St. Paddy’s Day Feast

 Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Anyone who knows me, knows that St. Patrick's Day is my favorite holiday! I am not much of a beer drinker, but am a huge fan of Guinness. I especially love a shot called the Irish Car Bombs, which consisits of Guinness, Bailey's Irish Cream and Jameson Irish Whiskey. We always get together with family and friends to have a St. Patrick's Day feast. If someone were to ask me what I would want my last meal to be, this would be it! Seriously! Maybe it's because I never had corned beef growing up and the first time I had it was five years ago. Our feast usually consists of some staples, like the corned beef, horseradish cream, irish soda bread and honey butter, my infamous Irish car bomb cupcakes and of course lots of Guinness.  Mr. Pea and I have tried to corn our own beef brisket before, but if you ask me it isn't worth the effort! There are two places in Milwaukee that I would recommend  to get corned beef,  If you are going to make it yoursef then go to Ray's Butcher Shoppe on the south side of Milwaukee, if you want to avoid the hassle and have someone else do the cooking then I suggest Benji's Deli. Benji's Deli is the the best Jewish Deli in Milwaukee hands down, and you know how I feel about my Jewish Deli's- love them, best food ever if you ask me. One of the reasons I love them so much is that they make a corned beef sandwhich, called the Gonzo, which is basically a Rueben minus the saurkraut (and I absolutely hate saurkraut). So this year, since St. Patrick's Day landed on a Monday, we decided to pick up some corned beef  and rye bread and make our own Gonzo Paninis (isn't every sandwhich better as a panini???).

Well, cheers everyone and enjoy some of these delicious recipes!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

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Ingredients:
3 Pound(s) corned in brine beef brisket
2 bay leaves
2 Teaspoon(s) black peppercorns
4 whole berries allspice
2 whole cloves
2 Pound(s) (1/2 head cut into 8 pcs) green cabbage
1 1/4 Pound(s) (8 small) halved red potato
6 peeled quartered carrot
1 quartered yellow onion

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the corned beef in a colander in the sink and rinse well under cold running water.

Place the corned beef in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, add water/beer to cover plus one inch, bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and onions. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Cover and transfer pan to the oven, and braise until very tender, about 3 hours and 45 minutes.

If there is room in the pot, parboil the potatoes and carrots, then add the potatoes, carrots and cabbage to the pot in the last 20 minutes of cooking.

OR

Transfer the corned beef to a cutting board and cover tightly with foil to keep warm. Add the cabbage, carrots and potatoes to the cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a large platter. Slice the corned beef across the grain of the meat into thin slices. Lay the slices over the cabbage and surround it with the potatoes. Ladle some of the hot cooking liquid over the corned beef and season with pepper. Serve immediately with the mustard or horseradish sauce.

Horseradish Sauce:

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons jarred grated horseradish (with liquid)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, zest, and 2 teaspoons salt. Season generously with pepper to taste. Refrigerate the horseradish sauce for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

Gonzo Paninis

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Ingredients:

 Corned Beef, sliced thick (1/8 lb)

1 Tablespoon Thousand Island dressing

1/4 Cup of Coleslaw

A piece of Swiss Cheese

Rye Bread (Miller's Marble Rye is my favorite)

Place ingredients in between two slices of Rye bread and heat on panini press for 3 minutes.


So I have definitely been in a pie mood lately, I blame Mr. Pea  for getting me the pie plate and cookbook for Christmas. So for dessert this year, instead of the old dstand by Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, I turned those cupcakes into a pie. I made a Guiness Chocolate Silk Pie with Bailey's Irish Cream Whipped Cream- yup I went there, just when you though cupcakes were boozy, they have nothing on this pie.

Guinness Chocolate Silk Pie with Bailey's Whipped Cream

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Crust:

2 Cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Crisco

5 tablespoons ice cold water (may need more,  it shouldn't be dry and it shouldn't be wet- it should hold together nicely)

1/2 cup heavy cream (just to brish onto the surface, you won't need all of it.

