22 February 2009

Easy Green Chile Stew

I love Hatch chiles. I have them canned, in the freezer, made into sauce, crushed and powdered. Having New Mexican food after a lifetime of TexMex really opened my eyes to the idea of the chile as a star ingredient. I already add chiles and hot sauce to nearly everything, but always as an ingredient, not as a star.

That all changed one day last September in Hatch, NM at a restaurant called 'The Pepper Pot'. A simple meal of chile rellenos, one chile with red chile sauce, the other with green, was a revelation. The sauces were very plain, seemingly just chile powder, water, a little thickener (flour and oil maybe?) and possibly a touch of salt. All you tasted was the chile. And it was magnificent.

It was so good, that we left early the next day so I could eat there again before we headed to Santa Fe...

This led me, in a frenzy one very cold and gloomy Missouri winter day, to order a boxed Green Chile Stew mix from my favorite source of powdered chiles. I had very low expectations, but it was actually very good for an 'instant' stew. So, I decided to step it up a little. My stew adds beans and corn to make it a complete meal, and still is pretty quick and easy. The box took 30 minutes to make, you can do this one in a pressure cooker even faster.

Easy Green Chile Stew
(If using canned beans, see instructions following the recipe)
makes 8-10 cups

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
6 c water
1 1/2 c zuni red beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 dried chipotle chiles (or substitute 2 tsp smoked paprika, see note)
6 Tbs green chile powder (see note for source)
2 c diced red or yukon gold potatoes
1 c frozen or fresh corn kernels
2 tsp sea salt

Set pressure cooker to 'brown' setting.
When cooker is warmed, add olive oil
Add onions and saute 2 minutes
Add garlic and saute 1 minute
Add water, beans, chipotle & chile powder
Pressure cook at 10 pounds pressure for 11 minutes
When cooker goes off, release pressure and add diced potato
Pressure cook at 10 pounds for 6 minutes
Release pressure and add corn and salt
Stir well so it doesn't stick on the bottom.
Pressure cook at 10 pounds pressure 1 minute
Release pressure and serve.

The stew can be eaten by itself, or served over brown or wild rice. Garnish with chopped green onions and a dollop of sour cream or vegan sour cream. A little grated Chihuahua, Jack or your favorite vegan cheese over the top of each serving is also excellent.

Using canned beans:
Set pressure cooker to 'brown' setting.
When cooker is warmed, add olive oil
Add onions and saute 2 minutes
Add garlic and saute 1 minute
Add potatoes and chipotle
Add water to cover.
Pressure cook at 10 pounds pressure for 6 minutes
Check potatoes. They should be nearly done. If not, cook a minute longer
When potatoes are nearly finished, add remaining ingredients
Pressure cook at 10 pounds pressure for 1 minute
Release pressure and serve

We get our green chile powder from Chimayo To Go . They ship quickly and have very good prices on bulk chile powders. For real Mexican/New Mexican taste, you'll also want to get chicos and dried epazote from this page

For smoked paprika, this is the best stuff EVER! From The Spice House

21 February 2009

Wild Rice Steamed Buns

Chinese steamed buns have to be one of the best foods on the planet. When I first went vegetarian completely, I had given up everything non-vegetarian I ate for 6 months before I was able to give up steamed roast pork buns for good... The place on Lygon St. in Carlton (Melbourne) where I ate them is no longer there, but I'll never forget those buns.

Making buns takes time but isn't difficult. Most of the time involved is waiting around for the dough to rise, and that doesn't require the presence of the cook. Personally, I get bored kneading dough, so have adapted my recipe to use a bread machine instead. You can do it by hand by kneading the dough and letting the dough rise in a greased bowl instead, but I'll take the easy way out.

Given my recent obsession with wild rice, I decided to make a steamed bun using wild rice. These buns are not intended to be a starter course like most Chinese buns are. These are meant to go with a meal as the bread course.

You can, of course, eat them with soy sauce, fresh grated ginger and even some wasabi to cleanse your sinuses, but they are meant to be eaten as a bread.

From the photos, you'll see that my buns don't end up incredibly white like the ones in the Chinese restaurant. In these particular buns, the sauce bleeds through a little, but even if it didn't, that perfect whiteness would not be there. I don't know how they do that, but I do know these taste great even if they aren't so pretty! I use kamut flour to make the sponge because I feel it adds more flavor. However, it is also more yellowish in color than white, so will definitely affect the color of the finished buns.

Wild Rice Steamed Buns

Ingredient list:

For the sponge:

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour I use kamut flour here
1/3 cup warm water

For the dough:

1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (needs 1/4 c more)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:

1/4 c dried mushrooms
2 c boiling water
1 tsp salt
1 T butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 serrano chile, minced
1 T flour
3/4 c cooked wild rice
1 1/4 c cooked brown rice

18 - 20 pieces of wax paper approx 3 inches square

Making these steamed buns requires 5 basic steps:
  1. Make sponge

  2. Make dough

  3. Make filling

  4. Form buns

  5. Steam buns

Make the sponge:

In the pan of your breadmaker, add the first 4 ingredients, mix and set aside for 20 minutes.

Make the dough:

After 20 minutes, the sponge will be bubbly. Add the next 5 ingredients (NOT the baking soda).
Turn your breadmaker on the dough cycle, and let it run for 15 minutes or so, scraping down the sides if needed. The dough will be very sticky but will eventually form a smooth ball
Turn the breadmaker off, and let the dough sit for 1 1/2 - 2 hours to rise. It will triple in size at least. Make filling while waiting.

Make filling:

Soak the mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and drain the remaining liquid through a coffee filter into a measuring cup until you have accumulated 3/4 c of liquid.

