Friday, August 28, 2015

Using What You've Got..

Last night Brenda was late and I had a way too long of a nap after work. Groggy and knowing dinner would be expected regardless, I was searching for anything I could whip up considering I had take nothing out and it was meatless day so I took inventory:

3-4 cups corn off the cob, cooked
1 pound frozen shrimps, med
3 hamburger buns, getting stale

I searched one of those website for a recipe but Corn Chowder came to mind so I set out to turn these disparate ingredients into dinner.

Corn Chowder

2 T butter
2 T flour
3-4 cups skim milk
3-4 c corn
1 t thyme
1 t chipotle powder
1/2 c cream
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 t tumeric for extra color
Salt and pepper

I made a roux with the butter and flour, cooking it till pale gold then adding the corn to give it a bit of color. To this add the milk and allow to thicken. I used the immersion blender to make a smooth soup with some rough cut corn and added the rest of the spices.


I cubed the hamburger buns and placed them in a skillet with 1 T butter and a good glug of olive oil. Sprinkled the whole thing with Garlic salt and Parmesan and allowed them to toast, shaking the skillet frequently.

I added the shrimp to boiling water, peeled them and chilled.

Serve the chowder with croutons and float a few shrimp on top. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Weekend of Family Feasting

This weekend, Nicholas came to town and cooked Ramen. A simple dish but a long time to prepare. The broth takes about 12 hours to complete alone. Ben decided to make Alkaline noodles to go with so the boys were in charge of the kitchen.

The results:

Assembled Ramen, not your dorm room cup o soup.
 All the accompaniments to the painstaking broth includes soft boiled egg, shredded chicken and sliced pork roast, a variety of sauces, marinated mushrooms and of course noodles. It was a  tasty and satisfying dinner with great company.

The very night of the dinner I prepared 4 lamb shanks for a slow cooking experience. First, after the shanks thawed from the freezer, I browned them thoroughly in  cast iron skillet (on the outdoor grill) and then placed them in the crock pot for 10 hours with:

1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon Dijon
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 large sprigs of rosemary
2 carrots diced

The next morning, after the meat came off the bone, I strained the drippings and skimmed the fat, added 2 cups chicken broth and poured it into a roux I made with 2 T butter and flour. To this I added a package of sauteed pearl onions and 8 ounces of Cremini mushrooms quartered.

I served it with Greek potatoes and sauteed Broccolini.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fruit Compote for Pork... Figs and Cherries

A while back when Jill brought me cherries, she said her mom was looking for a fruit dressing for Pork.

A very long time ago I visited Alice Water's restaurant in Berkley, CA called  'Chez Panisse'. At the time it was a prix fixe menu for the night and we chose a night based on what we could afford. It wasn't cheap.

The night we were there, a lovely roasted pork was served with a fig and cherry compote. Last year we bought so many figs that I had quartered some and froze them and as they sit in the freezer along side the cherries I am posting my version of Alice's magical dish. Now understand this, my children are sick to death of roasted pork with fig and cherry compotes as it was my go to for any occasion and catering job.  Some of friends were so enamoured of the sauce they took it home for an ice cream topping.

Now I apologize to Joy in advance if she can make sense of this as I rarely measure, taste everything and cook by the seat of my pants most times. In the past I used Oregon canned fruits but they no longer can figs.

1 -2 Cans of Cherry juice as a base
Juice of a lemon
Pitted cherries, a pint maybe?
Fresh quartered Figs (I like the dark ones)
Sugar, start with a quarter cup then go up from there.  Honey?
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Suggestions , ginger or a pinch of nutmeg or allspice, peppercorns, red wine or port, orange zest? 

Adjust the seasoning as it cooks to add more sweet or spice. 

Combine this and let the fruit macerate and cook till the fruit breaks down a bit then thicken this with cornstarch till the consistency you like. Taste, Taste and taste again. I remember being a bit disappointed as the cherry juice does not carry as much flavor as I hoped but I did not want the artificial flavoring so messing with the spices can really augment the flavors.

Stuffed Peppers with Chipotle Cream sauce

Jill delivered corn and peppers fresh from the field the other day. The Anaheim Peppers have a short shelf life as they continue to ripen and eventually spoil on the counter.  I could not let these beauties go to waste on my watch....
Large and firm, I first laid them on the open flame of the gas stove to blister the skins off of them. Banana Peppers seem to have a more tender skin and I usually don't worry about them but these have a outer shell like plastic so off it comes. Once skinned, split and seeded, I started on the filling.

I went with my old standby since I have a dew shrimps in the freezer.  A medium onion, a clove of garlic sauteed in olive oil, a teaspoon of Old Bay and a cup or so of bread crumbs. About a pound of cleaned de-veined medium shrimps thrown in at the end so as not to overcook them, I sauteed the whole mess then added enough cream to moisten the filling for stuffing.

For the Chipotle  Cream I made a medium Bechamel Sauce and added about 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar, a good glug of hot sauce and a teaspoon of Chipotle powder.  I spooned filling in the split peppers and laid them in a greased casserole on a bed of sauce. I filled the pan with them then added any extra filling on top of the peppers. Everything was covered with the remaining sauce and a bit of cheese then baked at 350 till golden and bubbly. Like this....

