Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Perfect Burger on the Perfect Bun with the almost Perfect Fries

This week, I have been all about making at home what I normally buy at the grocery store. I made the perfect burger, which Gerry grilled perfectly on the charcoal grill, served on the perfect bun, which I made and baked this afternoon.

I started with the light brioche burger buns which I found a recipe for on Annie's Eats and they sounded fabulous. I then made her recipe for The Perfect Burger and the two recipes combined, do make the Perfect Burger.

I have been thinking about making French Fries at home as well, so what goes better with the Perfect Burger than French Fries? After doing some research online, I decided to try the classic double-fry method and while these were perfect right out of the oil, they did turn soft and soggy within a couple of minutes. My search for the perfect fry will continue.

From Annie's Eats - the Perfect Burger Bun

3 tablespoons warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
21/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For topping:
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Sesame Seeds

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg. Mix briefly to combine. Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the butter. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes. The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.

Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

The Perfect Hamburger
1 lb. ground round
2 Tbs. finely chopped yellow onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 or 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
4 slices cheddar or Swiss cheese (optional)
4 hamburger buns, split

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, yellow onion, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each 3⁄4 inch thick.

Grill the hamburgers directly over medium-high heat, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Check for doneness by cutting into a hamburger near the center or testing with an instant-read thermometer. No pink should show on the inside, and the internal temperature should register at least 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. If making cheeseburgers, place a slice of cheese on top of each hamburger during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

During the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking, toast the hamburger buns, cut side down, on the grill. Serve the hamburgers on the buns with tomato, white onion, lettuce, dill pickle and condiments. Serves 4.

The almost Perfect Fries

I sliced two russet potatoes into 1/4 x 1/4-inch batons (picture McDonald's size fries). I rinsed the potatoes in cold water until the water ran clear. I then put the potatoes in a bowl and covered them with cold water by an inch. I added a layer of ice and put the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour and a half. I then heated some vegetable oil in a deep pot until heated to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, I drained the potatoes and dried them in a kitchen towel until completely dry. I added the fries a handful at a time into oil that was heated to 325 degrees and fried them just until they started to change colors, about 3 minutes. The fries were removed from the oil with a Chinese skimmer and placed on a rack over a baking sheet to drain.

All the fries were pre-cooked in this method. The oil was then heated to 375 degrees and the pre-cooked fries were added back in to the hot oil a handful at a time again, and allowed to cook for another minute or two until golden brown. The fries were removed to a paper towel lined plate and seasoned with salt while still hot. This procedure did produce perfectly crisp French fries, but they did turn soggy by the time we ate them. I will have to continue my research on this one.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

We turned to an old favorite tonight - Greek Style Stuffed Peppers which is a recipe from Ellie Krieger that I have modified. The recipe calls for red peppers, but I used green peppers this week since they were on sale and it worked out just fine. Not only is this recipe good but it is healthy.

Stuffed Green Peppers

1 package of ground turkey breast
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 green bell peppers, halved lengthwise, cores and ribs removed
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium stewed tomatoes
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, spinach, zucchini, onion, oatmeal, egg, oregano, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Arrange the pepper halves cut side up in a 9 by 13 baking dish and fill each pepper half with the meat mixture. Pour the tomatoes over the peppers and sprinkle with the feta cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the meat mixture is completely cooked and the peppers are tender, about 30 minutes longer.

Gerry and I consistently find this recipe

Monday, August 29, 2011

Veggie Tacos and Spanish Rice

Veggie tacos for a Meatless Monday sounded perfect, however with my focus lately on why should I buy what I can make at home, I had to take the challenge of making my own flour tortillas. I found a link on a blog called Pennies on a Platter that sounded easy enough to make; no special ingredients or tortilla press required and so I gave it a shot.

In the bowl of my food processor, I put 3 cups of flour along with two teaspoons baking powder and a heaping teaspoon of salt. I pulsed the dry ingredients a few times to combine and then I added 5 tablespoons of shortening (cut into cubes) and pulsed until the mixture was crumbly. With the machine running I slowly added in almost a full cup of warm water until the dough held together into a ball. I kneaded the dough by running the processor for another 30 seconds. I turned the dough out onto my floured countertop and divided it into twelve equal portions and rolled each one into a golf-ball-sized ball. I covered them all with a clean kitchen towel and let them rest for 10 minutes. With my rolling pin, I rolled one of the dough balls into an 8-inch circle and put it in my heated cast iron skillet for about 15-20 seconds before flipping it over for another 15-20 seconds on the other side. As each tortilla was cooked, I put them on a plate covered with a kitchen towel to keep them warm. I was absolutely amazed at how easy it was to make flour tortillas. I'm sure I'll be tempted by other recipes on Pennies on a Platter.

