Wiener piglets

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Another guest post by Sander.

(btw, Sander’s opinion on ketchup is not mine!!!)

Wieners – or hot dogs, as they are known in the United States – are nice-tasting fully cooked sausages. You can do about ten thousand foods with them – use as a meat in salads, boil, fry with eggs, make sandwiches… sky is the limit!

But since childhood, my favorite way of making wieners is wiener piglets – incredibly easy to make, great-tasting and great-looking food. I think half of my relatives come to the parties held at my parents just to get cheese’n’mayo sandwiches and wiener piglets…

Wiener piglets are especially popular with kids – they look good (click on the picture to see larger version), have a funny name and taste great. And – kids can actually help to make them.

But how?

You take the sausage, cut a small cross in the end – about an inch deep – and put to hot oven (around 200..250 degrees Celsius). Depending on the type of sausages, they will take 10 to 20 minutes until ready – when the puffy ends start to get brown, they are done.

And that is it, all ready to eat. You can have them separately or as a side dish for salad/rice/potatoes. If you have crappy sausages or dead taste buds, you can use ketchup or mayo on them.

Turkey, Avocado, Spinach and Bleu Cheese Flatbread Sandwiches

This is one of my favorite leftover turkey recipes.  It’s simple, quick and yummy.  I always make sure I have acocados, spinach and cheese in the house, just for leftovers from Thanksgiving.

I first made these one year when we had “leftover” Thanksgiving guests — they stayed for the weekend.  I needed something simple, because I was literally all cooked out from the day before.  I didn’t have flatbread, and instead used tortillas, but these were a big hit with everyone.

The recipe is a fluid one — it can be changed easily, depending upon what you have left from the big meal.  The last time I made this, I used leftover salad – lettuce, diced carrots, onions, tomatoes, black olives – in place of the spinach, tomato, onion that is in the recipe below.  It was one less thing to have to prep.

The recipe for flatbread is included below — literally, and I’m not kidding – 5-7 minutes prep, 6-10 minutes cooking, and these are ready.  They are quick, and so simple.  And once you make them, you really will be amazed at how often you will add them into your recipes, replacing sliced bread, or tortillas.

Oh, I can’t wait for this!!!

Enjoy!

Turkey, Avocado, Spinach and Bleu Cheese Flatbread Sandwiches

2 cups cooked turkey
2 green onions, chopped
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/3 red onion, minced
1/3 vinaigrette
4-6 pieces of flatbread (recipe below), or tortillas
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled * see note

Gently mix the turkey, onion, tomato, onion and avocado – you don’t want the avocado to become mush.  Add in the vinaigrette and stir gently.  To serve, put the turkey mixture into a flatbread or tortilla and top with the spinach and blue cheese.  Roll and serve.

Notes:

  • Replace the Gorgonzola with any type of bleu cheese you might like
  • Replace the Gorgonzola bleu cheese with gouda cheese, or, for that matter, almost any other kind of cheese that you may prefer
  • Use tortillas in place of the Flatbread.

Quick Flatbread

3 cups flour
1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all the ingredients, cutting in the shortening, and mix until combined and doughy.

Now, there are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces, and roll each piece into 6-8 inch circles

Or

  • Roll out the whole batch into a large rectangle.  Make a slice directly across the middle, so you have a top and bottom piece, and then cut those in 3rds, so you end up with 6 smaller squares.

Once you’ve gotten these rolled out and sized, prick the pieces with a fork — at least 7-8 times on each piece.

To cook, lightly oil a non-stick pan (Spray with Pam very lightly).  Cook over medium-high heat, and turn once.  These cook fast, so watch them carefully.  Be fully prepared to ruin the first ;)

Creamy Chilled Clam Dip

I don’t really make many appetizers on Thanksgiving — whats the point with all the amazing food that is served?  But back in the “married” days, the ex’s family would pretty much eat from sunup, to sundown.

Everything you can think of was served — all sorts of pickles – sweet, and extra sour; 10-15 different types of olives; all sorts of hard aged meats, and cheeses; breads; and all sorts of savory dips.. you name it, and it was on the table.

One thing that everyone always seemed to like was a basic cream cheese based clam dip – simple and easy to put together.  You can make this up to 2 days ahead without a problem.

Doxsee Minced Clams - 6.5oz can

Doxsee Minced Clams - 6.5oz can

There are several different types of minced clams on the market, and depending upon where you live, the availability will differ.  I tend to use the brand pictured on the right – Doxsee Minced Clams, from the The Doxsee Sea Clam Co., but use what you have around.

Creamy Chilled Clam Dip

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) minced clams, drained
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoon chili sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese until smooth.  Add in all the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving, though it tastes even better if allowed to refrigerate at least overnight.  You can, if necessary serve this right away.

Serve with crackers, or small, thin sliced breads.

Boiled fava beans – the best beer snack

Boilded beans

[ This post is written by Sander, expressing his profound love of beans and beer ;) ]

There are many  great snacks to go with beer – potato chips, cheese, various nuts, smoked ribs, pork rinds, pepper sausages and many, many more.

But in my opinion, none of them comes even close to the freshly boiled fava beans – if made in the right way. They are just horrible, if not made in the right way, so do follow my instructions!

Fava or broad beans (Vicia faba, also faba bean, horse bean, field bean, tic bean) should be readily available everywhere in the world. If you cannot find fresh beans, don’t despair – dried ones are even better.

Start by soaking thoroughly rinsed fava beans in cold water – use about three times as much water as you have beans, as they will get a whole lot bigger. You can skip the soaking – but then you’ll have to boil beans for three hours or even more. Therefore, soaking is generally A Very Good Idea.

My personal invention is to add salt to the soaking water – against all expectations, beans soak faster and salt goes into them. You should soak beans at least three or four hours, but more is better. Perhaps around 8 hours is the best.

You can try if they have been soaked enough by tasting them. If they are moist and tasty, easily chewable, then they are ready. Otherwise, soak them some more.

Rinse the beans again and put them to boiling water – you will need about twice as much water as you have beans. Immediately add salt – for one thing, it increases the boiling temperature of the water a bit and secondly, it gives salt more time to go into the beans.

It is critically important to add salt right away. Some people (like my mother) will add salt when beans are almost done – and it has no time to go into the beans. And she wonders why no one wants boiled beans when she makes them. Well, they will taste like someone has already eaten them once and they didn’t sit well in his belly…

Then add smoked pork – you don’t have to add lots or pricey meat. Meat from cheap smoked ribs or ham hocks will do just fine. It is for the taste, so half of a pound is more then enough.

I add usually also some bullion cubes – either pork or some other flavor. Remember that bullion cubes are salty – you don’t want to over salt your delicious beans.

Some people also add onion, I’ve done that occasionally but am not a big fan of it. Try both with and without, perhaps you’ll like the taste. You can also add a bit of oil or butter, that will keep the beans from cracking and make the outside layer a bit softer. If you have fatty meat, though, skip the oil.

Boil on low heat from hour to hour and a half – or even two hours, depending on the size of the beans. Try to contain your hunger for them – they will start smelling delicious loooong before they are ready.

Doesn’t hurt to taste them occasionally, though… ;)

Get rid of the leftover water and pour them into a bowl or bowls. Serve immediately – it is easiest to use just fingers for eating, but a fork is OK as well. Have plenty of nice cold beer ready… and it will be a feast to remember!

However, beans are only good for an hour or so. When they get cold, they aren’t nearly as good. You can try freezing them and heating up in a microwave later, but the resulting mushy mess does not taste anything like the golden brown food of the gods you had before. So, be careful not to make too much at once.

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(image from Wikipedia)

Garlic & Parmesan Pita Chips

 

pita_chips 

 

Garlic & Parmesan Pita Chips

2 Pita bread pockets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Salt

Heat your oven to 400F. 

Cut the pita bread into 8 triangles, and then split them apart.  Place them evenly on a baking sheet.  I like to place them inside down. pita bread

In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, garlic and salt.  Brush over one side of the pita triangles, and then sprinkle with the parmesan.

Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until the pita triangles are golden brown.  These can burn pretty easily, so keep your eye on it. 

Variations:

This is one of those recipes where the only limit is your imagination.  There are hundreds of combinations:

  • Black pepper, garlic salt, dried basil, dried chervil
    Cajun seasoning, ground cumin
    Sesame Seeds
    Prepared Italian Dressing, parmesan & sesame seeds
    Lemon Pepper & Garlic
    Basil & Pine Nuts, with Parmesan

Notes:

I like these chips as is, but they are great for all kinds of dips

Crumble these up, and use in place of croutons in salads

Creamy Bleu Cheese & Pesto Wraps (Tortilla Wraps, Part 2)

A couple of years ago when I was at a conference in the city for work, we ordered lunch from one of those “gourmet” deli’s that were everywhere at the time and I had this simply amazing sandwich.

