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Berries, Berries, Berries

In “the olden days” my school would dismiss mid-April so that the children could help with the crops–hoeing cotton, gathering tomatoes for the market. Not only was school out, but the berries were beginning to ripen. First, we had dewberries. There were bigger, sweeter than the mixed berries and blackberries that followed later in the spring. We picked and ate and took them home and washed them and ate them with milk, made cobblers, and jelly. (The blackberries made the best jam.) Sometimes Dad would come in from the farm with his hat full of berries–always enough for the cobbler. Mother had a special pan for that treat. I still have it–a little enamel off here and there, but it serves the that purpose.

BERRY COBBLER

Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust
l cup sugar + 2 tablespoons for topping
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 -5 cups fresh berries
4 tablespoons butter, chopped into small pieces

Heat oven to 350 F.

Roll out 1/2 the dough and line a 9″ X 9″ X 2″ baking dish with it. Place a square of parchment paper cut to fit onto the dough. Blind bake the crust for about 8 minutes so that the bottom crust will not be soggy.
Turn oven up to 450 F.
Mix the flour and sugar thoroughly. Put berries on the blind baked crust. Add sugar/flour mixture and 3 tablespoons of the pieces of butter. Sprinkle about 4 tablespoons of water over the mixture.

Roll out other 1/2 of dough and place on top of berries folding the overlap under the bottom crust and pinch together so that the juice will remain inside the crust.* Make slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and place remainder of butter on the top.
Bake for 10 minutes at the higher temperature; then, reduce heat to 350 F and bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Cool a little if you possibly wait. Then, enjoy.

*To duplicate the cobbler below, roll out dough for top, cut into strips and weave over the top.
(Rachel can tell you how to do that.)

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Back to an Old Favorite

On Memorial Day I made Cream Puffs. Remember those? Home Ec Class in high school? The lesson about leavening agents–that eggs and air and steam could make desserts rise, i.e. angel food cakes, sponge cakes, cream puffs, eclairs. According to FOOD LOVERS’ COMPANION,  a cream  puff is also called choux pastry (shoo) pastry. Just in case you missed the lesson in Home Ec, during the baking, the eggs make the pastry puff into irregular domes. They are easy and fun. Not everyone in my family likes therm, but that’s just fine. (The more for me idea.)

In case you cannot find the recipe, here is the Old One from JOY OF COOKING, 1952 edition.

CREAM PUFFS
“Please cease  to think of these as something to try out in your more adventurous moments. No need to shine up your rabbit’s food–just have all ingredients at room temperature. But once the cream puffs are filled with, be sure that they are stored in a cool or refrigerated place, as they are subject to bacterial activity which maybe highly toxic and give no evidence of spoilage….”

Sift before measuring: 
     1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Heat:
      1/2 cup milk or water
Add: 
      1/4 cup butter
Bring these ingredients to the boiling point. Add the sifted flour:
      1/8 teaspoon salt
Cook and stir the batter until it leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove it from the heat. Beat in one at a time:
      2 eggs
Be careful to beat l egg until well blended before adding the other. Place spoonfuls of batter in 2 inch rounds on a greased tin*, heaping them well in the center.  Allow 2 inches between the puffs. In France the dough is chilled before being baked. Bake them in a hot oven 400 F for 1/2 hour. Reduce the heat to 350 F. Bake them 5 minutes longer. Test the puffs by removing one from the oven. If it does not fall it is thoroughly done. When the puffs are cool, cut a gash in the side of each puff and fill them with sweetened whipped cream  custard, etc.

The puffs were fun. Now I need to work on making a custard that is not lumpy!!!! However, Karyn’s ice cream was good in them.
*An easier method–line a pan with parchment paper.





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20 Bottles of Wine on the Wall, 20 Bottles of Wine. Take One Down and Pass it Around….

By Pure Luck I won twenty bottles of wine at the Kentucky Derby Party held at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and sponsored by the Lions’ Club Foundation. This was a fund raiser for the Lions’ Park that has been a place for kids to have fun for many years. Those Lions know how to give a party!!!!!

Now the question is, What to do with 20 bottles of wine? Drink some it. Yes. Share some of it. Definitely. Cook with some of it. Of course.

