Thursday, December 26, 2013

x~ Pucker Pie ~x

I have a friend Velva who is so generous with her garden. She always offers me whatever she has growing at the time. This time she shared Meyers lemons from her overproducing tree. If you check out her blog you will see all the wonderful things she made with her lemons. Knowing my husband loves lemon desserts, I turned to Pinterest to find a great idea. I stumbled upon this recipe from Serious Eats for Shaker Pie.

First off, any recipe that does not require me to blanch or peel fruit is appealing but this recipe I had to make because it sounded insane. Whole lemons? In a pie? The results was wonderful but puckerful. We renamed the pie, "Pucker pie" because while it is delicious it is VERY tart.

First I washed and sliced the lemons on a mandolin, added 2 cups of sugar and went Christmas shopping.
Washed lemons from Velva.
Add 2 cups of sugar and macerate for at least 2 hours

 Then I mixed eggs, egg yolks, and flour together and added it to the lemons. Next step was to pour it all in a pie crust and then put it behind bars :p er I mean to set it on the bottom rack of the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
3 Whole eggs,  2 egg yolks, and 3 T flour combined with the lemons and pour into an unbaked crust

Pie jail

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes on the bottom rack.

After 20 minutes turn the oven down and bake as you would normally. The pie should puff in the center when done after about another 20 minutes.

Aerial view

Baked for another 20 minutes at 350.
The result!

Both a custard and a fruit filled pie. This is one mother pucker of a pie!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fusion Meatloaf

*steps up and speaks into mic* "Hello is this thing on?" *tap, tap, tap*

A million changes have occurred in my life since I last posted a recipe. I'll spare you but suffice to say I'm 45 now and if you round that up you get MID-LIFE CRISIS!!!! Do I go out an buy some big red shiny symbol of my womanhood (which for me would be splurging on a tube of red Estee Lauder lipstick as opposed to a new car)? 

Noooooooooo. I go back to college to get more knowledge. I know, I'm a poet and didn't know it.

Anywhooo I digress. I've taken a leave from the classroom. I'm in grad school and working with a non-profit whose mission I believe in with my whole cholesterol laden heart. 

So I'm trying out some "clean the cupboard" recipes. This first one is a meatloaf. Of course it is no ordinary meatloaf. There are a few special ingredients one of which is crushed Maui Style Maui Onion potato chips. I bought them at Costco and while they were delicious, think Funyun/Kettle Chips hybrid, I could not eat all of the ginormous bag by myself. So crushed chips replaced the breading in this recipe.

2 pounds ground meat (buy what you like, can afford, or can eat and face your doctor while he reads your lab reports)
2 cups crushed chips (you can use any kind you have laying around)
2 eggs
1/2 cup ketchup
1 T soy sauce or Worchestershire (if you use soy adjust salt)
1T sriracha
1-2 teaspoons curry powder (You will need to adjust to your family's tastes. I use a special curry blend brought to me by my husband's friend Anu. It is her mother's blend brought to me from a trip home to India and I treasure it, doling it out like it is saffron.)
salt & pepper

For topping
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder

I mixed all the ingredients gently and the let it sit covered in the fridge for 4 hours just to soften the chips. Then I shaped into a loaf and put in a 13x9 pan. Preheat the over to 375 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. Mix topping ingredients. Slather the top of the meatlof with the glaze and back for 15 minutes. Slather again and bake for 15 more minutes. Slather, bake, repeat until it is the doneness your family prefers. We like ours a little on the brown side. Enjoy!
Special treasure curry from Anu's mom
Left over chips & chili sauce

Ready to bake

After 45 minutes

Slather, Bake, Repeat

I hope that should you too find yourself at a crossroads, that you make choices that lead you to a life you are proud of living. Make your decisions based on love (even love for YOUR SELF) and not fear.  Those decisions are never wrong.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

More Trashy than Classy

We have these friends who we have known forever. If forever means like 18 years. Our kids were kids together and Renee and I co-taught a preschool class together back in the day. We love them. They are family for us. Much of the year we struggle to find time to be together but some how magically we always get together on New Year's Eve. This year was no exception.

