Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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This sensational sauce is exactly that because of it’s versatility. Use it on huevos rancheros, add it to chicken enchiladas, or simmer browned, cubed, pork in it, for a scrumptious Mexican stew served over rice. This recipe yields 3 cups of sauce, so if you want less, just cut it in half.

Ingredients:

6 cups tomatillos

1 bunch fresh cilantro, or about 1 1/2 cups, washed

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 large Spanish onion, peeled, cut into quarters

2 serrano peppers, stems removed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Place the tomatillos in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, or until the papery skins become loose. Remove from heat and drain.Cool and remove the skins. Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, cilantro, serranos, salt and pepper into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour the sauce into a saucepan, and simmer over low heat 30 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use in a favorite recipe, or refrigerate for later use. I’ve found that this sauce doesn’t freeze particularly well, but keeps well, refrigerated, for several weeks.

Yield: 3 cups sauce

Huevos Rancheros with Salsa Verde and Refried Black Beans

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This Mexican breakfast is utterly delicious and a cinch to make, if you have a few of the essentials on hand. By keeping a supply of corn tortillas in the freezer, and canned refried black beans and salsa verde in your pantry, you’ll be able to whip these up in no time, and you’ll be oh so happy as a result. Don’t feel as though you must limit it to just a breakfast food, as it makes for a yummy lunch or simple dinner as well. I prefer home made salsa verde over a bottled or canned version, but the store bought stuff will do. I’ll be posting a recipe for the salsa verde post haste.

Ingredients:

2 corn tortillas

1/2 cup well seasoned, canned refried black beans( add a little sauteed, minced onion, toasted, ground cumin seeds and a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste).

1/2 cup salsa verde

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 eggs

1/4 cup grated cheddar or queso fresca, crumbled

fresh cilantro and sliced avocado for toppings

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat the seasoned, refried beans. Do the same with the salsa.

Place the tortillas in a large non stick skillet. Cook over medium heat, just until heated through. 

Fry the eggs in the olive oil.Season with salt and pepper. Spread the tortillas with the refried beans. Top each tortilla with an egg. Pour the hot salsa over the eggs. Sprinkle with the cheese and garnish with cilantro and avocado slices.Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings

Heartwarming Lentil Soup

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There was a time, long ago and far away, when Kitchenclown’s sister, Catherine, refused to share things with her punk sister, moi. We’re all grown up now, and one of the things I love about my dear sister, is the fact that now she willingly shares her secrets, and triumphs in the kitchen. Like me, she is a fanatical foodie , and a fabulous cook to boot! So, when she called me the other day, raving on about this soup, I asked if she would share. She happily obliged, and I immediately marched my clownish self into the kitchen to make a pot of this magic, and to see if it was worthy of the incessant raves. I’m happy to report that her raves were warranted. She has yet to fail me, because she definitely knows a good thing when she sinks her fangs into it! So, be kind and share this outstanding soup with familly and friends on a cold winter’s day. You will warm their hearts and they will love you for it! Thank you, thank you, thank you dearest Catherine, for warming mine!

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

8 to 12 oz. mushroons, sliced

1 cup dried French lentils

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

4 to 5 cups home made chicken stock

3 cups dark leafy greens, such as spinach or swiss chard, roughly chopped

1/2 cup flat-leafed Italian parsley, minced

1 to 2 Tablespoons toasted cumin seeds, ground. ( I used almost 2, because I’m a cumin junkie).

1 generous teaspoon ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

1 1/2 cups diced potatoes, shredded chicken, sliced Italian sausage, or turkey kielbasa.

Directions:

Saute onions and carrots in oil until tender, 8-10 minutes.Add garlic and mushrooms, and saute another 6 to 8 minutes. Add  cumin , coriander, salt, and pepper and saute 2 more minutes.Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, lentils, parsley, spinach or swiss chard, and any of the optional ingredients you choose to add. Continue to simmer, over low heat, stirring often, until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings Add more stock, if you prefer a thinner version. Toss in a loaf of crusty, cheesey garlic bread, and be prepared to be enamoured! Pour into warmed soup bowls and hunker down by the fire! Absolutely warming, delicious, and cuddly. Just like a winter food partner should be.

