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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Dinner - Kate Style

As all too often happens, work has been interfering with play.  Cooking, blogging, reading, gardening, relaxing on the screened porch with a glass of wine.  All of that and more have taken a back seat to a huge transition in our business.  Someday soon, I'll have a new website and can share some of the info.  It's all good.  I'm just looking forward to getting more work/play balance in our lives. 

Frequently, I'll jot down recipes and ideas and never post them.  Haven't even had time to do that.  We've made our weekly loaves of bread in the bread machine.  Some, like the lemon oregano and the sage onion have been spectacular.  Some like the most recent have been dense and not appealing...    We made the best lobster rolls ever.  With browned butter.  Oh, my, those were GOOD!  We made fondue for the first time ever.  I went to my first Raymond James Women's Symposium in Tampa and got to see my friend, Sarah, on a panel.  Connie ziplined at Craig and Diane's one year anniversary party.  We watched Peyton's jersey get retired.  Chad and Kelly got married.  A trip to Fort Wayne to see Garrison Keillor meant dinner at Casa D'Angelos.  We saw Khazir Khan.  And, we loved a concert with our friends Mark and Chris.  Drinks with my brother John and sister-in-law Pam.  We went to a couple of dinners at Chef JJ's.  And, a couple at Chef Josephs.  A hurricane fundraiser (bbq) and a salmon cookoff at Bent Rail Brewery.  One dinner there when we just didn't have the energy to do anything but order.  But when it came to blogging, the mountain of unread newspapers and magazines always drew me to that side of the great room.  Tonight, though, I really must record what we had for dinner.  It was too good and I want to be able to make it again.  Please accept my apologies for the guesses on the measurements.  It was a last minute thrown together substitution for the much more complicated meal I'd planned for this evening.  And, I'm REALLY glad I had to substitute!

Here are some photos along the way of the last six weeks...






Tonight I'd planned crab legs with a champagne beurre blanc.  Wasn't happening when dinner prep started at 7:30.  My original intent was to get something out of the freezer that I'd actually made and frozen for lunch but had yet to take into the office.  Then, I saw the frozen duck breast and thought how wonderful that'd be with pear cranberry salsa.  There were pears that had to be used up.  I'd gone onto and looked at various pear salsas.  The pear and cranberry combo had most appealed to us.  But, I didn't want to go to the basement and hunt for the 1996 Cooks Illustrated.  Odds are good it's down there.  I just didn't want to hunt.  So, if I did duck along with pear cranberry salsa what else would be good and quick?  Neither of us wanted potatoes or rice.  Lentils sounded good.  Lentils with artichoke hearts.  And, maybe lemon.  I'd figure it out as I went along. 

The duck breast went into a bowl of warm water to thaw - still in it's package.  Lentils went into a pan to cook.  A loaf of multi-grain bread went into the bread maker.  And, everything else started going into two bowls...

Pear Cranberry Salsa

2 ripe pears, not peeled, diced
1/2 c fresh cranberries, pulsed in the processor until they're diced
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 T sherry vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Mix it all together and allow it to stand for about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Lentil Artichoke Salad

1/2 c green lentils, cooked
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 T olive oil
1/4 c dry white wine
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
1 T capers
1 t lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
2 T extra virgin olive oil 

Cook the lentils.  Saute the onion in the olive oil and deglaze the pan with the white wine.  Drain the lentils and toss everything together.  Serve at room temperature.

Duck Breast with Pear Liqueur

1 duck breast
1 T flour
1/4 c pear liqueur

Score the duck skin in a cross hatch pattern.  Be careful to not cut the meat.  Heat a skillet until it's hot enough for water droplets to sizzle.  Brown the duck breast with the fat side down.  Flip it and cook until it's your preferred doneness.  Remove the duck from the skillet and tent it with foil to keep it warm.  Whisk the flour into the rendered duck fat.  Cook it until it's browned.  Gradually pour in the pear liqueur, whisking as you pour.  You may need to add a tablespoon of water.  Slice the duck and serve with the sauce. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fried Food Extravaganza!

