Thursday, March 31, 2011

You have to be crazy to make Spaetzle

For some reason the blog universe is afire with Spaetzle.  Oddly enough I attempted this last week with a pork tenderloin for dinner.  It was wild and I don't think I have all the dough cleaned up yet.  I used the braising pan with the nice brown glaze from the pork to saute the dumplings.  I thin sliced the pork (really thin) after it had rested then served it over the dumplings that had been browned in the dripping butter mixture.  Red cabbage on the side.  It was great, and I will make the spaetzle again if only because it cost about 25 cents to make $3.98 of store bought stuff and it tasted a lot, a lot lot lot, better.

I translate everything to measures so I can get more accurate nutritional counts.

                            Parsley Dumplings (Thanks Sandra Lee)
Serving Size  : 10    ( I cut this in half)
  4 cups  all-purpose flour
  2 teaspoons  Kosher salt -- plus more to taste
  1 cup  eggs -- 4 large
  1/4 cup  chopped parsley
  3 tablespoons  unsalted butter
                        Freshly ground black pepper -- to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In another bowl whisk together 2 cups water and eggs. Pour the liquid into the center of the flour mixture. Whisk until the smooth loose dough forms. Mix in parsley until well incorporated. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Place a large colander or strainer from a pasta pot over a pot of boiling water. You do not want the colander/strainer to touch the boiling water it should be suspended a couple of inches over the water. Add half of the dough to the colander and using a rubber spatula press the dough through the holes while holding it over the boiling water, allowing the dough fall through holes into the water. Let cook for two minutes then remove the dumplings with a slotted onto a sheet pan. Repeat with remaining dough

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add half the butter. When it is melted, add half of the dumplings to the skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until they are golden and slightly crispy in places, about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and dumplings. Transfer to platter and serve immediately.

                        Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Serving Size  : 4 (more like 8)  
  2 pork tenderloins (about 8 to 12 ounces  each)
  1       large cloves  garlic -- sliced into 10 to 12 slivers (1 to 2)
  1         tablespoon  vegetable oil
  2          teaspoons  rosemary
                        Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut 5 to 6 small slits partially
through each pork tenderloin. Try not to cut all the way through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Insert slivers of garlic into each slit. Brown meat on all sides then .  Roast pork for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through (160 on meat thermometer).

                          Red Cabbage With Apple
Serving Size  : 6    
  2 teaspoons  bacon fat
  1 cup  onion -- halved and thinly sliced (1 onion)
  3 cups  red cabbage -- cored, quartered, and thinly sliced (1 small head)
  1/2  cup  apple -- peeled and thinly sliced (1 apple)
  3 tablespoons  cider vinegar
                        Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon until browned, 10 minutes.
Add onion; cook until soft, 5 minutes.
Add cabbage, apple, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring, until cabbage wilts, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat to desired softness (if sticking, add water), 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lent and the fishing (frying) is easy

Eat more fish.  Easy enough to say but when your favorite way is fried it is difficult to eat more fish.

But there is fried and then there is fried.  This is shallow fried, using only 2 Tablespoons of fat of which most remains in the pan.  And the pan should be cast iron.  Old fashioned, heavy cast iron.  This could be done in the oven but then it wouldn't be fried.

Fish Fillets with Panko
Serving Size  : 4     

16 ounces  cod fillets -- or any firm white fish
1/2 c.  Flour
1 TBS.  onion powder
1/2 TBS.  garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp.  paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste ( I try to keep salt to a minimum)
2 egg whites -- beaten
1 c.  panko
2 Tbs.  Canola Oil
Thaw fillets and pat dry. Cut fillets into fingers to make it easier to handle and to make lots of crispy edges.  Mix the flour and dry spices in a Ziploc bag. Beat egg whites in another shallow bowl. Place Panko bread crumbs in a 3rd bowl or Ziploc bag. Shake fillets in the Ziploc bag of flour, shake off any excess before dipping the fillets into egg whites, allowing excess to drip off. Place fillets in Panko Bread Crumbs, and lightly toss/shake until all sides are covered. Set aside to set the coating. Heat oil in skillet on medium high. When the oil sizzles (drop some of the crumbs in to check), add the fillets. Saute each side until golden brown.  Cooking times will vary, depending on your stove and the thickness of your fish fillets, so just keep an eye on them and turn sooner if necessary.

