Summer cooking: Deviled Eggs

So deviled eggs are actually a year-round side dish in our house, because it’s one thing that everyone will eat, amazingly enough. There’s something just so…yum about deviled eggs. What is it? I rarely follow a recipe when I make them, although I sometimes use this recipe as a starting point. But I don’t measure (anything) and I go simply by taste. Honestly, I think this is the best way!

Ingredients:

12 hard boiled eggs (I use this method of hard boiling), peeled and rinsed.

prepared horseradish

sweet relish

brown mustard

mayonnaise

celery salt

pepper

paprika

Directions:

1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, scoop out yolk into a bowl and put whites on a platter.

2. Using a fork, smoosh egg yolks until reasonably smooth. If you want really, really smooth deviled eggs, you could use a hand mixer, but really, who has that time and who cares about a few lumps?

3. Add in approximately 1/4 cup mayo to start, plus about a Tbsp of sweet relish and brown mustard each. Mix. Add more of each to your personal taste.You may want more mayo or mustard especially.

4. Toss in about a tsp of horseradish, mix and taste. Depending on how much heat you like, and how hot your horseradish is, you may want more.

5. Salt (celery salt) and pepper to taste. At this stage you may also want to add a squeeze of lemon juice, for something different.

6. Scrape mixture into a sandwich bag. Cut corner of sandwich bag off and pipe into egg whites (confession, when I’m in a hurry I just scoop it in with a spoon, rather than using a sandwich bag. Might not be pretty, but it tastes the same!)

7. Sprinkle lightly with smoky paprika and either chill or serve immediately.

There are a TON of variations of the deviled egg recipe out there. Really, it’s all about trial and error and getting it to your taste. There’s no right or wrong way.

And now I wish I had some deviled eggs. Writing this made me hungry!

 

 

Summer Cooking: Grilled fish with cherry tomatoes & tapenade, Rice-Orzo side dish

Honestly, sometimes the parts of the meal that I like best surprise me. Yesterday we made grilled swordfish, cherry tomatoes and homemade tapenade. I wasn’t so sure I would like the tomatoes and tapenade, but was really looking forward to the swordfish. Turns out? We really loved the tomatoes, I loved the tapenade (no one else eats it) and we thought the swordfish was just okay (but we determined that was the fish itself, not the marinade).

So here’s an easy meal, great for summer because it doesn’t require you to turn on the oven or use the stove, and it’s SO refreshing.

For the fish and marinade: 

Fish, you can use swordfish, tuna, shark or other fish of your choice. Next time I’ll use tuna.

For the marinade:

1 cup white wine (grab a chilled bottle from your wine cooler. Pour a cup for marinade. Pour a glass for you to drink while cooking)

5 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (you grow rosemary, right? Why not? SO easy)

Combine the marinade and put fish in an 8×8 container, turning to coat. Salt and pepper top of fish, marinade at least an hour. Don’t overmarinate (no more than 4 hours).

To cook: preheat grill to medium high. Make sure the grill is clean! Drain marinade off fish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side, for a total of 8-10 minutes. Let cook on one side the full 4-5 minutes, until good grill marks are developed. Use tongs and a spatula to flip.

Serve grilled fish with a side of fresh cherry tomatoes and tapenade.

For the tomatoes:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (and you’re also growing fresh mint, right? It grows like a weed!)

Toss tomatoes with olive oil and chopped fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes, while fish is grilling. Serve. Incredibly refreshing and delicious.

For the tapenade:

1 cup pitted kalamata olives

2-3 sundried tomatoes (from the jar, in oil)

2 cloves minced garlic

8 basil leaves torn into small pieces

2 Tbsp fresh mint chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme

One quarter of a fresh lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

Put olives, garlic and tomatoes in small food processor (this is the one I use and LOVE) and combine until chopped & mixed. Add fresh basil, fresh mint, cayenne pepper, thyme and olive oil and pulse to mix. Taste and reseason to your liking. Squeeze in the juice of the quarter lemon, mix with a spoon. Don’t eat it all while you stand there though!

Serve grilled fish with the side of tomatoes and a spoonful of tapenade. Save excess tapenade for sandwiches, crackers, etc. I also served the fish with fresh buttered bread rolls and the below rice/orzo side dish that’s a summer favorite at my house. You could also serve with this orzo dish.

Homemade Rice-a-Roni (sounds fancier when I say rice and orzo, right?)

