The year of fearless cooking

Happy New Year all!

?

Simmering pot of Fearless Seafood Chowder

It’s a few weeks into the New Year and I am sure you’ve made a few resolutions.

Let’s see, the list probably includes losing weight, getting fit, making wiser food choices and saving money.

Those are great resolutions and worthy of being on everyone’s list.

Take the challenge

I’d like to challenge you to add another one to your list – cook fearlessly.

Get in the kitchen. Make your own food. Try a new recipe.  Re-image an old recipe. Incorporate a new ingredient. Try a food hack. Bust out of your culinary comfort zone.

Here’s a bit of a food hack that can jump start your fearless foray. Its a pretty bold move, but you can do it!

I love those spicy peel and eat, New Orleans style shrimp bowls. You probably have a favorite restaurant where you like to enjoy the tasty crustaceans.

picmonkey-collage-shrimp-mussels

Left: Killer Shrimp Steamed Mussels. Right: Killer Shrimp Peel and Eat Shrimp Bowl

I live in Los Angeles and one of my favorite restaurants to visit is Killer Shrimp in Marina Del Rey. The shrimp and steamed mussel bowls are amazing. They are served with a basket of sour dough bread for dipping and sopping up all that tasty, luxurious, spicy broth.

Recharge that broth

The flavor infused broth  that remains when the meal is done – it’s good stuff

Both are absolutely delicious. When I’ve eaten all the shrimp and mussels out of the bowls, what remains is a lovely broth that most people just leave to be discarded. But not me. I have my server combine the broth into one take home container which I stash in the freezer. Why? Because this favor infused broth is a great base for seafood chowder. What if you don’t have the tasty broth? No worries, you can substitute a combination of El Pato Jalapeno Salsa  and Mexican beer to your taste.

I’ve made this chowder often and my family and friends love it. This recipe has a delectable flavor and an impressive presentation. It looks like you worked in the kitchen all day.

You can add any seafood you like. For this version, I rendered the fat from bacon and used the fat in making the roux. I also the crumbled bacon and added it to the stock pot along with the seafood.  I used whole kernel corn. If you like, you can experiment with using creamed corn,  sweet peas, celery or even chayote squash.  This is a  great recipe to experiment with because it’s very forgiving and lends itself to improvisation.  After all,  it’s just a gloried soup!

So don’t be squeamish, be fearless.  Give it a try and dazzle the loved ones in your life, or dazzle yourself.

I am gently nudging you to cook fearlessly and  eat well this year my friends. And you are very welcomed.

Happy New Year and may you have sweet mornings, tasty afternoons and delicious evenings. Now – get cooking!

Fearless seafood chowder

fear-seafood-chowder-bowl

Fearless Seafood Chowder

Ingredients
¼ cup flour
¼ cup butter (½ stick butter)
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 cloves, chopped
1 cup or more Killer Shrimp stock (Shrimp Bowl or Mussel Bowl stock)
(or substitute 4 ounces of El Pato Jalapeno Salsa with 1 cup of water or beer)
1 32 ounce carton seafood cooking stock
1  14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
5 medium red potatoes, diced
1 15.25 ounce can whole kernel corn
3 pounds seafood (shrimp, cod, salmon)

Method

Stock ingredients for Fearless Seafood Chowder – including broth container from Killer Shrimp

Add butter to a pan set on medium heat. Add flour. When butter is melted, stir mixture until it is medium in color, about 3 minutes. Add chopped shallots and garlic to pan. Stir another 2 minutes. Remove pan, and empty mixture into a large Dutch oven or 5 quart stock pot. Option:Or you can do this step in large Dutch oven or 5 quart stock pan if you like.

Add Killer Shrimp reserved broth (defrosted) , seafood cooking stock, diced fired roasted tomatoes and diced red potatoes to pot with browned flour, butter, shallots and onion roux mixture. Stir well.

picmonkey-collage-stock-steps

Left top: Add garlic and shallots to roux. Right top: Add Killer Shrimp broth and seafood cooking stock. Left bottom: Add diced, fire roasted tomatoes. Bottom right: Add diced, red potatoes.

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.

After 30 minutes, add seafood and whole kernel corn.

picmonkey-collage-seafood-corn-steps

Left: Add whole kernel sweet corn. Center: Add seafood (shrimp, Alaskan cod, salmon – crab legs are optional).

