Friday, February 26, 2016

Chipotle Sweet and Salty Caramel Glazed Popcorn and a #WholeFoods #Giveaway


It's Friday and we are going to make this fast. Friday is my day to be happy and happy hour is almost upon us. For that matter Sunday night is Oscar's night and that is almost upon us, too! I do enjoy watching the Academy Awards; the primary reason being that I enjoy seeing the glitz. It's such a foreign world to me and once a year viewing provides me a lot of entertainment. Most of the time it is my first glimpse into what I've missed and then I know what I need to see.

Whole Foods has us thinking Oscar parties. Well, just because you are having a party does not mean one has to break the bank. Shopping at Whole Foods provides a myriad of options such as wings, meatballs, savory cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano and even grapes are on sale this week. Think finger foods and keep it simple.  I've supplied you with a quick recipe that is good enough to get the party started and perfect to munch on through out. Make a lot because it is addicting. This recipe came from Whole Foods but in true fashion I had to doctor it up with some of my favorite movie munchies. Think chips and M and M's. On another note, this travels well in one's purse when one actually goes to see the movies! And the award goes to...well really...this popcorn!


Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket. This post is sponsored by Whole Foods but all opinions are mine. Open only to US residents. No compensation has been given, but products have been provided. Giveaway closes on March 31st, 2016Winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator. 
How to Enter:
· Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me your favorite snack.
· Enter twice by subscribing to This is How I Cook
· Enter again by following me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


Chipotle Sweet and Salty Caramel Glazed Popcorn
Adapted From: Whole Foods
Serves:
Time To Make: About 15 minutes and 30 minutes to bake
Ingredients:
8 c popped popcorn
5 T butter
1 c slivered almonds
1/2 c kettle potato chips
2/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup
1 t ground chipotle powder
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 c M and M's
Directions:
Preheat oven to 300. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat. Place popcorn, nuts and potato chips in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add sugar, maple syrup, chipotle powder and salt and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve salt and then boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and slowly drizzle over popcorn mixture in bowl. Fold glaze in to coat mixture evenly. Place mixture on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and add M and M's. Bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

More to Try:
Microwave Caramel Corn
How to Do a Cheese Board
Saigon Crunch Chex Mix
Beer and Honey Potato Chips

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Coq Au Vin, #Cafe Marmotte, and A Mother's Recipe


One of my favorite dishes from childhood was my mother's  roast beef and rice. I always took the end piece well done and I always liked the crispy part of the rice coming out of the pan. I can still smell its peppery garlic glory, and though I don't eat beef anymore, I would be hard pressed today to not eat the rice, even with all of the beef drippings mixed in. It's funny how some things just stay with us.

Not to long ago, I dined at a new French restaurant, Cafe Marmotte, that opened in the Wash Park area. It is a  vibrant and easy going French bistro, with a menu waiting to be explored.  Their French bohemian artwork may need a story, but each dish already has one.


 This tiny jewel box restaurant with white table cloths, dark walls and rust colored banquettes, is the perfect venue for a romantic occasion, or the perfect drop in spot for when you need a little love. The casually rich and warm atmosphere is comforting and the food only glorifies that feeling. A charming wine list and luscious cocktails just add to the ambiance.

Coq au Vin, French onion soup, hanger steak and a few French inspired delights such as a panko and crab encrusted salmon, and a shrimp crusted cod, are there for feasting. I'd like to get my hands on the foie gras with pomegranates, dates and pear butter, where as Manservant would probably adore the venison. The menu is small, though filled with what the chef does best.  I won't regale you with Chef Mark's story and who he has cooked with during his New York years, because you should really go and talk to him. Have him tell you about Tony Bourdin and Jean Georges-but there I go...

Chef Mark's Coq au Vin had an Alsatian influence with its melting purple cabbage resting on top of the glorious chicken simmered in red wine, and that chicken, resting on bacon mashers.  I really loved this, but when I spoke with a girlfriend of mine, she waxed eloquently of her mother's Coq Au Vin. I know how it is when you have those fond food memories, so when she casually mentioned that she had her mom's recipe, I said send it on over. It came via text within a few minutes. God, I wish I was that organized!


