Away from the restaurants

July 30, 2009

. . . into the kitchen.

Sadly, I have a hard time affording the foodie life, I wish I had a foodie friend around here that liked to cook as much as I do so we could trade off. But that is all the more reason to explore food at my home with and for my friends, right?  I frequently describe cooking as a meditative experience anyway. Too bad the dishes afterward tend to ruin my calm.

While my jealously of people who can stare into their fridge and know what dishes are for dinner grows, so does my brain’s recipe database with the eventuality of being able to do the same. As I stated previously, two of my goals are to increase my vegetarian recipe repertoire and to gain some more accurate knowledge of Mexican cuisine (you know, beyond Taco Hell). So I worked up some recipes from James Peterson’s Cooking: tomatillo sauce and chiles rellenos.

Chiles Relenos on Tomatillo Salsa from Peterson's Cooking

Chiles Relenos on Tomatillo Salsa from Peterson's Cooking

I have a thing for tomatillos. Me and the tomatillo . . . we know how to get along. I love their combination of tomato and lime flavors. Their citrus is so blatant, but when you cook them, they calm down and just add and take on flavors. Mmm. The sauce also had poblanos and jalapenos which made it pair well with the chiles rellenos.

Man were these a production. Peterson has the cook put some cream of tartar in with the egg whites while you whip them to a fluff (without a beater I do all this by hand), then slowly fold the yolk back in. After you have roasted, peeled and stuffed the poblanos with chevre you toss them in flour and roll them in the eggs. I’m guessing this is to keep the egg lighter on the outside of the poblano, but for how much work it is without a mixer I think it might be worth it to just roll the floured peppers in beat eggs and then fry them. Placing a bed of the sauce on a plate you then set the fried peppers on top with some sour cream and serve.

While I forgot the sour cream my guests both thought the dish was good if a bit spicy (though they both admitted to being Spice Sallys). The chevre inside the peppers was perfect with the tomatillo sauce, but I think if their had been a bit more cheese (definitely if I had not forgotten the sour cream) I would not have had any spice complaints.

For desert I made a passover napoleon. My other region of interest in Mediterranean, especially Israel/Lebanon. Some have expressed that my obsession with Israel in food and religion is a little odd, I shrug my shoulders. But the reason this is a passover napoleon is that it is made with matzos because during passover, observant Jews are disallowed leaven, or yeast.

I cannot say that I know tradition napoleons well, and perhaps I should know the real thing before I adventure outward, but you should have seen the picture in the book, haha. I set out to make it. After soaking the Matzos I fried them (making some of them curl up and hard to work with) and candied them. The candy coating was simply caramelized sugar with coconut milk added. Letting them sit for some time in the fridge, I made something like a custard of coconut milk, sugar, egg yolk, and rosewater. With all that finished I sliced some strawberries in half and got to work on the delicate assembling procedure, topping it all off with some powdered sugar. It was very good, though the rosewater did not really come through and I think I needed to wait for the filling to thicken a bit more.

Passover Napoleon from New Israeli Food book

As always, if I make anything a reader would like a recipe for, just ask.  I wouldust rather talk about the process of making, eating, and the flavor than type all the technicalities in my posts.


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