All posts by alaskaknitnat

Welcome to Alaska Knit Nat! I was born and raised in Anchorage and have always had a passion for making useful things, whether they are eaten, knit, crocheted, sewn or randomly glued and assembled. I received my bachelor’s degree in French and journalism from the University of Alaska Anchorage and work almost full time at a nonprofit and way over time as a mom.

Authentic Enchiladas Verdes

When we visit my parents’ place in Mexico the best part of our trip is always the food Moña, their housekeeper, prepares. She used to run a restaurant out of her house and she makes some classic Mexican dishes such as chilaquiles and chilies rellenos. Last time we visited she prepared enchiladas verdes. The tomatillo-based sauce was delicate and the cheese-filled enchiladas were absolutely delicious. I’ve been daydreaming of this dish ever since.

My folks are down there now so I asked my dad if he could get Moña to tell him the recipe. Instead, he made a video of her preparing them.

Moña doesn’t measure anything and we don’t have all the exact same ingredients here. It was a fun challenge to translate/transpose her method. I’ll definitely be making these again.

Green Enchiladas

Serves 4

Sauce:

  • 1/2 of an onion, divided
  • 1/2 of a fresh jalapeño, seeded
  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (about 15-20), husks removed
  • 1 packed cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup Mexican-style cream, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup reserved tomatillo liquid (see recipe instructions)
  • 2-4 teaspoons granulated chicken bouillon

Filling:

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 7 ounces crumbled queso fresco (about 1 1/2 cups), 8 ounces grated Manchego or Monterey jack (about 2 cups, divided)

Enchiladas:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place 1/4 of an onion, 1 garlic clove, jalapeño and tomatillos in a saucepan and add enough water to submerge everything. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, add the onion, garlic, jalapeño and tomatillos to a blender. Strain the tomatillo water through a mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup. Place any pulp from the sieve into the blender and pulse blender until smooth. Add cilantro and blend. Add 3/4 cup cream and blend.

Finely chop the 2 remaining cloves of garlic and 1/4 of an onion. Wipe dry the saucepan and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat oil and sauté garlic and onion till soft, about 2 minutes. Add the contents of the blender to the saucepan. Place 1/4 cup of tomatillo water in the blender and swish it around to loosen up any leftover sauce; add to the saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon and taste for saltiness. If it needs more salt, add more bouillon. Turn heat down and gently simmer for 10 minutes so sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and add remaining 1/4 cup of cream; set sauce aside while you prepare the filling.

Sauté the 1/3 cup chopped onion in olive oil until soft, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly and combine with the queso fresco and 1 cup of the Manchego or Monterey jack. Set aside the filling while you prepare the tortillas.

In a frying pan, add enough vegetable oil to liberally coat the pan, about 1/3 cup. Heat oil over high. Add the edge of a tortilla to see if the oil is ready. The tortilla should bubble a little in the oil. When oil is hot enough, add one tortilla and fry just a few seconds on each side, flipping three or four times. You don’t want the tortillas to become crispy, but the oil makes them more pliable. Lift tortilla out of pan and let the excess oil drip off the tortilla. Transfer tortilla to a platter or tray and repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil if needed.

Here’s the technique Moña taught me for how to flip the tortillas in the hot oil.

To assemble the enchiladas, spoon about 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Pat a tortilla with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil, then dip the tortilla into the pot of sauce, letting any excess drip back into the pot. Place tortilla on a prep tray, add a small handful of filling, and roll up the tortilla, placing it seam-side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. You could also add shredded cooked chicken in this step, if you like.

When the dish is packed with enchiladas cover them with a layer of sauce, using a spoon to spread the sauce into every nook and cranny. Top with remaining Manchego or Monterey jack. Cover with foil and bake for 15-25 minutes, until cheese on top is fully melted.

Tomato Farrotto with Spinach and Ricotta

I love pasta. Whenever my bestie Kelly comes over for dinner we usually make a pasta dish. In an effort to try and eat more healthily I decided last time she came over to cook something with equal flavor to my usual pasta craving but with a healthier grain: farro.

I put together a farrotto dish, which is made just like risotto but with the ancient grain farro, which is high in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Much like risotto, this recipe requires a lot of stirring, but with a best friend by your side and a couple of glasses of wine, the time goes by quickly.

I splurged for high-quality ricotta to dollop on top and sprinkled it with fresh chopped basil for that extra-special touch.

Tomato Farrotto with Spinach and Ricotta

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 2.5-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1.5 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced marinated tomatoes (or 2 tablespoons tomato paste)
  • 1 teaspoon Trader Joes umami seasoning (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of white wine
  • 1 1/4 cups uncooked farro
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 generous cup of grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons half and half or cream
  • fresh ricotta, to serve
  • chopped fresh basil, to serve

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine 2.5 cups stock and the crushed tomatoes. Cook till simmering and keep on low flame. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium high with the butter. Sauté the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the marinated tomatoes and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze with the splash of white wine.

Add the dried farro, umami seasoning, dried basil and oregano and cook until farro is lightly toasted, just a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper (I recommend skipping the salt if you used the umami seasoning).

Add a couple of ladlefuls of the hot stock/tomatoes to the pan and stir. Turn down the heat till the pan is at a low simmer. When much of the liquid has been absorbed into the farro, add another couple of ladles of the stock/tomatoes. Continue this until the farro is al dente, about 45 minutes, stirring often. You will need to heat up more stock after you’ve run out of the stock/tomato mixture. I can’t say exactly how much you’ll need. It just depends how much liquid the farro absorbs.

When farro is cooked through, add the chopped spinach and cook until spinach is wilted, a couple of minutes. Turn off heat and add the parmesan and half and half.

Serve with dollops of ricotta and chopped fresh basil.

My Favorite Meatloaf

My mother makes a pretty mean meatloaf. It’s always a little different but has similar components such as tomato sauce, bread, cheese and of course ground meats. For years I adopted her basic recipe as my go-to, which you can view here. But recently a friend gifted me the hefty cookbook “The Food Lab” by J. Kenji López-Alt and I saw he suggested adding gelatin to meatloaf, which I found fascinating. His recipe is quite different from my mom’s and involves a bit more labor. Around the same time I checked out a new cookbook from my local library called “Come on Over.” Author Jeff Mauro has his favorite meatloaf recipe where he uses other ingredients that differ from my mom’s. I decided to take a little from all three recipes to create my new favorite meatloaf.

Some things I love about this recipe:

  • The classic loaf shape makes for perfect serving sizes
  • The gelatin makes it slice so perfectly
  • The cold leftovers are SO GOOD
  • You can make delicious meatloaf sliders as Jeff Mauro suggests.

My Favorite Meatloaf

Serves 6-ish

Ingredients:

  • 24 saltine crackers, roughly crushed
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 packet (1 scant tablespoon) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Lots of ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place saltines in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Place stock and milk in a liquid measuring cup and evenly sprinkle gelatin on top. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large sauté pan and add onion, carrot and celery. Sauté till onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour in stock/milk mixture; add Dijon, fish sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Place this mixture in the bowl with the saltines and mix till well combined. Let sit till cool enough to touch.

Add beef, pork, eggs, cheese, parsley and optional pistachios. Gently mix with your hands until just combined. Pack mixture into a glass loaf pan, pushing out any air bubbles. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan with the foil. This will hopefully keep the loaf from sticking to the foil later (that’s the only downside to my recipe, I’ve found. I haven’t tried spraying the foil, so if you make this recipe, let me know if it works!)

Line a baking sheet with foil. Invert the loaf pan (with the foil still on top) onto the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the baking sheet and using pot holders you don’t care getting gunky, gently jiggle the loaf pan so it comes out. Keep the loaf on the baking sheet and bake another 40 minutes or until internal temperature measures 140 F. Remove and let sit 15 minutes. Turn the oven up to 500 F.

