Sunday, September 30, 2012
Please, please, please pick me! Yes, I really do want to be on the advance team helping Guy Fieri choose which diners, drive-ins and dives to visit in person. Can you imagine being able to walk into Scully's Tavern in Miami and say, "You know, I'd really like to try another of those escargot. I'm just not positive yet that those are what we want to highlight on the show." Really. Like a person would have to have even a second of those incredible escargot to know those are the best ever. So, Guy any time you're looking for someone to go do some advance testing for you, just call.
Friday evening is what brought Guy Fieri to the the forefront. We actually left the office at 5:00. About 4:45 we hit 2/3rd's of our paperwork transmitted. That's after eight grueling weeks of working on almost nothing but paperwork. Eight weeks of eating dinner at 9 or 9:30 then falling into bed just to get up early and start all over again. We took off for Bier Brewery. Jerry was having a pint night to benefit a children's heart hospital. Jerry's a great guy. And Bier has AWESOME bier. Taco Lassi was there. So, we got a flight of tacos and a couple of pints of biers and settled down to relax just a bit. Taco choices were flank steak, chicken tandoori, fish and potato/lentil. We almost passed on the fried potato/lentil balls. That would've been our bad since those were fabulous. Full tummies, relaxed and ready to put our feet up, we headed home. At 6:30 pm. Well before our typical time to leave the office recently. I settled down to the mountain of old newspapers and Connie grabbed a National Geographic. And, he turned on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Good Choice Sweetie!!!
A couple of shows we'd seen before played through. My stack of papers shrank. Then, on comes one we've not seen. A place called the Tattooed Moose in Charleston, SC. We both wanted to get in the car and drive south right then. A duck confit club sandwich. Holy Cow. What an amazing idea.
Saturday, we spent our requisite eight hours at the office. And, made an actual dent in the pile of folders of paperwork to process. I'd made a list of dishes to try - mostly from my latest Fine Cooking Magazine. On the way to the grocery, we matched up dishes. The duck confit club sandwich was for Sunday night and was going to be served with a carrot and mint gremolata salad. Except, the produce section at the grocery was decimated. We couldn't find eggplant, the mini carrots, parsnips, grapefruit... And, we couldn't find chicken thighs with skin and bone. By the time we'd done Trader Joes, Sams and Marsh, we were done. Neither of us wanted to go to another Marsh to get the rest of the things we needed. Cider glazed chicken thighs had been on the menu for Saturday. A quick glance at the menu told me that the sandwiches were the only entree that we had everything for and were quick enough to make at 9pm Saturday night. No carrots meant we'd switch the side to a brussels sprout/lemon/hazelnut salad.
Thick-sliced bacon went into a skillet to cook. A red onion made a visit to the mandoline. Connie sliced Hawaiian rolls into thirds. I thawed a duck confit leg, drained (and saved) the fat, shredded the meat and put it into a skillet to heat and last but not least put the skin into a skillet to crisp. Mayonnaise and crushed garlic were mixed for the spread. Tomatoes from the garden were thinly sliced as was some cheddar cheese.
So, what did we think? Best club sandwich I've ever had. Crazy good. I'll make this again SOON. During winter months, this would work perfectly with some tomato jam instead of the sliced tomatoes.
Duck Confit Club Sandwich
Hawaiian bread or rolls
Bacon, thickly sliced, cooked and drained
Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Red onion, VERY thinly sliced (shaved on a mandoline if possible)
Tomato, thinly sliced
Lettuce or spring greens
Mix the mayo and crushed garlic for the sandwich spread.
Cut the rolls into thirds, lengthwise. We couldn't find Hawaiian bread so used the rolls. Four were about equal to one slice of bread.
Cook and drain the bacon.
Crisp the duck skin.
Warm the shredded duck confit.
Toast the rolls/bread on the cut sides. Spread two of the three layers (or three if you want) with the mayo/garlic mixture.
Top with duck confit.
Then, a couple of pieces of bacon
Then, thinly sliced cheddar cheese
Put the sandwiches under the broiler until the cheese melts
Top with the crispy duck skin.
Another layer of bread
The sliced onions
The sliced tomatoes
A handful of lettuce
Finish with the other piece of bread.
