Monday, May 31, 2010

28 Cooks' Memorial Day Remix - Potato Salad with Chili-Cumin Vinaigrette

I was digging through my archives for this potato salad recipe, since it's one of my favorites. I saw the date posted and realized I made this last year for Memorial Day, so I thought I'd share the recipe again, although this time with an updated picture.

Following is the original post:

Everyone loves a picnic - the fresh air, the smell of the barbeque, and the variety of potluck dishes on the table. Usually, you'll find at least one or two mayonnaise-based salads, a macaroni salad, and some sort of potato salad. I'm not crazy about mayo, so I'm always interested in any potato salad without it.

I knew what I wanted to try with this salad, but it wasn't until I tasted the final product that I knew I had hit it. The toasted cumin in the dressing, alongside the fresh cilantro and dried thai chilies, provide a perfect summery dressing with a bit of a twang. Also, since it's mayo-less and uses olive oil as the base, this is very low in calories and fat, which makes it almost guilt-free.

*On the heat scale, it's only about a 2 out of 5*

Potato Salad with Chili-Cumin Vinaigrette

Potato Salad with Chile-Cumin Vinaigrette

5 cups red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1" pieces
1 tsp salt
2 green onions
3 tbsp red onion, diced

1 tsp cumin seeds
4 dried thai chiles
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeno
1 tsp minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
6 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potato pieces into a large saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 tsp of salt. Bring water to a boil, and boil about 8 minutes. Potatoes should be tender when pierced with a skewer. Drain pot, and place potatoes into large bowl. Add green and red onion.
Vinaigrette - place cumin seeds in a small skillet. Over high heat, toast 2 minutes, until seeds are fragrant and brown. Allow to cool, and grind in a mortar and pestle. In food processor, combine cumin, chilies, cilantro, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and rice vinegar. Process until all ingredients are well minced. With motor running, slowly add olive oil until dressing is emulsified.
Pour vinaigrette over potatoes and stir to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cheddar Ale Potato Soup

Yes, I realize we are just getting into spring and the weather has turned warmer, which means it ain't soup season anymore. But I've been on a soup and salad bender lately, and have been craving some hearty cheese soup.

I rarely ever order any sort of cheese soup in a restaurant, because it either comes out way too thick and more suitable for a dip, or with a plasticky taste. I've never made it myself, but for some reason, I woke up this morning thinking I should start.

Although the ingredient list is on the long side, this really is a very easy soup to make. It's not too thick, not too thin, and has just the right amount of cheesiness to it. I've added potatoes to give it more heft, but you could easily substitute broccoli or cauliflower, as the mood strikes.

This is definitely a recipe you'll want to keep on hand for the snappy weathers of fall, or for a rainy spring day when you're just craving something hearty and warm.

Cheddar Ale Potato Soup

Cheddar Ale Potato Soup
Serves 8-10

1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 1/2 cups diced carrot
1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups fat-free half and half
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups beer
4 cups potatoes, small diced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Tabasco
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (depending on saltiness of broth)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
6 cups shredded sharp cheese

In a large stockpot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add celery, carrot, and onion. Cover with lid and saute for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute another minute or so. Stir in flour, mixing well, and cook another few minutes, stirring frequently. Slowly whisk in half and half, whisking well. Slowly add in broth and beer, and then stir in potatoes. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Add Worcestershire, dijon, Tabasco, cayenne, salt, pepper, and dry mustard. Simmer 10 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat. Stir in handfuls of cheese slowly, until melted. Serve with croutons.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Warm and Spicy Black Bean Dip

I have been looking for some sort of warm bean dip recipe to make for quite some time. I've looked at all of my favorite recipe spots and through a few cookbooks, but nothing has really jumped out at me. It wasn't until I had some fresh sofrito in my refrigerator that made me think that it would be the perfect thing to start the recipe.

Looking for a quick and easy recipe to make for impromptu guests? This is definitely it! All ingredients can be kept on hand and it literally takes about 10 minutes to throw together. If you don't have any fresh sofrito, use the jarred type. No matter how this quick and easy dip is made, I guarantee it'll be a hit at the party!

Warm and Spicy Black Bean Dip

Warm and Spicy Black Bean Dip
Serves 3-4

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar (plus more to top, if desired)
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp sofrito

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, mash black beans with cream cheese, retaining some texture of the beans. Stir in remaining ingredients. Top with additional shredded cheese if desired. Spread into a greased baking dish and place into oven. Bake 20-25 minutes, until dip is bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, May 03, 2010


So I have been craving Mexican and Spanish food like nobody's business. Perhaps it's the coming of Cinco de May, although to be honest, it wasn't until I was writing this blog post that I realized it's only 2 days away!

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I made my own Sofrito. As you may or may not be aware, sofrito is the basis of many hispanic dishes. It's the perfect flavoring base for all sorts of dishes. The onion and garlic and cilantro add just the right flavor notes.

As I said, this was my first time making it, and as easy as it was, I can definitely guarantee this will be a repeat recipe. It literally took about 20 minutes, start to finish. It freezes perfectly, so I freeze it in 1/2 cup portions so that I always have it on hand when the craving for Spanish food strikes!

And be sure to check back later this week for more recipes utilizing this wonderful item.


Yields 6 cups

12-16 cloves garlic, peeled
3 jalapenos, roughly chopped
2 green peppers, seeded and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
4 plum tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro, washed and torn

In a food processor, pulse garlic and jalapenos until chopped. Add bell peppers and onions, and pulse. Add tomatoes and cilantro, and process until well combined. Store in the refrigerator for use within 3-5 days, or freeze in 1/2 cup portions for later use.