Friday, April 29, 2011


A bit of applewood smoked bacon....baked in the oven to crisp, meltaway perfection on a low carb pita with crumbled blue cheese, tomato and lettuce and a bit of blue cheese dressing to get the juices flowing.....yummy.  Ya gotta love bacon.
 I love these pitas. 60 calories each.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

M's Pub for lunch

Mmmmmmm...lamb burger with a potent dijon mustard. Yummy!

I forgot how much this little gem of restaurant in the midst of the Old Market in Omaha is such a pleasure. I think the last time I had a meal here was before my thesis show in the Gallery At The Market which closed after our show. You could see into the Gallery from M's. I have most of the pieces from that show in my possesion. Its was a great time in 1976. Hard to believe that M's has been there that long!

The menu has all kinds of goodies and perhaps its just my age, but I found it to be reasonably priced also. Going to have to consider this more often.

Last night we hit the Red Eye Tavern for burgers and wings. 2 for one.  Its a regular meatfest this week. Gonna have to hit the diet hard on Monday.  Blue cheese burger for me with a side salad. You see, I'm not all bad. I ate a salad.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Before the 2nd rise

Out of the oven and decorated

The Easter Braid. When we went to St. Mary's I used to make this for the brunch. It is cinammon/ sugar filled braids. Sometimes I would put colored eggs in the folds. I made a smaller one this year and we had plenty left for toast or french toast.
We call 'em Gene's potatoes
Gene's Potatoes is a recipe from an in-law chef who made these a few times. I stole the recipe and made them for catered affairs to rave reviews. So simple. A basic thick white sauce with melted processed swiss and a bit of chicken bullion. I use 1/2 and 1/2 for the sauce. Pour the sauce over canned potatoes and bake till hot.  So creamy and delicious. I thought the leg of lamb was a bit dry so the sauce made it go down easier.

Roasted Breast of Lamb
 I found this cut at WalMart that caters to latinos. Its a cheap cut of meat and very fatty. Sometimes I simmer it for an hour to render the fat but this time I simply tented the 2 sections and roasted for about an hour. A lot of fat rendered off but the meat is so suculent and the surface is crispy. The house smelled so great but Brenda thought it was gamey. No matter. There is not a lot of meat but what is there is memorable.
The leg of lamb I grilled. I lost track of time because I was getting the pond operational and it got a bit dry. Still makes a great lunch though.

All in all it was a great Pascha and we had the kids and others. A lot of fun.

The Easter Braid

about 3 cups of flour, plus
2 t yeast
1 cup scalded milk
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 T butter
1 t mace
1 t orange peel
1 T cinnamon
1 T sugar
1 T softened butter
Op. eggs, colored raw or cooked,  sprinkles, frosting. (Make sure there are no cracks in the eggs)

Scald the milk and let cool, add egg and sugar. Make sure the butter is very soft.
Add the spices to the flour as well as the yeast and salt.  Iused a mixer and added the wet ingredients plus the butter to the dry. Add just enough flour to make a soft dough and knead for 5 mins with the mixer. (Soft means that the dough will fall off the mixing hook raher than maintain its shape.

Rise till double.  Divide into 3 and roll each section into a rectangle. Spread a  thin layer of butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll into a 15 inch log. Braid all three logs and either leave long or in a circle. Tuck eggs into the folds now if you want. They can be colored, raw or hardboiled.  Raise again till double. Bake at 350 on a non stick pan or parchment till golden brown (about 200 degrees.) The raw eggs will have cooked.  Cool and frost with powdered sugar mixed with cream and a hint of vanilla. Liberally apply sprinkles.  Makes one small braid about 11 inches.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Morrocan Leg of Lamb

Marinating the butterflied boneless leg of lamb tonight for the grill tomorrow.

1 tbl roasted corriander and cumin
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 inch knob of rough chopped ginger
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 lemon juiced

Flatten the leg of lamb and butterfly open, place in a gallon bag and pour marinade over. Let sit in the fridge overnight.

Post Liturgical Lunch

After Holy Saturday Liturgy we stopped at Shirley's Diner and had Cheese Frenchee's and onion rings. Yum so good but an indulgence one can only have on occasion. Came home and started brining the chicken for tomorrow and finishing the grocery list for this afternoon. Debating making some jerky just for grins but it is so much work and I can' take the smell this late in the fast. It would push me over the edge!

The service is one our favorites but its poorly attended and yet so important. Mid service the priest throws handfulls of rose petals and basil into the church and all over the parishoners and a douse of Holy Water. We skipped Holy Thursday and then felt bad about it this year but I was exhausted. Still, few showed up and we felt terrible. Can you imagine what it's like for the priest? He puts on all this great stuff and even his chanters fail to show. Sad really.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pascha..... the Orthodox way

It's the middle of Holy Week and God help me I am already thinking of foods to prepare for Sunday. Not sure who is going to be around but.....

