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Archive for the ‘Daring Cooks’ Category

Stacked Green Chile and Chicken Enchiladas for the Daring Cooks!

In Chicken, Daring Cooks, Vegetables on May 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm
stacked chicken enchilada

Okay, so it's not pretty. But you only see it until it goes in your belly. Which is quickly.

Oh my good were these good!!!!! I love Mexican food, first of all, but really, anything layered with melted cheese is heaven on a plate, am I right? Yes, I am. The sauce is to die for, and has a lovely smoky flavor that makes it a great dip for tortilla chips.

I used Poblano peppers because my stupid grocery store was out of Anaheims the very day I needed them, but it was still really good, and the heat was not a problem. I substituted Colby Jack cheese simply out of personal preference, and to be honest, I probably used a ton more than was necessary. I like cheese.

Don’t get freaked out by the length of the recipe – you can always buy tostada shells pre-fried, and the rest of it doesn’t take much time at all, especially if you use leftover chicken. In fact, It’s a great way to use up extra chicken! You only need a little, and it feeds a bunch of people!

A word of advice – try to bake the enchiladas in individual serving pans if at all possible, because they are very difficult to transfer once they are done. I did mine in cake pans, and just brought those to the table. We don’t put on airs around here.

Okay, kids – go to it!

Blog-checking lines: Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.


1. Roasting the Anaheim chiles is a critical part of the Green Chile sauce. More information about how to do this is included below, but please resist the temptation to rinse the chiles to remove the skin or seeds. You will lose lots of flavor if you do this!!
2. If using a broiler to roast the chiles, lining the broiler pan or baking sheet with foil greatly simplifies the clean-up process!
3. You may want to consider using gloves when peeling and removing seeds from the chiles. I keep a set of gloves in the kitchen for just that purpose. All it takes is one hand to the eye or nose for a lot of pain to set in!


1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles) 24 ounces 678 grams – roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely. Other green chiles (NOT bell peppers) could probably be substituted but be conscious of heat and size!)
7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium)212 grams – peel, remove stems
4 cups Chicken broth (32 ounces/920 grams)
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ tsp Kosher salt (add more to taste)
¼ tsp Black Pepper (add more to taste)
2 tablespoons Cornstarch (dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
Hot sauce, your favorite, optional
2 Boneless chicken breasts (you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
12 Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm). (you can also use wheat tortillas or other wraps)
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack, 170 grams (other cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican cheeses) can be used. Just be sure they melt well and complement the filling)
Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional


Roasting Fresh Chiles

1. Coat each chile with a little vegetable oil. If you are doing only a couple chiles, using the gas stove works. For larger batches (as in this recipe), grilling or broiling is faster.
2. Lay the oiled chiles on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.
3. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool.
4. Pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it.

Green Chile Sauce

1. Put a medium saucepan of water on to boil and remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. You can also grill the tomatillos until soft.
2. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
3. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

1. Heat a gas grill to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.


Seafood Risotto for the Daring Cooks’ Challenge!

In Breads / Grains, Daring Cooks, Seafood on March 15, 2010 at 10:13 am

Oh my. Can't you just smell it from here?

Okay, kids, this one’s fantastic. The Daring Cook’s challenge this month was risotto, and we were free to experiment with any delicious variation we could think of. The given recipe suggested lemon risotto, but I thought we could get a little more adventurous than that! For some reason, the taste of lemon in a savory dish always makes me think of seafood. I guess it’s from growing up in the mid-Atlantic area. Anyway, it really wasn’t a stretch for me to decide to do a beautiful seafood risotto!

It was fantastic. I mean, really. The risotto was creamy and velvety, and beat the heck out of the gluggy mess you usually get in restaurants. I got a seafood risotto at Carrabba’s one time, and it was like a soupy, hard rice with tomato sauce and a shrimp. Awful. Don’t try it. But do try this! The flavor of the risotto is delicate enough to let the flavor of the seafood shine through, and the lemon ties it all together nicely. And for a seafood-based dish, it was really rather inexpensive. Bonus! And the homemade chicken stock makes all the difference. Feel free to use a carcass instead of a whole chicken – I did.

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Seafood Risotto

Chicken Stock

1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg
chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg
2 onions, roughly diced
1 medium leek – white part only, roughly diced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn’t matter.)
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. allspice


  1. Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil
  2. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface
  3. Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil
  4. Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
  5. Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!
  6. Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters
  7. Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don’t need for later use.

Risotto Base

olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml

1 small onion, chopped fine

3 cloves garlic

Arborio rice 14 oz 400g

white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml

chicken stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L

2 Swai fillets

1/3 pound shrimp

4 clams

4 mussels

4 sea scallops

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

about 1 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 lemon


  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavor the oil.
  2. Add the rice and garlic and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
  3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don’t actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
  5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step.
  7. In a separate pan, sear scallops and set aside.
  8. Add water to pan to 1 inch, add 2 ounces wine, and juice from 1/2 lemon.
  9. Add fish, shrimp, clams, and mussels. Boil until shells open.
  10. Add scallops, boil until fish is done. Set aside and retain cooking liquid.
  11. Repeat step 5 again, this time adding the cooking liquid from the seafood as well.
  12. Once the liquid is mostly absorbed, remove from heat, and stir in tomatoes and basil.
  13. Plate, top with seafood, and squirt with lemon. Done!

