Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Butternut Squash and Chorizo Tostadas

I have made like 85 tostadas in the past 6 months. Which is a lot considering I had very few before then. I mean, who came up with that concept? And is it supposed to be impossible to eat? Should you pick it up and take a bite? Or are you supposed to be able to cut into it...because that is impossible.

I actually brought these leftovers to work. I packed the whole enchilada. Is that a saying? Does it mean like the whole package? Why? Enchiladas don't have that many components.

So, I packed the crunchy tortilla, the black bean mash, the roasted butternut squash, the sautéed chorizo AND the rest of the fixings: queso fresco, finely minced red onion and chopped cilantro. I packed them more or less separately and assembled on the desk. After I put together the "whole enchilada" I lifted up the tostada ready to take a huge bite and the secretary came in to deliver something. I literally had my mouth open and was milliseconds before biting down. Tostadas...not an office friendly meal. Not first date food. Not clean shirt food.

After some research, it appears tostadas were invented to use up stale tortillas. Alright. Whatever.

It may appear as though I don't like tostadas. But I actually really do. I just want to be alone when I am eating them.

PS: At some point over the past month I decided to cover the spot where I take my photos with a yellow and blue towel (e.g. in the above photo). It wasn't an artistic move. It didn't really have much thought behind it other than the fact that the current wood block is super ugly. I guess that is the definition of cosmetic. And now, a series of about 10 posts will have that towel in it. It is still there tonight. Consistent.

Butternut Squash and Chorizo Tostadas
slightly modified from Closet Cooking

4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 pound chorizo, casings removed, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (19 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
* water (optional)
12 small corn tortillas
1/4 cup red onions, diced
1/4 cup queso fresco (or feta), crumbled
1/4 cup cilantro

Toss the squash in the oil, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and salt, spread the mixture out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 400F oven until the squash tender and just starts to caramelize on the edges, about 30- 40 minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo, cook until browned, about 10 minutes and set aside retaining a tablespoon of leftover oil/grease in the pan.

Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beans, chili powder and cumin and cook until warm. Mash the beans until you get them to the consistency that you want. It helps to add water and simmer until it evaporates.

Brush the tortillas lightly in oil and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until golden brown and crispy, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Spread the refried beans over the top of the tortillas, sprinkle on the roast squash, chorizo, red onion, queso fresco and cilantro.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 1 hr., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste): 8/10
Scot (taste): 10/10
Effort: 3/5
Dishwashing Effort: 3/5

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pork Vindaloo

One thing I know about dogs is that they definitely wish they could hug. Imagine if you couldn't hug. What would you do when you are greeted by your mother, who you haven't seen for a few months? How would you comfort your friend who is crying because she is overwhelmed by life? would YOU apologize for getting really distracted and not obeying the recall command?

Being a dog is a constant struggle. (© DG)

The answer to those above questions is obviously: stretch, yawn and lick. Ever since I have had the pleasure of being in Copper's life, I have been fascinated by the concept of dogs feeling awkward or embarrassed. Scot insists that dogs do not have that emotion. But I am sure they do. Any time Copper is excited, he stretches. But I know that if he could hug, he would just hug instead. And stretching is his way of getting through those awkward moments of being so excited he doesn't know what to do with himself. Stretching is often accompanied by a yawn. And then if the face is in the ideal location, licking is also possible. But he is a minimal licker. He is very classy and sophisticated. He saves licks for only special occasions.

After the wonderful suggestions I got from a friend, I have fully immersed myself into the Indian cuisine. I got two of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks. Scot got me two Indian spice boxes for my birthday. I have been to the Indian grocer several times. And I have been cooking non-stop Indian. I often do this where I get on kicks and make a lot of one type of thing for a while. But I have to say, I am particularly fascinated by Indian food. And Madhur is guiding me in the best possible way. After making 5 of her recipes so far (and I just got these books 1 week ago!), I have been thinking about food in a new way. For one, it sure makes it seem like all other foods are highly under spiced. Not that spices need to be in every dish...but these Indian dishes have it all figured out in my book. Also, some of my favorite spices appear all over the book including coriander, cumin, chile powder, mustard, etc.

BTW, thank god someone finally made some better use of the mustard seed. Mustard is my favorite condiment of all time. I don't do ketchup. But mustard is highly underused in my life. I am now equipped with yellow and black mustard seeds and have been enjoying them in several Indian dishes. This particular recipe calls for a grainy mustard in the place of soaking the mustard seeds in vinegar. Look for the chunkiest, grainiest mustard available. Mine just looks like a bunch of mustard seeds sharing a jar. I decided to share this recipe first because it was amazing. But also because all the ingredients are easy to find (besides the extra grainy mustard, I always have the rest).

My friend had an intervention with me this past Monday (and by intervention, I mean she was the only one there). She told me, as she does bi-annually, to stop posting recipes that require a visit to the Asian, Indian or any other specialty food market. I told her I just posted a recipe for Rice Pilaf and it contained basically two ingredients: butter and rice. She wants me to post a recipe for mac and cheese with bacon and broccoli in it. So, there you go! Another dinner option!

BTW, in the above photo, a side dish of cauliflower is also pictured in the bowl. It was mega good.

BTW^2, I have learned that Naan has 250 calories per loaf. It's deliciousness all makes sense now.

BTW^3, these pork cubes are deliciously tender if you let them simmer away long enough. And it is a great use of a cheap cut of meat. 

Pork Vindaloo
by Madhur Jaffrey, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking

1 1/2 tablespoons grain mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, peeled and cut into fine half rings
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
1 1/4 lbs boned shoulder of pork, cut into 1 inch cubes
2/3 cup canned coconut milk, well stirred

Combine the mustard, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt and vinegar in a cup. Mix well.

Put the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry until it is medium brown. Put in the garlic. Stir and fry for 30 seconds. Put in the spice paste. Stir and fry for a minute. Put in the meat. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and 2/3 cup water if you are cooking continuously in a pressure cooker, or 1 cup water if you are to cook in the frying pan. (Transfer to a pressure cooker at this stage if that is your intention.) Cover and either bring up to pressure, or bring to a boil if you are using the frying pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes in the pressure cooker and 60-70 minutes in the frying pan.

(Serving: 3-4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 70 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste): 10/10
Scot (taste): 9/10
Effort: 2/5
Dishwashing Effort: 2/5