Monthly Archives: January 2013

Baked Stuffed Potatoes


Potatoes have to be one of the most versatile foods around.  Think about it, you can boil, fry, mash, bake, sauté, stuff, smash, sky’s the limit.     I made Baked Stuffed Potatoes for the January Boat Club the other day and they were good.  Even if I do say so myself.   And I know they were good cause out of the 5 pounds of potatoes I made, I only got to take home 1 1/2 potatoes. sigh.  But that’s OK.  I watched people really enjoying them so that’s a good thing.

5 Pounds Red Butter Potatoes, baked (mine were on the small side)
1 lb. grated Monterey Jack Cheese
1/8 lb. butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 lb. sautéed Mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon, or more to taste
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 tsp. sea salt

I took the five pounds of Red Butter potatoes out of my pantry, dumped them into a sink full of water and scrubbed them very well.  After I dried them off, I placed them on a rimmed baking pan and poured some EVOOl over them.  Rolled them in the EVOO to coat and then ground some sea salt over them.

I baked the potatoes for just over an hour, checked them at the hour point for tenderness, OK, so I pulled one out of the oven and ate it.  It was lunch, so there!   They needed a few more minutes so I put them back into the oven.   While they were finishing baking, I grated up a pound of cheese, I used Monterey Jack Cheese cause I had some.

sautéed the mushrooms til they were golden brown, I wanted to get as much flavour out of them as I could.    And chopped up some extremely flavourful bacon I had on hand.

I pulled the potatoes out of the oven, and let them sit for a few minutes, just long enough to cool down so I could handle them.   I cut them in half, and scooped out the innards, leaving a rim around the edge.    The scooped out potatoes were placed in a large bowl, and when I finished scooping out all the potatoes I used my ricer and riced the potatoes.  ( My first time using it, and it was fun. Made the potatoes nice and even, no lumps).   I heated the butter and cream together and folded it into the potatoes.   Hint:  If you are making mashed potatoes, heat the milk or cream and butter together before adding to the potatoes, it makes for a lighter fluffier mash.

Folded the grated cheese into the potatoes, then added the mushrooms and bacon to it.
I then mounded some of the mashed potato mixture into each potato half and topped them all with some more grated cheese.   Nothing like excess where cheese is concerned.  Just sayin…

 

Don’t they look purty?

I then baked them off for about 40 minutes, long enough for the cheese to melt and for the potatoes to be heated through.

Wrapped them up well, and took them to Boat Club where they disappeared in short order.  I had a pan and a half with me, and only took home 1 1/2 potatoes.  (three pieces in other words).   Which was a good thing.

I just had to do a close up, you can see the steam rising from the the lovely gooey potatoes.

There’s the latest Boat Club offering.   Now I have to start thinking about what to make for Tapas night.    I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

In the meantime, have fun with your food, it tastes better when you’re having fun in the kitchen.

Navajo Taco’s


Now that you know how to make a great Chile, you can use it to make some Navajo Taco’s.  Of course if you like your Chile straight up in a bowl with some chopped onions and cheese on top, this may not appeal to you.

I met my first Navajo Taco at a State Fair, and fell head over heels for them.  I would wait in anticipation for the next year so I could get another one.

Then a local restaurant opened up and I could go there for my fix.   Now I’m not sure just why I thought I could only have this dish at a restaurant or at the Fair, but somehow I did.   Then one day it hit me, I could make this on my own.   Whoo Hoo.   So I did, and now I’ll share it with you.    In fact, I prefer my Chile served like this now.

To start with, make some good Chile, either my Firehouse Chile or your favorite recipe.    Make some Frybread, either by using a good frozen bread dough, thawed and rolled out or patted out into a large thin circle, fried in some oil.

Place the Frybread on a plate,

put a heaping spoonful of Chile on top,

then add some shredded cheese, some shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, a spoonful of sour cream if you want and dig in.

I also like a sprinkle of black olives and some chopped onion on top as well.    I eat this with a fork and knife, but if you can get your fry bread big enough, you can actually fold it in half and eat it like a Taco.   You’ll need a bib and a change of clothes, cause that Chile will drip, but it is good.   Just sayin…

Now, since that made me hungry, guess what I’m going to go and have, yup some breakfast.   But we’ll be having Navajo Taco’s again soon.

Firehouse Chile


Who doesn’t love Chile?  Well, there may be one or two people out there who don’t, but they don’t count.

This recipe is one I got from my Mother in Law, who made a great chile before, but, this one, well I think it’s pretty darn good, so good in fact I make it this way now and I want to share it with you as well.     I was told a fireman came up with the original recipe and won a cooking contest/cook off with it.  And I can understand it.    It is great.   And sorry,  but it does have beans in it, so if you’re a chile purist, you’ll still like it, just pretend you’re eating something else, like oh, say, Chile Beans with Meat.

