Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Capers

I had prepared a simple dinner for us early Saturday...had it all in the pan, prepped and ready to slide into the over. I have not had my Paprika Lemon Chicken in a while and since I am eating greens every other night I thought it would be a nice combo. While I was in the market last week preparing for this weeks party affairs I saw capers. I love those little salty rounds with lemon on many things...but after we ate dinner I realized I had forgotten to put them on here...only enough for the night, so no going back.

Afterward I got an idea of making some Greek dolmas and sprinkling a few on top with the egg butter sauce that I would make...same thing happened again...we ate them today before I realized that container of capers is still sitting in the fridge...

I guess there will have to be another 'Behind The Wheel Chef' caper down the road...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Boats

I wanted to make sure I made something a little traditional for my own household and for my clients, and after seeing Greg @ SippitySup make his own version of truffle potato boat appetizers for a party I decided to once again throw together a CookAppeal, LLC creation!

Kaitlin @ buffalochickendip on saw my comment about how I had heard of Buffalo Chicken Dip from some people here in Jersey, but had never tried or made it, so she sent me a gift...Thanks Kaitlin!

I wanted to be able to eat this with my diet changes, a few twists and I turned it into a lower fat dip, but you can go to her site and see the original recipe! The potato boats make it a hearty main course with the added chicken and other ingredients!

Down the hatch maties...and thanks for all the support this past few weeks!

Buffalo Chicken Potato Boats

1/4 cup Frank's REDHOT
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cans Swanson White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast or 1 large boiled chicken breast shredded by hand (optional, I made with just spinach for the vegetarians)
1/4 cup shredded spinach; cleaned and pat dry

12 small fingerling potatoes; cleaned and scooped (below); rub with oil.

Pick out as many even or stable potatoes as you can. Boil a pot of water, and drop them in, after five minutes turn off the water and remove from heat. In about 15 minutes drain them and slice down the middle, and cut a tiny bit off the bottom to make them sit flat.

Scoop out the inside(save the pieces for making soups)with the small end of the melon baller to fit a good mound of dip into them; bake at 350 degrees in oven thirty minutes or turned golden brown.

I also want to send hugs out to ChefBliss for giving me an award; which I have thought it was so cute and reminds me of myself when I was a kid laying on the hardwood floors drawing and writing away...or playing with my plastic kitchen dishes and fake food my parents bought me for Christmas...

NOTE: I could not keep anyone out of these, once they cooled they were so crunchy and good with the wonderful taste of chicken, blue cheese, and Frank's Redhot...

The Countdown for Super Bowl has begun...

One, Two, Three days and appetizers till the kick off! I have got two parties to cater on Sunday, and I will drop off their trays, and run back home in time to friend Debra is routing for the Steelers, my son for the Cardinals...what do I do?

So far my clients have agreed to hors d'oeuvres, and they will provide the usual pizza and hot wings for their guest. I will provide four different finger foods, cheese and fruit platter, and some wine pairing for next two days are busy...

Cut frozen pasty squares into smaller one, and then use one of those corn on the cob holders that sit in the drawer all year long to puncture the square, and cook them for no longer than 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven to rise a bit; then fill with diced sauted veggies and a little egg wash, and back into oven for 10 more minutes.

Saute mushrooms and red onion in a pat of Kerry Gold or your favorite butter, with a dash of olive oil to keep from burning. When browning starts add garlic, salt/pepper to taste and herbs de provence a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and red wine and simmer and mushrooms absorb liquid. Mix egg whites with dash of heavy cream and mix. Let sit over night to meld.

Red Cipollin onions; boil and peel; then cut into small pieces and soak in 2 parts red wine and one part apple cider vinegar over night. Use cheese as base and press onions down, and bake in pastry shells or I used pie crust cut outs.

The menu ideas began with low fat, but savory cheese and balsamic mushroom pastry bites, along with an extra bowl for dipping crostini...using a dab of my Kerry Gold...

Red Cipollini Tarts are also on the menu...after I boiled and peeled them, and then soaked them in a little apple cider vinegar and some red wine over night...

A recipe I found years ago in Dean & Delucha cookbook...Spinach, Tomato & Goat Cheese Pie (originally quiche)...A favorite in our house for years...

This is my practice and taste test run for the hors d'oeuvres...these are a little something I picked up from Greg at SippitySup...he made Truffle Potato Boats...the flags...with the help of publisher and my printer...

