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12 posts from January 2016

01/29/2016

~ Sauerkraut Yesterday -- Sauerkraut Cakes Today ~

IMG_1600I'm feeling brave today.  I'm going to share an intriguing recipe for sauerkraut that even some of you fermented-cabbage lovers might not know about:  'kraut cakes.  These are the cabbage world's version of the potato pancake, and its cousin, the mashed potato cake -- recipes that hail from our Eastern European ancestors (necessity-driven, inventive cooks who knew how to stretch and transform leftover 'this or that' into a delicious new meal).  Pair these up with some pan-fried kielbasa coins, a bit of brown mustard and/or a bowl of warm applesauce to the side and you've got a 30-minute-or-less, winner-winner, 'kraut-cake dinner.  All you need is a couple of cups of leftover (a day or three is perfect), fully-cooked and seasoned sauerkraut. 

Cooking sauerkraut is pretty straightforward.  You can follow the instructions on the back of the bag if you like (I never buy canned sauerkraut), or, if you have a favorite recipe for sauerkraut, feel free to use it.  This is my easy, all-purpose method for doing it, and, I hope you'll agree that the slightly-buttery taste of my 'kraut is just what every self-respecting 'kraut cake needs!

IMG_1402To cook the sauerkraut:

2  pound bag fresh sauerkraut, rinsed and well-drained (about 10 minutes prior to cooking)

6  tablespoons salted butter

1  cup diced yellow or sweet onion

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

IMG_1407 IMG_1413 IMG_1417 IMG_1429 IMG_1424                                       ~Step 1.  In 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, melt butter over low heat.  Add onion, pepper and salt.  Increase heat to medium-high and saute until onion is translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add sauerkraut along with 1/4 cup water.  Continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, lowering heat as needed to prevent scorching, until 'kraut is tender, 15 minutes.  Turn heat off, cover, and allow to steep on hot stovetop, 15 more minutes.

 Note:  This will yield 3 cups of cooked sauerkraut.  If you are using my buttery sauerkraut to make this recipe (and I hope you do because it is foolproof), refrigerate it overnight.

IMG_1514To make 6 or 9 sauerkraut cakes:

2 or 3  cups cooked sauerkraut, refrigerated overnight and returned to room temperature

2 or 3  large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 or 3/4  cup unbleached, all purpose flour

1  pound smoked kielbasa, cut on an angle into 1/2"-thick slices

IMG_1520 IMG_1525 IMG_1531 IMG_1535~Step 2.  In a medium bowl, place the sauerkraut.  Using a fork, beat the eggs and thoroughly incorporate them into the 'kraut.  Two tablespoons at a time, throughly incorporate the flour.  Set the pasty mixture aside for 10-15 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb any excess moisture.

IMG_1540 IMG_1538~ Step 3.  In a 16" electric skillet, heat a thin coating of vegetable oil to 250 degrees.  Using a 2 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place six level scoops of 'kraut mixture into the pan.  After 30-45 seconds, using your fingertips, flatten balls into 6 or 9, 3"-round, 1/2"-thick discs.

IMG_1544 IMG_1555~ Step 4.  Increase the skillet's heat to 275 degrees and saute until 'kraut cakes are nicely golden on both sides, using a spatula to turn them only once, about 4-4 1/2 minutes per side. IMG_1577 IMG_1562Don't rush it.  Using the spatula, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.  Do not turn the skillet heat off.  While the sauerkraut cakes are sauteing, slice the kielbasa as directed.  Add IMG_1570 IMG_1583the sliced kielbasa to the hot oil.  Saute, stirring almost constantly, cook until slices are golden on both sides, about 3 total minutes.  The entire cooking process will take a short 11-12 minutes.

IMG_1589~ Step 5.  Transfer the browned kielbasa to the plate with the sauerkraut cakes.  Serve ASAP with chilled or warmed applesauce to the side.  Just because I like Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard with my kielbasa, I add that to this delicious 'kraut & kielbasa meal too.

Be brave -- live dangerously -- serve 'Kraut Cakes & Kielbasa:

IMG_1614Admit it, if you are a sauerkraut lover, you're smackin' your lips!

IMG_1629Sauerkraut Yesterday -- Sauerkraut Cakes Today:  Recipe yields 6 or 9 sauerkraut cakes/2-4 servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; colander; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/lid; large spoon; 1-cup measuring container; 4-cup food storage container w/lid; electric skillet; 2 1/4" ice-cream scoop; spatula; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b0191030a07d8970cCook's Note:  I make a "mean" potato pancake too, and, just like I enjoy eating kielbasa with my sauerkraut cakes, every once in a while, I enjoy adding diced ham to my potato pancakes.  You can find my recipe for ~ Leftover Ham? Pass the Ham & Potato Pancakes ~ in Category 9.  While great for dinner, they're fantastic served for breakfast with maple syrup!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/27/2016

~ The NYC Pushcart Onions & Sauerkraut Hot Dog ~

IMG_1466Hot dogs -- one of my favorite subjects.  I relish eating them, never tire of discussing them, and, whenever we travel, if our destination is known for a style of hot dog, it's one of the things I make a point of eating while I'm there.  The New York-style hot dog is one I've not chatted with you about yet.  That said, had I not had advance, concise, clarification of what "dirty-water-dog" means (the affectionate but unappealing nickname New Yorkers have given their dogs), cuing up in line at the closest pushcart would not have happened and I wouldn't be writing this post.

1910-hot-dog-cartA bit about dirty-water-dogs and pushcarts:  It's said that the first "dachshund sausages" (named after the little sausage-shaped Dachshund dog breed) were sold by German vendors pushing wooden carts in the Bowery of NYC, during the 1860's.  The first "hot dog" stand (a term which  started as a humorous reference to the thin, long canine) opened on Coney Island in 1871 by a German butcher.  He sold 3,684 hot dogs the first year.  By 1890, college students coined the term "dog wagon" for vendors pushing and parking their carts across campuses, stopping to sell hot dogs outside of each dormitory along the way. (Above photo of wooden hot dog pushcart courtesy of ediblephotography.com.)

463439243_889The problem with the wooden pushcart:  Cooking hot dogs over any-type of open, portable flame was risky business.  More than a few of them burned to ashes.  The safe solution (circa the beginning of the 20th century):  Cooking, storing and transporting hot dogs in insulated containers of hot water.

Modern pushcarts (photo courtesy of foodcartkingdom.com), made of stainless steel with hinged water boxes for the dogs along with bins and/or shelves for condiments, still operate using the same rudimentary method.  Why? Permits.  A non-processing permit only allows a vendor to sell pre-made food -- like hot dogs and soft pretzels.  A processing permit allows cooking on a grill/flat-top griddle, which expands the menu a bit, with hot dogs being the classic, must-have favorite.

Dirty-Water-Dogs are simply Water-Heated Wieners

$_57The most famous dirty-water-dogs are found under the blue and yellow umbrellas of New York's Sabrett hot dog carts.  Sabrett is a famous brand of natural-casing beef frankfurters sold throughout the NY area.  They are indeed delicious, especially topped with with their red-hued onion sauce, sauerkraut and brown mustard, and, the water the dogs sit in isn't dirty at all. (In fact, NYC's water is so high-quality, it's coveted by pizza-dough makers all over the USA.)  It's got a foamy, grayish color due to the juices, salt, and flavorings that ooze into the steaming water from all the dogs that get added to it.

Rules mandate that the water must be kept at 140 degrees, but, hot dogs lose their flavor and texture if submerged for too long -- no longer than 15-20 minutes.  All you can do is trust the vendor on that one point, but, in order to participate in a traditional dirty-water-dog experience, even vendors with a grill/flat-top griddle on-board will tell you to eat your first dog drippy, right out of the water.  After that, they'll be more than happy to crisp one up on the griddle for you! 

6a0120a8551282970b0134892e6577970c IMG_2647 IMG_4210My recipes for ~ Mel's Texas-Style Chili Sauce & Texas Chili Dogs ~, ~ A Hot Dog with a Salad On Top?  Only in Chicago! ~ and, ~ Hot Diggity Dog:  New Jersey's Italian Hot Dogs +: Mel's Version of the NJ 'Pizza Bread' Hot Dog Roll ~ can all be found in Categories 2, 10 or 17.  What they have in common is a high-quality hot dog:

IMG_2587I use Hebrew National (my #1) and Nathan's (a bit saltier, but still a close #2).  Sabrett hot dogs are not #3.  They are not available to me in Central, PA.  For the purpose of writing this post, I went on-line to to order them, and, on Amazon with a Prime Membership, a 5-pound package would cost $84.99 + $16.24 shipping -- sorry Sabrett, I have an ax to grind with that.  When making dirty-water-dogs, be like me, use your favorite all-beef frankfurters.  Experts can banter over who's the top dog all they want, but, just like choosing chocolate, cheese or coffee, all that matters is what you like best.