Well, we go the Greek Church but we are not Greek. That being said, even my Serbian heritage commands that I serve lamb. Not all my family likes the lamb as much as I do (and the boys). This year, instead of buying a huge boneless leg, I have a smaller leg and some lamb breast. I will cook both along with some brined chicken breasts and perhaps a few hamburgers and wings. I posted the lamb breast before and it makes me hungry just thinking of the smell as it cooks. Crazy good.

Church continues throughout the week becoming more intense as we approach Friday night. After the Saturday night service, we will feast again this year on some sort of beef. I usually prefer when they serve Greek food but Sunday's picnic will quell that need besides what I am cooking at home.  It's hard to eat that heavy food at 1 a.m. in the morning after fasting from meat for 40 days but I will try to choke it down! Normally, at the old church,  we did not stay for dinner and brought beef jerky in the car to devour on the way home. For some reason my Catholic/ Lutheran  friends find that hilarious but they have never given up so much for so long. Don't get me wrong, as far as fasting goes, we are terrible at it (since we don't fast from dairy). Amazing how many people, after finding out we don't eat meat during Lent will ask "Do you eat chicken then?".  Crazy.

When I get up Sunday morning, usually way too early, I will start cooking and marinating the meats of the day. At 4p.m.  we have the last service of the Paschal season (Agape) and then the church picnic. All the kids can't make it there so we will have a home feast also beforehand.  I have overdone this in the past as everyone wanted something different but this year I lust for chicken wings and burgers as as well as lamb. All will be accommodated and leftovers will run rampant for the rest of the week. Honestly, once I taste meat again, I will wonder what the big deal is.


Crab Rangoons

I have a bit of crab left over from the Sunday feast so it was time to make some crab rangoon to use it up. I had about 1/2 pound of crab.

1/4 to 1/2 pound of crab
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
2 green onions minced
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
Salt and Pepper
1 package of wonton skins

I mix the first ingredients and then fill the skins with a 1/2 teaspoon or more of filling. I fold these into triangles, seal with water and cook them in hot oil in a fry pan. The oil has to be deep enough to come the the sides of the formed rangoons. Serve hot although they are good cold and leftover also (if there any left)


Monday, April 18, 2011

Palm Sunday Seafood feast

After church today we had the annual Plaki Dinner. It was great. They had several cases of cod loins they baked in the tomato sauce I made for the event. There was precious little sauce left over even after I made an extra gallon. We brought home the extra for Mackenzie. She loves it on pasta.

Later that evening the kids came over. A tradition in the house since my Dad was alive, we cook crab legs, lobster, shrimp, mussels and pretty much any seafood I have left in the house. A nice big helping of fresh asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes rounded out the meal. We'll take the leftovers for lunch but really, there wasn't much left by the time the kids took food home for lunch the next day. I made a prosphora loaf also which is already 3/4 gone.

With the leftover crab I will make crab rangoon.  The rest of the week we will scrounge for something until Pascha Saturday night when we break the fast after a long week of church services. Sounds like all the kids will be at church Saturday night.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ahi Tuna and baby bok choy and sprouts

Getting close to the end of Lent and I am cleaning the fish selections from the fridge. Palm Sunday tomorrow, so our annual crab and shrimps extravaganza. Not as big as usual but we are not sure who will show up.

Tonight I grilled ahi tuna rare to medium and sauteed bok choy with sprouts. I also made a side of sprouts au gratin. Can't get enough of that stuff. We have been eating almost everyday....crazy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pretzels, the lenten food

This is a repost from another blog. don't they look good? Being an ugly American, I thank God for my kithcen scale that will measure in metric to make attempting these possible. Time to start the fermentation and I'm not too sure about the lye.....I used to use baking soda in boiling water but that's what creates the chewy crust.


April 20, 2008

Bretzel vs Pretzel - The deluxe recipe

This is the hard way of baking original German (Swabian) Bretzels. For the easy way, check out the Pretzel post at TheFreshLoaf. And by the way, I do think that going the extra mile of creating the Pâte fermentée and using real lye (Food grade Sodium Hydroxide - NaOH, which I bought from AAA Chemicals) is totally worth the effort.

