Tuesday, June 28

Welsh Orange Currant Cookies


These Welsh inspired cookies, are a great way to add a little "zest" to your day! This style cookie is not overly sweet and takes on a slightly savory taste. They go perfect with brunches, BBQs, and after dinner drinks.

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 dozen
Full time: 50-60 minutes (includes cool time)
You will need:

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup currants
1/2 tbsp all spice
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of one navel orange, medium size
(see photo below if needed)

Wet ingredients:

3/4 cup milk
6 tbsp shortening, vegetable
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp orange extract

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 375

If you are unsure of how to zest and orange it is actually quite easy. Using a sestet or the smallest, finest grater, scrap the peel of the orange off, you only want the actually orange bit, where all the color is, do not go into the white layer under it. The orange zest contains great flavors and aromas!

To begin making dough, mix your salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and all spice in a small bowl.


Now add in flour, currants, and zest. Mix around until the currants and zest are well coated. * you may want to keep an eye on currants they like to stick together. Set aside


In a large bowl, cream shortening (squish it around until smooth) with sugar and extract.


Add in milk and give a stir to ensure no shortening is stuck to bottom of bowl.

Add in dry ingredients, mix until well combined.


There are two methods, you can do from here.
1) Traditionally, these cookies are a rolled and cut cookie. Roll dough to approx 1/4" thick and cut into rounds. The dough does look too sticky to do this, but actually it works just fine

2) Spoon small amounts of dough onto greased cookie sheet and gently press down. This creates a more informal looking cookie, which I actually prefer


Regardless of your method choice, make sure cookies are baked on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, they will turn a rich golden color, it has a slight "pumpkin" hue to it


Give sheet a gently shake and cookies should slide around, leave them on sheet to cool for 20 minutes to cool

Friday, June 24

Indian Inspired Tomato and Cucumber Salad


This is a great summer salad. Blending seasonal fresh ingredients with the spices of India. It will add a little zest to your picnincs, BBQs, and get togethers. It also makes a great summer lunch on the go.

Serves 2 to 4
Full time: 5-10 minutes
You will need:

3 med tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Let us begin:

Start by slicing the cucumber into very thin slices, approx 1/8" thick. If you have a slicer it will help


Next repeat this process with the tomatoes


Place in a large mixing bowl and mix in all remaining ingredients except mint, mix until well blended


Taste to ensure it is well blended, sprinkle on mint, and mix gently

For an added kick you can thinly slice some red onion, or chili peppers and mix then in

Tuesday, June 21

Coconut Curry Chicken



Looking for something different for dinner tonight? Why not try the flavors of India. This wonderful Indian inspired dish blends the savory bite of curry with the sweet taste of coconut.

Serves 4 to 6
Full time: 1 - 1 1/2 hours



You will need:

2 lbs chicken thighs and legs, make sure you use skinless
1 small can coconut milk
2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups unseasoned panko
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp ground paprika

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 375

Start by mixing the spices together to create you seasoning mix


Set spice aside.

Next mix panko bread crumbs with coconut together and place on a plate for breading


Now, in a small bowl place the coconut milk, you are going to want to whisk it before using it. Coconut milk is very thick and has the tendency to separate, so whisk well and smooth out

To begin the breading process, line a cutting board with wax paper.

Wash and pat dry your chicken.

Dip chicken into coconut milk, it will be super thick, allow excess to drip off for a second. Now place them on the wax paper to allow some off the milk to pool off


Using half the spice mix dust chicken evenly. Remember to flip over and dust both sides


Now gently roll seasoned chicken in the panko mix. If you a curious why the seasoning is done separately, this is because we want to ensure the flavor will coat the chicken in every bite. Sometimes seasoning the breading will not coat evenly.


Next place chicken in a baking dish a sprinkle remaining spice mix over the top of chicken


Bake chicken for 45 minutes to an hour, cooking time will vary based on size of chicken pieces. To ensure you have reached proper cooking temperature, use a thermometer

Saturday, June 18

En papillote

Looking for a great dish to impress? Need a fancy meal in a short time? Try cooking en papillote. This classic French method blends great fresh ingredients, little prep work, and bold flavors to create a stunning meal. Literally translated en papillote means in paper or in parchment.

