Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Asparagus Ham and Cheese Pizza Wrap


Rustic... that's the word for this.

It is a rustic version of a beautiful appetizer I saw on one of my favorite blogs to visit, Wives with Knives.  Cathy has a terrific blog, beautiful photos, inspiring recipes and she is a working foodie pro!  She has the roasted nut stand at her local Portland, Oregon Farmer's Market.  Me, I love our KC Farmer's Market and have been able to meet lots of the folks who work their stalls.  It is always fun to read those posts that give a little insight into how it all works from the other side.

A few weeks ago, Cathy made a wonderful looking appetizer, complete with a dipping sauce from thick stalks of asparagus.  She used a fancy dancy Prosciutto bacon and everything was wrapped in flaky delicate phyllo dough.  It was an elegant appetizer, fit for a dinner party!

That photo is lifted from her blog (sorry Cathy), but it has a link to her original post of Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus in crispy Phyllo Dough!

Cathy hit a ... Hmm, "that stuff is in my pantry" nerve when I saw the post.  Jackie and I were heading out on a road trip, 8 hour drive to South Dakota.  We were going to be gone for a week and I wanted to use up a few items that were in my pantry.

But I made a few changes to make mine more... rustic.

First, I am cheap.  I love Prosciutto, but I had a few slices of ham in stock.
Next, I only had thin young asparagus spears.  My favorite way to make asparagus is a simple quick sautee in oil.  Only a few minutes and they are done.  This method works best with thin stalks; which is why I had them in my fridge.
Finally, phyllo dough... HATE it.  Not the taste, not the texture, I just hate that my fat uncoordinated fingers and the delicate dough just does not get along.  I tear about half the sheets and it just makes me feel bad as a person to use it.

So I used my goto cold rise pizza dough flatbread recipe.  As you have probably read, I make pizzas at least once a week and usually more.  When I make this dough, I make 4 balls at once and it is usually always at hand in my fridge.

So, ham I needed to used before the trip... Asparagus that needed to be used... and pizza dough already made up.

Mine wasn't delicate or hors d’oeuvres quality  dish.  But it was terrific to make a dozen or so and use these as snacks while driving!


OK, I have a bunch of photos that will show you what I did.  Basically, asparagus, ham slivers, cheddar cheese and dijon mustard, wrapped in pizza dough squares, sealed with an egg wash.  I then did an egg wash on top and sprinkled some of my "Sodom and Gomorrah" Low salt substitute (equal parts course grain Sea Salt, Garlic Flakes and Black and white sesame seeds... not no salt, but it only has 1/4th of the salt I would have used).

Bake in a preheated oven on a preheated pizza stone at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.

But really, before going rustic, you ought to take a look at the elegant version of Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus in crispy Phyllo Dough!











Monday, June 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies ala Eats Well With Others


Genius... Pure genius

May be the best dessert I have had in a very long time.  Certainly my new favorite brownie recipe.  Layers of texture, layers of different chocolates... Well, I could go on, but this dessert is just as good as it sounds... better!

A quick history, one of my favorite bloggers is Joanne from the Eats Well With Others Blog.  Joanne is the total package, always a terrific read (like a dinner and a movie (well, recipe and a story) when you stop by her blog.  How on Earth she has the time as in addition to consistently restaurant quality meals, in her spare time she is also a medical student in NYC studying to save the world.  Worth the read for her stories...

And more than every so often, she gives me something like this that I just had to make...

A little bit of history for this recipe, I found it on Joanne's blog (click HERE for her post, MUCH better photos and story than you will read here).  But it originated in a new cookbook, written and photographed by a new favorite blogger, Lindsey from the Love & Olive Oil blog.  Yeap, one of us... Food blogger... One of them... Cookbook author!!!

AND WHAT A COOKBOOK!!!

The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook!  Honest, not just a cookie recipe book, but TONS of uses for this gift of the food gods (including many with my favorite, raw cookie dough (no eggs)...  Here's what Amazon.com has to say about Lindsey's book...
Food blogger Lindsay Landis has invented the perfect cookie dough. It tastes great. It’s egg free (and thus safe to eat raw). You can whip it up in minutes. And, best of all, you can use it to make dozens of delicious cookie dough creations, from cakes, custards, and pies to candies, brownies, and even granola bars. Included are recipes for indulgent breakfasts (cookie dough doughnuts!), frozen treats (cookie dough popsicles!), outrageous snacks (cookie dough wontons! cookie dough fudge! cookie dough pizza!), and more.


Now, Joanne got an advance copy of the book, as well as permission to post the recipe.  I got neither.  But I have a link to Joanne's recipe page where you can find this recipe... Click the blue letters...


