Monday, December 5, 2011

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

I'm not a big fan of turkey period. However, I am also not a big fan of throwing food away. Since we hosted T-give this year, and the only happy turkeys were ginormous, it is imperative that we find something edible to do with the remains. Here is one option - a slightly revised version of " The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" recipe. I suppose you really can't go wrong if you smother something in cheese. 

I would also like to note that, while I do not usually go in for canned things, it's not tomatillo season down here, so I went with canned. I also happened to have a can of peeled green chilies that I've moved at least twice now, and since the original recipe calls for just that, it seemed like a good time to use it. Finally, leftovers and canned goods. Right?

Enchiladas with Turkey and Green Sauce

1/8 - 1/4 c. peanut oil (approx.)

8 flour tortillas

2 c. shredded, cooked turkey

1/3 lb Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1/3 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 c. heavy cream

1/4-1/2 c. finely chopped scallions


1 15oz. can crushed tomatillos, drained

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

1 4oz. can peeled green chilies, drained and chopped

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

optional: fresh chilies, finely chopped, to taste

(serves four)

one: Preheat the oven to 375. Oil a baking dish about 13 x 9 x 2 in.

two: In a small bowl, combine tomatillos, cilantro, chilies (canned and fresh, if using), cumin and salt to taste. Set aside.

three: Heat about 1/2 tbsp oil in a skillet. Put each tortilla into the hot oil for a few seconds, turning it over as it softens. Add more oil as needed. Stack the tortillas in a pan.

four: Put some turkey, cheese, 1 tbsp cream, sprinkling of scallions and salt to taste down the center of each tortilla. Roll them loosely and place them in the baking dish - it will be a tight fit.

five: Cover the baking dish with tinfoil and bake for 20 min. At this point, take the dish from the oven, uncover and spread the sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas. Recover and bake for another 10 - 15 min - until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.


note: you may need to adjust the cumin, as I eyeballed this one when I was making it. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Time and The Eating Is

Nearly Impossible.

It is nearly impossible to eat in the summer in the south. It’s just




Even my cat has stopped devouring her half-scoop and the cat food goes stale in the bowl.

Which makes summer in the south an especially specialty challenge. Which for me revolves around tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and rice. Eggplants, okra, mint and peaches. The blender – smoothies, cold soups, daiquiris – and the bowl. Fresh sauces sit rather than simmer. And always


a little bit of fried.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Asian Beet Relish

This is my vegan version of a recipe out of my favorite noodle book. It's all Asian inspired, Asian-styled, and I have yet to make a recipe out of it that came out bunk. I happen to love beets - the flavor and the color is really excellent during the grey winter months - but there aren't a ton of beet recipes out there. This one is super easy and quick - once you've cooked the beets, that is.

Asian Beet Relish (w Noodles)

Pre-cooking: don’t forget you have to give these beets lots of time to cook. There are various ways to do it, but I’m onboard with the method in the book: pre-heat the oven to 300 and trim greens if there are any. Place beets on a baking sheet or a sturdy piece of tinfoil or a piece of tinfoil on a baking sheet. Bake for about 1-2 hrs for small beets and 3+ hrs for larger beets. Beware: it’s not unlikely you’ll need the upper amount of time – or longer. You can check the beets by poking with a fork – if the tines slide in easily, then the beets are done. You can let them cool completely or run them under cold water. Either way, the skins should peel off easily. I cut off the tops and bottoms, and peel the skin off in strips from top to bottom with the edge of a pairing knife.

1 lb. beets, cooked and skinned

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 tsp ginger, grated or finely chopped

2-6 chilies, finely chopped

½ c parsley, chopped

3 tsp white wine vinegar or Japanese brown rice vinegar

1-2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp brown sugar

2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast

2-3 tbsp Bragg's or soy sauce

serves a

bout 4

one: chop beets and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl - preferably glass or metal. Something that won't stain the way your fingers stain.

two: mix nutritional yeast and Bragg’s to make a thin paste. Add all of the remaining ingredie

nts – including your paste – to the bowl and combine.

three: taste for spice and salt. Add more chilies or Bragg’s if low in these, add more parsley if high. Of

course, it’s easier to add more salt and spice than to subtract it, so start on the conservative side and work up.

four: top noodles with beet relish or ‘dip’ your noodles in the relish as you eat.

My favorite are the thick Japanese udan noodles, but feel free to try another variety. This relish would aslo be great with chicken or pork, and could easily be added to other dishes to pick them up – or as a side to cut through heavier entrees.

The recipe originally calls for anchovies (4-6 oz). I’ve tried it this way, but I just don’t like anchovies. I mean really. Anchovies? So I’ve sub-ed in the nutritional yeast and Bragg’s. If you’re not vegan and you’re opposed to veganizing, feel free to chop up some anchovies and take it back to its roots. I salute you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Veggie Broth: The Trash Factor

I like to keep broth in the house – usually in the freezer – so if I want to make soup or curry on a whim I don’t have to resort to water. Naturally, certain soups do better with certain broths, but veggie broth is pretty innocuous in a pinch. Especially if you’re making a recipe that says you can use water instead. Or if you’re, say, making a lentil soup that only calls for water. Substituting broth – or some broth – adds a little extra body to the soup.

