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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kettle Corn - at home!


Cover your eyes!

I know, the idea of being able to make Kettle Corn at home is quite scary...for me it's disastrous. Craft fairs, football games, festivals - I wander them until I find the guy with the large homemade smoking steel vat. The glutton that I am, I always go for the biggest size. By the time I've OD'ed, I'm elbow deep in the long plastic bag and wishing I'd never see the stuff again. I'm now prohibited from buying it at Sox games - apparently Paddy can't handle my manic switch from utter glory to desperate sickness. Happens every time.

Ok, now peek through your fingers - here's how amazingly easy it is. I've long been a popcorn-on-the-stove maker - the microwave stuff is just too gross, sorry. This is a nice treat and a break from the usual.

1/2 cup popcorn
3 tbsp of canola oil or enough to lay a thick coating on the bottom of your medium sized pot
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp salt

1. Heat a medium sized pot and the oil over medium high heat.

2. Once hot, pour in the popcorn and the sugar. Put a lid on it. Give it a couple of good, hard shakes immediately.

3. Set back down on the stove and let it sizzle for 10-15 seconds with the top ajar. Close the lid and shake it again. Continue until the popcorn is popped.

*Once it stops popping - immediately pour it into a bowl and sprinkle the salt. If you leave it in the pot and/or on the stove, the sugar will caramelize and you'll have a big mess to clean up.

PS: I just at the whole bowl ;)

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Blue Cheese Slaw

You all know I abuse the taco. If it can be squeezed into a tortilla, I'll try it. Here's a perfect example and these are actually great as tacos or on buns - as sliders would be great! I came across this recipe over the summer when I was helping my dear friends Kel and Chad 'use up' some of their CSA veggies. Little Hazel had just entered the world and she required much more attention than the produce. Thing is, there was a lot of it...and lots of eggplant and cabbage - not my strong points. But I wanted to make them some stuff that could sit in the fridge for a few days and be easy and quick to assemble when they needed it. These are delicious and a jazzy twist on what's often the same ole coleslaw.

For the Chicken:
You can do just about anything here. Grilled and shredded chicken works great. Or taken off a roast (roasted at home or one of the lil roasts you can buy already cooked at the store), or even boiled and shredded chicken (if you have to).

The key is a good BBQ sauce. From the bottle (yes, I know, shocking - I do buy a packaged sauce once and a while and this is worth it) Sweet Baby Rays is my favorite. But, making your own is even better - so check out this great recipe for Texas BBQ Sauce from an earlier post (and make those coffee rubbed burgers - they've been buried in the blog and need to be resurrected.)

Either way, have enough on hand for the number of people you need to feed.

For the Slaw (good recipe to cut in half but then again, you'll have the rest of the cabbage, so...):
3 cups green cabbage
3 cups red cabbage
2 cups carrots
3/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tbsp grainy mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 blue cheese crumbles
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 tbsp oregano
salt and pepper

1. Shred the cabbage and carrots using your food processor. Or, for a finer consistency (which I prefer), put the cabbage in the food processor and pulse a few times or do half and half.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix. Pour over the cabbage/carrot mixture and stir together.

3. Cover with plastic and let sit for at least 2 hours in the fridge so that the flavors blend together.

4. When ready to eat, heat a large pan to medium. Toss in the chicken to heat it up a bit and mix in the BBQ sauce so it all gets nice and hot and saucy.

5. Heat your tortillas or buns, load 'em up and top with a good bit of the slaw. You'll never make coleslaw any other way again.

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Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage

I love fried rice. I don't know whether it's the MSG or some other kind of supernatural ingredient or drug that Chinese restaurants put in it but it's like crack. Right? Just when you think you can't have any more...you always go back. Even the next morning, when it's cold in the fridge - it's there and you have to have it. Problem is, it usually leaves me with a serious stomach ache and too much guilt to handle. So I've been searching for a recipe to recreate that crackness at home. It's hard to achieve. But - Chinese sausage really helps. I'd never bought it or cooked it until last week and it's actually pretty easy to find in most grocery stores. I'm 100% hooked. You gotta try this recipe.

Here's the kicker - I adapted this recipe is from Brian Boitano. Yes, you heard me. The skater. Go figure ;)

1/4 cup canola oil, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cups bok chok, finely diced
1/3 cup peas, still frozen or just thawed
2 links Chinese sausage, sliced or diced
3 green onions, chopped 
2 cups cooked white rice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar

*There are a couple ways to do this - use leftover rice, or cook the rice and sausage when you make this. A technique that I found popular is to cook the rice and when it's got about 5-10 minutes left to steam, put the sausage slices (uncooked) on top of the rice and let them steam together. This cooks the sausage and allows the flavors to infuse the rice. It's yummy.

1. Heat 2 tbsp of canola oil in a wok or large pan over high heat. Add the beaten eggs and fry until just cooked. Transfer them to a plate.

2. Add the remaining oil, shallot, ginger, garlic, and bok choy and stir fry for a couple minutes.

3. Add the sausage (if not cooking over rice), the peas and green onions. And cook until sausage is cooked through.

4.  Add the rice, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Stir fry until rice is hot (if using leftover rice).

5. Stir in the egg and serve.

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