Spicy Scalloped Potatoes.

There is no photo to accompany this post because, well, this was not an attractive recipe. My shoddy photography skills would have made it even worse.  And since these turned out to be really delicious, I don’t want to scare you off with a hideous photo.

At the age of 39, I realized that I have never made scalloped potatoes. I skimmed through a bunch of recipes, settled on one that didn’t sound bland, and decided to make it – with a few changes along the way.

This came out delightfully spicy (which I like!) but you may want to adjust your ingredients to make it more, or less, spicy. If you don’t like any spice whatsoever, well, you may want to look for a different recipe.

Spicy Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp  all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups warm milk
2 cup shredded habanero cheese (or other spicy, melty cheese!)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 lb white potatoes
2 cups chunky salsa (hot!)
1/2 cup drained pickled or marinated jalapeno pepper slices (like Cowgirl Candy!)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in the warm milk and continue whisking constantly for 3 to 5 minutes – or until beginning to boil and thicken. Add more flour, slowly, if needed to thicken.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cheese, salt, oregano, cumin and pepper. Set the pot aside for a bit.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  5. Peel and thinly slice potatoes. Use a mandoline if you’re afraid of losing a finger.
  6. Arrange about one third of the slices into a thin layer in the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish.
  7. Spread half of the salsa on top of the potatoes.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6, making happy potato and salsa layers, then layer the remaining potato slices on top.
  9. Pour the cheese sauce over top to cover evenly and reach the sides and bottom of dish.
  10. Sprinkle with jalapeno pepper slices.
  11. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes or until lightly browned. The potatoes should be tender.
  12. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes:

You can make this more, or less, spicy by choosing cheeses and salsas that are more or less spicy. You can also skip the jalapeno slices on top for less kick. I have no idea why you would want to make it LESS spicy, but, hey, it’s your dinner.

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Kimchi.

Kimchi!

Kimchi!

While my sauerkraut is bubblin’ in the jar, I figured I would try something a bit fancier – kimchi. The concept is exactly the same: chop stuff and ferment it. The difference is that kimchi includes spices and seasonings. This big jar will need to sit around for about a week before I taste it – by which time it should be really stinky and (hopefully) good.

I started out shopping at the “Asian Superstore” in my city – where I promptly ran into difficulty with my lack of non-English reading skills. Specifically, I was looking for the gochugaru by trying to compare a google image of the word (in Korean) with various packages. And that store had hundreds of packages that could have been what I wanted. The store was busy enough that I literally couldn’t find anyone to help me – so I grabbed what looked approximately correct… and them promptly worried that I was going to create a disaster in my jar.

When I posted my dilemma on Facebook, my friend Melle recommended a local store at which I was able to pick up the authentic ingredients; there are plenty of recipe variations out there, though, if you don’t have a local Korean shop.  In this case, the lovely woman working at the store was also able to grab some napa cabbage for me from the secret stash in the back – and gave me some advice on ingredients. Awesome.

Anyway. I’ll report back in a week or so as to how things turned out – in the meantime, here’s the recipe.

Kimchi

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup salt (kosher – no additives)
  • 8 ounces Korean radish (“mu”), peeled and cut into 2-inch strips
  • 4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces (include the green part)
  • 1/3 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 1/4 cup minced ginger (peeled)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoons Korean salted shrimp, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

 

Directions:

  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut out the core. Chop the cabbage into 2″-sized chunks and place in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage and use your hands to work it in – crunching things up a bit as you go. Pour cold water over the cabbage, set aside, and let it soak overnight. Cover it with a clean dish towel or saran wrap to keep lint from getting in.
  3. The next day, rinse the cabbage with cold water. The leaves will have softened! Yay! Drain it well, squish out as much water as you can, and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all the other ingredients. To prevent staining (and hot pepper burning) wear gloves – I used nitrile gloves, but you can use latex or whatever’s handy as long as they’re clean.
  5. When everything is happily mixed, add the cabbage. Use your hands to squish it all together more – get everything well-coated and happily melded together.
  6. Pack it all into a 1.5 liter glass jar. Make sure it’s pressed down firmly.
  7. Put your stopper and airlock onto the jar, fill the airlock with water (see note), and set aside for a week.
  8. Ta-da! Kimchi!

 

Notes:

The hardest part of this recipe is all the chopping and mincing and whatnot. I totally ‘get’ why someone would make a triple batch to put off having to do it again soon. If this turns out well, and if I try to make another batch, I’ll at least double it.

In recent emails with Geoff, from Canuck Homebrew Supply, I have learnt that water is not the most ideal thing to put into your air lock. There are some special products available (food safe) or you can use vodka! And who doesn’t love the idea of needing to buy vodka for healthy purposes? Not me, that’s for sure.  You CAN use water, and I’d say it’s especially okay for a short-term ferment, but I am not a scientist and I do not play one on TV either. So.. yeah.

