Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brenda Cook's Collard Greens

This is what I love. A true family recipe with no specific measurements that takes talent and skill to make. Robby had these collard greens at work during a Thanksgiving party and came home declaring their greatness. Since I have never been a collard greens expert I consulted one. Here is the recipe just as she sent to to me. So try it out and with some practice maybe we can all become experts.

Here are the ingredients and I’m really sorry but it’s “to taste” and I don’t have specific measurements per se.

I use smoked turkey legs or wings which I boil with about ½ of a large onion until the meat is nearly falling off the bone.

I roll and cut and then wash the greens. It seems quicker and easier to clean once they are cut this way.

I put the greens in a large pot along with the liquid from the turkey and the reminder of the onion and more depending on your tastes and cook on a medium heat setting.

I add a mixture of the following:

-McCormick’s Monterey Steak Seasoning (sounds weird but I use it on almost everything meat or vegetable).

-If you have it, use some Johnny’s seasoning salt. You can only find it at Safeway as far as I know. I didn’t have anymore and didn’t use it on the greens yesterday. It’s the best, much better than Lawry’s or whatever the other brand is.

-Garlic salt

-Garlic powder


-A pinch, maybe 2 of sugar if it seems like the greens are a bit bitter.

-Chicken broth. Start with maybe a half a cup and add more if you need a more flavor.

Sometimes I remove some of the liquid halfway through the cooking time. No reason to have half a pot of liquid. Then if they aren’t seasoned enough for you, add about ½ cup more of the chicken broth then more of the other seasonings.

Cook about an hour or more until done.

You have to be careful with the salts and the chicken broth. The liquid in the greens that you taste as they cook down will not be the same as what you get at the end. It could end up being too salty. By the time the greens are at least ¾ cooked, they should taste like you want them. If they’re too salty, remove some of the juice and add a little water. They should be just right by the end.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Football= Parmesan Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are not something that I usually cook, but with football season and a new budget in mind I found wings on sale and pulled out a few cookbooks.

A few weeks ago I tried a spicy wing recipe that was good but not a keeper recipe. This recipe came from a book called Best of the Best where Food and Wine magazine takes what they think are the best 25 cookbooks of the year and complies a few recipes from each book. I have a few years of these books and like most of them, however my cookbook shelf is overflowing so I went through the books I thought I could part with and put them aside. I am now going through those books and trying some of the recipes in each of them to make a final decision on which books to keep.

So the verdict on this recipe is that it is good but still not one that will make it into my favorites collection.

Parmesan Chicken Wings

from My Mother's Southern Entertaining

3 pounds chicken wings
1 cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tbls finely chopped parsley leaves
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp mild Hungarian paprika
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large, heavy baking sheet and set aside.

Disjoint the chicken wings and cut off and discard the tips. On a large plate or bowl, combine the cheese, parsley, tarragon, marjoram, paprika, salt and pepper, and cayenne and stir till well blended. Dip each chicken piece int o the melted butter, dredge lightly in the cheese mixture, tapping off and excess, place on the prepared baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and crispy, about 1 hour. Serve the wings hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

America's test Kitchen Baltimore Style- Beef

Last night was beef testing night. Robby, Aveline, and I headed over to Finn and Joanne's to begin our evaluation of three local beef farms. Finn and Joanne have been buying from Roseda Beef for a while and I have always been impressed with the steaks and burgers they have made for us. This year we are planning on going in on a cow with them. After some trouble we have managed to purchase and install an extra freezer in the basement for our cow. So in the interest of fairness I decided to give 2 other local beef farms a taste off against Roseda. So I headed to the farmer's market and got ground beef from Hickory Chance Farm and from Albright Farms

First Joanne shapped and weighed the patties to make them look uniform, she then labled the plates with a letter and handed them off to Robby. Robby then changed the letters to numbers and wrote down the changes. So this way no one knew which burger came from which farm.

Finn salted perfectly and then cook the burgers outside on the grill. Now for the taste test!

The votes were split down the middle. Robby and Joanne for Hickory Chance farm and Finn and I for Albright farms. Roseda was our least favorite.

Becuase the Roseda burger was frozen for almost a year and becuase we like eating beef with Finn and Joanne we are going to give all the farms another test and buy some steaks.
Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dinner- Sausage Winter Squash Casserole

After many days of rainy cold weather and a brave trip to the farmer's market I have managed to cook and now blog! I had sausage leftover from pizza night with Finn and Joanne on Friday and in an attempt to use the sausage in a non-Italian way (mostly to make Robby happy because I could eat Italian everyday) I made this great recipe. It is from the first ever Cook Book Club book The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.

