Archive | August, 2009

Hatch Chile Obsessed: Hatch Chile Arancini

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MIS82814-144Every month or so, the Austin Food Bloggers get together for a potluck. I love catching up with the other bloggers and tasting their creations, but I get a little freaked out about what to make. After all, these people can cook. Oh the pressure.

This month, our potluck had a Hatch Chile theme and I immediately thought of risotto, but couldn’t figure out how to make and transport it without it becoming gummy; this simply would not do. Then, I went to the Hatch Chile Fest at Central Market and they had risotto cakes.

Genius, but I wanted to do something a little different (couldn’t have the bloggers think I bought my dish at Central Market after all). A friend suggested arancini, fried risotto balls with a cheese filling.

I decided on a Hatch chile risotto with a Hatch chile cheese filling. Central Market has a great Hatch chile jack cheese that would provide the perfect amount of heat and melt beautifully; a gooey center being key to good arancini.

Now, I know Hatch Chiles aren’t locally grown, but you can buy them at local farmers markets for the next few weeks. I consider them a rare and special treat to be enjoyed while available. If you are a true locavore, you might take issue with this and could substitute with another type of pepper. You could also substitute the cheese with a more traditional mozzarella or fontina cheese.

I had never made arancini before and found the process to be easier than I thought, if somewhat time intensive as there are several stages to be carried out. I roasted and peeled peppers on Friday evening, made the risotto on Saturday and assembled and fried the arancini on Sunday. You could pull it all off in one day, but you would need to start early.

Despite being fried, the arancini came out light with a deliciously melted cheesy center. The Hatch chiles added great flavor, but I used mild chiles so there was not much heat. Had I been making the dish to serve at home, I probably would have used hot chiles or a combination of the two in the risotto as I like a little heat in my food.

Hatch Chile Arancini
6 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)
3 tbsps butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 3/4 cup arborio rice
about 12 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled and diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
4 Tbsp heavy cream
2 Tbsp minced fresh chives and flat-leaf parsley (could also use oregano or basil)
1 large egg yolk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 oz Hatch Chile jack cheese (could also use mozzarella or Fontina cheese)
2 large eggs whisked
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

To roast and peel the peppers:

Place hatch chiles under broiler or on the grill until they begin to blacken on one side. Turn the chiles until blackened on the other side. Remove the chiles and place in a plastic bag (I use a plastic shopping bag). Tie the top and let the chiles “sweat” in the bag.

Once the chiles are cool enough to handle, remove the tops, seeds and peel the chiles. If you have sensitive skin or wear contact lenses, you might consider wearing gloves to do this. Try to remove the seeds without rinsing the chiles as rinsing will remove the oils that give it flavor.

To make the risotto:

Heat the broth in a pot and leave on simmer while you make the risotto.

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the garlic and saute for a minute. Add the risotto until it is well-coated. Add the chiles and stir well into the risotto.

Scoop a cup of the broth into the risotto and stir until it is absorbed. Continue to add the broth about 1/2-3/4 cup at a time to the broth, stirring each time until it is absorbed. You want the risotto to have a creamy, but not soupy texture.

Remove the risotto from the heat and allow to cool. Place in the refrigerator to cool thoroughly for at least 3 hours.

To make the arancini:

In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, cream, herbs, and egg yolk and stir until combined. Add the mixture to the risotto and season with salt and pepper.

Cut the cheese into small cubes. Scoop up a small handful of the risotto mixture, place a cube of cheese in the center and shape to to make a croquette. Repeat to form the other croquettes.

Place the croquettes on a cookie sheet covered in parchment or wax paper.

Place the egg wash and bread crumbs in separate wide-mouthed bowls. Dip the arancini in the egg wash then roll it in the bread crumbs.

Chill the arancini in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.Fill a tall pot or fryer with vegetable or canola oil so that it will cover the arancini; about 4-5 inches. (I used my stock pot and it worked great). Heat the oil over medium-high heat; you want it to register 375°F on a thermometer.

Deep-fry the arancini in small batches until they are evenly browned or 3-5 minutes. Don’t add to many arancini to the pot at once or they will crowd and stick. Also, allow a few minutes in between batches for the oil to come back up to temperature so the arancini don’t become soggy.

Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly. Serve hot.

For the potluck, I had to let the arancini sit to travel so I reheated at 425 degrees for 6-7 minutes to warm them through.

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Anatomy of an Effortless Picnic: 1st Wednesday Picnic in the Park

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The Triangle Farmers Market on Wednesday nights has charmed me since the first time I wandered over. I went expecting just a few stalls and instead found plenty of vendors and people picnicking on the lawn, kids playing in the fountain and dancing to the band. Charming.


I immediately fell in love with the market and the sense of community and sharing it gives me every time I go. I had to find a way to share that and decided to host a picnic the 1st Wednesday of every month. Join me on Wednesday 9/2 at the Triangle Farmers Market (46th & Lamar). The market hours are 4-8 and we’ll gather on the lawn around 6:30 for dinner. The great thing about this picnic, is you don’t have to pack any food – just a chair or blanket and maybe some utensils, plates and napkins!


