Miz Chef

Food Is Sexy—Therefore, I Cook


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Papalo, the Unsung Cilantro

I just love finding new items to try. I was at the farmer’s market one day and saw something called papalo. I’d never heard of it and had no idea how to use it, but I bought a bundle and did some research.

Papalo leaf

Papalo leaf

Turns out that papalo is an herb that grows wild in Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Most popular in Mexican cooking (although it’s also used in South American cuisines), it’s been compared closely to cilantro. It looks nothing like cilantro but its flavor is mildly cilantro-like with citrus overtones. In fact, it is often used in dishes in place of cilantro. It tends to be used in raw applications more than cooked ones, and is especially popular in salsas and guacamole.

There’s a traditional Puebla sandwich made with meat, avocado, and chiles, varying with tomatoes, cheese, and onions, and always papalo. As far as I’ve been able to determine, this sandwich is called a cemita, which is also a general word (in Spanish) for “sandwich.”

The word papalo comes from the Native American Nahuatl word for butterfly, papalotl. (Interestingly, it’s similar to the French word for butterfly, papillon.) But I’ve come across numerous names for papalo, including Bolivian coriander (coriander being the word for cilantro in many countries), butterfly weed, pápaloquelite, tepegua, quillquiña, quirquiña, and killi.Papalo

Despite the prevailing belief that papalo should not be cooked, I used it in a batch of vegetarian chili and, predictably, it gave it a citrusy note. The chili seemed somehow “fresher” and more summery. That’s obviously my own association with the flavor profile of the chili but the papalo definitely gave it a nice little zing.

Here’s a recipe for a simple tomatillo salsa, using papalo. Let me know what you think.

Simple Tomatillo Salsa with Papalo

½ lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely minced
¼ cup minced papalo leaves
¼ cup finely minced white onion
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Sea salt to taste

Finely chop the tomatillos and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill for at least ½ hour to allow the flavors to blend.

 


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12-Piece Bucket

This week, I thought I’d do something a little different. I decided to put together a “bucket list” of dishes that I want to make at some point. The reason that these things are on a list (as opposed to my just making them) is because they require some time, some organization, and some patience.

Now, I have the organizational skills to carry these out, but the time and patience…not so much. I have so many projects going on that I often find myself overwhelmed. I actually find myself sometimes just sitting on my couch and staring into space because I have so much to do that I simply don’t know what to do next.

These dishes are things that I’ve either tasted somewhere and want to replicate or that I’ve seen—in a book or magazine, on TV, or online—that struck me as so beautiful or creative or intriguing in some way that I just have to try my hand at them. And once I make them, I will consider them real accomplishments, partly for the skills and techniques involved, but also for my being able to discipline myself enough to spend the time on them and focus long enough to achieve those results. (Whether or not they turn out good is another issue.) And, looking over my list, I realize there’s a lot of baking involved—I guess winter will be a busier season than summer.

So, you might call this my “one day” list—things that I will set my mind and hands to one day, when I can set aside the time and muster up the patience. I’m sure that so many of you have similar lists. Maybe they contain only one or two things, or maybe it’s a long list that grows with each passing year. I’d love to know what yours are.

So, without further ado, here’s my 12-piece bucket list of food accomplishments, in no particular order.

  1. Mondrian cake
Mondrian Cake (Blue Bottle Coffee/Caitlin Freeman)

Mondrian Cake (Blue Bottle Coffee/Caitlin Freeman)

2. Opera cake

Opera Cake

Opera Cake

3. Marzipan fruit

Marzipan fruit

Marzipan fruit

4. Napoleon cake

Photo: Georges Seguin (Okki)

Napoleon Cake. Photo: Georges Seguin (Okki)

5. Something Wellington (not beef)

Wellington

Wellington

6. A dessert with a spun-sugar cage

sugar cage

Sugar Cage

7. Croquembouche

Photo: www.croquembouche.com.au

Croquembuoche. Photo: http://www.croquembouche.com.au

8. A true mole sauce

Mole Sauce. Photo: Nbclatino.com/Mariluz Gonzalez

Mole Sauce. Photo: Nbclatino.com/Mariluz Gonzalez

9. Baked Alaska

Photo: Stef Yau

Photo: Stef Yau

10. Croissants

Photo credit: Sundar1

Croissants. Photo credit: Sundar1

11. Zebra Cake

Photo: cookiescupcakesandcardio.com

Photo: cookiescupcakesandcardio.com

12. Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise (evidently, I have a thing for layers)

Photo: Americastestkitchen.com

Dacquoise. Photo: Americastestkitchen.com

Bonus: A gluten-free, multilayered cake that I had to help with at culinary school. It had an avocado cream, raspberry cream, was and topped with chocolate ganache. It was a complicated affair, and I suspect that it was the chef’s gluten-free, dairy-free version of an opera cake.


