Monday, September 29, 2014

Salted Honey Rose Tart


I won't let another year go by without feeding you this luscious tart. It sings with the flavor of a rose honey custard, which is offset by a glittering blanket of the finest pink salt. Oh, let my heart be still. This is a tart of exquisite taste. She only deserves to be served with the finest silver, upon the floral heirloom china. But lest one not have the finest china or the polished silver, this tart still aims to please. She's just as content on an old tin plate in a meadow filled with wildflowers.

I discovered her last year. She was frolicking on the internet in a post about bees and honey. A glorious post with glorious photographs and I immediately claimed her for my files. I baked her and served her and received rave reviews. So much so that I baked her again this year and she still was a hit.



Roses are one of my favorite flowers, (I prefer pink, thank you) though I never liked rose flavoring in food. Rose water is a very common flavoring in Persian and Middle Eastern desserts. I think the first time I tasted rosewater in a dessert was in a rice pudding. It just wasn't my thing. I thought I was eating perfume.But I'm older now and much more adventurous and something made me want to try this. Perhaps it was the glorious photos or perhaps it was that I am always looking for honey desserts in the fall.



I guarantee that this will be a hit, but if you are afraid of that dreadful rose, just substitute vanilla, or orange or even coffee. But I implore you, to please give rose a try. The world will sing your praises in a chorus of, "This is so good. What is that I'm tasting?", to which you will respond, "A good cook never gives away her secrets." OR just maybe, you can tell them where you found the recipe and direct them to my blog. I love new readers!

I will also tell you that this tart's crust is flaky and tender and as sweet as could be, when it comes to rolling her out. I admit to not being the best pastry maker, but this recipe makes it easy. I put it to good use in other ways and just set the rose flavoring aside on those occasions. Go ahead. After all, a rose is a rose until it becomes a tart!



Salted Honey Rose Tart - Adventures in Cooking
Serves 12 - this is one rich tart! Makes 1 10" tart
Time to Make: About 30 minutes active, 45 minutes baking
Ingredients:
Crust
2 1/4 c flour
2 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1 c butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 T rosewater
4-7 T of ice water (I put ice cubes in a glass of water)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter. The bigger the butter chunks, the more flakiness in your crust. Obviously, you don't want to leave them huge, but it is OK to see the butter when you roll it out. Now stir in the rosewater and slowly start adding one tablespoon of ice water while mixing. Use your hands to form this into a ball. I roll out on a floured piece of plastic wrap and also cover the dough with floured plastic wrap while I am rolling. Don't yell, but it works for me. Like I said, I am not an expert at pie dough. Roll it until it is a few inches bigger than your tart pan. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and place the dough in the tart pan. Now peel off the bottom layer of wrap. Don't worry if the dough tears, it is easy to patch together. Chill in fridge, while making filling.

Filling Ingredients:
3/4 c sugar
3 T cornmeal
1/4 t salt
1/2 c melted butter
2 t rosewater
2 t white vinegar
1/4 t salt
3/4 c honey
3 eggs
1/2 c heavy cream

1-3 t of Himalayan fine pink salt, but others work well, too

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine sugar, cornmeal and melted butter in a medium sized bowl. Mix together rosewater, vinegar,salt and honey. Add to sugar mixture. Beat eggs with cream and blend well. No need to overdue it. Fold into the mixture. Pour into tart shell. 

Bake for about 45 minutes. Cool for two hours at room temperature. Sprinkle top with salt. Serve! When you remove it from the oven the top should be set and not jiggly, though when you cut it, the inside will be rich and custardy.

Please note: This is best served on the day it is made.



Other good things to try:
Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Tart
Fudge Brownies with Cookie Dough Filling
Browned Butter Cream Cheese Rugelach
Lemon Rose Madeleines







Friday, September 26, 2014

Lemon Garlic Spatchcock Roasted Chicken with an Intoxicating Scent!


What smells better than a roasted chicken? Well, maybe a grilled chicken, but this is a post on roast chicken, so forget about the grilled chicken. But keep in mind that the sense of smell plays a huge part in determining what we put in our mouths. Over 70% of what we taste is really determined by how something smells. I can tell you this. Walking into a house, especially after a long week, and smelling a chicken roasting is almost indescribable. Not only does the air feel warmer and the house more comforting, the aroma of a roast chicken is highly intoxicating. Well, at least in my honest opinion. When my in laws were visiting I made this roast chicken and let me tell you...the scent of this chicken drifting through the windows, brought them quickly in from the RV. 

