Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chicken Curry with Apples and Onions

I have returned!!! After a long hiatus, a move, and new job, I'm ready to start bringing you tastiness again.  And for my triumphant re-arrival, I'm bringing the heat!

Harvest time brings a lot of really great vegetables and fruits that are full of flavor and not always available at other times of the year.  I'm talking root veggies like beets, onions, potatoes, rutabagas, jicama, and so many more, and squashes of all shapes and sizes.  But one of my most favorite fall products are apples.  I love, love, love apples in all formats both sweet and savory. This year, we may have lost a lot of crops, particularly cherries and corn, but the strange weather actually produced bumper crops of cranberries and apples. So they're overflowing off the shelves at great prices.

Today, I played with apples, onions, and Indian flavor and made Chicken Curry. This is an adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe.

Shopping List
1 small red onion, chopped
1 green apple, cored and chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped or grated
2 T. ketchup
2 t. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 c. greek yogurt
1/4 c. chopped cilantro

Chop a green apple, and a small red onion into small pieces.  Toss in a 2 quart microwave safe dish. Oh yeah, did I mention that you make this in the microwave?! Add 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine or grated.  I grated mine on a garlic grater by Ceramica De Espana and I love this grating plate!  It's beautiful, effective, and easy to clean.  You can grate garlic, ginger, nutmeg, and more on these things.  It is one of the better money I've spent and I'll definitely be giving some of these as gifts.  Add two tablespoons of ketchup and 1 1/4 teaspoons of curry powder. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add 4 chicken breast halves.  I cubed mine, but you could leave the breasts whole if you chose.  Cook for five minutes.  Flip chicken over if whole, stir the mixture if cubed. Microwave for another five minutes.  I used the cooking time to make a pot of brown rice to go with this. Noodles or rice would be good with this dish, or wrap it in a piece of toasted Naan if you wish.

Add a 1/2 c. Greek yogurt.  You can use plain old regular yogurt, but I love the creamy texture that Greek yogurt gives sauces.  I used the individual servings of the yogurt because they're about 1 cup. I used half of the container and I'll use the other half for a peanut butter, banana, and cocoa smoothie for breakfast tomorrow. Add about a 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro and mix together.  Serve over rice. If you want a bit more heat, up the curry amount.  This makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chicken Gyro Adventures

I am a slacker.  I apologize to all three of the people that read this blog.

So, I'm going to do a couple posts in the next few days to catch us up to the present. The Lion's Den has seen some rocky times lately, and our grocery budget is ummm...nothing. But since I stock my pantries/freezer/fridge just in case we're laid seige, we have enough to survive for a little while.

My mother-in-law gave us these fabulous half chickens that are free-range and from a farm down the road.  They are vacuum sealed and don't have that orange-y yellow-y cast that a lot of commercial chicken seems to have (even the organic ones).  Let me tell you proof is in the pullet folks, this was some goooood chicken.

I had some onion naan that needed to be used, and onion, and olives, so it wasn't a far stretch for my little brain to think: Chicken Gyros. Oh yeah.  Fortunately, the DH is becoming more adventurous by the day (just yesterday he asked if we could try kiwi mojitos some day), so I knew he'd be down with it.  The only thing I was a little trepidatious about getting the "What are you making me eat?" face from was the Greek yogurt.

Let me digress about Greek yogurt. It. Is. Awesome.  It is thicker than "conventional" yogurt, and it will hold up to mixing just about anything into it - fruit, honey, herbs, etc. Just the other day I mixed it in as a binder for burgers. No kidding, it helps replace moisture as fat escapes (a later blog post on that). Greek yogurt has more of a consistency of a thick sour cream, and I think it's not as sharp-tasting as regular yogurt.  It also doesn't spoil as quickly, so you get more bang for your buck.  I buy the Athena brand from Payless (Kroger). For this recipe, I used it to make my tzatziki sauce to put on the gyro. But, back to the chikky.

This recipe is an adaptation from The Girl Who Ate Everything. This recipe has you marinating the chicken. I'm lazy. I'm impatient. I don't marinate. For the same reason I don't bake anything with yeast in it. I want to eat NOW, I don't want to wait 2 hours for something to puff up.  I'm usually in a time crunch after work, I'm not dusting my knick-knack collection waiting for bread to rise.

Soooo...You could do this with a variety of cuts of chicken, because you're going to pull it all off the bone anyway. So I have my little half chicken. I put her in a 9x9 glass baking dish and dumped:
2 t. minced garlic
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. red wine vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. oregano
salt and pepper

all over the bird. If you want to marinate it, add 2 T. of the Greek yogurt and dunk the chicken in it and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  But I just gave my birdie buddy a tasty bath:

Look how gorgeous she is! I put her in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes and she came out looking like this:
That zesty marinade just perked her right up! Look how golden and beautiful the skin is.  Mmmm mmmm! So, without even waiting for her to cool much, I started pulling the meat off the bone. I burnt my fingers yes, but it was worth it. You probably want to wait for it to cool before shredding it, and just reheat it when you're ready to serve the gyros.

While Henrietta was cooking, I whipped up the tzatziki sauce. Seriously, you can put this on everything, not just gyros. Use it as just a dip for pita chips, add to wraps, I used the leftover tzatziki and chicken to make a chicken gyro salad with the sauce as the dressing. Opa!
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

Mix all this together.  You can squeeze or pat the cucumber dry, but I never do, it doesn't change the consistency of the sauce much in my opinion. Quick tip for seeding cucumbers: slice them lengthways after peeling them, and take a spoon and using firm pressure scrape out the seeds. Easy peasy!  This is handy if you want to put chicken salad or cheese, or minted watermelon in the little cucumber "boat." Tasty and elegant.

Anyhow, after the addition of some garlic naan, sliced onions, black olives, a slathering of tzatziki, and the chicken, you get Chicken Gyros. Voila!

(don't worry about the chicken, it looks a lot more pink than it really is. Promise, I'm not eating raw chikky)

Until next time, Peas, Love, and Tzatziki!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Teeneh Tineh Cupcakehs

Hey folks!  Ya miss me?  Sorry, there's been a lot going on here at the Lion's Den (Thanks V for the new homestead moniker).  I've been cooking a bit, but mostly it's been too darn hot to do anything.  This is a killer for someone who loves to bake as much as I do.  But the thought of ramping up the oven to 350 or higher makes me feel a bit ill. 

However, there have been some culinary creations going on nevertheless.  Here's a sampling of a few of the things, and I'll put up some of the recipes in later posts (I'm going to try to be more faithful, I swear!):

- Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Icebox Pickles (I made these a bit hot this time)
- Sun Tea
- Burgers
- Chocolate Chip cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream frosting
- Cold seasame noodles (people are begging me for this no brainer recipe.  I'll put it up soon)

Oh  yeah!  And I might have broken my curse concerning all things that involve yeast.  I made Naan for the first time, and it rose!  And tasted good!  YAY!  I will have to try more things that have to rise.  Hmmm...
It was part of my birthday feast, a lovely affair that involved Indian food, Blushing Monk Beer, and a (shhhh!) Cuban cigar!  Can I just say, that Blushing Monk was AMAZING.  Made by Founders, it's a limited run, and a little pricey, but I would say worth it 100%.  Thank you dear friend, for being willing to share your favorite beer with me. 

But, what I was up to last night and this morning was this:

My mother's book group have developed a Margarita cupcake problem (I'm totally guilty, I admit it), so they asked me to make more cupcakes.  Well, I decided this time to make a "flight" of cupcakes.  We have, left to right, Aztec Chocolate (dark chocolate cake, cinnamon, and cayenne with a cinnamon chocolate buttercream), Mojito (mint, lime, and white cake with a rum glaze) and my well-loved Margarita cupcake.  But, these are little guys.  They're mini cupcakes and I am in LOVE. 

First, they're just so cute you want to eat them all up (which I do), and second, sometimes cupcakes are so rich they're a bit overwhelming.  A lot of times I'll find half-finished cupcakes at the end of parties.  People get through about half of one, and then it's just too much.  With these mini cupcakes, they can have one little bite to pop in their mouths, and if someone wants another one! 

I have an obsession with tiny, bite-size food anyway.  I love to "graze" and have a little bit of a lot of things.  I think that's why tapas, mezze, appetizers, and sushi are some of my favorite things to eat.  I find that when I eat small little bites of food, I focus more on what I'm eating.  I may only get one!  There aren't gigantic spoonfuls to shovel in my mouth.  So I savor the little bite, and it becomes an experience rather than a meal.  Ask many of my friends and they'll tell you I'll often order one or two appetizers from the menu rather than an entree, or I have a great fondness for the "variety platter."  I love to pluck, swoop, scoop, and dip, to delicately fork, finagle, and finesse my food.  I also love alliteration, so you'll have to deal with that as well. 

So, in thinking about this post, in realizing that I hadn't written in ages, I must apologize to my few, yet loyal followers.  I have cheated you out of a little "bite" of my life, and I am sorry.  There have been a couple of you who have said that you miss Eatie so much, and that makes me feel lovely. you are, and I'll be back verra verra soon with a recipe for you.  How about the Mojito cupcakes?  Wanna know how? 

Be good to each other, and remember, sometimes the little "bites" of life, are the ones to savor!!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Foodie Fail

Well, this has been a busy week full of planning, shopping, assembling and stressing over a giant cake.  I will never be a cake boss though, because I refuse to use fondant on anything people are planning on eating.  Seriously folks?  Have you tasted fondant? It's gross!  It's ok for small decorations in my opinion, but don't drape your entire cake in this revolting confection that manages to be sickly sweet and bitter simultaneously.  Eww. And yes, I have tried several different fondants, and they're all equally foul.  It's thick, has bad, bad mouth-feel, and dries to a rock hard consistency so you practically have to use a sawzall to cut it. Yergh. :P

But, I'm not talking about cakes this time.  Well, except for the bit up there.  But that's it!  I promise.  I'll talk (and show pictures) about the cake next time.  I want to talk about a food fail.

We all have them, and many of us self-proclaimed foodies don't like to admit them, but I will bare all just for you my darlings.  Stop staring perverts.  Now that we've got that out of the way, I had a pretty bad fail recently.  I was very excited because I got the I Love Bacon! cookbook by Jayne Rockmill. I was psyched, because there's really nothing quite like bacon that exists on this planet.  It's meaty, savory, melty, fatty, delicious, and you can even make desserts with it!  Oh you versatile part of porcine perfection!  So I picked a couple recipes I'd like to try from the cookbook.  One was the Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, but it called for white wine.  I was fresh out, and it was Sunday.  Booo Indiana liquor laws!  But the other two I selected were Seared Scallops with Bacon and Maple Aioli, and Smoked Almond and Bacon Brittle.  Deeeelicious right?

Wrong.  So, I thought I'd make the brittle first because it could cool while I was cooking dinner.  I began melting the sugar and chopped the almonds.  I had already cooked the bacon in the oven (best way EVER: 15 min at 350 = perfect crunchy bacon; Pro Tip: Line cookie sheet with foil and clean up is a snap).  The recipe said 4 minutes on medium to melt the sugar and then 4 minutes on med-high to start caramelizing it.  Nowhere in the recipe does it explain the stages of candy-making.  So, for your future benefit, I'm going to give you a quick lesson in candy making (so you don't forget and make the same mistakes I did).

Thread Stage : 230-235 degrees F When this melted sugar is dropped in water, it forms a little thread.  This is a sugar syrup, flavored, it would be great on ice cream, and this is the consistency for simple syrups for cocktails. 

Soft Ball Stage 235-240 degrees F When you drop the syrup into cold water it will form a soft ball that will kind of flop over your finger like the watches in Salvador Dali's painting Persistence of Time. This is the consistency that you need in order to make fudges and that dratted fondant.

