Thursday, December 29, 2011

Antipasto Salad

As we head to the in-laws this weekend armed with loaves of Stromboli we decided to add this little gem of ours to the mix.  I love this little mix of whatever I can find to add to some cooked pasta. It's a bit expensive but I found the meats on sale this week and most of the pickeled stuff was a bargin.

1 pound of salami cubed or matchsticks
1 pound of pepperoni cubed or matchsticks
1 box cooked Penne Rigate
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 jar of pepperoncini  marinated peppers
1 jar of roasted red peppers
1 cup of marinated artichokes
1 can black olives
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound cubed mozzarella
1/2 pound cubed provolone or jack
1/4 c or more olive oil
3T  red wine vinegar
2 T Italian seasoning blend
salt and pepper to taste

All measurments are arbitrary. I simply open drain and dump, season and dress then mix it all up and allow to sit overnight in the fridge. You might have to freshen the dressing if the pasta sucks it all up.

The nice thing about these sorts of salads is that you can Greek it up with Feta, kalamatas, lemon and oregano if you like that sort of thing (we do). I also sometimes use cooked cheese Tortellini and spinach leaves. I will leave it up to your imagination.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pan Gratin Potatoes

My friend, Cathy wrote to me today requesting the "recipe" for the potatoes I serverd her when last she was in town.  I really don't have much of a recipe but the technique is easy enough but I have no photos of these spuds.

3-4 Medium Potatoes sliced paper thin
1/2 c grated cheese like Fontina, White Cheddar, Parmesan
1-2 T olive oil
up to 1/2 c heavy cream
salt and pepper

I generally have a few extra spuds laying about. It does not take many, maybe 3 medium sized ones. I use my small hand held  mandolin on the thinest setting and slice the potatoes. I usually have Yukon Golds but small reds are nice to and the occasional Idaho. Anyway, slice a nice pile of potatoes and get a large non stick skillet ready with a bit of olive oil. The nice thing about this is, if I don't have a lot of spuds or it's just me and the Mrs., I can just center the spuds in the pan.

Starting in the center, I layer the potatoes in a spiral, as many layers as potatoes I have (I add a bit of salt now and then also). I let these brown nicely, undisturbed, checking after 5 or 10 minutes. I use the large pancake spatula nad turn the whole thing over to brown the second side. If it breaks up its ok. Just put brown side up and let them cook again. When getting close to done, (check 'em with a fork) I flood the pan and top with a bit of heavy cream, enough to cover the bottom and then add grated cheese. In this case I had White Cheddar on hand but I have used Fontina and /or Parmesan before with great reults.  I cover the whole thing with a lid, turn the flame very low and allow the cream to thicken and cheese to melt. about another 5 minutes.  I cut the servings like a pie. A bit of cracked pepper on top does not hurt. Delish.

Next time I make them, I will post a picture since there is nothing close on line I can find.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Things I just gotta try......

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

  • 3 lb. bag of frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle Frank's Wings Buffalo Sauce
  • 1 packet Ranch Dip Mix
  • 2 TBSP butter
  1. Put frozen chicken, wing sauce, and ranch dip mix into crock pot.
  2. Cook on low at least 6 to 7 hours
  3. Using two forks, shred chicken & return to crock pot.
  4. Add butter.
  5. Cook on low for an additional hour.
  6. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve is the time for close personal friends. Every year we celebrate with Jeff and Michale and each year I make Sausage and Tortellini soup. No one has said they are tired of it yet so I continue to make it without change but only for Christmas Eve.  I picked up the recipe years ago from Cooks website and it has always been a big hit.

The soup is redolent blend of flavors seasoned with traditional Italian herbs, basil and oregano. The sausage is browned well then the addition of red wine simply pushes the whole thing over the edge.


Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

1 lb of sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 c shopped onion
5 c beef broth
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 c dry red wine
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 c chopped or sliced carrots
1/2 t basil
1/2 t oregano
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c zucchini sliced
8 oz package frozen tortellini
3 T chopped parsley
1 medium green pepper diced
Parmesan Cheese for grating

I used cased sausage and cut it into 1/2 inch slices and brown casing and all but you can remove the casing. Brown well then remove and keep 1 T drippings. Saute onions and garlic until onions are tender. Add wine, tomatoes, broth, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce and add sausage back to the pot. Bring to a simmer and skim excess fat after 30 minutes.
Stir in zucchini, tortellini, parsley and peppers. Simmer till tortellini are tender, about 20 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

Today is a blustery day in the Big O so soup is the order of the day. I am exhausted from shopping, the tile guy here installing a new shower and just in general. Although I have been off the last 2 days for a four day weekend, I haven't gotten a proper amount of rest and fall asleep each night around 9-ish. I painted a canvas for Nick while Brenda was showering yesterday and he seems to be pleased with it but has only seen it in photos. He and Brooke will come over tonight to take a look.

So the soup is your basic Chicken Noodle. No meatballs or tortellini in this one. So to start:

1 Quart of water
1 med onion, unpeeled and cut in half
1 head of garlic cut in half
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
1 tbs Thyme leaves
1 tub of Knorr's chicken stock concentrate
a palm full of peppercorns
3-4 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on ( I used the saved wing tips also)
1 carton of chicken stock
1 package Reame's Frozen Egg Noodles
2 carrots diced
1 med onion diced
3 stalks celery diced

Bring the first 9 ingredients to a simmer until the chicken breasts are cooked through. About 30-40 minutes. This was good time to use up some of the wings tips I have been saving from the glut of chicken wings I had been making.

Strain the broth and set aside. I put a little butter in the stock pot and added my diced veggies for a few minutes, then added the strained broth back to the pot. I added an extra carton of chicken stock since I had a few extra mouths to feed. Taste now to add some salt. I like to wait since there is so much salt in the concentrate and pre -packaged stock. Shred to chicken and add it to the pot. Simmer till veggies are tender then bring to a boil and add the noodles. Cook till they float. Now, it's soup.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Denich Family Christmas Tradition....Stromboli

This time of year it seems I have to make this traditional bread or sandwich or whatever....I am not sure what to call it. I usually make my own bread dough but when I make this much, I just use a whole package of Rhodes Frozen Bread. I bake about 5 loaves or so to take to Brenda's folks for Christmas dinner sometime after the first of the year. I am not sure why I only make this for Christmas now. Its not really all that Christmasy but here goes:

So to start, you need some dough rolled into large rectangles. To this I add a sprinkling of Italian spices, garlic salt and pepper. A sprinkle of olive oil then a layer of thin sliced pepperoni topped with provolone cheese. Roll it all up nice a tight, pinch and seal, allow it to puff up a bit then bake till golden brown. Chewy, melty, a little greasy (in a good way) and filling. Hard to let it alone though once you start.

Last year, the deli gal did not remove the casing from the pepperoni. I really did not notice till we served it and it seemed as though everyone had a good flossing with each bite. (gross) This year I made sure to remind the deli who looked at me like I was stupid. Whatever.

Rolled out and spiced

pepperoni and cheese

Awaiting their turn in the oven

A tasty center

1 pkg of Rhodes dough, thawed and risen. (5 loaves)
1 pound of sandwich pepperoni (make sure the casing is removed before they slice it)
1 pound of thin sliced provolone cheese
2 T Italian seasoning, 1 t garlic salt, 1 t pepper
A few good glugs of good olive oil

Roll out each loaf separately. Sprinkle with seasoning, layer pepperoni, cheese then sprinkle with oil. Roll up tight, pinch ends and seam. Lay seam side down. Allow to puff up a bit (20 minutes) while oven is heating to 350.  Bake on non stick or sprayed pan for 20-30 mins till golden. Allow to cool a bit before slicing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Curried Squash Soup

Firstly, Happy Name Day to all you Spyridon's out there! χρόνια πολλά!
We have a few assorted squash in the basement getting ready for the next phase of their existence. For Christmas dinner this year we are having that great Prosciutto wrapped Stuffed Pork Roast I made earlier so I thought it would be  nice if we started with this soup. Quick and easy, I love the warmth of the curry and the slight sweetness of the apples. Low calorie, low carb and low fat too!

