Friday, September 30, 2011

Carla Hall's Pinwheel Snacks 9.30.11

Delicious and easy.  Sounds like a great combination to me.

This was an audience participation recipe.  Watching the first lady in the row work was almost painful.  No matter what you may have seen from her angle, this is just about as easy as you can get.  And in Carla's instructions, it got even easier.

Her only rule, use cream cheese as a "glue" to keep the wheel together.

As to stuffing, what you like.  I happened to have had a rotisserie chicken (So cheap).  So I knew I was going to use that.  Now, Carla showed thin slices of lunch meat.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to slice my chicken breast thin enough, so I just made a chicken salad.  Instead of tuna, I just used minced bits of chicken.

If you are lucky enough to have a handy dandy stand mixer (OK, a KitchenAid brand mixer), just toss an 8 ounce brick of cream cheese in, the cooked meat from one rotisserie chicken breast and whatever you might like to add some zing to your salad.

I added...

1/4 cup minced pickles
1/4 cup minced sweet Onion
1/4 cup minced Granny Smith Apple
1/4 cup minced Grapes

I didn't, but I should have added a tsp of a Cajun Spice mix

Turn on the mixer and in about 2 minutes, you have a creamy paste!

This was enough "paste" to make 4 tortillas worth of pinwheels.

And from there, nothing to it... Take a whole wheat tortilla, spread a thin layer around and roll up.  Slice about 1 inch thick "wheels".

Makes a great snack (wonderful recipe for kids to make).
Dress it up with a sprinkling of paprika and would make a casual appetizer
Wanting a light low carb lunch, here you go.

This was so easy, and so flexible (long as you use cream cheese as the glue, fill with what you like (All veggies would be terrific), the recipe is not available on The Chew website.  But that's OK.  This is truly one of those, "Anyone can Cook" recipes!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Paula Deen's Stuffed Pork Chops with Grits 9.29.11

By far, the best day on the Chew.  The pace has slowed (Thank you).  The recipes are just a tad more intricate (except this one). And best of all, the guests are allowed time.  Time for a story, time to get a little personal and time to fully cook a recipe.

This was a terrific recipe.  What else could you expect from Miss Paula?  I love the character of Paula Dean. I love the story (single Mom, making it work any way she could), and such a success story!  It was such a treat to see her interview.

The recipe was painfully simple.  She did call for a bone in chop.  My store had boneless chops on sale, so I lost a bit of the flavor.  I also Decided to add the slit myself, risking a finger or a knife through the side. Just be careful, cut slowly (SHARP knife of course) and you can easily cut this yourself.

I also add a rub to the outside of the chop.

I chose a simple rub, actually a store bought BBQ rub.  But I did add some brown sugar to the rub (about 2 parts (OK, 2 TBS) rub to 1 part (1 TBS) brown sugar).  The brown sugar melts as it cooks, leaving a beautiful glaze on the chop as it cooks.

Grilling is simple.  About 4-5 minutes per side.  You can get the diamond look by having a HOT grill ready when you start.  Cook for 3 minutes, then turn 90 degrees and cook for another three minutes.

Also, with this recipe, it is VITAL that you use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature.  The sausage MUST be 140 degrees to 160 (I recommend 140, Paula recommends 160).  The chops could be done long before the sausage is.  Big risk if you cook by time and the look of the outside.  Cook by internal Temperature.

I flavored the grits with a spicy pepper spread.

Paula's recipe and her comments on the show made a delicious grit.  She advises adding Cream Cheese and of course extra butter.  the cream cheese really added a lot with the sweet, creaminess contrasting with the grittiness of the texture of the grits.  Delicious.

But, a heaping TBS of ChiliDawg's brand MANGOnero (Mango and Habanero blend) spread really kicked the grits up a notch.  paired great with the milder seasoning I used for the chop.  Grits, on their own, are not very flavorful (although Miss Paula's were).  I like to add a spice to them, or a fruit jam to add just a bit more.

So, with these hints, tips in mind, this is one of those recipes I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter.  The good folks at the chew have a printable version of the recipe on their website (click HERE).  It's just kind of a throwaway direction as an option, but I really recommend using the Cream Cheese in the grits.  Adds a LOT.

Best episode yet.  The pace is settling in, the cast is settling in... Big changes in just 4 days!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Carla Hall's Smothered Lemon Chicken with Peas and Carrots 9.28.11

See the Turkey in the middle???

How about the Turkey and Hearts...

There was a quick aside comment on Day 3 of the chew while Carla was making her recipe that this was a deconstructed pot pie.

