Author Archives: Desi Chick

Peach Tart for Dummies

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Peach Tart for Dummies

I love things you can make that are visually stunning, tastes amazing and takes little or no effort to make.  Like this Peach tart.  It is gorgeous and people will rave about it and it takes just a few minutes to put together.  I love it!  All you need is a package of store bought puff pastry sheets (you can be a Martha Stewart and make your own, but why?) and some fresh ripe peaches and you’re golden. ANYBODY can make this.  Literally the peach tart for dummies. Try it for your next get together and watch the rave reviews come in!

Place peaches on puff pastry sheet and sprinkle with sugar

Brush peaches with heated apricot jam

Peach tart

Peach Tart for Dummies

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted

1/4 cup sugar

2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced

1/4 cup apricot jam

1 tsp water

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Defrost puff pastry dough in the refrigerator.  Take out one sheet and place on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.  No need to roll out.  Pierce the puff pastry with a fork.  Thinly slice two fresh large peaches and layer them in three rows on the puff pastry sheet leaving a half-inch clearance on all four sides.  Sprinkle sugar on top of the peach slices.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool slightly.  In a small microwave safe bowl heat apricot jam and water together for about 45 seconds.  Brush over the peaches until shiny.  Serve cooled.

Pulled Pork Empanadas

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Pulled Pork Empanadas

There’s nothing tastier than a pork butt or shoulder roast slow cooked in a crockpot or in the oven.  It’s one of those things that can cook in the background while you go about your business.  I usually season my pork butt or shoulder with a rub of fresh garlic, sea salt, cumin, a little ground coffee and onion powder (with a little olive oil thrown in).   I know you’re thinking ground coffee?  What the heck?  But it really is tasty.  Not too much just a few teaspoons but it really amps up the other flavors. It’s a pretty basic rub down because I like to add other spices to the pulled pork later on to make different dishes out of the same piece of roast.  A good size pork roast can yield BBQed pulled pork sandwiches, or tacos and burritos.  I’ve even made pulled pork momos, tamales and potstickers.  Who can go wrong with a well done pig?

This time I decided to make pork Empanadas out of the pulled pork.  It was fast and worked well for a weekday dinner with a fresh slaw made with red cabbage.  The leftovers are great for lunch the next day too.  Everybody at your work will want some of your lunch as soon as you start heating it up.  Guaranteed!

On a side note.  Today, July 6th, I finally finished off the Master Cleanse.  I was so excited to eat real food.  I was thinking about it last night going to bed and dreaming up what I’d make for breakfast.  I thought of eating these Empanadas but didn’t feel like that for breakfast.  So, I decided to make an egg white frittata with caramelized onions and asparagus spears and fresh basil.  I was super excited.  I took two bites and couldn’t eat another thing.  I got kind of nauseous.  I guess I have to slow down and eat a few little things.  Let my body catch up slowly.  I ate only raw vegetables and fruits yesterday so today I should be able to ease into real food.  We shall see.  On the bright side, I do feel really, really good and I think I will try this again next year some time, maybe not for the whole 21 days though.

Cook up the pulled pork mixture

Roll out the empanada dough

Place pork mixture on one end of the rolled out dough

Fold over dough and crimp with a fork

Brush with egg wash

Bake and serve warm!

Pulled Pork Empanadas

Empanada dough:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk (save the egg white for the egg wash)

1/3 cup ice water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Pulled Pork Filling:

1 1/2 pound of cooked, pulled pork

1/2 onion, diced

4 tbsp oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chipped

1 jalapeno, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1/4 cup water

Egg wash:

egg white, beaten

1 tsp water

For the dough: Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined, add butter and pulse a few times until it resembles coarse meal.

Mix together the egg yolk, water, and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the mixture to the dough, pulsing until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently knead until it just comes together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

For the filling:  Heat oil in a sauce pan and saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno together until onions are translucent and the garlic is flavorful.  Add in cumin and water and simmer over low heat for about 3 minutes.  Toss in cilantro leaves before turning off the heat.

