Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mexican Caviar

It really is true that the best recipes are in the family. My mother acquired this recipe years ago from the Chicago Tribune during our days in Hyde Park. It's a flavorful mix of Mexican corn, olives, black beans, and more perfect for any large gathering. The first time my boyfriend came home with me was for my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary party, and he couldn't stop raving about this dish. I learned it this summer so I could whip it up for the two of us at school. Since then I've made this recipe so many times that I think I could do it in my sleep. It will always remind me of that first visit and how one recipe can recall so many memories. Here it is, I hope you like it!

Mexican Caviar
Serves: 12  Prep Time: 20 minutes  Total Time: 4-24 hours

2 cans black beans, rinsed and dried
2 cans Mexican style corn, 11 oz
1 can black olives, drained and chopped
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
    Treat black beans, Mexican style corn, black olives and scallions as directed and combine into a large bowl.
    Mix oil, vinegar and salt in a small bowl and whisk until the oil and vinegar blend together. Pour over bean mixture and toss until coated.
    Store in refrigerator and let marinate for 4-24 hours. Add chopped tomato and avocado before serving.
    Serve with tortilla chips as an appetizer or over rice as an entree.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Curry Tortellini Soup

    My mom found this great recipe around Thanksgiving, and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to try it myself. I cooked a triple batch of soup for my friends to have after the Boston Tree Lighting. I made it several hours in advance and threw it on the stove right before serving. This recipe is incredibly flavorful and surprisingly easy to make. For a curry dish it's relatively mild so it's great for a large crowd, just enough spice but not too spicy!
    When I made this dish, I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth since a lot of my friends are vegetarians, but I've had it both ways and I didn't notice any difference. Also, I chose to use fresh coconut milk from a carton, not the condensed canned kind. I did not garnish it with peanuts but if you're looking for a little crunch it might be a good idea.

    Curry Tortellini Soup
    Serves: 4  Time: 30 minutes

    1 shallot, finely chopped
    1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 tsp. curry powder
    1 Tbs. cooking oil
    1 14 1/2- oz. can chicken broth
    1 14-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
    1 9-oz. package cheese tortellini
    1 Tbs. snipped fresh basil
    1 medium tomato, chopped
      In a medium saucepan cook shallot, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and curry powder in hot oil about 1 minute or until shallot is tender.  Stir in chicken broth.  Bring to boiling;  reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
      Stir in the coconut milk, tortellini, and basil.  Cook and stir about 5 minutes more or until pasta is tender but still firm.  Stir in the tomato.  Cook and stir until heated through, but do not boil.
      If desired, garnish each serving with chopped peanuts.

      Tuesday, December 14, 2010

      Bacon Cashew Caramel Corn

      I'm back and ready to deliver a bunch of new recipes in time for the holidays! I made this delicious bacon cashew caramel corn as an appetizer this Thanksgiving. It was surprisingly easy to make and lasts a long time. You can even make it up to two days in advance and store in the refrigerator. This caramel corn is a perfect festive snack to serve anytime or even wrap up and give as gifts for friends!

      Bacon Cashew Caramel Corn - Adapted from Bon Apetit
      Serves: 12+  Prep: 1 hour 20 minutes  Total: 3 hours
      1/2 cup popcorn kernels
      2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      6 ounces bacon, chopped
      1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews (one 2.5-ounce package)
      1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or coarse sea salt
      1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
      1 oolong tea bag
      Nonstick vegetable oil spray
      1 1/2 cups sugar
      1/4 cup water
      2 tablespoons light corn syrup
        Heat popcorn kernels in a covered pot until popping stops. Immediately remove and place into a large bowl. Cook bacon in a skillet until crispy and drain on paper towels for several minutes. Toss chopped bacon, pecans, salt and cayenne pepper into the popcorn. 
        In a small pot, bring heavy whipping cream and tea bag to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. (I used a Chinese black tea instead of oolong and it worked great.) In the meantime, line a baking sheet with foil. Spray baking sheet and two wooden spoons with non-stick spray; set aside.
        Next, heat sugar, water and corn syrup in a saucepan* on medium to low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase to high heat and let mixture boil without stirring until it turns a deep amber color, swirling occasionally. When this is done, quickly remove from heat and add the cream. Blend and pour over popcorn mixture. Toss with non-stick sprayed spoons until all the popcorn is coated with caramel, then transfer to baking sheet. Bake in 300 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until popcorn is evenly coated and caramel is shiny. Remove and cool, breaking up any large clumps with a wooden spoon. Enjoy!

        *Be sure to soak the caramel saucepan and spoons immediately after using. The caramel solidifies quickly and can be difficult to get off.
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