Friday, September 26, 2008
Good luck to Gloria and her MBA mid terms! The Cuban extravaganza will be hosted in her lovely kitchen, with my favorite pooch, HASHI!!!
Also a HUGE thank you to my mom, who will be taking care of my Harry while we're away. The claws are clipped, the cupboard is stocked, the scratch box is in the window, and his nest is made in the closet.
See you all soon!!!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
This is super easy to do. I had half of a jar of pesto left over from the Layered up Chicken and Roasted Vegetables. I like cooking with jarred pesto as it has a stronger flavor (i.e. more salt & garlic), than the refrigerated pesto, which makes it not so desirable on pasta itself. With the pesto, I also added in some Herbs de Provence, then coated the tenderloin and let sit for 30 minutes. After, I baked at 350F for 45 minutes.
The results were divine. The pork was nice and tender and had such a good flavor. My house smelt absolutely divine! As we were keeping it simple, we served it with salad, olives, Boursin cheese, and a French baguette.
The rest sort of speaks for itself. My Classic French Vinaigrette made another appearance, this time in the form of the pesto jar. The baguette is actually an import from France that I get from my local supermarket's freezer section. It is a nice staple to keep on hand, takes under 10 minutes to bake, and it as close to Paris as you can get in Florida. We threw in some nice French mustard, a bottle of rose, and felt like we were ready for Provence!
The last time we were there, we opted out of the breakfast included with our stay at our B&B and ate at the Salcombe Coffee Company. This was a very good decision. Not only did they have great coffee, I was partial to the cafe mocha - which was made of nice strong coffee and rich dark chocolate, their breakfast menu was superb. Their bacon sandwiches were the best I've ever had, and I will go as far to say that they are the best in the world. They use good quality smoky bacon rashers, thick cut multi-grain bread toasted to perfection, and enough brown sauce to keep a smile on my face. Sadly I didn't get an photos of this blissful sandwich, but it's reason enough to go back.
Fore Street, Salcombe
Telephone: 01548 842319
Monday, September 22, 2008
Jane, how was Strictly Come Dancing?
Well, this year I was a little in the dark with some of our "stars". It was nice to see Jefferson from Married with Children, Lance Bass was actually good, and Susan Lucci looked like she needed a sandwich - STAT!!! Susan - may I recommend any of the recipes from my blog!
One addition that was very welcomed was Lacy from So You Think You Can Dance. While she isn't as traditional as the other pros's, she will make an interesting change.
As always, it's nice to have Len and Bruno at it, and you just can't beat Tom Bergeron.
All-in-all, yay that it's back, but at this point, no obvious favorite.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I first start by browning 1 pound of mince beef or buffalo, with a good pinch of dried thyme. Once most of the pink is gone, I add in some chopped onion and carrot.
Next comes the packet of Coleman's Shepherd's Pie mix. I'm not only partial to Coleman's because I used to live in Norwich, I really do think their mixes are top notch. My local supermarket even carries it so I don't have to rely on stocking up in the UK or scouting out an import shop. Once you mix in packet, add 100ml of red wine, 200 ml of water, and if you are so inclined, two chopped slices of cooked bacon. This is also when I rely on my cupboard staples where I keep a small supply of dried vegetables. From that I added some dried celery, corn, and peas. Gently simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Once simmered, put into baking dish and top with mashed potato. Now, I did say this was impromptu. Instead of running to the supermarket for potatoes, I also have organic dried potato flakes in my cupboard. While I wouldn't serve this to company, it's a good solution for when its just us. I will say that I use a good quality butter (mostly Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter) and I always add fresh herbs. In this photo I used chives, rosemary, and thyme. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.
This step was inspired by another Norwich legend: Delia Smith. After baking for 15 minutes, take out and top with 1 leek, sliced, then top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until bubbling.
- If you can't find Coleman's mix, any sort of beef, mushroom, onion, or brown gravy will do.
- For a vegetarian version, use meat free gravy and lentils and mushrooms instead of mince. Or even vegetarian crumbles.
- If you make this in advance, I would wait until the day of serving to add the potatoes, then follow instructions from that point on.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
They are everywhere... the first one is on my bathroom window, trying to find a way inside. The second one is on the door going out to my lanai. He wasn't a very lucky lizard, as part of his tail was missing. This isn't critical as a lizard's tail is able to break off to escape an attack, then will slowly regrow. This guy was unfortunate as the breaking point was pretty high up. Many lizards around our house are sporting shorter tails, thanks to Harry. That is another, if not his most favorite past time: catching lizards!
A few weeks ago, we witnessed a first: Harry went in for a lizard, only to have the lizard bite him back! He dropped it and ran towards to house to sit and cower. Their teeth are so small and can't do any damage, so Harry was suffering more from a bruised ego. Who could blame him? They can be very intimidating:
First you see them and the look as if they are smiling... then they start doing push-ups and their dewlaps come out! This was more than enough to scare me off!
My first experience there wasn't complete bliss. When I called to order and asked for a spinach pizza, as it's called on the menu, it was returned with, "you mean gourmet pie?". I felt like answering in a language that she could understand: "no, i mean a friggin' gourmet pizza as it's called on your menu", but I could never be so crude to a stranger... so I opted to kill with kindness, "of course, how silly of me to call it that, please forgive my mistake". Come on, take a look at the close up... could you really pass on something this good over the rudeness of someone over the phone. They do hail from Long Island, so you are getting the full on NY experience. To be fair, we've eaten there several times and she's softened up, so maybe she was just having a bad day. However, in this economy, you think that everyone in the public sector would be as nice as can be. Or am I just delusional?
Michelangelo of Long Island! Pizzeria &Italian Restaurant: Lakewood Ranch
Lakewood Ranch Blvd. & State Road 70
Phone: (941) 739-5656
Open Everyday 11-10
The first week we will be staying in an alpine-style house in the Alps. Here are the front and back views of where I will call home for a week:
The second week we will be in Provence. Here are a few glimpses of my temporary abode...
My favorite vinaigrette couldn't be easier to make: you only need an old jar, mustard or jam jars are the perfect size. What I like best is that it doesn't have a long list of ingredients like supermarket salad dressings. Most of which you have no idea what they even are.
This is my version of the Classic French Vinaigrette:
- 1 part vinegar (white wine vinegar is my staple, but red wine vinegar is fine)
- 3 parts extra virgin olive oil
- 1 generous tsp of Dijon mustard (Maille is divine)
- pinch or 2 of salt and sugar, to taste.
Now for the hard part: put them all in a jar, screw the lid on, and shake until they are all mixed together.
This is also my favorite accompaniment to a nicely steamed artichoke. Add a glass of Sancerre to achieve pure bliss!
Here are some variations:
- You could use balsamic vinegar instead, but omit the extra sugar.
- 1 tsp of dried Herbs de Provence
- 1 tbsp of chopped fresh herbs
- 1 clove chopped garlic
- 1 small shallot, chopped
The list could go on and on. It is the perfect base for a salad dressing, and is only as limited as your imagination...
Friday, September 19, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
- 1 medium chicken, cooked (you can boil, roast, or buy pre-cooked - I like to use store bought rotisserie)
- 2 red onions
- 1 lb butternut squash
- 3 red peppers
- 1 large aubergine
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp good quality fresh pesto
- 1.5 oz each butter & flour
- 1 pint milk
- 1 tbsp English mustard
- 8oz Gruyere (or Cheddar) cheese
Preheat oven to 450F. Chop onions, squash, peppers & aubergine. Put vegetables into large roasting tin, drizzle with oil & roast for 30-45 minutes until tender. I usually do 30 minutes, as it will cook for another half hour, and I like the vegetables to retain more of their shape.
Stir in pesto. Put veg mixture into a 2 litre (3.5 pint) ovenproof dish & arrange chicken on top.
Make a cheese sauce by putting the butter, flour & milk into a pan, then bringing to boil slowly, whisking. Stir in mustard. Simmer for 1 minute, until thickened. Grate the cheese. Take sauce off heat & add all but a handful of the cheese.
- When making this, I didn't have 3 peppers, so used 1 pepper, 1 zucchini, and 1 yellow squash. You really could use anything that you have on hand, or substitute what you like.
- For a vegetarian version, substitute chicken with mushrooms. Artichokes would also go nicely in this dish. I would recommend using Lemon Thyme if making this with artichokes.
- I only had 1/2 pint of milk, so had to use 1/4 pint of whipping cream and 1/4 pint of half & half to make the pint. My method of measuring a pint: one of James's authentic pub pint glasses. This combination created a much thicker sauce, which was very nice and I would recommend if you want something richer, but I think next time I will make sure that I have enough milk.
If you're not familiar with kuchen, the word "Kuchen" itself is the German word for cake. The base of my Aunt's kuchen is cake based, as seen in the photo below, topped with a layer of fruit, then streusel topping. You'll notice the apple in this photo in the right side of the kuchen, she made one end of apple, which is James' favorite. RECIPE:
~ For the Base:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup milk
~ 3 cups (or more) of fruit
~ For Streusel Topping:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/8 tsp salt
Base: Sift together flour, baking powder, and 1 tbsp sugar. Cut in the shortening. Stir in combined egg and milk with a fork. Spread into a greased 10"x6"x2" pan. Brush with 2 tbsp melted butter. Arrange fruit on top. Cover with streusel mixture. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, until fruit is tender. Cool to eat.
You can see in this photo how close the neighbor's lanai is. At one point, there is only about a foot of land separating them. We wanted something that would be drought tolerant, giving us a tropical feel so we planted two white Birds of Paradise on the corners with a Rubber Tree in between. In the course of about 6 months, they shot up to almost the height you see in this photo.
Here is a close up of the combination. We liked it so much that we've planted the same arrangement on the other corner of the lanai. It doesn't get as much sun as the other side, so is slower growing.
Here are a few "Birds" getting ready to bloom.
Here is one that is blooming. We didn't have any blooms at all the first two years that we had them, and this year it really seems to be taking off.
This is a shot of regular Bird of Paradise that we have. It doesn't get as tall as the white ones, but we love the colors.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I started off by sauteing the bacon. Once bacon was finished and removed, I then cooked the mushrooms in the left over bacon fat and a little bit of olive oil. Next I added the chicken pieces (I was using tenderloin cutlets), scattered the bacon over the chicken, poured the jar of sauce over the mixture, along with 1/2 cup of white wine. This was baked in my oven, uncovered, at 350F for 35 minutes. After cooking, I garnished with small basil leaves that were left-over from the basil I used in the salad.
I also made a simple salad of lettuce and fresh basil leaves from my garden, dressed with my homemade vinaigrette. Please note my uber fancy jar. Yes, that is an authentic Branston Pickle jar. Unfortunately even after 4 washings, it still retained some of the pickle smell, which slightly altered the taste of the dressing. Not sure if you could tell if you didn't know, but I could...
~ When ready to cook, place in the slow cooker, fat side up. Score fat and stuff with garlic cloves, thyme, and rosemary.
* Busha Browne's Spicy Jerk Sauce is my favorite jerk marinade. If you find it too vinegary, use the paste. If the paste is too spicy for your liking, mix with Greek yogurt to taste.
For more info on Levi Roots and his sublime sauce, please click the following link: http://www.reggae-reggae.co.uk/index.cfm