Welcome to I Love to Cook

Cooking is something I have always enjoyed. I learned to cook at the apron strings of my mother and grandmother. The experience of cooking brings me both pleasure and peace of mind.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homemade Enchilada Sauce & Enchiladas

Our Thanksgiving weekend included a quick pre-family dinner for my sister, neice, nephew, and my wife.  My sister Suzanne gave me a quick homemade enchilada sauce recipe, which we then used to make simple enchiladas.

Enchilada Sauce Ingredients
Olive Oil
Finely Chopped Garlic
Finely Chopped White Onion
Cheyenne Pepper
Red Chile Powder
Tomato Sauce

Enchilada Sauce Preparation 
In a skillet heat olive oil, add the splices, garlic and onion.  Heat until the onions are translucent and add tomato sauce.  Continue to  cook the mixture until it reduces by half.  If it gets too thick add alittle water back into the mixture.  Allow the mixture to slightlu cool.

Preparation Enchilada Ingredients
Cooked Meat (Ground Meat, Chicken, Pork) - Optional

Enchilada Preparation 
Drip the tortillas into the warm enchilada sauce, ensuring that both sides are thoroughly coated.  Arrange the dipped tortilla in a baking pan and fill with cheese, onions, and meat (if desired).  Roll the tortilla ingredients in the tortilla shell.  After the pan is filled with the rolled tortillas ana ingredients, pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese.  Place the contents into a oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F.  Allow the enchiladas to cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until the cheese inside the enchiladas have had time to completely melt.

Serving Suggestions
These simple enchiladas go well with rice & beans as well as quacamole, sour cream, and tortila chips

Gluten Free Quinoa Stuffing

The 2010 Thanksgiving was spent with the family and essentially everything was provided by my mom.  A few sides such as a Ceasar salad from my brother, truffle mashpotatoes was my addition, and then a lot of help around the kitchen by my sisters and nieces.  A great time was hed by all.  Since several of our family have to avoid gluten I tried a stove top substitution with Quinoa.

Chicken Broth
Poultry Spice
Salt & Pepper
Optional - Pre grilled diced chicken

Prepare the quinoa per the package instructions - basically the standard 2 cups of liquid to a cup of grain, boil, simmer with cover, and fluff
While the quinoa is boiling add chopped celery and onion
Season with sage and poultry spice.  I used about 2 - 3 tsp for four coups of broth
Season with salt and pepper
Optional - to add a little protein to the dish I added a pre grilled diced chicken breast

Plating suggestions
At our dinner it was truly a family pot luck and we were out of bowls and serving directly from the pot.  However, the dish had a typical stuffing look after it was cooked.  It could easily be dressed up with a little color from parsley, an orange slice, and a few cranberries.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sweet Cinnamon Banana

Using the poaching syrup from the Poached Pears I made a quick but tasty dessert

  • Orange zest (1/2 orange)
  • 4 Tablespoons of the poaching syrup
  • 1 Banana
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter
  • Melt a small amount of butter, enough to coat the bottom of a saute pan
  • Slice the banana into the pan
  • Add the poaching syrup (be careful of the hot butter)
  • Add cinnamon to taste (approx 1/4 tsp)
  • Saute the banana slices until they are tender
The syrup and cinnamon should have fully coated the bananas.  Arrange the slices on the plate with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream

Poached Pears in Honey, Ginger, Pomerganate, and Cinnamon Syrup

I took this basic recipe from Giada De Laurentiis but made a few minor changes.  The poaching syrup was so good that I then made a follow-on cinnamon dish. 

