Cowboy Butter

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If you’ve never checked out Delish.com, it’s worth a peek. It’s a food website with recipes, but with interesting, I guess supposedly catchy headlines, like “86 Most Delish Baked Chicken Dinners,” and “135 Most Delish Holiday Desserts.”

Personally I wouldn’t be tempted to look through 86 chicken recipes, or 135 desserts, but somebody must! The website seems popular, and there is a tab for Delish Kids as well, which is smart. Although, “21 Ways to Get Kids Involved in Making Breakfast?” Just put them in the kitchen!

Nevertheless, I came across, in some random way, a recipe for Cowboy Butter from the Delish.com website.

According to the website, the idea of “Cowboy Butter” came from a little restaurant in New York City called Mr. Donahue’s.

My world changed after I dunked a piece of prime rib into the herb-speckled butter, and the wheels really started turning once I realized everything on my plate — crispy potatoes, Parker house roll, and even mac and cheese — tasted good with it.

Well it certainly appealed to me as well, and I knew the next time I grilled steaks, I’d have to make this magic butter.

Cowboy Butter
Printable recipe below

1 cup butter, melted
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
2 teaspoons minced thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic, shallot, mustard, horseradish, cayenne and paprika. Whisk to combine.

Stir in the parsley, chives and thyme.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve warmed.

Whoever came up with this stuff was right. I started not only dipping the steak into the butter, but also the green beans.

Good stuff. That’s all I can say.


I can see it drizzled over grilled meats of any kind, plus seafood like shrimp, crab, and scallops.

Or, over grilled vegetables or baked potatoes. The possibilities are endless.

Make some – you’ll love it!

 

Spiced Beef Salad

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Recently I was perusing my Casa Moro cookbook, written by Sam and Samuel Clark, bookmarking recipes for future use. This one photograph just jumped out at me.


It was a photo of Spiced Beef Salad with Fenugreek and Hummus. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen a salad recipe that wasn’t based on grains, vegetables, greens, legumes or even bread.

It’s basically grilled spiced beef served over hummus.

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I knew it was something I’d make for a casual lunch, served with flatbread.

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And it was wonderful.

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Spiced Beef Salad with Fenugreek and Hummus

1 400 g sirloin steak, approximately 2.5 cm thick
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
3/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon Turkish chili flakes
1 quantity hummus
1 large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
8-12 pickled chilies, optional
Flatbread

Season the piece of beef with salt and pepper. I used flank steak and put it in the sous vide for 48 hours at 135 degrees Fahrenheit


Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and grind.

Add 1 teaspoon salt and a little black pepper to the marinade, which I would refer to as a dry rub.
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After removing the beef from the bag and patting it dry with paper towels, cover the beef with the dry rub.
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Leave to marinate for a good hour or two.

Set a griddle pan over high heat, with a little oil, until it begins to smoke. Grill the beef to medium-rare. Because I had sous vided’d the flank steak, I only needed to brown the meat on both sides; this was accomplished within one minute.
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Set on a cutting board to rest.

To assemble, spread the hummus on a plate or pasta bowl. Slice the steak, and place the slices over the hummus.


Then scatter the parsley leaves all over. (I had to use curly parsley – my local store didn’t have Italian.)

Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of nigella seeds.
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I used a spicy hot olive oil instead, just for some heat, and omitted the pickled chile peppers.
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Serve with warmed flatbread.
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I decided to also add some goat cheese and fresh cherry tomatoes.
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This salad was a feast! And one I will definitely make again.
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Chorizo and Scallop Skewers

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My mother gave me the cookbook Charcuterie for my birthday. She knows me so well!
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The book is mostly recipes, but also contains a chapter on making charcuterie from scratch. I’m in awe of people who make prosciutto and pancetta, but I live in too humid of a region in the U.S. to hang hams in my basement.

The recipes are wonderful, mostly focusing on Spanish, French, and Italian cured meats. The first recipe that caught my attention was a simple skewer of scallops and chorizo. Simple yet total perfection!

