Monday, May 30, 2011

Avocado and Feta Salsa

When Daniel and Emma had their house warming/BBQ, they asked if everyone would bring something. Since I'm Uncle Favorite, I made several of Daniel's must-haves. The potato salad was a big hit, the marinated veggies were a BIGGER hit, and well, then there was the carrot cake, which is in a league of its own, thank you very much. Of course, many people brought salads and desserts and appies, which were all fabulous. And Chris did an awesome job manning the grill!
This salsa (which was made by my niece, Tricia, who got it from her sister-in-law, Tonia) was FABULOUS and yummy and different and a nice change of pace from the usual chips and salsa. It was kind of like guacamole, but the feta just brought a whole new dynamic to the table. Very easy to make and HIGHLY addictive!!!
 So, the next time you need to bring something to a party or BBQ, give this one a try. Then sit back and watch everyone devour it! LOVE!
Thanx again Trish!

2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled& chopped (sometimes I add one or two more avocados)
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbs fresh oregano
1 tbs fresh parsley
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar
4 oz feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
Pita or tortilla chips

Directions :
Combine tomatoes, avocado, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, oil & vinegar. Mix well. Gently stir in feta cheese. Cover and chill for 2-6 hours. Serve with pita or tortilla chips.

I think the only thing I would change is maybe I would had a little squeeze of fresh lime juice. It's always great in a fresh salsa, and (besides adding a little citrus zing) it keeps the avocados from turning brown.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big News!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!!! I have some fun exciting news!
I'm SO thrilled and delighted to announce the opening of The Cooking with Joey Gift Shop!
Effective immediately, you can now purchase Cooking with Joey gifts and apparel simply by clicking the link on the right, and browsing through my growing list of items. Isn't that cool??
All of the items are designed by yours truly, and are delivered within a week.
Would you like a Cooking with Joey T shirt? How about an apron?
How about a duffel bag or even a laptop sleeve?
Everything is high quality, colorful, fun, and affordable!
So, if you have a minute, check it out!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Roasted Cinnamon Plums

This is a really simple dish that throws together in literally just a few minutes, but it tastes like you went to a lot of trouble. I first saw it when I was watching Chuck's Day Off. It looked so yummy and simple I knew I had to try it. Chuck served it with honey butter on pieces of toasted crusty bread (as is stated below), but I think they would be perfect with a little vanilla yogurt and some granola sprinkled over the top. Don't you think? I'm sure you can use this same recipe for peaches or nectarines instead of plums. I'll have to give that a try one of these days. Anyway, it's a perfect little brunch item that isn't the usual fruit salad, and it's SO delicious!
Try it!

6-8 ripe purple prune plums
2 tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
zest of half a lemon

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
Cut the plums in half, and remove the pits. Place the plums in a baking dish, skin-side down, and sprinkle with sugar, and cinnamon, and grate a little lemon zest over the top.
Place the baking dish in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, or until soft.
Serve over warm bread that has been buttered or 'buttered and honeyed.'

This type of recipe is perfect to suit to your own taste. I didn't measure anything. I just arranged the fruit and then sprinkled everything over the top until it was enough. If you like extra brown sugar or extra lemon zest, go for it! Like my Mom always said, "do you like a lot? Add a lot." When I made them, I added a little orange zest in addition to the lemon zest over the top.You could even drizzle them with a little honey. Yum!

Oh, btw, I borrowed the picture from the cooking channel because I just couldn't seem to get a nice photo of the ones I made! What can I say, sometimes the photo just doesn't turn out right!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cinnamon Buns

 Ok, I know some of you may prefer to call them "sticky buns", but we always called them cinnamon buns when I was growing up. They are NOT cinnamon ROLLS, though. That's something entirely different, more along the lines of a Cinnabon, with the cream cheese icing oozing down the sides. No, these buns are little pieces of gooey sticky cinnamon heaven and they make the whole house smell like the small-town family-owned bakery down the street. SO intoxicating!
 To be honest, I had never even made them before, but I had always wanted to. Well, I had wanted to ever since my sister Reen made them for a baking contest that her employer was having, once upon a time. She wound up winning the contest and from then on it was known around her office that "Reen has the best buns." But I digress....
 When Reen made them, I thought THIS is something I wanna try! So here we are, several years later. I knew I'd get to them one day!!! This isn't the recipe she used, but it's pretty darn good. Maybe I'll have to have a Cinnabake off with her and we'll see who has the best buns!

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 c. milk
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 c. sifted flour, plus more if needed
Melted butter
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. pecans or raisins or currants or any combination of same (optional)

1 c. dark corn syrup 
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

 Heat oven to 400F.
Mix yeast with 1 cup flour, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar. In small saucepan, heat milk with 1/2 cup butter. Heat until warm. Butter does not need to melt. Add beaten egg and stir to blend.
Combine egg mixture with flour and yeast mixture. Beat with electric beater at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat with electric mixer 2 minutes longer. Add remaining flour (more if necessary to make a soft dough). Knead, in bowl, about 12 minutes or until dough no longer sticks to fingers and is elastic.
Place in buttered bowl and let stand in warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch down. Divide in half and roll each half into a rectangle about 9 inches wide and about 1/4 inch thick. Brush surface of rectangle with butter.
Mix 1/2 cup white sugar with 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle each rectangle with half of sugar mixture. Roll, jelly roll fashion. Cut into 9 1" slices (it's important to have a very sharp knife or scissors).
Make sticky syrup by heating together corn syrup, 1 cup brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 cup butter. Pour half of syrup into each of 2 layer cake pans (square or round). Sprinkle evenly with nuts or raisins or combination of both (if desired). Place 9 dough slices in each pan. Let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes).
Bake for about 20 minutes or until surface is browned and dough is cooked through. Line a cookie sheet with foil and turn up edges to make walls that will keep syrup from oozing off the sheet. Place pans, upside down, on foil and do not remove for a minute or so (to allow syrup to drain from pans). Serve cooled. Makes 2 pans of buns.

This may seem like quite a lot to take in, but really it's pretty straight forward. Just stay organized and and make sure your measurements are correct. It's really not difficult to do, it just take a little extra time, that's all.
It's VERY important to take them out of the pan IMMEDIATELY after you remove them from the oven, otherwise you'll never get them out of the pan. Sticky, remember?
For maple sticky buns, simply use your favorite pancake maple syrup instead of the corn syrup.
Be sure you have a really sharp knife to cut the slices of dough. I find it's best to make a "sawing" motion when cutting the dough instead of pressing downward. You'll be less likely to squish the roll, and you'll end up with perfectly perfect little spirals.
Oh, and if, for some strange reason, you happen to have some leftover, don't be alarmed if the sticky syrup begins to harden like caramel. You can easily bring them back to their sticky fabulousness by popping them into a preheated 350F oven for a quick 10 minutes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Eggs Benedict


 Have you ever had Eggs Benedict? It's really yummy and rich and decadent and screams "make this for someone when you want to serve them breakfast in bed". I just made this for the very first time, and I was so pleased with how it turned out! I told Paul how pleased I was and he didn't believe me when I told him that I had never made it before. For some reason, he just figures that "Joey has made everything". That's SO not true! If that were the case, there would be no fun in trying new recipes! So, on that note, I'll say, if you've never made this before, you MUST try it! In fact, make it for someone and serve them breakfast in bed.
I betcha they'll love you for it !

8 thick slices of ham
4 English muffins, split
1/4 cup white vinegar
8 large eggs
salt and pepper
Hollandaise sauce

Brown the ham in a medium skillet and toast the English muffins, cut sides up, on a baking sheet under the broiler.
Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet half full of water. Add white vinegar to the cooking water. This will make the egg white cook faster so it does not spread. Bring to a slow boil. Gently break the eggs into the water taking care not to break them. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Cook 3 1/2 minutes until the egg white is set and yolk remains soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing the egg to drain. To assemble: Lay a slice of ham on top of each muffin half, followed by a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

If you'd like to use Canadian bacon instead of the ham, go for it!
I always use a small bowl to drop the eggs into the poaching water. Just carefully add each egg to the pan by cracking it into a small bowl and then letting it slide into the gently simmering water. Sometimes it helps to keep the egg together if you swirl the water into a gentle whirlpool around the egg after you drop it into the water.
 If you're having a larger group, you can easily poach them in advance. As you poach the eggs, put them in a big bowl of cold water. Refrigerate them, uncovered, up to three days. When the party is ready to eat, heat a Dutch oven full of water until it boils. Drop the eggs in -- again using the slotted spoon -- and simmer them about 30 seconds, just to warm through.

Hollandaise Sauce

 I know many people are intimidated by the thought of making home made Hollandaise sauce because it seems to have a reputation for being difficult to make. Actually, it's not difficult at all. You just need to keep a few things in mind, that's all, and it'll turn out perfectly fine. I searched through several recipes, and they all seem to be pretty similar. This one is from Tyler Florence. ok here we go...
 The most important thing is to make sure it doesn't get too hot, otherwise the eggs will scramble. No problem. Just make sure the heat isn't too high, and that the water is just barely simmering. Simple, right? Are you with me so far? Ok good. moving on.....The other important thing is to make sure you whisk the butter vigorously but gradually so the sauce doesn't break. Easy, right? So there. Now that we've solved any potential problems, you're all set to give it a try. I'm telling you, you can do this! Have I ever lied to you before? Now you're all set to make Eggs Benedict or a thick and juicy grilled steak or just simply pour it over steamed or roasted vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, or green beans. Simple!

 4 egg yolks
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch kosher salt

Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture begins to thicken. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and keep warm until ready to use. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

Some recipes use clarified butter, which is basically melted butter without any of the milk solids (meaning just the CLEAR part of the melted butter, hence "clarified") but I found that it was fine using the whole stick.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reen's M'eggs'ican Casserole

Usually, when I talk about my sister Maureen, I refer to her as the Queen of Substitutions. She'll take a recipe and change it to fit whatever ingredients she has in the house and it always turns out fabulous. Today, however, I'll talk about her ability to create amazing dishes with no recipe at all! She'll go to a produce market or grocery store, see what looks good, and create something fantabulous, even if she's using an ingredient that she's never tried before. Now THAT's talent!!!
 This recipe was one of those creations. She made it for our family's Easter brunch and it was a big hit! Of course, I quickly asked her to write down the recipe while it was still fresh in her mind! And here it is! If you're all about spicy Mexican food, this one has your name all over it. Well, even if spicy is NOT your thing, I think you should give this a try.  So yummy! (I had two pieces!)
Thanx Reen!!!

1 pkg Mexican chorizo sausage, uncooked
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb roasted poblano peppers
1 dozen eggs
half and half (or milk or cream)
10 corn tortillas
vegetable oil spray 
1 lb pepperjack cheese, grated
2 1/2 lbs potatoes, boiled and sliced
1 large jar chipotle salsa
chopped fresh cilantro and pickled jalapeno peppers (garnish)

Heat oven to 350F.
Remove casing from sausage. Crumble and cook in a large saute pan. Remove from pan. Set aside.
Add chopped onions and poblanos to the sausage drippings. Saute until soft.
In a separate bowl, scramble the eggs with a few glugs of half and half.
Now it's time to assemble everything!
Spray tortillas with vegetable oil spray. Heat in oven for about 3 minutes or until pliable. Shingle them across the bottom and up the sides of a 9x13 casserole dish, cutting them if you need to in order to make them fit. Layer the casserole in this order: Sausage, shredded cheese, potatoes, poblano/onion mixture. Pour scrambled eggs over everything. Top with the entire jar of salsa and more cheese. Place casserole in oven. Bake for one hour or until set in the center.  To serve, cut into squares. Top with cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and additional salsa, if desired.

If you'd like to tone down the heat a little, just choose ingredients that are less spicy, such as a milder salsa, a sweet sausage, and regular Monterey Jack cheese.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sweet Orange Marmalade

So, did you watch the Royal Wedding? Were you one of the crazies that got up at zero in the morning to watch it live? Yes, I was up at zero in the morning, but that's what time I get up every day for work! I did get up at a little earlier than usual, though, so I could stop by my sister Jeanie's house with some freshly baked Blueberry Scones. I was only able to stay and watch a few of the arrivals before heading off to work, and it's probably not a bad thing that I wasn't there for the "make your own fancy hat" crafting. Hilarious!
 Anyway, keeping the gorgeous Royal Couple in mind, I decided that the royal scones I made should have a royal accompaniment. So I made some marmalade! Perfect, don't you think? It's sweet and fresh and perfect for a scone or toast or an English muffin. Now, I know some people may not be a fan of marmalade because of its slight bitterness. That comes from the orange peel. (Technically speaking, it wouldn't be a real marmalade if you didn't add the peel.) But I like to add just the orange part of the peel, the zest, and leave the white pith behind. It makes all the difference! When you make your own, you can control how much of the orange peel to add, so you can make it as sweet or as bitter as you like! If you love the whole peel, then by all means, add the whole peel! Like I always say, it's better when YOU make it! And just wait until you taste it! The thin slivers of orange zest become soft and chewy like candy, with a huge burst of orange flavor. I LOVE it! So give this one a try. Because, seriously, what's a royal wedding party without scones and marmalade?

4 large navel oranges
1 lemon
6 cups water
6 cups sugar
1 granny smith apple

Using a vegetable peeler, remove just the orange zest from the oranges. This is just the orange part of the peel. (It's ok if you get some of the white part). Now peel the oranges as you normally would, removing and discarding the thicker white rind. Thinly slice the orange segments. Place segments and peeled zest in a large pot along with the water and the juice and grated zest of the lemon. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let the fruit cook for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sugar and the finely grated apple.
Place a small dish in the freezer.
Increase heat under the orange mixture to a rapid boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir the marmalade until it deepens in color and reaches around 220F on a candy thermometer, or about 15-20 minutes. Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready. If this happens, just continue to simmer and stir for a little while longer, then test it again. The longer it simmers, the more it will reduce, and the thicker it will get.

After you add the sugar, it's REALLY important to stir it constantly. Like, seriously, NO short cuts! Otherwise, you run the risk of burning it, which will ruin the whole batch. I know it's tedious, but just stand there and stir. 20 minutes really isn't that long, and it'll be SO worth it!!

The main reason for adding the apple is that it adds natural pectin which helps it to thicken. You won't even know it's there. It just dissolves into the marmalade.
I purposely didn't go into the whole jarring and preserving thing, but if that's your thing, double everything and go for it! Have a blast!