Thursday, July 28, 2011

Churning Fresh Homemade Butter



When I was 6 years old my family moved to Billings Montana from Albuquerque NM. I distinctly remember the air being heavy compared to the arid climate of the dessert as well as the huge willow tree in the back yard.  However, one particular day stands out in my memory, I suppose because food was involved. This is what the memory looks like in my minds eye to this day.

As we drove to church in our 4 door Rambler, I remember thinking how beautiful it was to see all the crocus and new spring flowers popping their heads out of the ground for all to see.  The grass was a deep green and I could smell a mixture of fresh cut lawn and sweet flowers mingled together.  The day was warm and filled with sunshine and my mood was very high.

My Sunday school room was filled with windows allowing the morning sun to pour in, making the space warm and inviting .  As we all filed into class and found our way to a big rug in the middle of the floor, our teacher reminded us to "sit crisscross like applesauce" and keep our paws in our own laps.  I'm not sure what crisscross has to do with applesauce but we all followed her direction dutifully.  She began to say the morning prayer and in that quite moment I could hear the faint sounds of birds chirping, coming from a box on her desk. I was not the only one who heard the sounds.  All of the children began to peek at each other while the teacher continued her prayer.  Whispers and giggles ensued and her prayer was interrupted.   Our teacher scolded us and motioned to bow our heads with a stern glance.  It seemed like an eternity before she was done with the prayer. 

As soon as the teacher uttered the words "Amen" we all scrambled up to see what was in the box.  Our teacher motioned us to sit back down and began to ever so gently, remove the box from her desk and placed right it in the middle of the rug.  As she opened the box we could hear the sounds grow louder and finally see wait waited there.  Ten little yellow chicks peeped and scattered around the bottom of the box. Cheers of excitement were heard from all around the room mixed with requests "may I hold one please?"  The teacher gently took the chicks out of the box one by one and placed one in each of our laps.  You'd have thought we'd all been raptured by the joy streaming from that classroom. 

We held our peeping charges gently while the teacher spoke of new birth and Jesus Christ dying on the cross to give His life for our sin, and being reborn to live in heaven with His Father. It was a beautiful moment, how then could it get even better?  Snack time!!   We were all a little disappointed when the chicks had to go back into their box but our teacher had another surprise awaiting.  

In a small paper bag that rested next to the box of chicks were three empty canning jars. Our teacher proceeded to fill each one with some fresh cream from a cow named Molly.  As it turned out, the teacher lived on a farm and that is how she came by the new born chicks and Molly's milk.  We were rapt!  As she poured the milk she began telling us the story about how she milked Molly that morning and how Molly's milk would be changed into something new, just like Jesus Christ when he rose from the dead.  All we needed to do was shake the jars until the milk turned into butter. "Are you kidding me?"  I thought to myself, "Butter comes from milk?" At the time I didn't quite grasp the idea of  how Jesus Resurrection and butter had anything in common but now I see clearly, what she so brilliantly was trying to portray.  





We all took turns shaking the jars.  Miraculously, the milk began to solidify and eventually we had butter.  The teacher spread the creamy butter onto saltine crackers as we waited. We hung on every word she spoke, totally in awe!  Before we could eat our freshly churned butter we said a prayer of thanks to Jesus for the chicks, Molly the cow, milk, our moms and dads, sisters and brothers, our dogs and cats, the beautiful day and finally for our teacher who so graciously taught us that day.

My first bite was sweet and smooth, blended with a hint of salt form the cracker.  Heavenly!  The other children began to disperse to play with toys while waiting for parents to come collect them, I on the other hand, was attached to the teachers hip asking for another cracker with butter...five times!  I couldn't get enough. Finally, she shooed me away to play with my friends.  I didn't go quietly!  I fianlly let loose as my parents arrived and bounced out of the classroom telling them the story of my incredible experience in class that day!

I wish I remembered the teachers name so I could thank her for the joy she gave to me and 9 other children, one day so long ago. I will however, remember that day like it was yesterday. 



