Pancetta wrapped figs

Pancetta wrapped figs

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Figs and figments...



Hello everyone, I hope you all find yourselves  doing  well .   I’m finally on the right track, start working tomorrow  and have rented a studio in West Palm Beach.   It’s been an excruciatingly hot summer here in Florida and I yearn for cooler weather, fingers crossed it should be coming soon.

A series of events occurred in recent months  which filled me with both hope and despair.  Events I will not speak of because I need to move on emotionally,  so I choose to forgive  and live my life in peace.   I like to believe it was those events that led me to this prime location where everything is at my fingertips.   I do feel somewhat numb about it all and hope that the numbness doesn't open the door to deep rooted emotions one day.   Believe when someone tells you you are being led by angels, I'm on my own again and can't even fathom how I got here.  I went to service this morning, the pastor spoke of love, real love, he said humans need to learn how to love that kind of unconditional love.  He's right and I hope when I grow up I get to know that kind.

I am no longer seeking or hoping for a romantic relationship, I QUIT!   If I am meant to be loved that way, it will have to find me organically and at a later date .   Don’t you sometimes wish people could  read your heart?  If they could read mine they’d see anything I do is with the best of intentions.

With that being said I am again entertaining the idea of leaving Florida forever.   I just never could find real peace here.   I won’t give myself a time frame or make a plan, but I will say first chance I get I’m gone.  But in the meantime I will try different foods, blog, write, discover new places,  try new restaurants , swim as much as possible and cook, cook, cook.  

Without further adieux I give you a very simple  recipe for those of you trying to figure things out and unable to focus on a more challenging feat.  Pancetta wrapped figs, Brown Turkey figs to be exact.  I passed them in the produce section at the market and thought "wow"!  I knew they would be great, the mix of the sweet watermelon- like flavor of this fig and the savory/salty taste of the pancetta with  the added delicate taste of the olive oil and the little pop! from the black pepper come together in your mouth and give you a sense of hope once again.    I wish you all REAL love.   Below find my simple , uncomplicated recipe for pancetta wrapped figs, which I displayed in a styrofoam bowl because...I'm starting over and have no real ones....  Enjoy!  




Pancetta wrapped figs

1/4 pound pancetta
2 medium figs
1 teaspoonextra virgin olive oil
pinch of black pepper

  Clean figs, then slice in quarters.  Separate pancetta , wrap fig slices in pancetta and place on plate.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.  Voila!  A simple bite for those tough times.
  

    

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pot Roast While Pensive..

     Good evening!  I hope you all find yourselves well.  As I write I'm realizing it's been months since I've posted and that makes me feel terrible.  I'd like to promise I'll do better, but I've done that in the past and ...well... you know.   Maybe I should change the blog name to "The lazy blogger"?  Thing is it hasn't been laziness, I think I lost the gusto for writing a while there.  It's taken me some time to recover from my failure, but I have to face the world sooner or later I realize that.  Since I came back to Florida, I must have had enough thoughts in my head for myself and a few others.  I've been so pensive, dwelling on things from the past, thinking about the future.  Dating or trying to is still a big issue, I think I scare guys away.  Some say just be myself (I always am) if he accepts me as I am, he's a keeper...not so easy...

     So whilst in my pensive state on the bus, in the shower, watching t.v., walking or just laying in bed, the notion that feeling the way I do should produce a recipe to blog about interrupted.  The thing about thinking is... it's not doing, is thinking a verb?  I forget.  If thinking is an action nothing can come of it unless you put your thoughts into motion, I like that...  I'm a writer, I'm a chef, I own that and as of this morning, I will no longer dwell on the past.  I've made my way out of the paralyzing grip failure took on me and have decided to move forward and one day try again, because it's my dream and nothing should ever deter a person from continuing to make their dreams come true.

     I managed to veer my thoughts in the direction of comfort food, why?  Well..because I needed comforting...
Nothing but nothing eases my mind and brings me home better than pot roast.  I give to all of you who find yourselves in need of comfort my unfaultering recipe for pot roast that will magically shut your eyes and make you say "there's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home"  That sounds familiar..
Enjoy!
POT ROAST

4 pound bottom round roast
1 small bag of baby carrots
4 celery stalks cut into five pieces each
1 16 ounce can of diced stewed  tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of onion powder
salt to taste
1 teaspoon of pepper
2  tablespoons of oil
water to cover roast 

     Put a large pot to heat up.   While it's heating season' the roast with salt and pepper  Once the pot is hot add the oil and let it heat.  When the oil is hot add the roast and brown it on all sides.    Add stewed tomatoes then add enough water to cover the roast.  Let the liquid come to a simmer.  Add the tomato paste and stir.  Now add the onion powder, pepper and a little salt.  I don't like adding too much salt at the beginning stage, so maybe a pinch to start.  Once you have a good simmer going, you can rest, turn down the heat to low and place lid on pot.  Low and slow baby, low and slow.   You're going to let her simmer on low covered for 3 hours stove top.  You'll know it's ready when the meat is so tender, you don't have to work to cut it.  What I like to do once the roast is ready, is remove it from the sauce, season the sauce and thicken if necessary, slice the meat and return it to the pot.  Let it sit off the heat for a few minutes so the flavors penetrate the meat, then serve up some comfort.  

           
 
  
  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Octopus Salad and Puerto Rico...

Hi everyone, hope you're all doing well!

     I'm doing fine and am ready to share with you where I went and what I'm up to.  I'd like to begin by saying what I'm about to share with you still "stings" somewhat, but I find it necessary to tell my story because there's a lesson in it for everyone.
     A few months ago I announced that I am finally leaving Florida, I was elated at the simple thought of it.  Hell, I even got a farewell clambake and party at a friends house.  My destination? Puerto Rico!  Why?  In researching it, I learned there's this unspoken "foodie" movement there.  I'd read that the natives and tourists in Puerto Rico tend to seek out the street food vendors as opposed to actual restaurants.  A light bulb went on in my head, I thought "I could do that"  "I have the funds to start up a little kiosk type eatery on the road".
The more I thought of it, the more enticing it seemed.  I contacted my sister who lives there and we spoke at length for weeks or even months of the prospect, until one day I looked at my surroundings, measured the pro's and cons and realized that any change I made had to be better than my current situation.
     I turned to my daughter's and announced "we're leaving"!  They were happy to hear it, they too had been longing for a change and immediately began sorting out what they were taking and what was staying.  While the job I held for over three years offered the satisfaction one gets from helping and caring for others, I had a constant sense of unhappiness because in spite of that, it wasn't what I'd been working so hard to be a CHEF!
     I sold a lot of my belongings and shipped only my valued cooking paraphernalia, oh and my daughters  dolls of course.  I left some things in the care of a friend, which I would send for later if things went well, I announced to the Landlord that I am leaving, moved in with a friend for a week before I left.  June 10th 2013, my daughters and I left "the sunshine state" for La isla del encanto...
     We stayed in "Cayey" Puerto Rico as that is where my sister lives and we were to stay with her until we found our own place.  Cayey is pretty much all mountains, it is an hour away from San Juan or any body of water (beach I mean).  There are rivers nearby though, worth visiting.  Two weeks later we had found our own place, three weeks later, we bought a car, we were on our way.
     I got to work on acquiring a permit to sell food, initially I had been told one didn't need one.  But upon attempting to sell without one, I was informed by police I need one, ugh!  The process to get a vendor's permit in Cayey is one I had never heard of, one must go speak to the Mayor of the town and request it.  I got up super early one morning or rather I didn't sleep all night so as to head out by five A.M. as that is when everything happens in Puerto Rico, early!  I sat in the "Alcaldia" (Mayor's office) for five hours!  Turns out whenever people need something of importance such as: help for a disabled elderly person, housing, an increase in benefits, a vendor's permit they go to the Mayor, hence all the waiting.  I was told he doesn't always grant you a permit, but I had to try.    
     When it was my turn (my number was called)  I got nervous as there were a bunch of people in his office, but he came over to me and kindly asked me why I was there.  I told him I wanted a vendors permit and the area where I wanted to sell, he wrote it down on a "post it" and sent me to the second floor.  Six hours after I left my home, I had a temporary vendor's permit in my hand.
     Once I had the permit, I set out to build on the things I'd purchased to sell.  I'd already bought a table, disposable containers, an umbrella etc....Lastly I bought a nice tabletop grill and thought "now I've got it right".  I set out to my spot as much as possible as it rained a lot and I only had a beach umbrella.  One could only hold food for so long before you have to purchase fresh ingredients, so when I didn't sell, which seemed to be everyday, we ate the product for dinner.  Needless to say my friends, I "flopped", I tried everything I could in the area to succeed, but I flopped!
     Aside from the business flopping, the apartment I rented had no screens and insects became a real problem, I would never be able to own the title of the car I bought And with no revenue coming in, I was going broke.   I'd never felt such an intense disappointment in myself as I did in November, when I decided to return to "the sunshine state".  So that's my story good people, I was immersed in trying to get my business up and running there and that is why I hadn't written in a while.  In coming back I felt too embarrassed to write, but I've picked myself up and still hope to go somewhere with my culinary degree.
     The lesson I learned?  There is no happily ever after, no matter what you achieve or what you hope to achieve there will always be work to be done to maintain it or in your future endeavors to succeed.   I was however, glad to see my Puerto Rico again, but my next trip there will be purely recreational!
      I can't go without sharing my recipe for Octopus Salad, a staple I had on occasion growing up, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Thank you for reading, enjoy!

OCTOPUS SALAD

      1 pound of octopus
1 green pepper diced
1 tomato diced
10 stuffed green olives pitted diced
1/2 red onion diced
1 clove garlic made into paste
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt tt
pepper tt
     The octopus can be purchased chopped and frozen in some stores, if you're in Puerto Rico Walmart and Econo have it.  If you're in the States you may still find it in Walmart, if not buy a whole one at a fish monger.  If you buy a whole one, you will have to boil it until tender.  Remove the skin (Purple layer), then slice it up.  If bought frozen, let it thaw add to bowl and build it up with the ingredients.  Same for the cooked after slicing it add to a bowl and add all the ingredients above.  Mix it and serve with rice or verduras..  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Seared chicken with homemade cranberry sauce for VeryGoodRecipes Christmas Menu Challenge

     Hello and Happy Holidays to all you good people!  Once again I must apologize for my absence, in a future post I will explain.  Right now I'd like to announce that I've volunteered to Judge yet another cooking challenge from VeryGoodRecipes.com.  This challenge is dubbed "christmas menu" contestants must post a recipe with photo on verygoodrecipes.com before January 5th and soon after a decision will be made as to who had the best recipes.  To find out more go to http://verygoodrecipes.com/christmas-menu-challenge.  Our judges for this challenge are as follows:

Anyonita from Anyonita Nibbles
Clem from Urban Food Crawl
Jenny from Bubbule in cucina
Leslie from Culinary Chronicles
Marica from Cooking with Marica
Mark Anthony from Learning through food
Stefania from BigShade
Vera from Astal
Yankee Chef from The Yankee Chef

   I also have to post a recipe, so below you will find my seared chicken breast with homemade cranberry sauce.   The chicken will turn out tender and almost "melt in your mouth" and the cranberry sauce will offer that sweet/tartness that we love around the holidays.  Paired with potato salad or any  starch you prepare, the cranberry chicken mix will "deliver".  Below find my recipe for seared chicken with cranberry sauce and have a very merry christmas and the best new year ever!  Enjoy!

Seared chicken breast with homemade cranberry sauce

1 chicken breast
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
10 cranberries
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
4 tablespoons of water
salt
pepper

    Heat pan and add 2 tablespoons of oil.  Remove fat from chicken, season with salt and pepper.   Place in hot pan, heat until golden on both sides, while you are doing this you can preheat the oven to 350.  Place pan in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking in oven, start the cranberry sauce.  Add the water to a saucepan, add the cranberry sauce and melt it down.  Add the cinnamon, now add the cranberries.  The sauce is done when the cranberries have softened and the mixture is syrupy consistency.  Once the chicken is done let is "sit" foe a few minutes, then slice it.  Once sliced place on a pretty dish and pour the cranberry sauce over it.  I hope you enjoy this recipe..  
 
