June 27, 2007

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Two days ago, I marinated this thinly sliced beef in the hottest stuff I could find in the house. I used chili oil, chili sauce, dried chilis, crushed red pepper, garlic powder and sesame oil. Tonight, I cut it into strips and stir-fried it with asparagus, scallions and water chestnuts. It was satisfyingly spicy, exactly what I was shooting for. Brown rice was perfect to temper the heat...and the eggs.

June 25, 2007

The D Word

If you have ever even seen this blog, much less read it, you have to know that we aren't running around down here in bikinis. I greatly value the freedom to be whatever size I happen to be, as long as I am comfortable - and at the same time I have to say that there's a time to pay attention to health. Things aren't going to change much around here, but you will see a difference in the healthfulness of the food. I'm going to use a larger variety of vegetables and more leafy greens- less sugar, bread, potatoes and pastas. Chicken. Fish. I'm not going all Atkins on you, I'm trying to be moderate and continue to make food that I love.

I am so excited about the dish I made for dinner tonight- inspired by my friend Colleen who lives in Pittsburgh!! I cut an eggplant in half, scooped out the meaty part and diced it. I sauteed it in a little olive oil over medium high heat and after a few minutes, threw in a chopped roma tomato, some diced yellow squash, 2 sliced spring onions and garlic powder, salt and pepper. Keeping the heat in the pan up, I continued to sautee for 5 more minutes. Then I took it off of the heat and tossed in some shredded Parmesan cheese. I then stuffed the whole mixture back into one of the halves of the scooped out eggplant. It smelled SO GOOD as I was stuffing it back into the eggplant half. I baked it at 375 degrees for half an hour or so until it started turning brown on top. This has a fantastic flavor, you could really make it with the eggplant along with any other vegetable you please. It's going to be a regular dish in our house...and the eggs.

June 24, 2007

Night Blooming Cereus Cactus

This incredible cactus blooms for only one night, hence its nickname, Queen of the Night (don't worry, Sparki, we'll still call you that too). Anyway, back to the cactus, we have a large number of them growing up in a tree, and noticed that they were getting ready to bloom, but didn't know more until we did an internet search. The research told us that the same blooms won't open again, but other blooms on the same plant will open over the next few nights. Hope to get a shot of it in full bloom, as this is only about half way.
They're inedible, but we thought you might enjoy seeing this unusual bloom...and the eggs.

June 22, 2007

Quickie Cupcakes

A sweet treat...and divine! These are cheatie cupcakes- I used Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake Mix and made the "not too sweet" icing that I used on the banana cakes last week. A great easy treat...and the eggs.

Dig into Stuffed Pork Chops!

You will love this savory, wonderful dish. The onions and wine really kick in a special flavor!

1 loaf bread
1 chopped medium onion
2 stalks chopped celery
1 1/2 sticks butter
Sprinkles of oregano
Salt and pepper
Tear or cut up bread and let it sit out to get a little stale. Saute onion and celery in butter, remove from heat and add bread, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir.

4 or 5 bone-in pork chops = 1 1/2" thick
White onions (we slice them and use rings or large-ish chunks)
Red wine (we use Cabernet Sauvignon)

On cutting board, cut chops in half horizontally, stopping before hitting the bone or the other side. Stuff chops with stuffing- just stuff 'em. You don't have to worry about toothpicks or twine.

Place some rings of onion in a shallow baking dish. Pour in enough wine to cover onions. Place chops in same dish. Toss a few more rings or pieces of onion on top and around chops. Pour more wine on top of that- to a little over 1/4 of the way up the pan. Once or twice as they cook, baste chops with the wine and onion. Bake at 350 for an hour or until chops are cooked through- I take them out when they reach 160 and let them sit for 10 minutes.

The chops are so big they don't need a large accompanying side dish, I usually make a simple salad or sauteed spinach to have with them. These are sooo good, wait until you smell them cooking! Try them- they're super easy and are also good reheated in the oven the next day if you save them in the cooking juices. Enjoy...and the eggs!

