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Thursday, September 30, 2010

glazed and shiny.

      Delicious,sweet glazed goodness.It was slightly crispy around the edges,fell apart when I took the first bite and one pretty classy main dish.

       You were thinking about doughnuts...and sadly enough while I typed that I too was thinking about doughnuts.In fact,if let loose I could make a meal out of doughnuts or at least be a little sick to my stomach and suffer from sort of sugar spike.Oh good grief, give me a pot of coffee and a box of doughnut holes (which are fairly deceiving) and I will not be worth much to anyone,but hey we all have our weaknesses.
Yeah oohhh pretty shiny,glazed salmon,please disregard the cordless phone base to right,thank you.

      Mentioning weaknesses,I now have a new salmon recipe. I found the recipe in the pages of the April 2010 issue of Bon Appetit . I fell for the picture of the salmon on the cover pretty quickly. 

    In my slow,but steady attempt to make the cover recipe for each Bon Appetit issue,I welcomed a new salmon recipe to the mix and learned the difference between snap peas and snow peas.It's the little things that make it all worthwhile.
    
    I set out to make Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze,Sugar Snap Peas, and Pea Tendrils for family dinner night. I made my grocery list and ventured out to pick up the snap peas,figure out what this sweet chili sauce was and search out pea tendrils.So...yeah what had happened was, I found what I thought were snap peas,oh no, they were snow peas.I didn't realize this until I am sitting with my family eating this wonderful produce and a family member that shall remain nameless,brought me to the realization that these yes, were in fact snow peas. Score one for me.I could not find the pea tendrils and in the interest of authenticity, I could have looked harder,but I didn't, we made it through just fine none to worry.On a slightly more encouraging note,the sweet chili sauce,now that stuff is alright by me.I had a feeling I had eaten it before with some crab wontons at Pei Wei,but when I found that bottle of sweet,peppery sauce at the grocery,I was sure of it! Now that might go well on a doughnut... oh the doughnut thoughts just keep on rollin' in.  
      The salmon with the sweet chili glaze,snow peas minus the pea tendrils was just delightful. I like salmon and when I saw this cover recipe was thrilled to find another salmon recipe to make and enjoy. Hooray for great recipe from the folks at Bon Appetit and now off tho pick up some doughnuts...ooohh maybe even a few with sprinkles.
Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze,Sugar Snap Peas and Pea Tendrils
Bon Appetit,April 2010
Ingredients:
nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
3 TL soy sauce,divided
2 TBL finely grated peeled fresh ginger,divided
6 6-ounce salmon filets with skin
2 TBL vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves,minced
8 ounces sugar snap peas,trimmed
1 1/2 TBL Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
3 cups pea tendrils or pea sprouts
1 TBL Asian sesame oil
Directions:
1. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk chili sauce,2 TBL soy sauce, and 1 TBL ginger in a small bowl. Place salmon filets,skin side down,on prepared sheet. Spoon the chili sauce marinade over each filet and let stand at room temperature for 30  minutes.
2. Preheat broiler. Spoon any marinade remaining on baking sheet over salmon filets.Broil salmon without turning until browned in spots and almost opaque in center,6-10 minutes,depending on the thickness of the filet.
3. Meanwhile,heat vegetable oil in wok or heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 TBL ginger and minced garlic;stir until aromatic,about 30 seconds. Add sugar snap peas and stir until crisp tender,about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1TBL soy sauce,rice wine, and pea tendrils and stir just until wilted,about 1 minute. Drizzle with sesame oil.
4. Place 1 salmon filet on each plate. Spoon warm pea mixture over salmon filets and serve.ENJOY!


Monday, September 27, 2010

New classics.

