Slow Cooker Brisket

SlowCookerBrisket

Since we live a short distance from one of the best BBQ restaurants in the state, I don’t often cook brisket at home these days. But we had a small one in the freezer I wanted to use and I thought it was too hot to heat up the oven in the kitchen, even hotter to cook it outside on the grill or in the smoker.  I remembered a recipe and a story I could adapt to the crockpot, loaded it with the few ingredients necessary, set the slow cooker on low and went about a busy day.  The results favorably compared with other methods, and nobody got hot cooking!

The recipe could not be simpler.  The story brings back fond memories.  In 1973, Joe worked with a young man whose name was Steve Greenwell. He and his wife Sondra had not been married long, had no children, and were fond of ours. They came to stay with Sean and Jeremy on the Sunday afternoon 44 years ago that Ben was born.  Sondra was learning to cook.  She told me she bought a brisket and asked  the butcher how to cook it.  He told her to heat her oven on low, put the brisket in a pan, and pour over 1 bottle of liquid smoke, 1 bottle of barbecue sauce, and enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for hours. Here is the story in recipe form.  I did not have a crockpot all those years ago and if you do not, you can always use the oven.

Barbecue Brisket

2-3 pound beef brisket

1 bottle barbecue sauce (any kind)

1 bottle Liquid Smoke (optional – omit if you prefer)

2 bottles of water (rinse out the barbecue sauce bottle), enough to cover meat

Add all ingredients to slow cooker set on low and cook for 7 to 8 hours.

Lift out brisket to slice.  Pour sauce into pitcher or bowl to pass when served.

 

 

 

Italian Sausage, Crispy Greens, and Fontina Pizza

We keep trying different ways to prepare one of our favorite family dishes – pizza. One of my fondest memories is of my 3 little boys, stairstep ages,  all standing on a bench in our kitchen in Dallas making pizza. We have made little snack pizzas with English muffins, big pan pizzas, flatbread pizzas,  pizza on the grill with figs and prosciutto.  Lately I have been trying different cheeses, as well as Joe’s favorite white pizza, not a tomato in sight.  Sometimes there is homemade dough, but often I use a ball of frozen dough I get at HEB because I can keep several in the freezer for setting out to thaw – a nice shortcut.

This pizza does not have the traditional spicy tomato sauce for a base.  It is a variation of a recipe found in Bon Appetit.

 

3/4 lb ground Italian sausage, hot

1 cup rough chopped Kale or Swiss chard which is stripped from stems

1/2 cup Ricotta cheese

1 cup grated Fontina cheese

1/3 cup shaved Parmesan

1 lb Pizza dough
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Fresh rosemary, 1 Tablespoon finely chopped, 1 sprig for garnish
Maldon Sea salt
  Preheat oven to 400°. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add crumbled sausage and brown. Add rough chopped greens,  tossing until beginning to crisp. Transfer sausage and greens to drain on paper towel  with a slotted spoon.

Coat dough with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and stretch into an oval on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top with half of Parmesan and rosemary, followed by sausage mixture, Fontina, ricotta, then remaining Parmesan and rosemary. Sprinkle with flaked Maldon Sea salt. 

Bake pizza, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is golden brown and crisp,  15 to 18 minutes. Cut with kitchen shears and serve with a garden salad.

 

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew is one of our favorite hearty soups and stews. A list that included them all would be a long list!  But if filtered by how many years they have been appearing on our table, this one makes the short list.  In 2012, a post on KItchen Keepers mentions Brunswick Stew along with other dishes. The following quote introduced our fondness for it along with the timing.

In 1984, I traveled with friends to Colonial Williamsburg.  We loved the living history lessons at every turn and enjoyed stopping by its inns and taverns for meals. The cookbook I purchased there has remained one of my favorites for nearly 30 years not only because it reminds me of travels and tastes of the past, but also for recipes that have become keepers for our family like…Chowning Tavern’s Brunswick Stew.

So if you do the math, I have been serving this stew for 33 years!  It is a traditional dish, popular in the South. The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 19th century, with both Virginia and Georgia making claims for originating it. That explains its inclusion in the The Williamsburg Cookbook. A photo of this dish is used for the cover of that book, and  that recipe is the starting place for the ways I prepare it. Although various meats can be used, I always use chicken, but not always the same combination of vegetables, although lima beans, okra, and some tomatoes are consistently included. In this photo, I have used a shortcut, 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables.

Brunswick Stew

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

2 Tablespoons butter

2 garlic pods, peeled and minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup okra, ends trimmed and sliced into rounds

2 cup fresh tomato, peeled and chopped (1 15 oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes)

1 cup lima beans

2 cups corn (fresh corn, cut from the cob is best, but may use frozen)

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce (serve when stew is served so each can add his own)

Melt butter in heavy pot.  Add onions and garlic, then saute until onions are soft.  Add chicken and all other ingredients.  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least an hour. Traditionally, this stew is cooked for a long time over low heat and is believed to be at its best when reheated the next day!

I like to serve with a skillet of hot cornbread. Pass the hot sauce after serving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

There are so many versions of pot roast; there have been several posted. But I have never shared the one I have used most during my cooking years. My mother (long before crock pots)  always browned a small chuck roast on top of the stove, added onions, carrots, and celery sprinkled with salt and pepper, plus enough liquid to simmer for several hours. She probably put this into the oven at times, but I remember clearly the ways she avoided “heating up the kitchen.”  My own version started with this. Early in my marriage, a friend told me her mother-in-law shared her secret to a tasty pot roast – don’t just brown the meat to start but “burn” it on both sides before adding vegetables. Later I read another hint for adding flavor and tenderizing the roast:  For liquid, add any leftover coffee from the morning pot before topping off with water!

So that is what I do when I decide to make a pot roast the old way!  The vegetables I add may vary, but browning the meat very dark and adding some coffee produces a rich, dark cooking liquid that can be served as is or thickened as a gravy. This works whether you have the pot roast bubbling away on the back of the stove, cooking in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Any way you cook it, a pot roast is not a quick cooking dish.  The hours it cooks along with fragrant vegetables and herbs produces tender, fall-apart delicious food – an old-fashioned favorite that will never go out of style in our kitchen.

Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

3-4 pound chuck or shoulder roast

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

3 medium potatoes,  coarsely chopped

4 carrots, sliced00

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, sliced

dried or fresh herbs of your choice

Rinse and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and flour.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet and brown the roast on both sides until dark brown and charred. Place roast in a baking dish if cooking in the oven or crock pot if using a slow cooker. Layer all vegetables around and on the sides of meat. Add salt, pepper, and herbs if you wish.  Pour at least 1 cup of strong coffee over all, top with enough water to almost cover.  Add lid and cook for several hours.  If baking, cook in 325-degree oven for at least 3 hours, or until roast is very tender, adding water if necessary. In a slow cooker, the roast should cook for 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.

To serve, lift the pot roast and veggies out and place on a platter. Serve the broth in a small bowl with ladle.  For gravy, thicken the broth by heating 2 Tablespoons oil with 2 Tablespoons flour, stirring while adding the cooking liquid.  Stir and simmer until thickened, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

There are almost as many versions of gumbo as there are cooks, especially in this corner of Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico for seafood, and near Louisiana, the place of gumbo’s origin. It is said that gumbo is to Louisiana as chili is to Texas!  But, here on the south Texas Gulf Coast, both are famous.  I think that most often gumbo is either Seafood Gumbo or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but the gumbo I make in my kitchen can be either or both – or in this case, both Shrimp and Chicken. It is a matter of what ingredients I have on hand to use!  Last week, we had some leftover jumbo boiled shrimp and some chopped rotisserie chicken.  I had put both into the freezer to wait until Gumbo night. Since our garden tomato production is at its peak, I also had ripe heirloom tomatoes that went into the pot.  A simmering pot of gumbo tempts almost any appetite. I have several cookbooks collected through the years from Louisiana. The basic recipes I started with came from 2 of those books:  River Road Recipes II and Shadows on the Teche, Cuisine of the Cajun Country.  

