Category Archives: Back to Basics Cooking

Sides to Go with Ham (and most anything else)

20161111_1434161600x1200This side is a coleslaw with vinegar dressing that I saw over at Serious Eats.  First, you slice the cabbage and onions and grate the carrots plus whatever else sounds good to you – I like to slice colored sweet peppers – a few jalapenos work well, too.  Then, with all of that in a big bowl you sprinkle salt and sugar over it and work it in a bit.  That’s where we are in the photo above.  This helps to wilt and soften the cabbage.  After a few minutes rinse the salt and sugar off.  I use a colander within a bowl, run water over the slaw until the slaw floats then stir it about and lift the colander out of the bowl.20161112_1134031600x1200I liked this slaw so much I bought a salad spinner to help drain the water off after the rinse.  This one is an Oxo and seems to be pretty sturdy.  There are other ways to dry the slaw, like draining on a tilted tray or squeezing it out in a towel.

The dressing is simple enough:

1 cup apple cider vinegar (I use a seasoned rice vinegar)
1 cup sugar (Splenda or equivalent works well)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon celery seeds

20161112_1109081600x1200The next two are a bean salad and a classic mustard potato salad.  The dressing for the bean salad is as good as any I’ve tried and it has become my standard dressing:

1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)

The linked recipe calls for garbanzo beans but I didn’t have any so I subbed in a can of Great Northern beans.  It also gets chopped celery and chopped green onions – chopped red onions are an option that also adds color.

The potato salad is very good and is pretty much self explanatory:

5 large red potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, 2 chopped and 1 sliced (use sliced egg for garnish)
2 heaping tablespoons sweet pickle relish, drained
1/2 cup salad dressing, (the Neely’s recommend Miracle Whip, we use Hellmann’s)
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
Paprika, for garnish
Salt

Green Salsa Smothered Chicken Over Rice

green-salsa-smoothered-chicken

This is made from the green salsa I made from the tomatillos growing in my garden. There weren’t a lot, so I only had enough salsa for one meal. It was so good, I was disappointed by the amount.

I’ll post the recipe this weekend, fingers crossed. I’m very close to completing my original list of projects. The master bedroom is finished, complete with art on the walls. Freshly painted, shelves put in the closets, old furniture touched up, new bedding. My goal this weekend is to finish the music room (that will also serve as the guest room) and finish painting the new front door.

Meanwhile, I’m winterizing the yard, slowly, since it’s been 70 and 80s here the last week and predicted to be as warm next week. But the strawberries are almost ready to be put to bed. All my roses are blooming, so I’m holding off trimming them back just yet.

Oh, you wanted to know about the new puppy? It’s going well and I am charging up my video camera so I can get you some good tug of war action between Bailey and Bixby. It’s adorable.  Until then….



 

Beyond Easy Recipe For Fresh, Hot Bread

bread-and-jam

I love this recipe, it is so easy. I was looking for a slow rise bread – they are thought to be easier to digest for people who have trouble with yeast or gluten sensitivities. And it has the added advantage of being super easy and almost fool-proof to make. Instant yeast is a must here, because the idea behind the slow rise is that the yeast has time fully flavor the bread and become more easily digestible.

Crusty Slow-Rise Bread

  • 5 ½ cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (instant is important)
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (about 95 degrees F)

Add yeast to water and allow to proof for about 1 minute. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Let rest uncovered for 5 minutes.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for two minutes. The dough should be smooth, tacky, not dry or sticky. Adjust by adding flour and water as needed.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to four days.

It makes two loaves. If you’d like to make loaves separately, you can divide into to equal pieces, cover and refrigerate separately.

To bake:

Two hours before baking, remove from the refrigerator. Shape into desired loaf, spray lightly with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise about 90 minutes until it’s increased 1 ½ times its original size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and remove plastic from bread. Just before baking, score with three slices across the bread with a sharp knife. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place in hot oven. I add sesame seeds on the baking sheet and place the loaf on that so it doesn’t stick and has a nice sesame seed crust.

Add a tray of ice to a baking sheet and place on the rack underneath the bread to create a steam bath for the bread.  This will give you a crispy, chewy crust.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotate pan and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the bread reaches and internal temperature of 200 degrees F.  For crisper crust, turn off the oven and leave the bread in an additional 5 minutes.

Remove to a bread board and let cool for 45 minutes (ok, seriously, if you can wait that long, you’re a better person than I – I’ve scorched my fingers more than once sneaking a fresh hot slice).



 

Bread and Jelly

I’ll post recipes for these in a bit. But I finally downloaded the photos. The jelly turned out great and it was very easy to make, well after all the fruit prep. The bread is four easy ingredients and very little kneading.

bread-and-jam

Spice, Spice, Baby

pumpkin-spice-wagons-are-here

It was 47 degrees when I woke up this morning. I should have been suspicious when I was surrounded by furry bodies, snuggled up trying to stay warm. Who needs a down comforter?

Fall is rushing toward me, but I am not ready for pumpkin spice anything yet. In fact, I’m using up the pumpkin I have today to make puppy treats – these to be specific.

I have made more salsa, two batches of jelly and my favorite bread dough is resting in the refrigerator, waiting for me to form it into loaves. I’m still waiting for the bulk of the tomatillos to ripen so I can make a big batch of salsa verde.

