Wednesday, August 31

Solar Chicken and Mussels in Garlic Sauce - Redoux

This is a repost of a recipe that has proven to be delicious and memorable every time I've cooked it and decided to share it with my newer followers whilst there was still some light, summer, days to come. It's a combination you'd never think of -- until you try it -- and, then, can't imagine why you never thought of it, in the first place. Have fun and get ready to bow to compliments.

Chicken and Mussels in Garlic Sauce Over Spaghetti Squash
Ha ha ha...I tricked my sister! Told her we were having the chicken and mussels over spaghetti squash and it wasn't until later that she realized what I said...but, she loves both squash and pasta, so all was well. Exclamations of "OMG!" and, "This belongs on Gordon Ramsay's show" --(she's tends to exaggerate in the throes of an eating frenzy) was proof enough that I had scored big with this original recipe. Normally a graceful slow diner, I knew I had to eat fast, if I wanted a second helping -- of my own dinner!  ...great result! So good, I've shared it with Prairie Story's Recipe Swap Thursday #32 (It's entry number 45, so check out the others, too!

Friday, August 26

Solar Chicken Tortillas in Egg and Cheese Blanket

Remember when I had five egg yolks left over from the Pavlova? Well, I found a use for them and ended up with another recipe to move to the front of the recipe box under 'Favorites.' The result was even better than I imagined -- great texture, a firm 'blanket' of cheese and egg, and absolutely delicious. I served mine with brown rice and kidney beans. (My daughter says I need more reds in my plating.)

There was a special on chicken parts, earlier in the month, and I stocked up on leg sections. Turned out, I was too lazy to separate them into individual packages, so decided to just roast them all and then shred them for freezing in 8oz. packages. Just in time for the next recipe!

Chicken Tortillas in Egg and Cheese Blanket
8 oz roasted chicken (dark or white meat)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves
1 small carrot, finely chopped
2 banana peppers, finely chopped
4 oz. minced kernel corn
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chervil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground stevia
1/3 cup bread crumbs
salt to taste
1 cup Mexican shredded cheese mix
1 cup hoop cheese (mild cheddar)
5 egg yolks (my leftovers) OR
2 large eggs (5 Tablespoons beaten egg)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 flour tortillas

Directions:  Combine roasted chicken through salt to taste in large mixing bowl; combine cheese through baking powder in separate bowl.

Preheat solar oven. (Conventional oven - 275F)

I forgot to measure the actual amount of mixture to place just above center of tortilla, but it should look like this:

Fold sides toward center, then top down, and bottom over top. If you zap in the microwave for 10 seconds, tortilla will fold without cracking. Place seam side down in roasting pan. Cover with cheese mixture.

Bake in solar oven 60 - 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in 'blanket' comes out clean. This will look more cakey than saucy, which is why I called it a blanket. But, the texture is light and the whole thing was absolutely scrumptuous. The stevia removes the harshness of the pepper without taking away the bite -- sort of the way chocolate removes the bite from chili. Isn't this pretty!

It cuts clean and would make a great appetizer, too, because it slices clean and keeps its shape.

My sister loved it the way it turned out, but my friend said she could have had it even hotter, so don't be afraid to punch it up, if you like it hot.

Monday, August 22

Herbalicious Sausage and Cheese Balls

I'm not going to say that Sausage and Cheese Balls are strictly a Southern appetizer but I had never tasted them until I arrived in the South and, from that point on, they seemed to appear at every holiday and party! They're bite-sized, delicious, and can really take the edge off hungry guests waiting for the main course. Most hostesses make them at least a full inch around but I would be serving these at the Midtown Market as samples of solar cooking.

Walking from my Craft Shop to the Big House (all 1100+ square feet of it!), my fresh herbs began calling to me.  Had already planned on sausage balls for the market and was letting that idea roil around in my brain, while keeping my hands busy. Most recipes I knew used biscuit mix and very few spices and herbs, letting the sausage carry that weight; but, I would be doing mine from scratch and decided to let my herbs speak to me as I wandered through the garden. Turned out to be a great idea.

Preheat solar oven to 225F.

Homemade Biscuit Mix:  1 cup flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon lard/tallow/butter, 1 /3 cup powdered milk, 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together. Using two knives or pastry blender or processor, cut shortening into dry mix until thoroughly blended.
[NOTE: Do NOT add shortening, unless ready to use. Or, keep mix in refrigerator and use within a week.]

Herbalicious Sausage and Cheese Balls
1 pound mild or hot sausage
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
2 cups biscuit mix or Bisquick
1-1/2 cups mixed shredded cheeses (I used sharp cheddar, parmesan, and fontina)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon melted butter

That's pretty standard for southern sausage balls. I added these fresh herbs:
4 5" stems of fresh rosemary
3 large leaves of fresh stevia
2 3" stems of spearmint
6 5" stems of Greek oregano
5 stems of Italian parsley

Remove leaves from rosemary stems; add to rest of herbs. (If the stems are not woody, I don't remove the leaves from fresh herbs, just chop them all together.) Using a butcher knife or processor, finely chop all the herbs together and add to sausage mix. Unless making a pesto, I prefer the butcher knife method for evenness and less clean-up.

Directions:  In heavy skillet over med-high heat, saute sausage until crumbly, move to sides of pan; add chopped onion and celery to center and cook until soft. Set aside to cool slightly. In large bowl, combine biscuit mix, herbs, cheeses. Add sausage mixture, beaten eggs and melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Using large end of melon baller or 1/2 teaspoon, (or your hands) drop balls of sausage mix onto lightly sprayed cooking tray. I was able to get 48 mini balls on those throw-away trays, and then stacked them in the solar oven. I also forgot to take pictures of this step. Sorry.

