Spicy Veggie Hash

Spicy Veggie HashHash It Out
When I was in elementary school, I learned that the month of March was all about shamrocks and leprechauns. As an adult, I know that there are a number of other things to associate with the month—like Daylight Saving Time, the first day of spring, International Women’s Day, and, of course, spring training.

Old habits die hard. So, of course when the calendar flips to March things like potatoes and corned beef pop in my head. I have to admit I have only learned to like corned beef as an adult. Growing up I wouldn’t touch it. Now I love it. but, I am not a fan of corned beef for breakfast.

Any diner worth it’s salt will have corned beef hash on the menu either as a regular item or as a weekend special. Personally, I can’t do it. That’s too much meat for me in the morning but I like the idea of it. The idea of corned beef hash is comfort food at its finest. I just can’t handle the reality.

When I found this recipe for Spicy Veggie Hash I was thrilled. It has all of the elements of a traditional diner hash without the cardiologist on standby after-effects. And, it has chilies. In my book, you can never go wrong adding chilies to anything…

Spicy Veggie Hash
Yields 4 to 6 servings
Adapted from The Breakfast Bible by Kate McMillan Read more…

Fondue Bourguignonne

Fondue BourguignonneBoiled in Oil
Have you ever experienced hot oil hot pot? Me neither. That will be remedied this weekend. To be honest, I have done the hot broth version. But, the hot oil kinda scares me because I am that person that no matter how many precautions I take when frying something like chicken, I get burned. Not badly but enough to remember it. Maybe I should get one of those heat suits you see in the movies. You know the silver ones with the square windows in the helmets? Or maybe I should just chill out. I have been told that a time or twenty…mostly by my children.

So this weekend I will face my fears and give hot oil fondue a go. I was not aware that this was even a thing until I went fondue-crazy after Christmas. I knew about Asian hot pot, of course, but not this.

Hot oil fondue, or Fondue Bourguignonne at it is actually called, is a Swiss invention. It was the inspiration of field workers who did not have time to go back home for a meal. So, they started bringing pots of oil with them that they heated and then stuck chunks of meat in to cook. It got the name Bourguignonne from the imported French beef from Burgundy that was the most widely used.

Beef is still the most popular and most traditional meat for hot oil fondue. But, really you can use whatever meat or fish you want as well as you favorite vegetables. Just make sure the pot is stable….

There is a wealth of information on the internet about hot oil fondue if you want to dig a little deeper. This Chef’s Notes blog post was particularly helpful.

Our classic recipe is delicious. And, it can be the basis for experimenting with sauces and flavors. And, of course, a good fondue cookbook is always a good idea…

Fondue Bourguignonne Recipe
Yields 4 Servings
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse and The Food Network

Our basic recipe prepares the meat beautifully. And, the real star of this meal is the selection of dipping sauces. This is where you can get creative, and we recommend that you choose at least three favorites. The variations are infinite!

Some great recipes for sauces are Harissa Mayonnaise, Cilantro Sauce, and Fig Sauce. You can also stop by our Cheese Department and pick up a container of one of our house-made dipping sauces like Dixie’s Dipping Sauce or our Blue Cheese Dressing and Dip. Then we carry a variety of delicious BBQ sauces like Everett & Jones, and dipping sauces like the Jade Sichuan Peanut Sauce or Mekong Ginger Sauce. Read more…

“Dirty” Rice (Cajun Rice Dressing)

"Dirty" Rice (Cajun Rice Dressing)Getting’ Dirty
The arrival of February means we leave the dullness of the last days of January and move headlong into a series of events that happen within the span of two weeks. First up is Super Bowl Sunday and while it may not be as exciting this year due to restrictions and whatnot, it is still an afternoon of much-needed and appreciated entertainment. Next comes Valentine’s Day which will also see its celebrations dimmed by the current situation. But, it still gives us something to celebrate and it highlights the importance of letting the ones you love know how you feel. And lastly, bringing up the rear, is Mardi Gras…

I recognize that, outside of Louisiana, Mardi Gras may not be that big of a deal. Ash Wednesday is much more widely observed. I, however, see Mardi Gras as an excuse to make recipes from one of my favorite regional cuisines. This year, because I am still on my trying new things kick, I will be making recipes from my new award-winning cookbook, The Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin.

If you have ever wanted to taste the legit flavors of the Louisiana bayou, this book is for you. On top of that the pages are filled with fantastic stories of the people who live there and about their struggle to earn a living and maintain their way of life in the face of global warming. I have recently made a number of recipes from the book and have yet to find one that wasn’t outstanding. Be prepared to plan ahead, though. These recipes are authentic and require certain ingredients that you just won’t find on the West Coast and will have to be ordered to get the right flavors.

A couple of weeks ago, I made the Braised Duck Legs on a blustery Sunday and the results were fall-off-the-bone fantastic. As suggested by the author, I also made the Rice Dressing to go with it. Rice Dressing is more commonly known to the rest of the United States as “Dirty” Rice because of the “dirty” color that happens when you add the ground meat to it. No matter what you call it, the rice is good eatin’ and can be served along side duck, chicken, beef or turkey. It’s also good on its own with a side salad, fresh green beans, or stewed greens. The recipe makes a lot. But, the rice tastes better the next day—so it’s worth it.

If you have never tasted this Louisiana staple you have definitely been missing out. Don’t be turned off by the inclusion of chicken liver (I don’t use gizzards). It just gives the dish richness. I strongly urge you to give this rice a try.

And, laissez les bons temps rouler, Cher…

“Dirty” Rice (Cajun Rice Dressing) Recipe
Adapted from The Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou by Melissa Martin
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Dark Chocolate Toffee

Dark Chocolate ToffeeCookie Palooza
It’s Cookie Palooza this weekend. For those of you who may be confused, Cookie Palooza is the weekend that my daughter and I make an insane amount of holiday cookies and other treats to give to our family and friends. This year my sister is joining in on the fun so I am expecting any number of crazy shenanigans and a whole lotta sprinkles. (Don’t worry. My sister and her family have been in our pod since Day 1).

There will be Gingerbread Men with scarves (my sister), there will be Macarons (my daughter) and there will be Toffee and Caramels (me) as well as an explosion of other cookies from Swedish Ginger Cookies to home made Cranberry Orange Biscotti  (I like the dried cranberries and some grated orange peel to make them more festive.)

Cookie Palooza could not happen if I didn’t have decent cookie sheets. Of course, everyone’s definition of decent will be different. Some bakers prefer the double-layer cookie sheets that allow the air in the pocket between to heat up. Others like the heavy duty rimless sheets that allow your cookies to slide right off. Personally, I like my heavy duty half sheet pans they’re just so versatile. You can make drop cookies or bar cookies and of course, you can make an excellent dinner. At an average of $20 for a quality cookie sheet, they also make a useful and cost-conscious holiday gift for your favorite baker. And if you really want to treat them, pre-cut parchment sheets can be life changing.

While my family has already enjoyed the first batch of our traditional ginger cookies, (You can’t trim the tree without ginger cookies.) what they are really waiting for is the toffee I make every year. It’s melt-in-your-mouth happiness and must be kept under lock and key if you want to have it around for more than an afternoon.

With the latest stay at home order in full swing, now is the perfect time to plan a Cookie Palooza of your own…

Dark Chocolate Toffee Recipe
Yields 24 pieces
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

This toffee is a lot like a Heath Bar—both tasty candy and delicious crumbled over ice cream and other desserts. Read more…