It has been a long time since I made Coq au Vin. As many of you may know Coq au Vin was a dish that Julia Child became known for. And as it turns out Julia Child was the inspiration for CafĂ© Marmotte’s Coq au Vin. Chef Mark was doing a cooking demonstration the day she died, and was making Coq au Vin. He created that dish in her honor, and it has been on Cafe Marmotte's menu ever since. Julia published a recipe for it in her first book-Mastering the Art of French cooking- and as we all know, that book became history. Yes, that was 1961! Coq au Vin is essentially a chicken stew made with mushrooms and pearl onions and all of it cooked in  red Burgundy with a touch of cognac. I would describe this as comfort food, French style. 

My mother also adored Julia and has a well marked book that she cooked from, but she never made us Coq au Vin. I can never remember her cooking a Julia Child recipe for us-her family-her loved ones! My mom made roast beef and rice. But my friend's mom made Coq au Vin! So I figured I best get to work. Though this recipe didn't feature that delicious melting purple cabbage, it was quite similar to Julia's. I took a few simple liberties and then invited my friends for dinner. I'm not sure if Laura remembers it quite like this, but it was fun to cook from her mom's recipe. We had good wine, good cheese and a great red wine chocolate cake with a red wine strawberry filling for dessert. But I'll also mention that when I need Coq au Vin again, I plan on heading to Cafe Marmotte. I preferred Mark's version!


It's funny when we think about the foods that inspire us. It is funny about what we remember of foods from our childhood. Chef Mark reminisces about  about seafood from Cape Cod. Digging for steamer clams, fishing for striped bass, and of course, fresh lobster. I grew up on the Kankakee River. We dug for crawdads. We never ate them. We counted them. My grandfather was a butcher. We ate beef. My mom might not have cooked us many of Julia's recipes, but I do remember seeing her with that book. Julia inspired many of us.Chef Mark was one of them, my mother another, and Laura's mother another. And the list can keep on going...

Now in case you don't know- a marmot is a animal that looks like a large squirrel.  They live at high altitudes and I've always enjoyed spotting them in the mountains. Marmots communicate by loud whistles and are quite social. They hibernate in cozy dens. I don't know why  Cafe Marmotte chose that name, but I think they are on to something. Marmots are cute. Marmots are social. And they like cozy places. Cafe Marmotte is a cozy, but elegant, classic in the making, that feels as if it has been around for years. And so it is that things stay with us. Wonderful meals. Wonderful atmosphere. Wonderful people. Really, that's what Cafe Marmotte is all about. Just remember to whistle when you get there...though I doubt that once you see this gem and taste this food, that that will be a problem!


Laura's Mother's Coq Au Vin with Minor Adaptations from Julia Child!
Time To Make: About 60 minutes
Serves About 8
Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs-bone in and skin on
4 chicken breasts-bone in and skin on-cut into 3 pieces
3 T bacon fat or butter
2 c frozen pearl onions
1 lb fresh crimini mushrooms and I threw in a few ounces of morels
3/4 c minced green onions
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 T cognac
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 c beef stock
1 c good dry red wine (this gives a lot of flavor so make sure you like it!)
Salt, pepper, thyme parsley

Directions:
Melt bacon fat or butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Feel free to use bacon and reserve it for a garnish. Brown chicken that has been seasoned with salt and pepper in the Dutch oven. You will have to do this in separate batches. Remove from pan. Now add the onions and brown those. Remove onions and add mushrooms and saute until tender. Remove mushrooms and set aside. Add green onions and garlic  and saute until tender. Deglaze your pan with the cognac and cook while scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add butter and stir in flour and cook a few minutes while stirring to take away the raw flour taste. Slowly stir in the stock and the red wine. Stir over medium heat until thickened. Add back chicken and season with thyme, salt, pepper and parsley-reserving some for garnish. Bring to a simmer and simmer slowly for about 1/2 hour or until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear. Add back mushrooms and onions and simmer covered another hour until the chicken is falling off the bone. At this poin,t this is ready to be served or kept in the refrigerator, until reheating for dinner. I love the extra flavor it gets from being chilled. If you chill it, make sure to remove the congealed fat from the surface. Before reheating remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.This can be reheated in a preheated 325 degree oven for about an hour.