If you can’t get your hands on Spanish chorizo, check out my favorite website, La Tienda, for chorizo and all other Spanish foods. If you scroll through chorizo, and you will discover so many different varieties – some for slicing, some for cooking, some for grilling.

The recipe in the book just referred to cubes of chorizo, but I got carried away and purchased Ibérico de Bellota Butifarra Sausage because it intrigued me.

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It is sausage made from Iberian pigs, which are supposedly fed acorns as babies. This raw sausage wasn’t quite firm enough to cube, and not red like authentic chorizo, but it was really good!

When we were in Spain many years, my husband and I would order both jamon Serrano and Ibérico (similar to Prosciutto) and we could not tell the difference. Maybe they just knew we were Americans and didn’t bother giving us the real stuff, I don’t know! But we gave up after a few tries, and stuck to the fabulous but much less expensive Serrano.

In any case, in spite of not having used real chorizo, these scallop and sausage skewers were wonderful. I will paraphrase the recipe from Charcuterie because it’s so simple.

Chorizo and Scallop Skewers

12 – 1″ cubes chorizo or firm spicy sausage
12 scallops, approximately the same size
Olive oil
Ground paprika
Coarsely ground pepper

Heat a small amount of oil in a cast-iron or other heavy skillet. Brown the cubes or slices of sausage on all sides, then lower the heat and cook thoroughly. Place them on paper towels to drain.

Using the same fat from the olive oil and sausage, sear the scallops in the hot oil, then lower the heat to cook through. Place the scallops on paper towels to drain.

Let the chorizo and scallops cool, then skewer them together, with the scallop first, followed by the chorizo.
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Sprinkle on a generous amount of paprika and ground pepper.


I used a mixed peppercorn combination.
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These hors d’oeuvres are best served warm. They could be prepared ahead of time if they were gently re-heated so as not to overcook the scallops and dry out the chorizo or sausage.
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I will definitely be making these again with real chorizo, but I can really see the scallop pairing with just about any kind of sausage!

note: For a handy comparison chart on Spanish vs. Mexican chorizo, check out this website.

Luxurious Short Ribs

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Short ribs are fatty beef ribs, cut literally into short pieces. They sometimes referred to as flanken style, to differentiate them from spare ribs.
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When short ribs are braised, the meat becomes soft, tender, and velvet-like.

Similar to pulled pork, the tender texture of prepared short ribs is why I love this cut of meat. Plus, you serve the meat with the accompanying red wine-based reduction that is rich and flavorful. Once prepared, these ribs pair perfectly with a potato mash, polenta, or risotto, for an extra-special meal.

I chose risotto for my “side,” and decided to make it green using spinach. The combination of short ribs and risotto is a meal you could have at an upscale restaurant, for which you would pay dearly! But short ribs are truly simple to make. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive – not what you’d think from the menu price!

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Braised Short Ribs

Approximately 5 pounds of short ribs
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Flour, about 5 tablespoons
Olive oil for browning the ribs
2 onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups beef broth
1 bottle red wine
2-3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons paprika creme
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste

Season the meat with the salt and pepper, then toss in the flour in a large bowl.


When you’re ready to start cooking, heat some oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Brown the ribs on all sides, no more than four at a time. Turn the ribs with tongs and brown all sides.


Place the ribs in a large bowl and continue with the remaining short ribs. Add a little more oil if necessary, and make sure to bring the oil to high heat before the browning process.
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Turn down the heat to medium, and add the chopped onion. Sauté the onion for a few minutes, stirring as necessary. Add the garlic and bay leaves, and stir until you smell the garlic.

Add the broth and wine and stir well. Bring the liquid to a soft boil, then reduce the heat and cook the liquid for at least 15 minutes.
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Place the browned ribs in the liquid – ideally they are all submerged in the liquid.

Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for about two hours, occasionally moving around the ribs in the liquid. rib11

After cooking, the sauce has reduced slightly, and the meat should be falling off of the ribs. Let everything cool slightly.
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Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place the ribs in a bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
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The next day, remove the Dutch oven from the refrigerator and remove the grease from the top of the sauce. There will be grease.
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Warm the sauce a little on the stove, and then, using a hand immersion blender, blend the sauce to thicken it. If it’s still too thin, reduce for 30 minutes or so. Then blend in the paprika creme and tomato paste, and taste for saltiness.