The menu says (and yes, I took the paper menu, and once home, made note of it in my recipe journal):

“A creamy delight!! Cream cheese, blue cheese, and pesto, with roasted tomatoes and your choice of grilled chicken, or grilled zucchini, served on fresh baked focaccia”

It was served ‘New York Style’.. way too big for one person to eat, but perfect to share with 3 other people.  The 4 of us enjoyed it so much that we almost fought for the last piece.

A few days later, I started to play with the ingredients.  The first try was a bit bland, but after a few more tries over the next few weeks, I finally got what I was looking for.. something at least close to what I had from the NYC deli. 

Over the years since, I’ve played around a lot with the basic idea for this spread — everything from using Italian seasoning, to a cilantro based pesto.  This is really one of those recipes you start with, and then build upon, until you have 10 more recipes, based just upon this one.

I do like focaccia, but, to be honest, I never make, and when I do, it is still not as good as I can buy it.  The markets here all sell amazingly good focaccia, as do the pizza shops, and Italian bakeries.  But usually, I go for a tortilla .. my favorite food group ;)

Enjoy!

Creamy Bleu Cheese & Pesto Wraps

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
3-4 ounces of bleu cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup of pesto sauce (fresh is great, store bought is almost as good, usually)
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
10-12 basil leaves
black olives
Salt and Pepper to taste

Favorite addition (see below for ideas)
Flour Tortillas

Add the soft cream cheese to a bowl and mix it well until it softens a bit more and is workable.  Add in the blue cheese, pesto sauce and mix together.  Add the tomato and black olives and mix together until everything is combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the mixture thinly over the tortilla, and add your favorite meat or vegetable (see below for a list of ideas).  Add a couple of basil leaves, and roll tightly together.   Chill for about 1 hour, or eat now. 

Ideas for additions:

  • Grilled zucchini
  • Grilled portobellos
  • Grilled Tomatoes
  • Grilled Red Peppers
  • Thin sliced roast beef
  • Grilled chicken
  • Baked ham

There is really no limit as to what you can do with this recipe.

  • Use sun-dried tomatoes, instead of fresh
  • Use a tapenade instead of pesto
  • Make a pesto from cilantro, then use a soft cheese, such as jack, and mix 1/2 cup sour cream into 4 ounces of cream cheese, instead of the 8 ounces.

For another ‘Tortilla Wrap’ recipe, click here

Roast Beef Wraps – Tortilla Wraps, part 1

Growing up in the mid-western state of Nebraska – the western end, to boot, means I was around a lot of Mexican foods. Though this recipe isn’t a Mexican recipe, it does contain tortillas. Some people love sandwiches, some like bagels, some like rye bread.. I love tortillas and have tons of uses for them, other than the standard ‘beans and rice’ that tortillas are known for.

This is a simple recipe – that is the beauty of a wrap – anything goes. And here, anything really could go: Replace the roast beef with chicken, or turkey, use tomatoes in place of peppers, Vidalia onion in place of the red.. and you’ve got a totally new wrap.

Enjoy!

Amazing Roast Beef Wraps

4 small burrito sized wraps or tortillas
4 -8 ounces Roast Beef, thinly sliced
1 Roasted Red Pepper (see Recipe below)
2-3 slices Red Onion
1 bunch of sprouts
Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce (See recipe below)

Spread Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce on each wrap, and place other ingredients, to taste, on the wrap, roll to close. Serve chilled.

To store these for later, roll tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

Roasted Red Peppers

6 large red bell peppers
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
brown paper bag
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat your broiler or grill. Lightly oil the peppers with the 1 tablespoon of oil (do not seed the peppers at this point). Place on baking sheet (if using an indoor broiler), or directly on your grill. Cook peppers, turning often, until they have black spots and blister all over, and are tender to the touch. Place the peppers into the paper bag (or plastic bag, or any closed container), and seal closed. Set aside until the peppers have cooled – about 30 minutes.

Once the peppers have cooled, remove the skins by lightly peeling them, using the edge of a knife to scrape away the blackened and blistered skins. Slice the peppers and remove seeds and inner core. Rinse quickly under water, and dry well. Cut the peppers into long strips.

In a sterile jar, add salt, remaining olive oil, garlic, parsley and peppers.

You can refrigerate this for 3-4 weeks… if they last that long ;)

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce

1 Cup Sour Cream
3-4 Tablespoons Hot Horseradish (prepared)
1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
Dash Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

For another ‘Tortilla Wrap’ recipe, click here.