Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rustic Lamb Stew, Crock pot style


Mmm, Lamb. I love lamb, always have. I remember my mom making baby lamb chops for me as a birthday present, a great present, as they certainly weren't cheap and we certainly weren't rich. But damn, they were good. I hear people say about lamb today, "modern lamb", that it's not as gamy tasting and not as strong smelling as it used to be. Personally, I liked the odor, liked the strong, strong flavor.
I recently found that the grocery store I frequent carries "Lamb for stew", cubes of pretty lean lamb. I bought a package and went in search of recipe. I found this one on recipezarr and gave it a try, changing up a couple of things (Mushrooms! We must have mushrooms!). I was very impressed. It has a deep woodsy flavor, hearty and very satisfying. I have made it twice more since, including once with a combination of beef and pork instead of lamb.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs boneless lean lamb stew meat, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed dry thyme leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary, crushed
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 cups of water
1 cup bite sized carrot chuncks (about 1/2 pound or more or as much as you want)
2 cups diced potatoes
1 pound Crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Method:
1. Sprinkle the lamb with 1/2 t salt and the pepper.
2. Dredge the lamb in the flour to coat.
3. Heat the olive oil in a 2 to 3 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
4. Brown lamb a few pieces at a time in the hot oil. Be sure not to crowd it while browning.
5. Remove the browned lamb to the crock pot with a slotted spoon.
6. Reduce heat under the Dutch oven to medium.
7. Add the sliced onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
8. Stir in the water scraping up browned bits on bottom of pot.
9. Transfer the onion mixture to the crock pot; add carrots, mushrooms and potatoes to the crock pot, too.
10.Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, adding peas during the last 30 to 45 minutes (or earlier if youlike them a bit more mushy!).

As mentioned above, I made it once with beef and pork instead of lamb, but only because I was craving a hearty stew and Kroger was out of lamb that week. That version was pretty good, also.

Enjoy,
Lorence

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Italian Meatballs

Last Friday was the office holiday party and due to so many budget cuts, there's no money in the department budget for going out or catering or much of anything at all. Kinda stinks, but we sucked it up and had an Italian potluck. The result was a real good lunch of antipasto, salad, fruit, lasagna, a most excellent cheesecake, and my contribution, meatballs in sauce. It's been a long time since I made Italian meatballs, so I went looking for recipe in my old cookbooks and I found this one for spaghetti and meatballs in my 1980 Betty Crocker International Cookbook. I didn't make the spaghetti, just the meatballs. They were good - no pictures, though, sorry. I'll post them next time. And there will be a next time.

Meatballs!
Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds ground round
3/4 cups dry bread crumbs *(make your own)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan**
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

* Make your won breadcrumbs - I toasted some 2 day old Italian bread, let it cool, then ran it through the food processor to make the bread crumbs.
**2 Tablespoons? Really? No. I added a little more, about a 1/2 cup.

Method:
1) Heat oven to 350.
2) Mix all of the ingredients together and use the very best mix mixer you've got, your hands!
3) Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls. (For easier shaping, dip your hands into cold water from time to time.)
4) Place on an ungreased jelly roll pan (I lined mine with heavy duty foil for easier cleanup).
5) Cook uncovered 15-20 minutes. (I "sacrificed" one to make sure they were done. Yummy.)

As for the sauce, well, I went easy and cheap. Once at work, I put the meatballs in a crockpot, and added a 26 oz can of Hunt's Garlic & Herb Spaghetti Sauce. I gave it a quick stir and let it sit in the crock on low from about 0900 until lunch at 1130.

Enjoy,
Lorence

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quick Dinner - Mock Lasagna

Back in October, we picked out a recipe from one of our old cookbooks that looked like a quick easy meal and wound up with a quick tasty meal that we've made a couple of times since. We love a good lasagna (who doesn't?), but don't ever take the time to make one. This has become a easy substitute.

Mock Lasagna
From "Hearty Family Favorites" (Time-Life Books).
Ingredients:
1 Medium Onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 Italian sausage
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound Farfalle (aka bow tie pasta)
15 ounce can crushed tomato (or diced in juice/puree works, too)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups grated part-skim mozzerella

Method:
1) Preheat the oven to 400.
2) Bring a large pot of water to a boil (for the pasta).
3) Coarsely chop the onion.
4) Remove the sausage form the casing (if using link sausage).
5) Crumble the sausage meat into a medium skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink.
6) Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 3-4 minutes.
7) Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente per package instructions.
8) Meanwhile, Add the tomato paste, crushed/diced tomatoes (including juice), bay leaf, basil, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to Low, cover it and simmer for 10 minutes.
9) Drain the pasta.
10) Remove the bay leaf from the sauce.
11) Assemble the dish - Cover the bottom of an 8-inch baking dish with 1/3 of the sauce. Top the sauce with 1/2 of the pasta and half of the mozzarella. Top the cheese with 1/2 of the remaining sauce and all of the remaining pasta. Top the pasta with the remianing sauce and cheese.
12) Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

I like to let the cheese brown just a bit. I also add some seasoning (basil/oregano) to the top layer of cheese.

