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Category Archives: appetizers and hors d’oeuvre

Hummus and Toasted Pita Chips

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I am not the sort of person who  brings  dip whenever I go to a party or potluck.  To me bringing a dip is like  announcing to all  that you  really didn’t  have the time to cook ( or you forgot to cook something)  so here, here is this dip thrown in a bowl and some chips or pre-cut veggies to go […]

The long hot summer and Tabbouleh

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I’ve been away for a short while and I have the weather to blame for my absence.   Although we’re  just going into the third week of summer, its been hot for the majority of those days.  I’ve been cooking up a storm as usual but somehow the act of cooking, taking photographs of the food I cook and then blogging about it in this extreme heat is making me that much hotter.  Most days after I’ve finished cooking I just want to eat and then lean back with an ice-cold drink. 

There are other days in between the cooking up a storm days when I’m happy with just a simple salad.  And by simple I don’t mean a boring mix of the usual salad greens with slices of tomatoes and other vegetables thrown in.  I prefer something that not only looks fresh but tastes fresh as well.  A salad where in each mouthful you taste the individual components that make up the whole dish.  A tangy burst of sun ripened tomato, the crunch of cool cucumbers, the grassy taste of fresh herbs.  And just to keep things interesting  nuttiness from a favorite grain.  In this case the grain is quinoa and the salad I’ve been munching on for most of these hot summer days is tabbouleh.

I fell in love with tabbouleh in culinary school.  Once I tasted it I could not get it out of my head.  Tabbouleh is a middle eastern dish of chopped vegetables and herbs.  Traditionally, tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, parsley, mint and bulgur wheat all tossed together with a lemony vinaigrette.  It is about the most refreshing salad you will ever put into your mouth. 

 Instead of bulgur wheat I use quinoa.  Only because I am more likely to have a tub of quinoa on hand and bulgur wheat isn’t something I use everyday.  I was told that tabbouleh is all about the parsley and I have seen many a recipe that supports this.  Some have as much as 3 cups of parsley to one cup of cooked grains.  I”ve never put that much parsley in and my tabbouleh is always well-balanced. 

This recipe makes a good amount and I store leftovers in small chinese soup containers so that when I’m going out I can grab a tub as a healthy alternative to eating fast food on the run.  It’s perfect alone or for a heartier version add strips of cooked chicken breast.  If you’re going meatless tuck a few spoonfuls inside of a  pita for a quick sandwich.  Either way you decide I promise you won’t be disappointed by this cool herby salad.

Recipe: quinoa tabbouleh , adapted from Epicurious.com

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 large English cucumber cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

2 scallions thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)

Directions:

Cook quinoa: Bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a  medium saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool.  Transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup of dressing.  Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle remaining dressing over.  Serve or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

 

wings and snacks and things

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It’s Super Bowl weekend.  I can’t really say I’m a huge fan of football.  Football is summed up this way in my home: it’s watched by the men in my family and I provide the snacks.  It works, everyone’s happy.

Super bowl snacks don’t really stray too far from wings, chilli and the usual assortments of chips and dips.  I did see one hopeful article in a magazine offering vegetables and healthier dips, like hummus.  Though my knowledge of football is pretty slim I’m sure men and women alike need something a little more substantial than vegetables and dip to go along with all that whooping, hollering and beer.

Here are my offerings: sriracha wings,  pulled pork sliders and brownie bark.

I always have a bottle of sriracha in my fridge.   I use it on fried chicken, french fries and ramen noodles among other things.   Sriracha ia a Thai hot sauce.  It’s as thick as ketchup and used in much the same way in Southeast Asian homes.   At one time I could only get it at International food stores but its become so popular it can now be found in Target and Wal-Mart stores.   While trying to come up with a different sauce for wings for this post I spotted the half empty bottle of sriracha in the fridge and thought why not make sriracha wings?  Turns out it’s not such an original concept.  A quick Google search provides many a recipe.

My favorite comes from White on Rice Couple.   Their version is sweet and tangy with some heat.   The sweetness of these wings will provide a nice contrast next to regular buffalo wings on your Super Bowl buffet table.

Pork is without a doubt my favorite food.   I could absolutely become vegan were it not for my love of pork.  These mini pulled pork sliders are perfect in every way; easy to cook ( just dump all the ingredients into a slow cooker and let it do its work), easy to serve (pile the pulled pork into a bowl with a pair of tongs, put the rolls next to them) and easy to eat (one hand in 2-3 bites).   This recipe adds a complex flavor to a simple dish from the addition of 2 cans of Dr. Pepper and a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.   Trust me it’s good.

Originally I sliced these brownies up into perfect little squares and placed them on a pretty platter.   For a picture that was to be included  in a post about football snacks it looked about as right as a pig in a bubble bath.   I had put the pan in the refrigerator and the brownies became firm and because they were shallow they were easy to break apart and I liked the way they looked.  The ragged edges remind me of broken peppermint bark hence the name.    Pile these in a nice bowl for everyone to grab.

GO GIANTS!

recipes: sriracha wings, pulled pork sliders, semi-sweet brownies

honey sriracha wings (adapted from White on Rice Couple)

serves 6-8 

note: I use a family pack of whole wings and split them myself using a sharp knife.  You can use the frozen bagged wings but be sure and thaw them properly and dry them completely.   Cooking cold wings prevents them from becoming crisp. 

ingredients:

4 lbs chicken wings (see note above)

1 cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup Sriracha sauce

1/2 cup honey

2 teaspoons kosher salt

juice of 1 lime

sesame seeds for garnish ( you will love the nutty flavor this adds to the wings)

directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line two rimmed large sheet pans with foil (non stick if possible).

Place the dried and thawed (if it was necessary to do so) wings on the sheet pan without overcrowding (you can cook the wings in batches if you need to). 

Drizzle over a little vegetable oil.  bake in oven about 20 minutes.  Using tongs carefully flip wings over and cook another 20 minutes until browned and crisp.

While wings cook make sauce.  In medium saucepan over low heat melt butter.  Add sriracha, honey, salt and lime juice, then stir to combine.  Keep warm over low heat.

When wings are done, drain on paper towel to remove grease, toss with sauce put on a platter and sprinkle over sesame  seeds.

spicy dr. pepper shredded pork (adapted from Ree Drummond)

makes about 12-18 sliders on mini rolls (depending on how much people pile on!)

Note: I cooked this in my slow cooker on low for 8 hours.  These directions are for oven cooking.

ingredients:

1 large onion peeled and cut into chunks

1 5-7 pound boneless pork butt

salt and fresh ground black pepper 

1 11 oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 cans dr. pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

mini rolls or buns (sometimes called slider rolls)

directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Put the onion chunk in the bottom of a large dutch oven.  Sprinkle the pork butt all over with salt and pepper and place on top of the onions.  Pour over the can of chipotle peppers with the sauce and the 2 cans of dr. pepper.  Mix in the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.

Place lid on pot and cook for 6 hours, turn pork over about halfway through cooking time.  After 6 hours the pork should be falling apart.  If it is not cook for another hour or so.

When the pork is done remove to a cutting board and using 2 forks pull the meat apart into shreds.  Before returning shredded meat to pan skim off some of the oil from the sauce.  Return meat to pan and keep warm until ready to serve.   

This can also be served on warmed tortillas as part of a taco bar with all the fixings.

semisweet brownies

ingredients:

10 ounces semisweet chocolate

5 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cold large eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 square baking pan with parchment paper or foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Place the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set in a sauce pan of barely simmering water.  The heatproof bowl should sit on top of the sauce pan with the bottom in the saucepan but not touching the water.  Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and just hot enough that you remove your finger quickly when you touch it.

Remove the bowl from the saucepan.  Stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt with a wooden spoon.  Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until the first one is incorporated before adding the next.  Stir in the floor and beat with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the batter is smooth and glossy.  Stir in the nuts if using.  Scrape the batter into lined pan and smooth to even out.  

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the brownies just begin to pull away from sides of the pan.  The brownies should be gooey inside. 

When brownies are done place on cooling rack and cool completely.  Once cooled place in fridge so they become firm enough to break apart.  

Remove pan from fridge when ready to break apart.  Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner and transfer brownies to cutting board and break into different sized pieces like bark.  

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