Add all ingredients to a bowl, except for the water and use pastry blender or your fingers. Add the ice cold water little by little  you may need a little more, just don't add too much and don't overhandle the dough,  it should come together and then wrap it up in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 1 hour before rolling it out.

Roll out and place in pie plate, brush with heavy cream and cook in oven at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes it should be a golden brown color.

 

Filling:

3/4 Cup of sugar

3 1/2 tablepoons cornstarch

1/8 tsp. salt

2 1/2 Cups whole milk

4 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate

1 Cup Guinness Stout

In a mediaum saucepan whick together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the milk, Guinness and egg yolks until they are combined. Place the mixture over medium-low heat, constantly whisking and scraping the sides of the pan. When the cream begins to bubble and thicken add in 1 tablespoon of the butter at a time, when butter is mixed in add the vanilla. Finally, add the chopped chocolate a little at a time, to give each batch a chance to melt into the filling. Keep the mixture over the heat until the chocolate is smoothly  melted and the cream thickens. Pour into Pie shell and place in fridge, make sure completely cool before adding the whipped cream topping. Also, it is best to leave n the fridge over night to set up before adding the whipped topping.

Bailey's Whipped Cream Topping:

2 Cups Heavy Cream

1/4 Cup confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-5 tablepoons of Bailey's Irish Cream (depends on how boozy you want it)

Place mixing bowl in freezer for 15 minutes prior to mixing. Add heavy cream and mix in a stand mixer on medium-high until thickens, add the sugar and let it incorporate and thicken more. Then add the vanilla and as much Bailey's Irish Cream as you desire (I think 3-5 Tablespoons is enough).

Enjoy and Happy St. Paddy's Day from Mr. and Mrs. Pea!

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Beef Slow Cooker Chili

Chili is a must this time of year, especially with the frigid cold temperatures we will be having the next few days. I feel like I hear the weatherman say -25 to -60 degrees, but I think to myself "that can't possibly be true, can it?", I guess I am in denial. Let us file this one under "Wisconsin problems".  Anyway, I will do what every other sane Wisconsonite does when it is this bitter cold, hibernate and drink these frigid temperatures away.

This is actually the chili we make for most Packer games, it is kind of festive with the green and gold toppings, too bad the Packers blew it  in the last quarter of the first playoff game (figures), otherwise this would be known as "Packer Victory Chili". We made chili a couple years ago when the Packers won the Superbowl, so ever since it has been kind of the good luck chili, not that I believe in superstitions. Alright, enough about  the weather and sports, and more about this delicious chili recipe.

There are a couple of different chili recipes we make, from a vegetarian version that comes completely from cans to a version made with rehydrated ancho chilies and pinto beans in a dutch oven but  this one is definitely the easiest to make for a crowd- got to love slow cookers!

The recipe is a bit of a hybrid, with all the flavor of slow cooked chunks of tender beef, beans, with a deep complexity and richness, but a bit less fussy. If you have access to Penzey’s spices, use the Arizona Dreaming spice blend over a regular chili powder as it will add more flavor. This chili is not spicy but it has a bit of a kick, so if you like it spicier, I would add more cayenne near the end of cooking or serve with a Mexican hot sauce such as Valentina or Tapatio.

This recipe has a great depth of flavor, almost like a mexican mole which just keeps getting better with every bite you take.  I don't even think you need very many toppings, but like I said I am from Wisconsin, I live in the land of cheese.

Well I hope you enjoy and stay warm!

