October 30, 2014
Strangest week I'm having. You know when you have a weekend of completing projects that should have been done two weeks ago, and are feeling really organized and can finally flush the 1/2 bath toilet once again?!?! I was having one of them (it felt great) when Monday came and my computer decided it didn't have as great a weekend as I did and refused to install the new security software I bought and then I burnt not one but two batches of roasted spiced pepitas I am testing for Christmas gifts this year. I wasted valuable camera time calling technical service and scrubbing burnt sugar off of sheet pans so dinner was just grilled cheese and soup. I am so grateful I made the soup last week.
The only thing accomplished was sorting through a large pile of papers on my desk and finally getting my Halloween Lights and decorations in place before Friday.
Where does the time go? I mean this year was on a fast pace, wasn't it? The holidays are closer than you think and I am so happy family will be on the West Coast for Christmas so there is no rush for gifts and no reason for baked goods this year. Sounds callous doesn't it? Not this year, I really need a rest and a possible squeezing of another trip to DC.
The absolute other worse thing that adds to a bad week, is not knowing what or even wanting to make dinner. It had to be a no recipe dish (I would only yell at the writer) and I needed to use up the last of the older eggs.
Ah ha!! I had older eggs? No, I am not going crazy, well I am but not that kind of crazy. Older eggs peel easier, as in hard boiled, but in this case as in Oeuf Mollet.
For those of you who consider poaching an egg food torture needs to pay attention, NOW.
I have the easiest, non-problematic way to serve totally cooked white and runny yolked eggs.
Leave it up to those country French Mamas who always made French food easy to make.
Remember when you watched someone blow the insides of a whole egg into a bowl so they could decorate and save without any spoilage?
You need a push pin and cold eggs. Push the pin into the fatter side of the egg and gently slide them into boiling water for 6 minutes. Remove to a large bowl of iced water and let them sit there until they cool completely. If you use room temperature eggs, the yolks will not be as runny, so might be better for the kids. While that is happening we can make the rest of the dish.
Whatever vegetable you have on hand, and whatever prepared meat product is in your fridge.
I had a ham steak and grilled asparagus but you could use Brussels sprouts or green beans and Italian sausage or Chicken sausage and I think leftover pork, sliced thin would also work.
I made a Bearnaise sauce with a nob of goat cheese, some maple syrup and mustard. It was sooooo good.
makes up to 8 eggs
* 8 cold eggs
* 1 pound vegetable (asparagus, green beans, broccoli, etc)
* 3/4 pound ham steak, sausage or shrimp, rough chop
* 1 package Bearnaise sauce mix, prepared
* 2 ounces reduced fat goat cheese
* 1 tablespoon maple syrup
* 2 teaspoons mustard, your choice
* Unsalted butter
* salt & pepper to taste
1. Fill a 2 quart saucepan with water and heat to a vigorous simmer
2. Poke a hole into the larger end of each egg with a push pin
3. Slowly lower the eggs into the simmering water and set the timer to 6 minutes. Get a large bowl of ice & water ready.
4. In a saute pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Saute the meat until the edges crisp. Add the vegetables, pour in a small amount of water, cover and steam until the vegetables are crisp tender, about 4 minutes.
5. In a small saucepan make the Bearnaise as per package directions. Add the syrup, mustard and goat cheese. Stir to combine.
6. When the eggs are cold to the touch, roll them gently on the counter to crack the shells. Peel and place back in the bowl.
7. Pour the vegetable mixture into a baking pan, and lay the eggs evenly across the top.
Spoon the sauce over the mixture and place in a 425° oven for 20 minutes, until the edges start to bubble and brown.
8. Remove to cool and serve with toast points or dinner rolls.
October 23, 2014
This day started in the wrong direction and just kept going. The Nudge drove three miles out of town and just as he hit the entrance ramp to Interstate Route 80, he got a flat.
He called to tell me he was going to change the tire and would I meet him back in town at the tire place?. Now, mind you, he drives a mid-sized SUV and on a highway that if you go slower than 80, they will run you over, I was sure I would not allow him to attempt at doing something he hasn't done in twenty years.
So, there I am screaming at him to call AAA because, excuse me, isn't that why we pay them money? to do road assistance? Trust me, I would have strangled him if I was in that car.
Finally, common sense prevailed and he pulled in our driveway thirty minutes later, tire changed. I am sure my husband would never admit he was happy to see the the young stud that showed up, but to me he confided in the fact that he feared for his life as huge 18 wheelers blew by him. Great way to start the day, huh?
Luckily the piece of metal that speared his tire wasn't so big that a plug wouldn't work, and a mere $25 later, he was back on the road again. That sucker was in there!!
I thought that I would make a favorite for dinner tonight but I refused to go full blown winter meatloaf when the thermometer was still cracking 70° here in the NE.
That didn't mean I couldn't create a lighter version using lean turkey.
What could be better than a turkey meatloaf and a side salad of late harvested deck tomatoes, cucumbers and blue cheese? I think he'll like it.
I don't make much meatloaf with turkey and was trying to think of a way to put a spin on this one.
I ran the contents of my pantry through my mind and I remembered a can of Deviled Ham I bought for a cheese ball I wanted to try and as soon I thought about mixing that in with the turkey mixture, when my mind went to a famous sandwich we both are fond of, you know it as a Cubano.
When I travel to South Jersey I make sure I have deli meats in the fridge if The Nudge doesn't want leftovers, he won't mind a sandwich for dinner. With enough ham & Swiss to make a Cordon Bleu meatloaf, I had dinner planned.
I made my usual meatloaf mix, but with lean ground white turkey and on a large moistened wooden board I covered the surface with plastic wrap (the water acts like glue). Evenly press the meat mixture with your fingers until it is the width of a standard loaf, then lay the ham then the Swiss evenly over the meat, to a 1/2" of the edge.