  • 1/2 Btl of Sweet Wine - I used  a Sangria (Bodega De San Antonio, Sangria Blanca)
  • 2 - 4 Peeled pears, peeled & but with the stems left on (Small, firm, ripe Anjou or Bosc pears)
  • 2 Cups of sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of honey
  • 1 Piece of ginger (3/4")
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/3 pomegranate

  • Make a simple syrup with the 2 cups of sugar - 2 cups of water to 2 cups of sugar gently heated until the sugar dissolves
  • In a sauce pan heat approx. 2 cups of wine with the other ingredients (cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, honey, and pomegranate seeds)
  • Bring the solution to a simmer occasionally stirring to dissolve the honey
  • Place the pears into the poaching solution and allow then to cook over low to medium heat until the pears become tender (approx 15 - 20 minutes)
  • Remove the pears and allow them to cool
  • Continue to reduce thepoaching solution over medium heat. Be careful not to burn the solution. NOTE: This will be used as a sauce over the pears when served and is the base that I used for a banana dessert, see next post
  • Strain and remove the cinnamon stick, vanilla pod, and any pomerganate seeds
  • Pour a small amount of the reduced syrup onto a plate
  • Slice & remove the core of the pear,either in half or quarters and arrange on the plate
  • Pour a small amount of syrup over the arrangement
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves
  • Optional - Add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream next to the pears

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lemon/Lime Limoncello Chicken with Limoncello & Sangria Beurre Blanc Sauce

Lime Infused Olive Oil
Orange Infused Olive Oil
Unsalted Butter
White Sangria
Limoncello - (or lemoncello[citation needed]) (Italian pronunciation: [limonˈtʃɛllo]) is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, mainly in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo. Traditionally, it is made from the Sorrento lemon, though most lemons will produce satisfactory limoncello.

Zest the lemon and the lime into a bowl
Squeeze the juice of the lemon & lime into the bowl
Add ¼ tsp of garlic
Add equal amounts of the lemon& lime olive oil (approx. ¼ cup of each)
Stir, cover, and set aside

Prep the Chicken
I used boneless/skinless chicken slice down the middle of the breast so that I have two steaks per breast.
Place the chicken into pan and drench with ½ the marinade made above
Season, cover, and let stand for 2 hours minimum.
Grill the chicken on both side approximately 10 minutes each side

Limoncello & Sangria Beurre Blanc Sauce
Take the remaining ½ of the marinade and add 1 cup + of the white sangria wine
Put on low heat and reduce for about an hour until it is reduced to approximately ¼ cup
Just prior to serving turn the heat on high and whisk in ½ cup unsalted butter

Place the chicken steak on a plate and pour on a generous amount of the beurre blanc

Friday, November 5, 2010

Miso Marinade

Miso Marinade


Miso - 1-2 cups
Soy Sauce - enough to solvate ~ 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Shallots - handful
Lemon Zest - zest of 1-2 lemons

When I made my version I used a little white wine as well

Mix miso, soy sauce, lemon zest, and shallots in a large bowl.  Also white wine if you want.

This is a great marinade for chicken or fish.  Be careful since the soy sauce is salty, you probably will not need additional salt.  You should season to your own taste but taste the mixture before you add any additional salt components.

We used this on a sea bass and the results were fantastic.  A little secret – if you plan to grill or broil, then add a small amount of sugar in the mixture.  This will allow the fish or even the chicken to slightly blacken without burning any meat.  It is actually the sugar that is forming a glaze/char which is nice and crunchy.

Another great contribution from Chef John Surla

Tomatillo Chicken

This is a recipe I made many years ago:

Tomatillo Chicken

1.      Preparation
o       Vegetables preparation
§        Peel and wash about a dozen tomatillo
·        This is accomplished by peeling off the paper like shells and rinsing them in warm water
§        Purée the tomatillo in a blender or finely chop and put the tomatillo and juice off to the side
§        Chop up a medium white onion
§        Optional prepare additional vegetables (i.e. carrots, celery, peppers, etc) :
·        Julienne or chop to a desired size, suggested minimum bite size
o       Seasoning/blacken spices preparation
§        ¼ tsp cumin
§        ¼ tsp red chili powder
§        A dash or two of Cheyenne chili powder
§        ¼ tsp black pepper
§        ¼ tsp ground salt
§        1 tbl garlic powder
o       Chicken preparation
§        Rinse and pat dry 3 – 4 skinless/boneless chicken breasts
§        Slice the chicken breasts in half (lengthwise)
o       Cheese Preparation
§        Grate one lb of cheese
2.      Cooking (vegetables and chicken should be started together or such that the vegetables are ready to add to the chicken before they are over cooked)
o       Chicken
§        Heat olive oil in a skillet
§        Lay chicken pieces into the oil
·        Season with the ½ of the seasoning mixture and lay the seasoned side down
·        Season the opposite side of the chicken breast with the remaining seasoning
§        Brown/blacken chicken on both sides
§        Add ¼ to 1/3 portion of the tomatillo purée to the skillet along with 1 cup of white wine
§        Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes
o       Vegetables
§        Combine ¾ to 2/3 of the tomatillo purée, all of the chopped vegetables, 1 – 2 cups of white wine to a large pot (6 – 8 qts) season as desired and bring to a low simmer.  Do not cover, allow the juices to reduce but not burn, add wine as required to maintain juices. Try to not over cook the vegetables; you will want to have them still crispy when you add it to the chicken.
o       Combination
§        Add the entire contents of the brown/blacken chicken to the vegetable pot
§        Add ½ to ¾ of the cheese to the vegetable pot
§        Stir will apply low heat and allow cheese to melt
3.      Serving
o       Serve mixture over polenta, rice, or tortilla chips with a sprinkling of cilantro and cheese
o       Serve with a glass of the white wine used to cook the vegetables and meat

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tortilla Soup

I brought the chicken stock that I had made back to a boil, added celery, a tomato, cilantro, chives and salt/pepper.  I cooked up a couple of the chicken breast and then cubed the meat.  I spread a layer of corn torillas in the bottom of our bowls, ladled in the broth, added the cubed chicken, sprinkled with cheese, and decorated with a couple of cilantro sprig.

Almost any combination of vegetables can be added and usually I will add a few slices of avacado but had to do without on this day.

Buying boneless/skinless vs do it your self deboning/skinning

I normally buy the boneless/skinless breast of chicken.  The other day I thought why am I paying so much for someone else to prep the chicken.  I bought a large package of breast and proceeded to skin and debone.  Surprisingly it was a breeze.  First I just pulled the skin off the meat.  Then I took a knife and started following the bone and quickly had the boneless/skinless breat in hand.  I do have a good deboning knife and that did make the job easy but any good thin blade (recommend at least 6"+ long) will do.

To add to the advantage of self prepping I took the bones which still had some meat and the skin, placed them in a pot with water & an onion.  I boiled everything slowly for a couple of hours.  We needed to get some other things done so I separated the broth from the bones and skin, placed the broth in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and let it stand for a couple of days.  When I came back to the stock the fat had separated and was easily removed from the lid and the top of the stock.  This stock was great, it did need seasoning - alot of salt but it was more flavorful than any recently purchased chicken broth, even my favorite Wolfgang Puck.

NOTE: Cleaning poultry requires good cleaning practices.  A quick and easy way to disinfect is to mix a few capfuls of bleach in warm water and have it ready.  After all the prep is complete wash the cutting board, knife, and general area with soap and hot water.  Then rinse/wipe with the bleach solution & follow with a clean water wipe/rinse.  Quick, easy, and no salmonella!  Chef John showed me how they kept a warm sink of bleach and water so they could quickly dis-infect their knives and utensils as they went along.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Red Meat Marinade - (Great for Lamb Chops)

Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Salt & Pepper

Finely chop all the dry ingedients and mix together in a 50/50 mixture of olive oil and Canola oil.  The reason for the 50/50 mixture is the canola oil will keep the mixture from solidifying while it is in the refrigerator

Pour the mixture over the meat and ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and all the meat has been coated.  Let the meat marinade until ready to cook (recommend at least over night)

Again this is compliments of Chef John Surla - Thanks John!