Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Favorites

I did not take this!

It's been awhile since I shared some new things with you from the SOCIAL NETWORKS. And the BLOGS. And all that stuff that just floats around in the webosphere. So here goes.

Shout Outs!

The first goes to Net.Savvy at  I don't know if anyone noticed my (just a little bit to big) pink buttons at the top of my sidebar. I kept trying to add them so that whoever wants can follow me on the respective sites. Took me one full day of getting close to adding them, but never getting them to work. Well, over at fiverr, which is a really cool site where they sell just about anything for $5- I found Net.Savvy who added them for-that's right-$5. Next time I m going straight there if I need any work done on this blog. It's amazing what people offer, so check it out.

Next- these cookies that we all fell in love with - Chocolate, chocolate, gobs that are quarter pounds of goodness

And these nutella s'mores bars cookies that kept disappearing when my father in law was here, I might add. Manservant and I looked at each other and we were like "Who ate them?" Well, that's OK, Paw.

And this pie. All six of us at Yom Kippur dinner raved about this pie. Sounds totally different. But is so uniquely good. You must give this a try.

And I saw another version here.

Grandmas-Who doesn't love grandmas? Take a look at this album of grandmas around the world and their cuisine. Gave me a few tears looking at some of them.

And since we travelled around the world with the grandmas-here is what you should pack courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Globetrot. Take note all of you heavy packers...If I ever get to travel again this is where I'm going to look before I pack.

I have always wanted one of these in my backyard.

If I could pack my bags and go somewhere this weekend, I would go here.

Someone says a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some that may be.

And if you feel like cooking this weekend I love this list from Saveur.

This morning found a cold chill in the air. At least 200 birds, that have yet to be identified, flocked over our house. They landed in our trees just starting to turn yellow. The high pitched sounds caught our attention as they circled around the house and landed again. And then in a giant, but silent sound, they were gone. It was magical. 

Happy Fall and Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Linguini with White Clam Sauce and Howard Johnson's

 Howard Johnson's is not a place I frequent very often. In fact, I'm not sure I've been to one since I was an under age teenager in Kankakee. For that matter, I'm not even sure Ho Jo's still exists. But when it did-well, let's just say it sufficed. I have good memories of Howard Johnson's.

It looked something like this!
(In case you have no idea what I'm talking about-Howard Johnson's was a motel chain that had a restaurant attached.) I remember that it had a strong turquoise and orange color palate and many natural materials, like vinyl, that covered the booths. When you walked in there was a large ice cream counter. Kankakee didn't have a lot of choices when it came to ice cream and my mom was an ice cream fanatic. I think when Baskin Robbins moved to town that about did poor Ho Jo's in. We would make a trip to get ice cream after certain school events; such as a play or a musical performance-those all called for ice cream, and away we would go to Ho Jo's. 

I never knew Ho Jo's had 28 flavors, too!
I also remember Ho Jo's because it stayed open late. After making it to high school and having friends that drove, we always seemed to need something to do. So, getting a second dinner was one way we would waste our money. It was at Ho Jo's, I believe, that I first had a clam roll.

I know it's hard to read, but 1st thing on the left hand side-Clam's! And the ice cream is in the middle!

Kankakee wasn't exactly on the water unless you count the river, and no clams or seafood were coming from that river. Perhaps a catfish, but I wouldn't have eaten it. And clams were not something my mom would have ever made so, yes, it must have been Howard Johnson's where I first had clams. I remember really liking the fried itsy bitsy clams that came on a soft white bun with  white tartar sauce. They were so sweet and crispy and totally satisfied for a second dinner, which was eaten about midnight, when you needed something to soak up all the beer in your tummy, before you made the drive home, snuck in the house and hoped your parents were sound asleep. Yeah, that's how I remember Ho Jo's.

And that is how I remember clams. I never had linguini with clam sauce until I left home. Mom didn't make any pasta except spaghetti that I remember. I had to rely on my friends' Italian mothers to introduce me to other versions of pasta. Their homes are where I first discovered lasagne and manicotti and ziti and  rigatoni and cannoli. I had no idea there was such a plethora of Italian food. I thought Italian food consisted of spaghetti and meatballs and pizza. Well, pasta and I soon became best friends, especially when I went off to college. There I made my first lasagna, really my first everything. And there I bought my first issue of Bon Appetit and started to cook for all my friends. I discovered that I enjoyed cooking and more importantly, I enjoyed eating.

OK. Finally, the linguini... When I graduated college, a family friend gave me several, very good, cookbooks. One was Marcella Hazan's, Classic Italian cookbook, 1976, and I have enjoyed that book ever since.

