Thursday, February 27, 2014

Foodie Friday -- February 28th

 
 Welcome to Foodie Friday, where great food is always on the menu.
 
Another Polar Blast is terrorizing the countryside, depleting our propane tank and sending us shivering under the blankets. We've distracted ourselves by watching a marathon of History Channel's Vikings (season 2 begins tonight), along with plenty of heartwarming food. 
 
 
I made pulled pork sandwiches with herb-caper slaw...
 
...and Bandwidth opted for an open-faced cornbread sandwich.
 
 
Adapted from a recipe in The Best of Fine Cooking: Roasting 
 
Smoked Pork Po'Boys with Herb-Caper Slaw
 
                                                                                         Serves: 4
1- 7lb pork shoulder, smoked 4 hours (spritz with water every hour)
Pork Rub: Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 French baguettes
1 bag cabbage slaw mix, approximately 2 cups
1/4 purple cabbage, thinly sliced
4 small red peppers, smoked 20 minutes and chopped (you'll need 3 Tablespoons)
1 1/2 Tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sliced red onion
3 Tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Plus extra olive oil to drizzle on the sandwiches
1/2 teaspoon honey (granulated sugar is fine, too)
few drops fresh lemon juice
garlic salt (to taste, approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
A few drops of Tabasco--more if you dare
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
 
 
Shred the pork.
The recipe called for oven roasted pork, but Bandwith never misses an opportunity to use his new smoker, no matter if it's raining or snowing. That's a sign of a dedicated foodie. It took four
hours and constant coddling to smoke the pork. But it was worth it. Bandwith also smoked tiny red peppers for about 15-20 minutes, and they were so good, I began to gobble them up, and he chased me away. Personally, if I made a po'boy sandwich with smoked peppers, I'd live happily ever after.
 
While the meat "collects" itself, mix the slaw. I added honey, garlic salt, small red peppers (roasted) and Tabasco--if you want the original recipe for the vinaigrette, click HERE.
 
Cut the baguettes in half, then split each half, leaving a "hinge" in the back.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the bread. Pop the bread into the oven and broil until brown. Add the shredded pork. Pile slaw on top.
Using a spoon, gather extra liquid from the slaw and drizzle pan juices over the pork. Juice from the slaw is a delicious addition, too.
How simple is that?

 
 
Bandwidth created an open-faced, composed sandwich, using a thin layer of cornbread as a base, then adding the pork and slaw. It was truly delicious, and a great variation if you're not in the mood for a baguette and need something down-home and comforting--nothing says "home" like cornbread, no matter how it's served.
 

 
For dessert, you might want to try a super easy berry tart.
The recipe can be found HERE.

 
 
If you are contributing a recipe to this week's Foodie Friday, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only.
 
You can read a complete guide to this linky party HERE
 
Pretty please do not pin images from the FF thumbnails. Visit the source blogs. Thanks.
   
If you'd like to share your daily or weekly food photos, join the Pinterest foodie board, Consuming Passions.
 
Every Friday, we are joined at this big, virtual table--thank you for stopping by today. I'm grateful to all of you who spend your days cooking. I'm grateful to old and new friends who contribute recipes every week. I'm grateful to friends who leave a comment. I'm grateful for the silent folks, because you are brought here by your love of all things culinary. We are food people. And that's a marvelous thing. 
 
Until next time,
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Tart for Winter-Weary Cooks

Last fall, Bandwidth and I planted pansies and ornamental kale in the flower beds. It took a whole weekend to get them into the rocky ground. Months later, the Polar Blast marched through Tennessee. In just a few hours, my winter flowers looked as if they'd been stomped flat. Cold temperatures had become an enemy, one that I loathed and feared.
 
Now, it's the end of February, a sunny, winter morning, but cold. Mother Nature seems to be saying, "Hang in there." One season is ending and another, better one is beginning. Daffodils will push through the ground. The trees will turn green. I will drive to the nursery and buy sturdy plants. The grocery store produce section will fill with color.
Until then, I will buy anemic fruit and conjure spring in my kitchen.
 
I associate this tart with comfort and love, because my mother used to have it waiting when I came home from school (but she made the pastry from scratch). It's a little taste of spring that will get you in the mood for warmer weather. Best of all, it's super easy to make, the kind of dessert that you can put together right before a dinner party.
 
I was thrilled with the result,
even though I ate way too much and derailed my diet for the next 100 years.
 
 
The fresh mint smelled so sweet, I couldn't help but toss it all over the dessert.
 
