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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Green Beans with Walnut Parsley Sauce

Between the transition being one of the most traumatic and difficult things I've ever gone through and dealing with a totally tone-deaf rep of the builder we'd like to use to add on to the house, I've been very quick to tears recently.  That's totally unlike me and it honks me off totally that I'm being such a wuss.  Today I was at my wits end and I called a friend.  We'd not seen each other for about six months.  Way too long.  I actually felt a bit guilty calling because I wanted a phone number for a different builder so that maybe, just maybe we could get someone who'd hear what we've been saying.  What I got was pure comfort.  She knew exactly what to say and what questions to ask.  Now, my friends, that's a gift that few people have.  I am SO lucky to have my wonderful husband and my family and my friends.  Tonight, though, I'm particularly lucky to have my friend Nancy.  Thank you, Nancy!  Now, if I could just find a builder who'd listen... 

So, you're wondering what we're up to?  Over the last couple of years I've changed my business model.  It's meant being able to downsize my staff by half.  And, that means I don't need the 3.000 square foot office we occupy.  We're also scanning in old documents to attempt to go paperless. Over the last couple of years we've eliminated almost half of our filing cabinets.  My dream is to move our office home.  Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to toss a load of laundry in then head to the computer and work until the bell dings?  Or, to head to the kitchen and put Liz's pot roast in the oven to turn into an incredible dinner then head to the conference table for a client meeting?  BTW - if you've never tried Liz's pot roast, you need to.  Pot roast has always been one of those dishes that my mom made best.  Now, it's Liz's I crave.  Major YUMMMMM!

What's the point of all of this maudlin chatter?  Well, it really doesn't relate to the recipe at hand.  It's more venting.  Now, back to cooking. 

We made our own Thanksgiving dinner after T-day.  That way we'd have leftovers.  YAY!  One of the dishes I made was from Food Network Magazine.  It was called Green Beans wtih Walnut-Parsley Sauce.  Now, the green beans were on sale at the grocery.  Actually, they had a coupon in the paper that if you bought so many dollars worth of groceries you'd get a free pound of green beans.  They should've paid us to take them and deliver them to our compost pile!  Some of the worst green beans I've ever had in my life.  I'm not even sure if cooking them until they were mush would've helped.  It was sad too because the walnut parsley sauce was fabulous.  We both pretty much scraped it off the beans and ate it and left the beans.  Next time, I'll use the little haricot verts that they sell at Trader Joes or Sams.  Because this pesto is seriously good. 

Green Beans with Walnut Parsley Sauce


1/3 c toasted walnuts
1 1/4 c parsley
1 small garlic clove, smashed
2 t Worcestershire
1/2 t lemon zest
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 c olive oil


This is super easy.  Put everything but the olive oil in the bowl of your food processor.  Process until it's a smooth paste.  Drizzle in the olive oil.  Didn't I tell you it was easy?

Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lamb Shanks

I just sat down and looked for a recipe in my blog.  Then, I realized it was one I'd semi-written and never posted.  There are 96 of those.  It's time for some short posts with recipes, don't you think?

We had lamb shanks in the freezer.  I'm on a mission to use up all the extraneous stuff in the freezer. After a bit of research, I determined that none of the recipes were exactly what I was looking for.  So, I made one up.  We loved this.  The flavors had SO much depth and complexity. 

Lamb Shanks


2 lamb shanks
1 large sprig rosemary
1 T peppercorns
1 T olive oil
1/2 tin anchovies
1 handful (1/2 c) fresh cranberries
8 oz red wine (not sweet!)
8 oz white wine (not sweet!)
2 c or one can beef broth
2 c carrots
1/4 c tomato paste


Brown the lamb shanks with the olive oil, rosemary and peppercorns.  Once they're nice and brown, add the other ingredients and simmer for 2-4 hours or until the shanks are VERY well done.  You can thicken the sauce if you'd like.  In our case, in spite of being in a dutch oven, it cooked so far down that I actually had to add a bit of water. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kansas City BBQ

As I started writing this blog I was sitting in a conference room in Kansas City for some advanced planning education.  On a weekly basis, I do a radio show with a colleague from Kansas City.  Most of those of us who do the show were there.  It was a time to see old friends and meet some new ones and to eat barbecue.  And more barbecue.  I've had all the other kinds of barbecue but in my mind, Kansas City style is the gold standard.  Having been to KC before, I knew where I wanted to go and had a cooler in the trunk so we could bring some home and freeze it!  Connie called this our red meat tour :-)  Here's the tale:

Saturday afternoon in Collinsville, IL we got to the hotel and unloaded the car and headed for Cahokia Mounds.  On the way we stopped at a place called Bandanas for a couple of bbq sandwiches.  We split a pulled pork and a beef brisket.  The pork was good and the brisket was average at best. BBQ fast food.  I knew it'd get better.

