Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Don't Like Catfish


Kinda weird that I would title my post that and then show you a picture of Fried Catfish, I know.  I've tried catfish twice in my life.  Once as a teenager and last week.

My mother had a great aunt that lived in a small town in Georgia named Aunt Boots.  She was born by the name of Essa Mae Tischner.  When her parents immigrated here from Germany, the immigration officers got the spelling of their last name wrong and they then became the Titshaws.  Aunt Boots got the nickname "Boots" because she always wore red rubber boots as a child.  She was a wealthy peanut plantation widower.  She used to send us cans of boiled peanuts.  I wish I had some now.  She owned the majority of the town, including most of the low-rent housing.  My mother, my aunt and I went there when I was a teenager to visit her. She was really old by that point.  

Aunt Boots has kind of a wacky story.  She got engaged to be married a really, really long time ago.  Her fiance backed out, so she sued him for breach of promise for marriage. This had to be in the early 1900s.  Since most women won the case for breach of promise back then, her fiance, Alex Story, decided that he would marry her.  They lived out their marriage living in separate bedrooms.  Alex was the mayor of Ashburn, Georgia and the sheriff of the county.  Aunt Boots would always take my mother fishing for catfish.  Uncle Alex would take my mother to the jail to look at the prisoners.  One time my mother asked an old man behind bars what he did. The man told her, "they say I stole a chicken, but I didn't steal no chicken."

When we visited Aunt Boots in the mid '80s, she was there in her mansion alone, since Uncle Alex passed away in the early '70s.  Her maid, Rosabel, always wore a red leather baseball cap and wore it backwards.  Aunt Boots fixed us catfish one night for dinner.  It was full of bones, and I hated it.  Aunt Boots was developing a little dementia by then.  She tried to set bacon and butter out the night before to cook the next day for breakfast.  After she went to bed, we cleaned out her pantry and fridge and threw away 30-year-old prescriptions and put the bacon and butter back in the fridge. One day, we got in her big Cadillac and drove around town trying to collect rent from her low-rent houses.  She charged them $8 per week.  Don't you wish it was like that now!  She was truly an interesting character.

Anywho, I had the chance to try catfish again last week.  We bought fresh catfish from the nicest grocery store in town. We breaded it and fried it up.  And everyone LOVED it...except me.  I guess it's an acquired taste.  But I know there are catfish fans out there, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you.  I hope you love it as much as Aunt Boots did.

FRIED CATFISH
FOR THE CATFISH:
2 lbs catfish fillets, picked over for bones
2 C cornmeal
1/2 C flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 T mustard powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 T bay leaf powder
1 1/2 C buttermilk
Hot sauce, to taste
Peanut oil, for frying

FOR THE TARTAR SAUCE:
1 C mayonnaise
1/2 C chopped pickles
2 T finely minced onion
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder

NOTE:  The spices and seasonings listed in the catfish ingredients are the ingredients in Old Bay seasoning.  Feel free to substitute a tablespoon or two of Old Bay powder for those ingredients.

For the tartar sauce, whisk all of the ingredients together and chill until ready to use.

For the catfish, mix together all the ingredients from the cornmeal down to the bay leaf powder together in a bowl. Mix the buttermilk with hot sauce to taste in another bowl. Preheat some peanut oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees. Cut the catfish into strips.  Dip the catfish in the buttermilk mixture and then into the cornmeal mixture, pressing down to coat. Fry the fish in batches until browned and done and drain on paper towels.  Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until all the catfish are done.  Serve with the tartar sauce. 

Try a batch of my Jalapeno Cheese Hush Puppies with your catfish!

Monday, September 29, 2014

No Debating


A few weeks ago, my husband asked me to try my hand at Deep Dish Pizza.  Since I'm pretty daring, I said, why not.  I researched the crust, prepped the ingredients and got to work.  The dough is something I'm not that familiar with, so I was a little worried that it wouldn't work.  But it did work (whew!).  I let our son build his own.  I got two 8-inch pizzas and one 6-inch pizza.  My husband and I shared one of the 8-inch pizzas (we couldn't finish it) and my son ate the other 8-inch pizza (he finished it) and our daughter ate the 6-inch. They turned out great!

