Sunday, August 29, 2010


Like many others, I found myself in a state of tomato overload this week, after my garden raiding adventures, gifts from my tomato overloaded neighbors plus a couple of trips to the farmer's market. I use them as much as I can, tomato sandwiches, garnishes on everything and salsa can only go so far, I am almost to the point where I need to start cooking and/or freezing but don't want to do that just yet. I decided to make a batch of Gazpacho!

Gazpacho is a lot of fun, but it does get you some odd looks, "Excuse me waiter... do you know this soup is ice cold?" Really it is quite good; this particular recipe is my favorite. To serve I scraped the inside out of a couple of large tomatoes and froze the empty shells (how cool is that!?) then filled them with the ice cold soup.

2 1/2 Cups of diced up tomatoes (I used several kinds)
1/2 cucumber peeled, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 TBS sesame oil *
2 TBS parsley leaves
1 or 2 chili peppers**
1 cup of vegetable juice (you know... V-8)
Juice from one lime
salt and pepper to taste

* I love the flavor of sesame oil it adds a nice smoky depth, if you don’t like it use olive oil in instead

** These are the unnamed chili peppers from my garden, I have no idea what they are, they are smaller than the one jalapeño that I grew and have a pretty good kick to them. Here is what they look like if you know please tell me.

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth add the vegetable juice until you get the consistency that you want. Put it into a pitcher and chill until ice cold (3-4 hours). When it is time to serve pour into the frozen tomato cups and garnish.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Salmon in Cedar Paper

Because I am a fan of Food Network I feel kind of strange saying this, it is almost sacrilege.  I know that they turn out some really cool menus and for an hour it is amazing but as I was thinking tonight while I made dinner... Iron Chef... well pansies!  A Japanese guy shows them a table full of food yells something in French then gives them an hour to make dinner for four (with two assistants and access to pantry so opulent that King Henry the VIII  would blush).  Do you know what would make it challenging?  If they had their kids running around kitchen stadium or even better mine.

Here is how dinner went at my house the other day... I picked up the kids from daycare at 5:35 or so and took them home and went through the "just got home" ritual that involves two TVs in two rooms with light snacks and drinks (water for Miss Lu and lemonade for Mr. Man, you can guess mine).  A few minutes later I started to make dinner.  It went like this:

I had picked up some Cedar Paper to wrap salmon and cook on the grill,  I put the cedar paper in a pan of water to soak and then pulled some salmon out of the refrigerator...

Mr Man:  "Me hungry, me want a snack"
Bryan:  "I am making dinner kiddo, do you want to wait"
Mr. Man: "Mommy, Daddy says I can't have a snack!"
Bryan: "You can have a snack, I was just asking"
Mr. Man "Me want peanut butter pretzels"

Peanut butter pretzels are his "crack snack" simply a small dish of peanut butter and a small dish of mini pretzels.  He indulges in this particular culinary invention of Miss Lu's at least once a day.

Bryan: "OK do you want anything else?"
Mr. Man: "Batman with Batgirl in it!" 

Mr. Man has a thing for Batgirl, (this is the Batman, from the mid 60s) so I set up the DVR, then put salmon on the paper, cut a lime and a couple of green onions and...

Mr. Man "Me want juice! cold, in a cup with ice!"
Bryan: "Got it! anybody else want anything?"

Absolute silence...  I go back to the kitchen and get the man some juice in a cup with ice, set the lime, onion and rosemary on my salmon and go back hand Mr. Man his cup.

Miss Lu:  "How come he gets a snack and I don't?"
Bryan:  "I looked right at you and asked; the pillow you are laying on gave me more of a response than you did."
Miss Lu: "Mom, Daddy says I can't have a snack!"
Bryan: "I didn't say that I just mentioned that I asked... what do you want?"
Miss Lu: "I don't know, what do we have?
Bryan: "The same things that we always have I'll get the basket"

I get the basket with about 25 assorted snacky things in it from Nabisco Brownie Bites, or Cheese Crackers to Gummy Bears.  Miss Lu picks a chips Ahoy 100 Calorie pack then I go back to the kitchen, I salt and pepper the fish and add a splash of white wine...

Miss Lu: (entering the kitchen) "Now I am thirsty! water... duh!"  you always hope that the teenage attitude will wait until they are, well in their teens... so far no.

So my hope is to see the kids (hopefully mine) running around kitchen stadium soon just to keep them on their toes.  "Morimoto, me want peanut butter pretzels! and watch cars on the computer!"  "Mario, I want a snack, I'm not sure... what do you have?"  "Bobby, Me want to watch Batman with Batgirl in it, and some juice."

So this entire dish including soaking and cooking takes about 20 - 25 minutes took me closer to an hour an 15.