The recipe was easy to follow, a variation on their Winter Squash Casserole recipe made to be a main dish. The squash can be a little intimidating but a $1 a squash from the farmer's market it is worth the guts it takes to peel. I put it in the boiling water for about 10 mins then peeled and sliced it into the casserole. There are plenty of leftovers so we will be enjoying this next week.

3.5 pounds winter squash, such as butternut, kabocha, or acorn
1 pound hot Italian sausage
5 tbls unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 tbls extra virgin-olive oil
2 large yellow onions chopped
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2.5 tsp minced fresh thyme
1/5 cup bread crumbs. preferably homemade, toasted
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or pecans, toasted
2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking dish or 4-quart casserole.

Place 3 quarts water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the squash to the water, return to a boil cook for 6 mins. Drain set aside and peel and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Cut Sausage on a bias into 1/2 inch pieces and cook until brown in a saute pan.

Melt the butter in the stockpot and add the oil. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat until translucent about 8 mins. Add the warm squash and buttermilk, eggs, sausage, thyme, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds, and 1 1/3 cups cheese. Blend with a wooden spoon or spatula until ingredients are well combined.

Spread mixture evenly in the baking dish. Bake for 45 mins. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds and 2/3 cup cheese over the casserole. bake for 15 more minutes, or until the pumpkin seeds turned brown and the cheese is bubbling and gently browning.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Cookbook Club Blog

Well it has finally been done, our very own Charm City Cookbook Club blogsite. My dear friends have created this wonderful site where we can all post our pictures and comments together about Cookbook Club. Check it out!

Monday, August 31, 2009

July Cook Book Club Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday

The Menu;
Homemade Guacamole- Elizabeth
Margarhitas- Alayne
Mushroom- Potato Crema with Roasted Poblanos- Joanne
Jicama Salad with Watercress Romaine and Lime-Cilantro Dressing- Julie
Chicken in Oaxacan Yellow Mole wioth Green Beans and Chayote- Elizabeth
Fresh corn Tortillas- Elizabeth
Skillet Fruit Crisp with Fresh Lime Ice- Renee

Monday, July 20, 2009

Soft-Shell Crab BLT

There is not much to say except this is a must. Find the small soft-shell crabs, get good bacon, and watch out for the splattering oil. You will be well rewarded with the perfect soft-shell crabs to eat on their own or if you want one of the best sandwiches possible.

Chicken-Fried Soft-Shell Crabs
Fish Without a Doubt, Rick & Moonen & Roy Finamore

For the Marinade
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3 tbls chopped fresh dill
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp chili paste

12 ("hotel") soft-shell crabs, cleaned
coarse salt and white pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
corn or peanut oil for frying

For the marinade: Combine the buttermilk, onion, scallions, dill, garlic, zest, and chili paste in a baking dish. Whisk or stir well.

Lay the crabs int he marinade, making sure you've got them completely coasted. Cover with plastic and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. The crabs will weep into the marinade; this is fine.

Remove the crabs from the marinade and season with salt and white pepper. Combine the flour and cornmeal and dip the crabs, patting to coat well. Lay them on a rack over a baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to set the coating.

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a heavy skillet (this is a good time to pull out your cast-iron pan) until very hot but not smoking. fry the crabs in batches for about 2 mins on the first side, then turn and fry for another minute. The crust should be golden. Be prepared: the crabs will spit when you fry them; a splatter screen will come in handy. Drain on paper towels, and serve with remoulade or tarter sauce.

To make the Soft-Shell Crab BLT

If your a BLT fan, get ready for something awesome. Spread some potato rolls or hamburger buns with butter and toast them on a griddle. Smear the rolls with tarter sauce or mayonnaise and build a sandwich with chicken-fried soft-shell crab, bacon, lettuce, tomato, sliced avocado, and a few grinds of the pepper mill.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cooking with Top Chef Finalist Carla Hall at l'Academie de Cuisine

It has been a long time since my last post, I sincerely apologise but I have been quite busy and in the next few day I hope to tell you about it all. First and most recently was last night's cooking class with Carla Hall. I have been assisting at L'Academie de Cuisine for a few months now and I was lucky enough to get chosen to assist Carla's class. It was fun, tasty, and I love hanging out with celebrity chefs.

I went to China! For two and a half weeks I wandered around Beijing ate great cheap food and even took a Hutong cooking class. More about all of this later, there is so much to tell.

And then there is my darling Cook Book Club or CBC as we are now calling it. There have been a few dinners since I last reported on them so I have to catch up. I am also working a complete list of all the books we have covered since our inception almost 2 years ago.

So after the long break I am back and ready to share. I will try to include all the fun food details from the past few months so please come on back for more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Smedly's of Baltmore

There is a fabulous local coffee house right down the street from me called Smedly's. Robby and I went there a few days ago not for the coffee but for the food and had a wonderful lunch. We played chess, ate great food, and had a kid free afternoon. It is exactly what you want in a locally owned and run shop, a laid back feel with some gourmet touches.
I had the chicken and Gnocchi with spinach. It was filling, inexpensive and when ordered with the chilled yerba drink made a perfect lunch. Yerba comes with an interesting story for me. I saw it for the first time on a Brazilian travel show on TV years ago it stuck in my mind and I thought it looked interesting. I then meet a friend's girlfriend for the first time a few weeks ago who is from Brazil and asked her about the drink not knowing that I just had it right down the street from my house! OK, maybe not that interesting but a coincidence none the less.

Robby had the the masala meatballs with toast. Very good and again a smart portion. Both of the dishes were a twist on classics that enabled us to see the chef's skills.

The atmosphere is comfortable entertaining. There is salvaged furniture with a modern twist. They have books to read, blackboards to draw on (for those who need to study) and games to play a little something for everyone.
And last but not least the dessert. Wonderful warmed cinnamon buns with walnuts. Homemade with love and care. I can't wait to go back and try some more of the special homemade dishes Smedly's has cooking.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring is here time to make salad...

Quinoa Salad with Vegetables and Tomatillo Vinaigrette
Cooking Light January/February 2005

3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbls fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tlbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp Champagne vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound tomatillos (about 4), husked and quartered
1/2 Serrano chili, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
dash fresh ground black pepper
3 cups water
2 cups uncooked quinoa (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
4 large radishes, halved and thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (2 oz) queso anejo, crumbled (or other fresh cheese)
2 tbls fresh chopped parsley

Place the first 10 ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Set aside.

Place 3 cups of water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with tomatillo mixture; stir well to combine. Cool.

Add cucumber, radish, and red pepper to cooled quinoa mixture; toss gently to combine. Divide salad among each of 6 plates; top evenly with cheese and parsley.

6 serving

311 calories per serving

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Brother and a Fish

My Brother and a Fish. It could be the title to a children's book but in this case it is not a tall tale. Last night my brother and his three friends joined me for dinner. We met at Whole Foods with a prepared grocery list and menu. They helped me shop and then we all cooked together. Our menu consisted of Grapefruit-Pomegranate Ceviche with Black Bass, Broiled Flounder with Arugula Pesto, Coconut Rice with Carrots, Baked Candied Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Spinach, and Lemon Madeleine's. Unfortunately, but maybe fortunately, Whole foods had neither of the fishes we were looking for so we went with a Turbot fillet and a Chilean Sea Bass Fillet. All in total a whole fish.

The plan was to use the sea bass for the Ceviche and the Turbot for the pesto but while I was preparing the Ceviche I unintentionally picked the Turbo. It was not a bad mistake because both the Ceviche and the broiled sea bass were wonderful. The Arugula pesto, made with no cheese, was perfect on this expensive but worth it fish, and the spinach, potatoes, and rice were perfect accompaniments.

The only thing that could have been better was the dessert. The recipe for Madeleines calls for cake flour which was nowhere to be found at Whole Foods. So I got pastry flour. If I was a better baker I probably would have known that it would not be the same but I went with what I had. They were OK, but I will be trying them again next Tuesday hopefully with more success.

Oh, and we drank the new Indaba Sauvignon Blanc with the Ceviche, and perfect match of fresh fruity, not too acidic items.
Broiled Fish with Arugula Pesto
Serves 4
Fish Without a Doubt

4 tbls unsalted butter, melted
4 (5- to 6-oz) Sea Bass Fillets
salt and white pepper
2 tsp grated lemon zest
4 heaping tablespoons Arugula Pesto
2 tsp dry bread crumbs
lemon wedges

Pu the butter in a soup plate or shallow bowel. Season the fish on both sides with salt and white pepper and then dip it into the butter.

Rub 1/2 tsp of the lemon zest into the top of the fish. Spread on a heaping tablespoon of the pesto, going not quite to the edges, and sprinkle on 1/2 tsp of the bread crumbs. Set the fillets on a greased baking sheet. *the fish can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator

Set the oven rack about 5 inches below the heat source and heat the broiler.

Slide the baking sheet under the broiler and broil the fish for about 3 minutes- a minute or so longer if you have refrigerated the fish. the topping should be browned and you'll see a little oil bubbling around the edges of the fish.

Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Arugula Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

1 garlic clove minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
6 oz Arugula, washed and dried
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a little more

Put the garlic and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until nuts are coursly chopped. Add arugula by the handful, pulsing after each addtion to make a paste. Then turn on the processor and add the oil in a steady stream. Season with salt.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Homade Cheese Blintzes with Homemade Berry Jam

Cheese Blintzes with Berry Jam
William- Sonoma- Essentials of Breakfast & Brunch

For the Blintzes
1 cup Flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tbls unsalted butter, melted
2 tbls unsalted butter, softened

For the filling
1 cup farmer cheese
1 cup whole milk or part skim ricotta cheese
2 tbls sugar
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 tsp unsalted butter
Berry Jam
Blueberries and blackberries for garnish

By hand: To make the blintz batter, in a bowl combine the flour and the salt. Add the eggs, the milk, and 3/4 cup water and whisk until smooth and blended. Add the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. (this can also be done in a food processor or blender)
To cook the blintzes, place a 9-inch frying pan with low sloping sides (or crepe pan) over medium high heat and heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle and the immediately evaporate. Brush with about 1/2 tsp of the softened butter. For each blintz ladle about 1/3 cup batter into the center of the pan, tilting the pan so that the batter forms a thin layer on the bottom. Cook until the edges begin to brown and the top of the blintz is set, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Using a wide spatula, carefully turn the blintz and cook for about 1 minute longer. Turn out onto a plate and repeat with the remaining butter and batter. Stack the blintzes on a plate, putting a piece of wax paper between each. The blintzes can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the farmer and ricotta cheeses, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla and stir until blended.

Spread about 2 tbls of the cheese filling in the center of each blintz. Fold the sides over the filling. Fold in the ends to enclose the filling. Serve with berries and jam on top.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Cloves

This Christmas I added a few cookbooks to my large (but never too large) collection. Another "Best of the Best Cookbook" by the editors of Food and Wine magazine was one. This series is nice because in theory I would not have to buy all 25 books that they deem the best. But usually I end up owning four or five anyways.

Another was Alice Water's "Simple Food". It fits on the shelf with the two other books of hers that I have; "Vegetables" and "Fruit". Although "Simple Foods" is quite simple and I might not need all the recipes in it due to their repetition in other cookbooks, I feel I need to own it out of pride for a good cookbook collection.

The third cookbook I got was "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper" by Lynn Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. I try to listen to the Splendid Table on NPR as often as possible. I really can't get enough of most any food related shows or books, with the exception of the Food Network, but that is a gripe for later... The first recipe I made from this book was the Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Cloves. The book describes this recipe as "You'd never guess you can create such lushness from opening three cans" and they are right. With a little bit of prep work for the veggies these three cans turn into a meal in themselves. I was going to pair these beans with some leftover turkey mole I took out of the freezer but I ended up eating a bowl of them alone and being very happy. I was worried that the cinnamon and cloves might make the beans feel sweet but they match wonderfully with the spice of the jalapenos and the mashed up beans. Give it a try and as the book instructs don't skip the butter it is a necessary indulgence in this recipe.

Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Cloves
The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper
Serves 4 to 6

extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, fine chopped

1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and fine chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
one 14-oz can whole tomatoes, drained
two 15-oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups water
2 tlbs butter

Generously film the bottom of a 10-inch skillet with olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Saute the onions with salt and pepper to taste until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. You want to hear a sizzle as they cook.

Add Garlic, jalapeno, cinnamon, and cloves, and cook the mix until fragrant, about 1 minute, taking care not to burn the spices. Add tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pan. Saute for another minute.

Stir in the beans and water. Bring to a fast simmer, crushing the beans with a potato masher (or the back of a large spoon) as they cook, and scraping the bottom of the pan as the beans begin to thicken. Simmer until the beans are thick, about 10 minutes. Blend in the butter and taste for seasoning just before serving.

*The beans hold in the refrigerator for 5 days; add liquid as needed when reheating.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Finally the Wine section of Wine.Bread.Cheese

In 2005 Robby and I went on a trip back to France with his Mom Pamela. I am very happy to have been lucky enough to do this trip and with my Mother-In-Law, who I love. We were able to do many things that I missed on my first trip which was our honeymoon. We climbed the Eiffel Tower, drove from Bordeaux to Paris, went to Versailles and ate even more great food than on the first trip.
One of the very special parts of my second trip was the visit to the Vouvray vineyard and winery Domaine D'Orfeuilles At the time Robby was working for Country Vintners an American Distributor for D'Orfeuilles. He arranged for us to have a tour and tasting at this small family owned estate.
Arnaud and his father Bernard Herivault are the current owners and cultivators. Arnaud took us on a tour of the vineyard then through the cellar and on to the tasting room where we sampled more wines than I can remember. While in the cellar Arnaud asked me what my birth year was. Then after my response he handed me a bottle of the 1980 Demi-Sec Vouvray. I was floored! What a great gift and memento to take home.

Well we waited long enough and just recently decided to pull the cork. I made a wonderful sauteed scallop and fried leek risotto dish which match PERFECTLY to the delicately aged Vouvray.