Manilla Clams with Spicy Charred Tomatoes and Pancetta

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

I really do love seafood. Heck. I just love food! And I love to eat… and cook, of course! 😛 I especially enjoy clams. Not too big on eating them raw, I must admit, but I can get down on a bowl of some yummy linguine with clams, stuffed clams, clam chowder. I think you get my drift.

When I’m setting out to create these recipe blogs, I’m never really quite sure what I’m going to make until I take a look at what I have in terms of ingredients, and basically work around that. I haven’t had clams in a while, and it’s another one of those dishes that remind me of Summer on the East Coast.

So I set my devilish cooking plan into motion, bought some beautiful Manilla Clams and a bunch of Mother Earth’s bounty from the farmers market, including some freshly baked Ciabatta bread that I used in this recipe. I suppose this dish is a fusion of Italian and Spanish flavors, but also wanted to keep the ingredients fairly simple and easy to prepare. As with any recipe, you can adjust and play around with different ingredients.

One thing’s for sure. The end result is just delicious. The following recipe made enough for about 2 entree portions or enough for 4 people to share as an appetizer. Enjoy!

Manilla Clams with Spicy Charred Tomatoes and Pancetta

3 pounds of Manilla Clams, cleaned and washed

1 pint of ripe cherry or grape tomatoes

4 oz of small diced pancetta ( or 4 slices of bacon)

1/2 medium size yellow onion, sliced thin

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1/4 cup of chopped parsley

1 cup of chicken stock, white wine, or water

1 small red chili pepper

1. In a non stick skillet, put the tomatoes in the pan with no oil over medium heat and begin to char the tomatoes, gently shaking the pan to get a nice hard sear on them. They should look like this :

2. Once the tomatoes are charred, reduce the heat a bit and add the diced pancetta or bacon. The pork fat will render out and will help to further cook the tomatoes. Cook until the bacon is nice and crispy. Leave the pork fat in the pan, as it will become part of the sauce itself.

3. Add in the onions, garlic, a few slices of the red chili and saute until the onions just start to wilt. At this point you can smoosh the tomatoes with a fork to start to create the pan sauce.

4. Add in the clams and deglaze the pan with the 1 cup of water, stock, or wine, and cover the pan to allow the clams to open and release their juices. Some of the clams might take a bit longer to open. Discard any dead clams ( you’ll be able to smell which ones) and make sure not to reduce the sauce too much. Add more liquid if you need to.

5. Once all of the clams are open, sprinkle in the parsley, and taste the sauce for salt, pepper, and heat from the chili’s. Add more sliced chili peppers if you like it spicy!

For the bread, I stuck with the stove top, melted some butter and pan toasted the bread slices. I made sure not to burn the bread, but also wanted a nice char on them. Over all I was going for layers of smokiness that lent itself well to this dish.

Put those clams in a bowl, pour the sauce all over them, drizzle with olive oil, slice the bread and add them in with the clams to soak up all the yumminess and go eat!! Mussels would also be fabulous with this sauce as well, but I enjoyed the chewiness of the clams.

I hope you give this one a try sometime. It’s a really nice mystic meal to make for yourself or share with family and friends. Until we eat again, dear reader… Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!!

Cheers, hugs, and meows!

Xo Nikki 💕✨

Follow Mystic Meals on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! 😉✨

Bacon and Mushroom Flatbread with Fresh Mozzarella and Fontina Cheese

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

The title says it all. However, what is the difference between flatbread and Pizza? Hmm… 🤔 The only real difference to me is texture. Flatbread is thinner and crispier. A bit more cracker like around the edges. Pizza tends to be a lot thicker and doughier. They both allow for an endless amount of toppings, and are always fun to make.

You can also use pizza dough to make flatbread by simply rolling the dough out much thinner than you normally would. Flatbreads are usually in the shape of a rectangle, where as most pizzas are round. So is it all in the name? Is a flatbread still a pizza even though we’re calling it a flatbread? Doesn’t it taste just as good?

