Coming soon: Smoked pork tamales
December 30, 2010, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Easy but not quick, Holidays, Nibbles, Pork, Technique

Terry has a party coming up for the National Championship football game (WAR EAGLE! GO TIGERS!) and i offered to make tamales for it, since I am not making them for New Years Day. Typically they’re made with a beef or pork roast, slow cooked, then seasoned for the filling. this time, however, I am going to smoke a boston butt, like one would for making Barbeque. Only with different seasonings in the rub: cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic, onion… stuff like you’d use to make tacos or fajitas. I have a quart of homemade pork stock in the freezer to use for the masa paste. Anyway…pcitures will be taken , process recorded, and you’ll know how to make smoked pork tamales. The party is on the 10th, I’ll make the tamales Monday or Tuesday and freeze them. They microwave better than just about anything….


Super Simple Christmas Day Food
December 23, 2010, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Holidays, Nibbles, Quick and Easy

I don’t cook Christmas Dinner. Christmas Eve, yes, but not Christmas Day. It’s a day for indulging in mimosas for breakfast, bloody marys for lunch, and a pick-me-up caffiene of rum and coke at 3. Then eggnog with bourbon. Oh and some food, too.

Sundried tomato and pesto dip
1-8oz block neufchatel cheese, softened
1 generous handful sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons pesto from a jar
Saute the garlic in the olive oil for about 30 seconds. Then add the white wine and tomatoes, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the wine is absorbed into the tomatoes. Throw everything (including the cream cheese and pesto) into a food processor with a blade and whiz away until it’s well mixed. It ain’t pretty but it’s delicious. Serve with crackers or pita chips or something like that.

Cheese Ball
2-8oz blocks neufchatel cheese, softened
2-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 package Ranch Dressing mix
about 1-1/2 cups sliced almonds, toasted and cooled.
In a food processor, mix together the cheeses and ranch dressing mix. Dump onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Roll the ball in the toasted almonds, kind of crushing the almonds as you do it until the ball is completely covered with almonds. Wrap tightly and refrigerate to firm it up. Serve with crackers or whatever.

Incredibly easy yet surprisingly delicious Heart Attack In A Crock Pot

1-2 pound chunk of velveeta cheese stuff
1 pound bulk sausage, your favorite kind (I like Jimmy Dean), cooked and crumbled
Cut the Velveeta up in little chunks and put it in a crock pot. Turn it on high and stir occasionally until it’s all melted. Stir in the sausage. Turn the crockpot on low and serve with corn chips.

Hummus My Way
2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup tahini (I make my own but you can buy it in jars just fine)
2 or 3 (or 4) cloves of minced garlic, depending on how close you intend to get to your spouse that night
2 green onions, sliced including the green parts
2 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)
a splash (like just a teeny bit, maybe 1/4 teaspoon or so) toasted sesame oil
Mix everything together in a food processor with a blade until it’s a smoothish paste. Taste and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. To serve, put it in a bowl and drizzle a bit of really good olive oil over it, and dust it with some paprika. Serve with pita chips, crackers, whatever.

The hummus is my way of preserving the balance of the universe against the Heart Attack In A Crockpot. I’ll also cut up raw vegs and fruit to set out.

For cracker type things, I like to take flour tortillas and cut them into cracker sized pieces, and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they are golden brown and toasty-crisp. Using fancy tortillas (like those garlic-herb ones, or the whole wheat ones) works well and really they’re delicious as crackers.

Tamale Pie
December 21, 2010, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Poultry, Quick and Easy, Supper

once again, in spite of my best intentions, I forgot to take pictures. Woe! I’ll never be famous that way!

Tamale pie is warm and filling and delicious. It’s essentially a layer of cornmeal mush with chili on top and cheese on top of that- what’s not to love?
Typically I make a big ol’ vat of chili, feed my voracious family (for some reason the fledgelings return whenever chili is announced), and use the leftovers for tamale pie a couple of days later. however, last time I made chili (Saturday), I got all smart n stuff, and made half as much chili, thinking O, there’s just 3 of us now, and we all know the Scythian Horde will not descend upon us on a Saturday night, for they will be doing Horde-ish things at Don Corleone’s. So in my smug complacency I made a little pot of chili, just enough for 3 with leftovers enough for tamale pie. Alas, hubris happened, and The Horde descended like a flock of be-starved vultures,swooping in and eating all the chili and demanding to know why I didn’t make enough fo them to take some to their apartments for breakfast Sunday morning. I had no answer, just remorse.

Anyway, last night was chilly and damp, and even though there was no leftover chili, tamale pie was still definitely in order. There was, in the freezer, the remnants of a roasted chicken (for broth, I roasted the bird and picked off the meat for later, before using the bones and such to make the broth), and in the pantry were cans of tomatoes and navy beans, just what was needed for a white chicken chili…Joy! And thus chicken tamale pie for supper. Warm, filling, and delicious the next day in the form of leftovers. It is one of those meals that improves with a day or so of aging in the fridge.

White Chicken Chili Tamale Pie

For the chili:
About 1 pound of cooked chicken (let’s call it 2 big breasts if you want to…),shredded
2 cups chicken broth
1-14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can navy or great northern beans, undrained
1 tablespoon dried onion pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted coriander (optional, I know not everyone keeps this in their cabinet)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less or not at all, depending on how spicy you like it)
Mix it all together in a pot and simmer uncovered until it’s cooked down and is nice and thick. Stir it now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick. adjust the seasoning, adding salt if you need to, or more of this spice or that…

Now you’ve made the chili, it’s time to make the mush.

