Thursday, April 29, 2010

Simple New Marinade

New marinades are always fun to play with.  A little of this and a little of that make a lot of difference.  My only problem is when adding a little bit of anything I don't write it down.  I will make a great dish, then when asked to reproduce, well I don't remember everything that went in it.  I know the basics, but never down to the last detail. I am going to get better at this.  A few days ago I whipped up a pretty good marinade out of things I had on hand and it turned out pretty good.  Last night I tried to duplicate it with a few changes for the best, I hope.  It started with Worcestershire, soy sauce, brown sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper.  The original amounts I have no idea, a taste and add type marinade.  Tonight I measured.

1/2 cup Worcestershire
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cayenne
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper

This time I heated it up on the stove to melt the dry ingredients.  I removed a 1/2 cup of the marinade and let it cool.  Then poured it over a pork tenderloin and let it marinate for 1 hour.  Here it is before the oven.
I cooked it at 225 degrees until it reached an internal temp of 155.  Then let it rest for about 10 minutes.  While it was cooking I boiled the rest of the marinade until it was reduced by half.  I drizzled it over the sliced pork and potato wedges.
This was a very good simple meal.  I tasted a piece of the pork pre finishing sauce and it was good, but the drizzle added a great extra bump of flavor.  I like the basics of this marinade but it definitely needs a little something else. It is sweet and spicy but just didn't have the depth I was looking for. I can't wait to figure out what it is.  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I guess I should have titled this one a quick post.  Not much detail here, just letting everyone know I am still around.  I have been quite busy lately with a new venture and due to my long hours Byrd has been taking care of the cooking around here.  Tonight she made a few additions to Byrd's Spaghetti by spicing it up with some left over hot Italian sausage from the tortellini cook and then threw in some spinach.  I love the regular sauce but this was a nice change.
I promised last week that I would be back to my regular posting, but....such is life.  I will get back to posting as soon as I get into a good rhythm with the new restaurant.  We bought one.  More on that later. What was I thinking opening a restaurant in the last two weeks of Byrd being pregnant.  Am I crazy?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tortellini Soup

Taste & Create Logo by my_amii.
My first month of Taste and Create.  I was paired with Katie from One Little Corner of the World.   I have really enjoyed reading through her posts and getting to know her a little better through her words and pictures.  My one issue was how do you pick just one dish, out of so many, to try and recreate?  I used this as it is meant to be a cultural exchange and a learning tool. I came across a soup that sounded delicious and I don't make a lot of soups, due mostly to Byrd not really liking them.  Well she likes tomato and potato soup, but thats it.  Also I have never had tortellini soup, and what could be wrong with sausage, pasta, cheese and spinach.  NOTHING.

Here is Katie's Recipe:
Tortelinni Soup with Sausage and Spinach
1 lb. mild Italian Sausage
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb cheese tortellini
1 bag fresh spinach
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 quarts beef stock
Parmesan cheese
Slice sausage and render in stock pot. When sausage is near to finishing, add garlic, thyme and fennel. Drain grease from pan, deglaze with beef stock. Bring stock to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add tortellini to pot and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
Serve immediately and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Now I am sure this would be great left over, but being as busy as we have been lately and with Baby Byrd due any day now I opted to cut the recipe in half.  Here is what I used.

2 links of Hot Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. 3 cheese tortellini
1/2 bag of fresh spinach
1/2 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 quarts beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesean cheese
Once the sausage was almost cooked I added the garlic, fennel, and thyme.  I let these heat through for about 2 minutes carefully stirring so I didn't burn the garlic.  The smell of all these together was enough to make you want to stop the process there and spoon it on a plate, but I continued. Then deglaze with the beef stock.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Even though I cut the recipe in half I still went the full 20 minutes.  Added the tortellini simmered for 5 minutes, then the spinach for 2.  This came together very quickly. 

Always needing a little more cheese I served this with a whole grain wheat mozzarella and Parmesean cheese toast.
I know it is late spring and at some points in the day it feels very summerish around here, but this really hit the spot. Even though this was a quick soup it had deep, rich flavors that you normally get from cooking all day. I would like to thank Katie for bringing a new soup in to my kitchen. And as for Byrd, I will let her bowl speak for her.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Roasted Corn Salad with a side of chicken.