Roast chicken is good any time of year, but Fall seems to be the time to start putting that oven back into high gear. Nights are cooler and warming up the kitchen isn't a bad idea. I love roast chicken and there are a myriad of ways to make it. Everyone seems to have their own favorite way, but I'll share with you my latest method. First it is important to know what you want out of your chickie. I prefer mine to have a crisp skin and also be moist at the same time. Flavor is important to me, so I love to use a lot of seasoning. I like to marinate my bird for as long as possible so the herbs and spices can seep into the chicken. Generally this is determined by how far I plan ahead, which usually isn't far enough!

One way I accomplish keeping my bird crisp is by spatchcocking my chicken. It's easily done if you have kitchen shears, which is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen.

As an aside story... My grandma died soon after Manservant and I announced our engagement, which was some thirty years ago. I received many things, like a whole house full of things, that were hers. (Many of these are still in use today-such as her couch-which really does need to be replaced. I am hoping!) Well, my grandma was a great cook and had a kitchen full of great stuff. Her Kitchen Aid mixer is still in use and is definitely a gift that keeps on giving. I also inherited numerous kitchen tools that I didn't have a clue as to their use. But my favorite tool was her kitchen shears. My mother for some reason never had a pair while I was growing up.


Sticking to my point, I must say that kitchen shears are a must, if not just for opening the packaging that surrounds so many products these days. Well, I kept Grandma's shears until the paint was peeling off and they spit into two blades. At that point, I figured I couldn't tape them together and it was time for some new ones, which my mother bought me for Hanukkah that year. Shears are a must, people! You would find them on a list of my favorite kitchen tools, if I ever decided to make a list! They are great for slicing pizza and flat bread. They are great for cutting chicken into serving pieces. They are really great for spatchcocking. What a word!

So get ready to spatchcock! You could use a sharp heavy knife or cleaver, but I love my shears. Now why are we doing this? Well, several reasons. One is that it makes the chicken lie flat with the skin facing up. This gives the bird a crispy skin which is perfection in my book. The second reason to spatchcock is that I think the bird cooks a bit quicker and third-it is so much easier to cut into serving pieces when it is ready. Much easier to carve without a backbone. (I'm sure there is a hidden message in that last sentence.)

Roast chicken is an awesome dish to make for the weekend. Just remember to start the seasoning and prep in the morning and then it will be ready to pop in the oven later in the day. Honestly, everyone should know how to make a roast chicken and scramble an egg. Both of those would be on my list of dishes that everyone should know how to cook. But we know how good I am at making lists, right?

Do it now. Make this chicken. But don't leave the windows open unless you want to make your neighbors envious. On the other hand, maybe you do!


Lemon Garlic Spatchcock Roasted Chicken (Jewish Holiday Cooking)
Time to Prep: 20 minutes
Time to Roast: About 75-90 minutes
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
1 3 1/2 to 4 lb chicken, preferably fresh
1 1/2 T chopped garlic
2 T chopped fresh thyme or 4 t dried
3 T fresh lemon juice
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 T Olive Oil
2 lemons
1/2 t brown sugar
Chopped Green onions for garnish

Directions:
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Remove giblets and all visible fat. I always cut off the tail, though I know some people eat it. Get to know your chicken by loosening its skin. Slide your hands underneath the breast and carefully working your way to its legs. Now turn the bird over and using your shears, start on one side of the backbone and cut up the side of it to the other side. Now do the same on the other side of the backbone. Discard the backbone. Flatten the bird out a bit by pressing a bit on the breast bone.

In a food processor, puree the garlic, the thyme, the lemon juice and 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t pepper. (If you want you can also puree this with about 4 T butter. This makes a very rich chicken, but it isn't necessary. Just good.) Now lift up the skin that you loosened and rub this into the breast and legs. Rub the remaining mixture over the outside of the chicken on both sides. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper. I  love lots of seasoning on chicken. It is hard to over season, but be careful of over salting. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to overnight.

About 30 minutes, before you are ready to bake the chicken, remove from fridge and bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400.

Use a 12" cast iron skillet rubbed with 1 T of oil.  Thinly slice the lemons, discarding the seeds. Arrange the slices evenly on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Turn the heat to medium high and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, skin side down and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Slide a wooden spoon under the chicken to prevent it from sticking to the lemons. Peek under the chicken to make sure your chicken is turning a nice golden brown.

Place the skillet, chicken side still down, in the preheated oven. Roast for thirty minutes. Leaving the layer of lemons on the bottom of the skillet, if possible, turn the chicken skin side up. Continue roasting for 30-55 minutes longer, until the juices run clear , when the thigh is pierced with a skewer or a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg registers 170 degrees F.

If the chicken needs additional crisping, run it under the broiler for a few minutes, though this doesn't happen to me. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes and then using your shears slice this big bird into serving pieces. I usually quarter it to serve 4, but you can also slice the breast into slices and serve up to 6.