Add ½ to 1 cup of additional stock if needed. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until seafood is done. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

 

 

Los Angeles Food Blogger Mixes It Up on Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show December 11, 2016

That blogger is moi!

Now that the Food Network has made the official announcement about my appearance on an upcoming episode of Clash of the Grandmas – yes I said Grandmas – now I can officially announce it to you.  See the information below about my debut on the Food Network show which includes details from their official media announcement. I hope you get a chance to watch me in action. Oh – make sure to use the hashtag #ClashofTheGrandmas if you want to chime in on social media. Now that would be super cool!

scroll

Veronica Hendrix,  Los Angeles based journalist, food blogger of  the widely read food blog  Collard Greens and  Caviar, cooking coach and cookbook author, will make her debut on the Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show, Sunday, December 11, 2016  at 10:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time).

clash-of-the-grandmas-contestants-12-11

Left to right: Joan Channon (Hawi, Hawaii), Dale Roland (Groveland, Florida), Neera Sharma (Columbus, Ohio) and Veronica Hendrix (Los Angeles, California)

Hendrix, a native Angeleno and grandmother of a 3 year-old grandson, competes on the hour long show against three other grandmas from Hawaii, Florida, and Ohio. This “on fleek” episode challenged contestants to make dishes that were on point with the latest food trends. This was a perfect episode for Hendrix whose personal style, culinary perspective, and youthful outlook shatter all expectations of the “traditional grandma.”

The panel of show judges on this episode are former NFL player and Food Network star Eddie Jackson; Lifestyle expert and POPSUGAR.com Reporter/Producer Brandi Milloy; and Food Network Star, Celebrity Chef and Television personality Jamika Pessoa. The show was taped in Los Angeles.

Up for grabs in the kitchen battle is $10,000 and Hendrix and her staunch competitors battle mixing bowl to stove top in intense elimination rounds that tested their cooking chops, creativity and nerves.

croquettes-two-shot-2

So Cali Chicken Croquettes  I  made in the first round. These moist and crispy, deep fried bites were called “the next big thing” in food trends by one judge [Photo credit: Veronica Hendrix home kitchen]

With 45 minutes or less in each elimination round, here’s the challenge rundown:

  • Round One – four contestants make an after-school snack featuring each of their grandkids’ favorite ingredients.
  • Round Two – three contestants make spicy fried chicken and grits using quick grits and a baking mix.
  • Round Three – the final two contestants battle for $10,000 and make a savory dish that looks like a dessert.

“It was an incredible experience that tested my skills and creativity. The inspiration of my mom, and the spirit of the many women and men in my family whose food nurtured me and generations was with me in that kitchen,” said Hendrix. “My competitors were fierce, and I learned so much about myself with each challenge.  I really am a fearless cook!”

So how did Hendrix handle the challenges?  Did she win the coveted prize? She can’t say, but make sure to watch Los Angeles’ favorite food blogger in action on the Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas Show on Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 10:00 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) and find out.

Social media

Follow Veronica on Instagram @collardgreenscaviar, Twitter @collardscaviar @vhend, and on Facebook at Collard Greens and Caviar.

About Veronica Hendrix

Veronica Hendrix is a journalist, a food blogger, columnist, cookbook author, cooking coach and healthy cooking advocate. Her column Veronica’s View covered a myriad of social and political issues and appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and other online outlets for 12 years.

Today her widely read blog Collard Greens and Caviar (collardgreensandcaviar.com) features food stories and recipes of personalities behind the food, and has featured chefs, radio personalities, home cooks and her own personal foray into the kitchen. The stories are smartly written and entertaining. Veronica co-wrote the popular Taste of Soul Cookbook for Bakewell Media, a recipe book that celebrates the largest annual food festival west of the Mississippi.

She is the author of a cookbook that highlights the use of her Red Velvet Gourmet Spice Rub and Seasoning mix she created after a doctor’s diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Veronica also produced a half hour talk show called “LA Woman,” which aired on Los Angeles City View Channel 35. She is a Los Angeles Emmy nominated producer, has been a reporter for USA Today and KLCS News in Los Angeles. She is a 15-year member of the National Association of Black Journalists-LA and the Association of Food Journalists. Veronica is a native of Southern California, has two adult sons and a 3- year-old grandson.

