Saturday, May 28, 2016

Grilled BBQ Potato Bundles with Chorizo


It is now officially the grilling season and before the weekend escapes, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite recipes. Potatoes are one of my preferred food groups, so I always try to work them into any outdoor menu. I've had my share of potato salads, but sometimes potatoes on the grill are a welcome change. Make some room on the grill next to the chicken and give everyone something new. Honestly, I could make a whole meal out of these! And well, I kind of did. Manservant is now in Europe and my cooking skills are becoming quite casual. so to speak!


Get out your preferred picnic gear and get the party rolling. I must say that this vintage red checked tablecloth came from my mother. When cleaning out her linen closet I came across a whole bunch of them. Turns out she had made these with her mother for a party she gave after her wedding, for the lovely ladies who had given her bridal showers. Now that's history folks!

Well, this potato recipe is not vintage yet, but I promise if you make them, they will quickly become history!


Grilled BBQ Potato Bundles 
Time To Make: About 20 minutes active and 30-60 minutes to grill
Adapted from: The BBQ Bible-Steven Raichlen
Serves 4
Ingredients:
4 T melted butter in a mixing cup
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t coarse salt
1/4 t ground pepper
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 small onion thinly sliced
4 oz Palacios dried chorizo sliced thin
2 T ketchup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t sriracha
Directions:
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If you do't know how to do this, it is as simple as preheating the entire grill. When you are ready to grill, you turn off one side.

Cut 2 sheets of heavy duty foil, each 14 x 18 inches. Place a sheet of foil, shiny side down, narrow edge toward you. Brush some melted butter in the center of each piece of foil. Arrange 1/4 of the sliced potatoes on each piece. Brush well with butter. Sprinkle with seasonings. Don't worry if you want to add more, just do it! Top with sliced onion and chorizo slices. Now top with rest of potatoes. Brush with rest of butter. Add ketchup, Worcestershire, lemon juice and sriracha to the buttered mixing cup. Stir well. Spoon mixture evenly over the two bundles of potatoes. Now fold the top half of the foil over the potatoes and bring the top and bottom edges together. Fold the edges several times to make a tight seal. When ready to cook, place the bundles in the center of the hot grate, with the heat turned off. Leave the other side on. Cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Each grill is different, but this could take 30-60 minutes. On mine it takes 60! The bundles may or may not puff up, so be careful when opening to avoid steam burns. 

More Picnic fare:
Old Fashioned BBQ Chicken
Real Potato Salad
Roasted Potato Salad with Garlic Aioli
Old Bay Potato Salad and other picnic favorites
Triple Root beer Floats

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pretty Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs and #FoodwithFriends


Now really. If I were to look at the name of this post in years past, I'd be running clear out of dodge. Deviled Eggs just weren't my thang. No, that isn't really quite true. If I had to, I'd be happy to eat the yellow part and feed the white part to the dog, anxiously awaiting under the table. My mom used to make deviled eggs. At least I think she did, though I honestly don't remember. I do know I gave away at least three deviled egg platters that were collecting dust in her kitchen during the big move.

Deviled Eggs were called that because of the spiciness of the mustard. Now I don't think mustard is that spicy but apparently in the 19th century deviled was synonymous with spicy. As deviled eggs popularity grew it appears a name change took place and they were also called angel eggs or stuffed eggs or salad eggs, especially at church functions where God forbid, the devil's name should come up.

I made these pretty deviled beet pickled eggs for Passover. It is traditional to eat boiled eggs for the holiday and I thought I would jazz things up a bit with these. I also thought I would like them more than the simple hard boiled egg. I did; but I still like only the middle. There is something about the whites that still isn't my thang! Deviled eggs are so popular right now and given that Memorial Day is coming, I thought they would be a perfect way to start the picnic season.



I slightly adapted these from Leela Cyd's new book, "Food with Friends". There is one thing I can tell you for sure. I wish I was a friend of Leela's. Leela, a long time contributor to TheKitchn.com and various other publications, has authored a beautiful book. The photos are glorious and as one who admires beautiful, clean, well composed photos, the book is worth the price of admission. However the recipes are pretty good, too. The rose meringues I made at Passover, which were also pink and delicate and well received, were also taken from this book. Truthfully, I think Leela must see pink wherever she goes. The pages of the book practically blush with highlights and tips on decorating, and cooking, and being a luscious host.

