Monthly Archives: July 2012

BBQ Chicken with Scalloped Potatoes

On my final night in Blue Eye, Mary must’ve known I had just crossed the Mason-Dixon and was hankering for some BBQ because she made my absolute favorite: Barbecued chicken with scalloped potatoes au gratin. BAM!

She started with the potatoes:

potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, bbq chicken, barbecue, chicken, recipe

She began by slicing the potatoes and onions, to which she added cream and milk.

For 3 lbs of potatoes, add 3 cups milk and 1 cup cream. Let this simmer until it gets thick. Then remove the pan from the heat and layer the potatoes into a casserole dish with a good melting cheese in between each layer. Add the milk from the pan to the dish, which should cover the potatoes. Then shred some cheddar on top and pop that baby into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until it looks like this:

potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, bbq chicken, barbecue, chicken, recipe

…I’ll wait while you wipe the saliva from your lips…

I wish I knew what Mary’s secret was for baking chicken because she manages to do it in such a way that it turns out fork tender and this is something I’ve not been able to master. She assured me it’s not that hard, and I did see one trick I’m going to try: she pokes holes in the chicken, which allowed the sauce to get into the chicken, making it cut like butter:

potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, bbq chicken, barbecue, chicken, recipe

Served in a Kentucky-Style BBQ sauce

potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, bbq chicken, barbecue, chicken, recipe

with cauliflower, carrots and broccoli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my extreme delight, there was plenty of this meal leftover for lunch the next day. It was tasty, it was tender, it was cheesy, it was perfect:

potatoes au gratin, scalloped potatoes, bbq chicken, barbecue, chicken, recipe

An insanely delicious southern dish.

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Video of Last Night’s Storm in NYC

Check out this short video I cut of last night’s storm from Astoria:

Do you like thunderstorms, yes or no?

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An Urban Garden Fairy Tale, Ch. 2

For months, the woman blissfully watched her plants grow. Eventually many of them became too big for their pots. She re-planted many of the herbs into larger pots, but the sunflowers and tomato plants had no where to go. The small building she lived in had a tiny garden plot in front of it that no one ever used. Defiant after having returned from a weekend away to find her largest plants nearly dead, she decided she had as much right to plant there as anyone else.

lea spencer, lea craft spencer, urban garden, gardening, garden, astoria, queens, nyc, fairy tale, tomatoes, sunflowersWithout guidance, she pulled a few weeds from the dirt and attempted to re-plant the tomato and sunflower. She went to fetch some water and when she returned, whom did she see? Why it was her secret mentor, the gentleman who grows tomatoes in his backyard. He came over and inquired about her plants, insisting that in order for them to grow nicely, she would need to clear out the whole plot of weeds. He then asked if she had a broom handle. Perplexed, the woman glanced over to his porch, where all of his less-stable plants were being supported with broom handles. A-ha! One second, she said.

Elated to have made this connection, the woman ran back inside and tore the Swiffer from its handle! By the time she returned, he was standing with a broom handle in one hand and twine in the other. He helped her support the sunflower and the tomato plant.

lea spencer, lea craft spencer, urban garden, gardening, garden, astoria, queens, nyc, fairy tale, tomatoes, sunflowersHe then brought her over a small tomato plant from his garden to grow next to hers. Overjoyed and taken with emotion, the woman didn’t know how to thank him.

They continued chatting and he pointed to a few small plants growing amongst a larger plant on his porch and asked her if she knew what they were. She said no, to which he replied, “Watermelons.” The woman’s eyes grew large, “You’re growing watermelons?” she inquired. “Oh, no…” he began. “They grow themselves… I just watch.” He smiled with a wisdom she knew she couldn’t yet grasp. And with that smile the dark cloud over that day passed as the sun shone down on their two tomato plants, growing side by side on small street in a quiet neighborhood called Astoria.

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Shirred Lemon Eggs

On our second morning in Blue Eye, I could smell the biscuits baking before I was able to imagine the glorious breakfast we would be enjoying. This is something I had never seen before, so I was thrilled to get to learn how to make it:

shirred eggs, breakfast, brunch, eggs, biscuits

These are called “Shirred Eggs”

shirred eggs, breakfast, brunch, eggs, biscuits

Biscuits made with a touch of cayenne.

For this recipe, you need 4 eggs, 1/2 cup cream, 1 tsp orange zest, 1/3 cup mild cheese. Make sure you butter the muffin tin. Then fill the tins with with 1 tsp cream, then brake the eggs in, adding some lemon zest and shredded cheese to each. You can use orange zest if you prefer and any meltable cheese will do.  Mary then added some “essence,” which makes all the difference :-). These went into a 325 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

Mary bakes her biscuits with a dash of cayenne, so they come out with just a hint of spice — divine! She also made some sausage patties, which I used to make little biscuit sandwiches and she flourished the plate with some fresh oranges, which really brought out the flavor in the eggs.

