Friday, September 30, 2011

Pizza and Mojitos

Well another day without a proper refrigerator.  (grrrr)  My lovely friend invited us over for Mojitos and Pizza.  Both were delicious!  The Mojito recipe is from our friend Benny.  They are most likely the best mojito recipe on the planet!  They go down WAY to easy!  Since the pizza was from a local place, Luigi's, the only recipe I can include is the one one for the mojitos. Enjoy responsibly ;) I can't wait until I can cook properly again!


1 Cup sugar
5 Limes
750 ml of bacardi white rum
1 Bunch of mint leaves
Crushed Ice

1) Muddle the sugar and mint well
2) Add the juice of the limes and mix
3) Add the rum and stir
Pour over a pitcher full of crushed ice.  Enjoy!:)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A New Fridge!!!!

My new fridge!
The fridge didn't get fixed.  Ok well I am excited to have a super cool new fridge, down side is it won't be here until Wed.  ( a week!)  WTF to do about dinners?!  We do have a back up fridge,but I just don't like it.  It is a a ratty old fridge in the garage.  (not to mention it is all the way in the garage)  OK I know, groan, hardly real problems.  Not only do I have a back up, but the ability to replace it with a sweet new upgrade. I am annoyed by the inconvenience, but depressed that I have seemed to lost my perspective.  Perhaps it is (only a smidge) the blog's fault.  I want to do my recipes and skip the processed shortcuts, and now I am now required to do that unless I want to waste a bunch of ingredients? So I am getting off the pity party, and going to say how tasty a Hormel Teryaki pork tenderloin with a packaged pear & gorgonzola salad mix and a baguette with butter is.  Truly it wasn't bad, and the boy and husband liked it, but I was not really thrilled. I am posting the online pic  of my new fridge because it is so much better looking than the packaged dinner we had!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cry, wimper, Scream

Well this morning, I thought the temp in the fridge was a little warm.  Thankfully my husband is a restaurant manager and a food safety expert.  A quick temp check showed that the fridge was about 45 degrees.  (DANGER ZONE)  That was the air, the food was still below forty, so we moved the uber perishable foods to the 'beer fridge' in the garage.  I called the appliance repair place my friend recommended.  She is totally the one who would know, so I am thinking my impression is wrong but..., they were so not helpful.  We had already replaced the motherboard on the fridge; my MIL's husband knows all about this kind of thing and has the same fridge.  He recommended switching it out because it fixed his problem and  it is what was the fix for 99% of the problems with the G/E profile artica fridge.  After spending about $200, (half was the motherboard) I didn't have confidence in the repair guy that came out, because of how vague he was,I have made the call that a new fridge is most likely in order despite the fact that it is not in our budget.  I spent most of today researching what fridges are good and which are problem free. (JIC) I found most reviews listed Samsung as the best with customer satisfaction for French door fridge.  (Which are the kind I want)  Not exactly cheap, but not out of the realm of do-ability since best buy has a no interest for 2 years.  So, while I am giving my fridge the 24 hours I was told my my repair tec to give the fridge to return to below 40 degrees, (smells like bs to me) we decide to order a Pizza. It was good, but I feel lost without my kitchen being intact.  Fingers crossed that the repair tech only communicated poorly and not an idiot.  Please be fixed!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Roast Pork with Sauce Moutarde A La Normande

I got this recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I love the way she gives a base recipe and then all the variations on it, but it took some getting used to not having all the ingredients at the beginning of the recipe.  It makes sense really, but it just isn't what I'm used to.  This is one of those amazing meals that you just want to lick your plate.  It is a bit time consuming and requires a bit of planning, but it is not a lot of active  time.  You start with the marinade. It is a spice blend you rub on the meat and let sit in the refrigerator.  I put it on in the morning and leave it until I start cooking dinner, but there was no firm time to leave it on.  Before you start cooking, scrape off as much as you can with a butter knife. Take your time and get it nice and brown before you put it in the oven.  Also, don't be put off by the... aroma of the vinegar reducing.  Its not pleasant and it will burn your eyes, but trust me, the final sauce is AMAZING!  I served it with creamed spinach and wild mushroom couscous.

Roast Pork with Sauce Moutarde A La Normande
      3 lb pork roast
      4 T  pork fat
      2 T  butter optional
      1    onion sliced
      1    carrot sliced
      2 ea garlic
      I bouquet garni
    1/3 c  cider vinegar
     10    peppercorns crushed
  1 1/2 c  whipping cream
      2 t  mustard dry mixed with an equal amount of water
      1  -2 tablespoons butter unsalted and softened
[Note: The marinade for the roast is (per lb) 1 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp
pepper, 1/4 tsp ground thyme or sage, 1/8 tsp ground bay leaf, pinch of
allspice and 1/2 clove  garlic minced.  A bouquet  garni is parsley,
thyme and bay leaf. ]
Preheat oven to 325.  Dry meat thoroughly on paper towels.  Place the
fat in the casserole and set over moderately high heat.  When fat is
almost smoking, brown meat on all sides.  (About 10 minutes) Remove
pork to side dish.  Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of fat out, or if it
is burnt, toss all and add the butter.  Stir in the veggies and the
bouquet,   cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Place the meat in the casserole,
fattiest side up, and if it wasn't marinated season with salt and
pepper and 1/2 tsp sage or thyme. Cover the casserole and heat it on
the stove until the meat is sizzling. Place the covered casserole in
the lower third of the pre heated oven and cook about 2 hours or until
a meat thermometer reads 180.  Baste the meat 2-3 times during cooking
Strain the meat juices into a bowl and degrease them. Pour the vinegar
and peppercorns into the casserole and boil until the vinegar has
reduced to about a tablespoon. Pour in the meat juices and boil them
down rapidly until they have reduced to about 2/3 of a cup.  Add the
cream and simmer for 5 minutes, adding salt to taste. Beat in the
mustard mixture and simmer 2-3 minutes more. Sauce should be thick
enough to coat a spoon lightly.  Correct seasoning.  Off the heat swirl
in the butter in bits and serve in a warm gravy boat.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Improv Philly Cheesesteaks

Ok so I had no plan (again) as I wandered around the grocery.  For some reason, I decide I want a Philly Cheesesteak.  I get a steak and some rolls.  I briefly looked at a philly recipe and they said freeze and thinly slice before cooking, I wanted to try for medium rare meat. The steak was too thick when I sliced it.  The boy loved it, so did my husband, but it was too thick for me.  Next time I will follow the recipe for a Philly and freeze the meat raw, thinly slice and then cook,  I cooked the steak under the broiler as I usually do and put the meat on rolls with sauted onions and mushrooms, provolone and mayo. Oh and did I mention the meat was TOO DANG THICK!  It really annoyed me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Potato-Chorizo Tacos With Avocado Salsa

So at one point I had found a Rick Bayless recipe for a chorizo taco, but I could only find this adaptation.  I think it was pretty plain; I would have liked cilantro and sour cream.  So overall meh.