Thank you to the folks at the Tattooed Moose for a great idea and Guy Fieri for showing us how!
Friday, September 28, 2012
So, what do you do when the system is slow? This is an interesting question because of the productivity that we’ve realized from automation and computerization. Way back in the day, it was a non-issue. I guess when the serfs were working the fields and it rained cats and dogs, they would have to find something else to do. Nowadays, sitting in our offices, we don’t have that type of interruption. However, we get that little clock, that darned “Please Wait” message, or the progress bar that just won’t progress. Today, I had one of those moments. I would have sworn that I could have heard the “Jeopardy” music, (da, da, da… da, da, da… da, da, da… dum…. da, da, da, da…). So, unwilling to simply sit and waste the time, I tooled on over to an e-mail from Indy Monthly. Someone wrote in about a drink that they have that is their absolute favorite.
Well, I can see why. As presented, The Thin Mint Martini at Forty Five Degrees consisted of vanilla vodka, Godiva liqueur, crème de menthe, and cream poured into a cocoa-rimmed glass. No instructions were provided, but intrigue abounded! This sounded delicious! I sent Connie a copy of the e-mail, and then back to work. Back to work, indeed. We finally arrived home at 9:15 after teaching a Social Security seminar. Too late for a bottle of wine, but what about a cocktail?
We didn’t get pictures of this part, but he made three different mini (using a half teaspoon as the base measurement) versions of this drink. We agreed that 2 Godiva, 1 vodka, 1 cream and ½ crème de menthe was the appropriate combination. We’ll have to get down to Forty Five Degrees to see how close we came.
In the meantime, get there, or mix yourself up a batch of: Thin Mint Martini from Forty Five Degrees (http://fortyfiveindy.com) (as adapted by my intrepid mixologist, Connie). As always, for two. Chill two martini glasses 4 oz Godiva chocolate liqueur 2 oz vanilla vodka (we make our own) 1 oz crème de menthe (we use DeKuyper’s) 2 oz half and half (as noted, it called for cream, we had half and half) Rim martini glasses with cocoa Connie also grated an Andes mint as a garnish Mix the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, strain. Kiss the one you love and enjoy!
Monday, September 17, 2012
Cooking is my favorite hobby. I live to eat. I, however, do not live to bake. You can state that about as emphatically as you'd like. If I never baked again I'd probably be just fine. Desserts are just ok. Leftover desserts are either given away or thrown away. Once we've had a serving we're done. So, you can imagine my dismay when I got a baking blog for my Secret Recipe Club post this month. Gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair. Then, I started reading Gloria's blog. OMG does she have some fantastic stuff there. And, thankfully for this non-baker, most of her recipes are very approachable. Now, you do need to hit the internet to translate them into our wacko American measurements. But, the ingredient lists aren't overwhelming and the directions are well written. I knew I'd be ok. What to try? There was a recipe for pear cake with black sesame seeds. Connie LOVES pears. But, I wasn't sure I'd have the time to get to a specialty store to get the black sesame seeds. On to the next recipe. All of them better than the one before. I'd printed four or five. Then, I found IT. Scottish Whisky Cake. Yup. We had some lamb stew meat that Connie'd been talking about turning into lamb stew. We could have a nice little ScotchIrish dinner. After all, we're McConnell, Connolly, Martin, Clark and O'Keefe. Plus, you've got to add the English side - Hart and Marvel.
If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know the drill. Once a month I post a recipe from another blogger. It's like the old secret pal thing. They don't know you've got their blog until the day we ALL reveal our recipes. Over the last year I've met some wonderful bloggers doing this. And, I love actually being able to sit down and read another blog. There are two that I read with regularity (That Skinny Chick Can Bake and The Mom Chef.) Otherwise, I try and catch friend's blogs as I can. Which isn't as often as I'd like because I work so much. This month I got Canela Kitchen. Lucky me. Gloria is from Santiago, Chile. She's been blogging since 2007. You'll love her recipes and her photos. And, you can browse through the other folks sharing this reveal date below. But, to get to the folks from other weeks, head to Secret Recipe Club.