Her recipes are creative with ideas gathered from around the world. They ooze freshness, variety, and simplicity. This is a vegetarian book,  however this isn't a book for just vegetarians. It is a book for those who celebrate food and friends and flavor. This isn't a large book, but its pages loom large with chapters on style, secret ingredients, breakfast, tea time, happy hour and even tiny takeaways. Leela has entertaining down to an art and being one who loves to entertain, it is always fun to find new ways to sparkle. With a book like this in hand, there is no reason to not wow your guests.


I have a long way to go before I've worked myself through this book. I'm sure I'll be driving myself crazy figuring out  how she takes spectacular photos.That being said  I'll certainly be enjoying myself every time I leaf through the pages.The hard part will be figuring out if I should make the Irish soda bread with rum plumped figs and candied walnuts, or the best black and white cookies, or the chili lime pineapple with coconut cream. But then again masala corn sounds pretty good for Memorial Day!

Check out "Food with Friends". Pick out some simple, fun, food. Get some Rose. Better yet make a Mango Rose Sorbet Sparkler. And then surround yourself with your besties. They may never want to leave.


Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs
Slightly Adapted from "Food with Friends" by Leela Cyd
Time to Make: About 30-45 minutes active, 24 hours to brine
Ingredients:
8 large hard boiled eggs (OK. I bought mine and they were medium sized eggs so this made a dozen.)
1/3 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c white wine vinegar
1 t sea salt
1 t celery seed
1 t yellow mustard seeds
2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
4 small boiled and peeled beets or 1 15 oz can

Filling:
1 t dry mustard
3 T plain whole milk yogurt
1 T mayonnaise
1/2 t turmeric
1 T finely chopped chives or scallions
1 T fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Garnish with capers, red onion and parsley.

Directions:
In a 32 oz jar or a large zip lock bag, mix together 1 c of water, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, celery seed, mustard seeds and garlic. Add the beets and 1/2 c of beet water and stir to combine. Put the peeled eggs in the beet brine and refrigerate for about 24 hours.

After the eggs have brined, it is time to make the filling. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and scoop the yolks into a medium bowl. Add the dry mustard, yogurt, mayonnaise, turmeric, chives or scallions and lemon juice. Mix with a fork, mashing everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop a heaping teaspoon of filling into each hard boiled egg half. Garnish with some parsley, some some capers and red onion. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper. Serve immediately. These are best at room temperature.

 “I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.”

More to Try:
Egg Salad
Roasted Potato Salad with Garlic Aioli
My Mom's Secret ColeSlaw
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Hummus and Tahini Dressing

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Old Fashioned Skillet Cherry Cobbler


Spring cleaning is not a chore I enjoy. My kids are 25 years old and I still find myself giving away toys and cleaning out old makeup and cheap gems from my daughter's room. My son's has been cleaned out, but since he is far, far away and hopefully will return again, we are storing boxes and books and four guitars that require keeping a humidifier running in his room. That isn't so bad as long as I remember to fill it. Manservant has even found that if he keeps his cigars in there it works out quite nicely for them, too.

I can't wait to paint our basement that has brightly colored stripes running up and down the walls that worked out quite nicely during the kid's party years. And the basement still contains various games and tons of children's books that I know I will save forever. Well, I hope I have someone to pass them on to. And then there is the crawl space that contains so many stuffed animals and baby clothes and who knows what else, because I'm afraid to go in there.

But this week I was more focused on the freezer. We need a new refrigerator so badly. This one is 24 years old and it works quite nicely except that the ice builds up in the bottom of the freezer side and then we need to chip it away so I can use the bottom shelf. It also involves a hair dryer to start the melting which isn't hard to do, but it is a hassle. We've tried to have it fixed but no one ever does the job, so we've given up on it ever being 100%. Since all funds are going to China, it appears I'll be chipping away a few times this year.


Which takes me back to spring cleaning. You knew I'd get there, didn't you? The discovery process of cleaning a freezer can be quite amazing. In my case it involved throwing away a can of frozen limeade that has been there for two years. And then I discovered the chicken fat that I was going to use for rendering for Passover so I wouldn't have to buy schmaltz, but I did buy schmaltz, so now I guess I'll try saving it until Rosh Hashonah. Then I found three Cornish hens that never got baked and who knows how long they have been there. And I could go on, but why?

