Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Accra In Your Face

We Tarts generally balance each other out. While Erin prefers to improvise, Danielle takes to a recipe like religion. We feel fortunate, though, to have a partnership based on mutual consideration and respect...and a lot of laughs. Like with all mergers, however, there comes a time when a Tart may peel off in a different direction, pursuing what she wants, despite the fact that her comrade made it clear that said 'direction' was not a good idea.

Par exemple, when the former Tart said, "Let's not make Accra. It's too hard." And the latter Tart said, "Okay." And then the latter Tart went ahead and made it anyway...Argggh!


The recipe was very vague, but after much trial and error we were semi-successful. The oil has to be very hot and the consictency of the batter should be on the thick side.

1 lb malanga (we used sweet potatoes)
1 cup black eyed peas (not dried; canned)
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
1 scallion
1 shallot or 1/2 onion
1 garlic clove
1/4 green pepper
1 scotch pepper
1 egg beaten
1 Tbsp flour (seriously wrong amount of flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups oil

Grate the potato to make 2 cups. In a blender, mix beans, 1/2 cup water, salt, pepper, scallion, shallot, garlic, pepper and scotch pepper.

In a bowl, mix the malanga with the pea mixture. Mix in beaten egg. Mix the flour and baking powder until you get a nice consistency.

We threw everything in a Cuisinart. We found the dough did not stick together when fried, so we kept adding flour until we got it right.

Heat the oil on high heat. Drop in a tablespoon when oil is very hot.

Flip over only when the one side of fritter is very dark brown.

Drain on a paper towel.

Then serve these little devils.

So, as the last of the Accra made it's way from plate to mouth, the former Tart was forced to swallow her pride and admit to the latter, that she was right. Those damn Accra were the hit of the party. Double argggh!

Nothing like a glass of sweet humility to wash down a delicious Haitian fritter...

More recipes from our Haitian meal to come.
To help feed the people of Haiti, please donate to http://www.wfp.org/

Friday, January 22, 2010

What The Flock?!

The 'Tarts Cook Their Hearts Out For Haiti' dinner continues and it's probably time we bring you the main course, the jewel of the necklace, our Magnum Opus...

"What did we decide to make again, Danielle?"

"Chicken in Sauce, Erin."

"Chicken? Chicken???!!! Do you know how hard it is to cook chicken for twelve people??!!! At our first Tart party? Our first Tarty? Why, would we do that, Danielle?!

"Because we're nuts."

Ahhhhhh! Here we are, our first Tarty and we're not only preparing a cuisine we know nothing about, but we're also cooking chicken. For twelve people. WTF? Gonna have to call for back-up.


OK. Here we go...

Chicken in Sauce

(We quadrupled this recipe...because we were feeding twelve people...because we're insane.)

1 medium sized fryer chicken

1 large onion sliced in rounds

1 large pepper (mild or hot; we used half a poblano)

several cloves of garlic, smashed or minced

3/4 cups of tomato sauce

3 Tbsp sugar

generous pinch of salt

lime or lemon

dash of oil

Wash chicken well and cut into pieces; if you're a Tart, have the 'chicken man' do it for you. Rub each piece with the lemon or lime and sprinkle with salt.

"Thanks Ham!"

Heat oil in a heavy pan (cast iron is best, as the pan will then be placed in the oven). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 F and fry the chicken pieces in hot oil. While chicken is frying combine the garlic, sugar, tomato sauce and salt in a bowl. Mix well. After a few minutes add the onion rounds and pepper rounds to the pan, stir well.

Within a few minutes the chicken should be well-browned. Remove from heat, drain excess oil and add the tomato mixture. Stir well. Place the entire pan in the oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely.

Finally, plate the chicken and top with the cooked onions and peppers and drizzle with the drippings from the pan. You can also top with rounds of raw onion or the Picklese.

We think our chicken turned out moist and delicious; equal parts sweet and spicy. What did our guests think? We'll let you know soon! Again, thanks to Ham for backin' us up and Rye for capturing it all on film...or well, a memory card.

More recipes from our Haitian meal to come.

To help feed the people of Haiti, please donate to http://www.wfp.org/

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tarts Cook Their Hearts Out For Haiti

"Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something."

These words have never been more true than today, as all of us search for a way to lend a hand to the people of Haiti. So, we Tarts, eager to help a country that to be honest, we know little about, decided that our 'something' should be a tribute in the form of what we love most...food. We decided to make a Haitian meal and invite a few friends over who, in exchange for what we love most, would give what The World Food Program needs most...money. To feed Haiti.

It all comes back to food...

...and the fact that the Tarts don't know how to make Haitian food. Crap. Someone 'google' Haitian food. Like, NOW!

Whew! We found some recipes and printed them out...not that it helped any...

"Erin, I don't even know what that means..."

So we decided to start with the easiest item on our list...Picklese...

Picklese is the native Haitian hot sauce, usually served with meat or fish. We got our recipe from islandflave.com.

6 Scott Bonnet Peppers (We used habanero...)
2 cups thinly sliced or shredded cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced or shredded carrot
1/4 cup thinly sliced or shredded onion
4 whole cloves
1 tsp salt
8 to 10 peppercorns (optional)
3 cups vinegar

Snip off the stem of the peppers, cut each into 4 pieces, and keep the seeds. Place hot peppers, cabbage, carrots, onion, cloves, salt, and peppercorn in a quart size jar. Then add vinegar.

Close jar tightly and let sit at least 24-48 hours before serving.

Serve with meat or fish.

This recipe is simple and delicious. Oh, and btw...we just now found out that often, only the vinegar is used as a form of hot sauce...just a few drops are needed. The Tarts discarded the vinegar and served the vegetables as a relish. It was a fave of many, except for one poor Tart victim, who accidentally ate a whole one of these little jerks...