I enjoy making the roux and prepping as I go This dish has quite a story.        www.southernfoodways.org/interview/a-short-history-of-gumbo/

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

2-3 cups chopped chicken

2 cups large boiled shrimp

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you will use 2 for the roux, and 1 to prep the okra)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 large onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 lb (or more to taste) okra, small to medium pods, sliced thin

1 hot pepper

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare okra by frying in 1 Tablespoon oil in small iron skillet 5- 10 minutes,  until okra is dried out and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Begin making the roux by heating 2 Tablespoons of oil in large heavy pot.  Add flour, stirring constantly while cooking on medium heat until roux is a deep caramel color. Add onions, then bell pepper and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.  Add okra and stir.  Then add 6 cups chicken broth or stock.  Add tomatoes and chicken and simmer for about an hour. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are heated through.  (If you are using raw shrimp, follow the same instructions but cook until shrimp are pink and done.) Add 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar just before serving.

We like to add a few hushpuppies on the side.  I usually buy frozen ones and either bake or fry them while gumbo is cooking.

 

 

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Butter

We have one huge artichoke plant in our garden, planted with dreams of growing a crop of artichokes. So far, nothing but gorgeous leaves have been produced. My daughter in law, Kristen, planted and babied this and has watched it anxiously to see if there was anything to harvest. On April 1, my husband bought a small artichoke and nestled in the center of this plant with a small April Fool! note stuck to the bottom. Kristen pulled at it, only realizing the joke when it came out so easily!  She had a good laugh, and so did the rest of us.  So far, even this has not prompted the giant plant to produce.

Wanting to grow our own has nothing to do with enjoying an artichoke while we wait. This is a special treat, but it does not need to wait until we have guests for dinner or a holiday. In fact, I think we enjoy it more when we make it the star attraction. There is nothing hard about preparing and cooking artichokes, but it does take a little time, so it is a special occasion when we have one. You can find this recipe all over the internet and in many cookbooks, but they don’t have our April Fool story!

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Butter

1 or more Medium to Large Globe Artichokes

2 Lemons, 1 sliced and 1 juiced.

1 Bay Leaf (optional)

2 Teaspoons sallt

4 Tablespoons Butter

Add about an inch and a half of water to a saucepan large enough to set the artichoke in and leave room to cover.  Add salt and bring to boil while geetting the artichoke ready to cook.

  1. Cut off a slice of the bottom and any stem so the artichoke will sit upright. Then slice off the top of the artichoke about an inch and a half down.
  2.  With sharp kitchen shears, cut off just the tip of all the leaves, going around the artichoke until all leaves have the sharp little point on the the edge of the leaves removed.
  3. Reduce heat enough for water to simmer. Set the artichoke into simmeringng water.  Lay lemon slices on top and around. Add bay leaf, if using.  Then cover.
  4. Steam the artichoke for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on size. When you are able to pull one of the leaves out easily, it is done. Remove to serving dish, sitting upright.
  5.  Melt butter and add lemon juice.

Serve the artichoke with lemon butter on the side.To eat the artichoke, pull off leaves, or petals, one at a time. Dip in lemon butter, Tightly grip the stem end of the petal. Place in mouth, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal .

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat. Continue until all of the petals are removed.

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat. Many think this is the best part of the artichoke!

Cook’s Note: An alternative dipping sauce is mayonnaise with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Heirloom Treasures

This is not about cooking, and certainly not a recipe except for the fact that I often find adding one special beautiful and tasty thing to an ordinary meal can turn the evening into a celebration.  Heirloom tomatoes can do that. I like to grow them, so I find that joy part of their goodness. Besides, they are way too expensive in the stores when you can find them. Each type of heirloom tomato has a distinctive color and flavor.

I like just about anything with a story, and every variety of heirloom vegetables comes with history, with story.  My daughter in law, Kristen, also loves to grow these beauties, and she arranged these with some of our garden basil and a few olives on a platter for a family meal last week. On this plate are Cherokee Purple, Eva Purple Ball, Louisiana Pink, Kosovo, and Paul Robeson tomatoes.  I believe the bright yellow slices are from a Russian Heirloom tomato, but I misplaced the tag when planting and I honestly do not remember.  Another favorite way to use these tomatoes is in Caprese salad, made by simply adding slices of whole milk mozzarella and a few splashes of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Quoted from another of my blogs, http://www.mappingsforthismorning.blogspot.com, which is a collection of family stories.

I find heirloom plants intriguing, and am thankful for the pleasure gardening brings to all of us.  I believe the love of gardening is another heirloom, one passed down to me and mine from my parents and grandparents, who first showed me how to garden, but also introduced me to delicious fresh food on our table.  Long before the current farm to table trends, I knew that eating local (as in very local, our own garden) tasted better and helped to keep us healthy.  

Celebrating Heirlooms!

Parmesan Roasted Yellow and Zucchini Squash with Red Pepper

It is summer vegetable time again.  We are doing lots of grilling for meats, vegetables, pineapple – but if it is not good weather for grilling outside, oven roasted meats and veggies are great too!  We recently had this beautiful roasted squash, pepper, and Parmesan dish with roasted pork tenderloin and fresh fig sauce. Great combination!  My version of this recipe originates from Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen.

7 or 8 medium sized yellow squash and zucchini, sliced in diagonal chunks

1 Sweet red pepper, cut in large pieces

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

Zest of 1 lemon,  rest of lemon reserved to add before serving

 sea salt

Crushed red pepper flakes

Put squash, pepper, and zucchini chunks into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the  olive oil (save some for drizzling on top), salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine. Add Parmesan and toss until vegetables are well coated.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fit a rimmed baking sheet with a rack; spray rack with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread squash, pepper, and zucchini pieces evenly on prepared rack. Transfer to oven and roast until tender and lightly caramelized, 12 -15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and let cool slightly; transfer to a large platter. Drizzle vegetables with remaining olive oil. Zest lemon over squash and cut lemon into wedges; squeeze lemon over squash. Season with sea salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper; serve immediately.

Asparagus, Parmesan and Red Onion Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

With the approach of summertime, gatherings on the porch, and grilling, I like serving a variety of vegetable salads. This one is perfect with grilled meats and chicken. It keeps several days covered and refrigerated.  This is my version of a recipe Anne Burrell features on the Food Network.  It is good with fresh Lemon Vinaigrette as well.

Asparagus, Parmesan, and Red Onion Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 bunch pencil-size asparagus

1 small red onion,  diced

1 cup shaved parmesan flakes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Rinse and trim asparagus stalk ends by bending and snapping off where the stalk naturally wants to break. Cut asparagus stalks, including the tips into very thin slices, crosswise and place in a bowl. Add red onion and shaved Parmesan and toss to combine. Dress with vinegar, olive oil, and salt and toss again to coat vegetables with dressing.The vinegar will tenderize the asparagus. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow vegetables to marinate.

.

 

Zucchini Fun

Last night I pulled out the handy little tool that turns vegetables into works of art like this.  Weird name, but it fits – a spiralizer.  Long before zoodles and other veggie noodles began appearing in supermarkets, we discovered how much tasty fun preparing them like this can be. The plate of zucchini ruffles, or curls, shown here took only 2 medium squash and less than 5 minutes to produce.  I sauteed these in a bit of olive oil with some herbs tossed in, but they make a lovely salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette.   I featured them skewered for kabobs in a previous post.  https://kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com/wp-a

If you click on that link, you will see photos of the tool with which you crank out these lovelies. It works for other veggies as well, but I have used it most often with squash.

Don’t cook the ruffles too long, it only takes a few seconds.  This makes a great substitute for pasta if you are watching carbs.  The dish also looks wonderful served as a side, making any table look like a celebration.