Monthly Archives: July 2018

Koeksisters

South African Dessert

KOEKSISTERS

INGREDIENTS – SYRUP

1⅔ cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1¼ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4⅓ cups sugar

INGREDIENTS – DOUGH

2 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup milk
6 cups vegetable oil

Makes 18 braided doughnuts. Takes 20 minutes plus 4 hours plus 1 hour 45 minutes.

PREPARATION – SYRUP

Add all syrup ingredients to pot. Bring to boil using high heat. Stir enough to keep sugar from burning on the bottom. Reduce heat to warm and simmer for 10 minutes or until syrupy. Stir enough to keep sugar from burning on the bottom. Remove cinnamon stick. Cool in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

PREPARATION – DOUGH

Add baking powder, flour, and salt to mixing bowl. Mix with whisk or fork until well blended. Beat egg in cup. Add egg, butter, and milk to bowl. Mix with whisk until well blended. Let dough sit for 1 hour.

Roll out dough to ¼” thickness. Cut dough into strips that are 3″ long and 1½” wide. Cut each strips into 3 ribbons along its length almost all the way to the other end. Leave ribbons connected at one end. Braid the mostly-separated ribbons. Pinch the loose end of the ribbons together. These are your koeksisters.

Add oil to deep pan. The oil should be 1½” high. Turn heat to high. Add little bit of dough. Oil is hot enough when a bit of dough rises to the top. Carefully add koeksisters to pan. (Be careful of splattering oil.) Do not let koeksisters touch. You might have to cook in batches. Deep for 2 minutes or until bottom turns golden brown. Turn over koeksisters and deep fry for 2 more minutes or until new bottom is golden brown. Remove koeksisters and drain immediately on plates covered with paper towels.

While koeksisters drain, remove the pot of refrigerated syrup. Divide this syrup into 2 bowls. (This will prevent all of the syrup from heating up when dipped into by the hot koeksisters.) Immediately after draining the koeksisters, dip the koeksisters into a bowl of syrup. Dip the koeksisters again, this time in the 2nd bowl of syrup. The koeksisters should be slightly crispy on the outside.

TIDBITS

1) These braided doughnuts are crunchy on the outside, but deliciously soft on the inside.

2) However, if you leave koeksisters or any other dough out long enough, it will get hard, real hard.

3) Indeed, long doughnuts such as koeksisters or long Johns are favored by the US Army as these doughnuts’ cylindrical shape enable them to fit into all sorts of artillery pieces.

4) A fourteen-day-old koeksister will eliminate an enemy infantryman.*

5) A month-old long doughnut will knock down a brick building.*

6) A six-month old Long-John will tear a sizable hole into any tank found on the modern battlefield. You don’t want to contemplate what the rock hard doughnut fragments will do to the crew inside.*

7) A year-old koeksister will rip apart even the most hardened concrete bunker.*

8) * = As recorded in the US Army Top Secret* Film #107-223-4X. “Analysis of Doughnut Projectile Effectiveness in the Second Gulf War.”

9) Top Secret films really shouldn’t put on YouTubeTM.

10) A good way to soften a rock-hard doughnut is to place a damp paper towel over it and microwave for one minute.

11) America’s enemies know this. They are busy inventing SDDIs (Strategic Doughnut Defense Systems) to intercept and eliminate our lethal doughnuts.

12) SDDI consists of two different artillery pieces. The first piece fires open microwaves into the path of a flying doughnut. Once near the doughnut, the trajectories of the microwaves are controlled by controllers on the ground.

13) The second artillery piece fires gigantic rolls of damp paper towels. Air friction tears one paper towel after another from the paper roll. The sky becomes a blizzard of paper towels. By sheer force of numbers, every doughnut captured in the flying microwaves will be covered by damp paper towels. Once this happens, ground technicians will microwave the once hard doughnut to harmless softness.

14) There is even talk that the American Doughnut Corps has satellites that can take out incoming nuclear missiles. As of press time, there has been no official confirmation.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Turkish Salad

Turkish Appetizer

TURKISH SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1 cucumber
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion
3 tomatoes
1 garlic clove
6 ounces feta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh mint
⅔ cup fresh parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅛ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

Serves 8. Takes 25 minutes.

