Chocolate Soufflés

Chocolate Soufflés
I’ve always had a thing for soufflés, chocolate soufflés to be exact, but I’ve never made them. There are a lot of things in the culinary world that people attach myths to, soufflés being one of them. The lore with soufflés is that they’re incredibly hard to make, near on impossible in fact. You end up with more ruined soufflés, than actual successes. Me? I bought in to that. Silly really, when they’re actually a lot easier to make than some might want you to believe.

This month for Baking on the 15th I was the host, and I thought it was time to tackle my fear of soufflés. I became Soufflé Girl! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a Doctor Who reference, I just couldn’t.) Not only was it much easier than I expected, I would happily make these again. I decided to go with “Individual Chocolate Soufflés with Vanilla Bean Custard Sauce” (aka crème anglaise) from The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. If you’re unfamiliar with this cookbook, it has an interesting way of writing things up, some argue confusing, but it’s one of the few cookbooks I actually still have a copy of, though I’ve never used it. Thankfully Kelly went through and typed up the recipe for me, since Jamison was having his first of several oral surgeries when the big reveal occurred, and cleared things up a bit as she went. This made it easy to print out and hang up for easy reference while baking:

Chocolate Soufflés: Recipe

I’m getting attached to this method of recipe gandering. 😉

First let’s talk ingredients:

Chocolate Soufflés

The recipe called for coffee, rum, or water, but as I loathe coffee, and I wasn’t feeling the rum, while thinking the water was too bland, I decided to use some chocolate liqueur instead. I had originally thought chocolate vodka, but I realized I was out when I ventured out to the freezer. I remembered I had some Godiva liqueur in the cabinet and went with that instead and as I expected, it turned out pleasantly well.

The recipe said to place the bowl with the chocolate, liqueur and butter in a skillet of water, and I thought that was weird, so I did a double boiler set up instead:

Chocolate Soufflés

I like double boilers. They make sense to me. I was worried about scorching the chocolate the other way, though I’m sure it would have worked. Maybe.

The recipe calls for using 10-11 ounce ramekins. I’m not sure what size me ramekins are. I’ve had them forever and they aren’t stamped on the bottom. I ended up using two different kinds to use up all the batter. Here they are buttered and sugared:

Chocolate Soufflés

You see the smaller heart ramekins and the bigger round variety. I baked the round with the hearts first, and then baked an additional three in the white dishes.

They baked up perfectly! I mean look at this:

Chocolate Soufflés

The “batter” was dreamy too:

Chocolate Soufflés

Very smooth and creamy. Also airy, which I suppose you’re looking for with a soufflé.

The bigger ramekins baked up nicely as well:

Chocolate Soufflés

Now let’s talk about the vanilla custard sauce aka crème anglaise!

This stuff was heavenly. Absolutely fabulous! It was good warm and was superb chilled! After the soufflés are baked, you punch a whole in the center and spoon in the crème anglaise. I found other uses for it too, such as drizzled over strawberries:

Chocolate Soufflés: Crème Anglaise

Or keeping with the strawberry theme, as they were in season a few weeks ago, how about on a nice slice of strawberry pie:

Chocolate Soufflés: Crème Anglaise

I even took the basic recipe for the crème anglaise and added (you guess it!) strawberries to it and made ice cream. I’ll definitely be making the sauce and the ice cream again too!

Mine didn’t end up deflating much, though the recipe said they would. They held their shape through to the next day. Surprisingly even Jamison tried one and liked it. Given they are gluten free, he was able. He doesn’t usually venture to try new things, but in this case he did. I recently got him to try bulgogi too, but that’s a story for another time. Lex liked them too, and of course I loved them!

Chocolate Soufflés

Sometimes it’s good to go out of your comfort zone in the kitchen. Every time I have, I’ve been surprised by the result, usually in a good way. Who knows what I’ll tackle next? 😉

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits: Sunlight
There is nothing as awesome as a fluffy, warm, buttermilk biscuits, slathered in butter and some jam or jelly. In the south they take their biscuits seriously. Every person who makes buttermilk biscuits think theirs are the best, and their families will adamantly agree. I’m here to tell you I think mine are the best, because of course I do, and they really, really are! 😉

My mom made bread occasionally, but I don’t ever remember her making biscuits. That didn’t stop her from helping me figure them out though, and I actually won a ribbon in 4-H for buttermilk biscuits. In all honesty, there weren’t many entries, and I remember mine were sort of misshapen, but they tasted really good. After that I didn’t revisit buttermilk biscuits again until after Jamison and I married. Even then it took me a while to get them exactly how I imagined them in my head, and it was long after we figured out Jamison is allergic to gluten, but I finally did, and these are the result.