Firm Ball Stage 245-250 degrees F When you drop the syrup into cold water it will form a soft ball that will retain its shape until you squish it lightly with your fingers. Caramels are made from firm ball sugar.

Hard Ball Stage 250-265 degrees F When you drop the syrup into cold water it will form a ball that is much firmer, but  you can still squish it with your fingers, it just requires more pressure than the stage above.   This stages can be used to make marshmallows, nougats, and rock candy.

Soft Crack Stage 270-290 degrees F As the syrup gets to this stages the bubbles on top shrink, and if you drop it into water it will separate into threads that when you take them out are still flexible.  Soft crack stage is used to make saltwater taffy, one of my favorites. YUM!

Hard Crack Stage 300-301 degrees F When the sugar gets to this stage, when you drop the syrup into water it will separate into threads that are brittle when you take it out of the water.  IMPORTANT: Please wait a bit before taking this out of the water, this sugar syrup is very hot, and will burn you.  So give it a moment. This is the stage that makes brittle, lollipops, and toffee.

Now, I know that seems like a bunch of boring science and explanation, but it's important to understand my fail.  I did not cook this long enough.  I don't have a candy thermometer anymore (I broke mine), and I haven't replaced it, so I was eyeballing it, which was my first mistake.  Remember that I told you I'm impatient?  Yeah, that was my second mistake.  My third mistake though wasn't my fault at all, it was the darn cookbook.  It does NOT take only 4 minutes, even at a rolling boil to get to the hard crack stage.  It's more like 10 minutes of eagle-eyed stirring and testing the stages.  The recipe was wrong (cardinal sin in my cookbook) So...consequently, I mixed in my almonds and bacon and butter and excited poured it out on the the cookie sheet and waited for it to set up.  And waited.  And waited.  And it never set up.  So I basically had bacon caramel...and not even quite that.  Although, I'll admit it makes a damn fine ice cream topping for brownie sundaes.  I thought I was going to cry as I leaned down willing, begging, pleading for my brittle to set up.  To no avail.  *sigh*  But there will be a next time, because it was full of noms.

Well, to console myself, I was assured that my scallops would be a tasty success.  Nope.  The recipe called for a maple aioli, which sounds marvelous.  Aioli is essentially a garlicky mayonnaise, you just make it yourself so it's fancier.  I carefully measured the ingredients, threw them in my food processor and happily hit puree.  And it stayed liquid, and didn't set up, and didn't set up.  And here I am thinking, for cat's sake, not again!  Isn't one fail enough for tonight?  Oh, but it didn't stop there.  I thought maybe my problem was I didn't have enough rpms (Moar cowbell!), so I transferred it to this great little baby processor that D found me.  The one in the link is an updated version of mine and it's very inexpensive.  It is probably one of my most used kitchen tools - salsa, aioli, tartar sauce, and it's 1 1/2 c. size is perfect.  Well...RIP baby processor.  The aioli sent it to it's grave.  I ran it too long and it was too old and the plastic gear melted with the heat. *cries*  I'm so sad.  And it's all because of that stupid aioli.  Well, I decided it must be I screwed up the recipe, so I threw that batch out and tried again.  There's not a lot of commitment involved in aioli.  And this furshlugginer batch didn't set up either!!! Arrrrgh!!

Meanwhile, back on the range (see what I did there?  I made a funny!), I had already heated up my pan, so certain that this batch of aioli would come out.  I threw the scallops in to sear and turned back to aioli.  Again, I made a mistake, this time by putting a bit too much oil in the pan, so I didn't get a sear on my scallops.  And I was fighting with the aioli, so I overcooked them just a bit.  Not too badly, but I could tell.  This dinner was a flop.  So, I threw in the kitchen towel, and plated them anyway (waits for all the chefs/restaurant people to gasp in horror). What?  I'm cooking on a librarian's budget and that ain't much I can tell you!  I can't afford to toss a less-than-perfect dish.  I drizzled the runny aioli over the scallops and added the bacon and cranberries (I know, I didn't tell you about the cranberries.  I will).  It all tasted pretty darn good, so the flavors were intact, but man, that aioli kicked my butt. You know why?  The recipe was WRONG.  AGAIN!  It called for an entire egg for the aioli.  You use only the yolks, and generally at room temp for the best success.  The protein in the white doesn't let the fats and yolk emulsify, and you get runny aioli!  I should have caught that, but I didn't.

  Two out of the three recipes I picked from that cookbook were wrong!  Forget about buying that cookbook.  Don't you dare buy it either.  I was so disappointed, and I'm not even going to bother trying the mac and cheese.  But, every meringue has a lemon lining, and here's the good things about my failures:

The Tabasco soaked cranberries.  OMG.  Seriously, follow that link to Tabasco, they have free bottles and coupons.  It's great.  Here's how to make the best garnish for salads (and great with seafood too):

1 pkg. Crasins (dried cranberries)
1/4 c. Tabasco sauce (don't freak out, I know it's a lot)
1 1/2 c. hot water

I have a two-cup pyrex measuring cup and it works perfectly for this.  Dump the craisins in the measuring cup.  Add the Tabasco sauce.  Add the hot water.  Soak for 20 minutes.  Drain craisins.  Toss in salads (especially a black n bleu), add to scallops, jerked tilapia, whatever you can think of. Heck, eat 'em straight, you won't be able to resist the tart sweet and spicy combo!

So, that's my adventures in kitchen faildom.  I hope you learned something darlings, don't do what Eatie did.

Have a question? A recipe you'd like to share?  A restaurant review?  E-mail me!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Eating

Sorry I've been so quiet darlings, it's been spring cleaning here at Chez Gourmet.  Combined with a weekend full of lovely friends, Eatie decided to put cooking on the back burner.  But I do have some recipes to share with you.  I like to experiment with different recipes, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.  I will share both the triumphs and the failures.

I slacked off this past week writing the blog.  Work was busy, so I was tired when I got home, and didn't want to write much.  I like quick and easy things a lot of the time, so the two recipes I'll share with you are pretty fast and flavorful, but not particularly complex.

Often I have my own ideas for dinner, but one night the hubby asked for meatlof.  He's a meatloaf guy for sure, so dinner was a pretty standard meat and potatoes. I made a cowboy meatloaf, stuffed with cheese:

Cowboy Meatloaf

2 beaten eggs
3/4 c. milk
2/3 c. dry bread crumbs
1/4 finely chopped onion
1 t. salt
pinch pepper
1/2 t. dried sage
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 c. diced Velveeta cheese
1/3 c. barbecue sauce

1. Combine eggs and milk in a bowl; add bread crumbs, onion, sage, salt, and pepper if you desire.  Add meat, mix well.
2. Layer half the meat in a loaf pan, make a well down the center of the meat, and add the diced cheese.  Layer the other half on top of the cheese.  
2. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours.  Take loaf out of the oven, spread the BBQ sauce on, and then put it back in for 10 minutes.  When done, let loaf cool for 10 minutes before serving.

A note about meatloaf.  If you use lean ground beef you won't have a lot of grease to drain off your meatloaf.  And it's best cooked in a glass loaf pan.  A Pyrex loaf pan will run you a whopping $5. Trust me, it's an awesome investment for numerous reasons.  The next recipe will involve the loaf pan too, and it's suddenly paid for itself.  :)  I serve the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and sometimes that South African Brai salad that I shared with you.  It makes a filling and yummy plate. 

The other recipe I tried this past week was a Savory Garlic and Chive Bread adapted from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Around My French Table (I have this book right now, review to follow shortly).  Dorie runs a French Fridays blog, which I would love to try, but it scares the crap out of me.  However, another cook online, Soup Addict made some minor changes to the recipe, and posted it. So I gave her recipe a try and I'm sharing it here.

