Perhaps an Easter Surprise?

I know it’s been awhile since I blogged.  Between working on a big, overdue project, regular work, family parties and travel – I have been too busy to blog.  But, I didn’t want to leave you high and dry for Easter this weekend, so here is something the whole family will enjoy – the Monterey Soufflé Molded Tuna Salad!  It has that Easter-y look, doesn’t it?  And, that Barf-in-the-Freezer look as well!

I gave up all deep-fried foods for lent (No, I’m not Catholic, but why can’t I do it anyway?) which according to all the shit I got from friends, was the most ridiculous thing ever.  Every time I said, “Oh, I can’t have that” I got a lot of crap about how what’s the difference between fried and deep fried – why can I have diner hash browns, but not McDonald’s hash browns – what if it was deep fried tofu or broccoli, etc. etc.  It didn’t help that I have given up french fries for the entire year, which just added another layer to the conversation. Did I mention that some of my friends are assholes?

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Corned Beef Stuffed Tomato

Okay, normally I like to post vintage recipes that are revolting, but I have to admit that I have a soft spot for corned beef hash out of the can.  In fact, I am actually disappointed if I order corned beef hash at a diner and it’s homemade.  There’s something about all that salty, heart-stopping goodness that comes right out of the can looking like dog food.  (One can is 100% of your daily sodium intake!)

I bet this Corned Beef Stuffed Tomato would be perfect for Valentine’s Day!  Give it a try and let me know what your sweetie thinks.

Cheddar Paella: Take That, Spain!

I just realized that it’s been awhile since I posted one of my vintage recipes.  What was I thinking? Oh, and I’ve had a few comments berating me for not including the actual recipe and just making fun of them.  Because I guess you really want to make what I am considering a disgusting abomination of food, right?  Well, I guess I’m one to pander to my few fans  – I will now include the recipe itself.

Well, here is one in honor of the Olympics beginning today:  the Cheddar Paella.  Nothing like taking Spain’s National Dish and ruining it by putting  a couple of cups of Kraft Cheddar all over it!  Using margarine, bouillon cubes and not using olive oil are also somewhat of an atrocity.  Why not just call it “Cheezy Seafood Casserole” and avoid the offense? The saddest part is that the picture actually has the paella in an authentic paella dish, so you can’t chalk this one up to not knowing what they are messing with.

America, fuck yeah!

CHEDDAR PAELLA
from the 1973 McCalls Great American Recipe Card Collection

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS
1 dozen small clams, in shell
2 lb shrimp, deveined and shelled
4 Tbs salad oil
1 Tbs margarine
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 green peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 large tomatoes. peeled
½ cup pimiento green olives, sliced
2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash clams and shrimp thoroughly.  Place clams in saucepan with 6 cups water; bring to boiling.  Ad shrimp; cook over high heat 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Pour off enough shellfish liquid to make 2 ¼ cups.  Set aside clams and shrimp in remaining broth. Keep warm.
  3. Heat 2 Tbs salad oil and butter in 3-quart saucepan.  Add rice and stir to coat well.  Add reserved 2 ¼ cups liquid, salt, bay leaf and bouillon cube; bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered without stirring, 25 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F.  Meanwhile, in 2 Tbs hot oil in 6 quart Dutch oven, sauté garlic, onion and green pepper until green pepper is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Chop tomatoes, add to sautéed vegetables with olives, paprika and cayenne pepper; cook 5 minutes longer.  Keep warm.
  6. Drain shellfish, add with rice to tomato mixture; stir gently to blend.  Turn into paella pan or shallow 4-quart casserole pan.
  7. Sprinkle cheese over top and bake 10-15 minutes in preheated oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Foods I Love: Croque Madame

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There is nothing better on this Earth than a really good Croque Madame.  I had my first Croque Madame via room service in the Sofitel Hotel in Chicago.  It was heavenly and I have been searching for one as good as that one in the US since.  They have since taken it off the menu at the Sofitel, so the search goes on.  (I did have a few while in France last year, and as with anything else, some were incredible and some were inedible.)  All in all, it’s a hard sandwich to screw up – as long as you use the right ingredients – since it’s basically a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich.

The original grilled sandwich, minus the fried egg on top, is known as a Croque Monsieur – which loosely translates into “Mister Crunch.”  The Croque Madame has the fried egg, which resembles a little hat, or so the story goes.  It is not true that a Croque Madame is made with chicken instead of ham or mornay sauce instead of béchamel.  The only difference between the two is the egg – but to me it makes all the difference in the world.

  • TRADITIONAL CROQUE MADAME
    Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
    Serves 4
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 8 slices sweet batard bread, each 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 8 slices Black Forest or Jambon de Paris ham
  • 4 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is pale golden, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Simmer, continuing to whisk, until the sauce is smooth and thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 tsp. salt plus black pepper and nutmeg, to taste. Set the béchamel sauce aside.
  2. Preheat a panini press to 375ºF or medium according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Brush one side of each bread slice with oil. Place the slices, oiled side down, on a clean work surface. Spread the mustard on 4 of the slices and top each with 2 slices of ham, folding the ham if necessary to keep it even with the edges of the bread. Spread the béchamel sauce evenly over the ham and sprinkle the cheese on top, dividing evenly. Top each with one of the remaining bread slices, oiled side up.
  4. Place the sandwiches on the preheated panini press and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. When the butter foams, break the eggs into the pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart. If using egg rings, spray the inside of 4 rings with nonstick cooking spray, place in the pan and break an egg into each ring. Season the eggs with salt and black pepper. Cook until the whites are firm, about 3 minutes. Remove the egg rings, if using. Flip the eggs over and continue cooking until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are still runny, about 1 minute more.
  6. Slide an egg onto each sandwich, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Green Goddess Chicken Salad

