Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup and Parmesan Crusted Grilled Cheese

Yes, I made tomato soup again but this time all red tomatoes, roasted with garlic and frozen in their juice late in the summer
I nuked them to thaw slightly and added them to a chopped sauteed onion. I used my trusty immersion blender to pulverize the veggies then added a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of cream and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan.
I thinned it down with some skim milk and added 1 teaspoon of habanero sauce. Mix it all and give a final whir of the blender then leave it on low heat while you make the sandwiches.

For the grilled cheese I melted 2 teaspoons of butter in a skillet and placed 2 slices of bread. Top the bread with a slice of American and a slice of Muenster then the second slice of bread. Turn the sandwich after sneaking more butter in the pan and top with grated Parmesan. Turn again and top the last side and turn to melt. Serve along side the soup. Great dipping!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuffed Pumpkin

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

What to do first:

Preheat oven to 350 degree. The pumpkin takes about 2 hours to cook.

Cut the top off a 3-pound pumpkin, as you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern style and clean out the insides. Hang on to the lid.
What you need:

1 T olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned
2 cloves garlic
4 oz. mushrooms
4 oz. monterey jack, 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz. sharp cheddar, 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups dried bread cube stuffing
1 t thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 c cream Options: cooked crumbled sausage, crisp chopped bacon
What you do second:
Place cleaned pumpkin in a foil pie pan on a baking sheet.
Chop leeks, white part and light green part into 1-inch chunks, halved.
Saute with mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Salt and pepper to taste. Combine in a bowl with bread cubes, cheeses and thyme. Add cooked bacon or sausage to mix if desired.

Stuff pumpkin tightly. Poke holes in filling add cream to top and let it soak through. Put the lid on and bake at 350 for 2 hours. Check after 90 minutes. Serve by scooping some pumpkin flesh and stuffing into a bowl.

I had to repost this recipe since it corrupted somehow in the blog from an earlier date. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Texas Rising Chili Con Carne From Jeff Mauro

courtesy Food Channel

I spotted a segment on the Food Channel for  Jeff Mauro's chili con carne and decided to give it a go. I am not normally a chili fan but the Mrs. is although I think she longs for a more traditional approach and if you know me at all....I am not traditional sometimes to my detriment.

3 dried Ancho Chile's
1 dried New Mexico Chile
1 Chile d'arbol
1 TB ground cumin
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into lardons
1 tsp oregano
4 pound chuck roast trimmed cut into 1 inch cubes
salt and pepper
1 medium onion diced
4 jalapenos ribs and seeds removed diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
4 cups beef stock
14 ounce can tomatoes
2 TB corn meal
juice 2 limes

Toast the dried Chile's till they puff about 5-7 minutes. Remove stems and seeds.
In a food processor or spice grinder, process the chiles to a powder and add the cumin and oregano with enough hot water to form a paste.

Heat a large Dutch oven and add the bacon, render the fat and cook crispy. Remove from pan and reserve. Keep the fat.
Sprinkle the beef with a bit of flour, salt and pepper then cook in the fat in batches till browned. Remove the beef and add the Chile paste then the onions. Cook till translucent then add the garlic and jalapenos. Careful here as the paste can get a bit overdone if you let it.

Add the beef back with the tomatoes and cornmeal. Cook till thick and rich adding beef stock to thin.* Adjust the seasoning.

* Here I differed, adding some of the stock to scrape up the bits from the pan, then adding the beef and tomatoes with  stock to cover. I covered the whole thing and placed in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours till the beef fell apart. I skimmed the fat and the sauce was plenty thick without the addition of cornmeal. We also added a can of drained, rinsed black beans for the Mrs. I also added a tablespoon of my homemade Habanero sauce for a little heat.

Served with a sprinkle of sharp cheddar and a dollop of sour cream, I thought this was pretty good and even better the next day at lunch.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reaching Egg Nirvana

Soft boiled eggs. I usually hated the prospect of running into uncooked whites so avoided them at all costs but lately.....

