Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Trio of Eggs Benedict

Hot Brown Benedict on the left
Corn Beef Hash Benedict on the right

We had a marvelous leisurely morning noshing on a trio of eggs Benedict.  The preparation was far simpler this morning after a bit of "investment cooking" yesterday.  Not to beat a dead horse, and considering that my Derby pick made a valiant effort and still lost, investment cooking is a terrific way to have a lovely meal without resorting to prepackaged mixes.

Investment recipes:
Kicked Up Mornay sauce:
Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. of unsalted butter and 1 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil over low heat in a large saucepan.  Whisk in 3 tbsp. of flour and cook a few minutes.  In a small sauce pan, heat 1 cup of 1 % milk  (see note) with one half of a small peeled onion, a bay leaf, and a half dozen of whole black peppercorns, over gentle heat, do not scald. Strain hot milk into a quart measuring cup (discard solids) and add one teaspoon (or cube) of chicken base and stir to mix.  Off the heat, stir the seasoned hot milk into the butter/oil/flour mixture.  Back over low heat, cook slowly whisking all the time until thickened.  Add 1 tsp of worchestershire sauce, 1 tbsp of dijon mustard, a generous scraping of nutmeg and one cup of shredded parmesan cheese.  Stir well, reserve.

Note: for each tablespoon for flour and equal tablespoon of fat (bacon grease, oil, butter, schmaltz) and an adjusted liquid measure of liquid of choice will determine the the thickness of the creamy base.  For a souffle base, I use only 3/4 cup of liquid to basic flour/butter mix to make a very thick base.  For a sauce base, I use 1 1/2 cups liquid to flour/butter mix to make a sauce for the cheese sauces to drape sandwiches, macaroni, eggs bennie, roasted veggies.  For a cream soup base, I would use 2 1/2 cups of milk and/or liquid stock to create the creamy soup.

Base Recipe:
Blender Hollandaise
4 egg yolks
2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
!/2 tsp of salt
generous pinch of white pepper
1 cup of melted butter
Melt butter until foaming (not browned), add in a slow stream to egg yolks, lemon juice and seasoning in a blender cup base. Blend until foamy and thickened. Reserve in a thermos.

Egg poaching:
In a deep skillet of simmering water, add 1 tbsp. of white vinegar to the three inches of simmering water.  Break in whole eggs and cook until just below a solid yolk setting.  don't poach more than four eggs to control doneness.  Whites firm and yolks runny is the goal.  Use a slotted spoon to remove eggs from poaching liquid, drain well, before topping toasted English muffin.

Now it is all a matter of assembly:

Eggs Benedict
One English muffin, split and toasted
4 slices of Canadian Bacon, pan fried in a touch of butter
2 poached eggs, well drained
1/2 cup of hollandaise sauce

Split and toast muffin.  Top with two pieces of Canadian bacon.  Gently position poached eggs and ladle hot hollandaise over eggs.  Serve.

Hot Brown Benedict
One English muffin, split and toasted
2 thick slices of roasted deli turkey, heated gently
2 slices of fresh tomato
2 slices of precooked bacon
1/2 cup of "investment" mornay, slowly heated with a bit of  extra minced turkey and bacon with a 1/4 cup of sharp grated cheese stirred in to emphasize the "Hot Brown" aspect of the eggs Derby style.

Split and toast muffin.  Top with thick tomato slices, season with salt and pepper.  Top with turkey slices.  Position eggs gently on top.  Ladle hot seasoned mornay over eggs.  Add a criss-cross of bacon slices.  Serve.

Corned Beef Benedict
One English muffin, split and toasted
1 can of Corn beef hash heated
2 poached eggs
1/2 cup of hollandaise

Split and toast muffin.  Top with poached eggs.  Top with hollandaise mixed with the heated crumbled hash.

Notyourmomma's Kitchen Tampa Bay restaurants

Mother's Day Musings

Mother's Day is a bittersweet holiday for me.  I have often felt my life only began when our first child was born and I became a mother.  Tyler arrived far too early and was severely handicapped from birth injury.  Learning to love and care for this precious exceptional child forced this perfectionist-driven and highly impatient person to open her heart to the gift of unconditional love. His life required numerous hospitalizations and hours upon hours of therapy. However, Tyler's compromised health and limited physical abilities never impaired his capacity to love.  His expressive eyes and winsome smile spoke volumes and conveyed his joy of being with his family.
This formerly impatient and often critical woman waited nine and a half years to hear her boy speak. God had granted me patience and had shown me the beauty and inherent grace in imperfections.  Tyler used an augmentative communication device or AAC, programmed for his needs, to pick out phrases and then "voice" them with a press of a button, mounted on his wheel chair head array.  When given a menu of 30 phrases to choose from, he chose "Mom, I love you" as his 'first' spoken words. They were some of the sweetest words I've ever heard.  How I long to hear him again.  I miss him so much.

