Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Break time for Bonzo

I don't have a lot of responsibilites over the next couple of weeks, but I'm stepping aside all the same. No particular reason. By the time I get back I'll have a few fun things to share. In the meantime I wish you all a very happy holiday season. So many of you have enriched my life this last year with your stories, your food, your successes and failures (who hasn't had them?).
I will be reading your blogs; that I can't resist. I will be exploring a few possibilities. Among them are ... stand back ... making menudo at home (and maybe including tendon); a version of green papaya salad (using chayote squash); and a way to make chicken nuggets that is both health-conscious and unfussy, and which will cause the entire world to beat a path to my door.
I will also be working on my next book, "Back in the Day," which is about what I was given to eat in the 1950's. When I get back I will have a give-away of a short tome I wrote over recent weeks with 100 recipes (no more than 5 ingredients each) for soups. I'll spend some time re-editing and cleaning it up. I'll be prepared to send it (free) to anyone who wants it (in PDF format).
So with that, once again, have as much joy (liquid as necessary) as you can stand (or until you can no longer stand), and hug all your loved ones.

Fellow blogger,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cornish hen with attitude

I have quite a bit of trouble reading the type in many posts. It's age, not the problem of the lovely bloggers I follow. However, if you hold down the Control key and press the key with the "=" and "plus" signs the type will get larger. I usually go two to three times with this. You can do less (or more if you are even more ancient than I am). I work on a laptop, so I don't know how this would work on a full keyboard with a separate "plus" key. Let me know if you discover anything about that.
The original version of this was to stuff a hen with prosciutto and layer the top of it with fatback. It was one of the earliest dinners Peter and I prepared together somewhere around 30 years ago. We were subletting an apartment in northwest DC. The oven smoked even more than we did in those days. But, by golly, that hen was good. I'm making a slightly more responsible version of it this time around. Some lemon, celery and onion inside seemed like a good idea. Bacon over the top. A 400 oven for about 30 minutes did the trick. Of course it is essential to brine the hen for a few hours, rinse and dry it well; after which you DO NOT add any more salt. All the pepper or other spices you want is great. It must also be at room temperature. Am I giving TMI? Maybe, but better thorough than sorry. Given my recent fixation with mortadella and/or bologna, maybe I should have used that as a stuffing. You want the stuffing to be somewhat loose. About ½ cup of each of the 3 ingredients should be plenty. I was out of tarragon, but made a special trip to Safeway to get some. I really like tarragon. Remove the bacon after the first 20 minutes. Use it to make some parsleyed potatoes to go along with the bird. Then you just need a green vegetable and you're golden.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I cook Mexican at Leslie's

Leslie is a long-time friend, former employee, and our hostess for a month while Peter and I were looking for a place to live when we came back to DC last January. I prepared a Mexican dinner (fajitas) to which Peter contributed a big pan of flan for dessert. All in all it was a swell spread, originally intended for six people, though in the end just five. (More food for all of us.) Schlepping food (and my wok) to someone else's house takes some organizational skills (we were also schlepping the dog, oy). But I have those skills. List after list of what to do to be prepared, ingredient list, mise en place plan, etc. I almost got a little intimidated, but in the end, no way Jose. We had a great time. Everybody ate like they were both hungry and really liked the food. I cheated slightly by not making my own salsa, but a boy can only do so much. Got a jar of some good quality salsa and a bag of chips for dipping. That was our app. Here's the main course. This seems very busy, but it's not if you prepare, chop, etc. everything ahead of time.

Beef fajitas

1 ½ lb skirt sliced in thin strips across the grain
juice of 2 limes
1 Tbs Mexican dry oregano
2 Tbs finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper

2 large green bell peppers, cut into ¼ inch strips
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch strips
2 medium onions, cut into ½ inch half moons
3 large garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
shredded lettuce
refried beans
lime wedges
pickled jalapeno slices
2 or more flour tortillas per person, wrapped in foil (1 per person for pre-heating) and kept in the oven while the beef and veggies are cooking.
Marinate the beef for several hours. I used my wok to do the stir frying. First the beef, at room temp in a small amount of very hot oil. Toss with tongs for 2-3 minutes, remove and put into a dish in the oven at 250 degrees while you cook the vegetables.