The best part -besides the frozen Halloween candy- were the found frozen sour cherries that I bought at the farmer's market last year. The time has come to use them up so I can buy more frozen sour cherries to find next year. Sour cherries are my absolute favorite fruit to use in summer desserts. There is something decadent and wholesome when one spies truly gorgeous, red glistening cherries coming out of the oven. It doesn't matter in what form they are-whether it is crisp, cobbler or pie. Whether it is syrup, sauce or jam, or just one on top, cherries are just so damn pretty.


Being quite busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I threw this cobbler together for a nice dinner I made last weekend for Manservant's send off. Except it wasn't a send off, because the MAN is still here. Drives me crazy when he does this! I also made a superb papparadelle with baby lobsters in a lemon garlic sauce. Yes, those baby lobster's were in the freezer, too. I buy them and tuck them away, whenever they are on sale and I think these were from Valentine's Day. It was a nice night of eating and I didn't even take a photo of the pasta dish. But I did get this cobbler which ought to be in your belly. Easy peasy and yummy; this cherry cobbler is a dream!


Old Fashioned Skillet Cherry Cobbler
Serves 8
Time to Make: About 30 minutes active
Adapted From: Gourmet 1991
Ingredients:
4 c sour cherries, pitted and drained well
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t almond extract
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 T cornstarch
2/3 c sugar plus 3 T
1 1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
12 T cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8" cast iron skillet. Put cherries, lemon juice almond and vanilla extract, cornstarch and sugar into skillet. Stir well. Set aside and make biscuit dough.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt 3 T sugar and the butter. I use my fingers, but you may want to use a fork or pastry cutter, and cut the butter in until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in 1/2 c boiling water, stirring until batter is just combined.

Now over medium heat bring the cherry mixture to a boil. Drop the batter in large heaping tablespoons onto the cherries. Bake the cobbler for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Other fruit desserts to try:
Not My Mama's Cherry Pie
Strawberry Spiral Biscuit Pie
Blackberry, Blueberry, Basil and Browned Butter Cobbler
Raspberry Crumble Tart
Triple Cherry Chocolate Skillet Pie

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Ma Po Tofu - a Warrior's Meal


It seems only fitting after my big announcement that I come back with a Chinese recipe. It seems I've been gone a bit and I haven't even left home. The last few weeks have been so busy with Manservant getting ready to leave for his European journey. He will be gone until around 4th of July and after having him home for a bit, I'm not sure I'm so excited about his going. Then again, life is sure a lot more peaceful around here when he's gone-but also a lot more quiet...  He promises my punch list will be met, before I venture across the sea to see him, but a lot of our budget will be going to the three week journey to China in September, so we are carefully watching our spending. Well. I am carefully watching our spending. We are supposed to hear from the company about the rules of travelling wives, but as of yet those documents seem to be lost in space. Manservant seems to take it all in stride. Anyone know anything about Dusseldorf?

Spring chores have also been in full swing. Between adding on to our sprinkler system so we can plant some new trees and fixing the swamp cooler that was working before shutting it off in the winter, patching the waterfall leak, putting a few more boards on my folly and keeping the weeds at bay, plus looking for someone to mow the lawn this year- it is always rush rush before you know who leaves. Fill the prescriptions, get a haircut, wait to make hotel reservations until the day before, pay the bills, find repairman, get the toilet snaked for tree roots, figure out the trees to be planted and that budget and oh my-the man just drives me crazy. He is trying to get a lot done before he leaves, (I think tomorrow,) still hasn't made his flight arrangements, and the weather totally sucks. Gray and rainy and downright cold which perhaps has put my mood in a bit of a funk. Even though he will be back in July, he will then go and probably finish out the year over there-somewhere-which may or may not be  in Dusseldorf, where I may or may not see him. Are you beginning to see why I've been picking up my mind all over the place?

And oh yeah. Geordie particularly loves the trench that skirts the perimeter of our property that will soon hold the new irrigation tubing. It appears muddy ditches are highly attractive to low lying, white, long haired dogs of the Skye terrier breed. As is the rain. Rain seems to remind him of Scotland-not that he's ever seen Scotland, but I believe it's in the genes.


