These can be made in advance and reheated for entertaining.
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
1 cup fine white or yellow grits or polenta (not instant)
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks
1 cup Parmesan or Sonoma Dry Jack cheese, grated
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Tabasco to taste
2 Tbsp unsalted butter for greasing the pan
- preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8 x 11 baking dish
- over high heat bring stock to a boil in a large pot
- stir in salt and grits, reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently until grits are thickened and pulling from the side of the pot
- whisk the eggs and yolks in a bowl and temper the eggs by whisking a spoonful of grits into the bowl (prevents grits from scrambling eggs). Whisk the eggs into the grits until combined
- stir in cheese and season with salt, pepper and Tabasco
- spread evenly into pan and bake 25-30 minutes
- cool and allow to set up in the fridge
- cut squares or use a biscuit cutter to get 8 2 1/2 - 3" rounds and reserve until ready to reheat
Ps. if you cut rounds and have scraps, save them, heat and have with sauteed mushrooms
This is part of the recipe Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Grits Cake, Country Ham, & Redeye Vinaigrette from Not Afraid of Flavor by Ben and Karen Barker
This year’s Valentine’s week was quite an awakening that began with the redeye gravy vinaigrette my husband drizzled around parmesan grits and herb grilled shrimp. That’s right, I still swoon – that is how my meal started and it turns out my mild mannered rocket man’s got mad, nascent kitchen skills that were just waiting for him to get cozy with Not Afraid of Flavor, a cookbook from Ben and Karen Barker.
A couple of years ago we were overeating at the Barkers’ (sadly now closed) restaurant, Magnolia Grill in Durham, NC. We savored, we conquered, we tucked a signed cookbook under an arm on the way out. Unfortunately we didn’t officially put it to work right away which can happen when your cookbook collection warrants its own wing of the house. Fortunately Brian chose it for his muse in planning his Valentine gastronomy which led to this first course, which is officially one of my favorite food (and sweetheart) moments. From the book:
Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Grits Cake, Country Ham, & Redeye Gravy Vinaigrette
What can we say about shrimp and grits? The late Bill Neal popularized the traditional low country breakfast dish at his own Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill. We love the flavor combination of country ham, grits, and ‘redeye gravy,’ so this rendition combines shrimp and our own uptown version of ‘redeye’ as both a vinaigrette and a sauce for the grilled shrimp and a rich grits cake.
What can I say about this recipe? Ben and Karen, you’ve done Bill Neal proud, introduced me to a newly beloved sauce, and awakened the latent, Intrepid Chef Brian. Hope he’s ready to keep cooking!
So you’re gonna need a meat grinding attachment, a cuisineart and some gumption, as my great grandmother used to say. Admittedly this making your own bologna business is a bit tedious in today’s world of convenience, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a slice of the most delicious bologna, cut to whatever thickness you desire, all the while knowing there was no creepy processing or mysterious chemicals involved? Of course it would.
Making your own forcemeats – sausages etc, is of course an old school practice I had the pleasure of learning in commercial contexts, but hadn’t had the nerve to tackle at home until I was kicked back with one of my first issues of Lucky Peach magazine. It’s a newish quarterly from the snarky minds of David Chang and Anthony Bourdain, and yes, quite a few of the cover images are unnecessarily disturbing but, hey at least it’s not a boring food photo or mug shot of Rachel Ray.
Inside this Summer ’12 issue, on my crinkled page 54 begins a recipe from Marco Canora. Balogna a la Bologna. After a trip to Williams Sonoma with a gift card to purchase a ginder attachment and Valentine’s dinner plans with a dude-food theme as motivation, I finally picked up a pork shoulder and took it on.
I started with a 7 pound shoulder and after boning it out and trimming fat and sinew (to a reasonable degree) I had 5 pounds of trimmed pork. It took a while, what can I say? yeah yeah yeah, fat ratios in forcemeats – there’s supposed to enough fat to get things to emulsify, but … sorry, I’m still a chick trying to keep her figure, so I trimmed most of the fat off and edited out the 1 3/4 pounds fatback in the recipe. Just seemed like a reasonable place to go a little leaner.
Then I cubed it and tossed it all with the spices and dried milk.
You have to keep rotating batches of the meat into and out of the fridge and freezer. The colder you keep the meat, the better. Once upon a time in culinary school and various restaurant kitchens I knew why that is, but know I just accept it as one of those universal truths. So for that reason I kept the grinder in the freezer and pulled it out just before grinding.
I love my KitchenAid and it is great to have this option, but I will say it is the slower going, Harry Homeowner version of grinding meat. About 20 minutes and halfway through grinding the 5 pounds I began muttering ‘this better be one helluva a tubular meat.’ Fortunately that would come to pass.
Again, working in batches and keeping things in the freezer or fridge I then put the ground meat in the Cuisineart with the secret ingredient, Amaretti! I had frozen the milk, but still it sits in the freezer… I forgot all about it. Nevermind, the Amaretti makes it and Marco was kind enough to share this secret after years of pureeing and poaching pork, searching for the right recipe.
I had some water simmering to poach a taste test and then continued on with 3 more batches through the Cuisinart.
Fold in peppercorns and pistachios that are tossed with whipped egg whites – the whites help hold those tasty bits in there when you get to slicing.
Time to roll and cook! Well, not so turns out. I realized that the meat was supposed to cure for four days, but I had fried bologna sandwiches to make, so I went ahead and poached most of what I had. You need plastic wrap that can handle heat – if the package says you can use it in the microwave, then you can use it to poach in hot water.
Roll, tie one end, roll and squish until it’s well stuffed and tie the other end.
The recipe calls for them to be completely submerged but I used a large, deepish pan and rotated the sausages and kept the top on. That worked fine.
When a ‘thermometer inserted into the deepest, most private regions of the pork registers 155 degrees F’ move the cooked sausage to an ice bath and chill completely. It’s good for about three weeks.
I was wasting no time. The next night I was making a Valentine’s week dinner that began with fried bologna sandwiches and homemade potato chips.
The bologna fried beautifully and then I made panini with Ribiola Bosina cheese, weighting the sandwiches down with another heavy pan. Do I get a tv show if I say yumbo?! No, huh. Well, this was a damn good sandwich, and at least the bologna went over big time with my valentine.
Bologna a la Bologna
Yield: 3 bologna
Prep Time: half a day
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: about a day
This is an adapted version of the recipe by Marcos Canora in the Summer 2012 edition of Lucky Peach
7 lb pork shoulder, boned out and cut into 1 1/2" cubes (or buy ground pork)
1/3 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup kosher salt and the balance in pink curing salt
1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 nut nutmeg (and microplane or spice grinder for grinding)
1 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup dried milk powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk, frozen (suggest a ziplock)
3 Tbsp black peppercorns
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
3/4 cup pistachios
Amaretti liqueur to taste (I used about 1/3 cup for the whole batch)
- place grinder attachment and a couple of bowls in the freezer or fridge
- toss cubed (or ground) pork with salt(s), paprika, ground nutmeg, almond extract and dried milk
- alow meat to chill out for 5-10 minutes and keep any meat not being handled in the fridge or freezer
- assemble grinder attachment and working in batches, grind pork
- keep the meat cold while setting up the food processor and get a pot ot large pan of water to a gentle simmer; also whip the egg whites in a small bowl and toss with the pistachios
- fill the processor with 1/4 to 1/3 of the meat and crush up the frozen milk, adding 1/3 to 1/4 of the milk, and Amaretti to taste
- take a small scoop of the mix and poach it off to see how it tastes and make any adjustments to seasoning
- keep the first batch cold and process the remaining 2 to 3 batches
- fold in the black peppercorns and the pistachio and egg white mixture
- lay 1/3 of the meat into the center of a large piece of plastic and pull the plastic around it so you form a cylinder; twist the ends as tightly as you can without bursting the package open; don't worry if it isn't perfect
- gently poach submerged in a large pot or in more shallow water with a lid for about an hour or until a thermometer inserted into the middle reads 155 degrees F
- move to an ice bath until chilled completely through
- unwrap, slice and enjoy on a picnic, in a sandwich or standing at the kitchen counter
There were some rough moments, but I’ve come away from the cleanse with some new fav recipes, one of which is the ‘Vegetable Broth Soup.’ The hubster has been downing it and he’s not trying to cleanse a thing. I read a bad review of it on doctoroz.com so I was skeptical about how it would turn out, but it’s a keeper. Maybe not the object of the most scintillating photo journalism, but a keeper.
I don’t know if I would do this cleanse again or not. I am definitely going to keep the detox drink, the green drink, soup and salad in my regular diet, but the 2 days of detox left me backed up like the beltway at rush hour. Ok, it wasn’t that bad – I’ve been going, but not with the clockwork precision and comfort to which I’m accustomed. I’ve diligently googled this and I understand that constipation is a common side effect of this type of cleanse, and that I’m experiencing it probably means it worked and things are recalibrating, but I found it to be surprising and uncomfortable.