Using fresh cream to make butter is the absolute best but if you can't find a "Molly" the cow a store bought heavy cream will do. Just look for the highest quality brand you can find.

Simply, pour the heavy cream into a clear canning jar with a tight fitting lid, about half way full then begin to shake.  Leaving space in the jar allows the butter to "concuss" against the walls of the jar and allows the churning to progress.   Making butter is a terric work our for your arms and depending on the tempurature and quailty of the cream it could take about 15 to 30  minutes to solidfy.  If you have children this is a wonderful project to keep them busy while your making dinner or you can cheat and use a hand mixer. 

When the cream begins to stick to the jar add a pinch of sea salt.  As the butter begins to solidfy you'll notice the seperation of buttermilk from the butter. Remove butter from the jar and place in an airtight container.  The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can also keep the buttermilk in the refrigerator up to one week to lend it's buttery flavor to your baking projects.

To make cultured butter:  Following the same instructions as above using the highest quality cream you can find, allow it to rest in container at room temprature for 12 hours or until the cream is about 75 degrees Fahrenheit and smells slightly sour.  Culturing or ripening the cream gives the butter a deeper flavor as well as aids in digestion due to the living cultures.  Shake to churn into butter, again following the directions above.




Add a few fresh herbs to the butter to make compound butters for grilling and cooking. 

I added fresh thyme to my butter and spread it on crostini, served it with creamy corn chowder and a wilted bacon lettuce salad...it was as delicious as I'd remembered.    To make your own memories try this method for churning your own butter. It's well worth the effort






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Monday, July 25, 2011

RWOP Perfect Party Appetizers-Paula Deen Cookbook Challenge




Another RWOP & Paula Deen Challenge is upon us so look out world, I'm pulling out all the stops.  This is a long one so you might want to check out the pictures first then you can go back and read the recipes. :)

This weeks challenge:  Perfect Party Appetizers
Here are the details...


Each recipe winner will receive $500 - RWOP will announce a winner per day starting a few weeks after the contest begins!
Along with $500, the winners have the opportunity to see their name and recipe in the Real Women of Philadelphia Season Two Cookbook!
All the themes are a surprise - you'll find out a new theme every Friday for the following week! We're throwing PHILADELPHIA Cooking Creme into the mix too, depending on the week, so keep an eye out!
A photograph is MANDATORY this year and you MUST have a package or tub of PHILLY in your photograph
A description of your recipe is also MANDATORY.
If you haven't already joined the RWOP community stop by and register. 


My recipes and photos for the contest are:

Andouille, Pear and Tomato Basil Wontons with Sesame Oil and Hoisin Vinaigrette
Filling

The smoky flavor of Andouilli sausage and pillowy texture of Kraft’s Tomato & Basil cream cheese takes this recipe from the realm of conventional into decadent. Packed with layers of flavor and texture, the sweet d’Anjou pears and bright flavored scallions make this recipe simply sublime Often times, I'll be standing in front of my refrigerator, trying to find inspiration for new recipes. I always have a collection of Philadelphia Cream Cheeses on hand so the creamy base to any recipe is just a reach away. By adding fresh or frozen ingredients, I can create chef inspired dishes any day.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Servings: 20
  • 8 ounce(s) of Sundried Tomato Basil, Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
  • 1 d'Anjou pear diced
  • 1 cup(s) of chopped Andouille Sausage
  • 1 bunch scallions, green part only
  • 14 ounce(s) of package wonton skins
  • 1/2 cup(s) of Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup(s) of sesame oil
Steps
  1. In a medium mixing bowl cream together, 1-8 ounce tub Sundried Tomato & Basil Cream Cheese with diced pear, chopped Andouille Sausage and scallions, salt and pepper to taste
  2. Place 1 teaspoon filling onto wonton skin, wet edges with a small amount of water, place another wonton skin on top of the filling
  3. press wontons around filling to create tight seal
  4. Place small cookie cutter over wonton and filling and press to cut into square shape, continue process until all filling is gone
  5. pour 4 cups vegetable oil into a heavy deep pan, heat on medium high to 400 degrees
  6. fry wontons in small batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes, remove with a large slotted spoon and drain on paper towel
  7. in a small mixing bowl whisk together Hoisin sauce and rice wine vinegar
  8. to serve individual appetizers, drizzle decorative plate with a few drops of Hoisin Vinaigrette
  9. place 2 or 3 wontons onto plate and drizzle with sesame oil and more vinaigrette
  10. draw toothpick through oil and vinaigrette to create decorative swirls
  11. optional serving ideas: place cooked wontons onto large decorative platter or bowl and serve sauce and oil on the side




