Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chicken Taquitos with Guacamole Puree


If we're going to be honest, these chicken taquitos are more like miniature chicken chimichangas. They are wrapped in flour tortillas with the ends tucked in, as opposed to open-ended corn tortilla cigars. They may fall into the chimichanga family, but since their size is smaller I can see why they'd be referred to as taquitos.

Semantics aside, the resulting dish is seriously delicious. I tweaked mine a couple ways from the original version. First, I used "portion control" wheat tortillas from Whole Foods instead of the soft taco sized flour tortillas. I think this was a mistake on my part, as the tortillas were slightly stiffer than a nice, soft flour tortilla, and it was challenging to tuck in the ends properly.

I also opted to bake mine instead of frying them. This was probably a good idea since my ends weren't tucked in very well, and some of the filling leaked. The crust got pretty crispy even in the oven, and this was an easy and less-messy (and less-fattening) way to prepare this dish.


The filling is so yummy, with gooey cheese, and nicely seasoned ground chicken making up the bulk. The guacamole puree is also excellent. It's the perfect consistency for dipping. Please note, however, that by adding tomato to this pureed guacamole you will automatically lose the vibrant green color, so even if your avocado is perfectly fresh, it will get a bit muddled from the tomato.

My sister and I polished off all 6 of these taquitos in one sitting while watching football, so if you plan to share you may want to plan a larger menu than just these. They are pretty irresistible, so I'd expect them to go fast either way!

Chicken Taquitos with Guacamole Puree
Makes 6 taquitos
(From Share)

Guacamole Sauce:
1 ripe Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 Roma (plum) tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (I used some ground coriander instead)
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeno
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken Filling:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces ground chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded white cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 (6-inch) taco-sized flour tortillas (standard flour tortillas, not the puffy soft taco variety) (I used 7-inch "portion control" wheat tortillas from Whole Foods, which were a little too dry and awkward to wrap; I wouldn't use them again)
Vegetable or canola oil, for shallow-frying

To make the guacamole sauce: Puree all of the ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a food processor to make a smooth sauce. This smooth guacamole is easier to use as a dip than the chunky style. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressing directly on the guacamole, and refrigerate. The guacamole can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.

To make the filling: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken and cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat with the side of the spoon, until the chicken loses its raw look, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the sugar, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir the cheese into the warm mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool completely. The filling can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

For each taquito, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the filling in a strip at the bottom third of a tortilla, leaving about 1/2-inch border at the right and left sides. Fold in the sides, then roll up the tortilla from the bottom to enclose the filling, closing the open end with a toothpick. Be sure that the ends are tucked in and the filling is not exposed. Transfer the taquitos, seam side down, to a rimmed baking sheet and loosely cover with plastic wrap. The taquitos can be refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a wire cake rack.

Pour enough oil to come 1/2 inch up the sides of a large deep skillet and heat over high heat to 350 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. In batches, add the taquitos and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the wire rack and keep warm in the oven while frying the remaining taquitos. (Alternatively, I placed my taquitos on a baking sheet, brushed the tops and sides with oil, and baked them at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes until crispy).

Place the guacamole in a small serving bowl. Cut the taquito in thirds crosswise (seriously not necessary). Arrange taquitos on a platter, and serve immediately, allowing guests to add the sauce to their plates as desired for dipping.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hummingbird Pie


My pie adventure continues! You may recall that earlier this year I resolved to bake at least one pie a month for the rest of the year, and likely beyond. So far, I'm still going strong. I haven't posted every single pie I've made this year, although I've definitely posted a few of the highlights along the way.

One of my favorite summer fruit pies by far was this Blueberry Nectarine Pie. Meanwhile one that I fell in love with around the holidays last year (and may make again this year) was this luscious Peppermint Mousse Black Bottom Pie. There were so many other delicious pies, but these are a couple of the more memorable ones over the past 12 months.

I recently made another pie that falls at the top of my love list. It sounds like a peculiar combination, but just trust me on this. This Hummingbird Pie is based on a classic Southern cake by the same name.

The filling is comprised of diced pineapple, sliced bananas, chopped dried apricots, brown sugar, rum, and spices. It honestly sounds more tropical than Southern from the get go.

The filling is topped with a coconut pecan crumb, which continues the tropical theme with the coconut but adds just the right amount of Southern flair with a healthy dose of pecans.

Before baking

After baking

Since none of these pie ingredients are seasonal (the key ingredients grow in the tropics, not in my backyard), this is a great year-round pie recipe!

Seriously, I can't stress enough how absolutely fantastic this pie is. I'm a fan of Hummingbird Cake and now I'm an even bigger fan of Hummingbird Pie. This is definitely a pie I will be making again.

Hummingbird Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
(From Magpie)

Coconut Pecan Crumb:
1/4 cup (20 g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (62 g) all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons (56 g) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground or freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of fine salt
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup (20 g) pecan pieces
1/2 cup (57 g) sweetened coconut flakes

1/2 recipe Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust, chilled overnight
1/2 cup (96 g) packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1 small pineapple, cored, peeled, and cut into half-inch pieces (3 cups)
2 bananas, peeled and cut into quarter-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup (42 g) diced dried apricots
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Jamaican rum
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

For the coconut pecan crumb: Use a food processor to grind the oats, pulsing the machine until the oats resemble coarse cornmeal.

Whisk the ground oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and mix with your fingers or a fork until small clumps form. Add the pecans and coconut and mix lightly. Chill the crumb for 15 minutes before topping the pie.

For the pie: Lightly flour a smooth work surface and a rolling pin.

Take a chilled disk of dough out of the fridge. Give it a couple of firm squeezes just to say hello, then unwrap it and set it on the floured work surface.