  Now this folks was a meal...after a long Saturday of canning,making some pretty fantastic jam I might add .
we took a leap of faith on the recommendations of a few folks and got some dang fine take-out. The wonderful,simple,fresh meal pictured came from a little known place,well at least to us,called Panda Garden. It's on Summer Ave. between Highland and Graham. Now I'm no super-duper, bonafide hot and sour soup taste tester,BUT I do know a pretty amazing bowl of soup when I meet one. The bowl of soup I quickly consumed,hit the spot. It has a rich broth,spicy kick and oh good gracious do you see all the goodness in that bowl. Every single bite was filled with flavor and a spoonful to fill your belly.We also fell for the spring rolls that evening hook,line and sinker ,the crispy,hot and slightly crunchy spring rolls add a little spicy mustard with each bite,I tell you what I was finished.We are now hooked and using a little restraint not to order some every weekend. AND! if this deal can't get any better as far as the money is concerned,thats the real treat. It was a steal and made for fully bellies,big satisfied smiles and was a perfect dinner for date night,classic.
Talk about a classic,this is the stuff.So...um, it's known around my family and friends that I can be ...well a bit snobbish,picky you might say when it comes to coffee.Long ago,in a land far far away I worked for a pretty well-known coffee company that serves some of the best coffee ever,yep ever.I was treated to some great cups of coffee and much to my snobbish surprise guess what... there are other kinds of coffee out in the world.I know right big shocker,well Cafe Bustelo you had me at the first sip. It's rich,dark,full-bodied and equally as satisfying as that hot and sour soup I mentioned earlier.I add just a little sugar and enough cream to change the color,find the couch and a good magazine . Talk about a classic weekend,good take-out and a big ol' cup of good coffee. Perfect.

Monday, September 20, 2010

humility in a bowl

   Yeah sure it looks like an innocent,bright yellow,simple vegetable peeler...and sure it seems pretty harmless. It it is pretty harmless if you only need a little zest for say this handy homemade lemon handscrub . (And let me tell you that homemade scrub is a two-for-one special,not only is amazing on your hands after you've worked in the yard all day,it's even better on your feet. See what a deal.)
   I know a little zest goes a long way. The oils in citrus zest are potent and the smell is lemony-bright and all that, but when you commit yourself to making marmalade,oh lawdy put on your big girl boots it's gettin' serious.I found this fantastic little website called foodinjars.com and talk about some canning. I think this lady knows her canning and she makes some pretty good-lookin food too!
( I know,I know it's gotten back to canning again,well not so fast. Good,fresh-baked things are yet to come.)
  So I've been making all kinds of jam and preserves and jellies and figured it was time to try my hand at marmalade.(Go ahead,sing the song. I mentioned my next canning adventure to my close friends and they broke out into song,I know you know the song...) I have tried marmalade before and well when you taste it it's not immediately sweet,you are immediately wrapped up in citrus and if you're not prepared it can catch you off guard. I was caught off guard,but! in the interest of future Christmas-present recipients I forged ahead. I took a brief phone survey of a few family and friends and most folks can handle the intensity that marmalade brings. Enough said I was going to make two different kinds. Talk about forging ahead,geez. (more on the second kind later,we'll stick to the traditional for now)   I found a delightful recipe on my new favorite canning blog, foodinjars.com and was off to buy the citrus. I gathered my jars,set up the canner and I was off.
 This friends is humility in a bowl. If you have ever wondered what humility in a bowl looked like,well there it is. I had gotten so wrapped up in my canning shenanigans that I had no idea what was about to hit,or shall I say scuff up my poor knuckle on my left thumb. Good gracious,I tell ya. It doesn't look like much in that bowl.,but folks big-girl boots and all, I worked for that pile of zest. The marmalade turned out pretty darn fine and it really does wrap you in citrus. It's just sweet enough to be marmalade and bursts with citrus,it's like a sunrise... see the jam is that good folks.I think it will be even better on this breakfast classic. I make these biscuits all the time and really they are fine all by themselves,BUT add a little sunrise,I mean three-citrus marmalade on there and I'm talkin heaven on a biscuit.I think a biscuit that taste that good might even make my left thumb feel better.ENJOY!
Best Drop Biscuits
America's Test Kitchen 2009 tv show companion cookbook
page 195
makes 12 biscuits
Ingredients:
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup cold buttermilk
(if buttermilk is not available,mix 1 cup milk with
1 TBL lemon juice and let stand for 10 minutes)
8 TBL (one whole stick) unsalted butter,melted and cooled slightly
(about 5 minutes),plus 2 TBL melted butter for brushing the tops
of the biscuits
Directions:
1.Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (cold butter makes great glue to hold
the paper down).Whisk together the flour,baking powder,baking soda,sugar and salt in a large bowl.Combine the buttermilk and 8 TBL of the metled butter in a medium bowl ,stirring until the butter forms small clumps.
2.Add the buttermilk to the flourmixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated and the batter pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Using a greased 1/4 cup dry measure scoop,greased lightly with cooking spray,scoop out level amount of batter drop on to prepared baking sheer.Repeat with the rest of the batter.Bake until the tops are golden brown and crisp,12-14 minutes.Brush with remaiming 2 TBL of melted butter. Dang these are good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A little wiser.