Add a little more oil to the wok and toss in the veggies. Using the tongs keep them moving (over fairly high heat) until softened to your taste (5-8 minutes).

I placed lettuce, refritos and guacamole on each dinner plate and then let the guests assemble their own fajitas. Lime and jalapenos were in a separate bowl.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beef liver dumplings

I know right up front that this will not be to the liking of many of my followers. All I can say is I bring you the stuff I do. Don't do as I say and don't do as I do. Just give this a read with an open mind and let me know what horror stories it brings back about liver experiences. Maybe we'll do a book!! LOL

1 lb beef liver, cleaned of all naughty bits and cut into 2 inch pieces
½ cup milk
2 Tbs hot sauce
3 slices bread
cream or half and half
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the liver in the milk and hot sauce for a few hours. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Place in the food processor with the bread. Pulse and add cream or half and half, salt and pepper, and the egg to get a proper texture – not too wet, not too dry. Form a little patty and saute it for a couple of minutes so that you can taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Make a braising liquid by using chicken or beef broth and 2-3 Tbs tomato paste. Make enough liquid to come up about 2/3 of the way on the meatballs. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook very low and slow for 10-12 minutes until done all the way through. Serve over pasta or rice or Israeli couscous. Drizzle some of the tomato liquid over the top.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey terrific and kraut with attitude

I invited my sister-in-law to guest post today. She put such a startlingly good meal on the table this past Thursday that it seems it should be shared, if only to generate enthusiasm. The rest of this will be in her words. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that these two preparations came from "Joy of Cooking." Have a look, then look away until next November!!! LOL
Susan speaks:

For the turkey, I followed the Joy of Cooking recipe for Roasted Brined Turkey, although I didn’t brine it. I filled the cavity with one onion, one stalk celery, and one carrot, cut up, and eight sprigs of fresh thyme. Didn’t truss the turkey, because it was still on the cold side when it went in oven, and I wanted more surface to be exposed to heat. Turkey weighed 13.85 lbs. Placed turkey breast side down on v rack, brushed with melted butter and roasted in convection oven at 325 for 2 hours, then turned it breast side up and brushed with more butter. Put thermometer probe in thigh and roasted until internal temp reached 168, about 1 1/2 hours more, basting several times with pan juices. Then took it out and let it rest for about 20 min.
For the sauerkraut, I used Joy of Cooking’s recipe for Alsatian Sauerkraut:
Heat 2T butter, bacon fat, or veg oil in a large ovenproof skillet (I used butter).
Saute until translucent 1/2 cup sliced onions or shallots (I used onions).
Add and cook for about 5 min. 2 lbs. deli-case sauerkraut, drained.
Stir in one med. tart apple, peeled and grated (I used Granny Smith) and 1 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (I used one).
Cover with boiling beef or veg stock or water (I used Swanson beef broth) and 1/4 cup dry white wine (which I omitted).
Cook uncovered for 30 min.
Cover and bake in 325 degree oven for about 30 min.
If desired, season with 1 to 2 T. brown sugar (which I skipped).
I made this the day before, put it in a small Corning Ware casserole dish, and reheated it in the microwave for Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ooh la lasagna

I thought about lasagna all summer, but it's not really a warm weather dish. I've got news for you: this is lasagna weather here in DC. The “Super Committee” of our household (Peter and yours truly) determined that now was the time. I did not follow a recipe. If you know my cooking at all, you know I work by the seat of my pants (and it's hard to get that tomato sauce out of your jeans). Some folks like to use Italian sausage. I do too. But in this case I found a 1 lb package of 80/20 ground beef at Safeway on sale. An aside: I do not buy ground beef if I am making burgers; the ecoli problem is rare but real, and I like my burgers on the rare side. Here it comes.

Ooh la lasagna
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb ground beef (fat content is your choice)
1 medium onion chopped fairly fine
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
28 oz crushed tomatoes
15 oz tomato sauce
2 heaping Tbs tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 box no boil lasagna noodles
15 oz ricotta (I used whole milk)
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated parmesan

Large saute pan. Olive oil. Start browning the beef. Add onion and garlic. When beef is brown, add tomatoes and paste, seasonings.

