Tag Archives: cheese

Johnson City Tortilla Pie

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Imagine, if you will, that you are 11. That you are seat belted into a giant Buick LeSabre, next to your sisters. Imagine the Judds coming through the car speakers, and singing along in harmony with most of the people in the car. Imagine one of your sisters gets car sick. A lot. Imagine mom giving Dramamine to all of us, because there’s one kid who likes to get sick, but that shit will knock the other two of you out for awhile. Imagine your sleepy little feet landing in a pyrex casserole dish full of a beautifully executed King Ranch Chicken casserole in the floorboard. Welcome to my childhood.

The King Ranch is a big place in Texas. There is a casserole named after it. Enough about that.

MY family ranch, The Stanton Ranch, is in Johnson City, Texas. While nothing to sneeze at, in terms of acreage and acclaim it is no King Ranch. But that didn’t even enter our minds while we traversed its creeks and rivers in our inner tubes, fished, made the most of its ample venison and generally enjoyed being around our relatives.

And we all knew how to eat. Mom, Aunt Marcie and Granny would generally do a casserole or two ahead of time for ease and convenience while we were all up at the ranch, much preferring to spend time in the creek or playing cards than sweating over the stove.

For issues of freezability and portability, the casserole is a solid meal. In this version, I have taken the classic King Ranch Chicken casserole and made it palatable. Reduced are the cans of condensed soup, and more complex flavors take their place.

What you need:

  • 1 lb uncooked white meat chicken, cubed
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano + 1 tsp Mexican oregano (I use Bolner’s Fiesta Spices for this, it’s really the best)
  • 1 tbsp cumin + 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lard (or olive oil or butter)
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp masa harina or flour
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 10.5 ounce can Cream of Mushroom condensed soup
  • 4 tsp chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup white wine, 1 tsp Mexican oregano, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder and 1 pound of chicken. Bring to a gentle simmer and allow to stew for about a half hour. Remove from heat, allow to cool on its own.

Preheat oven to 375.

Melt 1 tbsp lard in a large saute pan. Add the chopped onion, sweat. Add the garlic and sliced mushrooms. Add 1 tsp Mexican oregano, 2 tsp cumin, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp white pepper.

Scatter 2 tbsp masa over the entire mixture. Stir and allow the raw flavor to be cooked off.

Shred the cooked chicken into the mixture and stir. Add the cooking liquid from the chicken plus an additional 1/4 cup white wine. Stir to bring the masa and liquids together.

Add the condensed soup and Rotel tomatoes. Add the chopped jalapeños (optional).

Spray a rectangular 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Cut 10 of the tortillas in half. Line the bottom of the casserole dish using the straight edges of the halved ones to make the perimeter, then covering the middle with two whole tortillas. Spread 1/3 of the chicken mixture over the tortillas. Repeat this process 3 times, so that there are three layers of tortilla alternating with 3 layers of chicken mixture.

Cover the top with the grated cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Full downloadable PDF here: Johnson City Tortilla Pie

This is a dream in the freezer. Cover tightly and shove her in for a rainy day.

Also, I slathered mine with The Gentleman Caller’s All-Purpose Chili Sauce #1 http://thegentlemancaller.net/the-gentleman-callers-all-purpose-chili-sauce-1/ and then topped with a sprig of micro cilantro that I sprouted earlier.

You are going to love this one, kiddos.

Keep coming back; I’ll keep giving you more.

xo-TGC

 

Motormouth Gang Mac and Cheese

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Ladies and gentleman, I have made quite a reputation for myself…

…for making the best mac and cheese. Ha, you dirty skank, you thought I was talking about something else.

When I was playing Link Larkin in Hairspray, occasionally the “Motormouth Gang” would have functions or events without the “Nicest Kids in Town.” It was not some kind of slight or oversight, it was simply that particular group of friends having a hang. However, on one occasion, I, Austin Miller Link Larkin, was granted an invitation to hang at a potluck situation with the Motormouth kids. Here’s what I’m going to tell you as a sweeping racial generalization: black people know how to cook.

