22 Jul 2014
in Entrees, Main Course, Meats, Recipes
Tags: andouille, cajun, creole, food, foodie, foodporn, kidney beans, long grain rice, Louisiana, nomnom, recipes, red beans and rice, sausage, tomatoes, vegetables, white rice, yum
All Pretty in the Plate
While I didn’t grow up in Louisiana I simply love Cajun fare especially red beans and rice. I remember watching Creole Chef Justin Wilson as a teen—‘memba him?? He was a wonderful cooking inspiration and I looked forward to each of his programs with great anticipation. Justin’s Deep- South Cajun style and mannerisms made him one amusing cooking entertainer.
Recently, I had the opportunity to serve this dish to a good Cajun friend of mine. I asked for his honest opinion and critique and his exact words to me were, “Oooo wee dis give me frissons (goose bumps) they’re just like I remember!” I passed the test with flying colors—coulda been beans instead ;-)
This simple Cajun dish is easy to prepare, slightly spicy, very filling and brimming with Creole flavors. Made with Cajun seasonings and andouille sausage. This is a great Sunday dinner served with buttered, long grain rice and crusty bread.”
2 15 ounce cans red kidney beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper; red, green, yellow or orange or a combination, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried SAGE
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
1 lb ground sweet Italian sausage
In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse beans, Stir cooked vegetables into beans and add tomatoes. Season with bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, parsley, and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir sausage into beans, and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Serve beans over steamed white rice.
20 Jul 2014
This stunning display of “art meets food” was created as a commercial for Schwartz Flavour Shots, a pre-packaged soup and meal company out of the United Kingdom, who boasts “Flavour Shots—the little pots with big flavour.” This slow-motion video dubbed “The Sound of Taste” is a stunning arrangement of cinematography and pyrotechnics that creates what filmmaker Chris Cairns calls “an audiovisual feast.” To this day, when I see spices overflowing in canvas bags, this video always makes its way into the forefront of my mind. Breathtakingly tasty!
To create this ‘feast,’ Cairns was joined by musician MJ Cole and pyrotechnician Paul Mann. Together, the launching of this brainchild was deciding how to best put together a half-visual, half-auditory symphony that would entirely capture what it is like to truly experience “taste.”
What they settled on was a commercial that would show billows of spices exploding into the air in slow-motion, flawlessly synchronized to the music Cole had written.
“What does flavour look like? How does it sound? These are the questions that inspired herb and spice experts, Schwartz, to create what they describe as a ‘Sonic Flavourscape’.
Several tons of black peppercorns, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, cumin seeds, ginger, chilli and coriander were rigged to explode in perfect sync with a bespoke musical composition. Each explosion represents an individual piano note or chord, which when filmed at high-speed, creates a surreal three-dimensional sound scape.
It’s been said “if ever a video deserved the title ‘mesmerizing,’ Adam Magyar’s Stainless videos are it.”
At the end of the BTS video, musician MJ Cole is heard saying, “I hope people just find it a satisfying, vibrant, colorful, exciting thing to watch.” If we’re anything to judge by, Mr. Cole’s wish came true with (pun forthcoming) flying colors.
19 Jul 2014
in Beef, Entrees, Lunch, Main Course, Meats, Recipes, Sandwiches
Tags: barbecue, basil, BBQ, beef, burger, burgers, cheese, Ciabatta, entrees, food, foodie, foodporn, grill, grilled, ground, hamburger, Italia, Italian, Italy, lunch, main dishes, mozzarella, nomnom, onions, portabella, provolone, recipes, Roma tomatoes, salami, sandwich, sandwiches, secret sauce, turkey, yum
Every time I develop something Sicilian inspired “The Godfather” theme rings incessantly in my mind and memories of my Sicilian father weigh heavily into the equation as well :-) Grazia, Daddy!
Obviously, this burger is an indulgence rather than every day fare, but as they say “variety is the spice of life.” And today I would like to offer just that. It combines all of the flavors of Old World Sicily: fresh mozzarella, smoky provolone, sweet Roma tomatoes, crisp, peppery basil and slightly spicy and salty Genoa salami lead the pack, but the simple secret sauce really packs the punch. The combinations of tastes in this decadent, juicy and flavorful burger are explosive! This is my idea of getting grilled by a Sicilian! :-) Bah da Bing!
