Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Supper

Not a usual feature for us but I found an interesting meatball technique and had to try it. It had buttermilk and gelatin in the mix so I had to figure this out. The result, after roasting the meatballs then braising them in the sauce for a few hours was amazing. Tender and perfectly cooked and the sauce could not have been easier. Definitely on my go to list.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs for a crowd

We didn't have a crowd so I adjusted this accordingly. Recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.

2 1/4 c panko
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large beaten eggs
2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
6 oz prosciutto chopped fine
3 oz grated Parmesan
6 T chopped parsley leaves
3 medium garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 t gelatin dissolved in 3 T water
Salt and pepper


3 T olive oil
1 1/2 cups grated onion from 2 or 3 onions
6 medium garlic cloves minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t oregano
1 28 oz tomato puree (instead of 6 cups of tomato juice called for originally)
3 28 oz crushed tomatoes
6 T dry white wine
Salt and pepper

I added more dried herbs and cut the recipe down to one can crushed tomatoes. 
1/2 c minced basil
Adjust sauce with sugar and salt and pepper.

For the meatballs:

Place wire rack over foiled lined baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 450. Combine bread crumbs and milk for ten minutes until smooth paste forms.
Add eggs, beef, pork, and rest of ingredients. Mix gently with hands till well combined. Use large scoop to create 2 inch meatballs and space apart on rack. Roast 30 minutes turning halfway through. 
Make the sauce while they are baking.

Heat the olive oil and add the onions stirring occasionally till golden 8 minutes, then add the garlic, red pepper and herbs cooking till fragrant about 30 seconds.  Add the tomato products, wine salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer about 15 minutes. Add meatballs to pot cover and bake in oven 1 hour at 300 degrees till sauce is reduced and meatballs have firmed up.  Serve over cooked pasta. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bagels...a recipe for later

Bagels - Hand Mixed
Source: Hors d'oeuvres Cook Book. (1981)
Edited Jan. 2015
Using the hand mixed ­­ Autolyze, Stretch and Fold Method
1000g flour
560 g water
14g yeast
26g salt
40g honey
(or sugar)
3 quarts water with 1 tablespoon of sugar (or Honey)
Egg Glaze (egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
poppy or sesame seeds
Parchment Paper

Mix flour, water and honey in a dough pail.
Let rest (autolyze) for 30 minutes.
Mix the yeast with a tablespoon or two of water. Add to the flour
mixture along with the salt.
Mix by pinching, stretching and folding. Let rest
for 20 to 30 minutes (Autolyze).
In the next hour, stretch and fold three more times. After the
last fold, cover and set aside to rise. Dough should double.
Because of the amount of yeast it will double quickly.
Tip out on to floured board and divide into three pieces. Working
with one third at a time, roll into log and cut into eight pieces
for full size bagels or up to 16 equal pieces for cocktail size
bagels. To shape, knead each piece into small ball and poke
thumbs through centre. With one thumb in hole (hole should be at
least 1/2 inch) work fingers around perimeter, shaping ball into a small donut
like shape..

Place bagels on a floured board or tray and let stand 20
Bring water­ sugar mixture to a boil in a 4 to 5 quart pan; adjust
heat to keep it boiling gently. Line baking sheets with parchment
or lightly grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.
Lift bagels carefully and drop into water (about 4 to 6 at a time
depending on size) boil gently for 1 minute turning only once (30
seconds each side).

 Lift out with slotted spoon and drain very briefly on paper towels,
and place on baking sheet.

 Brush with egg yolk glaze, sprinkle with seeds and
bake in a 400° oven for 20 minutes or until richly browned. cool on racks


My studio is a pit. Disgusting.

Yesterday I purchased a 32 inch TV/Monitor for my studio PC but I looked around and could not believe the dirty, dusty mess I try to work in. Time to get organized a bit. I cleaned up the papers and trash on the floor and organized my paints so I had the current project at my finger tips and the rest put in the paint rack.

Narthex Project

I cleaned and organized the brushes and I have hundreds. Some new, some not so much. Some favorites all placed in jars or other containers to keep the tips up and away from harm. All my drawing tools, protractors, compasses and other accoutrement's of the art trade were similarly organized. It actually is energizing to work in an organized environment. Makes me excited to hit the studio again. Wow. I have so much stuff accumulated over the years and every time a brush is on sale I pick it up. More paint than I know what to do with. Panels, canvas, unfinished works, works in progress and major projects like the Narthex Project. I have no idea with the hundreds of drawings and cartoons for icons that I have and the library of books that I own for reference.

