Victory Is In The Kitchen

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My daughter bought me this poster at the Churchhill Museum in London. I love how she instantly thought of me when she first eyed it. Of course, as a competitive home cook, my version of victory in the kitchen and the intent of the poster are quite different. Imagine the war struggle and women on the home front struggling to make ends meet and keep a household running. A message like this was meant to motivate a commitment to the war effort. With increasing shortages of food women tended vegetable gardens and used their creativity to put substantial meals on the table with what little they had. They were portrayed as of equal importance in the winning of the war as that of the fighting soldiers.

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Maybe when it comes to creativity and a few ingredients I am not so much different from the women in the early 1900’s since winning in my kitchen has been a common occurrence lately. These mushroom lettuce wraps just took the grand prize in the Mad About Mushrooms recipe contest. Inspired by the olympics (Yay Team USA) and ingredients found in a local Korean market these meaty mushrooms soak up the sweet and spicy bulgogi marinade and are a light vegetarian option. Do you like lettuce wraps? What’s your favorite filling?

Korean Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

1 firm ripe Asian or bosc pear, peeled, cored, julienned

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, washed, sliced (stemmed shitake, cremini, oyster)

1/3 cup Korean bulgogi style marinade (bottled or homemade)*

1 teaspoon Korean sweet & spicy sauce (gochujang) *

2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

pinch kosher salt

2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated into cups

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In bowl, gently toss pear and rice vinegar; set aside. Heat a large, non-stick, skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 30 seconds or until garlic just begins to turn color. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown. Add Korean marinade and gochujang; cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until mushrooms are glazed. Turn off heat. Stir in green onions. Season mushrooms with salt. Spoon mushrooms into lettuce cups. Top with pickled pears. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 12 appetizers or can serve 4 to 6 as an entree.

*located in the ethnic section of grocery store or any Asian market

Here is my first video demonstrating how to build another version of a lettuce wrap. Pretty excited that I have taught myself another new trick. Victory is in the kitchen in more ways than one.

 

Crispy Coconut Curried Devils

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Today is about food. I know it’s been awhile. Moving forward the blog should mirror real life. Lately, real life is less about obvious grief and more about cooking, baking, photography, gardening and that little jelly bean better known as my grand-daughter. Make no mistake. My son is my first thought when I open my eyes in the morning, the last when I close them at night and many moments in between. I celebrate William in all that I do. Like grief, his inspiration is never ending. Enough said. Let’s move on. More food and less grief. I NEED it to be this way.

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Do you like deviled eggs? How about Crispy Coconut Curried Deviled eggs? I created this recipe for a contest sponsored by Eggland’s Best. As many of you know (because you have been voting for my entries non-stop) the contest theme is “foodtography” and I was lucky enough to have 3 of my food photos accepted. One, my smoothie bowl cake, made it to the final 4 (woot woot). While voting for the deviled eggs many of you asked for the recipe. Today, I am happy to be able to share it with you.

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Crispy Coconut Curried Devils

6 Eggland’s Best Eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and peeled

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon sweet Asian chili sauce

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus additional for garnish

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil for deep frying

1-cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs

½ cup flaked unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 Eggland’s Best Egg, lightly beaten with 1-teaspoon water

1 scallion, finely chopped

Slice hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Press yolks through a strainer into a bowl. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice, chili sauce and curry powder; blend well. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper to taste; set aside. Heat 3-inches of vegetable oil to 350°F. In another bowl, mix panko and coconut. Dredge each egg white half in flour. Dip in egg wash to coat and then dredge in panko-coconut mixture. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Pipe or spoon yolk mixture into hollows of egg whites. Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley and scallions.

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Turning the Tables

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Team Saucy Mama

You all know how much I enjoy a good recipe competition. Well, recently the tables turned and I became a judge instead of a competitor. My favorite ladies at Saucy Mama sponsored a recipe contest looking for a third competitor to join us at the World Food Championships 2016. I was so very honored when they asked me to do some preliminary blind judging of the recipes they received in the categories of Bacon, Seafood, Steak and Burger.

