Thursday, January 31, 2008

SUPER FOOD for the Super Bowl

We’re venturing out of Redneck Land for today’s menus.
Depending on who you’re rootin’ for, here’s some good stuff to try on Super Bowl Sunday:

Starters: Cape Codder & New England Clam Chowder
Halftime Show: New England Crab Rolls and Boston baked beans
4th Quarter Snack: Codcakes
Sweet ending: Cranberry Maple Walnut Sundaes

Starters: Long Island Tea & Manhatten Style Clam Chowder
Halftime Show: New York Strip steak with Tapenade and Giant Baked Beans with Roasted pepper
4th Quarter Snack: Coach Farm Cheese Spread
Sweet ending: NY Style Cheesecake

The Recipes:

Cape Codder
For each serving: In a highball glass with ice, combine 2 oz. vodka and 5 oz. cranberry juice. Garnish with lime slice.

New England Clam Chowder
In a heavy pan, sauté 3 ounces julienned salt pork, 1 medium finely chopped onion until pork is crisp and onion is soft. Stir in 2 small red potoatoes, unpeeled and diced and add 1 cup chicken broth or stock. Simmer until potatoes are tender and the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in about 25 fresh, shucked clams (or one 6 ½ ounce can minced clams, undrained). Simmer 2-4 minutes. Stir in 1 ½ cups half and half and heat through, but do not boil.

Crab Rolls
For two servings: Whisk together 6 Tblsp mayonnaise, 1 Tblsp lemon juice and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper. Mix in ¾ pound crabmeat and 3 Tblsp finely chopped green onions. Butter the inside of two hoagies and grill until nicely toasted. Heap the crab filling onto the rolls and serve.

Boston Baked Beans
Soak one pound dry pinto beans overnight. Drain and set aside. Dice and cook ½ pound bacon until crisp. Add 1 cup chopped onions and sauté until limp. Place beans, bacon, onions, 1 cup ketchup, ¼ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup cider vinegar, 2 Tblsp dry mustard, 2 Tblsp molasses and 1 ½ Tblsp minced garlic in a large pot. Bake, uncovered in 350 oven about 4 hours, or until beans are tender. If desired, stir in 1 tsp salt at end of cooking time.

In medium saucepan, cover 2-3 cod fillets with water and bring to a simmer. Drain and cool. Grate 4 peeled potatoes and place in large mixing bowl. Stir in 2 large eggs, 2 Tblsp flour, ¼ cup finely chopped onion and ¼ tsp celery salt. Break the cooled cod into flakes and add to potatoes. Mix well. Place by rounded Tablespoons onto hot, greased griddle or skillet and cook on both sides until lightly browned. Serve with tartar sauce for dipping.

Cranberry Maple Walnut Sundaes
In a saucepan, simmer 1 ½ cups maple syrup 5 minutes. Stir in ½ cup cranberries and ½ cup finely chopped walnuts. Remove from heat and let cool. Serve over premium vanilla OR coffee ice cream.

Long Island Tea
For each serving: In a tall glass partially filled with ice cubes, pour ½ ounce each of gin, vodka, light rum, tequila, triple sec, 2 Tblsp lemon juice, 1 tsp sugar and finish filling with Coca Cola.

Manhattan Style Clam Chowder
Chop 4 slices bacon and fry until almost crisp. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped celery stalk, 3 minced garlic cloves. Cook until onion & celery are tender. Add two 16 ounce cans diced tomatoes, 1 bay leaf, ½ tsp dried thyme, one 8 ounce bottle clam juice, one 8 oz. can tomato sauce and 1 large peeled & diced potato. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in two 6 ½ ounce cans minced clams, undrained and heat through.

New York Strip with Tepenade
Season steaks as desired and sear both sides in hot skillet. Turn and fry to desired doneness. Tapenade: Place ½ cup slivered almonds; one 8 ounce jar unstuffed green olives, drained; 5 Tblsp olive oil; 2 Tblsp capers; 4 anchovies and 2 garlic cloves in food processor or blender. Blend until fine paste forms. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Giant Baked Beans (get it? GIANT?)
Soak ¼ pound dried butter beans overnight. Drain. Add fresh water to cover by about 3 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat 3 Tblsp olive oil in a skillet and sauté 1 large, finely chopped red onion and 1 large minced clove garlic. Drain one large can roasted red peppers and finely chop. Add to onion and garlic. When beans are done cooking, drain but reserve cooking liquid. Stir all ingredients together in casserole and add 2/3 cup reserved bean cooking liquid. Add one bay leaf and bake, covered for about 1 hour. If they seem to be drying out, add more bean liquid. Five minutes before end of cooking time, stir in 3 Tblsp Balsamic Vinegar.