Hell yeah, it does! I was in the mood for making this for lunch and it was insanely delicious. I’ll just list off what I used rather than an actual recipe, since it’s really up to you the kind of toppings you’ll have on hand. I did use a variety of cooking methods for each ingredient because I knew exactly how I wanted this to be. I like contrasts in texture and taste and how roasting one thing, and grilling another creates those bursts of flavor that make the ordinary, extraordinary. Here’s what I used…

Ingredients:

Bacon cut into small pieces

Button and Oyster mushrooms, sliced

Grilled spring onions, chopped

1 bulb of garlic, roasted

Spinach

Fresh Mozzarella

Fontina Cheese

Parsley & thyme

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, and chili flakes

Now, if you’re feeling wiley and want to make the dough from scratch, I suggest this Classic Pizza Dough by Martha Stewart. It’s fairly easy to prepare and works well for both flatbread style and traditional pizza making. A high quality pre made pizza crust or heck… French bread or baguette will work just as well.

I roasted the garlic bulb in foil with a drizzle of olive oil in a 400 degree oven for about 35 min. I have a cast iron grill and used it to char the spring onions. I sautéed the bacon until it was nice and barely crisp. Removed it, then sautéed the mushrooms in the bacon fat. Cause I’m crazy like that and like to extract the most out of everything I cook with. 😜

I then added a pat of butter to the mushrooms, cause the bacon fat wasn’t enough… 😛 some fresh thyme leaves, chopped parsley, seasoned with salt and pepper and deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup of water. I removed the roasted garlic cloves and put them in a small bowl with more thyme and parsley, olive oil, chili flakes, s & p, and smooshed it all together to make a paste. I then shmeared the roasted garlic love on the flatbread dough and proceeded to add the other ingredients.

I put the fontina on first, then the shrooms, spinach, chopped onions, mozzarella, and finally, the bacon. I sprinkled some more chili flakes on top, drizzled with olive oil and baked it at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. My oven runs pretty hot so things cook rather quickly, so check yours after 10 minutes and see if you need more time.

The end result for this was fantastic. From the nuttiness of the garlic, the char from the onions, the earthiness of the mushrooms and herbs, the creaminess of the melted cheeses, and the savory flavor of the bacon, with the perfect amount of heat from the chili flakes on top of the crispy, yet chewy flatbread was culinary magic.

I hope you try your hand at making some pizza & flatbread and have fun with different styles and cooking techniques to make it a mystic meal of your own. Thanks for stopping by, dear reader! Until we eat again… Happy Cooking!

Cheers, hugs, and meows!

Xo Nikki 💕✨

Follow Mystic Meals on Instagram!

All photos taken by moi! 😉

Thai Yellow Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE curries. There’s just something about the complexities of the spices involved that make it stand out in such memorable ways. Some people don’t really like curries because of it’s association with heat/chilis, but there is a difference between Thai Curries and Indian Curries. They both contain levels of spiciness, but this depends upon the amount of chili’s used to create the curry paste or mix in the first place.

Indian curries tend to incorporate a wide variety of dried spices like a masala mix, and Thai curries are typically made in the form of a paste using wet ingredients like galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. Thai curries also tend to be a bit soupier, meaning that the curry sauce itself isn’t as thick as an Indian Curry. And it should be noted that not all Indian curries are coconut milk based.

When I’m out and about on any kind of food shopping excursion, I’m always on the hunt for something new to try and add to my cooking repertoire. Those key ingredients that help make my own mystics meals that much more epic and over the top. I found that in a brand called Mike’s Organic Curry Love and have been hooked on it ever since. The brand has been around since 2008, so it’s not a new thing on the market, it’s just new to me because I’ve only discovered it about 6 months ago.

