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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Carolina Smashed Potato Pig Butt Bake and Reuben Quiche

After being home for almost a week we finally had the opportunity to head to Sam's Club and the grocery.  Our fridge was about as empty as it could be.  We'd been existing on carry out and canned or frozen food.  UGH!  I sat down with the Union Square Café and the Kansas City Barbecue Society cookbooks and made out our menu.  Actually, I could probably just cook my way through the Union Square Café cookbook.  Everything in there sounded good!  Then, at Sam's I bought the Gooseberry Patch Game Day cookbook.  Started reading that on the trip from there to the grocery.  Page 9.  Reuben Quiche.  Does that sound good or what?  Connie was particularly intrigued because it has Dijon mustard instead of the typical thousand island dressing.  Well then, we'd make something fun Sunday morning while we finished decorating for Christmas. 

After the trek to Sam's we dug into the rotisserie chicken.  Connie'd been craving mustard.  Something about that whole box of mustard that arrived from the Mustard Museum...  I used up some of a bottle making a fabulous mustard cream sauce.  It was super easy to make.  I sautéed some garlic and shallot in a bit of olive oil.  Then, I added Dijon mustard and white wine.  Once those were warmed through, I added some capers and cream.  Served over sliced chicken with a big salad on the side, it was perfect for a quick meal. 

So, over the weekend the weather conspired against us.  We were supposed to go south and meet our friends Sonja and Al for dinner Saturday evening.  Icy roads and Connie wasn't amused about driving.  Fine we'd stay home and make the Carolina Potato Smashed Pig Butt Bake from the Kansas City BBQ Society cookbook.  We debated and debated.  The recipe called for cottage cheese.  Connie'd never had cooked cottage cheese.  I had.  Mom used to make a skillet lasagna when we were kids.  It had cottage cheese in it and it worked just fine.  We'd bought ricotta just in case.  Then we did a taste test.  The cottage cheese won.  The ricotta was just too sweet.  Particularly given the fact there was BBQ sauce in the recipe.  Amazing.  Leftovers for lunch were just as good.  This is a reason to head to a bbq place and get some pulled pork!

Sunday morning we made the reuben quiche.  Total winner.  Making the crust out of "bread crumbs" was brilliant.  That allowed the filling to shine but gave it flavor.  Now, I can't wait to try variations on this recipe!  Best part is that we had leftovers for lunch. 

Sunday found us stopping by our friend Lou's house after the Colts win.  Ah, yes, this week they did not embarrass themselves!  We thoroughly enjoyed the game and Lou's hospitality.  Monday night I didn't have a menu item because I thought Connie had a bridge game.  Wrong-o.  So I moved a meal up the line and we were happy campers with asparagus and red pepper pasta from the Union Square Café cookbook and pear salad from the new Sunrise cookbook.  It was perfect with a bottle of Francis Ford Coppola Sante Chardonnay.  Did I remember to take photos of the finished dishes????  Of course not!  Hopefully next time I make them I'll do better :-) 

Carolina Smashed Potato Pig Butt Bake


8 small (B size) red potatoes
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T black peppercorns
1 t salt
3 T corn bread crumbs
1/2 lb chopped pulled pork tossed with barbecue sauce
1 16 oz container cottage cheese
2 c shredded sharp cheddar (about 8 oz)
1/2 lb smoked bacon, fried crispy and crumbled (or, if you don't like it crispy like me, dice it then fry it...)


 Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and pour in water to cover.  Add the vnegar, red pepper, black peppercorns and salt.  Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are done. 

The original recipe said 10-15 minutes.  At 10, the potatoes were not done enough by a long shot.  Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and let them cool slightly.  Take a glass or the palm of your hand and smash each potato to no more than 1/4" thick.  Sprinkle half of the corn bread crumbs in the bottom of a small baking dish. 

Lay half of the potatoes on top of the crumbs.  Cover the potatoes with half of the pulled pork.  Top that with another layer of corn bread crumbs.  Then top that with another layer of potatoes followed by a layer of cottage cheese

then one of pulled pork. Then, top the whole thing with the shredded cheese and the bacon. 

Bake at 300 for 30 minutes.

adapted from the Kansas City BBQ Society cookbook

Reuben Quiche


5 slices rye bread, toasted and crumbled
4 T butter, melted and divided
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/4 lb deli corned beef, chopped
1/2 c sauerkraut, well drained
4 eggs
1 c half and half
1 T flour
1 T Dijon mustard
optional:  dill pickle slices

Mix the crumbled bread crumbs with 3 T of the butter.  Put into a 9" pie plate and pat into a crust.  Bake for 5-7 minutes at 375F.  The crust will be slightly golden. 

