Friday, February 1, 2019
Half a can's worth of frozen crabmeat. And then there was a head of Bibb lettuce. Some wobbly celery. Some wobbly cucumber. A carrot or two. This is what the produce drawer looked like after being gone. My brain went to Friday Night Sandwiches. But, that didn't use up the cucumber or the carrot. I suppose I could've made a ginger salad and used them up. But, then I looked in the pantry and we had no bread. Friday Night Sandwiches were out. How about the lettuce wraps like they make at PF Changs with ground pork? Made with crabmeat instead. And, how about peanut butter noodles to use up the cucumber and carrot? And, to get rid of one of the three boxes of rice noodles in my pantry.
With many thanks to Leite's Culinaria for the dressing recipe, we thoroughly enjoyed the crabmeat wraps. The balance of the dressing got tossed with peanut butter to make the noodles. So, mission accomplished. Clean up the kitchen for two!
Crabmeat Lettuce Wraps
1 large can crabmeat (20 oz?)
1/2 - 1 c slivered almonds, toasted
4 ribs celery, diced
1 can diced waterchestnuts
1 head Bibb lettuce
N.B. - I only used half a can of crabmeat so adjusted the recipe accordingly
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c sake
1 T sesame oil
2 T lemon juice
1 t crushed ginger
1/4 c sugar
1/4 - 1/2 t hot chili oil
Mix the dressing and toss it with the crabmeat, celery, waterchestnuts and almonds. Wrap in lettuce leaves to serve.
Peanut Butter Noodles
1 8.8oz box rice noodles, prepared as per directions
2/3 c crunchy peanut butter mixed with half a recipe of above dressing
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 can diced waterchestnuts
Toss the noodles with the vegetables and dressing.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Back from a week and a half on the road. Business trip to Atlanta and Florida. Funny how those work best in winter. Connie came back coughing and hacking. He spent a good part of the day on the couch in the office. My mission was to get him to eat some relatively healthy food for dinner - including what we call Jewish penicillin - chicken broth. The problem is that he doesn't like soup. Particularly brothy soups. Lobster bisque? Clam chowder? Both are just fine with him. Chicken noodle? Um, no thanks. So, I thought I'd make chicken and noodles. Then, when I opened the freezer and saw the solid block of four chicken thighs I decided to come up with plan B. There were three sausages in the freezer. They'd thaw a LOT more quickly. They went into a soup pot along with onion and green pepper. Then, I headed toward the pantry to gather ingredients that'd work. One of the recipes I'd read on eatyourbooks.com suggested using hash brown potatoes in a sausage soup. That sounded good but rice sounded better. Then, once everything was in the pot and simmering away, I made some sour cream with lime juice and cumin. And, I grated some extra sharp cheddar. A quick salad with bibb lettuce, sliced banana, mandarin orange segments and a jam dressing topped with toasted pecans and we were good to go. This is a soup that'll freeze really well. And, since Connie actually liked it, I'll be able to make it a few times a year!
Mexican Sausage Soup
3 sausages (mild or spicy Italian)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 T olive oil or vegetable oil
1 quart chicken bone broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can gold and white corn, drained
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped (regular diced tomatoes or Rotel will work)
1 16 oz jar salsa
1/2 c Uncle Bens converted white rice
2 t cumin
Slice and brown the sausages, onion and green pepper in the olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes - or until the rice is tender. You can top this with sour cream and/or grated cheese.
Here's the salad too:
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
I bought Ina Garten's new cookbook the day it came out. While I frequently buy used cookbooks for pennies on the dollar, I'm fine with buying Ina's cookbooks new. Why? They're so well done. She obviously tests and retests her recipes because they just work. And, they're so often relatively quick and easy. Perfect for work nights. That's how I felt about her Flounder Milanese. After reading the book cover to cover and making a list of recipes to try, this one came to the top of the list. I stopped at our favorite fishmongers and picked up some cod instead of the flounder.
We left the office about 7:00 and headed home. I still needed a salad. My idea was celery. A great recipe from the New York Times was on my radar. But, it required a two hour marination. Not happening at 7:00 in the evening! So, on to eatyourbooks.com. I typed in celery, pine nuts, feta, thinking I'd get a bunch of salad ideas. Nope. Just one, from Food 52. So, I used the basic ingredients and made up my own salad dressing.
What did we think? Both recipes were fives. They were SO easy to make. And, SO very good. This is exactly what we like on a late evening. Quick, flavorful and pretty darned good for us.
