Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A great Summer Garden Dinner Party

As I work through thinking about having my own web-site, and having posted on this blog site for a few weeks now; I’m wondering if I can’t just save some money and still accomplish my goal. What is my goal you might ask…it’s to share cooking secrets, tips, techniques, recipes, menu ideas, food, wine, travel…well, just about everything there is to do with cooking, wine, entertaining and travel. This whole idea started years ago when my good friends Dave & Helen and Erin & Doug said I gave the best dinner parties; and when some local rather popular chefs came to my house and told me it was simply the best home-cooked meal they had ever had…so my husband, full of faith and love encouraged me to find an outlet to show my skills. I thought we could do a web-site LindySez, and through that I would be able to post everything I wanted…but you know what? Every time I discuss my intentions, it cost $$$, and more $$$ until I’m left with just a shell of what I intended. So I’m going to try to do this right here…some of my links are going to take you to another site…and I’m going to see if you can get in and view my posts without having to sign-up for an account there…so here goes…my first link to GroupRecipes, a pretty neat little site that allows me to put in and share my recipes…and build out my party menus…then I can just blog it up here…and voila…$15000.00 saved…and as my Mama always said…a penny saved is a penny saved…

Summer Garden Dinner Party

The idea behind this dinner was to use what is fresh and available right now. So let’s experiment…check it out. The name in the site, SoSousMe, was LindySez…before LindySez became LindySez.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Again with the Zucchini, Let them eat Cake

So gone for a few days and what happen? No not that, zucchini. Many many zucchini. So what to do? How about make a Chocolate Zucchini Cake? Well, I actually made Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes, because they are more portable and easier to pack in the lunch box, and no worries, this is one way EVERYONE will enjoy eating their veggies...
This recipe was sent to me by my friend Christine...Thanks Chris!
Everything is made in a food processor; but if you don't have one, use a mixer, or even do it the old fashioned hand.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

For the Cake
2 1/2 cups unsifted all purpose flour
4 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (I like Ghirardelli)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (use real, not imitation vanilla, it really does make a difference)
1/2 cup sour milk (mix 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar to the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes) or buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
1/2 cup oil (I used extra virgin olive oil for it's heat healthy properties, and no, you can't taste it)
2 cups coarsely chopped or grated zucchini
For the Frosting
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons evaporated milk
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 - 3 cups confectioners (also known as powdered) sugar
Chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
Make the cake (or cupcakes):
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and a pinch of salt), mix with a fork and set aside.
In a food processor, process the eggs, sugar and vanilla until fluffy, then add the butter. Process about 1 minute.
With the machine running, add the milk and oil. Stop and add the zucchini, pulse until mixed. Add the dry ingredients and process with pulses until the flour disappears. Do not over process.
Pour into a greased and floured cake rounds or 9 x 13 cake pan (Chris' tip - she uses cocoa powder to "flour" her pan - adds more flavor and better color) LindySez - good tip Chris. Or ladle into cupcake pan (muffin tin that has paper inserts ) fill about 3/4 full. Bake at 325 degrees F. the cake for about 40 - 45 minutes, cupcakes about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool then frost.
Make the frosting:
In a small pan heat the butter and evaporated milk together. Chop the chips in a food processor; with the machine running add the hot milk mixture. Add powdered sugar to make a spreadable consistency. Spread on the top of the cake, sprinkle with nuts, if desired and ENJOY!

Monday, August 17, 2009

1 - Tomato...2-Tomatoes...3 - Tomatoes...More...

Sonoma County started out cool this summer; unseasonably cool. My corn crop failed to thrive, my tomatoes refused to ripen, only the squash was happy with the weather; it was prolific, giving me more squash then I knew what to do with. Sad too, that even put out in front of the house, with a FREE sign, there were no takers.

Well now my tomatoes have finally started to ripen, and ripen and more and more. And while squash doesn't freeze well, tomatoes do, and sauces can be made and frozen to be served all winter long. But while I have these fresh, delicious heirloom tomatoes, I'm going to use them in as many ways as I can. So low in calories, and high in Lycopene, they are a super-food.

