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La Platicona Habla: Tastes, Passions and Pursuits

For food lovers, hungry people, and cooking officionados or novices. This blog is for people who are real cooks, wannabe cooks, or no cooks at all. Almost all of these recipes are vegetarian, some use seafood. Recipes are creations of my own, adaptations from cookbooks, or from other internet sources with links.

It has been several months, but Peach Jam is here

September 12, 2011

A time for Jam . . .

To my faithful readers: I apologize for the lack of posts nearly all year long. But, alas, it is never too late to post something new. So I give you my recipe for Peach and Raspberry Jam Preserves before peach season ends this month. I spent Labor Day weekend doing some simple waterbath canning. It isn't that hard and it is a handy way to give life to your old ripening fruit.

For this recipe you will need:

Set of 12 wide mouth smal canning jars, with bands and lids (recipe makes about 10 jars)

Large pot to boil jars in

Tongs to lift hot jars out of water (or just by a canning kit from your grocer)

For the jam:

3 lb peeled and cut peaches

1 lb raspberries (rinsed and dried)

1 1/2 c sugar

1 small packet of pectin (optional)

1/2 c Apple Juice

Cut the fruit and place in a large sauce pot, add sugar, pectin, and juice. Cook over medium-high heat until fruit softens; mash fruit with a potato masher, then cook on higher heat stirring often, for 10 minutes. As you boil the fruit, you are cooking off excess moisture which is key to the consistency of the preserves.

In another large pot, boil about half a pot of water. Sterilize your jars by boiling them, along with the lids and bands, for 10 minutes. Dry on a clean towel.

Ladle the cooked fruit preserves into wide mouth jars. For this process, my mom had a handy little funnel that fit the mouth of the jars perfectly, and she had a magnetic utensil to pick up the lids with. I highly recommend these tools because they made the job faster and got it done cleaner. You can buy canning kits at any grocery store, or if you prefer, go to the Ball canning website here, and check out their Ball Utensil Set: http://www.freshpreserving.com/

Once you've got the jam in the jars, place the lids on each jar (I prefer the lids to be boiled and dryed off quickly before placing on jars to maximize their stick). Then tighten the bands around the jars, but just be "finger tight" -- you don't want a bulldozer tight lid (the gasses from the fruit are released which cause the jars to seal).

Place the sealed jars in boiling water for about 15 minutes (about 3 inches of water should cover the jars). Pull jars out of the water using your canning tongs, and let sit on the counter for about 6 hours. You will hear a popping noise as the jars seal. Any jars that don't seal should not be preserved for eating. Store in a cool and dark place. Once opened, keep preserves in the fridge.

I recommend that if this is your first time canning, or you would like new ideas about modern food canning, you read Eugenia Bone's book Well Preserved. She is an Italian chef in New York City that cans in her own apartment in small batches every year. Her tips and insights are amazing, as well as her canning recipes.

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posted by Xiquita, Monday, September 12, 2011 | link | 0 comments |

Polenta ain't so bad afterall

February 02, 2011

The Baking Master has always had a thing against polenta. However this week, I decided to make a tasty polenta that doesn't taste like mealy bird feed.

For this recipe, I used Bob's brand polenta. I made polenta squares rather than porridge type polenta. You can cut the squares and eat them as a side with any fish and vegetable. I made homemade fish sticks, asparagus and polenta squares. Delicious. To reheat, you can lightly saute them in a pan, broil them, or nuke 'em in the microwave.

You will need:
- 2 c water, and extra 1/2 c for the end stage
- 1 c vegetable broth
- 1 c polenta
- knob of butter
- 3 stalks sliced scallions
- 1/2 c Parmesan or other dry cheese like Gruyere
- salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy sauce pot, bring water and broth to boil. Slowly pour in polenta. Turn heat down and simmer over medium-low heat. You should use a long wooden spoon to keep your hands and arms from being burned by boiling bits of polenta. You should also stir this dish frequently. The dish takes about 30 minutes cooking time.

When 30 minutes passes, add remaining 1/2 c water if mixture is dry. Stir in butter, scallions, and Parmesan, stirring frequently over low heat. After about 5 minutes, pour mixture out into a greased cookie sheet. Let set up for 15 minutes and serve in slices. The cheese and scallions really makes this dish.

