Category:  Fun Foods

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Baja Chicken Tostadas

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Poultry On August 12, 2010 2 Comments

On a recent trip to Baja California, Mexico, my husband and I stayed in a condominium resort on the coast. Whenever I want fast food in Baja, I can quickly find a “pollo rostizado” (rotisserie chicken), some tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cilantro and chiles. I then emulate the locals by making a tostada out of whatever ingredients I have found.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
8 to 12 corn tostada shells
4 to 5 cups precooked rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded and meat diced
5 to 6 cups shredded lettuce
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 cup finely shredded purple cabbage
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
One Salsa and … Whatever recipe (found in our Recipes, under “Salad Dressings, Salsas & Savory Sauces)
2/3 cup grated Cotija, Manchego or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Place tostada shells on a serving platter and the chicken in a serving bowl in center of dining table.

2. In a separate serving bowl, combine the lettuce, carrot, cabbage and cilantro.

3. Arrange a bowl of the salsa and a bowl of grated cheese next to other bowls.

4. Ask each guest to assemble their own tostadas: add some chicken to tostada shell, followed by lettuce mixture, some salsa and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

5. Enjoy with chilled white wine, beer or a shot of Tequila.

Keep in mind that the fun part is trying to eat the tostada while it breaks and falls apart with every bite.

Buen Provecho!

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Mango Coconut Thai Rice

In Fun Foods, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On August 2, 2010 2 Comments

While lounging under a palm tree at the beach last week, I was suddenly overcome by the memory of a trip to Thailand. In my mind I was comparing the fruitless palms of Santa Monica to those bursting with coconuts on the shores of North Pattaya Beach. One of our meals on the beach had included a side of rice containing coconut and my favorite fruit, mango. Here’s the recipe that I recreated upon my return to Los Angeles.

Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 green onions, white parts finely sliced (green tips discarded)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup Jasmine rice, uncooked
2-1/2 cups coconut water
2 tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala spice or curry powder
1/4 cup coconut milk combined with 1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup finely minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mango (cut into 1/4-inch pieces)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
4 to 6 purple cabbage leaves (for garnish)

1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Stir-fry the onions, bell pepper and rice on medium-low heat for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the coconut water, shredded coconut, salt, Garam Masala or curry powder.

3. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 12 to 15 minutes or until rice looks dry.

4. Pour the coconut-water mixture evenly over the rice. Cover and continue cooking on low for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until rice has absorbed most of the liquid.

5. After 3 to 5 minutes, uncover and gently stir in the cilantro, mango and red pepper flakes.

6. Divide rice evenly among cabbage leaves and serve as a side to poultry, seafood or meats.

Note: Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend and can be found in ethnic grocery stores or online.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nancy’s Cool Coffee Granita

In Fun Foods On July 19, 2010 0 Comments

In July, it’s too hot to drink my afternoon coffee. Instead, I treat myself to a cool coffee granita (Italian shaved ice), made with freshly brewed espresso, sugar and lime juice. Topped with my 5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream, this granita can also be enjoyed as a grand finale to a summer dinner.

Active prep time: 10 to 12 minutes
Inactive prep time: 1 hour, 40 minutes (for freezing)
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground espresso coffee beans
3 cups water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream (found in our Recipes, under Desserts, Creams & Sauces)

1. Brew the espresso coffee in an automatic drip coffee maker using the standard method as in making American coffee.

2. Alternatively, combine the ground espresso beans with the water in a saucepot and bring to a boil.

3. Immediately remove pot from burner and let stand 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Pour and strain the brewed coffee through a paper filter into a glass or porcelain bowl.

5. Stir the sugar and lime juice into the warm coffee and pour into a shallow metal 12 X 9 X 2-inch baking pan and set in freezer.

6. Freeze for about 50 minutes.

7. Using a fork, scrape the iced granita away from edges of pan, and gently stir into the middle of the mixture.

8. Return the pan to freezer. Stir the mixture every 20 minutes (approximately twice more) until the granita (shaved ice) has formed completely.

9. Serve in individual glass bowls, ramekins or cups and top with 5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream (found in our Recipes, under Desserts, Creams & Sauces).

10. Garnish the cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a few espresso coffee beans.

Serve with biscotti or other dry cookie variety.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Kiwi, Mozzarella & Papaya Skewers

In Appetizers / Starters, Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods On July 3, 2010 2 Comments

Lookin’ to make a splash with a fresh and colorful appetizer this summer? Here’s a cool, mouth-watering recipe. These cute looking kiwi, mozzarella and papaya starters appeal to the eye as well as to the palate. And when this bright platter makes its appearance, you’ll notice your guests’ eyes pop out of their sockets and hear them utter the word, “Wowwwwwww!”

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 skewers

Ingredients:
1 Hawaiian papaya
1 bunch watercress, rinsed and spun dry in a salad spinner
5 kiwis, peeled
1 pint cherry tomatoes (2 cups)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls (one-inch mozzarella balls packaged in water)
Six 12-inch wooden skewers
Melon ball scooper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Cut papaya in half and remove seeds with a spoon; set aside.

2. Remove largest and most perfect leaves from watercress stem; set leaves aside and discard stems.

3. Using a melon ball scooper, carve out one-inch balls from the flesh of both papaya and kiwis, setting them aside on a plate as you go along.

4. Take 1 skewer and put it through the center of a watercress leaf, making sure the leaf is pushed to the opposite end of the skewer.

5. Add a mozzarella ball, a watercress leaf, a papaya ball, a watercress leaf, a tomato, a watercress leaf and a kiwi. Repeat pattern until skewer is complete.

6. Assemble the remaining skewers in the same manner.

7. When all skewers are assembled, place them on a serving platter.

8. Sprinkle the skewers with a dash of salt and pepper, followed by a drizzle of the olive oil.

9. Serve immediately.

Alternatively, prepare up to 4 hours ahead, cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Kiwi, Mozzarella & Papaya skewers will keep, refrigerated, up to two days (by the next day, the kiwi may not be as firm but it will still be edible).

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Salsa and … Whatever

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Salad Dressings, Salsas & Savory Sauces On June 28, 2010 3 Comments

In my home, there’s always a freshly made salsa in the refrigerator. I learned the art of making authentic and delicious salsas from my husband who hails from Mexico. He also taught me to pair salsa with “whatever” else you can find to satisfy the moment’s craving. For a quick snack of tortilla chips, a taco, quesadilla, or even panini, salsa is a perfect go-with. You can also substitute salsa for dressings in salads containing chicken or fish.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Makes: 2-1/2 cups salsa

Ingredients:
3 tomatillos (these look like green tomatoes with a dry, paperlike outer skin)
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes
1 Serrano or Jalapeno chile
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
Handful of cilantro (about 1/3 cup, lightly packed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash ground cumin

1. Peel the outer, paper-like skin of the tomatillos; discard skins.

2. Place tomatillos, tomatoes and chile in a 3 or 4-quart pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

3. Cook on medium-high heat, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until skins of tomatoes crack and tomatoes are somewhat soft.

4. Drain and reserve 1/3 cup of cooking liquid. Let tomatillos, tomatoes and chile cool about 10 to 15 minutes (they will be warm).

5. Transfer cooked ingredients to a blender and combine with garlic, cilantro, salt and cumin.

6. Pulse-blend 5 to 8 times for a lumpy salsa. Puree for a smooth salsa.

7. Transfer the salsa to a glass or porcelain bowl. If salsa is too dense, stir in a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking liquid. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 3 or 4 days.

This salsa is is also great with my Misto Peppers Frittata, omelettes, raw veggies or … whatever!

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real