Dry Chili Rubbed Smoked Wings

Dry Chili Rubbed Smoked Wings

It’s that season where I just slide open the patio door and turn up the grill. Even though the weather is trying to find its season. I really love smoked flavor, and have experimented with various ways throughout the years to replicate it, without a proper smoker. The other day at Home Depot, I just gave in and made Certain Someone purchase a Weber Smoker Box and bag of pecan wood. It will have to do until I convince him to get me the Big Green Egg, which I’m coveting after using at a clients home. I’m patient. The smoker box really is effective and proves you can get great flavor with a gas grill. It’s just about technique.

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Slow Roasted Red Cabbage and Apples with Balsamic Glaze

Being a November baby, my inner Scorpion awakens when presented with Falls bounty.Red Cabbage and apples are abundant. The ritual of prepping, turning on the oven , and awaiting the aromas wafting through the house just centers me. I’ve been working on a very Euro centric project these days that has me testing and creating all sorts of recipes, much to Certain Someones delight. It’s no secret Germans love their meat, and I strive to balance that with loads of veggies. One of his favorite is red cabbage. Rather than a traditional simmered cabbage, I wanted to preserve the beauty and take the flavor the up a notch. Roasted Red Cabbage with apples and balsamic glaze is not only beautiful to behold, but tickles the taste buds with the sweet and sour taste.Its so easy and perfect for the season. By the time you come home, undress, prep ,and pop it in  the oven, you have an hour to kill while going through the mail, emails, having a cocktail, what have you and voila… a perfect aromatic side dish that will turn your boring leftovers into something vibrant. I paired this with  slices of roasted stuffed pork butt I cooked over the weekend. It doesn’t get better than this.

Guten Appetit

Slow Roasted Red Cabbage and Apples with Balsamic Glaze
Recipe type: side dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Roasted red cabbage and apples.
  • 1 head red cabbage cut into wedges
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2-3 apples peeled and cored
  • ½ cup balsamic glaze
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Peel outer leaves of red cabbage.
  3. Halve cabbage, remove inner core, and cut each half into four wedges.
  4. Place in large bowl.
  5. Slice red onion into rounds. Place in bowl with cabbage.
  6. Slice apples into wedges.Add to cabbage and onions.
  7. Add the balsamic glaze , sugar, olive not break up wedges so much.
  8. Place in a cast iron or roasting pan and bake for 50 - 1 hour.

Thanks for all the great entries for the Verizon Jet Pack Giveaway. There can only be one winner . The lucky person is  Merlyn. I will contact you shortly on how to obtain your prize.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.




Leberknödel (Liver Dumplings) with Chicken and Forest Mushroom Soup

In Chicago right now, you can feel the crispness in the air as fall arrives. It teases with some sharp rays of sun, but it’s undeniable Autumn is here.With the turn of season, energy may lag, and colds are common. Soups are craved more to cure what ails us. One of favorite soups in the world is a Leberknödel (liver dumpling )soup. I first had Leberknödel soup in Vienna, Austria and always order it at any German type of restaurant we go to. I love the comfort of a rich dumpling swimming in a crystal clear  flavorful soup. There really is nothing more perfect. While many people don’t like liver, I have never met anyone who doesn’t love Leberknödel , when given a try. To make the flavor milder, soak the liver in milk before prep, and it may be more agreeable to you. Regardless liver ( chicken , pork, or beef) is chock full or nutrition and iron, not to mention inexpensive. Because the liver is ground, is the reason I think many people love this soup as opposed to a big chunk of liver . Texture, as well as presentation is paramount in food.

