Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Shut-ins Dinner Menu

For those of you who do not live in Alberta,let me just tell you about the winter we have been suffering through. I've come to refer to it as the Snow Apocalypse. It's been this way for the last month. Dump after dump of huge snowfall. Anywhere from 5 to 10 to 20 cm all in a 24 hour period. Needless to say our snow clearing crews have been getting a valiant job working nonstop  for the last month. We have gotten more snow here than in the last 112 years. So that's saying something.

Because of all the snow it's made the roads absolutely treacherous. So, of course, you don't want to go anywhere. So it's winter, the roads are crap, and the snow just keeps coming - what's a girl to do? Well if you're this girl, you decide to get some good old fashion cooking in.

Here are a couple recipes that I've tried &  had a lot of success with.

The first (which I font have pictures for) is for Mexican Ribs. I got the original recipe from Donna Hay's magazine, but wasn't overalls happy with it so I mixed it up a bit to give the ribs more heat and spice. I found them a little too sweet last time. So for my recipe calling them Diablo Ribs (although the have it they are not that spicy). 

Diablo Ribs

2 kg of baby back ribs
1 tbsn ground ginger (fresh if you have it)
1 tbsn chilling powder
1 tbsn ground cloves 
1 tbsn Dutch Cocoa
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 jalapeño pepper chopped
1-2 Thia chillies, sometimes called bird chillies (for less heat 1, more 2)
2 tbsn onion salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt & cracked pepper to taste. 

Then we combined it all in a bowl, rubbed it into the ribs and let it marinate overnight. The original recipe doesn't require marinating, but I had the time so thought I would. 

When ready to cook lay the ribs fat side down on the pan and broil for 5 min. This will carmalize the brown sugar, but also seal the meat so that it cooks nicely in its own juices. Once done broiling, turn the oven to 300 and cook the ribs for 1.5 hrs. 

Mark ate them so fast I was shocked. He now wants to make them for our next dinner party. 

Last night we made fried chicken, which may not sound like a lot, but my attempts in the past have never resulted in the glorious KFC chicken Mark produced last night. 

Mark's Fried Chicken

-Chicken cut into pieces, or a bunch of chicken pieces (preferrably bone-in)
-Seasoned flour (3 cups all purpose flour, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons thyme, and 2 tablespoons tarragon). Used 1.5 cups, and ziplock the rest for later. 
-2 eggs, splash of milk.  Whip with a fork. Use to dunk the chicken. 
-3 cups oil. 1.5 cup olive oil & 1.5 cup canola oil. 

Heat the oil to medium-high heat. Run a piece of chicken through the egg mixture then in the seasoned flour, then repeat an put into the oil. Turning as needed. When each piece is done place on a piece of paper towel to rest and drain. 

But I did have a lot of success with the Acorn Squash I made. My father grew a ton if squash this summer and have me a ton of these. Never having really eaten them before I must admit they've been sitting in the fridge for a whole. Luckily, they keep like crazy when cool. 

So last might I felt it might be time to get serious about cooking them and I found a recipe on Epicurious that looked good, but as I didn't have all the ingredients I improvised. I'm calling it Red Mushroom Stuffed Squash. 

Red Mushroom Stuffed Squash

1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
1/2 cup of dried cranberries and currants
1/4 cup hot water
5 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 ounces fresh wild mushrooms (such as shiitake), stemmed, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place squash cut side down in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Put in 1 tablespoon of butter on the squash. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high 10 minutes. Pierce plastic to let steam escape. Uncover and turn squash halves cut side up. Season cavities with salt and pepper. 

Combine dried cranberries and currants and hot water in small bowl. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and sage and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and stir until crumbs brown lightly, about 3 minutes. Mix in cranberries and currants with soaking liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Mound stuffing into squash halves. Dot with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Bake until heated through and crisp on top, about 10 minutes.

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