Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Leahs Coconut Jerked Shrimp


Now if you haven’t yet made your own coconut shrimp, this recipe couldn’t be easier. I adore coconut shrimp, and since it is so easy to make at home, I can save my money on something else with the way prices are soring these days from everything like eggs to gas. This is great to make as a party appetizer as well!

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 shrimp per person- deveined, cleaned, shells removed, tails intact
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 good shakes of red chili peppers
  • 2-3 tablespoons jerk seasonings
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked tri-colored pepper
  • 1/4 to1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 cups of shredded coconut, spread out in shallow pan
  • Vegetable oil to fry shrimp in
  • wax paper and plate or plater that can go into freezer
  • paper towels for draining shrimp after cooking
  • Fresh lemon wedges to serve with shrimp
  • Dipping sauce of your choosing – I used my ‘Best Homemade Tartar Sauce’ (already posted)

Directions:
  1. After cleaning shrimp, drain and place on paper towels to pat shrimp dry.
  2. In Bowl, put all other ingredients except coconut to make batter, With whisk, stir till all well combined. Let sit for five minutes so ingredients can ‘get to know’ one another. If batter is too thick, you may add more water to thin it out, it should be less thick than pancake batter, yet not thin like crepe batter.
  3. Line your plate or platter that will go into freezer with wax paper and place next to bowl with coconut.
  4. Dip shrimp holding to tail into batter, let excess drip off, then place battered shrimp into coconut. Flip over once, so that coconut has coated shrimp. Use fingers to gently throw coconut onto batter on shrimp to coat.
  5. Next place shrimp onto waxed paper. Continue with all other shrimp.
  6. Once compete, place coated shrimp that is sitting on platter with wax paper into freezer to ‘set up’ for one hour or more.
  7. I used my wok to fry the shrimp since it would allow me to fry six at a time – have at least 1/2 inch of oil.
  8. Heat up oil to 350 degrees – or to test if oil is hot enough, place a small cube of bread in, and see that it browns quickly.
  9. Cooking times may vary depending upon size of shrimp you are using.
  10. So add shrimp carefully to hot oil, and let cook for about 4 minutes on each side depending upon the size of your shrimp – the shrimp I cooked were the colossal sized ones and extra huge, so you may want to adjust the time accordingly.
  11. Once each shrimp is done, using tongs or slotted spoon, take out of hot oil, let drain a bit and then place on paper towels on a plate to further drain.
  12. Serve your shrimp up with fresh lemon wedges and your dipping sauces could be anything from a mustard apricot jam concoction, to my tarter sauce (already posted) which is what I did. This dish I served last night also includes with Notyourmomma’s Garlic French Fries with added rosemary and Leah’s French Fried Onion Circles (just posted) as photo shows.

Best Homemade Crazy for Chocolate Souffle Is Super Easy to Make

Crazy for chocolate? Then get in line for this dessert to come out of your own oven! This is a great easy to make version of a vanilla soufflé.

If you like great desserts, this is one to try for your next party or for when you are craving your chocolate but bad!









Ingredients
:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 eggs separated (separate when cold, much easier to do when eggs are cold)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter to stabilize egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Well pre-heated oven at 425 with oven rack placed low in oven (not on the lowest, but not in the middle either)
  • 1 UN-greased casserole dish 1-1/2 quarts size
  • 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate

Directions:
  1. Note: you can bake this at two different oven temperatures...
  2. If you want a soufflé that is evenly moist, then bake it at 325 for 50-60 minutes.
  3. If you want a soufflé that has a thicker crust and a soft moist interior, then the quick baking method is for you: bake your soufflé at 425 for 25 minutes.
  4. The above baking techniques work for all fruit soufflés that I post.
  5. In a saucepan on top of stove on medium low heat, combine flour, sugar, salt, chocolate and stir in milk a little at a time.
  6. Cook stirring constantly with a whisk until the entire mixture is smooth and thick.
  7. Beat egg yolks under mixer until thick and yellow. Gently fold into cooked mixture and allow to cool on counter.
  8. While that is cooling, start on your egg whites.
  9. Wash out your mixing bowl really well and beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add extracts and cream of tartar.
  10. Fold one half of the beaten egg whites into the cooled down cooked mixture to lighten up the 'batter', then add remaining egg whites and gently fold in.
  11. Pour into un-greased casserole dish and put into preheated oven at your chosen temperature.
  12. Try not to peak and open up your oven, as this can upset the soufflé from rising. Let it do its thing, I know patience is a virtue and a really good soufflé.
  13. Once baked, bring to table at once and serve it up with a soft dollop of whipped cream - to go extra fancy, add a little of a chocolate flavored liquor to your homemade whipped cream as flavoring) and add a fresh spring of mint on the serving for that "Martha look" or a squirt of your favorite chocolate syrup.
  14. Sprinkle and sift a little of confectioners sugar on top and voila.
  15. And as I mentioned above in the description, you can do all the preparing, and throw your soufflé into the oven when you are sitting down to eat your dinner. By the time you have finished dinner and you are making coffee, your dessert will be ready to eat!
  16. Photo credit belongs to gastronomicaljourney.wordpress.com (though I edited and brightened it), but recipe is 100% Divaliscious!

Best Homemade Outrageous Orange Souffle Recipe From Scratch

Want to impress them with a fruit soufflé? You can easily make this in a casserole versus in individual dishes. I show you tricks for 2 types of soufflés, this is an easier dessert to make than most people think. So go ahead, impress someone you love today, easily! You can prepare the soufflé then throw this in the oven when you are sitting down to dinner. By the time you are ready to serve coffee, your dessert is ready.

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed certainly the best for fresh flavor)
  • 4 eggs separated (separate when cold, much easier to do when eggs are cold)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter to stabilize egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange rind
  • Well pre-heated oven at 425 with oven rack placed low in oven (not on the lowest, but not in the middle either)
  • 1 UN-greased casserole dish 1-1/2 quarts size

Directions:
  1. Note: you can bake this at two different oven temperatures...
  2. If you want a soufflé that is evenly moist, then bake it at 325 for 50-60 minutes.
  3. If you want a soufflé that has a thicker crust and a soft moist interior, then the quick baking method is for you: bake your soufflé at 425 for 25 minutes.
  4. The above baking techniques work for all fruit soufflés that I post.
  5. In a saucepan on top of stove on medium low heat, combine flour, sugar, salt and stir in orange juice a little at a time.
  6. Cook stirring constantly until the entire mixture is smooth and thick.
  7. Beat egg yolks under mixer until thick and yellow. Gently fold into cooked mixture and allow to cool on counter.
  8. While that is cooling, add orange zest and stir.
  9. Wash out your mixing bowl really well and beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add extracts and cream of tartar.
  10. Fold one half of the beaten egg whites into the cooled down cooked mixture to lighten up the 'batter', then add remaining egg whites and gently fold in.
  11. Pour into un-greased casserole dish and put into preheated oven at your chosen temperature.
  12. Try not to peak as this can upset the soufflé from rising. Let it do its thing.
  13. Once baked, bring to table at once and serve it up with a soft dollop of whipped cream - to go extra fancy, add a little of cointreau (orange flavored liquor to your homemade whipped cream as flavoring) and add a fresh spring of mint on the serving for that "Martha look".
  14. And as I mentioned above in the description, you can do all the preparing, and throw your soufflé into the oven when you are sitting down to eat your dinner. By the time you have finished dinner and you are making coffee, your dessert will be ready to eat!
Ah, the wonders of a dessert soufflé are super easy. Once you attempt this dessert, it will easily become a part of your arsenal in your dessert recipes. The warm fresh orange juice baked into this light and airy soufflé really help to impress your family and friends and your next dinner party!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Strawberry Whip Sensation


Now most of you know by now, that I am a from scratch homemade, 'just out of your garden' kind of cook and baker, but this recipe I tried the other day from a foodie pal I know as 'Shirley Oma' and was hooked from the start. She found it on a website and shared it with me, so I in turn am sharing it with you. I wish I could tell you where the recipe came from, but alas, we do not know.