      With my 30th birthday looimng on the horizon I had big plans to write something thought-provoking,maybe sentimental or heck...even some meaningful words of wisdom to inspire,but time is of the essence and I got birthday plans to make Let's be honest, I would bore you to sleep. It'd be a good nap and gosh knows after 30 years on this planet I need a nap too!
    Oh, who am I kidding I don't take naps that much.I let the thought of  napping run through my head and about the same time I find something else to cook,can or read about cooking or cannning and the thought of taking a snooze has past me by. Such an event happened this past Sunday and really those couple of hours were quite productive and frutiful,now talk about inspiration.
    I had decided to make just two more canning recipes that afternoon,much to the dismay of my husband.Bless his heart he helps me clean up after these sorts of adventures. I tell ya the man is a saint.So, off I went, I made six jars of this savory deliciousness and then well, I hit a road block.See now earlier in the day I made my mind up I wanted to make a certain recipe tomato jelly that called for dry-packed sundried tomatoes.Well after 3 trips to local grocery stores here in town,I couldn't find them. I could have traveled all over creation,found them and been off on my merry way. Nope,I was "slightly" fatigued and had 20 plum tomatoes,I was going to be creative with.I went home,found a bag of dried New Mexico chiles ( which I had purchased mistakenly for another canning adventure ),there was my inspiration.I figured these were in the same ballpark sort of as sun-dried tomatoes and I was determined to make SOMETHING.     
           I made New Mexico Pepper Jelly.It took some patience to get the steps completed,a little guidance from folks that know way more about this canning stuff and a little faith.See look some words to inspire and you're still awake,you make me proud.The jelly is the color of a copper penny,it has a real savory/sweet side to it and it wraps it all up with a little heat just for fun.Gosh I'm proud,kinda like my folks will be tomorrow around 3:12pm. They got a cute little baby girl. I have pepper jelly and a recipe I created and for now... that suits me just fine.
Here's the recipe,enjoy!
New Mexico Pepper Jelly

Makes 5 half-pint jars OR 10 4oz jars
Adapted from my brain and Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Ingredients:
8cups sliced cored plum tomatoes
5 dried (dry packed) New Mexico chiles, halved thru
width of the pepper
¼ cup dried basil
1 TBL dried rosemary
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
½ cup lemon juice
5 cups granulated sugar
2 pouches (each 3oz( liquid pectin
Directions:
1.In a large stainless-steel saucepan, combine plum tomatoes, halved New Mexico chiles basil ,rosemary, balsamic vinegar and garlic cloves .Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing fresh tomatoes with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon until peppers are softened. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Then put the pot back over medium heat, add 4 cups water. Bring it back up to a boil, reduce the heat and let boil for 30 minutes more.
2.Transfer tomato/pepper mixture to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl .Let drip undisturbed for 30 minutes. Measure 2 cups tomato/pepper juice. ( After time is up and you find that you do not have the 2 cups, feel free to GENTLY press on the tomato/pepper mixture to extract more juice until you get your 2 full cups. Let the mixture rest into between each pressing. If you find this still hasn’t given you all the juice you need, transfer back into a medium saucepan and add 2 cups water again, bring to a boil and transfer back to the strainer and press some more, you get your 2cups after all this ,promise.)
3.Transfer tomato/pepper juice to a clean, large deep stainless steel saucepan Stir in the lemon juice and sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.Stir in pectin. Boil hard for 1-3 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam( as it cools it will form a skin of foam on top, skim off that stuff!)
4.Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met ,the increase to finger-tip tight.
5. Place jars in a boiling-water bath canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove jars and let cool and store.








