Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hatching up some Spicy Food!

What do Green Apples, Sage & Hatch Green Chiles have in common? Why...my Hatch Green Chile Stew of course!

When cooking up some Spicy foods & using Hatch Green Chiles I've been testing the limits of dishes which I can mix in these fleeting seasonal favorites. Gloria Chadwick of Foods & Flavors of San Antonio has even created a new blog to pay tribute to this quintessential pepper!

Excitement was in the air the last 2 weeks at our local Grocery stores & markets as the famed Hatch Green Chile Peppers arrived in Texas. So much was the excitement when Hornsfan called me, that I rushed to our grocery store to see if the Hatch Peppers had arrived & had started roasting yet. I'm certain the produce people at our grocery store were thrilled to be rid of the crazy woman who seemed to be stalking them for hot peppers! The New Mexico Hatch Chile folks were even giving away CDs of cooking demos & helpful chile pepper advice. After living South of the Border our Pepper consumption has jumped a heat level or two! When the peppers hit the markets here they are hard to miss as most of the grocers set up a large gas or wood roasting pit. As the Chile Peppers roast they are turned to ensure even roasting & are manned by someone standing nearby with water to keep the flames from getting out of hand. Roasted, blackened & cleaned the Chiles are the perfect addition to so many dishes. How did I know the delectable peppers added enough heat enough at our house? My husband was eating his second bowl of my Green Stew when he had to keep wiping his forehead...one of those hurts so good meals!

The history of the Hatch is a bit murky since the origin somewhere close to 1896 when New Mexico rancher Emilio Ortega carried pepper seeds back to California which became the Anaheim Pepper....those seeds may have indeed been from what was later known as the Hatch Chile. Hybridized, refined & widely touted, the Hatch Chile Pepper is only from Hatch, New Mexico & can have quite a kick when compared to the somewhat milder Anaheim cousin. It is worth noting that these Peppers are in season once each year so if you are lucky enough to find them buy enough to roast an extra pound or two & freeze them. We have eaten them mixed into countless bowls of guacamole as this is probably one our favorite Hatch appetizer to eat this time of year. For a little more information about Hatch Chile Peppers check out this New Mexico site! I'm thinking we might have to try whipping up a batch of "Hatch-a-ritas" before the season is over.

Hatch Green Chile Stew

2 1/2 lbs Pork Loin, trimmed & cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Med Onion, diced
2 Cups Water
8 Hatch Green Chile Peppers, roasted, seeded & chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper
3 Green Granny Smith Apples, cored, seeded & chopped
5 Fresh Sage leaves, cut into slices or thin strips
1 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Celery Salt
Queso Cojita, semi soft Mexican white cheese, grated

Heat oil in large wrought iron dutch oven or large heavy skillet. Brown pork, add the onion, pepper & garlic. Add 2 cups of water, green apples, Hatch Green Chile Peppers, sage & salts. Simmer stew covered for 30 min. Remove lid & simmer for 30 min more till pork is tender. Add water as needed no more than 1 cup at a time. The stew should be thick not thin & soup-like. Serve garnished with Mexican Cojita cheese either crumbled or grated.
Yields 4 servings

This recipe is based on a recipe which was wildly popularized in San Antonio Texas back in the mid 1960's. My mother has a worn Sunday school church cookbook from that time period which this is recipe is based on. This corn bread really can be a meal alone. Enjoy!
Hatch Green Chile Corn Bread

1 Cup Stone Ground Cornmeal
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 Eggs
1 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Melted Shortening or Bacon Renderings
1 Cup Cream Style Corn
1/2 lb. Grated Cheddar Cheese
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Small Onion, diced
2 Roasted, Seeded Green Chile Peppers diced**

In a bowl stir together cornmeal, soda, salt. Beat eggs slightly & add to buttermilk; stir this into the dry ingredients. Add melted shortening or bacon fat. Stir in cream style corn. Mix, add grated cheese, onion, garlic & chile peppers to the cornmeal mixture. Pour into a greased baking pan (9 X 13 inches) Bake @ 375* for 35 min. or till cornbread tests done & is golden brown.
**2 diced pickled jalapenos may be substituted.

