Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reed's Apple Pie

Several years ago my good friend, Reed Harrison, came on a family vacation with me to the beach.  It was a wonderful trip filled with more laughter than one could even imagine.  We sat by the pool by day, sometimes ventured to the beach, managed to get ourselves cleaned up and cook in during the evenings.  One afternoon Reed decided to add a few ingredients to the communal grocery list because she was going to make an apple pie.  It was the highlight of the trip!!!!!  Not because the pie was so incredibly wonderful, which it was, but because of the crazy disastrous mess that the kitchen turned into as Reed created her masterpiece.  There was flour in places that didn't even make sense.  Now granted, there might have been a daiquiri or a few beers had by the pool and as her sous chef, we may or may not have been perfectly competent to wield a pairing knife, but alas it was done and most everyone came out unscathed!

Some time later I asked Reed for this recipe when I was creating my first cookbook from friend's recipes.  Most of the time people would send me their recipes and I would clean them up a bit so that all the recipes were formatted the same way.  I could not...and would not...do that to Reed's recipe....it was comedy in cookbook form!  So, as to not diminish the integrity of her work of art, here it is....the famous, and sometimes infamous, Reed's Apple Pie....(you should be hearing drum rolls in the background)....

Reed's Apple Pie

1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar (“how come it tastes so good?”)
1 stick of butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 apples (I prefer Granny Smith)
3 tablespoons milk
Pie crust (I recommend Pillsbury’s pie crust in the red box, just add water...you may have to hunt in the grocery store because they usually store this in the least logical place humanly conceivable. Like with the oysters. And granted that I am occasionally a bit intoxicated when I have agreed to cook, my experience has been that sometimes this stuff is difficult to track down, but keep looking, b/c it’s there. Try to ask for help but not from the drooling cross-eyed stock boy because you are barking up the wrong tree entirely)

Mix the flour, brown sugar and the butter into the nice expensive bowl that you had on your registry. Don’t melt the butter in the microwave- I
know it’s tempting- but you want this mixture to be a little crumbly, not
liquidy. If your forearms are sore or you are in a hurry then melt it
slightly but don’t get carried away. Set aside.

*The Assembly Process*
Take the pie crust ball and split it in two. Set one half aside. Throw

flour everywhere...EVERYWHERE. Flatten one half with a rolling pin and set
the final product inside a pie tin. It should cover the edge but not hang
over on the side (like your love handles will after you eat this thing).
Thinly slice the apples and create a layer.
Dust with the sugar mixture.
Add a layer of the crumbly mixture.
Do this until all of one of the ingredients are gone and you can’t add any more layers or until you hit the top of the pie tin.
Add the 3 tablespoon of milk- just sort of sprinkle on top creates cohesion. With the second ball of dough, roll it out and cut strips...now get creative, mark it with a “B”, do a basket weave, make a dough shaped picture of yourself naked, whatever.

Bake at 425ish (I know this is a crucial detail but eh! what can I say,
I’m not sure, ask Ruth) for an hour or so, I usually just keep an eye on
it. You want the crust to brown and the inside to solidify...use a toothpick
to check it.
Serve with a side of vanilla ice cream and an insulin shot.

*Sprinkly Topping (I have no idea what the technical term would be,
hence perhaps why no one is lining up to marry me and have me cook for
them)* Mix the regular white sugar and the nutmeg.

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Creamy Cajun Chicken Linguine and a Caesar Salad

The other night I was looking for something to cook for some friends that would warm us up from the unseasonably cool weather we have been having lately.  A friend of mine at work suggested a cajun shrimp dish that she had made recently.  As I wasn't really in the mood for seafood, I decided to switch out the shrimp for some chicken and andouille sauage as the pasta sounded wonderful!  When the original recipe said that the best thing to complement this meal would be a Caesar salad, I knew exactly what I was going to make. 

To me there is nothing better than friends gathering around the table for a meal.  Here is what we had...

Creamy Cajun Chicken and Sausage Linguine

6 ounces uncooked linguine
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 package Cajun style andouille sausage, cubed
3 tablespoons butter
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, cut into (1/4-inch-thick) slices
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook pasta according to directions on the package.
In a large skillet, brown the sausage in a little bit of olive oil. 
Remove the sausage once browned and set aside. 
Add the chicken and a tablespoon of butter to the sausage dripping and cook until done.
Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from skillet and set aside with the sausage.  To the pan add the remaining butter, mushrooms and bell peppers and sauté 4 minutes or until moisture evaporates.
Add flour, seasoning, and salt to pan; sauté 30 seconds.
Stir in half-and-half; cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.
Add sausage and chicken back into the pan and stir to coat. 
Remove from heat. Add pasta mixture and parsley to pan; toss.

