Here’s an easy beef enchilada recipe Ditalini picked up from her friend Cherie, with slight modifications to make it her own.
3 lb chuck roast
2 16 oz jars pepperocinis, with juice
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
beef broth or bouillon (as necessary)
1 can red enchilada sauce
cheddar cheese, shredded
Put the roast in a crock pot and layer the pepperocinis and garlic on top. Pour in the juice from the pepperocini jars; if there’s not enough juice to cover the roast, add beef broth or bouillon. Cook overnight on low. Remove the pepperocinis with a slotted spoon and cut the stems off, then chop coarsely. Remove the roast and pull the meat apart, removing any fat or gristle. Mix the chopped pepperocinis with the pulled meat.
Warm the tortillas on a griddle to make them pliable. When warm, wrap a mixture of meat and shredded cheddar in the tortillas, and place them seam side down in a casserole dish. Pour the enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas, sprinkle heavily with shredded cheddar. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles.
Serve with green salad (chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and onion), salsa, and chili beans.
I apologize for the Crouton’s Kitchen blackout yesterday. It was a bandwidth issue. Monday and Tuesday, there was a huge spike in bandwidth usage and all of pwoodford.net went down. I traced the problem to one of my other blogs, where there’s a large downloadable file someone or something was downloading over and over. Not sure if we were being abused by a bot or if it was just a sudden surge of user interest in that file. Never fear, Crouton is on the case, and will try to see that it doesn’t happen again.
Anyway, Ditalini and I just wanted to let you know that we’re back!
I bought some catfish at the market yesterday and saw they had fresh okra in the produce section. Hmmm, I thought, fried okra to go with the fried catfish? Sounds southern!
Crouton's Fried Okra
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste
2 eggs beaten with a little milk or buttermilk
vegetable oil for cooking
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. In another large bowl blend the flour, cornmeal, cayenne, and salt. Cut the okra in half-inch sections, place in the egg/milk mixture, then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Fill a large frying pan with about a quarter-inch of oil, then heat it up to medium or high medium. Fry the okra in a single layer, turning after about three minutes, for six minutes total. Use a slotted spoon to remove and drain the okra, then place it in a serving dish. I used a paper towel (as shown) to soak up the rest of the oil.
Fried okra is the perfect side to go with fried catfish. If cooking two fried items at once gives you the guilts, serve them with a third, non-fried side (dirty rice is great with okra and catfish).
I know a lot of folks are leery of okra and the dreaded slime factor. Deep frying is a great way to cut the sliminess of okra. Personally I wouldn’t eat okra any other way … unless it’s the little pickled ones that come in jars, which I could eat all day!
Crouton's Smashing Potatoes (served with roasted pork tenderloin and peas)
There are plenty of smashed potato recipes on the net. Here’s how we make them in Crouton’s kitchen:
6 small to medium red potatoes
1 head garlic
freshly ground pepper
First, the big picture: the potatoes cook twice. You boil them before smashing them, then, to add insult to injury, you roast ‘em. But don’t worry, it’s no effort at all, and you can do everything but the final roasting well ahead of time.
Smashing the potatoes (garlic/olive oil mixture in bowl to the right)
Start with the garlic. Peel a head of garlic (you should try this technique … it really works) and chop finely. Place in a shallow bowl of olive oil (about 1/4 cup), add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit so that the flavors get into the olive oil.
Boil the potatoes in salted water for 30 minutes. Place potatoes in cold water afterward until they’re cool enough to handle. One at a time, place potatoes on waxed paper on a hard surface, then press down on them with your hand (you can put a folded dishcloth between your hand and the potato, as shown in the photo). You want to smash them just a little, so that the skin breaks and a few cracks form in the potato … that way the flavored olive oil will get into the cracks.
Turn each smashed potato over with a spatula and brush the top side with the olive oil/garlic mixture. Then, with the spatula, transfer each potato to a baking tray lined with aluminum foil, turning them over again so that the brushed side is down. Spoon more of the olive oil/garlic mixture over the top of each potato.
Ready to roast
Roast potatoes in a preheated oven: 400°F for 30 minutes convection or 450°F for 30-35 minutes conventional. Take them out when they start to turn golden and crispy.
This is the Czech version of goulash, as served at the Tábor Restaurant in Portland, Oregon, modified by Ditalini. Traditionally it is served with dumplings, which I’ll include in the recipe, but we serve it with pasta, as shown. The recipe will serve four.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp dry yeast
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 onions, sliced
2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into 2″ cubes
12 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups beef stock
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
In a large bowl mix 1 cup flour with yeast, whisk in milk, let rest 1 hour.
Mix in beaten eggs and gradually add remaining flour. Knead, adding flour or milk if needed. Dough is ready when it’s elastic and doesn’t stick to your hands. Roll dough into two 10″ long, 2″ thick loaves. Let rest 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
Fill a large stockpot 3/4 full of water, add 1 tsp salt, bring to boil. Place both loaves in the pot, bring to boil again, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook about 13 minutes. Take dumpling loaves from pot, pierce sides a few times to keep them from ballooning up, slice into 1/2″ wide dumplings.
