There are some things that you just have to learn the hard way. And I have had two hard lessons. And the difficulties I have had with some of my latest recipes have to do with living at an altitude of 8600 plus. Most of what I prepare turn out fine. Unless you have lived here a long time, and already know these things, you are bound to run into trouble once in awhile.
First of all, I had a great success as far as Jonathan was concerned. The recipe he loved was the Terra-Cotta Stock. The stocks call for a lot of vegetables and different ingredients but once it is cooked you strain all the solids and only have the broth remaining. This broth called for red onion, red pepper, a poblano chili (looks like a large flat green pepper), garlic, chili peppers, cumin, paprika, oregano, tomatoes and fresh cilantro. When Jonathan had his first taste, he let out a holler and said he loved it! It was so funny! My dramatic youngest was waving his arms and carrying on with every bite. He said it was a 10+! Caleb wasn’t as impressed but thought it was fine and gave it an 8. I added slices of avocado, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips which made the soup fabulous. Jonathan squawked about the avocado but decided he liked it in the soup after all! You have to be happy as a mom when your child likes your recipes this much!!
Then the disaster. I was really looking forward to the next recipe, Mixed Nut and Flax Seed Baklava. This recipe called for filo bread which I had never heard of. I found it in the freezer section at Whole Foods and it is dough that is rolled paper thin. There are multiple layers in a pound and you actually butter each layer, one by one, to HOPEFULLY have a wonderful flaky wonder! The recipe also called for a lot of cashews, walnuts, pistachios and flax seeds. $$$$ It also called for a very unusual ingredient, rosewater. You can wear it as a perfume or eat it! Natural food, the wonder of it all! The baklava turned out fine, looked great. The problem was the topping which was just lemon sugar water that was supposed to be boiled until a certain candy stage. That doesn’t happen in my altitude without some adjustments (which I was unaware of). I boiled it and boiled it and it turned brown and STILL was not at the right stage. I went ahead and poured it on the pastry hoping that by a miracle it would turn out fine. It was hard and terrible! It didn’t really taste all that bad, but it had too much of a burnt sugar flavor. Unfortunately, I had to toss it and I forgot to take a picture in my discouragement. I’m over it now!
Then Lesson #2! My next recipe was Smoky Maple Baked Beans. How difficult can baked beans be anyway? This recipe called for a pound of dried great northern beans along with the Honey Jalapeno Barbeque Sauce mentioned on a previous blog. It also called for onion, ginger, chipotle peppers, bacon bits, maple syrup, molasses, apple juice, and tomato puree. I soaked the beans and after the proper soaking time, I drained them and added all these wonderful ingredients in anticipation of some great beans! I expected them to be done around 7 p.m. At 7 they were still pretty crunchy. So, I continued to cook them. At 9 p.m. they were still pretty crunchy! At 11:00 p.m. they were still pretty crunchy!!! (I, of course, had to fix something else for supper!) So, in my despair I decided to cook them ALL night. At 8:00 a.m. they were still pretty crunchy!!! No way! So, I went to the internet and discovered a website that explained that if you live higher than 7300 ft. or so, forget dried beans!!!!! So, I drained the beans and kept the liquid, bought some canned northern beans and we finally had them the following night. I added slices of organic chicken hot dogs and Caleb really liked them! Jonathan is not real fond of beans but ate a few. Caleb gave it a 10, Jonathan a 6. I thought they were great and gave them a 10 as well.
I had a little break from the recipes as it has been very busy and I haven’t had as much time to cook. So, today I was finally able to fix 2 new recipes for lunch. The first one I prepared was another stock, Aromatic Broth. It is a broth that is great for you when you are sick with a cold or such. It called for onion, sweet potato, tomato, garlic, ginger, red chili flakes, lemongrass (new to me, cut my finger trying to mince it, it’s hard!), and parsley. This soup wasn’t real great for lunch. The boys described it as spicy water! It was a good thing it wasn’t a hit as I messed up! You drain the solids out of the broth, as I mentioned before. So, I drained most of the broth right down the sink before I realized I was keeping the broth and not the vegetables! Thankfully, we had a good portion to try. None of us wanted more than a few tastes. It would be a great detox broth though as it contains alot of parsley which is a strong detoxing veggie.
Then I made Mediterranean Vegetable Wraps. Wow! Another great wrap! This is a crispy and crunchy Greek salad surrounded with creamy hummus. I oohed and awed all the way through my wrap. I will definitely make this again. With this wrap you begin with a flour tortilla and spread your favorite hummus (I made the Black Bean Hummus, love it!), fresh spinach leaves spread on the hummus, and then topped with sliced cucumber, tomato and red onion. This recipe also called for artichoke quarters, my first time to have these. They are very tasty and add a lot to a wrap! The last two ingredients I added were Kalamata olives and crumbled feta goat cheese.
Caleb was not anticipating this lunch once he saw all the veggies I placed in the wrap. But his first bite was surprising and he gave the wrap a 9! Jonathan just couldn’t get into it, though. He still ate most of it, but we had a near gagging incident part way through, again. But I am proud of him for eating most of it and being such a good sport! I gave the wrap a 10+!
Well, that is all the recipes I have made so far. I have two recipes I am going to include with this post by request!
Couscous Cakes with Mint and Red Pepper
1 1/2 C dried couscous
1/8 C plus 1 TBLS olive oil
2 C water
1/2 cup minced red pepper
1/2 cup minced green pepper
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
1/4 C minced fresh mint leaves
1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 C crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. salt
1 C yellow cornmeal
Vegetable or olive oil for spraying pan
Place the couscous, 1 TBLS of the olive oil, and water in a large sauce pot, bring to a boil, stir well, and remove the pot from the heat. Cover the couscous tightly and allow it to reconstitute for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large saute pan, add the peppers, onion, garlic, lemon pepper, and Italian herbs, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Place the mixture in a large bowl. Add the plumped couscous, mint, flour, and eggs; mix well. The mixture should stick together when pressed with the back of a spoon. Stir in the feta cheese and peas. Season with the salt.
Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes before forming into cakes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using an 8-ounce scoop as a measure, form the mixture into 10 (1/2 inch thick) slightly flattened cakes. When ready to cook, lightly dust the cakes with the cornmeal. Spray the oil in a large nonstick saute pan. Lightly brown the cakes, about 2 minutes per side, and then transfer them to a large baking pan. Bake in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes.
Fettuccine with Garlic, Parsley, and Parmesan
1 pound fettuccine
1/4 C olive oil
12 cloves garlic
3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 C minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. lemon pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine, and cook until the pasta is al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, rinse it in cold water, drain well, and reserve.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick saute pan. Add the garlic cloves and saute them very gently, turning often for 4 minutes, until light golden brown and softened. Remove the garlic cloves from the pan, and reserve. Add the drained pasta to the pan, and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, until warmed through. Add the browned garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and lemon pepper, and toss the pasta well to combine.
Cooking healthy is so much fun!
Until the next recipe…