Sunday, July 31, 2011

Roasted Grape tomato and garlic caprese

Had a few Grape Tomatoes going south so I roasted them with a few garlic cloves in olive oil and salt and pepper. When they had the "look" and the garlic was soft, I chopped the garlic and placed it all in a bowl. To this I added a few chopped basil leaves, some white balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add Mozzarella pearls and then refrigerate.

 Mix and enjoy.  Tonight? St. Louis style ribs with Kohlrabi and Fennel salad.

Last week some friends were in Chicago and at my request brought me back a bottle of Aperol. A bitter orange liqueur. More bitter than I had imagined. (And I am talking bitter, not tart) We had everyone over last night for cocktails.

Aperol Spritzer

3 parts Proseco
2 parts Aperol
splash of club soda
Orange slice

Mix over ice and enjoy.  Everyone loved then. I did not, however. I cannot tolerate bitter for some reason so while I did drink one I probably won't drink another. I'll stick to scotch, thank you. Looks delicious though!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Those in the know...

My buddy Olga from Adelaide was quick to point out that the inscription on St. Euphrosynos was incorrect and the word "cook" was wrong. I referred back to my model but the model was wrong also. I wonder if they know? Anyway I have to remove the finish and fix the error. Not sure if anyone but me and the saint would know but....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crab Salad for a potluck

I should actually say Krab Salad as I did use surimi.

1 pound surimi
1/2 c shredded cheddar
1/2 med red onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1 t dill
1 t Old Bay
3-4 tbls mayo
1 t dijon

I chopped the surimi pretty well as I bought flake style.
Mixed it all together added pepper and a bit of olive oil.  Delicious.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Current Project

Now that I have finished my commission and personal icon my lovely bride asked what have I done for her lately? So my current project will be that of St. Alexandra the Sister of Mercy. A patron Saint of nurses. Here is a likely protoype:

Not exactly my kinda icon but I will make it less western and more to what we are used to.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Things Every Orthodox Should Know.....

     FASTING and Praying

Just as there are times for feasting, there are also times set aside for fasting. During these periods, certain foods are prohibited. These are, in order of frequency of prohibition, meat (including poultry), dairy products, fish, olive oil and wine. Fruits, vegetables, grains and shellfish are permitted throughout the year. Of course, the Orthodox Church never reduces the practice of fasting to a legalistic observance of dietary rules. Fasting, that is not accompanied by intensified prayer and acts of charity, inevitably becomes a source of pride.

The Church also recognizes that not everyone can fast to the same degree, and assumes that individual Christians will observe the fast prescribed for them by their spiritual fathers.

The following are fasting days and seasons:
  • All Wednesdays and Fridays, except for those noted below;
  • The day before the Feast of Theophany (January 5);
  • Cheese fare Week (the last week before the Great Lent, during which meat and fish are prohibited, but dairy products are permitted even on Wednesday and Friday); ;
  • Great Lent (from Clean Monday through the Friday before Lazarus Saturday, olive oil and wine are permitted on weekends);
  • Great and Holy Week (note that Great and Holy Saturday is a day of strict fasting, during which the faithful abstain from olive oil and wine);
  • Holy Apostles' Fast (from the Monday after All Saints' Day through June 28, inclusive);
  • Fast for the Dormition of the Mother of God (August 1-14, excluding August 6), on which fish, wine and olive oil are permitted);
  • Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29);
  • Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14); and
  • Nativity Lent (November 15-December 24, although fish, wine and olive oil are permitted, except on Wednesdays and Fridays, until December 17).
The following are fasting days on which fish, wine and olive oil are permitted:
  • The Feast of the Annunciation (March 25, unless it falls outside the Great Lent, in which case all foods are permitted);
  • Palm Sunday;
  • The Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6); and
  • The Feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God (November 21).
On the following days, all foods are permitted:
  • The first week of the Triodion, from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee through the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, including Wednesday and Friday;
  • Diakainisimos (or Bright) Week, following the Sunday of Pascha;
  • The week following Pentecost; and
  • From the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord (December 25) to January 4.

No cooking this weekend...............

Such a busy weekend. Friday was a night out with friends at Rivera's. Great seafood Hispanic flair. I had the Lobster Enchilada. Highly recommended.

Saturday, we went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2. Glad that's behind us now. Great film but I still can't get over the lacking material from the book but I do understand time constraints. Funny how the changes basically come to the same outcome but the book is so much more eloquent and makes so much more sense (if you can make sense of wizards and such). That night found us at Stinson Park with more friends and some music with the Confidentials. They were not in great form but passable. I talked with several folks from my recent past including Jeff, my gym buddy, from the YMCA. He is gonna be a grandpa.