Of course food is always a critical part of our evening, that and grown-up beverages. So last night we decided to stick to appetizers. We had shrimp and cocktail sauce, baked crab cakes and remoulade, crackers,, cream cheese and pepper jelly, a hot reuben dip with pumpernickel bread and pretzels, a buttery olive bread, cocktail smokies, and chips and onion dip. It was a magnificent spread and we gorged while we danced to the very most funkiest mix tape made for Renee by her #1 Most Funky Son and  played Sequence. I should say, they wiped the floor with us in a game of Sequence. All the while we drank a delicious concoction of Malibu, pine orange banana juice, and pineapple soda. Renee even found us straws with little umbrellas. It was a perfect Florida winter evening and it culminated in champagne sipped by the glow of the Xmas lights wrapped around the palm trees out where we wore blankets around the fire pit. Perfection.

Wanting to make something special for the night, I decided to make these "Taste No Evil" cupcakes. The guys thought the name was dumb and did not get the connection but all the smart girls, and by that I mean me and Renee got it. The cupcakes are a VERY dark chocolate cake spiked with Kahlua and the frosting is a light, creamy chocolate- banana. It is the world's easiest and I start as usual with a box mix. I make it according to the directions but I substitute 1/3 cup of Kahlua for the same portion of the water. I bake the cupcakes the very least amount necessary to keep them from drying out on the edges. I think this is a huge reason so many cupcakes are dry and tasteless. I let the cupcakes cool and in fact I took the cupcakes to the party unfrosted  so I could really pile on the frosting without worrying about crushing the tops.

For the frosting I mix the following in my Kitchen Aid until light and fluffy-

1 room temp bar of cream cheese
1 stick of room temp butter

Then I add-
2 cups of powdered sugar
2 tsp good vanilla

Mix more and then I add the secret ingredient-
1 jar of World Market Chocolate Banana spread

Mix it together until you decide it is fluffy enough.

Next I put it all in a ziploc bag. I use the bag like a pastry bag by snipping off the corner and frosting the cupcakes using it.

 As you can see, my "pastry bag" exploded and I was forced to lick the delicious creamy goodness from my fingers. Pity. The cupcakes are best eaten at room temperature but must be kept in the fridge due to the insane amount of dairy in them.
Don't be afraid to doctor box mixes. I have it on very good authority that a local bakery begins all it's specialty cakes from a box mix. Since baking in not my best thing, I just keep the liquid, oil to egg ratio as directed on the box but substitute many different things for the liquids or oils. I'd love to hear how you doctor mixes. Please consider sharing your secret in the comments below. And Happy New Year!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Save a Horse

One of the best things that came from being given the privilege of teaching students with special needs has been that they have needs I can't meet. I know you are thinking wtf??? She is admitting that she can not do it ALL! Be assured hell has not started selling snow cones.

Teaching students with visual impairments was like entering a foreign country for me. I felt inept. And scared. Yes, I was scared to death of 3 little blind girls. But because I was scared and felt unprepared it made me receptive to getting as much help from the real professionals as possible. In comes the "best thing" part, Eileen. Eileen came in to teach the kids but has taught me more than I care to admit. She has also become one of the best friends I have ever had. She lets me be me and as crazy as that is at times, she still likes me.

She works with brilliant people at FSU who want to make a real difference in how students with visual impairments experience the world. Lucky for me she brings me along to events where I get a chance to meet and mingle with the new crop of up and coming vision teachers. This year I was wracking my brain to think of what I could bring to the annual brunch. I have a bumper crop of jalapenos this season and am trying to find creative uses for them so I went to my handy dandy internets and found exactly what I needed.

Cowboy Candy. Seriously sweet syrup pickled jalapenos. Here's how I made them-

2 small jelly sized mason jars
1 larger sized mason jar

1 1/2 lbs washed and thinly sliced jalapenos
1 lb washed and sliced small sweet peppers

In a large pot I heated the following to boiling and boiled for 5 minutes.
1 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
4 c sugar
2 T garlic powder
1 T tumeric
1 tsp celery flakes

After the mixture boiled for 5 minutes I added the jalapenos and boiled for 3-5 minutes. Then I scooped them out of the liquid into 2 of the mason jars. Next I returned the mixture to a boil and added the sweet peppers. This allowed them to pick up some mild heat from the jalapeno oils but not enough to become fire bombs. I cooked them for the 3-5 minutes and scooped them into a larger mason jar. I let the syrup in the pot cool and then filled each jar up to near the rim, wiped the edges with a damp paper towel and put the lids on.

This is where if you do that voodoo that you do, canning, you'd do that. I decided mine would be kept in the fridge so I just let them chill.

At the brunch I served them with cream cheese and plain old Ritz crackers as a spicy, sweet, accompaniment to the creaminess of the cheese. They were cute and delicious. I knew they were a success when I turned around and Eileen had schmeared (which is the technical term for putting cream cheese on a bagel)a bagel and decorated the top with all the little jalapenos and the sweet, tongue tingling sticky syrup.

My Favorite First loved adding the sweet peppers to his grilled mahi burger. Give them a try if you ever find yourself happily or hopelessly up to your hiney in jalapenos.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back 2 School

Tomorrow is the big day! I love back to school. OK. I love it mostly. I also get this bittersweet feeling about all the things I wanted to get done that I didn't and about not having time to take care of my family. Being the husband and kids of a teacher is hard. For instance, only teachers' kids walk into the kitchen and smell something delicious and immediately ask first before they get excited, "Is that for us or your kids?"

So in order to celebrate this new adventure we will all be starting I decided to cook something for my Favorite First Husband to help him to remember me by. He knows for the next month I will be up at school day and night, week day and weekend. He gets to practice being a single dad during this time.

Mr. Dennis <3s sweet potatoes and I spotted this recipe through Pinterest for pulled pork stuffed sweet potatoes. But I decided to spice things up a bit and add an island flair.

I started by putting a huge pork loin in my slow cooker with a small bottle of Hawaiian BBQ sauce, some Siracha, brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, and 5 spice powder. I cooked this for about 10 hours on low. The house smelled like a pig roast in Hawaii must. I took the pork loin out of the crock pot and let it sit on the cutting board for about 15 minutes to cool enough so I could work with it. In the meantime I added gobs of ingredients to the juices in the crock pot. Into the pot went-
1 can crushed pineapple
1 bottle honey BBQ sauce
1/3 cup molasses
1T steak seasoning
2T chili/garlic paste (this is what made it spicy so add to your family's tastes)
the dregs of a few bottles of bbq sauce I wanted to finish up

It was not an exact science. Then I sliced and pulled the pork. After I tasted it for quality assurance it all went back in the crock pot and cooked it for another 2 hours. Actually I went to the mall to find a new perfume and the crock pot cooked until I got back. So time is not a critical factor to the success of this recipe either :p I cooled the bbq and then refrigerated it over night.

The next evening I roasted several large sweet potato at 375 for 2 hours and then reheated the bbq pork. I sliced the potatoes in a cross and pushed the ends to open it up. Next came the sweet and spicy bbq pork piled on high, and topped with sliced green onions to complete the island flavor and add some brightness.

My Favorite First Husband loved it. He even thanked me for making it for him. He knows. He knows it meant, "I love you", "I'll miss you" and "You still mean more to me than my job." My #2 Most Honorable Son scarfed his down on a bakery hoagie roll, as he would keel over if any thing resembling a vegetable touched his lips. If he had any idea what was in the sauce, he'd have turned his nose up at it but it was so good he insisted, " I really like this. Don't tell me what is in it." I have to admit the pork was tasty. The sauce was just sweet enough to quell the spice.