Potato-Chorizo Tacos With Avocado Salsa
      2    -3 (about 12 ounces total) medium red skin or smallish Yukon Gold potatoes peeled  and h cubes
         (about 2 cups)
      1    2-15 ounces Mexican chorizo sausage,store-bought (casing removed if
      1    small white onion,finely chopped
      4    ounces (2-3 medium) tomatillos,husked, rinsed  and cut into q
      1    garlic clove,peeled
      2    serranos or 1 jalapeno
      1    large ripe avocado
     12    warm,fresh corn tortillas
[Note: From Hummingbird appetite]
For the filling: In a medium saucepan, bring about 1 quart of water to
a boil. Add cubed potatoes and salt the water (about 2 teaspoons).
Simmer until the potatoes are fully tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, combine the chorizo and
onion. Break up the clumps of sausage. Stir regularly, until the onion
is soft and the sausage cooked through, about 10 minutes. If the
sausage has rendered more than a light coating of fat over the bottom
of the skillet, pour out the excess or sop it up with a paper towel.
Add the potatoes to the skillet and continue to cook over medium heat.
Stir often until the potatoes begin to brown, about 8 minutes. As the
mixture cooks, mash everything together a little with the back of a
spoon or a spatula. Scrape up any crusty bits of potato, so that it
roughly holds together (it'll look like hash). Cover and keep warm over
the lowest heat.
For the salsa: As the filling finishes cooking, make the salsa. In a
food processor, combine the tomatillos, garlic and chiles. Pulse in the
machine until everything is finely chopped. Peel and pit the avocado,
add the flesh to the processor and pulse until everything is well
blended. Scrape the salsa into a serving bowl, taste and season with
salt, about 1/2 teaspoon.
Scrape the warm chorizo filling into a serving bowl and set on the
table along with the salsa and warmed up tortillas.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rigatoni With Summer Squash, Spicy Sausage & Goat Cheese

Tonight's dish is another family favorite.  I find this dish amazing for so many reasons.  First of all, I don't care for sasuage; the boys don't care for squash, yet somehow we all like this dish.  It is a perfect example that you should never say never when it comes to ingredients.  Sometimes it will be the quality that has put you off in the past.  (not true here for us becasue it's the same products we have been buying)   Sometimes it will be improper preperation.  (I do credit the recipe here a little but it is still me cooking it so that does keep it fairly consistent)  But most often it is just the recipe.  This one makes all the peices work.  I think I got this dish from the Fine Cooking emails, but I think I also saw it on the food and wine website so...  It is from Scott Conant.  I thought I was going to hate this guy when I saw him on Chopped, but now that I have seen him on other things, he seems like a really cool guy.  I haven't had a bad recipe from him yet, and he is responsible for some of our favorites.  I also adore him for teaching me how salty pasta water should be.  I had always given it a dash or two in the giant pot of water.  I read that he said it should be as salty as a stock.  It has made all the difference. I will also note here, get a microplane.  They are so handy for zest, nutmeg, etc..., but I love the airy curls it makes of Parmigian cheese.  It is just perfect and so pretty.
My beloved Microplane
Airy shreds:)

Rigatoni With Summer Squash, Spicy Sausage & Goat Cheese
Kosher salt
1 lb dried rigatoni
3    Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb bulk hot Italian sausage (or links,casings removed)
1/3 c  finely chopped shallots (about 3 medium)
2 c  3/4-inch-diced yellow and green summer squash
3 oz fresh goat cheese,crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
2 t  finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Put
the rigatoni in the boiling water and cook until just shy of al dente,
about 10 minutes.
While the pasta cooks, heat 1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet
over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it into
pieces with a spatula or spoon, until it's almost cooked through, 3 to
5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl. Pour
the fat out of the skillet but do not wipe it clean. Heat the remaining
2- 1/2 Tbs. oil in the skillet over medium heat and cook the shallots
until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Raise the heat to medium
high and add the squash. Cook, stirring frequently, until the squash is
barely tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta-cooking water and drain the rigatoni.
Return the rigatoni to its cooking pot and add the sausage, the squash
mixture, and 2 Tbs. of the reserved pasta water. Toss over medium heat
until the sausage is cooked through and the rigatoni is perfectly al
dente, about 3 minutes. Add more of the pasta water as necessary to
keep the dish moist.
Remove from the heat, add the goat cheese and parsley, and toss until
the cheese melts and coats the pasta. Season to taste with salt and
pepper, transfer to warm shallow bowls, and top each serving with some
of the grated Parmigiano, if using.
Serving Suggestions
Serve with simple Bruschetta with Herbed Tomatoes as a starter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ham, Vodka And Tomato Pasta Sauce

This pasta dish comes from a cool little book of pasta sauces given to me by my mother in law.  I have only made a few from the book, but they have all been great.  I think I should go through the entire book, cooking one a week, and finally try them all.  This one was first made for us by my MIL for an anniversary celebration she had for us.  It is a family favorite and it is super easy.  Other than the ham, (and possibly the cream) it is things everyone might have on hand.  This is one of those dishes everyone should know how to make. It is easy and a crowd pleaser.

Ham, Vodka And Tomato Pasta Sauce
4 Servings

 1    onion Chopped
 1/2  stick  of butter (4 TBSP)
 1/2 c  of Vodka
 1 c  of crushed tomatoes
 1/4 lb of ham chopped
  1 c  of cream or half and half
  Cooked pasta
  Tabasco to taste
[Note: If you start the water boiling first the pasta and
sauce are usually done at the same time  ]
1.Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat
2.Saute the onion until soft
3.Add Vodka, tomatoes, and ham and cook until reduced.  (about 15
4.Add the cream and Tabasco (I usually use 2 to 3 dashes)
5.Warm though and eat!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Black Beans and Rice with Smoked Mozzarella Fritters

The recipe for the black beans is mine. I wanted I it for dinner tonight, but I found a stack of printed out recipes and really wanted to try the fritters, so  I decide on both.  The fritters are a bit laborous; I am not the fryer in the house, and I had some issues with the breading.  (I have issues with breading always) I couldn't find the regular mozzarella in smoked; I could only find the fresh in smoked. Fresh mozzarella dosen't melt like the regular so there were consistancy issues, but still really tasty.  The beans are one of my favorite recipes and super easy.  I like to mix them with spinach; don't be tempted to just throw the raw spinach in at the end and cook it with the beans.  It changes the whole flavor of the dish.

My Black Beans
4 Servings

1 sm Onion,Diced
1 sm Squash,Diced
1 stalk  Celery,Diced
1 cn Black Beans
2 ea Garlic,Minced
1/2    Chapotle In Adobo,Chopped
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Sautee the onion, squash and celery with salt to taste in oil until
soft.  Add beans (liquid and all) and chapotle and garlic. Cover and cook over low heat
20 minutes to hours.  Add a splash of the vinegar.

I like to chop some raw spinach, heat some olive oil in a pan with a
smashed garlic clove.  Remove the garlic and wilt the spinach.  Add it to
the beans once they are done.

Smoked Mozzarella And Ricotta Fritters
      18    Fritters
  1 1/2 c  fresh whole milk ricotta
  1 1/2 c  shredded smoked mozzarella
    1/4 t  salt
    1/4 t  freshly ground black pepper
      2 c  panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
      3    large eggs
    3/4 c  all-purpose flour
           Vegetable oil,for frying
    1 T  fresh chopped thyme leaves
           Balsamic Dipping Sauce
      6 T  balsamic vinegar
      2 T  lemon juice
      2 T  Dijon mustard
      1 T  honey
    1/2 c  extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 t  salt
    1/2 t  freshly ground black pepper
For the Fritters: In a small bowl combine the ricotta, smoked
mozzarella, salt, and pepper. In another bowl pour the panko. In a
third bowl lightly beat the eggs. Put the flour in a fourth bowl. Line
a tray with parchment paper.
Scoop a 1 1/2 tablespoon ball of the cheese mixture into the flour and
roll to coat. Transfer the ball to the eggs and roll to coat. Transfer
the cheese ball to the panko and again roll to coat. Transfer the ball
to the parchment-lined tray. Continue with the remaining cheese mixture.

Meanwhile heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet to 350
degrees F. Fry fritters in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the
pan, until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to
paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with thyme. Serve warm with Balsamic
Dipping Sauce.