They make a variety of curry pastes and sauces that are wonderfully authentic in flavor. There are several things I enjoy about the brand itself, including it’s packaging, ease of use, and minimal waste factor. They come in single use pouches and make enough for a nice hearty meal to feed 3 to 4 people, depending on if you even want to share any of it! The instructions are easy to follow, so any home cook at any skill level can create a mystic meal of their own that will impress the daylights out of your friends and loved ones. Trust me. 😛

I went with the Yellow Thai Curry Paste and added chicken to it, and a slew of veggies that I had that were screaming to be put into this recipe. Below is what I used to create this amazing meal. Enjoy!

Yellow Thai Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

8oz. chicken breast, diced into cubes

1/2 cup cubed sweet potato

1/2 cup cubed yukon potato

1 cup green beans, stems removed and cut in half

3/4 cup of diced yellow onion

1/2 cup of bell peppers, sliced

1 13.5 fl oz can of coconut milk ( I like the Chaokoh brand )

I packet of Mike’s Organic Curry Love’s Yellow Thai Curry Paste

2 T. vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste.

 

1. Boil the potatoes and cook them until they’re tender, but not mushy. I put both kinds together in the same pot with a touch of salt in the water. Once cooked, drain and set aside. Should take about 10 minutes.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the 2 Tbls of oil and the chicken, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and start to brown the meat. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the green beans, onions, and bell peppers and continue to sauté together for another 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Add the yellow curry paste and mix into the chicken and vegetables to help break it up and distribute into the ingredients. Sauté together for about a minute.

4. Add the can of coconut milk, being sure to scrape all the goodness out of the can, and stir all together. Lower the heat to a simmer, adjust the salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

5. Add the cooked potatoes, and gently stir into the curry. Remove from the heat and serve. Meow!

 

I opted to serve this with Basmati Rice, but it can be eaten as it is, with some yummy noodles or with some toasty bread. And of course you can make your curry with whatever the flip you want! Meat, no meat, seafood… Anything goes! I hope you give this recipe and this brand of curry pastes a try. It’s so worth it, in particularly if you’re looking to jazz up your next meal and try something new!

Thank you so much for stopping by, dear reader… Until we eat again. Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

xo Nikki

Follow Mystic Meals on Instagram!

Cheesy Poblano Corn Fritters and Garlicky Green Beans with Mushrooms

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

I love making side dishes. For me they often become the center of the meal and I like their versatility when it comes to how to eat and serve them. And I typically throw the rule book out the window when I’m cooking, anyways… 😛 Both of these recipes are vegetarian friendly and perfect for any kind of meal, morning, noon, or night. I’ll start with the Corn Fritters.

Corn can sometimes be a one trick pony in the sense that most of the time, speaking for myself, I prepare it the same way ( with butter and a pinch of salt ) because my daughter’s super picky when it comes to the way she eats. However, she’s becoming increasingly curious about the dishes I’ve been making for these blog posts and is at least “tasting” what I make. It’s a start, right? So I tried out a dish I haven’t made in a long time.

Fritters are made up of a thick batter containing fruits or meats and vegetables depending on the recipe. Some are deep fried in lots of oil and are bit rounded or oval since they’re spoon dropped into it. In this recipe the fritters are more of a pancake shape, use way less oil, and are nice and crispy on both sides thanks to all the yummy cheese getting fried to perfection. They’re really easy to prep and cook and I recommend using fresh corn if you have it, but you can use canned or frozen corn as well. Just make sure you drain and dry the canned corn, and defrost the frozen corn and again, dry it to absorb excess water.

Cheesy Poblano Corn Fritters

2 Cups of corn

1 medium sized Poblano pepper, seeded and small diced

1 half jalapeño pepper, seeded and small diced

1/4 cup sliced green onion

1/8 cup chopped cilantro

1 large clove of garlic, minced

1 cup shredded jack cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup AP flour

2 large eggs

3/4 cup of milk

3/4 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, wet and dry. Mix together well. The batter will be VERY thick.

Heat up your favorite frying pan over medium heat and add 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil per batch of Fritters.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter into your frying pan, frying 3 to 4 scoops at a time. Press down with a spatula to round them out, not making them too flat or thin.

