Monthly Archives: September 2013

Peanut Butter Syrup

IMG_2104

Peanut Butter Syrup

A legendary recipe (at our house)

Most people I know want to create a legacy, something for their children, and their children’s children –something that makes the world a better place.  For me, it is the invention of Peanut Butter Syrup.  In our house, this invention made me a superhero.   It is our Sunday morning, special occasion, it’s my special day, get to choose breakfast . . . thing.  It sounds something like this; “I got an A on my math test, can Dad make peanut butter syrup?”, “It’s my birthday, can we have peanut butter syrup?”

I have a vision, many years in the future, of my sons making peanut butter syrup for their kids on special days (which include Sunday), or their families all at our house some holiday morning, I will make peanut butter syrup for the grandkids.  Of course my peanut butter syrup will not be as good as their Dad makes for them at home!  I hope that there will be stories of “Dad’s peanut butter syrup” for many generations to come.

The peanut butter for this recipe is simply grocery store peanut butter complete with sugar and emulsifiers.  I have made it with Jiff, Kroger brand and most likely many others.  I have never made it with natural “hippie” peanut butter.  Why you ask?  This was a recipe made on the fly from ingredients that our kids love, and that happened to be in the pantry when I invented it.

Peanut Butter Syrup

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter (regular jiff or our favorite creamy brand)

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/8 cup water

Later in the recipe

¼ cup water

  1. In a microwave proof bowl add all the ingredients except the ¼ cup of water which is to be used later in the recipe.
  2. Heat in the microwave on high for 35 seconds.  Pull out and whisk well.
  3. Heat again for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Pull out and whisk well. At this point it may look a bit rough and partially broken.  It’s ok!
  4. Add the ¼ cup of water and whisk again, in fact, whisk like heck.  This will bring it all together in a beautiful batch of sweet peanut butter goodness.
  5. If you wish you can add a bit more water to thin it more.  The boys and I like it a bit thick, my amazing wife would favor a bit more water.

Do not let the sands of Thyme find their way into your lunch!

Jason

Orange Wings

IMG_2198

It is the time of year for celebrating with friends, watching football games, and having a great time.  There are two types of people in this world:  Those that go to watch the game; and those that go to eat great food, enjoy some drinks and pretend to be interested in the game.  I fall into the latter category, actually I don’t even pretend anymore. I also make no apologies for it.  I will be near the kitchen with the wine, beer (wine actually), and food thank you!

These orange wings are simple and a great crowd pleaser.  A lot of sweet and tangy flavors.

Orange Wings

Ingredients

Makes 3 dozen wings with enough extra sauce for dipping

For the Sauce

¾ cup water

¼ cup orange juice

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy

3 tablespoons lemon

3 tablespoons lime

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Pinch pepper flakes

1 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons orange zest

4 scallions, sliced

2 tablespoons of roasted sesame oil to sauté’

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

3 dozen chicken wings

Heat a little sesame oil and sauté the ginger and garlic.  Add all remaining sauce ingredients except corn starch.  Bring to a boil.  Thicken with the cornstarch dissolved with the water (see note below). If it does not appear thick enough you can make a bit more of the mix and tighten it up a bit more.  The consistency of the sauce should be similar to a sweet and sour sauce. A little bit thick so it will stick you your wings. Depending of the flavor of the fruits you can add a little lemon or orange juice to boost the flavor.

Remove cinnamon stick before serving

**To thicken with cornstarch combine the cornstarch in a small amount of cold water.  Slowly pour into boiling liquid while whisking.  If the liquid is not boiling it will not thicken. If you add too much before boiling, could get ugly.

Season your chicken wings with salt and pepper.  Bake or fry them till done (165f) internal temperature with a thermometer.  Should take 15 to 20 minutes in a 375 f oven.  If you are going to fry them set you fryer to 325 and slowly fry them until they are done in the center and crispy.

Toss wings with the sauce and garnish with, sesame seeds, scallions, and orange zest.

Thyme marches on!