For the Balsamic Dipping Sauce: Combine the vinegar, lemon juice,
mustard, and honey in a blender. Blend until combined. Add the oil in a
steady stream while the machine is running. Season with the salt and
pepper. Serve in a small bowl alongside the fritters.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Steak and Salad

Well today I was going to do as the boy asked and have out tradtional Grilled Steak Salad for dinner. I almost always have all ingredients on hand.  It was a short day at school and I managed to stay out of the house for the entire school day! The girl slept until time for soccer, during soccer, I was out, and when I came home about 6pm, I realized I DONT HAVE ANYTHING I need for the salad except steak and lettuce.  Well poop!  SO, I decide we are going to have steak and salad (with some leftover carbs for the kids) but what to do to the steak so its not just steak on a plate with salad because then we would be missing the things I was out of.  Compund butter to the rescue!  I know I have said it before but they are great to have on hand.  I pulled some mustard butter out of the freezer and we had outselves a tasty dinner;) 

1 grilled steak (see grilled steak salad post for reciepe)
Mixed greens
Balsamic Reduction (see same post)
Blue Chese dressing

Mustard Butter
1/4 c  unsalted butter,softened
1 T  Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic,minced
1/2 t  anchovy paste
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce,or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

[Note: "This is a wonderful butter to use on top of steaks, chicken,
pork, or veggies. It has a secret ingredient that no one will ever
guess! If you are uncertain about anchovy paste, start    with a small
amount and taste as you go. You'll be surprised at how it boosts the
overall flavor without being fishy.

1.Combine the butter, mustard, garlic, anchovy paste, Worcestershire
sauce, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix until garlic and anchovy paste
are evenly distributed throughout the butter. Serve immediately over
warm food or cover and chill until needed

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup With Chipotle Cream

Well I am still very miserable today.  I thought soup would be good for me, but I really don't care for chicken soup.  This soup is one I do like very much.  The boy, surprisingly, LOVES it.  I do make one change, I make the chipotle cream with the lion's share of the peppers and the soup more mild, so every taste can heat it up as they like.  (I'm thinking specifically of the baby who, while can take a little heat, doesn't want too much.  If you want to make it vegetarian, switch out the stock.  I used chicken because I'm sick.  I love the idea of it being a cool little shooter in a glass as an appetizer!  

Butternut Squash Soup With Chipotle Cream
6 Servings

3 T  olive oil,divided
1    medium butternut squash halved lengthwise, seeds discarded, wash
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1    medium onion,chopped
2    stalks celery,chopped
2    carrots,chopped
2    garlic cloves,minced
6 c  chicken broth,divided
2 t  minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
Chipotle Cream
1 t  minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 c  sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
[Note: . A chipotle chile is a smoked, dried jalapeno. They can be
found dried, pickled or canned "in adobo" which is a sauce made with
ground chiles,  herbs, vinegar and spices. The sauce   tends to be more
mild than the chipotles themselves and can be used in place of them to
reduce the heat in a  dish. Dried or canned chipotles are easily found
in most   supermarkets.  Cook's Notes: Serve this hearty bisque for
dinner on a cool autumn night,  or pour it into individual shot glasses
for a savvy appetizer.    ]
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, grease the sliced surface of the
squash and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange on a baking
sheet and roast until very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the
oven and let cool.
In a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, add the remaining olive oil,
onion, celery, and carrot, then season with a pinch of salt. Saute
until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2
minutes. Scoop the butternut squash flesh into the pot and stir. Add 4
cups of the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low,
cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about
30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and using an immersion blender, carefully puree the
soup until very smooth. If necessary, add more of the remaining stock
to create desired consistency. Mix in 2 teaspoons of the chipotle into
the soup, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
In a small bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon of chipotle and the sour cream.
Season the chipotle cream with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the
soup to bowls. Top each with a dollop of chipotle cream and serve.

Oh and a P.S. I consider this easy becasue the squash can be roasted ahead of time and then it all is thrown together quickly!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jalapeño Fish

I am still miserable today, and my husband left this morning for a week long conference.  (sob)  I feel like doing nothing, but there are kids to pick up and take to their activities etc...  For dinner I decided to do a dish my son loves and really isn't that hard.  However, it is a work in progress.  This is the original recipe and I try some variations on it when I make it to see if it can become an adult favorite as well.  Well considering I can't smell or taste, I have no idea if what I did was an improvement, but here it is.  I dusted the fish in flour, I  used lime juice, and not much, because I had an open one in the fridge and I thinly sliced a shallot to saute with the pepper.  I could have tasted like cardboard or ambrosia; I have no idea.  I gave each of us some leftover starches that were in the fridge and said screw the salad. I pray I am less miserable tomorrow.:(

Jalapeño Fish
2 Servings

2    Fillets of any white fish
1    jalapeño pepper,seeded, ribs Gone, Sliced Thin
4 T  of unsalted butter
Lemon pepper or fresh lemon juice and pepper
1.Melt half of the butter in a pan over medium heat
2.Add the fish and jalapeno and season the up, raw side of the fish
with salt and lemon pepper cook 2-4 minutes depending on thickness
3.Flip and season the other side with salt and lemon pepper
4.When fish is cooked through remove from heat and add remaining butter.
5. when butter is melted, turn fish to coat

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sick Day

OK so today I am miserable.  I have a fever, stuffy, sinus pressure, neck feels like I have been beaten and sore throat.  My husband, being the kind man he is, suggests eating out.  My thought, lets get take out.  I don't want out of my pjs and I can't smell, so I can't taste anything.  After much debate, a debate that involved numerous variables, we decide to have Thai.  Just so you can appreciate the length and scope of this debate, here are but a few of the variables: what do I feel like eating (me: nothing, him: somewhere nice for me), where do I feel like going (me: nowhere him: ditto), take out? (me: anything, him: most food doesn't travel well).  OK so I decide to get dressed.  The only opinion I can muster is that Thai food might have enough flavor to penetrate my taste buds despite my inability to smell.  The snafu, my daughter is allergic to peanuts.  Well we ended up at Thai, which we all enjoyed.  The girl enjoyed her new app on the iPhone and ate when we got home. (which she enjoyed:)  My husband had a tamarind duck, I had beef pad thai, and the boy got garlic chicken. Everyone loved their meal but me.  I can't honestly say loved but it was as good as I could  have achieved feeling the way I did.  Next time: TAKE OUT! One thing that happened, and I hope my darling learned this lesson, is never let the girl hold a fork.  (moms out there say DUH!)  She stabbed him hard enough to draw blood which is the only thing that keeps me from laughing.  (in front of him)  We did take some pictures but the dim light didn't do them justice and the duck dish didn't show up at all.
Beef Pad Thai
Garlic & Black Pepper Chicken

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Short Ribs and Loaded Potato Salad

Well tonight's recipe is a bit of a process; it is best suited for a weekend.  It is one of my husband's favorites.  I am not the biggest fan of ribs (or any meat on a bone) in general, but I have to say even I begrudgingly like it. It is loosely based on a short rib recipe from the must have cookbook. How to Cook Everything.  The Loaded Potato Salad is something I made up.  I know I have seen loaded potato salad before, but they looked like potato salad in that it was more mashed up and boiled.  I wanted something that would be good for the bag of multicolored potatoes I bought. 