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Served with sausage biscuits and orange slices.

A fancy presentation of eggs that can be served with many things. POP POP.

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Photoshop POP POP

The latest from my adventures in Photoshop:
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Gothomic

Celebration

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The Fort

photograph, lea spencer, lea craft spencer, photoshop, digital art

Pride

photograph, lea spencer, lea craft spencer, photoshop, digital art

Wish You Were Here

photograph, lea spencer, lea craft spencer, photoshop, digital art

Cheers!

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Concrete Jungle

See earlier photography and photoshop adventures here.

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Frittata a la Mary

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This is Mary, Queen of Blue Eye.

I had the good fortune of spending last weekend with my family just outside Blue Eye, Missouri. I had heard my father gush for months over my Aunt Mary’s cooking, so you can imagine my delight not only to be able to eat her food, but to be able to record it. She was kind enough to let me invade her kitchen with my camera to capture a few gems for this blog. Today I’ll be sharing a brunch recipe I’m calling Frittata a la Mary. Her spin on this egg-based dish includes a bottom layer of shredded potatoes.

potatoes, frittata, eggs, breakfast, brunch, tomatoes, cheese, recipe, homemade

She began by browning some shredded potatoes.

 

After she browned the potatoes, Mary mixed 6 eggs with 1 cup of half & half and 2 tablespoons of butter and added that to the pan right on top of the potatoes. Then she added about 4 ounces of cheese, which needs to be gruyere or some kind of good melting cheese. She then added a special seasoning we call “the essence.”

 

potatoes, frittata, eggs, breakfast, brunch, tomatoes, cheese, recipe, homemade

She added the eggs, tomatoes and cheese.

potatoes, frittata, eggs, breakfast, brunch, tomatoes, cheese, recipe, homemade

Then baked it at 350 for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After laying the tomatoes across, she added a little more essence and into the oven! Adding some final flourishes, this is what was served:

potatoes, frittata, eggs, breakfast, brunch, tomatoes, cheese, recipe, homemade

Frittata a la Mary

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The 4th of July Means Burgers and Beer

Falling on a Wednesday, this 4th of July seemed to catch everyone a bit off guard. Do we celebrate the week before? The week after? The whole week? What’s the American thing to do? Duh… Work.  So since everyone in my home had to work on the 3rd and the 5th, we decided to stay close to home this year, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating the day the American way: with lots of food!

We began by indulging ourselves in our absolute, hands-down, bar-none favorite lunchtime meal: fruit and cheese. Now it may not seem American, but when I put it to you like this:

cheese board, fruit and cheese plate, brie cheese, bleu cheese, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, pecans, olives, cornichons, gherkin

Brie and bleu cheeses, assorted berries, olives, pickles and pecans. Nums.

I think you’ll be forced to agree. The colors are even overwhelmingly red, white and blue. The brie, the bleu, the berries, the pickles… so many flavors to wash down with an ice cold American brew. Snobbishly unwilling to drink any form of mass-produced light lager, we went with two ales from the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, based right here in Queens. I enjoyed a pale ale, as per my modus operandi, while my mate enjoyed a belgium-style brew as per his. Yes, it’s a little douchy. Yes, we’ve embraced it. Yes, it complimented the cheese and fruit perfectly. And we knew it would pair well with the little challenge we’d arranged for ourselves at dinnertime: Re-create the Ring of Fire Burger at Queens Comfort, with this we decided to make buttermilk battered baked onion rings (try saying that 3 times fast).

buttermilk battered onion rings, baked onion rings, 4th of july recipes

1 egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup flour, cayenne, salt and pepper

buttermilk battered onion rings, baked onion rings, 4th of july recipes

Dip in the batter, dredge in the breadcrumbs, then onto a plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking the onion rings rather than frying them had very little to do with calories, as should be made obvious by the fact that they are battered in buttermilk (Thank you, Martha Stewart). It was mainly because we don’t possess a deep fryer and we have only one skillet suitable for pan frying many things as once. So I battered and dredged the vidalia onion rings and put them on an oiled cooking sheet before popping them into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes (flipping them halfway through).

fried jalapeños, ring of fire burger, queens comfort, 4th of july recipes

Jalapeños 2.0: Battered and Fried

fried jalapeño burger, ring of fire burger, queens comfort, bleu cheese, avocado, buttermilk battered onion rings, baked onion rings

Our take on the Ring of Fire burger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ll remember, the Ring of Fire Burger at Queens Comfort has fried jalapeños and sriracha and was incredibly well-recieved by my person. It was his idea to recreate the burger, adding avocado obviously (since it would appear we don’t really know how to eat meals that don’t include this fruit). I added bleu cheese to mine for funsies and it was ta-styyy. A bit wider and flatter than the one at Queens Comfort, but all-in-all, I’d say we made our forefathers proud. Happy Birthday, America!

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