Saturday, April 22, 2017

Eating Omaha... Blackstone Meatball

Today we met Ellen and Mark at Mom's house and cleared out more stuff. We caught up on a lot of things, found more photos and threw out a bunch of stuff none of us wanted. As the day wore on we decided to make dinner plans in Midtown. The Blackstone district is the new Omaha "it" spot. Seen and be seen. So much fun people watching, gabbing and drinking craft cocktails at Night Owl after dinner. Met some work friends too.


So, Meatballs is a craft bar/eatery and serves only....meatballs. Mark and I had a flight of 5 while the girls had a bowl of 3 meatballs atop grilled veggies. A choice of 5 flavored meatballs and 5 sauces are offered on a variety of vehicles including veggies, pasta or grits and more. All the flavors were great, some better than others like the Rueben meatball special topped with Thousand Island. The Chicken meatball with Alfredo sauce was tasty as well. Least favorite was the Vegan and Pesto(mushroom, white bean) but still wasn't bad.

We had quick service, were invited to sit as long as we pleased and skipped dessert. A very busy place indeed. After paying the bill,  about $50 incl tip each,  we strolled across the street running into Rich and Julie et all, along the way.

We ducked into Night Owls for another cocktail, people watching and conversation before making the long ride home. Great evening out in a nice section of town with a lively crowd,  mostly younger, for a nice Friday night diversion.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Eating this Post Lenten Week

So far I have had lamb, Greek chicken, lamb and more lamb. Okay,  I am getting a little tired of lamb and after lunch today I have only one serving left to consume. It is really goo though and I will probably prepare it ( sous vide) this way from now on.  Greek chicken is brined breasts, sliced hot off the grill and bathed in lemon juice, oregano and olive oil. Very tasty.

So far this week, the only thing I have had off the ranch is a burger at Hardee's after a trip to Menards last night and yes, Hardee hamburgers are very good. Very good indeed.

We (I) have consumed a loaf of tsoureki as toast. I cannot get enough of this. Its like a pastry more than a bread and toasted it is divine food of the gods.  The mahlab adds a distinct pleasant flavor that you really cannot put your finger on but when I have a slice to my favorite Syrian physician, he nearly teared up as it reminded him of home. How is that for authentic?  One of my workmates thought the chunk of lamb I gave him was tenderloin, it's that tender.  I know I am a whackadoo when I have to share everything I bring with my work mates. They probably think I am crazy and acquiesce out of kindness.

As my tummy settles down I will be racking up some ribs later this weekend or Huli Huli Chicken. I just found a recipe that looks so tempting.

Huli Huli Chicken 

Huli means 'turn' in Hawaii and with the sugar in this marinade it is a good idea to keep turning the chicken to avoid burning it.

The recipe is enough for about three chickens, split in half.  You can use chicken pieces if that’s what you have. Marinate your chicken for at least a half-hour.
                               1/3 cup ketchup
                               1/3 cup soy sauce
                               1/4 cup brown sugar
                               1/4 cup honey
                               1/4 cup sherry
                               1-2 Tbsp. sesame oil
                               1-2-more pieces ginger root, crushed
                               3 cloves garlic, crushed
                               Worcestershire sauce to taste
                               Sriracha or Asian chili paste (or red pepper flakes) to taste
                               Squeeze a lemon in if you've got one
Brush the chicken with the remaining marinade while cooking over a grill. And don't forget to huli the chicken.

I stole this recipe from  

 http://www.hawaiimagazine.com/blogs/hawaii_today/2009/6/5/make_huli_huli_chicken

Let youo know Monday on how this comes out if I get a chance to make it. Looking for something to take to KC for Nick's graduation anyway....maybe it be this?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tsoureki by Xeno


I made this traditional Greek Easter bread this year again but this time the recipe from My Greek Dish was a proven winner. It turned really dark baking because of the sugar in the dough and came out of the oven weighing nearly nothing. Make sure you hit the 190-195 mark before removing. It proved to be light and very tasty, great for toasting but it toasted really fast so be careful but it tasted good even a little burnt. I used the real deal spices, mahlab and masticha. Trust me and hunt these down. Here in Omaha, a trip to the Mediterranean market (84th and Blondo) is in order as they will surely have them. 
 