Jason

 

 

 

Crickets and Culinary Diplomats

Crickets and Culinary Diplomats

The amazing thing about being a cook is that there is always so much to learn.  Recipes, techniques, ingredients, technical skills, intuitive skills, and cuisines of other cultures. Could cooks be diplomats?  Indeed.  We were lucky enough to have a Ugandan chef come to visit us in the kitchens.  He was cooking for some Ugandan people who were in town for a convention.  His goal was to make them feel at home.

Chef Frank was kind enough to bring us some food he prepared.  We all shared a nice snack of spice roasted Ugandan crickets and a very unique cake made from banana, yucca, and ground cricket.  Chef Frank went on to explain that although to us the use of cricket is strange, it’s a plentiful recourse where he is from.  They use ground crickets in man dishes and sauces. It’s a great source of protein and nutrition in Uganda.

I really enjoyed watching Chef Frank, surrounded by 15 or so American cooks, teaching a little bit about Uganda, the food, and its people.

You never really know what is going to happen each day.  One day you can be minding your own business and then you realize you had crickets for lunch.  Crazy!

Thyme waits for no one,

Jason

 

IMG_0805IMG_0802cricket

Chocolate Marshmallow Nachos

 

 IMG_0332

This is a wonderful time of year to be a cook.  The weather is starting to cool down and summer is almost behind us.  Football season is starting and we are all covering our grills and moving inside for some heartier cooking.

This is a great recipe to make for a salty sweet dessert that is perfect for football parties.

The ingredients below are measured out but are simply guidelines based on taste. Me personally, I like a lot of chocolate sauce and marshmallows so the nachos become very rustic and “gooey”.  You can adjust this recipe as you see fit.  If you really want to go wild you can have some extra caramel sauce and chocolate sauce on the side to serve as “salsa” if you will.

Chocolate – Marshmallow Nachos

Ingredients

3 quarts fried, lightly salted tortilla chips

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup chocolate sauce

2 cups small marshmallows

½ cup chopped, dry roasted, salted peanuts

Powdered sugar to garnish

 

  1.  Heat your oven to 375 F.
  2. Place your chips on an oven proof platter (a cast iron skillet works great too).
  3. Evenly distribute the chocolate chips and chocolate sauce over all the chips, try to get some on each chip.
  4. Slide the nachos in the oven for about 3 minutes to start melting the chocolate chips.  Remove and top with the marshmallows.
  5. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes more or until the marshmallows are slightly brown.  Top with the peanuts and serve warm.

 

Spicy Hoisin, Onion Jam

 

IMG_0858

Spicy Hoisin Onion Jam

Drop whatever you are doing and make this sauce.    After you are done with that please do resume what you were doing!  This is a good one to have in the refrigerator, ready to go.  Tonight we had this with burgers!   It was great.  The only thing I would change, being the chili head I am, would be to switch out the Jalapeños with my beloved habaneros.

I whipped this sauce out based on what was in the refrigerator and a few things that were in the pantry.  It was fast to make, has a good bit of spice, with sweet and tangy finish.   What more could you ask for?

I can see this being a condiment for rice, noodles, or even, dare I say, spring rolls.  This will be great on any fried dumpling, or egg roll as well.

 

Ingredients

Make 1 ½ cups of Jam

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic

1 large jalapeño chili or two smaller ones (habanero if you dare)

¼ cup hosin sauce

2 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

2 cups cilantro (roughly 1 bunch)

About 3 tablespoons olive oil to cook

  1.  Dice the onions, you should have about 2 cups medium dice.
  2. Begin cooking the onions in the olive oil over medium heat.  This will take about 10 minutes. Stir the onions often.
  3. While the onions are cooking dice the garlic and the Jalapeños.  Add these to the onions after 10 minutes of cooking.  Cook 3 to 4 more minutes, the onions should be looking golden brown.
  4. Add the hosin, siracha, and red wine vinegar.  Cook for 30 seconds while stirring.  This should be a nice tight jam.
  5. Chop and add the cilantro.
  6. This will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

IMG_0837 (2)IMG_0845 (2)

 

Watermelon, Mint, and Feta Cheese Salad

 

IMG_0811

Sometimes on a weekend the last thing you want to do is work for too long in the kitchen.  After all, there is a back yard to sit in, wine to drink, kids to watch, and deep thoughts to think. The important things in life.  Late in the summer the watermelons are great and the weather is still hot.  Especially here in paradise Texas.

