Tuna Avocado Cucumber Salad with Feta Cheese


This is a Mexican/Mediterranean-inspired recipe based on one by Natasha’s Kitchen. The only addition I made is the feta cheese. This is a quick, healthy and refreshing side dish that’s perfect for your next outdoor BBQ.  Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 11-oz. foil package StarKist tuna
2 avocados, diced in 1/2″ chunks
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced in 1/4″ chunks
1 cup loosely-packed cilantro leaves
1/4 diced red onion
2 tbs. XV olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

Remove the tuna from the package and place in a mixing bowl. Break apart into medium-sized chunks. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the avocado, and season to taste. Mix gently.

Gently fold in the avocado and let chill for one hour before serving.
(It’s best to add the avocado last, so it doesn’t fall apart.)

Serves 4

Culinary Compost Boycotts Penzeys Spices


Hello fellow foodies. After reading recent commentary from Bill Penzey, the author of Culinary Compost is officially withdrawing all references to Penzeys Spices on this food blog. While I’ve always known that Bill overtly inserts his political opinion in monthly mailings to his customer base, (which, in its own right is wrong on so many levels,) I can no longer stand by and let this man spew his rhetoric of hate to conservatives, and to people who support and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, by labeling them “racist.”

I am not a racist. I never have been. And I resent being called one.

This is extreme-left socialism, and this kind of bigotry has no place in America.  Make no mistake — my observation is not one of Conservatives vs. Liberals. It is simply a stance of the author not supporting an individual who wants to further divide this country through hate by means of his product.

Shown below are a few articles and a link to Penzey’s official Facebook page:

http://truthfeed.com/owner-of-penzeys-spice-co-trashes-trump-supporters-calling-them-racist-and-saying-they-must-be-punished/39315/

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2016/11/21/penzeys-ceo-comments-ignite-backlash-praise-and.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/23/bill-penzey-ceo-trump-voters-just-committed-the-bi/

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/bill-penzey-spices-trump/

http://modernfarmer.com/2016/11/penzeys-spices-condemns-trump-attracts-rage/

https://www.facebook.com/Penzeys/?fref=ts

 

You be the judge.  Last time I checked, America was still a free country. And my readers, of course, are still allowed to shop where they want and exercise their right to free speech, which I will always respect. However, pitting people against each other in the guise of “Love” is a ruse by Bill Penzey, who’s only concern is making as much money as he can over a very contentious election.  Funny thing is, he’s pissed off a lot of his customers, and I, for one, will not be coming back.

Invariably, comments by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke say it best:
https://twitter.com/SheriffClarke/status/800088603422380033
“This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn’t live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods.”

Bill Penzey can be reached at bill@penzeys.com

#boycottpenzeys

 

In the interest of an open discussion, leave your thoughts below – none will be censured.
—Mike from Culinary Compost

Bill Penzey's Socialist Sea Salt

Penzey’s Spices announces new product.

Creamy Mushroom Risotto


Creamy Mushroom Risotto | Culinary Compost Recipes

Carefully cook the Arborio rice until al dente, so it retains a firm, creamy texture.

This is a comforting, hearty Italian recipe loosely based on several by Mario Batali and Ina Garten. You’ll note that in my version, the process and ingredients are simplified. This recipe makes a wonderful side dish. It can also be served as a main course meal with a nice, crusty Italian bread and butter or XV olive oil for dipping.

You don’t need to constantly stir the risotto in order for it to turn out correctly. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tbs. XV olive oil
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 small white onion, diced
1 strip bacon, diced
1/2 pound sliced and stemmed crimini mushrooms
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
48 oz. chicken stock
1/2 stick salted butter
2 tbs. minced flat-leaf Italian parsley, OR  4-6 stalks minced fresh summer chives
2 leaves fresh Italian basil, minced (optional)
Kosher salt to taste, about 1 tsp.
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh-grated hard Parmesan cheese (plus a bit extra for serving)

 

Directions:

In a heavy saucepan, heat the chicken stock until simmering. In a large, heavy, 5-qt. cast-iron Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the diced bacon. Saute for two minutes until the fat starts to render out. Add 2 tbs. of the butter, the onion, garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute, until the onion is translucent, about five to seven minutes. Do not carmelize the onion or scorch the garlic.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat. Continue to stir for two minutes until the rice is very lightly toasted. Reduce heat on the Dutch oven to medium-low. Add the white wine, salt and pepper and continue to cook until reduced. Next add six ounces of the heated chicken stock to the rice and stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue to add stock in six-ounce increments, stirring occasionally, and cook for at least 25 minutes. At this point the rice should be cooked al dente and appear creamy.

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the remaining butter, parsley or chives, the basil and the 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well to incorporate. Serve immediately in large bowls with more grated Parmesan cheese on top, as a garnish.

Serves 6

Creamy Mushroom Risotto | Culinary Compost Recipes

Adding the Arborio rice to the mushrooms, onion, garlic and bacon.

Sauteing the mushrooms, garlic and onion and bacon.

Sauteing the mushrooms, garlic and onion and bacon.

Grandma’s Baking Powder Biscuits


This is a classic recipe from my grandmother – I fondly remember her making these to accompany her famous fried chicken when I was a kid.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups sifted flour
4 heaping tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
5 tbs. Crisco shortening
2/3 ~ 3/4 cup milk (more if needed)
1/4 cup melted butter for brushing

Serve with real salted butter, slightly softened

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix the sifted flour with the baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and cut into coarse crumbs using a pastry cutter. Add the milk, a bit at a time, and fold lightly, creating a dough that will just separate from the sides of the bowl. Add a bit more milk, if necessary.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface or parchment paper. Knead gently for 30 seconds, but do not overwork or the biscuits will not rise as high, and be dense.
Using your hands, gently press the dough out to 1/2″ thick. Using a circular dough cutter, cut 8 to 12 biscuits. Brush the tops with melted butter.

Bake on a greased or nonstick cookie sheet for 12 minutes. You can also place them on baker’s parchment paper.

The biscuits will be done when they are a delicate, light golden-brown and flaky.
Remove immediately and serve with real salted butter that has been left out until slightly softened.

Cook time: 12 minutes
Yield: 8-12 biscuits

Mike’s Borracho Beans


The Spanish word borracho literally means drunken. This is a recipe based on a signature dish served at Joe’s Texas BBQ in Green Bay Wisconsin. At Joe’s, they use their home-prepared smoked sausage and a small amount of burnt-ends, which I don’t have access to. I improvised and used chorizo and a ham shank on bone, using the water it simmers in as a savory reduction broth. Negra Modelo beer is also added. This is a really great recipe but you have to allow enough time for it to cook – it cannot be rushed or the results will be for naught.

Go easy on the salt!  The ham and chorizo are loaded with it.  Enjoy-

Ingredients:

1 ham shank on bone
Cold water
2 links spicy chorizo sausage
3 cups dry pinto beans
1 14.5 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup strong black coffee
1 12 oz. bottle Negra Modelo beer
32 oz. beef stock
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled, and minced
1 flame-peeled poblano pepper, diced
1 tbs. ground chipotle, to taste
1 tbs. ground cumin, toasted from seed
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground Mexican oregano
1/2 tbs. ground ancho chili powder
2 dry bay leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves – washed and stemmed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. rendered bacon fat
Dash of fresh-squeezed lime juice

Preparation:

Wash the dry pinto beans in a colander and cover in cold water overnight.
When ready, heat the smoked pork ham shank in a 5-qt cast-iron dutch oven, partially covered,  with enough water to just cover the shank. Simmer on medium-low for about 2 hours, until the meat falls off the bone.
Rotate occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Remove from heat and place aside in a dish to cool. SAVE  the water the ham shank was simmered in.
De-bone the shank and trim meat of all fat – cutting into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bone,  and place the meat back into the pot with the reserved water. Bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Add the can of whole peeled tomatoes and crush with a potato masher. Add the coffee and beer. Rinse the beans and add to the pot.

In a separate heavy pan, sautee the onion and garlic on medium-low heat in 2 tbs. rendered bacon fat until translucent – about 15 minutes. Take care not to burn the garlic.
Add to the pot with the dry spices and bay leaves.

Brown the chorizo sausage in a separate pan – cut into 1/2″ chunks and add to the pot.
Using a propane torch or a burner, blacken the poblano – peel and dice. Add to the pot.

Add the beef stock and simmer uncovered on low for about 4 hours, until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally.  Add the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Stir before serving.

NOTE: The consistency is not supposed to resemble baked beans. There should be a nice, rich broth. Add more beef stock or a bit of water if it becomes too thick.

Serves 6-8
Makes about 4 quarts

Simmered Ham Shank Boned and Cubed Ham Shank Chorizo Sausage Mike's Borracho Beans

Scalloped Potatoes


I modified this recipe after much experimentation, using several variations from Food Network, chef Robert Irvine and Emeril Lagasse. This recipe turns out best in a shallow covered casserole dish – it seems to set up better and cook more evenly.

It is great as a winter side dish to baked ham — the ultimate comfort food!

Ingredients:

5 large potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/8″ thick slices
1/3 cup flour
4 tbs. butter
1 onion, diced
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded Colby cheese
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground dry thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (not salt!)
1/4 tsp. white pepper, to taste
1 tsp. salt, to taste
4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
2 stalks chopped scallion, with greens, for garnish

Directions:

Peel the potatoes and set aside in a pot of cold water. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Measure out other ingredients and set aside. When ready, slice the potatoes into 1/8″ planks using a mandoline.

In a heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to form a golden roux. Stir constantly, about 10 minutes. Add the dry spices and bacon, then the milk and heavy cream. Reduce heat and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring constantly.

Planning for three layers, arrange 1/3 of the sliced potatoes in a greased shallow casserole dish, covered with 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the shredded Colby cheese. Repeat twice and top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake covered for one hour, then remove the cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Remove and let stand for 10 minutes. Top with chopped scallion for garnish and serve.

Serves 6

Country Buttermilk Biscuits


This is a great recipe for southern-style country buttermilk biscuits. I’ve had great success using my Breville Sous Chef food processor. The buttermilk makes for richer, more flavorful biscuits.

 

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the countertop work surface
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
1 tbs. baking powder
2 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. table salt
6 tbs. cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk (more if needed)
1/4 cup melted butter

Softened real butter for serving

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the work bowl of a food processor.
Cut the butter into small squares and add to the bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut into the flour until it looks like coarse crumbs.
If using a food processor, use the pulse feature so you don’t overwork it. It will only take a few seconds. Add the buttermilk and mix until just combined. DO NOT overwork.
If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. The consistency should be wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Using your hands, gently pat down until the dough is 1/2″ thick. DO NOT use a rolling pin or your biscuits will not rise as high, and be dense. Fold the dough about 5 times, and gently press the dough down to 1″ thick. Use a round cutter to cut into ten rounds. The folding will produce a flaky, layered texture.
You can gently knead the scraps together and make a couple more, but they will not be as fluffy as the first ones.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet leaving about 1″ of space between each. The biscuits will rise higher if they are touching. Brush each with a bit of melted butter.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes (default to 10 minutes to ensure they don’t overcook.) When done, they will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.
Do not over bake.

Serve with softened real butter.

 

Makes 10-12 biscuits