Sprinkle half a cup of the Swiss cheese into the crust.  Top that with the corned beef and sauerkraut,

followed by the rest of the Swiss cheese.  Lightly beat the eggs and add the half and half, flour and Dijon.  Pour that over the quiche and bake for 25-30 minutes at 375 F. 

adapted from Game Day by Gooseberry Patch

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Scrambled Egg Pies and Mama Stamberg's Relish

We've certainly eaten well over the last couple of weeks.  But, most of it hasn't been due to my cooking.  You see, we went east for Thanksgiving then south for a seminar and a bunch of client meetings.  We've been gone for the better part of two weeks.  I must say it feels fabulous to be sitting in my own chair at my own house.  But, no, I still didn't cook dinner tonight... 

Late on the Sunday before Thanksgiving we took off for Columbus to spend a day with our grandkids.  We woke up to storm warnings.  The ice storm was predicted to hit our route through Pennsylvania.  Instead of staying the day on Monday, we packed up and took off.  We arrived on Cape Cod at 1:30 am, opened a bottle of wine, unpacked the car, got the groceries into the fridge, changed the bed and collapsed.  Now, Tuesday was a bonus day. 

Off we went to the Keltic Kitchen.  A real Irish breakfast.  Irish brown bread.  Irish sausage.  Perfect.  Lunch was Captain Parkers.  Clam chowder you can stand a spoon up in.  That afternoon we drove up to Wellfleet to visit son #3's liquor store.  Missed Mark Bittman by five minutes.  DRAT!  But, because they were closing down for the season there were bargains galore.  A case of wine went into the car.  We made a few stops on the way up to the store.  An old cemetery, the Cape Cod lighthouse, an old house that'd been owned by a sea captain.  Our normal, OH, that looks interesting, let's turn in and see what it is! 


That evening son #2, Greg, and his girlfriend, Mary, came over for dinner.  Artichoke dip, swiss cheese dip, burgers and Cobb salad.  Now, this isn't any old Cobb salad. It's Cheryl Crow's Southern Cobb Salad.  With Dean Fearings Tobacco Onions.  I think Connie could live on those Tobacco Onions.  The first time I made them he talked about them for a week. They'll spoil you for any other onion rings.  They're that good.  Now, if I could only find the photos from way back when I first made them, I'd share them.  But, alas, I'm a few months behind on labeling and storing photos. 

Wednesday was the big dinner with all the kids.  We'd brought their Christmas presents so we could watch them open them.  Matt loved his carafe and Greg his beer glasses and accoutrements. 


Dinner was pretty much a repeat of the night before with two exceptions.  One, we had lobster instead of burgers.  We've found a wonderful lobsterman named Salty Lou.  He's got an aquarium on his front porch.  You go in and choose your lobster - usually one he's caught that day.  Talk about fresh.  We also had some roasted vegetables.  Turns out that Matt's girlfriend, Monica, is a vegan.  Thank goodness for one of my favorite vegetable recipes - Roasted Cauliflower.  I actually did broccoli the same way also and we enjoyed it equally.  Then, I did another pan of carrots, beets and radishes.  And, another of sweet potatoes.

Thanksgiving and it was time to head to Boston to see Connie's brother, aunt and cousins.  I really love being around Connie's family!  On the way north we stopped to see his sister, Barbara.  She was getting over a bout of pneumonia so didn't come to the dinner.  My contribution was a persimmon pudding made from our own pulp and a big bowl of Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish.  Look at the photo with the recipe below to see the relish...  Connie's been asking me to make this relish for several years.  I wish I had listened sooner.  It was SO good. 

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish


2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small onion
3/4 c sour cream
2 T horseradish
1/2 c sugar


Grind the cranberries and onion.  You want it pretty chunky, not pureed.  Add the other ingredients and combine.  Now, her recipe calls for freezing the relish then thawing and serving.  I just kept it refrigerated for four days.

adapted from NPR

Friday was  our last day on Cape.  We pretty much just hung out with the kids and got as ready to leave as we could.  We started out with brunch.  I'd used up the ingredients I needed to make the planned quiches so punted and created some scrambled egg pies.  Everyone seemed to love them so I'll make them again.  Went out that evening with the whole crew and had some killer burgers.  Our favorite was the hash burger.  A patty of corned beef hash and a sunny side up egg topped the burger.  Now, that's a combo I'm going to make!

Scrambled Egg Pies


Two pie crusts
10-12 eggs, scrambled softly
one bunch asparagus, trimmed, roughly chopped and blanched
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in olive oil
1 c shredded cheese (Swiss, gruyere and cheddar would all work)
lime hollandaise (replace the lemon juice with lime in this recipe)


Cut the pie crusts into circles that'll fit standard muffin tins.  We found a little prep bowl worked perfectly.  Mix the eggs, asparagus, mushrooms and about half of the cheese.  Put the mixture into the crusts.  Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 25 minutes or until the crusts are lightly browned.  Serve topped with the lime hollandaise

Saturday morning we got up at 5:00, changed the bed back to Barb's sheets (we take our own so we don't stick her with washing them and so we can leave early in the morning and don't have to wash, dry and change that morning...,) packed the cooler then the car and were on the road by 6 am.  The moon over the house next door was beautiful. 

Westward HO!  We got to Columbus, played with our grandkids, talked to our kids and crashedOne very interesting thing on the way was this rainbow cloud:


Home for two days with just enough time to attend a Colts luncheon with my friend Susan.  Yes, that is the Lombardi trophy! 

Then, back on the road...  This time it was south to Orlando.  I was going to a seminar and thought it'd be a great excuse to see some clients and take a day or two off.  Our first stop was my older brother John's house.  He and Linda live just north of Orlando in Maitland in a wonderfully comfortable home.  They are equally wonderful to be with.  Not that I'm at all biased but I really won in the sister-in-law game.  All of mine are just super. 

Thursday was the trip to St Augustine.  What an amazing place.  I could post about 100 photos and bore you to death but I won't.  We spent most of our time at the fort then drove around the old city for a bit and headed back to Orlando. 

We got back in time to head to Sam Snead's Pub for dinner.  John's a regular so instead of saying you've got to wait, they figured out how to set a table up in the hall! 

Friday was my day for education.  20 pages of notes later I staggered out of the seminar and found Connie, John and Linda waiting for me outside the hotel.  They'd spent the day at Cape Kennedy and had a magnificent time.  Back to the house where Linda made a fabulous pasta dish.  She chopped mushrooms, garlic and scallions then sautéed them.  Then, she added Rotel tomatoes and cream and tossed the sauce with beef ravioli.  The next morning Connie and I came up with about 20 ways to use that sauce. Yummy!!!

Saturday morning found us traveling to Leesburg to see a client.  From there we headed to St. Pete to see our friends Mike and Karen.  They moved into a new home about a year ago and have been doing all kinds of work to it.  Mike's a timekeeper for the NHL in addition to being a colleague of mine.  So, Karen took us to dinner at the restaurant in the arena while Mike did his official thing.  She'd been regaling us with tales of the hockey greats she'd met when suddenly she said, "There's Phil."  Connie spun around and saw Phil Esposito across the room.  Like a flash he was over there to say hello.  Mr. Esposito was one of his kidhood heros.  Connie had on his official Boston Bruins jersey so he knew he was dealing with a true fan!

Sunday Mike had to catch a 6:30am flight to Akron to do an audit.  After a leisurely breakfast with Karen, Connie and I were off to Tampa so I could meet with some clients.  Once Jeff and Suzanne and I got done, we headed to St. Pete beach.  Connie'd gone online and found a room in a resort on the beach for next to nothing.  I was afraid it'd be a sleep in your clothes kind of place and was thrilled to find it was a charming efficiency apartment.  In fact, it was so nice that we're planning on going back next winter! 

We checked in, dumped our bags, and headed across the street to The Drunken Clam.  Where we got to know some other Colts fans, spent time with the manager Chris and the owner, Jim and had just a fabulous time.  We even bought t-shirts to commemorate our visit. 

Once the Colts had totally embarrassed themselves, we headed to the room and opened a bottle of wine and headed to the beach to watch the sunset.  Everyone was so friendly.  One guy was building a sand head.  Another couple was hunting for shells.  The water was warm and the sand was perfect.  We went back later and enjoyed a moonlight stroll.  Nota bene in the 2nd to last photo - there's a ripple in the water where the bird just dove in and grabbed a bird snack!

Monday it was time for one more client visit then the long trek home.  We were fortunate to be connecting in Charlotte and not Philly.  Had it been the latter, we'd have been more than the 15 minutes late.  Our bags, however, weren't so lucky.  They finally made it home a day later. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blue Cheese Dressing, BJ's Brewhouse, Chef Josephs, The Lockerbie...

We've had a couple of really fun cooking adventures recently.  Actually, I've had more than Connie.  He played bridge while my friend, Stacy, and I fixed a German meal.  But, that's not what came first.  The truffle came first. 

It'd been another of those killer weeks.  Monday I was sick.  Like come home from the office at 10:30 and go to bed sick.  Tuesday I had to feel better since I was teaching a Social Security class in the evening.  By the time everyone left the office about 9pm I was ready to collapse.  Fortunately, we'd taken along Cobb salad fixings so we'd had a good dinner before class.  I'd used my favorite blue cheese dressing which I discovered, much to my consternation, was not on here.  Now, we first made this in 2006 long before I'd thought about blogging.  Consequently, there's an image of a recipe with no attribution.  And a REALLY old photo...  So, here it goes:

Blue Cheese Dressing

2/3 c crumbled blue cheese
1/3 c sour cream
2 T mayonnaise
1 T milk
1/2 t Worcestershire
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t ground mustard
1/4 t garlic powder


The original recipe calls for whirring all of the above in a food processor.  I prefer to take about 1/4 c of the blue cheese and hold it out so I get nice, chunky dressing.  I also tend to double/triple the ground mustard, Worcestershire and garlic.  This is so easy to make and so much better than the jarred/bottled stuff!!!

Back to our adventures...

Wednesday it was time to meet our friends Pete and Shirley for dinner.  Pete had decreed that he wanted us to try his favorite brew pub - BJ's Brewhouse.  Neither of us was excited.  It's a chain, after all.  And, it's in a mall.  But, it was Pete's turn to choose so we showed up at the appointed hour.  Were we ever wrong!!!  We had about the best mac and cheese ever.  A little chipotle and bacon and a perfect sauce. 

And, the pulled pork sandwich was almost as good.  That's turkey club in front of the pulled pork.  It was good but not worthy of a special trip. 

Let me tell you, if there's time that mac and cheese is going to be lunch when I'm in my Greenwood office!

Thursday was a wine dinner at Chef Joseph's.  We got to sit with our friends, Steve and Colleen so had a lively conversation and great time.  Joseph did his usual amazing dishes.  The most incredible was dessert.  Goat cheese flan with lemon and pink peppercorns.  Yeah, it was beautiful and tasted amazing.  The evening was also a fund raiser for Little Red Door.  They offer loads of services for cancer patients.  We wound up with tickets to Theatre on the Square and a gift basket of wine and beer to go along with some beer signs and such. 

Friday night after work we headed downtown to Goose the Market to pick up our truffle.  We splurged and spent $23 on a fresh truffle.  Home it came.  Wrapped in a paper towel in a sealed container.  We opened it and took photos and sniffed. 

Didn't smell much like truffle.  So, I shaved off a little piece.  Kind of like eating a little nibble of wood.  Not much flavor and very dry.  Hmmm, maybe it'd be better cooked...  So we made steaks with a cognac/truffle sauce and mushroom risotto with shaved truffle on top.  Again, not much truffle flavor.


So, we tried again Saturday evening and made truffled scallops and crabmeat over butter lettuce and roasted beets.  This time I put truffle oil and the dressing and viola we had truffle flavor.

Sunday we were meeting Chef Joseph and his partner, Juan, for lunch at the Lockerbie Pub.  Time for some pub grub.  Here are two photos from a couple of months ago when we flew by the Lockerbie and picked up tenderloins to go:

I took along what was left of the truffle along and handed it to Joseph.  Was it good?  Well, this time of year they are hard as rocks, he said.  If you want to get some real flavor out of it, soak it in some brandy.  Ok, now I know. 

Sunday evening we were both still stuffed from our pork tenderloin sandwiches.  I put some short ribs from Goose in the dutch oven and let them simmer away.  I'd planned to make truffled mac and cheese but decided plain old smashed potatoes would be better.  We nibbled at the short ribs and left most of it for lunch later in the week.  That's ok.  It'll reheat REALLY well.  And, with the leftover hangar steak for another lunch and the leftover sauerbraten for yet another, we'll be having some fabulous lunches!

It looks like I'm running out of time and creating a monster post before even talking about our German feast  So, let me say to be continued...