Food

June Foodie Holidays

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Happy June everyone!  It’s a lovely day here in SEMI, especially since it was mid-nineties hot here for the past couple of days.  Just wanted to give everyone a little heads up on what we can celebrate this month.

This year, Father’s Day and Juneteenth are both on the 19th.  But culinarily speaking, June is:  National Candy Month (here’s a nice nutritional link from Kansas State University’s Dining Services),  National Dairy MonthNational Fresh Fruit and Veggies Month,  National Papaya Month (which is also in September for some reason), and  National Iced Tea Month to just name a few.  Here are some days of interest:

1 Hazelnut cake day

2 Rocky Road day

3 Chocolate Macaroon day

7 Chocolate Ice Cream day

9 Strawberry Rhubarb Pie day

12 Peanut Butter Cookie day

14 Strawberry Shortcake day

22 Chocolate Eclair day

26 Chocolate Pudding day

I will try to keep these in mind for this month’s postings.  I still have to post some things for National Hamburger Month and National Salad Month which was last month.  Maybe I’ll save them for next year.

Scraps = Quick Mini Black Currant Walnut Galette

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Quick review — my last post was for a custard pie.  And if you remember, one of the steps involved trimming the edges of the crust to fit the pan.  If you’re like me, you don’t like to waste things, so hopefully you didn’t just toss the extra away.  Just take all the trimmings and reform them into a ball, refrigerate, and re-roll them out.  This is so quick and simple; honestly, this took me five minutes to do (not counting cooking time).  It’s the perfect little treat that you can have for yourself after a long day of toil and labor, or your honey when said honey comes home from work (if they are lucky enough to have a job cuz in this economy it seems like everyone is out of work).  Or this can be a treat for just one of those do-nothing days where changing your underwear can seem like a task!  But I digress. . . you really shouldn’t have to do any shopping for this one cuz all this stuff can come from your pantry.

Now I was on the fence with this one — sweet or savory?  I did have a jar of roasted peppers that I could have used and then crumbled some cheese on top.  I settled on being lazy (it is a galette, of course!) and went with the black currant galette.  For some reason, dealing with cheese was too labor intensive; keep in mind that I was dealing with that custard pie at the same time.  Plus it was getting late in the day and the dogs were wanting to go out for a little running around / bathroom time.  So lazy it is!

Here’s what you need:

  • trimmings from a pie crust gathered into a ball and chilled
  • flour for dusting
  • about 1/4 c. black currant jelly
  • 1 T. chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 T. shredded coconut

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Dust rolling surface with flour.  Roll out your trimmings into a round about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer to a lined pan.

2.  Spread the black currant jelly over the round, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edges.  Sprinkle the walnuts and coconut over the jelly.

3.  Fold the edges over, pleating as you go.  Bake in the oven until the filling is bubbly and the crust is slightly browned, about 20 – 30 minutes.  Let the galette cool before serving.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar if you wish.

Yolks, Yolks, and more Yolks. . . plus an Egg Custard and Nutmeg tart

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So I’ve been working on making some cupcakes for the past couple of days (maybe I’ll post something on that later).  What I originally planned to use with those cupcakes was a nice swiss meringue buttercream.  I was going to divide the basic batch in half or maybe thirds, and then tint and flavor them accordingly.  And since it’s a meringue, that meant just using the egg whites.

Fast forward to the part when you add the butter, and guess what happened next.  Well, the minute I added the butter, everything just deflated.  I thought, “That’s weird.  It’s not like I’ve never made this before.”  So fast forward to take two and lo and behold, the same thing happened.  That meant a change of plans.  It also meant that I had 26 egg yolks that were just kinda hanging out in the refrigerator (10 for each batch of buttercream, plus 6 from a batch of 7-minute frosting that I made as a replacement).

Now what do you do with that many egg yolks?  I didn’t have the foggiest idea.  The only thing that I could come up with was making maybe a gallon of lemon curd which wasn’t the best solution (in my opinion).  So after doing some searching, I came across a recipe for a Classic Egg Custard Pie with Lots of Nutmeg on Martha Stewart’s website.  It looks fairly simple, plus it uses 12 egg yolks!  Of course, I’ll still need to make a lemon curd anyway.  Or maybe a lime curd.

A couple of caveats — I didn’t have the correct pan so I had to improvise.  Since I didn’t have the correct pan, I had lots of extra filling.  So I just decided to have a couple of small baking dishes (which I use for baked eggs — I’ll post on that later) and an old ramekin act as stand-ins without crusts.  I also didn’t bother with the “sweet pastry dough” that was listed in the ingredient list.  I already had some pate brisee in the freezer so I just used that.  Plus, I didn’t have a vanilla bean hanging around, but I did have some vanilla extract. . .  Also, I didn’t have enough cream so I added a little roux to the mix.  Oh yeah, and some of the measurements could be a little off cuz some of the yolks had broken so there might be a little bit more in what I made.  Oops.  Wow — that’s lots of changes.  And I forgot; I don’t have arrowroot, so I used corn starch.