I was surprised at not only how great this delicious dessert tastes, but how easy it was to make and is so pretty and perfect to make for those hot summer nights coming up. The fresh strawberries and lemon juice make for the perfect combination for this quick dessert. Just make sure you have at least 6 hours before you wish to serve this dessert to allow it the freeze and set up properly before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1 can (14 oz.) EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
  • 8 OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:
  1. Strawberry Whipped Sensation
  2. Recipe Rating:
  3. Prep Time: 20 min
  4. Total Time: 6 hr 20 min
  5. Makes: 12 servings
  6. LINE 9x5-inch loaf pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan.
  7. Mash 2 cups of the strawberries in large bowl. Add condensed milk,juice and 2 cups of the whipped topping; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
  8. MIX chopped cookies and butter. Spoon over whipped topping mixture.
  9. Cover with ends of foil and gently press cookie mixture into whipped topping mixture. Freeze 6 hours or until firm.
  10. INVERT dessert onto serving plate when ready to serve; remove pan and foil.
  11. Spread remaining whipped topping onto top and sides of dessert.
  12. Slice remaining 1 cup of strawberries; arrange over dessert.
  13. Store leftovers in freezer
Now that you know how to make this dessert, let me know how great it was for you and your guests and family!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Best Homemade Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

Now who doesn't love lemon meringue pie - yes many of us had some if we went to the diner - but that is not necessarily the real deal. If you want to know how to make a great lemon meringue pie that is quick, affordable and always works - this is the recipe for you! So what are we waiting for.... let me get typing!


I have seen a lot of versions out there, but a recipe that doesn't use lemon zest to me is really not a real lemon meringue pie - the added zest and fresh lemon juice with a little pulp really makes this pie truly tart and sweet simultaneously and after making few of these pies you will see there really is no effort at all to making fantastic great authentic lemon meringue pie just like your grandmother used to bake for special occasions.

Ingredients:
1 baked pie shell cooled
3 large eggs separated (easier when done while eggs are still cold)
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 teaspoons grated lemon rind
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice with some pulp
1 cup white sugar for lemon filling
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
***for meringue:
6 tablespoons of Super Fine white sugar for meringue
dash of salt for meringue
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tarter - to stabilize egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract for meringue
*****
Equipment Needed:
Double boiler, mix master such as kitchen aid or hand mixer, whisk

Directions:

  1. To double boiler add all of the following: cornstarch, salt, 1/2 cup of the white sugar, mix till combined then add water and stir.
  2. Cook over boiling water until thick stirring constantly.
  3. Then cover with lid and let cook for ten minutes.
  4. Combine egg yolks and rest of sugar into a bowl - stir till combined and add a little of the hot mixture to the egg yolks to temper them. Then add egg yolks to hot mixture and stir.
  5. Turn off heat yet stir mixture for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove double boiler from hot water, and place on trivet or counter where it is safe. While still hot, stir in butter, lemon rind, lemon juice and pure lemon extract.
  7. Let cool to room temperature - without stirring and NEVER cool in fridge! Keep lid off so that steam can escape.
  8. Once cooled, pour into baked pie shell and cover with meringue. Make sure all mixture is covered with the meringue - and place on the middle rack of your oven about 15 minutes at 325 degrees or until the meringue is lightly browned. Serve it up that night!
  9. *****
  10. To Make Meringue:
  11. Make sure your bowl, beaters are super clean void of any grease from previous uses. Add egg whites to bowl and start to beat.
  12. Once eggs have started to be white and frothy, add sugar gradually. You might want to keep beating speed on medium or medium low so that your egg whites can dissolve the sugar. This is an imperative step that will help prevent your meringue from 'weeping' later on in the day as it sits for getting ready to be eaten.
  13. For those of us that have kitchen aids - note, this process can be quicker than we realize being that these sort of mixers are super quick. So it is ok to beat slowly at first, so that the sugar has had the time to dissolve in the egg whites.
  14. Continue beating until smooth and add vanilla extract.
  15. To ensure all sugar has been dissolved, put a little on your fingers and rub them (as if you were making a snap) if you feel any bits of sugar, you will need to keep beating until smooth - so be careful not to over beat your meringue - which is why I suggested to beat at a medium speed.
  16. Once meringue is shiny and peaks form, your ready to top your pie.

Quick Rich Biscuit Topping and Chicken Pot Pie

Light, airy, super fluffy inside with a crunchie top rich biscuit 'topping' is quick and easy to make has your casseroles and related dishes alike will have a new leash on life. I needed a topping for a chicken pot pie I made the other night, and didn't want to make a pastry - rich biscuit topping was my alternative I turned to - I also didn't wish to make it completely from scratch. So I altered a from scratch recipe to create this take on rich biscuit topping...Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups of self rising flour or Bisquick which is what I used.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup or more of whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter - yes butter. (I used unsalted)
  • 1 casserole or chicken pot pie type dish needing a biscuit topping.
  • Oven at 375-400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.



Directions
:
  1. Measure out dry ingredients and place into bowl.
  2. Add milk and egg and stir.
  3. Add melted butter and add to mixture. Stir till well combined.
  4. I did not roll this out nor did it touch a board, but rather grabbed it into my hands and patted it out gently in my hands as if I was starting to work a pizza pie dough - throwing gently back and forth to help 'stretch it'.
  5. The dough is not terribly too sticky yet it is wet enough with the butter (enough to kill a small horse) that it should be very easy and quick to pat out , not stick to your hands and then simply place on top of your casserole dish.
  6. Bake in hot oven for 25-30 minutes and serve it up.
Other great uses, if you were to add 1/2 cup more of the Bisquick, you could easily pat these out, and cut out actual biscuits, bake them in a hot oven for 23-25 minutes at 400 degrees and you got yourself some delicious sky high biscuits! Now I am calling this real biscuit love.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a take on an old favorite that so many of us grew up with. This version makes great use of left over chicken you may have. Since I had made a big roaster chicken and basted it up with my hoisin and lemon marinade -I had enough left over to make three other dishes. So here is the recipe for one good and true chicken pot pie.

Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons chicken fat or butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 1 cup peas (frozen - and slightly thawed)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked chicken up into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 cups chicken stock - or for a creamier sauce - use 1 cup milk and 1 cup stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of celery and/or onion salt (optional)






















Directions:
  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees
  2. In skillet, sautee diced onions, carrots, and celery for 8 minutes or until onions are soft.
  3. Add flour and stir until blended.
  4. Slowly add stock/milk liquid and over low heat, stir until thickened.
  5. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Add celery salt or onion salt if you would like along with a shake of dried red chili peppers.
  6. In casserole dish add cut up chicken and peas - and stir till combined. Add sauce and stir once more till combined.
  7. Top with rich biscuit topping (recipe above) or pie pastry - make sure to make 'slits' in pie pastry to allow steam to escape. If using the rich biscuit topping, you can have it not cover the casserole completely leaving some space on the sides (which is what I did) so that the steam can escape out the sides of your casserole (see photos).
  8. Place your casserole into oven, and let bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack of your oven.
  9. Put large cookie sheet or tin foil on rack below, to prevent any scorching on your oven floor from any boiled over drippings of your sauce - makes cleaning up a cinch!
  10. Serve your chicken pot pie and enjoy with a fresh salad.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Yorker Gumbo - How to Make Great Gumbo

This article and gumbo recipe was created out of necessity. To start with, making Gumbo was the given answer to my asked questions of "what the heck to do next with a leftover roasted chicken to other well-seasoned foodies, and secondly, I needed to learn a little thing or two about Gumbo making and creating. I learned a lot and I thought so highly of the dish and about Gumbo I had to share it with you.

I may have been born in the south, but moved up north long before I began to teethe, so I never got to try authentic gumbo when I lived down South. That has never stopped me though, to eat and try several gumbos in my life up until now. A few nights ago, I made my first gumbo - I was visiting a friendly food website called Grouprecipes.com where we all share in our recipe and food stories and I had left over chicken from the lemon hoisin roasted chicken I had made the night before.

So I put a question out to the other foodies, what can I do with left over chicken - to my surprise and to their generosity, I received lots of ideas - make chicken pot pie, chicken salad, chicken quesadilla but one idea in particular stood out: Make a Gumbo.

Now, I knew I never tried making gumbo before and I knew enough that it is all about the roux. I read several recipes that night and learned there are as many gumbo recipes out there as there are excellent cooks who really know how to make not only the perfect roux for gumbo, but the best gumbo out there their side of their county.

History of Gumbo:
Now what the heck is gumbo I thought and where did this dish come from, what was its history? Gumbo is always served with rice and always is thickened while dark in its color (not like the color of a chicken pot pie filling). I primarily knew it as not only a popular dish from the South but that Gumbo is a huge staple signature dish of Southerners, many who will share their Gumbo with you with their Southern hospitality at any time but will covet their recipe and keep that a secret and that's the truth.

I also learned during my research is that there is some disparity in the history as to whether this gumbo dish is of creole or cajun origin or even if it was a take off from the bouillabaisse (think fish stew) that the French Settlers loved. Recall the Louisiana Purchase from your history class? The French Settlers story suggests that since some of the ingredients were not readily available that they were used to having in their beloved bouillabaisse, the French Settlers substituted from the local fare, and after a hundred years, this dish turned into it's own signature stew which we now know as Gumbo.

Though the more popular history is that Gumbo takes its' history from West African Cooking since the word gumbo is derived from the word, "okra" which was not only introduced to America by West Africans, but as it was then and as it is now, Okra is still used to thicken 'gumbo' in many recipes. This is far closer to the truth of the origin of Gumbo and many of the related recipes still continue to use okra as an additional thickener along with the roux.

Furthermore, Gumbo is a particular important food of choice during Mardi Gras, and most beloved chefs of gumbo regardless of class, status or selected choice of ingredients will make Gumbo on a fairly regular basis.

There are several main types of Gumbo: chicken and sausage, seafood and all vegetarian. But do note, you will see a huge combination of ingredients as well as different recipes for Gumbo as you peruse for Gumbo ideas out there in cyber land. And although it is a one pot 'Cajun' or 'Creole' communal concoction, it can contain as many or as few main ingredients but it all begins with a well-made roux.

So what in the world in a roux?

Roux is a thickener, and is used to make everything from pan gravy, sauces to the obvious point here Gumbo. Roux is a mixture of oil/butter and flour, slowly cooked almost always in the same pot the gumbo will be cooked in. This mixture is cooked slowly over the stove top until it is (depending upon recipe I noticed) milk chocolate color to dark chocolate color - but never burnt! I ready many times, if the roux is burnt, throw out and start again. Also interesting, the time it might take for the roux to get its color can be anywhere from 12-60 minutes all depending upon your pan, the heat under it and even the type of oil and shortening you use. Imagine, stirring for the length of time of 60 minutes. Yikes! But I am sure there are few Gumbo Perfectionists out there that swear (if they were to share) that is takes them no less than 30 minutes to make their roux.

Lastly about the roux, I did noticed that I took it slowly, and at about 17 minutes, the roux quickly turned the correct color - it was all of the sudden - I note this in particular, since nothing seemed to be happening, and as soon as I turned my whisk over to the boyfriend, it quickly happened - so be forewarned. Since it is obvious and stated in many recipes, you do not want to burn the stuff - but the cooked and browned roux is what the base of any great gumbo is. After that, it's all downhill as for the ease in making your gumbo.

So, I wanted not only to make Gumbo tonight, but being me, I will happily share my recipe, the flavors were complex, the gumbo thick, and with the extra effort needed, it was sure well worth all of it. The list of ingredients (for the Gumbo Purists especially) please forgive my New York nature as this recipe will contain some 'Italian' known ingredients minus the beloved okra, but it made for one heck of a Gumbo I am proud to serve and have named my recipe The New Yorker Gumbo!

This is a dish you might want to make on a weekend, since fresh broth really makes the dish, and the needed time it might take you to get the roux perfect - so let's get to it already! But it really only took a total of an hour and half - but I am sure the longer you cook your Gumbo, the better it is.

In saving some time, important tips to remember:
  • Sliced up the bacon and Italian sausages (except for the suprasatta) is easier if they are slightly frozen.
  • I cooked up my bacon, then the sausages all the while as the broth was being made as I chopped up my vegetables. This allowed me to have the necessary time to pay sole attention to the roux creating process.
  • If you burn your roux, stop, wash out your pan and start again - I have read this too many times in all the recipes I read so this really is important - as your Gumbo will taste burnt.
  • The seasoned 'oil' from the left over cooked bacon and sausage really also made a nice addition to the flavors in using simple olive oil or butter. I poured out all the oil left from the cooked meats, then remeasured and put back that which was needed to create the roux.
  • You should make your Gumbo along with the roux in a heavy deep soup crock for best results.
  • I know, that's one long list of ingredients below. Believe it or not, I had all of this available to me in my cupboards and fridge when I made my Gumbo, so some of you might have to shop a little, but again as I mentioned - this dish is so incredible you will be hooked!

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 cups cooked riced (warm and set aside ready for serving when the time comes)
  • 2 cups fresh chicken and shrimp broth (the how to's are below)
  • 1-1/2 cup cut up cooked breast of chicken
  • 4 sweet italian sausages - sliced thin
  • 2 hot italian sausages - sliced thin
  • 2 inches or more of sweet or hot suprasatta sausage (thinly sliced and cut into fourths) (Found in your Italian Deli's - you can have them slice it or do it yourself at home, just make sure if there is a 'skin' - it's been removed)
  • 6 slices of bacon (thick sliced is best)
  • 2-3 large shrimp per person de-veined but with tails and shells still on
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 big red sweet pepper
  • 2 green sweet peppers
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes (14.5 ounce can)
  • 1 small can of tomato paste (6 ounce can)
  • 4 shakes of red chili flakes
  • several shakes each of Tabasco & Franks hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons 'better than bouillon' beef flavor - it is a thick paste and basis for broths - found in the soup section of your grocery stores - and comes in a variety of flavors.
  • 2 cups water (if you are not using the broth)
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons bacon and sausage fat
  • 4 (+) cloves of garlic - freshly minced
  • 3 scallions minced
  • 1 teaspoon all spice (whole seed pods - preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon or more cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of old bay seasonings
  • 2 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Directions:
  1. Make your broth, add whole chicken breasts, or chicken parts, one bay leaf, a cut up carrot, a cut of stalk of celery, sage, a couple of whole all spice 'seeds', salt and pepper. Once boiling, add whole shrimp (with heads if you can find them) Let boil three minutes, then take out shrimp immediately and set shrimp aside.
  2. Once shrimp has cooled enough to handle, remove shells, heads and return all shells, heads and tails back into your broth and let it continue to cook on simmer.
  3. While your broth is cooking away, let's get going on the meats for your Gumbo.
  4. Slice up your bacon, and add a drizzle of olive oil into your cold pan that you are to make your gumbo in. Cook bacon. Once cooked, spoon out bacon.
  5. Add all sliced thin sausages into pan and let brown, turning them over now and then. Once browned, set aside.
  6. While your bacon and sausages are cooking, cut up the onions, peppers.
  7. Pour off all oil left in pan, then measure oil to have the needed 4 tablespoons of oil/fat and put back into your pan. Add your 4 tablespoons flour slowly. Over medium heat, stir with a whisk.
  8. While cooking your roux over a med-low heat, whisking constantly, for roughly 12 to 15 minutes, until it turns the color of rich milk chocolate. This may take longer - try not to rush things by putting the heat up high - you will simply end up burning the flour.
  9. Once roux is at the right color, add the onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, and all of the 'dry' seasonings to the roux and continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes or until the vegetables turn tender.
  10. Add the diced tomatoes from the can including all its juices along with the tomato paste.
  11. Add the drained chicken/shrimp stock and all remaining wet ingredients such as the worcestershire sauce and hot sauces.
  12. Add the smoked sausage and cut into chunks of cooked chicken and continue cooking for about 60 minutes at least, stirring occasionally. Don't forget the bay leaves. Add any and all other ingredients not already added to your gumbo in the making.
  13. Add cooked shrimp to Gumbo 3-5 minutes before serving to warm through.
  14. Serve up your gumbo and pour over your rice. Top with fresh cilantro and make sure some extra hot sauce is available to those who like the extra kick.
Interesting Gumbo-related Links and Sources for this Article:
As always feel free to leave your comments, ask questions and share your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you! -Divaliscious (aka Leah Quinn).

