Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

From Mothers to Daughters to Granddaughters: Enchiladas Suizas de Pollo May 26, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 11:12 am

In continuing with my Mexican food week, I am presenting the (slightly altered) recipe for enchiladas suizas.  Growing up, I always looked forward to my mom making enchiladas.  Those rolled tortillas filled with spicy beef and gooey cheese, then covered in a rich red sauce with even more melted cheese….not exactly heart healthy, but oh, so delicious.  We always had beef enchiladas at home.  I had never heard of enchiladas suizas.  This is likely due to the fact that we rarely ever ate out.  My mom cooked breakfast and dinner nearly every night, despite working full time and having six children, although there were never more than five living at home at any given time.  Our house was always spotlessly clean (my mother would disagree with this statement, but that is because if the magazines are not perfectly fanned out, the house is a wreck, in her opinion).  While we kids had chores on Saturday and alternated days washing dishes, I am still amazed at how she managed to get everything done.  I am the mother of one and generally only work two days per week and my house is in a constant state of disarray!  While I do cook, the dishes are often left until the following morning, I don’t cook every day and I almost never cook breakfast. (more…)


Viva Mexico May 23, 2010

Filed under: appetizers,seafood — freerangenurse @ 3:37 pm

A new shipment of cookbooks arrived from Amazon a couple of weeks ago.  One of the new books I was eagerly awaiting was Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art.  The first time I went to Fonda San Miguel restaurant was back in 1981 (I think) when I was a flower girl in a wedding.  The rehearsal dinner was held there and I remember thinking the food was really good, but I don’t remember much else.  Several years later, I went back as an adult and this time I took in the vibrant surroundings, the art on the walls, the intricately cut papel picado (or cut paper banners) hanging from the ceiling, the peaceful entry courtyard area, and of course, the food.

The food at FSM is not typical TexMex, but rather interior Mexican food full of flavor and texture.  There is a variety of seafood selections such as ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice) and enchiladas suizas de jaiba (crab enchiladas) as well as regional delicacies such as quesadillas de huitlacoche (corn fungus – which is just starting to gain following as Mexican truffles), which has a nutty, earthy flavor.  The queso is not a liquid mixture to be scooped up with tortilla chips, but rather a thick, gooey serving of melted cheese served with warm tortillas.  Mmmm, delicioso y sabroso (delicious and flavorful)! (more…)


Delight-ful Egg Tart

Filed under: dessert — freerangenurse @ 2:34 pm

I’m in a book club.  An over-the-top book club.  Each month we take turns selecting the book, then the hostess also brings snacks which coordinate with the book.  One month later when we meet to discuss the book and chose a new one, she also comes up with a little take away and a clever way to discuss the book.  This month was my month to host and my book pick was Kitchen Chinese.  I selected this book mostly because of the food descriptions, so it was only fitting that I came up with a Chinese snack menu.

I emailed my friend, Delight.  It’s true, I have a Chinese American friend who’s real name is Delight and it’s fitting, because she is, in fact, a delight.  I’ve known her since elementary school and, since her parents owned a Chinese restaurant, I figured she could help me select some snack recipes for the group.  She emailed me several ideas and I chose to make these egg tarts and almond cookies (recipe coming soon).  Delight warned me that the tarts are very egg-y and not for everyone, so I decided to make mini-mini tarts, so if my book club folks didn’t like them, they wouldn’t feel bad about not finishing them.  After I tasted them, I discovered they weren’t what I thought they’d be at all.  At hearing the name, egg tart, I imagined a scrambled egg in a pastry shell.  After eating one, I decided they should be renamed custard tarts.  The filling tasted more like a flan custard minus the coffee flavor.  They are mildly sweet, very smooth and surprisingly delicious.  I also think the pastry shells would be even better filled with lemon curd (I will test this hypothesis in the near future). (more…)


I Believe in a Thing Called Brine May 16, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 3:22 pm

I’ve made fried chicken many times.  I’ve made good fried chicken many times.  I made exceptional fried chicken for the first time.  What was the difference between the chicken I’d been making and the chicken I will make from here on out?  A little thing called brine.

I’d heard of brine before now.  Deb at Smitten Kitchen extolled the virtues of brine here and here.  I just hadn’t ever tried it, fearing it would make the chicken too salty.  I then read Thomas Keller’s recipe in his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. (more…)


Blue Cheese and the Other White Meat April 29, 2010

Filed under: dinner,pork — freerangenurse @ 9:11 am

It has been years since I’ve had a pork chop.  My husband doesn’t much care for them, so I don’t make them very often, but the other night, I had a real craving.  Not in the way I usually like my chops (just salted, peppered and baked in the oven), but with something different.  I went to one of my favorite websites – Epicurious – and searched pork chop recipes and found this.  It spoke to me.  It involved cheese.  It involved bread, and mushrooms, and butter.  Really, need I say more?  My husband was nice enough to go to the grocery store for ingredients because he is sweet like that, and because if I go, I will come back with $200.00 worth of other stuff we don’t need.  Yep, impulse buyer right here!

