Jerk chicken and the controversial corn

Backyard Jerk Chicken

Savory Corn pudding

Don't worry, chicken.  This isn't about you. You're good.

Don’t worry, chicken. This isn’t about you. You’re good.

Let’s start with the totally uncontroversial part of this delicious Sunday meal: the chicken.  This chicken recipe is easy and delicious.  The ingredients are fully bizarre.  If you can name me any other food besides jerk chicken that has you combining hot peppers with allspice, please do.  This was super hot.  D told me that the vapor of marinade hitting heat on the grill was giving him coughing fits.  I believe it.  I had one fingerful of the marinade right after it was done and my eyes were watering.  Keep in mind, please, that this was all with a jalapeno pepper because we couldn’t find a habanero or scotch bonnet pepper at the store.  I can’t imagine how much hotter this could get.  The chicken was awesome and that is that.

The corn pudding was also good, but therein hangs a tale, as they say.  The directions call for you to grate 8 ears of corn.  I really had no choice but to use a box grater for this.  I got one ear in to this process and was pretty exhausted.  After two ears, my arm was tired and the kitchen looked like a corn cob exploded on it (which it kind of did).  After three ears I was getting desperate and losing hope.  D suggested that I cut the corn off the cob and run it through the food processor.  Fine.  Sold.  He could have suggested putting whole ears in the blender.  I was ready to try anything.

Please also note that the coffee maker, in D's words, looks like a crime scene.

Please also note that the coffee maker, in D’s words, looks like a crime scene.

You can see that the one on the right, the grated corn, is considerably juicer than the one on the left.  To which I say “Who cares?”  Yes, this might have been a little bit more pudding-like, but I have the use of my arm.  So that’s that.  Even with that modified process, this was still terribly tedious.

Was it all worth it?  Depends who you ask.  I thought it tasted like high brow creamed corn.  To me, in a world where canned cream corn exists and, more importantly, where corn casserole exists, this cannot be justified.  Oh yeah, you add bacon and some basil to it.  Still not enough to justify the hassle.  D also thought it tasted like high brow creamed corn, and he thought that was good enough to make it worth the trouble.  Who went through the trouble?  Yeah, good point there…Grumble, grumble…  Also, D doesn’t like corn casserole.  For the uninitiated, corn casserole is a mix of a can of corn, a can of creamed corn, Jiffy cornbread mix and some proprietary ingredients to make it hold together which are then baked in the oven.  My brother’s girlfriend tops hers with cheese.  It’s delicious.  D is wrong.  If you too think that two cans and a box do not a side dish make, then go ahead and grate some corn until your arm hurts.  I, on the other hand, won’t be fooled again.

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Intergenerational Quiching

Bacon-Cheese Quiche

Mother and daughter quichers

Mother and daughter quichers

Hey!  That doesn’t look much like bacon and cheese quiche!  You’re right.  That’s me and my mom.  We are two parts of a three-generation family tradition of quiche.  It all started years ago when my mom called her mom to find out her recipe for Quiche Lorraine.  My mom jotted down that recipe on a notecard and used it to cook countless quiches for her family over the years.  I think all families have that default recipe that they had all the time.  Maybe yours was meatloaf or lasagna or fried chicken.  Ours was quiche.

Side 1.  Can you tell it's been used a few times?

Side 1. Can you tell it’s been used a few times?

Side 2

Side 2

So she wrote down her mom’s recipe.  I have a version of this recipe card too!  It doesn’t have all of that fun patina, though.

I will also share my mom’s crust recipe beyond the jump.  You’ll know why when you look at this picture.

Because her crust is always perfect, that's why!!!

Because her crust is always perfect, that’s why!!!

When I look at that crust and those perfect little scallop shapes, I can see my mom shaping it with her knuckle.  When I see that, I can also see my grandma’s hands.  When I see my own hands, I see me making the pinches far too shallow and pointy.  But I’ll get better.  I learned from the best.

As should be obvious by now, I had my mom take on the Bacon-Cheese quiche because she is the quiche master.  Who better to tell us all whether this is a good recipe than someone who has made more quiches than she can count?  (I got an audio recording of the two of us talking about this quiche, but WordPress charges you extra money to have enough space on your blog to upload an audio file.  Boo!  The internets tell me that I can make a movie of the audio file, upload it to YouTube, then post that here.  I want to have time for that, and I’ve also got two fellow bloggers cooking and writing their way through a January/February issue and nipping at my heels.  I need to let them move on.  I promise to make the video and add it back here to the blog as soon as possible.  It’s a really fun interview!)

Mostly, the quiche master did not love this recipe.  She liked the onion flavor, although my dad, the other tester, did not.  She thought it would be lighter and fluffier than it actually turned out.  She thought blind-baking the crust was a great technique, though.  Her usual crust is just cooked right along with the filling.  Mom, Dad, and I all agreed that this method keeps the crust from getting soggy.  She said she’d do it again.  That’s huge, don’t you think?  Someone who has been making quiche for over 30 years and who learned from someone else who also made quiche for decades is going to change her technique based on Everyday Food!  She did not have the same pan problem as Beth and I.  She used a nine-inch pie plate (not her usual pan, she usually goes with a tart pan) and found she had exactly the right amount of filling.

