Goodnight Charlie’s Hot Chicken Tacos

Food & Wine June 2018 Travel: Honky Tonk/ David Keck Hot Chicken TacosOnce he achieved the wine world’s most coveted initials behind his name, M.S. (Master Sommelier), instead of heading off to some five-star fancy pants restaurant to show the upwardly mobile out to impress their friends, or those with more money than sense, his incredible wine knowledge, Jeff Keck opened up a HONKY TONK, yes, a Honky Tonk in Houston!  That doesn’t mean he’s stepped away from his love of wine, indeed, far from it.

While getting his other wine-themed businesses and restaurants off the ground nearby, Goodnight Charlie’s serves up gourmet Texas fare with lots of Bourbon, Beer, Vodka, and davidkeckfelipericcioyes, some wine too.  There’s even a #RhinestoneCowboySpecial – a bottle of tête de cuvée Champagne and 12 tacos, prepared by his business partner, and chef, Felipe Riccio.  As the recipe below shows, they’re far from your run-of-the-mill street tacos.  I love Nashville Hot Chicken, so these should be right up my alley! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Goodnight Charlie’s Hot Chicken Tacos

Chicken

  • 6 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 5 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/8 ounces)
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk

Stir together 6 cups warm water, sugar, and 1/2 cup salt in a large, lidded container until dissolved. Let cool. Place chicken in brine; cover and chill 8 hours.

Drain chicken, and discard brine. Whisk together cornstarch, flour, chili powder, cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder, and 4 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Place buttermilk in a separate bowl. Working in small batches, dredge chicken pieces in cornstarch mixture, dip in buttermilk, and dredge again in cornstarch mixture. Place coated chicken pieces in a fine wire-mesh strainer, and shake off excess flour mixture. Place chicken in a single layer on 2 wire racks on rimmed baking sheets, and let stand 15 minutes.

Spiced Oil

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 cup grape seed oil, plus more for frying

Stir together cayenne, brown sugar, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Heat 1 cup grapeseed oil in a medium skillet over medium-high until hot, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add spice mixture to oil, stirring to combine. Let cool 10 minutes. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat 1 inch of grape seed oil in a large, heavy, high-sided skillet over medium-high to 360°F. Working in 3 batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until crispy and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to bowl with spiced oil; toss to coat. Lift chicken from bowl; place on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Transfer baking sheet to preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat procedure 2 times with remaining chicken and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Braised Greens

  • 4 ounces fresh Mexican Chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño
  • 1 (12-ounce) bunch collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place Chorizo, onion, and jalapeño in a large skillet over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until Chorizo is crumbled and browned and onions are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add greens and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Stir in vinegar. Remove from heat.

Additional Ingredients

  • 24 (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped bread-and-butter pickle chips

Divide braised greens and fried chicken among warm tortillas. Top with pickles.

Serve alongside a couple of ice cold beers, or, if you’re feeling fancy, do it #GoodnightCharliesStyle and pop open a bottle of Champagne. #GirlsGoneWine

Pumpkin Gingerbread

pumpkingingerbreadI’m not a big pumpkin spice anything girl, but I am a big fan of pumpkin pie and just about any bread or muffin that has pumpkin in it.  I am not, however, a big fan of the amount of fat that usually accompanies those recipes and look for any way I can to trim that aspect down so I can enjoy more of those seasonal treats.

On this first day of October, it may have been 90° and muggy in the shade where I live, but I’m kicking off my fall baking (well after dark) with this recipe for pumpkin gingerbread with no added fat.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup applesauce or banana puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 3+1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-15oz can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, applesauce or banana puree, and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Cool loaves completely on wire racks.  Store wrapped in refrigerator.

#ThisGirlLovesToEat

Baltimore Style Crab Cakes

When I am in the mood for crab but don’t want the mess & hassle of cracking shells and digging the meat out, nothing fits the bill like a crab cake.  I’m not talking about a crab cake that’s mostly crappy breadcrumbs and other cheap fillers, I’m talking a cake filled with lush, sweet crab meat and little more.

FandW092018The September 2018 Food & Wine Magazine features their 40 “Best Ever Recipes,” which lured me in with a luscious chocolate cake on the cover, but they hooked me with this recipe for crab cakes, nine pages from the back of the magazine on page 95!

Andrew Zimmern’s Baltimore Style Crab Cakes

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (See note below)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
  • 20 saltine crackers, finely crushed (See note below)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (See note below)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce until smooth.