Short Ribs With Creamy Mustard Sauce
4 Servings

3 lb Beef Short Ribs
1/2    Onion,Grated Or Fine Chop
2 ea Garlic,Minced
1 c  Beef Broth,Plus More As Needed
1/2 c  Heavy Cream,Or More
1/2 T  Mustard Powder,Or To Taste
Salt And Pepper
Canola Oil
Heat a large pan (not nonstick) over medium high heat.  Pat dry your
ribs and season them with salt and pepper.  Put a thin layer of oil on
the bottom of the pan.  Just enough to barely coat it.  Place the ribs
on the pan and don't move them for at least 3 minutes.  They should be
clinging to the bottom of the pan and getting really brown.  The
picture is of the browning process because I think it's important to
get right.  I let mine go for about 4 minutes, but since all stoves are
different, I say err on the side of caution .  Repeat this on every
surface you can.  Use a bulb baster when there is too much fat
accumulating in the bottom.  Deposit this fat in to a bowl and reserve.*
Once every side is really good and brown, remove to a plate. (they
will not be done)  When the ribs have all been moved to the plate, use
the baster to remove all but a couple of tablespoons of fat.  Sauté the
onion quickly until nice and soft.  Throw in the garlic and stir for 30
seconds.  Add the beef broth and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom
of the pan.  Return the ribs to the pan, reduce the heat to low and
cover.  I cook these for 2-3 hours.  They need to fall off the bone.
Here you have two choices: serve now or tomorrow. (tomorrow is
preferable. I will get to that in a minute)  If tomorrow, let the meat
cool enough to handle.  When it is, remove the bones and any connective
tissue and place in the fridge.  Take the liquid in the pan and place
in the tallest, and most narrow  container you can to put it in the
fridge too. Then tomorrow, (or later that day, the meet just needs to
have cooled) make the sauce and heat the meat as directed next.  To
make the sauce: skim off a good portion of the fat on the surface of
the liquid.  (the chilled liquid will have a solid layer of fat you can
remove.  Save it!*  Warm the liquid in a large pan. Warm the meat with
it.  Remove the meat and add the cream and mustard.  When the mustard
and cream have mixed thoroughly with the pan liquid, return the meat
and cook, uncovered on medium (or medium low depending on your stove)
until the meat is warmed though and the sauce has thickened slightly.
The reason the next day is preferable is not only is it easier to remove
the fat, but the nature of this cut of meat is to fall apart after the
first cooking, but once you cool it and warm it, the meat will hold
together.  Thank you Alton Brown.  He teaches you to fish instead of
giving you a fish:)  I will neglect the science he offered as to why
this happens because my guests found it unappetizing;)

 Loaded Potato Salad
 6 Servings

28 oz Baby Potatoes,Halved
3    Bacon,Cooked, Crumbled And  at Reserved
5    Scallions,Chopped
1/2 c  Cheddar,Shredded
1/2 c  Sour Cream
Salt And Pepper And Powdered Garlic Oil,As Needed
Pre heat oven to 400.  Toss the halved potatoes in oil and melted bacon
fat to just coat.  Season with salt and pepper and garlic.  Roast until
tender. (about 30-45 minutes)
While roasting, chop scallions, crumble bacon and make the "dressing"
For the dressing mix sour cream with salt, pepper and garlic to taste
and add bacon.  Mix well.  When the potatoes come out of the oven, use
a slotted spoon to transfer to a serving bowl, leaving as much fat
behind in the roasting dish.  Put the scallions and cheese in the bowl
and mix.  The cheese should melt.  Scrape all of the "dressing" in the
bowl and toss to coat.  Serve slightly warm

*See Tips post (8/15/11)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Date Night!!!

We got a date night!!!  My mother in law was visiting us, so we got to go out to eat, just the husband and I.  I have been dying to try Cress.  I first found it on Yelp a long time ago.  Recently, the chef was nominated for a James Beard Award, so now I am doubly excited.  I got dressed like it was a proper date, wanting to look nice for my man.  My son tells me as soon as the make up is on, "Mom you look really nice!", my mother in law tells me I look really beautiful.  I said thank you and now everyone has told me but the husband.  Well the drive to Cress is about 35 minutes.  Half way there, my husband gets a text.  As he is driving, he hands it to me to read it to him.  It is from his mom.  It says have fun and tell your wife she looks beautiful.  (now i would be remiss to fail to mention that as we got in the car he did say I looked good)  We both chuckle at the fact that I am reading it to him.  He says tell her OK; I text back, "OK I will tell him".  We find this hysterical!  When we finally arrive at the restaurant, we have a bit of an issue with parallel parking.  It wouldn't have been bad except for the two college students sitting on a bench right next to the spot watching. (They were actually really nice and helpful with some directions)  The restaurant was nicely decorated, and the staff was really great.  The food was amazing.  The chef's amuse was a fried wanton with manchengo cheese and an apple relish.  It was really great and made us very excited for the upcoming meal.  For an appetizer, we ordered the grilled naan with caramelized onions, blue Alfredo and balsamic reduction.  It was good, and we ate it all, but it didn't make us want to stop and call someone to let them know how great it was.  The entrees did!  My husband had the nightly special of a buffalo rib eye.  It was served with a Yukon gold gratin, fried parsnips and some kind of red wine reduction.  It was really good.  I had the fish of the day, snowy grouper.  (I think snowy, I knew I should have taken notes!)  It was locally caught off of cape Canaveral.  I had it herb crusted (panko and parsley) and sauced with their citrus beurre blanc.  I got the grits (at the server's recommendation) as my starch.  OMG!!!  The grits were really that good.  The fish was cooked perfectly. The beurre blanc made me want to swim in it. If I were to have any criticism at all, and believe me it didn't upset me the dish was that good, was that the veggies were cooked to the point that they were mushy. (I also like a bit more veg with my meal but hey if I must...)  I can't wait to go back.
Fish of the day with grits and beurre blanc
Daily special of Buffalo rib eye and Potato gratin

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Night of Too Many Pizzas

Well when I should have been browsing my recipe database, my darling husband was playing Icewind Dale on the computer.  As a result, I was totally unprepared when I was shopping during the boy's karate class.  As I wandered aimlessly around the grocery, I saw pizza dough in the deli case. Well we all love pizza and I was worn out and wanted to do nothing, and, as before, the "easy" pizza meal was more work than so many other dishes.  Why this time you ask?  Well, I couldn't decide on the type of pizza, so I decide on four kinds.  I like White Pizza. so that will be one.  We had a Buffalo chicken pizza at the Mellow Mushroom when we were on vacation, and my husband really liked it so I thought we would do that too.  Well the boy likes pepperoni pizza, so what the heck we will have a third.  OH, wait, I wanted to try to make that pizza I saw on the Best Thing I Ever Ate, Potato Pizza.  OK so we are having four kinds of pizza tonight.  That's OK, we like pizza leftover and my husband is quick at rolling the dough. (I am terribly slow)  I am in the store, on my phone, looking up recipes. (I LOVE my iPhone:)  None of the recipes sounded quite right for what I was thinking.  I decide to wing it.  (a bit, I mean I did have some direction from the recipes I wasn't planning on following)
     Well the white pizza, I wanted to base that on a my first slice of NYC pizza.  I was in the city with my ninth grade class and we ate lunch at Ray's Pizza.  (the real one? I have no idea.  If you held a gun on me and ask me to guess, I would say about 39th and Lexington.  Even if that is right, I still don't know if that is the 'real' one)  I ordered a white pizza with spinach.  It was heaven!  That was 1987 (OMG!) , and here I am trying to remember what all went into it.  It was good pizza, as good or near to what I ate all those years ago?  I can't say for sure. I am working on the impression I still have of that amazing meal.  The buffalo chicken was good too.  I loved the potato one the best, but my husband liked the white one the most.  We kind of did it on the fly so some of the measurements are approximations.

For All the Pizzas:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone in it.  Roll out the dough to the same shape and size as your stone.  Remove the stone to a heat safe surface. Place the dough on to the hot stone, add your sauce cheese and toppings.  Put back in to the oven for 5-7 minutes. (or until done)

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Make your wing sauce. (mine was equal parts of Crystal and unsalted butter with some granulated garlic)  Mix your wing sauce with some bleu cheese dressing in about a 2:1 ration (2 being the wing sauce)  Spread that those blended sauces in a very thin layer as your pizza sauce.  Sprinkle on a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Top with some cooked, shredded chicken that has been lightly dressed in the wing sauce.  Sprinkle some thinly sliced scallions on top. Bake according to instructions above.
Oh and I almost forgot, like I did when making the pizza, drizzle the top with the  bleu cheese  dressing mixture and the wing mixture.

 Before the drizzling on the left, after we cut it and started eating it and remembered to drizzle on the right.

White Spinach Pizza

OK I totally cheated with the spinach.  I bought a frozen box of creamed spinach. Spread the spinach (cooked) in a fairly thin layer over the dough on the pizza stone.  Top with a layer of mozzarella.  Dot the top with minced garlic.  Bake according to instructions above.

