Friday, January 13, 2017

Champagne Shrimp Bisque (when you don't have the exact ingredients)

Image result for champagne shrimp bisque 

 Two weeks ago, at the Fangman's, Lori made this soup for dinner. It was delicious and it was meatless day so I decided to make it also.

The original recipe from The Cottage Journal looks like this:

Makes about 6 cups

4 tablespoons butter
½ cup minced shallots
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups clam juice
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 pound
Medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Champagne or other dry sparkling wine
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
Garnish: Gruyère cheese, chives
1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Gradually whisk in clam juice and stock; bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. (At this point, soup can be refrigerated up to 3 days.)
2. Cut shrimp into ¼-inch pieces. Over medium-low heat, add cream and Champagne. Return soup to a simmer, and slowly whisk in cheese ¼ cup at a time, letting melt between additions. Stir in chives and shrimp, and cook for 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Garnish with shredded Gruyère and chives.
Note: Clam juice can be replaced with chicken stock for a milder flavor.

Tom's pantry version

 Not having  some of ingredients I subbed a few things with a pretty good outcome. The soup was velvety and smooth with a great flavor.

Firstly, Clam Juice. Well you can buy it bottled but what are you going to do with all those shrimp shells?  You are buying shrimp in the shell right? It tastes the best and has the best texture so once thawed and peeled, reserve those shells.

In a saucepan, place a medium onion, unpeeled, cut if half. Also a few stalks of celery, a chopped carrot or two, half a head of garlic cut in half along the equator and you shrimp shells. Cover with cold water, add some salt and a few peppercorns and in about 30 mins you have a quart of shrimp stock!

Next champagne? Well I did have a cup of a dry Chardonnay as a sub.

2 Cups of Gruyere? How about 2-3 slices of processed Swiss (melts better) and a little Parmesan to round out the edges?

I also subbed onion for the shallot, minced. Now just make the recipe with the substitutions.

I found the roux to be perfect for the amount of fluid listed and I used all Shrimp stock and it was great. Of course I had dried chives but they reconstituted well in the process. Taste along the way to make sure you headed the right direction. This was a great meal but lesser without of friends.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ravioli Soup and family

Every year about this time we venture west to Brenda's folks and have a quiet dinner and gathering. This year, besides the Stromboli, which is required to cross the county line, I brought a soup recommended by Lori last week. Ravioli Soup uses frozen ravioli but the rest is on me. Cooking for about 8 this will feed all with leftovers. The recipe for stromboli is elsewhere on the blog, explore.

Ravioli Soup

2 pounds of sausage I used Jimmie Deans and an Italian bulk  sausage
Medium or large onion chopped
5 cloves minced garlic or more
5 cans of tomatoes  I used all diced but a few cans of sauce would have been best. 2 large can of Hunts Spaghetti sauce would have hit the mark too.
2 quarts chicken stock
1 tbls oregano
1 tbls basil
Salt and pepper
8 ounces mozzarella shredded I used whole milk
A few cups torn spinach leaves
2 bags of  frozen mini cheese ravioli

Brown the sausage and drain the excess fat leaving enough to saute the onions then the garlic. Add the tomatoes, stock and spices let simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To assemble, bring soup to a rolling boil. Pre heat the broiler. Place a handful of spinach in each heat proof bowl lined up on baking sheets.  Drop ravioli in soup and cook till they float and puff a bit. Ladle into bowls over spinach then top with shredded mozzarella. Broil till bubbly and a little brown. Serve.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Started the day early this year. Made my popover batter and let it rest in the fridge. The results were magnificent. Thank you Serious Eats for all the tips and techniques!

Then I placed my NY Strip roast in the Sous Vide and we went to church. About 5 or so I took out the roast and hit it with my new toy, the Searzall!

Nick gave me escargot plates for Christmas so we had christen those with some Shrimps and cheese with garlic butter and a baguette left from last night. Just the three of us this year, we had a quite feast while missing the boys but what a feast it was. I made Bearnaise and Brenda made horseradish cream for the beef. Gene's potatoes, from my sister's brother in law's recipe and buttered green beans. So much food left in the house we can eat for a week!. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Eve with Friends....

Our usual fare for this day is a Sausage and Tortellini soup that we love but we have loved it for the last 5 or 6 years so it is time to move on. Normally the Orthodox fast this time of year but sadly we do not participate that much. We have a family and friend tradition which we have done for many years that involves our oldest and dearest friends, Jeff and Michale as well as Bob and Kim and whatever child is not working that day. In this case Mackenize, Nick and Jill will be present we hope.

