#Breakfast

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Two eggs poached on toasted asiago  bread with tomatoes.  Poaching is a delicate process. First bring a pot of water  to a steady simmer. Try not to use too large a pot for poaching, smaller is better in my experience. Some people add vinegar to that water to help the egg proteins coagulate but i dont. The taste is not for me unless I’m hiding it behind a holindasse sauce. Now, crack a very fresh cold egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Give the pot a stir to create a gentle whirlpool effect and slide the egg into the water. The spinning water will help the egg white wrap itself around the yolk forming a more rounded poached egg.

I’m a big fan of all matters of risky business, salmonella included. So I poach my eggs runny leaving them in the water only two minutes or so. Seriously,  the risk of salmonella is so remote… please.

For this particular breakfast I toasted up a couple of slices or asiago bread. A friend of mine brought it over because she didnt like strong flavor, her loss, my gain. I didn’t butter this either. When topping the toast with the eggs I want the toast to be as absorbant as possible.

To finish this off, I simply washed and sliced up a plumb tomato straight from the garden and gave that a pinch of salt.

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Carolina Cider BBQ Sauce

Its a perfect day for a picnic, and pulled pork sandwiches are a nice addition to the basket of provisions. Well I’ve just put the pork shoulder into the oven overnight to cook. A ten pound shoulder cooking at 225 degrees takes about eight to ten hours. Then, in the morning, comes the resting… then the shredding. The whole house has that bbq scent which is almost as good as the aroma of coffee when getting up in the morning. Now that the heavy lifting is done for the pulled pork picnic main course… its time to reach into the fridge and pull out the secret sauce which I made last night…. let’s keep this secret between us.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Texas Pete’s
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place all of the ingredients in a small, non-reactive sauce pan and bring to a boil. Whisk until the sugar and salt is completely dissolved, remove from heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.

I poured the sauce into a plastic squeeze bottle and let rest in the refrigerator over night before using. I get these squeeze bottles at the party supple store. Make your own labels and put your creative side to use. I use about a quart of the bottle while pulling the pork, then pack the remainder in the picnic basket so friends can add as they choose.

bbq sauce

 

Egg Salad with a Touch

It’s fun looking for new tastes to wake up old standards. A nice summer staple around here is egg salad. A great use for left-over hard boiled eggs. And rather than settle for bland eggs and mayo, let your adventurous side take over. Sometimes it takes over our of curiosity, like when you’re getting bored of the same-old, and sometimes out of necessity, lite when you want to use something that’s been hanging around a while. Well this afternoon both of these conditions conspired to make the following zippy sandwich:

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two large hard boiled eggs
  • Two tablespoons of light mayo
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • Two tea spoons of whole ground mustard
  • Salt and pepper

 

Simplicity itself, peel the eggs and mash them up with your fork. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Toast two slices of pumpernickel bread. Then, place some lettuce on the bread, add some egg salad, pour a glass of iced tea and enjoy. You should be able to get two sandwiches out this.

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Left-over Kasha’s New Life

I made kasha the other day and overestimated its appeal on my urban hipster dinner guests (strictly meat and potatoes crowd). So having made a nice side of kasha to accompany the main course, I found myself with three cups of left overs. So, with the help of a couple of cans of provisions from the pantry, I was able to turn this side dish onto a secondary main course in itself.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Three cups of cooked kasha
  • Two small cans of chicken or one cup of left-over chicken
  • One can of chicken gravy
  • One can of peas
  • One can of corn
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Open those cans! In a large skillet empty the chicken gravy, chicken, peas and corn and heat thoroughly over a low to medium heat. Wait for the mixture to bubble before turning the heat to low. Remember to keep stirring this so it doesn’t settle.

Take the kasha and nuke it in the microwave oven for about three minutes. Transfer it to a nice deep bowl and ladle the chicken and gravy mixture over it.

Serve with a nice deep lager.

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Bread Pudding with Apples

Although we are currently sweltering in the heat and humidity of summer. I’m optimistic that the cooler weather of fall will be here in just a couple months. Aha.. Autumn, fall leaves cool air and crisp apples. I would suppose that this dessert would be wonderful on a crisp Autumn evening. It’s a season that brings about an excess of apples from upstate.

 

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Three cubes of cubed stale bread nice and dry
  • Three tablespoons of apple butter
  • Two Macintosh apples
  • Two tablespoons Fangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
  • Two cups of milk
  • Two eggs
  • One stick of butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

 

Heat the milk on a low flame and melt the stick of butter into in. Once this is done let it cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, brown sugar, liqueur, apple butter and cinnamon. Then slowly add the milk and butter mixture stirring it in. You want to make sure the this mixture is cool enough so that it doesn’t start cooking the egg mixture its being added to. Once all the this is combined add in the bread cubes. Use your fingers to mix this up making sure the bread absorbs all the liquid. Trust me, it’s perfectly acceptable to use your clean hands as kitchen utensils!

 

I grease an eight inch square pan with butter, then pour the bread mixture in and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

 

Once you remove it from the oven, let it cool just a bit and serve warm with whipped cream.

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A Nautical Asian Cream of Mushroom Soup

Rummaging around H-mart (my local Asian market) the other day, I happened upon a nice price on a big bag of dried shiitake mushrooms. As mushrooms go these are practically indestructible and have a strong flavor. They are often considered medicinal in East Asia. I have been hungering for a nice rich bowl of mushroom soup. So, let’s put these guys in a hot liquid to rehydrate them and cook them in some fish stock for a nautical cream of mushroom soup.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

 

  • 4 ounces dried shiitaki mushrooms
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 quarts fish stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley (optional)
  • 2 cups light cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper

 

Combine mushrooms and hot water in a large, heatproof bowl. Let stand 1 hour. With your fingers, work mushrooms to release any grit. Let stand until very pliable, about 1 hour longer. Then, lift the mushrooms from the liquid and cut them into large pieces and set aside. Reserve the bowl of soaking liquid.
 

Dice the two large onions. In a 5- to 6-quart pot, sauté the onions in a little olive oil. When they are translucent add the stock and chopped mushrooms. Pour the reserved soaking liquid into pot, taking care not to disturb grit in bowl. Make sure that stays behind. Then, rinse and drain barley and add to pot, if you’re using it. I tend to like the barley in the soup to give it a bit more body. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender to the bite, about 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, mix the cream, or half and half, with the flour and temper by whisking in a little hot soup. Pour contents of bowl into hot soup, whisking constantly on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. This is where the thickening of the soup occurs. Adjust seasonings and heal t through.

Serve this up in nice deep bowls and serve with crusty bread, like a baguette.

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Jalapeno Breakfast Hash

I was going through the produce section over at Cherry Valley market the other day, and there were these jalapeno peppers that were simply irresistible. They were plump, lustrous, green and at a dollar twenty nine a pound! Well, I couldn’t pass them up. But now… what to do with these treasures? Hmm.. seems I have some left-overs in the fridge that could use a little pepping up…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • two boiled potatoes
  • about eight ounces of left over corned beef
  • one medium onion
  • two jalapeno peppers

Nothing could be simpler. Dice the onion and toss it into a non-stick fry pan on a low to medium heat. Dice the potatoes, the colder they are the easier to dice, and toss them in a bowl with a splash of olive oil. Then add them to the pan. Dice up the corned beef, mince the jalapenos and toss these into the pan. Heat this through thoroughly. Pat the mixture down and let it brown a bit on the bottom before turning it over and repeating the process. Give the potatoes time to brown and then serve this with a poached egg on top.

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Buttermilk Creamy Coleslaw

The summer is right around the corner and the weather is perfect for picnicking. Just in time this perfect summer side dish, this creamy coleslaw chilled in the fridge, conjures up memories of fried chicken by the bucket.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1/4 Cup Diced Carrot
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Onions
  • 8 Cups Finely Diced Cabbage (about 1 Head)

Finely dice cabbage and carrots. Pour cabbage/carrot mix into large bowl and stir in minced onions. Using regular blade on food processor process remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour over vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly. Cover bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

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Pint-Sized Shepherd’s Pie

I got this idea when I was watching Nigella Lawson make these little chicken pot pies. She made them in a pair of medium sized ramekins topping them with Pillsbury grand biscuits. She popped the tin of biscuits and taking one to an floured surface proceeded to roll it out flat and used it to top the pie. Brilliant! I’ve since copied that idea and I’ve found the ‘Pillsbury’ solution to have a set of long legs using it for a couple of different cooking projects where a quick, little bit of dough was needed. But I digress as today’s cooking project focuses not on the dough, but I’m the individual portion piece. Today its Sheppard’s pie in wide stoneware mugs.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

 

  • 1 pound of roast beef diced ( I usually use the ends which i buy at the deli counter at best yet market)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or creamery potatoes
  • 2/3 cup 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter

 

In a large nonstick skillet cook the meat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate. Drain any fat remaining in the skillet.

 

Heat the oil in the skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, covered, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Raise the heat to moderately-high. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and their liquid has evaporated, about 8 more minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a simmer being sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the peas.

 

Pour the mixture into four stoneware mugs.

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. Arrange the potatoes in a steamer basket, and steam for 10 minutes. Are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 15 minutes longer, then with a potato masher until smooth. Heat the butter, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper and stir into the potato mixture.

 

Use these whipped potatoes to top the mugs and cook them in the oven for about twenty minutes. I like to serve these as an accompanying dish with hot corned beef sandwiches.

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Kielbasa and Kraut

I was up in Great Neck the other day. It’s a nice drive north of here and there is a little Polish deli just outside of town. I happen to like this little mom and pop shop for its old world charm, with every nook and cranny filled with imports mostly from Poland and a couple of other Slavic countries. They have a wonderful homemade stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce. But I’ve come up for kielbasa. A nice foot long cured pork sausage smoked to perfection. Cooked in a deep pan of sauerkraut it goes so nicely with home fried potatoes seasoned with Hungarian smoked paprika.


Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 lbs kielbasa
  • 1 lbs sauerkraut (jar or can)
  • 3 or 4 large red potatoes
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • Paprika, salt and pepper


In a small pot bring the potatoes to a boil and cook then just a couple of minutes… Don’t let them get too soft… When you can pierce them neatly with a knife, take then out and let them cool in the fridge.


Open the jar or can of sauerkraut add empty it juice and all into a deep pan. Now, you can cut up the kielbasa not and add it to the kraut or, if you plan allows, cook it whole and slice it later, its completely your call. In either case get the kielbasa in there, cover the pan and simmer this over a low heat.


Cut up the bacon and add it to a fry pan. Dice the onion and toss that in sauté a few minutes over a medium heat. Dice the potato’s and toss them into a bowl. Add a bit of olive oil a couple of tea spoons should do, just to give them a coating to focus heat and help the paprika adhere. Add the paprika, salt and pepper to taste and mix it well to coat the potatoes. Then, toss the mixture in with the onion and bacon. Sauté until the potatoes are nice and tender.


Check the kielbasa, and these should be done at about the same time.


All it takes now is to plate it up and get out to the guest! Serve this with a nice beer. Prost!


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