Saturday, July 14, 2018

Egg and Breadcrumb Fried Squash Blossoms

I made my first fried squash blossoms this summer and they were delicious.  I wanted to test my culinary mettle, so I set out to create this recipe without doing any research.  This was my second batch of fresh, ready-to-use blossoms, but the first ones perished before I had a chance to use them. Admittedly, I forgot them in the bottom of my grocery bag for 2 days, don't tell my sister! 
 My sister Bonnie plucked them fresh from her zucchini plants, one growing on the porch in a large flower pot, the leaves as big as an elephant's ear, figuratively of course, and the others in the garden plot, many, many yards away.
The flavor of the blossoms was uniquely of squash, and also, in my opinion, with hints of oyster.
I found the blossoms very delicate and sensitive to their environment once plucked, so it is advisable that you execute your recipe in a timely fashion.
I soaked them in warm water (just before cooking) to keep them plump and rid them of their little buddies, ants.  I then drained them on paper towels and within about 10 minutes, we were eating something old,but new, in a delicious and most satisfying way!
12 squash blossoms
1 large egg
1 tbsp. Italian breadcrumbs
2 tsp. heavy cream
oil for frying
After soaking the blossoms in warm water to rid of any critters, rinse gently and place on paper towels to dry.
Meanwhile, prepare the egg wash coating.
Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well with a fork or whisk.
Heat oil to 350*F.
Dredge blossoms well in egg wash and drop oil one at a time.
Remove when golden, about 2 minutes, draining on paper towels.
Serve immediately, but are also good at room temperature.
Makes 12.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Smoky Brisket Mayonnaise

For the 4th of July, I prepared a smoked brisket. I used a combination of open roasting in the oven, then charcoal, hickory and walnut on the grill, using indirect heat, for the better part of a day.   As a result, I had a great deal of rendered beef fat to either find a use for, or dispose of.  I like to keep some of the brisket fat to enhance the flavors of other proteins and dishes, it's smoky and beefy flavor, ever present.
I created this mayonnaise using a portion of the brisket oil.  With the right vessel and an immersion blender, you can literally make this recipe in as little as 20 seconds active time, gathering the ingredients will take another few, still less than 5 minutes.  Instead of lemon juice, I used lime and also swapped out regular cider vinegar, for organic raw vinegar. 
This recipe is great for dressing sandwiches and other places you want a rich and delicious tasting condiment!
1 c. canola oil or vegetable oil
1/4 c. rendered brisket fat, cooled and at room temperature*
This oil has been allowed to sit and settle into a slightly tinted clear state.
1 large egg
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. raw organic vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
Place all the ingredients from the egg down in a clear vessel with high sides, I used a plastic 2 cup capacity measuring cup.
Add the oils after the other ingredients.
Insert immersion blender to the bottom of the vessel and blend on high until mayonnaise is set, less than 30 seconds.
Transfer to a jar with lid or to a bowl, your mayonnaise is ready to use.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Turkey Bacon Ranch Burgers w/ Pepper Jack, Guac and Cheesy Tortilla Chips

It's burger time and the more, the merrier!  Burgers can be made from just about anything; beef, chicken, pork, garbanzo beans, black beans, the list goes on.  This recipe features ground turkey.
Turkey is an awesome alternative to the usuals, especially considering that summertime can consist of  a gaggle of burger meals and gatherings.
This recipe can be prepped the night before for a sensual marrying of flavors.  This is also great for making the ground turkey easier to handle.  If you don't have that kind of time, no worries, just place in the fridge or freezer for about 20 minutes.  You can also place the mixing bowl in the fridge or freezer earlier in the day and pull out when ready to use.
I  used the salad dressing packet for Ranch as one of the flavor components.  I also used cooked bacon for texture and to give the burgers smoky body.  The Pepper Jack cheese adds the wondrous meltiness, and that spicy kick.
Cool and refreshing homemade guacamole offers more healthy fats, fresh tanginess, flavor and creaminess, tying the cheesy tortilla chips in with it.  The crunch of the chips is a perfect counter what the guacamole lacks.
The family received the dish well, as did I.  Give your dinner guests something they can't wait to get home and serve to their future guests!  Just a kiss with some grill flame really sends these burgers over the top, Enjoy!
3 lb. ground turkey
3 oz. cooked and crumbled bacon
1 pkg. Ranch salad dressing seasoning
2 tsp. onion powder
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
Olive oil for drizzling (Extra Virgin)
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Pepper Jack Cheese
Place ground turkey in a medium mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
Drizzle in a few turns of the bowl of olive oil, about 1 tbsp.
Carefully mix the ingredients together trying not to overwork, while evenly distributing spices.
Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  If allowing flavors to marry for an extended time, cover tightly with plastic wrap.
When ready top use, Shape into patties, making them into sliders or desired size to fit buns.  I made them into 12 patties.
Spray surface or grill with non stick spray and evenly space burgers.
Cook until internal temperature reaches 165*F, about 4 minutes per side, depending on heat of grill pan or charcoal grill.