Leah Quinn is a writer specializing on food, health, well being and entertainment and is a multi-media artist living in New York. Stop by her food site to learn many more healthy and interesting recipes at http://dinner-and-jam.blogspot.com and to find links to her other sites and blogs such as The Daily Rant and Rave or Simply Divaliscious.



Monday, April 7, 2008

Divaliscious Chili - How to make great tasting chili



I happened to be adding food photos to my flickr account when I barely had a chili photo up and someone messaged me for the recipe - when I looked at this blog, I thought I had already posted it - hence it was only on my grouprecipes.com page - so here it is folks, you asked for it, you got it. Divaliscious Chili.

This is a great to freeze, since it is not difficult to make - and you end up with making a large amount - so freeze half.

The wonderful gentle heat you get from this chili and its' amazing zest and taste comes from 5 different heat sources, making this chili complex and affecting every inch of your tongue without burning it. This is my version of everyone’s favorite super bowl party dish - though it's not just
for Super Bowls! Easy, fast and even better the next day! This one is not too spicy, but is fresh looking and tasting with bright flavors. This is not your mom’s canned version if she dared to do such as thing to you when you were young!!!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef - at room temperature (or at least 30 minutes out of the fridge - don't "shock your meat kids" - sounds naughty doesn't it? lol)
  • 4 fresh Italian sausages (2 sweet & 2 hot)
  • 1 large onion - diced
  • 1 med. Bermuda onion – diced
  • 4-5 fresh garlic cloves – minced
  • 4 stalks of scallions – minced/sliced
  • 2 large green sweet peppers
  • 2 large red sweet peppers
  • OR switch out 2 of the peppers for other colors if your budget can afford it - such as orange and yellow – chili looks incredibly amazing when you do this and doesn’t affect the taste any.
  • 4-6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño pepper – minced with out seeds as they add even more heat (add more peppers if you like it hotter – keep seeds in if you are a football player)
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 28oz or less Water from rinsed out tomato cans (see below)
  • 3 cans dark kidney beans
  • 2 cans of your choice beans (I used 1 can of black beans and 1 can of roman beans for added interest this time)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 3/4 tablespoons pepper (freshly ground preferred)
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons freshly dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 6 good shakes of Tabasco sauce
  • 3 good shakes of hot sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
Directions
  1. Put large pot on stove and add ½ of olive oil (say about 3 tablespoons) and put heat on under pot.
  2. Add diced onions (both bermuda and spanish/white)
  3. Saute on medium heat stirring occasionally and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
  4. Add cumin, fresh ground pepper , chili flakes to cooking onions. I like these spices to heat up, so that their flavor’s are enhanced before adding the meat to brown.
  5. Add sliced sausages and continue cooking till onions are looking translucent.
  6. Add freshly minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  7. Add room-temperature ground beef, stir frequently, and “break down” meat so you have no large “clumps” – some clumps ok, but not huge chunks.
  8. Add additional olive oil only if needed.
  9. While meat is browning, take colander and place in sink.
  10. Open up each can of beans and place into the colander that should be in the sink by now.
  11. Run water over beans thoroughly, so that all that surgery juice has been rinsed off.
  12. Check pot, if meat is completely cooked and not looking pink, add 1/3 cup of the balsamic vinegar.
  13. Don’t have balsamic? You can substitute red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or heck red wine – you want the acidity here folks, or the juice of one lemon – it will add the brightness to your chili that I discussed earlier.
  14. When adding your acidic liquid of your choice (balsamic vinegar preferred), scrape bottom of pot with spoon to lift up those little extras what I call “flavor-enhancers” that were created from the caramelized onions and sausages browning.
  15. Add all the now rinsed beans from the colander to the pot.
  16. Next add the entire contents of the 2 large cans of tomatoes (1 crushed and 1 diced)
  17. Take each emptied can of tomatoes and add water to each to fill by half.
  18. Swirl gently around getting any last bits of those tomato juices and place this water as well into stock pot.
  19. Add all remaining ingredients expect for one green pepper and one red pepper.
  20. You will add these peppers during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  21. Stir gently over medium heat till it starts to boil.
  22. Lower heat to a simmer or extra low and place lid on top of pot.
  23. Let simmer for an hour at least. I let it simmer for over 2 hours or more.
  24. Stirring every 20 minutes or when your up getting yourself another beer during your super bowl party.
  25. 30 minutes prior to serving, or If you are reheating the next day, since you made this the day before your party, add the additional green and red peppers 30 minutes before serving. This will help brighten the colors and the peppers will have a little crunch to them.
  26. Serve this with tortilla chips, additional fresh minced chives on top of each bowl, grated cheese of your choice, and a dollop of sour cream. Voila, you are now a chili master.
Coming up on my next post - Gumbo...

So thank again my flickr friend from the bottom of my chili bowl! It you hadn't ask for the recipe, I would never have known it wasn't posted here!

As always feel free to leave your comments, ask questions and share your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you! -Divaliscious (aka Leah Quinn).

Leah Quinn is a writer specializing on food, health, well being and entertainment and is a multi-media artist living in New York. Stop by her food site to learn many more healthy and interesting recipes at http://dinner-and-jam.blogspot.com and to find links to her other sites and blogs.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cream Pies De-mystifed - How to Make Great Cream Pies from Chocolate, to Butterscotch to Coconut

So you want to make a cream pie - it is a lot easier than you think - and what about making your very own amazing chocolate cream pie, butterscotch cream pie, a fruit cream pie like banana cream pie or a fave of mine, a coconut cream pie? It is a snap to make any of these cream pies. Starting with a basic cream pie recipe from scratch, you can easily and quickly make many other types of cream pies with simple and small changes and additions to the original recipe.


There is a difference between a custard pie and a cream pie in case you are wondering. Your basic custard pie recipe does not call for cornstarch and requires more milk and eggs and bakes longer in the oven. Your basic cream pie recipe calls for cornstarch which is used to thicken your filling to the likes of a pudding and calls for 3 egg yolks, milk and a little more sugar than a custard pie.

I will share with you today the best, easiest and basic recipe for making a great cream pie, that afterwards you will not only learn how to make a cream pie but other cream pies such as butterscotch cream pie, a chocolate cream pie, a coconut cream pie.

Before you go off and make your first cream pie, take note of the following basic tips in making successful and extra tasty cream pies:
  • Follow the easy steps provided, and cook for the said time, since if you bake a cream or even a custard pie too long it will create cracks on the top, it may separate itself from the crust (doesn't look pretty) and could even become dry - yuck.
  • Cream Pies do not freeze well. They taste the best when served the same day that they were made.
  • Your choice of crust can vary - many like a graham cracker crust since it's a no bake deal, but other crust choices can be a chocolate cookie crust to my favorite, a standard pie crust recipe. (You can cheat is you want to and buy a pre-made crust of your choosing- I won't tell a soul)
  • For best results, you will be using a double boiler. You need the egg mixture to cook over simmering water - trying to cook the filling in a soup pot will simply create an over cooked filled that ends up being dry.
  • Choices for the cream pie toppings can be either whipped cream (freshly made or pre-made) or meringue.
Cream Pie Basic Recipe: Ingredients:
1 - 9" baked pastry shell - your choice, graham cracker, chocolate cookie or a standard pie crust shell.
2/3 cups white sugar
3/-1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch OR 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups of cold whole milk
3 egg yolks - slightly beaten (if eggs are small, use 4 eggs) - save the whites in you are making meringue.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Equipment Needed:
Double boiler, with water simmering but not touching bowl that sits on top of it. Whisk and lid for double boiler.