In a 10 inch skillet, melt the butter.
Chop the soaked mushrooms into very small pieces
Add the mushrooms, garlic and chile to the butter and cook until the garlic is tender.
Sprinkle the flour over the top of the mixture and saute a minute.
Add the reserved mushroom stock, stirring well to mix it all in.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
When the mixture thickens, add the rice, turn off heat and mix well.
Set aside until needed.

When dough is ready:

Sprinkle some flour on your work surface, and then scatter the baking soda over that. Flour your hands and remove the dough from the bread pan.

Knead the dough gently on the board, forming it into a log about 18 inches long.

Cut the log in half, then cut each of those into 8-12 pieces.

For each piece, roll lightly in flour and smooth out with your hands to about a 2-3 inch circle.
Holding the circle in the palm of one hand, add 1 to 1/2 tsp of filling.
Gently pull up the sides around the filling.
Bring all the sides to a point, twist to seal, and place seal down on a piece of waxed paper.
Keep at least an inch or two between buns - they expand.

Let the buns rise for about 20 minutes.

Buns Rising in Steamer Pan

Bring water to boil for your steamer.
Add buns to your steamer, making sure they are at least an inch apart from each other and the side.
Steam 15-20 minutes.
Remove from steamer, peel off wax paper and eat.

After Steaming - Buns Expand

14 February 2009

Fennel Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions

It's not often that we get nice looking fennel bulbs around here so, when we do, I can't resist buying one. Normally, I just slice it and braise it with a little salt and eat it. But when potatoes are also on sale, you gotta make potato salad, right?

Fennel Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 fennel bulb, cleaned and diced, fronds reserved
Reserved fennel fronds
one recipe vinaigrette (follows)
one recipe caramelized onions (follows)
1 chopped jalapeno or serrano chile (optional)
Salt to taste

Steam the diced potato and fennel until a fork easily penetrates the cubes, about 15-20 minutes. Add the potato and fennel to the vinaigrette and stir. Add the caramelized onions, chiles if using, fennel fronds and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or cold.


2 T mustard (dijon or your favorite)
3 T olive oil
2 T cider vinegar
1 t salt
1/2 t ground pepper
2 t fennel seed, crushed
2 t coriander seed, crushed
1/2 t cumin seed, crushed
1/4 t basil
1/3 c vegan mayonnaise

In a large bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.

Caramelized Onions

2 medium onions, sliced thinly
2 Tbs olive oil
1 t sea salt

In a 10" skillet, heat the oil. Add the sliced onions and salt and cook over low heat, stirring once in a while, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. If you are having trouble getting the onions golden, add 1/2 t of sugar.


This is excellent warm, somewhat resembling a German Potato Salad, but it also great cold. If you want it to be even more like a German potato salad, crumble up some cooked 'fake bacon' at the end.

09 February 2009

Feeling Your Oats

I'm not sure how it happened, but over the years my concept of oatmeal went from stuff you cook in a pot to instant stuff that looked like cardboard poured out of a paper packet and nuked (microwaved). When I was younger, I bought all raw ingredients and made my own baked granola. And from that I evolved into artificially flavored microwave oatmeal? How did I let that happen? The heavily advertised packets promised a vast array of exotic and comforting flavor sensations, but all ended up strongly flavored and tasting artificial. The more flavors I tried, the less interest I had. Eventually, I stopped eating oatmeal completely.

Tae loves porridge, which is what most of the English speaking world calls oatmeal. I like natural and organic and as close to basics as possible. So, I eventually stumbled on Scottish oats when looking for a healthy, basic product to make for her.

Scottish Oats are stone ground and retain the germ, the oil, and the fiber. The indigestible parts are discarded, and everything else is in there. Although there is probably a microwave recipe for them, they don't take all that long to cook and the difference is amazing. Cooking from scratch takes me about 8 minutes, and most of the time, I'm not involved. I dare you to try this properly cooked Scottish porridge alongside your favorite flavored microwave artificially flavored totally processed oatmeal and do a 'taste test'. You'll be eating Scottish Oats and loving it.

The two variations of oats we normally buy are one of these listed next. Although we prefer the Barry Farms oats, we get oats from whichever vendor we are ordering from next.

Barry Farms (our preferred)
Purcell Mountain Farms

Since my oat-eating daughter is vegan, I'll give the vegan recipe here that I make for her regularly. But you can easily substitute another liquid and another sweetener as you wish.

This recipe makes 1 large serving or enough for two if you are adding fresh fruit and flax meal, and all that healthy sort of thing. We actually use this as 1 serving for a human, plus leftovers for our dog, Juno. We'll eventually talk about the dog, but suffice it to say that she is mainly vegetarian and considers herself a true four footed gourmet. And she LOVES this porridge... When Juno needed ear medicine and hated getting it, a little bit of this oatmeal bribed her into not only allowing the medicine, but had her begging for ear medicine...

Toasting the oats before cooking them adds another dimension of flavor. Don't skip that step.

Scottish Oats

1/4 c Scottish oats
pinch salt
1 c almond milk
1/2 t agave nectar

Heat a 1 qt non-stick saucepan over medium low heat.

Add the oats. Toast the oats for a minute or two until they start smelling nutty.

Add the salt, almond milk and agave.

Raise heat to medium.

Using a large spoon, mix the oats and liquid together. You can whisk it together if you wish to eliminate the lumps.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Simmer for about 6 minutes, stirring regularly. If you like thinner oats, stop sooner, if you like thick oats, cook a few minutes longer. As in risotto, the more you stir, the creamier your oats will be. At the minimum, stir enough to keep the oats from sticking or burning.

These oats make a filling breakfast and taste great. Add fruit, flax, yogurt, whatever to them. But try them and you'll be a convert.