So, very simply, I grabbed a couple of cookie cutters, a sheet of Puff Pastry and (at 350 degrees) in 16 minutes, I had the makings of an actual deconstructed Pot Pie!

I did select the Turkey as this is a terrific idea for a Thanksgiving Turkey leftover dish.  As well as a rotisserie chicken recipe.  Sure the recipe calls for chicken, but no reason you can't just sub some turkey leftovers.

As to the show (The Chew)... This comes from day three of the show.  And, by far, the best show of the series.  Instead of the ridiculous pace of 5 recipes a show, we were treated to a multi part interview and recipe from Joy Behar (Lasagna).  For what it's worth, in my opinion, The multi segment gives enough time to enjoy the recipe and see the personality of the cook.  Sure, this was a guest star, but it is time to get to know the cast better.

But I digress...

But before I get to the recipe, I will try to justify my point... With this recipe.  This would have been a perfect opportunity to start a Cooking 201 series.  Not just a list of recipes that come together fast and easy, but get deeper into the more advanced basics.

Like gravy.

During the cooking demo, Carla kept talking about white gravy and milk gravy.  She also was adding flour at different stages with no explanation of why flour, what it did, and why she added some early and at the end.  Gravy is not terribly complicated, but it can be a make or break ingredient for a dish.

Again, just my opinion, but I sure do recall the first time I made gravy.  With the fast pace of the show, I think I would have been intimidated by this recipe without some experience (or more details on the show).

But, I do make gravy, and I was excited to make this recipe...

Since just the day before I had bought about 4 1/2 pounds of chicken!  At an INCREDIBLE price.  I am cheap.  Actually, I am very cheap.  I live on a budget, spending a limit of $100 a week on food.  I always shop sales, and take advantage with a freezer full of what was on sale last week, month (and sometimes longer).

Took a little extra work, as Carla's recipe called for boneless skinless.  These were bone in, skin on, which is actually much better, holds the flavor in, keeps the moisture in and the bone adds to the taste.  It was a simple matter of pulling the meat from the bone and discarding the skin.  $0.89 cents VRS a sale price of $2.25 a pouind, I can remove the bone and skin myself.

I made enough of the Puff Pastry cookies to line the bottom of a plate/bowl, and a few extras for the top to complete the deconstructed "pretty" presentation.

Click this photo to see THE CHEW's website link to
Carla Hall's Smothered Lemon Chicken with Peas and Carrots

I followed the recipe as I saw on the show... printed HERE.  In the photo above, you do not see much white gravy.  At that stage, I added more flour which made the gravy thicker and the color whiter.

I also started tasting.  It needed pepper.

So, with those two changes, and the extra little fun presentation, I LOVED THIS!  Garlicky, Lemony, rich thick white gravy and a hint of tarragon and thyme makes this a wonderful dish.  Perfect for a family and even better when you remember this for Christmas, Thanksgiving leftovers!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mario Batali's Spaghettinni with Pesto, Green Beans and Potatoes 9.27.11

Day two of the new daytime experiment.  I read over a lot of the reviews, can not argue with any.  I do love the concept, but I think there are just too many cooks in the pot.  It's early in the show and I am sure adjustments will be made soon.  Rome wasn't built in a day and a high concept show like this will need time to shake out.

My one suggestion would be to highlight a cook each day.  Give them 20 minutes to actually COOK.  If all we are going to get is 5 minute recipes and so little time for commentary from the cook (again, 5 people commenting means the master of the dish does not get enough time to explain).

And, while I am making suggestions...  Did the person printing out the recipe for the official The Chew Website even watch the episode???  You can click HERE to see the "official Recipe".  If you compare the recipe to what was shown on the show (click HERE to see the video clip as it aired (you need to scroll down and pick this recipe from the different clip options))), you will notice a BIG change.  And a little change that was in the video of the show, but not printed in the recipe.

OK, this is a Mario Batali recipe (from his book Molto Mario).

First, the pesto.  Mario got it right!  unless you make your own, you are very likely to get a big oily wet pasta instead of the desired chunky moist spoon-able but not pour-able pesto.  He did mention a change I almost always do.  That is, walnuts in place of pine nuts.  I can get 5 times as much walnuts (by weight) as the same amount of pine nuts for the same cost.  For me, no brainer.  Pine nuts make home made pesto cost INeffective.  Also, be sure to use fresh Basil leaves and resist the temptation to by the much less flavorful dried herbs.  I have a big batch that grows outside during the summer and early fall, as well as three pots that grow in my kitchen.  Again, only way to make this cost effective.

OK, the big change... Mario showed us a one dish meal (excluding the pesto).  The printed version has a separate pan for the Potatoes, separate pan for the pasta, separate pan for the Beans.  I was attracted to the simplicity of the dish.  The pesto can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.  The same pot can start the potatoes, half way through the process, add the pasta, halfway through that (OK, 3/4 of the way), add the beans and you have a one dish meal.

And the change in the show that did not get printed in the recipe, add a bit of potato water to thin out the pesto.  You can see Mario doing this and he does mention it towards the end.  BUT, no mention in the printed recipe.

I did serve this as a side dish with a Chicken Rollatini, stuffed with Cheesy Zucchini.  It made a wonderful side dish.  I can certainly see using this as a main course for a weeknight meal.  It was absolutely delicious.  The creaminess of the Parmesan pesto, the extra nutty flavor of the walnuts coating each ingredient makes this a winner!

Like I said, excellent recipe, MUCH easier than the printed version as mine (and Mario's) is a one dish meal. Best of all, it makes a wonderful change to standard side dishes.

Will be making again!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Clinton Kelly's Romaine Heart BLT 9.26.11

Welcome to blog post number one, from the first day of the CHEW, ABC's new daytime all food all the time talk show.

Only the first day.  I have some opinions, most strongly that the show is too full.  Too many people, cooking too many recipes, not enough details to really stick out.  Also, too easy.  I am fine with 5 minute meals, 5 ingredient meals, etc.  But so far, the entire show was filled with these quickie dishes.  With the exception of Mario Batali's very quickie take on homemade pizza.  4 minutes, including a homemade crust recipe just does not cover it.

But, first day, way too early.  Time will tell and I am sure we are just getting the early version of a terrific idea.

I decided to make Clinton Kelly's Romaine Heart BLT.  Clinton is the "Entertainment" guy on the show.  His specialty is parties and style.  He chose the first show as an opportunity to showcase some party appetizers.  His theme was to deconstruct big main courses and turn them into tiny appetizers.

Like a Classic Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich...

Big change from the classic sandwich is no bread.  It's a lettuce wrap.

You can view the ABC The Chew Homepage official recipe and photo by clicking HERE.

Under the categories of "Who am I to make such changes", I made a few changes...

I didn't do anything terribly special to change.  I made mine two bites, so I used a little larger piece of bacon and two cherry tomato halves instead of one.

I also caramelized the tomato halves.  Very easy to do and by heating these you bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes.  Very simple, heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add just a single TBS of Canola Oil (Best not to use Extra Virgin Olive oil as it can burn at higher temperatures).  Do that chef flip thing to coat the tomato halves.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Double check them every few minutes to be sure they are not burning.  You do not want to discolor them with char marks.  I did this the same time I was making the bacon, so I do not think it added any real time to the recipe... just an extra dish.

I also changed the recommended store bought spicy Mayonnaise with my own home made Cajun Garlic Aioli.  This sounds so incredibly special and exotic.  Honestly, it is a matter of a few squirts of a couple of liquids, a quick and easy peel of a few garlic cloves and a whirl in the blender or handy dandy mini chopper.  Once you stop taking the time to measure, you can whip this up in 2 minutes.  Again, while the bacon was frying, I just added, whirled and it was done!

Here's the recipe...

1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
4 cloves garlic
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1 Lemon
2-5 Basil Leaves
1 tsp "Big easy in a Jar", or any Cajun Spice mix

Add everything in a blender, whirl until garlic has been minced and the Aioli is the constancy of the original mayo.

BTW, I make my own Cajun mix I call, "Big easy in a Jar".  You will be seeing this ALOT.  It's a fast way to add that special heat to any dish.  I make about 2 cups worth a month and bit by bot, it is gone!  Tastes great on eggs to chicken and anything in between!

1 part Garlic Flakes
1 part Onion Flakes
1 part Dried Thyme Leaves
1 part Dried Oregano
1 part Black Pepper
1 part White Pepper
1 part Lemon Pepper
1/2 (one half) part Cayenne Pepper
1/2 part Ground Bay Leaves
4 parts Sweet Paprika

This is a great little spice to have around. Add brown sugar (1/2 the amount of spice mix) to make a BBQ rub. And add a little to a soup to zing it up.

Again, feel free to substitute a commercial brand of spicy Mayo or if you make the Aioli, you can sub a store bought spice mix.

 And that's what I made from day 1!

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