I will post photos and recipes for jelly and bread later (today with luck), but first I have to go start cleaning the garage. The house is pretty much done, except I need to reorganize my office filing system…but that’s for a rainy day. And since today is scheduled to be almost in the 90s, garden and garage have priority.

The poor garage – it has a nice shelving system, yet shelves are all empty because everything destined for the garage landed in a pile to be dealt with later. Later has arrived. Time to clean, sort and shelve.

Be back soon with garden pix and yummy stuff…

cropped-aspen_panorama_master_900.jpg

 



 

Apple Fritters Over An Open Flame

Ok, I am so going to make these, but probably not in an cast iron kettle over an open flame.

I haven’t had a chance to look at his website, but he sounds like my kind fun, colonial cooking…with lard.



 

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs Without Oil

Pan roasted chicken thighs

I could have sworn I posted this before, but I found this photo in my saved dinner photos and it hasn’t been used and I didn’t see any recipes using this technique. This is a great way to get very crisp and moist chicken thighs without added oil. It’s very similar to how you crisp up duck skin.

Start with a cast iron skillet or oven safe frying pan, COLD. Add two bone-in, skin on thighs (seasoned with salt and pepper), skin side down. Turn the burner to MEDIUM and let cook until the skin is super crisp, about 6 minutes. Turn heat down if it looks as if the skin will burn before rendering all the fat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Flip over thighs sprinkle rosemary or tarragon over them. Add quartered potatoes and sliced carrots, tuck them down and around the thighs so they cook in the rendered fat and juices. Bake at 350 degrees until thighs register 170 to 175 degrees. About 30-45 minutes.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves two.

You can also braise chicken this way, recipe here.



 

Summer Grilling: Curried Turkey Burgers

I haven’t posted a lot of grilling recipes this summer because, well, let’s face it, I haven’t posted a lot of recipes! But this week I’ll post a few favorites. I’m still not doing much grilling because I’m saving up for a Traeger grill. Friends have one and I can’t imagine grilling or smokin’ on anything else since I’ve used it.

Until then, I’ll fry these up in my cast iron skillet. Great on the grill or in the skillet. And now that I’ve finally found a good source for tasty pita bread, a dinner favorite.

Serve with fresh corn on the cob and grilled eggplant (I have three Japanese eggplant almost ready to pick).

Curried Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground curry
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 pita breads

bowl

In bowl combine all ingredients except bread and mix well. Form 4 patties and grill, broil or fry to desired doneness. Serve in pita bread. Ground mustard and mayonnaise make good toppings or a little Greek salad dressing, along with lettuce & tomatoes.

aa42b83c49c25370_shutterstock_387852.xxxlarge_2x



 

Thai Spring Roll Instructions

Spring Roll step 1

I LOVE spring rolls and they are so easy to make. And you can fill them with a variety of items, so use the recipe below as a starting point, but let your imagination run wild. This recipe is simple but full of flavor. It’s quick and you can buy shredded carrots and shredded lettuce to save even more time

Thai Spring Rolls

  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (or white wine vinegar)
  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 ½ cup shredded leaf lettuce
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded

bowl, plate

Mix together fish sauce and garlic. In a bowl of cold water (I actually use a large, deep sided plate), soak 1 wrapper, until limp. Lay out flat on a plate, add 1/8 of each of the ingredients, in order, then drizzle with fish sauce mixture.

Spring Roll step 2

Fold ends up and roll like a burrito.  Moisten seam, press close and set seam side down on plate.  Repeat for all wrappers.

Spring Roll step 3

Cover with a moist paper towel and refrigerate until ready to serve, with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

Mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or fish sauce or rice vinegar)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (or more as desired)


 

Quick Crispy Braised Chicken Dinner

No photos because I completely forgot when it was done. If I make it again, I’ll update with a photo.

I picked up chicken thighs on sale last week and wanted to come up with some quick one-pan dinners for a few of them. That led to tonight’s dinner. It would work well with any bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces.

I like this recipe because it’s about 15-minute prep time, one pan and once it’s in the oven it’s hands-off. Tastes like a nice Sunday chicken roasted dinner. The crispy skin is a bonus.

Quick Braised Chicken Dinner
Serves 2*

  • 2 to 4 chicken thighs (depending on size)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • rosemary sprigs
  • 2 large russet or Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed and trimmed

large cast-iron or oven proof skillet

Pat dry chicken breasts. Salt and pepper generously, gently lift the skin and salt and pepper underneath it. Place skin-side down in a COLD skillet, no oil needed. Turn heat to medium-high and slowly heat chicken until skin is crisp.

By using a cold skillet, you allow the fat to render out of the chicken skin and it will crisp up nicely without sticking or burning. It will take about 10 minutes to crisp.

While the chicken is crisping, scrub and quarter potatoes and carrots

Turn chicken over – you’ll want to use a spatula so you don’t leave the skin behind. Remove from heat, add potatoes and carrots around the chicken pieces. Add enough water to cover all but the chicken skin (so it stays crisp). Top with rosemary sprigs.

Place skillet, uncovered, in oven and cook at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour – until potatoes and carrots are tender and chicken is cooked through. Check occasionally to see if you need to add more liquid.

Serve with a salad for a quick dinner.

*if you want to double this recipe, you’ll want to use a roasting pan after crisping the chicken in the skillet.

For a saucy Italian version of this, click here.

Braised Chicken