1 peeled butternut squash, chunked  (Since these are so hard to peel, I am cutting mine in half and baking it so I can just scoop the flesh out.)
2-3 Granny Smith apples chopped (not peeled)
1-2 quarts of vegetable stock (or chicken if you prefer)
1/4 cup or more of cream
1 T hot curry powder ot to taste. I use more.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

I place the squash and apples in a large sauce pan and cover with the stock. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer till the apples and squash are soft. (about 15 minutes)  Add your curry powder and use your immersion blender to make a smooth soup. Adjust the seasoning. Add the cream just before serving.

Chicken and company

We had met some great friends today at Wheatfields after church for a late brunch/ lunch. Such a great place to meet and talk. Afterwards we hit the Sur La Table and Trader Joe's to pick up a few things fro dinner and some gifts.

We all went to our house since they ad yet to see the kitchen and watched a movie "Cowboys and Aliens". Nice film, weird but OK. We laughed and talked all afternoon, snacked on stuff  and then I cooked some dinner. I had picked up 2 fennel bulbs at Joe's so we made our usual Chicken with fennel and tomatoes. I know, I just made it earlier last week but it was so tasty and they had not had fennel before. we paired it with a nice Pinot and some crusty bread from Joe's.  We just laughed and talked the evening away. They loved the kitchen and we are looking forward to our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with them and more fun.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Chicken 3 way...

So I took out a giant package of boneless chicken breasts. It's way too cold to grill tonight so what to do?  I pounded most of them flat and panko breaded a third, chicken fried a few and baked the unflattened ones.

The panko ones will be delish under our usual salad and vinagrette but also I had 2 fennel bulbs hiding in the fridge and some grape tomatoes that won't last much longer so tonight that made a vegetable base for some of the chicken. So tasty and such a wierd easy combo of flavors. Its almost embarassing how easy it is to throw together. Who would have thought....fennel.

The Chicken Fried Chicken is Ben's favorite. I would love it soaked in hot sauce and sliced over salad with blue cheese but Ben would prefer it with mashed spuds and cream gravy. It is good though just snacking on a section while cleaning up...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, I love brussels sprouts.....

This comes from Smitten Kitchen today. A lower cal version to my usual cream and cheese confection. My wife will be so happy.

Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 pound brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 to 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon smooth dijon mustard (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Trim sprouts and halve lengthwise. In a large, heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter and oil over moderate heat. Arrange halved sprouts in skillet, cut sides down, in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook sprouts, without turning until undersides are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the shallots, wine and stock and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low (for a gentle simmer), cover the pot with a lid (foil works too, if your skillet lacks a lid) and cook the sprouts until they are tender can be pierced easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, and scoop out brussels. Add cream and simmer for two to three minutes, until slightly thickened. Whisk in mustard. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary with more salt, pepper or Dijon. Pour sauce over brussels, sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crispy Pork

Not often, but every once in a while I cook a bit of Chinese. Tonight I had some pork loin cut into thick chops so I made it into Crispy Pork. **Warning**: I rarely measure so make sure you taste, taste, taste and adjust your seasoning accordingly.

1 pound of pork loin sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/2 c corn starch
1 Tb ginger powder
3-4 Tb oil
sugar peas
green onions
julienned carrots
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
Red Pepper flakes

1/4 Soy Sauce
1/4 water
1/4 c sherry
2 tbs corn starch
3 tbs sugar
1 t sesame oil

Steamed rice.

Combine flour and ginger powder. Mix sauce ingredients. Heat oil and dredge pork in flour mixture. Fry till golden in batches and set aside to drain on paper towels. Continue till all the pork is cooked.  Empty all but a tablespoon of oil and stir fry the veggies, adding the garlic and ginger when the veggies are just crisp tender. Pour sauce over veggies and allow to come to a boil and thicken. Remove from heat. Add the pork and toss to coat. Serve over rice.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A rare pasta evening....

Well, that turkey breast did not last near long enough and the meatloaf is almost gone so what to do for dinner?
It's been a while since we have had any pasta and I have a package of Italian sausage in the freezer so tonight is a good night for Pasta with Sausage and Cream. There is no cream in the recipe but you could sub it if you want. We use skim milk here so I thicken the sauce with a bit of flour and no one seems to miss the cream.

