Wing’en It!

I confess – I love chicken wings!  Bold, spicy, fall off the bone chicken wings. They are a simple food, an inexpensive food.  My favorite way to have them is the timeless “Buffalo” style.  There are several stories as to the beginnings of this now famous tasty treat. Also the arguments of breaded or naked – this recipe is taking the middle ground on that question.

My love for these delectable delicacies began almost 20 years ago.  I had just moved to the D.C. area and the partner of an Army buddy I had served with made these amazing buffalo wings.  He gave me the recipe.  I then made them for an office function and became the go-to guy for office pot lucks.  People would give me extra money to make an extra side bit for them to take home.

The last time I made them, I was awake and frying until 1:30 in the morning.  20 pounds of chicken wings cleaned, cut, floured, fried, sauced and baked.  While I was the most popular fella for bringing the most coveted dish at the bash; each time I was asked to make more and more of them.  Either I had to open my own catering business, you know something like “Larry’s Luscious Wing World” or stop making them for office parties.  The latter was the path of least resistance.

I have been in search of a simpler method for these delectable delights and I think I have found it.  I was looking through one of my favorite recipe sites, “AllRecipes.com” and found this recipe.  It is simple and produces an almost perfect buffalo wing. Best of all, you’re not in the kitchen all day.

Ingredients

    * 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    * 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    * 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 20 chicken wings
    * 1/2 cup melted butter
    * 1/2 cup hot pepper sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot®)

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with cooking spray. Place the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt into a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix.  Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coated with the flour mixture. Place the wings onto the prepared baking sheet, and place into the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  3. Whisk together the melted butter and hot sauce in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the butter mixture, and place back on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.
  4. Be the hit of every “pot luck” party! 

Bon appetit!

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I Go Coconut…Let’s Just Leave It At That

Each of us has a food memory that brings us home.  One of mine is this cookie my mother used to make.  It is a Coconut crisp cookie with oatmeal.  This has got to be one of my favorites, heck it might even edge out my standard cookie love – the basic Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie.

It should be understood that I don’t bake often – it is far too much like real science.  I think my fear stems from a recipe gone horribly wrong in a high school cooking class. Damn those potato pancakes!  Little buggers were like glue. I had every kitchen appliance sticking to my hands like I was magnetized.  Now some would say potato pancakes are not “baking”.  You may be right, but convince my subconscious of it and we’ll both be better for it.

Anyway, back to the all important cookie.  This one has also earned a great reputation for dunking.  Coffee, milk or tea really makes no difference to this little fella as it holds up very nicely to them all.  I must admit that my mother had a knack with cookies.  The Toll House could get almost wafer thin with I loved and cannot seem to duplicate; these coconut cookies were amazingly crunchy when she made them and mine seem to be more cake like.  Before you wonder – yes we use the very same recipe.  Speaking of which, here it is – Tada!

Ingredients:

2 C. Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Baking Soda
2 C. Coconut
3 1/3 C. Sugar
5 C. Oatmeal
1 1/2 C. Butter or Margarine
4 Eggs
3 t. Vanilla Extract
2 t. Salt ( suggest 1 1/2 teaspoons, but try it out first)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the sugar and butter until light. Beat in one egg at a time, then mix in the vanilla and the remaining dry ingredients.

Drop by teaspoon on an un-greased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for about 15 minutes.  Let cool on a rack.  Enjoy!

Posted in coconut, cookie, oatmeal | 1 Comment

A Tisket, A Tasket, An Egg In A Basket?

To your left you see what is called, “egg in a basket” or “egg in a hole”.  I have added this to our week day breakfast menu as a deliciously simple and quick meal for my spouse.  He really enjoys it and so do I as it is easy to do when you’re not quite awake.  I also find that if you use a nice whole grain bread it tastes wonderful toasted or grilled.  You also want to be sure to toast the little bit you cut out of the center of the bread.

A variation I will try next time is this.  As you crack the egg and begin to let the white part fall into the hole, stop it just long enough to place a small bit of sharp cheese, either an aged cheddar or some nice blue cheese into the hole, then let the rest of the egg drop.  This way, the eater will get some nice melted cheese and flavor in the center of the egg.  What a nice little surprise!  Be sure to let the cheese come to room temperature before starting the dish.

To make this, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Heat pan to a medium setting – my stove runs a bit hot, so I do a medium low.
  2. Cut a hole in the very center of the bread.
  3. Butter both sides of the bread including the bit you cut out.
  4. Place bread in pan and break one egg into the center hole.  Be sure to put your cut out bit in the pan as well to toast it.
  5. Let it toast until nicely brown and then flip. (hint here – if egg is not cooking quickly enough, give it a quick steam with a few drops of water and a lid, then flip. Don’t steam too long or it gets soggy.)
  6. Flip to other side (don’t forget your little center bit to flip as well) Remember this side will not take as long to cook.  You can serve with a one or two thin slices of smoked ham or “Canadian Bacon”.  As a side note, I’ve never seen Canadian bacon here in Canada.