Savory Cheese and Chive Quick Bread

Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
1 3/4 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt (full teaspoon if you are using a mild cheese)
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
3 lg. eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 T. prepared brown mustard
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 generous cup coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte Emmental or cheddar cheese
2 oz. Gruyere, Comte Emmental, or cheddar cut into very small cubes (1/2 to 3/4 c)
1 bunch chives, minced (can also use scallions)
1 t. dried basil
1/3 c. walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease Pyrex loaf pan with butter.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
3. Whisk eggs in bowl for 1 minute, until foamy, then whisk in milk, mustard, and oil.
4. Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture, and use a rubber spatula to gently mix until moistened. Stir in grated and cubed cheese, the herbs and walnuts to form a thick dough.  Transfer to loaf pan and make it even on the top.

4. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until bread is golden and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and turn it out, putting it right side up to cool before cutting and serving. 

Okay, here are some tips for this bread.  It was pretty dry, so I would put a little bit more liquid in it, most likely a bit more milk rather than oil.  I think that I overdid it on the cheese, and that actually helped dry it out.  I want to try it again with the walnuts, to see if the oils from the nuts infused the bread with a bit more moisture and flavor.  The flavor was great.  I may have also overcooked it.  I'm notorious for doing that sometimes.  It's certainly a quick bread that I would like to play with, and it came together quickly (hence quick bread, heh).  It's probably something that I would take to Easter dinner, or toast on a griddle and spread an onion and chive cream cheese on for breakfast. 

That's about it for tonight.  Stay tuned later this week when I share a dinner fail I just had.  Bake well darlings! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Eatings

It was a busy but very lovely weekend, and full of food!  I hope everyone had as fabulous a weekend as I did, filled with food and laughter and lots of fun.

It started on Friday night with dinner at a place that is a pretty well kept secret in Lafayette.  I am a big fan of little hole in the wall restaurants.  The ambiance may not be anything to talk about, but the food is always good and cheap.  I feel like with smaller restaurants you're really much more aware of where your food is coming from.  At Mi Cabañita, you can experience essentially Mexican home cooking.  This is about as authentic Mexican as you can get (there are a couple other places, but I'll talk about them another time).  I am making assumptions here, but I believe the owners of the restaurant are from the state of Zacatecas, located in the central part of Mexico, on the elevated plateau.  Many of the other Mexican restaurants in town serve food that is Tex-Mex, or from the states of Jalisco or Oaxaca, so it's fairly rare to find cuisine from the heart of Mexico.

Mi Cabañita reflects the Mestizo cuisine, the blending of traditional indigenous flavors with European influence.  The Zacatecas region is famous for dishes made of the Nopales cactus, and that is a item that is certainly on this menu (as far as I can tell), though I didn't try it this time.  I tend to be a little more conservative with my first tries at a restaurant.  Bring your Spanish-English dictionary, because there isn't much in English on the menu, it's almost exclusively in Spanish.  I knew I had picked a good place to eat, because I felt out of place in the restaurant, being one of two people (the other being my hubby) who wasn't a native Spanish-speaker.

I ordered the Asada (steak) tacos and the Al Pastor (marinated pork) tacos.  Each taco had two very thin corn tortillas, soft, and obviously handmade.  There was a generous amount of meat in each taco, and topped with onion and cilantro.  I found it amusing that the server asked us if we wanted the cilantro and onion on our tacos, because I have noticed that many Americans find cilantro a little too strong for the average palate.  I love how fresh cilantro makes everything taste.

The steak in the Asada was a little overcooked, but still tasted great, but the real star of this show was the Al Pastor tacos.  Al Pastor is a rural dish - pork marinated over chiles for a day or two and then cooked with a piece of pineapple and onion.  This pork also had finely diced apples in the mix, which I think added an extra sweetness to the spicy marinated pork.  Next time I eat there, I'm going Al Pastor all the way!  There were some ingredients coming out on other people's plates that I didn't even recognize.  Maybe next time, I'll work up the courage to ask what they are.  Hubby and I each ate enough to fill us up and our total bill was $20.  I highly recommend Mi Cabañita, located at 2601 Teal Rd.  Right next door to the used car lot, and kitty corner from the Shell station. 