Sometimes dinner decisions are hard to make.  Sometimes it just comes together.  Last night was one of the latter.  It has been busy around here lately, lots of running around and tying up loose ends before baby byrd comes around. When we were discussing dinner Byrd said she wanted to make a roasted corn salad.  I said that sounds great, what gave you that idea.  She says "I saw Bobby Flay make it today and thought it looked good."  My question "Where was I when she was watching a cooking show, How did I miss that."
She didn't pull a recipe off line, she told me she had it covered.  I am amazed at her at this point.  There is no computer in the kitchen while she makes this.  All by memory.  She puts four mini corns in the grill pan on the stove and starts to roast them.  Then dices up some white onion, and slices some cherry tomatoes.  Once the corn is good and roasted she lets them cool for a minute then cuts the corn away from the cobs.  Mixed all together in a medium size bowl.
Then she asks me to get the blender down, who is the beautiful woman in the kitchen. She pulls some stuff out of the fridge.  She then pours, not measuring, some rice wine vinegar, a squeeze of dijon mustard, throws in some fresh basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and starts the blender.  Then proceeds to take the plug out of the top of the blender and drizzles in olive oil.  I am in awe. Once she tastes it and approves she drizzles the dressing around the outside of the bowl. covers it and places it in the fridge.
The chicken was marinaded in a mix of Worcestershire, soy sauce, brown sugar, cayenne, and salt and pepper.  Then on to the grill.
All together now.
The chicken was good, as chicken thighs usually are, but the corn salad was fantastic.  Simple and easy, with a side of an amazed husband.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

I have been without the internet for about a week.  Here is a little about dinner last night.  I will be back to my normal posting tomorrow.

Cajun Chicken Alfredo adapted from Cajun Chicken Alfredo.

I started by butterflying 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, then coating them in Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Seasoning.  I used a screaming hot cast iron skillet.
Once blackened on both sides I put them in the oven on 350 to finish them.  While they were in the oven I started the sauce.  In a sauce pan I put a tablespoon of olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic.  Once heated through I added a cup of sliced cherry tomatoes.  While these were heating up, I sliced the chicken and added it in.
Deglaze with a 1/8 cup of dry white wine, then add in 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream.  Simmer until reduced by half.  Then add in a cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
Toss in some thin spaghetti (cooked al dente) and serve with some garlic cheese bread.  Also top with some green onion and sliced cherry tomatoes.
This was a fantastic dinner.  I am glad to be able to share again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jerk Kabobs and Pineapple Salsa

There is a show on a couple of networks that deal with Hoarding.  It makes me think of my cookbooks.  I have a lot.  I mean A LOT!  Most of which I have never opened other than the day they came in my house.  Some I have had since I was a kid.  My first cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, is still around.  It is old, I am sure it was old when my mom gave it to me all those years ago.  Back to the hoarding shows.  I rarely use any of these cookbooks so why do I keep them?  Byrd doesn't know, I don't really know, except there maybe an outstanding recipe in one of them I can't live without.  The answer to why I keep them is the same response from the people on these shows. I can't live without something I don't use, that's just silly. This kind of freaks me out.  So in order to not think of myself as a hoarder of cookbooks I have made a deal with Byrd.  I will find a recipe in each one of them that is worth keeping, if I don't find one we can give it to whoever takes used, or hardly used cookbooks.  All of the kitchen gadgets are safe for the moment, they aren't in plain sight.  I hoard those too.  Now where the hell do I start?  After deliberating on this Byrd and I decided that on the nights we cook from a book, she will pick the book and I will find a recipe.  This being the first time she couldn't decide. She handed me two.  Good Housekeeping Favorite Recipes Grill It! and Shall We Gather(This is a regional cookbook from my childhood home town of Wetumpka, AL). I looked through both and decided to go with Grill It! Dave at MYOTG has been using pineapple in several recipes and they all have looked great.  With that in mind this recipe jumped off the pages.  Jerk Steak Kabobs with Pineapple Salsa.