Making my toppings:  Pushcart Onion Sauce & Sauerkraut

IMG_1337For the pushcart onion sauce:

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

4  cups, 1/4" half-moon sliced yellow or sweet onions

2  tablespoons honey

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon chile blend or chili powder

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

1/4  cup Heinz chili sauce (Note:  I like this better than versions of this recipe made with ketchup, tomato sauce or tomato paste.)

1  tablespoon  Frank's RedHot (cayenne pepper sauce)

1/2 cup cold water combined with 2 teaspoons cornstarch

IMG_1349 IMG_1355 IMG_1367~Step 1.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, and, stirring almost constantly, saute until they are soft and limp but not browned, about 6 minutes.  Stir in the honey, cinnamon, chili blend, sea salt and black pepper.  Continue to cook until spices are nicely distributed throughout the onions, 30-60 seconds.  Stir in the chili sauce and cayenne pepper sauce. 

IMG_1389 IMG_1379~ Step 2. Combine the water and cornstarch and add to mixture.  Adjust heat to a simmer and cook until sauce is nicely thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 30 minutes.  Transfer to  a 2-cup food storage container, cover, and set aside to cool to room temperature prior to serving.

Slightly-sweet with just enough heat (the perfect complement to the sauerkraut):

IMG_1396Making sauerkraut is pretty straightforward.  You can follow the instructions on the back of the bag if you like (I never buy canned sauerkraut), or, if you have a favorite recipe for sauerkraut, feel free to use it.  This is my easy, all-purpose method for doing it, and, I hope you'll agree that the slightly-buttery taste of this 'kraut is just what a self-respecting dirty-water-dog needs! 

IMG_1402For the sauerkraut:

2  pound bag fresh sauerkraut, rinsed and well-drained (about 10 minutes prior to cooking)

6  tablespoons salted butter

1  cup diced yellow or sweet onion

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

IMG_1407 IMG_1413 IMG_1417 IMG_1429 IMG_1424                                      ~Step 1.  In 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, melt butter over low heat.  Add onion, pepper and salt.  Increase heat to medium-high and saute until onion is translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add sauerkraut along with 1/4 cup water.  Continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, lowering heat as needed to prevent scorching, until 'kraut is tender, 15 minutes.  Turn heat off, cover, and allow to steep on hot stovetop, 15 more minutes.

Just sour enough, buttery and mellow (the perfect complement to the onion sauce):

IMG_1430Simmer hot dogs in water 6-8 minutes, place each drippy one on a bun atop sauerkraut, top w/onion sauce & drizzle w/Gulden's!

IMG_1474Perhaps the most prim & proper photo of a dirty-water-dog ever!

IMG_1490The NYC Pushcart Onions & Sauerkraut Hot Dog:  Recipe yields 2 cups of pushcart onion sauce, 3 cups of sauerkraut/enough toppings for 16 hot dogs.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/lid; large spoon; 1-cup measuring container; 2-cup food storage container w/lid; colander

81MDYxilioL._SX425_Cook's Note:  While I think my version of pushcart onion sauce is better than store-bought, if you're not inclined to make your own, you can purchase this condiment. Sabrett, the maker of the hot dogs, is obviously the most famous, but, there are several tasty brands to choose from.  Here in Happy Valley, Sabrett is available at Sam's club. It's also available from several sources on-line, including Amazon.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/24/2016

~ Old-Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookies ~

IMG_1316Oatmeal -- I've loved it since the first spoonful of Gerber's got fed to me (or so I am told).  I like my oatmeal creamy and smooth, I like it thick and lumpy, and, I especially like it crispy on the outside and chewy in the center of a cookie.  I prefer oatmeal cookies to chocolate chip cookies and I do not like chocolate chips in my oatmeal cookies.  If you are an oatmeal cookie lover, you already have a favorite recipe.  If you are in search of "the best" or "ultimate" oatmeal cookie recipe, you'll not find any claims of that here.  This is my grandmother's recipe.  There are no secret ingredients, just ordinary pantry staples.  These cookies stay on point:  oatmeal.

I am a sucker for a saucer-sized oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookie!

IMG_1323I haven't a clue where her recipe originated, but, I'd venture to guess it was printed on the box of a WWII-era (1930's, '40's-ish) box of Quaker oats.  As for the aromatic spices that typically go into oatmeal cookies, Baba was partial to premixed "apple pie spice" (a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice).  I'm thinking that "back in her day" is was a newly-marketed convenience product that she fell in love with (besides apple pie, she used it in several recipes including custard).  Being Eastern European, dried fruits (currants, dates, raisins, prunes, apricots) were pantry staples, and as for walnuts, she felt that "everything tasted better with walnuts added".

IMG_1176I didn't have to look far for a reason to heat my oven and bake a batch of my favorite cookies today.  It's a beautiful, sunny, peaceful day-after-THE-snowstorm here in Happy Valley.  After taking in the view from my kitchen window this morning, the next thing I saw was the Quaker Oats guy smiling at me when I toddled into the pantry to get the can of coffee -- the idea immediately planted itself in my head.  Watching movies and baking cookies in my warm kitchen today is a pleasant way to relax and enjoy a quiet afternoon.

IMG_11906  tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature

6  tablespoons butter-flavored shortening, at room temperature

8  ounces dark brown sugar (about 1 1/4 cups packed)

5  ounces sugar (about 3/4  cup) 

3  large eggs, at room temperature

1  tablespoon apple pie spice

1  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

10  ounces unbleached, all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)

3/4  teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

10  ounces old-fashioned, uncooked oats (about 3 1/4 cups)

8  ounces dark raisins (about 1 1/2 cups)

5  ounces chopped walnuts (a generous 1 cup)

IMG_1192 IMG_1198~ Step 1. Place the raisins in a bowl with enough hot water to cover them and set aside 15-20 minutes.  When she was baking with raisins, my grandmother always did this as it softens and plumps the them.  After 15-20 minutes, drain them into a small colander and set aside. While raisins are softening: weigh, measure and assemble all the other ingredients as directed.  In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

IMG_1201 IMG_1206 IMG_1209 IMG_1212~Step 2.  In a large bowl, on medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, combine the butter, shortening and eggs until creamy and uniform in color, 45-60 seconds.  Lower the mixer speed and blend in the apple pie spice and vanilla.  Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar.

IMG_1216 IMG_1219 IMG_1224 IMG_1228~Step 3.  Gradually increasing the mixer speed to high, beat in the sugars, scraping down sides of bowl with a large rubber spatula, until smooth, 45-60 seconds. Lower mixer speed to medium-low, and in three increments, incorporate the flour.  The mixture will be very thick and uniform in color.  Remove the mixer from the bowl -- you won't need it anymore.  Using the spatula, carefully scrape sides and bottom of bowl to be sure there are no small pockets of flour.  Using the spatula, thoroughly fold in the oats.  A thick, delicious cookie batter will have formed.

IMG_1244Note:  In the event you want plain, unadulterated oatmeal cookies, feel free to skip the next step and go straight to scooping and baking cookies as directed below.

IMG_1234~ Step 4. Using the spatula thoroughly fold the raisins and walnuts into the cookie dough.

IMG_1266 IMG_1260~ Step 5. Using a large 2 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place cookies, well apart, on each of two 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans lined with parchment. These are big cookies.  I place 12 on one pan and 6 on the other.

IMG_1273 IMG_1268~ Step 6. One-pan-at-a-time, bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 16-17 minutes.  They will be nicely, but lightly-golden on bottom, sides and top, and, to the touch, a bit soft in the centers. Remove from oven and cool in pans 5-6 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Cool completely, 1 hour, prior to storing in an airtight container:

IMG_1284Simple, straightforward & to the point:  My-Oh-My-Oatmeal!

IMG_1332Old-Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookies:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 dozen large bakery-style cookies.  If you bake smaller-sized cookies, remember to decrease the baking time.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; small colander; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 2  1/4" ice-cream scoop; cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b019afff10b49970cCook's Note:  For another oatmeal recipe from another grandmother ~ Nana's Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut-Cake ~, found in Categories 6 or 19, is one to check out.  This one's got a decadent broiled coconut topping!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/22/2016

~ Nana's Bare Bones PA Deutsch Chicken Pot Pie ~

IMG_1166I've never lived outside of the great state of Pennsylvania.  I was born and raised in Eastern, PA, the Lehigh Valley region, which has a large Pennsylvania Dutch community.  For the past forty years, I've lived here in Central Pennsylvania, which has a large Amish population.  In both farm cultures, pot pie isn't just a meal -- it's a relaxed, comforting, "pull-up-a-chair and join us for dinner" way of life.  Lucky am I to have learned how to make both styles of pot-pie.  Recipes do vary from cook to cook, and, yes there are cross-overs of both versions as people and recipes migrated throughout our state and the country, but, if you're interested in a tale of two pot-pies:

IMG_1110 IMG_1131In PA Deutsch country, their pot pie starts as a thin, brothy beef, chicken, ham or turkey soup containing simply celery, onion, parsley and seasoning. Large, thickish square-cut shortening-based noodles get rolled, cut and added, or, soft doughy balls of a similar mixture get dropped, into the pot to cook in the simmering soup (the latter is often referred to as chicken and dumplings).  As the noodles or dumplings cook in the soup, they thicken the broth to a sauce-like consistency.  This pot pie is ladled into bowls and eaten with a spoon.  While a bit prosaic looking, this soup is luxurious.  

