Wish Upon A Dish

April 4, 2015

The Best Classic Buttermilk Pancakes I Ever Made

I have tried hundreds of pancake recipes and while a few have been passable, none were ever "hmmmm, hmmmm, good" enough.

Until last weekend.

The Nudge used to ask for pancakes. I give him a choice of whatever he wants on Sunday.
Yes, anything he wants. Dangerous? I think not. He's easy, he only ever asks for 3 things and in order of breakfast love, are:

Eggs Over Easy

(all with a side of bacon,) and

Eggs Benedict (only on holidays, ty)

Lately I noticed a slight adjustment. Pancakes had been cut from the cast and I have a new breakfast I need to perfect. French Toast.
There are rules. No sliced white bread, rustic thick sliced bread, no filling, no fruits and crunchy on the outside, creamy in the middle.
That's when I went looking for a new pancake recipe.
Hey it's Sunday morning, my day to read the paper and drink coffee in bed, you know, a small snippet of time, where I don't do one thing for anyone but me? It may be a small window of time but since he gets the rest of my attention, I insist on keeping mine.
Last two weekends I had to make the milk/cream soaking mixture, slice dry bread into equal thicknesses and watch as my second cup of coffee gets cold while my pan gets hot, sigh.

If I can find the ultimate pancake recipe, I will have my Sunday mornings back again.
I need those 3 hours to recharge my batteries.

Wow, warm weather better get here fast, so I can slice bagels, open the tub of cream cheese and the mixed container of fresh fruits along with a glass of Sangria, sitting outside in the sun with the paper and a cuppa and still have "my time".

I am happy to report that not only are these the best pancakes I ever made (I actually think I can get a 4 hour morning!),  I can make this batter the night before and it's even better the next morning.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Fine Cooking, I am totally in debt. Now find me a French Toast recipe that passes the rules and can be made the night before and I might even subscribe to your magazine.. 

Basic Buttermilk Pancakes
makes 3 Tbs. unsalted butter; more for serving
Adapted from FineCooking.com

* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used ICBINB lite)
* 9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 2 cups buttermilk
* 2 large eggs (I use x-large)

* Vegetable oil for the griddle (I use a butter-flavored spray)

Maple syrup for serving

Heat the oven to 200°F. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove and set aside to cool briefly.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk gently until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated; stop before the batter is evenly moistened. Add the cooled melted butter and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened (there will be lumps). Let the batter rest while you heat the griddle.

Heat a griddle or a large skillet over medium heat (or set an electric griddle to 375°F) until drops of water briefly dance on the surface before evaporating. Lightly oil the griddle. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each pancake, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Let cook undisturbed until bubbles rise to the surface and the edges look dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Check the underside of each pancake to make sure it’s nicely browned; then flip. Cook until the second side is nicely browned, about 1 minute more. Transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.Cooked pancakes will keep, sealed in freezer bags, for up to 2 days in the refrigerator and up to 1 month in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes.

Size : per pancake; Calories (kcal): 110; Fat (g): fat g 3.5; Fat Calories (kcal): 30; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1.5; Protein (g): protein g 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 16; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 170; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 30; Fiber (g): fiber g 0; 


March 31, 2015

Kielbasa Cassoulet Casserole

In this house the list of favorite sausages has to start with a good hot Italian sausage. After that, kielbasa is a close second.
Growing up it was knockwursts because it was a simple bologna mixture shaped into a fat hot dog shape, as cute as a bug and perfect for little kitty taste buds.
Hey, sorry but back in the 60's that was it, no bratwurst or kielbasa.

Today, somehow (and The Nudge still has no idea why) one knockwurst always sneaks into our annual grilled sausage board dinner, then disappears until next year. Kielbasa? must be the garlic, we adore it. Trust me when I tell you that Hillshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa tastes as good as the original and so much healthier (compare the labels) and makes it OK to serve at least once a month.

Usually I prepare it this way unless grilled, but this time I wanted something different and I started to lean towards a baked presentation. Shame on me, I swore I would not go down that road unless it was a Mac 'n Cheese.

This is the time that you will find be staring at my canned goods and when I spotted a can of small white beans, I knew where I was going.

Since kielbasa is of European dissent (Polish & Ukrainian) I was actually thinking French and that wonderful dish Cassoulet.

A Cassoulet uses garlic sausage, duck, white beans and bacon. OK, no duck or bacon so I moved a country over and added an Italian twist. By infusing wonderful Italian flavors into the beans, I was able to make a broth that would flavor the whole dish. Sounds complicated? It was actually a two pan operation.