I got the recipe from a German site called Chili und Chiabatta. This is my English version, slightly simplified:
A day ahead, create the Pâte fermentée (fermented dough):
  • 144g White Flour
  • 94g Water
  • 2.8g Salt
  • 1 pinch of Dry Yeast
Kneed everything together, cover and let rise for 12-16h at about 70F.
Now create the real dough:
  • 578g White Flour
  • 340g Water
  • 12g Salt
  • 14g Fresh Yeast (I used 2.5 tsp Dry Yeasy)
  • 36g soft Butter
  • 7g Baking Malt (I used 1 tbsp Cane Sugar)
  • 240g Pâte fermentée (all the above)
Mix everything together, except the Pâte fermentée, for 3min in the FoodPro. Now add the Pâte fermentée in chunks and continue to kneed for 5min. Let rise for 1h (in a slightly greased bowl, covered with cling wrap at 21C), fold the dough and let rise for another hour.
Make about 15 portions (85g each) and roll them out to about 60cm long 'worms' with a thick middle section. Lay into the typical Bretzel shape.
Cover with cloth and let rise for 30-45min. Now cool in the fridge for 30min - the Bretzels are a lot easier to handle afterward.
Now the fun part - The lye:
  • 1250g cold Water
  • 50g NaOH
Warning: Wear protective goggles and gloves and only use glass or stainless steel - especially aluminum does not withstand this solution (check your baking pan)!
(Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 230C) Slowly stir the NaOH into the cold water until fully dissolved. Using a large skimmer dunk each Bretzel into the solution for 5s. Top with coarse salt and using a sharp knife, make an incision at the belly of the Bretzel.

Update: Because those Bretzels taste the best right after baking, I did try to freeze a couple of them at this point in the process and the result was encouraging - Give it a try, if you don't think you will eat all of them right away :)
On a well greased baking pan (No Al!) bake the Bretzels for 14-16min at 230C.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yet...another dough

While I am still experimenting in the food processor and the cold rise here is afellow that likes a similar mixture and a warm rise....

Basic Pizza Dough 
Yield: enough dough for two pies baked in 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheets
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) instant or active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon plus pinch (3 grams) sugar
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) water
Extra Virgin olive oil for pan
In a bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water, and using a spoon, your hand, or a baker's plastic bench scraper, mix together until blended -- about a minute (Jim says 30 seconds but mine took a bit longer). You don't want to mix or knead this dough too much, or else the gluten will develop and you won't be able to shape it in the pan. But you want to mix in all the lumps of flour. In the end, you'll arrive at a stiff dough.
Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. (If your room is cold, put it in the oven with a pilot light to warm up a bit, or in a closed cabinet).
Dump out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Use both pieces, or save one in the refrigerator (I use a zip lock bag) for up to 1 day. Oil a 13x18 inch rimmed baking sheet liberally with good extra virgin olive oil (yes, pour it on). Then gently plop the dough on the pan and stretch and press it out to the edges. If it springs back (that's the gluten working) wait five minutes and then proceed. I found the gluten weak enough to spread it fully over the pan. The dough is very thin. If it tears, piece it back together.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Psari Plaki for about 100

Every year at Palm Sunday the church hosts a fish dinner for the parish. Last year, the family (us) single handed put the dinner on which consists of portions of cod baked in a red sauce over spaghetti. A Greek standard.  Making the sauce for 100 portions in a church that doesn't have a pot to cook in (literally) proved too much so this year we decided to let someone else do the cooking. I really missed the Palm Sunday service the last two years anyway. Well...I had to at least make the sauce this year, again.

My kitchen is a disaster area after:

15 pounds of sliced onions
6 pounds of celery
3 gallons of tomato products (1 gallon of tomato puree, 1 gallon of crushed tomatoes and 1 gallon of Ragu, don't judge me)
1 cup of garlic, minced
1/2 c oregano
1/2 c basil
1 bottle good red wine
8 bay leaves
1/2 c sugar
about 1/2 q. of olive oil
lemons, about 3 juiced, into the sauce
Salt and pepper as needed about 1/2 c salt but taste as you add.

Just cooking the onions took 6 fry pans mounded full. The big fry pans.  It's all about logisitics and being able to combine all the batches for one cohesive sauce. I have every stock pot in the house full of plaki sauce and thank God I bought another boiler plate for the stove so the cheaper pots would not scorch the sauce. Its all now simmering away, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking. Now, how do I get it all to church? It made about 5 gallons.

Editors note:

Since I purchased the big pot (6 gallon), I simply cook all the onions and celery at once. There is a lot of liquid produced as these cook and I use that as part of the sauce, simply adding the tomato products as part of the mix.  I simmer for a bit with the boiler plate as it tends to stick on the bottom and burning is a deal breaker. Now, its a one pot deal and the sauce is pretty good.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Onion and cheese omelet with hashbrowns

Every once in a while, you forget that homecooked is way better than store bought breakfast. I sauteed onions slowly this morning till they were golden and translucent. I removed them from the pan, beat 3 eggs and shredded some cheese. A pat of butter in an oversized fry pan then in with the eggs which covered the bottom. Once semi set, I added back the onions and cheese then folded in thirds to the middle. Yum. The hashbrowns just happed to be a golden brown and tasty as well.  Beats the heck out of going out.
Quick and Easy Hash Brown Cheese Omelet

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spinach gnocchi

The recipe I posted a few days ago I decided against. This time I used some riccota with the spinach and a few eggs. A smattering of flour pulled it into a nice dough. Some rapid boiling water cooked these tender little pillows. Then a final saute in butter to give them a little brown jacket. Served topped with parmesean.




  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta, drained to remove excess moisture
  • 10 ounces finely chopped spinach, excess moisture removed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Just so you know, I only used one package of frozen spinach and 3/4 8oz carton of ricotta.


Combine ricotta, spinach, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Add 1 1/4 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix. The remaining 1/4 cup of flour should only be used if the dough is too sticky.

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface.

Divide the dough into workable pieces.

With your hands, roll the pieces of dough into long cylinders approximately 3/4 of an inch in diameter.

Cut the cylinders into 1-inch pieces. Make a depression in each gnocchi to shape.

In a large pot with 6 to 8 quarts of salted boiling water, add gnocchi and carefully stir to prevent sticking.

As gnocchi start to cook they will float to the surface. Cook approximately 1 minute more.

Remove gnocchi with slotted spoon or strainer. Add a saute pan with your favorite sauce or butter. Saute briefly. Add your choice of grated cheese and serve.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Salmon, sprouts and salad

Tonight a nice slab of grilled salmon. So crsipy on the bottom, I even ate most of the skin. Side that with my favorite brussel sprout recipe (au gratin) and a fresh salad. Yum. Carmel Pinot Noir to pair....delish.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spinach Gnocchi

Spinach Gnocchi

make about 10 -12 gnocchi

* Be sure to use freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese - pre-grated cheese in the grocery store will not work as well.

10 ounces of fresh spinach
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
a few grindings of pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese or Grana Padano
1/2 cup freshly grated bread crumbs *

Thoroughly wash the fresh spinach and place in a steamer basket.  Steam until wilted.  Remove and place in clean towels and wring out as much liquid as you can.  Chop finely.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Shape the mixture into balls and place on a cookie sheet or any prep pan.  The mixture will be very wet.  Flour your hands or roll the gnocchi in a little flour to shape them into balls a little smaller than the size of a walnut.  At this point, you can put them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them later.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  With a slotted spoon or a handled strainer, place a few gnocchi at a time in the simmering water and cook for about 2 minutes.  Remove with the slotted spoon to a serving dish and keep warm by tenting with a piece of foil.  Repeat with remaining gnocchi.

You can dress these gnocchi with just some olive oil, sea salt and some more grated cheese.  This is my favorite way to eat them.

*  Make your own fresh bread crumbs for this.  Just take any bread and grind it in your food processor.  Fresh bread crumbs!  It makes a difference. 

The Italian Dish

Monday, April 4, 2011


So today is my first day back from a late night getting in from New Orleans. We had a fantastic lunch yesterday with a great physician from Grand Island who was one of my favorite fellows at the RedFish Grill.  So tasty.

All last week I was thinking about making some ciopinno. We bought some frozen at Trader Joe's and I thought I could do that. Have all kinds of seafoods in the fridge and I got up this morning to make the base with the last of my San Marzano's. Off to the market for a bit of clam stock (don't think I can find fish stock but I could by it frozen at Shucks for a premium)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Eating New Orleans

Got here late, very late, Wednesday night and got to my meeting Thursday on time. Brenda and I met for lunch at a local sports bar. We had fried crawfish salads and onion straws. A lot of food then back to the meeting. Afterwards we walked Royal Street and stopped at the Royal Oyster House for dinner. Raw oysters are nothing like they are in Omaha. So fresh and tasty and then the main course of salmon with a crab sautee. It was all so good and the Malbec was great. We strolled Bourbon Street but we were not impressed. Lots of drunks and horse crap in the street.

Today, Brenda brought me a oyster po'boy from Mother's. It was great and she had the grilled shrimps po'boy. But really, $18 for a sandwich. It was'nt THAT great. I finished the meeting at around 3:30 and walked to the hotel. After a short nap we headed out down Decateur Street and stopped at the Cathederal. Great place. We walked the whole French Open market then tired and thirsty we headed for the Cresent Brewery and swilled a local brew. They had a seafood cheesecake on the menu so that's our appetizer for the night. A sublime and savory blend of cheeses and crawfish served like a giant wedge of cheesecake. Light and fluffy it disappeared fast spead on toasts. Yum, gonna have to try this one at home.

Tonight we are going to have to find another dinner spot. Perhaps Deanies. Please, something not deep fried.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...