Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
There are a few Chinese Restaurant standards that we expect to see on the menu of our favorite take-out place and General Tso's is certainly one of them. Despite the fact that it is not authentically Asian, the lightly crispy chunks of deep fried chicken coated in that beautifully sticky, equally sweet and spicy sauce, certainly makes it a favorite among restaurant goers. My sister had been studying the menu of a local Chinese food restaurant earlier in the day which enticed me to consider joining her from some take-out. I quickly reconsidered after realizing I already had on hand the ingredients to make my own Chinese food feast right in my own kitchen. I hopped on over to the computer and scanned some recipes for General Tso's chicken and was both relieved and excited that it definitely looked do-able. After reviewing the ingredients from several recipes and websites, I devised my own recipe which turned out fabulously....and no MSG headache!
I started by making the sauce by combining several tablespoons of tamari, a splash of white wine, a couple of tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, about 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of Asian chili garlic sauce, 1 large minced garlic clove, a small tablespoon of fresh grated ginger and a sprinkle of cornstarch, about 1 tablespoon. After stirring all the ingredients to combine and dissolve the sugar, I set it aside.
Several recipes I reviewed called for boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch cubes, which sounded great and I do love the idea of utilizing the dark meat, however, I had a bag full of individually packaged frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts which I decided to use instead. Actually, I think after trying the breast meat in this dish, I actually prefer it to the dark meat, but certainly feel free to use either.
I partially thawed a boneless skinless chicken breast so that it would be easier to cut and proceeded to cut it into 1 inch pieces. Meanwhile, in a bowl, I combined 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of cornstarch and whisked is really well to combine and remove any lumps. I added the chicken pieces to the egg mixture and made certain each piece was completed coated. Then, in my wok, I added enough canola oil to deep fry the chicken pieces and heated it to 350 degrees. I, carefully, added the coated chicken pieces to the hot oil and fried them for about 10 minutes or until they were just cooked through. I removed the crispy chicken pieces with slotted spoon or spider and placed them on a paper towel lined plate for just a minute.
Next, the tricky part! I only used 1 pan (mostly for my own ease of clean up afterwards) so I had to remove the hot oil before proceeding. I very carefully poured the hot oil into a large pyrex bowl, which was placed in the sink just in case it spilled, until it was cool (several hours later) and then transferred it to a zip lock bag and tossed into the garbage. You can certainly use two separate pans, one to do the deep frying and another to stir fry and finish the dish. In either case, please be very safe when handling hot oil!
Now, the fun part! I placed the wok over medium heat and poured in the sauce. After stirring it for just a minute to allow the garlic and ginger to cook a bit, I tumbled in the fried chicken and stirred well to coat each piece with the now thick and wonderfully sticky sauce. Serve immediately over fluffy white rice and steamed broccoli.
This is also my REAL FOOD entry in the Two for Tuesday blog hop carnival!
Monday, June 28, 2010
M is for Monday and Monday's were made for marketing! I have linked up with Trendy Tree house for Marketing Monday's Blog Hop. Do you have a website, Photography site, Etsy Store, Etc? If you do hop on over to The Trendy Tree house and link up your business.
Happy Monday....four more days until Follow Friday....
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Being born and raised right on the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore, MD means that you are genetically predisposed to engage in a lifelong love affair with seafood. My best memories of B'more (as it's affectionately known) are of those quintessential steamy summer Saturday afternoons spent in the back yard hunched over an old picnic table covered with yesterday's edition of the Baltimore Sun while bushels of live crabs, receiving an Old Bay steam bath, clang around inside an old stock pot and friends and neighbors mingle over icy cold Natty Boh (National Bohemian beer, hon).
Oh, how times change! Living in Northern Indiana for the past 5 years, the closest I ever get to salt water is when I am trying to soothe an irritated throat with a good gargle. Fortunately, the distance from my home on the east coast does not completely eliminate my chances of enjoying some other of the sea's bounties. I have grown to adore to the meaty consistency and mild sea-like flavor of fresh tuna. My favorite way to prepare tuna, until last night, was just seared on the outside, thinly sliced and served ice cold with traditional sushi accompaniments. Now, (though admittedly a late bloomer) I am tuna burger obsessed. It contains the best of two world. All of the elements of a succulent beef burger (except the cheese, that would be really gross!), and the fabulous flavors reminiscent of your favorite sushi bar.
Inspired by watching Rachael Ray (the self described queen of burgers) yesterday, here is my version of:
Panko and Black Sesame Seed Crusted Tuna Burgers
1 pound best quality tuna, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1 tablesspoon Asian chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons Tamari
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Mince the tuna either in a food processor or by hand and place in a large mixing bowl. Add green onions, chives, chili sauce, and tarami. Stir to combine. Form tuna mixture into patties (I made two 1/2 pound burger from 1 pound of tuna). On a plate, place the panko bread crumbs and the sesame seeds and combine. Press both sides of each burger into the bread crumbs. Fry until still pink in the center, about 2-3 minutes per side, in a preheat skillet over medium high heat with about 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Serve on a soft roll with crunchy iceburg lettuce, pickled ginger and wasabi mayonnaise.
1/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
Place mayonnaise and wasabi in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Adjust the hotness to your liking.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
When the Williams Sonoma catalogue arrives in the mail, I savor it and pour carefully over each page examining the contents while sipping my morning coffee and sulk about the fact the we do not have such a retail establishment in this area. One of my favorite luxury items, which is regularly included in the catalogue and has a permanent place on my "someday when I win the lottery" list, is an outdoor wood fired terra cotta oven. I dream of the European style Artisan breads I could bake, the kind with the thick blistered crust and perfectly chewey inside. Even more so, I long to recreate the authentic Italian pizzas with the thin crisp crust, tomatoes glistening with olive oil and luxuriously melted fresh mozzerella cheese, just like the ones I drool over on the travel channel (in another life I want to come back as Samantha Brown....love her!!). Until then my reality is the gas fueled Weber grill in the back yard. Good news is, as it turns out, the good 'ole Weber can crank out one fabulous knock off version (if I do say so myself).
If you visit me here on a regular basis you know that I have had a pretty standard pizza dough recipe that I have used for quite some time. However, desiring a crispier, lighter pizza crust, I began researching and came across this recipe from Chef Chris Bianco in "The Gourmet Cookbook" which claimed a resulting "thin, blistered crust that is crisp all across the bottom and chewy on the edges". It delivered, as promised, hands down the best pizza crust I have ever had, restaurant or home made.
Basic Pizza Dough adapted from a recipe by Chris Bianco in "The Gourmet Cookbook"
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups uncleached all-pupose flour, plus more for kneading and dredging
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes.
Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture, oil, and remaining 1/2 cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour (about 1/2 cup) so dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead dough on a dry surface with lightly floured hands (reflour hands when dough becomes too sticky) until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into 4 balls for individual pizzas and put on a lightly floured surface and generously dust with flour. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours.
To shape the dough for grilling, do not punch down dough. Carefully dredge 1 ball of dough in a bowl of flour to caot and transfer to a dry work surface. Holding one edge of dough in the air with both hands and letting the bottom touch work surface, carefully move hands around edge of dough (like turning a steering wheel), allowing the weigh of dough to stretch to roughly 4 inches. Transfer to a floured tray and work edges with fingers to get desired shape. Let side on tray for about 15 minutes and prepare per recipe.
No Cook Tomato Sauce
1 can San Marzano tomatoes (drained)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place drained tomatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until an even consistency is made. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
To grill the dough, brush one side with olive oil and place on a moderately hot grill with the oiled side down. Brush top side with olive oil. Cover the lid and let cook for about 3-5 minutes depending on the heat of the great. Turn with a spatula (surprisingly it will not stick and be very easy to turn) and top with tomato sauce and fresh mozzeralla cheese. Let cook for approximately 7-10 minutes or until crust is puffed and crunchy, cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Garnish with fresh torn basil and shaved parmesan.