PREPARATION

Peel cucumber. Seed green bell pepper. Dice cucumber, green bell pepper, red onion, and tomatoes. Mince garlic clove. Crumble feta cheese. Add cucumber, green bell pepper, red onion, and tomato to large serving bowl. Toss ingredients in bowl. Sprinkle feta cheese on top. Toss ingredients lightly.

Mince mint and parsley. Add mint, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper, and salt to small mixing bowl. Mix with fork until well blended. Pour this dressing over salad in serving bowl. Toss lightly.

TIDBITS

1) It is both enjoyable to eat well. It also necessary to be clean. Clean people needn’t worry about repelling loved ones and friends whenever the wind wafts your scent toward them. But why not have it all? Why not dine well and be squeaky clean? May I suggest a Turkish bath? They’re great fun. You and your 123 closest friends relax in room filled with hot air. This warmth causes healthy perspiring and gives you time to order your meal and sup.* Then cool yourself down with nice, refreshing, cold water.

2) * – But oh my gosh, be sure to tailor you menu choices to the type of Turkish bath. The Islamic hamman variety uses steamy air. This experience lends itself to eating steamed vegetables and steamed hot dogs and buns. When there, do not, do not, order the Turkish salad shown in this recipe. The steamy atmosphere wilts the lettuce something fierce. No if you wish this dish, without having to bolt down, you’d be much better off in a Victorian Turkish bath where the air is dry. Indeed, the well-known British love of salad and bathing, explains why there are only Victorian Turkish baths in that country. Now you know.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Pabellón Criollo

Venezuelan Entree

PABELLÓN CRIOLLO

INGREDIENTS – PULLED MEAT

3 garlic cloves (2 more cloves later)
1 medium onion
1 tomato
2 pounds flank steak
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cumin (¼ teaspoon more later)
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon pepper (¼ teaspoon more later)
3 quarts water (or enough to cover ingredients)

INGREDIENTS – BLACK BEANS

2 garlic cloves
1 small onion
¼ cup olive oil or oil (¼ cup more later)
1 green bell pepper
1 15-ounce-can black beans
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt

INGREDIENTS – RICE & PLANTAINS

1⅓ cups rice
2 plantains or bananas
½ cup olive oil or oil

SPECIAL UTENSILS

3-quart pot
4 plates with 3 sections. These are mighty hard to find if you’re looking for them at the last moment.
sonic obliterator

Serves 4. Takes 2 hours 50 minutes.

PREPARATION – PULLED MEAT

Dice 3 garlic cloves, medium onion, and tomato. Add diced garlic, onion, tomato, flank steak, bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon cumin, oregano, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and enough water to cover ingredients. Bring to boil using high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 hours 30 minutes or until meat is tender to the fork. Remove and discard bay leaf. Remove meat and place on plate. Pull flank seat apart with forks. Save stock for future soups.

PREPARATION – BLACK BEANS

While flank steak simmers, mince 2 garlic cloves and small onion. Seed and dice green bell pepper. Add garlic, onion, green bell pepper, and ¼ cup olive oil to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add black beans, ¼ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

PREPARATION – RICE & PLANTAINS

About 30 minutes before flank steak should be ready to be pulled apart, cook rice according to instructions on package. Peel plantains. Cut plantains into slices 1″ wide diagonally along the length of the plantain. Add plantain and ½ cup oil to pan. Sauté slices for 3 minutes on each at medium heat or until plantain softens and browns.

PREPARATION – FINAL STEP

This step is much easier if you have a plate that is divided into 3 sections. Carefully add enough pulled flank steak to make a pie wedge that takes up ⅓ of the plate. Carefully add enough beans next to the flank steak to make a pie wedge taking up ⅓ of the plate. Carefully add (Yes, you are doing things carefully here.) enough rice to take up the remaining ⅓ of the plate. Add ¼ of the plantain slices to the outside of the rice pie-wedge.

Zap, with your sonic obliterator, any guests who fail to appreciate just how much heart and soul went into the preparation of this dish.

TIDBITS

1) This dish, pabellón criollo, is enormously popular, among Venezuelans. So much so, that Venezuelans will bring the ingredients for this dish wherever they travel or migrate.

