Thursday, May 30, 2019

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad with Marinated Grilled Drumsticks

The first thing I noticed when I awoke Memorial Day was the silence. There was no traffic noise with neighbors leaving for work, no lawn mowers, no barking dogs, just quiet. Nice! I knew that our nearby downtown area was already teeming with tourists.

We had previously decided we were going to break out our grill for the season. And we decided we were going to grill chicken and vegetables. The day remained relatively quiet. I guess our neighbors had left town for the holiday weekend, while thousands of tourists were pouring in.

Pritchard Parker did the grocery shopping. He chose chicken legs and marinated them overnight in olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, paprika, and salt and pepper. They were outstanding! He also bought the vegetables I wanted--corn, zucchini, onions, red bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, limes, and parsley.

We don't have a fancy, modern grill that involves turning a knob. We have an old school charcoal grill. While Pritchard Parker was getting the fire ready, I prepped the vegetables. While they cooked, I put on the pasta and made a dressing. While the chicken was cooking, I finished the salad, and we were ready to eat.


Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
8 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
3 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut in half
3 ears sweet corn, husks removed
2 Vidalia onions, cut in half horizontally, stems left in place
1 whole head of garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, membranes removed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Juice of 2 limes (approx. 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

Rub the zucchini, bell pepper, corn, onion, and jalapeno peppers with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slice the top off the garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in aluminum foil. Grill vegetables until tender and slightly charred.

Cut grilled vegetables into bite-sized pieces and combine with pasta. Squeeze in whole garlic cloves.
Sprinkle liberally with parsley.

Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and maple syrup. Pour over salad and toss to combine, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Homemade Old-Fashioned Southern Caramel Frosting

THERE IS A GROUP OF SOUTHERN LADIES, of a certain age, I make a luncheon for every couple of months.  These are the deep south bless-her-heart, yes-mam-no-sir, tea-is-always-sweet, set-a-proper-table, use-your-best-manners, go-to-church-on-Sunday Southern ladies.

I love cooking for them. One reason they are such a joy to cook for is that I don't have to wade through a list of dietary restrictions--low carb, paleo, whole 30, gluten free, clean, vegan, keto, raw, sugar free, nut free, plant based, etc. They are from the "eat what is served and be thankful for it" era. I am free to choose my own menus and I always try to cook things that are delicious, interesting, and provoke memories and discussions.

Recently, I made a cake with an old-fashioned, cooked, caramel icing. They swooned.

This icing has several steps and does take time stirring, mixing, cooking, and caramelizing, Plan to spend some time in the kitchen, and enjoy! It is a true labor of love.

Homemade Caramel Frosting
(Southern Living)
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar in a shallow, heavy 3 1/2 quart Dutch oven; cook over medium heat stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until sugar is melted and syrup is light golden brown. (Sugar may clump). Remove from heat.

Stir together 1 Tbsp. flour and 2 1/2 cups sugar in a large saucepan; add milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat., stirring constantly.

Gradually pour about one fourth hot milk mixture into caramelized sugar, stirring constantly; gradually stir in remaining hot milk mixture until smooth. (Mixture may lump, but continue stirring until smooth).

Cover and cook over low heat about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium; uncover and cook, without stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 238 degrees (soft ball stage) about 10 minutes. Add butter, stirring until blended. Remove from heat and let stand, without stirring, until temperature drops to 110 degrees (about 1 hour).

Pour into bowl of heavy duty electric stand mixer. Add vanilla and beat at medium speed (setting 4) with whisk attachment until spreading consistency, about 20 minutes.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Chop Suey

 THERE ARE MANY VARIATIONS OF Chinese-American Chop Suey. At first, I didn't feel sure about even calling this stir-fry meal Chop Suey. One glimpse at Google Images, and all the variations, gave me the confidence to go ahead and all it Chop Suey. After all it is not even a traditional Chinese dish at all but rather one invented in California, out of necessity, by a Chinese-American Chef.

Any protein (or none) can be used--chicken, beef, pork, tofu. I had a couple of thick cut pork chops in the freezer, so I used those. Any vegetables can also be used. I used onion, garlic, celery, carrot, red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, water chestnuts, and bok choy. Bamboo shoots, broccoli, and bean sprouts would also be delicious.

