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9 posts from February 2021

02/26/2021

~ Beer in the Pizza Dough & a Semolina Pizza Crust ~

IMG_9586Experimenting with pizza dough is not something I do often.  Why?  Because one has to be willing to run the risk of sacrificing a pizza in the event it doesn't work.  Let's put it another way, one has to be of the mindset to experiment with a new dough or a variation on an existing one, and (chuckle if you want to but it's really not a laughing matter if you're wed to eating pizza), for a few short hours, one must throw caution to the wind and live dangerously.  I did this today, and, I gotta say, I came through it victorious.  So victorious, this is my new favorite pizza dough recipe.

6a0120a8551282970b026bde9755bf200cIt's worth mention, nine-out-of-every-ten-times, I mix and first-proof my pizza dough in my bread machine.  The bread machine, in 55 minutes from beginning to end, does a superb job with pizza dough, and frees up my hands to prep ingredients for the toppings.  Feel free to proof your yeast, mix, knead and proof your dough in the traditional manner, but, don't tell me it's better. It's simply a different method producing the same result.

Crispy on the outside soft & tender on the inside:

IMG_9578Light as a feather w/a to-the-tooth, New-York-style chew too!

IMG_95203/4 cups + 2 tablespoons at-room-temperature beer

1  tablespoon olive oil

2  tablespoons barley malt syrup

1  teaspoon sea salt

2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2  cup semolina flour

1  packet granulated yeast

1 1/2-2 additional tablespoons olive oil, for preparing pizza pan

IMG_9521 IMG_9521 IMG_9528 IMG_9528 IMG_9533~Step 1. Place the beer, olive oil, barley malt syrup and sea salt in the the bread pan of the bread machine. Add the all-purpose flour and semolina flour. Using your index finger, make a well in the top of the flour and add the yeast to it.  Note:  When making any type of bread machine dough, always add the wet ingredients first and the dry ingredients last.

IMG_9534 IMG_9534 IMG_9542 IMG_9544~Step 2.  Insert the bread pan into the machine.  Close lid and push the "select" button.  Choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push "start".  When the machine signals the dough is done (it will have risen once too), remove pan of dough from the machine.  In my machine this takes 55 minutes.

IMG_9551 IMG_9551 IMG_9551Step 3.  Place 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of olive on on a 12"-round or 13" x 9"-rectangular pizza pan and use a paper towel to oil the inside surface of the pan.  Use a few drops of olive oil to lightly oil your fingertips and use your fingertips to turn the ball of dough out onto the prepared pan.  Allow the dough to rest on the pan about 15-20 minutes.  Note:  This 15-20 minute rest will make dough easy to pat onto pizza pan.

IMG_9558 IMG_9558 IMG_9563 IMG_9563~Step 4.  Using your fingertips and a light touch, pat and press dough evenly across bottos and evenly up sides of pan.  I do this in 3 parts taking 10-15 minutes, allowing dough to rest 3-4 minutes each time before patting and pressing again.  Top your pizza in your favorite way, and, while today's subject is not toppings, FYI, this pizza is topped w/6 slices provolone cheese, 3/4 cup pizza sauce, 2 cups shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of dried oregano.  Cover the topped pizza with a lint-free cotton (flour-sack-type) towel.  Set aside to proof the pizza a second time:  one, two or three hours -- one hour is good, two hours is better, three hours is best.

IMG_9575~ Step 5. Place pan of pizza on pizza stone on center rack of preheated 350° oven for 12-14 minutes. Using a spatula, lift a corner of the pie up and using your other hand (via a pot holder or mitt), tilt pan and slide pie off the pan onto the stone. Continue to bake for 2-3 more minutes.  Crust will be lightly-brown and cheese will be molten. Using a pizza peel, transfer pizza to a wire rack to cool for 3-5 minutes.

