In My Kitchen ~ September 2020

Hello, dear ones. I haven’t participated In My Kitchen for almost a year — not for lack of interest, but for lack of “new” things to show and tell. At this stage of the game I don’t need much, but every once in awhile I run across something interesting. Thank you to Sherry’s Pickings for another opportunity to join in the fun. If you have culinary interests — or if you’re curious — please click on her link above for a global tour of ingredients, storytelling, and delightful folks who love to cook. I discover something new every time I tune in.

In My Kitchen… is/was today’s repast: a Fried Egg Florentine with Crispy Shallots and Goat Cheese. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to fix something “fancy” for myself, but today was the day. (SO good…) Don’t neglect to nurture you.

In My Kitchen… is a new set of cookware. I wasn’t planning on replacing the old set, but I was frustrated by their strainer-style lids and pour-spout pan edges. A good seal is tantamount to great flavor. One day while I was watching a TV talk show (a rare occurrence) they featured a “deal of the day” — a set of professional-grade Cuisinart pans for a ridiculously low price. Who am I to argue with signs? Did I hit the order button immediately? Nope. I did a lot of research and read the reviews. Hundreds of them.

It’s funny what folks complain about. “Everything sticks.” (Heat up those induction-bottomed pans gradually.) “Too many spots.” (Ever tried a cotton dish towel?) “I only hand wash them.” (It’s doubtful professional chefs take the time — the pans are stainless steel and they clean up just fine in the dishwasher.) “Wish they had clear lids.” Seeing isn’t believing. Trust your instincts — or practice some more. Frankly, I was thrilled with their flat restauant-style lids. Long live the diner days…

Now if I only had more folks to cook for besides The Man Of Few Words ‘n’ me — hello, lake neighbors!

In My Kitchen… is a bottle of Jalapeno Honey. Not only is it great for glazing grilled chicken or pork chops, it also makes for a lovely salad dressing. A splash of white balsamic vinegar and EVOO followed by a drizzle of that golden nectar results in some mighty fine eatin’ without the fuss of making a vinaigrette. Heavenly indeed!

In My Kitchenare other “new” or rediscovered recipes: Kasbah Chicken Skewers (courtesy of Ally’s Kitchen cookbook), fresh-caught Gulf shrimp (before Hurricane Laura hit), and the Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever thanks to a previous IMK hostess, Maureen Shaw, who said “no need to acknowledge me for the recipe.” Thank you kindly, ma’am, but I like to give credit where it’s due.

Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits Ever — thanks, Maureen!

(My recipe is for a half-batch; double and cut ’em into whatever shape suits you.)

1 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes, plus extra to melt and brush on top before or after baking (see below)

1/3 cup milk

1-1/2 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until mixture is pea-sized.

Stir in milk and honey until dough comes together. (Don’t overmix.)

Dump onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times. (I just kneaded it in the bowl — no counters to clean)

Pat with your fingers to about 3/4-inch high. (I saved a step — and more counter cleaning — doing that on the parchment-lined sheet pan.)

Cut with a biscuit cutter, tin can, or glass, but don’t use a seesaw motion as the biscuits won’t be as high — or use a chef’s knife and cut into squares. Optionally, let them rest twenty minutes before baking or not. (I opted for the second option in both cases.)

Separate biscuits 2-inches apart, or 1-inch apart if you like softer edges. (I did and do.) Brush with melted butter if desired. (I waited until the end.)

Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and brush tops with melted butter. Serve immediately or cool completely and freeze the rest. Bring on the sausage gravy or breakfast biscuits!

In My Kitchenthings are pretty much status quo since the last time I touched base (thank heavens) — making the most of what I have and whatever we’ve been blessed with — an integral part of IMK. I feel blessed to state that, considering hunger is a huge problem here and worldwide. Feed your family — yourself — and a few other folks while you’re at it. (Please contribute to your local food pantry, too.) Every lil’ bit helps.

