Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tex-Mex Chile Cheese Bean Dip

Bean Dip in a Hurry

“Company’s coming… early!  I needed a quick, hearty appetizer to feed some hungry fishermen after the day’s successful fishing trip. Dinner prep was already underway, but I knew they would arrive ready to snack on something... anything. Luckily the fridge held a gallon Ziploc bag full of red beans, already cooked and left from my chili-making venture a few days before. This impromptu dip recipe blended many typical Tex-Mex ingredients, a concoction based on whatever was available in the galley. Mixed and heated in mere minutes, the zippy dip was an unexpected hit while the Capt prepared the barbecue and the group retold the day’s fish tales. An unexpected hit? yes indeed. One guest remarked it tasted better than their regular chili and they would eat it by the bowlful for lunch.

I haven’t tried it for lunch and probably won't - I like my chili chunky. Nonetheless the dip would make a great bean and cheese burrito, a peppy topping for a chili dog, or provide a tasty base layer for a dynamite tostada or quesadilla. Hmmmm, or how about slathering some warm dip on a heated tortilla, then layering some red or green salsa and a cooked egg for breakfast? Ole! Now I had better start blending another batch of bean dip.  

Tex-Mex Bean Dip
With Chiles, Cheese and More

Yields about 3 cups 
2 generous cups cooked red beans (or 2 cans)
1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled & chopped (or some canned jalapenos)
3 tablespoons green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 large roasted red peppers (or 1 medium jar)
1 fat garlic clove, minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 teaspoon Penzeys Chili 9000 (or substitute dried chile powder) 
½ teaspoon salt
mounded ½ cup PepperJack cheese, small dice
Several splashes of Green Tabasco, more or less to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and texture as needed. Spoon into microwave-safe serving bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and heat until bubbling and cheese has melted.

Serve dip with tortilla chips or fresh vegetables, or cover and hold in refrigerator.

Note: guests remarked it tastes better than their regular chili and they would eat it by the bowlful for lunch. Just sayin...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Green Sauce for Salad and Prawns

Fresh Alaskan spot prawns, caught that same day, cooked briefly then shock-chilled in ice water, ready to peel and eat with your fingers – OH MY GOODNESS! That’s good eats!!

It all began when we invited a couple from a boat anchored nearby in Gut Bay (link) to join us for an evening of chili, cornbread and conversation. They arrived with a bottle of wine and a plastic bag bursting with some of their just-pulled and cleaned Alaskan spot prawns. Wow, what thoughtful hostess gifts! These jumbo beauties were perfect to turn a plain green salad into something extra special. The dressing, adapted from one found in a Food & Wine cookbook,  “Soups & Salads”, was delicious on the greens alone as well as on the prawns. Think green goddess with an attitude.

Note: the extra sauce made a second appearance as a cracker and vegetable dip later in the week. There were no extra prawns.

Are you thinking about serving the prawns as a stand-alone treat, an appetizer perhaps with sauce on the side? Peel the cooked and cooled prawns if you feel you absolutely must. I favor the peel and eat as you go method with prawns; it’s messy but utterly delicious. Fastidious friends might use knife and fork or even chopsticks, but fingers are hard to beat for efficiency. Besides, you get to lick the sauce off the prawns and your fingers as you go.  

Great Green Dressing for Salad and Shrimp
Inspired by Food & Wine “Soups & Salads” recipe  

6 anchovy fillets
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Grated zest of 1 small lemon
½ cup mint leaves and stems (or dried mint)
4 ounces olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juce
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium avocado

2 tablespoons water, more or less as needed to adjust consistency (optional)
Pinch of ground white pepper

Add the first 8 ingredients (anchovies through avocado) to a blender jar. Pulse to chop, then blend continuously until smooth. Add water as need to thin as needed. Taste, then season with pepper (and salt if desired) to suit your taste.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Busy in the Galley

In My Kitchen: June 2015

Posting on a schedule can be tricky when weeks pass in between wi-fi connections, so while the post is titled IMK:June, this peek into my galley covers some of April and most of May. Not that it matters, on a long cruise the weeks and months blur and the memories blend. Our travel notes are posted here, if you’re interested in reading the CruiseNews updates from M/V Rhapsody. For a peek inside other kitchens, head over to Celia’s blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for her monthly IMK event and enjoy the posts of some interesting cooks from around the world.

April was a busy month in my galley, well... all over the boat for that matter. Spring always brings a flurry of activity - cleaning, inventory, provisioning and cooking-ahead for the upcoming adventure. I have had printed lists, iPhone notes, post-it notes, Excel spreadsheets, and scribbles on the back of envelopes, and I'm still adding more of this and that to the pantry list. Some specialty items and other things I consider basic are difficult to source in small town groceries. (Note: I'm still adding things as we go!) 

In my galley… I finally have some appropriate storage containers to organize the space under the new cooktop. Round plastic tubs hold sugars and AP flour while the stacked bins hold onions, potatoes, bags of rice and pasta, and assorted dried fruits. This has freed up space in other cabinets, and more storage space is always welcome. 

In my galley... we revel in fresh Spring produce, consuming various green salads, fruit salads and grilled vegetables nightly while we're in town. Once we set out it can be two weeks before I see another grocery store stocked with fresh produce. Bowls of fresh ripe fruit look inviting sitting on the counter, but it’s the plastic Ziploc produce bags that keep most fruits and vegetables fresh longer. That’s a bonus when grocery stops are weeks apart and “unbagged” bananas and mangos seem to go from green to overripe almost overnight.  

In my galley… the cute black bear on the label of this jar of fruit preserves caught my eye. We spend months cruising in SE Alaska photographing wildlife, especially the black bear and grizzly bears. Our black bear in a plum tree photo (link) might make a better jam label. Hmmmm, I hope this jam lives up to my expectations based on its label.

In my galley... sort of. The herb pots hold promise of future flavors. This pot sits outside much of the time, while basil and mint hang out in the galley. Basil doesn't appreciate cold nights or saltspray when traveling and mint just doesn't play well with others - it's a pushy bully in a small pot. The purple flower? that's heliotrope to attract the hummingbirds. 

In my galley... the freezer drawers are neatly packed with meats, frozen fruits and vegetables, and various containers pre-cooked favorites for those times when I need to prepare something in a hurry. A bowl of chili is always a hit - the recipe index lists 6 different chili recipes so you know we love it!

In my galley… I couldn’t resist buying this stunning, multi-toned, turned wooden bowl when we stopped in the small settlement of Meyers Chuck, 32 miles north of Ketchikan. It’s an eye-catching decorative item as well as a functional serving piece. My cruise mementos usually tend toward cookbooks - and photos, of course – but this piece called my name as soon as I saw it through the gallery window.

In my galley… it's all about using favorite, familiar recipes rather than experiment with anything new. Simple seems best when fresh seafood is the main event, and I’d rather spend time outside in this year’s unseasonably warm and sunny Spring weather.

Dungeness crab tastes so sweet and rich - it's worth the effort of cleaning, steaming and cracking a big batch. The daily limit is 6 big males per individual fishing license. That's a lot of crab!

Freshly caught king salmon, grilled with the "not-so-secret sauce" makes a great dinner, and leftovers are popular salad additions.

These dishes have been popular items with other boaters at dock potlucks:

Creamy Potato Salad

Italian Pepper Salad

Kale and Peppers Mac and Cheese Bake

It's time to get out of the harbor and go cruising again! Keep checking back, I'll post whenever I find a wi-fi connection.

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