Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Granola Peanut Butter Balls

2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 cups granola
2 to 4 tablespoons milk, or as needed

In a large bowl, mix together the honey and peanut butter. Using a spatula, stir in the granola. Add enough milk to just moisten--you want it to stick together. Form into balls. Chill until ready to serve.

Curried Cashews

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups roasted salted cashews

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a small skillet, then add the curry powder, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Toss the cashews with the curry butter on a baking sheet, spread the nuts in a single layer. Bake until the nuts are hot and shiny, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Beer Can Chicken with Cola Barbecue Sauce

1 (12-ounce) can beer
1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken
2 tablespoons Basic Barbecue Rub, recipe follows
2 cups Cola Barbecue Sauce, for serving, recipe follows
3 to 4 handfuls apple or hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Pop the tab off the beer can. Using a church key style can opener, make a few more holes in the top of the can. Pour out half the beer into the soaking water of the wood chips. Set the can of beer aside.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat the grill to high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.

Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water, drain, and blot dry inside and out with paper towels. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the rub inside the body and neck cavities of the chicken. Rub the bird all over on the outside with 2 teaspoons of the rub. If you have the patience, you can put some of the rub under the skin being careful not to tear it.

Spoon the remaining 2 teaspoons of rub through the holes into the beer in the can. Don't worry if it foams up, this is normal. Insert the beer can into the body cavity of the chicken and spread out the legs to form a sort of tripod. Tuck the wing tips behind the chicken's back.

When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss all the wood chips on the coals. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour.

Using tongs, carefully transfer the chicken in its upright position on the beer can to a platter and present it to your guests. Let rest 5 minutes, and then carefully remove the chicken from the beer can. Take care not to spill the hot beer or otherwise burn yourself. Quarter or carve the chicken and serve with the Cola Barbeque Sauce.

Basic Barbecue Rub:

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon hickory salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to blend together. Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat or light. It will keep for at least 6 months.

Cola Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup cola (recommended: Coca-Cola)
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
3 tablespoon steak sauce (recommended: A-1 Steak Sauce)
1 teaspoon onion flakes
1 teaspoon garlic flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy non-reactive saucepan and gradually bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat slightly to obtain a gentle simmer. Simmer the sauce until reduced by 1/4, about 6 to 8 minutes. Use right away or transfer to a large jar, cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for several months.

Barbecued Texas-Style Beef Brisket

1 (4-pound) beef brisket, trimmed
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
1 tablespoon granulated onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Mesquite wood chips Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows

Set the brisket on a large sheet of plastic wrap. In a medium bowl combine the dark brown sugar, kosher salt, paprika, granulated garlic, granulated onion, black pepper, cayenne pepper and cumin. Rub the mixture onto the brisket and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Soak mesquite wood chips in a large bowl of water for 1 to 2 hours. Remove, drain and set aside.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Prepare a stove-top smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove the plastic wrap and place the brisket on the rack over low heat. Close the lid and smoke for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Remove the meat from the smoker and wrap in a large sheet of heavy aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until meat is tender and an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 140 to 145 degrees F, about 3 to 4 hours. Remove the meat from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before carving the meat against the grain.

Serve with Barbecue Sauce on the side for dipping.

Barbecue Sauce:

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and the flavors marry, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving.

Yield: about 2 1/2 cups

Deviled Eggs

6 eggs, hard boiled, cooled, and peeled
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
Hot pepper sauce
Salt and pepper
Variation: add 1 teaspoon chopped canned jalapeno peppers 4 radicchio leaves, for garnish 3 parsley sprigs, for garnish

Place the cooked egg yolks in a bowl. Using a fork, work the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, chives, and salt and pepper into the yolks to form a smooth paste. Taste. Place 1/2 of this mixture in a small pastry bag with a large star tip. To the remaining mixture, add the jalapenos and season with Hot pepper sauce. Fill 6 of the egg halves with the basic filling. Fill the pastry bag with the jalapeno filling. Fill the remaining egg white halves. Top with paprika. Place on a platter on the radicchio leaves, and parsley sprigs.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Homemade Potato Chips with Bleu Cheese and Chives

4 Yukon gold potatoes, about 2 pounds
Peanut oil, for frying
Kosher salt or Sea Salt
1 pound bleu cheese, finely crumbled
1 bunch chives, chopped

Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin 1/8-inch slices using a mandolin or sharp knife. Rinse the slices in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Drain them and pat them dry.

Put about 3 inches of oil into a large deep pot; it should not come up more than half way. Bring the oil up to 325 degrees F over medium-high heat. Working in batches, carefully add the potato slices, a dozen at a time. Stir them to make sure they are not sticking together. Fry until they are a golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and drain them well on paper towels; season with salt. Repeat with the remaining potato slices.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a layer of the chips onto a baking dish and sprinkle with some of the bleu cheese and chives. Place another layer of chips onto that and some more cheese and chives. Continue until you have used up all the chips and cheese. Put into the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Garnish with more chives.

Sweet Nutty Popcorn Treats

12 cups popped popcorn
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1 cup white chocolate chips

Lightly grease a large bowl and place the popcorn in it.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water and cook over medium heat to the soft ball stage, 235 to 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Off the heat very carefully, add the butter (it will boil furiously), stir in the chocolate and vanilla.

Very carefully, slowly pour the hot chocolate mixture over the corn, stirring to prevent from lumping. Continue stirring until the mixture is cooled and the popcorn is evenly coated. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine and coat. Turn out onto a silpat or a greased foil-lined sheet pan. Let cool, then store in airtight containers.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork

3 cups cubed peeled potatoes (Idaho or Yukon gold)
1 cup chopped onion
3 pound pork roast, trimmed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Arrange potatoes and onion in bottom of slow cooker. Place pork on top of potatoes and onion. Spread garlic all over pork.

In a medium bowl, whisk together water, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, mustard, black pepper and salt. Pour mixture over pork.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Slice pork crosswise into thin slices and serve 12 ounces for this meal. Serve with all of potatoes, onions, and sauce.

Chorizo, Bean and Cheese Nachos

1 pound Mexican chorizo, removed from casings and crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Homemade Tortilla Chips, recipe below, or large, restaurant style corn tortilla chips
1 1/2 cups grated pepper jack
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 small white onion, sliced into thin rings
5 large jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and chopped, or to taste
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large skillet, cook the chorizo, garlic, and cumin, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sausage is browned and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. To the fat in the pan, add the pinto beans, chili powder, salt, and 1 to 1 1/2 cups water (depending on the moisture in the beans). Cook over medium heat until warmed through, smashing with the back of a heavy wooden spoon or potato masher until chunky/smooth. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a large, oval ovenproof platter or in a large baking dish, spread 1 layer of chips. Top with a layer of 1/2 of the beans, then 1/2 of the sausage, cheeses, onion rings, and chopped jalapenos. Repeat with another layer of chips, beans, sausage, cheese, onions and jalapenos. Bake until the cheeses are melted and the mixture is hot, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and lime juice, with a pinch of salt. Drizzle over the nachos, garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.

Homemade Tortilla Chips:
9 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
4 cups corn or vegetable oil
Essence, recipe follows

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 360 degrees F.

In batches, add the tortillas to the oil, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook until golden brown, turning once, about 1 minute. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season lightly with Essence. Serve warm or use to make nachos.

Yield: 3 dozen chips

Essence (Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Pineapple-Avocado Salsa

1 cup 1/4-inch-dice fresh pineapple
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 firm-ripe West Indian avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno chile, including seeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Stir all ingredients together and season with salt, to taste.