03/31/12

You know you’re a Foodie, when…

Special thanks to my friends on Facebook who joined in, this was a hoot! This one’s for all my foodie friends, what a bunch of weirdos…

You know you’re a foodie when…

You plan vacations based on the local restaurant scene

You’ve stayed up till 2am reading…a cookbook

You take notes at the movies during “food scenes”

You carry around your own condiments…you know, just in case

You have a 60″ Plasma TV and pay for cable…but the only channel you watch is Food Network.

You’ve used the term “food porn” in front of your mom

It no longer seems strange to take pictures of what you eat

Friends apologize when inviting you to fast food restaurants

Dogs follow you because you smell like bacon

Your 4 y/o won’t eat boxed mac & cheese, but loves foie gras

You never get invited to dinner because your friends are scared to cook for you

You’ve rearranged food on someone else’s plate, to take a picture…

When the answer to any problem is to make dessert

You’re on a first-name basis with the butcher at your favorite store, but you can’t remember your babysitter’s name.

You’ve registered for your wedding AND baby shower at WHOLE FOODS.

You have fantasized about being locked in a kitchen with Alton Brown

Okay, your turn…

03/30/12

Mom’s Hot Chocolate

The story & recipe below were recently featured in Chicken Soup: Food & Love.

Of the 14 Chicken Soup titles I’ve been published in, this is one of my favorite stories, and, I think, one of the best all-around books they’ve ever put out…and they’ve put out some doozies!

Now, as much as I’d love folks to go buy copies of the book, our hautemealz.com subscribers and followers always get a little extra-special treatment. So, here’s the full story and recipe for your enjoyment!

(If you still want to buy the book, just click on the cover to be taken to our Amazon.com store.)

Mom’s Hot Chocolate
by Perry P. Perkins

One of my earliest memories is of waking up to the smell of camp-smoke and my mother’s hot chocolate.  My parents were poor, and we lived in tenement apartments in the Portland suburbs. Dad worked two jobs and mom was disabled, but that didn’t stop them from packing up our some-times running station wagon and heading into the Cascade Mountains several times each year.

Dad would fish with remarkably poor results and Mom would read or knit.

I, until I was old enough to garner my own interest in not catching fish, would wander around the nearby woods pestering small animals and doing whatever it is that youngsters do to amuse themselves.  Our gear was old and worn and our food was usually cheap and starchy. One thing that we always splurged on, however, was the ingredients for our traditional hot chocolate, a recipe that has been handed down from my grandmother to my mother, and finally to me.

There was no store-bought, just-add-water powdered cocoa in our camp!

Mom would set the smoke-blacked and much dented coffee pot at the edge of the fire and slowly warm the milk, adding chocolate and mints, and stirring until the steaming contents had become a thick, rich brown and the aroma of chocolate and mint mixed with the scent of Oregon pine to fill the camp.  More than once I can remember folks that we had just met hours before, wandering into our campsite with mug in hand to enjoy my mother’s creation.

I can remember blistering hot summer days, freezing spring mornings and torrential Pacific Northwest downpours that trapped us in our heavy canvas tent for days at a time, but I don’t remember ever waking up in the woods without the beckoning smell of mom’s hot chocolate wafting into our tent.

Mom has been gone for a decade now. She went home years before I met my wife and started my own family.

Now, when we load up our car and head for the mountains, nestled among the air mattresses, fishing poles, and ultra-light sleeping bags, there are always Hershey chocolate bars and Peppermint-Patties.  I still use that battered coffee pot, resting it over a portable camp stove now, as we always bring extra cups for the neighbors that inevitably show up.

I’ve told my family a lot about Mom, her life, struggles and victories, and it seems like nothing brings back these warm memories better than sitting around the fire at night and sipping sweet hot chocolate.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

Mom’s Hot Chocolate
1 Quart of half-and-half milk.
4 regular milk chocolate bars
1 large Peppermint Patty bar

Bring milk to a very low simmer; add milk chocolate & peppermint patty. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Serve hot and enjoy the company!

03/29/12

Working with Prosciutto

SimplySmartDinnerPlans member Stephanie, asks:

I need some pointers on how to handle/work with prosciutto.  We’ve been loving the tilapia recipes this week.  I had bought a little package of what I thought was good quality prosciutto (thin sliced). When I opened it up last night to wrap the tilapia, I found the prosciutto so thin that it tore. 

The packaging had plastic separators between the pieces.  I thought I just needed to slow down and tried rolling it, like pie crust – thinking I could unroll it to wrap on the fish, but that just ended in a bunched up pieces of prosciutto. 

Luckily I had more in the package than I needed, so I was OK with a few “ruined” pieces.  In the end I just ended up with some holes in it and did the best I could to place it on the fish.  It may have hurt the presentation, but it didn’t take away from the flavor.

Just was left thinking there must be a better way . . . thought I’d ask.  Also could you recommend something to do with the mangled pieces of prosciutto I have left?

The flavor on this dinner was excellent!  We loved the potatoes in herb vinaigrette and the bell peppers with basil.  I’m so looking forward to my lunch of left-overs!   

Thank you,

Stephanie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stephanie, thanks for your email!

Glad you enjoyed the prosciutto wrapped tilapia, it’s a great combination!

Background:

Prosciutto is made from either a pig’s or a wild boar’s ham (hind leg or thigh). The process of making prosciutto can take anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the size of the ham. Sliced prosciutto crudo in Italian cuisine is often served as an antipasto, wrapped around grissini, or accompanied with melon. It is also eaten as accompaniment to cooked spring vegetables, such as asparagus or peas. It may be included in a simple pasta sauce made with cream, or a Tuscan dish of tagliatelle and vegetables.

It is used in stuffing for other meats, such as veal, as a wrap around veal, steak, of fish, in a filled bread, or as a pizza topping.

I love prosciutto, but it can be a lot like my four-year-old daughter…having an inherent ability to be absolutely wonderful and completely frustrating at the same time, lol.

First of all, as far as what I would do with those “shreds”…either toss with some scrambled eggs with sauteed mushrooms and wilted baby spinach, or (my favorite) cube some cantaloupe, honeydew, and pears, toss with prosciutto and maybe some arugula, and serve immediately.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Each slice is cut thin enough to be almost translucent. Slices are lain side by side, barely overlapping, on deli paper. Once one sheet is covered with a single layer of ham, another sheet is lain on top and the process repeats until the desired weight of the order is achieved.

The overlapping and thinness are vitally important. The thinness is what gives a good prosciutto its texture, which is silky and unlike any other deli meat. The overlapping is what makes it possible to work with in the kitchen.

As the meat is sliced so thin, the individual slices are exceptionally delicate. When there is too much overlap, the slices will stick together and become difficult to separate without tearing.

Here’s a couple of ways to do it.

Assuming the prosciutto has been refrigerated, zap it in the microwave for 8-10 seconds, then separate the slices. It’s not perfect but it’s easier.

Or, stick the prosciutto in the freezer for about a half hour, it’ll be a lot easier to peel off slices. Also, use a very sharp, thin fillet knife, or boning knife to lift each slice from one end. You’ll have a lot better chance of keeping the slice whole, than if you try picking at it with your fingers.

Much like my daughter…whatever effort is required, doesn’t even compare to the reward.

Enjoy!

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

03/29/12
Cream cheese shrimp dip

Shrimp Dip Stupendousness

Cream cheese shrimp dip.

Nana Dixie makes this amazing appetizer in adessert mold(think plastic bundt cake pan), and it’s a very pretty, and snazzy presentation for for parties, pot-lucks, etc, especially when served with warm flatbread spears.

One thing that I love so much about this dish is that it’s so iconic of my Mother-in-law’s generation.

I can picture her, in her lace kitchen apron, with her perfect Jackie-O hairdo and cat’s-eye reading glasses, setting this dish down in front of a table-full of cigarette smoking, martini sipping guests, while “Mack the Knife” is playing from the turntable in the next room.

It’s just…classy and classic…a lot like Nana!

It’s every bit as good, as well, straight from the mixing bowl, with a stack of Triscuits or cuke rounds (trust me, I know), plus…it’s SO easy to prepare!

This addictive dish is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and Dixie makes sure it’s on the table for me at every holiday meal, thanks Nana!

Nana Dixie’s Shrimp Dip
1 bunch green onion tops, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 lb fresh salad shrimp (or cr)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope Knox gelatine
3/4 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
6 oz softened cream cheese

Warm the mushroom soup, whisk in gelatine and allow to cool. In a separate bowl, or Kitchen-aid mixer, mix the cream cheese and mayo. Add onions, and celery, and mix well.

Combine all, folding in shrimp, and chill at least 6 hours (overnight is better).

*If using a mold, chill the mold with cold water before adding the dip, this will keep it from sticking to the sides. When ready to serve, place a plate (upside down) over the top of the mold, and invert. For a really cool presentation, check this one out!

Sprinkle with finely chopped Italian parsley, or cilantro (this is my addition!)