So this year I searched my soul and Pintrest and found a Chicken and Mushroom soup that looked tasty so I made atrial run last weekend and it was delicious! Onward and upward. So here is the recipe we will be making this weekend:

 Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

by DamnDelicious below.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup half and half, or more, as needed*
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary


  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and rosemary, if desired.
Original link here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Desserts are ...Me

I started looking at some new things to make and one was this Kringle deal that King Arthur flour was promoting. So light and tasty and very little sugar....who know?

Almond Kringle
Basically this bad boy is just a butter pie crust topped with cream puff pastry and then dressed up with jam and toasted almonds.  wow that was good and it did not last long at work.

Almond Kringle  from King Arthur flour

First Layer

Second Layer

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter*
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature; warm them, in the shell, in hot tap water for 10 minutes if they're cold from the fridge
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • *If you're using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt.


  • 2/3 cup jam or preserves
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted in a 350°F oven for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until they're a light, golden brown


  • 1/2 cup confectioners' or glazing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 teaspoons milk or water (approximately)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a large cookie sheet.
  2. First layer: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the butter, flour, and salt (if you're using it), working the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or fork, your fingers, or a mixer. Mix until everything is crumbly, then stir in the water. The dough will become cohesive, though not smooth.
  3. Divide the dough in half; if you're using a scale, each half will weigh about 4 5/8 ounces. Wet your hands, and shape each piece of this wet dough into a rough log. Pat the logs into 10" x 3" rectangles on the sheet, leaving at least 4" (but preferably 6") between them, and 2" on each side. These puff up in the oven (hence the name), and you need to leave them room for expansion.
  4. Second layer: In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil. Stir until the butter melts, then add the flour (and salt, if you're using it) all at once. Stir the mixture with a spoon till it thickens, begins to steam, and leaves the sides of the pan; this will happen very quickly.
  5. Transfer the stiff batter to a mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat it at medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just to cool it down a bit.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat until the batter loses its "slimy" look, and each egg is totally absorbed.
  7. Mix in the almond extract.
  8. Divide the batter in half. Spread half the batter over one of the dough strips on the pan, covering it completely. Repeat with the remaining batter and dough.
  9. With a spatula (or your wet fingers) spread the batter until it completely covers the entire bottom layer of dough. Smooth it out as best you can.
  10. Bake the pastry for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's a deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and transfer each pastry to a wire rack.
  11. Topping: Spread each warm pastry with about 1/3 cup of jam or preserves. (Any flavor is fine, but our favorites are raspberry and apricot.)
  12. Sprinkle the toasted almonds atop the jam. By this time, your beautifully puffed pastries are probably starting to sink; don't worry, this is all part of the plan.
  13. Icing: Stir together the sugar, vanilla, and enough milk or water to form a thick but "drizzlable" icing.
  14. Drizzle the icing atop the pastries.
  15. Cut into squares or strips to serve.

Then I got a wild hair the other day and got off the sofa at 8 p.m. to make some pizzelles . I love the little iron we have and it makes 2 at a time. So thin and crispy but this year...gingerbread! I get mixed reviews with he traditional Anise flavored cookies but these were fantastic!

Gingerbread Pizzelles

 Gingerbread Pizzelles

6 eggs
1 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 c molasses
1 c butter, melted
4 tsp baking powder
4 c flour
Mix together the eggs and sugar.  Mix in the spices and molasses.  Mix in the melted butter and then the baking powder.  Finally add the flour and mix well.  Bake the batter in your pizzelle iron and let cool.  The flavor is best a few days after they are made.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Something old...something new

This year we pretty much did the same old delicious idea but with some new faces in the crowd. At work we have several traveling staff that sadly are on call over the holidays as part of their service. I simply cannot let folks eat alone while we have plenty so I extended an invitation and they came. So excited!
Seating for 12-15

Spatchcocked bird with a dry brine and baking powder rub down. One of 2 birds for about 30 pounds of turkey.

Plenty of room and food.   
We enjoyed a full house, dinner in the kitchen so we could all sit together, and a super crispy bird that I smeared with baking powder before roasting. The rest of the meal was standard fare but the company mix of family and friends was so nice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Eating Omaha....Tavern 180

Yes! Such a cool place, albeit a little pricey but you can pick and choose a reasonable dinner from all the fine selections.

