"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it." ~Unknown

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Salad bar -- Fried food detox

Despite my promises I won't be making sushi today. This is because we got back from Spring Break vacation only yesterday afternoon so we didn't have time to prepare and teach ourselves the intricacies of making sushi and because while on vacation one is prone to eat out a lot more. When we were eating out over the past week we had eaten everything from fried chicken to fried pickles and fried alligator (not very heart healthy). Thanks to these factors Mom managed to convince me to make a sort of salad bar, a homemade salad bar. As I sit here I am dreaming up all the things to put out so everyone can make their own salad. Of course we need a lettuce base, and pickles-maybe fried? (special thanks to The Praline Connection in New Orleans) and garbanzo beans and olives and apple and carrot of course. And pickled beets. I'm really digging through the back of our refrigerator now, orange minneolas, celery, smoked salmon, piquillo peppers (left over from Oscar weekend), Now I'm going through the freezer, frozen blueberries, raspberries, a package labeled "mixed berries" (this particular one doesn't appear to have seen the light of day since we moved from Sedro-Woolley, Washington). Now I'm digging through the cupboard, almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, doesn't look like there's anything else. Wait! Chocolate chips? Nah.
What about dressings? I think I'll make a ranch style, mayo based dressing. Now there's nothing left to do but cook (or would it be prepare?).
Real life is a lot different than in your imagination isn't it? Instead of the grand salad bar I had planned we're only going to have apple, carrot, smoked salmon (from our wonderful neighbors Dennis and Liz) and garbanzo beans. At least we have a wonderful loaf of bread and phizzinis.
Phizzini's are a non-alcoholic cocktail Cyrus dreamed up about three years ago. It consists of 50% club soda, any kind, and 50% fruit juice. Which is an amazing combination. Some of our favorite juice flavors are pomegranate, apple or orange. Tonight's juice is tangerine.
Wow. We managed to make a wonderful meal and yet somehow I'm not typing with my arms fully outstretched due to a fully distended stomach (dramatic exaggeration)! I definitely recommend something like this if you want a (ful)filling meal with plenty of fruits and veggies.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

When your propane tank explodes, just stick the turkey in the oven.

When we got to our cousins house in Louisville on Friday my uncle gave me an idea. He said that we should blog about helping him make a turkey on Sunday. Our plan was to fry the bird in peanut oil in his backyard. So, to heat the oil we would use a propane tank, what else? The last time that this particular tank hose was used was nearly five years ago. Little did we know in the last five years the hose had corroded. When my uncle, Clark, started the burner to heat up the oil before frying the turkey there was a small surprise. The hose burst into flames.

It was a very near thing. Had the hose been pointed a few centimeters the other way the fence would have burst into flames. a few centimeters the other way and my uncle and the grass in his back yard would have been a ball of flame. As it was everyone, and everything, was OK, however the flame was working it's way toward the main tank, if the flame got there the tank would explode sending shrapnel into the surrounding area. The Louisville F.D. got here in time though and put out the fire fast enough. The turkey was untouched.

Now the turkey is in the oven finally cooking, and Clark is making Bechamel sauce for the potatoes.

Our whole menu for tonight is turkey, potatoes with bechamel sauce and lacinto kale. The bird just came out of the oven with, since it was prepared for frying then baked, most of its rub still on. The potatoes were just mixed with cheddar cheese and bechamel sauce. They had been boiled in chicken broth. The turkey has been basted and the potato mixture has had parmesan, bread crumbs and clarified butter added and is now broiling. Some rolls just came out of the oven. We'll eat well tonight!

I was right. The food was awesome and I'm so full I can barely stand. After Colonel Sanders sized helpings of potatoes, turkey and rolls we had a red velvet cake for Timmy The Cat's birthday. It was so rich that most of us were barely able to finish half of their slice.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rack of Ribs

Cy was inspired by all the warm weather and decided to heat up the grill. So this morning dad and Cy pulled out our old charcoal powered grill to cook a rack of ribs, a huge, honking rack of ribs, they didn't even fit on the platter! As I was helping Cy with the spice rub this morning, dad was firing up the grill with hickory charcoal which provides a beautiful smoky flavor to the meat. We allowed the meat to slow cook and went to True Brew, a local coffee shop\bookstore to get milkshakes for lunch while the meat cooked itself in our backyard (oh, so, ill-advised). The ribs were wonderful, the meat fell right off the bone. Cy served the ribs with a delicious barbecue sauce from the Jack Daniel's Barbecue Cookbook, also buttermilk biscuits and a nice salad with blue cheese dressing. Don't be surprised when we don't blog next Sunday, we'll be in Louisville with our grandparents (huzzah for spring break!) I plan to try my hand at sushi the following Sunday.

Mussels with Serrano Ham

So, I am a bad blog parent and even though I said that I would put the recipe for last Sunday's meal up on Monday, it is now Sunday again and it's not there. How did this not get done? This is the eternal question. Where does the time go? At any rate, here it is at last.

Mussels with Serrano Ham

from the Gourmet Today cookbook

2 pounds mussels scrubbed and debearded
1/3 cup evoo
2 1/2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (1/8 inch thick) slices serrano ham cut into 1 inch long matchsticks
1/3 cup sliced almonds toasted
1/4 cup drained bottled piquillo peppers finely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Cook mussels in a dry 3-4 quart heavy pot, tightly covered over med high heat until they open wide (about 4 minutes), give a stir after about 3 minutes. Transfer open mussels to a baking sheet with a slotted spoon. Discard any mussels that aren't open after 8 minutes of cooking. Reserve mussel juice in pot. When mussels are cool enough to handle, detach from shells and discard half of each shell. Whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add rest of ingredients, including mussels and 3-4 Tablespoons of the reserved mussel juice and toss until mussels are coated. Arrange mussel shells attractively on a platter, spoon one mussel with some dressing into each shell and serve.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars' Sunday Hors D'eouvres

I was thinking on Monday about what I should make for Sunday dinner. Then, Dad reminded me that Sunday was the Oscars. So, I began to think what the Oscars mean to me, ultimately it's a plate of nachos and a bag of pretzels (and maybe a salad) while sitting in front of the family TV in our living room. Almost snack food. I thought for a moment before remembering the term Le Cordon Bleu grads use for "snack food." So, I found the hors d'eouvres sections of our half-a-million cookbooks, I settled on a mussels and serrano ham recipe from Gourmet's new cookbook and my signature salad with viniagrette and garlic bread combo. So as mom turns on the Oscars, I will begin a lesson on bearding, scrubbing, and cooking mussels, dry cooking them at that.

Wow. De-bearding mussels isn't all that easy. You have to yank their beard in such a way as not to pull them against the sides of their shells and kill them yet also yank out some infamously tough micro fibers. The whole process is like a physics lesson! In addition to that you have to watch out for cracked, broken and open ones because really, really. nobody wants a bad mussel. They are now on the stove dry cooking.

Once again I am wowed. After cooking up a whirlwind, I realized I was chopping cilantro, not parsley, for the mussel's dressing! Then I was so busy adding the garlic butter to the garlic bread and stuffing the mussel's half-shell that making the apple-carrot salad was 100% up to dad. This combination of dishes was extremely complicated to make and took a lot of concentration on a night when I'd rather be watching the Academy Awards.

In the end however all the hard work and concentration paid off to create an amazing meal. Especially considering that the main ingredient of the main course was something that neither I nor my sous chef had ever worked with, mussels. It was hard work but in the end it all came down to one word. Yum.