Hawaiian Fried Rice from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2013

Sometimes, over the course of a month, I realize that I’m gravitating towards one magazine more than the others. This happens most often when the stack is larger than normal, as is the case with May.

Cook’s Country is my magnet this month. Personally, I blame Leia. If Cook’s Country comes and tells me I’ve topped my limit of dishes from this issue, I’m sending them her way.

She’s the one that wrote and asked if I’d give the Braciole a try, which I did.

Since the magazine was just sitting there, I perused the whole thing and quickly tabbed a bunch of other recipes. How could I resist making the Sheet Pan Pizza? It’s just dripping with home made sauce and oozing with melted mozzarella.

Lots of rainy days in a row encouraged me to pull out the slow cooker and make the Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken so we could have an indoor picnic.

And, after I was given a nine-pound ham, it seemed natural to pull out the magazine and dive into the Crumb-Coated Baked Ham. After all, none of the other magazines shared a ham recipe this month.

Of course, the folks at Cook’s Country take care of their readers. They wouldn’t share a recipe for a nine-pound ham without also providing a way to use up the leftovers.

Enter Hawaiian Fried Rice.

The Process

Because fried rice is in the stir-fry family, it’s really important to prep everything before turning on the oven.

Measure out and whisk the sauce together, chop the ham, cut up the bell pepper, mince the scallions and garlic, slice the onion, measure out the ham, lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and cube the pineapple. Have it all lined up and ready. Seriously.

Once all that is done, heat up the skillet with oil and start cooking. I followed the instructions exactly. Everything cooked up as expected in the exact amount of time suggested. It’s a perfect method.

The Verdict

In all honesty, I didn’t expect us to care for this dish. I’m not a fan of pineapple in savory foods. I’ll eat pineapple upside-down cake until I’m sick, but pineapple and rice? I don’t think so.

But I do think so. This dish was fantastic. All three of us thought so. Hubby had three servings and took a heaping amount to lunch today. Dudette found it to be very tasty as well (huge surprise), but it was too spicy for her. A full tablespoon of Sriracha will do that. She ended up have plain rice and ham for dinner.

Me? I found this to be addicting. I ate, then ate some more. I snagged another bite while putting the leftovers away. An hour later, I found myself thinking about those leftovers and wanting them. I resisted, but I’m definitely having Hawaiian Fried Rice for lunch.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

For adults, nothing. For Dudette’s sake, I’d use have the amount of Sriracha.

Hawaiian Fried Rice from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2013
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped ham
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 6 scallions, white parts minced, green parts cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain white rice, cold
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup ½-inch pineapple pieces
Instructions
  1. combine soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add ham, bell pepper, scallion whites and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 7-9 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to plate.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add rice and cook, breaking up clumps with spoon, until heated through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Push rice to one side of skillet; add remaining 1 teaspoon peanut oil to empty side of skillet. Add eggs to oiled side of skillet and cook, stirring, until set, about 30 seconds. Stir eggs and ham mixture into rice. Stir soy sauce mixture into rice until thoroughly combined.
  6. Off heat, stir in pineapple and scallion greens. Serve.

 

I know you’ve heard me say it before, but I’m going to say it again. Reading the recipe online, either here or on the official website, is nothing like reading it in the magazine. You’re missing out on the reasons that the ingredients are chosen. You don’t find out how the methods that were used were developed. You don’t get to see the little blurb on how to make ‘Faux Leftover Rice’ that Cook’s Country provides for those that don’t have any cold leftover rice in their fridge. I love my magazines.

(Thanks, Leia!)

Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2013

Many summers ago, my younger brother visited us in North Carolina. Wanting to show him the best of southern hospitality and cuisine, I invited a crowd over, made a big batch of potato salad, a vat of sweet tea and fired up the grill. There might have even been a hummingbird cake involved.

Everything was moving along swimmingly until ominous, dark clouds moved in. within a matter of minutes, the first raindrops splattered on the tables and a rumble of thunder suggested to us that this wasn’t going to just blow over. So, we grabbed everything and went indoors, where the party continued.

