Cooking

The Kitchen is one of my favorite places to be; I can let go, create, be messy and it serves as a healthy does of therapy along with some sumptuous eats

Escargot

An easy yet very elegant appetizer to serve with a variety of entrees.  Don’t be shy about making them; they look far more impressive than one would expect due to the simple preparation.  I saw some in the case at my local grocers and they wanted $12 for a dozen.  They were stuffed in shells with a parsleyed garlic butter.

Well, that would be enough for me but what about hubby — I didn’t want to spend $24 for the appetizer.  The nice butcher hinted that I could buy a can of 24 for $4 and whip up some garlic butter.  I’m all about a bargain. . .

Ingredients

1 can escargot (approximately 24), drained
6 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons shallots, finely minced
2 teaspoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Splash of brandy or Madeira (optional)

Preparation

Let the butter soften at room temperature until easy enough to handle.  Drain the escargot.  Mix the softened butter with the garlic, shallots and parsley stirring well to combine.  Add the splash of brandy or Madeira if using.

Places the escargot in the dish (they make special pans for the little guys)*.  Bake at 400 degrees until the butter is bubbly — about 10 minutes.

I served with an Udi’s gluten free baguette which I sliced and heated the last 5 minutes of baking the escargot to lightly ‘toast’.

*you can pick these up at Bed Bath & Beyond any culinary stores or online.

It’s Pumpkin Time!

It’s almost time.  It’s getting close. I can smell the pumpkin pies, can you?  If you haven’t prepped your pumpkins you’d best get started.  I have been making homemade pumpkin pies from scratch for my family Thanksgiving dinner since 1987.  Yep, that’s almost 30 years, 3 decades.  Wow, time flies when you’re having fun.

photo-oct-02-11-45-29-am

I’ve a little process I go through. Around the start of October when I first spot the pretty pumpkins in the grocery store I bring them home.  They will last at least 2 or 3 weeks before you have to cook them.

photo-oct-09-6-48-36-pm

They set the festive stage for the holiday season by dressing up the table prior to Halloween.

photo-oct-22-5-07-43-pm

By mid to late October they’ve been cooked, pureed, bagged and frozen to await there use in the season’s culinary delights — from pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin loaf and the ultimate Turkey Day favorite. . .

pumpkin-pie-700x525

Autumn Pumpkin Pie!  The filling is pure pumpkin and it’s topped pecan nutty, butter, sugar and flour mixture all baked in a crispy homemade crust. You know, I think I just better do a test run this weekend. It has been a year…

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulders

Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt is full of flavor and while pulled pork with barbecue sauce is a staple in the warmer months come fall I’m ready to change up the flavor of this very versatile meat.  Pairing it with potatoes, carrots, onions and other root vegetables smothered in gravy makes it completely different yet equally delicious.

photo-oct-30-5-37-47-pm

Ingredients

2 small pastured pork shoulder/butts or 1 large (4-5 lb total)
1-2 tablespoons bacon grease or lard
6 carrots, cut in half
1 large onion cut into eights
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups beef stock
2-3 tablespoons non GMO cornstarch

Preparation

Let your meat sit at room temperature for at least one hour before cooking.

photo-oct-30-1-18-49-pm

Melt the bacon grease or lard over medium high heat.  Sear the pork on all sides.

photo-oct-30-1-29-01-pm

After browning place the meat in your roasting pan

photo-oct-30-1-30-53-pm

Surround with the onions, carrots and potatoes.  Sprinkle the garlic and sage over the meat and veggies and season with the salt and pepper.  Add in the beef broth.

photo-oct-30-1-48-44-pm

Roast at 300 degrees for approximately 3-4 hours or until fork tender.

photo-oct-30-5-33-40-pm

Remove the pork to a platter and keep warm.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the veggies to a bowl and keep warm while you make the gravy.