Drinking Some

With some Pinot Grigio or Chianti
Stuffed dates or figs:
12 dates, pitted, or 12 figs
2 to 3 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled
6 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an baking sheet with aluminum foil
Cut a lengthwise slit in the date/fig. Stuff each one with just enough cheese to fill the cavity, but not spill out. Pinch dates/figs closed. Wrap each date/fig in a piece of prosciutto and arrange them, seam side down, on the prepared pan.
Bake for  10 minutes. Remove the oven and, using tongs, carefully turn dates/figs. Return to the oven and bake until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature
(From Wine Bites–Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly with Wine. by Barbara Scott-Goodman.–Available at Gourmet Gallery.)
With some Cabernet Sauvignon:
1 – 11 oz box of Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread Cookies from Wackym’s Kitchen (Available at Gourmet Gallery)
Some softened butter
Some crumbled bleu or Gorganzolla cheese
Mix butter and cheese.
Place a little dab on each cookie.
Enjoy with sips of wine.
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Rachel’s BBQ Sliders and Jo Ann’s Cole Slaw


In case you did not taste these sliders when Rachel made them, duplicate them in your kitchen.
Any questions? Call about recipes, ingredients or equipment at 254-399-.. Ask for Jo Ann.

Smoked Chicken BBQ Sliders
Makes 24 Sliders

2 lbs smoked chicken, shredded (Smoked on the Cameron Indoor Smoker)
1 cup Chef Bradley’s Lean Mean BBQ Sauce

Combine the Chicken and BBQ Sauce in a medium saucepan. Heat to a slow simmer.

24 rolls or slider buns. (We used Rhodes Frozen Rolls and let rise and baked according to directions.)
Olive oil or butter

Preheat a grill or broiler on high heat. Brush each of the buns with olive oil or butter. Grill or broil for about 3 minutes.

2 cups Jo Ann’s Slaw (See recipe below.)
Monterrey Jack Cheese, sliced

To assemble:
Place cheese on bottom bun. Top with 1/4 cup chicken and some slaw. Serve immediately.

Jo Ann’s Cole Slaw
(Borrowed from The Southern Junior League Cookbook  from years ago–with a little variation.)

1 medium red cabbage, shredded fine
1 small  white onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar (for an interesting variation, use apple-cider vinegar)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon salt

Place prepared cabbage, onion and carrot in a large bowl; top with sugar.
In a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, celery seed, and salt. Bring to a boil. Pour hot mixture over cabbage and cool. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days.

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Easter, Grandchildren and Fried Chicken

When Grandson requests fried chicken so that his international friend can experience it, what does Grandmother do? You know. of course. Buys whole chickens, cuts them so that there will be Pulley Bones (Some of you call them Wishbones.), gets out the cast iron skillet and gets cookin’.

Last year Bon Appetit , February Issue, printed “the only fried chicken recipe you will ever need.” It’s true. I’m changing it a little to suit my taste, but the method is essentially the best I’ve ever done. Granted, when I made fried chicken often, I never used a recipe, but, you know, one gets “out of practice.”

If your family on a special occasion wants fried chicken, try this one.

THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER

2 T Kosher salt, divided
2 t plus 1 T freshly ground pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t cayenne (optional to me)
1/2 t paprika (optional to me)
1- 3 to 4 lb frying chicken, not Kosher, backbone and wingtips removed. (10 pieces)
(Tip: look for free-range chickens. The hormone enhanced ones have such large breast pieces that it is hard to get them done without getting them too brown.)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 T cornstarch
3 c all-purpose flour
Deep-fry thermometer
Oil for frying.

Whisk 1 T salt, 2 t black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic and onion powders in a small bowl. Season chicken pieces with the spices, put in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerator. (A ziplock bag works well for this.)

The next day l

et chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 T salt and remaining 1 T black pepper in a 9X13X2 baking dish. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl.

Pour oil into cast iron skillet to a depth of 3/4″. Heat until 350 F. on thermometer.

Set a rack inside a large-rimmed baking sheet for placing the chicken after it has finished frying

Dip chicken pieces into egg mixture. Dredge in flour mixture. Place 5 pieces into skillet. Fry chicken turning with tongs every 1-2 minutes. Maintain a steady temperature of 300-325 degrees F. 10 minutes for wings, and 12 for thighs, legs and breasts. Transfer to rack. Let set for 10 minutes.

During that ten minutes I make the gravy. Be sure to make the gravy in the same cast iron skillet used for frying the chicken. Drain off extra oil leaving enough for making the roux. Use equal parts oil and flour. Stir in  flour and heat allowing the flour to a light brown. Add milk gradually and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Salt and pepper to taste.
.
What to say? This in not something that I cook every week, but once in a while this comfort food just seems to be a must–especially when requested by a Grandson.