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Put de Lime in de Coconut

If you’re still looking for a cool, refreshing, but yummy drink to serve at your IMAG1802Memorial Day picnic or barbecue, look no further. I’ve got you covered right here.

I had this little bottle of coconut vodka that I wanted to use, and while I was out shopping the other day, I came across one of those coconut juice drinks with the little pieces of coconut in it. Hmm, I said to myself. I think this would be a great mixer for that coconut vodka.

And that’s what I did. I poured the vodka over a little ice and added the coconut drink. It was okay but it needed something. So I squeezed in some lime. That was it. Let me tell you, coconuts and limes are often paired together for a reason! They’re like Antony and Cleopatra, beans and rice, Abbott and Costello—they just belong together (well, at least the beans and rice and Abbott and Costello).

So, here’s my recipe for a Coconutty-Limey Drink. It serves one but can be batched, and it works well with coconut rum, too.IMAG1808

Coconutty-Limey Drink

2 oz. coconut vodka (or rum)
1 1/4 cups coconut juice drink with pulp
2 wedges from a medium lime

Place a couple of ice cubes in a glass. Pour in the vodka and coconut drink. Squeeze in the juice from one wedge of lime. Squeeze in the juice from the other wedge and add the wedge to the glass Serve.

 

 


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Apple-Bottom Drinks

A few weeks ago, I bought apple slices canned in syrup. I used the apples in apple corn muffins (recipe HERE) and saved the syrup (because of its sugar content, it can stay quite a while in the refrigerator).IMG_2512

One of my suggestions for the leftover syrup was to make drinks with it. I finally had a opportunity to try a couple out. I must say, they turned out deliciously, so I wanted to share them with you.

If you can’t find canned apples in syrup, you can make your own: Slice 2 apples and place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil; lower the heat and let simmer about 20 minutes, covered. Then strain the liquid out over a small bowl.IMG_2802

So here are my successful apple syrup recipes. Both make 1 serving.

Spiced Apple Shooter

1 ounce Captain Morgan rum
1 tablespoon apple syrup (strained)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients, except cinnamon stick, in a shaker with ice. Strain out into a shot glass. Place the cinnamon in the glass and serve.

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Spiced Apple Shooter

Apple-Cacao Aperitif

1 ounce white rum
1 ounce white crème de cacao
1 tablespoon apple syrup (strained)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Lemon zest

Combine all ingredients, except zest, in a shaker with ice. Strain into a small aperitif or cocktail glass.

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Apple-Cacao Aperitif

 


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Liquid Gold from Greens

My friend, Linda, asked me recently for suggestions on what to do with the water she had used to cook kale. This water, known as pot liquor (sometimes spelled potlikker), has set many a cook’s heart aflutter because it’s loaded with flavor. Not only that, it’s also packed with nutrients from the kale, or whatever greens you have cooked in it.DSCF0005

Pot liquor is a U.S. Southern speciality, usually made from collard, mustard, or turnip greens, and can be used in place of water or broth in almost anything. Here are some ways to use it:

* In soups, stews, or chilis

* To cook rice, quinoa, or any other grain

* To braise vegetables or fish

* In a vegetable casserole

* In a vegetable smoothie

* In place of broth in a pan sauce

* If you have enough of it, you can reduce it and add a roux for a sauce, too. This would go very well with grilled/baked/sauteed tofu or tempeh.

* Add it to your pet’s food—it’s nutritious for our furry friends, too!

So, get yourself a nice big bunch of greens—any greens—and cook it down. The best way is to sauté greens in a pan with garlic and oil. But you can also use a small amount of water to boil them. That way, you get the nutrient-packed water without leeching everything out of the greens themselves. Place the greens in a large skillet or dutch oven and add about a cup of water and salt. After the greens are cooked, remove them and save the liquid. To sauté in oil, follow the recipe below, then reserve the pot liquor. It will have incredible added flavor from the garlic and spices.

(By the way, I was very tempted to call this blog “Pot Liquor,” but I was afraid it would draw the wrong kind of traffic. :-) As it is, I expect to get a lot of garbage from spammers who are keying in on the words “pot” and “liquor.”)

