7/27/11

Busy Kitchen

Hola Mis Amigos,

I can't believe I'm doing another post so soon but today was a busy day in my kitchen. I came on to share a couple of recipes I tried out today (once again from Everyday Food). The first recipe I'm excited to share with you is my first attempt at making granola! I made a pistachio-apricot granola that filled the house with the most intoxicating smell. I can't believe how easy it was and how I went this long without ever making my own!


pistachio-apricot granola
3 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used half nutmeg half cinnamon in place of it)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup dried apricots, diced medium

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats and pistachios. In a small saucepan, combine butter, honey, cardamom, and salt over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts. Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss until completely coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake until oats are lightly golden, 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack and then stir in apricots. (store in airtight containers at room temperature, up to 3 weeks).


For dinner I made jerk pineapple pork chops. It was a great summer dish and I recommend that you serve a green salad and a cold beer with it on the side. This dish serves four (of those people who eat normal serving sizes).


here's what you'll need: 
2/3 of a whole pineapple, peeled
1 bunch of scallions, sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1/2 small habanero or 1 large jalapeno chile, stemmed and seeded
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
4 bone-in pork chops
 coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cut four 1/2-inch rounds from pinapple; set aside. Cut remaining pineapple into large chunks, discarding core. In a food processor, combine pineapple chunks, scallions, chile, thyme, garlic, and allspice and pulse until coarsely chopped. Reserve 3/4 cup pineapple marinade and refrigerate.

2. Season pork with salt and pepper and place in a glass baking dish along with pineapple rounds. Top pork and pineapple with remaining pineapple marinade and turn to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 4 hours).

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, brush pineapple mixture off pork and cook chops until browned and cooked through, flipping once. Add 1 tbsp. oil to skillet. Brush pineapple marinade off pineapple and cook rounds until golden brown in spots. Serve with pork and reserved pineapple marinade.

Enjoy!
xoxo,
Jojoba


7/26/11

A Bounty of Mint


Well, the side of our house is overflowing with mint. If you have some growing in your yard you know that it likes to spread and take over. With all this mint growing (two varieties, spearmint and chocolate mint) I have been trying to incorporate it into our meal plans. I thought I would share a recipe I made for dinner tonight that was quick, easy, and tasty. It won't use up all your mint, but at least you'll save a bit from going to waste. Stay tuned for my next experi"mint" (frozen mojitos). Roll your eyes if you want. I couldn't resist that pun.

xoxo,
Jojoba


turkey koftas with cucumbers and yogurt
 (adapted from everyday food)

11/4 lbs ground turkey (or chicken or even lamb!)
1/2 white onion
1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cucumber diced large
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp veggie oil
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 pitas
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, for serving

 1. In a large bowl, combine turkey, onion, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. You can also add 1/2 tsp. of cumin or red pepper flakes for more flavor. Using your hands, mix until well combined. Form mixture into 8 oval patties.

2. In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber and yogurt; season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Cook patties until browned on all sides and cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Divide patties and tomatoes among pitas. Top with cucumber-yogurt sauce and mint. Fold to enclose and serve.
















6/17/11

Got Rhubarb?

I'm here to report that I have found not one rhubarb plant in my yard, but two! How many of you enjoy eating it? I had only heard of it as a sidekick to strawberries in the famous New England pie. My husband loves strawberry-rhubarb pie and jam, but what else was I to do with it? I felt terrible wasting it when I knew it was perfectly edible, so I went on a quest to try a new recipe with rhubarb. While researching what to do with the vegetable, I came across The Rhubarb Compendium. These people are so wild about the leafy, showy veggie that they sell t-shirts that say, "Got Rhubarb?" This really made me want to try it because as everyone knows, I'm all about following the latest vegetable trends. Snort. I considered making rhubarb wine, but I recently ran out of the required staple ingredients. I'll have to try it as soon as i stock up on more precipitated chalk and campden tablets (seriously?) I ended up making Pork Chops with Tangy Rhubarb Chutney (a recipe from one of my Real Simple magazines). It was extra exciting using fresh chives from my herb garden and lettuce from the veggie beds. I have to say that when I ate all of the dish's components together, it was absolutely delicious. I also heard that you can dip raw rhubarb in some sugar and eat it as a sweet-and-sour snack. I'm not ready to be that adventurous yet, but I'll let you know how it turns out. Let me know if you enjoy eating rhubarb and if so, in what ways?

xoxo,
Jojoba

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 pork chops (about 2 lbs. total)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1small head of Boston or Bibb lettuce, shredded
  • red onions
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh chives
red wine vinegar & chives
fresh lettuce
chutney
resting pork

coriander seeds

diced rhubarb

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the rhubarb, sugar, and ¼ cup water to the saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with the coriander and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until browned and cooked through, 7 to 9 minutes per side.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the lettuce and chives with the remaining tablespoon of oil, the remaining tablespoon of vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the pork and chutney.






6/7/11

Spring Forward


For those of you who have checked in on my blog (thank you), you may have noticed that I took a major hiatus. I have not posted since last September! This happened for several reasons. First, as the school year began things simply got too hectic.  Second, last Fall when the lease to our apartment ended my husband and I experienced a major change---we decided to move in with his parents in order to save for a house. Without my own kitchen and with many of my things in storage, it was difficult for me to continue the blogging process. Six months later (sooner than expected) we closed on our first home and I could not be more excited, feel more blessed, or be more in awe of having a place to call my own.