Then there is the matter of my friend. My friend has also been preying on my mind as I closely monitor her progress with twice weekly visits and batches of soup and snacks for her visitors and cookies for her nurses, as I've watched her become a warrior in the true sense of the word. She has been a warrior for 16 years and the time finally came for her blood to meet her sister's. Undergoing a bone marrow transplant is no easy task, but my friend does it with such grace and humor and dignity that she is my hero in every which way. After sending out a photo of her freshly shaven head with the caption, "I told them just an inch!"  makes this woman appreciate just what that really means. My friend brought her own French toile tablecloth to cover the ugly brown melamine table in her hospital room, and my friend who brought yards of hot pink tulle to drape above her bed is the bee's knees. Looking at this gray soggy weather might seem depressing but being cloistered in a hospital room for around thirty days, makes gray and soggy seem pretty sunny.


So I've made batches of chicken soup and artichoke soup and wild rice chicken soup, and split pea soup, and this chicken casserole which she and her husband, and me and my Manservant adore. I've made Saigon Chex mix for visitors and crunchy seedy bars that she loves and I don't, and fresh frozen applesauce. I've brought in those cute little fruit lozenges for her to suck on and chocolate pudding and chocolate bars and truffled marcona almonds and I don't know what else. We still have a few weeks to go and this week she can't eat and is really battling through this like a trooper, so I need some new ideas for next week. She doesn't care for pasta but I have brought mashed potatoes and mashed potato soup. Her taste buds aren't affected, but comfort food seems to be hitting the spot. I need ideas, my friends. My brain is a bit fried, too! What do you eat when you aren't feeling well?

Yeah, this is where I've been without leaving home. I've been roaming in a million places with a million thoughts, counting my good blessings and hoping for more. For all. For peaceful warriors everywhere...

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I've been eating ma po tofu for a number of years now. It is comfort food for me. Soft and luscious from the tofu, spicy and numbing with Szechuan peppercorns, it isn't for everyone, but you don't know until you've tried. It is said to have been invented by a pockmarked (Ma tzi) old woman or grandma (Po po). Certainly not the most appetizing thought, but this woman sure could cook. Hailing from the province of Szechuan, this is a classic Chinese preparation. I've made a number of versions but this latest one is from Ruth Reichl's newest book, "My Kitchen Year." It's kind of ironic to me that she describes it as warrior food. "The smooth white blandness of the white bean curd-the sharp red intensity of the peppercorns"... Truly this is a dish that warms the insides, makes you sweat, brings tears to your eyes and has you begging for more.


Ma Po Tofu
Serves 4
Time to Make: About 25 minutes
Ingredients:
1 c chicken stock
2 T Chinese Black Bean sauce with chilies
2 T soy sauce
1 pound soft tofu, drained and cut into 1" cubes
1 T cornstarch mixed with 2 T of water
2 t Szechuan peppercorns
2-3 T peanut oil
4 scallions, chopped fine, green and white parts separated
2 T minced garlic
1 knob fresh ginger or 1-2 T
1/2 lb ground pork
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil

White Rice for serving

Directions:
Pour chicken stock into a large measuring cup. Add the black bean sauce and soy sauce. Set aside.
Mix the cornstarch in a small bowl and stir in 2 T of water to make a slurry.
Toast the peppercorns in a hot, dry wok for a minute or so or until they are fragrant. Allow to cool and grind to a powder. I usually put them on a paper plate-top them with some wax paper and bang them with a meat cleaver. They will be more coarse, but that is good enough for me. Wipe out wok.

Before cooking make sure all ingredients are prepped and placed by the stove. Chinese cooking is quick!

Heat your wok or large skillet with 2-3 T of peanut oil until it is not quite smoking. Toss in the garlic, the white part of the scallions and the ginger, tossing quickly until fragrant. Add the pork and cook quickly until the pork is gray and not pink. Add the chicken stock mixture and the tofu. Cook for a few minutes until the tofu begins to fall apart. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and allow the sauce to thicken. Add a splash of sesame oil and the green chopped scallions. Toss together and sprinkle on the peppercorns. Serve with white rice.