Even though it would make for great story-telling, we were lucky and made it under cover before the heavens broke loose and it rained. Friends, it went beyond rain to monsoon-level downpour.

There were chuckles and laughs about unpredictable North Carolina summers, but after a few minutes we all realized that while we were safe and sound inside, the meat was still sitting on the grill. Outside. Well, shazbat.

My younger brother. The guest. The visitor. The one for whom the shindig was being thrown. That man headed back out in a storm that was providing us with a spectacular lightning show and blowing rain, leaves and the occasional cow, sideways, stood out in all that using tongs to grab the meat and pull it off the grill for me.

When he was ready to send a plate inside, I’d stick my arm out the door, grab it and pull everything back in. Before serving the food to the guests, I had to pour the water that had collected on the plate out in the sink. That’s how hard it was raining.

The past four or five days have reminded me of that day. We’ve been lucky that we’ve only had to put up with ongoing cloud cover and off-and-on rain showers. Of course, the hardest rains hold off until I’ve walked down to the bus to pick up Dudette, but I’ll take it over what the Midwest has.

I am someone that learns from experience (most of the time). As long as that little rain icon  is on the forecast calendar and there’s green, yellow and red on the weather map, I’m letting the grill sit cold. Even though it makes me really sad.

It’s been four or five days with that cloud and lightning icon present and without sunshine. We needed to feel like it was spring. So, we had a picnic indoors. With the help of my slow cooker.

The Process

This arena pulls out the Sybil  in me. Google the 1976 film of the same name if you’re too young to recognize the reference.

Last Tuesday, I babysat my smoker for over eight hours as it cooked a pork butt to perfection. I was diligent in moping the meat every half hour and adding wood to the fire as needed without fail.

This weekend, I nuked some ingredients for a barbecue sauce in the microwave for a few minutes, whisked them together with the rest of the sauce-makings in my slow cooker, added the chicken, turned it on and walked away. For five hours.

It’s that simple.

The Verdict

Hubby, who has another sinus infection, said this didn’t have much flavor. I mention his sinus infection because he’s wrong (Daddy’s can be; Mommy’s never are.)  True, I did use a little less hot sauce because I knew Dudette would be eating with us, but my lips were tingly and Dudette said it was spicy so I know there was some heat and kick.

The pulled chicken is good. It’s really good. As expected, the chicken gets fork-tender after so long in the slow cooker. Even though I’m not a fan of using breast meat in the cooker because it can dry out, this wasn’t bad because there were so many thighs to balance them.

Dudette ate her whole burger and gave her nod and ‘mmmmm‘ of approval. I call that a success.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Not a thing.

Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2013
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 5 10 -12-ounce bone-in split chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 7 3-ounce boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons hot sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 10 sandwich rolls
Instructions
  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine onion, tomato paste, oil, chili powder, garlic and cayenne in a bowl and microwave until the onion softens slightly, about 3 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving. Transfer mixture to slow cooker and whisk in ketchup, molasses, mustard and vinegar. Add chicken to slow cooker and toss to combine with sauce. Cover and cook on low until chicken shreds easily with fork, about 5 hours.
  3. Transfer cooked chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. using large spoon, remove any fat from surface of sauce. Whisk hot sauce and liquid smoke into sauce and cover to keep warm. Remove and discard chicken skin and bones. Roughly chop thigh meat into ½-inch pieces. Shred breast meat into thin strands using 2 forks. Return meat to the slow cooker and toss to coat with sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on sandwich rolls.

 

There’s another set of storms rolling in right now. The room’s getting darker as the heavy clouds make their way in our direction so it’s going to be another day without sunshine. I might be breaking out the grill pan today.

Sheet Pan Pizza from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2013

My house is quiet. There isn’t a ball being bounced from room to room. No one’s watching Sponge Bob or Fairly Odd Parents. I haven’t been asked what’s for breakfast or informed that someone’s hungry yet.  I was able to sleep in, as was Hubby.

Dudette’s at a friend’s house for one of their regular sleep-over playdates and we won’t see her for another couple of hours. The quietness of her absence makes us realize how peaceful, and boring, our lives would be if she wasn’t in it.