2) And boy, they sure have migrated. On May 1, 16,870 BC priests revealed to the proto-Venezuelans that their gods would be having a millennium-long jamboree in a land beyond the Great Mother Sea. Of course, everyone knows the best time to petition gods is when they’ve been drinking, eating pulled beef, and dancing and singing up a storm.

3) So, all the proto-Venezuelans took to their rafts and floated and paddled their way down the east coast of South America, suffered ice storms in the Straights of Magellan, endured fresh-water deprivation, and got eaten by gigantic sharks and whales.

4) All of which sucked, especially when compared to jamboreeing with the gods. So once there, the proto-Venezuelans stayed and planted rice. This is how rice came to India, Vietnam, China, and Japan.

5) The proto-Venezuelans were pretty happy. Then the gods’ beer ran out. The deities became surly and hurled thunderbolts and really hard bread rolls at the humans.

6) Life sucked again. Enough to brave the perils of an ocean voyage back home. This is how peoples from Asia settled the Americas, not by the headline hunters who crossed the land bridge from Siberia to Alaska.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Gambian Domoda (Peanut Stew)

Gambian Entree

DOMODA
(Peanut Stew)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup rice
1½ pounds chicken breasts or beef
2 green chiles
1 large onion
¾ pound pumpkin, sweet potato, or butternut squash
3 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups vegetable stock*
1¼ cups smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon pepper

* = To be authentic, try to use MaggiTM bouillon cubes. Maggi is ubiquitous in Africa.

Serves 6. Takes 1 hour 30 minutes.

PREPARATION

Cook rice according to instructions on package. Cut chicken into ½” cubes. Seed chiles. (Or leave them in if you wish a spicier stew.) Dice chiles, onion, pumpkin, and tomatoes.

Add chile, onion, and vegetable oil to pan. Sauté at medium-high for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add chicken cubes. Cook at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir frequently. Add diced tomato and vegetable stock. Bring to boil using high heat. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to low for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add peanut butter, pumpkin, tomato paste and pepper. Stir occasionally. Bring to boil using high heat. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Stir just enough to prevent burning. Serve over rice.

TIDBITS

1) Baby cows say, “moo.” They also have dads. So, you might imagine that little cows would also say, “Moo, Dad.” And you would be right.

2) But only for the cows being raised in Roswell, New Mexico. These are super-intelligent, alien cows. Their spaceship crashed there in 1947. As the US military always takes a keen interest in brilliant bovines, a deal was soon made. In return for regular milking–Cows cannot milk themselves no matter how intelligent they might be–the alien cows showed us how to completely and forever thwart nuclear attack. Something to be grateful for when you pour milk on your morning cereal.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Squid Ink Spaghetti

Italian Entree

SQUID INK SPAGHETTI

INGREDIENTS

10 ounces squid-ink spaghetti*
4 garlic cloves
3 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh basil
½ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup olive oil
6 ounces nduja**
½ cup white wine
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

* = Sorry, you really need to get squid-ink pasta. You can make your own pasta, but then you’ll need to find squid ink. Squid-ink spaghetti may be found online or in specialty stores.

** = This is a spreadable Italian salami. It may be ordered online or found in specialty stores. In a pinch, puree pepperoni.

Serves 4. Takes 20 minutes.

PREPARATION

Cook squid-ink spaghetti according to directions on package. While spaghetti cooks, mince garlic. Dice tomatoes, basil, and parsley. Add garlic and olive oil to pan. Sauté garlic at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until garlic softens. Stir frequently.

Add tomato and nduja. Reduce heat to medium. Stir until nduja breaks into little bits and you get a meaty sauce. Add white wine and shrimp. Sauté at medium heat for 4 minutes or until shrimp turns pink or orange. Stir frequently. Garnish with basil and parsley.

TIDBITS

1) Squid ink is hard to locate. However, Milk is easy to find. I remember when milkmen used to deliver milk to our door. It was a golden age for milk drinkers.

2) When I was twelve, I lived in Holland. The milkman there delivered milk, butter, eggs, soup, and beer. It was a global, golden age.

