Brown Butter Pecan Rice

This rice has become a favorite side dish for our family.  Especially this time of year, pecans star in many dishes.  Many of the ones we use in our kitchen are locally raised. I am glad I found this recipe that was included with a Recipe.com issue for a chicken dish. I served it with roasted pork tenderloin. If you have little ones at your table who prefer their rice plain, save some for them before adding your rice to the butter and pecans.

Brown Butter Pecan Rice

1 cup Basmati rice, cooked

2 Tablespoons  butter (I use unsalted)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt

While rice is cooking, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes, or until butter is brown and fragrant.  Add chopped pecans and toast for 1 minute. When rice is ready, add to skillet with salt and stir to combine.  Serve as a side for roasted pork or chicken.

 

Caramelized Onion, Apple and Brie Flatbread with Rosemary

 

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Flatbreads are one of my new comfort foods!  There are endless variations, most are quick and simple to prepare, and I have not made one I did not like yet. The combination of flavors from caramelized onions, brie, and tart apples pared with a layer of herbed goodness from sprigs of our garden rosemary is wonderful. We enjoyed this flatbread for a light evening meal, along with extra apple slices. Try different apples – we like Granny Smith, but also favor Honeycrisp and Smitten. The sweet, crisp crunch adds perfectly to creamy cheese and onions.

Caramelized Onion, Apple and Brie Flatbread with Rosemary

1 ball of premade pizza dough from the freezer shelf of your supermarket (or Naan, if you prefer)

1 apple of your choice, cut into thin slices (I used Honeycrisp)

1/2  cup cubed Brie cheese 

caramelized onions (see recipe below)

chopped fresh rosemary (Save a sprig for garnish)

Balsamic Caramelized Onions:

1 large sweet onion

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over low/medium heat.Slice the onions and add them to the skillet. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.Turn the heat down to low, and cook the onions until they are soft, beginning to brown, and there is no liquid in the pan, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside until you are ready to add them to flatbread.

If using frozen pizza dough, thaw overnight in refrigerator. Set out on counter to come to room temperature before handling. When ready to assemble flatbread, pat dough out to a long oval on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Spread caramelized onions over, then scatter slices of apple and cubes of Brie. Sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary and a few Malton salt flakes if you wish.

These flatbreads can also be grilled on the BBQ. Just set them right on the grill , and bake them the same way you would in the oven. Remove when crust browns and cheese is melty. They cook fast and can burn easily, so be ready with spatula and plate to lift them off.

Summer Squash Casserole

Whether you get your summer squash from your own garden, the farmers market, or you local grocery store, there is always plenty, and plenty of recipes for ways to use it. When I was growing up, my favorite way to eat it was fried.  Mother sliced yellow squash, put it in a bowl with a handful of cornmeal and some chopped onions to coat and fried it, usually in bacon grease. We also had it boiled down to limpness, also flavored with a little bacon fat. For me in those years, squash was yellow and crookneck. Now we grow it and find it many places and many varieties – yellow crookneck, zucchini (straight and ball), calabacita, white pattypan -ranging from dark green to bright yellow, long to stubby, smooth to lumpy to ridged.  Although they vary a little in texture and flavor, they all have thin skins and most adapt to being steamed, fried, grilled or stuffed.  But a classic dish, one that is a favorite for church potlucks, is squash casserole. There are hundreds of recipes. My favorite of all that I have tried has the fewest ingredients and is simplest to make.

I am a fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series books and even have her cookbook, Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader, which has recipes along with stories to link with characters in the books. The recipe I adapted to make my Summer Squash casserole comes from one called Puny’s Squash Casserole, named for the feisty, hardworking house helper who cooks for the series’ principal character, Father Tim Kavanaugh. It is the kind of recipe you look for when you need to keep it simple!  I have used zucchini and calabacita squash in the dish with equal success.

Summer Squash Casserole

6-8 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon butter

1 cup crushed potato chips or corn flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Steam squash and onions until tender. Pour into large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add butter and stir to melt butter. In a small bowl, combine eggs to cheese, salt and pepper, then add to squash mixture.  Pour into baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes then add topping of crushed chips or corn flakes. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until topping begins to brown.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Crab Pie

I have loved seafood since I was very small. When I was two years old, Mother and Daddy moved with me to New Orleans, LA for Daddy to work in the shipyards during WWII.  He worked a night shift and would meet the shrimp wagons on the street on his way home.  He often brought fresh shrimp home which Mother cooked for his “supper” after work.  But this was my breakfast time and I had shrimp for breakfast!  Now, most of my family loves any kind of seafood, especially shrimp and crab.  Living on the Texas Gulf Coast helps as well!  This pie is made from tender lump crabmeat and tastes like crab cakes!

