Pickled Pig’s Feet – My Best Soul Food Recipes

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Meats, Pickles

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in his "Meat...

Yes, you can still buy pigs feet, but you may have to look for them. Ask your butcher. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, this recipe is a blast from the past. I used to eat these as a snack with my mother, sitting on the back porch. Pickled Pig’s Feet are a whole lot better than they sound! Remember the old addage that the meat is better next to the bone? Well, pig’s feet are a lot of bone, knuckle and succulent meat! You have to work to get that meat, but boy is it worth it! Try this recipe:

Pickled Pig’s Feet

4 pig’s feet
1 teaspoon whole cloves
4 bay leaves
4 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large onion, sliced
1 hot green pepper, whole
Black pepper

1. Take all four feet, clean and scrape ’em till
they’re spotless, flip off the hoofs, and cut between the toes. Put ’em in a pot and cover with salted water. Simmer til the meat is ready to come off the bone, but don’t let it!
2.While they are cooking: mix the cloves, bay leaves, vinegar, sugar, onion, hot pepper and black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer 20-30 minutes.
3. Add 2 cups of the juice from the foot to the vinegar,
and stir.
4. Put the feet in a jar so they stand if you can,
and pour the vinegar over them. Cover and refrigerate
for 3 days to a week before eatting.
5. The longer they marinate, the more flavor! Enjoy!

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Creamy Potato Salad

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Salads

This recipe makes a large bowl of Creamy Potato Salad, enough for a crowd. The extra step of tossing the potatoes with marinade and chilling allows them to soak up a lot of flavor!

Potato salad with egg and mayonnaise

Potato salad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4 lbs medium sized potatoes
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup vinegar
1 Tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup celery, sliced diagonally
1 large onion
1 medium sized green pepper, diced
1 small jar pimentos, chopped
½ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
lettuce
tomato wedges

  1. Cook potatoes whole in boiling water until tender, approximately 30 minutes. Drain, peel, and cut into cubes.
  2. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Pour oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and onion over and toss until potatoes are moistened
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours until marinade is absorbed.
  4. Add green pepper, celery, and pimento to potatoes.
  5. Combine mayonnaise and sour cream. Add to potatoes and toss gently to coat
  6. Chill and serve in lettuce lined bowl. Garnish with tomato wedges around edge.
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How to Cook a Whole Corned Beef Brisket

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under How To, Meats

Cooking a corned beef brisket sounds intimidating, but it really is not. The instructions below are for cooking on the stove top, but you can also cook corned beef brisket in the crock pot or roaster, or covered with water as below in the oven at 325 for approximately 1 hour per pound. When cooking in the oven, use a tight fitting lid, or seal it with aluminum foil.

Cooked corned beef, eaten on St. Patrick's Day...

Cooked corned beef, sliced across the grain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My recipe starts with an already corned beef that includes the spice packet. If there isn’t a spice packet, don’t worry, just ignore it and continue on.

Stove top method to cook a whole corned beef brisket:

1 corned beef brisket
water
spice packet that comes in the brisket

1. The brisket comes already brined and ready to cook. You need to rinse the brine off, then place the brisket in a large heavy pot. Add the spice packet that came with the brisket, and cover it with water.
2. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3 – 5 hours, depending on the size of your brisket. (Refer to the package label.)
3. When done the brisket will be tender and will have shrunk a bit. Remove the brisket from the water and place on a cutting board and allow to rest a few minutes. If you are not planning to eat it until later, allow it to cool before slicing.
4. To slice the corned beef brisket correctly you need to locate the direction of the grain. Look for the long strands of meat. If you slice so that these strands stay long, your brisket will be tough to chew. Instead slice across the grain so that the strands are cut very short. This will result in a tender slice of corned beef.

When the beef is done, throw in some potatoes and carrots, or cabbage. This is a fine meal any night of the week. Don’t forget the Reuben sandwich the next day.

 

 

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How to Make Incredible Pan Sauces

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under How To, Meats, Tips

How to Make Incredible Pan Sauces

By: The Reluctant Gourmet

If you want to elevate your cooking skills to a new level and add a whole lot more to your gastronomy repertoire, learn how to make a simple pan sauce. With this technique in your cooking bag of tricks, you can turn a simple pan-fried steak into a mouth-watering meal, a plain boneless chicken breast into a delicious feast, or a modest pork chop into a scrumptious banquet. Ok, maybe I’m stretching a bit but check this out.

Restaurants chefs use this technique all the time. Basically, they cook something in a sauté pan over pretty high heat until it’s done and leaves a bunch of brown caramelize bits of “stuff”in the pan. You look at this “stuff” in the pan and say to yourself, “Now how am I going to clean this ‘stuff’ off the pan? What a mess! I wish I had used a non stick pan.”

English: Fond left in a white enamel pot after...

The fond left in the pan after cooking is the flavor for delicious pan sauces. Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “stuff” has a name, it’s called “fond” and you want that “fond” stuck to your pan because it is packed with incredible flavors. It’s also easy to remove by adding a little liquid to the pan and using a wooden spoon to dissolve it. This is called deglazing and can be done with wine, brandy, fortified wines, stock, cider, fruit juices or most typically a combination of two. Just be careful if you use wine to remove the pan from the heat so the alcohol doesn’t ignite and blow up in your face. I’ve spoken with chefs who have seen this happen.