The best thing about broth is that it can be a great way to clean out your fridge. You can, of course, buy all of your broth ingredients, follow a strict recipe, cut them up fresh, etc, etc, blah, blah.


you can cobble together a broth out of whatever is about to go bad in your fridge. This is particularly useful for those of us who live alone and don’t always make it through our produce in time. And for those of us who hate throwing anything away, even the stems. Veggies in frozen broth form keep just about forever.

Below is the recipe for the broth I made today, with some suggestions for mixing and matching below:

Asian-Inspired Veggie Broth

1 onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, chopped

2 oz.-ish, sliced mushrooms

1 bunch cilantro stems

½-1 tbsp galangal*

1 stem lemongrass


one: Heat some olive oil on med-high in the bottom of a large pot. When hot, add onions and cook for a minute. When fragrant, add jalapeño, mushrooms and cilantro stems and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally.

two: Add 8+ cups of water plus remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for about 45 min – 1 hr.

three: Strain broth into a large bowl to cool. Press veggies to get all of the liquid out and dispose. When the broth has cooled, portion out to your liking and freeze, or use immediately.

makes about 6 cups.

I don’t usually put mushrooms in my lemongrass broth, but I had some that weren’t looking too hot, so I decided to throw them in rather than toss them. Aside from that, this is one of my standards. Feel free to take out the jalapeño if spicy isn’t your style.

etc: Some other things that can go in broth?

Carrots (add sweetness)

Potatoes (hardy)

Celery (mild)

Lettuce leaves (mild)

Parsley (leaves and/or stems)

Shallots (onion+)



Any other chilies you like

Tomato paste

Miso (any variety – red goes nicely with mushrooms)

Feel free to play around with amounts. The trash can broth process may not produce a broth you want to sip alone every time, but I’ve never made a veggie broth that ended up too strong, too bitter, too offensive to put into something else. It seems relatively foolproof, as long as you’ve got a handle on the amount of salt you toss in. And you can always add more water.

I would avoid the brassicas – broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc. – because they tend to have a bit of a sulfury smell. But basically anything goes. Think about matching colors – bright greens make a brighter tasting broth, earth tones make an earthy broth, mix and you get a layered broth, etc, etc, blah, blah.

Also, I really like to freeze this in known amounts, so I don’t have to remeasure after it’s defrosted. Instead, I can just defrost the amount I know I need. Usually, I freeze it in 2 or 4 cup amounts. Since I never throw anything out, I have several preferred containers. Large yogurt containers are perfect for 4 cups, and those medium-sized clear deli containers that things like olives, feta cheese, etc come in are perfect for 2 cups. Containers like yogurt containers tell you how much they hold, more or less, or you can pour the stock into a measuring cup and from there to your choosen container.

*galangal is used in Asian cooking. It’s a root in the ginger family with something of a ginger flavor, but it’s more of a bitter/sour and less of a hot/spicy. I happen to have some in a jar – prolly purchased at Whole Foods – on hand because I have a particular cook book devoted to noodle dishes that often calls for it. It’s not necessary. You could consider substituting ginger, but beware of the extra zing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kitchen Widgets part I

Along with liking good food, I like good things. Too many good things. So many good things that I don't always have a use for them. In particular, I have a lot of kitchen widgets – a pretty absurd amount for a person who doesn’t even have a job that supplies health insurance – partly because my mother and grandmother list toward cooking paraphernalia in their gift-giving, and partly because I am obsessed with estate-sales and the vintage aesthetic. Back then – and by back then I mean rough the 30s thru the 70s – appliances had style. Appliances, clothing, cars, tchotchkes, whathaveyou. They had style and class and sex appeal. Even things like blenders and ice-cream scoops were sexy back then. Sexy and solid. They're still hanging around if you look in the right places.

In any case, I often fall in love with the aesthetic of something rather than it's function. Sometimes I'm good at resisting, but sometimes I'm not. I have clothing I own simply because it's so fabulous I had to own it, and this phenomenon is not limited to my closet.

In this instance, I acquired a teeny tiny pot at an estate sale about a year ago. I bought it because it was an amazing orange color, because it is enamel, which I love, and because it's a teeny tiny pot on the end of an abnormally long handle. I figured I could use it to melt butter – for pancakes? to go in crepe batter? And it was small enough that, as far as useless kitchen items go, it wasn’t very offensive.

I am writing this because perhaps you have something like this, and I recently discovered an excellent use for my teeny tiny pot. Seeing as how I have no microwave.