Coach Farm Cheese Spread
In a food processor or blender, place 20 ounces soft, mild goat cheese, 3 Tblsp heavy cream, 1 ½ Tblsp paprika, ¾ tsp dry mustard, 1 minced clove garlic, 4 anchovies. Blend until smooth. Transfer to bowl, stir in 4 finely chopped green onions. Serve with crackers or carrot & celery sticks.

For the base: Sift ½ cup flour with 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt and set aside. Beat 3 egg yolks on high for 3 minutes. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup sugar and continue beating for 5 minutes. Sift flour mixture over batter and stir in until no more white flecks appear. Beat 3 egg whites and ¼ tsp cream of tartar until whites are high and frothy. Gradually beat in 2 Tblsp sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold batter into egg whites. Pour into generously buttered 9-inch springform pan and bake at 350 10-15 minutes or until center springs back when touched. Meanwhile, make the filling: bring four 8-ounce packages cream cheese to room temperature. Beat one package with 1/3 cup sugar and ¼ cup corn starch for about 3 minutes. Beat in remaining packages of cream cheese. Beat in 1 1/3 cup sugar and 2 Tblsp lemon juice. Blend in eggs, one at a time. Blend in ¾ cup heavy cream, only until blended. Pour over cooled sponge cake base. Place the cake pan into a shallow pan and fill with water to one inch. Bake 60-70 minutes until center barely jiggles. Cool one hour. Chill thoroughly.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Decent Coffee

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of that used motor oil they sell for 3-5 bucks a cup at the coffee shop. It's so bitter, they have to disuise it with flavored syrups and foamy milk. Now, I want my coffee to taste like coffee. Just pour it into the cup and hand it over. If I want the taste of vanilla, I'll have a bowl of ice cream.
The first thing you need to do to make yourself a good cup of coffee is to get rid of that auto-drip thing. Have you ever looked into the tank of that monster? It looks a little like the landscape of a distant planet or something. And it's gotta be a bacteria farm. No wonder it makes awful coffee!
Get yourself a good stovetop pot. I use a 2 quart size at home. Make sure it's CLEAN. Fill with water and place on the burner and bring the water to a full rolling boil. Meanwhile, measure 4 coffe scoops of good dark coffee grounds into a bowl. Add a fresh egg and stir the grounds and egg together until it's all in a lump. Separate it into two lumps. When the water is boiling real good, add the coffee and reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour through a strainer because some of the grounds will escape from the lumps and try to get into your cup.
This method works as good over a campfire as it does on the stovetop.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ingedients and Techniques II

Use these as steak rub, sprinkle on a roast, shake a little into your gravies or sauces, add to your flour when making deep fried veggies, chicken fried anything. (I suggest you taste a small amount so you know how hot it’s going to be before you rub, sprinkle or shake.) They go pretty well on just about anything but cereal.

Place the spices in a tightly covered container and shake vigorously to blend.

Creole Seasoning
2 ½ Tblsp paprika
2 Tblsp salt
2 Tblsp garlic powder
1 Tblsp black pepper
1 Tblsp onion powder
1 Tblsp cayenne pepper
1 Tblsp dried oregano
1 Tblsp dried thyme

Southwest Seasoning
2 Tblsp chili powder
2 Tblsp paprika
1 Tblsp coriander
1 Tblsp garlic powder
1 Tblsp salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano

Hot Rub
4 Tblsp canning salt
3 Tblsp dried, finely ground jalopeno or pasilla (place dried peppers in blender or food processor and process until fine. Cover your nose with a bandanna during this process – trust me.)
2 Tblsp garlic powder
2 Tblsp sugar
2 Tblsp cumin
2 Tblsp black pepper
1 Tblsp dried thyme

Chili Paste
Place 4 dried ancho chilies, 4 dried guajillos, ½ onion, quartered and 3 cloves minced garlic in a large saucepan and add 3 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat ans simmer for about 15 minutes, or until chilies are softened and reconstituted. Process all ingredients in a blender or processor until pureed. Freeze in ½ cup measures (Nelli uses those little Gladware containers.)

