Deviled ham salad

-1/2 pound ham, diced then re-diced until it’s nearly shredded.

-2 scallions, sliced thin

-1 heaping teaspoon prepared Grey Poupon dijon mustard. No other brand is acceptable

-two tablespoons mayonnaise. Only two brands are acceptable: Hellmann’s or Duke’s

-1 teaspoon Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce.

-1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/8 teaspoon cayenne

-1/4 teaspoon salt

-Several big fuckin’ grinds of black pepper

Whisk liquid ingredients together into a dressing. Add diced ham, scallions and mix well to coat. Taste and adjust spiciness.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or better yet, overnight.

Tuna-Noodle Casserole

This is trashy American comfort food and it is very fine. You can vary how rich it is by the kind of milk you use (whole, low fat, skim) and how much mayonnaise you add. Yes, mayonnaise. Do not even.

Ingredients

-2 cans cream of mushroom soup
-1.5 cups milk
-1/4 – 1/2 cup mayonnaise
-1 pound egg noodles, cooked until still firm, set aside
-1.5 cups frozen or fresh peas
-miscellaneous leftover veggies if you have on hand; chopped carrots are good
-parmesan
-Salad Supreme seasoning (McCormick’s brand in the US; otherwise celery seed, salt, pinch cayenne, orange peel, black pepper, salt, sesame seeds. Or whatever.)
2 cans albacore tuna (10-12 ounces)

Technique

The theory here is the same as for creamy macaroni and cheese—-never bake the entire casserole with noodles in it. Prepare it on the stove top then briefly broil to get a nice crumb crust on top.

Put soup in saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in milk and several dashes Salad Supreme. Heat until it can be whisked smooth, then add peas. Return to simmer and stir, adding other veggies if you have them. Cook until peas are tender, then add tuna and mix. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, put cooked egg noodles in very large bowl or pan. After the sauce has cooled slightly, whisk in mayonnaise. Add sauce to cooked noodles and stir, thinning with milk if necessary. Adjust seasoning.

Put on oven broiler. Pour noodles into lightly greased casserole dish. Top with parmesan, Salad Supreme or paprika. Place under broiler just long enough to give a golden crust, no longer than 4 minutes.

Zucchini Relish, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Squash

This is the time of year in the Pacific Northwest (where I call home) that zucchini, yellow squash, and other summer squashes become the reason why neighbors and family begin avoiding each other. A single zucchini plant can produce so much fruit that it’s not only impossible for a single person to use it all themselves, it’s impossible to even give it away right now because everyone is trying to give away their excess. If you had hearts in your eyes as a mid-winter dreamer of gardens and foolishly seeded more than one plant, then you are in even worse straits; it’s likely that your local food bank won’t even answer the doorbell when you ring, now.

However, I have discovered a partial solution, and it’s a good one: zucchini relish. It’s easy to make, easy to preserve (if you enjoy canning), delicious, and it works for any food that you might use pickle relish on. (Think meats: hot dogs, hamburgers, etc., but it works equally well on veggie burgers and even with crispy fried tofu.)

There are a huge number of recipes for zucchini relish out there, but this is the one that I’ve settled on, after a bit of modification. It’s sweet, but not overly sweet. It keeps in the refrigerator for a few weeks, and probably a couple of years after being canned. I cannot comment on that second assertion since I devour it long before it gets to its first birthday, no matter how much I make.

The offending fruits

The offending fruits

Sweet Zucchini Relish

  • 12 cups shredded summer squash (I use a food processor)
  • 4 cups chopped onion (I use a Vidalia ChopWizard)
  • 5 tablespoons salt (I use salt *snerk*)
  • 1 red bell pepper (optional: just for color)
  • 1 green bell pepper (optional: just for colour, for my UK friends)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
  • fresh ground black pepper (amount to your liking)
  1. Place the shredded squash in a large bowl, and add the salt. Mix with your hands until it’s evenly mixed. The squash will immediately start shedding liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the squash. Squeeze out as much water as you can from the remaining solids.  (Rinsing is important: the salt was there to get the liquid out of the solids; you don’t want the salt in the final product, at least not in that amount. What salt remains will be perfect for enhancing the flavor.) Add in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

At this point, your relish is done. You can pack it into jars and refrigerate and eat, or you can freeze it, or you can can it. It’s really just that simple. If you decide to can it, here are the remaining (incredibly uncomplicated & standard) steps:

  1. Pack relish into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  2. Use a knife to skim the insides of the jar to remove any bubbles.
  3. Wipe the top of the jars to get rid of any moisture or solid bits.
  4. Put on a fresh lid and place in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes.

A pint of canned zucchini relish. This EXACT pint is going into the mail to grace Josh SpokesGay’s table.

And that’s all there is to it. The great thing about this recipe is that it takes a nutritious and delicious fruit, summer squash, which has a very short raw shelf-life, and turns it into something that you can use for months or even years.

The World’s Second-Best Chicken Wing Recipe

First off, the World’s Best Chicken Wing Recipe is finished on the grill with indirect heat and plenty of mesquite smoke. These are finished in the oven. Anyhoo… two parts. Part the first is the chicken wings, part the second is the sauce.

To start with the wings, either start with pre-cut party wings or cut up wings yourself (reserving the tips for chicken stock later.) Rinse the chicken, pat it dry, and lay the pieces out on a cookie sheet. Cover the pieces in plenty of salt and stick in the fridge for around an hour. You’re going to pat the salt off when you’re done, and this should make the skin nice and dry. Dry skin=crispy skin.

chickenwings1

This is a good time for you to mix up your dipping sauce, start strategerizing your glaze, or get a couple of brews on ice. I’m having ranch-flavored Greek yogurt(with a couple of tablespoons of mayo) and a couple of hours of flavors marrying is a good idea. Traditional buffalo wing sauce recipes are all over, but I’m doing something a little different, a little special. If you like your wings a little more simple, you can season them with your favorite powered seasoning or seasoned salt immediately AFTER frying.

My glaze looks more or less like this:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (of your choice)
  • dash of Worcestershire
  • splash of lime juice

chickenwings2

If you have a blind swordsman handy, you can prank him with the hot sauce and then he’ll kick your sorry ass.

Deep fry them wings now! Not too many at once and with a break in between so the oil doesn’t cool down. The worst thing you can do when you’re frying food is not having the oil at the proper temperature. Each batch goes about 8-10 minutes and then on a paper towel to drain, followed by being tossed in the glaze.

chickenwings3

chickenwings4

When you’re close to done frying, preheat the oven to 400°. Put the wings in a pan or on a cookie sheet covered with foil, and finish in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. Here’s what you get at the end of it:

chickenwings5

Any questions? Ask and I’ll tell. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of the honey-soaked heat of these amazing chicken wings!

BTW, the hot sauce that I used is called Green Heat, made by Spicy Caribbee from Puerto Rico. They have a shop in Old San Juan, and you can order online at www.spicycaribbee.com.

My wife is a big fan of chicken wings done right, and she has been yelling for the last 30 minutes that these are the best damn chicken wings she’s ever eaten in her whole life!

Chilled Pea Salad

Ingredients:

1 lb peas
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. flour
3/4 cup Greek/strained yogurt
2 tsp. dill
1 oz feta cheese
2 scallions/spring onions, diced
Squeeze of lemon juice

Technique:

Simmer peas in a saucepan until tender. Drain water, return to pan. Add salt and dill. Meanwhile, whisk flour into half and half until smooth. Turn heat on low and stir flour/milk mixture into peas. Stir gently until heated through and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and put in glass bowl. Refrigerate until cool.

Stir in yogurt along with scallions and feta. Refrigerate at least one hour (longer is better).

To serve: stir in one squeeze of fresh lemon.