I serve this with mashed potatoes, though boiled potatoes or noodles will work also.

More to Try:
Strawberry Crepes
Roasted Carrot Dip with Hazelnut and Raisin Topping
Mussels in White Wine with Home Made French Fries
Onion and Chicken Fat Baked Rice with Boneless Rib Roast
Quick Chocolate Cake

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Savory Dutch Baby with Bacon and Cheese and Salt and Roses


A few Sundays ago when Manservant left for Sweden, I managed to crank out a swanky breakfast. By all rights someone who is leaving me should not be subjected to something so good. But I am kindhearted, probably too kindhearted, because this was practically the last time I spoke with him for two weeks. His not so kindhearted company works him to death and this wife who is quickly becoming not kindhearted to said company, who returns her husband home sick and cranky, is becoming quite cranky herself. Not that she blames it all on said company, as we all know everyone should have thirty seconds in a day to call or text their loved ones.


Let's just say that Valentine's Day did not contain this breakfast. Nor did this breakfast become Valentine's Day dinner-which it could have been. No... Valentine's Day was kind of non-eventful, containing requisite cards and very pretty roses and some cute little salt bowls that now grace my counter. It appears I wasn't totally forgotten by this manservant of mine; I just seemed to escape his memory for some time. After all the excuses we ended up having Vietnamese for dinner, which is totally acceptable to me. It appears that Vietnamese families dine out en masse on Valentine's Day, judging from the very large groups of families that were surrounding us, some even bringing red rose bouquets to the table.


Well, we got our standard dishes of goi ga and shrimp in black pepper sauce and crystal rolls and egg rolls. And then we were full. We followed out the large groups of 12 and carrying our doggie bags we drove down Federal that was totally crammed with cars-and fire trucks and ambulances. No, I have no clue what was going on. We arrived back home to two wagging tails and then it was off to bed for Manservant-where I have no doubt he was dreaming of that awesome, kindhearted wife that he married so long ago. I was left awake, after all, it was only 8:30, watching Larry David portray Bernie Sanders-which was quite a hoot, and thinking of pink roses


 and brown salt bowls


 and pondering life; which can be a little salty-a little sweet-but it all seems to work out in the end.

                                                                                                                                                             

This Dutch baby recipe does not remind me of a standard sweet Dutch baby. Yes, it gets beautifully puffy-a bit arrogant perhaps-but it reminds me more of a Yorkshire pudding in texture, than a Dutch baby. I felt it needed some doctoring up so I added some bacon bits and hot sauce to the mix. I thought it needed more, so decided to gild the lily with a fried egg. Fried eggs always seem to make everything a bit more golden-at least according to Manservant. And because I had some red and green peppers that needed a home, I sauteed those, too. The original NYT recipe served this on its own. Personally, we preferred this baby with embellishments!


Savory Dutch Baby with Bacon and Cheese
Adapted From: NYT
Time to Make: About 45 minutes from start to finish
Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
4 -6 slices of thick bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
2 Peppers, sliced into strips
1 small onion
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Fried Egg Per Person
1/2 c plus 1 T flour
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1/4 c plus 2 T whole milk
1 t Tabasco
2 T minced chives or scallions
1 T minced cilantro or sage
3 T unsalted butter
1/4 c plus 2 T Parmigiano-Reggiano
Lemon Wedges for serving
Directions:
Cook bacon until crisp and then finely crumble. Set aside. Reserve the bacon fat. Use 2 T of bacon fat and saute your peppers and onion in that. Remove from pan and keep warm. In the same pan you can use the remaining bacon fat to fry your eggs. 
Preheat oven to 425. Melt butter in a heavy 8" skillet over medium high heat until it sputters, turns brown and smells great. Make sure the bottom of the skillet is coated with butter. In a large bowl combine flour, salt and pepper. In a measuring cup whisk together the eggs, milk and Tabasco. Combine with dry ingredients. Stir in cilantro, chives and crumbled bacon. Pour batter into hot skillet and scatter cheese on top. Bake at 425 for about 25 minutes or until your baby is puffed and golden. When the baby is just about ready, start your eggs. 
To assemble: Cut a wedge of the baby. Top with peppers. Top peppers with a fried egg. Serve lemon wedges to squeeze on top of the baby. Bon Appetit!

