Welcome
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becky_cooks
Time to shake the dust off this web page and get cooking!

My name is Becky and I love to cook, bake, and talk. So pull up a cup of coffee or tea or a cold beverage of your choice and let's get to talking!

Korean fried sticky chicken
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korean fried chicken

Have you ever eaten something so good your eyes roll back in your head, your taste buds dance, and you totally have a mouthgasm? Yes, the Korean fried chicken is honestly that good.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen.

Grab a tray of wings 3-4.5 lb, cut off the wingtips* and then cut between the wing and drummette
3 qts vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup cornstarch, divided
salt and pepper
1 cup water
1 recipe sweet garlic soy sauce (recipe follows)

measure 2 inches of oil in a large dutch oven and heat to 350 over med-high heat.Line to rimmed baking sheets with wire racks (stick a paper grocery bag under here to catch the oil, clean up is now easy peasy.

sift 1/2 cup of the cornstarch in a large bowl. Rinse and pat your chicken dry, roll in the cornstarch, then put in a softer and shake it around to get any excess off. Put the chicken on the wire rack. whisk the remaining cup cornstarch, water, and a tsp of salt together and set aside. When the oil is hot, use tongs, dip dusted chicken in the wet batter allowing excess batter to drip back in the bowl, put in oil.

fry the chicken stirring to keep it from sticking together, adjust heat to keep the oil at 350.until the chicken begins to turn golden and is about 90 degrees on a thermometer. Transfer to second rack and set aside 5-6 minutes, fry all the chicken this way.

Return the oil to 350 and put the chicken back in the oil starting with the first batch, fry until deep brown and golden and temp is 165-175, about 3-6 min, drain, repeat until all the chicken is finished.

put the chicken in a large bowl and drizzle with the sauce, mix well.

* you can save the wing tips in the freezer to make stock later on.

Sweet soy garlic sauce

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tsp sriracha sauce

Simmer all ingredients together over med heat until syrupy, about 5 min. Let cool to room temp.

While you have a pot of hot oil why not fry up some kale, clean it, have it super super super dry, cut it up, discard tough stems, fry in small batches, 4-5 for a bunch of kale. It will hiss and splatter, have a splatter shield handy. Salt.

CousCous- from a box, but it is good, I promise

My lunch tried to escape!
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Jim and I are not usually strap a live animal on the car and bring it home to munch type people. Live seafood is another story. We drove to Bantings, our local plant nursery, to buy pine needle bales. While there we found an Indian variegated rope hoya, I am so excited! I’ve killed three so far but I have high hopes for this one.

Speaking of killing things, we than drove by the westwego fish market, a series of stalls wherein people who aren’t to lazy to get a boat and a trap go catch fish, crab, crawfish (mudbugs, as we affectionately call them down here, ya’ll), shrimp etc, buy from people who do go catch these things.

We bought live crawfish, live crabs, well behaved dead shrimp, and had us a crawfish boil. Once we had the seafood we only need boil seasoning, little red ‘taters and some corn on the cob, and a few lemons.

Now the crabs were exactly what we’d wanted them to be, fat and feisty, claws waving around, one got out at the stall and tried to escape. If this were a disney movie we would have all become fast friends and Mr. Crab would live a happy life singing song- but this is our movie and Mr. Crab joined the rest of his friends on the plate.

The mudbugs were also a lively crew, so on the way home we can hear both the crabs and mudbugs trying to escape from their paper sacks-o-doom.

One actually made some progress:

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But he didn’t get the hole big enough.

Into the pool guys. Jim and I picked up this fryer/boiler at the thrift store, We have fried a turkey and now had a boil!

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I leave you with this, the finished product. Nom nom!

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Meringue!
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meringue

I love meringues. Some egg white, sugar, touch of salt, and a sprinkle of fairy dust.  How else does one explain what happens when I whip those ingredients together and come out with a crispy outside, soft inside, pillow of yumminess. Okay, it could be explained with chemistry, but I’ll stick with fairy dust and magic!

