Friday, June 24, 2011

"T" FOR TEXAS AND A "T" FOR TENNESSEE



In an earlier post, I had talked about looking for a good recipe for a Black-Eyed Pea Salad. I came across many that were different in their own unique ways and so with a little tweaking on a "Texas Caviar" recipe, this Tennesse girl came up with a version that makes any southerner stand up and take notice. This recipe is SO good. Rumor has it that the Black -Eyed Pea Salad did originate in the East Texas town of Athens. Athens is now known as the "Black-Eyed Pea Capital of the World." They still throw a Black-eyed Pea Jamboree each year. Midsummer is peak harvest season for the "Athens Cowpeas", so it's appropriate that this salad be a part of our Independence Day celebration this year. I'm going to pack some up and head to Southern Illinois for the weekend of the 4th. Big Mom's family reunion is that Saturday @ Karel Park. The following recipe makes about 8-10 servings and can be refrigerated up to a week. Feel free to put your own spin on it. A couple of days after we first tried it, I mixed it with some fresh Pico de Gallo to switch it up a little bit and it was great. Throw in some diced avacados, cilantro, and some sour cream on the side for a great garnish for any Mexican/TexMex dish. Enjoy!!

TEXAS CAVIAR-TENNESSEE STYLE

4 Cups black eyed peas, (I used canned, drained and rinsed, but cook your own if you want, just be sure to let them cool way down before mixing anything with them.)
1 Cup celery
4 Oz chopped Green Chiles
1/4 Cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 Cup purple onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 Cups Italian Dressing, enough to cover peas
Garnish with cilantro and green onions, both the whites and tops. It all looks great on a bed of Red cabbage leaves.
In a large glass bowl combine all ingredients, except the garnish, stirring well. You may need to add more dressing to cover peas. Marinate, covered and refrigerated for 24 hours, preferably, but at least for 4 hours. Drain any excess dressing and spoon onto shallow serving bowl lined with the red cabbage leaves. Sprinkle cilantro and green onions on top.
TIP: Mix with home made Pico De Gallo (Fresh is Best!!) or a small can of Rotel (mild or hot) for another variation.

At Home On The Range Catering
Nashville, TN 615-525-8336
lisagschmidt@hotmail.com
Comfortcook

Friday, April 29, 2011

Flavors Of Cinco De Mayo




As I was stuck in traffic this morning in front of my favorite little neighborhood grocery, Comptons (mentioned in past posts for their superb meat department) I noticed that along with a great sale on split chicken breasts, always buy them on the bone, Thank You!, they have pork butts on sale for 98 cents a pound. This is not the cheapest I've seen them, but a very decent price and I'm always ready to go "Pork." So, I am putting the pork butt on my shopping list for the weekend and plan on making some Pork Adobada sometime soon. I have spoke about this recipe before , but it is definitely worth another mention. It is so easy and soooo GOOD! Great leftovers and if you need to, it freezes well, also. I love the taste of authentic Mexican food and this dish has all those deep, rich flavors that are so satisfying and just tastes like nothing else. "Nothing else" in my neighborhood, that is! (Ok, maybe those folks on the corner of Town Valley Court and Tea Garden may have a similar recipe, but I know I've got this convered on Pekoe Circle.)
So read the recipe below. Go find a good deal on a Pork Butt and try this dish. If you love Pork, you'll put this one in the recipe box and go back to it again and again. If you love complex, interesting, deep flavors, you'll love this. If you have a crock pot and want to razzle dazzle some company with something totally different and impressive and have time to sit and spend time with them instead of fretting over a stove...this dish is the one for you. Damn! Just try this dish! Don't be intimidated by roasting the peppers. It's good to learn a little trick every now and then, plus you'll feel like a million bucks and proud of yourself after you do it and wonder why you avoided any recipes that called for roasted peppers before. It is a whole new method to adding a lot of flavor to your cooking. It may not be the most complex of Mexican dishes, but it sure as heck isn't Taco Bell! After this you'll be ready to try the Chili Rellenos with Picadillo recipe. That one has some really interesting flavors going on...raisins, cinnamon, clove...I know the combination sounds strange to us gringos, but wow...it is delicious. For sure Chili Rellenos its a lot more more hands on than this, but they are both great ethic additiosn to your recipe box.