This recipe uses fresh tomatoes in the summer months, but if it's winter I would recommend canned tomatoes. Those things you buy in the grocery store all year long have no flavor at all.

Most recipes that call for peeled tomatoes tell you to plunge them into a pot of boiling water, but I find that starts to cook the tomato, this is a way that will ensure an easy to peel tomato, that is still full of flavor. Stick a fork into the stem end of the tomato, hold over the open flame or heating element on your stove, turn slowly so the skin pops; allow it to cool for a few minutes; peel the skin off. To seed it, cut it in half horizontally (across the equator so to speak)and squeeze gently, use your fingers to remove any lingering seeds.

Added plus, this recipe can be put together in 30 minutes or less.

Chicken Pasta "Stir Fry"
Makes 6 Servings

1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenders if you did your own cut up chicken and have some) cut into slices or bite sized pieces
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup white wine*
1 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup diced tomatoes, peeled and seeded
8 ounce fresh spinach
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the chicken and saute about 5 minutes; add the onion and bell pepper, continue to cook for another 10 minutes, the vegetables should be soft. Stir in the seasonings then add the wine; allow the wine to reduce by about half; add the chicken broth; bring to a simmer then add the pasta, tomatoes and spinach. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes and pasta is heated through. Spoon into warm bowls and top with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Per Serving: 446 Calories; 5g Fat (1g Sat); 31g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 44mg Cholesterol; 331mg Sodium.

LindySez: I use a lot of wine when I cook, I usually have some left over from a meal and use that; or even combine a couple of bottles together, as long as they are the same varietal it's all good. You should use either a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc for this dish. As it cooks, the alcohol burns off so it's safe for the kids; but if you do not want to cook with wine, eliminate it and add another 1/2 cup chicken broth. Do not, I repeat, do not under ANY circumstance buy or use anything called "Cooking Wine"'s horrid stuff and should be outlawed. You may, however, buy a non-alcohol wine such as Fre, Ariel or Vandalia.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Julia Child and the Impressive Breasts

I had the honor of meeting Julia Child at a reception/dinner put on by PBS. They were honoring her and Jacques Pepin for their show, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, and the release of their companion book. A grand lady, full of life and smiles. I watched in awe as these two icons of cooking were on-stage, in a living room setting, glasses of wine in hand, exchanging an easy banter of "pepper" preferences (Julia preferring white pepper, and Jacques black) and other cooking techniques.

As guests of the wine sponsor, Kendall-Jackson, we were seated in a cat's bird seat, one table from Julia herself. Dinner was being served, it was Duck, specifically, it was duck breasts, more specifically, it was HUGE duck breasts. They were not artfully cut into slices and displayed, they simply were, a breast on a plate with something else that I can't even remember because the breasts were so HUGE! I watched with interest as the plate was placed in front of Julia, her eyes got very large as she stared down into the plate and quipped "Oh my, that is a VERY impressive breast."

I found out later, from a kitchen worker that the catering manager was going along the line looking at all the breasts and actually removing those he found to be too small; he wanted BIG breasts. Well, sometimes big isn't always better.

After dinner I decided I could not pass on the opportunity to speak to Mrs. Child; I had to tell her of her influence on me, how she helped me get over any fear I might have had to try something new with cooking. She greeted me warmly as I sat in an empty chair next to her. As I spoke with her, she was so gracious, like it was nothing at all, or the that it was the very least she could do, but none the less, was you could tell she was happy to hear that she had influenced me. Then, I couldn't help it..."I'm sure you saw the Saturday Night Live bit featuring you" I inquired. "Oh my yes" she said, "I found it to be hilarious, Mr. Ackroyd did a fantastic job of being me, don't you think?"...that was Julia, making sure she brought me into the conversation. Yes, Mrs. Child, I thought he did you fine. But you will always be, one in a million.

In honor of the Impressive Breasts...

