Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles


I checked out Debbie Macombers Christmas Cookbook from the library.  Just out of curiosity, just to see if maybe there were some good Christmas recipes, cakes, breads etc.  Boy, was I surprised!  I found a recipe for Sesame Peanut Noodles, that is not only super easy, but quite tasty and quick, what a great easy dinner for when you just need something hot quick and delicious.

I am giving you the picture of ingredients, because, well, the actual sauce looks, well, like peanut butter sauce, I didn't have any peanuts or scallions to garnish, so I decided to omit the finished product picture.  Debbie Macomber's book didn't even have a picture!  If you don't have all the ingredient, just omit or improvise, taste and adjust.  It is a bit of a list, but substitue, make it your own!

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

Sauce ingredients:

1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp peeled, chopped, ginger (I cheated and used jarred ginger)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp chili paste

1/2 lb vermicelli, linguine, or asian noodles of your choice
2 green onions, chopped
chopped peanuts, if desired

Cook pasta, rinse and drain, and place in bowl.  In a food processor or blender, process the first eight ingredients, until smooth.  If too thick, add a little more warm water.  Pour over noodles, sprinkle with onions and peanuts if desired.

I only used half the sauce, and I still have some leftover to use on a salad tomorrow!  Or, I have some chicken potstickers in mind that may taste really good with this poured over it.

I am so pleased to have found this recipe, and I hope you enjoy it too.



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Pizza



There is a fabulous pizza joint my friend and Amy and I frequent.  Well, we frequent it only about once a month, but that's frequent for us!!  Anyway, Michaels Pizza has this wonderful menu item:  Sweet and Salty Pizza.  Its gorgonzola and pear or peaches, with just a little prosciutto, and is it fabulous!  I am pretty embarrassing to sit with when I eat it, quite often moans of gustatory pleasure sneak out, sounds that should never be heard outside of the bedroom, this pizza is that good.

Well, I had some gorgonzola in my fridge, some sweet red onions, and since it was pizza night, I decided to make myself a pizza that I liked.  I hoped it would turn out at least edible, I was very surprised that it was extremely tasty!  Yes, I will be making this pizza again!  I did choose to use convenience foods with this, but, feel free to use your homemade crust or sauce.  A fruity red wine went great with this pizza also!

Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Pizza

1 thin premade pizza shell (Boboli etc)
Gorgonzola cheese (amount is left to your discretion)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
honey
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese

First caramelize the onion, in a small skillet, heat a little oil on med, add the onions.  When transparent and starting to brown, reduce to medium and sprinkle the sugar.  Stir often so they don't burn, keep an eye on them!  When brown and nearly done, turn heat to low and pour just a drizzle of honey over the onion.  Stir until the honey heats up and coats the onion.  Take off heat.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on your shell, add a light sprinkling of mozzarella, then evenly distribute your onions all over your pizza.  Pull chunks of gorgonzola off with your fingers and dot it all over the top of your pizza, add as much or as little as you like.  I baked mine in a 450 oven for about 7 or 8 minutes, until everything was melted and bubbly.  Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes, then enjoy!!


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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Smoked Hog Jowls

Hog jowls, pre-cure, raw

So I had this wild hair about smoking my own hog jowls after seeing that Crooked Gap Farm had some available, and also, I found a package at my local grocery store and of course thought to myself, I can do that!  I have smoked porked bellies, and this was basically the same.

I purchased about 5 lbs of jowls, I had assumed that they would be in one whole half moonish piece, well, they were not.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the packages and realized I had a large pile of jowl pieces.  But, too late, already thawed them and had to do something, so in the usual Merry method, I just plowed on, damn the torpedoes! yadda yadda yadda...

My cure mix per pound was thus:

1 Tbsp Morton's Quick cure
1 tsp maple sugar (or use brown sugar)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

After mixing the cure ingredients together and thoroughly coating each piece, I divided the lot and placed them in two gallon ziplocks and placed them flat in the fridge.  Since it was pieces, the curing would not take as long.  So everyday, for about 4 days, I turned each bag over, and well, I did massage them a little.

After 4 days, I rinsed them, fried up a little piece, and decided I needed to soak them in water a little to get rid of some of the saltiness.   After soaking a few hours, I drained them, blotted them with a paper towel, and left them out to surface dry while I got my smoker ready.  I chose not to let them dry overnight, and I thought it turned out fine.

My smoker is just the standard bullet style hot smoker, I started my fire, let it burn down, then added applewood chips to my smoke pan, I chose to dry smoke, as I didn't want to so much cook, basically to render down a bit and absorb the smoke.  I started with applewood chips, added applewood sticks to my coals whenever my heat started to fade, and chose to finish up with a little handful of hickory in the smoke pan, since these weren't going to smoke for a long long time.

It only took about 2-3 hours to smoke them to my satisfaction.  I did have to turn them frequently as the pieces are thin, and I didn't want them to cook, just to dry out and absorb some smoke flavor.


After smoking


After smoking, I placed them on a cookie sheet, not touching each other, and froze them so I could just pull out one piece at a time instead of having to thaw out and commit myself to using a whole bag.

So, how will I use these?  Well, some of the pieces are very much like pieces of ham, so I could fry those up for breakfast, but as I was smoking these, I thought a great way to use them would be for flavoring pieces.  Throw a piece in a pot of pinto beans or greens, or even a small piece in green beans as they are cooking.  Diced up small, and sauteed with an onion would be a great addition to your baked beans. 

But, by far, the best way I have used these was as a salad topping.  I prepared a green salad, adding a chopped up apple, and I made a simple honey mustard vinegrette.  I took one piece of frozen smoked hog jowl, chopped it up small, fried it, let it cool slightly and topped my salad.  Beats the heck out of that imitation bottle of bacon bits I can tell you!

Actually, any way that you use bacon as a flavoring agent, would be a good way to use these, and a bit more tasty as the pieces are thicker and have a more robust flavor than that piece of wimpy grocery store bacon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Butter Bread

So sorry for the absence!  I was getting ready for, then going on, a super-sized quilt shop hop.  We went to 12 shops in 6 states in 3 days, talk about power shopping!  But it was fun, and as an added gift with purchase, I also caught the bus trip crud, and spent the next week or so hacking and coughing.  But all is better now and I plan to post a bit more regularly!

I ran across this recipe at some point in the last week, and kept telling myself to give it a try, as I had a rather large jar of pumpkin apple butter that I needed to use, so today was the day.  I really enjoyed this quick bread made with my homemade pumpkin apple butter, but I think it would be equally delicious made with apple butter, or really any fruit butter you have on hand.  This is so tweaked about from the original recipe that it is now my own, so I won't even give you the original.

Apple Butter Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
3/4-1 cup apple butter
3/4 c buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients, then mix in wet ingredients.  Pour into a greased loaf pan, I had enough to also make a little mini loaf pan, bake for 1 hour 5 minutes, but check it near the end, as your oven may vary.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then tip out and cool.

This would be a lovely tea bread, as it is not too sweet, and would be wonderful spread with a little of that cultured butter I know you all made!