More to Try:
Everything but the Bagel Scrambled Eggs
Migas Scrambled Eggs with Tortilla Chips and Chorizo
British Scones
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Salad

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Friday, February 12, 2016

4 Ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo or the Pasta of Love


There aren't many foods sexier than Fettucine Alfredo. And there aren't many foods that are simpler to make. I am sure we could have a discussion on other sexy foods such as lobster and truffles and caviar and oysters, and let's not forget chocolate, but those sexy foods, (besides the chocolate) aren't easily served to those under the age of 18. (Though I bet my kids would have eaten them.).  In our house Valentine's Day was about family. We had the red balloons, the red candles, the red flowers and always a stuffed animal. Even if Valentine's Day fell during the week I always went out of my way to make dinner special. Yes, that is how memories are created and by God, my kids will remember Valentine's Day!


Often I made pasta, because what kid doesn't like pasta? Sometimes when they got older we had steak. But I believe this Fettuccine Alfredo was often on the menu. From a cook's perspective there isn't much that is simpler to make, and from a diner's perspective it is hard to beat sensuous noodles glazed with cream and butter topped with rich, snowy flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano.

I've seen so many versions of fettuccine that are ruined by the addition of flour and or cream cheese when, jeez people, don't they realize that this is all it takes? Fettucine Alfredo does not contain garlic. It really doesn't. It doesn't contain flour and it doesn't contain cream cheese or milk. It contains cream. Heavy cream. The dieter's nemesis. The diner's delight! It contains butter, not oil or God forbid margarine. And no garlic. Please no garlic. One wants the creaminess of the sauce to delight your taste buds. The silky, rich duo of just cream and butter and cheese.   It contains not much in the way of ingredients, but those simple ingredients combine to make a dish that everyone craves. It may or may not have a brief grating of nutmeg, but that is up to you.

I often served the fettuccine with  steak, but that was a lot of richness. I'm happy to just have this with a salad and garlic bread. And red wine. I love this with red wine. I know most would say white, but not me. Now if I had a truffle, I would shave some on top. But I don't have a truffle so I will not. If I had some grilled shrimp, those would work well on the side. But I do not have grilled shrimp so I will just devour this quite simply noodle by noodle, and then ask for the chocolate cake. Which goes very well with red wine, too!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Fettuccine Alfredo 
From: Marcella Hazan
Time to Make: About 15 minutes
Ingredients:
1 lb of the best Italian fettuccine
1 c heavy cream
3 T butter
Salt
2/3 c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and more for serving
4-6 grinds of freshly ground pepper
A tiny shaving of nutmeg, which is optional
Directions:
Boil pasta in well salted water, according to directions. Please only cook this al dente! No mushy pasta! Drain well.
In a large pot that can accommodate all the pasta, put in 2/3 c of the cream and all the butter and simmer over medium heat for less than 1 minute, until the butter and cream have slightly thickened. Set aside. When pasta is cooked, add it to pot with butter and cream. Turn the burner to low and toss the fettuccine, coating the pasta with the sauce. Add the rest of the cream, all the cheese, 1/2 t salt, pepper and nutmeg if you want. Toss briefly and serve with more grated cheese.


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More to Try:
Spaghetti Bolognese
Ziti Al Fresco
Porcine Mushroom Lasagna
Linguini with white Clam Sauce
Chocolate Lava Cake
Quick Chocolate Cake

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tom Kha Soup and Thai Food in Denver #AloyModernThai



You put 'da lime in 'da coconut and mix um both together... and you almost have tom kha soup. Well, not quite, but it is a good song!


I am guessing there are as many versions of Tom Kha Soup as there are of matzo ball soup. Tom Kha Soup is a common menu item in many Thai restaurants, most often being served with chicken and not shrimp. Well, I was told this was Mama's recipe and it contains shrimp, though Aloy Modern Thai - the delicious, (Aloy means delicious) new Thai restaurant in LoDo, served it with chicken. Go figure! Truthfully, I know you won't go wrong with either! I've been slurping this soup all week and am very happy.