Serve with crackers, cucumber rounds, or warmed flatbread points.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

03/28/12

Nana’s Green Chili Egg Puff

Green Chile Egg Puff

Okay, so as a follow-up to the last post, I realized that we were talking all about our love of the holy cackleberry, and I never posted a recipe!

A pox upon me!

Here’s one of my all-time favorite egg-wonderful breakfasts…granted, it has to be started the night before, but the ‘fridge really does most of the work…

My mother-in-law, Dixie, served this on Christmas morning, after the presents were opened. She was kind enough to share the original recipe (jotted down before I was born), and gave me the okay to re-share it here.

Easily, the best egg dish I’ve ever had, and it’ll be the traditional Christmas breakfast at our house from now on!

Light, fluffy, savory, ethereal…like eating an egg-flavored angel.

Here it is, exactly as written down…

Nana’s Chile Egg Puff
10 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pint small-curd cottage cheese
1 lb cojack cheese, grated
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 oz can diced green chiles
12-24 hours in advance:
Beat eggs until a very light lemon color, add flour, baking powder, salt, fold in cottage cheese, cheese, & butter. Stir in chiles.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Pour mixture into a well- buttered 9×13 dish. Cover and refrigerate over night.
Preheat oven to 350′ and bake 45 minutes covered. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until center firms.
Note: the center of the dish will remain very “liquidly” until the contents reach a specific heat, and then will firm up very quickly.
Serves 12
PS- If you like a little spice in your life, Tillamook’s Hot Hananero Jack cheese launches this already-awesome dish right into the freakin’ stratosphere!
03/27/12

New clip for hautemealz.com videos!

Okay, so I’m too excited about this not to share…

One thing we’re really looking forward to, here at hautemealz.com, is making our own recipe and technique videos.

Well, we’re almost there!

We’ve just finished the “intro clip” that will precede each video!

Here it is…

 

03/27/12

Orange Chicken & Broccoli Recipe

Hey all, we got a lot of great feedback on this hautemealz.com recipe a few weeks back, so, what the heck…we’ll let everyone get a taste!

High in vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber, broccoli evolved from a wild cabbage plant on the continent of Europe. Indications point to the vegetable’s being known 2,000 years ago.

Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians, and was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants, but it did not become widely known until the 1920s.

A high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Broccoli consumption has also been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease.


Orange Chicken & Broccoli (1a)

4 servings        Total Time: 25 min

  • 4 tsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
  • 3/4 lb skinless/boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 Tbs butter (for rice)

  • Cut chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Cook brown rice according to package directions, using 1 cup chicken broth instead of water.
  • In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, cook 3 minutes. Add the ginger and cook ginger and chicken 2 more minutes, or ‘til chicken is cooked through.
  • Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
  • In the skillet, combine the broccoli and water, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan; cook, covered, until tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet; stir in 1 cup of broth, orange juice, and soy sauce.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in water, and add slowly to pan; cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils and thickens slightly.
  • Peel and section the orange, add to skillet, heat through, and serve over rice.

03/26/12

Frugal Foodie Video Tip: Be your own butcher

Buy whole chickens, or bone-in breasts, and cut them yourself instead of using chicken breasts. Yes, pre-cut chicken breasts are handy and easy to use but, as we all know, they’re are also a LOT more expensive.

When I find whole chickens on sale, or at a good price, I buy several and go home and have a butcher party!

Legs, thighs, and wings get bagged together; breasts get deboned (leave the skin on, if freezing, to help protect the meat, you can toss it after you thaw the breasts for cooking) and bagged, and, lastly, the backs, necks, and scraps get bagged and frozen to make my own broth later. – If you have the time, make your broth now, let it cool, and freeze in dedicated ice-cube trays for easy use in future recipes.

Butchering a chicken, and deboneing chicken breasts are a lot more intimidating than they are actually difficult to do.

Here are two great video clips that will walk you through the process for each!

Continue reading

03/24/12

How to cook fish in parchment paper

For your Parchment Tilapia with Asparagus this week, we’re going to try what, for many of you, might be a brand-new technique…cooking with parchment paper.

This is such a simple process, heart-healthy, and creates a wonderfully delicate steamed fish…plus, it makes clean-up a breeze!

Check out this quick video clip by Chef Paul…I love this guy!

03/24/12

How to trim asparagus

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that’s tasty in just about any form. Steaming, grilling, or pan roasting, it’s important to trim away the woody end of each stalk before you cook. I don’t typically peel my asparagus, but it’s probably not a bad idea, especially with the thicker stuff.

Here’s a short, sweet video to show you how simple it is to prep your stalks for the pot, pan, or grill!