TMI? Sorry but I want to share a lesson. I would plan on a high fiber, easy going diet the few days afterwards while everything is sorting itself out. All that talk about yogurt and probiotics? Fine, but just wait a few days before getting into that. Keep it simlpe and stick with the soup, oatmeal, wheat toast and fruit for a day or so and you might not achieve the gurgling cacophony that has been my gut for the past 18 hours.
My googling took me to some dietary fiber recommendations and while I consider myself to be a pretty ‘healthy eater’ I doubt I’ve been getting close to the suggested 25-30 grams per day (even more for men!). So I spent a little time plugging some of the foods that I’ve considered to be higher in fiber into myfitnesspal.com and nope – I couldn’t be getting that much. Here are a few of the things I thought were really upping my fiber intake.. and they are, but not to the degree that I thought they were.
Nature’s Path Blueberry Cinnamon Flax Oatmeal – 3g of fiber per serving
Ezekial English Muffin – 3g of fiber per half a muffin
Bob’s Red Mill Flax Meal – 4g in 2 tablespoons
I will keep eating these things (Ezekial English Muffins are sooo delicious) because they have fiber and lots of other nutritional benefits, but I realize now that along with my green veggies, they’re not providing enough fiber. Here are some of my usual menu items that I knew had fiber but they’re higher than I thought!
an apple (with the skin) – 4.4g
an artichoke – 10.3
vegetable broth soup – 10g per serving
white bean and barley soup – 13g per serving!
Suffice it to say, I will keep making these soups. They have reasonable calorie counts, are inexpensive to make and get you to half the daily goal of fiber! Your gastroenterologist will be so pleased. (shout out Dad : )
Yield: a big pot of soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and some change
Total Time: about an hour and a half
This is adapted from the Vegetable Broth Soup recipe in the Doctor Oz 48-Hour Cleanse
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 celery hearts, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped or 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
2 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp caraway seeds
3 quarts of water
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
fresh parsley and oregano, chopped
- heat the olive oil over medium high heat on a large pot and add onion, celery, fennel, and mushrooms, stirring frequently
- when vegetables have softened, add garlic and cook about 30-45 seconds
- add paprika and caraway seeds (and fennel seeds if using) and stir another minute
- add water and cabbage and bring to a boil
- reduce heat and allow to simmer partially covered for about an hour
After downing a metric ton of sushi at Spices the other day, my friend and dining companion mentioned that she had done a Doctor Oz 3-day cleanse and felt damn spiffy afterwards. She had also just mentioned that she feels tremendously fat and that she sends numerous lengthy, irrelevant emails to her boss, but nevertheless I found in there an inspiring cleanse endorsement.
So ‘cleanse’ is what I what put into the search box on doctoroz.com and up came Dr. Oz’s 48-Hour Weekend Cleanse amongst a few other things. I waved the mouse around in a feeble search for the 3-day version, but quickly decided that the 2-day version would be just fine for now.
It was Wednesday, and while the good doctor’s website calls it a ‘weekend cleanse’ I have the fortune of working and writing from home (barely employed) and so calculated that I could conveniently do my cleanse *in time* for the weekend. Maybe they’d offset each other? I mean, how clean does it all really need to be?
Anyway, it’s the morning of Day 2 here, I have a few things to say and I’m not afraid to say them. First up – I love these prunes . I don’t know if they’re different from the prunes I’ve had before, or if my tastes have changed, and yes it gives this post a geriatric flair, but I love these prunes. They are delicious, and the only thing that makes the quinoa breakfast edible.
I only had red quinoa on hand that I probably should have cooked a little longer then the Dr. Oz recipe suggested. I’m a quinoa fan, but for some reason this didn’t appeal to me. It’s better room temp than hot. It’s terrible cold. Also the recipe calls for a lot of it, so I ate half of it Day 1 and am slooowwly finishing the gently nuked other half this morning… that I’ve had to generously top off with extra chopped prunes.
After the quinoa breakfast yesterday I made the Blend-Free Detox drink and it is so refreshing. It will become a staple around here and I’m sure will taste great after a workout, aaaaand, well, with vodka.
