Friday, May 24, 2013

Eating Omaha ...J. Coco

Last night I had a meeting at J. Coco for a lecture on a drug we use in the Cath Lab a lot. The lecture was the usual fare, well done and easy to understand.

The food was fantastic. We started with a round of appetizers. Tempura Calamari, Korean Style Short Rib Tacos and Seared Yellow Fin Tuna.  The dinner started off with a Seven Hills Cabernet that was spicy and fruity.  For the entree's the choices were limited to a few menu items but some of the best ones. Ben and I had the Medallions of Beef with various sides. He had Mac and Cheese and I have the shaved Brussels Sprouts. Both were delicious. The Mac and Cheese was very reminiscent of Ryan's Bistro here in Omaha.

The 3 Medallions were each served with a different topping. The portions were perfect. One covered with creamed spinach, another with a lobster cream and the last with mushrooms all on a bed of potato latkes. The Sprouts came in a separate bowl garnished with Marcona Almonds. Shredded and roasted in a cream sauce, they were very good.

The rest of the crowd had ordered Cedar Plank Salmon which also looked great. There are many items of the menu that look worth a try and I made reservations for next Friday for our 32nd anniversary. Looking forward to it.  The neighborhood is quaint and remodeled. The site used to be a grocery that has since moved Mid Town and they did an excellent job decorating the place. Very warm and modern at the same time. The wait staff was doting and friendly. Nice place.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pork Belly worth a shot?

Crispy Pork Belly Recipe
Created by: on April 12th, 2011 - Categories: Appetizers, Chinese, Delicious, Filipino, Game Day, Kids, Pork, Sauce

The Chinese make their version of crispy pork belly, as do the Filipinos. The Filipino version of crispy pork belly is known as lechon kawali, however, I wanted to get a crispy pork without having to fry anything. After all, there is  plenty of top fat on the pork belly, allowing you to roast the pork to perfection. If yo have never tried this at a restaurant, now is your chance. Not only is this recipe really simple, but it is a great snack that almost anyone who likes pork is going to love.
  • 2 lbs of pork belly
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tbsp Chinese Black Bean Chili Paste
Begin by scoring your pork belly. With a sharp knife slice into the fat, making cross marks, just deep enough to not cut through the pork. Poke the bottom and side of the pork, making incisions throughout the pork.
Mix the all of the ingredients, with the exception of the salt and vinegar. Place the pork in a large ziplock bag, and pour in the mixed ingredients. Seal and begin massaging the pork, getting the mixture rubbed into the pork. Rub it well. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but overnight if you can.
Crispy Pork Belly Recipe
When you are ready to cook the pork, remove it from the bag and place fat side up on a large baking sheet covered with foil and lined with a grated baking rack.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Take some paper towel and completely dry or remove any moisture from the top fat. Sprinkle with the salt and brush the vinegar on top of the fat.
Place the baking sheet with the pork in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The time pretty much begins to brown and crispy up the pork while some of that goodness drips down onto the pork itself, adding more flavor.
After the 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for one hour.
Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool. When you are ready to serve, cut into bite sized pieces and serve with the following:
Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • pinch of red chili flakes
  • pinch of black pepper
Not only are these crispy pork belly nuggets addicting, but they are so delicious. I had a whole table of kids gobbling them down, they were that great! Enjoy.

Outdoor life

It's that time of year for chilling on the patio. While it is not quite 100% as of yet but the urge is too hard to resist. We bought a super comfortable patio set and the grass is coming in nicely if a little patchy. We are replanting some of the things we lost last year due to the work being done and have been financing several nurseries throughout the region with our purchases. This year though, we are shopping way smarter and buying baskets of sale plants to divide up instead of individual plantings.  The Farmer's Market at Aksarben had a wealth of herbs and the like. So we are patiently waiting for the days of heat and humidity to wash over us but meanwhile we are enjoying the temperate season in the present.

Dinner with Nick

I had been told that Nicholas would come for dinner, so I stopped at the market on the way home and bought a few thing I needed anyway. The Chicken Thighs at $.99 a pound appeals to my frugal side and I love that recipe I posted from Alex Guarnaschelli for the BBQ Chicken. Love it.  I paired it with some fresh snow peas and mushrooms but I didn't like what I did to them so much. They were tasty but the Asian treatment was not called for. Should have just left them sauteed and buttered.

 For my lovely bride who likes drier white meat, I bought some breasts and treated them the same as the thighs but I boned the breasts and left the skin covering.

The recipe is here and if you have not yet tried it, please do. So darn tasty.

Divine for the heart and soul: BBQ Chicken.......indoors

Monday, May 20, 2013

Great Sandwich

I had a bit of grilled chicken, a nicely ripe avocado and a delicious tomato just waiting to be used. On the agenda then was a bit of Tarragon Chicken Salad with some red onion and a little celery. Just cube the chicken and add a splash of lemon juice, a scant teaspoon of tarragon and a few tablespoons of mayo.

I found whole wheat rolls at the market  and layered a  roll with a slice of Swiss, tomato, avocado and then chicken salad. Wonderful and I used most of the stuff left in the fridge.

Does that look tasty?

The rest of the weekend was a blur of garden shopping spending money and then spending more money. We sat on the patio and had supper Saturday night with Ben. Just grilled chops and veggies with a nice garlic mashed red potatoes. I installed the light fixture. Not 100% on the way it looks but it casts a nice glow over the table at night.

