Fiesta Hollandaise

So, I woke up this morning wanting something a little more bold in flavors.  I happen to have some green chilies and green onions left from last nights dinner creation. Being one to not throw things like that out I considered making scrambled eggs or an omelet to satisfy my morning hunger.  The trouble is what I REALLY wanted was Eggs Benedict.  So, I thought hmmmm….. what about adding some extra kicked up flavor to the Hollandaise…and I did, with fantastic results!  This Hollandaise turned out so well that I am adding it to my recipe collection under the heading “Must Make Often”.  The combination of the nutty flavor from the wheat bread, the soft cooked eggs with oozing yolk, the lemony goodness of the Hollandaise with the fresh and spicy flavors from the onions and chilies was a definite hit.  I will be making this again – really soon.

Fiesta Hollandaise

3 egg yolks

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 C. cold, unsalted butter cut into 10-12 slices

2 Tbsp. fire roasted, diced green chilies (from a can, save the rest for another dish)

2 green onions, chopped

In a small sauce pan combine egg yolks and lemon juice with half of the cold butter.  With a whisk over low heat, melt the butter (don’t stop whisking!  We aren’t making scrambled eggs here!).  Slowly add one “pat” of butter at a time until all the butter is melted, then add chilies and onions.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Tips:

This recipe is GREAT on scrambled egg burritos, chicken, and egg dishes.  I am now thinking I need to try Deviled Eggs with chilies and green onions as well… Oh!  How about egg salad on bagels with green onions, chilies and tomatoes….  Something tells me I better get back to the kitchen!  😉

Happy Eating!

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Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 9:51 AM  Leave a Comment  

Piccata ~ Just add Pork, Chicken or Veal

I love Piccata.  This simple, light meal is great when you have a lighter appetite or on summer nights when you just want something refreshing to eat for dinner.  The Lemon Scented Pasta is a great accompaniment for this dish (recipe will follow).  Serve with a green salad and Viola!  dinner is served!

Piccata

2-4 Thin cut, boneless medallions (pork, chicken breast, or veal)

1 egg mixed with 2 Tbsp. water to make an egg wash

Flour for dredging

2 Tbsp. oil for frying

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 C. White wine or cream sherry

1/4 C. Lemon juice

4 Tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. dried Thyme

1-2 Tbsp. capers (get the brined capers, not the salted capers)

3 Green onions, chopped (set aside 1 Tbsp.)

Salt and Pepper to taste

lemon slices for garnish

Lightly salt and pepper meat medallions.  Heat oil in skillet (I like cast iron, but stainless steel would be a close second.  Don’t use non stick cookware if you can avoid it.  We want a nice golden crust on the meat).  Dip medallions in egg wash, then dredge in flour and place in preheated oil.  Fry on both sides until cooked through (time will vary depending on the thickness of the medallions as well as choice of meat).  Remove medallions from pan and add the chopped garlic, cook and stir for 1 minute.  Add wine, lemon juice, and thyme  to skillet and cook down until reduced by half.  Stir in butter, and capers.  Return meat medallions to pan and heat through.  Serve over Lemon Scented Pasta.  Garnish with the reserved green onion and lemon slices.

Lemon Scented Pasta

zest from 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

8 oz. cooked pasta (Angel hair, spaghetti, or fettuccine), reserve some of the pasta water

(1 Tbsp. reserved green onion)

Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Remove from water with a pasta fork or slotted spoon and toss with lemon zest, juice, and olive oil.  Add enough pasta water one spoon at a time until pasta is loose and well coated.  Top with Piccata and garnish with the reserved green onions and lemon slices.

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 12:13 PM  Comments (2)  

My Favorite Guacamole

Ok, so I know this isn’t the best picture, but I hope it’s enough to make you salivate for this tasty treat!  (We had already started to dip into this when I remembered I needed a photo… Oops!)  This recipe is from Darin Molnar and he gets a request to make it EVERY (that is not an exaggeration) weekend.  When I have this beautiful green dip sitting in front of me, there is a good chance I will be full by the time dinner is ready.  Once I have a bite, I can’t help myself, the Guacamole Monster takes over and I can’t stop eating it!

Guacamole

3 large, ripe avocados

Juice of 1-2 limes

4 green onions, chopped, white part only (but save the green stems for garnish!)

1/4-1/2  jalapeno, chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)

salt and white pepper to taste (Darin say’s the white pepper is key and is his secret ingredient…so this is just between us.  Don’t tell anybody! LOL)

1 bunch cilantro

1 tomato, chopped

remaining green onion stems

Combine avocados, lime juice, and green onions in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Add jalapeno, salt, and pepper and blend again.  Place in a serving bowl and top with cilantro, tomato, and the green parts of the green onion.  Serve with chips, on tacos, over eggs, or use as a condiment on deli meat sandwiches!

Tip:

Avocados are known to oxidize and turn brown.  The lime juice in this recipe needs to be added to the avocados right after cutting to keep the bright green color.  This recipe is not designed to keep and look pretty in the fridge.  It will taste fine, but will turn brown with time.  If you wish to keep this in the fridge for a couple of days, add a little sour cream to the recipe before refrigerating, it will keep longer this way.

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 9:05 AM  Comments (4)  

Gyoza (Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings)

This is Julie (not a Gyoza) she is my neighbor.  I am fortunate to live in a neighborhood with some amazing cooks, Julie is one of them.  She has graciously shared a recipe for me to pass on to all of you.  Anyone who has been fortunate enough to taste any of Julie’s concoctions surly knows this beautiful lady can cook!  Thank you Julie for sharing this recipe!

Gyoza Recipe (Japanese pan fried dumplings)

4 cups, loosely packed, minced Napa cabbage (use the frilly leafy half of the cabbage)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
9 ounces ground pork
1/2 tablespoon grated ginger (I freeze ginger and hand grate it frozen, less mess and just as good a flavor)
2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon green onion (green part only), minced
2 teaspoon aka miso paste (red/dark miso paste) (optional)
1 teaspoon of teriyaki sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
40 dumpling wrappers (if you cannot find the round ones you can get the wonton wrappers in your friendly produce dept. and cut the corners off)

For cooking the dumplings:
1 tablespoon sesame oil (do not substitute this gives it the authentic flavor)
1/2 cup water

Dipping Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
Several drops of chili oil or sesame oil (optional)

1. Toss the minced cabbage with the salt in a large bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes. Using both hands, or a cheese cloth, squeeze the cabbage firmly to drain and discard the excess water (prevent your dumplings from becoming mushy) and then transfer the cabbage to a deep bowl. Add the pork, ginger, garlic, green onion, miso, sesame oil, crushed red pepper, and sugar. Mix everything together with your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Using your hands, scoop the mixture into a ball, lift it, and then throw it back into the bowl. Repeat several times to tenderize the meat and help the mixture stick together.

2. Have a small bowl of cold water ready. Lay a dumpling wrapper on a dry work surface, and place a heaping teaspoon of the meat mixture in the center of the wrapper. With a fingertip moistened with water, trace a line along half of the edge of the round wrapper. Fold the wrapper over to enclose the filling, and pinch the wrapper in the center to seal the edges together at that spot. Holding the filled half-circle in the left hand, pleat the top of the wrapper from the middle out, pressing it to the flat edge of the wrapper at the back. Set aside the stuffed dumpling with the pleated-wrapper edge up. Repeat to make 40 dumplings in all.

3. In a large skillet with a tight fitting lid, heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Carefully place as many of the dumplings that can fit without touching in the skillet with the pleated-wrapper edge up. Cook the dumplings for 3 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom. Check the progress by lifting 1 or 2 dumplings by their pleated edge.