Duck 2 Ways with Port-Cherry Sauce

4 duck breasts*

4 duck leg/thigh combos*

1 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 cup Sherry

12 frozen dark cherries, unsweetened, thawed and halved

1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)

1 cup beef stock

1/2 cup ruby port

1 fresh thyme sprig

1 teaspoon corn starch, disolved in watr

1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut 1" thick

Whisk the soy sauce and sherry in a medium bowl to blend. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart in the duck skin, but not into the meat. Place the duck, skin side up, in a baking dish and pour the marinade over. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours. (Conversely, you can put this all in a zip top bag, remove a much air as possible and seal; place in a baking dish, in case of leaks - this is my preferred method to marinate anything).

After the marinating time is up, remove the leg/thigh combo. Heat the oven to 400; put the leg/thighs into a baking dish, cover with foil and bake 1 hour, uncover and bake 1 hour more.

Meanwhile, bring the cherries, chicken and beef stock, port and thyme sprig to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; place the duck breast, skin side down, in the skillet. Cook until the skin is crispy, about 10 minutes; turn and continue to cook to desired degree of doneness (duck breast should be medium to rare, do not overcook or it will tough).

Add the cornstarch mixture to the port/cherry sauce; whisking constantly add the butter, a piece at a time; taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper (in honor of Julia, let's use white pepper)

Place a leg/thigh on each plate. Slice the breast and fan out. Spoon the port/cherry sauce over and serve.

*You can buy your own duck and cut them yourself...just follow the simple instructions in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking or Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques. Or ask your butcher to do it for you.

Excellent with some Wild Rice and Green Beans with Almonds.

To serve with: Pinot Noir, either a fruit forward one, or a more Burgundian style. They will both play nice with the richness of the duck and the sweetness of the sauce.

As Julia would say: Bon Appetite.

As LindySez: Cheers and enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cutting the Bird

In this day, when people are driving miles out of their way to find gas that’s a few cents cheaper by the gallon (and really, 3 cents per gallon only adds up to 30 cents on 10 gallons) doesn’t it make sense to buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself? A whole cut up chicken runs anywhere from $2.89 per pound on up. And if you want boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it’s upwards to $5.99 per pound. So when you find chicken on sale, or go to your local big box store, buy in bulk, do it yourself and save some big $$$. My 8 chickens cost me @ $1.39 per pound (this was at a good local store, for while not organic but substantially raised chickens); $67.00; if I had bought Foster Farms at Costco (and there’s nothing wrong with Foster Farms, they just use antibiotics in their feed - and if I can avoid that, I will) it would have been less than $40.00. Out of that I got conservatively, 16 meals and chicken wings for a big game party snack; PLUS a tasty stock that is going to be oh, sooooo good, better than anything you can buy in the store; damn, I think it’s a pretty good deal.

Think it’s hard to cut up a chicken, and/or make stock? Think again. I am not a trained chef, and while I can maybe do it a tad bit faster than you on the get-go, in time, you will be able to deconstruct a chicken in no time. And the only time it takes to make stock, is cooking time (we’ll talk more about that tomorrow). For now, check out how to cut up the bird, right here, right now.

LindySez – You can do it!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Big Box Store AKA the $500.00 Store

Today was the monthly trek to the big box store, also known here as Costco and also known to me as the $500.00 store. Granted a lot of that is taken up with toilet paper, dish detergents, laundry detergent, snacks for the snack drawer (today was Kashi Bars, Snickers Bars and dried mango) well as that to wet the parched teenage mouth, Monster and Arizona Teas; but it also included meat. I always have a pretty well stocked pantry, if we were stuck in the house for a month, I think we could not only survive but we would eat rather well. But the freezer meat is sometimes left to dwindle down. If I find items in my local stores on sale, I'll buy it... like I did today with my chicken. And while I totally support making a smaller carbon footprint by buying local, substantially raised and organic when possible... my pocket book doesn't allow it; so Costco to the rescue. Today, along with my chicken, which I will deconstruct tomorrow and make my chicken stock; I also bought a whole beef tenderloin; pork tenderloin, tri-tip and trout. Each of these will be broken down into manageable portions, frozen in my seal-a-meal freezer safe bags, and put away until needed.

