Sunday, August 31, 2014

Deep fried Pescado Tilapia con Puerto Rican Rice

Yesterday I made my family's favorite dish Arroz con Pollo or chicken and rice. Today I did something I have always wanted to try, I deep fried a whole fish. We don't have fish markets like in other big cities. We oftentimes have to buy our fish frozen. I was perusing Woodman's and came across these whole Tilapia in the Hispanic section. When I shopped this week, I found them in the clearance bin. The only thing wrong was the package has split open. This was my chance to try to make this.

The fish come whole, are scaled, and the innards removed. They still have their bones in so be careful! I made a seasoned flour with two cups flour, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 2 TBSP Emeril's Essence. 

In a wok I added two cups of vegetable oil and heated it to 375 degrees. I had a thermometer on the side of the pan to insure I kept a constant temperature.  I fried mine for 5 minutes per side and it came out nice and flaky. I flipped with a metal spoon on either side. The last thing you want is hot oil to splatter.  You can eat the skin but I don't recommend eating the fins. They are very sharp and crunchy. I made one at a time and held one on a baking sheet in a warmed oven. 

Serve along with your favorite rice. You could make this fish Asian style with 5 spice powder and Hoisin Sauce too. Serve with white rice. 

Puerto Rican Rice 

2 cups long grain rice 
4 cups chicken broth
2-3 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP chicken bouillon 
1 onion diced 
12-15 olive with pimento 
2 TBSP capers optional 
2-4 pieces ham diced 
2 TBSP oil 

I love making Arroz con Pollo. In that case I use 4-5 bone in chicken thighs. I coat them in flour seasoned with Adobo and fry on each side for 8-10 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. If not using the chicken, just go on to the next step. Add the onions and saute' for 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and saute another 2 or so minutes. Add the rice and coat with the oil or chicken grease. Then add the liquid and the chicken pieces back in on top of the broth along with the ham and olives. Bring to a boil and turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid. Without chicken cook for 20 minutes. With the chicken, cook on the stove for 25-30 minutes. Remove this chicken and add the chicken bouillon, Stir the rice and check for flavor. 
I like to make a lot of rice. Just make sure use the 2:4 ratio. It's even better the next day and your family will love it!  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Not So Waterproof Camera Vs. The Waterpark

I haven't blogged in a week or so because my waterproof camera somehow got wet inside and no longer works. I tried drying it out in some rice but that didn't work. I am very sad because I love the pictures this camera takes and it's very convenient to use in the kitchen. I constantly spill food on it and being waterproof helps a lot. I might have to use my daughter's camera in the weeks to come. I haven't been doing much food wise except for making pickles. I finished a batch of bread and butter pickles that the family has loved. They go great with my homemade sloppy joes. I am also back to school as of yesterday which will make my time more limited. I hope all of you are having a great day!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza

My family loves this one and yours will love this too. Creamy mashed potatoes along with delicious turkey bacon make the perfect combination. 

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza

6-8 medium sized potatoes peeled cut into quarters
1/2 cups milk (I used Fat Free)
1/2 cup sour cream
3 TBSP butter
2 minced garlic cloves
a bunch of chives diced
1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper
3 slices turkey bacon or bacon of your choice fried and chopped
8 oz cheddar cheese
1 pizza crust
cornmeal for dusting

Note: You can find pizza crusts in your frozen food section or at your local bakery or pizza place. Mine only cost a buck at Woodman's.
In a medium pan add enough water to cover the potatoes. Boil until fork tender. Add the milk and sour cream to the potatoes and beat with a mixer until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pre Bake the pizza crust for 5 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Remove from the oven and evenly spread the mashed potatoes over the pizza crust. Top with the cheese. Season again with salt and pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes. After it comes out of the oven, garnish with chives and chopped bacon. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Po Boy Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

I had a craving for Po Boy Shrimp sandwiches but made it into a taco. I didn't use the traditional toppings of lettuce and tomato but made a delicious mango salsa and a Remoulade sauce to go on top. The shrimp I purchased deveined and uncooked. For the batter I went the beer batter and cornmeal route. These are sure to be a crowd pleaser!

To defrost the shrimp, set in a bowl of cool water, changing the water several times until defrosted. This batter would be good on onion rings too.

Po Boy Shrimp

1 lb frozen shrimp, peeled,  deveined, and defrosted
2 cups flour 1/4 cup reserved flour
1 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup cornmeal
8 oz. Miller Lite beer
3-4 inch vegetable or canola oil
Adobo seasoning or Zatarain's cajun seasoning
1 dozen flour tortillas

My new favorite deep frying surface is inside a wok. It has high sides so you won't set burn and has all around better temperature control. I also use a spider to fish out the shrimp. Whatever you use, make sure to always keep an eye on your oil and keep the temperature around 350 degrees.

Mix all of the spices and flour. Begin to mix in the beer a little at a time. The batter should be a little thick. Dredge the shrimp in the 1/4 cup flour and then place into the batter. Next move the shrimp into the oil. Fry for 4-5 minutes and remove to paper towels. Season with Adobo or Cajun seasoning. I put my oven on warm on a cookie sheet. Fry in batches.

Serve with this delicious Remoulade sauce.

Remoulade Sauce

1 cup Mayo or Miracle Whip
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic minced
3 TBSP Creole mustard
3 TBSP ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dashes hot sauce
3 sweet pickles diced
1 tsp chili powder

Mix all of the ingredients and refrigerate until serving.

Add three shrimp per tortilla along with the Remoulade.

Mango Salsa

1 mango diced
1 avocado diced
1 Roma tomato diced
1 handful cilantro chopped
1/2 pepper chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper

Add all of the ingredients and let marinade. Be sure to stir or the avocado will turn brown. Serve over the shrimp or on the side.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Peanut Pesto Focaccia

I saw this recipe on Lidia Bastianich's show on PBS for Thyme focaccia. Focaccia is a thicker crust than pizza and becomes very airy when it rises. This recipe uses yeast. I didn't have any so off to the grocery store I went. This recipe makes two large focaccia. I made one in a glass baking sheet and topped that one with garlic and Parmesan. The pesto one I baked the tomatoes on top and added the pesto afterward. I wanted the pesto to stay bright green.  I have been growing my own Basil and harvested the top leaves. I have made the pesto in the past with all kinds of nuts including pistachios. Pine nuts can be really expensive. Peanuts were on hand this day. If you don't have basil readily available, you can use parsley and cilantro in this recipe too.
Note: I made the pesto during the second rising of the dough.
Peanut Basil Pesto

10-20 leaves Basil and stems
2-4 garlic cloves
4 oz Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

after 2nd rising
In a food processor, grind the garlic and nuts. Add a basil leaves. Begin to drizzle in the olive oil, add the Parm, salt and pepper. Process until there are no big bits of nuts or Basil.


5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 packets yeast
2 cups warm water
1 TBSP sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp.  Thyme leaves (I used dry)
1/2 cup coarse Parmesan
sea salt for sprinkling
ground black pepper for sprinkling
Roma tomatoes for topping
2 TBSP cornmeal for the bottom of the pans

Add the warm water, sugar and yeast into a bowl and mix. Let sit for 5 minutes. To a large bowl add the flour and olive oil along with the yeast mixture. Beat with a mixer until the dough comes together. I add the thyme in this step also. Remove from the bowl and knead the dough with your hands until it forms a sticky ball and all of the flour is incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover dough with a paper towel and let rise in a warm place. I used a spot in front of my window. Let rise for 45 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and either freeze the one of the halves for up to two weeks or make both like I did. I oiled a glass Pyrex and sprinkled the bottom with cornmeal.  I then rolled out one of the halves of dough big enough to fit my Pyrex. I poked holes in it with my finger and topped with olive oil, Parm, salt and pepper. Let this dough rise for another 20 minutes.

Bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. I followed the same steps for the other piece of focaccia. I let it rise, poked it with holes and then topped it with the Parm and tomatoes. When I removed it from the oven, I topped it with the pesto. We had rather large pieces, but this would be good as an app. at a party in smaller pieces. This is great hot or cold.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dried Cherry Cake

I recently came across two huge bags of dried cherries. We have been eating them as fruit snacks, putting them in pancakes, eating nothing but cherries. I recently came across this recipe for dried cherry cake. It's more like a coffee cake as there is no frosting and it is a bit more dense. It's topped with sugar but I think it would be good with a powdered sugar glaze. I made it in a 9x13 but you could do it in a cake round too.  Here's how I made it.

