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Volume 17   Number 8        No. 7    No. 6    No. 5    No. 4    No. 3    No. 2   No. 1

  THIS WEEK'S FEATURES AND RECIPES:

    >  Article: Fiery Stew, Exotic Flavors

    >  Food Funnies: Things Celebrities Order When Eating Out

       S E L E C T E D    R E C I P E S :

    * Red Lobster Parrot Bay Coconut Shrimp
        
    * Crock Pot Pork Chops and Gravy
        
    * Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
        
    * Bootlegger's Beef
        
    * Barley and Lamb Stew
        
    * Herbes de Provence Potato Gratin
        
    * Caramelized Leek Soup
        
    * Strawberry Streusel Muffins

     Healthy Eating:

    Low Carb: Lamb Parmesan

    Diabetic: Apple-Cheddar Popovers

    Low Fat: Fiesta Skillet Spaghetti

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  This Week's Cooking Tips
  ========================

 * To make your own corn meal mix: combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup 
   all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons baking 
   powder. You can store it in a tightly covered container for 
   up to 6 months.

 * A Perfect Pastry Crust? In your favorite recipe, substitute a 
   4:1 ratio of lard:butter

 * When slicing a hard boiled egg, try wetting the knife just before 
   cutting. If that doesn't do the trick, try applying a bit of 
   cooking spray to the edge.

 * When mincing garlic, sprinkle on a little salt so the pieces won't
   stick to your knife or cutting board. More Cooking Tips

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  This Week's Culinary Quiz (Answer at the bottom of page)

    Imagine you are in Mexico, and a restaurant is offering
   Tortas Ahogadas, and you are singing with a mariachi group in
   this city. What city would you be in?

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  Quote of the Week:

   "Swearing is industry language. For as long as we're alive it's
    not going to change. You've got to be boisterous to get results.

    - Gordon Ramsay

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    UPCOMING FOOD HOLIDAYS:

        February is: Berry Fresh in the Sunshine State Month 
                     National Snack Food Month 
                     Canned Food Month 
                     North Carolina Sweet Potato Month 
                     Great American Pies Month 
                     National Grapefruit Month 
                     National Cherry Month 
                     National Potato Month 
                     Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month

           February 21 - National Sticky Bun Day
           February 22 - National Margarita Day 
           February 23 - National Banana Bread Day 
           February 24 - National Tortilla Chip Day 
           February 25 - National Chocolate Covered Peanuts Day 
           February 26 - National Pistachio Day 
           February 27 - National Kahlua Day 
           February 28 - National Chocolate Souffle Day

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  FREE E-COOKBOOKS!

   Get 14 Sample E-Cookbooks Absolutely FREE!

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     Fiery Stew, Exotic Flavors
       by John Havel

  One of the most enjoyable parts of travel is to taste the foods
 that are indigenous to different countries and cultures. If you
 judge Mexican food by local restaurants you would miss the incredible
 variety of moles of Oaxaca, for example. The stews of Hunan province
 are not served in Chinese restaurants and African food is hard to
 find outside of large cities.

  But traveling to all these regions to sample these wonderful
 cuisines is near impossible, so we turn to cookbooks. Traditionally,
 West African dishes are real mouth-blisterers. In fact, some of them
 are so hot that they make spicy Indian food seem bland by comparison.
 African recipes, like this one, have to be severely toned down for
 western palettes.

  Peanut flavor is prominently featured in this dish. You may have
 seen recipes for "groundnut" stew. Groundnut is a traditional name
 for a peanut and relates to how the peanut grows; on a vine that
 buries its pods into the ground. In West African cuisine, peanuts
 can be found in just about anything, from soups and stews to
 garnishes, snacks and pounded into a paste.

  A typical meal in West Africa is heavy on starchy foods, light on
 meat, generous on fat and commonly cooked in one pot. Other than
 that, the most telling characteristic of an African dish is heat.
 Equatorial climates all tend to encourage the use of chilis, as
 these hot foods produce the effect of "gustatory sweating" resulting
 in an overall cooling effect.

  The basis of this recipe is so globally widespread, it has evolved
 to include the various ingredients native to the new regions. After
 all, most stews are very adaptable making additions and substitutions
 easy. You can include okra, carrots, tomatoes ... pretty much any
 vegetable and substituting the chicken for beef, pork, or lamb will
 certainly work.

  West African Stew
  =================
    3 tablespoons peanut oil
    1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut in bite
      sized pieces
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 or 2 habanaro peppers, seeded and diced
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 1/2 cups chicken stock
    1 large sweet potato, cut in 3/4" cubes
    3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy Natural is very tasty)
    1 (15 oz.) can chick peas, rinsed and drained
    1/4 cup cilantro, choppped

  In a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, heat 2 tablespoons
 oil over medium high heat. Add chicken, and brown quickly. Remove
 chicken from pot. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Reduce heat to medium low,
 and add garlic, onions and habanaro peppers; saute 2 to 3 minutes.
 Season with cumin, black pepper, and salt.

