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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!


Dee Lish's Deliveries- Meat Lasagna


 I special delivered this lasagna to one of my older sisters, Terry, along with one of my signature Roasted Pumpkin Cream Pies (also featured on this blog, under the same name), chosen from my catalog of options.  She lives alone, so she specified the size and ingredient call for the dish, including, no fennel, extra beef and lots of three cheeses; Parmesan, Sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella.  I encouraged Terry towards a more wholesome request with the addition of fresh spinach to her dish, adding much needed and good for you nutrition and also a vibrant splash of color!  She agreed and was very pleased with her results. 
I'd been promising my fellow left handed sister a good home cooked meal, to welcome her back home from a lengthy hospital stay, of which I had planned on braised short ribs and perhaps some creamed potatoes and a slow cooked green.  She never worries about calories or fats (and has a somewhat tall and lean stature) especially not after having been deprived of her own freezer stocked with her favorites.  Her first choice was actually some chitlins', something she never tires of talking about having during the cool and winter months, but that was a dish that requires more time and effort than I could offer amidst the obligations and work load, plus pain, that beset my schedule and body at the time, particularly when its cold.

Terry makes a primo Seafood Alfredo,  loaded with treasures of the sea like bay scallops, crab meat and shrimp.  My girls and I just adore it and its the one request we've made when she feels up to it again.  She's the type that loves a dish that's over the top. For instance, if you'd like a cheeseburger, Terry makes a 1/2 lb. double bacon cheeseburger. Ask for a sandwich and it's a club, with extra meat/cheese and if there's cake involved, ice cream is definitively its natural accompaniment! Her eyes are most certainly bigger than her stomach, as she hardly, if ever, finishes any one thing she prepares and is subject to lose interest easily, after the initial culinary desire has been met, which can be a particular treat for those around her. 
 She's a real character and sweetheart, a sister and a friend.  

I am glad Terry made the request as she did, because in doing so, I was able to write another solid and delish lasagna recipe, this one with the flat lasagna and now my more favored over the rippled one.  I also omit the egg that I usually use in some of my ricotta mixtures and replace it with an Italian cheese blend to serve as a binder.  The sheets also aid in preparing smaller portion dishes.   This will be the recipe that makes the menu, once my meal service is fully up and running.   I'll be sharing more about its details in the weeks to come.  In the meantime between time, happy eating! 


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Smokinhotchef
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