Monday, May 30, 2011

Back to School

Well the countdown has begun...  it is really all that I have been able to think of for the past week or so, but didn't want to talk about it too much because well, read on.  On Sunday June 5 I hop on a plane and head out.  Now the question I am sure you are asking is where... will I be taking my family on a much deserved tropical adventure?  A high power seminar to aid in my financial growth? No not me I am heading off to school again...

The company I work for has decided that if we put a certain sandwich store in our cafe our sales will increase by 27% (yes that is the number that they gave us).  So next Sunday I hop on a plane and take a round about route to Milford,Connecticut... International headquarters for Subway.  Yes boys and girls a chef with 25 years of experience under his belt is required to spend 2 weeks away from home to learn how to make some sandwiches.  The intensive course includes 37 hours of "in store training" along with 44 hours of classroom experience. 

Add to that, when I was getting all of the registration information together I found out that I also need to take 20... yes twenty on-line classes before I am allowed to attend "Subway University".  So far I am about 14 classes in, most have gone well you can read one of the actual study questions below

Though most of the classes are pretty basic, I have to admit that I had to take the "How to Clean the Restrooms" module more than once before getting a passing grade. 

I  did make sure that my boss paid for the hotel suite with a kitchen so I am thinking that I can work from school for a few posts but I am not sure.  I hear that the seafood is pretty good so we will see what I can come up with.  If any of you know where to get good seafood in Milford Connecticut please pass the info to me soon .

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chicken and Waffles

A few nights ago I was sitting on the sofa with the laptop poking around some of those websites, just at the wrong time Kris walked in, the exchange that took place went like this...

Bryan: (one eyebrow arched) Ooh... Sexy!
Kris: What are you looking at?
Bryan: Nothing sweetie, I'm just poking around on the web..
Kris: What websites?
Bryan: I'm just surfing the web, nothing in particular.
Kris: Epicurious?
Bryan : OK, Food Network but... I mean... look at this video! she mixes chicken stock and maple syrup!  My god, who comes up with this?!?

Kris gave me the arched brow, eyeroll combo that I get sometimes when I act up like that.  Sometimes maybe the foodie stuff gets out of hand, then again who gets to measure that?  I was looking up chicken and waffles on several websites... really what isn't sexy about that?  Let's see you have the savory fried chicken the fluffy waffles the sweet touch of maple syrup and well let's face it there has to be that bit of bacon.  Utter comfort food heaven!

There is quite a bit to this so lets get started.  First I am the only person in my house that likes my food with all the animal parts attached, you know bones and skin bother some people.  Often when I cook chicken or something with the bones in I will quickly filet some between cooking and serving it up.  That being said I decided to bread and pan fry chicken strips for this.

For the Chicken I used two large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips about 3/4 of an inch thick

The Marinate
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp that stuff by the stove*
Marinate overnit

The Flour Mixture
1 1/2 cup all purpose flower
1 TBS salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder

When ready to cook preheat to 375 then heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet to 350 pull chicken out 2 or 3 pieces at a time dredge in flour mixture and fry in the oil until golden brown, about 2 -3 minutes on each side.  Put the strips on a well oiled baking sheet, when all of the strips are done put them into the oven for 10 -15 minutes.

The Waffles
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 TBS white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 TBS melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients together then add milk, eggs, butter and vanilla, mix well.  Spray a pre heated waffle iron with pan spray then cook waffles to golden brown.

The Bacon
Well I won't be insulting cook it the way you like it...

When it is time to serve plate it up and be ready for brunchie comfort food satisfaction.  Like I said above the crispy chicken, fluffy waffles and bacon with that touch of maple syrup work so well together...  Well just give it a try!

*I know a lot of people that keep that container of seasoning by the stove Paula Deen calls hers "house seasoning"  me, I call mine "that can of stuff by the stove" it is 1 part black pepper, 1 part garlic powder, 2 parts table salt.  Sometimes I will add a little chili powder or paprika to it but it is just my go to seasoning for whatever is cooking.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spiced Blood Orange Sorbet

Today (Saturday) I am sitting in my front yard, peddling our wears at the GIANT MULTI FAMILY YARD SALE. I am wearing a coat, gloves have been coming off and on since I got up this morning.  Because the weather is miserable there has been almost no one around.  Yes, May has been absolutely psychotic this year it has given us 90 degrees and sunny for most of a week then a cloudy freezing weekend.  During the week, when it was sunny and hot (and I was a work) I picked up some blood oranges and made this little number.

  Blood Oranges are a favorite of mine not because of the taste really, they may be a little more tart but mostly taste like a standard orange.  The color is absolutely stunning though, look at them! 

Spiced Blood Orange Sorbet
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
grated peel from 3 Blood oranges
1 TBS chopped fresh ginger
3 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
2 cups fresh blood orange juice
juice from one lime

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil over medium/high heat until sugars dissolve then reduce heat.  Simmer until the syrup is reduced by 1/2 (about half an hour).  Pour syrup through a strainer then refrigerate until cool.

Juice blood oranges, I used about 15 to get the 2 cups of juice I needed, then add the lime juice (not needed but adds a little kick) and chill.  When you are ready just mix the syrup and the orange juice together and put into an ice-cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions.  Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, mine took about 6 hours until it was servable.  The next day for the pictures I let the dish temper on the counter for about 10 minutes before I scooped and it turned out a perfect consistency, firm but usable.

How did it taste?  To be honest, in the first bite the ginger comes on a bit strong but quickly mellows.  When I had the dish that you see in the picture it had a sweet flavor with a depth that you don't get often.  It would be wonderful in the middle of a meal or as a light dessert in the summer.  When I make it next time I think I will add a little more cardamom the flowery subtlety was a little lost in the punch of ginger.

How is the yard sale going?  I am sitting in my garage freezing my ass off as I write this but the 50 cents more than makes up for it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shrimp Scampi (My refrigerator broke III)

I do have to admit that our new addition is a good looking refrigerator, though we took it down a peg with the Batman magnets and various papers and artwork that we hung on it.  Now it looks less like a handsome stranger and more like a member of the family.

When the old one went down one of the things that I had to use was the half a bag of shell on shrimp.  I have been beating myself up for not buying them deveined to begin with.  So I left the bag of them in the back of the freezer until it turned into a refrigerator when I was cleaning that out I just couldn't bring myself to throw shrimp away like I did the Tater Tots or freezer burned pita bread.  These guys ended up being Shrimp Scampi with Garlic Basil Linguini. 

The Pasta
2 cups Semolina Flour
2 Large Eggs
2 TBS Olive Oil
1 Package of fresh Basil
3 Cloves of garlic
2 TBS water
Kosher Salt

Mince Garlic and fresh Basil together, add a little Kosher salt and smash into a paste.  Put Semolina Flour into a mixing bowl, add eggs and olive oil then add the garlic, basil paste and mix together.  This mixture will  most likely be kind of dry so add your water to this to get the consistency that you want.  I don't think there is a better way to tell if it is OK than "psychic feel"  When it is all mixed together kneed for about 5 minutes on a lightly flowered surface then tightly wrap in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for about an hour.

When you are ready put it through the pasta press, pressing to be a little bit thinner each time through until it is where you want it then cut into fettuccine sized noodles and hang until you are ready.

The Shrimp
1/2 pound raw shrimp (more or less) cleaned
4 TBS butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Peel and devein a whole mess of shrimp, this was a little bit less than a half pound, or you could just buy them deveined then you don't have to mess with this annoying process.  Melt butter in a skillet then add garlic and saute until tender.  Add shrimp and cook until almost done (just starting to turn pink) then add wine, red pepper and fresh parsley and cook until done just a minute or two more, salt and pepper to taste.  Pull shrimp out with a slotted spoon and set aside, covered so it stays warm keep the juices for the pasta.

For the pasta bring a quart of water to a boil then add fresh pasta and a little salt.  Boil until tender, about 5 minutes.  I have to admit that I am having some trouble getting fresh pasta cooked just right, it seems that there is only about 1.2 seconds between half cooked and mush.  I am getting closeer though, but not ready to take the fresh pasta on the road yet.  When it is done (or as close as you can get it) drain then add to the juices and butter from the shrimp and saute over high heat for a few minutes.  Dump the pasta onto your serving plates then add the shrimp to serve.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Blogaversery... Anniblogery... I don't know.

Holy wandering thoughts Batman, Its been 2 years!

Yes folks it was two years ago today Kris and I were taking the kiddos the zoo for an afternoon of fun, the following conversation took place...