IMG_1344 IMG_1491In Amish country, their pot pie, starts as a thick, creamy beef, chicken, ham or turkey stew containing lots of vegetables (carrots, celery, peas, potatoes, etc.).  The stew gets transferred to a large casserole dish (or small individual dishes) and topped with dollops of shortening-based biscuit-type dough or a rolled pastry crust and baked.  As the casserole bakes, the biscuit or pastry crisps and turns golden brown.  This pot pie is scooped onto plates and eaten with a knife and fork (or a spoon if it is baked in individual casseroles).  It is delicious.

Want to develop or re-create a favorite pot-pie recipe?  

IMG_1161Let's begin by discussing the difference between soup & stew:

Soup:  If you've simmered meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables in a pot of seasoned water-, wine-, juice- or milk- based liquid, you've made soup.  Soups can be thin, chunky, smooth, or, if you've thickened it in some manner after the fact (by adding potatoes, rice, beans, vegetables, or, used a mixture of cream or water mixed with cornstarch, flour or eggs), thick, meaning: having a stew-like consistency.  Soups in general (there are exceptions) tend to be refined and light tasting, using shreds of meat and/or small diced ingredients, or, pureed to a thin or thick, smooth consistency.  In many cases they can be prepared in less than 1-1 1/2 hours, and sometimes, as little as 15-30 minutes.  Soups can be served as an appetizer, side-dish, main course or dessert, but, are always served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon.  

Stew:  If you've cooked/sauteed your meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables in a small amount of seasoned oil, butter or fat, then added just enough of flour and liquid or thickened liquid to it to bring it to an almost gravy-like consistency, you've made a stew.  Stews tend to be full of chunky ingredients and full of bold herb and/or spice flavors.  Stews are hearty and filling and are almost always served as the main course.  Stews, because they require a longer, slower cooking time than a soup, sometimes 3-4 hours or longer, often in a tightly-covered vessel, are great for tenderizing tough cuts of meat.  Stews, while usually served in a bowl, can be spooned over a starch (couscous, rice, potatoes, etc) and turned into a knife and fork meal. 

You say Pennsylvania Dutch, We say Pennsylvania Deutsch!

6a0120a8551282970b01a3fcafef88970bI am here to make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either.  The term "Dutch" was the early English settlers slang for the German word "Deutsch".  So:  When most people incorrectly say "Pennsylvania Dutch", they should be saying "Pennsylvania Deutsch", crediting the Germanic or German-speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine.  The majority of these people were either Amish, Mennonite or Brethren, all of which were considered "Anabaptist".  They were fleeing the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany to avoid religious persecution and established several communites in the Lehigh Valley.  Why?  Thank William Penn for his free-thinking, open-door, equal-opportunity-for-all of any religion or race politics.  Pennsylvania set an example for the other colonies, who all had established an official "State" religion. Pennsylvania.  The first to welcome people of all beliefs and walks of life?  You betcha!

Nana was Pennsylvania Deutsch & her "bot-boi" was divine.

IMG_2007Way back when I was eighteen, Nana was my fiance's grandmother, and, she was as PA Deutsch as it gets.  She was a marvelous cook, baker and cross-stitcher.  I am grateful she gave me her recipes for ~ Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~ and ~ Shoo-Fly Pie (Give it a try!) ~.  On nights when she was making ~ Pennsylvania Dutch-Country Chicken and Waffles ~ or her "bot-boi", she invited the family because: she roasted a chicken or two to make the stew for the waffles (see Related Article link below), and, she put a huge pot of chicken stock on the stovetop to make the pot pie -- both of these meals are an event.

PA Deutsch pot-pie is a celebration of big, thick, homemade noodles bathed in a flavorful, thickened chicken stock and fall-off-the-bone tender chicken.  Period.

To make Pennsylvania Deutsch pot pie you need chicken broth with chunky pieces of cooked chicken, diced celery and onions.  Some people add coined carrots and/or potatoes to their pot pie.  Nana did not, she told me not to, and, most PA Deutsch cooks will tell you the same.  Pot pie is bare bones good eating -- it's a celebration of noodles swimming around in a pool of flavorful thickened chicken stock with pieces of fall-off-the-bone tender chicken.  This means you need to make some chicken stock.  This is my favorite recipe, but, feel free to use your own.

PICT3577For the chicken and chicken stock:

2  3 1/2-4 pound frying chickens, whole or split in half

8  quarts cold water

1 1/2  pounds yellow or sweet onion

3/4  pound peeled carrots

PICT35823/4  pound celery stalks

4  large garlic cloves

1  small bunch fresh parsley, or, 4-6 6"-8" rosemary springs (Note: I use parsley from my garden -- Spring, Summer and Fall.  In the Winter, I use rosemary from a small bush we bring indoors.)

3  tablespoons sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely-ground black pepper

PICT3586~ Step 1.  Place all of the ingredients in the stockpot, except for the pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, and, using a skimmer, remove and discard the white foam as it collects on top of the liquid. This will take about 10-12 minutes.  

Note:  If you had added the pepper, it would have collected in the foam and you'd be discarding it too.

PICT3592~ Step 2.  After you are done removing the foam, remove and discard the parsley or rosemary.  It will be limp and losing its bright green color.  This herb has done its job.  The result will be a stock that is lightly and pleasantly flavored by it, rather than overpowered by it.

~ Step 3.  Stir in the black pepper. Reduce heat to simmer gently, partially covered, for about 2 hours. Remove from heat, cover the pot, and allow to steep for about 1 hour.

IMG_1027 IMG_1015~ Step 4. Using a large slotted spoon and/or the skimmer, remove the chickens to two large plates.  Set aside. Remove and discard the veggies, with the exception of the carrots -- this is why many folks slice and add them to pot pie.  I just eat them with a bit of salt and pepper!

PICT3627~ Step 5.  Ladle the stock into a fat/lean separator.  Pour the stock from the separator, through a mesh strainer, into the desired-sized food storage containers, leaving about 1/2" of headspace at the top of each container to allow for expansion if you are freezing the stock.  Discard the fat from separator.  Repeat process until all stock has been separated and strained.

Use as directed in specific recipe or refrigerate overnight and freeze.

IMG_1032~ Step 6.  By this time, the chicken will be cool enough to handle with your hands.  Using your fingertips, methodically remove all of the skin, pick the bones for the meat, cover with plastic wrap and set aside while preparing the pot-pie noodles as directed below.

Note:  To this point, the stock and the chicken can be prepared 1-2 days ahead of making the noodles.

You will have 6 1/2-7-quarts of "liquid gold":

IMG_1041Now it's time to make some real-deal pot-pie noodles!

IMG_1044For every 2-quarts (8 cups) of chicken stock and 4 servings of chicken pot pie you will need:

1 1/2  cups cake flour

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

2  tablespoons butter-flavored shortening

1/4  cup additional bench flour IMG_1048(also cake flour)

Having the right equipment on-hand and ready to go makes these noodles super-easy to make:

large wooden pastry board; pastry blender; paring knife; small rolling pin; 12" ruler; pizza cutter; baking pan; parchment paper

IMG_1050 IMG_1052 IMG_1059 IMG_1060 IMG_1065~Step 1.  In a large bowl, place and stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Using a pastry blender and a paring knife, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until small grains form.

~ Step 2.  Add half of the milk. Using a spoon, stir until  crumbs begin to form.  Add the rest of the milk and stir until a rough dough comes together.  Do not overmix.

IMG_1074 IMG_1069~ Step 3. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of flour over the surface of pastry board.  

IMG_1070Gather up the dough in your hands, shape it into disc and place it on the board.  Pat and press it into a rectangular shape.

IMG_1082 IMG_1077~ Step 4. Using a small roller, gently roll dough into a 12" x 8" rectangle.  This size insures proper thickness. I use a ruler to measure and by bumping it up against the sides  every now and then, to shape the rectangle.

IMG_1087 IMG_1090~ Step 5. Using the ruler as a guide, cut the rectangle into 24, 2" squares.