So who is this Mama and what is tom kha soup? Mama is a bubbly, tiny woman from Thailand who came to the U.S. 10 years ago. She brought her two daughters and proceeded to open a Thai restaurant in Boulder to critical acclaim. Building on that success, her two daughters opened a dynamic new spot in Denver that features new, light recipes from Thailand. Mama Kim started out cooking cherished family recipes. Well, the daughters now feature a modern version of  the recipes that they love to eat when they go back to visit Bangkok. Their fare is lighter, fresher and healthier than the dishes found in most Denver Thai restaurants. This food has flavor and punch, tastes fresh and I can even plant the menu! Really.

 Aloy Modern Thai is focusing not only on sustainability, but working and building relationships with local purveyors. Community is important to them and they actively support local food related non-profits. (Check out Monday night's community night with a fixed price meal and 20% of the proceeds goes to a local non-profit.) We were transfixed with such dishes as the smoked verlasso salmon that is served in a sealed mason jar. When you pop the lid, the smoke erupts and that salmon is phenomenal and blended well with the bright orange zest, crunchy yucca chips and Asian pear. With drinks that match up perfectly to each small plate, this is a place that manages to do both food and drink well. Who would have thought a Mexican Chocolate Stout would pair so well with Pad Thai? Certainly not me, but I wouldn't order pad thai again without ordering this with it! And the pad thai? A delectable large plate with the noodles cooked just right!


And there were other dishes such as alligator with a spicy black pepper sauce and wicked wings with a caramelized sauce. The pomelo salad was outstanding and I just bought a pomelo so I could make one myself! A shout out to all the awesome servers, too! Any questions about anything and these folks know their stuff. Manservant was thrilled with the final drink. Let's see if I get this right... I believe it was a scotch that was served in a covered snifter with Cabernet smoke. When you opened the top, the smoke came out! I have heard of this before but it was really fun to see it in action!

But what about that Tom Kha - that I have been so happily slurping all week. Yes, it is a standard dish on many Thai menus. But I'm guessing they don't have Mama's recipe. It is comfort food at its best. Tom kha contains chicken or shrimp, herbs such as galangal or ginger in my case, mushrooms, tomatoes, and the lime and the coconut! This sweet and spicy, tart soup with a hint of spice from a favorite chili sauce, satisfies all my inner desires-which is a good thing since Valentine's Day is right around the corner. It is a satisfying and divine soup that is simple to make. Check out Aloy Modern Thai's version and tell me what you think. I know what I think... Yep. I think two girls did their Mama proud.

Notes: This recipe calls for some common Thai ingredients. Sometimes I have these on hand, but this time I didn't. I didn't have Kaffir lime leaves so I did substitute. The soup still turned out awesome. Next time I visit an Asian market I will buy some lime leaves. They can be stored in the freezer and taken out as needed. Palm sugar can be substituted with brown sugar, though I used palm sugar. I substituted galangal with ginger without any problem, though I am sure there would be some minor changes in taste with the galangal. Feel free to use chicken or shrimp or both in the recipe.


Mama Kim's Tom Kha Soup
Serves: About 6
Time To Make: About 30 minutes
Ingredients:

4 c chicken stock (I used two cans of low sodium broth.)
5 c of coconut milk (I used two cans.)
4 Kaffir lime leaves (I used 1 bay leaf, and zest of one lime.)
Galangal - 8 pieces (I used 1.7 oz of ginger cut in thick slices)
1 T lemongrass paste

2 tomatoes - cut in wedges
6-10 oz of mushrooms (I used button mushrooms, but next time would probably try some oyster mushrooms)
2 oz red onion or 1 small onion sliced thin

16 large shrimp or 2 poached chicken breasts, sliced thinly into strips
6 T Thai fish sauce
6 t palm or brown sugar

4 T fresh lime juice
Chili oil to taste
Cilantro to garnish

Directions:
Combine chicken stock, coconut milk, kaffir lime or substitutions and ginger or galangal and lemongrass paste in a medium sized pot. Simmer uncovered about 15 minutes until the broth is nice and infused and you can smell it. Add tomato, mushrooms, and red onion and wait until the vegetables are almost cooked. Add protein of choice, or some of both, fish sauce and palm sugar. Add a squeeze of lime to each bowl.Feel free to make it your own by adding some chili oil and cilantro.