Meringue is a terrific cookbook full of great ideas. I made the vacherin, and I liked that she gave a lemon curd recipe that used all the yolks from the egg whites that made the meringue.

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This was delicious, but I would prefer blackberries or blueberries with the lemon, the strawberries were a little sweet and not as complimentary.

The Cherries Jubilee pavlova was a huge hit

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But the favorite had to be the Nocciola Baci… delicious and Wow! Two of my favorite things, meringues and nutella!

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Recipe adapted from Meringue by Linda Jackson

Meringues:

1 1/2 cups (about 6.75 oz) blanched, chopped hazelnuts

2 large egg whites, room temperature *

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablesp unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate-hazelnut filling

1/3 cup nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread

1/2 tablesp sifted powdered sugar

Meringues

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

In a food processor pulse hazelnuts until finely ground, set aside

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar, increasing speed to medium high until soft peaks form. Add sat then gradually add the superfine sugar followed by the powdered sugar, about a tablesp at a time, beating high until peaks are stiff and glossy. Add hazelnuts and mix just until incorporated.

Wiht a rubber spatula, divide the meringue mixture roughly in half in the mixing bowl. use half of the mixture to make plain cookies by dropping well sounded teaspoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Add the cocoa powder to the remaining meringue mixture and beat just until combined. Drop by tsp onto another parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 90 min. Remove from the oven immediately so that the cookies will remain a little bit chewy in the center. Cool completely before removing from baking sheets.

Chocolate hazelnut filling

In a small bowl mix the nutella and powdered sugar until incorporated.

To assemble:

Gently spread about 1/2 tsp filling on to the bottom (flat side) of one cocoa cookie, then place the flat side of the plain cookie on top. Gently press together** Repeat. Eat right away or store in airtight containter with wax paper separating the layers of cookies.

*It’s easier to separate the eggs when cold, then let come to room temp lightly covered with plastic wrap

** Gently! Otherwise cookies look like HULK SMASH!

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Tilapia, cauli-tator, and spoon tender green beans
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This is a super simple supper that is sure to get raves from the family.

Start with green beans adapted from the fabulous “Dollars to Donuts,” by Dawn Welch (and while your there check out the incredible oven fried chicken, it is so good!)

1 lb green beans, trim off ends and cut in the middle

4 slices bacon

1 small onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

salt and pepper

Get a skillet and cut up 4 slices of bacon into 1/2 inch pcs and brown over med high heat. Add onion and garlic and turn to med, cook until onion starts to soften and get translucent. Add beans, salt, pepper, and a cup of water (beans should be 1/2 submerged, so adjust as needed), bring to a boil. Cover Loosely, turn down to med-low and cook until spoon tender, 30 min (I like letting them go a little longer but taste and take them off when you like the texture)

Cauli-tator

Cut up a cauliflower, put in microwave safe container with a tablespoon or so of water, cover, cook on high 12-15 min. Mash with butter or butter like stuff (I like shed spread) and add salt and pepper.

Tilapia with Garlic Butter (from about recipes)

Ingredients:


  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • dash pepper

  • dash salt

  • pinch dried dillweed or parsley

  • dash paprika

  • 4 tilapia fillets

Preparation:

In saucepan, combine butter, garlic, pepper, salt, dillweed, and paprika. Heat over low heat until butter is melted and starts simmering. Remove from heat. Brush a little of the butter mixture in the bottom of a shallow baking dish (line baking dish with foil, if desired) then place tilapia fillets on the buttered area. Brush top of each tilapia fillet with the seasoned butter mixture. Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes, until tilapia flakes easily with a fork.

EAT! haha, did I really need to say that?

