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National Lasagna Day!

Lasagna!

July 29, 2022 is National Lasagna Day.  It repeats on this day every year.  So, I am compelled delighted to give up my free time compose this post for you.  I’m just going to have a glass or three of wine while writing fun with this post.  It is all real information, but I thought I would do something annoying entertaining for you via strikeouts.

While mining the internet desperately researching this blog, I was quite surprised to discover the history of lasagna.  Allow me to bore inform you regarding this delicious dish known around the world.

Fun Facts:

  • The word comes from the Latin word lasanum, which means chamber pot.  I am not sh1tting you!  I’m guessing it transitioned to the food meaning due to using new hopefully clean chamber pots to cook the pasta dish.  It makes sense to me.
  • The plural for lasagna is lasagneWho knew?
  • The earliest known lasagna recorded was in the 13th century and would not have contained love apples tomatoes as they were thought to be poisonous due to their close relationship to the deadly nightshade plant.
  • How does one wish another a happy lasagna day?  Like this:

Here’s some lasagna, enjoy.  We send you lots of love on the delightful celebration of National Lasagna Day…. may each and every day of the coming year be blessed with delicious comfort foods like lasagna….. Have a tasteful day!!!

There are zillions of lasagna recipes out there and some are pretty crappy sounding more than 100 different versions of lasagne.  Most contain tomatoes, noodles, and ricotta; but, some are based on béchamel sauces and contain lots of different veggies, like eggplant or zucchini instead of noodles.  The meat may or may not be present but ranges from ground beef, pork, poultry, lamb to bacon and chopped steaks.  Mushrooms are the most common replacement for meat.

Moving on

There’s a lot more to share but you have already jumped to the recipe and won’t see this but I will move on in this post.  I have included my recipe for lasagna at the bottom of this post.

To celebrate this odd yet fun under-appreciated holiday, Art of Cookery is making up a couple of batches of lasagna for our retail branch, Cookery Creations.  They will be available for free sale while supplies last in 16-ounce and 8-ounce portions.  Watch our facebook page for the announcement that there is some in the Magic front fridge.

Never heard of our Cookery Creations?

You probably know Art of Cookery is a world-renowned cooking school (I wish!).  But do you know that we also have a retail food license and sell meals?  You can order for a specific item or items on our menu and name a convenient pick-up day/time.  Or you can take a chance on what is in the Grab n Go Fridge inside the front door.  You can even order and pay online. Just come on in and snag a meal or two.  They are very convenient for not wanting to cook evenings, it’s too hot to cook and for work lunches.  Not to mention, its yummy and nearly free reasonably priced and you get a lot in a 16-ounce bowl.  Check out our menu here.

Poll (Just cuz I’m curious):

6
Created on By vkhanson

Lasagna Post Query

Will you take a minute to click on a couple of poll answers?  I really appreciate your time.  Thank you!

1 / 3

My favorite style is (select all that you fit):

2 / 3

Do you love lasagna?

3 / 3

Did you like the writing stye I used in this post (using the strikeout feature)?

Your score is

The average score is 0%

0%

The recipe (You skipped the blog and just jumped to it didn’t you?):

Chef Valerie's Lasagna

A meaty lasagna that hits the marks of a great comfort food and a beautiful Italian dish.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
Resting time30 mins
Course: Comfort Food, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Lasagna, pasta
Servings: 16 servings
Author: vkhanson
Cost: $26.50

Equipment

  • 1 13x9 or deeper greased lasagna pan Deeper is better.
  • 1 Sheet aluminum foil for covering greased to prevent cheese stickage
  • 1 Large Saucepan
  • 2 Stirring and Scraping utensils Wooden spoon and rubber scraper
  • 2 Small bowls

Ingredients

Noodle Layer

  • 1 16 oz box of Lasagna noodles In reality, I make the noodles myself but offering you a shortcut here.

Meaty Tomato layer

  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1.5 c diced onion
  • 1/2 c finely diced celery
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 t salt just a pinch
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 t Italian seasoning
  • 2 t fennel seed
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 28 oz cans San Marzano tomatoes crushed after opening
  • 2 c water can substitute some or all water for your favorite wine
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1.5 t fresh oregano
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T fresh basil

Cheese Layer

  • 30 oz ricotta cheese, whole milk can substitute small curd cottage cheese
  • 1.5 c shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1/2 c minced fresh parsley
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t freshly cracked black pepper

Yet Another Cheese Layer

  • 3 c shredded mozzarella cheese whole milk version
  • 1/2 c shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese

Garnish

  • plenty of vivid green herb like basil, green onion, and/or parsley

Instructions

  • Cook the noodles per box instructions (or make your own).