Place the pan juices in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Stir the cornstarch until dissolved in a couple of tablespoons of cold water.  When the juices begin a slow boil stir in the cornstarch mixture using a wire whisk.  Stir until bubbly and thickened about 1-2 minutes.

photo-oct-30-5-52-30-pm

Slice the pork (it will cut like butter) and serve with the veggies spooning the gravy over all.

Enjoy!

Chicken Wheels & Apples

When grocery shopping last weekend I was in awe at the array of apples available. Tis the season and everything just seems to taste better when it’s in season.  Which apple to choose and what to do with them?  I grabbed a bag of Granny Smith for eating and some Braeburns for cooking.

I’d been eating a lot of beef and pork so it was time to put some chicken on the menu and the thighs were just calling out to me from the meat case, and on sale today!  Add in some delightful fall spices along with a side of red cabbage for a incredibly sumptuous dinner.

photo-oct-22-7-01-35-pm

Ingredients

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 cups Braeburn apples, chopped (not peeled)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 fresh chopped sage
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

photo-oct-22-6-01-25-pm

Preheat oven to 475.  Chop apples and toss with lemon juice.  Combine with garlic, next 3 ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

photo-oct-22-6-03-18-pm

Butter a 13″ x 9″ pan and spread the apple mixture evenly.

photo-oct-22-6-07-11-pm

Sprinkle the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper and arrange on top of the apple mixture.

photo-oct-22-6-36-22-pm

Bake at 475 for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and apples are tender. Remove the chicken and keep warm.  Mash the apples with a potato masher and serve with the chicken.

A side of red cabbage sauteed in bacon grease with a few onions rounded out the meal wonderfully. Enjoy!

Porky’s White Chili

Fall is fall and whether you live in Montana with distinct climatic drops or Florida where it’s far more subtle it’s time for some stews and chili’s.  And what a pleasant surprise this white chili was without tomatoes and a distinct southwestern flavor that paired exceptionally well with some good old fashioned southern cornbread.

photo-oct-15-7-17-47-pm

Ingredients

3 tablespoons lard
2 pounds ground pork
2 cups chopped sweet onion
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves finely diced
2 (4.5 oz) cans chopped green chiles, undrained
3/4 – 1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 – 1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 – 1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 (15.5 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained
3 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 1/2 cups shredded Jack cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preparation

photo-oct-15-6-14-41-pm

Heat 1 tablespoon of the lard in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat.  Add pork and cook stirring until crumbled and no longer pink.  Drain and remove to a platter, wipe the pot clean.

photo-oct-15-6-24-35-pm

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of lard over medium heat.  Add onion, pepper, garlic and spices and cook, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables are slightly tender. Add the green chilies and continue to cook for another minute.

photo-oct-15-7-05-26-pm

Stir in bean, broth and pork; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 40 minutes.

photo-oct-15-7-15-42-pm

Add cheese and lime juice, stir until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.

photo-oct-15-7-15-01-pm

Oh yea, it’s best with cornbread!

Chicken & Yellow Rice

I’ve been making this dish for years but for some reason it tasted the best it ever has last night.  I had to ask myself why; I did two things different than I usually do.  I used a whole chicken leaving the skin on and fried it in bacon grease.  Who knew…

photo-sep-25-7-05-39-pm

Ingredients

1 whole pastured chicken, cut into pieces (reserve the backs and neck for future stock making)
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup organic basmati rice
1 3/4 -2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup sliced green olives
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Cut the chicken into pieces reserving the backs and necks for future stock making.  Season the pieces with salt and pepper.  Melt the bacon fat in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Fry the chicken skin side down, about 6 minutes or until nice and golden.  Turn and fry about 3 minutes.  Remove to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onions for about 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and the peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes more or until just tender.  Stir in the rice and stir until just coated.  Add the stock and turmeric and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.  Put the chicken back in the pan along with any juices and nestle within the rice mixture.

Put the lid on the pan and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, stir in the peas and olives; cover with the lid and let set for 5 minutes to heat them through.