Green Chilie Stew

Hatch chilie season is so fleeting.  They were already sold out yesterday when I checked both the local (to Arlington, Texas) Whole Foods and the nearest Central Market.  Strangely, enough, Kroger still had some, so we grabbed them up.    They are the star of this classic New Mexico stew.

There are many versions of this recipe.  One resource I looked at calls this New Mexico's answer to chicken soup -- both a "cure-all" and a family tradition.  Some variations start with water and boil the pork with peppercorns and bay to make a stock.  Others use jarred chile verde salsa in place of fresh chilies.  Some recipes include potato. But here's my favorite way to make it: 

Green Chilie Stew

10 Hatch chilies
6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lb. boneless pork butt, trimmed
1 c. onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup flour
2 c.tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. chicken stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place chilies on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the oil.  Roast the chilies until they begin to blister and form black spots.  When they are cool enough to handle, cut off the tops, then peel and dice the chilies.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot . Cut pork into 1" cubes.  Rinse pork and pat dry, then add to the hot oil and cook, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Add onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently until the onion turns translucent.  Add flour and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, green chiles, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and stock.  Stir. Lower heat. Cover pot and simmer for about an hour and a half, or until the pork becomes very tender.


Burgers Around the World II

I hope you enjoyed the Burgers Around the World I post last week, and maybe even got to try one of the recipes (after all, Hatch chili season is fleeting).  This week Jake is bringing us "burgers" from the other two cultures I'll be covering in Cooking Around the World.  These are a little more unusual than the ones from New Mexico and the Philipenes -- there's not a speck of ground beef in sight.  Here's what he has to say:

While they do serve westernized hamburgers in Greece (and there are a number of "Greek" burgers out there, made with olive-studded buns or topped with tatziki or feta), the more traditional equivilant of the burger is the sandwich-style souvlaki. Once the meat hits the pita, the terms souvlaki and gyros are often used interchangably, but if you want to get technical about it, gyros are made from large cones of meat that spin (the word "gyro" after all means "to spin") as meat is shaved off of it, while souvlaki is made from chunks of meat that have been grilled kebab style (great for street vendors, and also more "doable" for the home cook).  In Greece, these are most often made from pork, though you can substitute lamb, beef or chicken as desired.

Sandwich Style Souvlaki

2 cups of Greek yogurt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 English cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
1 1/2 lbs. pork roast or stew meat

3/4 c. olive oil
1 onion, minced (first reserving 2 or 3 thin slices for serving)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. fresh Greek oregano, minced

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
6 round pitas
1 medium tomato, sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, oilve oil, lemon juice, and garlic.  Grate the cucumber into the bowl, stir well and referigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors combine.
Cut pork into 1" cubes and place in gallon size zipper bag.  Add olive oil, onion, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Seal the bag, then squish the ingredients around inside the bag to combine the marinade and work it into the meat a little.  Place the bag in the referigerator and marinate for at least an hour (or overnight), squishing the bag again in the middle of the marinating time.

Meanwhile, soak 6 wooden skewers in warm water (for at least half an hour).  When the pork is done marinating, drain off the marinade and thread the pork cubes onto the skewers.  Grill the pork until it is cooked completely through, turning occasionally.  Remove the skewers and set aside.  Grill the pitas until browned.  Top each pita wit a couple of slices of tomato and a few rings of onion.  Unthread  a skewer worth of meat directly on top of each pita. Top with the cucumber yogurt mixture (tatziki sauce) to taste. 

In China, burgers are commonly conisdered street food.  Often, they resemble open-sided steamed buns (with the "bun" portion of the burger coming from the same type of dough, and , yes, having been steamed).  The bun is split (or else steamed folded over), and then some type of meat is placed in the center.  It can really be whatever you like, from a gingery ground chicken patty to chipped teryaki style beef.  For mine, I'm going to stick with the pork theme and do slices of teryaki pork.

