Monday, June 22, 2020

Savannah Clam Chowder

Morning Loves! 
I'm so excited to start sharing recipes from the brand new Outlander Kitchen Cookbook! This continuation of hearty historically driven dishes draws inspiration from the New World that Jamie and Claire find themselves in. There are so many yummy meals to try! 
I wasn't sure which to start with but a marvelous opportunity presented itself. My mom suggested we come for a visit to celebrate my dad's birthday and fathers day, which are close together. He has always preferred home cooked meals, much to my teenage dismay, so I thought it would be fun to surprise him with a home-made treat! I settled on Savannah Clam Chowder!
Clam Chowder is so far from what I usually try to attempt so I thought it would be a great challenge. One new experience presented itself quickly, I had never actually ordered anything from the deli counter, let alone purchased 4 pounds of clams. I felt like a real wifey...should have had a kerchief tied around my head to keep my freshly curled hair in place. Besides my new vintage 50s wife fantasy, all other ingredients were easily found and I was on my way toward Chowder dominance! Let's start this journey...
 For the first step in making chowder, you need to prep the clams. Add clams and two cups of water to a dutch oven type pot, bringing them to a boil. The shells should open in about 4 to 8 minutes. Go ahead and discard any that do not open. Side note, don't be swayed by their salty smell and sandy goo, fresh clams are the best choice. It really made a difference taste wise. Also, 4 pounds sound like a lot but the weight is mainly from its shells. 
Transfer the clams to a pot using a slotted spoon and filter the excess water through a cheese cloth and save, adding in fresh water to equal about 6 cups. Once the clams cool off, go ahead and pull the meat from their shells and set aside. If the clam meat is large just chop into more bite-sized pieces.
While waiting for the clams to cool, I went ahead and prepped the other ingredients for the chowder. Chopping up 1 large onion, 2 stalks of celery, 8 ounces of salt pork and about 2 pounds of yellow potatoes.
In the cleaned dutch oven, cook the pork until golden and transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Pour off any excess fat from the pan, leaving about 1/4 cup in the pan to cook with. Add the diced onions and celery, cooking until onions are translucent and golden. When the pork was ready to remove I didn't have a lot of grease left but the veggies cooked well anyways, so don't fret.
Next stir in 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. My dad doesn't like too much spice so I was pretty light handed with the pepper. However I served Craig's with a great deal more sprinkled on top. 
After stirring for about 30 seconds add in 1/4 cup of flour, stirring for 2 minutes. This is when you add the clam broth/water you had saved, 2 bay leaves and the diced yellow potatoes. I chose to use little potatoes that wouldn't need to be peeled. They also cooked much quicker. After adding in the clam broth I was nervous that the soup would be...well...too soupy. But the water cooked down a little and the potatoes added much needed starch. 
Bring soup to a simmer over medium heat and let cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. I checked the potatoes by sticking them with a fork, if they fall off, you are good to go!
After removing the bay leaves, add in the salt pork, 2 cups of light cream and most importantly the clams! Finally right!? Stir the chowder and increase the temperature until the soup is 'piping hot'. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper, as you like, and you are ready to serve. Voila! Home-made clam chowder!
The Outlander Cookbook shows the chowder in two rustic bowls which is just lovely but I thought it would be even better to serve the chowder in sourdough rolls! Before you ask, no I did not make the sourdough but I did think about it he he! This little detail really turned out nicely.
Okay, not to brag but my dad was impressed with my chowder skills! Thanks to Theresa Carle-Sanders I served a wonderfully rich lunch that reminded him of past trips to the east coast! It was simplistic but not overpoweringly creamy and really let the ingredients speak for themselves. The salt pork was the main note, cutting back on the brininess of the clams, but the thyme brought an earthy flavor which was really nice. Such a great treat! My dad didn't even mind the hint of spice! 
The only negative will be pandora's box that I just opened. He's going to expect more of these home-cooked meals now he he! 
Thanks for readin!
Cheers, Bunny

Monday, May 25, 2020

Drunk in Luv

Hi there! 
Santa Cruz is heating up so I grabbed some watermelon for the Sakara Drunk in Luv Cocktail. So refreshing and yummy!
For this drink you will need: 1 cup of watermelon juice, a few pieces of cubed watermelon, 1 shot of rum, ice and some fresh mint. Luckily I had everything except the watermelon. Tip for picking out a top-notch melon, give them a quick knuckle tap and listen. The more hollow they sound the better. 
Once you have everything, place your watermelon cubes, mint and ice into your glass. Then stir together the watermelon juice and shot of rum. Pour that mixture over the ice, mint and cubes. 
Voila! A refreshing lightly sweet cocktail for those hot summer days!
I went ahead and made some more to share, Jack supervised!
Cheers Luvs!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Ragoo'd Pork

It's Dinner Time! 
After going through the Outlander Cookbook I wanted to make something savory and a bit different than what I normally lean towards. Which means something meaty LOL! I thought that Craig would appreciate a good meat dish, so I settled on the Ragoo'd Pork, and boy was he happy!
Alright, let's get started! First we need to prepare the meat. Not my favorite part of cooking, but it had to be done to satisfy the meat-a-saurus in our family he he.
The recipe calls for 4 to 5 pounds of boneless pork shoulder cut into 6 or 8 pieces. Don't worry about size variations of each piece, you will end up shredding the tender pork.
Next sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper into a pan. You will then dredge the pork pieces in the flour, cover all sides.
In a large pot, or whatever kind of Dutch oven/stock pot you have, melt 1/4 butter over medium heat. Once the butter is bubbling place half of the pork pieces into the pot to sizzle. Leave space in between the pieces and cook until all sides are browned. Move cooked pieces to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork.
While you're cooking the pork, gather up 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, 1 rosemary sprig and 1 strips of lemon zest for your seasoning/garnishes. You will want to enclose these items into a tea ball or small cheese cloth. Set aside for now. I love that the cookbook calls them a bouquet garni, so cute! Next, once all meat has been cooked and removed, it's time to create the stew. In the same pot add 1 large chopped onion (julienned preferably) and scrape up any browned meat bits. Stir constantly until the onions are a golden color. Then add in 1 tbs tomato paste and stir for about 1 minute. Pour in 1 cup of red wine, to dilute the meat sediments, and bring to a boil. Then add 1 cup of chicken stock, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tbs Worcester sauce and all pork pieces. 
This is when you will add your bouquet garni. Sadly I had neither a cheese cloth or tea ball, so when it was time to plunge them into the stew and then remove, I just picked the pieces out. This didn't detract from the overall taste wheeew! Then reduce heat, cover and let the stew simmer until the meat is tender. This takes about 3 hours.
After you have waited FOR-EV-ER, remove the bouquet and skim any fat from the stews surface. Shred the pork pieces, 2 forks are actually the easiest way. Congrats you have created a delicious hearty ragoo'd pork! 
I went ahead and made some wheat pasta to accompany the ragoo, much like the Italian version of this dish. It's a little funny to create something that I don't intend on eating but my thrill comes from trying something new and pleasing someone's taste buds. In this instance I also got pasta and our kitchen smelled delicious! Craig's take, "the ragoo is authentic, hearty and satisfying. Pairs well with some more red wine! With dinner a success, thank you Theresa Carle-Sanders, this recipe also yielded some tasty leftovers.
In case you were curious, Jack pretty much slept through most of this process LOL! He was a bit disappointed that the pork wasn't for him.
Cheers, Bunny

Monday, May 4, 2020

Strawberries Romanoff

I was perusing my cookbooks, because ya know quarantine, and came upon an intriguing and quick treat, Strawberries Romanoff. I found it funny that the instructions only made up a 1/2 page in the dessert section of the Commander's Palace Cookbook. Yet they were straight forward and easy to follow. All I needed to acquire were strawberries and some cream, I already had everything else!
Recipe calls for: 
24 Very Ripe Strawberries
2 Teaspoons Sugar
8 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
2 Cups Heavy Cream, whipped
and 4 Ounces of Triple Sec/Grand Marnier
To start my Strawberries Romanoff, I cut up 20 strawberries, leaving 4 for garnish, and crushed them in the sugar with a fork. The juices soaked up the sugar creating a slight jam.
Then I added the whipped cream and ice cream, folding them all together. The Commander's Palace does have an ice cream recipe but we already had some vanilla bean in the freezer, begging to be eaten. I'll have to try making my own someday. 
Instantly the mixture resembled a soft cloud with streaks of pink and red. So pretty! *Be sure to whip your heavy cream beforehand, you want those soft peaks to formLastly, and most importantly, I mixed in the Triple Sec. For plating, I spooned the cream into wine glasses and garnished with my biggest strawberries! Voila!
OMG...guys...I created something....dreamy! Straight from the Commander's Palace Cookbook to my mouth! This fluffy divine creation was sweet and creamy. Each strawberry adding a tart flavor to the vanilla ice cream. The addition of Triple Sec took the dessert to another, more adult, level as well. Straying far from our usual chocolate chip cookies. I was so excited to have something new to devour, so was Craig!
Cheers to such a perfect treat!

SAKARA: French 69

Bonjour Lovelies!
I hope you are doing alright, during our extended quarantine. I can't believe it's already May and we are still sheltering in place. So surreal! Santa Cruz has been getting hot too, so I wanted to make something refreshing yet lush he he! The Sakara Cookbook has a few specialty drinks but the ladies have been sharing new ones, thank goddess, mainly through their S Life virtual Mag. One of their new cocktails, the French 69, looked delish' and perfect for a hot afternoon! 
The Sakara Life take on a French 69 is pretty simple: 1 part Vodka, 1/2 part St. Germain, muddled mint and Prosecco. Thankfully I had all of the ingredients, except fresh mint. So after masking up and grabbing some I was all set! 
*Of course, don't forget to serve in your most French looking glass.
As simple as this drink was, it did not disappoint. The mint and St. Germain was light and I really loved the splash of bubbly, so good! I'll definitely make this one again.

À tout à l’heure! -Bunny

Monday, April 27, 2020

TB: Reviver

Howdy my loves! 
How are you all doing during quarantine? This is such a weird and stressful time so I thought I'd get out my favorite cookbook and look for a cocktail. One drink caught my eye and seemed perfect, the Reviver. Plus we had all the ingredients. This one is 'from' Miss Holly Cleary the True Blood resident Wiccan. I love how she always keeps salt in her purse!
To start this cocktail you will need 1.5 ounces of Gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and Lemon Juice. We happened to have gin and some white wine but for the Cointreau we had to use a bright blue orange liqueur. I was worried about how it would taste but it turned out to be just fine! On top of this mix you splash some Pernod, which is an anise flavored liqueur. Absinthe worked perfectly! 
Next add to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and give it a go! I was terrified of getting blue all over the place so I was a tad hesitant when shaking he he! Lastly I garnished with a sweet black cherry. If anyone know me, they know I love love love a good maraschino cherry!
Voilà, you have a yummy new cocktail to sip at home while you wonder what to do with your day. I asked Craig for his thoughts on this cocktail, he is my mixologist..."this Reviver is refreshing and complex in its nuanced flavor pallet giving a sharp taste of orange and a bite of anise. It's sweet yet strong enough to wake you up!" 
I couldn't have said it better myself. Perfect for #quarantine life!
Cheers, Bunny

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Zesty Madeleines

Hey fellow quarantine people! 
After going through our kitchen and organizing a bit, I found my Madeleine pan and decided to make some yummy spongy treats! But I would need to use what I already have....which wasn't much. Fortunately we happened to have a bunch of tangerines that will make a great citrus zest!

Madeleines are pretty simple...thank goodness! I made them awhile ago but couldn't quite remember the process. You start by combining 3 eggs, 2/3 cup of sugar and tangerine zest in a bowl. You really only need 1.5 tsp of zest for the flavor to come out. But feel free to add more if you like but don't over do it LOL!
Next you whisk together the dry ingredients, 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt. Then combine the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and add in 6 tbsp of melted butter and voila! Your dough is complete!
One important part of making Madeleine cookies is that the dough needs to chill for at least an hour, allowing for the traditional Madeleine "hump" to form during baking. 
After chilled, add 1 tbsp of dough to each Madeleine imprint. But don't worry, the dough will spread out on its own, so no touching he he. *Be sure to coat your pan in baking spray beforehand.
Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes, or until edges are golden. Then once cooled, sprinkle powdered sugar and serve. These cookies are at their best on the day they are baked, but the dough may be made about 2 days ahead of time.
Jack was a little disappointed that he could not try these delicious French cookies, but he was proud of me for wrangling together ingredients to make them. He's so supportive! They were indeed yummy and spongy. Like a Twinkys classy uncle ha ha!
While mixing up these Madeleines my mind wandered to New Orleans. It could be the simplicity of the southern lifestyle or the warm feeling that catches in my chest when thinking of our trips could be both. But I suddenly had a clear vision of a small two story home in the French Quarter, small balcony lined with a few Mardi Gras beads and hanging plants. A stoic cat perched on a filigreed chair, in front of green window shutters, gazing out into the world. The day starting to warm and the streets filling with visitors. Having a small shop with my art and fresh cookies, open and waiting for guests. Light reverberations of blues flowing through the walls and the distant smell of gumbo in the air. This image makes my heart so happy, someday it could be true, but back to reality I go.
 Thinking of French treats, it would be an uplifting idea for everyone to pick something they will make, once the lock downs are over. Something delicious to share, or just to celebrate the end of this surreal reality. I'm choosing beignets, I'm sure you could have guested that ha ha! Hopefully I will get to make them soon!