COMFORTCOOK
"AT HOME ON THE RANGE CATERING"
Nashville, TN 615-525-8336
http://www.comfortcook@gmail.com/

PORK ADOBADA

Ingredients:
6 New Mexico Anaheim dried red chilies
4 dried Ancho peppers (These are the dark red dried peppers. Dried Poblanos, actually)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 lbs lean pork, cut into bite-sized pieces (I use Pork Butt , but you could use a loin.)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Tear chili pods into pieces, removing steam and reserving seeds. Place chili on baking sheet, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When oven is hot roast the chili for 10 minutes. Place the chili in blender container. Bring the chicken stock to a boil, add cider vinegar and pour over chili. Allow to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes to soften chili. Add orange juice concentrate, tomato paste, brown sugar and cumin. Blend into a smooth paste, add 1 tablespoon of the chili seeds and blend until smooth. Warm olive oil in skillet, add onions and garlic. Saute until onions begin to brown lightly then pour onions into crock pot. Toss the pork with 1 tablespoon of flour. In same skillet add pork cubes and brown stirring frequently. May need to brown the meat in batches to ensure even browning,. As meat is browned, transfer to crock pot. When all the meat has been browned, pour 1/2 cup water into skillet, bring to a boil and scrape up browned bits. Pour into crock pot along with chili sauce, stirring well. Cover and cook on low 4 to 5 or until pork cubes are tender. Serve with some great garnishes such as Cilantro, grated cheese or Queso Fresco, diced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, lime wedges, Sour Cream and flour and corn tortillas. Let everyone build their own combination. Have lots of Frosty, Cold, Barley Pops (BEER!!) on hand!! El- Schlurpo!

BIG TIP: The Pork Butt is a moister cut of pork than a loin and pork tenderloin would just disintegrate in a crock pot after that amount of time. Pork Loin would work but would be drier. Also, ANYTIME you are using your crock pot, add a layer of foil to the top before putting the crock pot lid on. And NEVER!!! take the lid off during the cooking time. I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but you lose 20 - 30 minutes cooking time each time you "peek" in your crock pot. Have Faith!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fry, Baby, Fry!!



I love deep fried anything. I mean really- pickles, wings, fish, potatoes, chicken, mushrooms, I even have a great recipe for a terrific fried Milky Way bar! My Euro-Pro deep fryer is a prized appliance in my kitchen that gets a steady workout. A lady was on a local TV show here in Nashville the other day and she had just won the Blue Ribbon at the Tennessee State Fair with her Deep Fried Cheese Grits (on a stick) with a tangy hot and sour sauce. You gotta appreciate that about us southerners. Not only do we have the grits , we have the grits to fry 'em, too.

One of my favorite childhood treats was when my Mom would make her Onion Rings. When my brother Allan came home from boot camp, that was one his requests.....some of Mom's onion rings. Hers are not like the thick, beer battered pub grub many of us are familiar with. They are actually thin and crispy, kinda like the Tony Roma ones they make into their famous onion loaf. Mom's was the recipe I had used for years and still love. I just happened to see a great picture of some onion rings in a magazine and they looked delicious. Not all batter-y, you know ..like the kind where you take a bite and the whole onion comes slithering out of the crust. I hate that! Nine times out of ten, they're piping hot and when you take that first bite, you end up looking very unsophisticated trying to keep it off your tongue and trying to not burn the roof of your mouth that the cheese on the pizza always gets. Yes, I have lots of experience eating onion rings, so even tho I love the old family favorite, I came up with what I have to say is quite possibly the best onion ring I have ever eaten. Consensus at The Schmidt House (and yes I know how that sounds) confirm my opinion and what really put this recipe over the top, is that when Sam came by for lunch, he heated some up in the microwave and they were just as crisp as they'd been the night before. A great revelation for a snacker like me. Listen folks, these are really good and I hope you'll try 'em. This is a great batter for all kinds of vegetables, chicken tenders, even seasoned fries. starch is I can't wait to do deep fried pickles next. Go Fry something.....it does a body good!!