My goal is to clean out the OLD small freezer and get rid of it.  It's an energy hog and we really don't need the extra freezer.  Of course, if you looked at what we have frozen, you'd say we do.  An entire shelf of stock.  Chicken, turkey, shrimp, lobster and corn.  An entire shelf of soups.  And, the list goes on...  I've been reaching my hand into the freezer and grabbing different proteins.  Then, I design the week's menus around them.  Some time ago I grabbed the bag of cod.  Fish and chips went on the menu.  And, got moved from week to week.  Finally I'd had enough of the moving it and declared it was time to have fish and chips for dinner.  Except that Connie didn't want potatoes.  And, he's not fond of corn meal.  Really, he's not terribly picky.  Except of course when it comes to soup, fruit and potatoes.  LOL.  He eats them because I fix them and that's what's for dinner.  He does like a lot of the weird stuff I like.  Anchovies, escargot, oysters, smoked oysters, capers...

I headed to the computer to look at recipes for beer batter.  That'd make him happy.  No corn meal.  Now, when it comes to catfish he's not going to have a choice.  That's a corn meal kinda fish!  But, cod we could beer batter.  As I looked at Epicurious I saw an onion ring recipe.  It was a beer tempura batter.  Sounded fabulous.  Then and there I decided to do onion rings and beer battered fish.  And, a raw cauliflower salad with anchovies, capers, parsley, red wine vinegar and EVOO.  Gotta have something healthy with the fried food!

We loved this meal so much that the next evening I did it again - more or less.  This time I cut the fish into pieces and tucked them into toasted hot dog buns.  The sandwiches were topped with shredded lettuce that'd been drizzled with some malt vinegar.  We used Stonewall Kitchen Down East Tartar Sauce because I'd bought a jar on sale and wanted to use it up.  It was very good but not very economical. 

I've got to say these were about the best onion rings I've ever had.  They were crispy and crunchy.  They shattered as a good tempura batter should.  I sliced the sweet onions about a quarter of an inch thick.

With thanks to Epicurious, here's the recipe I adapted from their site:

Tempura Batter for Onion Rings and Fish


2 c all purpose flour
1 c cornstarch
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t onion powder
1 t cayenne
1 1/2 t sugar
1 T kosher salt
12 oz beer (I used Heineken)
5 oz club soda


Mix the batter ingredients.  Heat your oil in a wide skillet to 350.  Dredge the onion rings in the batter and put them in the hot oil.  Do not crowd them or they will stick together.  Fry on both sides until golden brown.  Remove them from the skillet to a half sheet covered with paper towels. Dust with salt.  Add the fish to the hot oil.  Again, cook until it's golden brown.  Remove to the half sheet.  Serve with tartar sauce.  Either plain or in a sandwich...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Eggplant Lasagna Rollups

Sometimes leftovers dictate the meal.  Like the jar of Rao's Eggplant Sauce that I'd used a third of.  Way too expensive to waste.  So, I went into the old memory banks and thought about the pasta dishes I'd made.  We had some baby eggplants on the deck.  We'd used one and it wasn't ok with the seeds in.  How about if I'd roast three of those and mix them with some cottage cheese and a few other things and make lasagna rollups?  Like the mushroom pesto lasagna rollups

The eggplants were trimmed of their tops then halved and coated with olive oil.  20 minutes at 400 and they were perfectly roasted.  I scooped the seeds out then put the flesh into about a cup of cottage cheese.  Remember, these were baby eggplants so there was about two tablespoons of flesh per eggplant.  Some z'atar and garlic got tossed in.  Then, about half a small red onion that I'd minced for the sage/onion bread I made along with a couple of sage leaves got sautéed and tossed in.  And, for good measure I diced a couple of big cremini mushrooms and sautéed them before tossing them in. 

Lasagna noodles got cooked then drained and cooled.  The sauce was smeared on the noodles and they were rolled up.  Topped with the eggplant sauce and baked.  About five minutes before their 20 minute cooking time I tossed on some shredded mozzarella. 