More good chicken recipes:
Chicken Vesuvio
Chicken Scapariello
Chicken with Figs, Pumpkin and Red Wine
Saffron Baked Chicken








Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Halvah Stuffed Baked Apples and a Sweet Year


Today I'm keeping this short and sweet, with sweet being the important word here. You see tonight is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. All Jewish holidays go from sunset to sunset. I don't know how much you know about the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, so I'll fill you in just a teensy bit. Rosh Hashanah translates to "head of the year". It is believed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve and the completion of the creation of the world. "Rosh Hashanah thus emphasizes the special relationship between G‑d and humanity: our dependence upon G‑d as our creator and sustainer, and G‑d’s dependence upon us as the ones who make His presence known and felt in His world." (from Chabad.org) 

On Rosh Hashanah, the  book of judgement is opened and it is in that book that a decree of judgment is given. The prayer goes a bit like this. "Who shall live and who shall die, Who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched, who shall fall and who should rise...and so on and so on. On Yom Kippur, (celebrated ten days after the new year and also called the Day of Atonement) the book is closed, though we have until Sukkot for one last chance. It is in these ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that we must make good or ask for forgiveness for anything we may have done that was hurtful or wrong in this past year and try to ensure our good fate for the future. We also symbolically "cast our sins" into a rushing body of water and say prayers accordingly.




During the Rosh Hashanah service we also blow the shofar. If you've ever tried blowing a shofar...well, it is not easy. And we hear 100 blasts over the two days of the new year. The shofar is a sound that awakens us and calls us to repent over what may have gone wrong over this last year. 




For me this is a cleansing holiday. It is a time for reflection and new beginnings. It's a time to look back over the year behind us and reflect on how we could do better in the coming year. For more years than not we have had the pleasure of celebrating Rosh Hashanah in the mountains at our temple's summer camp. The service is small and full of the sounds of music and children and usually dogs. We celebrate in our jeans at over 10,000 feet, while the aspens turn golden around us, the pines rise above us, and the stream rushes before us. When the weather is good, it is truly glorious and when the weather is bad, it is pretty glorious too. There is nothing that says "God" more to me than Mother Nature. And looking at our deck, well, Fall is certainly here!




Though I usually welcome the new year with happiness, and gratefulness that we made it through another year intact, this year I am feeling a bit bittersweet. Alex is celebrating in Shanghai at a Chabad  House, Zoe is in Philly and Manservant is in Stockholm at a synagogue there. I miss my family, and holidays are meant for family. I know we will be with each other in spirit, but it just isn't the same without them.




Just as a Jewish holiday isn't complete without family, it most certainly wouldn't be complete without food. Traditional foods for Rosh Hashanah includes food made with honey. Honey symbolizes something sweet for a sweet new year. I made a great honey cake this year and some honey halvah stuffed baked apples. I also made a  salted honey rose tart that was so good last year, that I made it again this year. Our challah bread is shaped in a circle to symbolize the fact that life is a circle. It never stops.


I'm giving you this recipe for baked apples. We had so many in our yard this year that I know the coming year will be great, judging by the abundance of apples. My freezer is overflowing with goodness in the form of applesauce! My mother often baked "Weight Watcher" apples on one of our numerous diets growing up. I remember she used diet black cherry soda in them. They were good, but these are better. Filled with halvah, a confection made from sesame seeds; it is oh so popular in Israel. It comes in every flavor and is displayed in blocks on a counter, just like in a candy store. One selects a flavor and just like fudge, a slice is cut off, wrapped and given to you. Halvah is an acquired taste. It is sweet, a bit flaky and pasty, and oily at the same time. It is made from tahini which is equivalent to our peanut butter. You can find halvah at most health food stores. I used chocolate, which made these apples truly decadent.


One of my favorite songs that I sing for the new year but couldn't find on You Tube is "Apples and honey, it may sound funny, they will make your new year sweet and sunny, apples and honey." So..you will have to eat the apples without the song. Enjoy them. And if you are celebrating the New Year, I wish you health, wealth and happiness. Along with a good strong dose of peace. And even if you aren't, I wish you the same.


Have a sweet year, my friends!





Halvah Stuffed Baked Apples - Jewish Holiday Cooking

Serves 3
Time to Prepare: About 20 minutes active
Ingredients:
2 c unsweetened apple juice/cider
1 pinch of cardamom
1 pinch of salt
2 T packed brown sugar
3 Fuji, Empire or Cortland apples
1/3 c plain, or vanilla halvah
3 T toasted chopped walnuts
1/4 c honey
1/4 t cinnamon
3 t mild oil
1 1/2 t pomegranate molasses or regular molasses

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Make the cider base. Put the juice, cardamom and a pinch of salt into a wide heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook uncovered, over high heat until mixture is reduced to about 1/2 a cup. Stir in brown sugar, until it is dissolved and set aside.

