Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mexican at Home: Lauren's Sopes

I enjoy dining out almost as much as I love cooking in: perusing menu's, finding neighborhood favorites, trying different cuisines...I love it all.  Having New York City at my finger tips, there is always a running list of restaurants I want to visit.  My husband jokes that you can tell how much I am enjoying a meal by how many times I utter "I am going to try and make this at home." 

Recently, friends introduced us to this tasty Mexican restaurant on the Lower East Side. The meal was so simply perfect that I repeated the aforementioned "I'm going to make this" an obnoxious number of times.  And I've been doing just that, re-creating my favorite dish of homemade sopes, to perfect it before sharing it here.

Like any good Mexican food, the two main success criteria are the sauce and the base. The sauce, you may remember from this post.  It's the wonderful Alice Waters Tomatillo Salsa Verde.  If you don't have tomatillos on hand, substitute fresh store-bought salsa or a really good gourmet jarred variety such as Green Mountain Gringo or Desert Pepper.

The base and heart of this dish is a corn meal tortilla like cup, called a Sope.  These gems are so simple to make, I urge you to try it at home. It looks like a lot of steps but from start to finish it takes me about 20 minutes. I purchased the corn flour or masa harina on for close to nothing!

Homemade Sopes
Makes about 16 sopes serving 4-5 (recipe easily halves to serve two)

  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups water or stock 
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup greek yogurt or sour cream whisked together with the juice of one lemon or lime, and a dash of hot sauce or srirachi
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 thinly sliced avocado
  • Alice Waters Tomatillo Salsa or store bought gourmet salsa variety 
  • Cooked protein or vegetables of your choice (sauteed shrimp, roasted chicken, browned beef or sausage or stir-fried peppers will all work)
  • Prepare your fillings by chopping the lettuce, whisking the yogurt with the lemon, slicing the avocado and making or purchasing the salsa
  • Cook a protein to your liking. In the version below I sauteed:
    • 1 chopped onion, 1/2 green pepper, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes, 1/2 pound of ground turkey, salt, pepper, a dash of cumin and a dash of hot sauce over medium heat until cooked through 
Sope Directions modified from the Food Network
  • Mix the masa and water or stock together into a smooth consistency.
  • Create a ball of dough about the size of a cue or racketball ball, and roll it between your hands until firm. Cover the bowl with the remaining dough with a wet paper towel.
  • Place the masa ball in the middle of two plastic wrap lined cutting boards.  Apply pressure until ball pushes out to 4 to 5-inch diameter. (If the edges of patty crack deeply the dough is too dry, if the patty does not remove from the plastic easily the dough is too moist.) 
  • Heat a cast iron pan on high until hot. Place the masa patty (as many as will fit) on the pan without any oil, brown on both sides, approximately 1 minute on each side. Remove and let cool.
  • While still warm, form the edges up making a hollow tart like shell.  
  • Heat half the vegetable oil in the pan. Add thesope shells to oil and cook, flipping on both sides until slightly crispy and golden brown.  (The original recipe suggests you deep fry in 1 inch of oil. I opt for a lightly fried healthier version)
  • Hold warm for service.
  • Spread a teaspoon of the yogurt/sour cream sauce over each sope
  • Continue with a layer of protein, shredded lettuce, salsa and avocado
  • Serve and enjoy!
  • We are big eaters, and enjoy four per person, however three would likely suffice
Ground Turkey Filling
Mixing the Sope Dough
The Sopes, pre filling
¡Buen apetito!

P.S. I am playing around with different photography editing software, like this free trial from Camera Bag. Is there a software you prefer? I'd love to hear about it below.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quinoa & Kale Crustless Quiche

This is my absolute favorite recipe to date on this blog.  Seriously, it is so so so good, I beg you to whip it up  yourself.  In this post, I told you about my obsession with kale and cheese, and in this one, you read about my love of the egg.  All these favorites combine for the perfect slice of deliciousness.  We enjoyed it for dinner first, and breakfast the next morning.  Rich kale, gooey sharp cheese, wholesome quinoa, carmelized onions, binding eggs.... If you are on the kale fence, as I hear many of you are, this is the dish to try it in.  I want to go make another right now!  Thank you @Food52!