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup white rice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

2 tbsp butter

1. Melt butter in pan, add orzo and garlic and cook until orzo is lightly browned.

2. Add white rice and chicken broth, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer, cooking 20 to 25 minutes until broth is absorbed and rice/orzo are cooked. Serve. If it gets too dry, just add a small bit of broth to remoisturize.

 

 

Summer dinner: Key West Chicken and Cilantro Lime Rice

I don’t mind BBQ chicken, but it’s not something I want to eat often. So when I knew we were having chicken breasts on the grill for dinner tonight, I went looking for something else I could do. On AllRecipes.com, I found these two recipes, which were easy to prepare. I marinated the chicken for only a half hour, as recommended. The chicken and rice together were amazing, the flavors perfectly complemented each other. A perfect summer meal. I would have loved to have some sliced mango or a tropical fruit salad to go with it. Next time.

Key West Chicken

*note, it would be easy for the soy sauce to take over in this recipe, so I suggest tasting before you add the chicken, to make sure the lime juice is coming through. Also, you don’t have to use fresh lime juice, just buy a bottle of lime juice and make it easy on yourself! Although comments on the recipe say they marinated overnight, be very careful about marinating too long. Chicken marinating in soy sauce can be marinated too long.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Directions

  1. In a shallow container, blend soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic. Place chicken breast halves into the mixture, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Discard marinade, and grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice (Use Jasmine. No really. Use Jasmine. Yum!)
  • 2teaspoon lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I did use fresh lime juice for this portion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Bring the water to a boil; stir the butter and rice into the water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Make it right in your rice cooker.
  2. Stir the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro into the cooked rice just before serving. Taste and add more lime juice or cilantro, as needed. I let this sit, covered in the rice cooker, about 5 minutes while we got everything else ready, and it allowed the flavors to really permeate the rice.
  3. You may wish to sprinkle lightly with sea salt before serving. I have this spiced salt, Florida Sunshine, which was wonderful for this.

I’m making fish tacos for dinner on Tuesday, and will keep the leftover rice to serve with (or in, as people prefer) the tacos.

Cooking the Books: Perfect Fried Rice from Heather Osborn

After I posted Sasha’s Tortilla Soup recipe last week, I started thinking it would be fun to post a recipe from a different publishing/industry professional each week. I thought, with Tuesday being the main release day in publishing, that would be the appropriate day for it. So Cooking the Books is born (with a nod to Shannon Stacey and Sarah Wendell for combining efforts to come up with the name). If there’s an industry professional you want to see share a recipe, let me know and I’ll nag ask them. (and if, you know, you happen to know someone who’s a good hand with whipping up a graphic I could use for something like this, that would be good too)

Early in January I was on Twitter (as I often am) bemoaning my ability to make good fried rice at home and Heather Osborn, executive editor at Samhain, popped up to say she had an awesome recipe. The perfect recipe, she said. I nagged her to send it to me and she agreed. Unfortunately, because I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home (and I’m gone again as this posts) I haven’t had a chance to test this out myself, but it’s on my menu for when I return! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Heather’s fried rice.

As you can see from the recipe below, I improvise quite a bit! Feel free to modify to your own tastes — as long as you follow the basic proportions, you should have some great fried rice! This recipe is really flexible and simple, so feel free to experiment with what you like best! Heather

INGREDIENTS:

Rice (2-4 cups, cooked and at least one day old. Fresh rice makes awful fried rice! It should be a bit dry. I usually use a medium grain Asian white rice, but a long grain would probably work okay as well.)

Meat (About 6 to 8 ounces, minimum, chopped small – maybe ¼ inch cubes?)

Onions/Green Onions (About ½ medium onion, diced same size as meat, or 3 to 4 green onions, chopped)

Oil (1-2 Tablespoons, or enough to coat the bottom of the pan)

Eggs (Depending on how much rice, between 2 to 4)

Soy Sauce (to taste)

Peas/Carrots (to taste – maybe 1-2 cups?)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat either wok or non-stick skillet on medium heat

(1), use enough oil to coat bottom of pan – 1-2 Tablespoons should be enough. When oil is hot, add meat and onion

(2). Saute until onion softens a bit – you don’t want to brown the onion, just make it translucent. Add rice and stir together. Now, let it cook for a couple minutes without stirring

(3). After a few minutes, stir the rice and let it sit for a few more minutes without stirring. Once you start seeing some of it crisp up a little bit and get a little color, add the soy sauce

(4). This is purely to taste. I tend to like my fried rice a bit salty, so I probably use close to a third of a cup, total. I suggest adding a few tablespoons, stirring and then tasting. You can always add more soy sauce when it’s done, so try not to go overboard now!

