Last week Gus and I went to the Arizona BBQ Festival and enjoyed some great tastings.  There were BBQ tents and portable kitchens set up throughout the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.  One of the best features of the event were the chef demos held throughout the day.  I attended two demos; the first being Chef Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails.  Each chef was to demonstrate how to make some type of “road kill”.  Chef Stephen chose an appetizer of  Frog Legs and it was delicious.  Since meeting him and a short conversation, I decided to also check out the restaurants website and Facebook page.  This restaurant looks like well worth a visit.

 

Frog Legs Appetizer:

I don’t actually have the recipe for the Frog Legs Appetizer but it begins with a 3-1 pickling sauce with these following ingredients.  There is probably more to the pickling sauce but this is all I could get down before we moved on to the next step.

Pickling Sauce:
1 part Red wine vinegar
3 parts Water
Coriander
Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Vegetable Bed for the Legs:
Take 1/2 of a butter lettuce leaves, cleaned and then quartered.   Drop them into the warming pickling sauce and allow to braise.  Thinly slice 1/4 red onion and add to pickling sauce.  Let braise for around 10 minutes.

Chef Stephen talked about how to skin and prepare the frog legs for cooking.  It is the back legs only.  I’m not sure if I could do it but buying fresh has to be a tastier dish than if you bought frozen.   There is not a lot of meat on the legs so plan on quite a few for even this appetizer.  Pre-smoke for 5 minutes the full piece legs with a probably the pecan wood since it’s also used for the almonds.    Let the meat cool then cut the meat into small bite size pieces.  Toss the bits in Wonderflour and drop them into hot clarified butter.  The chef recommended this over regular flour as it is not as heavy.   Cook legs in clarified butter instead of whole butter.  This browns at slower pace and not burn.

Frog Legs Appetiser with Pickling Sauce
Frog Legs Appetizer with Salad Bed in Pickling Sauce

To plate, remove the greens from the pickling sauce and arrange on the plate.   Drain the meat bits of excess butter and place on the plate.  Garnish with sliced radishes and pecan smoked almonds.   Chef added a few drops of a balsamic vinaigrette glaze to the plate for an added touch.

Chef Stephen has a charming and charismatic persona to match his talent for cooking.  Even at his young age he has a substantial background in culinary expertise.  His ideas for cooking are new and refreshing.  Some even very fattening!  Once of his specialties at the restaurant is his signature Tater Tots which are made from scratch. They begin with shredded potatoes and bacon.  I don’t recall the balance of the ingredients so you’ll just have to visit to get a better idea and a personal tasting.  Anyway, he said that he mixes up the tots, places them in a large (probably very large) decorating tube and squeezes the mixture out on the sparkling clean prep table in the form of a long tube.   Then they are cut into around 1 inch pieces rolled in probably Wonderflour.  They are then placed in the freezer until ready to fry.  Letting them rest in the freezer will also allow them to set up for frying.

Chef Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
Chef Stephen Jones of Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
Chefs Famous Tator Tots
Chefs Famous Tater Tots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A little more about the festival.  The Arizona BBQ Festival is the largest Honky Tonk in the state of Arizona! There’s live bands, hilarious “redneck themed” games, more beer and booze than you can handle, and (literally) tons of smoked meat like brisket, chicken, pulled pork, ribs, and all the fixin’s.”

The day we attended there were over 20 pit-masters in attendance cooking right on the spot.  They were serving up a variety of “brisket, ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, shanks of all kinds, and all the sides like grilled corn, baked beans, cornbread, and more”.  We had several favorites; one was a Smokey Mac and Cheese that we tasted from the Memphis Best BBQ (I think) and the best smoked meat and longest line was at Montana BBQ hidden away at the back of the field.

 

 

 

My kitchen was overcome with the aroma of boiled eggs which is not always a good or bad thing unless you’re the Greek critique who just stepped in the door.  Mr. Hubby didn’t like the fragrance one bit.  I hadn’t noticed but since it was 2 dozen eggs for a Christmas party the number of eggs was far greater than ever for what had been cooked and peeled in my kitchen.  I might consider buying the pre-boiled eggs next time but need to test them on us first.

The eggs were well received at the party and gobbled up quickly.  We put them out in batches of two 12 halves with the first going out with appetizers and the last two 12 halves going out with dinner.  The hostess insisted on serving in batches which did turn out well since those that missed getting one during appetizers were now able to grab one later.

2 dozen extra-large eggs,  hard boiled and then halved
1  cup mayo
2 tablespoon yellow mustard
salt to taste (careful that you don’t add too much)
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon Greek Spice (I use it everywhere)
garnish with Paprika and dried  parsley leaves.

Bring a large pot of water to slow simmer.  Using a spoon or egg cradle, lower each egg into the water.  Make sure the water covers the eggs.  Return the eggs to a slight bubbling simmer and then begin your timer to cook at simmer for 5-7 minutes.  I test one egg after 5 minutes to see if it is now hard boiled.  Using the egg cradle, remove the eggs one by one from the hot water and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking.  If you cook the eggs too long then they will have the grayish edge.  Carefully peel each egg and then cut in half.  These two dozen eggs fit nicely on a full size cookie baking sheet.

Place the egg yolk into a medium size mixing bowl.  With a fork, cut the egg yolk until it is tiny little bits.  Add the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, salt, pepper and Greet Spice.  Mix with spoon and then with hand held mixer on low if necessary.  Whip up well and make sure to get out any lumps.  If you are used to using a decorating tube then select the largest decorating tip that you have so that the egg  yolk mixture doesn’t get stuck in the tube.  Swirl the egg yolk mixture into the empty egg halves so they look like a swirled ice cream cone.  Or, if you haven’t learned how to use a decorating tube, then spoon the egg mixture into the halves.  Garnish with Paprika and dried parsley.

 

If you like the recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.

Chipotle Shrimp on the Grill
Chipotle Shrimp on the Grill

Who would have thought that I would still be grilling outdoors in the middle of December!  It wouldn’t surprise me as much but we are again at Ironworks and the temperature was a brisk 45 degrees outside when I put the shrimps on the grill.  I cook year round at our home in the Valley of the Sun but never dreamed it would be the same here.  I did not serve the shrimp as a surf and turf which what I first thought of doing.  Instead we enjoyed them as an appetizer before dinner along with a sun-dried tomato artichoke dip and crackers.  Hope you enjoy the shrimp recipe and the cooking tips that follow for grilling times.  Non-vegetarians there is a section for grilling steak along with for a Surf and Turf.

Grilled chipotle shrimp

Dozen jumbo shrimp raw
1/4 c chipotle mayo spicy
couple of shakes of chili powder or chili spice (or more if desired)
couple of shakes of chipotle pepper spice (or more if desired)
2-3 twists ground pepper in marinade
fresh ground pepper at the grill

Place shrimp and chipotle spicy mayo sauce in baggy and mix up.

Let shrimp rest in fridge for 15-30 min then gingerly place on hot grill.

Carefully grill until shrimp turns pink turning once while cooking.  I like to add a little more ground pepper while on the grill to jazz up the warmth a bit.  Place the shrimp carefully on the grill so that they don’t fall through.  Grill on hot flame quickly — 1-2 minutes per side.  Place in foil container that can be also topped with foil to keep warm until ready to serve.  Can be a surf and turf or a pleasant yet spicy appetizer.

Grilling shrimp time table
3-5 min per side jumbo
2.5-4 min per side large
2-3 per side med 

Can pan grill if necessary.  Remove shrimp from grill  and place in fresh foil. Seal foil around shrimp to keep hot until ready to serve.

VEGETARIANS – STOP HERE!!

Sorry for the vegetarians, but I love to serve this shrimp with seasoned grilled beef tenderloin with fresh ground pepper and salt. Add a robust beef rub like A1 bold or Barbarians steak rub from Barbarian’s Steak House  in Toronto, Canada.  You can contact them direct to order.  I love it!  Let the steak come to room temperature while you marinate the shrimp.

Barbarian's Steakhouse
Barbarian’s Steakhouse Ribeye

Remove shrimp from grill and keep warm while grilling sirloin, tenderloin or other steaks for surf and turf.  If your steak is 1″ or less they will cook quickly. 2-3 min per side for medium (or if larger use the grilling table below) turning to score in patchwork pattern before flipping to the other side.

Grilling Tenderloin
2″ thick time table
Rare 3-4 min per side
Medium Rare 4-5 per side
Med 5-6 per side
Well-Done 6-7 per side
Plus standing time of 3-5 min depending on how large of cut

 

If you like the recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.