  Mix in chicken stock, sweet potato, and browned chicken, plus any
 accumulated juices. Place lid on Dutch oven and simmer, stirring
 occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove lid, and stir in the
 peanut butter and chick peas. Make sure the peanut butter is blended
 in. Replace lid and simmer for 10 more minutes, or until chicken is
 cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in cilantro.
 Remove from heat, adjust seasoning, and serve with hot white rice.

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   Food Funnies
   ============

    Things Celebrities Order When Eating Out:

  9. Lady Gaga: Turkey with dressing. Salad with dressing. Just
     lots of dressing in general.

  8. Martha Stewart: Finger sandwiches that she makes the kitchen
     redo until they are all *precisely* the same size.

  7. Sarah Palin: Half-Baked Alaska.

  6. Andrew Zimmerman: Last week’s special that spoiled three days ago.

  5. William Shatner: Ham. Uncured, old-fashioned ham.

  4. Arnold Schwarzenegger: California mussels surrounded by a
     bunch of nuts in a fiscal reduction.

  3. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: An Argentinian tart.

  2. Donald Trump: Some kind of light-brown squirrel with ... no,
     wait, that’s just something that fell on his plate.

     ... and the #1 Thing Celebrities Order When Eating Out ...

  1. Rush Limbaugh: Fried chicken wings, but right wings ONLY. 

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  Red Lobster Parrot Bay Coconut Shrimp
  =====================================
  Dipping Sauce:
    1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
    1/4 cup pina colada nonalcoholic drink mix
    1/4 cup crushed pineapple (canned)
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  Shrimp:
    6-8 cups canola oil (as required by fryer)
    12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1/2 pound)
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup milk
    2 tablespoons Captain Morgan Parrot Bay coconut rum
    1 cup panko Japanese-style bread crumbs
    1/2 cup flaked coconut

  Prepare pina colada dipping sauce first by combining all the
 ingredients. Cover this and let it chill out in the fridge while you
 make the shrimp.

  Heat oil to 350F. Measure 3/4 cup of flour into a medium bowl. In
 another medium bowl mix together the remaining 3/4 cup flour, sugar,
 and salt. Stir milk and rum into this flour mixture. Let this batter
 stand for five minutes.

  While the batter rests, combine panko breadcrumbs and shredded
 coconut into a third medium bowl. Butterfly cut each shrimp before
 you start the battering: Use a sharp knife to slice through the top
 of the shrimp (where the vein was) so that you can spread the shrimp
 open. Leave the tail intact.

  To batter the shrimp, dip each one in the flour, then the wet
 batter, then coat each shrimp with the panko/coconut mixture. Arrange
 the shrimp on a plate until all of them are battered. Fry the shrimp
 by dropping six at a time into the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or
 until the shrimp are golden brown. Remove shrimp to a rack or paper
 towels to drain.

  Serve shrimp with pina colada dipping sauce on the side, along with
 a small dish of your favorite salsa.

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  Crock Pot Pork Chops and Gravy
  ==============================
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    6 lean boneless pork chops (1 in. thick)
    1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  Combine first four ingredients in a shallow dish. Dredge chops in
 flour mixture and set aside. Combine what is left of the flour
 mixture with the chicken broth and pour into your crock pot.

  Pour oil into a large skillet and cook the chops in hot oil until
 browned on both sides. Place chops in crock pot and cook covered on
 High for about 4 to 5 hours or until tender. Season with salt and
 pepper to taste. Serve with hot rice or mashed potatoes.

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  Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
  ==========================
    2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
    4 ounces linguine, cooked al dente
    2 teaspoons cajun seasoning 
    2 tablespoons butter 
    1 thinly sliced green onion 
    1-2 cups heavy whipping cream 
    2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes 
    1/4 teaspoon salt 
    1/4 teaspoon dried basil 
    1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 
    1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 

  Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl and toss to coat. In a
 large skillet over medium heat, saute chicken in butter or margarine
 until chicken is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

  Reduce heat add green onion, heavy cream, tomatoes, basil, salt,
 garlic powder, black pepper and heat through. Pour over hot linguine
 and toss with Parmesan cheese.

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  Bootlegger's Beef
  =================
    1 2-pound butt-end beef tenderloin roast, well trimmed
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 cup chopped onions
    1 cup chopped carrots
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 cup beef broth
    1/3 cup whisky
    1 tablespoon all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
    1/3 cup whipping cream
    2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns

  Preheat oven to 400F. Pat beef tenderloin dry with paper towels.
 Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in heavy large
 ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add beef to skillet and cook
 until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add chopped onions,
 carrots and thyme to skillet.

  Transfer skillet to oven and roast beef until meat thermometer
 inserted into thickest part registers 120F for rare, stirring
 vegetables occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer beef to platter.
 Tent with foil to keep warm.