Here is the loaf still in the pan after removing it from the oven.
Here it is after I removed the pan. This will go back in the oven now.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the ingredients in a small saucepan and heating till the sugar is dissolved.

Here is the loaf after the second time in the oven before it was glazed.

Paint loaf with a layer of glaze and bake for 3 minutes. Add another coat of glaze and bake for 3 more minutes. Add a final coat of glaze and bake for 4 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes and any extra glaze.

Glazed and ready to be sliced!

Hominy Chowder

One of my favorite dishes ever is New Mexican-style posole with pork and a deeply flavored red broth. What I love so much about it is the hominy. I start with dried hominy and soak it overnight then simmer it for hours until it pops a little like popcorn. It has the best texture and corny flavor.

Sometimes I just want the hominy without the posole, so today I made a corn chowder-like soup using hominy instead of corn. I recently got to visit a Trader Joe’s in Pennsylvania where I picked up a jar of elote corn seasoning, which seemed like a great way to flavor a Mexican-style corn chowder. This chowder was fantastic and definitely something I don’t want to forget, which is why I’m putting it down here!

If you can’t get a hold of the TJ elote seasoning, I would mix up some sugar, salt, chili powder, cumin and dried cilantro and maybe add in some Tajin, which is easier to come by.

Hominy Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. dried hominy, soaked overnight in water
  • 2 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, cubed
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 fresh Anaheim peppers
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper (or 6-8 mini bell peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons Trader Joe’s elote seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock
  • 2.5 cups rotisserie chicken pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

For garnish:

  • sour cream
  • grated monterey jack cheese
  • fresh cilantro

Directions:

Set your oven to broil. Chop off the stems of the peppers, and make one slice down the side of each, discarding seeds and pith. Press each pepper flat and place skin-side up on a baking sheet. Broil until the skin is black and blistered. Remove from oven and cover with foil until cool to handle. Remove the skins and discard, then dice up the peppers and set aside.

Heat the bacon in a dutch oven and brown, but do not make it crispy. Add the butter, onion, carrot and celery and cook till onions are soft, about 7 minutes. add the peppers, elote seasoning, cumin, bay leaf and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add 6 cups of stock and the hominy. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 3 hours or until the hominy is tender. Add more stock when needed as the hominy will absorb it as it cooks.

Twenty minutes before serving add the chicken bits and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer till chicken is super tender and falling apart.

Ladle chowder into bowls and to each add a big dollop of sour cream, stirring to combine. Top with shredded monterey jack and chopped cilantro.

Chili Crisp with Peanuts and Fried Garlic

Last summer I purchased some chili oil from a local farmers market and learned about the wonders of this condiment. Sadly, by the time I finished the jar the market was closed for the season. I looked into making it myself, having very little knowledge about exactly what dried chili flakes to use.

I went to New Central Market and they directed me to some pulverized Korean chilis, but they didn’t have the look of the stuff I normally see in Thai restaurants. They showed me a jar of dried chili flakes, which I bought, but I had a feeling they were too spicy for me.

The dried chilis sat in my cupboard for months. Then I started seeing targeted ads for Momofuku chili crunch, and I was intrigued as it looked like a turbo version of chili oil.

I found a jar of Dragonfly brand Spicy Chili Crisp with Peanuts at New Sagaya and had to give it a try. WOW! So much flavor. Not just spice, but smokiness, sweetness, saltiness, umami – this condiment packs a punch. I had to try to make it myself.

Chili crisp goes with anything. You can add it to ramen, fried rice, pizza, fried eggs – anything where you want to add a boost of flavor.

I based my recipe on this Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp from i am a food blog. I didn’t have all the ingredients in this recipe, but I also wanted to try to add some improvised flavors, such as Red Boat salt, which is a salt infused with fish sauce, and smoked paprika to give the chili crisp some smokiness.