By now, you're probably wondering how our cake turned out... Dinner was lamb stew and Liz's hearts of palm, beet and blue cheese salad. We were both stuffed. But, I'd actually made the cake and it smelled incredible and we really had to try it for this blog. So, I cut a couple of slices. And, I snuck a bite of the corner that'd fallen off. Woo HOOO! Connie almost didn't get any cake. But, being a nice wife, I shared. We sat on the screened porch and ahhh'd and ohhh'd. And, the next morning believe it or not I slept later than Connie and when I got up there was an empty plate on the dining room table, a VERY happy hubby and a missing piece of cake. I followed suit. YUMMM! This was so easy to put together. And, the flavors all just danced together. Perfection on a plate. Not that I'll turn into a baker. But, I will make this again. And, I can pretty much guarantee it'll become a family favorite.
I'm printing the recipe with Gloria's measurements:
200 grs self-rising flour
170 grs butter
180 grs brown sugar
3 beaten eggs
3 T whisky (we used Scotch whisky)
rind of a small orange, grated
180 grs powdered sugar
70 grs butter
2 T honey
1 T orange juice (I used more to turn this into a glaze instead of icing)
Sliced almonds, toasted
Cream the butter and brown sugar until they're light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Then, add the orange rind and half of the flour. Once that's thoroughly mixed, add in the whisky. Then, add in the balance of the flour. Bake at 350 in a loaf pan. The instructions said 20-25 minutes but mine took 35 to get done. While the cake is baking, cream together the butter, honey and orange juice. Add the powdered sugar slowly. I added about 2-3 more tablespoons of orange juice to make this a glaze. When the cake came out of the oven, I poured the glaze over it and allowed it to soak in while we were eating dinner. Then, just before serving, top with the toasted sliced almonds.
Monday, September 3, 2012
10.5. That's how many hours I finally slept when I could just sleep. August was a brutal month and September isn't going to be much better. We've been in the midst of a big change at the office. I'd tell you more but then it'd have to get my post approved and on and on and on. So, suffice to say that it's been brutal. I finally did laundry when I ran out of undies. Should I say dainties? Nope, I'm far from dainty! Saturday morning about 7:30 I crawled out of bed after my extended snooze and put on gardening clothes. Onward to the herb garden. The crabgrass had won. I couldn't find my basil. By the time I got to the point of falling over three hours later, I'd found some basil. And, some pimento peppers. And, a bunch of other good stuff. It was hotter than blazes even that early in the morning. So, I took a 15 minute break and came in and organized photos. My camera downloads in date order. Then, I have to go in and create folders for the recipes. August photos got done. Big whoop. I barely cooked during August. But, we did try a few new recipes that were successes. I'm here to tell you about one of them.
A sandwich. From Everyday Food. Now, I'm not a big Martha Stewart fan. Nobody in their right mind can be that perfect without tons of assistance, I quit taking her magazine because it was just too much to slog through. But, I do thoroughly enjoy Everyday Food. I typically clip several recipes to try. In fact, I've still got a stack of recipes to try. A vegetable barley salad is on top followed by a couple of recipes for pork, one for chicken and a couple of salads. Hopefully, I'll get one or two of them tried.
But, enough about future stuff. Let's talk about a fabulous sandwich. I'd bought a package of steaks at Costco. The first night we had Steak Oscar with lobster instead of crab. It was heavenly. We had leftovers the next day. Then, we took another steak and had fantastic salads. This was the third day.
What did we think? Awesome. And, so very easy to put together. Instead of using all shallots, I did clean out the kitchen and used a red onion, shallots and half a sweet onion.
Steak Sandwiches with Creamy Shallots
2 New York strip steaks cooked to your preference, fat trimmed, sliced
1 T olive oil
2 c of sliced onions and/or shallots
1/3 c heavy cream
1 T Dijon mustard
4 sandwich rolls or bread
2 c baby arugula
Saute the onions and shallots in the olive oil. When they're translucent and well softened, add the cream and mustard. Cook until the cream has reduced and the onions are glazed with the sauce.
Split the rolls and toast the cut sides. Lightly spread with Dijon mustard. Divide the onion mixture into fourths. Put a serving one four of the roll halves.
