Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Bacon Latice Blanket

A certain turkey basting technique has been popping up in magazines and on the Internet and Lovey and I both have come across it lately.  Bacon is woven into a lattice-work 'blanket' then draped over the breast of the turkey. I made a rather tiny one since we had a small roasting chicken.  I used a high quality, thick-sliced smoked bacon.  The bacon we selected was very short slices but it worked for our chicken. Using normal sized slices will make your blanket larger for a turkey

I decided to try this new-to-me technique. 

Start by covering a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Begin 'weaving' by placing about 7 to 8 slices of bacon horizontally, sides touching, on the parchment paper.  

Starting with the top slice, from the left side fold the top slice back half way. Repeat with every other piece of bacon.  Now, lay a piece of bacon vertically against the left edge of the horizontal pieces.  Fold the horizontal pieces back over the vertical piece.  

Now, beginning with the horizontal second from the top, fold that back from the right edge over to the left.  Repeat this with every other horizontal piece under that slice. Place a vertical slice up against the first vertical slice.  Fold the horizontal pieces back over into their normal position.

Repeat this beginning with turning the top horizontal slice from right to left, and repeat with every other slice.  Tuck a vertical piece up against the previous slice, then fold the horizontal slices back to their normal position.

Repeat this process until you have a tightly woven blanket.

This is how our little blanket turned out.

I have also used it as a top to a quiche.  I baked the "blanket" before placing it on top of the quiche.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Peach Bourbon Upside Down Cake

Lovey likes to go through my magazines as they arrive and select a dessert for me to try.  This turned out to be a nice cake and a way to use some peaches I had that needed to be used before they went bad on me.

Like any upside down cake the fruit is placed in the bottom of the pan with a butter/sugar mixture then the batter is poured on top.  This is how the fruit looks when first turned out of the pan.

It's a dense cake, almost like a pound cake, so the light glaze was a nice compliment. 


 We ate most of it as a breakfast cake.

Peach Bourbon Upside Down Cake
From June 2018 issue of Southern Living
Serves 12

1-3/4 cups butter, softened, divided
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
4 peaches, peeled and cut into 4 slices
1 - 8 ounce pkg cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) bourbon
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a small saucepan over medium, stir in 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Pour mixture evenly into a 15-cup (10-1/2 inch) Bundt pan that has been heavily greased with cooking spray. Place peach slices in an even layer on top of brown sugar mixture.

Beat cream cheese and remaining 1-1/2 cups butter with a heavy-duty stand mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add granulated sugar and remaining 1-1/2 cups  brown sugar, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yolk disappears. Beat in 1 tsp. of the vanilla.

Sift together flour and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with bourbon, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter carefully over peaches in prepared pan; level with a spatula.

Bake in preheated oven until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 1 hour and 25 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack until pan is cool enough to handle but still hot, about 25 minutes. Remove cake from pan to rack, and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Stir together confectioner's sugar, remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. of the milk in a small bowl, adding remaining 1 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp at a time, if needed to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Party Potato Salad

I love this potato salad.  It's what I've eaten all my life; my mom always made it like this.  I only make it for parties and celebrations though.  This recipe will feed 15 - 20 people. This is always good for those holidays that call for picnic fare.  This upcoming Labor Day will probably be the last time I make this for the year.

The first thing you want to do is get your eggs and potatoes cooking.   They need to cool before you mix everything together so get these done first.

I cut the potatoes into cubes that are roughly 1 inch.  Carefully drop them in boiling water that has been salted with a good Tbsp. of salt.  You want your potatoes to come out mildly salted.

Once the water returns to a boil, lower heat and simmer until they are just fork tender. Start checking them after about 7 minutes and often after that. You don't want them to turn to mush.

Drain in a large colander.  I like to, lightly and politely, spray the drained potatoes with cold water.  Don't let the water come out of the sprayer at full force; your potatoes are tender now and you want them to retain their shape.  Let them stay in the colander to completely cool off.

Once your eggs are done, drain and re-fill pan with cold water and make an ice bath.