After making a batch with my original dried chili peppers and developing a rash because it was so spicy (and I thought I could handle some spice!) I tried my recipe again but with regular dried chili flakes (the kind you sprinkle on pizza). These peppers are more mellow and produced a chili crisp that was so delicious I’m having trouble not eating it by the spoonful.

Chili Crisp with Peanuts and Fried Garlic

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dried chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Red Boat salt (or regular salt)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup neutral oil such as peanut
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced thin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 scallions, white part only, sliced thin
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons dried chopped shallots (or onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts.

Directions:

In a heatproof medium bowl, add the chili flakes, salt, smoked paprika and sugar. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the oil, ginger, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick, scallions, garlic, dried shallots and peppercorns. Heat over medium low for about 10 minutes or until the garlic and shallots are golden brown. Place a metal sieve in a large liquid measuring cup and strain the oil. Set aside the aromatics until cool.

Pour the oil back into the pan and heat until just smoking, 350F. Carefully pour the hot oil over the chili flakes. It will sizzle and bubble and start to turn orangey red. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, discard the ginger, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick and peppercorns (if you feel like picking through those, but they are probably ok to go into the chili oil). The crispy scallions, garlic and shallots should be all that’s left in the sieve.

Add the scallions, garlic, shallots and peanuts to the chili oil and stir to combine. Pour into a jar, cover and place in the fridge. My oil solidified a little bit in the fridge, but softens up quickly when placed on hot foods.

Miso Ramen

As autumn descends into what I call “waiting for winter” I crave cozy, warming meals. I’ve been trying out making my own ramen and I think I finally have it down.

As with most of my recipes, this is a flexible dish where you can interchange a lot of ingredients. Baby bok choy or baby spinach, ramen noodles or udon noodles, raw chicken or leftover rotisserie – do what you like, but what’s key is a good broth or stock. I recommend homemade bone stock, but if that’s out of your wheelhouse, Costco carries a “sipping bone broth” that’s remarkably rich and delicious.

Miso Ramen – a simple recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 3 scallions, 1 reserved for serving
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, unpeeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1, 5-inch piece of kombu
  • 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sake (optional)
  • 4 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sweet white or yellow miso
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 ounces chopped baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 pounds ramen or udon noodles
  • 1 brick firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • chili oil, for serving
  • furikake, for serving

IMG_2403

Directions:

In a medium pot, combine the stock, 2 whole scallions, ginger, chicken, garlic, shiitake, kombu, black soy sauce, sake, crimini mushrooms, white pepper and black pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the scallions, ginger, chicken, shiitake and kombu. Slice the shiitake mushrooms and reserve for serving. Shred the chicken and place it back in the pot. Discard the ginger, scallions and kombu. Add the miso and corn to the pot and continue to simmer while you prepare the eggs.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil and gently place four eggs into the water. Let boil for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and run under cold water. Peel and set aside. Chop the remaining scallion and set aside. Add the spinach to the broth and continue simmering while the noodles cook.

Bring the water back to a boil and add the noodles. Boil them according to the package directions. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water to keep them from overcooking.

Divide the cubed tofu and noodles into four ramen bowls. Fill each bowl with broth, being sure to get some good chicken and crimini bits into each bowl. Carefully cut each egg in half and place two halves in each bowl. Divide the sliced shiitake mushrooms into each bowl. Sprinkle each bowl with the chopped scallion and furikake. Top with chili oil to taste. Serve immediately.

IMG_2402

 

Coconut Curry with Air Fried meatballs and crispy tofu

This fragrant curry offers up everything: umami-rich meatballs, tender vegetables and crispy tofu. The air fryer is a great tool for quickly cooking meatballs and getting your tofu extra crispy. Of course you could always use a regular oven to cook the meatballs and pan fry the tofu.