Top with sliced steak then arugula then the other roll half.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Do you remember eating s'mores around a campfire? The marshmallows and chocolate would drip out of the graham crackers and you'd swipe the edges with your tongue to keep the wonderful gooey mess from landing on the ground?
Well, Connie ordered me the Kraft magazine not too long ago and it had a recipe for chocolate chip s'mores. Yes, it called for making them with Chips Ahoy. No, I did not break down and purchase hockey puck chocolate chip cookies. We use a lot of Kraft products and love them but Chips Ahoy are NOT one of them.
We did, however, have chocolate chip cookies left over from our shredding party. Friday was Jessica's last day with us so we got lunch from our favorite deli. Reta suggested getting some of the frozen chocolate chip cookies out. I said not on your life. I have a recipe. Tuesday when Reta's back in the office she's going to share in this goodness. I may have had my sugar quotient for the month. But, she will love these as much as I did. And, the best news is that I have enough to make and freeze half a dozen. YAY!!!
Chocolate Chip Cookie S'mores
2 chocolate chip cookies per person (preferably relatively thin cookies)
chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet Ghiradelli chips)
The recipe calls for piling all the ingredients on one cookie then nuking it for about 15 seconds then topping it with the other cookie and microwaving it for another 30 seconds. Since it's really tough to get a great filling to cookie mix that way, I'd recommend microwaving the chocolate chips or pieces and coconut on one cookie and the marshmallows on another. Then, I'd combine the two and microwave for another 30 seconds. Here's how it looked:
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Mojito Slushy –heat relief in a glass
Thanks to my sweet Connie for writing this post. And, thanks to Labor Day weekend for finally being able to dig through my photos and FIND the pics so I could finally post this. Since he wrote the original post we've made another round - this time with crushed blackberries added. YUM!
The old saying goes, “Everybody complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” (Charles Dudley Warner, 1821 – 1900) (not Mark Twain, although they were friends). Well folks, Tyler Florence has made a contribution that, while it hasn’t solved the heat wave, it has at least made it more bearable.The weather has been hot. How hot was it, Kate? It has been so hot that you could fry an egg on an ice cube! Ba da bum! Okay, enough for the feeble cooking humor. Regardless, it has been miserable all across the country and we are looking for whatever little relief we can find.
Kate opened the weekly e-mail from Food Network describing the Mojito Slushy and was definitely intrigued. She forwarded it to me and, don’t you know, it was on the menu that very evening. This is absolutely one of those recipes that is right in the strike zone, not too sweet, yet sweet enough. It uses the ingredients that are abundant right now even in the midst of the drought. Cool, refreshing. Are you getting the fact that we REALLY liked this drink? To top it all off, it has very low alcohol content, and I am not talking about some teeny, tiny shooter. This took an hour to finish, yet it had only one ounce of alcohol.Ditch the alcohol and serve it to your kids as a dessert! You might want to do that outside, because this has not been tested for carpet staining resistance. Even then, it is more water than sugar and your kids will love it.
We think that the secret to this drink is actually very subtle. We have had many mojitos and the lime zest really adds a depth of flavor that delivers the essence without overpowering the mint and sugar. I do believe I am going to try the zest in a regular mojito as a test.One disclaimer, Tyler’s recipe has you make 1:1 sugar syrup as preparation for this drink. We swear by 2:1 (sugar to water and have posted it here on the blog) and have it made in the fridge. It is so essential to regular cocktail preparation that it is worth the effort to prepare it beforehand.
I bring you, courtesy of Tyler Florence, The Mojito Slushy.
Mojito Slushy (for two)4 oz Simple Syrup (2:1 as usual, see our recipe)
2 oz fresh lime juice (zest one of the limes first)
1/8 cup fresh mint leaves
1 lime, zested (told you!)
2 oz light rum (we use Bacardi’s)
4 cups crushed ice
Mint sprigs and lime wedges for garnish
Put the simple syrup, lime juice, mint leaves, lime zest and rum into a blender and blend until very smooth. Add the ice and blend until slushy. Pour into frosty glasses, garnish, kiss the one(s) you love, and enjoy!