Monthly Archives: August 2012

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Challenge Accepted

Before there was Bennifer, before there was Bradgelina, before anyone thought about using a portmanteau to create romantic links ad nauseam, there was the original. The one. The only. SPAM. That undeniable (some would say inedible) combination of spice and ham, first canned in 1937. (Yeah, I can’t believe I’m writing this either.)

Last week commenter Martin challenged JeffreyW and me to come up with SPAM recipes. How we got to that I have no idea. Not one to be intimidated by a challenge, I consulted with JeffreyW and then said, “eh, let’s not”. Too late. JeffreyW was off and running. His first batch of entries can be found here (and they are works of art, truly).

I reluctantly dove in and you can find my entries here. I was unimpressed, no matter how creative I got in the kitchen. But JeffreyW soldiered on and here are his final two entries, as tonight’s featured recipes. In the end, I’d say we had fun.

SPAM on.

Pictured above, SPAM Fried Rice. From JeffreyW:

Mrs J opted to eat the fried rice, she liked it. Has the Spam, onions, a minced clove of garlic, grated carrots, green peas, a fried scrambled egg in strips, a dash of soy sauce and a few drops of fish sauce – garnished with thin green onion slices.

And the coup de grâce, also from JeffreyW:

Gallina de Madre

  • 4 thick-cut slices country bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices SPAM
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay bread out on a sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toast lightly. Spoon a dollop of béchamel (recipe below) onto each toast. Arrange 2 slices of SPAM on each slice of toast, make a small indentation so the egg will sit in it. Crack egg and drop onto each slice of SPAM/toast. Bake in oven until eggs are just cooked but the yolk is still slightly runny, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bechamel:

  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Dash of grated whole nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly to incorporate – you do not want any color. Gradually pour in the milk as you stir, and whisk out any lumps. As the mixture thickens up continue to stir until it reaches a boil – this ensures that the flour is cooked completely. Season and set aside.

(adapted from a FoodNetwork recipe)

I would say challenge accepted and we prevailed. You can meet us in the kitchen end zone for the victory dance.  (h/t jeffreyw)

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SPAM Challenge, Part Deux

Can. Not. Believe. We did this. This is the second of three (3!) Spam posts. The last will serve as the Thursday Recipe Exchange tomorrow. I had checked in with JeffreyW earlier in the week, letting him know we’d been challenge. Then I got busy and was about to scrap the entire idea when he informed me he had already begun. Well, if he was going to jump in, I figured I’d jump in with him.

Never having eaten SPAM before, I really didn’t even know where to begin. I googled a couple of things but nothing sparked me. JeffreyW had already covered a lot of ground. I decided to keep it simple and came up with the pineapple-SPAM-Kabobs, pictured above and the SPAM Pasta Salad below.

For the Kabobs, I soaked wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using. I cut the SPAM in large squares and alternated with peppers and pineapple. I grilled until lightly browned on all sides, then coated them lightly in barbecue sauce mixed with pineapple juice. Cooked an additional 3 minutes. Pretty easy.

For the Pasta Salad, I made small SPAM cubes, then I crushed fennel seeds and dried oregano together and mixed with bread crumbs. I dredged the cubed SPAM in the crumbs and fried in olive oil until golden. I cooked tri-colored pasta and tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, tomatoes and the SPAM. Again, pretty easy.

This was fun and I enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen again. Would I do it again? Probably not. No matter how you dress it up, it’s still SPAM. But YMMV.

That’s not all there is. Stay tuned for more tomorrow night! Two more excellent JeffreyW creations. Until then…

Spam Challenge

TaMara accepted a challenge the other day:  “Betcha can’t make Spam into something good!  Neener  neener  neener!”

I, as her champion, picked up the thrown gauntlet and then spiked it into the end zone and did a recipe dance that had the local bees envious of my wiggle. (I have a stand machine from Kitchen-Aid so mixing metaphors is not as hard as it looks.)I fortified myself with a hearty breakfast of Spam hash with fresh chilies and topped that with an egg.  The challengers try to look like they are not impressed.  HehI whip up some Spam sliders.  Mmm… three bites of heavenly grilled Spam with cheddar and fixin’s.  Yeah and those rash boys are nervously eying each other.  I spot one licking his lips all sly and furtive.I’m just getting warmed up now.  Take that!  A grilled Spam Reben – my home made sauerkraut with Swiss and thousand island dressing.  They reel!  In for the kill now, no mercy!  But wait!  With a grin and a wink I pass more recipes to my Fair Lady.  She will deliver the coup de gras.  Stay tuned for the final beat down, coming to this blog Thursday.  Thursday!  When the big dogs run!

