Monday, May 28, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits

I love breakfast probably more than any other meal of the day and what is better than hot, homemade biscuits and gravy on a crisp morning? I'd love to take credit for this recipe, but the credit goes to Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl ISBN:978-0-06-165819-8). This book is on the #1 New York Times Bestseller list and I highly recommend it. You can find this book as well as her equally excellent previous cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food From My Frontier ISBN: 978-0-06-199718-1 almost anywhere (I purchased both at Sam's Club but have seen it in Fred Meyer, Safeway, and all bookstores. The humor Ree inflects in her cookbooks actually makes it a pleasure to read! Both are reasonably priced and packed full of delicious, step-by-step visually appealing photographs and instructions for honest-to-goodness down-home food.

The author is right when she says that making biscuits can be tricky. I think the secret to a light and fluffy biscuit is in not overworking the dough. These biscuits have an excellent flavor but I had to cut the recipe in half which still made 8 good-sized biscuits. She is feeding a family of six, where it is just Jim and I. Also note that left-over biscuits can also be used for strawberry shortcake with whipped cream.

You won't be able to resist the urge to slap some butter on this treat immediately out of the oven!

4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored crisco)
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Next add the shortening and cold butter pieces, use a pastry blender or fork to form crumbs. Here is the tricky part: Pour in the buttermilk and mix only until combined. Lightly flour a cutting board, turn out dough and roll to desired thickness (I like about 1/2"). Use a biscuit cutter or an inverted glass dipped in flour to cut biscuits. For years, before I got a biscuit cutter I used an old green beans can that had both ends cut out--ha! I still use that stupid can when I make Grandy "G" bread--Something about old habits are hard to break.

Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake for 11 minutes or until golden. HINT: These biscuits brown very quickly at 450 degrees, so check them after 8 minutes.


Go to this website for more information on The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crab, Shrimp and Scallop Guyere Casserole with Lobster Newburg Sauce

The inspiration for this dish came from a lunch with my dear friend Carla at Pikes Landing. I had a toasted sandwich of crab, scallops and shrimp. While eating this wonderful lunch I couldn't help but think of my mushroom strata and how well these flavors would marry. My silly mushroom strata dish calls for a final topping of cream of mushroom soup. How obscene would that be with scallops, crab and shrimp! No way would I even consider this putrid combination. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even consider the 1 lb. of swiss and thought Guyere would be better instead. In place of the "Cream of Mushroom Soup"...a Lobster Newburg sauce would be much better....Okay, so realistically, if I were to place this decadent dish on my menu and serve to others, we are looking at over $50 a plate....still interested?

Cooks beware. This is a bitch to put together.

1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, broken apart and sliced
1 lb white mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, dioced
2 cups chopped red, yellow, and orange bell pepper
2 TBSP butter
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. crab
1 1/2 lb. raw shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1 lb. scallops, raw and quartered
2 TBSP parsley
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Restaurant grade pepper
1 lb. swiss cheese, cubed
1 lb. Guyere cheesecubed

6 slices thick white bread
margarine or butter to spread

4 eggs
1 cup whole milk

Lobster Newburg Sauce: (See again this list below....)
1 1/2 lbs lobster tail meat
4 egg yolks
1 Cup Heavy cream
1/4 cup Madeira
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter

To begin:
Slice the mushrooms, peppers and onions. Saute in butter until softened, remove from heat into a separate dish. Butter bread and cut into 1/2" cubes also set aside in a large bowl.

Melt 4 TBSP butter on low heat and add scallops and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is almost pink. Add the cooked crab and set aside.

Divide the cheeses into three equally cubed portions.

In a deep dish baking pan, line the bottom with buttered bread. Top with some of the mushroom/pepper, a 1/3 of the seafood and top with 1/3 of the cubed cheese. Continue layering process.

Mix eggs and milk, pour over the top. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Bake covered with foil at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Meanwhile make the Lobster Newburg Sauce.

Lobster tails should be premade before baking the casserole. Do this. On the underside of the lobster (the belly) cut up the side using a pair of kitchen shears. Do the same to the other side. cut the membrane near the tail to remove the belly casing. Next remoe the tail meat from the shell leaving it yet intact. Now lightly salt, squeeze lemon juice over the tail meat and place a slice of butter on the tail and wrap in foil. Bake tails for 15 minutes at 425. Remove tails and roughly chop and set aside.

Lobster Newburg:
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup madeira
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter melted
1 1/2 lb. lobster meat, chunked

Melt the butter, mix the yolk/cream/madeira together and add to the butter. Stir constantly until thickened. Do NOT boil this....add cayenne and nutmeg to taste. Add lobster to heat through...we are not overcooking the lobster here! Pour over the casserole and serve immediately with a glass of chilled Chardonnay. If you really love the person that you made this for, clean up your dishes and follow up with some sliced fresh strawberries and champagne.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baked Potato Salmon Chowder

I really didn't expect anyone to ask for this recipe.....But when I posted my dinner plans on FB I was enundated with requests for a recipe. This one is easy...kind of. You need to poach the salmon ahead of time, debone and flake it.

My Uncle Melvin loved this soup (then minus the salmon).

Poach 1 lb. salmon for 8 minutes on simmer, allow to sit for 10 minutes. Drain, skin, debone, flake and set aside.

4 large baked potatoes
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup chives
2 cups bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
2/3 cups butter
1 1/2 qts. half and half
1 cup sour cream
5 oz. cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste.

Bake potatoes. Skin and cube them to 1" cubes. Melt butter blend in flour, add half and half whisking contantly until thick. Add salt, pepper, potatoes, chives, cheese sour cream. Now add potatoes and deboned salmon heat through and serve.

Serving Suggestions: Crusty bread, salad, and Chardonnay

Baked Brown Rice with Onions and Roasted Red Peppers

I love all things natural and organic. This brown rice recipe requires some prep, but bakes in the oven and is really tasty.

1 TBSP. olive oil
2 medium minced onions
salt and pepper
2 1/4 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice, rinsed
3/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook until browned (12-14 minutes). Add water and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and stir in rice. Cover and bake until rice is tender, 65-70 minutes.

Remove from the oven, uncover and fluff the rice while stirring in roasted red peppers, Parmesan cheese, parsley and lemon juice.

Lay a clean folded kitchen towel under the lid and let sit for 10 minutes. Seasoin with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Warm Spinach & Shrimp Salad with Raspberry Vinegar Dressing

2 cups small shrimp, cooked
10 oz. fresh spinach
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 sweet pepper chopped
1/4 tsp. pepper

Hot Bacon Salad Dressing:
1/4 lb. bacon, chopped and fried crisp
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup Splenda
2 TBSP. water
1/2 tsp. ginger

Fry bacon to crisp. Add vinegar, Splenda, water and ginger and bring to a boil. Take off heat but keep warm. Heat butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes, add mushrooms and peppers, lower heat to medium low and cook until heated through. Add shrimp and drain all in a colander. Mix together the bacon dressing and the vegetable mixture. Tear spinach in a large bowl, top with dressing mix and serve. Optional: Very pretty salad with some grated Parmesano/Reggiano cheese on top.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza Oh My!

Good carbs vs. bad carbs

I'm trying really hard to stay away from bread and recently heard about this flourless crust. I think there might be a recipe on the Weight Watchers website for another version. While this is not a slice you can really pick up with your fingers and eat, it is very good and no one would be any wiser that it was actually made of cauliflower. The garlic and oregano really enhance the flavor of this crust.

One head of cauliflower will make 3 pizza crusts and each pizza will feed two people.

This is what you will need:

1 cup riced cauliflower (after riced, cooked in the microwave)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
Olive Oil (optional)

Pizza sauce, shredded cheese (I like to use a mix of fontina and mozzarella), your choice of toppings.


To "rice" the cauliflower:
Take one large head of cauliflower, remove stems and leaves and chop the florets into chunks. Place in a food processor and pulse until it resembles grain--DON'T overpulse to a puree. Or, if you don't have a food processor, grate the cauliflower florets using a cheese grater. Place the cauliflower "grains" in a microwave-safe dish and cook on high for 4 minutes, stir and microwave 4 more minutes, set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 and spray a pizza pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl stir together egg, mozzarella, oregano, garlic, garlic salt and cauliflower. Transfer to the cookie sheet and "mold" into a 9" round. Optional: Drizzle lightly with olive oil to help with browning.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned.

Remove from oven and assemble toppings. Place under broiler at high and heat until cheese is melted and toppings are hot.