Schlurp (!) Big and Crispy Onion Rings

2 Cups Buttermilk
3 Tsps Creole Seasoning-Tony's
2 Cups all Purpose flour
2 tsps sugar
4Tsps baking Powder
2 TABLESPOONS of cornstarch
2 tsps blk pepper
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 Large or 2 small Vidalia ( or sweet yellow) onions (
Peanut oil for frying

Preheat oven to 250, heat oil to 360

In a mixing bowl put 2 cups buttermilk
In another bowl, combine, the flour, baking powder,cornstarch, blk and cayenne peppers, sugar and creole seasoning.
Peel the onions and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Carefully separate into rings.
(You can prepare the onions a half hour ahead and hold the rings in ice water, at this point)
Positions a wire rack over a baking sheet. Dip the rings, one at a time, in the buttermilk and shake off any excess. Dredge the slices into the seasoned flour and shake off any excess flour. Dip the battered ring into the buttermilk again and back into the flour. Shake off any excess and transfer to the wire rack. Repeat with remaning rings.
Position a 2nd wire rack over a baking sheet and place in a warmed oven. Fill a large heavy dutch oven with 2 inches of oil, or use a deep fryer, heating both to 360. Temeperature is key!
Fry the rings in batches, adding only a few at a time to keep separate, until golden brown or when they float to the surface. About 2-3 minutes. Remove from oil and place rings onto warmed wire rack and salt them immediately. Keep warm in the oven while frying the remaining rings. Be sure to bring your oil up to temperature between batches. Salt each batch immediately when you bring it out of the oil.
Serve hot and listen to the Crunching and Mmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!
Comfortcook @gmail.com
At Home On The Range Catering

Friday, February 11, 2011

LOVE!!!!!



Super Bowl is over and the next February food frenzy is Valentine's Day. Whether it's dinner at a romantic restaurant, chocolates or a bottle of bubbly and fondue at home, romantics everywhere know this is the time of year when there are no excuses if you forget February 14th. Now just because Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year, you've got the entire weekend to get your romance on. You see, like it or not and try as some may, there are still certain rules that apply to this particular date. Valentine's Day is your chance to make up for any and all errs of the heart you made the previous year. Make her feel special all over again. Tell her and show her that she is indeed the most beautiful and desirable woman in all the world and you simply can't live without her. WHEW!!! That's a tall order, huh? Collect yourself and read on.....
One of the most important rules of romance is that if you are going to get flowers for your beloved, remember it is the coup de grace if you send them to her place of work so she can have that moment of girlish glory among her peers, proving that she does indeed have someone who loves her enough to send her overpriced flowers. Think of it like this...it's kind of like why guys drive those big ole trucks with those ridiculously huge tires. You know they do it for their buddies to appreciate. And maybe to make up for what they may lack in other areas. It can't be easy jumping up into that big ole thing and those knobby tires have got to be tough on the tush. It's all about the show...you know... it's human nature wanting to show off a little. Now, you could get by with bringing some flowers and a box of candy home on that day...but there's nothing like that big swell of emotion that every girl gets when she sees the top of a big bouquet passing thru the office. Us girls would be lying if we didn't admit that we all get a certain feeling in our stomach and that we hope those flowers land in front of us. It makes you, the thoughtful, romantic boyfriend, husband or lover (or as in Geraldo's- case, all 3!) the most desirable man on the planet . And just so you gals know it, it's perfectly alright to take your flowers home and share them with that marvelous man who thought enough of you to take the time to make a call or two to make sure your day was special. You can leave them on your desk at work, certainly, but it is nice that the man who footed the bill gets a chance to see how his dollars stacked up. Take a few out and put them in a bud vase for your desk. That way you can be reminded each day (hopefully for at least a week) at home and at work, that you are indeed....adored. You may get lucky and get held up at a stop light and the folks in the car next to you will spot your flowers or balloons and know that you are very special to someone and that their better-half had better have something valentine-y for them when they get home. And yes, balloons work, too. Just make sure you get an embarrassing amount that will make a statement.
There's not a thing wrong dropping by the corner market for your sweetie's flowers. Just try not to get stuck buying the cellophane wrapped spring bouquet that has already "sprung." Pick out something that's fresh 'cause a bunch of wilted flowers says, deadbeat and you didn't care enough to send the very best. Crappy flowers are all that's left? Well then you're better off with helium balloons, a very mushy card and a big, BIG heart-shaped box of some fine chocolates. Having said that.... let me add that there are some great floral options available if you decide to pick up something on your own to bring home to the missus. Many of the large grocery chains have a great selection of many different flowers that you can pick and choose from to make your own clever creation. With the right touch, any proper suitor can pull this off. First of all, buy the kind of flowers your sweetie likes. Don't buy roses just because they're everywhere this time of year. I used to not be such a big fan of roses...seemed overpriced and didn't last very a long if you asked me, but since I've been growing them in my home garden for a few years I have truly learned to appreciate just how beautiful and special they are. Just make sure you put some thought into it. Any flowers you give her are going to say more to her than any words you could ever come up with. NOT getting her flowers will also say more to her than you could ever apologize for!! If your girl likes sunflowers, then make it sunflowers. If it's carnations or daisies well, you get the picture. You can't go wrong with a beautiful spring bouquet. This time of year we are all looking for some signs of spring. Especially with this freaky winter with all the cold and snow. The love potion here is the thought you put into it. If you purchase them yourself, put the flowers in a pretty vase (not one from home this is the time to spring for a new one and they will be located right there in the floral department) and tie a little bow or some pretty raffia around it to spruce it up a little. (Ok, look up raffia in your online dictionary...I'll wait.) You could also wrap the flowers in floral paper and give them that "Florist Bought" look. There's really nothing wrong with taking flowers to your special valentine, but really if your valentine works with other valentines...the delivery at the ole place of work still garners the biggest smiles. Along with some chocolate a nice romantic card and maybe a cutsie teddy bear for those girls who still like their "toys." Teddy bears aren't really my thing....now my "Toys" are geared more for the big girls...if you know what I mean. Those are fun to get, too!!
Have fun! After all, this is the time we all get the chance to be silly in love and say and do goofy things. Most of all, turn on the romantic in you and let the love of your life know how very much she (or he) is loved.
AT HOME ON THE RANGE CATERING (615)525-8336

