Friday, October 21, 2011

101's Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad

I was totally in the mood for pasta, but I didn't want to top it with marinara sauce or pesto.  I toyed with the idea of some sort of lemon-olive oil drizzle, but I really didn't want that either.  What to do? 
I remembered this recipe from 101 Cookbooks (Heidi Swanson) for sesame yogurt pasta.  I hadn't thought to combine tahini paste with yogurt.  The tanginess hit the spot and I got in at least two servings of vegetables in my body, not that I'm a nutritionist or anything.  Pretty, pretty good.  
I'm not sure if this combination will appeal to everyone, as it has a very specific flavor.  And if you don't like tahini, this isn't for you.  But if you do like the flavor of sesame and are looking for a new sauce to put on top of your stuffed pasta (I went with ricotta ravioli, which is what was recommended for this dish), then give this a try!
Note:  I didn't have fresh broccoli or cauliflower, so I used organic frozen veggies.  It worked well. I used the leftover grape tomatoes I had from this recipe, so nothing went to waste! Bon Appetite! 
Sesame Yogurt Pasta Salad (Courtesy of 101 Cookbooks)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup / 120 ml warm water
1/2 cup / 120 ml tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup / 120 ml plain or Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
fine grain sea salt
a big handful of broccoli florets
a big handful of cauliflower florets
a big handful of green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch segments
1/2 pound / 8 oz / 225 g stuffed pasta (ravioli, etc)
a big handful/scoop of cherry tomatoes, raw or roasted
a small handful torn basil and/or cilantro

Get a big pot of water started - you are going to want to bring it to a boil.
While the water is heating, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric. Stir well, and saute for just 15-30 seconds, or until the spices are toasted and fragrant. Transfer this mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the water, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Taste and adjust to your liking - you most likely will need a bit more salt. Set aside.

Salt the pot of water generously, and boil the broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans. Boil just 30 seconds, and quickly fish out with a slotted spoon. Run the vegetables under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, then drain and run under cold water. Really try to shake off any extra water, then add to the vegetables. Add the tomatoes, and toss gently. You can toss with half of the sauce at this point, or serve the salad with dollops of the sauce on top - to be tossed at the table. It's prettier this way. Sprinkle with the basil/cilantro (and basil flowers if you have them) and serve. Serve the extra sauce on the side - any leftover makes a good dip later in the week.

{Adapted from the Pasta Salad with Tangy Sesame-Yogurt Sauce in Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.}

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A Diwali Dinner: Curried Squash & Apple Soup and Indian Pancakes

One of my college room-mates celebrated Diwali.  She would get really excited about the holiday and return to our dorm room with some of the best food I have ever eaten.  Her mother and grandmother would spend hours preparing a lavish feast and I was happy to be the recipient of the holiday leftovers.  It sure beat ramen noodles and instant mac-and-cheese, two of my college staples.
Diwali is the festival of lights, and while I'm not Indian or Hindu (or Jain or Sikh), I never pass up an opportunity to celebrate a holiday...even if it isn't mine.  I freakin' love holidays!  How fortunate, then, that I came across Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates: Festive Meals for Holidays and Special Occasions at my local library. 
I decided to try the soup and the Indian pancakes. I really liked the soup and it just screams "hey, it's me, Fall!"  I bought local squash, Jonathan apples (which I must confess, I don't think I have ever eaten before) and local sweet potatoes.  The Indian flavors come through from the cumin and coriander seeds.  I'm wondering if I should add some mild Indian curry powder the next time I make this.  I'll make it a game-time decision.  There's no cream in this soup and I used just one cup of stock (the original recipes uses only water).  Healthy, healthy, healthy.  The spinach, as it is used here, really isn't a garnish.  It's an essential part of the dish and it gives the soup added texture and flavors.  So go for it.  Hey, it's also good for you...
The Indian vegetable pancakes were delicious.  They are very similar to samosas-- spiced smashed potato, red pepper, onion, peas, mustard seeds, cumin and a dash of hot pepper sauce.  Before I put the patties on the skillet, I lightly dusted them with some fresh bread crumbs.  (I used Udi's 'unofficial' bread crumbs from Sunflower Market.  The market grinds down leftover baguettes at the end of the night and turn them into bread crumbs.) 
Diwali is coming up fast, so get cooking!  Happy Holidays!
Curried Squash & Apple Soup (Courtesy of Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates Holidays and Occasions)
Serves 6
2 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped butternut squash*
2 cups peeled, cored and coarsely chopped apples
2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped sweet potatoes* 
4 cups water
* About 3 pounds of butternut squash and just less than 2 pounds of sweet potatoes will yield the right amount for this recipe.
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
10 ounces fresh spinach or mustard greens, rinsed and chopped