While the potatoes and eggs are cooking and cooling, dice up the rest of your ingredients.  I use Claussen Kosher Dills; the best in my opinion.  You will find these refrigerated, not shelved on the inside aisles.  I always buy the Sandwich Slices.  They are always ready to go on a burger or sandwich and when you use them in a recipe they're ready to be diced up.

My dice are between 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

Same with your red onion; dice between 1/4 and 1/2 inch.

Using the egg slicer is the quickest way to get these diced up.  Then you can take the knife to them to chop them up a little more.  It's a good practice, in salad or soups, to try to have all of your components close to the same size.

Pour your potatoes into a large bowl and add the pickles, onions and egg.

These will be adding the moisture to your salad.  When you add your moisture, start with the amounts recommended in the recipe and if you like more mayo, add it.  Or, if you like a little bit more of a bite from the mustard, add a little more.

Your hands are your best tools to mix up your potato salad without making mincemeat of your tender potatoes.  I always wear these.  These are my best friends.  You can scoop down and get big handfuls and gently fold everything in.  I simply can't do without these in my kitchen.

Cover your serving bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator over night.  It is important to have your salad cooled before wrapping it up, otherwise you'll get condensation dripping into your salad.

Party Potato Salad

1 dozen eggs
5 pounds russet potatoes

1 red onion, medium sized
1 - 12 ounce jar Claussen Kosher Dills - Sandwich Slices
1/2 cup pickle juice
1/2 cup Hellmann's or Best Foods Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. classic yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil, cool and peel eggs.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 to 1-1/2" pieces.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the potatoes.  When water returns to a boil reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender.  Check after 7 minutes for doneness.  You don't want the potatoes to become mushy. Drain the potatoes into a large colander and lightly rinse with cold water.

As the potatoes are cooling chop eggs, onion and pickles into 1/4" to 1/2" dice. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl combine the pickle juice, Hellmann's and mustard.

When potatoes are cooled, place in a large mixing bowl and gently fold in the onion, pickles and eggs until just combined.  Preferably with your hands, gently mix in your mayonnaise mixture.  Make any additions (mayonnaise, pickle juice, mustard) to your liking and salt and pepper to taste.  

When the potato salad is completely cooled, cover with plastice wrap and refrigerate until very cold. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Cleaning Up an Old Le Creuset Dutch Oven

I found this little gem at an estate sale.  It's an older 1 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven.  You can tell it is older by the handle on the lid. 

Newer lids have the black handle

The older Dutch ovens were marked on the bottom of the pots and the undersides of the lids as to what size they were.  "A" indicates this is a 1 quart.

 I bought it for only $11 but it was really nasty on the inside.  Nasty dirty, but there were no huge chunks out of the bottom. Since it was so cheap I thought I'd buy it and try to get it back to a usable state.

First order of business was getting off the "old nasty". I soaked it in hot sudsy water; I use Dawn dish washing soap.

Then gave it a good scrub. This is a good scrub pad to use on your enameled cast iron.  You don't want to use an SOS - type product or abrasive cleaners.

This was the next step.  I poured several inches of Hydrogen Peroxide into the pot and 1 Tbsp. of baking soda.  

I brought it to a boil then lowered the heat, put the lid on and simmered for 15 minutes.  I let the mixture cool down and then used the Dobie pad to really scrub the inside.  I used a good amount of elbow grease on the grimey parts.

This is how it turned out.  Not bad.  Got the sticky gunk out of it but it still was not as clean as I would want in order for me to cook in it.

 The final step was a good soak in OxiClean.

Four cups water and a half scoop of the powder (scoop comes with the OxiClean) .  Stir around every once in a while to dissolve and let sit for about 6 hours on the counter top.

After one more cleaning in hot sudsy water here is what I have!  All ready to use! Now there is no reason to spend $140.00 on a new one (smiling to myself)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite dishes to order from a good Italian menu. Southern Living provides a great recipe for this classic chicken-lemon-caper dish.  This is an excellent recipe for Veal Piccata as well.