Then there is the Caesar salad.....oh my favorite!  I have long been an afficionado of Caesar salads and can, as a general rule, tell how the food is going to be at a restaurant based on their Caesar salad.  This is by far my favorite salad.  The dressing must not be too thick, but not runny. The lettuce needs to be cool and crisp and the croutons just have to be present!  I am a huge fan of homemade salad dressings and typically do not like any dressing that comes from a bottle (as many of my friends will attest to).  When I started looking through the Two Dudes One Pan cookbook that I have already mentioned in this blog, I came across this recipe and knew it had potential.  It called for all the right ingredients, the raw egg yolk, the anchovies and the Parmesan cheese!  Of course that "potential" quickly became what I now know as my favorite Caesar dressing.

Real Caesar Dressing
(According to Two Dudes One Pan)
1 large egg yolk
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 anchovy fillet, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Whisk the egg yolk with the garlic, anchovy, shallot, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco, mustard salt and pepper in a large bowl. 
While whisking, drizzle in three quarters of the oil and then whisk in the vinegar and the cheese. 
Taste the dressing and add more oil if you prefer a thinner Caesar dressing. 
Refrigerate until serving. (Because of the raw eggs, this dressing must be used the same day that it is made.)
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Marguerite's Hashbrown Potato Casserole

For anyone who grew up in the South you are well aware of the deliciousness that is Hashbrown Casserole!  It is another recipe that, in its own way, combines my two favorites, cheese and potatoes.  My aunt has been making this recipe for years and any time she makes it there are rarely any leftovers.  I made this several hours in advance and then just popped it in the oven when I was ready.  It is easy to put together, it is always a crowd pleaser and it is a great side to any cookout or family gathering.

Marguerite's Hashbrown Potato Casserole

1 (32 oz.) package frozen shredded hashbrown potatoes or one pound of fresh potatoes
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2  cups corn flakes
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (optional)

Combine potatoes, 1/2 cup butter, onion, soup, sour cream, and cheese; stir well.  
Spoon into a greased 2 1/2 quart casserole.  Crush cereal and stir in the remaining butter.  Sprinkle the cereal over top of casserole.  Bake at 350 or 50 minutes.  Garnish with parsley if desired.  Serves 10 to 12 people.
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Triscuits and Onions

If you have ever come to Sunday Dinner with my family it is entirely likely that you have had triscuits and onions.  For as long as I can remember my grandmother has been making these, then they turned into family favorite with my immediate family and now we have them all the time!  I like to put a few of these together whenever I am having people over as it contains ingredients that I usually have on hand. 

This recipe doesn't really have quantities as it totally depends on how many you want, but here are the basics:

Slice sharp cheddar cheese into squares.  On to the triscuits add a dollop (that is a technical term by the way) of spicy brown mustard.  Top the mustard with finely diced onions.  Place the cheese on top of the onions and broil on low in the oven until the cheese is melted.....HEAVEN!!! 
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Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

This is one of those appetizers that seem to be too complicated to tackle until you actually try it then you realize it is simple, easy and takes little time to prepare.  You can find a multitude of these recipes in most southern cookbooks and each online recipe site will have some version, but I like to keep it simple!

Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

1 puff pastry
1 wheel of brie
1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry preserves (whichever you prefer or have on hand)
1 egg

Thaw out the puff pastry and lay flat on a clean surface.  Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry, pour the preserves on top of the brie and fold edges of the puff pastry up to meet at the top.  Pinch the edges together to create a sealed seam.  Brush the top of the puff pastry with a lightly beaten egg (this will help it to brown and look pretty). 
Bake in the oven (seam side up) at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes. 
Serve warm with crackers.

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Cantaloupe Mint Prosciutto Salad

My best friend's mother, Lynn, made this salad for me a few years ago and now every time the cantaloupes look like they might be ripe and tasty, I am inspired to make this delicious salad.  It is the perfect combination of salty and sweet that is the perfect refreshing salad with a heavy meal.  In the spring and summer, when I have an abundance of mint growing in the garden it is also the perfect way to use a bunch of the mint....of course a mojito works just as well for that, but you get the point!

Cantaloupe, Mint, Prosciutto Salad

1 cantaloupe, balled
1 bunch fresh mint, cut into strips
1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto ham, cut into strips
1 package fresh mozzarella balls, drained
olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine the cantaloupe, mint, ham and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil over top.  With salad tongs, mix well.  Serve chilled.

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Broccoli Supreme

When you are in the mood to kick up your "vegetable with dinner" here is a casserole you must try.  It is packed full of broccoli, carrots, artichokes and mushrooms and lends itself well to most entrees. 

Broccoli Supreme

1 (10 oz.) package frozen broccoli, or one large crown fresh broccoli
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts,drained and quartered
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cup shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup melted butter
fine bread crumbs
garlic powder
Parboil the chicken and carrots (I usually put them in separate bowls, add a little water to each bowl and zap in the microwave for 1 minute apiece.  Drain and set aside.  

Place artichokes in a buttered, shallow 9-inch casserole.  
Combine soup, mayo, eggs, lemon juice and Worcestershire, mix well.  
Combine soup mixture with broccoli, carrots and mushrooms.  
Pour over artichokes.  
Sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs.  
Pour melted butter over top.  
Sprinkle with garlic powder.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

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