Sundried Tomato Basil Pinwheels

I look forward to moments in life that are indescribable but that I still yearn to share. Like the moment every summer when I bury my face in a fresh bunch of basil leaves. The scent fills up my nostrils with its sweet earthiness and fills my soul with contentment; now that's inspiration. This summer, fresh basil has been my inspiration for a myriad of new dishes. The herby bite of fresh basil leaves combined with the sweet and tart richness of sundried tomatoes marries so well with Philly’s original flavor cream cheese. The perfect party bite for your guests.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

  • Servings: 24
  • 8 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese Original Flavor
  • 15 ounce(s) of large Jalapeno or Spinach flavor flour tortillas
  • 2 cup(s) of sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil leaves
       
Steps
  1. Evenly spread 2-3 ounces of cream cheese onto flour tortillas, as close to the edges as possible
  2. place even layer of basil leaves over cheese
  3. squeeze excess oil from sundried tomatoes and sprinkle 1/2 cup tomatoes over basil leaves, per tortilla
  4. roll tortillas tightly into long cigar shape
  5. cover tightly with plastic wrap
  6. refrigerate for 30 minutes
  7. remove pinwheels from refrigerator and plastic wrap
  8. slice into round disks about 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  9. arrange on decorative platter and serve
Last but not least...Crab Crisps



Finding inspiration for new recipes is as easy as a daydream for me. I just let my wander and a new creation awaits me at the end. Let me take you there; envision the grandeur of the Maryland coast line and the plentiful bounty of her seas. Now then, wrap your mind around the flavors of fresh lump crab meat, blended with a light and creamy dressing, resting on a crispy corn tortilla...hungry yet? This is the Perfect Party Appetizer to impress your guests. Crab Crisps will take your mouth on a delicious vacation to the coast.     


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 36
  • 16 ounce(s) of lump crab meat
  • 4 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup(s) of real mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. of Country style Dijon mustard
  • 2 finely diced green onion
  • 1/4 cup(s) of finely diced red bell pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 pinch of salt
Steps
  1. add crab meat to medium mixing bowl
  2. pick through meat and discard any shells
  3. in a small mixing bowl combine, cream cheese, mustard, mayonnaise and juice from 1/2 lemon
  4. blend mixture with electric mixer for 1 minute
  5. finely dice peppers and onions and stir into mixture
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. pour cheese mixture into crab meat and gently combine
  8. cover and refrigeration till ready to use
  9. using a small cookie cutter, cut 4 squares or rounds out from each tortilla making 36 squares
  10. heat 4 cups oil in a heavy pan on stove top to 350-400 degrees
  11. fry tortilla squares until crisp, 1-2 minutes
  12. drain tortillas on paper towel and sprinkle with salt
  13. dollop 1 teaspoon of crab mixture onto each tortilla
  14. garnish with finely diced lemon zest and red bell peppers
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fish Tacos with Ancho Chili Batter and Mojitos




All it takes is a momentary thought of crispy fried fish nestled up against a soft corn tortilla, jammed pack with shredded cabbage, cilantro, sour cream lime dressing and I'm drooling like Pavlov's dogs.   I'm a Fish Taco addict and not ashamed to say it!


Last night I was inspired to make a Ancho Chili batter for my tacos to go along with a pitcher of Mojitos.   The flavorful crunch really hit the spot on a 89 degree evening and the Mojitos weren't so bad either!


