Folks in Hatch, New Mexico, home of the famous Hatch green chile peppers and the annual festival that celebrates them, might not give first prize to my New Englander's version of a green chile cheeseburger, but the rest of you will swoon. For my husband Ted, and for Chelsea, my summer intern, and for me, it was love at first bite -- love at every juicy bite. I mix two pantry staples, canned fire-roasted chiles (from the supermarket) and shredded cheese, in with the beef, which keeps it moist. Then, I kick things up with a slightly-spicy slather on the bun, and a slice of melted pepper jack cheese on top. If any of my friends who've recently moved to New Mexico are reading this, how about a trade: this amazing recipe for a few cans of Hatch chiles? You know where I live.
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When I first started cooking with Chelsea, my summer intern, I asked her what she'd like to learn to make, and what ideas of her own she'd like to test. This watermelon, feta and arugula salad was the first dish she mentioned; the taste of a sample at a grocery store had stayed with her, and she wanted to recreate it. While it was easy to remember the salad components, the dressing posed a mystery, so we decided to create our own using a navel orange, a mint leaf, and pantry staples. The counterplay of the tart orange dressing against the sweet watermelon made us happy, and though I'm not a huge fan of arugula, I loved its peppery contribution to this salad. If this is what college students are cooking, I'm going back to school.
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Some people really don't get the point of savory muffins. After all, most of the time, something shaped like a muffin is sweet, but savory muffins make a nice change from something more loaf-like: an attractive presentation, and built-in portion control. Unless, of course, you have more than one, which you just might be tempted to do when you taste these white corn and green chile cheese muffins. It took me a couple of tries to get the recipe just right. I wanted to use Rhode Island jonnycake meal, a fluffy, fine-ground white cornmeal that we use to make our local specialty, but you can substitute yellow cornmeal if that's easier to find in your part of the world. These muffins paired perfectly with grilled skirt steak marinated in chipotle barbecue sauce made by fellow Rhode Island blogger Just One Donna.
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The older I get, the more I understand the importance of breakfast. Eating first thing in the morning never has come naturally to me; when I was younger, I seldom ate before noon, and even now, I usually need to work for a few hours before I can face anything more substantial than coffee. Egg and cheese breakfast muffins, made ahead and stored in the refrigerator, give me the protein boost that sees me through the day. And, like quiche or frittata, these muffins taste delicious with any mix-ins: green chiles, slow-roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh herbs, smoked salmon or bacon or turkey sausage. Raid the fridge and have fun. Some day, I might learn to love breakfast. After all, I already love breakfast muffins.
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