Parfait! Blender Hollandaise Sauce

There are folk out there who maintain that one should be able to make Hollandaise the traditional way before giving in to the ease and convenience of using one’s blender to cut out all that (let us be totally frank, here) tedious mucking about with double boilers and whisking and such.

I get the sense you are now fully aware of where, exactly, I stand on this issue.

As long as I have a blender and a working socket to plug it into, this is the sauce!

INGREDIENTS
•3 egg yolks
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt (or sea salt)
•1/8 tsp Cayenne
•2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
•1/2 cup unsalted butter

Note 1: this will make about 3/4  cup of perfectly lovely Hollandaise – more than enough to drizzle over a fresh bunch of asparagus or two. If you are cooking for a crowd (Asparagus Eggs Benny, mebbe?), feel free to double or even triple this recipe.

Note 2: this sauce should be made immediately before serving; good thing it takes next to no time to make.

Place the egg yolks, Seasoned Salt, Cayenne, and lemon juice in a blender jar and pulse to mix well.

Melt the butter – in the ‘wave or on top of the stove, it is totally your choice – and, with the blender running, pour the hot, melted butter through the hole in the lid.

Continue to blend until the butter has been absorbed and the Hollandaise has thickened nicely. This should take all of about one to three minutes.

Serve immediately.

Note 3: feel free to add a dash of your favorite hot sauce – this is my long time favorite; I buy it by the case.

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Strawberry Soda Cake

Another Thursday, another cake recipe.

We were visiting family in Canada over Rich’s birthday, so I didn’t have a cake for him (though his cousin had some LOVELY cupcakes from a local bakery), so, when we got home, I decided to put a little sumpin’ sumpin’ festive together for him.

But nothing too involved, we’re having friends over in a week or so for dinner and I’m making his favorite, from scratch, carrot cake for the occasion.

So. A soda cake it was.

No, not baking soda; a bottle of soda, the all sugar, no corn sweeteners kind, if you can get it, and most certainly no diet or “zero” sodas. I opted for Strawberry Fanta to go with a strawberry cake mix.

And that’s it. You need nothing else to make this cake. Well, frosting, but I am including my favorite buttercream, so all’s good there.

INGREDIENTS
Cake:
•1 strawberry cake mix
•12 oz vanilla cream soda

Buttercream Frosting:
•3 cups confectioners’ sugar
•1 cup butter, softened
•1/8 tsp black pepper
•1/8 tsp salt
•1 tsp vanilla
•1 tbsp Amaretto (optional)
•1 to 3 tbsp whipping cream

Topping (Optional):
•Sliced strawberries

Heat your oven according to instructions on the back of the cake mix box, and prepare your chosen cake pan(s) – I went with a 13×9 baking pan and applied a bit of cooking spray to the bottom. If I was making a layer or Bundt cake out of this, I would have combined one tablespoon each of:

•Solid shortening
•Flour
•Cooking Oil

in a bowl until well blended, then brushed this mixture over the pan(s) you are using. Works a treat, and the cakes always come out cleanly.

Add the soda to the cake mix (and nothing else!) in a large bowl, mix according to the instructions on the back of the cake mix box, and transfer the batter to your prepared cake pan(s).

Bake according to the instructions on the back of the cake mix box until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My metal, 13×9 inch pan took about 30 minutes at 350º, but again, follow the instructions from the box.

Nice looking cake, no?

And it smelled very strawberry-ish.

Set the cake aside to cook completely, then prepare your buttercream frosting.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the butter with the black pepper (trust me, it’s a good thing), salt, vanilla, and Amaretto, if you’re using it, until the butter is light and fluffy.

Add the confectioners’ sugar and, starting on low speed (that powder will fly everywhere) blend into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl and increasing the speed as you go, until you have a thick, fluffy frosting.

Whisk in the heavy cream by tablespoonfuls until your frosting is the consistency you like. Note that if you go too far one way (too much cream?) – you can simply stir in additional confectioners’ sugar until you’re happy with the results.

Give it a taste. Nice, right? That hint of black pepper serves to bring out the other flavors.

Frost your cake and, if you have ’em top with fresh strawberries.

My strawberries had been macerated with blueberries in a bit of sugar and Cointreau to be served for breakfast with a lemon curd yogurt sauce, so I went with shiny red sanding sugar.

Nice cake! And popular with Rich, as well as the under 10 set at our semi-weekly lunch gatherings, so, all in all, a hit.

Note: if you cannot find strawberry soda, try cream soda, or, mebbe, lemon lime.

Just no diet, lite, or Zero sodas. Ever.

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Corned Beef Hash

Hash is, at its heart, I think, a dish of leftovers. A bit of meat, some potatoes, mebbe chopped onion, and…  well, whatever you have laying about the fridge that might work for breakfast or breakfast for dinner.

I had some barbecued corned beef on hand, some leftover pan fried potatoes, and a bit of grilled corn kernels sitting around so I thought to myself, why not make hash?

A fave of mine, topped with runny eggs and a bit of hot sauce, what’s not to love?

Note: this recipe is dead simple, but it does use ingredients from several other recipes. I am providing links to each recipe, but feel free to go your own way and use this as a general guide to hash goodness.

INGREDIENTS
•2 tbsp veggie oil
•1 tbsp unsalted butter
•2 cups diced sweet onion
•1/2 cup roasted or grilled corn kernels
•2 tbsp Cowboy Candy or pickled jalapeño slices
•2 cups diced cooked corned beef
•2 cups diced roasted potatoes
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•Black pepper
•1 tbsp Spicy Honey Mustard
•Chopped fresh Parsley
•Eggs

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the corned beef, potatoes, onion, corn, and jalapeños.

Stir in the Sherry Peppers and Cajun Power Sauces, then cook for about ten minutes. Don’t fuss around with the pan too much, you want to build a crust.

Turn the mixture over, then stir in the black pepper and Honey Mustard. Cook for another ten minutes or so, until all sides of your hash have a nice crust to them.

Toss with the fresh parsley, then cover and set on a back burner while you make your eggs – I like mine fried, but with runny yolks.

Yum!

Spoon some of the hash on a plate – mebbe with some buttered, toasted rye toast – and top with a couple of the eggs.

Sprinkle a bit of hot sauce over the top, mebbe add a bit more black pepper; and I think you have the perfect breakfast – or breakfast for dinner – dish.

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Beer ‘n Butter ‘n Brats ‘n STEAK!

So… this is gonna be a kindofa weird post.

It all started with an unseasonably warm spring weekend and some green pepper and Mozzarella sausages Rich picked up at the market. And a couple of nice rib eye steaks.

The only way I cook sausages anymore is in beer, with butter and coarsely chopped sweet onion, quickly follwed (weather permitting) by a nice scorching on the grill. Then… all that beer and butter and onion seemed a shame to waste, so…

INGREDIENTS
Sausages:
•Sausages or brats
•Two cans beer (not light)
•1/4 cup butter*
•1 sweet onion, chopped

Steak Marinade:
•Cooking liquid from the sausages
•2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp Dijon mustard
•Dried shallots
•Dried parsley
•Black pepper

*I used seasoned butter leftover from preparing corn on the cob.

Pierce the sausages in a couple of places with a fork, then place in a sauce pan with the  butter and chopped onion. Add enough beer to cover the sausages – usually two cans is plenty.

Note: if you like, go ahead and add some sliced green and red pepper to the beer.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until they are cooked through.

Heat your grill, then cook the sausages and the onion (and peppers, if using) until nicely charred. Use a bit of the beer mixture to baste, if you like.

Enjoy sour grilled sausages, then, ponder for a minute before just tossing that lovely beer and butter and onion mixture.

Steaks always taste a bit better with butter, and beer? Well, it’s there, after all!

Whisk the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings into the cooled sausage cooking liquid, then pour over the steaks in a gallon sized zipper bag (or a covered container, if doing more than two steaks).

Flip the bag a couple of times to cover the steaks well with the marinade, then stash on a rimmed plate (to catch any drippage) in the fridge for a couple of hours, or – you know what’s coming – always more better – overnight, flipping the bag whenever you think to.

When ready to cook, remove the steaks from the marinade and allow to come to room temperature on the counter for an hour.

Note: if you happen to have a cat on a diet, keep an eye on him, because he will try and snag the steaks.

Prep your grill for direct cooking and medium heat.

Add the steaks and cook for six minutes or so, then flip and cook for another six minutes for medium-rare steaks.

Remove from the grill, loosely cover, and allow to rest for five minutes before serving.

I used that time to make a blender Hollandaise sauce for the asparagus.

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Parfait! Three Pigs Pasta Sauce

My Aunt Buzz had a spaghetti sauce recipe passed down from her mother in law. It was made with spare ribs and was really most excellent. Of course, Aunt Buzz being Aunt Buzz, she wouldn’t share the recipe; so I’ve taken it upon myself in fits and starts to make my own version.

I’ve tried a version with ribs but, Rich is just not all that fond of ribs in pasta sauce – I think I am blending genres a little bit too, too much for his tastes – so I brought out my big boy pan and tried an alternative.

No ribs, but diced Pancetta, Italian sausage, and pork belly; and, I gotta say, I bleive this one is a winner.

Note: as with my Doctored Pasta Sauce, I began with a jar of sauce from the store, and built the sauce up from there. If you have a scratch sauce recipe that you love, by all means use that.

INGREDIENTS
•6 oz cubed Pancetta
•1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
•12 oz cooked pork belly, cubed
•4 cups chopped sweet onion
•1 cup diced celery
•2 tbsp freshly minced garlic
•1/2 cup red vermouth
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
•1 (12 oz) can low sodium veggie juice
•1 tsp sea salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tsp rosemary
•1 tsp oregano
•1 tsp basil
•1 tsp thyme
•1 tbsp sugar
•1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
•1/2 cup sherry
•2 tbsp shredded cheese

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Warm a large pot over medium heat, then add the cubed Pancetta and the Italian sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small bits, until it is cooked through.

Add the cubed pork belly and cook for five minutes, stirring often, until the pork belly is nicely browned and just a bit crispity in places.

Drizzle a little olive oil in the pan and add the onion, celery, and garlic.

Cook, stirring often, for about ten minutes more, until the onion is tender.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 90 minutes or so, until the sauce has been reduced and thickened.

Serve with your fave pasta.

Nice sauce!

Of course, this big pot was a bit much for just the two of us, and I’d cooked an entire pound of pasta as well, so, a couple of evenings later, all those leftovers became Johnny Mazetti Spaghetti; one of my all-time favorite clean up the fridge recipes.

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HoJo’s Spicy Mustard

Here I am, back from vacation – a road trip to Ontario to visit family and attend a cousin’s wedding.

Back in the day, a road trip would’ve involved my dad packing the day before, and all of us piling into the car before dawn to “make time” or “beat the traffic” or some such (no doubt very good) reason.

Said trip would also, more than likely, involve a stop at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant for lunch.

Howard Johnson’s is pretty much history at this point, but, fortunately, and with all thanks to Uncle Phaedrus, consulting detective and finder of lost recipes at hungrybrowser.com, we have the ability to recreated some of HoJo’s faves.

Such as their spicy sweet mustard.

I gotta say, this recipe is almost deceptively simple, and, mebbe because I used Trader Joe’s horseradish-y Dijon mustard, it packs a nice bit of a bite.

INGREDIENTS
•1/4 cup Dijon mustard
•1/4 cup yellow mustard
•1/4 cup Honey
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper*

*This was not part of the original HoJo’s recipe, but I think it adds a nice touch of smoky flavor to stuff, so, I added it.

Place the honey and the mustards in a bowl or beaker and stir to combine. I used my immersion blender.

Give it a taste.

Nice, right?

Transfer to a jar and stir in the Aleppo pepper, if you’re using it, then cover and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

This is my second HoJo’s recipe from Uncle Phaedrus, the first being Thousand Island Dressing and Double Decker Burger Secret Sauce, which was also quite nice.

If I recall correctly, HoJo’s grilled their hot dogs, but this mustard worked a treat on Polish sausages simmered in beer and butter and served on lightly toasted poppy seed rolls. I imagine it would also be very good on your Easter ham, or even a roast beast.

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Vacation Stuff…

So, I KNOW that this is a BIG week for folk visiting food blogs and the like, looking for JUST THE THING for Passover or Easter or what have you.

And, I have been on vacation. My husband and I have been in Ontario, visiting family and attending our cousin’s wedding.

She was born and raised in Ontario, he was born and raised in the UK, they met in Japan, fell in love, and are kinda sweet and totally perfect for each other.

The wedding was in Niagara On The Lake – and if you haven’t checked it out, you should. There are also some pretty spectacular wineries in the region – we went to three or four tastings and came back with a bit over two cases of wine – AFTER we shared in the good stuff with local family and friends. Fortunately, we had been in the country for a bit over a week, and customs did not seem too concerned about the assorted, lovely wines we were bringing home. I also stocked up on Birch Syrup, Italian coffee, and other wonderful things; all while sharing in a happy family occasion.

Sounds like a kindofa winner vacation for me. Regular posts will start up, soon-ish.

 

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Feast!

We’re visiting relatives north o’ the border for the week for a wedding, and while we are being hosted, we have also received some wicked cool gifts!

Tours through several lovely Niagara area wineries -and we have the cases of wine to prove it!

And then, this pretty neat Road Trip and Food Book. Feast by Lyndsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller; two friends who travel across Canada, meeting interesting folk, eating wonderful food, and taking fantastic pictures! Travelogue, photo album, and cookbook all in one, how can you lose?

The only problem? I am now on a search to find Birch Syrup!

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Fruit Salad With Lemon Curd Yogurt Sauce

SO, yes, I’ve done versions of this macerated fruit salad before, with Limoncello, and another version with Cointreau in place of the Limoncello.

And all with that tasty lemon curd yogurt and honey sauce.

This time, I was going to a gathering with rather a lot of kids in attendance, so, I doubled the amount of fruit, and sauce, but replaced the alcohol from the maceration with orange juice.

Worked a treat, and everybody seemed pretty well pleased.

INGREDIENTS
Sauce:
•2, 7 oz plain Greek yogurt
•1 jar (11 oz or so) lemon curd
•2 tbsp honey
•1/2 tsp vanilla

Berries:
•12 cups mixed berries*
•3/4 cup sugar
•1/4 cup fresh orange juice

*I used two pounds strawberries, and 12 ounces each blueberries and blackberries.

Place the lemon  curd, yogurt, and vanilla in a mixing bowl, then drizzle in the honey.

Stir together until nicely blended, then stash in a covered container in the fridge until needed.

Toss the berries together in a large bowl to mix, then pull out two cups or so of the berries and place in another bowl with the sugar.

Note: this was the first time I made this version of this salad; next time, I will cut the sugar in half. It was good and all, but there’s enough sugar in the OJ, right?

Grab your trusty potato masher (it’s for so much more than potatoes) and mash the berries together with the sugar and juice until the sugar has dissolved and the berries are nicely smooshed.

Stir the smashed berries and juices back in with the other berries in the large bowl and toss well to combine.

Let sit at room temperature, tossing when you think to, for two hours or so, until all of the berries are juicy.

Nice salad; and with the lemon curd yogurt sauce on top?

Most excellent!

For another nice twist, consider lining a tart shell with the lemon curd yogurt sauce, then arranging the fruit over the top; or, mebbe think about spooning the fruit over biscuits or shortcake shells, then spooning the sauce over the top.

Or, you could always skip the sugar, and mash the berries with 1/4 cup Limoncello or Cointreau.

It should be all good!

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Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños)

So, yeh, I know that I’ve posted this recipe before – in December, just in time for holiday gifts giving – but now, sadly, that supply of this tasty comestible is gone, and more is needed.

Also, we’re on the road this week, so I will be posting what I can.

But, back to the candy!

First, this is sweet, but it is also hot, so watch out for the afterburn…

That said, you’re not feeling so adventuresome for heat? Remove some (or all of the seeds) from the jalapeños when you are slicing them.

Note: wear kitchen gloves when working with any hot peppers.

INGREDIENTS
•3 lbs jalapenos, fresh and firm – about 10 cups of sliced jalapeño
•2 cups cider vinegar
•6 cups granulated sugar
•1/2 tsp turmeric
•1/2 tsp celery seed
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•3 tsp granulated garlic
•1 tsp Cayenne pepper

Again, remembering to put on kitchen gloves, then remove the stems from the jalapeños.

Slice the jalapeños. Again, if you don’t want so much heat in your cowboy candy, cut your jalapeños in half lengthwise, then scrape out the membranes and seeds before slicing them. Transfer to a bowl.

Stir the vinegar, sugar, and spices together in a large pot.

Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture comes to a full boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, still stirring often, then stir in the jalapeños and cook for four minutes.

Transfer the jalapeños, using a slotted spoon and a wide-mouth funnel, to prepared canning jars – I use half pints – to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

Note: to sterilize your jars and lids, arrange them on a rack in a baking pan in a hot 225º oven for 20 minutes. Heat for 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the jars and lids in the oven until needed.

Increase the heat under the sugar liquid and boil hard for six minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat and ladle over the peppers in the jars.

For this batch, I got ten half pints of peppers and two half pints of leftover Cowboy Candy Juice.

Note: save the juice! After you’ve enjoyed your Cowboy Candy, the juice is really nice to add to potato, tuna, chicken, or egg salads; and consider brushing a bit over chicken, steaks, or chops on the grill.

One last note: the Cowboy Candy flavor will improve if allowed to rest for two to four weeks before opening, but, it is really pretty darned tasty right away.

Enjoy!

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