Friday, February 28, 2014
Spaghetti Carbonara. Not a dish that I'd ever made. One of my favorite bloggers, Christiane at the Mom Chef, could just about live on the stuff. So, I kept thinking that I'd try her recipe. Then, Connie and I took a trip south to Columbus, IN to look at some different office space for me. I took along Michael Symon's 5 in 5 to make a list of all the recipes I wanted to try. I might as well have copied the entire index. Everything we've made from this cookbook has been fabulous. Loads of flavor. Easy. Great weeknight cooking.
We had a pound of guanciale - aka hog jowl bacon - in the fridge. Expiration date 3/19/14. Needed to get that used up. There was a list of stuff to use up. So, as I made my list of the recipes to try I kept that in the back of my mind. Ah HA! Classic Spaghetti Carbonara called for the guanciale. That was going on the short list.
It was fricking freezing out. We were leaving the office REALLY late. Dinner was supposed to be Cuban Sandwiches. But, I needed buns and ham. A trip to the grocery wasn't happening. Then, I remembered the carbonara recipe. Perfect. No grocery run. Easy. And, if it was like the rest of the recipes we'd tried, fabulous.
So, what did we think? Nom, nom, nom. Connie's plate was clean. I ate half of mine because I was trying really hard to be good. This was just amazing. The egg yolk was so silky. We loved it. Now, I've got to note... the egg yolk doesn't cook fully. You should VERY carefully wash your eggs prior to cracking them. Use only eggs that are really fresh (we recommend Eggland's Best.) And, make sure you're not serving them to anyone with any health issues.
Do you remember when you were a kid and your mom was making chocolate chip cookies and you got to lick the bowl? I sure do. In fact, last weekend when we went to visit our grandkids I asked their mom and dad if I could give them the beaters from the cookie dough - that'd been made with raw eggs. They said sure. We're pretty much that way in our house. From everything I've read the real salmonella problems come from the shells and not the eggs themselves. But, we all have to issue warnings....
Now, on to the recipe!
Classic Spaghetti Carbonara
1 lb dried spaghetti (I used about half a pound)
4 T olive oil (I used about 2 T of extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 lb guanciale, cut in small dice
4 large eggs separated (I used two since we were doing two servings...)
1 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 c chopped flat leaf parsley
1 c finely grated parmesan or romano cheese
Bring 5 quarts of water and 3 T of salt to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta about a minute less than the package directions. You want it to be al dente. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/4 c of the pasta water.
While the pasta is cooking, cook the guanciale in a large skillet. The original directions said it should take about three minutes. I found it took about ten to get it nice and crispy. The original directions also called for adding olive oil to the pan. I was draining bacon fat like crazy... At any rate, cook the guanciale over medium high heat until it's nice and crispy.
While that's cooking, separate the eggs and set the yolks aside. Do not break the yolks. Froth the whites until they're foamy. Add in the parsley, pepper and grated cheese.
Now, to put this together... Do a final drain of the guanciale. Take the skillet off the heat. Pour the pasta water into the skillet. Stir until you've gotten all the fond up. Pour in the egg mixture. Make sure you don't scramble the eggs. Add the pasta and toss well. Mound the pasta in pasta bowls. Top each serving with an egg yolk.
adapted from 5 in 5 by Michael Symon
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Indy just hit a new record! For the snowiest winter on record :-( We are all SO very tired of the snow. Late last week I looked at our calendar and realized that the next opportunity for grocery shopping MIGHT be Sunday. And, there wasn't time in between for much cooking. But, we did want to eat - LOL. So, I suggested to Connie that we stop at Black Diamond Barbecue on the way home. It's our favorite and it's on the way home. Super double bonus.
We picked up beef brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, greens and green beans. Wednesday was a feast. Thursday and Friday weren't bad at all.
