Monday, February 27, 2012

Green Chile Biscuits and Gravy

This is great comfort food for a cold February morning, and easy to whip up if you still have some green chile in your freezer – our supply always seems to be getting low this time of year.

The gravy is just a traditional sausage cream gravy, with a New Mexico twist. With the addition of cheddar, it's a lot like the Flying Star's Southwest Bennie - one of my favorite breakfasts around town. The biscuit recipe is adjusted for high altitude, so they come out nice and fluffy.

2 C. all purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
6 T. cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces (or 1/3 C. shortening)
1 C. buttermilk (or milk with juice of half a lemon)

1/4 lb. sausage
2 T. flour
2 C. milk
1/2 C. chopped green chile
1/4 C. grated cheddar
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles cornmeal, with a few pea-sized chunks remaining. (If you don't have a food processor, just cut the fat into the flour mixture with a fork.) Add buttermilk and pulse until the dough comes together in one large piece. Do not overmix. On a floured surface, fold dough over 2 or 3 times to bring it together. Gently flatten to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut dough into circles with a can, or 9 even squares. Place biscuits onto a cookie sheet and bake 15-17 minutes, or until well-risen and golden brown.

Meanwhile, fry the sausage in a large skillet, breaking it up into small pieces with a spatula. (Many locally produced sausages are quite lean – you may need to add a little oil to keep it from sticking.) Add flour and stir to coat the sausage. Whisk in milk and cook until just thickened. Stir in green chile and cheese, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

Split biscuits in half and top with gravy. Enjoy the rest of the biscuits with butter and jam. Serves 2-4.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lemony Parsnip Soup with Rosemary and Crispy Leeks

Parsnips seem to have something of a bad reputation and I can't imagine why. They are sweet and delicious, like a white carrot. I picked up a few pounds of them, along with a few rutabagas, from Root Cellar Farm at the Los Ranchos winter growers' market. 

Not many farmers grow them, because they take all season to mature, but the great thing is that they can be stored in the ground all winter. They become sweeter after the frost, so you just leave them where they grew until you're ready to dig some up and eat them.

This delicate soup is dairy-free and takes only 20 minutes to prepare. Lately I've come to believe that garnishes are the key to a really great soup experience. The soup is very tasty on its own, but with the garnish it's truly delightful – don't skip the leeks.

2 T. olive oil
1/2 C. diced onion
3 C. diced parsnips
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 t. black pepper
4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
1 leek, thinly sliced white and green parts only
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium flame. Add onion and cook until just softened. Add parsnips, rosemary, pepper and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 15 minutes, until parsnips are tender. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil on medium flame. Add sliced leeks, season with salt and fry, stirring often, until bits begin to brown. Remove from heat and reserve. Remove the rosemary and puree the soup. Add the lemon zest, then add lemon juice and salt to taste. Garnish with leeks. Serves 2 to 4.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beet Salad with Fennel and Lemon Relish

I just recently realized that beets and fennel are a great combination, and beets also go well with lots of the other anise-flavored herbs like tarragon and caraway. The lemon-fennel relish is especially nice with Meyer lemons, which taste like a cross between orange and lemon. The recipe makes more relish than you need for the salad, so save it to serve with fish or chicken for another meal.

1 lb. beets
2 T. olive oil

1 fennel bulb
1 lemon, preferably Meyer variety
1 onion
1/2 t. fennel seeds

1 T. honey
1/2 C. water

1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub beets well, and trim off tops and tails. Cut small beets into quarters or halves, or larger beets into 1-inch chunks. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil and a little salt on a baking sheet. Roast about 45 minutes, until the beets are tender.

Meanwhile, chop lemon and onion into about 1/4 inch dice. Trim the bottom and the stems from the fennel bulb, slice it in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise into thin strips. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet on medium flame. Cook onions, lemon and fennel slices with fennel seeds until soft, about 5 minutes. Add honey, water and salt, and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, another 5 minutes or so. Adjust the amount of salt and honey as desired.

Set a handful of beets on each plate, top with some of the fennel mixture, and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 2 to 4 as a side.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Carrot, Spinach and Chickpea Saute

This is a deceptively fabulous winter dish. Chickpeas and spinach just don't sound that exciting, even with a few carrots thrown in, but somehow it turns out to be incredibly tasty!  I love it when I find a recipe that is more than the sum of its parts - this one is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's wildly popular vegetarian cookbook, Plenty. It's super quick, and makes great use of some of the most common winter vegetables.

1/4 cup olive oil
4 medium carrots, diced
1 t. caraway seeds
1 can (14 oz.) chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. dried mint
1/2 t. ground coriander
1 T. lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
1/2 C. Greek yogurt
1 T. olive oil 

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add carrots and caraway seeds, and cook 5 minutes or so. Add chickpeas and spinach and cook about 5 minutes more, until carrots are tender. Stir in garlic, mint, coriander, and lemon juice. Cook for a few more seconds, then season with salt and pepper. Mix yogurt and olive oil with a little salt and pepper. Pile vegetables on plates, and top with yogurt. Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side dish.