Monday, July 04, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake - More Than a TV Cartoon From the 80's

A true Southern delight, made delicious by my great grandmother, Frances (aka, FaFa). All you need is some fresh berries and Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream) and my FaFa's short cakes.

Macerated Strawberries
2 pints fresh strawberries, quartered and diced
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, white

Mix the berries and the sugar and let sit. When left to sit the berries with release their own juices.

Short Cake
Yields 8 cakes

2 Cups flour, all-purpose sifted
2 Teaspoons baking powder heaping
1/4 Cup crisco
1 Large egg, whole
1 Tablespoon sugar, white rounded
1/2 Teaspoon salt, table
1 Cup milk, whole or more as needed

Mix as biscuits. Add more milk if needed.

Bake at 475 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned.

1 short cake
Macerated strawberries
Cool Whip or freshly whipped cream

Slice open the sort cake. Spoon over with strawberries and juice. Top with some Cool Whip or whipped cream. Add the top of the cake, more strawberries and juice and another dollop of cream.

Grilled Zucchini Courtesy of Chez Pink (aka Big Ass Zucchini, Part III)

There is nothing better than fresh zucchini grilled up with a little seasoning at the height of summer.

So in case you missed it - here is the original "beast."

It's so simple, you don't really need a recipe.
Grilled Zucchini

Thick slices of zucchini
Greek Seasoning to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Toss zucchini with oil and seasoning. Grill over a medium-hot fire for 2 minutes per side, or until desired doneness.

3-Day Weekends are for Barbecuing

Not that I ever need an excuse to BBQ, but a 3-day weekend certainly makes it feel like a requirement...a least when you are related to my Dad.

So Barbecue Chicken it is.

First, you need the right sauce, my Mom's.

Bumpy Barbecue Sauce
Yields 1 cup

1/2 Cup butter
1 Each lemon, juiced
1 Cup ketchup
1/4 Cup worcestershire sauce
2 Teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 Teaspoon pepper, black
2 Teaspoons sugar, white
1 to taste Tabasco, optional

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add lemon juice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, sugar and pepper. Simmer until flavors are melded, about 20 minutes.

Add Tabasco to taste.

Then the rub...sorry, it's my secret and I won't post that. You will just have to buy it from me.

My method belongs to ATK, with a couple of tweaks.

Barbecue Chicken

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or 4 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken legs
4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts , 10 to 12 ounces each
Ground black pepper
Large disposable aluminum baking pan
1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce or bottled barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving

Light large chimney starter filled with hardwood charcoal (6 quarts) and allow to burn until all charcoal is covered with layer of fine gray ash, about 20 minutes. Build three-level fire by stacking most of coals on one side of grill, arranging remaining coals in single layer in middle of grill, and leaving remaining side empty of coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill with lid, and let grate heat up, about 5 minutes. Use grill brush to scrape cooking grate clean. Grill is ready when temperature of stacked coals is medium-hot and that of single layer of coals is medium-low.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Cook chicken, uncovered, over hotter part of grill until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move chicken thighs or legs to middle part of grill and move chicken breasts to area with no fire and cover with disposable aluminum roasting pan. Continue to grill thighs or legs, uncovered, turning occasionally, until dark and fully cooked, 12 to 16 minutes for thighs, 16 to 20 minutes for whole legs. Continue to grill breasts, skin-side up, for 10 minutes. Turn and cook for 5 minutes more or until done. To test for doneness, either peek into thickest part of chicken with tip of small knife (you should see no redness near bone) or check internal temperature at thickest part with instant-read thermometer, which should register 165 degrees for dark meat and 160 degrees for breasts.

Brush pieces liberally with barbecue sauce during final 2 minutes of cooking. Transfer to serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature, passing extra barbecue sauce separately.

My changes: I find that the chicken easily needs 10 minutes more than this. I season with my rib rub instead of salt and pepper. I also put the sauce on the chicken with 5 to 7 minutes left in the cooking process.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Who Needs Cake...?

...when you can make Red Velvet Pancakes?

Happy 3-day weekend everyone. First, I have to start out by explaining that this recipe came from The Breakfast Cook by way of way of the fabulous Gemma, who cooks breakfast for my brother's company. So I cannot take credit for the idea or the recipe. However, you all know me and you know I make changes. So...

Let's start with the Butter Pecan Syrup. I am allergic to tree nuts, so this just became Butter Maple Syrup for us. However I am including the original recipe here and then will explain my changes.

Butter Pecan Syrup
Yields 2 cups

1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks)
4 oz (wt) pecan halves (about 1 cup)
1 cup real Maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons extract, vanilla
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1 pinch Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a sheet tray and place them in the oven. Toast the pecans, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned and fragrant. You don’t have to go too far, because we are going to cook them in the butter for a few minutes as well.

In the meantime, preheat a heavy 10-inch sauté pan over medium. Add the butter and let it begin to melt.

When the butter is mostly melted, add the pecan halves. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the pecans are well toasted and have a rich brown color.
When the butter begins to foam around the pecan halves, add the maple syrup all at once. Continue to cook the butter-syrup mixture until it is hot and bubbly.

