Fourth of July Frolics

Take one sassy slice of quiche…

add Albondigas (Mexican-style meatballs ala Ally’s Kitchen)…

plate ’em up (patriotically, if you’re so inclined) and ENJOY!

Many thanks to those past & present who gave us the freedom to do so, xo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last night we kicked off the weekend with an outdoor gathering on our neighbors’ deck — the first time we’d “partied” since the pandemic started. Social distancing, storytelling, and smiling resulted, not to mention satisfied bellies. Besides quiche and mini-meatballs, our hostess served a swoon-worthy penne pasta with grilled chicken drenched in a vodka cream tomato sauce. Can we say holiday happiness?

The Man Of Few Words only lasted an hour, having forewarned me his bedtime was 7:00 o’clock. (He’s on “trucker time” never mind holiday weekends or invitations.)

I stayed until 10:00!

What a treat to visit with neighbors once again, watch fireworks around the lake, and sip a cocktail or two with friends. After I walked home I bid TMOFW a silent “goodnight kiss” and sat on our deck to watch more fireworks, fireflies, and an almost-full moon for another hour. Blessings!

This morning told a different story…

Our fishing trip at the crack of dawn (never mind what time I went to bed…) was cancelled by unexpected/unpredicted thunderstorms. Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled, and waves/whitecaps kicked up, thus preventing us from reeling in potential lunkers. (Oh well!) We needed the rain.

Plan B: We enjoyed coffee on the deck between lightning bolts, I made him breakfast (bacon, eggs, & fried potatoes), put the finishing touches on my prelude for tomorrow morning’s church service (SO blessed to “work” from home), and weeded the railroad ties by our driveway. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Speaking of “rolling with it”…

Here’s the recipe for my quiche. It was gone faster than a lightning bolt.

Kim’s Quiche Lorraine

1 (9″) unbaked pie shell (see recipe below)

6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

1 c. grated Swiss cheese

4 eggs, beaten

2 c. half & half (light cream)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

Dash of hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana)

Freshly grated nutmeg (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange crumbled bacon and Swiss cheese in an unbaked pie shell.

Beat eggs, half & half, and seasonings; pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 30 more minutes and do the “jiggle” test. You’ll “see” when it’s set; if in doubt, insert a knife into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

My Tried and True (with FAB reviews) Pie Crust

1-1/3 c. all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. Crisco (plain, not butter-flavored)

2 Tbsp. cold milk

Stir together flour and salt. Cut in Crisco with two butter knives until pea-sized crumbs form. Continue with a pastry blender until small crumbs form. Sprinkle milk over the top; blend with a fork until the pastry forms a ball.

NOTE: You may have to add more (or less) milk depending on the humidity — your hands are the best judge. Don’t be afraid to squish it together with your fingers! I frequently abandon the fork and rely on the “hands-on” method.

Form the dough into a disk, place between two sheets of waxed paper (no clean up — easy peasy!), and roll into a circle. The thickness will depend on what you’re baking — thinner for quiche; thicker for a meat pie/pierogie.

Peel off top side of waxed paper and center crust over pie plate. “Ease” it into the plate, trim the excess crust with a paring knife, and crimp edges. Proceed per the recipe above. (Double recipe for a two-crust pie.)

FYI, the leftover pie crust trimmings make fabulous “pie crust cookies” spinkled with a lil’ sugar and cinnamon, or cobbler topping or mini-pies.

What a wonderful weekend it’s been so far! Wishing you the same. Be safe and share when you can.

Oops… the next monsoon is about to start (this one was predicted) so I better hit “publish” before my internet shuts down. Take care.

Enjoying socializing, cooking, writing, and baking again,

~ Kim

Scotch Eggs ~ The Ultimate Pub Food

Plaid

Just when I was ready to start writing again, my computer died. Argh! Such is life. Apologies for not replying to your comments on my last post — loved ’em all, xo! — but I had to wait until my I.T. guy recovered from the flu to rescue what was left of my hard drive. (I’ve also been acclimating to a new computer/screen/skill set since then.) Every day is a new adventure at the lake.

Allow me to share a flavor memory. The first time I experienced the pleasure of Scotch Eggs was at Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis a few years back. Actually, it may have been more than a few… there was Scotch involved, too. (Their single malt menu was sublime and my favorite was called Sheep Dip.) Anyhoo…

Begging your pardon for the repeat photo from my last post, a sweet friend asked: “Did you make your own Scotch Eggs?” The answer is YES, Chef Mimi — but not before I did a lot of research to recreate that memorable flavor. There seems to be an ongoing debate as to when and where Scotch Eggs originated (even though the name implies Scotland) and I never did find out. If anyone knows, enlighten me. However, judging from the number of recipes posted in recent years, this one-of-a-kind delicacy remains a “cult classic.” The consensus that came up most often was: Ultimate pub food!

After perusing dozens of recipes, comments, and reviews (lots to learn there), I finally settled on Proper Scotch Eggs by Jamie Oliver. Who can argue with proper — or Jamie Oliver, for that matter? One bite of that crisp, golden coating followed by an herb-infused savory sausage layer encasing its creamy interior and I was convinced I could make “proper” Scotch Eggs at home any day. Hope you try ’em, too! It was almost like being at Brit’s Pub again — minus the Scotch. ;)

Enjoying flavor memories,

~ Kim

Arancini Adventures

Arancini (pronounced arrrr-un-cheeni — roll that “r” like a pirate!) are cheese-stuffed rice croquettes from Italy. A friend from In My Kitchen recently chronicled her escapades in the Mediterranean — thanks, Debi — including a photo of Arancini and I couldn’t resist their allure any longer. Game on!