IMG_1102Transfer the noodles to a baking pan lined with parchment and sprinkled with flour.  Cover with a towel and set aside 1-6 hours.

24, 2" square pot pie noodles made from 12 ounces dough:

IMG_1097Now it's time to make the chicken pot pie! 

IMG_11052  quarts chicken stock

3  cups shredded chicken

1  cup each small diced celery and onion

1  teaspoon Bell's poultry seasoning (Nana used Bell's only.)

24 pot-pie noodles

parsley, for garnish

freshly-ground sea salt & peppercorn blend, for seasoning

IMG_1115 IMG_1113~ Step 1. Place the chicken broth, chicken, celery and onions in a 4-5 quart stockpot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, adjust heat to simmer and continue to cook until onion and celery are tender, about 5-6 minutes.

IMG_1126 IMG_1118~ Step 2. With the soup simmering gently but steadily, begin dropping the noodles into the liquid, 1-2 at a time.  When all noodles have been added, lower heat and continue to simmer for about 15-16 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot and allow to steep and thicken a bit more, about 15-16 minutes.

Gently simmer noodles in broth for 15-16 minutes...

IMG_1131... turn heat off, cover pot & allow to thicken, 15-16 minutes...

IMG_1134... ladle pot-pie into bowls & serve garnished w/S&P & parsley.

IMG_1135Rock your comfort food world w/some old-fashioned bot-boi!!!

IMG_1144Nana's Bare Bones PA Deutsch Chicken Pot Pie:  Recipe yields 6 1/2-7 total quarts chicken stock and instructions to make as many pot pie noodles  and as much pot pie as you want.  Two quarts of stock and 24 noodles will yield 4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 16-20 quart stockpot w/lid; skimmer; large slotted spoon; soup ladle; fat/lean separator; fine mesh strainer; desired-sized food storage containers, preferably glass;  fork; plastic wrap; large wooden pastry board; pastry blender; paring knife; small rolling pin; 12" ruler; pizza cutter; baking pan; parchment paper; thin spatula; 4-5 quart stockpot; soup ladle

IMG_1491 IMG_1512Cook's Note: Modeled after the pot pie served at The City Tavern in Philadelphia (the oldest still operating tavern in the USA, dating back to 1773), my recipe for ~ Old-Fashioned Chicken Stew w/Puff Pastry Crust "Pot Pie" ~ can be found in Categories 2, 3, 17 or 19.  What a delight!

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c70428f1970bExtra Cook's Note:  A bit about Bell's Poultry Seasoning:  Bell's is America's oldest purveryor of seasonings, spices and stuffing mixes -- it all started in Boston in 1867 when Mr. Bell created a combination of herbs and spices that he called "Bell's Seasoning".  Trading ships carried his ingredients into Boston Harbor and his blend was soon a beloved staple in kitchens throughout New England.  Over a century later, the mixture remains unchanged.  It was Nana's & is my undisputed favorite!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/19/2016

~ Chinese: Crockpot Chicken & Egg Noodle Soup ~

IMG_0978I take soup seriously.  Next to a well-constructed sandwich or a well-composed salad, a well-executed soup is a perfect storm of a meal -- especially during a snow storm. Soup-, salad- and sandwich-making all have one thing in common:  all components must play well together.  Like a perfectly-tuned symphony, no one ingredient should take center stage for a solo unless the composer carefully orchestrates it.  No matter how simple or complicated, if one ingredient is out-of-sync, the performance, while possibly palatable, will not garner a standing ovation.

When one 4 1/2-pound pack of chicken tenders = 3 distinctly different delicious soups:

IMG_0749I dedicated this week to coming up with three distinctly different, easy-to-make chicken soup recipes for the crockpot.  I did this for me because I love soup.  I did this for you, because it is soup season and many of you have asked me to post more of my kitchen-tested, foolproof, crockpot recipes (they can all be found in Category 19).  I started by purchasing one large package of chicken tenders at Sam's club, some fresh vegetables, and then, used some on-hand pantry and spice-rack staples.

IMG_0891~ Easy-Does-It Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup ~.  Full of kidney and black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes and enchilada sauce, this spicy chile-powder-laced soup topped with cool Mexican crema and crispy tortilla wisps is a tribute to the American Southwest.

~ Indian:  Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup ~.  Sweet potatoes, carrots and canned pumpkin hook up with coconut milk and Indian spices, including Madras curry powder and garam masala for this aromatic treat.

A bit about Chinese noodle soup & fresh Chinese egg noodles:

IMG_0930The Chinese people take soup seriously and they are famous for many kinds.  In China, noodle soup is sold everywhere, including on the streets.  They have a myriad of versions, using different types of noodles, which vary from region to region.  One of my favorite street snacks was a soup dish called malatang.  Similar to hotpot, you walk up to a vendor and choose from an array of skewered raw meat and fresh vegetables.  The vendor takes your skewers and boils them in a pot of chicken or pork broth. Your personalized ingredients go into a bowl with some broth and some noodles, and, after you pay, off you go.  The price is determined by the number of skewers (which are all equally priced) you chose.

The Chinese not only have a myriad of soups to choose from, they have an almost overwhelming variety of noodles to choose from too.  Fresh Chinese egg noodles (thin and wide wonton noodles, and, Hong-Kong-style chow mein noodles and low mein noodles), found in all Asian markets (and larger grocery stores) are made with wheat flour and eggs and are yellow in color (which is often attributed to the addition of yellow dye).  Fresh egg noodles are also cooked to the point of only needing to be briefly reheated in a pot of simmering soup or tossed into a stir-fry at the end of the cooking process.  If kept sealed, they keep in the refrigerator about a week, and, once opened, for best results, should be used within 24 hours.

IMG_0894For the chicken/fresh and canned vegetables:

1 1/2  pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders

2  cups julienne of red bell pepper, julienne strips cut in half (from 2 bell peppers)

1  10-ounce bag matchstick carrots

IMG_09014  large garlic cloves

4  1 1/2" pieces fresh ginger (about 4 ounces unpeeled)

1  cup very thinly-sliced green onion, white and light green parts

2  cups sliced button mushroom caps (from 8 ounces mushrooms)

1  15-ounce can baby corn, well-drained and cut into quarters

1  15-ounce can golden mushrooms, well-drained

1  15-ounce can straw mushrooms, well-drained

For the stock and seasonings:

6  cups chicken stock (48 ounces)

1/4  cup chili-garlic sauce

1/4  cup hoisin sauce

1/4  cup oyster sauce

1/4  cup dark soy sauce

2  whole star anise (pictured in the small bowl with the garlic and ginger)

IMG_0932For the add-ins:

4  cups shredded Napa cabbage

1-2  pounds Chinese egg noodles

cilantro leaves

Note:  Cabbage will be added after first 2 hours of slow cooking.  The egg noodles will be heated and added to individual bowls.  The cilantro leaves are used as garnish.

Note about the noodles:  This soup yields 4 generous quarts.  One pound of Chinese egg noodles will be enough for 2 quarts of the soup -- two pounds is enough for the entire batch. Only heat (as directed below), just before serving time, as many noodles as you intend to use.

IMG_0903 IMG_0905 IMG_0911 IMG_0915 IMG_0923 IMG_0943 IMG_0944 IMG_0956~Step 1.  Arrange the chicken tenders in the bottom of the crockpot.  Add all of the fresh vegetables, followed by the canned vegetables.  Add the chicken stock, chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce and star anise.  Give the mixture a brief but thorough stir, put the lid on and cook for 4 hours on high setting.  After the first two hours, stir in the shredded Napa cabbage and continue to cook for the second 2 hours on high setting.

IMG_0974 IMG_0964Step 2.  Using a large slotted spoon, remove the chicken tenders, place them on a cutting board, and, using one or two forks, pull each one into bite-sized pieces.  Return the shredded chicken to the soup and give it a good stir.  Cover and allow to rest, on warm setting, 10-15 minutes.

IMG_0952 IMG_0950~ Step 3.  In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat.  By handfuls, slowly lower 1-pound Chinese egg noodles into the pot and allow to simmer for 30-45 seconds.  Do not overcook. Immediately drain into a colander and portion into 4-6 warmed serving bowls.  Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

Put oodles of noodles in a bowl & ladle soup in around them...

