Purple Kitchen Treats

Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.

However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.

My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

365 in 365 - #110, #111, #112 & #113- Filet Mignon, Wine Sauce, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Grilled Asparagus

Good Morning Everyone!!!

I just couldn't sleep any more so I decided to get a head start on the morning by posting a couple of recipes.  This is a recipe that I entered into the Beringer Steak Contest over the last few months.  I have not heard anything so I have come to the hopeful conclusion that this recipe is so very good that no one else stood a chance and the recipe was eliminated to be fair to all the other entries......yes, I'll keep on dreaming.

No matter how the contest turned out, this is a great recipe. It's not too fancy, in fact is is simple and straight-forward and this is also a great Sunday dinner.

Beringer Steak Contest

Filet Mignon, cooked rare to medium rare

Sauteed mushrooms
1 package mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

Garnish - Crumbled Maytag Bleu Cheese

For the Wine Sauce
1 bottle of Beringer Petite Sirah
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 shallots, minced and caramelized in butter 
½ cup honey
2 tablespoona cornstarch dissolved in21 tablespoons cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
6 large red bliss potatoes, peeled and cooked until soft
1 head of roasted garlic, mashed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick of butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Grilled Asparagus
Olive Oil
Smoked Salt
Cracked black pepper

In a heavy bottom skillet, reduce the wine by one third, add the garlic, shallots, salt and pepper and let simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes until the garlic is softened, stirring constantly.  Add the honey and stir, let simmer very gently for 3 to 5 minutes more.  The wine sauce needs to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  If it needs to be thickened, add the cornstarch and water mixture by teaspoonfuls letting the wine come back to a simmer after each addition of cornstarch and water.   

Place 1/3 cup of sauce on the plate, center the filet mignon on the sauce, add another 1/3 cup sauce, 1/3 cup mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/8 cup crumbled bleu cheese.

For the Potatoes
Heat the cream 
Melt the butter
Process the potatoes and roasted garlic through the ricer or food mill
Add the butter to the potatoes and combine.  Add 1/4 cup of cream and stir.  If needed, add additional cream to reach desired consistency.

For the Asparagus
Trim and peel. drizzle with olive oil and grill to desired tenderness.
Sprinkle with smoked salt and pepper and serve.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday afternoon in the kitchen - part 2

It's is Sunday evening and I have spent the day in my kitchen.  I have cooked up a complete storm and my kitchen looks like it.  I have been putting in some extra hours on another project, so I have not had an opportunity to do much cooking for the past couple of weeks.   So, I decided to make up for lost time because my husband's naval was touching his spine.  So, with my husband's appetite firmly in my mind, I began cooking and have just now stopped for the nite.  Tomorrow, the madness ensues again.

Today, I made the following items:

  • Tuscan style roasted chicken
  • Cracked potatoes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Roasted brussels sprouts
  • Roasted carrots
  • Steamed eggs
  • Maple bacon
  • Tomato sauce and meatballs
Tomorrow, I need to make:
  • Home-made bread
  • Biscuits
  • Cook the roast
  • Steam the green beans and toast the almonds
  • Caramelize the shallots to go with the brussels sprouts
  • Grill lemons for the rosemary, lemon and garlic sauce for the chicken
  • Make Caprese salad to go with the chicken
  • Grill the ciabatta
  • Make blueberry muffins
There are a couple of recipes in this list that I need to post, so stay tuned.....I will be back in the next couple of days to post some new recipes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!

Have a wonderful nite!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

365 in 365 - # 109 - Baked or Fried Chicken Parts - Act 1: The Strips

There is a complete science to fried chicken that only the most seasoned southern cooks really get.  Let's break down some of the areas of the US and how we treat food....oh, this should be fun!!!

     The Northeast - if you boil it, they will eat it
     The South - if you fry it, they will eat it
     The West Coast - if you make it small and pretty, they will eat it
     The Pacific Northwest and Alaska - if it's game, they are game
     The Upper Midwest - if it will "stick to your ribs", they will eat it

Now, this is not to say that any region won't try anything else, this is just a very high-level view of regional American cuisine.  I'm from New England, and it used to be that if you boiled it, I would eat it...well, not any more.  We had clambakes, boiled dinners, all kinds of soups, chili with beans (sacrilegious....at least from a Texas perspective) and any number of other stewed, poached, boiled and / or simmered preparation methods......which all "boiled down to" something simmering in some kind of liquid.

Growing up in my house, we had fried chicken, but we had "Shake-n-Bake".  If you recall from one of my earliest posts, I was very clear that my mother was an adequate cook, but she was an extraordinary baker.

Anywho.....If I have learned one thing, there is fried chicken, and then there is fried chicken (spoken with a slow southern drawl) and is an entirely different experience.  Let's be clear about one thing right now......I do not know what a "gizzard" is, I will not be frying any of them, and there will be no chicken parts in my kitchen that are not "normal".   The cats get the "giblets" as a treat.

At this point, I am playing with versions of fried chicken.  Despite the rumblings of some of the most seasoned southern cooks, I like to completely immerse my chicken in buttermilk overnight.  Buttermilk has a "tang" that subtly infuses the chicken and it keeps the chicken moist and tender.  

So, get yourself a chicken, if whole, cut it into parts, or you can get a fryer all ready cut up.  I happen to like purchasing the parts separately so that I can choose how many of each that I want.  Today, it is 4 boneless breast pieces for chicken strips and / or chicken bites (not nuggets).  One of our new commercials (In the US) asks, "what part of the chicken is a nugget?".  My answer, "Well, I simply don't know."

The first step is to trim the breast pieces of fat and cartilage.  Cut them into 1 inch strips, being sure to cut side to side, not top to bottom.  Put in a large bowl with a cover and then douse the whole thing in buttermilk, being sure to stir well so that the buttermilk gets in between all the chicken pieces.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  You can refrigerate for as little as 2 hours, but the chicken just won't be as tender.

For the breadcrumbs, you will need 2 cups of bread crumbs.  I am a big advocate of making my own with chunks of ciabatta bread (crust and all) thrown into a food processor with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cracked (not finely ground) black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/4 cup of dehydrated onion flakes and 2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley.  Process until all is well blended and pour into a pie plate.

Let's talk about "club finger"......that terrible condition that results from taking wet meat, dredging it in flour, dipping in egg wash and then into what ever coating is going on the meat.  To avoid this terrifying condition, take the chicken strips out of the buttermilk bath with a fork and let some of the excess milk drip off.  Then, using the fork, place the chicken coated in buttermilk in the bread crumbs and coat it nicely on all sides.

For a nice baked version - place the strips on a jelly roll pan, lined with tin foil and sprayed with cooking spray.  Preheat your oven to 350` F, and cook the strips for approximately 20 minutes, or until firm and golden brown.  test one of the larger strips for doneness by cutting in in half to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly.

For a nice fried version - be sure to heat at least 1 inch of oil in a deep frying pan to 375` F, carefully "slide" the strips into the oil on by one, and fry (turning as needed) until golden brown on all sides, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

These are simply wonderful.  I'll be posting a few versions of these with different seasonings from around the world.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Monday, September 5, 2011

365 in 365 - #107 & # 108 - Lime Marinated Pork Quesadillas & Roasted Pico de Gayo

Days left in this challenge:  118             Recipes left to post:  257

Lime Marinated Pork Quesadillas
This is a recipe that I came up with because I didn’t have enough chicken stock left to poach some pork tenderloin.  I love the taste of lime, so I figured what the heck!  This turned out to be my husband’s favorite version of my quesadillas to date.  The key is to let the pork sit in the marinade over night in the fridge.  YUMMY!

3-4 lbs Pork tenderloin, trimmed
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups unsweetened Lime Juice (fresh or from the specialty food store).  I typically use Key Lime juice.
2 large bay leaves
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
1 large onion cut into chunks
1 bunch of cilantro

Place all the ingredients into a large pan, cover and bring to a simmer.
Let this simmer slowly for approx. 1 hour.  Let cool and place in the fridge over night.

The next morning, remove the pork, drain the meat and shred or chop into small pieces.  The meat will be very tender and delicious.

Roasted Pico de Gayo

2 lbs roma tomatoes, washed, cored, seeded, roasted and chopped.  
To roast the tomatoes, place in a single layer in a jellyroll pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the over for 1 hour at 300”.
1 large red onion, chopped
2 coves garlic, minced
1 - 2 jalapenos, chopped (seeded if desired).  For the more adventurous, feel free to use a Serrano or habaƱero pepper.
One bunch of cilantro, washed and finely chopped.
¼ cup lime juice
½ tsp Kosher Salt and ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
Mix all the ingredients together, and let it sit to allow the flavors to meld.  
This can be made the day before also and refrigerated overnight.