Assemble Meat Layer

  • In saucepan, cook meats, onion, celery, and pepper flakes with a pinch of salt.
  • Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, fennel, and tomato paste when the meat is barely browned and cook for 3 more minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, water/wine, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for at least 30 minutes.
  • Right before assembling lasagna, add the basil.

Assemble Cheese Layer

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • In small bowl mix together the two cheeses, egg, parsley, and black pepper.

Assemble Yet Another Cheese Layer

  • In a small bowl blend the mozzarella and the parmigiano-reggiano cheeses.

Pulling it all together

  • In the greased pan, spread 1 c of the meat sauce and then add a layer of the cooked noodles.
  • Layer 1/3 of the cheese egg parsley mixture over noodles.
  • Spread 1 1/4 c of the meaty sauce over the cheese mixture.
  • Add another layer of noodles, followed by one half of the remaining cheese mixture.
  • Spread 1 1/2 c of the meaty sauce over the cheese mixture.
  • Add another layer of noodles, followed by the remaining cheese mixture.
  • Spread 2 c of the meaty sauce.
  • OPTIONAL: If your pan is tall enough and you have extra, add another layer of noodles and meaty sauce.
  • Top with the bowl of mozzarella and parm cheese blend.
  • Cover with greased foil, greased side down.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes. When fully cooked the center should reach 160 degrees F.
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. 30 is best.
  • Garnish and serve!

Notes

Quality ingredients make a difference.  Buy the best if you can.
The lasagna can be refrigerated for a day, or, wrapped and frozen prior to baking.  To bake, remove from fridge or freezer and uncover 60 minutes prior to placing in oven.  Recover and bake first for 55 minutes instead of 45.
July 29 of each year is National Lasagna Day.  🙂

A Spare Gus

A Spare Gus

It is finally THAT time of the year, ASPARAGUS is up!  

As a child we had a lot of acres of it and had to pick it all ourselves.  Sometimes we had to get up at 4 am to get some picked before school (and then consequently missed the bus and had to walk to school, uphill both ways, in the snow, barefoot) 🙂 But really, depending on which school it was 2 to 6 miles.  

I hated asparagus as a child.

Now, I love everything about it.  It is delicious, healthy, and beautiful.  Also, it is fun to grow.

When we moved to our current location 3 years ago, I dug up some that I had planted at our previous place and a friend gave me some they were planting that spring on their farm.  At age 3 the stalks are coming up fat and happy.  

I thought I would include a little tutorial.

In case you didn’t know, when planting young asparagus roots, you don’t pick the little stalks that come up the next year.  The second year you can take a couple of early pickings.  The third year and after you can pick the whole season.  My season cut-off date is June 20.

After June 20 I let the stalks (which are actually sprouts) grow into mature plants.  A mature plant is about 6 feet tall and is graced with flowing ferning branches.

They enjoy a 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 for fertilizer.   They prefer a light sandy soil and their roots grow large and deep.  Fertilize when the soil starts warming, usually some time in April.  I fertilize again when I stop picking. 

If you want to plant a few crowns (roots) for yourself get on over to Tri-County Feeds in Montague as they are selling baby asparagus roots.

P.S. White asparagus is just green asparagus that never saw the sun or other nurturing light.  Purple asparagus is a real line of plants.  Its color comes from the high levels of anthocyanins in the spears.

Every June, go to Michigan’s Oceana County and enjoy the National Asparagus Festival.  It is a fun, quirky festival.  The mascot of the festival used to be (guess who?) Gus (as in A Spare Gus)

See bottom for an easy roasted asparagus recipe.

Menu

I’ve slightly changed our grab n go foods menu.  Each menu will run for two weeks, rather than one.  You can also order online through our shop.  Of course, cash is welcome, as is venmo, zelle, paypal.  There is a sign on the wall above the grab n go refrigerator describing the pay options.  Ordering ahead is recommended to ensure you get what you want, but there are usually extras made and placed in front refrigerator for pick-up 24-7. However, there are no guarantees that everything on the menu will be present if you randomly stop in for something.  There is always bread, mustard, and cookies.  Jams are coming soon.  Always check the menu dates at the bottom.  Here is the current menu (and below that, the menu that starts May 30):

Upcoming Classes

Gluten Free Vegan Doughnuts, 5/26/22 @5 pm  $24

Pickled Asparagus, 6/2/22 @12 noon   $38

To see all upcoming classes Click here and then on the red “Calendar of Classes” button.