I altered the recipe just a bit, adding panko bread crumbs with a little dijon mustard to the outside.  I don’t believe less is more, apparently.  The results were delicious.  The blue cheese lends a nice tang to the stuffing.  I did leave one pork chop plain, however, because I know my husband wouldn’t touch blue cheese if his life depended on it.  He’s a simple man with simple tastes.  He takes his baked potato with butter only!  Disturbing, I know.  Sydney is a little more adventurous, thankfully.  She gave it thumbs up.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

adapted from Bon Apétit, September 1998

  • 4 1-inch thick pork chops, with or without bone, butterflied
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 cups small cubes of French bread
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp liquid from cooked mushrooms
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs



A Tête-a-Tête About Brioche April 27, 2010

Filed under: bread — freerangenurse @ 9:14 am

Têtê-â-têtê – noun – (quite literally a head to head) a private conversation between two people.

Brioche â têtê – noun – culinary, traditional way of preparing brioche, in a mold with a little head of dough.

Come, let’s have a little talk.  It’s about bread.  I mentioned in a previous post my love of bread.  I love a warm chunk of bread, just out of the oven with a delicious imported butter spread across it.  I will never be thin.  I blame this bread fetish on my elementary school years, growing up in Austin, and our field trip to the ButterKrust bakery (which, sadly, is no more).  The tour took us on a behind the scenes tour of making loaves of bread.  I remember the warm yeasty smell in the air, the workers hand twisting the dough, the conveyor belt of baked loaves, but most of all I remember the slice of warm Texas toast slathered in butter that we got at the end of the tour (along with a No. 2 pencil and a ruler).  The amount of butter on that bread was obscene!  And so delicious.

Now that I’m an adult (in years, if not mentality), I still enjoy a warm piece of bread, with slightly less butter on it.  My friend, Jackie, was kind/cruel enough to bring a copy of Fine Cooking to work to show me and inside was a tempting recipe for brioche along with detailed step by step instructions.  I immediately went to Central Market to pick up recipe ingredients and my own copy of the magazine.  My first day off and I made two batches of brioche, reasons to follow. (more…)


Conquering Your Fears and Following Your Instincts April 25, 2010

Filed under: appetizers,dinner,lunch,seafood — freerangenurse @ 2:30 pm

I have a confession.  Artichokes have always intimidated me.  These big thistles are covered with spike tipped leaves, have a center choke that will make you do just that if you eat it, and have always seemed like a lot of effort to basically serve as scoops for mayonnaise or butter sauce.  Yet, with all these obstacles, I do enjoy artichokes and their tender hearts, so when I saw this recipe for shrimp stuffed artichoke bottoms, I couldn’t resist getting over my fear of artichokes.  Another fantastic reason to conquer my fears were the beautifully photographed step by step instructions in Fine Cooking Magazine for preparing artichokes in a number of different ways.



So Many Choices April 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 8:00 am

Is it possible to be in love with a grocery store?  If it is, is it also possible for the relationship to be a little bit disfunctional?  Such is my relationship with Central Market.  It is a store I both love and yet, it is also a love that overwhelms me.  First, the distance it is from my house is an issue (it’s about 18 miles, one way).  There is often heavy traffic somewhere along the route, a major annoyance.  Once there, I have to deal with the lack of parking.  It’s not that the lot is small, it’s that the lot is small for the number of other shops in that shopping center.  This is just the beginning.

Inside the store, I am overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of fresh produce.  There are too many options and everything looks entirely too good!  I want to buy it all!  I don’t have recipes lined up, but I can google that when I get home, right?  It isn’t a matter of going to the store with a full belly; this isn’t about picking items out of hunger.  This is choosing things because you’re curious, because you’re inspired, because you saw it.  This is dangerous.  There are marketing geniuses at work there.  Apples are stacked just so, fresh pineapples sit on fields of shaved ice, mushrooms of exotic names and appearances peek out of darkened bins, fresh greens with names you’ve never heard of beckon, try me, pick me. (more…)


Urban Legend Cookies April 12, 2010

Filed under: chocolate,cookies,dessert — freerangenurse @ 10:43 am

Did you ever hear the story of the Nieman Marcus cookie?  Supposedly a woman dined at the Nieman Marcus Cafe and had their chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  She enjoyed the cookies so much, she asked the waiter for a recipe and was told they could sell it to her for two-fifty.  She agreed and then upon receiving her credit  card statement, was horrified to find out that she was billed $250.00 for the recipe.  She called the store to dispute the charge, but was told, essentially, too bad, no refunds.  Disgruntled and bent on revenge, she distributed the recipe to everyone she knew to prevent anyone else from being duped into purchasing the recipe. (more…)


Absolutely In Love With Lebovitz! April 10, 2010

Filed under: chocolate,dessert — freerangenurse @ 10:00 am

Many of my friends know that there are a few food bloggers that I love.  There are many that I read, but only two or three that I could say that no matter what recipe of theirs I try, it always yields delectable results.  David Lebovitz is one of those three.  I have all of his cookbooks, I read his blog with great enthusiasm, I follow him on Twitter and I am FaceBook “friends” with him.  I’m a little obsessed. (more…)