Pare off a 1/2" strip from bottom and top of each apple. Starting at the stem end use an apple corer or sharp paring knife to cut out the seeds and core of the apple being careful not to cut through bottom. Then use the paring knife to cut shallow slits lengthwise through the skin of each apple at 1 1/2' intervals. 


In a medium bowl mash the halvah. Stir in honey, nuts and cinnamon until well combined.


Stand the apples in a shallow baking dish. Place 1 t of oil and 1/2 t of molasses into the hollow center of each apple. Spoon the halvah mixture into the cored center, too. Spoon the cider baste all over the apples. 


Bake, basting every 10 minutes or so, until the apples are tender enough to be pricked with a fork. This takes about 45 minutes. Do not let them become mushy.


Spoon the pan juices over the apples again before serving. These may be served warm, at room temperature or chilled. I dolloped mine with some honey yogurt, but feel free to use whipped cream or ice cream.


Other foods for the holiday:

Chopped Liver
Sage Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad
My Mother's Brisket
Potato Kugel
Martha Mervis's Coffee Cake
Onion Lover's Twist
Maple Glazed Challah Rolls
Not My Mama's Kasha Varnishkas




Monday, September 22, 2014

Cowboy Biscuits, Whipped Cream Biscuits, and Green Chile Sage Butter


Hey Pardner! Carol over at Wild Goose Tea asked me if I had any good biscuit or cornbread recipes. I told her I'd fix her up. Bet she doesn't know what cow pattie this came from. But no matter. As head cook at this ranch, we aim to please. So I say, with my six shooter aimed right at ya, "These are the best damn biscuits this side of the Mississippi." Even if they might have Southern origins. And remember only a fool argues with a mule, a skunk, or a cook.


So unsaddle your horse, get out your favorite cast iron skillet, turn on a little cowboy music and don't talk with your mouth full. And don't worry about bitin' off more than you can chew, your mouth is bigger than you think. Good thing to remember when you get ready to shove one of these tender, warm, flaky biscuits in your pie hole. Watch that butter dripping out the side of your mouth, please!



Now get out a big bowl to put that flour in and something to whip that cream with. Darn tootin'! These biscuits have no butter, just whipped cream. Easy and simple to make, this is what you do with heavy cream when you don't get that ice cream recipe made, that you planned to do two weeks ago. Get goin' ya all, 'cause I know you're going to be all over this like a chicken on a June bug!


So just butter my butt and call me biscuit! Let's get bakin'! 




The Original Cream Biscuit (from A World of Breads by Dolores Casella)
Makes: 8-9 good sized biscuits
Time: 30 minutes including baking time
Ingredients:
2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c heavy cream, whipped
A little more heavy cream, not whipped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon in the whipped cream and fold in thoroughly. You may need more heavy cream to hold the mixture together. Just spoon in one tablespoon of cream at a time, until the dough comes together in a big ball. use your hands to help the process along.

Turn out on to a floured surface and knead by folding mixture a few times. Form into a rectangle about 8 x 5 and 3/4" thick. This is if you want big, soft, tender biscuits. Cut into squares or use a round cookie cutter to shape.  If you choose to use a cookie cutter, keep your scraps to make more biscuits. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or into a cast iron skillet. I like the dough to touch so that the sides of the biscuit stay soft. If you like a crunchier, more golden biscuit, pat dough into a bigger, thinner rectangle and leave room between the dough when you place it on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.


Cowboy Biscuits (Abbe Odenwalder)

1 1/2 c flour
 T baking powder
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 t salt
2 T sugar
1 egg
1 c heavy cream, whipped
3 T chopped green onions
1 T chopped fresh sage
1/2 c sharp cheddar or jalapeno jack
1/2 c chopped green chilies or Hatch Chilies
2 T cream to help bind the mixture

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients together. Stir in egg. Fold in whipped cream. Stir in green onions, sage, cheese and chilies. Use extra cream to bind mixture.

Turn out on to a floured surface and knead by folding mixture a few times. Form into a rectangle about 8 x 5 and 3/4" thick. This is if you want big, soft, tender, flaky biscuits. Cut into squares or use a round cookie cutter to shape. If you choose to use a cookie cutter, keep your scraps to make more biscuits. Place on an ungreased baking sheet or into a cast iron skillet. I like the rounds or squares to touch so that the sides of the biscuit stay soft.  If you like a crunchier, more golden biscuit, pat dough into a bigger, thinner rectangle and leave room between the dough, when you place it on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.