Sunday around lunch time we arrived in KC.  Again, we unloaded the car and headed out.  This time, I was on a mission.  Gates BBQ.  Burnt ends.  Now, Connie'd had burnt ends once.  They were big chunks and were kind of chewy and just didn't trip either of our triggers.  I knew he'd love Gates.  But, would he order a burnt ends sandwich?  Nope.  He wanted ribs.  Now, you know we share.  So, I got half the ribs and he got half the sandwich.

And, he wished he'd gotten the WHOLE sandwich.  His eyes practically rolled back in his head.  He declared that the best.  You see, the folks at Gates take a couple of cleavers to the burnt ends.  They chop them into oblivion then douse them with sauce and slap the whole mess onto a hoagie bun.

Sunday evening was the welcome reception.  Afterward, my friend Melissa's hubby Doug picked us up and the four of us went to Garozzo's for chicken spiedini.  This was a new dish for me.  And, it's one I plan on being very well acquainted with!  Basically, you pound a chicken breast thin then coat it with a cheesey bread crumb mixture, roll it up, marinate it in Italian dressing and grill it.  Then Garozzo's has one of four ways you can order it.  Connie and I got the tomato basil sauce and Melissa and Doug got the garlic sauce.  Either way you're going to get a LOT of garlic.  This was one fabulous meal!!!

Monday morning it was time to get to work.  Bright and early.  Lunch at the hotel was bbq.  Gates sauce was one of the ones offered.  Connie was a happy boy.  I had Oklahoma Joe's sauce.   Monday evening we all went to Gordon Biersch.  Connie's meal was great.  Mine was average.  Overcooked salmon.  I'm just about to the point that I'm done ordering salmon out.  It's always overcooked in my opinion.  Tuesday morning we were back to work again...  Tuesday evening we were on our own.

Oklahoma Joe's it was.  Several folks had recommended OJ's as their favorite bbq.  It was VERY good.  We once again split a pulled pork and a beef brisket sandwich.  Except this brisket sandwich had provolone cheese and an onion ring on it.  Nirvana!

On our way back to the hotel, we made a run to Jack Stack's.  This is the bbq joint that's closest to fine dining if you will.  Here you can get lamb ribs, crown prime beef ribs and just about any kind of bbq you want.  We'd brought that cooler along just for the run to Jack Stack's. 

Wednesday morning we got to Dean's office at 6:30 am.  Yup, you read that right.  Much to my chagrin I found out there are TWO 6:30's in a day.  Wow, who'd have guessed.  Time to tape the show with Dean, Bud and Ken.  Ken was in from Detroit.  Dean and Bud are the ones who are typically on the show.  Here are the guys:

10 and we were done taping.  Time to head to Indy.  We got on the highway and Connie says, "I wonder what time Gates opens?"  I said well you'd better get off the highway because this is the exit you take to get there.  Half an hour.  It was worth the wait.  We sat in the parking lot and talked about all the stuff I'd learned and the ideas and how wonderful it was to spend time with our friends.  Then, the doors opened.  Two burnt end sandwiches were ours.  One to split at 10:30 for brunch.  Another at 1:30 for lunch.  Ah, road food never tasted so good!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Andria's Steak House

Andria's Steak House.  Home of my favorite steak sauce.  You've undoubtedly read my comments about it.  When the grocery store that carried Andria's was gobbled up by a bigger competitor, my access to this liquid gold was gone.  Connie got busy on the internet and found that we could order it online.  And, he found that Andria's is actually a restaurant in Collinsville, IL. 

Several years ago I started collaborating with a colleague in Kansas City. That meant an annual drive from Indy to KC.  Collinsville is a short drive south of I-70.  I now had the perfect way to stop for dinner.  The biggest problem was that that would add a couple of hours to an eight hour drive and just called out for an overnight visit.  Being a frugal gal, I couldn't justify paying for a hotel room just to be able to eat dinner at Andria's.  Then, Connie was doing a bit of reading about World Heritage sites.  He found that the largest city north of Mexico in 1250 AD was situated right there in Collinsville, IL.  It's real name is lost to posterity.  Now, it's known as Cahokia Mounds.  We now had our plan.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early and headed to Collinsville.  Connie had a surprise in store for me.  The world's largest ketchup bottle.  I know, I laughed too.  It used to be a water tower.  Now, we've seen the largest egg AND the largest ketchup bottle.  Am I living right or what? 

