Recipe


The can jam round-up will be happening this weekend and I am guessing if I don’t have this recipe up by then I might have some cranky readers. So here it is. I don’t have a picture so it is way boring. Hopefully I will get a picture soon to break up the monotony of words, words, words. Finally had a pretty day so there are now pictuers. If you are looking for citrus I have two entries Orange Coriander Thyme Jelly and Meyer Lemon Kiwi Marmalade. While this has citrus – it isn’t the star.

When I fell in love with the home we live in, it wasn’t just the house that wooed me. It was the whole property. Finding 1 1/2 acres within a 25 minute drive to Downtown Atlanta was quite the coup as far as I was concerned. But many things cinched the deal. One of these things was the absolutely enormous Fig tree in the back yard. And by enormous I mean well over 25 feet tall.

It should have never gotten that tall, so the fall before last we had an arborist come out and trim the ever-loving-crap out of the big boy. As a result my fig harvest this past year was not quite abundant. We had a steady crop of figs, but never more than 10 – 15 figs were at a state of perfect ripeness at the same time. Considering the fact that most fig preserve recipes call for pounds and pounds of perfectly ripe figs – I obviously had a problem

My solution – a dehydrator. I picked the pendulous little guys on an almost daily basis, and every few days I would run them through my dehydrator. Once dried I packed them into freezer bags and put them in the freezer. I figured I would find a recipe for dried fig preserves sometime in the future. This also had the benefit of allowing me to concentrate my canning efforts on the multitude of other produces that were demanding my time. Sin in haste, repent in leisure. I would can the figs during the canning “off season”.

Cryo-Dehydrated Fig.

Little did I know that tigress would declare that 2010 would have no off-season. My grand total of dried figs was 4 quart bags stuffed to the gills. The first recipe I used was out of Small Batch Preserving (a fabulous book) and while very good, it was a bit too sugary for me. It used commercial pectin and a whole boat load of sugar – the result was a very tasty jam. But I wanted something better.

I spent a goodly amount of time on the internet trying to find what I wanted, but couldn’t. I ended up taking a little bit from here a little bit from there and Frankensteining together my own recipe. It is not what one would call “traditional” but I think it is pretty good.

Dried Fig and Citrus Jam: this has been monkeyed around with enough that I cannot attribute to anyone but myself. This also means that it is totally not approved by the USDA – I expect to have the MIB at my door any day now. If you make this, store it, and then open it up and it has the funk please, please, please do not eat it.

The Hardware: see The Canning Thing, you need enough jars for 4 1/2 pints, a knife if you are industrious a food processor if you are lazy like me.

The Software:

1 lb Dried Figs
2 Big Tart Apples, I used Granny Smith
1 Lemon
1 Orange
4 3/4 C Water
3 1/2 C Sugar
1 t Ground Ginger
pinch Salt

Peel and core apples then chunk up into the food processor, add figs and whir them up until they are finely chopped. Dump into a large cook pot. Cut citrus in half around the equator and juice into a liquid measure, remove seeds. Your goal here is a total of 2/3 C juice, if you don’t get that much you can round it out with bottled lemon juice.

Scrape the pulpy stuff out of the inside of the orange and add to the pot, toss in the halves of the lemon whole – not the whole lemon because you cut it in half – but the whole halves. Does that make any sense? Cut the nubby tippy top ends off of the orange halves and discard. Then use a super sharp knife and slice the orange peel very thinly. I find it easiest to cut the cup shape in half so you can flatten it out and then do your slicing. Add the orange rind to the pot along with your water.

Bring mixture to a gentle boil and keep it there for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. And by a gentle boil I do not mean a simmer, but also avoid a rolling boil. Get it good and going but don’t scorch it capice? Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer for another 10 minutes.

During the cooking, measure your sugar, salt and ginger into a bowl and have it at the ready. When the first 20 minutes of cooking is done, add the sugar mixture and stir in well. Simmer for an additional 20 – 25 minutes stirring occasionally (or obsessively – I cannot walk away from things because I live in mortal fear of burning stuff).

Towards the end of the cooking you can start checking for jelling if you want to – use any method that works for you. I like the plate in the freezer method personally. When the cooking is done and you like the look of the jelling, fish out the lemon halves and throw them away.  Stir in juices and remove from heat.

Ladle into hot, clean jars and proceed with canning techniques. Remove air pockets, wipe rims, two part lidding, process leaving 1/4 inch head-space.  Boiling water bath for 15 minutes if you are in the 1K – 2K altitude region or adjust for your distance from sea level.

