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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

12/15/2018

~Home for the Holiday Eggnog-Laced Snickerdoodles~

IMG_6594The humble snickerdoodle is my all-time favorite sugar cookie.  I've been told it was the first cookie I was ever allowed to taste, so, if my mind hasn't changed by now, it is not likely to happen. A traditional snickerdoodle is a flat, pale-to-golden, crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside cookie made with butter and/or shortening, and, cinnamon and/or nutmeg .  It never (don't go there with this cookie) contains additions like chocolate chips, dried fruit or nuts.  If flavoring is added, it is always a simple and subtle splash of vanilla.  That said, snickerdoodles are the perfect foil for eggnog or eggnog flavoring, and, a splash of rum or butter-rum is delightful too.

IMG_6597Snickerdoodles are German and evolved from "Schnickennudeln", a cinnamon-dusted sweet roll.  I grew up in the Lehigh Valley region of PA, known as "Pennsylvania Dutch Country".  I'm here to say: Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong to PA and it isn't Dutch either.  "Dutch" was the slang word for "Deutsch", so, when people say PA Dutch, they mean PA Deutsch, crediting the many German-speaking peoples for this cuisine.

Eggnog means "eggs in a small cup" & used on both sides of the Atlantic to toast to health.  "Nog" is an English term for a wooden cup.

IMG_6600References to eggnog date back to the 1800's, when, even back then it was served during the Winter holiday season. Known as "egg milk punch", it was and still is a sweetened dairy-based beverage made with milk, sugar, raw egg yolks, whipped egg whites and a splash of rum and/or vanilla extract. Nowadays cream is always included in place of some or all of the milk, because today's milk has a much lower fat content than milk in the 1800's, which had cream on top. Brandy, rum and/or bourbon are almost always added.  The plain truth:  Eggnog tastes better with alcohol in it.  Each finished serving is poured into a punch cup, then it's topped off with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of nutmeg.

IMG_6603Eggnog means "eggs in a small cup", and it is used on both sides of the Atlantic to toast to health.  "Nog" is an old English term for a small wooden cup.  As an English creation, it descended from the hot British drink, posset, made from eggs beaten with milk, sugar and some type of spirit. During that period, alcoholic drinks were served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because it was cooked, posset traveled and adapted well to local tastes wherever it landed.  One such place:  our American colonies -- full of farms, chickens, cows and cheap rum (our signature ingredient). 

Where I grew up, snickerdoodles were served year-round, including the holidays, almost everywhere we went:

IMG_6518For the dry ingredients:

4 1/2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2  teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2  teaspoons baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

For the wet ingredients:

2  large eggs

3/4  cup high-quality, store-bought, pasteurized eggnog

1  teaspoon eggnog flavoring

1  teaspoon butter-rum flavoring

1  cup salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)

2 1/4  cups sugar

For sprinkling on the batter-balls:

1-2  tablespoons store-bought cinnamon-sugar

IMG_6522 IMG_6522 IMG_6522 IMG_6522 IMG_6522 IMG_6522 IMG_6539~Step 1.  In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:  the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and sea salt.  Set aside.  In a 1-cup measuring container, use a fork to lightly-whisk the eggs, add enough eggnog to total 1 cup, then stir in the eggnog- and butter-rum flavorings.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, place the butter and sugar.  Set aside.  Line 4, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans with parchment and ready a hand-held electric mixer, large rubber spatula, 1 1/2" cookie scoop and a thin spatula.

IMG_6542 IMG_6542 IMG_6542 IMG_6542 IMG_6542~Step 2.  On medium- medium-high speed of hand-held electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a large rubber spatula, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Lower the mixer speed, and, in a thin stream, incorporate the egg/eggnog mixture. Continuing at low speed, in two or three increments, incorporate the flour mixture until a sticky but manageable cookie batter forms, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.