More to Try:
Black Pepper Tofu
Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
Fresh Fried Rice with Jerky and Potato Chips

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Corn, Poblano and Mushroom Tacos with Chorizo and Guacamole


Just like these tacos look a bit discombobulated, I've felt a bit the same since Passover. It's rush, rush, cook, cook, clean, clean and then it's over. How quick and fast it comes. But life moves quickly and has brought exciting news in the last week, Manservant who has been anchored here the last few months, will now be working in Europe for six months. I think this means they will pay for me to visit, but I am still awaiting the final result. So exciting, huh, but I've got something bigger and better.

China! Well China is bigger than Europe, is it not? Finally, finally, finally... we have booked our trip to visit Alex Odie San China Boy. September will find us arriving, for I think the Mid Autumn festival, and we will be there for three weeks. I've never had a vacation for three weeks, unless we talk about summer vacation. Even Zoe is meeting us there, so I'm not sure China will know what has 
hit them!


Planning the trip will take some time. Alex Odie San China Boy has told me to pack light and walk a lot before I come. Good advice and I am motivated. (So Mom-how did you get in here?) Well, my mom is a huge fan of the Cooking Light magazine and I decided to really read it. There are lots of enticing recipes in there and though I'm not sure I think they are all so light, I followed one to the T. (Well, not quite.) But almost. Yes, we are on a new regime around here and for some reason my body has been wanting to eat-which is not good! Sometimes I can exist without much and other times I just want to gorge. I know for a fact that I eat under stress and I've been feeling stressed for awhile. Even going to China makes me feel stressed, because even though the tickets are bought and paid for, I still worry about the rest! I know it will work out, but after so many tough years, I have a hard time being carefree.


So back to this damn recipe. Who doesn't love tacos? I just went to the Asian market where I bought more than a pound of fresh shitake mushrooms for like $3. They looked so good, I couldn't resist. So then I saw this recipe and knew I should try it. But I had chorizo in the fridge, too. And yeah, you know, chorizo wasn't in the recipe, but it should be. So if you want to leave the chorizo out, no problemo, but if you use a really good brand and blot it really well, I think it will not be so bad. Well, it's not bad, it's really good, but you know what I mean. 

So happy Cinco de Mayo, my friends. Let's celebrate Mexico's victory over France in 1862 and also my upcoming trip!


Corn, Poblano and Mushroom Tacos with Chorizo and Guacamole
Serves 6 
Time to Make: About 30 minutes
Almost From: Cooking Light
Ingredients:
1 lb fresh chorizo (I use Boulder brand) (optional)
Guacamole (Look here) (You may want to leave the pineapple out and double this with 2 avocados)
1/4 c Mexican crema or sour cream
1 T adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers (I always have a container of these in my fridge. They keep forever.)
2 T olive oil
2 c fresh yellow corn from about 4 ears or use frozen (I used the frozen charred corn from Trader Joe's)
1 c finely chopped, stemmed and seeded fresh poblano peppers (the dark green kind of which you need about 2)
4 c sliced mixed mushrooms (I used 1/2 shitakes and 1/2 domestic)
4 minced garlic cloves
12 corn tortillas-warm
6 T crumbled cotija or feta cheese
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Directions:
Heat a large cast iron pan and add chorizo and cook until done-crumbling as it cooks. While chorizo is cooking prepare guacamole and chipotle sauce. Mix crema or sour cream with sauce from chipotle. Whisk well. Set both guacamole and sauce aside. When chorizo is done cooking, remove from pan to a paper towel lined plate. Blot well. Wipe out pan with another paper towel and add 1 T oil. Add corn and cook 4 minutes or until corn is caramelized and slightly charred, stirring occasionally. Place corn in a smll bowl and set aside. (You can skip this step if you bought the corn from Trader Joe's). Add 1 T oil back to pan and add poblanos. Saute 4 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Stir in salt to taste. Add chorizo and corn back to mushroom mixture and keep warm while you make the tortillas.

Assembly: On a warm tortilla, spread 1 1/2 T of guacamole in a 4 inch circle on tortilla. Top each with about 1/4 c of mushroom mixture, 1 1/2 t chipotle sauce and 1 1/2 t cheese. Garnish with cilantro. OLE!

More for your fiesta!







                                                           Coconut Rum Tres Leches Cake