Beef Slow Cooker Chili

Beef Slow Cooker Chili

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbs Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming or other chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes in juices
  • 1 14oz can of black beans with liquid
  • 1 14oz can red beans, drained
  • 1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips
  • 1 1/2 tbs masa harina (corn flour, not cornstarch)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seemed, deveined and chopped
  • Salt, pepper and vegetable oil
  • Grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro leaves and broken tortilla chips for toppings

Procedure

  1. Combine the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, oregano, and brown sugar in a small bowl and aside.
  2. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 1 tbs vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and working in batches, brown the beef on all sides, adding more oil if necessary, then transfer it to the insert of a slow cooker, leaving as much oil in the skillet as possible.
  4. Add the onions to the skillet, season with salt and sauté until they soften, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and spice mixture and cook for 1 minute longer.  Pour in the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the chocolate, masa harina, and a big pinch of salt and cook for 1 minute longer.
  6. Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker along with the drained red beans, black beans and their juices. Stir to combine.
  7. Cook on high for 4-5 hours (depending on the size of the slow cooker), until the meat is very tender.
  8. Serve chili in bowls topped with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro leaves and broken tortilla chips.

Indian Cuisine-Tiki Masala

Hi All!

I know I haven't been the best about keeping up with this blog as much as I had hoped to, life sort of got in the way, or at least that has been my excuse.Well, NO MORE EXCUSES! There have been some changes to this blog, first it is now called The Sweet Pea Kitchen and second Mr. Pea is going to join the fun. When Mr. Pea and I talked about collaborating for this blog, I thought it was a wonderful idea! With his AMAZING cocktails, my baking skills and our awesome recipes we make and create how could you go wrong. This blog will more or less, be a way to share all of the deliciousness that comes out of our kitchen, the Sweet Pea Kitchen. 

With the cooking season upon us, I wanted to share what has been going on in the Sweet Pea Kitchen. Well, it goes without saying that there has been a lot of fall baking going on in my kitchen! Fall is my favorite season, maybe it is the chill in the air, the beautiful fall foliage, apple cider and everything pumpkin! Really, I love fall most of all because I  will take any excuse to bake. Baking relaxes me, it is my therapy-don't judge, you should try it!  Well I will share all of  the fall recipes coming out of our kitchen in posts to come, but to catch you up with what has been coming out of our kitchen lately. I though t a good place to start would be  our new found love for Indian cusine.

To be honest, I have never had Indian food in my life! It's not that I never wanted to try it, I just had a misconception that everything was spicy so I never gave it a chance. This is true that Indian food is spicy, but  it isn't always spicy as in hot, it is more spicy as in flavorful. Indian cuisine  uses many different spices that make everything taste so delicious, some of the main spices are Fenugreek, Cardamom,Turmeric,Corriander, Cumin, Ginger, Nutmeg, Fennel, Cinnamon,Cloves, and Cayenne Pepper.

One of my favorite dishes we make is called Tiki Masala.

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Tikka Masala (Butter Chicken)

Serves: 2-4

  • 2 Cups boneless/skinless chicken breast chunks (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 TB. plain yogurt
  • 11/2 TB. minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. POWDERED GINGER)
  • 11/2 TB. minced fresh garlic (or 1 tsp. PENZEYS MINCED GARLIC)
  • 1 TB. GARAM MASALA or SWEET CURRY POWDER
  • 1 TB. TANDOORI SEASONING
  • 11/2 tsp. GROUND CUMIN
  • 2 TB. lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 TB. vegetable oil
  • 4 tomatoes, diced (or 1 Cup canned tomato puree/sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp. PENZEYS FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
  • 4 TB. cream (half & half or whole milk work too)
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 1 TB. cashew nut paste (grind 1 TB. cashews with 1 tsp. water in a blender)
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, yogurt, GINGER, GARLIC, GARAM MASALA or SWEET CURRY POWDER, TANDOORI SEASONING, CUMIN and lemon juice. Mix to combine. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy pan. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until the meat is white and almost cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and mix well. Add the PEPPER, cream, water and cashew nut paste. Reduce heat to low and cook until the chicken is tender, 5-7 minutes. Stir until the sauce thickens. Add the butter and salt and mix well. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired and serve with Cumin Rice.

Enjoy!