Of course, by finally giving Tyler a voice, it was another window into the fascinating workings of his mind.  We always appreciated his smile and infectious laugh, but now, he had a voice and could joke.  I'll never forget one time, when Tyler kept saying "Mom" over and over again. It was rather like a scene from Family Guy, with the notable exception that he did not stop at the 45 second mark, but kept up the "Mom" entreaty for 45 minutes.  I kept asking him, "did he need a drink?" Big Tyler grin.  "Do you want out of the wheelchair?" Big Tyler grin.  "Are you hungry?"  Bigger Tyler grin. "Mom. Mom. Mom."  I was getting a little weary of the "moms" by now and told Tyler, "I'm going to take a nap on the  couch and when you can tell me what you want, I'll help you, but not until then!"  I stomped over to the couch and turned my back to him.   As I faced the wall, feeling a bit guilty, I could hear Tyler clicking his way though his dictionary and picking out words slowly but very deliberately.  After ten minutes of scanning and clicking, I hear....."Mom, BIG BUTT" and hysterical laughter.  Yes, Tyler, my love, momma has a big butt.  And my dearest angel, I still do.  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Hot Brown Pizza Pie!

Hot damn, it's a Hot Brown Pizza
The first Saturday in May is always a grand day of traditional Southern pursuits.  All in celebration of the fastest two minutes in sports, the "Run for the Roses", the Kentucky Derby.  Many fine Southern women search for weeks to find the perfect Derby chapeau, the more outlandish the better. It is one occasion that we can match the British with our elaborate millinery. Large and small parties are planned weeks before the race.  Mint will become scarce and vanish from the grocer's shelves in preparation for the flowing libations featuring Kentucky's finest bourbon. Traditionalists will plan on serving the legendary Hot Brown sandwich with their mint juleps.  A Hot Brown is a celebrated sandwich created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville Kentucky during the 1920's to feed the many late night reveler after a night of dancing.  It is said that the dancing guests would end the evening festivities in the Hotel restaurant and would be famished.  Chef Schmidt created the Hot Brown to satisfy the demanding crowd who was weary of ham and eggs. It is traditionally made with thick slices of toast, topped with turkey, slices of tomato, dressed with cheesy mornay sauce and crisp rashers of bacon.
I have for years made Hot Browns at home, the traditional way. This year, however, I decided to shake things up a bit and use all the traditional ingredients in a new way.  It was a rousing success.  
May I version of a Derby pie, the "Hot Brown Pizza."

  • One thin crust Boboli pizza crust
  • 1/3 lb. of thick cut roasted turkey breast, from the deli, diced
  • 7 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 ugli tomato, seeded, cut in dice
  • 1 cup of highly seasoned mornay sauce see below
  • 3/4 cup of shredded 4 cheese blend
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place Pizza stone in oven to heat for at least fifteen minutes.  The pizza stone preheated to smoking hot is crucial to creating a nice crisp to a pre-baked bread shell.

Make Mornay sauce while the pizza stone heats.  Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. of unsalted butter and 1 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil over low heat in a large saucepan.  Whisk in 3 tbsp. of flour and cook a few minutes.  In a small sauce pan, heat 1 cup of 1 % milk with one half of an onion, a bay leaf, and some whole black peppercorns, over gentle heat, do not scald. Strain hot milk into a quart measuring cup and add one teaspoon of chicken base and stir to mix.  Off the heat, stir the hot milk into the butter/oil/flour mixture.  Back over low heat, cook slowly until thickened.  Add 1 tsp of worchestershire sauce, 1 tbsp of dijon mustard and one cup of shredded parmesan cheese.  Stir well, reserve.

Pull heated stone from oven.  Quickly spread the thick mornay sauce over the crust.  Top with turkey, bacon and tomatoes.  Cover pie generously with finely shredded cheese.  Bake in hot oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  Watch carefully, you don't want it to burn.