 
 
A Tart for Winter-Weary Cooks
                                                                             Printable Recipe                             
 
1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, defrosted
1 box each of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries
Jell-O vanilla instant pudding mix
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 8 oz carton mascarpone
1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like mascarpone)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 egg (for egg wash)
few drops of fresh lemon juice
few tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
fresh mint
 
Preheat oven according to instructions on the puff pastry box. (I put my oven on 380).
Roll out each square of puff pastry dough. Place first square on a greased baking pan. Place second sheet on top of the first. Beat the egg. Brush pastry edges with the egg wash.
Bake 15 minutes or until pastry is brown. Remove from oven and cool.
The pastry will be unbelievably poofy, but it will deflate later on. Trust.
Meanwhile, make the pudding according to instructions on the box. Chill.
Mix the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and cream. I used a wire whisk.
Spread the mascarpone mixture onto the top layer of the cooled pastry, deflating the poofiness somewhat. Spread the pudding over the mascarpone. Arrange berries on top of the pudding and sprinkle the whole thing with powdered sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with sweet-smelling mint.
Serves: 8 (if they have normal appetites). Otherwise, it's half for you and half for me.
 
 
 
Wherever you are today, I hope it's sunny and you have something sweet on your plate.
 
 
Love,
                                                     xoxo

 
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Foodie Friday: February 21st

Welcome to the February 21st Foodie Friday, where good food
is always on the menu.
 
Life has been calm and sweet this past week, mainly because Zap is feeling better.
I've stayed close to home, so Bandwidth and I have been Binge-Watching House of Cards on Netflix.
Have you seen it? If not, I'd describe it as a cross between Game of Thrones and Dallas,
with a little Dexter thrown in for good measure.
 
I took a break and made a roasted tomato tart, inspired by a recipe at Real Simple.  I made some tweaks and added a balsamic reduction. It's so good, you might want to serve it as a meatless entrée--and it's easy.
  
 
Tomato Tart with Balsamic Reduction
 
                                                                 Serves: 6 to 8
 
8 large tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella
2 Pepperidge Farm Frozen puff pastry Sheets (thawed)
basil and thyme
olive oil
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
white granulated sugar
Tabasco (optional)
garlic salt
balsamic vinegar
12 inch tart pan
 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
While the oven heats, slice tomatoes 1" thick and place on thick layers of paper towels for 30 minutes. This will help prevent a soggy crust. 
 
Another tip to reduce moisture: blot the fresh mozzarella with paper towels. Slice the cheese into half moons and place on paper towels.
 
 Place the tomato slices on a greased baking pan.
Drizzle slices with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, pinches of sugar, garlic salt, a few drops of Tabasco. Add thyme sprigs. Roast the slices about 30 minutes or until the edges are nicely browned. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
 
Reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
 
Roll out the defrosted puff pastry sheets (it took 2 sheets for my 12" tart pan). Trim excess
pastry and crimp edges. Arrange layers of tomatoes and mozzarella over the pastry. Season with
salt and pepper again. Drizzle olive oil over the cheese and tomatoes.
Beat 1 egg and brush it around the edges of the crust.
 
Bake tart for 20 - 25 minutes (or until the crust is brown).
Remove pan from oven. If you notice any liquid between the tomatoes, blot it with paper towels.
 
 
If desired, make a balsamic vinegar reduction. Pour 1/2 cup vinegar into a pan
and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and reduce the liquid for 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir now and then.
 Using a fork, drizzle the sauce over the tomatoes.
Garnish with fresh thyme and basil.
 
Next time I make this tart, I'll add crumbled bacon.
 

 
If you are contributing a recipe to this week's Foodie Friday, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only.
 
You can read a complete guide to this linky party HERE
 
Pretty please do not pin images from the FF thumbnails. Visit the source blogs. Thanks.
   
If you'd like to share your daily or weekly food photos, join the Pinterest foodie board, Consuming Passions.
 
 
 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Foodie Friday: Valentine's Day

 Few people can resist the allure of chocolate.

 Each bite delivers a beguiling mixture of romance, comfort, elegance, and a touch of the forbidden.
  

  Chocolate is an all-purpose cure.
It soothes the heart and adds sweetness to a sour afternoon.


 If you need a teeny bit of excitement, chocolate will provide it. 


 If you need the perfect end to an imperfect day, chocolate will not disappoint.


Dense, aromatic, and flavorful,
chocolate is the little black dress of the dessert world, suitable for any occasion,
not just Valentine's Day.

