Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscar Night Treat

We visited J Coco this weekend and had a great birthday meal with Ben. Fried stuffed olives were on the menu and we all loved them.  So much so that for Oscar Night we made some for appetizers.

Fried Stuffed Olives
Large pitted green olives
Boursin cheese (I made my own)
1 egg beaten
Plain bread crumbs

I stuffed the pitted olives with the Boursin style cheese. I made 3 stations, flour, egg then breadcrumbs. Coat with flour, dip in the egg and then roll in bread crumbs. Let them dry on a rack before cooking.  In a small sauce pan heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to 375 then fry the olives in small batches till golden, about 45 seconds. Drain on paper towels and serve hot. Delicious.

Home made Boursin

2 ounces cream cheese
1 T sour cream
3/4 t garlic powder and onion powder
3/4 t dried thyme leaves

Mash all together and load into a small piping bag to fill the olives.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shrimp and Grits y'all

Starting thinking about dishes for the Lenten season and ran across this Southern treat. Grits usually remind me of cream of wheat. In this case the savory factor over rides the breakfast blandness and the prep includes dairy so its off the list but I had a few shrimp in the freezer so...
The creamy, cheesy grits make a nice foil to the garlicky shrimp doused with fresh lemon.
This was heaven.

Shrimp and Grits

1 lb peeled raw shrimp
1 tbl olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 fresh lemon juiced

For the grits
1 cup milk
3 tbls quick grits
1 c shredded white cheddar
Pinch of salt

Marinate the peeled shrimp in the oil and garlic. Prepare the grits by bringing the milk to a boil then slowly add in the grits, whisking all the time. When the grits thicken after a few minutes of cooking, remove from heat. Add the cheese and whisk till combined and cheese melts. Set aside and quickly saute the shrimps and garlic till the shrimp are pink. Remove from pan and add lemon juice to the pan and scrape up brown bits. Add shrimp back to pan and coat with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over grits. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

feeding the Masses...

 Mackenzie had a few friends for dinner and let me do the cooking. I love cooking for folks who love eating. She had special guests, Andy and Patty, her frequent travel companions, in tow and we had a pleasant dinner, pulling out all the stops.

I began with our standard Crostini, toasted bread with Sage infused butter, crispy procuitto, piquant provalone and topped with a sage leaf. I also roasted a breast of lamb along with the usual charcuterie.
Dinner was easy. Homemade pasta covered in a braised short rib gravy. a fresh salad with handmade croutons and our favorite oil and vinegar dressing. A few loaves of fresh French baguettes and a NY style cheesecake rounded out the feast.  Great wine flowed and kids, conversation and raucous laughter ensued. I believe we all had a great time.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


 So much going on it is hard to stop and write about it. Firstly, I have been using Nick's gift from Christmas and been baking bread from the new Cooks Illustrated book he gave me.

The Italian bread was intriguing and my first few attempts are hit and miss. I must use the temp probe before pulling for the oven. Makes a huge difference. I had 3 really beautiful loaves but one was a bit under cooked and I had to discard it.

You really have to get these up to 200 degrees or they will be doughy and unappetizing in the center. At the higher oven temp they will get very brown. Even with convection I might have to turn them half way through. This one was a little undercooked.

The recipe calls for beer since its a same day bread and not time to develop a yeasty flavor that a long rise provides.  A cup of Budweiser does the trick to 3 cups of Bread Flour, 2 Teaspoons of salt and yeast and a few tablespoons of water for a little more moisture. A rise till double after kneading then shape to a large loaf. Cut down the middle before spraying with water and placing in a hot oven 400 degrees.  Had a nice crumb and light crispy crust. But like I said, takes its temp. It will fool you.

Next on the agenda is a party for Mackenzie's guests at the house. Short rib ragu was ordered so I made my own papparadelle pasta.  About a dozen eggs later I had about 5 pounds of finished pasta for the freezer.

Then Valentines Day is on the horizon. It calls for Lobster tails, Filet Mignon and fancy fixings. I was able to use the Sous Vide for the meat and seafood. Tried a version of Serious Eats potatoes and everything turned out great. A bit of Bearnaise sauce for the meat and it was delightful. I may never cook a steak any other way.

The Lobster was just perfect too. The day took a lot of prep to prepare but the beauties I made it for are so special to me. Too much steak, left overs will become steak pasta for sure.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Grilled cheese and Tomato soup

Nothing better on a cold winter's evening than a hearty tomato soup with crispy, creamy grilled cheese. Yum.
The soup cozy courtesy of Miss Mackenzie keeps your mitts from burn damage as you remove the piping hot bowl from the microwave. Gads, we are old fogies!

The soup was crafted from a quart of roasted tomatoes and garlic from the summer garden kept safe in the freezer just for tonight. Combined with some broth, a bit of cheese and sauteed onions then hit it hard with the immersion blender. A bit of thyme gives it some mystery and a nice pour of cream for mouth appeal. A little salt and a few grinds of pepper rounded out the rough edges. 

I had sliced Gouda, Muenster and American for the buttery grilled sandwich and topped it off with shaved parmesan before the last flip. So very tasty especially when dunked in the hot soup.


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