Friday, June 11, 2010

Say Cheese!

A few weekends ago I tried a recipe for Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits that is adapted from a cookbook by James Villas called Pig: King of the Southern Table. When something calls for bacon, extra sharp cheddar, and lard -- it cannot be a bad thing. You had me at bacon.

I love cheese. Cheese is my friend. I love cheese of many variety, but in a recipe like this one it's best to use the old stand-by, extra sharp cheddar. I don't bother using anything but extra sharp -- you might as well be using colby.

I would have taken a picture of the bacon, but my "assistant" slightly overcooked it. Definitely not one for the "family album, but it did not affect the flavor of the biscuits.

The biscuits were small, but I think this is due to the amount of cheese used in the recipe. When I was mixing the dough I felt like there was more cheese than dough. Again, not a bad thing, but I was worried how they would cook through with all that cheese.
Overall the biscuits were good, but the recipe made almost 4 dozen and we ended up giving some away. We scrambled up some eggs to serve with the biscuits and made mini biscuit sandwiches, which were tasty. Tastier: slather some butter on these bad boys....mmmmmm.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Amazing crepes

Last fall, I went on a trip to Tunisia with my boyfriend. He and I had the most wonderful crepe for dessert at one of the restaurants at the medina. It was even better than the crepe we had in Paris on our one day layover.

I have always wanted to make crepes myself, but since that trip it's become a mission. Finally, this weekend I had the time to experiment with crepes. Ironically, after I planned a crepe dinner on Sunday, Alton Brown featured crepe making on his Food Network show, Good Eats. I ended up using his crepe recipe and even followed the instruction of refrigerating the batter for an hour. My first crepe looked something like a rooster, and that was not even on purpose.

I did not have a rake, but I had a mini measuring cup that worked perfect to measure out the 1 oz needed for each crepe. I used an 8 inch non-stick saute pan coated with a little butter, no need for a crepe maker in this recipe. I even flipped one over in the pan myself on the first try, but then decided I did not want to risk anymore crepes. At the end of the batch, I had a nice big stack of crepes waiting to be filled with sweetness.

Literally, it was dessert for dinner. I made a mini fill-your-own-crepe station on the kitchen table made of things we had laying around in the kitchen and a few home made sauces.

From top to bottom: toasted sliced almonds, powdered sugar, home made peanut butter sauce,
blackberries, fresh whipped cream, and raspberry sauce. I also had vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate sauce, and lemon curd available.

Voted the best combinations:

Blackberries with whipped cream and raspberry sauce

Peanut butter sauce with chocolate sauce

Peanut butter sauce with raspberry sauce (tastes like a pb&j!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Acquired Taste to Love

Brussel sprouts are an acquired taste, either you love them or you can leave them. I happen to be the only person in my household that loves them, lucky me -- I can cook them however I want.

I was feeling a creative and wanted to experiment with different textures, tastes, and shapes. I ended up throwing in what caught my eye and ended up with a combination of crunchy, soft, smooth and exceptionally tasty.

I bought a new point and shoot camera last week after being without one for several months. I am so grateful that I had one at this point because I think the presentation on this side dish is pretty colorful.

Brussel Sprouts with Mushrooms and Pistachios

Serves: 2

12 brussel sprouts
4 button mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 T dry roasted, unsalted pistachio nutmeats
2T bacon fat
1 pinch Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Prepare brussel sprouts by chopping off dried ends and slicing in half. Place in a bowl of water to rinse off any dirt. Wash and slice mushrooms.

Heat bacon fat on Med heat until melted. Add brussel sprouts and saute for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and onions and saute until onions are browned and sprouts to desired tenderness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss in pistachio nutmeats. Saute for an additional 2 minutes. Serve warm.

Chefs Notes: I cooked my sprouts approximately 15 minutes, I enjoy them on the crunchy side

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Full of beans

The first time I make something traditional I have this expectation that the dish just has to be great tasting. I have proved myself wrong from time to time, such as the first time making chicken cacciatore, but when I am right -- wow, I am right!

Sunday we had the traditional ham for dinner and I decided that I was going to use the ham bone for bean soup. My mother made bean soup several times growing up and I figured she would be the best resource for what to throw into the pot -- besides the beans and ham, of course. Mom has many recipes in her head, so when I called her at work on Monday she quickly recited what she uses in her bean soup, sans the amounts. Call me crazy, but I decide I am going to be adventurous and figure out my own measurements. Whatever I did worked -- this was the best darn bean soup I've ever had.

I also wanted to make a bread product to go with the soup and found an easy recipe for Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls on the Whole Foods website. Two reasons I am elated to have found this recipe:

1. Whole Foods has a recipe site - why am I just now discovering this?
2. The rolls were a hit out of the ballpark!

I opted for the egg wash on the rolls which I highly recommend for a shiny, golden brown look. I also did something slightly unconventional for the rising processes. The directions called for a "warm spot" to let the dough rise. The sun was out that day, but it was slightly cool out so I did not have an ideal place for the dough in the kitchen. I thought about turning on the dryer or maybe the oven for a bit for a warm place, but then my boyfriend gave me an excellent suggestion: my car! The sun had been shining in my car all morning, so along with the cool air -- the temperature was perfect!

Bean Soup - A mother and daughter combo recipe

1 pkg Trader Joe's 15 bean mix, soaked overnight in water
1 medium onion, chopped
5 celery stalks with tips, chopped
1/2 tsp peppercorns
2 bayleaves


1/4 tsp Kosher salt (yes, I realize this is an oxymoron)
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Place ham bone in 6 quart pot along with presoaked beans, onions, celery, peppercorns, bayleaves. Fill pot with water to about 1 inch from lip of pot. Heat burner on high until mixture starts to bubble. Turn down to medium low and cook for at least 2 hours. Remove ham bone from soup and cut up any remaining ham that is left on the bone. Return ham to pot and season with salt and garlic salt if necessary. Enjoy!

PS. I can't wait to get my new camera so I can share pictures again! Coming soon!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jumpin Jambalaya!

I am coining a new cuisine term that is a perfect description for the following recipe for Jumpin Jambalaya. I am calling it, "Left-Over Fusion". Definition: Transforming leftovers into new, scrumptious dishes.

I started out with leftover chicken italian sausage and Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley that was basically unseasoned, and ended up with a spicy jambalaya that is full of flavor! I will definitely make this again! Of course, you can use any type of rice and sausage you wish, but here is the remaining ingredients and recipe:

Jumpin Jambalaya

Leftovers used:

3 chicken italian sausages, cooked and sliced

4 cups cooked Brown Rice Medley

2 T bacon fat

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips

2 1/2 cups sliced onions, cut into strips

1/4 c chopped fresh Italian parsley

4 c water

2 T Lipton Onion Soup Mix

1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp Tabasco

In a 12" skillet, cook the onions until browned with the bacon fat on medium heat. Add parsley and bell pepper and cook an additional 10 minutes. Add water, soup mix, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add sausages, rice, and Tabasco. Stir until liquid is mostly absorbed into rice.

Approximately 4 servings.

Chef's notes: Not for wimps. I also pulled out some of the sauce and sauteed shrimp separately since my dinner companion does not like shrimp. Excellent!