IMG_0984... and enjoy every slurp of full-throttle Chinese flavor:

IMG_1004Chinese:  Crockpot Chicken & Egg Noodle Soup:  Recipe yields 4 generous quarts of soup.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; fork; 4-quart saucepan; colander

IMG_9897Cook's Note:  "Hoisin", a slightly-sweet sauce, means "sea-fresh" in Chinese, but, contains no seafood, and, is not served with seafood dishes either.  It is used as a condiment, as well as in the preparation of many chicken and pork dishes, and, as a barbecue sauce for spareribs. Oyster sauce, a thick brown sauce, originally made from the boiling of oyster shells, their brine, and some soy sauce, is salty and a bit fishy tasting.  It's used almost exclusively as a seasoning sauce.  To learn more about these two popular and commonly used Chinese ingredients, take a moment to read my post ~ Time Out To Define:  Hoisin & Oyster Sauce ~, which can be found in Categories 8, 13, 15, or 16 ~.  

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/16/2016

~ Indian: Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup ~

IMG_0880I am an all-American girl who loves Indian food, especially curry.  I don't claim to be an expert on Indian cuisine, but, I dabble in it enough to know how to put "a pinch of this and a dash of that" in a pot or a pan and come up with an Indian-style dish that would make anyone who enjoys the flavors of India happy. What I'm attempting to say is, this is by no means an authentic Indian soup recipe -- a least not that I know of.  The recipe didn't come to me from a person or a book.  It is simply a fine-tasting soup developed by me for me.  The crockpot renders this really easy to make, and, it's a great way to introduce Indian flavor and fare to your family's dinner table!

6a0120a8551282970b019b04cf69ac970dA bit about curry and curry powder: "Curry" is a catch-all English term used in Western cultures to denote stewlike dishes from Southern and Southeast Asian cuisines that are cooked in a sauce containing herbs, spices and chile peppers, and, in Southern India, "kari" is the word for "sauce".  Curry powder (the commercially marketed blend of spices we buy in our American markets) doesn't exist in India.  The closest thing to Western curry powder in an Indian kitchen is garam masala (ga-RAHM mah-SAH-lah).  It's a pulverized blend of dry spices, the amounts of which vary to suit the palate of each family or cook.  It's said that garam masala is the precursor to curry powder, having been prepared by Indian merchants and sold to members of the British Colonial government who called it "curry powder".  I purchase a very good brand at my Indian market.

Dishes called curry are relatively easy to prepare and can contain meat, poultry, fish or shellfish. Seasonal vegetables can be included, or, the dish can be made of vegetables (vegetarian). Curries can be "wet" or "dry".  What is common to almost all wet curries is the use of cream, coconut milk or yogurt, and occasionally stock, to prepare the sauce.  They don't tend to be overly-thickened (gravylike), and, they aren't spicy hot (although they can be).  This style of cooking evolved out of necessity.  Water was often scarce and/or its use in cooking had to be avoided, so, the "creamers" were used as a silky, rich, substitution for water, not as a thickener. Dry curries are cooked in very little liquid in sealed pots.  Almost all of the liquid evaporates during the cooking process, leaving the ingredients heavily coated in the spice mixture.

IMG_0778For the chicken and vegetables:  

1 1/2  pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders

4  cups 1/2" diced peeled sweet potatoes

2  cups 1/4" coined carrots

1 1/2  cups diced yellow or sweet onion

IMG_07934  cloves garlic, whole, chopped or run through a press, your choice (I just put them in whole)

2  14 1/2-ounce cans chicken stock

2  14 1/2-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk

1  15-ounce can 100% pumpkin

For the spices (pictured above):

1  tablespoon Madras curry powder

2  teaspoons garam masala

2  teaspoons ground ginger

1  teaspoon amchur powder (Note:  This powder, made by drying tart green mangos and powdering them is going to add a pleasant citrusy tang to this curry.  It is available in all Indian markets, but, if you don't have access to it, feel free to substitute fresh lime juice.)

1/2  teaspoon ground turmeric

2 1/2  teaspoons sea salt

1  teaspoon coaresly-ground black pepper

a generous 1/4  teaspoon ground red pepper

2  whole bay leaves

2  whole cinnamon sticks

IMG_0781 IMG_0784 IMG_0788 IMG_0794 IMG_0811~Step 1.  Arrange the chicken tenders in the bottom of the crock. Add the sweet potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic, followed by the chicken stock, coconut milk and pumpkin.  Add all of the spices, as listed.  Give the mixture a brief stir, put the lid on and cook for 4 hours on high setting.  Resist the urge to lift the lid during this 4 hours.  Reset the crockpot to low setting and cook for an additional 1-2 hours (two IMG_0835hours renders the chicken super soft which I love). 

IMG_0825~ Step 2. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the chicken tenders, place them on a cutting board, and, using one or two forks, shred each one into small pieces. IMG_0854Return shredded chicken to soup and give it a good stir.

Note:  At this point I let the soup sit in the crockpot, on warm setting, for 15 -30 minutes prior to serving, to allow the shredded chicken time to take on some of the aromatic flavors of the broth. There's more, as with many things, this soup tastes even better the second day, so don't hesitate to make it a day ahead. Ladle into warmed bowls, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

Warm up Winter with some nice creamy aromatic Indian spice!

IMG_0891Indian:  Crockpot Chicken Coconut & Curry Soup:  Recipe yields 3 quarts soup.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; 6 1/2-quart crockpot; large spoon and/or large slotted spoon

IMG_0749 IMG_0766Cook's Note: For another crockpot chicken soup  with a Tex-Mex theme (that also uses 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders -- buy a large package and make one soup one day and the other the next), you can find my recipe for ~ Easy-Does-It Chicken Enchilada Soup ~ in Categories 2, 13 or 20.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016) 

01/14/2016

~ Easy-Does-It Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup ~

IMG_0756When I use my crockpot, it's not because I have no time to cook, it's because what I'm letting it cook for me, without compromise, is really good.  It's no secret, I've never been a crockpot kinda gal, but, over the past few years I've mellowed.  I've made peace with mine, and, at present, I have more than a few uncompromisingly yummy slow cooker recipes.  I won't lie, that took work -- on my part.  Crockpots per se, and, the cryptic way almost all crockpot recipes are written are: not all that they are crocked up to be.  Without exception, every randomly searched recipe I ever tried required so much work to get it to my standard of good food that crediting any source would be an embarrassment -- to them.  I didn't just fix their recipes, I reworked and rewrote them.

IMG_0766There are exceptions to every rule, and, when it comes to today's recipe, which I found on a site called skinnyms.com (see Related Article link below), nothing had to be done to it to make it yummy -- it already was.  The changes I made were merely to suit my own taste.  As per their site: "This scrumptious soup takes no time at all to toss together.  From start to slow-cook, you only need 15 minutes to prep and mix all of the ingredients.  Then set it and forget it. When it's time for dinner, all you need to do is shred the chicken and ladle it into your bowls."

IMG_0719This recipe is an example of "pantry cooking" at its best.  Canned beans, corn & tomatoes combined with some chicken & a few spices = a healthy, hot & hearty harried-day soup supper!

IMG_0623For the chicken and vegetables:

1-1 1/2  pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1  14 1/2-ounce can chicken stock

1  15 1/2-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1-2  15 1/2-ounce cans kidney beans (cannellini beans are white kidney beans), drained 

1  15 1/2-ounce can whole kernel IMG_0637corn, drained

1  14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1  10-ounce can red enchilada sauce (hot or mild)

1  4-ounce can diced green chiles, undrained

2  cups diced yellow or sweet onion

For my spices (skinnyms uses 1 tablespoon taco seasoning):

1 1/2  tablespoons chili powder blend

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon Mexican oregano

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

IMG_0626 IMG_0627 IMG_0632 IMG_0641 IMG_0667~Step 1.  Arrange the chicken in the bottom of the crock. Add the stock, beans and corn. Add the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chiles, onions and spices.  Give mixture a brief stir, put the lid on and cook for 4 hours on high setting.  Resist the urge to lift the lid during this 4 hours.  Reset the crockpot to low setting and cook for an additional 1-2 hours (two hours renders the chicken super-soft which I love).

IMG_0693 IMG_0677~ Step 2. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the chicken tenders, place them on a cutting board, and, using one or two forks, shred each one into small pieces.  Return shredded chicken to soup and give it a good stir.  

Note:  At this point I let the soup sit in the crockpot, on warm setting, for IMG_070915-30 minutes prior to serving, to allow the shredded chicken time to take on some of the juicy flavors of the broth.  There's more.  As with many things, this soup tastes even better the second day, so, don't hesitate to make it a day ahead!*

I used 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders and 2 cans of cannellini beans.  The yield is: 4 cups of shredded chicken and 10 cups soup before combining the two.

*When I refrigerate the entire batch of soup overnight, because the beans absorb moisture, I stir in another 14 1/2-ounce can chicken stock prior to gently reheating it on the stovetop.

IMG_0727For my favorite garnishes (skinnyms cilantro leaves and whole grain tortilla chips):

grated habanero cheddar cheese, or your favorite cheddar, grated

Mexican crema (or sour cream)

chopped cilantro leaves

lime wedges

my easy ~ Crispy & Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps ~, instructions below:  

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08aa6ef4970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb08aa6f01970dStep 1. Cut 6 corn tortillas into quarters, stack a few at a time on top of each other and slice the quarters into very thin strips.

Add 1/4" corn oil to a 12" skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until wavy lines appear on the surface.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c805badf970b 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c805baed970bStep 2. Add all of the tortilla strips to the hot oil in the skillet.  Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes, using a spatula to keep the wispy strips moving around in the oil the entire time. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with a generous grinding of sea salt.

Simply straightforward & scrumptious stewy-soup:

IMG_0741The three C's of yummy calories:  Cheddar, Crema & Chips!

IMG_0749Easy-Does-It Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup:  Approximately 3 quarts, depending upon if you use 1 or 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders and 1 or 2 cans of kidney beans.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 6 1/2-quart crockpot; large slotted spoon; 12" skillet, preferably nonstick; paper towels

IMG_0607Cook's Note:  For another "winner, winner family-friendly Tex-Mex chicken dinner", you can find my recipe for ~ Chicken, Cheddar & Chimichurri Veggie Patties ~,  in Categories 3, 13 or 19.  Go into Category  8 to get my 5-minute recipe for ~ Chimichurri:  The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/11/2016

~ How to: Make Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps ~

IMG_0593My husband tells everyone he married me for my taco shells -- it's a truthful joke.  There was a period in my life when I made homemade taco shells like some people make homemade pizza -- once a week perhaps.  The first time I invited Joe and his two little sons to my apartment for dinner in 1979, I made tacos for the kids.  There I was, me and my tortilla press, putting on a show for my future step-sons while my own toddler rode his Hot Wheel in a circle around the coffee table while watching The Price is Right on the TV in my living room.  Heartwarming?

IMG_9293I said "I do" in a Justice of the Peace's office on a Friday afternoon and on Saturday morning I was full-time mother of three boys under the age of five.  The following is no lie: The very next morning,  Eliot, middle son for less than twelve hours, walked into our bedroom, bag in hand, and asked, "can I eat these Doritos for breakfast?"  "NO YOU CAN NOT" was my horrified response, and, almost every time I see a bag of Doritos I think about that frightful start to my relationship IMG_6871with that now forty-something child. Those were fun times.  A bag of masa,  water, one tortilla press and a vat of hot fat -- it kept three kids entertained for hours.  Now empty nesters, I don't make tortillas from scratch for Joe and I very often, but, I never resort to store-bought tortilla shells or chips for almost anything. There's a bag of fresh corn tortillas in my refrigerator and from it I can make shells, chips, and, these wisps, which I add to tortilla soup and use as a pretty garnish:

IMG_9555 IMG_9564Step 1. Cut 6 corn tortillas into quarters, stack a few at a time on top of each other and slice the quarters into very thin strips.

Add 1/4" corn oil to a 12" skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until wavy lines appear on the surface.

IMG_9575 IMG_9579Step 2. Add all of the tortilla strips to the hot oil in the skillet.  Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes, using a spatula to keep the wispy strips moving around in the oil the entire time. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle with a generous grinding of sea salt.

Cool & store in an airtight container for up to one week:

IMG_0615Add crunch to soups, salads & knife & fork 'burgers!

IMG_0596How to:  Make Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps:  Recipe Yields:

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 12" skillet, preferably nonstick; paper towels

IMG_0505Cook's Note:  That big, beautiful 'burger photo you looked at above is actually a ~ Chicken, Cheddar & Chimichurri Veggie Pattie ~.  To get my recipe, just click into Category 3, 13 or 19.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016) 

01/09/2016

~ Chicken, Cheddar and Chimichurri Veggie Patties ~

IMG_0602This time of year, a lot of people are looking to cut back on carbs, increase lo-fat protein and add a lot of vegetables to their diet.  I know because a lot of recipe requests are coming across my desk.  The first time I ate a chicken patty that I liked (I tend to refer to burger-type thingies as patties when they are cooked in a skillet and burgers when they are cooked on the grill), it was at my friend Kathy's house.  Hers were Asian (as is she) and she served them with egg-drop soup.  I asked her what her secret was, and, it was: "to pulverize chicken thigh meat, which is moister and more flavorful than breast meat, with a bit of the fat left on it, in a Robot Coupe".

Magimix3A bit about Robot Coupe:  Robot Coupe was a 1960's French company that manufactured food processors for the catering industry.  Pierre Verdun, a catering company salesman, had noticed the large amount of time his customers spent chopping, shredding and mixing. They began producing a simple but efficient electric machine that turned a time-consuming chore into a quick task: a bowl with a revolving blade in the base.  In 1973, Carl Sontheimer introduced a similar machine, the Magimix 1800 by Robot Coupe, which became America's first domestic food processor.  In 1977, Mr. Sontheimer contracted with a Japanese company to begin production of new models, under the Cuisinart name in 1980, immediately after his contract with Robot Coupe ran out.

Chimichurri was made for steak, but, it tastes great on chicken!

IMG_0105Chimichurri was made for steak: Back in the 16th Century there was a large influx of cattle into Argentina from Spain, which quickly made beef their country's main source of protein.  The Argentinean cowboys, or gauchos, who herded the cattle, came up with this flavorful, rustic blend of native herbs, spices and oil to top their cowboy-cooked steaks. Their bold, bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian pesto (only made with parsley and/or cilantro, oregano, garlic and pepper), is super-easy to make.

Chimichurri works well as a marinade for tough cuts of beef like flank or skirt steak, and, it's delicious atop fish or vegetables too -- steamed cauliflower, grilled sweet corn, fresh or roasted tomatoes, etc.  Recipes for it vary and every cook tunes the proportions to suit themselves.  The more I dabbled in coming up with my own recipe for it, the more uses I discovered for it!

IMG_0220I got a craving for chimichurri during the week, so, I made some.

The first thing we ate it on were these ~ Steak, Habanero Cheddar & Chimichurri Sliders ~. The recipe is in Categories 1, 2, 13 or 17.  The next day, I used some of the leftover, prepped ingredients to make a great ~ Steak, Peppers, Cheddar & Chimichurri Omelette ~, which we ate as a main course for dinner with a nice bottle of red wine.  You can find that recipe in  IMG_0353Categories, 3, 9 or 13.  Tonight, I'm using the last of this flavor-packed, pretty green sauce to top these pan-fried chicken patties.  To get my recipe for ~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~, just click into Categories 8, 10, 13, 14 or 20.  There's more good news:

A little of this sauce goes a long way, and, the nice part is, because it's packed in olive oil, it keeps nicely for a week in the refrigerator, and, gets better tasting by the day!

When does a 'burger turn into a patty?  Whats the difference between a patty and a cake?

IMG_0577The word 'burger is carnivorous American slang for the "hamburger", which is made of ground beef. Herbivores (vegetarians and vegans) have non-meat concoctions which they call 'burgers, and, while I have no ax to grind with them, past that mention, I have no more to say about that. To the average American, "burger", implies a disc of ground meat placed on a round roll.

Burger?  Patty?  Cake?  Aren't they all the same?  In my opinion, it depends a lot upon where  you grew up, but, in my neck of the woods, when it comes to this type of culinary trivia, folks don't play patty-cake.  A "burger" is ground meat (beef, lamb or pork) or poultry, shaped into a disc, cooked, and placed on a round bun to eat.  A "patty" is a burger that is eaten with a knife and fork, or, placed between two square slices of bread to eat (patty-melt-style). A "cake" refers to burgers and patties made with delicate fish, seafood or vegetables and can be eaten like a burger (on a bun) or a patty (knife and fork), or, served as a side-dish.

IMG_04562 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks leaving little bits of skin in tact

1/4  cup chimichurri sauce

3/4  cup each:  diced green and red bell pepper, and, red onion

3/4  cup chopped cilantro leaves

3/4  cup grated habanero cheddar cheese

1 1/2  cups restaurant-style tortilla chip crumbs (6 ounces)

2  large eggs, lightly-beaten

2  teaspoons sea salt (Note:  Since you're dealing with raw chicken in this recipe, you can't taste for salt, so if this is the first time you're making this recipe, you're going to have to put your trust in me.  That said, this amount of salt is based upon the salt in my chimichurri, the cheddar and the salt in the tortilla chips, so, if you make any substitutions, take that into consideration.)

IMG_0463 IMG_0466 IMG_0472 IMG_0475~Step 1.  In the work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, place 4 ounces of hand-crumbled restaurant-style tortilla chips.  Turn motor on and process to crumbs, about 25-30 seconds.  You will have 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.  Remove from processor and set aside.  Add chicken to work bowl, and, using 25-30 rapid on-off pulses, coarsely grind the chicken.