 Crab Pie

  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Cup mayonnaise (I use the lighter Mayo with Olive Oil)
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 8 oz. shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz. Shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (white)
  • 1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2-ounce jar pimientos
  • 2 Nine Inch Deep Dish Pie Shells
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeno

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, flour, mayonnaise, and milk in a bowl and mix well.  Without breaking up the crab lumps, gently stir in the rest of the ingredients and set aside.  Bake pie shells at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, remove from oven and spoon crab mixture evenly into pie shells.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin with Asian Rub and Ginger Glaze

asianporkgingerglaze

I adapted my version of this recipe from one called Asian Pork posted at thefoodcharlatan.com.  I had hidden it away on Pinterest in my Best Crockpot Pick board and made it last week. The flavor is amazing!  We served it at a family gathering and used leftovers in pork fried rice!

  • 5 pounds pork tenderloin (I used 4 tenderloins, which filled the bottom of my crockpot)
  • 1 cup water
For the rub:
    • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 3 teaspoons salt
    • 2 teaspoon powdered ginger
    • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon powdered cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or white)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons Penzey’s crystallized ginger bits
  • fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
  • lime wedges, to garnish
  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, powdered ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to make a rub for pork..
  2. Place the tenderloins in the slow cooker. Rub the seasonings over the top and bottom of tenderloins.
  3. Pour 1 cup water in the slow cooker, on the edge or in the middle so that you don’t wash off all the spices you just rubbed on.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, then preheat your broiler.
  5. While the pork is finishing up in the slow cooker and your broiler heats up, combine 1 cup brown sugar, cornstarch, rice vinegar,  water, and soy sauce in a small saucepan.
  6. Set over medium heat and stir until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in ginger bits.
  8. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray.
  9. Remove the pork from the crock pot (discard the liquid) and place on the lined baking sheet. Brush a generous amount of the glaze on the pork.
  10. Put your oven rack as high as it will go, and broil the pork for 1 or 2 minutes, until bubbly and caramelized. Don’t walk away! Repeat 2 to 3 more times until it is as crusty as you want it but not dry.
  11. Serve with remaining glaze on the side, and garnish with lime and cilantro.

Lemon Picatta Chicken Casserole

lemonpicattachickenbakeIf you try this, you may never want to go back to the tried and true way of making chicken piccata!  My son deconstructed his normal oh-so-good way of making this dish with delicious results. The method could not be simpler. Try the recipe below or use your favorite Lemon Picatta Chicken recipe. Farfalle (Bow-Tie) or Penne pasta adds to the appearance and texture of the dish.  After you cook the chicken breasts, transfer to cutting board, cool slightly, and cut into bite size pieces to combine with pasta in your favorite baking dish. Our family may rename this Ben’s Chicken Picatta.

Lemon Chicken Picatta Chicken Casserole

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Fresh lemon slices for garnish

16 ounces Farfalle, or Bow-Tie, Pasta, cooked al dente.

Set three wide, shallow bowls on a work surface. Add flour to the first one, beaten eggs to the second, and panko and Parmesan cheese to the third. Mix panko and Parmesan thoroughly.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Season chicken cutlets all over with salt and pepper. Working with one at a time, dredge a cutlet in flour with your left hand, shaking off excess. Transfer to egg dish, then turn cutlet with your right hand to coat both sides. Lift and allow excess egg to drain off, then transfer to bread crumb mixture. With your left hand, scoop bread crumbs on top of chicken, then gently press, turning chicken to ensure a good layer of crumbs on both sides. Transfer cutlet to prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining cutlets.

Fill a large skillet with 1/4 inch oil. Heat over high heat until shimmering. Working in batches and using tongs or your fingers, gently lower cutlets into the pan, laying them down away from you to prevent hot fat from splashing toward you. Fry, rotating cutlets for even browning, and adjusting heat as necessary until bottom side is browned and crisp, about three minutes. Flip cutlets and fry until other side is browned and crisp, about three minutes longer. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt right away. Repeat with remaining cutlets, topping up oil if necessary.  When cooled slightly, cut chicken into bite size pieces.

Drain all but one tablespoon oil from skillet. Add wine and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cooking about two minutes while scraping browned bits from skillet. Add capers and butter, whisking until butter has melted. Lower heat to medium and continue whisking and reducing until sauce is smooth and creamy. Whisk in lemon juice and parsley, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

0Add chicken pieces and cooked pasta to sauce in large baking dish, tossing to combine.  Sprinkle top with shaved parmesan.  Place in oven just until heated through but not brown.  Scatter chopped parsley over top and add a few fresh lemon slices at serving time.

 

Fondant Potatoes

fondantpotatoes“The texture this old-school method provides for russet potatoes is unlike anything you get by just roasting: so dense, moist, and rich. The way the crusty, crunchy edges outside contrast with the uniquely rich and creamy inside is truly a magical thing”  quote by Chef John, who posts a like version of this recipe online at allrecipes.com

When our son Jeremy and his family were here recently, he made this wonderful potato dish to go with our New Year’s Day 2017 dinner.  He had made Fondant Potatoes and told us about it in much the same glowing terms as the quote above.  He promised they would be amazing, and they were!

Fondant Potatoes

3 large whole russet potatoes

2 tablespoons high-heat-resistant vegetable oil

salt and ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons butter

4 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup chicken broth, or more as needed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Cut off ends of russet potatoes, stand potatoes on end, and peel potatoes from top to bottom with a sharp knife, shaping each potato into barrel shape.. Cut each in half crosswise to make 6 potato barrels about 2 inches long.
  3. Place potatoes into a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes.Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Place a cast iron skillet over high heat. Pour in vegetable oil; heat oil until it shimmers slightly.
  5. Place potato cylinders with best-looking ends into the hot oil, lower heat to medium-high, and pan-fry potatoes until well-browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Flip the potatoes onto the opposite ends. As they cook, use a paper towel held with tongs to carefully blot out the oil from the skillet. Add butter and thyme sprigs to skillet.
  7. Pick up a thyme sprig with tongs and use it to brush butter over the top of the potatoes. Cook until butter foams and foam turns from white to a pale tan color. Season with more salt and pepper. Pour chicken stock into skillet.
  8. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook until potatoes are tender and creamy inside, about 30 minutes. If potatoes aren’t tender, add 1/4 cup more stock and let cook 10 more minutes.
  9. Place potatoes on a serving platter and spoon thyme-scented butter remaining in skillet over potatoes. Garnish with more fresh sprigs of thyme and a few of rosemary.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

cranberryricottasconesIn 1991 while traveling in Scotland, we stopped at a Tea Room. The rustic crispiness of these scones reminds me of  200 year old Shore Cottage Tearoom in Taynuilt, Argyll, where Lily McNaught, her daughters, and granddaughters baked sweets and treats. Thanks to online information, I see that Shore Cottage is still there but not as a “Tea Room” – the ladies moved the business to The Robins Nest on Main Street, Taynuilt and guess what – the Lunch, the Teas, the Cakes, everything is just as it was. This is not one of their recipes, but my granddaughter Maddie and I baked them together. Surely Miss Lily approves.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter,  cut into tiny pieces

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup (Whole Milk) Ricotta Cheese

3 tablespoons Whole Milk

1 cup cranberries, fresh, roughly chopped

 

Whisk the following together to brush over scones before baking

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon milk or water

extra sugar to sprinkle over top.

 

Orange Glaze

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400°(F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and orange zest.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes then, using two forks or a pastry cutter, quickly work it into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, ricotta cheese, and milk. Add to flour and butter mixture and use a fork to stir everything together until just moistened.
  5. Add in the chopped cranberries and gently fold them into dough with a spatula.
  6. Pour the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully transfer them to the prepared sheet. Leave an inch or so between each scone as they do spread a little.
  7. Lightly brush each scone with the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown. Cool scones on the pan for 10 minutes, then top with glaze and serve warm.
  9. For the glaze:
  10. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, zest, salt, and confectioners sugar. Drizzle over warm scones and serve at once.
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