Ancho Chili Batter
1-1/2 cups flour
1 heaping teaspoon Ancho Chili powder
approximately 2 cups soda water 1/2 cup at a time to achieve the desired consistency.

1-1/2 pounds fish fillets; cod, sea bass or any other firm white meat fish.

When mixing the flour and soda for the batter I make the consistency a little thinner than pancake batter.    Rinse the fish in cold water then dry the fish with a paper towel. Cut fish into strips and season each strip with a little salt and pepper, dredge the fish strips in constarch or flour prior to dipping in batter, coat with batter, letting excess run off, place in hot oil, fry until golden brown, 4-6 minutes.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towel.


Sour Cream Lime Dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
juice 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste


1 package corn tortillas warmed on a dry skillet


Serve Fish Tacos with shredded cabbage, sour cream lime dressing, diced fresh or pickled jalapenos, lime wedges and fresh sprigs of cilantro.  The ancho chili powder added a subtle smoky flavor to the tacos...yum!








Mojitos
1 large bunch mint leaves
4-6 ounces Patron or Anejo tequila
3 limes juiced
2-4 tablespoons Agave Nectar or simple syrup
1-16 ounce club soda or tonic water 


Muddle mint leaves in bottom of pitcher with Agave Nectar. 


Muddling the mint leaves is just a cooking expression for smashing them to release the oils. You can purchase a Muddling tool from your local cooking store. It’s basically a wooden stick with a round knob on the end; I just use a wooden spoon. 


Add ice to fill pitcher 3/4 full, cut limes into wedges and add lime juice and used peels to pitcher, reserve a few slices for garnish, add 4-6 ounces of tequila, or more if you like, fill pitcher with soda, stir and serve highball glasses. Adjust the flavors to your taste by adding more lime juice, Agave Nectar or tequila. 


Mojito Shots
To serve a powerful little Mojito Shot, muddle mint in cocktail shaker following above directions, add ice to drink shaker, omit the soda, shake and pour into shot glasses.





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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mango Teriyaki Salmon with Mango Ginger Salsa and Lemon Saffron Rice





Mango Teriyaki Salmon with Mango Ginger Salsa and Lemon Saffron Rice

I cook with Asian ingredients on a regular basis so my pantry is always stocked with the essentials; fresh ginger, Hoisen Sauce, Premium Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar and Fish Sauce, just to name a few.  Armed with my arsenal of Asain ingredients I added a fresh caught Atlantic Salmon fillet and a few mango's to create this tasty meal. On a side note; I'm living in a rental property for the first time in 30 years and my oven hasn't worked for over two weeks, so it goes without saying, my grill has recently seen a great deal of action.  I suppose, it's not half bad not having a functional oven when there's a grill near by however, I'm just about on my last nerve waiting for it to be repaired or replaced.  The technician is scheduled today for a second round of repair, so the fate of my oven will be decided in a few hours. 

Hope was not lost in the face of oven adversity. On the contrary, a deliciously grilled fillet of salmon was born.

Marinade
3 ripe mango
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons premium soy sauce
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
pinch salt

Peel and dice mango, measure out 1/4 cup mango for marinade saving the remainder for the salsa. In a blender or food processor combine remaining ingredients and 1/4 cup mango, blend until smooth or until marinade resembles the consistency of peanut butter.

Cut 2 large pieces of aluminium foil layer one on top of the other and fold over all four edges about 2 inches, spray with non stick cooking oil, rinse and pat dry salmon, lay salmon skin side down in the center of foil and season flesh with salt and pepper, spoon marinade over salmon, rest 15 minutes.







Preheat grill to 350 - 400 degrees, place aluminum and salmon on grill plates, cover grill and cook 6  minutes, flip salmon over and cook additional 6-8 minutes, transfer salmon to a large platter discard aluminum.