4 cups water in a pot
dash of salt
Bring the salted water to a rolling boil. With a whisk, stir in
1 cup ground cornmeal. yellow or white, it doesn’t matter. Don’t use cornbread mix. Use plain cornmeal.
turn the heat down to simmer
Stir constantly with a whisk until it’s thick like porridge. This is quick, maybe 5 minutes. Guess what! you’ve made POLENTA…only not this time. this time it’s just cornmeal mush.

To assemble the tamale pie, pour the mush into a greased casserole dish. Spread the chili on top (remember, if you’ve made chili and are using leftovers, this is COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE. If you deal regularly with The Scythian Horde or perhaps Philistines, bear this in mind and make plenty). Once the chili is spread, sprinkle some cheese on top. however much you like. ! prefer co-jack, but with chicken chili, pepperjack is quite good.
Bake this at 350F until the cheese starts to brown and the whole thing is kind of bubbly…maybe 30 minutes if the mush and chili are hot when youput them together, perhaps a little longer if you’re using leftovers from the fridge.

If you want to, you could add corn to either the chili or the mush…it would be tasty!

Holiday Dietary Rules
December 19, 2010, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

*1.* *Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet
table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots,
leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls. **

**2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare.. You cannot
find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has
10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an
eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have
two. It’s later than you think. It will soon be Christmas! **

**3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy.
Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed
potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat. **
**4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or
whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car
with an automatic transmission. **

**5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control
your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other
people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? **

**6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s.
You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the
time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while
carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog. **

**7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like
frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself
near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the
center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave
them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
**8. Same for pies. Apple**,** **Pumpkin**,** **Mincemeat. Have a slice of
each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin.
Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor
** **Day**? **

**9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory
celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, please, have some
standards! **
**10. One final tip: Wear sweatpants/loose fitting clothing. If you are
leaving the party and you can walk without help from a construction
forklift, “you haven’t been paying attention, people!” Re-read tips; start
over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to
live by: **

**”Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving
safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in
sideways, chocolate and drink in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally
worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”** **

Have a great holiday season!!

Orange Almond Biscotti
December 11, 2010, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Cookies, Easy but not quick, Holidays

Biscotti are those fancy cookies you pay $3 for one of in a coffee shop. People go “oo aa you make biscotti? oo aaa!” but let me tell you, it’s easy to make, doesn’t take any fancy tools or ingredients. And, because they’re PRE-STALE… they make great gifts because they don’t go stale, they’re already there!

Now, I make them good and hard. They’re practically impossible to eat unless you dunk them in something hot. Hard as rocks, they are. Delicious rocks.
This recipe is pretty basic, and if you’re adventurous youcan shake it up by using different nuts, throwing in raisins,dried cherries or cranberries, add cinnamon or nutmeg (or both!), depending on your sense of adventure. Or… youcan make it exactly by this recipe and have a delicious, crunchy cookie that your kids will ask for instead of a fancydinner for their birthday. I know this is true because just this morning my 21 year old son passed up the opportunity for steak sandwiches with gorgonzola-red pepper sauce to get a batch of these.

Here we go.

Orange Almond biscotti
1 cup whole almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teapoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 heaping tablespoon fresh orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toast the almonds for about 10 minutes until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool then chop coarsely.

I like to chop them by hand, a food processor makes some too fine, some too coarse

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Lightly oil a cookie sheet.

In a small bowl beat together the eggs, extracts, and orange zest

In the bowl of your mixer, combine the dry stuff

Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and throw in the almonds sometime

Let the mixer (or your hands) work it until it's all combined and a stiff dough

Dump the dough onto a counter and form it into a log about 12 inches long

Bake the log in a 300 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until it’s (very) lightly browned and firm to the touch. Let it cool for 10 minutes (but not more!!) and slice it into 1/2 inch thick slices. A serrated knife works best for this. If you wait until it’s completely cooled to slice, it will make a crumbled mess and be near-impossible. So, let it cool NO MORE THAN 10 minutes. I reckon you could try to slice it after 5 minutes, but it might be kind of hot to handle.

Lay the slices back on the cookie sheet, and bake at 300 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes more, turning after 15 minutes. now, I have a convection oven and find that baking them at 275 degrees on convect makes a stellar hard, dry cookie, so if you have that option, USE IT. If not, you’re cookies will be fine, it just takes a little bit longer for them to bake.

All baked and toasty

After they’re done and out of the oven, melt half a bag of your favorite chocolate chips (I use Hershey’s Special Dark) in the microwave. Put them in a bowl, melt for 30 seconds, stir, do it again for 15 seconds, stir, and again for another 10 seconds at a time until it’s allmelted and a wee bit runny.
Then dip a fork in the chocolate and sling it all over the cookies, or you can dip the cookies in the chocolate, however you see fit. I like to sling the stuff because I need an excuse to change my clothes.

With chocolate slung all over. I get the one with the blob.

New Years Resolution
December 8, 2010, 11:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

To try and get pictures while I’m cooking.

Thing is, in the kitchen I get a little carried away, slinging stuff around and such, and never remember to have the camera, or when I do it gets flour and schmutz all over it plus I’m not exactly a stellar photographer and the pictures never turn out as pretty as the ones I see on other cooking sites.

I’ve read that if your cooking site has pretty pictures people will notice it. I’ll try, y’all. But no promises. Plus it’s an expensive-ass camera and getting schmutz on it makes me nervous. What happens when i take it in to get cleaned and the tech guy says “what is this goop?” and that voids the warranty? Maybe i oughta get a cheap kitchen camera.

Last night I made this delicious Beef and Stout Pie with a blue cheese crust, and remembered to take pictures until I got excited,put the crust on and baked it then we ate it and I said “shoot I never took pictures of the finished pie! or of how to make the blue cheese crust!” Would you trust me if I told you how to do it and didn’t have pictures? it’s really really easy…but I don’t have pictures…

December 8, 2010, 11:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized