Saturday, August 22, 2009

Planning on Perfect Weekend Foods.......

It's the weekend and with it comes planning on what's going on..... Summer's almost over, (not for you my Merida friends!.....) the kids are going back to school but the living is still easy...... so what to plan for during the weekend that will be fab? Maybe you're having people over and want to impress them with great food and drink? Or maybe those sybarites out there just want to indulge...Ahh..... I can relate so I'm looking in my pantry, collecting ingredients or if I must, I will venture out on a scavenger hunt for what I need to sate my palate's fancy....

Big flavors are a must of course, otherwise, why bother!..... have a couple of days to play with, plenty of time to devote to my favorite pastime (food and cooking it) so the game is on!.... Come along for a great time, great food and a great time for all.....

The ideas I have included can be done either on a grill or oven, you can use a crock-pot for one instead of stove top or oven too, and once you have the ingredients on hand and ready will come along quickly and deliver truly "kicked up" flavors....YAY!.....

Hope I can tempt you to come along for the ride, the results will be worth it..........

Old Fashioned Pulled Pork.- Sandwiches don't get better than this or have it as the start of your BBQ menu! (Except this is made in the slow cooker and is super easy!....)

2 tbl butter
2 pounds boneless pork roast
1 tbl Cajun seasoning
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 cups water
1 tbl liquid smoke flavoring

Cut the pork roast into large chunks. Season generously with the Cajun seasoning. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, and brown on all sides. Remove from the skillet, and transfer to a slow cooker. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes until tender. Stir in the water scraping the bottom to include all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then pour the whole mixture into the slow cooker with the pork. Stir in liquid smoke flavoring. Cover, and cook on High for 6 hours, or until meat is falling apart when pierced with a fork. Remove pieces of pork from the slow cooker, and shred. Return to the slow cooker to keep warm while serving. Serve with the following BBQ Sauce.

Bubba's BBQ Sauce.- Don't let the ingredients fool you, this is great BBQ sauce! I've also changed all the ingredients around......

1 cup cola-flavored carbonated beverage
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (can't find? use more brown sugar)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbl steak sauce
1 tbl yellow mustard
1 tbl chili powder
1 tsp dried savory
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp hot pepper sauce

In a large saucepan, mix together the cola, tomato sauce, tomato paste, butter, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, molasses, cider and balsamic vinegars, steak sauce, and mustard. Season with chili powder, savory, onion powder, garlic salt, and hot pepper sauce, and stir to blend. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Just be patient.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken.- Doesn't matter how many times we have this.... love it!!!! Don't be afraid of the chilies, go for it!

3 tbl dark rum
2 tbl water
1/2 cup malt vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar)
10 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
2 tbl dried thyme
2 habanero chiles with seeds, chopped
2 tbl vegetable oil
4 tsp ground allspice
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
3 tbl soy sauce
2 3- to 3 1/2-pound chickens, halved lengthwise, rinsed, patted dry (or whatever you want)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Boil rum and 2 tbl water in small saucepan for 3 min. Transfer rum mixture to blender; add vinegar and next 12 ingredients and blend until almost smooth. Transfer 2 tbl jerk seasoning to small bowl; mix in ketchup and soy sauce to make sauce. (Jerk seasoning and sauce can be made 1 day ahead; cover separately and refrigerate.)

Arrange chicken in large roasting pan or baking dish. Pour lime juice over; turn to coat. Spoon jerk seasoning over chicken and rub in. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning occasionally. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Preheat oven to 350°F or prepare barbecue (medium heat). Tip: I char on the grill and finish cooking in the oven.

Remove chicken from jerk seasoning marinade; sprinkle with salt and pepper. If roasting chicken in oven, arrange chicken, skin side up, on baking sheet. Roast until chicken is cooked, about 50 min. If grilling chicken, place chicken, skin side down, on grill rack, cover, and grill until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally and adjusting heat if browning too quickly, about 50 min. (This is why I finish in the oven). Cut each chicken half into pieces and serve with sauce.
NOTE: Great on whatever you grill too like shrimp..... I always have this sauce in the fridge just in case....

Basic Pizza Dough (made in a food processor).- An easy, all purpose Pizza Dough......

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tsp salt
3 tbl olive oil, plus more for bowl

Mix the warm water and yeast in a small bowl to blend. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 min. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor to blend. Blend in the oil. With the machine running, add the yeast mixture and blend just until the dough forms. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 min. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour. Punch the down dough and form into ball. The dough can be used immediately or stored airtight in the refrigerator for 1 day.

Pear, Goat Cheese and Mustard Cream Flatbread / Pizza.- Unbelievable!!!! (use any kind of bread for this too, like Naan, Pizza, Frozen Dough or whatever you have....)

6 tbl heavy whipping cream
3 tbl whole grain Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbl Dijon mustard
1 tbl fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp honey or agave syrup

2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 cup plus 7 tbl warm water (115°F to 120°F)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (I use all purpose flour only)
2 tbl olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp quick-rising active dry yeast

2 firm but ripe Bosc pears, halved lengthwise, cored (any kind)
Olive oil
Coarsely ground piment d'Espelette, Aleppo pepper, or cayenne pepper (whatever I have)
Fine sea salt
5 cups baby arugula (about 4 oz)
8 oz coarsely crumbled blue goat cheese (such as Bleuet or FireFly Farms Black and Blue)-
(I've used any kind of Goat cheese or Feta or what we like)

Whisk all ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

FLATBREADS (You can substitute any dough... use what you have)
Combine all ingredients in bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with dough hook. Beat at low speed until dough forms and comes away from sides of bowl, about 2 min. Scrape dough off hook. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest 30 min.
Clean and reattach dough hook. Beat dough at med speed 3 min. Scrape dough on hook into bowl. Cover bowl with plastic and towel. Let dough rise until light and slightly puffed, about 1 hour.
Gently knead dough to deflate. Using floured hands, divide sticky dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape each into ball; place on plastic-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 45 min. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.

Cut pear halves vertically into very scant 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides with oil, then sprinkle with Espelette pepper (or what you have). Arrange on sheet of foil.
If using pizza stone, place in oven. (Alternatively, place heavy large baking sheet, upside down, in oven.) Preheat oven to 500°F for at least 45 min.
Stretch and roll each dough ball to 9-inch round on lightly floured work surface. Place 1 dough round on floured baking sheet. Brush dough with oil; sprinkle with sea salt and Espelette pepper. Scatter 1/4 of arugula over. Drizzle lightly with oil. Top with pear slices and 1/4 of cheese.
Slide dough onto hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden brown and crisp and cheese is melted, rotating occasionally, 10 to 11 min. Repeat with remaining flatbreads.
Transfer flatbreads to plates. Drizzle with mustard cream and serve.

Tarragon Pizza Bianca (White Pizza).- A lovely change from the usual.... versatile too!

2 10-ounce tubes refrigerated pizza dough (or basic pizza dough above or ?)
6 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
4 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (can be dried too)
1 1/3 cups (packed) grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, very thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, very thinly sliced
1 small yellow crookneck squash, very thinly sliced
2 tbl minced shallot
4 oz Brie, rind removed, cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Oil baking sheet. Unroll dough onto floured surface. Cut each rectangle in half. (or use basic dough and cut in half) Roll each half to 7-inch round. Transfer rounds to prepared baking sheet. Brush 1 tbl oil over each round; sprinkle each with 1 tsp tarragon. Top with mozzarella and vegetables. Brush rounds with remaining oil. Sprinkle with shallot, salt, and pepper. Top with Brie. Bake until cheese is bubbling, about 14 min. Cut each into 6 wedges.
NOTE: You can change ingredients to suit your tastes, be creative and use what you like and have.

Chard and Salami Frittata .- Wonderful and easy to make; change ingredients and customize to suit your tastes and use as a base for other creations....

6 large eggs
3 tbl freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard (about 10 ounces), stems and center ribs cut away, leaves coarsely chopped
2 ounces thinly sliced Italian Genoa salami, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2/3 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat broiler. Whisk all the eggs, 1 1/2 tbl cheese, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in large bowl. Heat olive oil in medium nonstick broilerproof skillet over med heat. Add onion and sauté until tender but not brown, about 6 min. Add Swiss chard in 3 batches; toss until each begins to wilt before adding next. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until any liquid in skillet evaporates. Increase heat to med high; add salami and garlic to skillet and stir 1 min. Add eggs to skillet; stir to distribute evenly. Reduce heat to med-low, cover, and cook until eggs are almost set but still moist in center, about 4 min. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 tbl cheese over top.Transfer frittata to broiler and cook just until set in center and beginning to brown, about 1 min. Using flexible spatula, loosen frittata around edges. Slide frittata out onto platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
NOTE: This is a easy, practical and economical dish to "get down" since it can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or sophisticated dinner; the ingredients are more than flexible and pair it with a salad and you've got a great meal. It's also a good end-of-month entree when you need to cut down the food budget.

Strawberry Shortcake.- An oldie but a goodie. Easy recipe that yields fabulous results! Doesn't this just say "summer" to you?

For biscuits
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
5 tbl sugar
1 tbl baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup plus 2 tbl chilled whipping cream
1 tbl grated orange peel

For berries and cream
3 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, sliced
1/2 cup plus 3 tbl sugar
2 tbl thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1 chilled whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (I use PAM). Blend flour, 4 tbl sugar, baking powder, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal.(No processor? Use a fork...) Add 1 cup cream and orange peel. Process just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; gently knead 5 turns. Roll out dough on floured surface to 3/4-inch-thick round. Using 3-inch-diameter cutter (I use a juice glass dipped in flour..), cut out 3 rounds. Gather dough and reroll as needed to make 3 more 3-inch rounds. Arrange rounds on prepared sheet. Brush with 2 tbl cream; sprinkle with 1 tbl sugar (or brush with melted butter and leave plain, our choice). Bake biscuits until pale golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 min. Cool 15 min. (Can be made 2 hours ahead.) (If you can get your family to leave these alone!)

Make berries and cream. Combine berries, 1/2 cup sugar, mint, and orange peel in med bowl; stir to blend. Let stand at least 30 min and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, so they get juicy. Combine cream, vanilla, and remaining 3 tbl sugar in large bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form. Cut biscuits horizontally in half. Place 1 biscuit bottom in each of 6 bowls. Top each with berries, then sweetened whipped cream and biscuit top.

My weekend is sorted out and no surprise- veg out time with tranquil times ahead! Gearing up for hectic days and stress filled days once I'm back in the US, so I'm making the most of the lazy possibilities here..... an afternoon nap, reading a favorite book on the terrace hammock, a leisurely walk to the store for Sangria makings, hanging out with the kids while cooking great food, playing with Kitty..... times you can't possible put a price on since they're invaluable and won't come again this way, so make the most of it. Enjoy!

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