Monday, May 31, 2010

Pastel de Choclo

Corn is sooo cheap right now, you should try making something new with it like Pastel de Choclo! (Chilean corn pie)
Choclo is an indigenous word for corn that they say in Chile (thats where I served my mission). "Pastel de choco" is literally corn dessert. This is an entree dish, but it's called that because the corn is sweetened with sugar. The dish has seasoned ground beef and chicken, sliced boiled eggs, and is topped with a sweet corn pudding.  It sounds pretty wild, but trust me, it's delicious. You could do just one meat if you want, but everything goes together suprisingly well. This makes a lot.

6 ears corn, or 2 cans creamed corn
2 eggs
sugar to taste, ≈4 Tbs for corn mixture
¼-1/2 C corn meal
≈3/4-1 C milk/cream (use corn meal/milk to thicken/thin)
3 garlic cloves
2 onions, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 Tbs Paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
3 Tbs butter
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into 1/4" circles
1 lb chicken breasts

For the fresh, raw corn: cut kernels off of core using a sharp knife, then blend adding a little milk if needed. Heat the corn, 2 raw eggs, and butter in a large pot. Season with oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the milk and corn meal (if using fresh corn, corn meal probably isn’t necessary) little by little, stir constant until the mixture thickens (it should be kinda like pudding, maybe slightly less thick). Cook over low heat 5 min. Set aside while preparing the meat filling. Pound chicken and sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin. Fry in olive oil, a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Cut up in 1" pieces and set aside. Brown meat and onions. Add garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, additional oregano, a couple pinches coriander, and a pinch of red pepper flakes to season. Cook a couple more minutes then pack the meat mixture into a casserole dish sprayed with pam (or you can do individual serving dishes like you would with pot pie). Arrange the hardboiled egg slices, then chicken on top of the meat. Cover the filling with the corn mixture. Sprinkle additional sugar over the top. Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
I do have a couple things you probably don't have to make this dish, but that's okay because they aren't necessary.
I brought back these dishes from Chile that they make there with red clay as well as Merquen, a blend of herbs and seasonings that are smoked and ground. (I put merquen in my ground beef, but the other seasonings work great too!)

This was my very fist time trying pastel de choclo in the states. It tasted good, but I was still figuring out the right texture for the corn.

A Chile Week

I’m so happy to have no clinical today for Memorial Day! Of course, Brad is out of town again. Ugh. Oh well, still nice to have the day off. Yesterday in church a bunch of moms with missionaries spoke in sacrament meeting, it was so good and made me think of my own mission to Santiago, Chile. I have been home for almost 3 ½ years! Every once in a while I’ll remember a dear friend, a taste, a smell, or a random memory that just takes me right back to the year and a half that I lived there. It’s like a whole other life I lived, one that helped me prepare for the one I’m in now. I’m going to share some of my favorite Chilean recipes this week, and maybe even work on my mission scrapbook a bit. Hopefully that will keep me occupied while Brad is gone. This is what my mission was like and what I miss:

It all began when my parents were called to be missionaries in Alaska for 3 years. I always thought missions weren’t for me, but the Lord changed my heart and out of nowhere it started to sound really fun. I went up to Alaska with my parents and we toured the mission, travelling by plane, boat, and train all over Alaska and the Yukon. It was an incredible adventure and great preparation for my mission.

THE MTC: I chopped my hair and took off. In the MTC I loved: the amazing spirit, trying to learn a whole language in 2 months, becoming friends with Tamara, being silly with out district, outstanding weekly firesides, and anxiously awaiting with thousands of other missionaries for our chance to get out into the world and make a difference.

My first area was Lampa, in the campo (country). I understood just enough Spanish to know what people were saying when they’d say “ella no entiende nada” (she doesn’t understand anything)
I had to re-learn to ride a bike and pretend to overcome my fear of gnarly dogs.
 We had a“White Christmas”, which made my first Christmas away from home a little easier. I had the mission Christmas routine down by the second one.
Random things happened everyday, things like goats coming up to you and licking your hip.
Chile has the cutest kids in the world, I would have taken them all home with me if I could. Teaching families was the best, seeing how their lives changed so that their kids could grow up in a happy home with the spirit instead of alcohol and violence.

