Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Another Trip Down Memory Lane

I follow a number of food blogs (no surprise there). One of my Favorites is Octoberfarm. It not only is great to look at, but has great food and gardening ideas. A few weeks back she did a piece on City Chicken. When I was growing up, my Mom made these and they were called Mock Chicken Legs. According to the blog, chicken was quite expensive and this was a substitute.  The meat is pork and veal because they were cheap?  I can't imagine veal ever being cheap.  I also had a difficult time finding some. Apparently it is not very popular. The first two pieces I found had to be returned because they were 'bad'. It took a lot of Fresh Wave to get the smell out of my house. Finally I found two suitable veal chops.  I cut the pork tenderloin and veal chops into cubes and placed them on skewers.  They are then dusted with flour, dipped in beaten egg and coated with cracker meal.  They are browned in a heavy pot; then chicken stock is poured about half way up them and finished off in the oven. It brought back lots of memories for not only myself, but a number of my FB friends.

The 'legs' were served with Creamy Spring Peas with Pancetta.  Sugar snap peas, snow peas and small English peas are blanched and set aside. The pancetta is browned and removed to a paper towel. Flour is added to the drippings along with chicken broth and heavy cream.  When thickened, the peas are added back to the pan along with lemon juice S&P.  The dish is served with the crumbled pancetta.  I did  not care for the sauce at all. Next time I will blanch the peas and dress with an EVOO-lemon juice vinaigrette and the pancetta or bacon. A lovely dish to use fresh spring peas in several forms.

I found some fresh rhubarb at the market and decided to use it in a dessert.  I found a simple recipe for sorbet.  The cubed rhubarb is simmered with sugar, water and orange juice until softened.  I cooled it a bit and put it in a blender until smooth.  It is put in the freezer until firm.  It will need to be thawed slightly to scoop it into balls for serving.  A sprig of mint is added for color. I expect this recipe would work for a number of fresh fruits and will try it again when peaches are in season.

Except for the sauce on the peas, this was an excellent dinner. I have begun looking into some new and different foods for Cinco de Mayo.  Stop by next week to see what I come up with.

Stay safe and dry through the spring storms we all seem to be experiencing.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Seafood and Sides

We are almost to the end of the Lenten season.  Meals during Lent. for me tend to include a lot more fish.  Recently we celebrated the opening of trout season here in the mountains. People from everywhere come to line the banks of the streams and rivers to catch this lovely fish.  Trout is a particular favorite of mine, simply prepared with some interesting side dishes.  The trout (head off, because it won't fit in my cast iron skillet) is dusted with equal parts flour and corn meal and fried in a hot pan with a bit of melted butter.  About 3 minutes on each side and it is cooked through with a nice crispy skin.  The same technique is used for a salmon fillet. The only difference is that it is only fried on the skin side. It is finished in the oven after having turned it over.  Just a few minutes will do it.

I tried a number of new sides to have with the fish.  With the trout a dish of Morel mushrooms and asparagus was very successful.  Morels are an interesting mushroom.  The fresh variety have a very short 'season'  and are very expensive. Even finding them is a challenge.  I remember buying a very small box of them on a visit to Door County.  Before I got them home they had molded.  So when I can find them dried and on sale, I stock up. I bought 12 containers from Illinois to the mountains.  This dish was simple to prepare.  The dried Morels are brought back to life by soaking them in a mixture of chicken broth and white wine. They are drained, chopped and sauteed in butter with shallots. The soaking liquid is added and reduced.  Blanched asparagus is added to the mushrooms along with Greek Yogurt, S&P to taste.. Heat through and serve with the trout and some lemon wedges.

The salmon was served on a bed of fennel-radish slaw (a new favorite) Thinly slice a fennel bulb and toss with thinly sliced red onion, radishes and cucumber. Dress with EVOO, chopped dill an lemon juice. The slaw cuts the richness of the fish nicely.

Another side was baked Parmesan mushrooms.  I used a class pie plate lightly oiled.  Thick slices of Baby Bella mushrooms are layered in the pan.  Top with the zest and juice of one lemon, chopped garlic, dried thyme, S&P.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and toss.  Bake for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms are softened and the dish is lightly browned.

