Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pecan Pineapple Cheese Balls

A big thank you to Maryjo Bentley-Hibbert for sending the wonderful box of TJ Texas pecans, a wonderful container of pecans with 4 different flavours (honey roasted, praline, orange and cinnamon) from Treasure Journeys in Roanoke, TX. 

Pecan Pineapple Cheese Balls 
by Nancy

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tablespoon green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey roasted pecans from Treasure Journeys, finely chopped
1/2 cup cinnamon roasted pecans from Treasure Journeys, finely chopped
24 pretzel sticks

Mix the cream cheese in a medium sized bowl until soft. Stir in the green onions, pineapple, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and combine. Place in the fridge till it is firm and will hold together to form small round balls. Use small melon baller and roll the cheese mixture into the combined pecans and place a pretzel stick in the centre. Makes approximately 24.

Can be made two days ahead, but do not add the pretzel stick until day of party.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New England Crawfish Rolls

Who doesn't like to get food gift from someone? Especially when it's from a fellow 37 Cook! You know it's going to be good, and you know it's going to be something original. I was paired up with Christine and I'll tell you something, she came through like a trooper. I have had a fascination for a very long time with lobster rolls and well, obviously she couldn't send me those, but she did send me the rolls themselves. I was also lucky enough to receive a famous Rhode Island clam cakes batter mix. Let me tell you, the wheels started going then. I thought a little mix of North and South was in order. It is crawfish season and what better for a light lunch? A Crawfish Roll! First let me disclose...I went to a Crawfest hosted by our local Saafe House and was lucky enough to score some freshly boiled crawfish. It was a win for me, one for the recipe event. I could have purchased some frozen ones, but I don't think I could have gotten the same consistency with the product. Let's get started!

New England Crawfish Rolls
by Traci
Remoulade Sauce adapted from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes 

Remoulade Sauce:
1/4 cup mayo
1/8 cup cracked pepper mustard
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon Slap Ya Mama Original Blend Cajun Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

Crawfish Rolls:
6 ounces cooked crawfish tails
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons milk
4 top-split rolls
1 cup seasoned breading mix
Oil for frying
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 Roma tomato, sliced

Prepare the remoulade beforehand, because the longer it melds together the better it gets. Combine all ingredients and cover. Refrigerate until you need it.

In a small bowl add the beaten egg and milk to your crawfish. Let that sit for a few minutes while you put the rolls into the oven. At 300°F, just warm your rolls through. They will get a great crunch on the outside, but will be so light and airy on the inside. Pull them out and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium frying pan.

Add the breading mixture into a zip lock bag. Add in cooked crawfish and mix until they are coated. Add to heated oil. Cook only until you get a great golden brown on the breading. Let drain well when finished.

To assemble, add a swipe of the remoulade sauce to each side of the roll. Layer tomato slices on each side. Place cooked crawfish into the rolls and top with some shredded lettuce. I also added some remoulade on the side.

Serve and watch the smiles. A great combo of the crunch of the crawfish with the extreme tender of the roll. North and South Collide!!!

Thanks to Christine!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Umami Onion Rings and Spicy Sriracha Mushroom Dipping Sauce

Who’d have thought this challenge would be so…well…challenging? The fabulous, creative Ms. Donna sent to me some ingredients from her home state. When I say “some” I mean four. There was a bag of Fanciful Fruit Blend Pappardelle’s from Pappardelle's Pasta, a jar of “Cherriyaki” sauce from Gilberto's Gourmet Goodness, a bag of NederCheddar popcorn from Tungsten Toffee, and a jar of Hazel Dell Mushroom Seasoning Rub from Hazel Dell Mushrooms. All of these products/companies are in Colorado, the state where you will also find Ms. Donna.

Let me start by thanking Donna for the all of the fabulous ingredients! As soon as I unpacked the box my boys (the big one and the little one) were on the popcorn like they hadn't seen food in a week. So, with the popcorn gone, I moved on to the fruit flavored pasta and the Cherriyaki Sauce. I made a beautiful fruit flavored pasta salad with fresh tomatoes, fire roasted corn, and a really nice citrus vinaigrette. But you won’t see that recipe here because we ate it all so fast I didn't get to take a photograph. Moving on to the Cherriyaki sauce, I marinated and then grilled a beautiful skirt steak and made a nice Cherriyaki dipping sauce for it, but again, it was gobbled up before I could take the darned picture for the recipe!

All that was left was the Hazel Dell Mushroom Seasoning Rub. What to do? I decided to make onion rings. I set up a barrier between the boys and the kitchen and started cooking. They say mushrooms are one of those umami flavors that enhance the taste of your food, like soy sauce, or tomatoes, or even sweet potatoes. I made mushroom-seasoned onion rings and then threw together a Sriracha/Mushroom Seasoning Rub dipping sauce with the leftover seasoning salt. If only I had some of that Cherriyaki glazed skirt steak to eat with the onion rings! Doh!

