Spicy Cognac-Mushroom Rice

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I’m throwing caution to the wind this holiday season and tossing my tried and true recipes out the window.  Well, at least a few of them.  So, out goes the usual wild rice side dish and in it’s place I’m going to add a whole lot more flavor:

Spicy Cognac-Mushroom Rice

  • 4 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 4 Cups Cooked White Rice
  • 1 – 26.5 oz Can Black Beans (drained)
  • 12 oz Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 12 oz Sliced Portobello Mushrooms
  • 8 TBLS (1 Stick) Butter
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 1 – 4oz Can Diced Jalapeno Peppers (drained)
  • 1/2 Cup Cognac
  • 3 TBLS Honey
  • 2 TBLS Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Freshly Ground Sea Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

Prepare your rice using whatever method you prefer.  I prefer my pressure cooker so I can combine the white and brown rice and do it all at once, but you can do it on the stovetop, use your rice cooker or even do it in your microwave if you prefer.

  1. Using a large skillet, I use my cast iron skillet, melt your butter.
  2. Add in the sliced mushrooms and let brown, stirring, for 10 minutes.
  3. Next add the onion, jalapeño, salt and pepper and let cook for another two minutes.mush1
  4. Add the honey and stir until it’s well incorporated.
  5. Add the cognac and let reduce for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the soy sauce and stir, then add the drained black beans.
  7. Cook for another 5 minutes over low heat until the liquid thickens a bit.
  8. Pour over the rice in the large bowl.
  9. Stir together and then season with more salt and pepper to taste if needed
  10. Pour rice into a serving dish – I am using a disposable 9 x 13 covered cake pan with a lid for mess free transport.

I am using my unsuspecting friends at tomorrow’s USC homecoming tailgate as guinea pigs.  We are deep frying Duck and this seemed like a good way to do a test run.

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Handy Guide To Chili Peppers

chile-primer-various-peppersMy husband and some of my friends see peppers as a challenge.  The hotter the better.  They love to burn the heck out of their mouths and sweat & suffer afterward.

Not me.  I like my food spicy, but I still like the ability to taste and enjoy my food after I feel the burn.  Not the “Bern” that Bernie Sanders supporters feel 😉 , but the burn that a zip of spicy pepper adds to a dish.

Peppers, like salt, acid and fat, are essential flavor building blocks upon which dishes are built.  In an article at www.bonappetit.com, Amiel Stanek encourages readers to “tease out” the subtle nuances of spice in the season’s crop of peppers using some very specific techniques.  As someone who likes the taste, but not necessarily the need for a fire extinguisher after a bite, I appreciate the guidance.

Stanek reminds home cooks that peppers aren’t just spicy.  They’re also flavor bombs hiding hints of fruitiness, floral notes, earthiness, and “funk.”  To begin to experiment with these hidden flavors, a cook must first work on mellowing the pepper’s spice a bit:

  1. Remove the seeds – Using a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, remove the seed pod beneath the stem and white membranes that hold the rest of the seeds within.
  2. Char – You can do this whole on the grill, under the broiler, or directly on a stovetop gas burner and peel off the burnt layer before seeding them.
  3. Soak – Capsaicin, the compound that makes a pepper hot, is alcohol soluble. When using the hottest peppers, remove membranes and seeds, muddle, and soak in vodka for anywhere from a few hours up to a couple of days.

For a great, printable reference of the varied types of peppers and their levels of spiciness, from mild to “grab a fire extinguisher,” click on this link.

A recipe I shared earlier this year was for one of my favorite cocktail hour snacks on steak and salad night:  Blistered Shishito Peppers.  Take my advice and make a double batch!  These suckers are addicting and one batch is never enough.  If you have any left, put them in a re-sealable container or zip bag and toss in the refrigerator.  These are easily revived in a hot pan with a splash of olive oil a day or two later.

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Roasted Jalapeno Avocado Bacon Pie

Because Thursday is the slowest day at my “real job” I usually have time to fool around in the kitchen to try to create a new dish to serve for dinner.  This week was no different except that I needed to come up with something healthy because I am (BOO – HISSdieting i.e., not eating anything that even resembles Halloween candy or that I can pick up at a drive-thru window, have delivered to my front door, or comes out of a can or box.  No Bueno!

jabpieings Determined to stay on track, into the kitchen I went to make a healthy meal that would taste good, keep me full and make my digestion work hard (and burn calories) all night long.

aha-cartoonHappily I found some of my favorite spicy, salty, satisfying flavors there!  Bacon, fresh jalapenos, a forgotten Roma tomato (thankfully still firm), some ripe avocados from my backyard, green onions, eggs, and a wedge of aged gouda.  AHA Moment: I’d eat breakfast for dinner!

Roasted Jalapeno Avocado Bacon Tortilla Pie

  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sour Cream
  • 4 Slices of Bacon (cooked crisp, drained, cooled and chopped)
  • 3 Green Onions
  • 1/2 of 1 Large Roma Tomato
  • 7 Corn Tortillas
  • 1 Medium Avocado
  • 1 Cup Shredded Aged Gouda Cheese
  • 1 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Freshly Ground Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9.5″ Pyrex pie plate with the Olive Oil Spray.

In a small non-stick frying pan heat each of the tortillas until just lightly browned on both sides.  Lay one in the center on the bottom and then layer the rest around the pan overlapping to make sure there is a “crust like” coverage.

In the same pan roast the whole jalapenos until the skin bubbles and begins to blacken.  If you want a bit less spice, remove the seeds and stem first.  Combine both of the cheeses: sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the bottom of the tortilla crust.  When peppers are roasted, chop them and scatter over the first cheese layer.

Chop and quickly dry saute’ the whites only of the green onions (chop the greens and set aside) and the Roma tomato with a bit of salt & pepper.  Distribute the onion/tomato mixture over the jalapenos then cover with 1/2 of the remaining cheese.

Chop the avocado then layer it with the bacon over the second cheese layer.

Mix the 4 eggs and the sour cream until well combined and beginning to thicken.  Add cracked salt and pepper then pour carefully over the pie surface taking care not to overflow the edges of the exposed tortillas on the sides. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and put pie pan in the center of the pre-heated oven.  Bake 40-45 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown and a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out with no egg mixture on it and center is cooked through.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing into wedges to serve.  Top each wedge with the reserved chopped green onions.

jabpie2     jabpie3     jabpie4

To make this a complete meal serve with a salad of Romaine, the reserved 1/2 of the tomato, and any other fresh produce you’d like (I chop a green apple, some jicama, and add a shredded carrot) then dress lightly with olive oil, combined with salt, pepper and some lemon juice to keep it healthy.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to:  recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. If so, visit my This Girl Loves To Eat community at:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood