Monthly Archives: January 2012

French Toast with Home Made Butter


I was hungry yesterday, and was looking at some bread I’d purchased at the Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago, actually it’s been hiding in my freezer and since I’d forgotten about it, I finally pulled it out and started eating it again.   This loaf was made  with Chia Seeds in it and makes a wonderful toast.   But yesterday, I was more in the mood for something sweet.  So, I made me some French Toast with it, and then topped it with the Homemade butter I’d just made.   I make my butter from time to time, usually when I’ve got some leftover whipping cream in the fridge that’s about ready to start walking on its own.  In other words, well, you get my drift.   The butter I made the other day was more like the French butter because the cream was just on the verge of being sour, one more day in the fridge and it would have turned on me.

I put two and two together and came up with this.

My French Toast batter is dead simple.   Just whisk together eggs, milk, a half teaspoon of sugar for each egg you use and most important,  a tablespoon or so of melted butter.   Well, you know I used some of the butter I’d just made for that.

I cooked the french toast in the pan until they were lovely and golden brown, topped them with the butter.   And then added some syrup.   They were so good.   And because the bread was so hearty, the meal actually lasted with me for a while.

In fact, it was so good, I think I’ll do a repeat today. And I did.  But this time I took some more pictures, and better ones, I think.

So, after you’ve whisked together your batter, then you dunk the bread.  And a side note here, don’t use that soft, white supermarket bread for this.  Get yourself some artisan bread or better yet, some nice homemade bread, and if its whole grain, so much the better.  Let it get a touch stale, all that will do is enable it to sop up more of the egg batter.   Then, dunk it.

You can see the bits of melted butter sitting on top of the bread here.

 

The Chia seeds are so pretty inside the slice.

Let it sit in the batter for a few minutes, add a second slice of bread, and move the first piece to the top of the stack, then rotate them a couple more times so they can both suck up the batter.    You can just see it happening here.
Place them in a pan over med-low heat, and let them cook on each side until they’re browned.

After they’ve browned and cooked through, then plate them and add a little more of that home-made butter on top.   Then my Danish side came out here.   I looked at those wonderful slices of bread sitting on the plate and they looked a little naked,

and then I glanced at the jar of Strawberry Jam, which had just about a tablespoon and a half of jam left, and the next thing I knew I’d glopped the jam onto the plate and it looked even better than yesterday.

 

See what I mean.   I grew up with putting jam on french toast or pancakes, very rarely did we use syrup.  It just wasn’t done.

See the little Chia seeds in there?

And after one bite, I knew why we used jam on our breakfast breads.   It was even better than yesterday.
Hope  you’re having a good day as well, and I’ll see you later.

Veggie Pizza


 

 

I love a good veggie pizza, and I made such a good one the other night for our Tapa’s night.   I was kinda playing around with toppings, and made what I’ve heard referred to as a Lady’s Pizza.  I think it was called that because while there’s cheese on here, there is no tomato sauce, and it’s really rather dainty.  Although I did notice some of the guys eating this as well.

To start with, your favorite pizza dough.   I don’t have one yet, but I think I’m going to start experimenting a little.   I used a box mix, (I know, but…) patted it out into a rough rectangle, then drizzled some EVOO over that.  Spread the oil around then dotted it with some well-drained, frozen spinach, added some Brie cheese, in little chunks,some sautéed mushrooms, some sautéed green onions and some thin slivers of sautéed green peppers.   Topped that whole thing with some shredded italian cheeses, and drizzled some more EVOO over the top and

then baked it until the cheese was melted and golden, and the crust was browned.    And it was soooooo  good.

Although, the next time I think I’ll try using some more fun cheeses, as well as a better dough.   I have recipes for Pizza dough that need to be evaluated.
However, in the meantime, this was very tasty, and I noticed that it disappeared faster than the other regular type pizza I’d made.

Happy Pizza’ing to you.

Grilled Steak and Cheese


Some years ago I had an absolutely yummy grilled steak sandwich at a chain restaurant.   That particular restaurant isn’t one we frequent so some time went by before we ate there again, and by this time, they had changed the menu and the sandwich was no longer available.     The other day I had a lovely piece of leftover steak and decided to recreate the sandwich.    Which would have worked out really well, but I didn’t have Swiss Cheese, and the bread I had on hand wasn’t the same either.   It was actually better than what we’d had in the restaurant.    I persevered however, and here’s my version, and it was, very tasty.