3) Why can’t we have another golden age? Why can’t we have milk, eggs, and beer delivered to our door? Do we want to wake up without milk? Do we want the inebriated driving to the store to get their beer? And may we, pretty please, have the milkmen deliver squid-ink pasta so that all cooks around the world can make this entree at any time? That would truly be the greatest golden age ever.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Spotlight on Leslie Handler, Author of “Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank”

 

About the Book

Part memoir, part essay collection, Rats, Mice, and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank is written with both wit and charm. It will take you on a ride from finding a mouse in the house to the mortgage crisis, from a smile to a chuckle and from a few tears to the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket sipping a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Handler offers a rich, touching, heartfelt and reflective read that will leave the reader with an indelible uplifting spirit.

Excerpt from Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can’t Take to the Bank

Games, games, games

The boys I dated were mostly affluent.  In high school I had a double date with one of Ross Perot’s daughters, Nancy.  Actually, it was a triple date. The three girls were to meet at my house to make a picnic dinner.  The guys were to pick us up to take us to Shakespeare in the park.  Nancy showed up two hours late.  We had already made the fried chicken and the dessert, all that was left was the potato salad when Nancy arrived.  The boys were to be there in forty-five minutes, so my other girlfriend and I left my mom in the kitchen with Nancy while we went upstairs to spruce up.  Mom showed Nancy the bowl of potatoes and other ingredients and gave her a pot and other necessary utensils and told her she’d be back in a few minutes.  By the time my mom returned, Nancy had cut up a bowl full of raw potatoes filled with mayo and spices.  So much for rich girls knowing how to cook.  But then again, I’m not sure why I expected anything less since the first time I met her she asked to borrow a quarter for the cafeteria soda machine.  She never did pay that quarter back.

As for the boys, they picked us up on time, we had a lovely picnic, sans potato salad, and I don’t recall really ever interacting much with Nancy for the rest of high school.  She was a lovely girl.  I guess you could just say, we ran in different crowds.

I had lots of exciting dates in those years.  At the time, I wanted to pursue going into the hotel business, so I got myself a job at the finest hotel in town and spent a summer getting to know everyone from the housekeeping staff to the head maître ‘d of the finest restaurant there, to the general manager.  One of my dates, decided he would impress me by taking me to dinner there.  Apparently, he dined there often and thought he’d impress me when the waiters all knew him by name, but by the time he was taken to our table, he found himself alone. When he turned to see where I was, he found me hugging and kissing all the wait staff and calling them all by first names.  After I watched my date pick his jaw up off the floor, we managed to have a lovely evening with no need to further attempt to impress one another.  I dated this boy on and off for several years before I met my husband.  He was fun, and treated me well, but I never did feel much substance there.  He used to pick me up in a different car every time we went out.  There was the Trans Am, the Mercedes, and the Porsche to name a few.  My mom said that when he picked me up in the Rolls Royce, that would just have to be the last date because as she put it, “where do you go from there?” You know? She was right. That was our last date.

But I had other great dates with lots of other guys throughout high school and college.  My favorite dates though, were dates with my dad.  He always wanted to have special time with me.  I’d get all dressed up and we’d go out on the town.  Sometimes he’d take me to a show, sometimes to lunch, sometimes even to dinner.  But going out with dad always meant special time and to this day brings cherished memories.

Mom was the softy.  Dad was the disciplinarian.  Both gave me and my older brother nothing but love and support for our entire lives.

In this first chapter, I tell you all about these stories and even more stories about my growing up. Like so many children, one of the things I begged for was a family pet.  At one point, my folks went out and bought a boxer puppy….this from two people who knew nothing about raising a small animal let alone a boxer.  They blinked and “Happy” the dog, became an untrained, crazed, lunatic beast who hung himself by his own chain over the back yard fence.  The good news is that Happy lived to tell the tale, and kept his tail as well.  The next day, I was told he ran away.  Years later dad tried a Mynah bird.  Between the screeching and the feces throwing, that one didn’t work out too well either.  Eventually, I received an untrained Bichon Frise of unknown age who became one of the loves of my life and the bane of my mother’s existence.  His name was Pierre, but mom called him the carpenter dog because he did odd jobs around the house: a little pee here, a little food dumping there.  But for me, from then on, I was a dog lover.

You’ll hear more stories about my animal adventures throughout my life. You’ll also hear about one of my family’s earliest challenges regarding my loving brother and my first lessons in hate, love, and the power they each have.

Finally, I leave you with this early memory.  It’s one of my favorites and it explains why rats have been in my life.

I could smell the chlorine filling my nostrils as I quenched my thirst from the water flowing from the garden hose.  I could see those waves of heat floating in the Texas air on a hundred degree summer’s day.  We’d hook the sprinkler up to the hose and run bare foot through the water and the soft iridescent grass that could never be too green in the southwestern sultriness. When we were finally cool enough, we’d wrap ourselves in the thickness of terrycloth towels, dry off, and head inside for a read-a-thon in the air conditioned coolness of our home.

In the winter months, there was nothing more enticing than a pile of pillows and blankets placed before a roaring wood-burning fire.  But even the smell of the smoke escaping up the chimney with the remnants of roasted marshmallows trailing its sugary aroma right behind wasn’t as good as what was to come.  The best part, was the sweet smell of the drying hair of my two little girls fresh from the tub-all squeaky clean with the scent of youth.  I can remember the little hairs inside my nose would vibrate and tickle when we would crack open that first book of the day.  I would suck up those freshly printed pages with a deep inhale offering up that first book to the noses of my girls.  They too could sniff the words right off their pages and into their hearts. The flicker of the fire light would illuminate the beautiful faces of my girls as we began the first adventure of the day into the world of books.  At their youngest, there was Chick-a-Chick-a-Boom-Boom, Are You My Mother?, and any Berenstain Bears books.  As they got older it became Goosebumps, Ella Enchanted, and eventually Harry Potter.

A Handler read-a-thon, whether in the heat of the summer, or the frigid days of winter, was our time, our special time, time to cherish each other away from the stresses of daily life.  It was our escape, our escape together.  In those days, aside from relieving ourselves of full bladders or empty tummies, there was only one thing that would get us to break away from our reading, and that, was a good board game.

One such board game was a game called “Oh Rats.” Each player received his own puzzle.  He had to take the puzzle apart and then take a turn spinning a board that showed one puzzle piece.  If he didn’t yet have that puzzle piece, he could use it to add towards the completion of his puzzle. If he already had it, he would shout out “oh rats,” and it would be the next players turn.  The winner, was the first person to complete his puzzle.  I loved this game.  I loved it because it taught the girls their shapes and colors, but I mostly loved it because it taught them about the frustrations in life of not always getting what you want, and being able to just chalk it up to an exclamation of “oh rats.”  To this day, when something doesn’t quite go my way, I can just shout out “oh rats” and know that it’s ok.  There will always be another game, and there will always be more rats in the world.  Finding the right balance and getting your puzzle all put together, well that makes all the difference.

With that, I hope you enjoy the following essays about my special family, how we think about dogs in our house, and if I left something out, “oh rats,” I’ll have to wait until my next book to explain it.

Bio

Leslie is a 2015 Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She’s an international syndicated columnist with Senior Wire News Service and a frequent contributor to WHYY and CityWide Stories. She freelances for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ZestNow, and Boomercafe, as well as blogs for HuffPost. Her first book will be published Spring, 2018. Leslie currently lives smack dab between Philadelphia and New York City with husband Marty, dogs Maggie, Hazel, and Ginger, a collection of fish, said husband’s cockatoo who she’s been trying to roast for dinner for the last 33 years, and a few occasional uninvited guests. You may follow her blog and read published essays at: LeslieGoesBoom.com.

 

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com

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Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

American Appetizer

BACON WRAPPED SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS

24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 slices bacon
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
no-stick spray

SPECIAL UTENSILS

24 toothpicks
baking rack
cookie sheet.

Serves 6. Takes 30 minutes.

PREPARATION

Set oven to broil and preheat to 400 degrees. Soak toothpicks in water. Slice each bacon strip into two halves crosswise.. Add shrimp, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce to mixing bowl. Toss shrimp until they are well coated. Wrap each shrimp with bacon. Secure with soaked toothpick. Repeat for each shrimp.

Spray baking rack with no-stick spray. Place shrimp on baking rack. Place baking rack 3″ from heat. Place cookie sheet under rack to catch drippings from bacon. Broil at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until bacon becomes crispy. Watch carefully, bacon can go burned quickly.

TIDBITS

1) Sir Francis Bacon was a mainstay in the Elizabethan era because he was brilliant as all get out, being an author, statesman (Lord High Chancellor England), scientist, blah, blah, blah. . . and a budding culinary saint! Francis was researching the effect of freezing on meat when he contracted pneumonia and died. This selfless act, was no doubt, the inspiration for the safe modern freezer/refrigerator. It is tantalizing to further speculate that Sir Bacon invented the cut of pig known as bacon. Many culinary historians assert this hypothesis most vigorously, particularly so after they’ve been drinking heavily.

2) At any rate, bacon was a staple of the American culinary scene by the early 18th century. America’s settlers wouldn’t have even considered crossing the land’s great expanses without an adequate supply of bacon. Tasty bacon would go onto grow and stabilize the great American Republic.

3) Unfortunately, by 2017, demand for bacon began to outstrip its supply. The Republic is in danger. Civil unrest will surely follow. Indeed, political discourse is already getting ever more heated and frenzied.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Chicken Shrimp Jambalaya

Cajun Entree

CHICKEN SHRIMP JAMBALAYA

INGREDIENTS

1½ pounds chicken breasts or thighs
½ pound andouille sausage or Polish sausage
1 bell pepper
2 celery stalks*
4 green onions
3 tomatoes
1 large yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon white pepper or black pepper
3 tablespoons lard or butter
2 bay leaves
⅔ cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock or fish stock
2 cups rice
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

* = Technically, the entire thing of celery you buy in the store is a stalk. However, most people think of each individual rib or piece as a stalk. Indeed, many, if not most cookbooks, have thrown up their hands and call each long thingy of celery a stalk. I too have been assimilated and will be calling each long celery thingy a stalk. We live in a perilous world of celery flux.

Serves 8. Takes 1 hour 30 minutes

SPECIAL UTENSILS

Dutch oven
sonic obliterator

PREPARATION

Chop chicken and sausage into ½” cubes. Dice bell pepper, celery, green onion, and tomatoes, and yellow onion. Mince garlic cloves. Add chicken cubes, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and white pepper to mixing bowl. Mix by hand until chicken cubes are well coated.

Add sausage cubes and lard to Dutch oven. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until sausage browns. Stir occasionally. Add bell pepper, celery, yellow onion, and garlic. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until yellow onion softens. Stir frequently. Add coated chicken cubes. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Stir frequently. Add green onion, diced tomato, and bay leaves. Lower heat to low-medium and cook for 5 minutes or until chicken becomes tender. Stir enough to prevent burning. Add tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir enough to prevent burning.

Add stock and bring to boil using medium-high heat. Stir occasionally. Add rice. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice becomes tender. Stir enough to prevent burning. Add shrimp. Cook at medium heat for 3 minutes or until shrimp becomes pink or orange. Stir enough to prevent burning. Remove bay leaves. This dish requires at lot of chopping, so if anyone distracts you, zap them with your sonic obliterator.

TIDBITS

1) There are brave shrimp and there are chicken shrimp.

2) Chicken shrimp tastes better.

3) Everybody knows that.

4) Brave shrimp are absolutely unsuited for chicken shrimp jambalaya.

5) Your guests will laugh at you if you make this entree with brave shrimp. And they will hate you.

6) They will tell their friends and those people will tell their own friends in turn. Soon your entire neighborhood will shun you. Eventually, the whole world will do the same.

7) You will have to join the Culinary Protection Program.

8) So buy chicken shrimp.

9) Do chicken shrimp cost more than brave shrimp?

10) Yes, of course. Fierce shrimp are out in the open, daring all comers to fight. They think they can kick their opponents real good with their many feet.

11) However, they are easy prey for shrimp boats with their large nets. Their leg kicks don’t damage shrimp nets much. Not at all actually, to be honest.

12) Most fierce shrimp are thrown back into the sea. Some are saved for caged shrimp fighting. But this is a barbarous sport and nearly all nations have banned it.

13) Where are the chicken shrimp?

14) Being timid, this shrimp hide in tiny rock caves.

15) Doesn’t that make them hard to find?

