Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pollo Asado and Zucchini Burritos

In seeking to maintain a bit more diversity on this blog, as well as in my personal eating routine, this post is dedicated to the burrito. With a simple set up of a tortilla and various fillings, it is a fun communal dish once you have everything set up, and quite easy to do. Today I opted for both vegetarian and normal options, zucchini and pollo asado burritos.

Here’s almost everything required for dinner except  the chicken. Bell pepper, zucchini, onion, oranges, limes, lemons, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.

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First a half cup of olive oil.

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Then prep your citrus for juicing.

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Almost a cup and a half from the oranges and lemons.

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And five key limes should do it in place of a regular two limes.

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Next season with salt.

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And pepper. This is white pepper since that’s all we had at home. I’m not sure how much of a difference black pepper would have made.

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Now add some smashed garlic gloves. Because garlic makes everything better.

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It’s looking like something good will come of this, I’m sure of it.

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Give it a good whipping with a fork. I’m sure a whisk would work better. Maybe.

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Still, I had a feeling it was missing something. While pleasantly sour, it didn’t seem to have enough salt content.

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I may have overstepped my bounds when I added some soy sauce. But actually I wish I had added even more. Or just more salt. More on that later.

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Here are the peels tossed onto the chicken legs. Add the marinade and let it soak for at least two hours. I went for three, but I’d say overnight would be pretty great.

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Once you’ve marinated the chicken and it’s getting time for dinner, set your oven to broil and we can start prepping the vegetables. Slice up the bell pepper as described in my earlier post.

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And cut up the zucchini into coins.

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A half inch in thickness is optimal.

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If only these were real coins! Then I might have enough get a cup of gasoline.

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Depending on the size of your pans you will probably have to do this in a few batches.  Medium heat, splash of oil, and let it go. The bell peppers took about seven minutes.

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With a somewhat hotter pan, the zucchini only needed a minute a side, but on low heat they could probably stand the heat for a few minutes longer. But this is a good color to aim for.

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Oh, almost forgot! Here are the chicken legs which have been put into the broiler for about 12 minutes. Turn them and baste them with your reserved marinade.

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And another 18 minutes more. They could have actually been in there a while longer, but people were hungry. Still, a bit more of a grilled and blackened chicken would have probably kicked it up. Which is what the original recipe asked for coincidentally. I bet actually having the right kind of tray would have helped as well.

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Here’s the spread. Some blended salsas, beans, the chicken, guacamole, sautéed veggies. Maybe some cheese wouldn’t have been bad. And in hindsight, some fresh salsa would  have complimented the chicken a bit better I think.

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First, a try with this all vegetable burrito. Honestly, not bad at all. I could see eating this regularly and not missing meat terribly. I was somewhat amazed that without seasoning the zucchini tasted so savory.

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But enough of that, time for the meat! Chicken was eaten, and it was good. Next time I’ll trust my instincts that if the marinade seemed as though it could use more seasoning, I’ll go for it. But all in all, it was a very successful dish, with a nice touch of acidity to make a very fresh dish that is fun to share and make at the table. Until next time!

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Recipes modified and adapted from The Pioneer Woman and

Pollo Asado
  • Half cup of Olive oil
  • Juice and peels of 2 large oranges
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Juice of two Limes
  • 4 garlic gloves, smashed
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • half cup of Soy Sauce (optional/possibly sacrilegious)
  • 15-16 whole Chicken Legs

Whisk together all the ingredients up except for the chicken legs. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Marinate chicken legs in the liquid for at least two hours in either a bowl or some plastic bags, along with the orange peels. Toss about during the marinating.

Set oven to a high broil. Once heated set the marinated chicken legs and onion chunks on a pan on the bottom rack.

Broil for 12-13 minutes, turn them over and baste with marinade. Broil for another 12-28 minutes until the chicken looks pleasantly cooked, with blackened spots desirable. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving with warm tortillas, beans, salsa and other burrito things.

Sautéed vegetables for burritos:

  • Zucchini, sliced
  • Bell pepper, cut into strips

Heat up a non stick or well seasoned cast iron pan. Add a dollop of oil, and sauté the vegetables in batches. Serve with pollo asada, other meats or as a substitute for meat.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Slicing Bell Peppers

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Consider the bell pepper. Tangy, crunchy, perhaps a little on the sweet side. Handy raw, roasted, baked, stuffed, and any other assortment of preparations. And quite a healthy vegetable as well! In other words, a great ingredient.

