Monday, March 16, 2009

Cooking in New Jersey


Emily here. (I am too lazy to login to my own account.) My mother arrived safely in New Jersey last night, and tonight we got to cooking. The menu was calzones with a simple marinara dipping sauce. Recipes to come tomorrow!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Foreign Food

To William, foreign food used to mean anything that wasn't fried or which was easily identified as being a green vegetable. He'll eat sausage with all of its mysterious by products without blinking an eye, a juxtaposition I personally can't fathom. If I want to fix something with an ingredient he would refuse, like I did last night, I just don't tell him what is in it until after he's already eaten it and it's too late to say no.
Last night's chicken was a classic example. Spanish oven baked chicken has green olives and raisins in it - two definite no nos from William's perspective - but even he had to admit it was seriously good.

To go with it, I made Spanish black beans over white rice and a bread I've never heard of, Pan de Horno. If he wouldn't eat the chicken, at least there would be something else to fall back on.

Pollo Estofado


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of pepper
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced pitted green olives or olive salad

3 pounds split chicken breasts

2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup dry vermouth

1 In a medium bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, garlic powder, pepper, bay leaves, raisins and olives. Prick the skin of the chicken with fork tines and add to the marinade, coating well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2 Preheat oven to 350�F. Place chicken in a 12x8x2-inch baking dish. Combine wine with the marinade and pour over chicken. Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar. Bake uncovered at 350�F, basting occasionally, until chicken is tender, about 50 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Serves 4.

Spanish Black Beans


1 pound black beans
1 tsp salt
1 scant tsp sugar
1 medium to large onion, chopped
2 green peppers, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ jalapeno pepper, minced
1 TBS dried oregano
3 bay leaves
¼ cup olive oil
1 TBS red wine vinegar

Put the beans in a large pot and pick though to remove any little stones or discolored beans.
Add enough water to cover the beans by about two inches. Bring to a full boil then turn the burner off and cover the pot and let the beans sit in on the burner for one hour.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring the mixture back to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer slowly for several hours or until the liquid is reduced and the beans are soft. Add additional salt if needed. As long as the beans are soft, the amount of liquid is up to you. I usually simmer for an hour or two with the lid on then remove the lid and thicken the beans with the lid off.
You can serve this as a soup or over white rice.

Pan de Horno

1 1/2 T. yeast3 c. warm water

7 c. bread flour (plus more for kneading)

2 t. salt

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil


Mix the yeast in the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.After the yeast sits, add several cups of flour and the salt.Stir in the oil.

Add flour until you can no longer stir with a spoon.

Place the dough on a flat surface with some flour sprinkled on it.

Knead the dough until it becomes firm and elastic.

Grease the bowl and place the dough in it.

Turn the dough so it is greased all over.

Cover the bowl and set in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume.Remove the dough and knead it again over a floured tabletop,t o remove air pockets and until the dough feels smooth.

Return the dough to a covered bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Cut the dough as desired to form bars, loaves or balls and place on greased pans.

Cut slits in top of bread as desired.Let bread rise on pans 30 more minutes.

Place in a very hot oven (450 degrees F) for 30 to 50 minutes(30 minutes was plenty for three balls),or until the tops of the bars become toasted and they sound hollow when knocked on the bottom. Remove the bread from the pans and let cool.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Galloping Gourmet, I'm not

But I did make a couple of things for my friend, Nancy, to take to her tailgaiting party at the Little Everglades Steeplechase in Dade City on Sunday.

She commissioned me to make deviled eggs and a cucumber salad. When I asked her what kind of cucumber salad she said one with tomatoes, onions, mayonaise and dill.
As hard as I searched to find a recipe that fit her description, I came up empty-handed and I had to make one up so I guess I'll call it:

Nancy's Creamy Cucumber Salad for 12


5 medium to large cucumbers

3 large ripe tomatoes

1 medium red onion

3/4 cups mayonaise

3/4 cups sour cream

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 1/2 Tbs coarse ground mustard

1 tsp salt

6 Tbs fresh dill

1/2 tsp pepper


Peel the cucumbers and slice them about 1/4 inch thick.

Dice the tomatoes and the onion.

Mix together the mayonaise, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Mince the dill and stir it into the dressing.

In a large bowl, layer the cucumbers, tomatoes and onion and pour the dressing on top.

Mix right before serving.

Hint: don't let the salad sit too long or the cucumbers will seep some of their liquid and the salad will be watery. If you have to make this ahead, keep the dressing in a seperate container and pour the liquid out of the vegetables before adding it to the salad. (Live and learn).

I also made two different kinds of deviled eggs - a dozen filled with a simple classic mixture for the purists and a second dozen with sweet pickle relish for the Southerners among us.

A couple of tips: I can't stress this enough, read the labels on the ingredients you plan to use.

I drive William absolutely crazy at the grocery store. He claims that I have to pick up every jar or relish on the shelves and every bottle of mustard before I pick one.

He's absolutely right. I do. Why pay twice as much for mustard because you recognise the label when the generic is exactly the same?

I know it is the same because the ingredients are listed on the label in the order of volume. So, if you are comparing one with the other, if the same ingredients are listed in the same order, you can pretty much bet that it would take a more discerning palate than yours or mine to differentiate between the two.

Sometimes generics are a great option. Sometimes they are not.