In a large nonreactive soup pot (it needs to be big), sauté the onions in the butter or oil until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  In a small dry skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds on low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until aromatic and lightly browned.  Cool for a few minutes and grind to a powder (I used a coffee grinder). Add the ground spices, salt, squash, apples, sweet potato, and water to the onions.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, until all of the ingredients are thoroughly cooked and tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the garlic in the oil for about 1 minute on medium heat, stirring constantly, until soft and just golden. Add the greens and sauté on high heat until the water evaporates and the greens wilt.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
Purée the soup in small batches in a blender until smooth, adding about 1/4 cup of water if the soup is thicker than you'd like.  When ready to serve, gently reheat, ladle into shallow bowls, and top each serving with some of the sautéed greens.
* * *
Second Course
Indian Vegetable Pancakes (Courtesy of Moosewood Cookbook Celebrates)
Yields 12 pancakes
(You can make the pancakes ahead, and then fry just before serving.  Top with plain yogurt.)
4 1/2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes (1-inch cubes)- About 8 medium sized potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt (I used 2)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1 1/2 cups diced red bell peppers
2 cups peeled and grated carrots
3 to 4 drops Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, more to taste (I used 5)
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup bread crumbs
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Drain the potatoes and reserve some of the cooking liquid.  Place the potatoes in a large bowl, moisten them with about 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid, and mash them with a potato masher.  Warm 2 tablespoons of oil in a 10-inch skillet on medium heat.  Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for about 30 seconds, until the mustard seeds begin to pop.  Add the turmeric, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the onions and continue to sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft.  
Stir in the peppers and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes more, until crisp-tender, adding a splash of water, if needed, to prevent sticking. 
Sprinkle on a few drops of Tabasco sauce; the add the peas and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until the peas soften.
Transfer the vegetables to the bowl of mashed potatoes and stir in 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs.  Rinse and dry the skillet.  Mix together the vegetables and potatoes and, if necessary, adjust the salt and Tabasco sauce to taste.  Divide the potato mixture to form twelve round patties, each about 3 inches across.  Set aside on a platter.  Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs on the twelve patties, about 1/2 tablespoon per side.
Meanwhile, warm 3 tablespoons of the oil in the skillet until hot.
Gently slide three patties into the skillet with a wide spatula.  Fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until crisp on the bottom.  Carefully lift each one and turn it over, being careful not to splash the oil.  Fry on the second side for 3 to 4 minutes, remove from the skillet, and drain on paper towels.  Add more oil and repeat process until you make twelve pancakes.
Serve immediately or place the pancakes in a heatproof dish and keep them warm in a 300-degree oven until ready to serve. 
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baked Brooklyn's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (and Nutella Hot Chocolate )

My husband's birthday was coming up fast and I needed to pull a plan together. Absolutely nothing was going to top his 35th birthday weekend, which was last year. To celebrate the special day the last time around I really pulled out all the stops: Park Avenue Autumn for brunch, Nara at the Asia Society in the afternoon, Daniel for dinner (oui!) and tickets to Yankee post-season baseball (props to my mom for getting the tickets). The next day we went to Diner for brunch, Spa Castle for relaxation and then apple picking Upstate. It was great and it was going to be hard to replicate anything like that this year...especially since there's an 11 week old in the house and we haven't secured a babysitter.
I picked up a gift and decided to go with something more muted-- a little more family friendly-- and very local. I went with brunch in our house. Of course the best gift I gave my husband was the gift of sleep. He slept till 11:00 AM and woke up to a birthday brunch.  
I made a three egg omelette with Gruyere cheese, topped with homemade salsa verde, and some breakfast potatoes on the side.  It was delicious. But the piece de resistance was the pumpkin whoopie pie from Baked, Brooklyn. Yes, *that* whoopie pie-- the one that won top 100 tastes of 2007 by Time Out New York.
Baked is one of my most favorite bakeries (miss you!), and this recipe is from their cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.  
If you really want to go a little over the top,  pair it with nutella hot chocolate.  It's perfect for a chilly fall night.  It's lip-smacking good! 
* * *
Baked Brooklyn's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (Courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin purée
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar and oil together until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, about one inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling. 
(I used a whoopie pie pan so the domes were very smooth and round.  I think you get a more 'rustic' cookie, if I can call it that, when you put dough on baking sheets.) 
For the Cream Cheese Filling
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter until it's completely smooth, with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure. (The filling can be made one day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at room temperature before using.)
Assembling the Whoopie Pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down (flat side facing up).
Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whooopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.
The whoopie pies will keep for up to 3 days, on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
Baked Note: Make sure you chill the pumpkin puree thoroughly before making this recipe.  The chilled puree will make your whoopie pies easier to scoop. 

