Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Roasted Breast of Lamb

As a special treat for me and the boys, I made a breast of lamb. Its been a while since I bought one and I was pleasantly surprised and 2 meaty slabs of ribs when I opened the pack. Usual one of the slabs is wanting for the curved ribs and lack of meat.

I prepared a rub using:

2 T olive oil
2 t salt
2 t cumin
1 t pepper
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t cinnamon
1 t coriander
1 t paprika

Mix into a paste and rub over the fatty side of the ribs and sparingly over the bony side. I placed the racks side by side in a roaster covered in parchment paper then covered in foil and baled at 300 for several hours till tender. About 3 hours. I uncovered them and placed them under the broiler for about 4 minutes to get a nice crispy crust on the fatty side.  There is a lot of fat rendered out of these. Let it harden and discard. 

Split apart and enjoy.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

The local market has had some nice looking peppers of late. Large in size and perfect for stuffing. I usually treat these with a seafood mix but we have been n a meat mode lately and I bought burger but switched to chicken when I developed the recipe.  I meant to buy Chipotles in Adobo sauce but came home with Chipotle salsa in a small can. Worked well so I went with it and added the leftover salsa to the batch of fresh salsa I was making and it added a nice heat.

4 Large Poblanos, prepped.
1/2 Rotisserie Chicken, shredded
4 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
1 med onion diced
1/2 red pepper diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
3 Tbls olive oil
4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
8 ounces shredded cheese, divided ( I had 5 cheeses Italian blend on hand)
1/4 cup bread crumbs if needed
1/2 cup cream
Salt and pepper

For the Sauce
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 cup milk
2 slices processed swiss
3 T of chipotle salsa
1/2 t chipotle powder
2 T cream
Salt and pepper

Prep the peppers by blackening them over the gas stove, torch or broiler. Place them in a bowl and cover to steam while you fix the filling.

Saute the onions, pepper, garlic and mushrooms till the onions turn translucent. add the cream cheese and allow to melt. Add the chicken and shredded cheese and cream. Allow to cook at little, if there is too much liquid, add the bread crumbs till the consistency you like.  Verify seasoning, adding salt and pepper as desired. Set aside. Start the sauce.

Melt the butter and add the flour and cook a few minutes then add the milk and stir till thickened a bit and add the cheese and salsa to taste. The salsa is spicy so add a s much or little as you like. Finish with a bit of cream. Sauce should be heavy cream  thick but quite pour-able. 

Retrieve the peppers and scrape the black skin off, split one side and clean the seeds and membranes then heap with a good amount of stuffing and place in a greased casserole. Continue using all the stuffing and peppers, mounding the extra filling on top. Flood the dish with the sauce and top with additional cheese.  Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes at 375 then uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes till bubbly and melty.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Eating Scotland...Edinburgh

We had a lot of cheese and salami sandwiches from the local grocer in London with an occasional great night out. Our first foray in Scotland was a treat from Mackenzie. She began planning this adventure for us last year when I was recovering from cancer surgery. One of her surprises was a seat at ‘The Table’. A very exclusive, chef run venue that accepts only10 diners a nite for a meal prepared in front of you in 7 courses. It took hours to get thru dinner and the walk was a bit underestimated and took a bit to get there. The night we went, all Americans were at the table, surprising the staff a bit.
Each course was unusual and precise, small bites but filling by the time course 7 hit the plate. If you get the chance, and there is space, book a sitting. So much fun....

Eating London....

We have been in London since Saturday and are leaving for a day trip to Paris tomorrow so we had a ‘last supper’ at a little spot in Devonshire called ‘Pitt Cue’. Nice little brew pub that features wood smoked meats (and not much else) with a full bar.

This was Mackenzie’s favorite spot from past visits to London so she ordered for us. We sampled small plates first, pickles, pork belly and a pig’s head scrumpet.
Then the main courses were duck breast with chicory and pork jowls with apple ketchup.

By by far the best was a side of bone marrow mashed potatoes. Unctuous and savory, who knew. The meal was crazy good but needed a salad and crusty bread. 

Mackenzie is a master navigator of the underground system. Once in the underground you could be as much as 4 stories down. Escalators and stairs with multiple stops, it was all we could do to keep up with her and get our butts on the right train. It’s is so amazing to have such a great way to get around town. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Shrimp and Grits

So my local Southern Belle failed me at work ( in the nicest way possible, bless her heart) and had no recipe for Shrimp and Grits and forced me to look at several recipes and pick the best features of all of them. So I did, with great success. Definitely not a Lenten dish but it’s Hannah’s birthday family dinner and here we are. Not all that hard to make but a lot of steps.

Here they are:

Shrimp and Grits, my own Southern tradition

1 1/2 raw peeled deveined large shrimp, shells reserved
Cajun seasoning about 2 tbs. I made my own*
1/4 cup flour, reserved
Season the raw shrimp, toss to coat and set aside. Use the flour later just before frying to coat.

In a saucepan,  add
Reserved shells
Whole medium onion, unpeeled halved
2 Celery stalks
1 teaspoon of  Thyme
Salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer for 45 minutes verify seasoning.
Strain and reserve broth. About 3 cups.

For the Shrimps
2 tbs oil
2 tbs butter
1 medium onion chopped fine
2 Celery stalks chopped fine
1/2 red pepper, diced. I used a 1/2 jar roasted red peppers diced.
2-3 cloves of garlic chopped fine.
1/2 c white wine
3/4 c cream
Wondra flour for thickening
1-2 tablespoons of Franks Hot Sauce to taste
Salt and pepper as needed
3 green onions sliced thin, white and green

In a large fry pan, heat 2 tbs oil till shimmering. Toss the seasoned shrimps in a few tbs of flour till coated. Add the seasoned shrimp in batches to the hot oil till pink through then set aside.

In the same pan add the butter, celery, onion, red pepper  and garlic. Sauté till softened then add the white wine and allow it to reduce by half, scraping up the browned bits. Add about 2-3 cups of the seafood stock and the cream. Allow to come to a light boil. Thicken with Wondra if needed. Verify seasoning.  Add the shrimps back till heated through and spoon over grits.  Top with green onion. Pass the hot sauce.

1 1/2 cups quick cook grits
6 cups water/ milk or more if needed
2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces of white shredded sharp cheddar  cheese
1/2 cup cream
3 tbls butter

 Boil the salted water, add grits slowly and whisk the entire time. When the consistency of thick porridge, add the cheese and combine till the cheese melts then stir in the cream and butter.

* Cajun seasoning
5T paprika
4T garlic powder
2T onion powder
2T black pepper
2T cayenne
2T oregano
2T thyme
1T salt.

A Lenten Dinner Party...of sorts

Last night our great friends Randy and Rhonda came to say goodbye. They are moving closer to their kids in Arizona. They got a great deal on a house and are in the process of packing up. They wanted to go out but being lent and limited in what we can eat plus my diabetes and pasta are enemies I offered to cook. Not many folks will turn down a meal at our house and they graciously accepted. Originally Randy wanted to head out to Spaghetti Works for their red clam sauce but I use a high fiber low calories pasta so I made the sauce here instead. As a matter of fact, I made 3 sauces as Rhonda does not eat anything from the sea and Brenda preferred white clam sauce rather than red.

A nice fresh French loaf and cop cat Olive Garden salad rounded out the menu with a Lenten chocolate cake for dessert.

For the sauce I used the 4 ingredient method

1 28 ounce can of San Marzano peeled tomatoes
1 small onion peeled and halved
1 t salt or more as needed
4 tbls butter or margarine.

Heat all the ingredients in a sauce pan the simmer for 45 minutes. Break up the tomatoes as it’s cooking. Discard the onion. One basic red sauce that is surprisingly fresh tasting and delicious.

For the White Clam Sauce

1 can of Bumblebee Baby Clams, drained juice reserved
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 shallot chopped
2 tbls olive oil
1/2 c white wine
3 tbls butter or margarine

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil and then add the garlic and shallot. Sauté gently to avoid burning the garlic then add the clams. Heat through, add the wine the the clam juice. (At this point I divided the red sauce in half and added 1/3 of the clams to the red sauce.)
Bring the white sauce to a low boil and add the butter, one pat at a time and whisking to incorporate before adding the next. Sauce should thicken and become glossy. Add a handful of parsley.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Lenten Meals are us...

Tonight’s fare besides a nice fresh prosfora is a Cilantro Lime and Shrimp casserole with black beans and rice. 

I needed a little something in case pickings are slim. Last weeks Mediterranean Seafood salad was a big hit. This week a Mexican palate was in order. Here’s how I made it:

1 1/2 pound peeled deveined medium raw shrimp
2 tbls oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 t baking soda
2 tbls hot sauce
1 tbls chipotle powder
Garlic powder
1/2 c red onion

4 cups water
2 cups rice
2 cans drained black beans rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice and zest of 2 limes
Salt and pepper

Rinse and drain shrimp and toss with baking soda then Franks Hot Sauce, chipotle powder and garlic powder. Prepare rice with water and 1 tbls salt and bring to boil, cover and simmer 15 minutes till cooked. Combine with beans, lime juice and zest and cilantro. Set aside.

Sauté garlic and onion in the oil carefully till soft and the garlic does not burn, then add shrimp and cook till just pink through. Add to rice mixture with juices and toss. Check seasoning adding salt and pepper as needed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Eating Omaha....Timber Wood Fire Bistro

I am currently reading reviews for this Omaha establishment and trying to wrap my head around the ratings. I don't get it. Yes the food is good, not exceptional and the service is 5 star. The rest is...meh.

Last night was my third or forth visit to Timber and I was, as was the rest of my party, surprised at the dinky portions and terrible dessert.

As part of a large party where I was a guest,  I partook of  the prix fixe menu offered. Tenderloin Medallions, Prohibition Black Chicken  and Cedar Planked Steelhead Salmon were the three main choices. In the past, I have had the mac and cheese,  'Timber Mac' and the Lamb Burger. All delicious dishes and the generous portion of the mac and cheese led me to take half home for lunch the next day. The small burger, however,  left me wanting. The ladies 'loved' the pizza at $16 each, just 10 inches or so...

Last night illustrated a point. I choose the salmon while my buddies choose the filet medallions. Our plates arrived with excellent service, so that's not an issue, with a 1/2 cup portion of creamed potatoes, 6 grilled asparagus spears and in the case of the beef, two 3 ounce medallions of filet.  My salmon was identical except for a nicely grilled piece of salmon just 1-1 1/2 inches wide. About 4 ounces if I were to guess. The menu price was $26 for both entrees. If I had to pay for this I would have been mighty unhappy to be honest. I got a text from one of my friends after I got home that said "I'm still hungry". Yes, I would have to agree, it simply was not enough food. we joked about stopping at Arby's on the way home. No joke,  really.

This is not about the quality of the meal although dessert left something to be desired, or the service, which was excellent. Its about value and leaving a dinner with enough to eat. That did not happen.
Oh yes...and about dessert. German Chocolate cake, one of my favorites but here...a dry hockey puck of a molten lava cake, topped with the typical coconut frosting as well as whipped cream and dark cherries? Which is it? Black Forrest or German Chocolate? All the guests at our table left most of the dessert behind.

I would have a tough time giving this place 5 stars for sure.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Insurance Game

In this game we are all losers. I have spent the last few months dealing with my deductible status being gone since the surgery and New Year. Meds, products I need for my Urostomy and my diabetes sensor went up exponentially. I found out I don’t need a prescription for my appliances that I need to catch urine from my stoma. I found various on line sites that offer the supplies way cheaper than I could get locally or from medical supply companies.

I am insured by UMR and my personal deductible is $2700 per year. Everything till that total is met is a cash transaction.  The UMR insurer said to use Byram Healthcare for my sensors. Under the plan last year, I paid about $90 per month. After the first of the year I paid $180 per month. I started calling around and found a wide range of cash prices for the sensors. CVS pharmacy nestled in Target store just charged me $74 for a month supply. I had her check again. Is it possible to pay less in cash than insurance? Yes, Virginia, it is.

American healthcare is in trouble. What do people do that can not navigate the nonsense? How do you get a CT scan if you don’t have $850 up front to pay? I have a nice HSA but it’s still my money. My own facility where I work charges me to sit in their exam room. $74 after the negotiated rate down from $210 full fee. To sit in their exam room on top of the full cash price of the physicians visit that can range from $200 to $500. Crazy.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Cold Days for Warm Soup

So today is about in-laws coming to stay a few days and food to serve for the week. I started the day dragging my frozen collection of wing tips and veggie trimmings from the freezer to stock the InstaPot for a bit of broth making.
Since the weather was so bad and the roads a nightmare I made a bunch of egg noodles too and voila! Chicken Soup that would rival any Jewish Grandma's.

So starting with the Pot:

1 pound chicken wing tips
1 pound shaken thighs, bone in and skin on, browned if you like
Celery bottoms, halved unpeeled onion, a few halved garlic cloves, and some carrots.
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons of salt, a few peppercorns
Cover with fresh cold water
Process for 30-40 minutes and natural release. Strain broth into a stock pot and pick over thighs to remove meat, set aside and discard veggies. Shred the meat.
I added a tablespoon of Chicken flavored Better Than Bullion, about a cup of diced carrots and celery and the shredded thigh meat. Check the seasoning adding a few grinds of pepper and  a teaspoon of turmeric to enhance the color and bring to a boil before adding the noodles, either homemade or frozen. 

Egg Noodles
2 cups AP flour
2 eggs beaten with 1/3 cup milk
1 tbls soft butter of olive oil
1 tsp salt
Process in the food processor till the dough pulls from the sides. Turn out on a well floured board and knead smooth. Roll out to 1/8 thick and cut into 1/2 strips. Toss with flour to keep from sticking and drop into boiling soup, cook for 3 minutes.


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