Step 6: Browning the sausage, garlic and onion

Step 8: added the tomatoes and seasonings
(yup, that's the bay leaf in the center)


Step 11: first stage, sauce and pasta layers

Step 11: Assembly complete and ready for the oven

The end of step 12: Out of the oven and ready to eat!

Quick and easy - a decent meal in under 40 minutes.

Enjoy,
Lorence

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meatloaf on the grill? You betcha!


A couple of weeks ago, Dave of WeberCam.com posted about making a meatloaf on his Weber grill - not just any meatloaf, but a loaf with the good meat, a mixture of Veal, Beef and pork. (see his post here)

Tonight, highly inspired by Dave's carnivorous grilling triumph, I made my own, following his recipe suggestion as follows:
Ingredients & method:
In a big ol' bowl, combine the following:
A bit over a pound of the veal, beef & pork mixture (picked up from the Grandview Kroger).
about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt (don't exclude the salt!)
2 oz milk
additional seasonings (these are similar to Dave's suggestion, but you can pretty much do what ever you like here)
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs - I made homemade breadcrumbs (a toasted hot dog bun (makes 1/2 cup) plus 1/4 cup panko to make 3/4 cup, to which I added:
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
(mixed it all in the little food processor to blend it well).
1 nice fresh large egg to bind it all together.

Mix it all gently with the best tool available - your two attached hands.

I formed it into a nice loaf in a small lightly greased foil lined pan and gave it a light coating of BBQ sauce (hickory flavor, I think). I placed pan on one side of my gas grill and had the flame turned up high on the other side to cook it with indirect heat for about 45 minutes. I let mine get to an internal temp of 160°F (be careful out there!), removed the pan from the grill to the kitchen counter where I let it sit covered for about 5 minutes.

(Fresh off the grill)

Then I sliced it and served it up with some baked russets with butter and sour cream ( as shown above).

Thanks, Dave, for the inspiration, it was a great dinner!

Enjoy,
Lorence

Friday, October 23, 2009

Going Rogue: Claudia, An American Kitty

Yeah, Claudia's not happy... and poor Phoebe doesn't know what to think.

I've seen/heard screaming before, but not like this!

See the entire post here on Count Stockula's blog

Enjoy,
Lorence

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dry rub ribs tonight with a smoky sweet mop sauce


While they were labeled as "Country style ribs", they certainly didn't fit the the ribs described here, they were lean and meaty. I decided to try a modification of a recipe I'd written down a while back (I can't remember where I found it originally). I rubbed the ribs on all sides and cooked them on the gas grill over a low heat for about 45 minutes total, turning them once onto each of their four sides. I slopped some of the mop sauce over each when I turned them the last time to finish them off. The tasty and tender results are shown above. Rub and sauce recipes below.

Lorence's Dry Rib rub
(modified from some one else's, don't remember who's)
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh coursely ground pepper
1 Tablespoon Dry Cilantro
1 Teaspoon ground Coriander
1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon dried ground Thyme
2 Tablespoons Chili powder
3 Tablespoons brown sugar (dark brown sugar if you have it; I didn't)
Mix them all together in a bowl and rub it on all sides of the pork before grilling

Smoky Sweet Rib Mop Sauce
(again, modified from some one else's, don't remember who's)
1 cup store brand barbecue sauce, hickory flavored
1 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup (I used the real deal, not that fakey corn syrupy stuff)
Mix them all together in a bowl and slop some on top of the ribs after turning them for the last time.


(The Dry rib rub about to be mixed together)

If I had more time, these would have been great over and indirect heat on the Weber for a couple of hours... Gonna have to try that before too long...

Enjoy,
Lorence

Friday, August 07, 2009

It Is Balloon!

We had a great bit of adventure this evening as a hot air balloon landed in the neighborhood's elementary school yard just down the street from us. It was very exciting as the huge balloon floated across the tops of the trees, coming down, down, down... We all thought it was going to crash into the houses across the street from the school. It landed safely, though, close to the fence at the edge of the school yard, but safely none the less, missing all of the wires and playground equipment by a good margin. I managed to capture some photos and I may have a bit of video, too...








Enjoy,
Lorence

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dr. Boogie to the ER, Dr. Boogie to the ER, STAT!

Boogie's been watching lot's of "Emergency!" on the Retro TV channel lately...Click to embigificate

From what I hear, the bear survived...

Enjoy! The Boog sure is!
Lorence

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tomatoes, too!

Not the first, but the second, third and fourth of the season. Just a few little tiny Sungolds, the largest only about a 1/2 inch across, but HUGE flavor, oh, so sweet. I've never had these before, but will definitely be putting them in the garden again. The plant is getting huge (it's over 6 feet tall already and has tons of greenies still growing and hundreds of blossoms just getting started. Here's a shot of it from 2 weeks ago with most of it at 4+ feet tall and one branch well over 5 feet (with the heavily producing basil, beneath it). Please ignore the crab grass and my neighbors garage...

Enjoy,
Lorence

Broccoli!


This season's first broccoli! This is the first year I've grown it and it's producing very nicely. I cooked this up using my Quick Steamed Broccoli recipe with a few modifications - I used a teaspoon of butter in place of the oil spray and only 1 teaspoon of water in a large bowl. I covered it very tightly, sealing it up well, then zapped it for 2 minutes, serving immediately with a nicely grilled medium rare porterhouse. Sorry, but it smelled (and tasted!) way too delicious to wait for pictures.

Enjoy,
Lorence

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Boogie's Next Recipe: Caprisi Salad Sandwich

Another night time snack adventure. Boogie was hungry, and in a creative mood.

First, he went to the yard and picked some fresh basil. Then he mixed up a bit of olive & Mrs. Dash® Tomato Basil Seasoning Blend in a small bowl and spread it on the bottom half of the only roll we had in the house, a day old kaiser roll. He topped that with some slices of fresh mozzarella:

He sliced some tomtato and topped the mozzarella with that:

(honing his knife skills... he does pretty well for an 8 yr old.)


Then more of the olive oil mixture:

Ready to slice:Ready to eat!

Yumminess ensues...

Enjoy,
Lorence

Father's Day present, 2009, A Salad Spinner!


My brand new salad spinner, Father's Day, 2009. It works great.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken


Another recipe from last week's Oprah show - and a great one at that. I made Cat Cora's Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken tonight and it was a HUGE hit, and deservedly so - this dish is fantastic. It's kind of like cattitore with a little twist. The chicken was tender, juicy and full of flavor, the sauce was bright, tomatoey, and with just the faintest hint of cinnamon - not overpowering at all. I loved it and I am NOT a fan of cinnamon at all.

You MUST make this dish!

I did not preboil the water with sea salt as the first step in the direction- she doesn't give any indication of how much sea salt (though I would imagine it would be a teaspoon to a tablspoon...). The dish was more than fine without it.

Be sure to read through the recipe first.

Greek Cinnamon Stewed Chicken
Recipe created by Cat Cora (original recipe here)
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 chicken (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (legs, breast and thighs)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic , peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion , peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups water
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herb seasoning
1 cup orzo , cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
Preboil water with sea salt.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. A wet chicken will cause the oil to splatter while the chicken is sautéing. Mix the cinnamon, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the chicken pieces on all sides with the seasoning.

Heat the olive oil in a large, nonreactive, deep skillet over high heat. A 12-inch skillet with sides about 2 1/2 to 3 inches high will allow you to brown all the chicken at once. If you don't have a skillet large enough, brown them in two batches using 1/2 the oil for each batch. What's important is that the chicken isn't overcrowded, which would cause them to steam rather than brown.

Add the chicken to the oil and brown for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn the pieces using a metal spatula, as they have a tendency to stick to the pan. Remove the pieces when they are well browned on all sides.

Mince three of the garlic cloves. Lower the heat to medium-high, and add the onions and minced garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions have softened and are a rich golden brown. Add about 1/2 cup of the water and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula or spoon to deglaze the pan, loosening any particles stuck on the bottom.

When the water has evaporated, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and remaining 2 garlic cloves, minced.

Return the chicken to the pan. The liquid should cover about 3/4 of the chicken pieces. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-high heat for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked. If the sauce becomes too thick, it can be thinned with a little more water. Season the finished sauce with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Serve over orzo, cooked according to package directions, and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

A new favorite here at Chez Sing!

Enjoy,
Lorence

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tilapia Lettuce Wraps - "Gyros"



My wife saw a recent Oprah episode that featured 3 celebrity chefs. Each was paired with a family that was clueless in the kitchen, and they each came up with a weeks worth of recipes that were interesting and simple to prepare. That, of course, means that I have more recipes to learn and try!
So far I've made 2 of them and will be making more. This recipe is from Cat Cora, the first female Iron Chef, and was titled "Lettuce 'Gyros'with Tilapia and Yogurt Sauce". The original can be found on Oprah's web site, but its not put together well- the idea is great, but the writeup isn't, so I've redone it here with a few of my own little modifications.

We enjoyed this - It's fresh tasting, satisfying, easy and quick, plus it's the base of a pretty healthy meal. I even like the yogurt sauce a kind of tzatziki, which is really saying something as I'm definitely not a fan of yogurt.

I made a few minor changes, for example, instead of using "butter lettuce", I used the romaine I already had in the fridge. Using the romaine also gave it a nice "crunch". I changed up the fish easoning mixture a bit, too.

Make the tzatziki first - it should sit in the fridge for a while, an hour or so, before serving. Beware, too - this tzatziki recipe makes a whole bunch more than you'll need for the lettuce wraps. You may want to half the tzatziki recipe.

Tilapia Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki
Serves 4–6

Tilapia Lettuce Wraps:

3 fillets (6 ounces each) tilapia or whatever fish you prefer. If frozen, thaw completely first
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lime
1 tspn chili powder
1/4 tspn cayenne pepper
1/4 tspn ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt, divided
Fresh black pepper
Romaine lettuce leaves, washed, dried
1 medium ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 medium yellow onion , sliced very thinly
Black or kalamata olives , pitted and halved
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herb seasoning blend (I used Mrs. Dash® Tomato Basil Seasoning Blend)
2 or 3 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias

Method:
Preheat grill or oven to 400°.

In a mixing bowl, mix the tomatoes, onion, olives, Italian herb blend, 1/2 the olive oil, 1/2 the lime juice, 1/2 tspn salt and pepper and blend well. Set aside to serve as a condiment for the wraps.

Line a baking pan with foil and spray with vegetable spray.
Mix 1/2 the olive oil, 1/2 the lime juice, the chili powder, cayenne, cumin, pepper and 1/2 tspn salt in a small bowl.
Place the fish on the pan and spread the seasoning mixture over the fish.
Let the seasoned fish sit for 10 minutes.
Place in the oven until cooked through, but not dry, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Once the fish is done, remove from the oven and let sit until slightly warm.

On warmed serving plates, flake a generous amount of fish into each lettuce leaf.

Serve with the tomato/onion mixture, tzatziki (recipe below), scallions, etc. I served them with sliced cucumbers, too.

Tzatziki:
Ingredients:
1 lemon , juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic , minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Method:
Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt to the yogurt. Chill for at least 1 hour.

I also served this with some Sabra hummus and rye crackers.


A delicious dinner!
Enjoy,
Lorence

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Big Shot Buffalo Meatballs


A recent class project on prairie animals gave Boogie a hankering for buffalo. So a'huntin we went and wound up finding a pound of prey at Whole Foods. Boogie was on a mission - he had created his own recipe, gave it a name and was ready to cook.

Since he's still just a kid and kind of little, I supervised his use of the food processor (he made the bread crumbs fresh), the oven and the stove closely, but I pretty much let him loose to do his thing. He did very well handling the ingredients and tools, chopping the mushrooms, grating the cheese, measuring the herbs and spices (I did separate the egg for him, though), and even smooshing it all together and forming the balls.

The end result was well worth the effort and this dish will wind up in a regular rotation at our house.

Big Shot Buffalo Meatballs
An original Boogie recipe

Ingredients:
1 pound Ground Buffalo meat
1 Egg
1 Egg White
1/2 Cup grated Parrano cheese
1/2 cup fresh Bread Crumbs
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon Marjoram
2 portobella mushrooms, 1 chopped fine, 1 medium diced
1 jar Heinz Brown Gravy (12 ounce)
1/2 pound wide egg noodles

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350F
2) Cut one mushroom int o a medium dice.
3) Put gravy into a small saucepan. Add medium diced mushrooms. Place on burner on simmer an partially cover. Be sure to stir the gravy occasionally.
4) Chop the other mushroom fine.
5) In a large bowl, mix the fine chopped mushrooms, cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, marjoram, eggs, and meat. Blend well by mixing with your hands.
6) Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with vegetable cooking spray.
7) Form meatballs from the meat mixture that are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches around & place them on the baking sheet. Leave some space between each meatball.
8) Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
9) Prepare the egg noodles according to the package instructions. Drain them well when they're done.
10) Remove the meatballs from the oven.
11) In a clean large bowl, add the gravy to the noodles.
12) Serve by putting the noodles and gravy on a plate and topping them with several meatballs.

Enjoy,
Lorence

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Finally. Our long national nightmare is over.

I've kept my personal political views off of this blog since it's inception, save the link to my other website. I've waited for today for a long, long time, though, so I'd like to say, "Here's to you, George. Thanks for mucking things up so bad. Now get the hell out. Good-bye and good riddance, George."

Hey, hey, hey, goodbye

1/20/2009. The end of an error.

We now return to our regularly unscheduled mostly food posts.

Enjoy,
Lorence