 

Steak Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas

So  with Mr. Pea’s obsession with Mexican cuisine  we  eat a lot of tacos in our house, one of my favorite tacos he makes are his steak tacos.  I think I like his steak tacos even more when I make my homemade corn tortillas.  I think the  homemade corn tortillas have a better texture then the ones that  are in the packages in the stores, I don’t make homemade ones every time, but when I do  it makes it even better. As for the steak in a steak tacos , there is only one way to make them  that they are melt in your mouth delicious and that is  medium rare, so all you well done people out there  you might want to skip this recipe it is not for you. With steak tacos  it is all about the marinade,  you don’t use the best cut of meat for steak tacos, you use skirt steak  and  it needs a bit of flavor to make it delicious.

Chipolte Steak Sauce:

Ingredients:
1 Can(s) 14oz with juices diced tomatoes
3 Clove(s) peeled, halved garlic
3 chipotle chiles en adobo
1/2 Teaspoon(s) mexican oregano
2 Tablespoon(s) apple cider vinegar

Directions:
In a food processor or blender, combine, the tomatoes, garlic, chiles, oregano and vinegar. Process until smooth. Pour into a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in water, if necessary, to give the sauce the consistency of steak sauce. Taste and season highly with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cool, pour into a bottle and refrigerate until needed.

Place skirt Steak in dis, drizzle with olive oil (2 tablespoons) and then  and spoon marinade over the steak, let marinade for 1  hour.

While the steak is marinading  it is a good time to start making your corn tortillas.

How to make Corn Tortillas:

Corn Tortillas

Makes 15 tortillas

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups powdered Masa harina for tortillas (Maseca brand is widely available)
OR  1 pound fresh-ground masa

Directions

1.  Mix dough.  If using powdered masa harina, measure into bowl and add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot tap water.  Mix with hand, kneading until thoroughly combined. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.  If using fresh masa, scoop into bowl.  Break up and knead a few times until smooth.

2.  Heat griddle or skillets.  Set large griddle (one that stretches of 2 burners) or 2 skillets on stovetop.  Set heat under one end of griddle (or one skillet) at medium.  Set heat under other end (or other skillet) at medium-high.

3.  Adjust consistency of dough.  Gently squeeze dough.  If it is stiff (it probably will be), knead in water 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time until the dough feels like soft cookie dough—not stiff, but not sticky.  Divide evenly into 15 pieces and roll each into a ball.  Cover with plastic.

4.  Press out dough balls.  Cut 2 pieces of plastic bag 1-inch larger than tortilla press.  Open press. Lay in one piece of plastic.  Lay dough ball in center.  Gently mash.  Top with second piece of plastic.  Close press.  Press gently—enough to mash dough into 1/8-inch disc. Pull off top piece of plastic.

5.  Unmold uncooked tortilla.  Flip tortilla onto right hand (if right-handed). IMPORTANT: top of tortilla should line up with top of index finger.  Lay on medium-hot griddle (or skillet) by letting bottom of tortilla touch griddle, then lowering your hand slightly and moving it away from you—the tortilla will stick to the hot surface so you can roll your hand out from under it as it rolls down flat.

6.  First flip.  After about 30 seconds, edges of tortilla will dry slightly and tortilla will release from griddle—before this moment, tortilla will be stuck. With metal spatula (or callused fingers), flip onto hotter side of griddle (or hotter skillet).

7.  Second flip.  After about 30 seconds, tortilla should be browned underneath.  Flip.  Cook 30 seconds more—tortilla should puff in places (or all over—a gentle press with metal spatula or fingers encourages puffing).  Transfer to basket lined with towel.

8.  Continue.  Press and bake remaining tortillas.  Stack each baked tortilla on previous one. Keep tortillas well wrapped in towel to keep warm.

***We keep our in this baking dish covered with foil in the oven on warm until ready to serve

Now it is time to cook the steak, and it doesn’t take long at all to cook it.

