Monday, August 15, 2011

The Torta Bauce -- Warning -- EXPLICIT Food Lyrics

Warning: You might have thought you knew what comfort food was before you opened this, but you would be wrong.  Dead Effing Wrong.  And if you were to follow this recipe (you'd make your kitchen your Bitch), you'd realize this and immediately go insane with denial, consummate love, and wonder just like I did.  Don't say I didn't properly inform you!  Oh and, send your thanks in the form of monies (so's I can continue to make this all day, everyday) and/or pictures of your own adventures in making this (I would request samples, but they wouldn't make it here fast enough).  Make sure to include facial pleasure expressions while chewing, muchas gracias.  *wink*

Something my sister Hollie introduced me to a little while ago is Foodgawker.  I totally bow to her in thanks for this discovery, but I also say, "Youdammit!" for creating an addict out of me.  I know I was innocent once...nevermore.  Want to experience True Pornography?  Go to this site and Try not to get a Mind/Stomach Boner over how delicious every single food portrait is, or how amazing it is that this thing called The Internet allows you to then immediately access the instructions in which to make that tempting dream a reality, in your mouth and all down the front of your shirt as it should be.

  I peruse this site for hours, drooling and licking my lips at the blatant NomNom eroticism, and obsessing over what my pantry and fridge contain that would allow me to "scratch the itch."  It's safe to say that I have a problem...  Not that I overeat, but that I fantasize about eating and creating food, eating in my imagination and never getting full...okay so, maybe that sounds a bit weird but I wouldn't judge You for it and I certainly feel I can control this...*twitch*

  Also I must add, my husband and I watch waaaaaaay too much 'Man v. Food' on the Travel Channel.  Adam Richman makes food adventures all the more appealing with his humor and warm personality.  And the premise is such a pure guilty pleasure; consume huge portions of a multitude of decadent deliciousness with large groups of cheering fans in the endless depths of the overindulgent American restaurant.  I normally loathe our country for it's plump greedy paws, and yet, I Adore This Show.  Call it what you will -- Hypocrisy -- but it's just damn enjoyable.  I need this not, but I can't resist it!  It doesn't help that I watch this show or scan the food porn when I'm hungry, but it also doesn't make a difference in how full I feel even while watching it and eating...I just Stay hungry.  Given this, we watch it only a few times (a day) a week.

  So there I was last night, sprawled across the couch with my left hand perched atop my belly and the right scrolling through the pages upon filthy pages of food porn.  When what do I see?  A featured photo that strikes me as so familiar and realize how it resembles a featured dish on 'Man v. Food.'

  The show traveled to Butte, Montana for an episode that featured a state staple; the Pasty.  I remember watching this episode and wishing I were there to experience this scrumptiously unique mixture of meat, potato, cheese and PASTRY, most of the time smothered in chili or gravy.  The Pasty was developed in order to provide one big hearty meal in the convenient containment of a pastry shell so that mess could be avoided and utensils would not be necessary, making lunch portable for the hard laborers of the community.  As the generations continued, the Pasty became heralded as a state specialty and a family favorite.  Many versions were constructed over the years and yet the originals have still held true to their delectable simplicity.  I've been desiring the Pasty since I first saw this episode and wish very much to one day experience the Real Thing in Butte, Montana.

  One of the featured photos on Foodgawker led me to this Layered Pastry recipe.  This recipe seemed to replicate the idea of the Pasty; it's filling and construction especially.  Today, among my many kitchen-y projects in preparation for the coming work week, I decided that this would be our dinner. You could say I had a, "GET DIS IN MUH BELL-AY!" state-of-mind, which is loud and confrontational until said Bell-ay is satisfied.  How exciting that I don't have to wait to visit Montana in order to experience this (for Now)! I only have to be patient enough to prepare and construct it properly (and that's Hard enough after waiting even this long).

  Prepping the pastry itself, my thoughts turned to the savory stuffing I would be layering with the crepes.  Suddenly I was struck with the need for spice.  While spice would still blend so beautifully with what the recipe already calls for, my imagination got the best of me.  Glancing at the pinto beans I already had boiling in chicken stock on the stove, I realized what I wanted; Mexican Savory filling.  Not only would I be cooking and shredding chicken, but I would sizzle it in the pan with some Chorizo!  The potatoes wouldn't be alone, they'd be lovingly folded with beans, pickled jalapenos, onions, and garlic.  I could just taste the melted cheese layered with the velvet crepes....I was convinced, and I would not be sorry for the experimentation!  This just might be considered a Torta of sorts!

