Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hash, High School and His Family

My son graduated high school…YAY!  I have to (hate to) admit, but there have been a few times over the course of the last couple of years that I wasn’t so sure he would make it.  Not that it is entirely his fault, we moved him around a lot during the past few years and I think he figured that his social skills were more needed than his brain skills.  Not that he didn’t take a fairly impressive course of acedemics during the course of his high school years;  IB (that’s stands for International Baccalaureate) Bio, the year he took two math courses, Algebra 2 and Physics…that’s the year I told him he was insane.  And maybe that’s what happened, because this year he took Choir, Drama, IB Film, Arthurian Legend, along with the required Government/Economics.  And he passed.  By the hair (hairs) on his chiny chin chin.  Oh, he did fine in Choir and Drama, but the rest of his grades sucked big time.  But graduate is graduate, and now he has to do what the big boys do and FIND A JOB and to continue on to college.
So up for his graduation ceremony comes my FIL and his wife.  I have friends who are big time foodies and will eat anything I put in front of them, and then there are those that think that Mimi’s Cafe and Olive Garden offer good eats (no offense if you think the same, to each their own) so exotic flavors are not going to be showing up at the dinner table.   The good news is, I can make a pretty big impression just by making a rotisserie chicken.
“You actually can make that at home?” my FIL asks “we always buy ours at Sam’s Club”.  Yep, you can  actually make that at home…
Sunday dinner is always a fairly big dinner, we called it our “red meat, red wine” dinner.  So I decided to rotisserie a Prime Rib that I had bought and froze during the Christmastime Prime Rib give-away.  Really, everyone has Prime Rib on sale during Christmas and New Years, it’s the meat of choice for holiday dinners.  Since I go out for Christmas Eve, and went out this year for New Years Eve,  I froze my treasure.
When I freeze meats, chicken, or fish, I always use my Seal-a-Meal. This handy dandy device removes all the air from the bags which allows the food to stay in the freezer for up to a year with no ill effect.  The worse thing for frozen food is air; air and moisture cause freezer burn.  And while food that has suffered freezer burn is still edible, it’s not very pretty and usually has lost a lot of its moisture.  There of course is a cost ($$) for using this, but for me it’s more than worth it.  I buy in bulk, portion it, seal-a-meal it, freeze it and when it comes time for thawing it, I throw it into a cold pot of water and it thaws quickly.  They do say that you can reuse the bags, but YUCK…I don’t think so.  I can’t imagine putting new chicken into an old chicken bag, no matter how fastidiously I washed it.
There may also be a psychological childhood memory that prohibits me from reusing bags.  We had a neighbor, and she would recycle her zip top bags, baggies, plastic shopping bags, whatever.  She always had wet bags hanging all over the kitchen.  She also “recycled” grease.  Not just cooking oil, like you used to fry some fries in, but grease.  Like bacon grease (o.k. to save some, great on green beans, or to flavor some potatoes) but she would have a big can, with multiple kinds of grease in it.  Bacon, sausage, meatloaf drippings, anything that rendered fat got put into that can.  Then she would take a big old spoon of it and use it to cook.  UGK…makes me want to vomit.
Our Prime Rib roast dinner was tasty.  I served it along with some twice cooked potatoes (using some blue cheese as the cheesy part); and introduced them to Fava beans.  They loved them, although after having them help in the double shelling process, I’m pretty sure they will never make them at home.  So now, what to do with the left-over roast?
I love French Dip sandwiches.  And prime rib French dip sandwiches are the best. Unfortunately, my husband “carved” the roast in such a way as to make it impossible to slice it.  So it was decided Sunday morning when he asked for some Corned Beef Hash.  Well, I don’t have any corned beef, but I do have some prime rib.  And so it was done.

Roast Beef Hash






LindySez:  Cheers to all our graduates and the future of America.

Dinner Possible X's 2

Is your weather as crazy as mine?  One day it’s near 80 degrees and the next day it’s cold and rainy.  Makes it hard to really get into the mood, or even know which wardrobe to pull from.

I planted my garden last weekend, and it’s also confused; although admittedly the lettuces are doing great, as well as peas and Fava beans.  Have you ever had Favas (and not necessarily with some liver and a nice Chianti)? If you pick them small enough you don’t need to double peel them.  But I’ll write more about them in a Dare to Prepare.


This doesn't have anything to do with this particular story, just a random picture of my mother, and my granddaughter, with my son putting together her new BBQ. Everyone needs a BBQ, IMHO.

