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Showing posts with label foodies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foodies. Show all posts

Thursday, July 8, 2021

National Fried Chicken Day Recap

As many of you all know, yesterday was the day of the golden fried and delicious pieces of Southern crispity happiness and we paid homage in the cooling evening air, with friends, family and good music and conversation.  It was a very informal affair and rather unannounced, but somehow, we kind of always end up together.  I made my custom breading for a crust that's hard to beat and a flavor profile bursting with levels, personality and the implement of heat using some Korean Red Pepper Flakes, thanks Mukbangers for turning me on to that gem!  My family adores my fried fare, though I don't make it so often as to worry about it being so bad for us.  
I feel that I've perfected my method over the years and all my tasters so far approve, Winning!  My youngest teen prefers boneless chicken and I credit that to sheer laziness haha, but she is a bit leary about food with bones in general, for fear of shards and bits of bone posing a choking hazard.  I respect that, though sometimes it does seem a tad trivial, but hey "Safety First".  I must admit though, she seems to always end up with that food item with something "chokey" in it.  With this in mind, I fried some boneless chicken breast cutlets, careful to examine the chicken before breading.    I also made some crinkle cut French Fries, along with some Waffle Fries, my girls' favorite of the two.  I served the chicken legs and breasts with all the dipper favorites including Buttermilk Ranch, Barbecue Sauce, Thai Chili Sauce, Sriracha, Texas Pete, Mayonnaise, Ketchup and lots of honey wheat and white bread!

I cooked outside on the patio using a propane burner in my go-to chicken frying pot.   I have a "deep frying" pot, but I just love my Emeril, it is a beast for everything.  I've been using it for years now, even and consistent, it's just awesome.  I've been using my primary fry pot since I was in college, well, just out of college. It was a part of my first set of cookware I purchased as an adult and has a wealth of history and 'meal memory'. Admittedly, it's not pretty anymore, but it sure is special, efficient and a true workhorse in the kitchen.  One of the 'rites of passage' in our family is being able to fry a good bird, one I take great pride in, gravy and 'hoe cakes' are in the same category, and with 7 sisters, I must represent. Though I make them infrequently, I like to keep my skills sharp.  The aforementioned foods are a part of the foundation of Southern, African American cooking.  

We also got together for the Fourth of July and I fried some rounds of fish, Whiting Fillets, (the standard for any summer gathering with many people of color) which is another crowd pleaser.   We had all the other customary foods, like burgers, hotdogs, various cold salads, Italian sausages and so on.  We even had a family member bring some crab legs and these gorgeous whole Dungeness Crabs, I used my steamer pot for those and they were spectacular, a wonderful variant to the rest of the menu.  

Dungeness Crabs ready for a steam bath.


We were very chill on National Fried Chicken Day, much like a regular dinner outside.  We didn't engage in the same activities as we did on the 4th, but I'll delve into that day in an upcoming post.  This is one phenomenal and fun 'holiday'! Until next time, keep your crust crunchy and the interior moist and don't forget the hot sauce!


 



Golden and Floating equals ready to eat!


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Bussin' Bussin' Banana Bread

 


Ready for a banana bread recipe that is out of this world delicious, then look no more!   This is loaded with some fantastic and good for you ingredients that fill you with all the right stuff and just in time for picnicking, backpacking, camping, cooking out, tailgating, entertaining, relaxing, visiting, gifting, snacking, easy breakfasts or just because!  

I used Cocavo Oil w/ Turmeric and Lemon Zest, full of antioxidants, with the addition of essential vitamins,minerals and healthy fats, along with some roasted Walnut oil to complement the walnut pieces scattered throughout, bringing in some antioxidant richness, fiber, plant sourced Omega 3's, blood pressure and blood sugar lowering properties, plus cancer and heart disease defense, anti-inflammatory properties, enhancing gut health and so much more. 

  Organic Oat flour is also used in my recipe.  Oat flour is filled with fiber, both soluble and insoluble and helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular episodes and coronary heart disease.  There's lots more substantial and relevant ingredients, but I won't bore you with the details, let's get to it, you will be replacing your old go-to Banana Bread recipe in no time, with a bread of this new age of delicious and inspired ingredients, because this one is BUSSIN' BUSSIN'! 

Recipe:

1 1/2 c. unbleached AP flour, spooned into measuring cup
1 c. Organic Oat flour
2 tbsp. Organic Coconut Spice Granola, Red Mill
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. double acting baking powder
1 1/2 c. very ripe bananas, frozen, then thawed and mashed
1 cup Walnut halves, roughly broken into smaller pieces
2 c. pure cane and brown sugar blend
2 tsp. Pumpkin Spice blend
1 tsp. Kosher salt or to taste
1 c. evaporated milk 
2 tbsp. heavy cream 
2/3 c. Cocavo Oil w/ Turmeric and Lemon Zest
2 tbsp. Roasted Walnut Oil
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. Caramel flavoring
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Combine wet ingredients in a larger bowl.
Gradually add dry mix into wet ingredients, stirring just until each round is moist. 
After mixing, let batter rest for 15 minutes.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, making sure it's well incorporated.
Divide evenly among nonstick sprayed pans, filling about 1/2 inch from the top.
Bake until golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes for individual sized loaf pans, closer to 1 hour for regular sized loaf pans, depending on oven.

For an even more wholesome Bussin' Banana Bread, substitute Oat Milk for the evaporated milk, use an egg substitute and 3/4 c. maple syrup in place of the sugar blend.

Bussin' Bussin' Banana Bread; great any time of day, travels well and is great for gifting!

Happy Juneteenth Everyone!

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Harlem Shrimp

All I can say is that this spice blend is as rich in culture and flavor, as the neighborhood it's named after.  Harlem Garlic Pepper seasoning by BADIA, is one of  my new favorite spice blends.  The flavors of garlic and pepper and prominent, while dehydrated veggies and other spices play a perfect part.  The kiss of sweetness, balances out the salt even more.  
I love this blend because salt is not the first, second, third or fourth ingredient.  As a matter of fact, each serving contains only 60 mg of sodium, that's 60% than a serving of Kosher salt!  You can get the beauty of the spices; garlic, onion, pepper and  bell peppers, without blowing your sodium intake for the day!  
I sprinkled some on popcorn for an awesome snack and also some salt and vinegar chips to test it out.  Lots of flavor and possibilities led me to the creation of this recipe.
Recipe: 
I sprinkled some de-shelled, de-veined and prepped Wild Caught Red Argentine Shrimp 21/25 ct. with the Harlem blend and allowed it to hang out while I made the wet batter.  
I used 1 part seasoned flour and one half part buttermilk pancake mix, along with some evaporated milk and a little water, to achieve the consistency I needed.  I didn't want them to be batter heavy and greasy tasting, so I thinned the batter just so it could drain off and set up in the hot oil. 
 Once the shrimp had been fried and drained well on paper towels,
 I plated them and added a bit more Harlem Garlic Pepper to seal the deal.  
I made a dipping sauce from 4 parts ketchup and 2 parts horseradish, with a hit of Blazin' Hot Ranch, mixing well.  It was phenomenal.  The "Father of Harlem" Philip Payton Jr. would be proud. 


 


 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Creek Gourmet: Sauteed Garlic- Lemon-Thyme Butter Crayfish

It's that time of year again and I can't wait.  My sister Bonnie and her husband J.R, who are both avid 'outdoorsmen' gift me with small bounties of local Virginia crayfish, caught fresh from the creek near their hunting cabin, deep down in a hollow, the same place we found our first Morels.  They have been a bit scarce over the past two years, hauls so small, they leave them, in hopes of a larger haul in the near future.  On a gorgeous day maybe two weeks ago, before the rains finally made it to our region, we got together and helped her with some watering of the expansive garden plot down at the cabin,  full of rich, red soil.  After toting fresh water from the creek in 5 gallon buckets, I went back to enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape and the man made pond, where we helped to feed the newly restored and restocked fish, juxtaposed to the cabin site.   