Potato Pizza

Thinly slice a baking potato on a mandolin.  (as thin as you can)  Keep them in lightly salted water until time to use them.  On the stove in a small pan, heat a mashed garlic clove and the leaves off a small sprig of rosemary, on medium low heat for about 15 minutes.  Once the dough is on the stone, brush with the rosemary/garlic oil.  Place a single layer of the potatoes that have been patted dry.  Top with a thin layer of grated Parmesan.  Bake according to instructions above.  When the pizza comes our, sprinkle with freshly chopped chives, and drizzle with white truffle oil and warmed heavy cream.

Pepperoni Pizza

Make your pizza sauce.  I had the sauce and liquid from a can of whole tomatoes that I reduced a bit but you can used canned tomato sauce.  To that I add a ton of oregano and some basil, a pinch of red pepper flakes and some garlic.  Simmer over low heat until the flavors meld.  The sauce should be pretty potent since you only need a thin layer of it.  Top with a layer of mozzarella and pepperoni and cook according to instructions above.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NY Strip Steak With Anchovy Garlic Butter, "fauxsotto" and Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Well, last soccer season, it was tradition to have a grilled steak salad after the weekly practice.  I am trying to get through the MANY recipes I have in the To Try folder, so I am breaking tradition. (for now)  I did however still broil a steak, but tonight I decided to top it with a compound butter I have been wanting to try.  Also I had leftover rice I wanted to use, so I made my 'fauxsotto'.  It is my silly name for an easy way to use leftover plain white rice.  I used the leftover butter lettuce from last night too; I made a salad of the lettuce, cherry tomatoes and scallions.  I dressed it with a champagne vinaigrette I made.  Because I am trying to eliminate packaged foods, I am almost exclusively making my own salad dressings.  To do this I have about 7 kinds of vinegar. You can make a great of variety of dressings and they are quite simple.  My favorite is the champagne vinegar.  This one is pretty tasty but it is tart and a little goes a long way. The star of the dinner was the anchovy garlic butter.  I added a bit of salt even though the recipe didn't call for it.  DON'T!  It was delicious but a bit salty. On the bright side, being a bit too salty, it prevented us from eating too much of it.  Don't let the 'anchovy' in the title put you off.  It isn't fishy, just amazing.  Compound butters are something that everyone should know how to make and have a few in their freezer.  The application of each one, can turn the same piece of meat in to something different.  There are pictures of the making of this butter in the 'Tips' post. It is interesting for me to note, that tonight was the first night that the boy lost to the husband in the ingredient guessing game:)

Anchovy Garlic Butter
2    garlic cloves
1/2    (1/4 cup) unsalted butter softened
1 T  anchovy paste
1 1/2 t  fresh lemon juice
1/4 t  black pepper
2 T  finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Note: The garlicky spread that tops this steak is also excellent on
fish, chicken, and pasta. Make extra and freeze it for a super finish
for future...  ]
Preparation Mince garlic and mash to a paste with a pinch of salt using
a large heavy knife. Mash together butter, anchovy paste, lemon juice,
garlic paste, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined well. Stir in

2 c  Leftover Rice,Cooked
3/4 c  Heavy Cream
2    Scallion,Chopped
1/4 c  Parmesan,Shredded Or Grated
Heat cream and scallions and garlic in a pan. Add leftover rice and
stir.  Cover and cook on low until heated and cream absorbed. (about
3/4 cup cream to two cups rice to start). Finish with parm and adjust
salt n pepper

Champagne Vinaigrette
1    shallot,peeled and quartered
1/4 c  champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
1/4 c  extra-virgin olive oil
1 T  Dijon mustard
3/4 t  salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine shallot, vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a blender.
Puree until smooth

Oh and it is in the grilled steak salad recipe, but I cook a 1", room temperature steak,  under a well preheated broiler for 3-4 minutes a side for medium rare.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Korean Pork Barbeque

This recipe comes from a Korean friend of mine.  One season, her son and mine were on the same soccer team.  I first tasted this dish at our traditional end of season soccer party.  Everyone loved it!  I have made it once before.  I don't think it is as good as hers (and it most likely never will be), but I got a little closer with this one.  One thing that made a huge difference, (and it is something she was emphatic about) was that the meat was cut much thinner this time.  Last time I went to Publix, (not my regular one mind you but one close to where I was taking the boy) and the very nice teen behind the butchers counter tried his best, but it was way to thick.  My friend says she gets her's shave cut at the Publix by us, but this time I went to Ray's Quality Meats.  I called ahead to see if they could go the pork in a "shaved cut".  They were super nice and helpful.  They put it in the freezer and hand cut it to it was much thinner than what I got before.  She recommends serving them in butter lettuce cups.  I love it that way.  I also made some jasmine rice with a little bit of soy sauce.  I didn't grill it after cooking.  I wasn't going to heat up a grill just for this, so I added a dash of liquid smoke at the end.

Korean Pork Barbecue
4 Servings

1 1/2    lean pork shaved cut
2 T  Korean pepper paste
2 T  Korean pepper powder
2 T  sugar
1 1/2 T  soy sauce
1 T  sesame oil
1 1/2 T  sake
1 T  garlic minced
1/2 T  ginger minced
1/2    of a medium sized onion minced
1.Combine all ingredients except pork and blend well.  Then add the
2.Let marinate
3.Cook over low heat, covered, until done. (I found a long slow simmer for a long time worked best for me)
4.Take lid off and allow some of the excess liquid to evaporate
5.Grill the meat for a few minutes to get the bbq smoky flavor

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tilapia With Balsamic Browned Butter And Creamy Farfalle With Bacon, Tomato

Well I am going to start off by saying right now I am totally prejudice when it comes to this recipe but I'm still going to be a catty... witch because I don't feel like being tactful.  I try to always be diplomatic when it come to the recipes.  First of all, someone may like them.  I just personally may not care for them, and while that is OK, there is no need to slam the recipe.  Two, these people are paid to cook or teach cooking for a living, were I am simply a good home cook, so who am I to criticize their work with anything but a kind eye?  I cannot extend that courtesy here.  Let me start at the beginning.  I have had this recipe hanging around for a long time.  I know I originally put it in to the 'to try' database because I have been looking to find a way to replicate a fish with brown butter dish I had a long time ago.  Long before I was interested in cooking and eating well.  This recipe is from a chef I usually do not care much for. (personally or her recipes)  I didn't realize this when I started cooking it, and I can't believe I knew this when I added it to my list of 'to tries".  I was happily cooking along when to my horror I realized I was cooking a Rachael Ray recipe!  (I know I have just made a bunch of you hate me, as for some reason she is a media darling)  This shocking revelation came when I saw the words, "return to a bubble!"  Oh crud, I am cooking a recipe from the mad woman who has given (nay cursed) us with the culinary slang: "evoo, sammy and of course bubble."  It is enough to make me sick, but that and her (IMHO) mediocre recipes aren't enough to make me dislike her enough to forget to be tactful.  No, the nail in that coffin was her budget dining out show where she was always advocating tipping less than the proper amount so her stupid show could come in under a set dollar amount. All I have to say about that is EXPLETIVE you!  (I'm about to rant because I was a server in college, so if you need to, skip to the next paragraph:)  First of all, servers make almost nothing.  It is true it depends on where you are, but still it is such a demanding, emotionally draining. thankless job, it deserves more than minimum wage.  In the 90's, when I was serving, I made $2.13 an hour.  I believe it still the national minimum but now, here in Florida, it is about $4.25.  The fact that she skimps on the tip so she can have the show work our mathematically is just plain ridiculous.  She doesn't even base her tip on service but how much she splurged?  Very low rent Rachel! If that isn't enough, or if you don't realize why that is so wrong, let me let you in on server life. In order for us to earn our tip, in many customer's eyes, we are responsible for so much.  But, in reality we only have actual control over how we treat you. We don't cook the food, we aren't responsible if there is ample supply of the product you want, and we have to take abuse from you the customer and the kitchen in equal measure AND take it with good grace. You can tell a lot about a person by how they tip.  (I think it would make an interesting thesis actually.)  If all that isn't enough for you, the government takes taxes out of the meager hourly wage you receive based on the premise that you are actually making a tip. That to me says that is a cultural expectation.  I do think you should tip based on service, but how many who have never worked in a restaurant know just what is the server's fault and not one of the many other people in the restaurant who still get their much higher wage no matter how crappy your experience was.
     OK rant over;).  That out of the way, my take on this recipe.  First of all, I didn't like that it said 1 can of tomatoes.  What size?  (unless San Marzano tomatoes only come in one size, but I have seen proper executive chefs specify a size in their recipes, and your is your job it to teach those who my not know how to cook.  That's all I'm saying)  Second of all, I didn't add the mushrooms, onions and garlic all at once as the recipe specified.  Sliced mushrooms are going to take much longer to saute than grated garlic.  The garlic would burn and that is not tasty.  I started with the mushrooms, added the onion later and then the garlic at the last minute.  I also added a lot more mascarpone.  It was not even noticeable in the original amounts. (or maybe it would have been if I knew the original amount of tomatoes)   The most heinous crime was the brown butter.  Here I followed her instructions exactly.  (maybe the vague nature is to blame instead of lack of skill) The butter was black.  Partly due to the balsamic vinegar, but not only.  It was a burnt, mealy, gross mess.  We threw it out.  I don't think I can claim ownership of this error, even though  I always assume it my fault just because, since I kept thinking that this isn't right, but kept on following the brown butter instructions to a T just because I figured the recipe was correct. The pasta was OK.  I thought we couldn't taste all the good things that went into it.  The bacon was barely noticeable, the mascarpone  invisible, the tomatoes were the most noticeable.  Why use all those good tasty ingredients only to not taste them.  OK.  I know I was harsh.  I usually say that the dish had a good personally and let it go at that, I just couldn't do that today.

