Thursday, March 21, 2013

Crazy Easy Coleslaw!

Love homemade coleslaw, but think it takes a village to make?  I've taken the stress and the mystery out of this side dish, so you can enjoy it at home with your famous ribs, fish and barbecue and it's complete in about 5 minutes!  My family loves my coleslaw and I am proud to share it with you.  For those watching their caloric intake, never fear, this recipe may be prepared with reduced fat mayo or even Greek yogurt, without totally compromising the rich and creamy taste  of an original version we seek when enjoying this dish.  The slaw may be served immediately, but I like to let mine hang out in the fridge for a while for the flavors to marry and the cabbage to absorb the flavors of the dressing.  I use black sesame seeds in one of my versions for a contrast in color and added calcium and B vitamins! This is a large batch, but it's even better the next day! Feel free to half the recipe if desired.
8 c. fresh grated cabbage
1 large carrot, peeled and trimmed and grated
3/4 to 1 c. (depending on creaminess desired) mayonnaise, regular, reduced fat or fat free
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
sugar to taste, or sugar substitute like stevia or sucralose
Combine cabbage and carrot  in large bowl and mix well.
In another bowl, combine mayo, vinegar, sesame seeds, and sugar to taste.  Blend well and add to shredded mix.  Fold until all is well coated.  TASTE IT!. SPST. Adjust seasonings as desired.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours until serving.
Makes about 12 servings

Teriyaki and Pickled Ginger Roasted Bird

When it comes to roasted chicken, the possibilities are practically endless.  I have many recipes of the sort to share, including one my more recent roasted chicken dishes in the top 5, featured above.  With a 5 lb. bird in hand and my trusty  Le Crueset French Oven riding shotgun, I create a hassle and virtually maintenance free meal headliner in about 2 hours.  Preparation is less than 5 minutes and after that, the oven will bring everything together with ease.  The versatility of a roasted bird makes for side dishes as simple or intricate as one desires, the sides may be omitted totally, swap in some crusty rolls, and go for nice bistro style sandwiches with all the fixins'.  Further, the meat may be removed from the bones and transformed into a wonderful chunky soup, salad or even fajitas, pies and enchiladas!  Whatever your speed for the day, this bird can deliciously fit the bill, and it's easy on the budget.  Mix and match flavors to create your own preferred style dish, or just try this one and see what you think!
1 5 lb. chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and halved
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 lemons, quartered
1/4 c. Teriyaki marinade
1/3 c. pickled ginger
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Spread open cavity of bird and SPST inside.
Stuff with olive oil drizzled onions, garlic and lemons.  Secure legs together.
Carefully separate skin from meat and pour marinade underneath to cover as much surface area as possible. Sometimes the skin will tear, as above, and it's O.K., just place extra pickled ginger in the torn area to aid in moisture preservation during roasting.
Slide slices of pickled ginger between skin and meat in as many places as you can. 
Drizzle with olive oil and rub skin, coating all.  SPST.
Place in heavy duty vessel, such as a Dutch or French oven and place lid atop.
Bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until legs shake loosely in the socket.
Baste several times during the last 30 minutes to encourage even browning.  Let stand
before slicing to serve. Skim juices and/or strain and serve drizzled over chicken Serves 8 to 10.

Fragrant Springtime Roasted Pork Loin

Pork loin is a popular and delicious protein suitable for any time of year.  This particular recipe reminds me of spring with it's crisp and bright flavors, that really bring this loin to life after marination.  The featured recipe is paired with my Better Than Sex Broccoli Casserole and some roasted new potatoes for a wonderful family style meal or Super Sunday Dinner.  The lemon grass paste and sambal oelek add a super Asian quality dynamic, which is further complimented by fresh garlic, lemons, and Marsala.    Lemon grass paste can be found in the produce department of major markets. It is native to India and tropical Asia, where it is used as teas, in curries as well as soups.  Known as Cymbopogon in   it's native countries, lemon grass also goes by other monikers like lemongrass, silky heads, barbed wire grass, hierba Luisa, fever grass and citronella grass.  This member of the grass family is also used as a preservative and insect repellent, as well as a pheromone to attract bees to hives for trapping. Lemon grass also possesses anti-fungal properties and medicinal attributes to some.
This recipe is super the next day as well for amazing sandwiches on toasted slices of French bread drizzled with olive oil, adorned with fresh spinach, horseradish mustard, mayonnaise and Cheddar cheese, that's if there's any left over! My sister Bonnie and her husband thought the sandwiches were fantastic!  For smaller loins, simply half the recipe.
1 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork loin
1/2 c. Marsala
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 lemons
1 tsp. lemongrass paste
1 tsp. sambal oelek
olive oil
Pierce loin generously with a knife or fork for flavor permeation.  Place in large resealable bag and SPST.
In a bowl, whisk together Marsala, juice of lemons, garlic, paste, sambal oelek and about 1 tbsp. of olive oil and pour over loin.  Roll around in bag to coat evenly, press out excess air and marinate in refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Pour off marinade and pat loin dry with paper towels.
Heat cast iron skillet or large saute pan to medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil.
Sear loin on all sides until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to oven to finish cooking.
Roast uncovered until internal temperature reaches 165*F.  Remove from oven and let rest for about 15 minutes.  This will allow the roast to continue cooking and reabsorb juices before serving. Drizzle with pan juices before serving if desired!
Makes 10-12 servings.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tangy and Buttery Brussels Sprouts