Monday, September 13, 2010

it's finally,almost,maybe fall

 Yep,so about this time of year a few things happen I am certain of : 1. I turn another year older...this year's a big one peeps,oh good grief,lookout I'm goin to be 30 years old. Now from what I understand 30 was a pretty great year for some people around me and others it wasn't that thrilling. I'm pretty cool with turning 30,28 and 29 weren't all they were cracked up to be so come on 30! 2. It's time to go purse shopping with some of my birthday monies. I always buy two purses a year,one purse around spring time ( with a little springtime/summertime pizzaz) to last me until the fall and then one purse around the fall ( with a warm cozy feel to hold all my randomness in the bottom of that purse) to last me until spring. And finally 3. I start to summon cooler fall weather.Like I've said before Memphis summers last well into September and oh goodness Kroger has already got out the pumpkins. So there see,if Kroger has gotten pumpkins ready to sell then it's fall. Yep bring on the cooler weather,hardly-any-humidity-please,macaroni and cheese-on the menu-after-raking-leaves-in-the-yard,break-out-the-hot-tea,save-on-your-utilities-for-just-a-few-months-and-turn-off-the-air conditioner FALL WEATHER!
    Now no it's not time just yet to break out the scarves and get those extra thick socks on your feet,but just cool enough to enjoy a piece of this goodness with a big ol' cup of tea ( yeah this is going on the menu again this year,it's soooo good) and maybe a big bowl of this fall classic with a frosty glass of Killian's ( oh gracious,talk about a lazy night with absolutely no ironing of any laundry after this meal) or heck even work on this while the taco soup cooks,this stuff straight out of the oven can warm up anyone,,bottom line.(and yes,I brought cream cheese into this,it's really the glue that holds me together,well that and coffee and my husband's patience...). So it's time to enjoy the last few summer cookouts,put up those neon pink flip flops,that awesome tropical print shirt and in your own time the beach towel,take your time I can wait...and break out the flannel blanket, that summer reading that's now turned into fall reading and let's settle into the blessings of fall. Enjoy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

what a cool find.

This little gadget is quite handy.You insert the bottle cap at an angle into the hole there and in one swift motion wedge off the cap .It doesn't fall on the floor,OH NO! the magnet under that pretty little dazey catches it. Yep it's that cool.
       A little back story: I found it in it's original box in a drawer in my grandparents' basement when cleaning out for a big estate sale there. I looked at for a minute puzzled and really folks for just like a second I was a little puzzled. I knew it was a bottle cap opener and it was red oh and I was thrilled. I knew the perfect place to put it on the wall,wait...but how? I looked at the packaging,looked at diagram and darnit to heck how was it supposed to attach to the wall. After some research, I learned there was a universal wall mount that was made for all of the products these inventive people made . I knew I had to have it and hoped one day the universal wall mount would find me somehow.(hold on to your seats,I know the suspense is killing you...)
      We were cleaning up after the first day of the estate sale and oh my googly moogly ! it was there in the bottom of a box of old blankets,by itself just waiting on me. The heck with the lottery,I had found this missing piece and would soon have the coolest bottle cap opener on the block. And many a bottled beverage has been enjoyed since!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

There's green in there somewhere.


      So yeah asparagus has some redeeming qualities...it's green and fairly healthy for you. It has tons of vitamin C,lots of vitamin K and lookout a whole bunch of folate.It took me a while to come around to asparagus and sadly, I have eaten my share of the canned variety...geez. I got older and learned to LOVE asparagus tossed with a little olive oil,sprinkled with salt and pepper and then roasted...talk about good. Every now and then,though you have to except a little bad with the good. You need a little "protein" with your veggies and this is where the not-so-great joins us.
    Prosciutto. Rich,salty,full-of-pork prosciutto. I always buy a little extra whenever a recipe calls for this scandalous ingredient because I will inevitbaly snack on an extra slice or two while preparing said recipe. It's no lie and I'm fine admitting it,...I am really. I knew I was slightly off the hook ,when I found this recipe from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis.Ok folks you ready??? You can get your vitamin C,K and folate all wrapped up in prosciutto,how great is that? I know,I know! So here goes,enjoy all your vitamins and for fun even throw a little balsamic vinegar on there oh man it's sooo good.
Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto
adapted from Everyday Italian  by Giada de Laurentiis
Ingredients:
12 asparagus stalks (about 1 pound) trimmed
1 TBL olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 paper-thin slices of prosciutto,halved
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel the bottom half of each asparagus.On a heavy baking sheet,toss the asparagus with the oil,salt and pepper. Put in the oven and roast until the asparagus is tender,about 15 minutes. Let cool completely (do this for sure,it won't take long,trust me)
2. Wrap each asparagus with 1 piece of prosciutto,exposing the tips and serve at room temperature.
**Now this way is just fine and will darn good,but I took it just a little furher. I think all the pork got to my head,who knows. **
3.After you wrap each asparagus,drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the wrapped asparagus and then put back in the oven for another 5 -10 minutes if that long. The prosciutto will cook and the edges will turn just barely brown and crunchy. The balsamic vinegar will coat and caramelize the whole thing and turn just a little sweet around the edges. Serve on a platter,enjoy and don't feel a bit guilty.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