When I was comparing the sweet pickle relish jars I noticed that the bargain generic brands listed cauliflower as an ingredient, the name brands did not. Cauiflower is not one of those things that jump into my mind when I am thinking about pickles so I paid more for the smaller jar of what I consider "the real thing."

If anyone can tell me how to boil eggs so that they peel consistently please let me know. Out of 2 dozen eggs, one in three peeled easily. I said some ugly things about eggs and chickens too while I was making those deviled eggs.

Deviled eggs are easy once you get past the peeling part of it. If you use jumbo eggs, for each dozen egg yolks, add 6 Tbs mayonaise, 1 Tbs of mustard (I used coarse grained) 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. To make eggs with sweet pickle relish follow the same ratio of ingredients except for each tablespoon of relish, subtract one tablespoon of mayonaise.

To make filling the egg halves easier, spoon the filling into a 1 quart plastic storage bag. Cut the tip off one corner of the bottom of the bag and squeeze the filling into the eggs.

A pastry bag will do the same thing, but then you have to wash it. When you are through with the storage bag you just throw it away.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Happy 6 month birthday Jack

Winging it.

Well, this was supposed to be a post about veal marsala. Every week I eagerly await the the new food ads for the grocery stores in my area - Winn Dixie, Publix, Sweetbay, Bravo Supermarket. They all used to arrive in the mailbox every Tuesday like clockwork, but now I usually just view the ads online since half the stores don't send them anymore.

Because we live about 10 miles from town, before I leave the house, I plan where to go and what I'm fixing for dinner based on what's on sale.

Yesterday I had planned a trip to the Bravo for veal shoulder chops for $2.99 a pound. I was going to remove the meat from the bones, pound it into scallopini and make one of our favorite meals - veal marsala with mushrooms and capers, polenta, Italian bread and a romaine salad.

When I got to the store, however, they did not have the veal. This happens more often than it should in my opinion, not just at that store but at most of them and it's annoying. Why advertise an item you aren't going to stock?

Anyway, after considering the choices, I decided to head over to the Winn Dixie for chicken wings instead. They are on sale for $1.79. So we ended up with Buffalo chicken wings and a spinach salad with hot bacon dressing.

Yes, you can buy the frozen wings which are already cut into "wingettes" but most of them contain a 15% solution of some kind of broth - If I want broth in my chicken, I'd rather do it myself - the fewer chemicals in any given food product, the better, I think.

Cutting the whole wing up doesn't require any particular skill - I use kitchen shears to nip the wing tips off and to disjoint the rest of the wing. If you don't divide it perfectly, who cares?

Buffalo Wings (similar to Hooter's®)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. black pepper

20 chicken wing segments

1/2 cup butter OR margarine

1/2 cup hot sauce

Oil for deep frying


In a big bowl combine flour, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and peppers.

Coat chicken entirely in the flour mixture; refrigerate coated wings for 1 hour; coat chicken again with remaining flour mixture or, do what I do and just leave the bowl of flour and chicken wings in the refrigerator and toss them again just before frying.

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat butter and hot sauce just until butter melts; turn heat to low and keep warm on stove top or, just melt the butter and the spices in the microwave.

Shake the wings in a collander to remove excess flour (it just burns in the fryer if you don't.)

Deep-fry chicken, 8 - 10 pieces at a time, in 375 degree oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil) for 13 minutes, turning once or twice.-Drain chicken on a wire cooling rack for 30 seconds, then immediately toss fried chicken in buffalo sauce mixture and remove with a slotted spoon.-Repeat with the second batch of chicken.

Keep the first batch of chicken on a baking sheet in a 300 to 350 degree oven to stay hot while making the second batch.

Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing


1 9 ounce bag of pre-washed spinach leaves

6 hard boiled eggs

1/2 to 1 pound thick sliced bacon

1 pint grape tomatoes

1/2 cup bacon grease

1/2 cup cider vinergar

1 tsp. honey (or more if you like sweet dressing)

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook the bacon on a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels Reserve 1/2 cup of the drippings to make the dressing.

Use as much of the bacon as you like in the salad. I figure our arteries are doomed any way so I usually use it all.

Put the spinach and tomatoes in a large salad bowl along with the sliced hard boiled eggs.

Make the dressing by heating the bacon grease, vinegar and honey in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. You want the dressing to be very hot so it will slightly wilt the spinach.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

Whenever I ask William what kind of pasta he would like for supper the answer will invariably be, "the kind with the sausage and red peppers."

Good choice. It's not labor intensive, tastes great and the leftovers make a really good pizza sauce (see post below).

The two most important ingredients in this sauce are the sausage and the peppers. Don't substitute green peppers - it will not taste the same.

I have also used supermarket brand sausage and regretted it.


3Tbs butter or olive oil

3 medium to large red peppers

1 pound hot or mild Italian sausage

1 large white onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 28 ounce can of diced or chef's cut tomatoes

1 14 ounce can tomato sauce

1 Tbs Italian seasoning

1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth.


Dice the onions, mince the garlic and cut the red peppers into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

Remove the sausages from their casings. The easiest way to do this is to run a sharp knife down the length of the sausage and peel the casing away. Pinch the sausage into small pieces and saute them in the butter or olive oil until they are lightly browned.

Add the peppers, onion and garlic and saute for five or ten minutes over medium heat until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the Italian seasoning, tomatoes, tomato sauce and broth or wine.
Simmer for at least 30 minutes or up to a couple of hours. The longer the sauce simmers, the more mellow the flavor will be.