Here is my first platter of homemade tortillas.

I used these homemade tortillas to make tacos. I sauteed a sliced onion, two sliced green peppers and a handful of sliced mushrooms, simply seasoned with salt and pepper. The sauteed vegetables went into the tortillas, topped with Monterey Jack cheese and a spoonful of homemade quacamole.

The guacamole was simply mashed avocado with minced garlic, lime juice and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Our side dish was Spanish Rice which was simple white rice in water to which I added some tomato sauce, ground cumin, garlic powder and salt and pepper and cooked in the usual way.

My first Sourdough Bread

I had a slice of freshly baked sourdough bread for breakfast this morning with much satisfaction. I started the process by making the sourdough starter Thursday and by Sunday, it was ready to be used. On Sunday afternoon, I dissolved 4 teaspoons of yeast in 1 1/2 cups of warm water along with a tablespoon of honey and 1 cup of my starter and whisked it all together. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for an hour until it was increased in bulk and bubbly. I then stirred in 3 cups of bread flour, 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter and two eggs until smooth. I continued to mix on medium-low speed on my mixer for another minute. Two more cups of flour were added and beat for another two minutes. I switched to the dough hook for my mixer and gradually beat in another 1/4 cup of flour. The dough was kneaded with the mixer on low speed for 6 minutes. The dough was then turned out into a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap and allowed to double in volume for about 1 1/2 hours.

I punched the dough down, formed it into two balls and shaped them into somewhat oval loaves which I put on a baking sheet, lined with my Silpat mat and sprinkled with a combination of flour and cornmeal. I loosely covered the entire pan with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

This morning all I had to do was heat my oven to 450 degrees with my pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven. I made three slashes in each loaf and the sheet pan went in on top of the pizza stone for 10 minutes. The oven temp was reduced to 400 degrees and baked for another 25 minutes.

This bread is delicious although not very sour just yet. My starter should continue to sour with time which will yield even better bread!

What a yummy way to start the day!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Restaurant Recreation

When we went to Port Aransas for vacation recently, I blogged about the best tuna I ever had which was at the Pelican Landing Restaurant. I tried to recreate that meal at home tonight while it was still relatively fresh in my mind.

My recreation was close but not close enough. I started by making a Balsamic Glaze by combining a cup of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce in a small saucepan. I brought it to a boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer for about 25-30 minutes (even though the recipe said 20 minutes). The glaze seemed to be the perfect consistency - just syrupy. What I didn't realize was how much this glaze would thicken as it cooled. I ended up adding a little hot water to the glaze just before plating to try to get it to the right consistency. The first time I made a balsamic reduction, I completely burned it; to the point of throwing it out and starting again. The second time, I quit just shy of it being syrupy and it really didn't thicken up more like I wanted it to. After today's trial I think I have figured out exactly what it needs to look like when I turn the heat off. We'll see. Apparently the 4th time will be the charm. Who knew a balsamic glaze would be so difficult?

I cooked two slices of bacon over low heat in my cast iron skillet until they were nice and crisp which left a nice layer of bacon fat in my skillet. I seasoned two tuna steaks with salt and pepper and sprinkled them with sesame seeds. I seared the tuna steaks on the first side for two minutes before flipping them and cooking for another two minutes. I then popped the entire skillet in a 450 degree oven for another two minutes which seemed okay to me - 6 minutes total cooking time. The tuna came out way overcooked. Next time I will try two minutes on the first side, flip them and pop them in the hot oven for another 2 minutes. We'll see. I think the tuna steaks needed to be seasoned with perhaps some sesame oil and soy sauce before being seasoned and seared. Again, we'll see.

I made mashed potatoes and green beans as our side dishes and the tuna steaks were served over the balsamic glaze along with the crispy bacon slice.

I have not given up on this recreation, but it is a work in progress.

Corn Fritters for Sunday Lunch

I saw a recent post on Annie's Eats where she made these fritters and since corn is plentiful and on sale right now, it sounded like the perfect lunch.

