Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ground Lamb on sale

Sounds like a perfect excuse to make Lamb Burgers doesn't it? One of my favorite Omaha eateries is M's Pub. Its as old as I am, well, I am a little older. I had dinner there the night we had our Thesis Show from college at the Gallery at the Market. We were the last ones to show art work there  before it closed and became several stores, the last being a ladies clothing store, Nouvelle Eve. Ah but I digress down memory lane.  My favorite sandwich at M's is the Lamb Burger with a Dijon mustard that steals your breath and make this a truly savory sandwich. I think I have ordered this on every visit to M's.

Last night after the barbershop, I went to the grocer just looking for nothing in particular and I saw they have ground lamb on clearance so I just had to pick up a package or two.  Tonight I will attempt to prepare a delicious burger with a similar Dijon topping and perhaps a bit of Feta cheese.  We'll see how this goes...

I mixed 1 pound of ground Lamb with 1 tsp of cumin and coriander and 1 tbl of Dijon and 2 cloves of chopped garlic, salt and pepper. I made 3 large burgers into balls and placed them in a hot cast iron skillet.
I pressed them out to 1/2 inch thick and cooked them about 5 minutes per side. Very juicy and perfectly seasoned burgers topped with sauteed onions and more Dijon. This was the M's Pub experience I craved. Yum!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eating Omaha....El Basha

Sunday, a very nice physician I work with of Mediterranean decent, wanted to take me and my family to his favorite local eatery, El Basha.

We met around 4 p.m. on Sunday and all the kids made it there. Dr. Akkad ordered for us and basically brought more food to the table than anyone could possible eat. We feasted and took home the leftovers and had a great afternoon of conversation and laughter. The food came in waves and was delicious as always. The humus was smooth and fresh and Brenda and I could just make a meal of that alone. Baba Ganoush was smokey and so tasty with the pitas. We sampled almost every meat on the menu, the favorite being the lamb kabobs. They were out of Kibbi but most of us have had Kibbi before both raw and cooked. An order of Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves was ordered also. We passed all the dishes between usand it seemed everyone had a favorite morsel or two.

A bright yellow Basmati  rice accompanied each dish, fragrance heavily with cardamon and condiments were olive oil, Tahinni and Tzatziki. I usually make Tabbouleh this time of year for Lent but this was the Middle Eastern version heavy with parsley and mint and little wheat. Ours tend to be the opposite with a lot of wheat but this vegetable heavy version is more authentic, probably better for you and quite savory. Grilled chicken and Beef Schwarma rounded out the meal.  The end of the meal was punctuated with Baklava that was rolled and very understated and made with Pistachio rather than the Greek version with walnuts. Mint tea was drunk and conversation was rich and family style. Such a nice gentleman and a great guy to work with. Thanks doc!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lazy Night at Home....

Last night Brenda had to work late and I had chores to do. I had to make Prosphora for church this weekend and since I am in Dallas tomorrow, I made it to freeze for Sunday. Sunday is Ben's birthday and I usually make the bread for the kids around their birthday's.  While I was making dough I made a bit more of the last batch and set it aside for pizza.

I love making pizza but sometimes the results are less than stellar but last night was an exception. I picked some spinach and mushrooms at the market, a pound of Monterrey Jack and a can of Glen Muir diced tomatoes.  I decided I wanted a sparse sauce rather than the usual Contadina that I use and Brenda does not seem to care for. The sauce choice made all the difference. Fresh and delicious I have to remember to make it this way from now on.

I drained the tomatoes, and simply added some garlic, basil, a bit of Penzy's Pizza Spice, Red pepper flakes and pepper. A few glugs of olive oil and that's my sauce.

 I cooked the spinach quickly in a bit of olive oil and some chunky chopped garlic and sauteed the mushrooms till golden. It was great. I pre baked the crust as usual but docked it this time to prevent the large bubbles from forming in the center. I brushed it with olive oil and added some of the shredded jack cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. More cheese on top with some mozarella added and a bit of Romano. Bake till bubbly. Great stuff.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Dessert Party


Lori made this delicious Neapolitan Rose Cake

Salted Caramel Tart was pure decadence
Heart tasty and a Caramel Chocolate Pecan Cheescake in the background is  a Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake

A hit of the night was the Icebox Cake made with Caramel Whipped Cream
I can't have a party without some variation of this Pave. This one is Apricot Walnut.

Chill the wine and champagne! It's February and time for the Dessert Party after weeks of planning and hours of baking, whipping and piping it is finally here.  We had a great time and as did the guests. So many favorites to choose from. This year's menu included Meyer Lemon Macrons,  Pear Almond Tart amongst all you see above. Another great success and trip to the gym!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Eating Omaha...Tommy Colina's Kitchen

Tommy Colina’s Kitchen

Last week we met Mat and Lori at the 180th and Pacific Street location of Tommy Colina's Kitchen. The venue has been many, many things but successful was not one of them. This time though I think they might have hit it.

Mostly a burger and sandwich place with a large bar at the front, a vary casual and relaxed atmosphere in the dining room with a huge menu of sandwiches, wraps, soup and such. Happy hour had $2.50 beers and some treats from the menu at a reasonable price. On the weekends there is a brunch/ breakfast menu that looks mighty tasty too.

This night I had the Tijuana Taxi burger that touted a Jalapeno relish with bacon and pepper jack cheese. I skipped the egg but that might not have been a bad addition. The steak burger was cooked perfectly and juicy. I ordered onion rings as well. Brenda had ordered fries with her Baja Chicken Sandwich. (she saw the word guacamole and set her heart.)  Mat had ordered a wrap and substituted the meat without question. Lori's gonna kill me but I did not notice what she ordered but she seemed happy with it.  The service was friendly and prompt and the beer was cold. What more could you ask for?