I sauteed aromatics in a small stock pot, added the beans, three cups of chicken broth, sliced red peppers and chopped kale and simmered them for 30 minutes.
I added another cup of water and drained the liquid into a measuring cup.

I needed three full cups of liquid to cook the noodles. 3 cups back into the stock pot, the noodles boiled for 5 minutes. Add the bean mixture, the kielbasa and a Knorr packet of Alfredo sauce and a packet of 4-Cheese sauce. Stir to combine and pour everything back into a baking pan. Top with bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and olive oil and bake for 30 minutes at 350° and 15 minutes at 400° to brown the top.

Over the top with flavor and texture, this version is healthier than a traditional Cassoulet and I know that tomorrow it will be even better.

Let's get cooking....

Kielbasa Cassoulet Casserole
makes 4 servings

* 1 turkey kielbasa, sliced into 1/3" coins
* 3 cups No Yolks broad noodles
* 3 cups chicken broth
* 1 can small white beans, drained and rinsed well
* 1/2 small white onion, chopped
* 1 large garlic cloves, chopped
* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves (not ground)
* freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup chopped kale
* 1/2 large red pepper, 1" thin slices
* 1/2 cup dried croissant crumbs
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese
* EVOO for finishing

Preheat the oven to 350°.

1. In a 2 quart stockpot with a tablespoon of olive oil, add the white onion, garlic, bay, red pepper flakes, rosemary and saute until the onions are soft. Add the beans and the broth. Season with black pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile slice the red pepper and the kielbasa and chop the kale. Make the breadcrumb/cheese topping. Reserve.

3. After 30 minutes drain the bean mixture and pour the broth back into the pot. Remove the bay leaf. Add the egg noodles, kale and red pepper to the broth and gently boil for 5 minutes.

4. To the broth/egg noodles, add the packets of sauce mix, whisk to combine and bring back to a simmer. Add the beans to the noodles and then the kielbasa, stir and pour into a casserole pan.

5. Top with the breadcrumb/cheese mixture and a drizzle olive oil.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and then up the heat to 400° and bake until the top browns, about 15 minutes. Remove, cool and serve.

March 30, 2015

Meatball Biscuit Sliders ♥ Dinner that can be eaten while you work

I haven't forgotten that my last post was over a week ago, but this time of year my business explodes. It isn't strange to find me eating right where I work and when The Nudge is traveling, I don't leave my work bench until I shut the house for the night. I have no time to plan much of anything so I grab lots of quickies that require almost no cooking and that means foods that are eaten in hand.

Of course, knowing this will happen like clock-work every spring I do think ahead. I make a batch of meatballs that I cook in a homemade sauce and freeze in large plastic containers. Dinner done.
I always have biscuits or rolls in the freezer and basic cold cuts in the cooler drawer. Pestos of all flavors are a great staple to have. It elevates a basic sandwich to another level.

While a pizza could be a good go to, I hate delivery pizza and unless The Nudge picks one up on his way home, you will never see a delivery man of any kind in my driveway.

As you can see, these photos were taken wright were I work (please excuse) but if you are like me and certain weeks are crushers on the dinner plans, maybe these will help you out.

The kids love them and they are so easy to prepare in the oven, in one pan, so no cleanup.

More about the technique than the recipe, they were ooey gooey cheesy sloppy good!!

You will need:
A dozen large meatballs, homemade or store bought
Fresh mozzarella
Marinara sauce,homemade or store bought
Package of biscuits, pop cans or frozen
Pesto, homemade or store bought

Muffin tin, regular or Texas depending on the size of your meatballs (aluminum for easier cleanup)

Ladle marinara sauce into each muffin tin, place a room temperature meatball into each tin and top with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven and set the temperature to what is required for baking the biscuits.
In a sheet pan, bake the biscuits as per package directions.
Split baked biscuits in halve and spoon a tablespoon of pesto on to each top.
Spoon the contents of each muffin tin onto the biscuit bottoms, pressing to split the meatballs so they would sit better, place the pesto top over the cheese covered meatball and serve hot.

Any leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated. Nuke for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.

These were so good and while I made three, I could only eat two.
I love that I have found other uses for my muffin tins because I do not make muffins.
This technique can be used for multiple food combinations and I find the Texas-sized muffin pan the most versatile.

Back to the drawing board. I have a dozen plates that must be shipped by Easter.