Nutella Hot Chocolate (Courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • mini marshmallows or whipped cream
In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, whisk together milk and Nutella until the Nutella is melted and milk gets nice and warm. Serve in mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream. Makes 4 servings.
This can be made ahead of time, cooled, and stored in the fridge.  Reheated on the stove or microwave in individual mugs.  If microwaving, reheat each cup for about 1 minute.
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Friday, October 14, 2011

A Taste of Home: Shopsin's Pumpkin Pancakes

For the most part, I'd say I'm really happy with our new neighborhood and the house we're renting. I've wanted to move west for as long as I can remember and we finally did it. During my rebellious teenager years I would talk about Oregon (pronounced:ore-uh-GONE) a lot. I was also obsessed with California, which might have been a symptom of being a New Yorker and living through the gray winters. But regardless, I wanted to move west. 
Well, here we are-- on the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I didn't make it all the way to the west coast, but we did move 2,000 miles in the right direction...
I knew that I'd miss certain things. And I do. But I was really ready for a change. I wanted a better quality of life, more relaxed atmosphere, and nature. Tons of nature.
That's what we really like about Denver. The people are friendly and the pace isn't rushed. We live in a big city-- with a symphony, a ballet (I'm thinking about going to Swan Lake. Who wants to come with?), a theater company and a some really cool museums-- but we are also just an hour away from the most spectacular mountain range and hiking galore. 
I'm trying local dishes that I wasn't familiar with before moving out here. Some examples include: green chili, American Indian Tacos and flatbreads, and huaraches. That said, I do miss some comfort foods from home and Shopsin's pumpkin pancakes is near the top of the list of things I am missing right now. (It's so very autumnal!)  
Lucky for me, their pumpkin pancake recipe was featured in Saveur Magazine a while back, so now I can make them anytime! And I won't have to deal with the long waits and the pushing at the Essex Market. All I've got to put up with is a little baby who occasionally likes to cry and a mischievous toddler who likes to destroy the house. That's not too bad, is it?
Alright, I've got my cakes on the griddle and then I'm off for a hike. 
Yes, this "west-mountain thing" suits me very well...
SHOPSIN'S PUMPKIN PANCAKES (Adapted ever so slightly from Saveur Magazine)
Serves 8

1 3⁄4 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
3/4 cup heavy cream 
1⁄2 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons of butter for greasing the skillet  {Note: The original recipe used 6 tablespoons of canola oil. I used butter instead - about 1/2 tablespoon of butter per batch of 3 pancakes.}
Butter and maple syrup, for serving
1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, ginger, salt, and allspice. Add pumpkin, cream, milk, and eggs; whisk until smooth. 
2. Heat 1/2 tbsp. butter in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Using a measuring cup, use 1/4 cup of batter for each 3" pancakes (I made three at a time) and pour on the skillet. Cook until bubbles begin to form on the edges, 1–2 minutes. Flip and cook until done, 1–2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining butter and pancake batter. Serve pancakes hot with butter and syrup. 
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Peaks and Rocky Mountain Eats

I decided to channel my inner Ansel Adams and snap a few mountain views in black and white. Pretty dramatic, no? These shots were taken on the way up to Echo Lake, not too far from Denver. Of course I had to take colored photos as well...this was a fall foliage outing, after all.
The Aspen leaves turn color in groups due to their single root system. Unlike the Northeast, there aren't tons of different hues. There are really just two colors-- yellow and orange.  But the way they are splattered in the midst of evergreen forests is nothing short of spectacular.  