IMG_0480 IMG_0487 IMG_0493 IMG_0496~Step 2.  Place all of the ingredients, except for the eggs (do not add the eggs at this time), in a large bowl, and, using your hands, thoroughly combine.  Add the eggs and mix again.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the crumbs to absorb moisture.

IMG_0505 IMG_0503~ Step 3. Using a kitchen scale as a measure, divide the chicken mixture into 8, 7-ounce balls and place on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-1 1/2 hours. Refrigeration is important -- it will firm the patties up prior to frying.

IMG_0509 IMG_0530~Step 4.  Heat 1/8" of corn or peanut oil in the bottom of an electric skillet over 350 degrees (medium-high on the stovetop).  I prefer the skillet because you can control the heat perfectly.

IMG_0536 IMG_0521While patties are cold (do not let them come to room temp), gently place four of them into the oil, wait one minute then lower the temperature to 325 degrees, then fry until golden brown on both sides, turning only once, about 6 1/2-7 minutes per side.  Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. IMG_0549Repeat process with the remaining four chicken patties.  

Note:  While all eight will fit in the skillet at the same time, I always do this in two batches because eight cold patties lowers the temperature of the oil too fast and too much, which risks them falling apart before their bottoms can brown.

How to make my Crispy Crunchy Corn Tortilla Wisps for garnish:

IMG_9555 IMG_9564Step 1. Cut 6 corn tortillas into quarters, stack a few at a time on top of each other and slice the quarters into very thin strips.

Add 1/4" corn oil to a 12" skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until wavy lines appear on the surface.

IMG_9575 IMG_9579Step 2. Add all of the tortilla strips to the hot oil in the skillet.  Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes, using a spatula to keep the wispy strips moving around in the oil the entire time. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with a generous grinding of sea salt.

Serve as a snack with your favorite ice cold beer... 

IMG_0593... or use as a garnish on these flavor-packed chicken patties:

IMG_0607Chicken, Cheddar and Chimichurri Veggie Burgers:  Recipe yields 8, 7-ounce chicken patties.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held box grater; food processor; plastic wrap; kitchen scale; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 12" skillet or electric skillet, preferably nonstick; nonstick spatula

IMG_9636Cook's Note:  I serve these Southwestern-style chicken patties atop a puddle of cream corn.  For a vegetarian option, my recipe for ~ Cod Cakes w/Creamed Corn & Crisp Tortilla Wisps ~ can be found in Categories 3, 13, 14, 19 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/06/2016

~ Steak, Peppers & Cheddar Chimichurri Omelette ~

IMG_0353I won't lie, I don't love steak and eggs for breakfast.  I don't hate it, I just like bacon, sausage or ham better in the morning.  That said, I do like a steak omelette for dinner.  In fact, it's one of my favorite 'breakfast for dinner' meals.   Don't try to psychoanalyze this -- it makes no sense.  Let's move on.  I'm making breakfast for dinner today, and, it's going to be a great steak omelette full of peppers, onions and cheddar topped with my homemade chimichurri sauce.  There's more. Think twice about crowding the plate with toasted bread and fried potatoes.  In the case of this omelette, a wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce and a few fresh tomato slices are the better choice.

IMG_0105Chimichurri was made for steak: Back in the 16th Century there was a large influx of cattle into Argentina from Spain, which quickly made beef their country's main source of protein.  The Argentinean cowboys, or gouchos, who herded the cattle, came up with this flavorful, rustic blend of native herbs, spices and oil to top their cowboy-cooked steaks. Their bold, bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian pesto (only made with parsley and/or cilantro, oregano, garlic and pepper), is super-easy to make.

Chimichurri works well as a marinade for tough cuts of beef like flank or skirt steak, and, it's delicious atop fish or vegetables too -- steamed cauliflower, grilled sweet corn, fresh or roasted tomatoes, etc.  Recipes for it vary and every cook tunes the proportions to suit themselves.

IMG_0220I got a craving for chimichurri over the weekend, so, I made some. The first thing we ate it on were these ~ Steak, Habanero Cheddar & Chimichurri Sliders ~. The recipe is in Categories 1, 2, 13 or 17.  To get my recipe for ~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~, just click into Categories 8, 10, 13, 14 or 20. Tonight, I'm using my leftover, prepped and ready-to-go slider ingredients to make a great steak omelette.

How to make a great 'breakfast for dinner' steak omelette:

IMG_0125For the steak  for one omelette:

1/2 cup thinly-sliced rare- medium-rare cooked steak, warm or at room temperature

Note:  I almost always use flank steak to make sandwiches, sliders and omelettes.  For detailed instructions on how I broil my flank steak, click into the Steak Slider recipe mentioned above.

IMG_0310For the veggies for one omelette:

1  tablespoon salted butter

1/4  cup diced green bell peppers

1/4  cup diced red bell peppers

1/4  cup red or yellow onion

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

IMG_0301For the eggs and cheese for one omelette:

3  extra-large eggs

1/4  cup heavy or whipping cream

freshly-ground sea salt & peppercorn blend

1  tablespoon salted butter

1/3  cup grated habanero cheddar

IMG_0134 IMG_0092~ Step 1. Slice the steak as directed and set aside.  I like the steak to be slightly-warm when I add it to my omelette, so, after slicing I place it in a small bowl.  Just prior to preparing the omelette I reheat the meat for a short 15-20 seconds in the microwave oven.

IMG_0321~ Step 2.  Using a hand-held box grater, grate cheese and set aside.  

IMG_0320~ Step 3.  To saute the veggies, melt butter in an 8" nonstick skillet.  Add peppers and onions. Lightly season with freshly-ground salt and pepper.  Saute until crunch tender, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

IMG_9302 IMG_9308 IMG_9316 IMG_9312~Step 4.  In a 1-cup measuring container, using a fork, vigorously whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper.  I use 4 coarse grinds of salt and 8 coarse grinds of pepper.  Melt butter in skillet over low heat.  Adjust heat to medium and add all of the egg mixture to skillet -- when making a generously filled omelette like this one, I error on the side of moderate heat to prevent over-browning.  Lift pan from heat and tilt it to roll the egg mixture around the sides of the pan. Repeat lifting and rolling 2-3 more times until bottom of omelette is beginning to set and sides are firming up.  Using a thin spatula, push the soft edges of the omelette back towards the center while gently lifting and tilting the pan to allow uncooked egg mixture to flow into the bottom.

IMG_0325 IMG_0330 IMG_0333 IMG_0339~Step 5.  The surface of the omelette should be moist, not wet. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the cheese to half of the omelette and when it has partially melted, about 45-60 seconds, top the cheese with all of the veggie mixture, followed by the steak.  Turn the heat off.  Using a wide spatula lift the unfilled side of the omelette up and over the filled side and allow omelette to sit in pan on the warm stovetop a minute, to allow the cheese to finish melting.

IMG_0344 IMG_0349Step 6. Hold the skillet over a 9" serving plate, tilt it downwards, and, using the aid of the wide spatula placed at the folded side of the omelette, gently push and slide it, don't lift the omelette, down onto the plate. Once you transfer the omelette to the plate, serve with a wedge of iceberg lettuce and a few tomato slices.

So much better than just a steak on a plate...

IMG_0357... this dinner omelette deserves a glass of fine red wine.

IMG_0426What a refreshing way to enjoy eggs & eat steak too!

IMG_0433Steak, Peppers & Cheddar Chimichurri Omelette:  Recipe yields one very large, hearty omelette, which serves one hungry man or two hungry women.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 8" omelette pan, preferably nonstick and 8" nonstick skillet or 2, 8" nonstick skillets; 1-cup measuring container; fork; thin spatula; wide spatula

IMG_0293Cook's Note:  Chimichurri goes great with eggs and chimichurri deviled eggs couldn't be easier. Because this bold-flavored sauce contains herbs, seasonings and oil, you don't need to add anything -- not even any mayonnaise.  

In the work bowl of a food processor, for every whole egg yolk, add 1 generous teaspoon of chimichurri sauce.  Process until smooth, taste and adjust for salt (if necessary), then, pipe into hard-cooked egg cavities. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016) 

01/04/2016

~ Steak, Habanero Cheddar & Chimichurri Sliders ~

IMG_0223Slider sandwiches and deviled eggs sort of have a lot in common:  They're all-occasion, crowd-pleasing feel-good, portable food.  Depending on what combination of ingredients you use to make them, and your presentation, you can serve them on a paper plate with a beer at tailgate or on a linen napkin with a cocktail at a back-tie event.  Put a slider on a plate next to a stuffed egg and you've turned two unrelated snacks into a small, well-balanced meal.  

200px-White_Castle_logo.svgStuffed eggs have been around since the days of the Roman Empire.  The American word slider, which has no known originator, started out less than one hundred years ago in reference to small, 2" square hamburgers, but now denotes any type of small three-or-four-bite sandwich.  