It’s brine time with Chef Daria

The holidays are upon us. And undoubtedly you will be enjoying some of your favorite foods.

daria-favorites-picmonkey-collage

A few of Chef Daria’s favorite Thanksgiving entrees. Left top: Herb brined turkey. Left bottom: cornbread dressing. Right top: candied yams. Right bottom: macaroni and cheese.

Everyone gets a  little nervous when making the holiday turkey.  While your family and guests are sitting around the dinner table admiring the glistening bird, their secret prayer is always this: please don’t let this turkey be tasteless and dry.

It’s a tall order to be sure.

While the star of your holiday dinner may be the turkey, it should not be a lame duck.

Well there’s good news. The hue and cry of the masses – well your family – has been heard.

daria-pickmonkey-collage

Left: simple brine and herb butter ingredients. Right: brined turkey

Los Angeles based Chef Daria Le Sassier of Le Sassier Catering  is back with a recipe for making your bird moist, tender and flavorful by brining. Brining? Yes and it is easier than you think. This ancient method not only hydrates the turkey, but it infuses the most subtle flavor. See Chef Daria’s quick video on how to brine a turkey and her brine recipe below. You can do it – yes you can!

Brine Ingredients
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 fresh sage leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
3 cloves garlic
2 quarts of water
2 quarts cold water
2 large turkey size oven roasting bags
14 to 16 pound turkey

Method
In a large kettle, combine the salt, brown sugar, sage, thyme, rosemary, peeled garlic cloves and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Add the cold water to cool the bring liquid to room temperature.

Place the turkey-size oven roasting bag inside a second roasting bag. Add the turkey. Carefully pour the cooled brine into the bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Seal the bags. Turn and rotate the turkey to coat. Place turkey in a roasting pan and place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Make sure you turn the bag several times while it marinades.

After 12-12 hours, drain the brining liquid, remove turkey from the bag and rinse it. Pat it dry.

With your fingers, carefully loosen the skin from the turkey breast. Rub half of the herb butter under the skin. Then rub the remaining herb butter over the turkey skin.

With the breast side up, place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 3.25 hours to 3.45 hours or until the food thermometer reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to baste the turkey throughout cooking process with pan drippings.

When done, remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest 20 minutes before serving.

Herb Butter Ingredients
2 cups butter, soften
½ cup olive cup oil
1 cup packed fresh parsley sprigs, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped

Method
In a small bowl, combine softened butter, olive oil and chopped herbs. Use a fork to mix together until well combined. Cover and put in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes, until firm but not hard.

Ghana, granola and a bridge that will never be broken

It was a Facebook inbox message from a friend I responded to with haste.

dawn-conversation-large

The request came from my friend and mentor Dawn Sutherland. She now lives in Ghana. I was honored to create a recipe that she could actually use in that many of the recipes on my blog aren’t easily adapted because some of the ingredients aren’t available in Ghana. More about the recipe later.

Good bye America

dawn-sutherland-headshot

Dawn Sutherland

When Dawn Sutherland, Vice President and Controller for the United States Solutions Group’s Western Sales Operation for Xerox, retired after a distinguished 32 year career she went back to a place that captured her heart and imagination when she was a college student. It was a place she knew she could use her skills, talents and connections to feed the souls of those with the greatest need. That place was Ghana.

“I loved the people of Ghana and felt like I had found my missing piece,” said Dawn during our Skype chat as she reminisced about her first visit to Ghana to help build a school as a student volunteer with Operations Crossroads Africa. “I was troubled at how few African Americans or Blacks from the Diaspora were in my group. It was then that I decided one day I would move to Ghana and help villages with basic needs like building water wells and educating children.”

That day came in May 2014. She decided after all the years of visiting Ghana, it was time to make the move. Dawn said good bye to her long time partner, family, friends, business associates, and her social and philanthropic affiliations she had cultivated over her lifetime.  She packed up the contents of her scenic Baldwin Hills home in Los Angeles and shipped them in a container to a home she had purchased in Kumasi, Ghana in 2007.

dawn-picmonkey-collage-2

Exterior and back yard views of Dawn’s Ghanaian home

“I truly enjoyed a great life working for Xerox and I had a great network of friends in Los Angeles. But I would often wake up in the mornings and ask myself, how many more galas and fundraisers can I attend?” said Dawn.  “I was being pulled emotionally to move to Africa to do whatever I could to help,” continued Dawn adding that her connection to Ghana was deepened after a DNA test revealed her Ghanaian ancestry.