Fry for about 4 minutes per side until golden brown on both sides. Serve them warm with sour cream if you’re feeling fancy 😉 Makes between 10 to 12 pieces. *Side note: I didn’t feel the need to add any extra salt since the cheeses are pretty savory, but feel free if you want to add more S & P at the end. Btw, my daughter took the tiniest bite… Baby steps. 🤪

Now on to the next recipe…

Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables to make as a side dish, however I also love to use them as a salad topper and as a main course. Easy to eat raw or cooked and again, extremely versatile, there are countless ways to incorporate them into your next mystic meal 😉✨

I also love mushrooms and combining these two together is always a win-win for me. With so many people taking control of their eating habits by meal prepping for the week, this is a great recipe to add to your next green salad, grilled chicken or fish, grain bowls, etc.

I must admit… I’m from the Julia Child school of butter, and this recipe uses a fair amount, but you can of course use olive oil or cooking oil of choice. I just happen to prefer using butter and for me, it adds a richness to the dish that I love and let’s face it… Butter is delicious, but use as little or as much as you see fit for yourself.

Garlicky Green Beans with Mushrooms

1 pound green beans, cleaned and stems removed

8oz of your favorite mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup thin sliced onion or shallots

1 Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme

1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

4 Tablespoons of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil and add the green beans. Cook in rapidly boiling water for no more than 2 minutes. Drain the green beans and cool under cold running water or in an ice bath. Drain and set aside.

In a large pan over medium heat, add the butter, garlic, mushrooms, and onions and sauté until the vegetables just start to caramelize. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Add the green beans and cook together for about 3 minutes. Then add the thyme and parsley, mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve.

There you have it, dear reader! Two very different, vegetarian and easy to prepare side dishes that I hope you try out and add to your next Mystic Meal! Happy Cooking and Happy Eating! And Happy Easter, too!

Cheers, hugs, and meows!

Xo Nikki 💕

Follow Mystic Meals on Instagram!

CBD Infused Foods

Greetings, Mystic Meows!

Chefs all over the world predicted that in 2019 one of the biggest food trends we would see is the incorporation of CBD in pretty much everything edible. From drinks to pet food, chips to chocolate, chefs are seeing unique opportunities for new cuisine and experimental dining options by the inclusion and infusion of cannibis and CBD oil. Just take a look at what a company called Cannabinoid Creations is doing with CBD infusion.

What exactly is CBD? CannaBiDiol is a compound found in the resin of the cannibis flower, and has a rich medicinal history going back for a long time. As in, thousands of years. Unlike the THC compound, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you “high”, so it’s not going to alter your state of mind upon consumption.

However, CBD research indicates that the changes it causes the body might be beneficial. I’ll link a couple of places where you can learn more about it. So far it’s research has shown that it might relieve pain, depression, anxiety, causes of acne, and alleviate certain cancer symptoms.

CBD Benefits

CBD and the FDA

As far as consumption, there’s a variety of ways in which food is being used to entice us into trying CBD products in the latest health food vitamin, chocolate confection, infused coffee, and treats for our pets. Even fast food chains are jumping on the CBD bandwagon. Carl’s Jr., a West coast fast food chain known as Hardy’s on the East coast, recently announced that it is debuting the Rocky Mountain High Cheeseburger infused with CBD on 4/20. You need to be 18yrs or older to purchase it, of course… But the variety of ways that CBD will be making its way into everything you can think of will be intriguing to see and taste.

It’s an interesting and controversial subject considering that no one can say for sure how beneficial CBD really is for us, but as a chef I can totally see the appeal to incorporating it into recipes as these days it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep consumers engaged and interested in following food trends that aren’t embracing a plant based, sustainable, zero waste mentality. CBD would fall into plant based, I suppose.

I’m looking forward to seeing how creative and inventive chefs and other companies are going to be with it all and what changes people will feel if consuming CBD on the regular. Time will tell! Until next time dear reader… Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

Cheers, hugs, and meows!

Xo Nikki 💖✨

Follow Mystic Meals on Instagram!!

Photos courtesy of Carl’s Jr., and Google images 😉

LA Weekly

Hello there, Mystic Foodies!

Recently I was given the opportunity to submit an article to LA Weekly about some fellow Chef friends of mine who have recently started their own Mexican inspired weekend pop up, Tortilla Con Amor based out of North Hollywood, Ca. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have something I’ve written published in a mainstream publication, and I hope you meows give it read and enjoy the story.

Even if you don’t live anywhere near California, be sure to follow Tortilla Con Amor on social media and watch their food journey unfold, just as my own is blossoming in unexpected ways. I will continue to write for myself, and whoever wants to read about the people, meals, ingredients, and experiences that have and continue to make their impression in my life. You can also keep up with me at Mystic Meals on Instagram!

Happy reading, and happy cooking!

Cheers, hugs, and meows!

Xo Nikki

https://www.laweekly.com/restaurants/on-the-street-feeling-the-love-at-tortilla-con-amor-10138020

‘‘Tis the season!

Season’s Greetings, dear meows!

Wow! I can’t believe it’s December already! Where did the year go? One more month and then on to 2018! I don’t know about you meows, but 2017 was quite an interesting year for me. Lots of ups and downs, unexpected surprises, a lot of hard work and sacrifice, and a whole bunch of memories! Speaking of memories…

The holiday season is where eating, cooking, and food in general take center stage, at least for me 😉 This year for Thanksgiving, the roasted Turkey I made turned out exceptionally good. Literally picture perfect. See? 😉 ( pat’s self on the back… )

My secret? I dry brined the bird. It’s a great way to impart maximum flavor and ensuring crispy browned skin, while keeping the meat tender and juicy! Here’s a simple and easy dry brine rub that works wonders on Chicken & Turkey! For me, roasting low and slow, then turning up the oven temp towards the end really helps with the end results…

Dry Salt Brine Rub :

3 tablespoons kosher salt 

1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, or blend

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (14- to 16-pound) thawed whole turkey (not kosher or pre-salted)

The reason for not using a kosher bird is that they typically have a salted solution added to them. Try to find a bird that has no pre seasoning or solutions injected into it. Use half the amount of rub if you’re using a whole chicken instead of a turkey. Pat your bird dry before adding the rub. They key here is get the dry rub under the skin as best as you can, and using the rest all over the outside of the bird. Then let it rest in the fridge, uncovered for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days max. The process of osmosis will draw out the natural juices from the bird, and then miraculously the meat then reabsorbs them, basically seasoning itself from the outside in. So worth it!

This year for Christmas, I’m not sure what I’m going to make. I’m leaning towards cooking some of the ethnic dishes Colombians and Puerto Rican’s typically prepare around this time of year. Pernil, which is roasted pork shoulder, is always a crowd pleaser and perfect for feeding a ton of meows.

Accompanied by yellow saffron rice, beans, salad and a creamy flan for dessert? Yes, meow! I haven’t made a flan in a while and I hope I haven’t lost my touch!

What are some of your favorite Christmas foods to make? I’ll be back here soon with some more recipes that’ll be great for holidays and beyond! But before I go… Lest we forget to make a yummy cocktail for toasting to the season! I found this one on Pinterest and I’m definitely gonna make a batch of these!

Pomegranate Mules

2oz. Vodka

1oz. pomegranate juice

1 Tbls. pomegranate seeds

1 Tbls. lime juice

1 tsp. honey

1/2 cup ice

Ginger beer or ginger ale

sprig of rosemary

In a cocktail glass, stir together the vodka, pomegranate juice, seeds, lime juice, honey and ice. Top off with the ginger beer and add a sprig of rosemary to garnish.

Thank you meows for being here and I hope to hear from you! Happy Holidays and Happy Cooking!

Cheers, hugs & meows! Nikki 💖✨😻

Photo credits by Jay Luna, Google images, Micha Morton and Pinterest 😉