I’ve had food on my mind a lot lately–Christmas and New Year’s are synonymous with copious rich meals here in France (and I’m not even talking about the chocolates or the deserts either). After eating my way through our Christmas Eve and Christmas day meals, I’ve been feeling a bit guilty and gluttonous….and New Year’s Eve is still to come! Thank goodness, we have soup and leftovers to try to appease my conscience! Père Noël brought me some nice foodie gifts this year too–a freezer (don’t laugh–after four years without one, I’m in heaven), an immersion blender and a taste of Arizona thanks to Linda of iceteaforme.blogspot.com and Katie at Thyme for Cooking‘s Season’s Eatings.
Thyme for Cooking is a food blog that I enjoy reading–Katie’s posts are interesting and fun to read and, most importantly, she cooks food that real people (ie my children) can and will eat. Another bonus, she uses seasonal ingredients that you can find without having to go to gourmet food stores. Every year, Katie organizes a Secret Santa by the name of Season’s Eatings. To paraphrase ever so slightly her instructions–“each participant sends a small gift of a local herb, spice or food that is unique or characteristic of where they live along with a recipe and/or instructions on how to use it.” Once you receive your gift, you get to blog about it, hence this post and public thank you to both women.
This was my first time participating and I didn’t know what to expect. I also had a brief moment of panic after signing up; what could I send that was truly local and that you couldn’t easily find in Arizona? (Dan, my partner, also lives in Arizona.) Brittany is famous for its seafood, not something that one can easily mail. I finally chose to send fleur de sel (Flower of the Sea) from Guérande. Guérande is famous for its sea salt and fleur de sel is the best available. The salt is carefully hand-harvested from the salt marshes in Guérande and then packaged and sold for the delight of chefs and amateur cooks everywhere. Rather than, write about the whole process and why fleur de sel is so special, you should look at David Lebovitz’s article on his visit to Guérande as he’s already put it so nicely. Since I had it in my head when I went shopping that I had to send a spice (yes, the original instructions were more open), I picked out fleur de sel au piment d’Espelette or Espelette Pepper. “Piment d’ Espelette” comes from the town of Espelette in France’s Basque region. The chilies are AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) which means that the place of origin and production methods are strictly controlled/enforced. I figured that anyone living in the Southwest would like trying a new chili and, fingers crossed, you can’t easily get them there. Besides after watching enough reality TV cooking shows, its gotten to be a bit of a joke between my husband and I–if the candidates have a taste test in which they need to list a dishes’ ingredients, you can be sure that there’s salt, pepper and piment d’espelette in the dish somewhere!
Linda also enjoys peppers and chilies. She lives in Arizona near Phoenix and spoiled me with her package. I was more than a little bit surprised when I saw such a big box in my mailbox! She obviously took a look at the blog here as she sent me a postcard tour of Arizona! The desert looks beautiful and the Grand Canyon has been on our “to see” list for years. In keeping with the theme, I also received a chili keychain. I’m particularly touched that she sent me her own red pepper jam! The jam is made with red bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, sugar, vinegar and fruit pectin. She suggested using it with cream cheese on crackers as an appetizer. I’m going to save it for Laura’s birthday next month. Linda also added some green chilies to my package. They are a mild chili that will enhance a dish or recipe. In addition to her recipe below, which we made tonight, Linda gave me a few suggestions for where to add them–scrambled eggs, meatloaf, cheese dips or stews.
Green Chile Egg Puff
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup butter, melted (aprox 113 grams)
- 20 oz. cottage cheese (I used ricotta)
- 20 oz. jack cheese, grated (I used comté)
- 13 eggs
- 1/3 cup flour (aprox 63 grams)
- 1 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 small can diced green chiles
Slightly beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into 13×9 baking dish lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Linda notes that it generally takes another ten or so more minutes for it to be done in her oven.
This made a great dinner–very mildly spicey, not mouth-burning, easy to make and best of all, tasty! A chipotle pepper, on the other hand, is a red Jalapeno pepper that has been ripened, dried, and smoked through a special process and has more kick. Derived from the Aztec word meaning smoke, jalapenos are placed over huge pits and smoke is blown through tunnels running underground. Chipotle characteristics–a unique warm heat and smoky flavor; chipotles are packed in a red adobo sauce made from lightly seasoned tomato broth. Linda notes that they will add a smoky spicy flavor to anything you add them to; “remember a little goes a long way!” She included the following recipe for them:
Grilled Potato Salad
- 2 lbs new potatoes, cleaned
- 1 medium red onion, sliced 1/2-inch think
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 chipoltle chili in adobo sauce, pureed and strained
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add the potatoes and cook until just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain. When potatoes are cool enough to work with, and cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat a barbecue grill. When hot, put potatoes and onion slices on the grill. Cook until lightly browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Carefully turn over and cook until caramelized, about another 5 minutes.
- Put the grilled potatoes and onions in large bowl. Add the bell pepper and the celery. In a medium, non-reactive bowl, combine mayonnaise, lime juice, strained chili liquid, cumin and ground pepper. Add the grilled vegetables and toss gently. Salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 6 servings.
Thank you again Linda for all the goodies and thank you Katie for organizing everything. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! I will definitely be doing this again in 2012–finally a New Year’s Resolution I know I can keep!