1 pound cod fillet
1 c all purpose flour
salt and pepper
1 extra large egg
1 c seasoned dry bread crumbs
good olive oil
1 T drained capers
Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water in another shallow bowl. And, the seasoned bread crumbs in another. Since I didn't have seasoned bread crumbs, I put in a good bit of Italian seasoning. Cut the fish into pieces. I cut it based on the thickness of the fish. Pat the fish pieces dry. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Dip the fillets first in flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. When the butter is sizzling, put the thicker fillets in. When they are brown on the first side, flip them and add the balance of the fillets to the skillet. You may need to add more butter and/or oil. The thick fillets (1") took about 8 minutes and the thinner ones took about 4 minutes. Serve topped with capers and a squeeze of lime or lemon. Ina also added salad greens with a lemon vinaigrette.
adapted from Cook Like a Pro by Ina Garten
Celery, Artichoke and Chickpea Salad
3 celery ribs with leaves, finely diced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1 jar hearts of palm, drained and sliced thinly
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
2 T toasted pine nuts
Mix the celery, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, chickpeas and vinaigrette together and allow them to marinate while you prep the fish. For the vinaigrette, I had about 3 T of Dijon mustard left in a jar. I added some red wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar, about 2 t of Italian seasoning and then a good bit of EVOO. Serve the salad topped with crumbled feta and toasted pine nuts.
adapted from Food 52
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Sometimes the simple recipes are just as fabulous as the complicated ones. The chicken wings we made for the ARC of Indiana fundraiser. Or the tomato, zucchini, yellow squash gratin I made to use up extra produce.
Let's start with the chicken wings. For years I made La Brea Tar Pit Chicken Wings. They are fabulous. Then, I found A Taste of Palm Springs and a wing recipe with sherry, brown sugar and soy sauce. Our grandkids were coming over for a weekend. I knew son David would want to watch football so I did an appetizer bar for lunch. Everyone devoured the wings. Since then I've made them half a dozen times. My brother's mother-in-law declared she had never eaten a chicken wing and promptly demolished half a dozen. They're that good. The last time I made them was for a fund raiser. You take 75-100 bites and folks wander around and nibble. We sold out in 15 minutes. Yup, 15 minutes.
Next up is the gratin. There's a produce stand down the road. They have a $1 per basket close out shelf. That's where I start. I went in looking for tomatoes and wound up spending $4. Six large tomatoes, eight yellow squash, seven peaches plus four plums and the most overloaded basket EVER - with seventeen bananas. Yes, you read that correctly. SEVENTEEN. In addition to the jalapenos, goat cheese and cherry tomatoes to use up, I now had a full bag of other produce. Research time. Eatyourbooks.com, New York Times, recipes I've scanned in at home, recipes I've scanned in at the office. Some really great recipes. But, what to make for an actual dinner in an hour? Had to be quick. Gourmet's Quick Kitchen had this wonderful gratin recipe. It called for grated parmesan on top. But, my elbow hurt from all of the work on the computer at the office. So, I chopped off a piece about 1" long and 1/2" square. And, proceeded to chop the heck out of it. That turned out to be the difference between a four and a five. Remember, we score dishes one thru five. This one was a five.
Bananas. Still had that mountain of bananas to work my way through. And, I'd gotten some apples from our Imperfect Produce box. There was a recipe for a banana, apple, walnut Waldorf salad. Sounded perfect.
Still needed a protein since I'd not had any all day. Shrimp poached in white wine would be perfect.
Here are the recipes...
Taste of Palm Springs Chicken Wings
5 lbs chicken wings (fyi - the Costco wings are pre-cut but there are only 12 per pack with three packs for 5 lbs - the recipe says it makes 50-60 pieces. It does not.)
1 c brown sugar, packed
3/4 c sherry
1/2 t dry mustard
1 c soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Separate the wings into two pieces after you've cut off the tips. Bake the wings at 350 for thirty minutes. I usually use a piece of aluminum foil on the half sheet so the clean up is easier! While the wings are starting, heat the sauce ingredients. Pour the sauce over the wings and bake for another two hours. You want the wings to be totally glazed. There may be a bit of sauce left but there shouldn't be much.
Tomato Zucchini Gratin
1 large tomato
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
6 large leaves basil
1 t minced garlic
2 T olive oil
2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cut the zucchini and yellow squash into 1/4" slices. I got about 11-12 slices from each. Cut the tomato into 1/4" slices then cut those in half. Drizzle one tablespoon of the olive oil in a 9" pie plate. Top that with the garlic. Then layer over the vegetables. The recipe called for one layer but I already had a baking dish for two so that's what I did. On the first layer, sprinkle half the basil and half the parmesan. Ditto the second. Then drizzle the gratin with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake at 425 for 35 minutes.