For now I have a couple of Dinner Possible ideas; quick cooking although they both require some marinating time, so plan for that.  And both are intended for the outdoor grill, but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, can easily be made on the stove using a grill pan, or in the oven, using the broiler.  So happy cooking!

Menu 1

Teriyaki Tuna Steaks with Grilled Pineapple

Ginger – Scented Jasmine Rice



Menu 2

Indonesian Style BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes

or

Ginger Carrot Risotto

(If you don’t know or are uncomfortable with risotto, check out the risotto Dare to Prepare!)

LindySez – I’m ready for warm weather…you?


Cheers

Some Herbs + Chicken Breasts + Pasta = Dinner Possible

Caught between spring and winter here.  Can’t wait for the summer months to come, and I know, by the end of them, I’ll once again be looking forward to some rain and cold.  But for now, enough is enough.  Not being satisfied with the weather…I think it’s just the nature of our beast.
So here I am, another gloomy day, wishing I could grill something on the BBQ but knowing that water and fire don’t mix.  Besides, I’m really not fond of raindrops falling on my head when I cook.  Still I want to keep my dinner light, but also want it to have that cold weather, rib sticking satisfaction factor.  What to do? What to do?

For the light part, boneless skin-less chicken breasts are always a winner, and they have good mouth feel too.  Sprinkle on some herbs and saute them…good start.  Now for the rest.
What better says summer than zucchini?  Mine are a few months away, so I can enjoy them intermittently from now until I’m so sick of them that I want to scream…last year I had so many and I couldn’t even give the extras away.  It was punishment, I’m sure, from complaining too loudly in previous years about our dismal crop.

Another great taste of summer is basil.  OK, I have the light and the summer parts, now I need the hearty.  For that I decided to use penne pasta and part-skim  ricotta (got to keep in that getting bikini ready mode).  All done in about 20 minutes, from start to finish.  Easy and tasting good.  Something I think the whole family will enjoy, although for those of you with small children, it may take you slightly longer then 20 minutes if your children want to help…in whatever manner they feel is appropriate to your not paying attention to them.

Herbed Chicken Breast with Pasta, Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil

 


Dinner Possible

Serve this with a chardonnay if you are into the wine thing.  Something with just a little malolactic fermentation.  One without too much oak (I always say, if you want to taste a lot of oak, lick the barrel.) This uses the paired weight theory of  pairing food and wine.  Or try a French Pouilly-Fuisse; same principle.  Or you might want to step into Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio land.  This keeps the dish, and the wine, in the same general region using the wine pairing philosophy of what grows where the wine grows, will go with the wine that grows there.

LindySez: Cheers!  Dinner Possible – done!

Chardonnay - Affinities and Conflicts

Profile: The best Chardonnay for food pairing will be a full-bodied one, that has gone through some malolactic-fermentation with good acid and fruit flavors like apple, pineapple, melon and mango.  A full-bodied Chardonnay will have a buttery or honey finish.  It will feel full in your mouth, almost fatty or chewy.
Some Chardonnay is put in oak barrels for long periods of time, imparting a deep wood flavor.  These wines are not the best to pair with food as the wood is likely to overpower the flavor of the dish being served.
Preparation: Chardonnay goes best with simple presentations such as grilling, roasting or sauteing in butter or olive oil.
Works well with Chardonnay

Likes (Meats and Proteins)


Crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops

Salmon, sea bass, Monkfish

Chicken, Turkey

Pork, Veal, Rabbit

Dislikes

Anchovies, sole, tuna

beef





A salad of mango, papaya and avocado is very Chardonnay friendly

Likes (Vegetables,and fruits)

Avocado

corn/polenta, sweet potatoes,  fennel, summer squash, spinach

green olives,  mushrooms

pineapple

Dislikes

artichokes, asparagus, green beans

limes





Sometimes you feel like a nut, and this is nuts. I needed a Chardonnay!

Likes (Nuts)

Almonds, pine-nuts, pecans


Dislikes

Doesn’t really dislike any nuts, must be from California :)





Basil

Likes (Herbs and Spices and other flavorings)

Basil, chives, garlic

nutmeg, saffron, tarragon

butter, cream, mayonnaise


Dislikes

Cilantro, dill

cinnamon

barbeque sauce





Making cheese fondue

Likes (Cheeses)

Asiago, Jack, mozzarella


Dislikes

Blue, Camembert



LindySez: But remember, there are thousands of foods, and almost as many presentations, so I can’t mention them all.  I am choosing the most common foods and flavors, if you seen one, like sweet potato, you can pretty safely bet that other foods within the same family will work with, or against that wine.
If something is not specifically mentioned in Like or Dislike; think of it as being neutral.
Cheers to happy food and wine pairing.