As I walked along the winding creek, I paid close attention to the deeper sections and noticed movement from small fishes and ultimately langoustine looking critters, scuttling amongst the mud and pebble laden bottom, plus around and under mossy rocks.  I even observed a crayfish noshing on another crayfish, apparently that is not uncommon with these guys, creek cannibals indeed!  They bait the traps with protein, usually a good sturdy chicken leg, raw preferably, because it has staying power and isn't easily conquered by the hungry brood, and they seem to like it very much!    The traps remain submerged until a decent haul is amassed.  Sometimes, they may eat the bait and scurry away, given enough time between trap checks.   The crayfish remain alive all the way up until the time to cook them arrives, being transported in a bucket with fresh creek water.

With the hardest part being done, the fun and most delicious part is just around the corner.  I give these "mud bugs" or "crawfish", as they are known by in the lower lying states, namely Louisiana, a good time in a sink pool, for around 2 to 2 1/2 hours, refreshing the water many times over.  I swish and slosh them a bit with a rubber spatula.  I plan to use a scrubby brush on their little hands and bodies for the next time around, as I have observed on every Mukbang video featuring seafood, for good measure.  Next, I transfer them to a large strainer or colander, shaking it constantly and running more cool water over them for the final rinse. 

The crayfish are ever moving and you will have to shake them down relentlessly.   I then chop copious amounts of fresh garlic, parsley and sprigs of thyme from my herb garden.  Then, I melt some  salted butter and a couple turns of the pan of good Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large saute pan and infuse it with garlic and thyme flavor, at a just warm temperature.  After about 5 minutes.  I turn the heat up to medium high and add the crayfish.  I shake and toss until all the crayfish are a brilliant bright red, about 5 minutes, dressing with the parsley, fresh lemon and cracked pepper, then transfer to a large platter, pouring the pan juices over.  

We eat them with our good, clean hands and lots of paper towels.  We lick our fingers too.   Man, I can't wait.

Beautiful and Tranquil Virginia Landscape

There were small, medium and large alike.  I noticed one of the traps nearby, but it had yet to be baited. 


Virginia Crayfish, looking for food.

My sister Bonnie, watering their garden.



Virginia Crayfish hanging out in the sink

 
Sauteed Virginia Crayfish in Garlic Lemon Thyme Butter

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Simply Vanilla Gourmet Cheesecakes: Simply Scrumptious

Simply Vanilla's Cheesecake Case
IN A WORD, Yessss!
We sampled our myriad of mini cheesecakes in front of the fireplace in the mall!

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Simply Vanilla's wonderful selection of bars and brownies

Whoopie Pies, Massive Danishes, Muffins and Cookies

Simply Vanilla offers Vegan and Keto options




Social Distancing Parameters at Simply Vanilla

Key Lime Cheesecake by Simply Vanilla


Simply Vanilla Menu



 

Sharing is Caring, Simply Vanilla Gourmet Cheesecake

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! 


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Jonah Crabs, New Found Delight!

Jonah Crabs, delicious and sweet!
I like to consider myself a purveyor of things delicious and ever gathering the inside track on what I must try in my culinary journey and I recently became aware of the Jonah Crab or Cancer Borealis.  This crustacean is harvested and abundant right here in the Americas, on the East coast , Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island bringing in the most.  The New England states are home to many delicacies as seen by food culture and this one more to add to the list.  The Jonah Crab was once seen as a nuisance to many trappers, especially during the 80's, often thrown back when hauled in with the more desirable lobsters and other more popular fare, much to our favor, because they have been afforded the opportunity to thrive, thus making it much more affordable than its counterparts. They are also found further up, in Newfoundland and all the way down to Florida.  

The Jonah Crab is delicious.  I ran across a 2 lb. bag of steamed and scored crab claws and legs at Walmart.  The scoring makes for hassle free enjoyment, missing only a portion of clarified or salted butter and lemon to set the stage for a most beautiful engagement.  Ghee is also an option, I used some and WOW!   The meat of the Jonah Crab is delicate and sweet.  The claws are quite meaty and easy to manipulate.  I found complete satisfaction with devouring them just as they were, steam thawed with some seafood seasoning in my Foodi, but they would be perfect for crab dips and crab cakes if you choose.  The claws are heavy for their size and make for awesome presentations as well.  

