Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mystery Wrap

I sit here both stunned and somewhat dismayed at how quickly time passes and how little I manage to get done...especially in the little kitchen.  It's been 3 months already that I've been at my new job and getting into the groove of preparing  my daily lunches and try as I might, I can't seem to come up with anything that out shines the roll-up. It not only practically makes itself, it looks pretty, travels better than anything and tastes delightful even with questionable ingredients.

Over these last few months, the pinwheel sandwich has fashioned itself out of many things. It's a great way to use leftover chicken salad and yesterdays green salad, hummus, cream cheese...whatever. It's almost better when prepped the night before. I always have tortillas on hand.

This is how I like to build these:

Starting with anything spreadable (hummus, herb infused cream cheese, goat cheese, pesto etc), smear it all over the tortilla, then scatter your leftover salad or thinly sliced vegetables (cucumbers, red peppers, carrots, avocado, shaved fennel...etc.), meat and/or cheese, finish with some smattering of fresh chopped herbs, salt & pepper.  Spread everything out, smash it all down flat and roll, and then wrap your roll-up in plastic wrap. In the morning I slice 2 roll-ups into pinwheels the thickness of the depth of my bento box and I'm on my way. Looks pretty elegant right?

This particular version pictured above is not the healthy version.

My friend, who I fondly refer to as my test kitchen dummy, showed up the other day with a box of scary bulk sliced lunch meat and cheese left over from  a church event, I smiled sweetly and thanked him graciously, whilst inside I'm thinkin' "what the hell is this?!?"

I rarely buy or have much use for processed lunch meat and when I do, I at least know what it is. I finally deduced that the meat was turkey...the cheese? It was white like jack. I started by tasting cautious tears off a slice..."hmmnn tastes like American cheese...I think." Another bite and then another until I'm just rolling up the whole slice and chomping into it. I lost count after 3. There was crack in that cheese.

There was also frozen seal-a-meal bag of what I was told was hummus.

This is how it all went down:

Flour tortillas-(I was not concerned with them being whole wheat at this point) layed out and spread with....
mystery hummus
3 paper thin slices of processed lunch meat- torn up and layed out over the hummus
2 slices of processed cheese-torn up and layed out over the meat
fresh tarragon-roughly chopped and scattered over the cheese
fresh ground pepper
No salt for obvious reasons...

I rolled it up tightly, wrapped the roll up tightly in plastic wrap (took all of 10 minutes) and refrigerated it until the next morning then sliced it into pinwheels.

I can't tell you how delicious these were. My co-workers were once again highly vocal about how good my lunch looked.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

corn chowder with chiles

corn chowder with chiles, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I'm currently obsessed with corn chowder. The tex-mex restaurant where I tend bar on the weekends makes an amazing chicken corn chowder which is only prepared for Sunday brunch. I love that soup. I harrassed the chef for the recipe and scribbled down the pertinent ingredients that stood out from the other dozen recipes that I had stock-piled. Namely fresh jalepenos, poblanos, fresh lime juice and cilantro. That recipe also starts with their tortilla soup base made from fresh home made chicken stock. The math overwhelmed.
I decided this recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks was the best place to start. It starts with bacon. 'Nuf said.
I try reallyreallyreally hard, when making a recipe for the first time, to follow it verbatim, before I start tweaking. It's hard. I was proud of my restraint from adding the potatoes and chunks of cooked chicken breast I had sitting there eager to be a part of this soup. "Next time. Next time." I kept telling myself. There will definitely be a next time with this and it was damn perfect outta the gate. It starts with bacon. I said that right?
Ok...a few tiiiinnnny tweaks. I subbed the chicken stock for corn stock I made with the fresh shaved cobs. I never buy boxed  or canned chicken stock. The decent ones are too pricey for the little kitchen and I just can't justify that when I can buy a whole chicken for six bucks. I buy a powdered "fake" chicken broth seasoning in bulk from Whole Foods or Rainbow, which I added to the corn stock.  I also toasted the corn kernals, after slicing them off the cob, in a dry non-stick skillet, deglazed with lots of fresh lime juice and I also added one extra chipotle pepper. That was it.