Mayonnaise as good as Duke’s

I am an unapologetic fanboi of mayonnaise. I love the shit. I love it so much I’d marry it if that were legal in my state. This recipe is the best I’ve had aside from Duke’s, the last commercial mayonnaise that doesn’t add sugar. Sadly, Duke’s can only be bought in the south of the US. Before discovering Duke’s, I was a Hellmann’s boy. And it’s a fine mayonnaise. But I think this is better. And it’s dirt cheap to make.

Equipment
-A stand mixer OR a hand-held electric mixer OR a blender into which you can pour liquids while it runs.

Ingredients

1.5 – 2 cups canola oil or other light, flavorless oil

1 whole egg
4 tsps. white vinegar. No, not apple cider, not rice, and for god’s sake not balsamic. White. Vinegar.
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried, ground mustard
1 tablespoon French’s Yellow prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Technique
Whip egg, salt, dried mustard, prepared yellow mustard, cayenne, and vinegar with two tablespoons of the oil. Scrape bowl. Put mixer on highest setting and add a thin stream of oil until mayonnaise turns thick and white. Every now and again stop the mixer to scrape the bowl. Whip and add oil until the mayonnaise is your preferred consistency. The more the oil, the heavier and also the whiter.

EXPECT this to take at least 10 to 15 minutes. Do not rush adding the oil or it could break.

The last spreadable butter you’ll ever need

Don’t ever buy whipped butter, spreadable butter, or half-fat margarine again. This recipe does it all, it’s easy, and it’s cheap.

Equipment
-A stand mixer OR a hand-held electric mixer

Ingredients
-(scalable—this recipe uses 1/4 cup for each part. You can make more or less with the same proportions)
-2 parts butter, at room temperature, sliced into chunks (1 stick=1/2 cup=2 parts)
-1 part greek yogurt, room temperature
-1 part flavorless oil, such as canola, corn, etc.
-1 part water
-1/4 teaspoon salt. Plain, granulated salt. Not some fancy chunky shit that won’t dissolve.

Technique
KEEP MIXER RUNNING THROUGHOUT EXCEPT WHEN SCRAPING BOWL.
Place butter in mixer bowl. Whip on high until butter is totally smooth and liquid. Scrape bowl as needed throughout. Pour in oil at a medium pace; don’t dump it in, but you don’t have to trickle it either.  Pour water in, whip until smooth. When mixed, spoon in greek yogurt a spoonful at a time. Whip until smooth on highest speed. You’ll end up with something that looks like butter frosting or soft whipped cream.

Pour into glass container and refrigerate.

This “margarine” sets up firm when cooled, yet spreads right out of the fridge. It’s delicious and tastes real, not fake, like commercial products. Bonus—it has half the total fat, half the saturated fat, and about half the calories of plain butter.

Chilled Cream of Broccoli

This is my new favorite soup. Using low-fat dairy products, believe it or not, doesn’t detract from the taste. It’s savory and refreshing, with only a moderate amount of dairy fat per serving.

For a vegan version, substitute almond milk and non-dairy yogurt of your choice. You may need to add a squeeze of lemon at the end.

Ingredients
1 or 2 heads of broccoli, chopped (reserve 1/3 separately)
1 cup vegetable stock (or water, but not chicken stock. It doesn’t taste right.)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 scallions, chopped (reserve 1/3 separately)
Salt to taste
Optional: fresh herbs you have on hand. Dill is very nice.

Technique

Add 2/3 broccoli and scallions, garlic, veg. stock, milk, butter, and salt to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until broccoli is just past the tender-crisp stage. Still green but on the way to soft. Taste and adjust salt so that it tastes perfect and does not need additional salt at the table.

Meanwhile, microwave/steam the reserved broccoli just until it’s crisp and still bright green.

Remove soup from heat and let cool a bit. Then pour into blender and puree. Remember to start the blender on low as hot liquid easily splashes up. Stir in greek yogurt and remaining 1/3 broccoli. Garnish with remainder of scallions.

This is absolutely delicious chilled, and good at room temperature. I wouldn’t heat it too much after the addition of the yogurt for fear of curdling.

 

Veggie/Vegan sausage and greens with pasta

One of my favorite dishes is orecchiette (little ears) pasta in a broth with garlic, hot sausage, and broccoli rabe. It’s Italian-American comfort food I first encountered in college. I’m happy to say my experiment doing it vegetarian/vegan was a success! This is a dish I’ve never known anyone to dislike.

A bitter green brassica-type vegetable is a requirement. Don’t substitute something mild like plain broccoli; it won’t work.

Any time you see a dairy product, just substitute your vegan version if you like. I did the first batch all vegan except that I added parmesan at the end. The vegan stuff was delicious all by itself, though.

Ingredients

2 links Field Roast brand vegan sausage. The chorizo works great, but so does the milder stuff. This fake meat is good and chewy

4 good-sized cloves garlic, minced

1 head broccoli rabe chopped into bite-sized pieces ~or~ same amount of chopped kale, fresh or frozen

3 cups veggie broth (reconstituted from powder, canned, or from your freezer bin of vegetable stock odds and ends)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt to taste

Olive oil for sauteeing/dressing

Cooked pasta—the classic shape is orecchiette. Farfalle (bow ties) and penne rigate work, too.

Technique

Chop Field Roast sausage to desired texture. . .sorta like ground sausage. Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, add sausage and brown to a crisp, stirring as necessary. Add 1/2 cup broth, scrape pan, then add in minced garlic and crushed red pepper. Reduce for about a minute.

Add greens and remaining veggie broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a medium simmer, and stir. Cover and cook for three-five minutes. Remove cover, taste broth, and adjust seasonings. It may want a squeeze of lemon juice and a glug of olive oil.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente and no softer. Drain, put back in pan. Add broth/veggie/sausage mixture to pasta and heat through quickly, stirring. It’s best to do this in portions, rather than putting all the sauce on all the pasta at once. That makes for soggy leftovers.

Taste and give final garnish of olive oil or salt if necessary. Vegetarians add parm/romano. Vegans add nootch and hot sauce.

Golden Nuggets (frikkin’ scrumptious fake chicken nuggets)

Humans like fried foods, right? Vegans and vegetarians should not be deprived of this delicious treat. This is my version of the tastiest damned fake meat chicken nuggets I’ve ever had. My friend Sarah took me to this awesome vegan restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. They have hearty diner food down to an art. Seriously yo. If you have a Loving Hut franchise in your area, run, don’t walk. It’s seriously good and carnivores will love it.

Note—Loving Hut is a total hippy transcendental freak cult, but the food is great and the staff don’t push it. How awful can a freakish vegan cult of non-violence be anyway? LH is presided over by this lady who calls herself supreme master Ching Hai who publishes books of herself ‘shopped with all manner of lap dogs. Just sayin’.

Ingredients
Seitan (see basic seitan recipe)
1 cup flour
1/3 cup bread crumbs (whole wheat are great)
1 tbsp garlic powder
½ tsp cayenne or other hot pepper
1 Shit-ton of ground black pepper (this is the key to a “fried chicken” style breading)
½ tsp salt

Technique
Cut your seitan into strips, chunks, cutlets, whatever. Dunk in buttermilk, or plain milk, or water, then coat thoroughly in breading. Buttermilk—or yogurt cut with milk or water—gives a nice tang, but it’s not essential if you don’t have it on hand. Really press the seitan down into the breading and make sure it’s thoroughly coated.

Allow seitan to air dry for at least 20 minutes. This is key to a good, consistent crust that doesn’t flake off or get greasy.

Bring several inches of oil to frying temperature in a saucepan. Proper temperature is hot enough to crisp food and brown the breading all over in about five minutes, but without sucking up excessive oil and without smoking. You don’t need a thermometer. Here’s how to know if your oil’s ready. Drop a small piece of seitan in. It should start to bubble, but not too vigorously. It ought to take about 30-45 seconds for the piece to start browning. If it’s too fast or slow, adjust accordingly. With practice on your own stove with your own pans, you’ll get it.

Fry in small-medium batches, turning seitan over during cooking. Remove and drain/blot well on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce.