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Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Treats

Top of the mornin' to ya!  Happy St. Patrick's Day.

We were invited to our neighbor's house for an annual St. Patrick's Day dinner.  We asked what to bring and she suggested dessert.  Someone was already bringing a pistachio cake.  So having cake would be repetitious, so I opted to go another way.  Couldn't do cupcakes or cake balls.  Same concept as cake.  What other dessert can I do that I can tint green????? Why how about iced cookies?? Shamrock shaped cookies with green icing. Who can say no to a melt in your mouth shortbread cookies with frosting? I know I can't. So let me show you how my process went.
 This is the dough I used.  It's your basic shortbread cookies recipe.  I have heard they are softer and tend to break easier, but it's a great melt in your mouth recipe. It was a very, very easy mix to do.  The problem came when you rolled it out.  You had to roll it between sheets of parchment paper and then put in the fridge for one hour to harden up. Then you rerolled, cut your cookies & put those back in the fridge to harden before baking. By putting them back in the fridge for one hour before baking, it helped so they don't spread to much.


I did roll them to thick, basically 3/4 cm. This way they were a bit thicker & easier to handle.  Not as fragile.

I baked the cookies for 14 minutes at 350 degrees.  I let them cool for a minute then transferred to wire rack so they could cool completely.  Once cooled I then stored them in an air tight container until my icing was ready.  I created a typical royal icing and tinted it green.

With the royal icing I outlined & flooded the cookie with the royal icing. I then let them dry for 24r hours.  Royal icing dries to a nice hard consistency.  It helps keep them fresh. 

Here is the finished product.  They were a hit at the party. Everyone loved them. They said they were cute & the best part, they said they were delicious!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Home Grown Eggplants

Hello everyone.  I know you almost forgot about me.  I haven't posted anything for a while.  I've been busy. I have been cooking & taking pictures.  My phone is ready to bust open with all the pictures I have.  I will slowly start posting and hoping to post all the great things I have created. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

So I decided to grow my own vegetable garden in the summer of 2011.  I usually just grow tomatoes.  This year I was a bit adventurous.  I started to grow my own eggplants.  The big purple ones.  At first they were the size of my fingers.  Turns out, eggplants need lots & lots of water (who knew?).  So i started to water, & water & water.  Then at times i would end up with these huge beautifully looking monsters!

My neighbors all got two or three helpings, a week!  Not wanting to make eggplant parmigiana every night, I did research for other recipes that just might make me go hhhhmmm.  Well one night we decided to just have fried eggplant.  Why not?  These were pretty good.  This is how I started.

1) First cut up the eggplant. Make sure you cut off both ends.  Be careful with the crown.  It has small spike like points that really hurt.  I liked cutting then in small round.  It would be easier to fry.

2) Put them in a colander and salt them.  Let them drip for 15 to 20 minutes.  By salting them it helps remove the extra fluid the eggplant has and some of the bitter  juice so that it doesn't have a nasty flavor.


3) Next prepare your stations.  One of flour (season the flour.  Trust me. Who wants plain jane flour?), one of egg wash and the last the crust you would want on your fried eggplant.  You can do bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs, corn meal or even flour again.


4) Make sure you rinse the salt off the eggplant and dry well.  Then dredge in flour, egg wash & bread crumbs.  Put them on a rack so they can dry well.  It helps with the frying process.


5) Heat up some oil.  For a "healthier oil use canola oil.  You can use any vegetable oil, shortening or a combination of both.


6) Fry on both sides until golden brown.  They take them out either drain on a rack or place on paper towels to drain the excess oil.  Remember to re-season once they come out of the hot oil.  This step helps the seasoning to stick to the food.   Like when you step out of a hot shower & you immediately put lotion on.  It just makes it stick better.


This could be a great side item for dinner or even as the main course.  Who just doesn't like fried eggplant?  Hope you like it.  Try it & let me know what you think.

Till next time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brisket Wellington

 After consulting with several cooks, about what they do with the leftover brisket, we came to the general consensus, that there usually isn't any left overs.  This weekend, we did a large amount of cooking and actually had a couple of strips left over.  We came up with the idea of doing a Brisket Wellington. It is a play on the ever popular Beef Wellington.  The Beef Wellington is usually made with beef tenderloin wrapped in puff pastry dough and served sliced. The name is often credited to Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, as being a favorite dish of his.
 We used our creative license to make our own interpretation of this famous dish.  The most obvious difference is that we used leftover brisket, instead of beef tenderloin.  We used puff pastry sheets to wrap the sliced brisket and sautéed onions. The oven was preheated to 400°.  We then use some sliced mozzarella to make the dish a little more like comfort food, instead of the classic.
 We folded one of the flaps over the filling and then took the remaining flap and folded it over the first flap and rolled in the ends, to prevent any spillage.  We made two rolls and placed them on on a cookie sheet, covered with parchment paper, to prevent any sticking.  The rolls then went into the preheated oven, for approximately 15 to 17 mins.  Once the desired color was achieved on the pastry dough, the wellingtons were removed from the oven and allow to cool, for about 5 mins.

 The wellington s were sliced into 1/2 inch slices.  You can see how moist and juicy brisket cooks.
It was really fun and interesting to do and rather easy, provided you had the brisket done.  This could be done as part of a meal or as a snack or even appetizers.  It definitely has a "wow" factor and the elegance of a classic meal.  Try this at your next gathering or party, or as a treat for your family, you definitely would not be disappointed.  Thanks for looking!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Southern Treats: Zucchini and Spinach Pie

Southern Treats: Zucchini and Spinach Pie: " After collecting our harvest of zucchinis, we had to decide what to do with them. A couple of friends mentioned to try and make zucchini br..."

Zucchini and Spinach Pie

 After collecting our harvest of zucchinis, we had to decide what to do with them. A couple of friends mentioned to try and make zucchini bread or pie. After a little research on the internet, I found a recipe for Italian or Greek style pie. I decided to make a combination of both and also add spinach to the mix.
 First, I had to shred the zucchini with the help of the food processor. I ended up with almost 8 cups of shredded zucchini.
 Two packs of frozen spinach, thawed, drained and strained with a cloth to take out as much water as possible. We also added one med. onion diced and 3 tablespoons minced garlic.  In a large non-stick skillet, we melted about 1 tablespoon of butter and then sauteed the garlic and onions till they become translucent. Then added the zucchini and spinach and cooked for about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk 4 whole eggs and then add 1 cup of ricotta cheese, mix until well incorporated. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Added one cup Parmesan grated cheese and 8oz. of Quesadilla cheese (or other soft melting cheese) to the egg mixture. Season with 1/4 teaspoon black peeper and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Prepare a greased Pyrex pie dish, with Phyllo dough sheets layer to cover the dish. Use melted butter to brush on between the layers of Phyllo Dough.  Check out the video clip, for more detail on filling pie dish.
 Into the oven for 45 minutes, or golden brown crust. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, and slice with a knife. Serve as a main dish for brunch or a side dish for dinner. Good way to get the kids to eat their vegetables. Enjoy and thanks for checking out our blog!
Video Clip

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Birth of the RIB-O-LATER!

 You have often heard the term" Christmas in July", used by retail stores to advertise really great savings.  The term does apply in this particular situation, the Rib-O-Later was my Christmas present, from my two nephews.  Due to a busy schedule and a long winter, I did not get a chance to assemble my new " Toy". I took the opportunity to get the additional rung needed, for the drum and assemble it together.
 Under the direction of a fellow BBQ-Brethren friend known as "Cowgirl",  she made the assembly process go so much quicker. Once the top portion of the spare drum was cut out, I used one of the top bands to secure it to the main drum.  As you can see in the pictures below, the band was secured using a" C" clamp. the holes were drilled approximately 7 inches from the top of the extended portion, to ensure that the lid would not interfere with the rotation of the stainless steel planks.  I was able to procure 35 inch rotisserie rod and motor from my local Lowe's home improvement store on sale, for the Fourth of July weekend.
 The whole assembly took approximately about two hours including the drilling.  In preparation for this particular groundbreaking cook, we had six racks of baby back ribs that were rubbed using John Henry's Pecan rub, for about 24 hours.  We were able to get the four racks on the planks and let them cook for approximately 4 1/2 hours.  The ribs were periodically sprayed with apple juice during the cook.
 The one thing that I really like about this Rib-O-Later is that it provides an even cook, to all the ribs, because of the rotisserie.  Having cooked several racks of ribs, on the UDS, I can honestly tell you that it has been a problem in the past.  After several trial and errors, we have become accustomed to the moving the ribs around on the grates to ensure an even cook.  This eliminates the need for the rearranging and is one less thing that you have to worry about.  This would also work great for sausages, thighs, salmon, pork and beef loins, vegetables and anything else that you could imagine.  I could also use the extension with the Rib-O-Later on my Weber kettle, when I am not smoking and need for the heat to be kicked up a notch or two.
I seriously recommend this product and you can expect to see more posts with the different uses that I will find for it.  This was definitely a great gift!  Thank you for looking!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chuck Roast in the Oven

 This last weekend, the weather did not permit for outdoor cooking.  We had to resort to other means.  We started out with two boneless beef chuck roasts, that were on sale, for $1.99 a pound. The chuck roasts were rubbed with a Texas style homemade rub.  The rub consisted of granulated garlic powder, onion powder, Ancho chili powder, black pepper, cumin, kosher salt and sugar.  Each chuck roast with approximately between two and 2 1/2 pounds.  While the rub was being applied, the oven was preset to 350°. The roast would go in the oven for one hour, uncovered.
This is what the roasts look like after one hour.  The next step is to add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the beef broth to the pan and then foil.
                                  The pan would then go back in the oven for three hours, at 300°(the temperature was reduced).
After the three hours, allow the roasts to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Be very careful to uncover the foil, as there is probably still some steam.  At this point, you can either try to slice it or just pull it apart.  The meat is so tender that it will just break apart.  We have used this for tacos, wraps, served over white rice and even on pizza.  The possibilities are endless.
On this occasion, we decided to just have it a vegetable medley.  If you wanted to, you could use the pan drippings to make a delicious gravy, not that it is needed; but otherwise it would be a waste of good flavor.  This particular dish is not very time-consuming to prepare, other than the time spent in the oven.  It is definitely a crowd pleaser and with proper planning, does not make you a slave to the kitchen.  Hope you try it, soon!