Most times, when I make a stir-fry, I serve it with rice. This time I wanted to use noodles. The noodles we used were called "Chinese Noodles" and we found them in the Asian section of our grocery store. Any noodles can be used--udon, soba, rice noodles, cellophane, or even vermicelli.

The recipe I am giving is enough to serve 6 people. Since we are a family of 3, I divided the ingredients and cooked it fresh 2 times, rather than making the whole recipe and having leftovers. Stir-fry wants to be served fresh.

Chop Suey
8 ounces pork, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced on a diagonal
1 cup carrots, sliced on a diagonal
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 (8oz.) can sliced water chestnuts
1 large bunch bok choy, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger (to taste)

6 ounces Chinese noodles, cooked according to package directions

Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat, in a wok or large skillet. Add the pork; cook, stirring until the pork begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove meat from the wok and set aside. If needed, add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet.

Begin adding the vegetables to the skillet, cooking and stirring after each addition. While cooking the vegetables, mix the sauce ingredients in a 1 cup measure, adding water up to the 1 cup mark. Stir until thoroughly dissolved. Cook noodles according to package directions. (Our noodles cooked in 2 minutes).

When the vegetables are to your liking, add the meat back to the wok and stir. Add the sauce, stirring for about a minute until beginning to thicken. Stir in the cooked noodles.

Serve piping hot and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Fork Tender Oven Braised Corned Beef

THE TRADITIONAL ST. PATRICK'S DAY Corned Beef and Cabbage is my husband's favorite meal of the year! This year I took a different approach. Since the day was on a Sunday this year, my thoughts turned to brunch and home fries. I had made Irish Soda Bread, which we had toasted and smeared with sweet Irish butter.

Rather than Mimosas, we made Black Velvet Cocktails. I recently learned of this libation from the excellent blog, Kitchen Riffs. It is made from Guinness stout and Champagne. Very different, delicious, and celebratory. Thanks, John.

I also cooked the corned beef differently than my usual. I normally braise it on the stove top or on working days, the crock pot. This year, I oven braised it in beer--I used Guinness Stout, because I had it on hand. Use any beer you like. The brisket was moist, juicy, and so very tender. I'm pretty sure I will always cook it this way.

Oven Braised Corned Beef in Beer
4 lb. flat cut corned beef
12 ounce bottle beer
Water as needed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Open corned beef in your clean sink. Save the spice packet. Rinse the brisket and pat dry with paper towels. Dispose of the liquid from the package. Trim off any excess fat.

Place the corned beef into a large, heavy Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, fat side up. Sprinkle with spices from the packet. Add the beer. Use water, if needed, to bring the liquid barely to the top of the corned beef.

Cover and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven to 300 degrees and continue cooking for another 2 1/2 hours.

If desired, add vegetables about 1 hour before the end of cooking time.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tempeh Bolognese

IT IS VERY RARE NOT TO FEEL JOY, when I walk into the kitchen to cook. Even if I am feeling a bit on the grumpy side, once I begin assembling ingredients and getting out my pans, a contentment washes over me. The old Southern ladies I grew up around, used to say, "If you are feeling down in the dumps, go into the kitchen and bake a cake". I feel especially happy when baking.

I also love to make our day-to-day meals and I love eating homemade food. We recently went out of town two weekends in a row. After eating in restaurants so much, I couldn't wait to get into the kitchen. I enjoy making everything from scratch and taking time to appreciate the experience.

I prioritize making dinners from scratch using fresh, whole, ingredients. This Tempeh Bolognese fit the bill. It was delicious and we loved it!

Tempeh Bolognese
1 (8 oz.) package tempeh, crumbled
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 - 2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup red wine
28 oz. can whole Roma tomatoes, crushed by hand
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned.

Add garlic, onion, carrots, celery, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Cook and stir about 5 minutes. Add wine and stir until well combined.

Add tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, over low heat for one hour, adding a little liquid (wine, broth, or water) if needed. Stir in parsley. Serve over pasta of your choice. Top with grated Parmesan, if desired.