I spread some Caesar dressing on the bread, layered my lovely, very thinly sliced steak on it.

And since I didn’t have Swiss cheese, I added some shredded Colby Jack cheese on top, then placed another buttered slice on bread on top of that and placed them in the pan.  Did you know that if you use shredded cheese on any kind of grilled sandwich, rather than sliced cheese, it will melt faster?   Just one of those little facts I like throw in while the food’s cooking.

I was kind of hungry at the point and drooling, which wasn’t a pretty sight at all, however, I wiped my chin, and waited while the sandwiches cooked, well, grilled up in the pan.

The finished result, and yes, one of them has a big bite taken out of it, but I was hungry and it tasted so good.  And at least I took a picture before both sandwiches disappeared.

You need some lovely bread for this, I choose a nice Artisanal baguette, thinly sliced, butter, Caesar dressing, some cheese, and a nice piece of grilled Steak.   My  steak was medium rare, and it did cook a little more, so I would start with a steak cooked a little rarer than you like.    Cooling it before slicing it, is also recommended, as the meat gets a chance to firm up and then you can slice it very thinly.    I actually do refrigerate any leftover steak and slice it thinly the next day and then I freeze it or use it up right away.    Leftover steak can be used in so many dishes.
Enjoy.

Pabellon Criollo, Venezuelan Shredded Beef


I got to try Venezuela’s national dish the other night, at least according to Wikipedia it’s the national dish.   We started the meal with a Beet Salad, (which is going to go into my repertoire),  Pabellon Criollo, Arepa’s and of course Black Beans and Rice.   Personally, I could have made a meal out of the Beans and Rice, but the meat was very nice as well.

Once a month a local restaurant sponsors a cooking demonstration, you may remember I was the guest chef in August and introduced a few people to Frikadeller.   And from the comments I received later on, they were well received.

Carolina Narine was the guest chef this month and demonstrated how to make Arepa’s and Pabellon Criollo to us.

I am going to be forever in her debt cause now I know how to make Arepa’s, and they are so yummy good.  The Pabellon Criollo was excellent as well.

To start with we had a really tasty Beet Salad,  I will share this recipe later, after I try making it.

Then the main course, Pabellon Criollo with Black Beans and Rice and some fried Plantains.

Carolina was telling us about how to make Arepa’s and was looking to see if the recipe had been included in the recipe packet, but she gave me the recipe a little later.

One tip she shared with us was to make a dimple on one side of the Arepa before cooking it in a little oil, kinda like you do when making a hamburger patty.  This helps it to cook a little more evenly.  After it’s browned on both sides, stick it in the oven to finish cooking.

Ingredients for the meat dish

Here’s the recipe that Carolina Narine gave us for the meat.

Pabellon Criollo
 
1 lb Flank Steak
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 grated onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 Cup Oil
2 Cups chopped tomato

Wash the meat and open it up with a knife by making successive cuts, about every 2 inches.   Prepare a marinade by mixing the 1 tablespoon of oil, Worcestershire sauce, grated onion, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin.   Rub the meat thoroughly and marinate for 30 minutes.    Place meat on a metal baking tray and bake at 350 deg. for 10-12 minutes per side.   In a separate pan, heat the 1/2 cup oil, add the two cups of onion and cook until brown, 3-4 minutes.  Shred browned meat.   Add the red pepper and tomato, cook another 3-4 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper ,Worcestershire sauce and remaining marinade.   Cook 4 minutes, adding the meat and simmer, stirring occasionally until dry, but still moist, about 10-15 minutes.

I do like these cooking demo’s, I learn so much from them.    And get to expand my recipe file at the same time, it’s a win win situation.

Pork Chops with Apples and Raisins Danish Style


One of my favorite meals growing up was my Mom’s Pork Chops with Apples and Raisins.   I would inhale the pork chop, grateful for every drop of luscious apple gravy on it.   I still make this dish, and every time I make it, get transported back to the farm and the halcyon days of childhood.  OK, so I might exaggerate a little here, but really, it is one of my favorite dishes.    It’s been awhile since I’ve made anything Danish so here goes.

 

You can use any kind of pork chop with this, for today I’ve got some slices of a pork loin, but this dish works very well with bone in chops as well.  And the long slow cooking tenderizes the pork very nicely.

To start with, brown the amount of chops you need for your family in a little hot oil.

You don’t need to cook them all the way through.

Place the chops into a greased oven safe dish, salt and pepper them

sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar,

then cover them with some sliced apples and a handful of raisins, and the last item, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar.  Yup, brown sugar.

Cover and bake in a 325 deg. oven for half an hour,

then take the cover off and bake for another 45 minutes.  There will be some liquid left in the pan, which will be sweet.  This is great spooned over the chops when you serve this dish.   You can serve this with some lovely boiled red potato’s, some green beans and maybe a nice grated carrot salad.

I think I mentioned at the beginning that I like this dish, so bear with me for the following pictures.

 

Now pardon me, I need to go and finish eating.

Here’s the recipe:

4 Pork Chops
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup water
2 Apples, cored and sliced
1/2 cup Raisins
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Grease an oven proof pan and set aside while you core and slice the apples, set those aside.     Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet til shimmering, then add the pork chops to the skillet and brown quickly on each side, you don’t need to cook them all the way.   After they’ve browned, place them in the oven proof pan and layer the apples on top.   Deglaze the pan with about a half cup of water and pour that over the apples.  Sprinkle evenly with the raisins, then sprinkle the dish with the  2 tablespoons of  Cider Vinegar, after which you sprinkle the Brown Sugar on top.  Cover and bake for half an hour, then remove the cover and continue to bake for another 45 minutes.

Quick hint – If you’re out of Brown Sugar, you can make your own by pouring a tablespoon of Molasses over a cup of white sugar, stirring it together, then sealing it in a container and setting aside for an hour for the sugar and molasses to meld together.

Home Made Chicken Stock


I keep referring to my home-made Chicken Stock, and realized that not everyone makes their own, but I do, so I wanted to share my process.   For me it’s an easy to do thing, and I always try to have a couple of containers of stock in my freezer, they come in so handy.   And if the freezer is getting a little ‘small’ cause of all the stuff I’ve frozen, I just make the stock a little more concentrated.   Wait a minute, I should do that anyway, it makes more sense, less space, more stock, a win win situation.

The absolute best base for stock is an old laying hen or rooster, but these days, we just don’t have access to old chickens, so we have to buy chickens from the store.   I make chicken stock year round, in the summer it goes into the crock pot, and in the fall or during colder weather, I do it on my kitchen stove.

And I make chicken stock when I’ve got all the ingredients together.  I save the celery leaves from the celery I buy, they freeze well, so I don’t need to go out and buy celery.  I halve and stem the onions, just wash them really well, but don’t bother peeling the onion. You wouldn’t believe the nice golden color the peels impart to the soup.   And I always have carrots on hand.   You don’t need to peel them either, (but I do), just cut them in half and dump them in.

 

Last but not least, chicken bones.  You can save the carcass from a roast chicken, a rotisserie chicken, or the leftovers from the fried chicken you made the last week.  Any leftover bones are fair game in my house.  If you make Chicken Wings, save the tips, and use those.  A couple of weeks ago I made a chicken dish and since chicken breasts were on sale for .99/lb. I grabbed a large package.  It meant I had to bone them out for my dish, but that’s easy and just takes seconds to do.   And I ended up with the bones from several breasts.  So I threw them in the oven and baked them til they were a nice golden brown.  Because I didn’t have time to make chicken stock that day, I just bagged them and chucked them into the freezer.

Basic Ingredients for this batch of Stock
Chicken bones (I used the bones from three breasts, browned in the oven)
Celery Leaves ( the tops from two stalks)
Carrots (one large carrot)
Onions ( one onion, halved)
Bay Leaf (if you like)
Water  (8 cups)
Salt and Pepper to taste, at the end.

Now here’s where the fun begins.  You can add several layers of flavor to the stock with some of the following:    Saute the onions, celery and carrots in a little olive oil before adding them to the stock.  Or roast them in the oven and let them brown a little before adding to the chicken bones.   Brown the chicken bones and then add them to the veggies, doesn’t matter, it’s all good.   Most important, let it simmer for a long, long time.  I didn’t add salt or pepper until the end, I wanted   to taste the stock, and then I only add the least amount of salt and pepper.  And then I simmer it and simmer it and simmer it.   OK, so I just simmer it on the stove top for about 3 hours, with the lid on for the first 2 hours.   The last hour is the one I use to help concentrate all that chicken  goodness.  I take the lid off and watch it.  And I want to stress this again, don’t dump in all the salt and pepper in the beginning, if you reduce the broth, you won’t reduce the salt, you’ll just concentrate it.