Remove the rib meat from the bones, and place the meat in the sauce. Heat gently and slowly.
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When the meat has heated through, serve the ribs with spinach risotto or your desired side dish(es).
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For a bit less traditional dish of short ribs, add cumin to the spices and use a generous amount of ancho chile paste, and serve these short ribs over cheddar grits.
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Or, add hoisin sauce and chili paste for a Chinese-inspired dish served with cellophane noodles or grilled vegetables!
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Leftover short ribs are wonderful in quesadillas and sandwiches, so get creative with this luxurious meat!
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As you can see, the short rib meat is tender, and smothered in the rich sauce. A perfect meal for a winter day.
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For the accompanying risotto, I simply added chopped fresh spinach towards the end of the cooking time, before the grated Parmesan. I also used some white pepper, which is optional. If you don’t know how to make risotto, refer to Paprika Risotto for directions.

Paprika-Smothered Pork Tenderloin

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I have mentioned before that I am a food snob, but I’m actually much better than I used to be. Believe it or not, there was a time when I made everything single thing from scratch. I did not believe in buying prepared herb or spice mixtures, pastes, marinades, sauces, and so forth. I still don’t buy marinades or sauces at all, because that’s just silly. However, I have relaxed my ways in the other categories.

To defend myself for a second, why would anyone purchase Italian Herbs when you can just use individual Italian herbs? Why would anyone use a curry powder or garam masala when you can easily own all of the individual components? Why would you purchase Schezuan pepper salt when you can make it so easily?

But we live and learn. And the good thing about aging is relaxing a bit. So I now actually own Italian herbs, a sweet curry powder, Old Bay, a barbecue 3000, a garlic pepper, a smoky salt mixture, a Bavarian spice mixture, a lemon pepper, chili powder, and many more blends, thanks to Penzey’s, mostly, that I never would have dreamed would be in my spice cabinets. And I’m okay with it!

And so I’ve also been a purist when it came to pestos and pastes that can be so easily made in a food processor or blender, with no chemicals or preservatives required! Fortunately, I’ve relaxed in this area as well, and have really come across some delightful products.

One was gifted to me by my Hungarian girlfriend. It’s called Paprika Creme. I could smother this stuff on everything, including myself. In fact, I used it in a paprika risotto on the blog and it was fabulous. I’ve smothered it on chicken, added it to soups and stews, and also used it to season polenta/grits. It’s quite versatile!

It typically comes in a jar, produced by Univer, but it also comes in a tube.

And so, tonight I’m smothering a pork tenderloin with this beautiful, aromatic paprika creme for dinner.
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Paprika-Smothered Pork Tenderloin

Olive oil
1 pork tenderloin, patted dry, and almost at room temperature
Paprika crème

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place a little oil in the bottom of the baking dish. Add the pork tenderloin and roll it in the oil a bit. Pork tenderloins have a smaller end, so I just always tuck that end underneath. Then the tenderloin is more uniform in thickness.

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Then, spoon the paprika creme generously on the top of the tenderloin.

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Smooth the top. I also added a few pieces of purple onion just for fun.


Place the baking dish in the preheated oven. If you are worried about being distracted and overcooking the tenderloin, take advantage of an oven probe if you have one. This little guy has become my best friend in the kitchen, because I’m often distracted.
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Cook the pork until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Or more if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like pink pork. Then remove the tenderloin to a cutting board to rest.


The reason I don’t use a higher temperature with the paprika creme is that I don’t want it to burn. You can see how it looks almost the same as before cooking.

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Slice the tenderloin and serve immediately.

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I served the paprika-smothered tenderloin with steamed Brussels sprouts and some of the onions, which I let brown a little longer in the oven.
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If you love the flavor of roasted Hungarian red bell peppers, you will love this dish.
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I encourage you to try this product. One word of warning, however, the paste stains everything.
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note: There are spicy and mild varieties of paprika creme, and they’re both wonderful.

Paprika Risotto

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Risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make because, like polenta, it can be made so many different ways depending what you put into it. Basically, it’s a rice dish, but made with a special starchy rice that creates a creaminess when cooked the proper way.

Today I wanted to make a risotto using a favorite ingredient of mine called paprika cream. I learned about it from a Hungarian friend and I’m addicted to it. And yes, it is a short cut, but it’s a fabulous one. This is a high-quality product that is extremely versatile. It’s available in a jar made by Univer, but I’ve also used a brand that comes in a tube.


Sure, you can roast your own red Hungarian peppers, peel them, and purée them, but why not use this pre-made product? Especially because you can use a teaspoon, a tablespoon, or much more, depending on what you’re making.

Today I’m making risotto with the paprika creme which will provide the flavor. The flavor is bigger and better by using this product than simply using a sweet or spicy Hungarian ground paprika.

You can serve grilled shrimp or scallops with it or just about any favorite protein. My husband prefers a meat-heavy meal, so for him the risotto will be more like a side dish, along with pork tenderloin.


If you need a tutorial on making risotto, I have posted on Dried Mushroom Risotto, a Zucchini Risotto, and a Thai-Inspired Risotto, all of which have more details about the risotto-making process.

Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s difficult. I’ve even taught children how to make risotto! There is a little elbow grease involved, but it’s well worth it.

The only “rule” about preparing risotto is to have all of your ingredients ready by the stove because you cannot leave the kitchen while making risotto, and you don’t want to get distracted. The whole process takes up to 40 minutes.
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Here’s what I did:

Paprika Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil, or fat of choice
2 shallots, diced
1 cup of arborio rice
1/3 cup white wine
Approximately 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 heaping tablespoons of paprika creme, or to taste
Grated Parmesan, optional

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. I actually used a little fat from the pan in which I roasted the pork tenderloins. Don’t ever throw that fat away!!!
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When the oil is hot, add the shallots and sauté for a few minutes. A little caramelization is good. Then stir in the rice, and sauté the rice, stirring occasionally, for about a minute. All of the rice grains should be shiny.


Then pour in the wine. If the pan is at the right temperature, the wine should sizzle a little. If it just sits there, you need to turn up the heat. Stir the rice with the wine until the wine is almost all evaporated.

Then begin adding chicken broth, about 1/4 – 1/3 cups at a time, stir, and continue doing this. When the liquid is almost completely incorporated, the rice should almost be sticking to the pan, but it won’t, cause you’re there at the stove adding a little more liquid. 

Before you’ve used all of the broth, stir in the paprika cream until it’s well incorporated.


You’ll know when your risotto is about done because it will begin to stop absorbing the liquid, and should have a nice creamy consistency.  If the rice is still absorbing the broth, it’s okay to add a little more broth or even water as necessary, even if you’ve already used the 2 1/2 cups of broth.  The rice has to cook (see note).
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You can stir in the Parmesan, but I prefer to sprinkle it on top of the risotto.

Serve immediately.

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If you want a creamier risotto, you can substitute some of the broth with heavy cream.


note: According to the Italians, the rice grains in risotto are cooked until they are al dente – which means there is just a little bit of bite to them. Personally, I don’t mind my risotto slightly beyond that point. Hopefully my Italian ancestors aren’t rolling over in their graves because of my preference!

Now, think about all of the lovely variations of risotto you can make throughout the year…

Spring: lemon risotto with spicy grilled shrimp, or risotto with asparagus

Summer: risotto with corn and chipotle, or tomato risotto with spicy scallops and fresh basil

Fall: pumpkin risotto with feta cheese, or Brussels sprouts risotto topped with grilled sausages

Winter: cheddar risotto topped with braised short ribs, or wild mushroom risotto served with pork loin

Leeks Creole

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I have never thought of leeks as an accessory ingredient because of this recipe. These leeks, topped with a warm spicy vinaigrette, could be a first course, a side dish, or a salad. But however you eat these leeks, you will always have respect for this fabulous Allium, if you didn’t already. They’re not just meant to be a filler for potato soup.

This recipe is in the Creole and Acadian recipe booklet from the Foods of the World series of Time Life. I actually remember the first time I made these leeks, as part of a full Creole meal.

Creole/Cajun/Acadian is an American regional favorite of mine, because of the spiciness, mostly.

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The recipe is quite simple. It’s just a matter of first cleaning the leeks. Trim them and slice in half lengthwise. Then let running water rinse them off. If you need help with the cleaning technique, click here.

Place the cleaned leeks in a shallow pan, and cover with water. Bring to a soft boil, put a lid on the pan, and let the leeks cook for not more than 10 minutes. Using two spoons, carefully place the cooked leeks onto paper towels and let drain and cool off slightly. Alternatively, they could be steamed if you have a large enough steamer basket.

Meanwhile, prepare the spicy vinaigrette, recipe follows:

Creole Vinaigrette Sauce
To make about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-8 tablespoons olive oil

The way the recipe has you make it is like making a fairly thin aioli. I opted to just place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together.


And by the way, I didn’t have tarragon vinegar, so I used a combination of apple cider vinegar and fresh tarragon.

The recipe suggests that you serve the leeks cold. I notated on the recipe page that they’re good cold or hot, but I think the flavors really pop when at least the vinaigrette is warm. Alternatively, if your leeks are still warm, the room temperature vinaigrette will warm up on the leeks. The heat really enhances the spiciness.

Place the drained leeks on a serving plate. Then gently pour on the vinaigrette.

As you can tell, I also sprinkled the leeks with tarragon leaves.

The sweetness of the leeks really pairs beautifully with the spicy, warm vinaigrette.

You just have to try them!

Pasta Chimayo

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There is a restaurant in Park City, Utah, called Chimayo. We’ve been going to it since it opened in 1996. Although I haven’t lived in Park City since I left for college, my mother still lives there, so we visit often. And I can’t think of a time when we didn’t dine at Chimayo.

Not only is the food exquisite at Chimayo, known for its “distinctive” Southwestern cuisine, it’s a dining experience that exhilarates all of the senses. From the furniture to the dishes, everything is unique. They have a website, if you’re interested, or plan on visiting Park City.

The restaurant remains highly rated even after all of these years, so it’s a real joy to dine there. Here we all are in 2012, with my older daughter and husband to my left, and my beautiful mother on my right. The guy on the very left of the photo is my husband.

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Unfortunately, there’s not much to see in the photo beyond the pewter water glasses, because we’d either not ordered yet, or had already finished dinner. But trust me, everything is topnotch at this restaurant, including waiters who are willing to take photos of your family.

I did fortunately have some other photos from this same dinner, starting with a Southwestern fondue on their menu called Queso Fundido, topped with roasted poblanos and chorizo, which was beautifully presented at the table.

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And my daughter’s entrée is a vertical stack of chipotle-glazed spare ribs. It was easier to eat than it looks!
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So why do I mention this restaurant, when most all of you will never get a chance to go? Simple. I created a pasta dish in their honor. They don’t know I did, but I did, calling it Pasta Chimayo.

I wrote in a post a while back that my husband and I absolutely love Mexican and Southwestern cuisines. Mexican food, for me, is something that I must have recipes for, because it is a very involved and complex cuisine that I fully respect. It’s way more complex than you’d think, actually, if your take on Mexican food is enchiladas and burritos. But Southwestern cuisine, I feel, is something that really can be made up. Because it’s a relatively new cuisine, with no rules.

I posted on inspired Southwestern cuisine a while back, and have been thinking of ways to help you change up recipes to make them Southwestern. As I mentioned, anything can be made Southwestern style, as long as you use the right ingredients. So case in point, I’m making a pasta recipe today, which one might expect to be Italian, but instead I’ve made it with a Southwestern twist. It’s an ancho-spiced pasta with black beans and spicy shrimp. I hope you like it!