 It was that recipe I chose when I decided to make linguini with white clam sauce. Oh, mama mia. Never having lived where fresh clams are available, I love this recipe because it can be made with canned clams. I have made this for countless occasions because it is quick and easy and full of garlic and wine. And a bit of butter and cheese which is rarely used in Italian clam sauces,though Marcella would tell you that it adds smoothness and delicacy to the sauce.  I have made it for my kids, like forever! and I remember telling them it was chicken just like I told them calamari was chicken and they have loved both ever since. I don't remember when I told them that  the chicken was really clams, but that didn't faze them and as for calamari, well, who knows what a squid is-except my son who does have a private joke on this that I can't repeat. Here anyway.

So, it is time to post this recipe. My kids love it. Zoe especially tells me when I haven't posted what she wants. Yes I know, we still have to do goat cheese chile rellano peppers. I will get to them, I promise. But today, it is linguini. Mangia!

Linguini with White Clam Sauce
(Serves 4 in less than 1/2 an hour)
 Adapted from Marcella to use canned clams-horrors!
1 10 oz can baby clams
1 T chopped shallots or yellow onion
1/2 c olive oil
1 t chopped garlic
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 t dried hot pepper flakes
1/4 c dry white wine
1 T butter
2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb good linguine cooked al dente ( Nothing ruins a pasta dish more than overcooked pasta. Use a timer and cook according to package directions. Always salt your water to give the pasta flavor. And never rinse. Ever. Just drain.)
Put the shallots in a small pot with the oil and saute over medium high heat until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until lightly colored. Add the parsley and dried hot pepper flakes, stir three or four times, then add the wine. Boil until wine has reduced by about half. Estimate, please! Now if you want to stop here for a break you can. This will keep for a few hours if the kids are late from soccer practice.

Now strain the can of clams into a measuring cup, and save the clam juice. You should have about 2/3 of a cup. If there is more discard it. Add the juice to the sauce and boil until this is reduced by half.

Add the clams, turn them quickly in the hot sauce and turn off the heat. Add the butter and cheese and mix well. Taste and correct for salt. Usually this is good without extra salt.

Toss cooked pasta with sauce and serve immediately with extra cheese.

More Pasta Please:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cajun Potatoes and the Emmy's

  In my heart, I am a simple girl, though I am sure to others, I might appear complicated.Whatever. It's Monday and I'm not into quibbling, so let's not. Last night I watched the Emmy's. Now, keep in mind, I really hardly watch TV except when the Olympics are on, or a really good movie. I can get into some of the HBO series and the AKC kennel club dog show in Februrary and some of the Animal Planet shows make me cry. I love movies-but I strictly do not like horror or sci fi, or these crazy zombie things, even though I feel like a zombie half the time a a lot. Man servant watches all the news channels and that stock guy, the one that yells all the time and sounds like  baby.You know who I mean don't you?   But I think everyone on those shows yell and sound like babies. They need a time out.

He also likes Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones. I like Boardwalk Empire except when they start killing. I have enough people I want to kill in my head so I don't need to watch it on TV. I do watch the food channels-sometimes-but I get tired of Guy Fieri and Chopped. I love that Betty White show where the old people prank the young ones. I'm already thinking of mine. I love to laugh when I get the chance which doesn't come often enough. And on her show, I get all the jokes. Oh, I do love Anthony Bourdain, but who doesn't? He's a little tall for me, though. And last but not least, I watch the home channel. I love to see people's homes. I think it tells a lot about who they are or aren't. So to sum it all up - I prefer reading.

But last night I watched the Emmy's while cooking. So, I sort of watched the Emmy's. It started out pretty funny. I liked that. But I really watch the Emmy's and the Oscar's because I watch the dresses and the jewelry. I'm a pretty simple girl, but I love jewelry. I couldn't tell you who was in the dresses because I don't really know names, but I can tell you that I didn't see much I liked. 

I liked Kerry Washington's dress, which was gorgeous and perfect for a wedding. I liked Michelle Dockery's dress from the back, but not from the front. And she really needed a better bra. And Zooey Deschanel- loved that-so classic and simple and elegant, all at the same time. And I definitely hated the green dress worn by Mayim Bialik. My daughter used to love that color in high school and though she looks good in everything, that is just not a good color; for carpet or people. Ooh, I am so cruel. But it's Monday. And here is a link to all those dresses I was talking about and more.

But like I said...I am just a simple girl at heart. I'm still waiting to buy my first pair of stilettos or those really high heeled stacked shoes, but I would fall off, I just know it, and so I try to  hide my Merrill clogs under my too long jeans. After all, who looks down? But my daughter tells me kitten heels are making a comeback and since I laugh every time I hear that name, if I ever get to go out in public again, I just may have to look into those. (Breathe. What a long sentence.) So forget the shoes, it is the bag that makes the outfit.  And thanks to my mum, I have that. 

