Saturday, January 28, 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 own 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.
French toast with home made butter
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.  
And 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 quite awhile.
French Toast with home made butter and syrup
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 it's 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.

bread soaking in egg batter for french toast
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,
French Toast on plate

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.

French Toast on plate with syrup and jam
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.
Chia bread French Toast on plate with syrup and jam
See the little Chia seeds in there?
And after one bite, I knew why we used jam on our breakfast breads.   The french toast was even better than yesterday. 

Hope  you're having a good day as well, and I'll see you later.

Continue Reading
No comments

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Veggie pizza or Lady's 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 sauteed' mushrooms, some sauteed' green onions and also some thin slivers of sauteed' 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. 
Veggie Pizza
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.

Continue Reading
No comments

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tapa's Night for January

We had our monthly Tapa's night last night and it was fun as usual.   I have to admit that I enjoy having these get-togethers a lot.    It's a fair amount of work, but hey, the house needs cleaning at least once a month, right?  Just kidding, sorta.    We get to hang out with friends, nibble a little, have a drink or two, and just get together without pressure.    And we have fun.
Last night was no exception.    I got to make a couple of new dishes, and tried some totally fantastic offerings, and it was all good. 

I know you can't wait to read what I made, but you'll just have to, so there!     Tired of waiting?  OK, well, as you may have read I try to keep a stocked pantry and fridge and basically made my contributions out of that.
Let me digress here a moment.   I usually have at least one package of cream cheese in my fridge, it's such a multi purpose item, you can do so much with a block of cream cheese, think about it.   See what I mean, I got you thinking, didn't I?   I just got the idea for a blog post, the many uses for Cream Cheese.    Sorry, I do tend to get distracted, sometimes.  

I used Ina Garten's recipe for a Smoked Salmon Spread, and it was so good.   I had a package of Smoked Salmon in the cupboard, and had all the rest of the items in my fridge. 

Also put out a dish of chips and salsa, and finally...    I know I get carried away sometimes, but I made a couple of pizza's.   They're finger food, right?  If you cut them right. 

I made what a friend once called a 'Lady's Pizza',

and also a regular Peppperoni with Veggies Pizza. 

And both seemed to be well received.    I used a package pizza dough, the kind where you add water and then make the dough, I had a couple of packages in the pantry already.   And of course had all the rest of the fixin's in the fridge.   I told you this was out of my pantry and fridge this time.

And we had a wide variety of offerings this time, all the way from Stuffed Grape Leaves to a Jamaican Curry Chicken salad with Mango Chutney.   Hmmmm, we had the gamut, Greek, Italian, Jamaican, Southern, Mid-Eastern, and American foods.   It was a multi-cultural event.  How about that!
Fresh Tomato's drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar, set on a bed of fresh greens, with some Mozzarella Cheese on top.  They all got eaten, and it was such a pretty dish as well.   We do eat with our eyes.
Jamaican Curry Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney, I'm so getting the recipe for this.
From the front, Egg Rolls and Mozzarella Sticks, Chips and Salsa, and the Smoked Salmon spread with some Crostini.  and way in the back, a plate of Kiwi and Mango Cheesecake.  See it?
Hummus with some Pita Chips, and a bonus, this was home made and good.
Dolmades (stuffed Grape Leaves), the last time I had these, it was in a restaurant. 
Cheese and Sausage plate, always a welcome dish.
Baked Brie, yummy and it was popular.
Pulled Pork, interesting recipe as it's cooked in a crock pot with Root Beer. 
Eggplant Caviar with toasted Whole grain bread.
Foreground, the Jamaican Curry Chicken Salad and in the back a Taco Dip plate.

I'll post the recipe for the Pizza's and the Smoked Salmon tomorrow, since this post is getting a little long.  

Continue Reading
No comments

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pantry Necessities

I think everyone has a master list of stuff you have in your pantry, your go-to stuff you can make a meal out of when unexpected company shows up, or just what you perceive of as the STUFF YOU HAVE TO HAVE ON HAND.

I've got the basics, flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, coconut, Craisons, oatmeal, confectioners sugar, and walnuts and pecans for baking and always have some marzipan on hand (I did mention I was Danish didn't I?).
Sorry, it's a little messy in there.

Gotta have the necessities.

 And everything is either plastic containers or ziploc bags.  (I know the bag of sugar isn't, but I just bought that and it's now in a container).     Florida is notorious for bugs, and you don't want an infestation of them.  
As well as always keeping a couple of pounds of butter in the fridge just in case a cookie attack happens and you need to make an emergency batch of  Kitchen Sink Cookies 
I also keep an array of canned goods handy.     Always have stuff for making Spaghetti sauce (and sometimes I cheat and start with a can of spaghetti sauce and doctor it up)  or Mexican food on hand.

Check out how to store small glass bottles in Beer 6 pack cartons

Plus odds and ends of hot sauces, pickles and olives, and other sauces as well.     

Best ever Olives, if you can find them. 

 And if you noticed what looks like six packs of beer on the wire shelves, do you have any idea how handy those empty cartons are?   You can organize with them, put all those small bottles in them, and the bottles don't fall over, they stay put.    Those cartons are also handy outside during cookouts.   One of them will hold the ketchup, the mustard, a cup full of eating utensils, a handful of napkins, salt and pepper and some pickles.   See, I just filled up every spot, and they're easy to carry out.   

And this isn't even all the stuff, I also keep lots of other stuff handy.  
I get these at Sam's Club
And let's not forget some other basics, oatmeal and brown rice.  I also keep some long grain white rice, wild rice as well as short grain and sushi rice on hand.

So there you have it, most of what is in my pantry.   Oh wait a minute, I didn't show you the oils and vinegars, dang.   I also keep several kinds of vinegar handy.   Cider, balsamic, rice as well as plain old white vinegar.   And then there's the oils.   Always have Olive oil, peanut, canola, and toasted sesame seed oil on hand.   And I use all of them.   

And I didn't even touch on the freezer.   Mine is full to the brim at the moment, I took advantage of a couple of sales and now, well, I don't need to buy turkey for awhile. 

What's in your pantry? 

Continue Reading

Friday, January 20, 2012

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

Pabellon Criollo with Black Beans, rice and 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.  

Continue Reading
No comments

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

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.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Start with browning the chicken in a little oil, then set the chicken aside while you cook the roux.  
Cooking a roux
This will take you a good half hour or so,  until it turns a rich dark brown.
Rich brown roux

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. 
Veggies for gumbo
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.

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

Andouille Sausage and onions

Smoked Andouille Sausage
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.

Parcooking the veggies in the roux for gumbo
Pour in the stock while stirring, otherwise it kinda glops together.  
Adding stock to Gumbo mixture
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. 

Continue Reading
No comments