Umami Onion Rings
by Maryjo
Adapted from this YouTube video: "Steve Cooks Fish & Chips"

1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup beer (any beer will do, but I’d stay away from the super dark, bitter beers)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Peanut oil
1 large sweet yellow onion (cut in 1/2-inch thick rings)
1/2 cup all purpose flour (for dredging)
4 teaspoons Hazel Dell Mushroom Seasoning Rub
1 teaspoon salt

Pour the water and beer into a large bowl. Add the yeast and whisk together. Gradually add 3/4 cup all-purpose flour. Whisk in the turmeric and let it stand in a warm location for about 30 to 45 minutes, until the yeast has a chance to bloom and the batter has a frothy, foamy top. 

Heat 1 gallon of peanut oil in a deep fryer (or about 1/2 gallon in a Dutch oven) to 375°F. Dredge 4 or 5 of the sliced onions really well in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and then dip them in the batter, coating them completely. Let the excess batter drip off and then carefully drop them into the hot oil, one at a time. Fry them for two minutes (flipping the onion rings over after one minute.) Remove them from the fryer when they are golden brown and drain on paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Depending on the size of your fryer or Dutch oven, you’ll need to cook these in several batches. The important thing to remember is to not crowd your fryer. 

Next, combine 4 teaspoons of the Hazel Dell Mushroom Seasoning Rub and 1 teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Sprinkle the hot, fried onion rings with the Mushroom Seasoning Salt right after you take them out of the fryer and serve with the dipping sauce.

Spicy Sriracha Mushroom Dipping Sauce
by Maryjo

3 Tablespoons prepared mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon Hazel Dell Mushroom Seasoning Rub

Combine the mayo, Sriracha, and mushroom seasoning rub. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Serve.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Albondigas with Hot Chimichurri Dipping Sauce

Albondigas is Spanish for meatballs. I used ground pork for mine, but you can certainly use beef or chicken. I find that I get juicier meatballs when I use ground pork. I was very happy with the ingredients that Traci mailed to me. From her package I used Goya Sazon with Cilantro and Tomato, Knorr MiniCube Cilantro, and the Gaucho Ranch Chimichurri Hot Sauce.

Albondigas with Hot Chimichurri Dipping Sauce
by Carlos

1 pound ground meat of choice
1 egg
4 slices white bread, crust removed, soaked in milk
4 Tablespoons plain bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Goya Adobo
1 packet Goya Sazon with Cilantro and Tomato
1 crumbled cube Knorr MiniCube Cilantro
Hefty handful flat parsley (Italian), finely chopped
Goya extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a fry pan
Gaucho Ranch Chimichurri Hot for dipping

Mix meat, egg, bread, bread crumbs, Goya Adobo, Goya Sazon, Knorr Minicube Cilantro, and parsley in a bowl. Form the meat into little balls. This recipe yields about 12 -14 meatballs. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add about half of the meatballs to the pan, do not over-crowd. Brown evenly on all sides. Remove the meatballs from pan, and fry the remainder. When they are all fried, place the meatballs in a pan and finish cooking in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Place the meatballs on your serving plate with a bowl of Chimichurri sauce in the center for dipping.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato Chips

Up until now, I've hated sweet potatoes. Or so I thought. Their inherent sweetness and general mushiness are just not my thing. When I received my surprise food box from my fellow 37 Cook, I cringed when I saw the misshapen, straw-colored root vegetable. Nancy, who lives in Hawaii, had no idea I didn't like sweet potatoes until after she’d sent the box. Faced with preparing these terrible tubers in some palatable manner, I turned to a method that I found somewhat edible: Potato chips. Usually deep fried, I found that oven roasting with plenty of olive oil yields just as good a result. Slicing the potato reveals a lovely,
variegated purple interior, and crisping in the oven with high heat adds a lovely brown tone. The dense texture of the flesh is perfect for chips, and the savory seasonings are balanced by just a hint of sweetness. This classic sweet/savory combination makes these chips irresistible. And bonus: These are really healthy for you, too!

Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato Chips
by Gary

Serves 4

2 medium Okinawan Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed, sliced 1/6” thick on a mandolin
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon grill seasoning, or to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with foil and spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Soak potato slices in cold, salted water for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, and soak in fresh cold water for five minutes. Drain well in colander. Lay potato slices out on paper towels; blot as
dry as possible. Place potato slices in a large, shallow casserole or wide pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and grill seasoning. Rub potato slices well, evenly distributing oil and seasonings.

Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheets. Place one sheet in oven and bake for six minutes. Turn slices over. Rotate pan and continue baking for five minutes more, or until edges are brown and centers are crisp-tender, taking care to not burn. Move chips to paper towels to drain. Check seasonings and correct with more salt, pepper, and grill seasoning, if desired. Repeat with second pan. (Reuse first pan, if necessary, to cook all the chips)

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Surprise Food Exchange Challenge

Do you love getting surprises in the mail? Have you ever gotten a surprise in the mail and then been told you have to cook something with it? If you had to send food in the mail that someone would have to cook with, what would you send?

Our cooks had to ponder those very questions for their challenge, The 37 Cooks Surprise Food Exchange. Those who took up this challenge were paired up and they both sent and received a food surprise. The only parameter given were to spend at least $10, but no more $20.

Well, ponder we did! Should we send something unique from our state? Should we send something homemade? Should we send something we love to eat? Should we be devilish and send something wild and bold?

Our recipes for this challenge are a mixture of all of the above. Great things to eat using great products hand picked or made by our cooks. It was a fun challenge that really surprised us all! We hope you will enjoy it too! - Linda at 37 Cooks