Cooking the Steak:

 Before you star cooking make sure you trim the fat off the skirt steak before cooking. Heat cast iron skillet medium high. Since the marinade already has oil in it no need to add oil to the pan. Let it cook on the one side for 5-7 minutes and then flip over the steak and cook it for 5-7 more minute.  Let it sit covered in foil  for 5 minutes to let it rest (this is an important step), and then  cut it into thin slices or chunks whatever you prefer.

then  you are ready to assemble your steak taco. There are many toppings for steak tacos,   but  the traditional ingredients for a  steak taco are chopped white onion and cilantro, I add avocado and hot  sauce  for some extra flavor.

Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

So I think it is no secret by now that Mr. Pea loves Mexican food.  So  do you think it was any question that we had to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the best way possible, a Mexican fiesta of course!  We have been planning this for a while, and have been really excited to share our cooking skills with our friends.  The fiesta was a blast we had so much fun and the food turned out great! I think we will definitely have to have  another fiesta next year!

The first thing I want to talk about is the tequila we had, it is called Clase Azul and is the best tequila I have ever had! Mr. Pea brought this bottle  back  from Arizona were it is the only place we have found they sell it in the US. They come in hand painted bottles  and each bottle is unique to its own.  I am surprised  that  this bottle has lasted this long, you would  think that too if  you knew  how much Mr. Pea and I love tequila.  We agreed  when we got it though that we would only drink it on special occasions.  But don’t  put this in your margaritas, this is the kind of tequila that  you sip on and enjoy on the rocks, because it is that good.  For making margaritas  make sure you use any kind of clear 100% agave tequila, we used Camarena tequila. As for shots,  I wouldn’t use  the Camarena, I would  suggest using patron or a bottle of 1800.

Tequila

So we started off  with some chips, salsa, guacamole and Ben’s signature Margaritas.  We  made two different kind of salsas, the first one was the tomatillo salsa that  I have shared the recipe for in an earlier post. The second was a  Chipolte  salsa  that was so good that I blinked and it was gone, so unfortunately have no photo of it, but no worries I  will share the recipe.

Mr.Pea’s Signature Margaritas

Ingredients:

(serves 4)
3/4 Cup(s) juice (3 large limes) lime
6 Tablespoon(s) sugar
1 Cup(s) plus 2 tbs tequila blanco
1/4 Cup(s) cointreau
1 1/2 Cup(s) small ice cube

Directions:
Make limeade
Combine the lime juice, sugar and 1 cup water in a glass or plastic pitcher. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away (but no longer than 24 hours).

Finish and serve margaritas
Add the tequila and orange liqueur to the pitcher of limeade. Rub the rims of 6 martini glasses with a lime wedge, then dip them in a dish of coarse salt. In a large shaker, combine the half of the margarita mixture with half of the ice and shake 10 to 15 seconds, then strain into the prepared glasses. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Chipolte Salsa

Ingredients:

1 Can(s) 14oz with juices diced tomatoes

3 Clove(s) peeled, halved garlic

3 chipotle chiles en adobo

1/2 Teaspoon(s) mexican oregano

2 Tablespoon(s) apple cider vinegar

1 rehydrated Gaujillo chile (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes), stem and seed

1 rehydrated Ancho chile  (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes), stem and seed

* * Note: You can also  use the water used to rehydrate the chiles  to stir into the salsa  to reach the desired consistency.

Directions:

In a food processor or blender, combine, the tomatoes, garlic, chiles, oregano and vinegar. Process until smooth. Pour into a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in enough water to reach desired consistency. Taste and season highly with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cool, pour into a bottle and refrigerate until needed.

 ** Note: This recipe  can also be thinned out to use as a steak marinade or steak sauce. If used for this,  adding water more water is necessary, to give the sauce the consistency of steak sauce and/or marinade.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

-Frontera Guacamole Starter mix

-1 red onion

-lime juice (this is what keeps it green, not  the pit which most people think)

-cilantro

-4-5  ripe avacados ( The way  to tell if an avacado is ripe is to push with your thumb and if it is soft but not too soft then it it is perfect for making guacamole)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and mash with a potato masher  and enjoy!