Chinese Bun Burgers

1 1/2 lb. pork butt, sliced 1/2" thick (try to make 6  pieces) 
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced 
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
1 tbsp. scallions, minced

Place pork slices in a gallon sized zipper bag.  Add soy sauce, sugar, garlic and ginger.  Seal bag (removing as much air as you can) and squish and shake the mixture until the sugar disolves completely.  Place the bag in the referigerator and let marinate for at least two hours, flipping and squishing the bag during the marinating process.  Once it has completed the marinating process, grill it until completely cooked.

Meanwhile, cut six 3" squares from parchament paper, and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and yeast with 1 cup warm water.  Set aside for at least five minutes to allow the mixture to become foamy.  In a large bowl, combine flour and baking powder.  Add yeast mixture and combine thouroughly.  Add the vegetable oil, and knead until a smooth dough forms.  Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Divide into six equal portions.  Roll them into balls and let rest for five minutes.  On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a slightly elongated oval.  Useing a pastry brush, brush the top with oil.  Fold into a moon shape (oiled side in) and place each piece on one of the parchament squares.  Place each one (square side down) in a bamboo steamer placed over room-temperature water.  Allow the dough to rest in the steamer for ten minutes, then turn the burner on to medium high heat.  Start timing when the water boils, and steam for five minutes.  Allow it to rest for a minute or two before you open the steamer.


Flop each bun open, place in a piece of pork, and garnish with a few minced scallions.



Every time I eat moussaka, I think about the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."  You know, the scene where the little girl has it in her lunchbox, and the other girl makes fun of her for it.  Oh, if only those other kids knew what they were missing out on, with their paltry bologna sandwiches on white bread.  I myself grew up in a less than adventurous family when it came to food, so it wasn't until I became a teenager that I started to explore the tastes of the world.  I eventually became a librarian, and one of my special research areas became food and culture and how they intersect and change over time.  I always try to approach my subject with respect, learning about another place and people, while adding my favorite things about a cuisine to my cooking repertoire.

Right now, my kitchen smells faintly exotic (the cinnamon and allspice make the meat sauce quite unlike an Italian version) as I prepare the bonus recipe for this week's Cooking Around the World class.  It starts Saturday, when we will be covering Greece.  There are still a few spots left if you would like to sign up.  

There are a number of versions of Moussaka, but the most notable ones are the Greek variety (as outlined in the recipe below) and the Turkish one (which involves green peppers and onions, and is not baked).  Classic Greek moussaka can also be made with ground lamb.  If you are a vegetarian, just omit the ground beef and add some chunky tomatoes in its place.  Remember to allow it to cool for  a while (at least ten minutes) before you cut it, or it won't come out in one piece.  It is meant to be served luke-warm.

1 large eggplant
3 medium potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 onion, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. red wine
2/3 c. tomato puree
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 c. breadcrumbs
4 eggs, divided
1 c. Kefalotyri cheese, grated
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
2 c. milk
1/8 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Peel the eggplant, leaving a few vertical strips of peel about an inch and a half apart.  Slice the eggplant into 1/2" thick pieces.  Place a colander in the sink.  Salt both sides of the eggplant, placing each slice into the colander as you salt it.  Cover with a plate and something heavy as a weight and let drain for about an hour.


Place the potatoes in a medium pot over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and cook until the potato can be pierced with a fork.  Drain the potatoes and let them cool enough that they are easy to work with.  Slice the potatoes into 1/2" thick slices.  Sprinkle a few breadcrumbs into the bottom of a 13"x9" baking dish and assemble the potatoes in a layer on top of them.  Sprinkle on a third of the grated cheese. 

In a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion turns translucent.  Add the the ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until it browns.  Add the wine, tomatoes, parsley, cinnamon, allspice, sugar, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until the liquid has reduced and the sauce is thick.  Pour the sauce over the potatoes in the baking dish.  Add a third of the grated cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse eggplant, then dry using paper towels.  Line  baking sheet with parchment paper.  Beat the egg whites until well combined and a little frothy.  Place the egg whites into a wide shallow bowl, and add 1 tsp. of water.  Place the breadcrumbs on a flat plate.  Dredge the eggplant into the egg whites and then into the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat them thoroughly.  Place each slice on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Flip the eggplant slices.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Make a layer of eggplant slices on top of the meat sauce layer.

Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat the milk until steams (but does not boil).  In a medium pot, melt the butter over low heat.  Add flour, and whisk constantly, until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens.  Continue whisking while you add the milk in three additions, making sure that it is thoroughly incorporated and that the mixture is smooth between additions.  Add a good grinding of nutmeg.  Temper the egg yolks by adding some of the hot liquid to the bowl the eggs are in.  When the bowl becomes almost hot to the touch, add the egg mixture to the rest of the sauce in the pot.  Simmer for 2-5 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  Pour the bechamel sauce over the eggplant layer in the baking dish, and top with the remaining third of the shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden.


Cheeseburgers Around the World -- Part I

My husband loves a good hamburgerburger.  From the cilantro-laiden Chimmichuri burgers popular in the Dominican Republic to the Austrailian style burger (with a pineapple slice and an egg), he has embraced them all.  So when I unvieled the cultures for the upcoming Cooking Around the World class, he was excited about the burger possibilities, and has graced my blog with his versions of New Mexican and Filipeno style burgers. Chili Burgers and Jollibee's Filipeno Hash Brown Burger.

Next week, he'll give us part two, where he covers Chinese-Style Bun Burgers, and as well as Soulviaki (also known as Gyros, the hamburger of Greece).

Filipeno Hash Brown Burger -- Filipeno burger recipes are often quite  to American burgers.  Sometimes, other meats (such as Longanissa -- a chorizo-like sausage) are added to the ground beef to give it more depth of flavor and a kick of spice.  And sometimes a sweet element is added.  But mostly it's recognizable as a standard burger.  But there is a Filipeno burger chain that serves something a little different (and is holding its own beside the MacDonalds and Burger King franchises dotting the country).  It's the Jolibee Hash Brown Burger.  Jollibee calls the beef patty "langhap-sarap" -- "best of all"; determined by the smell, and promises crunchy, crispy, burgery goodness, as seen in thier commercial.  Here's my take on it:
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
3 tbsp. diced onion
12 large hash brown patties, baked until crisp
6 slices American cheese

Combine the ground beef with the salt, pepper, onion powder and onion flakes.  Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions.  On a sheet of waxed paper, pat out the beef mixture into rectangular patties a little larger than the size of your has browns.  Freeze the patties for an hour or so.  Preheat the grill and cook to desired degree of doneness.  Meanwhile, bake the  hash brown patties according to package directions.  When burgers and hash browns are both done, squeeze desired amount of ketchup onto the top of half the hash browns.  Top with a slice of American cheese, a burger, and the remaining hash browns

New Mexican Green Chili Cheeseburgers -- Green chili cheeseburgers got thier start in the 1950s, along Route 66 at roadside burger joints.  A number of different establishments all claim to have created the special burger, each claiming the owner ran out of bowls for serving green chili-based side dishes (the green chili is, after all, the state vegetable).  Green chili burgers have now become such a culinary icon that the state has put together a map of the "Green Chili Cheeseburger Trail," which you can follow to discover the best green chili burger:

Aren't going to New Mexico any time soon?  You can take advantage of the increasing availability of fresh Hatch chilis and create your own. 

3 Fresh Hatch chilis
Olive oil
1/2 of a medium onion
1 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. frshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayanne
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. parsley flakes
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
4 hamburger buns *
Mayo (or other condiments)
1 medium tomato, sliced
4 leaves lettuce, romaine or your favorite

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place chilis on a baking sheet, and drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon of oil over each.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Roast in oven until black spots form (25-30 minutes), turning occasionally.  Set aside to cool.  Meanwhile, slice onion and cut into strips.  Pour a little olive oil in a small skillet and sautee the onion over medium-high heat.  Also meanwhile, preheat grill. In a large bowl, mix ground beef with garlic, pepper, cayanne, salt and parsley. Shape into 4 patties. Cook on grill until desired doneness is achieved.  Cut tops off of roasted peppers.  Remove the seeds.  Peel off skin and slice into long strips.  Top each bun with a hamburger patty and cheese, peper strips, sauteed onions, tomato slice, and a lettuce leaf.