Assembly: Roll out the Empanada dough into 5 – 6 inch circle (I was making a little larger ones because it was for dinner).  Place 1/4 cup (or more if you want it fuller) of meat mixture on one end of the dough.  Bring the other half over the meat mixture and using a fork crimp the edges.  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Whisk together egg white and water  and brush each empanada.  Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

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Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

There’s nothing like a refreshing and hearty dip on a hot summer day.  I’m always looking for fun new ways of making salsas and dips that are not heavy and creamy.  The Caribbean side of my family love eating Pigeon Peas.  In fact it’s a staple of most Caribbean rice dishes.  Pigeon peas are hard to find fresh here and I have to go to specialty stores to get the canned version.  The closest cousin I have found to the Pigeon Pea is the Blackeyed Pea.  I love the texture and mild flavor of Blackeyed Peas.  The skin is not thick and it has an almost creamy mouth feel.  Perfect for a salsa. I used canned Blackeyed Peas and canned Corn in this salsa.  You can definitely use roasted fresh corn and pressure cook some Blackeyed peas.  Since this was one of many items I was cooking yesterday, I decided to just go with the canned.  It turned out great and saved me some time.  With the fresh ingredients, you don’t really notice that the peas and corn are canned. The heat from the chilies are nicely balanced with the sweetness of the Mangoes. Paired with fresh home-made BIG tortilla chips as a scoop, this salsa is “da bomb”!

Mix the dressing ingredients together (LOVE the Pomegranate vinegar)

Pour dressing over the dip ingredients and mix well before chilling in the fridge

Make large homemade tortilla chips

The extra large “scoops” are fantastic with this salsa

Blackeyed Pea and Corn Salsa

2 cans (14 oz) of Blackeyed Peas (rinsed and drained)

1 can (14 oz) sweet corn (rinsed and drained)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1-2 Thai chilis, take the seeds out if you want it less spicy

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, minced

15 or so green spanish olives, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 mangoes, diced

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

zest and juice of one lime

1/2 cup pomegranate vinegar

fresh cracked pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp sugar or honey

In a large bowl place the washed and rinsed canned Blackeyed peas and corn.  Add all fresh chopped ingredients and toss lightly.  Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dip and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.  Great with large home made tortilla chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

12 inch uncooked (or cooked) flour tortilla chips

Oil for  frying

Cut the tortillas into fourths and fry in oil until golden brown, drain over paper towels.  Can be made a day ahead and stored in airtight container or zip lock bags before serving.

Blueberry Crumble Bars

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Blueberry Crumble Bars

I’m still on my blueberry kick.  I already made some scones so I decided to try some crumble bars.  I wanted them to have a nice crust on the bottom, sort of like a lemon bar but have the moisture of a coffee cake and the crunch of a streusel topping all rolled into one.  There are a huge variety of crumb bar recipes out there.  I decided to combine some of the things I liked about a few of the old stand by recipes I had for cherry crumb bars and lemon bars to come up with this one.  It turned out very nicely.  I didn’t even have to add nuts to the top to give it the satisfying “crumb” texture, the blueberries kept their integrity without turning into a gooey sauce and the bottom crust was fantastic, holding it all together.  This thing can be eaten as a bar, but I’m telling you it’s unparalleled with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream on top! (Or at least that’s what everyone else who ate them up told me.  Only 4 more days to go on this cleanse…)

Blend in the cold butter to the flour mixture with a pastry blender

Press half of the dough into a 9 x 13 pan

While the crust is baking prepare the blueberries

Spread the blueberries evenly over the crust

Sprinkle the remainder of the crust mixture along with the rolled oats on top

Serve warm with ice cream or cool and cut into bars

Blueberry Crumble Bars

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

zest of one lemon

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (save to add to the mixture later)

Fruit Preparation:

4 cups fresh blueberries

juice of one lemon

3 tbsp corn starch

1/2 cup sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.  Using a pastry blender cut in the butter with the flour mixture until a crumbly mixture forms.  Whisk egg and vanilla together and pour into the flour mixture and blend well.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Press half of the flour mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9 x 13 pan and bake for about 18 minutes.

