onclick="window.print();return false;" />

printer button

Sunday, April 11, 2021

White Sweet Potato Pie Supreme


 Sweet potatoes pack a mean punch of good for you vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  They are one of the most nutrient dense vegetables in the supermarket! The vibrant orange color of a sweet potato comes from its concentration of beta carotene, but it may come in other mediums like red, white and purple! The red and purple ones have higher concentrations of anthocyanins and polyphenols, which are types of antioxidants.  I have prepared all these versions for my Mom and the classic orange is still her favorite.  Apparently, the tastes of those multicolored sweet potatoes are also different, though slight, to a discerning and most admiring critic.  I did find that the purple ones were a bit dry, soft, almost doughy also, or maybe that was my fault.  I think the purple would be suited nicely as a substitute for yams in making Foo-Foo, an African dish composed of pounded yams, kneaded into a sticky ball of sorts, torn off in bits and used as a vessel for dipping and scooping up such delights as Stew Chicken, Peanut or Okra Soup and Egusi, all African cuisine and quite amazing, according to my readings.  I do however draw the line at okra.  I have a disdain for its texture and mouthfeel.
Many consumers think that sweet potatoes and yams are one in the same, which could not be further from the truth. 
 Yams, which have native origins in Africa and Asia, are a tuber yes, but are also toxic if not cooked before consumption.  They are from the Yam Family, boasting over 600+ varieties and related to grasses, while sweet potatoes are from the Morning Glory or Lily Family. Yams are also Dicots, or have two embryonic seed leaves, while sweet potatoes are Monocots, having only one.  Yams have more starch and are drier as compared to sweet potatoes and their sizes can vary exponentially greater than that of its Doppelganger. 

 Sweet Potatoes however, are classified as firm or soft, with the softer variety being cultivated second.  The African Slaves found familiarity in the softer version, because it was closer to what they consumed in their homelands, so they began referring to the softer sweet potato as a Yam.   
This recipe features the white sweet potatoes and white baking chips.  It was received very well by the kiddoes and we felt it was outstanding served warm.

Recipe:
16 oz. cooked and mashed white sweet potato
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk 
1/2 c. salted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
2/3 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 c. pure cane sugar
4 oz. white baking chips
2 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp. Vietnamese Cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground Green Cardamom
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt 
Zest of one lemon
Prep the sweet potato by peeling and cutting into equal sized chunks and boiling until tender. Drain and remove from water and mash.  Cool slightly before using.  May be done up to 2 days ahead.

Preheat oven to 400*F. 
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and blend  until smooth. 
Divide the baking chips between the pie shells, spreading evenly across bottom.
Pour blended mixture between the pie shells.
Bake at 400*F for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350*F and bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour. 
Remove from oven and allow to cool for one hour and can be served warm for a decadent and wonderful dessert with coffee, just add friends and family.
Each pie makes 8 servings, give one to someone you love and adore.




Saturday, April 10, 2021

Gulf Shrimp and Pantry Ham Fettuccine Alfredo

 

Gulf Shrimp and Ham Alfredo
Spruce up your regular Alfredo with the addition of some simple, canned, diced ham and some clam juice.  With the tides turning for the better, in great part due to the implementation of the three Covid 19 vaccines; Pfizer,  Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, I feel that I can safely begin to dwindle down the pantry ingredients acquired out of necessity.  We are not out of the woods just yet though, and its imperative that we remain vigilant in our course, to effectively turn the corner on this nightmare that is a Pandemic.  Being aware is all of our responsibilities and continuing to wear our masks, at the very least until we are personally vaccinated is to our benefit.  Soon, sooner than later even, we will be back to business as usual.  I am now comfortable enough to start using some of these dried and canned goods I have amassed as well, so get ready for some recipes featuring legumes of all sorts!  Admittedly, I used a box version of a Tuna Casserole, just out of curiosity, by a certain brand that features a guy whose name rhymes with Harry and may or may not be involved with fiber optics (chuckles to myself) and they absolutely abhorred it.  I just followed the instructions, so I don't feel like it was a personal attack on my culinary fortitude, but the kids certainly won't let me live it down!  I actually have a very solid and delicious recipe I wrote for Tuna Casserole, but unfortunately, they seem to only remember the one I made last. I wasn't impressed either, to me it was 'just food', but I kept my poker face to the end and was relieved when my portion was no more.  There was something about the sauce and the tuna, sad face. I am glad I only purchased one pair of those kits, though the brand has other kits that are solid and worth the very affordable cost of a buck!  
The canned, diced  ham is another such purchase.  On it's own, it is a very plain and unimpressive affair, lacking any pizzazz and very little flavor. I remedied that, as best I could, by draining it from its watery grave and patting it dry.  I then proceeded to saute it in some olive oil, getting some good color on it and adding texture, then using it as the base for this recipe's sauce and pairing it with an elevated ingredient, Gulf Shrimp.  This recipe is inspired additionally by a Roman born Carbonara, a rich and amazing pasta dish that features cured pork, raw egg, black pepper and a hard cheese, with the egg and pasta water, stirred in at the end and cooked by the heat of the pasta! Delish!  
Recipe:
1 lb. 41-60 Wild Gulf Shrimp, if frozen, thawed, cleaned
1 5 oz. can cooked, diced ham in water, drained and patted dry
1 lb. Fettuccine, cooked al dente in salted water, about 7 to 8 minutes, reserving 1 c. pasta water
3 tbsp. AP flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion, 
3 -4 cloves garlic, chopped or finely minced
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk or 12 oz. whole milk
1 bottle of clam juice, 8 oz.
1 cup. pasta water with 1/2 c. hot water to equal 1 1/2 c.
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. fresh parsley, roughly chopped
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Garlic bread, baked and cut into thirds for garnish, optional

Directions:
Over medium high heat, in a heavy bottomed pan drizzled with olive oil and 1/2 of butter, brown ham, getting caramelization on all sides, about 4 minutes.
Add butter and once melted and  shrimp and saute until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Remove shrimp and ham from pan and cover to keep warm.
Reduce heat to medium. 
Add onion and continue to cook until onions are translucent, another 4 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle in flour, gradually and cook for about 1 minute.
Add pasta water and bring up to a boil and allow to thicken.
Add clam juice.
Continue to simmer for several more minutes and add milk.
Allow to come back up to temperature and stir in cheese.
Heat and simmer more to thicken.
Add pasta to coat and heat through.
Fold in ham and shrimp and drizzle in a bit more olive oil, as needed.
If too thick, add a splash of milk or water, chicken broth if desired to reach desired consistency.
Garnish with Parsley and Olive oil.
Serves 8 to 10. 
 




  


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Smidgen Hot Pots





















Hot Pots are all the rage and for good reason.  These steaming hot vessels of broth, teeming with fresh and delicious vegetables, unctuous and savory meat proteins and tofu.  There's many elements to a good hot pot and no real wrong way to execute a successful one.  A spectacular broth doesn't need much more to satisfy a meal seeker, especially when some fresh crunch is implemented.  Overall, this is an inexpensive way to fill your tummy and build your hot pot to your desired level.  
This feature is called Smidgen Hot Pots, a smidgen of this, a smidgen of that.  All the ingredients in this recipe, sans the egg and broth, are remnants of meals past, both simple and complex.  The star of this dish is simply everything, but most notably, the smoked and grilled Boston Butt I prepared on behest of my Brother in Law Mark, he wanted some for his meals, as he headed back out on assignment for his job.  
I thinly sliced some of the upper smoky portion of the Boston Butt, which I partially cured in a briny solution before grilling imparting the bright pink color ( in case you thought it was too rare) and added to my already adequate Hot Pot as I would have in one of the magnificent Pho Bowls, I'd dined on from Saigon Cafe!  I loaded the pot down with  classic coleslaw blend, sliced jalapenos, marinated tofu, rice noodles and sliced green onion, all left over from the Pad Thai I made for dinner one night!  I made a simple super hot broth using Better than Bouillon chicken base and added a scant amount of Chinese Five Spice, sooooooo soothing. Underneath, the noodle of choice was a Korean brand.  The eggs were a last minute, yet suitable addition, welcome and pleasantly essential.  
A few weeks ago, I was able to locate the illusive spice I'd seen in almost all of the Mukbang videos I've grown to enjoy for the food culture and culinary delights.  The gorgeous red color of those dishes comes from Pure Red Pepper Powder, consisting of only the fleshy red pepper meat, no seeds, brilliant and heat forward, It's not for the faint at heart, the burn of this spice is noted immediately during and after it hits the taste buds, so by all means, tread lightly, good fellows haha.