Simmer sauce 30 minutes and then allow to cool. Layer in 13 by 9 inch casserole: sauce, noodles, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Repeat til everything has been included. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 50 minutes (we have a convection oven – regular oven might be 60 minutes). Remove foil. Add parmesan. Bake another 10 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beans and dogs

This could probably not be easier. I am not known for “few” ingredient cooking. But, lookee here, even an old dog can learn a trick or two. This batch made for several lunches for Peter and me. It's tasty, especially with some Louisiana hot sauce (or another brand if that's your druthers). You might notice I do not call for salt. Use some if you wish.
Beans and dogs
½ medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans beans, rinsed
1 cup chicken broth, or more to taste
5 hotdogs cut into ½ inch pieces
hot sauce to taste (optional)
Saute the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the beans, hotdogs and the broth and simmer uncovered until desired thickness is achieved (it can be wet without any problem). Add the hotdogs. Season with hot sauce (if using). Serve over rice or couscous or orzo.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The art of artichokes

My title implies that I'm offering a be-all-and-end-all recipe. It's not true. I just wanted a snappy phrase. I have made several versions of artichoke heart preparations. I do not use fresh artichokes. I cannot bear the thought of cleaning them up. Canned in oil are never an option. Canned in water are acceptable, but frozen are my choice. They are a good product. I made this in the hope of pleasing my sister-in-law and brother-in-law at Thanksgiving dinner. I've done several different versions of this and settled on something fairly new this time. This is my test version.

Braised artichoke hearts with lemon

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp butter

½ medium lemon, sliced thin

1 lb. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

pinch each of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes

2 Tbs chicken stock

Heat the oil and butter in a saute pan

Add the lemon slices and saute for 5-6 minutes until softened. Remove them to a bowl and set aside.

Add the artichokes and seasonings. Add the chicken stock. Let the broth simmer until it evaporates. Add a tiny bit more butter if it seems necessary. Saute the hearts until they begin to brown. Flip them over and get a little brown on the other side. Add the lemon back in and heat.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bell peppered chicken

Spatchcock a whole bird. Brine it for 3-4 hours. Rinse, dry, brown in butter and oil (skin side) for 8 minutes. Use pepper, ancho chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder, any or all of the above. Turn skin side up and season again. Layer wilted pieces of bell pepper (20 minutes in a 400 oven) over the top and bake at 350 for 1 hour or until juices run clear. You will not be sorry you did this.

Wish I had a better picture. It was quite beautiful with the red and green peppers on top.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Creamed smoked corn

Here is an invention. It came to me early in the morning. I had been thinking off and on about smoking in my wok for the last week or so. Let's face it, we're no longer in fresh corn season. Peter sticks his nose up at corn on the cob from the supermarket in the fall or winter. But I was determined that I could fool him into liking something if he didn't know how it was made.
The best off-season corn is frozen kernels. For this, however, I decided that frozen corn on the cob was the way to go. The frozen corn kernels by themselves are pretty wet.

Here's a quick primer on my wok-smoking technique. Line the wok with two layers of foil. Soak a handful of wood chips in water for 30 minutes. I use a bamboo steamer basket. You'll have to use whatever you can figure out. Get the wood chips smoking and put the ears of corn into the basket. Cover and smoke for 20 minutes.
Creamed smoked corn
4 ears frozen corn on the cob
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Let the corn thaw and then smoke it in the wok for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then slice the kernels from the cobs. Place in a sauce pan and add the cumin, salt and pepper, cream and butter. Heat on medium low stirring to blend the ingredients. Taste and determine both for seasoning and to be sure the corn is cooked through.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oh my gosh, CHICKEN LIVERS two ways - run for the hills

I am reorganizing this post to feature the chicken liver pate at the top. I want folks to see it because it is the finest version of this I have ever made.
Chicken liver pate
10 oz cooked (as below) chicken livers, chopped
1/4 cup half-and-half
generous pinch of red pepper flakes
2 generous Tbs mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Put all this into the food processor and puree. Serve on various vehicles such as crackers, toast, or freshly baked biscuits.