Green Chile  Sage Honey Butter

1 stick softened butter
2 T honey
2 t chopped sage
1/4 c chopped green chilies or Hatch chilies

Whip butter together in a bowl with honey. Stir in sage and chilies. This is good stuff!


A few more:

Hashbrown Spud Cups
Green Posole
Sloppy Jose
Carne Asada
Elote Corn in a Bowl
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Cornbread

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Salad with Balsamic Maple Vinaigrette and Manservant's Diet


I'm sure I've mentioned that it seems we are always on diets. I know it doesn't look like it, but it's true. Lately Manservant has been really into the 4 Hour Body. if you aren't familiar with it, it is actually quite interesting. Not that I don't think Tim Ferris is a bit over the top, but some of his theories are based in science. Now I was never very good at science and I'm not very good at diets, but Manservant is really into it. I admit that I'm not quite so engaged, but I'll do most anything to help the cause. It was only yesterday I found myself, driving him to the airport in a mad rush, as he sat in the passenger seat, throwing at least 8 kinds of vitamins and supplements into plastic containers to take with him to Sweden. I only hope they don't confiscate them at the airport.


Basically this is a lean protein diet with beans, some vegetables and no fruit or white stuff. The best part, according to Manservant, is that he gets one free day a week to eat and drink anything. He says it is for resetting the thermostat.  One problem, out of many, that I have with this diet, besides the fact that it is a diet-though it is supposed to be a lifestyle- is that it once I go off, it is hard to go back. Manservant loves it though, but I think he might be resetting the thermostat a little too often!


His latest gimmick that he actually won in a Jeopardy type contest in Las Vegas, is one of those new fitness bracelets. He felt it actually made him "fit in" on his trip to California. Whatever. The good news is that it tracks his steps and buzzes him when he is sitting to long. It even tracks his sleep which he is horrible at. Anyway, I now know how many steps it is to the "Watch for Coyotes" sign so if I do that 4 times a day I've got my 10,000 steps in. And if I mow the lawn, I get even more, plus I suppose brownie points.




This salad came about because I go so tired of watching Manservant open a can of beans and pour them over spinach and top them with a fried egg. I know it is good for him, but it just didn't seem appetizing to me. Oh and he tops all that with salsa. Well, this salad might not be quite on the diet, but it is pretty good, diet or not. Though I am naming this a breakfast salad, it would be good any time of day. Manservant loved it, but he did ask for one more egg on his, which was easily accomplished.


My breakfast salad consists of leafy green spinach which is big on this diet, and because Manservant hates kale, that's a good thing. I then load it up with grilled bacon (yes, on the grill, grilled bacon) which gives it a great extra smoky taste. Add buratta and a fried egg, some bright red tomatoes and pretty chive flowers, but those are totally optional. Seems like a lot of protein to me. I'm not sure the balsamic maple vinaigrette is diet worthy, but I can guarantee that it would make any salad a hit. It is awesome stuff. I happen to use this great maple balsamic vinegar that I buy at the EVOO store in downtown Littleton. I go through it so quickly that now I need more. And no, I'm not being paid to say this, but I just love their stuff. I'd love one of everything!




So whether you wear one of those bracelets or not, this salad will work in any diet. It keeps you full for a long while. And you could even eat it for breakfast!




Bacon and Egg Breakfast Salad with Balsamic Maple Vinaigrette

Serves 2
Time to make: About 20 minutes
Ingredients:
Maple Balsamic Dressing:
3 pressed or finely minced garlic cloves
1/2 t whole grain mustard
2 T maple balsamic vinegar or 2 T balsamic vinegar and 2 t maple syrup
2 grinds of black pepper
3 T olive oil

1 c chopped tomatoes

1 T finely chopped onion
1 t olive oil
1 grind black pepper
1 T chopped basil
1 pinch salt

4 slices thick bacon, grilled or cooked to your liking


1/2 c chive flowers (Totally optional!)

1 t olive oil
1/4 t salt

2 fried eggs

6 c fresh washed spinach
1 buratta ball, split into two

Directions:

For dressing:
Combine 3 mashed garlic cloves, mustard, vinegar and pepper in a small measuring cup. Whisk well. Slowly whisk in 3 T olive oil until emulsified. Add salt to taste. Set aside.

Combine tomatoes with onions, olive oil, pepper, basil and salt. Set aside.


To grill bacon: I place bacon strips on a paper plate, set on a glass plate, and cover with another paper plate and render out the fat for 3 minutes in the microwave.Then take the strips of bacon and place them on a grill that has been preheated to high. After placing on grill turn grill to low. Cook the strips, watching carefully and turning every 45 seconds or so. This should take about 4 or 5 minutes, but I like my bacon crisp!