It was gobbled up by the family in nearly the same amount of time it takes to run the race.  This recipe is a "Winning" bet.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Seafood roll-ups

A savory Mexican adaptation of my favorite meatless Italian rollups, this time with seafood and cheese and a chunky enchilada sauce instead of Italian gravy.  I know the prevailing rule is no cheese with seafood, but we like this spin on a creamy filling and briny seafood combination.

  • 12 lasagna noodles, par cooked and drained and patted dry
  • 16 oz. baby shrimp, frozen, defrosted patted dry
  • 16 oz of claw meat, don't bother with lump, refrigerator section please
  • 8 oz of cream cheese
  • 8 oz of monterey jack cheese
  • 8 oz of swiss cheese
  • 2 tbsp. of butter
  • 1 small green pepper minced
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 tsp of seasoning salt (or adobo seasoning my favorite)
  • 1 sm onion minced
  • 2 tsp garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • Large jar of smooth green chili sauce or
  • Chunky tomato salsa
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • Chopped black olives
  • Sour cream, guacamole, salsa as garnish

Saute the green pepper and onion and garlic until soft and wilted in some butter.

Mix shrimp, crab,onion, garlic, green pepper, and  seasonings, along with all the  cheeses.  Stir well.
Spread  a large spoonful on each lasagna noodle and roll up like a jelly roll.
Place seam side down in a greased lasagna pan.
Cover all rolls with a green enchilada sauce.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
Pull out of oven and top with 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese.
Put back in oven for 5 minutes more to melt the cheese.
Serve individual rolls,
Top with sour cream, olives, guacamole and salsa.
A green salad with lots of avocado and chopped tomatoes and a citrus vinaigrette works great with this dish.
I would make flan with caramel for dessert.

Roasted Ratatouille Perhaps

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients.  Julia Child (1912-2004)
I used to make enormous vats of ratatouille that would sit in a steam table all night and as the evening progressed the veggies would continue to cook until they were indistinguishable mush.  I HATED IT!  Now, when I get the urge for all the lucious goodness of fresh  veggies, I make ratatouille my way and it makes me very happy.   A roasted ratatouille in a way with the delightful addition of kalamata olives.  I would even serve this cold, with crumbled feta cheese as a salad course.  Eggplant is so underutilized and this is a good side dish.

1 medium eggplant, about 1 lb peeled & cubed
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium yellow bell pepper cut into chunks
1 small onion (or ½ cup) sliced
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 package of grape tomatoes, washed
1 cup Greek olives (kalamata)
2 large clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp oregano
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil

Place vegetable chunks and olives in a large bowl.
sprinkle herbs, salt & pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil over all, and toss to combine. spread vegetables in a greased, shallow baking pan.
400°F for 35 to 40 minutes, stir halfway through.
serve with freshly grated romano or parmesan cheese if desired.
or cool and serve with crumbed feta cheese and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley to brighten the  dish.

A convenient link to the local Saturday Morning Markets, with their hours of operation.

Eggplant on FoodistaEggplant

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Mexican Creamed Corn with red peppers and chipotle

Canned creamed corn is insipid and flavorless at best. Lightly grilling the corn on the cob before scraping the kernels into a cast iron skillet foaming with browned butter will add a lovely smoky flavor to a wonderful side dish.  In addition, the inclusion of red peppers, a chopped chipotle will increase the flavor factor ten-fold.  This is a lovely addition to your dinner table in celebration of fresh corn season, a Cinco de Mayo party or a Tabasco Fiasco Fiesta, as we fondly recall a party from our youth.  Don't ask.

8 medium ears of corn, husks and silks removed
3 tablespoons of butter
1/2 of a large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into small dice
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 chipotle chile, in adobo sauce minced
1 cup of heavy cream
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 of a lime squeezed.  About one tablespoon of lime juice
1 tablespoon of minced cilantro
If you do not like cilantro, please sub some flat leaf Italian parsley
2 tablespoon of cotija cheese, crumbled

Optional addition:  3 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
Of course, keep it vegetarian without the addition of bacon

