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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Kitchen-Aid Mixers - The Potluck Chef's Best Friend

The Mighty Kitchen-Aid Mixer!

If you do potluck cooking, you are frequently called upon to prepare food in mass quantities.
You can do this, of course, with quite ordinary kitchen have a lot of time on Friday's to get something ready for the church potluck next day, then I'm here to tell you....

Industrial strength kitchen tools are essential!

The one I'm going to talk about today is the inimitable Kitchen-Aid mixer. Let me warn you they are NOT cheap. We inherited ours from a friend when she passed away or I would never have known the joys of having the mighty Kitchen-Aid in our stable of kitchen tools.

This powerful and versatile stand mixer allows you to prepare stuff in a hurry or to multi-task, something we all have had to do when getting ready to feed hungry visiting academy choir. Here are some things specific to potluck preparation the size and power of the Kitchen-Aid allows you to do.
  1. Bread-making - You can go off and leave the dough hook kneading your while you peel potatoes and prepare the baking pan for your rolls or bread loaves.
  2. Potatoes - Great for whipping up enormous batches of mashed potatoes or potato salad.
  3. Cakes -  Homemade cakes and cobblers are easy to whip up with a stand mixer. Just toss all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and run with the batter attachment. You can do other stuff while the ingredients are mixed up.
  4. Vege-Meat/Food Grinder - The Kitchen Aid has a power hub and a bunch of attachments including a meat grinder. If you've  made up some gluten "wheat meat" or just want to make burgers out of something else like choplets or vegetable steaks. Just run it through and you've got burger.
  5. Cookies and biscuits - For heavier mixtures like cookie or biscuit dough, the batter attachment is a whole bunch easier for blending in shortening with flour and eggs and stuff of different consistencies. Makes a big bunch of biscuits or five or six dozen cookies.
  6. Whipped cream and meringue - For stuff that needs to be whipped up or beaten for a lengthy period like pudding, a mixer like this is great. With the whipping attachment, you can go off and leave it whipping while you work on something else. Works great.
  7. Pasta - There's a pasta-making attachment that lets you make all sorts of homemade pasta like
    spaghetti, egg noodles and lasagna noodles
  8. Ice Cream Maker - You can even make homemade ice cream with the ice cream attachment. Saves all that hand cranking or using the more awkward electric version of the hand-cranker. Great for small group parties or you can make it up and freeze enough for a potluck.
  9. Grain Mill - The grain mill attachment allows you to make flour from a variety of whole grains - oats, rice, soy, flax, almond, corn, and even dried coconut. Multi-grain bread is a lot of fun to experiment with and you can get all sorts of grains and nuts in the bulk foods section of many grocery stores.
  10. Food Processor - There is even a food processor attachment for chopping up vegetables and stuff.  Saves you some room on your counter and the attachment hardware is one tough magilla, unlike so many stand-along food processors.  
 
If you've got work to do, this invaluable tool helps you cook faster and better. The Kitchen-Aid is the Kirby Vacuum Cleaner of kitchen tools. Man, you gotta get yourself one of these!

© 2017 by Tom King



Stuffed Peppers

Roasted a couple of ears of corn along with the peppers.

I was planning on doing something else this week, but on Friday I happened upon someone with a crate of very nice green Bell peppers they were giving away, so I accepted ten of them with a vague notion of chopping and freezing them or, perhaps, stuffing them. I found a plethora of recipes online, so I cobbled together my own vegetarian version and it came out rather well. It was a bit tomato-ish for Sheila, but her digestive system is a wreck, so pay no attention to her negativity.

The recipe requires the following:

Ingredients: 
(Multiply as needed)
  • Four (or multiples thereof) Bell Peppers (any color is okay)
  • Salt (to taste - I just went with the salt I used to cook the rice)
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil (it's virginity level is up to you)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 bag Morningstar Farms Recipe Crumbles or a can of vegeburger (LL, Worthington, etc.) 
  • 1 1/2 cup of cooked rice (I made half brown/half white rice)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, (drain liquid from the can)
  • 1 tbsp oregano (chopped, powdered or dried - go lighter on the powdered)
  • 1/2 cup Mozarella Cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce (super optional)
Directions:
  1. Cook the rice according to directions. Adding a dash of olive oil and red wine vinegar keeps it from being sticky. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.
  2. Remove the tops and cut out the seedy bits of the Bell peppers. Steam them till they soften. You can put them in a steamer for 8-10 minutes or do as I did and bake them for 10 - 17 minutes to soften them.
  3. Saute' the onions in a large skillet or electric skillet. Once they start to soften, add the Recipe Crumbles or vegeburger and brown lightly. 
  4. Add the rice and chopped tomatoes to the mixture and stir in. Add the mozarella and let it melt into the rice/vegeburger mixture.
  5. There are two ways to do the ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce. One is to mix it up in a bowl with a little bit of water (less than a quarter cup) and mix about half into the stuffing. The other is to wait and ladle it over the peppers after they are stuffed. I put half into the stuffing and saved the rest to put on top of the stuffed peppers.
  6. Stuff the peppers with the vegeburger/rice mixture. Put a spoonful of the ketchup/Worcester/optional Tabasco mixture on top of the peppers. 
  7. Place in casserole dish and bake 40-50 minutes till they look like the picture above.
    Serving Suggestions:

    Serve with another vegetable or salad and maybe some rolls. The peppers look a little wrinkly, but they taste good. You can play with the spices a little bit. Me, I'd have added a little Tabasco, but then I like the pepper flavor and a little heat with some dishes.

    If you have a late summer harvest of green peppers, you can make up multiple batches of the stuffing mix, core the peppers and make as many as you'd like to. It's kind of ambitious, but it's a nice single dish for a potluck. 


    © 2017 by Tom King



     

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hot Fudge Sauce

If you're throwing a homemade ice cream making party or a banana split party, this great hot fudge sauce recipe is perfect to top your ice cream treats with. My wife got the recipe from a lady in Louisiana name Opal Martin.  Great for sundaes, banana splits and almost anything you’d like to put warm hot chocolate fudge on.  It only takes about 5 minutes to make.  This recipe is why I keep a supply of cocoa in the pantry at all times (this and the chocolate skillet cake recipe). I like more of a milk chocolate fudge myself and sometimes add a few tablespoons of evaporated milk when I make it.  Either way is terrific. Saved me many a trip to the grocery store when the missus gets a craving for a hot fudge sundae.  I keep the leftover sauce in the fridge in some little fruit jars I keep for leftover fudge sauce, sweet and sour sauce, homemade tartar sauce or homemade pimento cheese.You can reheat the sauce for a few seconds in the microwave. It's just lovely stuff.

Ingredients:

  •   1 cup sugar
  •   1/3 cup cocoa
  •   3 tbsp flour
  •   1/3 tsp vanilla
  •      ¼ tsp salt
  •     1 cup boiling water
  •     1 tbsp margarine

Directions: 
1.     Mix dry ingredients together in a saucepan
2.     Add boiling water while stirring
3.     Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly.
4.     Store in covered jar in the refrigerator

Makes 1½  cups.

 Stores nicely in a mandarin orange fruit jar - just sayin'


(c) 2013 by Tom King

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Corn Casserole



This recipe is a variant of an original recipe by Paula Deen. You may not know it, but Paula was raised and trained in the art of cookery by her Adventist grandmother. You can tell Paula studied under an Adventist cook, given her liberal use of cream of mushroom soup in her casseroles. This variant of her classic broccoli casserole adds a couple of vegetables I needed to use up so I could get the rest of the groceries from our monthly shopping trip into the fridge. Came out pretty good if I do say so myself.