Buttermilk Biscuits: Goodness

The biscuits mix up quick, and in no time you have fluffy, warm pillows of goodness, ready for your favorite butter and toppings. We’re talking 30 minutes from start to finish. They’re good for sausage and ham biscuits too, or breakfast sandwiches, or they’re perfect just as is. No matter how you slice them, you’re looking at buttermilk biscuit perfection!

Buttermilk Biscuits: Ready to Eat

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
Buttermilk
1 pastry cutter or fork
Flour for the counter and cutter
1 biscuit cutter or small glass

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar until incorporated. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter in to the flour mixture until crumbles form. Next stir in butter milk until dough forms. Start with 1/2 a cup and slowly add more until dough forms in to a ball. It may be a bit between crumbly and sticky at the same time, it’s funny like that, but that’s ok. Usually you’re going to use about 1 cup of buttermilk total, but you might need slightly more, or slightly less, depending on the humidity and such.

Take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a surface that has been sprinkled with a thin layer of flour. Give the dough a few kneads to incorporate all of the ingredients. If it’s sticky, sprinkle on a bit more flour and knead it in until it’s a relatively dry dough. Shape the dough in to a round and flatten to about and inch thick. Fold the dough over on itself toward the middle from both sides and then press the dough back out again to an inch once more. Repeat this 2 or 3 times.

After the final press, take a biscuit cutter or a small glass and dip it in flour and cut your biscuits and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Cut the dough until you run out. You may need to shape the last of the dough in to a round for baking. Depending on the size of your cutter, you’ll end up with 8-14 biscuits, give or take.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

Buttermilk Biscuits: Baking

Notes: I like to use King Arthur Flour. I really like their products. I’ve used White Lilly in the past as well, I did grown up in Tennessee after all, but I really prefer King Arthur.

I use organic cane sugar in everything, but regular refined sugar will work ok too. The same with the sea salt, I always use it, but table salt will work too, though I find it to be a bit more strong that sea salt, so you might want to cut it back to 1/2 -3/4ths a teaspoon if you do go that route.

A word on the folding of the dough. This is a very quick method that forms the layers of the biscuit. I mean look at these beautiful little layers:

Buttermilk Biscuits: Layers

Aren’t they gorgeous?

My favorite toppings are Irish butter and strawberry or blueberry jam. These are a few of my favorites:

Buttermilk Biscuits: Jelly, Jam and Irish Butter

Pumpkin or sweet potato butters are good as well.

Now it’s time to eat! Enjoy!

Baking on the 15th: Strawberry Choux Cake

Strawberry Choux Cake: A Slice
There’s a new group I’m participating with on Facebook started by Kelly of Sass and Veracity called Baking on the 15th, which is just as it sounds, we bake a shared recipe, and then we post about it on the 15th of each month, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, our blog, and/or whatever social media portal we choose. Kelly got us started this first month with a Strawberry Choux Cake adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg. Think a giant cream puff with strawberry compote cream and Chantilly cream. In short, right up my ally!

So the “scary” part of this cake was the choux. Choux can be a bit tricky, though I’ve made it once before. Years ago when I was in Daring Bakers, we made eclairs, and that was my one and only venture in to anything in the choux family. My choux failed for the most part on that little adventure, and I never got back around to trying it again. I’ve thought about it a few times, but just never got up the nerve. I mean, who doesn’t like a good cream puff or eclair? I’m a big fan of eclairs, with freshly made pastry cream, drizzled in chocolate. To me, that’s the very definition of heaven on a plate!

This time my choux actually puffed! I mean look at this crazy beast of a puffy mountain:

Strawberry Choux Cake: Choux Baking

It wasn’t soggy, it was just perfect. I was very pleased with how it turned out, though I did a double take when I first glanced in the oven. I was a bit afraid it was coming after us and planning to take over the world! 😉

One of the interesting things about this, though not surprising since this is a very European cake, was the weighed ingredients. I have a kitchen scale, but I had never used it for baking before. We used both cake flour and bread flour, and both were weighed. The butter and eggs were also weighed, though I will admit to measuring the eggs in a quart jar, instead of weighing them. I did weigh everything else though.

Strawberry Choux Cake: Weighing Flour

This cake had quite the ingredient volume when you think about it. I had never baked anything that ended up taking 16 extra large eggs before. Another ingredient that was new to me was ammonium carbonate. I made the mistake of smelling this and wished I hadn’t. I’m also a dough taster, and that wasn’t pleasant either, though once baked the taste faded.

Here is a look at what went in to the cake:

Strawberry Choux Cake: The Ingredients

I don’t usually measure out things before I start and dirty separate dishes, but I felt like I need to, to keep things straight for this one.

I also taped the recipe up so I could keep referring back to it:

Strawberry Choux Cake: The Recipe

I lost count of how many times I read this bad boy through from beginning to end, and in bits and pieces as I went, but it was a lot. Choux is a bit complicated, but it’s worth it in the end.

The first step was making the choux and then letting it cool. While the choux was cooling, you started working on the elements of the cake. The first thing you started was the Strawberry Compote component of the cake, though you didn’t finish it until the cake was entirely cooled. You cook the strawberries with some sugar and lime juice and let it cool, then you add gelatin softened in water and whip some cream, and finally you add in the chilled strawberry mixture. This is the filling for your cake.

Once the choux is cooled, you cut rounds out of your baked choux. I ended up using the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan as my circle, and formed the cake inside the pan. I had 3 layers of coux, with the strawberry compote in between each layer, and on top. I let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so before the next step:

Strawberry Choux Cake: Strawberry Cream Setting

After the strawberry compote is set, you make a batch of Chantilly cream to “ice” and decorate the cake. Chantilly cream is basically just whipped cream with a little vanilla bean and extract thrown in for fun. I added in 1/4 a cup of sugar, instead of a tablespoon, because I liked my whipped cream a bit more sweetened that that.

Once it’s made, you spread the mixture over the layers of choux and strawberry compote cream. I piped a border around the bottom and the top, and then you spread out strawberries to decorate. I decided to cover the top of my cake with strawberry slices in a fan pattern on top, and a single whole strawberry in the middle. Then you take some of the left over choux bits and toast them until they crumble and sprinkle them over the top:

Strawberry Choux Cake: Decorated

At this point you’re supposed to sprinkle it all with powdered sugar, but I forgot that step. I kind of wish I hadn’t though. I think it would have added an extra little pop.

Overall I really liked this. It’s not quite as sweet as our American desserts. It’s sort of fresh and light. I’d love to try it again and use blueberries or blackberries instead. I also added a little chocolate drizzle to one of the slices and it was a nice addition. This reminds me of something I saw in a bakery window in Paris. I’d definitely make it again!

Strawberry Choux Cake

Take a look at some of the other posts and their gorgeous cakes!

Sass and Veracity

Barbara Bakes

Once a Time a Time

Creative Culinary

Next month I’m hosting, so stop by again and see what we bake next!

Not Your Mama’s Tiramisu

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu

If you’ve been around Dianne’s Dishes a while, you probably have heard me lament my extreme distaste for coffee. I just don’t like it. The flavor doesn’t appeal to me. If you get enough cream and sugar in the cup to make it somewhat palatable, you’re actually drinking sugar sludge and that’s not appealing either. Therefore, tiramisu has never been a favorite, in fact though I’ve tried many times, I’d rather pass. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of tiramisu, but in actuality? No…not so much! I mean come on! Creamy layers of soaked lady fingers, with a sprinkling of chocolate for fun? Divine…IF you leave out the coffee, because coffee! Blech!

A few years ago I stumbled across a recipe for a coffee free tiramisu and I was intrigued. As is often the case I intended to make it, and then got tied up in this crazy ride we call life, and never got around to it, because isn’t that how it always goes? A few months ago around Christmas I decided I was going to make some and set out to acquire lady fingers, only to find those buggers are harder than you would think to locate, so I got side tracked…again.

