Monday, February 16, 2015

Vicki’s Chuck Wagon Beans - a Huckleberry Above a Persimmon


During the long cattle drives, the chuck wagon was the headquarters of every cattle outfit along the trail. The cowboys ate their meals there and it was where a recounting of the day and the smell of over overcooked coffee. Skippy, the most popular man in camp cause he was cook did not take to a lot of back talk. When the trail boss mentioned almost under his breath, “Beans again” ?
Skippy took off and hit his side with his floppy hat.
“Shucks, you ain’t some kina granger is you? Maybe you don’t know why we got these beans? Why beans is an Ace in the Hole. Why, we was in Missouri, a surrounded by injuns. We done shot all our lead ‘til was agone. Did not pay it no never mind neither. We start just a loading beans instead til the hullabaloo settled down and them injuns just up and left.”
After that, no one said any more about beans.

1 ½ Pounds ground beef
1 Yellow onion, chopped
8 Ounces hickory smoked bacon, chopped
1 32-Ounce can Campbell’s Pork and Beans
2 15-Ounce cans Ranch Style Beans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Cup chicken stock
¾ ~ 1 cup Heinz Tomato ketchup
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste


In a oven-proof pot that has a good lid, cook bacon to its starts to render then add chopped onion and cook until onion has become tender but not brown. Now add the ground beef breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Stir frequently to turn meat to insure an even browning. Stir in sugar, mustard, and both types of beans, ketchup, garlic powder and chicken stock. Preheat oven to 300 F. Simmer beans on stove top on medium until they start to boil. Cover and cook in the oven for several hours. Taste and correct sweetness and seasoning as required.

It’s a Huckleberry Above a Persimmon

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chinese Salt and Pepper Shrimp (aka Salt-Baked Prawns)



In an authentic Chinese restaurant, the shrimp is cooked head-on with their shells until crispy so they eat like potato chips. This dish, from the south of China, is neither baked nor cooked with any large portion of salt. When eating these, the secret is to chew thoroughly.

1 ¼ Pound whole medium shrimp2 (pinch off feelers)
2 Teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Thinly sliced jalapeno pepper (red is hotter than green)
4 Green onions, sliced
Salt for blanching water
Cornstarch enough to coat shrimp (2-3 Tablespoons)
½ Cup peanut oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Soak the shrimp1 lightly salted cold water for 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil. Blanch shrimps for 10 seconds then quench in cold water. Blanching improves firmness. Drain and pat shrimps as dry as possible with paper towels.

Mince both garlic and ginger and set aside. Have ready cut up green onions and jalapeno. (Retaining the jalapeno‘s white-seed portion retains the hottest portion of the chile. I like hot so I leave it in.)

Heat wok on high. The secret of cooking these is to not excessively brown the coating otherwise they will be over done.

Lightly coat the shrimps with the cornstarch. When the wok is hot, add the oil. Shake off excess cornstarch, and, when the oil is very hot (385o F), stir fry the shrimp in batches. (Make sure the shrimp are completely covered with hot oil.)

Pour off the oil but retain. Turn out the shrimps onto a paper towel-covered plate. Reheat the wok; add back one tablespoon of oil. When oil is very hot, stir fry garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and green onions until fragrant. Add back the shrimps and toss well. Correct seasonings. Serve immediately on a pre-heated platter.

Notes:
  1. Medium shrimp are younger the jumbo shrimp hence the shells are not as tuff.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Yellow Rice (Arroz Amarillo)


This is a dish of yellow fried rice and the ingredients other than rice (shown below) are anything you want. In my version, the rice is flavored with Peruvian Aji Amarillo chile powder, garlic, jalapeno, shallots (could be sweet onions) chicken stock, and chopped poblano chilies. Top the rice with your choice of protein to make a whole meal.

Rice Ingredients
Pinch of Turmeric
½ teaspoon American Spice Yellow food coloring (Colorante Amarillo) or Badia Yellow Coloring
Pinch saffron
Pinch Aji Amarillo
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 ½ Cup water
2 cups Thai jasmine long grain rice

Use a sauce pan equipped with a tight fitting oven safe lid. (If you do not have an oven safe lid, use three layers on tin foil making a tight seal.) Place water in sauce pan; bring it to a full boil. Add colorants, spices, and rice. Cover with tight fitting lid. Bring back to boil. When boiling, place pot in a 350 F preheated oven. Set timer for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove from oven with oven mitts. Remove lid. Spill out rice on a half sheet pan with a lip. Cool then place uncovered in the refrigerator to get cold.



1 Teaspoon Aji Amarillo chile powder
1 chopped seeded jalapeno (red ones look good)
1/3 Cup homemade chicken stock or more as needed
1 chopped poblano chile
1 Clove chopped garlic
3 Chopped shallots
3 Scallion greens chopped
3 tablespoons corn oil
Correct seasoning with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat a wok until hot, add oil, jalapeno, poblano, shallots, and garlic and stir-fry briskly. Stir in cold rice; stir-fry flipping with spatula to separate rice grains. Add Aji Amarillo chile powder and chicken stock. Stir in scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and correct seasonings as needed. Serve hot.

The yellow collorant is to be found in the Mexcian section of a Mexican market or online. To make this into a whole meal, top with broiled lobster, or large gulf shrimp, or broiled chicken.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Moo Goo Gai Pan - Chicken and Mushrooms


Moo goo means “mushroom”, Gai means “chicken” and pan means “sliced”. When the chicken is cut very thin and cooked quickly, it remains wonderfully tender. The vegetables and seasonings vary widely in this dish, but mushrooms and chicken are always used.

1 Cup Chinese (Napa) cabbage, white portions, sliced ¼ wide, 2 inches long or substitute 2 inch long thin slices of peeled celery
1 Can drained sliced water chestnuts
1 Cup snow peas, washed in cold water
2 Boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced in thin slices
1 Cup baby cremini mushrooms, stemmed, quartered
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced or substitute thinly sliced Vidalia onion
1 Carrot peeled, sliced into thin shreds (optional)
1+1 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
1 Pinch white pepper
1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Teaspoon white sugar (optional)
1 ½ Teaspoons soy sauce
1 Teaspoon fish sauce
1 Teaspoon Mirin
1 Tablespoon rice wine or sake
1 Teaspoon rice wine vinegar
¼ Cup chicken broth and a little more, later, if needed

In a small bowl, add cornstarch, sugar (optional) then mix in soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine, Mirin, vinegar, and ¼ cup of chicken broth. Set the cornstarch mixture aside until needed.
Heat wok over high heat. When hot, add a tablespoon of oil, garlic, ginger and the pepper. Stir fry the chicken slices until all traces of red are gone. (Retain cooked chicken in a bowl.)

Wipe out wok.
Heat wok over high heat. When hot, add a tablespoon of oil. Stir fry water chestnuts, shallots, snow peas, carrots (optional), and cabbage or celery until all the vegetables are hot. Return the chicken to the wok and add mushrooms. Add cornstarch mixture and stir fry and toss until thickened. Correct seasoning adding more chicken stock as required. The suace will not achieve its full thickness until it has returned to a boil. Sauce should be thickened but slightly runny. Serve over steamed jasmine rice.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Vicki’s Crunchy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies


 These make a tender delectible cookie with little chew and a little crunch.

1 Cup sweet butter
1 Cup packed brown sugar
3/4 Cup white sugar
1 Cup crunchy peanut butter
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup quick-cooking oats

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter until smooth.
Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.
Mix in the oats until just combined.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until just light brown.

Do not over-bake. Cool and store in an airtight container.