"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Butternut Squash Soup

    Fall, and all the squash are coming in. They are a marvelous source of food value, and have such wonderful rich and round tastes. The reall issue is getting to all that flavor, it being so tightly locked into the husk. One way to do this is a long slow simmer into a wonderful thick, rich soup.

    Bisque is a thick, creamy, highly-seasoned soup of French origin, classically made from lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish. Also, creamy soups made from vegetables instead of seafood are sometimes called bisques. Bisque is a method of extracting every bit of flavor from imperfect crustaceans not good enough to send to market. In an authentic bisque, the shells are ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup.

    Julia Child even remarked, “Do not wash anything off until the soup is done because you will be using the same utensils repeatedly and you don’t want any marvelous tidbits of flavor losing themselves down the drain.” Bisque are often thickened with rice, which can either be strained out, leaving behind the starch, or pureed upon the final stages.

    Bisque is also sometimes used to refer to cream-based soups that do not contain seafood, in which the ingredients are pureed or processed in a food processor or a food mill. Common varieties include tomato, mushroom, and squash bisque

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  • Meatless Monday – Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

    A chocolate chip cookie is a drop cookie that originated in the United States and features chocolate chips as its distinguishing ingredient. The traditional recipe combines a dough composed of butter and both brown and white sugar with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Variations include recipes with other types of chocolate or additional ingredients, such as nuts or oatmeal.

    The chocolate chip cookie was accidentally developed by Ruth Wakefield in 1933. She owned the Toll House Inn, in Whitman, Massachusetts, a very popular restaurant that featured home cooking in the 1930s. The restaurant’s popularity was not just due to its home-cooked style meals; her policy was to give diners a whole extra helping of their entrees to take home with them and a serving of her homemade cookies for dessert.

    Chocolate chip cookies are commonly made with white sugar; brown sugar; flour; a small portion of salt; eggs; a leavening agent such as baking powder; a fat, typically butter or shortening; vanilla extract; and semi-sweet chocolate pieces. Some recipes also include milk or nuts (such as chopped walnuts) in the dough.

    Depending on the ratio of ingredients, mixing and cooking times, some recipes are optimized to produce a softer, chewy style cookie while others will produce a crunchy/crispy style.

    Regardless of ingredients, the procedure for making the cookie is fairly consistent in all recipes: First, the sugars and fat are creamed, usually with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. The eggs and vanilla extract are added next followed by the flour and the leavener. Depending on the additional flavoring, its addition to the mix will be determined by the type used: peanut butter will be added with the wet ingredients while cocoa powder would be added with the dry ingredients.

    The titular ingredient, chocolate chips, as well as nuts are typically mixed in towards the end of the process to minimize breakage, just before the cookies are scooped and positioned on a cookie sheet.

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  • Braised Thick Cut Pork Chops

    The words from the lair… “NO MORE TURKEY!!!”..

    I suppose I must find a new main entree.. We’ve not had pork chops recently, and while at the store I found a very good price on a pork loin roast. (Think of it as bone in pork chops, still connected…)

    These chops will render out to be between 1 1/2″ to 2″ thick, so a sear and bake approach will be needed. I will brine them for flavor and moisture, maybe even slater them with Dijon Mustard, olive oil and cracked pepper for an extra taste kick.

    First one must break down the close to primal loin roast and produce 4 thick succulent chops. Then build a brine and soak the chops for 4 hours.

    I’ve dealt with how to make a brine in You have to be FREAKING kidding…. (How to make a Brine), and the effect of salting / brining in Improving Cheap Beef, Gaucho Style, so I’ll not dwell on those items.

    Pork chops are very easy to ruin. The modern porcine critter has very little intra musculature fat, making overcooking to an dry, gristly meat all too common. Braising a pork chop eradicates the fear of overcooking while providing a savory sauce to accompany your meal. The addition of aromatics and fruits enhances the flavor of the meat and the resulting sauce.

    Braising (from the French “braiser”), is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor. Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting, though some authors make a distinction between the two methods based on whether additional liquid is added.

    Most braises follow the same basic steps. The food to be braised (meat, poultry, but also vegetables or mushrooms) is first seared to brown its surface and enhance its flavor (through a process known as the Maillard reaction). If the food will not produce enough liquid of its own, a small amount of cooking liquid that often includes an acidic element, such as tomatoes, beer, or wine, is added to the pot, often with stock. The dish is cooked covered at a very low simmer until the meat is fork tender. Often the cooking liquid is finished to create a sauce or gravy.

    A successful braise intermingles the flavors of the foods being cooked and the cooking liquid. This cooking method dissolves collagen from the meat into gelatin, to enrich and add body to the liquid. Braising is economical, as it allows the use of tough and inexpensive cuts, and efficient, as it often employs a single pot to cook an entire meal.

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  • FlockMasters Pie

    Well I am back at the lair, and looking at the wreckage of the Bad Wolf Turkey Dinner. There is a lot of wreckage, and a bit of food left. I just need to to fit it into a palatable dish.

    This is not going to be one of the set recipes, more like a I have this, this and this, how do I stretch one more meal out of these leftovers. Truly recession food.

    Maybe a hash, but I’ve done that, maybe a stew / gumbo, but that has also been done… Leafing through my recipes, I find a Shepard’s pie. A beef stew casserole covered with mashed potatoes and baked.. Now if I do the same with a turkey stew … Maybe a FlockMasters Pie?

    If I pick off the meat left on the carcass, (Mostly very flavorful, dark meat), add the carrots, peas, and Perl onions left from the side dishes, then moisten this with left over gravy, then heat through, I’ll have a very nice stew. Kind of a turkey joins forces with the sides to once again provide you with a true food coma.

    I’ll take one of my baking dishes, butter and pack in a crust of stuffing, ladle in my stew and cover with the reheated mashies, add a shaving of cheese from the cheese platter and toss it all in to bake for 20 minutes @ 500, or until the gravy starts to bubble and the potatoes brown once again…

    If one is more Pub centric, spooning the stew into pie crusts, and baking is also a delicious option.

  • Turkey Hash

    Ah, The morning / noon after the big day. I’ve had many hours of turkey and desert induced sleep, and have woken up ravenous. I want breakfast, and I want it to have a hearty core to it. No bagle / donut / si-si cake. I want real food.

    It’s the day after T-Day, so I have lots of turkey, and I see some smashed potatoes there as well. Perhaps onions and garlic, sauteed off, mixed with some chopped jalapenos, and then I’ll add some shredded dark meat turkey as well as a helping of mashies. Saute / fry until hot through out, then I’ll make a well in the center and add jumbo eggs to cook off. Of course one can serve this with reheated crescent rolls. (I would, if there were any left..)

    Hash is a dish consisting of meat, potatoes, and spices, that are mashed together into a smooth, creamy consistency, and then cooked either alone or with other ingredients such as onions.

    In many locations, hash is served primarily as a breakfast food on restaurant menus and as home cuisine, often served with eggs and toast (or biscuits), and occasionally fried potatoes (hash browns, home fries, etc.). The dish may also use corned beef or roast beef.

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  • Turkey, Smoked

    And absolute hit each time I prepare it, with many complements and often threats of dire consequences if I do not reveal the “secret”to this.

    The secret is patience, smoke and time.

    Truly a taste from my youth, there was, (may still be) a smoked turkey shop just outside of Waco, Texas, for a number of years the Thanksgiving Turkey was bought there. The taste is a memory of simpler times, and I’ll be attempting to recapture that this year.

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