Life in Ghana

dawn-picmonkey-collage-getting-awards

Left: Dawn greeting the King of Ashanti Kingdom Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Center top: Dawn receives community service award. Center bottom: Dawn receives award from from Chief of Feyiase. Right top: Dawn, a judge in the “Go Study Abroad Program,” poses with organization representatives. Right bottom: Dawn with CEO of  “Go Study Abroad Program.”

Life in Ghana has been an adjustment for Dawn from the food to politics, and everything in between. Dawn’s astute executive skills mastered in corporate American served her well in navigating the patriarchal culture in her new community where the role of women is more traditional.  It wasn’t long before she was working with Chefs and government officials and community leaders on various community projects.

Shortly after she arrived, she did something residents were unable to do. She arranged to have a hilly, dirt road in her community leveled and paved with asphalt. Now cars can use it. Dawn says not a day goes by without her neighbors thanking her for fixing a road that had basically been unusable and had become a health hazard.

Getting sacked

sacked-child-and-kids-looking-for-fees

Left: young girl Dawn met on the road who was sacked. Right: neighborhood children outside of Dawn’s home in need of school fees.

“I got sacked today madam.”

It was an unfamiliar phase that Dawn learned to understand quickly. During her morning walks she would often see children dressed in their school uniforms sitting on the side of the road. When she asked them why weren’t they in school, they said they got “sacked” which means they were turned away from school because they didn’t have their school fee of 2 Cedes (Ghanaian currency) which is equivalent to 50 cents. While public school is free, fees are required to cover cost such as security, books and canteen/food.

“Many of these children get up early to help their mothers prepare meals to sell before school. And sometimes people work all day just to make money to send their kids to school.” said Dawn. “To see them sent home is heart breaking. Often times if I see a child during my walk who was sacked, I just give them the Cedes and send them back to school. You see a little money here can do so much here.”

The Sunday Morning Girls

smg-picmonkey-collage

Left top: Dawn and Sunday Morning Girls; Right top: Dawn with all the Sunday Morning Girls. Left bottom: Sunday Morning Girls relaxing at Dawn’s home. Right top: Sunday Morning Girls huddle and read a birthday card sent  to one of the girls by a USA supporters. Right bottom: Dawn takes girls out to eat for the very first time.

Dawn’s early walks have given her deeper insights into the many needs in Ghana, more specifically the needs in her community.  The widespread lack of running water, electricity, indoor plumbing, and access to education and hunger were sobering realities.  But a chance encounter with a group of girls one morning gave her insight into something else – the hunger for mentorship.

“When I met the girls they said they were hungry. The eggs and bread I bought them satisfied their immediate hunger. But it was clear they needed something more. They started looking for me to talk to when they didn’t have school and today we have developed a strong bond,” said Dawn with a clear tone of joy in her voice. “Now every Sunday after church they visit me and I encourage them, reward them for doing well in school, teach them etiquette, hygiene, take them on outings, and we have meaningful discussions on how to rise out of poverty.”

The work that warms her heart and changes lives

her-work-picmonkey-collage

Left: Children at Dawn’s Annual Holiday Party; Center top: Triplets helped by goodfundme efforts. Center bottom: clinic in progress at Feyaise. Right top and bottom: high school students and elementary school students helped by USA supporters.

The needs she sees each day are overwhelming at times. But she views each need and each challenge with a sense of optimism and hope because in the short time she has been there, she has seen the impact her efforts have had on so many lives.

“Many of my friends have visited me since I’ve been here. And everyone who visits engages in helping, teaching and sharing their expertise.  And when I see a need, I send out a note and ask people to help donate and they do what they can,” said Dawn.

Here’s a snapshot of the impact she’s had so far with the help of many of her friends and supporters:

Saving the Triplets – gofundme effort raised $1000 to help abandoned mother of triplets start a small business to take care of her children.

Scholarship Program – funding sponsors 36 students from K-12 so they can attend school daily.

The Desk Project – funding raised built 50 desks for senior and primary school students.

