Monday, December 21, 2020

"Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise"

No Retro Christmas would be complete without Jello! Jello was invented by Pearle Wait in 1897 in Le Roy, New York. Wait, who was experimenting with combining a cough remedy, a laxative tea, and gelatin, came up with a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named "Jell-O." Lacking the capital and expertise to market his creation, Wait sold his formula to Orator Frank Woodward, a successful medicinal manufacturer and proprietor, for $450 in 1899. After sales were slow and disheartening, Woodward sold the "blankety-blank business" for $35 to Sam Nico. In 1900, The Genesee Pure Food Company launched a very successful marketing campaign that resulted in $250,000 sales in 1902. In 1904, the Jell-O "best seller" recipes rolled off the presses with 15 million booklets distributed, and the rest is history!

At the tail end of the 19th century, the "domestic science/home economics" movement had taken hold of the Victorians, in which they became obsessed with control. The idea of a tossed salad with mixed greens made them cringe, for it was "messy"! Oh my! Instead, they preferred an "orderly presentation," in which ingredients were painstakingly separated, organized, and presented. Thus molded gelatin (Jell-O) salads were born. They put everything in gelatin, from fruit and nuts to mayonnaise and tuna! It was so prevalent, that Pulitzer Prize winning composer William Bolcom composed the novelty song "Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise" for his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. Bolcom based the song on his experiences playing the piano for women's clubs in his youth, after being fed absurd and unappetizing concoctions, including jello salads. Be warned: This video may induce dry heaving!



Don't worry, this fabulous recipe, which I nicked from my equally fabulous mother-in-law, for "Seven Layer Jello" is neither absurd nor unappetizing! Not only does it look like a beautiful present on your plate, it tastes light and refreshing, and is a MUST for any retro Christmas! Everyone loves it! Honestly, along with Meringue MushroomsPeppermint Bark, and Lacy Nut Cookies, I make this every year and it just wouldn't be Christmas without it! This recipe does require time to allow each layer to set, so plan accordingly! For a chic adults only gelatin dessert, see Wine Jelly with Grapes!


Seven Layer Jello

Makes one 9"x13" pan.

Ingredients:
4, 3 ounce packages Jell-O (lime, lemon, orange, and cherry)
2 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1 pint sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups scalded milk, cooled
1 cup sugar

Directions:
Lightly oil a glass Pyrex 9"x13" pan. Dissolve the lime jello in 1 cup boiling water, stir. When dissolved add 1/2 cup cold water. Carefully pour into the oiled dish, carefully place in the refrigerator to set.

Meanwhile, bring the 2 cups of milk to boiling. Add the 1 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. 

Dissolve the 2 envelopes of Knox gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. Let stand 2 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture to the milk/sugar mixture.

Mix the vanilla extract in 1 pint sour cream. Add to the gelatin/milk/sugar mixture. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended. (I actually just whisk it very well until very smooth.) This is your "white" mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature. Do not refrigerate!*

At this point, the lime jello should be set, you will know it is set when it's "sticky" to the touch. Measure 1 1/2 cups of white mixture and carefully spoon or gently ladle over the lime layer. Gently tilt the pan from side to side to spread the mixture evenly over the lime layer. Carefully place in the refrigerator to set.


Next, dissolve the lemon jello in 1 cup boiling water, stir. When dissolved add 1/2 cup cold water. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature. When the first white layer is set, carefully spoon or gently ladle the lemon layer over the white layer. Gently tilt the pan from side to side to spread the mixture evenly over the white layer. Carefully place in the refrigerator to set.

When the lemon layer is set, stir the white mixture, measure 1 1/2 cups white mixture, spoon on lemon layer, tilting as before. Refrigerate to set.

Repeat each layer as directed above, using orange, then the last 1 1/2 cups white mixture, and finally the red mixture.

When done, allow the mold to set overnight. To serve, cut into squares. To store, refrigerate covered with plastic wrap. Keeps fresh for several days.

*If you must refrigerate the white mixture and it sets up, gently reheat in microwave about 10 seconds at a time, stirring each time until smooth. Don't let it get hot or it will melt into the other layers!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Flagon of Seasonal Stimulation? and a Holiday Ham!



Continuing my week of vintage recipes, perfect for a Retro Christmas, I want to share this incredibly easy and surprisingly delicious recipe for "Monte's Ham." After all, what could be more elegant than a glazed ham studded with cloves? (Beats a turkey carcass any day!) In fact, archaeologists believe that the early settlers of Jamestown raised swine, and to this day, a large ham, not a turkey, is the preferred centerpiece of Christmas dinner in the U.S.! I made this recipe on a whim and absolutely love it! The instructions made me laugh: "Buy the cheapest ham possible, glaze the hell out of it, and cook it for a long time." The result is fantastic, positively dreamy!