IMG_6559 IMG_6559 IMG_6559 IMG_6559 IMG_6559~Step 3.  Using a 1 1/2" cookie scoop, gently drop balls of dough, well-apart, 15 on the first prepared pan.  Lightly sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar. Bake on center rack of preheated 350º oven 8-10 minutes, or until cookies have puffed through to their centers, look "crackly", and, have just started to deflate a bit.  Watch very carefully after 7 minutes of baking time.  Eight minutes will render a pale chewier cookie, 10 minutes a golden, crunchier cookie -- bake to suit yourself.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool, in pan for 1 minute.  Use a thin spatula to transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Repeat process, using the remaining three pans and working assembly-line-style, until all cookies are baked and cooled.

Note:  Dont have 4 baking pans?  Reuse the pans you've got and bake as directed, but pans must be completely cool and lined with fresh parchment before placing unbaked balls of cookie dough on them.  Warm pans and/or reused parchment will compromise the end result. 

8 minutes = pale & chewier.  10 minutes = golden & crunchier.

IMG_6570Place a plate of eggnog snickerdoodles & a some eggnog next to the tree on Christmas Eve before you go to bed:  

IMG_6592Word on the street is:  Santa loves snickerdoodles & eggnog!

IMG_6611Home for the Holiday Eggnog-Laced Snickerdoodles:  Recipe yields 5-5 1/2 dozen, 2 1/2"-round cookies.

Special Equipment List:  spoon; 1-cup measuring container; fork; 4, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; hand-held electric mixer, large rubber spatula, 1 1/2" ice-cream/cookie scoop; thin spatula; large wire cooling rack

IMG_9233Cook's Note:  The best place to buy the best pasteurized eggnog is at your local dairy, and, I'm thrilled that our community's Meyer Dairy makes creamy-dreamy eggnog that is full of flavor and not cloyingly sweet -- they make eggnog ice cream that's just as good too.  For one of my more recent cookie creations, an eggnog-laced cake-like cookie glazed with eggnog frosting, try my recipe for ~ Mel's Happy-Valley Meyer-Dairy Eggnog Cookies ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

12/12/2018

~ Wing-Night with Oven-Baked Jamaican-Jerk Wings ~

IMG_6508In our house, chicken wings appear on our table or cocktail table on a regular basis -- like pizza, my kids crave them often, Joe and I do our best to eat them in moderation, and, while each one of us has his or her personal favorite, there is unanimous agreement that once I've agreed to make pizza or wings for supper or snacks, compromise on the type can quickly be achieved -- and many times, the decision simply comes down to how much time I've got to quell their cravings.

IMG_6454How we cook 'em & country of origin is always up for debate: 

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09436912970dJoe's Deep-Fried to Perfection Wings or Summertime Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce and my Seriously E-Z Oven-Fried Chicken Wings are examples of how we cook 'em. Classic Buffalo-Style Wing Sauce is the overwhelming favorite, but, in terms of culinary trips around the world, favorites include winging it with my Chinese Open-Sesame Ginger & Garlic Sauced Chicken WingsJapanese Teriyaki-Style Chicken Wings, Thai-Inspired Hot & Sticky Honey Wings, or, today's Island-Style Jamaican-Jerk Wings.

IMG_6446My Jamaican-style wings are modeled after my recipe for jerk-style chicken.  They get marinated, then, like many marinated wing recipes, they get baked/roasted in a hot 425º oven.  At the end of the process, which can be done several hours in advance of serving, under the broiler they go, for 1-1 1/2 minutes per side, to crisp the skin.  I serve 'em up with a cool and creamy dip that's flavored with store-bought Jamaican-jerk barbecue-sauce.

