Saturday, June 25, 2022

Humble Pies

 Ever wonder how Mickey D's get their apple pies so crispity and bumpy on the outside? I think I can help you with that.  The extra texture on the outside is created by dipping the turnover or pie in water before frying.  Of course, make sure there is no excess and maybe even use a spray bottle, so you won't super saturate the crust and/or cause a dangerous interaction between the oil and water.  Make no mistake, Oil and Water do not mix, especially when it comes to flash/deep frying. 
NEVER try to put out a grease fire with water, EVER.  Use a dry substance like baking soda or salt for flare ups involving oils , to starve the flame of a necessary element, Oxygen.  Under these circumstances, the minimal amount of moisture on the outside of the pie will have an immediate reaction with oil, but will dissipate as quickly as it ensues.  Safety first and you too can get the textured crunch to your turnovers and hand pies, your tasters will want to know your secret, but It's okay if you save it for yourself.  You're Welcome! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Sandwich Purses

Sandwich Purse with Italian Meats made with  a Tomato Basil Wrap

Making a "Sandwich Purse" can be as easy as one, two, three using giant sized tortilla wraps,especially the  Tomato Basil version, your favorite sandwich fillings, cheeses and an 8 inch, nonstick pan.  I came up with these delectable and satisfying gems, feeling the need to make sure I utilized my wraps while they were still super fresh.  I found these at our new Chef's Store, which recently opened in Lynchburg, a good 25 minute drive from our home.  I'd been super excited about its opening and this was my first visit.
  I was like a kid in a candy store, with all the variety, the massive vegetable cooler and the equally massive meats cooler, tremendous array of fresh frozen food items, plus thousands of square footage of just about any and everything a chef, restaurant, homecook, snack shop, foodie or gourmand could appreciate.  I loved it!! I walked away with two new sheet pans, Champagne vinegar, a  5 pound bag of Cavatappi Pasta, 5 pounds of Pepper Jack Cheese cubes,  English cucumbers, plus, flour tortillas for burritos, grapes and Pita Bread! Mind you, this was just in the 15 minutes before closing time, which is 6 p.m.  The prices were within my very reasonable range and the ingredients are interchangable, so it was quite a deal at around 40 bucks.  
Sandwich Purses can be made with breakfast, lunch and dinner items and the technique is the same for whichever theme you desire, cooking necessary ingredients before adding is the main key.  
The top featured photo contains deli sliced Italian meats and two cheeses, with a sprinkle of Candied Cranberries and Pecans, the ones used in salads, for added tartness and tanginess with a subtle, sweet, nutty crunch and fresh chunks of tomato.  
Large Tomato Basil Wraps
Your favorite ingredients, if raw, cooked
Your favorite cheeses, 2 kinds is ideal, one type shredded
Butter, Margarine, EVOO or Nonstick Spray
Fresh Veggies, cut small, placed on paper towels if too juicy
8 inch Nonstick Skillet
Place the skillet on heat source at medium.  Add a small portion about 1/2 tsp or Butter, Olive etc. Melt.
Fit Wrap into the pan and press into the shape of pan.
After about 1 minute or two, start with a slice of cheese, halved and placed on opposite sides.
Layer, starting with the proteins, loosely positioned.
Add desired veggies.
 Add remaining cheese slice, halved and place opposite first slices
With a rubber spatula, start pressing wrap down and towards the center of the pan.
Hold down folded down portion and with another tool, flip the Purse over, so that the folded seams are now on the bottom. 
Press down for several seconds, then allow Purse to brown for about 1 1/2 2 minutes.
Carefully remove from pan and onto cutting surface to halve or leave whole.  
Let stand for about 2 minutes before handling.
Purse will be hot.  
Make as many as needed and enjoy.

Sandwich Purse with Italian Meats, halved

Truff® Hot Sauce is a great addition for dipping your Sandwich Purses!