  
Ask any question, and
Ghiradelli Chocolate is the answer.



You might be looking for Valentine's Day ideas, so Foodie Friday is a little early this week. If you are contributing a recipe today, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only. If you'd like to share your daily or weekly food photos, join the Pinterest foodie board, Consuming Passions.

** For a complete, UPDATED guide to this linky party, click HERE.

Note: Chocolate for this post was provided by Ghiradelli.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Foodie Friday and The Mystery Ingredient Club

 
Welcome to Foodie Friday
and
The Mystery Ingredient Club.
 
The "secret" ingredient was chocolate. Bandwidth kindly made a chocolate
soufflé with a lovely ganache--a Gordon Ramsay recipe, which you can find HERE.
 
I am deeply grateful to all of the kind, consoling comments that you all left last week.
Zap is home from the hospital. You can read about that right HERE.
 
If you are contributing a recipe to this week's Foodie Friday, locate the blue Inlinkz icon in the lower, left-hand portion of this post. Click on the icon and follow the directions. After you complete the process, you will see a red "x" beside your name. This allows you to delete your link if you made an error; the red "x" is visible to you only.
 
Pretty please do not pin images from the FF thumbnails. Visit the source blogs. Thanks.
 
For a complete, UPDATED guide to this linky party, click HERE.
 
 
 
x

Update: Zap's Home from the Hospital

 
 
They say the universe is connected by a spidery cloud, one that resembles the axons in our brains, and human beings might be a part of it. Some part of us may rise from Earth, weave through those interstellar clouds, and connect with a higher consciousness.
 
But isn't that what my mama and grandmamma have always known?
 
When I was a child, if I asked a question about the hereafter, the right answer was God.
 
God knows what we want and what we need. He has always known and always will. 
 My sweet Zap, the bravest Yorkie the world has ever known, is in kidney failure.
Last week, when Zap was admitted to the hospital, the vet, a long-faced woman with a clipped bedside manner said, "He doesn't have long. When he goes home, enjoy him."
 
How long is long?
I probably should have asked, "How long is a piece of string?"
 
How could this be happening? His blood chemistry was fine only a few months ago. Surely if the Lord sees the sparrow fall, He was bound to see Zap, too.
 
My grandmother always said that if you work hard, and if your heart is true, the Lord will put you on the right road.
 
 I'm finding this road mighty rocky.
 
Twenty four hours later, Zap came home. His BUN and creatinine levels had
dropped to near-normal levels. A different vet gave a better prognosis. I hoped the Gloom-and-Doom vet would be wrong. And, with fluid therapy, Zap would have a fighting chance.
 
The next morning, we returned to the vet for a blood test, and Zap's levels had risen a little. The Gloom-and-Doom doc was on duty, and the prognosis was grim.
 
 
We were sent home with a prescription diet and IV bags of Ringer's Lactate. The assistant taught me how to administer subcutaneous fluids, which have been done every day.
Tyler's biochemistry degree was a blessing, because I would have never figured out the "math" of the prescription diet and the insulin dosage. Tyler weighs Zap's food and water and keeps a record.
So far, Zap has had good days and bad days.
 I haven't left the little guy's side.
I put too much hope into little things: the way Zap rolls on his back when his
blood glucose is just right; the way his ears perk when one of his humans enters
or leaves a room. When he's feeling well, he has a "well dog" look, even at rest. It's a certain kinesis, a kind of energy that brightens from the inside out.  
 
I put too much dread into scary things: if he hesitates before he eats; if he licks his lips (could
mean nausea).  The "sick dog" look is unbearable, as if that kinesis has drained away.
 It just breaks my heart.
 
We humans dread endings long before they come around.
Grief is irrational. It ignores logic and threats.
Grief is the desperate soul who climbs out of a window and stands on the ledge. You can't
"talk it down." You can't persuade it to climb back through the window. And yet . . .
grief exists for a reason: it's how we heal.
 
Still, I have to wonder ... is sadness a kind of selfishness?
But I don't know how avoid it. Even though Zap is curled up next to me, I can sense an absence, one
that's ready to swoop down and catch us all unaware.
 
If life is a journey, the beginning might be exciting, but the end can slap you to the ground and break you into pieces. In between, we move quickly, looking into the past or the future. But the middle part of a journey--the here and now--is the very best part, and it's irreplaceable.
We shouldn't miss a thing. Not one thing.
  
 
I need to trust that God will carry me and Zap where we need to go.
We're never alone. The greater consciousness is all around us.
 
 

 
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