I did not put anise seed or extract as some people find the taste off putting but the Greeks love it. Does not matter to me one way or the other. The texture of the bread is sublime, soft, stringy even crumb. I made these 2 huge loafs from one recipe, enough to share with really good friends. If we ever see Matt and Lori again, I will have to make this for them.

http://www.mygreekdish.com/recipe/tsoureki-recipe-traditional-greek-easter-bread/

Rather than re write the recipe follow the link to the great article. Yum.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sous Vide Lamb Kebabs

I have been salivating over this for weeks as Lent has winded down and the devil distracted my thoughts with lust for food. Well, Pascha in the Greek church means lamb and who could blame him. This year I wanted the most succulent treat I could imagine and I got out the trusty Sous Vide oven and went to town on a boneless leg.  after 12 hours in the sous vide bath at 130 degrees, I drained the meat, added a few onions and hit the grill. Grilled on high for just long enough to crust the meat with a mahogany color, it was literally falling apart as I took it off the burners.


Very hot grill


So here is how it's done. You'll thank me.

1 leg of lamb cubed
1 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon paprika
Good glug  of olive oil
Seal the sous vide bag cook at 130 for about 12 hours

Remove meat and drain juices. Place in large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoons of oregano, salt and pepper to taste, a few tablespoons of olive oil and a few chunky onions. Heat grill to very hot (600) and drop meat and veggies into a grilling basket. Toss frequently, move away from flames until desired color is achieved. Using tongs, remove to a clean bowl. So tender and yummy.

Yes I know it's nine in the morning.

PS...the reviews are in. Mackenzie says not to lose the recipe or technique. I have to agree, best lamb ever.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

No posts since February.....


Around Mother's Day 2016, all my ladies...


I just noticed that I have not posted anything since February.  For whatever reason, deep in Great Lent, there are many things I do not do this time of year. One of them is cook anything special. We had some great meals but all are meatless and a little boring frankly. Not the season of the year where it is important. I did made a fantastic vegan (?) Seafood Gumbo for Pre-Sanctified one Wednesday but that recipe is already on the blog. .

Been dealing with some tummy issues lately so I have seriously cut back on the spiciness in our dishes, even black pepper. Coffee is dealing me fits, chocolate almost anything really.  I am sure this too shall pass but it really affects my appetite and by default my cooking.

My Mom passed away early in March. She had some chronic illnesses that did not seem to affect her travels too much but eventually caught up with her and she passed peacefully at home. Expected but unexpected we dealt with everything we could and now my sister and I are trying to put the house to rest and put it on the market, going through each room and sifting through years of accumulation of stuff and memories. So far a few Saturdays have proven fruitful but we have a ways to go.

Prepping for Holy week and Pascha this year but without the boys coming home, I have little desire to put on our usual meat festival. I will make some lamb but I am thinking its just us and Mackenzie this year.  We'll see what happens as a few on Mackenzie's friends are thinking of coming over and we are always happy to have them.  Hopefully I will be feeling a little better by then and resume the thing I do love and do the best.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscar Night Treat


We visited J Coco this weekend and had a great birthday meal with Ben. Fried stuffed olives were on the menu and we all loved them.  So much so that for Oscar Night we made some for appetizers.

Fried Stuffed Olives
Large pitted green olives
Boursin cheese (I made my own)
1 egg beaten
Plain bread crumbs
Flour

I stuffed the pitted olives with the Boursin style cheese. I made 3 stations, flour, egg then breadcrumbs. Coat with flour, dip in the egg and then roll in bread crumbs. Let them dry on a rack before cooking.  In a small sauce pan heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to 375 then fry the olives in small batches till golden, about 45 seconds. Drain on paper towels and serve hot. Delicious.

Home made Boursin

2 ounces cream cheese
1 T sour cream
3/4 t garlic powder and onion powder
3/4 t dried thyme leaves

Mash all together and load into a small piping bag to fill the olives.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shrimp and Grits y'all

Starting thinking about dishes for the Lenten season and ran across this Southern treat. Grits usually remind me of cream of wheat. In this case the savory factor over rides the breakfast blandness and the prep includes dairy so its off the list but I had a few shrimp in the freezer so...
The creamy, cheesy grits make a nice foil to the garlicky shrimp doused with fresh lemon.
This was heaven.

Shrimp and Grits

1 lb peeled raw shrimp
1 tbl olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 fresh lemon juiced
Parsley

For the grits
1 cup milk
3 tbls quick grits
1 c shredded white cheddar
Pinch of salt

Marinate the peeled shrimp in the oil and garlic. Prepare the grits by bringing the milk to a boil then slowly add in the grits, whisking all the time. When the grits thicken after a few minutes of cooking, remove from heat. Add the cheese and whisk till combined and cheese melts. Set aside and quickly saute the shrimps and garlic till the shrimp are pink. Remove from pan and add lemon juice to the pan and scrape up brown bits. Add shrimp back to pan and coat with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over grits. 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

feeding the Masses...

 Mackenzie had a few friends for dinner and let me do the cooking. I love cooking for folks who love eating. She had special guests, Andy and Patty, her frequent travel companions, in tow and we had a pleasant dinner, pulling out all the stops.

I began with our standard Crostini, toasted bread with Sage infused butter, crispy procuitto, piquant provalone and topped with a sage leaf. I also roasted a breast of lamb along with the usual charcuterie.
Dinner was easy. Homemade pasta covered in a braised short rib gravy. a fresh salad with handmade croutons and our favorite oil and vinegar dressing. A few loaves of fresh French baguettes and a NY style cheesecake rounded out the feast.  Great wine flowed and kids, conversation and raucous laughter ensued. I believe we all had a great time.





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lately....


 So much going on it is hard to stop and write about it. Firstly, I have been using Nick's gift from Christmas and been baking bread from the new Cooks Illustrated book he gave me.

The Italian bread was intriguing and my first few attempts are hit and miss. I must use the temp probe before pulling for the oven. Makes a huge difference. I had 3 really beautiful loaves but one was a bit under cooked and I had to discard it.

You really have to get these up to 200 degrees or they will be doughy and unappetizing in the center. At the higher oven temp they will get very brown. Even with convection I might have to turn them half way through. This one was a little undercooked.

The recipe calls for beer since its a same day bread and not time to develop a yeasty flavor that a long rise provides.  A cup of Budweiser does the trick to 3 cups of Bread Flour, 2 Teaspoons of salt and yeast and a few tablespoons of water for a little more moisture. A rise till double after kneading then shape to a large loaf. Cut down the middle before spraying with water and placing in a hot oven 400 degrees.  Had a nice crumb and light crispy crust. But like I said, takes its temp. It will fool you.

Next on the agenda is a party for Mackenzie's guests at the house. Short rib ragu was ordered so I made my own papparadelle pasta.  About a dozen eggs later I had about 5 pounds of finished pasta for the freezer.

Then Valentines Day is on the horizon. It calls for Lobster tails, Filet Mignon and fancy fixings. I was able to use the Sous Vide for the meat and seafood. Tried a version of Serious Eats potatoes and everything turned out great. A bit of Bearnaise sauce for the meat and it was delightful. I may never cook a steak any other way.

The Lobster was just perfect too. The day took a lot of prep to prepare but the beauties I made it for are so special to me. Too much steak, left overs will become steak pasta for sure.








Thursday, February 2, 2017

Grilled cheese and Tomato soup

Nothing better on a cold winter's evening than a hearty tomato soup with crispy, creamy grilled cheese. Yum.
The soup cozy courtesy of Miss Mackenzie keeps your mitts from burn damage as you remove the piping hot bowl from the microwave. Gads, we are old fogies!

The soup was crafted from a quart of roasted tomatoes and garlic from the summer garden kept safe in the freezer just for tonight. Combined with some broth, a bit of cheese and sauteed onions then hit it hard with the immersion blender. A bit of thyme gives it some mystery and a nice pour of cream for mouth appeal. A little salt and a few grinds of pepper rounded out the rough edges. 

I had sliced Gouda, Muenster and American for the buttery grilled sandwich and topped it off with shaved parmesan before the last flip. So very tasty especially when dunked in the hot soup.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Chicken Curry for Sunday dinner

A cold Sunday after church here in Omaha. Before we left, I took some split chicken breasts out of the freezer.  When we got home I fired up the sous vide and cooked all the chicken, setting some aside for lunches this week. Meanwhile, I did a bit of research on recipes and found a lot of great ideas.

Here is my version.

Chicken Curry

1-2 chicken breasts, either cooked and cubed or shredded or cubed raw to cook with the dish.
1 medium onion cut into thin petals
Shitake mushrooms. I bought about 4 ounces bulk.
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbls oil
1 tbls garlic ginger paste
2 tbls curry I like hot
1 pepper I bought a Serrano and sliced it thin
2 cans of coconut milk I used Lite
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
A squirt or 2 of Siracha Sauce
Cilantro
Green onions cut diagonally

In my large chefs pan or wok, heat the oil till shimmering. If you are cooking the chicken, do it now, cooking till just done.  Remove the chicken and set aside. Drop in the onions and saute till it starts to soften. Add the garlic, mushrooms, garlic ginger paste and pepper. Cook a few minutes then add the curry and let it toast a bit. Add the coconut milk all at once. Stir and allow to thicken just simmering. If your chicken needs a few minutes more of cooking, add it or shred your cooked chicken and add to the pot. Adjust seasoning. I found the coconut milk a bit sweet so I squeezed a lime in to tone it down. Garnish with green onions and cilantro or basil. Serve over rice.

Friday, January 13, 2017

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





 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 in half. Also a few stalks of celery, a chopped carrot or two, half a head of garlic cut in half along the equator and your 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 our 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.

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