Assembling the Quesadillas
You will need these additional ingredients:
4 cups shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, mixed
1 lb Sour cream
12 burrito sized Four tortillas
Cooking spray
A large griddle

Mix the Pico with the chopped pork and set aside.
Spread a thin layer of sour cream on a tortilla
Sprinkle a layer of cheese on half of the tortilla, 
Sprinkle about ½ cup of the pork and pico mixture on top of the cheese,
Sprinkle the pork and pico with cheese and fold the tortilla in half to cover the filling.
You now have a quesadilla that is really easy to turn without loosing any filling.

Preheat your griddle on medium heat.  Lightly spray the griddle.
Place the quesadillas on the griddle and let them turn a golden brown, once they turn a golden brown on one side, turn them over and repeat on the other side.  This makes 12 servings.

Serve with Chips, salsa, sour cream, and a Marguerita……Viva la Quesadilla!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

365 in 365 - Food Finds

I love shopping at small, privately owned stores with unusual items and at different farmer's markets.  The people are so warm and friendly.  Today, was one of those experiences.  I went over to Grapevine Texas to visit the Grapevine Olive Oil Company to stock up on a few things (Cinnamon Pear balsamic vinegar, Sicilian Lemon, black raspberry compote and jalapeno honey mustard).  I also discovered that they opened a new store in Dallas on Lover's Lane......this is GREAT news for Dallas residents.  If you have not heard of this place before, please visit them.  The selection of oils and vinegars are out of this world.

During my visit to the store in Grapevine today, I brought them 2 jam recipes that I made using their dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.  This vinegar is completely amazing......dark, sweet and very chocolatey.  It was the perfect addition to a simple home-made strawberry jam.  I also developed a dark sweet cherry, almond and chocolate balsamic vinegar jam recipe......both are soooo flippin' good.

I know......for breakfast, I'll surprise my hubby and make home-made biscuits with the cherry, almond and chocolate jam.  Yep, he is gonna LOVE it!!!!!

Have a lovely day, y'all,

365 in 365 - #106 - Baked Cauliflower Gratin

Days left in this challenge:  119             Recipes left to post:  259

The veggie for today remains Cauliflower.  Using the recipe from #105 to bake the cauliflower, instead of processing the cauliflower and making a smooth mixture out of it, cut the florets off of core and place in an oiled baking dish.  Use 1/2 cup each of shredded asiago, sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, sprinkle over the cauliflower, top with breadcrumbs and spray lightly with olive oil.  Place in the oven at 350` until the cheese melts and the breadcrumbs become golden brown.  This is scrumptious!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you.


365 in 365 - #105 - Veggie of the day is Cauliflower

Days left in this challenge:  119             Recipes left to post:  260             

Good Morning Everyone.....it is 3am here in the Dallas - Ft. Worth area and I just couldn't sleep.  Over the past several days, I have been thinking about the challenge that I set out on at the beginning of the year and am determined to meet it.  So, with keyboard placed firmly on the desktop, fingers in motion, mind moving faster than the speed of sleep tonite, I will begin again...

Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower is one of those veggies that is very benign.  It doesn't have a strong flavor and if seasoned well, will pick up the scent and taste of whatever we choose to put in it.  One of my favorite ways to cook cauliflower is to roast it.  This brings out the natural sweetness and a depth of flavor that may surprise you.

Olive oil - infused olive oil works well here, particularly an Italian herb infused oil
1 head of cauliflower
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh, rosemary
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1/2 stick of butter at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350`, use the middle rack

Begin by removing the green leaves from the underside of the cauliflower and cut out much of the stem but try to leave the cauliflower head intact.  Take the head of garlic and cut the top off the entire head.   In a pan that will fit the cauliflower, drizzle olive oil to coat the pan with about 1/4 inch, place the garlic head in the center, and drizzle with a little more olive oil, place the cauliflower over the garlic, brush or drizzle the cauliflower with a little olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper.  Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and bake until tender, approximately 30 - 45 minutes.

In the mean time, mix the butter, rosemary and red pepper flake and set aside.

When the cauliflower is nice and tender, remove from the oven and process in small batches using a food processor, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the head of garlic, add the cream and butter mixture and cheese, stir to incorporate.  This makes a nice substitute for whipped potatoes and is very flavorful.

I know that you will enjoy this tasty cauliflower dish.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,