Monday, November 14, 2011

Potato Appetizer Snack Side Deliciousness

Sunday has turned into football watching day.  I don't think it's because anyone particularly likes football but rather the call of "the games on!" has become synonymous with "it's justification for laying around in jammies and not actually doing to help put the house back together even though the walls are all cracking and there is paper hanging from cracks in all the corners and the child's bedroom window is falling out day".

Since I was sick the day before, there's not a snack in the house.  It's amazing how little gets done when I spend a day laying on my bed feeling well and truly sorry for myself.  I mean the dishwasher backup continued, am I the only one who knows how to empty it.  I'm sure I am not, perhaps it's just that I'm the only one who would think about it?  Am I doomed to be the dishwasher backup emptier and reloader supervisor for the rest of my life?  I mean it's sort of like the toilet paper.  I actually walked in the bathroom the other day and there was a new roll of toilet paper balanced precariously on the empty roll of it's predecessor.  Who thinks of that?  I am sure it took more thought, work and mental process to decide to and then execute the opening and balancing of the new roll than simply changing it out.

I'm sorry, I digress.  We are here to talk about little fried rounds of delightful happiness making and I'm ranting about broken houses, dishwashers and toilet paper. We are here, really, to talk about food.

I think snacks are important on football day.  I like to nibble when I'm staring at the big tv cheering on millionaires who play with little balls for a living.  Ok, I'm being facetious but really, grown men?  In any event, this is the best, easiest, yummiest appetizer snack side dish you'll ever make.

The only make ahead is the fact you have to have cooked mini potatoes in your fridge.  So long as that is done, you're laughing. These, by the way, are also fantastic with eggs in the morning, noon, or night.  It's a breakfast dish, it's an anything dish.

Here we go:

Get some cooked mini potatoes
Get a frying pan
Get some sort of hot fat
Sea salt and any herb you love.

Place the potaotes on your counter, squash them with the heel of your hand.  Not to thin that they fall apart but far enough to crack the skin open and expose the potatoey goodness inside that we are about to crisp!

Squash the little darlings and heat up your favorite fat in a large skillet.  I use a non stick for this.  My husband was recently on a business trip to the UK and I had him bring me back a couple of jars of goose fat specifically for frying potatoes.  IF you don't have a business trip husband, feel free to use bacon fat, or lard or olive oil, whatever floats your boat works here.  It's more the method.

Get the fat really hot and lay the little squashers in, carefully.  They have to be in a single layer and as much as you want to futz with them, do not futz with them. You can give them a little shake to feel involved but really, just leave them.  You need them more than they need you at this moment in time. You will smell they're frying and you will see a little darkening around the edges, that's when you flip.  Carefully, we really want these to stay in tact.

Flip them twice, lay them on a board and sprinkle them with sea salt.  Serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. My son likes to use ranch dressing, I like garlic aoili.  Feel free to cheat here and thin a little mayonnaise with milk and grate some garlic into it, add salt and pepper. 

Sprinkle them with whatever fresh herbs you have.  They make a really cool appetizer and unusual finger food for a cocktail party or just for hanging around.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lamb Meatballs or Kebabs

I've made too many chicken dishes lately.

I needed a change.

I really like lamb.  I don't eat it nearly enough.  I think we fall into the chicken, ground beef or pork routine too easily as we're all trying to save on our grocery bills.

I found lamb on sale today and snatched it up.  I was going to make a lamb meatball curry with bananas and coconut milk, oh the plans I had.  I have changed my mind and now it's lamb meatball/kebab hoagie sandwiches for dinner.  These are divine, easy, delicious and have a richness you just don't get from beef or pork.

Here is the list:

1 lb ground lamb
1 thick slice bread
1/4-1/2 cup yogurt (PLAIN!)
salt, pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
a few grates of nutmeg
1/2 onion (grated)
2 large garlic cloves (grated)
1 green onion (chopped)
some cilantro (chopped)

In a bowl, crumble the slice of bread and add the yogurt, mash it around and leave it to rest a few minutes.  The bread will absorb the yogurt (I usually do this with milk but wanted the added acidity) and turn to a mash that will combine with the lamb and help keep it tender.  After it's sat there for a few minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix lightly with a fork.

Cover the mixture with plastic and let it rest for a while.  This really does matter, the flavors blend and the yogurt further marinates the meat.

Form the meat into little football shapes!  They will lay beautifully in the bread later.

These are the loaves I'm going to fill!  They are a simple italian loaf that you'll probably just go and buy, I'm a bit bread obsessive and only eat my own.  I will post the recipe when I next make it and pay attention to the measurements.  I had to add the beauty shots of the bread, the crumb was perfect, in my humble opinion, and we've eaten most of it now!

Make a sauce of yogurt and grated garlic, chopped mint, salt and pepper.  Fry the meatballs in olive oil until they are brown and have a lovely crust on them.  I did them in two batches, browned them then tossed them on a (grotty old, apparently sorry) sheet pan and put them in a 400 toaster oven for about 15 mins.