Tomorrow it is back to Chickadee U. for me. Never forget that teachers have families too and that often those families sacrifice just as much as the teachers do. Every dollar spent on supplies, every hour spent working at home or up at school, is part of what is just a normal way of life for those lovies who love people who love to teach.

Peace, love, and learning!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I've Been In Sorrow's Kitchen and I Licked Out All the Pots

Promise I have not gone 2 months without cooking something for my family to eat. I just have been down and not felt like I made anything truly amazing that I felt compelled to share. I was very fortunate to have had some delicious experiences courtesy of other magnificent chefs such as my venture to Bouchon Bistro and Bakery, of the Thomas Keller Bouchon's. I had a TKO (Thomas Keller Oreo) at the bakery and an amazing cheese plate, perfectly seared tuna and a leggy glass of red at his Bistro in Yountville, Ca. in the Napa Valley.

Later in the summer I was fortunate enough to be a part of a week long experience hosted by the Florida Humanities Council. The focus was my favorite author Zora Neale Hurston and her connections in Florida. She lived in Eatonville, Fl. which was the first African American incorporated town in the US. The seminars were so well put together and the ideas really broadened my vantage on some spiritual and women's issues. I was blessed to have the opportunity to eat at an AME church in Eatonville. We had fresh fried chicken, salad, green beans, creamy mac-n-cheese, and cool crisp coleslaw. The picture above was taken in the kitchen at the church. Another blessing from this event was that I finally found my book. Yes, it will be about food but also about people. I owe Zora a Pall Mall.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Greed & Gluttony~ 2 of my fave sins

Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone but sometimes, every once in a blue moon, I cook for *me*. This was one of those times. I decided to selfishly make something that I knew not one other person in my whole house would touch with a ten foot or any other length pole. Broccoli Cheese Soup. Cheesy goodness in a pot. I added some crusty bread, sliced tomatoes, and olive oil & balsamic to dunk rounding out the perfect goodness. I was also thinking the acidity would be nice to cut through the creamy, cheesy, soup.

I'm going to try to describe what I did to make the soup but keep in mind, I cook. I rarely practice the art of science in my kitchen. I hardly ever measure or mix in order unless I am baking. So if you try it and it turns to glop or tastes like the wooden spoon, my apologies but in the immortal words of one of my loving Chick-a-dees, "no refunds." :p

Broccoli Cheese Soup
2 cups of water
2 grated carrots
1/2 grated onion or 3 sprigs snipped green onions (I used green onions)
Mix these ingredients in a pot and cook as per rice mix directions.
When the rice is done add broccoli florets- you can use frozen but I used fresh- use as much as you like and make them the size you like in your soup
I added 2 more cups of water to the pot and some chicken base (you can use bouillon)
I simmered with no lid for about 30 minutes til the water reduced.
Then I let the mixture cool.
Once cool I scooped out approximately 1 1/2 -2 cups of the mixture and pureed it in the magic bullet until it was smooth.
I poured this back into the mixture and added
2 more cups of water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of wine
1 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp dry mustard
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp garlic powder
fresh cracked pepper
I heated this on medium low for about 15 minutes to heat through.
Then I added grated swiss, cheddar and parmesan cheeses. This is the no measuring part. =)
I heated that just shy of bubbling for another 10 minutes and then added
1/2 cup heavy cream (yes, heavy cream. Use what every dairy you want but it was a splurge meal for me. I think you could even add that Greek yogurt if you are so inclined)
I heated it about 5 minutes stirring frequently and avoiding those bubbles that could curdle the cream.

It was amazing. It will be amazing like 6 more times because I am the only one eating it. By then I will be sick of soup and on my 25th anniversary trip to California.