Heat 3 tbsp oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add onions and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Increase heat to medium high, add 2 tbsp oil, brown meat. Return onions to pot, add the garlic, and cook for a minute. Stir in paprika and tomato paste, cook for 30 seconds, add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. When cooked, thicken to desired consistency by whisking in small amounts of pre-mixed water and flour, then simmer 5 more minutes.
As you can see, preparing dumplings is a lot of work. Since goulash is traditionally served either with dumplings or pasta, we chose the easier option. We also served it with bread, the better for mopping up the delicious gravy. I think the goulash would be very good with beer substituting for half the beef stock, and Ditalini thinks it would lend itself to crockpot cooking. One last thing: be sure to cut the meat into large chunks, a technique we learned from Julia Child, who said when you cut your meat too small and it cooks down, visually you may as well be eating cat food … cut your beef so that it shows!
Lately I’ve kept the cupboard stocked with coconut milk and a supply of red, green, and Penang curry paste. Because if you have those basics — and some rice — you can make a nice Thai curry out of whatever other ingredients you have laying around.
Until last night, I’d used chicken or shrimp in my Thai curry experiments. This time I decided to use beef. The peanuts were for crunch, the red bell pepper and green beans were for color, and the grapes were to add a contrasting sweet taste. The flavors and textures went together remarkably well, and I’ll certainly make this dish again.
2 tbsp peanut oil
beef, sliced thin
1/2 onion, sliced
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
red or green bell pepper, seeded & sliced
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
zest of 1 lime
fish sauce, to taste
Heat peanut oil in large frying pan on a medium burner. Add the beef and brown it. About halfway through browning, add onions and carrots. Remove the browned beef, onion, and carrots and drain, set aside. Wipe excess oil from the frying pan with paper towels. Add half the coconut milk and the curry paste, mix well, then heat over a medium burner. Add the browned meat, onions, and carrot. Add the green beans. Add the rest of the coconut milk and stir gently with a rubber spatula. Cover the pan and let cook for 10-15 minutes over medium low heat.
Use a fine scraper to get the zest off the lime, add to the pan, along with a handful of peanuts and the sliced bell pepper. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Add the grapes and test the taste, adding fish sauce as desired.
Serve with rice.
Crouton's red curry with beef
You won’t need nearly the amount beef shown in the top photo. I used only about a third of that small roast, cutting 1/4″ slices from it, then cutting the slices into 1″ lengths. I used half the onion and half the bell pepper. Otherwise, ingredients as shown.
If you find yourself with some catfish, you can’t go wrong dredging them in cornmeal and frying them. Served up with dirty rice and sautéed spinach, catfish makes a great dinner.
catfish filets (1 per person)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 package dirty rice
1/4 lb ground hot sausage
large container of fresh spinach, cleaned with stems removed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Rinse the catfish and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly score each filet on both sides with a sharp knife, making very shallow diagonal cuts about two inches apart (this will keep them from curling up when fried). I dipped each filet in beaten egg and milk, then dredged each filet in a mixture of flour and cornmeal, seasoned with ground black pepper and paprika. Place the breaded filets aside on waxed paper.
In a large frying pan heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the mixture stops sputtering. Fry the catfish filets, three to four minutes per side, turning carefully so they don’t break. They should be golden brown when done, as in the photo. Serve with lemon, and tartar sauce if desired.
Prepare dirty rice per package instructions (we used Zatarain’s, which you can find in most supermarkets), but add browned crumbled sausage to it (we use Jimmy Dean’s hot sausage).
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and then add sliced garlic and spinach. There’ll be a huge pile of spinach at first, and as you sauté and turn it, it will reduce considerably. When it looks tender it’s done.
Notes on preparation
Browning the sausage and preparing the dirty rice can be done ahead. You want the catfish and the sautéed spinach right out of the pan, however, so if you have someone to help you with the cooking it’ll be much easier. I cooked the catfish outside on the side burner of a gas grill while Ditalini sautéed the spinach indoors on the stove.
When Ditalini told me she’d picked up Jerusalem artichokes at the co-op last Saturday, I pictured something … well, artichokey, maybe a smaller version of the California artichokes I was familiar with. But Ditalini’s Jerusalem artichokes turned out to be something else entirely: potato-like root vegetables that look like ginger root.
Jerusalem artichokes (photo: Gourmet Heartbeat)
This was my first experiment with Jerusalem artichokes, so I picked an easy-looking recipe:
5 or 6 Jerusalem artichokes
salt & pepper
grated Parmesan cheese
Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes and boil them for 10 minutes in salted water. Remove and drain. Smear the bottom of a baking dish with butter. After the artichokes have cooled, slice them, and layer them in the baking dish. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground pepper, dot with more butter, and sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the cheese on top turns golden brown. Serve.
Jerusalem Artichokes Gratin (photo by Barb Gertz)
What are they like? A bit crunchier than potatoes, a bit mushroomy in taste. This gratin recipe could easily include bacon or ham, and I may try it that way next time … more like scalloped potatoes. It’s a nice alternative to plain old potatoes.