Quinoa & Kale Crustless Quiche
Courtesy of Food52
Makes About 6 slices

  • 1/2 cup quinoaAsk the
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  • 1 cup water or stock (veggie or chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small bunch (2 cups) kale
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup of sharp cheese, such as white cheddar or gouda 
  • 3 ounces of cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
    • Preheat oven to 350 and butter or spray a 9" pie dish. Rinse the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water or stock in a pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer for about twenty minutes. Set aside. 
    • Meanwhile, start to caramelize the onions. Heat the olive oil in a large saute on medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions. Slowly cook until  soft and browned.
    • Transfer the onions to large bowl. Add the kale into the hot onion pan. On medium heat, cook until the kale is wilted but still bright green, about two minutes.
    • Add the kale, quinoa, garlic, cream cheese and cheddar to the onions. Stir until mixed.
    • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until well combined. Pour over the quinoa/kale mixture. Stir until the egg clings to the greens. Add salt and pepper.
    • Pour the mixture in the prepared pie dish. Bake for about 35- 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the pie has started to pull away from the edge of the baking dish.

      Wednesday, October 19, 2011

      The Perfect (Fr) Omelet

      I remember the first time I had really good eggs. It was at my family summer cottage on Dorval Island near Montreal, and my Aunt Jane was at the stove.  This was before she and my uncle opened up their glorious bed and breakfast, and she had whipped up a batch of scrambled eggs for all the cousins. I undoubtedly ate and ran without stopping to share my delight in the eggs, but there was something in that scramble that made a life-long impression.

      My love of eggs has blossomed since that first great scramble. A poached or fried egg adorn many meals these days: pasta, roasted veggies, sauted leeks, burgers. Breakfast for dinner is a favorite in the Hayduk (HeyLocke?) household. So much so that I've been trying to perfect my omelet for years. My first major leap was realizing how much better an omelet cooks over medium-low heat versus high or even medium high.  The next breakthrough was upgraded pans thanks to generous wedding gifts.  And recently, well recently, I hit the omelet jack pot when my obsession with tearing out and filing recipes really paid off.

      I've made this "breakfast for dinner" omelet four times with my CSA eggs to make sure it really is "the" omelet recipe, ready for you dear readers. And it is. Oh, it is.

      P.S. If any of you make this one, I'd love to hear your reviews in the comments section!

      The Perfect Fromelet
      Modified courtesy of Food & Wine's Omelet Souffle  

      1 serving
      • Three eggs
      • 1 pad of butter 
      • Your choice of components: Onion, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Cheese, Bacon, Tomatoes, etc.
      • Salt & Pepper
      • Start your oven broiler. 
      • Separate three large eggs. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with a pinch of salt.
      • In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until the top is frothy, about 1 minute by hand.  
        • Note: If you want to try to original "souffle" style of the recipe, whisk much longer until soft peaks form. I prefer Fromelet (frittata + omelet) style and whisk less.
      • Next whisk one-fourth of the egg whites into the yolks.
      • Fold in the remaining yolks until the two are combined and the colour is uniformed. 
      • In an 8-inch overproof nonstick or iron cast skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat.  Add the egg mixture, shaking to distribute evenly. 
      • Let cook for about 1 minute, then sprinkle the toppings evenly over the top.  
      • Transfer the entire pan to the oven and broil for 3-4 minutes before serving.  Holy yum!
      Whisked Bright Egg Yolks
       Frothed Egg Whites
       The Final Fromelet: Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese

      Monday, October 17, 2011

      Curried Celery Soup

      We all know not to judge a book by its cover, and in this case, that means not judging a recipe by its title.  I like celery as much as the next gal.  It's crunchy. It has has terrific hummus and peanut butter scooping propensities. I also love Indian Food.  Somehow, though, curried + celery + soup sounded, well... sorta just okay, not terribly special.

      The deluge of celery in my weekly CSA and gorgeous list of accompanying ingrediants turned me onto this not-so-aptly titled soup and I am grateful for it.  Think Indian root vegetable stew, not just curried celery.

      If you like Indian food and thick fall soups, this ones for you (that means you Penny!). Top with a dollop of fresh yogurt or sour cream and dig in!