 

Firehouse Chili
1 ½ -2 lbs. Ground beef or pork
1 lg. Onion Chopped (Carol used minced onion flakes)
1 bell pepper chopped
3-4 cloves garlic (Carol used garlic powder)
1 can Kidney Beans
1 can Chili Beans  (I like Bush Brand, but use whichever one you like)
1 can Pinto Beans
1 can Ranch style beans
14.5 oz. Can Rotelle Chiles and Tomatoes
1 large can enchilada Sauce, 19  (I like either Hatch’s Brand or La Victoria brand)
New Mexico Chili Powder to taste  (1 tablespoon or so)
** Cumin, which wasn’t in the original recipe, but I like it
Louisiana style Crystal Hot Sauce to taste
Carol used the Chili Beans for the seasoning and didn’t use the other chili powder or the hot sauce.  I use the Chile Beans and add some more Chile powder to taste.   I also throw in a couple of jalapeno’s.  Nothing like a little heat.
Brown the meat and place in crock pot, add all other ingredients and allow to simmer overnight or for at least 8-10 hours.     Or do as I do, cook on top of the stove for a couple or three hours, stirring occasionally, then let it cool, and reheat the next day for maximum flavour and then I serve it.

I serve this with some Dough Dogs, or you may know them as Fry Bread or Fried Bread.   In Utah they were called Scones as well.  Not to be confused with English Scones.   Are you totally confused now?   And also you do need some honey and butter or honey butter for the Scones/Frybread/Dough Dogs.

Scallop Cakes


You’ve heard of Crab Cakes I’m sure, but did you ever try a Scallop Cake?  They’re seriously good.  And different and unique and fun to make as well.

I made a Prime Rib for Christmas Eve and invited a few friends in, but one of our friends is a Pescatarian, fancy word for a vegetarian who eats seafood.   Most of us are pretty much omnivorous, if not downright carnivorous, but I really couldn’t feed Robin meat, she wouldn’t have eaten it anyway.  So I decided to make her a Crab Cake, which I happen to know she likes.  But couldn’t find any nice fresh crab meat, and I was running out of time, so I picked up a package of frozen Scallops and proceeded to make her some Scallop Cakes.   The recipe I used made four good-sized cakes, and Robin did get to eat one of them, but the others, well, let me just say, that all the Carnivores, or at least some of them,  proceeded to taste a bit of the other Scallop cakes as well.  And everyone pronounced them quite good.

So that means I get to share the how to’s here, as well as what I learned you should not do when making something like this.

To begin with the recipe called for two pounds of Scallops, frozen being fine, however I just used a one pound package.   Well, I only ‘had’ to make enough for one person, so decided to cut down the recipe.   And it did work, but I learned that I should have let the scallops defrost a little longer, I chopped them while they were still a little on frozen side, and that was a mistake.   They release a lot of liquid.  Yup, and that meant I had to add some bread crumbs to keep them from being too loose.  Which they still were, but not as bad.   But the flavour, it was right on.  Yummy in other words.  I did cook up a teeny one for myself to check beforehand and make sure that it would be edible, and I really liked it.

I got the original recipe from here, but then did my riff on it, cause I could.  And I discovered  that something had eaten my chive plant over the week or so, so I had to substitute some finely minced green onion for the chives.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2  cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 pound sea scallops  (pat them dry)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives  1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger, I used my Microplane on the frozen ginger I keep in the freezer.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs (optional, but use if needed)
  • 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs for coating.
  • 2 tablespoons Peanut Oil for frying

 

Heat olive oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Cool. Place scallops in processor. Using on/off turns, coarsely chop scallops. Transfer scallops to large bowl. Stir in onion, chopped chives, parsley, flour, ginger, lime juice, egg, (1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs,if needed),  lime peel, and pepper. Form scallop mixture into four 1/2-inch-thick patties, each about 3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. I used a cookie cutter ring to make the patties more uniform.  Just spooned the Scallop cake mixture into them.  Made them very nice and uniform.   Sprinkle 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs on a plate and put the scallop cakes on that.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs.   Place scallop cakes on baking sheet. Cover and chill 1 hour. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Keep chilled.)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Heat peanut oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add scallop cakes to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cakes to baking sheet. Place in oven and bake until cooked through, about 7 minutes.
 Or do as I did, turn the heat down, place a cover on the fry pan, and let cook for about 5 minutes.   Serve with an herbed mayonnaise.   I used some chopped parsley, tarragon, chives to flavour the mayonnaise and then perked it up with some lime juice.   And that was lovely as well.  Nothing like tooting your own horn, is there?

Fransk Vafler (French Waffles)


Wow, it’s the first  second day of the new year, so Happy New Year to everyone.   And it’s also 2013, finally.  Just kidding.  Can’t really believe this past year just flew by, and it was fun, mostly.
I’m looking forward to all the wonders that will unfold with the new year, which includes my cooking, and all the adventures that come from that.

