September 14, 2012

Friday Foodie: Isn't it Appetizing?

I’m doing the Cooking Around the World Class again out at UTA Continuing Education Building, and this time, I’m going to be covering Greece, New Mexico, The Philippines and China.  I’ve already posted a recipe for Greek Meatballs (keftedes) over on my blog, so I thought I would share with you a couple of the appetizer recipes that drew me to two of the other cultures. 
Queso Blanco Dip
Green chilis, a New Mexico staple (chilis are, after all, the state vegetable), give a lot of flavor without as much heat as a jalapeno.  This  makes queso made from them a crowd pleaser when people who prefer different spiciness levels.  The most common problem with making queso blanco at home  seems to be getting a smooth texture.  To solve that problem, I like to start mine like I am making a béchamel sauce.  Make sure you use queso asadero (not queso fresco or queso blanco) or it won’t melt properly no matter what you do.  If you can’t find it locally, you could use mozzarella. 
6 Hatch chilis (depending on desired spiciness, you may want to use up to 10)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered.
1 large tomato (or 3 romas)
2 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
¾ c. milk
2/3 c. queso asadero, shredded
1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place all vegetables on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast the vegetables, turning occasionally, until the peppers and tomato blister, and all the vegetables start to show black spots.  Allow to cool.  Remove the tops and seeds from the peppers and core the tomato.  Place all the vegetables in a blender or food processor and blend to a chunky consistency.

Heat the milk in a microwave-safe bowl until hot but not boiling.  Heat two tablespoons of butter in a small pot over medium-low heat.   Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns a golden sandy color.  Add half of the milk and whisk until incorporated.  Add the remaining milk.  Cook for a couple of minutes, whisking constantly, until it is thickened and smooth.  Remove the pot from the heat.  Add the cheese  in small handfuls and keep whisking until each addition melts completely.  Pour in the chunky vegetable mixture, and stir.  Salt to taste.

Lumpia (Filipino Egg Rolls)
These are usually served with a sweet-hot vinegar based  dipping sauce.  Look at your local oriental market for a bottle marked, “Sweet Chili Sauce.”  You can make your own, but I haven’t noticed enough of an improvement in flavor to make it worth the effort.  The first time I had these was at a barbecue with friends from a number of cultures, and when the person who brought them set the bottle on the table, I should have known better than to second-guess.

1 (20 count) package lumpia skins (or egg roll wrappers)
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ c. onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, pressed  
1 lb. ground pork
¼ c. green onion, minced
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 c. carrot, shredded
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp. soy sauce
vegetable oil, for cooking
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion turns translucent.  Add the ground pork and the green onion.  Sprinkle the mixture with salt, pepper and ginger.  Continue cooking until the pork is browned.  Allow to cool.  Combine meat mixture with shredded carrot, egg and soy sauce.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (or overnight).

Separate a single wrapper from the stack in the package and place it on a flat surface angled to for a diamond shape.  Place 1-2 tablespoons of the filling diagonaly across the wrapper, leaving an inch at the ends.  Position it in front of you so that the filling goes left to right.  Fold the bottom over and press toward the filling with the tip pointing up.  Wet the remaining three tips with a drop of water on each.  Press the sides toward the filling before folding them over.  Gently roll toward the top without pressing on the filling. 

When you have rolled up all the lumpia, heat 2 inches worth of oil in a deep heavy skillet.  Fry the lumpia for 3-5 minutes, or until they are golden brown.   Drain on paper towels.

If you enjoy these recipes and want to learn more about food in vatious cultures, there are still a few spots left in my Cooking Around the World Class.  It runs from 2-5 pm on four consecutive Saturday afternoons, starting next Saturday, September 22.  In each class, I talk about the history of the food and the culinary influences that have impacted it, and we make a representative meal.  Even if you can’t sign up for the class, I’ll be posting more bonus recipes to my blog.
This post was written by Amber at Dandylyon’s Garden.  Visit her Etsy shop for fragrant herb sachets, garden and kitchen aprons, crocheted and quilted accessories and home décor, and vintage brooches, or her blog for food culture and history, recipes, sewing tutorials and more.