Some variations I have tasted include dried cherries and sauteed mushrooms with gorgonzola chunks. I've also had polenta that was broiled and served like a cake with braised lamb on top. Mmmmm. Try it Baking Master, and be converted.


posted by Xiquita, Wednesday, February 02, 2011 | link | 0 comments |

Porter braised lamb riblettes

December 13, 2010

I followed the recipe on a package of lamb riblettes I bought from Whole Foods the other day.  In a word, easy.  I threw a rack of riblettes in a Le Creuset pan in the oven at 250 for 2 hours with 1 bottle of porter style beer (any dark porter will do), 2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped onion, 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 cloves garlic, 1 c beef broth, 2 tsp sherry vinager, and salt amd pepper to taste. Braise with lid on, and remove from heat. Reduce liquid by simmering for 15 mins. In the meantime, put those ribs in the oven under a low broiler to crisp up slightly. Remove after 7-10 mins.  Eat with veg and reduced au jus.

posted by Xiquita, Monday, December 13, 2010 | link | 0 comments |

Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits n' Chicken Pot Pie Stew

November 18, 2010

So I had a half roasted chicken leftover in the fridge and no time to make a pie crust for pot pie.  So I improvised with these delicious biscuits and faux pot pie stew instead.

For the stew, saute one half of a chopped onion, 2 stalks of diced celery, 2 small diced carrots, mushrooms, herbs (like thyme and herbs of Provence), 2 cloves of garlic, and 3 tbsp of butter over medium heat.  Once browned, add 2 tbsp of flour and saute until absorbed. Pour in 1 c of chicken stock, and shredded roasted chicken (about 2 cups).  Let simmer while you make biscuits.

For biscuits, preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine 3 c of flour, 1/4 c of parmesan cheese, 4 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp chopped rosemary.  Mix well.  With a pastry blender, cut in 1 and 1/2 sticks of butter.  Once cut in well, add 1 and 1/4 c of buttermilk.  Once mixed, drop 1/2 c sized balls on lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 - 18 minutes. 

To finish dish, pour in 1/4 c cream to stew.  Place biscuit in bowl and scoop ladle full of soup over biscuit.  The biscuits are amazing. Mmm.

posted by Xiquita, Thursday, November 18, 2010 | link | 0 comments |


September 26, 2010

I tried a flan recipe today and had a wildly successful attempt.  I've made flan several times before with nearly no success.  I switched up a few things here, so hopefully it will help you too.

For the caramel: I tried one batch and failed, so I read an article in an old cookbook about caramel. The key tips were (1) don't add water, sugar melts on its own; (2) don't stir with a spatula, just swirl the pan around, and (3) cook over medium heat until sugar starts to cook, then turn the heat down.  I cooked one cup of sugar over medium heat, and swirled the pan around as it started to carmelize.  Once the sugar cooked to a dark amber, I poured the caramel immediately into 6 large ramekins.  Set these aside.

For the flan: heat oven to 355. Set up a water bath for the ramekins--I usually use a roasting pan to hold the water.  In a large bowl combine 1 can evaporated milk, 1 c fresh whole milk, 1 can condensed milk, 1 tbsp vanilla, and 6 fresh eggs.  Stir this very well.  Pour into ramekins, and place ramekins into water bath.  Cook for 60 minutes. Leave in oven to cool off. Refridgerate, then serve cold. Just flip the ramkein over onto a plate and enjoy!

posted by Xiquita, Sunday, September 26, 2010 | link | 0 comments |


August 15, 2010

I know the NY Times recently reviewed mecheladas in their dining and food section, but I think their recipe is simply too complicated.
A mechelada is a Mexican savory beer cocktail, and it comes in many varieties. At its heart it is a bloody mary made with a beer, sans the vodka.
For my version, I add 1/4 of the glass full of Clamato Cocktail Tomato juice, 2 juiced key limes, 2 ice cubes, and one Dos XX Lager. For fun, I threw in an olive. The result? A super refreshing, and not too tipsy making summer cocktail. Stir, drink. Repeat!

posted by Xiquita, Sunday, August 15, 2010 | link | 0 comments |


July 22, 2010

I had a really delicious cocktail at Tag restaurant last week.  It was called an Amante Picante. If you prefer salty to sweet, this drink is for you.  The basic ingredients are lime, cilantro, English cucumber, and tequila.  I didn't know the ratio of things so I made it up.
3 limes, juiced
1 mini cucumber, do not use a traditional cucumber (I didn't peel it, hence the dark green colo)
1 half jalapeno
Small Handful of clean cilantro

Throw it all in a blender, then pour through a civ to remove pulp.  Add limes to adjust flavor.  I poured 2 shots of mix to one shot tequila.  I didn't add enough lime to mine, but I liked the strong flavor.  I am going to try it again soon, with more limes next time, and by peeling the cucumber first!

Drink and enjoy responsibly!

posted by Xiquita, Thursday, July 22, 2010 | link | 0 comments |