Monte's Ham

Serves a crowd!


Ingredients:


1, 15-pound smoked bone-in ham (I use boneless because it carves nicer.)*
1 1/2 cups orange marmalade
1 cup Dijon mustard (I like Grey Poupon.)
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 rounded tablespoon whole cloves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and set a rack in the lower-middle level.

Cut off and discard the tough outer skin and excess fat from the ham. Put it in a large roasting pan and, with a long sharp knife, score it, making crosshatch incisions about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart all over the ham.

Roast for 2 hours. Remove the ham from the oven and increase the heat to 350 degrees.

For the glaze, stir together the marmalade, mustard, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Stud the ham with the cloves, inserting them at the points where the cuts intersect. Brush the entire surface of the ham generously with half of the glaze and return to the oven.

Cook for another 1 1/2 hours, brushing on the remaining glaze at least 3 times. Transfer to a cutting board or platter and let rest for about 30 minutes.

Carve the ham and serve warm or at room temperature.

*If using half a 15 pound bone-in ham (7-8 pounds), halve the glazing ingredients and cook for half the time.

Recipe courtesy of Saveur Cooks Authentic American, submitted by Monte Williams.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Retro Christmas

Even though I would love to spend time with distant family and friends, I am happy to embrace a low-stress holiday with my husband and two kids, no travel, no trying to hide "secret" gifts in your trunk, no forgetting something, it can be a real nightmare!!! So you get to stay home and begin the cheer? The best way to ensure a fun filled holiday is to go retro! These vintage recipes make things fun and easy, like mock-Polynesian "Rumaki" (a true cocktail classic), marmalade glazed ham studded with cloves, and I would be remiss not to include a spectacular jello dessert! So put up your tinsel trees, dust off those bubble lights, and get the cocktails flowing! 


Rumaki

Makes about 20

Ingredients:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1, 8 ounce can whole water chestnuts, drained
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/8 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 pound bacon, preferably center cut

Directions:


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a shallow glass or ceramic dish, combine the soy sauce, ground ginger and curry powder (if using), add the water chestnuts and allow to macerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

In another shallow dish, combine the brown sugar and the mustard, mixing well. Cut the bacon into 4-inch strips and dredge in the sugar mixture.

Drain the water chestnuts and wrap a strip of bacon around each. Place the wrapped water chestnuts on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. 


Bake for 20-35 minutes (depending on the thickness of the bacon you use), or until the bacon is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and insert a toothpick into each water chestnut. Place on a serving platter and pass hot.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Italian Thanksgiving for 8

If you've ever made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you know it's a lot of work. And if you only have one oven, as I do, it really creates a challenge timing everything perfectly. Add relatives and it's enough to bring tears! But guess what? You don't have to roast a whole turkey, when you can make "Turkey Osso Bucco". I know traditional osso bucco uses veal shanks, but it is a wonderful method of preparing turkey, as well. The turkey is braised with vegetables, fresh herbs, wine, and stock, then topped off with an aromatic gremolata. Trust me, this recipe tastes as good as your house will smell! No one will miss the often bland roast turkey! To make it a complete holiday meal, I would start with an antipasto platter, then serve it with a simple green salad, risotto or polenta, or even mashed potatoes, and plenty of crusty bread to mop up the amazing sauce! Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc would compliment it nicely. End it with a slice of pumpkin pie and you'll have a unique and memorable Thanksgiving, with a lot less trouble!


Turkey Osso Bucco

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 half-breast of turkey, cut into 4 pieces (ask your butcher)
2 turkey thighs (or 6 thighs, if you don't want to use the turkey breast, thighs will ensure it is moist and flavorful)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3-1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
Canola oil, enough to coat the bottom of your pan
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 generous tablespoon tomato paste (I buy Amore Tomato Paste in a tube - great invention!)
1 cup dry white wine (I use Madiera - I love it with turkey and think it adds better flavor than white wine)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or less depending on the size of your pan, see below)
1 large fresh rosemary sprig
2 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves

Gremolata
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pat the turkey pieces dry with paper towels to ensure even browning. Season the turkey with salt and pepper, then dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.

In a heavy roasting pan or any oven-safe pan large enough to fit the turkey pieces in a single layer, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, over medium/medium-high heat. Add the turkey and brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and reserve.

To the same pan, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season the vegetables with salt and cook until they are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Return the turkey to the pan. Add enough chicken broth to come two thirds up the sides of the turkey pieces. Add the herb sprigs, bay leaves, and cloves to the pan. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan with lid (if it has one) or cover tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Braise until the turkey is fork tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes, turning after 1 hour.

