August 19, 2013

Breakfast at Home: Orange Breakfast Polenta

This is something a little different, for those looking for a hot breakfast cereal that isn't oatmeal-based. The polenta is soft and creamy (vegans could use almond yoghurt or coconut cream instead of yoghurt), but if you make extra, it sets up quite firmly and can be sliced and fried, for a different effect, the next day. It is a little bit sweet, but not very. If you want it sweeter, you may wish to increase the honey a bit.

We served ours with bacon, because we like bacon, but broiled grapefruit halves would also make a great side. Next time I make this I might use half water and half orange juice, just to bump up the orange flavour without using the extract.

Orange Breakfast Polenta

Serves 2

1/2 cup peeled mandarin orange segments, in juice
2 cups water
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup plain Greek (or Mediterranee) Yoghurt
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon real orange extract (or orange zest)
1 tablespoon honey or sweetener of your choice

Bring the water and the juice from the mandarins to a gentle boil. Add cornmeal in a steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk, and then lower the heat to medium; continue to stir and cook for ten to twelve minutes. (Start with a whisk, then switch to a silicone spatula or wooden spoon as it thickens). When you set your whisk aside, it helps to be able to soak it in water right away, for easy clean up later.

While the polenta cooks, somewhere around the half-way point, add the orange extract or zest, the salt, and the honey. Stir as continuously as possible, being careful that it doesn't bubble up and splash you - hot polenta clings and burns!

After 10 minutes, remove from the heat. Add yoghurt and stir until smooth. Pour into 2 bowls and arrange orange segments on top. Dust with cinnamon or clove if you like.

Pretty, easy, and delicious!

August 11, 2013

Jamaican Tomato Relish

Unlike most of the recipes in my Jamaican repertoire, this is not spicy. Of course, you could change all that by adding a seeded, minced habanero along with the green bell pepper, but that's entirely up to you. It's a snap to make, requiring only a little chopping, a little simmering, and a non-reactive container to store it in.

This relish is great on burgers, hot dogs, cheese sandwiches, savoury pies, as a dip for tortilla chips (or crackers!), and as a bruschetta topping - pretty much anywhere you might otherwise use a salsa. It also keeps for a few weeks in the fridge without loss of quality. It's sweet and tangy and wonderfully summery.

I note that you can use a food processor to dice your vegetables, but the finished effect is much nicer if you chop them by hand.

Jamaican Sweet Tomato Relish

Makes 2 cups

1 medium yellow or red onion
1/2 large green bell pepper
5 medium Roma tomatoes, seeds removed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground Allspice

Finely dice the vegetables, and place them in a medium sauce pan with the sugar. Bring up to a simmer (don't add water - the sugar and the juices from the vegetables will provide ample cooking liquid), and let simmer, covered, over a low temperature for 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, salt and spices, and simmer another 20 minutes (uncovered) over medium heat, to thicken. Allow to cool slightly, and store in a glass jar. Store in fridge and use within 6 weeks.

Note: The first cooking stage smells kind of off-putting, because green peppers cooking in sugar is not the nicest smell in the world. Wait it out, it gets better. Also, try not to breathe in the vinegar when you pour it into the dish - the fumes are choke-inducing. Use your kitchen fan, if you have one.

This has become my favourite sweet relish. I often scoop some up with crackers as a snack.

August 01, 2013

Breakfast at Home: Huevos en Cenotes

This is too good an idea not to try, especially if you find you need to use up a bunch of corn tortillas. For smaller families, those packages of 50 small corn tortillas can take a while to go through. Sure, there's the tacos, and enchilada casseroles, and other classics like migas, or chilaquiles. But this...this is a keeper. It's easy enough to do on a weekday, if you're just doing up one quickly for yourself, and it's a hearty, filling breakfast that will carry you through your morning.

I made a couple of minor tweaks to the Pioneer Woman original recipe that in spired this, the most significant being a tiny pinch of cheese between the layers of tortillas, which acts as an anchor to keep the bits from sliding around as you flip them. If you're feeling really feisty, tuck a little minced chile into the cheese mixture between the layers of tortillas. Another minor difference is that I use four tortillas per stack, because I generally stock large eggs in my kitchen. Of course, multiply these instructions by however many people are at your table.

Huevo En Cenote

adapted from Pioneer Woman's "Huevo In The Hole" recipe

Serves 1

4 corn tortillas (4" size)
1 egg
1/4 cup grated cheese, such as Edam (or Cheddar, or Jack, or Mozzarella)
1/2 tablespoon butter or corn oil (or similar, for frying)
freshly chopped cilantro and green onion (optional garnish)
Fresh Salsa (or hot sauce) to serve

Cut out the centre of the tortillas (I used a biscuit cutter, so I had to do them one at a time). Put the middles aside for another use - mini tortilla chips perhaps? Layer the tortilla rings with tiny pinches of cheese (too much, and it will run out the sides and be a bit messy). Preheat a smallish skillet over medium-high heat. Melt a bit of butter right in the area that you're going to place the stack, let it melt and foam out, and then add the tortilla stack. Swirl the stack around a bit (while holding it down firmly) to make sure that the bottom layer of tortilla all gets a little bit of butter on it. Crack an egg into the hole in the stack, and let cook until it is set on the bottom, and starting to turn opaque in the middle. Adjust the heat down to medium, so the tortillas get crisp rather than burned.

When you judge that the egg is about half way cooked through, slide a spatula underneath the stack and flip it over. As with pancakes, a quick, confident, controlled motion is best, but the cheese melted between the tortilla layers does help hold things together.

Once the egg is cooked to your satisfaction, plate and serve. I recommend using a sharp knife to slice through the firm layers of crispy and soft tortillas.

Garnish however you like. Hot sauce, avocado, fresh salsa, cilantro, pickled red onion, bacon, more cheese...really, it's customizable to the nth degree.

This is every good as bit as you suspect it might be.