    
 

Monday, July 22, 2013

A clambake is born



Hi everyone! I’m hoping you all find yourselves well at this time.  I  know it’s been  a while since  I’ve posted and I do apologize for that  believe me it’s been torture not  being  able to do so until now.   But perhaps what I’ve got for you  today will make the wait worthwhile.   As my days in Florida neared the end, I felt something was missing, there were things I wanted to do there that just didn’t happen.  One being having a “clambake” with my friends.  Well, I mentioned it to some friends and we finally got together and made plans to realize my dreams of a clambake.  Everyone pitched in and bought the ingredients, our venue? “Boynton Beach” we were lucky enough to find the perfect shady spot and immediately went to work on our dinner.  

As we each prepped our items for the “pot” we joked and laughed and reminisced then one by one we placed the ingredients into the large stock pot and began having visions of what was to come.  While the contents of the pot cooked we continued on talking and laughing at each other’s expense, then the wonderful aroma emanating from the pot struck us and for a moment we were paralyzed by it.  Comments on the smell of seafood that had filled the air spilled from our mouths and we found ourselves anxious to eat.  Unable to wait any longer I grabbed a spoon and dipped it into the pot to have a taste and I ;yelled out “oh my gosh this rocks”! because it did, it rocked!  And soon enough everyone who could eat seafood tasted it and words like : the bomb, great and awesome were used..  It seemed  the seafood had taken on the flavor of the sausage and it was , well….MIND BLOWING! 

Soon after, we decided it was time to eat and removed the pot from the heat and onto the table.  We each grabbed a plate and helped ourselves to a nice serving of clams, corn, potatoes, sausage, mussels and shrimp, there was also grilled chicken, potato salad and grilled broccoli and asparagus.  We all found a spot to sit and the air was quiet for a while, that usually means it’s good.  When I was done, I just sat for a bit and took in the cool breeze coming my way, I watched my kids and friends enjoy the food and thought how great things had turned out.  Then almost instantly I realized this is how a clambake is born…

Putting together a clambake mainly lies in inviting good friends and family and having everyone contribute not only to the purchasing of the ingredients, but also to making it and basically having a great time in the process.  I have to say our clambake was a very nice way to say farewell.  Below find the ingredients for the clambake my friends and I had and enjoy!  Feel free to comment and join my site, I will post again soon from my new location. 

CLAMBAKE

4 tablespoons onion powder
4 tablespoons pepper
3 tablespoons chili powder 
salt to taste
2 tablespoons black pepper
3 dozen clams
3 dozen mussels
1 lb. large shrimp
8 corn stalks
5 lb. red potatoes
2 packs of kielbasa sausage

Fill large stock pot halfway with water and let simmer.   Add spices, let simmer a little more and stir.  Begin adding potatoes cut in half, corn stalks peeled and cut in half.  Then add clams and mussels, sausage.  The shrimp should go in last as they cook quickly.  Most people like to add beer to the pot so go right ahead.  Hope you enjoy this recipe, photos below.










     

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

THE SCANT SCALLOP



     Hello my good people, I hope you all had a happy Easter Sunday and have been well.  I know, I know, once again I've strayed from blogging, but know that I have been cooking and pondering great recipes to share with you all.  Just to update you on my latest shenanigans, I quit my job at the supermarket, turns out they only wanted me to make sandwiches and clean the kitchen, oh well... I've been surviving Florida without a car at first due to low finances, now by choice.  You see I figured if I want to move on I have to save money, so I ditched the car and car insurance and have joined the thousands of commuters who everday walk long stretches of road to make the next Palm Tran bus to their destination.  If your lucky the buses arrive every half hour, but mostly it seems the buses arrive when they arrive, there's just no telling. The good thing is that you can purchase a monthly bus pass for as low as ten dollars at the "Palm Tran Connection" office in Lake Worth, you must take four pay stubs and ID (just thought I'd throw that in there)


      There's even more news....wait for it.......I QUIT MY JOB!  The other job in Special Ed, the one I've worked for more than three years, that one.  Yes, yes I did it!  And the very second I handed in my letter of resignation a huge weight was lifted off of my being and I immediately felt free!  I started going to work with a bounce in my step and exotic jewelry, the happiness was shining through and my co-workers noticed.  But what is she going to do? I know that's what your thinking....well, I'm moving out of Florida, oh yeah!  No, not to Europe, not yet anyway.  It's best I not say where just yet, I want to actually be there when I announce it, I'm a bit superstitous that way.  Just know Leslie is going to make it happen for herself or at the very least try.  You can't be afraid to leave yuur "dead end" job for the "unknown" because the "unknown" could turn out to be better.  My last day at work is April 24th and I can't wait.  My friends say they will miss me, but there's no need to friends wherever I go you have a home, how's that?



     Sorry to keep you for so long from my recipe for "scallops" or "scant scallops, I call them that because I didn't use any fancy sauces or garnishes, I kept it real simple because sometimes simplicity yields great flavor too.  After I was done preparing this dish, I had to take a minute to just look at it, take it in the beauty of it and figure out how I was going to eat it.  It was simple, I sprinkled a little lemon over the scallops, cut one and put it in my mouth, WOW!  I got an explosion of flavor and some light crunch from both the searing of the scallop and the ground pistachio, that's right, pistachio!  So below find my recipe for scant scallops, try it, enjoy it and please feel free to leave a comment or a question.  Before I go I'd like to mention I've been told by various people that the process to join my site is difficult and that's why they haven't, so I checked it out and realized that if you sign in to your email account, then attempt to join my site it works out very well.  Thank you for reading and enjoy!

SCANT SCALLOPS

3 large scallops or the amount you need
4 pistachios
1/2 of a lemon
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 cup spring mix greens
2 tablespoons of olive oil

     Listen up, this goes for any type of meat or produce you sear or brown.  Always, always dry your meat, shellfish, fish or produce before attempting to sear.  Why? Because you've just heated a pan with some oil and then your going to go and add water to it, that cools it down and won't allow the food to brown properly, if at all.  Place the spring mix leaves on a plate and cut the half lemon in half and set it aside for while. Now take your scallops one at a time and dry them with a paper towel, set them down on a dry plate, okay?  Heat your pan. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and set them aside a minute.  Take your shelled pistachios and put them in a blender or food processor add the tiniest amount of salt and grind them.  Now add  the olive oil to the pan and let it heat a bit more.  Once the oil is hot, add in your DRY scallops, you should hear that sizzling sound.  It's no crime to gently lift a scallop to check it's color, but in my experience three minutes on one side and three minutes on the other will do it.  Remove the scallops from the pan onto your bed of spring mix leaves, sprinkle the ground pistachio over it, then drizzle some lemon on it and enjoy!









Monday, December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR! PANCAKES AND APPLE TOPPING!

      Happy New Year all!  Hope your doing well.  With the Christmas chaos behind me, I am now able to fully enjoy/appreciate the kitchen related gifts I was given by my daughters.  My eldest presented me with a wok, which I'd been wanting for some time now and mentioned every single time we passed them by in the kitchenware section of whatever store we were in.   My youngest bestowed upon me an electric griddle, now I'd forgotten I wanted a griddle, I was distracted by the visions of "Bath and Body Works" dancing in my head.  While I was given the gifts of various "Bath and Body Works" items (thank you so much) and enjoyed them immediately, the griddle was now heavy on my mind.
      My younger daughter questioned whether I even liked the gift she'd given me for I hadn't even unpacked it, little did she know I was thinking, planning the first food I would prepare on it.  "You could make pancakes mom" she said while I pondered.  She's brilliant, don't you think?  Although that is what I had in mind as well (it was).  So I got to work on putting together a pancake batter from scratch, I have to tell you they were so good, I just had to share the recipe with you.  These pancakes are fluffy and moist and delicious all on their own.  However, I decided to make a topping of sauteed apples in butter and browned some ham, the three grouped together inspired a nod of satisfaction oohhs! and aahhs! and perhaps even some mmms!  Below find the recipe for fluffy pancake batter, take care and enjoy! Oh and Happy New Year!
Fluffy Pancake Batter

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
1 cup of evaporated milk
3 tablespoons of vinegar
3 tablespoons of butter
   In a medium bowl pour evaporated milk and vinegar, set aside for five or six minutes (should look like curdled milk).  Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl and lightly incorporate.  Soften butter, then pour into milk and vinegar mixture add the egg as well and whisk it together. Now add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until completely incorporated, not long.  The batter will be very thick and should yield about eight medium sized pancakes.  Enjoy!