Tag Archives: sour cream

DILLED FAVA BEANS IN SOUR CREAM

Things just seem to come together at the farmers market. Vegetables and fruits that complement one another seem to ripen together. Maybe not, but there are combinations that work, like strawberries and rhubarb or squash and corn. Another great combination is dill and favas. They both peak in the spring and trail off in the summer. A while back at my favorite market stall I found some beautiful fronds of dill tied up in bundles along with a big bin of favas ready to be scooped up. I was mindful of the effort that lay ahead of me, but the  earthy taste of fresh green favas compensates for the work involved to prepare them. Although favas can be used in many ways once they are shelled, a simple preparation highlights their flavor. Nothing could be easier than this way to serve fava beans.

RECIPE

Dilled Fava Beans in Sour Cream

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds (about) unshelled fresh fava beans
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh dill fronds
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Shell the beans by pressing the seam of the pod between your fingers and popping the beans into a container.
  2. Blanch the beans by adding them to a large pot of boiling salted water. Return to the boil after adding the beans and boil for one minute. Drain and chill immediately in ice water.
  3. With your thumbnail, pop the thick bean coating open and squeeze out the bean to a waiting container.
  4. When you have finished shelling all of the beans, combine them with chopped dill, sour cream and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
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CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ AND SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE

Our daughter in Los Angeles invited us to join her family for Easter. The visit would include holiday activities along with birthday celebrations, real estate adventures, and lots of cooking. On Saturday, the ritual dying of Easter eggs was completed. At dawn, the traditional Easter egg hunt was finished in record time.

Easter breakfast was an event that we could never have experienced in Santa Fe. The meal included something that could only be enjoyed in a few places across the country – most notably California and Florida. Our daughter’s husband and son went out into the backyard to harvest oranges for freshly squeezed juice. Meanwhile, she stirred up a delicious coffee cake and fried some link sausages.  She served it all with a fresh berry and kiwi fruit compote. Here’s the recipe for the coffee cake, copied from her hand-written recipe card.

RECIPE

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Ingredients

  • ¾  cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  •  1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons for greasing pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons salt

Method

  1. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, and cinnamon. Process for 15 seconds. Transfer 1¼ cups of the mixture to small bowl, and stir in the remaining brown sugar. Set aside for filling.
  2. Add butter and chopped pecans to the mixture remaining in the food processor. Pulse to a coarse pebbly consistency. Set aside for topping.
  3. Grease a 10 inch tube pan. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, one cup of sour cream, and vanilla.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and remaining ½  cup of sour cream. Beat on low until the mixture resembles wet sand, about 1½ minutes. Increase speed to medium and beat for 10 seconds. Scrape down.
  6. Lower the mixer speed to medium low and add the egg and sour cream mixture in three additions. Increase speed to medium high and beat for about 1 minute, until light and fluffy.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, spread 2 cups of batter on the bottom of the pan, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle evenly with ¾ cup filling. Repeat and then spread remaining batter over top. Sprinkle with topping.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is firm to touch and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling rack for 30 minutes. Then invert onto plate, removing the baking pan. Invert again onto the cooling rack, and cool to room temperature. Serves 12-16

 

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PISTACHIO-STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Stuffed mushrooms are so retro. They were very popular in the 1960s, but you almost never see them now except at the Olive Garden. That is too bad, because they are easy to make and delicious to eat. They are perfect with cocktails and also make a good first course. The important step is to sauté the mushroom caps before you stuff them. Then you can let your imagination run wild and stuff them with whatever sounds appealing. We have a big bowl of pistachios that we have been snacking from for days, and even though pistachios are surprisingly low-cal, they are not when you eat them by the bowlful. Stuffing them into mushrooms seemed like a good dodge. That’s partly because I have no idea how many calories are in a stuffed mushroom.

RECIPE

Pistachio-Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 8 large crimini mushrooms (the largest you can find not labeled as Portobellos)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 scallions, including green ends, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped coarsely
  • ¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Pernod
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the mushroom caps. Sauté for about 3 minutes and turn over. Sauté the other side of the mushroom caps until cooked through. Remove to a plate, draining any liquid that has accumulated in the caps.
  2. Remove any woody part of the mushroom stems and chop finely. Return them to the sauté pan along with the chopped scallions. Add more olive oil if needed. Sauté until cooked through. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the pistachios, Swiss cheese, bread crumbs, sour cream, and Pernod. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. With a small spoon, fill the mushroom caps with the pistachio mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the grated Parmesan cheese, and place under a hot broiler until the mushrooms are heated through and the tops have browned.
  4. Serve immediately.

