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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cooking Tips

I was organizing recipes for the new cook book (which at this point may take a while!) and ran across some good ideas that I want to share.

Melting chocolate – There are many ways to do this.  I have used all of them at one time or another.  My favorite is over simmering water.  However, you must not let the water boil or touch the bottom of the bowl or pan that holds the chocolate.  If you do - game over!  Likewise if you use a microwave you HAVE to watch very closely or you WILL burn the chocolate.  If you want to use a microwave then use this method.  Make sure the chocolate is in a glass container and that you have a way to remove it safely.  DO NOT use full power – I use 70% power for short bursts.  No more than 20 seconds.  Stir after every cycle.  It is far better to remove the chocolate and stir it as it melts than end up with scorched and nasty chocolate!

Knives – a sharp knife is safer than a dull one.  Learn how to use steel and hone your knives EVERY day.  If you do not have a sharpener – get a good one and learn how to use it.  Or take your knives to be professional sharpened.

Spices have expiration dates!  They may not be listed but as a general rule of thumb two years is average.  If you have spices that are more than three years old they most likely are not as potent as you want.  Toss them out and get new ones.

Oils – Olive Oil is best when kept in a dark bottle or stainless steel container that keeps light and air out.  It will go rancid. Other oils react to light too as does butter.  Better storage = better results.

Flour – to avoid issues such as bugs and other nasty outcomes I keep my bulk flour in the freezer.  I only keep a small amount on the counter for quick use.  I also keep my instant yeast in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.

When you bake bread – if you want a crisp crust spray the bread in the pan and the oven with water. Steam makes for a great crust!

These are just a few of the great things I have learned over the years  - I hope at least one helps you!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A New Way to Seprate Egg Yolks

The Video is in Japanese but you will get the idea.  It is remarkable and does work.


 http://bbs.wenxuecity.com/cooking/1160651.html

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seasonal food and canning

It is getting to be that time when many think about trying to save some of this years summer bounty. Home Canning is a great way to save money and create your own brand of food.  However there are some things you have to do.  Here is a great link that will help.

http://www.foodsaving.com/canning_guide/

Take some time and preserve and/or freeze some of the great food available now.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My apologizes for lack of posts!

I want to apologize for the lack of posts.  Unfortunately, I had a bad computer virus that interrupted my life.  Back to normal now and I will resume regular posting. To make up for the lack here is a great Brunch Menu with the recipes.  This is from An Easter Brunch that I did earlier this year.


SPINACH QUICHE -   © 2010 Wes Davis all rights reserved

INGREDIENTS:

2 9 inch prepared pie shell – can be frozen – thaw before use
1 lb of spinach – frozen – thawed and drained of excess moisture
1 lb cheddar cheese – grated
1 lb bacon
1 cup of diced onion
8 eggs
½ cup of half and half
Salt & pepper to taste


Method – cook bacon until crisp but not burned.  Drain on paper towels.

Defrost spinach and place in paper towels. – twist to force as much water  as possible.  Put in bowl of food processor and pulse two or three times to break up.  Put bacon and onion in the food processor and pulse with the spinach until mixed.   Empty into a large bowl and add shredded cheese.  Mix to combine.  Divide between pie shells using a measuring cup.  Fill shells 2/3 of the way full.

Break eggs and whip until light. Add the half and half  and whisk until combined.  Divide between the pie shells filling up just below the rim.  If the level is not quite where you want it you can add some more egg mixture.

Place the pies on a baking sheet and bake at 375 for 45 minutes to one hour. Center should be set and not runny. Do not overcook.


DIRTY FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE © Wes Davis 2011 – all rights reserved

1 loaf of day old French bread or Italian cut in thick slices cut in half
6 eggs
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup of milk
1 cup of brown sugar packed
1 cup of raisins
1 /2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans.

Preheat oven to 375

Break the eggs in a large bowl and add the Cinnamon, Sugar and Vanilla.  Whisk to combine and then add the milk.

Combine the brown sugar, raisins and nuts in bowl. Set aside

Take the slices of bread and dip into the mixture and then layer in a buttered casserole dish by placing the crust up.  As soon as you have one layer sprinkle some of the sugar mixture over it and then start another layer.  Continue until the bread is all in the dish. Sprinkle any remain sugar mixture over.  If there is some egg mixture left pour it over the dish. 

Place the casserole dish on a sheet pan and bake for 35 – 50 minutes until it is slightly browned and all the egg mixture is cooked. It should look like a moist bread pudding.