In the dead of winter there is something beckoning about the sunshine-y orbs of citrus at the market. Resistance is futile. Even though I have satisfied my can jam obligation, I have not satisfied my lust. One object of my attention was the Citron. In the aisles I hefted it into my hand, caressed it, sniffed it, threw longing looks in it’s direction after I had replaced it in its’ pile. Even I could not justify purchasing it, having NO CLUE what to do with the thing.

So I transferred my affection to the Meyer Lemon, bastard offspring of the Lemon and Mandarin Orange. I knew it would be kind to me as opposed to the fickle mistress the Citron. And I had a recipe! Many years ago, when I first tried my hand a canning, it was because I went out and picked several pounds of blackberries. Then I realized I had no idea what to do with them – backwards I know. At the time the canning section at my local book store was slim pickings so I ended up with one slim volume: The Joy of Cooking All About Canning & Preserving. It is not a book that I have seen much mention of on the Food-Blogosphere but I find myself liking it more and more.

Doubly so because it brought this into my life:

You had me with the freckles you saucy girl you.

You had me with the freckles you saucy girl you.

Meyer Lemon Kiwi Marmalade: from All About Canning & Preserving – Joy of Cooking Series

The Hardware: Canning stuff – I think I might need to make a seperate post just for this. OK, I did it see The Canning Thing. This makes 7 – 8 half pint jars.

The Software:
1 1/4 lbs Meyer Lemons
4 C Water
1 1/2 lbs Kiwi (firm/ripe)
5 C Sugar

Wash your lemons well and then slice them all in half along the equator. Using scissors, snip out the center star of white membrane and discard along with seeds.

The next step is to slice the lemons thinly and place in a big bowl with 4 cups of water. The thin skin of the lemons proved to be too challenging for my cheap a$$ “mandolin” and slicing them by hand was no pic-a-nic either. And I have sliced more things than the a-ve-rage bear. Let the whole mess sit overnight in the ‘fridge.

Whenever you get around to it the next day toss the whole shebang into a big pot and simmer for 15 minutes. While doing so, peel and slice the kiwi into 1/4 rounds.

Put a second pot on the range and measure 2 1/2 C sugar into it – add half the kiwi. When the lemons have had their jacuzzi, move half of them over to the other pot and add the remaining sugar and kiwi to the original pot. Now you have to work on your simultaneous stirring method. I get bored and see if I can stir them in opposing directions, or even better, opposing figure eights. I don’t know why the recipe says to do it in two batches – but that is what it says.

I managed that until both pots got up until 215 degrees and then I married them together to coax them up to the 218 – 220 range. This magic temperature is apparently the “jelling” point for my particular altitude  – yours might vary. I also used the whole “put a small dish in the freezer and plop some jelly on it” trick. Let that sit in the freezer for two minutes (while you have intelligently lowered the heat on your molten lemon napalm) and see if it has set up by trying to pull a Red Sea Split on it with your finger. What finger you use is discretionary.

Pack into jars leaving 1/4″ head space. Make with the de-bubbling and rim wiping and ring tightening as usual. Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes if you live between 1K & 2K feet like me – adjust for your altitude.

Conclusion:

The hubby and I spent a little time scraping the jelly from the inside of the cooking pots and eating it while making happy noises. I cannot wait to try this for real. It was a fair pain in the butt process wise, but I have found myself contemplating buying more ingredients so that I might make this again soon – I want to have more. One note, I ended up short 1/4 lb of kiwi, so it might have actually made the full number of half pints the recipe called for.

I am feeling pretty good about making this without any added pectin. It is only my second time doing such a thing, the first was a Dried Fig Preserve with apples and oranges providing the pectin. Even though it wasn’t done for this can jam – would anyone be interested in that recipe?

Going to Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market is an exercise in restraint regardless of how frequently I go. This time the piles of succulent citrus called to me from their bins, and I wanted to take them all home. Every kind of Orange, Tangerine, Lemon, Lime you can imagine (no Buddha hands tho) ripe for the picking. To narrow things down I decided on oranges, and further tightening the net I restricted myself to fruits from Florida. Among all of the Navels and Minnelos there was one lonely bin of Hamlins – and I decided to take them home.

Not knowing ahead of time what I was going to make, I didn’t buy quite enough oranges so I had to flesh out the juice with some tangerines from my last YDFM foray. I really wanted to make an Orange Jelly, but all I kept finding was marmalade recipes. With some poking I was able to find a Spiced Orange Jelly recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and I thought it would work as a base, even tho I really didn’t want to do the commercial pectin route – eh win some lose some.