One of the best and most enjoyable gathering of my friends was a few years back for a Holiday Baking Party.  Five of my best friends were invited for a cooking party at my home.  In order to take this type of gathering you need a fairly good size kitchen, several ovens and lots of champagne and orange juice.  To begin, section off several areas of your kitchen to serve as a prep area for each of your friends.  I sectioned off five areas and at each of those was placed  a set of measuring spoons, measuring cups, a hot pad and a vintage grandma’s apron. You don’t need to provide all these items but they can be purchased fairly inexpensively (except for the apron) at the local dollar store or super market.  Gauge the number of friends to invite based on the size of your kitchen and how many prep areas you can arrange but hopefully have at least three participants including yourself.

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Asiago Cheese and Tomato Bruschetta

Have on hand some hors d’ hourves such as the Asiago Cheese and Tomato Bruschetta   for noshing  and Mimosa or Martini’s to sip as you cook.

Items for the prep area:
1 Champagne Flute
1 Set of measuring cups
1 Set of measuring spoons
1 Hot pad(s)
Grandma’s vintage aprons

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Measure cups, measure spoons, hot pads and champagne flute

Friends should bring the ingredients and pans for whatever they want to cook.  Suggested baking items are cookies, sweet breads or pies.  Or, someone may want to take on making up a batch of fudge, penuche or chocolate truffles.  That year I made up truffles and took the corner closest to the stove top.

You may want to find out what each of your friends will be baking so that you can stage a cooking corner just for them.  At an un-staged area, put out all your baking pans, measure bowls, spatulas and anything else that you think someone might forget to bring.  If you are an avid baker or cook like me who has to have every cooking tool they see, then this should be a cinch.

Put on your favorite Christmas music station or Holiday Playlist from your portable media to set the background.  This is an easy party to pull off as you only need a few appetizers, the staging area, Champagne and music to set the stage.

Basic Mimosa Recipe

Basic Mimosa Recipe
Image and Recipe from About.com Basic Mimosa Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Sparkling Wine, Cava, Prosecco or Champagne (1 bottle)
  • Orange Juice (1 carton)
  • Triple Sec (optional)

Preparation:

Fill half of a champagne flute with chilled sparkling wine or Champagne (about an ounce) and top off with chilled orange juice (again about 2 ounces), gently stir. If you’d like to add triple sec, just a splash to taste works out fine. For added flare, slice up a strawberry to decorate the rim of each flute.

Enjoy a fun time at your Baking Party and Best Holiday Wishes from KCinAZ!

This is a much enjoyed appetizer that can be made a variety of ways.  My friend, Mariette, uses a much sharper cheese and it’s just a delicious.  It just has a different twist.  Many recipes include spinach, but somehow, someway, I’ve not acquired a taste for spinach in large doses.  Another fun addition is sun dried tomatoes but if doing that do so in small doses too.  For a sharper more flavorful taste use Asiago Cheese, Gruyere Cheese or an Italian blend.

Artichoke dip is one of my regulars to take to take to a Pot Luck dinner. It’s a warm dish served with crackers, toasted baguette slices or tortilla chips. Or, if you have left overs or prefer a cold dish it makes a great tapenade for crackers, toasted bread, etc. I often used my left overs from a party for a Happy Hour cold dish appetizer the following day.

This recipe calls for only 1 1/2 cups of artichoke hearts but if you’re feeling a little frivolous you can always go with more.  Depending on the size of the group and how far I want it to go, I would opt for more chopped hearts.  If I were downsizing to a smaller group then there would still be as much artichoke and then less mayo and half-and-half to make it a thicker richer tapenade.  Feel free to experiment.  I always do.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Artichoke hearts; quartered and then chopped 1/4 cup Half-and-half cream
1 cup Mozzarella; shredded 1/2 teaspoon Salt; to taste
1 cup Parmesan cheese; shredded 1/4 cup Baby spinach; shopped; optional; I never add
1 cup Mayonnaise

Artichoke Dip Appetizer or Tapenade Preparation

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Quarter and then chop into bits
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Mixed up creamy texture ready for the hot oven

Take 32 ounce jar of whole artichoke; Dry weight is 19.5 ounces. Drain of all liquid. If the artichoke has been marinated in olive oil then rinse under running water until all or most of the oil has been removed. Chop the artichoke until diced or slightly larger size. I find it easier to quarter the artichoke heart and then cut those pieces into thirds with the cut side facing up.

Place in 2 quart baking dish. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Continue to add cream or mayonnaise until easily mixed but with not too much liquid.  If you want it more firm add less mayo.

Bake in 350 degree oven for around 20-30 minutes, remixing occasionally so that it heats evenly throughout. Remove when cheese begins to toast slightly on the top layer.

artichoke-dip-appetizer
Ready and hot from the oven

Serve with crackers, French baguette (sliced and toasted) or corn tortilla chips.

French Baguette:

Slice French Baguette. Place on baking sheet. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with slight layer of garlic salt. Sprinkle with slight layer of Italian spice. Place under hot broiler until lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve immediately with spread.

If taking to a party to serve later then remove from baking sheet and let cool on cookie rack. Place warm artichoke dip in crockpot and reheat on low to serve after you arrive at the party.

If you like the recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.

Recipe updated 9/22/2014: I wanted to make a fun party size Ceviche to take to a Halloween party. The picture of the Halloween version is so creepy that I hesitate to show it. But, alas here it is anyway. Don’t let it freak you out!

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Creepy Seafood Ceviche
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Serve with mini cup size Tostitos.

This ceviche is made with medium size shrimp and imitation crab that makes up a 4 quart party size batch. It yields enough to serve 30 or more guests depending on how many appetizers are served along with it.  I never thought I would stop chopping and it was time consuming.  2 hours of slicing, dicing and sneaking bits and bites of shrimp and tomato as I diced along.

2 pounds Medium shrimp; each piece of shrimp quartered
2 medium English Cucumbers; peeled and chopped
5 large Tomatoes; diced
10 ounces Crab Meat; Imitation or real, diced
2 tablespoons sea salt
4 large Fresh lemons; Reserve 1
1/2 cup Clamato juice
1/2 cup +/- Catsup to thicken
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
8 medium Fresh Limes; Reserve 1
2 teaspoons Cilantro; dried, or 1 cup fresh
3-4 tablespoons horseradish

Preparation

Start by squeezing 3 large lemons and 7 medium lines into a large bowl. Add salt. Dice the Mahi Mahi and add to the juice so that it will begin to process (cook in the juice).  I’ve removed the Mahi Mahi from the ingredients list because I found it to be too fishy for my taste.  Add it if you like??

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Mahi Mahi in lemon-lime juice
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Lemons and limes quartered to juice

I used pre-cooked shrimp but you could also use raw shrimp and let it “cook” in the lemon/lime juice.  However, you would need to double the lemons and limes to have enough fresh juice to cover this large amount of shrimp. When using fresh fish, allow it to rest in the juice, refrigerated for 3 hours.

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Quartering the shrimp

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If you are short on time you can slightly cook the diced Mahi Mahi over medium low heat for a few minutes then cool and add to the juice. Since I was short on time as usual, I had to pre-cook the Mahi Mahi and use pre-cooked shrimp. It was still 2 hours in prep time using this method but was worth the time. I started with 2 pounds of shrimp less the few that I ate while prepping. I was hungry!

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Imitation Crab legs
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Chopping up the legs
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English cucumber is the best
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Chopped up cucumbers

Mix remaining diced ingredients as they are prepared and toss as you add the batches. Prepare the tomatoes last to keep their shape. When adding the tomatoes lift them away from the excess tomato juice before adding to the mixture. Discard the excess tomato juice and seeds.

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Couldn’t resist sneaking a few bites of tomato
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Diced tomato

Lastly, mix in the Clamato juice, catsup, tabasco, horseradish and cilantro, then add any additional salt or pepper to your preference.  Add enough catsup so that you get the thickness that you desire otherwise it may be too soupy.  Garnish with final lemon and lime. Halved and then sliced.

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Slicing lemon and lime for garnish
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Serve with mini cup size Tostitos.

One of the pictures that I took of this dish was for Halloween. The lemon and lime slices were eye-brows and Halloween style eye-ball ice cubes were added for a eerie look.

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Very creepy version

If you like the recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀 I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.

This sweet and savory stuffed mushroom appetizer is made with ground sweet Italian sausage, goat cheese & chopped Calimyrna figs.  For a little extra eye appeal they’ve been topped them with slivered almonds.

Fresh Calimyrna figs  are definitely my preference over the darker variety fig as they have a milder flavor that doesn’t over power the other ingredients.  The tastes of this stuffed mushroom will burst with variety of sweet and savory flavors that seem to crunch and pop out individually.

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You can easily substitute golden delicious apples and feta cheese for figs and goat cheese if not available.  Sometimes you can find dried figs packaged on the same aisle in the grocery as where you find raisins.

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