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I realized that it’s been awhile since I posted a real recipe!  I made this last week for dinner, and I have to say it was absolutely delicious.  It was the cover shot on this month’s Food & Wine magazine.  It’s not an every day meal, as I wouldn’t call it exactly “diet friendly” but sometimes you just gotta enjoy things that are good, regardless. (It’s especially good if you use fresh herbs from the garden, like I did.)    Don’t skip the anchovies – even if you don’t like them – it is intergral to the taste of the dressing.  Also, I couldn’t find piquillo peppers to save my life, so I used pickled cherry peppers instead.

Enjoy!

GREEN GODDESS CHICKEN SALAD

SERVES 6

Ingredients:

2 oil-packed anchovies, drained
1 garlic clove
1/2 c. packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1 TBS. fresh oregano leaves
3/4 c. mayonnaise
2 1/2 TBS  fresh lemon juice
2 TBS fresh snipped chives
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. loaf of ciabatta, bottom crust removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 2 lb. rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat pulled into bite size pieces
3 inner celery ribs, with leaves, thinly sliced
8 piquillo peppers from jar, drained and quartered
1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives, halved

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the anchovies, garlic, parsley, basil, and oregano until coarsely chopped. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and process until smooth. Fold in the chives; season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the ciabatta with the chicken, piquillo peppers, celery and olives. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Make Ahead:

The dressing can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated.

Island Food: Beef Pate Recipe

pate

One of my favorite things to be found in the Caribbean is pate (pah-tay – not to be confused with French pâté).  Known all over the Caribbean by many different names: patties, empanadas, pastelitos – they are known as pates in the Virgin Islands and Haiti.  Basically a Caribbean Hot Pocket, the pate can be stuffed with a variety of fillings such as chicken, conch, saltfish, goat or cheese – but my favorite is the beef pate.

The best place is St. John to get pates is Hurcules Pate Delight, located in a small white shack across from the Lumberyard in Cruz Bay.  The proprietors aren’t always the nicest, but it’s worth putting up with a little attitude to get your hands on one of their delights.  Also, the Mojo Cafe has started selling pates, although I haven’t had one from there yet, so I can’t comment on how good it is.  But, hell – it’s deep fried meat – how can it be bad?

West Indian Beef Pates 

Dough:

  • 5 cups flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • ¼ to ½ cup water

Pate filling:

  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 small stick celery, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons green bell pepper, chopped
  • Dash oregano
  • Dash black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • Dash parsley flakes
  • Dash garlic powder
  • ¼ small hot pepper, chopped (or to taste)

METHOD / DIRECTIONS:

 

To make dough:

Place flour, shortening, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add enough water to make dough. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes. Let dough sit for 20 minutes.

To make ground meat filling:

Cook beef in a large frying pan with onion, celery, bell pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, parsley flakes, salt, tomato paste, Kitchen Bouquet and hot pepper. Continue cooking until ground beef is well cooked and vegetables are tender. Stir often while cooking to blend ingredients well. Use a large strainer to remove excess fat from the meat mixture. Divide dough into two pieces. Roll flat and place 1-1/2 tablespoons of ground beef mixture into center of flattened dough. Fold dough over filling using a fork to seal ends so that the filling is completely sealed inside like a turnover. Use dough cutter to cut excess dough around the pate to give an even shape. Deep fry in vegetable oil or shortening at 360 degrees until golden brown.

Foods I Love: Biscuits & Gravy

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Lord help me, but how I love a big plate of Biscuits & Gravy.  Could there be anything worse for you on the planet?  No, that’s why it tastes so good.

Biscuits and Gravy is the quintessential Southern breakfast – made with fluffy hot biscuits and white floury gravy over the top.  The gravy must have the perfect mixture of grease and spice, as there is nothing worse than gloppy, tasteless white glue atop your biscuits.  And, you must have your biscuits and gravy from either a well-versed Southern home cook, or a small greasy spoon diner – if you eat biscuits and gravy out of a box from the supermarket, then I am afraid you are a tool.

I searched the web for a good biscuits and gravy recipe, and figured the best one would be from Southern Living as their readers wouldn’t stand for an inferior version.  Enjoy!

 

Gravy:

Yield

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 8  ounces  pork sausage
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/3  cups  milk
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  pepper

Preparation

Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Remove sausage, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet.

Whisk flour into hot drippings until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened. Stir in sausage, salt, and pepper.

 

Biscuits:

Yield

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup  cold butter
  • 2 1/4  cups  self-rising soft-wheat flour
  • 1 1/4  cups  buttermilk
  • Self-rising soft-wheat flour
  • 2  tablespoons  melted butter

Preparation

1. Cut butter with a sharp knife or pastry blender into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle butter slices over flour in a large bowl. Toss butter with flour. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Cover and chill 10 minutes. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over onto itself in 3 sections, starting with 1 short end. (Fold dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper.) Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing into a 3/4-inch-thick dough rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches).

3. Press or pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place, side by side, on a parchment paper-lined or lightly greased jelly-roll pan. (Dough rounds should touch.)

4. Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; brush with 2 Tbsp. melted butter.