Grill the corn over low/medium heat until the kernels are just lightly toasted.  Our goal is not to overbrown and cook the corn, it will be cooked more later in a cast iron skillet.  Lightly does it.
Cut each ear of corn in crosswise to ease in cutting the corn off the cob.
Use a sharp knife to shave the corn off the cob.  Use a coffee cup sauce to hold the fatter end of the corn cob and slice down, carefully.  Use the back of a butter knife to milk the cob and reserve the juices from the cob in the saucer.
Heat butter (or if you are feeling very wicked, use rendered bacon grease) in cast iron skillet until foaming and a very light toasty brown.  Add sweet red pepper dice and shallot and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and chipotle and cook a minute more.  Finally add the scraped toasted corn kernels and reserved corn milk.   Add the heavy cream and cook until is thickens over low to medium heat.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Very little salt will be needed, actually, since cojita cheese can be quite salty, as well the heat from the chipotle will be sufficient for most.  Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and put in serving bowl.  Top with cotija.  If you are being wicked, add the bacon crumbles.  Enjoy.

Hint:  Freeze the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in an ice cube tray and once frozen, pop out and bag in a freezer bag.  When you need to use just a bit of chipotle pepper in a recipe, take a rock hard chipotle and grate it over the dish on a microplane.

Chipotle peppers in adobo
Fresh Corn on FoodistaFresh Corn

Monday, May 2, 2011

Can You Lead a Horse to Water and make it Drink?

Makers Mark Mint Julep
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Makers Mark Bourbon
Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of the finest bourbon whiskey. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.  Sit back and dream of moonlight and magnolias.

The following passage is remarkable in its elegance and descriptive prose.

The Quintessence of Gentlemanly Beverages. . .
                                       -Lt. Gen. S.B. Buckner, Jr.

Major General Wm. D. Connor
West Point, N.Y.

My Dear General Connor:

Your letter requesting my formula for mixing mint juleps leaves me in the same position in which Capt. Barber found himself when asked how he was able to carve the image of an elephant from a block of wood. He replied that it was a simple
process consisting merely of whittling off the part that didn't look like an elephant.

The preparation of the quintessence of gentlemanly beverages can only be described in like terms. A mint julep is not the product of a formula. It is a ceremony and must be performed by a gentleman possessing a true sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the ingredients and a proper appreciation of the occasion. It is a rite that must not be entrusted to a novice, a statistician nor a Yankee. It is a heritage of the old South, an emblem of hospitality and a vehicle in which noble minds can travel together upon the flower-strewn paths of a happy and congenial thought.

So far as the mere mechanics of the operation are concerned, the procedure, stripped of its ceremonial embellishments, can be described as follows:

Go to a spring where cool, crystal-clear water bubbles from under a bank of dew-washed ferns. In a consecrated vessel, dip up a little water at the source. Follow the stream through its banks of green moss and wildflowers until it broadens and trickles through beds of a mint growing in aromatic profusion and waving softly in the summer breeze.
Gather the sweetest and tenderest shoots and gently carry them home.

Go to the sideboard and select a decanter of Kentucky Bourbon, distilled by a master hand, mellowed with age yet still vigorous and inspiring. An ancestral sugar bowl, a row of silver goblets, some spoons and some ice and you are ready to start. In a canvas bag, pound twice as much ice as you think you will need. Make it fine as snow, keep it dry and do not allow to degenerate into slush.

In each goblet, put a slightly heaping teaspoonful of granulated sugar, barely cover this with spring water and slightly bruise one mint leaf into this, leaving the spoon in the goblet. Then pour elixir from decanter until the goblets are about one-fourth full. Fill the goblets with snowy ice, sprinkling in a small amount of sugar as you fill. Wipe the outside of the goblets dry and embellish copiously with mint.

Then comes the important and delicate operation of frosting. By proper manipulation of the spoon, the ingredients are circulated and blended until Nature, wishing to take a further hand and add another of its beautiful phenomena, encrusts the whole in a glistening coat of white frost. Thus harmoniously blended by the deft touches of a skilled hand, you have a beverage eminently appropriate for honorable men and beautiful women.

When all is ready, assemble your guests on the porch or in the garden where the aroma of the juleps will rise Heavenward and make the birds sing. Propose a worthy toast, raise the goblet to your lips, bury your nose in the mint, inhale a deep breath of its fragrance and sip the nectar of
the gods.

Being overcome by thirst, I can write no further.


Lt. Gen. S.B. Buckner, Jr. *
V.M.I. Class of 1906

*Killed in Okinawa, 1945
Promoted Posthumously to full General, July 1954