So, I'm a simple girl. Got that? And simple girls like potatoes. Make that love potatoes. And this simple, complicated girl could live on potatoes, which as a good thing in case she has to resort to that. But manservant likes protein and that is his problem. Potatoes can wear a lot of different disguises, just like some of the above people wearing those "glamorous gowns" and curtains. That's one reason I love potatoes. Dress 'em up. Dress'em down. Take'em out. Leave'em at home. Just eat'em. This recipe makes a savory, crispy potato with a soft and fluffy interior. I love these Cajun potatoes. Full of spice and everything nice-most definitely not like me, on a Monday!

Cajun Brabant Potatoes - Paul Prudhomme, Serves 4-6

2 1/2 qts water
2 T salt, in all
3 large white potatoes, unpeeled and scrubbed, about 10 oz each
1/4 t white pepper
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t black pepper
1/8 t cumin
1/8 t cayenne pepper
Canola oil for frying

Combine the 2 1/2 quarts of water with 1 1/2T of salt and bring to a rapid boil. Meanwhile, quarter the potatoes lengthwise, then cut them into 1 inch cubes. Add cubes to boiling water; cover and cook over high heat until just fork tender, about 7 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to cool.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 1/2T salt, and the rest of the seasonings. Mix well. Sprinkle seasoning mixture evenly over potatoes, while very gently tossing them, taking care not to break up chunks.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1" oil to 350. Fry potatoes in several batches, one layer at a time, so all can catch bottom heat, until golden brown on all sides, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Click Here for More Great Recipes:
Potatas Bravas
Sweet and Hot Green Onion Mustard
Hash Brown Spud Cups
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites
Red Chile and a Breakfast Sandwich

Friday, September 20, 2013

Boulder Ice Cream, White Chocolate Crumb, Hot Fudge, Sundae and A Giveaway

 Not that long ago, Boulder Ice Cream wrote to me and asked me if I would like some coupons for free ice cream. We are talking ice cream here, folks and I knew manservant would never forgive me if I turned down ice cream. Especially free ice cream.  I'd bought Boulder ice cream before because they have such great flavors and a cute little label. 

What I like about their ice cream is that they have such unique flavors. The Mexican chocolate has a hint of cinnamon which is perfect for after a heavy Mexican dinner. The green tea ice cream is great after an Asian dinner. Well, great after anything!

Boulder ice cream infuses their milk and cream with their special brand of  flavors and lets them sit awhile before they start churning. And they only churn in small batches-whatever that means! All I know is, the ice cream I've had, I would buy again. And so would manservant. He is the real ice cream eater in this house. Yes, he gave Boulder ice cream two thumbs up. 

Now I have to tell you, in general I am not an ice cream person. I'd rather have a cookie. Or a piece of cake with a glass of milk. But every now and then I have a craving for a giant hot fudge sundae. And hot fudge sundaes are overload enough. I like using plain, unadulterated ice cream for my sundaes and this is what Boulder ice cream is famous for. Their sweet cream is just that. No vanilla added. You get the creamy flavor of ice cream and then the toppings shine, too! Everyone is happy.

And I think that's what I like about ice cream the most. It's a happy food. So take advantage now and put some happiness in your life. Hopefully, Boulder ice cream can be found near you. They will send the winner of this giveaway three coupons to redeem for three pints of ice cream. Just leave me a comment and I will choose a lucky ice cream lover on Monday. 

Boulder Ice Cream, White Chocolate Crumb, Hot Fudge Sundae

Makes about 4

1 pint sweet cream ice cream
1 pint chocolate pudding ice cream

Hot Fudge Sauce - from Milk Bar

1 oz 60% dark chocolate chopped (They used 72%)
2 T cocoa powder
1/8 t kosher salt

1/4 c glucose or 2 T white corn syrup
2 T sugar
1/4 c heavy cream

Combine chopped chocolate, cocoa and salt in  small bowl.

Combine glucose or corn syrup, sugar and heavy cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and stir, while bringing to a boil over high heat. This happens pretty fast! The moment it boils, pour into the bowl holding the chocolate. Let sit for 1 full minute.

Slowly begin to whisk the mixture. Continue increasing the speed of your whisking every thirty seconds until the mixture is glossy and smooth. This will take 2-4 minutes and it does get thick and heavy. You can make this into hot fudge sauce by warming it in the microwave on low for thirty second increments for up to two minutes. (The recipe says this makes enough for four sundaes. I think they are kidding. Three at best, because I love chocolate. OK, you could do 4, but no licking the bowl.)