Traditional recipes for en papillote include vegetables, seafood, sauces, and occasional a starch all wrapped in a nice little package. Serve this nice package on a plate and allow guests to crack it open. The aromas from the mean will have their taste buds watering in no time.

Try mixing and matching different proteins, sauces, and vegetables to find your favorite "go to" impress dish. Just remember the secret to a perfect en papillote is steam, make sure you have plenty of moist ingredients inside your package to help keep food lively and pleasing.

Try my sure fire Santa fe style chicken and peppers, I blend the bold taste of the seasons finest peppers, with a gently seasoned chicken to create this irresistible treat.



Santa Fe Stlye Chicken en papillote


Santa fe chicken and peppers en papillote, is a great meal created with little prep, amazing flavors, and a classic French cooking method.

Creates two servings:
Full time: approximately 1 1/2 hours
You will need:

2 chicken breasts
2 cubinella peppers
1 pint mushrooms, your favorite will do just great
Fresh chopped cilantro to taste
1 cup small diced bell pepper, I used a color blend but use what you prefer
1/2 cup green salsa, substitute regular if you prefer
2 tbsp Adobo seasoning

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 375

It is important to get all your fillings ready, so we will begin there

Start by cutting your mushrooms into halves


Next slice your cubinellas make sure to remove all seeds and membranes


Now let's begin to assemble, cut a parchment piece 18" long, and fold in-half, open back up, you want to assemble along the fold line.

Start by laying a bed of sliced cubinella peppers, mushrooms, and sprinkle on cilantro


Now add a small layer of diced peppers alongside the bed already created


Pour 1/4 cup salsa over vegetables, top with chicken, and sprinkle with 1 tbsp Adobo spice


Carefully fold over parchment, and fold edges to seal. I suggest multiple folds and using a spoon to ensure edges are sealed. I also fold in my corners to create an extra fold keeper


Place on a cookie sheet for easy baking. It also helps if any folds open and liquid comes out


Bake in oven for 45 minute, check internal temp by carefully inserting a thermometer into one of the breast, watch out for escaping steam.

Once your chicken is at a proper temperature, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. This allows the steam to gently evaporate.


To serve: just place on a plate and allow your guests to open the meal themselves, it is like giving them a nicely wrapped dinner and a surprise at the same time.

Friday, June 17

Oat topped spiced apple crisp

Looking for a great potluck, picnic, or barbeque dessert? Try this sensational favorite, nothing says American homecooking like an apple crisp!



This will serve 8 to 10 servings
Full Time 1 1/2 - 2 hours (include cooling time)
You will need:

8 small to medium apples
2 cup brown sugar
2 cup rolled oats, don't use quick oats
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tbsp ground cloves

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

To prepare the apples core, slice, and dice into pieces roughly 1/2" thick.


Place in a large bowl and mix in the white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (just like preparing an apple pie filling)


In a second large bowl, mix brown sugar, oats, flour and butter. Mix until it crumbles, use your fingers to make this easier


I like to use a casserole pan to bake this in, it gives it a nice compact serving dish for your table but, you can use a baking dish if you would like. Which ever you choose be sure to lightly grease it

Begin by placing half of the crumble mixture on the bottom of the bakeware, do not pack down, just coat the bottom


Pour apples on top of crumble

Top with second half of crumble, it will look like too much crumble, but once you start topping it, you will notice it goes quickly. Make sure to poke it down into any large spaces between the apples


Bake on oven for 45 minutes to 1 hr, or until golden. This does take longer than most crisps due to the layering in such a high dish. If you using a baking dish, check it around 35 to 45 minutes.

Allow to sit out on counter to cool, you will see the edges bubbling up a little, wait till these stop before serving. Approx 30 minutes

Thursday, June 16

MAKE IT: Dill and Walnut Greek inspired dipping sauce


Here is a quick and easy dip to add a little Greek inspired taste to your next dish!

Goes great with fresh vegetables, steamed artichokes, sliced bread, pita chips, and more...

This will make roughly 1 cup dip
Full time: 1 hour 15 minutes (includes cool/set time)


You will need:

1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh dill chopped
1/2 cup walnuts crushed
1/2 of a fresh lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

In a small bowl fold dill and walnuts into yogurt

Sprinkle salt, pepper on-top and fold in

Gently stir in lemon juice

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour before using to allow flavors to meld

Super stuffed Jalapino Peppers



Looking for a fun and yummy treat this Father's Day? Try my baked Jalapino Peppers, they are sure to add a little spice to any picnic!

This will make 12 stuffed peppers
Full time: 45-60 minutes
Warning: because these are baked they have a huge kick to them, follow the substitute for a less heated Jalapino


You will need:

12 Jalapino peppers
1 egg, scrambled
1 cup mixed shredded cheese, use the Mexican mix from your local market
1 cup Philidelphia Santa fe Cooking cream, substitue plain cream cheese for less heat
1 cup panko  breadcrumbs


Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 375

In a small bowl mix shredded cheese and cooking cream


Move this mixture into a large zip bag, cut corner, and push towards the tip, this will create an easy filling bag



Now prepare the peppers, carefully remove the stem, seeds, membranes, work as close to stem as possible, I like to give them a rinse when done to ensure nothing has stuck inside



Now using the zip bag as an easy filler-just squeeze cheese mixture into pepper


Set peppers aside for a moment and set up a breading station. Place the egg in a bowl, next to a plate with panko on it



Roll each pepper in the egg, then in panko to coat


Place  on parchment lined baking sheet and bake 25-30 minutes, allow to rest at room temp for 5-10 minutes before serving


Monday, June 13

MAKE IT: Pickling Vinegar

Everyone asks me, when you pickle do you use a store bought season packet? My answer is no, I actually make a pickling vinegar with seasoning in it. This is my favorite recipe for doing so....

You will need:

18 whole allspice berries
1 lg cinnamon stick
1 lg piece blade mace
6 cups malt vinegar
1 cup raw sugar (cane)
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 tsp peppercorns

Let us begin:

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely

Carefully strain into sterilized jam jars until needed. If you do not know how to sterilize jam jars see below.


STERILIZING JAM JARS:

Always wash jams jars in hot soapy water. Drain and air dry upside down, do not towel dry.

Carefully place jam jars upside down in a oven

Heat at 300 degrees for 15 minutes

Carefully remove jam jars and place on a clean, dry towel upside down until needed.

Do not touch rims when filling or moving.

Wednesday, June 8

Jalapeno Red Pepper Biscuits

Jalapeno Red Pepper Biscuits, are a great addition to a BBQ table. Blending a traditional biscuit with the spices of the summer fiesta, these biscuits have a great taste with a little added heat!

This will make 6 to 8 biscuits, depending on your pan.
Full time: approximately 30 minutes



You will need:

2 1/4 cup biscuit mix (I use Bisquick)
3/4 cup milk
1/8 cup jarred jalapeno pepper slices
2 tbsp jarred jalapeno juice
2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp powdered cayenne pepper
1 tbsp jerk seasoning spices
1/2 tbsp all spice
1/2 tbsp dried dill
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

Start by blending all the spices into a nice spice mix

Next add spice mix into biscuit mix, stir until well mixed

Chopped jarred jalapenos into small pieces approx 1/8" big each



Add these to biscuit mix and stir
 
Mix milk and jalapeno juice into mix, stir well, then knead for a few moments, only 8-12 times. Do not over knead this, it will get hard fast.



Spray you biscuit pan with cooking spray and add in dough, bake according to biscuit mix directions.



Remove from oven and enjoy!