Ingredients:
  • 10 oz. chopped broccoli and cauliflower cooked and drained
  • 1 tsp McKay's Chicken Seasoning
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Small package frozen corn cooked and drained
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 cups crushed crackers
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Directions:
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray
  3. Combine broccoli, cauliflower and corn and mayo in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add cheese, soup and beaten eggs. Mix well with large metal spoon.
  5. Place the mixture in the baking dish and top with crushed crackers.
  6. Pour melted butter over the top of the crackers
  7. Baked for 35 minutes or until set and browned.
Serving Directions:

Let the casserole brown good on top if you are serving it now.  Otherwise lightly brown if you are making it the day before to be reheated for potluck. This will allow it to brown fully just before serving.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Chocolate Skillet Cake

You'll notice a piece is missing. It's hard to get a picture
of a whole chocolate skillet cake. You go get the camera
and by the time you get back it looks like this.
Today's recipe is not low fat, sugar free or vegan. It goes a long way because it's kind of rich. You need an iron skillet to cook it properly. I make it pretty regularly, but it never lasts very long. It's a nice moist, crumbly single layer cake. Just leave it in the skillet and server it from there. This one you'll want to take to a potluck sometime for the dessert table. Just cut it in pretty small pieces. Like I said, it's kind of rich.

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk (as needed for consistency)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt together and set aside.
  2. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, bring the butter, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, and water to a boil. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the dry ingredients well. Mix in the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Bake in the skillet cake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  3. While the cake starts to cool, make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, cocoa, and milk to a boil. Remove them from heat and add the icing sugar, nuts, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over the warm cake, spread with a spatula, and serve with vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce or whipped cream.
Serving suggestions:
  • Ice cream
  • Caramel sauce (this one is delicious!)
  • Whipped cream

It's as good as it looks.
It's kind of a cross between chocolate cake and a brownie.

Tom

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Make Your Own "Wheat Meat"


Wheat Gluten

Kneading the dough
If you're vegetarian or an Adventist who wants to not look like a heathen at church potluck, you probably eat tofu or soy products. Tofu is easy to find. Most grocery stores carry it and it's a good protein source that is relatively easily to find. You can get it in most grocery stores. The trouble is that tofu is not really firm enough to work with as a meat substitute. Wheat gluten is a great addition to a vegetarian diet. Like tofu, wheat gluten is a vegetarian protein source. Like tofu wheat gluten or "seitan" also originated in Asia. Unlike tofu, however, seitan, sometimes called "wheat meat", has a satisfying, firmer texture that makes it work in ways tofu doesn't work well. Seitan can be used in casseroles, on the grill, or cooked up and added to Chinese food or on sandwiches. Seitan isn't seen very much in most supermarkets, but fortunately, it's easy to make your own wheat gluten steaks at home. Grocery stores that sell bulk items often carry high gluten wheat flour that makes it way easier to make your own seitan. If not, you can make it from unbleached flour by washing it. I know that sounds weird, but this recipe shows you how.

Note
: If you do have celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities should not eat wheat gluten. Otherwise it's an excellent source of vegetable protein.
Let stand for five minutes after the water is white and opaque.
How to Make Your Own "Wheat Meat"
Ingredients and Tools Needed: 
  • All-purpose unbleached flour
  • Whole wheat flour 
  • Water
  • Chicken, beef or other seasoning according to taste (you'll have to experiment)
  • A large mixing bowl (Kitchen-aide mixer is even better
Basic Recipe (multiply amounts as desired):

  1. Mix two cups unbleached white flour with two cups whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add enough water to make the flour the consistency of bread dough. 
  3. Knead the dough about 20 minutes with a dough hook or by hand to fully develop the gluten. 
  4. Put the dough ball in a large bowl and cover it with water.  Place in the refrigerator overnight. 
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge, pour out the water you soaked it in and cover it with lukewarm water. 
  6. Knead the gluten dough under the water. The water will turn white as the starch is released. Wait five minutes, pour out the water and refill the bowl. Knead the dough again till the water is white. Wait five minutes, pour off the water and knead again. Keep repeating until the water no longer turns white. 
  7. Cut the gluten dough into pieces. The dough should be a little rubbery by now. Cut it into the size and shape you have in mind - patties, cubes, strips, or balls as desired. The gluten will grow almost double in size during the next step. 
  8. Make a big pot of boiling water with seasoning added so that the gluten will absorb the flavor. Add the gluten pieces to the pot. Make sure they are fully covered by the broth. Simmer the gluten for about two hours. You will need add water the gluten soaks up the broth.
Serving Directions:
Keep pouring off the starch water till it runs clear.
Once it's done you can chicken fry it, chop it and saute' it with vegetables, barbecue it or use it virtually anywhere you'd use meat.  It has the texture of meat and costs you just a few pennies to make. You can store the gluten in a plastic Tupperware or glass container with a sealed lid. Pour some of the liquid you simmered it in over the gluten pieces and seal it up. It will keep for up to a week in the fridge.  You can also put it in freezer bags and freeze it.  It does take a while to make, but if you learn how to do it, it's worth your time.
Roll out the dough and cut it up in pieces
then simmer for two hours (picture at top of page)
If you go with the high-gluten flour, you don't have to wash the flour. You just make up the dough, knead it, cut it up and boil it in the pot with seasonings. It's a lot quicker and less time consuming.