To show you how effortless it is to have an amazing spread, I’ve put together a photo tour of last month’s meal.
Before you come, hit the ATM so you have cash for the vendors, but if you forget, don’t worry, you can get market tokens at the Sustainable Food Center booth.
082809_3Next, I always do a quick tour of the booths to see what is available. After all, you have to be strategic in these choices. You never know when someone will have something new. I bought a number of veggies for meals later in the week, but it would be really easy to have a nice tomato basil salad; just make sure you bring a knife.
Now, for the tough part – narrowing down what you are going to eat that

082809_4night. You could buy a rotisserie roasted chicken (half or whole) with some delicious roasted corn. Or, you can always hit the Mediterranean Chef, as I did, for hummus, dolmas and baba ghanoush. And of course, we had to have a loaf of the rosemary ciabatta bread from Texas French Bread to scoop up the hummus. We also cut up a cucumber so we didn’t eat the entire loaf of bread. (At least that’s what we told ourselves.)

082809_5To finish out our savories, I stopped by Taco Deli for a delicious bison taco and then to Kala’s Kuisine which I hadn’t tried before. Brian convinced me that we absolutely had to have samosas with two different types of sauce. Brian, of course, was right (after all this is the man who got me addicted to rosemary ciabatta bread when he worked for Texas French Bread) and I will be buying many more samosas from Kala’s.

And, no good picnic would be complete without dessert. You could be good and get fruit like the watermelon and peaches in stalls that week. (I had the peaches.) But with the heat we’ve been having, you might want to saunter over to Jim Jim’s for a water ice. They were a big hit at the August picnic.

Now, that’s an easy and great dinner. See you at the Triangle Market on Wednesday – don’t forget your chair.

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To Market, To Market in Brushy Creek

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NOTE: The Brushy Creek Market is no longer open.

082309_1I have a number of friends in Northwest Austin who often tell me that they don’t go to the farmers markets because they are too far away. Since I’m always looking for a way to drag them to a market, I was delighted when I heard that a market was opening up in the Brushy Creek neighborhood, out off of 620. Ha ha! Now they have no excuse.
I wandered up to the Brushy Creek Farmers Market, 16318 Great Oaks Drive, last weekend to see how it compared to other local markets. It is a smaller market, there were 7-8 vendors that weekend, but there was great variety and I was able to easily fill my shopping bag. Amy Ingram, the market organizer, said that there were typically 2-3 more vendors but they were out because of low season or summer vacations.

The market included two produce vendors with booths packed with great
choices including plenty of fruit – melons, apples, pears. I was very excited to see the Mediterranean Chef so that I could get my weekly supply of hummus. There was also a meat vendor who had goat and lamb at very reasonable prices. A number of vendors offered prepared foods including Kala’s Kuisine (love the samosas) and Aunt Nita’s Homestyle Foods (the jalapeno cheese dip is delicious.)

I was impressed with Christen’s Gourmet Pralines. Hailing from New Orleans, Christen now offers twelve flavors of pralines for sale. She said the pralines in a decorative box have been quite popular as guest

gifts for weddings and parties. I can see these ending up in my holiday baskets this year.
If you are in NW Austin, the Brushy Creek Farmers Market is definitely worth a stop during your Saturday morning errands. The market is open 9 am to 1 pm. Who knows, with one of my dear friends moving out that way, you may even see me there more often.

See you at the market!
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Hatch Chile Obsessed: Texas Sweet Onion and Hatch Chile Soup

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Recently I walked into Central Market to pick up a few things (famous last words) when I froze in the produce aisle and squealed, yes, out loud, like a sorority girl. What could make me do this? Hatch Green Chiles. Woo hoo!


I adore Hatch Chiles. I buy a box, roast and freeze them almost every year. It’s almost, but not quite, as exciting as the first snap of the football each year. And, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that two of my favorite things occur about the same time each year. It’s fall bliss.
I decided that for my first Hatch recipe this year I would play with the traditional French onion soup recipe. Maybe it’s the onslaught of the Julie & Julia media or the piles of beautiful onions at the farmers markets lately, but French onion soup had been on my mind. Of course, I couldn’t do something ordinary so I decided to Hatch-up the recipe.
I added Hatch green chiles to the final mix which added a nice heat to the sweet onions. With the heat, I didn’t want to do a traditional crouton so I made a Monterrey Jack Tostada topper instead.
It was lip smacking good. I used hot Hatch chiles, but they were very hot so if you have a more delicate palate, use the mild chiles.
If you are curious about Hatch chiles, I highly recommend the Hatch Chile Fest at Central Market the next two weekends (8/21-8/23 and 8/28-8/30). My personal favorite is the Hatch chile burgers and the Hatch chile cheese scones. Yum…
Texas Sweet Onion and Hatch Chile Soup
1/2 cup of salted butter (do not substitute – seriously, the caramelized onions will not taste the same. Suck it up and walk an extra mile that day to work off the butter.)
4-6 sweet onions, sliced thin
4 Hatch Chiles roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
5 cups broth (I used chicken, but you can use beef or vegetable if
you prefer)
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
about 2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese (you could also use cotija or queso fresco)
4-6 tostadas
082009_3Over low heat, melt the butter in a large stock pot. Add the onions and stir them well to coat them with butter. Cover the onions and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender.
Remove the cover from the pot. Taste the onions and salt if necessary. Raise the heat a bit and saute the onions until they turn caramel brown. Stir them often so that they do not burn. This will take about an hour.
Add the hatch chiles and stir to combine well. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes more. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
While the soup is cooking, preheat the broiler. When the soup is finished, ladle it in oven-proof bowls and sprinkle cheese on top. Place the soup under the broiler. While the soup is broiling, top the tostadas with cheese. When the cheese on the soup is bubbly, remove the soup from the broiler, place the tostadas under the broiler until the cheese is cooked. Remove the tostadas and top each soup bowl with its own tostada.
Enjoy, and try not to burn the rough of your mouth.
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