In a medium bowl, lightly toss the crab meat with the cracker crumbs. Gently fold in the mayonnaise mixture.   In Andrew Zimmern’s words, if you don’t over mix, and don’t pack your mounds too tightly, you will experience “pure, unadulterated crab cake heaven.”  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Scoop the crab mixture into eight 1/3-cup mounds; lightly pack into 8 patties, about 1+1/2 inches thick. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderately high heat until deeply golden and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the crab cakes to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

  • Tip 1:  If you prefer, you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp yellow or spicy mustard and omit the Dijon mustard and hot sauce
  • Tip 2:  You can substitute 1/2 cup Panko crumbs for the saltine crackers
  • Tip 3:  You can substitute any lightweight oil for the canola oil.  I prefer olive oil.
  • Tip 4:   If you plan to serve these as appetizers you can scoop them with a small cookie scoop, a soup spoon or melon baller – depending on whether you want them to be a 1 or 2 bite app.
  • MAKE AHEAD Crab cakes can be prepared thru Step 2 & refrigerated overnight

The recipe as written serves 4 people 2 patties each alongside a peppery arugula salad topped with diced mango, pineapple & cucumbers with a squeeze of lemon juice & a tablespoon of vinaigrette dressing.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

This recipe was originally published in 2012, and also appears on Andrew Zimmern’s website.  Food & Wine Magazine recommends pairing these crab cakes with a Muscadet#GirlsGoneWine  I’m not familiar with Muscadet, so I looked to my go to wine reference site, Wine Enthusiast, for an education on this brisk, lemony wine from the Loire Valley region of France.  Wine enthusiast says the flavor profile of Muscadet wine can vary from very neutral to tangy and saline.  Basic Muscadet wine is light in body and light in flavor, and may have a little spritz. Higher quality examples lean more towards a tangy saltiness and notes of flinty minerality, with a smooth texture and friendly, approachable nature.   As for specific recommendation, here’s a very affordable option:BougrierLesMartinieres

  • Bougrier Les Martinieres – This crisp, fruity white is an enjoyable accompaniment to shellfish and light appetizers. Its light sweetness adds richness to the light lemon, mineral and peach notes.  Total Wine $10.99

Easy Vegan Pumpkin Spice Granola

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Fall officially started two days ago.  Temperatures in most of the United States (not here in Southern California, of course) have begun dropping and falling leaves are all over the ground with colors ranging from light green to yellow, orange, red and brown.  But to a very large, very loyal, bordering on fanatical. portion of society, MOST importantly it’s #PumpkinSpice everything season.

In keeping with the season, and my requirement that as many of the recipes I share be quick, easy & don’t require ingredients I can’t find at my local grocery stores, enjoy this granola recipe, found on Blissful Basil, that also fulfills a category I don’t usually include: it’s vegan!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Granola ClustersSuper-Clustery-Pumpkin-Spice-Granola-1691

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats*
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup raw shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup creamy unsalted almond butter
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 275F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Add the rolled oats, coconut flakes, pepitas, and pecans to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the maple syrup, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, and sea salt over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and glossy. Pour over the oat mixture and stir very thoroughly to combine (you want every last bit of the dry mixture to be evenly coated).
  4. Turn the mixture out onto the lined baking tray and use a fork to gently nudge it across the pan, spreading it into an even layer that’s just shy of 1/2 inch thick. It’s okay if there are gaps or holes between clumps of granola.
  5. Bake for 38 to 48 minutes, or until the top is light golden-brown, the granola near the edges of the pan is just beginning to turn deep golden-brown, and the granola feels dry and firm but not yet crisp to the touch. (Note: I recommend keeping a watchful eye on it and checking it a few times as it bakes. Granola doesn’t become crisp and crunchy until it’s had a chance to cool, so rely on look and scent more than touch or you’ll end up with burnt granola.)
  6. Once the granola is ready, remove the pan from the oven and place it on an oven-safe cooling rack to allow air to circulate beneath and around the pan to efficiently cool and crisp the granola.
  7. Allow the granola to cool completely on the pan until it’s not even the slightest bit warm to the touch. If you start moving it around or try to break it into clusters while it’s still warm, it will crumble. I recommend a minimum 45 minutes of cool time at room temperature, but try to hold out for 1 hour if you can.
  8. Once the granola is completely cool, break it into pieces of desired size and store in large airtight glass jars to maintain its crunch.