Cut the loaf into enormous pieces, slice them open.

slather them with the sauce and crispy romaine leaves, pile the hot meatballs on top.

Take some beauty shots, add a bit more sauce for effect and DEVOUR!

Although the original curry plan went strangely awry, there was sheer delight on the face of my 12 yr old as he devoured, lovingly, the enormous "just sandwiches for dinner" before him.

I think this is a keeper recipe!!


Pressure Cooker Pork Ribs (St. Louis Cut Ribs)

I stopped by buy pork this morning.  Actually, I stopped for milk but apparently I'm incapable of sticking to any culinary plan.

That being said, I love the pork in Texas, it tastes really "porky".  I bought 2 pork loin roasts for my peameal (another post) but saw they had St. Louis Cut Pork Ribs on sale.  I found the smallest rack and rushed home to experiment.

We know I've become a little bit obsessed with my Pressure Cooker.  It simply amazes me.  Meat is meatier, chicken is chickenier and everything just tastes that little bit richer and more flavorful and the time is cut easily by a third.

Tracy's Pressure Cooker St. Louis Ribs

1 rack pork ribs
1 can beer
a little water
your favorite bbq sauce
salt and pepper

I cut the slab into 3 pieces so that it'd fit in the pressure cooker.  I salted and peppered, liberally, each section and browned it.
I added one beer and about the equivalent of a can of water to the pressure cooker and put a steamer rack inside.
Pile the ribs on the rack, overlapping is ok, obviously. Set Timer for 35 minutes. At the end of 35 minutes, let the pressure reduce naturally and transfer the ribs to a board.
Coat the ribs with your favorite bbq sauce (I coated mine very lightly but feel free to load it on!)  Add about a cup of water to the bottom of the pot and set timer for another 10 minutes. Preheat your broiler!

It took all my willpower not to rip these to shred and eat them now.  See the lengths I'll go to for a complete recipe?  Put the ribs on a rack and either coat with bbq sauce or I just dipped my brush in the sauce/water combo at the bottom of the pot and painted them.
broil a couple of minutes, until they look like this  Ok there are words.  These are perfect.  Juicy.  Rich.  Porky.  Tender.  The meat has a slight pull but it comes clean from the bone.  Juice ran down my hands. Finger Licking Good.

I have never.ever. made ribs anywhere close to this good before and I have made some killer ribs.
Connor LOVES these.  I love these.  You WILL love these.

Wrap them in foil to hold them if you make them early in the day and feel the need to put a barrier between you and them...  really...

If you make nothing else I've suggested.  Make these.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Yellow Split Pea Soup (pressure cooker style)

I'm in the mood to cook. I love my pressure cooker.  I don't want to go to the store.  I don't want to spend any money.  I'm starving for something that I love.

All these things coming together equal my very delicious, quick, nutritious, tasty, warming and tummy happiness making yellow split pea soup.

Gather your ingredients! 

1 stalk celery
1/2 onion
1 carrot
1 1/2 cup yellow split peas
6 cups homemade chicken stock or water or a combination
some thyme
some bacon
a bay leaf
salt, pepper


I never separate bacon slices but rather slice off the edge of the pound.  I used 5 thin slices today.  Throw the bacon in the pressure cooker on "brown" and crisp it up!!  remove it and try not to eat it.  I fail at this step pretty consistently.

oh, crispy goodness!!  Leave the dripping behind. Toss in your veggies and fry them around. Add some salt, some pepper and some thyme. Fry it to soften the veggies slightly. You do not have to do this step, I just like to feel involved.  You can just toss everything in the pressure cooker, set it and leave but really, I need to feel the whole things needs me!!

This is 1 1/2 cup picked yellow split peas.  Toss them into the lightly softened veggies and shoosh it around.

Add 6 cups of liquid.  This is about half chicken stock and half water.  If you don't have stock, use water, really, it's delicious any way you make this! Toss in a bay leaf. Set for 15 minutes.  Go do something.

DING!  time's up! I let the pressure come down for a few minutes on it's own then crack under the tasting pressure and release it manually the rest of the way.

OH, soupy yumminess!!  Let's taste!  I like to add some of the crunchy bacon on top. DELICIOUS!

The peas and veggies are soft and the bacon is crispy.  The broth is rich and delicious.

Lets blend it.  I have an immersion blender but you can use a regular blender of course.

Oh yes, I think I like this batch smooth better.  A little of the bacon on top again for crunch.  It's rich and unctuous and happy tummy making.

Here's my stash for the fridge.  Not bad for about .50 worth of ingredients.

I just took my "old lady" bread out of the oven and intend on slicing this thickly, buttering and adding some extra old white English cheddar to accompany the soup for my lunch today.  I need someone to be really nice to me and apparently that person is going to be me.

Make this.  You will be happy. 


Ok, I broke into it...the crust is thick and crispy and the center is soft and airy and tasty.  Go make this too!!
OK, now I'm going to go eat it.