Last night shed another glimpse into what life without a human tornado in residence might be like. We had friends over for dinner. Hubby and I were able to pick up the house without having to repeatedly tell someone to pick up their shoes from the living room. I shredded cheese without little hands reaching around me and grabbing as much as they could hold.

While we ate, I didn’t have to listen to complaints about grass on pizza. When we chose a movie to watch, we did it without worrying about its rating, receiving suggestions to consider Strawberry Shortcake, or cringing every time one of the Soggy Bottom boys let fly a cuss word.

We were . . . adults.

The Process

The little blurb under the title of this recipe claims that it’s less fussy than the thin-crust variety, that it doesn’t have a long fermenting time and that I won’t need a pizza stone or super-hot oven. I like that. If it’s true.

What this pizza does use is a sheet pan, which means that it makes a lot, supposedly twelve servings. The fact that I only have a few slices left says that that’s not true, but it does say quite a bit about how good dinner was.

We all know that from-scratch pizza isn’t every going to be a short, simple process, but this is pretty quick and easy, all things considered. I was a bit surprised at how quickly it went.

The dough, which is usually the most time-consuming and tedious process, didn’t need the long kneading time, but after an hour sitting in a bowl, I had a beautiful risen dough just waiting to be put in the sheet pan. Another short rise later and it was ready for the oven.

The sauce hated me. I walked away for a few minutes while it was simmering and it threw up all over my kitchen. Thank goodness Dudette wasn’t home to lend commentary. Although, Hubby filled in pretty well.

Be warned that the sauce is very thick and will burp like Vesuvius getting ready to blow. Mess aside, it’s gorgeous. The color is a deep red and it is well seasoned with garlic, oregano and pepper flakes.

If not for the hour rising time that the dough needs, I think this pizza would take about 40 minutes to make, which isn’t bad considering that it’s 100% home made.

The Verdict

Like I said, there are only a few slices left. Sheet Pan Pizza was a hit. I tried to get constructive criticism out of my friends, but they were too wow’ed over having home made pizza to say anything negative.

Hubby said he prefers my 30-Minute from Scratch Pizza, but that he did enjoy this. I liked it very much, but think I let the sauce thicken a little too much (maybe I walked away longer than I thought I did).

All in all though, when needing to feed a big crowd, this is the way to do it.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d use a splatter guard on my sauce pot.

Sheet Pan Pizza from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2013
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Pizza
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12
Ingredients
Dough
  • 1¾ cups warm water (110 degrees)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 cups (28 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Sauce and Toppings
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1½ cups)
  • 12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. For the dough: Grease a large bowl. Combine water, ¼ cup oil, and sugar in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flour, yeast and salt on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-low, add water mixture, and knead until dough is uniform in texture, about 3 minutes. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to ½ hours.
  2. Evenly coat a rimmed baking sheet with ¼ cup oil. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into 16x12 rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared sheet and stretch it to cover sheet, pressing dough into corners. Brush dough evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cover with plastic. Set in a warm spot (not the oven) until slightly risen, about 20 minutes.
  3. For the sauce and toppings: While the dough rises, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer until reduced to 3 cups, about 10 minutes. Off heat, season with salt to taste.
  4. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove plastic and, using your fingers, make indentations all over dough.
  5. Sprinkle dough with 1 cup Parmesan and bake until cheese begins to melt, about 7-10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and spoon sauce over pizza, leaving 1-inch border. Bake until sauce is deep red and steaming, 7-10 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle mozzarella and remaining ½ cup Parmesan evenly over sauce and bake until cheese is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
  7. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil. Serve.

 

 

Crumb-Coated Baked Ham from Cook's Country, April/May 2013

If your house is anything like mine, walking into the kitchen to prepare a meal triggers some kind of people magnet that draws the other family members to that room in record time.

I’ve tested this phenomenon thoroughly. If I just walk through the eating area and continue on to the living room, nothing happens. It doesn’t even work if I stop at the table and stand there for a minute. No one shows up.

Similarly, if I go entirely into the kitchen and just stand there, I stand alone. I look silly, but no one joins me.