Lasagna rolls, warm mushroom salad topped with St. Agur blue cheese and toasted sage/onion bread.   Dinner was served!  And, that was a good thing since we were at the office until about 6:30... That's on a Sunday evening.  But, we got a lot done and will be going into Monday feeling better about our tasks!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Chopped with Only the Basket

I felt like I was a contestant on Chopped.  Except all I had to cook with was the contents of my basket.  And, it was a pretty darned empty basket!  We'd gotten home from Alaska the night before at 2:00.  It was supposed to be 1:00 but weather delayed an incoming flight to O'Hare so we were delayed.  Once we got home we unpacked.  Well, we unpacked what we could since Connie's primary suitcase never made the Seattle to Chicago to Indy connection.  Five cookbooks, a glass piece with fireweed, a bronze moose, a couple of switchplates and a couple of zipper pulls.  We didn't go nuts on the mementos, just the photos. 

Needless to say, we slept in.  Then, we went to the office.  We were still pretty darned tired when we finally got home about 6:30.  I'd done a decent job of cleaning out the fridge before we left.  Except for some mushrooms that smelled to high heaven!  And, neither of us wanted to go to the grocery.  Besides, we'd not made a list so that would've meant two trips.  Not happening.  In my back pack I had two apples and two small bags of almonds.  I'd tucked them in in the event we had a quick transfer and missed lunch or dinner.  In the fridge I had some celery and a bit of blue cheese.  And, on the counter there was a bowl with one weak and wobbly red onion and three shallots. Shallots that were also pretty weak and wobbly. There was a big container of basil.  First thing I did this morning when I got up was deadhead the basil.  That we had plenty of. 

I decided the smartest move was to reach my hand into the freezer and we'd have whatever it was.  LOL, it was a container of five cups of chicken stock.  Ok, then.  We were having chicken stock. 

On the way back from the office I'd seen a recipe for a roasted red bell pepper and basil soup.  That sounded really good but the apples were going to be a salad.  Connie is not a fan of either fruit OR soup.  Both for a meal was pretty much overkill!  Unless, of course, I made risotto to go with them.  Since I wound up making my own soup recipe up, I'm not crediting the original inspiration...  We were off to the races!

I really can't tell you which I liked best.  All three were fabulous and I'll make them all again.

Deconstructed Pesto Risotto


1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 c Arborio rice
2 - 2.5 c chicken stock
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
3 T butter, divided
1/2 c pine nuts
3/4 c shredded Parmesan, divided
8 large fresh basil leaves


Saute the red onion in the olive oil.  Once its softened, add the garlic.  Don't let any of it brown.  Add the rice and let it get nice and warm.  Then, start ladling in the chicken stock one ladle-full at a time.  Let the rice absorb the stock before you add more.  And, remember, to be nice and creamy the rice needs to be knocked around a bit to release the starches.  So, stir and stir and stir again.  When the rice is about half cooked, toss in the chopped basil.  Then, just as the rice finishes, add a tablespoon of butter and 1/2 c of the shredded Parmesan.  While the rice is cooking, melt the other two tablespoons of butter in a skillet that's large enough to hold the eight basil leaves.  Let the butter get nice and brown before adding the basil.  Cook it until it's nice and crisp.  Brown the pine nuts in a dry skillet.  To serve, mound the risotto in the middle of your dishes.  Sprinkle with the additional Parmesan, then the pine nuts.  Top that with the fried basil leaves then drizzle with the remaining brown butter.

Blue Cheese and Apple Salad


2 apples, diced (I'd use Gala)
3 ribs celery, diced
1/4 c toasted almonds, chopped
1/4 c blue cheese, crumbled
2 t lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 c mayonnaise


Mix it all together and serve.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Basil Soup


2 shallots, diced
3 T softened butter, divided
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, plus the juice
2 - 3 c chicken stock (I used about 2.5 c because that's what was left from the risotto)
1/2 c chopped fresh basil
2 T flour
4 oz jalapeno cream cheese
                          4 T sliced fresh basil