Spicy White Bean Soup

We all love soup when it is cold, and actually I can eat it all year round. Maybe when I loose all my weight I could be known for the 'Ez Soup Diet'?

I saw that ChefBliss posted a blog about 'White Bean Hummus', and we sometimes are on the same wave length...I just decided instead of making hummus for the Super Bowl Game Day spread...I turned it into something healthier for me to eat for my lunches...I will be making other low fat alternatives for that day...

Spicy White Bean Soup

14 oz chicken or veggie stock
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups white beans, soaked over night
1 medium poblano chile, seeded & small chop
1/2 red onion, small chop
1 can fire roasted organic tomatoes (I do not salt when using canned)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon EVO

Saute onions and spices in olive oil until just before onions are clear and then combine all ingredients in pot and simmer until beans are tender. I used my pressure cooker; which I mostly use to make Rajima (kidney bean curry) or other lentils, but decided to try this.

Afterward I thinned it out with more veggie stock to cut back on my calorie in take. Sprinkle with some dried cilantro and red pepper flakes...and it tasted great!

UPDATE: Hubby ate his 'I *heart* You Apple and Blue Cheese Pies and told me he had never had such a think and it was a keeper! Tonight he will eat his Lobster Ala King his missed out on...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Pot of Gold

This reminds me of a bar of gold...right out of the leprechauns pot at the end of the rainbow...and if you saw one of those silly movies where he is running around saying "Wheres me gold"; then you know I am locking the windows and doors right now!

Have you ever done an olive oil tasting? They are great to participate in when you attend food industry trade events, and now and then you will see it as part of a wine tasting convention...well there is a butter tasting event going on in my house right now! Yep, I picked up some French, Irish, and Amish butter that will sit along side my own organic unsalted variety.

Unfortunately I also bought this butter before before I got my test results back from some stomach issues, and it is what we all are afraid to hear 'Low Fat' diet, and eat more greens! The darker the greens the better they are for you. I am certified in nutrition and know what kind of food I should be eating. I gave up dairy products, and mostly cook with infused olive oils, and love to squeeze that lemon on most all of my dishes, but apparently not enough changes over the past few months. My love for 'Whiskey' and good scotch has come to a screeching halt! My liver enzymes were 'slightly' elevated, but that means it is not too late to start loosing weight and pour the drink down the...wait a minute...I will compromise, and only cook with it...along with my lovely bricks of 'Around The World' butter that will sit and wait for a recipe designed just for them...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Salmon Candy Rilletes, Fillets, haricots verts & Quinoa

The story behind my moist, sweet-and-smoky Salmon "Candy" explains why it is so deliriously delicious.The oil content of Yukon River King Salmon – a whopping 25-35 percent – is unequaled by any other wild Salmon. In fact, Yukon River King boasts up to twice the fat content of better-known Copper River King! Why is this?

The Yukon River runs for 2,300 miles, making its length unsurpassed in the US.

Yukon King Salmon must travel this huge distance to spawn, and cannot eat during this arduous migration.
Accordingly, they've developed unique genetics and instincts that lead them to gorge themselves at sea and accumulate the uniquely high body fat levels needed to sustain them on their epic journey.

Yup'ik Eskimos harvest Yukon King at the peak of fat content and deliver these incomparably oil-rich Salmon to be hand de-boned, brined in salt and organic brown sugar, and smoked using natural alder wood.

The taste is subtly sweet and so unbelievably rich and flavorful that Alaskans call this treat "Salmon candy" or 'Squaw Candy'.

For my first recipe using the salmon I have chosen a classic French recipe, Rilletes that normally you would find pork, and pate on crostini. I have read that this dish is served almost regularly to company at parties or even casual gatherings, and is not considered a delicacy like we might here in the States. Other than smoking the fish, it is quite an easy undertaking...

I made my own whole grain crackers for this recipe since bread is not an option in my house for weight loss purposes, and this is a buttery delight to make up the difference...