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ROASTED GOLDEN BEET SOUP WITH SOUR CREAM AND DILL

Root vegetables are making their mark on the garden scene as autumn begins to blend into winter. All the vendors at the farmers market have an abundance of beets. Even though beets are not among my favorites, it seems a shame not to give them a go. Bright red borscht seems an obvious choice, and for years we have made a clear beet soup that almost gleams. An alternative seemed to be in order. The other thing about red beets is that they stain everything they touch, including your GI tract.

Golden beets seemed like a good alternative choice, and so I bought a nice bunch at a recent farmers market. Even then, there are several choices: beet salad, Harvard beets, or beets and greens. Honestly, the consistency of cooked beets is not pleasing to me, so I opted for soup.

There are a couple of classic partners to beets: dill and sour cream. The recipe below combines those ingredients.

Bunch of golden beets from the farmers market

Bunch of golden beets from the farmers market

Roasted golden beet soup with sour cream and dill

Roasted golden beet soup with sour cream and dill

RECIPE

Roasted Golden Beet Soup with Sour Cream and Dill

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch golden beets, tops removed – about 4 to 5 medium size beets
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • water
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill fronds, snipped + more for garnish

Method

  1. Wash and dry the beets. Coat generously with vegetable oil and wrap individually in squares of aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil, and roast in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 350 for 30 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a kitchen fork. Remove from the oven, unwrap, and cool until they are easy to handle. The skin should slip off easily between your fingers. Cut the peeled beets into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over a medium flame, heat the oil and sweat the onions, covered, for 5 minutes until translucent and the juices have been released. Do not brown. Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two until the grains are translucent. Ad the chicken stock, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked and soft. Add water as needed if the soup is too thick.
  3. Add the beets and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg.
  4. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender or with a stick blender until smooth. For aded smoothness, you may pass the puree through a strainer or chinois. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the sour cream and dill. Serve hot or cold with a dollop of sour cream and more minced dill as garnish.

 

 

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PIMENTO CHEESE

For some strange reason, I developed a craving from my childhood – a pimento (an alteration of the Spanish word for pepper, pimiento) cheese sandwich. Interestingly enough, since then I have become aware that pimento cheese is popping up on more and more restaurant menus. The delicacy is borne of the Great Depression. It made a good substitute for PB&J and was cheap. Besides that, it came in little glasses stenciled with colorful embossed designs so that over time you could accumulate a whole set of juice glasses. In the South, pimento cheese sandwiches were the stuff of ladies luncheons. I have also heard that they are a tradition at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, but obviously less iconic than the green jacket.

For my lunch bag, the cheese was spread between two slices of white sandwich bread. For the fancy version, the crusts are removed and then the sandwiches are cut into fancy shapes and often garnished with watercress. Except in the South, all of that is of the 40s and 50s. The little glasses are still available, but they have lost their colorful embossing. In my local grocery store, one 5 ounce glass was priced at nearly five dollars. In the South, and probably other places, you can still buy pint containers from the chilled  dairy section at the super market.

All of that is mostly of historical interest. It is easy to make your own, and it is guaranteed to be tastier. On top of that, you can doctor it up any way you please.  The basic recipe calls for three ingredients: Cheddar cheese, bottled pimentos, and mayonnaise.  I’ve added chopped “snacker” peppers for crunch. These cute little peppers have only recently been showing up in my local market. I’ve also added sour cream and Spanish hot paprika.

Once you have your pimento cheese spread, you can keep it in the refrigerator for a while.  As well, if you get tired of sandwiches, you can use  the spread for stuffed celery – another 1950s classic – or whatever you can dream up including twice baked pimento cheese potatoes. You’ll have to find your juice glasses elsewhere.