Enjoying “new” blessings,

~ Kim

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

Do More Of What Makes You Happy

Prior to last month’s shelter-in-place orders going into effect (aka: lockdowns, quarantines, or stay-at-home mandates re: Covid-19) I visited a lovely local shop and picked up several notepads for future gift giving. Not only did they offer upbeat sayings, they included a color-coordinated spatula. (Some folks call them “scrapers” — in this case a mini-scraper — but I still call them “spatulas” no matter what size.) Figured they’d come in handy for ekeing out the last of whatever folks were trying to use and was cheered by the postive message. Apologies to whoever coined the logo above; I’ve seen it a number of times so I figured it was “public domain.” May you reap your reward in heaven for such an uplifting thought! Thank you.

Little did I know how important that phrase would become in the coming months. These days we’re all trying to reduce/re-use/recycle bits and bobs at the bottom of the bottles lurking on our fridge shelves. Truthfully, they’ve escalated to even more importance than we ever could’ve imagined. One more ounce of flavor = another meal. For those suffering from food shortages, my prayers are with you. I feel entirely blessed to have enough (so far) and the means to splurge now and then. I also continue to donate to our local food shelf and I hope other folks do, too.

Mother’s Day came and went. My annual tradition usually includes making something with lobster (don’t I wish?) but it wasn’t meant to be this year. Frozen shrimp was the only seafood alternative. (Does anyone else dread going to the grocery store until absolutely neccesary like I do?) Still, I was overjoyed that they carried some sort of crustacean. I also had a recipe in mind…

Spicy Grilled Shrimp

(adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything)

1 large clove garlic (I used 1 tsp. refrigerated minced garlic)

1 T. Kosher salt (his recipe specified “coarse salt”)

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/2 tsp. hot paprika

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

15 to 20 medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined with tails intact (I used the frozen/thawed equivalent)

  1. Mince garlic with salt until fine. Add both paprikas and blend well.
  2. Stir in lemon juice and EVOO to make a paste. (I transferred the above to a bowl before making the paste.)
  3. Add shrimp; mix gently to coat thoroughly.
  4. Allow to marinate for a few minutes or up to 1 hour.
  5. Preheat grill (or broiler) to high. Place shrimp skewers as close as possible to heat source.
  6. Grill (or broil) 2-3 minutes per side or until shrimp are pink.
  7. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

I added two skewers of veggies, too — mushrooms, onions, and grape tomatoes — before I tossed the shrimp on the grill (shown slightly “charbroiled” above by the time I got to ’em) but they were a delightful addition to my holiday meal. Bonus points for “Chili Lime Fish En Papillote.” (No recipe… just sprinkle fish filets with extra virgin olive oil, S & P, chili powder, and freshly-squeezed lime juice wrapped in foil.) YUM! The rest of the shrimp and veggies are headed for a batch of Jambalaya tonight along with some rice, smoked sausage, and chicken from my freezer. Reduce/reuse/recycle. And, do more of what makes you happy!

For me that involves cooking (or grilling) by the seat of my pants, letting nothing go to waste, watching Jeopardy (even the re-runs lol), reading books, practicing the piano, going outside to snap a photo now and then, writing letters, keeping “the castle” clean for TMOFW, and hopefully posting an upbeat message whenever I’m so inclined.

Be safe and well, my friends, xo.

Enjoying present-day life despite the ongoing restrictions,

~ Kim

Did I mention dancing?! What makes YOU happy these days?

Mixed Berry Crumble Dessert

Once a fixture on kitchen counters everywhere (at least where I grew up) cannisters stored the “basics.” Flour, sugar, coffee, and tea. What do you store in yours?

These days mine house rice in alphabetical order: Arborio, Basmati, Jasmine, and White or Wild. FYI, I eat a lot of rice. Which made me think. Sometimes life can become so compartmentalized that you risk missing the big picture. Reality isn’t organized. Life either. Do NOT attempt this thought process at home.

