30 December 2007

making santars at grandma's

making santars

Making santars with my mom on Christmas morning. I made the dough and she shaped them. It's one recipe I will never blog about ;)

29 December 2007

Christmas in New Mexico means food & family

For the last 7 days, Jason and I have been in New Mexico for Christmas. To me, New Mexico means two things: food and family. Christmas morning, my auntie, her husband and 4 daughters, all of my cousin's kids, and everyone's husbands, boyfriends, and fiancés come to see my grandma, mom, me, and Jason (the newest to join the family). During Christmas in New Mexico, every house has posole, tamales, and of course, red chili. Jason's family couldn't understand why we serve this instead of a "traditional" Christmas meal... this is our tradition!

The posole and tamales can't be made without meat, but when I first became vegetarian, my mom worked to make a vegetarian version of New Mexican red chili. The chili is different than what most people outside of New Mexico think of as chili. It's more like a sauce instead of a soupy tomato-based mixture of vegetables and meat.

The chili powder is the key to making this dish; it's made from New Mexican chilis which are dried then ground to a powder. The more seeds that are left in, the hotter the chili powder. This is used instead of fresh or canned whole chilis. When making the chili, traditionally, you start with either chunks of pork or a pound of ground beef, cooked in a cast-iron pan. You make a roux by adding flour and New Mexican chili powder which combines with the fat from the meat, then add water and let simmer until thickened.

To make my vegetarian version, I start with butter or oil in a sauce pan, then add the flour, chili powder, and garlic (fresh or powdered). The recipe is rough because it's one I learned from sight, and I doubt any measurement I could write down would be accurate. If you're trying this, just use your senses and add more or less of what you think for it to come out how you want it.

Vegetarian New Mexican Red Chili

4 tbsp butter or oil (I use a mixture of both)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp New Mexican chili powder (or more for a stronger flavor and more heat)
3/4 -1 tsp garlic powder
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup Morningstar Meal Starters Recipe Crumbles
1 can beans (pinto or black), drained and rinsed
1 potato, peeled, diced, and pan fried

Combine the butter or oil, flour, chili powder, and garlic powder in a saucepan and whisk until the flour is cooked, 1-2 minutes. If you've added more chili powder, add more butter so that the consistency is smooth, not lumping. Add the vegetable broth, salt, and pepper, and whisk constantly, scraping the edges of the pan to combine all of the roux. Continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken. It wont thicken much, but if you like your chili thicker, like a sauce, add up to 1 tbsp. corn starch dissolved in water. Don't add the cornstarch directly to the chili or it'll lump.

making vegetarian chili, new mexico stylemaking vegetarian chili, new mexico style

When the chili is thickened and done, you can add extra ingredients which make up for the lack of meat. If adding the recipe crumbles, add them first because they have to warm from being frozen, then add the remaining ingredients. I usually use only recipe crumbles and pinto beans, but you can add the potatoes or any other combination you can think of. Just, please - no cilantro!

vegetarian chili, new mexico style

Serve with shredded cheddar (mild or medium), and corn chips, or on its own with Spanish rice on the side. It can also be used as an accent to other dishes like burritos or served with breakfast on top of fried eggs and fried potatoes.

18 December 2007

Seasoned Eatings - Brown Cakes


Though I'm new to reading their blogs, Thyme For Cooking and Country Girl City Living were kind and let me join Seasoned Eatings, a Secret Santa-esque inter-continental spice exchange. You send a spice unique to where you live (or unique to you cooking style), along with a recipe, and you receive a package with a new spice.

I got in the mail spices and flours from Ulrike in Germany. The recipe included is for Brown Cakes, or Braune Kuchen. Ulrike sent me cinnamon

ground cinnamon

cloves and pottash (which I've never worked with before)


and two bags of flour (rye and cake flour). Making something new was exciting but also left me feeling very unsure of what I was doing. Not knowing how things should look and feel at certain stages made me uncertain that things were going well. The moment I was least sure of what I was doing was when I mixed the butter, brown sugar, and molasses - "Is it supposed to look like that?" I even had to call Jason over to get his input but he had no idea (only adding "photoshop could never save this picture"). But the cookies came out well (I think!) and it was fun to roll them out. They smell wonderful in the oven and though I'm not sure of proper brown cake etiquette, I think they'd be wonderful with a glass of milk, or maybe coffee.

Thank you to Ulrike for sending me this wonderful package and to Lindsay & Katie for organizing this.

You can view the recipe for Brown Cakes at Küchenlatein.

17 December 2007

roasted butternut squash with sage

i've never had butternut squash before, in fact i don't think i've ever cooked any other squash besides zucchini and yellow squash, but when our plans to make butternut squash risotto with sage and parmesan didn't work out, i was left with a butternut squash i didn't want to waste.

i cut the squash into quarters then scooped out the seeds and insides with a spoon. spray or brush the quarters with olive oil then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rubbed sage. before baking, place 1/2 tbsp butter in each of the hollowed holes. bake for 40-45 minutes (or until tender) at 400 degrees.

while the squash bakes, the butter and sage infuse and begins to soak into the squash leaving the center tender and extremely flavorful. there should still be a small puddle of butter in the center, use this as a dipping cup while you eat the squash - just a tiny dab of butter is enough! when you get to the center, the squash just melts in your mouth.

04 December 2007

lemon chickpea soup

4 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6-7 cups vegetable broth
zest and juice of 1 large lemon (or 2 small)
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried rosemary
salt to taste

combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. let simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour. blend the soup in a blender, and serve with a bit of olive oil and shredded parmesan.

this is practically hummus soup!