For Guacamole:
2 avocados, halved and placed in medium bowl
2 tbsp. diced red onion
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp.  Mexican Green Salsa seasoning
Juice of 2 limes

Use your favorite cheesy tortilla chips as the base of this delicious and satisfying burger!


Friday, June 29, 2018

Let's Go Nuts!!!

Just a picture I arranged and shot one day using my Saveur Magazine's latest edition as the backdrop. 
This magazine is a GEM by the way!  I've been a loyal subscriber for years!
I am very fond of this picture and wanted to share it with you.  Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Peanuts and Hazelnuts nuts are represented in this photo.  Pecans come with the gang too, but I had eaten them all.:) They are a part of Planter's NUTrition mixed nut combinations.  They are rich in antioxidants and good fats, promoting heart and overall health. I just wanted to let you know.   Have a safe and pleasant holiday weekend and thanks for reading my thoughts.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Pizza Pasta Bake

Pasta bakes are one of my family's favorite meals.  When I am unsure about a dinner idea, ole trusty pasta bakes see me through.  I keep various types of pasta on hand, plus spaghetti and cream sauces stocked at all times.  Recently there was a sale on a Mozzarella cheese sauce, Alfredos, pastas and hearty spaghetti sauces.   This recipe is a result of that sale.
 In all fairness, I can make my own 'gravy' and cream sauces which I enjoy, but sometimes time is not on our side and speedier backups are in order.  The fact that some family came by was the other determinate in this menu as well.
I had some fresh packaged Mozzarella Ravioli on hand and thought it would be awesome to double down on the cheesiness and add them as the top layer of the pasta bake.  The bottom layer consists of a mushroom spiked, saucy and beefy combination.  The pepperoni on the top and the fennel seeds lend the pizza like effect and adds to the overall decidedly Italian ingredient call that is this recipe.
 I rounded the meal off with some toasted cheesy garlic bread and gourmet/mixed green salad.  Steamed broccoli came along for the ride.  The kids were happy, the guests were too.  That makes me happy.  I guess it's the little things that make the world go around and I enjoy making folks smile, one recipe at a time!

1 lb. pkg. mezze penne 
1 family sized pkg. fresh Ravioli with Mozzarella
1 23 oz. jar spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
1 16 oz. jar of Mozzarella Cheese sauce
2 lbs. ground beef
2 tsp. powdered beef base, optional
2 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. fennel seeds
sugar the taste, optional
Pinch of Herbs de Provence* (one of  my current obsessions)
Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375*F.
Cook the mezze penne according to package instructions in salted water, to just under al dente, about 6 minutes, remove from pasta water and reserve the pot of water to cook the ravioli.
Cook the ravioli and remove from water, drain and drizzle with olive oil.  Set aside.
Meanwhile, drizzle large saute pan with olive oil over medium high and add onions.
Cook until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 4 minutes and add the garlic.
Add ground beef and beef base and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Drain excess fat off beef and add spaghetti sauce and pinch of sugar and *HdP.
Reduce heat to medium, stirring often for several minutes.
Combine penne and meat sauce.
In a large oven safe baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and pour in penne with meat sauce.
Arrange ravioli over the penne, covering it completely, overlapping if necessary.
Pour Mozzarella sauce over the ravioli and spread evenly as possible from end to end.
Arrange pepperoni at intervals over top and cover tightly with foil.
Bake until bubbly and contents are heated through, about 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand before serving.
Serves Plenty with seconds or leftovers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Raspberry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Jams, preserves and jellies are perfect flavor builders for lush and delicious sauces to coat your favorite proteins, especially during these grill laden, late spring and summer months.  I found this exceptional fruit spread at Walmart flavored with raspberry and chipotle.
I love the idea of sweet and hot on my proteins and thought it would serve me well as a finishing glaze for some spare ribs I had dry rubbed and roasted.  This recipe was a hit with the family and I can't wait to grill again! Roasting is awesome too!
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. raspberry chipotle fruit spread
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
Splash of fish sauce, optional
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of liquid smoke, optional
1/2 tsp. onion powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit your Taste)
Place all items in a small saucepan and bring up to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for several minutes.
Remove from heat.
Brush favorite protein with sauce during the last minutes of cooking process. Brush with several layers for maximum flavor.
Makes 1 cup.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Dedication: Anthony Bourdain

This is a simple dedication to one of the most renown individuals in the culinary world.  Kitchen Confidential was intriguing and eye opening, much like Upton  Sinclair's: The Jungle. "Parts Unknown"  is my favorite show. His voice is perfect for orating and his flare for writing is admirable.  My condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.  We've never met, but I feel I've gotten to know you through your work.  We are but flowers, and this one was picked way too soon.  So long dear friend (in my head).