Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicken and Waffles

I never truly understood the whole "chicken and waffle" combination, which seems to have a foodie-religious following in the South. But I figured I would try it and finally say, "I've had chicken and waffles!" Unfortunately, there are not very many good soul food restaurants here in San Diego--actually there are just a handful of them. I'm a big fan of Church's chicken, which I know is fast food, but their fried chicken is pretty close to soul food, I think.

I did find a restaurant called Bonnie Jean's Soul Food and their food is quite good and tasty, although the neighborhood is somewhat questionable and the restaurant is clean, but a bit run down. Nevertheless, their chicken and waffles was quite delish. I enjoyed eating it, but it wasn't as an incredible meal as I thought it would be. Perhaps I just over-excited myself. Anyway, my favorite part is the fried chicken. I just love it. Below is a very easy fried chicken recipe and you can make (or omit) the waffles. It's up to you. A nice side of collard greens or even fried okra would go wonderful with this meal. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)


  • 1 (3 1/2 pound) fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces, giblets reserved and chopped
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasosing, or your favorite seasoning/rub mix
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs


  1. Heat enough vegetable oil to come about 1-inch up the sides of a large, deep cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and do not dry; leave wet. In a large sealable bag, combine the flour with the poultry seasoning. Add the chicken pieces 1 at a time, seal, and shake to coat evenly. Remove and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes (the thighs and legs will take longest to cook).
  4. Remove and drain on paper towels. Remove the pan from the heat and with a slotted spoon, scoop out any browned bits remaining in the pan and drain on paper towels.
WAFFLES: Special equipment: a waffle iron
  1. Sift together the flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Combine the wet ingredients, dry ingredients to form waffle batter.
  3. Ladle the batter into the waffle iron, following the manufacturer's instructions. While the waffle iron is closed, trim any overflow with the back of a knife. Cook until golden.
  4. Serve waffles hot, topped with hot Fried Chicken and sides of hot, melted butter, good maple syrup and hot sauce!

Monday, September 28, 2009


We had a end of summer festival at work several weeks ago and various food vendors came to our campus to sell their foods. One of the vendors (which had the longest line!) was selling homemade crepes, both savory and sweet. Well, my co-workers and I stood in line for what seemed forever but it was worth it. I got a lemon-butter crepe and a strawberries and cream crepe and they were divine.

I finally got the urge to make something last night for dessert and gave crepe making a try. I have to say making the batter is quite easy, the most difficult part, I think, was trying to get the pancake thin enough and being able to flip it. The recipe below is from Alton Brown and I used 2 ounces instead of 1 ounce, as he suggests. You can you any type of filling, but I went with an easy one: sweet sour cream and raspberry sauce.


  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Butter, for coating the pan

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly (I poured 2 ounces). Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

*Savory Variation Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, spinach or sun-dried tomatoes to the egg mixture.

*Sweet Variation Add 21/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur to the egg mixture.

Sour cream filling: Mix 1 cup sour cream with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Set aside in fridge when ready to use.

Raspberry Sauce

  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

Place half the raspberries in a saucepan with water and sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and sauce is thick. Add the remaining raspberries and orange zest. Heat through at the lowest temperature setting. Top filled crepes with raspberry sauce and garnish with sour cream and fresh raspberries.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deep Fried Pickles

Although I already have a fried pickle recipe in this blog, this particular recipe is a bit different because it's made with a cornmeal batter and I like the texture of this batter a bit better--plus it reminds me of the catfish batter I used to eat way back in the olden days when I lived in Florida. And you know the cliché that pregnant women crave pickles and ice cream? Well, I hate to tell you that it's true. I don't crave the ice cream (I am lactose intolerant after all, but I do crave frozen yogurt every freakin' day) but I can't get enough of dill pickles. This recipe makes a lot of fried pickles, so make sure you invite 3 or 4 pregnant women to feed these to!


  • A jar of sliced dill pickles
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Canola oil for deep frying, about 1″ in pan (or peanut oil, if you prefer)

Remove pickles from the jar and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in cast iron pan or other heavy pan.

Mix cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together egg and milk until well combined. Add pickles to the egg and milk mixture. Remove and toss pickles in cornmeal mixture until all surfaces are well coated and no wet spots remain.

Carefully fry the pickles in two batches. Fry until both sides of pickles are crisp and nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes. Set on paper towels and fry the second batch. Serve hot with my amazing aioli sauce or with cool ranch dressing.

Diva's Amazing (and super easy) Aioli Sauce

If there is one sauce I know by heart and can make with my eyes closed, it's aioli. I love this stuff. I love anything with mayo, really, but this aioli is pretty good considering it's not the authentic aioli you find in Spain or in Spanish restaurants (they use raw egg yolks). Nevertheless, this sauce not only goes great with a tortilla Española, but also goes wonderfully with french fries or boiled potatoes, smear it over crostini, or use it as a dip for fried pickles. I usually use 3 cloves of garlic, which makes it super garlicky, so you may want to start with one and eventually figure out how much garlic you prefer.


