Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kitchen updates

We painted cabinet doors all weekend and yesterday. Got a few hung before clearing out everything in the kitchen in anticpation of the floor refinishers coming today but they cancelled. The floors will be out for a week or so. Everything we own to make it through is now in a very crowded family room.  We have to reschedule again but this time at my convenience, not theirs.  Meanwhile we have to decide if we want to put the kitchen back together or live in limbo. At least the doors will be finished and installed by then.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pulled Pork

I found this recipe from one of my blog links, C + C  Marriage Factory.

The original recipe is followed by my own modifications.

1 (2 pound) boneless pork loin
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

 I had a 4 pound bone in Pork Sirloin Loin roast that I thawed and placed in the crock pot over a bed of onions and garlic.
After I made the glaze and the pork was near done cooking, I removed it and roasted it at 400 for about 30 minutes to improve the color. I then strained the juices from the crock pot and added it to the glaze with another tablespoon of cornstarch and brought to a boil to thicken again. I removed the roast and pulled it apart and added back to the crock pot. I poured the glaze overall and turned the pot on to high for another hour.  It's delicious!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gnocchi alla Romana?

Ok this sounds cool and looks even better. This might have to have go in the new kitchen. They serverd it with meatballs.

Gnocchi alla Romana

These tender gnocchi are prepared in the Roman style using semolina flour plus milk, butter, egg yolks and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The dough is cut into disks, then layered in a pan and baked in the oven. Roman-style meatballs are the perfect accompaniment (see related recipe at left).


  • 5 1/2 cups milk 
  • 2 cups semolina 
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus 3 Tbs. melted butter 
  • Roman-style meatballs for serving (see related recipe at left) 


In a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Add the semolina in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until incorporated. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the salt and continue whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the semolina is thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese, the egg yolks and the 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) butter until incorporated.

Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Pour the semolina mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. 

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Butter a 9-inch French skillet.

Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut the gnocchi into rounds. Arrange the gnocchi in the pan so they are overlapping, resembling shingles. Brush the top of the gnocchi with the 3 Tbs. melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then serve immediately with Roman-style meatballs. Serves 6 to 8.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kitchen update...walls are painted

The walls are "Apple 4" now. All the interior kitchen painting is done. I expect the electrician on Wednesday to move and outlet and set up the under counter lighting.  Have to finish the door to the powder room and then start all those cabinet doors.

Spent a bunch on organization for things. My lovely bride has been busy putting stuff back in the kitchen. All things are in tubs and sealed. My last big effort will be spices. I have been researching tons of stuff and could spend a lot but nothing seems to hit me yet. i am trialing a few things from Bed Bath and Beyond. I'll let you know how it all works out.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ceiling is painted....moving on

I am sure we will be scraping tiny dots of paint off everything for the next few months but the whole ceiling is painted,  finally. I was not going to do it but the contrast between the cooking part of the kitchen and the eating part was so great, it could not be ignored. So paint we did. My lovely wife did the last 50% or so since my neck was killing me after cutting in and the first 50%. We both woke with backs this a.m. but it so nice to have it out of the way. I also removed the baseboards since the floor refinisher is due in a week.  Now we can paint the walls and get a perfectly clean line around the bottom. There were layers of wallpaper down there and its nice to just clean it all up. Need to buy more white caulk as every seam and gap shows against the white. I will probably need to go around the whole ceiling where the crown molding meets the ceiling. I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel though and its all good so far. 

Can't wait to hang the new chandelier over the table that is gonna need replacing too. It never ends.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

A basic mac and cheese recipe but with the added surprise of smoked Gouda cheese. Make sure lots of that smokey rind is included in the grating for the flavor.

2 cups of milk
3 tbs butter
3 tbs flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
salt and pepper
1 cup or more of smoked Gouda shredded
1/c cup Parmesan

I generally use skim milk here but its way better with whole milk or half and half. At any rate heat 2 cups in the microwave and set aside.

Melt butter in sauce pan and added flour. Cook for a few minutes then add milk a little at a  time stirring well to avoid lumps. Whisk while adding the mustard and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the cheeses and stir to melt. Taste, adjust. Pour over cooked macaroni just before serving.