Hardware: canning stuff, see the ridiculously long page I wrote about The Canning Thing.

Sunshine in a jar

Orange Thyme Coriander Jelly – makes 4 half pints
based on Spiced Orange Jelly from NCHFP

The Software:
2 C Orange Juice (4 Hamlins + 2 Tangerines)
1/3 C Lemon Juice
2/3 C Water
1 box Pwd Pectin
1 T Orange Zest, finely chopped
1 T Coriander seed, whole
3 1/2 C Sugar
1 T Thyme Leaves, fresh plus whole springs for jars

Peel one of the oranges to get the zest and juice all fruit – remove seeds. Combine juice, zest, water and pectin with coriander that has been tied into a little bag. Stir constantly on high heat until you reach a full rolling boil. Add sugar and continue to stir. When you get back up to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down begin timing for one minute and then turn off heat.

Continue to stir and remove spice bag, add in thyme leaves. Place one or two springs of thyme in each of your jars (that you have been keeping in your BWB) and fill to 1/4 head space. Do the whole jar wiping, lidding process as for any other canning.  Process for time appropriate to your altitude – for me that is 10 minutes.

Conclusions:

The original recipe called for spicing of cinnamon, cloves et all – you know, the usual suspects. And I just wasn’t feeling that combo. It seems to be the combo that gets thrown into everything and it gets a little old. For apple butter I can see it – but the flavors are just too wintry for citrus as far as I am concerned. Coriander is one of my favorite spices, and it never gets to take center stage. Always in the chorus but never the Diva, now is it’s time. Or thyme. hehehe

Now the question is, other than toast – what shall I eat my concoction upon?

A Confession:

I was weak and I didn’t just buy oranges, there were Meyer lemons and how does one say no to Meyer lemons? Those bad boys are currently soaking in the ‘fridge all sliced up and mangled, biding their time. So obviously there will be a Citrus can jam version 2.0 in the near future.

Considering that the sponsor herself at thursday night smackdown was unable to keep her deadline (for good reasons) I am hoping that my tardiness will not eliminate me from participation. And since I am relying on her good nature (HAHAHA) I am going to confess that not only did I not make this on Tuesday for Hobo Tuesday; I did not even make it for dinner! It was my lunch, today, Thursday.

Whew, I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest.

Actually, I don’t know if I would let myself participate, because I didn’t even follow the theme. I don’t do spicy, but I do do things that could be spicy if you wanted them to be. Take this:

Heuvos Rancheros en Cocotte

You got your Mexican in my French! No you got your French in my Mexican!

In a fit of literalness I have decided to call this exactly what it is:

Huevos Rancheros en cocotte from my own demented little mind

Hardware: a cute oven safe ramekin and an oven.

Software:
1/3 C doctored up canned black beans
2 eggs
2 T milk
2 big pinches of shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 C salsa (I use Pace, so sue me)

My beans were left over from burritos a few days ago, I start with a can of black beans and add a bunch of garlic, cumin, oregano and Liazano Salsa until they taste good; hence doctored up. Take your cutsey little ramekin and lube it up with butter (hey, this dish is 1/2 French – gotta work butter in somewhere) and pre-heat the oven to 375 or so.

Put the beans into the ramekin and make two beds for your eggs by pushing things around with a spoon and then carefully crack the eggs into their little troughs. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them and then drizzle the 2 T of milk over top. Put in oven for about 8 minutes (or until things start to bubble and the whites look opaque) and then pull out and sprinkle the cheese around the bubbling edges and slide it back into the oven for a few more minutes. Take the eggs out when they still look underdone and let it rest for a couple of minutes. Spoon salsa over top and you are done.

Talk about a protein bomb! I guess you could work in some veggies with the beans if you are so inclined – but I thought it was great as is. Now, there are several locations where one could make this spicy. Jalapenos in the beans would be an obvious choice, but more sneaky would be sprinkling some cayenne over the eggs so that it looks like paprika. The hotter the salsa, the hotter the entire dish. I am a wuss, so mild all the way baby!

The Damage:
1/3 can black beans = .30
2 eggs = .42
Milk = .05
Cheese = .15

Everything else is pantry. I feel comfortable including Salsa as a pantry item considering it outstripped Ketchup as the most purchased condiment in the US.

The total comes to .92. I only cooked for one, but my hubby would have loved this had he been here – doubling the cost comes to $1.84 to serve 2 people, actually, to fill my husband we probably would have had to use more beans so lets call it an even $2.00.

Tonight for dinner I practiced a bit of desperation cooking. It is the kind of cooking where you have to eat something, but you really don’t feel like doing anything creative, or interesting, or even that is actually cooking. Luckily I have a toddler that is in his “I can live on Air and Milk” phase. I tried to be nice to him today and got him one of his favorite foods – Chick-fil-A. Long story short … I ended up with a CFA sandwich that had approximately 2 gnat sized bites taken out of it in my ‘fridge.

So I asked myself “What would Sandra Lee do?” and then I started “cooking”. I fished around in the back of the freezer and came up with 6 cubes of frozen spaghetti sauce and tossed them into a saucepan with some olive oil and garlic. Then I arranged the piece of CFA on a cookie sheet flanked by it’s buns (I peeled off the pickles and ate them). Sprinkled some garlic powder on the buns and some shredded mozzarella on the chicken and then slapped them all into a cold oven. Fired it up to 350 and put some water on to boil for spaghetti.

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda … Faux Chicken Parmesan.

I am ashamed.

Not looking so embarassing after all

Not looking so embarassing after all

But, it makes me feel much better about posting this meal, which I previously thought might be too boring/pedestrian to blog about. Obviously standards are not something that I am really strict about around here.

Pork Cutlet Parmesan

So lets talk about the Tyranny of Chicken. Perhaps it is the fact that Veal is both expensive and gauche that has led to the rise of Chicken Parmesan – but somehow the poultry lobby has managed to make any other version of a “Parmesan” dish nigh on unthinkable.

That is not to say that I bust out the boxed baby cow for a home meal – moral beliefs aside, I am too much of a cheapskate. But I do believe if I can pound it flat, bread it, pan fry it, and put some cheese on it then it is a viable candidate for inclusion in a “Parmesan” dish.

When my spelunking adventure into the freezer unearthed pork cutlets – the game was on!

A Process

Take chubby pieces of meat that are roughly the size of your closed hand (like you are going to give someone a high 5, not Jazz hands) and place them on a piece of plastic wrap. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top of them and whack the bejeebus out of them with something heavy and flat.

Not literally, you actually have to be kinda careful about not tearing the meat – but it isn’t hard. Just thwack it with something and get it flatter – now we are looking for Jazz Hands size. Do the breading thing to your pieces of flattened flesh.

The Hardware:
Skillet with oven-safe handle containing a kinda thin layer of vegetable oil and an oven preheated to 350ish.

The Breading Thing

Set up three containers with the following mixtures:
1: A beaten Egg
2: A mixture of Bread Crumbs (I am all snooty and like Panko, because nothing says Italian Breaded Meat like Japanese bread crumbs) and Parmesan cheese.
3: A mixture of plain ole flour, salt and pepper, (if you likea the espicy you can adda some red peppah).

I like having 1 & 2 in Tupperware type containers – boxes, you know something with high sides to contain the mess. 3 can just be on a plate – it isn’t crucial. When breading you need to remember that wet stuff sticks to dry stuff. So to start with your meat is wet so you want to dip it into the flour first – not to heavy, just a dusting. Then you dip it into the beaten egg to get it wet so that the dry crumbs will stick to your cutlet. From the egg mixture you move to the breadcrumb mixture – I tend to pat it to get things good and stuck to each other. I also just like fiddling with things.

If you are doing a small number (I tend to be doing 2) place them directly into your oven-safe skillet with a goodly layer of hot vegetable oil shimmering away. (Do we need to talk about melty handles again?) Let the first side get good and brown and crispy then flip them over. Chuck the whole skillet into the oven and it will brown on the other side. When it is close to being done open the oven and sprinkle whatever kind of cheese on top that tickles your fancy – I tend to always have mozzarella around the house, but I wouldn’t kick provolone out of bed.

I really cannot tell you how long to cook the things because I don’t know how efficient your pounding is. It won’t take to terribly long. Make sure you have your pasta on the boil and about ready to go and that your sauce is pretty much done and just bubbling happily on a back burner. The cutlets can sit for a bit while the pasta is finishing – but you don’t want to lose the crispy. I mean, isn’t that what it is all about? Plate your pasta, sauce to liking and top with crispy meat cutlet.

Voila! Fancy pants dinner; if Fancy Pants to you is Olive Garden, and considering the frequency of my dining out Olive Garden might as well be Sotto Sotto.

My neighbor is a rather old chap who lives to garden, quite literally. A couple of years ago his wife passed away and now pretty much all he does is tend his land, I think he is in his late 70’s early 80’s. Last year he purchased and restored a classic Tractor from the 40’s and he eagerly awaits the day when I will allow him to haul my toddler up to the seat and drive around with him. I haven’t prevented this but the E-man is very skeptical of the entire plan and you have to admit, a big tractor can be scary. Of course this is a wee Tractor, just big enough for Mr.N’s “garden”.

That is if you can call a cultivated acre of land a “garden”. When I asked him last year how many potato plants he put in he said “Oh about 100 lbs”. That is 100 lbs of seed potatoes. What the yield on that would be I have no idea. This year I have started my own, slightly less ambitious, garden and when I proudly told Mr.N that I had planted peanuts he asked me how many. I told him 5 plants. He grinned at me and let me know that he had planted 3 rows of the goober-pea. Ah well, I am content to be small potatoes.

And small potatoes is what this post is about. Mr.N was kind enough to give me a few of the earliest potatoes that he robbed from his hills. These are very young potatoes, skins as thin as tissue. If you are skilled you can reach in from the side and sneak a few out without disturbing the production of the main crop. I am quite sure that I would bungle the procedure with my sissy hands, but Mr.N’s gnarled mitts are nimble with experience.

I needed to make something that would let these precious yet ugly jewels shine and I was determined that I could make a meal of them. No side-dish billing for these puppies – they were Marquee talent. I perused my trusty The Best Recipes in the World and decided on something based on the Spanish Tortilla concept. I say concept because I played fast and loose with the recipe. Why? might you ask?

Tortilla, open faced Potato Omlette, Fritatta, who cares?

Tortilla, open faced Potato Omelet, Fritatta, who cares?

Bittman’s recipe called for an entire cup of olive oil. Cutting the recipe in 1/2 for the amount of ‘taters I had still left me with a 1/2 cup of olive oil – and I couldn’t do it. Nor did I want to include the onions that were called for. No supporting cast was desired – let them stay at the talent scout’s – I had my star!

Faux Spanish Tortilla

Hardware: really sharp knife, large non-stick skillet that you can chuck into the oven (make sure that it doesn’t have a melty handle because a melty handle sucks), lid of sufficient size to fit the pan

Software:

I am afraid that this isn’t one of those measurement type recipes because I was really flying by the seat of my pants – the show must go on.

4 medium new potatoes
2 eggs
a couple of “glugs” of milk
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg
Garlic Powder
Olive Oil (less than 1/2 C)
Cheese (I used mozzarella)

Put the skillet on the stove on medium heat and add a goodly amount of olive oil. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oil is heating slice the potatoes super duper thin. I was too lazy to use my mandolin – I hate the clean-up. Separate the slices and dump them into the hot oil. Stir and flip like a madman to get them all coated with oil, adding oil if it seems necessary. Salt and pepper generously, these are potatoes after all.

You do not want the potatoes to brown, but you want them to become tender. I reduced the heat to low and kept flipping/stirring. When it seemed they were fixin to brown I added some water and clapped a lid on so that they would steam. Of course I frequently lifted the lid and stirred/flipped them so who knows how much actual steaming occurred. During on break in the action when you are not compulsively checking the potatoes, crack your eggs into a bowl and add a couple of glugs of milk. Season with salt, pepper, a generous amount of freshly grated nutmeg and a dash of granulated garlic. Beat the tar out of them with a fork.

Check potatoes. When they are moving towards tender take your lid off so that you can evaporate the water. When almost tender and mostly dry (except for the oil) pat the ‘taters out in an even layer and then pour the egg mixture all over them. Kill the heat to the pan and then decide that you cannot leave well enough alone and sprinkle some cheese over the top. Because hey, who doesn’t like cheese on potatoes?

Put the whole mess into the oven and let it bake until the eggs are set, maybe 10 – 15 minutes. I decided that I really wanted my cheese to be more than just melted so I cranked up the broiler for a couple of minutes and literally stood there and watched it go GB&D. Please, please, please remember that the handle of the pan will be WHITE HOT and use an appropriate protective device to remove it to a safe landing zone.

The Verdict

‘tateriffic! By dialing back on the eggs and making this dish more about the potatoes I really feel like my special produce was able to be all it could be. I had to serve up 1/2 of it to myself and put the rest in the ‘fridge right away – otherwise I would have eaten it all without a second thought. The E-man even deigned to snitch a few chunks of potato off of my plate which is made out of win. Reheated in the same oven I cooked tonight’s uneaten fish sticks (well, they were eaten eventually by me) in it still was very tasty. It wasn’t quite as good as it was fresh out of the oven – but it was better than the fish sticks.

Recently my cooking has not been very exciting, hence my lack of posting anything here. I feel like it must be exciting for me to post it here because really, who wants to hear about my umpteenth iteration of fried rice. Cooking for one is simply not conducive to creativity. If one makes too much guess who is stuck eating all of something that might not have been the wisest flavor choice? Me, that’s who. Because lord knows that the Eman ain’t eating it if it isn’t nugget shaped or covered in syrup.

This is where other blogs come in – they can figure it out for me.

I love Smitten Kitchen. I know, me and eighty billion other people, but hey – that many people cannot be wrong can they? So the other night I turned to her for dinner and I ended up eating this:

Peanut Sesame Spaghetti

Her recipe can be found here: Peanut Sesame Noodles/Smitten Kitchen

Since I was cooking only for myself I monkeyed around with it quite a bit, first off cutting it in 1/2.

Not Quite Smitten Kitchen Peanut Sesame Noodles

Hardware: skillet, big pot to boil spaghetti, stirring type utensil

Software:
2 Shallots, chopped finely
1 Carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
3 T Smooth Peanut Butter
2 T Soy Sauce
1/3 C Warm Water
1 1/2 t Ginger, fresh
1 t Garlic, minced
1 T Rice Wine Vinegar
2 1/4 t Sesame Oil
1 T Oyster Sauce
Smidge of Garlic Chili Sauce
Dry pasta of your choice – I used spaghettini

First off, SK had all kinds of “delicious” vegetables in her dish, which is fine and well for people who find vegetables “delicious”. I do not. I have to force myself to eat veg, and the ones I will eat are limited. Shallots count and you will not convince me otherwise. I started out by sauteing the shallots in some olive oil (you can use whatever oil tickles your fancy) until they got a little brown. While that was happening I mixed everything else up in a liquid measuring cup and whisked it together to get it all loosey goosey.

When I felt the shallots were considering going all nuclear on me I poured in the sauce mixture and stirred like crazy. Then I set about fiddling and tasting and adjusting things to my taste. You will have to do that for yourself. Also, I set a pot of pasta on to boil before I started any of the proceedings. You remembered to do that, right?

I love using grated carrot. It saves me from having to use my pathetic knife skills and it also needs minimal to no cooking. I put the grated carrot directly into my serving bowl and then dumped a serving of the drained, cooked pasta directly on top of the orange ribbons. About 1/2 of the sauce I had made went over top of the whole shebang and I stirred it together well with hot tong action. Actually, I tried to do the fancy pants lifting and twisting to combine thing that Hot Shot Mario Batali does on his cooking show (why of why did you steal my Molto Mario Food Network – curse you **shakes tiny fists at sky**) and it didn’t work out so good for me.

Unlike SK I ate it hot – and I didn’t even have the sesame seeds for garnish, so I couldn’t forget to toast them. A couple of days later I reheated the sauce (with added water) and tossed it with some frozen breaded shrimp that I baked in the oven. Served it over rice and it was just as tasty as the first time around.

I know that it wasn’t as fancy as what you did, but Thank You anyway Mrs. Kitchen.

ps: I have been wondering what this would taste like with Cashew Butter – anybody want to try it and let me know?

Another non-recipe recipe, aren’t you excited? This is, bar none, my absolute favorite side dish for steaks. I have mentioned my Mother here before, and she is the one who taught me this dish, but I don’t think I have mentioned my Father. Dad is not much for cooking, he has a couple of specialties and requires a sous chef  when doing anything complex – but man-o-man can he grill a steak. I don’t know if it is on the Y chromosome but I did not inherit the talent. My family’s cut of choice is the Rib Eye and there is minimal gussying up of the meat but it turns out divine.

Once you have that slab of meat on your plate you don’t want to mess it up with anything too fancy, and that is where onions and mushrooms come in.

The Non-Recipe for Mushroom and Onions:

The Hardware: skillet, spoon, maybe a lid

Method:

Slice up a couple of onions – how much depends on how much you wanna make. (See, not a recipe)
Heat up some vegetable oil in a large skillet and toss in your onions. Stir frequently until they soften nicely.
Add in a couple of boxes of fresh sliced mushrooms, you want a fairly equal proportion of onions to mushrooms. (Still not a recipe)
Salt lightly to encourage release of liquid and continue stirring every so often. Add oil if it seems like you need it.
Add a couple of spoon-fulls of chopped garlic – to taste (nyah, nyah, nah-nah)
Cook until everything is all nice and caramelized. The mushrooms should have shrunk by between 1/2 & 2/3 their original size, come to think of it – so have the onions. If you want to hurry things along you can cover with a lid once there is a goodly bit of liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste, if you want to be totally decadent you can cook it in butter.

You serve this with your steak and spear a bit of onion & mushroom with every bite of steak. Better than any sauce that exists.

But that isn’t the subject of this post now is it? See, I made something tonight with the leftovers that is going to encourage me to make mushrooms & onions just so I can have the leftovers to make this:

Have you ever craved leftovers?

Have you ever craved leftovers?

Leftover mushrooms & onions + ~1/4 C tomato sauce (2 frozen cubes from my Foray into India) + shake of Italian Herb Blend + Salt & Pepper + Spaghetti = Delicious! Just enough tomato to bind it together a bit and I added in some of the pasta cooking water to loosen the mix. I mean really, it was so much better than I expected it to be.

Are there any dishes that you make that you think you might anticipate the leftovers more than the meal itself?

Ever since I read about the pre-made Empenada wrappers labeled I have been keeping my eyes out for them, and this past week I found them at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market – score! Of course I purchased some and they have been waiting in my freezer quite impatiently. So yesterday I took five out in the morning and put them in the ‘fridge to thaw.  They would obviously need a filling so I also threw in some ground pork (ground by yours truly herself from a Boston Butt!) to get unfrozen also.

When filling time rolled around I was feeling contrary and did not want to make anything with Mexican flavors. I had a playdate over lunch and had prepared Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole for all us Mommies and I was just not feeling the Mex again. My mother was over for dinner and she asked me what we were having to which I replied “I’m making it up as I go along”. She gave me that look and said “Should be interesting”.

Just for that I made her write down what I did so that I could put it here. When all was said and done and I told her supper was ready but then corrected myself and said I would have to take pictures first she laughed at me. Harumph.

Do you think they are crispy - no sag!

Do you think they are crispy - no sag!

Apricot Pork Empenada Type Thingies

The Hardware: Skillet, Stirring device, Baking sheet, Oven (sarcasm optional)

The Software:
12 Pre-made Empenada Wrappers (there is enough filling for 12, but they come ten to a pack – possibly a liberal tasting policy would be best?)
1 lb Ground Pork (lamb would be delish also)
1 lg Onion, chopped
12 Dried Apricots, chopped
1/2 t Cinnamon, ground
1 t Cumin, ground
1 T Minced Garlic (I am a lazy SOB and use that bottled crap, if using actual garlic that comes from a clove one might want to halve the amount)
1/2 C Carrots, peeled and grated
1 t Salt & hefty pinch Black Pepper (to taste but I hate it when people say to taste and don’t at least give me a hint)

1) Saute onions in some kind of vegetable oil until they are nice and soft, add pork and cook until mostly done. Crunch the pork up with the tip of your stirring device so that it is nice and crumbly.

2) Add everything else except carrots – cook for awhile. At the last minute stir in the carrots and cook for a minute (the last one as I said).

3) To make empenada type thingies follow directions for the wrappers and add 1/4 C filling per pastry. Seal well and do that fancy pants crimpy trick with a fork around the edges. Bake on a sprayed cookie sheet in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 15 – 20 minutes or until done. I painted the tops with olive oil to get them to brown and it didn’t really work, so at the last minute I rubbed a stick of butter on them like I was coloring them with a crayon to get some browning.

Hacks/Verdict:

The packaging did not have any directions for baking, only deep fry. Having eaten them baked I can say they were right. If you want to make something like this baked I think it is best to make your own pastry. My guess is if these had been deep fried they would have been delicious, but as is they were kinda hard and dry. I am sure they would have absorbed plenty of fat from the frying to alleviate the dry problem.

The filling itself was pretty durn tasty if I do say so myself. I only made 5 empenadas and intend to reheat the filling with a little water to make it saucy. Then I am going to serve it over rice and I expect it will make fabulous leftovers. As I mentioned lamb would also be delicious in this application, but I am not certain that beef would go well with the apricots.