Tilapia With Balsamic Browned Butter And Creamy Farfalle With Bacon, Tomato
4 Servings

 1 lb farfalle,bow ties
 3 T  extra-virgin olive oil divided
5 sl center cut bacon,chopped
1   medium onion,chopped
2    to 3 grated garlic cloves
1    bay leaf
12    white mushrooms,thinly sliced
1 cn San Marzano tomatoes
4    (6 to 8-ounce) tilapia fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c  all-purpose flour
1    (10-ounce) box frozen peas
1/4 c  mascarpone cheese
3 T  butter
1/4 c  balsamic vinegar
1/2 c  basil leaves,shredded or torn
Heat a pot of water to a boil, salt the water and cook pasta to al

Heat a deep large skillet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil over
medium-high heat. Add bacon and crisp 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions,
garlic,  bay leaf and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook
until tender but not browned, 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, crush them up
with a wooden spoon and simmer 15 minutes on low heat.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. Dust fish with flour and shake
off excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over
medium high heat. Cook fish 4 minutes on each side.

While fish cooks, stir peas into sauce, return to bubble and stir in
mascarpone cheese. Adjust seasoning.

Remove fish from skillet to a platter and cover loosely with foil to
keep warm. Reduce heat to medium and add butter to pan. Brown butter, 2
to 3 minutes, stir in balsamic and simmer 1 to 2 minutes to reduce by
half. Pour the brown butter and vinegar over fish.

Drain pasta, toss with sauce and wilt basil into pasta.

Serve fish with pasta alongside.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken Jalousie

Well I was the person who thought the least of the dish, but I didn't dislike it.  I think I would have liked more veggies and less chicken.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but only because I wanted to use what I had on hand.  I used beef stock because I had an open carton in the refrigerator.  I was short a 1/4 cup on the chicken, but I was using the chicken from the chipotle lime chicken tacos. I also cooked it on parchment paper for clean up purposes.  Other than that, I didn't deviate from the recipe.  I think it is a brilliant idea for leftovers. It was fairly simple.  Not as fast as it could be, but if I had the puff pastry thawing in the fridge overnight and only used things I had leftover, it would have gone a lot faster.  I used the edges I trimmed off. I baked them and then drizzled melted butter over them and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar.  Not the best dessert, but it would have been wasted and we don't always have dessert.

Chicken Jalousie
2 T  butter
2    leeks,white and pale green part only, cleaned
2 t  all-purpose flour,plus more for rolling
1/2 c  chicken stock
2 1/2 c  chopped boneless cooked chicken
1 t  chopped thyme
1 t  fresh lemon juice
 salt and freshly ground black pepper
 one 17.3oz (484g) box thawed frozen puff pastry
1  large egg,beaten
[Note: Good with roasted vegetables such as zucchini, and eggplant.
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the leeks and cook
for 5 minutes until tender. Sprinkle in the flour and stir. Stir in the
stock and bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and
stir in the chicken, thyme, and lemon juice. Season well with salt and
pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap and let cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Dampen a large baking sheet. Roll
out one sheet of the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Trim
into a 10  6in (30  15cm) rectangle. Place the pastry on the baking
sheet. Roll out and trim the remaining pastry to 10  7in (30  18cm)
rectangle. Lightly dust it with flour, then fold in half lengthwise.
Make cuts ½ in (1cm) apart along the folded edge to within 1in (2.5cm)
of the outer edge.
3. Spoon evenly over the puff pastry base, leaving a 1in (2.5cm) border.
Dampen the edges of the pastry with water. Place the second piece of
pastry on top and press the edges together to seal; trim off the excess.
Brush with beaten egg. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden-brown and
crisp. Cool briefly, then slice and serve hot.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Israeli Couscous And Tomato Salad With Arugula Pesto

I absolutely love arugula and arugula pesto, so I figured this will be great for me.  The husband is not a fan of tomatoes, so I made this on a night he wouldn't be dining with us.  My big surprise, the boy LOVED it.  He had two helpings and was done before myself or the girl.  (this is the boy who thinks nothing of taking 2 HOURS to finish a meal!)  It was very good!  Only thing I would have liked to changed were the cherry tomatoes.  The skins were too thick and made for some unpleasant textures in your mouth.  I would like to try it with oven roasted tomatoes instead or all chopped tomatoes in red, yellow and orange. The pesto was very nice and will be great on many things.  I think I drizzled a little too much oil on the couscous to prevent clumping.  It was a tad oily and I think that diluted the flavors a bit.  Still really excellent, but something to watch when preparing it.  It is completely vegetarian; in fact without the parm in the pesto, it is vegan.  I know the pasta made it a bit heavy, but a great hot summer night dish.  I think it will keep well too.  It is going to be my lunch tomorrow too:)

Israeli Couscous And Tomato Salad With Arugula PestoYield: 4 Servings

      6 c  packed arugula (6 ounces) plus whole leaves for garnish
      2 c  Israeli couscous (12 ounces)
    1/2 c  extra-virgin olive oil,plus more for drizzling
    1/4 c  pine nuts
      4    garlic cloves,chopped
    1/4 c  freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
           Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1 1/2 pt red cherry tomatoes,halved
      4    yellow or orange tomatoes cut into 1-inch dice
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the 6 cups
of arugula and blanch for 10 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer
the arugula to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking,
then drain.
2. Add the couscous to the boiling water and cook over moderately high
heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain
the couscous and spread it out on a large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly
with olive oil and toss to prevent clumping. Let the couscous cool to
room temperature.
3. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing,
until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
4. Squeeze the excess water from the arugula and coarsely chop it.
Transfer the arugula to a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic,
cheese and the 1/2 cup of olive oil and process until the pine nuts are
finely chopped. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
5. Transfer the couscous to a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto.
Gently fold in the tomatoes. Garnish with the arugula leaves and serve.