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 More to Try:






















Saturday, February 6, 2016

Beer and Honey Potato Chips with Onion Dip


I know you want these. You may not need these. But Super Bowl is calling and food always keeps people quiet. Just stuffing these in someone's pie hole should do the trick to that guy screaming, "I feel it. This is the turning point of the game!!". Or "Offsides" or "I called it" or "Touchdown" or "Kill em" or whatever...well I just say, "Pass the chips please." Followed by, "Pass the dip, please." I know I've told you before that my favorite vice-well, besides cookies and chocolate and not necessarily in that order, is potato chips. I find them particularly good when eaten with the chocolate or dipped in chocolate. I know you've seen recipes for those. But those are so raving dangerous that in this house, we best not go there.

I just choose to go here. This is the potato chip hack for the potato chip hackers of the world. I know who you are. I choose to toss my kettle salted potato chips with more butter. And other stuff. And bake them some more until they are extra crisp. Extra sensory. Extra savory. Extra everything. Because these potato chips so beat a touchdown.

I admit it. I don't watch the game for the FOOTBALL. I watch the game for the commercials and maybe the halftime act. Who is the halftime act this year? I remember Bruce and Michael and yes, that shows how old I am. Oh yeah. And I watch the game for the food. Lest we forget. It is all about the food. Pass those sliders. Pass those weenies. And pass that dip-no double dipping- pronto! Give me a slice of pizza, two of those cute decorated cookies, and more salsa, if you will.


Oh, it's 4th down. I  never get those downs sorted out! How can it be 4th down when it was already 4th down? Why isn't it 5th down? Way too confusing, so I'll just eat. Super Bowl is the perfect time to forget all those new year's resolutions!

And finally...I love to see the jumpers. You know the folks who get so excited they jump out of their seat-arms pumping-mouths going-beer spilling? Yeah, I so want those folks in my house watching my new big screen TV. (Like I have one.) I so want that dip flying, those chips crunching, the cheese sliding off that pizza slice and some bean dip on the floor and someone thinks the dog did it...I so want...well. I so want that dip. Those chips. Pass 'em over. Touchdown? You got that right!

Onion Dip - If you want to take a trip way back to Tim Tebow land, and the world of great food photography, just click here. If not, I will save you the trouble and publish this great recipe again. Keep in mind that I did not make these beer and honey chips to go with onion dip. I made these great buttery, garlic parmesan chips to go with this dip.  I also have a French Onion Chip recipe, but you will just have to stick around for that.  I would probably serve the beer and honey chips with a blue cheese dip, but I'm not that organized. And after all, in my world, it just isn't Super Bowl if you don't have onion dip. Dip or chip? Gets confusing, huh? So subscribe if you want!


Beer and Honey Potato Chips - Easily Made and Easily Eaten
Serves? Good question. It depends on how many are blocking the bowl.
Time to Make: About 15 minutes to make and 20 minutes to bake
Ingredients:
1 14 oz bag of Salted Kettle Chips (I use Boulder Sea Salt, but any kettle fried chip should work)
1 bottle of your favorite beer (if it is a bitter beer, then your chips will taste like that, so I recommend a mild tasting beer-but that is up to you)
1 stick butter
2 T honey
3/4 t salt
Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 with rack in the lowest position. Pour beer into a pot. Let it simmer until it is reduced to 1/4 of a cup. This doesn't take long. Now add your butter and honey and stir until it is melted. Stir in salt. Now cut open the bag of chips. Pour this over the top. Close top while you shake gently to distribute the butter mixture. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet in a sort of single layer. Toss well, to make sure butter is distributed. Bake on the lowest rack for 20 minutes total, tossing at the 10 minute point. I love the extra crisp brown ones, but not everyone in my family agrees. These keep well in a sealed zip lock bag-that is if you have any to keep!

