Monthly Archives: June 2012

Foodie Weekend

Just some pictures from my shit phone from our lovely weekend in Seattle.


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Beet Dumplings

Hi K,

I hope you enjoyed my version of Chiles Rellenos. Here’s a recipe I know we’ve both been eying for a while.

Beet dumplings! It’s basically just a recipe for beet dough which you can boil like pasta. They end up tasting like vaguely-beet flavored pierogis. I think you can basically stuff them with anything you want, and I am greatly intrigued by an idea I had last night to make spaetzle out of the dough. Wouldn’t that be beautiful!?

Of course, the main plus of putting beets in your dough is… it’s BRIGHT red. I don’t think you can accurately see in the photos how bright red it is. It’s really awesome.

It’s also…. drumroll… a really cheap (if mildly time consuming) dinner option! I don’t know about you, but where I am, beets are super super cheap and I bet I could make somewhere around 50-60 dumplings out of the two-beet dough I made. Score!

Beet Dumplings
from Pure Vegetarian by Lakshmi

1 3/5 cup flour*
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Beetroot paste (from 2-3 small beets)*
Water if needed

  1. Wash and scrub the beets (without peeling them)
  2. Splash with olive oil
  3. Roast in the oven (200 C / 400 F) until the skins are wrinkled and the beetroots are soft when pricked with a knife – it takes about an hour, depending on the size
  4. Remove from the oven
  5. Cool, peel and place in a blender with enough water to make a silky, smooth paste
  6. Combine the flour and salt
  7. Add the olive oil to the beetroot paste
  8. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the paste gradually while mixing it with the flour (by hand)
  9. Use all the paste
  10. If the dough is not coming together, add a little bit water
  11. The flour should form a ball that is soft but not sticky
  12. If it is sticky add a little bit flour
  13. Knead it well for about 5 minutes
  14. The dough should be seamless, firm but soft (if you press it with a finger, it should bounce back)
  15. Wrap in a plastic or damp cloth
  16. Let the dough rest at least 30 minutes
  17. Take a part of the dough and roll it out as thinly as possible
  18. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter
  19. Place a little bit of filling* in the centre of each circle
  20. Brush the edges of the circles with water (one side is enough)
  21. Take the circles in your hand one by one and seal them tightly with another hand
  22. Keep them separately on a floured surface
  23. You may trim any excess dough around the sealed edges
  24. Boil plenty of water with salt
  25. Carefully drop the dumplings into the pot (avoid overloading)
  26. They will sink at first
  27. When they pop up on the surface, they are cooked (if the dough is thin, it shouldn’t take longer than a couple of minutes)
  28. Take them out with a slotted spoon and place them on a frying pan with a mixture of hot extra virgin olive oil and butter
  29. Coat them with oil-butter and serve immediately

Notes on this preparation:

1. My computer died before I could read out what was in the filling. This ended up being fortuitous since I really liked what I put in. I used equal parts feta and cream cheese (like the recipe) and added fresh basil, cumin and tumeric (since I remembered it being vaguely indian). It was so good!

2. Obviously, the amount of flour is dependent on how much beet paste you have. She must use tiny beets because I needed about double the amount of flour. You really need to just go for consistency. Her comments on that are also a little vague. Dough is always going to be sticky. You just need it to be not-sticky enough to roll it out without the dough completely sticking to your surface/ rolling pin.

3. I didn’t fry them after I boiled them. Still good! (Again, the computer died and I was sans charger, so I didn’t read this step.)

4. I really really really need cookie cutters. Hint hint family hint hint. I cut all of my circles out with a sharp knife. Obviously, they’re not as pretty as the ones in the original blog post.

See you soon!


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More Chiles Rellenos

Hi Karla,

So I haven’t posted in forever! But it’s because this is a crazy time. I had six people staying at our house this weekend, and everything has been nuts. I’ve had very little time for cooking, so I’ll do a little bit of a throwback post.

I saw that you made Chiles Rellenos! This is hilarious because Bill and I totally make Chiles Rellenos all the time. We use a fantastic recipe that I got from Bon Appetit a looong time ago, and I made this chili sauce from scratch with dried chilies that I smoke and then rehydrate. It’s stellar and the flavors are really complex.

Here’s a photo from the first time we made it that I found on my phone. This is from April 4, 2011!

We also made a tomato-mozzarella-caper-olive pasta salad that night. I remember that being very good too!

(I’m going to put all the recipes at the end. So, scroll down for those.)

It’s finally summer in Chicago, which means I’m sitting outside every day to eat my lunch. Right after mom visited a few weeks ago, I took the remainder of our arepas-with-corn-salsa breakfast to work with me and ate it in the park.

One real perk of working in a museum is that everything is so beautiful all the time!