Directions:
  • In double boiler bowl, add sugar, cornstarch or flour (I prefer to use cornstarch for my cream pies) and salt. Stir with whisk so that all ingredients are combined. Put bowl on your double boiler pot and over your boiling water.
  • Stir in the cold milk.
  • Stirring constantly and gently making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of your bowl, cook the mixture over boiling water until mixture gets thick.
  • Cover with lid and set time and cook for 15 minutes. (you can of course stop stirring at this point)
  • In separate small bowl, hand beat your egg yolks.
  • Once 15 minutes are up, turn down the heat on your double boiler to allow the water to simmer not boil.
  • Temper your egg yolks at this point before adding egg yolks to mixture.
  • To temper egg yolks, add about 2 tablespoons of the hot thickened mixture to the egg yolks and stir - this will bring up the temperature of the egg yolks so that when you add them to the still hot cream mixture, you won't scramble the egg yolks.
  • Now that your egg yolks are tempered, add all of the egg yolks into the hot mixture - stirring constantly and cook for an additional 2 minutes over hot not boiling water.
  • Once complete, take bowl off of hot water, using a trivet, let mixture cool on your counter top and remove lid or place lid at an angle to allow hot steam to escape.
  • Once cool, add your pure vanilla extract and stir it in.
  • Preheat oven for 325 degrees.
  • Pour cooled mixture into your baked pie shell.
  • At this point if you are using meringue, add your meringue topping. If not skip this part (but you will still have to bake your pie for 15 minutes without a meringue topping).
  • Put pie with cooled mixture into the oven and allow to bake for 15 minutes. This will help 'set' your cream pie.
  • Once pie is finished, let it cool before adding whipped cream. Once cooled after baking, you can put it in the fridge if you would like until ready to serve. Though I would suggest to add whipped cream at the last moment before serving especially if using freshly made whipped cream.

Ok, ok! I know, you want to learn how to make the other types of cream pies! All of the following can be made with the recipe as suggested above but with minor changes so take note.

Butterscotch Cream Pie:
  • substitute 1 cup dark brown sugar for the normally called for 2/3 cups white sugar, combine dark brown sugar with cornstarch or flour and salt and proceed with cooking as usual
  • then add 3 tablespoons butter to cooked mixture before cooling. Once cooled, then add your vanilla extract and pour into shell - my mom used to make this one...delish! if you want to go to heaven (or hell depending upon how you look at it) add toffee bits once cooled prior to pouring.
Chocolate Cream Pie:
  • Grate or cut up 3 squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • Add grated chocolate to sugar and milk mixture before cooking.
  • You can use semi-sweet or unsweetened - just make sure it's baking chocolate that you use.
  • Optional and oh so pretty factor, put shaved chocolate on top of whipped cream just before serving.
  • Add toasted shredded sweetened coconut to mixture once it has cooled to create a chocolate coconut cream pie - oh my! No one will expect this - it is like a mounds bar gone cream pie!
Coconut Cream Pie:
  • Stir 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened coconut to the cooled mixture before pouring into your pie shell.
  • Add 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened coconut to the meringue before baking.
Banana Cream Pie:
  • Slice up firm yet ripe bananas, and place a row of them on the bottom of the pie, then pour in filling.
  • Top filling with an additional layer. With the top layer, you may wish to first toss slices with just a little amount of fresh lemon juice to avoid oxidation of the bananas.
Glazed Cherry Cream Pie:
  • Using a number 2 can (2-1/2 cups) of pitted sour red cherries, drain and reserve 'juices to make a glaze.
  • Place cherries at bottom of pie shell, cover with cream pie filling.
  • Then pour glaze on top of filling, put into fridge to allow all to set before serving with whipped cream.
  • To make glaze, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and stir in 2/3 cups of the juice from the canned cherries (add water to create 2/3 cups of liquid if there isn't enough cherry juice) - bring this to a boil and cook till clear and thickened stirring constantly.
  • Cool, then pour of pie - then into the fridge it goes to set.
Hope you enjoyed reading and when you get the chance, you can try one of these cream pie recipes! Feel free to leave your comments, ask questions and share your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you! -Divaliscious (aka Leah Quinn).

Leah Quinn is a writer specializing on food, health, well being and entertainment and is a multi-media artist living in New York. Stop by her food site to learn many more healthy and interesting recipes at http://dinner-and-jam.blogspot.com and to find links to her other sites and blogs.

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Differences in Flour Explained - Sift Out Your Flour Issues

I have been having an email conversation with another foodie who taught me a thing of too about meringue and was I ever thankful! But alas, we can all learn from one another, and soon she was asking me questions about flour and which flours are perfect for certain types of baking and cooking needs.

What is it about flour and how does it handle and stand up to our various baking and cooking needs? This simple question I wished to resolve and find out - and what I learned was more than I could almost handle since there seem to be several different points of views as to which flour is best to use for certain baking and cooking situations.

And as a result, a new article idea was born and hence the following is a result of today's research. I sifted through a variety of blogs and websites to come up with the information provided below. I list the resources at the bottom of the article for those who are so ever curious including one for the photo to the above.

Now some of you may think all flours are equal - well that is simply not true. Not all flours behave equally when used in baking due to their varying levels of hard and soft wheat flour, level of proteins including nutrients. The flour your mother and grandmother used can be very different to the flours now available on the market today and certainly can behave differently when used in baking and cooking. Furthermore, what we may be able to buy in the grocery store is not what your commercial baker gets and in fact all purpose flour purchased in the Northeast may be and will be very different than flour purchased in the South or out West by California (who knew!?!) This was something I had no idea about - so how the heck does one use the same cookbook (such as The Joy of Cooking) in all areas of our blessed country? I am not even going to approach that subject. But I digress.

For many occasional bakers, all purpose flour will stand up (and rise to the occassion) as needed and is perfect for almost every baking and cooking need. For others who are particular in their baking perfections and confections - different flours are preferred for their specific gluten contents and yeast raising abilities - I will try and share what I have learned about all types of flours. I also included on the bottom of this article a substitutions list that can come handy if you are in a jam for some of you bakers out there. Do note that not all substitutions will work for every recipe - as their are some limitations to the chemistry compounds.

I divided up the information into two categories, one in which the different flours are described, and the second, which type of flour is best to be used in your different cooking and baking situations.

For the Divaliscious record, I prefer to use unbleached un-sifted all purpose flour such as Heckers or King Arthur's for almost every baking and cooking recipe except for when the recipe calls for cake flour (I live in the NE). I also use the same flour for my gravies and sauces -I am personally not a big fan of Wondra -though I know it helps a lot of people in avoiding lumps in their gravies and sauces (but that can be avoided by not adding the liquid too fast and not walking away from your beginning gravy stages and using a whisk to stir).

And of course I will sneak in some Bisquick (a self-rising flour product) in making my oven-fried chicken, dumplings or a quick pancake or coffeecake when I am in a jam as it is a tried and true product - but would never use Bisquick as an all purpose flour if I was making cakes, breads or cookies from scratch.

Descriptions on the different type of flours:

All Purpose Flour - is made from a blend of high and low gluten wheats, and has a bit less protein than bread flour. All purpose flour sold in the North, usually has a blend of both soft and hard wheat flours whereas in the South, it is a blend of soft wheat flours. All purpose flour can generally be used in all recipes. But for the truly picky - see belows list for the preferred flour type for what you are baking and cooking.

Bread Flour - has a higher hard wheat content than say all purpose flour, and is used a lot by commercial bakers. There is also a higher gluten content (more protein) in bread flour with a small amount of malted barley flour and vitamin c or potassium bromate added to it in which the bromate helps increase the elasticity of the gluten, creating a dough with which can easily be worked.

Cake Flour - has a low and delicate gluten content and is finely milled with a super smooth texture allowing cakes to be light and airy - think of jelly rolls, sponge cakes and angel food cakes.

Pastry Flour - is finer in texture than all purpose flour but it is not as fine as cake flour. This flour is usually distributed to commercial bakers and contains a lower gluten content and is made mostly of soft wheat attributes.