Last year I bought some solar lights on clearance so I dug those out and let them charge all day. when dusk fell it was a pleasant surprise to see there glowing orbs in the cool. We also learned a thhing or two about buying flowers. Some of the stuff is so expensive and you need so many iof them but not if you buy a pre planted basket, on sale, and divide it up! Wahoo for my lovely bride's ingenuity. We bought Petunias and Bacopa that way. We repeated the mantra Thriller, Filler and Spiller and stuck to ouor plan and ended up with some great planters for the season. The Bacopa basket was already a foot long so that is already spilling over the edge of the container. We used a hosta in one bucket as the thriller and petunias as the filler. So easy and fast.

On Sunday we got up early, did some quick running around and then headed to Kearny for a Graduation Party then back home to rest before work.  Whew! These weekends are tiring me out.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nona's Pizza

So last night I was in the mood for food. I roasted some shrimps, took out some crab legs for Friday but what to do next? I felt like pizza but am tired of the usual fare I have been making so I used my own blog to relocate the recipe for Nona's Pizza. A great little thick crust pizza where the crust is actually "fried" in olive oil in the oven. the recipe is on this link:

Divine for the heart and soul: Pizza! Pizza!

The sauce was chunky and flavorful since I have started using Glen Muir tomatoes, I might never use another can of San Marzanos. The extra large shrimps left over from Lent are really great roasted.
Good meal.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Back on the "diet"

Since the Paschal feasting and Mother's day steak dinner we are back on the "diet" of grilled chicken and leaner meats, more salads and less breads again so its really boring and I have nothing to report cooking wise. Have been tending the yard which is shaping up slowly and trying to decide how to decorate the patio for company. We love the table and chairs we purchased but have yet to hand the chandelier as we are looking for the perfect spot to place the table first.

The new grill is working well and the gas outlet was a brilliant idea. I love it! I used the searing burner for the first time and wow does that sear the meat. nice grill marks and a great way to cook.

 Member's Mark 30" Outdoor Gas (LP) Grill

The pond is running but I have not seen any fishes so I am afraid we may have lost them all but we didn't expect to have any this spring. Another $2 wasted! Have to get $2 more fish. I think last year it was 12 of them. The water lilies are quite active and the other marginals are peeking up. The bunnies are having a hey day with the hosta and Asiatic Lilies. So spring is sprung in Nebraska with record hot temps yesterday but milder weather this week.  Time to assemble all the parts and start anew. Plant our new Hydrangeas since the builders destroyed our others and buy more rabbit food (hosta) to fill in the bare spots.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Post Pascha blues and meat cooking

So now that the intensity of services has declined sharply and we are almost back to our regular routine. This week, of course, we can have meat all week. On Sunday, instead of going to the church picnic we opted to entertain the kids with their favorites. One favorite is beef jerky which I made Holy Saturday during the day and we brought to church with us Saturday night as is our family tradition to have beef jerky to break the fast.  After I got up on Sunday, I cooked a small leg of lamb, some chicken wings and a slab of ribs. We had vegetables and salads but really the meats were the star of the show. We are still finishing leftovers to this day and interspersing an occasional hamburger and other meat treats.

It seems odd for the non Orthodox that we place so much emphasis on this feasting but the deprivation from our usual routine can seem daunting. After the first taste of what we were missing our reaction is usually "why is this such a big deal?".  Honestly, the challange of keeping the fast becomes as much of a routine as anything else and seems to be a non issue. We start looking for other ways to participate.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Holy Week Preparations coming to a close

Our new Russian descent priest is influencing my prep this year by making Pascha a more traditional Slavic theme. Case in point, we spent the last few days assembling a basket for blessing on Saturday. I made a traditional Pashka, a molded cheese that is reminiscent of cheesecake in its sweet fruit and nut filled flavor. We picked up traditional items like a small ham and un traditional items like Beef Jerky. Today I am baking a Kulich or at least my version of this sweet Slavic bread heavily frosted and baked in a coffee can. It is rising as I type.

So, the Kulich came out with a nice tall rise and smells amazing flavored with cardomon and mace. The basket has come together with sausage, ham, salt, eggs and the molded cheese 'Pashka'. We will take it all to church today for a blessing to be consumed with our family meal on Sunday. I have ribs, chicken wings and a lovely leg of lamb ready for cooking as well as our usual sides. Despite the cold weather it's going to be a great day!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Eating Melbourne Florida

Last week I was surprised by an urgent trip to Melbourne Florida for some advanced training on a new unit we purchased for the hospital. My cousin Craig lives in Melbourne and its always one of my favorite places to go. The beach is nice, the people are great and I always have a great time. This year was no different. It was great to see everyone at Philips and the class was very informative. The staff will see a few changes when I get back to work.

I used Urban Spoon to choose the Eau Gallie Crab House for dinner on Monday. We are still in the great Fast and while we are not required to fast during travel, I still like to keep it as well as I can and in Florida, seafood is abundant so its really a non issue.
An amazing sampler platter at the Crab House. Maryland Blues, Dungeonesss, shrimps and sides. So delicious! My cousin cooked for me the next night. He is a very good cook and fussy about things. I had to break the fast and eat Ostrich Steaks. They were amazing!


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