Saute the shallots in a tablespoon of the butter.  Chop the red bell peppers and add them along with the juice from the jar.  Add the 1/2 c chopped fresh basil.  Add the chicken stock.  Cook for a few minutes just to blend the flavors.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup.  Mix the other two tablespoons of butter with the flour and slowly add that to the soup.  Stir well and allow it to thicken.  Stir in the cream cheese.  Once the cream cheese is melted, serve and top with the sliced fresh basil.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Carrot and Cranberry Salad and Sausage Arriabiata Sauce

The best laid plans of mice and men...  We were going to go see Alton Brown's Eat Your Science.  We had an hour to either fix dinner and eat or go someplace and eat.  My mind went to a great pasta dish from Michael Symon's 5 in 5.  Sausage and kale pasta.  I was thinking I'd put some goat cheese in.  It'd be super quick and so much less expensive than eating out.  Got home and put the water for the pasta on.  Cut open the sausage and crumbled it into a skillet.  Fed Wee Mac the cat.  Took off my jacket.  Headed for the fridge to get the kale.  Ewww.  A slimy mess.  And, the power greens were at the office.  Ok, plan B.  Let's go for Arriabiata sauce from Trader Joe's.  Drain the sausage, add about 1/4 c of red wine to deglaze the pan and pour in the pasta sauce.  You know, that goat cheese still sounded good.  So, 4 oz of goat cheese went in and happily melted away.  Then, to round the flavors off I added about 1/4 c of cream and about a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.  Served with small shells and we had a five!  Oh, and we had no photos... 

So, let's talk about some food that we have photos of!  Or, as my mother would say, food of which we have photos...  LOL, isn't it funny how our language changes?

We went to Cape Cod for a few days.  Drove out the south route and stayed in Harrisburg, PA.  Had a decent dinner at a great restaurant and bar.  Actually, it was the deck that was killer.  It was huge, had a bunch of fire pits and a wonderful covered bar.  But, alas I can't even remember the name...  The next day we drove the rest of the way.  It was a bit unnerving to go through a tunnel in NYC behind the flashing lights of a bomb truck. 


But, all was safe in the tunnel.  We got to Cape and headed straight to Salty Lou's.  He's our favorite lobsterman. 
Turns out we literally got the first chicks of the season.  Chicks are the nickname for lobsters of a certain weight - like 1.5 lbs.  We headed to Auntie Barbara's house for a lobsterfest with the kids.  YUM!


The next day I went shopping.  Barbara had been planning on renting out the Cape house so she'd cleared it out. The rental had fallen through.  We needed all kind of things like washcloths, dish detergent...  A LONG list was in hand.  After the shopping we were to go up to Boston to see Auntie Kay.  It felt like everyone from Boston was heading south to Cape and everyone from Cape was heading north to Boston.  On top of that there was a grey, steady rain.  Miserable traveling.  About the time we should have been arriving our navigation system said we had an hour and 11 minutes go to.  UGH!  So we plodded along.  And, half an hour later it said we had an hour and 14 minutes to go.  We were going backwards!  Needless to say we bailed and went up to see Auntie Kay another day. 

A couple of days later we drove around Cape for about half a day looking at condos for Matt.  Just the outsides to see how well maintained they were.  At one point we headed toward the water.  And, saw a juvenile red-tailed hawk.  He wasn't particularly concerned about the humans taking photos.  He was just interested in finding lunch!


Now, the good news is that with all of that time in the car I got some old cooking magazines read.  There was one recipe that I saved out of the pile of recipes to try.  For a shredded carrot salad.  From Cuisine at Home.  We finally got to the grocery so I actually had all of the ingredients in hand.  It was good the first day but better the second.  The carrots softened a bit.  Which brought out their sweetness.  This is one we'll make again!

Carrot and Cranberry Salad

6 servings

1 t minced lemon zest
3 T fresh lemon juice (I used 2)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag shredded carrots (10 oz - about 3.5 cups)
1 c dried cranberries
3/4 c chopped walnuts, toasted
1/3 c each chopped fresh parsley and minced scallions

Make the salad dressing by combining the lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger and honey then whisking in the olive oil.  Toss it with the carrots, cranberries, walnuts, parsley and scallions.  This is wonderful left over so you may want to make it the night before...