I finally decided to check Amazon, and wouldn’t you know it, lady fingers! Then as is par for the course, I got side tracked again. I even put them in my cart, and still forgot them. I finally got back to the whole idea this weekend.

When I had ordered the lady fingers, I actually looked at the recipe for the first time in years and wasn’t convinced it was what I wanted to do. It just wasn’t quite right. I did some research and found other coffeeless recipes, but they weren’t quite it either and in the grand tradition of kitchen experimentation I thought, “Screw it! I’m going rouge!” and what I ended up with is so good, whether you like coffee or not, you won’t miss it. I promise! And if you like chocolate this is definitely the dessert for you!

So here we have my coffee free tiramisu! It’s definitely not like your Mom would make, but that’s not a bad thing…at all! One day, I plan to experiment with a chocolate tea variety, but that is a story for another day. So sit back, relax, and let’s make a little tiramisu…and hold the coffee, please!

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ingredients

What You’ll Need to Soak the Lady Fingers:
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup of chocolate vodka or liqueur

Stir the ingredients together in a small pot. Heath through until sugar is melted.

Yes…you just made hot chocolate! 😉

Sit aside and let cool to room temperature.

What you’ll Need for the First Part of the Cream Layer:
4 egg yolks (Note: If you have a thing about raw eggs, this is not the recipe for you.)
1/4 cup of sugar

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a glass bowl and beat on medium/high for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and the air in the mixture makes it look bigger. It’ll be very creamy. Set aside.

What You’ll need for the Second Part of the Cream Layer:
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1 – 8 ounce package of mascarpone, softened

Beat the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and beat until incorporated.

Now you’re going to mix the first part of the cream layer and the second part of the cream layer together.

Fold the second part in to the first egg mixture until incorporated:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Cream

Now comes the assembly.

Give an 8 X 8 inch dish a quick spray of non-stick spray, or if you want to go a little crazy, give it a rub with butter. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with about a tablespoon of cocoa powder:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Cocoa

Next you will start making your lady finger layer. Take a lady finger and dip it in the cooled hot chocolate mixture, coating both sides and place in the your baking dish:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Starting Out

Repeat this process until the bottom of the dish is covered. You may have to break a few of the lady fingers to get them to fit toward the end:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for the Cream Layer

If you soak the lady fingers more than a few seconds they’ll disintegrate. I like to just give them a dip on one side, and then on the other.

Add 1/2 of the cream mixture and spread out over top of the soaked lady finger layer:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for the Second Layer

Then repeat with another layer of soaked lady fingers:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Second Layer

And then top with the remaining cream mixture:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for Chocolate Garnish

Now this is where you can have a bit of fun. You can shave chocolate over the top, drizzle it, or go a little nuts like I did, and place a dark chocolate ganache heart on top of each slice. It makes it easier to tell where you’ll slice it later too:

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Ready for the Fridge

And now comes the hard part. You need to place your tiramisu in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight. You’ll want to cut right in, but trust me, sitting makes it better. The lady fingers become soft, the flavors meld and you end up with lovely, gorgeous layers!

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: Layers

I had some the next day for second breakfast. What? You didn’t know I was a Hobbit? 😉

Take a look at this forkful of goodness!

Not Your Mama's Tiramisu: A Bite

Even though it’s hard, you’ll be glad you waited! Now dig in and enjoy!

Notes: There are so many variations you could do with this. You could add 1/3 cup of cocoa in to the cream mixture for a more concentrated chocolate flavor. You could add in some salted caramel elements to give a bit of a twist. If you just wanted to, you could add in espresso in place of hot chocolate, but that would defeat the purpose as far as I’m concerned, now wouldn’t it! 😉

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole
Growing up in the South I attended a lot of pot luck dinners. There were always certain things there, and amusingly, everyone had a different way of making them. Deviled eggs usually made an appearance, some made with pickle relish, some not, some sprinkled with paprika, some piped with a flower icing tip. Another sure bet was cornbread. You’d find some people made it sweet, some didn’t, and which ever camp you were in, you were adamant that your cornbread was the best. There was usually a Jello salad of some sort. And you’d almost certainly find some sort of Ambrosia salad. Potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken…oh my! No two were alike. Ever. Another sure bet was a chicken casserole.