Friday, June 25, 2010
This is my first week participating in the Follow Friday Social Parade and I am soooo excited. It's a terrific way to get introduced to new and wonderful blogs and follow them too.! Welcome to my new followers, I hope you come back to visit often and, please, comment anytime. I love conversations! I will visit everyone who jumps on board here and follow you too!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
This is sooo not what I had wanted for dinner last night. I had started the day with a measley breakfast and proceeded with a paupers lunch and, as the day faded, I was starving. As sometimes happens, however, it got to be late, too late really to fix anything substantial. Still, I had a hankering for something good (you know that feeling, when you want something good, but you don't know what it is). Then, as I was pondering the ways I could (for the third time this week) transform the leftover roasted chicken into some sort of healthy but satisfying, filling but not too substantial, culinary treasure, the tornado sirens started sounding in my neighborhood. I quickly turned on the tv to find that we were once again, for the second time in less than a week, in the bullseye of a line of severe thunderstorms. I really do not like severe thunderstorms and while I actually enjoy the rumble of thunder that comes with your run-of-the-mill summer storm, these are of the ferocious type where the sky turns blackish green and you can feel the change in pressure in your head. My stomach turns, ties up in knots and my heart starts to beat faster. The tv meteorologists make it sound as it the world may come to an end and, with sirens still blaring in the background, I decide to seek shelter in my closet. I sat perched on top of my collection of flip flops and waited, convinced that my house would crumble around me at any second. *Of note, I have been known to needlessly panic and, at times, be a touch more dramatic than necessary. The long and the short of this story is that the storm came and went, my house did not fall down around me and at 9:30pm I threw some lettuce, shredded chicken, onion, cheese and some dried cherries (for good measure) on a plate with some red wine vinegar and olive oil and called it dinner.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Whenever I cook any sort of whole roast, chicken, etc. I must get my mind around the fact that I will be eating it for the next couple of days. I try to come up with ideas that use the ingredient in a different way so that I don't get bored eating and you, the reader, does not tire of photos of the same meal three nights in a row. I reintroduced my previously BBQ Spice Rubbed Whole Oven Roasted Chicken as a filling in my favorite Chicken Enchilada recipe. It may not be the most beautiful Mexican meal ever assembled (the enchiladas sort of fell apart when I removed them from the baking dish) but, as my mom used to say, it's all going down the same way! The were delicious despite, or in spite of, their messiness. To get the recipe, please visit the Chicken Enchiladas entry from March 14.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Two for Tuesday's Oven Roasted BBQ Spice Rubbed Whole Chicken with Parsley and Dill Steamed New Potatoes
If you visited me last week for the "All American Apple Pie" entry, then you are familiar with the "Real Food Revolution". If not, by all means, have a look or hop over to see Girlichef, Health Food Lover, A Moderate Life, or BethStedman.com for all of the details! All blog entries will post to all four sites, so you are bound to meet other like minded real food peeps too!
My entry for this week's Two for Tuesday's Real Food Blog Carnival is this Oven Roasted BBQ Spice Rubbed Whole Chicken with Parsley and Dill Steamed New Potatoes. A very simple meal in it's preparation and in it's ingredients, but most times, as in this case, simple is best. The buttery textured, gently steamed, freshly picked new potatoes are brought to life with a lively last minute addition of torn parlsey and chopped dill. Similarly, a basic oven roasted chicken was easily transformed from boring and bland to a memorable meal with the addition of a home made BBQ spice rub.
Real food, made real easy, to taste real good!
Dill and Parsley Steamed New Potatoes
2 pounds red potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Into a large heavy bottomed dutch oven or sauce pot, place the potatoes, olive oil, butter and salt. Turn the burner to low, cover with a lid and let the potatoes cook for about 20-30 minutes. Shake the pot every so often so insure even cooking. When the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, turn off the heat, cover and let steam for 5-10 more minutes. Just before serving, toss with the chopped fresh herbs, a fresh sprinkle of coarse salt and grind of pepper.
Oven Roasted BBQ Spice Rubbed Whole Chicken
1 whole fresh, free-range, grain fed chicken (mine was 4.3 lbs)
1/4 cup BBQ Spice Rub (recipe to follow)
drizzle of canola oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Carefully, unwrap the chicken, remove the gizzard packet from the cavity and discard. Rinse the chicken with cold water inside and out and pat dry. Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish on top of a baking rack. Season liberally with the BBQ spice rub, massaging it into the chicken with a little bit of canola oil. Roast for approximately 1 hr. (depending on the size of the chicken) or until an instant read thermometer reaches 170 degrees when inserted into the thigh. Let rest for approximately 20 minutes before carving and enjoying!
BBQ Spice Rub
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon hickory smoked sea salt
1 teaspoon chile powder (mine is a combo. of ancho and chipotle)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspooon dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayanne pepper
In a mixing bowl add all ingredients and stir to combine. Spice rub can be stored in an airtight container for several months.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I can not believe I forgot to take a picture of the beautifully colorful, thirst quenching, end of the weekend, summer inspired Rose Sangria I made yesterday. It was sooooo delicious (a little bit dangerous) and, actually, much prettier than this burger. Though, I must admit, this burger is beautiful in its own beefy "in your face" sort of way.
The burger is 1/3 pound ground sirloin gently formed into a disc shaped patty slightly thinner in the center to reduce the hockey puck effect when it gets on the grill. Sirloin is generally not the first choice of burger eficionados because of its lack of fat which could result in a dry burger, but I do think it has a really nice flavor. Therefore, to combat any potential dryness, I added a small pat of butter to the center of the burger as moistness insurance. I grilled them over medium high heat for about 5 minutes per side and they were cooked 'well-done' but I am honestly afraid to eat rare ground beef anymore. The pat of butter provided the perfect amount of rich moistness without making the burger greasy. A really good tip which I recommend you try.