On a side note: We achieved 1000 likes on our Facebook page!! I’d like to thank my amazing team at “Once Upon a Spice” for helping get us there and I wish a 1000 dreams come true to all of our friends and followers—after all, “you” are the reason for my season. God Bless each and every one of you!!
2 lbs lean ground beef or turkey
1/4 cup finely minced onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 hamburger or ciabatta buns, split: toast if desired
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 large onion & 8 ounces of sliced baby portabellas sautéed in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until slightly golden
6 slices fresh mozzarella
6 slices provolone
12 slices Genoa salami
2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
Sicilian Style Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo, 1/3 cup pasta sauce, 1/4 teaspoon tsp Italian herbs and 1/4 cup of grated or shredded Parmesan. Mix until combined and refrigerate until ready to assemble burger.
In a medium sized bowl, combine ground meat, minced onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well, and form into 6 patties.
Grill patties on BBQ; 7 minutes on each side or until spongy in the middle.
Place slices of cheese on top of each patty, cover grill and grill until cheese melts.
Spread mayo equally on bottom of each bun, place 2 slices of salami on each. Top equally with sliced tomatoes, basil leaves and burger. Top with sautéed veggies. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and top of bun. Serve while hot! This is one tasty Sicilian!
18 Jul 2014
in Beef, Chicken, Fish & Seafood, Fun Facts, Meats, Tips & Tricks
Tags: brine, brining, chicken, food, foodie, fun facts, marinade, marinades, marinating, meat, meats, poultry, recipes, Seafood
Thanksgiving in July…The Divine Brine “Roasted Turkey with Potatoes & Herbs”
No worries, today is not a Science lesson, but I want you to understand the full benefits and differences between brining and marinades. So, why brine? Today we have a visual crash course. I’m allowing the charts to tell the story because they are thorough and all inclusive. So make room on your frig for some new cooking art!
Comprehensive Chart…What Kind & How Long
When Brine Borders Marinade
Yesterday’s blog offers one simple brining recipe. However, in the future, I will be sure to suggest many brine and marinade recipes to enhance each of your cooking experiences. People will ask for your recipes time and time again after you serve them your “brined.” Marinades and brines offer an impact and tremendous flavor experiences so let’s get prepared!
17 Jul 2014
in Bacon, Chicken, Entrees, Main Course, Recipes
Tags: bacon, best, brine, brining, chicken, Copy, copycat, Country, down home, easy, food, foodie, Fried, fried chicken, gravy, KFC, main dishes, Maryland, pan gravy, poultry, quick, recipes, Southern, the best, yum
Down home country fare at it’s finest! This crispy, moist, tender, scrumptious chicken is unbelievably juicy and bursting with country flavors! I’ve tried many fried chicken recipes during my cooking tour, but always gravitate back to this one for “fried with a crust.” There are 2 ingredients in this recipe that make the flavors “pop!” I’ll let you guess which 2 they are ;-)
MFC (Maryland Fried Chicken) is perfect for Sunday dinners or when you’re entertaining guests. Serve with whipped buttered potatoes, green beans or fresh ears of corn with butter. Fresh dinner rolls are an excellent addition as well—ever try 7-Up rolls? You may need to google them for now, but the recipe is forthcoming. Enjoy Y’all!
4-8 oz boneless or bone in chicken breasts
¼ cup, kosher salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 (or more) cups water
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 to 1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 tsp granulated chicken powder (base)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsp poultry seasoning
6-8 oz bacon, sliced thin, fried and crumbled
Canola oil for frying
*Brining: this step is optional, but recommended. Brining adds flavor, tenderness and makes the chicken very moist. If you choose not to brine, move onto the next step.
In large plastic container, dissolve ¼ cup salt and 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar in 4 cups of water. Remove skin from chicken pieces (optional) and place in container. Add more water if necessary to cover chicken. Place lid on container and place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Remove from brine and drain. Continue on to next step or place in the refrigerator for 2-8 hours to “cold dry” the pieces (optional).