Unlike some people out there, I like my coffee best while it’s still actually hot. For a long time I was drinking it black – which began as a sort of self-imposed food challenge and evolved into a taste – but recently I’ve begun putting cream in it occasionally to help out my stomach. This is particularly fun during the holiday season when the stores all stock eggnog. The problem with cream and eggnog is that it’s cold, and it cools down the coffee. The solution to the problem is my tiny pot!

Because it’s so small - as opposed to say the small-size sauce pan I have, which was previously my only option for heating smaller amounts of things - less of the liquid is in direct contact with the hot surface and so it heats more slowly. Thus it is less likely to scald when you look away for a second - something I am always doing because there is always something to do in the kitchen, and I hate waiting for the pot to boil, as it were. The tiny pot also has the perfect little pour spout, and because this is its only use, heating cream in it doesn’t disturb the rest of my cooking schedule by dirtying something I need elsewhere.

So if you are also against microwaves and like your coffee to stay as hot as possible, wha-la! Tiny pot!

It is, of course, also good for melting butter. What else do you use your tiny pot for?


I have no cultural connection to plantains; the first time I encountered them was in my mother’s kitchen in up-state New York. And I’ve really never had them better than hers – except, perhaps, until I started making them myself. I’ve adopted my mother’s double-fry method so the plantains come out more like chips than slices of banana-ness, however I do like the sweetness of the riper plantain, while my mother tends to use green ones. They’re good both ways – it just depends on if you’re in the mood for something starchy/salty or something fruity/salty.

Fried Plantains

1 plantain

Oil for frying (canola, veggie, corn, etc.)

Salt or Tony’s to taste

A large plate lined with a few layers of paper towel.

one: Heat about ¼ in. of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. While it heats, peel the plantain and cut into about 1 ½ in. lengths.

two: Place plantain pieces one cut side down in the oil. (Leave plenty of room around them, because you’re going to mash them into flatter, wider discs. You may have to do the plantain in a couple of batches, depending on the size of your frying pan.) When the bottom of the pieces is very lightly golden – this goes quickly, certainly no more than a minute – flip to the other cut side and fry until lightly golden.

three: Remove lightly cooked pieces to a flat, contained surface like a cutting board. Place one cut side down and flatten by pressing down with a flat, slick object. I like to use the bottom of a glass. Once you have flattened the plantain to about ¼ in. thickness, return to the pan and fry – first on one side, then the other – until it's a deep golden, browning on the edges.

four: Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt or Tony’s, allow a minute or so to cool if you’re not still frying, and enjoy!

I have a slotted, metal spatula that works great for moving the plantains around during cooking. They also tend to stick to the bottom of the glass. I simply move the glass, with mooshed plantain on the bottom, above the oil and scrape the plantain off with the metal spatula.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Coconut Curry Tofu Stew

I’ve been on a bit of a rice kick recently, because it’s so cheap and it's also an easy way to bulk out a lot of flavors. Here’s a less rice-centric, rice friendly, vegan option, good for spicing up those cold winter days.

This is surely a recipe from somewhere legit, but it came to me on a lineless index card so I’m going to pass it on without compunction. I’m pretty sure my mom offered this up one time – back in my stricter veggie days – as a quaintly classic (i.e. includes both tofu and ethnic-ness) vegetarian option. My mother is generally non-veggie, but she tries for me. I just found this particular recipe among my stash of recipes-from-home, which get sent on index cards and stored in a too-small envelope among my cook books. I couldn’t actually remember how it came out, but I figured it must have been alright if I requested indexing it. It’s been cold down here, too, and curry stew sounded appropriate. Also the length of cook time was appealing (about 20 min tops). Turns out – it’s great! Nothing earth changing, but a really solid curry with the utmost ease.

Coconut Curry Tofu Stew

2 bunches scallions

1 14 oz can (light) coconut milk

3-4 tbsp soy sauce/Bragg’s

½ tsp brown sugar

1 ½ tsp curry powder

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

1-2 tsp chili paste with garlic

1 lb extra firm tofu (or one nearly lb package), cut into bite-sized cubes

4 ripe plumb tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 yellow or red bell pepper, thinly sliced

¼ lb mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

4 cups coarsely chopped bok choy or spinach

one: Cut scallion whites and about 2 in of green diagonally into slices. Set aside.

two: Combine coconut milk with the next 5 ingredients in a large pot or pan. Bering to a boil over medium heat. Add tofu, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms. Cover and cook 5 min. Add greens, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, another 5 min or until veggies are cooked to your liking.

three: Serve, garnished with scallions, over rice or noodles.

A few notes:

The recipe apparently calls for light coconut milk but I went right ahead and used the regular, and it is, of course, fine. Prolly tastes better – just makes you fatter.

I used the bigger amount of all of the range ingredients – and I did half soy sauce and half Bragg’s.

I couldn’t find any scallions at the grocery, so I used two medium sized leeks and put them in with the other veggies at the beginning. This was good.

Lastly, this is awesome over rice, especially because it is fairly liquid-y, and the rice soaks it up, but I’m sure it would be equally awesome over buckwheat or regular soba noodles. Let me know.