(5)Now for the eggs. Some people beat the eggs and then add them raw into the rice and stir to combine, which distributes the eggs throughout the rice. I prefer to scramble them in a separate pan and then add them to the rice already cooked. This makes for larger pieces of eggs, which I like. However you decide to do it, add your eggs now and stir to combine.

(6)Finally, add your peas and carrots. I use a bag of frozen peas or frozen peas & carrots. The heat of the fried rice will warm these up very quickly, so all you need to do is add them, stir to combine, and then after a minute or two, turn off the heat. Voila! Fried rice. Yum!

TIPS:

1. I just use a non-stick skillet – I don’t own a wok!

2. My mom used to add almost any sort of meat to this – left over chicken, pork, ribs, steak, etc. It’s a great way to re-use leftovers! The true Guamanian style fried rice uses Spam (1 can). That’s how I make it when I am craving it!

3. This part is super hard, because you really really want to stir! But resist! With a non-stick skillet, sticking shouldn’t be a problem, and you really want some of the rice to get crispy and lightly browned. Only some of it though – there’s no need to fry it to death!

4. For normal brands, I highly recommend Kikkoman. Good quality and taste. No LaChoy! Oh, and I don’t like the low sodium versions – I think it gives it a funny aftertaste. I’d rather just use less of the regular stuff.

Texas Salsa from Author Gail Dayton

Note: I imported all of my posts from Whipped Out but I’ve been trying to go through and grab tutorials and some of the recipes that I didn’t post, so we still have them. This was one of those.

Dec._010

Hi, y’all! Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Joyous [Insert your Holiday of Preference]!

I am a writer. Heart’s Blood (steampunk fantasy romance) will be out in January, but I actually spend more time cooking, taking care of family members and doing laundry than I do writing. (Cleaning? What’s that?) Yeah, I’m a writer, but I’m a wife and daughter and mom and grandmother first.

I’ve been enjoying the Whipped Out blog since it started, partly because it makes me think about cooking and creativity and other stuff. For instance:

Some folks talk about how America is becoming homogenized, and people eat the same things everywhere in the country—which is true. I love learning about and trying new recipes from all over the world, like many of you.

But eating patterns—especially favorites and holiday foods—are still regional, and cultural. I contend that a person’s culture can be determined by what they eat on holidays. For instance, if you eat latkes on Hanukkah, (of sweet potatoes or white) one can be fairly certain that you are Jewish. Those who eat haggis on Hogmanay have got to be Scottish, because who else would eat haggis? (I have tasted haggis, and actually, it’s not that bad. It’s not that great…but it’s not awful. It just sounds awful.)

And of course, if you have tamales on Christmas Eve and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, it’s a sure bet that you are a Texan. Texas is both part of the Old South and on the Mexican border, so we get both in our food culture. Even those with Spanish surnames who have been born and raised in Texas will eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s. They’re not going to pass up any chance for luck.

Being a Texan, I have made tamales from scratch—but they are definitely labor-intensive, so unless I have a big bunch of people available for the labor, I’ll hit up one of the local Mexican restaurants for my couple dozen Christmas Eve tamales, and make the salsa to go with them.

Pace Picante Sauce isn’t bad, if that’s all you can get, but even in the dead of winter, it’s just about as cheap to make your own, and it tastes a LOT better.

I made a batch of salsa last week, and thought of the Whipped Out gang, so I’m going to share the (very adjustable) recipe with y’all. (I only have pictures—of the end product—because I didn’t think of blogging about it till after it was cooking… You can see how full the pot was to start with. Also, notice how the chip isn’t sinking. The big pink-red tomato chunks are the tomatoes out of the can.) This batch made about a gallon of salsa. I had one quart jar, plus 3 quart-sized Tupperware containers full. Very full.

Dec._011

SALSA PICANTE

1. TOMATOES. Start with several pounds of tomatoes. Whatever’s cheapest and as ripe as you can get them. Roma, Beefsteak—anything but cherry (I don’t use them because they’re expensive and it’s hard to get enough, but if you have your own plants and your bowl runneth over, then use ‘em!). They all work. One summer I bought a whole flat of seconds at the fruit stand in Hedley, Texas for $4. They don’t have to be pretty. They can even be a little uber-ripe. If tomatoes are really expensive, you can fill in with cans of diced tomatoes. That works just fine. You will adjust your amounts of other things according to how many tomatoes you have.