I was happy with all the sides and the fish. The strange weather has slowed the availability of spring vegetables and fruits at the farmers markets.  Hopefully in the next weeks that will change. I will be away for Easter weekend with family. We shall see what food adventures await!

Have a blessed holiday and will see you back in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Trip to the Market

The market had many new things. It was hard to choose what to purchase for my menu.  I decided on chicken thighs and a beautiful bunch of kale. The chicken was locally raised and the thighs were very large. The kale was a very bright green and there were samples of a salad, the recipe I brought home and prepared.

The chicken thighs are browned on both sides and placed on a rack on a baking sheet.  They are finished in the oven.  While they are roasting I made the sauce.  Brown onions in the drippings and add garlic for about 30 seconds.  Pour in  some beer.  The recipe called for wheat beer, but I think any kind will do. Stir in a can of diced tomatoes, chopped rosemary, smoked paprika, cumin and salt and pepper.  Simmer about 5 minutes.  Return the chicken thighs to the pan and simmer until thighs register 165 degrees. Serve some of the sauce and some chopped parsley over the thighs.  Rice or pasta would work well with the chicken and sauce.

Kale is a funky green vegetable.  The stems are tough and should be cut away from the curly green leaf.  If used in a soup or stew or any other dish where it is cooked in liquid, it can be used as is.  However, using it in a salad or other raw state, it must be softened.  In this recipe the dressing is made and poured over the raw kale.  The dressing is EVOO, lemon juice, and sea salt. When it is poured over the kale, with your hands, massage it into the kale. When the leaves are softened and a very dark green.  Toss in toasted pine nuts, diced red bell pepper and sliced Kalamata olives.

This was a great dinner. The salad keeps well in a plastic bag and is as tasty the second, third and beyond day.

I saw some other interesting vegetables at the market and will  go back and pick them up for next weeks dinner.  Have a good week and if you are in the midwest and northeast, stay warm and safe.  I see another storm on the way.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Everything Old Is New Again!

Growing up one of the things I learned from my Mom was cooking with 'different' cuts of meat.  Lamb Shanks was one of them  Over the years I have prepared them in many ways. She always roasted them while I have learned that braising them in a variety of liquids was my favorite.  When Mom lived in an assisted living apartment, I would bring a braised lamb shank and mashed potato dinner and we would have it together in her apartment.  This week is a celebration of that meal with a new twist.

In a heavy pot thoroughly brown the shanks with salt and pepper and set them aside.  In the dripping saute chopped carrot, celery, onion and garlic until softened.  Stir in some tomato paste, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Add some hearty red wine and bring to a simmer.  Add browned lamb shanks back to pan and add beef stock to cover, bay leaves and several sprigs of fresh thyme..  Place covered in a 400 degree oven and cook for a couple of hours turning the shanks half way through. Check every 45 minutes or so and if liquid is low, add more stock. When shanks are tender remove from heat and serve with the gravy over your favorite potatoes or try the following.

Everyone loves mashed potatoes, and there are many recipes.  Using different kinds of potatoes and additions; hot buttered milk, cream cheese, and mashed cooked garlic. Skins on or skin off. Lately I have read about substituting  mashed cauliflower.  I found an interesting recipe that I tried. Clean the cauliflower and separate the florets..  Clean and smash several garlic cloves and cook with the cauliflower in a small amount of water.  I cooked the mix in the microwave so I didn't need a lot of water, just enough to steam and soften them. In a bowl, mash the cooked garlic cauliflower mix and stir in some sour cream and plain Greek yogurt. Salt and pepper to taste.I think this will be a new favorite.

I served the shanks over a mound of the mashed cauliflower and topped it with a gremolata. Gremolata is a mixture of orange and lemon zest, minced parsley, garlic and a spoon of prepared horseradish.

Loved this meal....it brought back a lot of memories.

See you next week. I hope to find some inspiration at the market.