I shucked 3 ears of corn and cut the kernels off. Two cups of the kernels went in the food processor until pureed but still a little chunky. The pureed corn went back into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels. I added some flour, cornmeal, a little diced red onion, a little sliced basil, baking powder, baking soda, and salt & pepper. This was all combined before adding a couple of eggs, a little buttermilk, and some melted butter and then stirred again just to combine everything.

I then made the tomato avocado salsa by chopping a fresh tomato and adding minced scallion, fresh basil, minced garlic, fresh lime juice, olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt & pepper. Just before serving, I added some fresh avocado cubes.

I dropped the corn fritter mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls into a skillet with some hot vegetable oil and cooked them a couple of minutes each side until golden brown.

I served three of these on a bed of chopped romaine, topped with the salsa and drizzled with Ranch dressing.

These fritters are light and full of corn flavor. It made a ton and now we are faced with the prospect of having to eat leftovers (yippee).

I love Annie's Eats blog.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Night Pizza

Tonight I made pizza; I made the crust from scratch, the sauce from scratch; and contemplated making the mozzarella from scratch (I couldn't find the expiration date on my rennet for making the cheese and so decided against it).

Val hooked me up to a wonderful blog called Annie's Eats which is where I got the recipe for the crust and the sauce.

I started with the crust by sprinkling instant yeast over warm water in a measuring cup. I then combined bread flour and salt in my mixer bowl. I added some room temperature water into the cup with the dissolved yeast. I streamed the yeast mixture gradually into the flour mixture until combined along with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Once everything was combined into a cohesive mixture, I added the dough hook and kneaded the dough for about 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough went into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled. Annie's recipe says it should take 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Mine took 2 hours and 45 minutes to actually double. I punched it down, divided it in half and froze half. The other half was covered with a damp kitchen towel and allowed to rest for 15 minutes.

While the dough was rising, I made the pizza sauce by combining a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3 crushed cloves of garlic. I brought it all to a boil in a saucepan and then reduced to a simmer and allowed it all to cook for 15 minutes. Once done, I cooled it just slightly and then pureed it with my immersion blender until I liked the consistency.

Meanwhile I caramelized some sliced onions, sauteed some mushrooms, and oven roasted some grape tomatoes.

After the dough had rested for 15 minutes, I patted it out into a circle on a cornmeal sprinkled piece of parchment paper forming a crust around the edge. I drizzled the edge of the crust with olive oil and then spread some of the pizza sauce on the bottom of the crust. I added the caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, sliced black olives, shredded mozzarella and a little grated Parmesan.

The crust was superb; but the sauce was a little spicy for us. The next time I make this, I will add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper instead of 2 teaspoons. All in all, it was the best pizza I have made so far.

Gerry and I agree:

Easiest Summertime Dinner Ever

I was craving spareribs coated in barbecue sauce and so that is what we had for dinner. Over the years, I have tried many methods of cooking barbecued spareribs. I have par-boiled them and then put them on a hot grill with barbecue sauce. Sometimes this worked sometimes, they burned. I have tried rubbing and grilling which also yielded imperfect results.

My favorite way to prepare them for the past few years is take a slab of spareribs cut them into manageable chunks. Put the ribs in a roasting pan, meat side up and put in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Coat them with barbecue sauce of choice frequently (I do every 10-15 minutes) for another 45 minutes. They come out moist and very saucy which is just the way I like them.

We had corn on the cob which I soaked the ears in water for an hour and then Gerry grilled them for 20 minutes. Yum!

We also had coleslaw which poses a dilemma for two people. I like to make as much as I can from scratch; but by the time I buy two different kinds of cabbage (only to use about 1/8 of each), I have come to the conclusion it's less expensive to buy the prepackaged bags.

So there you have the easiest dinner ever.

I did make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies to end our meal with since I had so much time on my hands.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Bread

Every once in a while I feel the need to bake bread. There is just something so earthy about the process; proofing the yeast, watching the rise of the dough and finally the yeasty smell of bread baking in the oven.

I decided to make a basic white bread today. My recipe makes two loaves; so I made one traditional and a cinnamon bread with the other.

I started by warming 1/2 cup of skim milk with 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan until the butter was melted and the sugar dissolved. I set this mixture aside to cool to lukewarm.

