Recipes from October 31, 2012

From Herald news servicesOctober 31, 2012 

Weekly recipes for October 31, 2012

Balsamic-Pepper Flank Steak with Grilled Pears and Blue Cheese

Start to finish: 30 minutes (plus marinating). Servings: 4.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
2 pears, peeled, halved and cored
Crumbled blue cheese

In a blender, combine vinegar, garlic, peppercorns and one teaspoon of kosher salt. Blend for 20 seconds, then transfer to a wide, shallow bowl.

Add steak to marinade, turning to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to cook, heat the broiler with a rack 6 inches from the heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then coat lightly with cooking spray.

Cut each pear half into 4 slices, then arrange on one half of prepared baking sheet.

Remove steak from marinade and set it on the other half of the sheet. Broil everything for 5 minutes, then use tongs to flip steak and pears. Broil for another 5 minutes for medium-rare.

Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes, then cut into thin slices against the grain. Divide slices between 4 serving plates, then top each with pear slices.

Top each serving with a bit of crumbled blue cheese.

For extra flavor, themarinade can be mixed with beef broth, then boiled and reduced until thick (while the steaks cook), then drizzled over the finished dish.

Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories; 110 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories); 12 grams fat (5 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 60 milligrams cholesterol; 22 grams carbohydrate; 39 grams protein; 4 grams fiber; 700 milligram sodium.

Tamales De Picadillo

Hands on: 1 hour. Total time: 2 hours Makes: 12 tamales.

For the tamales:

12 corn husks, soaked until soft
1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening
2 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups warm chicken stock

For the picadillo:

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 1/4 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

For the picadillo filling: In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil and add the ground beef, chopped onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until

the beef is brown and the onion is tender. Add the apple, tomatoes, jalapenos, raisins, cinnamon, cumin, and salt and pepper. Cook uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

For the masa: In a large bowl, cream the lard or vegetable shortening until it's light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, mix the masa harina with the salt and baking powder, then gradually beat it into the lard, taking care not to add too much at once.

Finally, slowly beat enough of the warm chicken stock into the masa mixture to make a mushy dough. To see if the masa is ready, place a small piece on top of a cup of water. If it floats, the masa is ready; if it sinks, continue to beat until the texture is light enough for it to float.

To assemble the tamales: Place softened cornhusks on a flat surface. Spread 3 tablespoons of the dough on each husk, leaving plenty of room all around for folding. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the picadillo in the center of the dough. Roll up the husk from one long side, so that the filling is completely enclosed, then fold the ends of the husk under. You can tie with strips of husk or kitchen twine, if desired.

To steam the tamales: Layer the folded husks seam side down in a flat-bottomed steamer colander. Bring to a boil and cover tightly. Reduce heat and steam the tamales for 1 hour. Serve warm, unwrapping the husks to reveal the fluffy tamales inside.

Though steamed tamales can be filled with almost anything, picadillo, made with ground beef, spices, apples and raisins, is a Day of the Dead tradition. Masa harina and cornhusks are available at Mexican markets or some farmers markets.

Per tamale: 287 calories (57 percent from fat), 9 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 18 grams fat, (7 grams saturated), 28 milligrams cholesterol, 516 milligrams sodium.

Calabaza en Tacha (Candied Pumpkin)

Hands on: 15 minutes. Total time: 2 hours and 15 minutes. Serves: 6.

1 4-6 pound pumpkin, stemmed, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces, with skin on
2 tablespoons brown sugar
6 whole cloves
6 allspice berries
5 cinnamon sticks
Juice of 1 orange
Zest of 1 orange
4 cups of water

In a saucepan, add pumpkin pieces, brown sugar, whole cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, orange juice, orange zest and water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cook for about 2 hours until the liquid has reduced to a syrup-like glaze.

Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature before serving.

Per serving: 45 calories ( 4 percent from fat), 1 gram protein, 11 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 10 milligrams sodium.

Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

Hands on: 20 minutes. Total time: 30-45 minutes. Serves: 4-6.

