This may not sound appetizing, but dinner was totally off the beaten track. A thing we call Chicken & Waffles. You may not remember the 1970's. You may not remember what happened last night. You will remember the dinner of Chicken & Waffles: a tasty creation of southern California fare, in which Waffles are toasted and layered with a handful of Deep Fried Chicken Tenders and Country Gravy, and then topped with a thin stream of Maple Syrup. The crispiness of the Waffles with the deep-fried goodness of Fried Chicken, and then topped with maple delight is one taste that won't go away. Sweet and salty is the name of this game. We crunch. We munch. We eat a bite and we want some more. We explore our tastes. Give a little bit of time, and you'll make a better place for all. When you don't know where to go and you think you've lost friends, cook some Chicken & Waffles. Things will be better all over again.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
One of the things I like about summers are the things that cool you off. In particular: Smoothies! They're a great summertime treat! When I think of Smoothies, I don't think of a particular flavor, but of making one of leftovers left behind. We often search for that perfection in mind, only to find one important ingredient not there, or not on the list. We often compromise with a foul substitute or a meaningless option. A lot of the times, we don't put two and together very well and think of things that might of been. Our feelings for that perfect Smoothie have gone by the wayside. Finding something that is refreshing and filling is also hard to come by. I wanted something different! The solution was solved: Peanut Butter and Frozen Banana Smoothies. The protein and potassium are offset by a pinch of salt and a dab of honey. Maybe I don't always know what I want, but the purpose of creating is never a dull moment.Wanting and needing to play and experiment with food is such an important aspect in the search for creative cooking. We may never know what's around the bend or coming around the corner.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Ice Cream has to be one of my favorite treats to beat a summer heat. When you combine the salt in the air and the cream from the dairy, no words can describe a great Ice Cream. A smile is all that is needed. The light at the end of a tunnel is always a little bit brighter, and the sheets that you have washed, are a little bit whiter. My favorites are Vanilla, Pistachio, Rum Raisin and Mint Chocolate Chip. I really don't know why these are my favorites. Part of it is pure simplicity. Vanilla is a base for all the toppings you could ever dream of. But a great Vanilla holds true all by itself if done properly and without hesitation. The other 3 you might say, are seasonal. But, in reality, a comfort of nuttiness, of portrait and of pure bliss, respectively speaking. They are all the flavor profiles I remember as a child growing up in California, Oregon and Florida. Things take on meaningful aspects while growing up. You can't take away the San Diego Beaches, the Portland scenery of mountain tops or the Orlando Chamber of Commerce photos. They all have a space in the back of my mind. They will never be forgotten. That's one thing that you can never take away from any of us: Childhood Memories. Most are good. Some are bad. All are precious to all of mankind. Homemade Ice Cream is a chore that is worth the wait! With few ingredients needed, Homemade Ice Cream craves a big spoon and a handful of friends. It's too good not to share. Today was special: Mint Chocolate Chip. It's no joke to say that time is precious. When you make Homemade Ice Cream, patience is key. There are stories to tell and many that are retold, over and over again. The Heavy Cream. The Sugar and Salt. The Bitter and Semisweet Chocolate Chips that we hold so dear. These flavors remain in our hearts. They are sometimes washed away, but never forgotten. It was so simple years ago. The back porch stories of old. Where did the time go?
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Look. And you shall see. Listen. And you shall hear. Speak. And you shall be spoken to. Inhale. And you shall smell. Touch. And you will be touched by the hands of God.