The menus took a bit of getting used to as they came on tablets but they had nice photos of all the offerings which just made it harder to choose. For starters Old Fashion's Brenda ordered a Vanilla and I had a plain. The only flaw in the evening is they were out of bitters.

Next up was an array of great looking appetizers but we opted for soup or salad. The Seafood Bisque came topped with a puff pastry crust high on the bowl that added buttery goodness to the creamy filling soup underneath. The Bisque was spot on. I have a Caesar Salad that was great. Brenda ordered a house salad with her soup. I have a Cajun Seafood Pasta. Bob and Kim ordered the Parmesan Chicken and Shrimp and Crab Stack Salad respectively. All of it was great and we ran into 2 sets of friends while there. The star of the show was a basket of  tiny rolls laced with Asiago cheese that I had to mind my manners to keep them all for myself.

Service was prompt and courteous and attentive. And patient,  as we struggled a bit with the menus.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Welcome Home Food

No tortellini added yet as they will suck up the broth. I will add the tortellini just before I jar it up for the gift bag.

Brenda has been planning a nice welcome home for the ladies ever since they left for Europe. Apparently nothing says 'Welcome home' like a batch of dear old dad's Chicken and Tortellini soup, according to Mackenzie.

Mackenzie and her bud, Amanda have been in Europe nearly 3 weeks traveling to Ireland, the UK, Amersterdam and finally Paris where the temps have been dipping in the 30's. She texted her desire for some warm comfort on her arrival in the form of this Chicken Soup. I can hardly ever say no to this little girl.

The hard part was done as I had a large tub of frozen broth I made from dozens of wing tips and chicken trimmings. I used a Tyler Florence recipe several times the last few years that uses ground chicken formed into meatballs with tortellini instead of noodles and finally garnished with a bit of Parmesan cheese. The spice palate is decidedly Italian with the meatballs seasoned with an array of Italian herbs.

The world travelers will be greeted with some fresh groceries, flowers and a mason jar full of homestyle comfort and some fresh homemade bread upon arrival. So nice to have these two back safe and sound after a great adventure. What a great Mom to be prepared for them after their long journey.

The recipe is under the soup tab titled 'Not your Mamas Chicken Soup' Enjoy.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Eating Omaha...Smitty's Garage

After services on Saturday, we wanted to try this new hamburger joint. Not sure what to expect, it was a cross between fast food and sports bar. Serving lots of liquor and a ton of burgers. The burgers were tasty and the menu extensive. Self service at the front, they give you a number and deliver to your table. Mostly booths and high tops, we sat a a high top as it was quite busy being a Husker weekend and there was nothing on the floor.

You can pick your patty from beef, bison or turkey (they have vegan also) and then a pre set combo of ingredients. I opted for the Spicy Siracha Blue burger and picked a few of the grilled jalapeno's off as it was a bit much for that spice late in the evening. I would not be able to lay down to sleep.  It was grilled perfectly and the combo was savory, spicy and satisfying. John had the Bison burger and was happy as were all of the members of our party. The sides were fries and they had sweet potato fries as well. Not a huge fry guy personally, these were OK. Skin on but not as crisp as I like.

Brenda bought the ladies a Moscow Mule, a first time treat for Dora and Debbie. Apparently a big hit, Brenda said the Ginger beer used was especially tasty. We sat and talked, watched the humiliating defeat of the Husker's, we left at halftime and headed for home. Great night, great burger.

Eating Omaha....Stroud's

It was a crazy eating out weekend for the Denich's starting with Stroud's, the home of pan fried chicken. A chain from KC that features fried chicken in a kind of family style atmosphere.

The atmosphere was great and we got there just in time as the crowd rolled in about 6. Simply a new spot in Omaha, it took over a former restaurant by Village Point.

The menu was a little confusing but basically, you choose your entree, various chicken piece combinations and a few sides which are brought out family style. I chose the 3 breast meal and took a full 2 breasts home. Brenda had the salad with a huge portion of chicken on it which she took quite a bit home. Jeff and Michale had other combinations and it was a really good. As good as Millard Roadhouse but more expensive.  I would give a two thumbs up but probably hit the Roadhouse for this type of meal.  The finishing salvo was an order of cinnamon rolls that come with each meal. we had them bring them to us last and bagged them for home as we were just too full. They were great too but no quite what we expected. The service was fantastic and personable.


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