3 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup short grain rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup golden raisins, softened in a cup of warm water, and drained

In a large pot over medium heat, combine whole milk and water and bring to a slow simmer. Stir in rice, add cinnamon stick and continue to simmer, uncovered until rice is soft, approximately 20 minutes.

When rice is soft, remove cinnamon, stir in sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, salt, and raisins. Return to simmer for about 10 or 15 more minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

The rice should have a pudding consistency.

Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pat of butter on top, if desired.

Per serving, based on 4: 678 calories ( 20 percent from fat), 18 grams protein, 119 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 59 milligrams cholesterol, 336 milligrams sodium.

Taco Monster Mouths

Serves 6.

2 plum tomatoes, cut length-wise into 3 pieces
12 large pimiento-stuffed green olives
3 slices (1/2 ounce each) American cheese
6 Old El Paso Stand 'N Stuff Taco Shells
1/2 pound lean (at least 80 percent) ground beef
2 tablespoons Old El Paso 40 percent less sodium taco seasoning mix
1/3 cup water
Shredded lettuce, if desired

Cut slit into 1 side of each olive to make a flat side. Cut each of the slices of cheese in half vertically in a zigzag line to look like teeth.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange taco shells on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until hot. Meanwhile, in 10-inch skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix and water.

Reduce heat to medium; stir frequently until water has evaporated.

To assemble, fill tacos with desired fillings so that meat is on the top. Placing each taco on its side on serving plate, insert 1 tomato slice into meat filling to look like tongue. Place 1 cheese slice with zigzag edge toward meat along top side of taco between the shell and the filling. Place 2 olives, flat sides down, to look like eyes on top of shell.

Severed Finger Sugar Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies.

1 Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1 egg
1/4 cup raw slivered almonds
1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam
7 drops red food color

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper.

In medium bowl, mix cookie mix and egg until well mixed and texture of sand or bread crumbs. Squeeze handful of dough crumbs together tightly to form a small log or "finger." Score top of log with butter knife to shape the knuckle, then press 1 slivered almond at one end to make the fingernail. Repeat to use up dough. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Bake 15 minutes. Cool completely. In small bowl, mix jam and food color. Trim base of "finger" with fork to give it a severed look. Dip base of finger into jam.

White-Chocolate Caramel Corn with Cashews

Makes: 12 cups / Preparation time: 25 minutes / Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

12 cups popped popcorn (from 1/2 cup kernels)
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped cashews
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popcorn and nuts in a large bowl. Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in corn syrup, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until sugar dissolves, stirring once or twice. Raise heat to high, and bring to a boil (do not stir). Boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 248 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in baking soda.

Pour caramel over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat thoroughly. Transfer to 2 rimmed baking sheets, spreading in a single layer. Bake 45 minutes, stirring twice. Test doneness by removing a few pieces of popcorn from oven; if they crisp within 1 minute, popcorn is ready. Remove from oven, and immediately sprinkle with remaining salt. Let cool completely.

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and completely smooth. Fill a small resealable plastic bag with chocolate, and snip a tiny hole in 1 corner. Drizzle chocolate over caramel corn. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes, before breaking up.

Store caramel corn in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Nutrition: 409 calories (52 percent from fat), 25 grams fat (9 grams sat. fat), 45 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 453 milligrams sodium, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.

Euro Pane's Pear Spice Cake

Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes, plus cooling time. Servings: 12 to 16.

3 cups (12.75 ounces) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 eggs
3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
7 ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
2 cups chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease again.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon, and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar, then beat in the oil. Beat in the flour mixture just until combined, then fold in the pears and nuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until puffed and golden brown, and a toothpick placed in the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check the cake after an hour, and cover the top loosely with a sheet of foil if it browns too quickly before it is done.

Remove and cool completely on a rack before serving.

Nutrition: 525 calories; 7 grams protein; 73 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 25 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 47 milligrams cholesterol; 48 grams sugar; 184 milligrams sodium.

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