Sunday, December 14, 2014

Too Damned Easy Sausage Gravy

     I wasn't always a fan of biscuits and gravy. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until I went to college and they served it at the cafeteria. Biscuit and gravy day was one of the few weekdays I would get up early. Now I make it at home and don't have to get up early to do it. I don't even have to wear pants. This particular recipe has some heat, as I use plenty of seasoning. It's good on biscuits, crescent rolls, eggs, hash browns, or just about anything breakfasty. It's super fast and easy to make and really dresses up a tube of store-bought biscuit dough.

Too Damned Easy Sausage Gravy
Ingredients

  • 1 pound country sausage
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan, brown sausage. Do not drain the grease.
  2. Lower the heat to low and add all the other ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are totally incorporated into the milk. Adjust the milk/flour ratios if the consistency needs work. Just remember you may have to adjust the seasonings to account for increased flour and/or milk. 
  3. Once it's the consistency you like, take it off the heat and get it on some biscuits!
Good times!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sour Cream Cranberry Coffee Cake

     Coffee cake holds a bit of nostalgia for me. When my mom would have company over, she'd eventually ask if anybody wanted "coffeeanne." At least that's what I heard as a child. What she was talking about was a spot of dessert. She was serving coffee and a light dessert. That dessert was usually a coffee cake. The coffee cakes were almost always the packaged Entenmann's ones. I can't have coffee cake without thinking of a group of adults at the kitchen table, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee while eating coffee cake. Nostalgia aside, this is a moist and tasty coffee cake. The cranberries give it a hell of a zing. I would be happy to serve this with my next coffeeanne. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Sour Cream Cranberry Coffee Cake
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals
Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (we used sweetened, since it's all we had in the house)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (I figure vegetable oil is close enough. That's what I used, anyways)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (The Wife suggested we use the frozen cranberries lurking in the back of the freezer before they achieved sentience and attempted to take over the house)
  • Topping
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine the egg, sour cream, applesauce, oil and vanilla (why did they specify these ingredients and not just say "the next five ingredients? Do they think we're stupid? Probably. Screw these people.) Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in berries. Pour into a 9-inch square baking pan (we used a 9"x13" Pyrex dish) coated with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For topping, in a bowl, combine the brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. 
  3. Bake at 350F (180C Gasmark 4) for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (ours took the full 45 minutes).
Good times!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

     I love my close, personal friend, Rachael Ray to death. However, her cutesy language has got to stop. Like this particular recipe. She calls it a stoup. Stoup? What sort of shit is that? Is it soup or stew? It's really thick soup? Then it's a damned stew. Get over it. Just stop this sort of nonsense. Look, it's a bowl full of cabbage and beef. When you're sitting on the toilet howling in despair, you're not going to be coming up with cutesy names for what's going on in that bowl. No stoups there, my friend. With that out of the way, I'm calling this soup. It's a good, hearty soup. You will enjoy it. That is an order. As always, notes and changes are in blue. 

Stuffed Cabbage Soup
via Rachael Ray 2,4,6,8 Great Meals for Couples or Crowds
A 30-Minute Cook-Book
Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground meat loaf mix (a combination of beef, pork and veal) (veal? Sorry, I was getting the mahogany trim in my Lear jet varnished and didn't have the opportunity to pick any up. I guess we'll just have to go with all 73/27 ground beef. Just remember to drain it!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (screwed up and only used 1/2 teaspoon. No harm done)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (I loves me some smoked paprika. I used about a tablespoon)
  • salt and pepper (why do people insist on adding salt to dishes that use canned goods? There's plenty salt going on right there. I did use a few grinds of fresh black pepper)
  •  1 bay leaf (by now you should know my stance on bay leaves)
  • 1 onion, chopped (We went with a sweet onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler into strips, then finely chopped (I think they meant "grated." That's what it sounded like to me, so that's what I did. I'm not a real chef. I can't be bothered with frippery like that)
  • 1 pound Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced (I just used regular old green cabbage from my garden, because that's the sort of shit we rustic types do. Just pluck a bastard from the garden and chuck it on a plate)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used two 14.5 ounce cans. Didn't drain the liquid either)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup white rice
  • handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped (omitted)
Directions
  1. Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and meat. Brown the meat (draining grease if necessary. It was for me because I used cheap-ass meat. Ask for it by name)
    You can never go wrong with quality "miscellaneous service meat"
  2. Season the meat with the allspice, coriander, smoked paprika, salt (if you're a fan of high blood pressure) and pepper. Then add the onion, carrots, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, then add the cabbage to wilt slightly. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock and bring to a boil. 
  3. Add rice and reduce to heat to a simmer. Cook for 16-18 minutes until the rice is just tender. Stir in the parsley and dill (if using). Discard the bay leaf (see? Even Rachael Ray knows bay leaves=DEATH)
Good times!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Sweet Rolls