The Best - No Kidding - Onion Dip
Serves 8-10
Time To Make - About 15 Minutes
Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese - light or not
1/3 c sour cream - light or not
4 green onions chopped
1/4 of a large onion
1 good dash of Worcestershire sauce (Gives some zing!)
1 good squeeze anchovy paste (This doesn't make it taste like anchovies. It just gives it some salt.)
1/4 of a large onion chopped finely
Directions:
Place all ingredients except the chopped onion into a food processor. Process until is combined and creamy. Check for seasoning. You may want to add more Worcestershire or anchovy paste at this point, but that is up to you! Stir in chopped onion and if you want this creamier, you could even add 1-2 T of mayo. Chill in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors come together. But that is up to you! Just remember to share!

More To Try:
Buttery Garlic Parmesan Potato Chips
Saigon Crunch Chex Mix
Candied Bacon with Red Pepper Jelly on a Chip
Hatch Chile Peppadew Cheese

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Salsa with Hominy and Blueberries and #Tocabe


...Now if I wanted, I could have added some orange zest-which in actuality would work quite well with this hominy salsa. Then I would have had Broncos salsa with the blue and orange-well-you can see where my mind is! In any case, I was quite pleased with my hominy and blueberry salsa that is way too easy to eat and so simple to make. It was a lunch at Tocabe that got my creative juices flowing.

The simple journey to Tocabe-not really a diner and certainly not a dive, of Guy Fieri fame-was a fun lunch with some fellow bloggers. I had been wanting to eat there for some time, but up until now their location was a drive. The second location is much closer and I can't wait to stop by again for some of their grilled bannocks. Freshly baked bread grilled over an open flame is my idea of deadly. One might tend to think of Tocabe as another burrito kind of fast food restaurant, but it really is a great outpost that features American Indian food from the Osage nation. In fact there are just a handful of American Indian restaurants in the entire U.S.. Think fry bread, buffalo ribs, green chile stew, and even Wojapi- a berry jam to eat with their great fry bread or bannocks. Check out the links from A Baker's House and Creative Culinary to see what I mean!


Tocabe, (which means blue and is the owner's mother's favorite color) has salsas that vary with the seasons, to add to your choice of beef, chicken or bison, Indian fry bread. I gravitated toward the hominy salsa because I'd never had anything like it before. I could have had fresh green chilies, so that was a hard decision! Hominy is dried field corn which has been cooked in a mixture of lye, slaked lime or wood ash. It is then washed, dried and powdered-just like a baby's butt- and generally made into masa. Without masa, we wouldn't have those great foods we call tortillas! I love hominy and don't use it enough. It is great in cheesy green chile casseroles. It is great in soup. It is great mixed with corn. It is great in most recipes in place of beans. Or with beans. I think you got the picture, right?

I love the simplicity of this salsa. Tocabe's contains cranberries, but I had  dried blueberries on hand and they worked perfectly. The leftovers the next day were even better as the blueberries had time to plump up a bit.We devoured this with some of those lime tortilla chips, that Manservant has been eating by the bag. (I know there was a reason I stopped buying them long ago!) I also bought some spicy blue corn chips because-well-I love spicy blue corn chips! And they look pretty mixed with the white ones!  I don't actually have Tocabe's recipe so you will have to visit and tell me whose you like better. I won't be offended as long as it is a tie!


Salsa with Hominy and Blueberries
Serves 4-6
Time to Make - About 10 minutes
Ingredients:
1 15 oz can of hominy, drained and rinsed then slightly chopped
3 T diced red onion
2-3 T chopped cilantro
1 chopped chipotle with 1-2 T chipotle sauce from the can
3 T dried blueberries
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Chips to serve this with

Directions:
Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. That's it! If you want to let this sit overnight to let the flavors develop, feel free! Or eat it now! And you could always do take out from Tocabe!