Bottom view of Sandwich Purse


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Boujee Blondies

I'm always on the prowl for culinary vices filled with wonderment and intrigue.  I love delicious things, especially when I am not up for the work of creating it myself.  I appreciate and shamelessly promote nutriment made and/or hand crafted by others, every chance I get.  I relish in sharing intel, when I am forturnate enough to experience flavors worth talking about.  With that being said, I was doing some reading of emails one day and saw a reference to a place called the Blondery.  I was immediately enthralled and followed the links to a real treasure,  a "limited release virtual bakery" with the most toothsome and scrumptious blondies, which if you are uncertain, are a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie!  Yum and Yum.  
The creator of this Boujee Bliss is a woman by  the name of Auzerais Bellamy, an African American woman with the Midas Touch when it comes to flavor profiles.  She uses only the finest ingredients in her baking, with no additives or preservatives, a mensch when it comes to Pastries, professionally trained and acclaimed by the Bouchon Bakery, too many accolades to mention.  She has been perfecting her signature flavors for over ten years and just shines with her inception of Pecan and Salted Caramel Blondies, which are absolutely AHMAZING!! 
The Blondery website is always bustling, there's a waiting list and even has a timer displayed to mark the countdown to the magic making, which is on Sundays. Certain items are usually always sold out, but she does have a certain combination that is always available.   I ordered the 'always available' sample package, featuring four of the many seasonal flavors.  There are a total of 8 flavors offered, as well as individual "cake in a jar" and whole cakes!  
The Blondies are sent to your desired destination, protected by a bevy of protective items, including bubble wrap, an ice pack, shrink wrap and some packing paper.  Snug as a bug in a rug, your items arrive fresh and gorgeous.  I was so enthralled with the delivery, which I happened to catch the UPS guy, right as I was leaving my driveway.  I had engagements, but as I drove away and towards my destination, I could not stop thinking about what I would find in the much anticipated package, riding shotgun with me, beckoning me to see if what I ordered was worth the wait.  
Surprise! The Blondery box is elegant.
Looks like a present, oh wait, it is!

My curiosity got the best of me after maybe 8 miles and luckily I was afforded the opportunity to unwrap my present to self, a luxurious and decadent Pandora's Box of Sexiness, beautifully packaged, sleek, elegant and dignified.  I felt special.  I felt "Bad and Boujee". I felt empowered and honored as well.  I would be tasting a creation of an acclaimed Pastry Chef, from Brooklyn, down here in my little ole' town in Virginia.  I felt the Pride in knowing that she is brown, like me, following her dream, as I am pursuing my own, reassured that I too can potentially rise to such heights in my profession, the world is my 'Blondie.'  I'd love to meet her, alas I digress.  I sneaked a peek and quickly put the pristine little gift box back in its packaging.  I would wait until my girls finished with school and practice, so we could experience them together, for the first time.  They met and exceeded my expectations, so much so, that I am sharing this with you. 
You can check out Auzerais Bellamy's captivating and motivating story on the Blondery website ( and also on the Blondery Meta page, or simply scan the QR code below to visit the website!  While you're at it, grab a piece of the future, something you can taste and become a part of this unforgettable culinary revolution! 

The Blondery "Birthday Cake Box"

Blondery offers 8 seasonal flavors!

Beautiful and ample packaging for aestetic and shipping


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Oregon Berry, Right in your Own Backyard: Berry Useful

I did some research on some of the plants and bushes around our property out of curiosity and also for awareness of surrounding and indigenous plants.  This particular bush caught my attention for several reasons. 

I have identified a Mahonia aquifolium (Holly Leaved Barberry), aka Oregon Grape shrub in the yard, prized by the Natives for hundreds of years for its Medicinal properties. 

Pacific Northwestern Natives used the roots of the Berberis Mahonia for treatment of various ailments including but not limited to hemorrhages, tuberculosis, stomach issues and arthritis! It's quite a wonder to realize something so versatile and useful can literally be found right outside your door.

Its been a 'decorative bush' bordering the sidewalk for decades it seems.   When my sister called it a Holly Bush, I needed to educate myself on the subject, to support my opinion that it was NOT a Holly. Before reading into it, the best I had was the fact that the berries were not red, nor would they turn red at any point, but I did agree that the leaves were like that of  a Holly. She has the same name only spelled differently, so I really needed to have my facts straight, because all this time, she thought she and the shrub were one in the same.   

When I was satisfied with my identification steps, I tried one of those berries and even got her to try one.  It wasn't as bad as I'd read, though we both had to visit the bathroom very shortly after consumption.  Otherwise, all went well.  The gastro episode falls in line with its properties, as far as being a detox and a bevy of other attributes.  I plan to harvest some of the bark and also make a tincture! The birds have had a splendid time, so the pickings for the berries are slim.  I'm glad I am now equipped with more knowledge for the next time around. 

One of the most striking properties involves the color of the interior wood of the branches. It is a brilliant yellow color.

Just under the bark of a Mahonia Aquifolium, a brilliant yellow is present

Yellow interior of the branches of Mahonia Aquifolium or Oregon Berry Bush