Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Beaver Creek Chef

We are going to Beaver Creek in February, a week of skiing for most of those going on the trip. For me, it will be a week of cooking for the house. Can you imagine, a ski trip with a personal chef? I am already busy thinking of great menus and gathering my tasting team to try new recipes. First up, an authentic Mexican menu. I am working on pork carnitas with homemade corn tortillas. The corn tortillas really do require some practice so we are going to be enjoying a fair amount of them in the next few months. I've got the pork carnitas and refried beans down, they are ease. So last night I served a potential appetizer to my trusted group of taste testers. Parmesan crusted crab quesadillas with roasted red pepper and chipotle chili aioli and roasted pineapple salsa. Tina always laughs when I say everything is easy. So here we go, this is not easy, it is complicated, time consuming, involves multiple steps and undivided attention! While it is still a work in progress it is worth all the time and effort.

Parmesan Crusted Crab Quesadillas

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chipotle-cream cheese sauce (see below)
salt and pepper
4 12 inch flour tortillas (I used 12 6 inch corn tortillas, store bought not homemade)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (please don't use that stuff in a the green can, grate your own)
1 cup grated monetary jack
1 cup crumble queso freso
roasted red pepper and chipotle chili aioli (see below)
Roasted pineapple salsa (see below)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 ounces dungeness crab (see notes)

Chipotle-cream cheese sauce (makes about 2 1/2 cups)

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano (I used dry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle puree (see notes)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Monterrey jack

Notes: I used La Costena Chipotle pepper in Adobe sauce which is GF! There is enough puree in the can to get what you need by a long shot. You can also puree one of the peppers if you want. I also used the remaining sauce to make another dish, otherwise I would have cut it in thirds to get what I needed. That being said, I think 1/2 a cup of sauce was a little scant for the recipe and next time I will use a little more. Also, I did not use dungeness crab. I used a very high quality canned crab that was sort of flaked. Next time I am going to go for a lump crab or many be a mix of lump and flake. These were really good but I would be nice to bite into a chunk of crab right?

In a sauce pan over medium high melt the butter. Add the onion and saute until soft. Add the Jalapeno, garlic and red pepper, continue to saute until soft. Add the oregano, salt, cumin and chipotle puree. Decrease the heat to low, add the cream and cream cheese and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring until the cream cheese is melted and blended. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Monterrey jack, stirring until melted and well incorporated. The sauce will get sort of stringy, especially as it cools, keep warm over the lowest of heat possible or plan on reheating to use it.

Roasted Red Pepper and Chipotle Chili aioli

3-4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1 red bell pepper, roasted and seeded
1 cup mayo
1 teaspoon chipotle puree (again, I used the canned stuff)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Notes: This stuff is really good and can be used as a spread on just about anything. That being said, it make way too much for any one household and next time I might try and cut it half.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic on a piece of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven for 30 minutes. Combine the roasted garlic, roasted red pepper, mayo, chipotle puree, lemon juice and salt in a blender of food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use for up to three days.

Grilled pineapple salsa

OK I sort of made this one up so the proportions are really a guess.

1 cup of pineapple chunks
olive oil
1/4 a red pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
pinch of salt, pinch of pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle puree

Drizzle pineapple with olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, turning once. Once cool, toss with everything else

O.K. now you have your chipotle cream cheese sauce and roasted red pepper aioli ready. Time to make the quesadillas.

To make the filling: Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan over medium high head. Add the onion and saute until soft, add the garlic, red pepper and green onion and saute for another minute or so, until soft. Add the Chipotle-cream cheese sauce (make sure it is warmish or it will be very stringy and hard to get out of the pan and mix in). Stir everything together and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and fold in the crab meat. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the quesadillas: Preheat a griddle or heat a skillet over medium heat. Please do this! Preheat before you start! Lay one tortilla on a work surface and brush the top side of the tortilla with olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan over the tortilla. Carefully flip the tortilla, oil-and-cheese side down, onto the griddle or skillet. Spread this tortilla with 1/4 cup queso fresco and 1/4 cup Monterrey jack cheese and then a quarter of the crab meat leaving a half inch boarder around the edge. Cook the quesadilla for 4-5 minutes or until the cheese melts and the other side is golden brown. Place the quesadilla on the work surface and fold in half. Repeat with remaining tortillas to make the other three quesadillas. I didn't do this as I had 6 inch tortillas on hand. Instead, I prepared a tortilla as directed placing the filling on the tortilla and then I topped that filled tortilla with another tortilla. I didn't brush the top one with olive oil or sprinkle with the Parmesan, next time I will. After 4 minutes I flipped the tortilla over and cooked it for another three minutes. I also put the finished tortillas on a cookie sheet and kept them in a 300 degree oven to keep them warm while I finished all of the.

To Serve: Cut the quesadillas into wedges. Put aioli in a a squirt bottle and decorate the plates with the aioli, alternatively spoon the aioli over the quesadillas. Spoon the salsa on the quesadillas and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Whew, that was a lot of work. But oh so worth it.

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