Thursday, November 17, 2011

This just in....

just added to the Thanksgiving lineup:  Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, Crunchy onion herb dip, and pineapple macadamia cheese log.     Also, Popeye's gravy is out simply for price considerations... I'll probably use the bottled stuff since I don't know what I'll have left when the turkey's done braising.   I'm also adding red peppers to the braising veggies.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program....

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's that time again....

baking season!  To start things off and to test a potential Thanksgiving recipe, I've done a twist on my grandmother's biscuit recipe...  This is super easy for even novice cooks!

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk)

Preheat oven to 450. Oil  a 9 inch cake or pie tin
very well.
Sift dry ingredients in bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix well with fork until blended. Knead gently in bowl 10 times. Pinch off large golf ball sized pieces and pat down just a bit.. Make sure top and bottom get some oil from the pan. Place biscuits touching in the pan. Bake for about 14 minutes.  Makes about 10.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm Baaaaack~!

Hey kids... I know..I know..  it's been too long...but hey, cut me some slack...had to get married and shit...  it was a lot of work and a lot of fun and now I have the world's most wonderful husband :)   When I get my pictures back, you will see all about it...especially all the yummy food!  I wanna thank everyone who was there and everyone who helped.. luv you all! 

Today, I want to talk about Thanksgiving, since its that time... of course I'll post pics later, when the meal is ready...  so far, here is my menu:

Braised turkey with onions and garlic
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
My mommy and gramma's traditional stuffing (cornbread and biscuit based)
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Biscuits w/butter and honey
Jellied cranberry sauce (yes, straight from the can, I love it that way, so sue me.)
Lemon wedding cake trifle (had a lot more wedding cake than I bargained for)

So let's start by talking turkey...   I've made many a turkey in my day, in every possible configuration imaginable; I've brined and bagged and basted and buttered and cheeseclothed, and injected and roasted...and while all those methods are fine...none were spectacular... so this year I'm parting it out and braising it to see how that works out... allegedly it produces a juicier, more tender specimen than usual.  I will be seasoning and browning the parts and veggies, throwing them into an oven worthy container with enough liquid (white wine and broth) to come up halfway, then covering and cooking at 300 for a few hours...

Next, Brussels sprouts.. I have it on good authority that the key to sweet, lovely sprouts is fast hot cooking, so while the turkey is resting, I pop them into the oven, doused with bacon fat/olive oil and kosher salt and a little sugar for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

The stuffing is a subject on which I cannot bend..I may add an ingredient occasionally, but this is the stuffing I want for my last meal, my fondest childhood memories are based around this stuffing, and now I pass it onto you.   You know me, I'm not much in the way of measurements, so this will have to do:
1 recipe of cornbread
1 recipe of biscuits (or 1 can, its ok to use the can)
1 can cream of celery soup (I like the flavor but don't like crunchy celery bits)
6 hard boiled eggs, diced.
1 can chopped black olives
green onions
garlic salt
onion powder
curry powder (not too much)
sage (lots)
poultry seasoning (lots) (I like my stuffing almost green)
chicken broth (enough to moisten well)
turkey giblets (mostly gizzards, cooked and chopped well)
I mix all this and put it in my crockpot on low, that way it stays warm and moist all day.

As for mashed potatoes, I've found this great little plastic bag o' taters at my 99cent store, that you just throw into the microwave for 9 minutes and you have perfectly steamed potatoes to use as you please.  Into these I like to throw butter and heavy cream and mayo (yes, mayo, thank you Rebecca Mendoza for that tip so many years ago), and salt and pepper to taste.   I'm probably going to cheat with the gravy and get my fave stuff from Popeye's.. full of bits of meat, I love this stuff!

Y'all can bite me on the cranberry sauce...I've never really cared for whole berry (the bits get stuck in my teeth), and I hate the whole orange/cranberry combo..too much tartness!  I've even made my own and it still didn't suit me.  I grew up with the can, I like the flavor, the convenience, the sliceability (just made that up) and how pretty it looks on the plate.  Plus its easier to put on sandwiches later!