Self-rising Flour - is an all purpose flour to which additional ingredients have been added such as baking powder and salt. And it should be used as according to its package directions since there are differences per each self-rising flour product out there - there are several available on the market (Bisquick comes to mind once again, and it was the one 'allowed' cheating self-rising flour we used in our household when I grew up - and still allow in my cupboard for those dumpling moments that come to pass every once in awhile when I make a stew) - You can also make your own if you wish, just keep it in a sealed container due to the baking powder which you want to keep fresh to retain it's leavening properties. (1 cup self-rising flour is equal to 1 cup cake flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt added to it.)

Whole Grain Wheat Flour - wheat flours can vary in their amounts of white flours added, but most are tried and true and can now be used successfully in bread recipes without adding any additional 'white' flour.

Durham/Semolina Flour - is used primarily for breads and pasta doughs due to its high gluten and protein amounts.

Rye Flour - rye flour usually needs to have wheat flour added to give it some lightness due to its lacking the necessary proteins to form gluten which is essential in making breads.

Soybean Flour - Neither gliadin or glutenin, the necessary proteins when moistened to create gluten can be found in soybean flour, hence a strong wheat flour needs to be added to soy bean flour for good results in making breads with soybean flour. Although, with quick-breads and cakes, soybean flour may be substituted up to half of the amount of all purpose flour with good results.

Buckwheat Flour - has very strong characteristics, a nutty flavor and is very 'heavy' and must always be combined with wheat or white flours to create good results in breads.

Enriched Flour - since after WWII, the demand for an enriched flour product was at a all time high (and the FDA demanded it during the war), and since due to the milling process, many of the nutrients were lost and had to be replaced - so enriched is simply what it implies; enriched flour has added nutrients such as iron, niacin, thiamine, folic acid added to the mix.

Other types of flours can also include rice, peanut, potato and of course in the world we live in, a variety of other different types of flours can be bought over the internet from other countries and in local health stores and specialty stores.

Did you know that there are pizza restaurants out in California that have both water and flour 'imported' from NY so they can create the NY Pizza? That's is how different flours and (water) can change a recipe and its' basic tastes.

I would highly recommend, trying out some of the other types of flours when you make bread the next time - experiment with different combinations and you will soon be creating your own interesting hearty breads.

When in doubt, look at your package of flour to see what combinations of additional flours and/or ingredients have been added - you may find that the whole wheat flour is actually not completely whole wheat but in fact has white flour already added. This is particularly true when you wish to avoid certain 'flours' or are trying a new bread recipe that calls for different types of flour such as rye.

Unbleached Versus Bleached Flour - Bleached flours will have a slight lower protein content than unbleached. Unbleached flours will be so ever 'not as white' as bleached flours in their color. And due to the less protein amount, bleached flours when making breads specifically may not rise as much and bake out flatter (I know this since I have experienced this).

Sifted Versus Unsifted Flours - This may seem self explanatory - but there is a huge difference in weight when comparing one cup of unsifted flour to a sifted flour. I have personally experienced a half a cup more of flour once it has been sifted! Imagine adding unintentionally an extra half cup of flour to your recipe and what that could do to ruin a perfectly good recipe. Since I mainly refer to cookbooks that are 50 years old, I like to use the unsifted flour and sift accordingly to the recipe directions. Remember, cooking and baking is chemistry - and the correct amounts make for perfect results every time.

In most cases, my recipes will call for me to measure, sift, measure again, then add the salt, baking powder, etc. then sift once more. Yes, I will sift my flours twice. But, my cakes are extra light as are the cookies crisp and chewy as a result with having extra happy eaters.

If I happen to be using a pre-sifted flour (it has been known to happen) I will still carefully measure the flour, add the salt and other dry ingredients, then sift them all together, since flour whether sifted or not easily settles (like your bag of potato chips and cereals) during its many travels in shipping to your local grocery store.

Sifting the flour will aerate the flour, remove any lumps and will create a lighter texture to your fine baking goods. I do not sift my bread flour since I mainly use a bread machine to make my dough, but will sift my flour for when I make quick breads such as banana loafs, etc. which I do not make in my bread machine. And for the most part, I use my bread machine to simply make the dough, then I take the dough out of the machine so that I can create a more homemade and rustic-looking bread.

I use a fine mesh strainer to sift my flour - long gone are my flour sifters (which you may recall seen used by your mother and grandmother respectively) since they are hard on the wrists (from all the squeezing or cranking mechanisms) and they rust easily while taking up too much room in the kitchen where space is always at a premium especially for when they are used for one thing only. Why bother with sifters from year's past?

The fine mesh strainer can be used for so many multi-purposes in the kitchen, can be easily hand washed along with going into the dishwasher to be cleaned that this tool is a must have in your kitchen - and can easily be purchased for about $6.00. Effective, easy to clean multi-purpose gadgets are what I like in my kitchen - as I am sure you would want that too!

How To Correctly Measure Flour:
Using a smaller scoop, scoop up flour and place flour gently into your one cup measuring cup or other needed measuring cup. With the FLAT side of a dinner knife, scrape gently off the excess of flour back into your canister or bag of flour to create a leveled measured cup of flour. Do not pack your flour down like it is brown sugar for Pete's sake into your measuring cup. Doing so will result in heavy and dense baked goods. Yuck.

Pour your measured flour into your fine mesh strainer which is placed above a bowl, then measure any more additional flour amounts that you need. By tapping the strainer back and forth, you will quickly sift your flour. Just remember to measure the flour again now that it has been sifted once before putting your flour into your mixing bowls to get an accurate flour measurement.

When my baking recipe calls for sifting (since most of them do) I will measure and then sift for the first time. Then will have to measure again carefully since with one sifting a lot of extra flour can be created - try it and see for yourself (and as mentioned previously, I have experienced over an extra 1/2 cup of flour from the first sifting!) You will be amazed at the amount of extra flour which can come about from one sifting - and you will now understand why your cakes are not like your grandmothers'! This will be a thing of the past by following the simple tips as described above.

What kind of flour to use when baking and cooking:

All Purpose Flour - can be used for most recipes and for general cooking and baking purposes

Unbleached Unsifted flour - preferred by most fine bakers and cooks - great for cookies, pie crusts, cream pies fillings, gravies

Cake flour - for your angel food cake recipes and cake batters and recipes requiring a light batter (not brownies for example).

Wheat flour - great for your bread recipes since it has a higher protein and gluten amount than say your all purpose flour.

Self-rising flour - preferred by Southern cooks for perfect biscuits every time - one mentioned often enough is named Lily - It is not readily available here in the NE.

Substitutions:
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour = 1 cup + 2 tbsp sifted cake flour
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour = 1 cup minus 2 tbsp unsifted flour
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour = 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

Article Sources:

I am so floured out after sifting through all these web sites, many more I read, that I simply did not feel were accurate enough to mention - but one thing I know, I am off now to make me some great homemade bread.

Hope this information is useful to those who need to know a little more about flour. Feel free to leave your comments, ask questions and share your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you! -Divaliscious.




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Friday, April 4, 2008

Standing Rib Roast of Beef - How to Make the Best Roast Beef Recipe

Standing rib roast is commonly served up during holiday dinners, but why wait until the next holiday? You only have to wait about two hours for a three rib roast when making this incredible roast beef recipe in your own oven. You may know this cut of beef as Roast Beef, and despite it setting you back a few dollars, the results of roasting this easy roast beef recipe is so simple, you will wonder why you never tried it before.

This recipe shells out one perfect roast beef with roasted potatoes and vegetables that assist in making perfect pan gravy which will make your people drool. A rib roast can have the bone in (I prefer it this way) or the bone removed, the instructions below can be followed for both cuts of beef.

What size should you get?
What is even nicer is that your butcher could easily cut a smaller piece for you should you see only huge standing roast beefs at your grocery store - so count one rib per person - a two rib works rather well, and there will be quite a lot of meat for one big meal and sandwiches for the next day as well, for a couple.

If you are having a small party - still count one rib per person - tonight I bought a three rib standing beef roast for $25.00. But it is the weekend, and wished to splurge a bit - and if you think of it, that's still a lot less you would pay for dinner out. And if you ordered roast beef at a restaurant, they would have charged you $25.00 per person - so see? You have already saved $25.00!