Dumplings can be tricky, so patience is required. There are many techniques for them and the German people ,especially the Bavarians, have quite a repertoire of them. Traditionally Leberknödelsuppe is served in a clear beef consomme. Or the dumpling can be served on the side with sauerkraut. Certain Someone likes to take leftover potato dumplings, slice  and fry them, which would be amazing with these Leberknödel  as well. I researched several variations for  Leberknödel , and added my own twist. The mixture is very loose, and rather than fortify them with more bread crumbs , I used the more durable semolina to add texture along with the egg, ground liver,fried onions,  and soaked bread rolls. I keep a bag of chicken carcass and odd and ends in the freezer which I decided to use for my soup base along with root vegetables. A rich broth was formed. I added my favorite dried Polish Mushrooms to the soup with the  soaking water. All to simmer some more, strain, degrease, and then clarify with a raft of egg whites and shells ( another method is to use the egg whites shells, lean ground meat , mirepoix, and tomatoes) to remove any impurities and render a beautiful  crystal clear broth. The color is deepened because of the woodsy forest mushrooms.

Leberknödel (Liver Dumplings) with Chicken and Forest Mushroom Soup
Recipe type: soup
Liver dumpling soup
  • Assorted chicken pieces of your choice ( or leftover carcass, and other parts of chicken )
  • 1 red onion
  • a few stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • Approx 12 cups of water
  • 3-4 egg whites and shell
  • salt and pepper
  • Dumplings
  • 1 2oz pack of dried Polish Forest mushrooms
  • 4-5 stale kaiser rolls or other type of old bread
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 red onion minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • grate of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 piece of raw liver (3/4 to ½ lb)( and milk for soaking optional)
  • 1 cup or more of semolina as needed depending on moisture of dumpling mixture.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the soup /consomme...
  2. Roast the chicken and root vegetables at 375 F until golden.Use a pan that can transfer to the range for additional cooking.
  3. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water and let sit covered while chicken is roasting.
  4. Add water , salt and pepper,mushrooms and soaking liquid,and continue to simmer for approximate 2 hours. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Strain off solids and reserve to cool. You may pour in the refrigerator to allow the grease to congeal and later skim off.
  6. Add the strained broth to a stock pan.
  7. Mix in egg whites and shells. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. The egg whites and shells form a raft that will form at the top and capture all the impurities and solids that were not strained out .Do not disturb or stir the raft , but continue to simmer for about 30 minutes more.
  8. Carefully strain the soup, raft and shells into a fine sieve lined double with cheesecloth. You should have a very clear broth. Set aside.
  9. To make the dumplings...
  10. Soak liver in milk if desired for at least 30 minutes if desired to make taste milder.
  11. Soak the torn apart bread rolls in the milk.
  12. In a separate bowl grind the raw beef liver in grinder, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Remove any connective tissue.
  13. Wring out any excess milk from the soaked bread .
  14. Add the ground liver, beaten egg, baking powder, grate of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  15. At this point determine of the mixture needs more bulk and gradually add semolina to form a consistency that can loosely hold its shape in a ball once formed with with or oiled hands. You don't want the mixture too dry, but wet enough to hold its shape.
  16. Carefully shape dumpling , no larger than a walnut as they will expand in the water.
  17. Drop the dumpling carefully into salted boiling water. You may want to test one to see if they hold its shape while cooking.
  18. Add to clear hot soup and serve.
Makes approximately 25-28 dumplings. Soup quantity varies according to how much broth you yield from ingredients used.


Verizon Jet Pack Giveaway….Always Staying Connected as We Roam The Globe

I think is one of the best giveaways ever on Coco Cooks. If you are anything like Certain Someone and I , you know the importance of staying connected while traveling. I can’t tell you how many vacations we have been on , when Certain Someone is taking conference calls in airports, cars, or golf courses, while working on his computer or smart phone.It’s the price we pay I suppose. But we don’t want to stay connected just for work. We need to know whats going on back home, with our families, and other areas of life. I can’t imagine not being connected. The mobile hotspots saved us on our most recent road trip to the remote Upper Peninsula. Hard to think how we lived without all of this before. My slimline XYBoard tablet fit snugly in my little basket purse and away we went.

So I’m offering you a chance to win a Verizon Jet Pack and $150 gift card (to purchase other equipment or use toward bills).

