Chorizo-Potato Tacos

_MG_6528First off, thank you for indulging me and for your thoughtful comments on my last post. Still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, but rest assured, I will let you know. _MG_6509 _MG_6525

And now why you're really here: tacos. More precisely, chorizo & potato tacos with avocado-tomatillo salsa. Comes together in half an hour, doesn't require turning on the stove, and uses those pesky green vegetables that I love but always hesitate to buy since I'm not sure what to do with them. Plus, you can't really go wrong with the combination of potatoes and spicy sausage–a perfect August dinner, if I do say so. _MG_6532_MG_6521

 

Chorizo-Potato Tacos (adapted from Martha Stewart/Rick Bayless)

3 medium red-skin boiling or Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

Coarse salt

1 pound Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed (make sure it's not Spanish chorizo)

1 small white onion, finely chopped

3 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped

2-3 tablespoons lime juice

1 clove garlic

1 jalapeno, stemmed

1 1/2 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

Cornmeal tortillas, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine chorizo and onion. Cook, stirring often, until sausage is cooked through and onion is soft, about 10 minutes. If sausage has rendered more than a light coating of fat over bottom of skillet, pour off extra. Add potatoes, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until potatoes begin to brown, about 8 minutes. As mixture cooks, mash everything together a little with back of a spoon or a spatula, scraping up any crusty bits of potato, so that it roughly holds together. Cover, and keep warm over very low heat.

Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine tomatillos, garlic, lime juice and jalapeno. Pulse until fine. Add avocado, and pulse until combined. Season with salt.

Wrap tortillas in a warm, damp kitchen towel, put them in a microwave-safe casserole dish, and cover. Warm in the microwave for 4 minutes, remove, and let stand a few minutes. Top each tortilla with potato mixture and avocado salsa, fold in half, and serve.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

_MG_6495I think we can all agree that fried chicken is basically the perfect food. Salty, crunchy, pairs well with anything from waffles to salad...what more do you need? But though I love fried chicken, I had attempted to make it only once before, when Ari and I spent our first Thanksgiving together (cooking a whole turkey for two people seemed like overkill). I used the same recipe as below, but didn't have an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil, so while the chicken tasted good, it was a little too dark on  the outside for my liking._MG_6492This time, I was prepared and was even ready to substitute regular flour for gluten-free (I used thisone, but found I prefer this). It worked out surprisingly well, and I would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference had I not known already._MG_6494I've already waxed on about my love for Thomas Keller, so no need to reiterate it here – but be warned, if you brine your chicken (which you should, to make it incredibly juicy), you need to do so 12-24 hours before you plan to fry it. It's worth it, I promise. I served the chicken here with a simple slaw of red cabbage, scallions and shredded carrots tossed with a little apple cider vinegar, and watermelon rind pickles.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken (adapted from Ad Hoc)

1 gallon cold water 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey 12 bay leaves 1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled 2 tablespoons black peppercorns 3 large rosemary sprigs, or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary 1 small bunch of thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme 1 small bunch of parsley Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons 5-6 pounds chicken pieces (such as breasts and thighs)
3 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour) 2 tablespoons garlic powder 2 tablespoons onion powder 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper 2 cups buttermilk Corn oil, for frying
  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chicken pieces, being sure they're completely submerged, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of  oil to 330°. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

_MG_6464I've been wanting to try my hand at making watermelon rind pickles since last summer, when I realized how much watermelon rind goes to waste when you eat the red part. I had also tried them at a great little restaurant in Williamsburg called Rye (get the duck confit), and I'm pretty happy with how well they turned out. _MG_6472 These are what you would call "quick pickles" - you don't seal the jars, but if you would prefer to use that method I'm sure it would work.  Serve with pulled pork sandwiches, chicken liver mousse, or as part of a cheese plate._MG_6474 Watermelon Rind Pickles (adapted from Epicurious)

1 4-pound piece watermelon, quartered

8 cups water

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

8 whole cloves (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves)

8 whole black peppercorns

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon pickling spice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Cut watermelon pulp from rind, leaving thin layer of pink on rind (reserve pulp for another use). Cut green outer skin from rind; discard. Cut enough rind into 1 x 1/2-inch pieces to measure 4 cups. Combine 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt in large pot; bring to boil. Add rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Strain. Transfer rinds to large metal bowl. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons salt, sugar and next 7 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over watermelon rinds in bowl. Place plate atop rinds to keep rinds submerged in pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain liquid from rinds into saucepan; bring to boil. Pour over rinds. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Repeat straining and boiling of liquid and pour over rinds 1 more time. Pour rind and liquid into jars and cover. (Will keep, refrigerated, for 2-3 weeks.)