When we took dinner to our friends the other night I had an unexpected bonus, they had a card on the fridge from the Omaha Catholic Archdiocese featuring a cropped photo of an icon I painted that resides at Mary Our Queen. Sadly, no credit for the artist (I doubt they even know who the artist is) and the bane of the art world, once purchased, they can pretty much use the image as they please with no re-numeration or credit to me including reselling the work.  The surprise of seeing the piece was enough but shows how tough it is to make a living at art or as an iconographer. I give more work away than I ever sell and often am uncredited for any of it.  A prime example is the altar piece at our local Greek parish, St. John's. I doubt many people know who painted that Last Supper icon except for the family who commissioned it.  The priest never said a single word about it even though he ordered it. Even in my own parish, it is not well known that I am responsible for half the works displayed. I think God wants me to live in anonymity. I am achieving that goal.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Chicken Soup for heart and soul

Nothing says love and comfort like chicken soup. I started the broth days ago and skimmed most of the chilled fat leaving a bit for flavor. I dropped in a quart of chopped carrots and celery and a handful of parsley. I let it simmer and added back the boned,  chopped chicken. The veggies are crisp tender and time to turn off the heat and get packing. I cooked the noodles separately to make sure they didn't steal any of my broth and added them last. The bread is in the oven as we speak and we have dinner fort 2 wonderful families who could use a little special attention as they face life's challenges. Brenda made some fabulous bars for dessert. Its going to be quite a meal.


Dinner was pretty good and delivered on time. The Kenkels kindly invited us to join them for dinner so we did and had a lovely evening as we always do with them.  Brenda was jokingly mocking me because I was trying to explain the 'art' of creating a flavorful yet clear broth for soups and everyone joined in. Really in cook's circles, this is a big deal (only to cooks apparently) to make something that is visually appealing as well as balanced in color and flavor. I am not ashamed to have fussed at all. It's become my middle name and I am known to be very fussy about things (things that matter, like chicken broth) so sue me. In the end we made about 12 quarts of soup and brought most it to the families and left us about a quart at home.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sous Vide Ribs

Sous Vide experiments going on this week, a rack of St. Louis style ribs, vacuum sealed and cooked for about 10 hours at precisely 157 degrees. I took them out, covered them with a Bourbon BBQ sauce and roasted them for 15 minutes, saucing them twice to get a great bark. 
They have a perfect texture and you have complete control of that with cooking length. I wanted them with a bit of chew but not falling off the bone. Pretty good stuff. Next, perhaps a nice beef roast, especially as cheaper cut to see how tender it might get.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chicken Noodle Soup...the beginning.

I am cooking for some very special ladies on Monday so, true to form, I started today of course. I need something neutral and homey for the gals who both had chemo this week. It has to be my best effort. I came home with 2 chickens,  some celery, carrots and ideas. I used my large marmite and covered the birds with cold water. I added a large halved unpeeled onion, washed unpeeled carrots, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1T thyme, sage leaves, a sprig of rosemary and a teaspoon of turmeric for great color. I also added about 2T salt and several grinds of pepper.

I watched the large pot like a hawk for 3 hours, never letting it boil. The result was a perfectly clear, delicately flavored broth. The best base for my soup.  I will store this in the fridge until Sunday when I will finish the soup with fresh veggies and the meat from the two chickens. A couple of handfuls of noodles will top it all off.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Eating Omaha...Saigon Bowl

Something new around something old, Mackenzie's pick tonight we all met at 63rd and Center by Aksarben at Saigon Bowl. 
The menu offers several choices of protein, carb and vegetables with tasty sauces to bring it all together and it was grand. I had my doubt's but it was really good and filling. 

Proteins ranged from tofu to pork and chicken fixed various ways including grilled. Carbs included noodles and rices as well as a non carb choice, lettuce. Toppings abounded and the sauces were complimentary mild to spicy. The price was low to moderate and there were several sides like crab Rangoon's, egg and spring rolls. Nice place, clean and efficient if just a bit smokey, a better ventilation system would be in order. Overall a nice experience and friendly staff. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

That Little'ol Pizzelle!

Lazy day with nothing to do so got out the pizzelle maker a decided to make a batch. They are an old family cookie made during the holidays redolent with anise. Not exactly the most popular flavoring but I love it. This recipe makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies and you'll need a pizzelle iron of course.

2/3 c sugar
1/2 c melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 3/4 c flour
1-2 teaspoons of anise extract

Beat eggs and sugar till thick ribbons form when beaters are lifted. Add melted butter in a steady stream will continuing to beat. Mix flour, salt and baking powder then add 1/2 c at a time. The batter will be thick and glossy. 
Pizzelle iron in the heated go green state, spray with a bit of NS spray then drop heaping teaspoons of batter in the center of each mold. Snap tight and bake till steam slows down to a golden brown. Remove and cool. 

Flavorings are optional such as almond, lemon and others if anise isn't your thing. 


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