COUNTY COTTAGE POTATOES © Wes Davis 2011 – all rights reserved

3 - 4 left over baked potatoes
1 red onion diced
3 green onions – sliced – all parts
1 orange pepper – diced small
1 – 2 cups of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 teaspoon Garlic powder – adjust to taste
1 teaspoon Cumin – adjust to taste
Olive Oil

Cut the potatoes in to quarters and then slice in 1 inch slices.  Dice the red onion and toss with the potatoes.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and add EVOO to coast the bottom.  When the oil is hot add the potatoes and red onion.  Cook until the onion wilts and the potatoes start to crisp and turn brown.  Add the pepper, garlic and cumin and stir to mix.  When the potatoes are done, pour into an oven proof casserole and top with the cheese.  Place under a broiler to melt the cheese.  Add the green onions and serve. You can also have a good salsa and sour cream on the side.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

MARY ELLEN’S CUSTARD PIE

This recipe is from my cookbook. It is a great recipe for summer as you can add a topping of fresh fruit or enjoy it chilled as is.

MARY ELLEN’S CUSTARD PIE
My maternal grandmother was an excellent cook. She ran a boarding house during the depression and served food that was so good the neighbors would pay to eat at her house. I remember her custard pie.  It is a classic all American dish, simple easy and good.
Preheat oven to 400 F
INGREDIENTS
1          unbaked 9 deep dish inch pie shell
4          eggs at room temperature, 1 separated – white reserved
¾         cup of sugar
½         teaspoon of salt
1 ½      teaspoons of vanilla extract
2          cups milk
½         cup cream
Fresh grated nutmeg
In a large bowl take three of the eggs and one egg yolk and beat until mixed well.  Add the sugar and salt and mix thoroughly.  Combine milk and cream in large glass measuring cup and microwave until scalded- about 2- 3 minutes.  Slowly drizzle about ½ cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking.  Once tempered, slowly add the rest of the hot milk while whisking.  Add vanilla. Prepare the pie shell by whisking the remaining egg white and lightly brushing the pie shell on the bottom and the side. This will help keep the crust flaky and not soggy.  Do not brush the fluted edges or they will burn.  Pour custard into pie shell grate nutmeg over pie and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 28-30 minutes.  Pie should be set and knife inserted into the middle will come out clean with no liquid.  Do not over bake.  Let pie cool and then place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.   Serve as is or add a dollop of whipped cream.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did growing up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SALAD DRESSINGS

            SALAD DRESSINGS

I always like to make salad dressing when I have the time.  A freshly made dressing really sets off the taste of those crisp summer greens!

Old Fashioned 1000 Island

2 cups of Mayonnaise
1 cup of good ketchup
3 hardboiled eggs
¼ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
¾ cup of Sweet Pickle Relish
½ cup of finely diced onion

Mix the Mayonnaise and the ketchup with a whisk so they are combined smooth.  Add the mustard and whisk again.  Chop the eggs so they are small pieces and reserve.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix.  Fold in the chopped eggs and taste for salt.  Chill at least one hour before serving.


STEAK HOUSE BLEU CHEESE

Use a good Bleu Cheese like Gorgonzola or Maytag.

1 cup of Mayonnaise
1 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
8 oz. of Bleu Cheese
Fresh cream

Combine everything but the cheese and whisk until smooth.  Crumble in the cheese and stir gently.  If the dressing is too thick add some fresh cream to get the right consistency.  This will develop more flavor as it sits.

These two are some of my favorites - along with homemade ranch. Yes THAT Ranch!!


Monday, August 13, 2012

OLD FASHIONED POTATO SALAD

Potato Salad - so many versions so many possibilities.  Yet for me my favorite is the one that my Mother made.  Food can conjure up memories faster than anything else!  This is the Potato Salad I grew up eating.


Tips:  Boil the potatoes in the skin.  But wash them first like you would a baked potato.  I also cut out blemishes and dark spots before cooking.  To allow the potatoes to cook at the same rate I slice the potato into four thick slices of equal thickness.  This allows for more surface area and they cook quicker.

2 -4 pounds of Idaho Potatoes - Russets
1 white onion diced
8 hardboiled eggs
Mayonnaise - 1/2 to 1 cup
Dijon Mustard - 1 teaspoon

After you cook the potatoes sock them in an ice bath and let them get to room temperature.  Do the same for the eggs.  (See the post on perfect hard boiled eggs to get eggs.)

Peel the potatoes and cut into small bite size pieces.  Put in a large mixing bowl add the diced onion and then cut the eggs.  Use any method that works for you.  (Paula Deen just smashes them in her hands.  But I prefer sliced in six wedges and then chopped.)  Add the eggs to the bowl.

Mayonnaise – how much to add is up to you and your tastes.  I like a salad that is moist but not soupy.  Add the mustard and then mix it in.  Taste for seasoning.  You may have to add some salt and pepper.  I usually wait until the salad has time for the flavors to marry.  I also adjust the amount of mayo then too.

Let the salad chill for at least 2 hours before serving.


Variations – You can add small dice of Cheddar Cheese and some green onions.
I have also added Crab or Lobster to serve as entrée on hot day.
Try this with Purple Potatoes for a great Halloween dish!

Note – I do NOT add salt to the water to cook the potatoes.  If you do your salad will have too much salt.  Both the Mayo and mustard have salt and you can always add more if needed but you can’t take it out!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rhubarb Delight

Summer’s bounty provides us with many items from the garden.  Rhubarb is one that some like and some do not.  This dish may change a few minds.

1 stick of butter cut into small pieces and kept cold– reserve two tablespoons for later
1 cup of flour
½ cup of dark brown sugar
¼ cup of white sugar
1.4 cup of quick Oatmeal
Pinch of salt

Put the flour, Oatmeal, sugars and salt in a food processor with a steel blade.  Pulse once or twice to mix.  Put 6 tablespoons of the butter in processor and pulse until you have a coarse mixture.  Set in fridge while you do the rest.

Pre heat your oven to 350

6 cups of Rhubarb – cleaned and cut in small pieces – about 2 pounds
1 inch of fresh ginger – peeled and grated to yield 1 ½ tablespoons.
1 cup of white sugar

Mix all of the above and add a pinch of salt.  Pour into a 3 quart baking dish that you have buttered or used a spray.  Melt the last 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the rhubarb mixture.  Take the first mixture out of the fridge and sprinkle over the top to form a crust. 

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

Variations

Add 2 cups of strawberries and reduce the Rhubarb by 1 cup.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

SLIDERS

Small hamburgers  – Sliders have been popular for some time.  To make them at home you can use any recipe you like.  The key is to have them all the same size and weight so they cook at the same time.  Here are some good recipes and ways to make them at home.

All Beef Sliders

Use good quality beef that is 85/15 (meat to fat ratio).  That will make them juicy and flavorful.  I also mix in some salt, pepper and garlic powder to the meat before I form them.  Normally you do not pack the burger when forming.  However I have found that a little pressure on these as you form them will help keep them together.  I use a small scoop to measure and then form them in my hand.  Make sure that the patty is uniform in size and thickness.  You can also use a melon baller or anything that makes the size patty you want.  These do shrink so keep that in mind.  What you do not want is a thick large patty mixed in with smaller ones. 

Meatloaf Sliders – I use a ratio of 1 part ground pork or sausage to 4 parts beef.  I also add a beaten egg and some finely chopped onions.  These can be exceptional!  My favorite way is to use Italian Sausage with the Beef.

Taco Burger sliders – Add 1 package of Taco Seasoning to the meat along with some shredded Cheddar Cheese  - about 2 tablespoons.  You can also add some diced green chilies and onions.  These are very good but watch when you cook them and the cheese might cause some flair up on a grill.

Turkey Sliders – Add some salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil before making the patties.  You can also substitute Turkey for the Beef in any of the other recipes.

Have good small rolls on hand along with all the fixings!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Produce Tips

One of the things I do to save money and make produce last longer is to take care of them as soon as I am home from the store.  Here are some ideas that may help you.

Heads of lettuce - If they need cleaning do that as soon as you get home.  I wash all the lettuces, spin dry and then place them in separate bags by type.  You may also put a paper towel in the bag to absorb excess moisture and help keep the lettuce crisp

Green onions and Radishes - Trim the root ends off these.  For Green Onions I trim the green ends as uniform as possible.  I store Radishes in water in sealed container.  Change water every other day until they are used.  Green onions do great in sealed plastic bag wrapped in a paper towel.

Tomatoes - DO NOT STORE IN THE REFRIGERATOR.  They lose flavor in cold storage.  If you have one that has been sliced, then you can store in the cold but it will lose flavor

Cucumbers - Leave them whole and put them in the crisper.  Once you start to use them then wrap the end in plastic wrap.  One of my favorite’s uses is thin slices with onions in vinegar and water.