RECIPES

Pimento Cheese Spread

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ pound Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 3 miniature eating peppers, seeded and diced finely
  • 4 ounces (1 jar)  diced pimento, drained
  • 1/3 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon hot paprika
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients
  2. Mix thoroughly so that the cheese is evenly distributed
  3. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more

Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • pimento cheese spread
  • 2 green scallions, slices, including green tops
  • 2 slices bacon, fried until crisp, crumbled

Method

  1. Pierce the potato in several places with a sharp fork. Coat with the butter, and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 350° F for 75 minutes.
  2. When the potato is baked, remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack.
  3. Cut the potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato flesh, leaving a ¼ inch shell and being careful not to break the skin of the potato.
  4. In a small bowl, mash the potato flesh until smooth. Add an equal amount of pimento cheese spread and mix to combine.
  5. Stir in the scallions and bacon.
  6. Divide the mixture in half and pack into the potato shells.
  7. Return the stuffed potatoes to the middle of the oven at 400°F for 15 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and continue to broil the potatoes until the tops are well browned – about another 2 minutes or so.
  8. Serve immediately while still warm. Serves two.

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DEVILED QUAIL EGGS

There is a new international grocery store in town. It is filled with some of the most interesting and amazing ingredients – octopus tentacles, duck feet, Asian fresh fruit, etc., etc. During a recent visit, I noticed sitting in the cooler were little packages of 10 quail eggs each. The eggs were so beautifully speckled and tiny that I couldn’t resist buying them even though I didn’t have any idea what to do with them. There are recipes on the internet for fried quail eggs and Scotch quail eggs, but both of those suggestions seemed like a waste of a unique ingredient. My thought was to wait until our daughter the chef came to visit and have her give me a cooking lesson. So I did. She suggested deviled eggs as being easy to do, very tasty, and insurance that the eggs would be well cooked and safe to eat. (She’s in the middle of her pregnancy.) That sounded like a plan, and I am glad that I followed her suggestion. In the end we cooked them up for the rest of the family so we didn’t worry about presentation. There was no time for that before the eggs disappeared. They were cute and delicious, and Sarah’s recipe is worth modifying for conventional deviled chicken eggs.

RECIPE

Deviled Quail Eggs

Ingredients

  • 10 fresh quail eggs
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh dill fronds

Method

  1. Place the eggs in a strainer or steaming basket. Lower into a small pan filled with boiling water. Reduce the heat under the pan to the lowest possible level and cook the eggs in the hot, not boiling, water for 4 minutes if you are at sea level and 6 minutes if you are in Santa Fe (7,000 feet). Discard any eggs that float to the surface when you put them in the water as that indicates they may be spoiled
  2. Remove the eggs from the hot water and immediately plunge into ice water.  Cool until still slightly warm. Peeling them will be easier while they are a little warm. Crack the shells all over with the back of a teaspoon, and peel under a stream of running water.
  3. Using a cheese wire, cut the eggs in half lengthwise. You can use a knife, but it must be razor-sharp or you will be disappointed with your effort.
  4. Remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl with the mustard, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Using a dinner fork, mash the ingredients together until they form a smooth paste. Adjust the seasoning. If you wish, you can press the mixture through a tea strainer to make it even smoother.
  5. Load the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a small point. Pipe the mixture into the empty egg white cases. Decorate with a small frond of fresh dill.

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FAJITAS – HIGH SEASON IN SANTA FÉ

It is clearly high season in Santa Fé. Nearly everyone has visitors, and tourists jam the Plaza. Our own first visitors were two of our grandchildren, and so we tried to have kid-friendly meals that they could help make. When their parents came to visit and pick up their kids, we planned an easy meal for their arrival. We needed something that could wait in case their plane was late. Fajitas came to mind, so I started getting them ready the day before their arrival. The first thing to do was to trim and marinate the skirt steak. Skirt steak, called arracheras  by Mexican cooks, is actually the diaphragm muscle which separates the chest and abdominal cavities. It is well-flavored but tough, so it has to be prepared to make it tender. The first thing to do is to strip off the pleura and peritoneum (the linings of the chest and abdominal cavities respectively). That is an easy but necessary step, using a sharp, pointed knife to cut at  the demarcation line between the steak and the fibrous linings. An overnight soak in marinade, followed by grilling over hot coals are additional steps to create a tender meat for the fajitas. I got the recipe for the tequila marinade from The Sunset Southwest Cook Book (Lane Publishing Co., Menlo Park, CA, 1987, p. 45). If you don’t want to use tequila, just substitute more lime juice.