Cucumber-Mint Spritz

_MG_6431Ari and I are leaving tonight for a glorious 10 days in California (where I plan to have tacos in some way, shape or form at least once per day), but I wanted to share this very refreshing cocktail with you before I left. As you may have noticed, I'm having a bit of a love affair with gin at the moment, and I think that the herbal notes in the alcohol complement the mint and cucumber perfectly._MG_6432 _MG_6435

Serve this on a sweltering day as an alternative to a Tom Collins, and I'm sure I'll be wishing for one on the plane tonight.

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Cucumber Mint Spritz (makes 1 drink)

4-5 cucumber slices

5-6 mint leaves

1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

1/2 oz. simple syrup

1 1/2 oz. gin

2 oz. club soda (or prosecco, if you're feeling saucy)

Muddle cucumber slices and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker until crushed. Add citrus juice, simple syrup and gin, then fill with ice and cover. Shake until very cold, about 1 minute, then strain into a lowball glass and top with club soda or prosecco. Garnish with a cucumber slice and mint leaf and serve immediately.

Shrimp and Asparagus Salad

_MG_6418 Hotter temperatures call for lighter meals, generally. I don't usually feel like a giant bowl of pasta when it's 80 degrees out (though there are , of course, exceptions) so we have been eating a lot of salads lately. When it's hot I'm always craving Thai or Mexican food (I think it's something about the spices),and I think the shrimp and asparagus go really well with a soy dressing. The peanuts add a little crunch, and the lime provides a hit of acidity – pair with a cold beer, and what else do you really need on a hot June night?_MG_6422

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Shrimp and Asparagus Salad (serves 3-4)

For dressing:

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/8 cup fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce 1/2 teaspoon grated peeled ginger

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut into 1-inch pieces

10 oz. mixed greens

1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and shrimp, and asparagus and sauté until shrimp are pink and cooked through and asparagus are bright green and crisp-tender. Remove from heat and place shrimp and asparagus in a large bowl. Pour dressing over, then add greens and peanuts and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

 

 

Watermelon Granita

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When I was little, I was obsessed with the color pink. All of my clothes were pink, my bedroom was pink, my cousin Kari and I even talked about how we would one day live in an entirely pink house. Needless to say, this hasn't happened (yet), particularly given that my current roommate probably wouldn't be too pleased. But I can post recipes in my favorite hue, and given the last couple of posts, there seems to be a trend. _MG_6393

 

_MG_6387It hasn't been particularly hot in NYC yet, but this granita is still super refreshing. It's a great way to use up the other half of that watermelon that you bought but didn't get a chance to eat – plus, you could add tequila or rum and make it into an adult slushie (which obviously, we did). _MG_6406

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Watermelon Granita (adapted from Food & Wine)

1/3 cup sugar 5-6 cups 1-inch watermelon cubes, seeds removed 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/3 cup of water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Transfer the syrup to a blender or food processor, add half of the watermelon cubes and lemon juice and pulse until smooth. Add the remaining watermelon cubes and blend until smooth.
Pass the puree through a coarse strainer, pressing down on the solids. Transfer to a 1-lb. loaf pan  and freeze, stirring every 30 minutes with a fork, until all the liquid has frozen completely, about 3 hours. Will keep, covered, in the freezer for up to a week.

 

Coconut Flour Pancakes

_MG_6381Since Ari has been making an effort to eat less gluten, I decided I would try to do so as well (but don't worry bread, I could never leave you forever.) It's actually kind of fun to be challenged sometimes – not being able to use traditional flours or starches forces you to be more creative and try new things. He picked up some coconut flour last week, which I had never used, and I made these coconut pancakes for brunch over the weekend._MG_6376  

_MG_6370I love coconut, but if you aren't a fan of it then this might not be the recipe for you. These were also a little drier than regular pancakes and you could really taste the eggs (although, I found that the pancakes that I was keeping in the oven tasted less like eggs than the ones that came directly off the griddle). I liked the eggy taste, but you could try it both ways. And I would highly recommend serving these with the amazing strawberries that are in season right now!_MG_6373

Coconut Flour Pancakes (makes 8 3-inch pancakes, adapted from Bob's Red Mill)

4 eggs 3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil 1/4 cup milk (we used almond milk) 1/4 cup coconut flour1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon baking powder

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, oil and milk until well combined

In a separate bowl, sift coconut flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add dry to wet and thoroughly mix until there are no lumps.