Berries - All kinds - check them as soon as you get home for any signs of mold or age.  If there are any that may have mold throw them out.  If you try to save them they will make all the rest go bad.  Strawberries do better when they can breathe.  The harder ones need to be in separate containers with a paper towel on the bottom.  Just check them daily.

So do you have any tips?  Use the comment section!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sirloin Tips over Pasta

Today the butcher had some small Sirloin Steaks on sale.  Sirloins are usually very tender and low in fat.  Because of the lower fat content they can get tough if overcooked.  One of my favorite dishes is Sirloin Tips over pasta.


1 pound of Sirloin Steaks
½ of a white onion or 1 large Shallot
Olive oil and Butter
1 1./2 cups of beef broth
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

Cut the steaks into small pieces about the size of you little finger.  It is better to keep the pieces thinner rather chunks. Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a good sauté pan or non-stick skillet to medium high and add the olive oil and butter – 50/50.  As soon as the butter has melted and starts to bubble add the steaks.  Sauté until cooked to medium.  Add the chopped onion or shallot and finish cooking.  Take the steaks out and put them in a bowl with a cover while you finish the dish.

Return the pan to the heat and add a little more butter.  Add about ¼ cup of Dry Vermouth or red wine to deglaze the pan.  Add 1 ½ cups of beef broth.  While that is heating prepare your thickening agent.  I use 1 tablespoon of Corn starch dissolved in a little water.  Just add that to the broth and stir as it cooks.  As soon as the broth boils it will thicken.  Add the steaks bat to the broth and heat.  If the gravy is too thick add more broth. If the steaks are tender you serve them now.  If not cook on low heat for about an hour with the lid on.

Serve over any type of pasta.



Monday, August 6, 2012

SALT OF THE EARTH

There are so many types of salt available that you really owe it to yourself to try some.  By now everyone has heard of kosher salt and most will have some in their pantry.  Kosher Salt can be coarse or fine grain depending on the supplier.  Kosher Salt is a fine pure salt.  Here are some other types.

Sea Salt – As the name implies this is made by evaporating sea water.  On the coast of France this is a big business.  There are several types and color of sea salt.  The different colors are indicative of trace minerals in the water where the salt was produced.  Some will also have flavorings added such as Herbs De Provence or truffles.  I use these as a main salt or finishing salt depending on the quality and flavor.

There are many others such as rock salt that you have to grind or grate.  One of my favorite is Himalania Pink Salt from the Himalayas.  A light pick salt with a distinct flavor that is a great finishing salt.

Don’t forget other flavored salts – Wild Porcini, Smoked Salts and others too numerous to name.  Try some – you may just find a new way to flavor your food.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Baked Chicken

This is the easiest and best tasting way to cook Chicken or Chicken Breasts in the oven.  Once you have this down you can cook extra to have on hand for a myriad   of dishes.


Roast Chicken

I use the breast but you can use this method for the whole chickens and parts too.  Be sure to wash your chicken when you get home from the store.  Just put in a colander and run cold water over it to get rid of any surface bacteria or debris.  Pat dry and then:

Rub chicken with Olive Oil – do both sides if it is in pieces.  Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Finally add some DAVIS DUST or other seasoning to bring out the flavor.  Bake in a convection oven at 350 for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature is 165 - 170.  You can also bake in a regular oven but a convection will really crisp up the skin!  Yes I cock with the skin on and the meat on the bone.  It tastes better.

I usually do 4 - 8 breasts and then freeze several for later meals. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Easy Chicken Curry

I use this recipe for a quick easy and tasty meal.  I usually get a rotisserie chicken for this but any left-over chicken or even turkey will work.  I also use cooked rice in this version.


2 cups of cooked rice
1 -2 cups of cooked chicken – cut up or torn into bite size pieces.
1 stock of celery diced
½ of an onion –diced
1 teaspoon Madras Curry
Olive Oil and butter

Heat a skillet to medium and add the oil.  Heat the oil and then add the celery and onions sautéing until tender.  Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is hot.  Add the curry powder and stir.  The curry will want to stick to the pan.  That is ok for a few minutes.  After that deglaze the pan with ¼ cup of Dry Vermouth.  Reduce the Vermouth – add the rice to heat.  Just before serving add about a tablespoon of butter and stir in.  Take off the heat and serve. 

Note – go easy on the Curry until you taste the dish.  Too much will be bitter and overpower the rest.  Better to add – you can’t remove it.