June 21, 2007

Red Corn


Last weekend, we saw this red corn at the grocery store, and I had to try it. I thought it would taste just like corn but be red. It was one of the strangest things, it had a texture just like corn, but it didn't really taste like corn. It tasted like nothing. It wasn't good at all, but it wasn't horrible either- I wouldn't make it again. I am confused as to why it's sold as food for human consumption.
On a happier note, we had the best stuffed pork chops ever in the world last night, and I will post details of that dinner either later today or tomorrow morning!
If any of you have an inkling as to the point of supposedly edible red corn, please fill me in...and the eggs.

June 20, 2007

Homemade Bolognese Warms the Cockles of Your Heart

Yes, you are on the right blog! A little salad now and then never hurt anybody. Especially when it accompanies home made meat sauce with pasta!

Put a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil and 5 garlic cloves cut in half in large saute pan. Heat slowly until garlic starts to turn toasty brown. Add a slab of baby back ribs (cut up as necessary to fit in pan) and cook slowly. I did mine on medium low for 45 minutes to an hour, and covered it loosely with aluminum foil after 30 minutes. They won't be fully cooked when you transfer them, but they should be 3/4 finished.

Heat more oil in a large pot and throw in some cut-up garlic. Heat a bit and add ribs. Add 3 large cans of crushed tomatoes, 1 small can tomato paste, water, some oregano (sprinkle some, not a lot), crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and some chopped fresh basil (here's some from my herb garden).

Stir (this won't be easy at first, but gets easier as the ribs continue to cook). Turn to medium high until it boils, and then turn it down to low to simmer. In a mixing bowl, add 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 - 3/4 pound ground pork, approximately 1/4 cup of bread crumbs (I prefer 4-C seasoned --not Italian), 2 eggs, grated pecorino romano (to taste, but not as much as bread crumbs), salt, pepper and parsley. I don't have exact measurements because you don't need them!! Mix together, form meatballs and brown those in the same saute pan you used to cook the pork ribs.

When the meatballs have browned, stir them into the sauce and rib mixture. You can add a little water if it's too thick, and more later if it gets thicker than you would like.

Let it cook ALL DAY. I simmered mine on low for 8 hours, covered, but at times partially removed the lid. Stir on and off all day. By the time it's cooked, the meat from the pork ribs will have fallen right off the bone. Pick bones out with tongs.

PLEASE NOTE: Authentic bolognese does not have as much tomato sauce as my recipe does- I make it the way I like it. You can cook the pork and meatballs and put in a sauce made with only some tomato paste, water and seasonings. You can make any type of pasta you like, we like percatelli when we can find it. It's hearty and sauce sticks to it beautifully.

Freeze what you don't eat the first night because it is even better after it is frozen and thawed.
Mange! Mange...and the eggs.

June 19, 2007

Meet the Family Part 3

Kirin is an Akita and is 4 years old, the same age as Millie Mae. He's quite a fine fellow, and you can't walk him without being practically mobbed by people saying how good looking he is. Weighing in at 125 pounds, Kirin looks ferocious, but is as docile as your favorite teddy bear. We have to shave his double coat due to the heat in Miami. He loves squeaky toys, but they don't last long with him...in fact, given to him, the average life expectancy of the squeaky mechanism in a chew toy is about 2 minutes.. but he loves them long after the squeaker is gone. Kirin is always 2 steps behind Millie Mae who is constantly running after every little thing...Kirin's her back-up in case anything is really amiss. They go together like peas and carrots...and the eggs.

June 17, 2007

Every day is Father's Day

My father is a rabbi, despite what he might tell you. When at parties, he tells people that he sells used pool tables, because it's the only way he can get the other guys to tell him dirty jokes. My father is many other things, too: a magician (his card advertises Zanville the Great, but "Great" is x-ed out and "Pretty Good" is substituted), a part-time radio host for a local (Norfolk, VA) classical music station, a gourmet cook, a philosopher, a Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado, the list goes on and on.

My family has a hobby of going out to restaurants, and without fail I can look at the menu and predict correctly what my father will order. Number one: If there is a steak on the menu, that's what he's getting, and he will ask for it to be so rare it's still bloody. Number two: If there is no steak, he will order it anyway, and ask for it to be so rare it's still bloody. Number three: if there is still no steak, he'll order something else, but he won't be happy about it. Unfortunately, I have inherited his love of red meat.

I have always admired my father to no end- I was raised to accept all kinds of people despite any differences, visible or invisible. He has friends from all different walks of life, and I think that has enriched his life so much that he values people above all else. Fortunately, I inherited his love of people. Happy Father's Day, and thank you, papa.

I have another dad, too. My partner's father, Jack. As fate would have it, he is a retired Methodist minister. To say I am lucky to know this man is an understatement. He has been in remission for over 5 years from esophageal cancer. He's always up for a lively conversation or debate. Jack likes to tell us about the time he was wrong about something, but later discovered he was mistaken. Happy Father's Day, Jack...and the eggs.

June 16, 2007

Finally, Lunchtime!

I learned a valuable lesson today. Banana daiquiris can cheer you up on a rainy day! I'm not sure if that's the sugar from the waffles or the rum from the daiquiris talking, but either way, truer words were never spoken. Cheers! L'Chayim! Yung sing! A votre sante! Prost! Salud! ...and the eggs.

What else?! Banana Chocolate Chip Waffles!

It's raining again- a low pressure system is moving up from Cuba and is supposed to last a couple of days, so unless Mother Nature performs a miracle, there will be no pool today. To quote my friend Sparki, "There's nothing to do...what's there to eat?"
With a kitchen full of ripening bananas, what better for breakfast than banana chocolate chip waffles? Mmmm-mmm! We used a standard Bisquick waffle recipe with the addition of three thinly sliced backyard bananas and a sprinkle of semi-sweet morsels.
What better for lunch than....banana daiquiris...always good, rain OR shine...and the eggs.

June 14, 2007

WOW!!! Follow up to Backyard Banana Cake!

My co-worker just appeared at my office door, bearing an entire branch of a banana tree - flush with bananas! I have never seen one of these in real life! It really is one of the coolest things I have seen. It's silly how excited I am...and the eggs.

Backyard Banana Cake

A co-worker has a banana tree growing in his backyard. He brought some to the office a few days ago and I noticed them sitting on the counter in our communal kitchen. The next day they were still there- I thought it would be funny to steal them, take them home, make banana cake and pull the old switcheroo! So I did.

The bananas are short and fat, different from other bananas I have seen and I wasn't sure about their sweetness level, so I made a test cake. It passed with flying colors. Last night I made two more cakes - one to put back at the scene of the crime and one to give to him to take home to enjoy with his family. I think that I'll be the only person who notices that bananas disappeared and cake appeared, but I'll imagine someone else strolling in there and noticing and I will get a kick out of it...and the eggs.
Backyard Banana Cake:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3 mashed up bananas
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter. Add sugar. Add other ingredients. Mix. Grease loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

"On the side" not-too-sweet icing:
1 x 3.5 ounce vanilla pudding mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix for 3-4 minutes until icing-like consistency.

June 12, 2007

Meet the Family Part 2

Millie Mae is our 4 year old mixed breed dog. Do you think that a Jack Russell and a Dalmatian can mate? You can't see her body in this picture but it's all white, except for some spots on her belly which look like a Dalmatian's. Millie is a little neurotic and won't walk her normal route through the house if there's something suspicious in her vicinity that wasn't there before. Fortunately, she has calmed down in her "old" age, but there were a few rough puppy years during which she mutilated my house. She is as sweet as can be, just a little high-strung.
They say that animals take on traits of their owners...and I admit to being a little neurotic, but I never chewed through a kitchen floor or a safety gate...or carpet. Well...not yet, anyway...and the eggs.