Chicken casserole, oh the many ways this dish can be made! This variety is made with a cornbread/stuffing like topping. When I go to Tennessee these days, I end up cooking a few times while I’m there. My mom doesn’t enjoy cooking anymore and she jokes that she’s my sous chef and does the chopping and cleaning. Last week when I was there, I made Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Casserole and Irish Stew on Saint Patrick’s Day. This version of Chicken Casserole is mostly how my mom made it. It has a cornbread/stuffing topping, two kinds of cream of soups, lots of chicken, and a surprise ingredient that she usually didn’t add…sour cream.

This makes the perfect meal, paired with a salad. It’s hearty and the ultimate comfort food when you’re looking for something that reminds you of childhood, or my childhood at least. You can’t go wrong.

What You’ll Need:
2-3 cups of chicken, chopped (Note: You can use white meat or dark meat or a mix of both.)
1 can of cream of celery soup (Note: You can buy a soup or make you own. I usually make one, but this go around I stuck to the canned variety. Pacific makes some good cream of soups you could use. If you can’t find celery, you can use cream of chicken.)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Note: See above.)
1 cup of sour cream
Sea salt
Pepper
4-6 cups of crumbled cornbread (Note: I prefer unsweetened cornbread for this, but when I made it at my mom’s house we used a Jiffy mix and it was good. Again it’s a preference thing. I think it’s better with regular cornbread, but you can go either way. Use 4 cups if you want a thinner topping, 6 if you like a thicker variety.)
2 tablespoons of ground sage
2 eggs
1 cup of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray and spread out the chicken in an even layer:

Chicken Casserole: Chicken

Add soups, sour cream, a pinch of each salt and black pepper to the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Soups, Sour Cream, Salt and Pepper

Stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Ready for Cornbread Topping

In a separate bowl, crumble the corn bread:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread

Add a pinch of each salt and pepper and the ground sage:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread, Sage, Salt and Pepper

Next add eggs and broth and stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread Topping Ready to Spread

Spread the cornbread mixture out over the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Read to Bake

Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown:

Chicken Casserole: Baked!

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: There are so many variations of this casserole you can make. If you want, you can use a stuffing mix as the topping, instead of making a basic cornbread stuffing. More chicken is fine, so is less. You can switch out the soups and use different kinds. Mom had some sour cream that needed to be used, so that’s why I added it this time, as an experiment, and I ended up liking it a lot, but if you don’t have sour cream, you could use a little milk of cream instead, about 1/2 a cup.

Dianne’s Crazy Good Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I have always loved spinach artichoke dip. I mean what’s not to like, it’s gooey, cheesy goodness. Before Alexis was born, I started experimenting with making my own. This recipe is what has evolved over time. The components are mostly the same, but the quantity and quality has changed over the years. I have friends who specifically request this dip when they’re coming to visit. It’s always a hit with those that love this kind of dish.

What You’ll Need:
1 – 12 ounce package of frozen spinach
1 – 12 ounce package of frozen artichokes, chopped
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese
1 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of Parmesan, shredded (Note: Make sure you’re using real Parmesan.)
6 to 8 ounces of goat cheese
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (Note: Only add the extra salt is the garlic salt you use isn’t particularly salty.)
Mozzarella (optional, only if you choose to bake the dip)

This dip can be made two ways. Once you get all of the ingredients in the pot and heated through and the cheeses are all melted, it’s perfectly OK to eat right away, BUT if you want to really make it pop, top with some mozzarella and bake. If you’re going to go the oven route at the end, preheat your oven to 400 F before you start making the dip.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Eat It Now or Bake It

In a large stock pot add all the ingredients except for the mozzarella, and stir over medium heat until heated through and bubbly. It really is that simple. At this point you’re ready to go, or you can do the next step.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Ready for Cheese

If you decide to bake the dip, spread the dip out into a baking dish and cover with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Ready to Bake

Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned on the edges.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Baked

Serve with crudités, bagel or tortilla chips, or toasted bread. The toasted bread is really, really good, but you can’t go wrong with any of the choices.

If you really want to spice things up, throw on some splashes of hot sauce.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: With a Splash of Hot Sauce

Notes: You can leave out the artichokes if you want to, but they really do make the dish. This dip makes a good topping on pizza in place of your traditional tomato pie, or spread on garlic bread before baking.

Cheesy Potato Cakes

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Ready to Serve

One of my favorite things when I was a kid is when my mom would make potato cakes. She didn’t make them often, but once in a blue moon when we had left over mashed potatoes she make some. I remember watching her make them and thinking one day I’d make them too. I don’t make them that often either, but when I do, I often add in cheese, because cheese and potatoes…what’s not to like?

These potato cakes come together quickly and you can make and “fry” an entire batch in about a half hour. They’re perfect as an appetizer, or even as a snack. If you like cheese and potatoes, this is the dish for you!

Cheesy Potato Cake

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt (Note: Use less salt if you’re mashed potatoes are heavily salted, more if they aren’t.)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 potato, shredded
Olive oil
More shredded cheese for serving
Sour Cream
Chopped scallions

In a large bowl mix together mashed potatoes, flour, sea salt, black pepper, cheese, egg and shredded potato until “dough” forms. This can be a bit sticky depending on the moisture content of your potatoes and humidity and such. You’re going to get your hands dirty, but what’s the fun of cooking if you don’t get a little messy! 😉 Form in to a ball about the size of a plum and then flatten. Repeat until you run out of potato mixture. You can make the patties all at once, or make them as you go, it’s up to you.

Add flattened patties to a skillet that has a thin layer of olive oil heated over medium heat. “Fry” each side until browned. When you flip the first time, flatten the patty a bit with your spatula. I like to flip them a couple of times until they’re done. Place on a tray lined with paper towels after “frying” and sprinkle with sea salt.

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Fried

Serve warm topped with a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream and chopped scallions.

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Dig In!

Notes: There isn’t a lot of oil in this, so frying isn’t quite the term, but it serves it purpose. You can add in herbs to the potato cake, such as dill or thyme if you like. They’re also good just plain if you don’t want to add the toppings.

Southwestern Egg Rolls

Southwest Egg Rolls

(Note: I wrote this entry in September of 2015. I’ve been planning this comeback and merging my two blogs for a while and then got side tracked. I still remember this guy and this day. I decided to post the entry as I wrote it. This is one of my and Lex’s favorite snacks. Enjoy!)

It’s been a while. Did you miss me? My last entry was in December of 2014 for the Christmas cookie swap. I’ve taken a hiatus of sorts. It happens. I have wanted to get back to blogging for a while now, but apathy overtook me. It’s hard to believe that at one time I posted an entry every week day, usually 4 recipes per week and links on Friday. I’m not sure how I had the energy for that, especially with a young child.

Now that I’m back, things might be a little different. Dianne’s Dishes is and always will be primarily a food blog, BUT from time to time I’ll be posting musings and antidotes that might not be related to food. I’ve decided to combine my food blog and my personal blog, because well it’s my blog, so I can. 😉 That means today you get this recipe for Southwestern Egg Rolls and my little drive by friendship with an according to him “grumpy old bastard” because it’s two for the price of one day!

So let’s talk about Mr. Grumpy Bastard…

I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from depression from time to time. Lately I’ve been on a down swing; I’ve been tired; no more than that, exhausted, down and more than a bit grumpy. The past few days have been particularly bad, but I put one foot in front of the other and get on with it, because what can you do?

This morning I had to go to Wegman’s to get some cucumbers. Alexis and I seem to go through cucumbers like most people go through water, and a weekend without cucumbers would be a bleak occurrence. While perusing the produce section I saw a very tall elderly gentleman, and trust me if someone is tall to me, they’re actually tall, my father is six foot nine, I know tall. I automatically smiled at him because, I appreciate the tall people.

He smiled back and said, “You have a mess of hair young lady.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that, because well I do, I have a lot of hair. I’ve always had thick hair and when it’s freshly curled, like this morning, it looks bigger. I’m ok with that, so I smiled at him and said nothing.