Green Chile Dressing

1/3 c. lightly packed cilantro with stems
2 roasted, seeded Green Chilies, chopped
3Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1/2c oil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt,
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
Mix in blender till smooth...makes 1 1/4 cup

I served this dressing over a simple Spinach Salad with sliced onion, sauteed shrimp & garnished with sliced almonds.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sultry Texas Summer & Easy Meals with a Cherry Limeade or 2!

Bring on the ice & squeeze that lime! Regardless of what else you're drinking; Lime juice over ice can certainly help hold the heat off this Summer.

Only 2 Sisters from Texas could think of sitting outside on a patio to eat in 100+ heat in the middle of Summer.

Returning home & family has been a Texas tonic for my Soul. The sister visit, much too brief. The Sonic drinks, hit the spot! All of it is good though, in fact is it downright well with my Soul!

Of all the things I was certain of when we returned to Texas early this Summer; I was positive I'd experience the blazing Texas heat. Of course at the onset I doubt that anyone could have predicted how hot. We have already had 60 days of temperatures over 100*. Our garden efforts have been fizzling out one by one. The only things which have remained strong throughout this heat are the Peppers & my Herbs. I do have high hopes for some Winter Squash which are starting to show some promise for the Fall. I am hopeful cooler temperatures may be heading our direction before too long. While my sister & her kids were visiting we made several manditory stops to Sonic for Cherry Limeade drinks. If you are from the South you know of what I am talking about, nothing cools you down like a Route 66 Cherry Limeade from Sonic! I even took a photo of my sister snapping a shot of her Sonic drink to send send back home. Somethings are beyond words & only a photo will do! Driving back & forth across Central & South Texas we made many quick side trips through our beloved Sonic Drive In! We actually hit many rest stops along our trek across Texas as a result of those enormous Route 66 drinks but every ounce was worth it! While my sis was here visiting we visited Cascade Caverns (which I'd never seen), had some quality family time out in Uvalde, had more BBQ & Tex-Mex than her kids thought possible & made it an all around Texas pilgrimage for her kids making certain they never forget their Texas roots. There is no place like home or in our case, TEXAS!
With family visits & outdoor activities this Summer I have tried to maintain some easy go-to-meals which keep everyone fed & hot times in the kitchen to a minimum. I made this Southwest Soup in the Crockpot which made a filling, easy 1 dish meal.

Perky Peppers are some of the true garden survivors in the Texas heat right now.

Cherry Limeade Tutorial, Texas to Mexico version
You need, Sprite, Limes, Cherry Juice, Rose's Grenadine, *Cherries & lime to garnish & plenty of crushed ice!
~ Fill a 16 oz glass 3/4 full of crushed ice Pour 12 oz Sprite or 7-up over crushed ice. Add 1/4 cup Cherry, squeeze in juice of 1/2 lime & drop lime half into the drink.
Add the cherry juice & a dash of Rose's Grenadine, for exact color (about 1 tsp.) This does nicely with a quick shake in a cocktail shaker. Serve with straw. & garnish with Cherry or Strawberry. Makes 1~16oz drink. Pretend you are driving down a long stretch of highway & Crank that music up & let your hair down, Baby!

Spicy Southwest Chicken Soup

1 1/4 lb. boneless skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 14.5 oz. cans Chicken Broth
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes, undrained (use original or mild)
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 14.5 oz can of Black Beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (4 ounce size) Roasted Green Chilies, chopped
1 tsp. Thyme leaves, fresh or dried
1 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, optional
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
**Garnish: Avocado, Tomato, Cilantro, Cheese, Baked Tortilla Strips

In a large skillet, saute the chicken, onion & peppers in oil until lightly browned. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Stir before serving. Serve on the side & garnish with *Baked Corn Tortilla strips, shredded cheese, avocado, tomato & cilantro.

**To bake Corn Tortilla strips: Slice corn tortillas into 1/2 inch strips, place strips in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray, sprinkle with cumin, red pepper & toss to coat strips. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until strips are crisped & lightly browned.
6 servings.