Good & Strange

On a recent visit to my favorite 5000 square foot Italian market/restaurant empire I picked up a few new things to try. Some were good, some were strange, and one was actually strangely good.

just strange So these were just strange. I had high hopes for them but no. They literally are just corn flour dried into these long shapes. A snack to to crunch on or use to dip into things. They were scarily crisp (as in break your teeth crisp) and really didn’t taste like anything. I think you could find a better vehicle to get that onion dip into your mouth.

 

 

 

 

always good

 

This was just good. Afterall I was just following directions. “Winemaker notes: best enjoyed with fruit and cheese.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

strangly good

This one was strangley good. These crunchy little nuggets promote themselves as a snack to “sharpen the appetite.” They have 2 kinds of wine in them – red and white! To me they have a flavor that completely reminds me of stuffing. (Like thanksgiving stuffing!)  Strangley addictive too.  According to the manufactuer I should be sipping a glass of “Agricola del Sole Jazzorosso” wine while I snack on these. Maybe next time.

 

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Scraps

Sometimes you just have to use up the scraps of things you have hanging around your cabinets and fridge. And that is the very essence of “cabinet stew.” Using what you have on hand to create a meal.

For me that started waaaay back in my 20’s when after a late night out, you would come home starving – things weren’t as 24/7 back then – and pull stuff out of the cabinets to try to put together something delicious. “Cabinet Stew” was born! I can’t take credit for coining the phrase. It was the boyfriend of one of my friends, Karl, who invented the “Cabinet Stew” in the first place!

Other then a quiche, my favorite way to use up scraps is in a mac-n-cheese. I use up whatever random chunks of cheese I have on hand, of course there is always dried pasta in my cabinets and this time I threw in a small amount of fresh spinach, some diced Canadian ham and onion. It felt almost healthy. Almost.

 

 

Production Notes:

Cheese: this one was mostly Swiss cheese with a small amount of cheddar and some parmesan on top. It made a nice compliment with the salty ham.

Pasta: I used gluten free – make sure not to over boil!

Sauce: simply equal parts of your choice fat and flour whisked with warmed whole milk. I like to add the powdered spices in with the roux so they can toast a bit. In this case I used garlic powder, smoked paprika and ground nutmeg to compliment the spinach. In retrospect a little dijon mustard thrown into the cheese sauce would have been a nice compliment to classic flavors of ham, Swiss and spinach!

 

 

 

Retirement Day

In reviewing my blogs post since I started (May 2010!) it seems I have only written about the Super Bowl twice!! As an avid football fan and foodie it seems that I would have written about Super Bowl food more than twice in 8 years!

In reviewing the posts I had to chuckle at my 2016 (Denver Broncos win over the Carolina Panthers with the now-retired Payton Manning at the helm) because I was commenting on how we need to get this guy his last Super Bowl ring and let him get on with retirement! Funny enough that is what many people are saying about today’s Super Bowl and Tom Brady! What comes around, goes around I guess!

Below is my original posting from that 2016 Super Bowl! (and an easy stuffed pepper recipe!)

yum!

Cabinet Stew

or as some might call it … Superbowl Sunday.

I call it Retirement Day because I am hoping a certain quarterback has enough sense to make this his last game. As a Patriots fan I think it’s better to get this guy his last ring and get him outta here.  So that is why today I root for the arch-enemy and not the new young talented star who probably actually deserves the win.

No matter what you call the day, it definitely involves food!

I suggest some nontraditional game day food of stuffed peppers. Filled with spicy Chorizo sausage, rice and tomato sauce – they are big on flavor and easy to make.

(Notice my subtle nod to team colors today.)

The Recipe

2 links ( about 1- 1 1/2 cups) chorizo sausage diced small (I use a fully cooked, locally made version, but you can use your favorite…

View original post 294 more words

“Lamb-y” Lamb

This is not a political statement, and maybe it’s all in my head, but I think American lamb is much less “lamb-y” then imported Australian/New Zealand lamb.

This can’t be a crazy concept since all naturally grown/cultivated things tend to pick up the influences of the local “terrior.” Maybe there is something about the Australian/New Zealand countryside that helps contribute to that strong “game” taste in the meat that I am not a fan of.

However with enough garlic and lemon any lamb is bound to taste great! Typically I cook my lamb with a heavy greek-style red sauce, with plenty of garlic and some cinnamon undertones. Recently I was inspired to lighten things up and keep it light with a flavorful marinade of lemon, garlic, rosemary and my-not-so- secret lamb seasoning blend.

I marinated a small (2lb) boneless leg portion of lamb overnight in this flavorful marinade. Patted it dry without scraping off too much of the seasoning and sprinkled it with fresh salt and pepper. After leaving it out for 30 mins or so to get the chill from the fridge off, it I roasted it at the usual 20 mins/lb in a preheated 400 degree oven. Use a thermometer and trust it. 145 degrees internal temperature is considered medium well* and if you pull it out and it’s reading 140 degrees – trust your self and keep it out, lightly covered with foil to finish while resting. It should continue and come up about another 10 degrees. DON”T put it back in the oven “for just a few extra minutes” like I am always tempted to do. And do.

The line between “medium-well” and overdone is a thin one. As is often the case and becuase I am such a worry-wort about the cooking temperature, I may have crossed over that line. Oops! The meat was still tasty and tender and my husband didn’t mind but I probably should have skipped those last few minutes in the oven and left well enough alone! ( or in this case left “medium” alone!)

well done lamb

I did serve it with spinach rice (“Spanakorizo”) and a simple, chunky red sauce made from canned tomatoes poured around the lamb in the beginning, mixing with the roasting juices in the pan.

 *Author’s Note:   I prefer my lamb medium to medium-well but if you like yours a little less done, 120-130 degrees internal temperature is where you want to be for “medium-rare.” However don’t go by me, as I am not official – go to the FDA website!

 

 

“Puffy” Quiche

What’s a girl to do when she wants to make a quiche and needs a crust?

Get out the flour and mixer and make a homemade pie crust? I think not. Since I use store bought pie crust for my quiche, the thought of actually making my own crust seemed like way too much work. #sorrynotsorry

But I did have some store-bought “puff pastry” on hand. So I googled this to be sure and of course I found out that I was not the first person to wonder if puff pastry could be used for quiche.

I think my concerns were about the bottom crust – would it be soggy? And since I never put a top crust on my quiche what would I do with the second pastry sheet from he package? I decided today my crust would have a top.

So I sautéed some onions, peppers and Italian sausage for the filling while I blind baked the bottom crust. I do this with my pie crust too. I simply “dock” the bottom with a fork and bake for about 10 mins to set the bottom crust and avoid a soggy bottom.

I added some “Somerdale” sweet red cheddar cheese chunks, a dash of dried Italian seasoning and the standard eggs/whole milk mix and poured the whole thing in. Next I laid the top square on. It’s a little messy where I had to repair the seams from unfolding it roughly and of course those specks are just some Italian seasoning. I figured I was being clever by scoring the dough into serving squares. (plus I was worried the whole thing would puff up into the roof of the oven if I didn’t!)

 

Standard Baking protocol – 40 mins at 400 degrees and voilà!

 

 

P.S. pronounced “best quiche ever” by the hubby!

Mystery Meat

I can not emphasis enough the virtues of labeling things when you put them in the freezer.

Not only for the obvious “eat/cook by date” but for the “what actually is this?”

Recently I pulled out some sort of hot-dog/sausage looking package out of my freezer and wished I had labeled it.

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I am sure at the time I was all like “oh I will throw this in and will defiantly remember it because it’s special.”

2 months later… (let’s be honest it could have been 2 weeks later) and I can’t remember what sort of local sourced, handcrafted, all natural, no nitrates “hot dog or sausage” thing this was!

So after defrosting I had to start with the basic question of “is this a raw product or fully cooked?”

Taking no chances, I sliced and cooked one to be sure. After tasting it I still had no clue.

Here is the information for analysis: firm texture, not very salty, mild flavor – possibly an all beef product. It was not as “pink” as it appears in the photo – probably due to lack of Nitrites*. Hubby doesn’t get along with Nitrites so I often avoid them in sausage products anyway. If anybody has any ideas out there, by all means I am taking suggestions as I would like to remember so I can maybe get them again – they were tasty!

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*Nitrates and nitrites are frequently added to processed meats like bacon, ham, sausages and hot dogs. They function as preservatives, helping to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. They also add a salty flavour and improve the appearance of the meat products by giving them a red or pink color.
Info Credit: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful

 

When In Nashville…

You that saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Well when in Nashville, do as the Nash-Villains do.” That is exactly what my husband and I did while spending a long weekend there over New Year’s eve. We only ate from the 3 primary food groups offered in Tennessee:

  1. Pork BBQ
  2. Hot fried chicken
  3. Biscuits (with sausage gravy or with country ham)

Let me break down the food groups for you:

  1. BBQ: Always pork – no beef – this is hog country. Ribs, pulled pork, and often a strange dish of “BBQ Nachos” offered at most places.  the Nachos consists of tortilla chips piled high with pulled pork, BBQ sauce, jalapeños & cheese. One side note: incase you needed to lighten things up a bit – BBQ chicken was offered at most place as well. Each place had it’s small unique touches too like “Kool-Aid pickles” or “pimento Mac-n-Cheese.” Our favorite of all the places was a joint called “peg leg Poker” and it didn’t disappoint! click here!
  2. Hot Fried Chicken: A unique Nashville style fried chicken preparation. Think fried chicken doused in a thin, spicy sauce coating. Served on white bread with a pickle or in sandwich. Totally different than “buffalo style”  – it is hard to explain. Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart. Even the “mild” (supposedly not hot) is totally spicy. Don’t go above “medium” unless you know what you are getting into! We waited 45mins in line at “Hattie B’s” for ours and it was worth every minute of the wait! click here!
  3. Biscuits: A staple at every meal. If I told you how many biscuits I ate each day I would have to kill you. Let’s just say it was an embarrassing amount! At breakfast you eat them with country sausage gravy  (white cream gravy with lots of black pepper and bits of sausage) or at supper time with slices of country ham. Country ham is hard to explain – it’s salty, (cured but not usually/always smoked) kinda dry, thickly sliced ham. Served on biscuits. meat on bread. nothing more. Some do enjoy some mustard or if you are feeling sweet some honey or sorghum or jam. Just plan on eat ing at least 2 or maybe 12. We saw them everywhere but here is the most famous and we thought very delicious. click here! (bonus points – they ship!)

 

P.S. If you go – be sure to get some boots!

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