Sunday after church,  we traveled to St. Nicholas Church for their great fried chicken dinner. Always consistently good. Of course, my mom always buys Ben a dinner of just chicken for carryout. I had a small breast this a.m. for breakfast. Delish. On the way home we got rear ended *sigh*.  Not much damage but a huge hassle.

Later Sunday afternoon, our good friends, the Kropps, hosted their annual event at their house. Great food and company as always. So nice to get together with the Kropp side of the world.  After all that I was beat. Tru Blood and then bed for me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What to do with....

one zucchini, 2 ears of corn, 2 baby bell peppers and some garlic?

To this I added

1/2 to 3/4 pounds of peeled shrimps
1/2 cup cream
1/4 c parmesean
1/4 grated fontina
1/2 t crushed red pepper and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning

I julienned all the veggies, cut the corn from the cob and crushed the garlic.

I sauteed the veggies in some butter and olive oil. Salt and pepper here to taste.

Added a 3/4 pound of shrimps, cook till pink then add a flood of cream (1/2 cup or so)

When heated throughly  touch it off with a 1/4 c parmesean and 1/4 c fontina and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. A final flourish of olive oil and spooned and served over pasta. It took as long as the pasta to cook and assemble. If it is too thick, add a bit of the pasta water.

So fresh and tasty and I used up some of the glut of veggies in the fridge.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New icons....finally!

I know I posted a few items a long time ago regarding what my current project was. Well, I am finally finished or almost finished with all of them. Now I have to find another project to start. Meanwhile, here are 2 icons I have completed waiting to be finish coated. I generally try to live with them for a week or so to make sure I did not forget to do something before the final varnish. Here are the almost final results:

St. Euprhosynos

St Efimia

Wings, I love wings

Lately I have been obsessing about chicken wings. I thnk I finally found a sauce I can live with. I have been buying whole wings, cheap. Cutting them myself, dusting them in flour and frying them in a 1/4 inch of oil.

When drained I bathed them in the following sauce:

1/2 stick of butter, melted.
1/2 - 3/4 c Valentina Hot sauce (this adds no heat but flavor)
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Chipotle powder (this seems to add heat)
1 squirt of Sriracha Sauce (this definitely adds heat)
1-2 tablespoons of ketchup
Salt and pepper.

I am finding the addition of a small amount of ketchup or tomato sauce tends to thicken things up and make it stick to the wings.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Playing dress up

Last week we attended a great wedding that was black tie. As previously posted, I have bought a series of ties from various shops in town after learning tie my own for the wedding. We look smashing, we do.  The tux was purchased from a tux store 20 years ago. They frequently have tuxes at the end of the season that are for sale cheap. This particular tux is a Henry Grethel classic shawl collared. Quite fitted and nice overall shape to it. The "new" fashion this year is to have only suspenders and a tie. No cumberbund unless it is prom I was told.  Not a bad look for an old guy. Of course I did have the perfect accessory, standing to my right.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuna Salad

I love tuna salad but not that stuff from a can. Since Trader Joe's has come to town I found some lovely filets of Ahi and Albacore. The Albacore comes in chuncks also for $2.99 a pound.

I generally dice 1/2 a Red Onion, 2 stalks of celery and a teaspoon of dill. To this I add 2 tablespoons of Mayo, a splash of lemon juice and oilve oil.

The tuna has been sauteed in a bit oil in a fry pan till its done the way you like. Some like rare but I prefer it more cooked in salad. I give it a rough chop.  Mix together, chill and enjoy.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grilled Flatiron steak with Fennel-Kohlrabi salad and Pan Au Gratin potatoes

Tonight I used a recipe from one of my links "The Bitten Word". An unusual salad of shaved fennel, shaved kohlrabi and blueberries. The dressing had ginger and soy sauce. A bit of sweetness from maple syrup and a bite from some chopped shallot.

Now...the recipe called for some pretty exotic ingredients that I don't normally stock...maple syrup and white balsamic vinegar. So substitution was the key. In this case,  pancake syrup and regular balsamic. (Ok , sue me) It was very tasty regardless and the flavors were perfect together albeit a bit odd to think about.

The Pan Au Gratin was easy. I had the mandolin out anyway. If you don't have one of these handy little gadgets I highly recommend it. Mine is a hand held, adjustable that fits in the drawer and only slices.

Anyway, slice some potatoes (I had small reds on hand). Heat up a medium non stick fry pan. Cook them in a small amount of oil till lightly brown. I covered them to steam them up a bit. Flood the pan with some cream, top with a grating of Fontina and White Cheddar. Cover and turn off the heat. When the steaks are cooked the spuds are ready. Wow were they great!

The steak I just marinated in Weber Peppercorn Marinade. I love these little packets.