This recipe is based on Food + Wine’s Ginger-Braised Pork Meatballs in Coconut Broth by Jenn Louis.

Ingredients:

1 brick extra firm tofu

Meatballs:

1 pound ground pork

1 green onion, white and green parts minced

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon peeled, grated ginger

1 egg

2 tablespoons panko

2 teaspoons fish sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

Curry:

1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and chopped into 3-inch pieces

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

1, 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

2 cups chicken stock

1 serrano chile, sliced lengthwise and seeds/pith removed

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

zest and juice of 1/2 lime

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup julienned carrots

1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets, stalks julienned

1/2 orange bell pepper, julienned

fresh mint, Thai basil, and cilantro, for serving

jasmine rice, for serving

Directions:

Press the tofu: Slice the tofu brick in half like a hamburger bun and place in a clean dish towel on a baking sheet. Place a cutting board on top and set a heavy pot on the cutting board. Let the tofu drain like this for 30 minutes then cut into cubes and set aside.

Make the meatballs: In a bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix well. Heat an air fryer to 400F. Spray the trays with cooking spray. Form small meatballs and place them on the trays; air fry for 7 minutes. Turn the meatballs and air fry another 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the curry: Place the lemongrass and ginger in a gauze drawstring bag (or let them be loose in the curry and fish them out later). In a medium dutch oven, add the coconut milk, chicken stock, lemongrass/ginger, garlic, serrano, lime juice and zest, fish sauce, ground turmeric and sugar and heat until simmering. Turn down heat, cover and let simmer until meatballs and tofu are done. Add salt to taste.

When the meatballs are done in the air fryer, add them to the curry and continue to simmer while tofu crisps up.

Clean off the air fryer trays and spray them with cooking spray. Add the tofu to the trays and spray the tofu with cooking spray; sprinkle on some freshly ground pepper if you’d like. Place tofu back into the 400F air fryer and cook 6 minutes. Turn tofu pieces and cook another 6 minutes or until tofu is browned and crispy.

When there’s 5 minutes left on the tofu, place the carrots, broccoli and bell pepper into the curry and let cook until veggies are tender. Remove the lemongrass and ginger pouch and discard.

Serve curry with steamed rice topped with tofu pieces and sprinkle on chopped fresh herbs such as mint, Thai basil and cilantro.

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I cleaned out my freezer today and found some broccoli florets lurking in the back. I love broccoli, but only when I steam it from fresh. When it’s already frozen it can be sort of mushy. It’s perfect for soup! Or if you have leftover broccoli in the fridge, you can use that with some fresh baby spinach.

Here’s a delicious recipe I came up with today. The bacon gives the soup a smokey flavor that accentuates the broccoli and sharp cheddar perfectly. Add in potatoes and canned white beans and you give the soup a little more bulk. Serve this with a crusty white bread and you’ve got yourself a delicious wintertime supper!

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bacon, Potatoes and White Beans

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bacon, Potatoes and White Beans

Serves 6, probably

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound broccoli (this doesn’t have to be exact)
  • 2 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and choppped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1 oz. pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup cream

Directions:

If using fresh broccoli, steam it until tender. If using frozen broccoli, thaw it under hot water. Roughly chop and set broccoli aside.

Add bacon to a dutch oven and heat over medium till bacon is cooked through but not crispy. Add onions and cook till translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butter until melted and mix in the flour till a paste forms. Cook this for about 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and scrape up any browned bits. This will thicken very quickly. Slowly stir in the chicken stock. Add pepper, thyme and broccoli and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it’s a consistency you like. This is up to you. I like a chunky soup so I didn’t blend it very long, but if you prefer a smoother soup, go to town with your immersion blender.

Return pot to low flame and add in the potatoes and beans. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cheeses till melted. Stir in the cream. Add salt if desired. Serve immediately.

Posole Raquel

My mother spent several of her young adult years living in New Mexico and that’s where she first learned to cook. My favorite of her dishes was always posole, a pork stew with hominy, cooked all day until the pork is falling apart tender and the hominy is soft and chewy having absorbed the flavors of the soup. The house always smelled amazing when she cooked this dish and I could hardly wait to dip her homemade flour tortillas in the red, flavorful broth.

Many posole recipes call for canned hominy, but that just won’t do for my mom. She always uses dried hominy, which she soaked the night before. There’s something better about dried hominy than canned – it’s a texture thing I guess.

My mom doesn’t use a recipe but I never remember how she makes it. She just gifted me some dried hominy and New Mexico chiles for Christmas so I thought I would finally get down a recipe on my blog so I can stop hounding her every time I want to make it.

Traditionally posole is served with flour tortillas and a variety of fresh ingredients such as chopped cabbage, sliced avocado, sliced radishes, chopped green onions, cilantro and lime wedges. Since my mom’s posole is more stewlike than soupy we skip the salad toppings and just opt for the tortillas to sop up the rich broth. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as my family does!

-Natasha

Posole Rojo – in the style of my mother, Rachel

Serves 6

Ingredients:

8-10 oz. dried hominy, soaked in water overnight

8 dried New Mexico chiles

1 tablespoon olive oil

2.5-3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into cubes

1 onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped

6 cups chicken stock

3-5 cups water (or more chicken stock)

2 bay leaves

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato sauce or marinara sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

The night before, place the dried hominy in a pot and cover with several inches of cold water. Cover and let sit overnight. Drain and set aside when ready to make posole.

Heat a large dutch oven on high and toast the dried peppers on both sides, being sure not to burn them. Set chiles aside. When cool, use scissors to cut off their tops and make a slit up the side of each pepper; discard the seeds.

Add the olive oil to the Dutch oven and heat on high. Pat dry the pork, lightly salt it, and add half of the pork to the dutch oven. Brown on both sides, set aside and add the rest of the pork to brown. Set second batch of pork aside, pour out any excess fat, leaving a little bit for the vegetables.

Add the onion, scraping up any fond that developed on the bottom of the pot as the onions release water. Cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add 6 cups of stock, the bay leaves, oregano, tomato sauce, pork, hominy and the chiles. If there were any bones with your pork, add them too. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat and simmer for several hours until pork is very tender and hominy is soft. If the hominy absorbs too much liquid during cooking, add more stock or water to keep it soupy.

When pork and hominy are tender, remove the chile skins with tongs and let cool. If any pulp remains on the inside of the skins, scrape it off with a spoon and place back into the pot. Discard chile skins.

Serve with flour tortillas and accoutrements such as chopped cabbage, sliced avocado, sliced radishes, chopped green onions, cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.

Holiday Cranberry Punch

Every fall I look forward to picking lowbush cranberries. They are my favorite food to forage – easy to pick and they keep perfectly in the freezer until November when I use them to make Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

I had some leftover cranberries this year and I saw a friend on Instagram share a video of her making cranberry tea. She was kind enough to share the recipe, which she got from a friend in Unalakleet, Alaska named Betty.

I used the last of my lowbush cranberries for this delicious tea, which I’m calling a punch because I added a wee kick of rye whiskey. You can use store bought cranberries or even high bush cranberries if you happened to have foraged those in the fall.

This might have to be a new holiday tradition in my household!

Holiday Cranberry Punch

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups cranberries

1.5 quarts water

1 cinnamon stick

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup orange juice

up to 1 cup sugar (to taste)

Rye whiskey (optional)

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, water and cinnamon stick. Heat to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until the berries are soft and have popped, about 10 minutes.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard pulp and cinnamon stick. Add the lemon juice and orange juice to the pitcher. Slowly stir in the sugar so it dissolves in the hot liquid, until it’s sweetened to your taste. Serve hot with 1.5 oz. of rye whiskey if desired.