     Let me come out and warn you right off the bat that this recipe is a P.I.T.A. There's a bunch of steps, and rolling and brushing and separating and dividing. It also takes like 3 hours start to finish including rising time. I will also tell you these things are the bomb-diggety, yo. They are just wonderful. They are soft and chewy and gooey and frosted and wonderful. I mean holy shit, wow, are they good. They just are a colossal pain in the ass to make. Totally worth it, though. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Cinnamon Sweet Rolls
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals
Ingredients

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 package (.25 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided (I realized that I have no recollection of including the 1/4 cup sugar. I did not realize it until I re-read the recipe. That tells me it probably wasn't necessary. Or maybe it was and I just forgot. Who knows.)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (omitted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring (omitted)
  • 4 tablespoons butter/margarine only if you're following my changes
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten, divided
  • 1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • For Glaze
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, cook potatoes in 1-1/2 cups water until very tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of cooking liquid. Mash potatoes; set aside 1 cup (if you have extra, find some use for it. My suggestion is loading it on a spoon and unceremoniously launching it at your spouse)
  2. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm reserved liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar; let stand for 5 minutes
  3. Add the milk, honey, oil (if using), salt, butter flavoring (or butter), sugar, 2 cups flour (screwed up again here. I totally didn't add any flour in this step. I added it all at once later. No harm done as far as I can tell), and potatoes. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes (or just throw the dough hook on the KitchenAid and let it do the work). Place in a bowl coated with non-stick cooking spray, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  4. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into an 18"x13" rectangle (my rectangle was 20"x14" because I'm a total badass). Brush with some of the egg whites.
  5. Combine brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough to within one inch of the edges. Roll up jelly-style, starting with the long side. Pinch seam to seal. Cut into 18 slices (we ended up with 16 slices because I didn't feel like measuring. I just started cutting shit in half). Place cut side down (technically if you're slicing dough, everything except the ends is cut on both sides) in two 9" square baking pans (I willfully ignored this and used to regular baking sheet which resulted in these wonderful round rolls). Brush with remaining egg white, Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  6. Bake at 350F (180C, Gasmark 4) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (we went 23 minutes and were very pleased). Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over cooled rolls. 
Good times!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Clam Chowder

     I loves me some clam chowder. I fondly remember ordering at family restaurants and getting that sickly white, ultra-thick concoction that smelled faintly of a fire on a fishing boat. I couldn't get enough of that stuff. Then I grew up and realized that it wasn't really supposed to look or taste like that and I'm very lucky I didn't get food poisoning and die from dysentery.

Or snakebite. Always the damned snakebite.
     I was glad to find a recipe for clam chowder that I feel is a bit closer to the intended look and taste. I can't say for sure as I've never had clam chowder in New England. I imagine it would taste just like this, but everyone would be talking with funny accents about how they're going "to wahk theah dahg in Havahd Pahk aftah dahk." This soup was fantastic and will enter the regular rotation. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Clam Chowder
via Best-Ever Soups
Ingredients

  • 3-3/4 oz salt pork or thinly sliced unsmoked bacon (let's just derail right away and use a half pound of bacon. BACON FTW!)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (we used a Vidalia, figuring the sweetness would work well here)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 bay leaf (remember to remove bay leaves before serving! Leave that bay leaf in there and you'll choke like the St. Louis Blues in a Stanley Cup Playoff)
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig (none on hand. I used about 1/8 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 14 oz cooked clams, cooking liquid reserved (we used 3 cans at 6.5 oz each. Go big or go home. Unless you're already at home. Then maybe go outside)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • salt (I used pink Himalayan. Not even kidding), ground white pepper (a scant 1/8 tsp) and cayenne pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Finely chopped parsley, to garnish
Directions
  1. Put the bacon (who are you fooling with the salt pork? We know you're using bacon) in a pan (we used the trusty enameled Dutch oven) and heat gently, stirring frequently, until the fat runs and the meat is starting to brown.
  2. Add the chopped onion and fry over a low heat until softened but not brown.
  3. Add the potato, bay leaf and thyme. Stir well to coat with fat, then pour in the milk and clam liquid; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender but still firm. Lift out the bay leaf (OR CHOKE AND DIE) and the thyme sprig (if you used it) and discard them.
  4. Remove the shells from most of the clams (AHAHAHA, no. My butler was too busy synchronizing all of my Rolex watches. As previously stated, I used canned clams). Add all the clams to the pot and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.
  5. Simmer gently for 5 minutes more, then stir in the cream. Heat until the soup is very hot, but do not allow it to boil. Pour into a tureen (the butler knows where the tureen is kept, but as mentioned, he was busy with my Rolexes. I used regular bowls). Garnish with chopped parsley and serve. 
Good Times!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Focaccia

     I don't think I'd be able to live with a gluten intolerance. I like bread way too much. I don't have the willpower to resist it. I'd eat a loaf of garlic bread and then sit in the bathroom for an hour screaming and cursing my existence. Then I'd go eat a stack of waffles. Circle of life and all that. Anyway, I've been meaning to try my hand at focaccia for some time and finally found a nice recipe hiding in one of my Frugal Gourmet cookbooks. This particular recipe takes about three hours from start to finish, so make sure you've set aside enough time for this. It's not particularly labor intensive, it just has a lot of rising time. It's totally worth it, as it makes a bread with a lightly crisp crust and a soft middle. It's very flavorful and seems like you could do all sorts of wonderful things with toppings. I'm calling it a winner. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Focaccia
via The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines
Ingredients
Dough

  • 2 packets quick-rising dry yeast
  • 2 cups tepid water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (use as many virgins as you like)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or salad oil (salad oil? Is that what you get when you wring out lettuce?)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5-1/2 cups unbleached white flour (I don't believe I've ever had that in the house. I went with regular old bleached white flour)
Topping
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (I used 4 cloves, and grated them. Take that, Frugal Gourmet!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, whole
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I used a Tuscany salt and pepper mixture in a grinder. Very tasty stuff)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe didn't call for them, but The Wife suggested them. They look great, but don't stay on the dough for shit. You pick up the bread and the tomatoes unceremoniously fall off. Not sure what to do to hold them in place. Maybe toothpicks or rubber cement. 
Directions
  1. Dissolve the yeast in tepid water. Add the sugar, olive oil, vegetable oil, and salt. Mix in 3 cups of the flour and whip until the dough begins to leave the sides of the mixing bowl, about 10 minutes (Whip? Whipping dough? Is that a thing? I don't have a whipping attachment for the KitchenAid, so I used the dough hook for the entire procedure)
  2. Mix in remaining flour by hand or with a dough hook and knead the dough until it is smooth. Allow the dough to rise twice, in the bowl, and punch down after each rising (I went with about an hour for each rise. The dough will at least double in size)
  3. Oil 2 baking sheets, each 18x13"(totally didn't bother measuring. I only own two baking sheets so measuring is kind of moot). Using your fingers, press the dough out to the edges of the pan. Allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F (190C, Gasmark 5)
  5. Brush with the garlic mixed with the oil for topping. Sprinkle with rosemary and kosher salt on top (or whatever else you decided to chuck on there). Bake for about 20 minutes (We did 20 minutes exactly and the bread came out golden with a nice bottom crust. Kind of like a diaper)
Good Times!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Satan Sauce

     The garden is finally done for the season and I find myself with an alarming amount of habanero peppers. For added fun, someone at work gave me about thirty more habaneros. I also have a couple of bags of habaneros from the last season in the freezer. Basically I have a shit-ton of habaneros. I turned to my trust copy of Hot Sauce! for a recipe to use. I found this one, but it called for Scotch bonnets. I figure they're pretty close in heat to habanero, so I just used habanero. The end result? This stuff is pretty damned hot with a good, persistent burn. Fortunately, there's a lot of flavor. It's totally worth the burn. What can you do with it? It's good on nachos, but you'd better have your big boy pants on if you're going to eat it like this. I'd be adding it to foods for a little extra oomph. That's just a suggestion. If you're a badass like me, you'll just spoon it into your face right out of the jar. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Satan Sauce
via Hot Sauce!
Ingredients

  • 1/2 ancho chile
  • 1 fresh Dutch Red, Thai, or jalapeno chile (we used a scary red jalapeno that was lurking in the garden)
  • 16 fresh Scotch bonnets (preferably orange or yellow), stemmed
Didn't have time to run to a haberdashery,
we used orange and yellow habaneros instead.
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (we squeezed it fresh from the bottle)
  • 1 tablespoon gold rum (I hope spiced rum is the same thing. We went with Bacardi Oakheart)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Directions
  1. Submerge the ancho in hot water and soak until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, then finely chop.
  2. Roast and peel the Dutch Red. Stem, seed and finely chop (since I didn't use a Dutch Red, I didn't feel obligated to roast or peel. I did, however, stem, seed and chop the red jalapeno)
  3. Combine the Scotch bonnets (habaneros)  with the onion and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  4. Pour the vinegar, lemon juice and rum into a nonreactive pan and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid into the food processor, add the oregano and the chopped red pepper; process lightly.
  5. Add the chopped ancho teaspoon by teaspoon, processing briefly in between, pulsing only enough to get a smooth yellow-orange sauce with red flecks. Over-processing results in a red sauce (which is what I ended up with)
  6. If you're planning on eating it right away, you're done. If you want to process it for canning, sterilize two half-pint jars and fill with the sauce. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. As always, refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation to make sure you don't poison anybody. 
Good times!