When I can't find thinner-cut breast cutlets, I halve a chicken breast half to make a thinner cutlet. Pound the chicken breast cutlets between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  Pound to a thickness of 1/4 inch

Prepare the flour, seasoning with the salt and pepper, and lightly beating an white for dredging

Squeeze your lemon juice. This is the primary flavor and ingredient in the sauce.

You will also need some thinly sliced lemon rounds.

Chicken Piccata is not Chicken Piccata without these briny little flower buds.  I love capers and I prefer the smaller-sized ones. 

Measure your oil and butter for cooking the chicken, as well as butter for the sauce.

Roughly chop the parsley for the sauce.
After dredging in the egg white and flour, brown the chicken, two cutlets at a time. Once the first two cutlets are done, transfer to a plate and wipe the skillet clean. Repeat with the 2 more Tbsp. butter and the remaining olive oil and remaining 2 cutlets.

Transfer the final two cutlets to the holding plate.  After the last two cutlets, don't wipe out the skillet.

Add the chicken broth, lemon juice and capers to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat.  Scrape up the fond on the bottom of the skillet. Add the lemon slices to the sauce. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Whisk in parsley.

Spoon sauce over chicken, and serve immediately. I served the chicken with pasta and spinach soufflé

Chicken Piccata
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine
Serves 4 

4 (5 to 6 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (or 2 breast halves, sliced to make 2 thinner cutlets)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsps. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
6 Tbsp. salted butter, divided
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. brined capers, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Mise en Place:
  • flatten chicken cutlets
  • prepare flour seasoned with the salt & pepper and egg white in dredging dishes
  • measure butter and olive oil for divided uses
  • measure chicken broth
  • squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • slice some thin slices of lemon
  • drain and rinse capers
  • chop parsley
Place each chicken cutlet between two sheets of plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.  Dip each cutlet in the egg white and dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 cutlets and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate. Wipe skillet clean and repeat process with 2 Tbsp. butter and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and remaining 2 cutlets.  Move the cutlets to the holding plate. discard drippings but do not wipe skillet clean.

Add chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers to skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring and scraping bottom of skillet to loosen the browned bits (fond). add thin lemon slices. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes.  Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Whisk in parsley. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve immediately with pasta. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Strawberry Ice Cream

This may be the best strawberry ice cream I have ever tasted.  Pulled it from the current June 2018 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Start it the night before you want to make it.

 Clean and halve a pound of fresh strawberries and put them in a blender or a food processor along with lemon juice and sugar.  Process until nice and smooth.

Press the purée through a fine sieve.  You should get around 1-1/2 cups of purée.

Bring the milk, cream, corn syrup, and sugar to a boil and simmer.

Cool the cream mixture in an ice bath until cool.

Once the cream mixture is cool, add the strawberry purée.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Roughly chop the 8 ounces of strawberries and add to a mixture of vodka and sugar.  Cover and allow to macerate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next morning, process in your ice cream maker according to directions. When the ice cream gets to a soft serve stage, drain the reserved strawberries and add to the ice cream.  Use the drained vodka for another use (like a cocktail).

 Spoon ice cream into a bread pan and refrigerate.

 Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes 1-1/2 quarts
From the June 2018 issue of Martha Stewart Living

Fresh strawberries - 1 lb. plus 8 ounces more; 
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for macerating
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup vodka

Mise en place:
  • Clean and hull the pound of strawberries and cut in half
  • clean and coarsely chop 8 ounces of strawberries
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • measure out all other ingredients
In a blender or food processor, purée  the halved strawberries with lemon juice and salt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve (you should have 1-1/2 cups of purée; reserve any excess for another use).

Combine milk, cream, 2/3 cups sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes. Strain mixture into a bowl, set the bowl in an ice bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold. Stir in strawberry purée. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vodka.  Add chopped strawberries and macerate, covered overnight in the refrigerator.

Process the purée mixture in your ice cream maker according to the directions.  When the ice cream is at the soft serve stage (towards the end of processing), drain the chopped strawberries and add the berries to the ice cream.  Save the liquid from the macerating strawberries for another use; most likely for a cocktail 😀

Transfer the ice cream to a loaf pan and freeze, wrapped in plastic, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.