Then I served in the city. I was there during the Santiago temple open house, so we got to help out with the tours. It was so beautiful and an awesome experience.There were a few more modern conveniences in the city, with the trade off of less beautiful scenery and blowing the black out of your nose at the end of each day. Still met some of the most amazing people. You're actually so happy on your mission, sometimes you don't even realize it.
I ended my mission in one of the most beautiful areas, Santa Maria. Basically, when you eat grapes in the winter, they came right from Santa Maria. I served with the Elders (that is their last name), they are such amazing people and totally became my second parents. All of the sudden, my mission was over. Not gonna lie, sometimes on my mission I looked forward to that day, I imagined how fun it would be to go home and be with my family and relax. I didn't realize I was probably closer to my family when we were 1/2 a world apart than ever, it was so fun serving at the same time as my parents and those weekly letters to and from family meant everything. It was so much harder to leave Chile than I ever expected, hard because I knew that I would never have that same experience again. I was leaving something I couldn't just go back to whenever I pleased, and if I did go back, it wouldn't be as a missionary. I want to go back and visit all my favorite people sooo bad. Hopefully next year I might be able to visit my Chile.

Missions are pretty dang hard, so remember to be nice to missionaries. Most of them are paying their own $ to be there, and get nothing out of it except the satisfaction of coming closer to Christ and sharing that happiness with others. There were so many nice people in Chile who would at least let us step in their house and say a prayer with them, then they'd give us juice. That was awesome.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lazy Friday

Is it normal that after my first 12 hr shift I'm perfectly satisfied with spending my Friday night at home watching TV and "socializing" on the internet? Being married is cool like that, no pressure to go out and party when you're just tired.
We had dinner at Nuch's, a little Italian place here in Holladay. It's a tiny place and a family that came in after us got seated before us because they knew someone there. As we waited I got more and more annoyed, I wanted to tell them I'd been working at the hospital 12 hours and was starving and that people should have to wait their turn. I wanted to do that so bad, but I knew it was probably just my hunger craze talking and it wouldn't be satisfied by freakin' out and stormin' out. Luckily I held out, it was one of the most satisfying meals out I've eaten in a while. I got their special: homemade butternut squash and ricotta ravioli in browned butter w/ yummy roasted veggies. Brad got pesto pizza. We stuffed our faces, and wanted to never stop.

Lomo Saltado

It has been an evolving process trying to recreate me and Brad's favorite dish from the little Rinconcito del Inca, a hole-in-the-wall Peruvian restaurant that dissapeared on us. I think I finally got it this week, it was so yummy! I'm so excited I wanted to share, but I just kinda threw things in there so the measurements are kinda made up. The flavors in Peruvian food are so awesome, won't dissapoint.

2-3 sirloin steaks, sliced thin
2 Tbs oil
2 tomatoes, cored and sliced in strips
1/2 large red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 escabeche pepper, seeded and diced (or habanero boiled to reduce heat)
1 beef boullion cube
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 C vinegar
2-3 Tbs soy sauce
garlic salt/white pepper to taste
parsley, for garnish
Heat oil on med-high heat, add meat and begin to brown, sprinkle with cumin, garlic salt, and pepper. Add onion and saute a couple of minutes. Add garlic, escabeche pepper, boullion, vinegar, soy sauce, and a little water. Let boil a minute then add tomato.  Continue cooking until everything softens and a nice sauce develops, add salt/pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley. This dish is traditionally served on a mound of white rice with french fries on top, yum!

I don't ever want to own a deep fryer, so I tried making some oven fries and they were pretty great! (&easy &healthier!)

2-3 large potatoes
a few Tbs olive oil
Peel potatoes (if desired) and cut in long french fry strips. Toss with olive oil and spread onto a cookiesheet, sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes, moving with a spatula every 5-10 min to make sure they don't stick and cook evenly.

One of my cute, little Peruvian companions taught me how to make this sauce. It's traditionally served on top of boiled and sliced potatoes and eggs with a bed of lettuce underneath. That is yummy too, but it's pretty dang good to dip fries and just about anything in. Brad didn't even care that I got the meat down cause hes just obsessed with this sauce.