Since I last posted, I also had some fun with veggie tacos, aka the easiest, cheapest meal around. Just toast a few little tortillas, add some veggies sautéed in your favorite taco seasonings, and top with lime soaked tomatoes, queso fresco, avocado and/or sour cream! Luckily at our nearby grocery store, this meal costs about $4, and you can pick everything up fresh on the way home. Bill and I definitely make these a lot. The ones in the picture are straight up portabella mushroom and onion tacos. It was what I had on hand. Yum!

I also went to Chinatown with Golosá. This time we went to a new Restaurant called Lao Yunan, which features the cuisine of the Yunan province. The food was incredible! Among the dishes below are Yunan Mushrooms (so flavorful!), a whole plate of Bitter Melon, the spiciest Ma Po Tofu you’ve ever had (it has that chili-spice in it that Dad talks about from the Szechuan province that makes your tongue numb. It’s phenomenal!) and lots of other stuff. It was really a treat. AND we got to meet the famous Tony Hu in person! If you don’t know him: check it out! (Tony is on the list of 100 most powerful Chicagoans!)

Goat Cheese and Mushroom Chiles Rellenos with Red Chili Sauce

(from Bon Appetit, June 2010)

* 8 large fresh Anaheim chiles
* 2 Tbsp butter
* 1/4 cup minced shallot
* 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
* 6 cups assorted sliced mushrooms (such as cremini and stemmed shiitake)
* 1/4 cup dry sherry
* 4 oz soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
* 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
* 8 (4×1/4×1/4) inch pieces of Monterey Jack cheese
* vegetable oil
* 3 Tbsp AP flour
* 3 Tbsp cornstarch
* 1 large egg white
* Red Chile Sauce (see recipe below)
* Sour Cream/sliced avocado/crumbled Cojito cheese (optional for on the side)

Char chiles directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in plastic bag and let steam for 10 minutes. Using small knife, scrape off blackened skin, taking care not to tear chiles. Carefully cut slit in each chile, from stem end to tip. Remove seeds, keeping chile intact.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and thyme; saute until shallot is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until mushrooms are browned, about 7 minutes. Add Sherry; stir until almost dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Refrigerate mixture 10 minutes. Add goat cheese and cilantro; stir to incorporate.

Place 1 piece Monterey Jack cheese lengthwise inside each chile. Divide mushroom mixture among chiles; press openings to seal. (Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Generously brush rimmed baking sheet with oil. Whisk flour and cornstarch in shallow bowl. Brush chiles with egg white; roll in flour mixture to coat. Transfer to prepared sheet.

Bake chiles until browned and Jack cheese melts, about 8 minutes per side. Ladle 1/4 cup Red Chile Sauce onto each plate.

Chili Sauce


* 3 large dried ancho chiles
* 2 large dried New Mexico chiles
* 2 large dried Anaheim chiles
* 2 cups water
* 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
* 1 Tbsp olive oil
* 3/4 cup chopped onion
* 2 small garlic cloves, peeled, sliced
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1 cup chicken broth, divided
* 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
* 1 Tbsp packed, dark brown sugar

Stem and seed chiles; tear into 1-inch pieces. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add chiles to dry skillet and toast until beginning to smoke, stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 2 cups water; bring to boil. Remove from heat and let stand 20 minutes to soften. Drain.

Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darker and aromatic, 3 to 4 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground.

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; saute until golden, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and ground cumin. Add drained chiles and 1/2 cup broth; sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Add 1/2 cup broth.

Working in batches, puree sauce in blender until smooth. Add vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. (Do ahead: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.)

View of Chicago from the University of Chicago’s new Logan Arts Center, where Golosá performed a few weeks ago.

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Spring Pasta Dinners

As it’s nearing the end of the quarter, I’ve been making a lot of pasta to try and make some cheaper meals. One of these is a light vegetarian pasta for spring, and another very hearty and meaty. Dennis and I used the moose-meat (his idea) and made a an awesome tomato cream sauce to go with it. There’s a secret ingredient that makes it better too— plain yogurt! It’s my new favorite on pasta to make it super creamy without all the fat. Try it!

Rigatoni with Olives and Pine Nuts

Rigatoni or other pasta

Plum tomatoes, chopped

Canned green olives, chopped

Pine nuts

Good strong olive oil 

Salt + pepper

Boil pasta as directed. Meanwhile add a good amount of olive oil (enough for dressing pasta) in a saucepan and add olives, tomatoes, and pine nuts to taste. Ad salt and pepper and simmer, stirring frequently, until tomatoes are cooked and pine nuts are starting to brown. Pull off heat. Drain pasta and add olive oil mixture. Serve or top with plenty of goat cheese which will melt to make a creamy sauce, or serve by itself for a light and refreshing spring pasta. Good cold for a picnic also. 