Hairspray
Las Vegas Production
2/4/06
Credit Photo: ©Paul Kolnik
NYC
212.362.7778
studio@paulkolnik.com

I knew immediately what I was taking. Two pans of mac and cheese. I had mastered mac and cheese, and this was going to be an opportunity to prove myself.

To this day, in New York City, other people in the Broadway community ask me about my mac and cheese. It’s not that hard. I pray it’s not a technique / instinct thing.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or white pepper if you don’t want to see it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated white onion
  • 20 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese**, divided & grated
  • 1-16 ounce package elbow macaroni, cooked to package instructions

**A delicious option is 12 ounces extra sharp cheddar and 8 ounces Gruyere cheese. Up the nutmeg to 1/4 teaspoon.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a large and deep casserole dish with cooking spray such as PAM. Combine milk and half and half in something you can pour from.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Sift the flour into the melted butter and whisk together at medium heat. Cook the roux. It should get bubbly and really bind. Add all the seasonings and grated onion.

Whisk in the milk and half and half a little at a time. Keep whisking. Whisk. Whisk. Do not stop. Turn the heat up a little. It should bubble. It should start to obviously thicken to the consistency of runny pancake batter. Remove from heat.

Add all but 2 cups of cheese to the pan you’ve been whisking. Stir it all together to melt the cheese. Add all the cooked macaroni. Stir to combine.

Pour into casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Put into the 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Depending on how hard you like your cheese topping, you may want to go another 5 minutes. Just don’t let it get too dry.

Don’t eat the whole thing or you’ll be sick!

I offered the gruyere option above and honestly that’s how I most often do it. But my sweetie Terry LaVelle Mercedes Tammy Spectra wanted the straight up recipe so that’s what this is!

All for now,

TGC

MOTORMOUTH GANG MAC AND CHEESE

Corn Cake Louise

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Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Cornbread. Like barbecue, it comes in innumerable incarnations and everyone thinks theirs is the best. Well, they can all go to hell because mine actually IS THE BEST.

Cornbread has remained an enduring staple because it goes with practically everything. This recipe doesn’t make a large quantity; I am rarely cooking for the masses. However, it doubles and triples very well. The yield on this is about 9 servings.img_8444-3

This recipe is the one I grew up eating that my sweet Mawmaw made for me. I have altered it ever so slightly only because I love green chilis. If you don’t like them, leave them out.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup melted butter flavor Crisco (Don’t judge. Do it.)
  • 1 16 oz can creamed corn
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 4 oz can green chilis

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Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another bowl or 4-cup pyrex, add creamed corn to melted butter flavor Crisco. If you REALLY have a problem with this, you can use melted butter. Butter flavor Crisco, for some reason, imparts a different texture in the final product. When I make pie crust I use half butter, half Crisco. It’s not good for you. Don’t eat it every day. But every once in a while, no big deal. OK, rant over. Beat in eggs, buttermilk and green chilis.

Now it’s time to make a choice: you can bake this in a greased 8×8 in a 400 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Second choice: Put a 12 inch cast iron skillet in a 400 degree oven and get it hot. Drop a dollop of BUTTER FLAVOR CRISCO in the hot skillet, swirl to coat the bottom and sides, add the batter. Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes. (check it at 25 minutes)

Third, and my favorite, choice: on the stove top, heat a cast iron skillet or comal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comal_(cookware) and grease it up. It shouldn’t smoke, but get close to smoking. Use a half cup ladle or measuring cup to pour out a corn batter pancake on the hot surface. Use the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter a little as if you were making a fat crepe. Wait till the batter is slightly bubbling to flip. When the cake is browned on both sides, remove and enjoy. Try to only flip once.**

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Please don’t blame me for your impending addiction to this recipe.

That’s all for now, friends.

The Gentleman Caller

CORN CAKE LOUISE

**If you want to up the ante, ladle half the batter onto the hot surface, spread it slightly, add a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese, pour the other half of the batter on the cheese and spread slightly. YUM.

Stanton’s Pepper Bacon and Gulf Shrimp and Grits (say that 3 times fast!)

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Some dishes are so good, so rich and so indulgent they transcend the barriers of being thought of as “only for breakfast”, “only for lunch”, “only a side dish”… You get what I mean. This is one of those dishes.

Grits. Used to be people would look at me like I had three heads if I asked if they had grits at breakfast time. Usually Northern types in franchise restaurants while I was on tour with a Broadway show. Granted, it does sound like something you’d pave a crude driveway with, would find in a chicken’s gizzard, or put in the bottom of a hamster cage. Regardless, the wonder of sweet white hominy for breakfast seems to be slowly gaining popularity and exposure.

This concoction is not exactly a waist-trimmer. But blow it off – it’s so damn good if you take it as a casserole to a party, you’ll find yourself back on that guest list till you’re tired of RSVP-ing.

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My cousin, Allen Stanton, is running our family grocery store down in Alvin, Texas. My great-grandfather, George Elliot Stanton, turned a feed store into a successful department store in the course of several decades from 1922 till his death on December 7, 1984. He was running across a highway and got hit by a car at 86 years old. That should tell you a little something about Grandpa Stanton.

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Allen has molded the store into a superior meat market, winning awards and serving many high-end restauranteurs in the Houston area. (www.StantonMeats.com)

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Yes, reader, that is kangaroo, wild boar and other exotic meats including Texas Hill Country venison. Delish.

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I popped in on Allen and bought some award-winning pepper bacon. Pepper bacon itself is a treat beyond belief; smoky pork and malabar black pepper? So that set my wheels a-turning on how to incorporate this special ingredient into something truly decadent.

I tested the recipe for mom and Dennis, my step-dad. They cursed me for days as they annihilated the leftovers after I had flown back to New York. It’s not something you should eat every day… but it’s damn hard not to if it’s in the fridge.

So go find your fat pants, set them out and let’s get started.

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What you need:

  • 1 cup of 5 minute grits (NOT instant)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 8 slices of pepper bacon, or bacon of your choice (avoid varieties that are sweet)
  • 1 lb Gulf Shrimp, peeled and deveined (bigger is better)
  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (reserve 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp (or so) smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere’s brand)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley

Yeah, I know that is, like, everything in the whole grocery store… roll with me here.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (if you have convection option use that). Line a jelly roll pan with foil. Lay the bacon on the foil so that they don’t overlap. Place in preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

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While that bakes, prepare the grits. Bring the chicken stock to a boil, add the grits, cook for approximately 7 minutes. Yes, I know they’re 5 minute grits. Cook them for 7.

Season the shrimp with salt, cajun seasoning, onion powder, and white pepper.

When the bacon is cooked to your liking (it should be crisp but not burnt), remove from oven. Dial the oven down to 350 degrees. Pour bacon renderings into a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the shrimp without overlap. Crank up the heat on the sauté pan, right before the grease smokes add the shrimp. Don’t turn them. Allow a sear to occur (3 minutes). Turn and cook for 2 more minutes. Pull them JUUUUST as they turn pink. DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR BEAUTIFUL EXPENSIVE SHRIMP! Pull from heat.

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Use cooking spray to grease a casserole dish – this is up to you. I used an oval Corning Ware casserole. A 9×13 would do; you need something that will hold around 3 quarts of volume. Use your brain.

Crumble the bacon with your hands. Put it in a large bowl. Add cooked grits, cooked shrimp, cheddar cheese, ricotta, butter, sour cream, garlic, sriracha, worcestershire, and parsley. Stir it all up till just combined; pour in casserole dish. Sprinkle with smoked paprika to your liking (I like at least a teaspoon). Sprinkle with reserved cheese.

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Shove with love into the 350 degree oven. Check it at 25 minutes. It’s probably not bubbly yet, but check it. Check it every 5 minutes, but it will likely be ready at 35. Ride the line of having the cheese bubble knowing those shrimp don’t want to be cooked any more than necessary.

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Pull it out when you’re satisfied and let it rest for a few minutes. It’s going to be incredibly hot. Also the prevailing scent of cheese, garlic and bacon is going to make you want to stick your whole freakin face in it. Don’t do that please.

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The closer it is to room temp the less sloppy it will be. I prefer it just above room temperature – “picnic temp”.

This pairs beautifully with a sautéed asparagus with lemon. The brightness of the lemon and stemmy asparagus cut the richness of the grits beautifully and the textural component works.

In the meantime, I tested this recipe by making it a couple of times and let me tell you how much is left: none.

Adios for now.

The Gentleman Caller

STANTON’S PEPPER BACON AND GULF SHRIMP AND GRITS

**If you didn’t use pepper bacon, add 1 teaspoon of Malabar or course ground black pepper.

Stanton’s Shopping Center – Grocery Store / Meat Market / Feed Store / Lunch Counter / Hardware Store is located at 219 N. Taylor Street, Alvin TX 77511 – 281-331-4491 www.StantonMeats.com

 

The Italian Brunch Pudding, aka How to Make Your Sleepover Guest Think You Have All Your S*** Together

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

I hesitate to give you this information because it is so powerful. If you want to go from engorged to engaged, this is the way to do it. Now is your chance to turn back, because once you have this information you can’t un-learn it.

It’s the sleepover strata, the Italian Brunch Pudding.

Sleeping over with someone is a thing. No toothbrushes. Did I sleep in my contacts? You know what I mean. If you have an inkling it might happen and you do a  little pre-production, you can FULLY entrap your prey with this little trick.

Take these steps a day or two before and have it set up in your fridge. Here we go.

What you’ll need:

strata

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 challah rolls / half an old french loaf / old bread (the diner by me gives away challah rolls and I never eat them)
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 5 stalks of rapini
  • 3/4 cup cheese (I used a pecorino with a  red chili pepper coating. Go with something nutty like a good parm; gruyere would be nice as well)**see note at the bottom
  • fresh chopped flat leaf parsley (couple of tablespoons)
  • fresh chopped marjoram (to taste, a couple of tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust if your cheese is really salty)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

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Steam the rapini for 60-120 seconds depending on how thick the stalks are. Do not overcook it. During those two minutes cube your bread in 1 inch by 1 inch squares.

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Grate the cheese. Chop the rapini.

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Assemble in layers in a square baking dish. I used a disposable because, well, sometimes I am lazy and these are recyclable. Butter the pan, put a layer of bread, spread some rapini, parsley, marjoram around, add some cheese. Continue till the baking dish is full/level. This should work out pretty exactly.

Combine the eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, onion powder and nutmeg and whisk to break up the eggs. Carefully pour the liquid evenly over the bread mixture. I say carefully because if you go too fast the eggs will slop out. I assure you this did NOT happen to me.

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Here’s where the trickery begins: cover it with foil and stick it in the fridge. For as long as you want.

Now when you wake up in the morning to peewee, take it out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While your guest is showering, put it in the oven covered for 25 minutes. Take off the foil, and while you enjoy your coffee, bake it for another 25 minutes. Then BAM, present a fully cooked breakfast. Just like that, you tricky bitch.

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KelKel helped me eat it on this particular morning.

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Trust me – you are getting afternoon delight.

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If you don’t hurt yourself. Bye for now.

The Gentleman Caller

THE ITALIAN BRUNCH PUDDING, AKA HOW TO MAKE YOUR SLEEPOVER GUEST THINK YOU HAVE ALL YOUR S*** TOGETHER

Pairing: this pairs delightfully with Balsamic Pineapple Salad.

**I got my very special cheese – Red Pepper Coated Pecorino – at Calandra Cheese in the Bronx. 2314 Arthur Avenue. This store will exceed all your cheese dreams and the guys hand you samples like you’re at Costco on a Saturday. If you don’t use red pepper coated pecorino, add some chili flakes for a little heat.7909971862_7e3bd78274_z