I buzzed the dressing in a 4 cup glass measuring cup with a blender stick.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Scotch tasting extravaganza

Tonight, after raspberry cake, strawberry-rhubarb pie and Dairy Queen soft serve....we tried a variety of Glenlivet Scotches from our resepective stocks. Nick of course had the 21 year old we got him for graduating, I had a half bottle of 18 and Nick had a variety of lesser vintages and some special reserves.

Well the evening got better with each sip and the 21 year old was like drinking liquid silk. Tasty. If it were not so hot outside we would have had a nice cigar also.

Birthday Dinner for the birthday boy....Chicken, artichokes and mac and cheese

I split these large ones in half. Easier to handle and you can really get at the choke.  You can see there is a good pile of waste with these.  I have already trimmed the stems and outer leaves.

cleaning out the choke I use a grapefruit spoon.

cleaned artichoke

stuffing  recipe is in a previous post. This easy stuffing was just italian seasoned bread crumbs, diced fennel, diced Fontina, olive oil and a bit of cream to moisten it all.

stuffed and ready to bake. Make sure that you keep the trimmed artichokes soaked in acidulated water (lemon juice) to keep them green during the process. I topped them with a bit of olive oil. Add a bit of water to the pan and cover to steam them. About an hour at 350.   
stamps rising with the dough, I love these little shower caps to cover the rising dough. Remove the stamp carefully so you don't deflate the rise.

post stamping / pre baking. Nice crisp stamp that will survive the oven.
Nick would like some old favorites today for his birthday. Stuffed artichokes, smoked gouda mac and cheese and grilled chicken. Sounds like a winning combo to me. Gotta get to the store to pick up a few things.

Prosphora was of course the order of the day and was baked to perfection yesterday.

Don't forget to brine your chicken breasts, especially if they are boneless. 1/4 c salt and 1/4 c sugar to 4 cups of water. Soak them for a few hours. Drain them and douse with a bit of oil to keep from sticking...grill away.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Grilled Mahi Mahi and stuff artichokes

I purchased a new grill basket several months ago and have yet to use it. Last night I thawed 2 large Mahi fillets, coated them with herbs and olive oil then grilled them a few minutes per side. Quite good actually. Not sure what the grill actually adds but it keeps the cooking smells outside I guess.

Our friends left us 2 huge artichokes so I stuffed them. The thing about artichokes is an incredible amount of trimming and waste. By the time I got to the stage of stuffing there is a pile of trimmings. They cooked for a good hour but the stuffing was delicious. I had to use up the fontina in the fridge.

Just in case things did not go as planned I took out the large flat bread from the freezer I bought at the Mediterranean grocery. I was going to make a pizza out of it but perhaps I will tonight. I have some fresh mozzarella to use up.

Getting ready for the big wedding this weekend. A grand social event and a lovely friendship with the bride's parents. I have to get the icon finished I painted as a gift. Unusual for us as I don't normally paint for gifts. But this is a special couple with special parents. Got to iron my tux shirt and get things just so.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A boatload of leftovers

I was a bit diappointed as several folks did not show yesterday and I cooked a great amount of food. I had a lot of leftovers, especially ribs and featherbones. I think I will de-bone it all and freeze some of it for later snacking.  The corn can come off the cob and be fried with a bit of olive oil. The rest we will just have to pick at the rest of the week. Maybe the kids will stop by and help finish some of this food.

The biggest disappointment is that I won't be cooking much this week because of the extra food.

I tested out the new ovens on Monday also. Worked great. Have to learn more about how to use these bad boys. Apparently there are some hidden features that will allow me to make jerky again in the convection top oven.  Need to break out the manual.

Now...picture the cabinets a light cream color....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July preparations

These are a lot like Memorial Day preparations. Grilling ribs, lots of them. Never know who is stopping by. Potato salad is already made and getting better in the fridge.  Baba Ganoush is being made today since my good friend Laurie dropped off an eggplant she had no need of.

The sweet corn at the market looked incredible so we had to have some of that. Mackenzie loves coleslaw salad so we are making that also.

The feather bones are cooked and sauced and waiting for a long oven stint at 200 degrees. The eggplant was smoked and the chicken wings grilled and dunked in my special sauce. The ribs are prepped and waiting for a slow beer bath tomorrow.

Friday, I was lucky enough to go flying with my buddy Doug over the north river front to check the damage. Incredible.

Baba Ganoush

1 large eggplant
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c tahini
salt and pepper
juice of lemon
3 T olive oil
pinch of cumin

I grilled the eggplant, skin pricked, whole over a smoky fire till soft.
Scoop out the insides into a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse till smooth. Adjust seasonings.  Serve with pita triangles.


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