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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Berried Treasure

You know, we're supposed to eat more of those wonderful antioxidant-filled berries. Nutrition experts agree and I for one, will bravely take action for the cause.  Even though it is healthier to eat them Au naturale, it has been a while since I sent treats to work with Dear Husband. As a plus, today was a cool, rainy late summer day...perfect for baking.  First, we get all our ingredients to come to the party, as usual...


From bottom left; butter, baking powder, salt, flour, sugar, milk, blueberries and eggs. Immediately after this picture, the butter went back into the fridge, and the blueberries back into the freezer.  It is important with most baking, to keep your ingredients cold.  Then, we mix all the dry ingredients...


And add the butter, cut into small pieces...


I am sure you are familiar with the baking term of "cutting" the butter into the flour. Here's my pastry blender doing just that...until pea-sized. One can also use two butter knives in lieu of a pastry blender...



Now, we beat together the eggs and milk...



Then, pour into the dry mixture...


Mix well, until you have a sticky dough...


Turn out onto a floured surface...


Then, knead in your blueberries...


Now, form the dough into two circles, approximately eight inches in diameter...


And using whatever is convienient, cut into wedges. I used a pie server...



Place on non-stick baking sheets, or line with parchment paper for easy clean up, and bake at 375 until the tops have turned golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes...


Remove to a rack to cool completely...


Scones are not super sweet, so to add a little sweetness and lemon flavor as a nice counterpart to the blueberries, I made a glaze with powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice, and a little half and half.


When the scones were completely cool, I drizzled a little of the glaze over the top, and added lemon zest for a touch more color and flavor. The results?


Chock full of blueberry goodness! What I liked best was that the scone itself is rich and buttery tasting, without actually having a ton of butter in the recipe.  Go here for the recipe I used. With a nice hot cup of tea, my breakfast was delicious, and I will send the rest off with Dear Husband...mainly because I'd like to stay  Pixie-sized!

What did Kitchen Angel think?  Well, 'tis the season for State fairs and festivals, and, well....let me just say, she had no problem getting into the "spirit" of things. 


What is your favorite fair or festival at this time of year?

Eat well, my friends and stay tuned, because making these scones has put me in the mood for a proper British high tea!  Love and kindness to all,

Pixie




Monday, August 22, 2011

Patty Cake, Patty Cake

As you know, I abhor wasting food. Sometimes, however, there is only a tiny bit of something left. What does one DO with that? Well, I found at least one answer recently, when I was left with the remaining smoked salmon from a tin that I had partially used the other day. A seriously tiny bit of salmon....see?


Well, first I flaked the salmon with a fork into a bowl....


Then, added the vegetation; finely chopped bell pepper, celery and green onion...


Now, we add some crunchy Panko Japanese breadcrumbs, an egg, some lemon rind, Old Bay seasoning, salt, pepper and dill. Mix until blended.


Form the mixture into patties, place on parchment paper, and refrigerate while you make the dip...


The dip is as simple as can be! Mix store-bought mayonnaise with a pressed or finely minced clove of garlic, some lemon rind and juice, some Old Bay seasoning, salt, pepper, and a little more dill.



Now, heat a little butter and plain vegetable oil in your non-stick skillet, about medium heat, and begin to cook the salmon patties...


About six minutes a side....or until they have achieved GB and D status (Golden Brown and Delicious). Here are mine after the flip.


Now, place them on a paper towel for just a minute or two, to cool, remove any leftover oil, and plate to enjoy. The results...?


Thrift-tastic! Thrift-tacular! Oh, um, I mean that they were elegant, delicious, crispy on the outside and tender and wonderful on the inside. The vegetables were done enough to not be too crunchy, the dill and Old Bay seasoning came through, but not enough to drown the salmon taste out. Just wonderful! 

I feel especially thrilled that in a world where there are people who are without adequate food and water, that I made good use of something that others might consider only a few Tablespoons of food. Turning that small amount of product into a delightful, elegant and tasty salmon patty is what it's all about, for me. 

What thrifty use-up meal is your specialty?