When the turkey is almost done, combine the gremolata ingredients in a bowl with fingers. Slice the turkey (it's so tender, it usually falls off in pieces) and arrange in shallow serving bowls. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper (go very light on the salt, because the gremolata is salty), and ladle some over each serving. Sprinkle each serving with a large pinch of gremolata.

Recipe adapted from Giada's Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

A Tin Pot, a Coffee Sack, and a Bag of Seeds

John Chapman was born in Massachusetts in 1774. He served in the Continental Army under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. After ending his military service, he apprenticed at a nursery in Pennsylvania, where he would pick apple seeds from the pomace produced by a local cider mill. While apples grown from seed are most likely too unpalatable to eat, they are perfect to make cider. John realized a great opportunity. He packed up his seeds and headed west in a hollowed out log, barefoot, donning his tin pot on his head, and wearing a coffee sack as a shirt! He would stop along uninhabited places along the river banks, plant some of the seeds, and hire a local boy to maintain and sell the trees to future new settlers, who no doubt would be eager for some hard cider! John, who became known as "Johnny Appleseed," would then travel further west, planting his apple nurseries along the way. 

In addition to his love of apples, John was a missionary for The New Church. He would offer to tell stories and read the church doctrine in exchange for a place to sleep, if the weather dictated. According to The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan (one of my favorite books ever!), John preferred the company of children and Native Americans. In fact, it is rumored that he'd once been engaged to marry a ten-year-old girl, but she broke his heart. (Creepy!) According to Robert Price, who wrote a biography about John in 1954, he "had the thick bark of queerness on him." And finally from Pollan, "By the 1830s, John was operating a chain of nurseries that reached all the way from western Pennsylvania through central Ohio and into Indiana. It was in Fort Wayne that Chapman died in 1845-wearing the infamous coffee sack, some say, yet leaving an estate that included some 1,200 acres of prime real estate. The barefoot crank died a wealthy man."

So in honor of John's apples, and the fact that apple cider is now available in stores, I want to share this wonderful recipe for "Cider and Sage Pork!" Not only is this recipe quite delicious, it's easy and quick! Basically, you slice a pork tenderloin into medallions, sear them, set them aside, and make a sauce of shallots, sage, sherry vinegar, mustard, apple cider, and a splash of cream, all in the same pan! Done! I like to serve it with green beans (but without the pecans and basil) and whipped sweet potatoes (substituting pure maple syrup for the chipotle). It makes a beautiful fall dish that is as interesting as Johnny Appleseed!


Cider and Sage Pork

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and silver skin removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup apple cider (not hard cider, usually in the produce area of the grocery)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
Fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Cut the pork tenderloin into 12 pieces. (Tip: Cut the tenderloin in half, then cut each half in half, then cut each of those into three pieces. Voila!) 


Sprinkle both sides of the pork medallions with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan; cover to keep warm.

Add remaining oil, shallots, and chopped sage; cook 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Whisk broth, cider, mustard, and cornstarch together. Add the mixture to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cream. Serve with the pork and garnish with sage leaves, if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from CookingLight.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Pan de Muertos

Halloween is over. Now what? Let me take you to Mexico, for Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. In Mexico, Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1 (for children and infants) and November 2 (for adults), to honor and celebrate the lives of the dead. These dates correspond to the Catholic, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, brought to Mexico by the Spaniards. However, Day of the Dead has been celebrated for centuries, all the way back to the Aztecs, when it was celebrated for the entire month of August. Day of the Dead is a time to remember the dead, by cleaning their grave sites, adding flowers (particularly marigolds), gathering pictures, favorite foods and drinks of the deceased, and by eating sugar skulls and Pan de Muertos or Bread of the Dead. It may sound morbid, but it isn't. After all, wouldn't it be nice to know that you wouldn't be forgotten?

In honor of the tradition of Day of the Dead, I'm offering an authentic recipe for Pan de Muertos or Bread of the Dead. It is an exotic yeast bread, flavored with a hint of anise, sugar, milk, and eggs. Sometimes other flavors are added, like cinnamon and orange, but it is it's shape that makes it distinctive. Pan de Muertos is traditionally decorated with sugar, two "bone-shaped" pieces of dough, and topped with a skull or tear shape to represent sorrow. Something like this:


Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead)

Serves 14-16

Ingredients:

For the dough
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon anise seed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest

For the glaze
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons colored or white sugar

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, mix together the milk and butter until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the warm water.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, yeast, salt, anise seed, and sugar, blending well. Stir in the warm milk mixture, eggs, and orange zest, mixing until well blended. Slowly add flour, 1 cup at a time to create the dough. Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch the dough down, removing 1 fistful of the dough and set that aside. Take the larger portion of dough and place it on a baking sheet, shaping it into a round dome.

