Monday, December 30, 2013

Cheesy Hominy & Green Chile Casserole

 Christmas dinner with friends...

Kevin cooked up a ham!

I knew the perfect side dish to go with ham-- a creamy, cheesy green chile and hominy dish.

While pulling out the ingredients, I realized that I had run out of cumin powder.  Luckily I had plenty of cumin seeds.  Freshly ground spices taste better anyway...

Cheesy Hominy & Green Chile Casserole
1 medium white onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil (for sautéing the onions & garlic)
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
3/4-1 (8-12 oz)cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half
1/4 cup milk
1 28 oz can hominy, drained


Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a cast iron pan, sauté the chopped onion and garlic in oil until tender.

Add the cumin and green chiles.

 Mix in the sour cream and half of the cheese.

Stir in the milk.

Add the hominy and mix well. 

Sprinkle remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° F for 30 minutes.

Serve warm to enjoy the gooey goodness.

If thisn't wasn't being served with ham, it would be  super delicious with chunks of ham mixed into it.

Rio Grande Mud Pie

Growing up, my family Christmas eve tradition was going out for fajitas.  My mom reasoned that we would spend Christmas day cooking up a big meal, so she didn't want to spend Christmas eve in the kitchen as well.  To keep with the family tradition, I invited some friends over for a fajita dinner on Christmas eve and made this pie for dessert.  It's a fantastically decadent pie that combines chocolate, chiles, nuts, and dulce de leche.

Christmas Eve Rio Grande Mud Pie
pie crust
2 cups pecans
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tbs. New Mexico Chile powder
2 teaspoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water

pie filling
1 cup butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon Ancho chile purée
1 teaspoon cinnamon

pie topping
caramel/dulce de leche/cajeta (delicious when homemade, but a big time saver and also quite good out of a can)

For the flour in the pie filling, I used sweet rice flour to keep the pie gluten free.


Preheat the over to 325° F.
Place pecans, brown sugar, and chile powder in a bowl or food processor.

Add melted butter, vanilla and water. With the food processor or a hand blender, grind the nuts until the mixture becomes a fine texture (though I left some bigger pieces of nuts for added texture).

Press into a pie pan.

Bake at 325° F for 20 minutes.

Make the Ancho chile purée  by removing the seeds and stem from one ancho chile pepper. Tear it up into small pieces and place is a small bowl or mug.

Just barely cover the Ancho chile pieces with boiling hot water, and then let it soak the until the chile becomes tender.  Purée in a food processor or with hand blender.

Melt the butter and chocolate chips.  You can do this in a double boiler, but I took the short cut of melting it in my microwave for about 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs.

Add sugars and flour.

Stir the Ancho chile purée and cinnamon.

Pour filling into pie crust.  After adding the cinnamon, some of the butter because to separate a bit, but I just poured it all in the pie crust.

Bake at 325° for 60 minutes.  I placed a cookie sheet underneath to catch the bit of dripping butter that separated…

Once the pie cools, spread caramel/dulce de leche/cajeta on top.

The pie was a big hit! And the pie went well with a bit of eggnog ice cream.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Amaretto Raspberry Granita

I saw a picture in the newspaper yesterday how there's wild blueberries ripe for picking already even though it's still the first half on July! Because of my hectic winter, I still have a bunch of raspberries in my freezer from last summer that I never got around to using, so I thought it was time to use them up.

My friends Casey and Andy came over to play my board game Mooseopoly last night.  I created this board game as an informal education outreach tool for the Yukon Flats region of Alaska to teach the students there about moose ecology.  Basically, it's more like the board game The Game of Life than Monopoly, but the name seemed more fitting.  Casey is a ungulate ecologist focusing her PhD research on moose dynamics in Interior Alaska, so she's been curious to try her hand at Mooseopoly for awhile.

To use up some of my frozen raspberries, I made this Amaretto Raspberry Granita for dessert.  I thought about making a sorbet, but this seemed easier since I don't have an ice cream maker-- the granita is just stuck the freezer for freezing.

Amaretto Raspberry Granita


1 cup water
3/4 c sugar
3 c (frozen) raspberries
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Amaretto liqueur


Place the water and sugar in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and dissolve all of the sugar.

Pour the lime juice over the berries.

Pour the sugar syrup over the berries.  (If using fresh berries, cool the syrup first before pouring over the berries.

Muddle the berries in the sugar syrup to release the juice from the berries.

Strain the berry sugar mixture into a shallow container.

Stir in the Amaretto liqueur.

Place the container in the freezer.  Stir periodically as it freezes (~6-8 hours).


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Celebrating Holi the Indian Festival of Color with Chai and Sabudana

This spring I was pretty busy, so I'm totally late in posting these recipes.  But even a busy spring requires some respite from work and a little play time.  In Alaska, I'm always looking for ways to celebrate and welcome springtime.

Last March when I was back in NYC for my brother & Janejai's wedding celebration, I picked up some Holi colors.

So this past March I invited a bunch of friends over for an Indian food potluck brunch to celebrate Holi.  All sorts of good food!  I made sabudana and chai for the brunch.

I had celebrated Holi with my friend Archana in the past, but this year she's been in NYC.  It sounds like she'll be back in Fairbanks at the end of the summer, so we'll have to have another celebration when she gets back!

Archana taught me how to make sabudana, a savory tapioca dish.  Well, it's not exactly a recipe since there are no set measurements.  It's more like guidelines for making sabudana.  I never seem to get the texture quite right-- my tapioca pearls always seem to clump, but it still tastes delish!  I also might be need to try larger-sized tapioca pearls to solve that problem.


tapioca pearls (~2 cups)
potatoes (5-6 small potatoes)
olive oil
cumin seeds (~2 tbsp)
roasted peanuts (handful)
cilantro (small bunch)

Place the tapioca pearls in a bowl and add enough cold water to barely cover them.  Soak for ~ 4 hours.  Drain off the excess water.

Boil the potatoes until soft.  Remove the peels of the potatoes.

Dice the jalapeño (I remove the seeds to reduce the heat of it).

In a frying pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and cumin seed.  Once the cumin seeds begin to brown, add the jalapeño.  Once that is cooked, add in the potatoes, crushing them with your hands.  Fry the potatoes with the jalapeño and cumin seeds (you might need to add more oil at this point).  When the potatoes are a bit browned, add in the tapioca pearls to the mixture.

Continue to stir as the tapioca cooks. Don't cover the pan since trapping the steam will make the tapioca sticky.

When the tapioca is cooked (and looks translucent),  remove from the heat and place in a bowl.

Stir in chopped cilantro and roasted peanuts.


5 cups of water
1.5 tbsp cardamom
1 tbsp whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 freshly ground nutmeg seed
cut up chunk of crystallized ginger
1/4 cups of dark brown sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you want it)
2 tbsp loose black tea


In a large pot, simmer water and spices for 15 minutes.

Add brown sugar and dissolve.

Remove from heat and add tea leaves.  Steep for 5 minutes and then strain through a cheese cloth.

Add vanilla extra.

When ready to serve, heat equal parts of chai mix and milk together.  Alternatively, you can make a chai latte by adding warmed chai mix to steamed milk.