Now, I know all about the rivalry between Chicago deep dish pizza and New York thin crust pizza.  And I'm not sure how close or far away this pizza crust is from Chicago crusts.  But I'm not here to debate or try to be truly authentic all the time. I just like to cook food we like.  In fact, I very rarely stick to any dish and cook it exactly the way it was intended.  I just cook.  

So, with all that in mind, here is my recipe.  I am not going to give you measurements on the toppings since that is a very personal thing.  I'll just tell you what we used, and you should be as creative as you want with your toppings.  I am aware that Chicago deep dish pizza is built backwards from American pizza and the cheese goes on the bottom, sauce on the top.  We just did layers and ended with cheese.  The crust was slightly crispy on the outside and very soft on the inside.  There's no debating...this pizza was good!

DEEP DISH PIZZA
FOR THE DOUGH:
3 teaspoons highly active yeast
1 1/4 C warm water, about 110-115 degrees
2 teaspoons sugar
4 C flour
3/4 C cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
3 T melted butter
5 T softened butter
(Plus additional melted butter for brushing on the baked crust)

FOR THE PIZZA:
Marinara sauce (click here for my recipe)
Cooked and crumbled bacon
Cooked and crumbled Italian sausage
Pepperoni slices
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Black olive slices

NOTE:  I got two 8-inch pizzas and one 6-inch pizza, since those are the pans I had.  You could easily get four 6-inch pizzas with this recipe.

Put the yeast, warm water, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Let it sit about five minutes.  Add in the flour, cornmeal, 3 T melted butter, olive oil, and salt.  Knead with the dough hook until the dough comes together in a ball. Place it in a greased bowl and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  

On a floured board, roll the dough into about a 12 x 15 rectangle.  Brush the softened butter all over the surface of the dough.  Roll the dough back up into a ball and knead well to get the butter all through the dough.  Divide the dough into three or four portions (depending on your pans) and put them into greased pans.  Cover and let them rise until they spread to the edges of the pan and are quite fat, about 30-45 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Press the dough down and up the insides of the pan, extending to the top edge of the pans.  Traditional Chicago deep dish pizza layers Mozzarella, meat and other veggies, then sauce, then Parmesan on top.  I layered mine with sauce, meat and veggies, sauce, then Mozzarella and Parmesan, as well as extra pepperoni, on top.  Bake the pizzas for 20-30 minutes or until the crust is browned.  Brush melted butter on the crust and let cool slightly before cutting.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Good Dog


As I sat down just now to write this post, I noticed that our 2-year-old Boxer, Cooper, looks so ridiculously comfortable sleeping on the couch.  He snores as loud as my husband does, and he's snoring right now.  

My daughter wanted a puppy two years ago, so we found Cooper.  He is the funniest dog.  He likes to "kill" his toys by violently shaking them around and will even hit himself in the head with his heavy, thick rope toys.  Boxers do something called a "kidney bean" which is kind of a little dance where they hop around in circles.  It's rather funny watching an 80 pound dog do this.  Did you know Boxers are puppies for three years instead of two?  He is very playful.   He's not the smartest dog, but we like him anyway.  My husband likes to animate his actions.  For instance, when he's showing off "killing" his toys, he'll say, "hey, look at my mad skill set." Here's his picture...still snoring.  His jowls are even vibrating with the snores.



If you have dogs, you'll know that dogs don't necessarily choose the person that is supposed to be their owner. Cooper chose me instead of my daughter.  He sits in my spot on the couch when I'm not there.  If one of the kids tries to sit in my spot, he gets very upset and tries to push them off the couch.  If someone sits on one of the barstools in the kitchen, he automatically assumes they have food and will sit there "talking" to them until he gets a treat.  I'm really glad we got him and the breed is such a good breed that we will definitely get Boxers again.

Anywho, this is supposed to be about Chicken Tetrazzini Florentine.  This recipe is rich and flavorful and pretty easy too.  I hope you enjoy it as much as Cooper did.

