Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chicken Bog

We  spent the weekend in Atlanta, to watch the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves  and cross off another major league stadium on my list. I have been pursuing this goal for about  7 years.  It's actually a  great way to see bits of the country that one might not ordinarily visit.  My husband and I have  been to Milwaukee (where the stadium looks like a spaceship direct from Uggla Minor getting ready to disgorge its fearsome burden of two-headed, slimy creatures.), Kansas City, where we watched a nine year old girl yell herself hoarse encouraging her hero, David DeJesus, and Seattle, where the team fired the manager the week after we were there.
Our visits always follow a pattern, baseball for me, historic homes and art museums for my husband.. Also dinner. This weekend was no exception. We got to Atlanta about 12 on Saturday, drove out to Buckhead, the famous uppercrust neighborhood that proves that some people with money have taste, even if the ones in the Washington suburbs don't. We visited the Atlanta History Center, ate lunch with the hatted ladies of  Buckhead, went through a  historic house that  was built  by an Atlanta captain of industry in the 1920s, and got to the game.  On Sunday, we had Sunday Night Supper at  JCT's, a stylishly spare eatery in West Atlanta, where we ate amazing southern food. I had fried chicken. Bob had pork loin, and we shared  ethereal grits in a cheese sauce, blackeyed peas, and wood roasted vegetables. It  gave me a new appreciation for what some would term greasy, overcooked food.
It all gave me a  desire to move on with the cookbook. It is not too easy to fit this food into the diet that I have  put together for myself. It's supposed to be an anti-inflamatory diet, based on chicken, fish, and green vegetables. I am supposed to avoid red meat, dairy products, potatoes ,tomatoes, wheat, sugar, and citrus fruits. I'm following this with mixed success. As long as school is in session, the chances of avoiding dairy products in the form of triple grande lattes are about nil. I don't eat cheese. I have cut out bread, pasta and baked goods.  I don't eat many potatoes and so far, I have cut out tomatoes as well, although when the fresh ones start showing up in the  markets, it will  be hard.
But between  my diet,  and  what my husband won't or can't eat, I feel like I'm walking a culinary fine line here. So anyway, chicken  bog was a  good choice because I can  eat  it  with out fudging. Bog seems to be a reference to the swampy consistancy of the rice. In order for this dish to achieve the status of t he most wonderful southern food ever cooked, it will need some tinkering.  As written the  recipe is somewhat bland. I would s uggest the  following :  Use packaged chicken broth, or  your own cooked for hours chicken broth. If  you boil a chicken in some water for an hour, what you get is very watery broth. The recipe does not call for seasoning, except for  salt and  pepper. I put in thyme   Do what  you will in this area.  You might try mixing in a little white wine with the broth. Use more broth than the recipe calls for and it w ill be more  boggy. It's kind of  like risotto with less work.                                                                                  

Chicken   Bog

1  f ive pound  to six pound hen, cut into small serving  pieces       
Chicken broth
4 cups uncooked rice 
2 tablespoons  salt 
 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper       
1/2 cup butter

1  .Place the hen pieces in a deep casserole and add water to cover. Bring to a  boil , cover  and simmer until tender,  about one hour.    
2. Reserve the chicken and measure the  broth in the casserole. Add enough  broth to make eight cups.  
3. Bring to a boil and add the rice , salt, pepper and  butter. Cook, covered, very slowl y  until rice is  te nder, about 45 minutes.stirring twice  during cooking.
4.    Add  reserved chicken and reheat.    
Makes one dozen to 14 servings.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Assorted Greens