Yield: 6 healthy servings

Pasta Carbonara

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This pasta dish, made with bacon and eggs, is one I yearn for in my dreams! The heat of the pasta cooks the eggs, yielding a rich, wonderful sauce. If you’ve never had it, or tried making it, RUN, don’t walk, into your kitchen, and do so this very minute. It’s comforting! It’s cheap! It’s scrumptious! So get in there and give it a go! You’ll end up a happier person…trust me on this. Kitchenclown never lies!!!!

Ingredients:

8 oz. bacon, or pancetta cut into small pieces

1 lb. pasta…spaghetti, linguini, or fettucine all work.

2 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 small white onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup dry white wine

2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese, or a mixture of both.

Freshly ground black pepper

salt, to taste

Directions: In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk  the cheese into the eggs and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is warming, fry the bacon in a medium sized skillet. Drain on paper towels and add to the bowl with eggs and cheese. Pour off the bacon grease, and add the butter and olive oil to the same pan. Add the onions , garlic and hot pepper flakes to the the oil, and cook over medium heat, just until the onions are translucent, stirring often. Add the wine, and continue cooking until it has reduced by half. Cook the pasta, until just done. Drain and immediately add it to the eggs, bacon, and cheese. Toss well and add the onions and garlic. Toss again and add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately .Go on…I dare ya!

Yield: 4 servings

Positively Perfect Pad Thai

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Pad Thai…my, oh my! This Thai noodle dish is a classic, and loved by all who have had the experience of tasting a really well prepared version. There are many variations, but I’m including chicken and shrimp in this one, because they happen to be my personal favorites. Feel free to substitute pork, for the chicken and shrimp, or tofu, if you prefer a vegetarian version. Give it a go…your tastebuds will be eternally grateful! .

Ingredients:

3/4  pound rice stick noodles

3 chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch strips

1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped in half

1/2 cup fish sauce (nam pla)

1/3 cup sugar, plus 3 Tbs.

!/2 cup white vinegar

2 Tbs. tamarind paste

1/4 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon paprika

2 Tbs. soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups mung bean sprouts

2 serranos, finely minced

8 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped

2 limes, juiced

4 limes, cut into wedges for garnish

1/4 cup finely minced cilantro( optional, but recommended)

Directions:

Place the noodles in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over them and let soak about 12 minutes. Do not over soak them. You want slightly firm noodles. Drain in a colander.

Combine the sugar, fish sauce, ketchup, paprika, tamarind paste,vinegar and soy sauce in a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved..

In a large wok, or saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup oil over high heat. When hot, add the garlic and chicken. When the chicken looks almost done, add the shrimp and continue cooking, stirring often, just until the shrimp turn pink. Add the noodles and toss very, very gently.

In a separate, large saucepan, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Add the beaten eggs, and cook over medium heat just until the eggs are set. Do not stir…simply swirl them until set. Remove and slice into strips. Add to the noodles, along with the scallions and bean sprouts.

Bring the sauce to a boil, and add the minced serranos and lime juice to it.Remove from heat and pour over the noodle mixture. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring very gently, so as not to break up the noodles. Remove from heat and place on a large serving platter. Sprinkle peanuts over all, and garnish with lime wedges and cilantro.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Korean Pancakes

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These Asian pancakes are ridiculously easy to whip up, and make a great snack, lunch, or light dinner. Throw whatever you’ve got a hankerin’ for into the batter. I threw mushrooms in mine, because that’s what I had on hand, but feel free to experiment with other vegetables, or cooked chicken, pork or shrimp. Use your imagination, but whatever you do, don’t skip the scallions! Invite a friend over. Pour the sake. Whip these up. Your friend will think you’re brilliant!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup flour