I then dissolved two packets of yeast in 1 1/2 cups of warm water in the warmed bowl of my stand mixer. Once the yeast was dissolved, I added the lukewarm milk mixture and 4 1/2 cups of flour. I attached the dough hook to the mixer and mixed at low speed for two minutes. I continued mixing 1/2 cup of flour at a time on low speed until a total of 6 cups of flour had been added. The dough got mixed for two more minutes to knead it until it was smooth and elastic.

The dough then went into a greased bowl, covered with a kitchen towel and set aside to double in volume which took 50 minutes. I punched it down, cut it in half and rolled one half into a 9 x 14" rectangle. I rolled it up from the short end, tucking in the sides when done. It went in to a greased loaf pan, seam side down and covered again with the towel and allowed to rise for another 50 minutes.

I did the same process with the other half of the dough, however, when I had it rolled out, I spread it with some butter and sprinkled it with a combination of 1/4 cup of sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of sugar. I proceeded to roll it and put it in another pan.

After 50 minutes of rising time, the basic white bread went into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes and the Cinnamon bread went into a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. As soon as they came out of the oven, the breads were removed to a wire rack to cool.

I love the whole process of making bread from scratch, the scent of baking bread always brings me back to my childhood memories of spending time in Canada with my aunt who made fresh bread every few days in a wood burning stove. It's amazing how smells evoke instant memories.

Thanks to Val, I found a recipe on a website which she just loves for a sourdough bread starter. I made the starter this afternoon which has to sit for 2-5 days before I can use it. Sourdough bread is without a doubt my favorite bread in the world. I can't wait to experiment with how it comes out and I'll be sure to blog about it when the time comes.

Since I had the leftover Eggs Benedict for lunch today, I wasn't that hungry for dinner. With the loaf of fresh bread sitting there, I decided to make a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich for dinner which was absolutely delicious. I have been thinking about having a slice of the cinnamon bread toasted with butter in a little while.

A very satisfying day in the kitchen!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

I love breakfast foods, but Monday through Friday I tend to eat light for breakfast before my workout. Gerry, on the other hand, does not enjoy breakfast for dinner, so I took advantage of him not being here and made Eggs Benedict for dinner. This is my absolute favorite breakfast meal ever.

I started with the Hollandaise sauce, by whisking 3 egg yolks in a bowl with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and then placed the bowl over a pot of just barely simmering water. I whisked in half a stick of butter until melted. Meanwhile, I toasted an English muffin which I buttered and put on a baking sheet to stay warm in the oven. I browned a couple of slices of Canadian bacon and put those on top of the English muffin halves in the oven. I also brought a pan of water to the simmering point and added a tablespoon of white vinegar in which I poached two eggs for exactly 4 minutes.

I continued to whisk in butter, a tablespoon at a time, into the Hollandaise sauce letting each tablespoon completely melt before adding the next.

I realize this is a truly decadent meal, with the eggs and all the butter, but it is absolutely delicious. That is why I only make this a couple of times a year.

Yellow Rice and Black Beans

This week's Meatless Monday feature was rice and beans. I started with a pound of dried black beans which I covered with water in a big pot on Sunday night and left them to soak overnight.

Monday, I drained the beans, wiped out the pot and then sauteed a chopped onion, jalapeno, garlic and a bay leaf in a little olive oil until tender. I added the beans back in with enough water to cover the beans by an inch. I brought them to a boil and then reduced to a simmer and allowed them to simmer covered for about 1 1/2 hours until the beans were tender. Once they were cooked, I seasoned the entire batch with salt and pepper.

The beans were served over yellow rice which was long-grain rice, vegetable stock, water, crushed cloves of garlic, turmeric, salt and a bay leaf all combined in a pot. The contents were brought to a boil, reduced to a simmer, covered and simmered for 15 minutes. The pot came off the heat and was allowed to rest before fluffing. I removed the bay leaf and crushed cloves of garlic before serving.

A very inexpensive, flavorful and healthy meal thanks to Tyler Florence.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New Favorite

For Sunday night's dinner, I made Panko Crusted Halibut with Pesto Butter again. I have made this three times in the past few months and just love it. I took the two halibut fillets and brushed them with melted butter, seasoned with salt and pepper and coated them with Panko breadcrumbs. They went into some hot oil in a skillet, breadcrumb side down to cook for 3 minutes. I then flipped the fillets tossed in a cup of grape tomatoes and popped the entire skillet in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. The result was perfectly cooked fish and roasted tomatoes. Once the fillets were plated, I topped them with some Pesto butter that I had frozen after the last time I made these.