We went again this past Friday and I had a Mushroom Burger and Brenda ordered Chicken fingers off the Happy Hour menu. She was very pleasantly surprised and I have to admit the tenders were quite tasty. My burger was fantastic. As juicy as before and delicious.  Great place,  very reasonable and very casual.

Sadly closed both locations Summer of 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Our 33rd Anniversary of our Engagement

Alright I know it sounds a little wierd but I just cannot forget this date, February 9th,  and I always prepare the same meal. It never gets old and we rarely do much for the actual February 14th Valentine's Day.

The menu is always Veal Saltimbucco with Fettuccine and Broccoli. This year was no different as Veal was in the freezer and it was a lovely lazy Saturday. I bought a gift even though I was warned not too but I just cannot resist. I went to buy a silver bracelet I had my eyes on but someone beat me too it. I had also admired a heavy pearl multi strand choker so I bought that instead. My wife was made to be dressed in pearls.

We did our early chores this a.m. and spent the afternoon laying about and enjoying each other's company. while Brenda was still snoozing after shopping, I went to the kitchen to make the crostini she loves with the bread she had bought for dinner.

Then it was time to pound the Veal, boil the water for the fettuccine and get to the rest of dinner. The results below. Traditional and tasty with a nice Mouton Cadet 2010 Bordeaux. Another February 9th with my lovely bride.

For the Veal Saltimbucco:

1 pound of Veal scallopine pounded to 1/8th inch
2 T butter and a splash of good olive oil
a few slices of Prosciutto
a few slices of Provolone
a few fresh Sage Leaves

3/4 c white wine
2 T butter
1/8 c cream

Dredge the veal in flour, top with a sage leaf and place that side down in the hot butter. Saute till golden the turn and top with Prosciutto and Provolone. Transfer all the cutlets from the pan to a platter, deglaze the pan with 3/4 c white wine, a pinch of salt, add 2 T butter and 1/8 c of heavy cream.  Pour the pan sauce over the cutlets.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Our favorite salad...Shrimp and Avocado with Crab Louis

We started fasting on Tuesday evening and Wednesday lunch so that whatever we made the night before we could take to lunch the next day. The Orthodox church considers sundown the beginning of the next day so no problem with the Lord there. Yes, I know this is not strict fasting food since it has eggs and milk products so this won't work for you by the book Orthodox Christians. Our personal fasting rules are more relaxed and after all, it is personal.

A long time ago I received Bernard Schimmel's Cookbook that was published for the Joslyn Art Museum. It is out of print by now of course.  Normally these cookbooks don't offer much but this one had some really great recipes including our current version of Caesar Dressing. We ran across this Crab Louis dressing in the cookbook and paired it with boiled eggs, avocado and boiled or roasted shrimps over a lettuce bed. Delicious with a few croutons for good measure, we have been enjoying this for years. If I ever opened a place of my own this would definitely be on the list. Make sure you get some larger meaty shrimps and cook them yourself so they are not rubbery. 

Other great items in here are Bearnaise, Hollander's, Coquille St. Jacques. So many little recipes I have been making out of here. Crazy how useful this has been and it has a few of my favorite pieces from the museum in it too. Bonus!

Joslyn presents Bernard Schimmel's masterpieces

Make the dressing first and allow to sit in the fridge for a few hours.

2 T lemon juice and 1 tsp.  zest
1/2 c mayo
1/8 c ketchup
1/8 c chili sauce (you can use cocktail sauce if you like or chili garlic sauce)
1 T Worcestershire
1/4 cream
2 T chives
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp.  of hot sauce

Combine all and allow the flavors to meld in the fridge. Thin with milk if needed and pour over the assembled salad. Like I said we use a bed of lettuce, cubed or sliced avocado, a few meaty shrimp and a smattering of croutons.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

French Peasant Cookery...A Family Affair

Today we cooked a Cassoulet that Nick and I have been planning on collaborating together for months.  Now this is a complicated dish and I have never seen one so have no idea what it's supposed to look like or taste like for that matter. I am not sure we have done it justice but the end result is redolent and soothing with a deep flavor. I started late last night and soaked the Flageolet beans
overnight in water. This a.m. I shopped for chicken thighs and other ingredients. I brined the thighs early, prepped the Pork Roast and did some of the small stuff. Nick came over around 2 to act as Sous Chef. We used a recipe for a simplified version from Cook's Illustrated that recommended using chicken thighs instead of Duck Confit. (A very difficult to find ingredient here in the Big O.)

Ready for croutons

Nicholas manning the meat browning


I had started cooking the beans as directed so they were close to done when he arrived. We had bacon this morning so I left the drippings in the pan and had cooked 6 extra strips for the casserole.  Nick browned the brined chicken thighs in the bacon fat, the pork cubes next then finally the onions and garlic. We added the rest of the veggies and slow cooked the meats in wine and broth till fork tender. Once the broth had thickened and reduced I added the beans back, the Andouille Sausage and topped the whole thing with croutons. Served with a nice crusty French Loaf and a fresh green salad with a bottle of Cotes du Rhone.

Ok, the verdict. A lot like ham and beans but the beans are super creamy and the flavor was indescribable. The touch of clove really deepened the base notes. The meat was exquisitely tender and it was comforting and tasty.


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