Thursday, March 2, 2017

African Fire Pork Stew

Turn up the heat! This is fabulous, Dollinks, fabulous! As with any stew, this recipe takes time … Allow 4-to-4-1/2 hours if you use dried chilis; about 3 hours with fresh ones. That’s a long time, but worth it. I started cooking this in a 3 qt. (2.8 L) pot on the stove, but as I added more and more to the pot, I transferred the works into a 5 qt. (4.7 L) pot. Adding more and still more, I split the stew between both pots. At the end of what seemed a very long cooking time, we pronounced it delicious! 

African Fire Pork Stew:

6 small dried red chilis
3 lb. (1.5 kg) pork butt 
3 tbsp. (45 mL) canola oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
6 fresh jalapēno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped 
2 tbsp. (30 mL) coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp. (15 mL) paprika
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground allspice
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground coriander
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. (30 mL) dark brown sugar
5 c. (1.25 L) beef stock
One 26. fl. oz. (796 mL) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 c. (175 mL) unsalted peanuts
4 medium-sized (about 3 lb. or 750 g) sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 3/4-in. (2-cm) pieces
1/4 c. (60 mL) red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, as garnish

Read recipe and all Notes before starting; prepare and assemble ingredients as dried chilis soften.
Cover dried chilis with boiling water (See Chili Note). Soak 2 hr. or until soft. Drain, chop coarsely, and set aside.
Trim and discard pork fat (see Pork Note). Slice meat into 1-in. (2.5 cm) pieces. In large, heavy, lidded pot, heat oil over high heat. Add pork, onions, garlic (see Garlic Clove Note), and jalapēno peppers (see Jalapēno Pepper Note). Sauté 7-to-10 min. until pork loses its pink but is not cooked through. 
Lower heat to medium, adding ginger, paprika, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and sugar. Cook 5 min., stirring frequently. 
Add stock, bringing to a boil over high heat. Add tomatoes, peanuts, and reserved red chilis (with stems discarded but seeds intact). Reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, 1 hr., stirring occasionally. 
Add sweet potatoes and vinegar. Cook, covered, just above simmering 40-to-45 min., or until meat and potatoes are tender. Season (see Seasoning Note), garnishing with parsley. Serves 8.

Chili Note: There’s no need to soften fresh red chilis; skip this step.

Fresh red chilis ... Hot, hot, hot!

Pork Note: Weigh pork after de-fatting. Masochists and fools like me will say: “I’m not going to spend an extra 50¢ per lb. ($1 per kg) to buy stew-sized pieces of pork when I can easily do that myself!” How much do you value your time? Pork can be quite fatty, and one of the chunks I bought was loaded with far and gristle running through the grain. It may be worth paying the extra to have the work done for you. Fortunately, I also bought a pork roast with only a thick sheath of fat over its top, and flawless meat. This was easy to cube. Any raw meat is easiest to slice if it’s partially frozen, as this second chunk was. 

Choose the least fatty pork possible! I did not!

Quite a chore ... Fat and gristle inside and out!

So much easier! Only one large sheath of fat over this 
piece - easy to remove from partially frozen meat.

Heres some of what I removed! Lesson: Buy diced
pork to check the amount of fat inside.

Garlic Clove Note: Pressing on a fresh bulb of garlic cloves with  the flat side of a meat mallet or heavy cleaver will loosen its skin as well as the skins of the cloves inside. 

Jalapēno Pepper Note: A grapefruit knife is the ideal tool to strip away the inner membrane and seeds of these and any other peppers. 

Add pork, onions, garlic, and jalapēno peppers. Stir well.

Two hours later ... 

Serve! An outstanding stew - but very hot!

Seasoning Note: I used freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns - but only a whisper. With the many spices and peppers in this stew, you don’t need much.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ron’s Hot-Cha-Cha Chicken Wings

I made these last night, from an easy recipe Ron invented. No photos, folks! My fingers were too sticky! These wings aren’t lose-your-lips hot - they’re just pleasantly hot.

This recipe requires extra time for marination

Ron’s Hot-Cha-Cha Chicken Wings:

1 c. (250 mL) dark soy sauce
6 or 7 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 c. (60 mL) liquid honey
1/2 tsp. (25 mL) cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) dried thyme (powder)
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) cumin
2 tsp. (10 mL) chili oil
2.5 lb. (1.13 kg) chicken wings, tips removed and cut at joints as “drumettes”

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. In small bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken, mixing well. Marinade 3-to-4 hr., turning occasionally. Place chicken in shallow baking pan with marinade. Bake 30-to-35 min., stirring halfway through. Serve hot or cold. Makes 8 appetizer servings or two main-dish servings. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Super Bowl!

W-e-e-ll, Dollinks! As you know, Im not cooking much, these days. However! If youre looking for some great football recipes, check my past posts in the Index. Scroll down the Fs until you come to Football Faves, and youll find a pretty good selection. Love, kisses, hugs, and platonic handshakes - take your pick. Happy Super Bowl Sunday! 



PS: Here’s my personal “super bowl.” 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Greek Meat Pie

Greek Meat Pie
Although I almost never use veal, the combination of ground veal, beef, and pork softens the texture of this no-pastry meat pie, rather than presenting the “knobbly” texture of most meat loaves or pies. Preparing the ingredients before you start seems to make it all move along faster. It’s fun inventing recipes; I don’t do it often enough. This one’s my own creation.

Greek Meat Pie:

1 (15 mL) tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. (45 mL) red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Equal thirds ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal, together  totaling 1-1/2 lb. (680 g)
1 egg
1/3 c. (80 mL) fine, dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) dried thyme
1/8 tsp. (0.5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) fine pepper 
1/3 c. (80 mL) drained, rinsed, crumbled feta
3 tbsp. (45 mL) drained, pitted, coarsely chopped black olives
3 tbsp. (45 mL) diced green pepper
1/4 c. (60 mL) plus 2 tbsp. (30 mL) grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c. (125 mL)  tomato sauce
2 tbsp. (30 mL) commercial, shake-on Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Assemble and prepare all ingredients before starting. Heat oil over medium setting, adding onion and garlic until softened. Set aside to cool.

Combine beef, pork, and veal with softened onion and garlic, kneading with clean fingers until all are evenly distributed. Add egg to meat mixture, combining well. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs with seasonings, kneading evenly into meat mixture. Divide meat mixture into two equal portions, pressing half into 8x8 in. (20-x20 cm) baking dish. Sprinkle with feta, olives, green pepper, and 1/4 c. (60 mL) mozzarella. Lightly flatten and press remaining meat over feta mixture. 

Spoon with tomato sauce, using spatula or back of spoon to spread evenly over meat. Sprinkle with Parmesan and/or remaining 2 tbsp. (30 mL) mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, 25-to-30 min.

Note: Should you make this meat loaf in a standard loaf pan, you’ll need to bake it, uncovered, 55-to-60 min. Remove from baking dish with slotted spoon or spatula, leaving the fat in the casserole dish rather than on your plate.

About 1/2 lb. (226 g) each of pork, veal, and beef.

Combine meats thoroughly.

Onion, garlic, and thyme, ready to be sautéed and mixed with meats.

Whisk egg into meats.

Press half meat into casserole; use
a pie pan, if you prefer.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Glazed Banana-and-Eggnog Loaf

I have been a very naughty blogger. Bad, Nicole! Bad! Bad!

But I have been cooking. Now and then. Whenever the mood hits. Which it hasn’t, too often. Ron has now adopted the role of chief chef. But this is my blog - not Ron’s. And that’s your bad luck.

If, by chance, you still have some commercial eggnog languishing in the fridge or the freezer (as I did, until I prepared this recipe), this superb Glazed Banana-and-Eggnog Loaf is so tasty that I doubled the recipe. Because doubling it was such a smart idea and a time-saver, I’ve given you that version. 

As Ron sliced the loaves very thinly, I separated each piece with a strip of wax paper, tucking everything into an airtight box destined for the freezer. These easy-to-separate slices thaw in a flash. The glaze makes these extra-special. Don’t omit it!

Glazed Banana-and-Eggnog Loaf:

1 c. (250 mL) butter or margarine, softened
3 c. (750 mL) granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 medium (about 2 c. or 500 mL) mashed, ripe bananas (see Note
1/2 c. (125 mL) commercial eggnog
2 tsp. (10 mL) vanilla extract
3-1/2 c. (875 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 mL) nutmeg
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Spray-grease the insides of two standard 9 x 5” loaf pans, laying a piece of parchment cut to fit on bottom. Set aside. 

To a large bowl, add butter or margarine and granulated sugar, beating with an electric mixer until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, eating after each addition. Beat in bananas, eggnog, and vanilla. Set aside.

To a second large bowl, add flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda in one-third portions to liquid ingredients, combining well and beating after each addition. Pour equal divisions of batter into baking pans. Bake 50-to-60 min. or until toothpick inserted at center of each loaf emerges clean and dry. 

