Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Today's recipe goes hand in hand with my appearance on Savour the Flavour (link here: Of course as the video concluded I realized one thing: I forgot to mention the blog address. Whoops. Well, if you're reading this you've already found me. Did you come here because of Savour the Flavour or do you already follow this blog? Let me know in the comments.

What is chicken mole? Well, the thing to understand about mole is that the word is something of a catch-all word for sauce. However in the U.S. it is commonly understood that it very often refers to a type of sauce featuring chocolate and spices called mole sauce, or mole poblano. The dish originates in Mexico, although there is some debate as to whether it comes from the state of Puebla, Oaxaca or Tlaxcala. In restaurants it is served over chicken enchiladas: shredded roasted chicken and soft mild cheese rolled in soft corn tortillas. They are served with a generous amount of mole sauce and a drizzle of mild, loose Mexican sour cream called crema, as well as sprinkled with

[record scratch] Wait a minute, I can hear my dear readers thinking in their heads. Did she just say chicken and chocolate? I sure did. You're probably wondering how they go together. Well, the amazing thing about mole poblano is the depth of flavor imparted by its many ingredients. Smoky adobo, redolent with spice and personality is a subtle compliment to the rich, bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate flavor pairs incredibly well with mild corn tortilla and the richness of the sauce, enhanced by a nut paste, goes surprisingly well with chicken and chicken fat. It's got a lot of ingredients, but don't be intimidated. It's easier than you'd think and so worth it.

Mole Enchiladas

1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup blanched almonds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 clove star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 disk Mexican chocolate
2 roasted habanero, seeds and ribs removed
2 Tablespoons adobo paste
5 spice cloves, heads only
2 Tablespoons powdered baking chocolate
[Up to] 4 cups chicken stock
1 onion, roughly chopped
[Up to] 1/4 cup coconut oil or lard
4 tomatillos, roasted
Salt, to taste
4 cloves roasted garlic

Toppings & Garnishes:
Queso Blanco
Minced Cilantro

For enchilada assembly:

2 lbs shredded chicken
8 ounces fresh mozarella, chopped into small bits
1 package soft corn tortillas

1. Add oil or lard to cover the bottom of a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and salt to taste and cook without stirring for up to 4 minutes. Stir and then leave for another four minutes. When they are just browned, remove from heat and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, add oil or lard to cover the bottom of a small saucepan heated to low-medium and toast nuts, sesame, cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Set cinnamon stick aside and pulse nuts, sesame and spices in the blender, 3 pulses about 5 seconds each.
4. Add tomatillos, habaneros, adobo paste, 2 cups chicken stock, onions, garlic. Pulse in blender 5 times at 5 seconds each.
5. Strain contents of blender through sieve and reintroduce to larger saucepan. Add cinnamon stick back in and bring to a lazy simmer. Thin with remaining chicken stock until sauce reaches the desired consistency.
6. While sauce simmers over the lowest heat setting, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and in a baking dish assemble chicken enchiladas: pile a generous amount of chicken and chopped mozzarella in a line down the center of a corn tortilla in a 3:1 ratio (chicken to cheese); roll tortilla up and place in baking dish. Continue rolling tortillas up with chicken and cheese and placing into the baking dish until the dish is filled with rolled up tortillas, fitting snugly inside. Bake until cheese is melted (about 7 to 10 minutes).
6. Remove sauce from heat, fish out and discard cinnamon stick and add chocolate in all forms, stirring to melt and incorporate.
7. Remove enchiladas from oven and pour desired amount of sauce over them.
8. Serve enchiladas drizzled with crema and sprinkled with cilantro and crumbled queso blanco.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chocolate Crepe Suzette

Chocolate. Crepe. Suzette. Need I say more? Well, ok I should probably mention two things: one, that crepes suzette is a dish with an orange-y caramel sauce; and two, that I've been planning this dish since I found out I would be hosting chocolate month on my favorite G+ group, Foodies+. I was so excited I immediately started to plan my chocolate dishes. I thought about how well orange goes with chocolate and hit upon the idea of making chocolate crepes with an orange sauce. I didn't get any pictures of the flambee (with the abundance of other ingredients in the sauce it flamed kind of a disappointing amount), but I did manage to cut a cute heart and star out of the squeezed out orange shell. I you've never formed crepes before they do take a little practice. Ladle the batter in the center, then swirl gently in a circular motion to spread the batter outward. If you can get this technique down you can create perfectly thin crepes with delicate edges. In no time at all you'll be turning out professional looking crepes. A crepe pan isn't absolutely necessary, but it is a big help. If you don't have one a frying pan will do; the lighter the pan the better.

Chocolate Crepes Suzette

Makes 6 crepes (if every drop of batter is used)

For the crepes:

3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon AP Flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 Tablespoons powdered baking chocolate
1 Tablespoon super fine caster sugar

1. Whisk eggs, then add milk. Whisk together, then add flour and incorporate.
2. Add chocolate powder and sugar and whisk in. Lastly, whisk butter.
3. Set aside for at least 1/2 hour. Meanwhile, make the sauce (see recipe below).
4. When the batter has sat for 30 minutes, heat a light frying pan and add enough butter to cover the bottom and sides.
5. When the butter is sizzling, add a full soup ladle full of batter into the pan toward the center. Swirl gently to spread the batter to the outer edges of the pan. Cook until starting to brown, 1 - 2 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 1 - 2 minutes. Set aside on a plate and repeat with remaining batter until it is used up.