Habaneros

We planted our habaneros in mid June.  They got off to a shaky start – Bitsy thought the pot looked like a good place for a nap.  No harm, no foul.I snapped this earlier today.  I have been picking the peppers as soon they come ripe but I’ve let these few stay just for a photo.They are good looking peppers, interesting shapes and good colors, they go from a light green through orange to the fiery red we have with this one. (Wiki -habanero)  As I mentioned, I’ve been plucking the peppers as they turn red.  I had no idea what to do with these things, I’m not a masochist when it comes to peppers and these can bring some real heat.  I decided to just string these up on a thread and let them dry naturally.I’ll grind these up and use them as I would the dried red pepper flakes we are all familiar with.  Should make a good sprinkle on a pizza, and a pinch or two in soups and sauces should work just fine.

Mmm… chicken dumplings

Mrs J called for chicken dumplings when I asked her if she had a preference for dinner today.  I have to say that these are a great Sunday dinner and are a real comfort food.  Plenty of leftovers, too.  Any good chicken dumpling recipe will start with a good stock:We save chicken bones in the freezer until we accumulate enough for stock.  We had plenty for this one today.  After roasting the bones for an hour in a 400 oven we dropped them into a stockpot full of water and added celery, carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaves, fresh thyme, tarragon, rosemary, and parsley, along with whole black peppercorns, coriander and salt.  Simmer for as long as you can, at least for several hours.

Strain the broth and discard all the solids.  Now you can cook some chicken pieces in it.  While the chicken is cooking make the dumplings.  We prefer simple rolled dumplings over the drop in kind.  When the chicken is done, take it out to cool and cook the dumplings.  Tear the chicken into bite sized pieces and add back to the dumplings, add a half a cup of cream and two tablespoons of butter.  Ladle into bowls and serve with bread rolls.

Gumbo!

I was working on this when we decided to make a run to town yesterday, I had the gumbo simmering sans the shrimp – they are added in the last minutes before the stew is ladled into the bowls for the table.  We got back and needed to eat because we were both running a little low but I hadn’t made any rice yet.  We did the Reuben sammiches and saved the gumbo for the evening meal.  This one has Andouille sausage, shrimp, and chicken, and is served over white rice.  Add hot sauce to taste.  This fellow has some great Cajun recipes, here is a very good gumbo recipe you can adapt to any sort of meat.

Reuben-esque

The -esque is because a classic Reuben sandwich is grilled.  This has all the standard parts:  Corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, and deli rye bread.We were running errands yesterday and stopped by the grocery for a few items on the list we keep on the fridge when I saw the corned beef in the deli section.  I was reminded of some of the comments on the Thursday night recipe thread where someone mentioned Reuben sandwiches.  One fellow said that a Reuben pizza was among his repertoire of recipes.  I did a little surfing later and found a mention of Reuben egg rolls – standard egg roll wraps filled with Reuben ingredients and deep fried.  I’m tempted to try the egg roll recipe, the pizza will have to wait.

nota bene:  The pickle spear is a Claussen “Hot & Spicy”.  Good pickle!

Back to Basics: Butterflying Meats and Poultry

Ming Tsai does a good job of demonstrating this technique:

I often butterfly chicken breasts, they cook quicker and are less likely to dry out. I butterfly, rub with olive oil and season with garlic, rosemary, a bit of salt and pepper, then fry up quickly in a hot skillet. Takes as little as 3 minutes a side, depending on the thickness. Then you can serve with rice or potatoes and a vegetable for a quick dinner. Or slice and toss with salad for a quick lunch.

Last of the brisket, for now…

It’s also the last of the giardiniera, I’ll have to remember to get more next time I have a chance.  Those cherry peppers are some from the garden, I dropped them into a jar of peppers that I bought earlier and was empty but for the brine.  Took a few weeks but they were very good.They were so good I decided to do a lot of them, with some other types as well.  I make an x shaped cut on the bottoms so the brine can penetrate the insides more easily.  Not sure if it’s necessary but it doesn’t hurt.

A Hummer

Here’s one for TaMara’s mom.  I watched this bird at the sunflowers right outside the window for a while, wanting to get a shot but hesitating, figuring I would be too slow.  He hung tight, going from one flower to another and I made a dash for the camera, opened the window and started whirring away without bothering to look at settings, hoping the camera would come through.  The auto ISO was high because the speed and aperture setting demanded it, so the shot is grainy, but still a nice picture. I’ll take something over nothing every time.

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