The next steps are to continue to cook the liquid in the pan until it is reduced by half and finish by adding several pats of butter to thicken and enhance the flavor of the sauce. If you ever knew how much butter professional chefs use in restaurants to “enhance” flavor, you would be amazed. I sometimes think they make their dishes too rich because I get that uncomfortable “too full” feeling later on, but then again, it’s so good while you’re dining. Now those are just the basics.

To create more complexity to the sauce you’ll want to add some aromatics like garlic or shallots for a subtle but additional layer of flavor. Then you might want to add some additional ingredients such as mushrooms, mustards, chutneys, herbs and/or spices to give even more complexity and flavor.

For more information on making classic and quick pan sauces at home including what kind of pan to use, how much deglazing liquid to use and two example recipes for the same sauce, one classic and the other quick, go to http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/pan_sauces.htm

About the author: G. Stephen Jones, The Reluctant Gourmet, created a web site back in 1997 as a hobby to assist other novice cooks who may find the art of cooking a little daunting. As an ex-Wall Street broker and Stay-at-Home Dad, I try to explore cooking from a different perspective. Visit http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/ for more tips, techniques and recipes.

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Iced Spinach Soup

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Soup and Stews, Vegetables

This Iced Spinach Soup is a good way to add more vegetables to your families diet on a hot day. Cool, refreshing and nutritious. What more could you want?

This is the food processor part of a Braun Mul...

Use your food processor to make this soup smooth and creamy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 ½ pounds fresh spinach or 1 package frozen spinach
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup cream
salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Cook fresh or frozen spinach as usual. When cool, process in food processor a few pulses until finely chopped.
Add milk, cream, and stock.
Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
Chill thoroughly before serving. Serves 6.

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Discover How To Turn Any Meal Into A Gourmet Treat

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Know Your Ingredients, Tips

English: preparation of Puff pastry.

English: preparation of Puff pastry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is your family tired of the same old meals? Are you looking for an easy way to turn your old favorites into something special? Lucky for you there is one secret and easy to use ingredient that can help give some class to almost anything you serve.

You might think this magical secret ingredient would be hard to find or cost a lot of money, but it isn’t. In fact it can be found right in your local grocery store for under $5.00.

So what is this wonderful food that will transform your meals?

Frozen puff pastry. You know, that stuff that you probably never bother to use because it thought it was only reserved for Greek desserts and looks to delicate and difficult. Well it’s not, in fact, puff pastry is quite easy to use and very versatile and it’s a wonder why it is one of the most overlooked foods you can use to cook with.

Frozen puff pastry is easy and economical, it handles beautifully and needs no additional prep. It can be used to give a gourmet flair to a variety of staple meals and it works great every time.

From your Friday night family pizza to that Sunday roast lamb, puff pastry can add a bit of class to any meal and make you look like a gourmet chef.

Of course, you might be most familiar with puff pastry when used for desserts. It can be used with a variety of fillings for a light, delicious dessert. When you server a puff pastry dessert your guests will think you spent hours baking when you can whip up something like this fruit tart in about 20 minutes.

Fruit Tart

1. Thaw 1 sheet of puff pastry and cut into 4 pieces
2. Put 1 tablespoon of fruit into the middle of each of the 4 pieces
3. Fold the opposite corners of the pastry into the center and pinch together with your fingers.
4. Glaze the tart with a milk and beaten egg mixture
5. Sprinkle the top with sugar
6. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes

For variations you can add different fillings or make a while pie using one whole puff pastry sheet for the bottom and another one for the top – either in a pie dish or just flat on a cookie sheet.

There’s no limit to what you can do with puff pastry. Use cookie cutters to cut the pastry into interesting shapes – glaze and bake then use to garnish almost any dish. Put them on top of soups and stews or casseroles. Use them on chops or with eggs. The only limits are your imagination!

One great use for puff pastry that even the kids will love is to make little mini pizzas by cutting the pastry into rounds and cover each round with grated cheese, sauce and veggies. You an also use them to make little appetizers – use different shapes and top them with chili sauce, crab mix or anything you want.

Cooking with puff pastry is quite easy but there are a few things you need to be careful of in order to get them perfect every time. One of these things is to make sure you cook them at the right temperature. You should, of course, follow the directions on the package but most ready made puff pastry “puffs” at around 400 degrees F. Also, you must only give it a light glaze since if you add too much on it will cause the pastry to become soggy and not rise successfully. A light brushing of the egg wash with a pastry brush is all that is needed for perfect puff pastry.

So now that the secret is out, you better rush to the supermarket and stock up on puff pastry before it’s all gone!

Lee Dobbins writes for Online Gourmet Foods where you can read more articles about gourmet foods and fine cooking.

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South Carolina Scrapple

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Breakfast, Frugal, Meats

South Carolina Scrapple Recipe

Scrapple is a cornmeal mush made with scraps of pork – leftover odds and ends. It is seasoned with onion, herbs and spices and shaped into loaves for slicing and frying similar to a pork sausage.

English: photo of sliced scrapple

Sliced scrapple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The scrapple loaf is sliced and fried for breakfast like a sausage pattie, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The fried slice is often served with maple syrup, ketchup, applesauce, or with eggs for breakfast.

South Carolina Scrapple Recipe

3 lbs bony pieces of pork
Water
2 cups corn meal
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 onion
butter, optional

  1. Select 3 pounds of bony pieces of pork. For each pound of meat use a quart of water and simmer until the meat drops from the bone.
  2. Remove the meat from bones. Bring the remaining broth to a boil, adding water if needed to make 2 cups.
  3. Slowly add 2 cups of corn meal and cook until the mixture becomes a thick mush, stirring constantly.
  4. Chop the meat and put it in the pot. Season with salt, pepper and the juice of an onion.
  5. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Pour the hot scrapple into a dampened oblong pan or loaf pan. Cool until cold and firm.
  7. Slice and brown in a hot skillet. If the scrapple is rich with fat, no fat is needed for frying, otherwise fry in butter.
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Cream of Tomato Soup

May 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Soup and Stews, Vegetables

This is definitely a gourmet soup when made with fresh ripe tomatoes. You can substitute canned tomatoes when fresh, ripe tomatoes aren’t available. If you are making this to serve later, or expect to have a lot of leftovers for several meals, don’t add the cream until serving time. The cream will curdle if boiled, so re-heat it gently.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Cream of Tomato Soup

5 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil to garnish

  1. Put peeled and chopped tomatoes into a saucepan with the chicken broth.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste. Be careful with salt as some broths are salty. Remove from heat.
  4. When ready to serve, add the cream. Garnish with fresh basil.

*Be careful when reheating. Cream will curdle if boiled, reheat gently.

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The Best Bread and Butter Pickles!

I love the flavor of bread and butter pickles- that sweet and sour mixture is just perfect to my taste! My favorite part is the onions, so I usually add a little more than it calls for here, but you can be flexible. Beware: an old wives tale says that the pickles will take on the personality of the person preparing them. So watch your mood- unless you like your pickles sour!

English: Bread and butter pickles with the bac...

Bread and butter pickles  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 gallon cucumbers
8 small onions
2 green peppers (optional, but good)
½ cup salt
cracked ice
5 cups sugar
½ teaspoon tumeric
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds
2 tablespoons whole celery seeds
5 cups vinegar (or more if needed to almost cover pickles)
6-8 pint jars, lids, and rings

1. Slice cucumbers, onions and peppers into very thin slices.
2. Cover with salt. Cover completely with cracked ice and stir.
3. Top with a weighted lid. (I put a plate on top that just fits the container and then weight it down with a heavy can, etc. on top of that.) Allow to stand for 3 hours.
4. Prepare the Jars by cleaning and covering with boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes, then keep hot until ready to fill.
5. Drain cucumbers, but DO NOT RINSE.
6. Combine remaining ingredients and cook until the sugar dissolves.
7. Pour over the cucumbers, bring to a boil.
8. Put in sterile jars and seal while still hot. Hand tighten lid. No additional processing is needed.
9. Put jars upside down to cool. Any jar that does not seal should be put in the fridge for immediate use.

NOTES: Your cucumbers should be fresh. If they have been standing around too long, the pickles will have holes in them. If this happens to you, your cucumbers were not as fresh as they could have been. (You can still eat them.) Its best to pick your cucumbers as close to pickling time as possible, but do not let them get too big- you want the small to medium sized cucumbers. The large ones are all seeds.

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How to Cook Rutabagas

April 18, 2012 by  
Filed under How To, Vegetables

Useful Tips on How to Boil, Steam and Microwave Fresh Rutabagas

Steps in Boiling Rutabaga

Surprisingly, you will find that plain boiled rutabaga taste so delicious even though it was boiled with just a little butter and minced parsley. It tastes better than ever if you use small roots early in the fall when they are sweetest.

Two to three pounds of the smallest rutabagas are more than enough to serve six people. After peeling rutabagas, cut them into your preferable size or shape. Cubes or slices are recommended. Cover the rutabagas with cold water in a medium size saucepan. Add about ½ teaspoon salt. Start boiling and simmer over medium heat until very tender about 16 minutes. Drain them when pierced with a fork but not falling apart. It is done after you toss them with butter, salt, pepper, and a little minced fresh parsley. Serve very hot.

Rutabaga

Rutabaga (Photo credit: Farmanac)

Steps in Steam Rutabaga

Prepare the rutabagas as for boiling. A steamer or a colander can be used to steam rutabagas. Starts steaming and make sure you cover them for 25 minutes over simmering water. Drain them and toss with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic.

Steps in Microwave Rutabaga

Prepare 1 pound of small rutabagas as for both boiling and steaming. Place the rutabagas in a microwave dish by adding in 2 tablespoons of water. Cover it with microwave plastic wrap and vent. Set the temperature to high for 15 minutes, and make sure you check it from time to time so that the rutabagas do not overcook. Let it stand 2 minutes before uncovering.

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