Make Ahead The salad can be refrigerated for up to 2 hours.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chipotle-Lime Chicken Tacos

Well tonight we went with Mexican again.  It's funny, until I was pregnant with my son, I really didn't care for Mexican food.  Granted, I wasn't interested in food then.  I would eat Mexican when I had to, but I never wanted it.  That all changed with my first pregnancy when it was all I wanted.  Subsequently it became one of my favorite cuisines.  My husband was so pleased.  It is one of his favorite types to food too.  Not surprisingly, it is one of my son's as well.  Couple that with the fact that it is relatively quick to prepare, these dishes lend themselves to leftovers as well, which is always a big plus, and you have a staple in our house.  I found the original recipe a bit plain.  Not that there weren't good flavors, but I wanted something else on my taco besides chicken and crema. I think of tacos as one dish meals and I want lots of veggies on them.  I added lettuce, last night leftover avocado, and cilantro.  Much better.  I think I would have liked onions too, but I wasn't chopping them.  This first picture is of my way; the picture down by the recipe is the original.

Chipotle-Lime Chicken TacosYield: 4 Servings

      1    bone-in,skin-on whole chicken, rinsed and dried
           Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
      1    lime,zested and juiced (lime halves reserved)
    1/4 c  water
      1 c  crema
      2    chipotle chilies in adobo sauce,finely minced into a paste
      8    (6-inch) corn tortillas warmed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Generously season the chicken, on the outside and inside of the cavity,
with salt and pepper, to taste. With your fingers, put some of the lime
zest under the skin of the chicken. Sprinkle the lime juice over the
chicken and put the halves into the cavity. Put the chicken in a
roasting pan, breast side up, and add 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of
the pan. Roast the chicken until the internal temperature registers 165
degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, when inserted in the thickest
part of the thigh.
Remove the chicken from the oven to a carving board, let sit until cool
enough to handle.
In a small bowl, combine the crema, minced chipotles, remaining lime
zest, and salt and pepper, to taste.
Once the chicken has cooled, pull the meat from bones and shred.
Put some of the shredded chicken on each tortilla, top with chipotle
crema and garnish with some zest from the remaining lime. Serve with
lime wedges.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mexican Tortas With Black Beans And Chorizo

Tonight we get to try a Rick Bayless recipe.   I'm so excited!!! It was all I thought it would be. It was simple and amazing.  I don't like to mess with a master but I did change the recipe a tad.  We didn't care for the pickled jalapenos, so we took them off.  I don't have a Latin market nearby so I used hoagie rolls from the bakery. The biggest divergence was we added fresh cilantro to the sandwiches, YUM!  The beans are so amazingly tasty, we are very sad that there are so few of them left., (I'm looking at you my dear. TWO sandwiches?!) On the bright side, really easy to make, so we can have them again any time:)

Mexican Tortas With Black Beans And ChorizoYield: 4 Servings

      1 T  vegetable oil,plus more for brushing
    1/2 lb fresh Mexican chorizo casings removed
      2    fifteen ounce cans black beans,drained
           Salt and freshly ground pepper
      4    Mexican bolillo or telera rolls (see Note),or kaiser rolls, split
      4    ounces fresh goat cheese softened
      1    Hass avocado,thinly sliced
           Shredded romaine lettuce and sliced pickled jalapeños,for garnish
[Note: Tortas are like Mexican hoagies. In this easy recipe, Rick
Bayless spices black beans with crumbly Mexican chorizo, then spreads
the mixture on soft Mexican bolillo rolls. Kaiser rolls also work well.
Our Pairing Suggestion Foods as rich and earthy as black beans and
chorizo might work well with a lighter-style Bergundy Pinot Noir, but
these tortas are probably best with a cool, malty Mexican beer like
Negra Modelo or Dos Equis Amber.
1. In a large skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the
chorizo and cook over moderate heat, stirring to break up any lumps,
until the meat is browned and no trace of pink remains, about 10
minutes. Add the beans and, using a potato masher, mash until creamy.
Cook, stirring often, until hot, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and
pepper, cover and keep warm.
2. Heat a griddle or large skillet over moderately high heat. Using
your hands, pull out some of the bread from the centers of the rolls to
create a small cavity. Brush the cut sides of the rolls with vegetable
oil. Transfer the rolls, cut sides down, to the griddle and cook until
toasted, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook for about 1 minute longer,
until slightly crisp. Transfer to a work surface, cut sides up.
3. Spread the tops of the bolillo rolls with the goat cheese. Spread
the bottoms with 2 cups of the mashed black beans; reserve the
remaining beans for another use. Top the beans with the avocado,
lettuce and pickled jalapeos. Close the sandwiches, cut in half and
Make Ahead The chorizo-and-black-bean filling can be refrigerated for
up to 2 days. Reheat gently before using. Notes Bolillo and telera
rolls, the two classic breads for Mexican tortas, are 6-inch-long oval
rolls that are similar to hoagies or soft baguettes; telera rolls are
slightly flat. Both types of rolls are available at Latin supermarkets.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cod With Artichokes And Chickpeas

I happen to love this recipe.  My husband and son have never raved about it before.  They are not the biggest fan of  the veggies, but they love the fish. (And they said it was perfectly cooked. (Blush)) I didn't change it much, but I did make a few alterations.  I added a bit more veggies. I also only used 5 oz fish fillets and only three of them.  I added the garlic  a little later than called for too. I went light on the salt because I didn't know how salty it would be once the broth reduced.  I figured we could add at the table.  My husband and I skipped it even though a sprinkle would have been nice.  The boy however wanted salt.  We usually sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt if needed.  That salt was out of his reach; the shaker was not however.  He WAY over salted his.  My husband kept saying, " I hope you learned your less son."  I don't think he did!

Cod With Artichokes And Chickpeas
Yield: 4 Servings

2 T  Unsalted butter
1/4 c  extra virgin olive oil
1    small white onion,[or 4  shallots] sliced 1/2 inch thick
One 9oz box of artichoke hearts thawed and pressed dry
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms,stems
  removed and quartered [or more]
2    carrots cut into ½ inch pieces
2    garlic cloves,thinly sliced
One 15oz can of chickpeas drained
1 c  of chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 T  chopped flat leaf parsley
2 T  snipped chives
4    six oz cod filets
Lemon wedges for serving
[Note: Wine: Crisp Gruner Veltliner from Austria  ]
1.In a large skillet, melt the  butter and 2 tbsp of the olive oil.
Add the onion, artichokes, shiitakes, carrots and garlic.  Cook over
moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 7
minutes.  Add the chickpeas and stock, season with salt and pepper, and
bring to a boil.  Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender
and the liquid is nearly evaporated, 5minutes.  Stir in the parsley and
chives and keep warm.
2.In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil
until almost smoking.  [coat the fish with flour] season the cod with
salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook over high heat until well
browned on the bottom, about 6 minutes.  Carefully flip the fish and
cook until they are white through, about another 36 minutes.
3.Spoon the veggies into shallow bowls and top with seared cod fillets.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scallop And Corn Bacon Burgers With Spicy Mayo

Well tonight's scallop burger was really tasty, but really messy!  I did not cook it on a grill.  (something that would have been a viritual impossibility!)  I cooked the patties in a saute pan with butter.  They fell apart when flipped.  I don't see how they could have cooked on a grill without some kind of binder.  I did diverge from the recipe in that I used bay scallops instead of the sea scallops, but for $6 more a pound, I figured I'm pureeing them;  they didn't need to be large.  I can't see how that would affect the way the burgers were bound together. I also halved the recipe, but since I kept the proportions the same, I don't see how that would have affected them.  They were prepared well in advance, so the patties were well chilled and should have set.  I didn't have tabasco, so I used crystal and a dash or two of a homade chipotle hot sauce.  I would have liked the mayo a bit spicier, but that is just me.  I had another of those: damn I watch too much Top Chef and (at the same time) damn, my 10 year old son is cool moments.  As my boy is eating the ends of his burger that had crumbled and fallen out of the bun (and it is a lot), he asks me, "May I have some more spicy mayo for my deconstructed patty?"  Oh my, we got a good laugh at that, but at the same time, we are pretty proud.  I am reminded of the time he took a big wiff of a stir fry I had made and he says, "do I detect  notes of purple cabbage?"  (Yes we watch too much food oriented programing, but I love that he likes it too!) Well, at the end of the meal, we all decided we would make this again ( I mean, SCALLOPS, BACON and CORN!).  However, we will need to either tweek the recipe so that the patty stays "constructed", or we will just have to rename it;).