My lovely bride started ordering poached eggs and I thought them way too fussy to cook on my own and several attempts left me cold.  Then I encountered a few web sites that touted perfect methods of egg cookery and I had to try again but this time not poached but soft boiled. A soft boiled egg is basically poached but in the shell right? I reached egg nirvana with minimum fuss but you have to mind the clock. Easy to do.

In a pan with a cover, boil 1/2" of water. Place into the pan at boiling point a cold extra large egg.  Cover and countdown 6 minutes 30 secs.  How easy can that be right from the fridge and as many as you like. The secret being the small amount of water comes back to a boil instantly. The timing is the key element here. I would imagine 30 seconds less for a large egg.  After the time is up, run the egg under cold water to stop cooking and peel. Lovely dreamy tender whites and yolks that run but have just enough consistency not to be out of control. Perfection on a plate over a buttered toast or muffin.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pan Seared Veal with creamed Cauliflower and Broccoli

 Sometimes, it takes a while to cook a dish, as this did,  and the results are less than stellar. I am not all that familiar with veal cuts and the Veal Chops we purchased looked a bit odd as there was little to no bone (note to self, pick your meat carefully)

The recipe for Pan Seared Veal Chops with Creamy Mushroom gravy took a surprising long time to cook so I had a lot invested here but the outcome was so so and the 'chops' were incredibly gristly and unappetizing.  Would I do this again? Yes, but with a more careful selection of meat product.

1 Tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
4 veal chops rib bone in
1 medium onion diced

2 cloves minced garlic
1 pound wild mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1/4 dry white wine

2 cups chicken stock**
1 c heavy cream**

Heat 1 tbs butter and oil in large heavy pan. Add chops and sear till golden brown about 5-6 minutes per side. Set aside.

In the same pan add the onions and saute till softened about 5 minutes add garlic and cook 30 secs more.  Add the mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally until they release their liquid and cook till the liquid has evaporated. add the wine and using a spoon, scrape up all the browned bits and reduce the until the liquid is gone then add the stock and cream.Add the chops back to the pan and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover for about 30 minutes. Continue cooking uncovered for additional 20-25 minutes till the sauce is thickened and the chops are tender.

**Actually, that's a lot of liquid to thicken up in 20 minutes so use less or use a thickener like Wondra  or Buere Blanc.  I would use a bit less personally, about half of each.

Season with salt and pepper.

Creamy Cauliflower
 1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar or aged Asiago
1/4 c cream

Microwave or steam a head of cauliflower that has been separated into florets until quite soft.
Process with immersion blender till smooth adding the cream and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Toy...Great Pizza

I read a post one of my bloggers wrote while on vacation who aquired a pizza oven that fit on the grill.  I became a little obsessed with a crusty pie since nothing like it existed in Mexico.

Bed Bath and Beyond carried a few on clearance so I picked one up.

I happened to make a batch of dough a few days earlier and it was in the fridge cold rising so I let that come to room temp before working it into a couple of crusts. I let the oven heat on the grill for 30 minutes or more and it was in the zone around 700 degrees. Now I cannot, for the life if me, get a crust off the peel so I use a bit of parchment to make life easier. The results of the high temp was amazing. Bubbly edges, crusty bottom, perfect pizza. Delish!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Year In Mexico

We had something special to celebrate this year and were fortunate to have our great friends Matt and Lori as well as Mackenzie, Ben and Christian come along for the ride. Our booking was delayed as we hoped Nick's schedule would allow him to join and as a result our usual haunt, Playa Mujeres,  was booked. He could not come with us and we ended up at the sister resort, Riviera Cancun,  south of Cancun. An older and decidedly less friendly version of our favorite resort we had a few small issues with service and trying to seat all of us at a meal. The concierge was rude and helpless but the restaurants tried to be accommodating but you could tell they were a little exasperated.

The food was pretty good but the outstanding dinner was at Chez Isabel with a Sea Bass that made you wanna smack your grandma. So good we went back for seconds.The Asian Spice restaurant was outstanding also. I had lasagna at the Italian place but it had a decidedly Mexican funk to it and I did not care for it at all.

