Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Corn Pancakes with Black Beans for Maggie

I just came back from a long weekend in Oregon with my four sisters. We went on long hikes and long car rides together. Discussions ran the gamut of topics. Somehow it came up that my niece Maggie is cooking. My sister bemoaned that my niece was spending too much on groceries to make complicated dishes.

We cooks know that to make interesting and delicious food sometimes you need some ingredients that may not reside in the pantry. The dish that follows is by no means exotic. You can find everything in a normal grocery store. In fact I created this a million years ago when the kids were little and I wanted something that was both kid and parent friendly. The kids ate the pancakes with syrup and we ate them with the beans, sour cream and cilantro. This recipe is easy but still pretty tasty. Don't let the pancakes made with Jiffy corn muffin mix fool you. They have a gritty corn meal texture that compliments the smoothness of the beans and the heat from the salsa. And if you want to you can finish off supper with a pancake slathered in butter and syrup!

Corn Pancakes with Black Bean Salsa for Maggie

1 red pepper, cut into 1" squares
1/2 vidalia onion, cut into 1" squares
2 cans black beans, canned, rinsed
1 jar Pace Picantre Sauce, medium

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 egg
4 tablespoons shortening, melted
2/3 cups milk
Chopped cilantro
Sour cream

To make the warm salsa:
Drizzle some oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion and saute the onion starts to soften. Add the peppers and cook until the peppers start to soften. Add the black beans and Picante sauce. Cook for a few minutes, stirring. When the beans and salsa are hot, reduce the heat to low. Make the pankcakes.

Blend all the pancake ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork. Batter will be lumpy. Let batter sit a few minutes. Using a quarter cup measure or an ice cream scoop drop batter onto a lightly oiled non stick pan or griddle. Keep them fairly fair apart because the thick batter will spread as the pancakes start to cook. Flip when the edges appear dry, peeking every now and then at the bottom so they don't burn. Also these pancakes are pretty thick so don't cook on too high of a heat or they will be raw inside.

Put two pancakes on a plate. Pile with the warm salsa. Add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle liberally with salsa.

Let me know if you make it Maggie. And don't let your mom gives you grief about the leftover cilantro!
Serve with Cilantro and sour cream

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Food trucks the Ohio way.

It is a little strange that after 4 months of living here with nary a food truck in site, I would stumble upon two in one week and eat at both of them.

Taco Truck

I am sad to say I never got to experience a taco truck in San Francisco. John ate at one frequently in the ad ghetto. I always wanted to go and get a tongue taco but it never happened.

Back in Ohio, We were dropping off Grace somewhere and saw this truck in the parking lot near a Popeye's Fried Chicken. It was a rainy grim day but we braved the elements (okay John braved the elements, I sat in the car) to go order at the window, hurry back to the car in the rain, run back out and get our styrofoam containers and then eat pork tacos in the car. We found out we were lucky to catch them because they keep short hours. Was it a taste of California? Not exactly but we were glad we tried it.

Dimanddemsum truck
Dim and dem sum truck
I heard about this truck from a friend. We were going to Facebook track it down and go for lunch one day but there was no sign of them anywhere. Turns out they were waiting for a piece of equipment and unable to cook. Why do I know? They magically showed up at a Slow Food/Humane treatment for animals event that I attended, along with a couple of goats and Grace, my daughter, (different story, another blog.) Grace was excited because she thought there might be actual dim sum. She was disappointed in that respect but not in the tater tots and cheese curds she had (boy does that scream Midwest!) They had a house made hot sauce and a house made ketchup to jazz them up. Apparently they were going to serve goat tacos but when they heard that Carolina and Odie were coming (aforementioned goats) they wisely chose beef (no cows were present). Was it crazy good? No but there was thought and creativity and a little passion thrown in. I will definitely track them down again. Also kudos for the "live strong" style bracelet business card.

Odie and Carolina

I think a lot about the Porchetta and fresh herb sandwich at the Roti truck at the Ferry Building. I just like to think about that sandwich sometimes. The pork roast fresh off the rotisserie, all juicy and tender, piping hot, piled on a bun with a pile of fresh herbs. Hot, juicy, drippy, melting pork with crunchy herbs…Stop. Don’t go there. Step away from the porchetta day dream.
So there might be hope for the food truck scene here after all. Maybe I could get a Roti franchise to come?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Deconstructed Eggs Benedict Salad

I had a great dish recently in San Francisco. Two perfectly poached eggs on a raft of polenta, accompanied by a field green salad with asparagus and fava beans and a vinaigrette. The creamy, rich egg yolk and grainy polenta were a perfect foil for the bitter greens and sharp vinaigrette. The fresh fava beans and skinny, spring asparagus spears added just enough texture and flavor variety to complete it. I enjoyed it so much I was sorry I was sharing it with my friend LeAnn. I was tempted to point at a passing sailboat (we were in Sausalito at Cibo) but hung resolutely to the agreement to eat only half. It got me thinking about eggs which led me to think of my favorite egg dish, Eggs Benedict. Next thing I knew I was creating a supper salad of Deconstructed Eggs Benedict. The lemony hollandaise is now a tart lemon vinaigrette with a poached egg on top. The english muffin is now an English muffin French Toast crouton and salty pancetta replaces the canadian bacon. Make sure you make enough. You won't want to share.

Deconstructed Eggs Benedict Supper Salad

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Tabasco

½ pound Pancetta

8 eggs for poaching

2 eggs for English muffin croutons
1 T. Dijon mustard
½ cup milk

4 english muffins, split

8 cups spring lettuce mix

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and a dash of Tabasco in a small bowl and set aside. Rinse and spin dry the lettuce. Put it in the fridge covered with a damp paper towel so it stays nice and crisp.
Dice the pancetta and cook until crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Poach the 8 eggs in boiling water until desired doneness. Place them immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Leave them there for now. You can do this a couple of hours ahead of time if you need to. Keep the egg water warm on low heat if you are eating right away. You can use it to re-warm the eggs when you are ready to serve..

Preheat a non-stick skillet or griddle to medium high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, mustard and milk. Dip the English muffin halves into the eggs and milk, like you were making French toast, coating both sides and place in the hot skillet drizzled with olive oil. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the other three English muffins. Remove from pan and cube.

Place the poached eggs back in the hot water for a few minutes to re-warm the eggs. Put the lettuce in a large bowl and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette if you like. Divide the lettuce onto 4 large plates. Sprinkle with cubed pancetta and the english muffin cubes. Top with the warm poached eggs. Season with salt and freshly black pepper. Serve.

This recipe can be done in stages throughout the day. The pancetta can be made ahead and warmed for 10 seconds in the microwave. The vinaigrette can be made ahead and refrigerated. The eggs can be poached in advance.