This granola can be enjoyed many ways:

  • Crumble over plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Drop chunks over ice cream (my guilty pleasure)
  • Pile in a bowl, top with berries and/or some bananas and milk for breakfast; or
  • Eat the clusters straight from the jar

You can’t go wrong, no matter how you enjoy these.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Indoor Grilled Swordfish

swordfish

One of the things I hear people complain about when summer ends is that cook-out season is over.  I’ve always thought that was odd.  My family grilled year round.  I remember my dad and grandpa out on the deck of our mountain cabin, even in the snow, grilling steaks on the BBQ.  For some people though, the harshness of the winters where they live just doesn’t make that an option.  Solution: their oven’s broiler and a good broiler pan!

broilerdrawerI’d never consider it if I had to use the hard to clean, slide out broiler pan drawer that was part of my mom’s 1970’s oven.  Thankfully technology has improved enough to encourage me to give indoor broiling a try.  When I upgraded my slide in range there was a parts order form included. The only thing that caught my eye was an easy to clean broiler pan with a roasting rack.  Once I had the part number it was easy to find, and get it faster, on Amazon.  As soon as I got it, I started experimenting with fast & easy indoor grilling recipes for the winter.kitchenaidwhirlpoolbroilerpan

Indoor Grilled Swordfish

  • 2 – 4 to 6 oz swordfish filets
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups arugula
  • sliced cucumber
  • sliced tomato
  • bottled red wine vinagrette
  • olive oil spray

Swordfish:

Remove the slotted top of the broiler rack and set aside.  Line the inside of the broiler pan with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup).  Spray the roasting rack lightly with olive oil spray and place onto the foil lined broiler pan.

Liberally salt and pepper one side of the swordfish steaks and place, seasoned side down, onto the prepared rack. Salt and pepper the top side of the swordfish steaks, then squeeze your lemon over each steak until you’ve gotten about 2 tsp of juice on each steak.  Brush each steak with the melted butter. Put them under the broiler, about 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. Broil the steaks for about 4 minutes.

Turn the swordfish steaks, squeeze your lemon over each steak, brush each with melted butter and broil for 5 minutes longerDO NOT OVERCOOK or your swordfish will get rubbery.  When your steaks have finished cooking, remove the broiling pan from the oven, set on the stove, and tent loosely with foil while you prepare your salad.

Salad:

Divide the arugula between 2 plates.  Divide your tomatoes between the plates, with then just to the side of the arugula.  Stack & quarter your cucumber slices then divide them between the plates, scattering them atop the arugula.  If it’s avocado season, and you like them, slice one up and add it to the top of your salad.  Lightly dress your salad with 2 TBLS red wine vinagrette.  You don’t want to overpower the lightness of your fish.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

I’ll never be able to do enough cardio to exercise off the deep love I have for the food of my Daddy’s Alabama family.  Shrimp & Grits are, by far, the one dish I can never say no to, as my jeans will attest…

This Food Network recipe from Tyler Florence tabs itself the “Ultimate” and I have to say, he’s not just tooting his own horn.  This dish is pretty damn good & it satisfies my 3 recipe musts:

  • Must be quick
  • Must have ingredients that are easy to find
  • Must not require culinary school skills to make!


Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper.

  • 2 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped (1 tsp pre-chopped in the jar)
  • 1 pound Andouille, or spicy Italian sausage, cut in chunks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • pinch cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBLS finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately with crusty bread and ice cold beer. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lemon Pepper Shrimp

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Once school starts, week night sit down dinners together for most families become a memory.  This recipe requires few ingredients, can be made in under 30 minutes (while Mama is sipping her glass of wine), can be made ahead and reheated, and makes week night dinners together something that doesn’t have to stop as soon as summer is over!  This serves 4 but can easily be doubled to serve a larger family or guarantee leftovers. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lemon Pepper Shrimp with Linguine

  • 1 – 8 ounce package linguine pasta
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic minced (I use the pre-chopped jars which would equal 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 TBLS chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 TBLS chopped fresh basil
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Whole basil leaves for garnish

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil
  2. Add linguine and return to a boil
  3. Cook according to package directions for al dente pasta (usually 11 to 13 minutes)
  4. Drain the pasta and put into a large bowl
  5. Toss with 1 to 2 TBLS olive oil and set aside
  6. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, and saute garlic about 1 minute
  7. Mix in chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, & pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is reduced by about 1/2
  8. Mix shrimp, butter, parsley, and basil into the saucepan
  9. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp is opaque
  10. Stir in the cooked linguine, and continue cooking 2 minutes, until well coatedWesterlySauvBlanc14

To serve, place a mound of pasta in the center of dish and divide the shrimp and sauce evenly between the plates. If desired sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese atop and garnish with leaves of basil.  This dish pairs nicely with chilled Sauvignon Blanc. #GirlsGoneWine