decisions,decisions,decisions

       It's 6:30 on a Thursday evening....Wheel of Fortune has just started and I'm not incredibly motivated to make dinner. A quick glance to the top of the fridge,I see the bag of Fritos on top of the fridge.Yum Fritos. Ooohhh some sort of dip to go with my chips.
 Oh! and a beer that would be lovely.Got my beer,now back to the decision about some sort of dip...hmmm how about some salsa. Oh gosh which salsa to choose,well here are my choices.
(Let's not kid ourselves,it's come back to canning again,but hey fresh tomato salsa in the middle of winter! I'm totally down for it,bring on the snow)
 I have made and canned two different kinds of run-of-the-mill,ol' fashioned,classic tomato salsa. You can buy at the grocery store spice packets to mix in with peeled,cored and chopped tomatoes,cook it for a little bit and ta-da,you have salsa. Now you can chill the salsa in the fridge and then enjoy it a day or so later. The other option is to can it and enjoy it at a later date further down the line,say when it's 32 degrees outside and the only tomatoes available don't taste so great,then it will be pretty-darn-special tomato salsa!
The choices are: Ball brand salsa mix

Or....Mrs. Wages salsa mix.
  Both of the packages had easy-to-follow ingredients lists,clear directions and and options on when to enjoy your fresh tomato salsa. You can either eat it now,freeze it ( I know right,who knew) or can the the fresh tomato goodness and enjoy it in six months when the Wheel is on tv and you're hungry.
 The ingredients and directions for both were pretty much the same:
Ball: Ingredients- 5 14.5 oz can petite-diced tomatoes or 4 lbs fresh tomatoes(yields 9 cups-peeled,cored and diced) and spice packet
        Directions- Combine the tomatoes and contents f the spice packet in  a medium saucepan.
                           Heat to a boil,reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
                           To eat now: cool to room temperature,about 30 minutes,before serving.Or can it: prepare you canner,jars and lids. Ladle hot salsa into prepared jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace,remove air bubbles,wipe rim,center lid and secure ring until fingertip tight. Process in boiling water canner for 35 minutes.
Mrs. Wages : Ingredients-6lbs fresh tomatoes (about 18 medium-peeled,cored and diced) or 6 cans (14.5 oz can petite-diced tomatoes),1/2 cup white or cider vinegar,and Mrs. Wages' medium salsa mix packet
                      Directions- Combine tomatoes,vinegar and spice packet in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally ,reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and salsa is ready! The same storage options apply; serve after it's cooled to room temperature,freeze it in freezer containers or can it (the folks at Mrs. Wages instruct you to process the jars for 40 minutes,5 minutes longer than the Ball instructions say,40 minutes is fine too).
    The one extra I added into both salsa batches was hot peppers and garlic. Now don't freak out here it wasn't a ton of hot pepper even though it is known I like spicy stuff,I added just enough to give it a little kick and the garlic rounded out the flavors in the whole thing.
    Ok so I'm sure you're asking yourself... which salsa did she choose. I actually chose the Ball brand BECAUSE it was in the fridge and ready to eat. Both recipes made at least 5 pints and well let's say I'm putting a jar of Mrs. Wages in the fridge here soon to enjoy next week with some Fritos,a cold beer and Wheel of Fortune. Oh what a life,enjoy!