Greens are good, she said in surprise. I had always turned up my Northern nose at them, but, hell, nearly anything is good if you boil it long enough with salt pork. I didn't say it was good for you, but it is tasty. I used mustard greens. They  are peppery, and if you  boil them with half a pound of salt pork, you wind up with an extremely salty concoction. The pork gives sort of an unctuous goodness to  the greens. They are easy to make too.    You just wash them off, and stick them  in a pot with a minced onion and half a       pound of diced salt pork, "and boil one and one half hours, until tender."  I think possibly in the days these recipes were concocted,  greens were tougher than they are now. Check your greens after half an hour of  boiling, and see  if they are tender. Maybe give them 45 minutes to an hour. The greens were on the menu at the  birthday party, an oddly assorted set of dishes,  but it seemed to work.
According to various websites who may or may not be correct, mustard greens are very high in vitamin A, and possibly have cancer fighting properties. I make no  judgment about these sites. If you  are concerned about these things, do  your own research.                    

 Assorted Greens  

4 pounds collard, turnip or mustard greens
1/2 pound salt pork
4 cups cold water
pinch of crushed red pepper
salt to taste (leave it out, you'll be glad you did.)
1 onion, minced

1. Remove large stems from greens and wash greens thoroughly.
2. Put all ingredients in a large pot and boil one to one and one-half hours, or until tender.
3, Drain greens and chop them rather fine. Serve with salt port, sliced. Serves 8.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               .                       

Steamboat Rice

 Steamboat Rice, as you can probably imagine, is not from New England, a place  notably lacking in steamboats. We ate it to accompany the Live Broiled Maine Lobster at my brother's birthday. It hails from that great rice growing state, Louisiana. The rice received more favorable reviews than the lobster did. It was a tasty melange of tomato sauce, rice, ham,  green pepper and other vegetables.
 It seemed to go well with the lobster,  but also would go well with chicken, pork or  beef .
All the chopping took more time than I figured it would. I knew I was running late, and didn't take time to measure.I just chopped and threw vegetables into the pot.  We couldn't remember what time we had invited the  YMs for, whether it was 7:00 or 7:30. At  6:50, I finally turned down the gas under the rice, told my husband to take a sniff of it every so often to make sure it wasn't burning, and went upstairs to take a shower. When I came down,  the rice was emitting a lovely smell from the vegetables.      

  Steamboat Rice

2 tablespoons oil
2 c ups finely chopped onions
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 green pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cups cubed, cooked ham
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4  cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions, including green part
1/4 teaspoon thyme
 1 bay leaf
freshly ground  back pepper to taste
2 cups  homemade or canned tomato sauce
2 cups fresh or canned chicken  broth
2 cups  uncooked rice

1. Heat the oil ad cook the onions and the garlic in it until onions are wilted. Add the green pepper and ham and cook, stirring, three minutes longer. Add the parsley, celery, scallions, thyme,  bay leaf, pepper and tomato sauce. Stir , cover and simmer ten minutes.
2. Remove the cover and add the  broth. Bring to a boil; then stir in the rice. Cover and simmer twenty to thirty minutes , or until rice is tender. Remove cover and simmer ten minutes lover. Serve piping hot. Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Broiled Live Maine Lobster

