Clapping On The Down Beat

Just another WordPress.com site

Try It Tuesday August 30, 2016

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

Collard Greens.

DSC_0002

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.

DSC_0001

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.

DSC_0004

DSC_0005

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

DSC_0003

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.

DSC_0007

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.

 

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.

IMG_2486

 

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.

Unknown  IMG_2496

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.

IMG_2497

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.

 

 

Im no vegan…… February 17, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Sharing and Caring,Step by step,Yoga — clappingonthedownbeat @ 1:23 PM

I am not vegan by any stretch.  I have been a vegetarian.  I consider myself a possibiltarian.    What?  I am open to trying possibilites.  I know what I like and I usually stick to that (never have been a steak fan), but I also don’t turn my nose up at trying something.

There is a coffee shop that sells a zucchini muffin that I adore.  It just happens to be a vegan prodcut.  I am attempting to replicate it.

Vegan baking can be tricky.  No dairy.  No eggs.  Lots of substitutes.

These muffins are pretty tasty and approved by my family.

For the egg replacement:

Soak 6 Tbsp ground flaxseed in 1/2 c. hot water.  Set aside

IMG_2097

In a large bowl mix 1/2 c. melted coconut oil, 2 c. raw sugar (turbinado) or light brown sugar, 1/2 c. applesauce, 1 tsp vanilla.  Mix well.  Shred 1 large zucchini (for about 2 cups).  Mix into wet ingredients.  Add flaxseed- should be like a paste.  In another bowl mix dry ingredients- 2c. flour, 1 c. whole wheat flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp salt.  Add dry to wet and stir just till combined.  It will be lumpy.

IMG_2098

Spoon into muffin tins- this made 20 muffins for me.  I sprinkled a little raw sugar over the tops of the muffins ( I like the crunch).  Then bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes.

IMG_2099

Yum!  I plan to freeze some to save for later in the week.

 

Traveling by tastebuds February 16, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Step by step,travel — clappingonthedownbeat @ 2:04 PM

It’s not always possible to jet set and experience another culture, but you can travel easily with your tastebuds experiencing other cultures through food.

It’s amazing to go back and looks at some cuisines of Europe and then see the influence that has spread into regional cooking in the US.  If your looking for a fun tour- try looking into countries that were into exploration.

I happened to find a great deal on a bottle of saffron.  Saffron is the dried stigmas from a small purple crocus. Each flower provides only three stigmas, which must be carefully hand-picked and then dried, an extremely labor-intensive process. It takes 225,000 stigmas to make one pound of saffron, making saffron the most expensive spice in the world.  Saffron is used in spice blends for paella, curry, and bouillabaisse.  Saffron is native to the Mediterranean, and most imported saffron comes from Spain.

341.jpg

This recipe is for a braised chicken dish.  Last week I was using different thickeners for sauces.  This sauce is really interesting in that it uses hard boiled egg yolks and nuts to thicken the sauce.  Chicken thighs, unlike chicken breasts, do better when cooked longer.  Chicken thighs, which are less expensive, are dark meat full of flavor and can hold up to stews and braising without drying out.

Season chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper.  I happened to get skinless, so when adding to the skillet add a little olive oil.

IMG_2063

Brown on both sides.  This will take about 10 minutes total.  Then remove the thighs to a plate.  Add 1 diced onion and 3 cloves minced garlic.  When the onion is translucent add 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 whole bay leaf.  Stir.  Add 3/4 c. sherry,  1 c. chicken stock, and 1 can diced tomtaoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Add chicken back into skillet, cover and place in a 350 degree oven till  chicken reaches 190 degrees.

IMG_2064

When the chicken comes out of the oven, ladel out about 1 cup of the liquid/sauce into a blender with 2 hard boiled egg yolks (save the white for garnish), 1/2 c. toasted slivered almonds, and a pinch of saffron.

IMG_2065

IMG_2066

Add puree to chicken and stir in.  Squeeze a half of lemon over the sauce.  Serve into bowls and top with chopped egg white and parsley.  Enjoy a taste of Spain!

 

New Toy February 4, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 8:46 PM

I have beef done two ways- both in a crockpot, but one is done in a browning crockpot.

I recently got a new toy- a browning slow cooker.  What’s different?  This crockpot has an aluminum insert rather than a ceramic insert like most crockpots.  I made pot roast in the browning crockpot and beef stew in the traditional crockpot.

Season the meat on both sides really well with salt and pepper.

IMG_2030

I set the crockpot to “brown” and I was able to get a really nice sear and color on both sides of this chuck roast.  Misconception: browning or searing meat does not lock in juices, it creates a maillard reaction-one of the most important flavor producing reactions in cooking, it develops meat’s flavor.

After it browned I then added red wine and beef stock, about equal amounts, just barely covering the meat.  I set the crockpot on low and let it braise for 10 hours.

I like to roast the vegetables seperatly rather than have them cook and get mushy.

IMG_2034

I cook the onions in a skillet and let them carmelize, soften, sweeten and get color.  I removed the onions and added the mushrooms to cook off the moisture.  On a sheet pan I drizzled some olives oil, added cubed potatoes and carrots and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I roasted them at 400 for 30-40 minutes.

In the ceramic crockpot I added cubed beef and the covered it with red wine and beef stock and I set it on high for 4 hours, then set it to low with the lid off to let some of the liquid evaporate.

IMG_2032.JPG

I skim some of the fat off the surface and then I thicken the sauce.  There are many ways to thicken a sauce.  Cornstatch and water make a slurry.  In a small bowl mix water and cornstarch till it is all incorporated, then add it to your soup/stew/sauce.  Otherwise it will clump and clumped cornstarch tastes bad.

Heavy cream will add richness and slightly thicken sauces.

Rues are equal parts cooked fats (oil, butter….) and flour.  Rues are how cheese sauce for mac and cheese starts off and also how I started the pasta fagioli soup.

Beurre manie.

IMG_2033

Beurre manie (French “kneaded butter”) is a dough, equal parts of soft butter and flour, used to thicken soups and sauces.   I like beurre manie for beef stew.

IMG_2035

After the stew is thickened, I add the roasted vegetables and serve.

Beef done two ways.

 

 

One Pot Meal January 16, 2016

Filed under: Interests,Meal Planning,Step by step — clappingonthedownbeat @ 9:26 PM

Continuing with the theme of quick easy meals this week, here is another.  White bean and Kielbasa Cassoulet.

First- A quick tip on cutting onions.

Slice the top of the onion off (NOT the root end) and then peel the onion.  Then slice the onion in half – through the root.

IMG_1926

Then, hold the onion with your palm and make horizontal slices (at least 4 from the bottom to the top) towards the root end- but do not cut through the root.  The root will hold the onion slices in place while you cut.

IMG_1927

Next make vertical slices across the onion, again not cutting through the root (about 5-6).

IMG_1928

Turn the onion 1/4 turn and slice the onion top to bottom.  This is the easiest way to dice an onion.

IMG_1929

Place the diced onion in a large pot with about 2 Tbsp olive oil.

IMG_1930

Over medium high heat, cook the onion till translucent.  Add 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 tsp dried thyme.  Then add 1 can of diced tomatoes with juice and one can of northern white beans with lquid.

IMG_1931

One medium heat, stir the pot.  Meanwhile, slice 1 link (or package) of really good smoked kielbasa.  This is important.  This is where really good flavor is added so you need a good sausage (preferably not a large commercial brand like Oscar M  or Hillshire).  Add the smoked kielbasa.

IMG_1933

Over the pot and let it simmer on LOW for 30 minutes (or up to an hour or so).  Laddle into bowls.  Garnish with some buttered toasted bread.  I took some left over rolls, buttered them and placed them in a hot cast iron skillet to toast.

IMG_1934

5 thumbs up.  It was asked to be placed in our regular rotation.