Dried Cherry Cake

1 cup dried cherries
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
8 oz of flavored or plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water (pour a little in  at a time)
chopped almonds (optional)
2 TBSP sugar for topping

Firstly boil 2 cups water and cover the cherries with it for 20 minutes. Drain the cherries and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl mix the dry ingredients and then add the yogurt, vanilla, egg, and  oil. If the batter is too thick start adding water about 1/4 cup at a time. You want the consistency of cake batter. Fold in the cherries with a spatula.  Even out the batter in the pan, sprinkle with sugar and almonds, and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review of Sara Moulton's Bacon, Tomato, and Egg Pie (BLT Pie)

I love quiche and when I saw Sara Moulton's show on PBS, it brought the things I like the best bacon and quiche. The pie crust I love to use is Martha Stewart's recipe. I used the one for only one pie crust. I was amazed that Sara's recipe only called for 3 eggs. The thing I probably would have added with this recipe is a tsp. of baking powder. My pie didn't come out as high as hers and I did add a 4th egg. She also layered tomatoes on the bottom which I did not. I used two really big Roma tomatoes. The caramelized onions added a sweetness.  Overall I liked the flavor of the pie. I used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon (3 strips diced)  The tomatoes and the Mayo taste great together. She also salted her tomatoes before hand which enhanced the flavor.

Here's how I made it:

The Crust

1 stick of butter cut into slices
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2-4 TBSP ice cold water

I love using the food processor for this crust. I pulse all of the ingredients until I see the dough begin to come together. It looks a little crumbly and you can see butter in the dough. Remove the dough to a piece of plastic wrap and shape with your hands into a disc. The dough should come together without much kneading. Put in the fridge for at least a hour.
Flour both your rolling pin and your surface. Roll out the dough starting in the middle and working your way out. Turn the dough 1/3 turn until you have a circle that will cover a pie pan with a little room to spare on the edges. Set the pie crust in the pan and be careful not to rip the bottom.  Use your fingers to pinch the pie crust around the top and prick holes in the bottom of the crust.
sprinkle both sides with salt and let sit

The BLT Pie Filling (my adaptation)

4 eggs
2-4 large Roma tomatoes sliced thinly
3 slices cooked crispy turkey bacon diced
1 onion diced
3/4 cup skim or fat-free milk
1/2 cup Mayo (I used the real thing here)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of Cayenne
1 tsp. baking powder

I didn't make the L part or the lettuce part of this recipe. She has a recipe for a nice dressing on the PBS site but I didn't add the salad to mine. We did eat this for dinner. Kids love breakfast for dinner.
Brown the onions for 5 minutes in a bit of oil and cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Layer some of the tomatoes on the bottom of the crust.
Mix the eggs and milk and beat with a whisk. Add the Mayo, cooled onions,  bacon, salt, pepper and cayenne, and baking powder. Once fully mixed add to the pie crust. Layer the top of the pie with more tomatoes.

I baked mine for 35 minutes and found the crust wasn't all the way baked. You may want to go 40-45 minutes. You are looking for the inside to be set. Serve with the side salad or on it's own.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pickle Making Day

I love dill pickles! In-fact I will eat anything pickled. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I ate one of those industrial sized jars of pickled mushrooms. I had wanted to make some of those too but the Farmer's market was all out. To make pickles you need a few essential ingredients: 6 lbs. Pickling cucumbers, garlic, dill,  jars for canning with lids, a pickling pack (I am using Mrs. Wages), pickling vinegar, a large pot with a lid (I am using my tamale steamer),  another pot for the pickling solution, and a ladle. Fill the large pot with water and bring to a boil. Sanitize all of the jars and lids along with any tools you will be using to pick the jars out of the water or to fill them. Set to the side and let cool. Continue to let the water boil.

I firstly washed and cut all of the cucumbers into spears. I like to cut off each end first. Then I cut the halves into 2-4 pieces depending on how big the pieces were. I peeled 6 cloves of garlic (one for each jar) and then added a few sprigs of dill to the sanitized jar. Each jar gets dill and about 12-16 spears.

In another pot follow the package directions for the pickling liquid. I know from prior experience that I always run out of pickling liquid so I added two more cups water to one cup vinegar. To each filled
pickle jar I ladled in the liquid until there was about 1/2 inch head space between the lid of the jar and ringed edges. I filled to right below the start of the first ridge.

Each jar was fitted with a lid and then put into the boiling water with the tongs so the water covers the top of the jars. You may have to remove or add water here so the jars are covered and then bring it back to a boil. I am able to fit in 4 jars at a time and I covered the pot with a lid and let it process and boil for 10 minutes. The jars were then removed with the tongs and let to sit on a table to cool. The seals will make a popping sound when sealed. It may take a few hours. Let the jars continue to cool overnight. These jars are shelf stable for 6-12 months due to their high acid content. I keep one or two in the fridge and a few in the pantry. I plan on making some sweet pickles towards the end of the growing season and possibly some pickled beets.