Coat a cast-iron skillet or  griddle with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Ladle 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto skillet. Cook until bubbles begin to form on the top and pancake begins to set, about 4 minutes, then flip and cook on the second side, about 2 minutes. Brush griddle with additional oil, then repeat until batter is gone. Serve with maple syrup and fruit.

Rhubarb Gin Fizz

_MG_6280 Since it's almost Memorial Day weekend, I thought I would share a cocktail that you can make tonight – or for the next four days. Simple and yet impressive, thanks to the rhubarb-thyme syrup, and as boozy as you want to make it: you can make a non-alcoholic version with seltzer and the syrup on it's own, add gin, or use both gin and prosecco for the most fun alcoholic version of all. I didn't have any sparkling wine on hand when I made these (I know, terrible), so I stuck with seltzer and gin which was super refreshing.

_MG_6284Happy long weekend to you all – I hope it's filled with sunshine and barbecues, and of course, plenty of delicious cocktails!_MG_6291

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Rhubarb Gin Fizz (adapted from Baked Bree, makes 1 drink)

For rhubarb thyme syrup (makes about 1 1/2 cups):

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 1/4 cup rhubarb, trimmed and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until rhubarb is very soft, about 3 minutes. Strain through a mesh sieve into a small pitcher or container, and let cool. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

For cocktail:

1 1/2 oz gin

1 1/2 oz rhubarb-thyme syrup

1/2 oz lemon juice

4-5 oz prosecco or club soda

Add gin, syrup and lemon juice to a highball glass and stir. Add ice, and pour over prosecco or club soda to fill.

 

 

Spring Frittata

_MG_6234Happy spring! I know it was technically spring almost two months ago, but here on the east coast it's felt like a very slow slog through miserable winter. But after a lovely weekend (and my first sunburn of the season), it's finally feeling like warm weather is here to stay. _MG_6248

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Spring, for me, means lots of fresh vegetables (finally!) and one of my favorite ways to use these is to throw them together in a frittata. Like fried rice, this recipe has almost endless variations and is a great way to use up whatever you might have languishing in the refrigerator.

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_MG_6243 To make this particularly springy, I went with asparagus, ramps, kale and turkey bacon – but I think that peas, arugula, and even chicken sausage would also be lovely.

_MG_6229And just for fun, some lovely ranunculus that I picked up at Trader Joe's.

Spring Frittata (serves 4-5)

1 tablespoon butter

4 slices turkey bacon, roughly chopped

1/4 onion, finely chopped

4-5 ramps or green onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends broken off and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large handful kale or other greens, stemmed and chopped

8 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

2 ounces goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large cast-iron or oven proof pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. When hot, add turkey bacon and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk and salt and pepper to taste, and whisk until combined. Add asparagus, ramps, garlic and kale to pan and cook until vegetables are bright green and slightly wilted, 5-6 minutes. Make sure they are evenly distributed around the pan, then pour egg mixture over and remove from heat. Crumble goat cheese over eggs, then cook frittata in the oven until eggs are set and the top is just slightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

Blender Hollandaise

_MG_6147There's a part in the movie Julie and Julia where Stanley Tucci (as Paul Child) walks in on Meryl Streep (as Julia Child) frantically whisking bowls and bowls of mayonnaise in their Paris kitchen, perfecting the recipe for her forthcoming cookbook – the trick being that warming the bowl beforehand made combining the egg yolks and oil much easier._MG_6135 Julia Child's great gift was bringing complicated French techniques and dishes to the American masses, and nothing represents this philosophy better than hollandaise made in a blender. It combines French emulsifying techniques with modern convenience, and of course, plenty of butter. Three ingredients, about 5 minutes total, and not even a thought of whisking – what could be easier? As shown in the movie, warming the blender beforehand ensures that the egg yolk and butter will blend into a creamy sauce and not a separated mess._MG_6149

_MG_6153 Quick Blender Hollandaise (makes about 3/4 cup, adapted from Bon Appétit) 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes Salt and pepper

Fill your blender with hot water and set aside. Melt butter until foaming in a small saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat.

Empty blender, then dry thoroughly. Add egg yolk and lemon juice to blender, and pulse on low to blend. Working quickly and with blender running, pour melted butter in a slow stream (almost dripping) through the hole in cover, leaving the milk solids in the bottom of the pan. Blend until sauce is creamy, and season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. (Here, we topped quickly sautéed asparagus and poached eggs).