CHICKEN TETRAZZINI FLORENTINE
2 C cooked, shredded chicken
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 T butter
Olive oil
1 C frozen peas
5 ounces fresh spinach
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C white wine
1/4 C flour
3 C heavy cream
1 C chicken stock
2 T Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 C breadcrumbs
1 lb linguine
Additional pats of butter (for the top)

Cook the linguine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet and melt the butter in the olive oil.  Cook the onions and mushrooms until tender.  Add in the wine to deglaze the pan.  Cook until the liquid is gone.  Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture.  Add in the chicken stock and whisk.  Add in the cream, peas, spinach, chicken, garlic, and parsley.  Reduce the heat slightly and cook until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Stir the linguine into the chicken mixture.  Put the mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole pan. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top and put some pats of butter on top of the breadcrumbs.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the top is browned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Smashing Good Dinner


I came across a picture on Pinterest of something called Jaegerschnitzel.  I did some research on what the heck it is. It's a German dish consisting of a thin cutlet of meat that is battered and fried and then topped with a bacon and mushroom sauce.  Sounds good, huh!  Jaeger means hunter in German, and a schnitzel is always a thin cutlet of meat that is fried.  There is debate out there whether it is breaded or not.  Obviously I chose the breading.

So on the night I made this, I went into the kitchen and started prepping stuff.  I chopped shallots and sliced mushrooms and started cooking bacon.  Then it came time to pound the meat out thin.  I got out my ancient wooden meat mallet and got to work.  I decided that the wooden mallet wasn't cutting it, so I got out a small heavy metal pot and began banging away.  And then I did it.  I pounded two of my fingers!  Apparently I let out a scream.  I bent over holding my two fingers and didn't move.  My husband came running. 

He asked to look at it and we discovered that I blew out the skin under my nail and it was bleeding.  At that point, I was having trouble breathing and felt naseous.  He said I was in shock, which I believe because it kind of felt like I was watching it happen outside my body.  He made me lay down and elevate my feet.  After a couple of minutes I gathered my wits about me, and the first thing I said was, "holy sh*t, I blew out my finger."  (Please forgive me for that expletive.)  He laughed and said, "you're making jokes now?"  Anyway, that was 8 days ago and I still have bruising on my fingers.  I'm lucky I didn't lose a fingernail.

So my daughter and husband jumped in and and made dinner.  My daughter pounded out those chops so well with that trusty ancient wooden mallet.  She finished cooking the bacon, which she hates doing.  My husband fried the chops and my daughter made the sauce.  And it was fabulous! Smashing good dinner!  Enjoy!

JAEGERSCHNITZEL
FOR THE PORK:
4 boneless pork chops
1 C flour
1 C panko breadcrumbs
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Black pepper
Seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
Dried parsley
Olive oil

FOR THE SAUCE:
2 T butter
1/2 lb bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
2 shallots, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/4 C red wine
1/2 C sour cream
2 C beef stock
2 T chopped Italian parsley

Cook the bacon until crisp.  Reserve 2 T of the bacon grease. Put the pork chops between plastic wrap and pound them to about 1/4 inch thick, being careful not to smash your fingers (haha).  Mix together the flour with some garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, seasoned salt, and dried parsley.  In another bowl, whisk the two eggs together with a splash of water.  In a third bowl, mix the panko with some garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, seasoned salt, and dried parsley.  Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into a large skillet.  Dip the pork cutlets in the flour, then into the egg, then into the panko mixture pressing down to coat.  Fry them in the olive oil until browned and crispy on both sides and done through. Drain them on paper towels and then keep them warm in a 200 degree oven.

For the sauce, put the reserved bacon grease and butter into a large skillet and melt the butter.  Cook the shallots and mushrooms over medium high heat until tender.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine.  Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom mixture and stir. Add in the beef stock, garlic, salt & pepper to taste, and sour cream and whisk.  Continue cooking and whisking until thickened and bubbly.  Serve the sauce over the pork cutlets and garnish with the bacon and Italian parsley. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Island Time


When I was a teenager, my mom took me to Jamaica one summer.  It was a very interesting trip.  We arrived at their airport at night, and we had a long shuttle ahead of us.  We got on this rickety old bus and hit the road.  The drivers there are crazy!  They drive on the wrong side of the road and they honk their horns and pass every car, bus, and even bicyclists on their tiny two-lane road.  We were terrified!  Midway to the hotel, we stopped at a roadside stand and got some jerk chicken.  I was a wimp back then and thought it was way too spicy.  We finally made it to the hotel unscathed.  

