Monday, May 2, 2016

Post Paschal Feasting

After the end of services early Sunday Morning, we stayed for dinner at the church and some turkey and ham. Not exactly the traditional post Greek fest but it was welcomed after the long fast.

On Sunday we had Mackenzie and friends over as well as Ben who came into town. I made marinated Lamb kabobs, lamb burgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, and Greek style chicken as well as a bunch of sides. Funny, I have no photos of food at all but it was delicious and everyone seemed to have their fill.

The decorated Tomb (kouvouklion) that houses the Epithaphio (burial icon of Christ)

The service had a new twist this year and Father had several languages printed in the service book but the service quickly lost momentum as we stumbled over the foreign tongues and didn't have that swelling joy that we have experienced in the past. A little anti climatic. 

We had already experienced an unusual Lent being gone almost all of Holy week in Las Vegas and breaking the fast early. It really seemed to make a difference to us and we were sorry it had to be this way this year. Perhaps it was just that felt off this year but this isn't our last Lent.

The whole clan minus Nicholas. We miss him a lot but he is almost done with his schooling and will rejoin the festivities we hope. Mackenzie asked her work buddies to come help us celebrate and they have some really adorable little ones to liven up the party.




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Another Easter Sunday Dinner for those of us still in Lent

I am surprised how lonely it felt this year with Pascha being so far off the American calendar. Normally when my Dad was alive we would celebrate the day with a huge crab and shrimp feast since we were still in the Great Fast. This year, Mackenzie suggested we do the same though it was just the three of us. We had a great dinner last night and we love getting together with Mackenzie any chance we get but without the boys here and for whatever reason I really just miss my Dad this time of year.

It was weird seeing all the stores closed and not business as usual as one might expect.It was nice to see commerce put on hold and not subverted as Christmas seems to have fallen prey to crass commercialism.

A few years back we had a Big Fat Pascha Celebration at the house and invited friends and neighbors but it was short lived as we came to realize that no one else but other Orthodox share in the joy of the celebration and it made no sense to them why we put on such a meat fest. We spent the last 50 days or so abstaining from foods but no one else had so they really didn't get it. Then the fact we were celebrating the Resurrection when they had all done so weeks earlier kind of deflated the whole idea.

So some of the things I learned from our journey this year so far:

We (Brenda and I) are minor participants this year due to circumstances that will take us out of town during Holy Week so we feel a bit disconnected. We have not been able to attend a Pre Sanctified service this year. I have not served the altar for a year now so it feels a bit out of whack.

The AHEPA organization conducted their Fish Fry during the regular season of Lent so we are left out for the rest of our Fast.

Discussions with several others of different faiths revealed that we don't share the same zeal and joy of the Passion. In our faith it is really a big deal but others, not so much, at least I didn't feel any real excitement.  Most folks I spoke with are completely oblivious to the Liturgical cycle that leads to the feast. I saw mega church celebrations with rock concerts and entertainment at major venues and re enactments of the Passion in modern times on TV. None of it rang particularly true for me.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Making Hummus

Making good on my promise,  I made some hummus this week. My goal was to make it as smooth and creamy as possible and not mess with the flavors too much, trying to keep it pure.

I researched a bunch of recipes and investigated a few techniques and decided I would have to make my own tahini paste as well.  Firstly because tahini is crazy expensive and I just don't need a quart of it.

So the tahini came first

About 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, pan toasted
plain oil

I placed the toasted seeds in the food processor and whirled them to a stiff paste before adding enough oil to make it pour-able. Once pour-able I pressed it through a strainer just to take out some of the skins. Tahini done. So easy.

Now the hummus was a little harder and took a bit longer. I had already soaked a pound of dry chickpeas overnight, rubbed them between my hands to get most of the skins off so they stayed out of my final product.

When I got home form work, I started cooking the chickpeas till tender (about 40 minutes). I reserved 1/2 of them in a freezer bag for a layer batch.

The rest when into the processor for a spin with some of the cooking liquid to thin it out a bit. All in all about 1 cup or more of the liquid. 

I added 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 peeled cloves of garlic, a little salt and the juice of 2 lemons with 1/2 the tahini paste I made. Now I really let the food processor go for a few minutes adding more liquid as needed till it was the consistency I wanted. It was smooth but not silky. I am not sure I have enough power in these tools to make silky happen. After I scooped into a bowl I got out my trusty hand blender and that took it up a level. Not perfect but darn good.  I might invest in a chinois to press it through.

Hummus

juice 2 lemons
1 pound chickpeas, soaked overnight, cooked till tender, most skins removed
2 cloves of garlic peeled
salt
1/4 cup tahini paste
Olive oil
Reserved cooking liquid







Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Simple fresh kick lately

Yesterday I played a little hookie and left work to enjoy a nice lunch with my lovely bride at El Basha. The hummus was enough to slap your mama so now I am obsessed with recreating this puree of the gods the way they make it, extra creamy and smooth.

  But tonight, as I soak and skin my chick peas, I made Lime Cilantro Shrimp Salad. So fresh and totally delicious.


 1 pound cooled cooked shrimp chopped in 3 pieces
  2 ripe avocados, cubed
  2 hard boiled eggs sliced
 2 fresh limes sqeezed
 2 cloves minced garlic
 pinch of sugar
 salt and pepper
Olive oil about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Croutons

  I served this over a bed of lettuce.











Thursday, March 3, 2016

Relish Magazine recipe

In yesterday's paper a recipe caught my eye after a discussion this morning about a easy dinner tonight. We will be eating richly tomorrow so we wanted to take it a little easy tonight. I found this recipe and it looks good. I will make it and let you know how it goes. Since I just recently bought a jar of pesto....

Skillet Pesto Chicken

1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds bite size boneless chicken
3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 c pesto
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 c heavy cream
salt and pepper
3 tbsp Parmesan

Combine flour and cayenne in a zip bag and add the chicken pieces, shake to coat.

Heat oil over medium and add chicken, turning occasionally till browned. Remove and keep warm.

Add butter to pan  then add mushrooms and cook till golden, return chicken and add pesto, broth and cream. stir to combine and allow to thicken for a few minutes over medium heat.

Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle Parmesan over all. Serve over rice or noodles or side salad. 





Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekend in DesMoines

We were supposed to discuss our upcoming vacation to Maine but Matt's job denied his vacation so it looks like just you and me darling.

We went to DesMoines on Friday at the Fangman's request to spend a little extra time (I know, who knew? I thought I was a pain in the a$$ but they like me, they really like me!)  We got there mid Friday evening to cocktails and snacks and Matt's sister and brother in law were there along with the 3 boys. So nice to see the McEntees and all the fellas.

The Fangman's have a way of making us feel like family literally and we were greeted with this:

The weekend was relaxed with a trip to West End Architectural Salvage in downtown DesMoines.  we spent the morning browsing 4 floors of junk and treasures then off to a late lunch.  Lori cooked a nice meal and invited the McEntees to join us. Lots of laughter and way too much information then up for a lovely Sunday breakfast and back to Omaha.

I'm gonna miss them in Maine....


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Steak Pasta and Ben's Birthday

Our schedule was a little wonky this week. Ben came into town for a grad school interview and it was his birthday. We could not hit his favorite restaurant, J. Coco's but we managed to catch a meal at The Millard Roadhouse for fried chicken which was on my pre Lenten bucket list so we killed 2 birds.

Since I was cooking last night I decided to make one of his favorite Dad recipe dishes, Steak Pasta.  I had to do a little shopping and found some nice Rib eye steaks to use for the meat portion and it turns out to be a  great choice. I will use Rib eye from now on. Tender and perfectly cooked when added to the rich sauce. I have posted this recipe before but failed to take a photo of it again so he it is without photos.

Steak pasta for 4

I used a pound of rib eyes (2 steaks) pre salted
Olive oil
8 ounces Cremini mushrooms sliced thick
1 tbs butter
1/2 cup white wine

1 cup or more of heavy cream
2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
4-5 ounces of halved cherry tomatoes
3 ounces crumbled blue cheese
3 ounces shaved Parmesan

1 pound Fettuccine pasta, cooked and drained

Starting with a  screaming hot cast iron skillet, I coated it with a thin layer of olive oil then added the salted steaks and seared each side for a few minutes till nicely browned and crusted. About a medium rare, I set them aside on a plate.

I added a tablespoon of butter and added the mushrooms and let them get some color. A little extra olive oil was added to keep them going then I set them aside. I de-glazed the pan with the white wine.

Meanwhile I trimmed and cut the steak into bite sized pieces removing the fat. 

The cream was put into the pan with the crushed garlic cloves.  After the cream came to a boil, I added the tomatoes and cheeses. Cook for a minute then add back the mushrooms with juices and steak chunks with juices. Let heat thru then serve over cooked pasta and top with blue cheese crumbles. The steak ends up a nice medium and very tender.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Anniversary of Our Engagement

Every year, for no particular reason but as long as I can recall, we celebrate our engagement of the day Brenda got her ring.  I always say she was too excited to wait till Valentines Day but the reality is I was probably too excited to give it to her.

So being both nurses, we of course were rarely on the same shift. One night while I was home and an ambitious young man, I made homemade fettuccine pasta with Alfredo sauce and happened upon a package of thinly sliced veal so I paired the pasta with Veal Saltimbocca. I am not sure where I got the recipe but have never been a hesitant cook so...it was definitely pre-internet though so must have been a print book I had in my possession. I had a lot of cookbooks and real fascination with the culinary arts.

For the last 30 odd years I have made this dish every February 9th without exception but for one lean year where I could not find veal for the life of me. Now I buy it all up whenever I see it on sale and freeze it.
Just pounded the veal,  dredged in flour with a helping of sage, prosciutto and provolone cheese a top. Plenty of butter to fry it all up.  Usually we have broccoli but we were out so Brussels sprouts made a soggy appearance (a bit over cooked in the microwave I am afraid.)  Paired with a nice red, it is a nostalgic meal for us. I believe the first was served post shift, on the deck at a little bistro set we had with candles and the whole romantic silliness of young love that has obviously endured the decades.

Here's to you dear...cin cin! 
We had these portraits done for our 25th and lost them. There are just a few scans I can find.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sous Vide Steaks

I know I have posted Sous Vide before so don't act like you don't know what I am talking about. This weekend we were bored with nothing to do so we bought a couple of bone-in KC Strip steaks to place in the sous vide oven.

This time I let them go for close to 6 hours for a bit of tenderizing and then seared them off in a iron skillet.

I served them up with a little Artichoke Gratin. We found cheap frozen artichoke hearts at Trader Joe's and have been using them like this. Makes a nice side dish.  Basically saute them till the get a little crispy in some olive oil with slices of garlic then douse them with some white wine and cover them in seasoned bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. I placed this under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese and get it golden brown. Yum.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Breads and not baking any...

So sadly, I don't bake much bread these days. Mostly because my expanding waistline protests and it raises my blood sugar to new heights and I like my feet so plan to keep them.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I realize there are a lot of photos of breads I have made which for one reason or another, I did not post.  So here are some pics of the ones that made me proud....

We were having subs this day. I have been baking hamburger buns, kaiser rolls and whatever we need for the meal that day.

Finally! Look at that crumb...


Sadly these rarely make it off the cooling rack before being consumed

Kaiser rolls? There are no rules here

I use parchment paper as a couche and just put it in the oven to bake.

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