This recipe seems rather bloodthirsty and cruel. At least the title does. Fear not, animal rights people. One does not actually broil them alive. However, I fear the lobster business would not pass muster with PETA. With most foods, nowadays, the cook does not actually have to slay the dinner before sticking it into the oven. Lobsters? No clean hands here. You got to kill 'em yourself.
Lobsters die rather dramatically. They arch their backs and all their little feelers wave at you. This time, I got my son to do it with an ice pick.
 We had the lobsters for my brother George's birthday on Saturday night. He said he liked lobster, and son and daughter-in-law had specifically requested more lobster. So, with six lobster recipes to get through, including lobster Thermidor and lobster soup, I went off to see if I could find a cheaper source of lobsters than the Fishery. My husband suggested the River Falls Market in Potomac.  I stop in Potomac every Saturday after my riding lesson, so it was no trouble to check this place out. While it had a stunning array of salads, fish, fancy meat  and lobsters, the lobsters were actually more expensive than the Fishery. When I heard they were $20 a pound and the fish man told me he had no small lobsters, I took a pass.
The Fishery's lobsters, when I investigated after lunch, were actually a bargain at $12.99 a pound. They did turn out to cost $95 but hey, who's counting? I toted them home and handed them to my husband to put in the refrigerator. (Lobster newbies, that's how you keep the things fresh. You just put them in the refrigerator, and they live quite happily until dinner time. You DON'T put them in a giant bucket of fresh water.)
My husband left them on the counter until I got home from the supermarket an hour later, but they were still alive at dinner time which is what  counts.              
We carried the table f rom the addition out to the terrace and set  it up.  It  looked very classy, like something out of a shelter rag. 
Unfortunately, the appetite for lobster was somewhat reduced among the guests. My son had gone to  brunch in the morning and                                                                                                                                                                                                           found it an exhausting experience. Daughter-in-law had gone to see her sister-in-law, laid up after knee surgery, and wasn't too interested in the lobster either. George seemed to like his, and I ate mine. I got more compliments on the rice than on the lobster.  I was somewhat privately outraged, since three weeks ago, he had requested  more lobster. 
One thing about broiling lobster. Don't put it too close to the flame. The shell turns black and brittle. Also, I'm not squeamish, but lobster guts are some thing I can do without.     

Broiled Live Maine Lobster

1  two-pound to two-and-one half pound lobster (this is kind of large) 
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
 salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
 1/4 cup melted butter                                                                                                           
1. Plunge a knife into the thorax or center of lobster betwee n the head and tail to kill the lo bster.   Cut the entire length of lobster  from between the eyes to the end of the tail. 
2.  Remove the tomalley or liver and mix with the cracker crumbs, salt, pepper and  butter. 3.Broil lob ster, shell side up, six  minutes. Turn, spreadw ith the cracker mixture and broil six minutes on flesh side.  One serving.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cole Slaw with Capers

One of the many cole slaw recipes in the cookbook, this one from South Carolina. In fact, there are six recipes for cole slaw and four recipes for just plain slaw, and probably a bunch more for cabbage salad. In fact, you could have an all-cole slaw banquet. (One time, when I was talking about the theme for the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner, my husband announced that the theme would be cabbage. For some reason, this sent me off into fits of laughter, and still provokes a chuckle.)
While we are on the subject, did you know that cole slaw dates from the 18th century, and is an Anglicasation of the word koolsla, or kool salade,  meaning cabbage salad.  It was eaten at the end of the month. Koolsla, from Ireland, of all places, was made of leftover vegetables and cream. You learn the darnest things from Wikkipedia.
 Anyhow, we ate this back in April along with the broiled salmon steaks. Blogspot has changed its format. (Who the hell asked it to, anyhow?) One can no longer keep one's posting at the date that one put in the title of the post. Although it might be possible to put in  more than one picture per posting. Which would be a benefit, if I could remember to take pictures as I work.
This is a coleslaw recipe. It's perfectly fine. I can't tell you anything particular about it. The diners ate it, but did not enthuse madly about it. neither did they spit it out in disgust. It being late April at the time, there were no fresh herbs to be had. I used dried, but fresh would have been better. Here it is.

Cole Slaw with Capers

1 small head green cabbage
1/2 small onion
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil, thyme, tarragon, marjoram or other fresh herb
2 tablespoons capers
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1. Peel off the tough outer leaves of the cabbage and pare away the core. Slice the cabbage in half and shred it finely with a sharp knife. There should be about four cups.
2. Place the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Grate enough onion to make one or two teaspoonfuls and add to the cabbage. Add the remaining ingredients, using just enough mayonnaise to bine well. Toss and chill. Makes four to six servings.