Eat well, my friends...Kitchen Angel and I are working on the scones, AND her next visit!
Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

Friday, August 19, 2011

Such a Pill

As you know, I don't DO breakfast...for the most part. I find traditional breakfast foods to be heavy, overly sweet, and generally not good for you. I really do not buy into that whole "most important meal of the day" stuff, as I firmly believe that physiologically speaking, our bodies are busy trying to eliminate waste from the prior day, and feel light and energetic for the day ahead. So, you can imagine my recent consternation when, due to a medication I had to take for a dental issue, I was told I MUST take it with food.....four, count 'em FOUR times per day. What to do? Another omelet (with the things I enjoy) was the obvious answer.

Additionally, this day was my coupon-clipping-grocery-store-shopping, get-all-the-bargains day ~ so I knew being hungry later was NOT going to bode well for the snack aisle.  Plus, my garden was being it's lovely productive self, and giving me a bounty that I had pledged early on not to waste. Looks like all three issues (medication/shopping/bounty), have told me what I should do. So....on to the assembly...


Clockwise from upper left; a tablespoon of butter, a chopped clove of garlic, salt & pepper. Diced bacon, salsa, beaten eggs (2), a tablespoon of vegetable oil, zuchinni, green beans, broccoli, tomato, shredded sharp white cheddar, red onion, a wedge of lemon.

First, saute' your bacon with the red onion, just until the fat has rendered, the bacon is crisp, and the onion has begun to soften, like so. Drain the bacon fat, set aside to cool, and wipe out the skillet with paper towels.


Then, add one half of the tablespoon of butter, the tablespoon of oil, the garlic, salt and pepper, and all your veggies.


Saute' until the vegetables are crisp-tender, and have not lost their texture and color.


Squeeze that lemon wedge over the top of the vegetables, mix in the bacon-onion mixture, and set aside to cool...preferably on a cheerful, sunny plate...that reminds you that you are going to have a great day!


Now, wipe out the skillet again, and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter to it. Pour the beaten egg into the bottom, make sure the heat is on medium low and.....you guessed it, DON'T TOUCH IT! Let it set. In fact, sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper. Season every layer of your dish.  When you can slip a spatula under the edge like so....it is ready to fill..


Add your sauteed vegetable, bacon and onion mixture...staying ever so slightly to one side...


Then, pile on the cheese and salsa ~ ole!


Take your spatula (and yes, a deep breath), and flip the unfilled side over the top of the filling...


Now, carefully slide on to your serving plate, garnish with more shredded cheese, salsa, and chopped parsley....



A side view? For sure!


I feel as though I have fulfilled more than one mission here. I ate so that I could take the medication, I used produce from my garden so that I did not waste, and ensured that I would not suffer the dreaded "hungry while food shopping" issue! Oh, and it was delicious, too. :)

What did you do recently that accomplished more than one goal at a time?

Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for a scone-tacular baking fest, and a visit from Kitchen Angel!  Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bean there, done that...

I so admire the people, culture and cuisine of that great city of New Orleans. Especially for being the adopted home of one of my culinary heroes, Emeril Lagasse.  Recently, one of their famous, traditional dishes became my Monday supper.  It was a heavier wash day than normal for us here in Pixie-land, and I decided that I would celebrate what domestic goddesses did back in the day, on wash-day Mondays ~ Red Beans and rice!  The story is, that during the (at the time) long day of washing, hanging and ironing clothing, these wonderful women would simmer the red beans with various additions low and slow, all day long. This freed them up to do the laundry, while ensuring a tasty, nutritious, and inexpensive supper.

I turned once again to Emeril, and his great recipe for the dish, go here if you'd like it. A bit of forethought is required, so I began by soaking the red beans in water on Sunday night (especially after taking a look at how much washing there was to do!).


This is how they looked by Monday, mid-morning. Plumping up nicely...


Then, we begin the dish - by of course getting all our ingredients ready.  Once again, this is the hardest part of the whole meal! Simply assemble, saute' a few times, and cook slowly for hours...this would be great in the slow cooker all day as well.


Clockwise from bottom left we have; the soaked and drained beans, on the plate we have cayenne pepper, garlic, bay leaf, salt and thyme (not shown; freshly grated black pepper), vegetable oil, chopped onion, bell pepper and celery, and last but not least, diced sausage and ham.

Now we cook! Saute' the bell pepper, onion and celery in the vegetable oil with the cayenne, salt and pepper, and thyme for about 5 minutes, just until softened slightly.



Then, add your bay leaf, ham and sausage, and saute' that for five minutes as well.