My mom liked them – so yay me! Next time around I will share with you the embarrassing “only one salad dressing option” fiasco of the evening, but for now I will bask in glory.

The mantra “You eat with your eyes first” is everywhere. At times one could almost think that perfection in plating supersedes the food itself, but I have a confession to make. I seem to have a problem. You see, I have recently come to terms with the fact that I appear to like food that looks like a big pile of glop.

Really, it is almost impossible for a decent looking picture to be taken of many of my meals. Needless to say they do not meet with the beauty ideals of many of the food porn aggregators. But I am not going to let that stop me from eating this messy but divine food. Nor am I going to allow the pretty police to shame me into not sharing the results here. What am I talking about, if you look back in my archives (such as they are) you will see. I’ll wait …

dum, di, dum ………..

Nah, too impatient. Here’s an example for you:

So ugly, yet so yummy

So ugly, yet so yummy

I cannot explain my recent decision to wade into the wilds of Indian cuisine. I have a friend who is mildly obsessed (if that is possible, kinda contradictory) with all things Indian. Never have I really eaten Indian food in a restaurant, except for Tandoori and that doesn’t count. All I know is that I found myself browsing the bulk spices at Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market and for some reason felt compelled to purchase the tub of Madras Curry – Mild. I think it was the Mild that got me, because I am a big fat sissy when it comes to heat.

With my Madras Curry – Mild I made a delicious but horridly ugly Lentil, Potato & Coconut curry that was off some British website. I loved it, and that really surprised me. On my next trip to the library I checked out Julie Sahini’s Introduction to Indian Cooking and haven’t looked back. I have already renewed the due date so I don’t have to take it back too soon.

Gosht Masala: adapted from Introduction to Indian Cooking

The Hardware: Heavy sauce pan, crock pot, rice cooker.

The Software:
1 1/2 lbs Pork Butt in 1 1/2 in chunks
~3 T Canola Oil
2 C Onion, finely chopped
1 T Ginger, Fresh grated
3 t Garlic, minced
2 t Cumin, ground
1 T Coriander, ground
1/4 t Cayenne
1 T Paprika
1 t Tumeric
1 C Tomato sauce
Salt to taste

1) Heat 1 T oil in pan and sear meat on all sides. When nicely browned, remove to the crock pot – pot (or should that be crock pot crock?). Add some more oil and saute the onion for 10 – 15 min, until nice and brown. Use your spoon to make sure the leftover porky bits don’t burn.

2) Add ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, paprika & turmeric to the onions and stir like the dickens – keep scraping with your spoon. Heat for 3 min or just until you think that everything is going to burn, then toss in the tomato sauce. Add in some water ~ 1 C or so, and “deglaze” the pan. Use your spoon to scrape up all the brown gunk the meat left behind, take your time and you will be rewarded.

3) Add salt at this point, but remember you can always add more later. Pour the sauce into the crock pot crock and add more water and/or tomato sauce so that the meat is covered. I didn’t have all day so I cooked it on high for about 3 1/2 hours. I am guessing you could go low and slow for hours. Your goal is to get the meat falling apart tender.

4) Once it is done, it really behooves you to put it in the ‘fridge and let it sit for a couple of hours before you serve it. Overnight is even better, several days ain’t gonna hurt it one bit. Serve over rice.

Hacks:

Well, I actually left out one whole ingredient that the recipe called for, and that is Cilantro. You are supposed to sprinkle 1/3 C of chopped fresh Cilantro over the top at the end. Would probably be extra tasty and might have even made the picture more attractive – but I didn’t have it and this dish was still mmm, mmm, noise making happy.

Also, the original recipe called for boneless leg of Lamb chunks, which I was fresh out of. I did have the pork chunks, 3/4 lbs worth, so I used those and made a half batch. I used my itty bitty crock pot that is normally only used for keeping my Velveeta+Rotel dip from congealing into one creepy, orange cylinder of Midwestern pot-luck disaster, and it worked fine. The non-crock pot directions call for adding the meat back in at step 3 and simmering, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. 1 1/2 hours that I didn’t have to be tending the stove.

Finally, the recipe called for pureed tomato, not tomato sauce. I bought the wrong thing at the store, my guess is the extra onion, garlic and oregano in the sauce didn’t hurt a thing. One thing I did not do was add any veggies, and I really wish I had. Veggies would make this a one pot wonder. The question is, what veggies would be appropriate here? Do any of y’all have any ideas?

And please, don’t say cauliflower.

I hate cauliflower.

Scary Zombie Broccoli vegetable.

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