Sunday, January 23, 2011


FOR THE LOVE OF FRYING........



I love, love, love really good fish and chips, but unfortunately I have not had them as often as I'd like. That's not to say I haven't ordered them many times. It means they weren't so good most of the time. But, when they've been good, I have returned and ordered them again. Why take a gamble when you have a sure thing? Here in Nashville, I have eaten good fish and chips at, let's see....3 places. I'm not implying that they don't know how to make fish and chips here in Nashville. Not at all. I'm sure there are plenty of places that I haven't even heard of that have terrific fish and chips. It's just that when I go out to eat, I have usually targeted in on something in particular that I am craving and when I order what I want and it's really good, well, that place becomes the place for that particular goodie. Makes perfect sense to me.
So, what to do when it's too damn cold to get out and you have that hankerin' for some beer battered, fried goodness? You go to the freezer, get out your cod loins.(yes, cod loins, who knew?) dig into one of your favorite "all purpose" cookbooks, get a recipe that sounds good and get to work. My ole faithful recipe book is the Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook. They have an annual one that updates yearly and I have the one from a couple of years ago. It's their limited edition, breast cancer awareness one. It's pretty and yes, it is pink.
I found a recipe that sounded just right. Geraldo found a leftover (how did that happen?) Foster's beer in the back of the fridge and we were on our way to fry town.
Like every good southern cook, I have a deep fryer on my counter. I cranked it up to 375 and got to work on the chips. Fries, that is and did them the 2 cook version (that's another blog.) I got the "chips" cut, blanch fried and popped into the freezer before fry #2, and went to work on the fish. I cut the "loins" in half and made the batter exactly as the recipe says. I don't fool around with batter. Anything with flour and baking powder in it, is too much like baking to me. There's some chemistry going on in there and I don't mess with anything that starts bubbling before you start cooking it! I did some shrimp, too, only with a different batter. Some seasoned flour and cornmeal, egg and some milk. They were delicious, also. And I'll post the recipe another time. They were a perfect pairing for this fish fry platter.
So, after the 2nd fry on the chips* (see recipe below) I put them into a 300 degree oven, dipped the fish into the beer batter, fried them to a golden brown. Served it all up with with homemade tartar sauce, lemon wedges and authentic pub-style malt vinegar. They were great, folks. No kidding. I impressed myself and I don't do that as often as I'd like.You gotta make these. Use a good brand of frozen steak fries for the chips to make it easier on yourself and use one more piece of fish than you think you'll need. Somebody's gonna want that extra one, trust me. And drop some globs of the batter into the hot oil and you'll have crumblies just like Captain D's. Only fresher, lighter and much tastier. Cheers!!