Using the dough you had set aside, shape two small, long bone shapes to be placed on top the dome. Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to double in size, about 1 hour. Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on wire rack to cool slightly.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the 1/4 cup of white sugar, orange juice, and orange zest, stirring until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and brush over the warm bread. Sprinkle with colored or white sugar. 

Recipe adapted from Texas Cooking Online.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Happy Halloween and Goulash Madness!

Want to go mad? Try finding an "authentic" recipe for Goulash! Goulash, which is considered to be a national dish of Hungary, can take many forms, depending on which region of Europe it is made. Goulash is not the hamburger helper-like ground beef/macaroni/tomato bastardization peddled by cafeteria ladies across the US. From what I can tell, Hungarian goulash is a beef (or veal or pork) soup, made with equal parts onions and meat, seasoned with garlic, paprika, caraway, and sometimes additional vegetables, like turnips, parsnips, potatoes, and peppers. Goulash is traditionally served with steamed dumplings or tiny egg noodles called csipetke (like German spaetzle), which are pinched off (csip means pinch) and added to the simmering soup. Traditionalists consider tomatoes a faux pas, as well as using flour to thicken the soup.

Goulash, or "guylas" meaning "herdsman," originated with the cowboys of the region. Comparable to what chili is to Texas cowboys. It's also important to note that paprika was not an original ingredient in the dish, as paprika was not introduced to the region until the 16th century. Let's add a little bit more confusion, enter "porkolt." Porkolt is a meat stew that also has it's origins in Hungary. Porkolt is a stew, not soup, made with meat, vegetables but not potatoes, and seasoned with the ever important paprika. In fact, most goulash recipes that I have tried (which is a lot!) are actually the rich porkolt stew. In addition, I've also read that goulash is soup made with leftover porkolt!?! Oh, and then there are "paprikas" (aka., Paprikash) which are made with meat, paprika, and thickened with sour cream. Feeling a little mad, yet?

Anyway, with Halloween almost here, I can't think of a better meal to ward off the sugar comas my kids are soon to induce, than a nice rich bowl of hearty goulash! This recipe is adapted from Wolfgang Puck's recipe for Beef Goulash. I found his version to produce a more complex and appealing flavor, from caramelized onions to the addition of a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Changes I made were to brown the meat first, reduce the amount of caraway as it is quite strong (note: caraway and cumin are not the same thing, nor do they taste similar), upped the amount of paprika, added a dash of cayenne pepper, and opted to serve it with buttered egg noodles rather than spaetzle, to make it a little more streamlined. Although this delicious recipe is more accurately a cross between goulash and porkolt, the name "goul-ash" is just more fun to say and perfect for All Hallows' Eve!

Beef Goulash

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 pounds beef chuck, cut into approximately 2" cubes, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground (don't leave them whole!), optional
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (can also use red wine vinegar instead)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced (if you don't have fresh, use 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
Sour cream, for serving
1/2 pound cooked and butter egg noodles, to serve

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When shimmery, add the beef cubes in batches, as to not overcrowd the pan, and brown on each side, adding more oil if necessary. (This step is very important to ensure a nice beefy flavor.) Set aside.


Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and sugar. Stir until the onions are caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and caraway. Cook for 1 minute. Deglaze with the vinegar and add the tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, stock, reserved beef cubes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the mixture looks too soupy, remove the cover the last 30 minutes in the oven.


When tender, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in some of the parsley, reserving some for garnish. Serve over egg noodles with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

"A Soul, A Soul, A Soul Cake"

I stumbled across an old English custom of "Souling", in which the poor would go around begging for money and food, specifically, "soul cakes". In return, the poor would sing souling songs and offer to pray for the family's dead on All Saints Day or All Hallows Day (November 1). This custom, apparently, has is roots in the Druid celebration of Samhain, or Summer's End, to honor the dying sun on the last night of October (October 31). Combine these two, and you get All Hallows Evening, Hallowe'en, and now, Halloween! No doubt, souling has adapted into modern trick-or-treating, but I like the idea of helping the departed. They believed that for each soul cake eaten, one soul would be released from purgatory!

Traditionally, soul cakes contained saffron to make them yellow like the dying sun, and topped with currants in the shape of a cross. They evolved into more of a tea-time treat, omitting the saffron, adding yeast, and served with butter and jam. I chose the traditional route. I doubted that in a land of candy bars, my kids would find these to be a "treat"; however, to my surprise, they liked them! Try it, and maybe you and your family can help a poor soul!


Soul Cakes

Makes about 17-20, 2-inch cakes, palm-sized cuteness!

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup currants (optional)
A pinch of saffron, or a few drops of yellow food coloring (optional)
1 beaten egg yolk, for the glaze

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Warm the milk over low heat, until just hot to the touch. Add the saffron or food coloring. Remove from the heat.

Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the 2 egg yolks and blend thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix. (The mixture will be dry and crumbly.) One tablespoon at a time, begin adding the warm milk, until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. When you have a soft dough, stop adding the milk. You probably won't need the entire 1/2 cup. I only needed 4 tablespoons.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead gently, until the dough is uniform. Roll out to a thickness of 1/2-inch. Using a floured, 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can and set on an ungreased baking sheet. You can space them closely, they do not spread.

Brush liberally with the beaten egg yolk, and decorate with currants. If you don't want to use the currants, use the back (widest part) of a table knife, and place an "X" across the top. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just golden and shiny. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from T. Susan Chang.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Devilishly Good Chicken!

Foods that are highly seasoned (e.g., mustard, chilies, etc.) or sinfully rich (e.g., chocolate cake) have been referred to as "deviled" since the 18th century. In 1868, The William Underwood Company began selling a mixture of ground ham with seasonings which they named "deviled ham." In fact, their devil logo is one of the oldest trademarked logo still in use today. While I love highly seasoned food, canned ham is not my kind of thing. Trust me. I used to audit food processing plants (like Ballpark Franks), haven't eaten one since!
Image result for deviled ham
The original Underwood Deviled Ham logo.
With Halloween almost here, I want to share this wickedly addictive recipe from Williams-Sonoma for "Chicken Thighs Diavolo." Diavolo means devil in Italian, but only dishes invented by Italian-Americans use the term. In Italy, they would refer to a spicy dish as all-arrabiata meaning "angry-style." I digress. Anyway, these chicken thighs are marinated in a wonderful blend of cider vinegar and five different chili spices, then grilled to juicy perfection. Delicious! I love this marinade so much! In addition, you could use it on practically any cut of chicken or even pork. I don't know who created this spice blend, but they must have sold their soul to the devil to create it!


Chicken Thighs Diavolo

Serves 6

Ingredients:
For the marinade
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste or red pepper flakes (I use Chili Garlic Sauce by Huy Fung Foods, Inc.)
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce (I use Cholula.)
1/2 cup water

For the Chicken Thighs
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of any excess skin and fat
1 or 2 handfuls wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes. (I use mesquite.)
1 large disposable aluminum roasting pan

Directions:
In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients and whisk until the salt and granulated garlic dissolve. Taste and adjust the seasonings; the sauce should be bright red and very spicy. Pour half the sauce into a small serving bowl and set aside.

Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, score the chicken to the bone in several places to expose the flesh. Place the chicken in a large disposable aluminum roasting pan, pour the remaining sauce over the top and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat.

For a charcoal grill: Sprinkle the wood chips over the coals. Place the pan with the thighs on the cooler side of the grill, cover and cook until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the thighs to the grate directly over the coals, brush with the marinade from the pan and grill, turning often, until nicely charred on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes more.

For a gas grill: Increase a burner to high. Heat a smoker box half full of chips until smoking, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place the pan with the thighs over unlit burners, cover and cook until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the thighs to the grate directly over the heat, brush with the marinade from the pan and grill, turning often, until nicely charred on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Serve immediately and pass the reserved sauce alongside.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Lost Your Mojo?

"Mojo" is an interesting word. It can mean different things to different people. It can mean a magic spell, hex, or charm. It can refer to a magical charm bag used in hoodoo (not be be confused with voodoo) which originated in the Mississippi Delta area by African-Americans. It can also refer to someone's sex appeal, or lack thereof. However, mojo is a sauce consisting primarily of olive oil, salt, garlic, and other spices that originated in the Canary Islands. (For more on Canary Island cuisine, see Singing Canaries and Beastly Dogs?) But in Cuba and other islands of the Caribbean, where large Canarian emigration occurred, it is a sauce made with garlic, olive oil, and a citrus juice. It is typically used as a marinade or dip.

What do I do when I lose my mojo? I make Rick Bayless's "Garlicky Linguine with Seared Shrimp, Chipotle, and Queso Anejo!" It's like a Mexican shrimp scampi or Spaghetti Aglio e Olio and it is fabulous! You will need to make a batch of Rick's "Slow-Cooked Garlic Mojo," which will require approximately an hour of baking, but once you have that you can store it in the refrigerator for up to three months. (Just make sure the garlic is always covered with some olive oil.) As long as you have your mojo, this recipe takes mere minutes to complete! You've got to try it! I like to serve it with a simple salad, plenty of crusty bread, and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.