Well, one of these days I'll figure out why this blog insists on posting my pics sideways, but so far, no luck. No matter, you get the idea of how tasty this looks! 

The next stop was dinner with very good friends before a party.  They were grilling out for the first time, so I wanted to make something that went great with grilled food.  My brother-in-law is from South Africa, and the South African version of grilling out is called a Brai.  Meat is slow-cooked over white hot coals that started out as fruit wood like pear or apple. It's an all day affair.  But my friend did a fabulous job on his brand-new smoker/grill and I was happy to see that my Brai Salad disappeared.  It's one of my favorites, and is a great cold salad for summer or anytime, and it's so easy to make, it takes about 5 minutes to put together.

Brai Salad
2 cans french cut green beans, drained 
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 t. salt 
2 T. sugar 
1/4 c. mayonnaise 

1. In a medium size bowl, add the two cans of green beans.  Add the diced onions and mix together.

2. Add salt, let sit for two minutes.  Then add sugar and let sit for another couple minutes.  This is going to pull a lot of moisture from the beans. 

3.  Now, add the mayo and mix it in.  You can add a little less or a little more mayo to your taste. 

4. Adjust taste to your satisfaction, adding more salt or sugar.  It should be slightly sweet, to bring out the green bean flavor.  Chill for 30 minutes to an hour, serve, and watch it disappear! 

Whew!  I'm only halfway done with this weekend's cooking stuff.  I have two more recipes to share with you, but it's late, and Cupcake Wars is over, so I have to hit the sack.  I'll pick it up tomorrow and share more.  Sleep well darlings, and dream of good food! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Fun!

Hello Darlings!

Not much to report this morning, I was too busy consuming copious amounts of alcohol for St. Paddy's Day last night, so no cooking for me.  Although, I might have been a little stewed.  So, today I'll just share some music and a cocktail with you to kick off your Friday the right way.

First up, a song about food - Honeysuckle Rose sung by Sarah Vaughan:

And...a cocktail called a Honeysuckle Rose created by Washington D.C.'s Christopher Martino.  He's Mixicologist on Twitter if you're interested.

Honeysuckle Rose:

• Barbancourt Cinq Etoile (rum) 1.5 ounce
• Lime Juice .5 ounce
• Gran Marnier .25 ounce
• Honey Syrup (2:1) .25 ounce
• Rosewater 1 dash
Flamed orange zest for garnish
To begin, in a chilled cocktail glass flame the orange over the empty glass and rub the peel around the interior and mouth. In a shaker filled with ice, add the rum and other remaining ingredients. Shake until well chilled and pour into seasoned glass, strain out any flecks of ice if desired/necessary.

A note about Barbancourt Cinq Etoile Rhum.  It's a top shelf  Haitian dark rum, distilled twice in copper pots, aged 8 years in white oak barrels.  It's been considered the "cognac of rum" because the distilling method is very similar to the production of cognac and it can be sipped straight.  Barbancourt offers smooth, smoky flavor with a finish of vanilla.  The most likely place to find it in Indiana is at a United Package store, although, when I looked on their website, it was not listed as an item they sell anymore.  But they can probably order it for you. It runs around $25 a bottle, so it's not out of one's price range for a top shelf liquor.  However, another higher end dark rum would most likely suffice as a replacement. Meyer's is a little too heavy for this cocktail, the copper and molasses flavors would overpower the rose and honey.  I would suggest Bacardi Gold, since it's probably going to be the easiest to find around my area, and it retains the vanilla flavors that work well in this cocktail.  There.  I'm done being an alcohol snob.  Unfortunately, I have champagne taste, and a Bud Light budget, so my home bar is a little puny at the moment.

Although, I was contemplating taking a crack at making Falernum this weekend.  Stay tuned and see if it happens! 

That's enough out of me.  Enjoy your Friday darlings!