For the Sangria, the most important yet unphotographed part of this meal, I combined a bottle of dry French Rose wine with a shot or two of Grand Marnier, a few glugs of Brandy and some sliced limes, oranges, peaches and grapes along with their juice, in a large pitcher. When ready to serve, I filled a fish bowl sized wine glass with ice and some of the fruit slices from the pitcher and filled the glass about 1/2 full with Sangria. I topped it off with some club soda for fizziness and enjoyed...several times!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Last night I said that I was glad I had some of the grilled vegetable salad left over because it would be so much more flavorful after it marinated over night. Oh my goodness, I was so right. This salad was perfectly delicious the night I made it, but after the flavors of the grilled vegetables and the capers, garlic and anchovies in the vinaigrette mingled with eachother it was out of this world. I decided to thinly slice up the left over rib eye steak and spoon over some of those zesty peppers and onions for an instant steak sandwich. After topping it with Guggisberg baby swiss cheese, I popped it in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melted and the sandwich was heated through. Yum!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Just as I was getting ready to put my steak and vegetables on the grill last night, obviously oblivious to the developing weather situation, I turned on the t.v. to find an enourmous and daunting line of severe thunderstorms heading my way. Since the grill was already preheated, I tried to weather the weather and cook my dinner despite the hurricane force winds. After the neighbor's gigantic and cumbersome red umbrella was hoisted by the wind into my yard, almost impailing me, I decided to remove my half cooked dinner and finish it indoors. Bummer :(
By the time I preheated the oven and tried to keep my steak warm while I finished the rest of the meal, I overcooked it just a bit. It was still tasty and quite tender nonetheless. The vegetables including zucchini, yellow and orange pepper, and spring onions were actually cooked perfectly. I sliced them and placed them in a bowl to be tossed with a vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, chopped capers, minced anchovies and salt and pepper. A good sized handful of chopped fresh parsley brightened the salad just perfectly. It was delicious but, fortunately, I have plenty leftover because I am sure this vegetable salad will be even more flavorful after marinating overnight.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I believe, in the almost six months that I have been writing this year long journal of what I have for dinner, that this is the first time I actually ate at a restaurant. For sure, I have had a few Papa Murphy's pizzas, but that's carry out so I am not counting it as actually eating at a restaurant. Anyway, it was the first time all of the Ricks' ladies enjoyed an evening out together! The attendees were my mom (Nan, the matriarch), Jen (my sister-in-law), Allison (my younger sister), Sophia (Jen's daughter and my oldest niece), Zoe (Jen's youngest daughter my other niece) and me (of course).
No actual occassion was being celebrated other than Sophia's first ballet class which was, indeed, cause for great excitement. So, since Dave (my brother) was out of town, we decided it was the perfect opportunity. Gino's East of Chicago is a rather new restaurant in our area famous for its deep dish pizza in Chicago. It was a really beautiful evening and they have outdoor seating available which also made it an attractive choice. We did not opt for the deep dish, however, as we prefer thin crust and it would take 1 1/2 to bake. Too long to guarantee Sophie and Zoe's happiness would last. Thin crust took much less time to prepare and while we waited we enjoyed family style tossed salad and some spinach and artichoke dip. While, to be honestly, I can't say that I particularly enjoyed the food, average at best, but we sure did have a great time! Hopefully, Ricks' ladies night will be a regular on the family schedule.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
This is a really great and super simple recipe to satisfy your Mexican craving in a more healthy way. I actually came up with this dinner because I did not have time (or more accurately, the energy) to make a different version of this dish which bakes in the oven for about 20-30 minutes and is smothered in much more melted cheese. This is more of an instant gratification layered taco casserole, but with a fresh avocado salsa which makes it a salad...right? It is also great because instead of a giant casserole, this can easily be made in individual portions.
I started by browning 1 pound of ground round beef and draining off the excess fat. To flavor the meat, I added a variety of chili powders including chipotle, ancho and pasilla as well as cumin, coriander, mexican oregano, garlic powder and salt and pepper. A tablespoon or two of ketchup and about 3/4 cup of water made a spicy taco sauce for the beef to simmer in for about 15 minutes. Once the sauce has reduced enough so that the taco meat is thick it is ready.
The hot beans and ground beef needed a little fresh salsa to liven them up. So, I chopped 1 beautifully ripe tomato and added that to a mixing bowl with chopped onion, halved plump black olives, chopped avocado, pickled jalapeno slices, chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of cumin and healthy sprinkle of coarse salt. Stir to combine and let sit for just a minute before eating.
