Friday, June 8, 2018

A Dedication: Anthony Bourdain

This is a simple dedication to one of the most renown individuals in the culinary world.  Kitchen Confidential was intriguing and eye opening, much like Upton  Sinclair's: The Jungle. "Parts Unknown"  is my favorite show. His voice is perfect for orating and his flare for writing is admirable.  My condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.  We've never met, but I feel I got to know you through your work.  We are but flowers, and this one was picked way too soon.  So long dear friend (in my head).

Thursday, June 7, 2018

BurgerFi "Cry and Fry" Omelette w/ Ham, Aged White Cheddar and Fresh Tomato

Last evening, as part of our vacation here in sunny Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, we ordered out for dinner.  The restaurant of choice was BurgerFi, a hip burger joint with burgers that can be customized from an extensive list of condiments and toppings. The ingredient call offers many, from the usual suspects like mustard and ketchup, to more luscious add ons like garlic or truffle aioli!(which tastes amazing on the fries and onion rings too). The menu covers burgers, onion rings, fries, shakes, AND BEER! They also have vegetarian options!
The burgers are made to order and delicious, moist and juicy, well seasoned.  The fries are offered in 3 sizes, all of which are quite large.  The onion rings are offered stand alone or as a Cry and Fry,  which consists of humongous onion rings and a mound of fries together. Bring your appetite or  consider sharing, especially if you don't like leftovers.
"Cry and Fry," onion rings and french fries.

"The BurgerFi Burger", with bacon added.




















I went with the BURGERFi BURGER, adding bacon, diced onion, mayo and ketchup. Last year I had the CEO, which is an amazing Wagyu and Brisket Blend burger with a bacon and tomato jam, and hit over the head with a truffle aioli!! BANANAS!!!.
I ordered the Cry and Fry both times and had leftovers both times.  This time however, I was inspired to create a dish to utilize the remaining fries and onion rings, bringing new life to the ghost of dinner past.
Potatoes and onions are always a good addition to a rustic omelette, hearty and flavorful, fantastically filling.  We are winding down our vacation days, so I grabbed some of the other foods we needed to use up anyway; some deli ham, extra sharp New York white cheddar cheese, a bit of Monterey Jack cheese (from Taco Tuesday) and tomato.
The omelette comes out bursting with potato and oniony goodness; the ham and cheeses are harmonious and pleasant.  My bestie Rufus loved it and my good friend Doris enjoyed hers, as did I. For vegetarian spectacularness, simply omit the ham and game on!
Recipe:
6 large eggs
1 tbsp. milk
4 tbsp. butter, divided
about  1 1/2 c. BurgerFI fries, cut into bite sized pieces
2 BurgerFI onion rings, cut into small pieces
4 slices deli style ham, medium diced
2 slices extra sharp cheddar cheese, diced
1/4 c. shredded Monterey Jack
Paprika
Tomato Slices
Herbs de Provence for Garnish, optional
SPST
Instructions:
Combine eggs, milk and a dash of paprika, until blended.
Microwave the fries and onions for about 30 seconds to help expedite egg setting and thorough warming (optional).
 Melt half butter in small saucepan until melted over medium heat.
Pour half the egg mixture into the pan and shake often.
After the egg starts to set up and almost firm, layer remaining ingredients on one side of the omelette, sprinkling the Monterey Jack over the entire pan's contents.
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Reduce heat to low, and allow heating through.
Fold heaviest side of omelette onto the other side.
Serve tomato slices on top or alongside the omelette and SPST.
Garnish with Herbs de Provence, Paprika and a scant amount of shredded cheese.
Serves 2 to 4.























Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Zucchini Bread 2.0/ Roasted Zucchini, Cream Cheese and Apple Smoked Gouda

Looking for a savory way to enjoy the beloved zucchini this summer, this recipe fits the bill.  The garden harvests never tasted so good!  The above pictured are 4 more ways to make the most of the ever handy garlic bread, which is the base of all. 
The 'Cheatzzas' in the background are Zucchini and Deli Sliced Corned Beef, Wine Braised Mushrooms and Blue Cheese, Wine Braised Mushrooms and Deli Sliced Beef and Swiss and my favorite creation of the four, Roasted Zucchini, Cream Cheese and Apple Smoked Gouda Cheatzza.   The idea of a Cheatzza is that there are shortcuts in the recipes which can come in handy in a pinch layered like a pizza and satisfy a HANGRY family without compromising on flavor.  All my "Cheatzza" recipes start with either frozen Garlic or Cheesy Garlic Bread. 
A fantastic vegetarian meal is at your fingertips with just a little prep.  Great for main courses or appetizer portions, and are super portable and amazing, even at room temperature!!
Recipe:
2 small zucchini, about 1 1/2 cups  sliced, I used a Mandolin
1 8 oz. pkg. Neufchatel, at room temperature
Apple Smoked Gouda, sliced or grated
Olive Oil for drizzling
SPST
Instructions:
Prepare Zucchini:
Using a mandolin, slice the zucchini, then in a bowl, toss with a large pinch f of kosher salt.
Let stand for 5 minutes.  Pour off accumulated water and rinse the zucchini in cold water.
Dry zucchini on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. The zucchini is now ready to use.

Heat oven to 425*F.
Arrange 8 slices of garlic bread onto sheet pan.
Carefully spread each toast with 1 oz. cream cheese.
Layer the zucchini evenly over all the tops, making sure to overlap the slices.
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Drizzle with Olive Oil.
Place a slice or about 1/2 oz. grated Apple Smoked Gouda.
Place in oven and roast off until the cheese is melted, lightly browned and the bread is crisp, about 8 minutes.
Makes 4 main courses or 16 appetizers( when halved).


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Virginia Prosciutto, Apple and Onion Grilled Cheese

There's nothing like a sandwich that hits all the notes on the tongue and this grilled cheese does just that. The cheeses are Pepper Jack, Gouda and  Apple Smoked Cheddar, two from the Wisconsin family.  Add in the crunchy component of the thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, french fried onions and the toasty cinnamon raisin bread and you have some serious eats on your hands.  Thinly sliced country ham is lovingly referred to by some fellow culinarians as ''Virginia Prosciutto".
This is actually my creation for a recipe contest that I failed to get in on time, my computer decided to be a complete @$$ and lost it's connection right at the point of upload and I ran out of time.   I accepted my technology fail gracefully and was grateful that I at least had a tasty recipe to share with my peeps, even without the $15,000 prize.  I decided to get it next year and plan better for when "stuff" happens.
The thin cut of the cinnamon raisin bread requires that you use a lower than normal temperature to toast the bread while simultaneously melting the cheeses.  A LID is suggested also.  Too high a temperature will cost you the in the form of burnt raisins and bread.  I used a grill pan and found that this bread responds well to it, considering it's lack of thickness.
Recipe:
Cinnamon Raisin bread
Deli sliced thin Country Ham, as thin as you can get it, if unavailable, you may use deli shaved Black Forest Ham
Cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith Apple, I used a Mandolin
Pepper Jack, Gouda and Apple Smoked Cheddar Cheeses (Grating the cheese helps with melting and portioning)
French Fried Onions
Butter or Mayonnaise for spreading
SPST
 Instructions:
Heat the grill pan on medium to medium low.
Spray with olive oil diffuser or nonstick spray.
Add desired spread to one side of bread and place in pan.
Layer the ingredients starting with smoked Cheddar, fried onions, then apples on one side and Gouda, country ham (sparingly, it's highly seasoned), followed by the Pepper Jack on the other.
Cover with lid and and allow the bread to grill slowly as not to burn and melt the cheeses, about 7 minutes.
Flip one side onto the other.
Cut in half for presentation.

































Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Shepherd's Cousin's Pie

Dinner can sometimes be hit or miss, when you run out of time, forget a key ingredient or you're just plain dead on your feet, from managing the lives of your family, and somehow the needs of oneself.  Children, active in sports and after school activities can leave little time for much else, other than getting ready to do it all again the next day.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Engagements had run a bit late more than once this particular week.  I picked up fresh pizza dough for recipes of an Italian nature, using only one of the two.  I knew I needed to utilize the final dough and I didn't want to let it go to waste or just throw it out, because that goes against my culinarians code.  Sometimes our best ideas come from moments when we feel we have none. 
One pizza dough would not have been sufficient for that evening because we had family over.
I knew I wanted some sort of casserole for dinner to keep it to one dish or pan, all the food groups in simple serving form and have the crew happy, but the Shepherd's Pie I had in mind, which is composed of staple ingredients for me, would leave the dough, to sit another day, destined for the food graveyard, never getting to be logged and photographed, no story to tell, stardom lost in the sauce, so to speak, so I  added it to the menu.  I then subbed in the dough for the potatoes, shaving some time off  by omitting the peeling, boiling and mashing effort and getting dinner to the restless natives, with time to spare.  Everyone in our family favors a good garlic bread, breadsticks and the like, and I felt this dough, could benefit from some butter, fresh garlic and parsley. 