Apple Banana Waldorf Salad
1 t orange zest
1 T seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 c mayonnaise
dash of nutmeg
1 apple, cored and diced
1 banana, peeled and sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
Mix the orange zest, vinegar, mayonnaise and nutmeg. Either toss everything together or make a deconstructed version like I did.
Sunday, August 12, 2018
This is in the category of things you didn't know you needed... Chicken fried ribs! How in the world did we find them? Remember Connie's list of the 51 best sandwiches? One is at Fox Brothers BBQ in Atlanta. A couple of years ago we drove through and we had the Fox Brothers Burger - which is really chopped smoked beef brisket - but HAD to try the chicken fried ribs appetizer. This trip, we made sure there was time to head downtown Atlanta and visit Fox Brothers. And, I came away determined to try and make chicken fried ribs. There are two parts to this. One is the ribs themselves and the other is the bbq sauce. It's Alabama white BBQ sauce. Something I've never made. Now, I have a pretty darned good taste memory so I thought I could recreate it once I surfed the web and checked out how others prepared it. Some put in massive quantities of vinegar, some a smidgen. Some used smoked paprika. Most used horseradish and garlic. I started by dolloping some mayonnaise in a plastic storage container - probably a cup and a half. Tossed in a couple of teaspoons of horseradish followed by an equal amount of crushed garlic. Then, I poured in a couple of tablespoons of cider vinegar. And, I went hunting for the smoked paprika. I know it's on the second shelf. But, it was buried. Out came the juniper berries, then the curry. As I had my hand on the next item I looked to the right and saw Penzey's BBQ 3000. Ah HA! That would not only have smoked paprika but also some other good stuff. It'd do just fine. In went about a tablespoon of the BBQ 3000. The sauce was too thick so another tablespoon of vinegar went in. Stir, taste, we have a winner! You all like my fancy bowl? LOL Hey, at least I didn't use a plastic spoon!
Next it was time to figure out the ribs. Connie'd run errands most of the morning and came home to smoke the ribs while I stayed at the office and plowed through a bunch of work. I'd gotten home to a lovely smoked rack of ribs. He said he kept them at about 250 for a couple of hours.
After looking at the few chicken fried ribs recipes I could find, I decided to just wing it. I saw ones with panko and ones with corn meal. But, I just didn't think the Fox Brothers ribs had either. So, I went with the flour, egg/milk, seasoned flour dipping routine. I know. You look at that and think, "What a total complete and entire mell of a hess!" And, yes, I closed the drawer before I kept dipping. Connie'd reached in and gotten the candy thermometer to check the temp on the hot oil and he didn't get the drawer totally closed as I took the photo.
The seasoned flour had salt, pepper and more of the BBQ 3000.
I heated up a couple of inches of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan and started dipping the ribs. Three at a time could be fried so I was pretty glad we'd done just one rack!
The first batch came out and I realized they were craggier than the ones we'd had at Fox Brothers. But, they were still good!
Connie said he'd like mac and cheese with the ribs. I was thinking the tomato pie with pimento cheese topping that I'd read on the New York Times site. So, I compromised. Pimento cheese mac and cheese it was. And, sliced tomatoes with basil and balsamic glaze on the side. Made me very happy that I'd spent $3.99 a pound for half a pound of heirloom tomatoes! They were fabulous. The mac and cheese was a basic cheddar mac and cheese with 2 oz of diced pimentos and about 20 shakes of chipotle Tabasco sauce added. I used 3T of both butter and flour and about 2 1/2 cups of 2% milk. Then, stirred in about 8oz of shredded Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheddar.
So there you have it. What you didn't know you needed! Here's how it looked all put together.
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Every once in a while a cooking contest will have the contestants schmoosh two recipes together. Usually it's a pretty darned weird combination. In our case, we combined risotto and pesto and got a pretty darned GOOD combination. Good enough that I can say I liked this better than pesto and pasta. Who'd have ever thought that????