In my most recent batch, I used about 4 pounds of fresh Roma tomatoes and two big cans of diced. (I should have bought petite diced, because the canned tomatoes were in Big chunks.) This batch filled my Dutch oven to the top before it started cooking.

2. ONIONS. Get about half as many onions as you have tomatoes, by size, not weight. If your pile of tomatoes fills your Dutch oven (before they’re chopped), then you’ll need onions to half fill it.

I used 1 1/2 of those big sweet 1015 onions in my recent batch. (They were Big onions. Smaller onions, I’d probably have used 2 1/2. I had a half onion sitting in my fridge already, waiting to be used, so I used it.)

3. JALAPENO PEPPERS. This is the tricky part. You will want about half as many peppers as you have onions. However. Peppers have varying amounts of heat depending on what season they were grown in, how big they are, and how hot it was. Really. Big fat early spring peppers are usually fairly mild. Little August peppers will turn your eyeballs inside out. Also, the real Heat of the pepper is in the seeds. If you want a milder salsa, buy the bigger peppers and take out all the seeds. If you want it hotter, look for the smaller peppers, and leave the seeds in. Even then, it’s still a guesstimate as to how hot the salsa will be. Because you just can’t tell.

I used two medium-sized jalapenos in my batch, and left in half the seeds. (I like a medium hot salsa—this came out perfect.)

4. CILANTRO. Also known as Chinese parsley, so if Mexican foods are less available where you are, look at the Asian foods. It’s sold by the bunch, like parsley, and has a very strong pungent flavor. Until it’s dried, then it has no flavor at all that I can tell. I like cilantro, but some people don’t, so you can adjust this to your taste. Still, I think a good salsa really needs some cilantro.

I used half the bunch of cilantro in my batch. (It’s Strong! I’m going to use the rest of it in a carne guisada, and in my black-eyed peas.)

5. SPICES. This is one of those “to taste” things. In my Dutch oven sized batch, I used: Oregano (preferably Mexican) – about 1 tablespoon

Salt – maybe a couple of teaspoons. (I didn’t really measure)

Ground cumin – about a teaspoon

Black pepper – just over half a teaspoon

Cayenne pepper – about half a teaspoon

6. VINEGAR. This goes in last, and I think gives the salsa a really tart edge that I like. It also makes it possible to can the salsa with a water bath process. (I usually freeze the extras, but I used to can it.)

This size batch needs at least a cup of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is the best with it, but you can use whatever vinegar you have. Larger batches need up to 2 cups.

To make it, you chop the tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro fine—I put them in my food processor and zizz them up till they’re chunky, but not too chunky. If you think a tortilla chip will have trouble dipping up a chunk, you might chop it some more. I usually do a couple of tomatoes plus half an onion, or a pepper, or a bunch of cilantro in each food processor batch. Tomato, plus something else. As you chop, dump it into your cookpot. You can go ahead and turn on the heat. It’s going to be cooking a long time. All the juices, everything goes in.

Once everything is chopped, add the spices and the vinegar, and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a fast simmer and let it cook. And cook, and cook. Don’t cover it. It’s going to be juicy enough it won’t stick, but you’ll want to come stir it every so often. Your whole house will smell Amazing.

Cook it down to a nice, thick sludge. It will still be plenty juicy, but thick salsas are best. I have likened properly thickened salsa to the mud pots at Yellowstone Park. Instead of bubbling, they sort of bloop.

When I make this in the summer (when tomatoes are cheap-ish), I usually start it cooking around 9 p.m., because it heats the whole house up so much. Then I cook it until I just can’t stay up any more. I made this winter batch in mid-afternoon, so I got it cooked down just right.

Once it’s thick, it’s ready to eat, put in jars to can, or stick in Tupperware to freeze. And yes, hot-from-the-stove salsa is good to eat just the way it is. Some restaurants serve it hot. It’s good any old way you want to eat it.

Bonus recipe: I make guacamole with my homemade salsa. Just mash up a ripe avocado with a few big spoons of salsa, a little Worcestershire sauce, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little extra garlic/garlic salt, and you have a Very Good guacamole. Yum!

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