My Award?

OK…here’s the thing.  One of my very good cyber friends, although we have met in person, started a blog called Funny or Snot.  Now that right there should tell you something about Poppy and how her mind works, and that kind of mind that she has is exactly why I told her that she should write a blog.  She is funnier than shit and simply tells it like it is.
I’ve met Poppy a couple of times, but the first time was on a cruise that I took with her and 12 other women who all met on-line.  After verifying that we were all in fact women and no one was a stalking dirty old man, we set off to the great Bahamas on a 3 day Carnival Fun Ship.  Now, one thing everyone who went on this journey will tell you (I hope) is that I DO know how to have me some fun.

Lindy Dancing with the Waiters

And one thing they might tell you about Poppy is, it wasn’t the ship rocking as much as it was the 6+ welcome drinks that were bought for her by those very cute boys that made her a little ti ti that night.

Yes, one of many!

And funny enough, Poppy didn’t seem to suffer any of the ills of the sea when she was in the Casino.  Yes girl, show me the money!




Now this assignment, is, I guess to disclose 7 things about yourself.  Since I write mostly about food and wine; I don’t normally get the ability to show my more creative writing style…but I will attempt to tell you 7 things that you may, or may not, find interesting.
1. I do like to drink wine.  It’s one of the reasons I like to cook.  So I can drink wine.  It’s the reason I like to entertain.  So I can drink wine.  I like wine (and a vodka soda or two).
2 I hate Rachel Ray.  I don’t know her personally, but if I did, I think I would tell her to shut the fuck up. Why does she have to prattle on so?  And that nobody, in the real world, could make what she makes in 30 minutes.  And she’s so lucky that everything is exactly where she left it.  That never happens in my house, I spend more time looking for things then I do using them.
3. When I’m cooking, my kitchen is in varying degrees of chaos.  I do like to clean as I go, but don’t always have time. And when I have a dinner party, the food is prepared well in advance to give me plenty of time to clean before guests arrive. I’m a little anal about how my kitchen looks when people are coming over.  A little?  OK…a lot.
4.  When my husband is on the road, cooking becomes secondary to my real life.  My son and I love to have Mac n Cheese (yes, right out of the box, cause it’s the cheesiest ), smoked pork chops and some streamed green beans, this is comfort food.
5. I cook better and am more creative after I have had said glass of wine or cocktail.  It’s also why #3 happens.
6. I do love that my friends, family and even some of the top chefs in town think I’m an awesome cook.  But it would be nice if more of them actually invited me over for dinner.  I don’t care if it’s delivery pizza, it’s all about sitting down and sharing.
7. My husband, while encouraging me to write the LindySez blog, does not read it.  He’s waiting for my next blog – LindySex. That one I think he’ll read.
So now I’m supposed to pass this on to other fellow bloggers.  And if I knew any I could pass it on to, I would, like a hot potato.  But I don’t, so it ends here.

LindySez ~ Cheers, to all is fair in love, war and blogging.  Love you Poppy!

Wok Smoked Mussels

That’s right.  That’s what I’m talking about.  The marvelously delicious and so easy to prepare mussel.
Saturday afternoon.  My honey gets a hankering for some mussels.  Well, we could go to a restaurant and pay anywhere from $15 to $20 per person, and then of course we would have to get a bottle of wine to go with, so I say, I’ll just make them here at home.  They really are easy.  Once we decide on the preparation (Wok Smoked from a recipe I got from our friend Chef Arnold Wong of Baccars in San Francisco) we are ready to go get our ingredients.  Which are pretty darn simple;  mussels, a Serrano pepper, some garlic and some white wine (or you could use sake if you wanted to).  Get a wok, or wide pan, and you are almost ready to go.
First we went to Whole Foods to get the mussels.  I got what sounded like plenty, 2 dozen, but once we got home I thought that didn’t look like enough to make a meal.  So I sent hubby to get some more; he went to another market.  Now the ones we got from Whole Foods were wild, the ones we got from the other market were farm raised.  Each one has to be treated just a bit different.
Farm raised mussels are raised on netting, they attach themselves to the nets to grow and are pretty much clean inside since they don’t really get down into the sandy floor bed.  But the wild ones, they do get sand and grit in them. And nobody really wants to eat sand and grit.   So you need to soak them for about a half an hour to allow them to expel their sand.  You will find sites that tell you to soak them in cold water with cornmeal mixed in…haven’t found that to be too convenient or effective.  Then there are those that tell you to soak them in fresh cold water to allow them to breath; and as they breath they release the sand and grit.  Well, this sounds good in principal, but mussels live in the sea, and fresh water would kill them.  And you don’t want to cook dead mussels.  So do soak them, but soak them in very salty (like the sea) water, for no more than 1/2 hour.  And keep the water cold, in the refrigerator works.  As far as those farmed mussels, take them out of whatever plastic wrapper the idiot behind the fish counter put them in and place them in a large bowl covered with a damp (not wet, just damp) cloth.  You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to a day, but it’s best if you cook them sooner, like within a few hours.
Whether you are cooking with wild, or farmed, when you are ready to cook, you need to give them a good washing.  You don’t really have to “scrub” them, unless you plan on eating the shells, and the shells really aren’t very good to eat.  Wash them and look for the “beard”, a fuzzy stringy thing that sticks out of the opening of the shell.  This is what they attach themselves with.  You could eat it if you wanted to, but they are better without it.  Not all, but most will have one.  To remove this, take your fingers or a pair of needle nose pliers and pull that off, toward the small hinge end of the mussel.  Once again, this is to keep the mussel alive by not yanking that across the inside; which can tear the mussel and kill it.  You don’t want to cook already dead mussels.
OK…the mussels are soaked, cleaned and ready to cook.  Wait a second.  One more small step.  You want to make sure the mussel is alive before you cook it.  If they are tightly closed, that’s good.  Sometimes they are slightly open, breathing.  Give the shell a tap, if it closes up, good to go.  If if doesn’t, it’s dead, throw it away.
NOW, you are ready to cook them.


Wok Smoked Mussels

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Q7aKhBSC8



Did I get the flame?  No, I did not.  And with wine, you have to really really get it the first time as the alcohol burns off quickly.  I really should have used better matches; but this was kind of an impromptu production.  I started getting ready to cook and told my husband “We should really film this” so we did.
We served this with a Pinot Gris and some crusty bread that we toasted and then rubbed with cloves of garlic.  It was a perfect Saturday afternoon lunch.
Mussels are high in protein and low in fat.  They are also very cost effective because unlike clams, their shells are very light so there is a good “shell to meat” ratio.

LindySez: I hope you flex your “mussels”.

BTW – they make a great appetizer at a dinner party, and require no silverware.  You can use one side of the shell to spoon the mussel out of the other side of the shell.

Also remember, if the mussel doesn’t open once it’s cooked…it’s not good to eat.  Throw it AWAY!

Cheers to Sweet Molly Malone


When the Oil doesn't matter - Chocolate Banana Muffins

Even good cooks make mistakes.  And sometimes it’s a good mistake and teaches you something.  Like it did today.
Although I was having a super busy day, while wiping down the kitchen I spied those really really ripe bananas sitting on the counter.  UGH, they were going to be over the top soon, so in the middle of everything, I decided to make some Chocolate Banana muffins; my son has a lot of friends staying over since school is over, and I thought they might enjoy those to have in the morning (who am I kidding, it’s 1:00 p.m. and I think I finally hear them moving about).  So I bring up my recipe on the computer and get most of the stuff out of the pantry; flour, baking powder, you know, the pantry stuff.  And the stuff out of the refrigerator; eggs and milk and start up the oven.  Mixing and sifting and smashing.  Now into the prepared pan; I pop them into the oven.  As I’m just beginning to clean up I realize, I didn’t add the oil.  That’s because the oil was already out, and I didn’t put it where the other ingredients were, it was out side of my mis en place, it was misplaced.  Crap.  So I grab the muffin tin out of the oven and scrape the batter out of the muffin cups and back into the bowl; all except one.  I decided to see just how much difference the oil would make after all my work of scraping and reworking the batter.  You know what?  It made very little difference at all.  Both were moist; although admittedly the ones with the oil were a little lighter, I don’t think you would really notice if you weren’t doing a side by side comparison.  So I guess the bottom line is; if you want to cut back on oil and calories, omit the oil in this recipe.  They are still good.
Chocolate Banana Muffins

Chocolate Banana Muffins

LindySez - There’s always something to learn.  It’s why I love to cook.  Cheers