When all of our senses are used in the right way, all of our abilities are used in a collective and passionate understanding of one another. So, let's talk Burgers. It's one of the most satisfying meals man has learned to cook for himself. Whether you grill it, fry it or steam it, Hamburgers are a mindset of where Burgers have been, and where Burgers will go. The keys to any good Burger are freshness and forethought. If you start out with good quality Ground Meat, Vegetables, Spices, Herbs and Bread, you can't go wrong. Now, there is more to this story than meets the eye. A passion for knowledge of food and flavor profiles also play into a Burger, along with friends that are trusted and experienced. You want a Burger with depth. You want a Burger for juiciness. You want a Burger for gratification. You need a gentle hand and a hot pan or grill. You need to know when and when not to flip the Burger, lay on the Cheese and when to say: "May I have another? Please!" You stumble in and don't know where to begin, but you always know when to stop and lend a helping hand. You sigh. You lift up your heart, and that first bite takes your breathe away, and you simply just stop, and let your heart melt. When you add your choice of toppings, like Tomato, Lettuce and all the rest, you will no doubt put your Burger to the test. You sop up the juices that flow from your mouth, from the Bread that holds your life in your hands. You understand that heaven is only a stone's throw away. And with the wind in your face and your favorite 45 rpm playing constantly in your head, the rush of all that is life transforms your blood into gold. There is no place on earth for this Burger no more. Only a whisper remains.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
It's been raining a lot lately. So much, in fact, that the temperature has been quit mild the past few days. I must be praying a lot for cooler weather. It's working! So, a nice rain deserves a satisfying and hearty soup. Not too wise. Not too sweet. Built with character and love. Think as a good soup like liquid gold. Rich. Like the sun. It will make you glow within, and shine at the same time. A good soup demands time and patience. A little love can go a long way. The plan: Thai Cream of Butternut Squash Soup. It contains Golden Delicious Apples, Vanilla, Apple Cider and Pear Juice. It sounds complicated, but this soup is so good, it'll make your heart melt. Be careful not to over salt. Taste as the soup reduces down to your comfortable thickness. Then, re season if needed. You will enjoy this soup for years to come.
Thai Cream of Butternut Squash Soup
1 Butternut Squash, 2 pounds, peeled de-seeded and diced.
2 Golden Delicious Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 Vidalia Onion, medium-sized, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 cup of Apple Cider
1 32-ounce container of College Inn Thai Coconut Curry Broth
1/4 cup of Pear Concentrate Juice
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/2 cup of Half & Half
1/2 Vanilla Bean, sliced thin in half
In a large stockpot, combine the Butternut Squash, Golden Delicious Apples and Vidalia Onion. Set over medium-low heat. Stir in 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Let this cook, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes. Pour in the Apple Cider and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the Thai Coconut Curry Broth and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes.(The vegetables should be soft. Test the Squash to make sure.) Pour this mixture into a blender, in batches, and puree.(Have a big bowl next to you to make things easier.) When the puree is done, add it back to the soup pot container and simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes. In the meantime, in a small saucepan, pour in the Half & Half and Vanilla Bean. Let it simmer on low heat while the soup is reducing. When the timer goes off, add the Half & Half to the soup mixture.(Remove the split Vanilla Bean.) Adjust the Salt now if needed. This soup will make all your dreams come true. It tastes just like sunshine on a cold winter's day.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
The second I woke up today, I knew it was going to rain. It's not that I believe in superstitions. Quit the opposite in fact. You see, I have a nose with a barometer attached on the inside to predict current frontal systems. In layman terms, when I wake up in the morning, I can tell you if it's going to rain that day without looking on the TV to see the latest radar patterns. It can be a good thing, especially in Florida. It has been known to backfire on occasion. It happens! Yesterday, was no exception to the rule. I knew it was going to rain early, and I knew it was going to rain hard. I needed a hot breakfast today and Oatmeal was stuck in my head. I wanted something light and tasted like summer, before the rain: Peaches and Cream Steel-Cut Oatmeal. After I enjoyed this breakfast, it rained soon and then, most of the day. The Oatmeal did take me back to rustic roots and dirt country roads. The cane poles sittin' on the edge of the pond. Old Coke machines. Lazy days and summer haze. It's too bad summer only has 11 weeks to go in Florida. Imitation has it's drawbacks. Don't ever underestimate the power of liquid sunshine!
Peaches & Cream Steel-Cut Oatmeal
3/4 cup of Water
1/4 cup of Steel-Cut Oatmeal
A pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon of Butter
A pinch of Mace
A pinch of Allspice
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
3 teaspoons of Sugar
1 Georgia Peach, cut in half, pitted and rough chopped
2 tablespoons of Half & Half
In a medium saucepan, pour in the Water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the Oatmeal and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let it set for 2 minutes. Stir in the Mace, Allspice, Cinnamon and Sugar. Take the cut up Peach and put it in a bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Pour the Oatmeal over the Peach and then pour the Half & Half over all. Enjoy!
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Talk about hard to beat! Some of the best recipes in life are those that need no fixing, no glorifying and no mind. We often search until the end of time for that recipe that we cannot live without. It could be the simplest salad. An easy appetizer. The dessert that takes only 10 minutes, but eats like it took all day. You know what I'm talking about! Now, I want you to go back in time when you knew the difference between right and wrong. Between good and evil. Between high and low. This recipe takes these qualities as a child, and puts it all together in one dish. I call it: Not Your Mama's Cornbread. This is that recipe you wish you had 50 years ago, when you now realize your life is halfway done. I'm not talking about Spaghetti and Meatballs. I'm not talking about Chocolate Creme Brulee. I'm talking Cornbread. Plain. Simple. Cornbread.
Not Your Mama's Cornbread
6 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 cup of Sugar
1 cup of Yellow Cornmeal
1 1/2 cups of AP Flour
2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1 1/2 cups of Milk
Melt Butter with Vegetable Oil in the microwave for 1 minute. Blend in 1 cup of Sugar. (Now, brew a pot of coffee and start relaxing.) Add 2 Eggs to the Sugar mixture and blend together thoroughly. Stir in the Yellow Cornmeal. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the Flour, Baking Powder and Salt. Now, alternating with the Milk, stir in the flour mixture until all is combined and end with the Milk.(This will explain the cake-like batter that you are looking for. Pour mixture into a greased 8-inch square pan and in a 375 oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes better serving. Enjoy with Butter or your favorite Jelly, Jam or Preserve.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Here's the deal with Cookies: as soon as the last one is eaten, it's time to make some more! This is not only a problem, but a solution all in the same sentence. Like so many of us before, we all long for the glass of milk and a stack full of cookies. It's a duo with nothing to lose and everything to gain. When we talk of milk and cookies, life seems simpler and complete all at the same time. No wise tales to tell. No stories of old. No lessons to be learned. Just photographs of father and son turning into one. A meeting of the minds and a handful of time poised in one frame of standstill motionless photography. Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle and Oatmeal Raisin hit the list quick. Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice all make the passing grade. And then there's the ones we forget about: Chewy Ginger, Raspberry Torte and Shortbread. It takes no time to make a Cowboy Cookie, but a lot of patience to eat one. There are the Sand Tarts of the east coast and Petticoat Tarts of the west coast. There are those that have travelled from far away like Mexican Wedding and Russian Tea. Whoopie Cookies are a thing of the past that have come to be liked again. And when I think of older days and lost in my ways, the smell of fresh Cornmeal Cookies baking is as simple as it gets. Maple Walnut and Pumpkin Pie also bring a twinkle to my eye. Don't forget about Macadamia White Chocolate Chip. They are eaten quick! The ones I like to think about are the ones I call Leftover Candy Bar Cookies, like Baby Ruth and Butterfinger. It takes no time to make a batch or two when you've got the blues or need a friend to talk to. Cookies are like therapy in the most simplest of forms. And even if therapy doesn't turn out to form, Cookie Batter is just as divine. Two spoons. One great friend. A big bowl of Cookie Dough. Just like yesterday.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Little did I know my cat has a thing for Tuna. In the middle of making Tuna Melt Sandwiches for lunch, my cat wanders into the kitchen like a lost kitten looking for his last meal ever on earth. As I was figuring out the recipe on hand, the smell of the tuna came from 3 cans I was opening. He could tell what was happening the second I started opening up can number one. The smell perfumed the room into a small town fish cannery. All the fireworks were now going off for my Charley cat. It's not like he's already big: at last weight check he was over 19 pounds. Recently, he went on a diet and still managed to gain 2 pounds. In my opinion, he's just turning into an old man like me. Always watching what I eat and never doing a buffet, the pounds never seem to fade away. So, as I'm opening up these tuna cans, he comes out of nowhere, puts his head on the bar and starts crying like crazy. His ears are flecked straight back and his nose is as pure as radar. What a pushover for an old man like me! I drain the cans of the water and return the meat to a bowl. Of course, I take about a teaspoon of this tuna and generously put it in his bowl. All crying has stopped and I continue with operation Tuna Melt Sandwiches. I pull out the Mayo, Salt, Pepper, Pickle Relish and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. I mix thoroughly and season with more Pepper and a squeeze of Wildflower Honey. This is successful. The large saute is then heated with a little Butter and Olive Oil over medium-high heat. Laid down some Potato Bread and a few slice scraps of Jarlsberg Cheese. Topped with a good mound full of Tuna Salad and leveled it off to cover the bread. Placed one more piece of cheese on top and then another piece of bread. Grilled about 2 minutes on each side. Watch your heat and turn down to medium if required. No more cat issues. Just me and my Tuna melt.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
The air-conditioning was singing most of the night and the doors that were cracked were now closed. A whisper could be heard across the street, but interpretation was hit and miss. The downpour that was finally meant to be last night, came in like a dinosaur looking for it's last meal. All that was left behind was pure steam. A window cleaner would've been a millionaire. The rain could have ruined the night, but fresh broccoli saved the meal. Do you remember those old-fashioned casseroles of 40 years ago? They're still alive and doing just fine. Trust me on this! I found a book at the library a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed some nice recipes. These were the ones that never go out of style or date. They take you back to a childhood memory or even, a country church dinner. Now, when I was growing up years ago, There was no lunch and dinner! There was dinner and there was supper. That was that! You see, my lunch was now dinner, and my dinner was now supper.(This became really complicated for an eight-year-old in the 70's. Part of it was time zone issues, and the other part of it was me being not that smart. I didn't understand how one day lunch was now dinner(I thought dinner was the night meal? And now, out of the clear blue sky, dinner was now supper! Am I missing something here? At least breakfast was still called breakfast. Holy smokes!) Anyway, back to the broccoli. This was pure heaven! This side dish was so good, you could eat it for dessert. The torn bread pieces. The sugar. The milk, egg butter,cheese and salt. And who could forget the star attraction: Broccoli. The key to this whole dish was the very rough chop of the vegetable and the broil the last 3 minutes in the oven. There was little fanfare when it was removed from the oven, but the fireworks flew off your tongue the second it entered your mouth. Sweet and gooey broccoli casserole that was so light and airy with a slight toast on the very top. They don't make these recipes anymore. They are found over again in sunken recipe books. Sealed with a kiss!
Saturday, August 6, 2011
It seems that there is a life after July: it's called August. One way or another, I'm going to beat this heat. Sticking my head in the freezer is becoming a standard traditional everyday occasion. Nothing scary to think about here. Just me and my freezer. The rains that used to wonder in, don't know any better. And even if they do, the steaming afterwards effect turns into a nice facial. August has always been the pinnacle of heat. The summer that has already established itself is a ticking hydrogen bomb. No swagger required. Ash and debris at no extra charge. They say that tropical storm Emily will bring a boatload of rain this weekend. I can only pray harder every day. Turn that light off every chance you get, but keep the flame within your heart burning like a summer campfire. Slow it down and make it last awhile. Slowly burning embers. Fireflies on the back porch. Light my fire and I will bring you warmth. Say my name, and I will grant you peace. Follow my heart, and I will call you my son. We often agree on where we want to be. Don't stop. He will be there for you. For me. For eternity.
Friday, August 5, 2011
The basil on the balcony was in full bloom as I walked across the endless. The rosemary and thyme were doing quit well also. I wanted to hug myself, but I think neighbors would've done a triple take. I learned from my mind and I created with my hands. It wasn't that hard. It was the middle of the summer. The humidity was high and the rain was plentiful. Don't talk about the heat. Too much to handle even for the brave. My bare feet are sweating at times, and I long for the smell of Stewed Rhubarb and Sweet Potato Pie. The fall was Three months away, but I needed it now. The Apple Cider. The motorcycle riders. The smell of the road. The country air. The I don't care. Was this too much to ask for? Was I being greedy for all the wrong reasons? Dinner was served over and over again, but no heart was being put worth. The sound of soul was a lovely thing. The Barbecue Beef Sandwiches were ready with melted 4-Cheese Mexican blend. The Butter melted slowly into the hot fresh Corn. A little spice. A little nice. My Sweet Potato Fries were infusing the apartment with smells of Cumin, Cayenne and Chili Powder. Spicy Sweet Potato Fries were the name of this game, and with Salt, Olive Oil and Brown Sugar: game was now on! The taste was bold and lively. It was a little heat. It was a little sweet. It was spicy enough for summer, but took me back to fall. Three more months. Waiting for Fall...