Trademarked "slyder" (not a typo) by White Castle in 1985 (who started out selling their small, steamed burgers for five cents back in 1921), their slyders have been named most influential burger of all time, and, slider sandwiches are now one of Americas favorite pub grub menu items.

Think big, eat small -- downsize a big-guy Gaucho sandwich!

IMG_0105A bit about chimichurri:  Back in the 16th Century there was a large influx of cattle into Argentina from Spain, which quickly made beef their country's main source of protein.  The Argentinean cowboys, or gauchos, who herded the cattle, came up with this flavorful, rustic blend of native herbs, spices and oil to top their cowboy-cooked steaks. Their bold, bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian pesto (only made with parsley and/or cilantro, oregano, garlic and pepper), is super-easy to make.  You'll need:

6a0120a8551282970b017c3857ab10970b1-1 1/2 cups chimichurri sauce

To get my recipe for ~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~, just click into Categories 8, 10, 13, 14 or 20.

 2, 12-ounce French batards*

*A shorter, plumper, slightly denser and softer version of the crackly and air-hole laced French baguette.

Trim the ends from each batard. IMG_0071Using a serrated bread knife, cut the remainder of the loaf into 14-16, 3/4"-thick even-sized slices.  Set 24 slices aside to make the sliders. Wrap the rest in plastic and reserve them for another use.

In your toaster, toast the 24 slices IMG_0079until nicely golden.  Arrange the IMG_0060toasted slices on a rack that has IMG_0073been placed in a large, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" parchment-lined baking pan.

Note:  Because eight of these IMG_0082hearty sliders will easily satisfy Joe and I for dinner tonight, I am demonstrating with eight, using a small 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan. I'll make a fresh batch with my leftover ingredients for lunch tomorrow.  

Using the serrated bread knife, slice/shred/shave:

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, very thinly sliced (shaved)

IMG_0038Using a hand-held box grater, grate:

8  ounces habanero cheddar

Place the shredded lettuce and grated cheese in the refrigerator while broiling the steak according to the following directions.

IMG_00391  2-2 1/2-pound flank steak

3  tablespoons salted butter, thinly sliced

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

~ Step 1.  Place the flank steak on an 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" disposable aluminum broiler pan.  Place butter pats over the top and season with IMG_0058salt and pepper.

IMG_0052~ Step 2. Place steak 6" underneath preheated broiler and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip steak over and season second side with salt and pepper (no butter).

~ Step 3.  Return steak to broiler and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 130-132 degrees.  

IMG_0125 IMG_0092Note:  In my oven under my broiler this takes another 8-10 minutes, and, this will result in a rare- medium-rare flank steak.  Rely on internal temperature, not time.

~ Step 4.  Remove from oven and allow steak to rest and cool slightly, about 15-20 minutes, prior to IMG_0142slicing.

~ Step 5.  Using a large chef's knife, slice the steak with the grain into three long lengths.  Holding the knife at a 30 degree angle, slice each length across the grain, as thinly as possible, into small strips.

Note:  Each 1/3 length of the broiled flank steak will yield enough meat to top 8 sliders.  I am refrigerating the uncut portion today and will slice it fresh to make my next batch of sliders for lunch tomorrow.

IMG_0166 IMG_0148~ Step 6. Evenly distribute the lettuce over the toasted bread, followed by a mound of sliced steak and grated cheddar.

IMG_0162~ Step 7. Place pan of sliders under IMG_0184preheated broiler until cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes.

IMG_0182~ Step 8. Remove from oven, transfer to a IMG_0236serving dish and top each with a generous dollop of chimichurri.

Brawny enough for the big guys, dainty enough for the dames: 

IMG_0213Crunchy bread, crispy lettuce, succulent steak, spicy cheese & garlicy chimichurri!

IMG_0240Care for a chimichurri deviled egg to go with that slider?

IMG_0293Steak, Habanero Cheddar & Chimichurri Sliders:  Recipe yields 2 dozen appetizer-sized sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; toaster; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; large cooling rack;  hand-held box grater; 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" disposable aluminum broiler pan; instant-read meat thermometer; chef's knife

IMG_0293Cook's Note:  There really is such a thing as a chimichurri deviled egg and they couldn't be easier to make. Because this bold-flavored sauce contains herbs, seasonings and oil, you don't need to add anything -- not even any mayonnaise.  

In the work bowl of a food processor, for every whole egg yolk, add 1 generous teaspoon of chimichurri sauce.  Process until smooth, taste and adjust for salt (if necessary), then, pipe into hard-cooked egg cavities. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

01/02/2016

~ Chimichurri: The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without ~

IMG_0105The first time I ate steak with chimichurri sauce drizzled over it I was in my latter twenties and in a Houston steak house.  It was amazing -- the steak too.  I remember odd foodie facts like this because I tagged along on many of Joe's many business trips during the 1980's and '90's.  On this one, our only trip ever to Houston, we ate in a steak house one night and a fish market the next.  Sometimes, the secret really is in the sauce, and, chimichurri is one such example.

This bright-green, herb-driven condiment, similar in appearance to Italian pesto, works well as a marinade for tough cuts of beef like flank or skirt steak, and, it's delicious served atop fish or vegetables too -- steamed cauliflower, grilled sweet corn, fresh or roasted tomatoes, etc.  Like its Italian cousin, every cook in every houshold tunes the proportions to suit themselves, and, it wasn't long after I returned to Happy Valley that I started dabbling in chimichurri making.

PICT2295Chimichurri is Spanish -- an Argentinean Gaucho's Condiment! 

As hard as it was to get my three kids to eat "green things", they took to chimichurri on steak like it was chocolate sauce on ice cream, so, I made it often.  I had been serving it for more than a few years when I learned that it did not have its origin in Mexico or the American Southwest. That happened when my cousin Barbara brought her Peruvian boyfriend to my house and he explained that chimichurri is an Argentinean condiment that made its way north through Central America into Mexico and onto our Tex-Mex tables -- where it holds a place of honor today.  

History:  Back in the 16th Century there was a large influx of cattle into Argentina from Spain, which quickly made beef their country's main source of protein.  The Argentinean cowboys, or gouchos, who herded the cattle, came up with this flavorful, super-easy-to-mix-together, rustic blend of native herbs, spices and oil to top their cowboy-cooked steaks.  The name "chimichurry" evolved from the basque word "trimitxurri", which means "a mixture of many of things".

IMG_99972  cups fresh cilantro leaves, as few stems as possible, medium-packed

1 1/2  cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, as few stems as possible, medium-packed

1/4  cup fresh oregano leaves, or, 1 teaspoon dried oregano  (Note:  Fresh oregano is authentic, but, when I used to make this sauce for my kids, they liked it better without FRESH, so, I substituted and added 1 teaspoon dried oregano.  The choice is yours.) 

1  cup small-diced red onion

6  large garlic cloves

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3/4  teaspoon sugar

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4  teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper

1/4  cup red wine vinegar

1/2  cup olive oil

IMG_0003~ Step 1.  Prep the cilantro leaves and parsley leaves as directed, placing them on a paper-towel lined plate as you work.  

Note:  For best results, the leaves need to be as dry as possible, meaning, free of any moisture from rinsing.

IMG_0004 IMG_0008 IMG_0010 IMG_0014~Step 2.  In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, mince the onion and garlic, using a series of about 25 rapid on-off pulses.  Note:  You want the onion and garlic minced, not pureed, so don't over pulse.  Add the cilantro and parsley leaves to the work bowl, and, using 10-15 more pulses, finely chop the leaves.  Once again, do not over process.

IMG_0017~ Step 3.  Transfer the herb mixture to a medium mixing bowl and add the lime juice, sugar, salt, red and black pepper.  Add the red wine vinegar and stir to thoroughly combine.  Vigorously whisk in the olive oil.  Taste but do not be inclined to add too much of "this or that" right now as it will take a bit of time for the flavors to develop.

Note:  Whisking the finely-chopped herb mixture with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, not in the the food processor, produces the authentic chimichurri texture.

~ Step 4.  Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight.  Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to serving.  Store in the refrigerator up to a week, or, freeze in small containers.

Chimichurri sauce today, my steak slider recipe tomorrow! 

IMG_0213Chimichurri:  The Sauce Steak Can't Live Without:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups sauce.

Special Equipment List:  paper towels; cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; large spoon and/or whisk

IMG_6630Cook's Note:  Everyone loves potato salad with steak, or at least I think they do.  For a unique potato salad recipe that pairs perfectly with chimichurri, or Southwestern fare in general. click into Categories 4, 10, 13, 17 or 20 to get my recipe for ~ Russet & Sweet Potato Salad w/Chile-Lime Mayo ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)