Momentarily remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla extract and the water; incorporating with a whisk or wooden spoon. Return the pan to the heat and cook the mixture for 3 to 4 more minutes; until the mixture is hot and thickens slightly.

Taste the syrup and add a pinch of salt.

This syrup can be made well in advance and re-warmed before serving. As it cools, it will “break” on you; meaning the syrup and butter will separate. Just give it a good stir before saucing the pancakes.

What I did differently: Obviously, I skipped the pecans. I melted HALF the butter. Once it stopped foamed and started to brown a little, I added the syrup. Then I followed the directions as above.

Next up - Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. Now this needed NO tweaking from me. I can say that I didn't measure the orange zest. I only had 1 large orange, so that was all the zest that was used and it was the perfect amount. If you don't have a Microplace zester - order one NOW - it is a MUST HAVE in the kitchen.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 1 cup

4 oz (wt) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar, white
1 teaspoon extract, vanilla
1 tablespoon zest, orange

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Using the paddle/beater attachment and the lowest setting, combine the ingredients until well incorporated. Once, you won’t get splattered, increase the speed and whip the ingredients together until smooth.

Serve in a small bowl alongside the Butter Pecan Syrup.

Now that the toppings are done, you can move on the main event - Red Velvet Pancakes!

Red Velvet Pancakes
Yields 14 to 18 pancakes

8 oz (wt) flour, all-purpose (about 1 ½ cups)
1/2 oz (wt) cocoa powder, unsweetened (about 2 Tbls)
2 oz (wt) sugar, white (about 3 Tbls)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, reduced-fat
2 large eggs, whole
1 teaspoon extract, vanilla
1 tablespoon food coloring, red (liquid)
2 oz (wt) butter, melted (½ stick)

Preheat your griddle or heavy pan over medium heat. If you are using a non-stick electric griddle, set the electric griddle temperature a little under 325 degrees. You can tell if the griddle is hot enough when a couple of drops of water sprinkled onto the cooking surface dance with a sizzle and a hiss, before evaporating. For surfaces which aren’t non-stick you will need to grease it up with a little oil, shortening or clarified butter on a paper towel before proceeding to cook.

Next, melt your butter. I do this by placing the butter in a bowl and putting it in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Then, I let the butter sit until I need it in the recipe. This way I make sure the butter isn’t too hot.

Weigh and measure all of the dry ingredient into a bowl large enough to hold all of the batter. Then, with a whisk, stir to thoroughly combine. This breaks up the lumps that might exist in the flour or cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and food coloring.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture; stir until mostly combined. Add the melted butter to the batter; folding gently.

For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup of batter on to the hot griddle. For this I use a disher (ice cream scoop). Cook the pancakes on the first side until they puff up and are full of bubbles and the edges begin to look dry; about 4 minutes

Turn the pancakes over and cook on the second side until they are cooked through; roughly another 3 minutes.

Pay attention to your heat, if on the first side the pancakes are getting really dark before bubbles start to form and the edges begin to dry, turn the heat down. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with the Whipped Cream Cheese and Butter Pecan Syrup.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Whole Mess-o-Potato Salad

Fourth of July weekend means barbecues and picnics - which also means pulled pork, barbecue chicken, burgers, coleslaw, baked beans and, you guessed it, potato salad.

so I have 3 potato salad recipes I make. One with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette, my Granny's which has a sweet and sour marinade, green onions, hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise and Miracle Whip (quite Southern and quite good) and then the one selected for Sunday's festivities - Potato Salad Vichyssoise - so names for the creaminess and the chives. It always seems to be a big hit.

Potato Salad Vichyssoise
Yields 4 servings

Chef's Note: If using small red new potatoes, cook the potatoes whole and unpeeled. Once cooked, drain and cool completely. Cut into small quarters, sixths or eighths (depending on the size of the potatoes).

1 teaspoon salt
3 Pounds potato, baking or small red new
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
1/2 Cup sour cream
1/4 Cup chives, fresh chopped
To taste pepper, white, ground

In a large covered saucepan, bring 3 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over high heat. While water is coming to a boil, fill large bowl with cold water. Under cold running water, rinse potatoes and peel with vegetable peeler, placing each one in bowl of water when finished.

Remove one potato from water. Cut potato width-wise into 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch slices. Return slices to water and repeat process with remaining potatoes. In colander, drain potatoes and slip them carefully into boiling water. Cook over medium high heat until slices can be easily penetrated with tip of a knife, about 5 minutes. In colander, drain potatoes, taking care not to break slices.

With wooden spoon, carefully return potatoes to pan. Place a folded clean dish towel over pan and lay saucepan cover on top. With heat turned off, let potatoes sit in pan about 5 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave potatoes to cool, about 15 minutes. While potatoes are cooling, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, and 1/4 cup chives in a small bowl, and stir with a fork until blended.

Cover and refrigerate potatoes until needed. Remove dressing and potatoes from refrigerator. With wooden spoon, spoon dressing over potatoes and gently toss to combine, being careful not to break potato slices.

Turn potatoes into serving dish and, if desired, garnish with chives.