Thursday I headed south to my Columbus office. My first appointment was at 10 and my second wasn't until 1:00. So, I took goodies for lunch. Then, as I was talking with Daryl and Dot during my 10 appointment, they found out that I'd never been to Shorty's. Off to Shorty's we went. It seems that Shorty is long gone and the place is now owned by the ladies who run the kitchen. They specialize in pork tenderloins. Not the platter-sized, pre-formed mell of a hesses you get all too often. These are nice sized pieces of pork that fit on the bun. Novel concept. I bought an extra tenderloin to take back to Connie. My thought was a pork-a-licious sandwich for dinner.
We had some leftover onion buns to go with all that fabulous pulled pork. I fried a bit of bacon with garlic and pepper sprinkled on it, toasted the buns and put together some really fun sandwiches.
Friday we had tickets to see Steel Magnolias at Civic Theatre. It's a mere 9 miles from our home. But, you see, the 1-2" of snow predicted was turning out to be 5". Indy streets were a mell of a hess. And, to top things off, it was Valentines Day. So, we knew there'd be no running in and ordering fast at any restaurant! Leftovers it was. This time, I made savory French toast with some cayenne and grated Gruyere in the batter. Then, I sautéed a diced portabella mushroom and mixed it in with some of the leftover mac and cheese. We made open faced sandwiches like this:
Good thing we left the office a bit early and didn't make a huge production out of dinner because our short drive took 54 minutes! The other good thing is that Civic realized a lot of folks were in the same situation we were in and held the start for about 10 minutes. That meant we didn't miss a minute of this fabulous play. The casting was about as perfect as you can get. The set was just amazing. And, the acting was great. We absolutely loved it!!
Saturday was a long day at the office. I had LOTS of appointments the next week to prepare for. And, I had loads to do to finish up from last week's appointments. We had tickets to see I Love Lucy at a venue downtown. Needless to say our first thought was to go to our dear friend, Chef Joseph's restaurant. Then, we parked by the Murat and started hiking. The sidewalks were barely cleared. We were done walking. The closest place would have to do. It was Shiraz Wine Bar and Art Café. Ok, so I'm going to be critical here. Really critical. I don't expect this place to be around long. Initially we were the only two patrons. The waiter said he was a friend of the owner's and was helping out so please excuse him if he was a bit rusty. Rusty? Both James the waiter and Patty the owner had NO clue about the wine menu. I asked if the Pommery Pink Bubbles was sweet. That led to a lost cause of a search. No, they didn't have any. Some tv show had featured it and it was way overpriced but folks wanted it... Enough already. I never did find out how sweet it was... How about your Pinot Noirs? Well, in addition to those on the menu we have this one. We were handed a bottle plus a written explanation. Nothing verbal. Ok, so you really don't know what you're selling here. We'd asked when we walked in if they had food. Yes, tonight we actually have entrees. Great. So, we've got lasagna and chicken scampi. How much are they? I don't know, I'll have to ask the owner. We finally found a little board with the menu. $15 including salads. The menu also listed a charcuterie board and olives. By this time Patty had shown up. So I asked her about the charcuterie board. Well, it's whatever cheese she wants to put on it plus ham and salami and olives. The olives sounded good. We ordered olives and two entrees. Pretty soon we had a bowl of olives. Green olives. No pimentos. Cold green olives. Ugh. The breadsticks were great. Tasted like Olive Garden's. Oh, and what I didn't mention was that we ordered a bottle of the Pinot Noir that wasn't on the menu. I actually got a great shot of the taste.