Here’s you’ll need for my version (but check out Martha’s at the link I listed earlier):

  • all-purpose flour for dusting
  • 1/2 pate brisee recipe (check out my earlier post)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 t. flour
  • 1 t. butter
  • 12 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg, plus more for dusting
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1.   Preheat oven to 350.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 1/8 inch thick round.  Place in a 9″ tart pan that was lined with parchment on the bottom.  Trim off excess crust (save the trimmings — form them into a ball and put them in the fridge or freezer).  Blind bake for 12 minutes, remove pie weights (or rice or beans) and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown.  Place pan on a wire rack to cool.

2.  In a medium sauce pan, melt the 1 t. of butter with the 1 t. of flour.  Cook for about a minutes on medium and gradually add the milk while stirring to combine.  Add the cream and vanilla and bring the mixture to a simmer.  Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes.

3.  Whisk together yolks and granulated sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick, about 2 minutes.  While still whisking, add warm cream mixture gradually.  Add the cornstarch and nutmeg and whisk until smooth.  Pour through a mesh strainer into the crust.

4.  Bake until edges of filling are set but center is still slightly wobbly, about 40 minutes.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).  Before serving, unmold, sprinkle with nutmeg, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Dry Rub

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So, May is National BBQ Month (I have already mentioned this in a couple of previous posts).  When a lot of people think of a BBQ, it usually involves some family and friends in the backyard, ice cold drinks, maybe a couple of dogs running around, all revolving around someone managing the grill.  Depending on who you talk to, this is not a BBQ, but in fact grilling.  Grilling is a method of cooking done over a direct flame and high heat.  To purists, BBQ takes hours, slow roasting cuts of meat at a low temperature (low and slow!), all done in a smoker or a pit.  Some are wet (dripping in a variety of sauces) while others use a dry rub.

And what is a dry rub?  Essentially, it’s a dry marinade.  It is a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices that is rubbed on the outside before roasting.  Everything is allowed to marinate for several hours which draws out a lot of moisture which, in turn, concentrates the flavor of the meat.  This also draws in a lot of the flavor of the marinade.

Now, I like this kind of stuff a little on the sweet side, so this recipe has more sugar than most (I do have a rub that is a lot more spicy, too).  It works well when used on the grill because the sugar helps to give a nice caramelized coating on whatever you are grilling, meat, veggies, or otherwise.  This recipe does make a lot, but it should last you the whole grilling season (depending on where you live and how much you use).   It might seem needlessly complicated, but every ingredient does do its part.

Here’s what you need:

  • 10 T. brown sugar
  • 3 T. salt
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. cocoa
  • 1 T. ground coffee
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 1 t. galangal
  • 1/2 t. dry mustard
  • 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. chili flakes
  • 1 t. whole anise
  • 1 t. celery seed
  • 1 t. whole coriander
  • 1 t. whole cloves
  • 1 t. cumin

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the brown sugar, salt, chili powder, cocoa, coffee, paprika, galangal, mustard, onion powder, and garlic powder.  In a dry saute pan, toast the chili flakes, anise, celery seed, coriander, cloves, and cumin.  Add to the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a fairly uniform powder is formed and the dry rub is cool.  Store in an air tight container.

Note — this is something that I came up with after lots of trials.  There’s a lot of ingredients, so I suggest just trying to simplify things and just go with a basic dry rub.  Start with just the brown sugar, salt, and chili powder.  Add stuff as you go and see what you like.

Cinco de Mayo Menu — Guacamole, Ceviche, and Margaritas

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!  You know what that means — time to get your drink on!  But what it really commemorates is the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (the Mexican Day of Independence is September 16, 1810).  Napoleon was looking to get some money back that Mexico owed France and this invasion was a way of doing that.  But things on this day didn’t turn out the way he had planned and Mexico defeated the superior (yet uncoordinated) French force.  It’s like the Alamo. . . if Texas had won.

So this isn’t really a menu per se.  More of a collection of recipes that are easy to make and that you can have for your holiday celebration.  So let’s start off with the Guacamole.  It’s simple and easy to make.  Plus it’s easy for you to put your simple twist on it.  Por exemplo, you could keep everything in a rough dice and make an avocado salad, or add some jalapeno or serrano chiles, or add cilantro (yuk — I am one of those folks who cannot stand cilantro).  Here’s what you need:

  • 3 or 4 Hass avocados, about 1 1/2 lbs.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1/2 of a small white onion, diced
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.  Prepare the avocados by cutting them in half lengthwise and twisting them to open up the halves.  Remove the seed.  Scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.  Now mash it with a fork (depending on how chunky you want it).