  Place skillet with vegetables over medium-high heat. Add beef broth
 and whisky and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil
 until liquid is reduced to 2/3 cup, stirring occasionally, about
 7 minutes. Strain sauce and return to skillet.

  Mix flour and butter in small bowl until smooth paste forms. Add
 to sauce in skillet and whisk until well blended. Add whipping cream,
 crushed black peppercorns and any accumulated juices from beef.
 Simmer over medium heat until sauce thickens, whisking constantly,
 about 3 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt. Cut beef into
 thick slices and arrange on platter. Spoon sauce over.

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  Barley and Lamb Stew
  ====================
    2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into
      bite-size pieces
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
    3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
    1 cup barley grits
    4 cups chicken broth
    2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano

  In a medium mixing bowl, toss the lamb with the salt, pepper and
 flour. Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven
 set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add half of the lamb,
 and brown on all sides, approximately 7 to 8 minutes total. Remove
 the lamb to a bowl and repeat with the remaining oil and lamb.
 Remove the second batch of lamb to the bowl and add the carrots to
 the pot. Saute the carrots for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 Return all of the lamb to the pot along with the grits and stir to
 combine. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling,
 decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or
 until the liquid is absorbed and the lamb and grits are tender. Five
 minutes before the stew is finished, add the oregano. Taste for
 seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve in bowls.

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  Herbes de Provence Potato Gratin
  ================================
    3 pounds russet (Idaho) potatoes, peeled
    1 tablespoon butter, softened
    2 cups half-and-half
    2 to 3 garlic cloves, smashed
    1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups grated Gruyere, packed

  Preheat the oven to 400F. Peel and wash the potatoes and slice them
 really thinly using a plastic mandoline. Generously butter a 12-inch
 ovenproof baking or gratin dish (about 2 1/2 to 3-quarts).

  In a small saucepan, bring the half-and-half, garlic cloves and
 herbes de Provence to a simmer. Season, to taste, with salt and
 pepper. Remove the garlic cloves. Set aside.

  Arrange the potatoes in an overlapping layer on the bottom of the
 dish. Season the layer generously with salt and pepper. Scatter
 lightly with some of the grated cheese. Make another potato and
 cheese layer, finishing with a most generous cheesing. Press the
 layers down gently. Pour the half-and-half mixture over the potato
 layers and fill the dish up to the top of the potatoes. Cover the
 dish loosely with foil so it is not touching the cheese on top and
 bake 30 minutes, uncover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until
 the cheese is bubbly and nicely browned. Let cool for 20 to 30
 minutes before serving. 

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  Caramelized Leek Soup
  =====================
    2 pounds leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 bunches)
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
    1/4 cup vermouth
    3 1/2 cups chicken broth
    finely sliced fresh chives for garnish

  Halve leeks lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise. In a large bowl
 of cold water wash leeks well and lift from water into a large sieve
 to drain. In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook leeks in butter over
 moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until some begin to turn
 golden, about 40 minutes. Stir in sugar and cook, stirring
 occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in vermouth and cook, stirring
 occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and most leeks are golden,
 10 to 15 minutes. Deglaze kettle with 1/2 cup broth and cook,
 stirring occasionally, 10 minutes more, until liquid is evaporated
 and leeks are deep golden. Add remaining 3 cups broth and bring soup
 just to a boil. Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve soup
 garnished with chives.

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  Strawberry Streusel Muffins
  ===========================
    1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
    2/3 cup granulated sugar 
    2 teaspoons baking powder 
    1/2 cup milk 
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
    1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped and tossed lightly in
    2 tablespoons flour

  Streusel:
    1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans 
    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
    2 tablespoons butter, melted

  Strawberry Butter:
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 cup confectioners' sugar 
    1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries 
    1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans 

  Preheat oven to 375F. Grease bottom and sides of an 18 cup muffin
 tin. Mix together ingredients for streusel and set aside. Mix 
 together for the muffins the flour, sugar, and baking powder.
 Separately, mix together the milk, melted butter, beaten eggs and
 vanilla. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.
 Fold in lightly floured chopped strawberries. Pour mixture into
 prepared muffin tins and top with streusel mixture. Bake at 375F
 for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

  Allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes before trying to remove them
 fom the pan (or they will stick). Finish cooling muffins on a wire
 rack. To make strawberry butter, mix together thoroughly the soft
 butter and powdered sugar. Fold in the strawberries and toasted
 pecans. Chill until needed and soften before serving on split
 muffins.

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   This Week's Culinary Quiz Answer: Guadalajara

  Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico, and is very
 famous for three things; its beautiful women, its tasty tequila,
 and of course Tortas Ahogadas.

  If you ask for a torta in Mexico you will get a snack. Tortas
 Ahogadas are made with a piece of bread, beef, and they're "drowned"
 in chile pasilla sauce. That's how it got its name. The bread and
 the meat are soaked in a very spicy sauce.

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