Archive for March, 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011 @ 09:03 PM

I am going to step away from my norm again of deep fryers, BBQ smokers, and grills.

Easter season is upon us. There are so many good things to eat that come with the Lenten and Easter season. Friday night fish fry, lamb, fresh ham, pickled eggs. The warmer weather also brings thoughts of getting back outdoors to grill.

My great grandmother was of German decent and lived in Eastern Pennsylvania. She had a traditional cookie recipe that she made every Easter without fail. I love this recipe. The cookies are, light, refreshing, and filled with orangy goodness. It is a very large recipe, and there really is no cutting it in half unless you can cut an egg in half. .So eat hearty or be willing to share.

I do not know the origin of the recipe, if it came from Germany or if it was an Eastern PA. thing. I would dearly have loved to meet this woman. From what I have heard, I believe that she was a really excellent cook.So here is my great grandma Greaser’s Orange Drop Cookie recipe:

2 cup sugar

1 cup shortening

3 eggs

Juice and rind of 2 oranges

1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk)

4 1\2 cup sifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

dash of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cream the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs, juice and rind, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients, then add to the wet mix.

Mix well.

Drop by the spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 mins or until lightly browned.

Cool and then ice with following glaze recipe:

1 box confectioner sugar

Juice from 1 orange

1 Tbsp. butter

1 egg yolk

Mix together the above ingredients.. When cookies are cool, spread icing glaze on cookies.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011 @ 04:03 PM

Tonight for dinner I intend to make for my first time, The Juicy Lucy. Now for those of you that have never heard of a Juicy Lucy…it is a burger with some of the fixings on the inside. Technically an inside out cheeseburger.

The Juicy Lucy was supposedly invented in a pub south Minneapolis. 2 places claim fame to this delicious goodness. (Almost the same scenario happened in Buffalo, NY with who first invented the real Buffalo Wing). One place calling it a Jucy Lucy, while the other calls it the Juicy Lucy.

No matter who invented it, it has gained popularity in many places and has been expanded to stuffing other things inside than just cheese. A few places now have Blucy Lucy or Lucy Blucy, depending on where you are. That is a blue cheese inside out burger. There is a Cajun Lucy, with jalapenos & pepper jack cheese. There are many combinations that can be done here. You can even do a Cordon Bleu version by including ham and Swiss cheese inside your burger. The options are endless, and only as small or large as your imagination can handle.

First and foremost, get yourself some prime ground beef. A great burger is reflected in the meat that you use.

Make two meatballs for every patty that you plan to make.

Lay out some wax paper or cellophane and place each ball on a sheet. Place another piece of wax paper or cellophane on top. Flatten the ball. Place your fixings in the center. Place another flattened meat patty on top and crimp the edges well. Now fire up your Brinkmann grill and cook your burgers like you normally would. You want to allow for time to melt any cheese inside. Rare burgers are not preferable here.

Now hot cheese will gush out on the first bite. You may wish to let the burger set for a few minutes before indulging.

Have fun with it. Be creative. Get your imagination and taste buds flowing.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011 @ 06:03 AM

Having leftovers from St. Patrick’s Day can be tricky. Especially if you had a large crowd, and no one in America eats vegetables anymore. The leftover meat is easy. You can make corned beef hash or Rubens. Leftover pre-cooked cabbage can be a pain. You can just fry it in butter and eat it that way. It can always be put on corned beef sandwiches in place of kraut. But there is another way.

Colcannon:

  • 1 pound cabbage or 2-3 cups leftover cabbage
  • 1 pound potatoes or peeled leftover boiled potatoes
  • 2-3 leeks
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch ground mace
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • In a large pan In a large saucepan, boil cabbage until tender; remove and chop or blend well. Set aside and keep warm. Boil potatoes until tender. Remove from heat and drain. Season and mash potatoes well. Stir in cooked leeks and milk. Blend in the cabbage. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter. Mix well. I used leftovers. Peeled my boiled potatoes and mashed them. Sliced and chopped up about 2-3 cups pre-cooked cabbage. Fresh leeks sliced and simmered in milk, added in and 1\2 cup melted butter. Mix in some crispy chopped bacon.
  • If made fresh, leftover colcannon can be made into potato croquettes by adding a little flour to the mix. Some fresh chopped parsley too.(optional)
  • Roll into balls. Dredge in flour. Dip in egg wash and then bread crumbs. Deep fry in hot oil in a cast iron skillet until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  • For a decent corned beef hash recipe visit our past post: Corned Beef Hash in a Cast Iron Skillet
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Saturday, March 26, 2011 @ 09:03 AM

It is finally time to get back out side. There may still be a chill in the air, but the tree buds are swelling, the bulbs are popping. It is time to start grilling again.

Some people grill year round. Up until this last winter I was a year round griller myself. The last time I used the grill was New Year’s Day. We have had more snow in one season than I can remember in all of my 44 years in the region that I live in. There were times that I wanted to grill but there was so much snow on the grill cover and I would have had to dig a path, that I just couldn’t do it. Sounds like a cop out even to me. In younger days I’d have been out there with a snow shovel and a broom to brush off the grill. But as I said, I have no recollection of this much snow here in all my years on this earth. My Pop used to keep the grill in the garage in the winter. He would pop the door open and stand there and grill steaks, burgers, chops, whatever. I unfortunately do not have a garage. I would keep it in the shed, but the shed is small and filled pretty much to the brim with mower, tiller, snow blower, etc. Not really room in there for my grill, let alone starting it up in there in the middle of winter.

Well enough said. I whimped out this past winter. My grill has now been idle for 2 1\2 months. It is not probable that spiders have nested in to my burner tubes, but a good cleaning and once over of any propane grill after sitting idle is a good idea. You should check over your grill at least twice a year anyway and it’s a good idea to inspect your hoses and tanks any time that you are about to add flame to LP gas. For further info you can revisit our posts on Cleaning and Maintenance and Checking Your LP Gas Tank for Leaks.

Even if you don’t use a propane grill, it is time for us Northerners to get back out side to grill. Go buy a bag of charcoal, get some hickory chip, or apple wood. Fire up that Brinkmann smoker grill.. Get your Weber going. Take the old Hibachi out of the garage. Let’s push grilling and BBQ season into full swing. Time to cook some meat! Slow or fast, whatever your pleasure. Spring is in the air! So should be the smell of grilling meat!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011 @ 09:03 PM

The ways of the world have certainly changed of late. The food industry has taken a slight turn. After the stock market crash and the huge rise in unemployment, many people have turned to the food industry to supplement or replace old incomes. People have to eat no matter what. People can cook, or they can’t. Some people are better than others at cooking, but some things do not take a degree in brain surgery to cook.

In the past, even in my life time, when times were hard, people were and are still going out to eat. Maybe not to real fancy restaurants, but a place that serves a good meal for a fair price, usually has a full parking lot, especially on the weekends. For people that are still working, after a long work week, who wants to cook dinner? There is a local eatery that I like to frequent, and have for years now, almost every Friday. The food is decent, the prices are fair, and they actually have the added bonus of a free salad and free soft beverages, tap beer and house wine with your meal. It is family friendly and even my picky kids managed to find something to eat every time we go there. They have a very large burger menu but they also serve other things like fish, chicken, steak, etc.

So as I said, people still have to eat. You can eat while you are at work, you eat at festivals, you can even eat at the beach or just walking down the street. Some people have decided to try and cash in on this. Food carts have been around for centuries. People used to sell bread and wine at stadiums and arenas in ancient Rome and Greece. In past years, things more likely to be seen were pretzel and hot dog carts in big cities like New York. Starbuck’s coffee carts in Seattle.There were hot dog trucks on the side of the road. Coffee trucks pulled into industrial area parking lots where people didn’t have a deli or pizza place close enough to grab a quick bite. Ice cream trucks and food vendors with all kinds of food could be found at fairs. Many deep fried foods like french fries, fried dough, and funnel cakes are standard festival food products. All of these staples are still available, but let me tell you, we’ve come a long way from the hot dog truck baby!

The West Coast of the United States has virtually exploded with food vendors, food trucks and food carts. It is spreading slowly across the states too. The choices of food are endless too. We are talking basic American fare like burgers and pressed sandwiches to foods with strong ethnic roots from every region of the world. And we are not just talking any old burgers either. You can get gourmet burgers right on the side of the road. People are trailering BBQ smokers and outdoor propane deep fryers and setting up for the lunch crowd on a daily basis. Deep fry carts are not just for the fair grounds anymore. You can set up a Friday Night Fish Fry almost anywhere now. Fish tacos are gaining popularity throughout the U.S. now. You can pull up to a food truck and get empanadas or gumbo. You can find fine French cuisine or all organic food. The options are endless and people are coming up with new ideas every day.

They do say that necessity is the mother of invention. If you lost your job, and can’t find a new one, why not create one for yourself. Find something that you can cook well and bring it to the masses. You will want to look into the laws of your state and city regarding the sale of food to the public, and the operation of deep fryers and grills in public places, but why not? Our nation was formed by people with new thoughts and ideas. People gotta eat! Why not go out there and feed them?

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Friday, March 18, 2011 @ 04:03 PM

Yes controversy.

I have been making Irish soda bread for years. My recipe comes from The Fanny Farmer Baking Cookbook. The prologue to the recipe even states that Traditional soda breads are NOT SWEET! They can accompany any meal.

My husband grew up in Ireland. He always told me that the recipe that I made, tasted just like Grandma’s. Though Grandma’s was cooked in cast iron in a peat oven. Mine was, and still is, baked in an 8″ cast iron skillet in my oven.

It irks me to no end when I go into a store during the St. Patrick’s Day season,  and see Irish soda bread all done up with raisins, or caraway seeds, and then covered in a hard sugar cookie glaze. This is the farthest thing from traditional Irish soda bread that you can get. When Americans decided that traditional Irish fruit bread was traditional classic soda bread, I do not know. It is made with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), therefore making it a soda bread or cake, but it is so far from classic soda bread that it is not funny.

Poor people in Ireland certainly did not have the sugar and raisins for daily bread. Why would you use sweet cakey bread with raisins in it to sop up your lamb stew anyway? But a nice moist, fresh piece of bread slathered with butter is perfect here. Left over bread was usually toasted and slathered with butter and preserves or put in the frying pan to sop up bacon grease and then toasted to perfection. Certain times of the year, you were lucky to get any fruit at all anyway. At Christmas time it was a very special present if you received an orange or other piece of fruit with your gifts.

Traditional Irish fruit bread has many names. Spotted Dog, Sweet Cake, Curnie Cake, Spotted Dick or Railway Cake depending on the area of Ireland that you came from. Given the sweetness of this item, it would be appropriate to sprinkle powdered sugar on top or maybe even a glaze of sugar. But this is not what you want to eat with your Shepherd’s Pie or your boiled corned beef, which by the way is another American tradition, not Irish. This is something you would eat for tea or after dinner as a dessert item.

I am going to include the recipe for both Classic Traditional soda bread, and Spotted Dog so that you may see the similarities, but the definite differences.

Classic Irish Soda Bread:

4 cups flour

1 1\2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking SODA

2 cups buttermilk (milk with tablespoon or 2 lemon juice…let it sit & curdle a minute before you add it to flour mixture)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Grease an 8″ cast iron skillet. In large bowl toss together dry ingredients. Add buttermilk…stir briskly with fork til dough forms together in a rough mass. Knead on a liberally floured surface for about 30 secs. Pat into a 8″ round about 1 1\2 thick (mine is always thicker than that) Slash a large 1\4″ deep cross across the top. Place in cast iron skillet & bake 45-50 mins. or until nicely browned and the cross has spread open. Transfer to a rack to cool, then wrap in a slightly damp tea towel and let it rest for 8 hours. Wrapping the baked, cooled bread in a damp towel helps it to settle and makes it easier to slice.

Spotted Dick:

4 cups  flour

2 tsp. sugar

1\2 tsp. salt

1\2 tsp. baking soda

1\2 cup raisins, sultanas, or currents

1 1\2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

1 egg (optional…you probably won’t need all the milk if you use the egg)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the fruit and mix well.

Making a well in the center, add the egg and\or milk. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Place in an 8″ cast iron skillet. Cut a 1\4″ deep cross in the top. Bake in the 450 degree oven for 15 mins. then turn down the temp. to 400 degrees F and cook for an additional 30 mins. or until cooked.

Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and spread with butter. Or you can cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar or put a sugar glaze on at this point.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 07:03 PM

When using a BBQ smoker, it is always good to get an idea of the types of woods that produce certain flavors, and what meats they pair well with.

Two very popular woods that are used to smoke meat are hickory and mesquite. They are both readily available at your local box store or hardware store.

Hickory wood produces a pungent, smoky, bacon-like flavor. This pairs well with all types of meat like poultry, beef, pork, ham and fish.

Mesquite produces a  sweet and delicate flavor. The flavor pairs particularly well with poultry, beef and even lamb.

Your fruity woods produce a sweet and delicate flavor. Cherry and apple wood pair perfectly with pork. They also go well with poultry and the apple wood pairs well with fish as well.

Maple wood gives off a sweet yet subtle flavor of smoke. You might try pork and poultry here.

Pecan wood produces a bold and hearty flavor. Poultry, fish, and pork are great options here.

Alder is a favorite of the natives in the Pacific Northwest to smoke salmon and halibut with. It gives off a delicate woody, smoke flavor.

Most fruit and nut woods are great for smoking meat. Some hardwoods like oak are great as well. Just stay away from high resin producing woods like pine. Not only can they be deadly, they can make your food bitter as well.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011 @ 04:03 PM

I just became aware of something new. New to me anyway. I have never thought of a head of cabbage as an item to grill on my Brinkmann grill. I always think of cabbage as boiled with corned beef, or chopped and grated for slaw. Grilling it is simple enough to do. It would be great for a tailgate menu just for the simplicity alone. It would make a nice addition to any grill menu.

Take a whole cabbage. Remove the core. Fill the core with 1\3 stick of butter, salt and pepper. Wrap the whole head in foil, and throw it on the grill. Cook until tender. (Adding a strip of applewood smoked bacon or 3 in the foil might make some nice flavor too).

Another take on this simple but tasty side dish is to quarter the cabbage, rub it with olive oil, sprinkle with Cajun spice, or other spices, and throw it on the grill.  Again, just cook until tender.

This would make a nice addition to a rack of ribs or pulled pork.  There are many ways to make this one your own. Have fun with it.

A bit more hard core version of the grilled head of cabbge comes from the BBQ man himself :

(Based on a recipe from Raichlen’s BBQ USA) Take a medium to large head of cabbage and core out the top to a depth of about 3-4 inches.  In a cast iron skillet, sauté a diced jalapeno pepper and half a small onion.  Add approximately 8 ounces of chorizo or andouille sausage and cook.  Once done, transfer the meat mixture to a strainer and collect the draining fat.  In a bowl, add the meat mixture to 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese.  Place the meat and cheese mixture in the head of the cabbage and top with more cheese and a tablespoon of butter.

Grill the cabbage for approximately 2 hours.  If the cabbage begins to darken too much put an aluminum foil tent over it.  When you can stick a skewer all the way through the cabbage, it’s done.  Remove from the grill, cut into pieces, and serve.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 @ 04:03 PM

Well it is Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. The eve of the Lenten season.

I, for one, am not Catholic, but of the Christian faith. My family was not strict about Lent, but we did follow a no meat policy on Fridays. We used to go to the local fish market, every Friday during Lent, as they would make deep fried fish meals, for just about the whole town. Deep fried flounder, shrimp, scallops, and clam strips, with french fries and cole slaw on the side. And boy, did they make a mean cole slaw. Probably one of the best I have ever eaten, and have never been able to replicate no matter how hard I’ve tried.

I have decided not to fire up my outdoor propane deep fryer this evening for a fish fry, (Maybe on Friday), and have opted for using my slow cooker to make a nice pot of jambalaya this evening. I have shrimp, chicken and Andouille sausage for my jambalaya and I have some pulled pork on the side. The red wine is flowing already. Yes, I am over indulging before Lent, but I plan on putting the FAT in Fat Tuesday.

For dessert, my sister and I both are going to follow a tradition of a different sort. This Fat Tuesday, would have been my Pop’s 72nd birthday. My mom always made him cream puffs for his birthday. They were his favorite. I have never made them before, so I am in new territory here. Mom always made a batch of vanilla pudding and chocolate pudding to fill our puffs with. I have done the same, but of course over indulged and made custard out of the vanilla. I have some confectioners sugar to sprinkle on top.

Well, eat, drink, and be merry! Have a great Mardi Gras!

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Monday, March 7, 2011 @ 03:03 PM

I came across a person recently that started a business using an outdoor propane deep fryer. This gentleman and his wife deep fry french fries at festivals and fairs. One of the things that I found to be quite curious was the amount of frying oil that he was going through. He had a 3 gallon fryer and was using 6 gallons of frying oil per day per function.

I am really not sure where all the oil is going. I’m sure that he has been frying his potatoes at a high enough temperature that the oil is not being absorbed into the fries. The only real explanation that I have is that I think the man is not draining his baskets. It almost seems as if they are lifting the frying baskets out of the cooking chamber and immediately dumping the fries into a fry dumping station or french fry station without draining them first. I know that when you really get busy, draining can be a hassle, but lets face it, frying oil in large quantities can get expensive. You want to get as much return as possible. If it takes 10 sales to cover your initial costs before profit, you don’t want to turn that into another 10 sales to cover costs again halfway through your day.

My suggestion to this gentleman, besides telling him to buy an R & V Works Cajun Fryer, which should reduce his oil usage from the start, was to drain the baskets before dumping. Even just taking out two baskets at the same time and tapping them together, should release some clinging oil, and reduce his oil consumption. Even with over extended usage, like deep frying all day long, he should not be using that much oil. Hopefully, the Cajun Fryer and the added suggestions helped.

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