I added some as garnish and also to the broth itself, fully aware and privy to its thermogenic effects on the metabolism and its punch of antioxidants, Vitamins A and C, plus polyphenols and phytochemicals, all good for the cells and body, an armor against certain cancers and diseases!  

The final results are pictured above, simple and delicious, all using just a smidgen of this and a smidgen of that....small parts to a big finish, every bite a little different than the last, good to the last drop! 


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Soulful Southern "Wrappetizers": Napa Cabbage Wraps w/Colby Jack Frico, Bacon, Golden Apples and Green Onion



Cool, crispy, salty, fresh and crunchy come together in this quick and wonderful appetizer I created on the fly yesterday.  With some simple on hand ingredients,  I was able to come up with a recipe, easy enough that anyone can do it and fancy enough to served as a fabulous dish for your next brunch or even dinner social.  2/3 slices of thick cut bacon anchor this dish, wrapped in a Colby Jack Frico, which is essentially a cheese crisp, named from a north east region of Friuli, Italy, from which it hails.  A Frico was a historically peasant dish by nature, created out of necessity, finding use for rinds of cheese. This is also sometimes accompanied by potatoes and is still one of the regions most popular dishes, respectively.  Next on the ingredient list is green onion.  I used a portion approximately equal to the length of the portion of bacon, encased with the bacon, to naturally steam with the heat of the protein and cheese. 
I used the petite leaves of a head of Napa cabbage to serve as the housing for the whole shebang, deliciously light and fresh and a nice change from the usual Iceberg or Red/Green leaf and Romaine. Additionally, Napa cabbage is somewhat more supple and privy to the folding than its leafy counterparts, enabling a nice snuggly wrap, like a cozy blanket around the goodness.  I finished this off with some small dice Golden Delicious apple, any crisp and firm apple type will do. 
This dish is like taking a bite out of several traditional Southern favorites, all at once; Cabbage, Apples and Onions, Cabbage and Bacon, Apples and Bacon...you get the drift, this is certainly a lighter take on those dishes, easy to manage and done in a few bites.  The flavors marry harmoniously and will soon become a hit with your friends and family and YOU!   This recipe is also Keto friendly. 
Recipe: 1 small head of Napa Cabbage, about 2 lbs., 4 oz. Colby Jack cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, Cooked, thick sliced bacon, Green onion tops, cut to size, Golden Delicious Apple, small dice 
Instructions: Prep all ingredients because the Frico goes quickly and is best made one at a time, (though you may have several in a large nonstick pan at once) to assemble before the cheese cools too much to encase the bacon and green onion. To make the Frico, you will need to melt the cubes down and allow them to spread naturally as it melts and crisp around its edges, (it will be about 2 inches in diameter) before transferring it to your work surface to add the 2 bacon portions and green onion portion.  Place the cheese crisp down, add the bacon and onion then fold each side of Frico up and over, then holding in place for several seconds until set.  You may prepare all the wraps before placing on Napa cabbage leaves and garnishing with diced apple.  Make as little or many as you choose, they won't hang around long!