Roasted Asparagus

This quick and easy asparagus recipe is delicious, healthy, and beautiful as a side.
Prep Time1 min
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: Asparagus
Servings: 2 people
Author: vkhanson
Cost: 4.00

Equipment

  • 1 baking sheet greased

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus get the fresh, thick stuff, the size of your thumb or more. If it came from more than 2 states away, skip it. You want fresh in-season stalks.
  • 3 tbsp oil or fat I prefer bacon grease, followed by butter & then olive oil if I don't have bacon drippings.
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper or to taste. You can adjust after roasting.
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, small hole shredded if you must, use the pre-grated canister, but it is so much better shredded from a block of the real cheese.
  • 2 eggs, poached super optional, yet super delicious. See notes for how to poach.
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1 pinch paprika optional, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Wash and trim the asparagus. To trim: break the cut/broken end by hand. It will naturally break where the tough butt ends.
  • Whisk the oil/fat, salt, pepper, garlic powder together in a small bowl.
  • Lay the washed, trimmed spears on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Rub the whisked mixture onto the stalks.
  • Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes. The time will vary by the thickness of the asparagus. It should be easily cut but not mushy and slightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and plate. Sprinkle cheese & lemon juice over.
  • Optional: top with a 4-minute poached egg, cut in half at the moment of serving.

Notes

Poached Egg:
Heat 4 c water and 1 T white vinegar to simmering.  You do not want a boil.
Meanwhile crack 2 eggs into 2 teacups or small vessels.  Have a slotted spoon and a plate with paper toweling on it.
Once the water is simmering, set a timer for 4 minutes and gently pour each egg into the simmering water's surface.
After about 40 seconds, nudge each egg to be sure it didn't secure to the bottom or the pan.
When the timer rings, use the slotted spoon to remove the eggs.  Place over asparagus. (for a much runnier yolk do a 3 minute egg)
ENJOY!
An even easier roasted asparagus recipe is to have a small loaf pan of melted salted butter, hotdog forks, and a bonfire.  Light the fire, put the spears on the forks, dip in butter, and roast like marshmallows.  Have a shaker of garlic salt for those who want to use it.

Herbs or Erbs?

How is it pronounced?

In the USA we skip the “H” and say Erbs.  In the UK it is pronounced herbs with the h-sound.  How is it pronounced where you are?

Herbs are Vital for Cooking

What would dining be like if we didn’t have herbs? Before the first humans decided to throw some rosemary or sage on their venison, I am sure it was mighty bland. The addition of herbs can be a powerful tool in cooking that can really make or break a dish. So, how to use them?

Cooking with Herbs can make all the Difference in a Dish

Some truly delicious meals are made when a combination of herbs are added at different times in the same dish. For instance,

New Mexican Posole

a truly divine posole (a New Mexican stew – Recipe at bottom of the post) may have dried coriander added to the pot at the beginning of it’s simmering time, then finished off with some glorious fresh cilantro after you’ve added a good-sized ladle to your bowl.  (Did you know that cilantro and coriander are the same plant?  In the US we refer to the plant as cilantro and its seeds as coriander.  In Europe it is all called coriander.)  Another option is to let someone else (like Art of Cookery) do all the hard work, then add your own pizzazz at home. Give us a call and we will reserve our yummy meals for you (see this week’s menu below), then you can pick it up and discover that we use a 

lot of herbs to brighten it up a bit. Could there be anything better?

Here’s a great herb guide

Rules of Thumb

A general rule of thumb is that dried herbs are added at the beginning of cooking to help them soften and release their flavors, and fresh herbs should be added at or near the end to bring out their fresh and delicate flavor in the finished dish.

Another thing to keep in mind is that dried herbs typically have a more intense flavor than fresh herbs. So keep this in mind when making substitutions, or when you feel like winging it and not following a recipe.  A good ratio to use is 3:1 fresh to dried (1 TBSP fresh is 1 tsp dried). Say you’re using a recipe for a marinara that calls for a teaspoon dried basil, but you happen to have found a gorgeous bunch of fresh basil on your trip to the store. No problem! Just omit the basil when the directions say to add it at the beginning, then stir in 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil into the pasta right before serving. 

Save a little of it to sprinkle over your plated pasta for a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Here at Art of Cookery we love to create artful and delicious food, and to show you how to do so as well, so be sure to scroll through more of our blog for lots of ideas and recipes that you can make your own. Also check out our classes and register for some to really up your food game.  See you soon!

Menu for this Week

Please order ahead if you can, it helps so much with planning.  I do try to make more than what is ordered and keep it in ‘fridge at the front of Art of Cookery for quick grabs (pay via Venmo or Cash).  My venmo address is on the front of the refrigerator.

Upcoming Classes

Old Fashioned Donuts – 3/22 @5:15 pm, $24

Sourdough Bread – 3/29 @12 noon, $40

New Mexican Posole

This is a perfect taste of New Mexico
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 10 mins
Using Pressure cooker30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mex-Tex
Keyword: Posole, Soup, Stew
Servings: 4 quarts
Cost: $20

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven Or, an electric pressure cooker
  • 1 wooden spoon to stir
  • 1 mesh strainer
  • 1 blender
  • 1 rubber spatula to press the chilies through the strainer

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil divided
  • 5 guajillo chilis stems removed and cut into three large pieces
  • 2 roma tomatoes quartered
  • 2.5 c boiling water
  • 2 lb boneless pork roast cut into 1" chunks
  • 3 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 1/2 lg onion chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 tbsp corn starch optional, only if you want it thick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 4 15 oz cans white hominy or garbanzo beans drained and rinsed, a blend of half and half is nice.
  • 5 c chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt Or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar optional
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro plus extra for garnish
  • Garnish Suggestions: radish, avocado, red onion, lime wedges, tortilla chips, cherry tomatoes, basil

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven, sauté chilies in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until heated through, don't brown. Transfer chilies to a bowl; add boiling water. Soak them while you do the next step.
  • In the Dutch oven, brown pork in remaining oil in batches, sauteing coriander seed, onion, and garlic with the last batch of pork. Return all pork to pan and add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until meat is tender, 30 minutes.
  • Transfer chilies and their liquid and Roma tomatoes to a blender; cover and process until smooth. Press through a mesh strainer, reserving pulp and discarding skins/seeds. Add pulp to pork mixture. Stir in the hominy (or garbanzo), bay leaves, oregano and salt. Cover and simmer, 30 minutes.
  • Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
  • To serve, ladle into bowls. Optional: to garnish, spread a row of radishes around the curve of the bowl. Sprinkle red onions and cilantro on top. Place lime or lemon wedges and tortilla on plate next to the bowl.

Using an Electric Pressure Cooker

  • Place oil in cooker and press saute. Add the peppers and sauté 2 minutes.
  • Pour 2.5 c hot water over peppers and bring to a simmer. Press Cancel. Put on cover.
  • Pressure cook at high for 2 minutes. Quick Release. (At this point you can skip the release and turn it off and just let it sit overnight and you can proceed the next day.) Pour contents into a blender, add tomatoes and puree. Pour into a mesh strainer set over a container. Push with rubber spatula until only skin/seeds remain in strainer.
  • Meanwhile, in cooker, add more oil and cook pork in batches over a high temp sauté. When the last batch is no longer pink, add the coriander, onions and garlic. Cook 2 minutes.
  • Add cornstarch and stir to coat everything. Add all other ingredients, EXCEPT the lime juice and cilantro. Stir, cover, and pressure cook at high for 5 minutes. Natural release for 15 minutes.
  • Open and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Garnish and serve.

Notes

NOTE: If the stew is too thick, add additional broth or water. If too thin, break out an additional can of hominy or white beans, puree in blender and add to the posole. Bring back to a simmer.
A good alternative to hominy are garbanzo beans.

Menu and Old Recipes

Sunday Morning's Menu is Published

With our Retail Food License upgrade comes great responsibility.  🙂

For three weeks we have published a menu for the next week.  It is going quite nicely!  Prepared food can be ordered hot (for immediate consumption) or cold for eating later (all reheat well in microwave or stovetop).

I keep the foods reasonably priced (which is a challenge in todays skyrocketing food prices 🙁 )

The Meal Kits are designed for you to have a hot meal that is unique.  Kind of like the boxed meal kits (like Hello Fresh, etc.) but with most of the work already done.  Not a box with whole potatoes, carrots, onions, you discover veggies chopped and in some cases, par-cooked.  The sauces are already made.  You will have some heat and/or assembly but not much.

Charcuterie boxes require at least 24 hours notice as they are made fresh for each order.  48 hours is best.

See this week’s menu below.

Cooking Classes Are in Full Gear

Our cooking classes are at pre-pandemic levels.   

An expanded kitchen results in classes that occupy more space.  Lots of new tools/topics have been added, like Tagine cooking.

Be sure to check out our website for all of the cooking classes.  Click here to go the the home page.  

Click the button below to see the schedule.  Feel free to make a request for a specific topic in a time frame that works for you.  

A Moroccan class set up to learn how to use a tagine.

Old Handwritten Recipe Cards

Yesterday, I found an old recipe card box that has traveled with me in life’s journey for forty years.  Apparently is was always to valuable to part with as I moved and/or transitioned through life.

As a teenaged bride, I wrote down my mother’s popcorn ball recipe and went on to use it many times over (as supported by the stains) to treat my own children.  Then, there were my mother in law’s gumball bread (at every Christmas celebration) and Mac and cheese (at every 4th of July) in her own hand.  She is gone now.  But these are fond memories and go beyond simple recipes.  My Aunt Rose brought a meatball dish to a family reunion in the late 1980’s…I HAD to have the recipe.  I didn’t make it much but I remember the feeling of family and fun when I look at the recipe card.  🙂 

I hope you have memories like these tucked away somewhere.  They are a time capsule treasure.


Good News, Finished Kitchen Make-over and a Chicken Stroganoff Recipe!

Exciting News!!

This morning, the Retail Food License inspector arrived for the final inspection of our kitchen remodel project.

He issued a license for the new and improved space to do retail food sales!

This will now become a larger part of our business plan than before.  Our cooking classes will be held 2-3 times per week and we will be selling more meal kits and packaged foods. 

We are also looking into the future at pop-up hot comfort food sales both at our location and at other locations, such as breweries.  Stay tuned for more information on that part of our plan.

Fall into Wanderland

John and I (Valerie) are two of the founding members of White Lake Wanderland.  Together with other board members, (Casandra Atchison of Jimmy’s Pub, Kara and Mike Smith, and Elly Kennedy) we created and ran the 2020 Winter Wanderland in February 2020.  That inaugural event was wonderfully successful and brought a lot of people to the area to wander the two cities of Montague and Whitehall.

Well….then there came a pandemic.  Sigh.  So the Fall 2020 event and Winter 2021 events couldn’t be held. 

We were so excited to bring you the 2021 Fall into Wanderland last weekend.

The weekend of October 15, 16, & 17 was so FUN!  From kids costume parade to adult costume events to a thrift date and budget buffet, there was something for everyone.  Art of Cookery even hosted the Thrift Date and Budget Buffet.

Put February 4, 5, & 6 2022 on your calendars for the next event, Winter Wanderland.

One more thing, we are looking for about 3 more board members.  Let us know if you are interested.  You can comment on this blog, email ICan@artcookery.com, or message the FB page. Don’t want to be a board member but willing to help as a volunteer?  Let us know that also.

There are classes on our fall calendar.

We’ve loaded our calendar with classes.  Check out what is coming up.

This Friday, 10/22/21, is the next class. It is one of our How to Series and is both informative and affordable. The topic is The Art of Pasta and participants will be making pasta (Fettuccini in this case) by hand and by machine.  There are two tickets still available. Click here for more information.

To check out all upcoming classes, check out Art of Cookery’s website and calendar.

To request a specific class you do not see listed, email us at ICan@artcookery.com.  We can usually accommodate such requests.

Chicken Mushroom Stroganoff

A creamy, delicious, and hearty comfort food
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, mushrooms, noodles
Servings: 8
Author: vkhanson

Equipment

  • Large Skillet
  • Turner
  • Saucepan
  • Colander

Ingredients

  • 4 qt hot water
  • 2 tbsp coarse kosher salt or 4 t table salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 oz dry egg noodles or other preferred noodle
  • 1 tbsp oil or fat
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz white mushrooms Rinsed and sliced
  • 1 lb chicken breast, partially frozen Sliced into 1/4" thin by 1" pieces. This is easier if partially frozen.
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp flour if you want a thinner sauce, use 2.
  • 1 1/4 c chicken broth or bouillon, or stock, or water, or milk
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t paprika
  • 1/2 t black pepper or to taste
  • 1 1/2 c sour cream
  • 3 tbsp butter to add to hot noodles, can be omitted if stirring the stroganoff and noodles together immediately.

Instructions

  • Place hot water, 2 T salt, and bay leaves in saucepan and place on burn to come to a boil.
  • Place skillet over high heat, add oil or fat, and when hot, add red pepper flakes and mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms for 5-8 minutes.
  • Once a lot of moisture has been released and steamed away, add onion, 1/4 t salt, and chicken. Sauté for 2 minutes until chicken is no longer pink.
  • Add rosemary and wine. Stir and cook to reduce moisture by half.
  • Add garlic and flour. Sauté 1 minute more.
  • Meanwhile, drain the noodles when they are at a desired doneness and place back in pan or in serving dish. Stir 3 tbsp butter in to keep them from clumping.
  • To the sauce, add broth, salt, pepper, and paprika. Bring to a boil.
  • Add sour cream and stir and simmer for about 2 minutes until thickened.
  • Stir in the noodles and heat back up, or serve over hot noodles. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika.

Notes

You can substitute mashed or fried potatoes or rice for the noodles.
A green herb, like chives or rosemary is a nice garnish.
Use two cans/jars of mushrooms instead of fresh for a short cut.  This will shave 5-8 minutes off your time.
Another time saver is using the breasts of a cooked rotisserie chicken.  Chop into bite size pieces and add with the broth.  If doing this, add the onions with the mushrooms.

jalapeno poppers

Pepper Poppers Post

Jalapeno Poppers

This is an odd way to begin a post about Jalapeno Poppers…but for a bit of backstory……

Here at Art of Cookery, one of my (Chef Valerie Hanson) favorite appliances is the Ninja FoodiNot only is it a great electric pressure cooker, but it nearly could replace every cooking appliance in your kitchen, including your range.  It just about does it all.  No.  I am not being paid for this or even trying to get you to buy one.  Just sharing about a great tool I use in the kitchen.  One drawback to it is that it is heavy.

P.S. Art of Cookery has to have a number of cookers for classes and has 2 Instant Pots and we love those as well.  The Foodi just does more than other pressure cookers.

Art of Cookery class line-up includes  a session called “Rock Your Pot” on how to use an electric pressure cooker and get maximum use of it.  This post is about a specific feature of the Foodi.  The air fryer.

Jump to Recipe

Harvest Season

It is October in Michigan and last Friday I had to harvest everything left on my tomato and pepper plants due to a frost warning.  Since I have been using the bountiful plants yummy fruit all summer, I was shocked to see how much was still on the plants.  Specifically, ripe to green tomatoes and bell, jalapeno, serrano, poblano, cayenne, sweet Italian, and Anaheim peppers.

It ended up not freezing.  But, better safe than sorry.  I’d have cried over losing all that produce.

So for five days, I have been canning tomatoes, marinara, pickled green tomatoes,  pickled peppers,  pepperoncini, and salsa verde.  I’ve also been dehydrating various peppers.

Jalapeno POPPERS

Yesterday, I still had a pile of jalapenos looking at me  and I still needed to make dinner.  Fortunately for me, my husband gifted himself with a pretty cool Weber grill.  He made jerked chicken and pork.  I just had to make a side.  POPPERS it is!  Who doesn’t love the wonderful blend of heat and creamy cheese that are Jalapeno Poppers?!

The recipe below makes some delicious poppers.  If you want to go even healthier, use Neufchatel cream cheese (or refried beans) and a low fat cheddar.  You can also use skim milk and egg whites.  And, toasting a few slices of lite bread and crushing them will reduce a few calories as well and still have lots of flavor.

Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers

Use your air fryer to transform your jalapeno abundance into delicious pepper poppers!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Jalapeno, peppers, snack
Servings: 5 2 per person
Author: vkhanson
Cost: $6

Equipment

  • Air Fryer
  • medium saucepan

Ingredients

  • 10 jalapeno peppers Large and firm

Filling

  • 5 ounces finely shredded cheddar extra sharp is best
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP chopped cilantro

Coating

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TBSP milk or half and half or cream
  • 1 cup finely crushed bread crumbs I prefer the Italian seasoned version
  • 1 tsp salt

Dipping Sauce

  • 2/3 c sour cream
  • 1 small lime both the zest and juice

Instructions

  • 1. In a saucepan of boiling water, gently boil the jalapenos, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
    2. Remove from saucepan and plunge in ice water. Leave in ice water to cool.
    3. Drain on paper toweling.
  • 1.      Mix together the 5 filling ingredients.  Place in a Ziplock style bag.  Set aside. 
  • 1. Place the flour in a bowl. Set aside.
    2. Whisk the egg and milk in another bowl. Set aside.
    3. Toss the crumbs and salt in a third bowl. Set aside.
  • 1. Slit a side of the jalapeños and remove seeds and veins. It is helpful to have a pair of slender scissors to snip the top of the seeds to separate from the stem. Rinse and drain the insides.
    2. Snip a corner off the bag with the cheese mixture and fill the peppers by squeezing into the slit until full. Press the pepper shut. If there is a small seam of cheese, it is ok.
  • 1. If the peppers dried, slightly dampen them. Roll each pepper in flour, then egg/milk, then crumbs (really press the crumbs on, you want a good coating). Place on a plate as they are finished.
    2. Spray exposed top and sides lightly with cooking spray. Turn over and spray the other side.
  • 1. While air frying, mix together the sour cream and lime juice/zest for a great dipping sauce.
  • 1. Remove air fryer basked and spray with cooking oil. (Unless your fryer indicates not to.) Replace the basket and preheat at 375 for 5 minutes.
    2. Place five in your fryer basket seam side down. This is counterintuitive but do it.
    3. Set your timer for 10 minutes.
    4. After 3 to 4 minutes (before the cheese melts enough to start running out) turn the poppers so the slits are facing up. Finish cooking the full 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining peppers.

Notes

If you have extra coating and some zucchini, green tomato, or egg plant nearby, dredge them through the coating bowls and air fry for 3 to 4 minutes.

Chicken, Cheese, and Tamales. Oh MY!

Chicken, Cheese, and Tamales are an odd combination for a post.

About the Chicken

Indeed!  I was intrigued by Chef Michael Symon’s recent appearance on Good Morning America where he shared his recipe for making that now infamous Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich.  So much so that I made it, and then made it again tweaking it slightly.  I then shared them with patrons at our local craft brewery Fetch.  They are a huge hit.  Thank you Chef Michael!  In the final recipe I settled on (see end of this post for full recipe) you see my notes for some of what I changed.  Essentially I adjusted the flour, some seasonings, and added onion powder to the mix.  You can click the recipe link above to see his recipe.

