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


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...