PAPA-A-LA HUANCAINA SAUCE (awesome spicy cheese sauce)
1 C milk (maybe a bit less, add more if its too thick)
1 C cubed cheese (I use mozarella or mozarella&cheddar)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1-2 escabeche peppers, seeded
4 saltine crackers
2 pinches aji-no-moto, or a couple animal crackers
garlic salt/white pepper to taste
Blend oil and peppers, add remaining ingredients and blend. Serve at room temp, but refrigerate it afterwards.

Buen Provecho!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

mini cheese-stuffed focaccia

This is a soft pizza dough that I make with mashed potatoes, sooo yummy! (This is the very first cooking video I ever made, don't judge.)
3 C flour
1 Tbs yeast
1 tsp salt
1 C mashed potatoes
In a large bowl mix flour and salt, create a well and sprinkle in yeast. Add 1 C warm water and let sit 10 minutes. Add mashed potato and stir into a soft dough. Knead a few minutes till a smooth ball is formed. Return to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise as room temp 1 hr, or microwave 30 seconds and let sit in the microwave for 5 min. If making a pizza divide into 4 pieces and spread out onto a hot pizza stone, add toppings and bake at 400 for about 10 min.
1/2 C cream cheese
1/2 C parmesan cheese
1/4 C fresh chopped basil
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
Saute garlic in oil, add to a small bowl with cheeses and basil. Stir together and add salt and pepper. Prepare dough from above. After rising spread dough onto a lightly floured surface and spread into a rectangle 1/4-1/2" thick. Cut into 8 rectangles with pizza cutter. Place a spoonful of cheese filling onto each rectangle and spread over 1/2 of te rectangle. Fold over and press sides together to seal in filling. Arrange on a pizza stone or cookie sheet, make indentations on top with fingertips. Brush with additional olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 10-12 min at 375 until lightly browed.

Aji de Gallina.avi

This is an authentic Peruvian dish with my own touch. Everyone I've served it to loves it, so I hope you enjoy it too! It's bright and fragrant with just the right amount of spice balanced out by the rich cream cheese.
2 chicken breasts
4 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp aji-no-moto (or 1 chicken boullion cube)
1/2 tsp white pepper, + more to taste
1/2 tsp garlic salt, + more to taste
2 soft bakery rolls
2/3 C milk
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 escabeche or med spice orange pepper*
1/2 med onion, diced
1/2 C cream cheese
Boil just enough water to cover chicken. Add chicken, 2 cloves minced garlic, and sprinkle with garlic salt and white pepper. Boil about 10 min or until cooked through. (avoid over cooking). Meanwhile, in a small bowl pour in milk, then break up rolls into small pieces and soak in milk. Heat oil in a frying pan and saute onion a few minutes. Seed and dice pepper, add to onions with 2 cloves minced garlic. Add turmeric, garlic salt, pepper, and a few spoonfuls of the chicken broth. (add chicken boullion at this point if using) Shred chicken and add to the onion mixture. Add bread/milk mixture, cream cheese, aji-no-moto, and salt/pepper to taste. Serve hot over white rice.
Buen Provecho!
*Escabeche peppers can be found in the freezer section of a Peruvian/Latino market. A substitute would be 2 habanero peppers, seeded and boiled slightly to remove some of the heat.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Intro to Fine Chocolate

Can you believe that cocoa pods are this huge? I've seen pics, but had no idea!
I absolutely  LOVED tonight! Brad and I went to an intro to fine chocolate tasting class at Tony Caputo's market. I'll admit when it began I wondered what we had got ourselves into. Tony's son taught the class and he began very seriously, almost yelling, explaining how all chocolate is not created equal.
I was slightly afraid of him, so this was the best pic we were willing to sneak of him teaching:

Turns out the class was fun and fabulous, well worth our $ in my opinion. We sat at a table with the founder of the chocolate society of Utah, which I am seriously considering joining.
We learned all about the process of cocoa bean to bar and the difference between quality chocolate and the typical "grocery store bar".  I happily learned that bitter isn't better and that cacao % isn't always what it seems.

check out all the fellow wannabe chocolate connoisseurs:

Smell, taste, check for flavor undertones. Even with the same ingredients and cacao %, depending on the bean type, location, and method of refining many were as different as night and day! It blew my mind.

My loot. I only took a tiny, adorable square of my most favorite chocolate I tried: the amaedei chuao, a symphony of flavors and #1 winner of the Academy of Chocolate World Chocolate award.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

seven layers of heaven.avi

So I've been participating a bit in Paula Deen's Real Women of Philadephia cooking competition (you make different dishes using cream cheese). I've never tried competition and I had never made a video before this. Its the last week, and since they only pick 2 out of thousands of videos my chances are slim. Thats okay though, I learned a lot and had fun! I still have a shot with this video (dessert) and my entree- aji de gallina... both not as good as my side dish that didn't make the cut though! I learned after the fact that they look at personality first then recipe, no bueno. Not that I have a bad personality, its just that if I can barely stand to watch it I can only imagine how painful it could be for a perfect stranger. At least in this one I have a cold, my voice is deeper and I sound slightly less like a squirrel. (I refuse to believe my voice is as tiny and high as my vid camera exposed it to be...but I should still practice mimicking a woman voice from now on, my goal: Catherine Zeta Jones! ha.)
Anyways if you'd like to try this heavely (and sinful) dessert I dreamed up this week, here is the recipe:
1 pkg cream cheese
2/3 Can cream of coconut
2/3 C melted semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 C white chocolate chips
2 containers prepared chocolate pudding
1 C frozen whipped topping
1 small can dulce de leche
2/3 C marshmallow cream
1/2 C nutella
1/2 C cream
1. Whip together cream cheese and cream of coconut until smooth. Spread on the bottom of a shallow bowl. 2. Add 1/4 C hot cream to semi sweet chocolate chips (microwave if not fully melted) spread over cream cheese mixture. 3. Heat dulce de leche in mocrowave 30 seconds with 1-2 Tbs cream to soften. Spread over chocolate layer. 4. Stir pudding and frozen whipped topping together, spread over dulce de leche. 5. Melt white chocolate chips with 1/4 C warm cream, spread over pudding layer. 6. Spread marshmallow cream on top of white chocolate. 7. Warm nutella 30 seconds in the microwave, spread over the top. Garnish with coconut flakes and chopped macademia nuts. Serve at room temp with strawberries, cubed angel food cake, bananas, brownies, pretzels, graham crackers, or any dippers you dream up!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear Lil' Wayne

Today was the first day of my last semester of nursing school, I'm on a children's psychiatric unit.  It's actually been a horrible day... I've been sick and felt crappy all day as rambunctious little kids threw themselves on me. I assumed since today was just an orientation we'd end early. Not the case, a full day with no breaks except a 15 min lunch on site. Since I didn't bring lunch that meant no food all day. I am so happy to finally be sitting at home eating cereal in my PJs. This note, transcribed for one of my little "patients", really brightened my day: (I changed her name just to be safe.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fresh Roasted Coconut

I'm not a big nut person (except hazelnuts and macademia nuts), but coconut fascinates me. Just looking at it makes me happy. It has such a distinct smell and flavor that I can't get enough of. Coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut extract, coconut oil, coconut it, love it, expecially roasted coconut. I've had it at a random stand on a little road in Maui, and some of the nut carts in NY have roasted coconut too. I don't really have the opportunity to get it that often, so I was pretty excited to give it a try after I cracked open that coconut the other day. Expecially since I can make a whole bunch for $3, cheaper than a tiny, tiny bag from a cart dude.

They say you can hit coconuts with the back of a knife in a cirle to open them, that didn't work so I just chucked mine out on our porch and drained the excess coconut water. After that I put it in a 250° oven for about 10 min to loosen the skin, then it came out pretty easy just using a butter knife (the light brown skin is fine to leave on). I used 2 coconuts. (one I had tried to blend, leaving big chuncks and shavings)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg white
½ C brown sugar
1/3 C sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3 C diced coconut (or you could use almonds etc.)
Heat oven to 250°. Beat egg, add vanilla and pour onto coconut in a sealable containter, stir. Mix sugar, salt, and cinnamon and sprinkle onto coconut, seal and shake. Spread onto a sheet covered in foil. Bake 60-80 min, stirring occasionally. Store in an airtight container.

Its okay that I ate this for lunch, right? 
My mom said when she lived in Mexico they would cut up fresh coconut and put lime juice, chili powder, and salt on it. Yum, that'll have to be my next coconut adventure!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

dia de la mama

An awesome thing about being married is sharing the holidays, we’ve pretty much been celebrating every holiday twice. I guess being married implies that motherhood is imminent so even though I’m not a mommy, I even got some special treatment today. At church I was given one of the flower corsages, the Hagens gave me a money tree, and Brad got me a dehydrator! It was so sweet of him and I was so surprised, I wonder if I’m only person who had been brought to tears by the gift of dehydration?