Our side dish in addition to the roasted tomatoes was Risotto Alfredo. I cooked some chopped onions in a little olive oil to soften them, then added some arborio rice and sauteed the rice in the oil and onion to coat each grain for a few minutes. I proceeded to add warm chicken broth 1/4 cup at a time stirring constantly until all 2 cups has been absorbed. Once done, I stirred in a little heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.

I just love this dish!!!

I give this

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Manual Labor and Cooking Dinner

For the past few weeks, we have been tearing apart our master bathroom. Gerry started with pulling up the tile floor a little at a time, and then pulling apart the tiled shower. During the process I planned and made dinner every night. Now we are at the stage of removing wallpaper. This job tends to be my domain. There is nothing especially difficult, just tedious work with a fair amount of time spent on a ladder. I have worked a solid 6 hours for two consecutive days and I think I'm about 1/3 of the way done. Another 4 days and I should be done! Since I start every day with my hour Jazzercise class and have followed that up with 6 hours of manual labor, I put Gerry on dinner detail for this week.

Yesterday, for Meatless Monday, he made veggie burgers which he grilled and made a side of Sweet Potato "Fries" (baked in the oven). A wonderful meal for a Meatless Monday.

Tonight he decided red meat fit the bill after all my manual labor. He grilled a couple of strip steaks over charcoal with some Montreal steak seasoning which were perfect. We had a baked potato, corn on the cob that he also grilled, and sauteed cremini mushrooms.

A very wonderful meal!

I wonder what tomorrow will be?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Halibut and Maque Choux

I started tonight's dinner with the Maque Choux which was originally introduced by local Indians and has evolved into a spicy New Orleans creamed corn dish. I sauteed slivered onion and crushed garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes. I then added fresh corn kernels, fresh green beans that had been blanched for a couple of minutes, and frozen lima beans and cooked for another couple of minutes. I stirred in chopped fresh tomatoes, a little white wine, a little heavy cream, brown sugar and some Tabasco. I brought it to a boil and simmered for a few minutes until the cream thickened and seasoned with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.

Meanwhile I seasoned two halibut fillets with salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning and sauteed them in olive oil for 4 minutes per side.

I served this over a Buttermilk Cheddar Polenta which I made by bringing to a boil some buttermilk, chicken broth and butter and whisking in some cornmeal until smooth. I then allowed it to cook gently, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until thick and smooth. I added some shredded Cheddar cheese and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Each plate started with some of the Polenta, topped with a halibut fillet and smothered with the maque choux.

Gerry and I agree:

Grown-up Mac and Cheese

For 37 years I have been making the same macaroni and cheese which the girls love and have grown up on. Last night I made Kelsey Nixon's version of Mac and Cheese which is the grown up version with 3 different cheeses, Panko breadcrumbs and crumbled bacon.

I can't wait to try this when the girls are home.

I started by making a Bechamel sauce, which is simply equal amounts of butter and flour and hot milk stirred in gradually to make a smooth and thick cream sauce. I added salt, pepper, dry mustard and a little cayenne pepper along with some shredded cheddar cheese, shredded Gruyere cheese and grated Parmesan. Once all the cheese was melted into the sauce, I added some cooked elbow macaroni, a little more milk and a little bit of heavy cream and stirred everything until nicely combined.

Meanwhile I had cooked some bacon and used the bacon drippings to drizzle over Panko breadcrumbs with chopped parsley. The bacon flavored breadcrumbs were sprinkled over the mac and cheese in the skillet and some more Parmesan was sprinkled over everything.

The skillet went into the oven for 25 minutes until the crumbs were golden brown. Once the skillet came out of the oven, the bacon was crumbled over the top.

A very delicious, decadent macaroni and cheese!

We agree:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chicken Roulades

I had recently watched an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef where Anne made chicken rolled around a filling made of chorizo, Manchego cheese and almonds, breaded and fried, and served over a bed of sauteed Kale.