For the sauce suzette:

4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1 orange
2 Tablespoons cointreau or grand marnier
1 Tablespoons cognac
1 pinch salt

1. Melt butter in heavy bottomed sauce pan over low heat.
2. Add orange zest, sugar, and a pinch of salt and allow to melt, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes.
3. Add liquor and ignite. Alcohol will burn off, allowing sugar to finish caramelizing.
4. Add fresh orange juice. Stir to incorporate.
5. Serve over chocolate crepes and finish with some good quality chocolate, grated.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Chard and Beer Caramelized Onion Quiche

I recently read somewhere that swiss chard was in season. I can't remember where I read it, but I must not have noticed the date, because as it turns out, chard season has long since passed. Here in California we are lucky to get some lovely chard all year, grown in a greenhouse. If you aren't as fortunate then you may have to be patient and try this recipe out next summer and fall. I am particularly fond of the red chard, both for its strong flavor and the gorgeous deep red color of the stems. Because I had chard in mind I began to think of a fun dish to center around this interesting ingredient. Sweet caramelized onions, given a bit of a bite by a beer deglazing, perfectly compliment the herbaceous acidity of the chard. Small crumbles of feta provide a salty pop of flavor, the salinity balancing the almost so-bitter-it's-sweet chard. The three flavors are wonderful together in a dish, but the star of this quiche is actually the consistency: soft and creamy, reminiscent of the incredibly silken and decadent quiche we enjoyed at a cafe in Paris. The key is plenty of cream and a surfeit of finely graded melt-y cheese, such as gruyere or cheddar. Try to choose something that doesn't have too much personality. Another key to a soft quiche is to cook it for a long time at a lower temperature, just until set. I'll admit I got lazy and decided to cheat with a store bought crust. The one I chose with vegetable shortening made me not regret it. If you make a mean pie crust and don't mind the work, by all means make your own.

Red Swiss Chard and Beer Caramelized Onion Quiche with Feta Cheese

1 (10 ounce) bunch of swiss chard
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 ounces good ipa or another pale ale
2 Tablespoons olive oil, separated
1 ounce feta cheese crumbles
1 store bought shortening pie crust
4 ounces gruyere cheese, finely grated
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
tiny pinch of nutmg
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Prepare the red swiss chard: chop of stems approximately 2" below the leaves and discard stems. Chop leaves and remaining bits of stem into bite sized pieces. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add 1 Tbl olive oil. Add chard and a small pinch of salt and saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add about 3 Tablespoons of water and cover the chard. Turn the heat down to low and allow to steam gently for about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions: saute onions in remaining olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste over medium heat, stirring every 3 - 4 minutes until caramelized (dark brown on all sides). Deglaze the pan with beer. When the chard is tender and the onions have been beer-ified, set both aside to cool.
3. Take your shortening crust out of the freezer and pre-bake it. Even if you're using a homemade crust you want to pre-bake it so it doesn't turn soggy. For a pre-made frozed crust: defrost the crust for 10 minutes while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Pierce defrosted crust all over over with a fork and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the crust is barely starting to turn golden.
4. Set crust aside to cool. In a mixing bowl combine eggs, cream, gruyere, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Turn oven down to 275 and and assemble quiche in cooled pie crust: layer chard, then onions, then the feta, crumbled finely. Pour egg batter over all of the ingredients.
6. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn oven up to 300 and bake for another 20 - 25 minutes, or until top begins to color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
Serve and enjoy! The French like to serve their quiche alongside lightly dressed spring salad mix.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Earl Grey Chocolate Truffles

This Valentine's Day, why not homemake your sweetie's chocolates to show them how much you care? It is surprisingly easy. Instead of tea leaves you can customize these truffles by whisking a little alcohol into your cream mixture before pouring it over the chocolate. To temper your chocolate, melt 3/4 of the chocolate reserved for the shells and bring the temperature of the melted chocolate quickly down by removing the chocolate from the heat and adding the remaining 1/4 chopped chocolate

These chocolates are special because the bitter tea balances with the bitter chocolate and both are mellowed out enough to bring the brassy citrus flavors of the black tea to the fore to really elevate the taste of the truffles.

Earl Grey Truffles

3/4 cups cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and clarified
3/4 Tablespoon loose Earl Grey tea leaves
8 ounces good quality (70% or better) semi sweet dark chocolate, chopped
5 ounces good quality milk or dark chocolate, chopped

1. Create the ganache: heat cream over low heat and add tea, allowing it to steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Bring cream up to a low boil and turn heat off immediately. Add clarified butter to cream and whisk to combine.
2. Place your 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate into a stainless steel bowl and pour hot cream and butter mixture through a sieve into the chocolate.
3. Stir to melt chocolate with the heat from the cream and butter mixture. When everything has been combined and all chocolate has been melted, set aside in a dry, cool place to come to room temperature.
4. In roughly 30 minutes, when the ganache has set, form into Tablespoon sized balls. Cover tightly and set briefly in the fridge while you melt the remaining chocolate.
5. Fill the bottom of a double boiler with about 3 inches of hot water and bring to a temperature just below a simmer. Put 5 ounces chopped chocolate in the top layer of the double boiler and melt, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
6. Take melted chocolate off of the heat and dip ganache balls into it one by one, balanced on the tines of a fork. Shake excess chocolate off after each truffle is dipped. Set covered truffles on a parchment lined sheet tray to cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or serve immediately to your sweetie.