The wedding cake trifle idea came to me as a way to prettily dispatch all that wedding cake I forgot to feed to my guests and have in my freezer.  So cut up cake cubes, lemon curd, lemon pudding, Limoncello, and whipped cream...what could be nicer?

I may or may not make the biscuits myself..       Since my beloved insists on sweet potatoes(or yams, whatever..and I lost my taste for them (they say your tastes change every 7 years)), I'm letting his mother bring them, in all their marshmallowy glory...   not my thing..more for them!

So there we are... more as it happens...   glad to be back....   MWAH!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Big Bruh's Soul Food mini review

I say "mini review" because I don't have pics and we've just gone the one time just now.  But, here we are...

We went in around 1 PM on a Friday, and were immediately greeted very warmly and asked if we'd been there before, and when we said no, she explained the menu choices.  My first choice of oxtails, wasn't done yet, so I went for the wings, with mac n cheese, and corn.  My darling chose the fried pork chop, (7.50) with mac n cheese, and mashed potatoes and gravy. We also ordered a piece of sweet potato pie and an order of peach cobbler.  We were told the fried items were fried to order, so it could take between 15 and 20 minutes, but it was no problem.

The wings were tasty and crispy, but I've had tasty crispy wings in Fresno before.. and only 3 medium sized ones to an order, it seemed a bit pricey at 9.50 for the plate. My beloved's pork chop was fried expertly, with lots of tasty, flaky coating.  I loved the obviously homemade mac n cheese...very cheesy,  but my darling did not for some reason...personal preference I guess.  My corn unexpectedly had been cooked with onions and peppers...which really enhanced the flavor.  My darling's mashed potatoes and gravy were obviously homemade with a slight kick.  The orders came with corn muffins wrapped in foil, tasty, but cold and somewhat hard... since they seem to be kept wrapped in foil in a bowl at the counter.  I'd almost rather they be microwave warmed to order.
As for the desserts, both good, with the sweet potato pie having a very bright flavor, very fresh with an average crust.  The peach cobbler was the clear winner..and we both could eat a lot more of it.

Very very friendly service...solid food.. small place with sparse African oriented decorations, definitely worth a try.
Big Bruh's Soul Food
1627 E Ashlan
Fresno, CA 93726
(559) 222-2188

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Sandwich Chronicles

The last two nights I've made regional sandwiches for dinner... South Florida's Cuban Sandwich (and accompanying tostones (twice fried plantains), and Pittsburgh's Primanti Brothers Sandwich.

A Cuban sandwich is a variation of a ham and cheese originally created in cafes catering to Cuban workers in Cuba and in the early Cuban immigrant communities of  Key West and Tampa, Florida.   Later on, Cuban exiles and expatriates brought it to  Miami where it is also still very popular. The sandwich is made with  ham, roasted  pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, on Cuban Bread, a crisp crusted roll with soft interior.

When assembled, the sandwich is lightly toasted in a sandwich press called a plancha, which is similar to a  panini press but without grooved surfaces. The plancha both heats and compresses the sandwich, which remains in the press until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted.   It is usually cut into diagonal halves before serving.

Primanti Brothers sandwich:
    Back in the 1930's, Joe Primanti opened a cart in the Strip District selling sandwiches to truckers on the go. It was decided that he should expand to a small restaurant on 18th Street. The hours were 3am to 3pm to accommodate truckers and the like. His brothers, Dick and Stanley, joined him along with nephew John DePriter who was the cook.

According to John, "One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of 'em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen.
I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches." And the rest is history. 
The sandwich consists of your choice of meats, provolone, tomatoes, french fries, and a vinegar based coleslaw (recipe to follow) on thick slices of french bread.

  • 1 pound (about half of a medium-size head) green cabbage, shredded or finely chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the cabbage, sugar, salt and celery seed in a colander set over a medium bowl. Let stand at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours; the cabbage will be wilted (about 4 cups total). Discard the draining liquid in the bowl; rinse and dry the bowl, then transfer the wilted cabbage to the bowl. Add the oil and vinegar; toss to coat. Season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I think the overall favorite with the family and myself was the Primanti Brothers..  the tart slaw was a nice counterpoint to the lush meats and cheese, and the salty fries...and the tomato was just the icing on the cake.