Saturday, March 31, 2012

Corn Pone, Cornbread, Aunt Marcia's is the best!

My Aunt Marcia made the best cornbread, Hands-Down, EVER. You want a winner? This is it. Yes, it is a sweet recipe and an easy to make cornbread, but you can add jalapenos to it and it is just as good. I am serving this tonight with a -salmon chili....yup, we like it hot....there are lots of red peppers, chili and beans.....Aunt Marcia's Cornbread is the ONLY saving grace.

1 C cornmeal
1 C flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar (yep I like it sweet)
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 C milk
1/4 C oil..(to be honest, I use Olive oil)

Cook for 20-25 minutes.

REALLY? SERIOUSLY?....UM LIKE....NOPE. You won't find a better recipe than this for cornbread....My southern realatives have my back on this and my Southwestern cousins have me covered in the southwest.....thank you God for relatives all over the place....but couldn't you throw in some Asian culture? Once you try this cornbread you will never go back.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fall-Apart Pork Butt AKA Pulled Pork

Jim and I love Big Daddy's BBQ here in Fairbanks! They even won best BBQ in Texas which is saying a lot! I will be using a local Fairbanks bottled BBQ sauce in the end called Lead Dog BBQ Sauce, (I get it at the organic market off of Airport) it's a little on the sweet-side, which I normally do not like, but this is good sauce.

1 pork butt (5 lbs)
1 head of garlic
1/3 cup worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 6oz cans pineapple juice
1/2 tsp. salt

Trim excess fat off the butt (gosh don't we wish it could be that easy with humans?) Peel and slice large garlic cloves into slivers. Punch a hole in the butt and insert a garlic clove. Repeat all over the meat. Sprinkle worcestershire sauce all over the butt, cover and chill overnight.

Heat the oven to 400. Now massage brown sugar into the meat. Pour pineapple juice in the bottom of the pan-AVOID pouring over the brown sugar. Cover the butt with a tight lid.

Place in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 200. Cook for at least 5 hours. Test...the meat should be so tender that it literally falls apart.

Remove the meat from the pan and add salt to the juices in the bottom. Serve the meat with the juices or use barbecue sauce and serve on grilled buns.

I'm serving ours with oven roasted yams.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Panko and Macadamia Nut Crusted Salmon

The Fairbanks Cookbook Club recommended the Panko-Crusted Salmon recipe in our adopted cookbook, "How Easy is That?". I really love my macadamia nut crusted salmon and it only made sense to combine both recipes. We all agree that salmon loves lemon and parsley. But salmon also loves nuts, panko crumbs and a dash of this is a perfect match of ingredients coming together to deliver the most for our subsistence fish in Alaska. How funny that I took out a package from the freezer to find that they are all tails (Jim's favorite part of the fish).

2/3 cup panko crumbs (Japanese bread flakes)
2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup finely minced macadamia nuts
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 TBSP. good olive oil (Yep...I paid $23 for a pint!)
4 - 6 to 8 oz fillets of salmon, skin on
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 TBSP vegetable oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Heat the oven to 425. Mix together panko, parsley, nuts, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and stir the crumbs until they are evenly coated.

Spread salmon with mustard, then salt and pepper the fillets. Next, press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each fillet. The mustard will help the crumb mix to adhere.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet. Add salmon skin side down and sear for 4 not turn.

Transfer fish to a baking dish and bake in the oven for 7 minutes or until salmon is ALMOST done and panko is browned. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Let fish rest for 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Gumbo Z'Herbes (Green Gumbo)

When I think about greens, I first think of my mother who never met a green she didn't like and passed on her love of all forms of Brassica to all her children. I think of the simplicity of southern food--AKA comfort food. I think of my garden in summer and giving away the leafy, nutritious treasures to friends, pressure canning dozens of jars and shelving them for cold days like this in the dead of winter.

This hearty dish is described as one that breaks all the rules about gumbo. It uses neither okra or file'. It is the only gumbo in which the roux is not prepared first. Originally, it contained no meat, seafood, or game. Futhermore, it also does not contain the holy trinity or magic three of peppers, celery and onion. This gumbo started out as a traditional Lenten dish to be served on Good Friday. Legend had it that you would make as many friends as the number of different greens you put in the pot. Eight greens = eight new friends. The flavor that evolves from combining many different greens is what makes this gumbo so delicious. Today, this dish has seen the addition of meat. Like all gumbos, expect an obscene amount so be prepared to either share with a crowd or freeze the leftovers. The most difficult part of making this dish is washing, rinsing and preparing the greens.

For you haters of gumbo--No, there is no okra or file' in this recipe. That's usually the first question people ask me when I make and offer gumbo. I don't know what it is that people hate about okra. Okay, it does have that "snot-like" consistency, I'll give you that, but the good: okra is low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of protein, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium and manganese. Never mind the lecture about the benefits of okra, and I'll get off the okra soapbox--as I said, this gumbo does not call for okra!

The recipe comes from "The New Orleans Cookbook" by Rima and Richard Collin, ISBN: 0-394-75257-9, April 1987.

Greens: As many of these as are available, a minimum of 5 is adequate, 7-8 are perfect
*most of these greens I had canned from our garden--they need not be fresh picked (I used collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, parsley, spinach, radish tops, cabbage, chicory and kale)

Select from the following:
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch turnip greens
1 bunch shallots (scallions)
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch watercress
1 bunch spinach
1 bunch beet tops
1 bunch radish tops (I didn't know you could eat radish tops and always threw them away!)
1 small head green cabbage
1 bunch chicory (AKA Belgian Endive--who knew!)
1 bunch carrot tops
1 bunch kale

Gumbo Base:
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 lb. lean baked ham, cut into cubes
1/2 lb. Creole (Polish, French garlic, Portugese)sausage cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 lb. veal or chicken cut into 1/2" cubes (I used chicken)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup flour

Liquid and Seasonings:
2 qt. chicken stock plus 1/3 cup cold water (I used turkey stock I made and froze last year)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne (we like it spicy so I used more)
2 whole bay leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
2 whole cloves
6 whole allspice

Rice: Enough for everyone
Louisianna Hot Sauce: Garnish

Wash the greens really well--they have a reputation for holding onto sand and dirt. Place greens in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain excess water. Place greens in heavy 3 to 4 quart pot or dutch oven. Add 1/3 cup cold water and turn the heat to medium high. When the liquid at the bottom of the pan begins to boil, cover the pan tightly, reduce the heat to medium low and cook the greens for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Remove the pan from the heat and reserve the liquid formed from cooking by draining the greens. Chop the cooked greens fine and set aside.

In a large 7-8 quart pot heat the oil, keep heat at medium-low and add the flour. Stir constantly until flour reaches a peanut butter color. Add onion and stir thoroughly and continue browning for 5 more minutes stirring constantly. Add the ham, sausage, veal/chicken and the liquid reserved from the greens. Mix well and stir in the greens and seasonings. Turn the heat to low and add 2 quarts broth. Bring the gumbo to a boil, reduce heat again and simmer for 1 1/4 hours stirring every now and then. Serve over rice--of course! For those of us who like it REALLY spicy, dash on some Louisianna Hot Sauce.

So, I used 9 different greens, so I am now eagerly awaiting making 9 new friends.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Neiman Marcus Cookies or Million Dollar Cookies

First let me put to rest the myth about Neiman Marcus and those wonderful chocolate chip cookies. According to Snopes...the lawsuit is not real!

I am adapting only one dozen of these cookies for my sweet, hunky hubby...a coffee addict....I am embedding a coffee bean in each of his cookies. I will only do this for him.

1. This recipe makes an obscene amount of in the 100's. They are addictive, you will want to share them with everyone.

2. You will be spending an enormous amount of prep need to turn oats into an oat flour using a food processor or blender

3. There are many expensive ingredients. Be patient or if you can't afford hours and hours baking them--then bypass this.

1 lb. unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups blended oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
24 oz. chocolate chips (I use 1 pkg. of dark chocolate and 1 pkg. of semi-sweet chocolate)
1 3.5 oz. bar Lindt Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt (grated)
3 cups chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
*OPTIONAL: coffee bean or coursely ground coffe beans

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal (that has been previously blended), salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Lindt bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two-inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (it makes clean-up so much easier). Bake for 15 minutes at 375. Makes approximately 112 cookies.

An Appetizer Worth Mentioning Soppressata and Cheese in Puff Pastry

I joined the Fairbanks Cookbook Club last month and the first cookbook we chose was "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? I must admit I was a little leary because Ina has always just been a little too fancy and involved of a chef for me. I'm just a simple, down-home cook who enjoys cooking basic, feel-good, healthy foods. I have been, however, pleasantly surprised by all of the recipes I have tried in this book. Even though she is a little heavy on the salt in some places (thank goodness I adjust before adding it all!), it has been a pleasure trying these recipes and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to get a copy. Putting in a plug here for those of you who live in, or close to Fairbanks, please support our locally-owned bookstore, Gulliver's Books--who give so much back to the community and public education. ISBN: 978-0-307-23876-4 $35.00 is a lot in my opinion to spend on a cookbook, but this one, you will find, is well worth your investment.

Here is a link to Gullivers: (While here, also look for their step-by-step recipe for Hungarian Mushroom Soup served only on Thursdays and is to die for!)

This recipe will make a fabulous appetizer, or a great addition to a brunch or lunch with a side salad. As an appetizer, expect about 8 servings, as an entree with a salad, expect 4-6 servings.

1 package (2) sheets frozen puff pastry (defrosted)
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
12 thin slices soppressata salami (3 1/2") diameter. I had to use a different salami from the deli section.
6 oz. Guyere cheese, grated
1 egg with 1 TBSP water, beaten to brush the crust.

Set oven to 450. Roll out a sheet of pastry to 10". Place pastry on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread with Dijon leaving a 1" border. Top with salami, then grated cheese. Brush the 1" border with a little of the egg wash. Roll out next sheet of pastry to 10" and cover the ingredients with this sheet. Brush the pastry with egg wash. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife. Cut all four sides to make even (this also SEALS your pastry.)

Bake 12 minutes. Place another parchment paper over the top of the pastry, lift and flip the sheet over to bake the other side. Remove the parchment paper and bake the unbaked flipped side 12 more minutes or until brown and flaky. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.

Honestly, I am all about changing up recipes whenever I can, tweaking them to make them my own. But this recipe stands apart and I wouldn't change one thing.

Other recipes I've tried and enjoyed from this book are: Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts, Stilton and Walnut Crackers, Buttermilk Ranch Dressing with Bibb Lettuce, Roasted Vegetable Frittata, Baked Fontina, Lemon Chicken Breasts, Roasted Shrimp with Feta, Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower, Flat (Green) Beans with Pecorino, Potato Basil Puree and Cranberry Apple Easy Cake

Proscuitto and Asparagus-Artichoke Pasta

This recipe comes from Sunset magazine, March, 2012 pg. 100. Thinking of my friend Georgina who is allergic to shellfish but loves pasta, I came upon this dish and thought of her. I had some steamed artichokes and added two diced artichoke crowns to the original recipe. We love garlic so I doubled this ingredient. We also enjoy the bite that chile flakes provide so I was liberal with that ingredient as well. Don't skimp on using cheap olive oil or parmesan either--it's worth investing in the good stuff.

8 oz. Angel Hair or Spaghetti
1 TBSP. good olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 oz. thinkly sliced and diced proscuitto
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
2 artichoke crowns, cubed
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. chile flakes

Cook the pasta, drain and return to pot. While pasta is cooking, heat oil over medium-high, cook onion, garlic, and mushrooms for 2-4 minutes. Add proscuitto, asparagus, artichokes and cook until asparagus is tender and bright about 2-4 minutes. Add cream, cheese, pepper and chile flakes. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until sauce has thickened (4-5 minutes). Plate the pasta and pour the sauce over the top. Toss to coat and serve with a light dusting of parmesan. This recipe goes very well with Soppressata and Cheese in Puff Pastry as an appetizer (see next blog)