Slice, grab a piece, eat, repeat, repeat again & again:

IMG_9588Beer in the Pizza Dough & a Semolina Pizza Crust: Recipe yields dough for 1, 12" round, or, 1, 13" x 9" rectangular pizza.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; bread machine; paper towel; 1, 12"-round pizza pan, or, 1, "13" x 9" baking pan; paper towel; lint-free flour-sack-type towel; pizza stone; large metal spatula; pizza peel; large cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b0263e8602140200dCook's Note: Wouldn't it be great if the moment the smooth, round ball of pizza dough was kneaded we could slap it on the pan, pat it out, slather it with sauce, layer it with toppings and pop it in the oven? It sure would, but, unfortunately, we can't -- well, we can, but the end result is somewhat less than palatable. "Proofing" pizza dough, meaning, "the time it takes for the dough to rise after it has been kneaded and initially proofed", it's the most important step in the pizza making process.  Sadly, it's all-too-often not taken seriously. Great crust comes to those who wait. ~ How and Why to Proof Pizza Dough Two Easy Ways ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/23/2021

~ Homestyle Beef Tips, Gravy & Amish Egg Noodles ~

IMG_9493Beef tips and gravy.  It's one of those humble-yet-hearty, frugally-inexpensive, weeknight meals our moms and grandmoms served to a hungry family after purchasing a pound or three of cheap-at-twice-the-price odds-and-end chunks of beef cubes (aka "stew beef") at the butcher shop.  No one had to be called to the table twice when this dinner was goin' on the table.  Some families preferred their meal ladled atop white rice, others liked it ladled atop mashed potatoes, and, still others served it ladled atop buttered egg noodles.  My family fell into the egg noodle category.

My recipe came via my mother and her recipe came from her mother, which means this recipe has been kitchen-tested and mother-approved through three generations.  I doubt it differs much from most family recipes for beef tips and gravy.  That said, it's worth mention that neither my mom or my grandmother used the type of prepackaged "stew beef" we find in our grocery stores today.  Why?  What we buy today is a random sampling of various beef cuts.  Some are marbled with fat and others are not, and, that can only mean one thing, some of the cubes will end up tender and others will end up shoe leather.  It's frustrating, so, for that reason, I recommend using inexpensive chuck steak exclusively.  Of course it is your choice, but, you've been warned.    


IMG_9406For prepping, seasoned-flour dredging & lightly-browning the beef
:

2 1/2-3  pounds 3/4"-1"-cubed beef chuck steak or chuck roast

1/2  cup Wondra quick-mixing flour for sauces and gravy

1  packet granulated beef bouillon

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon onion powder

2  teaspoons sea salt

2  teaspoons coarse-grind pepper

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

2  tablespoons salted butter

IMG_9482For the vegetable add-ins:

1  cup medium-diced yellow or sweet onion

1  cup peeled and thinly-sliced carrot

1  cup thinly-sliced celery

1  4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, well-drained, liquid reserved to be added to beef stock mixture below

IMG_9459For the liquids to make the gravy:

3  cups beef stock

1/4  cup reserved liquid from the can of mushrooms

1/4  cup port wine

1  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

~ Step 1.  Add the beef stock, reserved liquid from the can of mushrooms, port wine and Worcestershire sauce to a 1-quart measuring container.  Set aside.

IMG_9360 IMG_9364 IMG_9364 IMG_9414 IMG_9417~Step 2.  Using a large chef's knife, cube the beef as directed, discarding any large fat pockets you will find along the way.  To dredge the beef, place the flour, granulated bouillon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a 1-gallon food storage bag.  Toss to incorporate the spices throughout the flour.  In three batches, add the beef cubes to the seasoned flour, thoroughly tossing to coat the beef cubes in flour on all sides after each addition.

IMG_9400 IMG_9407 IMG_9421 IMG_9424~Step 3.  Place oil and butter n a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven.  Over low heat, melt butter into the oil.

IMG_9426 IMG_9426 IMG_9434 IMG_9437 IMG_9442~Step 4.  Increase the heat under the Dutch to medium-high and wait a moment for butter and oil to get hot.  Add all the flour-dredged beef cubes. Using a large slotted spoon or spatula to keep the meat moving around almost constantly, sauté until beef is ever-so-slightly browned and swimming in a flavorful gravy, about 10-12 minutes.