Jerk Marinade
2 green onions, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Mix all ingredients together.
I used a 1 1/2 lb boneless sirloin cut into 1 inch cubes.  I put the steak in a zip top bag and then poured on the marinade.  The recipe says to marinate the steak for 15 minutes, I had more time than that so it bathed for 2 hours.
After smelling and making the marinade I decided to make a second batch to use with some vegetables.  I sliced red onion, squash and zucchini and marinaded those for an hour.
 I put everything on my little hibachi.
The recipe said to serve the Jerk Kabobs with a pineapple salsa. I made this first and let it sit in the fridge while everything else was prepared.  I made a few changes to the salsa for my tastes.  I added extra cilantro.

Pineapple Salsa
2 limes
1 ripe pineapple (rind removed) cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 green onion, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

I pulled the meat off the grill first to let it rest while I finished the second batch of veggies.  Now all together.
With the salsa now.
First things first, this was delicious.  The meat was tender and full of flavor.  Byrd normally doesn't like allspice due to its cinnamony taste, but it was subtle enough and with everything else worked well.  It had just the right amount of sweet and heat.  The vegetables as well.  Although next time I would leave the cayenne out of the veggie marinade, all together it was a little spicy.  The pineapple salsa was fantastic, a great accompaniment to the meat.  A bite with all three was even better.  I will be using this marinade for all sorts of things in the future.   There were a lot of tasty looking recipes in this book and I can't wait to try more. 1 cookbook saved.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pepperoni Pizza Muffins

Yesterday morning I was in the middle of my routine of coffee and blog reading, when I came across these from Noble Pig.  Pepperoni Pizza Puffs.  I knew immediately what I was going to have for lunch.  I share the love for pizza that is talked about, I fully understand the want for pizza 6 nights a week.  After reviewing the recipe, I had to make a few changes due to what was on hand.

3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar cheeses mixed
1 cup turkey pepperoni diced
Pizza sauce from a jar
A few shakes of garlic powder, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper

This came together quick.  Mix the flour and baking powder.  Then add in the egg and milk.  Once incorporated add in the pepperoni and cheese.  Wait 10 minutes.  It looks kinda thin at first but in thickens up nicely after the wait time.
Noble Pig says to evenly distribute them into 24 greased mini muffin pans.  I am not very good at even distribution so we only got 22.  You can see the two empty lonely muffin cups.
After 23 minutes in the 375 oven they were done.
I heated up the pizza sauce in the microwave and added in a the seasonings.
These were absolutely delicious.  Between Byrd and I we ate all 22 for lunch.  I was full but I could have eaten them all by myself.  These were great for lunch, but then again they would be great for any meal/snack/party etc.  Thank you Noble Pig.  The possibilities are endless with a base like this.  I can't wait to try many more combos.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

White Chocolate Cake with Lemon Cream

Easter this year we were in charge of bringing dessert as well as the sacred Prime Rib.  We are in charge of this because when leaving Publix the other day Byrd saw the cover of Women's Day Magazine.  On the cover was a beautiful three layered cake.  A white chocolate cake with lemon cream to be exact.  Although we didn't buy the magazine she found the recipe as soon as we got home, then called her mom, and just like that we are in charge of dessert.  Until recently we never baked, but we were up to the challenge.  There were only going to be  6 of us at Easter so we didn't really need a three layer cake, we decided to just make a 2 layer cake and eat the 3rd layer for a Saturday snack.  Other than that we followed the recipe.  We made the cakes on Saturday to get them done, our oven was going to be taken Sunday morning.  The cake came together beautifully. We couldn't find candied lemon peel, so we opted to cover the top with lemon zest and wheels.
Beautiful cake.
So pretty.
With the cake finished we put it in the fridge to set while the prime rib was finishing.  At this point all was good.  Then we got in the car.  Now we had discussed the short drive, and had a plan.  Byrd would drive and I would hold the cake so there would be no unnecessary jolts.  As we pulled out of our driveway and headed down the street the top layer of the cake started to slowly slide off the bottom layer.  The next 10 minutes were a constant struggle to keep the top layer on, while all of the insides slowly melted on to the cake stand.
Nothing left in the middle.
Lesson learned, when bringing dessert it should only be one layer. or just decorate it there.  That is what Duff does, we watch the show, why didn't we think of that. Not that this is anything comparable to anything on that show, but for us a masterpiece.   Everyone was polite and still said it looked great, but I know what it looks like.  All in all it was a delicious cake and I guess that is what matters in the end.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Prime Rib

Everybody has family traditions. Byrd's family has the Easter Prime Rib. It is the only meat that can be served.  I love this tradition.  This year will be a little different from the years past, instead of cooking everything in one house we are cooking at home then transporting our items. This year as usual we are in charge of the protein, but since we have done some baking lately we took on dessert as well. A double layered White Chocolate cake with Lemon Cream.  It is not a far drive to Byrd's parent's house, so no problem. There were going to be 6 of us at dinner so I got an 8.5 pound Ribeye Roast.  I had the butcher at our local Publix do the prep work for me on this one.  He removed the bones then tied them back on for flavor while cooking.
Prime Rib Rub
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 Tablespoons of fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup fresh minced garlic
1/4 cup liquid smoke
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup kosher salt

Give it a good rub down, and let it sit over night in the fridge.
Yesterday morning I got up and preheated the oven to 400, while letting the meat get to room temperature. After 10 minutes of searing the meat on 400, reduce the oven to 225.  This is when I insert the meat thermometer.  We reached 120 internal (rare) about 3 1/2 hours later.  I took it out of the oven and got it ready to travel.  By the time we reached the PIL's internal temp was 138, and ready to slice.
I love prime rib.
Simple and delicious. The crust from this rub is great, and the meat was tender enough to cut with a fork. Great prime rib. We served this with homemade Au Jus, and a creamy horseradish sauce, but they didn't make the picture. Not everybody wants to wait for me to take pictures.  As for traveling with the dessert, I will get to that tomorrow, but here is what it originally looked like.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Farmer's Omlette

With Easter tomorrow, I thought a big breakfast was the best way to start the day of preparation.  I looked out my back window early this morning and saw gray skies.  Not what I wanted for the day.  I sat down with some coffee and read a few blogs, morning ritual,  and came across some very inspiring pictures from My Year on the Grill's Daily Photos.  These took me away from the dreary Birmingham, AL scenery and reminded me of a great breakfast treat from the coast. The Farmer's Omelette at Tacky Jacks in Orange Beach, AL is one of my favorite breakfast items and has been for years. I didn't have everything on hand, but I was not leaving the house before 8 on a Saturday.  

I first diced a potato and roasted them in some olive oil, salt and pepper.  I put them in the oven on 450 and tossed them every few minutes until crispy.  About 20 minutes.
While the potatoes were cooking I:
Diced 2 thick slices of bacon.
Diced some white onion and green bell pepper.
Grated about a cup of mild cheddar cheese, its what I had.
Scrambled 3 eggs, didn't want this to be to big of a breakfast.
Cook the bacon until crispy and remove from omelette pan, don't remove the bacon grease.  Then add in the onions and peppers with a little salt and pepper.  I also added a pinch of CRP for a little spice.  Once they are tender add in the potatoes and then the bacon.  Pour the scrambled eggs on top.
Make sure to move the egg around in the pan as to not burn the bottom.  Once it is almost fully set, top with the cheese.  Then under the broiler until fully set.  Top with a few of the left over potatoes.  Then flip out on to a plate.
My favorite topper for all things eggs.

I am not sure if this is technically an omlette or a fritata.  But either way it is delicious.  I know I will definitely not be hungry while all the Easter prep is going on.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pork Balls

Trying to think of a way to use the thin cut boneless pork chops is sometimes tough.  They are usually used for sandwiches and things of that nature around here, but Byrd came up with a new use last night.  If you have not looked over the deer balls, then this will be new to you.  Here is what we did.  I took 5 thin pork chops and cut them in half.  Pounded them out with a tenderizer, the one in the picture came from my grandmother, it has a hatchet on the reverse side.  Place diced onions and bell peppers inside, and roll them up.  Add a cap full of Pilleteri's, or Dale's/Moore's.  Then wrap a piece of bacon around them and secure with a toothpick that has been soaked in water.  This is as easy as it sounds.  
Then onto the grill, I would say it was about 350, I am not much on temping my little hibachi.  Make sure you constantly mess/roll/flip them in order to not burn one side.  When the bacon is crispy they are done.  
I know this is too many for just the two of us, but this is the main course so 4 per person is about right.  With two left over for a snack tomorrow.  Here they are with Byrd's favorite pregnant food, potato wedges.
I liked these more than the original deer balls.   But then again anything wrapped in bacon is going to be delicious.