What goes with Roast Beef? Yorkshire Pudding, of course my dear!
By the time you read this, my latest standing roast beef will have finished cooking and I will be allowing it to rest while concocting up some fantastic Yorkshire Pudding that should always be served up with Roast Beef along with horseradish sauce of course. And what the heck is Yorkshire Pudding? - Well it is not pudding at all, but frankly a super easy to make popover (think super airy muffin) that is basically hollow inside yet has a crispy outside and moist 'walls' inside without being soggy. Perfect to soak up your pan gravy juices!

How should you serve the roast beef?
Even though roast beef can be served warm or even at room temperature, it tastes best if served rare or medium rare doness- your outside pieces will be more done than your inside pieces. And roast beef can be served warm or slightly above room temperature for best flavor, do note that Yorkshire Pudding should be served at once and as soon as it is out of the oven.

Let me start going and get out this recipe to you before you start drooling all over your keyboard! I will share the roast beef recipe, then simply scroll down for the Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish Sauce Recipes.












Cooking Times Vary - How to know your roast beef is done and cooked properly:

  • 3.5 to 5.5 pound rib roasts should cook at 25 minutes per pound where as
  • 6 to 8 pound roasts should cook at 18 minutes per pound.
  • For a rare roast - internal temperature should reach 140 degrees
  • For a medium rare roast - internal temperature should reach 150-160 degrees
  • For a well done roast (I shouldn't even dare tell you this...170 degrees)
Ingredients for a Standing Rib Roast (Bone in or boneless):
  • One (1) Standing Rib Roast (Roast Beef)
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 8 Garlic Cloves - Cut in half - and separate - place one half into bowl for potatoe
  • Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
  • 1-2 red potatoes per person - cut into
  • 2-3 stalks of celery - cut into fourths
  • 3 carrots - with skins grated and cut into fourths
  • 2 medium sized onions - cut into eighths (or simply into chunks)
  • 1/4 cup of red wine (optional)
  • Olive Oil (Optional)


Equipment Needed:
1 shallow roasting pan, oven rack placed in the middle of your oven - though with enough room for the top of the standing rib roast to have clearance at the top.
For the roasting pan I used my Le Crueset Deep Skillet, that goes from oven to table. I also know I can put this on top of the stove later when making my best pan gravy.

Directions:
  • Take out rib roast and remove packaging paper and plastic. Let roast get the chill off of it, and let stand on your kitchen counter for at least 30 minutes.
  • Mark down how much the rib weighs. Multiply this amount by 25 minutes and the end result will be the amount of total time you will be cooking your roast beef to create a rare - medium rare roast.
  • Do note, larger than 4 pound roasts should be cooked for 30 minutes per pound, while roasts less than 4 pounds will cook faster and hence why it would take 25 minutes per pound.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. As soon as you put the roast in, you will be turning the oven down to 300 degrees.
  • Place all of the following in this order in your roasting pan: celery, carrots, onions.
  • Place rib with fat side up and ribs side down right on top of vegetables.
  • Carefully with a knife, make small slits into the meat and place have of the cut into half garlic cloves into slits.
  • Take sprig of rosemary, strip off leaves, and dice them up slightly. Put one half of minced rosemary into bowl with half of the garlic you saved for the potatoes.
  • Drizzle one or two tablespoons of olive oil over roast. With hands, rub roast, especially the sides.
  • After washing your hands, sprinkle a good amount of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper all over the roast - more than you would use on your food.
  • Sprinkle roast with remaining halve of the minced rosemary.
  • In bowl, place cut up potatoes depending upon size into 2' chunks. Place into bowl. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes, add salt and pepper and using spoon, toss potatoes till all are well coated with the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Place these potatoes around roast in your roasting pan.
  • Drizzle the 1/4 cup of red wine over your roast and put the roast into the hot 450 degree oven.
  • Immediately turn down oven to 300 degrees. Note the time you placed your rib roast beef into your oven, so you know when you should be checking for its doneness.
  • If you are making yorkshire pudding, take out your eggs now so they come to room temperature.
There is no need to baste your roast, let it do its thing in your oven. Sure go ahead and take a peek if you have to, and note that cooking it at this low temperature ensures that a lot of the 'fat' on top of the roast melts and it basically self bastes - see? Isn't it that super easy? And wait till you smell how great your house is after this roast is in the oven for an hour! Watch out!
When the time is up, take out your roast, and using a food temperature gauge, put it into the deepest part of the roast (in the middle) and stay away from fat or bones to get an accurate reading.

Do note you will have to allow this beast to rest for at least 20 minutes before you start carving AND the roast will still slightly cook - just like a roast leg of lamb once out of the oven. But this is just enough time to make pan gravy. And of course, you can let it rest for the 40 minutes required needed for the yorkshire pudding to bake.

Yorkshire Pudding Recipe:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Take out either a muffin pan or a 8x8 pan and add two tablespoons of pan drippings. Tilt pan back and forth so bottom is coated with the drippings and set aside.

Ingredients for Yorkshire Pudding:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teapsoon melted shortening (I use cooled down pan drippings)

Directions:

  1. Using electric mixer or hand mixer, beat eggs and add half of flour and half of milk.
  2. Continue to stir till well blended, add salt and remaining flour and milk. Beat until smooth and free of any lumps - maybe 2 minutes maximum.
  3. Pour into your greased muffin pans or 8x8 pan and put into oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  4. This part is hard, do no peek in the oven while it is baking - doing so with make the 'walls' of the rising yorkshire pudding fall (worse than any soufflé you ever dare try).
  5. Call troops to table just before timer is up, since you will want to bring the gorgeous light airy mass of yorkshire pudding to the table and serve it up immediately along with everything else you planned for your great dinner.

Horseradish Sauce Recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 pint of Heavy Cream
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish (in jar - not raw)
  • sprinkle of salt.
Directions:
  1. In mixer, whip up cream till think and at a 'dollop stage' in other word, where if you would take a spoon it would ever so slowly ooze itself off of the spoon
  2. Add horseradish and a bit of salt.
  3. Serve in a pretty little bowl along with your fantastic roast.
You have just learned how to make one heck of a great meal that will have your peeps talking long after the meal is over! I assure you!



One Pot Cilantro Chicken and Rice - Osh Po Lo

Also known as Osh Po Lo, we made this just last week and it was simply fantastic! My man turned me on once again! - Umm in the kitchen of course, he says the original version of the dish originates from Russia - but for now it's yet another original easy to make one-pot dish from us to you.

This is a twist of my "Basmati Rice Oh So Nice" recipe you have seen here. You can substitute the chicken for lamb, pork or beef even sausage! Enjoy!
Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 3 cups water (or make 1 cup of the three chicken broth)
  • 3/4 pound of raw boneless breast of chicken, cut up into 1" sized bites
  • 1 large onion - diced
  • 1 cup carrots - shredded fresh carrots (roughly 4-5 carrots)
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 bunch of large cilantro - rinsed well
  • 4-5 scallions minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ****Equipment Needed:
  • One Pot with lid, 2 paper towels and hungry crowd

Directions:
  1. In Pot, pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil and put heat under pan on medium.
  2. Add diced onions and let sweat for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Once onions are almost translucent, add chicken and with wood spatula (preferred) stir chicken around pot till almost cooked and no longer looking pink. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil if you have to.
  4. Add garlic and cook for one minute more.
  5. Add rice (no water yet) and all remaining seasons - leaving some of the scallions and chopped cilantro for plating.
  6. Stir rice well into mixture making sure it is well coated with the olive oil and seasonings.
  7. Cook for two minutes, stirring the whole time.
  8. Next add your water and/or broth. Do not stir!
  9. Let come to a boil, then turn down heat till on very low.
  10. Place lid on top and set time for 10 minutes.
  11. After ten minutes, with a spoon, gently push rice aside and check on water - has all water evaporated? - Then move onto next step. If not, let cook a few minutes moire, till all the water has evaporated.
  12. OK, take those 2 paper towels folding them over in half and place on top of pot, just under lid. Put lid back on pot over paper towels.
  13. This will allow any extra steam to be soaked up by the paper towels.
  14. Let sit for five minutes and call troops to the table.
  15. When ready, fluff mixture with fork.
  16. When serving and plating add the additional cilantro and minced scallions on top of dish and serve. Enjoy with a side mixed green salad!