Roasted Peppers (Should have put this up with yesterday’s stuff)
Wash and cut in half desired fresh peppers (any color of bell, poblano, jalopeno, etc). Place on baking sheet and broil until skin turns black. Immediately place peppers in a Dutch oven and cover tightly. Leave them to steam for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and scrape off the burned skin. Can be used immediately, or to store: place one slice in bottom of a Gladware sandwich container, brush with small amount of olive oil. Top with another slice, brush with olive oil. Continue process, placing 5-6 slices in each container. These freeze well. Note: roasting really brings out the heat in jalopenos.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ingredients and Techniques Part 1

Nelli has been busy over the the Christmas and New Year’s week. But this being the beginning of a brand new year and all, might be a good time to talk about ingredients and techniques.
Now, I know that some of my info is not going to agree with what you hear from Martha and that loud mouth know-it-all Italian woman on the food network, but they’re not Rednecks, so what are you going to do?
This is the stuff that works for me. So here it is, fer what it’s worth.

Roasted garlic: Most Redneck (and other) foods are just an excuse to eat large amounts of garlic, onions, spices and cheese. For garlic, the best way to start is with roasted. Here’s how Nelli does it:

Prepare whole heads of garlic by rubbing off all the loose, dry skin. Cut the tips off the top, just enough to expose each clove. Place on a square of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold edges of the foil up to enclose the heads completely. Roast in a 300 degree over for one hour. Remove and let cool, leaving the foil pouch closed. When cooled, take the heads apart and squeeze each cove from the bottom. It should pop out easily being soft, roasted and ready to eat (it’s unbelievably sweet!) or use in recipes. To use in recipes, mash required amount of cloves into a paste or it can also be minced with a sharp knife.

Onions: To coarsely chop, peel and cut off both the blossom and stem ends. Cut in half from blossom to stem. Lay a half on the board, flat side down, and cut into ½ inch slices, keeping everything together as well as possible. Make three cuts crosswise and it’s ready to use. For a finely chopped onion, make the slices ¼ inch or smaller and the cross cuts at about every ¼ inch. For minced onion, cut as for finely chopped and then continue chopping at random until onion is in very fine bits.

Caramelized onions: Coarsely chop one large onion. Add to ¼ cup melted butter and sprinkle with 1 Tblsp sugar. Cook over low heat until very limp and slightly browned.

Nelli’s best sauces, soups and stews include home made stocks like these:

Chicken Stock: Heat 1 Tblsp olive oil in a a large stock pot. When oil is hot, add 1 large onion, peeled halved and sliced; 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped; 1 stalk chopped celery, including leaves and one whole head garlic, peeled and separated into cloves. Saute 2-3 minutes. Stir in 4 quarts water, 4 bay leaves, ½ tsp basil, ½ tsp thyme, ½ tsp oregano, 2 pounds chicken wings and 1 Tblsp canning salt. Bring all to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 2 hours. Strain stock and discard vegetables and bones. Pour into clean pit jars, seal and freeze. Recipe doubles easily. Also makes good turkey stock, but you might want to add a pinch of sage with the spices.

Beef Stock: Heat oven to 425 F. Put 6-8 pounds beef bones (oxtail, soup bones, etc.) Drizzle with 2 Tblsp olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes. Turn the bones over and brush with two 6 ounce cans tomato paste. Roast 10 minutes. To the pan, add 2 heads garlic, peeled and separated; 8 coarsely chopped tomatoes (canned is okay), 2 coarsely chopped onions; 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped; 2 stalks celery coarsely chopped. Roast another 25 minutes until bones are browned and vegetables are tender. Transfer everything to a large stockpot. Add 8 quarts water, 12 by leaves, 2 tsp basil, 2 tp thyme, 2 tsp tarragon, 2 tsp oregano, ½ cup dried parsley, 2 tsp black pepper ad 1 Tblsp canning salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 3 hours. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables and bones. Pour into clean pint jars, seal and freeze.
Use these stocks in any of Nelli’s soup or stew recipes or anything that calls for broth.

WARNING: After you’ve tried these stocks, you’ll never want to go back to those dried up little cubes of meat flavored salt!

Good home made seasoning salts Nelli likes to use.