Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Taco Salad

I simply form and bake medium sized flour tortillas to form the shell.  It helps to fill the bottom with dried beans or pie weights of some sort to keep them from puffing.  Fifteen minutes at 350F should do the trick.

The rest is more of an assembly line than cooking, since I use leftover chili on the bed of lettuce, then garnish with diced tomato, shredded cheese, sour cream, and if I have any, slices of jalapeƱo or serrano.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Blueberry Pie

I don't use a recipe, but the one thing I do before using berries in a pie is cook them with sugar and corn starch.  If I don't, I run the risk of ending up with a runny filling, which makes the bottom crust soggy.  Yuck.

Shrimp Etouffee

I don't have a recipe for making the sauce; I just make it.  In reality, it was much darker than the pictures taken with flash make it look, but I didn't do any color corrections, so it looks way too orange-y.

That's the sauce, after simmering for somewhere between two and three hours in the dutch oven.

In the end, it tasted really good.  The shrimp went in for only the last few minutes, before serving over rice, with sugar snap peas.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shrimp and Pork Potstickers

I'm pretty sure I found the recipes for the dough (2 c. flour and 3/4 c. hot water), filling, and dipping sauce on Chow.com.  While I keep lots of Asian ingredients on hand, and often do Asian inspired dishes or marinades, this is my first stab at dumplings, or in this case, potstickers.  The same dough can be used for gyoza or shumai, if it's rolled a little thinner than for potstickers.

First, we have the formed dumplings, waiting to be fried, then steamed.

The cooking part (fry for a couple of minutes on the flat bottom, then add water, cover, and steam for three more) went off without a hitch.  I served it with a dipping sauce and asparagus.

The result was surprisingly good.  The ones I've gotten in a restaurant usually have neater pleating on the dough that forms the crescent shape, but the taste really isn't any better.  The only thing I would change next time is to either use reduced sodium soy sauce, or go 3:1 regular soy to water, in the dipping sauce.  The flavor was very Asian, but a little too salty, even for this salt lover.  The good news is that I got the hang of pleating the one side of the dough fairly quickly, and really only ended up with two or three sloppy looking ones.

It gives me one more thing to do with ground pork besides making breakfast sausage.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Preparations

For Christmas, I'm catering again for my parents.  We cook the meal at my house, then pack it all into a cooler with a couple of bricks that we bake, along with the ham, to keep the hot stuff at least warm until we arrive, and keep the stuff that needs to stay cool separate.  Then we drive over to their place, and unpack it all, to be served buffet style.

My dad loves ham, and the rest of us like it, too, so that's what we serve for Christmas.  There must be stuffing, for my dad, and potatoes au gratin for me.  Dad also loves his cranberry sauce, so there must be that.  I make it with fresh cranberries, apples, and a handful of craisins.  We call it "crapplesauce" in private; it tastes anything but crappy, though.  And, we have to have a pumpkin pie.  Why, I don't know, but we all like it, with vanilla whipped cream, so I make those from scratch, too.

In October, we buy our pumpkins from a local pick-your-own farm, then use them later for their food value.  It's not difficult to make and freeze your own pumpkin mash, as long as you use a food mill with the finest insert/die, and leave it to drain in a coffee strainer for a few hours before bagging and freezing it, by the pint.  One pint = one pie.  Or, a quart of soup, if that's the way you roll.

Cookies.  There have to be cookies.  I like to make spice cookies and cream cheese cookies, both of which utilize a cookie press.  The spice ones, if you ball the dough and just bake them like that, resemble and taste like pfefferneusse, minus the anise.  For the cream cheese ones, it doesn't really matter what die you use in the press, but the star shaped one makes nice wreaths, which I can sprinkle with green sugar, just to give them a holiday look.

I used a BB&B coupon today to get bucks off a few kitchen gadgets I wanted:  a really sturdy silicon spatula, one of those things to measure out shortening or lard, so you can scrape it off the top, rather than trying to carve it out of a measuring cup, and a small "ice cream scoop" to use for measuring out cookie dough for drop style cookies.  Yes, the small pleasures of (small) kitchen gadgetry make me happy, as long as they're not too expensive.  The fat measuring thingy is the only one trick pony in the bunch, and I can live with that.

