The Classic Chicken Wing Roquefort Twist

wings1The classic buffalo wing recipe if a perennial favorite, particularly during football season. There’s not much that I can add to the recipe except for these two small tips.

wing4If you are frying chicken wings, always use peanut oil. One can argue the health benefits or lack of all day – but the bottom line is that peanut oil makes the wings ultra crispy – and stay so even the next day.

wings2Blue cheese is one of my favorite gastronomical items. Ranch is less so. And the blue cheese dressing that I made to accompany the wings is made of blue cheese and Greek yogurt. I love the simplicity and the taste. If you like your dressing creamier, add milk.

I took a waitress job to help get myself through school and I once said to a patron who ordered Roquefort that we didn’t have any, just blue cheese. He corrected me by saying they are the same. It was not my finest hour – and I still remember the embarrassment to this day. However, they are different! Roquefort is generally made of sheep’s milk and blue cheese is generally made of cow’s milk. If only I knew back then, I would have been the smartest waitress he’s ever had.

wings3So enjoy your wings and Roquefort dressing this fall! It’s the bomb.

September 30, A Chicken In Every Pot

sep30Have you noticed the price of food lately? Since the kids have been gone, I’ve been shopping sparingly and almost every day. I would go to the store to just get what I need to cook for that day. This happens in most countries of the world, the US is the exception.

I know a lot of people who just eat out every day, and not cook at all. To do so is to miss a large part of what makes life wonderful. Cooking is a passion of mine, and to do so for the ones I love is a joy.

Because the price of food has sky rocketed, I’m sticking with the affordable protein of chicken for most of our meals. Above is a simple Thai soup of galangal, kaffir¬† leaves, lemon grass, onions, tomatoes and chicken broth. My mother makes it often and it fills the house with a beautiful smell of the Thailand that reminds me of my childhood.

Bon appetite!

Just boil it all together, and then low simmer for a few more hours until the chicken falls off the bone. Place in a strainer and keep just the broth. Separate the meat from the bones and place back into the broth. Voila, you have a delicious and simple soup that is perfect for the fall weather!

 

Phyllis The Chicken

chicken1A while back, a friend who will remain nameless decided she wanted to raise chickens.

“Chickens?” I say. Why not?

So she brought the little ones over so I could see and they were so cute but rascally and quick. I could barely catch them with my lens. This little fuzzy one had a crown of yellow feathers on its her head.

pepper2She was like a cute little chick-a-dee.

That’s probably because she is exactly that . . . chicken6

Now she’s grown and has a head of white plumed feathers and I shall name her Phyllis.

chicken7

I’ve never seen a chicken like Phyllis before, she had a better beautician than I do apparently.

chicken8 What a wild and fascinating looking creature. I bet she has no problem getting a date to the prom!

I don’t know if Phyllis actually lays eggs or if she just lives a life of luxury.

I think this week’s chicken theme will be an interesting one . . .

 

September 29, The Chicken Fest

sep11I am close, very close to talking about my cockfighting experience. Yup – almost there.

Keep in mind that while cockfighting is illegal in the US, it’s legal in many parts of the world, like Puerto Rico. It’s a way of life in those cultures, and it’s we went in order to experience the local culture. And also our waitress said her entire family was involved in cockfighting and that she takes her two year old daughter all the time . . . if not for that, I wouldn’t have gone.

I’m not trying to excuse or rationalize why we went – and took the kids:) Just what our thought processes were and at the time, it made sense.

So, stay tuned and happy Monday!

Happy Snap Chattering Class

snap0Technology continues to move forward and just when you figured out a new piece of software, a new app, a new phone, a watch:), or a new updated OS, something else innovative comes along and makes one feel totally uncool again.

That’s what Snap Chat has done for me. The boy loaded the app onto my phone and I tried using it a while but I didn’t really “get” it. It works like a short burst of communication and then the image and words disappear. I think it’s because it’s not permanent and therefore future employers can’t do a snap chat search and find your funny, weird or perhaps inappropriate messages that I think young kids like it so much. I’m all about saving memories so I figured out the only way that I can document the boy’s goofiness now is to take a screenshot of him whenever he sends me a Snap Chat.

Sometimes I’m successful in getting the image, sometimes I don’t. For some reason, working three fingers at the same time is difficult for me. I can be small motor skills challenged.

snap1He once sent me a Snap Chat that he was going to an aviation conference with Roommate John to which I said they looked like aviators. And yes, they are. So cute.

snap2Hehehe – we all have to pay our dues in college.

snap3The boy is drinking shakes and he tells me he’s lost 10 pounds from doing so. “Keep it up!” I tell him.

snap4I don’t know what this conversation was about but I did notice the kitchen behind him. Yes, I remember college too.

snap5BTW, you can also customize your snaps with filters. And you also have to make a silly face whenever you send one, it’s apparently Snap Chat protocol.

snap6Here he is acting as first officer for his friend’s simulator training. Whuddup Piss (it’s what they call him, I didn’t make it up)!

snap7Then the other day I began to get quite a few snaps from him and I though I was glad to see him, in the back of my mind, I wondered what was up. He said he was hungry. I told him to cook something and he sent me the above. I never said our conversations were stimulating.

snap8He was dressed in layers and I asked him if he was cold. He said the above – and I said, hmmmm…mom radar going up.

snap9I asked if he was ok and he said he was. Look at Roommate Kyle, so serious. Kyle is almost two years ahead of his roommates in the aviation program and in addition to being really smart, he also studies a lot. Hopefully he’s rubbing off on the rest of them and I also hope he’s recovered from the blistering from our trip to San Juan.

snap13Aha, now we know what’s really behind all the snaps. Poor boy.

snap11This is when I texted him. Snaps will only allow short messages to be posted, I had a lot of medical advice to give him so I sent him a list of things for him to do to help recover from his fever. This explains the sweater vest on top of flannel.

snap10And apparently they are also doing crafts.

snap12This was random, but I’m glad he has friends, after all, he’s stuck in North Dakota. Hi Myz!

snap15These two are going star gazing. How cute is that?

snap14This isn’t the best way to communicate but can be fun. It is a little frustrating when the image disappears so quickly, sometimes my mind hasn’t even comprehended what I’m looking at before it disappears. I’ve also missed a lot of screen shots because my fingers can’t work the camera fast enough. But I’ll do it because I get to see what he’s up to in real time. It’s actually neat.

Happy Snap Chatting you happy Snap Chatterers out there!

September 24, Decoy

sep23bI’ll start this post with a little bit of an apology – some counselor somewhere is probably reading way too much into that – The settings on these next photos are not perfect, but I didn’t have time to fiddle with it.

I was driving by this pond and slammed on my brakes when I saw this heron. I was on a golf course, so I thought perhaps he was a decoy, he stood so still.

I grabbed the only camera I had handy, my Nikon D40 and I began to snap away.  He stood there for several minutes, not moving so I got out of my car, leaving the engine running and the driver door open. I wanted to get closer.

sep23cHe saw me coming and flew away.

I knew then he was real, not just a golf course decoy. One day I’ll get the perfect heron photo. I love these graceful but elusive birds – they are so elegant.

Happy Outdoor Wednesday!

Pad Thai Recipe

padthai0A couple of weeks ago I was in the throes of cooking – and I was in heaven. I don’t make pad Thai very often, perhaps because some ingredients, namely the tamarind, can be difficult to find so some pre-planning is involved. There’s a lot a lot of chopping – and though it’s a dish that takes some effort, it really is worth it.

I made it for the Fabulous Lisa’s surprise birthday party, there it is, in the front –

I toned down the spice because, well, I didn’t want to kill everyone’s tastes buds. You know what? People were disappointed that it wasn’t as hot as I normally make it. It’s the last time that will happen!

I attempted to photograph ingredients and cooking steps and had to piece together the photos because, well, my sous chef and photographer weren’t around to help me. That’s if I had a sous chef and photographer. One can only dream.

padthai99As it turns out, I was scheduled to demo a dish for the End Hunger Culinary School that same week and the logical dish to showcase was pad Thai. Teaching these folks is one of my favorite things to do.

I had the double duty of teaching & cooking so why I brought my camera is beyond me. It’s a habit I suppose. I was able to capture a few shots though, in spite of all the activity going on.

padthai991Pad Thai is a Thai national dish and it is commonly served as street food. It brings back so many childhood memories for me. I was excited to bring it to Maryland and to the culinary school. I love exposing people to something completely new! And even better when it’s appreciated, like these students were. One of them asked me what pad Thai meant, and well, pad means noodle in Thai, so pad Thai is – Thai noodles.

It’s just that simple. He smiled:)

What You’ll Need:
– Rice noodles (soaked)
– Tamarind pulp
– 2 Eggs
– Peppers, Chilis or chili sauce (to taste)
– 3 cloves of garlic
– fish sauce
– lime
– 2 large chicken breasts (you can also use shrimp or pork as a protein)
– 1/2 cups palm sugar (or white sugar is fine)
– chopped unsalted peanuts
– green onions
– vegetables (I like bok choy in this but you can also use green or red bell peppers)
– vegetable oil (for cooking the chicken or protein)
– black pepper (to taste)

What You Do:
The first thing you do is to soak the rice noodles for at least two hours in warm water. It will soften the noodles for cooking. It take a little bit of preparation but I promise you it’s worth it!

padthai93I actually had a half a chicken in the refrigerator so I brought that to the demo and had the students deconstruct the chicken from the bone. It was great practice for them!

padthai96Let the chopping begin!

Chop the chicken into small pieces and set aside. Then in a separate area and on another chopping board, chop the vegetables and green onions and set aside.

Beat the eggs together and set to the side. I don’t have a photo of this – don’t forget this step!

padthai95Mince the garlic. I prefer to use a garlic press but I didn’t bring one that day so I asked the student to chop the garlic very fine.

padthai91Garlic – it’s the stuff of life. I love it and can’t live without it.

padthai92My friend Kathy-girl gave me a bunch of peppers and I brought some to put into the dish, not knowing how hot they were. And they were hot! A great surprise for the students!

padthai9After all the chopping is done, and the mis en place is set (I love that word), let’s start the cooking!

padthai94Put the chicken, garlic and black pepper to taste into a hot wok and cook with a little bit of oil. When the chicken is done, place into a dish and put it to the side.

padthai992In the same wok or pan, cook the tamarind and palm sugar together. I don’t have a photo of the tamarind packaging and I’ll have to do a more comprehensive post on it later. I promise to link it here when I do!

If you have chilis then this is where you would add it – right into the sauce.

padthai993This is what the palm sugar looks like. I get it in a block and just chip pieces off that I need. If this seems a little task intensive to you, just go ahead and purchase it in granules or use white sugar. I just love the taste of this in this form, but I understand if you don’t want to go through the work of breaking it up. It’s pretty concentrated.

padthai7After you cooking the tamarind and sugar together on high heat for about 2 minutes, add the rice noodle and stir it so that the noodles are completely covered with the sauce.

padthai6Don’t let it cook too long because it will get soggy! I told the students to stir quickly, there’s no lollygagging in stir fry cooking! After the noodles are covered thoroughly with the sauce, add the cooked chicken back into the wok and stir quickly to mix the noodles and chicken together.

IMPORTANT – I don’t have a photo of this. After the noodles and the chicken are mixed together, move the mixture to one side of the pan and add the beaten eggs (remember this was part of the mis en place!). Slowly fold the noodles and chicken over the eggs and cook until the eggs are done. Remember to stir, stir, stir.

padthai5Then quickly add your vegetables. Here I used bok choy and shitake mushrooms. This is also where you would add the fresh peppers to taste if you have any.

padthai4Then add the green onions and you guessed it, stir quickly.

padthai995Add the chopped peanuts right to the dish. In this version (the one I made for Fabulous Lisa’s party), I have red bell peppers and bean sprouts in the pad Thai. Note: if you use bean sprouts, do not over cook them. There’s nothing worse than soggy bean sprouts. Trust me.

padthai996On another side note: I crush the peanuts in a blender. I used to use a mortar and pestle to do this but this is much easier. Technology is fantastic!

padthai8Once everything is mixed and heated thoroughly, take it off the heat and put it in a large bowl.

padthai3It’s heavy so it will take a couple of students to do this – or you can just lift weights . . .

padthai2Oh it looks delicious!

padthai1Pour some fish sauce and lime juice over the pad Thai and serve immediately while it’s hot.

I’m so proud of these students! They are working hard to learn a new skill and make a new life for themselves. And they loved the pad Thai! I think it offered them a great taste of Asian cooking. Hopefully some of them will get hooked.

Go ahead and try it!