Cheese!

A lot of you may already know that I love to make my own cheese.  I also teach cheesemaking at my Art of Cookery cooking school.  Making Soft Cheeses such as Mozzarella and Sour Cream/Crème Fraiche is one class that is popular.  On rare occasions over the years I have taught a hard cheese class by private request.  Currently, I am considering making it a class that is on our calendar schedule.

Feedback Request

I am hoping for feedback from you. 

Making cheddar is a time commitment.  Here is the schedule.

On day 1 we start the class around noon.  The day is over about 6 to 7 hours later.  It will definitely be 7 if we use the cheddar’s whey to make ricotta. There are downtimes, such as 45 minute waits here and there but it is a process that moves forward all afternoon.

Next, on day 2 there is a 1 hour session pulling the cheese out of the press.  It can be a little more if we are using the ricotta to make Ziergerkase Cheese (DEFINITELY worth it).  If making the Zierrgerkase, there is a 1 hour class 24 hours after putting it in the cheesepress.  That day would be skipped if not making that second cheese.

Then, 3 days after taking the cheddar out of the press, the last class is about 1 hour long and covers waxing and aging the cheese.

Ziergerkase is soaked for up to four days in a bring of Cabernet and Tarragon. Delicious!

So, it is about a 10 hour class time commitment, broken up over a few days.  That is followed by the students themselves aging the cheese.  That entails turning it over a couple times a week and storing it in a dark cool place.

Questions to help me with:

  • I would have to charge $100 per person.  Do you believe it is worth the time and money?
  • I think it is a great way for someone to decide they want to go into cheesemaking without the costly equipment purchase (For instance, a cheese press alone is not cheap!)  Do you agree?
  • The participant(s) would have to commit to keeping the schedule.  Do you believe it is a doable schedule?  Any other questions or feedback?

Tamales – Yum

Rita and her husband with John Gonzales of Michigan’s Best.

I like to teach a lot of various cuisines.  As a result, some of my cooking classes are involved in making some Asian, Moroccan, and Mexican dishes for example.  One topic I have never approached but always wanted to is Tamales.  I love them but know they can be a failure for many reasons if you don’t know the secrets.

Recently, I reached out to Rita Rodriguez, owner of Two Hot Tamales in neighboring Newaygo County and asked if she would be interested in being a guest chef at Art of Cookery and teach a Tamale class with me as her sous chef.  She Said YES!  As a result, we have settled on December 8, 2019 at 1 pm.  This special event will take place at 1 pm and last approximately 2 hours.  However, stay tuned, pricing has not yet been set.

So here is what I am asking:

Are you interested?  We’d like to have a number for planning purposes.  Responding that you are interested doesn’t mean you are committed or registered, just interested.  Please comment below, and/or send an email to ICan@artcookery.com.  You can private message on our facebook page too.  Or just look for the even on our facebook page and click on interested.

And now for that Chicken Sandwich recipe

Ingredients

·        2, 10 to 12-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 4 small ones)

·        1 cup buttermilk

·        1 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

·        1 teaspoon garlic powder

·        1 tsp onion powder

·        1 1/4 teaspoon table salt

·        1 teaspoon black pepper

·        1 ½ TBSP Hot Sauce (Chef Michael suggests Louisiana brand but use what you have.  Increase to 2 tablespoons if making the spicy version)

·        3/4 cup flour (I use a blend of one part “00” flour, 1 part extra fancy Durum semolina and 2 parts unbleached all-purpose flour.  All all-purpose will work just fine, in fact it’s what Chef Symon used, but in my opinion, the flour blend gives a better coating and crunchier result.)

·        3/4 cup cornstarch

·        2 tsp sweet paprika

·        1 tablespoon garlic powder

·        1 tsp onion powder

·        2 tsp cayenne powder, optional (if making the spicy version, even more if desired)

·        Oil for frying

·        4 soft brioche hamburger buns

·        unsalted butter

·        Dill pickle chips

·        Miracle Whip or Mayo, for serving (I use Miracle Whip but Hellman’s is ok and Dukes Mayo is the southern standard)

Directions

Lay out your chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken to an even half-inch thickness. Cut each in half to make four.  If your breasts are very large, trim two bun size pieces from each breast and use the two smaller cuts as a pair of bonus chicken slices or make a fifth sandwich from them.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the buttermilk and next six ingredients. Submerge the chicken in the buttermilk and soak.  Chef Symon recommends at overnight or for at least 4 hours I recommend at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Once the chicken is fully marinated.  Heat a pot of oil or deep-fryer to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour(s), cornstarch and seasonings.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk marinade into the flour mixture and mix loosely with a fork, creating some small clumps. This will help the chicken achieve a jagged, flakey crunch.

