Friday, August 30, 2013

The Bitten Word Bon Appetit Challenge

I submitted my name for a blog assignment from the Bitten Word guys that required us to make a recipe from the most current Bon Appetit Magazine. All the recipes in the issue were handed out and I got the Skate Wing Schnitzel.
Living here in Omaha, Skate Wing is not something we see on menus nor do I ever see it in the market albeit, the Asian Market might have it but my deadline was short so I made Flounder Fillet Schnitzel.


Here is a link to the recipe and I have to admit it was quite tasty. Ben was over just in the nick of time as he stopped to pick up some capers for me. The portions I made were gone in a flash luckily after I took photos for the assignment.

Here they are:

Crispy with just the right amount of acidity and buttery goodness

So flaky and delicious

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saint Alexandra for Brenda and all my nurses

Finally finished after being on the back table since 2010! An icon for my lovely bride who patiently waited while I finished countless other jobs. St. Alexandra Tsaritsa and Sister of Mercy.

Margaritas and Nachos

Lori and Mat stopped by last night and we had Nachos for dinner. Not just any nachos but these:

Nachos in our largest platter, about 18 inch
So with these grilled steak and flour tortilla Nachos we had to have the perfect Margarita.

I found this online after an exhaustive search for the ultimate recipe. It turns out its pretty darn simple

2/3 c fresh lime juice
2t sugar
1/3 c Cointreau
1 c good Tequila

Mix and chill. I actually had the booze in the freezer and then poured everything over ice in salt rimmed highballs. Mmm..tasty. Serves 4 generously.

The Nachos were typical but turned up a notch. I marinated a flat iron in Mexican spices like cumin and chipotle with lime juice and olive oil. Grilled it and sliced it very thin.

I purchased a large bag of flour chips from a local restaurant because they are the best.

I layered cheese, meats and baked at 250 for a few minutes. Topped with fresh guacamole, sour cream, and an assortment of fresh and pickled veggies. Made four decent servings.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Israeli Foods....Shakshuka

Last night Brenda worked late and I didn't feel like fish. Work folk had brought the bounty in from their gardens so I snitched a few peppers and tomatoes. I stopped and picked up some feta and a loaf of crusty bread. I made the tomato base for the dish and waited for the phone to tell me Brenda was on her way.

I turned up the heat on the veggies and slipped 3 eggs into the pan and covered it poaching the eggs in the spicy tomato base. Sprinkled with feta,  this was a real treat. The runny yolks and spicy sauce was delicious.
Poached eggs and tomatoes with peppers.

A steady Passover dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner just add a salad and some Pitas.

1 med onion diced
5 cloves of garlic minced
A couple glugs of olive oil
 1 can of diced tomatoes (I only use Glen Muir now)
1 or 2 fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
2-3 peppers (I used banana but jalapeno, anahiem or whatever)
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne  (we like it hot)

I sauteed the onions and garlic in the oil till clear then added the spices The fresh tomatoes and peppers went in next, cook for 5 minutes then the canned tomatoes. Simmer till liquid is reduced. I used a large spoon to create a depression in the mix and added a fresh egg. Cover until the egg is to your liking.
Spoon on a plate and sprinkle with crumbled feta.

Man, my Dad would have loved this. He was big pepper and egg fan. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Finished icons

I finally finished a few icons and still have a few left. Brenda works late this week so maybe I can get them done waiting for her shift to end.  Unfortunately I was in such a hurry to get them to church that I forgot to photograph them. These IPhone pics are really rough but you get the idea.
For Apostolos. Sadly Paul is in Detroit at a golf tourney so this will await his return.

St. Mark of Ephesus for dear Fr. Nick. We love and miss him so much.

St. Dorotheus for Paul's wife. Not sure about this one. They have the option of accepting it as Doro is unsure about a male patron saint. I checked several times though and according to the feast day, this is the guy.

Pulled Pork and bread the long way

Yesterday I started a biga or poolish depending on your nation. Basically flour water and yeast that sits on the counter overnight to improve the taste of bread. Early this morning before church, I made the dough and used the biga. All day I have been fussing and turning the dough, rising and deflating until the moment of truth, making the loaves. They are in the oven now and look pretty good. Now I will admit I cannot pass the window pane test. Some say its crucial but others not so much. I may no have had enough water in the dough but it was impossible to knead so wet.

Yesterday I also removed a pork shoulder with every intention of making pulled pork. Low and slow in the oven for hours, it still would not pull so I placed it in the crockpot before bed. This morning it was falling apart nirvana.