White Chocolate Milk Crumbs (from Milk Bar)

1/2 c nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 c flour
2 T cornstarch
2 T sugar
1/2 t kosher salt

4 T melted butter
1/4 c nonfat dry milk powder
3 oz melted white chocolate

Heat oven to 250.

Combine 1/2 c milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well to combine. Add melted butter and toss with a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. The crumbs should be sandy. Cool completely.

Now put cooled crumbs in a bowl and toss with the 1/4 c nonfat dry milk powder until well combined.

Pour melted white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are suffocated with white chocolate. Then toss every 5 minutes until the chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. DO NOT BURN YOUR WHITE CHOCOLATE. DO NOT ASK ME WHY I'M TELLING YOU THIS! 

You will love these. They are perfect as a topping for ice cream. Or cookies. Or in cookies. Or between cakes. Or just to eat.

To Assemble:

Put some crumbs in the bottom of a tall glass. Add a spoonful of fudge. Add a scoop of sweet cream Boulder ice cream. Add some crumbs. Add some hot fudge. Add a scoop of chocolate pudding ice cream. Add some hot fudge. Add some crumbs. Top with a cherry or a raspberry. Eat before it melts. 

You should now be in a very happy place! Like Boulder!

Other things that taste good with ice cream:

Chocolate Cherry Chocolate Crumb Cookies
Gingerbread Waffles
Strawberry Crepes
Chocolate Fudge Cake
Chocolate Lava Cake

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Potato Kugel (Ilse's One and Only, Not for Passover, No Eggs, To Die For Potato Kugel)

The above is a very long title because it is hard to put into words the truth about this potato kugel.  Honestly, I wish I knew the truth. Kugels, usually made from potatoes or noodles, are often served as a side dish on Shabbat. The word for kugel in German means sphere, globe or ball. Ilse's kugel is made in a round shape though most kugels now, whether noodle or potato are usually made in rectangular pans.

 Ilse was my grandfather's wife. I've given you several of her recipes before, but it is time to share this one. Ilse married my grandfather in, I believe, 1968. I was almost 11. They had a whirlwind six month courtship and married. They had been neighbors. Ilse had lost her husband and my Papa had lost his wife. Ilse was 47 and my Papa, 62. They both knew a lot about life and a lot about living.

 At the time some considered it scandalous, after all, a short courtship it was. But it wasn't long? before Ilse won over our hearts and our tummies. I don't really know how they met, other than they were neighbors, but I like to think that Ilse knocked on Papa's door with this kugel to give him. Or maybe it was her mandel bread or her spritz cookies, or her nut cake. Possibly her German pancake or maybe it was a steak. My Papa used to tell me that his favorite foods were a good steak, a nice scotch and Ilse's potato kugel. Yes, this man had his priorities straight.

I'm not sure when Ilse came to this country but I think it was when she was a young teenager.  I often imagine her and her red hair, in a long wool navy coat, carrying her cast iron black kugel pot, after she got off the train in dark, rainy, Chicago. The other hand might have been lugging a sewing machine, but of course, this is the movie version that plays in my head. In actuality, I really don't know, but I was told the kugel pot came with her. Ilse was a person to be believed, so I believe it. She was a woman of many talents; one of them being cooking and the other being sewing. She was a remarkable seamstress and knitter. She married her first husband at 18 and I think he died in his mid thirties. (I know many family members read this blog so it would be nice to have correct info!) She was married to my Papa longer than she was married to her first husband, that I know.

Fast forward about 25 years to the day I decided I had to get the nut cake and kugel recipes. Calling long distance from Denver to Kankakee with my pencil in hand-I was ready! Ilse was not one to give out her recipes. I think I'd been asking for at least 15 years. She always had an excuse. "It won't turn out the same, because you don't have the pot... I don't really know the measurements... You can't make this for Passover... It won't work in Denver... I've never written it down... I can't show you how fine to make the potatoes... I used to do it by hand..." On and on. I decided sometimes I'm a lot like Ilse; full of excuses, but somehow I usually get the job done. And that day, I did. I managed to get THE nut cake recipe and THE kugel. Thanks be to GOD!

Ilse was right about a lot of things; the most important being the kugel pot. She told me I needed the right pot and that a glass one wouldn't work. After cracking the glass one I owned in the oven, I can tell you, she was right. (Yes, I'm stubborn, too!) This recipe requires you to pour water onto the kugel halfway through the cooking process. OKay! I know that cold water poured into a hot glass dish can cause the glass to crack. I just didn't want to believe it. So after a few more years I decided I needed to buy a cast iron pot. I went to Ace is the Place, and picked up a very heavy, cast iron, Dutch oven, perfect for 5 minute bread and this kugel. Just not at the same time!