We then  decided  to make two different tacos, we each decided to make one. I  decided to make a New Mexican Chicken Taco with Black Beans and a Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa. While Mr. Pea made a Chile Braised Pork Shoulder Taco with Pickled Red Onions.

New Mexican Chicken Taco with Black Beans and a Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa

Ingredients:

(serves 12)

-2 Packets of Rick Bayless’s Frontera  New Mexico Taco Skillet Sauce  (with roasted tomato and mild red chile)

– 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

– 2 teaspoons of chipolte seasoning ( I used Penzeys chipolte seasoning)

-1 cup of water

Put all the ingredients into a crockpot, give it a little stir to blend the seasoning with the skillet sauce and water. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours ( I think low and slow is always the better choice). When done, the chicken should shred easily when stirred with a fork and/or tongs. When done , to assemble taco heat taco shell in a cast iron skillet, spread a little bit of black beans , place the chicken on top of the beans and then top it off with the Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa.

Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa

2  oranges, segmented and chopped

1/2 cup of pineapple

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeno, chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

pinch of salt

**Note:  I usually make this salsa  with blood oranges instead of regular oranges, but they are no longer in season :(.  I usually  use this with fish tacos or even some grilled fish that we make, it makes a good topping for seafood!

Chile Braised Pork Shoulder with Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients:

(makes 20 tacos)

•    2 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
•    4 medium dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
•    1/3 cup Lime Juice
•    1/3 cup Orange Juice
•    1/3 cup Olive Oil
•    1 chipotle chile en adobo
•    1 jalepeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
•    2 bay leaves
•    2 tablespoons cider vinegar
•    1/2 small white onion, roughly chopped (plus a few thinly sliced rings for garnish)
•    3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
•    1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
•    1 teaspoon dried thyme
•    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
•    Pinch of ground cloves
•    1 1/2 tablespoon pork lard or bacon drippings
•    1/2 teaspoon table salt (plus more to taste)
•    3 pounds, boneless pork shoulder
•    Warm corn tortillas
•    Sour cream, hot sauce, pickled red onions, thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
•    Place the dried chiles in a small bowl, cover with very warm water and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving 2/3 cup of the soaking liquid, then transfer the rehydrated chiles and the reserved liquid to a blender.
•    Pulverize the bay leaves in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and add them to the blender along with the vinegar, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, jalepeno, allspice and cloves.  Process to a smooth puree, adding water if needed to keep the mixture moving through the blades.  Press through a medium mesh strainer into a bowl.
•    Set a large, 6-quart pot with a lid over medium-high heat and add the pork lard.  When very hot and almost smoking, pour in the puree and stir constantly until it sears, concentrates and darkens into a spicy-smelling paste, about 5 minutes.  Remove the pot from heat and season the sauce with salt.
•    Preheat the oven to 325°.  Cut the pork shoulder into slabs about 3-inches thick.  Lay the meat into the pot with the chile paste, then flip it over to cover evenly, spooning on more sauce over the top to coat the pork well.  Pour 1/2 cup water around the meat, cover tightly and place in the oven.  Roast for 2 1/2 hours, basting the meat every 30 minutes with the liquid and rendered fat that accumulates.  If all of the moisture evaporates, feel free to add more water to the plan to allow you to continue basting. Let the pork rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.
•    Shred or pull the meat apart into-bite size pieces using two forks.  Toss the meat to incorporate any of the leftover chile braising liquid, check for seasoning and add more salt to taste.
•    Place the chile pork in a warm bowl and serve alongside the warm corn tortillas.  Have your guests assemble their own tacos, adding their own garnishes to taste.

Pickled Red Onions
•    1 Red Onion, thinly sliced
•    ¼ tsp Pepper
•    ¼ tsp Cumin
•    ¼ tsp Mexican dried oregano
•    ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
•    ¼ tsp Salt
•    1/3 cup Cider vinegar
•    2 tbs Lime Juice

•    Blanch the onion slices in salted, boiling water for 45 seconds, then drain and place in a medium container.

•    Combine Lime juice, vinegar and remaining spices then pour over the onions. Add enough water to cover the onions, stir well.

•    Let stand for several hours until onions are bright pink. Covered and refrigerated, these onions will last several weeks.

We also made two side dishes Green Poblano Rice (Arroz Verde al Poblano) and Refried Black Beans.

Green Poblano Rice (Arroz Verde al Poblano)

Ingredients:

(makes 4 servings)

1 2/3 cups chicken broth or water

2 fresh poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed, and roughly chopped

12 sprigs cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon if using salted broth, 1 teaspoon if using unsalted or water

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

1 cup rice, preferably medium grain

1 small white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

 Directions:

-In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the broth and chiles, bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer gently over medium to medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the chiles are very soft. Pour the chile mixture into a food processor, add the cilantro (stems and all), and process to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl and stir in the salt.

-The rice: Wipe the pan clean, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the rice and onion, and cook, stirring regularly, until the rice is chalky looking and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.

-Add the warm (or reheated) chile liquid to the hot rice pan, stir once, scrape down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and check a grain of rice: It should be nearly cooked through. If the rice is just about ready, turn off the heat, re-cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes longer to complete the cooking. If the rice seems far from done, continue cooking for 5 minutes or so, retest, then turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes longer. Fluff with a fork, scoop into a warm serving dish, decorate with cilantro sprigs and it’s ready to serve.

Re-fried Black Beans

Ingredients:

-2-3 can of black beans

-1 tablespoon pork lard

-1 tablespoon Penzeys Arizona Dreming seasoning

Directions:

Heat on medium heat and mash with potato masher,  when beans are mashed  and  heated through, stir  and they are ready to serve.

And  we couldn’t leave dessert off the menu, it’s my favorite part (well the baking and decorating part!)

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Cupcakes-makes 24

 1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix 1 cup bottled strawberry margarita or daiquiri mix1/3 cup vegetable oil1/4 cup tequila3 egg whites or whole eggs Frosting1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar (4 cups)

2 teaspoons of heavy whipping cream

2 to 3 tablespoons bottled strawberry margarita or daiquiri mix

 Garnish

12 slices lime, each cut in half

 HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO EVERYONE! 🙂

Jambalaya

Jambalaya is one of New Orleans most celebrated dishes.  Mr. Pea loves spicy food and loves when it is jambalaya night in our house.  I myself,  am not  too fond of spicy food,  but I do love the delicious flavors  of a jambalaya, and can tolerate the heat in this dish.  Well, with all the cooking we do in our household, we like to have a few meals a week  that we call “budget friendly meals”. They are just that, meals on a budget, the goal is to spend around $5 for the both of us to eat. I guess I should say  meal and/or meals, because there are usually leftovers when you make Jambalaya.  So  I wanted to share  with you an easy way to make a delicious jambalaya on a budget, thanks to the help of Zatarains  and a couple of extra ingredients  that really help kick it up a notch.

Image

Jambalaya

Ingredients:

1 Family Size of Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 14oz can of diced tomatoes (liquid drained and reserved)

1 lb. of a smoked sausage, sliced

(1/2 Ib. of shrimp, cooked separately and mixed in at the end-optional)

3 3/4 cups liquid made up of tomato juice from drained can of diced tomatoes combined with chicken stock or water

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon cajun seasoning ( we use homemade, but you can use Emril’s Bayou Blast seasoning, Zatarains has their own cajun seasoning and  even Penzeys has a good cajun seasoning as well)

Instructions:

ImageStart with a pan and heat up oil and sausage, this will help render out some of the fat  to coat the vegetables with.

ImageAfter sausage is browned  add in the chopped onions until thy are translucent

ImageMix in the green pepper and then add the garlic until it is fragrant.

ImageAdd in the diced tomatoes

ImageAdd the liquid mixture and cajun seasoning

ImageBring to a boil

ImageAdd in Zatarain’s jambalaya rice and mix from package, bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes, stir and serve.