Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika and Peppadew Peppers

How well do you know Labor Day? I thought it was a military holiday honoring soldiers. For someone else, it’s the last time to wear white. Maybe, it’s the last barbecue of the summer. It actually honors labor unions. Ironically, many unions today are aggressively fighting for employees’ rights, without majority public support. Most people think of them as a nuisance. Au contraire…

This isn’t a political or social blog, so the rest of my thoughts are kept to myself. Let’s just say, I’m working harder—around the clock–for less money and benefits than years before. These past few months are a whirlwind of busy projects. They’re fragile like eggs, for not one can crack. Read more

Chicken Mole Enchiladas

This is a faux, non-traditional Mole sauce, because a slower cooker, a food processor, a blender and store-brought grounded spices were used to shorten the prepping time. The tomato sauce is the fool’s proof technique of preventing a bitter taste. If these steps in this recipe appear laborious, then compare the prepping steps of a traditional mole sauce.

Traditional mole sauces require time, commitment, and attention to details. There are many versions representing Mexico’s regions. Each tedious step is crucial to the final result. It’s not a last minute sauce made on a weekday, nor is it a soup that uses old ingredients before they spoil (Many delicious chili recipes are made by “cleaning out the fridge” with old ingredients). Spices are brought whole and individually toasted before grinding them finely with a mortar and a pestle. The bitterest chocolate is used not for its false look of sweetness, but its inner soul of taste. Corn tortilla shells are fried to a crisp and turned into a mealy texture. Along with corn tortillas, nuts and sesame seeds thicken the sauce to harmonize the complex ingredients, and its raw taste will melt away. Ancho chilies are seeded, because the seeds will add to much spicy heat to the pot. Mole sauce requires a weekend of prepping and cooking. It’s why it’s traditionally made for weddings and special occasions.

Using a slow cooker allows other projects requiring the same amount of time, commitment and attention to details to be completed as a traditional mole sauce. Depending on a schedule, the sauce will cook in a slow cooker for at least four hours on high to ten hours on low heat. That’s many hours of freelance work that could be completed. Prep the ingredients in the morning for an exotic meal in the evening. It’s nice to appear as if I have my life together all of the time.

Between freelance projects and personal commitments, this was the best weekend to make a mole sauce. Simply not true. As stated above,

Traditional mole sauces require time, commitment, and attention to details.

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Roasted Vegetable Tomato Sauce over Pasta

Roasted Vegetable Tomato Sauce over Penne Pasta

In an effort to control our weight, we’re trying to eat dinner earlier in the day. After a couple hours of freelance work, I started grocery shopping at 4:30 p.m. to purchase a few vegetables and wine. Prepping dinner started close to 6:00 p.m. The evening’s schedule was to fix dinner, go to the gym for 30 minutes, return home to take a shower, reheat dinner and end the day with a glass of red wine. In reality, an Argentinian bottle of red wine was opened at 7:00 p.m., the coat was hung for the night and we sat down to a bowl of garlicky, roasted vegetable sauce over penne pasta. Lesson learned for the day: go grocery shopping earlier. This is a sauce that tastes better the next day when the flavors marinate over night.

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Roast Paprika Chicken, Garbanzo Beans and Tomatoes over Couscous

Paprika is too overqualified as a garnish. It sits in the back of most spice racks behind the thyme, basil and rosemary. Blame it on the average grocery store’s fault for offering a pretty spice with no substance. I thought sour cream was the star of the traditional Hungarian dish, Chicken Paprikash. I love how gourmet stores, food television networks and online media have expanded our culinary repertoires.

Looking for ingredients for a spicy enchilada dish at a gourmet store, I discovered a Spanish Smoked paprika. There were three versions: bittersweet, sweet or spicy. I picked the sweet version and returned home. I gently dipped a spoon into the tin can to retrieve a hint of a taste. It was powder to the paprika pandemonium delicious. The future of my menus would alter dramatically. The social order of my spices shifted. Paprika was no longer limited as a garnish. It has become one of my favorite spices. I use it minimally, because it’s a dominant flavor.

The Roast Paprika Chicken, Garbanzo Beans and Tomatoes over Couscous recipe is simple and quick. Find the source of the recipe at the end of this post. My version may be more complicated. However, it’s a quick weekday meal.

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