Let's start with the pesto. About 30 years ago a friend of mine named Monica gave me a pesto recipe. I wrote it on the back of one of those pink phone message slips. And, that's still what I use... It's dog-eared as all get out. But, it's still the best pesto recipe I've ever found. Her secret is that you can do everything but add the butter and the parmesan and freeze the sauce. We freeze a couple of pints of that every fall. Then I thaw enough for each recipe and add the appropriate butter and cheese and we're good to go. Just in case, I always keep a jar of Trader Joe's pesto in the pantry. It's ok as a back up. Here's the link to the post with the pesto recipe: http://kateiscooking.blogspot.com/2010/08/eggplant-and-tomato-stacks-with-pesto.html
And, now, risotto. Our clean up the kitchen for two. Over the years I've posted several recipes for risotto. But, it appears that I've never posted our basic recipe. So, here goes:
Kate's Basic Risotto
1 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 c Arborio rice
1/4 c white wine (Chardonnay is usually best)
2-3 c chicken or turkey stock (keep warm in a saucepan)
1 T butter
1/2 - 1 c grated Parmesan
In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until it's softened. Pour in the rice. Saute until it's a teeny, tiny bit brown. Maybe I should say beige? Although, Connie insists there are actually only eight colors and they can be found in the basic Crayola box! So, once the rice gets a bit of a suntan, pour in the wine. The rice will slurp it right up. Ladle in about half a cup of stock and stir and stir and stir. It's the stirring motion that causes the rice grains to release their starches and create the creaminess you want. When the rice runs dry, ladle in another half cup. And stir. And, so on until the rice is the right texture. You don't want it al dente nor do you want it dry nor do you want it mushy. It needs to have creaminess with texture. If you've run out of stock and your risotto still isn't the right texture, toss in some water. It won't hurt a thing. Now, if you're planning on adding anything, this is the time to do it. Whatever you add in should have been cooked in advance and should be nice and warm. We put whatever in. Mushrooms, peppers, shrimp, chicken, beef, zucchini, beets. Like I said earlier, risotto is clean up the kitchen for two for us. Ok, you've added in the extra and now it's time to plop in the knob of butter and the Parmesan. Mix it all together and serve. You can add more cheese on top as well as some fun crunchies. We particularly love nuts. But, French fried onions are equally good.
Now, you've got the pesto made and the risotto made. Mix in the pesto until you get a flavor you like. For our pesto risotto, I browned some pine nuts. They added the crunch and pizzazz I wanted. We gave this one a five out of five!
As you'll note, there's a salad in the photos. It's one of our favorites. I had dribs and drabs of veggies to use up. Celery, a small zucchini, a roma tomato, some radishes... All of that tossed with some homemade blue cheese dressing and a sprinkle of dill and we were in business!
Here's the link to the blue cheese dressing we love: https://kateiscooking.blogspot.com/2013/11/blue-cheese-dressing-bjs-brewhouse-chef.html I will say as time has gone on, I've upped the amount of dry mustard. We love the tang it gives the dressing!
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
While we were on vacation I had a couple of salads with strawberries strewn across the top. It is that season, after all. When you get the ripe, juicy perfect strawberries. And, not the Styrofoam things that look like strawberries but taste like, well, Styrofoam! While on our way home from the office on Sunday I suggested to Connie that we stop at the stand down the street. First I checked out the bargain table. Each box is $1.00. I scored two heads of perfectly fine iceberg lettuce in one, four bell peppers in another and a mountain of peaches in yet the third. Then, the clamshells of strawberries were buy one, get one free. Score! $6.00 and I had everything I'd need for dinners and lunches this week. That's in addition to my Imperfect Produce box that had a couple of roma tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, kale and a bunch of other goodies.
The first dish that came to mind was a wedge salad. We love my version of blue cheese dressing: mayo, sour cream, dry mustard, cider vinegar and loads of blue cheese whirred through the bullet. That and the duck breasts with cherry sauce I'd been wanting to make. But, until we went to Jungle Jim's I couldn't find duck breasts. We bought four there and since we split one for our entrée, we're good to go for a couple of months. Ok, that was dinner Sunday.
Lunch Monday was the next issue. Salad with strawberries. How about a strawberry vinaigrette on top of the strawberries? I used eatyourbooks.com and hunted and hunted. Finally! On closetcooking by Kevin Lynch I found it. Roasted strawberry vinaigrette. It sounded perfect. And, it was. Given that we had an avocado to use up and I'd fried bacon for the wedge salads and we had rotisserie chicken at the office, it sounded like a strawberry Cobb salad was in order. I added in some bourbon basted pecans that I read about in one of the cookbooks I bought on vacation. Tried going back through the indexes and couldn't find the recipe listed so I made it up... It drives me crazy when some cookbooks don't separately list the recipes inside the recipes. Oh, well, at least I can usually recreate!
Roasted Strawberry Cobb Salad
lettuce, chopped (I used iceberg because that's what we had. You can use spinach, romaine...)
bourbon basted pecans
blue cheese, crumbled
chicken, diced (I used slices of breast meat from a rotisserie chicken)
bacon, cooked and crumbles
roasted strawberry vinaigrette
Bourbon Basted Pecans
Toss a handful of pecans with about a tablespoon of bourbon. Allow them to sit until the bourbon is absorbed. Toss the pecans with a knob of butter (I used about a tablespoon) and a good sprinkle of seasoning (I used Emeril's but many would work.) Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes stirring regularly. You could also do these in a small skillet.
Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette
makes enough for four salads
1 c strawberries
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t honey
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper