Well, I’ve certainly been lax in posting things, for which I apologize.  I haven’t fully recovered from my computer’s router failure, and I haven’t seen the point in spending money on a new router when I want to save up money for a whole new computer in the first place.

That being said, please allow me to try and make it up to you by offering a number of excellent recipes.  We shall begin with:

Nashville-style hot fried chicken

You’re going to need a brine, first of all, which means that you shall have to corral the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 g. water
  • 1/2 c. Tabasco®
  • 1/2 c. salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 chicken, whacked up into quarters (specifically, two each of thighs, legs, wings, and breasts)

This amount ought to be enough to feed four or five or maybe even six people–depending, obviously, on how hungry they are.

You will also require the coating for said chicken, thus:

  • 3 qt. peanut or plain ol’ vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Kindly see to it that your various spices are new and fresh.

All right, moving on:  Whisk the first four brine ingredients together; make sure that the solid bits get nice and dissolved.  Dump the chicken therein, cover it, and stash the whole thing in your refrigerator for 45 minutes or so (give or take fifteen minutes).

Heat up 3 Tbsp. of oil and add to that the cayenne, paprika, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, the garlic powder, and the second measure of sugar, for just about thirty seconds.  If you think it might have burned, even a little, toss it out and start over.

Now take the chicken out of the brine.  Mix together the flour, 1/2 tsp. of salt, and the pepper.  Knock the chicken pieces around in that flour mix, banging off the excess flour (be sure to coat them well), and then set them on a wire rack.

Okay, heat up the oil in your deep-fryer or a Dutch oven or whatever, and get it up to somewhere between 300 and 325º.  That’s a bit low for most deep-frying purposes (generally, you want to be around 360º) but in this case, we want to make sure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked before the coating starts burning, so we need a temp. a little on the low side.  Toss the chicken around in the flour again, and then fry it until it’s done.  Let it drain on a rack.

Rewhisk the spicy oil and brush it all over the chicken.  Be generous.  Serve the chicken up on plain ol’ white bread, with plenty of pickles.

If you want it extra hot–which is fine with me–use 1/4 c. oil, 3 1/2 Tbsp. cayenne, 3/4 tsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. mustard powder.

Good stuff.

You may, at this point, require a bit of cooling influence, in which case the following should come in quite handy:

Amish potato salad

Awfully good, and pretty simple.

  • 3 lbs. Yukon Gold taters, peeled and cut up into 3/4″ pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 c. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. plain ol’ yellow mustard, of the ball-park variety
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 3/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 celery rib, diced up nice and fine

Simmer the taters with 1 Tbsp. of salt for about ten minutes.  While that’s doing its thing, microwave the vinegar and sugar just long enough to get the sugar to dissolve–thirty seconds or so.  Then zap in your food processor:  the vinegar/sugar solution, mustard, one hard-cooked egg yolk (save the white), celery seeds, and 1/2 tsp. salt until it’s all nice and smooth.

Drain yon taters and put them in a big-ass bowl.  Add about two tablespoons of the dressing and give it all a good toss.  Stash that in your icebox for a good half-hour, remembering to fold or gently stir it from time to time.

Now, whisk the sour cream into the remaining dressing.  Add all of the remaining egg bits and mash all that up with a potato masher or some similar device (personally, I prefer using a sturdy whisk, but that’s just me).  Add the dressing and the celery to the potatoes, once they’re cool, and then cover the whole thing and chill it for at least half an hour.  Taste it and tweak the salt & pepper level.  Done.

Not in a Nashville-style hot fried chicken mood?  Maybe this’ll be your style:

Grilled pork tenderloin

Easy-peasy, and lickity-split.

  • 2 pork tenderloins (around 1 1/2-2 lbs. total)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. mustard seeds, cracked
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, also cracked
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns, also also cracked
  • 1 tsp. demarara or turbinado or ordinary brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cornmeal
  • 1/2 c. cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites

Pat the pork dry with some paper towels.  Combine the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, sugar, salt, and cornmeal on a baking sheet with a rim around it.  Put the cornstarch in a largish bowl, and then whip the egg whites until they’re nice and foamy.  Coat the tenderloins with a bit of the cornstarch, and then the egg whites, and then the spices.  Get your grill nice and clean, oil it, and then grill the tenderloins until they have an internal temp. of 145º.  Take ’em off, put ’em on a plate or something, and let them enjoy themselves underneath a pup-tent of foil for about eight minutes before you slice ‘n’ serve.

Told you it was easy.

Maryland crab cakes

Bear in mind, please, that I used to live in Maryland, and I can tell you for a fact that every single restaurant in the whole damned state claims to have the “best” and “most authentic” Maryland crab cakes.  Screw all that; here’s the real deal, and the best you’ll have.  Honest.  And if you don’t like crab cakes, no offense, but y’ain’t quite right upstairs.  Know what I mean?  Of course you do.

  • 14 saltine crackers
  • 1 lb. lump crab meat, picked over to assure the absence of bits of shells
  • 3 scallions, minced up nice & small (a bit of a pain, but hang in there)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted, and 1 Tbsp. just soft
  • 2 Tbsp. mayo
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp. good Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. Frank’s Red Hot® sauce
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay® seasoning
  • 1 lemon, cut up into wedges

Zap the saltines in your food processor until they’re nice and fine.  Drain the crab meat and pat it nice and dry with some paper towels.  Fold together the crab, 1/4 c. of the cracker crumbs, the scallions, melted butter, mayo, yolk, Frank’s® and Old Bay®.

Heck, we’re almost done!

Form four cakes, and press the top of each one into the remaining cracker crumbs.  Put the crumb-side down on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and refrigerate them for anywhere between one and eight hours.

When service time rolls around, grease another sheet pan with the soft butter, and put the crab cakes on it–again, crumb-side down–and broil them for twelve or fifteen minutes (personally, I like mine pretty much on the brown side, but maybe that’s just me).  Serve ’em up with the lemon wedges.

Do we need one more side dish?  Well, okay.

Three-bean salad

  • 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 8 oz. yellow wax beans, likewise
  • 1 x 16 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Bring the following to a boil, and then turn it all down to a simmer and let it go for about five minutes:  the vinegar, sugar, oil, onion, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Have a big bowl of ice water ready.

Boil 1 g. water, and add 1 Tbsp. salt, the green and yellow beans, and let that cook for about three minutes.  Drain the beans off and move them to the bowl of ice water.  Let them sit there for a few minutes, and then drain them again and make sure they’re nice and dry (it’d be a good idea to pat them with some paper towels).

Now, just toss everything together and stash it in your icebox for a good half hour, then have a taste and tweak the S & P.