Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cilantro Pesto

This is a south-of-the-border twist on a classic Italian pesto (which I'm not terribly fond of, in all honesty, but people seem to get offended when I say that, so don't tell people). It's dead simple, and gives a great little kick to seafood, pasta, or as a topping for tacos or burritos.

Cilantro Pesto

  • 1 cup loosely-packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup Monterrey jack cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and even throughout.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Basic Beef Enchiladas

There is absolutely nothing exciting or clever about this recipe. I'm just putting it up because a friend asked for it. You could probably find better recipes all over the place. But it's fast, easy, and even domestically-challenged college boys can't mess it up. Enjoy.

Basic Beef Enchiladas


  • 1 – 2 tablespoons oil or butter
  • 1 small, yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 can green chilies
  • Flour tortillas (the smaller, taco-sized kind)
  • About 2 or 3 cans enchilada sauce
  • Lots of shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, or something similar)
  • Juice of 1 small lime (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
  • Chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil / butter in a large, flat skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the ground beef. Break apart and stir until evenly browned throughout. Add the green chilies. Work them into the ground beef, and stir until evenly mixed in. (add the lime juice, if using).

Pour some of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 inch casserole dish or similar-sized pan. Make sure the whole bottom is coated. Place a few spoonfuls of the beef mixture into a tortilla. Spread it evenly along the length of the tortilla. Roll tightly and place it in the plan. Repeat until you run out of beef.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas, coating as much as you can. Top with the cheese (and cilantro, if using).

Place in the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted, and the sauce is bubbly. Let cool a few minutes. Serve plain, or ranchero style with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and guacamole.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blood Orange Scallops with Sea Beans

This was my attempt at a fancy appetizer. Scallops are kind of intimidating to me for some reason, but they really are super easy to prepare. I found some jumbo scallops at Whole Foods, and they make for a really dramatic presentation with very little effort. I did learn a few things about scallops, though, if you're experimenting with them for the first time.

Scallops have little 'feet' which is just a small, tough muscle along the side which needs to be removed. Also, if you can find dry-pack scallops, they sear much better and keep a much better consistency than wet-pack.

This is also my experience with sea beans, but I saw them used them on Iron Chef one night and so that practically makes me professional. They have a briny crunch to them which pairs really well with the scallop. I used them raw here, but you could probably stir fry them for a minute or two to soften them up (I don't think they need it, though).

And just one more note on the presentation. You'll notice in the picture that I used a blood orange slice to the plate as garnish. The red and orange make a beautiful contrast, but were I to do it again, I would use a supreme wedge of the orange so you could actually eat it rather than just look at it.

Blood Orange Sea Scallops with Sea Beans


  • 2 medium blood oranges
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 or 3 sprigs parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large sea scallops
  • Sea beans, enough to form small beds for each scallop
Supreme 4 segments of the blood orange, and set aside. Place the rest of the flesh from both oranges in a food processor with the cream and salt and pepper. Puree until very smooth.

Remove and discard the feet from the scallops, and then lightly salt and pepper the remaining flesh. If you want to add a few presentation points, slice shallow X's across the top and bottom of the scallops (they sear beautifully that way).

Pour a thin layer of oil in a non-stick pan and heat to medium high (until the oil starts to smoke slightly). Add the scallops and let sit still for a few minutes (3-4) until the edges are seared golden, then flip and sear the other side.

Meanwhile, wash and arrange the sea beans and the orange supreme on the plates. When the second face of the scallops are seared, place on the bed of sea beans.

Quickly pour the orange-cream mixture into the hot pan, and stir quickly to incorporate the olive oil into the mixture. Taste for seasoning, then top the scallops with the sauce.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I haven't forgotten about you

I know it's been a long time since I've posted, and I promise it's not because of you. It's me (this sounds like a bad break-up, doesn't it? Perfect for valentines day).

I have just failed to come up with anything original and good lately, although I have had some catastrophic failures. Such as:
  • Beef spareribs which tasted like they were braised in grape soda. Now mind you, I didn't use grape soda, but somehow that's what it seemed like. The poor cow died in vain.
  • Butternut squash and blue cheese tortellini, which ended up a disaster. The skins fell apart, the vinaigrette was too sour, and it was all around depressing. However, I haven't given up on this combination yet. The mashed butternut squash with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and rosemary wasn't half bad. It's going to become soup this weekend, and I'm excited about that. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • Brussels sprouts which should have been so good, because they had bacon in them (and bacon makes everything better, right?), but they just ended up being greasy and not good. I still don't know what went wrong.
  • I don't even want to talk about the chicken curry.
  • I am convinced that pear cobbler is impossible. Completely impossible. Under no circumstances (and trust me, I've had it under many circumstances, now) can I make it taste good. Nature has forbidden it.
So, that's the list of things I was excited about telling you about, but none of them turned out well. However, here are positive things in the future I hope will turn out:
  • Tomatillo alfredo sauce with cilantro pesto. I'm really close to cracking the jackpot ont his one, and boy, is it good. Look forward to that.
  • Grilled NY strip with shallot sauce
  • Pear and asiago salad with winter greens
  • Jumbo sea scallops with blood orange and sea beans
So don't feel neglected. I'll be back, soon.