Sorry, Steve! Next time, we'll do our homework and brief you on the dangers of Picklese!

All in all, the dinner was a success as we raised a good amount of money for WFP, an organization in association with the United Nations. If you'd like to lend your helping hand to feed the people of Haiti, please donate to http://www.wfp.org/.

Stay tuned for more recipes from our Haitian dinner to come.

In the meantime, our hearts are with Haiti.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Holy Mole!! We're making a babaaaay!

The Tart factory is back in full swing and we’ve been busy creating many delights…and our pièce de résistance is a BABY! Yup. WE are expecting a baby Tart in a matter of months! Wait, not both of us… and not together. My husband and I (Erin) made the baby, without Danielle. She was at her house. With her boyfriend. Hmmm…this is getting weird. Anyway, Danielle will be helping in many ways and is very excited!

So in the spirit of family, we were inspired this week to make a recipe that’s been passed down from generation to generation in many Mexican households…a classic mole. This dish is as traditional as it can get- well, traditional for a kitchen in SoCal. Uh, make that a SoCal kitchen operated by Tarts.

Mole, which comes from the Aztec word ‘molli,’ meaning concoction or stew, comes in many different styles. Danielle had a recipe for the well-known Mole Negro off a Oaxacan website, http://www.oaxaca-restaurants.com, as Oaxaca is arguably the epicenter of mole. It’s no longer available online, but we're bringing it to you...

Mole Negro Oaxaqueño

1 4-pound chicken cut into pieces (we used 8 organic breasts)
4 pasilla chiles
2 guajillo chiles
2 ancho chiles

Note to fellow Tarts: Varieties of chiles can be a bit confusing. An ancho chile is a dried poblano pepper, but in CA, a fresh pasilla is also called a poblano, so dried pasillas can also be dried poblanos. But a true pasilla is a dried chilaca. Well, now we're confused. Bottom line is to improvise with what's available around you. We couldn't find a true pasilla so we used extra ancho and threw in a fire-roasted poblano, that we then steamed in a Ziploc bag for twenty minutes before removing the blackened skin and seeding it.

2 cups boiling water
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, quartered
1 slice white bread (we used brown rice bread)
2 Tbsp dried apricots (soaked first in hot water, 20 min)
2 Tbsp chopped almonds
2 Tbsp chopped peanuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 ounce dark unsweetened chocolate
1 bay leaf
salt, to taste

Simmer chicken in lightly salted water for 45 min. Let cool in broth.

Remove stems and seed from chiles. Rinse under cold water and tear into pieces. Put pieces in a bowl with boiling water. Let stand for 30 min. Make sure they are covered with water.

In a blender or food processor, purée the chiles with 1 cup of the liquid they were soaking in, tomato, onion, bread, apricots, almonds, peanuts, garlic, the un-toasted sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, pepper, cinnamon and cloves.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and cook the purée over medium heat, stirring often, 10 min.
Add the chicken stock, chocolate, bay leaf and salt.

Simmer for 30 min. (Should begin to darken)

(Notice Preggers can't wait to taste. Busted!)

Then add the chicken, continue to simmer for 10 more minutes...then plate.

We opted to garnish with cilantro, avocado and Cotija, a mexican queso and served it over brown rice with some grilled peppers on the side...

We forgot to add the toasted sesame seeds on top, but it was delicious and we scarfed it down while I, Erin, watched everyone wash it down with a nice cold beer....(not bitter, promise)...then I danced cuz we made mole and I'm having a babaaaay!

Come on, Danielle. Have a babaaay!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Smooth Hoov's BUFF-A-HO Hot Wangs


First of all, we feel really lame for spacing out over the holidays and not posting for three weeks. I mean, couldn't we at least assemble a big Christmas post with all the wonderful dishes we plan to make? Or maybe a list of gift suggestions? Or perhaps a 'Happy-New-Year-Welcome-to-2010!"

Nope. Uh-uh. Nada. But then again, we're Tarts and we overextended ourselves once again. The season came and went, but we intend to catch up by blasting you with a bunch of yummy new concoctions...like this one I picked up while home with the fam. It's my brother "The Hoov's" Creole-style hot wing recipe...and we're bringing it to you just in time for the Super Bowl!!!


One package of chicken wings/drumettes (roughly 2 lbs.)
Cayenne Pepper
Crab (or shrimp) Boil

If the above spices/sauces aren't available where you live and ordering online isn't a possibility, look at the ingredients on the websites and either create your own or find an appropriate substitute at your store.

First, wash wings/drumettes and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat generously with Cavenders, moderately with Tony Chacheres and add cayenne pepper to your personal 'Hot'ness. Now toss yo chicken in a freezer bag and place in the fridge...for up to eight hours.

When ready to cook, Hoov suggests playing The Texas Tornado's "A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada' on the stereo for a lil' voodoo vibe. Fill a large pot a little more than halfway with water and mix with crab boil according to directions on package. Bring to a boil. Add your wangs and maintain a rolling boil for approx 20 min. The Hoov uses a meat thermometer to check internal temp of his wangs but don't poke a chick before it's time! 150 F is perfect.

While wings are boiling, locate the grill. Remove snow.

Light grill...carefully.

Now drain yo wangs...

Slap 'em on the grill.

Grill for 5 minutes on each side; make sure they get a bit crispy for texture. Remove from grill and toss with a generous amount of BBQ, like our hometown hero 'Head Country.'

Then lightly dust with brown sugar.

Look at those babies! Get in my belly!!!!

These are some seriously rockin' wings.

Thanks Ho! Er...I mean Bro!