For those who aren’t so tech savvy here is what a Verizon Jet pack can do for you!

  • Stay Connected to internet where ever you are.

  • Connect 2 or more devices for extended data sessions.

  • The entire family can stay connected to the Internet without relying on a Smartphone user to be home for use of their Mobile Hotspot feature.

  • As a device dedicated to Internet connections, customers can easily multi-task with a Jetpack.

  • Jetpack™ provides the best battery life experience compared to Mobile Hotspot on a Smartphone (which can consume battery power extremely fast).

  • Traveling coworkers can share a connection while awaiting flights at the airport.

  • Family members can connect all their WiFi capable devices connected in the car on a road-trip

  • Access the Internet when roaming outside the U.S. in more than 205 countries.

  • More than 150 of those countries support 3G data speeds.

Pretty amazing  isn’t it.  I’m running this contest until October 1st and will chose the winner then. Please comment to enter and spread the word to all your friends. Now more than ever we really need to stay connected. Good luck.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

Arcadian Splendor in the Northwoods and a Fish Boil

 For the past year I have worked my poor feet to the  calloused bone selling  cosmetics by day and catering for Coco Cooks on rare day offs, to recover from the layoff  of last year.  Oh, to have the three weeks, and twelve personal days a year. Those days are over… All that hard worked accrued a paltry fifty five hours of vacation time. I was tired and ready for an adventure. Certain Someone had earlier returned from the house in Sweden to settle his parents in, and a trip to Europe wasn’t on the cards for my schedule nor his. I have always wanted to do a road trip with him.  I was thinking a weekend in Door County, in our backyard. Instead, he planned a full on week of driving what is known as the Circle Tour. A scenic Lakeside route along the Great Lakes. On our trip we hit three of the five Great Lakes. Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron as we meandered through the Northwoods  and Upper Peninsula of Wisconsin and Michigan. There is so much to say and share about this trip. I received culinary, sensory, and even political inspiration.

I always believe you discover so much about a culture through travel. What amazed us the most,  was the bucolic splendor which reminded us of Sweden and Germany. Immigrants from Scandinavian, Germany, and the British Isles went west and carved out villages, mines and farms amongst the lakes during the late 19th century, where native American  tribes called home before (but lost it). French Canadian fur trappers and explorers also worked and profited  from the land.  Our favorite spot was a rural town called Munising, that housed the majestic Pictured Rocks that cradled the mighty Lake Superior. Simply breathtaking. It’s as if nature over the years carved out and painted a beautiful frame for the lake.

The leaves are just starting to turn, reminding us that autumn is around the corner and summer should be enjoyed mindfully. And the cherries  are plentiful, even though many are last year’s preserved, because of the drought. Sweet corn, apples, peaches, pasties and whitefish beckon. And if you are quiet and really focus, you will see some deer and their fawn elegantly traipse the birch trees. I leave you with this pictorial of a fish boil in Door County (a tradition that Scandinavian settlers actually started in the UP 150 years ago).

Matthew,  the master of the fish boil at Pelletiers. He also handles the BBQ smoke pit at Casey’s in Egg Harbor.

5 pounds of salt  are in the kettle. First the red potatoes, then the small sweet onions, then the local whitefish.

No one knows where the actual ” boil over ” technique arises from. The fish leaves a heavy grey oil residue with a strange taste. The fuel added to the flame at the end of cooking boils over the film,  from the kettle.

The fish boil  is a signature culinary tradition of the lake towns of  Wisconsin. They start in May and end in October.

The humble  plate of fish, potatoes and sweet yellow onions doused in butter, is far from bland. The wholesome simple flavors of the earth , dairy from the cows, and the fresh  water lake are in perfect harmony. Then what better finish than a slice of sweet  cherry pie?

 *Traveling with my XYBoard was a great portable way to capture my thoughts and random pictures, while staying connected on the road. The Verizon hotspots saved us as we were in some pretty remote towns and aided in our navigation, restaurant and hotel picks.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.