I was pleasantly surprised, when I cut into this watermelon. It was yellow inside.  Wonderfully sweet and very crisp.  I needed to pare this with something salty and something fresh to go well with the back yard wine drinking.   Crumbled feta cheese and garden mint did the trick!   Top off with some great Texas olive oil (yes we have that).  The one I used is the extra virgin from the Texas Olive Ranch.  If you are lucky enough to live here you can find this in farmers markets and higher end grocery stores.

Enjoy!

Jason

Watermelon, Mint and Feta Cheese Salad

Serves 4 to 6 as a light afternoon salad

Ingredients

2 pound peeled watermelon

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4th extra virgin olive oil

1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (but not too fine)

  1. Slice the watermelon and arrange nicely.
  2. Spread the crumbled feta cheese on top, then scatter the mint.
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil

Masala Fish Tacos

 

IMG_0799

I have said it before and I will say it again, “not much better in life than a good taco.”   A taco is one of the ultimate comfort foods.  If the corn tortilla is fresh and good than wow, you really have something.  I’m sure over the years I will blog about tacos and tortillas in many forms.  There are simple classic tacos that are awesome.  There are also interesting modern takes on tacos that are awesome.  This recipe falls into the modern category because of the most wonderful introduction of the Indian spices.

This recipe also contains one of my favorite simple recipes, cabbage lime slaw.  This slaw is so easy to make and is a versatile kitchen work horse. If you are whipping out a quick fish taco, a burger, a grilled steak wrap, even a simple grilled fish or pork chop this simple slaw is for you!  This slaw is more of a condiment, an ingredient, and  a building block, than something you would eat on its own like a coleslaw.   The trick is to make it a bit early so the salt, jalapeño and lime juice can work their magic.  It needs about an hour to meld together.  The salt draws moisture from the cabbage and it mixes with the lime and jalapeño to create a fresh, spicy, and salty slaw that is positively addictive.   Also, do not forget that in this world there are people who love heat and pain, the chili heads.  It is perfectly acceptable to substitute the jalapeño for habanero which makes this slaw amazingly flavorful but crazy hot!  Depending a bit on the size of your cabbage, this recipe will make about a quart and a half of slaw.  This may be a bit too much for the recipe but it’s great to have around.

Enjoy!

Jason

Masala Fish Tacos

Ingredients

For the Slaw

3/4th head savoy cabbage, very finely shredded

3 fresh limes

1 medium jalapeño, sliced thin

1 bunch cilantro

1 tablespoon kosher salt

 

  1.  In a non-reactive bowl combine everything.  Make sure its mixed well then cover and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  After an hour you should adjust seasonings if necessary with salt and lime.
  2. This slaw will keep in the fridge for two to three days.

For the Tacos

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds tilapia or other firm flesh white fish

¼ cup garam masala or tandoori masala (available at an Indian market)

15 corn tortillas (flour if you must)

½ cup mayonnaise

1 ½ teaspoons curry powder

Olive oil to sear and cook

Salt

 

To cook and assemble the dish

  1. Combine the mayonnaise and curry powder.
  2. Begin by seasoning the fish lightly with salt and then dusting very well in the masala powder. Sear the fish in a nonstick pan with olive oil on all sides until cooked through.
  3. While you are doing that on a flat top griddle splash a bit of water on your corn tortillas and heat on both sides, hold warm in a bowl covered with plastic wrap.
  4. All that’s left to do now is assemble and enjoy.  Place a tortilla on a work surface spread with a bit of the curry mayonnaise, put a piece of the masala seared fish on.  Top with a bit of the essential cabbage lime slaw. Be sure to stir the slaw before using as the magic tends to drain to the bottom.
  5. This is a great dish to put out on the table unassembled and let your guests build their own.

IMG_0789IMG_0783 (2)IMG_0790