Scallop And Corn Bacon Burgers With Spicy Mayo
Yield: 6 Servings

    1/2 c  mayonnaise
      3 T  ketchup
           Tabasco sauce
           Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
      3    ears of corn,shucked
  1 1/2 lb sea scallops,coarsely chopped
           Vegetable oil
      6    soft hamburger buns,split
      6    lettuce leaves
      6    thick tomato slices
     12 slices cooked thick-cut bacon
[Note: Scallops make incredibly juicy burgers despite their low fat content. Marcia Kiesel adds corn to her scallop burgers for a bit of
sweetness and crunch. To keep the burgers moist,   don't overcook them; there should be a thin layer of barely cooked scallop at the center.]
1. In a small bowl, blend the mayonnaise with the ketchup. Season with Tabasco, salt and pepper. Refrigerate.
2. In a medium saucepan of boiling water, cook the corn until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly. Working
over the plate, cut the kernels from the cobs; you'll need 1 1/2 cups of corn kernels.
3. In a food processor, process 3/4 cup of the corn kernels to a paste. Add one-third of the scallops, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2
teaspoon of pepper and process to a paste. Add the remaining scallops and process until just blended; there should be small lumps of scallop
in the mixture. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the remaining 3/4 cup of corn kernels. With oiled hands, pat the mixture
into burgers, then cover and refrigerate them until ready to grill.
4. Light a grill. Toast the hamburger buns over a medium-hot fire, about 10 seconds. Brush the scallop burgers with vegetable oil and
grill them over a medium-hot fire until they are nicely charred and barely cooked in the center, about 4 minutes per side.
5. Spread a thin layer of spicy mayonnaise on both halves of the buns. Place the lettuce and tomato slices on the bottom halves and top with
the scallop burgers. Top each burger with 2 slices of bacon. Close the sandwiches and serve at once with the remaining spicy mayonnaise on the

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Cookout with Friends

Well tonight I had it so easy!  My darling friend and their wonderful family invited the clan over for a cookout.  We had some delicious burgers, beans, cheesy cauliflower, veggies, chips and a ton of other things that I can only assumed were cooked for the army that didn't show up.  I felt like a total slacker only showing up with a bottle of wine, chocolate cake and Prosciutto and fontina pinwheels.  (I forgot my husband's beer, but they kindly provided theirs:)  Since I bought the cake from the always wonderful Publix bakery (I am no baker) and since I did not bottle the wine, I can only provide the recipe to the pinwheels.  I wanted to make something for tonight, so I looked on the F & W website.  I found this recipe under the make ahead appetizers.  It was pretty tasty.  I think I need to perfect my technique.  They didn't puff, and I expected them too.  (they are made from PUFF pastry after all)  I like this recipe because it was super easy and I can see it working well with many fillings so long as they aren't too moist. Forgive me the crappy picture, I forgot all about taking a picture until there was one lonely one left.  I am excited about this recipe becasue I love make ahead, on hand party treats.

Prosciutto-Fontina Pinwheels
      1    Fourteen ounce package all-butter puff pastry,thawed if frozen    -but still cold
      3    ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
    3/4 c  shredded Fontina cheese
           Freshly ground pepper
      1    egg beaten with 1 1/2 teaspoons of water
1. On a floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 10 1/2-
by-15- inch rectangle; halve lengthwise. Top the halves with the
prosciutto and Fontina, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the far edge of
each piece. Season with pepper. Starting at the near edge, tightly roll
the halves of pastry into logs. Brush the borders with the egg wash and
pinch to seal. Transfer the logs to a large baking sheet and freeze for
30 minutes until firm.
2. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 log
at a time, trim the uneven ends. Cut the log crosswise 1/4 inch thick.
Set the pinwheels 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Freeze until
firm.  Preheat the oven to 375. Bake the pinwheels for 20 minutes,
until golden. Cut the remaining logs, then freeze and bake the
pinwheels; serve.
Make Ahead The frozen sliced pinwheels can be transferred to a
resealable plastic bag and frozen for up to 1 month.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Spaghetti With Sun-Dried-Tomato-Almond Pesto

Tonight's recipe was one we have made once before.  I loved it last time, but this time I dumped too much pasta into the sauce, almost the whole box, when it should have been 3/4 of the box.  Not having enough sauce made it a bit bland.  I will make it again, but I will make sure I don't over do the pasta.  I made the bread crumbs from the rest of a baguette we didn't finish. ( Tip:Any bread you don't finish works great like this.  I put them in freezer until I need them.) This dish is lightning fast to make!

 Spaghetti With Sun-Dried-Tomato-Almond Pesto
4 Servings
    1/2 c  drained oil-packed -sun-dried tomatoes (3 ounces)
    1/3 c  salted roasted almonds
      1    large garlic clove,sliced
    1/2 c  extra-virgin olive oil,plus more for drizzling
           Salt and freshly ground
    1/2 c  fresh bread crumbs
     12    ounces spaghetti
      2 T  chopped parsley
1. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes, almonds and garlic. Add
1/4 cup of the oil and puree. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a skillet, toast the bread crumbs in 2 tablespoons of the oil,
stirring, until golden. Transfer the crumbs to a plate; season with
salt and pepper.
3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al
dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. In the pot, toss
the pasta with the pesto, reserved cooking water and remaining 2
tablespoons of oil until the sauce clings to the pasta. Transfer the
pasta to bowls, sprinkle with the bread crumbs and parsley and drizzle
with olive oil. Serve.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Salmon with Thai Rice Salad

Well tonight my family had this.  It is a favorite of the boys. I, however, went out with some of the girls to the Ormond Wine Co.  We had lots of great cheeses, flatbreads and wine.  We were loud and laughed too much but don't really care.  It was just too much fun!  I did prep everything for the dish in advance.  That way my husband only had to cook the rice and salmon when they were ready to eat.  It is a nice dish because it is easy, light and great for summer because it isn't really hot.  It is fairly low fat and it is fairly low calorie.  My husband did NOT take a picture so I get to give him lots of grief which is in its self its own reward;)

 Salmon With Thai Rice Salad
 4 Servings

  1 1/2 c  long-grain rice
      3 T  lime juice (from about 2 limes)
      3 T  Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
      2 T  cooking oil
  3 1/2 t  sugar
      Pinch cayenne
      1    cucumber,peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cubed
      3    carrots,grated
      4    scallions including green tops,chopped
      6 T  chopped cilantro or fresh parsley (use the cilantro.  its a must)
      2 lb skinless center-cut salmon fillet,cut into 4 pieces
    1/4 t  salt
    1/4 t  fresh-ground black pepper
[Note: Asian fish sauce is available at Asian markets and many
supermarkets.    ]
1.Stir the rice into a medium pot of boiling, salted water and cook
until just done, about 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water and
drain thoroughly.
2.In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the lime juice,
fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the sugar, and cayenne. Let sit
for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, cucumber, carrots, scallions,
and cilantro.
3.Heat the broiler. Oil a broiler pan or baking sheet. Coat the salmon
with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with the salt and
pepper. Put the salmon on the pan. Broil until just barely done (the
fish should still be translucent in the center), about 5 minutes for a
1-  inch-thick fillet. Put the rice salad on plates and top with the