Garlicky Linguine with Seared Shrimp, Chipotle, and Queso Anejo

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
For the Slow-Cooked Garlic Mojo (FYI: You can make half a batch, if you prefer, and still have plenty for this recipe!)
4 large heads of garlic
2 cups fruity olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (Not the junk in a bottle!)

For the Shrimp and Pasta
2/3 cup Slow-Cooked Garlic Mojo (stir before measuring)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt
1-3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and finely chopped (I use 3!)
1 pound dried linguine
2-3 tablespoons coarsely chopped watercress, parsley, or cilantro (I use parsley.)
3/4 cup grated Mexican queso anejo, Parmesan, or Romano (I use cotija cheese, which is like Mexican Parmesan and is easier for me to locate.)

Directions:
For the Mojo
Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Break the heads of garlic apart, then mash each clove with the side of a knife to release the clove from the papery skin. Stir together the garlic, oil, and salt in an 8x8-inch pan (make sure all the garlic is submerged), slide it into the oven and bake until the garlic is soft and lightly brown, about 45-55 minutes. Add the lime juice and return to the oven for 20 minutes for the garlic to absorb the lime and turn golden brown.

Using an old-fashioned potato masher or fork, mash the garlic into a coarse puree. Pour the mixture into a wide-mouth storage container and refrigerate it until you're ready to enjoy some deliciousness. It will keep in the refrigerator for up the three months as long as there's enough oil to keep the garlic covered.


For the Shrimp and Pasta
Fill a large (6-8 quart) pot about 2/3 full of water. Add 2 tablespoons salt, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, spoon 2 tablespoons of the oil from the mojo into a very large (12-inch) skillet. (I use my non-stick one, see Gadgets.) Set over medium-high heat. Pat the shrimp dry, sprinkle with salt and, when the oil is hot and looks shimmery, lay them in the skillet. Cook until the shrimp just lose their transclucency in the center, about 1 minute per side. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped chiles and the rest of the mojo.

Slide the pasta into the boiling water, stir, then let boil until al dente according to package directions.


Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then pour the pasta into a colander set in a sink. Return the pasta and the 1/2 cup water to the pot. Scrape in the shrimp mixture, sprinkle with the chopped watercress, parsley, or cilantro, toss together and divide among warm plates. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve without hesitation.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Simply Pearfect!

Sometimes we all get caught up in elaborate recipes designed to impress, but sometimes less is more. For instance, take the classic combination of pears and cheese. Delicious! To make a truly perfect salad, take a ripe juicy pear, a generous sprinkle of good quality blue cheese, a healthy drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, and a grind of black pepper, and you have an amazing, beautiful, and healthy salad in minutes. It also makes a lovely fruit/cheese course after the main course. I LOVE it!


Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 ripe, juicy pears 
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (Roquefort, Stilton, or Gorgonzola)
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar (preferably from Modena)
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toasted chopped walnuts, optional

Directions:
Cut the pears into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter in half and arrange on individual salad plates. Sprinkle each plate with 1 ounce of the cheese. Mix the oil and vinegar and drizzle evenly over each plate. Season with a generous grind of black pepper and serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Czech Please!

The first Czech immigrants arrived in Texas in 1850 seeking land and camaraderie along side the German immigrant populations. In fact, according to the 1920 census of foreign born population, Mexican immigrants comprised the largest percentage at 69.2%, Germans at 8.6%, and Czechs third at 3.6%. Even today, Texas is home to the largest population of Czech descendants in the US. The Czech influence can still be felt today with Czech speaking radio broadcasts, the eternal popularity of polkas and accordions (which spurred the creation of conjunto music in south Texas that crossed into northern Mexico creating the norteno sound), and kolaches! 

Kolaches (ko-lah-chees) are a sweet yeast bread with fillings of poppy seed, apricot, cottage cheese, or prune being the most traditional. However, crafty Czexans have created new sweet flavors like raspberry, blueberry, pineapple, and strawberry, as well as savory versions like jalapeno sausage and cheese, barbecue beef, and even sauerkraut! So what's my favorite flavor? Cream cheese with crumb topping! Yum! This recipe (adapted from Texas Monthly/April 2014 from Sweet on Texas) makes very delicious kolaches! You will need to allow about 3 hours to complete, but it is well worth the effort! So plan a leisurely afternoon in the kitchen and perhaps a little polka!