Water Well Project – funding is being raised to dig a well to provide free water that will serve an entire community and can be used as a source of income.

Health Clinic Project – ongoing funds are being raised to build and staff a clinic in the village of  Feyiase in honor of Dawn’s mother; project is currently underway and a portion of the clinic will open late this year.

Christmas in Ghana Annual Holiday Party – annual event held at Dawn’s home; funding provides food, schools supplies and gifts to over 300 children each year.

Barrel Project – friends across the USA provide donated school supplies, gently warn shoes and clothing which are shipped in barrels from the states then distributed to local children and schools in Ghana.

Business delegation visit – collaboration with African Focus Inc. (AFI) and Los Angeles KJLH Radio presented U.S. delegates with potential business opportunities and retirement options in Ghana.

Her foundation

bridge-to-africa

Dawn realized that the work and projects she has been involved with will need continued support.  She established the Bridge to African Connection foundation, a 501c3 organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for women and children and helping them become self-sufficient.  The donations she has received have greatly helped to support ongoing as well as new projects.  All donations are tax deductible.

 What she misses

daw-angela-and-i

Dawn with Angela Hoffman (right) and Veronica Hendrix (left) at Post and Beam Restaurant in Los Angeles, a few days before she left for Ghana.

 

Dawn says her work in Ghana is rewarding and fulfilling. Her days are full and there is so much that needs to be done.  But when she does have down time, there a few things she misses about her life in Los Angeles like dining out at restaurants with her girl friends.

Other things she misses are Mexican food, Cesar salads, and baked goods. In Ghana fresh fruits are enjoyed as desserts and not baked, sugary goods. The absence of cakes, pies and cookies particularly during the holidays have been a huge adjustment.

For the most part, Dawn says Ghanaian cuisine is very simple yet well seasoned with an array of spices.  Her diet consists of rice dishes, soups and sauces, fish like wild caught Tilapia, avocados, okra, tomatoes, plantains, coconuts. Fresh fruits like, watermelon, lemons, oranges and mangoes are plentiful too.

dawn-her-food-and-cook-picmonkey-collage

Left: Dawn’s cook Jennifer prepares all meals. Right: Kellie Willie Kontumri (Spinach family), black-eyed peas and fried plantain.

“These are minor frustrations,” said Dawn about missing some of the foods she loves. “The pluses outweigh the minuses. Just knowing I am making a change in peoples’ lives keeps me going. I have no regrets. I thank God that I am able to live my purpose right now.”

The recipe

When Dawn asked me to create a recipe using nuts and oats, I got busy. I wanted it to be easy and quick and a recipe that could give her a energy for the array of projects on her plate.Here’s the Easy Granola recipe I created for Dawn. And the best part is, it doesn’t require any baking.

This is the note I attached to the recipe when I emailed it to Dawn:

“This is a cool recipe because you can use any combination of nuts and dried fruit that you have. Don’t be shy, the recipe is very forgiving and simple to make. Hope you enjoy it beautiful.”

I sincerely hope you enjoy it too.

This holiday season I sincerely hope you will consider helping Dawn continue her work by donating to Bridge to African Connection foundation.

Easy No Bake Granola

dawn-granola-picmonkey-collage

Top: Easy No Bake Granola Bars plated. Bottom left: Close up view of bars. Right: Easy No Bake Granola cut in squares.

 Ingredients
2 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teas nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
¼ cup dried raisins, coarsely chopped
¼ cup mini chocolate chips optional or just use more ¼ cup more nuts

Method
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine the oats and roughly chopped almonds and spread on to a lightly sprayed baking sheet,  then bake 7-10 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. While the oats are toasting, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves, making sure to stir occasionally. Pour the butter mixture over the toasted oats and almonds and add the cranberries and raisins. Mix well. Let cool for 15 minutes, then stir in mini chocolate chips if you are using them.

4. Transfer the oat mixture to a 9-inch square pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Using a rubber spatula or sheet of parchment paper placed on top, firmly press the mixture into the pan until the mixture is in a uniform layer. (If you want to make the bars a  bit more chocolatey, scatter a few extra tablespoons of mini chocolate chips over the top of granola bars and use the same rubber spatula or parchment paper to gently press them into the granola so they stick.)

5. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pan to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.

6. After the granola has cooled completely,  cut it into 12 bars or 24 squares.