This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

The Wonders of Menu Plan Bingo “See your culinary dreams come to life in creatively new way”

02.05.2014 · Posted in Events and Reviews, Menus

hospital-food-bingo-001A lot of people settle on having the same type of meals every week because coming up with a completely different set requires a lot of time not just in the kitchen, but also during the preparation of meals. Based on a study published by Well Commons, adult Americans spend an average of 33 minutes for food preparation. For some, the in-between processes that doesn’t involve feasting on that sumptuous dish can be a bit tedious, that’s why it’s important to squeeze out some of your creative juice inside the kitchen into your pre-planning phase, and add a dash of excitement by incorporating a classic game like bingo into the pot.

Planning a new dish elevates the whole cooking experience to another level. It’s extremely fun and satisfying to learn new recipes and cooking techniques. However, cooking doesn’t always have to be following the step-by-step process of an award-winning cookbook; because sometimes, you’ll get a kick and even surprise yourself after playing Menu Plan Bingo. Basically, the gist of this game is to help you bring out your creativity in the kitchen, and expand your knowledge in the process. Menu Plan Bingo is as simple as the classic game itself, but instead of the traditional letters and numbers, you’ll use different ingredients/meals for Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Dinner, and everyone’s favorite, Dessert. By selecting choices at random, not only will it spice up your preparation time drastically, you’ll also challenge yourself by coming up with new and exciting dishes – just make sure that it creates harmony in the palette as well.

In essence, bingo is not only used to add a generous serving of good, clean fun to the mix, but also for educational purposes; as this classic game is used to teach Food Groups to students. Anyone can integrate bingo when choosing ingredients – or meals, and it will be more fun if you let the whole family join in the kitchen festivity. To add to the vibe of a real bingo game, you can even put food selections on bingo balls and draw them from a ball cage. And by simulating the booming voice of Bingogodz resident caller Brian Blessed, everyone will surely have a blast as you shout out each food item with its corresponding bingo lingo in the same way as the renowned Blessed.

Now to help you start with the whole process of Menu Plan Bingo, here are some suggested items to put under each category:

Breakfast:                                                          Lunch:

Breadfruit                                                          Pork Curry with Taro
Jamaican Patties                                              Barbados Tomato and Corn Soup
Bannock                                                             Aloo Pie
Pancakes                                                            Eggplant Parmigiano

Appetizer/Snack:                                             Dinner:

Spice Island Vegetables                                  Oxtail Stew
Pholourie                                                            Jerk Chicken
Saltfish Frittters                                                Grilled Halibut
Roti                                                                      Baked Salmon Patties

Dessert:

Banana Poe
Fruit Lote
Bread Pudding
Gizzada

These are just examples of Alaskan, Caribbean, and South Pacific cuisines. Remember: sky’s the limit when it comes to cooking and having fun. So hop on the bingo bandwagon and start to see your culinary dreams come to life in a cool and creatively new way.

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Pulled-Pork Tacos for Poker Night

01.30.2014 · Posted in Main Dishes

This is the night mom takes the kids skating or to the movies and dad invites the guys over for a friendly game of Texas hold’em. Dad, you can use the crock pot and start cooking the pork before you head off to work in the morning. Once you’re home from work make the gravy in the blender, warm the tortillas and chill the beer.

This recipe is a take-off on country style ribs with green chili gravy that was popular in Houston around the mid 1990s. The ribs were stewed with onions and garlic and the resulting juice was used in the preparation of the gravy. Toasted corn tortillas were used for thickening the gravy and added that little maza flavoring. Roasted poblanos and cilantro were added to produce the green chili in the gravy.

* Deep dark green poblano chilies are as large as green bell peppers, mildly spicy with a lot of flavor. The best way to cook them is to roast them over a fire or in the oven. Just hit them with a little olive oil which will draw the heat of the oven to them, place them on a baking pan in a 350° F. oven for about 10 minutes, turn them over, and roast the other side for 10 minutes. They should be blistered or charred on the outside. Place the chilies in a plastic bag for 10 minutes to steam, then scrape off the outer skin. Slit open and remove the seeds and stems.

Buy a pork shoulder roast. It will cost about $6.00 for 4 pounds and will be full of flavor and tender enough to pull once it is slow cooked. Fatten them up before you take their money. They won’t mind a bit after you feed them this great dish.

Ingredients:

o 4 pound pork shoulder roast (Boston butt)
o 2 onions, chopped course
o 6 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
o 1 bay leaf
o 1 sprig of thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
o 5 cups stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)
o 2 corn tortillas, toasted lightly on a dry grill or skillet, torn into pieces
o 2 large poblano chilies, *roasted, scraped and seeded as directed above
o 1 bunch cilantro
o 1 tsp cumin
o Salt and pepper to taste
o Chopped lettuce, tomato, and queso fresco (or grated cheddar cheese) for toppings

Method:

1. Place one onion on the bottom of a 6 quart crock pot.
2. Set pork roast on top of onion, cut roast in pieces if necessary.
3. Add remaining onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and stock. Set temperature to low and let cook for 10 hours or longer.
4. Remove meat to a platter and pull pork with 2 forks while poblanos are roasting.
5. Prepare poblano chilies as *directed above.
6. Pour crock pot juices into a blender. Add poblanos, corn tortillas, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper to blender. Cover the blender and puree contents until smooth.
7. Return gravy to crock pot, add back the meat and turn the temperature to warm.
8. To serve, toast a tortilla in a dry skillet, spoon pulled pork and gravy into tortilla, add lettuce, tomato, and queso fresco or grated cheddar cheese. Fold up the bottom and then the sides like a burrito.

Momma’s Batter Dilly Bread

11.29.2013 · Posted in Breads

My mother gave me this recipe back in 1970.  Its one of those no-knead batter breads with super easy instructions for the novice bread-baker.  The crumb is moist and dense like a sourdough and perfect for sandwiches but of-course its the best right out of the oven slathered with butter.  It goes well with tomato or chicken soup and can spruce up a Sunday dinner as well.

You’ll need a Pyrex or CorningWare casserole dish or a small Dutch Oven to bake it in.  Dried minced onion can be used in place of sauteed fresh onions and you can soften the dried onion in the cottage cheese mixture on the stove-top or in the microwave.

I’m not a big fan of sugar in my savory breads so I eliminated the 2 Tbsp of sugar originally given in Mom’s recipe.  Fresh onions sauteed in butter are pretty sweet all by themselves and the dried onions too are sweet when plumped up in the cottage cheese mixture.   So using either the fresh or dried onions adds a subtle sweetness that doesn’t cloak the dill seed flavor.

If you’ve always wanted to bake bread but held back due to the laborious kneading required then you’ve got to try this no-knead batter bread.  Besides kneading bread dough by hand is not necessary these days.  Not unless you want to “solve a problem” like Mom said.  She’d look so pensive when performing mundane chores like ironing and kneading bread.  Well, there are plenty of artisan bread recipes out there that do not require hand-kneading.    I’m basically a lazy cook but love homemade so I’ve found the easy way to make terrific breads in a food processor or standing mixer with dough hook.  Just check out the other recipes listed under the Breads category in the right column of this post.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Red Star Dry Active Yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (baby bottle warm)
  • 1 cup cream style small curd cottage cheese (homemade is the bomb)
  • 1 Tbsp minced dried onion or 2 Tbsp fresh minced onion
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp whole dill seed
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 unbeaten egg
  • 2-1/4 cups flour (plus 1/4 cup more if needed)

Method:

  1. Soften the Red Star Dry Active Yeast in the water.
  2. Combine in a sauce pan the cottage cheese, dried onion, butter, salt and dill seed.  Warm over medium low heat just until butter melts.  Let cool.
  3. Place blossomed yeast, cottage cheese mixture, egg and soda in a bowl (mixer or food processor).   Add 1 cup flour and mix until combined.
  4. Add remaining flour by hand until a very soft dough results.
  5. Place in a buttered casserole or Dutch Oven and let rise (proof) until double in size (30-40 minutes).  Alternately use a loaf pan lined with foil and buttered.
  6. Preheat oven 350° F.   Bake loaf for 35-40 minutes or until top sounds hollow when tapped.
  7. Remove from pan to a cooling rack and brush with melted butter.

 

 

Eggplant Parmigiano with Homemade Ricotta Cheese

10.17.2013 · Posted in Main Dishes

eggplant-parmOne of my favorite vegetables is eggplant…those big beautiful dark purple globes…sliced thin, breaded and fried then slathered with butter.  When I was a kid my Auntie Babe made eggplant just like that and I would stand next to the counter waiting for a crispy disc to land on my plate.  She didn’t salt the eggplant before breading and I can’t remember it tasting bitter.  Consequently I’ve never salted eggplant before preparing it.  Whether in ratatouille, minestrone, baba ganoush or eggplant parmesan my customers at Coco’s never complained of bitterness and always enjoyed these dishes.

This Eggplant dish is similar to lasagna without the pasta or meat but with a generous amount of ricotta cheese, a chiffonade of fresh basil and a simple tomato sauce.   I make myown ricotta cheese…its so easy and inexpensive.  Just bring 2 quarts of whole milk to a boil, add 1/3 cup of white vinegar and stir gently until the curds separate.  Remove curds with a slotted spoon to a fine mesh sieve and let drain for 5 or 10 minutes.  Add 1 tsp of salt and combine with 1 egg to make the filling for this eggplant dish.

Serve with a green salad, crusty bread and a glass of red wine.

Eggplant Parmigiano Ingredients:    4 servings

  • 1 large purple eggplant, washed and sliced into 1/4-3/8 inch thick discs
  • 1 egg beaten with 1/4-cup milk in a pie plate for the egg wash
  • 1/2 cup flour or Italian bread crumbs with 1/2-tsp salt and 1/4-tsp pepper in a pie plate for dredging the eggplant
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (commercial or homemade) beaten with 1 whole egg and 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups shredded fresh mozarella cheese (buy fresh mozarella packaged in water)
  • 4-5 Tbsp.  fresh basil-chiffonade ( thinly sliced)
  • 3 cups basic Italian tomato sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (please don’t use the stuff in a can)

Method:

  1. Dip eggplant slices into egg wash, dredge in seasoned flour or bread crumbs and fry batches of breaded eggplant in oil over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides.  Add additional oil to skillet as needed.  To reduce fat, oven bake eggplant slices on a foil lined baking sheet in 400° F. oven until golden on one side then turn and bake until golden on the other side.
  2. Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on bottom of a deep casserole dish or 9X9 inch baking tin with at least 2 inch sides
  3. Layer fried eggplant over sauce, overlapping slices slightly.
  4. Spread another 1/2 cup of tomato sauce over the eggplant then spoon over 1/2 the ricotta cheese and egg mixture.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozarella cheese over the ricotta and top with 2 Tbsp of basil chiffonade.
  5. Repeat layers ending with eggplant topped with remaining tomato sauce, remaining basil and sprinkle entire top with parmigiano reggiano cheese.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350° F. for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 15 minutes to brown top.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

Basic Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 rib celery, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes (or 5 large beef-steak tomatoes, skinned and diced)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or few dashes of Tabasco sauce)

Method:

  1. Saute onions, carrot and celery until wilted, add garlic and a pinch of salt, cook for 2 minutes more.
  2. Add tomatoes and wine and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add remaining herbs and season to taste with salt and peppers.  Cook until sauce thickens about 5 minutes more.

 

Minute Steak Salad with Pasta Shells and Olive Vinaigrette

08.26.2013 · Posted in Main Dishes, Salads & Dressings

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The minute steak and cube steak are thin slices from the round, chuck or sirloin cuts of beef.   Minutes steak are pounded smooth to 1/4-inch thick so they sear very quickly to medium rare and remain tender and moist. They’re great for sandwiches, roulades and a host of other dishes.  Cube steaks are pounded with traditional hash marks to about 3/8 to 1/2 inch and are ideal for chicken fried steak, Cuban sandwiches, Salisbury steak or a hundred other steak and gravy dishes.  Both steaks come in 2.5 ounce portions which is great if you’re watching your waistline and protein intake.

This steak salad has all the ingredients for a well balanced low-cal lunch or light dinner.  The shell pasta traps some of the vinaigrette and olive juice, the peppery arugula and seared steak pick up the rest of the vinaigrette so there is no pool of dressing sitting on the bottom of the plate.  Green olives and pimiento add saltiness and another texture to the combo.  You can add cucumbers, onion, radishes or other ingredients to your heart’s content.   Change it up, make it your own.

I buy 10 ounces of minute steak for $2.00 and that will make 4 salads or 4 Cuban sandwiches.  Super inexpensive, a good source of protein and delicious.  Best of all this salad can be made in 10 minutes.   Here’s how:

  1. Cook 2 cups of shell pasta in well salted water for 7 minutes.  Drain well.
  2. While the pasta cooks, salt and pepper minutes steaks and heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add a tsp. of olive oil to the skillet.
  3. When oil is hot cook minute steaks for 30 seconds on both sides.  Remove to a plate to rest.
  4. Chop or tear arugula.
  5. Place 1/2 cup of pasta on a plate, top with arugula, 2 Tbsp. green olives and pimiento with brine and 2 Tbsp. vinaigrette dressing of choice.  (I like Italian)  Toss salad so everything is coated with the dressing.
  6. Slice steaks on the bias very thin and place on top of salad.  Drizzle a tsp. of vinaigrette over the meat to finish.