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

Open For Business!

Finally, we had painted the last drop, touched up the last scrape and nailed the last baseboard in place. The kitchen is cleaned up and ready for business. I say, let's have a party and celebrate this hard work.

Its all in the details

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup

Tonight was a night of experiments. Burgers on the grill and this soup. Careful...its a bit spicy.

1 qt of heavy cream
1 qt of chicken broth
3 c diced onions
3 c diced celery
1/4 cup butter with green onion, parsley and garlic added mixed in
1/2 T celery salt
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T Tomato paste
1 cup Franks Hot Sauce
1/3 c flour
1 1/4 pounds grilled chicken breast diced
4 oz blue cheese

Heat cream and chicken broth to a boil. Meanwhile, saute the celery and onion in butter mix till soft.
Mix celery salt, tomato paste, Dijon and hot sauce into veggies.
Sprinkle flour over veggies a and add a few ladles of the boiling broth mixture and allow the mixture to thicken then add to pot with broth. Add the chicken. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Makes 1 gallon.

Garnish with blue cheese crumbles.  This recipe was marked M's Pub from Omaha. A great eating establishment in the Old Market area.

I made a 1/3 the full recipe and took some liberties. Too much cream for me so I used some skim milk. Pretty good but spicy for some.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Breast of Lamb...a Monday treat

Roasted a golden brown, the house smells insane. I put it in when I came home from work and had a short nap. At 5 p.m. the fragrance overpowered the house. A deep mahogany crust formed on the surface encasing  incredibly tender morsels of meat ready to fall off the bone. Albeit there was a good 3/4 inch of fat at the bottom of the pan that will congeal as soon as it hits cool air but the meat is so tasty.  It's just a snack really. You could not eat this very often but thats what a treat it is. And some folks like cake! Huh.

For dinner tonight I made some chicken milanese with plenty for the rest of the week. Still waiting for my lovely bride to finish her shift and a nice salad topped cutlet will be waiting for her.   

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pumpkins are us.........

The harvest is in which means months of good eats ahead (at least through Thanksgiving). Small pie pumpkins are showing up at the market. Just in time for cold weather recipes including stuffed pumpkins. I love a savory filling with fresh thyme, sausage and mushrooms. Of course I had to have a least one today. Made a nice Italian sausage filling with mushrooms and bread stuffing. Some onions and celery mixed with cubes of cheddar and a sprinkling of Italian blend cheeses. Topping it off with a few springs of fresh thyme and a shake or two of Italian seasoning. Fall is here.

St. Euphrosynos in the kitchen.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Cool Nebraska Football day....

We worked like fools today generally cleaning up and I tiled the back splash in the kitchen. Today was a day for Beef Bourguignon. I made it early because it has to cook for so long in the oven and we served it over a bed of mashed turnips. Yum. I used Ina Garten's recipe and added pearl onions and quartered crimini mushrooms. The final thickening with a bit of buerre blanc. I dressed the turnips with some parmesean, a splash of cream and knob of butter.
Before the long cook and oinions and mushrooms are added.

Used a split faced travertine 1 x 2 inch stack tiles on a mesh. They cut really nice with a tile saw and did a bit of puzzle work to make them all fit nice and neat. I had to use a hammer to smack a few into place. Very tight fit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stuffed Poblanos

Stuffed Poblanos with Chipotle Cream Sauce and shrimps. I could not find any banana peppers so I subbed poblanos and made the stuffing like I posted previously. I used the leftover Alfredo Sauce I had and mixed a package of Wagner's Chipotle Cream sauce with it. Baked the whole thing with a top layer of Pepperjack cheese and served with a side of Roasted Shrimps. Yummy.

Cooking again....kinda

Making pizza again as it has been so long since we have had a nice homemade pizza.  I used a whole pound of seasoned ground beef on one 13 inch pie. The crust was my usual recipe, pre baked and then topped and set directly on the stone. Oven at 400.  Wow, that was one crisp crust. The other pizza was sliced chicken with Alfredo Sauce. ( I used a pouch mix from Knorr, gasp) just being lazy but it was great especially with a few halved grape tomatoes and fresh shredded basil.  I have been putting the cheese on top of the sauce and then the toppings lately. I just like the way things crsip up. I did not try my new cast iron pizza baker yet. This would have been a good opportunity.

Last night, since the weather is turning oddly colder, I harvested a bunch of basil and made pesto. I had to check with Mackenzie first to see if I could add walnuts (allergies) but she said go for it. Some things she is doing better with lately.  So the Pesto is in the fridge but it made only one pint jar and that was a lot of basil. I use it sparingly though. we don't eat pasta so I add it to soups and pizza toppings.

Kitchen confidential, I still have the tiling of the backsplash to go. We also found out that in order to get the carpet finished at the threshold we will need to call the carpet layer. That's a bit of a surprise. I would have guessed for that much money the job would have been finished. Period.  So far, it's been a couple of bucks at every turn, escalating out of control.

The "new" kitchen table is in the garage getting the treatment before a coat of black paint. Recycle and reuse but I still need to buy 6 chairs unless I can find those out there somewhere. We found a great carpet to place the table on also.

How cool is that? My lovely bride collects Bee's in case you don't know.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The wine station/ sideboard

Fortina dropped by today to install the back splash. If you are looking for granite and quality work, these are your guys!
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Hot Stuffed Sweet Banana Peppers

Hot Stuffed Sweet Banana Peppers

12 to 14 sweet banana peppers
1 med. yellow onion
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. Old Bay Seafood Seasoning
Lg. tbsp. mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. French bread crumbs moistened with 2 tbsp. milk
1 c. chopped shrimp
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tbsp. butter
2 ribs celery
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon
Melt butter, add bouillon cube or dry mix. Saute all vegetables (finely chopped) until soft. Add seasonings and bread crumbs and shrimp. Mix well. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Split peppers down one side.
Clean out seeds and membrane. Stuff with mixture. (If the mix is too dry I added cream to moisten it a bit.) Dot with one tablespoon Pace Picante Sauce or tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Canadian Italian seasoned bread crumbs. (instead of that,  I usually make a nice bechamel sauce with cheese and bake the peppers in this.)
Place in buttered baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. (Skip this next part if you decide to use the sauce)  Just before done, place strips of grated Monterey Jack cheese on top of each pepper and cook until cheese is bubbly.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sticky Basalmic Ribs

Ian Knauer's Sticky Balsamic Ribs

by Genius Recipes

Serves 8
For the ribs:
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 pounds baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup water
    For the glaze:
    • 2 cups hot water
    • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
    1. Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together with rosemary, brown sugar, vinegar, cayenne, remaining tablespoon salt, and pepper. Rub evenly all over ribs and transfer to roasting pans, meaty side up. Marinate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours. Alternately, marinate in a zippered bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap.
    2. Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
    3. Pour 1/2 cup water into each roasting pan and tightly cover pans with foil. Roast ribs, switching position of pans halfway through, until meat is very tender, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pans from oven and transfer ribs to a platter.
    4. Add 1 cup hot water to each roasting pan and scrape up brown bits. Skim off and discard fat, then transfer liquid to a 10-inch skillet. Add vinegar and brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until thick and syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 minutes.
    5. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas).
    6. Brush some of glaze onto both sides of racks of ribs. Grill, turning occasionally, until ribs are hot and grill marks appear, about 6 minutes.
    7. Brush ribs with more glaze and serve remaining glaze on the side.
    Hmmm these sound awfully tasty. Perhaps I will find some time this weekend to fix them.

      Wednesday, September 7, 2011

      Kitchen is coming along

      Floor guys put the 3rd and 4th coat on today and you can walk on it already! How cool is that? Just some finish work with the trim and we can start moving back into the kitchen. A little clean up and touch up and then on to the Master Suite *sigh*.  I need a vacation.

      Sunday, September 4, 2011

      The Zin Room

      Last night we met up with some friends at the Zin Room. We had a great meal but dessert was crazy and over the top. The first dessert was fried ice cream. It came out bigger than a soccer ball for the four of us but we had ordered Banana's Foster also. (This definitely went against my "Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head" credo)  It was carb overload for sure. The Zin Room is a great place nestled in an Omaha Art Deco boutique hotel. Very cool.  Sorry the pic is so bad but my iphone camera just does not perform as expected. Maybe it's the photographer.

      Tonight after a day of painting it was a flat iron on the grill and some salad with blue cheese. Delish. Got a few more doors hung and started the drawers.

      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      Last great summer night and concert

      Just and evening with the Fish Heads and some great folks out at the park. Wine, beer and wings with a bit of cheese and pretzel bread. A smattering of fresh fruit and the Zitek's brought some LaCasa pizza. Does it get better than this? I think not! (besides, it was a nice break from the kitchen)


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