I don't remember the dimensions of Ilse's pot but I believe it was smaller in circumference than the one I bought, as I remember Ilse's kugel being taller than mine. But I was little then, so everything seemed bigger. Right?  This pot does work, though it will never be as seasoned as Ilse's pot, I'm sure. You see, after the kugel bakes for three hours, it must be flipped out of the pot, so that the golden exterior of the kugel is what you see.  This is my favorite part. The flipping, that is. But I will tell you that it is not easy with a big Dutch oven and a pot not seasoned as well as Ilse's.  And I am not sure where to find a smaller size cast iron pot. But, the kugel is worthy and it brings Ilse to me, whenever I bake it.

This is a kugel like no other. I have searched and searched and would love to hear if anyone knows of one like this. It requires two white bread rolls. Your guess on size is as good as mine, but I used dinner size rolls with a soft crust and interior. Not too soft, though! Hence the reason this is not a Passover kugel-because it contains bread. It also has no eggs, which is a unique feature, because all the kugels I ever see contain eggs. This kugel takes three hours to bake.  Yes, if you've ever baked a kugel, you can tell this one is different.

This kugel is light, even without the eggs. It is creamy and potatoey with hints of onions and a bit of pepper. The crust? OMG. THE CRUST! Crispy and crunchy and golden. This is what you get for baking for three hours- an out of the world potato crust. Filled with a mouthwatering, comforting interior of creamy potato goodness. It is best right out of the oven. Microwaving leftovers is good but not the same.

Ilse was one of a kind. I know not where she got her recipes. Was it her mother? I do not know. I know they are good, solid, recipes though and the kind that you remember years later. Heirlooms they are, and it is important to pass them on. They are gifts that keep on giving, so please accept this gift from me to you, in this new year. Ilse might not have given you the recipe, but I will. And I think if she knew, she'd be quite pleased. After all, it's always good to pass the love. 

Ilse's Potato Kugel (Serves 8-10)

6 Russets, ( a bit larger than your palm in length) peeled
1 large peeled onion
Salt, Freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, chicken boullion granules
2 soft, but not too soft, white bread rolls, soaked in water and squeezed dry
3 1/2 T crisco or chicken fat (schmaltz) or olive oil, plus more for greasing the pot

Preheat oven to 350 with 8-10" pot inside. You want the pot, good and hot, so the potatoes sizzle when you pour them in.

Cut your potatoes into chunks and let your food processor do the work. Using steel blade grind potatoes until they are not quite mush. They should still have some texture. 

Cut onion into chunks and chop it finely in food processor. Mix potatoes and onion together in large bowl. Stir in about 1 t of salt and 1/2 t of pepper, 1/4 t of garlic powder and 1/4 t of chicken granules. (Don't worry if you don't have the granules.) Then stir in the squeezed rolls and your choice of fat. If you have chicken fat, it gives a lot of flavor. Make sure everything is well distributed and mixed well. At this point, I always take a spoonful of the mixture and put it into a microwaveable bowl and cook for about 20 seconds. This is how I test for seasoning. You may need more salt or pepper. Whatever. Make it to your liking.

Take pot out of oven and grease well with crisco, oil or chicken fat. I use about 2 tablespoons. You don't want your kugel to stick. The more seasoned your pot gets, the less you will have to use.

Pour kugel mixture into hot pot. Bake uncovered at 350 for 90 minutes. Now pour 1 c water over kugel and bake for 90 more minutes.

Take your golden, dark brown, crispy kugel out of the oven. Take a platter and flip the kugel onto the platter so the bottom of the kugel is facing up. Slice into wedges and serve. Savor the moment. Savor the love.

More Ilse Recipes:  And yes, I still need the mandel bread. Does anyone have it?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chicken with Figs, Pumpkin and Red Wine or Yes, it's Fall

Yom Kippur has ended and officially my new year has begun.  Actually, this is a new year until January 1, when if this new year isn't going so right, I get a second chance at another new year. It's good being Jewish! You get to make resolutions twice, in case the first set didn't take! I hope I've been written down in the book of life, and I sincerely hope I haven't offended anyone this past year, and if so I apologize. Yes, once a year it is good to ask for forgiveness, as sometimes you just don't know who you might have rubbed the wrong way. In truth, I should have asked this about 20 days go, but I've been really slow in looking at dates lately. Forgive me. Time just passes too fast.

But this Yom Kippur, I finally got my act together and cooked some traditional food.  This week there are some really great leftovers in my fridge and hopefully some you will find interesting. The chicken dish I chose to make is perfect for fall. And a very wet fall it has been; uncommonly wet. 