My thinking is this - it makes good economic sense to buy your food in bulk and then become your own butcher. Each chicken I bought (and I bought 8 of them) becomes at least 2 meals, one of boneless skinless chicken breasts,(and we all know how much you pay for boneless skinless chicken breasts right? About $5.99 ++ per pound, and I got mine for $1.39 per pound) a dinner of legs and thighs, (usually anywhere from $1.89 on up per pound if already cut up); and the wings for a snack... (how about wings on game day? Football season is almost here)...and then I still have the bones to make a great rich stock, that I can dress up with carrots, celery, noodles or rice and chopped chicken meat for a soup; flavor with lemongrass, green onions and ginger to make the base for Pho soup, or just make gravy . I'll talk more about making stock tomorrow when I talk about how easy it is to cut up a chicken. The tenderloin of beef, while the price is initially intimidating; about $50.00 makes at least 6 meals for my family, including steaks, a tenderloin roast, pieces of meat for a stir-fry and more pieces with the fat that can be processed in the food processor to make ground beef. But think about it for a minute, if you decide to have steak and go to the store to buy it, I know my fillet runs about $20.00 per pound, so to get if for $7.99 per pound and cut it yourself? Well, it's pretty self-explanatory . I was checking today, boneless center cut pork chops - already cut up - $2.99 per a whole roast - $1.89 per pound. And you are in charge...cut a proper portion...not the 10 ounce portions they cut for you...cut them thin for Wienerschnitzel, or thick and stuff are in control...and saving money too. What do you need to do this? A sharp knife...that's it.

So today, having this wonderful tenderloin now cut into portions, I'm going to make an easy Spice Rubbed Filet on Bruchetta with Heirloom Tomatoes. This and a simple salad and it's another easy tasty dinner; using lean, tender beef and heirloom tomatoes. Yum!

Let's start with the rub: In a bowl combine 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher preferred); 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves (crumble them between your fingers into a fine powder); 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (also crumbled); 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

You will also need 4 (about 4 ounce trimmed) tenderloin steaks

2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

4 nice slices of French bread (about 1/2 to 1 inch thick)

Salt and pepper

Now rub the rub (and you might not need all the rub) all over the steaks, both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let them sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Put the diced tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, stir in the garlic and a nice pinch of salt and pepper, toss and let sit for 30 minutes.

Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil - set aside.

Lightly coat your grill with oil; set it to high. Put the steaks on the grill and grill about 3 minutes per side, or to your desired degree of doneness. Remove and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Letting the meat sit allows the juices to return to the center, that way when you cut into them, the redness doesn't come gushing out.

Put the bread on the grill and toast, turning until lightly toasted on both sides.

Place a slice of bread on each plate, top with 1/4 of the tomato mixture, using only the tomatoes, leave the juice in the bowl, you want crisp, not soggy. Put 1 steak on top and serve.

Per Serving: 293 Calories; 11g Fat; (3g Sat); 28g Protein; 20g Carbohydrates; 2g Dietary Fiber; 59mg Cholesterol; 469mg Sodium.

Serve with? CABERNET!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Too many tomatoes???

My good friend David wrote: "I have a wife and I impulsively bought a bunch of heirloom tomatoes this weekend. Too many. I have about 10 medium sized ones and have no idea what to do with them. Any great ideas???" David and Helen

There is a lot that can be done with tomatoes; at the end of the season, when all of my 23 tomato plants give me a plethora of different sizes and colors, we eat a lot of tomatoes; and I make a lot of sauce; stacking container after container into the freezer to use throughout the winter months. But 10 medium tomatoes won't make a lot of sauce; so here's a couple of other ideas that might interest you.

First there is the Caprese Salad - so good when made with fresh heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and some fresh basil, drizzle a little fine olive oil over the top and it's sunshine in your mouth.

Caprese Salad (Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad)

3 large heirloom tomatoes, use a variety or all the same, each sliced thickly into 4 slices
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 slices
8 large basil leaves
4 tablespoons fine extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded, (optional)

On individual plates, place one large tomato slice, top with basil and a slice of the mozzarella, repeat finishing with a tomato slice. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with additional basil, if desired and serve. Makes 4 servings

LindySez: Did you know that you should never store tomatoes in the refrigerator? It's too cold and makes them mealy. Always store them on the counter top, away from the sun, stem side down. And give them some breathing room. Don't crowd them and pile them on top of each other.