I had to deal with some of the food dislikes within the family. Some don’t like onions or even things that touch onions. Some can’t tolerate piquant chiles because of food sensitivities. Some don’t like avocados. Because of all these variables, I grilled the onions separately from the meat. Instead of classic pico de gallo (rooster’s beak), I made what I call pico de gallina (hen’s beak) without the jalapeños. I omitted the guacamole, but I would encourage you to include it in your choices of fillings.

In the end, everyone seemed to enjoy the modified fajitas.

The next day  we became inveterate tourists, trying to pack in as many events as possible.

There are lots of things to choose from: the Santa Fé Opera is high on the list, the Chamber Music Festival, dancing on the Plaza, riding the Rail Runner train, visiting the Bandelier ruins, hiking in the mountains, visiting the Shidoni Foundry, swimming at the community center, visiting the many museums, and eating, eating, eating.

The first day of the visit we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Babaluu’s Cocina Cubana, a quirky place away from town with great Cuban food. My daughter and I went to Whole Foods for the picnic for our tailgate dinner that evening at the opera. The opera tailgate is totally unlike the ones you may have attended at a football game. People show up in tuxedos and long gowns with candelabra, white tablecloths, fancy silver, and elaborate food on tables in the middle of the parking lot. Years ago we spent hours getting ready a fancy feast, but we now just go to the market for wine and food.

Following our festive meal, some of us went to the opening of La Traviata. It was our twelve-year-old granddaughter’s first opera and she was excited. She watched intently to the end and shed a few tears when Violetta died.

The next day my wife and I visited the Opera Ranch, the grounds of the Santa Fé Opera where singers, musicians, and technicians gather, practice, and enjoy the beauty of the area. Afterward we had lunch at the Tesuque (Te-su’-kay) Village Market, a combination country store, wine shop, gourmet bakery, and rustic café serving typical Northern New Mexico meals like huevos rancheros and green chile cheeseburgers.  It is very popular with locals.

The kids enjoyed the Shidoni Foundry where bronze sculptures are cast on commission from all over the world. The sculpture garden is filled with some amazing, interesting, and beautiful pieces. The foundry is near the end of Bishop’s Lodge Road, named after Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, a Frenchman who built a French-styled cathedral on the plaza of very Spanish/Mexican Santa Fé. He had a beautiful summer retreat along the road; the retreat has subsequently become a posh resort.  The archbishop was also the model for  the protagonist in Willa Cather’s famous novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop.

The kids and their parents rode the Rail Runner train. We shopped on the Plaza. We took a short hike in the mountains until we retreated in a thunderstorm. We had another great meal at another favorite restaurant,  Taberna La Boca. Finally my daughter made her famous “Law School Chicken” at the kids’ request. My granddaughter specifically forbade me from writing about “their secret family recipe.”

Then time ran out, and the visit was over.

RECIPES

Tequila Marinade

Ingredients

  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup tequila (may substitute lime juice)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dry Mexican oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Set aside until ready to marinate skirt steak

Pico de Gallina

Ingredients

  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use

Fajitas

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of membranes
  • 1 batch tequila marinade (recipe above)
  • 3 bell peppers (red, yellow, or green) seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 1 dozen large flour tortillas
  • 1 batch pico de gallina (recipe above)
  • sour cream

Method

  1. Combine the steak and marinade in a plastic zip bag. Refrigerate overnight, turning frequently to coat the steak on all sides.
  2. When you are ready to cook the fajitas, prepare a hot fire in either a charcoal or gas grill.
  3. Place the steak over the hot fire.  Grill for about 7 minutes. Then turn over and grill for an additional 7 minutes. Baste frequently with reserved marinade.
  4. Meanwhile, place the sliced peppers and onions in a fire-proof grilling basket and place on the grill. Stir or turn occasionally until caramelized on all sides.
  5. When the steak is done, transfer to a cutting board. Arrange the grilled vegetables in a serving bowl.
  6. Rest the steak, covered with aluminum foil for 5 minutes before slicing thinly on the bias.
  7. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas.
  8. Invite each diner to make his or her own fajita with sliced steak and grilled vegetables on a warmed tortilla. Add pico de gallina and/or sour cream as desired.
  9. In a group that is not avocado-averse, fresh guacamole is a welcome addition.
  10. Roll and eat.

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