Then, James poured the glasses. And, poured. And poured. About twice the appropriate amount. The kind of pour you'd like when you order a glass of wine and WANT TO GET AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. But, not the amount you want when you've ordered a bottle of wine and want to enjoy every bit of it. Our salads appeared. With snow peas. Enough snow peas for Connie and Kate and a dozen of our friends. And, maybe their families. It tasted like soggy salad with snow peas added in. Before we'd even gotten through half of our salads, our entrees appeared. The chicken scampi pasta had angel hair and rotini. Interesting mix. The lasagna was good. Cold, but good. James came back by and offered to top off our wines. Connie said thanks but he'd handle it. By that time I was debating how tacky it would be to tell Patty exactly what we thought. She walked by, I opened my mouth and offered some constructive criticism. Turns out she wants to have a wine bar but not do the food. But, she says, Hoosiers want food. Well, and I can tell you that having a nice appetizer menu will help sell wine. The salad was indeed soggy salad with snow peas added in. And, yes the breadsticks tasted like Olive Garden's. That's where she'd gotten them. Totally frustrating. It was a great space with a nice wine list. Something that Mass Ave needs. But, what it really needs is a proprietor who wants to offer the public what they want... Otherwise, she's out of business!
Monday it was back to normal. More snow. Ice too. Connie skipped bridge. I had to scramble a bit for dinner. There was still some mac and cheese. And a serving each of collards and green beans. I had a palmful of pulled pork. And, ground beef to make glop for Tuesday evening. That's when I'm teaching my Social Security class so we're at the office til about 9pm. I figured I could use a little bag of cooked ground beef from the freezer and mix it with half of the newly browned ground beef. That'd leave quarter pound burgers. Ah, but they'd be a third of a pound if I added in the little bit of leftover pulled pork. Sold. Then, I looked at the mac and cheese and wondered about adding some blue cheese. And, a tablespoon of browned pancetta. That'd work. And, it did. Connie gave the mac and cheese a five. Me too. And, unfortunately, thanks to a crazy afternoon I was focused on getting dinner on the table and not taking photos... But, suffice to say - toss a bit of blue cheese in your mac and cheese. Your taste buds will thank you.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
EliotsEats! The blog name was cause for dancing. I'd considered dropping out of Secret Recipe Club because I'd gotten so many blogs that either were not at all to my taste and I had a terrible time finding something to make or were vegan or gluten free. To top it off, several times in the last year whoever has had my blog has either posted late or skipped posting. I was beyond frustrated. One more shot, I said. If my February blog isn't good, then I quit. Well, now, let me tell you. I got one of my favorite blogs. Actually one of my three favorite blogs. I already had a list of things to make that was about a mile long. And, I'd not had an opportunity to check out any of my friend Debra's new postings for at least a month.
On to Eliots Eats for some of those recipes I'd wanted to try. Stop. Wait. There's a brilliant idea right there. Waffled French toast. As a breakfast sandwich. I do believe Debra has come up with the next GREAT idea! I showed it to Connie. We had to try it. And, to make things even better, the kids gave me Carnivore by Michael Symon for Christmas. There was a recipe for homemade sausage I'd been itching to try.
What did we think? Oh, but this was fun to make and fun to eat and it tasted fabulous! We actually made these for dinner.
I do hope you'll drop by Debra's blog and get to know her. She's such a fun cook and has a lovely collection of recipes. I can always find something fun and interesting to try.
Waffled Breakfast Sandwiches
makes four sandwiches
for the French Toast Batter
1 c whole milk
3 T flour
1/8 t. salt
1 T honey
for the Sausage
1 lb ground pork
1 T kosher salt
1 t sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 small shallot, minced
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 t chopped fresh oregano
2 t fennel seeds, toasted
1/3 t freshly ground black pepper
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 t fresh lemon juice
for the sandwiches:
eight slices of whole wheat bread (you could use challah or sourdough easily)
four fried eggs (over easy is best)
granola (I left this out)
maple syrup (I used shagbark hickory syrup)
To make the batter, whisk the eggs then whisk in the other ingredients. Just a side note - we get our honey from our friends John and Jackie. It's fabulous!
For the sausage, mix all the ingredients.
Form into quarter pound patties and brown. To make the sandwiches, put the batter into a wide bowl. Dip both sides of the bread in.