Into my little cute shallow bowl (which is actually the base of tiny, tiny tagine) I added a couple of spoonfuls of heated refried beans and topped with the taco meat, monterey jack cheese and a big spoonful of the fresh avocado salsa. A dollop of sour cream finished it off perfectly. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips and plenty of hot sauce.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Last night's dinner was a little Asian themed spread that I helped one of my clients prepare. In addition to our take on Moo Shu Chicken, we also made some delectable Asian BBQ Shrimp Skewers and Citrus, Honey, Soy Baked Tilapia with Brown Rice. All of which was gobbled up before I could get a photo. If you are wanting to add some Asian flavors to easy weeknight meals, these dishes are great place to start. Give them a try!
A bit unorthodox for sure, but we wanted to brush up on the techniques for grilling boneless, skinless chicken breast so this Moo Shu Chicken started with grilled chicken seasoned with salt and pepper and a bit of canola oil. We grilled the chicken over medium heat so as not to develop too much color but to ensure they were thoroughly cooked. After letting the chicken breasts cool until easily handled, we shredded the chicken into bite size pieces. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet over high heat we stir fried 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1/2 bag of broccoli slaw and 1/2 bag of cabbage slaw for about 1 minutes. Then, we added the shredded chicken, tossed well to combine and added sliced green onions, soy sauce, fresh squeezed lime juice and a drizzle of Hoisin sauce. The chicken was already cooked through, so just a minute or two in the skillet to heat through and incorporate the flavors. As a substitute for the traditional pancakes, we used a very, very thin flour tortilla (Azteca brand) which we heated until pliable, added a spoonful of Hoisin sauce and topped with the chicken and slaw mixture. A little garnish of chopped green onion and it was a very tasty and healthy home cooked version of a Chinese restaurant favorite.
I mentioned by current seasonal obsession with snow peas and sugar snap peas in a post earlier this month. I love the crunchy sweet freshness of these peas and they are particularly delicious when enhanced with just a touch of sesame oil. To prepare these beautiful sugar snap peas, we heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon canola oil and tossed in the peas, which had already had that inconvenient little string removed, and stir fried them for a minute or two. Then we added a dash of soy sauce and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. A really perfect celebration of Spring freshness!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Instead of "Amy's Dinner", today's entry is all about Real Food and the Two for Tuesday blog hop recipe carnival. If you are wondering what in the world I am talking about, jump on over to girlichef, health food lover, or Beth Stedman where you can find out all about it! You will also get introduced to some other really great food blogs as well!!
Lately, I have been obsessed with pie. Not just any pie, but fruit pies in particular. I think it is because it seems that no one makes pies filled with actual fruit anymore. Maybe it is a regional phenomenon but that really would not make sense because the midwest grows outstanding fruits including world class apples, blueberries and strawberries. However, the truth is, everytime I order pie in any form be it fried, hand, whole or sliced it is filled with some gelatinous material that has nothing to do with fruit. Additionally, while I don't necessarily have anything against shortbread crust, shortbread is actually my favorite cookie, it seems that is has taken over as the crust of choice and the art making a flaky pastry pie crust is slipping from tradition.
I am on a quest to bring back the pie of yesteryear complete with buttery, flaky, savory home made crust lovingly filled with fresh picked, hand peeled and sliced fruit thickened with flour and sweetened with sugar! Here is my contribution to the Real Food Revolution...All American Apple Pie!
Flaky Pie Crust
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 sticks butter (cut in 1/2 inch pieces and placed in the freezer)
7 tablespoons ice water (more or less as needed depending on flour, weather, humidity, etc.)
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse just until the dry ingredients are combined. Next, add the frozen cubes of butter and pulse the food processor very quickly until the mixture has various sized pieces of butter. Add the ice water and pulse quickly to combine the water, butter and flour mixture. Process just until the dough starts to come together. It will still appear to be crumbly but will hold it's shape when pressed together. Turn the dough on onto a board and kneed just until it comes together. Cut in half, press into a disc form and wrap in plastic wrap. Store the two dough halves in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but overnight is preferred. Remove the dough from the refrigerator approximately 10 minutes prior to rolling.
Double Crust All American Apple Pie
3 pounds locally grown Apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (I used Jonagold from Michigan)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
In a large bowl combine apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Roll out the bottom pie crust to 12 inches round and place in the bottom of a pie pan. Turn the apple mixture out into the pie plate and dot with the small cubes of butter. Roll out the top pie crust and place on top of the pie. Trim edges to 1 inch, pinch together and turn them under. Crimp edges all the way around the pie. Cut several slits in the top of the pie to allow the steam to escape and refrigerate for about 20 minutes before baking.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pie from refrigerator and brush the crust with an egg and cream wash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 70-80 minutes. Cool completely before slicing and serving.