Now, add the soaked and drained beans,  the garlic, enough water to cover it all, put a lid on it, and simmer on low for two hours. GO DO SOME LAUNDRY! Hahahaha... Here's mine beginning the simmer..


After two hours (add more water as necessary) this is what it will look like...


Then, take a wooden spoon, or a potato masher (much quicker) and mash half the beans. This step will ensure a creamy, thickened final dish.  Here's mine during the mashing...


Put the lid back on, and simmer on low for another hour and a half. You DID have some things to iron, remember? :) Oh, and trot out to your garden for some fresh, flat-leaved Italian parsley and/or raid your refrigerator for that, and some green onions for garnishing the dish....



The results? Well, considering that this is a dish of very humble origins, is made with incredibly cheap, nutritious products, I was stunned! Stunned at the depth of flavor, the creamy texture, and the steamed Basmati rice underneath was the perfect vehicle to support this lovely dish. See for yourself..


Amazing, really. Thank you Emeril for this recipe, thank you to the City of New Orleans, and the surrounding areas for your courage in the face of adversity after Hurricane Katrina, for your traditions, for your warm, sugar-dusted beignets (oops, that's another post), your delicious chicory-enhanced coffee, your wonderful seafood. I'm going on and on again.....what did Kitchen Angel think?


Should I tell her that Mardi-Gras is already over for this year? Nah, she'll find out later.....

Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for a garden update.......and.....SCONES! That's right, I'm going to bake....in the summer....(a clear sign that I have, in fact, gone right round the bend, actually).

Love and kindness to all,

                                                                          Pixie

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Attack of the Rubber Chicken! The finale....

As you know from the soon-to-be famous rubber chicken posts (go here for the beginning), I have one, count 'em ONE chicken breast left to use up to complete my goal of three meals, a snack and stock from the one bird. Here is what I did.

Recently, although it IS in fact, summer...I longed for soup.  Many in my family are this way as well ~ we can eat soup throughout the year. I suppose it is that we descend from a long line of Portuguese fishermen (and women, ahem), and peasant food is serious soul food. 

While perusing one of my 8 gazillion many cooking periodicals and books, I came across a recipe for Thai Chicken Soup in the Food Network magazine. Go here to print ye a copy.

As per usual, let's assemble all the goodies ahead of time, so our cooking is a labor of love, not a rushed or stressful time...



We have; coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste, rice noodles, a lime, the diced up chicken breast, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and a thinly sliced red bell pepper. The hard part is done! Notice how I lined my cutting board with wax paper, to avoid any contamination from any uncooked chicken.  Let's go!

First, get a nice 2-quart saucepan, and heat some plain vegetable oil in it (not pictured), and begin to saute' your onions...


Saute' until you get them beginning to caramelize, and turn a nice golden brown...like this;


That will take a good ten to fifteen minutes, to properly soften and get nicely browned. Do that step on medium-low heat, you do not want bitter, burnt onions here.  Then, add a few chunks of your curry paste and the garlic..


Saute' for about five more minutes, until the curry paste is blended in nicely, like this....


Then, add in the coconut milk and water or chicken broth. I use a couple teaspoons of chicken base (not pictured) with the water...




Now, bring it to a boil, and add in your diced chicken breast.....



Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 10 minutes, just until the chicken is cooked through, and has begun to lend its flavor to the soup. Now, add the bell pepper strips and rice noodles, stir, and simmer for another ten minutes...



Now, just before serving, throw the cilantro in there, squeeze a little fresh lime juice too, dish it up, and enjoy!  Although I am a self-confessed soup nut, I must say that this one is so amazing that it is addictive!  In fact, I admit that when I am making this for myself, and there is nothing left in the pan but broth, I have added more rice noodles, more bell pepper, garlic and cilantro....and enjoyed rounds two, three, and OH I'VE SAID TOO MUCH!  Gee, I don't know why I'm not hungry when Dear Husband comes home from work....yikes. This was probably my seventh time making it! And of course, the Attack of the Rubber chicken! was a resounding success! Three meals, a snack, and chicken stock from our wonderful, versatile bird.  Have a look at the bowl o' Thai goodness..



Stay tuned for a trip down to the Big Easy (foodie-wise, of course), and another visit from Kitchen Angel!  Love and kindness to all,

Pixie