I drank a couple glasses of that in the morning and then attempted to make the Lunch Fruit Smoothie. I thought I may finally find a way to enjoy chia seeds but alas, negatory. They were alright, but there wasn’t enough liquid to blend the smoothie so I had to add water and it wound up being a benign blend with little crunchy seeds in it. I weakened and added several swirls of agave syrup to get it down.
Fortunately, after making what turned out to be a delicious salad snack I was able to banish the smoothie and quinoa to afterthoughts. I cheated again by blanching the green beans, but it served a dual purpose by making my salad a little easier to eat and getting something done for the hubby’s dinner. Then I used lemon zest rather than juice because I knew I’d be inclined to use more salt if it had more acid in it. It will go into regular menu rotation. Here’s that recipe – the rest from my squeaky clean self this weekend.
Crisp Vegetable Salad with Lemon
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
I adapted this from the snack suggestion in Doctor Oz's 48-Hour Weekend Cleanse
3/4 lb green beans, small dice raw or blanche per recipe
1 cucumber, sliced (I peeled and seeded)
6 radishes, julienned
2-3 celery hearts, sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced (juice optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add green beans
- remove beans when cooked and spread on a pan to cool; when cool cut into halves or thirds
- combine everything and season to taste
Playing with buffalo sauce again and I have to say this is easier than the chicken balls and just as easy/un-messy to eat (with toothpicks). It’s a good one for your March Madness menu but it’s also good any time of the year, so I’ve decided to share it again for the link party going on at The Lady Behind the Curtain today! … someone got to these before I managed to get my iPhone on it : )
Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip
Yield: serves about 4-6 as an appetizer
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Frank's RedHot Sauce
2 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp honey
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil, coconut oil or cooking spray
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined (I used 31/40 count because I them smaller)
- combine first four ingredients and season with salt and pepper to make dip; refrigerate until ready to serve
- heat Frank's RedHot Sauce in a small sauce pan
- when the sauce is hot whisk in butter and honey; when sauce is emulsified remove from heat
- put a large sauté pan over high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil and cook shrimp working in batches
- when shrimp are cooked add them to a large bowl, add some buffalo sauce and toss
- continue until all the shrimp are cooked and serve with dipping sauce
This is an idea I wanted to try for a boat ride picnic this past summer (that will someday happen on my dream picnic boat) and I think it’s a good buffet item for a Superbowl party or backyard picnic. I just olive oil roasted some Idaho potatoes in foil with coarse salt…
Then I chopped them up and filled small, and tossed them with Good Seasons Italian Dressing prepared from the packet. I can’t lie about my love of Good Season Italian; I’ve probably consumed 80 gallons of it in my lifetime. You don’t have to use it, but I lllove it. However you season your potatoes, fill wide-mouth jam jars about 2/3 full with them. I topped those with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped bacon, chives and minced hot chili. Simple, inexpensive, and quick- they look great on a buffet and are easy to pick up and eat.
Now that I’ve tried them, I know that some will definitely make it onto the boat this summer. Just put the lids on and they are ready for a trip outside.
Individual Baked Potato Salads
Yield: 8 small jars
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Loaded baked potatoes can be a personal thing - I like the basics, but you could add olives, roasted tomatoes, spicy chili to make it your way.
6 cups olive oil and sea salt baked potatoes, medium dice (about 3 large Idaho potatoes)
1/2 cup Good Seasons Italian Dressing, prepared (optional) (I make with half the oil)
1 1/2 - 2 cups sour cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bacon, cooked, chopped
2 Tbsp chives or scallion, chopped
2 Tbsp red chili, minced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
- toss the potatoes with the dressing and season with salt and pepper
- fill jars about 2/3 full with potatoes (about 3/4 cup in each)
- top potatoes with 1/4 cup sour cream in each jar (or more!)
- top the sour cream with cheddar, bacon, chives or scallions and chilies
Scrub the skin of your baking potatoes and rub with olive oil and coarse salt for a delicious classic baked potato.
Olive Oil and Salted Baked Potatoes
Yield: 4 potatoes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, possibly more
Total Time: 70 minutes give or take
4 Idaho baking potatoes
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
- heat oven to 400 degrees
- scrub potatoes and dry them well
- cut 4 pieces of aluminum foil to fit each potato
- place the potatoes on each piece of foil and drizzle olive oil over them
- sprinkle salt and pepper and rub each potato to distribute oil and seasoning all over
- place on a sheet tray in the oven for one hour or until cooked and flaky in the middle
To loosely quote Alice Waters, I often wonder why so many people expect ‘food to be fast, cheap and easy,’ but I’ll admit that those are some mighty attractive features to this recipe I adapted yesterday from eatingwell.com. So much so that at around 9:16 in the morning (when, for some reason I’m routinely famished despite having eaten breakfast) it wasn’t but a half hour before I started a version of it with what I had on hand.