Cook on a waffle iron. Top a piece of French toast with a sausage patty then another piece of French toast.
Top that with a fried egg. Serve with maple syrup.
Waffled French Toast Breakfast Sandwiches adapted from Eliots Eats. Sweet Italian Sausage adapted from Carnivore.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
This week I am without a menu plan. Bummer. We're trying to clean out the freezer. I am not motivated. And, instead of recipes I've been reading things like why the unemployment rate is not so much due to a training/jobs availability problem as it is due to the extension of unemployment benefits and the refusal of the highly paid folks laid off during the recession to settle for lower wages. Snoooze, eh? I've seriously been trying to get caught up on all of my business reading. And, I am making a dent. It's just not nearly as fun as recipes... Now, don't get me wrong, I couldn't do the cooking thing for a living. I really love what I do. But, I think I've spent a little too much time working in the last week.
Today we had such a fabulous selection to choose from for lunch: salsa fish, split pea soup, ham salad, hash browns, soggy salad, leftover pasta fra diavolo and honey ham. Tonight all I knew was that I had broccoli to use up. And, there were mushrooms and carrots ready to go too. On the way home I started ruminating about the possible broccoli dishes. Roasted broccoli? Nope, requires a protein and possibly another vegetable or starch, I wasn't in to three dishes. A casserole? Nah. More leftovers. And, as you could see from the list above there is still plenty for tomorrow's lunch. Ok, so how about stir fry? That'd work.
I hunted through my recipes and found two likely candidates. One that had pineapple and shrimp. Sounded like broccoli could be added. And, another with snow peas, celery and mushrooms. That'd be perfect with carrots and water chestnuts swapped out for the snow peas. Eat with the season as much as possible. And, avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery. So, the recipe from Food and Wine it was.
What did we think? Connie gave this a four. I used less ginger because it wasn't minced, it was jarred and I didn't want to overwhelm. I should've used a bit more. And, I should've upped the sherry just a tad. This was really close to a four in my book. And, really, other than the broccoli, it's stuff that we always have on hand. Mushrooms are pretty much always on the grocery list. Carrots and celery are a given. And there's always a bag of shrimp in the freezer. What could be easier?
Stir Fried Shrimp and Vegetables
1/2 c diced celery
1/2 c sliced carrot
1 c broccoli florets
4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 can diced water chestnuts
1/2 lb medium shrimp, shelled (I used pre-cooked)
3/4 c chicken broth
1 T cornstarch
2 T dry sherry
1 T soy sauce
1 t sugar
1 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t sesame oil
In a large skillet heat the oil to shimmering. While that's heating, mix up the sauce. Put the corn starch in the bottom of a measuring cup and slowly add the chicken broth so you can incorporate the corn starch well. Then, add the dry sherry, soy sauce, sugar and ginger.
If you're using dried jalapeno like I did, add that too. Otherwise, add it when you add the garlic.
Once the oil is shimmering, add the vegetables and stir fry them for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeno if you're using fresh. Stir fry. Add the sauce and the shrimp and cook until the sauce is thickened.
adapted from Food and Wine
Sunday, February 9, 2014
There are a lot of blogs I love to visit. I really could care less about the photography. Just give me some good recipes. And, tell me a great story. Three of the bloggers are really special to me. Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake, Christiane at The Mom Chef and Debra at Eliots Eats. Now, I don't very often leave messages when I visit their blogs. My bad. But, I do love their stories and their recipes. Tonight was a trifecta. I finished up Split Pea Soup for lunch tomorrow, courtesy of Christiane. Our salad was dressed with a fabulous Honey French Dressing from Debra. The color was so gorgeous that I had to pour it into a glass and take a photo.
One of the best parts of the dressing? The honey from our friends John and Jackie. It's positively amazing!!
And, our dessert? My favorite Mounds Bars from Liz. Ahhhh, you know what? It just doesn't get much better than this!