Really, really good. Thanks Schabens for your generosity of produce and lovely daughter. So much fun to visit with.  Brenda suggested next time a hamburger and red sauce so I still have a few peppers left. Sounds like a plan. Today I am roasting a bunch of tomatoes and garlic for the freezer and eventually Roasted Tomato Soup.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Zucchini Abundance

We have a few zucchini plants and they are starting to come due and have to be checked daily before they take over the yard with a surprise 7 pound fruit. I like to pick them so they still fit in my Vegetti but we rarely catch them in time. Last night we had a lot of leftover salmon and a few zucchinis so I got to work.

I used what tools I had and cut 2 large zucchini into noodles and sauteed them in olive oil with 3 cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt. Meanwhile I chunked up the remaining salmon and added it to the pan. Tossing and keeping it all moving, I added about 1/2 cup of cream and 1/2 cup shredded Fontina to the pan and made a quick savory sauce. Into bowls with a sprinkle of Parmesan and we were in business.  The sauce thickened up with the cheese by itself despite the water let loose by the zucchini. A quick and easy meal, relatively healthy depending on your views of cream and cheese.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Special Treats

I am a BIG fan. This weekend our fasting friends shared a meal with us and I prepared a fasting dinner with appetizers of Bloody Mary Shrimps and I opened a can of spicy Octopus and plated it with the shrimps.  I buy it at Walmart of all places for $1.38 a can and it is great if you like that sort of thing and how do you know if you don't try it?

The texture and the flavor of it is perfect. Chewy but not tough and a perfect compliment to your charcuterie tray. The Gill's were good sports and adventurous eaters and loved it. Really, it's a good thing.

New friends and Old Friends

We were fortunate enough to share meals with some great folks this weekend and find some great food at local markets.

Figs! We love figs but they are late this year and we ran across them at Trader Joe's so we had to have them on the menu for company. Dressed with honey from a local supplier and blue cheese, they were delicious.
So tasty.

For Saturday's dinner we entertained a new couple that we know from church but have never gotten together.  Tammie and Jason Gill showed up about 5 and we made a nice loaf of Prosphora together while I finished preparing dinner for all of us. Sam's had Broccolini this year so of course a bit of that along with Greek potatoes and a nice roasted salmon on the grill.  I dressed the Broccolini with a bit of truffle butter and served the salmon with our standard Artichoke Salsa (recipe elsewhere on the blog)  For dessert I made a Blueberry Crostini with some puff pastry. Came out great.

I had just removed 2 fresh loaves of French baguettes from the oven before they arrived. We had so much fun we kind of forgot about the rising Prosphora and it rose a touch too much. I sent the whole loaf home with them after it baked. I hope it was OK.  We stayed up way too late and just had a lot of fun.

For the Greek Potatoes:

I had  Red Potatoes thanks to Brenda's folks so I wedged those and harvested some Rosemary from the yard

The marinade was 1 cup Chicken stock, one juiced lemon, 1/4 olive oil and 4 cloves of crushed minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of  minced rosemary.  I arranged the spuds in a non stick pan and poured  the marinade over reserving about 1/4 cup. I roasted the potatoes at 400 for about 40 minutes or less, the marinade had been absorbed and turned them over then back in the oven for about 20 minutes. Gave them another douse of marinade then served. Really, really tasty.

On Sunday, we reconnected with some old friends, Mike and Nicki Schmader. I grilled some chicken and Pork Kabobs and had a nice pilaf, grilled veggies and Greek salad with Panna Cotta with a berry coulis for dessert. So good. Figs, olives, humus and Feta for appetizers. Great time reminiscing and reliving our past exploits and just catching up.

So for the chicken, you know I like to brine (4 c water, 1/4 c salt and sugar) my poultry and I threw the pork cubes in the brine also. I grilled the chicken plain and dressed it after I cut it up with fresh lemon juice and olive oil and a smattering of oregano. For the pork I used a dry rub:

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • I coated the brined pork with this and gave it a douse of olive oil before setting the cubes of the grill. Moist and seasoned well, they were just great after a squeeze of lemon and a bit more olive oil.

    For the Greek Salad like they make on the islands:

    Tomato wedges
    Fresh cucumbers
    Red onion
    Kalamata olives
    Feta cheese
    Dressed with lemon juice and Olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper. 

    You will notice a very Mediterranean theme here as I used a lot of olive oil and about 6 lemons this weekend. I have a few leftovers for lunch this week.

    Monday, August 3, 2015

    Busy weekend

    Fresh from the oven, crispy and chewy

    Lemon Blackberry Gin and Tonic

    Christian and Mackenzie, all smiles
    We were fortunate enough to host the Fangman's this weekend as they kindly attended Mackenzie's going a way soiree at Emily's house.

    I light of that I had made some baguettes to use for hoagie fixings for lunch. Later in the day we snacked on grilled brats and antipasto salad.  We enjoyed a cocktail on the patio. Best friends ever.

    Christian showed up unexpectedly on Saturday to be there for the divine Miss M and everyone was caught off guard. So nice to see him there.

    After the Fangman's left on Sunday we went to Bob and Kim's Garden Party, a yearly event but this year on their 35th anniversary. Funny we have known them everyone of those 35 years plus a few more I believe. We met at our first apartment and have stayed in touch over the year and we love them like family. 


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