Take the Cedar paper and soak for about 10 minutes.
Add your ingredients to the top I used for each:
1 4-5 oz salmon fillet
2 slices of lime
2 green onions
a stem of rosemary
a splash of white wine
salt and pepper

Tie it up like a present and put it on the grill for about 3 minutes on each side to cook. Couldn't be simpler and couldn't taste better!  Great citrus flavor and the smokey finish was great.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Art Project

Not a food related post, but a lot of fun!  I posted around Easter a project that Miss Lu, Mr. Man and I did the previous year and were repeating this summer to make our artwork complete.  Here is the post if you want read it, but I will summarize it for you.  After the Easter eggs were dyed we took the colored liquid and  put them into individual Zip-Lock bags in the freezer until a combination of hot summer day, slight boredom and over stuffed freezer came together.  Luckily that combination hit us last weekend and it was time for the work play.  Mr. Man and I picked up some watercolor paper on Saturday morning. Once Miss Lu and Kris got home we got started I pulled out the frozen colors and the meat tenderizer...
getting started
The hard part is leaving it alone to melt/dry
A little bit later

 Here it is the finished work! two years in the making!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BBQ Pork Tacos

I think that even if you are an occasional follower of this blog you will notice that I am a big fan of the pig... from pork tenderloins or chops to bacon I use it often especially this summer, it has been hot, so the grill has been getting a greater than normal work out.  A few days ago I had some leftover pork tenderloin in the fridge and wanted something a little different...  BBQ Tacos came to mind.  It turned out to be a really good dish:

The Pork:
I made a few simple changes to my normal BBQ Sauce for this:
1 cup Ketchup
1 TBS Honey
1/4  cup Tequila
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Juice from one Lime
1 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder

After it had lightly simmered for about 20 minutes I put half in the fridge for later to the rest I added about a pound of pork that I had pulled apart then let this cook together for about another half an hour.  While that was going I made a slaw to go on my tacos.

The Slaw:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 minced jalapeno (the only one that my garden has produced)
1 TBS fresh grated ginger
1 TBS sesame oil
1 head of savoy cabbage sliced thin
1 red bell pepper halved then sliced thin

Mix the first three ingredients together and disolve then stir in the next three ingredients.  Add the cabbage and toss together.  Cover and let sit out at room temperature for about 1/2 an hour to temper.  Just before you serve it add the bell peppers.

I know that you are all smart enough to make tacos so I won't go into the step by step here, I used corn tortillas because it is what I had flour would work fine, maybe better.  The finished plate was the perfect weekend lunch, enough for 2 grown ups along with an icy cold Margarita.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Crab Cakes

Sometimes I just get an idea, and I just can't make it stop.  For some reason I got the idea of making crab cakes in my head and was fixated, maybe an episode of Spongebob, whatever started it I couldn't stop thinking about them.   I was at the store a few days later (the one I go to whenever I am not looking for suburban white guy favorites) and found frozen crab claws on sale for 2.79 a pound so I bought a couple of pounds of them and got to work.  First I dropped the claws into a large saucepan of salted water and boiled for about 7 minutes.  I chilled them then started getting the meat.

I did learn a couple of things:
1. When you can't find your crab cracker a small saucepan, swung like a mallet, works well but there is some splatter.
2. The cats simply love anyone who is using a saucepan to smash crab claws, the flying bits of splatter are especially interesting.
3. If a cat and an adult human are jumping towards the same LARGE piece of splattering crab the cat wins.

After I cleaned the claws I pulled the meat apart then added the rest of the ingredients:
3/4 pound of smashed crab claw meat
1/2 cup toasted breadcrumbs
2 TBS coarsely chopped parsley
2 TBS coarsely chopped cilantro
2 TBS mustard
2 TBS Mayo
1 egg
Juice from 1 lime
sprinkle of chipotle chile powder (you know how hot you like it)
As I say so often... Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients together then scoop it out in about 2 oz balls and flatten them... roll them in more toasted breadcrumbs (so I guess you need about 2 cups in total) then put them on a plate and chill for at least 2 hours.  Somewhere in this time take a make a dipping sauce, mine was:

2 TBS mayo
1 TBS heavy cream
side note... when these are the first two ingredients you just can't go wrong!
2 tsp capers chopped up
grated zest from one lime
juice from the same lime
mix together

When you are ready to go heat up some oil (about 1/4 inch deep) in a pan over medium heat and put the crab cakes in for about 4 minutes on each side

I made this dish when my mom and my 11 year old daughter came for the weekend (miss El was staying with grandma for a few days).  If you follow this blog you know that her last visit wasn't a lot of fun for me (if you don't follow I had emergency surgery on her second day of that visit).  We had dinner between time spent in the new pool  reminding me of how much we all love her and how cool she is as a daughter and big sister. The verdict regarding the crab cakes:

2 "Yuck!" (one involved spit)
1 "Can I have some ice cream?"
1 "The crab is yummy the sauce is weird"
2 "I'll take yours too!"