Cream Cheese Kolaches

Makes about 27

Ingredients:
For the Dough
1 1/2 teaspoons + 1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
4 1/4 cup bread flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Cream Cheese Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

For the Crumb Topping
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:
For the Dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, yeast, and warm water. Set aside until the yeast starts to bubble, about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it just begins to simmer. Stir in the shortening and stir until just melted. Remove from the heat and let cool 5 minutes. Add the salt, egg yolk, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whisk well.

Add the milk/egg mixture to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. With the dough hook, on low speed, add one cup at a time of the flour until incorporated. Turn the mixer speed to medium and mix until a soft, moist, glossy dough forms (about the time it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl).


Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. After the dough has risen, punch it down to remove any air in the dough. 

Lightly flour a work surface. Using a spoon, remove small portions of the dough and drop them onto the flour surface, rolling them into egg-size pieces with the palms of your hands. Place them on a parchment or silpat-lined baking pan in rows about 1" apart, about 16 per pan. Brush the dough balls with the melted butter. Cover with a tea towel and place them back in a warm, draft-free area to rise another 20 minutes.


For the Cream Cheese Filling
Beat sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Set aside at room temperature.

For the Crumb Topping
Combine the flour, sugar, and butter in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Finishing the Kolaches
Make a deep, round impression (I use the back of a tablespoon and swirl it around) in the center of each ball of dough and fill it with a tablespoon of the filling. (Don't press through the bottom of the dough or filling will ooze out!)



Let the kolaches rise again, uncovered, for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sprinkle the kolaches with the desired amount of crumb topping. Bake until lightly browned, 20-30 minutes.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hatch, Hatch, Hooray!

Hatch chiles have just hit the market! Yippee! These amazing chiles are only available for a short period of time, so you better run out and get some! Every year I load up, roast and freeze them to hopefully last me all year. See Roasting and Freezing Hatch Chiles. I also make Green Chile Sauce, that I freeze in ice cube trays, which I adore with scrambled eggs. The first meal I make is always my amazing Green Chile Cheeseburgers! Delicious! In fact, I'm making them tonight! I can't wait! Other fabulous recipes from my site that make the most of these addictive chiles are Chiles RellenosGreen Chile Chicken Lasagna with Goat Cheese, and Hatch Chile Macque Choux. I highly recommend any of those!

However, I have a new recipe for you to try this year! How does "Hatch Chile and Cheddar Corn Pudding" sound? Chiles and cheese - my favorite! It's the perfect side dish with grilled or roasted meats. It would also make a fine meal on it's own with a nice green salad. If you like chiles, you'll love this recipe!


Hatch Chile and Cheddar Corn Pudding

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
2 large hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, and chopped (See Techniques for more information on how to roast a chile.) (Can subtitute 1, 4oz can of hatch chiles, if necessary.)
4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, preferably freshly grated
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree 3 cups of the corn in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in the remaining 1 cup corn, salt, scallions, chiles, flour, and 1 cup of the cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream until combined. Stir into the corn mixture.



Place butter in a 8" square baking dish (I used a 2 quart souffle dish), and place in oven until butter is melted, about 10 minutes. (Don't let the butter burn!) Pour batter into the hot baking dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Place a baking sheet on lower rack to catch any drips, and bake until puffed and bubbling and cheese is golden brown, 45-50 minutes. (I had no issues with any drips.) Let cool 30 minutes before serving.


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Who are you calling Shrimp?

People have been eating shrimp since prehistoric times. There are recipes from Apicius, an ancient Roman author, in his cookbook of the same name, compiled in the late 4th and early 5th century AD. Clay vessels with shrimp decorations have even been found in the ruins of Pompeii, from the 1st century AD. "Squilla" is the Latin word for shrimp, while the word "shrimp" is derived from Middle English "shrimpe," meaning "puny person." Don't let these little guys scare you! They may have high levels of cholesterol, but only 1/3 of that compared to an egg. In addition, they are an excellent source of low calorie protein, selenium, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are all very good for you!

I love shrimp, especially grilled! This recipe for "Grilled Herb Shrimp," originates from the New York Times Cookbook. It is so easy and absolutely delicious! First you marinate the shrimp in an herby mustard marinade, then grill it up in a matter of minutes! In addition, any leftover shrimp are delicious cold as a snack,  perfect for jazzing up any salad, or for whatever use you may want! You can skewer the shrimp, as I did here, to make it easier to grill. If you don't have a grill, you can broil them, 3 inches from the flame about 2 minutes a side.


Grilled Herb Shrimp

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 lbs shrimp, peeled (tails left on) and deveined (For information on peeling and deveining shrimp, click my Techniques tab for a very helpful video!)

Directions:

Combine the garlic, onion, parsley, basil, mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice in a non-reactive (glass) dish. Add the shrimp and allow them to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. (I marinate them overnight.)


Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals, and brush the grilling rack with oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Grill the shrimp for 1 1/2 minutes on each side, or until cooked.

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!, by Ina Garten.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Ciao, Insalata Caprese!

I think everyone has heard of and/or eaten Insalata Caprese, which is a salad "in the style of Capri," from the Italian region of Campania, made with fresh buffalo mozzarella, juicy red tomatoes, young fresh basil, the best olive oil, and salt and pepper. Typically, made only in the summer with the freshest most flavorful tomatoes, it is a real treat and is served as a first course with crusty bread. However, I do know some people who think it's bland and boring! Gasp! So, for those of you who think Insalata Caprese is "just okay," try this variation for "Fresh Tomato and Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil," by Giada de Laurentiis. 

I absolutely LOVE this salad! I highly recommend using heirloom, or at least home-grown tomatoes, if you can find them. This beautiful salad consists of thick juicy tomato slices, layered with light and fluffy goat cheese, drizzled with a fragrant herb oil of mint and basil, and sprinkled with toasted walnuts! Yum! It makes a stunning first course, and tastes fresh and downright exciting! If you have any leftover herb oil, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Use it to drizzle over grilled fish, vegetables, pasta, and in salad dressings.


Fresh Tomato and Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
For the Goat Cheese Filling
8 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup walnuts
3 ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/2-3/4" thick

For the Herb Oil
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
For the Goat Cheese Filling
Combine the goat cheese and cream in a medium bowl and beat together using an electric mixer (or stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Herb Oil
Combine the herbs in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop them. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow stream and process until very smooth with visible flecks of the herbs remaining. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the oil to a small bowl (or jar), cover, and set aside.

Toast the Walnuts
Toast the walnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat until they begin to darken slightly and are fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board to cool slightly, then chop them coarsely.

Plating the Dish
Place one tomato slice on each plate. Top each slice with a spoonful of the goat cheese mixture. Top each plate with another tomato slice and another spoonful of the goat cheese filling. Drizzle each strata with some of the herb oil, and sprinkle with the walnuts.

Recipe adapted from Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites, by Giada de Laurentiis.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Power to the Peaches!

Peaches are one of the most wonderful fruits of summer! I use them mostly to make Texas-Hill Country Peach Cobbler and Grilled Chicken and Peaches with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese (which was my favorite recipe find from last summer). However, after a recent trip to the farmer's market, I was a little overzealous and found myself with more peaches than I can handle! James Beard to the rescue, particularly his exceedingly simple recipe for "Brandied Peaches." 

I am not someone who is a "canner," but the thought of peaches soaking in sugar and brandy for months sounded quite tempting. In addition, the recipe does not require the jars to be processed, which I am not an expert of or inclined to delve into. I'm assuming that drowning the peaches in 80 proof brandy should keep any spoilage at bay...but I'll have to wait a few months to see? According to James Beard, "these peaches stood for several months before using and developed a high degree of potency. They were served as a dessert taken from the bottle and they can be delicious when served warm or cold over ice cream." I've also read to store canned peaches in the dark to prevent discoloration, so I've tucked them in the back corner of my refrigerator where hopefully they will provide me potent peaches for desserts and peach brandy syrup for cocktails and sauces! I'll let you know!

*UPDATE: They are wonderful! In the dead of winter, they are especially nice thinly sliced with some soft goat cheese! Yum!

It looks like summer in a jar!

James Beard's Brandied Peaches

*The recipe calls for 4 pounds peaches and 2 pounds of sugar, but as I was a little apprehensive, I only used 1 pound of peaches and 1/2 pound of sugar, in case I have to throw it out. Hopefully not!

Ingredients:
4 pounds ripe peaches
2 pounds granulated sugar
Brandy, enough to cover peaches

Directions:
Place the peaches in a pot and cover with cold water.


Bring to a simmer, but do not boil, till the skins will rub off easily. (This took me about 3-5 minutes of simmering, until a pairing knife rubbed alongside one of the peaches easily released the skin.) Drain and run under cold water. Peel the skin off the peaches, cut in half and remove the stones.


Put the sugar and peach halves in alternate layers in jars (quarts are best). (For my 1 pound peaches, I used a 24 ounce jar.)


Pour in brandy to cover.


Cork tightly. Store in a cool dark place for at least 6 weeks before using.

Recipe slightly adapted from American Cookery, by James Beard.