The candy has also been made: peppermint bark and peanut brittle.  I was a little too low on butter to make a batch of English toffee, even though I had all the rest of the ingredients, so peanut brittle it was.

We'll still need to make a grocery run over the weekend for fresh veggies and few other items, but we basically have Christmas covered.

We already bought the frozen duck for New Year's Eve.  I saw it in the grocery store last week, and grabbed one, because they don't always have them when I want one.  Besides, we had the freezer space.  I make that with a mushroom, sage, long grain and wild rice mix, and whatever other side dishes grab me at the time.

My family never had a New Year's Eve tradition when I was growing up, but duck has become ours over the past decade or so.  We got stuck doing a goose one New Year's Eve, because we couldn't find a duck; the goose was fine, but not worth the cost, and the mess the dog caused when he toppled the roasting pan  full of grease from the stovetop (minus the goose) onto the floor took me an hour to clean properly, so that we wouldn't slip.  No.  More.  Goose.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweet and Sour Pork

I've made this before with chicken instead of pork.  The sauce is the main thing, along with pineapple chunks.  For veggies, I'll use practically anything that needs to be used -- broccoli, zucchini, or whatever.  This evening, I went with bell pepper and onion, and butchered a fresh pineapple, rather than having to resort to canned in juice.  Sweet and sour sauce recipe follows the picture.

Sweet and Sour Sauce (makes approx. 2 cups):
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. white vinegar
2/3 c. pineapple juice (or water)
1/4 c. soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
1 Tbs. ketchup (or tomato paste)
2-1/2 Tbs. cornstarch

Mix ingredients; they will thicken when boiled.  Add more water, if you like it thinner.  Can be made in a saucepan ahead, and stored in the refrigerator for later use. 

For the meat portion of the dish, cube it, and marinate it in soy sauce for an hour or so before starting to saute the veggies.  The meat and pineapple chunks go in after the veggies are nearly done, and the sauce at the end, after the meat has browned.  The meat will finish cooking as the sauce comes to a boil and thickens.

Monkey Bread

The recipe is from Beard on Bread.  It calls for pre-soaked dried currants, but I didn't have any, and opted to use pomegranate "craisins" instead.  I'm sure it would work with raisins, dried cranberries, or even dried blueberries.  My bag of dried pomegranate seeds was brand new, so they seemed moist enough that I didn't bother to soak them, but did give them a rough chop to be closer to the size of dried currants.

I've made this recipe by the book before.  Today's improvisation worked extremely well.  Monkey bread is a sweet yeast bread that requires two risings, plucking off balls of dough to roll in a butter/brown sugar/dried fruit mix, and uses a tube or angel food pan.  The texture and moisture is a bit like a sticky bun.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Zucchini and Straightneck Pie

This is sort of a white pizza, topped with zucchini, yellow squash, and a few slices of cherry tomato.  The "white" part is a combination of ricotta with a little cream cheese, salt, pepper, and finely chopped fresh rosemary.  On top of the squash, I sprinkled some ground cayenne, and finely chopped fresh oregano.  Every veggie and herb used, including the cayenne that I dried and ground myself, came from our own kitchen garden or herb garden.

Bake at 400F for about 40-45 minutes (the crust is more like a pie crust than a true pizza dough, so it needs the extra time).  That's parchment paper underneath the pizza, so I don''t have to clean the cookie sheet.  ;)

It's surprisingly rich, despite my use of part-skim ricotta, and only an ounce or two of light cream cheese.  Also, it was surprisingly good.  I was inspired by something similar on Foodbuzz from a few days ago, but changed around the seasonings, and added the tomatoes, which turned out to be a good move.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Zucchini Bread

This was made using the "Carl Gohs' Zucchini Bread" recipe in Beard on Bread.  It's very similar to carrot cake, using oil, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Indeed, it tastes phenomenal with cream cheese frosting, a thin coat of butter, or just plain.

Fresh Cherry Pie

Made from fresh cherries, with a rather sloppy lattice crust, I nonetheless like this pie.  The cherries weren't particularly sweet, so I went with 2/3 c. of sugar, rather than my usual half a cup, and a good two heaping tablespoons of corn starch, with a pinch of salt for the filling.  Yes, it looks . . . um . . . rustic.  ;)