Monday, May 17, 2010

Funky Polynesian Chicken Pizza

Yet Another Original Flavor Masterpiece


Just in case no one noticed (on my other blog..."What I'd Liked To Have Said" , I pretty much took the day off yesterday after spending about six and one half hours Saturday herding Pat and the Turbo Pup back northeast across Alabama and home into Eastern Tennessee.

I did manage to make some interesting home-made rosemary hash browns with onions, Portabella mushrooms, and a splash of good Balsamic Vinegar to go with eggs and bacon at breakfast, but when it came time for dinner preparations to start mid-afternoon I knew pizza was on the menu but I wanted something different in the topping category.

Looking at my options, I ended up settling on a combination of sweet and savory based on the old standard "Hawaiian Pizza."

You know..."Hawaiian Pizza."

Pizza covered with Ham and green bell peppers and onions and pineapple and some sort of sauce.

Problem was, we didn't have any ham and green bell peppers in the house and I didn't want to get dressed and go to the grocery store, so after a little Goggling for other ideas I dug around in my pantry and Fridge and came up with the following ingredient list.

For my standard crust:

Starter Dough
1 pack dry yeast
1/4 cup 100-110 degree F water
3/4 cups King Author Bread Flour

Main Dough
3/4 cup room temperature water
1-1/2 cup King Author Bread Flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

For the "Polynesian" Sauce:
2-8 Oz cans Hunts Tomato Sauce
1/4 tsp powdered ginger (or fresh grated ginger root if you have it)
2 tbsp Hosin Sauce
1 tsp Teriyaki Sauce
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp Oriental Five Spice Powder

Toppings:
1/2 pound of good whole milk Mozzarella Cheese, cubed/chunked
4 strips of bacon, fried crisp
1 boneless chicken breast, cooked medium and cut into 1/4 strips
1/2 red bell pepper, course diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, course diced
1/4 pound good feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
1/2 of a 20 Oz can Pineapple slices, cut into 1" segments

When making a good pizza crust, I like to let my dough have plenty of time to rise and more importantly--to get a good rise regardless.

Years ago somewhere on the Internet I came across the idea of doing a pre-rise of a small batch of dough. By mixing the yeast with 1/4 cup of warm (but not hot) water and allowing it to react with a smaller quantity of flour for about 20 minutes, then adding another 3/4 cup of room temperature water to the pre-rise mixture you get a more uniform distribution of the yeast through the entire mass of dough. You add your diluted pre-rise mixture to the 1-1/2 cup of flour/salt/white pepper mixture and you have enough dough for one 15" pizza

I don't know if it's worth the effort to everyone, but I've been doing it this way for six or eight years now and I think I make a better crust than 90% of the Pizza restaurants out there...I'll leave it to you to decide I guess.

So any way, the point is, make yourself a mass of dough--however--and then kneed it out to a good consistency (I also don't over-work my pizza dough contrary to all of the crap published on the Internet demanding that you spend twenty minutes playing with a sticky ball of goo) and toss it out on to a floured cookie sheet, cover it with a clean towel, and toss it into a cold oven or your microwave to rise for about an hour and one half.

Now fix yourself a drink and contemplate your sauce and toppings.

The sauce is pretty straight forward, dump the cans of tomato sauce into a small boiler, add all of the spices and a splash of your pineapple juice from the can, and simmer everything for a half hour or so until it thickens.

Sauce done...wasn't that easy?

Now as to putting it all together.

Preheat your oven to 550 degrees F (500 deg F minimum if you can.)

Punch down and roll out your dough, toss it into the air and get it in your hair if you want to, and keep fooling with it until you have something resembling a round pizza crust.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I highly recommend the use of a pizza stone but whatever you use toss your finished crust onto it, then spoon your funky Polynesian sauce out onto the center of the crust leaving about an inch around the perimeter uncovered.

Heck, cover the whole dang thing up with sauce if you want to, but I leave a clean edge around my Pizzas.

Now evenly spread you chunked Mozzarella around on top of the sauce, add the rest of your toppings, and once your oven is up to temperature slide the whole shebang in and let it cook for 17 to 19 minutes.

Get yourself a pizza cutter and some plates, wait for things to cool down for about five minutes after you take it out of the oven, and EAT!!

Regards Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Friday, November 27, 2009

Oysters Rockefeller

Not As Expensive Difficult As They Sound...


So I cooked a couple of quick appetizers for yesterday's Thanksgiving festivities which I don't think I've written up previously here on the Redneck Gourmet(and I'm too lazy to look at my archives), so in lethargy and ineptitude I thought I'd take the risk of posting the formulas again this morning.

They each fall under their own separate heading below, and with that said, here's my method of how to cook "Oysters Rockefeller" ("Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops" follows in a separate posting.)

According to this website called Whatscookingamerica.net, this dish originated in 1899 in Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. Go over there if you want to and take a peek at the history.

I've personally dined at Commanders' Palace and Brennan's and a number of other famous Nawlin's eateries over the past 30 years but I have to admit that I've never made it over to Antoine's...but I have enjoyed various interpretations of the Recipe produced by kitchens around the country over the years and some have been good and some have been great...but the one thing in common is that MOST have cost an arm and a leg in a restaurant.

For no good reason in my considered Redneck opinion...I might add.

That said, I say there's ways tocook Oysters Rockefeller for less than $0.75 each...closer to $0.50 each if you know what you're doing and can get a good deal on fresh oysters.

And to that end, here's my personal interpretation of...

Oysters Rockefeller (by the dozen)

You're gonna need the following basic ingredients:
(and feel free to experiment if you wish)

12 fresh oysters
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp butter
6 tbsp minced fresh spinach (or a part of a pack of frozen chopped spinach...WELL drained)
2 tbsp finely diced green onions
2 tbsp diced stemmed Italian flat leaf Parsley
breadcrumbs (as much as you need...hang on)
a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Crystal)
1/3 tsp Annisette Liquor (or Herbsaint or Pernod)
1/4 tsp salt
Box of Rock salt
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges

OK...here we go...first crank on the oven to 350 degrees

Meanwhile shuck your Oysters. Cut those suckers out of their shell making sure to keep the sand and crumbs out of things and set aside the better looking deeper halves of each shell to use later in the process.

Redneck Aside:

Let me remind you that real men shuck oysters...but if you aren't a real man or you're female and don't have a real man handy you can buy them (the Oysters) already shucked but then you have to also get those little sanitized store bought shells if you absolutely have to.

I, personally, having grown up in Lower Alabama in a place less than two hours from the best oysters in the world in Apalachicola Bay Florida, refuse to buy anything but fresh oysters.

(I guess that means I'm saying not to cook this recipe unless you can find fresh oysters in the shell, but I digress...)

Meanwhile...back to the preparation of our Oysters...

In a heavy skillet, melt your butter (and add some bacon grease if you have it handy), then add the spinach, onion, parsley, Anisette, hot sauce, and salt.

Now sprinkle a few tablespoons of bread crumbs on top and start stirring as things thicken. As the juice cooks out of the spinach , pay attention and if you need more bread crumbs don't just stand there...put them in the pot and keep stirring...don't look at me...

After about 10 minutes consider turning the heat off and pulling the skillet off the hot eye and then let it cool down (you can even make this stuff as much as a day early and refrigerate until you need it, but let it come up to room temperature or it will effect your cooking time.)

After you've shucked your oysters and picked out and scrubbed off your serving shells, add about a 1/2" deep layer of rock salt to a oven proof platter or cookie sheet and lay out your shells evenly spaced over the surface of the salt. The salt helps evenly transfer heat during the cooking process and also keeps the shells stable while you're filling them.

Now add one oyster back to each shell. It doesn't matter that they go back into their original shells but it helps if you put your bigger oysters in the larger shells and reserve the smaller ones for the little guys.

Place equal amounts of the spinach mixture over each oyster and spread to the rim of the shell if possible.

Slide the whole concoction into the oven and let things go for about ten minutes, then pull them back out and distribute your grated cheese on top and lightly sprinkle with more bread crumbs, return to the oven and kick on the Broiler to 500.

Let things go another five minutes or so, then pull out and serve.


Regards Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops

More Non-Traditional Holiday Food


This is a recipe I've been cooking for several years now.

It's my personal take on a recipe published by Food Network's Cooking Diva Giada de Laurentiis, except I'm made some procedural and serving changes to accommodate a platter presentation with more readily available ingredients.


The Ingredients:

12 medium sea scallops
12 slices of thinly sliced Prosciutto Ham
1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp sliced black olives
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
lemon juice
1/4 stick of butter
fresh ground black pepper
2 cups baby salad greens



And here's how I put things together...

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and toss a large heavy skillet on the stove top on medium heat and put in your butter to melt.

Rinse your scallops and remove the tough "foot" or "tendon" on the side if it's still present. Put your cleaned scallops in a shallow dish and pour in a little lemon juice and let them swim around while make the other preparations.

Toss your tomatoes, olives, and basil into a food processor and chop things finely as you slowly pour in your olive oil. Don't add all of it at once and stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl. Keep adding oil and processing to you have a thin, chunky paste...not a slurry.

Now back to your scallops. Are they still swimming in lemon juice?

Well dump out the juice, and move them into your melted butter and lightly sear them on the two flat sides. Be careful not to fully cook them now, they'll have plenty of time in the oven later to get to a medium or medium well temperature.