There were so many crazy things that happened on that trip. There was a thunderstorm that literally shook the hotel we stayed in.  I have never heard thunder that loud at any other time in my life.  One of our days there, we decided to go to the farmer's market.  A local Jamaican man convinced the two of us (dummies) to follow him to the back part of the farmer's market because supposedly the better produce was back there.  He then proceeded to try to sell us ganja, which we didn't know what the heck that was.  We are lucky to have survived that one.  Another day we took a raft ride down the river, which apparently takes you through the slum houses along the river.  A man on the bank farthest from us decided to drop his drawers and show us his manhood.  My mother took his picture just at the right moment.

One of the days we decided to go snorkeling.  We went off with a Rastafarian in a speedo on his boat.  Luckily, another tourist man with his son went too.  The Rastafarian's name was Peter Smith.  I don't know how I remember that because it was almost 30 years ago (telling on my age).  But he turned out to be a really nice guy.  He took us out to a reef and it was beautiful.  He swam down and retrieved a sea urchin. He broke it open and held it in his hand under water, and little fish swam up and ate from it.  It was awesome!  

We also saw a barracuda swimming very close to the beach there.  We hiked up a waterfall, where I spent the majority of the time standing behind my mother trying to keep her from falling down.  And did you know a speed bump there is called a sleeping policeman?  Funny, huh.  All in all, it was a great fun trip and we are much more the wiser now.  

Long post to get you to a recipe for Jamaican Jerk Shrimp! This is very spicy.  But, if you like spicy, you're going to love this!  You may be surprised to see cinnamon in the ingredients, but it mellows out after cooking.  This sauce is so surprisingly delicious!  You will be surprised at how the flavors come at you in waves, almost like a flavor journey. You get sweet first, then heat, then savory, then rich spices. I served this with white rice, black beans, mango habanero salsa, and fried plantains (they are a variety of a banana which is less sweet and is typically cooked before eating). The beans, rice and plaintains help cool the mouth some and balance out the heat.  Boonoonoonoos!

JAMAICAN JERK SHRIMP
12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 T black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Juice of two limes
2-3 habaneros, seeded
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T soy sauce
2 T ketchup
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C vegetable or peanut oil
Salt, to taste

FOR THE MANGO HABANERO SALSA:
1 large mango, cubed
2 Roma tomatoes, cubed
2 T diced red onion
1 T chopped cilantro
1 T lime juice
2 habaneros, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE FRIED PLANTAINS:
2 plantains, sliced diagonally
Peanut oil, for frying
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR SERVING:
Cooked white rice
Warm black beans

Mix all of the salsa ingredients together and chill until ready to use.

Put a little peanut oil into a skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Fry the plantain slices until they are browned on both sides.  Drain them on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

For the shrimp, place all of the ingredients except the shrimp into a blender and blend until smooth.  Put the sauce and shrimp into a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook 5-7 minutes or until the shrimp is done.  Serve the shrimp over rice with some black beans, plantains, and the salsa.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Copycat Schlotzsky's


My husband is a HUGE Schlotzsky's fan.  Whenever he travels for work, he always eats there.  I like Schlotzsky's too, so I knew I had to recreate this sandwich.  I did make my own bread here which is a little more involved.  If you aren't a bread baker, this recipe may be a little more scary for you. But don't worry.  Working with yeast is a lot easier than you may think.  It takes patience, accurate measuring, and time. Also, I did not give measurements for the sandwich fillings since we all fill our sandwiches differently.  I got two 8-inch buns and one 6-inch bun from the recipe, only because that's the only size round pans I have.  You could easily get about four six-inch buns out of this.  You could also just do free-form buns on sheet pans.  

We both felt this sandwich tasted just like Schlotzsky's.  So good, in fact, that we ate it twice in a week!  Enjoy!

NOTE:  You will need a sourdough starter for this recipe. They are very easy to make and it takes just a little bit of time each day to feed it.  King Arthur has good starter instructions here (click for recipe).

SCHLOTZSKY'S ORIGINAL
FOR THE BREAD:
1 1/2 C sourdough starter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon highly active yeast
3/4 C milk, warmed to 110-115 degrees
1/4 warm water, about 110-115 degrees
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 C flour
Cornmeal (for baking, not for the dough)
Melted butter (not for the dough)

FOR THE GARLIC SPREAD:
1 C mayonnaise
1 T dried parsley
2-3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 T vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE SANDWICH:
Shredded Mozarella
Shredded Parmesan
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Cotto salami slices
Genoa salami slices
Deli sliced ham
Mustard
Sliced red onions
Sliced tomatoes
Chopped black olives
Chopped iceberg lettuce

For the buns, put the warm milk, warm water, sourdough starter, sugar, and the yeast into the bowl of a mixer.  Let it sit a few minutes to become frothy.  Add in the remaining sourdough bun ingredients (not the cornmeal or butter) and knead with the dough hook. Knead until it all comes together in a ball.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover. Let it rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.  It needs to triple in size.  Mine took 2 hours.  

While the bread is rising, mix together the garlic spread ingredients and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

If you are using cake pans (see note above), spray them with nonstick spray and sprinkle in a little cornmeal.  Divide the dough among the pans (use floured hands), more for an 8-inch pan than for a 6-inch pan.  Cover them and let the dough rise again in a warm place until the dough grows to fill in the pans, which will take at least 1 hour.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  When the bread is ready, spray the tops of the dough with nonstick spray and bake it for about 20 minutes or until it is browned well on top and done.  Brush the tops of the bread with some melted butter to keep it soft.  Let the buns cool before slicing.

To assemble the sandwiches, split the buns open.  Spread some of the garlic spread on each half of the buns.  Sprinkle some Parmesan on both halves of each bun.  Sprinkle Cheddar cheese on the bottom buns and Mozzarella on the top buns.  Place the buns on a sheet pan.  Place piles of salami and ham on the sheet pan next to the buns to heat. Place this all under the broiler and broil until cheese is melted.  Remove from the oven and place the ham and salami on each bottom bun and garnish with mustard, black olives, tomato slices, lettuce and onion slices.  I like mine with some Pepperoncini peppers too!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ancient Soup


I love to find out the history behind recipes.  Sometimes they are rather interesting.  Take this Posole Rojo for instance. Posole is the Spanish word for hominy and rojo means red. But this soup is much more than just hominy in red broth.

Hominy is a brother to corn, only it has fatter kernels.  Ever eaten Corn Nuts?  That's made from hominy.  Another word for hominy is maize, which was a sacred plant to the Aztecs. Since the plant was sacred, Posole was a dish that was only made for special occasions.  What is even more interesting is that the Aztecs believed that their gods created humans from masa, which is ground cornmeal used for making tamale dough.  Doesn't that conjure up a rather funny picture in your head?  I just imagined tamale dough shaped like people.

Anywho, there are two varieties of Posole, rojo and verde, which means green.  People use pork or chicken in posole, sometimes beef.  I found some interesting recipes on line for the rojo version where the broth included red chiles.  So I went with that.  I also chose to use boneless country style pork ribs, which I'm so glad I did since the meat was perfectly tender in a short time.  This soup turned out fabulous and I can't wait to make it again and again this winter.  Enjoy!

POSOLE ROJO
2 lbs boneless country style pork ribs
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
20 dried chile de arbol
5 guajillo chiles
2 serranos, chopped
8 C chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1 T cumin
Olive oil
Three 15-ounce cans hominy, drained
Salt & pepper, to taste
Diced avocado (for garnish)
Sliced cabbage (for garnish)
Chopped cilantro (for garnish)
Chopped tomato (for garnish)

Cut the stems off of the chile de arbol and the guajillo chiles and shake the seeds out.  Put the chile peppers in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and them simmer for about 20 minutes or until they are tender.  Put the chiles and about 1 1/2 C of the cooking water into a blender.  Blend until it's smooth and then strain it through a mesh strainer, reserving the liquid.