8 ounce piece of salmon, preferably wild, bones removed
salt (I am opting for the few pieces that I did not brine and smoke)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter- (using French butter I purchased)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice (no lemon-using some juice from a salsa I made)
2 tablespoons chives
1/4 cup red onion
4 ounces smoked salmon candy, flake with fingers
¼ teaspoon paprika
a pinch white pepper (1/4 teaspoon in my book)
A few dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
Splash of Cognac

With a fork mash the butter and oil together once it has softened or you can use 'My little friend', (placing everything in here and fold in fish afterward), and then add the other ingredients and lightly toss; refrigerate for about two hours, and then spread onto crackers or sliced crostinis, and serve. (you may freeze for future use)

The second dish I have created is Salmon Candy Fillets over haricots verts and Quinoa

Quinoa- heat butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add pepper, carrot, and onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add quinoa; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in fish or veggie stock (measurements as per box, I cooked traditional white), 1/2 cup cognac, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Stir in parsley. Bon Apetite!

I then sauté haricots verts in a touch of olive oil on medium heat; adding a some veggie stock to steam, but still al dente; move over and set pieces of salmon to heat through a bit; then add a splash of heavy cream to pick up flavors, and plate!

Information- Quinoa (pronounced /ˈkinwɑ/ KEEN-wah or /ˈkinoʊə/ KEE-no-uh, Spanish quinua, from Quechua kinwa) is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) grown as a crop primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal as it is not a grass. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited.

To celebrate my hubby's return we paired this with a 1995 Burgundy...

Two Blogs Share Lunch

I read a post by 5 Star Foodie, who expresses her love for cheese, weekends and company. Noticing a Raw Doddingon Cheese that is somewhere between Gouda and Cheddar in flavor; it reminded me of a sandwich I came up with for my cafe...Raw Organic Valley Tuna Melt...We sold the bread, tuna, cheese and other ingredients in the store, so it had a duo purpose.

We decided to come together and share our experience-

5 Star Foodie:

Today was a snow day and tomorrow looks like it will be too. I had a bunch of kids over and made the tuna melts...They were excellent!

Heart'E Tuna Melt Panini

2-3 oz natural canned tuna (small can)
3 T finely chopped red onion
2 T finely chopped celery
1 T finely chopped carrots
2 T veganaise (health food store, no eggs/dairy)

Blend well and refrigerate over night to meld flavors

-Heat pan to medium high and place 1/2 of the tuna mixture in with a dash of paprika, once browning occurs, start stirring and the add a handful of Raw Organic Cheddar; remove from heat and set aside. Ready two pieces of whole grain bread with oil or butter on one side each, and place on grill pan or in panini press with tuna mixture between slices.

Hannah says:

"Today I had a tuna melt sandwich for lunch. The bread tasted grainy and the tuna melt inside tasted smooth and crunchy and cheesy. Mommy (5 Star Foodie) made it by mixing tuna, and celery, and carrots, and onions, and Nayonnaise. Then she fried it with the yummy Doddingon cheese we had on the weekend. Then, she made a sandwich. And it was great"!

NOTE: I also have blended turkey or roast beef in the chopper with horseradish sauce, onion, celery and mix with the other ingredients for tasty 'Melts' with the same success...

Some Good Dirt

Every where you look you see dirt...on television, out of your front, back, every window, when you take a walk, head to work, run errands, shop at the markets, and even inside your own home it lurks...sometimes neglected...(Photo courtesy of Moi in the PNW-Wilmette Valley- I found this unity and contrast of dirt along side human need poetic)

Other representations come to mind as well...soil, terrior, mud, sludge, earth skin, and it even comes in different, red, brown, sand, or moldy green and white tones... Yes, I am talking about how we cannot live without it. The earth would become literally a wasteland if we did not take care of our dirt... We consume dirt in our daily diet through nourishing foods we prepare for our families or just ourselves.

We consume it through minerals in our water, the wine we so cherish, our vegetables, grass feed beef, and build our kingdoms upon it, but why do we not take care of it as we should. We all are Dirt! I hold no dirty little secrets behind this post, just a mornings coincidence and related post on 'Wanting Some Grass', that tied into my blogcruising (Chefbliss credit & contribution to my vocabulary), and 'A Look Into Someone Else's Artwork'...I guess what it all boils down to in my pot, is a need for 'Some Good Dirt'....

I woke up to some BBC news story about how someone decided that we needed a little reminder, possibly some education on the possibilities of what might happen if we continue to let nature and the way we treat Dirt! destroy our way of life as we know and love it...

Quote- "It possibly has more life in it than we do..." -GARY VAYNERCHUCK Host, WineLibrary.TV (of New Jersey), and notice you see him literally lick soil from his hand in his bio photo, and he is also known as a kooky star of his own wine dreams...

When you come across some good dirt, no matter where you live, it is how you nurture it, take hold of it and run with it, share it with others...there is nothing like good ole dirt...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Salmon Candy Update

After a twenty four hour brown sugar and orange juice bath, add or take a few more hours to get other stuff done. The almost three pounds of Salmon was cut up today, and sits on its cold fridge racks to cure for another twenty four...hey is that a popular show right now? I bet you would get bored watching this for an hour...

Once this cures it will go into the smoker for hours of slow sweltering alder chip heat...maybe if I hop in there I can too burn off some of my fat! Nahhhhhhh 'forgetaboutit'...

I almost gave in and cooked a piece for my dinner, but I went with this instead...Okra and tomatoes, or as the South Indians call it Bhindi...or they use the whole or cut up okra, and sometimes on menus it will describe it as 'stuffed'. This dish mainly comes from the South parts of India...where I come from in the south, we call it just plain Good!

Christine AKA Mistress of Cakes and other have tantalized me with a blog of Stewed Tomatoes and Rice, so I had to make of my repeated favorite dishes for a cold and lonely night...

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Did any of you see the movie about the two guys who go to California wine country to try wine, and the blonde guy is getting married? The movie was called 'Sideways'. Two men embark upon a journey to try wine and find I was embarking on a new journey down my baking challenges; that just happened to include wine...

Well I did a cup cake blog for Iron Cup Cake Challenge, and turned my 'wine' infused cup cake 'Sideways' and only one person got my creative image...

I got an email from this girl asking me if my cup cake had anything to do with the movie because the theme was wine for January, or did it just fall over side ways...

Does it pay to be artistic in this business...Yes! Even if only one person gets me...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yukon River Salmon Candy

Part I, Brown Sugar Brine & Alder Smoked

Just recently I wrote a story for a blog friend who's daughter likes to read story was about a Bear who likes their sweet berries, but then I remembered that the when the bear is hibernating in the winter he is dreaming about his sweet salmon treats...since it is cold outside, some of us probably feel like hibernating, but I am going for the candy...

Once on a trip to the Whole Foods market years and years ago I saw this dried fish, and ask what it was. The guy behind the counter told me it was smoked Yukon River Salmon Candy...I of course had to try a bite, and he obliged my wishes...oh my what a tasty treat. Brown sugar brined Salmon strips is smoked in alder! I saw it again, but at $19.99 a pound, I think I will pull out my stove top smoker and make my own!

My first attempt came out pretty tasty...

I bought two pounds of Alaskan Wild Caught King Salmon...yep, after this month you cannot find it except frozen or smoked. I guess that is why they came up with a smoked version, because you crave this version in the off season. Now the brine calls for water, salt, and lots of brown sugar. Get out your large container and give that salmon its cold water bath over the fridge of course!

Take and cut it into one inch strips (small smoker), and be sure to keep adequate space around each piece to allow the smoke to filter around the fish from all sides. Next place racked fish into refrigeration for a minimum of 12 hours, this allows the fish to cure.

After you have cured the fish you are ready to smoke it. Start out as cool as you can and gradually increase your temperature to an internal temperature of 150 degrees (F) for 30 minutes. Remove rack from smoker and allow your finished product to cool. Your fish is now ready to be vacuum sealed or consumed.

WARNING:Remember that if you choose to vacuum seal your products that you MUST keep it frozen or refrigerated until you are ready to use it. Be sure to sanitize your smoking equipment after use.

I have decided on a few recipes to use this in, and will continue in a few days once the salmon has cured and been smoked in alder chips...

I will post Yukon River Salmon Candy- Part II next...

Biscuits and a Lobster Tail

...that keeps a chef happy! One cold winter and lonely day a chef found out her hubby was not coming into town like planned, so she decided to reveal a lobster dream that just might keep her company and teach that hubby a lesson...

This story really begins with the tale of a chef's husband who loves his mothers Chicken Fricassee (she makes it for him every visit), and the chef who longs to eat out, but has to watch her calories. There was a time when her and her little sister in Texas would crave Cheddar Biscuits from a restaurant chain that will not be mentioned in this blog, but making biscuits was not new to her...she came from a long line of southern biscuit queens who made them almost daily.

Chef thought and thought one day, and said fricassee-hickassee...there are so many chicken with cream and veggie recipes out their, but their was one she had not ever made, but had once in a hospital she worked as a dietitian's assistant...Chicken Ala King!