Our weather has been so strange. It is not uncommon to have snow in September in Denver. This year though, no snow. Just rain. So much rain, I thought we'd have to build an ark. Luckily, we are fine, but many others aren't. Stories keep flooding out (no pun intended) from the news and there are lots of people needing help. In the past, we have had numerous  flooding in our basement mainly because we have big trees and their roots have collapsed our drain. Yes, we need to fix it, but unfortunately it isn't in the budget. But let me tell you, our floods, though a pain in the rear, are nothing like what many in our area are going through. I'm not sure how the news has covered it elsewhere, but there will be a lot of people needing a lot of help and there is nothing worse than dealing with water and mold and mud and sewage.  Be thankful for what you have. I'm not sure anyone saw this coming.

So like I said, our weather has felt like fall. Of course today we are finally back to normal, and it feels like the middle of summer. I guess that is good because maybe it will help things dry out around here. But Friday night, erev Yom Kippur, was when I made this chicken. I liked it and  our small group did too. It was full of fall flavors, hearty and rich with the taste of wine. Filling enough to hold us for our 25 hour fast - or maybe that was the potato kugel and dessert that did that. And yes, for those that are wondering it was the famous Omi's potato kugel, and yes, I will post it tomorrow. Just wanted you to lick your chops, because this is a kugel like no other, and it doesn't contain eggs.

But we are talking chicken here. I found this recipe in a new cookbook that came out this year called, The Modern Menu. It is billed as a kosher cookbook but it could easily be found in anyone's kitchen. This recipe stuck out for me. I liked the simplicity of it and the sound of the flavors. It contains figs, red wine, pumpkins, honey, and cinnamon. Now you must know my manservant is a lover of figs. 

I don't think I ate a fig until I met him. Some people have apple trees in their backyard; well, he had a fig tree. So figs are something I'm still not sure about. Seedy little devils they are, but full of luscious flavors and after all they are very biblical. Perfect for a traditional meal. And don't worry about the cinnamon. Or the honey. This is not a dish that is sweet; (though this is a good dish to symbolize a sweet year) it is just a dish where all the flavors seem to meld together, very peacefully. And we could use some peace somewhere!

 Pumpkin, on the other hand, is found in the New World.

 But crazily, it works well with figs. If you think about it, pumpkin by itself, doesn't have a lot of flavor, but it seems to take on the flavor of what it is cooked with. Therefore it makes a great base for a drool worthy sauce. I'll be making this dish again. It was good and hearty and perfect for a fall dinner. Easy and filling. Get the picture?

Now if you are looking for a good, one dish, chicken dinner you have found it. I have others on this blog, but this one will get fall off on the right foot. We could use it. Along with a good weather forecast. Maybe one that calls for peace. Happy New Year!

Chicken with Pumpkins, Figs and Honey
Serves 6-8

12 pieces skinless bone in chicken, white or dark (I used 4 boneless, skinless breasts that were big and cut them into two pieces and 4 chicken thighs with skin - I guess I'm not good at reading directions) seasoned with salt and pepper
2 peeled onions
2 cloves of garlic
Leaves from 6 sprigs of thyme (I used 1/2 t of dried thyme)
Needles from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 T olive oil
1 15 oz can plain pumpkin puree
1 c red wine
1/4 c honey
1 c dried Mission figs or 2 c fresh figs, stemmed (Substitute dried prunes or apricots if you prefer)
2 cracked cinnamon sticks (I buy these in the Mexican section of my grocery)
1 t ground allspice
Slivered almonds for garnish

Combine onions, garlic,thyme and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice. YOU DO NOT WANT MUSH!

Heat oil in skillet or Dutch oven on medium high heat. Add the onion mixture and saute until soft and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Push onion to side and add seasoned chicken in batches. Brown for several minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, whisk pumpkin puree, wine, honey figs, cinnamon, allspice and 1 1/2 c water. Pour over the chicken to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook until the chicken looks plump and is cooked through. This should take no longer than an hour and if you are just using white meat, probably only 45 minutes. If there is too much sauce, leave the lid off and let it cook down for a few minutes.

Discard the cinnamon sticks. Place chicken on a platter. Spoon sauce over. Sprinkle 
toasted almonds on top.

Other great fall dishes:
Pumpkin Brown Sugar Muffins
Sage Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad
Chicken Scarpariello
Microwave Caramel Corn
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Barbecued Shrimp and the Challah is Rising

BBQ Shrimp isn't made on the grill. It's made on the stove with lots of garlic and pepper and butter. This shrimp eats butter like I eat this shrimp. The best part is it's ready to eat in less than 20 minutes!

bbq shrimp

The challah dough is rising, the rugelach dough is in the fridge and the kadaif is thawing. Plus the chicken soup is in the freezer. And  now I'm giving you a recipe for spectacular, truly not kosher, shrimp. Yeah, it seems strange to me, too. I was raised in a small town with maybe 80 Jewish families, and no one that I know of kept kosher. My grandparents to my knowledge, never ate pork or shellfish and probably wouldn't have thought to mix milk or meat, but they didn't keep kosher. My grandfather became a butcher when he came to this country and began a grocery store, but he never slaughtered his own meat though he sure was known for it. Everyone loved my uncle and papa's stores and their meat was renown. That is what I know.