Drizzle some olive oil into a large pot or dutch oven.  Cook the onion and serranos over medium high heat until tender. Turn the heat up a bit and add in more olive oil, if necessary. Add in the pork and brown for about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock, the pureed chiles, the garlic, the cumin, the bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat slightly. Cook and simmer for about 40 minutes.  Add in the hominy and cook an additional 15 minutes or until the pork is tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.  Garnish the soup with the avocado, cabbage, cilantro, and tomatoes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cheese Puffs



These delicious little goodies are Cheese Puffs.  They are very similar to a popover in that they are hollow inside.  They are quick and easy to make too!

CHEESE PUFFS
As adapted from Ina Garten
1 C half & half
1 stick butter
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 C flour
4 eggs
3/4 C shredded cheese, any flavor (I used a mix of Havarti, Cheddar, Parmesan, and Provolone)
2 T shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Put the butter, half and half, milk, and a little salt and pepper into a small pot.  Heat until the butter is melted.  Add the flour and stir it in.  It will all clump together.  Put the mixture into a food processor with the chopping blade and add in the eggs, cheese, parsley and garlic powder.  Blend until well combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or use a well seasoned baking stone).  Spoon the dough into a pastry bag or a large zipper bag.  Cut a decent size hole in the end of the bag.  Pipe out the dough into round mounds about 2 inches round.  Sprinkle the 2 T Parmesan cheese over the tops.  Bake them for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

I Don't Go Barefoot


If you watch Food TV, then you no doubt have watched Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten.  She makes her recipes seem really easy and they almost always look elegant.  I don't spend a lot of time watching her show since I'm a lot more downhome than she is.  But I have tried some of her recipes, and they usually turn out really good.

I came across her recipe for Scallops Gratin, and I thought I'd give it a try, of course with some adjustments.  But I didn't go barefoot in the kitchen.  In fact, I really don't go barefoot anywhere, unless I'm swimming or on the beach or sleeping. It would seem really strange to me to cook with no shoes on, although I don't think Ina cooks with no shoes on.

Anywho, this recipe is really easy to make and looks so pretty when it's done.  And it was darn tasty!

SCALLOPS GRATIN
As adapted from Ina Garten
2 lbs sea scallops
6 T real butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/4 C proscuitto ham, chopped
2 T Italian parsley, chopped
1 small lemon
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/3 C olive oil
1/2 C panko breadcrumbs
1/2 C white wine
Additional chopped parsley & Parmesan cheese for garnish

NOTE:  In Ina's recipe, she talks about removing a muscle from the side of the scallops.  This is already done where I buy my scallops.  You can ask the butcher to do it for you.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Mix the butter, garlic, shallots, proscuitto, parsley, juice of the lemon, Parmesan cheese, panko, and some salt and pepper into a food processor.  Process until combined.  While the machine is running, drizzle in the olive oil. 

Pour the wine into a dish big enough to fit all of the scallops, but not too big.  Place the scallops into the dish and season them with salt and pepper.  Spoon some of the topping onto each scallop.  Bake them for about 10-15 minutes or until the scallops are done and the topping is browned.  Garnish with additional parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Soup's On!


Whenever there is a meal ready in our house, my husband will go to the kids' rooms and announce, "Soup's On!"  Even if it's breakfast.  Inevitably, one of them will ask, "we're having soup for breakfast?"  Ha ha.  

Even though my Weatherbug app on my phone is acting a little crazy today and saying that the temperature is 113 today and it feels like 150 (it's really only about 88 degrees), we actually had a few chilly days recently out here in the Dustbowl of West Texas.  We had rain, and I even had to get out the long pajama pants.  So we decided we better make Clam Chowder.  It was thick and creamy.  It had good clam flavor since I used fresh clams.  It was also pretty easy and didn't take too long.  We served it with my Seasoned Oyster Crackers and some fresh homemade sourdough bread.  We all even kept trying to say "Clam Chowda" with a New England accent, which is pretty hysterical since we have Texan accents.  But it was a good meal for a chilly night.  