1 pound of Italian sausage, mild or hot, cut into chunks if links.
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1/2 chopped onion
3-4 tablespoons of flour
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 cups of milk
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 box of pasta, bow ties or regular spaghetti

Start by browning that sausage. Once you have a nice color and it's no longer pink, add the garlic and onions. Stir till softened then add the flour. Once the flour has cooked for a few minutes add the tomatoes. The sauce will begin to thicken then add some milk. Hard to say how much but it usually almost covers the sausages. Stir and simmer till nice and thick then add the Parmesan. Serve over the cooked pasta. Pass some Parmesan.

A family favorite, I had been making this so long I have forgotten where it came from. I know the recipe originally had cream but I have never made it that way mostly because of calorie concerns. It's a great quick meal that sticks to the ribs. Serve it with a side salad as you see it is lacking in green.  I always had a nice loaf of crusty bread to sop up the sauce but even that has fallen away since the great carb counting  life style we now embrace. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Don't let your Meatloaf.......

Ok I broke down and thawed a turkey breast for the rest of the week. I told you I really needed more turkey. Today, however, I made a meatloaf. A roulade to be exact. I used 2 pounds of ground beef and a pound of ground pork. After I mixed it all with an egg, breadcrumbs and chopped onion I placed it  on waxed paper and pressed it into a large rectangle about 3/4 inch thick and prepared a stuffing.
For the stuffing I sauteed 8 ounces of mushrooms, half the chopped onion and a few minced cloves of garlic. I spread that on the meat and added some sliced prosciutto, capacola and Italian cheeses. Everything was seasoned properly with salt and ground pepper then rolled up jelly roll style and place on a pan to roast at 350 for about an hour. It was slightly rare in the dead center so cook it longer if you like done in the center. The last 20 minutes of cooking I used that old ketchup and brown sugar glaze.

We ate this with roasted asparagus and some of the holiday leftover veggies. BTW, the creamed Parmesan onions were outstanding and even better leftover.

Hot from the oven

Thanksgiving Past, Game Day wings and regrets.....

Game day wings...had to work but not suffer! Brenda brought these to the Fangman's to watch the game and I took some to work for a little potluck. Some great stuff going on at work but had to be there most of the day.

The dinner gotta love Rhodes.
So the day has come and gone and I have nary a photo to display. The dinner was good, the gravy fantastic and the turkey, moist and brown. Those of you who do not brine are missing out mightly. Just a 1/4 cup of sugar and salt in 4 cups of water and soak that poultry for a night (if it's big like a turkey) or a few hours if it's a chicken or breasts.

Sadly, there is very little leftover and I am still hankering for turkey. I have a few more breasts in the freezer so I may have to indulge once more. After all the meat is low fat and I do have a bit of gravy left.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turkey Gravy....'s never too early to start cooking for me so today I picked up some gigantic turkey wings, about 2 pounds a piece. I am roasting them now about to make the stock for the gravy I will serve on Thursday. I can freeze the broth or keep it super cold till then. On Thursday I will make the roux and finish the gravy. Ok so I am a little compulsive about some things but last two years I have made this gravy I wanted to drink it for a main course.  From Tyler Florence the recipe follows:

2 pounds of Turkey wings
1 onion quartered (not peeled)
1 head of garlic halved (un peeled)
3 carrots chopped
1/2 bunch of sage
1/2 bunch of thyme
8 peppercorns
3 tbls olive oil

2 tbls butter
1/4 c flour
Salt and pepper

Roast the wings in a small roaster, 400 degrees till golden. About 30 mins

Heat 3 tbls olive oil to a heavy stock pot and add the vegetables, peppercorns and herbs. Cook for 5 minutes then add the turkey wings and  cold water to cover. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1-2 hours.
Make sure you add water to turkey roaster and scrape up all the brown bits and add that to the pot also.
Strain and set aside warm.  Clean the pot and the butter then flour. Toast the flour then add the broth, wisking lumps away and thickening the gravy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chicken Soup...not your mama's

It's a good day for great friends and soup, bread and cheese. This recipe I adapted from Tyler Florence "Ultimate Chicken Soup" has chicken meatballs and cheese tortellini instead of the usual fare. My family likes it better than the regular soup but I still miss the frozen noodles and chunks of chicken from the old days.