Cool in pans 10 min. before turning out on wire racks. Glaze loaves while still warm.

Eggnog Glaze:

1-1/2 c. (375 mL) sifted icing sugar (powdered or confectioners sugar)
3-4 tbsp. (45-to-60 mL) commercial eggnog

Stir eggnog into sifted sugar one tablespoon at a time, hand-mixing between additions and adding more sugar and more eggnog until desired consistency. Spread glaze over entire top and sides of loaf rather than drizzling it over. Allow glaze to set until loaves are fully cool. Slice loaves into 3/8-in. (9.5 mm) pieces. Serve at once or freeze for future use, as described in recipe’s introduction.

Note: Use over-ripe bananas immediately or frozen directly in their skins for this and other purposes. Never waste over-ripe bananas!

This large, deep bowl is perfect for big mixing jobs!

Slice thinly after glaze sets.

I cannot praise this excellent loaf highly enough!

Kristin Stone of Little Elm, TX, came up with this recipe, 
which I’ve modified slightly. The glaze recipe is mine.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dinner Party Series: No-Peek Stew

It’s Autumn in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. I wish I could pretend we’ve been jumping into huge piles of raked leaves, but it’s been abnormally cold and has been raining buckets since early OctoberThis might be depressing, but No-Peek Stew rates high on the comfort-foods scale. 

Youll never find a simpler stew! No browning of the meat! No thickening with flour as you battle the lumps! Youll use this recipe all your life, as I have. My friend Michele Vernon-Martin gave it to me when we were in our 20s. I’m now in my early 70s, (Computer failure! Whoops!) and Ive been making this stew, ever since!

Served with fresh buns and a salad, this is a simple but satisfying dinner when you feel like kicking back and entertaining. It seems to me that Pumpkin Crème Caramel is the ideal accompaniment for this easy dinner

Check the Index under Desserts for several other equally good Crème Caramel recipes.

I hope you enjoy the table settings I occasionally feature under the Dinner Party Series heading, because I’ve included an Autumn tablescape that may spark some ideas! 

No-Peek Stew:

2 lb. (1 kg) stewing beef
2 level tbsp. (30 mL) dried onion soup mix
One 10-oz. (284 mL) can undiluted condensed mushroom soup
One 10-oz. (284 mL) can mushrooms, drained
1/2 c. (125 mL) dry red or white wine
1/4 c. (60 mL) instant tapioca
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh rosemary or thyme
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into eighths, or equivalent in small potatoes
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2-in. (1.3 cm) coins, or equivalent in small carrots
1 stalk celery and leaves, chopped into 1/2-in. (1.3 cm) pieces
1/4 c. (60 mL) frozen peas
1 tbsp. (15 mL) gravy darkener
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh parsley or 1 tbsp. (15 mL) dried
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300 deg. F. To an ungreased 2-quart (2 L) casserole, add beef, soup mix, condensed mushroom soup, mushrooms, and wine. Combine well, cover, and bake 1 hr. Stir in tapioca, fresh rosemary or thyme, and all vegetables except peas. Combine well, cover, and bake 2 more hr. Add frozen peas, gravy darkener, and parsley when stew comes out of the oven, stirring well. Season to taste. Serves 4.

The stew started with 2 lb. (1 kg) quality beef.

Three hours later, it looked like this - 
tender and delicious!

So here’s the table! I used a washable cloth runner to pick up the Autumn colors I was seeking. I also used gold-colored, plastic charger plates under yellow plates I’ve had for years. To create a more interesting table, each guest had a different-colored napkin. 

To introduce some fun and variety to my table ... 

I used a different Fall-toned color ... 

for the napkin at each place setting.

Check your cloth napkins each year ...  

... for any that need replacing.

At our next Autumn dinner party, I went a little fancier, using a tablecloth with a protective pad underneath. Red, hand-crafted beaded napkin holders added glitz and pizazz to this table, as did the totally impractical but beautiful hold napkin covers I whisked away as our guests uncovered and opened their cloth napkins. 

These same yellow plates have served me well over many years: I found them at a bargain price at Walmart.

Fancy-schmantzy is fun, once in awhile!

A crafter made me these beautiful beaded rings @ $5 apiece.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness ...
Ode to Autumn, John Keats, 1819

I treasure this Fitz & Floyd serving plate, and use it  
every Fall. I bought it on sale for $49 - a true bargain! 