However, if I flip on the light or open any cupboard, it’s suddenly family bonding time. Hubby suddenly realizes he’s hungry and wants something from the fridge, which just happens to be right where I am, pulling out ingredients for whatever I’m making. Dudette can be outside playing on her swing set, yet she’ll inexplicably come inside because she’s thirsty and she wants water, which comes from the fridge, which is exactly where I am.

In the blink of an eye, three people are attempting to occupy the space meant for just one (and that would be me).

All it takes is one raised eyebrow in Hubby’s direction for him to hightail it back to his office or man cave, but Dudette is another story. Once she realizes that she has; a) a captive audience, and b) a new source of entertainment, she there for the long haul.

In addition to offering to help (and then being either allowed to or encouraged to simply observe), Dudette regales me with stories, advice and insight into the food I’m preparing.

For instance, as I brushed the glaze on my ham, Dudette told me that she wasn’t going to like it. As I added cheese to the mashed potatoes and whipped it all together, I was informed that it looked ‘gross.’

It’s that kind of encouragement that gives me the warm fuzzies as I cook for my family.

The Process

It always feels strange to say a recipe is easy to make when it’s takes over four hours to prepare from start to finish. It’s true though. Much of the time is taken up with resting, cooking and then resting some more, so the hands-on aspect is very small.

For instance, the first instruction is to let the ham sit on the counter for an hour and a half. See? Painless. Next step; put the ham in the hot oven and let it cook for two hours. Effortless.

Except. Once the ham is in the oven, it’s time to make the glaze. It’s important to take the few minutes at the top of the ham’s baking time and make the glaze immediately so it has an opportunity to cool down before being brushed on.

After two hours, remove the ham from the oven, and the and the oven bag from the ham. Let it rest. During the period it’s collecting its thoughts on the counter is a good time to make the panko breading mixture and raise the oven’s temperature.

When ready, brush the incredibly sticky glaze on the ham, press on the panko mixture and return it to the hot oven to bake until golden brown.

If you’ve ever read a Cook’s Country magazine, you know that there are reasons for every little hoop that they put home cooks through. The recipes have been tried and tested many time. Chef Diane Unger went through six hams before settling on what you read above.

The trick is whether the success in the test kitchen translates to success in my kitchen.

The Verdict

Yeah, it does. Wow, does it. This ham is phenomenal. Dudette? Loved it. Two servings worth of loved it. In fact, we all took seconds. The ham is juicy and tender. The glaze has a perfect balance of sweet and tangy and the panko coating is crunchy, savory and delicious.

Not only is this ham fantastic hot out of the oven, but it’s equally superb the next day, sliced cold. It may be the best ham recipe I’ve come across to date.

It’s simply a gold medal winner. And a keeper.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

Absolutely nothing.

Crumb-Coated Baked Ham from Cook's Country, April/May 2013
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Meat
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 8-9 pound bone-in spiral-sliced ham
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup spicy brown mustard
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1½ cups panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set wire rack inside sheet. Place 12-inch square of foil in center of rack. Set ham on foil, flat side down and cover with oven bag, tucking bag under ham to secure it. Let ham sit at room temperature for 1½ hours.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake ham until it registers 100 degrees, about 2 hours (Lift bag to take temperature; do not puncture.)
  3. Meanwhile, combine sugar, brown mustard, vinegar, dry mustard, ginger, and cloves in medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to ¾ cup, 15-20 minutes. Let cool while ham cooks.
  4. Combine panko, parsley, oil, salt and pepper in bowl. Remove ham from oven, remove and discard oven bag, and let ham cool for 5 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  5. Brush ham all over with brown sugar-mustard glaze. Press panko mixture against sides of ham to coat evenly. Bake until crumbs are deep golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Transfer ham, flat side down, to carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

 

Yes, I used Colman’s dry and spicy mustard for my ham. No, this isn’t part of any company-requested promotion. A long time ago I did get a sample from Colman’s, and I fell in love with the mustard. Now it’s my go-to spicy and dry mustard choice and so I’m giving them a shout-out because they make me happy and happy is good.