Chicken Noodle Soup

  6 to 8 servings  Ingredients
For the soup:
  Extra-virgin olive oil
  3 cloves garlic, smashed
  2 large carrots, chopped
  1 medium onion, chopped
  2 ribs celery, sliced
  1 bay leaf
  4 fresh thyme sprigs
  3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  5 parsley stems, plus 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  4 black peppercorns
  Kosher salt
  Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
For the meatballs:
  1 medium onion, diced
  Olive oil
  6 links organic chicken-apple sausage meat (I can't find this so I ground some chicken with a 1/2 Granny Smith and the rest of this stuff. I used 2 breasts and 3 thighs and the food processor.)
  1 egg
  1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  1 handful fresh parsley leaves
  1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  2 pounds frozen cheese tortellini, store bought
  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:
Set a large stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, half the garlic, carrot,
onion, celery, bay leaf, and thyme and gently saute until fragrant, about 5 to 7
minutes. Pour in chicken broth, add parsley stems, black peppercorns and salt,
to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer while you work on meatballs
and tortellini.
For the meatballs:
Caramelize the diced onion in a saute pan with a little olive oil over medium
heat. Add the sausage, egg, onion, thyme, parsley, and cheese to the bowl of a
food processor and pulse until they all come together. Season with salt and
pepper. Heat a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil until just smoking.
Use a small ice cream scoop to drop meatballs onto skillet. Cook, turning, until
golden brown.
Drop tortellini straight from freezer into soup. Cook until they float. Once
meatballs are browned, add to pot of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook
for 2 or 3 minutes. Give soup a final seasoning and serve in shallow bowls with
a small shower of Parmesan, olive oil, and parsley.

Friday, November 11, 2011

French Onion Soup

Isn't it romantic? On a moonlight night, she'll cook me onion soup.....

It's a soup day in the Big O. So here is my version of a quick easy French Onion. Make sure you have some toasted bread rounds and good melting cheese. When you are ready to eat, the broiler has to be hot and ready to go!

It does not get much better than this...

3 to 4 medium yellow onions sliced thin.
2 tbls of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbl butter
2 t dried thyme
1 can of beef broth, 2 cans of water
1 can of beef consume
1 pkg vegetable bullion concentrate (Swanson's)
salt and pepper
3/4 c red wine

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and start cooking the onions over medium heat. As they begin to soften, add a sprinkling of salt. Cook till translucent and starting to caramelize. I added a tbl of butter to help browning a bit. Add the minced garlic and thyme. Pour in the red wine and scrape up any brown bits from the pan. Add the broths and concentrate. Add 2 cans of water. Allow to come to a boil then lower heat to simmer. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Allow to simmer slowly for 20 minutes or more. I added a tbls of Kitchen Bouquet to enhance the color a bit. Start the broiler. Get the soup nice and hot then ladle into oven proof bowls. Top with toasted bread rounds and cheese and broil till the cheese bubbles. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Panko Chicken with Fennel and Tomatoes

Great recipe from an ad for Olive oil. Surprised me how tasty this was.


1/3 c flour
2 whole eggs beaten
1 1/3 c Panko
1 T oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
4 6 oz chicken breast pounded to 1/2 inch thick
3 T olive oil

2 fennel bulbs trimmed and sliced thin
2 T Olive Oil
4 medium garlic cloves minced
1/8 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t salt
2 cups grape tomatoes halved
1/2 oz parmesean shaved

Place eggs in a bowl, flour in another and Panko, oregano, paprika in a third.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge first in flour, egg then panko. Heat 3 T olive oil in a large skillet 4 minutes per side till no longer pink. Set aside on paper towels.

In the same pan, add 2 T olive oil and sautee the fennel till edges brown, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and red pepper cook another 2-3 minutes. Add garkic last for 20 seconds.  Seanson with salt and pepper.

