mascarpone and lemon crepes


I whipped these up this morning. They are made from my favorite variety of dessert- sweet with lemon. They are made of basic crepes, some mascarpone cheese and a sweet syrup of lemon juice and powdered sugar.

For the mascarpone-
1/3 cup mascarpone
2 tbs sugar
2 teas vanilla

for the syrup-
whip juice of two lemons with about 1 cup powdered sugar.

For the crepes-
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
zest of two lemon

Whisk batter. Add a few tablespoons to a hot skillet, swirl around to make as thin as possible, flip and heat a few more minutes.

clam chowder

Clam chowder has been on my cooking to-do list for years. Luckily, Central Market had some clam pieces so I didn't have to mess with taking the clams out of their shells.

2 tbs butter
a strip of bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 medium red potato, diced
2 tbs flour
2 bottles clam juice
1 teas celery salt
1 tbs fresh sage
about 1 pound chopped clams, in juice
about 1/2 cup evaporated milk
parsley, for garnish

Saute bacon in butter in a large soup pot until crispy. Add onion, carrots and potato and saute several minutes. Add flour and stir about 1 minute. Add celery salt and sage a few more minutes. Add clam juice, lower heat to medium low, cover pot and allow to simmer for awhile. 

This would be a good time to let the flavors marry overnight. Store in a well sealed glass container. The following day, return soup to pot and slowly heat. Add clams and milk and cook until heated through. Top with parsley.       

turkey roulade

I like Thanksgiving food. Once a year just isn't enough. This dish is pretty simple to prepare and really hit the spot when I was craving a Thanksgiving meal in March.

Prepare the cornbread stuffing from the Cajun section. I left out the Cajun spices and sausage, but feel free to include those. Next, take some turkey breasts, place in a ziploc bag and pound with a mallet until about 1/4 on an inch thick. Then, lay the breast on a cutting board, place about 1/3 cup of stuffing on top, and roll up. Place the roulades in a glass dish and bake about 25 minutes.

I served this dish with some rustic mushroom gravy and collard greens.  

curry house pizza

We went to a great pub here in San Antonio on NYE called The Lion and the Rose. It had a really nice vibe, one of the best drinks I've ever had, made up of lemonade and whiskey and some curry house pizza.

While I was eating the little pizzas, I kept thinking about how easy this would be to make at home. I regularly make pizza and Indian food and putting them together makes a lot of sense. Indian food has a lot of sauce, which would go great topped on naan, just like pizza.

Awhile back, some friends and I went to a cooking class presented by Mr. Raghavan Iyer. He wrote one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, 660 Curries. He recently wrote another book called Indian Cooking Unfolded. There are many things I like about the new book, but my favorite is that all the dishes use 10 ingredients or less, all of which are easy to find at any grocery store. 

I used his ultimate chicken curry dish, but added some bell peppers and a few extra spices to the dish. Meanwhile, I prepared some naan in the bread machine. I divided the naan into fourths, spread the curry on top, and added a bit of shredded cheese. When they came out of the oven, I topped them with some tomatoes and cilantro. 

We usually have lots of pizza and Indian leftovers, but last night my boyfriend and I tore into the curry house pizzas. I had so much fun putting two of my favorite dishes together and recreating a wonderful dish from the local pub.

  

tres leches cake

Tres leches is one of my favorite cakes. There's no other cake like it. I made one last year around this time, and it was a disaster. I used eggnog, which was stupid because it gave the cake an odd flavor. I don't even like eggnog, so I don't know what I was thinking. I learned from mistakes and tried again this Christmas, and it turned out fantastic. My mother said it was the best tres leches cake she ever had.

For the cake, I prepared a basic yellow cake from Cooking Light. I spread it in a 9x12 casserole dish, baked it, and allowed it to cool. Then I took a fork and pierced the entire cake with holes. The first time I prepared the cake, I didn't poke enough holes and it made the consistency, well, inconsistent. 

I then mixed one can of condensed milk with one can of evaporated milk and slowly poured it over the cake.  This is where I've heard people complain about tres leches. They say it's soggy. But if the correct about of milk is added, the cake still holds up well and becomes super moist. I let the milk soak in over night.

The next day, I beat some whipping cream with a little vanilla and powdered sugar and spread it on the top of the cake. I topped the cake with some sliced strawberries.  

This cake is served cold.

tamales

Tamales are a tradition down here. One of the main ingredients is lard, and they are often filled with heavy pork, so they would always upset my stomach. So I made them myself this holiday season. I got an awesome book called Tamales 101, which I read through a few times before I attempted to make them myself. I had always heard that making tamales was a difficult, lengthy task and requires more than one person. 

I found it was pretty easy, and only took a couple of hours. The first day, I soaked the corn husks and prepared the filling. The second day, I prepared the masa, filled the tamales, and steamed them. No big deal. 

It's custom to make a lot of tamales- like 5 dozen. I halved all the recipes and only made about 30 tamales. Which was still too many. I have a lot of extras in my freezer. 

The most important part of tamales, in my opinion, is the masa. For my recipe, I used a few cups of masa harina, a few tablespoons of vegetable shortening, salt, and baking powder. I found the baking powder is essential- it helps the masa puff up a bit during steaming and makes them much lighter. I put all the ingredients in the mixer and added chicken stock until the mixture was wet. The wetter all the ingredients are going into the steamer, the juicier the tamales will be when they're done.

The corn husks were a bit of a pain. I soaked them overnight, but they were still a little tough to work with. They also come in various sizes, so I threw out the smaller husks and worked with the larger ones. Just spread about a third cup of masa on the smooth side of the husk, top with a few tablespoons of filling and fold up as tight as possible. I didn't mess with ties or any fancy folding, but my tamales cookbook has diagrams on several ways to fold tamales. 

Once the tamales are folded and ready to go, I filled my steaming wok with water, turned it up high and placed my bamboo steamer inside. I steamed the tamales for about 30 minutes. A good test to see if they are done is to take one out and peel off the corn husk. It the tamale peels off easily, it's done. If the masa sticks, steam several more minutes.

That's it!

I've gone through two rounds of tamale making so far. For the first round, I made a filling of potatoes and vegetarian chorizo. For the second batch, I filled them with green chiles, tomato sauce and Monterrey jack cheese. I shared them with my family for a huge Mexican feast I prepared for Christmas weekend. I'm looking forward to more tamale making.  

caramelized beets

Christmas dinner for my boyfriend and I was really simple. Some deviled eggs, rolls, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and a tofurky. Now that we eat poultry, it's been awhile since I bought a tofurky. I really like them and I'll keep buying them. I especially like the stuffing. There's not too much of it and it has little specks of wild rice. 

I also made some mashed potatoes. I always use Yukon gold potatoes, because they're a pretty color and very light and fluffy. I add a little butter, garlic powder and milk and just whip them until they're light and chunk-free.

I also made some caramelized beets. I cooked them the day before. Today, I sauteed the beets in a little butter, sugar and a pinch of salt. It really brought out the sweetness of the beets. 

Merry Christmas!