Friday, February 7, 2014


I have been lax in keeing up with the blog....I apologize.  Today I plan to 'catch up'.  First is the last class at the French Cooking School.  The best of the 4 classes.  I have learned so much about food and wine parings with the instructors.  Last Tuesday we made a lamb dish with a wine paring. It was amazing and very simple.  The Ratatouille was simple but carefully constructed.  First in the pot are chopped tomatoes, then green peppers, zucchini, eggplant and onion is similar size pieces.  A bay leaf, garlic, Italian seasoning ( no rosemary) and olive oil are added to the pot.  Cook on high for about 15 minutes.  Gently stir and reduce heat to simmer an cook for another 45 minutes to one hour until cooked.   Add salt and pepper.  Garnish with grated parmesan and minced flat leaf parsley.  I chose lamb chops instead of cutting a rack of lamb.  Rub chops with EVOO, S&P and Italian seasoning (no rosemary) Grill 3 - 5 minutes on each side. Serve with a dish of Ratatouille and a glass (or two) Puech-Haute Shiraze.  Excellent!

In the last weeks I have prepared several dishes that were excellent and some......not so much.  I will send the successes.  First for Super Bowl I made a fabulous chicken wing dish.  Most wings are served with BBQ /hot sauces.  This one does not. These wings are basted with a mixture of vegetable oil, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, honey and Siracha sauce. Baste and turn twice.  Serve with a dipping sauce of: chopped shallot sauted in melted butter. Stir in  Apple butter, plain Greek Yogust, Dijon mustard Apple cider Vinegar,  salt and pepper.  This is my new favorite.  I will try this again with boneless, skinlees chicken strips.

The previous week I prepared a Panko crusted salmon.  The crust is Panko, minced parsley,  grated  lemon zest. The fillets are brushed with a mixture of EVOO and Dijon mustard. Pat the Panko mixture and saute  on bottom side. Finish in oven at 425 degrees for 5-7 minutes.

The last dish is a Warm French Lentil Salad.  The recipe had one error in it and the first mixture needed to be dumped.. One sliced leek and one diced carrot are sauted in EVOO..  Add minced garlic, cook 1 minute and set aside.  The recipe calls for French Green lentils, not sure why they are different except they are smaller.  Simmer the lentils in water and add a whole onion studded with cloves and half a turnip. lower heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are almost tender.  Remove onion and turnip.  Drain and toss with cooked lentils.  Dressing is EVOO, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, S&P.  Mix and serve warm.  Excellent.

I hope not to get so far behind again, however,  I plan ton keep up.  Stay tuned to the next weeks.  I have some graeat meals planned. Stay tuned.. I do take requests  for recipes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lighter Fare in the New Year!

I have made some food goals for the New Year and my menues will reflect this.  I will prepare more seafood and poultry, less red meat and Monday's will be meatless.  We shall see how this works out!

Since moving to Asheville I have found a supermarket Ithat has a great fish market.  Lots of choices and knowledgeable staff.  This week the halibut looked especially good so I purchased a 6 ounce portion for the paapillote I have planned. A sauce is made of artichoke heart quarters, garlic, grape tomatoes, fresh mint and sauteed with white wine and a bit of butter. The sauce is poured over the fish and sealed in the parchment paper.  It is baked in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.  The fish is flakey and moist.  It looked good as well. I will use this sauce and method often with fish.

Celery is an underused vegetable.  This salad is composed of thinly sliced celery and diced Granny Smith apple.It is tossed with a bit of the dressing to moisten and then chilled until serving time.  Spoon the salad in a small dish, top with chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan.  Light and refreshing and went well with the halibut.

The dressing is going to be a new favorite.  EVOO, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, minced shallots, celery salt and anchovy paste. Shake and chill.  The dressing will likely last the rest of the week

I hope to continue with the lighter meals so I hope you stop by.  Have a good week.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


I know it is been a long while, biut I have retired from my career in library manangement and moved from my home in suburban Chicago to the south, Asheville North Carolina to be exact.  Beginning in the new year I will restart my food blog and focus on the style of Southern food.  I hope you enjoy the new information and please do ask questions as you need.

Have a Happy Holiday and a Very Happy New Year