Yes, we did have something other than salad for dinner. I'd found a mushroom bread pudding in the Tasting Along the Wine Road Cookbook. Had to try it. OMG! It was a five. I'm going to be surprised if all of it is still there tomorrow evening. My guess is that Connie will make a midnight run on the bread pudding. Then, there was the pork special. Yes, you read that correctly. We really do try to cut down on meat. So, I cut a pork special in half and pounded it and made a port wine and dried cherry sauce that was pretty darned good.
The other thing that made our dinner tonight fabulous was our wine glasses. A couple of months ago we went to a Reidel class at one of our local liquor stores. And, we each left with a Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cab glass. And, yes, there is a BIG difference between how the wines taste in the various glasses. Connie chose a Pinot Noir for dinner tonight, It was perfect. I particularly enjoyed the I Love You I got in sign language as I was taking the photo :-)
Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 lb mixed wild mushrooms, chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 c milk (I used 2%, the recipe called for whole)
1/2 c cream
1 t kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb brioche or challah loaf
2 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
1 sprig thyme leaves or 1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 c finely grated Parmesan cheese
Saute the mushrooms in the butter until they're lightly browned.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and cream Add in the salt and pepper, bread, Gruyere and sautéed mushrooms. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Spread the bread pudding in a lightly butter baking dish. Top with the parmesan. Bake for 30 min at 400F.
Pork Specials with Port Wine and Dried Cherry Sauce
pork special, cut in half and pounded to about 1/4" thick
salt and pepper
light olive oil or canola oil
1/4 c port wine
1/4 c dried cherries
1 T grainy mustard
1/2 t dried thyme
1 T butter
Soak the cherries in the port.
Pound the pork to about 1/4" thick. Salt and pepper it. Heat the olive oil to shimmering in a small skillet. Add the pork and cook on both sides until lightly browned.
Remove the pork from the skillet. Put it on a plate and tent it with foil to keep it warm. Add the port and cherries to the skillet.
Stir until the port is reduced by half. Add the thyme, mustard and butter. Cook until slightly thickened. Serve over the pork
Here's where to find the split pea soup and honey French dressing and Mounds Bars recipes;
Split pea soup
Honey French dressing
Friday, February 7, 2014
Saturday evening. The invitation said wine and noshing. Noshing does not mean dinner, or does it? At any rate, I wasn't willing to take the chance that dinner would consist of cucumber slices. But, I didn't have much time. So, I dug into my trusty file of recipes I've saved in pdf form. There was a perfect one. From Culinary Adventures with Camilla. It was called Chicken, Artichoke and Arugula Casserole. I didn't have any arugula but I did have a box of the baby kale, spinach and collard mix. And, I had a red bell pepper that was on its last legs. Oh, and most important of all, Connie'd been to Sams so we had a lovely rotisserie chicken. We'd needed wings to make La Brea Tar Pit wings for Deb's Super Bowl party. So, he got the rest of the stuff on our list while he was getting the wings.
It's been a LONG time since I've been able to post anything. First off, Blogger was not communicating with either Internet Explorer OR Chrome. It wouldn't let me add photos, update, save. Anything. And, I was out of time to figure out what was going on. Finally the crisis is resolved. Turns out my former broker/dealer mandated automatic updates to any systems. That meant that even on my home computer - since I occasionally use it for business even though I never save anything business here - had to have automatic updates. Blogger hadn't kept up with Internet Explorer. My awesome computer guy, Mark, e'd Connie the instructions and viola, a working computer! Yet another reason to be glad I escaped the ejeets last fall!
Well now, since I can blog again let's talk about some food. We've had half a dozen go to chicken casseroles. They're so good that on the rare occasion I need to just make a chicken casserole, I use one of them. For some reason I decided that Saturday evening was the time to try something new. And, am I ever glad I did. We got five servings out of this casserole even though I used far less pasta than the recipe called for.