Set the pin crosswise on the dough and press down firmly, making a nice deep channel across the full width of the disk. Turn the disk 180 degrees and repeat, making a second indentation, forming a plus sign.

Use your rolling pin to press down each of the wedges, turning the dough 45 degrees each time. This will give you the beginnings of a thick circle.

Now, rolling from the center outward and rotating the dough a quarter turn to maintain a circular shape, roll the dough out to a 13-inch circle with an even thickness of ¼ inch.

Set your 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan alongside the circle of dough. Brush off any loose flour, carefully fold the dough circle in half, transfer it to the pan, and unfold.

At this point, the dough will be lying across rather than fitted into the pan. Now, without stretching the dough, set the dough down into the pan so that it is flush up against the sides and bottom. The best way to do this is to gingerly lift the dough and gently shift it around so that it settles into the pan bit by bit. Use a very light touch to help cozy it in.

To flute the edge, fold the overhang under to form a 1-inch wall that rests on the lip of the pan with the seam slightly below the pan’s top edge. Go around the edge of the pan and use a very light touch to firm up the wall to an even thickness from the bottom to the top and all the way around. Flute the edge of the crust at about 1-inch intervals, pressing from the inside with the knuckle of your index finger while supporting on the outside with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand. Don’t pinch the dough, you want the flute to look like a thick rope.

Transfer the crust to the refrigerator to chill while you make your filling. Alternatively, at this point the crust can be covered tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days or double-wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months (defrost overnight in the refrigerator before filling and baking or prebaking, or at room temperature for 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the brown sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, bananas, dried apricots, lemon juice, and rum, tossing lightly to mix. Sprinkle in the sugar mixture and toss well, coating the fruit and thoroughly moistening the cornstarch and sugar.

Retrieve the prepared pie shell from the refrigerator and set the pan on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Scoop the filling into the pie shell and top with the crumb. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the pie 25 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling (mine baked an additional 15 minutes beyond that). Tent the top with foil if the crumb starts to over-brown.

Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the pie cool and set, uncovered, at room temperature overnight (or up to 3 days) (mine cooled about 6 hours, which was plenty of time for it to set without softening the crust), before slicing and serving with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup)


My sister recently got some teeny tiny Thai bird's eye chiles from one of our local farms, and it inspired me to make Tom Yum Gai, or Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup. Normally, Thai bird's eye chiles I've seen and used have been much larger than the ones from the farm, so you can easily use a single chile for this recipe, but since these were small I just carefully seeded and chopped them all.

Acquiring some of the ingredients for this soup may prove to be challenging. I actually ordered fresh kaffir lime leaves and dried galangal slices on Amazon. The remaining kaffir lime leaves are now hanging out in my freezer for the next time I make this soup. The dried galangal is inferior to fresh, but still works pretty well. Just make sure you allow some time to soak them in water before starting your soup.

I didn't have any cilantro or else I definitely would have added it to my soup before serving. It adds great color and authentic flavor to this already exotic and delicious soup.

Although a few of the ingredients may seem intimidating to find, at least in my case I know the lime leaves and galangal will keep for a while in my freezer and pantry respectively, so this soup will be even easier to prepare in the future when a craving hits.

Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup)
Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 to 10 ounces chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 quart chicken broth or stock
8 ounces sliced button mushrooms
6 kaffir lime leaves, scored
6 slices galangal, about 1/8-inch thick (I used re-hydrated dried galangal slices, but you can also substitute ginger if needed)
3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2-inch pieces and scored
1 Thai bird's eye chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I used 5 tiny bird's eye chiles instead)
2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Nam Prik Pao (Thai chile paste)
1 teaspoon sugar (I used raw sugar)
2 small tomatoes, seeded and cut into 8 wedges each
1 lime, juiced
A handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (optional)

In a medium pot or Dutch oven, heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, stirring occasionally until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove from the heat, remove chicken from the pot, and wipe out the interior of the pot with a paper towel. Return the pot to medium heat and add the remaining oil. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until starting to soften.

Add the chicken broth, reserved chicken, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, chile, fish sauce, Nam Prik Pao, and sugar. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook another 1 to 2 minutes until they are cooked but not falling apart.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro leaves, if desired. Adjust seasoning as needed. Serve immediately, discarding the lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass pieces either directly from the soup pot or from each bowl as you eat.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Chile con Queso


It's still football season, which means it's still my favorite time of the year. I'm also a big fan of fall, so that definitely helps too! One of my favorite things about football season is coming up with fun ideas for snacks to make while enjoying the game.

I recently planned a football-watching get-together with some good friends, and the result was a plethora of Tex Mex favorites. We had some layer dip, a taco ring, and of course molten hot chile con queso, made from scratch.

I know you can simply buy a jar of queso and stick it in the microwave, or melt together a block of Velveeta with a jar of salsa, but what's the fun in that? It's actually quite easy to make queso from scratch, and it's so tasty! I used my beloved homemade pickled jalapenos to really make it special.

What really took it over the edge for me was finding a bag of Tostitos emblazoned with the logo for the FIVE TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS!! Yep, I was willing to shell out extra, and skip over any sale brands of tortilla chips for the one marketing itself directly to me, a die hard Pats fan. Oh Tostitos, you really got me!

Regardless of who you are rooting for this Sunday (or Monday or Thursday), this chile con queso is so easy to make, and totally satisfies that gooey cheese, spicy, snacky craving at game time.

Chile con Queso
Makes about 4 cups
(From Tacolicious)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 (7-ounce) can Ortega brand diced green chiles, drained
3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes with juice
1/4 cup drained canned or jarred sliced pickled jalapeno chiles
Tortilla chips, for dipping

Combine the oil, onion, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir frequently until melted. Add the green chiles, tomatoes, and pickled jalapenos and stir until heated through.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm with tortilla chips for dipping.


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