My ultimate recommendation?  Make the quiche from the recipe from my grandma via my mom, use her crust, and blind-bake the crust.  Oh, and I like the onions, so add those too.

Stay tuned for that video.  I’ll also add in pictures of the original quicher, my grandma.

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Bacon-Wrapped Ginger Shrimp

Bacon-Wrapped Ginger Shrimp

Bacon, shrimp and ginger… what's not to like?

Bacon, shrimp and ginger… what’s not to like?

The bear can’t eat shrimp, so I had to wait for an opportunity without him to make this.  I went to my friend J’s house to enjoy this treat.

The unfortunate truth is that we couldn’t find any fresh ginger at the super market the night I made this.  I had to use the jarred grated kind.  As a result, I do think the dish suffered a bit.  The ginger flavor was really subtle, (I was the only one who was able to discern it, the other two people eating just tasted shrimp, bacon and soy sauce – which also wasn’t bad).  I like my ginger to have a nice sharp kick so I was a bit sad at how that turned out.

I also want to point out that the bacon strips should really be quartered.  I did a few pieces with the full half strip and the bacon was too thick to actually crisp up in the oven.  I did the rest with the quarter strip and the outcome was much more satisfying.

Another addition that I think would be awesome would be grilling these instead of baking them.  They were laying in a rather big puddle of bacon grease when they came out of the oven so I think either baking them on a rack or grilling them so the grease can drip off would be a bit tastier.

With all that being said, it really was yummy!  I served it with salad greens to make it into more of a meal.  Make these!  But make them with fresh ginger as suggested!!!

Super healthy chicken and grape salad…with bacon and blue cheese

Chicken and grape salad

Yup.  That wins.  That's the worst picture in the entire blog.

Yup. That wins. That’s the worst picture in the entire blog.

We’ve got some power couples in this recipe:  Sweet and savory.  Bacon and blue cheese.  Leftovers and laziness.

The flavors on this one are amazing.  The grapes are sweet.  The blue cheese and the yogurt are tangy.  I used full fat yogurt because that’s what we have in the house as decadent people/parents of a toddler.  The chicken was savory and lovely because it was the chicken from the “panic carrots” recipe the day before and it had that nice garlicky, oniony flavor shining through.  The recipe calls for you to use half of a rotisserie chicken.  Everyday Food doesn’t normally miss an opportunity to tell you how to use the leftovers from one of the other recipes in the issue.  The bacon was bacon.

The fact that the salad recipe from this issue has blue cheese and bacon on it demonstrates very nicely how decadent this issue is.  I like the idea of cooking seasonally and everything but the Thanksgiving November issue and the Holiday December issue back to back is a little rough on the ol’ waistline.

I should try to excuse that picture, shouldn’t I?  I can’t.  I forgot to take a picture at dinner, so this picture was taken in the dark break room at work the next day.  If anyone noticed the Baby Bullet container in the background, that held salad dressing.  J graduated from purees a while ago, so those have just become small leftover containers.  When you have a baby and a small kitchen, certain lines get blurred.

 

Yogurt-cheese spread (with special appearance by the rest of the sandwich)

Steak sandwich wrap

ignore my scaly gator-hands...

ignore my scaly gator-hands…

This was the recipe that used the leftovers from the notorious steak of the bazillion peppercorns.  So the key to these sandwiches was definitely to pick off the peppercorns.  Once that’s done, everything else is pretty straightforward.  I made these on some of those little “sandwich thin” things, because I sent D to the store with a grocery list that said “flatbread.”  These are, indeed, flat pieces of bread.  D acknowledges that it was a mistake.  But the sandwich thins are good!  And sometimes wraps are a mess.

This is mostly just a straight-ahead steak sandwich with the exception of that yogurt spread.  It’s low-fat Greek yogurt and Parmesan cheese in equal parts.  This spread should be on all sandwiches.  It’s so good.  It’s got the creaminess and tang of mayo (close enough) with the saltiness of cheese.  I’d eat this spread on crackers.  I’d dip carrots in it.  Suffice it to say, I’d recommend it.

 

Unimpressive pastas

Whole-wheat pasta with kale and fontina

Fork desperately seeking bacon

Fork desperately seeking bacon

Tortellini in broth with escarole

Yay...

Yay…

I’ve got to say right off the bat how hilarious and fitting it is that I got a picture of both of these in their leftover containers.  They were so forgettable that I didn’t even remember to take a picture. Well, I had company over for the first one, so I was a little distracted.  But still.  Those pictures sum this up quite nicely.  I didn’t even plan it like that.

Everyday Food has a bad habit of including recipes for pasta dishes that don’t really have a sauce, they just have some ingredients to top the pasta and some directions about using reserved pasta water and the residue from other ingredients to “coat the pasta.”  These recipes are almost always disappointing.  These two were prime examples.