Jamaican-Jerk 101:  Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3669ed9200cIn a (coco)nutshell, jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica.  It was developed by African slaves who escaped into the mountains of Jamaica after the British captured this island paradise from Spain in 1655.  Forced to adapt to their new surroundings, the Maroons (the name given to the escaped slaves) made use of the foods nature provided, by pulverizing the edibles they gathered into a fiery pasty rub. By adding fruit and/or citrus juice, the fiery pasty rub became a spicy basting and dipping sauce.  When thinned down with a bit of drinking water or the milk from a coconut, the spicy sauce became a highly-flavored wet marinade -- over time, items from trades, like vinegar and/or rum were transitioned into the mixture.  Once rubbed and/or marinated, the meat or game they hunted was then slowly cooked over a smoking pimento-wood fire.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad38d1183200dThe "jerk" in jerk comes from the Spanish word via the Peruvian word "charqui", the noun for dried strips of meat now called "jerky".  Jerk seasoning was/is the dry spice blend used to season jerky, and Jamaican jerk seasoning, known for the flavors of allspice, thyme and pepper, is perhaps the most famous. Throughout the Caribbean, islanders preserved/cured their spice-rubbed meats by drying them in the intense sun or over a slow fire -- this allowed the meat to be taken on long journeys and eaten as is or reconstituted in boiling water.  The word most likely transitioned to the verb, "jerking", in reference to the way the meat gets "jerked" around over the hot coals as it cooks. Originally used for pork, it's now common to "jerk" chicken, beef, fish and seafood too.  Jerk chicken is obviously the inspiration for my wings.

Wings 101:  Sectioning 5 1/2-6 pounds fresh chicken wings. 

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3c63c30200b~ Step 1.  Using a pair of poultry shears, cut 5 1/2-6 pounds of wings, at their two joints, into 3 sections:  the drumette, the wing, and the "skinny" wing tip.

Some folks like to fry and eat the wing tips, I do not, but that is your choice.  Without frying the wing tips, this recipe will yield about 4 dozen chicken wings.

The wing tips can be frozen and used to make stock, as while they are "skinny", they are flavorful.

Jamaican-Jerk Chicken meets American Chicken Wings

IMG_6317 IMG_6317 IMG_6317~ Step 2.  Place the sectioned chicken wings in each of two 1-gallon food storage bags, the drumettes in one bag, the wings in the other -- I do this separately because they each have slightly-different cooking times. Add 1 cup Homemade Jamaican-Style Jerk Marinade (or your favorite high-quality store-bought brand) to each bag.  Seal the bags and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight (over night is best).  Remove from refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to roasting and grilling as follows:

IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6350 IMG_6350 IMG_6350 IMG_6350 IMG_6350 IMG_6350~Step 3.  Insert a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" rack in a large, 20" x 12" x 6" disposable aluminum roasting pan, then place a piece of parchment paper on the rack.  Open the bag of the marinated chicken wing sections.  Remove the wings from the bag and arrange them, side-by-side on the parchment.  Bake on center rack of preheated 425º oven 20 minutes.  Remove from oven. With the aid of a fork, flip wings over and return to oven to continue to bake 20 more minutes.  Transfer wings to a paper towel lined plate to drain and set aside.  

IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6338 IMG_6392 IMG_6392~Step 4.  Replace the parchment paper and repeat the above process with the drumettes, baking the drumettes for 23 minutes per side (2 minutes longer per side than the wing sections). To this point, all of the wings can be baked and set aside, uncovered for a few hours (2-4) ahead of broiling (as directed below) and serving hot.  

IMG_6399 IMG_6399 IMG_6399~Step 5.  Reset the oven to broil, allowing the oven rack to remain in the center.  Remove the parchment paper from the roasting pan, exposing the wire rack.  Arrange all of the wing sections and drumettes atop the rack.  Return to preheated broiler to crisp the skin, about 1-1 1/2 per side, turning only once.

Four-Ingredient Cool & Creamy Jamaican-Jerk Chicken Wing Dip:

IMG_6328 IMG_6328 IMG_6328~ Step 4.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup each: mayonnaise, sour cream, Jamaican-jerk barbecue sauce (your favorite high-quality store-bought brand) and thinly-sliced scallions (white and light green parts only, reserving scallion tops for garnish).  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Don't worry, be happy -- it's wing night -- Jamaican-style...

IMG_6461... w/crispy-spicy skin, tender-pink meat & cool-creamy dip.

IMG_6500 2Wing-Night with Oven-Baked Jamaican-Jerk Wings:  Recipe yields about 3 1/2-4 dozen chicken wings or 4 dozen appetizers/snacks. 

Special Equipment List:  poultry shears; 2, 1-gallon food storage bags; 20" x 12" x 6" disposable aluminum roasting pan; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" wire cooling rack; parchment paper; fork; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3c03904200bCook's Note:  As an accomplished cook, I've posted all sorts of scratch-made 'za: Thin-crust St. Louis-style, Deep-Dish Chicago-style, Detroit-Style Brick Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza, Philly-Style Cheesesteak PizzaPizza alla Puttanesca, French Caramelized-Onion & Gruyère Cheese PizzaThai-Style Grilled Chicken Pizza, a Blast from My Husband's Past Pioneer-Club Pizza, a Nobody's Pizza for the Somebody in All of Us, a holiday Pizza Wreath, plus, the family recipes for Preschutti Pizza Crust, My Guy's Italian-American Sicilian-Style Pie, and, My All-Purpose Time-Saving Bread Machine Pizza Dough, a host of recipes for making snack pizza using flatbreads (pita, naan, tortillas and boboli) as foils, as well as my Stranger Things: 1980's-Style Retro French Bread Pizza, which is a late-night favorite.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

12/09/2018

~Cool & Creamy Island-Style Jamaican-Jerk Wing Dip~

IMG_6439Wander into a bar anywhere in America.  Buffalo wings are on the pub grub menu.  No description is necessary.  You know you're getting deep-fried wingettes and drumettes coated in a vivid-red vinegar-based cayenne pepper and melted butter sauce.  They'll arrive with celery and carrot sticks, and blue cheese or ranch dressing.  You'll likely be asked to specify if you want your wings tossed in a mild, medium or hot version of the sauce.  Buffalo wing sauce is a classic.

Chicken wings have come a long way baby.  What started as a late-night snack served by Frank and Teresa Bellisimo in a little place called the Anchor Bar and Grill in Buffalo, NY in 1964, has gone global.  Name a cuisine and you're sure to find a chicken wing recipe to go with it.  Why? Americans love chicken wings.  I've got almost more wing recipes than I can count, each one with a unique flavor profile and a special concoction for dipping or drizzling to serve with them.

IMG_6461My Jamaican-style wings are modeled after my recipe for jerk-style chicken.  They get marinated, then, like many marinated wing recipes, they get baked/roasted in a hot 425º oven.  At the end of the process, which can be done several hours in advance of serving, under the broiler they go, for 1-1 1/2 minutes per side, to crisp the skin.  I serve 'em up with a cool and creamy dip that's flavored with store-bought Jamaican-jerk barbecue-sauce.

Four-Ingredient Cool & Creamy Jamaican-Style Chicken Wing Dip:

IMG_6328 IMG_6328 IMG_6328~ Step 1.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup each: mayonnaise, sour cream, Jamaican-jerk barbecue sauce (your favorite high-quality store-bought brand) and thinly-sliced scallions (white and light green parts only, reserving scallion tops for garnish).  Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Try Wing Night with Oven-Baked Jamaican-Jerk Wings:

IMG_6508Dipped in Cool & Creamy Island-Style Jamaican-Jerk Wing Dip: 

IMG_6490Cool & Creamy Island-Style Jamaican-Jerk Wing Dip:  Recipe makes 2 cups dip/enough for 3 1/2-4 dozen chicken wings..

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 2-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3809027200cCook's Note:  My repertoire is full of wing recipes. Joe's Deep-Fried to Perfection Wings and Grilled Chicken Wings w/Peachy Keen Barbecue Sauce and my Seriously E-Z Oven-Fried Chicken Wings are examples of how we cook 'em. Classic Buffalo-Style Wing Sauce is the overwhelming favorite, but, globally, other favorites include my Chinese Open-Sesame Ginger & Garlic Sauced Chicken WingsJapanese Teriyaki-Style Chicken Wings, Thai-Inspired Hot & Sticky Honey Wings, or, Island-Style Jamaican-Jerk Wings.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)