Sauteed Greens

1 large bunch greens, washed, drained
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Coarsely chop the greens.

2. Heat the oil in a wide pan; add garlic and cook 1 minutes. Add paprika and red pepper lakes and immediately add the greens.

3. Add ½ cup water, salt, and pepper and mix well. Cover the pan and cook until greens are tender. The time will vary, depending on the type of green it is. Add more water if it starts to get dry.

4. Use tongs to remove the greens and garlic. Reserve the pot liquor for use in other recipes.

 

 

 

 


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Chinese Noodle Stir-Fry with Chickpeas

This week, I’d like to share my recipe for Chinese Noodle Stir-Fry with Chickpeas. There’s nothing like a bowl of noodles, no matter what type of cuisine you’re cooking. It’s comforting and satisfying with layers of flavors and textures. The great thing about noodles is that you can a have them with anything and add anything to them.IMG_2595

One of my favorite way to have noodles is stir-fried with lots of vegetables. I particularly like cabbage, so I start with that and build from there.

I also had some fresh chickpeas and green peas that I had shelled from their pods and needed to use them, so I threw those in as well. Green peas are often found in stir-fries and Asian noodle dishes, but chickpeas not so much. I found them to work beautifully in a stir-fry, especially since I’m a little clumsy with chopsticks and was able to pick up the chickpeas fairly well. Their meaty, firm texture also made a nice contrast to the tender noodles and vegetables.

So, here’s the recipes. Enjoy!

Chinese Noodle Stir-Fry with Chickpeas

2 teaspoons coconut or sunflower oil
10 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 10-ounce package Chinese noodles (your preference)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups sliced cabbage
1 small carrot, diced small
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ chickpeas, black-eyed peas, or soy beans
¼ green peas
2 cups greens (spinach, chard, kale, amaranth leaves, etc.)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 sliced scallions for garnish

1. Heat coconut oil in a wide skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside.

IMG_2588

2. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.

3. In same pan, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a wok or large. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 or 2 minutes. Add cabbage, carrot, and pepper and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add beans, peas, mushrooms, and soy sauce and continue stir-frying another 2 to 3 minutes.

IMG_2587

4. Add greens cook until wilted. Stir in remaining sesame oil.

IMG_2590IMG_2592

5. Add the cooked noodles and stir to combine. Divide between 2 bowls and garnish with scallions.

Makes 2 servings.

IMG_2599

 


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Sorghum Stir-Fry

When I step back momentarily from my hectic life, I realize that I’ve packed so much into my days, weeks, and months that lose control of what’s happening. I lose my grip on the reins and things just go all cray-cray.

Sorghum Stir-Fry

Sorghum Stir-Fry

And it’s because of this cray-cray-ness that it’s been such a struggle for me lately to blog regularly. I keep vowing that I will get back on track—and I always mean it—but I succumb to the insanity again and again.

Sorghum

Sorghum

One of the consequences is that I haven’t been able to cook much. I mean, I cook to test recipes or photograph for my cookbooks, but not simply for the pleasure of it. So, I have all these products in my pantry that have been just sitting there, particularly grains. But last weekend, I was determined to pull something out of the pantry and use it. It turned out to be sorghum.

Sorghum is a great gluten-free grain to have as a substitute for rice. It has a firm, meaty texture and it’s difficult to overcook. It can tend to be dry, but paired with the right ingredients, it works really well for an alternative grain fix. I prepared it on its own, then added it to a stir-fry in place of rice and the result was excellent. Now, I chose to use some cooked veggies that I had in the refrigerator, but you can use whatever vegetables you want. If you don’t pre-cook them, then make sure you stir-fry them until tender before adding the beans.

Sorghum Stir-Fry

½ cup sorghum
1 tablespoon coconut or other cooking oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ small onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1½ cups chopped roasted squash
1 small cooked Japanese yam, peeled and diced
½ cup chopped roasted eggplant
1 (15-oz) can white beans
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoon soy sauce

Bring 1¼ cups water to a boil. Add sorghum; lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until sorghum is tender but firm. If water is absorbed but sorghum still seems hard, add a little more water and keep cooking until tender.

IMG_2526

Heat coconut oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened. Add squash, yam, and eggplant and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add beans and peas; mix in well.

IMG_2529

Add soy sauce and remaining sesame oil and stir in. Add sorghum and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes. Add salt if desired.

IMG_2531

Makes 4 big servings.

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