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Spicy Shrimp Piquant an Engagingly Provocative Spicy Shrimp Stew


Spicy and hot are two terms that don't always go together. Something can have a lot of spice, but not necessarily be spicy hot. Then again there are those foods that can be both. Personally I like spicy and hot, but I don't like food to be so spicy that all you can taste is the heat. Know what I mean? Too much heat kills the flavor and I'm all about flavor. This shrimp piquant recipe contains 4 or 5 different kinds of pepper deciding on how you count green peppers, so rest assured that this is spicy and hot! Piquant according to Merriam Webster means having a pleasant spicy taste; interesting and exciting; agreeably stimulating to the palate; especially spicy! and engagingly provocative. I have always liked this word-can't you tell? As a side note from the cookbook it says that piquant in Cajun means, "it's hot and hurts like a sticker in your tongue."

Last Sunday when the Broncos achieved their win and had everyone holding their breath, I was busy cooking for my dear China boy. What does one feed to a dear boy when you know they will soon be leaving the nest? AGAIN? Well, in this case I wanted to make something simple so  I'd have time to spend with my boy. That is the boy who a few hours ahead of dinnertime asked if he remembered to tell me that his high school buddy was driving down to see him from Boulder, and could he stay for dinner. About 20 minutes later he asked if it would be OK if his college friend could come over too. Well, this kitchen aims to please and  "no" is not in my repertoire!



Luckily this is the perfect stew to have for company. It is easily put together and it is easy to increase the number of servings by just adding a bit more shrimp. This is a Paul Prudhomme recipe and if you have read me over time, you know that February always signals Mardi Gras and in that case, Paul Prudhomme. This lovely man passed away last year, but he will always have a revered place on my bookshelf. I love his recipes!


Needless to say this man could take the heat. He had a way of stimulating one's senses with everything he cooked. So take care people-this recipe is hot! But in a good way, of course. He said you don't need a silver fork to eat good food and I wholeheartedly agree. In 1975 he became the head chef at Commander's Palace and in 1979 he opened K-Paul's. I believe it was that year that Manservant and I were in N'awlins and ate at both during our trip. In fact we ate at so many good restaurants, that I remember getting on the plane and feeling nauseous. I couldn't have eaten another bite. It was Paul that hired Emeril to help at Commander's Palace, so he would have time to spend at his own restaurant.

And so it is that I cook from his book every February. My Alex Odie San loved this recipe and even suggested that the tomato base would make a great shakshuka. The boy is right! It would be divine. I served this shrimp piquant with cheese grits which took the place of the traditional rice. Frankly, I think it cut the heat better, too. I also made Paul's jalapeno bread. It was simple to make and also full of heat-though when slathered with butter, was perfect. It also made great toasting bread and we ate it several times for breakfast. And last but not least, I served this divine and spicy shrimp piquant with a sweetish cole slaw. It helped take the heat away and was a perfect accompaniment.

One last note. Alex Odie San China boy said this was nowhere near as spicy as some dishes he's had in China. Well, I guess you'll just have to decide for yourself!


Shrimp Piquant (A great make ahead dish!)
Serves 8
From: Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
Time to Make: 35-45 minutes-including cooking time
Ingredients:
2 T unsalted butter
2 1/4 c chopped onions
1 1 /2 c chopped green bell peppers
3/4 c chopped celery
3 c peeled and chopped canned tomatoes
1 c canned tomato sauce
3 T minced jalapeno peppers (for less spicy sauce, make sure to take out the seeds)
2 bay leaves
5 1/2 t cayenne pepper (Be careful, here!)
1 1/2 t white ground pepper
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 t minced garlic
2 1/4 c seafood stock (I use bottled clam broth found in the grocery)
1 1/2 T dark brown sugar
3/4 t salt
2 lbs peeled large shrimp
4 c grits or rice to serve this with
Directions:
Melt the butter in a 4 quart saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onions, peppers and celery. Saute about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ad the tomatoes, tomato sauce, jalapenos, bay leaves, ground peppers and garlic; stir well. Continue cooking about three minutes, stirring often and scraping the pan bottom as needed.Stir in the stock, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors are married-about 20 minutes, stirring as necessary. At this point you can refrigerate this and add the shrimp another day or you can keep going. One reason that this is a great dish for a crowd as you can do most of it ahead!

Add the peeled shrimp to the hot or reheated sauce and stir. Turn heat up to high, cover pot, and ring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve immediately over 1/2 c rice or grits. Pour about 1/2 c sauce around the rice or grits and arrange shrimp on top of the sauce.

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