I make a tartar sauce of pickle relish, mayo, onion powder, dill weed and garlic with a generous grinding of black pepper.  About 1 part relish to 3 parts mayo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I forgot to add that we had a bit of vanilla ice cream with strawberry jam from our strawberries that I had frozen last year for desert. 

It's all done but the cooking

Tonight is a riff on the Nigella Lawson One Pan Chicken recipe:

                             One-Pan Chicken
Recipe By     : Nigella Lawson
                        Olive oil
  1                     chicken -- (3 1/2 pound) cut into 8 pieces
  2 1/4         pounds  new potatoes cut into 1/2-inch dice
  3             medium  red onions -- cut into segments
  16                    garlic cloves -- unpeeled
  3                     red peppers -- seeded and quartered
                        Coarse sea salt
     1/2           cup  chopped parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Get 2 baking dishes and pour in some olive oil to coat. Arrange the pieces of chicken, the potatoes, onions, garlic cloves, and peppers on them. (If you want to use 3 dishes and have got the room, do; the less packed everything is, the crispier the potatoes will be.) Then drizzle some more oil over, making sure everything's glossy and well slicked (but not dripping), sprinkle with the salt, and bake for about 45 minutes.
When done (and test all the component parts), strew over the parsley and - I always do this - serve straight from the baking dishes.

What I did:

I only used one 9 x 13 pyrex pan
Used two large chicken  breast halves on the bone
Marinated the meat in Penzeys Greek seasoning, lemon juice, water and olive oil
Used one onion
Used 4 garlic cloves
No red pepper
2 potatoes, cut in sixths.
1/2 pound smoked sausage cut in 4 pieces.
Baked at 375 covered for 45 minutes, uncovered 20 minutes.

Was this good - Yes.  Would I make it again - yes yes yes.  There is a point where the fork of potato with a leaf of onion and a tiny nip of smoked sausage and some chicken  breast becomes the entire purpose of this meal.  The garlic sas in there but had disappeared by the time everything was done.

chicken breasts these days seem to run freaking huge.  This tames them, keeps them moist and tender.

ps - italian sausage is awfully good here as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stripped down and Ready for Action

For years I have been making Macaroni and Cheese.  And for years I have tweaked, nudged and otherwise tried to simplify and streamline a recipe that satisfies my own deep need for Mac & Cheese.  I think this is it. 

I have tried other methods but for me it has to be baked and it has to start with a bechamel.

                                              Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Servings  : 6    
2  cups  macaroni
2  tablespoons  butter
1  tablespoon  olive oil
2  tablespoons  flour
1/4   teaspoon  garlic powder
1/4   teaspoon  cayenne
1/2   teaspoon  dry mustard
1/2   teaspoon  garlic powder
1 tablespoon  chicken bouillon -- I use Tones Chicken Base
3 cups  2% low-fat milk (what was in the fridge - could be evapo or whole)
1 cup  cottage cheese -- pureed (optional)
8 ounces  sharp cheddar cheese -- grated
1 ounce  Velveeta -- diced

In a large pot, boil macaroni until done.  Drain and set aside.
In the now empty pot melt Butter and olive oil.  Add flour.  Cook. 
Add seasonings and chicken base to the flour/butter blend.
Add milk slowly, whisking, bring to simmer. This will be a very thin bechamel.
Add Cottage cheese, cheese and Velveeta.  Heat to melt and blend cheeses but don't get all obsessive about it.
Stir in macaroni.
Turn out into large buttered baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbly, brown and delicious.

Important things here are the chicken base, the dry mustard and the cayenne.  this really brings out the cheesiness.  The pureed cottage cheese can be replaced with sour cream or cream cheese.  What is important is the depth of dairy it brings to the sauce.  The Velveeta keeps the whole thing from going grainy.

