, set them aside to cool.
  2. Place peeled and steamed baby potatoes in a large mixing bowl.  With a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes, and add the yogurt, milk, ginger, salt and pepper.  Once the Baby Dutch potatoes have cooled, break them down cutting them into smaller pieces.  Add small pieces to the potato mash mix.  With the potato masher, continue mashing the ingredients together.  I left mine a little rustic (Or in non-fancy words, chunky.)
  3. Simply reheat the potatoes in a microwave until heated through.

Ginger Potato Mash

This was another fun challenge, and I can’t thank Melissa’s enough for the ingredients provided.  Even though I received free stuff, all opinions are all mine!  I can’t wait to see what other Food Bloggers created with these items!  And I look forward to using the cookbook, but that might have to wait until after Christmas!

In case I can’t write again before the Holidays, I hope everyone has a fun, safe, and memorable eating experiences!  Looking forward to writing many more posts in 2015!

And check out what other Bloggers created:


Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

 

 

 

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Another Melissa’s Food Challenge!

Once again,  Melissa’s Produce (http://www.melissas.com/) put San Diego Food Bloggers’ to another mystery box challenge.  From my FedEx delivered box of goodies, and I had to choose at least 3-4 items from Melissa’s and incorporate 1-2 other ingredients, dealer’s choice (or in this case, cook’s choice).  I could have gone in a few different directions, however, I was leaving for a trip to NYC a few days after receiving the package, so I knew I would need to make something freezer-friendly.

 

Boxed GoodsDry GoodsProduce

Click here to see what other San Diego Food Bloggers’ created: An InLinkz Link-up

Burgers and Fries (. . . For the Health Conscious and Flavor Seeker)

  • Olive Oil, 4 Tablespoons (You can use Canola or Grapeseed Oil, if you prefer.)
  • Panko or breadcrumbs, 1 1/3 cup
  • Pine Nuts, 1 cup
  • Walnuts, 1 cup
  • Shallots, 2, diced
  • Cumin, 2 Tablespoons
  • Coriander, 2 Tablespoons
  • Pepper Flakes, 2 teaspoons (or more, if you like a little more heat)
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground Black Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Dried Cranberries, 1 cup
  • Blackeyed Peas, 11 ounces
  • Garbanzo Beans, 9 ounces
  • Eggs, 4, lightly whisked
  1. Combine Olive Oil through Ground Black Pepper in a food processor until fully combined.
  2. Add Blackeyed Peas, Garbanzo Beans, and dried Cranberries to Nut and Panko mix.  (The amount of beans will equal about 3 cups.  You can substitute any brand of canned Blackeyed Peas or Garbanzo Beans.)  With the pulse setting, combine all of the ingredients until the desired consistency.  If you prefer some full beans in your burgers, go for it – just stop when it looks combined.  I made mine relatively smooth.
  3. Place mixture in a large bowl and add 4 eggs.  If you prefer to use only half of the yolks for a “healthier” version, go for it!  Make sure to lightly whisk the eggs before you add the burger mix.  It’s just easier that way.  Mix all of the ingredients together until they are fully combined.
  4. With your hands, form mixture into the shape of 10 burger patties.
  5. Add about a Tablespoon of olive oil skillet, and heat to medium-high.  Once the oil is hot, add the burgers to the pan.  Once they have browned, it will take about 5 minutes, flip and continue browning on the other side.  Once they are browned, turn the heat to medium-low heat and cover pan with a lid or piece of foil, and continue cooking until they are fully cooked.  This will take about 15 minutes.  Another option, after browning, you can transfer the burger patties to a pre-heated oven (375 degree) for about 15 minutes.  The benefit is that you don’t have to keep an eye on them so closely (so they don’t burn), and you can do many more at one time.  (I had to freeze about half of what I made.  Just make sure to cook them first, then freeze.  Then you have lunch at your fingertips!)

The Finished Product

I kept thinking of that commercial tag line “It’s In There!”

 

 

 

Making the accompanying fries, couldn’t be easier. Melissa’s sent my a 3 pound bag of baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and my husband and I finished them in 2 days. Nobody ever said we can’t eat. I simply rinsed and dried the potatoes. I left the smaller spuds whole, and I halved or quartered the larger ones. I placed them in a mixing bowl, drizzled olive oil over them (about a Tablespoon), and sprinkled them with fresh ground pepper and some salt. This really is about what you like. I like a lot of pepper and not too much salt, so I would suggest eyeballing it. Just remember you can always add more after they have roasted, but you can’t take any away! I place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them with foil, place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven, and wait until they have softened. Ovens can vary, so check them after about 20 minutes. Once they are soft, remove the foil cover and place them back into the oven. Roast until they are the golden color you prefer. Make sure to flip and move the potatoes around once while they are browning. This step will take about 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

I could eat these all day, every day!

I could eat these all day, every day!

Now, I can’t eat burgers and fries without ketchup, so I created a “Beanup”. All the hip restaurants opt out of the good old-fashioned stuff, so I am following suit!

Beanup

  • Fava Beans, 8.8 ounces
  • White Kidney Beans, 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • Shallot, one small, finely chopped
  • Tahini, 2 Tablespoons
  • Garlic cloves, 2, finely chopped
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Lemon Juice, 1 Tablespoon (or more if you like it tangy)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and combine until very smooth.  That’s it!

 

Sooo Good!

Sooo Good!

I received the items from Melissa’s, but no other compensation was given and all opinions are of my own.  Thanks must be given to Melissa’s Produce! This was so much fun, and I appreciated a free box of delicious food items deliver to my door just so I could play around with it! Tonight I am using the Butternut Squash in an Arugula and Feta Salad for dinner. I can’t wait. Look for my post next week about my annual trip to The Big Apple. Funny, I never did have an apple while I was there!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Melissa’s Produce Challenge – The Sequel!

The San Diego Food Bloggers are at it again!  Several of us were sent another box of goodies from Melissa’s Produce http://www.melissas.com/ .  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Check out my blog from March 19th, Melissa’s Produce San Diego Food Bloggers Challenge, to read all about this company.

This time I received a box containing several nectarines, 1 Korean Melon, 8 Rhubarb Stalks, a bunch of Fava Beans, Peaches, a Coconut and an opener, and a jar of Hatch Salsa. There was a delay in receiving the shipment due to the local fires and crazy weather, so the timing wasn’t the best for me. And it was about 100 degrees on the Coast. Enough of my moaning. We don’t get to complain often in San Diego, so just humor me. I loved the challenge placed before me!  Really, I did!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced.  I hadn't had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own.  I still need to open the salsa.  I love Hatch peppers!!

Two more items I decided to use at another time. Melon was eaten just simply sliced. I hadn’t had one before, so I wanted to try it on its own. I still need to open the salsa. I love Hatch peppers!!

Melissa's Produce

Very cool to receive both of these ingredients, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Very cool to receive both of these, but I opted to save those for another cooking adventure!

Fava Farro Salad

I will post this recipe soon!

I knew when I saw the Rhubarb, that was a must. Rhubarb is one of my most favorite things in the world. I made a rhubarb cocktail last year.  I really need to do that again!!  But back to this challenge!  I decided to create a flat bread and top it with rhubarb, nectarines, peaches, and goat cheese. I had never tried a Korean Melon, and I was limited on time, so I opted to set that aside. I wanted something to serve alongside of the flatbread, so I made a Farro Salad with Fava Beans and Tomatoes.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

First step: remove the fava beans from the outer shell.

Second step: peel away the second "shell".  I read that some say this is not necessary.  I tried a fava with and without that second layer.  I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it.  It does take time.

Second step: peel away the second “shell”. I read that some say this is not necessary. I tried a fava with and without that second layer. I found the second layer to be a bit bitter, so I removed it. It does take time.

Since I had some goat cheese on hand, I crumbled some more goat cheese into the salad. Why not? If I could get away with goat cheese in my coffee, I would.  This flatbread turned out to be so good that my husband and I ate the whole thing in one night.  Don’t judge us!  You try to stop halfway!!

Yum.

Yum.

Thyme to make the dough!  I can't get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme to make the dough! I can’t get enough of that pun. Sorry.

Thyme To Eat Your Fruit Flatbread!

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

1 package active yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2.5 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Several sprigs of fresh thyme (extra to sprinkle on top)

3 Tablespoon olive oil

6 fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped

2 nectarines, chopped

3 peaches, chopped

4 oz goat cheese (You can really add however much you like. I could easily add way more.)

Cornmeal for dusting

1) In a small bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes or until foamy.

2)In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, thyme, and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Stir until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead in additional flour until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

3) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover; let rise 30 minutes or until double in size.

4) Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside. Punch down dough. Roll and shape until the dough is the size of the entire baking sheet. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Gently press the rhubarb, nectarines, and peaches into shaped dough. Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with extra thyme. With a pastry brush, brush remaining olive oil over the flatbread.

5) Bake 18 minutes or until flatbread is the desired color and the fruit is tender. I turned the broiler on for an additional few minutes to get it a little crisper. Remember to never leave the room and keep an eye on it because broilers can work fast!!

Make sure to check out this link and read what the other Food Bloggers created!  And huge THANK YOU goes out to Melissa’s Produce!  Once again, you sent a wonderful box of tasty treats!!  Thanks again! Take Care and Happy Eating!  An InLinkz Link-up