Using the wrap as you would for a Sushi roll, tucking in the deli as you go, roll the meat to the end and place the roll in a baking pan. Remove the plastic and allow the meat to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 ° and set a pot of salted water to a boil.
While the water was boiling, I started the mustard sauce.
You will need:
Dijon and Spicy Brown Mustard
Salt & Pepper
1 cup ale, minced shallots added; reduce to 2 tablespoons.
Add 1 tablespoon of each mustard, whisk in 1 tablespoon honey and 1 cup cream.
Reduce by half and season with salt & pepper to taste.
I add a drop of cognac to up the background taste but that is optional.
With my meatloaf I cooked a pot of yolk less noodles and some peas.
Hint: Peas float so cook them in the noodle water first, fish them out and then cook your noodles. Any nutrients that leach from the peas will be absorbed into the noodles.
I roasted the loaf for 45 minutes because it was skinny and longer than usual. On a thermometer it should read an internal temp of 165°. Tent the meat for 10 minutes, while you chop the herbs for the noodles.
Dinner is served.
This was full of flavor and better than I thought it would be. You may be tempted to add more ham and cheese but trust me, one layer was more than enough. You should make the sauce, it took this loaf over the top.
I can't wait to make a meatloaf sandwich with my new favorite.
October 22, 2014
This month's Recipe Redux challenge was created just for me. Well, not just for me but maybe with me in mind?
This is the challenge for October: Spooky Spices: You know they are lurking there: Way in the back of your spice drawer. There lie the herbs, spices, or rubs that are getting dusty because you’re afraid to use them… you simply don’t know what to do with them! Well, pull them out and show us a recipe you created to deliciously conquer that fearful spice. (Or maybe the recipe was a flop – and the spice still give you nightmares?!)
Now, please, don't judge me too harshly but they wrote that knowing my secret. I hate curry. Just the smell will chase me away.
I know we are in a small minority here, because curry dishes are loved worldwide and I often wonder what it is about that spice, that makes my face scrunch like a little kids, who has just smelt liver and onions for the first time. Yes, quite the nightmare.
Or is it?
I do know that curry is from India and is actually a blend of many spices, each cook creates their own. Maybe I could experiment and come up with a version that isn't an aversion to my senses.
When it comes to curry, I think a British one is a good place to start so I need to find a proper right Englishman who can cook. So who did I choose? Jamie Oliver.
I have been watching him when he was a single bloke that called himself the Naked Chef and have recreated many of his dishes over the years. Except, that is, his curry. With the recent release and excitement for his new cookbook, I thought it was the perfect place to start. It seems his favourite curry sauce is everyone else's also. He gives the basic mixture of spices, then the appropriate additions, depending on what protein you will be cooking.
Simple enough, even for me. I knew that jar of fenugreek seeds I bought would be good for something. The only thing I had to buy was Serrano peppers and I had to omit the curry leaves (no time to order and nowhere locally). I decided my use would be with chicken.
Wish me luck!!! Aren't I such a sorry arse? You would think I was about to pluck that chicken, geez.
Update: While I was measuring each ingredient into it's receptacle I realized it was the fenugreek that gave curry that unique smell, so what was any good little curry hating girl to do? I reduced the fenugreek from Jamie's teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon. Yes, I am a wuss, but one that likes my customized version and The Nudge totally agreed with me.
While mine was made with chicken and coriander seeds, I added a few cubes of butternut squash to round out the meal. I served mine with brown basmati rice and we both ate our dinners. I am not sure he even realized that this was the curry, and psssst....I am not going to tell him.
If there are any other curry haters out there, make this sauce (with a smidgen of fenugreek). You will really like it and technically it is a curry sauce and a wonderful Asian sauce, that I might just use with everything, from now on.
Once again, I have to thank The Recipe Redux for showing me that where there is a will,, there was a way.
Jamie Oliver's Favourite Curry Sauce
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef
* 5 tbsp vegetable oil
* 2 tsp mustard seeds
* 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
* 3 green chillies, seeds removed, thinly sliced
* A handful of curry leaves, ripped into small pieces
* 2 thumb sized pieces of ginger
* 3 onions, chopped
* 6 tomatoes, chopped
* 1 tsp turmeric
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 or 2 wineglass water (about 10 oz)
* 14 fluid oz can coconut milk
* 4 (225 g) haddock fillets, skinned and pin-boned
* 1 knob (1 tbsp) tamarind paste or 1 tsp tamarind syrup
* A very large handful baby spinach (optional)
* 4 chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2 inch (1 cm) strips
* 2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
* 800 g mixed veg, chopped (potatoes, zucchini, onions, sweet potatoes, spinach, chard, cauliflower, lentil beans)
1. Heat the oil. When hot add mustard seeds & wait for it to pop. Then add fenugreek, green chillies, curry leaves and ginger. Stir fry for a few mins.
2. Using food processor, chop the onion and add to the pan.
3. When brown & soft, add the chili powder and turmeric.
4. Using same food processor, pulse the tomatoes & add to the pan. Cook a couple of mins.
5. Add 1 or 2 wineglasses of water & the coconut milk. Simmer about 5 mins until it has the consistency of thick heavy cream.
6. Season carefully with salt & take this sauce as the base.
7. To make fish curry:
- 1. Add the fish & tamarind to the sauce and simmer 6 mins.
- 2. Add baby spinach at the end of cooking time.
8. To make chicken version:
- 1. Stir fry chicken strips & coriander seeds until light colored.
- 2. Add to sauce & simmer for 10 mins.
9. Vegetable version:
- 1. Simply add all vegetables to the sauce at the beginning when you add the onions.
- 2. Continue to cook as normal and simmer until tender.