Grazing at HOK

We share the dinner prep here at HOK (House of Kelley). When it’s my turn I have a problem waiting for everyone to get home. I can barely stave off hunger while chopping, slicing and sautéing. I’m a grazer.

Here’s my new hold-me-off-until-dinner graze plate:

Zero fat.
Only 35 measly calories in five of them.

What am I describing?  Peppadews of course!

Prepare yourself a little plate – Peppadews, cucumbers, Feta, and some Peppadew brine lightly sprinkled on top, punctuated with cracked pepper. This also makes a tasty and light appetizer. Keep the ingredients on hand. Maybe pour a glass of wine while you graze and cook? (Just a thought…)

So That’s What the Burner on the Gas Grill is For!

It’s summer and I can’t even think about heating up the oven or making a mess on the stove. But I wanted to try to make homemade potato chips in a healthy oil, but deep fat-frying is not something I ever do.

Eureka! So that’s why they put a gas burner on the gas grill! Make the chips and serve them hot while dinner is cooking on the grill. Hot chips, a savory blue cheese dip and cold beer – what a hit (and dinner hadn’t even started yet!).

Potato Chips with Savory Blue Cheese Dip

Season your chips with anything like Old Bay, pepper, BBQ dry rub, etc. I used sea salt because of the blue cheese dip. You can also make any kind of dip or use a fresh produce-section blue cheese dressing. Even basic Heinz Ketchup makes a great dip with chips seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper.

Chips

  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled, sliced lengthwise thinly on a mandolin slicer (hold at room temp, no need to put in water, it’s okay if they turn a little brown)
  • 3 cups of canola oil

Heat the oil in a large saucepan to very hot, about 375 degrees. A good test is to splash a few drops of water in the oil and if it sizzles and spurts, it’s ready to go.

Fry small batches of potatoes, turning as they brown to the desired color (about 5 minutes)

Drain on paper towels, season with salt or desired seasonings and serve immediately.

Blue Cheese Dip

  • 1/2 cup shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups milk, warmed to almost simmering
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or fresh chives, chopped

Saute shallots in butter until soft, about five minutes. Add flour and whisk for a minute. Whisk in one cup of milk until thick, add extra milk for desired consistency. Serve warm or chilled. Top with fresh herbs and more blue cheese if you wish. You can make this first on that same outdoor burner before you start the chips. Or make the day ahead.

Bob’s Bunz

bobs bunsIt’s a balmy 70 degrees this Saturday morning in Islamorada in the Florida Keys and what better way to start the day than with Bob’s Bunz? If you’re nearby, stop in for some real local flavor, not to mention hospitality from Chef Robert Spencer and Gloria Teague

You’ll be glad you did!BobsBuns

What Food Would You Put in a Time Capsule?

Hands down, we must include Chex Party Mix. I know there is nothing groundbreaking about Chex Mix but what happened right before the NFL playoff games is telling. My friend Margaret enjoys lining up her snacks for the big games, so she often mixes up a batch of homemade Chex Mix.

Our 13-year-old son says: “Chex Mix? She makes it? Don’t you just buy it in a bag?”

He was deeply baffled. Oh, how sad our children don’t know the pleasures of a good old-fashioned Chex Mix hot from the oven all spiced up with as much Worscestshire as you like. Sure, you can buy all kinds of delicious Chex Mix in a bag—original flavor or many varieties some of which are all gooed up with chocolate, peanut butter, cheese, and other flavors.

To prove my point that it could be done, I gathered the ingredients, made up a batch and the kids went nuts (pun intended) over the warm and crispy snack fresh out of the oven. I added oyster crackers, adjusted the nuts to our liking and even added a little extra Worcestershire. The Chex Party Mix is long gone but now I am left with boxes of Chex cereals lining my pantry shelf.

Guess what I’ll be making for the Super Bowl? And one final note: there are now directions on the cereal box for making the popular mix in the microwave. Don’t go there folks. Hold on to tradition. 

The Original Chex® Party Mix

Click here for nutritional information and more recipes for Chex Party Mix.

  • 3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
  • 3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
  • 3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
  • 1 cup bite-sized pretzels
  • 1 cup garlic flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into one-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Heat oven to 250 degrees. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Bake one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Stir in airtight container.

No-Bake Christmas Cookies

My mom always made these cookies at Christmas. I have no idea where the recipe came from, I only know it as hers. They are easy to make and require no baking. The result is a rich coconut-date-nut ball that everyone loves. You can make them ahead and freeze them. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does. (My son still thinks there is chocolate in them!)

No-Bake Coconut-Date-Nut Balls

  • 1-1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup butter or margarine

Cook the above ingredients in a large saucepan on medium heat until thick…about 10 minutes after the butter melts and all is bubbly. Stir to prevent sticking and burning.

Add:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup nuts

Form into balls and roll in coconut. Chill. Freezes well.

It’s All in the Pan, Margaret

Stump du NoelI sent a photo of my Stump de Noël to my friend Margaret and her response was, “Beautiful. I never had the nerve to make one. Wow!”

For the “stump cake” (which I began to fondly call it), it’s all in the pan — specifically a good Nordic Ware® pan made in Minnesota. This particular pan was made by the company specially for Williams-Sonoma. The label on the pan said, “Bake a classic holiday cake in an enchanting woodland shape.”

The stump cake is a takeoff of the legendary Bûche de Noël. The French version is a sponge cake baked in a jelly roll pan and filled with butter cream. The cake and cream is then rolled into a “log” and decorated to look like it is hanging out in the forest (except it’s on your table).

The recipe for this cake came with the pan, so I won’t share it because it is particular to this pan and I’m not sure it will translate into another type of pan. However, if you feel you have the nerve, there are many Bûche de Noël recipes on the Internet like this one from the Food Network. There is also a YouTube video that makes yule-log making look like child’s play. The woman who gives the lesson (we never see her face, only her chocolate-covered hands), acts like she whips these logs up at the drop of a hat.

I made the stump cake for the office holiday party. I have to admit, I had a lot of fun making it, especially the decorating part. When it came out of the oven, my son, looking mesmerized, commented, “It really does look like a stump!”I baked the meringue mushrooms (which people fought over), garnished it with rosemary sprigs and cranberries (click here for the how-to on garnish), cut fresh holly and magnolia leaves from my yard, and used moss as a backdrop. One person thought the woodland scene was a centerpiece and was shocked when I cut into it. The accolades made it all worth it.

So, Margaret, get up the nerve, it’s not that complicated to make a Bûche de Noël, especially after you watch the YouTube lady do it.

I dusted my meringue mushrooms with cocoa.

I dusted my meringue mushrooms with cocoa.

Joyeux Noel!

What’s Blooming in Your Kitchen?

Brownie Blooms

I know your time is precious but this will be quick and easy. All you need is a lovely flower mold like the one pictured below from Nordic Ware and a boxed brownie mix.

Prepare the molds by spraying them with cooking spray then dusting with flour.

Prepare the brownie batter by following the instructions on the box for cake-like brownies. Using a tablespoon, fill the molds three-quarters full. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan and gently remove. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Arrange on a pretty tray and punctuate with fresh berries for added flair.

If you have lots of time to spare, use your favorite brownie recipe. But if you are like me this particular week, there is no time, yet I still volunteered to take something to work for a special event.

Brownie Blooms…just in time for spring!