Country Captain

April 7th, 2018

Country Captain

This wonderful chicken casserole has been in my wheel house for a long time.  I first blogged about it here.  This version came from Sam Sifton at the New York Times.  I love the addition of lots of tomatoes. But the basics of the dish are still here: chicken,curry, dried fruit, almonds, and bacon.  It is perfect for a crowd.

Country Captain

The port of Charleston saw many products from the Orient in the 18th and 19th century.  Curry powder was one of them and this dish became popular with hostesses all over the south.  FDR was very fond of Country Captain and had it served to him often in Warm Springs, Georgia.  It is best served over rice.

Country Captain

We are back in beautiful Lake Lure enjoying our home and especially my kitchen, although David was the one responsible for this delicious meal.  So glad that he loves to cook as much as I do.

COUNTRY CAPTAIN

1/4 cup flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbls butter
3 pounds chicken pieces (We used thighs and legs)
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, seeded and diced
2 tsps celery, diced
1 Tbls minced garlic
2 Tbls curry powder
3 Tbls dried cranberries or currants
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes and their juices
3 Tbls slivered almonds, toasted
Cooked white rice

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the thyme in a bowl.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until it foams.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off excess, and fry, in batches if needed, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet.

Return the skillet to medium heat, add the bacon and fry until crispy.  Transfer to a plate.  Once cool, crumble and set aside.

Add the onion, pepper, celery, garlic, curry powder and 1 tablespoon of the cranberries or currants to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof casserole large enough to hold the chicken snugly in one layer.  Arrange the chicken on top.  Pour the remaining sauce over and around the chicken.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for 15 minutes more.

Top with the crumbled bacon, remaining cranberries or currants and slivered almonds.  Serve with cooked rice and any condiments you wish.

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Mystery Bars

March 28th, 2018

Mystery Bars

Recently we hosted our dear friends for bike week in Florida.  We enjoyed many great meals together, both at home and at the great restaurants in New Smyrna Beach.  I am never alone in the kitchen when we are together.  There are many great cooks in our group.  One day Barbara decided to spend some time preparing some of her favorite recipes.  One was her homemade biscuits with country ham which I will blog about some time after we get back to NC.  The other was her version of Mystery Bars.  We passed a plate of them after our meal of Beef Bourguignon.  They were an elegant ending to a great meal.

Mystery Bars

Elegant you say?  That was what struck me.  A small morsel of rich tasting flavor hit me immediately.  They are nothing more than lots of butter and dark brown sugar with what I consider the mystery; Black Walnuts.  All of it is rolled about in confectioners sugar.  Amazing.  You will always have what you need on the pantry shelf for a quick and easy dessert.

It was a wonderful week which also included one of the guys making two batches of boiled peanuts in a crock pot.  I also made Barbara’s Chicken Poppy Seed casserole, which I blogged about here.  Jackie brought a great smoked salmon dip and David made wonderful ribs and Big Charlie’s Gumbo.

Manatees

Last Sunday, after everyone had left, David and I went on an excursion to Blue Spring on the St. Johns River.  During the winter months Blue Spring, with its constant temperature of 73 degrees, becomes home to hundreds of manatees.  Manatees are marine mammals that live in the shallow rivers, bays and estuaries of coastal areas.  They rarely venture into waters below 63 degrees.  They are slow moving giants related to elephants, but totally aquatic; although they surface often to breathe.  I had a one on one experience with a manatee a few years ago when we still owned our Florida home on a canal.  One surfaced next to our dock when I was home alone.  I had heard that manatees appreciate fresh water so I turned on the hose and sprayed it into the water.  The manatee got under the spray and turned over onto her back and let me spray her stomach with water.  She was playful and huge.  I kept looking around hoping someone would come around to experience this amazing event with me.  But it turned out to be a one-on-one moment.

Alligator

Alligators are afraid of manatees.  Manatees are much too large to attack.  Even so, mother manatees must protect their calves from alligators.  If an alligator threatens a calf, several female manatees will coordinate protection by attempting to crush the alligator between their bodies.

Our trip to Blue Spring brought us close to many species including manatees, alligators and great blue herons.  We enjoyed a picnic on the grounds and came away appreciating nature on a beautiful spring day.

Mystery Bars

We head home in a few days.  I have a few mystery bars left to munch on in the car.  I appreciate Barbara sharing this wonderful recipe.  There are many Mystery Bar recipes on the internet, but I haven’t found one like this one.  It is a keeper, an elegant keeper.

MYSTERY BARS

2 eggs
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped black walnuts
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Beat eggs.  Add brown sugar.  Beat.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into 9×13 inch dish.

Bake at 300 degrees F for 45 minutes.  Cool completely (Very important).  Cut into squares.  Roll in powdered sugar.

Recipe does not turn out right with store brand dark brown sugar.  Use name brand such as Domino.

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Birthday Dinner and Beer Pairing

November 9th, 2017

Birthday Menu

Our Son Michael recently celebrated his 40th birthday at Crawford and Son restaurant in Raleigh.  It was a food and beer pairing executed by Chef Scott Crawford and Full Steam Brewery Executive Sean Wilson.

Birthday Michael and Kristen

Our wonderful Daughter-In-Law Kristen organized everything and it was a magical evening with 40 of Michael and Kristen’s friends and family.

Frisee Salad

The first course was a Frisee Salad with Smoked Trout, Honey Crisp Apple and Ramp Vinaigrette.  It was paired with Full Steam’s Deep Chatham Wild Paw Paw Ale.  The woodsy ale complimented the wild ramp and smoked trout salad.

IMG_1289

The main course was Braised Beef Cheeks with a Mushroom Ragout and Campo Cheese Grits.  It was paired with Fullsteam Igor Imperial Stout.  The beer was deep and rich.  I loved the beef cheeks.  They were fork tender and cushioned by the very best cheese grits that I have ever tried.  Campo cheese is a semi-hard Spanish cheese that is a combination of cows’ milk, goats’ milk, and sheep’s milk. It is very similar to Manchego cheese.  I will be experimenting with this recipe.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

The dessert was a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Toasted Meringue, Hazelnut Praline and Caramel.  It was paired with a 2016 Persimmon First Frost.  The beer is fruit forward with hints of holiday spices, so it went very well with this pumpkin cheesecake.  Scott Crawford is an amazing chef.  Each course was executed flawlessly.

Chef Scott Crawford

We have a long history with Chef Scott Crawford.  At one time he was the Executive Chef at Heron’s Restaurant in Cary.  Since opening his own restaurant in Raleigh, Crawford and Son has gained a loyal following.  Kristen’s Mom, Darla and I have had our picture taken with him before.

Chef Crawford seven years ago.

This was taken 7 years ago at Heron’s.

Michael

As a beer enthusiast and home brewer, Michael was in his element at the restaurant.  Happy Birthday Sweet Son.  We enjoyed your celebration so much.  Some pictures courtesy of Darla A. and David W.

Double Mustard/Cream Chicken Breasts

January 13th, 2016

Mustard Chicken 2

When something light but still decadent is desired, you can’t do better than a boneless chicken breast smothered with a double mustard cream sauce over baby arugula.  You might call this a juxtaposition of good and bad.  The goodness of lean chicken and vitamin packed baby arugula with the richness of alcohol spiked cream and mustard.

Mustard Chicken 1V

 

While visiting the family over the holidays, my DIL Kristen made a similar dish, sans the alcohol, for dinner one night.  It was amazing watching the children digging into the chicken.  The arugula was also slathered with the sauce and they ate every bit of it.  It is a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables.  We loved it too, so I did a Google search for something similar.  The Pioneer Woman came to the rescue.  Granted her version had a whole cup of brandy in it, as opposed to what Kristen made, but it was really, really good.  I ended up having to substitute Madeira and white wine instead of the brandy.  Inexplicably, the liqueur cabinet here in Florida held no brandy.

Mustard Chicken 3

Be sure to visit Ree’s site for a complete pictorial on how to make this great dish.  It couldn’t be easier.  On its own, this would make a great luncheon dish or a light supper.  Add sides for a more complete dinner.  Hope you give it a try.

Sausage and Spinach Turnovers

February 21st, 2015

Sausage Turnovers 1

What a fun meal!  I am going to adapt this idea to all kinds of different fillings.  Meat pies, or pasties, have a long tradition.  When Cornish miners migrated to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 1800’s they brought this meat pie recipe with them.  It was later adopted by the wave of Finnish miners who followed.  It was easy to eat while underground.  The miners reheated their hand pies on shovels set over mining candles.

Sausage Turnovers 4VI have mentioned before that David’s Mother’s family were Finnish and settled in the UP.  Their last name was Syrjanen.  David’s Grandfather Gus Syrjanen founded the Trenary Home Bakery that is still in operation today.  It is known for its Trenary Toast.  There is also a family connection to designers and architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen.  When we were in the UP researching family history we enjoyed eating pasties at several small restaurants.  At the time, David did not love them, but the version I made this time was a real hit.

Sausage Turnovers 3 Better

It was probably the hot chicken sausage that did it for him.  Most pasty recipes use ground beef and potatoes, which can be rather bland.  This was very tasty with the sausage, onions, red bell peppers and spinach.  The crust was made from Pillsbury pie dough so was easy to assemble.  You could make your own pastry but I needed a quick dinner the night that I made these.  They were perfect over a tossed salad.

Sausage Turnover 6

Pasties or hand pies are so versatile.  You can fill them with anything.  How about a Mexican filling with ground beef, cumin, salsa and cheese.  Or make it vegetarian with black beans and cheese.  My DIL Kristen made a version using pizza dough, seasoned chicken, sour cream and cheese.  There are so many possibilities.

SAUSAGE AND SPINACH TURNOVERS (Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine )

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Medium red potato, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 (3.5 oz.) links of hot chicken Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cups bagged washed baby spinach
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Add potatoes, bell pepper, and onion to pan; saute 4 minutes or until onion begins to brown, stirring frequently.  Add sausage; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.  Stir in basil, crushed red pepper, and salt.  Remove from heat.

Cut dough into 4 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 5-inch circle.  Spoon about 1/2 cup sausage mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Fold dough over sausage mixture until edges almost meet.  Bring bottom edge of dough over top edge; crimp edges of dough to form a rim.

Place turnovers on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; brush evenly over dough.  Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons cheese over each turnover.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.