Spicy Red Deviled Eggs (low mayo)

These deviled eggs are spicy with cayenne, blushing with red bell pepper, and have only 2 Tb mayonnaise.

Perfect for Easter! or Passover!

I roast the bell pepper ahead of time (450 ‘ for 45 minutes) until it is smooth and, well, slimy.

You can also use jarred red bell peppers. Be sure to remove the skin, seeds, and membrane, or they will clog the tip of the pastry bag.

I based this recipe on 

I dedicate this recipe to Sofia, who loves my deviled eggs so much she even ate them the time I screwed up and added too much salt!

Makes 1 1/2 dozen deviled eggs

9 eggs
1 Tb baking soda
3 Tb  roasted red bell pepper (1/2  pepper), skin, seeds and membrane removed.
2 Tb mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard
about 1/8 tsp of cayenne (about 4 dashes or so) to taste
1 1/2  tsp  lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt to taste
4 fresh chives

The important and rather frustrating thing about making deviled eggs is that your eggs must peel  perfectly smooth, or they will look ugly and may fall apart completely. There are several tricks to ensuring that the shell and membrane slide off the egg smoothly:

Buy the eggs at least a week before cooking.

Add 1 Tb baking soda to the cooking water.

Immerse cooked eggs in an ice water bath

Crack the shells of the cooked eggs by tapping on them with the back of a spoon so  the water seeps inside, between the shell membrane and the egg white. 

Peel the eggs carefully under cool running water.

Cooking eggs: Place 9 eggs in a large pot and cover with one inch water and gently stir in 1 Tb baking soda. Cover pot, heat to boiling, then turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes. You can test them by spinning on a hard surface. If they spin quickly with no wobbles, they are done. Drain the water, then add cold water and several glasses of ice cubes and let the eggs cool for 15 minutes. Then crack them by tapping the shells with the back of a spoon. Add more ice to keep water cold,  and wait at least 5 minutes before peeling eggs. Peel under running water, starting at the tip where there’s a little pocket, then pull off the shells and membrane together.

Pulse the red bell pepper in a food processor until it becomes a smooth paste.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Gently pop out the egg yolks into the food processor.  Add the other ingredients except chives, and pulse until yolk mixture is smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Place the egg halves cut end up on a paper towel to dry. Then arrange them on a platter.

Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip and fill it with the yolk mixture. Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Garnish with the fresh chives.

For this last batch, I made the filling ahead of time and refrigerated the whites and the filling in plastic containers. I filled the eggs the next day right before serving them.

Advertisements

Twice Cooked Fajitas

For Cinco de Mayo I am making fajitas: spicy from two kinds of chili,  fragrant with lime, and tipsy on beer.  This recipe was inspired by my late brother-in-law and Texas barbecue master, Larry Luna. The juicy and flavorful chicken is twice cooked, first on the grill, then braised in the oven with its marinade.  I made  chicken fajitas  here, but you can also make them with skirt steak. Marinade the steak for at least 3 hours, grill it whole, then cut across the grain into strips before braising it in the marinade.


Serves 4

¼ cup boiling water

3 dried chilies such as Chile California, stems removed

2 jalapeños

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 cup light-colored beer such as Tecate

2 limes, juiced; zest peeled in long strips

1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast fat trimmed and sliced,  or  2-3 lb skirt steak.

1 small onion, sliced

4 bell peppers (1 red and 3 green), seeded and cut into strips

2 Tb olive oil

If using skirt steak, slice against the grain and cut into strips. Trim off the fat. Using a tenderizing mallet, pound each strip so that the tenderizing marks show. This is a good way to work out your frustrations and aggressions.

Add chilies to boiling water and let soak for at least 15 minutes. Peel lime zest with vegetable peeler into a long strip, then juice limes. Pour beer, 1 Tb olive oil, and lime juice in blender. Add chilies, jalapeños, soaking water and other seasonings to beer mixture. Whir in blender. Trim fat off of breast, cut into strips, and marinate for an hour or more.


Place chicken on grill, reserving marinade. Put bell peppers and onion in a grill wok and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Grill over medium heat until chicken and onions and bell peppers begin to char. (You can also use a wok or heavy pan over the stove).

Heat oven to 300’ Pour marinade into a casserole or clay pot. Add cooked chicken, peppers and onions and lime zest. Bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and avocado slices. Serve with tortillas, Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans) and  Sonia’s guacamole.

Asparagus and Mushroom Scramble

Asparagus is a symbol of Spring for me. It has a nutty green taste.

Did you know that asparagus tips are immature leaves?

My husband, Jesús, used to pick it as a child farm worker. He told me that once the leaves open, the asparagus is ruined. Because of the urgency of picking the fast-growing asparagus before the leaves open, his family was required to harvest it a grueling 6 ½ days a week!  Jesús never wanted look at another asparagus stalk! I am still working on getting him to eat it.

2 medium asparagus

About 1 Tb minced chives, from 5 chives or 1 green onion (scallion)

2 large mushrooms

3 eggs

¼  tsp butter

1 Tb water

1 Tb grated sharp cheddar or Jarlsburg cheese

a few shakes salt

Soak asparagus and eggs in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes to warm eggs and cleanse asparagus.

Mince chives or scallions.

Rinse asparagus a few times to remove any dirt, then chop finely. Slice mushrooms

Beat eggs then grate cheese into the eggs. Add salt and beat well.

asparagus and mushrooms n green onions

Heat a nonstick skillet. Rub a butter stick over the hot pan until it is coated with about ¼ tsp butter. Add mushrooms, chives and asparagus. Sauté a few minutes, then add 1 Tb warm water so that the asparagus can steam another minute.

Pour eggs over asparagus and gently turn with spatula until desired doneness. Nice with toast.

asparagus and mushroom scramble

Roasted Mushroom-Barley soup

roasted mushroom barley soupThis earthy soup is made with four kinds of mushrooms, although you can vary the type. It’s rich made with beef broth, but vegetarians can use vegetable broth as well. Serves 6

½ cup pearl barley (not to be confused with Pearl Bailey)

5 cups water

1 lb beef femur  bone

2 medium cloves garlic

2 leeks, white and light green part only.

1 onion

4 stalks celery

2 large carrots, peeled

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt, to taste

1 Tb olive oil

2 lbs crimini (brown) mushrooms

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms

4 King mushrooms

1 large bunch of oyster mushrooms

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 to 1/2  tsp white pepper, depending on how peppery you like your soup

3 Tbs cooking sherry

several grinds black pepper

several sprigs fresh thyme leaves to garnish.

Make beef broth: Bring the water to a boil with the beef bone. Chop leeks, celery, carrots and garlic finely and add to the water. Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms coarsely in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Add them to the vegetables along with the salt and dried thyme. Simmer for at least 3 hours. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, skim the fat off the soup. Remove the bone and blend the soup.

Bring soup to a boil. Add barley and let simmer for 20 minutes. While barley is simmering, heat oven to 425 degrees. Clean mushrooms well (I soak them several times in a salad spinner, then clean each one with a brush or paper towel.) Trim the woody ends from the  crimini and shitake mushrooms then toss with olive oil (or spray with olive oil spray) and roast them  for 20 minutes until they are soft.  While they are roasting, chop the oyster and King mushrooms and add them to the broth along with the white pepper to taste.

roasted mushroomsAdd the liquid from the roasted mushroom to the soup. Cut the roasted mushrooms in quarters and slices and add them  to the broth.

Simmer  for 20 minutes. Correct seasonings, adding several grinds black pepper and sherry. Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme leaves on top. Serve the pearl barley inside the oyster mushrooms.

Low fat creamy garlic mashed potatoes

Low fat creamy garlic mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes can be creamy and flavorful without all the calories from cream and large amounts of butter. Enjoy these with your Thanksgiving turkey and gravy.

Do not use green or sprouted potatoes which will be bitter, or those which have cracks or mold spots. Store unwashed potatoes in a dark, cool, dry, well- ventilated place such as a pantry shelf. Sunlight can turn them green, which can be mildly toxic.

Serves 8

4 pounds russet potatoes (about 6 large potatoes). (Burbank russets are best).

2 Tb salt for boiling, 1/2 tsp salt at end

1/2 cup milk

2 Tb butter

2 garlic cloves, smashed

several grinds pepper

Make your mashed potatoes close to serving time. They are best this way.

Scrub potatoes, then cut into large chunks. Use a large stainless steel pot; (aluminum or cast iron can turn the potatoes gray). Place potatoes with 2 cloves smashed garlic and 2 Tb salt  in the pot and cover them with cold water by 1 inch.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for 12-15 minutes until soft. Drain potatoes in a colander, then peel (unless you like the peel on). Heat the milk, butter, several grinds pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt in the microwave or in a pan until hot, but not boiling. While milk is heating, either shred the potatoes and garlic with the shredding disk of a food processor, or pass through a potato ricer. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir the milk mixture gently into the potatoes. Do not over-beat, or the potatoes will become gluey.

Next morning fried leftover mashed potatoes:

Crispy – Creamy potatoes, lower in fat than hash-browns. Great as a side to eggs. Melt 1-2 tsp butter in a large, heavy skillet, such as cast iron. Make an even layer of  1-2 cups leftover mashed potatoes. Let it cook over medium heat for several minutes until bottom is brown. Using a metal spatula, turn over potatoes several times so that they brown on all sides.