Beer Battered Fish and Chips
Ingredients
1 pound fresh or frozen skinless fish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick
1-1/4 pounds medium potatoes (about 4)
Shortening or cooking oil for deep-fat frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup beer
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Coarse salt (optional)
Tartar Sauce(optional)
Malt vinegar or cider vinegar (optional)
Directions:
1. Thaw fish, if frozen; cut into 3x2-inch pieces. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
2. For chips, cut the potatoes lengthwise into about 3/8-inch-wide wedges. Pat dry with paper towels. In a 3-quart saucepan or deep-fat fryer heat 2 inches of shortening or cooking oil to 375 degrees F. Fry potatoes, one-fourth at a time, for 4 to 6 minutes or until light brown. Remove potatoes and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. When all are fried, transfer potatoes to a wire rack on a baking sheet, arranging them in a single layer. *Put into freezer before 2nd fry. After 30 minutes in the freezer, and making sure your oil is still at 375 degrees, fry the chips a second time until the "chips" are golden brown and as crisp as you like. Keep warm in a 300 degree oven.
3. Meanwhile, for the batter, in a medium mixing bowl combine flour, beer, eggs, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Beat with a rotary beater or wire whisk until smooth. Dip fish into batter. Fry fish in the hot (375 degrees F) fat, one or two pieces at a time, until coating is golden brown and fish begins to flake when tested with a fork, turning once (about 3 to 4 minutes). Remove fish and drain on paper towels. Transfer fish to another baking sheet; keep warm in the 300 degree F oven while frying remaining fish. To serve, sprinkle with sea salt or coarse salt. Don't forget the tartar sauce, lemon wedges and malt vinegar on the side. I like to have options.

Lisa Rilying-Schmidt "Comfortcook"
At Home On The Range Catering
615-525-8336
comfortcook@gmail.com
lisagschmidt@hotmail.com

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS



Sam called last night at the last minute wanting to know if he could cash in a couple of his food vouchers for something off the new stove. First of all, I haven't handed out any food vouchers and when he called, I was already planted in the sunroom with wine in hand. Too many good leftovers in the fridge, so Geraldo and I were cleaning out the shelves to make room for new groceries. Which translates to no cooking for me. Okay, I did cook some egg noodles to go with the leftover broth from the beef short ribs I'd made on Sunday. But, that was the extent of my time at the stove last night. So, I told Sam that I might cook tonight. I started thinking about what needed to be cooked and what was easy. And what makes enough for a small army. The light bulb in my head went off when I thought of the ground chuck in the refridgerator and all the pasta I have in the pantry. And I get home early enough to cook some sauce, so I'm thinking Spaghetti and Meatballs. Now, there are a kazillion recipes for spaghetti and meatballs and this one is a really good one. (See older post "On Top Of Spaghetti" for another). It does take a little time, but it's so worth it. On a day like today when the weather's a mess and you can't go anywhere, get in the kitchen and play. I always have these ingredients on hand. Of course I do. I have a mini grocery store and butcher shop at The Schmidt House. Just ask Geraldo. But, you know? It sure makes sense when you need a can of cream corn or some chopped green chillies. And you never know when you might need a spring roll wrapper! Makes me a popular neighbor, too. I have been called upon more than once to pull a rabbit out of my hat and save them a trip to the grocery store. And that's why I get those last minute phone calls from my boys checking to see what Mama's got on the stove for supper. You see, "Mama don't stove" like she used to, not since those boys got out of the house. Best to call ahead and make a reservation. Or better yet, check to see if the kitchen's even open!.......Here's the recipe.
SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

Meatballs:
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped and Sauteed
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
Scant bit of cream or half and half, to moisten the bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup pure olive oil
Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans plum tomatoes and their juice, pureed in a blender
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch parsley
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
Spaghetti:
12 cups water
Salt
1 pound #8 or #9 spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic Bread:
1 stick soften butter
4 cloves minced garlic
1 country loaf, cut into 3/4-inch slices

Directions
For the Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl, except olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and fry until golden brown, but not cooked through completely. (remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.) For the Tomato Sauce: Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add pureed tomatoes and juice, bay leaf and parsley, pepper flakes and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add meatballs and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Remove the bay leaf and parsley, add the basil and serve.
For the Spaghetti: Bring salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain well in a colander, (do not rinse and reserve some of the pasta water if needed to thin sauce), toss spaghetti in sauce, serve with meatballs and Parmesan cheese.
For the Garlic Bread: Combine butter and garlic. Spread evenly on bread and broil until browned.
At Home On The Range Catering
615-525-8336

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