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A Palm Sunday Excursion

Palm Sunday at San Jose Church
on the San Antonio Mission Trail

Several months ago some friends asked if I had ever been on the Mission Trail in San Antonio. My answer was, “No, but I would like to do that.” This past weekend was my opportunity to do just that–with these friends as my guides. They are San Antonio “lovers” and have visited many times. So, they “know the ropes.” That means, among other things, they know how to navigate the streets.
Since our “mission” was to visit the missions, we were set to do just that. Our first stop in the city was San Jose Church as shown in the picture. (It does not tilt. That’s my inept picture taking.) At noonish this church has a Mariachi Mass. Although we did not get there for the entire service, we did hear the mariachi band and some of the hymns sung at the Mass. We did get to “Pass the Peace.” After a tour of the grounds and some picture taking, we drove back into town to have our late lunch, early dinner at the El Mercado Restaurant, Mi Tierra. A brief wait for there was a crowd, but well-worth it. Good pork tacos with charro beans and guacamole. The flour tortillas were soft, almost fluffy, and served HOT. All the important things for a good Mexican meal including the margarita. PLUS my host had the guitarist play for us. Muy bueno!!!!!!
Our evening’s entertainment was good conversation, good wine and the Lady Bears’ Game.
On Monday we visited the Alamo and the other four missions. Each mission is different from the other–has its own charm and served its own purpose when established in the area. Each one still has its own congregation to serve. If you have not taken this tour that is not so far away, I recommend it. I hope that you can experience it with someone as knowledgeable as my friends!! Be sure to swing by Lockhart for some barbecue–it’s the BBQ capital. Try Kreuz. My kind of barbecue–no sauce, but they have added a few sides. Not needed!!!
At the Alamo my relative’s name has been taken off the wall for some renovation. However, I did find a family cookbook from Los Barrios Restaurant. This was named one of Esquire’s top restaurants in America.(Didn’t eat there this time, but next time………)
Homemade Flour Tortillas 

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon powder
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup hot water, or as necessary
1. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the shortening and hot water, mixing until a soft dough forms.
2. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape into a ball (these are called testales). On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball to a 6 inch circle.
3. Heat a griddle until hot. Place a tortilla on the griddle and cook until the bottom is slightly browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes; the tortilla will puff up. Turn and cook until lightly browned in spots on the second side. Place in a towel-lined basket and cover with the towel to keep warm while you cook the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.
These will keep, well-wrapped, for 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer.
I’ll let you know tomorrow if this is a good method.  The good homemade ones at Mi Tierra made we want to try it.
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MARCH MADNESS MUNCHING

 If you can’t get to all the Baylor Basketball Games-Go Baylor!!!!–have some good munchings on hand.
Wackym’s Kitchen Gourmet Cookies are winners.

Try the Cornmeal Rosemary Shortbread topped with just a tad of a softened butter-bleu cheese mixture. Just great paired with an Earl Grey Tea.

Double-dip Lemon Butter Cookies  dipped in some lemon, lime or raspberry curd. Lemon Velvet Tea goes nicely.

The unique Salted Caramel pairs nicely with Scotch—-I hear.

The Margarita Cookie with–well, that’s obvious.

And Chocolate Snicker Doodle  with some robust good, freshly brewed Coffee. Easy with the Keurig.

Easy tasting to follow any appetizers you’ve whipped — popcorn, or dips, cheese balls, fruits–whatever you like.

Happy munching.
JAM

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BIDDING A FRIEND GOODBYE

Shirley Ann Craigen West
1940-2013

Drove to Brownwood yesterday to say goodbye to Shirley West. She died on Sunday after a long stay in the hospital following surgery. Shirley had lived in Brownwood for 50 years, moving there with her husband, Kenneth, who was on the “Gordon Wood Coaching Staff.” Listening to Richard Hetzel and Dallas Huston talking about her many talents and virtues, I reminisced about our years in Brownwood where football was king and you knew that in the fall when every Friday Night was spent going to a game, eating the peanuts that Homer and Guy Nell West (no relation) brought from their peanut farm, cheering on the home team, the band, the drill team.  Sometimes I wished that these things were not so important, but they were. Enjoying the excitement,  a winning team and the camaraderie of the community was a way of life there in the 70s. 

Shirley epitomized all of that. Her door was open to all. She feed, housed, loved all of those big, and not so big boys who played for the home team and all of us who made up the BISD family. Although it has been almost 30 years since I moved from there, I still felt something of that spirit, Shirley’s spirit of love and caring, as her life was honored by those who love her dearly.

“Well, done, thou good and faithful servant. And she entered into the joy of her Lord.”

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CONFESSION TIME

After all the search for Irish appetizer and writing about it and making the picture and posting, I did not use recipe. I decided to make “Mini Potato Bites” from the KRAFT FOODS website.

The recipe:

15 small red potatoes
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tbsp sour cream
4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Boil potatoes until done, but not mushy. Cool slightly. Cut in half. Cut a little from the bottom of each half. Mix cheeses and sour cream. Place a dollop on each half. Sprinkle chives and crumbled bacon over each half. Can be served warm or cold.