Then it all came together with her usual twist...Lobster Ala King...the hubby really liked the idea, but hey, he is away and this chef is hungry! So she decided to include a biscuit recipe from a fellow friend, and found that The Hungry Mousse posted a blog about making some yummy looking buttermilk biscuits, so I decided to make her recipe for this blog, but add a little cheddar to the recipe.

You make the biscuits first, and then let them set aside and cool...

I *heart* chipollini/cipolini onions for this recipe, because it called out to me...along with some small diced carrots, mushrooms, peas, seasonings, and heavy cream. After you use the tail to make a stock you will saute the trio of veggies in a little white truffle oil; then add lobster broth-reduce; add cream, and peas. Thicken with some Quinoa flour and pour over biscuits.

The broth was very rich, and the lobster just cooked enough, and still succulent!

This was my portion...hubby gets scraps when he comes home...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dinner, Friends & Meditation

Hubby has business out again, but once a week I get together with my NJ friend Gen, and sometimes she is a guinea pig for my low fat and healthy dishes...hey, she does not mind, and when we are done eating, we are doing a 'Vision Board' project along with meditation book. I also had to cook some more food for a gathering for the friend who lost her son that will take place the next day. I decided to make my famous Hickory Smoked BBQ Brisket, Apple Slaw and tried some roasted Brussel Sprout Curry Salad.

Clean and cut spouts in half. Cut up some red onion, and throw in a few cranberries for color and tart. Sprinkle on some olive oil and some yellow curry powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste and roast for thirty minutes. Let cool and toss in some yogurt, and voila a new creation...not sure what to call it 'Sprout Curry'?

Apple slaw is melding in fridge...that is always better the next day...grate some apples, cabbage, carrots, celery seeds, shake of rice wine vinegar and toss in some veganaise (vegan mayo), or oil and vinegar and you are good to go...

Camera a little out of focus? Well, I was going in for the bread or buns tonight...low carbs and just plain good ole BBQ taste!

We *heart* Apple Pie (Not Your Mommas Fruit Pie)

Our hearts continue to beat whether it be for our passion to cook, snowy days, joys of motherhood or fatherhood, wagging tails and furry friends, the anticipation for the last frost and planting the garden, or the fact that if we eat healthy and add 3-4 helpings of fruit to our daily diets we can continue to be around to enjoy one of the most celebrated holidays coming up...Valentines Day!

I saw that The Alchemist is hosting a Valentine Dessert contest, and have been thinking of what creation would be in my usual form of 'Way Out Combination' of flavor and ingredients that most of you have come to see. I had thought about a wild Swahili apple bake with spun sugar, or perhaps a wacky cup cake that included raspberries and chocolate. Apples would be the main ingredient, but I thought about combination's we have had in ways that were sweet but tart and spicy.

My inspiration comes from my love of mixed green salad, apples, spicy walnuts and blue cheese...but take away the mixed greens and make some homemade fried and baked pies...and in the shape of hearts! My mom was quite the baker, and she loved her beloved southern fried pies.

Mom was cautious about letting me into the kitchen, because of my wild mixtures and ideas, so this would have been a Momma No-No in her kitchen, but in mine...

I cute up six to seven Gala apples; which are sweet nor tart, add some grated nutmeg, ground cinnamon bark, ginger, star anise, and spicy walnut pieces I have made. Pre-bake about 1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts that have egg whites, powder sugar and chipotle chili powder on them for about 20 minutes; cool and crush in baggy with mallet. Cut apples into pieces and soak in lemon juice and apple cider; add 1 cup powder sugar; cook all ingredients for about 20 minutes; set aside to cool and stir in walnuts.

Raise your hands if you knew that 'Powder Sugar' is nothing but finely ground sugar with corn starch added...I use this when I want a filling thickened and it will not be too sweet with the spice added. Be careful though, because it also can contain whole wheat flour and other things to help its fluidity, and that is not Gluten Free!

Roll out pie crust (some use biscuit dough, pie crust is good for baking). Cut into 5 inch wide rectangular sheets, flour, and then fold over in half. Take a sheet of heavy weight paper and cut out a heart shape, and trace onto pie crust with a fold on one side. Fill with apple filling and add sprinkle of blue cheese. Bake 375 degrees- till golden brown, or drop in oil and fry if desired.

I have made the traditional half moon shapes with apricots soaked in brand with goat cheese, rum soaked peaches with cheddar cheese, and they all work wonderfully!

The picture is a little off kilter, but isn't love that way some times...