I wanted to share this recipe again, I’ve actually posted about it before, but it was on my other blog and I wanted to update a couple of things, so, since it’s the first second day of the New Year, I thought it would be a great idea to share this family recipe.   This was the special occasion cookie in my family.

I love bringing French Waffles to any kind of gathering.   It’s always fun to see people’s expressions when they bite into one of these wonderful, rich, light pieces of deliciousness.   Too much hyperbole?  Nah, not if you’ve ever had one of them.

I made some to bring to the Post Apocalyptic party and they were a hit.   But then again, I expected nothing less.

To start with, they are one of the simplest cookies to put together.

Really, they are.

Well, maybe a little labor intensive until you get the hang of it, but oh, so worth it.   And one of the things I like best about them, you can make the dough ahead of time, and then just bake them at your leisure.    I’ve even been known to make the dough and freeze it, then just take out enough to bake for a quick tea and Voila!  French Waffles.

Basic recipe

1 lb. Butter
1 lb. Flour                                        (about 4 cups less 2 tablespoons)
12 Soupspoons Half and Half      ( 7 Tablespoons, I just measured it out)

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles peas,

then add the Half and Half or light cream, mix together.  Press it lightly together on the counter.   In many respects this resembles a good pie dough, but is a lot more tender.    This will feel like a really soft sticky dough, but it should.

I divide the dough into thirds or quarters and flatten them out into a disc shape or a log, then wrap that in a piece of plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about 4 hours or longer.    I take out just a little of the dough at a time, about 20 minutes before I’m ready to roll it out.  I don’t want it really stiff, but do want it a little malleable.

While the dough is resting, prepare the sugar topping.    I’ve done this so many ways in the past, but the easiest is this:

A cutting board with the sugar on top,
(gotta say I was so impressed with myself, I finally figured out an easy way to put the sugar in one spot where it was easy to clean up, just by using my cutting board)  where I put the cut out cookies,

and flatten them with either a couple of fingers or the rolling-pin, which in turn presses the sugar into the top of the cookie.

 

Dust the counter top with some flour, and rub a little onto your rolling pin as well.   Place the dough on the counter, sprinkle just a little flour on top, then roll out.   You want this to be fairly thin, cause the cookies plump up in the oven when it bakes.  And since the cookies don’t spread out, (they plump when you cook them, sorry couldn’t resist that one), you can actually crowd them in the pan.


I use an old small liqueur glass to cut out the rounds, I like these cookies a little on the small side, but use what ever kind of cookie cutter you have.

Place the cookies on the pan after you’ve pressed some of the sugar into the tops onto a parchment sheet or silpat sheet.     Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, check them after about 10 minutes, sometimes they brown faster.   I know mine did yesterday when I made a batch.   When they are a lovely light golden color pull them out.

I make the filling for the cookies while the dough is resting in the fridge.  It does take a little time, so rather than doing a load of laundry or the dishes, I make the filling and set that aside.    I used to use a buttercream filling, but it is so rich and sugary, and when I learned how to make this frosting, I decided it was perfect to fill with and it is.

Best Ever Frosting.
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons flour
Whisk the flour and milk together (I use my gravy shaker for this step) until smooth.   Then cook over a medium heat whisking constantly until comes to a boil, and cook for just a minute or so.   Pour through a strainer, just in case there were any pesky little lumps that found their way in, then cover and set aside to cool.
1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract  (I use my own homemade)
In the bowl of stand mixer or with your hand mixer, mix together the butter and sugar.  I let my trusty Kitchenaid to all the work, and let it whip until the sugar has dissolved into the butter.   Then add the cooked and cooled flour/milk mixture, a third at a time, and whip it.  Continue whipping for a few minutes.  This will become light, fluffy and delicious.  Taste to make sure it’s whipped enough.     Set aside.

Put the frosting into a piping bag, I’ve found this is the easy way to do the cookies.  Pipe a little onto the back side of a cookie, then put the top on, sugared side out.   Be prepared to mash a couple of cookies while you get the hang of it, but you can eat them later, and no one will know.  These cookies are very delicate.   After you fill the cookies place them back in the fridge for an hour or so, and let them firm up again.   Then serve to your guests and stand back.   Be prepared, they won’t stop at one, well, some of them might, but most won’t.

**A couple of notes here, use Half and Half, if you use a mixture of whipping cream and milk it will make the cookies so tender, you will have a hard time filling them without crushing them.   Trust me on this, I found out the crumbly way.   But if you can’t find half and half, then by all means make your own, just use one third cream to two thirds milk, not half cream and half milk.  They will still taste wonderful however, but…

If you try these, let me know how they turned out.     And most important, have fun with it.