  • 1 to 3 garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • The juice of half of a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Best Foods Mayo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and place in fridge for a few hours for flavors to marry. Serve at room temperature with the tortilla.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grilled Veggie and Flank Steak Linguine

There really is no science to this dish. You just grill your favorite veggies, grill a small piece of flank steak (or use any leftover meat), cut them to bite size and toss them with pasta, a bit of marinara sauce, and of course don't forget the Parmesan. It's really that easy and it's a great dish to make outside on your grill on one of those super hot days when the last place you want to be is in the kitchen. You can even cook the pasta outdoors if your grill has a burner.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • About 3/4 pound flank steak
  • 1 small eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 1/2 cup your favorite marinara sauce, heated
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

To make the marinade: in a small glass or stainless-steel bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place flank steak in a plastic resealable bag and add the marinade. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Bring steak to room temperature before grilling.

Light the grill to high.

In a large shallow bowl, toss the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and garlic with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the black pepper. Grill or broil in batches, turning the vegetables once, until they are tender and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Cut the vegetables into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Grill the flank steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare or grill to your desired doneness. Cover steak with foil and let rest 5 minutes. When meat is well rested, thinly slice into strips by cutting against the grain.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until just done, about 13 minutes. Reserve about 3 tablespoons of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and toss with 1 tablespoon of the reserved pasta water, heated marinara sauce, the vegetables and the sliced beef. Add more pasta water if the pasta seems dry. Top with some Parmesan cheese and pass additional Parmesan at the table.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Braised Red Snapper with Black Olives and Lupini Beans

When Matt was in Rota, Spain, he not only picked up an arsenal of wine and port, but also some quite interesting foods such as Spanish blood sausage, a type of sheeps milk cheese, cans of olives and "tomate frito" and an interesting package of "saladitos" which I found out they were acutally brined lupini beans. I have never heard of or seen lupini beans. They look like flat butterbeans and taste somewhat between garbanzo and lima beans. The odd thing about these legumes is that no matter how long you cook them for, they will always be slightly al dente. I guess they are highly toxic when dried and you have to cook them for hours and hours and change the water, etc. So the Spanish (and I think Italians, too) found a way to brine these beans and they are simply served as snack food at most bars in Spain. They have an outer shell you have to peel before you pop them in your mouth. The brined lupinis we had were rather salty but they go great with beer--so I was told. Anyway, long story short, Matt and I couldn't possibly eat all of the beans so I came up with this dish using the beans (this recipe is very similar to my Tilapia with Tomato and Chickpeas but without all the spices).

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • About a 1.5 pounds of red snapper
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz. "tomate frito" or El Pato tomato sauce
  • Handful of black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of brined lupini beans, outer shells removed and soaked in warm water for a few minutes to remove excess salt

Wash the red snapper in cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet with 2" sides, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the snapper and quickly sear until you're able to flip the fish over (about 90 seconds). Add the wine and raise the heat and bring to a boil. Add the tomato sauce, olives and lupini beans. Lower heat and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with steamed white rice and a good, dry Spanish wine.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad


You're probably wondering why I haven't posted any new recipes, well, blame it on my pregnancy. I'm now almost 36 weeks pregnant and the size of Shamu the whale. My back aches, I'm constantly hot and sweaty, and I haven't seen my toes since July. My cravings are also always changing; one day I'm craving mango sorbet and slices of American cheese, and the next day all I want are black beans and rice. One craving that has not changed, though, is my desire for watermelon. I can't get enough of it and I found this delish recipe from a Canuck foodie. In the original recipe "kumatoes" are used. I have to admit I have no idea what they are. But regular Roma tomatoes or even cherry tomatoes work well with this refreshing dish.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 Roma tomatoes (or about 8 Cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 seedless watermelon wedge, 5 inches wide
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta

There is no need to seed or peel the cumbers. Slice cucumber lengthwise then again lengthwise. Finally cut crosswise into chunks, about 1 inch in size. Cut the tomatoes into quarters then cut them in half (if using Cherry tomatoes, only cut them in half). Cut watermelon into the same size chunks as the cucumbers. Place the cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon into a large bowl and toss gently.

Whisk together vinegar, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Add the mint, basil and feta. Toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Maple Roasted Bacon

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to make maple-roasted bacon and he'll love you for a lifetime!


  • 3/4 pound thick-cut smoked bacon (16 slices)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons good maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon begins to brown. Remove the pan carefully from the oven; there will be hot grease in the pan! Brush the bacon slices with maple syrup and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the bacon is a warm golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and serve warm.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Challah French Toast

When my mother-in-law was here last month for my baby shower, I decided to make French toast. I bought a huge challah bread (if you can't find it, you can use brioche instead) and I also made maple roasted bacon. This French toast is really yummy and the challah makes a difference because the bread has a slightly sweeter taste and it really hold up well when you fry it. Yummylicious!

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 (1/2-inch)slices challah bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Fresh fruit and real maple syrup for serving

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. Pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 minute.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.