I don't know when I became aware of the concept of keeping kosher. I don't know when I had my first taste of lobster, but I know my mother loved it. Shrimp d'Jonghe or shrimp with garlic butter, was available at all the quaint restaurants on the Kankakee river, along with catfish, and frog legs. Maybe it was there? In any case, I never really understood the kosher concept until I became friendly with a family from Israel when we were both studying in Fort Collins. They adopted me in the second family sense, and I was very happy to be adopted. They are still a part of me and we have been close all these years. So, to say I feel a bit guilty about posting all these recipes that are totally treif, well, I do. But I am who I am and I eat what I eat and I will happily keep kosher when I am with them.

bbq shrimp

In the meantime I eat bottom feeders. Ouch. Truly, I've given up meat so why is it so tough to give up shrimp? Well, probably because they don't have pretty brown eyes that gaze at me soulfully. Enough already. This is an outstanding, truly rich, totally to die for, recipe. I made it when my in laws were here, because they brought me shrimp fresh from the Gulf. And well, I just had to do something with them.

I love Cajun cooking and my MIL is from Mississippi. Pre kid, the manservant and I used to visit The Big Easy and eat. And eat. AND EAT. Those were the good old days. This was when Paul Prudhomme was king and in my book, still is. In 1975 he brought back Commander's Palace to what it is today, and he was the one that hired Emeril to take his place when he opened K-Paul's. You know - that guy? If you read Paul's bio he sounds like quite a colorful character and one that probably would be a lot of fun to hang with. We ate at K-Pauls and we ate at Commanders. And we ate until we got on the plane to come home. Truthfully, if we hadn't come home I would have probably found myself in the gutter retching, because my tummy couldn't have held another bite. Rich food it is. 

Ever since those 8o's years I have cooked from Paul. I have one favorite cookbook of his, Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, published in 1984, that has many recipes that I truly adore. But bbq shrimp was one I still had yet to do and so I decided to make this shrimp. Though they are traditionally served in the shell, I'm not good with finger food. I don't like foods that need to be nibbled off the bone. I love cotton candy but I really don't like even getting my fingers dirty for that. So, I took the shells off and these were still good great. He has the original recipe on his website but I'm going to give it to you the way I did it. And as Julia Child believed, Paul does, too.  Yeah, butter is a key component to this dish.

I also love potatoes and had never made his potatoes, so I figured it was time. Yeah, rice is the tradition, but well, I love potatoes. They were mighty fine. Mighty fine. 

cajun potatoes

It was hard to share. And so it is that I find myself in the midst of cooking for Yom Kippur, the holiest of holidays and giving you a shrimp recipe. Please forgive me, G-d. But I did find out that Paul Prudhomme was asked to join the celebration of Jerusalem's 3000th birthday in 1996 and he was asked to make a kosher recipe for King David's feast. I feel redeemed. The problem is that his bio didn't say what he made. Well, I guess shrimp it wasn't.

bbq shrimp on bread

Barbecued Shrimp (serves 4)

1 lb shelled medium to large shrimp


1 t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1/t crushed red pepper
1/2 t dried thyme leaves
1/2 t dried rosemary leaves
1/8 t dried oregano leaves

1 stick plus 2 T butter - in all (Paul says 5)

1 1/2 t minced fresh garlic
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c shrimp stock (Using the shells from your shrimp, add 1 c water to them. Place in a pot and boil a few minutes until shells turn pink. Let steep while making recipe. Use only 1/2 c)
1/4 c beer at room temperature

1 small loaf of good French bread

Combine seasoning ingredients. In a large skillet, combine 1 stick of butter, garlic, Worcestershire and seasoning mix, over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the shrimp. Cook for two minutes, shaking the pan, not stirring, in a back and forth motion. Add remaining 2 T butter and the  1/2 c of stock. Cook and shake pan for 2 minutes. Add the beer and cook and shake the pan 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.

Place two slices of bread in center of plate. Spoon 1/4 of shrimp mixture and sauce on top.

I served this with Paul's potatoes and Emeril's peanut cole slaw. Oh my. 