What did we think? This is going on the short list. It was fabulous the first evening and even better for lunch the next day. Easy to put together. Used mostly pantry ingredients. Home run!
Chicken, Artichoke and Arugula Casserole
8 oz pasta - I used 4-5 oz - penne, trottole, farfalle, whatever you have!
1 T butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 c whole milk (I used 2% and it was fine)
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c finely grated Parmesan, divided in half
2 c shredded mozzarella
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 c arugula, chopped (I used baby kale, collards and spinach)
salt and pepper
Cook the pasta for just about a minute less than the package directions call for. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Sauté the onion in the butter until it's softened. Add the greens and sauté until they've wilted. Mix the eggs, milk and cream. Toss all the ingredients and put into a buttered baking dish. Top with the last of the grated Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.
adapted from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Saturday, February 1, 2014
One of the things on Connie's bucket list is to live through an earthquake. Let me rephrase that. Live through an earthquake that he feels. Feels is the critical word here. Many years ago we got to the airport at o'dark thirty. Got through security (fyi - if you've not yet signed up, the pre-check is AWESOME!) and found some chairs in the gate. Pretty soon, my chair was rocking. Connie must be pumping his knee. Nope, he was asleep. Great, so it's some guy behind me and I can't lean back and say, "Cut it out buddy!" We get on the plane and the pilot announces that this is a first for him. They're checking the runways for damage because we've had an earthquake. Connie looks at me and sheepishly announces that perhaps he's slept through it... Yup. That would be the case.
The next one was a couple of years ago. Sam and Judy were in for their review. Judy was across the table from me and Sam was to my left. Connie was out walking Annie. The shaking started. Judy and I looked at each other and said, "Earthquake." Took a bit of time to find the info that indeed, Indiana had had a very small earthquake. Did Connie feel it when he was out taking DoggieWoggie for her daily constitutional? Nope.
So, with great anticipation we headed west. First stop, Phoenix. Second stop, California. Now, the time was ripe for Connie to really experience an earthquake!
We took off for Phoenix at o'dark thirty. Finally, we were there. Our rental car was ready. Except, it was a hatchback and our bags didn't fit. Back to the office. Free upgrade because they didn't have anything else that we could take out of state. Thank you Alamo! Off to the botanical garden. $22 a person and 75 minutes until we had to be at the hotel and ready for the first speaker. Ummm, no, we'd be back.
Speakers, break out sessions. Just tons of education and fun. So, three of the speakers. Erik Wahl. A graffiti artist. Such cool work. And, a great message. Then, David Kelly. Chief global strategist for a fund company. Amazing man. I need to listen faster because he crams so much info into his talks that I can listen three times and still learn more! Last, but not least, Bill Walton. Big deal, eh? He's a basketball player. One who's had 37 orthopaedic surgeries and has found a calling as a motivational speaker. He talked about playing for John Wooden. I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Wooden at an educational retreat put on by a big fund company. He was 95. Bounded into the room, spoke, then answered questions for almost 45 minutes. I still remember the sense of awe I felt. Now, I felt almost the same thing listening to Bill Walton. This from a gal who prefers professional football to all other sports! Photos afterward. Yes, he is VERY tall!
You're wondering how we got back to the botanical garden, aren't you? We were scheduled to have dinner with my friend Windus. She's from San Diego so we don't get to see each other too often. I told her we had a fabulous idea for Tuesday evening. She loved it and so did the two colleagues of hers who she brought along. The bonus was that the sun was just setting and there was a Chihuly exhibit. At the risk of boring you, there are several photos. After the botanical garden, we were off to Stingray Sushi. We loved their Godzilla roll. Actually, we really liked the whole dinner!
Ok, we're having major technical difficulties here. I can't edit at all from home using either Internet Explorer or Chrome. At the office I can marginally edit using Chrome. Methinks it is time to ditch Blogger and go with another system. If only I had the time to mess with that!