Broiled Salmon Steaks

 Moving up into Oregon here. The New England section  is now all shellfish, except for spaghetti and smelt, and as far as I can figure out, smelt are not to be found in the Washington area. A guy at Big Y in Great Barrington told me they got them at Thanksgiving. I made inquiries at the Fishery at that time and was told "no hay." (This is Spanish for "ain't got no..." ) So, you will be seeing recipes from other parts of the union as I continue to chip away at the cookbook.
 I made these at the same time I made Steve's Grandmother's Cheescake (located in the directory as Cheesecake with Beer). My brother George came to dinner and we chowed down. Now, this seems like an excellent recipe and may well be. However, we diners made the mistake of smothering the salmon steaks with homemade tartar sauce, so the flavor of the marinade did not make itself apparent. But, how can you go wrong with these ingredients?

Broiled Salmon Steaks

1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
4 salmon steaks (two pounds)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. In a saucepan, combine the lemon juice, butter, onion, salt, pepper, brown sugar and mustard. Bring to a boil.
2. Place the salmon steaks in a shallow baking dish. Pour half the lemon juice mixture over all. Broil in preheated broiler about fifteen minutes, basting frequently with remaining lemon juice mixture, until fish flakes easily. Sprinkle with the parsley.  Serves 4.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cheesecake with Beer

This may be the most successful cheesecake recipe ever made. I was on a recipe roll, as stated, and decided to make cheesecake with beer. The beer gives the cheesecake a vague lemon flavor. A couple of things about cheesecake. It's time consuming. It's really time consuming. Do not attempt to make it in the afternoon of your dinner party because it will tie up your oven when you most need it.
This is basically what happened to me. I didn't start to make the cheesecake until around 2:00. It requires a lot of mixing. "Beat until the mixture is smooth and satiny." the recipe says. Then,  you have to bake it for an hour and a half. Then, you have to let it sit, in the oven, with the door slightly open, for another thirty minutes. All told, you are looking at a three hour dessert.
But it's worth it. Daughter helped me make it. She mashed the graham cracker crumbs under the rolling pin. and helped separate the eggs. She dubbed this recipe cholesterol cake, which is true, but it's really good. All you have to do is ask Steve, who, according to his wife, Delilah, is a cheesecake expert from way back.

We had leftovers, quite substantial leftovers, which I did not want to leave lying around the house to be consumed by me. I'm not supposed to eat wheat, which is contained in graham crackers, or dairy, which is contained in cream cheese, cream and butter, as well as cheddar cheese. I suppose I could have a beer.
So, I took the leftovers to work and left them in the teachers' lounge refrigerator. Delilah was the first person I encountered, so I told her about the cheesecake. She got a piece, ate it on the spot, and said she was going to take it all. I didn't care who ate it, as long as I didn't, so that was fine with me. The next morning, and several mornings thereafter, over the copying machine, Delilah reported Steve's transports on the subject of my cheesecake, It reminded him of his grandmother's cheesecake.
"It's so creamy," she enthused in her Latin American accent. "He said, 'Don't tell me it's all gone!'"
So, anyway, here it is. We could call it Steve's Grandmother's Cheesecake.

Cheesecake with Beer

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 eight ounce packages cream cheese
1/2 cup freshly graded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup beer
1/2 cup pinaeapple preserves if desired or three to four cups fruit glaze

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Mix the cracker crumbs with the butter. Press the mixture over the bottom and around the sides of a buttered nine-inch springform pan.
3. Beat the cream cheese until soft and cream and gradually. Add the cheedar cheese and gradually beat in the sugar.
4. add the vanila. Beat in the eggs and egg yoks one at a time. Continuee to beat until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Fold in the cream and the beer.
5. Spoon the pineapple preserves, if used, over the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour in the cheese mixture. Bake about one and one-half hours or until set.
6. Turn off the oven heat and allow the cheesecake to remain  thirty minutes in the oven with the door ajar.
7. Cool cake on a rack. Chill thoroughtly before serving. If the pineapple preserves were not used, the cake may be topped with a fruit glaze.
Serves eight.