But in typical inspired by tradition, I made a few tiny adjustments...

First, I upped the ante a bit by taking 1 tsp of water and mixing that with a tsp of instant coffee and adding this to brownie mixture.  I am going to guess that the tiny amount of extra liquid was enough to make my brownies more fudgy than the fudgy yet cake like texture of Joanne's brownies.  Mine lost a bit of presentation as Joanne's had equal size layers of brownie and cookie dough.  Mine had about half the size of brownie compared to the larger size of dough.

But that was more than OK, I like a fudgy brownie.
I also added some white chocolate chips to the brownie.

A) I know that there is no actual chocolate in white chocolate chips, but I like 'em... sue me.

And 2) I like the extra look of the dark chips that are in the cookie dough layer and the white chips in the dark brownie layer.

Next time I make this recipe I am going to double the brownie layer recipe so my 2 layers are equal size and look pretty.  But as I have been saying... My oh my these were good.

Last change I made was to use a darker chocolate, already infused with coffee beans.

I am a big fan of Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate infused with Arabica coffee beans and I use this brand of chocolate a lot.  Just a hint of the Earthy taste that pairs fabulously with chocolate.

But that's it... just a few changes to an already perfect recipe!

There are no eggs in the "raw" layer of cookie dough, so no need to worry about killing your family.

So, thanks Joanne, terrific introduction to a new blogger and a terrific recipe... As a reminder...
 Joanne got an advance copy of the book, as well as permission to post the recipe.  I got neither.  But I have a link to Joanne's recipe page where you can find this recipe... Click the blue letters...



Now I am heading off to buy the book!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grilled Potato Gratin ala Smoky Mountain Cafe


Greetings!!!

Do ya all remember yesterday's post... "AAARRRGGGHHHH 7 guests come for 6 Steaks"?  Well, this is my starch course for the BBQ.  I saw this post over at Katherine's blog, Smoky Mountain Cafe a few days ago and wanted to try ASAP.  Katherine and her husband AJ are the displaced Cajuns, now living in Eastern Tennessee, who made that spectacular meal for a Blogger Get together ... Cajun Crawfish Boil - Road Trip!.  As they proved that day... They have food chops!

I was intrigued at the idea of grilling gratin potatoes.  A tiny bit of learning... A Gratin is simply adding a crunchy crust to a dish.  Easy enough to do with a broiler and a few buttered bread crumbs.  But to get the same type of taste and texture on a grill caused me pause...

So, I highly recommend you take a quick jump over to Katherine's post and see what she did... Grilled Potato Gratin.

Which inspired me to make a few tiny changes and make a new very favorite unique side dish for the grill and outdoor entertaining...

 First, seasoned butter...

And whenever I use Butter, I always picture Meryl Streep as Julia Child and her near quiet orgasmic discovery of ... BUTTER!

Katherine made a garlic butter.  I went just a shade more aggressive with a garlic pepper butter.

I am blessed with a pretty healthy crop of peppers this year.  I planted everything from mild Bell Peppers to almost painfully HOT Thai Chili Peppers.  My current very favorite are Banana Peppers.  I have two plants growing, one a sweet banana pepper and the other a spicy BP.

For this recipe, I took one of each, minced them and added these to the garlic paste and spices that Katherine recommended.

I also made a more major change to the the original recipe... CHEESE!

More specifically, freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano Cheese.  I assumed that in between the layers of the potatoes, the basting butter would melt the Parm.  What was on top would brown and crust.  It did.

And finally, I made up a spiced pepper mix to season the dish.  A little red chili flake, Black and white pepper, Sea Salt and some lemon zest (I am trying to cut back on salt.  My solution, more spices and just a little bit of salt).

And from there, I pretty much followed Katherine's recipe...

I par-boiled the potato slices... 3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (thick sliced) for 8 minutes to soften them up without cooking them completely through.

I set up my grill for indirect heating (Flames on the side, not directly under the pan).  I used my grill pan (pan with holes in it).

And I started layering...

Layer of potatoes, topped with generous brushes of the pepper/garlic butter, topped with some grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, topped with a sprinkle of the spices.

Followed by another layer of everything...

Followed by another... and another

I closed the lid and converted my grill into an oven.  About every 10 minutes I brushed on some more of the pepper/garlic butter.

Everything worked as it should.  I made the steaks.  During the "resting" time for the steaks, I moved the potatoes to direct grilling (under the flames).  The dripping butter caused the flames to flair up, crisping up (gratin) the bottom, adding the texture of the gratin to the potatoes.  Layers of crispy potatoes, and soft "baked" potatoes.