Here's what went into this corn stock:

6 cups of water
6 corn cobs
one onion cut into 8 chunks
3 smallish carrots scrubbed and cut into chunks
3-4 celery stalks cut into chunks
about a 2 teaspoons of whole black pepper corns
about a teaspoon of whole coriander
about a teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of dried tarragon (my new favorite herb)
3 serrano peppers
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
6 tablespoons of "fake" chicken seasoning

Once it's come to a boil I let it simmer for an hour. Scoop out the big chunks of vegetables with a slotted spoon, then strain the rest through a clean tea towel. I add the powdered seasoning after  straining. At this point you'll want to taste it and add more salt if you need it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Everything Bagel Bombs encore...

Everything Bagel Bombs, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

"OCD Alert!"
If I didn't mention this the first time I made these then I'll say it again. These are brilliant! In the last week I've made them twice...doubled the recipe both times. I baked up this batch last night, thinking this time I'd share them with my co-workers. Next time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bagel Bombs!

Bagel Bombs!, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I wish I could have gotten a better picture of these, but night time photography in the little kitchen is a bit problematic since I only have my cell phone cam, but this was one of those recipes that from the moment it appeared on my facebook page by way of yesterday morning, it was all I could think about. These are just getting ready to go into the oven.
I stopped off at my favorite natural foods co-op to replenish and stock the required seasonings after work yesterday and pedaled on home as fast as I could, to get this all going. It starts with mixing up a scallion cream cheese and freezing small lumps. I used a small ice cream/portion scoop and set them to freeze on baking sheet lined with parchment paper last night.
 This morning I made the dough and let it rise all day whilst I went about my business. The recipe requires an hour of rising time, but I tend to play a little fast and loose with yeasty doughs given my work schedule. I also don't have a fancy Kitchen Aid mixer so kneading tends to get a bit tedious...until I discovered the no-knead dough. The no-knead method lets time do the work. When I got home the dough had more than doubled and was really puffy by the time I got to finishing it. I don't know if it would have been better had I stuck to the rules but no matter...they were sooooo freakin' good I couldn't wait to get this into the archives, crappy photo and all, but if you go into the link above, Adam at AG has the perfect step-by-step post. These little bagel bombs filled with scallion cream cheese are seriously brilliant! Even more brilliant is that they can be frozen (pre-baking) and then it's only 30 minutes from freezer, providing you've remembered to  pre-heat your oven amidst all the anticipation, to stuffing these into your gob.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

shaved asparagus pizza

shaved asparagus pizza, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
This is the pizza that changed my life. Much has happened in the little kitchen since I first discovered this gorgeous pizza at my favorite food blog Smitten Kitchen. I can't pass by a bundle of asparagus without the image of this pizza distracting me from what ever the task-at-hand may be. I can make it in my sleep. I really do. When I have trouble sleeping, envisioning my way through a cooking task is my version of counting sheep. I did that last night, except I started getting hungry. I got up and did two things: nuked a bowl of polenta* and shaped pizza dough balls.
Backing up a bit, I'm experimenting with a new tactic and recipe. I've been carrying around the March issue of Bon Appetit for a month now, inspired by the gorgeous pizza on the cover and its promise to reveal How to Make Pizza Like a Pro. YES! I want to go to there. I've read it over and over, just dreaming of some kitchen time, and making list after list of all the pizza topping I want to try. The pro is Jim Lahey (from NYC's Sullivan Street Bakery) and the recipe is for his No Knead Pizza Dough. Yesterday morning I mixed up the dough which took mere minutes and left it to rise and ferment all day and half the night. So when I started thinking about pizza, I realized the requisite 18 hours had passed since I'd set the dough to rise. I shaped it into 6 balls, wrapped each in plastic and put them in the fridge. In the meantime I stumbled across this post over at Love and Olive Oil. Frozen pizza! Brilliant! The secret is to partially pre-bake the crust.
I am sooooo doing this tonight.
*I stirred in some crumbled bacon I'd already pre-cooked for tonights pizza into the polenta, along with some more parmesan and butter and dang! it was good.