Toss the chive flowers with the oil and salt. Place them on a grill rack and cook them on low until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.


Cook the fried eggs to your liking.

Place spinach in a bowl and toss with a few tablespoons of dressing or more if you want. Top with some tomatoes and buratta. Top the buratta with a fried egg. Garnish with bacon and chive flowers. Drizzle with more dressing if needed. Serve with toast if desired!

More to Try:

Red Chile and a Breakfast Sandwich
Cajun Potatoes
Teriyaki Shrimp
Tuscan Beans and Potatoes
Chocolate Lava Cake

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pimento Less, Cheese; Filled with Peppadews, and #Hatch Chilies


I never knew something that tastes so good could photograph so bad. I'm sorry. But I'm not sorry for what I made.This pimento less cheese that looks like pimento cheese but is really peppadew cheese, is might tasty. Is it the Hatch chiles that I bought fresh roasted over on Federal by the bushel? (Yes, they took a long time to peel and seed, but hopefully they will get us through the winter. I know a half bushel didn't make it last year, so we upped our game.) Perhaps it's the chilies. Perhaps it is the peppadews. Perhaps it is the garlic and the jalapeno cheese mixed with sharp Cheddar. I couldn't tell you. I can tell you that it is good.

I never had pimento cheese when I was young. I remember seeing it in a plastic container bought from the grocery and well, it just never looked that good. In fact, it didn't look good to me at all, but I didn't eat much cheese growing up. American was in our home and I never took to it, so cheese and I weren't really friends for a long while. Then I married a guy from Texas and started hearing about pimento cheese, but I still stayed away. 


Well, to make things short, which you know I'm not very good at, I decided to reach out and see what all the fuss was about. It began at Costco where they have their own version, that is quite good. But you always had to choose three tubs of any variety and I didn't want to do that. Too much dangerous stuff to have around, so I decided to make my own and this is what happened.





Being the season of Hatch chilies I decided to use them. Well, they really use me, because they know I am devoted to them. After all, I seek them out every year, without fail and it just wouldn't be Fall without my chilies. Many years ago we drove down to Taos or Santa Fe and got them there, but those good days are behind us. Now we only make it to Federal Blvd. It will have to do. At least we usually follow it up with a Vietnamese lunch, so I can't complain.

But back to pimento less cheese. Other than making the cheese red, I couldn't ever figure out the addition of pimentos. I could never really taste them, though they did make the cheese look pretty. So, I added peppadews. I'm very happy with that choice. They lend a spice and a sweetness that I really enjoy. Plus they are from South Africa and I love South Africa. And I miss South Africa, but don't get me started...


So anyway... this pimento less, peppadew cheese with green chilies is good stuff. When this stuff is around it is easily plopped on a tortilla for a quick and awesome quesadilla. Or it is plopped on a burger to make a great cheese burger, to which I always add more green chilies. It is great mixed into eggs, or as is on a cracker, chips of any variety and don't get me started on the thought of grilled cheese. With bacon. My mind is wandering. Which it has done a lot of lately...


Please accept my apologies on the photos, though really they are a whole lot better than when I started taking photos, and enjoy this cheese. With a beer. With a margarita. With bacon. The thought is killing me!




Pimento Less Cheese; Filled with Peppadews and #Hatch Chilies


Yield: About two cups


Ingredients:

8 oz grated Cheddar
8 oz grated jalapeno jack
1 c chopped green chilies or 1-2 4 oz cans (to your liking) or Hatch chilies
1/4 c chopped minced onion
1/2 c chopped, drained peppadews
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t garlic powder
2 t Worcestershire
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (but if you want more spice leave some seeds in)
1/2 to 3/4 c mayonnaise

Directions:

Throw it all in a bowl. Mix it up. Let it sit as long as you can to let the flavors meld together. Eat. You can start the diet tomorrow!



More to Try:

Corn and Green Chili Quesadillas
OMG BLT
Green Chile
Corn and Green Chile Chowder
Coconut Rum Tres Leches Cake
Green Chile Egg Souffle




Monday, September 8, 2014

Not My Mama's Kasha Varnishkes


These really aren't my Mama's kasha varnishkes, because I don't even remember my Mama making kasha varnishkes. I'm not even sure I knew what kasha varnishkes were when I was growing up. But I know what they are now. Should I share? I think I will, because I'm guessing not many know. Kasha varnishkes are buckwheat groats toasted until crunchy, mixed with pretty bow tie noodles and golden caramelized onions or heavenly rich mushrooms. Or both. They are often served for a typical Shabbat dinner with a roast chicken or brisket. My mom always made a kugel which means we never ate this growing up. At least that I can remember.

My friend makes this a lot. So I finally decided to give it a try. My in laws liked it and they aren't even Jewish. I mean they do eat anything I cook, but really these are good. I promise. I mean how can anything with dainty bow tie noodles be bad? I always wondered how little Jewish women in tiny European shtetls got their hands on bow tie noodles. And I wonder are bow tie noodles an American thing? Answers, please? Wikipedia really didn't have much. My guess is that they used traditional egg noodles and mixed those in, but I wasn't there. And I don't know. And I grew up in a small town where I was never invited to eat kasha varnishkes with anyone.


So say kasha varnishkes out loud. Go ahead. Do it. It makes such a pretty sh sound, doesn't it? I love these two words. I love to see them written also. I'm a bit odd, I know. So now that we've covered that, just what makes these kasha varniskes different than what my mother never made? Two words. Truffle oil. Not schmaltz. Truffle oil. This is some thing that many of you have I bet and never figured out how to use. Besides popcorn and eggs and French fries, you can safely use it on anything with mushrooms and pasta. I promise.

Kasha is another word for buckwheat groats that have been roasted. It is also a word for cereal as kasha is a seed and not a grain. One hundred years ago Russia was the leading producer of buckwheat. It is easily grown without fertilizer and was considered a staple of a peasant's diet. It came to the US with immigrants and was often used as a filling in cabbage rolls, blintzes, knishes and kreplach. It is gluten free and low on the glycemic index. 

Whatever. You now know that it is fun to say and it is good for you. Plus you can use your truffle oil in this dish, so you know it has to be good. Whether you came from the Old Country or not, this is a dish that deserves a higher ranking. 


Not My Mama's Kasha Varnishkes
Serves: 4-6
Time:  About 45 minutes including baking

Ingredients:
2 T olive oil
4 c  sliced mushrooms, all kinds if available
1 c chopped onions
1 T minced garlic
1 T Truffle oil
Salt/Pepper

1 c kasha or roasted buckwheat groats
1 egg
2 c chicken broth (fresh, bouillon or canned low sodium) 

2 c bow tie pasta, cooked

1 -2 more T of truffle oil when incorporating mixture
2 Scallions, chopped

Directions:
Heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook over medium heat until soft.  Turn heat up to medium high and add sliced mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms release their liquid; about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and stir until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are turning golden brown; about 7 minutes. Stir in 1 T truffle oil and salt and lots of pepper; at least three or four grinds. Remove from skillet.

Now prepare your kasha. In a medium bowl, mix the dry kasha with an egg until each kernel is coated. (This is done so that your kasha doesn't form a big soggy mess. I've seen crunchy bread crumbs also used, but kasha is better for you!) Measure your broth into a large glass measuring cup and heat in microwave on high until broth begins to simmer. While this is heating, place your egg coated kasha into a deep pot and toast over medium heat, turning and breaking up the kasha until the egg begins to dry, and the grains separate, about 3 minutes. You should smell it. It will smell nutty, but don't let it burn. Add the hot broth, then cover and simmer over very low heat until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile bring salted water to a boil and cook your bow ties. Cook very al dente because you will be putting this in the oven where it will cook more. Preheat oven to 350.

In a lightly greased, (I used truffle oil) 3 quart shallow casserole, combine the kasha with the drained bow ties and the mushroom mixture. Adjust salt and pepper accordingly. Drizzle with truffle oil and make sure this mixture is moist. You can also use schmaltz or butter. Just remember you want this moist as you don't want a dry kasha. You could also stir in a bit more chicken broth if necessary. Place in oven and heat until hot, about 15 minutes. Garnish with scallions.



And the winner of the Whole Foods giveaway is Amanda Sakovitz!
Please contact me with your address by the end of the week!

Other great dishes:
Saffron Baked Chicken
Za'atar Chicken Flatbreads
Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Saffron Lime Aioli
Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Tart


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Scottish, British Scones or Bannocks, But Surely Not Biscuits!


A scone is just a scone; unless it is a bannock; which is another name for a scone; unless that scone is a biscuit. In which case, it has no egg and just a touch of sugar. Alas. Then a biscuit is just a cousin of the poor scone or bannock. Or maybe it is the scone, that is the poor cousin. I am confused. What I am not confused about is the quest I've always been on to achieve that perfect biscuit or scone. Everyone thinks they have it, but then everyone's idea of beauty is often different than mine. It's what makes us human right?

And so it is that this Jewish girl grew up on Bisquick. Bisquick biscuits. Bisquick pancakes. And Bisquick shortcakes. And if anyone knew about scones when I was growing up, there probably would have been Bisquick scones. Really there is nothing wrong with Bisquick. But Bisquick was never part of my quest in my search for the perfect biscuit or scone.