* I decided to make home-made buns for these burgers.  I used the home-made bun recipe Dragana posted over at Pryatno.  They came out perfectly.  Thanks Dragana!


Tea Pillow

Tea pillows have long been used throughout the orient for their aromatherapy (and antimicrobial) benefits.  The fragrance of tea is held to be calming, and they are used in a manner similar to the way you use a lavender pillow.  The fragrance of tea can sometimes become faint over time.  If you can't smell your tea pillow, try placing it in the sun before use, or placing it on a gentle heat source, like a heating pad.  If that still doesn't work, pick open the seam and fill your pillow with fresh tea.

Thailand -- Small silk or brocade tea pillows are one of the most popular Thai souvenirs.  They are often made using fabrics that were handcrafted locally, thus providing both the cloth makers and the tea producers a measure of self-sufficiency.

Japan -- A company called Corma (in cooperation with Itoen Tea Company) has developed a way to recycle used tea leaves into resin-based beads for pillow fillings.  These are said to feel similar to buckwheat pillows, but with odor eliminating properties and no potential for weevils.

Taiwan -- To make a traditional Taiwanese tea pillow, used oolong leaves are spread in the sun and dried thoroughly, then used to make pillow fillings.  It may take a single tea-drinker some time to collect up enough leaves to fill a pillow.  (If you make a pillow like this for yourself, make certain the leaves are completely dry before adding to the pillow, and put it in the sun occasionally to keep it from becoming musty).

China -- Tea pillows have been considered medicinal in China for thousands of years.  They would sometimes be mixed with herbs designed to treat a specific condition, or to enhance longevity.  They are also considered a natural sleep aid.  They are available today in a wide variety of sizes and fabrics.

The pillows can be filled with any high quality tea (typically green or oolong), or with a tea that has an added fragrance, such as a jasmine tea or a chai.  I have been using tea as a fragrance element in my herbal sachets for years.  Now, I've designed a Kimono shaped pillow which will be available in Fragrant Green (gold fabric) and Chai Spice (red fabric).


Greek Meatballs

It's that time again!

Starting September 22, I will be doing another session of Cooking Around The World over at UTA (University of Texas at Arlington).  There are still a few spots left, so sign up now!

This time, we are covering: New Mexico, Greece, The Philipenes and China.  In each class, we discuss food history and its impact on culture, and we make a representative meal.

To get you in the mood, I thought I would offer my recipe for Keftedes (a.k.a. Greek Meatballs).  It is deceptively simple, but offers a ton of flavor.  You could serve this as a main course along with a nice salad and some crusty bread.  Or, for something even more authentic, consider it a meze (a small plate or appetizer, cousin to Spanish tapas).  Add a couple of other Mezes (make sure to include tatziki and pitas for dipping), and you've got a light party menu.  In fact, this is one of my go-to dishes to bring when I get invited to a pot-luck party.


2 tbsp.  olive oil
1 1/2 lb. ground beef (or a combination of beef with lamb or pork)
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 c. dry white wine
Juice of one lemon

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high.  When the oil starts to show motion in the pan, roll golf-ball sized portions of the meat, adding each one to the pan as you work.  Cook meatballs for ten minutes, then deglaze the pan with the white wine.  Cook until the wine reduces, then squeeze the lemon juice on top.   


Upcycled Retro Apron

People know I sew, so they are often giving me cloth.  Sometimes, the stuff is just hopeless.  But sometimes, there's a piece or two that is just super cute.

This piece of cloth began life as a vintage flat sheet.  My challenge with this project:  somebody took pieces out of it for another project somewhere along the way, including a big chunk out of the middle.  I was using a store-bought pattern (sometimes I make my own patterns, but I wanted a vintagey look for this vintage cloth), and the apron body didn't look like it was going to fit on one of the ends past the chunk.  But when I took the seam out, I realized that this sheet had been hiding a good four inches of fabric, which was just enough.

Most of the the things I sew wind up either on my Etsy shop, or in a gift bag on its way to a friend, but this one I sized just for me.

I still have a bit of the cloth left, which I plan to make into tea towels, which probably WILL wind up in my Etsy store, since the hubby doesn't look excited at the prospect of a pink flowers print in the linens drawer.