Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rachel's Irish Family Food: Cabbage with Bacon and Cream

I talk a lot on this blog about these dishes I cook being delicious, and honestly, they are.  Every once in a while I get a stinker, but that nasty mess doesn't get a beauty shot.  And then every once in a while I make a dish that literally has me licking the bottom of my plate and throwing the remainder in the freezer for god's sake so that I can't eat anymore and gain five pounds.

This dish is so smoky and creamy that it's almost a sin, but then you have.....green stuff!  See?  It's healthy.  There's green stuff.  And the green stuff makes it Irish!  So there you go, healthy Irish side dish that also makes you slap any hand that dares to sneak the last bite.

Cabbage with Bacon and Cream
From Rachel's Irish Family Food by Rachel Allen

4 tablespoons butter
6 slices of smoked regular bacon, thinly sliced
1 large Savoy or green cabbage (about 1 pounds), outer leaves removed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon water
¾ cup light or heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large frying pan or wok over high heat, add the bacon, and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until crisp and golden.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, cut the cabbage into quarters, removing the core from each piece, and thinly shred across the grain.  Add the cabbage to the pan, along with the garlic and water.  Saute for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, tossing frequently, until wilted and just tender.

Increase the heat a little and return the bacon to the pan.  Pour in the cream and allow to bubble for a few minutes until thickened slightly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homesick Texan: Cactus Casserole

When I was living in New Jersey, I missed Texas like you would not believe.  Okay, maybe you would.  I missed it terribly.  Especially the food.  Tex-Mex, Mexican, and every combination thereof.  I spent my time cruising the internet, mostly to the Homesick Texan blog, and made myself feel better with the thought that at least one other person was suffering just like I was.

Around that time I saw her post a recipe for a cactus casserole.  I had eaten some cactus when I took a cruise to Mexican forever ago, and it wasn't bad, but this sounded really good.  What's not to like with rice and cream and spices?  The cactus works really well here, and I took all the shortcuts she suggested to get it to my mouth faster.  It's really rich, so you may just want a salad on the side.

Cactus Casserole
From Homesick Texan blog

1 (15-ounce) jar of cactus paddles (nopales)
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground oregano
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups cooked rice
1 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Drain the cactus paddles and then rinse with cold water.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat up the canola oil on medium heat. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Remove the skillet from the heat.

In a bowl, mix together the sour cream the chili powder, cumin, oregano, allspice, cayenne, and half the shredded cheese. Then stir in the cooked rice and the cactus. Taste and add salt and adjust the seasonings. Spoon the sour cream, rice and cactus mixture into the greased skillet, stirring well to combine with the onions and garlic. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Betty Crocker & Savour Fare: Baklava Bars

My friend Kim has a bad habit of looking at what I have pinned to my boards, and then demanding that I make all the wonderful things that she sees.  I'm not sure who is going to eat all these luscious goodies, especially since she eats like a bird, but just this one time I figured I would humor her.  I mean, what are friends for?  Especially friends with baklava bars?

These were stellar.  I like the changes that were made to the Betty Crocker recipe, although I had to cut back on the lemon juice for my finalized version.  Maybe I just had a particularly juicy lemon, but ½ a lemon was a bit overpowering.  Oh, and schedule a dentist appointment before you indulge.  I promise you'll get a cavity.

Baklava Bars
Adapted from Betty Crocker and Savour Fare blog

Cookie Base:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

8 sheets frozen phyllo dough
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1½ cups chopped walnuts
 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cream the butter with the sugar, baking soda, salt, extracts, and lemon zest until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add flour and baking powder and beat until combined.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, and lay the phyllo sheets out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or silpat, brushing each sheet with melted butter before adding the next. It does not matter if it bunches or tears since it will all be crumbled up anyway. Brush the last sheet with the remaining melted butter, and pop it in the oven until the phyllo is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Reduce oven heat to 350°F. Press the cookie dough into a greased 9x13-inch rectangular pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until just starting to color, and remove from oven to cool.

Crumble the phyllo sheets into a medium bowl. Add the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and 4 more tablespoons of the butter, softened, and mix to combine. Spread this mixture over the par-baked cookie dough, and bake 18 minutes longer. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, in a small, microwave safe bowl, combine remaining 4 tablespoons butter, cinnamon, lemon juice, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. Microwave 1 minute or until the mixture is bubbly (this can also be done on the stovetop). Pour the glaze evenly over the cookies still in the pan. Let cool thoroughly, and cut into triangles.

Makes 48 cookies

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Howdy from Cowtown: Scalloped Potatoes and Pork Chops with Onion Gravy

My mom used to make scalloped potatoes with pork chops on top.  They were....bland.  Sorry, just being honest here.  I wondered if that was just the way it goes with this dish, or if it was possible to get a little more out of pretty much the same ingredients.  Pinterest has once again saved the day.

This recipe is pretty fabulous.  Lots of good flavor, tender chops, tender potatoes, and those yummy caramelized onions that pretty much everyone loves.  There's goodness in this dish.  And yes, I didn't really understand why the pork chops went under the potatoes, but we'll go with trying to keep them from drying out.  Because who likes a dry pork chop?  No one.  Okay, maybe the dog.  But he doesn't get a vote.

Update:  When I went out to look up this recipe again, the blog was gone!  I cannot tell you how sad that made me.  Luckily I was able to find a much-splattered copy shoved in my recipe book.  You're welcome.

Scalloped Potatoes and Pork Chops with Onion Gravy
From Howdy from Cowtown blog

5 tablespoons butter, divided
6 pork chops, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 large onion, sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
¾ cup whole milk
1 cup chicken broth
6 cups thinly sliced red potatoes

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a skillet, brown the seasoned pork chops in 2 tablespoons butter.  Remove the chops and add 2 more tablespoons of butter along with the sliced onions.  Once the onions are slightly tender, stir in the flour and cook for a minute.  Next add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, celery seed, parsley, thyme, milk, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Adjust seasonings as needed.

Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray and place pork chops in the bottom.  Next, add the potatoes on top.  Pour the onion gravy mixture over the top of the potatoes.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Makes 6 servings

Monday, February 04, 2013

Southern Living: Lemon Bar Cheesecake

Your husband love lemon like my sister's husband?  This is your new favorite recipe.  I'm not lying.  This cheesecake packs the biggest lemon punch I've had in a while.  They aren't messing around when they say the thing is like lemon bars.  It's just this side of puckering your mouth.  In a good, sugary way of course.

It looks like a lot of steps, and honestly it kinda is, but it's really very much worth it.  Not only is the thing delicious, it's pretty much a show stopper.  It looks like you spent all weekend making it.  But you didn't.  Because you took the lazy way out and made the lemon curd in the microwave.  I won't tell, I promise.

Lemon Bar Cheesecake
From Southern Living magazine, February 2013

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
1 to 2 tablespoons ice-cold water
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups Quick and Easy Lemon Curd, divided
Candied Lemon Slices (optional)

Pulse first 3 ingredients in a food processor 3 or 4 times or just until blended. Add butter, and pulse 5 or 6 times or until crumbly. Whisk together egg yolks and 1 tablespoon ice-cold water in a small bowl; add to butter mixture, and process until dough forms a ball and pulls away from sides of bowl, adding up to 1 tablespoon remaining ice-cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary. Shape dough into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 4 to 24 hours.

Roll dough into a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a lightly greased 9-inch dark springform pan, gently pressing on bottom and up sides of pan; trim and discard excess dough. Chill 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325°. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Pour two-thirds of cheesecake batter (about 4 cups) into prepared crust; dollop 1 cup lemon curd over batter in pan, and gently swirl with a knife. Spoon remaining batter into pan.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or just until center is set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Remove sides of pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving platter. Spoon remaining 1 cup lemon curd over cheesecake, and, if desired, top with Candied Lemon Slices.