Above are two different views of these magical little bits of wonder. It's been quite a while since I've made them. Maybe as much as several years. There's no explaining it, especially because Peter and I love them so much. My technique is about as simple as anything could be. I've struggled lately with learning to simplify recipes – fewer ingredients, fewer steps involved, etc. In this case I am entirely successful. The container I bought contained 1 ¼ lb of livers, more than we would eat at one sitting. However, I cooked them all up and made pate out of the leftovers. I am such a star!
Chicken livers in flour and paprika
12 oz chicken livers
salt and pepper to taste
flour for dredging
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
Take a pair of kitchen shears and trim the funky bits from the livers. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Dredge them in equal amounts of flour and paprika. Shaking them up in a paper bag works well.

Heat the oil and butter until very hot (the butter should be ready to start turning brown). Drop in the livers. 2 minutes later flip them over for another 2 minutes. You are done.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken and biscuits

Here's something I thought about off and on for quite some time. It's not a summer recipe, so I had to table it until nice fall weather came along. Well, it's here.
Chicken and biscuits
1 package refrigerated biscuits
12 oz. cooked chicken in bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Celery salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs half-and-half
1 cup frozen edamame
1 cup frozen small whole onions

Bake the biscuits according to their directions.
Whisk the flour into some water to avoid lumps. Heat broth to a simmer. Add onions and edamame and simmer 5 minutes. Add celery salt and pepper. Add flour slurry. Add butter. Add chicken and heat through. Serve over the biscuits in heated bowls.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Second Son of Slaw

This is a warm concoction. It nudged my consciousness this morning at about 9:30 am (EDT). By the way, do you hate having to get up in pitch dark as much as I do? I can hardly wait for the time to change this weekend. Here's a pretty simple recipe. We've been buying cabbages because we like cabbage and it is relatively cheap. I learned from Rachael Ray the melt anchovy in your cooking oil technique. It really works. I will resist saying, “Yummo.” Uh-oh, I guess I just failed that test. The quantities of ingredients I used are very modest. Frankly I think you could double them if you like lots of flavor. When I do this again, that is what I will do.

The Second Son of Slaw
3 Tbs olive oil
2 anchovies
¼ head of cabbage, sliced very thin
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ tsp ground caraway seeds
Heat the oil. Melt the anchovies into the oil.
Add the cabbage and toss to coat. Continue tossing for about 3 minutes.
Add broth, vinegar, mustard, pepper flakes and caraway. Cook uncovered until the cabbage is tender but al dente, maybe 6 minutes, maybe 8 minutes? Pull it off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. You can combine this with anything for which you would use sauerkraut or more traditional coleslaw.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stirred egg sandwiches with bacon and gorgonzola

Mary, of insideabritishmumskitchen, has written a very lovely review of my book. As of today it's still on her site. It makes me blush.

Jenn, of jennsfoodjourney, has concluded her giveaway of my book. It's going to a swell young man in Great Britain, Michael of Me, My Food and I. Jenn and I are happy for him. I am grateful to her for her support and her special efforts on my behalf. Let's hear it for Jenn.

I got to make lunch yesterday. It's been quite a while. Peter has enjoyed doing lunch. Even yesterday he helped by chopping bacon and sauteing it. Trader Joe's sells bacon “ends” in a 1 lb. package at a really good price. It is useful for anything that you don't feel requires whole strips. These sandwiches certainly didn't. Please note I don't call this scrambled eggs. Here's why:
I have my own way of scrambling eggs. It's not complicated. I simply don't really beat them up before cooking. I put them in a bowl, bust up the yolks and give them a bit of a stir. I enjoy the final product showing both egg white and yolk in the mix. I really enjoy that texture.
Peter likes to toast our bread. I prefer my bread with a little crispness, but not too crunchy. I said to him yesterday morning, “Do you think three eggs is enough for two sandwiches?” He answered that we only had three eggs so it would have to be enough. It was.

Stirred egg sandwiches¼ cup chopped bacon, cooked and set aside
3 large eggs, cracked into a bowl
1 Tbs cream of half and half
1 Tbs butter
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bread or 2 hotdog rolls, toasted for 3 minutes at 400 degrees while the eggs cook
2-3 Tbs crumbled gorgonzola (or other bleu cheese)
hot sauce (optional)
Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet. Add the cream to the eggs. Use a fork to break the egg yolks, then stir a bit, but do not mix completely together. Put the eggs into the pan and add a pinch of salt and pepper (remember, both the cheese and bacon are salty). Keep the heat no higher than medium. Immediately use your fork to stir the eggs around very gently. Here's where you have to make a judgment. Depending on how wet you like your eggs you must decide when to put in the cheese and the bacon. When the eggs are there add both of those things and give the eggs a final toss with your fork and remove the pan from the heat. It it's too wet for you, just let it sit for a minute. It will continue cooking. Load up your bread or rolls with the mix and add a dash or two of hot sauce and prepare to be enchanted.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

smoked jalapeno poppers

I am blessed with blogger friends who are as excited about food as I am. Mary of Inside a British Mum's Kitchen has favored me with a review of my book. You can click on that link to read it. I have no way to express my gratitude for the kind things said about the book (and a few recognized flaws) except to say a heartfelt thankyou.

I think I did a jalapeno popper recipe once before. But this is the new, refined, improved, amazing version. This is a borrowed photo. I made a smaller amount, in part because I was experimenting with smoke versus oven time and amounts for stuffing. I do this a little differently from your average bear. Smoking in my wok is a "hot" method, so I don't stuff them at first. Also, I had to write down the amount of stuffing ingredients after the fact as I had to make it up as I went along. Nonetheless, this was fun - and tasty - and spicy. Smoking them with the seeds still inside infuses the flesh with heat.
Smoked jalapeno poppers
8 large jalapenos
1 handful soaked wood chips
1/2 cup grated cheese, 1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped, 1/3 cup thawed frozen corn kernels. Set up the wok smoker (or other device you may have). Get the chips going to the smoke stage. While that cranks up, make a slit near the stem of each of the jalapenos. Smoke them for 12 minutes. Remove from the wok and allow to cool. Slice carefully down the side of each pepper and gently scrape out the seeds. While the peppers are smoking, mix together the cheese, scallions and corn. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the stuffing mixture into the peppers. Be generous, but not so much that you can't pull them back together. Gently poke the skewers through them in a fashion where they can rest on a wire rack over a baking sheet with the cut side up. Bake for 15 minutes. You'll want to let them rest for a few minutes or you will get what we called pizza mouth back in college.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Carnal chili (Oops, I mean chili con carne)

My good blogger friend, Jenn, http://jennsfoodjourney.blogspot.com/ not only bought the very first copy of my book, she has reviewed and is doing a give-away of one copy. Go visit her.

I know it's cheeky of me to continue imposing my book on you. But, it's a really good book that you can read without ever having to make any of the recipes. To acquire it go to Amazon and search for my name, Stephen Crout. You will make me so grateful. I intend to keep it featured on my blog indefinitely. Ignore it - or buy it.

Chili is a very basic thing. I decided to make it several days ago when I bought some beef that seemed to suggest it was "steak". Well, it's stew meat. What do you need for chili? Some would say no beans. I say screw them.
Chili con carne

1.75 lbs beef or pork, in 1/2 inch pieces, 1/2 large onion, finely chopped, 3 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 large bell pepper (any color) diced, 1 jalapeno, half seeded, half not, 28 oz chopped tomatoes with their juice, 15 oz can beans (your favorite, with their liquid),salt and pepper to taste, cumin to taste,chili powder to taste, coriander to taste
Saute the first five items until the beef is cooked through. Add everything else and simmer for a couple of hours uncovered. If you feel it needs some more liquid near the end, add beef broth or chicken broth. Taste it, taste it, taste it.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Don't forget that your friend Stephen has this fascinating and entertaining book avail via Amazon (search for my name, Stephen Crout).

Okay, colcannon is apparently a Gaelic word meaning white-headed cabbage. Peter and I have made many variations of this over the years. Traditionally it is mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale. Our most recent version (last night) was made with collards and mashed potatoes. That's all the recipe you need. Make your favorite mashed potatoes, cook some greens, put them together. You are done.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Have you ever made this?

Don't forget, my friends, that your friend Stephen has this fascinating book out there. Go to http://www.createspace.com/3695950 for more details.

Baked potato and collard greens.

These are ancillary to large proteins, but they go with nearly everything. To bake a potato (or two), preheat the oven to 400. Clean the potato with a brush and wipe it dry with a paper towel. Prick both sides 3 times. Stick it in the oven for 1 hour (maybe plus 10 minutes if you have a particularly large Idaho).

Remove all the stems from the collards and cut it into strips. Heat up some water with salt, sugar, garlic and red pepper. You have to judge how much you need according to how much greens you have. I know you can do this. Stick the greens into the hot water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and go away for one hour. Check it out.

A lot of recipes call for some fatback, ham or bacon. In this case I decided to leave those things out. No reason.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's booking time

I have my first cookbook ready to be published. I plan to concentrate on that for the next week or so. It is a cookbook which is perhaps unlike any other you have ever read. It's full of my mouthiness (which I like to think of as wit). It's title is "A Cook's Cookbook for Cooks." I will be shamelessly hyping it once it is available (via Amazon and/or Kindle). The theme of the book is exactly what I have been advocating in recent years: don't be a slave to anything in the kitchen. Use what you have and make what you want. It's no big deal. Keep your eyes on my blog - my magnum opus is coming soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Posole for the common man

This turned out very well. I have posted posole before, but without attracting much attention. Also, since the recipe is very fluid, this falls into the category of "do what you have to do with what you have." I did get to the Hispanic market yesterday morning where I used to shop in the 90's during our first sojourn in DC. It's a little limited, although they seem to have a magnificent meat department - not large but well-stocked. This is a bare-bones posole. No chorizo, I'm using up some pork loin chops I have. I used only 1 can of hominy, no really hot peppers, some pasilla peppers (4, with seeds removed) (brings flavor and color but not much by way of heat), and a judicious mix of water and chicken broth. I seasoned as I went along and was pleased with the result. Tasty, mild, with just hints of a real Mexican broth (but then I'm not a real Mexican). If you want a soup/stew that's off the beaten track, get yourself some chorizo, some canned hominy, some dried peppers, and perhaps some Mexican oregano from the south of the border section at the market. Those are the things that bring Mexican to the party. Or just invite a Mexican. Anything else you do is just a bonus. By the way, the pasilla peppers (dried to start out with), when soaked and pureed, bring the color and essential flavor to this dish.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The world's strangest beef stew

How unattractive could my pictures be? See above. Above you see some generic beef stew on and some generic kim chi. Hold that thought. I found myself on the horns of dilemma. I had 2 1/2 pounds of beef chuck that was really only good for a stew. Also, I had started a batch of kim chi last week that I was very disappointed with. I threw it together very hastily and the result was way to salty and way to spicy (due to cayenne and red pepper flakes I threw in with abandon). Today being a gym day for us, I decided I would get this beef into the oven at about 2 pm and let it roast slowly for maybe 3 hours. Not having anything else to go with it, I piled the adolescent kim chi on it and added 2 cups of chicken stock. 300 degree oven for as long as it took (3 hours) yielded an unusual flavored stroganoff. We didn't eat it on Sunday (the day I made it) as we were off to dinner with friends at their home. But on Monday came the great test of Stevie's bizarre creativity. Would it be edible? Would we have to get a divorce?

This may well be the oddest thing I have ever put on our dinner table. It had its positive qualities buy was excessively salty (that was the kim chi). There's more and I will dilute it with something. Actually the beef chunks themselves are tender and tasty. It the rest of it that tastes like the Bermuda Triangle.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken livers with paprika and sneezes

The sneezes are from the fact that I woke up this morning with a full-blown cold, the first I have had in several years. What must it have been like eons ago when there were no Kleenex? This is certainly not a recipe for everyone out there. But I grew up eating inexpensive chicken livers in addition to beef liver (we were a family of seven with a fairly limited income). I don't prepare it very often, for reasons I don't exactly know. I guess part of it is that we shouldn't be eating organ meats every day of our lives.

1 lb chicken livers, thawed if frozen
salt and pepper
flour for dredge
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil

The livers are usually two lobes. Take a pair of kitchen shears and clean out the material where the lobes are connected. Season livers well with salt and pepper and coat them generously with paprika. Heat the butter and olive oil until the butter's foam has subsided. Dredge the livers with flour and saute them until medium rare – in other words, they should still be a bit pink in the middle. Serve immediately. An alternative method is to dredge them the same way and then cook them in some bacon fat. You certainly could saute a bunch of onion to accompany them as well. Excuse me, I have to sneeze.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Voici l'omelette

I'm not trying to be pretentious here, the title means "here is the omelet." It's been a while since I've made an omelet. We've made dozen of frittatas, using up bits and pieces of leftovers. Peter has become the first man of frittatas. I've been thinking about making a simple straight-forward omelet for a while. The one I came up with is with mushrooms and cheese. With the addition of a bit of salt and pepper that's all that's in there. For a substantial one-dish lunch I use 5 eggs, beaten lightly with some half and half or milk. The cooking vehicle is our single non-stick skillet lubricated with a bit of olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted I add the eggs and leave them alone for 2-3 minutes. Then I start lifting the edges with a spatula to let the liquid on top run underneath. Oh, I should mention, it's a good idea to keep the heat at no more than medium low. When you think it's close to the point where you want to fold it, add some sauteed mushrooms and some grated cheese. The type of either is entirely according to your taste. If you think you can manage it, fold it into thirds. Otherwise once in half is fine. I like to leave the center slightly wet, but that's up to you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Don't let your meatloaf

I bought a package of breakfast sausages at Safeway yesterday and thought and thought about what to do with them. We don't eat breakfast. Then the meatloaf idea hit me. I chose to keep this very simple: sausage, panade (bread and milk), onion and egg. Into a 350 oven until you achieve 175 degrees. Top it with some catsup near the end if you wish. Serve with some hot sauce if that is what floats your boat. I added no additional seasonings since the sausage itself is quite well-seasoned. The photo of the sausage above shows it cooked. What I put into the meatloaf was not cooked.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Slaw that will slay you

Few things are easier to put together than a good slaw. You need to make only a few decisions. Onion? Garlic? Salt and pepper? Grated carrot? I used 1/2 head of savoy cabbage, some mayo, some onion, some garlic, salt and pepper, onion and garlic powders. Add some Dijon mustard if you like. I chop my cabbage with a shredding blade in our food processor. In any case, this is a tasty and nutritious thing. Go for it. Use any cabbage you like. It does not matter.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Classic roast chicken

Nothing fancy here. Just a nicely roasted bird with minimal seasonings. Yours truly didn't even brine this thing. What, you say? I didn't plan my day well and realized too late I had run out of time to brine. I seasoned it liberally (under skin and inside cavity) with a mix of salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders. Then it was merely a matter of how long to roast at 350. It was, after all a 5 lb roaster bird. This is where my electronic thermometer comes in. After 1 1/2 hrs. the chicken was at a perfect 165 degrees. 10 minutes rest and then we had a wonderful dinner, extended by some homemade cole slaw and an ear of corn apiece. I had a truly happy tummy. And there was a lot of chicken leftover.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gravlax with beet carpaccio

I have to credit Ina Garten of the Food Network for the basic recipe below for one of nature’s miracles, gravlax. I learned the technique by watching her do it a few years ago. I am republishing an ancient post here for two reasons. This was one of my earliest, way before anyone ever posted a comment on my blog. Also, these two items, in combination, are heavenly.
What does gravlax taste like. Somewhat like smoked salmon, although it is not smoked. The way I make it it tastes less salty than smoked salmon. If you use really fresh salmon there will be no fishy taste.
As for the beets, I realize not everyone likes them. I would be perfectly happy to serve the salmon on very thin blanched slices of potato. Suit yourself.


1 pound fresh salmon, center cut

1 large bunch of dill, plus 1/4 cup chopped dill for serving

1/8 cup kosher salt

1/8 cup sugar

1 tablespoon white or black peppercorns, crushed

1 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds

splash of sake or other spirit

Cut the salmon in half crosswise and place half the fish skin side down in a deep dish. Wash and shake dry the dill and place it on the fish. Combine the salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the piece of fish. Place the other half of salmon over the dill, skin side up. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.Place a smaller pan on top of the foil and weight it with some heavy cans. Refrigerate the salmon for at least 2 and up to 3 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting it with the liquid that collects.Lay each piece of salmon flat on a cutting board, remove the bunch of dill, and sprinkle the top with chopped dill. With a long thin slicing knife, slice the salmon in long thin slices as you would for smoked salmon. Make sure your knife is very, very sharp.Serve on pumpernickel bread or toast. You can also top it with a fried egg that has been allowed to come to room temperature. Or try the beet carpaccio below.

Beet carpaccio

1 large beet, steamed, cooled and peeled

Slice the beet very thin on a mandoline.

Arrange the slices on 2 plates.

Drizzle with the sauce below, top with gravlax slices and another drizzle of sauce.

Garnish with some fresh dill if you have it.

Dressing for beets and gravlax

Olive oil

Chinese black vinegar

Sherry vinegar


White pepper

Lemon juice

If you do not have black vinegar add a bit more sherry vinegar. Be careful not to let vinegar totally highjack the sauce. Whisk the ingredients together and taste. It may take a few minutes of adding small amounts of whatever you think necessary. Remember the rule of thumb: you should be able to detect the presence of every ingredient, however, slightly.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Little lamb, little innocent lamb burgers

When I came home with two nicely priced lamb loin chops the other day I knew they were too fatty to cook whole. So ground up the trimmed meat in the food processor. I decided to add add some brandade (bread and milk). Mixed in some chopped fresh rosemary, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper and made it into two burger patties. Then a quick saute and voila!

There is certainly no reason for me to go on and on about corn on the cob. We do it very simply: steamed for 10 minutes and then coated with a bit of butter and salt (I tried pepper on mine and liked it a lot).
I posted Saturday night's supper and made an error. I wrote the post before actually cooking the meal. Both Peter and I thought we had chard in the fridge. Instead it was beet greens. Lovely things aren't they?

Peter was put in charge of making yogurt sauce, to which he added some garlic, some salt and pepper and I think that was all.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday supper at home

After spending more than a week not eating much of anything (I survived on Ensure and ice water), I'm finally back on my feed. I'm posting this homely and homey supper just because it feels so good to have an appetite again.

I found a ham slice on sale at Safeway and we had bought a couple of baking potatoes the other day.

The chard came from the farmers market. The prep for the whole meal was extremely easy - hardly any labor involved.

With my insides still a tad delicate, all I did with the ham was to trim fat from it, bring a skillet full of water to a boil, drop in the ham, cover it and turn off the heat. After 10 minutes it was nice and warm and a lot of the sodium had been leached out.

We've learned a simple and absolutely dependable way to bake potatoes. First of all, we buy the biggest russetts we can find. They each weigh nearly a pound. So we cook just one and it's enough for the two of us. 1 hour and 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven does the trick. Oh, don't forget to stick a fork into the potato a few times on each side so that it doesn't explode. You can dress it with butter, salt, pepper, sour cream, chives or scallion. Many, many possibilities. I had mine with a small pat of butter and a little salt and pepper.

We use an easy braise for all kinds of greens. Baby spinach takes maybe 3 minutes and kale more like 10. Chard falls in the middle - 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the thick parts of the stems and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Rinse the greens and chop them roughly. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 Tbs butter in your largest saute pan. Saute a little garlic if you wish and then add the chopped stems. You can reserve them for another purpose or simply include them. They need about 3 minutes before you add the greens. When the greens have wilted, salt and pepper them a little and put a lid on the pan. Let them cook for maybe 5 minutes until tender to your taste.

All in all a meal with some definite medicinal value.

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