June 11, 2007

Vote for Me on July 1st!! June's Royal Foodie Joust

Over at The Leftover Queen's website, http://www.leftoverqueen.com, Jenn started a new forum, http://www.leftoverqueen.com/forum/index.php?board=5.0. The forum promotes a monthly contest, the Royal Foodie Joust. The three ingredients for this month's contest are nuts, cheese and dried fruit. Being a newbie at cooking contests, I made those the only ingredients (except for one- butter) in my Joust entry. I might not be the only one who uses the ingredients in such an elementary, some-might-say predictable fashion, but when you try this recipe for your next get-together or weekend afternoon treat, I think you'll agree that it's a winner!

Try my recipe and if you agree, please vote for me on July 1st at the forum (link above).
Toast 1 cup of sliced almonds in 1/2 a stick of salted butter. After almonds are brown, throw in another 1/4 stick butter to melt. Remove from heat.

Boil 1/2 cup each of dried apricots, dried cherries and golden raisins for 4 minutes and drain.
Place small round camembert in baking pan and preheat oven to 350. Pour fruit on and around cheese.

Pour toasted almonds and butter on top of that.
Finally, bake uncovered at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Remove and transfer to serving platter. Serve warm with bread of choice- I use mini toasted breads.
...and the eggs.

Artichoke Pie? Look No Further!

If you are like me, a sucker for anything artichoke, this recipe is for you.
I was intimidated by the inclusion of bechamel sauce, but it was a breeze. I can't take credit for the recipe, it is Mario Batali's- but it was very easy despite the medium difficulty rating at the Food Network's website.

Saute small chopped onion and quartered artichoke hearts in olive oil. When the onions start to carmelize, cover w/a little water and simmer for 10 minutes until hearts are very tender. In another pot, make bechamel sauce. Fresh chopped italian parsley goes into the cooked and drained artichoke hearts and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg into the finished bechamel.
The artichoke mixture is folded into the sauce and put in a pie crust (I used Pillsbury ready-made). Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until top turns golden brown. Let it cool because it's best to eat it at room temperature.
We had this along with grilled ribeye steaks with crabmeat stuffing. The pie would be a fantastic vegetarian main course- it's definitely hearty enough to stand alone...and the eggs.

June 10, 2007

Saturday Night in Coconut Grove

Anokha in Coconut Grove is by far best Indian Restaurant in South Florida. The Makkhani Murghi (pictured in 2nd photo above) is described on the menu as A tender chicken breast prepared in the tandoor and combined with a rich cream and butter sauce. I don't know how they do it, but they put together seemingly simple ingredients and turn something out that tastes other-worldly. The chicken stays tender and the dish has a whole different feel depending on the heat level ordered- mild, medium or hot. I have tried them all and I recommend all of them. We also tried the Tandoor Shrimp which was also cooked to perfection. The vegetables are quick cooked to a perfect crisp finish- not too soggy, not too raw. The shrimp is brought out still sizzling and makes for a fun presentation. The menu suggests wines to compliment a few of the entrees, but the wine list is large enough that you will find something new or an old favorite. I was never a fan of Indian food until my friend Valerie, in town for a long weekend, insisted I would like it if I tried it. Well, she was right. Whenever I place my order at Anokha, I make sure to ask for no cilantro, as fresh cilantro garnishes nearly every dish. If any of you are ever in town, Anhoka is open for dinner only and closed Monday. Let me know if you like it!

The home cooking for this evening includes an artichoke tart and charcoal grilled rib eye steaks with crabmeat stuffing. The scoop on that later tonight or tomorrow morning. I'm off to the pool, it's a beautiful day in Miami..and the eggs.

June 8, 2007

When You're Hot, You're Hot

The meal of osso buco, fresh green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes turned out so well that I was on a roll...so instead of letting the chocolate bread pudding sit for 48 hours, I baked it after 24. I can't imagine this being any better if it had sat for another day. After turning out a lovely home made whipped cream (and patting myself on the back), we indulged in the dense (but not too dense), rich (but not too rich) glorious decadent dessert. Thank you, Freya, thank you and the BBC from the bottom of my heart...and the eggs.


Osso buco...in a world full of average and..yes, above average food, this dinner stood out. Divine. Delicate. Flavorful. Possibly the best dinner I have ever made. I'm not often at a loss for words so I hope the pictures speak for themselves.

Over medium-high heat, dredge veal shanks lightly in flour, brown in butter. Remove veal and keep warm.

To same pan add 1 each chopped carrot and chopped onion. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add 3/4 cup beef stock and a can of diced tomatoes. Add veal shanks back to pan- stir. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 90 minutes.

...and the eggs.

June 7, 2007

Osso Buco- Mmmm mmm good!

Tonight's menu: Osso Buco. Why not? A full report on that coming tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, I put together the chocolate bread pudding recipe recommended by Freya. It was easy enough: cut up bread, melt other ingredients in a double boiler and layer everything in baking dish. The recipe requires it sitting in the refrigerator for 48 hours before baking, so Friday night's dessert is sitting, waiting for its 15 minutes of fame. I feel good about this one, but only time will tell...and the eggs.

June 5, 2007

Halushki for Everyone!

Halushki is of Polish origin. This basic recipe can be spiced to your liking and the type of noodles you use is entirely up to you. We rotate between pierogies, wide egg noodles, "halushki noodles" and bow-tie pasta (which is what we used this time).

The ingredients are very basic. 1 large chopped cabbage and 1 1/2 large white onions chopped.

Saute onions in a stick of butter. At the same time, steam cabbage. After cabbage is steamed (but not too limp!) and onions are translucent, add cabbage to the onions.

Add 1/2 stick of butter, salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder and garlic salt (all to taste). Cook over medium heat until it is light golden brown. At that point, it's finished. Spoon over your choice of noodles.

This dish is chock full of flavor. It's also very flexible- you could have it as a side dish or a main dish. You could have some kielbasa or bratwurst on the side or not. There are many things you could add to give it some color, but we like it this way. Nothing fancy, just plain good...and the eggs.

June 3, 2007

Bread Pppudding

And the answer is......... yes. My attempt at bread pudding WAS doomed from the start. Computer crashes and tornadoes didn't stop me from trying. The recipe "Old Fashioned Bread Pudding" is an egg custard with the sweetness of raisins and a cinnamon/nutmeg dusting. Maybe that is what "Old Fashioned" bread pudding is supposed to be- but it tasted like an omelet. It wasn't what I was looking for. My quest is for a sweeter (but not too sweet), richer (but not too rich), heavier (but...you get the idea) taste. I have a nice cookbook collection, which I should have consulted instead of looking for the quick fix on the 'net. Do any of you fave recipe to share before I go about my research?

If this had been a fan-f'ing-tastic dessert, it would have taken my mind off of the fact that I compromised the computer network of my place of employment by looking for the recipe, heck- it might have even made it worth it. I could have somehow justified the whole thing if it had just tasted good. (See the 6/1 post It's Chili in Miami). I try not to be superstitious but at times it's hard not to believe in karma...and the eggs.

June 2, 2007

Sweet AND Hot Chowder

Corn and Potato Chowder:

Heat a bit of oil in a stock pot and add 2 diced yellow onions. Add 3 slices of bacon (optional). Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat until they are translucent. Add 1 leek, thinly sliced. Add 1 jalapeno pepper thinly sliced (or more than one- it's up to you).

Add two cans of corn. Continue to cook for 10 more minutes. Add 2 cans of creamed corn and 6 small red potatoes. Add 1/2 cup milk or more until you get the consistency you want. The milk should help cover the potatoes. Stir in 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme.

Cover and simmer on low heat until potatoes are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

The resulting chowder is corn-sweet but with a nice little kick...and the eggs!