Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yellow Spider Lilies

These were in my yard – thanks Moma!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Onion & Garlic Jam

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?
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.
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!

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.

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?

This is how dark I like the garlic. 

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

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.

I did exactly that!!!  Man – I was spot on today!!!!
This stuff is some good – let me tell you!
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.
This is my version of Onion & Garlic Jam – try it – I think you will really like it!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yummy Breakfast Burrito



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! 


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.


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.


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


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


I cover the eggs to finish them cooking and…


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


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


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


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!



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!!!!


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.



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


Golden Brown Means Delicious!  Time to add the onions!


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!


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…


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.


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…


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


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?)


Now split open a biscuit and pour on some gravy.


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

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!
Here is what I used for this version.  Simple small flour tortillas. Mild Shredded Cheddar Cheese. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, Deli Sliced Black Forest Ham.
I put the tortilla on the rack of the toaster oven and put the ham on the tortilla.
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…
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!
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! 
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! 
I cut the pizza with a big knife into wedges and slip it onto a plate and serve it up!
Now that is a wonderful snack!
Go ahead – make you one!!! You know you want one!

Chicken Livers Braised with Garlic




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. 


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



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



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



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!



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



That is just a beautiful site to me!



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


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.


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