      Curried Celery Soup
      4 servings 

      • Vegetable oil
      • 1 onion, diced
      • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
      • 6 celery stalks, diced
      • 2 potatoes, diced
      • 1 cup celery leaves, chopped
      • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
      • 1 apple, diced
      • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth  
      • 4 teaspoons curry powder (or garam masala which is all I had on hand!)
      • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (omit if using garam masala)
      • 2 teaspoons thyme
      • salt and pepper
      • Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in a little vegetable oil for about 10 minutes.  
      • Add the potatoes, sauté for another 5 minutes.  
      • Add the garlic, the apple and the spices, continue to sauté for a few more minutes.
      • Add the broth, scrape the bottom of the pan and bring to a simmer.  
      • Cook for another 10 - 20 minutes (test to make sure a potato cube is cooked) and then add the celery leaves and cook for another 5 minutes.  
      • You can blend the whole batch with in a food processor or with an immersion blender, however, I'd suggest just blending half for a chunkier end product.
      • Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve topped with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt.

      Monday, October 10, 2011

      Roasted Squash & Carrot Quinoa

      These fall gems arrived in my CSA delivery.  On the weekend, my husband and a few of our good friends spent the day catching striped bass on a boat off Montauk point.  The growing baby in my belly kept me ashore, (I LOVE fishing so this baby better be cute ;-) and I cooked up the accompaniments for the evening feast. You may have read about the delicious apple and pear crisp, and the salad below offered a calm compliment to the star of the of menu, fresh stripped bass in a coconut curry sauce.  Recipe for bass to follow!

      Roasted Butternut Squash & Carrot Quinoa Salad 
      • 1 butternut squash
      • 3 - 4 large carrots
      • 1 white onion
      • 1/2 log of goat cheese
      • 1 cup dry quinoa 
      • Fresh Sage
      • Handful of arugula or other greens
      • Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil
      • Pre heat over to 375
      • Peel, chop and cube the butternut squash and carrots
      • Finely dice the onion
      • Toss the onion, carrots and squash with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, 5-6 torn sage leaves, salt and pepper
      • Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes until tender
      • Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa as instructed
      • When the quinoa is finished, toss with 1/2-1 tablespoon of olive oil to break it up
      • After the veggies are roasted, mix the quinoa, veggies, washed greens and goat cheese to coat
      • Serve!
      About Quinoa
      Quinoa is a super food.  High in protein, gluten free and rich in 8 essential amino acids like lysine, Quinoa really is the ultimate grain.  It's also delicious.

      Tuesday, October 4, 2011

      Ina Garten's Apple & Pear Crisp

      I've loved the Food Network since it's early 90's debut.  Like any good East Ender with a passion for cooking, that means I adore the one and only Ina Garten, a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa.

      Shopping at the Montauk fish monger one year, I saw her filming a segment.  Ohhhhh did that tickle my fancy!  We watched two takes, where Ina "asked" about the difference between types of scallops for the benefit of us viewers, and then I obsessively DVR-ed until I saw "our" episode air. (See how I did that, I made something about Ina mine!). In the episode, she and Jeffrey enjoyed sandwiches on the Montauk docks, OUR Montauk dock, and I ate it up.

      This years crisp CSA apples have been a favorite in my household, and the delivery of pears last week had me looking no further than Ina for a perfect fall dessert.

      Apple & Pear Crisp    
      Courtesy of Ina Garten & The Food Network

      Ingredients (Base)
      • 2 pounds / 4 ripe pears
      • 2 pounds / 6 firm apples
      • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
      • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
      • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
      • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • 1/3 cup of agave syrup or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
      • 1/4 cup whole wheat or (white) all purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
       Ingredients (Toppings)
      • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat or (white) all purpose flour
      • 1/2 cup of agave syrup or 3/4 cup granulated sugar
      • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
      • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
      • 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
        • Note: The recipe calls for 2 sticks, but I used one and was happy with the end result
      • Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt 

      • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
      • Peel, core, and cut the pears and apples into chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and mix in the zests, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
        • Note: Out of nutmeg, I used ground ginger instead
      • Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish.
      • For the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. If you don't have a mixer (like I don't at the Montauk house), mix and chop the ingredients together by hand with a knife until the butter breaks up. 
      • Sprinkle evenly over the fruit base, covering the fruit completely.
      • Place the dish on a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. 
      • Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.  

        This October is #AppleLove recipe month, led by The Spicy RD.  Check it out on Twitter with the hash tag or here!
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