  Understandably, you might be concerned (based on the Layered Pastry recipe directions) about just how much goes into that there deliciousness and/or how much time it takes.  Weeeel, considering this was my first time attempting such a thing, and my alterations to it, it took a total of 2 hrs.  Don't let this overwhelm you. These felt like two of the most enjoyable hours I've ever spent cooking.  And the sense of anticipation and accomplishment far overshadowed it's daunting potential.  Dare I say you'll actually develop a sense of having Pwn'd your kitchen and the limitless universe of food?  Hmmm?  If that isn't tempting enough then go back to ordering that shitty pizza...

  Shall the brave and ambitious continue?  Yes they Shall!

  I have deemed this culinary adventure:

Torta Bauce

The Outer Pastry 
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 egg beaten with a bit of water
1/2 cup butter

- Use your hands to blend the flour, salt, bp, sugar and butter in a large bowl until it resembles cornmeal.  Stir in the egg/water and add only enough water to knead dough into a smooth, pliable ball.  Leave well formed dough ball in bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins.

- At 30 mins, roll out to 1/4" and carefully spread it over a med-large baking dish.  I used a 10" round ceramic deep dish but feel free to use a 9x13" rectangular dish.  This is quite the Big Bertha, so just make sure your dish is deep enough and plenty sturdy.

The Filling
1 tbsp olive oil
5 boneless, skinless chicken tenders or 2 breasts thawed
2 small links chorizo
3 med/small red potatoes, peeled and cut into smaller cubes
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pickled or fresh jalapenos
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp Spices De Vida(L)  (family patented spices, inquire to purchase:)
2 tbsps tomato cooking base
2 tbsps cilantro cooking base
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar/jack)
1 tbsp milk

Over med-high heat, drizzle oil in large skillet. Add chicken and chorizo, season with spices. Once cooked, allow to cool for 10 mins before chopping/shredding. 

While chicken/chorizo is cooking, boil potatoes for 12 mins or until very tender.  Mash and add to skillet. 

Rinse and drain beans (I boiled mine from a dry state ahead of time in chicken stock, much better if you have the time!), add to skillet. 

Pulse garlic, onion and jalapenos in processor and add to skillet. Stir in tomato and cilantro bases, blend all ingredients gently yet thoroughly.  

The Crepes
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg slightly beaten (reserve 1 tbsp for outer eggwash)
As much water as needed. 
 - Combine flour, salt and egg.  Run your tap water to a very thin stream and hold your bowl and its contents underneath it to receive as much water as is needed, stirring constantly to a thick batter you can easily pour.
 - Over medium-low heat, spread thin a few tbsps worth of batter in a small skillet and flip after several seconds to evenly cook both sides of crepe. DO NOT leave crepes unattended, they will Burn quickly! Seriously, you'll have them all cooked in a couple of minutes so have some patience, dammit.
 - Transfer to a plate to cool. Yields 5-7 crepes.

The Construction
 With your outer pastry spread into and hanging over edges of your baking dish, spoon about a half cup of the filling into the center of the pastry, no wider circumference than an appetizer dish.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded cheese over filling and cover with a crepe layer. Repeat these layers until you've exhausted the crepes, filling and cheese.

Bring the outer edges of the pastry together over the center of your layers.  Pinch and press the dough together gently without stretching/ripping your tender shell.  Place hand over center and Carefully turn entire torta out into your hand. Place it round-side-up back in the dish as pictured below so that the seams are pressed to the bottom of the dish.

Whisk the leftover tbsp of egg with the tbsp of milk. With a soft pastry brush (I use silicone), paint the top and all sides you can.  Drip the remaining egg wash around the edge of the pastry so it can run down to bottom of the dish.

I created this contradiction while I contains liquor too!
Sorry Coke, you have have curves in all the right places, but Pepsi has the substance I adore!