Now I think this story is pretty hilarious, and I have no shame in sharing it...
A few months ago I was talking to my mom about when her and my dad lived in Samoa. My parents served a mission there as a young couple for a couple years with 2 little kids and had kid #3 in Samoa. She told me her favorite thing to eat there was this delicious Palusami, taro leaves cooked with coconut milk. My parents haven't been back there in over 30 years. As mother's day approached I decided to plan a special meal for my mom and to surprise her by featuring Palusami. I figured I could do some google research and figure it out. I do that all the time, but normally with something I've at least seen or tasted before.
I planned a "perfect" island themed dinner. Jamaican Jerk chicken pizza, marinated & grilled pineapple, palusami, and mango flan for dessert. I literally worked on the meal all day. I cracked open coconuts. I washed giant taro leaves and poured coconut milk with sauteed onions in them then wrapped them in foil. I felt awesome.

I brought my parents outfits from Samoa for them to wear and a bunch of their Samoan décor from the storage room. I was so excited for this special meal I thought I had planned perfectly for my mom.

Apparently, guys at Polynesian markets and people who blog about how to make palusami assume you know how to cook with taro leaves… from what I saw on the Internet cooking times varied, so I guessed. We began taking bites and my husband suddenly said he was having an allergic reaction, all of the sudden we all had tingly mouths and throats. My mom passed the Benadryl around the table. What had gone wrong? I washed the leaves… Once the reactions had subsided we discovered on Wikipedia that taro leaves are toxic and contain calcium oxalate which is removed by fully cooking them, apparently low doses undercooked can cause tingling sensations and swelling in the mouth and throat. In larger doses it can cause comas and such. So instead of having a “perfect” meal, I poisoned my family for mother’s day and created a “perfect” memory.

Today we had Brad’s family over and I had a much safer meal planned- Italian.
Gnocci, this stuffed mini focaccia (I entered it a while back in an online cooking competition, this is my no shame post...), and a chocolate raspberry trifle for dessert. Very safe, very yummy. Very much forgot to take a pic.

En final- My mom is probably one of the nicest people I know. Everyone who knows her likes her- she looks for the best in people, is very down to earth, and has had amazing experiences in her life that she always faces with faith. My mom rocks. I’m happy to have a new mom to celebrate with in my life now too, Annabella is an ideal mother-in-law and has made me enjoy sharing in all the new experiences and traditions with the Hagens.

Happy mother’s day!

My Rosata Gnocci: (I made it up trying to copy Gloria's Little Italy, Brad says he likes it more!) :)


4 med potatoes, peeled & cubed
1 Tbs kosher salt
2 eggs
≈2 C flour
Boil potatoes in a large pot with salted water until cooked, ≈15 min. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve liquid. Rice potatoes with a ricer and place on cookie sheets to cool. Let potatoes dry at least 5-10 min. Add more water to the pot and bring potato water to a boil. In a bowl whisk eggs with salt and add potatoes, stir. Gradually but quickly stir in the flour. Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll each into a ½” rope on a floured surface. Slice ropes into ½”pieces. (Can roll with the back of a fork to create ridges if desired.) Drop gnocchi into boiling water in batches. Cook for 2-3 min; they should rise to the surface when fully cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain slightly before continuing. Toss in browned butter and Parmesan cheese, Rosa sauce, pesto, or coat with any pasta sauce.
ROSATA SAUCE (rough measurements)
2 tomatoes
½ can tomato sauce
2 pinches sugar
basil to taste
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs red wine
≈1/3 C cream
Garlic salt/powder, pepper, pollo seasoning (chicken boullion)
While boiling potatoes for gnocchi: Blend tomatoes and simmer in a sauce pan ≈10 min. Add remaining ingredients except cream. Bring to a boil then add cream. In a large frying pan heat 1 Tbs butter with 1 Tbs olive oil. Add gnocchi as it finishes cooking and sauté in the oil with 1-2 cloves minced garlic. Add tomato cream sauce, then ≈1/3 C parmesan cheese. Serve hot.


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