Quick and Easy Lemon Curd

6 lemons
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Grate zest from lemons to equal 2 tablespoons. Cut lemons in half; squeeze juice into a measuring cup to equal 1 cup.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add lemon juice to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition; stir in zest. (Mixture will look curdled.)

Transfer to a 3-quart microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave at HIGH 5 minutes, stirring at 1-minute intervals. Microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals, 1 to 2 more minutes or until mixture thickens, coats the back of a spoon, and starts to mound slightly when stirred.  Stove-Top Method: Transfer mixture to a heavy 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 14 to 16 minutes.

Place heavy-duty plastic wrap directly on warm curd (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 4 hours or until firm. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Candied Lemon Slices

2 small lemons
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup water

Cut lemons into -inch-thick rounds; discard seeds. Stir together sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large skillet over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, 14 to 16 minutes or until slightly translucent and rinds are softened. Remove from heat. Place slices in a single layer in a wax paper-lined jelly-roll pan, using tongs. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 2 hours to 2 days. Reserve syrup for another use.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Rock Recipes: Baked Honey Lemon Glazed Wings

So, the Super Bowl.  I'm sure I'll get razzed for this, but who the hell cares?  If I want to see real football, I'll watch the college teams (go Horns!!).  I'm only in it for the food.  And luckily for me, Super Bowl time is like the prime time for all things greasy, cheesy, and ridiculously bad for you.

I wanted to join in all the junk food fun, but I just couldn't bring myself to fry up a batch of chicken wings.  I found this recipe for baking them and figured I'd give it a go.  While the wings never did crisp up much (see, you need the hot oil bath!), the sauce was pretty darn good.  I'm betting that if I slap these bad boys in the oven at a higher temp, I'll get what I'm looking for.

Baked Honey Lemon Glazed Wings
From Rock Recipes blog

3 pounds chicken wings, cleaned and cut into two pieces, tips removed
Salt and pepper to season
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup honey
Finely grated zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Season the wings with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.  Dredge the chicken wings in the seasoned flour.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over the sheet.  Bake the wings on this rack at 350°F for about 45 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, saute the shallot in the olive oil.  Cook for one minute, then add the honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.  Simmer together for about 5-10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken wings to a large bowl and pour the hot glaze over the wings.  Toss well to coat all of the wings in the glaze.  Garnish with grated lemon zest and chives if desired.

Lady Bird Johnson's Mexican Chocolate Cake

For the longest time, I called this cake Texas Tea Cake.  Like Texas Tea.  You know, oil.  Like the cake is dark and fudgy like oil.  Okay, so maybe I'm not as clever as I thought, but this is still pretty much the quintessential cake of Texas.  If you cannot make this cake, and you live here, SHAME ON YOU.  We are taking back your Texan citizenship card.

The cake is actually super easy, and there's about a bizillion different versions on the interwebs.  I could never quite locate the origin, but it figures with the cinnamon that this may have originally been some sort of Mexican chocolate cake.  Works for me.  And while this is certainly a sugar bomb, it's worth every bite.

Lady Bird Johnson's Mexican Chocolate Cake

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup canola oil
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate or ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Frosting

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan.

Combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

Combine the water, butter, oil, and chocolate or cocoa in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Watch that the mixture does not scorch.  Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Combine the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla, and stir the mixture into the chocolate batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Start making the frosting about 5 minutes before the cake is done.  Spread the frosting over the hot cake while it is still in the pan.  Allow the cake to cool before cutting so that the frosting has time to solidify.

Makes 20 servings

Chocolate Frosting

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons whole milk
1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar (about 3½ cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped

Combine the butter, cocoa, and milk in a saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in the powdered sugar gradually.  Add the vanilla and pecans and mix well.