Chile Rellenos Casserole and Green Rice

For those of us who love our chile rellenos, but cannot handle actually making them (gringos), I’ve concocted my own recipe.  In my version, I put this together with the intent of staying as true to the original dish as possible.  Of course, since we’re talking about a casserole here, there are elements that would feel more at home in a Yorkshire pudding than your favorite Mexican restaurant, but I think this captures the spirit.  Do not be discouraged by the detailed instructions!  That’s mostly the chile handling and preparation.

I’ve also thrown in a newly discovered favorite of mine, green rice.  This is a variation on the more common red Mexican rice that for some reason I’ve just really taken to.

Will feed about 4 people with lunch leftovers!

Chile Rellenos Casserole

9            Poblano, Anaheim or pasilla chiles

10 oz.    casera cheese (queso fresco)

2              cups shredded cheddar cheese

6              eggs

1              tsp. baking powder

¼             tsp. salt

¾             cup flour

½             cup milk

  1.  Char your chiles on a comal, or in a cast iron frying pan or over an open flame.  Do not be afraid to toast these suckers good.  What you are doing here is giving the chile flavor and making it possible for you to skin the chile with ease.  When they are burnt to your liking, put them in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let them sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. During this rest time, grate the cheddar cheese and make the batter for pouring over the peppers.  Get your favorite 9 x 13″ pan and spray it with oil or grease it down, then turn on the oven to 350F.
  3. Now that the chiles have sat, they should be ready for prepping.  Important:  If you are not accustomed to handling peppers, BE CAREFUL.  I’ve handled peppers all my adult life and by and large, they don’t bother me, but they may bother you.  To be on the safe side, get yourself some medical gloves or rubber gloves or whatever and make sure you DO NOT rub your eyes with the gloves still on!  It hurts!!!  I know, this may seem a bit basic for some, but having to flush your eyes with water and possibly damaging your cornea is not worth it.  Granted, these are mild peppers, but you’ll notice as you’re seeding and skinning, you’ll need to sneeze, or you’ll feel it in the back of your throat, so there is some heat there.
  4. The chiles will be limp and require no special paring tools, especially if you’ve given them a good char.  Because they can be fragile, carefully remove the skin – I like doing it over a clean sink under some cool, running water.  They can be very slippery! – with your hands, and then, if you need to, make a slit in the pepper using your finger and remove the seeds and any fascia.  This is when you’re going to notice the burn, if any.
  5. Now comes the easy part.  Bring out your casera cheese and cut into sticks to fit in your chile.  That’s why I didn’t have you do it earlier. Each chile will be different, and you want it to wrap around and completely cover the cheese.  This may not be 100% possible, as there will most likely be some tearing in the earlier cleaning process, but do what you can.  They’ll be covered up anyway!  Arrange them in the baking dish and cover with the batter.  Top with the cheese and put them in the oven for 30 minutes.

For an extra kick, I like using El Pato Mexican tomato sauce.  I didn’t have any at the time, or the pictures would have looked different!  Also, just to let you know, the casera cheese will not be melty – it’s fresh, so it won’t melt.  But there, I was being true to the spirit.  If you must have melty cheese, use a decent Monterey Jack.

Green Rice

2              cups chicken broth

2              cups water

2              tsps. salt

2              cups medium grain rice, if possible

½             bunch of fresh cilantro

3              cloves of garlic, peeled

½             of a medium onion, peeled and wedged

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth, water and salt to a boil.  Stir in the rice, and wait for the water to boil again.  Reduce the heat to low, stir one more time, and cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Toss your cilantro, garlic and onion into a food processor and puree to your heart’s desire.  I actually pureed some  more after taking the picture because I noticed a little chunk of onion.
  3. After the 15 minutes is up, remove the rice from the heat and let set for another 10 minutes – do not lift the lid!
  4. When the rice has set, you may remove the lid!  Fluff the rice, and put in your puree at that time.  I used maybe 1/4 cup.  You may want more or less – it’s up to you.

Serve!

National Spaghetti Day

Found this image on a school website - !  Wish their food actually looked that good.

Found this image on a school website – !

How’s this for random?  With only 1 hour and 45 minutes to go before it’s January 5th, I discovered that January 4th is National Spaghetti Day!  No, I don’t have any brilliant recipes of my own to share, but I do love, love, love spaghetti!  I have one whole cookbook on my shelf dedicated to it alone, then I have several Italian cookbooks to fill in some more of the cultural cuisine of Italy.  The link earlier in this paragraph leads to some delicious looking recipes. Sorry I didn’t know about this earlier, since I saw some Italian restaurants in Sacramento and Roseville offering great spaghetti deals  – <:’-(  Well, have fun with this bit of flotsam and maybe we’ll catch it next year and DO SOMETHING with it. See you in the funny pages!

Sleeper

When growing up I remember all tomatoes were red, all lettuce was iceberg, Oscar Meyer bologna was king, and white bread, enriched with vitamins and minerals, was good for you.  Then in the 80’s, we started hearing about cholesterol, both high and low-density lipoproteins, saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, (no, trans-fat wasn’t in the public consciousness yet!) and carbohydrates.  There were other buzzwords circulating at that time, but I won’t belabor my point….too much.  If you all remember, carbs were king and feeling the “burn” while you exercised was the only way to go.

sleeper

Love this house! I think it’s somewhere in Arizona.

woody-allen-sleeper

He always knew how to make use of his – ahem – less than attractive face.

I’ve used the title “Sleeper“, a great Woody Allen movie, because the nutrition information seemed to jive with what is happening today.  The main character is, without his consent or knowledge, put in cryogenic sleep because something went wrong during a routine surgery he was having, and wakes up to a dystopian world 200 years in the future.  He is awakened to find cream pies, cigars and cigarettes are considered to be healthful.  In one scene, Woody is panicking because he’s been told the reason why he was thawed (you have to see the movie!) and one of the doctors who was responsible for bringing him out of the freeze, lights a cigarette and hands it to him, telling him to take the smoke deep into his lungs.  Hahaha!

My point?  Eat what YOU want, exercise in a way that makes YOU feel good and get all the sleep YOU need.  Just be certain to maintain a weight and state of health that makes YOU feel good.  You’ll know you’ve hit the spot if you aren’t prescribed a crapload of maintenance drugs to stay alive because you’re overweight and don’t exercise.  Oh, wait – that sounds like me.

Excuse me, I think I’ll go make myself a bologna sandwich on white bread…

Ladies and Gentlemen, once again, Julia Child

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I think I must have used every pot in the kitchen!

I did warn in an earlier blog that I may be reviewing recipes in Julia’s famous “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook and posting my results, and here we are.  I made Daube de Boeuf several weeks ago, but haven’t got around to blogging because I just finished cleaning up the kitchen after making it -!  (joke)

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Marinade

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No shortcut here!

First, I was surprised that the beef was marinated.  I don’t know what to expect of French cuisine, but for some reason, I thought marinating was more of an American thing.  But what are most Americans today but displaced peoples from other countries?  Of course, there was much chopping, slicing and prepping and I realized later on that I could have taken a short cut with the tomatoes, but as always, I wanted to be true to the recipe and blanched, peeled and seeded the tomatoes.

 Now I shall contradict myself.  Julia Child seems to like boiling her bacon first.  In all the recipes I have made that use bacon, she always wants you to boil it for at least 10 minutes before using.  Does anyone know why?  I have never done that and I’ve always been very happy with the results.  I know that when I lived in England, their bacon was thicker and, well, more flavorful than the garden variety one finds at  American stores.  (I do miss that!)  Is French bacon saltier or something?  Anyone?  So I don’t always stay true to the recipe.  sigh

I also did not lard the meat because she didn’t insist, but the option was there.  She describes this term as inserting larding pork or blanched bacon (there we are again!) through each piece of meat.  Considering that it’s a casserole, and the beef is cut into 2 1/2″ pieces, larding would have taken way too long.  Probably why she didn’t insist on it!

This recipe didn’t seem so long to prepare as other main dishes from this book, only about two hours.  That’s not including the marinading time, which was at least three hours.  However, the amount of cookware involved in the prep seemed to be right on target with everything else I have made!  It truly did take awhile to clean up, and that’s even counting the clean as you go system.  So total time spent on this wonderful casserole was probably about five hours.  I cannot begin to imagine cooking from this book every night and working a full-time job such as Julie Powell did.  I am a stay at home goddess, and I find my occasional forays challenging enough!

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After cooking in the oven for three hours, the aroma suffused the house with savory deliciousness!

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Close up! I can remember the taste by looking at this….yummm.

After having said all that, I did not get any pictures of this delicious dish being plated.  I did get a few in the pot just before I started gobbling it down, but no pretty ones.  boo-hoo  Oh, well, we’ll catch it next time!   As Julia Child would say, “Bon appetit!”

One minuscule step for mankind, a big step for me

DSC_0028 cheap camera vignetteIt must grow exponentially from generation to generation.  My oldest living antecedents that I personally knew were my maternal grandmother and grandfather.  In particular, my grandfather was 50 when my mother was born in 1937.  Late baby.  He was raised on a farm and his tastebuds developed before the proliferation of pizza and Italian food in general after WWII and could never bring himself to eat it.  I couldn’t imagine my life without Italian food!

As children we were raised in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and call it for what it was: a barrio.  This gave my sister and I leg up on expanded palates.  Our favorite food then, and still is, Mexican; in particular, CaliMexi food.  Also, as a young single parent, my mother would foray into the culinary unknown with Helen Gurley Brown’s “Single Girl’s Cookbook” and some highly inappropriate erotic cookbooks, one that featured phallus shaped cookies which I remember helping my mother bake when I was around 7 or 8 years old.  It was the late 60’s and early 70’s rife with free love and self-expression, yada-yada.  My mother finally settled on meatballs.  Swedish meatballs, Italian meatballs, German meatballs (they even had raisins!) as her darlings of the kitchen.

As a young woman, I joined the military and was sent to Europe.  I discovered Greek food on the beach in Leiston, Indonesian food and Indian food in Amsterdam and Spanish (NOT MEXICAN) food in London.  Since I’ve been, England’s food scene has been revived. but while I was there, it was slim pickings.  I do feel compelled, though, to mention the wonderful pork pies and sausage rolls and high tea with wonderful pastries and lunch at the local pub featuring big hunks of Cheddar served with fresh crusty bread and Branston pickle on the side.

My daughter, who I always encouraged to try anything when it comes to food, went to the California Culinary Academy and furthered her gastronomic experience way beyond anything I’d ever thought of it.  Since then, I’ve tried mussels, savory jams,  more root veggies than I had known existed, while she’s eaten foods that I wouldn’t have thought were considered food, such as sea cucumber.  Well, someone must have though it was food to name it that, but yikes!   So finally, four years after her graduation, I allowed her to make me…cold soup.  Inspired by Food Follower’s blog entry, I turned to her and said, “Let’s have gazpacho.”  She almost fell out of her chair.  She used the same recipe she had made while working for a very nice restaurant in Loomis.  We took beautiful pictures of the soup and accompanying bruschetta and my mouth watered in anticipation.

And…it was okay.  I lived.  I’ll eat it again if it’s made, but I won’t be requesting it.  However, it does make me wonder, with the world becoming smaller, what’s on the culinary horizon for my grandchildren (if I ever have any!).  What will their traditional Sunday dinner be?

Dagwood

Some things in life are best measured by your sense of contentment.  A day spent without drama, without a busy schedule and without personal obligations can be quite enjoyable.  That’s when the cookbooks are grabbed off the shelf, the sewing machine is dusted off and brought out for a spin, the half-finished painting that hasn’t been worked on in 6 years is located and pondered over, that novel you’ve been mulling over for the past 20 years comes to mind and many more pleasant diversions; I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

Today is one of those days.  While I sit on the couch, tapping away on my laptop and ignoring “Pride and Prejudice” because I’ve already seen it 100 times but still adore it, my daughter is in the kitchen creating a monstrously wonderful Dagwood sandwich.  How are we going to eat it?

The ingredients

The ingredients

We got it!

Dagwood

Adding stability

Removing center skewer

Slicing all the way down

Slicing all the way down

Et voila!

Et voila!

Plated

Plated

I can't believe I ate all that!

I can’t believe I ate all that!

In the end, we had to pick up the sandwich by the skewers and just treat it like a corncob!  Not too pretty, but really tasty.  Personally, I think I won’t be requesting these monstrosities in the future.  They’re more eye candy and not very practical to eat!  I must admit, though, that one half of a sandwich is very filling.

For the specifics on this and cool culinary tips, go to http://culinarianonsequitur.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/the-dagwood-an-expedition-into-unreasonable-gluttony/

Now to my knitting…