I've always like the Starbucks maple nut scone. But it never compared to the truly British scone (which is really Scottish), that I ate while having tea with my two gorgeous children, after a long day sightseeing in London. I remember my daughter decided she needed to see Wimbledon, but Manservant and Alex and I traipsed through the Victoria and Albert Museum and then met daughter back at Harrods (you don't think she'd miss shopping), before ditching Manservant, while the three of us went for tea at the Capital Hotel, just down the street. I can't quite figure out what makes tea so expensive, but after having a busy day, there is nothing quite so civilized as taking it down a notch, and being served tea in a lovely dining room. It is definitely something I could get used to.


And so we had scones. Perfect, beautiful, currant filled scones. With jam. And clotted cream. And that lovely embroidered fabric wall covering right behind us. It was gorgeous. In fact, I think we even sat at that table. All while feeling damp and tired and exhausted-after all this was London in December. Not the best time to visit. But I'd go anytime to London. Even if I don't get to meet the Queen. Well. I'll take it that she didn't want to meet me. Her loss.

But I digress. Scones. We are talking about scones. Or bannocks. That originated in Scotland. Speaking of Scotland. I haven't been there-yet. But there is still time. Is anyone else out there watching Outlander on Starz? It doesn't have enough blood or guts for Manservant. I've read the entire 8 ginormous novels that Diana Gabaldon has written and some more than once. Totally love these books. And now I am enjoying the series; though I haven't figured out  the choice of Jamie just yet; however he is starting to grow on me.

It's Saturday. I've been digressing a lot. Manservant is at the big golf tournament in Cherry Hills and here I sit. Digressing. Thinking about Scotland and scones and Jamie. And this is getting long. And I really don't know if anyone ever really cares how much I write. Perhaps they just want the recipe. It's coming. Hold your horses.



So I took these scones to the mountains with the previously posted almost crack granola. I'm not sure what was a bigger hit. But I do have to tell you. These scones nailed it for me. They were just like I remembered. Just what I've been searching for; for FOUR years. I have a really weird food memory bank, don't I?  Full of flavor. Tender. Cakey. Perfect to slather butter and jam on. They were great warmed up at 300 degrees in a foil pouch  for about 10-15 minutes. My friends loved them. As we looked out to Grand Lake and saw the birds and the deer and ate scones, it occurred to me I may not have been in London, but I may as well have been eating the same scone. At least this is how I remember them. 

And I'll have you know I made the best plum jam. Same way I made the raspberry jam. I took the weight of the plums and added the same weight of sugar. It takes plums a bit longer than raspberries to reach the setting point. And now that my plum tree is no more, I'm sure glad I figured that out. I then added a touch of allspice and OMG. It was so good. And all this because I saw a boy on the canal picking plums off of a tree. So I reached into my backpocket, pulled out my extra bag for scooping poop, and he helped me fill it up. Best jam EVER! To eat with the BEST scones ever.

Bake some tonight. Take a load off. Make some tea. And if you need a tea pot, check out Carol's site. She has the best tea pots and I'm assuming the best tea that would be perfect with your scones. (Plus she writes really good stories!) So if you don't make scones for tea, make them for Sunday breakfast. You won't be sorry. (Phew! I'm now out of words.)



Scottish, British Scones or Bannocks, But Surely not Biscuits (Cooks Illustrated)
Yield: About 12 depending on your size of cookie cutter
Ingredients:
3 c flour
1/3 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 stick butter, cut into cubes
3/4 c currants
1 c milk
2 eggs 

Directions:

Place oven rack in upper level position, but not at the highest level. Preheat to 500 degrees.

Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in food processor, until combined or about 5 pulses. Add cubed butter and pulse until fully incorporated and mixture is fine with no big clumps or pieces of butter. Transfer to a large bowl.

Whisk milk and eggs together in a small bowl. Set aside 2 T to brush on top of scones before baking. Add remaining to flour mixture and using a spatula, fold ingredients together until flour is moist and incorporated. Transfer dough to a floured surface and shape into a large ball.

With floured hands, knead until surface is smooth and free of cracks. Press gently to form a disk about 9 inches around and about 1 inch thick. Using a floured round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Gather scraps and repeat until all dough is used. Brush tops of scones with reserved egg mixture and sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.Place in oven and immediately reduce temperature of oven to 425. Bake until scones have risen and are lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with more butter and jam.



More Food to Eat while Drinking Tea:
Pumpkin Brown Sugar Muffins
Egg Salad
Black Pepper Strawberry Jam
Lemon Rose Madeleines
Chocolate Krantz Cake or Babka