This batch is lovely and browned from the chicken bones I browned first, and it’s simmered long enough that I’ve managed to reduce the 8 cups of water to two ice-cube trays full of stock.
I put it into ice-cube trays and will use it to flavour gravies, just plop a nice concentrated cube into the gravy and VOILA!, instant flavour.

So now you know how I spent part of my day.    I can now go to the freezer (as soon as these freeze), take out a cube or two and throw it into some gravy, or some soup to oomph it up a little.  Whenever I like and it will be all good.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo


I tasted this Gumbo just before Christmas, we’d been invited over to a friends for dinner and it was so good.   (people have been known to invite me over, I don’t do all the cooking around here)

I love Gumbo anyway, but have to admit I’ve never made it from scratch, well, I now have a new recipe in my arsenal.    In fact, I made it the other day for dinner.   I did make a few minor changes to the original recipe, but hey, I’m the cook.   And don’t you forget it!    Sorry, I got carried away there.

I didn’t cook as much chicken as the recipe called for, but I did use the full amount of vegetables.   Veggies are good for you, aren’t they?

And this is more a note to myself, that when I put chicken stock in the freezer, to label it better.   I accidentally put some of my super charged (highly concentrated) stock into the gumbo by mistake, but was able to correct it.     And on the whole, the recipe was good.   Next time I make it I will try to use a some red or yellow bell peppers, more for the contrasting color than anything else.   I also didn’t make the full recipe of Roux either.  Something about a half cup of oil and a full cup of flour, I thought it would be too much for the three half breasts of chicken and one link of Andouille sausage I used.

Start with browning the chicken in a little oil, then set the chicken aside while you cook the roux.

This will take you a good half hour or so,  until it turns a rich dark brown.

 

You need to pay attention, cooking this over a low heat and stirring, and stirring and stirring.    I think next time I make this I will use a little butter in with it, just to add another layer of flavour.
But while it’s cooking you can chop up the vegetables, for that you need three of my fav’s, a green pepper, an onion and celery, or if you’re not into multi-tasking, just chop the veggies first and set them aside.

Chop up the celery, and onion quite finely, then rough chop the green pepper, and don’t forget the clove or two or three of garlic.  Especially since I forgot to get a picture of that.   And then the very important chile pepper.   I threw in a couple of Chile de Arbol peppers, but next time, I think I’ll add a couple more.   Not too sure where this Danish girl got her love of spice, but I do like me some spicy food.

Chop up the onion, mince the garlic and slice the sausage.   I used one link of the Andouille Sausage here.

 

Next, dump the chopped up veggies and sausage into the pan with the roux and stir it around, coating the veggies.  It will look a little odd at this point.

Pour in the stock while stirring, otherwise it kinda glops together.

Place the chicken into the veggies and stock, add a bay leaf and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes, or until the chicken and veggies are done.  And next time, I’ll cut the chicken into smaller pieces when I serve it.  These were a little unwieldy.   Even though I’d cut each piece of chicken into three.

Add either some fresh okra or some canned okra at the end, let that simmer for a few minutes, and then serve over rice.

We had enough for dinner and three lunches for me.  *giggle*, so I threw the rest into the freezer and now I have lunches.

Here is the full recipe.

Chicken Gumbo 
3 lb Chicken, cut into 6-8 pieces
1/2 cup oil
1 cup flour
2-3 dried red chili peppers or 1-2 fresh chili peppers
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 oz andouille sausage or garlic sausage, diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Dash Tabasco  (I use Crystal Hot Sauce)
Salt and pepper
4 oz fresh okra  (I used one can of okra, could also use frozen here)
Cooked rice

Heat the oil in a large saute’ pan or frying pan and brown the chicken on both sides, 3-4 pieces at a time.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
Lower the heat under the pan and add the flour.  Cook over a very low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring constantly until the flour turns a rich dark brown.   Take the pan off the heat occasionally, so that the flour does not burn.   Add the chili peppers, onion, green pepper, sausage and garlic to the roux and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat, stirring continuously.  Pour on the stock and stir well.   Add the bay leaf and dash of Tabasco if desired, and return the chicken to the pan.   Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
Top and tail the okra if using fresh, and cut each into 2 or 3 pieces, if okra is small, leave whole.   Add to the chicken and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and serve over rice.