This was a HIUGE success!  Everyone raved, lots of flavors, lots of textures and just as delicious as you can imagine!  Highly recommended!

Thanks Katherine





Thursday, June 14, 2012

AAARRRGGGHHHH 7 guests come for 6 Steaks


When life gives you lemons, make a sliced rib eye with blue cheese sauteed onions...

Funny story...


Well, more amusing than funny... Actually, at the time, not really all that amusing.  Go ahead and count the people (and add one, I took the photo).  Yeap, as advertised in the title, 7 people dropped by on a night I had 6 steaks.

Now, the vast majority of times, not a problem.  We have a very open door policy and everyone is invited.  I love leftovers, so I always make plenty.  And everyone knows this.  SO when a neighbor who was already planning to come for dinner suddenly had an extra guest in her home, it was assumed (and rightfully so), bringing an extra guest to our back yard would not be a problem.

But the math got tricky.  This night I was planning 6 guests would be eating 6 gorgeous rib-eyes.

So... Here's what I did...

I was planning to serve these with a blue cheese sauce.  I did a quick mental inventory of my pantry... Pondered for a bit and came up with

Sauteed Onions in butter (works great on a grill).
Instead of a blue cheese sauce on the side, I mixed in the blue cheese with the onions.
Then i took the six steaks off the grill and started slicing... Against the grain so they would be more tender.  I had one eater who preferred her steak medium well.  I made sure her slices were from the edges.  In fact, she made it extra easy by not liking onions or blue cheese.  I checked with everyone else and they were excited about the dish.

So, stretching 6 steaks to feed 7 people worked FANTASTIC!  Served them up with some grilled gratin potatoes (come back tomorrow for that post) and some grilled corn with MINT Butter!  We had plenty for all, everyone was THRILLED


And now the good news...

LEFTOVERS!  It's an amazing thing, give someone a steak and they eat it all (no leftovers).  Cut the steak in strips, add onions and blue cheese, toss in a bowl, pass the bowl and I had enough leftovers for a...


Steak/Onion/Blue Cheese Stromboli!


Which, if you want to hear about you will need to come visit today's post on my sister blog, Year on the Grill for those tasty details!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Honey Bourbon Sriracha Sauced Fried Grilled Chicken Wings


Ah... The illusive "Perfect" Chicken Wing...  So many options for toppings, so many options for styles of cooking (fried, baked, grilled... I even read a blogger's "perfect wing" recipe that was microwaved... but I digress).

I have to admit I am a chicken wing addict.  When the perfect balance of heat spices and sweet sauces combine with sticky and crispy texture, I am in heaven.  I could eat em by the dozens.

The quest for perfection will be a never ending journey I suspect.  But what a ride.  For me, right now, at this point in my life, these are my current version of the perfect chicken wing...

Heat from the gift of the food gods, Sriracha Sauce
Sweet from Honey
An Earthy bite from the Bourbon.

Fried with a simple thin layer of breading to insure juicy chicken
Grilled to achieve a crispy texture while still maintaining that glorious gooey wet sauce!

To quote Ira Gershwin... Who could ask for anything more???

 First thing I did was to flour the wings.  Flour only, no egg.

Simple enough...
Big plastic bag
Big scoop of flour
Big scoop (about 1/3rd cup) of my ubiquitous salt substitute, SODOM and GOMORRAH (equal parts Course grain Salt, Garlic Flakes and Black and white Sesame Seeds)

Add chicken, shake.

 Next I fried em.

Canola Oil works best, higher burn temperature.  Peanut oil is also a great option.  I was most of the way through the process when I realized I was low on oil.  SO I made these in a small sauce pan with just enough oil to cover the wings (about half way up the side).  So I worked in batches.

Heat the oil to 360 degrees.
Cook ONLY for 6 minutes.  Just long enough to insure they are cooked through.  If you have unusually large drumettes, add a minute.  If you are cooking the smaller wing portion, knock it down to only 5 minutes.  but 6 minutes is the general rule of thumb.

 While these are cooking, make up your sauce...

1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Whiskey (Bourbon if it comes from Kentucky)
Sriracha hot sauce to taste (I used 1 TBS).  Add more if you like them HOT... less if you want a hint of heat.
1 TBS Ground Ginger

Whisk until well combined.  Go ahead and taste test.  add more sriracha if you like, more honey if you added too much.


 Time to sauce the wings.

Dip and coat well.  At this stage, you could simply serve as is.  Most of the time when you order wings at a bar this is how they are served, fried and then sauced.

Me... I add an extra step... Grilling the already cooked wings to add an extra texture... crispy patches of skin and heating up the sauce.







Serve em while they are hot and wish you made more, they will go quick!

FMP