I am one of the last group there, I love the flaky crabby goodness and the simplicity of these.  Plus a sauce made with mayo and heavy cream!  Take them for what they are, I am always happy to see this!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

my garden

I had a different picture in my head when I planted my garden.  I imagined me stepping out of the kitchen door and snipping a little bit of fresh oregano off a branch and putting that into a sauce made with my tomatoes grown in an upside down planter.  "Oh yes," I would say to my guests, "I made everything from the freshest vegetables and herbs grown just outside in my garden.  There is just nothing better than peppers plucked fresh from the vine, is there?"

Do peppers grow on a vine?  How would I know, the graceful, sophisticated herb and small vegetable garden that I pictured turned out to be a three foot wide gash of dirt along the back of my house that the dog enjoys laying in.  There are two sad looking jalapeno pepper plants that have so far produced one pepper, a stem of oregano that could easily be mistaken for a frill pick and an undetermined chili pepper plant that keeps falling flat into my grass where I am sure it will be run over with the mower any day now.  What isn't plain black dirt is mostly over run by some series of strangling vines or my incredible, indestructible ever expanding mint.  Oh yes! I was sure I could contain mint... "no problem"  I told my friends "I planted them in buried five gallon buckets, they will add a nice touch to the edge of my herb garden"   these things are worse than dandelions on crack!  I just cut out a bushel of it two days ago an it is back with a vengeance! I think it is going to climb into the bedroom and murder me while I sleep.

The one thing that did take root well and seems to be thriving in all of this chaos is my Rainbow Chard.  I have no clue how or why but the beautiful, colorful stems shine through everything in my (I guess for lack of a better word) garden.  They stand proud against the back wall of my house the only things that even slightly resemble... well... anything.  I cut some a a couple of days ago, it looks like I have enough of this lovely green  to make maybe two portions. 

The first I served with brined pork chops and a balsamic glaze.  When I was a kid my dad always put vinegar on spinach or whatever green we were eating and that has carried over for me.  The tart flavor adds just a bit of comfort for me.

The pork chops:
4 Cups water
1/4 Cup Kosher salt
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 green onions chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 TBS parsley minced

Mix the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer until salt and sugar dissolve then cool.  Once cool add the pork chops and let them sit refrigerated for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Some chemical stuff takes place during the brining process that makes the meat more moist when cooked.  I have read it and it makes no sense whatsoever to me but it works.  When it is time to cook, take it out of the brine and grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side, I like mine about medium.

The balsamic glaze:
3/4 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary minced
1 TBS brown sugar

Simmer until reduced by half when reduced pour though a strainer and hold hot

The rainbow chard:
1 TBS butter
about 8 leaves of chard
1/2 small onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste

Wash chard then cut the stems out, chop the stems and put in the pan with the butter, garlic and onion and cook until softened.  While that is cooking roll all of the chard up like a cigar and cut into one inch strips add those to the pan and saute until done (maybe another 7-8 minutes).  

I served with mashed potatoes so the plate was potatoes next to the chard with the pork chop on top, sprinkle it all with the balsamic glaze.  This is another time that I am going to say that my picture doesn't do this meal justice.  Really it was wonderful all the flavors and textures played well together.  The tart syrupy vinegar was ever present and the chard did taste a wonderful as it looked.

Friday, August 6, 2010


 Yes that is a little teddy bear on the stick.

Ok... Sssh!  a blog that I follow, TKW attempted to make hoochsicles for us a few weeks back, she deemed them a complete disaster and said that they tasted like Pine sol.  Not the most ringing endorsement that she has ever made but it got my mind going.  "If I get the portions of hooch to sugar to water right I can make these with almost anything!"  So I am blatantly copying her idea, since I know that she is away at a blog her convention (finding ways to make her blog even more fancy-pants) maybe, just maybe I can copy and not get caught.

After I stole the idea to make popsicles with booze in them I started to look for popsicle molds, I couldn't find them anywhere for about a month, now granted I wasn't treating it like a quest for the grail or anything but when I went to the store I would look for them a bit, they just weren't around.  Even though I gave up the last tatters of my "man card" a few weeks ago I still wouldn't ask one of the happy Target employees for directions to the popsicle molds, that is just too much.  Finally I found them, hanging on a hook about 5 feet from the coffee (say there is an idea!) at the grocery store.

Anyway, I take my groceries to the check-out and the woman scanning my items asks, "Oh, popsicles, what are you going to make them with?"

"Strawberries, simple syrup and rum."  That answer will kind of get you a strange look by the way.  If you ask me TOTALLY worth it!  Anyone that follows this blog even occasionally knows that I have kids and I am not a complete jerky dad so I bought 2 sets of molds and made them for all of us, well in two separate, color coded batches, from the same base.  I started with the strawberries:

Quarter one pound of strawberries and cook with 1/2 cup of water until soft then put into a blender, add 2 TBS of simple syrup and blend, strain through a sieve to get out all of the seeds.

Put half back into the blender and set half aside.

To the blender add your kid friendly ingredients, we used strawberry yogurt and smashed bananas, blend again and put into the molds.

Now take the rest of your strawberry stuff and put it into the same blender add 1/3 of a cup of dark rum, blend again and pour that into your other molds.

Freeze them both, the next day you and the kiddos have a perfect treat for the afternoon by the pool! 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Deconstructed Tomato Sandwich

I have been reading, with great envy, all of the posts that my blogger friends have graced us with about the simple but almost perfect tomato sandwich.  They have talked about what a wonderful summer treat it can be... to take a tomato fresh from the vine, put it on (white, wheat, french or flat) bread with a little mayo, or vinegar and just enjoy the little summer heaven that it is.

I planted one of those upside down tomato thingies again this year so far I have 2 tomatoes that are ready to go but that is about it as you can see a lot of leaves but just the two little guys.  So what can I do?  Well my neighbors are away at their church family camp this week and their garden looks great so the obvious answer is to jump our fence and grab all of the booty I can get.  

Miss Lu takes my picture while I raid the garden

I got three or four different kinds of tomatoes then ran back home to make my deconstructed tomato sandwich.  Why a deconstructed tomato sandwich you ask... maybe because deconstructed dishes seem to be popular on Iron Chef?

Not really, I am not good at keeping up with trends (it probably isn't one anyway).  I deconstructed it because I had 4 kinds of tomato and couldn't make a coherent plate.  Two were quartered, one sliced and another diced up, so I toasted some flat bread and put the tomatoes on the side of the plate.  This was really simple the tomatoes are on one side of the plate the toasted flat bread on the other with a basil chiffonade over the entire thing I put a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper on the luscious tomatoes then a dab of mayo on the side and had the perfect dinner.

Ok before any of you call the cops on me, my wonderful neighbors Jennie and John asked me to pick any veggies that ripened in their garden while they were away (thanks guys) but I did feel a little guilty, they were really good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Smoky Orange Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Ok, I know I have done the pork tenderloin to death lately but this is one of the best that I have come across in a long time and I think I owe it to all you before grilling season is over (or before it starts for my friends in the Southern hemisphere).

First you need a quick update from a past post; my cookbook dealer still stops by every week or so, he is keeping me supplied with books, (my latest are an old copy of Chinese Cooking Made Easy and Classic Soups and Stews) plus he has branched out a little bit, not only do I get a couple of books each visit, he is supplying me with periodicals as well. I suspect that he may be using them as gateway literature for people that aren't already hooked (you know the kid on a playground complaining that his mom made his sandwich with Cheddar instead of the Cave Aged Gruyere that he asked for).

Anyway on top of a few books each week I often pick up a grocery bag of Bon Appétit, Saveur or Food and Wine. Some are current some a few years old, which is fine; I mean if I haven't read one it is new to me. Like anyone who is hooked I find myself hiding them from my loved ones, not because there is anything wrong with an occasional culinary magazine but because our house has a bit of a clutter issue, mostly because I live in it and hundreds of magazines don’t help. So when I have a few minutes at home alone I will sneak in a bag of Gourmet magazines and hide them in the back of the closet or under the bed until I can get to them.

A couple of weeks ago I pulled out a 1997 issue of Bon Appétit (Summer Grilling Issue) and found a recipe for Rosemary Orange Chicken which, because of the food I had in the fridge, I changed from chicken to the delicious, if not a bit overused, Pork Tenderloin. So here it is Smoked Orange Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, a very loose interpretation from the above mentioned magazine.

6 oz frozen concentrated Orange Juice (1/2 a can)
1/4 cup white wine
1 TBS stone ground mustard
1 TBS chopped rosemary
2 tsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic minced
A dash of hot sauce if you like

1 Pork Tenderloin, trimmed
Big handful of wood chips soaked in water (I used cherry)

Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a food processor or blender then set glaze aside.

Once your grill is hot put your wood chips in a smoker box or a foil packet with top torn open, let it go for 5 minutes or so to start smoking. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on your pork then put on the grill near the smoke but in a coolish spot, I like the smoky flavor but do not like over cooked pork. Cover and let cook for 2-3 minutes then turn and brush with glaze, cover and repeat until it is cooked the way you like, mine was about medium so it cooked for about 15 minutes in total. When you take it off brush just a bit more glaze on it and let rest covered with a foil tent. The sweet, salty and smoky flavors work so well together and each of them is subtle enough that you can still taste the light pork. I served with arugula... well because it has that beautiful gentle peppery flavor that I just love...  Yeah that’s it.