Now here’s what I did.  Did not find small red potatoes at the store; so, I bought a bag of fingerlings. Sorted and got enough for a double recipe. Cooked in salted water. These potatoes are an assortment; so, each kind cooked differently. The Yukons and the “pink” ones cooked just right. The baking and the dark ones were crumbly, but I used them all. Some of them did not need to have the little bit take off the bottom. They just sat up nicely. Of course, I used all the 8 oz pkg of cream cheese (Neu–the lower fat one), half a cup of low fat sour cream, 1/2 cup fresh parmesan that I grated myself and 1/2  cup grated cheddar from Ireland. Sprinkled some freshly ground black pepper. Followed directions and put the plate in the microwave and heated about 1 minute on high. Stayed warm enough for me to drive the 5 blocks to the party. Tasted good with the Guinness.

Mini Potato Bites=Big Hit!

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ST. PATRICK’S DAY APPETIZERS

I never thought I was Irish, but in the last year or so, I learned that my ancestor with the Scottish name immigrated here from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. I guess that counts as Irish. In fact, my plans for the next big trip will be to Scotland and Ireland, That’s another story.
kl
In the meantime I’ve been invited to a St. Patrick’s Day Party and I need to take an appetizer. I will find our trusty “500 appetizers” cookbook and begin my search.
 Voila! Or Faith, and I’ve Found It!!!

  Prociutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Mayo**

These sophisticated bites make and irresistible  nibble with apertifs or as a more formal appetizer. You can prepare everything ahead, then simply pop them in the oven when your guests arrive.

1/2 cup mayonnaise                                                      8 asparagus tips
Grated zest of 1 lemon                                                 8 wafer-thin slices prosciutto, cut in strips*
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice                                              Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 tbsp. snipped fresh chives                                      Ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest. juice and chives in a serving dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Wrap each asparagus tip in a strip of procuitto, arrange on a baking sheet, and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and roast for 6-7 minutes, until tender.

Transfer the prociutto-wrapped asparagus to a platter and serve with the lemon mayo.

I think I’ll try some ham slices.  Seems a little more “Irish.”

Happy eating on Saint Patrick’s Day.

**Picture and recipe from 500 appetizers by Susannah Blake

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Spring Break Thoughts

What is this Spring Break thing? I am about to find out. Some family and some friends are headed to Wimberley, Texas.  We’ll stay at a place with a full kitchen, and though we plan to critique some of the eateries, we will cook some, too. Now that’s a surprise, isn’t it? (We cook with wine, you know, and ……you know the rest of the quote.

One of our go-to dishes is CHICKEN PICCATA. We discovered the recipe when Karyn lived in southern California where we had “right-off-the-tree” lemons.

This is the recipe from my collection of recipes.

4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. butter or olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. chicken bouillon granules
1 t. paprika
2 T. dry white wine
Parsley, cilantro and lemon slices (optional)
My addition: 2 t. capers
Place each piece of chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flatten to 1/4″ with mallet or rolling pin.
Combine flour and paprika; dredge chicken in flour mixture
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; add olive oil or butter. Heat to medium. Cook chicken about six minutes or until brown (and until done). Remove from skillet and keep warm
Add wine, lemon juice, capers and bouillon  to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Pour over chicken. Garnish with parsley, cilantro and lemon slices..

This is so quick and easy and, so good. For a meal, add the ubiquitous green salad (or one that you’ve dressed up with all kinds of good things) some crusty bread and, oh,. yes, the rest of the white wine.

More about Wimberley in the next blog.
Good eating!
Jo Ann Miller

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DID YOU KNOW?

According to the January, 2013, issue of Bon Appetit, pp.19-20, the margarita is not Mexico’s most beloved cocktail. Did you know that? The Paloma, which features grapefruit juice, is the Mexican drink of choice. Now, I’m no expert on this subject, but I wanted to give it a try. When my friend took twenty grapefruit sectioned to a church retreat, she gave me the left-over juice. “Waste not; want not.” A good reason to “indulge.”

The BA writer gives his favorite rendition of the Paloma with some variations that work OK, but his use of the smokier mescal and real grapefruit juice, provide a different, but pleasant result.

Recipe borrowed from the aforementioned article:

PALOMA

Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim with a grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt.
Combine 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1 tsp. sugar in a glass;stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup mezcal* or tequila, add ice and top off with 1/4 cup club soda.
Garnish with grapefruit wedge. Makes 1.

Substitutions: Grapefruit-flavored soda  (Jarritos is the brand of choice, but Fresca will work.)
Sugar syrup for the granulated sugar.
Tequila for the mezcal.
*A note about mezcal. Very smoky. My first attempt tasted like bacon. Next try, used a jigger (2 T.) and the taste was better to me.

Hope my tee-totaller mother will forgive me for posting this.