Mango Ginger Salsa
using remaining mango, add 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger and 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, mix to blend

Rice
1 cup rice
2 cups water
3 slices fresh lemon
pinch saffron threads
pinch salt

Bring water to a boil, add rice, lemons and saffron threads, cover and reduce heat, simmer for 20 minutes

Serves 4

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Gazpacho & Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pin Wheels



Gazpacho is the quintessential summer meal.  A cold tomato soup originating in Southern Spain from the sunny region of Andalusia. Gazpacho can be pureed until smooth or served chunky - with a variety of diced vegetables. You can give a Mexican twist to the Gazpacho soup by adding some diced avocado and jalapeno peppers. After preparing the gazpacho soup, refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 30 minutes in order to blend flavors; the soups flavors intensify the longer it rests.

I paired my Gazpacho with Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pinwheels.  The flavor of the sun dried tomatoes, sweet and tangy with the balance of the cream cheese and basil, made for a satisfying and delicious meal.  Their also really pretty!

To make the meal sing with excitement, as though it wasn't exciting enough already; a fine glass of red wine is a must.  I had to search my wine cellar...(about 12 bottles) to find a fitting red and alas, I didn't have one Spanish wine in the bunch.  I decided on a French 2001 Appellation Saint~Joseph Offerus.  A Rhône wine offering a powerful, earthy, gamey expression of a Syrah with a cherry finish.  The full flavor of the wine stood up beautifully against the acidity of the tomato based soup.




Gazpacho Recipe

3 - 4 cups tomato juice
6 vine ripe plum tomatoes chopped
1 large cucumber seeded and peeled
1/2 large purple onion thinly sliced
2 clove garlic
1 celery rib chopped
1 red pepper seeded and chopped
1 green pepper seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup grape seed oil
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish
fresh basil chiffonade

Method
Chop tomatoes coarsley, seed and peel cucumber and rough dice, chop celery, onion, peppers, jalapeno and add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl.  Stir to combine, salt and pepper to taste, add hot sauce to taste (optional).

Chunky Gazpacho: Pulse 2 cups of vegetables in a blender, do not puree, return blended soup to mixing bowl and stir to combine, chill soup for 30 minutes before serving.  Soup is best if made a day ahead.

Basil Chiffonade:  layer 5-6 fresh basil leaves and roll into toothpick shape, slice thinly crosswise, garnish soup and serve

Pinwheels





Recipe
Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pinwheels

1 package jalapeno flavored flour tortillas, giant size
1 package Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups sun dried tomatoes



Method
Spread cream cheese evenly onto flour tortilla, about 3 tablespoons for each tortilla, pinch basil leaves off of stems and place on top of the cream cheese, sprinkle sun dried tomatoes over leaves, roll tortilla tightly and slice into pinwheels.

Serve Pinwheels with Gazpacho or as an appetizer.


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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding by Ms Paula Deen


Honestly, I never thought banana pudding could get better than the kind my mom used to make with vanilla wafers and home made pudding but then I tried Paula Deen's "Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding" and I haven't looked back since. 

Eating a bite of this luscious pudding will make you smile and then ask for another piece.  This recipe is so smooth and silky and not overly banana flavored.  You will not be able to have just one piece...I guarantee!

I've been making this recipe for several years now and I love the fact that the Chessmen cookies make for a perfect little piece when serving.

This is Ms Paula Deen's infamous recipe, bookmark this one it's a keeper!

 
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Directions

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

It just doesn't get better than that!!  Unless......you can have it sugar free! 

I've challenged my sweet friend Carol Ann the owner of
Diabetes and Me - CW's Cafe Today Managing my Diabetes and cooking Neo-Soul Food for a Healthy Lifestyle, to make me a sugar free version of this recipe...stay tuned for the "light" Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding....not so sinfully delicious dessert!













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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Strolling Blog Hop




Hosted by Welcome to the Sunday Strolling Blog Hop! The hostesses are Veronica from The Chickenista Reviews, Jennifer from Makobi Scribes, and Pot Of Gold Giveways!

Follow the links and add yours for a fun Sunday Strolling Blog Hop.

At Home with Rebecka is featured there today!!


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