I started by butterflying 4 chicken breast halves and pounding them to make them thin and even. The chicken was set aside while I started the stuffing. I sauteed some chopped onions in olive oil with salt and crushed red pepper until softened. Some garlic went in for a couple of minutes to soften before crumbled chorizo was added and allowed to cook for about 5 minutes. The pan came off the heat and the mixture was allowed to cool a bit. The chorizo mixture then went in a bowl and I added some breadcrumbs, grated Manchego cheese, chopped parsley, chopped, toasted, almonds, and an egg to bind everything together. The stuffing was thoroughly combined and divided among the 4 flattened, butterflied chicken breasts, rolled up and secured with a toothpick. The stuffed chicken roulades got the standard breading procedure by being dredged in flour, dipped in beaten eggs, and rolled in Panko breadcrumbs. They were loosely covered with parchment paper and allowed to chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

After the hour chill, the rolls were browned in oil in a skillet on all sides and then finished in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. In the same skillet, a chopped shallot was sauteed while the chicken was finishing in the oven. After a few minutes some sherry vinegar was added and allowed to reduce by half. Some chicken stock went in the pan and allowed again to reduce by half. Finally more chicken stock went in and allowed to reduce again by half. The sauce was finished by adding some butter and gradually stirring it to combine it in the sauce.

While the chicken was finishing in the oven and I was reducing the sauce, I worked on the kale. I started by sauteing some garlic cloves with some crushed red pepper in olive oil, until the garlic was golden. I removed the garlic cloves since their job was to flavor the oil. I added some cleaned, chopped kale and tossed it to cover it with some of the flavored oil. I seasoned the kale with salt and added some chicken stock before covering the pan and letting it cook for a couple of minutes. I uncovered the pan and made sure the kale was cooked evenly before adding some sherry vinegar.

The chicken rolls came out of the oven, were sliced and placed over a bed of the sauteed kale and drizzled with the sauce.

This dinner was a lot of work and yielded okay results which seems to be the case with several of Anne Burrell's recipes. I think she has a heavy hand with salt and a love of vinegar which is just a little too much for me. The food looks great but the flavor is just off.

Gerry didn't mind this dinner, but I think I'm done with Anne for a while.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Grilled Vegetables with Creamy Orzo

Back in April, I made this meal for a meatless Monday and decided I needed it again.

I made the simple vinaigrette with white wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper and set it aside.

I sliced an eggplant lengthwise in 1-inch thick slices; sliced some Roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and seeded them. I trimmed asparagus spears and since they were thick, I peeled them, and I halved 2 small zucchini. All the vegetables were drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt before going on the grill. The grilled veggies were chopped when cool enough to handle and put in a large bowl and finally dressed with the previously made vinaigrette.

While the vegetables were grilling, I cooked some whole wheat orzo and once done it went back in the hot pot. I then added some heavy cream, grated Parmesan cheese, some unsalted butter and salt and pepper.

This was just as good as I remembered it. Even though the orzo had cream, cheese and butter, it still felt like a very light meal.

Our rating:

Sunday's Rack of Lamb

Gerry decided on a Rack of Lamb with Roasted-Shallot Vinaigrette for dinner. He started by grilling a shallot, unpeeled, over the gas grill for about 15 minutes until blackened in spots and very soft. Once the shallot was cool enough to handle, the peel was removed and the soft shallot was finely chopped. The shallot then went in a bowl with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, finely chopped fresh thyme, salt and pepper and finally olive oil was whisked in to make a vinaigrette.

The rack of lamb was allowed to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes and then brushed with olive oil and seasoned with finely chopped fresh thyme, salt and freshly ground black pepper. The rack of lamb went on the charcoal grill for its sear and then finished to perfection also over charcoal. The simple seasonings with the slightly smoky flavor from the charcoal made this one of the best pieces of lamb I have ever eaten.

My vote is to have it cooked this way all the time (I didn't even need the vinaigrette to enjoy the lamb).

He oven roasted some potatoes and asparagus for our sides which were very good.

My rating:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Red Snapper Veracruz Style

Gerry decided he wanted to cook dinners this weekend and so he decided Red Snapper Veracruz style sounded perfect. He started with the sauce by sauteing thinly sliced onions in olive oil until tender. He then added canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped green olives, capers, finely chopped jalapeno, minced garlic, dried oregano, dried thyme, salt and pepper and allowed everything to simmer for about 15 minutes to cook down a bit.

