Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Killer German Chocolate Cake

Forgot to mention the other day that I also made a German Chocolate Cake along with a tray of Chicken Paprikash for that staff Oktoberfest party I attended last weekend.   I  titled the post Killer because it really KILLS the competition.  The taste and presentation is totally worth all the time, eggs and butter it requires.

Did you know that German chocolate cake is really an American invention?  Neither did I until after I volunteered to make it, being that the party had an Oktoberfest theme.  When searching for the definitive recipe I found some interesting facts about the name.  And its ingredients.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chicken Paprikash over Noodles

Every few months, my co-workers get together at someone's house for a potluck dinner.  We try to tie it to a theme just to make it easier when someone asks what to bring.  Our most recent theme was Oktoberfest, so of course most people brought beer and/or pumpkin spice anything.  I brought Chicken Paprikash.   While most people think of Paprikash as Hungarian, I found enough sites that considered it German enough to go with the theme at hand.

To make it easier for guests to enjoy without needing a knife or wearing too much of the sauce, I cut up the cooked chicken into one-bite pieces.  If you plan to serve this dish to your family, make it easy on yourself and serve the thighs (or even drumsticks) intact, and allow one or two pieces per serving. There is plenty enough sauce to increase the number of pieces to 10 or 12.

I don't recommend breast meat.  The long cooking time tends to dry out white meat.  Dark meat remains nice and tender.

If you have no dairy aversion, feel free to use a cup of real sour cream in place of the pretend stuff.  

Sorry about no photos ... I completely forgot.  But if it helps, there was barely anything left to cart back home.

Chicken Paprikash over Noodles
Adapted from: Tori Avey
Yield: 8 servings (12 for a party)

6 chicken thighs
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed
1/4 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste if needed
2 tsp. paprika
couple pinches hot paprika
3 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 Tbl. tomato paste
1 tsp. chicken bouillon powder
3 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbl. olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
cold water
1/4 loosely packed cup parsley leaves, chopped, divided
2 Tbl. cornstarch mixed with 3 Tbl. cold water
1 (12-14 oz.) bag medium egg noodles
8 oz. non-dairy sour cream (optional)

Sprinkle the chicken pieces generously with salt, pepper, and both paprikas.  Set aside.

Process bell peppers, tomato paste, chicken bouillon and garlic in a blender until smooth. Set aside as well.

In a 6-quart or larger saucepot, heat olive oil over medium. Saute onion slices until tender, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the seasoned chicken pieces.  Brown on skin side, about 5 minutes.

Pour the red pepper mixture over the chicken. Add enough water until sauce just covers chicken.

Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the chopped parsley.  Increase heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a boil.  Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover pot loosely to allow a bit of evaporation.

Cook chicken for 1 hour or to desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, cook egg noodles one minutes less than package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent noodles from sticking to each other.  Drain again; set aside.

Remove chicken to a cutting board.  Remove meat from bones; discard skin and bones.  Cut meat into bite-size pieces, and return to the pot.

Stir corn starch mixture into the sauce.  Simmer for a minute or two to thicken.  Reduce heat to low;  stir in sour cream.  Taste, and add additional salt and/or pepper if needed.

Mix in cooked noodles.  Continue to cook over low heat for a few minutes to rewarm noodles.

Transfer to large casserole dish or serving bowl.  Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon chopped parsley to garnish.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Most Non-Boring Chicken Salad in the Universe!

I used to think that chicken salad was so-o-o-o boring.  Then I tried a forkful of this:

Chicken salad is usually made with some rather boring ingredients.  Celery?  Ho-hum.  Mayo?  So white bread.  In fact, it is even served on pasty white bread.  The recipe I am about to show you tosses the celery, jazzes up the mayo, then delicately adds a few grown-up items, such as white wine and tarragon. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Peach Pecan Blueberry Crumble

We interrupt my library retro theme to bring you a different retro:  a fruit-packed crumble!

Fruit crumbles have been documented as far back as the mid-1800s.  Also known as crisps, they are a baked dessert composed of layers of sliced or cut-up fruit, covered with a crumbly pastry-like top.  I like it a lot when it's made with apples, but I'm mad for crumbles/crisps when made with blueberries.  But blueberries have a relatively short season in my neck of the woods.  So in early summer when they are fresh, local and at their very best, I pick up a 6-pack of pints and stuff them deep in the freezer.  When I need some berries, I simply pull out a pint and pour out what I need.  A quick rinse and they are ready for most recipes.

Why today's blueberry thrill?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Are you Ready for Some Retro, Part II -- Pineapple in Lime Jello Made in a Can

Have you ever looked at magazine ads from the 50s and 60s?  Jello was very cool back then.   Especially when served as a ring mold.  If something could be chopped and stuffed into a ring mold, jello was poured around it.  Check out a few ads from that era:

Nothing says California like prunes:

Nothing was safe from the indignity of the ring mold:

That's seafood in the center.  Because Jello dotted 
with curds of cottage cheese wasn't weird enough.

Lime Jello was like totally far out, man!

Actually, this one didn't look so bad.  It had everything I wanted in a retro dessert  -- fruit, lime jello and easy.  Especially the easy part.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ants Climbing a Tree (Ground Veal with Transparent Noodles)

Every since my China trip, I've been attempting to replicate a few of the dishes enjoyed there.   The names of the dishes may be a little unusual, but definitely memorable.  This is my version of an amazing Szechuan ground meat dish:

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