Once we finished circling Echo Lake, we decided to head to Idaho Springs for some food.  We found Beau Jo's which serves up pizza pies, 'mountain style'. It was good. It's nothing like New York style pizza. It's its own thing. And the custom is to drizzle the remaining very thick (sauce-free) crust in honey for dessert.  Done.
BeauJo's Colorado Mountain Pie
Since we only had a single pie for lunch (we split it three ways), I was pretty hungry by the time we got home around dinner time. I was toying with the idea of making a provencal vegetable pistou, but decided that would take too much time. (In addition to being hungry, I was tired too.) We decided to do take-out.  
We opted for Tocabe, an American Indian eatery. The menu includes Indian Tacos, Medicine Wheels Nachos, and Fry Breads. I got the fry bread. It was something like a zeppole, if I had to name something analogous. I got chili beans and black beans, topped with a chipotle sauce and hominy salsa. I must say, the hominy salsa was the real stand out. It was delicious. And I was happy to try a new cuisine. I can now check Native American off my list! 
A few days later we found ourselves up in the mountains again, this time near Georgetown. It's a really cute town with tons of Victorian architecture and, in our experience, a good deal of wildlife. We took a drive up the Guanella Pass and the views were magnificent.  I'm not sure what the official altitude was, but the air was thin and the peaks were amazing.
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin: Patches and Cupcakes

I was dragging my feet.  Were we or weren't we going to go to the Isabelle Farm/Growe Foundation fundraiser?  I really wanted to check it out because: 1. I have never been to an actual, functioning organic farm; 2. it was a fundraiser and I was feeling altruistic; 3. there was cookie decorating and hayrides (whoops, that's 3 and 4!); and 4. the food promised to be delicious.
But we didn't know if the outing was going to line up with our household's nap schedules.  Well, long story short, we decided to go and I'm so glad we did.
The trip was about 30 minutes from our house.  We pulled into the parking lot and there were bales of hay and tons of pumpkins.  The inner farmer in me was super excited.  
The fundraiser was held on an 12 acre plot a few minutes away from the 'Big Farm.'  There were several varieties of pumpkin (Cindarella is the one to buy if you want to make pie), tons of squashes, beans, corn, beets, arugula, lettuce, carrots, celeriac and eggplant.  There were probably more vegetables being grown, but that's all I can remember from the farm tour. 
There was face painting and all sorts of games for the kids...and the food was delicious.
I ate my body weight in sweet goodies from the Tasterie Truck-- pumpkin whoopie pies, chocolate brownies and some tasty frosted cupcakes.  
There was brick oven pizza from Antonio Laudisio, a renowned Boulder chef, and the margherita was terrific (as was the white pizza).  Hosea Rosenberg, of Top Chef fame, was also putting out some great dishes.  One that stood out was the grilled watermelon with pomegranate, pomegranate reduction and topped with mint.  Yowzah! His Apple Slaw was also really light and tasty.
It was a great day.  
Below are some shots from the event and a great recipe for Pumpkin Brown-Butter Cupcakes.  For another amazing pumpkin dessert, click on Ina's Pumpkin Cupcake with Maple Frosting.  

* * *
Nothing says autumn like pumpkin cupcakes...
Pumpkin Brown-Butter Cupcakes (From Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)
Makes 15-18
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for tins
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional-- I didn't use sage)
 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Brown Butter Icing (Recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Brush standard muffin tins with butter; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sage, if desired, and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
4. To finish, dip top of each cupcake in icing, then turn over quickly and let set. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are glazed, keep at room temperature until ready to serve. 
Brown Butter Icing
Makes 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed
1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until nut-brown in color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour butter into bowl, leaving behind any burned sediment.
2. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to brown butter, stir until smooth. If necessary, add more milk (up to 2 tablespoons) a little at a time, just until icing is spreadable. Use immediately.

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And here's one of the new baby...