With steamed fresh broccoli on the side this is lovely for Lent or any time.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let the Good Times Roll - Mardi Gras

  A big bowl of smothered goodness
                   Chicken and Smoked Sausage Etouffee
Servings  : 6 

  1/2 pound  smoked sausage -- slice into rounds
  1 pound  chicken breast, no skin, no bone, R-T-C
                        Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1/2 cup  canola oil
  1/2 cup  all-purpose flour
  2 cups  onion -- diced (2 large)
  1 cup  celery -- diced (4 ribs)
  1 cup  green bell pepper -- diced (1 large)
  4 cloves  garlic -- minced
  12 ounces  beer -- (12-ounce)
  4 cups  chicken broth
  2 bay leaves
  2 tablespoons  paprika
  1 Pinch  cayenne pepper
  1 cup  fresh flat-leaf parsley -- chopped , garnish
  1/2 cup  green onions -- diced, garnish
  6 cups  cooked rice -- for serving

Set a Dutch oven over medium heat and add a 2-count of olive oil.  Season chicken with plenty of salt and pepper and add skin side down to the pan. Cook over medium heat to render fat for 7 to 10 minutes, then turn to brown both sides of the chicken. Remove and set aside.
With the pot over medium heat add oil, then add flour. Cook until it is nice and brown (you want a Peanut butter colored roux), about 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the vegetables then cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes to sweat out some of the moisture.  Add the Sausage and the Spices.   Deglaze the pot with the stock and beer. Return the chicken pieces to the pot and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken pieces from pot to a cutting board and shred the meat. Discard the bones and return the meat to the pot. Add  the sausage into the pot amongst chicken to heat through.
Give it all a final taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over hot buttered rice and garnish with plenty of parsley and scallions and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

2010 : I used 4 large chicken thighs(about 1 1/2 lbs) and 1/2 lb of light smoked sausage for this and seemed to have a nicely balanced, meaty gravy.  I did not chop the vegetables in the food processor but opted for a chunkier vegetable presence.  Also garnished with a sprinkling of smoked paprika.  Any more sausage and it may have been to grease-laden and the andouille available around here has never been to our taste.
Used chicken breast, omitted the beer and used 1 T. Penzey's Cajun spice blend instead of the salt, pepper, and spices.  Left all the veg chunky.

A Domestic Comedy

Last Thursday I discovered a small rubber piece on the floor under the door to my new dishwasher.  I knew what it was.  When I opened the door there was no resistance and it would have dropped like a stone to the floor had I not held on.

Okay - dishwasher was purchased in June, full warranty still in effect.  Call for service.

Punch in the numbers for "Blue Crew" Service.  Menu tree.  Make a choice, Menu Tree.  Make another choice.  Person.  Unfortunately distance (the other side of the world) makes communication difficult plus it seems like the call agents have set scripts that they cannot deviate from, which only adds to the confusion.  After repeating "warranty service call" several times I am again transferred.

The next person I reach seems to be on this side of the planet.  I explain that the small rubber band broke that connects at the bottom of the washer door and that it was the one on the right side.  I supply my model number and serial number and the number on my original receipt proving that this is indeed covered under the one year warranty.  The appointment is made for the following Monday between 1pm and 5pm.

Sunday - robocall warning me that I will be responsible for any costs incurred during this service call.

Monday, 1pm.  Nothing
Monday, 2pm.  Nothing
Monday, 3pm.  Nothing
Monday, 3:20.  Phone rings.  Service man says they will be here shortly.  "They?"  It's a little rubber band for heavens sake.

Two guys show up at 3:45.  I show them the broken piece.  They say they were not aware that this was a repair visit, they thought it was routine maintenance.  They are very pleasant, though.  One guy proceeds to take the kick plate off the dishwasher while the other boots up his computer and makes call.  It seems that they do not have the piece.  The appliance parts store does not have the piece.  No one in a 15 mile radius has the piece.  I am tempted to offer them the purple rubber bands off broccoli bunches, which might work.  I explain, once again, that this is under warranty and I want it fixed.  One of the guys responds that this piece is always breaking and not having it will not effect the performance of the dishwasher, he recommends just removing them both.  No, I Want It Fixed.  And because I had the foresight to purchase the stupid 3 year maintenance and service contract (an indulgence that has paid off the three times I've done it with appliances)I will be wanting it fixed each time it breaks.

So they order the part and a spare for the other side (at my insistence, which will probably cost me).  And because the part is mailed (yep, mailed) it may be a week or more getting here.  So call...............Whoa buster,  I am not going through call tree hell again.  We will set the appointment now.

So, next Monday between 8am and Noon, I will be waiting for the repairmen.

I still do not know why it took two of them.