Speaking of games, I love to play Scrabble. It was time to combine that old favorite with a potential new one, and after researching a few recipes I set out on my Arancini Adventures.

The first challenge was a lack of Mozzarella in our fridge, but I had a bag of Italian five-cheese blend left from an ‘Italian’ dish I’d made for The Man Of Few Words the other night. Out of necessity (and/or desperation) I squeezed that shredded cheese into stuffable-size “balls.” Not quite as authentic as Mozzarella cubes, but I’ve been known to do things the hard way.

The next obstacle was Italian bread crumbs. All I had in the pantry were plain, and gluten-free to boot. I wondered if they’d yield the golden, deep-fried results I hoped to achieve? FYI, folks in the South aren’t squeamish about dunking food in hot oil and there’s a first time for everything — plus, I’m blessed with low cholesterol. A sprinkle of garlic powder and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning transformed them into “Italian” bread crumbs in no time at all.

As for leftover rice, I keep it on hand in the fridge at all times. I could very happily live on beans and rice for the rest of my life! But, today’s stash was destined to become Arancini. However, there’s no need to go to as much trouble as I did; see the recipe below. 

Arancini

(recipe adapted from Just A Taste — grazie!)

1 cup cooked sticky white rice (Uncle Ben’s was specified; I used “plain white”)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

4 cubes fresh Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

Oil for frying

Marinara sauce for dipping

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or deep fat fryer to 375 F.
  2. Meanwhile combine rice, Parmesan, and 1 egg. Use your hands to mix.
  3. Form the Arancini by squeezing 1/4 portion of the rice mixture around each Mozzarella cube.
  4. Whisk remaining egg in a bowl, dip the Arancini into it, then roll in Italian breadcrumbs. Shake off excess and set aside.
  5. When oil reaches 375 F, fry two Arancini at a time, turning frequently until golden brown.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining Arancini.
  7. Serve with warmed marinara sauce. (Or, a glass of Prosecco… heavenly!)

Loving appetizer adventures — authentic or not,

~ Kim

Smoked Salmon Roll Ups II

I haven’t made or written anything noteworthy in a long while (apologies…), but a recent kitchen inspiration sparked a marriage proposal.

After assembling my Smoked Salmon Roll Ups in “mini-bite” form (hence II), I toted them to a friendly gathering. One fellow took a bite of the creamy goat cheese filling laced with fresh dill, lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, capers, and freshly ground black pepper, ate six more (two at a time!) and asked: “Will you marry me?”

I grinned and said: “No, but I’ll cater.” :)

His lovely, life-long wife (nearby) grinned, too. I love sharing food and smiles!

Enjoying camaraderie and appetizers at The Lake,

~ Kim

Smoked Salmon Extravaganza

Biscuits and Smoked Salmon

Black Pepper Biscuits with Smoked Salmon

First of all, I want to reassure you that I don’t plan on posting quite so frequently as I have been lately (I admire those of you who do, but that’s not my cup o’ tea), however after a long, cold winter away from home ( 3-1/2 months to be exact), I was ready for some hedonistic pleasure and writing. For me, that equated to some unbridled cooking, smoked salmon, and the word “extravaganza.” (Gotta love it!)

Spring arrived around mid-March in the Northern hemisphere, but such was not the case in Minnesota. It was 40 degrees when I left Oklahoma and 40 below zero when I arrived in Minneapolis in January… plus, it snowed eight out of the first ten days in April. Such fun!

I haven’t written much (or at all) about that experience — mostly because it pertained to Mom’s medical issues, a stove that didn’t work, two blizzards, and 60-years’ worth of “downsizing” (plus my sanity), but suffice it to say that I’m ecstatic to be back at the lake. (And Mom is settled in her new home at last.)

In the month that’s ensued, I’ve been treating myself to these simple, yet extraordinary appetizers (in lieu of full meals) to appease my soul. Oh my, yes! Sometimes you have to eat what appeals to you, never mind the “recommended daily allowances.”

Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

Generally I concoct my own creations, but I arrived home with my mind in a mess, and my soul and stomach in sore need of Googling a recipe or two. What a treasure trove exists in cyber space, and how grateful I am for it. (And you!)

Briefly, I reconnected with my Irish (and Bohemian) roots while I was away — a combination of nostalgia and heritage (hence the Kerry Gold butter in the first photo) and a true appreciation for my ancestors and the “story tellers” in my life. (Thanks, cousin Fred — your writing continues to inspire me.)

As for the flavors, oh my goodness! Take your taste buds on a flavor picnic and TRY some o’ these… I’m so glad I did.

Smoked salmon toasts

Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

The compound butter in the canape above blew me away. (Bear in mind, butter is a rare treat and I’m still on the fence about “dairy” and ifs effects on me, but all in the name of trial and error.) Live and learn.

The “crunch factor” combined with creaminess… so worth it, swoon!

Re: the Smoked Salmon Mousse below…  I hesitated to pulverize part of my precious smoked salmon stash, but I couldn’t resist trying a new “texture.”

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Smoked Salmon Mousse

FYI, I subbed goat cheese for the cream cheese and cut the lemon juice by half to compensate for the “tang” — plus it sets up slightly stiffer than “mousse” — bring to room temp first. (Just sayin’.)

For a photo of my resulting appetizer with cucumber slices, see my previous post.

And if you run out of cukes, you can always make more deviled eggs. ;)

Smoked Salmon Mousse Deviled Eggs

Smoked Salmon Mousse “Deviled Eggs”

Here’s the links (with heartfelt gratitude):

Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Biscuits with Smoked Salmon

Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

Smoked Salmon Mousse

Salmon Mousse Deviled Eggs “self explanatory” (reserve yolks for egg salad sandwiches or potato salad)

Enjoying culinary freedom at HOME — at long last,

~ Kim