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Farm Stand Corn & Mushroom Tortilla Salad and the great Rocky Mountains

I came across this recipe while I was browsing food porn, I mean photos, on Pinterest (my latest guilty pleasure). I immediately "pinned it" to one of my boards. Then a few weeks later I found myself at the farmers market where fresh corn and corn tortillas were being sold. Excellent! There were also tons of mushrooms. I bagged about 2 cups of shitake...perfect for this dish.
The recipe is from New York based chef Aliya LeeKong. It is bright and "filled with end of summer flavors" - using fresh farm corn and grape tomatoes. It's very easy to make and incredibly flavorful.  
I've been getting into Mexican-style dishes because Mexican cuisine is a big part of Colorado cooking. There are chiles everywhere, so finding a nice looking jalapeno isn't very difficult. Fresh cilantro and some queso fresco top this little number off. It's the perfect lunch bite.  
Farm Stand Corn & Mushroom Salad (Adapted only slightly from Aliya Lee Kong)
Yields 2 servings
4 corn tortillas (the thinnest you can find)
Butter and olive oil
1 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
12 grape tomatoes, halved
small handful of cilantro, chopped
farmer’s cheese or queso fresco
salt and freshly ground black pepper
The first step is to make the tortilla “bowls.”  Rather than deep-frying to achieve pliability and moldability, I like to go a bit healthier and just use a skillet with a touch of butter and/or olive oil to get similar results. While doing this, you’re going to use small bowls that fit inside each other to mold the tortillas.  They will not turn out as crisp (and using thinner tortillas will help), but this method makes me feel better about calling this a salad.
Simply heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the tortilla and flip at intervals until it puffs and browns a bit.  You’ll feel the edges start to get crispy.  At this point, add a ½ tablespoon of butter or olive oil and let coat the tortilla.   Place a small bowl upside down on a cookie sheet.  Remove tortilla carefully and place on top of the overturned bowl.  Take another bowl, overturned, and put it on top.  It should mold the tortilla to the shape of the bowl and hold it in place as it cools.   Repeat for remaining tortillas, and let cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat, and add another tablespoon of butter with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil.  When the foam subsides, add the mushrooms and let sit undisturbed in a single layer for about 2 minutes.  You want to develop a nice, golden brown on the mushrooms and bring out the flavor.   Stir the mushrooms and sauté for another minute or two to cook through.  Add salt at the end to taste and, using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl.
Add another tablespoon or two of butter or olive oil to the pan.  Add shallots and jalapeno and a bit of salt to draw out the moisture.  When shallots are translucent (about 3 to 4 minutes), add corn kernels and tomatoes and toss to mix thoroughly.  I like to crank the heat up a bit here to develop a more roasted flavor to the corn, but be careful because the corn can start to pop a bit.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until corn is cooked through and tomatoes have puckered a bit.
Remove from the heat, toss back in the mushrooms, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and add some chopped cilantro, reserving some of the cilantro for garnish.  Spoon mixture into tortilla bowls and dollop farmer’s cheese or queso fresco to your heart’s content.  Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve warm or room temperature.
* * *
Colorado is an exceptionally beautiful place. We are fortunate to live about a two hour drive from Rocky Mountain National Park. I fell in love with our National Parks when my parents took me and my brother on a cross-country road trip. We were 11 and 10, respectively.  It was kind of Ken Burns meets National Lampoons Vacation. It was very memorable!
Since that trip almost, um, 25 years ago (eek!), I've been to Glacier, the obscure and kinda-hard-to-get-to Big Bend National in Texas, Everglades, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Painted Desserts,  Grand Tetons,  Olympic National and Mt. Rainier. For some reason the Rocky Mountains eluded me. Until now.  
I was thrilled when we decided to take an ambitious day trip to the park. For 'normal' people, a 4 hour round-trip expedition wouldn't be such a big deal.  But for us that is something exceptional since we have a 2 year old toddler and an 8 week old in tow. But we did it.    
The fall foliage was incredible. The Aspen trees were beautiful. And the Elk were mating so they were everywhere.  And I do mean EVERYWHERE.  They were on the highway, the golf course, in the park and by the river.  There were females, young calves and giant males with massive antlers. It was quite a show. As my husband and I were watching the herd cross in front of our car, Otis woke up from his afternoon slumber. He thought it was pretty strange to see the animals all over the road. With his eyes bulging he screamed out, "Moose!  Moose!" Close enough. We told him that they were Elk, he thought about it, and then he screamed, "Elk! Elk!" It was priceless. 
Below are a few shots from our outing...
From the car window...
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