Sunday, September 23, 2012

Low Country Boil

Last night we hosted our annual, okay it's only the second time we've done it, end of the summer low country boil. For those of you who are not from the south or have not lived here, a low country boil is a one pot wonder!

A bit of back story if you will. Once called Frogmore Stew, this one-pot wonder was created by a National Guardsman when he needed to cook a meal for 100 soldiers. Richard Gay, who learned the recipe from his family, had everyone remembering his stew. The dish was later named Frogmore, where Richard was from, by the guards who teased him about home. The postal service eliminated the name Frogmore, which changed this popular dish to Low Country boil.

Here's the setting for our party. Lovely, isn't it?

Start with a large pot.

Fill about half full of water. Throw in some lemon halves and crab and shrimp boil seasoning. Bring to a boil.

Add the rest of the ingredients, being careful to follow the timing in the recipe.

It's almost finished!

 Dump it on paper bags and dig in!

I didn't get a photo of the table after everyone helped themselves, I can tell you that there were three lonely shrimp left!

The morning after! This was just some of the empties!!
Thank goodness tomorrow is recycle day!

Low Country Boil

5 quarts water
3 or 4 lemons, cut in half
1 (3-ounce) bag of crab boil seasoning
4 pounds small red potatoes
2 pounds kielbasa or hot smoked link sausage, cut into 1½-inch pieces
6 ears of corn, halved (I used frozen.)
4 pounds large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined optional
Cocktail sauce

Add potatoes to large pot, then add 5 quarts water and seasonings. Cover pot and heat to a rolling boil; cook 20 minutes. Add sausage; cook 10 minutes. Add corn, and and cook 7 minutes.
Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with cocktail sauce.

Serves 12

I also made corn muffins and had brownies and key lime tartlets for dessert.

What an easy way to through a party! There is very little work and clean up is a breeze. I actually got to visit with our guests instead of being stuck in the kitchen. Now that's my kind of party!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Wedding Weekend

It has been a while since I last posted, but we have had a busy couple of months. Our son, Jack, married last weekend and we had lots of wedding things to do. It was an incredible weekend and I want to share some photos marking the occasion. I hope you will indulge me.

Most of the 60 bags for our out of town guests.

Mother of the Groom dinner at Vic's on the River with my sister, Veeta and niece, Catherine.

Luncheon for Courtney and her bridesmaids at The Old Pink House.

Courtney and her mom, Dawn. Beautiful ladies!

Here's the only picture of food I took all weekend long! Of course it had to be dessert!

Rehearsal at the Chapel.

More rehearsing, with the proxy bride, Mary Claire.

                                                        Jack and Courtney

Rehearsal dinner at
10 Downing.

Courtney's borther, Chase and Chance.

The last family of
three picture.

I have the ring somewhere!

Jack and his dad, his best man.

Courtney is on the other side of the door.

Jack, Courtney, Dawn and Bruce, Courtney's parents.

Headed to the beach for photos.
The brides cake.

The grooms cake.

                                                                           Captian and Mrs. Jack Carr        

Their sweet ride!

And off they go!

Aruba, here they come!

It was a year in planning and over in such a short time, however the memories made will last a lifetime.

Congratulations Jack and Courtney! Welcome to the family!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Birthdays and Red Velvet Cake

Last Monday was the hubby's birthday (the son, Jack's birthday was the day before) so I decided that I would make a Red Velvet Cake to mark the occasion. Here is where I post the disclaimer...cakes that require icing, other than sheet cakes, are almost guaranteed to not resemble a cake when I am finished with them. My grandmother, mother, and favorite aunt were great cake bakers and icers, but unfortunately I did not inherit that gene!

I used a recipe that was from a Viking Class I taught. You might be wondering how I taught a class about cakes and can't ice them worth a flip. Easy, I didn't have to ice the cakes, the students did! I only had to talk them  through it and believe me I'm good at that!

Here's what the recipe looks like when I teach a class. I make lots of notes and highlight stuff. There is a second page to it, but I won't bore you with it.

I gathered all of my ingredients.

And went to work. I bundled all of the inbetween pictures together to speed things along.

And wahlah, the finished product.

See what I mean? I just can't ice a cake! Oh well, it tasted great and that's all that mattered!

Happy Birthday, Reg!

Oh, and I am more that happy to share the recipe. Just drop me a line.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cooking and Teaching Like Crazy

Oh my goodness!! What a crazy last couple of months it has been! How can it be July already??? 