Now, the fresh clams can be a little pricey depending on where you live.  If you must use canned clams, I'd guess that you'll need about 2 cups of them.  I hope you enjoy this one!

CLAM CHOWDER
4 dozen clams (or about 2 C canned clams)
2 good-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
4 slices bacon, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
One 8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 C water
2 T butter
1/2 C white wine
2 C chicken stock
1 C frozen corn kernels (not traditional, but why not!)
3 T flour
One quart heavy cream

30 minutes prior to beginning to cook, fill your sink up with cold water to soak the clams (this gets them to purge any sand they have ingested).  If the clams are open, tap them gently on the counter to see if they close (give it about 30 seconds or so).  If they don't close, discard them.  This means they are bad.  Soak them in the sink for 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes, put the 4 C water and half of the clam juice into a pot.  Add in the clams and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 8-10 minutes or until they are all opened.  Drain. Discard any clams that didn't open.  That means they are bad.  When they are cool enough to handle, pull the clams out of the shells and chop.  Set aside.

Melt the butter into a dutch oven or large pot.  Cook the bacon until it's almost crispy.  Add in the wine and deglaze the pan. Add in the onions, celery, and potatoes.  Cook for a couple of minutes and then cover.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the lid and sprinkle the flour over the veggies.  Stir in the chicken stock, the cream, the corn, the remaining clam juice, salt and pepper to taste, and the clams.  Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat.  Continue cooking about 10 minutes and until it's thickened.   Serve with Seasoned Oyster Crackers (recipe to follow).


SEASONED OYSTER CRACKERS
1/2 C butter, melted
One 10-ounce package oyster crackers
1 T garlic powder
1 T dried parsley
1 T onion powder
1 T mixed dried herbs
Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Mix the butter and herbs together.  Pour them over the crackers and toss to coat. Bake them 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until they are dry.

Seasoned Oyster Crackers


These Seasoned Oyster Crackers are really good for soups and even just for snacking!  This one is a savory herb seasoning, but you can mix it up and use whatever you like, even taco seasoning or Ranch! 

SEASONED OYSTER CRACKERS
1/2 C butter, melted
One 10-ounce package oyster crackers
1 T garlic powder
1 T dried parsley
1 T onion powder
1 T mixed dried herbs
Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Mix the butter and herbs together.  Pour them over the crackers and toss to coat. Bake them 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until they are dry.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Season Opener!


Yesterday was the season opener game for the Dallas Cowboys.  My husband is a HUGE Cowboys fan.  He wanted a big spread of football food.  And, since he's such a great guy (you'll see how great in a minute), he get what he wants. He asked for Buffalo Wings four ways, potato skins, sausage balls, and my Firecracker Shrimp.  So I bought all the stuff and was ready to go.  Until I woke up yesterday morning. Somehow or another I pulled a muscle in my back.  I was down for the count.

But then my awesome husband did something awesome.  He made the food!  He got in the kitchen before the game and started prepping.  He anticipated all the components needed. He chopped ingredients and cooked bacon and shredded cheese and cleaned shrimp.  He did such a great job!  He kept telling me what a great sous chef he is, and he is right. Matter of fact, anytime I get in the kitchen, he is right there next to me helping out.  Whenever there is frying involved, he gets out the deep fryer and does all the work.  He truly is a great man.

Anywho, one of his favorite places to get wings is Wingstop. His new favorite flavor is Mango Habanero.  Our daughter's favorite is Garlic Parmesan.  Our son is a honey BBQ fan, and I like regular Buffalo style.  Having tried the Garlic Parmesan from Wingstop myself, I have to say that this tastes just like them.  I haven't tried the Mango Habanero from there, but these are pretty darn tasty.  And they're hot, but not deadly.  

Time to get out your fryer!  It's football season!

GARLIC PARMESAN WINGS
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 C real butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder (I used a bit more)
1 C grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the plastic bottle)
1 1/2 C flour
Buttermilk
Cajun seasoning (or just seasoned salt and pepper)
Peanut oil

Put the chicken pieces in a casserole pan.  Pour enough buttermilk over the chicken to cover.  Add in some Cajun seasoning (or seasoned salt & pepper) and stir.  Cover this and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Melt the butter and stir in the garlic powder and half of the Parmesan cheese.  Set aside.

