Apricot, Ham, Cheddar, and Chicken Sandwich

I cannot remember when I started making this open-faced sandwich but it was an immediate favorite in this house. It seems odd at first, but it really works when you think about all the flavors mixed together. A little tart from the vinegar, some mustard, apricot jam for sweetness, then ham (pork is never bad in any form) and a sharp cheddar. It is a very special combination. And heats up well as a left over in the oven – or in my case in the toaster oven at the office – work lunch hack – woo hoo. If I can get it – usually the MotH and the Boy do not let me get much in the way of leftovers. But I guess that just means they like it  – a lot. And so do I.

D&D_21211/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 French bread, split horizontally, then cut in a half
1/4 cup apricot preserves – way more than that.
1/3 pound thinly sliced tavern ham, yes, specify tavern ham – I’ve tried others and this is the best.
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, deli sliced

Between two pieces of plastic wrap or inside a gallon plastic zip-top bag, pound the chicken slightly until it is more even. It does not need to be super thin, just a little more even. Makes for easier (quicker) marinade and more even cooking. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a resealable plastic bag, add vinegar, mustard, and chicken. I don’t even measure at this point any more. Once you do this enough, and once you taste it you will, you will get the hang of it.  You can also add a mashed garlic clove, but I have given up on that little bit trouble – not necessary in the taste department, to us anyway. Let marinade several hours or over night in the refrigerator. Over night is best, but not much longer than that.

Heat broiler on low and line a baking sheet with foil. Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and place on the baking sheet, broil,  turning at least once until opaque throughout. Check by cutting into chicken to see if it cooked through. Transfer chicken to work surface and discard foil. Reline the baking sheet with new foil.

Place baguette on baking sheet, cut side up (duh). Spread each piece with apricot preserves, layer with chicken, ham and cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

Source: Martha Stewart with my modifications.

Chorizo, Leek, Cheddar Muffins

I made some totally anemic muffins last week with zucchini and they were just so meh. I know it is zucchini season, but this was just sad. So I had to figure out some other savory muffin to make me forget that one.

So I was looking at a couple of savory muffin recipes and I just tried to cobble this together based on the best parts of things that I saw and I think this is going to be pretty amazing.D&D_2014

So I had originally thought to use bacon in this, but decided at the last minute to use chorizo which is really salty, in my opinion, so I did not add extra salt to the batter. I will use the bacon in a new cookie I’m coming up with – well, I hope so. It seems most of the cooked bacon I had in the fridge has disappeared. Hmm.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt, if needed*
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted, divided 5/2
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
1 leek, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 ozs chorizo, cooked and drained on paper towels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt if needed in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and 5 Tbs melted butter.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and incorporate wet ingredients, mix until just smooth. Stir in cheese and 1 cup of leek rings and chorizo.

Line muffin cups with foil liners and spray with baking spray. Fill 3/4 full, top with remaining leek rings and brush with remaining 2 Tbs butter. Bake 20-25 minutes and a toothpick comes out clean and tops just begin to brown. 

* taste chorizo first to decide if you need salt at all. I did not.

Wow, these were amazing and I am not just saying that to pat myself on the back. I really think the fresh chorizo made the difference and also tasting it once cooked to make sure the batter, in general, was not too salty.

This was hugely popular in the home kitchen. Both MotH and The Boy liked very much and the hardest test was me. I am a fan.

And I have made this recipe myself. Cool.

Zucchini Cheddar Muffins

I love savory muffins, the kind of thing you can eat for breakfast or brunch, slathered in Kerrygold butter, and still feel reasonably good about eating because, you know, hey! a vegetable is involved. I guess it just how you rationalize things, or at least it is how I do.

Now my problem becomes, what to do with this recipe, because I was just so amazingly underwhelmed by it. I hate it when that happens, but there it is. This was meh. I certainly did not take them in to the test kitchen and didn’t even take pictures because they just weren’t worth it.

That said, here is what they are, for lack of anything else, a warning not to go there.  

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup scant cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4.6 ounces grated zucchini, pressed mostly dry
3.5 ounces extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated,lg holes of box grater
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped

Preheat the oven to C 325 degrees and line muffin pan with foil liners.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and set aside.

Whisk the milk, egg, and oil together in a measuring cup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Stir in the zucchini, cheddar cheese, scallions, and thyme with my best spatulas Get it Right. Love them.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin with acookie scoop, about 3/4 full and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are just golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool ten minutes in the pan then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

I have to say, I was not happy with this recipe. I’m not sure what I did wrong. But these had no color – they looked anemic. And to be honest, there wasn’t that much in the way of taste to make up for the blah looks either.

Source: Would just rather not say.

Butter / Egg Usage – December 2016

December started out for me on the 16th. This does not a good month of cooking/baking make. I mean it is December after all, but sometimes after Thanksgiving, you just do the best that you can do. Sad, but true. That and my dishwasher died – serious impediment to doing anything in the kitchen. It is surprising how much so.

dd_1692

Southern Toffee

16 December 2016 – 12 Tbs / 2 eggs – Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

18 December 2016 – 24 Tbs – Southern Toffee 

22 December 2016 – 2 eggs – M&M Cookies

26 December 2016 – 8 Tbs unsalted butter- Chex Mix

26 December 2016 – 16 Tbs / 2 eggs – Sugar Cookies

26 December 2016 – 4 Tbs – Real Macaroni and Cheese

27 December 2016 – 2 Tbs – Sautéed Apples

30 December 2016 – 12 Tbs – Pecan Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Cook’s Country

30 December 2016 – 5 1/3 Tbs – Sausage Cheddar Scallion Biscuit Bread
Eggs = 6

Butter = 83.3 Tbs = 10.4125 sticks – 41.65 ozs – 2.603 pounds.

Eggs = 2 +2 +2 +6 – math is involved. = 12 large eggs.

 

 




Butter Usage – by month (December 2015)

2 December – 16 Tbs Rugelach – this dough works …

8 December – 4 Tbs – Rugelach filling – but the filling does not.

11 December – 4 Tbs – Rugelach filling – again did not – annoying – total failure – should really do a better job of reading the comments.

12 December – 8 Tbs – Banana Nut Bread – competition

14 December – 8 Tbs – Brownie Cookie

17 December – 8 Tbs – Glazed Lemon Cookies

19 December – 16 Tbs – Butterscotch Blondies

20 December – 4 Tbs – Everyday Orzo – yes. Again.

20 December – 12 Tbs – Lime Sugar Cookies

D&D_1074

Lime Sugar Cookies – pretty damn amazing.

23 December – 2 Tbs – Cheddar-Stuffed Mushrooms

23 December  – 13.5 Tbs – Sunday Sweet Potatoes

23 December – 16 Tbs – Walnut/Pecan Tassies

25 December – 1 Tbs – Toasted Banana Nut Bread

26 December – 12 Tbs – Sweet Potato Biscuits

29 December – 8 Tbs – The Browniest Cookies See Above.

30 December – 13 Tbs – Chess Tart

Total 145.5 Tbs = 18.1875 sticks = 4.5468875 pounds

Not my best month this year, but a damn good month by any measure.

I’m a bit frightened by what the total for the year will be if this is any indication. I may not keep up with this again, or maybe I’ll add keeping up with eggs too in 2016. Again, slightly frightening. But what the hell – makes for an excellent recap in an odd sort of way.

 

 

Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

It is, to me, really nice to find a recipe that I haven’t made in a while that really stands the test of time. I made this the first time over 8 years ago. Had set it aside for 6 years for no particular reason – just didn’t think to make it and a few weeks ago I had some stuffed mushrooms at an event and thought, Why haven’t I made any of these lately? No particular reason.  So I looked through the recipes I had and noticed all my notes about this recipe – things like, “easy” and “vg” (my shorthand, thanks to Bridget Jones’s Diary — the book, very good), and that both the MotH and his father liked it. So I thought what the hell, but let’s see if we can prep one day or so ahead and bake the day I wanted them. I know they are good warm or room temperature. Most stuffed mushrooms are – they are forgiving if nothing else. Notes of how to do this ahead of time below – dead simple. D&D_1060

1 lb button or crimini mushrooms, or a mix of both- this time crimini
5 Tbs unsalted butter / divided / 3 & 2
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely fresh bread crumbs – 1 slice of bread whirred in the food pross monster*
Salt / freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees – if you are baking immediately.

Wash mushrooms**, let dry on paper towels. Remove stems and finely chop them.

Finely chop walnuts and parsley and add to a medium bowl. Mix in bread crumbs and cheese. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.

Heat 3 Tbs of butter on medium and add onion and shallot. Sauté for a few minutes. When aromatics are starting to get soft, add mushroom stems and a nice pinch of salt and cook until liquid is release and the pan begins to dry just a bit. Let cool.  Add cheese / bread crumb mixture.

Here is where I deviated a bit and hopes it works – update – it did. I put the mushroom caps in a zip top bag with a couple of paper towels and plan to hold them there for a day and a half. I let all the stuffing pieces come to room temperature and then refrigerated it to stuff the mushrooms for Christmas Day appetizer.

The plan is to put the mushrooms on a baking dish, brush the with butter as in the original recipe then fill them or stuff them,  as it were, with the cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Source: No earthly idea – long before I started keeping up with those sorts of things. Or blogging about food.

—–

Update – So took the stuffing mix out of the fridge for about 30 minutes. I did put the mushroom caps on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and filled them pretty well, but totally forgot to brush with butter. It was not a problem at all. That step, in my opinion, can be skipped unless you just want to do that.

* Had not thought of this phrase in ages. When I used to make things in the food processor, I would prepare the Boy by saying I was about to use the food pross monster. How that, in and of itself, didn’t scare him, I don’t know, but the noise didn’t bother him because he knew it was coming. That was my sad little 4 cup food processor, but it did what I needed at the time. Things you forget.

** AB says it is okay to rinse mushrooms. And I do it and have never had a problem with it. Just rinse them in a colander and dry them on paper towels.

Christmas Eve 2007 – SR / WR liked, very easy

16 August 2008

10 May 2009 – Mom’s day w/ W & J

25 December 2015  – v.g.

 

Cheddar Parmesan Crackers

How weird is it that you have a binder full (!) of cheese cracker recipes? Who does this? No one.
Well, I do. I’m not even sure how this started really, but it did and these, as a group, are one of my favorite things to bake. I eat them for breakfast and for a snack when I get home and am making dinner. I love the fact that most of the crackers I make you can get the dough together and then bake up to a few (or more) days later. The slice and bake nature suits me for baking mid-week.
I have certain things I like about crackers: I prefer cheddar and/or Parmesan over Bleu cheese; nuts should be involved and I D&D_0871lean towards walnuts – pecans can be a bit sweet; my favorite herb is fresh rosemary; and there should always be bit of heat, usually provided by cayenne.
I guess the only thing about crackers is that humidity will effect them (or is it affect). I was correct with the effect – thankfully.
They still taste amazing, but they are a bit soft. Something that cannot be helped even this time of year. It’s early November and humid and in the 80’s. That’s our “fall” as it were.

4 ozs. cheddar, gated on the big holes of a box grater (no pre grated)
2 ozs. Parmesan, finely grated
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1:4 tsp dry mustard (Coleman’s)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
2 Tbs cold water, plus more if needed

In a food processor, blend all ingredients except butter and water. Pulse five times to make sure all ingredients are mixed well. Add small pieces of butter, and pulse until pea sized dough. Add water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough just starts to hold together.

Dump the dough on to waxed paper and roll into a log about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to two days (Or freeze for up to a month).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut log into 1/4 inch slices and arrange slices on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 14 – 15 minutes, rotating pan half way through, until lightly golden. Cool on a rack.

Notes: top crackers, before baking with finely chopped walnuts.

05 September 2006 – outstanding
21 December 2006
21 December 2008 – heaping 1/4 tsp mustard; 1/4 tsp cayenne = perfect
vvg – light and crisp – best cheddar cracker
6 March 2010 – still futzing with time and temp
6 December 2014
31 October 2015 – 38 crackers total, vg