Turn off your heat and take them out and lightly sprinkle them on all sides with salt and pepper.

Now lay out two strips of Prosciutto and fold them in half long ways, spoon a little of your tomato/olive mixture out in the middle of each slice and top each with a scallop.

Stay with me here now, we're on the home stretch...grab some toothpicks, fold the prosciutto up around the scallops and pin the two flaps together with the toothpick vertically.

Do the same procedure with each scallop and place them in a buttered pyrex dish and pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes.

Now go pour yourself a mixed drink or a glass of wine, but stop back by and check their progress at the ten minute point. If you like your scallops well done just be careful to not dry out the prosciutto too much.

Spread your salad greens out on a large plate or platter and arrange your hot wrapped scallops around the greens, garnish with some lemon wedges, and try to not get trampled when you bring them out of the kitchen to your guests.

Regards Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Green Chili

I'm Back Out of Hibernation...


I hate to admit how much I hate how I've neglected this Cooking Blog after having such an enthusiastic start going on nearly FIVE YEARS AGO.

November 9th, 2004 to be exact.

That was the date of my first posting.

In celebration of five years of cooking blogging I thought I'd add my latest recipe to the page...a white chili I call my "Green Butt Chili"...

except this batch was made with pork tenderloin because I was lazy and didn't feel like brining and cooking a whole Boston Butt yesterday afternoon.

Maybe this batch was just "Green Chili" or even "White Chili", but HEY...it's MY Chili and I'll call it whatever I want to, dang it.

So any way, I'm cooking chili for two reasons right now.

1.Because the weather has cooled off and...

2. I have to get started with a new recipe for next year's Chili Cookoff on St. Simons with my buddy and fellow Georgia Tech Alumni, John Howton, owner of Blackwater Grill there on the island.

Our last season's chili based on top round steak (see recipe in the next older posting) won second place "People's Choice" but didn't place with the so called "official judges," so as a result I'm wanting to change directions and try something different in anticipation of getting equal or greater attention at this coming year's event.

To that end, yesterday I put together a batch of "white" i.e. non beef based chili that was made up of the following ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1" thick steaks (you could use boneless chicken breasts also if you like)

(2) mild Hungarian or banana peppers, diced into 1/4" cubes
(3) large green tomatillos, diced into 1/4" cubes

(2) 14 ounce cans chicken stock
(2) 14 ounce cans beef stock
(1) 14 ounce can white Hominy Corn
(2) 14 ounce can cannelloni beans
1/2 14 ounce can tomato sauce
(1) 12 ounce can Goya Reciato Cilantro sauce


Spices:
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp green bell pepper powder
1/2 tbsp red chili powder
1/4 tbsp black pepper


Now as the procedure...RELAX...it's not rocket science...

Sprinkle your pork tenderloins lightly with Cumin on both sides and toss them into the bottom of a 4 quart boiler with a little olive oil to sear and brown on both sides.

Meanwhile, over in a large heavy skillet heat up about a cup of peanut oil over medium heat and make yourself a blond Roux. I'm not going to go into the details other than to say you add flour until everything gets real thick and you STAND THERE AND CONTINUOUSLY STIR your mixture until it thickens...at least fifteen minutes did it for me.

Now turn down the heat on your Roux and pull your seared pork out of the big boiler onto a platter.

Toss your diced peppers and tomatillos into the roux and cook for ten or so minutes.

Stir, stir, stir.

Don't that look good?

When your green chunks are cooked and softened, dump one can each of chicken stock and beef stock into the skillet.

Stir some more.

When everything is combined good dump the contents of your skillet over into your 4 quart boiler (the one you seared your pork in) and scrape the bottom of the pot to get the tasty bits off.

Add the chili powders, cumin, and the pepper.

Stir.

Add one can of Cannelloni White beans and the can of Hominy and the tomato sauce.

Stir.

Now return your pork to the pot, add more stock if you need to, cover, and cook it for about an hour on medium low heat...until it is tender and starting to fall apart.

Is your pork falling apart?

Then pull the pieces out onto a platter and slice and tear it up with a knife and fork. Shred it as finely as you want to. I like a bunch of fine with a few larger junks just for the variety in my mouth.

Now add your pork back to the pot, dump in more chicken and beef stock if you need the liquid volume, and add the second can of Cannelloni Beans and the jar of Goya Recaito.

Finish your Chili by cooking it down another thirty to forty five minutes--until it's as thick as you like your Chili, then grab yourself a spoon and napkin and...

E A T


Regards Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

World Class Chili

Recipe By Request


Looking back, I find it to be somewhat amazing the circumstances which have produced some of my best recipes and cooking experiences over the past fifteen years since I began cooking on something other than a charcoal grill and moved into my kitchen almost full time for good portions of the week each week.

After my ten year apprenticeship spent learning which end of the spoon and ladle to put in a boiler or pot, and the difference between the spices Nutmeg and Cumin, the past five years have found me cooking larger and larger quantities of food for ever increasing crowds of people in a variety of venues--most recently...

PUBLIC venues.

With the assistance of Pat and my good buddy Rusty I've done a killer Mexican menu for over thirty people at our 2006 celebration of "Sies de Mayo" (actually an unintended insult to the illegal immigrants' Cinco de Mayo national holiday because the fifth of May that year fell on Friday.)

I've almost single handedly done Christmas dinner for seventeen during a recent holiday season including main courses and appetizers like Oysters Rockefeller.

Then this past holiday season I handled the main Chef duties for my soon to be defunct former employer's company Christmas party including about 24 guests and featuring Chateau Brianne, pan seared Salmon, and my signature Chicken picatta over angle hair pasta.

Now, on April fools day, I find my head spinning as we continue to move forward into 2009 and, looking back across the month of March, I seem to vaguely recall figuring out how to cook Chili for something like what...a THOUSAND people?

In preparation I cooked half gallon quantities of Chili three times in February to fine tune the recipe, then on March 7th my team man -handled 10 gallons of beef stock, 5 gallons of chicken stock, 40 pounds of top round roast cut into 1/2" steaks, and THIRTY pounds of ground beef and when put it was all installed into a giant pot, embellished with a ton of spices, and well stirred with a boat paddle; the concoction yielded what ended up being about THIRTEEN GALLONS of "Peoples Choice" award winning chili.





I don't care if I ever see another bowl of Chili for about two more months now, but I want to publish the recipe before I forget it and as a warning if you don't care about how to make my Chili you can stop reading right now, because "Virgil's World Class Competition Chili" recipe ensues:

To do about a half gallon batch of my "World Class" Chili in your home kitchen...You'll need...

Meat:
1-1/4 pound top round steak (about 1/2" thick)
1-1/4 pound ground beef or ground chuck

Other Stuff:
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
2 (14) oz cans beef stock
1 (14) oz cans chicken stock
1 (12) oz can tomato paste
2 (12) oz cans red beans (pureed in blender and reserved on the side until needed later)

Spice Blast #1

1 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 tsp flaked onions
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp Wyler's Instant Beef Bouillon Granules
2 tsp Wyler's Instant Chicken Bouillon Granules

Spice Blast #2

3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp white pepper
3 tbsp Goya Reciato (look for the green Cilantro sauce in the "ethnic food" isle at your local grocer)

Now...as to the process of making the Chili...

Toss your top round steak in a big boiler pot or dutch oven with the cup of wine and the cup of water.

Cook it covered for 1-1/2 to 2 hours over medium heat until it falls apart when you poke it with a fork..checking it often after about 75 minutes so you don't boil it dry.

Dump the cooked round steak out into a colander to drain, then break up your ground beef and render it in the same boiler/pot/dutch oven until it's cooked through.

Now dump it in a colander to drain (removing your round steak so you don't get it all greasy again.

Go through the round steak pulling out any "chewy" bits and break it up into 1/2" to 3/4" chunks or smaller so it will assimilate into the pot with the ground beef when the time comes.

Is your drained/degreased meat now sitting back in your boiler/pot/dutch oven?

Well then...put it back in there and set your burner heat on medium and dump in your beef and chicken stock.

Stir, stir, stir, stir...

Add the Tomato Paste.

Stir...

Now...While you're standing around drinking some wine or a beer and bragging about your favorite NASCAR driver or the College basketball final four, dump your red beans into your blender or a food processor and grind those suckers up until they look like baby food.

Now hold them (the pureed beans) on the side until you see how things work out in the next couple of hours.

Once everything is starting to simmer nicely on the stove top, dump in what I call "Spice blast #1."

Smell that?

Don't get too close or you'll hurt yourself...

Stir, Stir, stir and turn the heat down a little and put the lid on the pot.

Now go watch Fox News or CNN while your eyes roll back in your head for fifteen minutes.

Smell that?

Stop by and check on your chili every fifteen minutes and make sure there isn't any unexpected flames coming out of your pot.

Got a fire extinguisher handy?

Back to reality, cook things slowly for somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour, then add "Spice Blast #2."

If things start to thicken too much you can always add some more beef stock or chicken stock or if you're really cheep..WATER.

Now I have to leave things up to you from here on out.

Cook my Chili recipe down as thick or thin as you like and you can dump any or all of the pureed red beans in at any time to thicken the whole pot out and to increase the volume of the mixture--I use the beans as a filler rather than a basic ingredient, but be prepared to stay on top of things for the last half hour of the cooking process lest you screw things up and have to start over again.

in the mean time...

Bon Appetite...!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why "The Redneck Gourmet"

My Original Posting from November 2004...Slightly Revised & Republished As An Intro


OK...I've basically neglected this space on the internet on and off now for slightly over four years ...BUT

People keep stopping by reading, and every once in a while someone likes what I write, so I'm in the slow process of cleaning it up and making it presentable even if I don't have anything new to say or I'm cooking instead of writing.

That said...here's the words that started it all back on November 9, 2004:


I’m from southern Alabama. Some people like to call it “lower Alabama,” or LA for short. Call it what you will, it was home for me growing up. The older I get, the more attractive it becomes as a place to live, but it hasn’t always been that way.

You see, when you grow up living in LA, you tend to sort of take it for granted. The people, the lifestyle, the land, the food; by the time you are eighteen years old, you have had enough of the “simple life” and Atlanta, Georgia (or “anywhere else” in the USA) seems to beat the heck out of Ozark, Alabama.

The problem is, when you get to college in Atlanta and you’ve spent your first seventeen years in Ozark, you generally don’t have a clue about fine dining. There weren’t exactly a bunch of French, Italian, Greek, Japanese, or Thai restaurants in LA, and where I come from, Sushi is what we call fish bait. We could, however, fix you up with some deluxe fried chicken, country fried cube steak, fresh vegetables, biscuits & gravy, and we did a mean sirloin steak on the grill (charcoal, not gas…thank you very much.)

Fine dining just takes awhile to learn, and the one thing I learned very quickly was that throwing money at the problem definitely did not guarantee results. There was nothing more disappointing in 1979 than having the opportunity to dine with a member of the fairer sex, throwing $40 of hard earned summer job cash at food and wine, and going home hungry and disappointed (about the food, we’re not discussing women here, guys—get your minds out of the gutter.)

Fortunately, over the past twenty-five years I have learned a thing or two about fine dining and how to use raw fish as something other than fish bait. I’ve had the opportunity to dine in many of the well known restaurants in the major cities of the US. The Redneck Gourmet is not a restaurant review blog, however.

The Redneck Gourmet is about good home cooking, but not necessarily grits and cubed steak. Just like finding that throwing money at dining out doesn’t guarantee results, I have found that having just any old recipe for a given dish doesn’t ensure your home cooking efforts will yield the desired results—a perfect home cooked meal with authentic seasoning and flavors.

To this end, I’d like to share my interest and ability in cooking high quality food in my own kitchen, and telling you, my (soon to be) devoted reader, how to do the same. I realize that the internet is loaded with good cooking sites, places like
Food Network, Epicurious, and others that I have to compete with, but competition is not my intention. I just love to cook and I love to write and The Redneck Gourmet allows me to combine both of these passions into one exercise…and on Blogger.com, it’s free.

I really hope that you enjoy my efforts.

Virgil R. Rogers, III

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pizza Oscar

Recooked (And Slightly Re-Written)


Well...I did it again, and it came out quite well if I do say so myself.

By "It" I mean I produced a white pizza based on Crab, Chicken, asparagus, and Mozzarella Cheese with a white cream sauce for dinner last night.

First...a little history on the name of dishes with the surname "Oscar"--Chicken Oscar, Steak Oscar...etc.--on your local restaurant menu.

According to this web site, the original dish named "Oscar" was actually a form of Veal Oscar and was named for King Oscar II of Sweden who spent his time wandering around in Norway and Sweden until about 1907. King Oscar liked a dish which featured breaded fried Veal medallions, covered with crab meat and Asparagus spears, smothered in a cream sauce.

The rest, as we all like to say IS HISTORY.

So any way, back in November I was looking around the WWW and it became apparent to me that the common elements of dishes called "Oscar" were lump crab meat, asparagus, and some sort of sauce (Alfredo or Bearnaise) placed on top of a base meat.

I figured that instead of a base meat I would just use a Pizza crust, and as a result here's what I included in tonight's masterpiece:


  • Three TBSP good extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Knorr Bearnaise Sauce (or make your own sauce if you want to torture yourself)

  • 1-1/2 cups lump crab meat--preferably fresh from your local sea food market, drained well and spritzed with lemon juice and sprinkled with Old Bay Seasoning.

  • One large chicken breast, sprinkled with Old Bay Seasoning and cooked in a skillet in some butter and bacon grease until done medium, then sliced into 1/4" thick pieces.

  • One can Green Giant Asparagus (or par-boiled fresh Asparagus or even better yet...WHITE Asparagus which is what I read that the Good King Oscar liked on his Veal)

  • One pound of good whole milk Mozzarella--sliced (please don't use that store bought plastic cheezy stuff you buy pre shredded in ziplock bags--get yourself a big block of Mozzarella and a sharp knife and do a little work while you're cooking.)

  • 1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese

First I made my basic pizza crust (which takes a couple of hours to put together and rise), then on top of this dough rolled out and formed into a nice round shape on a well seasoned pizza stone
I first drizzled my EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and smeared it around with my fingers.

Next I placed my big thick slices of Mozzarella cheese around the crust and olive oil in a nice uniform pattern, then I loaded the sliced chicken pieces around on top and spread the lump crab meat all around over everything (just barely avoiding taking a bite of the raw crab--can you say Sushi?)

Finally I laid out the pre-cooked canned Asparagus spears around the top of the pizza radially-- like the hands of a clock--and smothered everything with my warm Bearnaise sauce.

After cooking everything for about 20 minutes in a 550 degree oven, I pulled my pizza out to cool for about five minutes, cut it into slices, and then we all CHOWED DOWN.

Pornographic photographic evidence of the event could be available later...




Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stuffing Myself With Stuffed Chicken Breasts

A Surprising Dish


I was sitting around here on a lazy Sunday afternoon, trying to come up with something original to cook for dinner. Nothing fancy mind you, but just something different to help move me out of my year long cooking rut.

Since I already had some Perdue thin sliced chicken breast pieces that needed to be cooked or put into the freezer, I decided that stuffing my chicken parts with something was in order for the evening. A little internet surfing gave me a few good ideas, and after a quick trip to the grocery store, here’s what I did to make dinner for two.

Ingredients:

Six pieces of thin sliced chicken breast (or three medium boneless breast halves, pounded thin)

Three pieces thick sliced bacon

Nine thick (½”) slices of Portobello Mushroom cap
½ medium Shallot, diced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
Three handfuls of baby spinach leaves
Two tablespoons butter

2/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
3 thick slices Whole Milk Mozzarella

Two tablespoons Butter
Three tablespoons Extra virgin Olive Oil
Flour--about ¼ cup
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup white wine
4 tablespoons sherry
½ tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

First toss a large skillet on the stove top over medium heat, and cook your bacon until it is nice and crisp.

Hold on there…SAVE THAT BACON GREASE… you’re gonna need it.

Once the bacon has been cooked and reserved to drain on the side, toss in a couple tablespoons of butter and sauté your mushroom slices and shallot for about ten minutes--five minutes per side. Now add your minced garlic and the baby Spinach, turn the heat down a little, and cover the skillet and let things cook for another five minutes or so.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 360 degrees, get your chicken out of the fridge, slice your Mozzarella and grate your parmesan.

Now that your mushroom/shallot/spinach mixture is done, pull the skillet off the heat and spoon it into a bowl on the side.

Put your skillet back on the heat, add your olive oil and butter, and once the butter has melted start sprinkling flour into the mixture. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to break loose all of the tidbits as you continuously stir your oil flour mixture. You’re making a basic roux, and you have to keep adding flour and stirring until it thickens and you get the color where you want it.

I made my roux a medium dark brown. Meanwhile, while your roux is cooking, lay a couple of thin slices of chicken out on a plate so they’re overlapping, top it with a slice of mozzarella, then spoon 1/3 of your spinach/mushroom/shallot mix on top. (If you use boneless chicken breast halves, just pound them out thin and top them as described.) Add 1/3 of your grated parmesan, then fold the sides of the chicken over and pin it all together with three or four toothpicks and place it fold side up in a greased casserole dish.

Do the same with the other chicken slices or pounded breast pieces, then toss the whole thing in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Back at the skillet, once you’re satisfied with the thickness and color of your roux, kick the heat up a notch and dump in your white wine and chicken stock.

Sizzle, sizzle, scrape scrape.

Add your salt and a few twists of black pepper, and keep stirring as the liquid evaporates and things thicken back up. I called this a sauce, but I guess that it really is more of a sophisticated gravy mix.

Now turn down the heat and let things coast while the chicken bakes, adding the Sherry during the last five minutes, and giving things a nice stir on about five minute intervals also.

Kick the oven up to broil for the final couple of minutes, then when your chicken is up to about 155 degrees F, pull it out and let it rest on the cutting board while your plates heat up in the oven.

Put the plates on chargers, slice your chicken into three or pieces pieces each, top with a generous portion of your sauce, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Note To Self

Killer Pizza Toppings


Here, take my Pizza crust recipe and then do this:

Hawaiian

1 14 oz can tomato sauce
Tomato paste
Salt to taste
White pepper
½ tbsp sugar '

Heat it all up in a boiler, then add on top:

1 lb mozzarella cheese
1 small can pineapple pieces
½ package diced ham


Or this:

Italian, Phase II…

Tomato sauce:

1 can Hunt's petite diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
Whole bunch of Dried Oregano
Dried Basil
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 tablespoon sugar

1 lb mozzarella cheese

Olive oil to cover raw crust

Thin sliced pepperoni to cover sauce covering olive oil covering crust

Diced green onion
Small can Sliced green olives
Small can Diced black olives
Small can Mushroom pieces and parts

4 oz juicy feta cheese

490 Degree oven for 20 minutes on a stone

EAT!

Regards, Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Italian Pork Chop Caserole

A One Dish Wonder


Late last week I was wandering down the meat isle of our local grocery store, looking for bargains, when I noticed packages of little boneless pork chops "buy one, get one free." They were sliced about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, had a nice pink color, and I just couldn't resist.

Two packages came home with me.

Thin little chops like these cook in just a couple of minutes on each side in the skillet, and it's easy to over cook them and dry them out if you're not careful, so I started poking around the Internet looking for something different to do with four of my little chops for dinner tonight.

I came upon this recipe for something called "Italian Pork Chops," but I wanted something a little heartier, so I made a few modifications and here's what I came up with for dinner.

four pork chops
one link of andouille sausage (or Italian sausage)
five medium sized red potatoes
28 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
12 oz can of cream of Mushroom Soup
dried tarragon
one cup of shredded cheese (I used Swiss and Parmesan, but most any kind will work)
bread crumbs

First wash and slice up your potatoes into 1/8" slices and toss them in a pot of cold salted water to soak for a few minutes. I leave the skins on my new potatoes because I like the texture and flavor, but feel free to peal yours if you want to.

Now grate up your cheese and start heating up a medium boiler of water for the potatoes and a large skillet on high to sear the pork chops and sausage in.

Dump the water off the potatoes down the sink, then place the drained potatoes into the pot of hot water on your stove top and bring them to a rolling boil to pre cook them slightly.

Toss the chops into the hot skillet with a little olive oil and sear them lightly on both sides, being careful not to cook them too much or they'll be tough when they're done baking later.

The sausage should be seared also, but you don't have to be as careful and you can give it some nice color if you want, then pull it out of the skillet and slice it into 1/8" to 1/4" thick slices.

Take your potatoes off the stove and pour them out into a colander to drain well.

Now you can start putting your dish together. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13" x 13" Pyrex dish with your favorite fat. I used spray olive oil.

Now layer half of your potato slices evenly in the bottom of your dish, then lay your little pork shops and the sausage slices on top in a nice layer and sprinkle with about a half teaspoon of dried tarragon.

Spoon the can of Cream of Mushroom Soup over your meat and potato layers and smooth it out.

Sprinkle in a little of your grated cheese if you want to. I saved all of mine for the topping.

Now layer the last of your potatoes across the top of everything, then spoon the diced tomatoes out over the dish. Crack a little fresh black pepper over the top of it all, and sprinkle with another half teaspoon of dried tarragon and some dried basil and parsley if you're in the mood.

Step back from the stove to admire your work.

Isn't that pretty?

It gets better... spread your grated cheese evenly over the top...now THAT looks Yummy.

Set your timer for 40 minutes, pop your dish in the oven, and go watch TV or surf the Internet or play with the dog or something while your casserole cooks. How about washing your car?

After 40 minutes, pull the dish out and sprinkle about 3/4 cup of bread crumbs on top of the melting cheese, then put it back in the oven and cook it for another 20 minutes.

For the last three minutes I kicked the oven broiler on to give the bread crumbs a nice color, then pulled it out and let it cool for about ten minutes.

If you can remember where you put your pork chops, try to dive in with a giant spoon or spatula and scoop out a nice slab of everything. If it falls apart, just spoon it out in a pile, then grab yourself a fork and napkin and EAT.

Regards Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Pizza Revelation

A Saturday Night Tradition...


After doing virtually nothing all day today (as opposed to getting virtually nothing done), I fired up the new oven and worked on my thin crust pizza recipe. The solution is coming along nicely, and I feel good enough about things to publish it for public consumption.

Here's what you need to make a nice 15" thin crust pizza...

For the starter dough:

1/4 cup of 110 degree F water1 pack of yeast

3/4 cup of flour

For the main dough:

3/4 cup of room temperature water

1-1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of sugar

Toppings

(add or subtract as you like, but you really should try this combo unless something on the list gives you hives or makes your spleen rupture or something...):

olive oil

1 pound whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into little blobs and evenly distributed
Enough pepperoni slices to cover the affected area
Four (4) strips of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 small chicken breast half--pan seared to about 140 degrees and diced into 3/8" cubes
A couple of hand fulls of baby spinach leaves
Fresh sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup of diced colored bell peppers (I used orange, Red, AND Yellow)
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 small can of sliced black olives
6 oz of crumbled feta cheese (put it right on top of everything when you're finished)

First things first.

Put your yeast in the warm water, stir it up well, and let is sit for about fifteen minutes.

Once you have a bunch of hungry yeast breasties, howling for something to eat, dump your yeast/water mixture into your 3/4 cup of starter flour, stir it up to form a blob of dough, cover it with a clean dishtowel, and walk away and ignore it while it rises for a half hour or so.

Make yourself a nice glass of iced tea or open a beer and watch TV while you wait.

Now here's the difference between thick and thin crust...

You DON'T do a secondary rise on the dough. It's just that simple.

You dump your 3/4 cup of water into your starter dough to dilute, stir it all up, then pour it into a medium mixing bowl with your flour, salt, and sugar mixture.

Stir, stir, stir.

Do you have a stiff, yet slightly wet dough mixture yet?

No?

Then add a LITTLE flour or water until you get it right, then dump it all out onto a floured surface and start working it over with your hands.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.

Now the idea is to incorporate some more flour into the slightly wet dough, ending up with extra on the outside surfaces as you begin to flatten it out to form a crust. After two or three minutes of kneading, break out your rolling pin and roll things out to a nice uniform disk about 18" in diameter and 1/4" to 3/8" thick (I use a 15" pizza stone to cook on.)

When you're finished rolling, pick up your crust and carefully place it on your pan or stone (dusted well with flour), then fold and pinch the extra 1-1/2" of dough over around the edges to form a rim on the crust.

Next spoon out some olive oil (a table spoon or two) onto the middle of your masterpiece and smear it around the area inside the rim, then add your cheese, meat, and veggies, toss the whole thing into the oven for 17 to 20 minutes (depending on your oven), pull it out and let it cool a little, cut it into slices, then grab yourself a napkin and EAT.

Regards Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Collard Greens

I'm Happier Than A Pig In Mud


It's truely amazing the things that life will throw at you when you least expect it.

Take what happened to me at the theater last Friday as an example. Out of the blue, Rob, one of the Ritz Theater employees, walked up to me with two grocery bags full of fresh home grown collard and spinach greens and just GAVE them to me.

One of the other theater employees had grown them and everyone in the building was either crazy else they didn't cook so by default I inherited the sacks of green treasure.

I acted like Wyle E. Coyote, "Super Genius", and ran away with them as fast as I could, but Pat made me wait until tonight to cook them. After lovingly being hand washed in cold water to remove any bugs and most of the sand that was present, they're now sitting comfortably in some 212 degree F water simmering away with the Pork Ham Bone left over from Thanksgiving.

It's not rocket science...just water, salt, pepper, and a few hours of cooking slow.

Enjoy Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Prosciutto Wrapped Rosemary Grilled Shrimp & Sea Scallops

It Makes My Mouth Water Just Writing About Them


I did something a little different last evening for dinner, and you can thank my friend Brad for giving me a big bag of fresh Rosemary last week in order to supply me with the inspiration.

I had already bought four GIANT Sea Scallops on Friday and I had a few pounds of frozen shrimp in the Freezer, and with the addition of the Rosemary and some Proscuitto Ham, here’s what I did to make a hearty meal for two.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

Four to Eight Sea Scallops (you decide based on their size)
A dozen or so medium headless pealed shrimp
Thinly sliced, cured Prosciutto Ham
A couple of Fresh Lemons, or bottled lemon juice
Fresh sprigs of Rosemary (the number based on your scallops and shrimp quantity)
Salt and pepper to taste (be careful with the salt, because the Prosciutto is generally salty)

Now as to the preparation:

This meal is really easy. Peal your shrimp (leaving the tails on if you want) and place them and the scallops in a bowl and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and a few tablespoons of lemon juice.

Now go watch TV for a while or take a walk--give your seafood at least a half hour to swim around in the marinade, and take the time to dump some charcoal into your grill and get yourself a nice fire started.

Once you get tired of waiting on your briny friends, pull them out of your bowl and wrap a piece of prosciutto around each scallop, and slice a few pieces of the ham up to wrap around the pealed shrimp.

Redneck tip: Use your judgment on the size of the Prosciutto pieces based on what you want to eat and how you want them to look when you get done. Make at least one and one half passes around each piece so they won’t come unwrapped on the grill.

Next, take a few spears of rosemary, peal the leaves off of two or three inches of the woody stems, and insert one stem through each wrapped scallop in order to pin your Prosciutto wrapper in place.

Do the same thing with the shrimp, except you can put four to six wrapped shrimp on each Rosemary skewer.

By now your grill should be nice and hot, so brush the grate off real good, brush on a light coat of olive oil on everything, and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over on one side to deflect the flames away from your Rosemary leaves.

Grill everything for three to five minutes on each side, then when you think it’s done, pour yourself a club soda or a nice cocktail, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Regards Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fried Dill Pickles

More Weird Stuff From My Life

Pat and I have become friends with many of our neighbors that have been coming down here to St. simons Island on vacation for most of the past thirty years or so. Many are the children or other relatives of the original owners of the condos we live in, so many people that we end up hanging out with at the pool basically grew up here in the summers and holidays.

We’re only spending our third summer here, but we're fortunate that we’ve been adopted into the “Sea Palms Colony Clan” and now they’re starting to make demands of me and my cooking talents.

I’ve already hosted a couple of what I call my “Drive By, Pool Side BBQ’s” over the past couple of years, and now some of the wives are starting to challenge me with specific recipes and dishes that they like, that they eat in the local restaurants, or that they otherwise enjoy.

Most recently, the topic at the pool has been something called “Fried Dill Pickles.”

Well, you know me and my big mouth…I said that it had to be easy, and when the dust settled I was forced to spend this evening figuring out how to fry a dill pickle—because I’ll be serving them poolside tomorrow afternoon.

It turns out that it really is easy, and after surfing the internet to look at some examples, here’s what I came up with to fry me some dill pickles this evening:

1 egg
½ cup of milk
1 tbsp Crystal hot sauce
½ tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp black pepper
½ tbsp flour

1 cup of flour

1 quart of dill pickle wedges

Enough oil (peanut, canola, or Crisco) to make a puddle ¾” deep

First things first…toss your oil into a deep skillet or a shallow boiler and crank up the heat on the stovetop so that you can get somewhere near 350 degrees F. Temperature is your friend here, so use a candy thermometer or whatever other appliance you have to check your oil temperature else you’ll have greasy, floppy, limp dill pickles.

As I understand it, women hate limp pickles…fried or otherwise…but I digress…

Next, beat your egg up real good in a medium mixing bowl, then add the milk and spices and stir it all up.

In a separate bowl, dump in your flour, and add a little salt and pepper if you want to. I actually added a little cayenne pepper just to add a little Emeril style “bam” to the mixture.

Once your oil has heated, dredge your pickle wedges in the flour, then into the egg/milk mixture, then back into the flour, then do it all over again. Build yourself a nice thick coating of batter on the outside of your pickles.

Now toss them into the oil a half dozen at the time, and watch them sizzle away, turning them once or twice until they are golden brown. Lay them in groups on a stack of paper towels on a plate on the side to drain and cool.

Sprinkle a little salt and cayenne pepper over them, maybe make a horseradish sauce or mustard sauce for dipping, and step out of the way of the stampede because THESE THINGS ARE TASTY.

I can hardly wait to put my cooking where my mouth is tomorrow afternoon.


Regards y’all

The Redneck Gourmet

Monday, June 19, 2006

Moroccan Chicken With Apricot Couscous and Olive Tapenade


Live From Cassablanca...


I’ve always been fascinated with the Northern African country of Morocco. Forget places like London, Paris, and Rome; if I had the time and money I’d head straight to Portugal, and then when I was through drinking all of the Port wine I could consume I would catch a commuter plane or ship and head down to Casablanca.

Then I’d hang out with all the other Bogart and Bergman fans at “Ricks” sipping Sherry & Cognac while listening to Sam’s replacement pianist “playing it again.”

Unfortunately, since Morocco is something like 97% Muslim, I think it best to keep my white Redneck butt here stateside for the time being.

Not to worry, however, because I can always cook Moroccan food here at home and pretend that I’m looking out at the Mediterranean or far side of the Atlantic. I’ve done it three times recently, and I think that I have the process down to an art now.

Take a look at this recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Apricot Couscous and Green Olive Sauce in Flatbread.

I cooked my own version again last week, and let me tell you—I ate more at one sitting that I have in months if not years. The whole condo smells like a Moroccan Bazzar (without the camel dung) from the unique aroma of the spices involved.

Here's what you need to do to make dinner for two. First I made up a big batch of the spice blend which includes:

2 tsp Cinnamon
24 Whole Cloves
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
6 tsp Cumin seed
3 tsp Fennel seed
3 tsp Coriander
3 tbsp Sweet paprika
4 tsp Kosher salt
3 tsp Brown sugar

Two boneless chicken breasts (or one breast per person if you’re having friends over)

A couple cloves of garlic, diced fine
1 lemon, quartered
A hand full of fresh cilantro, stemmed
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive oil

1 cup of couscous
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
½ cup diced dried apricots
¼ cup toasted almond slices
2 hands full of fresh mint leaves
2 hands full of fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 green onions—green parts only, diced
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


For the Olive Tepenade you need:

1 small can of green olives
1 small can of black olives
½ shallot, diced fine
1 handfull fresh parsley
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
olive oil

A Bag of Pita Bread


First things first…put all of your spices (everything but the salt and brown sugar) in a skillet and heat it up to bring out the oils. Next add the salt and brown sugar and run everything through a spice mill or food processor to grind it up.

Instead of a whole chicken, I took some boneless chicken breasts and coated them with the spice mixture, then wrapped them up around lemon wedges, diced garlic, and cilantro; then pinned them together with toothpicks and baked them in a 350 degree oven for about twenty minutes (until the inside temperature was 155 degrees F.)

While you’re waiting on the chicken to cook, make the couscous by bringing your chicken stock to a boil, then turn off the heat and add your couscous. Let it sit about 15 minutes, then dice up your apricots, almonds, mint, cilantro, and green onions, and stir them into your couscous with a fork.

Make the Olive Tapenade by dicing your Shallots and parsley, then add them along with the sherry, rice vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil to your food processor. Now puree it until it is smooth, smooth, smooth, adding your olive oil to assist the process.

Now put your chicken on a plate, toss a helping of couscous on the side, spoon some Olive Tapenade on your pita bread, sit down at the table, and EAT.

Regards Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cinco de Mayo—Phase II

Breaking The Silence…


Hello…It’s me, your lovely and talented blog proprietor, breathlessly jumping back onto the keyboard here after nearly a month of absence from the Redneck Gourmet.

Don’t worry, nothing’s been wrong—I’ve just been busy taking care of some family business, participating in some non-cooking artistic endeavors, and cooking reruns…

most recently--MEXICAN Reruns…

About 60 hours from now I have to have 7 pounds of pork roast, 10 pounds of chicken breasts, 5 pounds of beef roast, and 5 pounds of flounder and Tilapia cooked and transformed into Beef, Pork, and Chicken Tamales; fancy Baja Style chicken and fish soft tacos; not to mention the Mexican rice and black beans and guacamole and four Key lime pies and salsa and the presentation details that have yet to be worked out.

All I have to say is…

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH

There are at least thirty people that are going to be standing around on Saturday night with nothing to eat unless I can manage to pull all of this stuff together. Space in the Fridge and on the stovetop is at a premium for the next two days.

Wish me luck.

Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin—Phase II

Here…Try This…


I love stuffing myself with different kinds of “stuffed” food.

Things like Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells, Spicy Stuffed Blue Cheese Burgers, and Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts, are already in the archives here at The Redneck Gourmet.

Back in January when I first wrote about Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, I thought that I had a good recipe.

I was wrong, because this recipe, produced last evening out of our pantry and new refrigerator, is MUCH better.

Take a look at what I did…

The ingredients:

1 large chunk of pork tenderloin (about 2/3 to 3/4 pound) triple butterflyed

a splash of olive oil
½ granny smith apple, pealed and cut into ¼” cubes
¼ cup rasins
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
¾ cup plain bread crumbs
2 strips bacon

¼ cup of chicken stock

And now, the procedure:

Marinade your pork tenderloin in your favorite combination of fluids for at least a half hour. I used orange juice, balsamic vinegar, and a little olive oil.

Toss your olive oil, raisins, apricots, and apple cubes into a heavy skillet over medium low heat. Once things start simmering, push the fruit to the side and add your two bacon strips.

Meanwhile, while your bacon is cooking, pull your tenderloin out of the marinade onto the cutting board and butterfly it—slice it out into a ½” to ¾” thick continuous slab of meat. The Butterfly process isn’t rocket science, but a good sharp knife and practice makes things easier.

Cook the bacon until it is done, but not crispy, then turn off the heat to the skillet, pull the bacon out onto a plate on the side to drain, and add your bread crumbs to the remaining contents of the skillet.

By the way, you can adjust the amount of bread crumbs that you use to get a moist mixture that will clump together, and you can spoon out some of the grease from the skillet before you add the bread crumbs if you are watching your health and waistline. (Since I have a death wish am a good southerner, I left ALL of my grease in the skillet.)

Lay your bacon strips out parallel to each other along the top of the tenderloin, and after your skillet miixture has cooled a little so you don’t burn yourself, spoon it out on top of the bacon onto the tenderloin in a nice even layer.

Now carefully roll up the tenderloin around the stuffing mixture into a spiral, sort of like a cinnamon roll. Secure your stuffed tenderloin with bamboo skewers or tie it up with butchers twine, and pack any of the stuffing that tries to leak out and get away from you back into the sides of the rolled up package.

Pour yourself a nice glass of wine while your oven preheats to 375 degrees F.

Don't get impatient, because you’re in the home stretch now—place your tenderloin in a shallow, greased, casserole dish, pop it into the oven, and cook it until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F (about 30 minutes in my oven.)

Heat up some frozen vegetables on the stovetop while you’re waiting, or toss some cut up red potatoes in the casserole dish beside the tenderloin like I did.

Once your pork is at 160 degrees, pull it out of the oven and place it on your cutting board to rest for five or ten minutes. Put your plates into the oven to warm.

When your pork is done resting, slice it into ¾” to 1” thick slices, toss it onto your warmed plates on chargers, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.


Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Friday, March 31, 2006

Scallop Piccata

An Improvised Dish of Celebration


I'm pleased to report that, after a month in refrigerator induced "Appliance Hell," our lives are back to normal again.

Actually, things are better than normal, because we now have a shiny new 28 cubic foot side-by-side fridge sitting where the old piece of crap old one formerly resided.

I stood by here as long as I could today waiting on the old fridge to be removed, but I had to leave to run errands late this afternoon, and when I returned it was gone.

Hallelujah

Praise Allah

Amen Brothers & Sisters

Even though there are only two people in our household, our fridge is a VERY important part of our kitchen. I cook dinner five or six nights each week, prepare breakfast one or two days, and do a hot lunch two or three days each week.

I mean real cooking--not Hamburger Helper.

I was extremely concerned that we were going to lose $800 worth of frozen food and ingredients/condiments if we didn't get things straightened out, not to mention the added cost of eating out in the mean time.

Don’t get me wrong here—I love eating out, but the quality of MY food cooked at home generally exceeds that of all but the best restaurants here on the island.

In a restaurant, an equivalent dinner to that served at my house would cost you $15 to $20 each, without drinks, almost every single night.

Any way, it all worked out when it was all said and done.

I celebrated the arrival of our new appliance by stopping by the grocery store to buy some giant Sea Scallops and a big bag of baby Spinach, and when I got home I improvised a dish that I call Scallops Piccata. (It was based on my Chicken and Veal Piccata recipe.)

Try it out when you have the time (the quantities are for dinner for two):

Six Sea Scallops
2 tbsp lemon juice
Six strips of thick cut bacon
1 large bag of baby Spinach

8 oz (1/2 pack) Angle Hair pasta

1 cup white wine
¼ cup of Capers
1 clove of garlic, diced fine
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup of Chicken stock
¼ stick of unsalted butter


First things first…

Since Scallops spend their time lying around on the bottom of the ocean in the sand, they are understandably…SANDY.

I don’t know about you, but since I don’t like gritty food, I recommend that you rinse those suckers, then rinse them again, and Again, and AGAIN, and when you’re done rinsing—toss them into a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.

Now let your Scallops swim around in the lemon juice in the fridge for a couple of hours if you have the time, thirty minutes as a minimum.

When you’re ready to start cooking, fire up your charcoal grill. (If you are a gas grill weenie, you can wait a few minutes and save your precious propane if you want to)

Next, heat up a large, heavy skillet on the stove top and cook your bacon strips until they are at least half way done. I like my bacon crispy, so I cooked it pretty well. (Save a little juicy fat on each strip for cooking on the grill.)

After you pull your bacon strips out, let them drain and cool on some paper towels on the side. Spoon any extra grease that you don’t want to eat out of the skillet. Being a good southerner, I left my bacon grease in the skillet.

Deglaze the skillet by pouring in the white wine and chicken stock, scraping the bottom with a spatula to remove any juicy bits.

Now add your capers and lemon juice and turn things down to a slow simmer.

Take your bacon strips and wrap one around each scallop, securing it with a couple of toothpicks.

Is your grill hot now?

No?

Well, then heat that sucker up…

then toss your bacon wrapped scallops on the grill and cook them on each side for eight or so minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Put your Angel Hair pasta in a boiler of lightly salted water with a little butter or olive oil. Be careful not to overcook it, it only needs about three or four minutes because it’s so fine.

Put your plates in the oven to warm.

Meanwhile, back at the skillet, when your scallops are almost done, open your bag of baby Spinach and dump it in on top of your sauce.

Stir, stir, stir…you want the spinach to wilt.

Now comes the fun part…plating it all up.

Put your warm plates on chargers, pile half your drained pasta on each plate, spoon out the wilted spinach on the pasta, and top with three grilled bacon wrapped scallops.

Pour your wine/caper sauce over the top of everything. Doesn't that look nice?

Well then, sit down at the table, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Try not to pass out before you push back from the table…


Enjoy Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Strawberry Key Lime Pie

Don’t Anyone Get Between Me And My Key Lime Juice


Did you know that you can make a WHOLE Key Lime Pie in less than 30 minutes?

Did you know that you can make a WHOLE Key Lime Pie for about $6.00?

Further, if you are a cheep-skate like me and you don't mind making your own pie crust, did you know that you can cut the cost down to about $4.50.

That said, does anyone but me wonder why the heck a slice of Key Lime Pie costs you $5.00 in most restaurants?

Maybe they have to send someone to fly each day down to Key West and pick their own little Key limes and escort them back to their kitchen or something. That could explain the cost.

And why are these expensive pie slices colored GREEN?

The natural color of a Key Lime Pie comes out pale yellow when I make one.

Is the green color the result of radioactivity, or possibly food coloring?

Then again, maybe the high cost is due to labor.

I know from personal experience that juicing those little suckers (key limes) requires the patience of Job. The seeds are tiny and almost impossible to pick out of the juice without a fine mesh strainer, and it takes over a dozen of the little suckers to get an entire pie’s worth of juice.

I gave up juicing little limes last year once I found out that I could drive over to the grocery store and buy a bottle of Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice.

This stuff is WONDERFUL.

One 16 fluid ounce bottle is said to contain the juice of at least 26 key limes. Based on my experience, it seems more like about 4 dozen of the tiny, tart citrus fruits.

Any way, I got bored last week and started thinking about doing something a little different with Key Lime Juice, and as usual—a trip to the grocery store was the answer.

What I found was that they are practically giving away Florida strawberries right now, so I bought two big packages of berries along with some other stuff, and a new form of Key Lime Pie resulted.

This recipe is EXTREMELY simple, so don’t blink your eyes or you’ll miss it.

All you need are these Ingrediants:

½ cup of Key Lime Juice
(1) 14 oz can Eaglebrand Sweetened Condensed Milk
(3) egg yolks
(1) cup pureed strawberries (drained well)

Sliced strawberrys and/or sliced kiwi fruit for garnish
A few leafs of fresh mint for garnish

(1) 8” or 9” pie crust (I used a Nabisco “Nilla” Pie crust)


You ready to make a pie now?

Fire up your oven and set the temperature at 350 degrees F. Stir everything together, dump it into the pie crust, and bake for 20 minutes.

How simple is that?

Chill your pie for a few hours, slice it up, put it on chilled plates, and garnish it with the sliced strawberries, kiwi, and mint sprigs. Now grab yourself a fork and EAT!


Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tiramisu

Almost Better Than Sex…

Well folks, I pleased to announce that I developed two new dishes for this year’s Valentine’s Day extravaganza at our house—and my efforts included a true “Redneck Gourmet” dinner last night consisting of Baked Eggplant Parmesan and a dessert called Tiramisu. Unfortunately I got so busy cooking the Eggplant dish that I completely forgot the Balsamic Vinegar dressed salad, but who noticed…??

I’m taking the liberty of cross posting the Tiramisu recipe that I improvised on my other blog, What I'd Liked To Have Said. The results were awesome, if I do say so myself. My only problem will be reproducing my results again with any consistency, but I’m gonna give it my best shot in the future.

And now…as to the ingredients:

For the coffee sauce:

1-1/2 to 2 cups strong, Strong, STRONG Coffee (make it double what you drink)
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp Kahlua liqueur
2 tbsp Grand Mariner liqueur

For the Zabaglione filling (it’s basically a custard):

4 egg yolks
½ cup of sugar
½ cup Marsala Wine
(2) 8 OZ containers of room temperature Mascarpone Cheese
(1) cup heavy whipping crème

And Finally:

About 4 dozen ladyfingers
Bittersweet coco powder
Small block of semi-sweet dark chocolate

This looks tougher than it really is, just be patient, stay organized, and get ready to dirty up virtually every mixing bowl in your kitchen.

First you make your coffee. As I said in the recipe listing—STRONG coffee—even Espresso if you have a machine. Make the coffee ahead of time, stir in the sugar, and then let it cool off to room temperature. Now add your Kahlua and Grand Mariner. Dump the cooled mixture in a medium saucer or appropriately sized mixing bowl for later use.

Meanwhile your Mascarpone Cheese and your eggs should be sitting around on the countertop coming up to room temperature.

Crack your eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Some Tiramisu recipes call for whipping up the whites and including them in the Zabaglione filling, but being the wasteful bastard that I am I just tossed my egg whites down the drain. I’m such a pig…

The egg yolks end up on the stovetop in a double boiler over medium heat. Ideally the water in the lower boiler doesn’t touch the bottom of the upper boiler. The idea is to whisk the egg yolks until they are nice and frothy, then add the ½ cup of sugar and the Marsela wine and keep whisking and cooking the mixture over the steam until it thickens, about 10 minutes on my stove.

When you have a minute you can take a spatula and mush up your Mascarpone Cheese in a large mixing bowl, and you need to beat your whipping cream with an electric mixer in YET ANOTHER MIXING BOWL until it forms stiff peaks.

Don’t worry too much, because you are NOW through dirtying up bowls and pots by now (I actually still had a dozen or so clean ones waiting in the wings if I needed them…), except for the 9” x 13” Pyrex dish that you are going to use to put the desert together in.

By now you should have one bowl of room temperature coffee, one bowl of well whipped “whipping crème”, and one bowl of Zabaglione filling.

Is that what you have? If not, step back from the stove and figure out where you went wrong.

After the Zabaglione filling has cooled off a bit, dump it into the bowl with the mascarpone cheese and mix it all up with the electric mixer.

Now “fold” your whipped crème into the mixture. By folding I mean not beating it with the mixer, just stir it up enough to combine it and get a uniform consistency. Don’t beat it to death or you will cause the crème to collapse.

Now comes the fun part—putting it all together.

One at a time, lightly dip both sides of your lady fingers into the coffee mixture, then neatly position ½ of them in the 9” x 13” pyrex dish to form a uniform single layer. Next you spoon ½ of your filling over the layer of ladyfingers and smooth it out. Now repeat the process with another full layer of ladyfingers, and top it all off with the rest of your filling mixture.

Smooth it out real nice and pretty.

Cover it with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours (mine sat overnight.)

When you are ready to serve your Tiramisu, pull it out of the fridge, sprinkle the coco powder evenly over the top, and shave some of the bittersweet chocolate into “curls” with a vegetable peeler (it helps if you refrigerate the chocolate block for a half hour before cutting your “curls.”)

Now cut out a couple of generous portions for yourself and your significant other, grab yourself a fork, and eat!

Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Moussaka -- Re-cooked

(Without the Moose or the Mouse)

This was the very first recipe posting I made to The Redneck Gourmet back in November of 2004. I have cooked this Greek eggplant standard—Moussaka—a half dozen times since and through experimentation I’ve learned what to do, and by default—what not to do. I believe that I have it figgured out.

I cooked another 9x13 casserole dish full for dinner last night, and it was excellent, if I do say so myself. I will reiterate my opinion that the key to this dish, in addition to good basic ingredients, is that you must get the spice mixture right to make it taste like “Greek” Moussaka.

You don’t want to end up cooking a dish of something that tastes like Italian eggplant lasagna, YOU WANT TO COOK GREEK MOUSSAKA!

So without further fanfare, on to the ingredients:

3 small eggplants
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 cup button mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, diced fine
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ pint sherry

3/4 LB Chopped Lamb
1/2 LB lean ground beef

1 can (8 oz) pureed tomatoes
1 can (8oz) diced tomatoes

½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp red pepper
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt

1 cup un-seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup crumbled Feta Cheese

For the Béchamel Sauce Topping:

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp flour
1-1/4 cup scalded milk
2 eggs
1/8 tsp red pepper
¼ tsp salt

It looks like a lot of ingredients, doesn’t it?

Well...don’t get all nervous and scared, here is what you need to do—just take it one step at a time:

First, peal and slice the eggplant into 1/8” pieces. Now soak the eggplant in cold salted ice water for at least one hour--Mine soaked for about three, and you can change the water once if you want to.

Redneck Tip: Weight the eggplant slices with a couple of saucers or plates (whatever will fit in your water bowl) to ensure that all of the slices stay submerged under the water.

Peal and cut your carrot into thin slices.

For the meat sauce, in a large deep skillet or sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook your onion until it is clear, then add your garlic and cook, stirring regularly.

Redneck Tip: Don’t burn your garlic or you’ll have to start over.

Add the chopped lamb and ground beef and cook it all until it is browned. Tilt your skillet over and spoon out as much grease as you want. I use a turkey baster for this task.

Next add the tomato puree and diced tomatoes, carrots, and mushrooms, along with the allspice, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt and red pepper.

Add the ¼ pint of sherry and enough water or beef stock to thin it out a little (I used about a cup of water this time.)

Redneck Tip: Don’t attempt to do the rest of the ½ pint bottle of Sherry as a shot. You’ll end up burning up your Moussaka and dancing by yourself while watching TV and eating a bag of corn chips for dinner.

Bring your meat sauce to a nice simmer, and cook for 20 minutes or so until it is reduced to a nice consistency. You want it to still be juicy, but not really runny.

Meanwhile, back to that delicious eggplant. Pour off the water through a colander.

Redneck tip: Remove the weights first, duuh…

Turn all of the eggplant pieces up on edge in the colander and separate them as you can so that all of the water drains out. You don’t want soggy eggplant for the next step.

Redneck Tip: Guys, you might want to put on a shirt when you start frying the eggplant, particularly if it is wet, because it will pop a good deal and you risk burning your beer belly if you stand too close to the skillet (Ladies, I assume you were already wearing a shirt.)

Fry the eggplant slices in a skillet in about ¼” of vegetable oil over medium heat until tender. Drain the slices, once they are cooked, on lots of paper towels. Don’t skimp on the paper towels, you want to get as much grease out of the eggplant as is possible.

The Bechamel sauce is made as follows. Pay attention…

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium low heat. Now add your flour, a tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. In another small pot, scald your milk, then turn down the heat and keep warm.

Redneck tip: For all of you Cajuns out there, we’re making a roux.

Keep adding the flour a little bit at a time until the roux is thick, but don’t cook it until it is brown. Add the warm milk a little at a time, again stirring constantly with a whisk. After the milk is added, bring the whole thing to a low boil and cook until it thickens to the consistency of a medium gravy. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

In a separate bowl (or a coffee cup), beat the eggs until smooth. Slowly add a little of the cooled sauce to the eggs so as to not “scramble them.” Add the warmed egg/sauce mixture to the balance of the sauce, add the red pepper, cinnamon, and salt to taste. Turn off heat and continue to stir to blend.

Putting it all together:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle a few tablespoons of bread crumbs into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 Pyrex dish.

Layer one half of the eggplant on the bottom of the dish. Pour half of the meat sauce mixture on top of the eggplant and smooth it out evenly.

Layer the rest of the eggplant slices and sprinkle with another couple of tablespoons of bread crumbs, half of the grated parmesan cheese and all of the Feta cheese. Add the balance of the meat sauce mixture and smooth out evenly. Sprinkle with the rest of the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

Pour the Bechamel sauce over the top of the dish and smooth it out nice and evenly.

Be patient...you're on the home stretch now…place your finished dish of Moussaka into the 350 degree oven and cook it for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

After it's done like you like, you'll have to wait to allow the Moussaka to cool and rest for 15 minutes, then slice it into squares, and serve with your favorite red wine and bread.

Now grab yourself a fork and napkin, sit down at your dinner table or in the floor at the coffee table in front of the TV and EAT!

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Chili

Yeeeeeeeeeeee Haaaaaaaaaaaa

I guess almost everyone has their own favorite recipe for Chili.

I said ALMOST EVERYONE…

If you don’t have your personal favorite recipe (because you don’t cook), then I suspect that at least you know SOMEONE that does have one—a favorite Chili Recipe, that is.

Well, I have a confession…

I haven’t cooked Chili before (gasp…)

Never Ever…

But…

I had some ground beef that I bought on sale at the grocer yesterday, and as a result, Pat suggested that I make Chili for dinner.

So I did.

I pulled some Chili together this afternoon and after about three hours of simmering it came out GREAT, so I decided to do something that I rarely do—I’m writing it up after my first time cooking it.

Here is what you will need to make my Chili:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced fine
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tbsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp ground red pepper
¼ tbsp black pepper
¼ tbsp white pepper


1-1/4 pound lean ground beef

(1) 12 oz can beer
(1) 14 oz can beef stock

(1) 28 oz can of Pureed Tomatoes
(1) 28 oz can of Diced Tomatoes
(2) 15 oz cans tomato sauce
(2) 15.5 oz cans dark red kidney beans, drained
(1) 15.5 oz cans Navy beans, drained


Ninety Nine percent of your work is done in the first twenty minutes, so pay attention here to what I say, get your prep work done, get it all cooking together, then grab yourself a beer or a Coke Cola and laze around while your Chili finishes making itself.

Put your olive oil into the bottom of a large, heavy boiler over medium heat. Add your diced onion, and cook it for five minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Next add your diced garlic and your spices (cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, etc.) and keep stirring for another couple of minutes.

Now add your ground beef and break it up so that it cooks well.

When your ground beef is nicely browned, tilt your boiler over and spoon out some of the fat and oil if you want to. You can even pour your beef/onion/garlic mixture through a colander if you want to or, if you love fat like I do, you can just leave it in and keep cooking.

Now turn the heat down a little and add your beer. Watch it foam.

Once the mixture stops foaming up, add the beef stock, the pureed tomatoes, the diced tomatoes, and the tomato sauce.

Stir, stir, stir.

Doesn’t that look yummy?

Just wait until you add your can of navy beans and your two cans of dark red kidney beans.

Still looks yummy?

Taste it, being careful to not burn your tongue or the roof of your mouth.

Does it need anything?

Well, then add it silly…it’s your chili.

Now turn your heat down to medium low, prop a lid on the boiler slightly open, and stop back by every fifteen minutes to give it all a good stir and supervise its progress.

When you a satisfied with your chili (give it at least a couple of hours--or until you can’t wait any longer), grab yourself a bowl, a piece of cornbread, a big old spoon, and sit down at the table and EAT.

Regards Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet

Monday, January 09, 2006

Baked Ziti

Dinner For Eight


Happy New Year everybody!

It’s your lovely and talented cooking blogger, The Redneck Gourmet, back here on the keyboard with my first recipe of 2006—Baked Ziti.

We had five family guests and our 85 year old neighbor, Mr. Harlan “Bucky” Strader (Dartmouth class of 1942), up here in the Condo last Friday night for dinner, and at Pat’s suggestion I tossed together a simple buffet style meal consisting of some fresh Sundried Tomato Basil bread from our local grocer’s Deli, an organic mixed green salad, and, of course, the baked Ziti.

Don’t be afraid, because Ziti, simply put, is just a big fat tubular shaped pasta noodle, about 2” long and 3/8” in diameter. Baked Ziti, therefore, is almost like baked lasagna (the familiar flat form of pasta.)

Here’s what you will need to make dinner for eight, with leftovers if everyone doesn't eat like a pig:

(2) pounds of dry Ziti noodles
(2) 8 oz containers of Ricotta cheese
(2) 12 oz packages of shredded Mozzarella cheese

For the Sauce:

(4) tbsp good olive oil
½ large onion, diced fine (or as much as you like, it’s your sauce)
(2) cloves of garlic, diced fine

1 tbsp dried Oregano
1 tbsp dried Parsley
1 tbsp dried Thyme
1 tbsp dried Basil (or fresh if you have it)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper

(1) 14 oz can beef broth
(1) 14 oz can chicken broth
(3) 28 oz cans pureed tomatoes
(2) 7 oz cans tomato paste
(3) 6 oz cans portabella mushroom pieces

½ pound ground pork


Here we go…

Dump the olive oil into the bottom of a large, heavy boiler over medium heat, then toss in your diced onion and let it cook for a couple of five or six minutes before you add your garlic.

Keep cooking for ten minutes or so, being careful not to burn anything.

Now add your spices—Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, and Basil. Stir the mixture up and let the oil and juices activate the flavor in the spices.

Doesn’t that smell good?

Now dump in your can of beef stock and scrape the bottom of the boiler to get all of the bits suspended in your liquid. Add the pureed tomatoes and tomato paste, and reduce your heat to medium low.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, brown your ground pork and spoon off any extra fat that cooks out of your meat. (My pork was surprisingly lean, so I just ignored this step.)

Once the pork is browned, add it to your sauce mixture along with half the can of Chicken broth and the Portabella Mushrooms, toss a lid on the boiler, and let everything simmer for a couple of hours.

Watch your temperature and stop by to stir your sauce every fifteen minutes or so. Try not to enjoy the aroma too much…and if things get too thick too fast, add the other half can of chicken broth.

My sauce cooked for almost three hours by the time I was ready to finally put the dish together, then I cooked my Ziti in some lightly salted water according to the package directions (about 10 minutes.)

Drain your Ziti through a colander, then coat two 9”x13” casserole dish with Pam cooking spray or olive oil.

Now comes the fun part, putting it all together…preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Spoon a thin layer of your tomato sauce into the bottom of your casserole dishes, and then spread ½ of your ziti noodles on top. Now divide your Ricotta cheese in half and spread it over the noodles. Sprinkle half of your Mozzarella cheese on top of the Ricotta.

Add another layer of Ziti noodles, another layer of tomato sauce, and top everything off with the rest of the Mozzarella cheese.

Step back from the counter and admire your work.

Doesn’t that look nice?

Mine did…

Pop the dishes into the oven for 30 minutes until it’s all nice and bubbly, then put your plates on the table, grab yourself a fork and EAT.

Regards Y’all

The Redneck Gourmet

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I'd like to say Merry Christmas to all of my regular readers (OK...Both of my regular readers--my Mother and Allison.)

To the rest of you that are just stopping by for the first time or stop by occasionally, I offer the same greeting to you.

I also offer the following advice:

Cook something new today.

Try something different.

Make something unique.

Take a chance...

heck, if you can't use you own family as Guinea Pigs, who can you use?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Seafood Dip

“it doesn’t taste like kitty food”

We’ve attended a wonderful series of holiday parties this past week—some in private homes, and one put on by the owner of our favorite restaurant, “The Blackwater Grill.”

Since we weren’t sponsoring a party ourselves this year here in the old condo, we volunteered to cook up some vittles to augment the spread of food at a party put on by our neighbors Bruce and Ski.

Pat made two variations on her Chicken Salad, and I surprised myself with a cream cheese based seafood dip that exceeded my own pompous expectations.

Here’s what your need to do to make a very good, but somewhat tedious seafood dip:

(3) 8 ounce packages of cream cheese.
½ cup lite mayo
½ pound fresh or frozen shrimp
1 pound snow crab clusters
3 green onions, diced fine
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp paprika
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

For the cocktail sauce:

2/3 cup catsup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce

Redneck Tip: Almost all of the recipes on the internet call for the use of canned shrimp. You can use canned shrimp if you want to—it’s your dip—but you might as well be using cat food in your dip, in my considered Redneck opinion. At least use good frozen shrimp, and fresh shrimp if you can get them, it makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the flavor. I’ve tried to eat this stuff at parties over the years and although I LOVE seafood, making a dip with cheep, crappy, canned shrimp makes me GAG.

First things first.

Toss your cream cheese out on the counter to let it warm up to room temperature, then cook your shrimp and crab.

You know, boil some water, toss in some salt and seasoning (red pepper, etc.) and cook for five to eight minutes or so until your shrimp turn pink and the shells on the crabs do likewise.

Pour your water and shellfish through a colander, let everything cool off so that you can handle it, then shell your shrimp and crab legs.

Redneck Tip: I know, I know, I know…it’s hard work, but believe me it is worth the effort. I used this opportunity to clean out our freezer of some larger stronger flavored shrimp that Pat didn’t like in pasta dishes and some crab legs that had developed a bad case of ice crystals inside the plastic storage bag. The results were fabulous...

Dice up your shrimp and crab parts into ¼ inch pieces. Once you have a bowl full of little seafood parts, drizzle your lemon juice over everything and sprinkle with paprika and Worcestershire sauce.

In a mixing bowl, toss in the cream cheese, mayo, and green onions and mash everything up good with a fork or a dough cutter. Next add your seafood parts and keep mixing. Use your fingers if your dare.

When you are satisfied with your mix, dump the whole thing out on a platter or a plate and shape it into a big symmetrical “dome.”

Cover it with saran wrap, then place it in the fridge for a couple of hours (mine sat overnight.)

Whip up the cocktail sauce in a mixing bowl, then pour it over the top of your dip when you are ready to serve it. Surround it with some Captains wafers and other crackers, toss it out in front of your guests, and EAT.

Regards Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

Stuffed Cabbage

Talk about somebody being in a rut. That’s where my cooking has been this past month.

Don’t get me wrong here—I’ve been producing a bunch of good food, I’ve just mainly been cooking my standard recipes and haven’t felt that I had anything really interesting to write about.

Fortunately for me and the Blog, I’ve got a couple of new things worked up now and the first one I want to introduce is last evening’s dinner entrée—Stuffed Cabbage.

My girl Pat grew up cooking and eating Stuffed Cabbage while I only used cabbage for coleslaw, but we still spent some time looking around on the internet and we ended up making a few modifications and combining some ideas we found. I might have a little fine tuning to do on the quantities, but I feel the necessity to get something published here on the blog so here goes…To make our Stuffed Cabbage, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Two medium heads of cabbage

For the sweet and sour tomato sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic—smashed and minced
2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
6 8 oz cans unseasoned tomato sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried parsley
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

For the meat filling:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic—smashed and minced
½ yellow onion--diced
1-1/2 lbs ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1-1/2 cups instant rice
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 can tomato paste
2 tbsp red wine

First you make a sweet & sour tomato sauce. Add the olive oil to a large boiler over medium heat. Add your garlic and sautee for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it. Meanwhile, dump your whole tomatoes into a mixing bowl and break them up with your fingers or a fork.

Add the mashed up tomatoes and the tomato sauce to the garlic in the boiler and turn the heat down a little. Now add the vinegar, the sugar, the parsley, and a little salt and pepper and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes (my sauce cooked a couple of hours.)

Place your ground beef and pork in a large mixing bowl, add your instant rice, and stir everything together well.

In a large skillet, sautee your diced onion in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. After a few minutes, add the minced garlic. Once the onions and garlic have cooked (5 minutes or so), add the tomato paste, splash in the red wine, and the parsley. Turn off the heat.

When you’re happy with your sauces, peel the crappy outside leaves off your cabbage and discard them. Put the cabbages in a couple of large boilers and cover each head with water. Bring them to a low boil. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and let your cabbage coast for a few minutes, then dump out the hot water and add cold water to stop them from cooking.

Once they have cooled off so that you can handle them, carefully peal the leaves off each head and make a nice pile of leaves ready for stuffing.

Now add the contents of the skillet (onions, garlic, tomato paste, etc.) to the meat in the mixing bowl. Mix well with a spoon or your hands.

Spray two 9x13 Pyrex dishes with non-stick spray. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Now the fun part. Take a knife and slice the big rib out of the middle of each cabbage leaf, then spoon two or three (or four) spoonfuls of the meat mixture into the leaf and roll it up real tight. Place your stuffed cabbage leaves in uniform rows in the dishes. Use your good judgment as to the number of leaves and the quantity of meat to put in each leaf.

Once you have a couple of dishes full of stuffed leaves, pour your tomato sauce over the top of everything and smooth it out with your spoon. Cover each dish with aluminum foil and pop them in the oven for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Start checking how done things are after about an hour in the oven. Then pull your cabbages out, let them cool a little, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

Regards Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet