Apple Market Ham Salad

Okay, this is another thing that I have found that someone, Apple Market, does so much better than any version I have ever made. Yes, it is ham salad.

Let’s just get all the disclaimers out of the way. I will eat deli ham on occasion – see chicken, cheddar, apricot sandwich in which ham plays a key role. But a big ol’ Easter ham is not for me. The cut is too thick and I just do not care for it which is slightly interesting since I really like the vast majority of the rest of the pig (pork) parts a lot, no really, A Lot.

The MotH says this ham salad is too sweet and I am guessing that is the sweet relish, but I really really like it.

Apple Market is an interesting place. It is a local (yeah) small grocery store that has a great deli, excellent beer selection, a real butcher shop, sushi, really fresh dairy, and I think they employ most of the teen-aged kids from the area of East Pensacola Heights. They were one of the first grocery places to open after Ivan and after that you could tell that they had increased the generator back ups for the whole store.

Apple Market is a real treat. I do not get there as often as I would like, but since I have had the ham salad recently, I am motivated. May not look like much, but you should envy me. Yes, you should. D&D_1849

Okay? Does it look like cat food? Or is that just me? Sigh. I just stay up too late. I really should not say that, but the idea just struck me. No matter – it tastes amazing. And I am going back this weekend for more. Yep. Also to see if they have some really old chickens that will make a great chicken and rice.

Sometimes others do things better than I do. German potato salad –

I have finally given in for real to the fact that sometimes other people do things much better than I do.

Case in point,I have been trying to make German potato salad as good as the Creamery for years. It seems to be an effort in futility. I would love to find someone in the family to give me the recipe, but that, I doubt, will happen.

So my lack-luster versions or even decent versions, have been just that, to me – lack luster compared to the Creamery. I thought about it so much before our Easter picnic luncheon and realized that be beloved father-in-law loved a canned German potato salad. And, honestly, it was the first German potato salad I had ever had too. So, damn it, I just did that.

Read German potato salad is what I went for – I mean, why not? My in-laws like it, I like it the MotH likes it. The Boy likes it. Why make things more difficult?D&D_1846

That is not to say that I did not “decorate” it. I added minced chives and some amazing local (Fairhope, AL) Bill-E’s bacon. Because, um, again why not gild that lily?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

The Boy asked for these and I always try to make things that make him happy. So I made these for Easter. It is a peanut butter cookie that I had never tried, but instead of peanut butter chips, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because that is what the Boy requested.

It is an odd thing. I love peanut butter – peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter in my oatmeal – with raisins if possible – but I am not a huge peanut butter cookie fan. I think it is because so many of them have a dry, sandy texture. I also do not like peanut butter mixed with chocolate. As I have said over and over, I am not a chocolate person and there are only a couple of things I like mixed with my chocolate – caramel, toffee, or nuts – or some combination of the three. No peanut butter, no coconut, certainly not orange, oh dear lord, please no mint, blech. I know, I am seriously fussy – about just about everything.

Anyway, back to peanut butter – this is a recipe I’ve had for years and have never tried so this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. This is … wait for it … a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe that I have modified, but I will qualify that by saying it is a recipe from her maternal grandmother that her grandfather loved. Family recipes are the vast majority of the time a very good thing. So I tried this – it’s easy to put together with things that I had on hand which to me is a huge bonus. If you compare it to the original, I did make a few changes (I only use light brown sugar for instance) and swapped out the peanut butter chips for semi-sweet chocolate chips, per the Boy’s request.D&D_1841

I have learned over the years that if you taste the raw dough you will get a good sense of what the cookie will taste like and I thought this worked out well. I also made a test cookie with no chocolate chips just to try it as a straight up peanut butter cookie. It worked well. That said, it is a soft cookie, so it is best to let it cool completely before moving it about too much.

Hood approved of, and ate half of, the plain peanut butter cookie – think there might be some dog treats with this in the future.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter **
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sanding sugar for the top (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together dry ingredients over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture a little at a time. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (disher), place cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if your going for that thing (nice crunch). Bake about 10 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let rest on baking pan for at least 4 minutes then move to cooking rack to cool completely

* I always use unbleached, just a habit.

** I am a Jif PB person.

Source:  Modified from Epicurious

St. Patrick’s Day – Preview Day, sort of

Unfortunately, I will be out of town for St. Patrick’s Day this year as I have been in several other years and it makes me sad. St. Patrick’s Day was our first date – ish. I do not think the MotH planned it as a date, but I think it was inevitable and now it is probably the second most important date for us – the wedding date being the most important. Or maybe the other way around. Interesting, that both days were really just amazingly relaxed. Guess that is just us. I think that may be what happens when two adults realize they have found the right person for them.  Okay – I shall stop now because that sounds too sappy. I do seem to do that on occasion.

So back to St. Patrick’s Day, since I will not be around in my kitchen, I will replay some of my favorites for you to enjoy. I guess I need to figure out when St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th) is as he is the patron saint of Scotland and I am Scottish on both sides of my family. You do not look like me or like the Boy without some Scottish in you. When I think back, my father really had the look about him, but I just did not recognize as I do now in hindsight. I guess I have to figure out Scottish food, but I’m not entirely sure that will be a good thing. ?

Reuben Casserole – as I have said, not pretty, so not pretty, but pretty amazing.

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Guinness Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s like looking at a really good pour of Guinness. That is something that has to be done correctly and it takes time – just wait, it will be worth the reward.

