Classic Hummus

I like to mix things up a little, so for an appetizer, I thought I might like to make something healthy. My wife’s brother and his wife love hummus. I thought like to show them that you can make the same stuff for a lot cheaper than you can buy it, pre-packed in some plastic container at the supermarket. Also since you make it fresh at home, you know what is inside it. This also allows you to flavor it with anything you can imagine. So here goes classic hummus made in a minute when they were here.

The main ingredient is chick peas. Regular old out of the 16oz can, rinsed and drained chick peas. To that I added 6 cloves of garlic, 3 tablespoons of salt + 2 tablespoons of black pepper, 4oz of tahini paste, which is ground sesame seeds found in the super market, 2 lemons cut in half and the juice squeezed into the processor. Process on high for a few moments making sure to scrape down the sides so everything is thoroughly incorporated. You might have to add a little water if it is too thick. Adjust it to your liking. After that you should end up with something that looks like this.

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To serve, I placed some in another container had some fresh Nan bread, pita chips and some fresh vegetables arranged on a platter. Everybody was impressed by how simple and tasty it was.

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~Enjoy~

Isreal Couscous with Peppers

I like serving couscous in the summer, you don’t really have to cook it, you can make it a day ahead and you can serve at room temperature. So here is how I did it this time.

I took a red onion, red, green and yellow pepper and diced them pretty small and sautéed them in some good olive oil with some salt & pepper and chopped fresh garlic. Put that in a mixing bowl to cool while I cooked the couscous.

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I like the Israeli couscous because it is bigger than the regular one. I used two boxes this time, cooked with chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor. Cook per the instructions on the box, just be careful not to over-cook it because it will turn to mush and you really don’t want that.

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Take the freshly cooked couscous and combine it with the onion and pepper mixture. Here you might have to add a little olive oil and check your salt & pepper seasoning.

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Let it cool and then cover it and store it in the fridge.

Enjoy ~

Baked Chicken

I knew that I would be out all day at the street fair Saturday with my wife and her family. They all were coming over for dinner after so I wanted to get some of this stuff done before hand. On Wednesday I went to the store and got six whole chickens, cut the spines out and seasoned them liberally on both sides with a mixture of salt, pepper, dried chili flakes, paprika, granulated garlic and onion powder as you can see here. I wrapped them up and put in the fridge overnight.

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The following day I took the chickens out of the fridge, let them come to room temperature and par baked them in a 350F oven for 50 minutes and until they registered 160F on a meat thermometer. I know that they would carry over to 165F degrees, the safe temperature for cooked chicken. I let them cool on the counter for about an hour. Then I consolidated them in one 2 inch baking dish, wrapped them and put them in the fridge for Saturday where I would finish cooking them on the grill.

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Oh boy they were great!

Herb Crusted Scallops

Rinse under cold water and pick the muscles off the scallops, season with salt and pepper

Take bread crumbs and add to them some Italian seasoning, fresh chopped basil, marjoram, parsley. Dip the scallops into the mixture covering just the tops and bottoms and set aside.

seasoning for scallops

seasoned scallops

In a large sauté pan heated to medium high add some good oil and cook a few of the scallops a few at a time for maybe a minute or two then carefully flip them over. You are looking for a nice sear and good color; however you don’t want to cook them all the way through.

scallops cooking

When done transfer to a plate and slide them into the fridge for about ten minutes, to stop the cooking process, while you make the sauce.

As for the sauce, wipe out the pan, add a tablespoon of oil and add 1/4 of a diced sweet onion. Sauté for about 7-8 minutes. While the pan is on medium-high heat deglaze with about 1/2 cup of your favorite white wine, let it reduce for another minute or two. Add the juice of a fresh lemon. Finish the sauce by adding 1/4 cup of heavy cream, bring to a boil then lower the heat to low.

Take the scallops out of the fridge and place into the hot sauce just until they heat through; be careful not to cook them too much, you don’t want to overcook them, they will get hard and rubbery.

scallops in sauce cooking

To be fancy, plate some rice down the center of a plate, place the scallops on top and then spoon some sauce over the rice. Serve right away and enjoy.

scallops on rice

fancy pic finished plat

Enjoy

Smoked Pork

Take a 7 pound pork shoulder or also known as Boston butt, score the top fat in a checkerboard fashion and rub some of your favorite rub, or the one below, all over the meat.  Wrap up very well with plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator for 24 hours. This will allow the rub to penetrate deeply into the meat to give it good flavor when it comes time to cook it.