The original recipe that I found for this required 1/4 cup of fish sauce. I couldn’t bring myself to use that much. Time will tell whether I regret that or not. I feel pretty sure that I won’t. If you decide to use that much fish sauce, you should also increase your salted shrimp to 2 teaspoons because I also decreased that quantity because…

Salted shrimp are possibly one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen, let alone put into a recipe, but people seem to swear by them so .. they’re in there. I will try not to think about their beady little eyes when I’m eating the kimchi later.

And, finally, if you can’t find any regular mouthed 1.5L jars (I used wide-mouth because I already had some) you can make an adapter for your #13 stopper using a yogurt lid. Yes, for real. Here’s the instructions for that. I made my inner circle the size of the stopper, rather than a smaller jar lid, and it worked beeee-yooo-tifully. At least, so far.

Skillet Cornbread.

Buttery!

Buttery!

My husband loves cornbread. I don’t have any objections to it – it’s usually sweet and buttery, and I’m good with that – but I don’t seek it out or get excited by the idea of it.

Having recently acquired a 10″ cast iron skillet, I decided that my first recipe would be cornbread. It was easy to make, it turned out wonderfully, and I ate several pieces. More than my husband. Next time I’ll add some minced jalapenos!

Here’s the recipe:

Skillet Cornbread

Makes one lovely round 10″ loaf of cornbread (see notes)

1 1/4 cups ground cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup of unsalted butter (melted)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.  Put the cast iron skillet into the oven to heat while you’re preparing the batter.
  2. Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together. Stir in the milk, buttermilk, and eggs.
  3. Add almost all of the melted butter, stirring. Save about a tablespoon of melted butter for slickin’ up the skillet later!
  4. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and drop the oven temperature to 375F.
  5. Coat the bottom and sides of the skillet with the remaining melted butter. Use a basting brush to coat the sides.
  6. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake in the centre of the oven for about 17 minutes.  (See notes)
  7. The cornbread is done with the centre is firm and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Notes:
You could make this in a larger, or smaller, skillet – for a smaller skillet, add time. For a larger skillet, decrease time. Just keep an eye on it!

Spinach Quiche Casserole.

In theory, this could have been a healthy meal – after all, it does contain plenty of spinach and a few eggs. But no, this is not a healthy dinner.

It is, however, very tasty.

Like many foods that taste really, really good, this does not look remotely appealing in photographs. I strongly suggest that you overlook that fault and make it anyway.

Spinach! Cheese! Mmmm!

Spinach! Cheese! Mmmm!

Spinach Quiche Casserole

See the picture above? This recipe made 8 servings that size. 

Ingredients:
2 blocks of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
500 ml container of cottage cheese (2% or higher)
1 1/2 cups of cubed old cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of butter, cut into about 12 chunks
3 tablespoons of flour
salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a bowl, mix the spinach, cottage cheese, old cheddar cheese, eggs, flour, salt and pepper, and half of the butter chunks.
  3. Pour into a glass casserole dish.
  4. Top with the remaining chunks of butter, randomly.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is slightly crisp and everything is gooey and melty.

Notes:
No need to grease the casserole dish ahead of time, trust me. We didn’t use salt or pepper – this turned out perfectly tasty. It is not health-food – it’s full of melted cheese.  I like to think that it’s possible for the huge amount of spinach to somehow negate the melted cheese – but I’m not a scientist.  This should probably be a side-dish but man, we just ATE IT.

Super Easy Sweet Pea Salad.

I have been known to eat an entire can of peas, drained and lightly rinsed, in place of an actual meal. I love snowpeas and sugar snap peas. I like peas that are cold and I like peas that are warm.

It surprises no one, then, that I really enjoyed eating this pea salad.

20131126_194029

Mmmmm.. pea salad!

The recipe for this is similar to one that my mother used to make – but hers involved broccoli and raisins and cider vinegar and red onions. This one is much lighter tasting and didn’t involve chopping broccoli. I hate chopping broccoli.

Super Easy Sweet Pea Salad

Ingredients:
20 oz. frozen peas, thawed, rinsed, and drained
1 cup of craisins
1 cup of unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
1/2 cup of crumbled bacon (I cheated and used pre-cooked and pre-crumbled from Costco)
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of white sugar
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, sugar, pepper, worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine peas, craisings, peanuts, green onions, and bacon.
  3. Pour the mayo mixture over the pea mixture. Stir to coat.
  4. Put it in the fridge for at least an hour, but preferably a few hours (to let flavours combine).
  5. Eat it. Exclaim about how it tastes SO GOOD.