I recently purchased a gorgeous blue wooden bowl that would have been perfect for presentation, but after failing to find it in a timely fashion, I ended up standing and dining at the stove top, where the Foodi was situated and eating straight from the pot. Of course, I had paper towels and a large short sided paper towel lined cardboard box to use as my plate. The box was part of the canning process of my Blueberry, Ginger and Bacardi Rum Jam, I will be posting that recipe soon!  

I was able to grab enough blueberries on sale for $1 for 12 oz. cartons, (Thanks Walmart) to make 24 -1/2 pint jars, with some extra to snack on with toast and bagels, fantastic!  I feel that eating seafood out can be a very costly affair if ordering crab legs, crabs, lobsters, etc...so this was a perfect way to get that pleasure right at home for a reasonable price and will allow you to get more for your money, which is always good.  Besides, crabs can be quite a messy meal and who wants to look like a savage in public? Haha, nk.

Jonah Crab Claws and Legs with Butter

 If you are looking for a seafood fix, be sure to be on the lookout for Jonah Crabs, they won't disappoint, I don't know how I made it this far without knowing about these guys, now we can both be in the know and start reaping its sweet and delicious benefits. If you already knew, then have some anyway!  Jonah Crab for the win. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Korean Barbecue Meatball Subs

 

I'm not going to 'beat around the bush', this recipe is bad ass!  I'm proud to share it with you, plus it's a less stress, no mess ingredient call and with the use of a pressure cooker or crockpot,  the flavors can be super infused for a bevy of bold taste, in a short period of time!  The flavors of Korean Barbecue kick you right in the mouth and finish with warm buns and tangy toppings.  I used sweet and hot banana peppers for a splash of color and some mozzarella cheese, bringing in some neutral and stretchy cheese goodness that we look for in a meatball sub. I used store bought, precooked chicken meatballs for a fast, familiar and complimentary flavor profile, mimicking the flavor of Korean Barbecue chicken! 
 Once the veggies have been chopped, the rest is smooth sailing into a delicious and unforgettable lunch, dinner or game day special feature, so easy, a toddler could do it!  No shade toddlers, I'm just saying, it's crazy easy!  This dish is not too  harsh on the middle, so what the hell, have 2, just wait until the next day for the second one, the taste is even better after the cavorting of ingredients overnight!  
Recipe:
2 lbs.  store bought or precooked chicken meatballs
1 11 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c. ketchup
1/2 c. veggie stock, you may also use less sodium beef or chicken stock
1/4 c. Gochujang
5 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
1/4 c. pure cane sugar
2 tbsp. liquid aminos or soy sauce
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. mirin 
2 tsp. Liquid smoke, mesquite 
1 tbsp. dried cilantro, divided
12oz. grated whole milk mozzarella
1 small jar sweet/hot banana peppers
 4 green onions, trimmed, white and green parts, sliced
8 to 10 hoagie buns
Olive oil for drizzling
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
 
Instructions:
Place meatballs frozen or thawed in Ninja Foodi. 
Add stock first, pouring over meatballs.
Add remaining ingredients, down to cilantro, adding 2 tsp. to the pot. The remainder will be for garnish.
Place the Foodi on pressure cook mode and set time for 30 minutes.
Once 30 minutes is up, carefully release pressure and remove
 top and stir.
Place Foodi on Sear/Saute mode at medium high and reduce until desired consistency of sauce is reached, generally about 10 minutes.
Place oven on broil setting.
Split hoagie buns and place a bit of sauce and a scant amount of cheese to each bun.
Add up to 5 meatballs to each bun.
Sprinkle generously with cheese.
Drizzle all subs with olive oil.
Sprinkle on remaining cilantro and place under broiler.
Broil until golden and bubbly, about 4 minutes.
Garnish with sliced green onion and sweet/hot banana peppers.
Makes 8 to 10 Subs. 
Serve with chips, fries or green salad.

