Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yellow Spider Lilies

Lillies
These were in my yard – thanks Moma!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Onion & Garlic Jam


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Onions and garlic are two of the food flavorings that I love the most in the world.  I put them in just about everything.  The mantra Golden Brown Means Delicious says it all – doesn’t it?  If you put onions and garlic together with that mantra – you get this jam.  It is heaven.  It goes great with a cheese and charcuterie platter – which is how I first encountered it.  It is fabulous on top of a sizzling steak.  Put it on a pizza and you will be in heaven.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!  Let’s get to making some, shall we?
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Here are the simple – and cheap – ingredients:  onions – I used about 8 medium sliced, 4 heads of garlic – cloves – peeled, 1 cup olive oil, 3 Tablespoons agave nectar (or sugar), 2 Tablespoons vinegar ( I used pinot noir because I had it – any kind you have will work), several sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 Tablespoon salt.
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In my non-stick wok – I put a bit of olive oil, the thyme sprigs, salt,  and the onions that I cut in half and slice up on a medium fire.  I didn’t want the onions to be too long and stringy when cooked down – that is why I cut them in half before I sliced them.  I put the thyme sprigs in whole because I do not like to pick the leaves off – too tedious a task for me – I will fish the sprigs out after the onions cook down a bit and the leaves fall off.  Work smarter – not harder I always say!

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At the same time, in a smaller pot – I put the garlic to cook with the rest of the oil on a really low fire.  I wanted the garlic to cook to a really soft texture and brown a bit.  I also wanted to flavor the oil for other uses.  This cannot be done at a high, or really at a medium temperature.  Take your time and just do it low and slow – you will be really pleased with the results.

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I added a bit of water to the onions and covered them – and when the water had evaporated and the onions just started to brown I stirred it up, added a bit more water and covered it again.  When this happened again – the little leaves had fallen off of the thyme sprigs and the onions had taken on the flavor of the thyme – it was time to fish out the thyme!  You really don’t want to wait until the onions are really dark brown – it is hard to see the dark brown sprigs then –you know?

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This is how dark I like the garlic. 

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I strained the scrumptious garlic flavored olive oil for future use, not sure what I will use it for – but I know I will!

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At this point, the onions were also brown enough, so I added the 3 Tablespoons of vinegar to them and stirred.  Watch your eyes!  Vinegar can get to you!  Do a taste test.  You might need to add a bit of nectar or sugar at this time to balance the acid – I know I did.  I then added the garlic and smashed it up and incorporated them well into the onions.  My goal was to make enough to fill two containers – one for me and one for my sister.

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I did exactly that!!!  Man – I was spot on today!!!!
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This stuff is some good – let me tell you!
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The salt is necessary to bring out the flavors.  The vinegar is necessary because the acid balances the sweetness.  Thyme is just a natural with onions.
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This is my version of Onion & Garlic Jam – try it – I think you will really like it!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yummy Breakfast Burrito

 

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This is what I had for supper tonight.  I had a craving for a lot of protein that was easy to digest and quick to fix.  My husband is out of town on business.  My child is recovering from a tummy bug and was not really hungry.  So, I was left to fend for myself.  I decided to just have a yummy breakfast burrito! 

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This is what I used:  2 teaspoons butter divided, 3 yard eggs scrambled, 1/2 onion very small dice, 1/4 yellow bell pepper very small dice, 3 strips bacon, 3 Tablespoons refried beans, 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 large jalapeno cheddar tortilla, salt to taste.

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I did my mise-en-place before I started to cook because everything cooks really fast. The bacon was already cooked.   This meal came together in a few minutes.  This is why I used two different pots.  One for the eggs.  One for the onions and peppers and beans with cheese.

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I add the beans and salt to the onions and peppers immediately.  I like the crunch! 

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I have the bacon and the tortilla going for 30 seconds covered in the microwave across the kitchen as…

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I cover the eggs to finish them cooking and…

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add the cheese to the refried bean mixture to melt!  You have to be able to multi-task to fix this meal!

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The cheese melts in seconds – yum!!!  Time to assemble!

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I have the bacon on the bottom.  Then the layer of the bean mixture.

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Then the eggs!!!  This monster required a knife and fork.  Picking it up and man-handling it was not an option!  Trust me – it was delicious!!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sausage Gravy!

 

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I can’t really title this “Biscuits and Sausage Gravy!” because I really didn’t make the biscuits from scratch.  I know what you are thinking – I have a BS in Culinary Arts and I used frozen biscuits – the horror.  Heck – I like them.  If you want to make biscuits from scratch – you go right ahead!  It is just not my thing.  Now, sausage gravy, on the other hand – is my thing!!!!

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These are the ingredients I use:   Fresh ground pork – oh about 1/2 lb., 1 medium onion really small dice, salt and cayenne to taste, 1/2 cup all purpose flour,  3 about cups milk, 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 1/2 cup cream.

 

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I first brown the pork.  This renders the lard. I add some salt and cayenne at this time.

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Golden Brown Means Delicious!  Time to add the onions!

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See how nice and small those are – they really disappear into the gravy!  You want to try to brown those a bit in the rendered lard.  This adds a bit of sweetness to the gravy that is really yummy!

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When your onions are browned a bit, you want to get rid of some of the excess rendered lard – well, at least I do!  If you want to leave that in there – you can!  I just don’t think we need that much in there…

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I just leaned the pot on the sheet pan I baked the biscuits on and used the spoon to skim out the grease into a bowl.  At this point,  add your 1/2 cup of flour and stir to mix well.  Let the flour cook for at least 2 minutes.  I cook it for at least 5.  But, I am Cajun, and we always tend to like to make a darker roux than most people.

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Then, you want to add your milk and your thyme.  I use lactaid milk because my husband and child are lactose intolerant – only reason.  Use whichever kind of milk you would like!  I just throw the thyme sprigs in whole because I do not like to pick thyme.  Please do not serve the thyme sprigs to anyone – they are not really edible – they are sticks!  Just pay attention when you are serving and pick them out…

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Remember, your gravy will not come to its full thickness until it boils!  Stir so you don’t get lumps!

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Turn off the heat and finish with heavy cream.  I find this adds a nice sweetness and creaminess like nothing else!  If you are going to eat Sausage Gravy – you might as well go all the way! (and we did skim out the extra lard – right?)

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Now split open a biscuit and pour on some gravy.

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Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the morning.  If you find you don’t have enough gravy – and looking at this photo – I don’t think we do – go back to the pot and add some more!  I know we have more biscuits!  And I made extra gravy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Toaster Oven Tortilla Pizza

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This is a must have recipe for every busy mom or wife – or person for that matter - on the planet! It will fill your need for protein and a good snack in a flash!  The possibilities are endless!  I always have tortillas on hand.  Those things are great for a quick meal – quesadillas, burritos, wraps, tacos, and this wonder – the Toaster Oven Pizza!  Usually I have pepperoni on hand – but I ran out the other day – I will run to the grocery after the dentist in a few and get some more for sure – time for that 6 month cleaning!  I did not – so I used the other thing I always have on hand – Black Forest Ham.  I love smoked ham!  I always have shredded cheese on hand – but if you don’t have that – you could use sliced cheese.  You could make this a veggie pizza and put peppers and onions!  How about olives – yum, my favorite.  Go Hawaiian and add pineapple – I do that for my husband – it makes him really happy when he is doing yard work!  I usually do not add red sauce because that makes the cheese slide off too easily.  But, you can if you would like to.  No lie – this will be on your plate in about 5 minutes!  You can’t beat that!
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Here is what I used for this version.  Simple small flour tortillas. Mild Shredded Cheddar Cheese. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, Deli Sliced Black Forest Ham.
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I put the tortilla on the rack of the toaster oven and put the ham on the tortilla.
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Add the cheese.  I try not to put the cheese too close to the edges.  It tends to ooze off the edges if you do and just makes a mess that you have to clean – and I don’t like to clean…
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I slip the rack into the toaster over – set at about 400° F and turn it on convection.  I pay close attention to the oven.  This is a high temperature and it will cook fast!
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Isn’t that just beautiful!  If you are not careful – this can burn quickly!  Depending on the size of your toaster oven – you can do more than one at a time – or larger tortillas! 
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When I the cheese is nice and melted and the tortilla is a bit brown, this usually takes less than 5 minutes, I turn off the toaster oven and pull the tortilla pizza with a pair of tongs onto a plate.  I transfer the tortilla to a cutting board.  I wait about 10 seconds for the cheese to set up.  I usually can’t wait any longer.  The hungry person is usually clamoring for the pizza at this point! 
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I cut the pizza with a big knife into wedges and slip it onto a plate and serve it up!
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Now that is a wonderful snack!
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Go ahead – make you one!!! You know you want one!

Chicken Livers Braised with Garlic

 

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I am continuing with my desire for simple flavors and simple preparations.  It must have something to do with me simplifying my life in general – getting myself ready to go to Colombia again, I guess.  I also get cravings for chicken livers about twice a year.  William is working on a special project for three weeks in New Orleans, so I took advantage of that fact and cooked some chicken livers for myself, as he is not a big fan.  This preparation could not be easier – or tastier – in my opinion. 

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Three simple ingredients:  Chicken Livers, garlic and salt.  That is it. – Ok – a bit of water – but does that really count?

 

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Rinse your livers, checking them to make sure they are all nice and good to go!

 

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Put them in your non-stick pot with some salt.

 

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As they start to brown – peel and chop your garlic – as much as you like.  I like a lot of garlic, as you can see.  Use as much as YOU like.  If you do not like garlic – don’t use any!  Heck – if you like onions – put that in!

 

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Yep – I use my Pastry thingie to put the garlic in the pot!

 

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That is just a beautiful site to me!

 

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Stir it up and make sure it browns up well.  Add a bit of water and cover.

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Let it braise for about 10 minutes to cook the livers through.  During the time you cook the livers – cook a pot of rice and maybe some fries.  I think cucumbers also go really nice with this – a nice contrast in flavor and texture.

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I admit – Camille Ana ate the tomatoes – not me! This supper really made me happy!