Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sausage and Cheese Bread

The pool is open so the never-ending task of drying large towels and juggling vehicles so the homegirlz can get to work have kept me away.  Yes, both of the homegirlz are now gainfully employed!

Emeril Lagasse made Andouille Cheese Bread on a recent episode of Emeril Live and I was totally captivated.  Then he fried the bread and well let's just say the trance was broken.  I couldn't get the idea of sausage, cheese and bread out of my mind.  Over and over, I thought. Seriously, what's life without sausage, cheese and bread?

I really like this dough recipe.  It's one of the easiest dough recipes to work.  It's not sticky and very easy to roll out.  It can be used to make rolls, bread sticks or just some great sandwich bread.

So here's my version:

Sausage and Cheese Bread -

1 envelope dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus a litt5le extra Canola or vegetable oil
2 cups warm water (about 110 - 115 degrees F)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound ground  Polish Kielbasa (Andouille is the sausage of choice if you can get it and I bet hot Italian sausage would be phenomenal too!)
8 ounces grated white sharp cheddar cheese

Combine the yeast, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the oil in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook. Add the warm water. On stir or low, stir the mixture for about 4 minutes to dissolve the yeast. The yeast is supposed to foam at this point.  If you are sure your yeast isn't old and the mixture doesn't foam, don't  worry about it too much.  The mixture didn't foam for me and I've made this dough several times.  Each time, the dough has risen beautifully. 

While the yeast, water and sugar are making friends, get out a large mixing bowl and combine the flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal, and the salt. Once the yeast mixture has been stirred, SLOWLY add the mixed dry ingredients to the yeast mixture. Mix on the lowest speed until it the dry ingredients are blended in and then increase the speed to medium and mix and the dough starts to climby up the dough hook. This will happen very fast.

Coat another large mixing bowl the remaining oil.  Add the dough to the bowl  and turn the dough to coat it on all sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Cut up the sausage in very small pieces and brown it in a skillet over medium heat. Once the sausage has browned, remove from skillet using a slotted spoon and allow the sausage to drain and cool on a paper towel-lined platter.  Grate the cheese.

Prepare a 9x12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Remove the dough from the bowl and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands or a floured rolling pin, gently roll out the dough to a  rectangle, approximately 10" x 24". Sprinkle the cooked sausage over the dough, leaving about a 3/4" to 1" border on all sides.  Sprinkle the grated cheese over the sausage, the sprinkle with your favorite Creole or Cajun seasoning.

Carefully "jelly roll" the dough from the longest side and pinch the ends together.  Using a serrated knife, cut the ends off to where you can feel the sausage and cheese begins and discard or eat if you like raw dough.  Begin slicing the roll in to approximately 1/2" slices and place in prepared baking dish.

Cover the rolls once again with plastic wrap, place in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise for 30 minutes.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.  You and anyone else in your home will begin pacing and tapping their finger tips waiting for this to come out of the oven because your house will be filled with a wonderful baked bread aroma.

The only thing I would add or change would be add more cheese and probably mix with a gooier cheese like fontina, Gruyere or mozzarella.  This just straight-up needs more cheese.

If you need to feel loved, make these soon.  By the way, one of these is a meal all by itself.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Creamy Garlic Chicken

This is another recipe I tried from the Simply Suppers cookbook. It's not often I find a cookbook that I am cooking my way through and have the added bonus of my family requesting repeat performances of many of the dishes and this is one.

My motto is you can never have too much garlic but if you're not a garlic lover, don't let the amount of garlic in this recipe scare you away.  A very flavorful and mellow garlic flavor is produced in this creamy sauce.

Are you drooling yet?

4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts OR 5-8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
20 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons cognac (you can substitute brandy)
1 cup dry white whine
1 tablesppon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons AP flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse and pat dry chicken with paper towels.  Generously seaon chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken on both sides, about 6 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and reserve.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the Dutch oven.  Add the galric and cook stirring until lightly browned and fragrant, about four minutes.  Keep the garlic moving, you don't want it to burn.  Add the cognac or brandy, white wine, and thyme to the pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then return chicken to the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and allow to simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil.  Whisk the flour into the sauce and raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce back to a boil.  Whisk in the heavy cream and continue cooking until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.  Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the sauce over the chicken, serve with your favorite sides - mashed potatoes or rice and a green vegetable. 

This is a guaranteed smile maker.

Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

San Francisco Sourdough French Bread and Sour Dough Starter

I don't remember how old I was when my father made his first sour dough starter.  The container with this mysterious liquid that bubbled was removed from the refrigerator almost every Friday afternoon for whatever my dad was in the mood to bake that weekend.  By the next morning, our home was filled with a delectable odor and we just couldn't wait to see what he was going to do with that phantom from the fridge.  We would ask him, "Dad what are you making this weekend?", he would grin and say, "It's a surprise."  We always knew we had something wonderful to look forward to.  We would hit the jackpot quite often when he would make biscuits for Sunday morning breakfast and one of his many sour dough bread recipes for Sunday dinner.

I found his sour dough starter recipe along with his San Francisco Sour Dough Bread recipe.  I looked online and found there are so many ways to make sour dough starter.  Some people even give their sour dough starters a name and some sour dough starters can range from the age of 20 to 100 years old!  Sour dough is just a whole other frequency for serious bakers.

This starter recipe is very easy especially for those of you who are afraid of yeast.  Give it a try, what have you got ot lose?

Sour Dough Starter:

2 cups AP flour
1 packet dry yeast
Warm water

Stir yeast into 2 cups of AP flour and add enough warm water to make a thick batter; stir only enough to break up the lumps. Let starter stand for 24-hours in a warm place or until house is filled with a delectable aroma.  Use a large plastic or glass container, never use a metal container.  Store in the refrigerator.  When used, replace by adding flour and water only.  Let stand in a warm place until it begins to bubble.  Before using, remove from refrigerator and put in warm place until active.

The starter will last for years when properly cared for.

San Francisco Sour Dough French Bread

1 Packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cup Sour Dough Starter
5 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons salt

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle dry yeast over 1 cup of warm water.  Let the yeast dissolve for 5 minutes then stir in Sour Dough Starter.  Gradually add 4 cups of flour mixed with the salt, 1 cup at a time thoroughly  incorporating before adding the next cup of flour.  Cover the bowl with a damp clother and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Turn dough our onto a floured board and work in about 1 cup of flour until dough is no longer sticky, and then knead until satiny.  Shape dough into 1 large round or 2 long loaves.

Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal and let rise again for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.  Make diagonal slashes in bread with a sharp knife or razor blade so dough does not fall.

Put a shallow pan of water on the lower shelf of oven preheated to 400 degrees F.  Place bread in oven on upper shelf and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until crust is medium dark brown.  The water creates the humidity that gives this bread that special flavor.

About 10 minutes before bread is done, brush the loaves with ice water and continue with the remaining baking time.  The ice water gives the bread that extra crispy crust.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

This is the most awesome tasting bread!  I just knew this would be a flop but it wasn't, I could feel my dad right beside me the whole time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Porchetta with Vegetables

Pork fat definitely rules, but this time I decided to try this recipe with a pork tenderloin instead of a pork shoulder to keep the fat content down.  This is a compilations of a couple of different porchetta recipes.  I was very pleased with the outcome and think you will be too.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

For the pork tenderloin you need:

1 bunch fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
10 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large pork tenderloin about 2 lbs.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the porchetta: Trim the pork tenderloin of excess fat and remove the silver skin.  Combine the rosemary, sage, garlic and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Mix with enough olive oil until a loose paste has formed. Gently cut the sides of the pork so it opens up like a book and lies flat on your cutting board. Rub the oil mixture all over the inside of the pork shoulder, don't be stingy, slather it on everywhere! Season generously with salt and pepper. Roll the pork and tie tightly with cooking string.

For the Vegetables:

1 large Vidalia or yellow onion, diced
10 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered lenghtwise
1 celery root, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 bottle Pinot Grigio or your favorite white wine
Kosher salt
1 bundle fresh thyme
5 bay leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 quarts chicken stock

Place all of the vegetables in a large roasting pan, add the wine. Season with salt, to taste, and add the bundle of thyme and bay leaves. Place the pork tenderloin on top of the vegetables.  The vegetable will act like a rack while the pork tenderloin if cooking.  Rub the top of the pork with oil and place on the middle rack in the oven.

Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the skin starts to brown and becomes crispy. Brush the skin with the pan juices and add some of the chicken stock on and around the pork. Lower heat to 325 and roast for another 30 to 45 minutes until all of the vegetables are fork tender.  Baste the pork occasionally and add more chicken stock to keep pan moist. If the skin becomes too dark, tent with aluminum foil.

Remove the pork from the pan to a cutting board, remove and discard the string. Allow the tenderloin to rest for about 10 minutes. Slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Serve with the vegetables from the pan, drenched in the pan juices.

This is definitely an "A" list meal!  You will be dreaming of leftovers all night too.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Creamy Coconut Cake

Coconut lovers of the world unite!  Gigi, this is for you!
One of my daughters said, "This is the best cake you've ever made in my whole life.", then she thought for a minute and told me, "Don't ever make this again until I leave for college.".  What?  She's going to leave me?  My worst fears are not far off, but now I have an evil weapon in my arsenal, this cake.

Prepare your cake pans with shortening and flour.  Note: I have found preparing cake pans with shortening works so much better than oil, butter or non-stick spray.  Shortening seems to hold up to the heat better and aids in releasing the cake from the pan better.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F


1/2 cup vegetable oil
12 ounces shredded coconut
8 ounces sour cream
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 box yellow cake mix
1 (4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut and sour cream and set aside, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yellow cake mix, instant vanilla pudding, 1/2 cup oil, water, vanilla extract, eggs, egg yolks, and cream of coconut.  Blend until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed.  Pour equal amounts into both cake pans.  Place in 350 degree oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes (based on two 9-inch round cake pans), until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Once the cakes are completely cooled. place on on a cake plate, flat side down, domed side up; this will be the bottom layer.  Spread 1/2 of sour cream/coconut mixture over the top of the bottom layer of the cake.  Carefully place the second layer of the cake on top of the iced bottom layer, domed side down, flat side up.

Spread the remaining sour cream/coconut mixture on the top layer of the cake.


2 cups powdered sugar
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup shredded coconut

Blend the powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk together until it reaches the proper consistency.  Drizzle over top of cake, allowing it to run down the sides.  Sprinkle with shredded coconut.

Allow the cakes to cool for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before removing them form the pans.

So....if you're not ready to launch the youngins jest yet, bake a cake....this cake.

So glad Blogger is finally back up and running and I y'all are too.

Have a great weekend and report back to me about this cake!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Forgotten Apple Crisp with Butterscotch

I found some apples in the fridge!  Truth be told,  I forgot about them and yes, I could have grabbed one and ate it but then my family would have been deprived of this crispy, bubbly, and scrumptious dessert.  This is such an easily prepared dessert and a cinch when you need a dessert on the fly. 

Besides, the remaining apples more than likely would have been forgotten.  I don't have to get graphic, you all know what happens to produce forgotten in the fridge...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a a 9x9 baking dish with butter (cooking spray will work too).


4 Gala apples or whatever kind you forgotten about in your fridge, peeled, cored and diced
1  bag butterscotch chips (leftovers from the holidays)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons butter cubed, plus more for preparing baking dish

Toss all of the above ingredients, except for the butter in a large bowl.  Place in prepared baking dish.  Dot with the butter.

Crispy Topping

3/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
Pinch  of salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats, and salt. Blend in the butter with a fork until it forms pea size lumps. Fold in the pecans and sprinkle over the apple filling mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. It will be bubbly and golden brown. 

Place dish on a trivet or rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  TEN of the longest minutes of your life!

Bowl it or plate it next to a scoop of Dulce de Leche, Pecan Praline or Vanilla ice cream.  Really, try it sometime!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hamburger Steaks with Mushroom Gravy

Is there a meal from your childhood that you can still smell or taste?  One that brings a smile your face still?  Can you remember walking into your home and that aroma hit you and you raced to the kitchen to make sure your nose wasn't fooling you?  You see one happy site; your mom or maybe your dad making one of your favorite dinners. 

Hamburger steak in brown gravy...oh yeah with smashed taters, now you're talking!  Chopped steak, hamburger steak all the same...is Salisbury the same thing?  I'll have to investigate and get back to you.

Don't be scared by all the pictures, this is sooooooooooo worth it!  You will have to make a REAL roux and I know you can do it.  Once you make a real roux, there will be no stopping you.

Beef  Patties:

2 lbs lean ground beef or ground sirloin
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 clove minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon butter

Combine the ground beef, egg, Worcestershire, shallots, garlic, parsley, ground mustard, bread crumbs, flour, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a large bowl. Shape 6 to 8 oval patties.  Place on a plate and set aside. 

Heat a large skillet (break out the cast iron if you have it) over medium-heat and add the oil and butter.

When the butter foams add the patties and brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Place the browned patties to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.  Spoon off any remaining oil but be sure to leave the browned bits, that's flavor!

Mushroom Gravy:

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
8 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 small onion, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brandy
2 cups low-sodium beef stock

Return the same skillet to the stove and lower the heat to medium.  Add the oil and heat, then sprinkler in the flour.  NOTE:  To make a REAL roux, you have to use oil and NOT butter.  Butter can handle the heat and will break down before you achieve the color and flavor of the roux for a brown gravy. Butter is fine for a blond roux or a bechemel sauce but not for this type of gravy.

Continuous stir and be real careful not to splash, the roux will burn you.  You will notice as the flour cooks, the color and smell will change.  The roux will begin to get a slightly nutty smell.  Keep stirring, do a figure 8, write your name, draw a picture in it, just keep it moving so it doesn't burn.

Once the roux is a little darker than peanut butter you're where you want to be.

Add the mushrooms, onion, and thyme, and enjoy the amazing aroma!  Stir to coat the veggies.  Contrary to popular belief, a roux does not stop cooking once you add the veggies, it will brown a little more and once the veggies begin releasing their moisture, then the roux will stop browning.

Add the tablespoon of butter and continue cooking, stirring from time to time until the mushrooms are a golden brown.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the brandy and stir, cook 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Slowly pour in the stock and stir until smooth. Allow gravy to come to a boil and cook until gravy had reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste and pour the gravy over the beef patties waiting in the baking dish.

Place dish in pre-heated 350 degree oven.  Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and uncover and allow it to sit 5 minutes before serving with homemade mashed potatoes and green beans.  Retro is good!

Have a fantastic weekend and Happy Mother's Day! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin and Macaroon Cookies PLUS Lagniappe from My Daughter, Lauren

This is my oldest homegirl, Lauren.  She can't stand the term, "homegirl".  It is what it is.  She will be a senior in high school next year.  So, the mommy ride and being in any kind of control is almost over.   Poor Kaitlin...to say I am proud of her is so lame, because I am so much more than proud of her.  What do you say to a child who is worried because her "Trig" grade DROPPED to a 99?  She always does the right thing...she's a better person than I am.  As I type this, tears stream down my face.  If she even read this blog, I would be in so much trouble for typing all of this but what I am about to share with you...well let's just say I would have to sleep with one eye open as long as she has a key to our house.  I found this poem, she wrote for her Honors English III class and sheesh, she amazes me with everything she does.

I Am From

I am from Irish and French descent.
From a city that surely celebrates Lent;
a place where strangers are friends.
I am from the city where the rules are meant to bend.

I am from a tiny house and sharing a room.
From swimming all night and starring at the moon;
from an award winning lawn and garden
from talking back followed by, "I beg your pardon?".

I am from always do your best, nothing half-ass
and groggily waking up for Mass.
From always having a huge Thanksgiving.
I am from two parents who bust their butt to make a living.

I am from living two minutes away from my cousins,
from arguments with my sister by the dozens;
but realizing I love her more than my words describe.
I am from wishing I could once again be five.

I am from homemade food with a kick;
adding a little of that and a little of this.
From dinner is always a family affair
and praying before my meal with people who care.

I am from a town that was turned upside down
knick-knacks and prized possessions were drowned.
From a city where "victim" is an insult
and if you don't make the best of your situation, it's your own fault.

I am from the Big Easy
the city that tugs at my heart,
the city that always has a reason to celebrate.
I am from the best city in the world,
I am from New Orleans.

Wow..thank you for humoring me.

These cookies were the first thing EVER, I ever made, cooked, or baked.  I was maybe around 9?

It's an old recipe from my River Roads book and sometimes, you just have to go back.

Who's with me?

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, unbeaten
1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups rolled oats (quick cooking oats work just fine)
1/2 cup raisins

Mix thoroughly the shortening, sugars, vanilla and eggs.  Sift together the flour, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and add to mixture.  Fold in rolled oats and raisins.  Drop  by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet (siplat and parchment paper work, save the extra work and calories).  Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Remove from oven, cool 3 minute son baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool for 10 more minutes.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

These cookies can be your best friend or be there to share with a best friend.  They can also just be there for you after you've finished a good cry.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cane Syrup Glazed Pork Chops

I'm a sweet and savory kind of girl, not big into candy bars or pretzels, but give me a bag of yogurt covered pretzels and you lose, because you will never get them back.  That's a fact. 

Since I'm confessing, I lay awake at night thinking about different recipes I've seen on TV or on blogs that I visit and either just flat out try,copy and blog about them or figure how to tweak them a bit to appease my picky family's palate. One of the many things that makes blogging amazing is we are in different regions, even different countries and we all have different tastes! 

Over the years, I've watched many chefs create their version of Maple Glazed Pork Chops, but here in East Tennessee where a four ounce bottle of maple syrup is about eight dollars, (which is way too rich for my pocketbook), I found a very tasty substitute and hope you like it too. 

The main star of this recipe is Steen's Pure Cane Syrup:

This is the syrup stood by me during my childhood.  No gravy on biscuits, we poured Steen's.  We poured Steens on pancakes, waffles and Pain Per Dou (Lost Bread or French Toast).  We even made popcorn balls with Steens. 

I don't know the people at Steen's and I can guarantee, they haven't heard of  me, but you can get their products online, just saying.

But let's get serious; we're talking pork and sweet and savory and this is a Winter, Spring Summer, and Fall kind of dish.  So get out the cast iron skillet and fire it up!

4 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 - 6 center cut bone-in pork chops
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Steens Pure Cane Syrup or of course you can use maple syrup
1/2 cup chicken stock

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder and salt.  It's not hot or spicy,but just gives the pork a little kick in the chops and wakes it up.

Sprinkle evenly over both sides of the pork chops.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until desired doneness, about for 4 to 6 minutes.

In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, add the balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the Steens Pure Cane Syrup and chicken stock. Cook over medium heat until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the cane syrup.

Tie a napkin around your neck, and make sure you don't waste a drop.