Pasta Chimayo

Spicy Shrimp
1 pound of shrimp, shelled and cleaned
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic
2 teaspoons spicy paprika
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon salt

Rinse the shrimp with cool water, and let them drip dry on paper towels.

Meanwhile, place the olive oil, garlic, paprika, chipotle powder and salt in a small blender jar and blend until smooth.

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In a medium bowl, toss the raw shrimp in the marinade.
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Cover and marinate the shrimp for 4-6 hours in the refrigerator. Overnight would be good as well. The only times I don’t marinate shrimp very long is when there’s an acid in the marinade, like citrus juice.

About one hour before the final preparations, remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and let them warm up slightly. Then place them in a colander to drain. Don’t rinse.

Pasta
1 – 12 ounce package corn pasta, or any spaghetti-type pasta you prefer
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small purple onion, finely chopped
8 ounces canned goat’s milk
2 tablespoons ancho chile paste, or to taste
1 – 15 ounce can black beans, well drained
Fresh cilantro

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Cook just al dente, then drain. Set aside
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Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat – large enough to hold the pasta. Add the onion and sauté it for 4-5 minutes. You want it soft because there won’t be any more cooking time.
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While it’s cooking, add the ancho chile paste to the goat’s milk and whisk together.
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I use this kind of goat’s milk in a can, because it’s the only kind I can get. If you don’t want to use goat’s milk, or can’t get it, simply use a cream substitute. But I’d recommend adding some crumbled goat cheese to the pasta!
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When the onion is ready, add the goat’s milk mixture and stir well.
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Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir gently until all of the pasta strands are coated with the creamy mixture.
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Add the drained beans, and heat the pasta through.
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Remove the pot of pasta from the heat and set it aside. But toss the pasta occasionally to help it to absorb all of the goat’s milk.
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Place a grill on the stove over high heat. Add the shrimp. Don’t overcrowd them. And be diligent. They cook very fast.
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After less than a minute, turn them over quickly using tongs. They should be fully cooked after 30-45 seconds.
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Keep them warm while you give the pasta a turn in the goat’s milk, if there’s any remaining in the pot, and serve the pasta.

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Add the grilled shrimp and sprinkle the pasta with some cilantro leaves.
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You can always add some crushed red pepper if you like things really spicy. I kept mine as is, which allowed the ancho chile pepper, the paprika, and the chipotle pepper to create the Southwestern flavor profile.
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note: So many different ingredients could be used in this simple pasta, including red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and corn. And if you prefer, grilled chicken could be substituted for the shrimp.

Paprika Cream

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I wrote a post in late 2012 after I started my blog called “My New Favorite Ingredient.” I had about 4 followers then, and so I would like to re-introduce this ingredient on my blog.

The ingredient, or product, was given to me by my friend who has Hungarian parents, and I will always be indebted to her for her act of kindness. The product? Paprika Cream.

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There are a few different versions of it, all made by Univer in Hungary, but they’re very much the same product – a paste or “cream” made from red bell peppers. There is one called Goulash Creme, Sweet Paprika Mix, and Hot Paprika Mix.

The only way I can get my hands on more of this luscious stuff is to order online at Amazon.com, and they’re often out of the product. I would really love to taste a few of these varieties and see how they taste differently, but I can just be happy with one jar at a time, as they become available.

I have also gotten the Paprika Creme in a tube form.
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So today I wanted to make risotto, and I thought that the perfect way to season it would be to add some of this lovely paprika cream. It’s so much easier to add a few tablespoons of paprika cream instead of roasting your own red bell peppers and processing them into a pulp. Besides, these are the good red bell peppers – the ones from which paprika is made – so the flavor is not just about red bell peppers that are roasted, but also spicy hot paprika.

And, the color is pretty spectacular, as well. You can use this cream for just about any culinary purpose for instant flavor, but I’ve also used it simply as a coating for pork tenderloin. It was fabulous.

Anyway, if you’ve never made a risotto before – trust me – they’re very easy to make. I’ve even taught young girls how to make a risotto. Which is why it infuriates me on these cooking shows like Hell’s Kitchen when the trained chefs mess up risottos. It’s not hard, people!!!

I’m not going to give you an exact risotto recipe, because to make a risotto is about so much more than following a recipe. You really have to feel the recipe, and let your brain be your guide. A risotto is a lot about common sense.

There’s a little elbow grease involved with risotto, as it requires a lot of stirring. But that’s not hard at all. The only rule is to not leave the kitchen while you’re making it. A risotto is a very hands-on dish.

Paprika Risotto
This recipe makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice

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1/3 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, approximately
3 tablespoons paprika cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated Parmesan, optional
Grilled chicken, optional

Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. There are pots made specifically for making risotto, but these aren’t necessary. A good saucepan and a wooden spoon will do.

When the butter melts, add the shallots and sauté them for a couple of minutes.

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Then pour in the rice. Stir the rice all around, so that every bit of rice gets coated in butter. Stir the rice for about half a minute.
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Then pour in the wine. Immediately begin stirring the rice as it absorbs the wine. You will notice the wine disappearing before your eyes as you stir. You must keep stirring to prevent the rice from sticking.
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Once the wine is absorbed, begin adding the chicken broth, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time. Stir the rice after each addition.
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Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, you will have to make sure that you don’t wait too long before you add more liquid. Add liquid, stir. Repeat.
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Once you can tell that the rice has essentially stopped absorbing, add the paprika cream and the salt. If you’re not sure you’ll like the paprika flavor, add less and taste. But I’m sure you’ll love it.
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Once you’ve stirred in the paprika cream, you have a couple of options. Sometimes, people add cream and/or Parmesan cheese to risottos. Both of these additions are fabulous. However, today I just want the rice to show off, simply flavored with broth, shallots, and paprika.

Immediately put the hot risotto in a serving bowl.

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Today I added some left over grilled chicken, and I placed a bowl of Parmesan nearby.

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This was actually my lunch, and I got really hungry taking these photos. So I decided to go for it and I added a generous amount of Parmesan to the risotto!

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The creaminess and sharpness of the Parmesan was perfect with the chicken and the paprika-flavored rice. I will make this again.
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If you ever happen upon some version of this Univer product, make sure and grab some. You’ll find all kinds of uses for it, trust me!

note: If you notice that the rice got really yellow while I was adding the chicken broth, it’s because my powdered variety of chicken broth is very yellow.

Charmoula

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Arabic in origin, Charmoula is a wonderful and flavorful condiment for meat or vegetables. It’s slightly similar to Chimichurri, in that it combines garlic with parsley and cilantro. But that’s where the similarity ends.

I’ve never seen charmoula in a jar, but I’m sure it doesn’t taste as good as home-made in any case. This recipe takes minutes to make, so there’s really no excuse to try the real stuff.

There are probably many different recipes for charmoula, but this is the one I’ve seen the most, with cumin, garlic, cilantro and parsley as the major players.

I’ve used charmoula with my home-made Italian sausages, pictured above, with beef and with chicken; I’ve yet to try it with lamb, but I’m sure it would be equally delicious. Maybe next time.

Charmoula

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, I used black cumin seeds
1-2 cloves garlic cloves, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
1 cup chopped cilantro, fairly well packed
1/2 cup chopped parsley, fairly well packed
2/3 cup olive oil

Toast the cumin seeds in a skillet. Or use your handy dandy seed toaster!
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To prevent losing the seeds when they begin popping as they toast, use a platter screen over your skillet.
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Place the toasted seeds in a small mortar and grind them up a little.
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Then add the garlic and grind until you’ve formed a paste.

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Place this paste in a medium-sized bowl. Add the lemon juice, paprika, salt, and cayenne. Then add the chopped cilantro and parsley.

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Stir well, then add the olive oil. If you prefer a thicker paste, don’t add as much olive oil; you can always add more later.

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To use the charmoula, I decided to take advantage of some Italian sausages I’d just made.
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I cooked the sausages first and then poured the cumin-flavored freshness over the top.

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Now that I think of it, charmoula would also be good over grilled haloumi and vegetables!!! Something else to try!

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