I realize the recipe looks a bit long and intimidating, but it’s really not – try it, okay? Just take your time, go step by step, and everything will come out wonderfully in the end. I promise.

Mezze for the Daring Cooks Challenge!

In Breads / Grains, Daring Cooks, Salads 'n' Stuff, Seafood, Vegetables on February 16, 2010 at 4:57 pm
pita and hummus

HOMEMADE pita and humus!

This month’s Daring Cook’s Challenge was mezze! Never heard of it? Me either, until recently. Mezze refers more to a style of eating, not a particular food. It’s kind of like tapas, only with a more Mediterranean flavor – lots of small dishes that can  be combined in a variety of ways. You can go Greek, Turkish, Moroccan, Egyptian, or any combination you can think of. And since authenticity is not really that important for our purposes (you don’t get a prize for the most authentic dinner at home), there are really no rules!

Mezze is great for cocktail parties, pool parties, or any kind of casual gathering. See, most of these dishes can be made ahead, so instead of spending the whole party in the kitchen, you actually get to socialize with the guests. To make it even easier, you can structure your mezze to include only cold dishes – that way you can make it all ahead of time, and just pull it out of the fridge when the guests arrive! Because it involves everyone clustered around a beautifully laid table, picking from communal plates, it fosters a sense of closeness, and conversation tends to flow quite nicely from there. Of course, alcohol does that too.

My particular mezze table included:



-sulu yemek

-grilled chicken and shrimp

-marinated cucumbers


-toasted walnuts


Again, you can use whatever dishes you’d like (not like, french fries and cotton candy, but you get my point). In fact, it’s a great way to experiment and try foods you’ve never had before – if it turns out you don’t like it, someone will, and they will sing your praises for days. Look around, do some research, and come up will some cool stuff to try. Broaden your horizons. Try new things. Insert cliché here.

These are fun to bake - they puff!

Homemade pits beats the pants off the stale, dried-out store-bought versions!

Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)

1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn’t puff up, don’t worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

The hummus recipe is a good one, too. Although, I did make one small change – Mr. Gorilla does not like peanut butter or tahini (I know!), so I got all cheeky and used apple butter. It was actually very good! Suprising, yes! The apple cinnamon and garlic flavors actually work well together, and it didnt give me gas like hummus usually does. All this time I thought it was the chickpeas doing that, turns out to be the tahini. Go figure!

Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste

1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste

This is the best veg dish ever!

I’ve already posted the recipe for my sulu yemek here. It’s such a delightful dish, and again, fully customizable. Use whatever you have lying around. I know you like that as much as I do. And it comes out so juicy and tender and fragrant! It will change the opinion of the toughest anti-vegetable person out there, I promise!

What? Yes, cucumbers!

The marinated cucumbers are so easy, and so very refreshing! Just peel, quarter, and slice a large cucumber, and marinate in olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper for about an hour. To serve, just dump it all into a bowl – liquid and all! Kids tend to like this too.

The chicken and shrimp I just marinated in Mojo seasoning (see? no rules!) for a couple of hours and grilled until done.

To toast the walnuts, you just spread them on a baking sheet and toast at 425 for about 10 minutes or so. Keep and eye on them though, and stir them often! You don’t want them to burn. Then they taste awful, and dinner is ruined. All because you burnt the walnuts.

For the feta, just crumble it into a dish straight out of the package, no other prep needed. Sure, you could drizzle it with some honey and throw in some calamata (that’s very awkward to type. try it. calamata) olives, and sprinkle it with black pepper, but I did not do that, and this is MY food blog!

Now we’ve come to the tzatziki segment of the show. Everyone thinks their tzatziki recipe is superior to everyone else’s. The tzatziki controversy is second only to the great falafel debate, which is why I did not make falafel. I like to stay out of politics. I will give you the tzatziki recipe I used because I was quite satisfied with it, and that’s the best I can do.


Combine 8 ounces Greek yogurt (drained overnight) with 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon dill, 1/2 cucumber (peeled, seeded, diced), 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and about 1 teaspoon olive oil in a blender or food processor, and process until creamy. If your yogurt doesn’t seem very thick, you can knock the lemon juice down to 1/2 teaspoon, and don’t add the olive oil at all unless you need to thin it out at the end. DO NOT use Yoplait, or Dannon, or those kinds of bastardized yogurts for this. You want true Greek yogurt. Fage is nice, and pretty common in stores.

Fage is also very good with honey drizzled on it. But now my mouth is watering.

That’s all there is to it! I know, it seems like a lot of work, but there’s nothing that says you have to have this many dishes. Use what you have! Experiment! And make your table pretty and engaging. I used my belly dancing veil and coin belt as table dressing. But everyone was concentrating on the food…

My mezze table. Table for two. God, we are pigs.

Thanks for the challenge, Michelle! Everyone, stop by Veggie Num Nums to say hi to Michelle. YOU GO NOW!