Moose-Meat Papparedelle

Papparedelle or other pasta

Pasta sauce

Ground meat (anything goes)

Carrots, shredded or chopped

Roma tomatoes, chopped

Cream, plain yogurt or sour cream

Egg (for topping, optional)

Salt + Pepper

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, place pasta sauce in a large frying pan. Add uncooked ground meat and simmer, adding carrots and tomatoes. Stir frequently and separate meat. When meat is fully cooked, stir in cream or yogurt until desired consistency. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Place in a large bowl. Fry up an egg and top with cheese for a richer meal (I didn’t do the egg, but apparently it was great). Bon Ap!

Stuffed Chicken with cheese and herbs

Chicken breasts (or tenders, for appetizer size)


Herbs de provence (thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc)

Goat cheese (or other cheese)

Salt + Pepper

Kitchen twine (for tying)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lay breasts on a cutting board and place plastic wrap over to cover. Pound them with a mallet or a glass jar until flattened out evenly, about 1/2 inch thick for breasts and 1/4 inch for tenders. Be careful not to break apart. Take plastic off and squeeze lemon juice on top each one. Mix cheese and herbs together in a small bowl and spoon over chicken pieces (don’t overdo it). Roll each one up and tie with string (bow) and sprinkle with more herbs, salt, pepper and more lemon juice. Place on a baking pan with sides, non-stick spray and aluminum. Bake in oven until cooked through, about 30 min for chicken breasts and 15 for tenders (check a couple times with a knife to see doneness). and Whala! Impressive and so easy. Just serve as is and let people pull their strings off themselves.

Xo, K

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Chiles Rellenos

Hey L,

I was walking the the outdoor emporium yesterday to pick out Dennis’ birthday gift and pick up some supplies (pants, garden gloves, etc) for my internship this summer. We walked through the international district on the way back, which has some of the most amazing little shops selling everything from steamed pork dumplings and sticky almond cakes to herbal remedies and buddhist garden art. My favorite places to wander into, when I have the time, are usually the ones selling miscellaneous stuff like bamboo place mats, pots and dinnerware, and asian artifacts, because I always find cool and unusual things for truly unusual prices. I used to come down here every week for my internship at Community Alliance for Global Justice, who had a hole-in-the-wall office a couple years ago and has now upgraded to a bigger place.. so I know my way around. But anyway, back on track, I stopped in one of my favorite asian markets on the way home and bought a huge bag of fresh bok choy and tofu to make a stir fry, mangoes, some kind of greens (the ones in the picture), basil, and poblano peppers to make these chiles rellenos. And it all cost me less than six bucks! This reminds me of the great deals you get at your little Mexican market. Horayy for inexpensive, healthy produce! 

Chiles rellenos are by far my favorite Mexican entree. They melt in your mouth and have so much flavor! I’ve had many different kinds, probably because I’m always ordering them if they are on the menu, and the ones I like best aren’t overloaded with cheese and have a rice-based filling. Since I had some cooked quinoa on hand, I swapped out the rice for quinoa (which I think is even better because it packs down well) and added refried beans, yellow onion, and an uncooked egg to the filling. I also tried two different cheeses; mexican blend and goat. Both were good. These turned out to be SO tasty!! I didn’t add meat to mine, but I’m guessing some ground meat would be great in these too.. or in the sauce. Allow about an hour to make these.

Chiles Rellenos with Quinoa

(Serves 2)

2-4 Poblano Peppers, depending on size

1 tbsp Olive oil

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cups Cooked quinoa

3/4 cup refried pinto or black beans, heated

1 egg

Cheese, as much as you want (mexican cheddar blend, goat, mozzarella, or queso fresco are all good choices)

4 cups Rich tomato sauce, low-salt or homemade

Green olives (optional)

Cooked ground meat (optional)


1. Heat oven to 400 degrees

2. Rinse poblanos well and cut close to rim of stem to remove inside seeds and stem. Spoon and rinse out all seeds. Set aside.

3. Heat olive oil in frying pan and saute onions until translucent. Add to a bowl with the cooked quinoa, heated refried beans, and egg. Mix well. The result will look mushy and soggy- that’s good. Lightly stir in cheese. [Meat can also be added at this time or later as part of the sauce]

4. Stuff peppers with quinoa/cheese mixture to rim and place on baking sheet with tin foil and non-stick spray. Bake for about 40 min covered with tin foil or until soft and blackened (see pic).

5. Take peppers out of the oven to peel skins off (they can cause indigestion). Flip them onto their other side in pan. Pour tomato sauce on top with olives, meat, or any other extras. Top with extra cheese. Return to oven for 5 more minutes, uncovered.

6. Take them out of oven and let rest while preparing plates. Mangoes and yogurt/sour cream pair great with this, cutting the richness of the sauce. Spoon sauce onto plate and carefully place poblanos on top. Top with more sauce, step back and take a picture, and dig in— with others of course. : )

These are a great meal all by themselves. Beer or margaritas would go nicely, as would chips and guacamole. Buen provecho!



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