Monday, June 14, 2010
It was back to Sunday dinner as usual at Nan's after she enjoyed a few weeks off from hosting the family at her house. She prepared us one of our family favorites, pulled pork sandwiches, but she also tried out a new recipe for BBQ sauce which was the best ever! It was a recipe called "Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce" from Bobby and Jamie Deen's magazine "The Deen Brother's Good Cooking - Easy Summer Recipes". Our family, over the years, has tested out gallons of different sauces, some that have a million ingredients, other with just two or three, we have long cooked it and not heated it at all. Still we never found one we all really loved...until now! This was the perfect sauce for pulled pork with just enough smokey flavor and sweetness to cut through and enhance the richness of the pork.
Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce by Bobby and Jamie Deen
1 1/2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
Combine all in a large bowl. Store in refrigerator until ready for use.
To make the actual pork part of the pulled pork sandwiches, Nan rubbed a pork butt with Famous Dave's pork rub and chipotle chili powder. She let it marinate in the refrigerator over night and then cooked in a crock pot for about 9 hours on low. After letting it cool she shredded it with a fork and mixed it with the Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce.
In my opinion, you have got to have slaw with pulled pork. I am particularly fond of this Sweet and Sour Cole Slaw recipe because it is cold and crisp and it goes so well with the flavors of the pork. Combine 1 1/2 bags of prepared cabbage with carrots with 1 small diced onion, 1/2 cup canola oil, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (which Nan leaves out because I despise celery seed), 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well and refrigerate over night for best flavor.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
French Bistro Fare: Filet of Beef Au Poivre, Mixed Baby Greens with Mustard Vinaigrette and Warm Goat Cheese Crouton
I had a dream early Saturday morning that I got off a plane and was in Paris! Not Paris, Indiana but Paris, France. I was so excited, I started running down the Champs Elysees exclaiming at the top of my lungs with the most awkward French accent, "I'm in Paris, I'm in Paris!" When I awoke from this wonderful dream, I was obviously disappointed that it was, in fact, just a dream, but the joyous feeling lingered. So, I decided that if I could not be in Paris for real, I would at least attempt some French Bistro food in my own kitchen, complete with French music and a glass (or two) of a perfect Bordeaux.
I started this version of Filet of Beef Au Poivre by drying the steaks and tieing a string about the middle of the steak just so that it keeps it's shape. Next, I cracked a handful of black peppercorns and pressed them into each side of the steak with little French sea salt. I let them sit for about 10 minutes for the flavors of the peppercorns to get into the meat. Next, I preheated a skillet over medium high heat with a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. I seared the meat in the pan and let it cook for about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. I let the meat rest, tented with foil for a minute while I made the sauce.
I poured out all the fat except for about 1 tablespoon and added 1/3 cup of Cognac. Off the heat, I lit the liquor, stepped back and let it burn itself out after just a minute. Then, I added about 3/4 cup of heavy cream and, over medium heat, let the sauce reduce until it was thick. I added 1 tablespoon of Cognac to the pan, a bit of salt, some cracked black pepper and returned the steak to the pan for just a minute. Plated the steak and poured over some of the remaining sauce.
The salad was simple mixed baby greens dressed lightly with a mustard vinaigrette made with Dijon mustard, honey, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. The greens and the vinaigrette cut through the richness of the beef dish perfectly. A lovely way to end my make believe I'm in Paris day. Maybe...hopefully, someday I'll get there for real!!!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Ok, so I realize it may seem as if I have eaten tacos for dinner everynight this week, practically. You know it is my favorite thing on earth to consume!!! But, I had dinner at Mom's last night and she really wanted fish tacos, one of her favorites. So, being the good daughter, I obliged. However, by the time we finished shopping all afternoon, it was late as usual, so we took the easy way out and bought a Sam's Club rotisserie chicken. Instead of fish tacos, we had chicken tostados. Nan even took a step outside her comfort zone and made some fresh salsa. Since she really liked the idea of the mango chipotle version I made just the other night, that's what she made. It was outstanding! I must admit, there is something so great about eating someone elses food. For some reason it tastes so much better than eating your own. If you would like the salsa recipe, please click here for Thursday's posting which you provide complete instructions.
To assemble the tostados we simply heated the crunchy corn tortillas according to the package instructions and topped them with guacamole, shredded chicken, a cheddar cheese, mango chipotle salsa, jalapeno slices and sour cream.
Friday, June 11, 2010
One of my favorite ways to incorporate the fabulous Sammie tomato into my summer meals, which just appeared for the first time this season at Sweet Corn Charlie's Produce, is bruschetta. A chopped relish of sorts which includes tomato, garlic, onion, basil and olive oil served over grilled bread. It dawned on me, that if the tomato concoction is so delicious on bread, that it must be even better over pasta. It was and the best part, besides the pasta, there was no cooking involved. Perfect for those hot upcoming summer nights.
Prepare the tomato mixture about 1-2 hours before dinner to allow the flavors to come together. In addition to the tomato, onion, garlic, basil, salt, and olive oil, I also added just a touch of balsamic vinegar. Cook the pasta according the directions and, meanwhile grill the shrimp which was coated in a little chopped garlic, lemon juice, hot pepper flakes and olive oil. Make sure to grill some lemons halves to drizzle over the shrimp while still hot.
When the pasta has been cooked to al dente, drain and turn immediately in a large bowl. Top with the tomato mixture and toss well to combine. Serve with grilled shrimp and french bread.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
How quickly taco night rolls around! I swear, I could eat tacos and salsa every single night of my life and never, ever tire of either of them. I do think that the pork taco is my favorite, though. I made a slow roasted pork butt a while back and froze quite a bit in individual servings for just such an occassion. Sometimes it seems like kind of a hassle to package up leftovers into single serving portions and freeze them for later, but it is really worth it! All I had to do was remove a container of the pork from the freezer and pop it in the microwave for a minute or two to thaw. If you want to know how I prepared the pork roast from the beginning, just do a quick search through some of my previous postings about 6-8 weeks ago you will find it.
To prepare the salsa, I quartered my very favorite Sammie tomato from Charlie' Sweet Corn produce stand and tossed it into a food processor with some onion, garlic, fresh cilantro, a chipotle pepper, a small mango, lime juice and salt and pepper. I pulsed it until it reached the consistency I was looking for and, I'm telling you, if you like salsa, this is so delicious and goof proof.
To assemble the taco, I heated the shredded pork in a skillet over medium heat with a little oil. I added some chili poweders, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and about 1/4 cup of water. I simmered it until it was heat through. The flour tortillas were heated directly over my gas stovetop flame until heated and little charred and then topped with the pork, sliced onion, mango chipotle salsa, monterey/cheddar cheese, lime and a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro were the finishing touches.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I just realized this year that I am wild about peas in a pod! Snow peas and sugar nap peas. They have the most delicious delicate yet sweet flavor and the most wonderful crunch. They require and, in fact, are at their best with little preparation and hardly any cooking time at all. Here I have lived all these years and never knew what a treat Spring peas were. Now that I know and am sharing my discovery, go get some and make them immediately!
This may possibly be the easiest and fastest stir fry ever. I poached a boneless skinless chicken breast early in the day and chilled it out in the refrigerator until it was time for dinner. When it was time for the stir fry, I cut the chicken breast into strips. As the fry pan was heating with a tablespoon of canola oil, I chopped a little onion, washed my peas and made a sauce of garlic, ginger, soy sauce, asian chili sauce, rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil. I stir fried the onions for just a minute until they were translucent, added the peas and tossed them in the pan for about 30 seconds. Then, in with the chicken just long enough to heat through or another 30 seconds or so. Finally, I poured in the sauce, stirred it all to combine and turned off the heat. I tumbled the perfectly cooked still crunchy peas and chicken over a bed of fluffy white rice and I had an incredibly quick, delicious and healthy Springtime meal.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Yesterday was one of those perfect days that, when I was young, would prompt my mother to say "what is so rare as a day in June". A crisp clear robin's egg blue sky, a bright shiny sparkling sun and the most perfectly dry 68 degrees. Not wanting a day like that to go by without taking the time to step out into and express thanks for that beautiful sunshine, I decided to pack a lunch and head out to Shipshewana, IN. For those outside of our neck of the woods here in Northern Indiana, Shipshewana is our Amish Country. Miles of countryside, beautiful farmland and, since it's Spring, adorable baby animals. The downtown area is especially cozy with several blocks of quaint smalltown shops showcasing local artisans.
My Shipshe shopping partner is usually my mother, but she recently expressed that she is experiencing Amish overload, so this trip was a solo venture. I, therefore, took this opportunity to patronize every one of dozens of shops off of our "normal" route. When finally I finished shopping after five hours, I was pooped, starving and lacking the energy or motivation to prepare anything extravagant for dinner. However, as I was driving through Middlebury, to my delight I found my favorite produce stand, Sweet Corn Charlie's, to be open and selling the coveted Sammie's Tomato. I wait all year for and have stopped growing my own tomatoes because Sammie's Tomatoes are so perfect in every way. So, in an effort to prepare a quick, filling, tasty meal, during which I could also enjoy my first Sammie of the season, I decided on a Sloppy Joe Sammie with a Sammie on top.