A few mornings ago my day started out with a shimmering falling star streaking across the sky, accompanied by a stellar cup o’ Joe — followed by a spectacular sunset that evening — followed by a glass of Cabernet. Some events are meant to be random. Unexpected. Divine. Like this dessert. (Even though I had to dig out the “basics” from another set of cannisters in the recesses of my pantry.)

Mixed Berry Crumble

(adapted from Yummly who adapted it from Cooking Classy, with a few adaptations by moi)

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (plus a lil’ extra)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup salted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 cups fresh berries or frozen mixed berries, thawed (I used a combo of frozen blueberries & sliced strawberries w/a sprinkle of sugar so they’d macerate…)

1 Tbsp. raw turbinado sugar (I used granulated sugar; fresh out of turbinado)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and generously butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish; set aside.

Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon peel in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla.

Cut egg yolk mixture and chilled butter cubes into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. (I tried all three options just for fun.)

Gently press a little over half of the mixture into the prepared pan to form a crust.

Combine cornstarch and remaining sugar in a separate bowl. ( More dishes, but prevail.)

Combine cornstarch mixture with fruit (fresh or frozen) until thoroughly coated.

Pour berry mixture over crust and top with remaining flour mixture.

Sprinkle turbinado sugar (or plain ol’ granulated) over the top.

Bake in preheated oven 35-38 minutes until top is golden brown. (Personally, I was more concerned with the bottom crust over-baking so I adjusted the oven rack to the upper 1/3 of my oven midway through and watched and “smelled ” until it was deemed done.)

Remove from oven, cool completely on a wire rack, and serve as is or with ice cream.

Refrigerate leftovers (if any) in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

SOOOO good! Or at least I’m told.

By the way, here’s that sunset.

Talk about just desserts.

Enjoying pondering cannisters and living an “uncompartmentalized” life,

~ Kim

Jambalaya ~ Past, Present, and Future

The first time I tasted Jambalaya was at a grown-up girls’ slumber party in the late 1970’s. Several of the seven females from the Class of ’76 reunited over dinner at a former classmate’s apartment in Minneapolis (she moved away before junior high but we kept in touch) and as I mentioned earlier, I have fond memories of the Twin Cities. Her Jambalaya was one of them. Never tasted anything like it until I moved South of the Minnesota-Iowa border. Good times and great flavors.

The Magnificent Seven (not including our former classmate) were outnumbered by 29 boys — yes, my graduating class totaled 36 — and although we girls were small but mighty, we were outspoken. Probably the apt word from that era is: dissenting. We weren’t afaid to disagree, protest, or try flavors foreign to our smalltown digs. The boys seemed to like our cooking, too. Memorable moment before we voted to cater subsequent class reunions: mega-batches of potato salad made in my kitchen.

Ditto on good times.

The Girls of ’76 went on to lead lives — culinary and otherwise — beyond the confines of our rural hometown. (Some of the boys, too.) But OH, how I remember that post-high school Jambalaya with shrimp, Andouille sausage, chicken, and the “Holy Trinity of the South” — sautee’d peppers, celery, and onion (hadn’t heard of that before either) — in a flavorful tomato sauce over rice.

Fast forward to present day when Joy The Baker added eggs (her Jambalaya Egg Bake was featured in Better Homes & Gardens where I first spied this recipe — with full credit going to Joy The Baker and Better Homes & Gardens.) Thanks both for featuring this flavor-fest blast from my past. Similar to Shakshuka (also discovered post-high school), it appealed to my beyond-the-border sensibilites and reminded me that there’s a lot left to experience in life — waaay beyond the the Prom floor or the bland Tuna Hotdishes I’d grown accustomed to on previous weekends.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook (thank you!) I recently posted photos of my Chocolate Roux and BBQ. (Different flavors and methods; same South of the Minnesota border spin.) Follow the links.

I’ll be making all of them again in the future. Hope y’all try ’em, too!

Enjoying past, present, and future Jambalaya — among other things,

~ Kim