Egg Salad Sandwich with Fresh Chives and Red Bell Pepper


I am growing chives in my window sill.

This egg salad is moist from the cooking method and red bell pepper You only need 1 1/2 teaspoons of mayonnaise to make it creamy. The red pepper and fresh chives along with a bit of mustard and a dash of cayenne add great flavor.

If you buy the eggs for  a week before cooking, they will peel more easily than fresh eggs. This is an easy method of cooking hard-boiled eggs. Place 3 eggs in a saucepan and cover with one inch water. Add 1 tsp baking soda to the water which will help the egg peel evenly. Cover pan, heat to boiling, then turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes. Drain, then cover eggs with cold water and ice. Drain and repeat several times, until eggs are cool. Crack the shell by tapping on it with the back of a spoon. Let the water seep inside, between the shell and the egg white. This will also aid in peeling. You may refrigerate eggs until ready to peel, or peel once they are cool. Peel eggs under cool running water to rinse off the bits of shell.

Serves 2
 
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp mayonnaise
4 fresh chives
¼ tsp yellow mustard
1 Tb of minced red bell pepper
several grinds of black pepper
a dash of cayenne
a 1/4 tsp lemon juice
a few shakes salt to taste

The yolks should be bright yellow and a bit soft. Mash eggs with a fork. Mince  fresh chives and stir in with mayonnaise, mustard,  red bell pepper, several grinds of black pepper, a dash of cayenne and  lemon juice, and salt to taste. You can also make this easily in a food processor, especially when cooking for a crowd. Mince the red bell peppers and chives using the blade, then add eggs and other ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Toast some good sturdy bread, and spread egg salad on it.

Minestrone Soup

Fall in the Bay Area brings a few weeks of sunshine to ripen tomatoes, then rainy and chilly days, perfect Minestrone Soup weather. Pick those ripened tomatoes off the withering vines, combine them with broth and chopped veggies and herbs in a big pot. This is a pretty forgiving recipe, so if you want to clean out the veggie bin of your fridge, throw in what you’ve got. You could use frozen veggies  or canned tomatoes. There is a use for everything, even Parmesan cheese rinds! The rind lends a wonderful flavor to the soup. If it doesn’t break up, leave it in the pot when serving.

10 servings:
1 or more Parmesan rinds
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced to make ½ cup
1 bunch red Swiss chard, leaves torn off ribs and chopped fine, to make about 3 ½ cups, dice the ribs
1 large red bell pepper, diced to make 1 cup
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
1 Tb salt (to taste)
½  tsp fresh minced rosemary
1 Tb fresh minced oregano
1 tsp dried basil
6 cloves garlic, minced
several grinds black pepper
One package (4 links) Aidells sun-dried tomato with mozzarella cheese chicken sausage (optional)
1 bay leaf
several shakes red pepper flakes
10 cups (2 1/2 quarts) homemade chicken or vegetable stock Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or vegetable broth (you can use boxed stock, but it won’t be as good!)
1 can tomato paste
4 cups diced tomatoes (Roma is best)
1 tsp sugar
3-4 dried Porcini mushrooms
1 rind Parmesan cheese
1  cup peeled and diced carrots (2 large carrots)
2 peeled and diced red potatoes
2/3 cup small pasta (I used the tiny tubes called ditalini for my last batch, but I have also used salad macaroni)
4 small zucchini, diced to make 1 ½ cups
1/2 pound green beans, chopped
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped.
1 Tb fresh minced basil (about 5 leaves)
 
Garnish:
a few pinches dried oregano to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Heat stock, Parmesan rinds, tomato paste, tomatoes and sugar in a large pot.

Grind dried Porcini mushrooms in a coffee grinder or small food processor and add to the stock. Add salt to taste.

Fry onions, red bell pepper, chard ribs, garlic, crimini mushrooms, celery, and herbs in  olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add to stock.

Slice sausages in half lengthwise and then into half-coins. Stir fry in the same skillet as the onions were in for about 4 minutes, until browned. Add to soup, then ladle some soup into the frying pan and scrape the browned bits into the soup, then pour back into the pot.

Stir in carrots, chard leaves, and potato and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pasta, canned beans, green beans, zucchini, parsley, corn and peas. Cook 10 minutes on medium. Stir in fresh basil.

Discard bay leaf and ladle into bowl. Stir in a pinch of dried oregano, fresh basil, and a few spoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a slice of good bread such as sourdough, Acme herb slab, foccacia, olive bread, or baguette. Manga!