In the meantime, add the rolled oats to the remaining flour mixture and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix the blueberries with lemon juice, corn starch and sugar, taking care not to smash any of the berries.  Take the crust out of the oven, it should be a light brown color, spread the blueberry mixture evenly on top and sprinkle the flour/oat mixture on top of the blueberries.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes until golden brown on top and berries are nice and bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cool completely and cut into bars.

Lemon Blueberry Scones

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Lemon Blueberry Scones

It’s blueberry season!  They are abundant and delicious and to top it all off, they are a superfruit,  full of antioxidants and nutrients.  I found an awesome deal on blueberries today…80 cents a pound.  I came home with 6 pounds of blueberries.  I’m going on a blueberry kick for the next few days.  I’m going to be making blueberry preserves, crumb bars, muffins, sauce…I’m doing a happy dance in my head.  But first I think I’ll start with the basics….A wonderful lemon blueberry scone.  Scones are great with coffee anytime.  As a dessert or as a breakfast or brunch item.  They also freeze really, really well which means I can have some when I get off this Master Cleanse (I just had a food porn moment).

Add the zest of one lemon

Blend in the butter with a pastry blender

Fold in cream and egg mixture with blueberries

Pat dough into a square on a well floured surface

Cut into 8 parts or 16 (I prefer 16)

Brush each scone with some heavy cream and sprinkle top with some raw sugar

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees

Lemon Blueberry Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

zest of one lemon

1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup heavy cream

a little extra cream and some turbinado (raw) sugar for brushing and sprinkling on top

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Add lemon zest to the flour mixture and mix together. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture until it’s a coarse mixture.  Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour into the flour mixture and fold the mixture together, when it’s fairly well mixed, gently mix in the blueberries taking care not to smash the blueberries.  Don’t over work the dough.  On a floured surface, press the dough dough gently to form a square about 1 inch thick.  Cut into half then into half again so there are four squares.  Cut the squares at a diagonal to get the triangle shape.  If you want smaller pieces cut the triangles again so you get a total of 16 pieces.  Place on a ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush the tops of each triangle with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 400°F.  Let the scones cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I have a sweet tooth.  There’s no getting around it.  I taught myself to bake mostly because I wanted to eat amazing cakes, cookies, tarts, pies…. There is an amazing thing that happens to me when I bake though.  I don’t usually have to eat very much of what I make.  The process of baking and creating something from scratch and the delicious smells that comes out of the oven are usually enough to satisfy me.  I can get by with a little bite or two.  But if someone else made the same dish, I fall upon it like a starving Hyena.  I have no idea why.  Right now, I’m doing a Master Cleanse.  If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out on this site.  Basically I’m drinking a lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction for 16 days…NO FOOD.  I figure that at least once in my life I should do some heavy duty cleaning from the inside out. Anyway, I still have been baking, cooking, working normally.  I won’t lie, sometimes it’s been really hard not to eat, especially when it smells so great.  The hardest thing though has been trying to figure out if textures and tastes turned out okay on recipes that I’m putting together.  Like these cookies for instance.  I know in my brain that the combinations of ingredients should turn out great.  I haven’t tasted any though, so I’ve been taking them around to co-workers and family to find out the verdict.  I wanted something that was slightly crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.  The sourness of the cherries to be balanced out by the sweetness of the chocolate chips.  I’m told that I’ve succeeded.  So, now you’ve got to try it out and see for yourself.

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together

Stir in dried cherries, oats and mini chocolate chips by hand

Bake 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispy

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Cover a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.  In a separate bowl cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips.  Using a scoop drop cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispier cookies.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool.  Makes about 36-40 cookies.

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

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Garlic Herb Potato Bread

I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf  a couple of days ago.  The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over.  I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes.  I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out.  I was delighted.  The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor.  It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces.  I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!

Mix up the mash potatoes into the dough

Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled in size

Shape into loaves and place into greased or sprayed loaf pan

The texture and flavor were fantastic!

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

1 cup garlic mashed potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp dried onion flakes

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup warm milk

5 cups or a little more bread flour

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm.  Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy.  In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well.  Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.  Put dough in a greased bowl.  Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.  Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.  Punch down dough and shape into two loaves.  Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again.  Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly.  Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.