Pour milk into medium-sized bowl. Add egg and beat with fork until combined; set aside. In a medium shallow bowl add flour, seasonings, baking powder, baking soda and chicken powder, mix well with fork. Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, dip in milk and egg mixture and again, roll in flour mixture. If you have the time let coated pieces sit 15-30 minutes before frying, dust with additional flour if pieces become too moist. This step makes the crust extra crispy.
In a large deep cast iron skillet fry bacon until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon; drain on paper towel—set aside. Add oil to bacon drippings until about 1″ deep. Heat oil to about 375 degrees and add chicken pieces—don not crowd pieces. Cook chicken on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes per side or until juices run clear.
Transfer chicken to serving platter and top with gravy and crumbled bacon if desired.
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup whole milk or half and half
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh tarragon, chopped (optional, but recommended)
Make a roux by melting butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and continue to stir until roux is golden. Slowly stir in broth then milk, chopped parsley and tarragon, if using. Continue to whisk to keep gravy smooth. Simmer on low heat until gravy thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over fried chicken and top with additional chopped herbs and fresh cracked pepper if desired. If you really want to get bold, you can also top with crumbled bacon…AMAZING!!
16 Jul 2014
in Entrees, Fish & Seafood, Main Course, Recipes
Tags: aglio olio, best, clams, food, foodie, fun facts, garlic, Italia, Italian, Italy, main dishes, marinated, mussels, pasta, recipes, Seafood, spaghetti, tomatoes, Wine, yum
Are you a fan of the sea? Food that is! Today’s gorgeous offering, by talented self-taught Chef and honorary Sicilian Bret Clark, is a stunning display of culinary, ocean treasures that Poseidon would enthusiastically approve. This buttery sea presentation is paired with simple, yet extremely flavorful, garlicky Pasta Aglio Olio and the appropriately named “Killer Marinated Tomatoes.” Remember the crusty bread so you can sop up every delicious savory bite! Simple, luscious and beautiful! Molto Grazia for another winning combination, Bret!! Buon Appetito!!
Steamed Mussels & Clams with Pasta Aglio Olio and Marinated Killer Tomatoes!
Fresh Clams & Mussels
2-3 Dozen Fresh Clams (depending on size)
2 Dozen Fresh Mussels
1 Stick Unsalted Butter
4-5 Sliced Garlic Cloves
½ Cup White Wine
2-3 Lemons – Quartered
Pasta Aglio & Olio
1 Package Spaghetti
½ Stick Butter
¼-1/2 Cup Good Olive Oil
2-4 Minced Garlic Cloves
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1/3 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
Directions for Clams & Mussels:
Heat a pot large enough to cook the clams and mussels melt butter and heat until bubbly. Add garlic and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add white wine and bring to a boil. When boiling add the clams and mussels. Squeeze the quartered lemons over the clams and but the rinds in the pot to cook along with the shellfish. Heat/steam until all of the clams and mussels have opened; remove shellfish from pot to a large serving bowl.
Meanwhile cook pasta al dente. When it’s cooked, drain. Pour olive oil into the pot and heat until hot. Add garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add butter and melt. Add pasta back to the pot and stir to mix all together. Once pasta is coated with the oil/garlic/butter and heated through turn off the heat and add parsley and parmesan tossing to thoroughly mix ingredients.
Serve pasta in a bowl/plate along with the desired amount of shellfish. Spoon liquid from the shellfish over pasta. Garnish with additional parsley and/or parmesan cheese if desired.
“Killer” Marinated Tomatoes
3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, Chopped
1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
1-½ teaspoon Garlic Salt
1-½ teaspoon Seasoned Salt
¾ teaspoons Dried Thyme
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
¾ cups Extra virgin olive oil
½ cups Red Wine Vinegar
3 whole Scallions, Sliced
6 whole Tomatoes Cut Into Wedges
Whisk together all the ingredients except the tomato wedges. Add tomatoes and toss to coat. Allow to marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours, stirring every now and then. Serve with lots of bread to soak up all the yummy marinade. Enjoy!
