Monday, January 23, 2012

AFC Championship Yuppies

As I was watching the Patriots game this weekend I looked around and noticed a few things.  All 9 of us were drinking bottled Micro-brews, eating Farm Raised Fish, wearing clothing from The GAP, giving High Fives, and playing with our 3 dogs whose combined weight is less than 50 lbs.

We are Yuppies.   

I don’t know when this happened.  I think I am going to have to blame Gisele again.  Without her, Brady never would have been the spokes-model for Uggs.  And with a role model like that, how could we NOT be Yuppies?  The only thing I have going for me is the fact that we don’t own a hybrid.  … yet. 

Despite his shoddy performance last night, in 2 weeks Brady will join John Elway as the only other QB to take his team to the Superbowl 5 times.  He ended up throwing 22 for 36 with 2 interceptions and no touchdowns.  Not the performance I was hoping for, but a win is a win and his 239 yards moved him past Elway into 4th place on the all time post season passing list. Gronk injured his ankle in the third quarter, but returned to the game and was seen wearing a walking cast during the celebration.  The Patriots say he will be ready for the Superbowl, but if I were Bernard Pollard I would still watch out.  Gronk looked PISSED as he hobbled off the field.  Yeah... That look is for you, Pollard!

As people were arriving we set out a plate of Cheese and Crackers and some Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  Then we moved on to the Baltimore based food.  For those of you who don’t know, I can’t eat Shellfish.  So instead of having Maryland Crab Cakes, I made Baltimore Tilapia Cakes with Dill Sauce, Chesapeake Bay Chicken Salad Cucumber Cups and Stuffed “Shells.”  Okay, making “Shells” was stretching it a bit, but it’s my party and I’ll be corny if I want too.  My friend Stephanie McDonald brought a platter of amazing Brown Bottom Cupcakes that she made from scratch for dessert.  

Mini Tilapia Cakes
You can find the original recipe I used as a base here:

¾ - 1 Lb Tilapia
3 Scallions, diced
¼ Cup Bell Pepper, diced
¼ Cup Celery, diced
2 Eggs, beaten
1 Cup Cheese and Garlic Croutons, processed
1 ½ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne Powder
1 teaspoon dried Basil
Pinch Crushed Rosemary
½ teaspoon Old Bay
½ Cup Mayonnaise
½ Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Dill Weed
1 teaspoon Beau Monde
½ teaspoon Onion Powder

1. Combine Sour Cream, Mayonnaise, Dill, Beau Monde and Onion Powder.  Mix well and chill for 1 hour.
2. Combine the Croutons, Rosemary, Cayenne, Basil, and Old Bay in a food processor and grind until they become breadcrumbs.  Set aside.
3. Combine Fish, Salt and Pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until fish is well processed.  Remove and set in a large bowl.  
4. Add Crouton mixture and vegetables to fish mixture.  Stir together.  Add Beaten Eggs and stir to combine.
5. Form patties 1 ½ inches in diameter.  Cook at 400 for 7 minutes per side.  Serve with chilled dill sauce.

Chesapeake Bay Cucumber Cups

1 English Cucumber
1 Cooked Chicken Breast
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon Celery Seed
⅛ teaspoon Pepper
⅛ teaspoon Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoon Lemon Juice
½ teaspoon Dijon
½ teaspoon Old Bay

1. Combine Chicken, Mayonnaise, Celery Seed, Salt, Lemon Juice, Dijon and Old Bay.  Mix well and chill.
2. Peel the Cucumber and cut into 1” slices.  Scoop out the centers almost all the way.  Fill with Chicken Mixture and serve.

Stuffed Shells

1 Lb Ground Sweet Italian Sausage
1 Box (16 oz) Jumbo Pasta Shells
2 Cups Cottage Cheese
2 Cups Ricotta
12 oz Shredded Mozzarella
½ Cup Grated Parmesan
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ teaspoon fresh Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
2-3 Tablespoons fresh Basil
2 - 3 Cups Red Sauce
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan

1. Cook Shells until 2 minutes before approximate time on box.  Plunge in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Let dry.
2. In a large skillet, saute Sausage until done, drain and set aside.
3. In a Food Processor, combine Cottage Cheese, Ricotta, ¾ of Mozzarella, ½ Cup Parmesan, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Parsley and Basil.  Process until just blended, but not liquefied. Move to a large bowl and stir in egg.  Add Sausage. Place mixture in a baggie with a corner cut out.
4. Spread a thin layer of sauce in a 9x11 pan.  Place shells opening side up and fill with cheese mixture.  Drizzle with sauce then sprinkle with leftover Mozzarella and Parmesan.  Bake 20 minutes with a foil cover and 20 minutes without.

The Next Sporks Report will be in 2 weeks after the Superbowl.  It will be a combined NE/NY spread so please let me know if there are any requests!

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Week 16 and 17: Buffalo Wings, Beef on Weck and Mini Cheesecakes

There was no post last week due to the Holiday.  Dan and I had family Holiday celebrations in Burlington Vermont, Worcester Massachusetts and Nashua New Hampshire over the course of a 2 day period.  I could have taken the time to make food for Football Sunday, but ask yourself, are the Dolphins really worth it? 


The Patriots won despite my lack of food and their lack of first half motivation.  Although, I am not sure that topping Miami by 3 points counts as “winning” in my book. It’s more like, “not losing.”  The Pats went down 17-0 in the first half but then scored on their next 5 possessions to win 24-27 and clinch the Playoff Bye.  Brady went 27 for 46 and consequently had to run in two separate 1 yard TD’s since he couldn’t seem to throw the ball. 

Before our Holiday driving schedule was set in stone the plan had been to make Cuban Sandwiches for the game.  I did not get around to it, but for those of you who crave multiple forms of pork at once, here is a link to one of my fave Cuban Recipes.

The Patriots started their game against the Bills in the same awful manner that they had started the Miami game.  The Pats went  down 21-0 with 48 seconds to go in the first quarter.  Luckily for Patriots Nation - I was on my game this week.  BJGE scored the first Pats TD in the second quarter at exactly the same moment that I started bringing out platters of food.  Coincidence?  I think not.  

Brady went 23 for 35 and spread the ball around with BJGE, Hernandez and Gronkowski all earning TD’s.  The Patriots ended up winning 21 to 49 and clinching the #1 Seed for the fourth time.  One of the best throws of the entire game belongs to Hoyer for his game ending 22 yard pass to Gronkowski which earned Gronk the Single Season TE Receiving Record.  

I hope you will all take the time to write to David Daniels over at regarding his whiny article calling Belichick “classless” for allowing his players the chance to break records.  Maybe Daniels went to one of those schools where everyone gets a trophy just for participating.  Here a link to help you out:

We started with platters of Baked Buffalo Wings, Crackers, Cheese, Veggies and a homemade Dill Dip.  

Baked Buffalo Wings

¾ Cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon Cayenne
½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
20 Chicken Wings
½ Cup melted Butter
½ Cup Hot Pepper Sauce (such as Frank's RedHot®)

1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with cooking spray. Mix the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt in a large ziploc bag and mix. Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coated. Place the wings onto the prepared baking sheet, and place into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Whisk together the melted butter and hot sauce in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the butter mixture, and place back on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly

Next we had the famous Buffalo Sandwich, Beef on Weck.  I gotta say, it’s not my favorite.  I am not sure why they are even famous for it.  It’s just a Roast Beef sandwich with Horseradish and Caraway Seeds.  

Beef on Weck

¼ Cup Coarse Salt
¼ Cup whole Caraway Seeds
¾ teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoon Warm Water
¼ Cup Boiling Water
12 Kaiser Rolls
5 Lbs. Rump Roast
2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons fresh cracked Black Pepper
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 Piece of Celery, finely chopped
2 Cups Beef Stock
1 Cup extra hot Horseradish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the salt and caraway seeds in a small bowl. Dissolve cornstarch in warm water. Put cornstarch mixture a small saucepan, then stir in the boiling water. Return the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool. Place rolls in a baking sheet. Brush the top of each roll with cornstarch mixture, and then sprinkle rolls with salt and caraway seeds. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until the tops of the rolls are dry. Makes 12 buns.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub meat with garlic, salt and black pepper. Place chopped vegetables in a roasting pan. Place meat on rack in pan. Roast until internal temperature reaches 122 degrees, about 1 hour. Set meat aside. Deglaze pan with beef stock, remove grease and fat that floats to the top, and then simmer stock on stove top for 10 minutes. Strain out vegetables and reserve au jus. Slice beef thin, and then dip into it the au jus, and pile high on kummelweck buns. Slather with horseradish.

We finished the meal with Mini NY Cheesecakes, YUM!

Mini Cheesecakes

½ Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 Tablespoon White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Butter, melted
1 Pkg Cream Cheese, softened (8 ounces)
1 Tablespoon Sour Cream
⅓ Cup White Sugar
1 teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest
1 ½ teaspoons Lemon Juice
¼ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Egg

1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease 6 muffin cups.  
2. Mix together Graham Crackers, 1 Tablespoon Sugar and Butter.  Press into the bottom of the muffin cups. Bake 10 minutes.
3. Cream together Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Sugar, Lemon Juice, Zest and Vanilla.  Add Egg.
4. Pour evenly into cups and bake 25 minutes.
5. Cool and chill until ready to serve.

Happy Cooking!