Friday, November 13, 2015

Monte Cristo Quesadillas

EACH YEAR AFTER THANKSGIVING, we make Monte Cristo sandwiches, using slices of turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese. The sandwiches are dipped in an egg mixture and cooked in a hot skillet, much like French toast. The sandwiches are then sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with cranberry sauce.

These Monte Cristo quesadillas are not made with Thanksgiving leftovers because I don't yet have any. But I did have some tortillas I wanted to use, left from making Pot Roast Quesadillas. I used deli sliced turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese and served them with homemade Strawberry Ginger Jam.

I did not dip these quesadillas in custard before cooking but I did consider it. . .

Monte Cristo Quesadillas
2 large tortillas
2 - 3 oz. sliced turkey
2 - 3 oz. sliced ham
2 - 3 oz. sliced Swiss cheese
Powdered sugar
Butter for pan

Layer turkey, ham, and cheese slices on one tortilla. Top with the other tortilla.

Heat a pat or two of butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Put the stacked tortillas into the skillet and cook until well browned then flip over and cook the other side until browned and the cheese is melted.

Remove from skillet and dust with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with berry jam or maple syrup.

Repeat steps for additional quesadillas..

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pot Roast Quesadillas

A COUPLE OF TIMES A YEAR, I have a craving for a pot roast just like my Mother always made, braised on the stove top. I would eat some of the beef but it was really the potatoes and carrots cooked in that broth that I loved so much. In fact, my brother and I would reach under the table to swap food--I would give him more meat and he would give me his carrots.

My choice of beef cut is grass fed sirloin tip. I season it and then sear it in a screaming hot pan. (I often set off the smoke alarm during this process). I remove the pan from the heat to let it cool down a bit before adding a couple cups of freshly brewed coffee which is Mama's secret ingredient. The coffee helps tenderize the meat and makes a rich and flavorful broth. (Think Southern Red Eye Gravy).

After our original meal, I like to dream up ways to use the leftovers. Sometimes, I make soup. Or it may be enchiladas or tacos. This time I made quesadillas  and served them with some homemade salsa. They were great!

Pot Roast Quesadillas
1 (10-inch) whole wheat tortilla for each quesadilla
1/4 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese each
1/2 cup shredded beef plus chopped potatoes and carrots each
Sliced onion (optional but delicious) for each

Heat your black iron skillet over medium heat.

Spread cheese, then the beef mixture on a tortilla. Fold in half. Melt a pat of butter in the skillet then add the folded tortilla. Brown on one side then flip to brown the other side.

I like my quesadillas crisp, so I brown them thoroughly, lowering the heat if necessary.

Serve with your favorite salsa.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sweet Potato Biscuits

AT THIS MOST GLORIOUS TIME OF YEAR, my camera had to go to the shop. Sigh.

Last week, I was on a retreat. I stayed in a lodge at a mountainside lake which was unbelievably beautiful with the peak of autumn color. The weather was perfect--chilly enough for sweaters, jackets, scarves, and gloves but not so cold as to need to bundle up. The sky each day was perfectly cloudless and mazarine.

I was feasting my eyes and every place I looked I saw something else I wanted to photograph. The food was delicious and I wanted to shoot that too. Fortunately, my cooking and photographing got ahead of my blogging, so I have some material to post for a while (while my poor camera is in the hospital).

I first learned of sweet potato biscuits from my beautiful aunt, my mother's sister. She makes the most delicious biscuits I have ever eaten. Hers are the standard to which I hold all other biscuits. The children of the family always called her "Aunt Biscuit".

For a special occasion we catered ourselves, she made sweet potato biscuits which she cut very small and served with ham. They were amazing and very popular. I recently tried my hand at them.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
3/4 cups flour
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup cold mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 cup buttermilk

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. In another bowl, stir together sweet potatoes and buttermilk. Pour into the flour mixture and combine until mixed.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still lumpy. Shape into a disk and pat into 1-inch thickness. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter.

Place biscuits on a buttered sheet pan, arranging them close together. Brush the tops with melted butter and bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until golden.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tex-Mex Migas

WHEN THE WEATHER IS CHILLY, GRAY, AND DAMP, I often want to eat something breakfasty. I started using the word, breakfasty, several years ago when I learned it from a little boy who had spent the night with us. Next morning, I asked him if he would rather have eggs or oatmeal. Nope, he wanted something breakfasty. Fruit? No, something breakfasty. I kept offering more and more options and he declined all of them, repeating that he wanted something breakfasty. Finally, I asked him what he considered breakfasty and he replied, "donuts". Apparently he had already spied the Krispy Kreme box I thought was out of sight on top of the refrigerator.

My idea of breakfasty is more on the savory, even spicy side.  Thus, Migas. My husband is never excited when he comes home and sees me making this dish for our supper. And I admit, it is not a show-stopper appearance wise. But he eats it with enthusiasm and growing appreciation and even goes back for seconds.

Migas is scrambled eggs with onions, peppers, leftover tortillas, and cheese. The recipe is very flexible, any kind of peppers can be used, crushed tortilla chips from a bag work fine, any cheese works. Everything is to taste. I like to use corn tortillas, skillet fried until crisp, poblano peppers, and Monterrey jack cheese.

Tex-Mex Migas
1/4 cup mild cooking oil
5 corn tortillas, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 - 3 poblano peppers, diced
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
8 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the tortilla pieces in the hot oil, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, until crispy. Remove to paper towels and set aside while you saute the onions and peppers, in the same skillet, for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Add to the onion mixture along with the tortilla pieces. Gently lift the vegetables and tortillas to let the eggs get evenly distributed.

When the eggs look nearly done, turn off the heat, sprinkle on the cheese and put a lid on it.

When the cheese is melted, serve with salsa, sour cream, avocado slices or guacamole.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cream of Mushroom Soup

IT HAS NOW BEEN RAINING STEADILY FOR five days. Steady rain day and night, fog, and cooler temperatures mean it is time to bring out the soup pot.

Soup is actually my favorite thing to cook and I made this one especially for my husband who is an avid mushroom enthusiast. I like mushrooms just fine but he really loves them. Any mushroom or a mixture of different mushroom will work equally well in this flavorful and creamy soup.

I believe in washing my food. I wash eggs before I crack them and bananas before I peel them. I wash bagged lettuces that claim to have already been washed forty-seven times. And I wash my mushrooms, just before I use them. I place mushrooms in a colander, then using my faucet's sprayer, spritz away all the black matter clinging to them. Dry on a kitchen towel and proceed with the recipe.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream

Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and salt lightly. A few minutes later, add mushrooms and cook until onions are tender.

Stir in flour until thoroughly mixed. Add milk, continuing to stir until mixture thickens and is smooth. Add vegetable stock and soy sauce, stirring until smooth. Cover and simmer over very low heat for 10 - 15 minutes.

Just before serving, add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and sour cream. Serve garnished with paprika and an additional dollop of sour cream.