Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's for Dinner? Meatless Mexican Meal

This meal is from Martha Stewart Living May 2011 pg. 164

Hey guys, it's me, Jordan.  Check out what's cookin' in our kitchen.  I think you'll like it!

Sarah is ready to cook, too.

I decided to give Sarah a little chocolate.  She was pretty happy about that.  Okay, let's get cooking!


Spiced Pepitas



1 cup pepitas (green hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder, preferably arbol (kalustyans.com)
1 teaspoon sugar
coarse salt

1.  Stir together pepitas, lime juice, chili powder, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.
2.  Heat pepitas in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 4 minutes.

Sounds easy enough?  So I plunged ahead with Jordan and I should to shoulder in our now sizzling kitchen.  The flavor from these pepitas was excellent!  The slightly sour flavor (from the lime) and the salty-chili powder that was added made these pepitas into a real treat! 
At first I had no ideas what a "pepita" was!  I looked all over the store and searched and searched for a pepita.  While shopping at Whole Foods I asked the front desk clerk what this pepita-thing was.  One guy even pulled a random spice from the shelf and said that he thought it could pass for a pepita.  Luckily another clerk took over and checked it out online for us.  "Oh, it's in the bulk foods section.  By the way, it's a pumpkin seed".  We were grateful to get the right information. 


Jordan is heating the pepitas and spices over medium heat while toasting the pumpkin seeds.  At first, Jordan told me that he didn't like pumpkin seeds.  After he tried them, he changed his mind.
The spiced pepitas...tasty!

Beans-and-Greens Tacos with Goat Cheese

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound Swiss chard, stems and ribs removed,leaves washed well and coarsely chopped
1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
 coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 white-corn tortillas
1.3 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled (2 ounces)
8 cilantro sprigs

1.  Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat.  Cook onions until soft, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in chard, beans, and stock.  Cook until greens are wilted and beans are warmed through, about 4 minutes.  Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper. 

2. Using tongs, hold each tortilla directly over a gas flame, turning, until heated through, about 5 seconds.  (Alternatively, wrap tortillas in foil, and warm in a 350 degree oven).  Spoon filling onto tortillas.  Top with cheese and cilantro.


I'm not a goat cheese lover at all.  So, I left it out.  That's the wonderful thing about cooking.  In the kitchen, you can simply leave out an ingredient that you don't like, or even substitute it for something else.  Real life is not so easy.

It was so fun to watch Jordan prepare and cook the ingredients with such respect and attention to detail.  Jordan really took the meal preparation seriously.  We enjoyed being together in the kitchen very much.  The tacos were great and the beans provided the "meatiness" that is often sought-after in a main dish.   
Tomatillo and Chipotle Salsa

6 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
3 garlic cloves (do not peel)
4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sugar
coarse salt

1.  Working in 2 batches if needed, cook tomatillos and garlic in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer to a plate, and let cool slightly.  Peel garlic. Finely chip tomatillos and garlic.
2.  Mix together tomatillos, garlic, chipotles, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Make Ahead Salsa can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

The salsa was super good, but a little too spicy.  For the little ones especially, you might want to add a little more tomatillo and slightly less chipotle.  The flavor was great though, and it was wonderful spooned onto the tacos.  But it was spicy!


 
We started out by cutting the onions. Jordan's eyes were burning very badly.
I decided to give him a hand.  After a minute or so, I had to take a break.  I'm in need of some pink onion goggles from Sur La table.  Side note: don't worry, Jord, I will get you the black ones.
After Sarah finished her chocolate, she came back into the kitchen to help out. She's saying "cheese" here.
After washing the Swiss chard, Jordan begins to carefully chop it into small pieces.  Such focus!
Our beans are organic and BPA free. Eden Organic is a great choice for canned beans.
The chopped onions are now cooking.
All he needs is a chef hat.
The salsa-  Jordan begins to quarter the tomatillos
And then he tosses them into the cast iron skillet until they are charred on all sides.
After cooling, Jordan finely slices the tomatillos.
This is what the canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce look like before we chopped them.
Yum!  Fantastic work, Jordan! 
At 12, he is beginning to appreciate the many benefits that cooking can bring a person.
Ben came home and was so happy to have a Mexican feast prepared for him to enjoy.
Okay, he thinks I'm kinda funny with all the picture taking that has become me.  Remember, we are in month 5...only 7 more months left!

Horchata

4 cups whole milk (you can substitute a milk alternative)
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk (you can substitute with Mimic Creme)
1/2 cup rice or almond flour (bobsredmill.com or at most grocery stores)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark or light rum (optional)
ice cubes
garnish: ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks

* I skipped the cinnamon sticks and saved $7.  I just used ground cinnamon instead.*

1. Bring while milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl. Whisk in condensed milk, flour, and vanilla.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 
2.  Strain mixture through a fine sieve, and stir in rum.  Divide among 4 ice-filled glasses.  Garnish with ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks.

Make Ahead  Strained horchata can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Gross!  I mean, I'm just not used to drinking anything with flour in it.  It was not a total waste because Jordan was so excited to make this drink.  Jordan enjoyed the preparation, but not the beverage.  I thought that it was kind of icky.  However, it's all relative.  You might like it, but it's just not for us.  Hey, we'd never know that if we hadn't tried it.  I've never tried a horchata before...it sounded cool.  I think it sounds cooler than it really is.  
 
We don't typically carry milk in our refrigerator, so we substituted with some almond milk instead.
Jordan did a great job at making sure that the milk was brought to a slight simmer and didn't burn.
This is the white rice flour....so does NOT taste good in a drink.  Sorry :/
Jordan used the chinois to strain the almond milk and rice mixture.
Mix, chill and serve...if you dare. 


~Dinner Was Served~





3 comments:

Carl said...

You go Jordan!!!!!

What a wonderful blog post...you, in the pictures, with intense focus, prepping correctly, using the chef's pinch grip on the Chef's Knife, cooking by mastering the right heat level, choosing the right kind of pan, combining the ingredients, and presenting with an artful style . Wow! You are on your way to becoming a skilled home chef. Keep up the good work, guy.

The food looks so good, and it appears that everyone loved eating your creations. Wish I had been there.

Carl said...

I love this post. Jordan doing the chefing with his perfect "chef's pinch grip" on the chef's knife! Then he uses the chinois to strain, sweating the onions, toasting the pepitas, sauteing the tomatillos, and carefully simmering the milk without scalding it. Great focus! Jordan is really learning fine cooking skills, hands on, and hands down.

Sarah, with her huge rolling pin on the dough, is so cute. Is she helping to shred the chard, or just adding cheese to it...lol?

Carl said...

Looks like Ben is really enjoying the meal...so it is all worth it.

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