Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stuffed Creole Tomatoes

Mmmm, I've added a new delicious side to my repertoire.

I picked up these Creole tomatoes at the farmers' market on Saturday. They were on the small end of the spectrum, but it was no matter. I just allotted two for a serving, though I'm sure with larger tomatoes, one would be sufficient.

Another note on the tomatoes: I'm not sure about the availability of this variety, but if you're not available to procure the Creole tomatoes, feel free to substitute with beefsteak or what have you. It shouldn't make too much of a difference.

I began by hollowing out my tomatoes--using a serrated knife to cut out a square around the stem of the tomato, then twisting out the whole top. Because these tomatoes were so small, I mainly used my fingers to remove the pulp.

At this point, you can either reserve the pulp to mix into the filling, or you can forget to do this and use Bloody Mary mix instead. I "chose" option B, and it was amazing.

But that's a little ways down the road. I preheated my oven to 350 and prepped the ingredients for the rest of my filling.

Hollowed tomatoes, roughly chopped mozzarella, garlic, onions, diced turkey breast
I heated a 12-inch skillet to medium-high, added a bit of olive oil, and then threw on the onions and garlic. (I wish society would allow me to perfume myself with the scent of simmering onions and garlic. Just a little dab behind the ears and on the nape. I would make the people so famished, oh, how they would hunger. (Benefit two: no vampires.))

Once they had softened, I added in the diced turkey breast and sauteed it until it began to brown.

Then I added in salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne, and about a tablespoon and a half of Bloody Mary mix. I stirred up the ingredients to combine, then took it off heat and stirred in the mozzarella.

I spritzed a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and then positioned the hollowed tomatoes.

I de-hollowed them with delicious filling and sprinkled breadcrumbs over each tomato.

Then I topped them with a sliver of butter and placed the baking sheet in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the filling started to bubble.

These babies accompanied--and threatened to outshine--filet mignon (seared in my cast-iron skillet and finished in the oven) and smashed potatoes (prepared by my wonderfully helpful--and grateful--boyfriend!)

Stuffed Creole Tomatoes
Serves 2 (as a side)

5 small creole tomatoes (or 2 - 3 large tomatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 turkey breast slices, diced
1/3 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 teaspoon dried thyme (next time, I'd love to use fresh herbs)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon butter


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mahjouba (Algerian Crepes)

It's the weekend, which means I actually have time to cook!

Last night we went to Texas de Brazil, that glorious house of delicious steak bites and Parmesan chicken and garlic-crusted pork and an unfairly vast salad bar. We kind of jumped the gun on celebrating Andy's graduation, Christmas, and two and a half years together (which have been amazing, and I absolutely can't wait for whatever's next.)

But this evening I rejoiced in cooking for myself again.

I saw this recipe on Saveur.com, and I set out to recreate it as best I could with the help of Fresh Market. I was unable to find semolina or red Holland chiles, but I substituted brown rice flour and Anaheim green peppers.

I began by chopping up the onions, carrots, and chile.

Then I put the mixture into my food processor and chopped the vegetables up until they were finely processed.

I heated up three tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and added the vegetable mixture. I cooked them, stirring often, for about twenty minutes--until all the components were very soft and tender.

Then I stirred in the tomato paste. After a few minutes, I added the freshly crushed tomatoes to the mixture. I continued to cook in a very stirry fashion for about forty to forty-five minutes.

Meanwhile, I made the crepe dough. I combined the rice flour, salt, and water in a bowl, kneading it together in a large ball. I then formed six smaller balls out of the motherlode.

I froze four of these balls--planning to make more crepes soon with different fillings! One with ham, swiss, dijon, and a bechamel sauce sounds absolutely delicious--and let the others rest under loosely draped plastic wrap for thirty minutes.

Once the filling was done caramelizing, I stirred in the chopped cilantro and set it aside to cool.

I took the dough balls one at a time and placed them on a (highly) floured work surface, sprinkling more flour on top, because these buggers were sticky.

I used the heel of my palm to press the dough out, flattening it into a vague rectangle about 10x12.

Mid-pressing. I would never commit any dough-wielding crimes, because the fingerprints would be a nightmare.
Once the dough was fully spread out and paper-thin, I placed 1/2 cup of filling in the center and spread it into a smaller rectangle.

I then gently lifted the long sides of the rectangle with a flour-dusted pastry cutter and folded them over the filling.

Then I folded over the shorter sides. I heated up a 12" skillet to medium and carefully placed the crepe seam-side down, toasting it for about eight minutes on each side.

And here we have it! A nice, fairly healthy and exotic Sunday night dinner!

Mahjouba (Algerian Crepes)

2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 Anaheim pepper, de-stemmed, de-seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 14-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes

3 cups brown rice flour
1 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons salt