BBQ Shrimp

Click here for more to eat:
Shrimp and Grits
Kings Cake
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka
Onion Lover's Challah
Boneless Rib Roast and Rice

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BBQ Shrimp isn't made on the grill. It's made on the stove with lots of garlic and pepper and butter. This shrimp eats butter like I eat this shrimp. The best part is it's ready to eat in less than 20 minutes!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Corn Bread Blueberry Bread Pudding or What To Do with Leftover Corn Bread

 After 18 days of non stop company, my head is full. Bursting, actually. And if you could call my daughter company, well yes it is a stretch, but when you get used to someone not being home for awhile, it gets tiring squeezing everything in. I'd have her move back in a nanosecond. I miss her and I hate the quiet in my house. A lot. Well, most of the time. Okay. It is good to have a break. 

Thinking of this made me realize that this is the first year my husband and I have been together full time, for about 6 years.  Maybe more. He traveled waaaay too much. And being away for that long makes marriage tough. And it makes it tough when you finally do get back together. Which is why he is now my man servant. He named himself this. So, no, he is no longer rabbit catcher; though he was quite good at it. He is now man servant. I told him I could use about 10 man servants. He said he could too. Feel free to apply.

When I last wrote, I was cooking nonstop for my in laws. They left the day after Zoe got home and since Zoe was here I've hardly cooked at all. No, we weren't going out to eat much but we had a lot of leftovers. I gave her the requisite steak dinner after she and her dad watched CU beat CSU, which I'm told just shouldn't have happened. And then we ate lots of nachos loaded with pulled pork when family friends came over on Labor Day to happy hour with us. We also had my favorite shrimp ceviche and Zoe made peach margaritas with basil that I should have snapped a picture of. Alas, there were none left.

We celebrated the Jewish New Year with pasta and burrata. It wasn't planned that way but sometimes things don't work out the way they are planned. The day of Rosh Hashonah was spent in the mountains at our Temple's summer camp. We prayed up there with good friends and about 100 other people, in our jeans, outside under the trees, with the sounds of the stream rushing in the background. We believe we are the  world's highest praying congregation at over 9,000 feet elevation. No one has heard otherwise.

 (And yes, we have heard the other joke.) Later we had roast chicken and chicken soup with to die for kreplach, at a friend's house. After that it was time to watch the Broncos trounce the Ravens and finish off the Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake I made Zoe. (More on that in another post.)

 Friday we had dinner at a new restaurant, the Populist, that was fun, but all three of us were  pretty tired.  It had been a full week of communing with each other and kicking off the Jewish new year. My expectations were that I would still write while Zoe was home, but my brain was somewhere else. Words failed me as I was nourished just spending the time with her. And now I am looking through food photos and family photos and trying to see where to begin again. 

Kind of fitting since that's what the Jewish New Year is all about. New beginnings. Wiping the slate clean. Fresh starts. Last year was a tough one. This year will be good. I feel it deep in my bones. These bones are so, so ready to jump for joy. I just hope my man servant can catch.

And now to corn bread. I love corn bread. I love corn. You know that, right? Never one to leave anything go to waste I experimented with corn bread bread pudding. No, I am not the first, after searching Google on what I thought was an original idea. Well, it is a brilliant idea, but I guess I wasn't the first to arrive at this. In any case, corn bread and blueberries are a perfect combo of flavors. This was a big hit with the in laws and my man servant.  I know you will like it, too. 

Corn Bread Bread Pudding with Blueberries and a Peach Topping
Serves 8
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Time to Make: About 15 minutes and 60-75 minutes to bake

1/2 c maple syrup
4 eggs
3 c 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 t salt
1/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 lbs corn bread leftovers (About 3-4 c of cubed corn bread)
3/4 c blueberries
2 T brown sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 300.

Butter an 8' round souffle dish. Place corn bread cubes and blueberries in dish.

Whisk first 5 ingredients together. Pour over bread and blueberries. Sprinkle with 2 T brown sugar. You can add cinnamon, too if you like. Feel free to sub in different fruits. And don't be afraid to add more liquid. The creamier the better. Make sure your bread is covered with liquid. Let liquid soak in about 5-10 minutes.

Bake at 300 for 60-75 minutes. Serve warm with peach sauce or  just serve alone with whipped or ice cream.

Peach Sauce
2 T butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1 T Jack Daniels
1/4 t cinnamon
3 sliced peaches

Melt butter and brown sugar in a saute pan on stove. Stir in the Jack or leave out. Add cinnamon. Stir in peaches and cook for a few minutes until peaches are softened enough to your liking. Put a few spoonfuls over each serving of bread pudding and top with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Our peaches have been superb this year!

Click here for more New Year Faves:
My Mother's Brisket
Onion Lover's Twist
Chopped Liver
Mocha Nut Cake

George is so happy when Zoe is home.