15 Jul 2014
in Cakes, Dessert, Desserts, Fruit
Tags: baked, breakfast, dessert, desserts, dolce, donut, donuts, doughnut, doughnuts, food, foodie, fruit, low fat, low sugar, natural, snack, snacks, strawberries, strawberry, treat, treats, yum
Even though strawberries are plentiful much of the year, the sweet season for our beloved succulent berry is coming to a close. I wanted to offer these luscious sweet treats while berries are still sweet on their vines. While there is far less fat and reduced sugar in this recipe, please don’t let that scare you away—these ruby gems pack a flavor punch! Since there is no frying, there isn’t much prep work and far less heat in the kitchen. All of the intense flavors are provided by Mother Nature’s berries themselves—filled with natural fresh goodness and sweetness!
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup finely chopped strawberries
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup finely chopped strawberries
1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries, finely crushed to powder (place in a Ziploc bag, crush with rolling pin or zip in food processor)
Preheat oven 375* Spray pans with Baker’s Joy or good quality baking spray with flour. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and all remaining dry ingredients; set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs; mix in flour mixture just until combined, fold in 2/3 cup finely chopped strawberries.
Spoon 2 1/2 Tbsp batter evenly into each well of the donut pans—I use a small cookie scoop for evenness. Bake in preheated oven 12 – 14 minutes until springy to the touch or toothpick inserted into donut comes out clean. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes in pan then invert onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, dip top halves into glaze and allow some excess to run off, then return to wire rack, glazed side upward. Transfer donuts to freezer to allow glaze to set, about 5 minutes.
Prepare glaze just before dipping cooled donuts. In a mixing bowl, combine the other 2/3 cup of finely chopped strawberries and half of powdered sugar. Stir until mixture starts to become moist, allow to rest 1 minute. Add in remaining powdered sugar and freeze dried strawberry powder, stir until well combined. By now, mixture should have the consistency of a dip able thick glaze, if not allow to rest another minute or two until some of the liquid has been extracted from the strawberries then stir again. Do not thin with water, simply allow to rest if needed until strawberries begin to break down. Use glaze immediately, dip tops 2-3 times to get thicker top coating of glaze. Let sit on wire racks until glaze has slightly hardened. Want more sweetness? After glaze has slightly set, swirl in extra powder sugar, add some sprinkles and top off with whipped cream. Transfer to airtight container, they will keep for 2-3 days if stored in frig.
Makes a Baker’s dozen.
14 Jul 2014
in Appetizers & Beverages, Tips & Tricks
Tags: basil, beverages, broth, cocktail, cocktails, DIY, do it yourself, drinks, fresh herbs, garden, herb, herb garden, iced tea, Ideas, mint, nasturtium, nasturtiums, olive oil, oregano, rosemary, sage, sauce, soup, stew, tarragon, Tea, thyme, tips, Wine
Is your basil bushy? And your oregano out of hand? Yes, we all have wonderful intentions for our herb gardens and get overly zealous and buy every potted herb in sight at the nursery during the onset of summer, but now what? Preserve your herbs! It’s simple quick and tastefully easy! Dig out your ice cube trays and get to freezing! You will have the taste of summertime herbs in the dead of winter and any season. Not to mention, you’ll feel great that you didn’t waste one little flavorsome leaf.
Amazing herbs frozen in thyme :-)
The list and combinations are endless. You can chop each herb separately or combine them—your choice. Want Italian? Chop basil, oregano & rosemary. Want Greek? Add some mint to your Italian chop. See where I’m going with this? Chopped garlic and toasted nuts work great in your combos as well. The lists are left only to your imaginations and creativity.
Fill ice cube trays about 2/3’s full, top off with olive oil, broth, wine or water–pop in the freezer…
Once frozen, pop out and place your icy herbs in another container or Ziploc bag.—be sure to name the herb on the container—not everyone likes oregano in their iced tea :-)
They just look pretty don’t they? Incredible for winter soups, stews, sauces and any dish that calls for fresh herbs
Whenever you’re cooking and want some “fresh” (not really fresh but much MUCH better than store-bought dried!) just grab a frozen cube or two and you’ll revisit summer in no time! Super fast and easy!
Nasturtiums or Edible Flowers for “pretty” iced teas, cold drinks and cocktails
So instead of scratching your head near your bumper-cropped herb garden, get creative! Do a little work now and you’ll be set for any season! Enjoy!
13 Jul 2014
in Breakfasts, Dessert, Desserts, Fun Facts
Tags: breakfast, dolce, donut, Donut shop, donuts, doughnut, doughnut girl, doughnut lassie, doughnuts, Dunkin donuts, food, foodie, fun facts, Krispy Creme, Military, Salvation Army, yum
Dunkin here and Krispy there, “donuts” have twisted and turned their way into the hearts of many only to find themselves prime examples of “everyday” indulgences– thanks to a melting pot of influential artistic inhabitants, historical coincidences and of course, sweet tooths. Not to mention, copious pots of bubbling oil. Did you know the Nation has a day set aside for them? Yes! America celebrates “National Donut Day” at the beginning of June! Sorry I missed the deadline for recipe submissions, but today I am offering a few tidbits of their past for your perusal with the promise of future recipes dancing in my head :-)
Fun Fact: The first National Donut Day was established in Chicago in 1938 to raise money for people in need during the Great Depression. The holiday has since been celebrated on the first Friday in June as a way to commemorate the service of The Salvation Army’s Doughnut Lassies and honor the memory of our soldiers
Dutch settlers introduced doughnuts to the U.S. when they landed in Manhattan, then known as New Amsterdam. They called these doughnut predecessors “olykoeks,” or oily cakes, which were fried in pork fat. Formed by dropping dough off the end of a spoon, their name evolved to “oliebollen,” or oily balls, thanks to their irregular round shape.
Olykoeks began slowly evolving, and Americans started calling these confectionery indulgences “doughnuts.” At the start of the 19th century, doughnuts, as we know them today, with holes in the center, were being consumed across the nation as an inherently American treat.
A 16 year old American sailor named Hanson Gregory claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 while aboard a lime-trading ship. Gregory said he disliked that the center of doughnuts often didn’t cook as much as the rest. So he punched a hole in the center of the dough before frying so they could be evenly cooked; Later teaching the technique to his mother. After reading many stories about the void in the center of a doughnut, I’d like to believe this, because it’s a lot more gratifying to know the answer than to say “no one knows who decided to put a hole in a doughnut first, but they were a genius.” Was this a mere fabrication on Gregory’s part? Who really knows!?! It’s still genius!
Onward into Military making history. Nearing the end of World War I in 1917, The Salvation Army established an operation to provide needs of U.S. soldiers fighting in France. Approximately 250 Salvation Army volunteers traveled overseas to set up service “huts” located in abandoned buildings near the front lines where they could serve baked goods and other supplies to soldiers in battle.
When providing freshly baked goods proved to be a difficult feat considering the hut’s conditions, two entrepreneurs cleverly thought to fry donuts in soldiers’ helmets, despite their limited ingredients and facilities. The volunteers were capable of frying seven donuts per batch. Want to try their sweet recipe for yourself?
Here’s the Original Salvation Army Doughnut recipe…
These sweet treats, along with the warm hearts and shimmering smiles of the “Doughnut Lassies and Donut Girls” who served them, brought a bit of comfort to American soldiers who were serving their country and likely missing the care of their special ladies back home.
Salvation Army Doughnut Girl
Nicknamed “Doughnut Lassies” and “Doughnut Girls”, these women made history by introducing this otherwise unknown confection to the United States when the “Doughboys” returned from war.
In 1950, Bill Rosenberg opened the first Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Quincy, Massachusetts
Yes, donuts possess somewhat of an unclear and diverse past, but our much-loved deep-fried circles of dough have come a long way since they originally arrived in America. With a sprinkling of sugar and a dusting of cinnamon, they continue to interweave and transform their way into our hearts and have glazed their way into one of the most iconic pastries in America.