 The finished product was a comforting and flavorful meal, that passed the family test and will possibly be in the lineup again within the next 3 months.  Perhaps a cool, rainy and lazy day, perhaps, topped with shredded lettuce, sharp cheddar and tomato like a cheeseburger casserole, who knows.  The Shepherd's cousin is in town, and he may be staying for a while.
Recipe:
2 lbs. ground beef or turkey
1/2 c. white onion, finely chopped
1 c. frozen peas and carrot blend
1/4 c. diced celery
1 tsp. onion powder
3 cloves garlic, 1 for beef mixture, 2 for dough, pressed or finely minced
1 c. beef stock or broth (or 1 pkg. instant brown gravy)
2 tbsp. flour
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 fresh pizza dough
4 tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 tsp. dried parsley, or fresh finely chopped
SPST
Heat oven to 375*
In  large skillet or saucepan over medium high heat, add beef, onion, celery, onion powder and garlic.
Brown beef and veggies, cooking until beef is no longer pink snfd vegetables are translucent, about 7 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium.
Drain off all excess oil and return to pan.
Stir in 2 tbsp. flour and cook for about 1 minute.
Add stock and stir constantly until thickened.
Taste for seasonings, then if needed SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Stir in 1/2 c. of cheese and peas and carrots.
Remove from heat and pour contents into dutch oven or high sided vessel ( I used my red copper pot for the whole process).
Stretch dough with hands until large enough to cover top of meat mixture.
Paint with butter, remaining garlic and parsley mixed together.
Bake until dough has risen and is golden, about 25 minutes.
Let rest several minutes to rest before serving.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.




Monday, May 21, 2018

Meyer Lemon Pound Cake and Other Lemony Delights



  Meyer lemons are a fragrant and bright citrus fruit, that is a a cross between a lemon and a mandarin.  They made their appearance in the Americas in the early 1900's.  Their season is between November and March.  I was in place at just the right time to catch them for $2 for 2 lbs.  Knowing the standard price encouraged me to buy many many bags and set aside a day and an evening to process the whole lot.  I spent quite a few hours peeling and juicing the yellow gems and wanted to go ham in the lab aka the kitchen to see what I could could come up with.  After peeling the lemons, I laid the peels out on parchment and dried in a 200 degree oven for about 2 hours.   I used some of the fresh peels to make Meyer Lemon Peel Candy. I spiked mine with Crown Royal Apple Brandy.
Apple Brandy Lemon Peel Candy

I used ice cube trays to freeze the zesty juice in portioned increments to fit the bill for likely amounts in recipes: 1 and 2 tsp. amounts and 1 tbsp. increments. After freezing the cubes, I placed them in separate resealable zip lock bags for easy accessibility, works like a charm!!  I also used my mortar and pestle to make a course ground powder to use in soups, stews and water baths.  My daughter Bronwyn was the first to actually make a tall and frosty jar full of this delicious Meyer Lemonade!  The tangy citrusy and lemony drink was perfect.  I love the idea of having these cubes on hand for many of our treasured treats, which brings me to the featured recipe.
 I am obviously a fan of things lemon, and this creation stemmed from the wonderful fragrance that filled the air during my lab or kitchen time, that's devoted to the development of one specific item or technique.  I also made my first preserved lemons from this batch, I impatiently waited in angst for the 3 week time frame the lemons needed to be ready to eat/use.  I have used them thus far in a recipe starring pork and they were fabulous, albeit, a little goes a long way.  I  rehydrated some of the Meyer Lemon peels and incorporated a touch of that water into the glaze for the end.  Lemon zest will do just fine if you don't happen to have dried peels on hand.  If in season, zest some of the fresh peel into the batter for even more sweet/tart twang.
Recipe:
3 1/2 c. cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. double acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/4 c. sugar
6 large eggs
1 c. or 2 sticks softened butter, unsalted
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. Meyer Lemon juice
1 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste*
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Combine dry ingredients until well blended. 
In another bowl, cream sugar, eggs, butter, oil and milk
Add juice and extract.
Mix in flour in two batches, careful not to overwork batter, producing a tough cake.
Pour into a large greased and floured bundt pan, tapping on hard surface to release any air pockets.
Bake until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean, about 55 minutes to 1 hour.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
For Glaze:
1 c. confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. milk, more or less for desired consistency
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. meyer lemon peel water
1/4 tsp. *MBVBP
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, combine confectioner's sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.
Add milk slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
Fold or stir in lemon zest.
Spread or pour over cooled cake.
Serves 16-18.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Chicken Alfredo Bacon One Siders on Garlic Bread; Chicken Alfredo Cheatzzas

 

Another one for the Garlic Bread Cheatzza mood, featuring pre-cooked grilled chicken, alfredo, pre-cooked bacon, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chives!
Assemble starting with alfredo and build with remaining ingredients.
425*F oven until golden.
Dinner or fantastic appetizers in 10 minutes, pair with green salad and a fresh veggie, Score another for the home team!


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Smokinhotchef
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