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 entrĂ©e—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