Saturday, September 26, 2009

Class #2 Melissa d'Arabian

Well I started my "Food Network Classes" with the first Food Network Star, Emeril and tonight our class features the newest Food Network Star, Melissa d'Arabian. I chose Succulent Braised Pork and Perfect Black Beans. These items are from Melissa's show, "Ten Dollar Dinners".

I thought the Pork was amazing, very tender - cooked perfectly. The ingredients created a beautiful, rich sauce with great flavor! The wine enhanced the dish extremely well.

I actually used two cans of black beans instead of the dried beans. Simmered with the onion and than followed the directions. I really liked the touch of sweetness with the tang of vinegar.

I made my own biscuits which were a very good addition to the meal - you could wipe up the sauce perfectly. We also had Cabernet with dinner.

We would definitely make again but with a green veggie. I give it 4 1/2 stars. Elena thought the pork was awesome and the beans were good. She loved the biscuits. Gianna said the beans were her favorite and she loved them. She thought the pork wasn't greasy and was very tender.

Maria said she liked the beans because it's "a little sweet, not too spicy". She loved the beans so much she forgot to try the pork. Once she tried the pork she said that she liked the "tender thing" and it was really yummy and she wants to eat it all the time. She probably would have had more but she went to a birthday party this afternoon and had four pieces of pizza??!! Fred loved the beans because they were different and but were a pleasant surprise - really liked them! He agreed the pork was very tender and cooked up very well.

Give both of these recipes a try and let me know what you think!

Succulent Braised Pork
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
2 bay leaves
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Perfect Black Beans

Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Level Easy Yield 4 servings

1/2 pound dried black beans
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 fresh garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped scallions, for garnish
The night before, soak the black beans in a large pot of water. The next day, rinse the beans, cover with 3 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam. Stir in the onion and simmer 30 minutes more. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and vinegar, and taste before seasoning with salt and pepper. Turn out into a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped scallions.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bountiful Baskets

Just wanted to remind everyone to check out the Bountiful Baskets Co-Op in AZ. Here is what I picked up the last two times I ordered - all for $15 (for reorders) - What a deal!! Go to for more information.

My Cake Making Adventures

Earlier this month I was asked to help throw a party for my friend Ann, Fabulous and Fifty. I volunteered to do the cake. I knew two things, she deserved a fabulous cake and she loved German Chocolate. My friend Marie, from The Good Life Bakery in Mesa made the actual cake layers but I decorated with homemade Chocolate Ganache and Pecan Coconut filling - yum oo!!

Class #1, Emeril Lagasse's Sticky Chicken

This recipe is from Emeril Lagasse, 2004

Sticky Chicken was quite a hit with the family. It was fairly easy to prepare. I loved the flavor and spices and it was incredibly tender! Everyone agreed this would have to be put in the DeLuca Family Cookbook! Fred loved the subtle flavoring which was from the dark ale and Emeril's Essence seasoning. Elena said it tasted a little spiced but loved it, especially the green pepper and celery. Gianna said she loved the way it looked and tasted. And finally Maria said she liked that it was made with beer! Hmmm - not sure about this little one, what a character! We give it 5 Stars! Hope you enjoy and please comment!!

Sticky Chicken

1 (3-pound) frying chicken, cut up into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sliced yellow onions
1 cup sliced bell peppers
1 cup sliced celery
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
12 ounces dark beer
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
Steamed rice, for serving
Season the chicken generously with 2 tablespoons of Essence. Add the other tablespoon of the Essence to the cup of flour. Place the flour in a 1-gallon plastic bag and add the chicken to the bag. Shake the bag well to thoroughly coat the chicken with the flour. Remove the chicken from the bag and place on a plate to dry. Reserve the flour.
Heat the 1/2 cup of oil in a large iron skillet or Dutch oven to 320 degrees F. Brown the chicken in 2 batches, cooking for 4 minutes on each side. Reserve the chicken on a plate lined with an absorbent cloth.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, peppers and celery to the hot oil and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved flour to the pan and stir well. If the vegetables still have an oily appearance, add more flour, up to 2 more tablespoons. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the beer and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaves and stock and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and cover. Simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the chicken begins to pull away from the bone.
Using a slotted spoon, place the chicken in a serving dish. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

It's been so long!

I cannot believe it has been over a month since my last post! So much has happened. First of all my mother has been hospitalized since August. Thanks to all who have been lifting her up in your prayers!! She is finally been transferred to a Skilled Nursing Unit for physical therapy so she can build up her strength to go back home. Please continue to keep her in your prayers!!

Over the last few weeks I have been doing a little soul searching and with help from the truly inspirational movie, "Julie and Julia" I have decided to change the direction of my blog. I have figured out that what I love to do is create. Whether it is interior design, ministries, scrapbooks, aprons or food - it is the act of actually creating something and sharing those things with others whom I love. At first I thought that I would ponder the idea of going to cooking school but soon found out that it was a little too expensive. So...I have decided to do the next very best thing - I will attend the School of Cooking Via the Food Network! Where else would I go to receive the best training from some of the top chefs in the world via video?

My plan is to choose recipes throughout the week and let you know how they turn out, and of course let you know if my sweet family approved of the dish! I also will hopefully be creating these recipes with a respect for frugality - can't forget my coupons!!

So Bon Appetit and please comment on our first recipe.
Peace, Love and God Bless,