4. Once the bottoms are nicely browned, use the skillet lid to shield yourself and carefully pour in 1/4 cup of the water. When the hissing and splattering die down, drizzle in 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame oil around the edge of the skillet. Place the lid on the skillet to trap in the moisture and then quickly lower the heat to keep the liquid at a bare simmer.

5. Check the dumplings after 2 minutes. When the wrappers appear slightly translucent and the meat feels firm when pressed lightly with a spoon, remove the lid and raise the heat slightly. Continue to cook until all the water has evaporated and only the oil remains (about 2 minutes). Once you hear a sizzling sound, shake the skillet. The dumplings should slide about. If they seem to stick to the skillet, move the skillet away from the stove and replace the lid for a moment. Remove the dumplings from the skillet with a broad flexible spatula. If you’d like, flip them over so that the seared surface faces up. Cook the remaining dumplings the same way. Serve the dumplings hot accompanied by the dipping sauce.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, make the dipping sauce by mixing the soy sauce and rice vinegar together in a small bowl. Pour the sauce into a small serving pitcher or distribute among individual dipping dishes.

(This is a Gyoza)

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 8:52 AM  Comments (5)  

Hollandaise Heaven

I love Hollandaise.  This is the sauce that absolutely makes Eggs Benedict the gourmet treat that it is.  This is a creamy, silky, luxuriously decadent sauce.  Hollandaise is great on fish, chicken, eggs, and vegetables.  If you have never tried to make your own, you are missing out!  I know a lot of people are afraid to make this delicate sauce, it can “break” (separate) if not handled with a little tender loving care and patience when making.  This is one of five culinary “mother sauces” and a great add to ones cooking repertoire.  This particular recipe is from the great Alton Brown.  This is a great base recipe that you can make slight variations on to create a unique sauce that suits the cooking application you intend to use it for.

3 Egg Yolks

1 tsp. Water

1/4 tsp. sugar

12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) of butter cut into 12 cubes (be sure to use unsalted butter)

1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

2 tsp. FRESHLY squeezed lemon juice, don’t even think about substituting the stuff out of a bottle on this one!!

a dash of cayenne pepper, or rosemary, dill, basil, parsley, thyme, or any other spice or herb that delights your senses

Make a baine-marie by placing a pyrex or other heat resistant mixing bowl (or smaller sauce pan) in the top of a sauce pan containing about 1 inch of water.  Heat to a low simmer, you do not want the water to boil.  This is a GENTLE cooking method, we are not aiming for scrambled eggs.  😉

Combine egg yolks and water in a mixing bowl and whisk for about 1-2 minutes.  The yolks should become a light yellow color.  Add the sugar and whisk for another 30 seconds.

Pour into the warm pan over simmering water.  Whisk for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and gradually add cold butter one Tbsp. at a time until incorporated, whisking after each addition to melt the butter.  If needed you can occasionally return the sauce back over the simmering water to warm enough to melt the butter.

Add the salt, lemon juice and desired spices and herbs, stir to combine.  Serve immediately, or as Alton suggests, keep warm in a thermos until serving time.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 11:56 AM  Comments (5)  

Smokey BBQ Sauce with Mopping Sauce

BBQ Sauce is one of those condiments that are easy to create, personalize, and make from home.  Once you start making your own you won’t ever want to purchase the commercial stuff again!  It’s that good.  This BBQ Sauce is especially great on pork and chicken; while the mopping sauce tenderizes the meat and keeps it moist.  I suggest searing the meat to keep all the juices in then continue to cook low and slow, brushing with the mopping sauce as needed.  The BBQ sauce should be applied at the end of cooking so that the sugars have time to caramelize but not burn, which would be icky.

BBQ Sauce:

1 C. Ketchup

1 C. Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 C. Brown Sugar

1/4 C. Molasses

1 1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke (Omit this if you are using a smoker box or smoke flavored charcoal on the grill)

1/2 tsp. Salt

rounded 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp. Onion Powder

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until desired consistency.    See!  Easy and delicious!

Mopping Sauce:

3/4 C. White Vinegar

3/4 C. Lemon Juice

4 dashes favorite Hot Sauce

4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce

1 Small Onion, Minced

salt and pepper

2-3 C. Water

Bring all ingredients to a boil.  Use to baste meats on the smoker box or grill.

 

Published in: on March 16, 2011 at 9:19 AM  Comments (2)  

Perfectly Roasted Chicken

This chicken recipe is inspired by Ina Garten.  Roasting chicken is so easy and the chicken so flavorful that I usually roast two chickens at a time.  One chicken becomes that nights dinner; the second chicken I pick the meat off the bones and put in the freezer for quick meals later.  I don’t like to waste any thing when I cook, so I also use the bones to make a delicious and flavorful chicken stock that I can also freeze for later use.  The pan drippings from this recipe make excellent pan gravy to drizzle over the chicken meat or mashed potatoes.

Preheat oven to 425*

2 (5-6 pounds each) chickens

Large bunch of fresh thyme (or 2 Tbsp. dried thyme)

2 Lemons, quartered

2 Whole heads of garlic, sliced in half legnthwise

2 Large onions, sliced

1/4-1/2 C. Melted butter

1/2  Small package of baby carrots

2 Bulbs of fennel, sliced

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry.  In a large roasting pan place the carrots, onions, fennel and 20 sprigs of thyme (or approximately 1 Tbsp. dried).  Toss salt and pepper in with the veggies and drizzle with olive oil.  Liberally salt and pepper insides of the chickens.  Stuff cavity with lemon, garlic, and thyme.  Brush melted butter over the outsides of the chicken and place on top of veggies in roasting pan.  Roast chicken uncovered for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until joints move easily and juices run clear (chicken should be 160* when removed from the oven, it will continue to cook a little while it is resting).  Remove chicken from roasting pan to a large platter and let rest under a foil tent for about 20 minutes.  Remove caramelized veggies to a serving bowl and cover with foil to keep warm until serving.

Pan Gravy:

2 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. butter (or fat from pan drippings)

1 C. pan drippings, fat skimmed off (if you don’t have enough liquid you can use prepared chicken stock)

In a skillet add fat (butter or fat from pan drippings) and cook until flour is completely incorporated and smooth.  Add pan drippings slowly and whisk until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.  I like to add a little ground sage and nutmeg to my gravy.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

 

 

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 12:05 PM  Comments (5)  

To Weigh or Not to Weigh, That is the Question…

Have you ever been perusing the cookbook section at your local bookstore looking for the latest and greatest to read in the bathtub?  I do.  Ok, I’m a little odd in that I not only read cookbooks from cover to cover, but yes, I do actually read them while relaxing in a hot bubble bath.  Uhem…. back to the subject…

If you look at a lot of professional cookbooks, especially in the baking section, you will notice that a lot of them measure by weight instead of by standard measuring equipment.  Let us take a brief minute to discuss my all time favorite kitchen collectible; measuring cups and spoons.  Yup, I love ’em.  I can never have enough of the little beauties.  With so many beautiful measuring cups and spoons available, why in the world would any chef or cook want to measure by weight you ask?  Because weight is a true method of measurement.  When it comes to liquid ingredients measure cups work (IF you use a LIQUID measuring cup, liquid and dry measuring cups are different for a reason…and not just because it is easier to pour the liquids from the measuring cups with the use of a spout).  When it comes to dry ingredients things can become a little tricky when accuracy is key to turning out a dish, especially in baking.

Dry goods weigh differently than liquid, so a fluid ounce will not weigh the same as two tablespoons of flour.  Also in standard American measuring equipment there can be slight variations in the actual sizes.  Adding to the problem with accurate measurement is home cooks will measure differently.  For example flour, if you spoon your flour into the measuring cup lightly then level it off the flour would weigh less than if you scoop your flour into the measuring cup and then level it off.  Chances are pretty good when using the scooping method the flour will weigh more than the spoon method (which, by the way, is the preferred method for measuring flour).  While it may be a little daunting at first, measuring ingredients will ensure accurate, even results in recipes every time.  So next time you pick up a cookbook that uses weight measurements, don’t put it back on the shelf just because measuring by weight is unfamiliar.  Pick yourself up a small scale and give those recipes a try, you just might be amazed by the results.

Happy Cooking!

Chef’s Tip:

For ease when using a scale to measure food, place the container you intend to use to hold your ingredients on the scale and then tare (zero) the scale so that the scale does not count the weight of your container, just the substance you are actually weighing.

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 9:43 AM  Leave a Comment  

Master White Bread Recipe

With this simple white bread recipe you can easily make bread, cinnamon rolls or cinnamon swirl bread (which can then be used for overnight french toast), and sweet rolls.  This bread recipe a great recipe to start out with when trying your hand at yeast breads.  This recipe comes from a compiled cookbook that was put together by my Dad’s church and was given to me as a gift years ago.  The woman who submitted the recipe was Nola McOmie.  I have adapted this recipe and use it to make other breads.

Preheat oven to 400*

4 C. Warm water, about 115*

4 Tbsp. Yeast

4 tsp. Salt

8 Tbsp. Sugar

4 Tbsp. Shortening

7-8 C. Bread flour (you can use all purpose flour here as well, the loaves will be slightly heavier but taste just as good)

Melted butter (if desired)

Dissolve the yeast into 1 C. water and let proof for 5-10 minutes.  Mix 3 C. water, salt, sugar, and shortening together.  Add 4 C. of flour, one cup at a time.  Add the yeast and remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Cut the dough into four pieces and let stand for 15 minutes.  Pound each piece of dough for 1 minute then form into loaves.  Place in greased bread pans and let rise for 30 minutes.  Bake at 400* until golden brown.  Brush the tops of loaves with melted butter for a soft crust and pretty shine.

Options:

Cinnamon Rolls or Cinnamon Swirl Bread:

After making a soft dough, roll the dough out into a long rectangle.  Smother in melted butter and top with sugar, cinnamon (add brown sugar for a little caramel richness).  Roll the rectangle into a log shape and cut to desired size (bread pan size or cinnamon rolls).  For cinnamon swirl bread, rise and bake according to directions.  For cinnamon rolls rise and bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Rolls:

After making a soft dough, divide dough into rolls and pound each piece for 1 minute.  Shape into desired shape (balls, twists, what ever roll shape you like) and bake for about 15 minutes.  Top with melted butter.

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 10:01 AM  Comments (2)  

Pancetta, Basil, and Tomato Bites

These tasty little nibbles are a food of love.  Expect to get your hands dirty, and plan ahead, these are best when the ingredients have had a little time to get friendly with each other in the refrigerator.

Start by slicing a sliver of the tops of 16-20 cherry tomatoes, then scoop out the insides (I like to save the tops and pulp to add to tomato sauces for a fresh flavor).

For the stuffing:

3 oz. Pancetta (Italian bacon.  You can find this in the deli section of most supermarkets by the salami.  Pancetta is not smoked like traditional American bacon.)

1/2 C. Mayonaise

4 green onions, chopped

3 Tbsp. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh Basil

Fry the Pancetta and crumble fine.  Add all ingredients for stuffing and stir.  With a little spoon (a measuring spoon works well), stuff the filling into each tomato (this is messy; but remember you get to lick your fingers when your finished, and trust me, it’s worth it! LOL).  Place on a dish and cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for several hours.  This appetizer can be made a day ahead which makes it convenient when entertaining.  Anything you can make ahead of time will free up your time to spend with your guests.

~Enjoy!

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 2:10 PM  Comments (1)