Take the whole-wheat pasta with kale and fontina.  It has bacon and garlic in it.  It’s got kale.  It’s got cheese.  Okee doke, right?  Eh, not really.  The kale, bacon, and cheese kind of clumped together, so those bites where you got those were amazing, but all of the other bites were just a mouthful of wet noodles.  Not great.  I did appreciate that this recipe used chicken broth instead of water.  That definitely gave it more flavor than the “add reserved pasta water” recipes.  And it gets points for bacon.  This one gets a B-.

Before I move on, I should mention that this recipe was made so D could carbo-load for the marathon.  Go D!  Run run go fast!

The tortellini in broth with escarole gets a C.  It too uses chicken broth instead of water and, again, that’s a good thing.  But it is otherwise just a glorified soup.  Broth and bay leaf, escarole (I could only find kale), and cheese tortellini.  It’s not bad.  It’s just average.

Yellow Squash Four Ways

September 2007, pgs. 20 – 30

B here, starting off our first joint post!!

I do love yellow squash, but I am sad to say I have rarely strayed from one recipe which features yellow squash, zucchini, onion, garlic and FETA!!

image

(You may recognized this from my post of Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Herbed Couscous)

The first recipe I tried was the Quick-Marinated Yellow Squash Salad.  It features shallots (yay!!), lemon juice, and thyme.  I never would have thought to eat yellow squash raw (mostly based on texture issues I have), but by very thinly slicing it and mixing it with the acidity of the lemon juice it changed the texture enough to be very pleasing.  It was crisp but not exactly crunchy.  And the squash itself was much more nutty than when cooked.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this one again.

The next squash recipe I went with was Slow-Cooked Yellow Squash, which was very similar to my standard yellow squash sauté.

image

Unfortunately, I was a little heavy handed with the salt in this instance.  It still tasted pretty good, but I drank like a camel after.  Luckily, I can safely say that when properly seasoned this recipe is absolutely delicious (especially if you toss in a little feta at the end)!

Hey, it’s G.  I took care of the creamy fusilli with yellow squash and bacon and the stuffed tex mex yellow squash.  Let me begin by informing you that today’s word is “calabcita.”  Here’s a picture of one:

I have small hands, so this isn't very good for scale

I have small hands, so this isn’t very good for scale

The internets tell me that it is a Mexican squash roughly akin to summer squash and zucchini.  Yellow squash was looking nasty at my store, but they had these instead.  They were sitting right next to the summer squash and looked summer squashy, so I decided to use them.  It was a good choice.  Here it is all hollowed out and ready for stuffing:

doing their best zucchini impression

doing their best zucchini impression

The tex-mex stuffed squash recipe is good, but not at all unique.  I count on the “have you tried?” or “in season” recipes to take the ingredient to new and interesting places.  Anyone who hasn’t had stuffed zucchini a million times, raise their hand.  I don’t see many hands.  This doesn’t break any new ground.  It’s onions, peppers, chopped up squash innards, corn, etc. all stuffed in with a tomato sauce and baked.  Yawn.  I would have liked to see maybe a Greek version with oregano and feta.  That would be something new.  I guess mine is different because of the funny squash.  It’s not different enough for me.

The note in the magazine says that all of the beef and corn and cheese adds “kid appeal.”  I’m lucky enough to a have a kid who is too young to make much of a protest, not that I tried feeding him this.  I think maybe I would, if I broke it up a little.  They say corn kernels are a choking hazard, though…  Goodness knows this kid needs to get used to eating stuff make out of Everyday Food!

at least it's colorful

at least it’s colorful

Before I go on, I’ll tell you something that might make you think of this dish differently.  I guess I have two words for today.  The other is “zuccanoe.”  You pronounce it like the first part of zucchini (the “zucc”) with the word “canoe.”  I was eating the leftovers of this dish in the break room at work when my co-worker came in, looked at my food, and said “Oh!  Zuccanoes!”  It almost sounded like he said “zut alors!”  I asked him what he was so excited about, and he told me that he has an old book that calls stuffed zucchini, zuccanoes.  I’m making up the spelling, by the way.  I thought it was so cute.  I hope it catches on.

Creamy fusilli with yellow squash and bacon

If you’re going to have pasta carbonara, but it makes you feel bad about yourself, I recommend this recipe.  Look, it has a vegetable!  Cream and bacon and cheese justified.  You’re welcome.

This recipe suffers from a problem I find with a lot of recipes, the veggies are too big for the pan.  I cut up my four yellow squash and that was enough to fill the pan:

perhaps they weren't "medium" sized after all

perhaps they weren’t “medium” sized after all

I wound up taking out about a cup and a half of cooked squash.  Otherwise, the recipe is very easy and straight-forward.  I once again failed to read closely and cooked the bacon slices whole, then chopped them after they were cooked.  I know better.  It takes longer that way, and you wind up with unpleasant, little bacon shards in your food.  Also, the recipe says you can substitute parmesan for asiago.  Don’t mind if I do!

There's a veggie in there somewhere...

There’s a veggie in there somewhere…

So if you need to use up some yellow squash (by the way, I can’t see why zucchini or our new friend calabcita wouldn’t be good in this) and/or you need an excuse to eat cream and bacon, this is a good recipe.

G over and out!