4 scallions, finely sliced

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sliced mushrooms ( I used cremini and oyster)

1 to 2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

For the sauce:

1/8 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup seasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Directions: Make the sauce first, by putting the vinegar, soy sauce, grated ginger and sesame oil into a small dipping bowl. Set aside. To make the pancake batter pour the water into a small bowl. Add the flour and mix well, until you have a batter-like consistency. Mix in the beaten egg, along with the salt, the teaspoon of soy sauce, scallions, and mushrooms. Mix well.  Heat the canola oil, over medium heat, in an eight inch non stick skillet. When the oil is hot pour half the batter into the oil. Cook about two to three minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully flip the pancake over and cook the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter. Remove the pancakes, when cooked, to a cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve along with the dipping sauce.

Yield: 2  8 inch pancakes

Indian Chicken Curry

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On a recent trip to London, KC’s mom was kind enough to bring back curry powder for me, which she purchased from an Indian spice shop. The clerk, selling her the curry powder, warned her in advance, “Deece won ees berrie, berrie hot!”  Thank you kind clerk, whoever you are, for the warning! Kitchenclown would normally add 3 to 5 Tablespoons of curry powder to this chicken curry, but having been warned of the incendiary quality of this particular gunpowder, I decided to sneak it in, one teaspoon at a time. Praise Jesus, or any   Indian God or Goddess…it proved to be the right move! That clerk sure knows his spices, and I’m very happy with the results, of sneaking the powder in, bit by bit. Unfortunately, the original box( that the curry powder arrived in) was tossed in the trash, making it impossible to identify the brand. All I know, is that it’s orange, reddish colour conjures up images of heat and flames, which is  just how hot and fiery your mouth will feel, if you go overboard with this stuff!   Proceed with caution,( if you get your hands on this variety), and you will have a fabulous feast awaiting you!

Ingredients:

1 4 1/2 to 5 lb. chicken

3 Tablespoons Vegetable oil

2 cups peeled apples, cut into small chunks

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, and diced

!/4 cup tomato sauce

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon garam masala, plus !/2 teaspoon for the chicken

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3 heaping Tablespoons mango chutney

1 1/4 teaspoons hot curry powder, plus 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder (If you don’t have the hot variety, start with 3 Tablespoons of regular yellow curry powder, and add more, if you like.)

3 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup chicken stock, or water, for thinning the sauce.

Condiments for topping the curry:

Toasted coconut

Bananas, sliced and sauteed in butter

Crumbled bacon

Chopped hard boiled egg

Golden raisins

Scallions, finely minced

Roasted, salted peanuts, finely chopped

Mango chutney

Directions:  Rub the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala and sea salt. Place in a 350 degree, preheated oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until thoroughly cooked. The legs will wobble free easily, and the juices will run clear, when cooked through. Remove the flesh from the bones and cut into bite sized pieces. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, over medium- low heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and ginger and cook, stirring often until the onion becomes translucent. Add the chopped tomato and tomato sauce, along with the coconut milk. Add the turmeric, garam masala, cinnamon, brown sugar, sea salt,  curry powder, chutney and cream,and continue to cook over low heat, stirring often. As the sauce starts to thicken, add the apples and raisins, and slowly add the chicken stock, or water to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pan, and becoming too thick.Continue to cook for about 25 minutes, stirring often. Add more chicken stock, or water, if needed. Add the chicken to the sauce, give it a good stir and cook a few minutes,  until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Remove bay leaves and serve over basmati or jasmine rice. Place the condiments in individual bowls and let your guests have fun, topping it all off with their own favorites. Throw in some garlicky naan,  cucumber raita and a little Ravi Shankar, and hunker down for a  fabulous feast. Be prepared, very prepared, for the raves you will surely receive!

Yield: 4 generous servings