Monday, January 17, 2011

Miracle Drop Biscuits

Only 2 ingredients can produce biscuits.

Mix the two gently together, drop on a pan and put in a hot oven.

And then you have biscuits for dinner.

Tastewise, I thought they turned out basically like a Bisquick biscuit. I don't like buttered biscuits, but I probably should have at least brushed some melted butter on them. That may have made them a little better. They did taste good crumbled up in my tomato soup the next day though.

Breakfast Shrimp Gravy

Moving on into the Gravy chapter. Is there any other cookbook in America that has a gravy chapter?

The first recipe is from South Carolina, a Breakfast Shrimp Gravy, clearly the birthplace of the shrimp and grits which once upon a time seemed innovative, but now have been on menus so long that I never bother with them. And I won't bother with restaurant shrimp and grits anymore now that I can make these.

Here's all it takes.

Basically you cook bacon which produces grease and into that you add onions then flour to make a roux. I'm sure you could make the roux lighter or darker depending on your preference. Mine is a light copper. Then you cook the shrimp in the roux

and serve over grits. (I confess I used quick grits, never instant!; I didn't want to cook grits for longer than it took to cook everything else.)

As good as any shrimp and grits I've paid $20 for.

The recipe was easy to follow, but I did find I needed to reduce the heat and/or the cooking time throughout.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cheese Boxes

Recipe No. 3

Combine shredded cheese (I did it by hand), softened butter, spices including dry mustard and cayenne which gives them their kick. Then whip an egg white. I did this by hand too. What a workout. Fold in the egg

and spread on bread cubes made from a loaf of soft white bread. I bought an unsliced loaf from Fresh Market. Allow to chill in the fridge until the spread re-hardens.

Then bake for 10 minutes.

Really delicious little bites of cheesy buttery bready goodness. I served them with the chili on Day 2 of the chili's life.

I froze the unbaked bites and cooked as directed the next day. They were equally delicious. This is definitely something I want to make again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Best Chili of Your Life

Monday night is the BCS Championship -- Auburn vs. Oregon at 7:30 pm. And what do you eat with football? Chili.

Normally I would make a basic red ground beef chili or a green pork chili, but over the New Year I found this recipe from The Amateur Gourmet claiming to be "The Best Chili of Your Life." Sounds like the perfect accompaniment for what I hope is best rout of my life when Auburn beats Oregon by a whole lot to nothing.

Despite being from a restaurant chef, Michael Symon, the recipe isn't overly complicated or difficult.

I say that and yet the first step was pan roasting and grinding my own corriander.

Then you coat the cubed pork roast in the corriander, sweet smoked paprika (which smells wonderful!), cumin, salt and paper and brown.

Then you add pound of slab bacon,

then the veggies -- onion, garlic, red bell pepper and jalapenos -- a beer, I used one of my Abita Christmas Ales, chicken stock, San Marzano tomatoes (I used diced), chipotles and dried black eyed peas.

Then it cooks for 2 1/2 hours. I'm planning to stick it in the fridge overnight and reheat and serve tomorrow. But we may have some tonight if the predicted snow arrives.

And after 2 1/2 hours you get this.

 Which dishes out like this.

And is doctored up with cilantro, green onions, smoked cheddar and sour cream like this.

The chili is quite spicy, I think due to the chipotles even though there's only two. But it's quite delicious. And tonight we'll see how it reheats.

Call and Snow = Crockpot Cooking

Mel is on call this weekend meaning when he is home to eat all weekend is very, very unpredictable. What's more they are saying there's a 50% chance of a lot of snow come Sunday. Thus I'm making food that will lead to leftovers. At least I hope it will.

Today's crockpot recipe comes from A Year of Slow Cooking. It's Peperoncini Beef Sandwiches.

Here's the ingredients, minus the cheese, mozzarella, and rolls.

And there it is in the crockpot.

And after eight hours you get these components,

which I put on a hoagie roll with mozzarella and into the oven to melt the cheese.

Delicious, but tricky to reheat without drying out the meat.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Duck, It's What's For Dinner

My son Sam has been craving some duck. He has a vague memory of liking it in the past, but it's been a number of years since Mel, our primary source of duck, has gone hunting. But over Christmas our nephew Matthew went hunting and gave me some breasts.

I soaked them for 8 or so hours in lime juice, then dipped them in melted butter and grilled them over high heat for 6 minutes. I think the lime was a little overpowering, perhaps because I used Persian limes. But then duck is never my favorite, and at least they didn't taste gamey. I served the duck with roasted red potatoes and roasted asparagus (only 1 dirty pan!)

A final dinner note. I served this the Thursday before the BCS Championship game pitting my beloved Auburn Tigers against the Oregon Ducks. Thus I named the duck I ate LaMichael James, Sam's was Darron "Loser" Thomas, (he insisted on the Loser nomenclature), and Mel's Casey Matthews. Hopefully Auburn will eat up the Ducks just like we did.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Elvis' Favorite Peanut Butter Sandwich

Lunchtime came and since I live in Memphis and it's almost Elvis' birthday, today I celebrated with an Elvis sandwich.

First the ingredients.

I substituted my homemade mayo for the butter on the outside of the bread. It leads to nice browning and is so much easier to spread than the butter I had.

Here's the sandwich pre-browning.

Peanut butter, banana, bacon, honey!

Then it cooks on the griddle.

And finally, the finished product.

 A large glass of milk is the perfect accompaniment.

Benedictine:The Spread

Second recipe from "the book." The theme of this area of the book is things you might eat while you cook. So in other words, you cook before you cook. Fun, right? Well it might be if you had people over watching you cook. This would keep them out of your way; at least that's what the author suggest.

Here are the ingredients for this cream cheese/cucumber concoction.

I included the grater in the photo because it was key for getting the cucumber and later the onion to look like this.

As a pre-party dish this one requires a lot of pre-planning. The cucumber had to drain for two hours and finished spread had to chill for one. So not really something you can just whip up. Though once it's whipped (my food processor has had quite the workout this week) you get this.

Kind of bland looking, but it tasted very good and refreshing. Well as refreshing as anything on white bread can be. Nevertheless I think it was very good, and if I was hosting a ladies lunch or baby shower I would consider serving this as tea sandwiches.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blue Ribbon Pimento Cheese

So this is why I made the mayonnaise. It held up overnight just fine. It was a little bit spicier in fact for sitting in the fridge.

Now this is what you have to know about me and pimento cheese. I love pimento cheese. What's more I make a delicious, very easy pimento cheese that combines extra sharp cheddar (shredded by hand is best, but you can use a food processor shredder; never EVER buy pre-shredded cheese), diced pimentos, a can of rotel and just a smidge of mayonnaise. So I was very interested to try this alleged Blue Ribbon winning pimento cheese.

Here's the ingredients.

I shredded the cheese in the food processor, then had to empty it out, insert the blade and put the cheese and pimentos back in. The recipe said to pulse the processor, but I found that took forever to get the pimentos close to the blade. I actually removed cheese and put it back in to make it work a little better. Then you added the mayo, pulsed again, then the spices, pulse again, and a little more mayo. And here's where it goes off the rail for me.

The consistency is supposed to be a thick paste. Here's where I stopped it.

This may not even be as processed as she meant. But it was as "smooth" as I could take it. I like my cheese much, much more looking like actual cheese than cheese spread. It also is a little bland, to my taste, despite the cayenne. Nevertheless, I made a sandwich.

And I'll definitely eat it all, but I won't be making this one again.

Update (1/5) -- And just like the mayo, it turns out that once you let this sit in the fridge it gets better. Texturally it is still too smooth for me, but the bland criticism is no longer valid. It has a nice flavor, especially on the Milton's Multi-Grain Baked Snack Crackers than came in some Christmas basket we received. My mom also was a big fan, but then she doesn't like things to be spicy.

Monday, January 3, 2011


So, since the infamous cookbook has failed to yield a dinner meal, at least tonight, here's what I'm cooking and serving.

I made the greens for New Years and they were delicious! I used regular chard that time, I'm using rainbow chard this time. I'm also sure I'll have to cook the chicken longer because I bought chicken breast halves and whole legs rather than cutting up (or having someone cut up) a whole chicken.

Post Mortem -- the chicken was very moist and cooked through with 5 extra minutes on the heat and 5 off. But it was a little bland. I also wish the chicken pieces had been much smaller. Guess I'll cut up the chicken next time. I liked the orzo, especially when I topped it with the cooking juices from the chicken. And the greens, while not as amazing as when I cooked them New Year's was good. I think the difference in part was that I used White Wine Vinegar instead of White Vinegar. I think the basic white vinegar added more zing.

First Recipe -- Part 1 -- Lella's Mayonnaise

The first recipe in the book is for pimento cheese, but it requires you to make mayonnaise first. So here goes.

Here are the ingredients assembled.

First add everything except 3/4 cups of oil into the food processor.

Here's where we are after the blending.

Then run the processor and drizzle in the oil to get here.

The cayenne adds a nice spice, but all in all I'm not sure it was worth this effort. It wasn't that hard actually, but of course now I have to wash the four pieces of the food processor before I can make the actual pimento cheese. So that will have to wait.

I've put the mayo in the fridge. Hopefully it will keep at least a day. The recipe fails to state how long it will last.


So, my birthday was last week. I turned 45. We got to spend it at the beach. That's all good, until it came time to open my presents. My sister and her family gave me a great gift which I had asked specifically for

Abita Christmas Ale. We found it in Memphis as well, but I wasn't sure we would so I sent my Baton Rouge family out to secure it before it's gone. And they come through.

Then my mom got me some personalized stationary. I asked for that too. I'm always running out of note pads to make grocery lists or knitting notes or what not. So that was great.

Then there was my husband and son. Earlier in the week I had asked my son in front of my husband, "so what did you get me?" And you know what it turned out to be --- NOTHING! My son and husband got me nothing from my son. And from my husband, I got this.

A cookbook. A cookbook I didn't ask for and didn't need. And that was it. Yep, that was it.

Nevertheless, I'm going to try to cook through it and record my thoughts about it. Unfortunately it's not really an everyday for dinner sort of cookbook. It has a chapter on Gravy for goodness sake. So, we'll see how it goes. It'll probably end up being mostly random depending on what's available in the markets and whether or not I can get ahold of certain weird ingredients. It'll probably turn out good, but for now this ranks up there with one of the two worst presents I've ever received.