16) You have no idea. To find chicken shrimp, you need thousands of teeny, tiny subs all equipped with teeny, tiny: sonar, jet-propelled harpoons, and tractor beams. This is why the chicken shrimp, the good shrimp, is so expensive.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Lemongrass and Five Spice Tofu

Vietnamese Appetizer

LEMONGRASS AND FIVE SPICE TOFU

INGREDIENTS

2 stalks lemongrass
3 garlic cloves
1¼ pounds firm tofu
1 cup vegetable oil (2 tablespoons more later)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
¼ teaspoon white pepper or pepper
½ tablespoon soy sauce

PREPARATION

Discard all but the tender, inner and lower, green part of the lemongrass stalks. Mince garlic cloves and remaining lemongrass. Slice tofu into 8 long rectangles. Pat dry with paper towel. Add 1 cup vegetable oil to pan. Heat oil at high heat until a tiny bit of tofu in the oil will start to dance. Carefully add tofu rectangles to pan. Fry tofu rectangles for 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Turn over once. Fry for 4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the new bottom. (Monitor the tofu carefully as the time between golden brown and crispy can be short.) Remove tofu and drain on paper towels.

Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to 2nd pan. Add garlic, lemongrass, and red chile flakes. Sauté at medium heat for 2 minutes or until lemongrass is tender and fragrant. Stir frequently. Add Chinese five spice, white pepper, and soy sauce. Mix until well blended. Add tofu rectangles. Sauté at low-medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn over once. Place 2 tofu rectangles on each plate. Carefully spoon sautéed lemongrass/garlic from pan over tofu rectangles.

Serves 4. Takes 45 minutes.

TIDBITS

1) It’s startling to hear this now, but for centuries, perhaps even millennia, lemons grew on grass rather than on trees. The reason for this change and other  ensuing culinary changes was war.

2) The British navy had been losing thousands and thousands of sailors to scurvy. In 1753, the British conducted controlled experiments to find a cure for this dread scourge. They strongly concluded that lemon juice would keep scurvy at bay. A scant forty-two years later, the British Admiralty began issuing daily rations of lemon juice. Scurvy disappeared! The navy could indefinitely blockade Napoleon’s ships and keep him from invading England. It was all so neat. Unfortunately, the Admiralty’s lemon mowers cut so much lemon grass that ground lemons were on the brink of extinction. Botanists stepped in and grafted lemons onto trees. This process worked well that the lemons developed seeds that would sprout into full-blown lemon bearing trees. History is such fun.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Natilla

Colombian Dessert

NATILLA

INGREDIENTS

1 cup whole milk* (4 more cups later)
1¼ cups cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1 panella (Mexican brown sugar) or 2 cups brown sugar
½ cup condensed milk
1 tablespoon butter, softened
½ cup grated coconut
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* = Whole milk really is needed. Without it, the cornstarch can’t make this dessert set.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

8″ * 8″ baking dish

Serves 9. Takes 2 hours 40 minutes.

PREPARATION

Add 1 cup whole milk and cornstarch to mixing bowl. Blend with whisk until cornstarch dissolves completely. Set aside. Add 4 cups whole milk, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and panella to pot. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until panella melts. Stir often. When mixture starts to boil, add condensed milk. Stir enough to keep mixture from burning.. Remove cinnamon sticks.

Add cornstarch/milk mixture to pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-to-25 minutes or until liquid is very thick, is hard to stir, and you can see the bottom of the pot when you stir. Stir this natilla mixture constantly. Gently fold in butter and coconut. Pour natilla mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

TIDBITS

1) Attila the Hun was originally named Wholemilk the Hun because he loved whole milk. He’d never drank sissy skim milk. In 434, a Byzantine diplomat, seeking to widen Wholemilk’s taste range, gave WTH–Wholemilk the Hun, not What The Heck–100 jars of skim milk. This enraged WTH so much that he invaded the Byzantine Empire. He also invaded Persia, the Western Roman Empire, and various Germanic kingdoms floating around the west; moderation not being one of his strong points. In desperation, Pope Leo I, in 452, offered him the wonderful dish shown here if he’d just go home. WTH liked it so much that he overate and died. Pope Leo became Pope Leo the Great and Wholemilk became Attila, a near anagram of natilla, the saving dessert of Europe.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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