Here's another idea: How about a lovely delicious BLT? Since I'm a bacon lover, and a fresh tomato lover, and love bread...well, it's a gimme.

Fry some nice apple wood bacon, toast your favorite bread, slather on the mayo, some iceberg lettuce (this is a fine use for iceberg lettuce, you really need that crunch) and thickly sliced tomatoes...Delish...

Are you feeling ambitious? How about a tomato preserve? It's great spread on crackers with cream cheese, or crostini with some beautiful soft ricotta. Or how about on that summer barbecued burger?

Tomato Preserve

1 1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon powder (I highly recommend fresh, store unused ginger in the freezer in pieces so you can take out what you need when you need it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced (remember to use gloves or use the wash hands touch your gum trick to make sure you don't rub those hot oils into your eyes, nose or other sensitive places)

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan; bring to a boil; stir well. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture looks like a thick jam, about 1 hour or so. Taste, adjust seasonings. Cool the mixture, then put into a covered container, refrigerate for up to a week.

Makes about 1 pint.

LindySez: Hope that helps Dave and Helen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's been one of those days

Do you ever have a day where there just doesn't seem to be enough time to get through all you need to do? I know, we all have them. If only dinner time didn't always have to come at dinner time...but it does, so now I'm having to think of something quick and easy to prepare AND I don't want to have a lot of clean-up. So I'm thinking a quick pasta dish. Everyone likes pasta, right? And it's so easy to add something tasty for the "grown-ups" to enjoy; as for the little ones, well if you have them you know they enjoy just a bowl of pasta with some butter and cheese on it. I don't think my son ate sauce on his pasta until he was a about 10 and started making his "special" pasta - some previously cooked penne, fried in oil and butter, with sliced green onions and halved cherry tomatoes. Plain, but good. And he could do it himself! It was his invention and he took great pride in telling chefs we met all about his "special pasta." I remember at a Gourmet Weekend, the one and only they held in Napa at Copia, when he and Rocco Dispirito got into a deep pasta discussion. Rocco made him feel very special and really truly was interested (or appeared interested) in what Trevor had to say.

So tonight I will make a simple, elegant pasta dish. This whole thing should take less than 30 minutes. It calls for scallops, but if you don't like them, you could use shrimp. If you don't like shrimp...well, then what's the matter with you? OK...I have some friends who don't like anything that swims, so for them, try chicken...chicken...

This dish will work well with either a Chardonnay (not a big oaky butter bomb unless that's what you like, LindySez will always tell you to drink what you like, but if you want to taste the wine rather than kiss a barrel, try one that is not overly oaked) or a Sauvignon Blanc. Whichever one you choose, use that one in the recipe.

Lemon Fettuccine with Sauteed Scallops

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (try to always use fresh pepper, it really does make a difference because the oils are fresh)
1 pound large sea scallops
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot minced
1/2 cup white wine (whichever you are drinking, or if you are not drinking wine, whatever you have in the refrigerator left-over from that last time you didn't finish that bottle)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (peel)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (zest the lemon and then juice it)
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces fettuccine - cooked according to package directions - 1/2 cup pasta water reserved
1/3 cup chopped parsley - flat-leaf preferred

When you look at a scallop, it usually has a little muscle where it attached itself to the shell, you can feel it as it's hard, remove that. Then cut it in half horizontally to make two disks. Rinse under cold water to remove any grit or sand, and pat dry with paper towels. In a large zip-top bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper, then add the scallops and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Discard the unused flour.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add the scallops and sear on each side until lightly browned - do not, I repeat, do not overcook or you will have a rubber disk and not a tender piece of lovely seared scallop (I swear this is why so many people say they don't like scallop is that is is notoriously overcooked); better too rare, than overcooked. Remove the scallops from the pan, wipe it clean and then melt the butter over medium heat; add the shallot; saute 1 minute; add the wine, lemon peel and lemon juice; saute for one minute. Add the pasta; toss and heat through, then remove from the heat and add the parsley. Toss to coat; adding some pasta water if it all seems a bit dry. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with the scallops, pouring any juices let on the plate over the top.

Serve this with a simple green salad with a white wine or white balsamic vinaigrette.