**Note do not let the sauce come to a boil once the cheese is in the mix as it will turn grainy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bright spot in the week

My cousin Eddie came for a visit all the way from Philly. They stopped by as a surprise to see my Mom and for a chat. Love them to death. We took them all to the Upstream for dinner on Monday and had a great time. I brought them back to that mess of a house of ours in the middle of the remodel project. But they are family and hopefully won't judge us too harshly. Love you guys.

Caulking, sanding, emptying and prep work almost done...

This weekend and most of the week we have been prepping for painting. The cupboards are bare and washed and sanded. The holes are filled and cracks mended. The ceiling has a fresh coat of paint over the food prep area and we are taped and ready to start painting.  Tonight we will set up the garage to take advantage of the cool front moving in and begin to wash and prep the cabinet doors.

First coat of primer will then be applied followed by 2 coats of finish. Lets hope this all goes well. I am already driven to derision just trying to find a pot to heat something in. Cooking on the same counter as the brushes and putty knife is interesting. Everything is covered in surgical drapes and drop cloths. Let's hit it!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The kitchen is officially closed.....

I am in complete withdrawl here. It will probably be 2 weeks or so. We removed all the cabinet doors, handles and hinges. Wiped everything down, sanded and cleaned up the incredible amount of dust. Threw away a ton of stuff that was outdated or pushed to the back. Now the real work begins with 3 coats of primer and paint and then the walls and trim. After that, the floor company can refinish the floors and replace the bit the wall  removal left empty.  Wow. I am tired already but Brenda did most of the work.

There are 30 cabinet doors and 10 or 15 drawers. It's a mess. After 25 years or so of grime and grease, even the hinges were filthy. We thought we were cleaning the surfaces regularly but you don't think about hinges. They all came off to be replaced and each door had to numbered to its coresponding place in the kitchen so everything goes back to it's original spots.  Can't wait for that fresh white clean look again. Now is the time to organize everything. So this is what the painter wanted $3700 for? It was almost worth it but we are saving a ton of $$$.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Longest kitchen project.....ever!

Finally, the cabinet is built and installed!
All we have left is the painting, electrical (again), floor finishing (*sigh*), granite guy for the backsplash . About another month before we are open for business (having friends for dinner). I have to admit, the pull out drawers in the existing cupboard below the island was almost worth the wait.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tomato and cheese pie

Unfortunately, like my good friend Deb, we do not have a glut of tomatoes this year but I am making this pie none the less. Sliced beefsteaks with cheddar in a pie crust. What could be better?

  • 4 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 9 inch pie shell
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (1/2 cup was plenty)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (skipped it)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • I also added 2 t sugar and 2 T cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and let stand 10 minutes; drain well on paper towels. Sprinkle pie crust with 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Layer tomatoes and green onion over cheese. In medium bowl, combine mayonnaise with cornstarch, Cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, basil, and salt and pepper to taste; mix well.
Gently place dollops of the mayonnaise mixture over the tomatoes and spread to cover as much as possible. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown and mayonnaise mixture starts to brown.

Did not have to worry about this one. The pie cut beautifully after it cooled for 30 minutes and was so good!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chicken Piccata

We are in a chicken kind of mood. So the order today was for piccata. Thin chicken breasts sauteed and treated to a white wine and caper glaze heady with lemon. I added a few mushrooms and a sprinkle of parsley.

Here's how its done:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split in half.
salt and pepper
dry white wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio)
juice of a lemon
capers, drained
olive oil

I dredged the chicken in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Saute them over medium heat in a few tablespoons of olive oil till golden on one side then flip and golden on the other. Set aside in a warm oven.

To the pan, add 3/4 cup of white wine (we had a nice Chardonnay on hand) and reduce by a third. Some of the browned flour should thicken the sauce nicely so scrape it from the pan bottom. Add a few tbls butter and heat gently.  Add the juice of a lemon and capers. Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Add the reserved chicken back to the pan and heat gently. Serve a sprinkle of parsley on top.


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