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The thrill of the grill(s)
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It just occurred to me that we own three grills and two smokers. I mean, I knew in the back of my mind we owned these grills and smokers, it not like some smoke fairy snuck in our yard in the dark of night and left us grills. But it really hit me when I contemplating a package of bratwurst and thought, "I should use the little grill, this isn't worth firing up the charcoal hog for." and then I thought, "having these choices is probably weird."

We had a kettle grill, Weber. I liked it, but I was afraid of lighting the charcoal. Jim didn't like that he had to come from work and start the thing, just too much time and work. So I let him talk me into selling it and getting a gas grill. My opinion on gas grills is why bother? To me they taste no different than if I cook something on the stove. I've had proponents of gas grills tell me after awhile the grease builds up or something and the food starts tasting more grilled, but I can tell you our is has plenty of grease build up and nada. I tried the little tricks like the fake coals and no... to me it's just wrong.

Because I wanted real smoke taste on my eggplant for eggplant dip etc, I bought a smokey Joe. Only this time i also bought a charcoal chimney. Now that chimney is one of the best purchases I've made. It takes away my fear of burning off my eyebrows with chemical lighter fluids, gives me something to do with leftover scrap paper like grocery lists, and makes starting the charcoal easy peasy.

Okay, we are now up to 2 grills, the gas and my little grill. I have wanted a smoker for years but could never get aboard. Finally, this year, he broke down because Amazon was having a special `12 months same as cash deal, and let me get my smoker. I chose the Weber smoky mountain because it has great reviews. And I love it! It's wonderful, smokes food wonderfully, and gave me an excuse to buy a couple of books on smoking food, hahaha.

We are now up to 2 grills and a smoker, each with it's own reason for being. Then Jim starts mentioning his gas grill is looking a little worn and he'd like to start thinking about getting a new grill, at which point I reiterated my dislike for the gas grill and he says he wouldn't mind going back to charcoal, especially since I am now willing to get it started and stuff. So we buy a Giant Weber kettle grill. And really like it. Steak, hamburger, it all tastes grilled again (the smokey joe is truly tiny, there isn't space for 4 steaks or 8 hamburgers) but he doesnt' want to get rid of the gas one until it's unusable, he still likes it for a quickie.

We now stand at three grills and one smoker. When we were looking at different smoker models I was attracted to vertical smokers. They seemed "neater" in the clean and neat sense. Electric also had it's points, no messing with charcoal, easy set up being among them. So when I was offered an electric vertical smoker to review I was all over it, then I was all over it.. as in over it. But, because of the rules of reviewing I'm stuck with it for 6 months.

So to recap, electric, small, kettle, smoker, smoker.

Shall I talk about my three pressure cookers next?

Marigny Brasseire
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http://www.marignybrasserie.com/

Today for lunch, using a Living Social coupon, Jim and I went to one of our favorite restaurants. Marigny Brasserie has really good food, and for the quarter/Marigny district the price isn't bad. I decided to explore the world of appetizers today. Usually we don't bother since appetizers are so expensive, but I was in a peck mood, good thing!

First we ordered the Johnycakes with crab, creme fraiche,  and caviar. It was so cute!  Delicious!

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Next we ordered the seared scallops with lentils and kale chips

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That is NOT kale "chips!" That is a kale chip. For fourteen dollars they could have given me two kale chips!

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My lone kale chip. I make kale chips at home, and home is where I think I will get mine from now on, though I must say the scallops were seared to perfection and the kale chip was all lovely and crisp.

And lastly, Jim is happy because Jim bought an entire meal :) Even so, we ended up bringing home half a sandwich and some lentils.

Here is Jim with his Shrimp po boy.
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Not everything is a success
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Learning to laugh off failures and be willing to try again is not only a good philosophy in life, but a  good in the kitchen also!

I was sorting through all the magazine clippings and recipes I've down loaded and collected through the years when I came up this recipe for pudding cookies. I had never heard of making cookies with pudding and was all ready to wow the world with my discovery, when I saw an article on facebook about pudding cookies! Well, I forged ahead and made them anyway.



Being Southern by the  "grace of u-haul," I thought how hard could it be to make a great Southern biscuit? Dreams of light as air, fluffy, flaky biscuits filled my soul with glee.



so there you have it. Everyone has failures. I bet even Martha Stewart wailed over a fallen souffle or two. Keep on cooking!

Does everything taste better fried? Spinach does!
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When we were in Katrina, I was introduced to fried spinach, courtesy of Firebird Grill.  Fried spinach is a wonderful side, and my sons, who won't touch spinach in any other form, happily munch a pile of fried spinach.

Fried spinach with fried carrots and fried butternut squash:





combine veggies as above, or toss a bit of flour on some squash and eat it alone:



Let's talk equipment and technique:

Frying is basically putting food in hot oil. The thinner you can get the food sliced the faster and crispier the food will fry. I had a very expensive french stainless steel mandolin, but preferred my plain old v-slicer.

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=6679

At one time I also had a euro-pro deep fryer. But to me, with the except of french fries, nothing beats an electric skillet. With an electric skillet you get surface area, perfect for frying tortilla chips, veggie chips, chicken, etc. You do need a deeper frying pan for french fries, but I still like a good pot vs a pro-fryer.



Heat your oil to 375, don't overcrowd the pan. Don't look at my fry pan up there and thing you could double the ingredients, overcrowding will bring down the oil heat too much. Place veggies in carefully, the thinner the crispier, and fry about 2-4 minutes. Add the veggies one at a time with tongs to keep them from clumping. Drain on paper towels and salt to taste.

Let's talk spinach. What is spinach mostly comprised of? Water. What does water do when it hits oil? Splatters!  The best way to fry spinach is to have an outdoor fryer and a basket with a really long handle. If you don't have that, a masochistic daredevil cook who likes to be burned might come in handy. But, if like me, you are lacking either of those options, it's still possible to fry spinach. Get your oil hot, make sure the spinach is as dry as you can get it. I get the spinach in the bags, prewashed. Get some tongs or something with a long handle, stand as far as way as possible, to the side is best, wear an oven glove, toss in the spinach and stand back. Spinach actually separates itself, so unlike above, don't worry about trying to put it in one leaf at a time. After a few seconds the worst of the splattering will die down and you can use your tongs or a slotted spoon to stir the spinach around a bit and make sure it's all separated. Fry about 2 minutes, it will take on a glassy shiny appearance.

Fried spinach takes on a glass-like appearance:


I need a sign off, like Alton Browns says, "now that's good eats." Or Julia Child used to say "Bon appetite" Rachel Ray says, "munch munch munch." as she's usually taking a bite of her food.

Quick and Easy meal!
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Pecan crusted pork tenderloin with yellow cauli-tator

 Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin
From Diana Rattray,
Your Guide to Southern U.S. Cuisine.

 
 
Pork tenderloin is coated with a mixture of chopped pecans, bread crumbs, and seasonings.
INGREDIENTS:
1 to 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules or base**

PREPARATION:

With a sharp knife cut tenderloins into 1/4-inch slices. With a meat mallet gently pound each slice to about 1/8-inch thickness. In a shallow bowl or on waxed paper, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk the eggs and water. In another shallow bowl or on waxed paper, combine bread crumbs, pecans, and parsley.
Dip the tenderloin pieces into flour mixture, then into the egg mixture, then into the bread crumb and pecan mixture, coating well.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook tenderloin pieces, 1/3 or 1/2 at a time, until lightly browned on both sides and cooked through. Add more oil as necessary.

Place browned tenderloin on a warm platter or tray and keep warm while cooking remaining pieces.

Add the 3/4 cup water and chicken bouillon granules to the drippings in the skillet and bring to a boil, stirring to loosen browned bits; continue to boil for 1 minute. Pour over pork.
Serves 4.

* I don't have dried parsley, so I used a tablespoon Italian seasoning

**I used a packet of herb-ox chicken


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