Thursday, June 2

Seasonal Summer flavors

Here it is Spring and Summer is just around the corner. It is the time of year that our taste buds crave refreshing and vibrant flavors. Fresh garden picked produce, tree ripened fruits, and sun kissed ingredients are in abundance. This is a great time of year to incorporate lots of flavors and seasonal specialties into your dishes.

For some cooking at this time of year is a little bit of a hassle. Kitchens get hot, sticky, and soon no one wants to be stuck indoors. However, if you plan a head, or incorporate a large amount of cold dishes into the meal it can be a breeze. Try making a hot main dish with a cold side, like a tastie Corn and Tomato salad. This easily created salad is tossed with fresh lime, lemon, and cilantro which brings a great balance of light refresshing flavors to the table. Or try to plan dishes around a theme, like a fresh Strawberry salad with Djion Vinegrette, serves along side Grilled Peaches and Steak. For a fun treat make your own BBQ sauce and slow cook outside on a grill, this eliminates the hot kitchen and allows you to explore a whole new cooking style. End meals with a glass of wine, slice peaches the night before, soak in your favorite Chianti and serve after dinner for a great end to the day.

All month long I will be posting some of these great recipes along with others to help you get geared up for the Summer season of cooking and grilling. We will explore making our own BBQ sauce, cook by using both a charcoal and gas grill, and save the summer by preserving all these seasonal favorites. Most of all I will be sharing some of my all time favorite dishes with you.

Everyone has a few favorites of the season, mine is fresh fruit. I love biting into recently picked peaches and berries. I often turn them into jams, salads, smoothies, and best of all pies. Blending some of your seasonal favorites together into any dish will keep you smiling all day long.  And there is no better way to end that day then with a great dessert. A sure fire crowd pleaser is my Peach and Strawberry pie with crumb topping.

This seasonal favorite takes advantage of both fresh peaches and strawberries, baking in a lightly sweetend pie topped with a brown sugar cumble. The gently balance of the sweet peaches, sometimes tart strawberries, and brown sugar create a very silky pie. http://eatingeclectic.blogspot.com/2011/06/perfect-peach-and-strawberry-pie-with.html

Perfect Peach and Strawberry pie with crumb topping


This is one of my all time favorite pies to bake, the warm golden colored topping and fresh filling make the summer season taste like heaven.

Don' want the crumb topping? Don't worry replace the crumb topping with a secong crust, just be sure to blend 1/4 brown sugar into the filling first to keep the flavor profile.
Don't have time to slice all the fruit? Off season? Use frozen sliced peaches and strawberries instead, be sure to thaw and dry before using.

This will make 1 9" pie
Full time: 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours (cool time included)

You will need:

Pie crust, 1 layer bottom only, either home made or store bought is fine

Filling:

1 egg
4 1/2 cups peaches, washed, sliced, pitted
1 1/2 cups strawberries, washed hulled, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt

Topping:

3/4 cup flour
1/4 plus 1/8 cup sugar
1/4 plus 1/8 cup butter, softened
1/4 plus 1/8 cup, light brown sugar packed

Let us begin:



Make sure when you are slicing fruit that you are getting even pieces, you will want the peaches to be no more than 1/2" thick and strawberries no less then 1/4" thin
 


Preheat oven to 375 degrees


In a large mixing bowl combine, cornstarch, salt, egg, almond, sugar. Stir well to form a slurry (thick fluid) with no lumps



This will create the stabilizing element of the pie
 

Gently fold fruit into filling slurry, stirring just enough to ensure that fruit has been evenly covered.


 
Place you pie crust in pie pan and gently press your edges. Fill with fruit mixture,  place in refridgerator for five minutes

 
While this sits in refidgerator, in a small dry bowl combine all topping ingredients and work into a crumble dough, it will easily stick together so press gently to avoid huge clumps





Remove pie from refrigerator, and sprinkle evenly with crumble topping. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes until crumble is golden brown


Remove carefully from oven, liquid will not be all set yet and is sticky.


Let stand at room temp for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving. I let it sit for an hour though