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So what was it like reading through many recipes, preparing them as written and then judging them? It was a real learning experience and it was fun, but I won’t lie I was harsh. As my kitchen got a work-out I was looking for the best of the best to represent this company that I love so much. I wanted the Saucy Mama flavors to shine without over powering the star of the dish. I wanted innovation and I wanted beauty. No doubt the flavors had to be balanced, but dance on my tongue. It was no easy task, but a few recipes did all those things and easily rose to the top of the list.

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Once the judging was complete it was great fun to learn whose recipe belonged to whom as the owners posted their recipes to their blogs and social media. Today, I want to share a few dishes that really highlighted Saucy Mama in a most innovative way. First up is Paula Todora’s Saucy Shrimp Pad Thai in Roasted Spaghetti Squash Boats with Candied Pecans. I love a good Pad Thai and Paula’s clever twist of using strands of spaghetti squash in place of noodles was not only delicious, but a refreshing healthy spin as well. Topped with some very flavorful candied pecans this recipe was one of my husband’s favorite recipes and I will be making it again. Maybe next time I will top it off with some fresh herbs. Well done, Paula. You can find her recipe here: twistedhomecooking.com

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Next up is Debbie Reid’s Grilled Steak Slices with Apricot Ginger Cream Sauce and Pacific Rim Ginger Fried Rice. Debbie’s quick and easy and super flavorful fried rice is out of this world delicious. Her innovative cooking method of adding one of my favorite Saucy Mama dressings to the rice cooking water completely eliminates the need to cook and cool the rice ahead of time. I prefer frozen peas to canned so that is the only change I will make going forward with this recipe. Check it out at debbiescookingaddiction.com

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Finally, and just to further illustrate how versatile Saucy Mama products are I just loved the pickled onions created by Areli Valles Biggers with her recipe Orange Habanero Tacos Al Pastor. I love topping a taco or a sandwich with pickled vegetables and Areli’s red onions are crisp tender and fully flavored with Saucy Mama’s Red Raspberry Vinaigrette, clove and Mexican oregano. The red onion color and flavor really pops from the red raspberry dressing. Areli does not have a blog, so here is her recipe.

Pickled Onions

2 cups water

½ cup Saucy Mama Raspberry Vinaigrette

3 whole cloves

1 tsp. Mexican Oregano

1 Pinch of salt

1 red onion (sliced)

In a small pan, combine water, Saucy Mama Raspberry Vinaigrette, cloves, oregano and salt. Mix well. Add red onion and let the mixture come to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn it off and remove from heat. Let onions cool, drain and refrigerate until ready to use.

Saucy Mama Products

you can buy on-line at www.barhyte.com

Back to judging as a learning experience. I have always appreciated a judge’s feedback following a contest. It has made me a better competitor. I think it is very important to share constructive criticism with contestants. So here is what I recommend when it comes to putting your best recipe down on paper or in this age the computer.

  • Please consider putting your ingredients in a list in order of use.
  • Check your ingredient list against your instructions and vice versa to insure all the ingredients are accounted for. Proofread!
  • Be detailed about the ingredient measurements. For example: an “8 ounce steak, cut 1-inch thick” tells exactly what a tester needs. Just an “8 ounce steak” comes in many shapes and thicknesses and leaves too much open to interpretation. Same thing when it comes to vegetables. Your idea of a large onion may be different than the tester, so be more specific and add a weight or measurement like this: “1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)”
  • Be detailed in your cooking times and temperatures. Give precise times and a visual for what “done” looks like and use an instant read thermometer, if you want your dish perfectly cooked by a recipe tester.
  • Take a critical look at your final presentation. Those small points for appearance can make all the difference in the world. Don’t forget a fitting and fresh garnish.

For the grand prize winning recipe check out Kim Banick’s  Orange Habanero Coconut Shrimp Po Boy Lettuce Cups with Spicy Orange Slaw and for the runner-up Veronica Callaghan’s Mini Chipotle-Lime Steak Tostadas with Pomegranate-Avocado Salsa and Poblano Ranch Sauce Try these stunning and prize worthy recipes to better understand why it was so deliciously awesome to be a judge. Welcome to Team Saucy Mama.

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Then this happened and the tables sure turned for me. Best prize ever!? You be the judge.