Bread and fry the chicken.

Remove one piece of chicken from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off. Place it in the flour mixture and turn to coat evenly. Gently press the breading into the chicken and repeat with the remaining pieces.

Deep fry for four to five minutes, until the chicken is crunchy and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Remove to a draining rack and season with salt, if desired. I do not salt them. While they rest and cool slightly, finish the sandwich.

Finish and assemble the sandwich.

Heat a skillet or griddle.  Rub a stick of butter on the griddle so there’s a melted smear for each Brioche half.  Place the cut side of the brioche buns over melted butter and lightly toast.  (Chef Symon melts the butter and brushes it over the buns with a pastry brush and then toasts.  My way is easier)

To finish, spread both halves of the buns with generously with Miracle Whip or mayo and add a layer pickle slices to the bottom half. Place a piece of chicken on and top with the other half of the bun.  Serve fresh and hot.

ENJOY

 


Sally’s Sourdough Scones

Sourdough scones are a no-brainer.

But only if you are an avid sourdough mother fermenter!

I started my sourdough ferment decades ago.  I call her Sally and she lives in a half gallon blue Ball jar in my refrigerator.  She has a fantastic depth of flavor and character unique to her due to how I feed her.  At Art of Cookery I teach classes on sourdough so check out our schedule.  Don’t see something you are interested in?  We take requests!

But that’s a different story.

This one is about scones borne of her deliciousness.  I feed Sally weekly, adding to her volume.  However, I don’t always bake bread weekly (especially since we closed our bed and breakfast, removing the need for copious amounts of toast).  Pouring some of her down the drain to make room would be unforgiveable.  So, another use requires development (this means I have been playing in the kitchen, one of my favorite activities).  With Sally, I have recently made:

  • Sourdough pancakes
  • Sourdough chocolate cake
  • Sourdough flour tortillas
  • Sourdough scones

They were all terrific.

But, the scones seemed to have a remarkable height and delicateness that is worthy of taking the time to blog about it.  While I made cherry chocolate chip scones, you can switch it up with any dried or fairly dry fruit.  Examples are dried raisins, currants, figs, pineapple; and, diced rhubarb and apples.  Because I knew I was serving them to a group that included someone who didn’t like chocolate, I chose to top the scones with the dried cherries and mini chocolate chips so that they could be removed.  This recipe suggests you incorporate them.  You can choose either.

Photos are at the bottom so you can see texture and process clues.

Sourdough Country Scones

Prepare.  You need:

  • 2 bowls. Small and medium
  • Pastry Blender (just two knives work if you don’t have a pastry blender) AND Spoon/rubber scraper
  • 1 and ½ cup dry measure; 1 cup liquid measure
  • 1 & ½ teaspoon; 1 tablespoon measures
  • Pastry brush AND knife or bench scraper
  • Baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup raisins (or chocolate chips or dried fruit of choice, I like currants or mango/pineapple)
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 TBSP cold butter
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 3 TBSP sour cream
  • 2 TBSP orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or nutmeg)
  • Heavy cream (for patting and brushing scone tops)
  • Additional sugar (optional, for sprinkling on top)
  • Orange zest, optional

 Make:

In medium mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, & salt.  Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

In small bowl, mix sourdough starter, sour cream, orange juice, and vanilla.  Fold wet mixture into dry mixture.  Use a spoon and stir until just moistened.

Add fruit and mix only lightly.   Squeeze and press some with hands to blend fruit.  It will be sticky.  Scrape/Pour onto prepared baking sheet.  With hands wet with cold cream (to help prevent it sticking to your hands), press together and pat dough into a round shape ½ inch thick.  Sprinkle with zest and brush tops with cream and sugar if desired.  Cut dough into 8 or 16 wedges and use a pie server to slightly separate about 1/2 inch apart (or, cut and leave together.  It depends on whether you want a crisper exterior all of the way around, or soft moist sides.

Bake in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.   Makes 8 large or 16 small scones.

Notes:

  • If doing chocolate, omit the cinnamon as the combo may not be to everyone’s tastes.
  • If using rhubarb (which is fantastic) use nutmeg and toss the diced rhubarb in a little extra granulated sugar to coat.
  • If you cut them into 16 or so pieces, they will bake faster than 8 pieces so watch for a golden kiss to tell doneness.
  • If health/weight conscious, reduce the sugar and don’t top with sugar and cream.
  • Greek yogurt works as a substitute for sour cream, lemons/lemonade work just as well as orange/orange juice, and almond (or other extract) works well instead of vanilla.  Make these have YOUR desired flavor profile.

If you make these sourdough scones, please tell me about it!!  Share a picture on our Facebook page Art of Cookery.

Photos of Sourdough Scone Making

 


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