The rub for this meat: 1 cup of each white and brown sugar; 3/4 cup of paprika; 1/2 cup of each chili powder, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, 1/4 cup of ground cumin, granulated onion. Mix together and store in an air tight container.

seasoned pork

Set the smoker up for 225F and as a rule of thumb, it ends up being 2 hours per pound for this temp. If you need it done faster turn up smoker to 275F for about 1.5 hours per pound.

I also recommend having a digital meat thermometer with probe and cable, place it in the meat before starting to smoke it so you can track the internal temperature of the meat.

I started mine morning at 6 am with a mixture of apple wood and cherry wood chips that I soaked overnight. Went about my day cleaned the pool, went out shopping, needed potatoes to make potato salad to go with dinner, had lunch, hung out with my lovely wife, cut the grass, tended to the garden and then cooled off in the pool later that afternoon with a beer.

About 7:30 pm the meat thermometer started to ring. I set it to 195F. I open the door and what a beautiful sight and smells came racing out of the smoker! To make sure that it was truly cooked and soft I use the famous Stick a fork in it Method. Stab the meat with a fork and spin it around, if it spins freely then you really done because all meat has different thickness and densities. If the fork didn’t spin freely, it would go back in maybe for another half an hour or so until it would.

cooking pork

Now take the meat inside and cover it with aluminum foil for 1/2 hour to let the meat rest and the juices to absorb back into the meat.

cooked pork

After it rests take the bone out and with two forks shred the meat apart, but be careful it will be very hot!

pork pulled

Toast up some buns on the grill, get the potato salad out of the fridge along with your favorite BBQ sauce sit back and enjoy what you have smelt all day along with a beautiful sun set by the pool.

finished pulled pork plate

Enjoy

Spicy Shrimp and Polenta

My wife and I were discussing how much she likes grits for breakfast and I asked her if she ever has had polenta.  She said no, so I suggested that I make her some for dinner.  Dinner? As she looked at me funny, I said I bet you will like it, it would be my take on Southern shrimp and grits.  So this is what I did.

Start out with good polenta.  Make it to the directions on the package substituting one cup of water for one cup of heavy cream, add one stick of butter. Stir together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

polenta

cooking polenta

Pour off about half of the mixture into a buttered shallow pan if you have one. We are going to save that for another day. We will use this over the weekend for breakfast. Let it cool completely then cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Back to dinner now.

polenta in a pan

Take the shrimp you are having for dinner and marinate them in some olive oil, and whatever spices you like to make them spicy say some crushed red peppers, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

seasoned shrimp

With the rest of the polenta in the pot add about 2 cups of cheddar cheese and mix in until its smooth, if necessary loosen the mixture a little with some more heavy cream. You are looking for a consistency of very thick applesauce. Put the bowl off to the side over very low heat and cook the shrimp.

cooked shrimp

Heat a non stick pan to medium high, add the shrimp, and cook a few minutes a side just until done. Scoop some of the hot cheesy polenta into a bowl and top with the spicy shrimp. Serve with a nice cool glass of your favorite white wine. As for my wife she now likes polenta just as much as grits.

plated shrimp

Enjoy

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

For a nice weekend brunch or even a light weeknight dinner a quiche always works. You can change the fillings and spices to have something different every time. My wife makes the dough as she enjoys baking.

For the dough:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 4-5 tablespoons cold milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter cold – cut into small chunks
  • 4 tbsp shortening cold – broken up into small chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together. Add in, alternating, the butter and shortening into the flour. Using a dough blender or a fork, combine until the dough is coarse pebbles. Add in 4 tbsp of milk and bring the dough together in a ball, if it is still dry, add more cold milk. Take the dough and wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to chill.

Roll out the dough and place in a nine in pie plate.

peppered pie doughFor the filling:

  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan cook the bacon until crispy, place them on a paper towel to drain any excess oil. Do not discard the bacon grease left in the pan. Chop the bacon into chunks.

In the saucepan add in the onions and garlic and cook until softened. Remove from pan.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and milk. Stir in salt, pepper, onions and garlic.

eggs, onions, galic, milk

Place the egg mixture in the rolled out dough in the pie plate. Place the chopped bacon, cheese and spinach carefully in the egg mixture.

Cook at 375 F for about 35-45 minutes until eggs are set.

quiche in oven

Enjoy!

cooked quiche

plated quiche