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Guinness Brownies – I do not like brownies at all. But the first time I made these, well, hell, in small doses they were amazing. And I think the Boy liked the idea that there was stout in his brownies made him happy. Can not say that I blamed him for that.

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Salted White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

The Boy loves white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and I get that to a certain degree. This recipe intrigued me because of the flaky salt on top and, for me, that is always Maldon. This year is Maldon’s 135-year anniversary. To me that is just slightly, no, mostly,  amazing. But even better –  they have been harvesting salt in that area of England* since the Romans occupied the country. You just cannot beat that kind of history.dd_1781

When The Boy and I lived in England it was so strange to me to live somewhere where everything was pretty much older than everything in the United States. We lived in Coventry – in the Midlands, a lovely, if slightly industrial town, but there were some buildings in the City Centre that were medieval timber-framed houses and were beautiful and so close to the original St. Michael’s. The original St. Michael’s was destroyed during the Blitz of World War II, so they just left it that way. That was impressive and chilling at the same time. I would go shopping in the city centre and then just go hang out at the bombed out St. Michaels. I went into the new cathedral, but the part I liked best about the “new” version was the sculpture of Michael on the outside. It is pretty much just bad ass. But we all know Michael was the angel version of a total badass.dd_st-michael-devil-sculpture

How did this go from salt to Coventry and then to St. Michael? It got away from me. Just like the Doctor.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roughly-chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt – Maldon, my go to for flaky

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Add in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chopped macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips by hand until combined.

Use a large cookie scoop or dishers as they are called, I used a #30 size. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a bit of the flaky sea salt. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 10-20 minutes, or until the dough is chilled completely through. This is pretty important. Also just add a few white chocolate chips on the top just to make it look nice.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are just set.  Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Gimmesomeoven  – Amazingly creative name, yeah, really amazing.

* Maldon is a town on the Blackwater estuary in Essex, England. It is the seat of the Maldon District and starting point of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. It is most renowned for Maldon Sea Salt which is produced in the area.

 

Sausage & Eggs

When I was young I had all kinds of allergies. Lord knows that is the truth. I had to go through food allergy testing to see what I was allergic to after my fish incident that sent me into anaphylactic shock at 5 years-old after dinner one night – lips turn blue and throat closed up. So I had to be tested to see what other things I was allergic to. 

Mostly just trees, grass, mold, dust mites, dogs, cats, air in general, but eggs seemed to be a problem too. So my mother never really feed me eggs. Nor did I get the MMR shots as a kid, nor did I get flu shots – No vaccine built in an egg. I did finally get the MMR to go to university, had to – they do not let you in otherwise, but by then I was about 25 then.

But no matter what, the only time growing up that I had eggs was this non-recipe recipe. And I guess that is why this is the only time I eat them now.

It is one of my favorite things, um, ever. 

Basically, you cook a pound of sausage in a skillet and then scramble up a few (4 or 5) eggs and then cook them in the grease left by the sausage. This, to me, is pretty much heaven on earth. My mom made this for us for dinner – not breakfast. I don’t think she used hot sausage, but I always use hot sausage for any recipe that calls for breakfast sausage. In my head there is no other kind. Don’t get me started on sage sausage (blech) or lord help us, maple sausage (I love maple syrup w/sausage, but maple flavor in sausage – that is just too strange to be believed).dd_2016-12-25-14-13-50

I am pretty sure I just told you how to make this. It is quick, easy, and amazingly good. My mom had good handle – a very good handle –  on what was good. And this is good in spades.

It is a favorite Christmas breakfast (not dinner) for us – or maybe just me. Well – sometimes you just want what you want and everyone else has to go along with plan. I am pretty sure no one complained.

2015 – Parmesan Shortbread – Nigella
2015 – Fusilli with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan Cream

Vanilla Taffy

I have never posted this recipe. It is a family recipe that is so special to me. It may mean nothing to anyone else – probably will not. But this is one of those handed-down recipes for something not many people make at all … and there is a story to it.

My mom made this every winter, not every Christmas because this recipe depends on the weather. There has to be low humidity and in the South that usually will only happen sometime between late December and late February. So this did grace the Christmas Eve party on occasion -yes, but there was no guarantee. It is North Florida after all. We oftentimes wore shorts on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This was a recipe from my mom’s mom, Daisy, and my mom would describe how Daisy made it in the winter* and then to get the taffy hard they would toss it in the snow. We never were able to do anything like that, but it is kind of cool to understand where a recipe really comes from.

To be honest, I have never seen a recipe like this. Most people, when they think of taffy, think of salt water taffy which is soft,  but this is not. We (me and the Boy) have taken to calling it crack because when you pull it right and put enough air in it, it gets opaque and, well, looks like crack – at least the kind I have seen on Cops  (read: have no practical experience in the real stuff, but from TV, I can totally see it).DD_9068

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

Necessary – candy thermometer – not kidding. Necessary.

Place sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Then cook without stirring until candy thermometer reaches 266 degrees.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter and stir until dissolved. Pour onto sil-pat lined baking sheet. When still hot, but cool-ish enough to pull, pull small bits in cords until opaque – you will burn at least your thumbs, but probably a couple of other fingers in the process. Twist into ribbons and lay on wax paper-lined baking sheet. When hard, break into pieces (just drop on baking sheet and see what happens) and wrap in cut waxed paper, or if you want to be fancy, wrap in pieces of parchment. We used waxed paper growing up, but I have taken a liking to parchment in the last few years.  

*They also butchered a pig each winter. Something I completely understand, but an not likely to be involved in.

2016 – Tomato Soup with Spinach and Mozzarella