Sunday, September 15, 2013

Roquefort Cheeseball

Day 47

For your next get together, or as a delicious topping for grilled burgers, try this unbeatable Roquefort Cheeseball. It is easy, zesty, and very versatile! With football season under way, this is an excellent appetizer for company, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. 

Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
Roquefort Cheeseball

1- 8 oz. package cream cheese, slightly softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup crumbled Roquefort (or bleu) cheese
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup finely diced green onion
½ cup crisply fried, drained and crumbled bacon (or fried pancetta)
2 tsp. buffalo wing sauce
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
Paprika for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, Roquefort cheese, and cheddar cheese. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment is an option, although clean hands really work best. Add Worcestershire sauce, green onion, bacon, and buffalo wing sauce. Mix well to incorporate fully. 

Form into ball or log, then roll in paprika and toasted pecans to thoroughly coat. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours to allow flavors to mingle and for cheeseball to become firm. 

Serve with crackers or as a topping for burgers. 

*To toast pecans, heat oven to 350 degrees, then place pecans on a baking sheet. Toast for about 5 minutes or until pecans appear a richer brown and aromatic. Watch carefully so as not to scorch. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Country Fried Steak & Spicy Cheddar Grits

Day 46

My grandparents on my mother’s side, I called Nanny and Papa. Although Papa died well over ten years ago, Nanny is still alive and kicking, surely as feisty as ever. I haven’t seen her in a few years, actually, but I am as certain as I can be that she still fries most of her food and she probably still curses and smokes with reckless abandon.
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
Albeit disconcerting at her ripe old age, it’s also endearing in some ways I can’t quite explain.

Whenever I’d visit Nanny and Papa as a child, I would eagerly anticipate the next meal. They were both outstanding cooks in a very basic, Southern Country sort of way. One of the most memorable meals we enjoyed at their table was country-fried steak. Sometimes, it was served with mashed potatoes or fried potatoes and onions. At other times though, they would make salted grits seasoned with black pepper. The simplicity of the fried steak and grits or potatoes was so comforting. Sliced tomatoes, string beans, broccoli, and biscuits were the usual sides.

For today’s blog recipe, I decided to revisit grits. Months ago, I shared a recipe that was easy and delicious, but this time, I’m going to recommend the quick cooking grits for a fast and easy weeknight alternative. So many people lament over their busy evenings during which they have no time for quality home-cooked meals. Preparing something like country-fried steak and quick cooking grits is a way to combine a slightly more complicated meat prep with a delectable and fast side. If, of course, you’d rather make the slow cooking grits, please refer back to Day 7 of my blog.


Spicy Cheddar Grits
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half
1 cup “Quick-5 Minute” grits
½ tsp. salt
3 cups grated sharp cheddar
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
½ tsp. hot sauce

Bring broth, crushed red pepper, and half and half to a boil. Slowly stir grits and salt into boiling broth mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Cook four minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. During last minute, add cheddar cheese and hot sauce, and stir. Remove from heat. Serve immediately with country-fried steak.

Country-Fried Steak
8 cube steaks
4 eggs, beaten
2 tbs. heavy cream
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tbs. sea salt
1 tbs. black pepper
1 tbs. garlic powder
1 tbs. onion powder
2 tsp. paprika
1½ cups canola oil

In a deep skillet, pour 1½ cups of canola oil, and heat on medium-high. When a drop of water dances on the oil, it is ready for the steaks.

In a large bowl, mix eggs and heavy cream. In another large bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Dip each steak in the egg mixture to coat on each side, then dredge in the flour mixture.

Place each steak in the hot oil, being sure not to crowd them. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. When steak no longer runs pink and when the crust is thick and crispy in appearance, the steaks are done. Place on paper towels to drain.  Serve immediately. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Day 45

With fall and winter just around the corner, I find myself looking for richer, more decadent dessert recipes. While flipping through a Ladies’ Home Journal supplement, I found this twist on a pecan pie. Rich, creamy, and absolutely sublime, this pie will be the highlight of your next dessert presentation.

It’s very necessary to share that the magazine in which I found the recipe did not correctly print it, and it was only after I made the first batch of pies that I realized the discrepancy between the magazine’s printed version and the correct online recipe. Below is the correct version that will come out perfectly
Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013
every time. Interestingly, the magazine’s misprint still produced a delicious pie, although the filling was decidedly runny.

In a way, I’m glad to share that my first four pies were not as I had anticipated since—especially on television cooking programs—we home cooks are not usually privy to the mistakes. As a result, when we try a featured dish from television, it doesn’t always turn-out as anticipated, thereby making us feel like failures in the kitchen. Often, we become timid to try another recipe, but the entire mishap could have easily been avoided if the chef had shared some particular tricks to avoid pitfalls, based on his/her test kitchen trials.  I find that, for every recipe I successfully try, there are two that don’t work. It’s important to remember this, especially if you find yourself exploring a new passion for cooking.

You know, though, failures are still pretty tasty, truth be told. To avoid any confusion with this relatively easy pie, make sure that you only use 1 ¼ cups of the butterscotch sauce in each pie. The remaining sauce can be refrigerated to be used as an ice cream topping or a drizzle for apple pie.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
3 cups pecan halves, toasted (see below)
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/3 cup butterscotch-flavored pieces
1 ¼ cups Butterscotch Sauce (*see recipe below)
Whipped cream (optional)
9-inch pie crust

*Butterscotch Sauce
½ cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup light-colored corn syrup
2 tbs. water
¾ tsp. salt
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla

Prepare the pie crust by baking empty in a 350 degree oven. Line pie pan of raw crust with aluminum foil and pour 2 cups of dry, uncooked kidney beans on foil to keep crust from bubbling while baking. Bake for 15 minutes with foil/beans and 5 minutes with foil and beans removed. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

To toast pecans, spread the pecan halves in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven, tossing occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat and stir 1¼ cups of the butterscotch sauce over low heat until warm. Remove from heat. Stir hot nuts, chocolate, and butterscotch-flavored pieces, stirring until the pieces are melted. Pour filling into prebaked tart shell. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 14 to 15 minutes or until edges are bubbly.

Cool on wire rack. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate curls, if you like. Makes 10 servings.

Butterscotch Sauce

In a heavy saucepan, melt unsalted butter over low heat, stirring often. Increase heat to medium. Stir in sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Bring to boiling; stir constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring often (you'll see big, slow bubbles as it boils). Remove from heat. Carefully whisk in whipping cream and vanilla (the sauce may sputter). Use 1¼ cups of the sauce for the pie. Allow remaining sauce to cool. Cover; refrigerate remaining sauce. If you like, reheat over low heat and stir before serving over ice cream. Makes 3 cups sauce.

(Recipe borrowed from Ladies’ Home Journal “Delicious Desserts” supplement to Ladies’ Home Journal Magazine, 2011. )