Anyway, it's nice to know you can make it up and don't have to drive all the way to the ABC or wait for the ABC truck to come to the church or pay Amazon's exorbitant prices. And it's fun to do at least once so you can brag at potluck that you've made your own gluten (not that you'd brag about that sort of thing or anything).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sandwich Stuff - Olive and Pimento Cheese

All dressed up and ready to go!

I'm kind of a sucker for pimento cheese. It's always been a favorite of mine, but the tubs the commercial stuff comes in are either too small or too expensive, although I have been guilty of buying the giant size Prices' Pimento Cheese when I could get it. Hardly anyone sells it or understands pimento cheese up here in the Pacific Northwest, so I have been reduced to making it myself. This is one of my experimental version with which I am pleased.

It's kind of an "all-in" / clean off the cheese shelf kind of versions of this popular (at least in my neck of the woods it's popular) sandwich spread.  Every wedding has to have little triangular tuna sandwiches and little triangular pimento cheese sandwiches, so if you're doing a sandwich supper for the potluck gang, here's the first of several really good sandwich fillers.  I've already given you Sheila's vege-chicken salad. This goes great as a partner on the buffet board.

Ingredients:
  • Medium Cheddar Cheese (more of this than the others - you need that cheddary flavor)
  • Velveeta Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Swiss or American Cheese or whatever other cheesy oddments you have left on the cheese shelf in the fridge. The more the merrier I think.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Green olives (stuffed with pimento)
  • Black Olives
  • More Pimento if you like lots of pimento
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Pineapple (alternative to olives and pimento)
Directions:
  1. Cut up the cheeses into cubes and place them into a food processor with the chopper blade set. Don't fool with the grater attachment. It's messy and unnecessary.
  2. Chop the cheese into chunky bits.
  3. Add a spoon or two of sweet pickle relish and bump the "pulse" button
  4. Add pimento and olives and bump the pulse button until everything is chopped. .
  5. Add Mayonnaise and bump the food processor a few times till it's blended in.
  6. Scrape it all into a nice Tupperware bowl (I like the glass ones best), put the lid on it and you're ready to take it to potluck with your vege-chicken salad.
  7. You can pretty much leave the rest of the recipe the same only leave out the olives, pimentos and pickle relish and substitute pineapple chunks and you have Pineapple Cheese. It is a little more sweet than your usual pimento cheese spread. It's a little different taste, but I really like the pineapple variant of this recipe. Warning! Don't mix pineapple and olives. The chemistry of the two doesn't mix well. I tried it. It's kind of bitter.
Serving Suggestions:

This is really good on those triangular sandwiches all made up in advance or you can just take the tub along and let folks make their own sandwiches with it.  It also makes a nice dip kind of spread to put in the center of your vegetable and chips tray next to the French onion dip. I personally use Wheat Thins or tortilla chips to steal bites of pimento cheese out of the fridge even before we get to potluck.

As soon as I get me a can of Vege-links, I'll post my Vege-Weenie Sandwich Spread. It's really good stuff and makes a nice companion sandwich spread to pimento cheese. Meanwhile fool around with the recipe till it works just the way you wanted to. I knew a lady once who bulked her pimento cheese up with some kind of Jello. Not sure what flavor or whether it was unflavored gelatin, however she did it, it was really good stuff! So experiment yourself and come up with your own secret recipe.

Then don't forget to share it with me.

© 2017 by Tom King