“I didn’t mean that in a bad way,” he told me. “Your hair reminds me of my daughter’s hair. She had thick hair.”

“Had?” I asked hesitantly.

“We don’t talk these days,” he told me with a shrug.

“I’m sorry. Might I ask why?” I asked him carefully. I didn’t want to be nosy, but for some reason it seemed important.

“Because I’m a grumpy bastard,” he told me with a sad smile.

Now I don’t go hugging complete strangers…ever, but this guy needed a hug, so I hugged him. I hugged this complete stranger, just because he looked like he needed one. I wasn’t a long hug, but it was a hug nonetheless and he hugged me back, when I pulled back, he patted my shoulder.

“What was that for?” he asked me with a smile.

“It’s Hug a Grumpy Bastard day and I thought I wouldn’t get to participate,” I told him a bit sassily and he laughed.

“Thank you,” he told me a bit choked up and he cupped my cheek and kissed me on the forehead.

I blushed, because well I always blush, I’m the queen of the easy blush, and gave him another smile.

“I think I needed you today,” he told me and he gave me another smile and wandered off.

I realized after he walked away that I needed him today too. It’s funny how that works, like the universe knows what you need and sends it to you. In this case it sent me a grumpy senior citizen, who needed a little affection, and in the process it made me feel a little better about mankind at the same time. Drive by friendships can be just what you need, just when you need them. He and his daughter might have issues, and he might really be a grumpy bastard, but it doesn’t make him any less human, and in that moment he was extremely nice to me, and in the mere minutes we spent together, he made me really smile. Smiling is good. I needed to smile and I think he did too.

Now let’s get on to the egg rolls!

I’ve had this kind of egg roll at various places over the years, and I had always thought it would be fun to come up with my own variety. I had meant to make these for years, but today I felt like experimenting, so I did. I love how they turned out! Alexis really liked them too. We’ll definitely be making these again.

What You’ll Need:
Olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
Roughly 2 cups of cooked chicken, chopped (Note: A little more or a little less won’t make a difference.)
1 – 15.5 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of frozen corn kernels
¼ cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
A generous pinch of sea salt
½ to 1 teaspoon of black pepper (Note: More if you like pepper, less if you don’t.)
¼ teaspoon of cumin
2 teaspoons of chili powder
A dash of cayenne pepper
Egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying (Note: I used peanut oil.)

Southwest Egg Rolls

In a very large skillet sauté onion in a little olive oil, until slightly browned. Stir in chicken, black beans, corn, parsley, sea salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder and cayenne to mix. Heat through for 2 minutes or so until mixture is warm. Set aside.

Heat oil for frying. You can use whatever kind of oil you usually fry with. I like to use peanut oil for things like egg rolls. As always, be careful when you’re dealing with hot oil. Make sure you know the smoke point of the oil you’re using, as well as the flash point, and keep a close eye on the temperature. Don’t let it go too hot.

While the oil is heating, assemble the egg rolls.

Place an egg roll wrapper on a flat surface and spoon some filling on to the middle of the wrap:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Next fold up the edges:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Then fold the bottom toward the back:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Wet the back edge of the wrapper:

Southwest Egg Rolls

You can do this with your finger or with a brush.

Then finish rolling the roll:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Place the roll aside and repeat the process until you run out of filling:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Once the oil is heated, gently place the rolls in the hot oil, flipping once, when the edges are browned:

Southwest Egg Rolls

When the other side is browned, and this doesn’t take long at all, just seconds, place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain:

Southwest Egg Rolls

It usually takes less than a minute to fry the entire egg roll. Repeat the frying process until all your rolls are done. I like to place them seam side up first, and then fry the non-seam side second.

This recipe makes 18-22 egg rolls.

Notes: If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, you can add a second can of beans and leave out the chicken. Serve with sour cream and/or salsa.

Slowly But Surely

Most of the entries have been moved, I’m still waiting on a Flickr issue for a few. I weeded out a lot of posts that were no longer relevant. I’ve adjusted the dates. Now I’m planning to merge my personal blog in with Dianne’s Dishes. Some of the links aren’t working on the individual posts, and I’m not sure if they ever will, but most of them aren’t important anyway. Stay tuned. I’m still working, but I’m close.