Once we'd seen the ketchup bottle, we were off to the interpretive center at Cahokia Mounds.  It was incredibly well done.  We learned about the various types of mounds and how the people lived. Then, we spent a bit of time exploring the mounds.  10,000 to 20,000 people lived there at one time.  The largest mound is called Monk's Mound.  It covers 14 acres and took 300 years to build.  About 15,000,000 buckets of dirt.  I climbed to the top.  About the height of a ten story building.  Do you think I was a bit excited about having successfully climbed?

From CAhokia Mounds we went straight to Andria's.  What a charming restaurant!!!  Max, grandson of the developer of the fabulous Andria's Steak Sauce and son of the current owners was our fabulous waiter.  The wine list was reasonably priced and offered us so many wonderful options.  We selected a Duckhorn Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Salads were great.  We both loved the gorgonzola dressing. 

Then it was time for our entrees.  Perfection on a plate.  Usually I have to order rare to get medium rare.  At Andria's medium rare is true medium rare. 

Service was perfect.  We absolutely loved our visit and will figure out how to get back to Andria's.  In the interim, I've got a case of the sauce to keep me happy.  It not only is perfect on steaks, but in burgers and on about any other protein you can think of.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tea Smoked Chicken

It's Secret Recipe Club time and I'm delinquent.  We're still frantically working on the transition - which is taking FAR more time that it should have.  Then, we had the trip to Kansas City for a conference.  And, we're trying to get the house ready for the big party, keep up with details  like laundry, and take care of our clients.  Needless to say, I'm a couple of weeks behind!

When I got my assignment, I was pretty fired up.  This is a blog I've regularly read.  These guys like to cook as much as Connie and I do!  And, their taste is very similar to ours.  They love great food and traveling.  First day, I made a long list of things I wanted to try.  Scallop and champagne risotto was at the top of the list but I didn't want to narrow it down without another reading.  I know, Drool.  Gosh, just read their index.  That's about the list of things I wanted to try.  Then, it was time.  November 7th I realized how limited my time would be.  The 8th we met a friend for dinner at Marco's.  The 9th we were heading to the theatre.  Early on the 10th we were heading to Kansas City.  Due back on the 14th.  The 15th was a wine tasting at Joseph's.  The 16th had to be a quck meal because we were off to the theatre again.  Saturday the 17th was dinner wtih Donna and Phil at Patrick's.   Ok, that left Sunday for my SRC dinner.  Oh, and I'm supposed to post my blog on the 19th!  Not much leeway.  Thank goodness I was dealing with a blog where I was certain anything I tried would be good.

Time to choose my recipe.  Tea smoked chicken was the most recent post.  Look no further.  We've made tea-smoked ribs and loved them.  Chicken would be perfect.  I did change up the recipe a bit.  When we made the tea-smoked ribs the smoking mixture was fairly complex.  I can't remember the scientific explanation but the rice helps the smoking process. 

What did we think?  YUM! The chicken was so moist and tender.  The flavors were complex and so very good.  We'll absolutely be making this again!

Now, if you'd like to see what the other SRC folks posted, please click here:  Secret Recipe Club.  To go visit Amy and her hubby at their blog click here: A Couple in the Kitchen. 

Tea Smoked Chicken


for the smoking:
1/2 c jasmine rice
1/2 c brown sugar
4 star anise pods
rind of one orange
1/4 c black peppercorns
8 1/8 thick slices fresh ginger
1/2 c loose black tea (we jused darjeeling)

for the glaze:
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 T sesame oil
2 t crushed garlic


Dry brine the chicke for 2-3 hours prior to smoking it.  Rub it liberally with kosher salt inside and out.  Put in the fridge uncovered.  Make SURE no juices can leak onto any fresh food.  Combine the smoking ingredients and strew them in the bottom of a large roasting pan. 

Place a rack over the smoking ingredients.  Rinse the chicken and pat it dry.  Put it on the rack.  Cover the whole pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.  We smoked ours on the grill because I didn't want the smoke in the house.  Even though you can smoke on the stovetop with very little smoke escaping, it makes sense to me to use the grill if you can.  Heat your grill to high and put the pan on it.  Put the lid down and allow the chicken to smoke for 20-30 minutes.  Remove the foil and put the chicken directly on the grill grates.  Turn the heat to medium.  Drizzle the glaze over the chicken a few times and cook it until it's 170-180 degrees.  Remember when you allow it to rest it'll go up by about 10 degrees.  Remove from the heat, allow to rest, then slice and serve.

adapted from A Couple in the Kitchen