When I first started to make this, I told my partner it was “toad in the hole”, but found out when I was going to pen this posting that this item to your right is the actual toad in the hole.

Also, I tried to find a more definitive history of this simple dish and could not find anything just yet.  Once I do, I’ll write about it again – but for now, just enjoy a simple and fairly healthy breakfast.

The history of “toad in the hole” is a bit easier:  It derives from the British and was first made with bits of left over meat.  May have been why it got a bad rep.  1) It was a way for the poor to make food stretch, 2) Sometimes left over bits of meat were not always the tastiest bits.

It is thought that the use of the sausage came about as the more affluent people started to eat the dish.  They could well afford a nice sausage.  It is a basic Yorkshire pudding with sausage and a bit of gravy drizzeled on top when served.

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So Tell Me, How Do You Veal?

I’ve never done much with veal at home.  Thought I would give this a try.  It’s a very nice veal with cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  According to the “Veal Information Gateway” website:

“Veal: gram for gram, contains less calories and half the fat of lean beef, yet contains similar amounts of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of protein, vitamin B12 and zinc.”

More often than not, I would only have veal when dining out.  Never really thought of it as something I make at home. Not sure why but that has been the way of it.  What’s confounding about this is the fact that veal is an easy meat to prepare, although it is just as easy to over cook.  Otherwise it is a fast, fresh and healthy meal.  The dish I prepared last night was very light and made a wonderful summer dish.  Served with rice and a salad of mixed greens and ground cherries.  I would suggest that pasta is the best way to enjoy it.  The light sauce with pasta would have been lovely.

While veal can be costly – the four small veal cutlets I prepared last night cost a bit over 11 dollars. (CDN)   When looking at them, one might think that it would not be enough; I assure you it was and we left the table very satisfied indeed.  I did add some extra spice to the flour dredge.  I added some cayenne pepper and chipotle chili pepper powder.  I should mention as well that I had not realized my cupboard was bare of basil, so I used bay leaf instead which worked very well.  I had gotten this recipe from the Internet, but sadly forgot what site it was from.  I will endeavor to keep better track of my sources. Bon apetit!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound thinly sliced veal cutlets
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 10 to 15 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 4 large basil leaves, chopped, or about 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil

Preparation:

Pound the cutlets gently to thin to about 1/8-inch thickness; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge cutlets in flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the cutlets for about 2 to 3 minutes, turning once. Remove the cutlets to a plate and keep warm. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for about 2 minutes; add garlic and sauté for a few more seconds.

Add chicken broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes to reduce by about a third. Add the veal, green onions, tomatoes, and basil; cover and simmer for 1 minute longer.
Serve with hot cooked pasta or potatoes.
Serves 4.

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Time to Tea Up

Hold in your mind as you sip your next cup of tea, that this often simple liquid’s journey began thousands of years ago. It humbly, aromatically, warmly sits in your cup infusing you with its sometimes mystical properties. Legend says this journey began in China in the year 2737 when an Emperor stopped to rest on a long journey. His servants were boiling some water and leaves from a wild tea bush fell into the water; the curious Emperor drank this new found beverage and found it not only pleasing but invigorating.

In the 1600s tea made its way to the American colonies. Tea remained a very popular beverage despite the “Tea Party” held in Boston. The race between tea and coffee is on going and will most likely remain so.

Each few years one ratchets itself up past the other in consumption. Once again we find ourselves at a time when tea, truly good tea is being sought out by many Americans. So, how to choose a great tea? You should note that I did not say “blend” as there are only 4 types of tea. There is black, green, white and oolong. The flavors you might get in the local store such as citrus etc. are simply that. They are flavors added to the tea – but all begin with one of the four teas I mentioned above.

When you choose a tea, you must understand your needs and why you want the tea. Each has properties unique unto themselves.  Don’t forget that tea can be a wonderful and surprising addition to your marinades too.

Black tea has been used throughout history for medical purposes, long before it became a breakfast tea. It helps relieve diarrhea, lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent tooth decay. The tea has a therapeutic effect on gastric and intestinal illnesses because of its tannins, which decrease intestinal activity and exerts an anti-diarrheal effect. To get the maximum benefit for diarrhea, let the tea steep for a full 15 minutes. This releases a good amount of tannins, also drink it unsweetened.

Green tea possesses numerous compounds that have antioxidant and health-enhancing properties. One of the main compounds is the bioflavonoid catechin. Catechin works both alone and in conjunction with other flavonoids found in the tea and has both defense-supporting and free radical-scavenging properties. Recently, numerous scientific research studies have been published supporting the intake of green tea. Several of these studies conclude that green tea has heart-health benefits. Other studies show promise balancing overall health. Although these studies need additional supporting research to confirm their conclusions, it is clear that modern science is starting to prove what traditional Chinese health practitioners have known all along: green tea enhances our body and mind in many, many ways.

White tea is high in antioxidants, aids in detoxifying the body, studies show white tea is excellent for skin/complexion reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Oolong tea Studies show that drinking Oolong during or after a high-cholesterol meal has been shown to lower the intake of fat content in the blood. Promotes healthy teeth, skin and bones.

The more I find out, the more I understand that tea is more than a beverage, it is a healing herb that also passes as a beverage.  Another tip – grind Oolong tea and add to your black pepper and use for a rub on steak.  It adds some amazing flavor.
Well, I think it’s time to go brew a cup of tea and this moment calls for green as there is much to be done today and I will need a clear mind.
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Hey Mac, Your Cheese is Showing

Cheese is one of the oldest made foods dating back to the prehistoric beginnings of herding. According to “The Penguin Companion to Food”, by Alan Davidson – the earliest records of milking come from some cave paintings in the Libyan Sahara dating from 5000 BC or before and show what appears to be cheese making. It goes on to say that actual cheese had been found in an Egyptian tomb of about 3000 B.C. Our love affair with cheese in all its forms is long and wondrous.

Last night I made “Mac & Cheese”. This recipe was different than the one I normally use as I wanted to try something different, not so heavy as my usual dish. It is important to note before we go any further. A good melting cheese should be high in fat. Remember also to only heat it enough to melt and blend with your sauce. Over heating will most likely cause it to begin to coagulate and then you have a stringy mess – so keep it below 140 F or 60 C. Using a soft moist cheese for the best result.

The recipe I used this time was found in a Food Network magazine. I did however make a few changes. I added 1 can of lump crab meat, 4 green onions and a few shakes of Tabasco. Below is the recipe as it is in the magazine. You can see my result in the pics in this posting.

Three-Cheese Macaroni

Ingredients:

* 1 large egg
* 1 12-ounce can evaporated whole milk
* Pinch of cayenne pepper
* Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 1/3 cups grated muenster cheese (4 ounces), plus 4 deli-thin slices (1 ounce)
* 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
* 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
* 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (4 cups)
* 4 cups medium pasta shells (9 ounces)

Directions

Whisk the egg, evaporated milk, cayenne, nutmeg, and salt and black pepper to taste in a bowl. Toss the grated cheeses in a separate bowl.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook until almost falling apart, about 7 minutes.

Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the pasta to the same water and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.

Preheat the broiler. Combine the egg mixture and the grated cheeses in the empty pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheeses melt and the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and add the cauliflower. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth and light (you can also use a regular blender).

Stir in some of the reserved pasta water until creamy. Toss the pasta in the sauce; season with salt and black pepper.

Transfer to a shallow casserole dish and top with muenster slices. Broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Serves 6

Posted in Cheese, Crab, Mac and Cheese | 2 Comments

Brave the Brussels Sprout

Brussels sprouts have been growing in North American gardens since the early 1800’s. It is known that Thomas Jefferson had them in his garden in 1812. It is said they hail from classical times and they have been mentioned in the 13th century as well. They were a favorite wedding feast dish in the Burgundian court at Lille in the 15th century.

As a child, I loved them. One of the few vegetables that I did like. I was not then or am I now a fan of many veggies. I do try though.

The recipe below is one of my most favorite ways to enjoy Brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Maple Syrup

1 large, crisp apple, peeled and cut into bite-sized wedges
1 lemon, juice only
Few pinches of fine-grain sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil (or as much as is needed)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (more or less)
12 ounces (3/4 pound). Brussels sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons

Soak the apples in a bowl filled with water and the juice of one lemon.

I like to sauté the garlic and shredded sprouts together in a wok, but you can use any large frying pan. So, when the pan or wok is hot, add the oil and then the sprouts and garlic with the pinch of sea salt. Careful not to burn the garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes or so – then add the diced apples and cook until the spouts begin go wilt a bit and the apple bits become slightly soft, but not too soft as the sweet crunch is very nice indeed.

At the very end, just before plating – drizzle with the maple syrup and toss in the pan. Once you’ve made the dish, you can either add or subtract more or less maple syrup. It will depend on how sweet you like the dish to be. You should remember though that Brussels sprouts do not keep their flavor long – so serve immediately. I don’t mind leftovers on this dish though, but that may be just me, they can tend to become a bit bitter when left too long.

If you wish you can add things like bacon, pine nuts or raisins. Use your imagination.

Enjoy!

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Posted in apples, brussel, brussels sprouts, maple syrup | Leave a comment