Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 18, 2011

Boston Creme Pie. What is it exactly? Is it a pie? Is it a cake? Is it a pie that looks like a cake? OR: is it a cake that tastes like a pie? Either way: That's what I made today. The evolution of man, as we know it, can be tricky sometimes! Whatever! Anyway: I was going to make this for St. Patrick's Day, but the world got in the way! So my loyal friends: You tell me. Is it a pie or is it a cake? And another thing. Did it originate in Boston, Mass. or what or who came up with Boston Creme? All I know is, it's a South Georgia Thing. Every Wednesday night the church we attended in Hahira, Georgia(a small rural town with one stop light to it's name), dinner was served and the people brought things to go with the meal. One of the highlights of my daughters life was when Boston Creme Pie was delivered by someone. It was usually not homemade, but store bought. That was besides the point. My daughter loved it! So, in honor or her and the love that she grew with this high-fashioned dessert, I made a Boston Creme Pie. It came out pretty much as I imagined, except I should have refrigerated the creme filling after it was made to help it not be so runny. It wasn't firm enough: OKAY! It tasted great though. The filling took on an appearance of lemon cream pie filling. But, the TASTE WAS OH SO GOOD! RICH! Bostonian like! CHARACTER! Reminiscent of the past. PROPER! Maybe, that's why it's so popular in the Deep South. Besides this so-called logic of mine, the pie was tasty and loyal at the same time. It was simple. Two identical cakes filled with a creme filling and then topped with chocolate icing and powdered sugar. It could have been developed in Boston, Georgia for all I know(Boston, GA. is a town about 35 miles southwest of Hahira, GA.) Whatever the originality of this pie or cake, it's good! Okay! It's good! In fact, It's good enough to be a cake and a pie at the same time! Boston Creme Cake Pie. Now, that's more like it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day! I usually don't go out on this day to celebrate, and if I do, I would go to a Mexican restaurant. It's never crowded there on St. Patrick's Day! Think about it! So instead, I once again made my Sweet Potato Soup. I got good criticism from my last crowd, so I went in a slightly different direction and toned down the heat. It was different. Not better different or bad different. Different that has been refined. For the masses as my wife would say. She often says, "It's not about you, but about others". She's often right. It's been highs and lows over the past 20 years with my wife, but she often prevails. There's is no one I'd rather cook for than her. You see, she let's me do all the shopping, all the creating and all the cooking. There are the leftovers of course. But, her honesty shines the light in my kitchen. There is this remarkable trust that always comes through in my cooking and in her heart. It's really hard to explain. My heart has taken a toll over my lifetime. I had open heart surgery when I was 4 due to a heart defect leaving me with a hole in my heart at birth. I always trusted God to take care of me. I tell people, "He held my heart in his hands". I know that an operation in 3 weeks will be even more critical. At the age of 49, I will be receiving my first pacemaker. A lot has been going through my mind the past 3 weeks, when I was told I would need a pacemaker. I feel so young and old at the same time. I want to get up and go, but my heart and body often remind me: I'm not that boy anymore. My heart yearns for those days of carefree and playing on the farm. My mind tells me: I'm a man and there are so many important things in life. The past 45 years have been a blast and I long for the next 45 years. This recipe is dedicated to the one person who knows me better than anyone I know: MY WIFE. She will always be the Joy in my Heart.

Sweet Potato Coconut Creme Bisque

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of Curry Powder
1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 cups of Sweet Onion, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups of Golden Delicious Apple, peeled and chopped
8 cups of Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 quart of Thai Coconut Curry Broth(College Inn Brand)
2 quarts of Water
1 teaspoon of Salt
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of Ginger Preserves
1 cup of Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon of Salt
2 teaspoons of Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons of Thai Shiracha Hot Chili Sauce
1 cup of Orange Passion Mango Soda(World Market Brand)


1 cup of Light Sour Cream
1 1/2 teaspoons of Curry Powder
2 tablespoons of Butter

Heat the 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large pot. Add the Curry Powder, the Pumpkin Pie Spice and the Onion. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the Apples and Sweet Potatoes. Stir together well. Cover all this goodness with the Thai Coconut Curry Broth, the Water, 1 teaspoon of Salt, 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil and the Ginger Preserves. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook 30 minutes over medium-low heat until the Sweet Potatoes are fork tender. Take this entire mixture and blend in batches. Have a big bowl next to the blender to help with this scenario. Add this entire mixture back to the original pot and add the Coconut Milk. Stir in the 1 teaspoon of Salt, Hot Sauces, and the Orange Passion Mango Soda. Let it simmer over low heat 15-20 minutes or until hot and the flavors have developed. Serve with the Curry Butter Sour Cream.

Place the Light Sour Cream in a bowl. In a small saucepan, brown the Curry Powder and Butter until slightly thickened over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Take this mixture off the burner and let rest about 10 minutes. Add the Curry-Butter mixture to the Light Sour Cream.

Dollop tablespoons of the Curried Sour Cream over the Sweet Potato Coconut Creme Bisque. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 8, 2011

Another Tuesday night special! I don't know too many friends who let you come into their kitchen and do whatever you want to their food. And that's exactly what happened! I brought 5 ingredients in a bag, and then proceeded to cook dinner with whatever they had in their refrigerator and pantry. It was kinda' like that show "Chopped", but in reverse. Now, I did have a game plan in my head. I also had a rough idea of a plan B. Whatever the circumstances, the kitchen was now mine. What were the ingredients I brought? Pineapple, Plum Tea, Sweet Potatoes, Thai Coconut Curry Broth and Dulce de Leche Sauce. All I had to do now was figure out what they had available to work with, and then let the magic begin. I already knew what my meat was: a 5 1/2 pound boneless pork loin. That was already there and the plan was some Sea Salt, Olive Oil, Chopped Garlic and Fresh Oregano. Let it go at high temperature and then turn it down to finish. There's nothing like a big slap of meat. The sweet potatoes had plan A written all over it. I was going to create a soup that was going to be something like I've done before, but using sweet potatoes. I started out heating some Olive Oil in a big pot. I then added some Gran Marsala Curry Powder and Pumpkin Pie Spice to the oil to get the ball rolling. My plan now: add 1 Onion, chopped, and 5 Sweet Potatoes. I then covered the whole dish with 1 quart Thai Coconut Curry Broth and 1 quart of Water. Covered with a lid and let it go about 30 minutes until the Sweet Potatoes were done. Took a food processor and blended everything( this took about 5 or 6 batches ), and poured it back into the pot. I tasted it. Needed some salt and heat. I found some Thai Hot Sauce in the fridge, and put about 1 teaspoon of Salt and 2 tablespoons of Hot Sauce into the soup mixture. I then added about 1 cup of Half & Half. Creamy Sweet Potato Bisque Soup! The soup was finished with a dollop of low-fat sour cream that was blended with curry powder sauteed in butter, then cooled. It was dolloped at the table on top of the soup. This was special. It had sweet. It had depth. It had a kick. It was complete. A masterpiece! The proud lady of the house steamed Fresh Green Beans, made a fantastic Green Leafy Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette Dressing and Brown Rice infused with Plum Tea. This meal was special. Just like the friends who opened their doors of food to my culinary forethought. How blessed we all should be!

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 4, 2011

The art of baking. What does it really mean anymore? Prepackaged items are normal everyday components that bring relieve and pardon to all of our lives. I mean really: who makes their own maple syrup anymore? Don't get me wrong! There's absolutely nothing wrong with pure maple syrup that's tapped from winters trees in the beautiful state of Vermont. I love that pureness in life. From boxed rice mixes to cereal, we all do it. Making less from scratch is just a way of life. I really laughed to myself when I was in the grocery store the other day. It was a local from a nearby restaurant buying prepackaged cake mix for his make everything from scratch restaurant. He actually told me this about 5 months ago when he told me in an interview, "We make everything from scratch here, including the desserts." I mean, who does he think he's kidding! I've never eaten at that restaurant and now I'll tell all my friends to do the same. It's a matter of truth with baking: you either created it from scratch or you didn't. Heavy baking was on the menu today. In the morning, I made Honey Scones with Dried Turkish Apricots, Chinese Five Spice Powder and Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. It was baked for a contest that I ended up not entering. Half was eaten by my family and the other half was given to a local hospital. Thank you physical therapy for all that you do. Later, I did 2 Dutch Apple Pies for a charity event. They were raffled off to two lucky winners. The event was great: a Spaghetti Dinner to help a family who recently lost their house to lightning about 5 weeks ago. There were prizes to be given away, stories to be told and hearts that were touched. Stomachs were filled and happiness was fulfilled. Bread was donated and salad was served. Direction is needed to bring warmth and comfort to those we honestly care about. The night was special. My dessert was back at home. You see, after I made the pies from earlier in the day, a thought process occurred through the eyes of my relatives: Pecan Puffs. These are not sophisticated. They are pecans that have been finely ground and then mixed with other simple ingredients to create a type of miniature snowball effect once you put it in your mouth. A pillow of sweet air is pushed between your lips and a nuttiness of pure delight is channeled into the cavities of your mouth. Bliss 101! These cookies took about 90 minutes to prepare. The time involved was not mandatory. It was voluntary. There were no prepackaged materials used. Food is art. Some you like and some you don't like as much. Art is food. A blank canvass. A knife. Pure ingredients. A lifestyle of integrity and ambition. Scratch!

Friday, March 4, 2011

March 1, 2011

March came in with a bang. Culinary forethought 101: Just because things might be a little bad right now, don't ever give up on your culinary genius. To my great friends in South Georgia, and my long time friends Donna & Rich: This dinner was for all of you! The Theme: Once Upon A Time In South Georgia. I lived there for almost 4 years of my life. I can truly say it was an experience. I learned a lot about culture, people and most of all food in the Deep South. One can be very opinionated about many different things in this area of the country. It's okay! I have my opinions also. A lot can be learned from culture and people. When you place your heart in theirs, a sense and sensibility of things to come is rather heartfelt. Learning to slow cook is a way of relaxation and routine at the same time. You might not enjoy being in a hurry, but what's the rush: Going back to the fields to do more planting and plowing for the day. The people can be as hard headed as the deep red clay. I'm not too far away from my roots. A matter of time is what's the matter with time! March started out great! Here was the menu: Flatbread Crisps with Apple and Vidalia Onion Sour Cream Dip, Boston Butt that was left in a crock pot for 6 hours in a Homemade Barbecue Sauce(it melted away from the bone as I pulled it out of the pot), Garlic and 2 Cheese Mashed Potatoes(the cheeses were Asiago and Romano), Sweet Cornbread with Jalapeno Jam Butter, Corn on the Cob, Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Red Grapes, Dried Pomegranates and soft Goat Cheese and French Spiced Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream. Coffee was genuine Italian Roast. There was plenty of red and white wine to compliment the meal. I don't argue with food with character. There was no dilly-dally of the wise man. There was no I told you so. This was pure Southern fare. No complications of life. Just sit down and listen to the farm life you've been missing. It's probably not as far away as you think. The cotton may not be in full bloom anymore, but the dirt is free and the air is clean.