The resort was well kept but the raft situation around the pool was laughable. They were like rare gems as guests stored them in rooms never to be seen. The security was ever vigilant and picked up your stuff after 40 minutes unattended even if you were in the pool right in front of it. Weird.

Brenda had created gift bags for all with a clever T shirt marking my 60th birthday. We had a great time with the kids but missed our absent members and a few who tried to book too late and found the resort full.  Next year we plan to book early and back at our favorite spot. Another year older and a little wiser.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup

Jill stopped by the office the other morning bearing the fruits from her brother's farm in Iowa. a box of assorted goodies included some bright yellow tomatoes that were getting past their prime so had to be processed quickly to preserve their integrity.


I started by selecting a few reds of our own, halving them and pulping them over a strainer to catch the juices. About 16 tomatoes yielded about 1 1/2 cups of tomato juice in a peachy color due to the mix of yellows and reds. I set this aside for later and proceeded to sprinkle the rest with olive oil and salt, throw in a few cloves of garlic and roast at 400 degrees for about an hour.

I threw everything including the reserved juice into the processor and whizzed away. In a large sauce pan I heated some butter and olive oil and sauteed a medium onion, 3 cloves of garlic and 1 teaspoon  of dried thyme. Normally I would use fresh basil but with the temperature dipping my basil is gone for the season. I added 1 tub of Knorr's Chicken broth with a cup of water and the pureed tomato mix. Still needing a little something to push it over the edge I added a 1/4 c grated Parmesan. That seemed to do the trick. The yellow tomatoes are very sweet so a little salt mellowed it out a bit.

Roasted Tomato Soup

2 pound ripe tomatoes halved and pulped, juice reserved
Olive oil for tomatoes and later for making soup
1 medium onion chopped
6 cloves of garlic, 3 roasted, 3 plain and minced
1 teas dried thyme
1 tub Knorr's Homestyle Stock (chicken)
1-2 cups water
1/4 c cream
1/4 c Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Eating Omaha. Ponzu Sushi and Grill

Not ones to do sushi except on Happy Hour menus at Baby Blue we head to Ponzu because it has a reputation for a Cuban Pork Sandwich. Wow. Well deserved and crazy good.
Oh yes and the sushi. Odd combination but the Flamethrower roll beckoned me and I answered it's call. So, Sunday lunch was sushi and a Cuban Pork sandwich. Pulled Cuban pork and ham topped with cheese and mustard with homemade pickles. It was toasty and juicy. Perfectly seasoned and a delight to consume with a side of Truffle fries. Whodathunk to get a perfect Cuban sandwich at a sushi joint? And the sushi roll? Divine (hardly a flamethrower but we are too accustomed to heat to be affected) crispy cucumber and cream cheese with jalapeños and crispy crab meat. So delicious. The service was also fantastic. We were greeted by Curtis who was enthusiastic and engaged with his customers. A happy guy with a great style and awesome service. Oh yeah, we'll be back. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting

Second proofing

Baked and frosted hot

Tomorrow is a random pot luck at work. The theme is chili and I' m not a huge fan but I came home this afternoon and began this recipe for rolls taking several recipes and picking what I thought was the best combo. While as I write this I have not tasted one yet, they look amazing. 

Here’s what you will need:


¼ ounce package yeast

½ cup warm water ( I did not think this was enough fluid but I like my dough sticky so..)

½ cup scalded milk

¼ cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground clove

1 egg

4 – 5 cups all-purpose flour


½ cup softened butter, plus more for pan

3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a stand mixer bowl, combine milk, sugar, melted butter, pumpkin puree, spices, salt, and egg with a spoon. Attach the bowl to the mixer with the dough hook attached. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes. (If not using a stand mixer, knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes.) Place in well-greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter all over dough. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Then sprinkle over buttered dough. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.

Coat the bottom of 13 x 9 baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

For the frosting:

– 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

– ½ cup light brown sugar, packed

– 2 Tablespoons milk

– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

– dash salt

– ½ cup powdered sugar

Put everything except powdered sugar in a small pan and combine cooking for 1 minute. Let cool and scrape into mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed adding powdered sugar till light in color. Spoon over warm rolls. 


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