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Serve with some tortilla chips or use as a topping for tacos, burritos, eggs. . .  anything really. . . except like blueberry pie and the ilk.  Press down a cover a plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole if you’re not using it immediately.  I have heard that in order to keep this from turning brown, you can place the avocado pit on top of the mixture.  Not sure how or even if this works.  But if it does, in theory, you won’t need to cover this dish and can even cut back on the lime.

Ceviche.  There are all different kinds of ceviche, but they all involve “cooking” or marinating fresh seafood in some citrus juice, usually lime.  “Cooking” doesn’t necessarily happen in this dish, but the citrus does denature the proteins in the seafood, which is what the heat from cooking does.  It probably originated in Peru and made its way up the coastline to Mexico, although some place origins of the dish closer to Central America.  There are some cultures in Asia who may also have a claim on “inventing” the dish (I luv Hawaiian Poke).  Again, a variety of seafoods are used — different fishes, scallops, squid, octopus, crab, I even saw one with smoked fish for those who have concerns about eating raw fish.  Since this is Cinco de Mayo, I will “de-Asian” my recipe to put it closer to the Mexican version (I like to put a little ginger, green onion, and soy sauce in mine).  I will be making some later today.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb. ocean fish like halibut, mackerel, or snapper (go to your fish monger and see what’s fresh and use that.  you could also tell them that you’re planning on making ceviche and ask them for suggestions.  any good fish monger should be able to help you out.  if they can’t offer any good advice buy your fish somewhere else!).
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1 c. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley
  • hot chiles, to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sugar

1.  Cut the fish into about 1/2 in. cubes.  Place in a non-reactive bowl (like glass or stainless) with the onion, garlic, and lime juice.  The fish should be covered with the lime juice, if not just add some more, or top it off with some water.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, to get the fish well done.  If you want it more raw, just marinate it for about an hour or two.

2.  Strain out the lime juice and discard it.  Add your tomatoes, chile, cilantro (or parsley), and olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Season with the salt and pepper.   Balance out the flavors with just a scant amount of sugar, maybe 1/2 teaspoon.

Margaritas.  What would today be without a good margarita?  Origins of this drink are highly debatable, with several stories about where and why this drink was created.  But it is definitely Mexican in origin and can be made in lots of variations, which I’m sure y’all know.  Just go to a local restaurant and see what different kinds they have.  This recipe is simple, requires only three ingredients (not including ice and salt or sugar on the rim of the glass) — Silver Tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau.

1.  Prep the glass by running a lime around the rim and dipping it into a shallow plate of salt or sugar, depending on your taste.

2.  Pour your tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau into a pitcher.  If you use a cup of each, you’d probably get 5 margaritas, depending on how much of a booze hound you are.  Fill a cocktail shaker about half full of ice.  Add enough of your Margarita mixture for a couple of drinks and shake vigorously for about 15-30 seconds to chill and dilute it.  Strain into the prepared glass.

Now these are just a couple of things that you can make today to help celebrate the holiday.  We typically think of this day as an excuse to drink, but take some time to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.  One e-magazine that can offer some information on a wide variety of topics ranging from culture to cuisine to travel is MexConnect.  On the Culinary side of things, one great resource is Chef Rick Bayless.  He has a series on PBS called Mexico – One Plate at a Time where he explores the culture and food traditions  of Mexico, as well as the variations across the different regions of the country.  He has won various awards including a couple of James Beards.  You can learn about his books, restaurants, products, and his bio at the hyperlink above (I did not know that he did some doctoral work in Anthropological Linguistics at the University of Michigan).

Sorry for the long post, but hope it was helpful.  I’ll try to post some other things throughout the day that are Mexican themed.  Depends on how many margaritas I have 🙂

May Foodie Holidays and postings preview

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Well, it’s May and you know what that means.  Lots of things apparently.  First of all, all those April showers have brought in the May flowers.  But since it still feels a little chilly up here, maybe those flowers will come in June.

So what’s in store for this month?  There’s Cinco de Mayo, which is not the Mexican Day of Independence (that’s in September).  Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, too.  Culinarily speaking, it is also National Hamburger Month, National Barbeque Month, National Salad Month, and National Chocolate Custard Month, just to name a few.  There are a whole jumble of National ____ Days which I could do stuff on, but that’s really no different from any other month.  So this will be the some of the various themes that I’m going to try to focus on this month.  Stay tuned!

Ham Day!

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Just wanted to say a “Happy National Glazed Ham Day“!  Not exactly sure how that came to be, but who doesn’t like a nice glazed ham?  Well, vegetarians, I guess. . . And vegans. . . And those with certain religious obligations. . .