Place veggies on serving platter, top with chicken and shaved cheese.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Homesick Texan Carnitas
Adapted, just barely, from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice (from about 2 to 3 limes)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
Corn tortillas, for serving plus
Avocado slices, chopped cilantro and fixings of your choice (we love pickled jalapenos or onions, lime wedges and a bit of slaw)
Place the pork in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and enough water to just barely cover the meat. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for two hours. Don’t touch the meat.
After two hours, increase the heat to medium-high and while occasionally stirring and turning the pieces, continue to cook for about 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid has evaporated, leaving only the rendered pork fat. Let it sizzle in this fat long enough to brown at the edges, turning pieces gently (they’ll be eager to fall apart), only as needed.
When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve on warmed tortillas with fixings.

Ribs, slaw and wings.....Game Day

Raked leaves and out for breakfast today. Everyone is otherwise occupied so we are empty nesters today. We hit a 245 show "Crazy, Stupid Love" and then came home to grill some baby backs, roast some chicken wings and make a bit of slaw.  Yeah, I know we pretty much missed the game but caught up with it everywhere we went.

Served up these bad boys with a nice 2010 Predator old vine Zinfandel. Nice wine, spicy, medium dry paired well with the barby sauce (Sticky Stuff)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roasted Parmesan Creamed Onions

From Thiebaults Table I give you this. Delicious!


 Roasted Parmesan-Creamed Onions

 Roasted Parmesan-Creamed Onions. 

If you love onions, you have to try this dish. 
It is the perfect accompaniment to pork, chicken, beef, lamb, etc...

Roasted Parmesan-Creamed Onions

Rick Tramonto - Osteria Cookbook

Talk about succulent! The yellow onions are pretty pungent when you slice them, but surrender their kick when they are roasted and become sweet and tender. When they reach this point, the cream sauce is poured over them, they are topped with shaved cheese, and then the whole thing is returned to the oven for a slow melt. I like to cook these in a wood oven to get some smoke on them, which makes them even better-if that's possible. Great with chicken, lamb, beef-you name it! I also like it served as a first course.
Serves 4

4 medium yellow onions
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry white wine
Minced garlic (my addition)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved (about 2 tablespoons)

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2 slices the onions into 1/4-inch-thick rings and lay them in a shallow baking pan, such as a sheet pan or jelly roll pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned.
3 Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the cream and wine (and garlic) to a simmer over medium-high heat. As soon as the liquid starts to bubble around the edges, remove from the heat.
4 Spoon about a tablespoon of the cream mixture over each onion slice. Cover with aluminum foil, return to the oven, and cook for about 25 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F.
5 Remove the foil and top the onions with the shaved cheese. Return the pan to the oven and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the edges caramelize. Serve hot.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wedding Cake Central....

Mackenzie and the Divine Miss Em were over yesterday to mess up the kitchen. Seems like no matter how big your kitchen is, there is always more room to be had.  The boys had commandeered the kitchen table to build a new PC for Benjamin. So nice to come from work and all your kids are there busy. Lots of laughs and conversation throughout the evening. In between it all I managed to cook some dinner. Just your basic grilled chicken breasts (brined of course) some sprouts gratin, roasted beets and pan gratin potatoes. Yep, a lot of gratin but little carbs and modest portions makes it all doable.

adding the chicago skyline

The yet to be assembled wedding cake

Finishing Touches to dry for the Chicago Pennant

The Bulls, The Bears and The Sox...I guess the groom is a sports fan from Chicago?

The ladies baked 14 cakes or so in the new ovens with some minor trials but the task at hand was completed and the cake layers are assembled and the edible fondant applied and ready to be decorated today at 10 am. The kitchen was a bonafide mess but easily cleanable and no permanent damage. A lot of cake trimmings hit the waistline though so the next week is going to be all about working off those nasty but delicious carbs! Pics to follow I am sure......can't wait to see the final product.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prepping for the weekend....

Haven't cooked much this month with our vacation and my trip to D.C. This weekend I will redeem myself and we have invited some church friends over for dinner.  The menu is probably going to be Chicken Caccitore  which I have poted the recipe before. I did notice though that I did not post the recipe for then polenta I serve the Caccitore on. so here goes:


  • 1 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot add milk and cream along with thyme and garlic. Bring to a simmer then shut off the heat to let the milk and cream steep. Let it steep for at least 30 minutes. Once steeped, strain the milk mixture and discard the thyme and garlic. Bring the milk and cream mixture back up to a simmer and gradually pour in the cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Once the milk is completely absorbed, lower the heat and set a timer for 20 minutes. Continue cooking, whisking often, until the timer goes off, add chicken stock if the mixture is too thick (it should be like creamy mashed potatoes). Once the timer goes off the polenta should be thick and smooth. Finish with butter, grated Parmigiano and salt and pepper.