Preheat the peanut oil to 350 degrees.  Mix the flour with more Cajun seasoning (or seasoned salt & pepper).  Stir. Dip the chicken into the flour, back into the buttermilk, and back into the flour.  Fry them 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and done through.  Drain them on a paper towel.  Put them into a bowl and pour the butter mixture over them.  Stir to coat.  Add in the remaining Parmesan cheese and a little black pepper and stir to coat.

MANGO HABANERO WINGS
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 can mango nectar (can be found in the Hispanic section in the grocery store)
1/4 C brown sugar
Habanero sauce (we used half of a bottle of Julio's brand)
1/4 C Frank's Buffalo wing sauce (or your favorite)
1/4 C butter
1 T garlic powder
1 1/2 C flour
Buttermilk
Cajun seasoning (or seasoned salt & pepper)
Peanut oil

Put the chicken pieces in a casserole pan.  Pour enough buttermilk over the chicken to cover.  Add in some Cajun seasoning (or seasoned salt & pepper) and stir.  Cover this and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Place the mango nectar, brown sugar, habanero sauce, butter, Frank's, and garlic powder in a small saucepot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat slightly.  Cook and whisk until reduced and thickened.  Set aside.

Preheat the peanut oil to 350 degrees.  Mix the flour with more Cajun seasoning (or seasoned salt & pepper).  Stir. Dip the chicken into the flour, back into the buttermilk, and back into the flour.  Fry them 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and done through.  Drain them on a paper towel.  Put them into a bowl and pour the mango mixture over them.  Stir to coat.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Amazing Rolls



Oh, my goodness!  These rolls truly are amazing.  This is the most successful I've ever been at creating soft bread.  I think I will use this recipe for all my breads and just change some flavors.  This is my Copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls.  Do they taste the same?  I'm not sure.  But I did the research and took what I thought were the best parts of other copycat versions, and this is what I came up with.  I made these two days ago, and they are still soft.  The trick here is a long rise time.  The dough itself is easy to throw together.  But being very patient on the rise time is key.  I'll even throw in a Cinnamon Butter recipe.  Enjoy!

COPYCAT TEXAS ROADHOUSE ROLLS
3 teaspoons highly active yeast (or approximately 1 packet plus a teaspoon from another packet)
1/2 C warm water, 110 to 115 degrees
2 C milk
3 T butter
7 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C honey
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
**Additional melted butter for brushing

NOTE:  If you want sweeter rolls, you can add an additional 1/4 C honey and 1/4 C sugar.

Put the yeast, sugar, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let it sit until frothy.  Place the milk and butter in a pot.  Melt the butter into the milk over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and let it cool until it is lukewarm.  Whisk the eggs into the milk.

Add 3 C of the flour, the salt, and honey into the mixing bowl. With the dough hook, combine the mixture.  Add in an additional 3 C flour one cup at a time.  The dough will be slightly sticky.  Put the dough into a very large greased bowl. Cover and let it rise in a warm place for an hour.

After the first rise, put the remaining 1 C flour on a large board.  Turn the dough out onto the flour and knead in as much flour as you can.  (Save the flour and the board for later.)  Return the dough to the bowl and cover.  Let it rise another hour.

After the second rise, return the dough to the floured board. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut the dough into squares, about 2 inches by 2 inches.  (NOTE:  I did mine much larger for sandwiches.  I got 16 large rolls.  If you do them smaller, you should get 2-3 dozen small rolls.)  Place the dough on greased sheet trays with room between them to grow.  You may use 2, maybe 3 trays.  Cover them and let them rise another hour.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes or until they are done and golden brown.  During the last five minutes of baking, you can brush some butter on them and return them to the oven to help brown.  When they come out of the oven, brush additional butter over the tops to get the shine on them and keep them soft.

CINNAMON BUTTER
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 T powdered sugar
1/4 C honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the above ingredients together and chill.