Monday, March 22, 2021

Broccoli/Foraged Oyster Mushroom Casserole: Easter Pleaser

Broccoli/Oyster Mushroom Casserole
Broccoli Casserole is one of those dishes that make any holiday special.  Why not make your menu POP with some fresh broccoli and mushrooms, nestled deep inside a creamy and delicious three cheese bath, and garnished with some crispy fried onions?  This time around I was fortunate enough to have some foraged Oyster mushrooms to saute into an earthy, meaty and amazing base along with some fresh button mushrooms for a homemade cream of mushroom Bechamel. This recipe is extra special, since it was the first time I'd found Oyster mushrooms in the wild.   This dish comes together in no time and is perfect with ham, chicken, beef or by itself.  

The original inspiration for bringing broccoli casserole into my cooking repertoire came from my sister Bonnie, who was in turn inspired by Mrs. June Robinson, her beloved late mother in law and the rest is delicious history.  Bonnie never showed me a recipe, but I remember her speaking about it and telling me  how she would prepare the dish for her family, in the manner Mrs. Robinson would prepare hers.  I started making my original form of this dish about 6 years ago, and it quickly became a household favorite, especially for my daughter Genesis, she's quite persnickety in her ways and palate, so when she approved, I accepted that as an indication of a winning dish.  The above featured is a request Genesis made.  She still loved it, even with the addition of the Oyster mushrooms.  

The cheeses for this recipe are key.  I like to use three types, all bringing different facets to this gem of a dish.  Ultimately, the choice is with the culinary artist, so play around with them, see what best fits the tastes of your family.  

Recipe:

6 c. broccoli florets, blanched and shocked

8 oz. sliced button mushrooms

8 oz. sliced Oyster mushrooms

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

1 1/2 c. chicken stock or vegetable stock

8 oz. extra sharp Cheddar, grated

8  oz. Colby and Monterey Jack Cheese, cubed

4 oz. Pepper Jack Cheese, grated

1/2 c. full fat mayonnaise

2 tsp. onion powder

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

3 tbsp. AP flour

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

French Fried Onions for garnish, optional

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 375*F.

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, mayonnaise, onion powder and cubed Colby Jack and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed  saucepan over medium high heat, melt butter and heat olive oil together until butter is melted and there are small bubbles formed.

Add mushrooms and cook out moisture, about 5 minutes.

Gradually sprinkle in  flour and cook for about 1 minute.

Add garlic.

Whisk in stock and cook for several additional minutes until thickened.

Once thickened, whisk in milk slowly and reduce heat to medium.

Bring Bechamel to a gently rolling simmer and turn off heat.

Stir in Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses.

Temper in eggs.

Fold cream of mushroom into bowl containing broccoli mixture.

Pour broccoli mushroom blend into a large greased or nonstick sprayed baking vessel, about 11x9 or approximate size.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until set and knife inserted comes out clean.

Remove foil and continue to cook until signs of golden color develops, about 10 minutes, give or take.

Garnish with French Fried Onions.

Carefully remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.


Broccoli/Oyster Mushroom Casserole before baking











  

 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Shoto Todoroki Ice Cream Bowls, Happy Spring!

Shoto Todoroki Ice Cream Bowls: Hot and Cold!

Hot Cheetos Dusted Ice Cream Bowls!


 This post was never intended to see the light of day, but with the welcome arrival of Spring, I had to share something to mark this special day.  Not only is Hot Cheetos a fabulous coating for chicken tenders and cheese sticks, its also an interesting and spicy delicious topping for ice cream.  That is it and that is all.  Celebrate Spring with a cold, creamy, chunky, chocolaty, crunchy, indulgent, sweet, salty and Hot Cheetos topped treat.  Just add cake for the ultimate gratification.  Don't judge me. haha, but seriously, this is "Bussin"!

Recipe:

Your favorite Ice Cream

Waffle Bowls, optional

Your desired Cake, optional

Hot Cheetos or XXL Hot Cheetos Dust, essential

Assemble as desired, top with Hot Cheetos, the more, the merrier...

Serve immediately.  You're Welcome.

Shoto Todoroki Ice Cream featuring Cookies and Cream and Rocky Road



Blueberry/Ginger/Bacardi Rum Jam: We Be Jammin'!

Today's feature is brought to you by an awesome sale on blueberries at our local Walmart. 12 oz. containers were on sale for $1 each.  This afforded me the opportunity to make a plethora of fruited goodies, namely jam.  I'd never made blueberry jam before and figured it was high time.  Following a successful venture with strawberries, creating a Mixed Berry Sake Jam w/Cardamom, a big hit with me and my family.  The recipe is super easy and relatively maintenance free, using my Ninja Foodi® and I was able to gift some of my family and friends their own special homemade goodies, it makes me feel good!  It pays to catch these impressive sales at local supermarkets and maximize on its benefits by canning and preserving for later.  With times as unpredictable as they are these days, every little bit helps, every deliciously sweet, fruity and spreadable bite!  I used Bacardi Rum for this recipe, but feel free to choose the brand of your own personal desire, I like to stick with the classics when cooking with alcohol. Don't worry, only the subtle spiced notes remain, not the booziness, so you can create memories that you can share with your kids after eating, unabashed and without the shame that sometimes comes along with a story starting with Bacardi Rum! Cheers!


 I'm by no means opposed to sugar and I know and respect its place in canning. I do however, feel that wonderful canned jams and jellies can be achieved with optimal yet reduced amounts.  This recipe provides a delightful and fruit forward spread and you will never miss the extra sugar! Try a heaping spoonful in your cottage cheese for a real treat or with the usual suspects like toast, English muffins or yeast rolls.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner, this JAM ROCKS!

Recipe:
8 -12 oz. containers of fresh blueberries, rinsed, picked through and examined for defectives
5 3/4 c. pure cane sugar
8 whole green cardamom pods
Juice and peel (without pith or white part) of 1 lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt or to taste
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 shot bottle of Bacardi Rum 1 1/2 oz.
2 boxes fruit pectin, optional
Instructions:
Place all ingredients except vanilla extract in the Foodi on the warm setting and allow the fruit to macerate and marry for 5 hours.  Doing so will break the berries down slowly and help them keep their form, concentrating the delicious flavors and 'becoming' with little effort.  Stir periodically.
Once the berries have given up their liquids and are fragrance forward, turn the setting to  sear/saute and bring the berries up to gentle simmer.
Remove the cardamom pods!
Once the berries have reached your desired consistency, turn off the heat and add the pectin mixed with a little water.  
If you choose not to use the pectin, simply simmer the berries down until visibly reduced and it is a bit thicker in the vessel.  It will continue to thicken naturally as it cools and sets.
Stir until fully dissolved and transfer to hot sterilized jars.
Add the lids and place the jars on the counter to seal naturally over the course of the next day.
You will be able to tell if they have sealed, by the indentation in the top lid, it will be concave. 
Label and date your finished gems, I like to adorn the gifting ones with butcher's twine for a personal touch, but feel free to omit or decorate as desired.   
Your jam is ready to be stored or gifted, I did both.
Makes 12 -1/2 pint jars, plus some to enjoy now, just place the remainder in a clean and airtight jar with a lid.
Refrigerate for longest shelf life and best flavor.  Keep in mind, this version has about half the sugar as the regular versions, so it may be more susceptible to losing freshness faster after opening, not that it will hang around though, as my young teens say "It's Bussin"!, which translates to delicious!


Featured Author
Featured Author
Smokinhotchef
Smokinhotchef
view my recipes
Featured Author