IMG_9448 IMG_9450 IMG_9454~ Step 5.  Add all of the vegetables to the beef in the Dutch oven (the diced onion, sliced carrot, sliced celery and drained mushrooms).  Continue to cook, stirring frequently with the slotted spoon or spatula, until onions are tender and all vegetable are steaming and cooked through, about 10-12 more minutes.

IMG_9460 IMG_9460 IMG_9468 IMG_9473 IMG_9475 IMG_9478 IMG_9400~Step 6.  Add the 3 1/2 cups of liquid (the beef stock, liquid from the mushrooms, wine and Worcestershire sauce) to the Dutch oven.  Give the mixture thorough stir.  When the mixture returns to a boil, adjust (lower) the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 45-60 minutes.  The gravy will be nicely thickened and the beef tips will be tender.  Partially cover the Dutch oven and allow the mixture to steep, about 30 minutes, to allow all the flavors time to marry.

While beef is steeping, prepare noodles (or potatoes or rice): 

IMG_9499Homestyle Beef Tips, Gravy & Amish Egg Noodles:  Recipe yields 6-8 hearty main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  1-quart measuring container; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon ziplock bag; 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven or 4-quart wide-bottomed stockpot w/lid; large slotted spoon or spatula; soup ladle  

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4d83358200bCook's Note: Soups and stews.  We can't seem to get enough of them this time of year -- I know I can't. The difference between the two is easy to describe.  If you started by simmering meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables in a pot of seasoned water-, wine-, juice- or milk- based liquid, you've made soup.  If it is thickened at the end of the process, a soup can be stew-like.  If you started by cooking/sautéing 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.  If only a small amount of flour is used, a stew can be quite soupy.  Soup or stew?  Thick or thin, it's all about how you began the process.  ~ My Pennsylvania Deutsch-Style Beef Noodle Soup ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021) 

02/20/2021

~ Fry the Entire Danged Thing -- Unsectioned Wings ~

IMG_9376Chicken wings.  While not even close to the top of my list of healthy-eating snacks or meals, they are at the top of my list of favorite snacks or meals, and, much like the greater percentage of the rest of the population of the United States, from time-to-time I get a craving for them.  Also, much like the greater percentage of the rest of the population of the United States, I am in agreement, deep-fried wings, as opposed to air-fried oven-roasted or barbecue-grilled, are the best wings.

What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, deep-fried chicken wings, is now found in many forms.  Truth told, there's not much that Buffalo-style chicken can't do, and applying Buffalo wing sauce as a glaze to oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters, or, stirring it into some previously roasted or poached chicken is the perfect way to transition this iconic game day snack into all sorts of other appetizers, sandwiches, main or side-dish salads, or, main-dish meals.  Trust me, as a lady who loves her deep-fried wings, but, only in the privacy of her own home (where she's free to lick fingers, smack lips, pick teeth, and, drip sauce), while different, many of my Buffalo-Style delicacies are every bit as enjoyable as classic wings.

Fresh chicken wings 101 -- each wing has three parts:

Screen Shot 2021-02-20 at 6.24.57 AMThe drummette, the flat wingette, &, the wing tip.

Wings_tray_packaged-image-2019-1024x673As you shoppers all know, there are two ways to purchase fresh wings: sectioned (sold as wingettes or party wings, which contain only the drumettes and the flats, not the wing tips) and unsectioned (sold as chicken wings). Sectioned wings are more expensive for a reason.  One doesn't have to get out the poultry shears to cut them apart at their two joints, or, get out the cleaver to hack them apart at their two joints.  In my girly-girl food world, both quality as disagreeable tasks that I prefer to deligate to family menfolk.

Perhaps it was the last two months of intolerable weather (many snow storms mixed with a few shots of freezing rain for good measure), or, perhaps it's after a year of isolation against Covid-19. Perhaps it was the TGIF gin-and-tonic that was talking to me, but, yesterday, standing in my kitchen all by myself and faced head-on with the task of sectioning a four-pound package of chicken wings with my own two hands, I resisted.  "Screw this", said I.  "Damned the torpedoes, full steam ahead."  "Throw these suckers into the hot oil of the deep-fryer just as they are." Seventeen minutes later, the first batch of three emerged, and, sigh-oh-my.  I will NEVER, EVER, section wings again.  Some days are better than others, and, this old dog just learned a new trick.

Fried & salted -- each one pulls-apart perfectly & easily:

IMG_9384Try it my way.  Life's too short to section chicken wings:

IMG_9395"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary & Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/17/2021

~Jiffy Mix Cornbread, Corn Casserole & Corn Pudding~

IMG_9352Three distinctly-different recipes with three decidedly-different results, all using one, inexpensive common-to-us-all, ingredient:  Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.  At 59 cents for each eye-catching blue-and-yellow box, it's been a time-saving staple in my pantry for over four decades.  I am not alone.  A week ago, there was discussion, on one of my Facebook friend's pages, about store-bought cornbread mixes.  We discussed the rising cost of them, and, which one us "cheaters" consider the best.  As it turned out, almost unanimously (Martha White gets honorable mention), it was the Jiffy brand.  We went on to share our favorite ways to "doctor it" up.  Fun, yum and don't tell anyone it's a mix.  It's the hands-down preferred brand amongst all of us card-carrying cheaters.

~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Double-Delicious Cornbread ~:

IMG_9121~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Triple-Corn Corn Casserole ~:

IMG_9208~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Creamed-Corn Pudding ~:

IMG_9320"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/14/2021

~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Creamed-Corn Pudding ~

IMG_9320 2A few snow storms ago, more than three storms and within 7-10 days, but, truth told, there've been so many snow events, I've lost track, there was discussion, on one of my Facebook friend's pages, about store-bought cornbread mixes.  We discussed the rising cost of them, and, which one us "cheaters" consider the best.  As it turned out, almost unanimously, it was the 59-cent-a-box Jiffy brand. We went on to share our favorite ways to "doctor it" up.  Fun, yum and don't tell anyone it's a mix.  Jiffy corn muffin mix, has been a staple in my pantry for over four decades, and, it's the hands-down preferred brand amongst all of us card-carrying cheaters.

When the end justifies the means, I'm all for shortcuts.

IMG_9264Jiffy corn muffin mix-- a staple in my pantry for over 40 years:

IMG_92134  tablespoons salted butter

1 1/2  cups buttermilk

2  tablespoons sugar

3/4  teaspoon  sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse black pepper

2  large eggs

2  14 1/3-ounce cans cream-style corn

1  8 1/2-ounce box Jiffy corn muffin mix

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

IMG_9216 IMG_9216 IMG_9220 IMG_9220 IMG_9230 IMG_9232 IMG_9234~Step 1.  Spray a 2-quart casserole with no-stick spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350º with oven rack in center.  Place butter in a 2-cup measuring container and melt in microwave. After shaking the container of buttermilk (to make sure it's an even consistency throughout), stir 1 1/4 cups buttermilk into butter, followed by the sugar, salt and pepper.  Lastly, crack in the eggs and whisk them in too.

IMG_9239 IMG_9239 IMG_9245 IMG_9250 IMG_9251~Step 2. IMG_9257Transfer the butter-buttermilk mixture large bowl.  Add and fold in the contents of both cans of cream-style corn.  Add the contents of the box of Jiffy corn muffin mix and fold until ingredients are moistened -- having a few lumps in this mixure is just fine.  Transfer mixture to prepared casserole -- casserole will be very full.

IMG_9257 IMG_9257~ Step 3.  Bake casserole on center rack of preheated 350° oven 45-50 minutes, until puffed through to center and just set.  Casserole will still be slightly "jiggly" in the center, so, do not over bake.  Remove from oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool about 15 additional minutes prior to scooping onto plates or into bowls and serving -- casserole will firm up a bit during the 15 minute rest time, so, do not skip this step.

Go ahead, get a scoop, take a taste.  It's amazing all by itself, or:

IMG_9301Try corn pudding served w/a side of nachos topped w/chili:

IMG_9333A cross between corn bread & corn pudding = corn casserole:

IMG_9200And, don't forget the recipe for double-delicious cornbread:

IMG_9118In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Creamed-Corn Pudding:  Recipe yields 8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-quart casserole; 2-cup measuring container; fork; large rubber spatula; wire cooling rack
 
6a0120a8551282970b01bb0984a3a7970dCook's Note:  Cornbread, corn casserole, or, corn pudding. Whatever Jiffy recipe you choose, besides fried chicken or barbecued spareribs, my favorite thing to serve any one of them with is chili.  In the latter 1980's, my mom came across a copycat recipe for Wendy's chili in Women's Day magazine.  Except for the addition of the Tostitos salsa, which I added at the behest of our middle son, the recipe is unchanged.  I won't lie.  I have several recipes for chili in my repertoire, but, this one, kid-tested and mother approved, like Dave Thomas, is a success story.  It pleases everyone.   Try my ~ Kids' Stuff:  Mel's Copycat Wendy's Chili Con Carne ~.
 
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
 
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/11/2021

~In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Triple-Corn Corn Casserole~

IMG_9208Baked corn casserole is a side-dish staple throughout the Midwest.  Baked corn casserole with some self-rising cornmeal (or cornmeal plus baking soda and/or baking powder) whisked into it is a Southern side-dish staple.  If you can imagine a loaded-with-corn casserole with the flavor and some of the texture of a corn muffin or wedge of cornbread added to it, you're no doubt salivating right now -- it's a "crossing of the streams" so to speak, the best of both, baked into one delicious side-dish.  Jiffy corn muffin mix, has been a staple in my pantry for over four decades, and, at 59-ish cents a box, it's the hands down preferred brand amongst us card-carrying cheaters.

When the end justifies the means, I'm all for shortcuts.

IMG_9187Jiffy corn muffin mix-- a staple in my pantry for over 40 years:

IMG_91493  large eggs, lightly beaten

1  cup buttermilk

2  tablespoons sugar

3/4  teaspoon  sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse black pepper

1  14 1/2-ounce can corn kernels, well-drained

1  14 1/3-ounce can cream-style corn

1  8 1/2-ounce box Jiffy corn muffin mix

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

IMG_9154 IMG_9154Step 1.  Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with no-stick cooking spray and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350º with oven rack in center.  Open the corn kernels, drain off the excess water, then, empty the contents onto a plate that has been lined with two-three layers of paper towels.  Set aside so corn kernels can drain thoroughly.  

IMG_9156 IMG_9156 IMG_9163 IMG_9163 IMG_9167 IMG_9167 IMG_9174 IMG_9174 IMG_9179~Step 2.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk, sugar, salt and pepper. Using a large spatula, fold in the corn kernels followed by the the creamed corn.  Lastly, add and fold in the contents of the box of corn muffin mix.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole -- it will be quite full, but this won't bake up over the top..

IMG_9182 IMG_9190~ Step 3.  Bake, uncovered, on center rack of preheated 350° oven, about 45 minutes.  Casserole will be golden brown and puffed up through to center.  Remove from oven and allow to rest about 10-15 minutes prior to serving.  This casserole with firm up slightly as it cools, so, take advantage of this time.  Tick, tock. 

A perfect side to chili w/cheese on a chilly day:

IMG_9200Try In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Double-Delicious Cornbread too:

IMG_9121In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Triple-Corn Corn Casserole:  Recipe yields 8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-quart casserole; paper towels; whisk or fork; large rubber spatula; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b01a73e0c7a6f970dCook's Note: Corn casserole.  It's a midwest staple.  If there was ever a side-dish recipe you need to have, this is it.  To quote my son, "this casserole will change your life".  If you have never tasted a traditional corn casserole, there is nothing ordinary about it.  It's a scoop of steamy, creamy, crunchy, sweet, peppery, corn kernel goodness.  It's one of the best comfort foods known to sweet corn lovers.  Be sure to try my ~ My Rich & Creamy Baked Sweet Corn Pudding ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/08/2021

~In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Double-Delicious Cornbread~

IMG_9121Breakfast, lunch or dinner, more-often-than-not, a corn muffin or wedge of cornbread is a welcome addition to the table.  Served hot or warm slathered with butter and/or a drizzle of honey, puts it over-the-top.  That said, while corn muffins and cornbread are easy enough to make from scratch (if you use enough yellow cornmeal on a regular basis to justify keeping a bag in your pantry), there is a popular and inexpensive way to speed the process up and still produce a seriously-delightful loaf of this beloved Southern staple.  It's called Jiffy corn muffin mix, and, at 59-ish cents a box, it's the hands down preferred brand amongst us card-carrying cheaters.

When the end justifies the means, I'm all for shortcuts.

IMG_9112Jiffy corn muffin mix-- a staple in my pantry for over 40 years:

IMG_90401  8 1/2-ounce box Jiffy corn muffin mix

4  tablespoon salted butter, melted (1/2 stick)

1/2  cup buttermilk, shaken prior to measuring for proper consistency

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

1  14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted corn kernels, well-drained

1  4-ounce can fire-roasted green chiles, well-drained (optional but highly-recommended)

2  tablespoons sugar

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

IMG_9044~ Step 1.  Spray a 2-quart casserole with no-stick cooking spray and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Open the fire-roasted corn kernels and optional fire-roasted chiles, drain the excess water from both, then, empty the contents of both onto a plate that has been lined with two-three layers of paper towels.  Set aside so veggies can drain thoroughly.

IMG_9046 IMG_9049 IMG_9052 IMG_9057 IMG_9061 IMG_9061 IMG_9071~Step 2.  Place butter in a 1-cup measuring container and melt in microwave. Stir the sugar into the butter, then, after gently-shaking the container of buttermilk (to make sure the buttermilk is an even consistency throughout), stir 1/2 cup buttermilk into the melted butter-sugar mixture.  Transfer to a large bowl.

IMG_9075 IMG_9077 IMG_9081 IMG_9081~Step 3.  Crack the eggs into the same 1-cup measuring container and use a fork to lightly-beat them.  Add to the buttermilk mixture and use a rubber spatula to thoroughly incorporate the eggs.

IMG_9087 IMG_9087 IMG_9098 IMG_9098~Step 4.  Add, fold, and thoroughly incorporate well-drained corn and chiles into the buttermilk-egg mixture.  Add the box of corn muffin mix and fold again, until thoroughly incorporated.

IMG_9105 IMG_9105 IMG_9105Step 5.  Transfer the mixture to prepared casserole dish.  Bake on centre rack of preheated 350° oven about 30 minutes, or, until puffed through to the center and a cake tester inserted into two-three spots in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool about 15 minutes prior to serving warm, or, cool completely, about 1 hour, to serve at room temperature.

Slice while warm or at room temperature:

IMG_9118Go ahead, take that first taste.  You'll be wowed:

IMG_9131It's full of flavor, cornbread crumbly, &, delightfully moist:

IMG_9145In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Double-Delicious Cornbread:  Recipe yields 8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  paper towels; 1-cup measuring container; fork; large rubber spatula; 2-quart casserole; wire cooling rack; cake tester or toothpick

6a0120a8551282970b017c372c8a5b970bCook's Note: How seriously does one take their cornbread recipe?  I take mine very seriously, but, I'm not proclaiming it the best recipe.  Why? If I walked into a room full of people right now and struck up a conversation about cornbread, the cornbread lovers would all chime in unision, "I have the absolute best recipe and I'd be happy to share it with you."  If there were a Southerner or two in the room with us Yankees, there'd be a lecture about Southern cornbread being the only "real" cornbread.  The  discussion would revolve around the rights and wrongs of cornbread baking, and, Northern- vs. Southern-style cornbread. With one or two minor deviations, I classify my ~ Triple-Corn Jalapeño Corn-Muffins ~ as Southern.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/05/2021

~ Easiest Skillet-Fried Barbecue-Sauced Pork Chops ~

IMG_9029When my kids were kids, barbecue-sauced pork chops, served up atop a bed of my easy-to-make recipe for better than store-bought stovetop macaroni and cheese was one of their favorite weeknight meals.  No one needed to be called to the table twice on barbecued pork chop night, and, I didn't have to spend all afternoon cooking in order to reap the reward of their accolades.  All I had to do was brown the chops on both sides and then let them slow simmer in a mixture of barbecue sauce and water for about 30 minutes until fork tender.  One-skillet perfection.

Pork chops, barbecue sauce & mac & cheese = happy kids.

IMG_89894  3/4"-1" thick, bone-in pork loin chops

3-4  tablespoons corn or peanut oil, for sautéing chops

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for seasoning chops

1 1/4  cups K.C. Masterpiece original barbecue sauce, plus, additional barbecue sauce for dipping or drizzling at tableside

1/4  cup water

IMG_8991 IMG_8991 IMG_8996 IMG_9002~Step 1. In a 12" nonstick skillet, heat the corn or peanut oil over low heat. Increase heat medium-high, add the chops, then, season their tops with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Sauté the chops until they're browning nicely on the bottom, about 10-12 minutes.  Using a spatula, flip the chops over and season the second side with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Lower the heat slightly, to medium, and continue to sauté the chops on their second sides until nicely golden on the bottom too, about 10-12 more minutes.

IMG_9006 IMG_9011 IMG_9013 IMG_9017 IMG_9023~Step 2.  Add the barbecue sauce to the chops in the skillet, followed by the water.  Quickly heat the barbecue sauce to bubbling, stirring in and around and under the chops constantly for a moment or two to incorporate the sauce into the flavorful pan drippings.  Adjust the heat to a gentle simmer.  Cover skillet and simmer until chops tender, 20-30 minutes.

Serve alongside or atop a generous helping of mac & cheese w/additional barbecue sauce for dipping or drizzling:

IMG_9033Easiest Skillet-Fried Barbecue-Sauced Pork Chops:  Recipe yields 4 main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List: 12" skillet, preferably nonstick w/lid; 1-cup measuring container; fork and/or spatula; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b0263e960981a200bCook's Note: Unless I'm staring-at a 1 1/2"-2" double-cut pork chop, complete with a pocket full of stuffing inside, that's been painstakingly stovetop- or oven-braised, I believe all pork chops taste better slathered with barbecue sauce.  So, for the purpose of this post, my reference to barbecued pork chops refers to pork chops slathered in barbecue sauce, not pork chops prepared in traditional barbecue-style (low and slow over smoldering coals or embers).  As long as the end justifies the means, I'm easy to get along with.  For another way to make ~ Easy K.C.-Style Oven-Baked Barbecued Pork Chops ~, try this recipe.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/02/2021

~ Jamaican-Style Shrimp and Scallop Coconut Curry ~

IMG_8966I'm no expert, but, I do know just enough about Jamaican cooking to NOT be dangerous.  I know that a dish consisting of ackee fruit and salt cod is their National Dish.  Alas, even if I could get my hands on an ackee here in the states, I wouldn't touch it. Parts of the ackee are toxic, so, my better judgement tells me to leave that recipe to the experts.  And, while I love salt cod and fresh cod too, I like seafood (like crab, shrimp, scallops and lobster) better, so, I'm confidant I can create a luscious Jamaican-style dinner tonight that's well within my culinary wheelhouse.     

6a0120a8551282970b01a73dae3659970dIn case you've never had the opportunity to try Jamaican fare, from barbecue to jerk, the Jamaicans make some of the best fish, chicken, pork, beef and lamb dishes in the world. They make some magnificent curries too, so, tonight, for our N'or Easter snowstorm dinner, I decided to make a Jamaican seafood curry -- shrimp and scallops are always in my freezer.  It's easy to prepare, full of great Caribbean flavor, and, the only "special ingredient" you'll need:

Jamaican-Style Curry Powder!

Jamaican curry powder contains allspice and Indian-style curry powder does not.  Indian curry powder contains cardamom and mace, Jamaican curry powder does not.  All Jamaican curries contain coconut milk, but only South Indian curries do.  Jamaican curries tend to be spicy and sweet while Indian curries are mild and slightly tart.

"Curry" is a catch-all English (British) term used in Western cultures to denote stewike dishes from Southern and Southeast Asia, as well as, Africa and the Caribbean.  Curry powder (the commercially marketed blend of spices we buy in our American markets) doesn't really exist in any of these places.  Hand-made pulverized blends of dried spices, the amounts of which vary to suit the palate of each family or cook are prepared in a mortar and pestle.  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).

This spicy, delightful, snowstorm meal is just perfect:

IMG_89071 1/2  pounds peeled and deveined extra-large shrimp (26/30 count), tails off (about 2 pounds unpeeled shrimp to start)

1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops

1 1/2-2  cups each: green bell pepper, red bell pepper and sweet onion, cut into 1/4" strips, strips cut into halves

1  cup chopped cilantro leaves + additional leaves for garnish

6  tablespoons hot or mild Jamaican-style curry powder

1  tablespoon garlic paste

2  tablespoons ginger paste

1  teaspoon sea salt

1/4-1/2  teaspoon Scotch bonnet pepper powder (optional) (Note:  Jamaicans typically use fresh, Scotch Bonnet chilies for extra heat.  I don't often have them on hand, but, the slightly citrusy flavor of the incendiary powder, which I keep in my pantry, is a marvelous substitute.)

2  14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes, very well-drained

2  14-ounce cans coconut milk that has been well-shaken prior to opening

3-4  tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil, for preparing skillet

5  cups uncooked basmati rice, or, 10 cups steamed basmati rice, cooked via your favorite method (Note:  I use an electric rice cooker, and, I steam the rice before I start prepping.)

IMG_8936 IMG_8936 IMG_8944 IMG_8944~Step 1. Using the measuring cup that came with the rice cooker, measure and place 5 cups uncooked basmati rice, followed by 5 cups cold water, into the steamer container.  Stir.  Close the lid and turn the steamer on to steam the rice -- this will take 18-20 minutes.  When machine signals the rice is done, open the lid and rake through it to separate the grains -- I use my vintage pasta fork to rake.  Close the lid and set aside to keep warm while preparing the curry.

IMG_8910 IMG_8910 IMG_8910~ Step 2.  Prep the green and red bell peppers, onion, and cilantro, placing them in a large bowl as you work.  Add the spices: the curry powder, garlic paste, ginger paste, salt and Scotch bonnet pepper powder.  Using a large spoon, give the mixture a thorough stir, to coat all the vegetables in all the spices. 

IMG_8922 IMG_8922 IMG_8922 IMG_8930 IMG_8930 IMG_8930~Step 3. Add the well-drained diced tomatoes and stir again.  Add the coconut milk and stir again. Add the shrimp and scallops and stir again to thoroughly combine.  Set aside, 10-15 minutes (30 maximum), to give flavors time to marry.

IMG_8934 IMG_8956 IMG_8956~Step 4. Heat the vegetable oil in an 8-quart chef's pan with straight, deep sides over medium-high.  Add the seafood mixture to skillet, increase heat to high, and continue to cook, stirring constantly for 5-6 full minutes. Turn heat off and allow mixture to rest on the stovetop 3-5 minutes, to finish cook the seafood -- sauce will be nicely thickened, the seafood will be perfectly cooked.  Portion steamed rice into 6-8 soup- or pasta-type bowls and ladle steaming-hot curry over rice.  Serve immediately.

Serve steaming-hot seafood curry ladled over rice.  

IMG_8974Jamaican-Style Shrimp and Scallop Coconut Curry:  Recipe yields 6-8 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List: electric rice steamer; cutting board; chef's knife; colander or strainer; large bowl; large spoon; 8-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3b9e210200dCook's Note: Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of serving cheese or cheese sauces with fish or seafood, but, there are exceptions to every rule, so, for those who, like myself, do appreciate the divine goodness of dishes like lobster macaroni and cheese, you've gotta try my creamy-dreamy Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta with succulent, butter-poached lobster meat added to it.  In the event you've never heard of rasta pasta, you might want to try my ~ Jamaican-Style Butter-Poached Lobsta Pasta Pasta ~.

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)