Certainly the writing of a magazine recipe for which I’d lost my cooking notes could wait until I quickly prepped this soup – it needed 45 minutes for flavors to develop after all – and that had to happen in time for my 10:59 lunch hour. Forget Greenwich MeanTime, set your watch by my demanding, dominating gut.
Lacking fresh fennel is always unfortunate, but this time it simplified prep on the way to my easy ‘n’ breezy. All I did was chop some onion and garlic and then I was just opening a can of beans, using up a box of Pomi tomatoes, tossing in some fennel seed and was well on my way.
I was just indulging hunger pangs and cravings while searching kitchen cabinets in vain for my long lost notes (a major rarity in my world – momentary misplacement? sure! but Dave Chapelle like disappearance? highly unusual), and had no plans on sharing it here. But as my handsome hubby alternated sips and slurps between a goblet of red and a bowl of beans n barley last night, he encouraged me strongly to post because he predicts his Mom would like it.
So pic-wise what-I-got is this that I had for lunch at the catering company today, in the interest of things I find to be ‘good, clean and fair’ (and potentially mother-in-law pleasing : ) I recommend this procrastination preparation, meatless Monday, or any random reason to make this decent and delicious pot of soup.
Bean and Barley Soup
Yield: about 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
honest(ly) good soup
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, diced or 2 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, 1/3 mashed
12-20 oz diced or crushed tomatoes
8 cups vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme leaves or 1 Tbsp fresh
3/4 cups barley
1 1/2 cups frozen cut spinach or 6 cups fresh baby spinach
salt and cayenne to taste
- saute onion (and fennel if you have fresh) in olive oil over medium high heat until translucent and house starts smelling good
- add garlic and (if using) fennel seeds and sauté 1-2 minutes
- add broth, tomatoes, whole and smashed beans,bay leaves, thyme, some salt and cayenne and allow to come to a boil
- adjust to a simmer and add barley
- when it returns to a boil turn down to a simmer and cook for 45-50 minutes
- when barley is cooked taste, adjust seasoning add spinach
- ready to serve in 2-4 minutes
The news media must be strung out from reporting on fiscal cliffs and Michelle Obama’s bangs because top news story of the moment seems to be the Major wing crisis! aaahhh! Feed prices are rising as we approach the Superbowl? oh, the humanity, etc, etc.
Fear not. We have back up in the form of Buffalo Chicken Balls. Could be turkey balls, could probably be done in a vegetarian version, can be done ahead and even the gal with long acrylic nails can eat them without making everyone a little refluxy.
I made these the other day and will post again when I try them with a couple of adjustments, but first start with Frank’s hot sauce and some butter whisk together until emulsified in a sauce pan.
While that cools, I minced up some celery and soaked four slices of white bread in milk. Soaking the bread definitely helps the texture of the meatball, but next time I think I’ll add a good dose of Frank’s to that as well.
Chop up the bread and combine all that business with the ground chicken thighs.
Add an egg and pour some oil into a baking dish. Roll out meatballs under an inch wide and line them up so they’re touching. Put them in the oven.
Might serve next to a blue cheese version when I try again.
Buffalo Chicken Balls
Yield: about 40 mini meatballs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 stalk celery, minced
4 slices white bread, soaked in 1/2 cup (or more as needed) milk
1/4 cup dried bread crumb or more as needed to get mix to pull together
3 Tbsp butter, in pieces
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
3 Tbsp vegetable oil (enough to coat bottom of you dish generously)
salt and pepper to taste (suggest a tsp or less of each)
- heat oven to 450 degrees
- heat the hot sauce in a sauce pan over medium heat
- when sauce is hot, whisk in butter a piece at a time until butter is melted; remove from heat and allow to cool
- chop up the soaking bread and add to ground chicken along with celery, dried bread crumbs, egg and hot sauce mixture once cooled
- use dry crumbs to get the mix barely tight enough to roll out meatballs
- pour oil into baking dish and roll 3/4" meatballs, lining them up so the just touch in the baking dish
- place dish uncovered in the oven for about 15 minutes, until just cooked (would read 165 degrees on a thermometer)
- turn on the broiler and move the meatballs just under it
- watch it carefully and remove once you've browned the tops