Saturday, September 29, 2012


Our garden has been amazing this summer. One of my treats is being able to walk through it as I look for inspiration for dinner. We have plenty of tomatoes and lettuce for a side but I was looking for a main course. Our Poblano chili plants have done well this year. We have made chili rellenos, grilled them and used them in fajitas. I was looking at the Poblano plant with bright green peppers hanging from it and I thought about Rajas con Crema, translated means slices with cream. Something I haven't had in years. Rajas are sliced roasted Poblano peppers, sliced roasted onions, then simmered in cream and cheese. I used the recipe below as a guide but I spotted a small zucchini growing and added that. I also added one serrano for a little heat. I used 1/2 and 1/2 for the cream and Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggio-a blend of Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina, and Provolone. This was one of the best tacos ever and the zucchini added a nice crunch.

When shopping for Poblano peppers don't get confused. Many times markets mislabel them as Pasilla chilies.

These are Poblano peppers. When dried they are called ancho peppers.

These are Pasilla chiles. It is the dried form of a long and narrow pepper called a chilaca.


2 pounds fresh large poblano chiles
      1 onion, quartered, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
3/4 cup crème fraîche, sour cream, or 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or white cheese blend
Kosher salt 
Artisanal Corn Tortillas

Preheat broiler, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. If broiling, place chilies on a rimmed baking sheet. If grilling, put chilies directly on grill grate. Roast, turning occasionally, until tender and nicely charred all over, 15–20 minutes.

Transfer chilies to a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 15 minutes. Peel chilies. Halve lengthwise; discard seeds. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.

Heat a large dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until beginning to char, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add oregano and 1 cup water; simmer until onion is tender and water has evaporated, 5–7 minutes.
Add chilies; cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes. 

Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche and cheese. Add water by table-spoonfuls if mixture is too dry. 

Season to taste with salt.

Serve inside warm corn tortillas.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


This weeks Food Matters Project recipe was hosted by Gracie of Food Fascination. Gracie chose Mark Bittman's recipe for Whole Cauliflower with Sausage. That recipe inspired me to roast a cauliflower "steak" and top it with a spicy shrimp and sausage sauce.

Cauliflower steaks are great on their own or as a base for a sauce. You cut the cauliflower straight down into 1" steaks. Coat with olive oil and roast at 400~ for about 25 minutes. I sprinkled blackening spices on mine before roasting.

Fresh andouille sausage is browned with bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Tomatoes and shrimp are added and it is topped with a hot pepper cream sauce. This was a delicious, light and healthy tasting meal.


1/3 cup green hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 cup ½ and ½ or whipping cream

1 TBSP. olive oil
8 ounces fresh andouille sausage, casings removed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup minced onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
30 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 head cauliflower, sliced into steaks
1 TBSP. Cajun seasoning
Olive oil

Combine hot pepper sauce, wine, shallot, lemon juice and vinegar in heavy medium saucepan. Boil over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup ½ and ½ or cream. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Slice cauliflower into 1” steaks. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Roast at 400~ until tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, both bell peppers, onion and garlic; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add shrimp, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning and Old Bay seasoning and sauté until shrimp are opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring hot pepper-cream sauce to simmer. Place cauliflower steak on a plate and spoon shrimp mixture over. Drizzle hot pepper-cream sauce and serve.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Monday, September 17, 2012


It's Monday and that usually means I have cooked a recipe from Mark Bittman's Cookbook for The Food Matters Project. This week Jen from Prarie Summers was our host and she picked Bittman's recipe for Apricot Polenta Cake. I don't bake much and we don't eat a lot of dessert so my first idea was to use the polenta for inspiration and make something savory. I was looking around the garden thinking about what I could use in the dish and then I came across our Meyer lemon tree which has been bearing fruit all year. The lemons are really ripe and juicy right now and I decided that they should go in my cake and yes, I'll make it on the sweet side.

I used a recipe from Nigella Lawson and substituted Meyer Lemons for regular lemons. This cake was amazing! My husband thought it needed a little something extra so he candied some lemon and orange slices for garnish.

It really did add to the presentation. The cake was so moist and flavorful. The only change I would make would be to use a finer grind of corn meal. I used regular corn meal and ground it again in my spice grinder but it was a little crunchy. I think I need to find a finer grind or do as Bittman's recipe called for and cook it first.

This was so good that I'm in a hurry to eat it so I can make it again with the changes. You can find the original recipe on Jen's blog here. For the other Food Project Members take on this recipe click here.


  • 1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups almond meal/flour
  • 3/4 cup fine polenta/cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest of 2 Meyer lemons (save the juice for the syrup)
  • Juice from  2 Meyer lemons (see above)
  • Heaping 1 cup confectioners' sugar

 1 (9-inch) springform  pan

For the cake: Line the base of your cake pan with parchment paper and grease its sides lightly with butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.

Mix together the almond meal, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.

Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its pan.

For the syrup: Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar in a smallish saucepan. Once the confectioners' sugar has dissolved into the juice, you're done. Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its pan.

Make Ahead Note: The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead and stored in airtight container in a cool place. Will keep for total of 5 to 6 days.

Freeze Note: The cake can be frozen on its lining paper as soon as cooled, wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson