Clapping On The Down Beat

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Try It Tuesday August 30, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:01 AM

Collard Greens.

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Collards are in the cabbage family and is an edible leaf that was also used as an ornamental garden plant (like the popular kale).  I think they are over looked.

Many southern recipes will start with ham hocks and then cooking the collards down.  This is a very delicous dish, but today I am taking an Italian twist.

Start with diced pancetta.  Cook till it is crispy and some of the fat has rendered out.

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See all the bown coloring on the bottom of the pan?  That is called fond- and its all flavor.  The best way to “clean a pan” is to deglaze.  Remove the crispy pancetta and set aside.  Add some chicken stock or broth, about 1 1/2 cups- 2 cups and scrape the bottom of the pan. Let the  stock/broth simmer.

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Next strip the leaves off the stem of the collards.  I stack the leaves and roll them, then cut into strips.

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Wash the leaves really well.  Then add to the simmering liquid.

DSC_0006Let the pot simmer for 45-60 minutes.  Stir every once in a while just to make sure there is a little liquid in the bottom.  If needed add a little more stock/broth.  When its is all cooked down finish with some chopped garlic, about 3 cloves.  Add garlic at the end so it doesn’t burn.  Cook for about 1 minute till the garlic is fragrant and then add the pancetta back in and a few dashes of red wine vinegar.

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Makes a great side dish with some pasta, or polenta.  If you take a southern route then serve it with cornbread, mac and cheese and some pan fried chicken.  It is an overlooked, delicous and nutritious vegetable.

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An Ending is really a Beginning May 25, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:17 PM

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Two weeks ago was graduation.  I actually finished all my course work in Decembe 2015, but they only do a graduation once a year in May.  This had been a long time coming and I decided to go.  I thought it would be fun for the kids to see too.

It was a little bitter sweet.  I think I could have stayed in school and kept taking classes.  But, I got this really cool job as a Chef for Williams Sonoma.  It’s “casual” employment, meaning I get to pick and choose my hours.  I teach cookbook classes, I demo equipment (hello! play time) and I teach techniques classes.  It doesn’t even feel like work.  I get to talk about food and cooking the whole time.  It feels like a square peg in a square hole.

Here’s a few of the fun things I have been doing:

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This is an easy pan roasted chicken with garlic, thyme, rosemary and olive oil.  After 40 minutes in the oven some bread cubes get tossed in to soak up the juices and to use as croutons for the salad.

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This was for the cookbook club dinner at WS.  It was served with spiralized zucchini noodles, and a power greens salad and quick vinaigrette.

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For dessert I whipped up a vegan chocolate mousse made from avocado, almond butter, maple syrup, and almond milk.  It was topped with a cashew cream.  I think it was better than the real thing.

Last weekend I taught a technique class on flavors of Mexico.  I cooked Oaxaca black beans, roasted chicken and then made nachos with two fruit salsas.

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Tomorrow I am teaching a class for a friend on how to prepare and cook ahead for the week using leftovers.  Then back to WS Friday where I get to demo the infrared smokeless indoor grill.  I’ll be featuring the WS rubs on pork chops, corn on the cob and making a quick beer bread.

If your in the area, come visit me in the Stonebier Mall!

 

Oh Sweet Breakfast. May 15, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 3:36 PM

I  {L O V E}  Breakfast.  French toast, pancakes, bicuits, coffee cakes, egg bakes, croissants, kringles ……

So here is a new breakfast treat, or dessert. Bostock.

First, make frangipane.

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract

Place almonds and sugar in a food processor and pulse till nuts are finley ground.  Then add softened butter, egg and extract.  Pluse till it comes together as a paste.

Slice a loaf of challah or brioche (thick cut soft bread).  You can brush with a vaniall simple syrup (1 cup water + 1 cup sugar + 1 vanilla bean or add 1tsp vanilla extract when cooled- bring to a boil till sugar dissolves then let cool).  Then spread 1 Tsp apricot jam (or your favorite) over the bread.  Then spoon over 2-3 Tbsp frangipane over the jam.  Place bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 13-16 minutes till top is golden.  Then sprinkle with powedered sugar.

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Secret short cuts May 13, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Organization,Sharing and Caring,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:21 PM

I usually like soup for lunch, but with the weather warming up, sometimes I like a little variety.  Yes, salads are good, but even salads after a while get boring.

How about a Ploughman’s Lunch?

If you like to nibble or snack, this is a great lunch.  It is a English “farmer’s lunch”.  It can consist of hard boiled eggs, cold cuts, bread, crackers, cheese, fruits (fresh or dried), vegetables, dips/spread and nuts.

Starbucks even has some bistro boxes that look like a ploughman’s lunch.

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I love Machego cheese, crackers, apples, cashews or almonds, hummus, carrots…..the list goes on.

Here’s a quick trick to hard boiled eggs.  I take a muffin tin, either 6 cup or 12 cup, and place an egg in each one.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the eggs for 30 minutes and then place immediatly into an bowl of ice water.  Let them cool 5-10 minutes and then store in the fridge.

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We also eat a lot of oatmeal.  I buy a 7lb bag of steel cut oats at a time.  I can grind up my own oat flour or eat oatmeal.  Steel cut oats take a long time to cook, so to short cut a breakfast, I bring 3 cups water to boil in a pot in the evening.  When I it boiling I add 1 cup steel cut oats, turn the burner off, and cover the pot.  I let it sit overnight.  In the morning, I add 1/2c. milk and heat up the oatmeal.  It’s creamy and perfect and makes for a hearty fast breakfast.  I have one who likes to stire in peanut butter, one who likes raisins and I like dried fruit and a little granola.

 

 

A Little Reflection. May 9, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:48 PM

I went to a memorial service today.  For a 1 year old.  And even though, it was anticipated, it seemed sudden.

The family frequently posted journals on Caring Bridge, and I always appreciated the honesty, faith and love that they shared through the posts.  It was a way to feel connected.

Knowing that I was teaching yoga today, then my tire light went off in the car, and I rushed home to get the kids after school for the memorial, I had not planned dinner.

Pressure cooker.   We have a love/scared to death relationship.

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It really is fantastic.  It just scares me when the steam starts coming out.  Really.  I stay out of the kitchen till the timer goes off.

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I bought some heirloom Mexican beans when I was in California.  These cooked up beautifully in the pressure cooker with a ham hock and an onion.  They were the size of a kidney bean, the color of a pinto (like a milk chocolate) but really creamy.

And how about a bacoeggcado?  A poached egg, in an avocado wrapped in bacon.  I am still working on getting the bacon to stay on wrapped tightly on the avocado.

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Back into the Routine April 25, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring — clappingonthedownbeat @ 7:58 PM

Coming back from a break can make it hard to get back into the routine.

I haven’t been as good about writing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been making messes in the kitchen.

Here’s a fun recipe and a great secret tip.

Mediterranean Sliders:

1 pkg ground turkey or chicken

4 green onions, finely chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

(optional: 1/4 c. – 1/3 c. feta cheese)

In a bowl gently mix all ingredients .  Form small patties (sliders).  Sauté in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.  Serve on slider buns or in a pita with cucmbers, tomatoes and lettuce.

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I really like hummus and  taziki sauce with this too.  (Mix plain greek yogurt with shredded cucmbers, fresh dill, lemon juice, salt/pepper).

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Quick Hummus:

One 15-ounce can chickpeas- drained and reserve liquid
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup well-stirred tahini, use store-bought
large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water

I like to saute the garlic in the olive oil first.  Then in a food processor, puree all the ingredients.  Add water as needed to thin out the hummus.

Here’s a secret:  save the chickpea liquid.  It’s high in protein and it can be whipped up like egg whites.  I use them as an egg replacement for baking or in my waffle recipe.  Save your eggs to eat and bake with replacements.

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I also finished a quilt for my science-loving son while he was away at camp.

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It’s not all gourmet March 28, 2016

Filed under: Meal Planning,Saving Money — clappingonthedownbeat @ 1:56 PM

I hope there is not a feeling out there that everything I make is always some gourmet affair.  I’d like to share with you “leftover night dinner”.  This is where I see that there are some leftovers- but not enough for us all to eat- and I look through the pantry (make sure you rotate your can goods and check expiration dates!) and I dump everything together.

I had left over tater tots, half a bag of frozen corn, a can of chili beans, a can of diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, leftover cook ground bisonand about 1 1/2 c. leftover chicken broth.  At this point we culd have leaned towards a chili- but I went with taco seasoning.

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The tater tots broke apart and just look like diced potatoes.

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I also had some lettuce to use up and I always have sour cream and cheese.   From here this would make a great filling for enchiladas, or taco lasagna.  We ate it in bowls topped with lettuce, sour cream and cheese.

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I had another quick fix dinner this weekend.  I had a bag of red potatoes that I boiled up and then mashed.  We had a mashed potato bar- eat when you are hungry.  And yes, I do have that one child on occasion who decides that they really don’t like whatever I have fixed.  But, I am pretty firm in “this is what’s for dinner”.  If you don’t want to even try it, then there is a banana on the counter.  No one has ever starved  here.  If they are hungry, they eat it.

Panzanella 

This is traditionally a  Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes that’s popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar.  But for Easter I made a simple spring version.  This could be a meal in itself.

1 loaf seed and nut bread (I found one a Costco-Delicious) this could also be leftover loaf bread

1 Pkg frozen peas

1 bunch pencil thin asparagus- cut off just the top third

1 English cucumber- sliced

1 bunch watercress (usually sold in a package near lettuce section)

1/2 c. Olive oil

1/4 c. red wine vinegar

1 large shallot, minced

2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

salt/pepper

Cube bread into crouton (bite sized) pieces.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and toast in the oven at 375 10-15 minutes.  Should be crunchy all the way through. (I did this the day before)

In a bowl mix olive oil, vinegar, shallot and dill.  Wisk.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop in peas and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Remove and place in a bowl of ice water (sometimes I cheat and place on a sheet pan and then stick in the fridge)  Repeat with asparagus (this is called blanching- brings the green out and par cooks the vegetables).

When ready to assemble- toss peas, cucmbers, asparagus, watercress and bread in dressing.  Serve.