fat free opinions on a food centric life

Three-Way Chili Love Fest

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My husband loves to get out of the house and do things on the weekend. There’s only one problem — he often doesn’t have an idea about what he wants to do.  I’ve had many years of practice getting used to this, so I’ve learned a few tricks.  It hasn’t been easy, though, because I’m one of those people who likes to stay home and play house all day.  Cook, garden, write on my blogs, pretend like I’m doing the laundry and  cleaning the house.  You know, right?  Okay, maybe you’re a more productive human than I am.  But still.

So last Sunday, we went down to The Home Depot to do some Father’s Day shopping.  No, not for his father.  For him.  I decided he wants a new BBQ and he’s usually okay with my deciding when he needs new things.  He rarely wants anything new, or thinks he needs anything new, and since he’s the only one bringing home the bacon right now, he’s seriously due.

We looked at about 15 BBQs while we were there.  We looked at BBQs with rotisseries, with split lids, with stainless steel exteriors, drawers, and easy glide propane holders.  BBQs with lights, without lights, with ceramic grills, and with metal grills.  Jeez.  Who knew there could be so many variations?  Did we buy one?  Nope.  But he did decide he likes the Charmglow above with the 896 square inch cooking surface.  Actually buying it would be my job today.  Mind you, it’s already 3:00 and we don’t have a truck to get it here even if I actually make it to the store to purchase one.  And if I could actually fit one still in a box into my car, one of us would have to put it together.  We won’t discuss our tool collection at this point.  My husband wields mechanical pencils, calculators, and a lap top.

So what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?  We got home sans new BBQ, and were suffering from a terrible need to BBQ.  Something.  Anything.  So being the darling wifey that I am, I gave my husband a choice about his dinner.  “Pork tenderloin, Shrimp, or Roasted Pepper soup, dear?”  He chose the soup.  He loves this soup.
I know you all think I’m in a rut with this pepper fetish I have, but that’s what happens when Mexico is only 30 minutes away.  To be fair, the pork tenderloin and shrimp options were disguised as salad dishes and I’m thinking he’s a bit saladed out.  You do remember that Lis’ & Kelly’s Salad ‘Stravaganza is looming on June 25th, right?

So before those of you who have professed a dislike fear of peppers leave the building,  stick around and read through this just because you know I wouldn’t intentionally lead you astray.  Think about all those antioxidants you’re passing up.  Besides — if you roast the peppers, and remove the seeds and fibers, they’ll cool way down.  I promise.

So today’s your lucky day.  You’ll have peppers coming out your ears by the time I’m done.  And if you’re even tempted to give the menu a go, I promise you’ll have all the info you need, but I’ll still not come close to that spread Lisa at La Mia Cucina put on in this post.  Forget comin’ to California, Lis.  I’m there, babe!  Where’s my bib?  Serve me up!  You got me with all those cute little bowls.  They suck me in every time.

We enjoyed the Roasted Red Pepper Soup on Sunday with a Bacon, Avocado, Tomato salad (recipe not included).  Monday, the remainder of the roasted peppers were used for the Stacked Chicken Enchilada casserole with the Citrus Red Pepper Salad.


“Red Pepper Soup with Yellow Pepper Puree”
is from a little book I bought at a nursery of all places.  It’s written by Beth Dooley and was published in 1990. It not only has some excellent recipes but great information about chilies which can be extremely confusing:  for example, once a chili is dried, the name changes, often making shopping for them confusing.  Hell, even the guys in the produce department at the grocer can’t keep them straight.

**Roast everything for both the soup and the stacked chicken enchiladas at the same time even if you make the recipes on subsequent days like I did.**

Soup Ingredients
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, grilled and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
4 medium red peppers, roasted and peeled, deveined and seeded, chopped
1 Anaheim chili, roasted and peeled, deveined and seeded, chopped
2 T all-purpose flour
2 c. chicken stock
3/4 c. heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish

Puree Ingredients
2 medium yellow peppers, roasted and peeled, deveined and seeded, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Dollop of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Roast peppers until blackened on all sides.  This happens much quicker on a BBQ than the gas range, so keep an eye on them.  Roast onion until grill marks appear and onion is caramelized.
  2. Remove chilis from grill and place in a brown grocery bag to sweat for about 15 minutes.  Set grilled onion aside.
  3. Remove skin, seeds, and fibers from chilis and coarsely chop.  Do NOT rinse the chilis off.  Set aside.
  4. Chop onion.
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, saute garlic and onions for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add peppers and cook about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in flour and cook about 2 minutes.  Do not brown the mixture.
  8. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  10. In a blender of good processor fitted with the steel blade, puree the pepper mixture until smooth.
  11. Return mixture to the saucepan.
  12. Whisk in cream and cook until heated through (do not boil).  Season to taste.


Puree

  1. In a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade, puree yellow peppers and garlic until smooth.
  2. With motor running, pour in dollop of heavy cream and season.