If using a crockpot, simply place all ingredients in the vessel, then place on high setting for 4 hours.
Follow assembly instructions as stated for the Foodi.
If using a stovetop, place all ingredients minus meatballs in a medium heavy bottomed pot with lid and bring up to a boil, add meatballs and simmer for 2 hours, then place on medium high setting for the last 15 minutes to thicken the sauce.








Wednesday, September 16, 2020

American Buffet Blues and Covidity

My mother and me at a buffet before Covid-19.


Once upon a time, there was the American Buffet. The Americas bloom with hubs, casinos and family friendly spots, where one could have a run of the gamut of copious amounts of food choices.  Some specialize in the Comfort Food Style or Country Buffet settings, while others, though a bit more expensive, could provide more extensive and charming foods like prime rib, lobsters, crab legs, custom made sushi displays, chocolate fountains and American versions of Chinese Food.  
The sign that hung over the gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno,"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here" is certainly the theme of the waist bands and waist lines of its patrons, at least for the night, because as much as we would like to think we aren't gluttonous in our ways, not limited to food alone, we are in fact liable to over indulge.  
I myself, am guilty of such, though not even close to the 21 year old me, with a gang of friends, fresh from taking a ride in the car, on the desolate back roads near our Alma Mater, with the herbal remedies consuming the vehicle, making it a practical dutch oven of Marley's Muse.  We  then headed to the Golden Corral for dinner, a proverbial orgy of mastication, from soups, salads, entree after entree, desserts, more entrees and topping it off with ice cream, refills of soft drinks, coffee and waters with lemon...We were inundated with food, no one there to tell us "You've had enough"  like we were too intoxicated to drive from the bar or had too much to drink, no safe words, emergency stop buttons or elder to reprimand us for putting too much on our plates, just full on satisfaction/misery for college work money well spent and participation overload, filled to the gills and as the moments ticked by, sick.
 We weren't sickened by food borne illnesses, like E Coli, Listeria or Staph, but rather overindulgence to a fault.  Back then, we possibly took for granted the assumption that everyone washed their hands, stayed home when they were not feeling well and were careful not to sneeze on or near other people or foods, remembered to cough or expel air into the curve of their elbows. 
Reflecting, we had only one instance of such food debauchery at an "all you can eat buffet," of which we never took part in again, at least not like that.  Those were the days...
With this  new 'normal', the American Buffet has been all but decimated, definitely compromised and even more of a risky endeavor than before.  We were already faced with the veritable lottery of illnesses and bacteria, susceptible to the preexisting conditions.  With Covid 19, the gamble is such that the slightest carelessness, even on the part of other consumers, can prove fatal, or at least regrettable.  From listening to the experiences of  people I know personally who have contracted, fought and recovered from Covid 19, I think I'll take the 'mild food poisoning for 1000 Alex', the lesser of two evils. 
With the Covidity of this situation reaching fever pitch, I feel that in order to save the American Buffet, many more safeguards must be implemented. I actually brainstormed some ideas of how to preserve its integrity, like requiring the patrons to wear disposable gloves when visiting the food stations, as not to transmit bacteria from handle to handle, no individual will be touching the actual handle, employees included.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Temperature checks at the door is not out of the question.  Some walk-thru  ultraviolet light systems at the entrance would be nice.  The sneeze guards would need to completely cover/separate the diners from the food items, with only the opening for the utensil, a small circle if you will, just large enough to get portions from the desired dish.  I also think there would have to be a station that immediately washes/disinfects the soiled trays, eating utensils, drinking vessels and discarded napkins, with proper sanitation methods applied.  It seems like a lot, but in fact a lot is at stake. 
 Consumers want to feel safe and a measure of comfort when venturing out to recapture some normalcy.  Alas, this is indeed only a phase and I have full confidence in our scientists and doctors to arrive at a cure we can all stand behind, soon.  Earlier, I mentioned the word (Covid)ity, I think I'll be the first to say, I coined this word to mean "1.) of dire importance, 2.) something that denotes the severeness of a situation or 3.) at the precipice of one's attention".  The suffix ity, is defined as "the state of being something".  This word is derived from the words and virus (Co)rona (Vi)rus (D)isease of the year 2019 or Covid 19 for short, (Covid is being presented as a noun per my definition ) which in reality is all of those definitions, and more. 
(Covid)ity may be used outside of the context of the virus, to communicate a certain importance of any thing or event.  This assigned definition of the scientific abbreviation gives us a takeaway that may be used interchangeably.  One day, this pandemic will be no more, but embossed on our brains, in history and medical books, its Covidity, never forgotten.
 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Thai Style Green Coconut Curried Cabbage w/ Red Bell Pepper and Amabito no Moshio