Bake in solar oven for approximately an hour. Test after forty-five minutes, so they don't get too dry. The herbs added an extra oomph to this Southern tradition and I don't think I could go back to the old recipe, myself. Here, try one:
Now, let me know what herbs you'll be trying and share with us.

Sunday, August 14

Solar Pavlova - Perfect Summer Dessert

This was supposed to show up earlier in the week, but I forgot to hit the 'publish' button when I scheduled it.
Pavlovette, Lemon Curd &
A Pavlova is a sweet meringe shell with a marshmallowy center filled with you favorite fresh fruits or jams, named after the ballerina, Anna Pavlova. If cooked correctly, it does resemble a beautiful poofed ballet skirt, too. But, since I was working the Midtown Market, I wasn't about to fix a full-sized pavlova and then have to deal with cutting it into bite-sized pieces, surrounded by hungry tasters drumming their fingers, so I made Pavlovettes! The baking temp for this scrumptilicious dessert is 275F, and a perfect solar cooking recipe. To make the crust firm and crunchy but still keep the center soft, don't remove the pavlova from the oven when it's done. Turn the oven away from the sun and let it slowly cool for about twenty minutes.

Pavlova Recipe: 3 cups egg whites (6 large eggs), 1-1/2 cups sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons corn starch, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Directions: Mix whites to a full froth with vanilla before whipping with your mixer for really high meringue. Mix all dry ingredients together, then add in small amounts to frothy meringue; continue whipping meringe until it has formed very stiff peaks.

[NOTE: It's important that your egg whites are at room temperature for the best result.] For the full-sized Pavlova, arrange on baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. For the Pavlovettes, I put the meringue in a plastic bag, cut a hole in one corner, and used my hand to press out the smaller blobs.

Use the back of a wet spoon to create the hollows. You can shape the larger one by plopping a large scoop on the parchment paper and spreading it to whatever width you want and then drop large spoonfuls around the edges. This will give you a 'bowl' for your fruit etc.

Your filling can be almost anything your family likes, whether it's fresh or frozen fruits or jams. You don't want to overwhelm the delicateness of the meringue, so I'd keep the bottom at least 1/2" high. For a really festive look, drizzle some honey or chocolate over all and don't even think of anything but how delicious this is and how much your family will love it.

I put just about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon curd in the hollow, then added the raspberry. If I were at home, I would have added more fruit juices and some whipped cream on top. (This is also supposed to be a decadent dessert.)

Lemon curd just happens to be one of my favorite never-be-without kitchen accessories, and it's very easy to make. Some years ago, I discovered that it's almost impossible to get lumpy gravies or candies using a microwave. Enter, Microwaved Lemon Curd: 3 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons), 1/2 cup unsalted butter, zest of 3 lemons. Directions: Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and egg yolks, mix thoroughly; add lemon juice and mix well. Microwave on high for one minute at a time, stirring in between, for 3 to 5 minutes or until curd coats back of metal spoon. Remove from heat, add zest, pour into sterile jars. Enjoy.

Friday, August 5

Drunken Solar Pork and Chick Pea Stew

There was about 1/2 cup of ale left over from the bottle my son-in-law gave me and I decided to use it in a stew. And, there was this new vegetable just begging to become a part of my repertoire, the Jicama, a South American legume that grows on vines up to 20 feet! They have a nice smooth texture, but little taste, which means they'll fit in to lots of recipes. The end result was great and the Jicama kept its crunch, adding a wonderful texture to the stew. This is a two-part preparation recipe, but the end result is so worth it that I hope you'll give it a try.

I used dried garbanzos (chick peas) and prepared them by soaking overnight and cooking in fresh salted water for about an hour. The finished chick peas were set aside until needed for the stew. Because there were so many ingredients, I did a small mise en place so that I didn't forget anything. And, though lots had to be chopped, using the ingredients left little time between additions.

Chopped veggies, in order of addition, right to left, because my
stove is to the right of my island. (Not shown, spices, herbs, or
 pork loin.)
Ingredients: 1.35# lean pork loin, 3/4 tsp.ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp anise, 2 Tbsps parsley, 1 Tbsp AP flour, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1/2 cup dark ale, 10 ozs chick peas, plus following chopped vegetables: 2 chili peppers, 1 cup small cubed Jicama, 1 large onion, 3 cloves elephant garlic (or 5-6 regular cloves), 2 large carrots, 2 large tomatoes, 2 celery sticks (sliced) .

Directions: In large heavy sauce pan over low heat, roast spices until aromas start to rise. Put flour in plastic bag, add roasted spices and shake until well blended. Pour olive oil in saucepan and increase heat to med-high. Dump cubed pork into plastic bag and shake until totally coated. When oil is hot, add pork and brown all pieces, cooking for approximately 7 minutes.

Move cooked meat to sides of pan and add onions, garlic, carrots, peppers, celery, and 1/2 each of chicken stock and ale; stir to mix thoroughly, cover, and let cook for approximately 8 minutes.  Remove cover and add tomatoes and Jicama. Bring to a boil, then pour into casserole dish, cover, and bake in solar oven for approximately 1.5 hours.

Remove cover and add chick peas and 1/2 the parsley. Cover and return to oven for an additional ten minutes.

Serve with balance of parsley used as garni or a trio of very thin cucumber slices. Serious comfort food.  The blend of the ale and chicken stock was wonderful and I'm delighted to find another way to use my son-in-law's product. I love to drink it, too; but, this is a bonus.

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