Here’s a handy technique for when your recipes call for sliced bell peppers. I think many people would slice straight down the middle and work from there, but here’s a different method. Think of the pepper as a box, and then slice off the sides.  Given the rather bumpy nature of the bell pepper, this may seem counterintuitive at first, but observe and you shall see the greatness of method.

Grasp your bell pepper firmly and confidently, and hold your knife over the bell pepper, just to the side of the stem, then slice downwards. 

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You now have taken off a “side” of the bell pepper’s “box.” Turn the bell pepper 90 degrees, and repeat the process again, and again.

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Now you have some pretty flat pieces of pepper, ready to be sliced into strips fairly easily. A lot of the inner pith is avoided this way as well! That little end piece to the left can be dealt with however you wish.

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I notice red bell peppers tend to be a bit more triangular rather than the more apple shaped green bell peppers. So rather than cutting them four times, reduce to three.

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Two! (Kind of a weird cut given the extreme divot in one side)

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Another advantage to this method is how easy it is to stack the slices.

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Place them on top of each other. And cut into some pretty even strips.

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Tada! And that’s your handy tip for the day.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cat Iron Therapy! Shout out to the Lange Foundation.

Oh Fran, you silly little monster. Another break from the cooking aspect and perhaps a little bit more on the therapy aspect. Pets are great therapy! They are fluffy and pretty tolerant of being made fun of since they don’t understand you.

I picked up Fran from the Lange Foundation in Santa Monica when I was living down south. They do good work, so if you’re down that way and need a little more furball in your life, I recommend it.

Look, she’s hugging my foot! What a cutie!

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Wait a second! My socks aren’t food! This actually is pretty fun since she doesn’t really hurt me.

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I think the edit to the following picture is necessary.

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But in the end, it looks like she’s a bit embarrassed. Silly cat.

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Warning Bad Milk Jokes Ahead! But Tres Leches Cake Too!

This dessert is LEGEN-DAIRY! Hey don’t have a cow! It’s just my nature to milk a joke as much as I can. Ok, don’t hit me!  I’m done for the time being. This is a recipe for Tres Leches Cake found from the cooking section of the one and only (and very lovely) Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman.

I’ve been meaning to do a dessert post for a while, and this seemed like a real winner. Simple ingredients, a direct presentation and likely a sweet clean taste. And I got to stab the cake with a fork too.

Please check out Ree’s website for the recipe, and enjoy the photos and vague directions!tresleches 001

Some fun and interesting ingredients. Flour, eggs, condensed milk, baking powder, milk, whipping cream (Heavy would be better! Dammit grocery stores stock it!), evaporated milk, vanilla, salt and sugar (not pictured).

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Greased two pans instead of one in order to make better use of fridge space. I need to invest in some nonstick spray as well...

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Mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.

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Separate the eggs.

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Add sugar.

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Beat til a lovely pale yellow.

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Add vanilla and marvel at how unattractive it is!

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Then beat it again.

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Slowly add egg mixture to dry ingredients.

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And mix in lightly.

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Egg whips whipped to soft peaks.

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Don’t be a dunderhead like me and stop the mixer to add sugar though. Keep it going!

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Still, seems to have turned out ok. Stiff, but not dry.

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Fold into the batter gently.

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Pour into your pan(s). Then bake!

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Mix together all these wonderful three milks. Well, two milks and a cream.

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Too hard to hold a milk jug and take a photo, so deal with it! Ah, baking a success! I think.

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After the sponge cake cools, it is time for some stabbity stabbity!

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Looks all right to me.

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Add the Tres Leches!

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Yes, all of it, really! It will soak in. I actually could have used a bit more of this milk mixture according to my taste testers.

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Smells goooooood.

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So good.

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So good! So good! I got you! Hey!

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Oops, a bit off topic. Time to whip some cream while that milk soaks into the cake.

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Tada. Magic! A bit off, but not bad. I didn’t remove the cake from the pans by the way due to a rather stingy refrigerator real estate agent. It still works fine this way though, so this method may be a bit more convenient for those of you who want to save a cake.

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And now pictures of cake.

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These were udder-ly  (needed to get one more in) delicious! Creamy, milky, sweet, somewhat custardy in the right ways.

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