Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pizza night....and a consistent crust

Lately I have been still making pizza but not nearly as often due to the high carb count. I have been experimenting with smaller dough amounts since it's just the two of us lately. Last night after work I mixed up a quick batch. Brenda worked late and I did not want a cooked pizza just sitting around waiting for her so I made a small dough batch, divided in half and made two smaller crusts, almost personal pan size but a little larger. Since it was Wednesday, I used mushrooms for the topping of choice, a smattering of sauce and Red Pepper flakes ( a generous quantity on mine) with some cheese blend from Kraft.

I started with just a scant 2 cups of flour and my food processor. I have  Cusinart 7 cup with a dough speed that just makes this so easy. 1 teaspoon of yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good glug of olive oil. Enough warm water to just make the dough ball clean the bowl. Let it run for a short bit then set the timer and let it rest 20 minutes. Pulse it again after the time is up for a few times then put it in an oiled bowl to let it rise. I placed mine in the oven in "Proof" mode covered with plastic.

Divide the dough after a doubling and roll it our to a 10-11 inch circle. I know, I rolled it. Whatever. I place it in a screaming hot oven (400) on the cast iron pizza stone (or regular one, they are both in the oven). The dough puffs and bubbles nicely and gets just a slight color then remove it to a wire rack for assembly. About 7 minutes or so.

I cannot seem to make a raw finished pie slide off the peel to save my sorry soul, therefore I prebake and it is great. No more topping cooking other than on the crust and it seems to make no big difference to the pie. The crust is thin and crunchy and delicious.

Since Brenda worked till 630 I simply asembled hers when she said she was on her way home, popped it in the oven and it was ready by the time she got settled.  Yum!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! A day of feasting.............

Everything is just so. The brined turkey is moist and juicy. The gravy is fantastic especially after adding a cup of juices from the bird. The rolls are always a big hit for Benjamin so I make a lot of them. They make great sandwiches. I cooked an extra breast since there never seems to be enough white meat but everyone insists on a whole bird (for presentation I guess). Nothing special here, no secrets or special recipes. We try something new every year. this year we saw a recipe for French Onion casserole. It looks good so far don't know how it tastes yet.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bird brining...101

So...yesterday I took the 18 pounder and the extra breast from the fridge, cleaned them and got them ready for the brining process.

Firstly, find a container* big enough to brine the bird. That was a challenge. A few months ago I posted a "Pot Love" article and that's the pot I used. It is at least 5 gallons or more. It took a LOT of brine but the basic recipe is the same...1/2 cup salt to 8 cups of water with 1/2 cup of sugar. I laced the brine with peppercorns, Rosemary and garlic. 24 hours in this wet brine then out tonight for a nice dry out in the fridge, uncovered to help the skin crisp up. That ought to do it. 

*For normal peoples, I found that the large chip bag from Qdoba makes an excellent heavy duty brining bag also. My bird was a bit too large for that this year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

And let the cooking begin....

What? Already? You betcha. The frozen bird has been in the fridge since Saturday and is thawing nicely thank you. Tomorrow he gets brined along with the extra breast I thawed out.

Yesterday, I made the gravy stock by roasting a turkey wing (the wing  weighed about a pound and a half, a formidable bird) and a garlic bulb. After roasting, I placed these and some carrots, onions and celery (all unpeeled) into a pot and covered with water. To this I added salt, peppercorns and poultry seasoning. Simmer away for several hours then strain, mash the solids and collect the goodness in a bowl for the fridge. Gravy is just a roux away. The complete recipe is on the blog, search for "Turkey".

 I opted for store bought pies this year to relieve some of the fuss and the rest is gonna have to wait until Wednesday. So much to do and so organized this year.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eating Omaha....The Bohemian Cafe

Dumplings and kraut today! Who in Omaha of a certain age does not remember that tune played on the radio as an ad for the Bohemian Cafe? Such nostalgia it had to be our destination for our restaurant tour of famous eateries.
Very old school. My memory did not serve me last night as I took a left off of Martha Street instead of a right and we went several miles out of our way deep into South Omaha before turning around on P Street and heading back north. Funny how you drive by a place so many times and misplace it in your mental map.
We started off the evening with a charming waiter and a Dirty Martini made with premium spirits for just $5. Matt had a Czech Beer that was really tasty.

The ladies ordered first. Brenda had the Jager Schnitzel with dumplings, Sweet and Sour cabbage  and egg drop soup. Lori had the Goulash, Matt the Schnitzel too, I had the duck.
So much food to enjoy, so little stomach left everything was delicious but not altogether expected. Brenda generally likes the veal as cutlets deep fried to a golden brown and smothered in gravy. Her dish was slices of veal braised in sauce. Very good but not her favorite gravy. She liked the gravy of my duck better. The dumplings were pillows of heaven and were sliced off a giant dumpling and covered in gravy this fare is not for the faint of heart! We are both big cabbage fans so the kraut was fantastic, I loved every bite.
Lori's tender chunks of beef in a paprika flavored gravy was tender and moist. My 1/2 duck was golden and crisp, cooked just right, the dark meat falling off the breast. I brought 1/2 of it home as well. Each of us had a different sauce or gravy over our meal. The dumpling portions were too ample and we had to leave one behind. It is very old world and quaint inside and has not been updated in years but I am not sure what I would update at this late date.
Tasty Jager Schnitzel


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pot Luck at work... Beef for Tacos for a crowd

We had a reason to gather and gather we did. Every so often and much more frequently lately, we are organizing Pot Lucks at work. They are a lot of fun, a little work and plenty of eats, usually for 2 days. Our local food supply here in the hospital has become prohibitively expensive and most of the choices are somewhat less than healthy. I signed up for some Nacho Cheese and Taco Beef. I found the recipe below on All Recipes and adjusted it for 25 folks or about 3 pounds of ground beef. It went pretty far actuallyy although it did not look like much at first. 
I also bought a gallon can of "concentrated" cheddar cheese sauce. This was actually not too bad. With a can of Rotel and a pound of Chorizo it was actually quite tasty. We would definitely do this again.

Restaurant Style Taco Meat
1 1/2 tablespoons corn
4 1/2 teaspoons chili
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon seasoned
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried minced
1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon
1/4 teaspoon ground red
1 1/3 pounds lean ground
1 cup water

In a medium bowl, combine the corn flour, chili
powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and seasoned
salt. Stir in the paprika, cumin, garlic salt, and sugar.
Blend in the onion, bouillon, and ground red pepper,
stirring until all spices are well blended.
Crumble the ground chuck into a large skillet over

medium heat. Cook, stirring, until browned. Remove
from heat, rinse meat with hot water, and drain water
and grease from beef.
Return meat to skillet, and pour in seasoning. Stir in
water. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until
most of the liquid has cooked away, about 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Game Day snacking!

Its another Saturday in the Big O and the game is on at 2:30 p.m. today so that means a kitchen tailgating extravaganza.

Started digging in before photos  but still delicious.

Stuffed with cream cheese and cheddar then wrapped in Bacon. How bad can that be?
Starting with Teriyaki Ribs, Chicken Wings (of course), Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers, various dips and stuffed acorn squash since pumpkins are hard to find anywhere this year in Nebraska or at least here, in Omaha. All the recipes are here on the blog already except for the Corn Dip.

Corn Dip

1 can drained Fiesta Corn (has red and green peppers in it)
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/3 c Mayo
1/3 c Sour Cream
1/4 cup Chopped Chilies
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix and chill.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

San Marzano in reach

Ok so I know this weird and nothing to get excited about local Walmart is carring San Marzano's! Yay!


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