The snapper had diagonal slashes cut into it and each slash got rubbed with fresh lime juice and salt. Two large romaine lettuce leaves were lightly brushed with olive oil and went on the grill. The fish fillets went on the lettuce leaves and allowed to grill for 8 minutes. Two more oiled romaine leaves went on the grill next to the fillets and each fillet was carefully rolled over to the new lettuce leaf. He continued to grill the fish for another 8 minutes. Once done the lettuce leaves were discarded since their purpose was solely to protect the delicate fish.

He served the fish over mashed potatoes topped with the sauce and a side of oven roasted asparagus.

A fabulous Saturday night dinner!

Our rating:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Greek Chicken Cutlets with Tomatoes and Olives

I decided chicken sounded good for dinner tonight after all the seafood we had on vacation.

I cut two chicken breast halves in two pieces and pounded them to 1/4-inch thick. They were seasoned with salt and pepper and dredged in flour. They were sauteed in olive oil on both sides and then transferred to a plate and covered with aluminum foil. Off heat, some minced garlic went in the same pan and allowed to cook in the residual heat for a minute. The pan was deglazed with white wine and after a few minutes some chicken broth, chopped tomatoes, sliced kalamata olives and lemon juice were added and allowed to cook down by half. The chicken cutlets went back in the pan and cooked for another minute on each side.

Meanwhile I boiled some potato chunks and mashed them once tender. I stirred in some Greek yogurt, olive oil, scallions, lemon zest and salt.

The cutlets were served with the sauce drizzled over and topped with feta cheese and chopped parsley along with the mashed potatoes on the side.

Our rating:

Catching Up

On Saturday we had a 50th birthday party to attend. It was a fun evening filled with catching up with old friends and lots of good food. We didn't stay too late since we were heading out early Sunday morning for a little vacation with the kids.

We went to Port Aransas and spent a few days on the beach. Port Aransas has miles of beach with wonderfully warm water. Stephanie and David found a house with 5 bedrooms for rent which was perfect for all of us. It had a huge open floor plan for the kitchen, family room and dining area. Val and Jason took one of the bedrooms which had a queen size bed and bunk beds with still enough room to set up the portable crib for Ethan. Gerry and I ended up in a separate area (almost like an in-law apartment) in the front of the unit that had it's own little kitchen with a hot plate which was all we needed to make our coffee in the morning before joining all the kids.

We made breakfast every day at the house and came back from the beach for lunch which was simple sandwiches. We went out to dinner every night which worked out quite well.

Gerry and I picked up Zeb and Andrew and went a day earlier so we could get an extra day on the beach. For dinner we went to a restaurant called Pelican's Landing which was highly recommended. The dish that was recommended happened to be available Sunday ngiht and it was absolutely superb! A bacon wrapped Ahi tuna steak, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, seared to rare and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. It sounds a little strange but it was the best tuna I have ever had. It was served with mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus. We started with a salad and it was the best meal we had the entire trip.

Once we all got settled in the house on Monday we ended up at the Trout Street Bar and Grill for dinner and it was quite good. It was on the water with wonderful water views and the food was very good.

We divided up on Tuesday with the men playing golf and the rest of us enjoying the morning on the beach. Once we went to the house for lunch, Emma showered the sand off at the outdoor shower and decided she was done with the beach for the day. Gerry and Jason stayed at the house in the afternoon with Emma and Ethan while the rest of us headed back to the beach. Gerry and Emma went swimming in the pool while Jason took are of Ethan. We ended our day at the Crazy Cajun for dinner which was okay.

On Wednesday, David and Gerry played another round of golf in the morning while the rest of us headed to the beach. Jason and Emma flew a kite and dug in the sand a little. Emma was all about being in the water and Ethan was finally interested in touching the water and sand. It was a great morning spent on the beach and once again when we went back for lunch, Emma decided she was done with the beach for the day. Andrew stayed at the house with the kids, while Jason took a nap trying to get over a headache. The rest of us enjoyed another afternoon at the beach. Gerry and I stayed with the grandkids that night for dinner and ordered pizza in, while the kids went out to dinner. They went back to Pelican's Landing but unfortunately they did not have the house special tuna that night. They all ordered off the regular menu and enjoyed their dinner. Of course, Gerry and I believe we had the best time of all being with our grandchildren.

Thursday was pack up and drive home day. Even though Port Aransas is in Texas, we left there at 9:30 and got to our house at 5:45. It was a long day of driving but we really loved it. We're all looking forward to going again, but for a longer time next visit.