May and June were really busy months for me. I started cooking for a new client, who is trying a vegan diet, and it has been interesting. For the most part I am preparing vegetarian meals for her, but I have been trying my hand with some true vegan recipes. I love learning new things about foods and cooking!

Teaching at Viking was pretty non-stop as well. Between the six-week Viking Unitversity series, Kid's Camp and regular glasses, I spent a great deal of time in the teaching kitchen.

Let me tell you about the Viking University series. It is designed to teach specific skills each week to the same group of students. Week One was knife skills and I am proud to report that no one cut themselves! Week Two was Stock, Soups and Sauces. Week Three: Roasting and Baking. Week Four: Sauteing, Frying and Stir-Frying. Week Five: Grilling and Broiling. Week Six: Braising, Boiling, Poaching and Steaming. By week two the class had come together like they had known each other for years.  We laughed and traded stories for the next five weeks. What a great class, and so much fun! I looked forward to seeing them on Thursday mornings. They presented me with a beautiful bouquest of flowers during our last class. Imagine my surprise! And from what I heard from the Viking staff, this was a first.

Here's a picture of the group.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Happy Couple

So, this has nothing to do with food or cooking, but I wanted to blog about the happy couple anyway!  Here is the picture (well, one of many) I took of them a couple of weeks ago when they home for a weekend of engagement parties.

See that handsome young man? That's my son, Jack. And that very pretty young woman beside him is his fiance, Courtney. They  have known each other for almost eleven years, having met at freshman orientation at the university they attended. They were friends throughout college, but never dated. Upon graduation they went their separate ways, Jack ultimately in the Army and Courtney to Seattle where she is a mechanical engineer for Boeing. In October of 2010, Jack was in Seattle with some of his Army friends and called Courtney. They spent one day together before he had to head back to Ft. Bragg, NC. He returned to Seattle one month later and well, as they say, the rest is history!

They have endured not only the separation of the miles across the United States, but a ten month separation while Jack was deployed to the Middle East. Jack proposed to Courtney in July of 2011 while on home leave. What an exciting time!

Never doing anything easy, they are still on opposite coasts planning their wedding. They will be married on September 8 of this year at the Wedding Chapel on Tybee Island, Georgia, near the beautiful city of Savannah.

What a fun it's going to be!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bully's Brownies

My hubby's grandmother, Veronica Boquel, was called Bully by her grandchildren, not because she was, well, a bully, but because she was born under the astrological sign of Taurus and wore a bull on her charm bracelet. His grandfather, Pierre, went by Happy Days, which had to do with martini's, but that's a story for another day. I did not know Bully, having only seen her twice before she passed away.

I acquired her recipe for brownies through one of my six sisters-in-law in 1993. The recipe came from a 1950 issue of Family Circle. It's quick and simple and good!

Bully's Brownies

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 -1 ounce cakes unsweetened chocolate, melted.
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flower
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease a 11x7x1 1/2" pan

Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored; add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy

Stir in vanilla, melted chocolate and butter

Fold in flour, salt, and 3/4 cups nuts; stir just until blended.

Pour batter into pan - sprinkle nuts on top

Bake 20 minutes, or until top is firm.

Cool 5 minutes. Cut and remove at once.

I made a few changes to the recipe. Instead of two eggs I used four egg whites (I used the yolk in an ice cream base earlier). I hand whipped the whites until they were thick and then added the sugar.  I used four tablespoons of cocoa powder instead of the chocolate cakes. I stirred the cocoa into the melted butter and then added it to the egg whites. I also let it cook 3 minutes longer.I let the brownies cool completely in the pan before cutting and removing them.

The outcome was a very nice light, but rich brownie, albeit thinner than I am used to.

The hubby gives them a big thumbs up!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My New Compost Bin

Last weekend I convinced the hubby to finally build a new compost bin. The old one was rather unsightly and I was always concerned what my back yard neighbors view of it was. I always want to be a good neighbor and I certainly didn't want to get a nasty letter from our homeowners association about it's unsightliness!

Here's how it turned out.

And here's the hubby loading it up.

And here's what the compost looked like.

And here was a visitor we found.

And this is our Koi pond.

Think I'll go and make the hubby and me a bite of lunch and we can enjoy it outside by the pond.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 27, 2012

3rd Annual Brown Bag Challenge

Yesterday the staff of the R. Kirk Landon Child Learning Center participated in the 3rd Annual Brown Bag Challenge. As always, they were up to the task of preparing a dish from the ingredients they found in the brown bag. The challenge for me was to insure that the dish could be prepared within 45 minutes with little or no cooking.

Here is what each group prepared.

Upper left: Chocolate cover strawberry cookie bites
Middle Left: Apple, feta, walnut, and cranberries lettuce bites
Lower Left: Apricot drizzled Camembert with toasted baguette slices
Upper right: Inside out BLT's
Lover right: Hummus and Greek yogurt cucumber bites

I am always intrigued and wonderfully surprised by what the teams come up with.Two of the five were close to what I had in mind when I put the bags together. From the other three teams, I have learned a few new tricks!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Poached Shrimp Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing

Saturday morning I sat enjoying a cup of coffee while reading the Food section of the WSJ. Each week they showcase a chef and recipe. This week is was Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's restaurants in Charleston, SC. The recipe featured was Butter-Braised Asparagus with Shrimp and Lemon Hollandaise Sauce. Since I love every ingredient in the recipe I knew it was a keeper, so I tore it out. I figured I'd get around to it later in the week.

Sunday I noticed that my local grocer that they had shrimp on sale. Since I needed a pound for my Monday client and I really didn't know what I was going to prepare for The Reg and my dinner, I got a pound for us . I decided that I would use the poaching liquid recipe from the WSJ recipe and make a salad with a bag of spring greens I had in the refrigerator.

I didn't have the four lemons the recipe called for, but the two I did have gave the poaching liquid plenty of citrus. I added the optional mustard and celery seeds which made for a well balanced flavor profile.

For the Creamy Lemon Dressing I used canola mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, salt and a pinch of oregano, basil, and lemon pepper. I didn't use specific amounts, just made it until it was the amount, consistency and flavor I wanted. It was delightful!

I piled the spring greens on a plate, added some sliced Easter Egg radishes and the shrimp and drizzled on the dressing. I added a couple of slices of feta crostini to complete the plate.

Yes, I will prepare the recipe the way Chef Brock meant for it to be prepared, but this made for a nice meal on a lazy Sunday evening!

Friday, April 13, 2012

No-Recipe Meal

My last post was about the need to read a recipe in its entirety. Today's post is about cooking without a recipe. 

Yesterday afternoon after I had baked meatballs for company this weekend and had gotten the base for chocolate ice cream made, I turned my attention to a more immediate subject...supper for Reg and me. Having had two client cook days this week, I knew that I had a few vegetables left that needed to be used so I opted to do construct a grilled veggie and quinoa meal. I did prepare the quinoa per the package instructions, but for the rest of the meal I just winged it.

Here's what I had. A partial piece of yellow bell pepper, a whole red bell pepper, asparagus, one eggplant, kale, and some grape tomatoes.

I prepared the quinoa using the leftover vegetable stock and proceeded to prep the vegetables. I cut them up into chunks, expect the tomatoes, drizzled them with a little olive oil and seasoned them with marjoram and a little salt and pepper.

I cranked up the grill to high and do it would get nice and hot. Since I had fresh corn on the cob to use as well, I threw those on first, husk and all. The corn had roasted about ten minutes when I put the rest of the vegetables in a grill pan and got them on the fire.

Notice how nicely the corn is roasting? I love to cook my corn this way. I can't even remember the last time I boiled corn in a pot. This is SO much better!

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I cut the kale off the stems and rough chopped it. I threw it in a hot pan with just a little olive oil and cooked it down to a tender crisp texture. Once cooked, I added it to my prepared quinoa. I found a few Mediterranean olives in the recesses of my refrigerator so I chopped them and added them to the mix. To give it a pop, I added the juice of a lemon. Wow! What a difference that made!

It only took about ten more minutes for my corn to finish cooking and the vegetables to get done. Here's what I had after I finished my "No Recipe Meal."


 Reg, aka The Husband, commented on the nice differences in textures and flavors. I told him that I didn't want it to be "one note" and it appeared that I had succeeded. I think I have been watching too many episodes of Chopped!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Always Read the Entire Recipe!

When teaching classes at Viking, I always stress the importance of reading the entire recipe, not just the ingredients list, prior to starting to cook. Unfortunately I did not follow my own instructions yesterday while selecting recipes  for a client.

I am always on the look out for new recipes for my clients, especially my weekly client. I want to keep their menu fresh and exciting, so when I found a recipe for Baked Chicken Kiev on Pinterest I was excited.

I arrived at my client's home with my recipes and game plan in hand. Everything was cooking along just fine until I got to this recipe and read beyond the ingredients! Oy!! The directions had a compound butter being made and frozen, chicken being pounded, prepared butter being placed on the pounded chicken and refrigerated for two hours. Well obviously I didn't have that kind of time so I made some changes to the directions.

Here's the recipe as I found it on Pinterest, with the changes I made in red type.

Baked Chicken Kiev
recipe adapted from Alton Brown

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled for the coating
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder, plus extra for seasoning chicken
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning chicken
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 large whole eggs, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
2 cups Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine butter, parsley, tarragon, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip together. Place mixture on plastic wrap or waxed paper and roll into small log; place in freezer.

Cut butter into pieces. Chop herbs and combine with seasonings.

Place chicken breasts, 1 at a time, between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Squirt chicken lightly with water and squirt the top of the plastic wrap as well. Pound to no less than 1/8-inch thickness. Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper.

Cut a pocket into each chicken breast.

Lay 1 chicken breast on a new piece of plastic wrap and place 1/5 of the compound butter and 1 tablespoon bread crumbs in the center of each breast. Using the plastic wrap to assist, fold in ends of breast and roll breast into a log, completely enclosing the butter; roll very tightly. Repeat with each breast. Place chicken in refrigerator for 2 hours, or up to overnight. Wrap up the remaining 1/5 of the compound butter to use for the breading.

Place butter pieces into pockets and sprinkle with herbs and seasonings.

Place egg and water mixture in 1 pie pan. Melt the remaining 1/5 of the compound butter and add it to the 2 cups panko and Parmesan cheese in a different pie pan. Stir the butter with the panko and cheese to fully combine.

Dip each breast in the egg mixture and then roll in the buttered panko. Gently place each breast on a baking sheet, sealed-side down, and bake in 350 degree oven until golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Serve hot.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Here is a photo of how my version turned out. Not too bad!

Baked Chicken Kiev
Lesson learned...always read the entire recipe!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

According to Alton Brown...Serious Vanilla Ice Cream

I admit it. I love ice cream. It is my guilty pleasure, well one of many, but I am happy with a bowl of ice cream.

Growing up, my dad always had a bowl of ice cream after supper. He'd dish it up and sit a the kitchen table to enjoy it. I didn't always join him...I had to keep an eye on my figure and too much ice cream didn't make that an easy task.We were a vanilla kind of family, but there was always a topping or two in the refrigerator if we wanted to dress it up.

Last year I bought a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and have enjoyed making different flavors, but vanilla is still my favorite. Here is a recipe I think is good. It came from Alton Brown, and you know anything of his just has to be great.

Serious Vanilla Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart

2 cups half & half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons peach preserves (not jelly)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Attach a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the hull of the vanilla beans, pour mixture into a lidded container and refrigerate overnight to mellow flavors and texture.

Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit's instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Once the volume has increase by 1/2 to 3/4 times, and reaches a soft serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.

NOTE: If you do not have a thermometer, bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see a bubble hit the surface, remove it from the heat. Do not let it boil.

I made the base early in the morning and refrigerated it about 8 hours before churning it. I also gave it about three hours in my freezer and it was still pretty soft. We ate it anyway!!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kale and Apple Quinoa Salad

As the weather warms up, I am always looking for recipes that don't require a great deal of heating up my kitchen to prepare. I love eating salads in the warm weather and just last night found a new one to add to my arsenal, Kale and Apple Quinoa Salad. It's great served warm or at room temperature and since it does not have a dressing on it that will spoil, it is perfect for a picnic.

I found this recipe in a handout that I picked up from our local Fresh Market.

Kale and Apple Quinoa Salad

Serves 4-6

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup kale leaves, stems removed, rough chopped
2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 cup apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 lemon, juiced
 Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cool for another 1-2 minutes. Add kale and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until kale softens and turns bright green. Remove from heat.

Toss onion-kale mixture with the cooked quinoa and add all remaining ingredients.

I did add a little more kale than it called for and used an entire apple. I also bumped up the pecans and cranberries because I really like them!

What is a favorite salad of yours?