Bake at 375 for 25-35 mins until the pastry is a beautiful buttery golden tone. Allow to cool and slice off your slab, taking care not to scarf it and choke...because this is a Real possibility people!
Doesn't just the sight of this give you the warm and fuzzies?

More scrumptious than I ever thought possible...It defies all logic...
  I honestly hope this brings joy to your mouth and tummy and creates a little niche in your brain for comfort food and the many ways you can bring it about.  I give thanks to the host of Torview Toronto Blog for sharing their recipe.  Go enjoy some savory pastry and remind your tastebuds of just how much you love them...oh and, that Mind/Stomach Boner?  Yea, I'm pretty confident you'll carry that torch for the Torta Bauce for a long time to come. *grin*  You're Welcome!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pornographic Pasta (oh yes, it's That Good)

Back in the saddle again! Who wants to eat?!

Okay, so my goal all along here has been to pass along some helpful little doodads, be they experiments in the kitchen or just some random household advice.  I'd gotten out of the cooking habit for a bit but now I'd say there's a renewed sense of vitality I'm seeking from my food.  That said, I am being extra diligent about what our meals are comprised of.  This isn't to say I'm going all vegan or gluten-free, but I am including more nutritious ingredients such as ground flax, oats, ground nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, avocado, etc. You get the picture.

  Thankfully, I have family members who are not only Wonderful cooks, yet are also as passionate if not more so, than I, when it comes to exploring the Tastiest and most Nourishing recipes. I give full credit to my sister (in law, though dropping that part feels more natural in referring to my husband's pretty awesome siblings and parents), Hollie for experimenting with the following decadence.   If she hadn't taken the near-pornographic photos she did of this amazingness she discovered and then made happen, I am certain I wouldn't have ever thought to create such a thing, especially involving pasta, which is practically a food group all on its glorious own.  So to Hollie, thank you for discovering the possibilities and sharing so passionately with us.  We bow unto thee!

This will be known formally as:

Hollie's Creamy Avocado Pasta
(her Gawk-worthy personal picture)

1 box of your choice pasta, cooked (i.e. Shells, penne, bow tie, celletani)
2 bulging ripe avocados
1 fragrant-as-hell lemon, zested and juiced
4 heaping tbsps olive oil
4 fat garlic cloves
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil OR 1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup finely grated Real Parmesan (no cheap can shit, buy a block of Sargento's for Eff-sake)

- Boil plenty of water and add your pasta. Drain it and slop it back into the pot, cover it and get your filler ready.  You should know how to cook pasta, if not, read the box.
- Toss the garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper, and olive oil in food processor. Pulse a few times.
- Spoon in the avocado, pulse for a chunky feel or cream it, it's delicious either way.
- Add this mix to the piping hot pasta, stir until well distributed. Smother that deliciousness with the Parmesan and basil, sprinkle with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Try not to hog it all and share, or save it for many splendid meals ;)

If you paid attention to the amount of detail that goes into this, you'll realize just how damn simple this is, which makes it all the more satisfying!  I found this tasty, low-carb penne that packs one helluva fiber/protein, low-sodium punch, called Dreamfields.  I used the Penne Rigate because that was the only version available at our commissary.

It doesn't look or taste nasty like whole grain pasta (thank Jeebus), and yet it's just as good for you. This means that eating this pasta, cooked as directed, will supply you plenty of Good Fats, proteins, carbs, amongst all the vitamins you'll get.

I can't stress enough how yummy this pasta recipe is.  I love the zesty flavor of the lemon and avocado combo, and the garlic seems to open up this savory presence and spice.   I love me some good pasta but in recent history, I have not consumed as much as I used to because it fell into my "can't have it" category.  And I'm not huge on plain tomato sauces so that left all the creamy bases I love...but they are what contributed to the weight loss necessity in the first place.   Being given an option like this almost made me cry... Don't judge....because it feels as though healthy doesn't mean sacrifice anymore, so long as you open your mind to the potential of alternative ingredients.  Give me some options to enjoy truly Delicious food and I'm a happier girl.  This is my favorite pasta dish by far now, or at least until my or Hollie's imagination happens upon a new yet similar, savory splendor.

Do I have to convince you any further?  Get that ass in that kitchen and make it, now!