To serve:

  1. Ladle soup into bowls.
  2. Add a few spoonfuls of yellow pepper puree into the center of each bowl.
  3. Using a wooden skewer, create a design of sorts by pulling the skewer from the puree into the soup.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and serve.

“Citrus & Red Pepper Salad with Feta” is my own creation.
The crunch of the cabbage and the tart sweetness of the oranges are
very pleasant with the heat of the peppers in the enchilada dish.


Salad Ingredients

1/4 head of green cabbage, slivered
2 c. packaged greens (I used a herb mix with arugula, dill, and oak leaf romaine)
2 small oranges, peeled, seeded, sliced, and cut into quarters
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced and cut into pieces
1/4 c. crumbled Feta
2 green onions, all parts sliced

Dressing Ingredients

3 T. Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar (Trader Joe’s)
Juice of one lime
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Choose a bowl that is transparent.  This is a lovely salad with lots of
color and it can be fun to organize layers depending on the shape of
the bowl you select.  If you’re having more than the 3 for dinner that
I often have to cook for, then you can really have some fun.  Add
grapefruit, red onion, and yellow or orange peppers as well.  A trifle
bowl works best if you’re going to go “whole hog.”

  1. Place shredded cabbage in the bottom of the bowl and top with the mixed greens
  2. Top with red pepper pieces, orange quarters, and then sprinkle on feta and green onions.


To make dressing:

  1. Measure vinegar into a small bowl.  Squeeze in the lime juice.
  2. Secure bowl by making a ring of a dish towel to place beneath the bowl.
  3. With a wire whip, constantly stir while pouring oil into vinegar/lime juice mix in a slow, steady stream.
  4. Taste and balance flavors to your own liking.  We like to taste the citrus.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.


To serve:

  1. Pour dressing over salad right before serving.
  2. Mix thoroughly and divide among plates

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“Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde and Cheese” is a recipe featured in this month’s June ’07 issue of Bon Appetit and can be found at this link in its original form.  My modifications are specified below with an asterik.

Salsa Verde Ingredients
7 lg. (not pounds) tomatillos, husked, rinsed* (The tomatillos will be sticky after removing papery husks.)
1 jalapeno
1 serrano chili*

4 lg. garlic cloves, peeled*
1 tsp. ground cumin*
1 bunches fresh cilantro, stems removed*
3/4 c. Italian parsley leaves
1/3 c. basil chiffonade*

1-1/2 T oil
1-1/2 tsp. salt

4 roma tomatoes, cut into eighths


Directions

  1. Mix first 3 ingredients in large saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to boil, and reduce heat.  Simmer until soft — approx. 15 min.  Remove from heat and let stand for 15 min.  then drain.
  2. Pulse tomatillo mixture (sans stems on chilis) , garlic, and cumin in food processor until coarsely chopped.
  3. Add next 3 ingredients and blend until herbs blend in and salsa is chunky.
  4. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Add salsa and simmer until slightly thickened.
  5. Add tomato eighths and stir.  Cover and let simmer 10 minutes longer.
  6. Season with salt.

Stacked Enchilada Ingredients
2 poblano chilies, grilled, seeded, de-veined, and sliced into strips — reserved from grilling above
1 Anaheim chili, grilled, seeded, de-veined, and sliced into strips — reserved from grilling above

6 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 corn tortillas* (I thought 12 would be too much corn tortilla taste for the casserole)

2 c. Salsa Verde*
2 cooked and shredded chicken breasts*
3/4 c. sour cream
6 oz. smoked sharp cheddar, grated*


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat 2 T of oil in med skillet over med heat. You will need to add to this as you cook the tortillas.
  3. Fry tortillas until softened about 15 seconds per side.  Drain and stack flat between paper towels until ready to use.
  4. Spray 8×8 square baking dish with oil.  (I used a small oval dish instead)
  5. Spread about a 1/2 c. of salsa over bottom of the dish.
  6. Cut each tortilla in half as needed to cover the dish.
  7. Arrange 4 halves over salsa, covering most of the area.
  8. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the shredded chicken over the tortillas, then about 1/3 of the chili strips over that.
  9. Sprinkle 1/4 of the grated cheddar over chilis.
  10. Drop sour cream over cheddar in 6-8 tablespoon-sized dollops
  11. Repeat twice more:  salsa, tortillas, chicken, chilis, cheddar, sour cream.
  12. Finish with a final layer of tortillas, topped with chicken, remaining chili strips, remaining salsa, and grated cheese.
  13. Bake casserole until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling, approx. 35 minutes.

Notes:  The order of these ingredients and the number of layers you produce is yours to decide.  Please check the original recipe at the link provided above if you’d like.  I added the tomatoes to the salsa because it was spicier than my family likes.  The intensity of the serrano chili I added was strong, but if you like it hot, it was terrific.  It depends on who you’re feeding.  Also, I did not roast the jalapeno or the serrano chilis.  That would have cooled this down as well.  The left overs are terrific, and not quite as spicy, which is interesting.