Note: This recipe is a variation of the No-Fuss Beef Stew I printed in May, 2011. Youll find it under Main Dish: Beef.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thai Chicken Skewers

I love this recipe! It’s similar to, yet different from, my Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce. Each is indexed under Appetizers, as well as under Thai.

Thai Chicken Skewers:

1 c. (250 mL) dark soy sauce
6 tbsp. (90 mL) vegetable oil
6 tbsp. (90 mL) lemon juice
6 tbsp. (90 mL) liquid honey
3 (45 mL) tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1-1/2 tbsp. (22 mL) ground ginger
2 tbsp. (30 mL) red hot pepper flakes
5 boneless, skinless fresh (not previously frozen) chicken breasts, each cut lengthwise into five strips

Combine all ingredients except chicken in marinating tub or large, covered jar about 3 hr. (see Note). Soak full-size wooden skewers in cold water about 1 hr.  When skewers are ready, thread marinated chicken on them. Turning once, broil on oiled broiler pan 1-1/2 min. per side,  or barbecue on oiled grill, turning once. Don’t overcook! Also excellent as main course, baked at 350 deg. F. for 15-to-20 min.

Note: If you have a large, wide jar tall enough to hold the raw, skewered chicken, it’s very convenient to marinate the chicken directly in the lidded jar. The chicken strips can also be frozen in the marinade, to be thawed and skewered later. 

Further Note: This marinade is so good that I sometimes double the recipe, labeling and freezing it in batches for later use.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Creamy Goat Cheese Truffles

Goat cheese: Nothing to see, folks! Move along! Move along!
Let me say that these Creamy Goat Cheese Truffles are - were - quite exquisite, and that the best way to serve them to guests is often, because they disappear fast. I like to photograph what I prepare, especially when it’s something I don’t make everyday. For these Truffles, I managed to snap one picture - a basic lump of goat cheese - before working fastfastfast to simultaneously prepare a further 10 appys for a small gathering. Most of the Truffles were eaten, prompting me to think: “Great! I’ll photograph these last few, later!”

There was no later. When three of our guests popped in for a second  visit, out came the Truffles and there went my photograph (see Note)! But, oh, we had a lovely time and oh, this appy was easy to make and a very big hit! Try them yourself! You’ll agree!

Creamy Goat Cheese Truffles:

1-1/2 c. (375 mL) pecan halves 
1 pkg. (250 g) cream cheese, softened
4 oz. (125 g) soft goat cheese, softened
1 tbsp. (15 mL) finely chopped green onion (green part only) 
1 tsp. (5 mL) fresh chives
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) crumbled dried basil or thyme
1 tsp. (5 mL) lemon juice
1/4 tsp. (1 mL) hot pepper sauce
Dash salt
1/8 tsp. (0.5 mL) freshly grated black pepper

Arrange nuts in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Toast in centre of 350 F. (180 C.) oven until fragrant and golden, about 8 minutes. Chop finely. Transfer to shallow dish such as pie plate; set aside to cool.

In small bowl, combine cream cheese and goat cheese, beating with electric mixer until well mixed. Add green onion, chives, basil or thyme, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Beat on low until herbs and seasonings are well distributed. Cover and refrigerate 60 min., until flavors blend and mixture is firm.

Working in small batches with floured hands, pinch into 1-1/2 tsp. (7 mL) chunks of cheese mixture on parchment-lined baking sheet, rolling each into smooth balls. Press into pecans, coating truffles thoroughly and evenly. Yields about 2-1/2 doz. truffles.

Note: To make ahead, arrange prepared truffles in shallow airtight container, refrigerating 1 or 2 days ahead. May be frozen up to 2 weeks. Thaw in refrigerator. Serve crammed onto a microwave-safe tray with a cocktail toothpicks poked parallel into them for effect. Zap in the microwave for 30 sec. Once your guests taste these, the tray won’t be crammed very long … Heaven!

This recipes so popular that I grabbed a photo the
next time I made it! These freeze beautifully, too!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Smoked Oyster Dip

This make-ahead dip is ultra-convenient for easy late-summer entertaining.

Smoked Oyster Dip:

¾ c. cream cheese, softened 
⅓ c. mayonnaise
One 3-oz. (85 g) can smoked oysters, well drained 
1-½ tbsp. minced green onion
1-½ tbsp. chopped parley
¾ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash of freshly ground black pepper

Place ingredients in blender or food processor. Combine well, chilling at least 1 hr. to blend flavors before serving. Yields 1-¼ c.