I started this Blue Plate Sloppy Joe by sauteing onion, yellow bell pepper and garlic in a large skillet for about 5 minutes or until translucent. I add 1/2 pound of ground beef and cooked it, incorporating the peppers and onions, until it was no longer pink. Next, I added about 1/4 cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and salt and pepper. Stir all to combine and let simmer of low heat for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is thick and most of the liquid has evaporated.
I served mine like I have been eating it for years, since I was a kid. I do not know if it sounds weird, but it is delicious. A soft roll (I bought hamburger buns from Das Essenhaus yesterday) with mayonnaise, a piece of American cheese, a generous mound of sloppy joe, thinly sliced onion, a few pickled jalapenos and thick sliced tomato. A testimant to good old fashioned Blue Plate Specials!
Monday, June 7, 2010
I am completely powerless against the temptress (make that temptor) that is a chicken wing. Especially one with perfect combination of sweet, sticky, spicy, and saucey! Even better is that this one could almost be considered healthy since chicken is grilled and not fried. Healthy, as long as you ignore the stick of butter used for the sauce (not really, it was just 1/2 stick).
I grilled the chicken wings, which were seasoned with just salt and pepper and a little oil to prevent sticking, over indirect heat for about 20 minutes until they were crispy and cooked through.
While the chicken pieces were grilling I made the sauce by heating 1/2 bottle of Louisiana hot sauce, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, about 1 tablespoon of bottled BBQ sauce and 2 tablespoons of honey. I let the sauce simmer until it reduced just a little and thickened a bit. When the chicken pieces were off the grill and ready for the sauce, I added 1/2 stick of butter to the hot sauce mixture off the heat (very important that it is off the heat, otherwise, the sauce could break and become a greasy mess) and wisked well to combine. Then, I poured the sauce over the hot chicken wings and tossed all together. Make sure you have plenty of paper towels. Yum!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
The first pieces of fresh sweet corn have started appearing in the grocery store and, this year, instead of corn on the cob everynight, I am determined to try other ways to incorporate it into dinner. I am hoping the possibilities are endless because, living in Northern Indiana, goodness knows the supply of sweet corn is!
I started by getting a skirt steak marinating earlier in the day. I combined 1 minced clove of garlic with cumin, coriander, a variety of chili powders, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and just enough canola oil to form a paste. After liberally applying the marinade paste, I refrigerated the steak for about 3 hours. I removed the steak from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before grilling to allow the meat to come to room temperature. I preheated the grill and grilled the steak over high heat for about 4 minutes per side. When the steak had rested for about 15-20 minutes, I sliced it thinly against the grain. Skirt steak, like flank steak should be sliced against the grain, otherwise, it may be tough.
I made my very favorite guacamole recipe which includes 1 avocado, small diced onion, fresh cilantro, 1 finely diced serrano pepper, lime juice and salt. I also had one of the those little miniature mangoes and decided to through that in as well. The sweet mango was an excellent addition to the creamy avocado and the fiery chilis. A great alternative to the standard guacamole.
To make roasted corn and black bean relish, I roasted 1 ear of corn and two jalapeno peppers over an open flame until they were charred and tender. I cut the corn kernels from the corn and added it to a large mixing bowl with the peeled roasted and chopped jalapeno peppers, diced onion, diced and seeded tomato, 1 can of black beans which had been rinsed, fresh chopped cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. After tossing to combine, I let the it sit a room temperature for about an hour to let the flavors mingle. The roasted corn was delightfully sweet and played perfectly against the fiery roasted jalapeno peppers.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
That fact that it was Friday night was an excellent excuse, as far as I'm concerned, for taking a tiny cooking vacation and getting take-out pizza instead...well, in this case, take-out/bake-in Papa Murphy's pizza. To make this meal as simple as possible, we were taking a kitchen time-out after all, a lopped off wedge of iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island dressing was a delightful change from the usual tossed salad. Just to keep myself in culinary check, however, I must confess that the salad dressing was not from a bottle. When it is so easy, much healthier and infinately more delicious to put together a quick creamy or vinaigrette dressing at home, I just can not justify the stuff out of the bottle.
To make this tasty Thousand Island dressing combine the following: 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 2 tablespoon sweet pickle relish, 1 tablespoon minced onion, dash Worcestershire sauce, dash hot sauce, sprinkle of garlic powder and salt and pepper. Prepare the dressing about 15-30 min. before dinner to allow the flavors time to mingle. Also, a fabulous onion ring or french fry dipping sauce, particularly if you add a tablespoon or two of horseradish!