This recipe is an homage to the sometimes greatly adored or  highly abhorred vegetable, synonymous with the words "Eww" and "Yuck".  Brussels Sprouts are popular  in Belgium and have been since the early 13th century, with the first written account being made in 1587.  There is no undisputed evidence, but they may have originated there.
Brussels Sprouts as we know them came to the Americas around the 18th century to Louisiana, by way of the French Settlers.  Thomas Jefferson grew Brussels Sprouts at Monticello.  California encompasses the best climate and growing conditions  for these sprouts which mainly began in the 1920's.
 Modern genetics has worked to to help lessen the off putting bitter taste of these earth-like gems and make them more palatable.  They are a part of the Cruciferae family which includes cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli and kohlrabi to name a few.  Brussels Sprouts are rich in B vitamins, dietary fiber, Vitamin A, and folic acid, which is found in orange juice.  Also, they contain a compound called sinigrin, which is believed to help fight against colon cancer. They also harbor indole-3-carbinol, a compound beneficial in DNA repair.  Heart patients should be aware that excessive amounts of Brussels Sprouts may be a hindrance, because they contain a significant amount of Vitamin K, which can interfere with anti-coagulants.
Instances of over consumption, are far and in between, so do not let this notion deter you from enjoying these super leafy green antioxidant giants from time to time.!
The following recipe is a simple and delicious one, using fresh lemon and zest, a splash of seasoned rice vinegar and a small amount of real butter.  I prepared these in the microwave, as per convenience, and to promote just enough steaming to promote minimal nutrient loss.  Boiling your sprouts significantly lowers the levels of heart and colon healthy compounds, so steam, stir-fry or saute to get the most out of their benefits.  You may also half them to expedite cooking process and accommodate carmelization of surfaces.
This recipe pairs well with roasted chicken and pork.
1 lb. fresh  Brussels Sprouts, trimmed if needed
1 lemon and zest
splash of seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp. butter
Place sprouts in microwave safe vessel.  Add butter and about 1/4 c. water. Cover.  Microwave on high for about 6 minutes or until tender.  Pour contents onto serving vessel and squeeze the lemon juice atop and add a splash or two of the vinegar.  Grate some zest atop and SPST.   Drizzle with olive oil if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

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The Fat Bastard, A Breakfast Melody!

My sister Linda spent the weekend with us, and we caught up on all the gossip and happenings  of the past two weeks, since we last had a chance to hang out.  We brought Sunday morning in with a venture of making breakfast together. My sister Hollie had already made a wonderfully hot and soothing, bone warming fire, as we have a wood stove in our home-place house. With the smell of fresh coffee and soft gospel music from the radio already wafting through the house, thanks to Hollie as well, Linda  began slicing serving- -sized portions of Kielbasa to be roasted and patting out cakes of fresh homemade sausage, procured by way of  a guy, lovingly referred to in our area as the "Sausage Man".  Linda also prepared a 'mess' of fried potatoes in our old fashioned cast iron skillet.  My task was the biscuits.  I follow the same routine as usual, and began mixing, cutting, rolling, cutting out and transferring the fluffy rounds of country clouds or "cat head biscuits", as called by some, to my baking sheet. My best guess as to why they are nicknamed so, is because they are larger than the average cutout biscuit, about the same diameter as a cat's head!  It just sounds fun to say!
 Normally this goes on without a hitch, but my girls were in kitchen as well, and wanted to do their part, so I gave Bronwyn the rolling pin, a small piece of dough and a work surface.  Genesis came in and she too wanted to help, and the power struggle for the rolling pin began.  After much bickering and agreeing to disagree, the girls decided to share the seat, and pass the pin back and forth.!  They rolled and rolled, until losing interest and migrating back into the other parts of the house.  When the biscuits were baked, sausage and Kielbasa gently cooked in the oven and the potatoes steaming hot and fragrant with notes of savory onion in tow, the eggs were scrambled and plated.  We opted for loaded biscuits for the sake of cleanup and trying to fit all the 'ole fashioned, 'Sundays of old breakfast' into our designated vessel.  The task was a daunting one, mindful of the surface area and they ability to actually be able to hold it in your hands and eat it with minimal hassle.  I decided to go for it and not worry about actually holding it.  I cheated by using a knife and fork!!  This is definitely not a biscuit for every day, or even every week, but it's mighty good for a special occasion, as is anytime we can get more than 3 sisters in the same place at one time, we splurge!  I took it a step further and added aged Vermont White Cheddar cheese to seal the deal, it was delicious and indulgent, hence the name "Fat Bastard"!  There's no place like home indeed!:)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Red Potatoes Caprese!

This recipe is a combination of two wonderfully simple recipes. The red potatoes and the warm Caprese salad compliment each other well and are tied together with a simple and delicious olive oil and herb infusion.  Boccacini or small mozzarella balls, Italian, which translates into "small mouthfuls", a perfect description, add fresh creaminess to the experience. Bright, juicy grape tomatoes are a match made in heaven for the ornate side dish or vegetarian main course, and the potatoes may be prepared in veggie broth instead of chicken broth or plain salted water.
This dish goes well alongside any protein. I  initially planned to serve the Caprese salad atop a bed of spinach with thinly sliced red onion, with the boiled red potatoes, to serve with a barrage of grill fresh steamed and smoked oysters, crab legs and Kielbasa for an impromptu get together with family.  The day, two Saturdays ago, was gorgeous and  I went to pick up my sister Linda, to enjoy the day filled with heart healthy horseshoes, sharing stories and some friendly rounds of cards, late into the evening. Well, late is overstated, because it lasted til around 11:30 pm, very late by my standard!  As the evening went on, we noshed and nibbled on the spoils of the grill, family style, on the patio as we played cards, and the plating became a non issue, as the potatoes had been forgotten in the kitchen on the stove.
The salad remained as well, so I thought, why not put the two together for a colorful and tasty accompaniment for another meal, the results were super awesome, and my 5 year old Bronwyn loved it too.
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 lb. boccacini
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs, like basil, parsley and oregano
2 tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
2 lbs. small red potatoes
chicken broth
 Place vinegar in a bowl and whisk in about 2 tbsp. of olive oil. SPST
Fold in cheese, tomatoes and herbs until coated evenly. Marinate at room temperature for up to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place potatoes in medium pot and fill to just cover with chicken broth.
 Bring up to a boil and reduce to rolling simmer, cooking until done, about 25 minutes.
Let potatoes cool enough to handle and quarter.  Toss with Caprese salad or place on plate and spoon some of salad atop potatoes.  Place under broiler or briefly in microwave to partially melt cheese.
Serves 6 to 8

Monday, March 18, 2013

Korean BBQ Boneless Chicken Bites!

This is a simple and wonderful recipe showcasing the rich color and flavor of hot pepper paste.  Also known as Gochujang, as it is Korean in origin, this paste is a mainstay in it's cuisine and culture.  Making an appearance in Korea around the late 18th century, after the Europeans introduced chili peppers by way of Japan, hot pepper paste was made in many homes.  The process included powdering the peppers and mixing them with glutinous rice or similar starches, as well as fermented soybeans and salt.  The mixture was then aged in earthen pots in the sunlight to achieve it's savory and deep flavor profile.  Since it's commercialization around the 1970's, Gochujang is hardly made by individuals anymore.  The paste can be  used any way from marinating meats to building flavors for soups and sauces.  The color is a brilliant, almost unbelievable hue that is rich in umami notes and dense heat flavor, that may be toned down or adjusted to fit your personal palate, by using ingredients with some sweetness, like agave nectar, brown sugar, corn or cane syrup.  This recipe uses boneless chicken breast chunks, but feel free to use chicken thigh meat, bone-in whole legs or other chicken pieces and even pork.  I introduced this recipe to my family as appetizers for the SuperBowl and also paired them with sauteed broccoli slaw with snow peas, spiked with garlic, fish sauce and seasoned rice vinegar, for a well balanced and amazing meal. This meal went over well with the beer for the sports fans, and appealed to the crowd with a moderate heat index.  You will definitely serve this recipe again, once you try it!
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken or pork meat, cut into about 1 inch pieces
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c. potato starch
1/4 c. rice flour
oil for frying
For sauce:
3 cloves pressed or finely minced
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1/3 c. hot pepper paste
1/2 c. good quality ketchup
1/2 c. corn syrup
In a large bowl, combine chicken, egg, salt, pepper, potato starch and rice flour.  With rubber spatula or hands, mix until well and evenly coated.  Set aside while oil heats.
Bring oil to 375* and fry chicken in small batches, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes per batch, drain on paper towels, keeping warm in oven until completion.
Once chicken is finished, drizzle pan over medium high heat with olive oil.
Once hot, add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add fish sauce, paste, ketchup and corn syrup.
Cook, stirring constantly for about 1 more minute and add chicken pieces tossing and folding with a rubber spatula  to coat.
Transfer to serving dish.  Garnish with sesame seeds if desired or fresh herbs. Pair with rice, sauteed veggies or as is for appetizers.
Serves 6 to 8.