Put your salad ingredients in a large bowl, I like lettuce (duh); fresh tomato, some cucumber, green onions; then make a vinaigrette by combining:

2 tablespoons white wine or white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh mix herbs (you can use parsley, tarragon, thyme, oregano, alone or in a combination)
1 tablespoon water (see by cutting down on the oil, and adding the water, you don't have to do as much exercise tomorrow)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced or put through a garlic press
Salt and pepper, to taste
Just a mere pinch of sugar

Whisk well in a bowl. Pour "sparingly" over the greens and toss to combine (do not drown the salad in dressing, let the lettuce and vegetables live)

Per Serving (as a meal and with a glass of wine) 586 Calories; 6g Fat (trace Sat, 2g Mon, 1g Poly); 37g Carbohydrates; 11g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 512mg Sodium

LindySez: If you are making this with shrimp or chicken, you can bypass the flouring. And even with scallops, if you prefer not to flour, you don't have too. Just make sure everything is patted dry so it gets a little color when you saute it and doesn't just "simmer' in it's own juice. Shrimp should be pink and chicken needs to be cooked all the way though, best to use boneless skinless breast meat and look for white throughout.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's for Dinner???? BBQ Chicken Sand and Mom's Bean Salad

Saturday I made a rotisserie chicken on the BBQ, well, I mostly made a rotisserie chicken on the BBQ. I ran out of propane about half-way through the cooking process. I know, I know, have a spare tank so you can just pop the new one on and, voila, finish what you started. Well, I do have a spare tank - the trick is to have a spare tank full of propane. Doesn't do much good empty. But the oven came to the rescue and the chicken turned out nice and juicy. So now I have left-over chicken and since Monday is usually a busy catch up day, one of my favorite things to do on a Monday is make a simple sandwich for dinner, in this case it will be a BBQ Chicken Sandwich - makes good use of the left-over chicken. If you don't have any left-over chicken, it gives you a good reason to run to the local supermarket and buy one of their already prepared chickens, so available anymore.

A BBQ Chicken sandwich is good, with just the chicken and a nice sauce on a toasted bun, but it's even better with a few simple embellishments: like a slice of aged cheddar cheese, or some crisp bacon. Give it some real flavor with a nice heaping serving of caramelized onions or have some fun and make it easy with some French's French Fried Onions, you know the ones, the ones of "Green Bean Casserole" fame. Use your favorite prepared BBQ sauce, or make it yourself, I've included my favorite BBQ sauce recipe, but when feeling the laz, I like Bulls Eye Original flavor.

Serve this up with my Mom's Bean Salad or some Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes. Yum, dinner is served.

Wine Pairing: A nice fruity California Red Zinfandel is a natural with Barbecue; or a fruit forward Merlot also work nicely. But the bottom line is; drink what you like.

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

4 - 5 cups cooked chicken, shredded (or pulled as it is sometimes called)
1/2 cup or more your favorite BBQ sauce, or homemade
6 Kaiser rolls, split, or hamburger buns, or onion buns
1 can French's French Fried Onion

6 slices cheese, cheddar, Swiss, American
Cooked bacon

Put the chicken in a saute pan, mix in the BBQ sauce; heat. Toast the buns under the broiler, if desired; top with chicken mixture and pile a mound of french fried onions on top. Add one or both optional ingredients, if desired.
Per Serving: (without optional ingredients): 385 Calories; 13g Fat (4g Sat, 2g Mono, 2g Poly) 33 Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 79mg Cholesterol; 596mg Sodium.

My Favorite BBQ Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup catsup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
few drops lemon juice

Blend all the ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake shake shake. Refrigerate for a few hours at least, but best overnight. Keep refrigerated.

Mom's Bean Salad

1 (14.5 ounce) can small red beans*
1 (14.5 ounce) can red kidney beans*
1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans
2 Roma tomatoes; halved and sliced
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped**
1 (4-ounce) can roasted green chilies (such as Ortega) drained
1 large juice lime, juiced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Drain and rinse the beans. Combine along with all the other ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate a few hours at least to allow the flavors to blend. Mom likes to garnish hers with tomato wedges. Serves 8
Per Serving: 182 Calories; 1g Fat (trace Sat, trace Mono, trace Poly); 9g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 635mg Sodium.

*black beans can be substituted for either the small red beans or the kidney beans.
**OK there are a few people out there that can't stand's a love/hate relationship. And truth be known, to some people cilantro tastes like soap, and that's not good eats. So if you hate cilantro, either leave it out, or add some chopped parsley, or perhaps some arugula instead.

LindySez: See, how easy is that?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hashing it Out

To me, a good Corned Beef or Roast Beef hash is all about the meat to potato ratio and the crunch of a good crust. I like about a 50/50 meat to potato ratio, some like more meat, some more potato, but that is the beauty of doing it yourself, you are in control.

You can make hash out of left over corned beef, from the usual St. Patrick's day feast, from left over roast beef or from deli meat. Just ask the deli counter employee to cut you a slab of meat, not slices. As for the potatoes, while fresh is always best, you can also use something like Simply Potatoes, found in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets or even frozen potatoes, like Ore Ida Potatoes O'Brien. Add some onion, green pepper and a dash of spice and call it breakfast, brunch or lunch.

Make a big batch, use what you want and freeze the rest for another day.

Lindy's Corned Beef Hash

1 pound cooked corned beef or roast beef, cut into about 1 inch cubes
1 pound cooked potatoes*
1/2 of a large yellow onion, cut into chunks
1/2 of a green pepper, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons grape seed or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Put the meat into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse until finely chopped. Pour into a large bowl.

Place the potatoes into the food processor, pulse until finely chopped. Add to the meat in small amounts, stirring it in until you have the meat to potato ratio you like.

Place the onion and pepper into the food processor, pulse until finely chopped; add to meat and potato mixture. Stir in thyme, dill, salt and pepper. Taste, adjust seasonings to your liking.

Heat the oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the hash and stir; then spread out across the bottom of the pan and allow to cook until a nice crust has formed; turn and stir, spread out and allow to cook again until a nice crust has formed. This will take 20 to 30 minutes; do not cook on too high of a heat, allow to brown slowly.

If you are a traditionalist and like an egg with your hash, you can either poach one or fry one and put it on top when serving, or make an indentation into the hash when it's almost finished, crack your egg into the dent, cover the pan and let it cook.

*LindySez- If using fresh potatoes, Idaho russets work best, although a red potato can work too. If using russets, peel, cube and place into a pot of cold water to cover, bring just to a boil, simmer 2 - 3 minutes and then drain; run cold water over to stop the cooking. You want the potatoes to still be just al' dente. Not cooked through. If using Simply Potatoes or another refrigerated potato, you can just process them as indicated in the recipe. If using frozen potatoes, thaw them before processing, either in the microwave or if you've been planning ahead, in the refrigerator.

Friday, August 7, 2009

TGIF - It's Mexican Night so let's make Chili Colorado Tostadas

Ever since my husband and I have been together we have had Mexican night on Friday nights...well, ok...honestly, most every Friday night. It used to be our reward after a hard week of work; and we had a great place to go get great food, "The Burnt Tortilla" in Gardena CA. They got the whole red sauce; it's not about tomato sauce, it's about chili sauce. And the #8 was my fav, a chili Colorado enchilada with red sauce and a crispy chicken taco, rice and beans.

Since we've moved to Northern California, we have been in search of a really really good Mexican restaurant, take-out, sit-down, whatever...but they need to have a deep rich red far to no avail...weak, thin, tomatoey,with a sincere lack of full chili flavor. So, out of a need to keep my tastebuds happy and keep our Mexican nights alive, I have been making our Mexican night meals...not exactly the "reward" after a hard weeks work, but it will have to do and I'll take my "reward" another night.

One of our very favorites is Chili Colorado Tostadas. It all starts with a great Chili Colorado; I think this is one of the best (pat self on back); I hope you like it too.

LindySez: If you don't have the exact chilies listed, no worries, use what you can get, just use about the same number of them in total.

Here's a little tip: When working with chilies, use gloves to avoid getting the oils on your fingers and then accidently touching your eyes or nose (ouch) - girls, the gloves you get in your hair dye kit work great...oh, for some of you guys too, and you know who you are. If you don't have any gloves, after working with the chilies wash your hands well with soap, rinse and touch your fingers to you gums (the uppper gum in your mouth); if you feel heat, then wash them again until you don't feel anything.

Lindy's Chili Colorado

4 - 5 dried California chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 - 3 dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 - 3 Ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 pasilla chilies, stemmed and seeded
3 cups water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano, or more to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, or to taste
Chile Powder, as needed to adjust final product (I like Gehardt's)

4 - 5 pounds beef chuck, cut into medium sized cubes (not quite an inch, not quite a half inch, just a nice bite size)
1 - 2 tablespoon oil (I only use grape seed oil or olive oil, but use whatever you usually do)

Place the chilies in a sauce pan, cover with the water and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes; cover, turn off heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes. (A lot of recipes will tell you to toast the chilies before softening them, I found there is a real fine line between toasting them and ruining them; I've also found in the end product, it didn't make that much difference, so I go for the easy). After at least 30 minutes, drain the chilies, reserving the liquid. Place in a blender along with the garlic, salt, oregano, cumin and cloves along with a small amount of the cooking liquid; blend until smooth. Pass through a food mill using a medium grade disk, or a sieve to remove skins. You should now have a very smooth and rich chili sauce. Set - aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. (164 degrees C.)

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil. Season the meat well with salt and pepper; and then add to the pot all at once, you don't want to brown the meat, you just want to take the red off it and allow it to release its juices. Just stir the meat, (it will look gray not brown); once the meat has been cooked and is simmering in its own juices, add the chili sauce and the reserved liquid from steeping the chilies. Stir in the cocoa powder. If the meat is not covered, add a little water or beef broth to cover completely. Bring to a simmer, then cover tightly and place in the oven. Allow to cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is extremely tender. Using care (and mitts) remove from the oven, taste and adjust seasonings with salt, chili powder and additional chocolate, oregano or cumin, as desired.

You can eat a bowl of this, topped with some chopped onion and cheese (cheddar or cojita); serve some corn or flour tortillas alongside. Or continue on and make tostadas.

Tostada Fixings

Corn tortillas; brushed with oil and baked in a 350 degree F (178 degree C) oven for about 10 - 15 minutes or until crispy, turn a couple of times
Refried or black beans (lightly mash whole black beans)
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes, or pico di gallo
Diced onion
Sliced black olives, if desired
Gucamole, if desired
Sour Cream, if desired
Taco sauces of your choice

Place the crisp tortilla on a plate; top with refried or black beans; a nice helping of Chili Colorado, then top with the toppings of your choice. I like to add another bit of the chili on the top of the veggies, then add the Guac and sour cream.

LindySez - I hope you are liking it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zucchini Zucchini and other Squashs

Well, I have complained in the past that I have no luck with growing squash...a paltry 10 out of the 5 plants that I plant...sad sad sad...But you know what they say, be careful what you wish for (or bitch about) because you just might get it. And I do, and I do do do...squash, squash and more squash...zucchini, eight ball, plato...and while our weather here in Sonoma County is unseasonably cool, which worries the wine makers and grape growers, it has done nothing but encourage the squash.

So far I've made zucchini bread, fritters, waffles, spaghetti...I've sauteed, fried, boiled, and eaten it raw. Thank goodness tonight is "national leave your neighbor some squash" night. You steal quietly up to their porch and leave a bunch of it...HA! - Let them figure out what to do with it!

LindySez: If you are so lucky to be on the receiving end, you might want to try this tasty soup.

Curry Zucchini Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup onion, diced
2 1/2 pounds zucchini squash, or other green squash, diced
1 quart low-salt chicken broth (preferably homemade)
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fried pipetas

Sweat the onions in the olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven set over medium low heat. Add the squash, chicken broth, curry powder and ground ginger. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft, soft, soft - about 45 minutes. Carefully put the soup, in batches, in a blender, or use an immersion blender; blend until smooth. Stir in the cream, taste, add salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings as desired. Ladle into a bowl and top with pipetas.

LindySez - Enjoy.