I grew up in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States in 1991 as a child. Since that major transition I have moved a total of fifteen times in my life making the move to our first house (hopefully our forever house) the sixteenth time that I have changed my address. Never having had a stable home since our migration to the United States, being in my own home, a home of my own choosing that I can alter and design, it is difficult to describe the immense gratitude, joy, and disbelief that I experience on a daily basis as I acclimate to this place.

When my husband and I decided to buy a house, I expected to buy a tiny bungalow with very little yard space and rooms that would require major renovations. I was actually excited about this possibility! I could not have imagined that we would actually find a house that we could grow into, with my very own garden, replete with bird species, and with peonies waiting to bloom. It will take me a long time to realize what has transpired in our lives, to accept how unbelievably fortunate we are, and to discover all the surprises growing on our land. 

I now realize that the in limbo feeling that has filled my spirit since I left the island where I was born had taken up a great deal of space within me. Space that could have been devoted to leading a more fulfilling life. By planting down roots, some of the anxiety, pain, and uncertainty within me has been freed and something of my own choosing can now take their place. Now I am ready to take on new adventures and to share the surprises and experiences that make life richer with you through my blog. I hope you'll join me and I hope that wherever you are reading this, you experience this feeling of being home whether it be a physical place or a fragment of comfort and peace in your soul.

xoxo,
Jojoba

9/18/10

Winter Squash

We recently got some winter squash from our farm share and I decided that given the crisp weather, the deep blue skies, and the bounty of pumpkins and apples that I might as well accept that it's beginning to feel more like fall than summer. I scoured my cookbooks and the internet for the perfect recipe to use my beautiful squash. After stumbling upon a tasty-sounding puree (adapted from the Jew and the Carrot) encompassing delicata squash and leeks, I decided it was time to make some soup. Give this recipe a try when you start craving some cool-weather comfort, too.

xoxo,
Jojoba


For the Soup:
2 1/2 pounds delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large leeks, white and tender green parts, chopped
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme.
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or “no chicken” broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly and gently scrape or cut squash away from skin (delicata skin is edible, but not tasty in this dish). Set aside.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add leeks and thyme and stir occasionally until soft and brown, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the stock and the squash and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Using an immersion hand blender, puree the soup directly in the pot until smooth. (Alternately, puree the soup in batches in a standard blender or food processor).
Season with salt and pepper & top with sour cream and caramelized apple croutons (see below)



For the Caramelized Apple Croutons
1 tart green apple of your choosing
1/4 cup light brown sugar
Peel and core apple and halve lengthwise. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut apple into very thin slices. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread one layer of apple slices on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake slices for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until crisp. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely.

9/17/10

Wedding Cake

our wedding cake
On September 4th this year the hubby and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary! Tradition usually calls for saving the top tier of your wedding cake and reliving your wedding day by eating it on your first anniversary. We opted not to keep the top of our wedding cake for several reasons. First, when it comes to food, we both lean toward instant gratification. I think maybe we ate it at our wedding or the next day. Second, we like fresh food, so eating year-old cake didn't quite seem as appealing. Third, our bakery kindly offered to bake us a miniature version of our cake as a one-year anniversary gift (which was sweet, and unexpected) but it ended up not happening. A year later, the bakery where we got our cake was closed after many successful years of delicious business due to the owner having health complications (Don't worry, they were not cake related). So we found ourselves nostalgic and cake-less. What would you have done? I know what I would have done (and did): why create my own wedding cake replica, of course!

Our four-tiered cake had three different flavors, but the largest and smallest layers were both lemon-poppy seed cake with raspberry curd filling, and the entire cake was frosted in classic butter cream. This is the tier I opted to recreate. I have to say it smelled and tasted just like the cake we ate on our wedding day. I may have forgotten how it tasted and reinvented it in my mind or the joy in reliving a small part of such an amazing day may have heightened my senses. Either way, we have decided to celebrate by making this together every year on our anniversary in remembrance of our happy entrance into marriage.

Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting



This summer I had been enjoying trivia night with friends at a local pub. Unfortunately, the pub wouldn't pay me a yearly salary for showing up on Thursday nights, and so when school resumed I went back to my job and had to put an end to late-night fun. As a parting gift, I promised the trivia friends that if we were the winning team in August that I would bake them a monkey bread. As you can deduce from the pictures above, we were victorious in more than one way. Free beer and cinnamon sugar knots covered in cream cheese frosting later, the trivia friends were pleased. Many people make monkey bread with refrigerated biscuits that come in a can to save themselves the time. The difference with my recipe is that I spent several hours making the perfect buttery-yeast bread, which I then dipped in butter and brown sugar individually. I will give you the typical monkey bread recipe, but I'm simply not ready to share mine ;)

xoxo,
Jojoba

Monkey Bread

Ingredients:
4 cans refrigerated biscuits
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9-10 inch tube pan.
2. Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized plastic bag. Cut the biscuits into halves or quarters and place six to eight biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix. Shake well.
3. Arrange pieces in the bottom of the greased pan. Continue layering until all the biscuit pieces are coated and in the pan. If you are using raisins, place them among the biscuit pieces as you are layering.
4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the layered biscuits.
5. Bake for 35 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Pull apart and enjoy!

Icing Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 pound cream cheese
1/2 pound butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Directions:
1.Allow cream cheese and butter to get to room temperature.
2. Beat butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl with a mixer.
3. Slowly add in the pound of powdered sugar.
4. After all the powdered sugar is added mix for 12 minutes (do not mix less than that).
5. When almost done, add in the extract and lemon juice.