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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Twice As Nice Rice - Rice Stuffing as a Side Dish

Got Rice? Get Twice As Nice Rice.


Sometimes, we have left over rice we all hate to throw out - this recipe brings new life to a staple side dish we have often. Frankly we were going to use this left-over rice as a rice stuffing/dressing for the rosemary orange roasted
chicken I posted yesterday, but we ended up reheating the rice and adding the remaining ingredients as described below. The celery and toasted almonds add crunch while the sauteed onions add that "je ne sais quoi' factor - Besides the poor french, this dish was delicious.



Ingredients:
  • 1 -2 cups left over cooked rice - We had out 'Basmati Oh So Nice Rice' posted here which we served the previous night with the added loads of fresh minced cilantro and scallions.
  • 1 celery stalk - rinsed and minced
  • 1 onion minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh toasted almonds
  • 1/2- 1 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:
  1. Take 1 cup of boiling water and reconstitute (big word here) raisins in a heat-safe bowl so they become plump.
  2. In a skillet, sautee up the onions and celery with a little butter/olive oil or veggie oil - whatever your preference, till onions are translucent though celery still has some crunch to it. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  3. Throw almonds in same skillet and toss till toasted and set aside.
  4. Once rice is heated through, drain off raisins well then add to rice, add sauteed onions and celery and stir rice till all ingredients are combined.
  5. Sprinkle toasted almonds on top - and voila - the rice is ready for round two.
  6. You can easily put this all together and stuff your bird - add chopped toasted walnuts instead of the almonds and you got yourself one heck of a rice stuffing!
  7. Rock on with your Twice as Nice Rice!

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rosemary Orange Roasted Chicken


Here's a super nice twist on a Classic Roast Chicken Recipe Dish that will have your crowd drooling- the fresh orange flavor is subtle yet makes for one heck of a juicy bird with crispy skin as you put cut up oranges inside chicken along with onions, garlic and fresh rosemary to season the bird inside out.

The cooking method in particular as described below works great for all your chicken and turkey roasts too! You will be putting in the bird at first in at a very high temperature, then lowering the temperature then raising it one last time at the end - I have been using this method for years, and it never fails me in creating juicy meat with crispy skin - Everyone's fave way to eat chicken!


Included below are cooking times for roasting chicken as as well as making great pan gravy which can only please your hungry crowd even more.

As a side note, I forgot to throw out the carcass last night as it lay on the kitchen counter, and the dog finished the entire thing only leaving the wishbone for me in the morning - yes just the wishbone...well I think it was the wishbone though it could have been a rib bone. I am not sure what he was saying with that... except he's wishing for another rosemary orange roasted chicken tonight!

Making quick chicken broth:
A simple note, I always make quick chicken broth for making my gravy, by taking the rinsed giblets and neck from the bird and adding two cups of water into a soup pot, add salt, pepper, sage, some onion and celery and carrot and let come to boil, then turning down heat, I allow this to simmer for 1 hour as the bird is roasting. This broth is great to use as your gravy base or to use in your soups.

Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken at room temperature
  • 3 springs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 oranges sliced into about 8 pieces each.
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 medium or 1 extra large onion cut up into chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • Good amount of salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Olive oil
  • **Equipment needed: One working oven, rack in middle of oven, roasting pan (I used my le crueset 3" deep skillet.), baster


Directions:
  1. Take chicken out of refrigerator and rinse super well, let it sit out (without dog around) to let it get the chill off of it. Make note of the chicken's weight at this point and write it down for accurate cooking times as described below. You will be adding one half pound to it's total weight after stuffing it with onions, garlic and oranges.
  2. Preheat oven at 450 degrees - yes 450 - you will be roasting at this temperature for only 20 minutes, then will be turning the oven temperature down to 325 afterwards.
  3. In bowl, mix 4 tablespoons or more of olive oil, strip rosemary leaves off of two (2) sprigs and place into bowl. Add good amount of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and the ground sage. Squeeze juice of one half orange into bowl, stir contents and set aside.
  4. Generously salt and pepper inside of chicken (I like to have someone hold chicken upon it's "neck area" while I salt and pepper the inside - they never stand up for themselves during this task.
  5. Add all of the following to the inside of the bird as 'stuffing' - this will flavor the bird from the inside out making it truly scrumptious! - Put 1/2 cup onion that you have cut into large chunks, 3 cloves of garlic cut into half, 1 sprig of rosemary and 1/2 or more of a cut up orange (with skin) inside chicken.
  6. Do your best to tie up your bird (you will see a sad rendition of me roping up my chicken in the photos - somehow I have lost my roasting chicken 'fork ties' at the moment so do forgive my attempts on tying up the old jessie)
  7. Take out your roasting pan.
  8. Cut up your celery and carrots into thirds (keeping them large) and place them into roasting pan. Add the rest of your garlic cloves (keep whole) and cut up onion and the rest of the cut up oranges skin and all and lastly one last sprig of rosemary into your roasting pan.
  9. Sprinkle roasting pan 'ingredients' with a little salt and pepper and drizzle just a little olive oil over the top.
  10. I use my hands for the next task, I scoop out some of the mixture from the bowl with olive oil and seasonings and rub the back and front of the chicken - do not forget about the wings and legs - get every part of that bird coated with the olive oil mixture as if you were sending her out to the beach in the sun for the day.
  11. Once coated, place her face down (breast side down on top of all the celery, oranges, onions, etc.) in the roasting pan. The vegetables serve as the rack when roasting. If you are roasting a large bird, you may have to add more celery, onions, carrots and oranges. Add three tablespoons water to roasting pan - you can also use wine (red or white) instead of the water.
  12. Place roasting pan with chicken into hot preheated oven.
  13. Roast at 450 degrees temperature for 20 minutes, then turn down the oven to 325 degrees.
  14. Roasting times for birds 4 pounds or less (once stuffed - add half of a pound to the total weight of your bird) roast for 30-35 minutes per pound total roasting time.
  15. Roasting times for birds over 4 pounds (once stuffed - add half of a pound to the total weight of your bird) roast for 20-25 minutes per pound total roasting time.
  16. Temperature in deepest point of thigh once cooked should reach 185 degrees. Legs should wiggle easily.
  17. Last 40 minutes, take bird out and flip. Not you, the bird, carefully of course and have her face up to show off her pretty breast. Baste with juices then return bird to oven.
  18. At last 20 minutes, baste once more and kick up the heat to 400 degrees. This will crisp up the skin and by roasting it breast side down for most of the cooking time will create a very moist white meat.
  19. Take out chicken from oven.
  20. Place rack on top of carving plate and place chicken on top of rack to rest for 20 minutes so that any juices that drip fall away from the bird and through the rack and onto your carving plate allowing the skin to stay crisp. Cover with clean dish towel to keep warm. Keep chicken away from edge of counter so as to not entice doggy to take a quick peek at your incredible smelling chicken.
  21. While chicken is resting, make great pan gravy.
  22. ***To make pan gravy:
  23. In roasting pan, place on top of stove on medium heat, remove any oranges left, but leave in all the vegetables. Add 3-5 tablespoons of flour to create a rue. With whisk, stirring constantly, add 2 cups of chicken stock or broth to rue slowly at first to incorporate liquid and to help keep it lump free. Let come to a boil, add salt and pepper if necessary and remember to scrape the sides of your roasting pan to get all those little brown bits into your gravy which are total gravy 'enhancers'! Strain gravy if you would like and serve it up with your roasted chicken. You may want to serve your 'withered' roasted veggies - they are extra naughty and good.
  24. ****
  25. Once chicken has rested, remove ropes, strings, etc. and either bring to table to show off and carve right there or carve your chicken in kitchen then serve on a platter. Serve with your favorite sides, we served ours last night with steamed broccoli with garlic and olive oil
    and our 'second time around rice' which I will be posting momentarily.
  26. Enjoy the subtle taste of oranges in this roasted chicken you will find super moist and juicy. Enjoy!

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