Ok the bread is done a looks great externally but I can tell its too heavy and the crumb reveals it too dense for an airy french loaf *sigh*. Back to the kneading board.

Crackling crisp crust but a regular crumb, not the airy french texture I was looking for. Decent bread though.

So what did do differently? Firstly I started with the biga. Not something I normally do. Secondly it was a long series of rises, very long. Most of the day as a matter of fact. I placed the dough in the fridge to go to church but it had already doubled by then. I removed it and let it come to room temp. I removed it, stretched and folded it then let it rise again. I did this several times before the final shaping. It rose quickly in the house at about 80 degrees. I could have just let it in the fridge for a few days to develop.  It had large air pockets and although I could not make the window pane test, the dough eventually had large poufs that proved it. I could have probably have made 4 loaves instead of 2 and let all four rise to this size and maybe I would have achieved the crumb I sought.
It is a tasty loaf of bread and the crust was sharp and crackly. I sprayed it with water before hitting the hot oven that I dropped a few ice cubes in to create some steam.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Two families and a Big Fat Greek Dinner

Tonight we are entertaining another family with our favorite foods from our church culture, Greek. The menu has an impressive variety of our favorite Greek foods including Souvlaki, lamb, Chicken, Spanakopita and Tiropita. Roasted potatoes and a fresh Greek salad (no lettuce) and a variety of snacks including Keftedes (Greek meatballs), Dolmas (stuffed Grape leaves) hummus and pita breads. We searched Omaha top to bottom for so Mythos beer but came up empty handed. We did, however, manage Ouzo so that will be our Greek spirits of choice tonight. I even managed to make some Baklava for dessert with a bit of vanilla ice cream.

The Baumers will be our guests at the insistence of their eldest, Alexa, that we meet as families and share a meal. For their dinner they are going to draw on their strong German heritage and I am sure delight us with some fantastic German cuisine. The bar had to be raised so I bought a nice leg of lamb for kabobs. Kinda of a family culture smackdown. Mike is very competitive but not much.

The recipes:

The salad was a simple combination of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta and kalamata olives and garlic with a dressing of lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil. i seasoned it with mint, oregano, salt and pepper.

Tzatziki was a combination of Greek Yogurt and Sour Cream with garlic, dill and cucumbers that had been shredded (skins on) and expressed of their liquid. A bit of olive oil and salt rounded out the sauce. I made it a few days ahead to get the maximum flavor out of the mix.

The lamb was cut into chunks and marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin for a few hours. I grilled it to medium but held it too warm. Should have turned the oven to 160 cause it continued to cook in the oven. Not as tender as I hoped. It sure was good the next day though. 

The Souvlaki was pork shoulder in the form of boneless ribs, cubed and marinated in olive oil and vinegar, garlic S&P and oregano. I will never make kabobs of any other pork product. They were tender and crazy delicious.

The chicken was brined after I cut each breast in half longitudinally and then  grilled. After it came off the grill I sliced it against the grain and dressed it with lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkled with fresh oregano leaves.

The Keftedes were a mix of hamburger and ground lamb. I  mixed in some milk soaked bread slices, onion, mint and garlic. S&P of course and fried them in olive oil. Served at room temperature.

I made the Tiropitas and Spanokopitas several days before with various combinations of recipes I found on line. There was a bit of variation so I just picked what I thought sounded the best. There was feta and garlic in both of them. The cheese pies had Ricotta and cream cheese as well. I made these and froze them days ahead then baked them frozen at 350 and they were perfect.

I am sad to say I purchased the Dolmas at Whole Foods. They are easy to make but for some reason, one the Greek ladies brought these to a dinner and they were astoundingly good. Very expensive though. $12 a pound is crazy. Only for an occasion like this.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Eating Omaha...Five Spice

After the movie last night it was getting on in the evening and I was starved. Now, usually my young bride does not care for Chinese but I must have hit the sweet spot because she relented. Our favorite quickie spot has been re owned and we didn't have a carry out menu so we opted to eat in. The design and decor has not changed a bit but...the food.

Brenda went off road and ordered Curried Chicken. I had a Firecracker Beef dish. Standard fare with rice and 2 crab Rangoon's. But oh my, how fresh and delicious it all was. The Curried Chicken had sweet pieces of carrot, onion and water chestnut in a redolent sauce spiced heavily with yellow curry. Brenda said it was great but she would definitely like it with all veggies or at least more green veggies. My dish had seared beef in a rich spicy gravy with broccoli, snow peas and baby corn. It was like they just picked the veggies. This place has really upped the game and it was only $6.95 per entree. So good.


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