This stuff is so good I have to keep myself from just spooning up a bowl ful andeating it. Under the Cacciatore it is crazy good. I might have to make 2 batches for the weekend festivities.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eating in D.C. this past week.....

So...I was invited to attend a Clinical Infomatics meeting in Washington D.C. this week. We stayed at the Renaissance where the meeting was held and had some great meals there. I did venture out but since I was alone, did not venture too far. I got to try 5 Guys and had a cheeseburger and a boatload of fries. This place is in Omaha too but I have never been there but the boys have. I have to admit, I can't have this often but I will always crave it. Best darn burger ever! Yum. On the way home from the airport last night we were able to grab a quick table at M's Pub where I had a nice lamb burger with dijon. So good.

The meeting went well and I had the final, invitation only, section on Saturday. So nice to address like minded people and discuss ideas of a similar nature. It seems lately that I do nothing but try to convince a lot of people there really is a better way and I have seen the path to it. Slowly but surely.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Salmon Chowder

Saw an episode of "Throwdown" with Bobby Flay on Salmon Chowder and was inspired for Friday night supper.  I used the recipes for a guide but wound up following my heart and what I had on hand. I skipped the bacon although I am sure it is wonderful but no meat on Fridays for us.

The stock:

4 cups of water
1 onion cut in half, unpeeled
1 stalk celery rough chop with leaves
1 tbl salt
2 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 c white wine
20 shrimp in the shell

I boiled everything and removed the shrimp, shelled them and added the shells back to the broth. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Reserve the shrimps and chop for later.

For the rest:

1-1 1/2 pounds grilled salmon (I grilled it till slightly underdone) Flake with fork.
2-3 ounces smoked salmon chopped 1/2 cubes
4-5 Youkon Gold potatoes, 3/4 inch cubes, roasted with a bit of olive oil
1 leek, sliced thin
2 stalks of celery large dice
1 onion large dice
3T butter
3T flour
1 cup cream

Strain the broth and and start to simmer again in a large pan.

I sauteed the leek, onion and celery in 3T butter till the veggies were crisp tender. To this I sprinkled 3T flour and mixed well.   Add this to the broth and allow the broth to thicken. Add the salmon, shrimps, smoked salmon. Finish with the cream and garnish with fresh tarragon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mexican Holiday.......

Every year, we go to Mexico around this time. Just a nice getaway for a week. We have asked folks to go with us but it never works out so we go alone and are never sorry. After this year, we'll not invite anyone again. We just had so much fun and a chance to meet new folks and as always the service and resort was 5 star.  One of the things I anticipated everyday, if you know me at all, was my next meal. In these poor economic times and strange weather year, there were certain things that were not available this year or in short supply. Avocados was one of those things. We always look forward to buckets of guacomole but found none this year and a lot of fresh fruits were absent.

We celebrated Brenda's birthday, as we aways do,  but this year the resort took it to a new level for us and really treated us special. Wonderful place, wonderful people and a really special partner to share it all with. Does it get any better...probably not.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tasting Gin!

Nick came over with Mackenzie to finish off the leftovers from last night and a few bottles of "clearance" Gin from HyVee. The leftovers were delicious and the gin....was different. Not a gin drinker myself but I tasted each. Some had an over powering juniper flavor while others were more reserved. My favorite was "Q". The most expensive for sure.

Here is how it shakes out:

Q                          Smooth, light, refreshing
Citadelle              smooth, bitter, floral
Wet                      lighter
Plymouth             like Citadelle
Boodles               light tasting
Bombay              floral
Henricks             heavy juniper, bitter

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples....Fall day menu

An adventurous day for sure. A new recipe for some old friends and a football game. The cover of Bon Appetit this fall has this roast featured. Luckily it can be prepared early so I can clean up the kitchen before guests arrive. With the roast we will have Domino Potatoes and asparagus. The menu called for Brussels Sprouts but I am not sure that because I love them everyone else does too.

For dessert? A nice Panna Cotta with a Mixed Berry Coulis Already in the fridge jelling as we speak.

A word to the wise, this recipe was quite complicated and I had the butcher fillet the roast for me since the service was free. I surprised at how big it rolled up and would not fit in the frying pan to sear it. Did the best I could but a lot of stuffing fell on the stove. Looks like dinner for 12 rather than 4. We'll have plenty of leftovers for sure. Suffered a nasty burn trying to lift this giant meat roll off the stove to the roaster though so I am tending to a painful burn on the inside of my finger. Makes it tough to do the dishes......honey? Darling?

Butterflied pork with kale layer

Stuffing onions, apples, garlic and ground pork

trying to brown this giant on my largest pan. Thats prociutto on top.

Roasted on a bed of apples to perfection

Domino potatoes, browned and buttered

Prosphora baking day.....

Started the day at about 06 early and began the process of baking Holy Bread for services tomorrow. I've talked about this before. The bread is now cooling on racks covered in dish towels (no fabric softener please!)

The process is kinda of rote now for me. 7 cups of flour and a tablespoon each of yeast and salt. 3 cups of warm water makes a sticky, wet dough from the Kitchen Aid mixer that rises for about a hour or little more. Reshaped into the pans, sealed and rise again while the oven heats up. I baked at 325 convection today and it took about an hour to reach 200 degrees. You know what the finished loaves look like already so I won't bore you with another photo.
The seals
wet dough

second rise with seal

shower cap covers during rise

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Artichoke Salsa

Another Wednesday fish dinner in the menu. Tonight it's my favorite way to grill salmon and top it with an easy salsa heavy on artichokes, capers and tomatoes.

For the salmon:

Place skin side down on non stick foil. Coat with a good olive oil and sprinkle with Crazy Jane's.  Grill till done to you liking. I start and finish really hot. We love the crispy bottom and succulent meat.

Now, the salsa:

Chop half a medium red onion
1 clove of garlic  minced
2 T capers
3/4 c chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 c tomato chopped or halved cherry tomatoes
Dress with 1/2 t sugar, 1/2 t salt and pepper
A splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice

Let sit in the fridge for a while and serve over salmon

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Not my ususal fare but......

Jacques Torres' Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I have experimented with countless recipes searching for that perfect chocolate chip cookie. The characteristics of the perfect cookie are a very personal matter, and here are my preferences:

texture: chewy w. medium thickness --- everyone has their preference, and this is mine!

chocolate to cookie ratio: 50/50 --- I really enjoy having a lot of chocolate in every bite

chips vs. chunks: chunks --- I like sizeable pieces of chocolate in my cookie.

type of chocolate: bittersweet --- I like using Valrhona 61% extra bitter

nuts or other add-ins: NONE!!

With the above criteria in mind, this recipe is the closest I've come to experiencing CCC perfection. It's the "not so secret" secret recipe from Jacque Torres, and I'm sure many of you have read about this or already tried this at home. I've been making this recipe countless times, and have found that the following tips make this cookie absolutely perfect:

- Don't substitute the pastry and bread flours w. AP flour. I really believe that the combination of the pastry and bread flours give the cookie a nice slightly crunchy exterior giving way to a really tender middle.

- Hand chopped chocolate chunks, NOT premade chips - I will purchase a hunk of the best bittersweet chocolate that I can afford and hand cut them into chunks. The easiest method to chop a block of chocolate: nuke the block at 50% power for a few seconds, no more. It softens the chocolate just enough. Then take a large kitchen knife and chop away! Your effort will be rewarded with really nice ribbons of melted chocolate throughout the cookie.

- Chill the cookie dough at least 24 hours (I let my dough sit anywhere from 2-3 days) before baking. This is not for taste reasons that were recently written about in an article from NY Times (god forbid we're aging cookie dough...let's leave that for wine and cheese). IMHO, refrigeration makes a difference with the look and texture. I think the dough sets in a way so when you bake the cookies, you end up with the lovely wrinkles and folds as the balls of dough spread and bake.
Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies
1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.
- Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
- Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies.
- Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thanks to A Tender Crumb I found on Pinterest


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...