Taste the magic and depth a good Thai curry can bring to your dinner table in this simple recipe, low on effort, but big on return.  I bought this massive head of cabbage from a fellow at the local Farmer's Market, weighing in at whopping 8 pounds. I believe strongly in helping to support small businesses where I can, I too belong to this growing population.  It was a beautiful specimen.  I also bought a bushel of fresh corn, which I trim and rinse well with water, then microwave, for a no fuss side dish or snack in a flash.  I was also able to procure a 1960's, vintage tool chest designed for young boys, made by American Toy Company.  It is in amazing condition.  Collecting vintage things is kinda my thing, but we will touch back on that later!  
 The corn comes out bursting with natural sweetness and flavor, as good as any method, anywhere.  I learned this trick from a dear friend of mine, an older gentleman, widowed, that would come into the restaurant I worked in when I was a freshman and sophomore in college.  He told me about how he prepared his corn and I then tried it at home and was surprised at the delicious flavor profile and how the husks left on, serve as the perfect protection and steaming vessel for each individual ear.  The only thing left to do after that is pull down the husks and remove the silk.  Add your desired condiments or serve as is for a refreshing course in corn.  
The humongous head of cabbage gave way to many ideas, but I settled for presenting it two ways with our Sunday dinner, traditional and curried.   I quartered the large cabbage and cut away the core.   In a large heavy bottomed pot drizzled with olive oil and smoked pork fat seared the quarters on all of its flat sides.  The smoked pork fat of course is optional, I rendered it from some jowl we had for Sunday breakfast.  The pork fat is in keeping with the traditional Soul Food version, full of flavor and smoky presence.  I seared the sides of the cabbage quarters, until a nice golden color was reached, about 20 minutes over medium heat.  
I really wanted to develop the flavors, before adding salt or any spice that could render the water before it could be properly browned.  This is where I divided the cabbage into 2 recipes.  From there, I added enough stock/water to cover the cabbage and sparsely separated the chunks with a fork.  You may use vegetable stock for a vegan version or chicken stock, water also.  Dashi stock will be fabulous if you have it. I brought them up to a boil and then set at at gentle rolling boil for about 25 minutes.  After about 25 minutes and reducing the liquid by 1/3, I added 4 oz. coconut milk, 1 tbs. Thai Coconut Green Curry Powder (by Manitou Trading Company and a small pinch of Amabito no Moshio (Seaweed Salt) reduced cooking temperature to medium to medium low. 
 The coconut green curry by Manitou is rich with lemongrass, tamarind, coconut milk, onion, garlic, lime leaves, shallots and other spices, even better simmered in a bit of oil before adding to the cabbage, to bloom the flavors.  Simmer the cabbage until desired texture is reached and add the sliced pepper towards the end as not to cook the slices apart.  Drizzle the finished dish and subsequent portions with COCAVO*oil.  Serve each serving with some of the delicious infused juice.
Cocavo oil is a fantastic blend of unrefined extra virgin coconut and avocado oils, with a hint of turmeric and lemon, just amazing!



Nice browning and caramelization adds depth and flavor.  Season afterwards, not before.




This pot is quite large, 12 qt. capacity and makes the cabbage look small!



The lone Red Bell Pepper growing beside my herb garden with my Begonias.




The Big Green Cabbage.






 

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Smokinhotchef
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