"I think I am going to write a food blog, that is a pretty unique idea huh?"
"I think that is a great idea."
"I could talk about food and our family, talk out some of those things that bore normal people, you know just talk about the things that... well just have some fun, I like to write"  
Kris stopped me, "You can stop overexplaining yourself again, its a good idea, do it."
Later that day I sat down at the computer and opened an account to be a blogger...  I wasn't sure what I was writing about... I mean food but it was all kind of haphazard and who the heck was going to read it anyway?  After several weeks my good friend, the infamous Mrs.A introduced me to TKW From there I met my good friend from down under Camilla and all of a sudden I was part of a blogging community some of my favorites are just to the right of this entry >>====> please visit them... they are all great!

Kris has always been great she puts up with my odd food experiments and the occasional "after that maybe we should just order pizza."  She never complains about finding 3 or 4 pictures of our adorable children on a memory card with 257 pictures of food.  She also has given up with the question, "where is the camera?"  answer "kitchen counter," and bought me one of my own for Christmas.

Anyway I just want to take a moment to say to all of you that have been so supportive your comments mean a lot to me and for those of you that don't say so much thanks for stopping by... please say "hi" the sometime. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cured Snapper (My regrigerator broke II)

There were a few good meals that came from cleaning the refrigerator week, I will make note of them as they come up but our new refrigerator is now in place!  He really is a handsome thing quite a larger than his predecessor.  I am a bit worried though here is Kris' actual Facebook post the day the new fridge was put in place...
Is it possible..... to be in love.... with a refrigerator???? If so I think I am! lol
I know that it seems like an innocent joke and all but a couple of nights ago I got up to get a drink and Kris was sitting on the floor with a couple of candles drinking a glass of red wine and leaning against the new refrigerator and ...  Well it is just too upsetting...
Anyway right after the old refrigerator went down I pulled out a good sized piece of Red Snapper and decided to salt cure it.  I do that once or twice a year with Salmon and make Gravlax The method here is about the same but the fish and flavorings are different.

The first thing that you have to deal with is the fish it isn't cooked and it won't be.  If you buy fish from someone you trust you can get a sushi grade fish... However most health departments recommends that all fish that will be consumed raw be commercially frozen, that is colder than 10 degrees below zero for at least 72 hours.  That takes care of any of those annoying parasites.

To cure, mix Kosher salt and sugar, about 1/3 cup each then add fresh cracked black pepper, I am sot sure how much maybe a teaspoon and a half.  Turn your fish over and poke a few holes in the skin with a knife, put a little bit of your salt mixture on a sheet plastic wrap then lay the fish skin side down.  Top with most of the rest of the salt mixture then grate the fresh ginger on top.  I didn't measure the ginger but I used all of the ginger in the picture above.  Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and put in a pan at the bottom of your refrigerator, it takes about 3 days to cure.  I turn it over a couple of times each day but break with tradition and don't weigh it down (many instructions that I have read suggest laying a brick on top).  There is usually a little bit of liquid that forms in the pan just dump that out every day.  After it is done curing unwrap an rinse all of the salt and spices off and it is ready to serve.  I use a sharp knife and slice it thin the top well whatever... 
For the picture at the top of the page I spread garlic infused olive oil on a multi-grain flat bread the grilled it until toasted.  It is topped with cream cheese and the cured snapper.  I love the salty meat and the texture is just wonderful.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Apple Proscuitto Stuffed Pork (My refrigerator broke)

I was going to write some posts about how life has a way of getting in the way of things, when life all of a sudden got in the way of things... (is that irony?  I forget) Kris and I have been looking around the house the past few weeks deciding what we need to repair and/or replace around the house.

  • Fix air conditioning in her car
  • Replace kitchen counters (ours look like they came from a 1970s era trailer home)
  • Replace dish washer (current one sounds like a train coming through our kitchen)
  • Replace net around trampoline (a hole that I can walk through doesn't exactly keep kids safe)
  • Finish the bathroom that I started 2 years ago
  • Fix garage door

The list goes on for quite a bit, and since there are some big ticket items we are trying to prioritize.  So we were in the kitchen one afternoon discussing those priorities when Mr. Man asked for an ice-cream cone, he likes those foil wrapped chocolate ice-cream cones.  Kris pulled one out of the freezer opened it up and it was liquid.  Everything in our freezer was in some state of thawed and the refrigerator was sort of... kind of coolish. 

So what do we do?  Throw out everything that we can from the freezer (sorry tater tots we need the space) use the freezer as a refrigerator and cook a mess of stuff before it turns on us.  Our freezer was about the size of that refrigerator that I kept in my closet in college, but we made it work.  Since that item just moved from a couple of months down the road to the top of the list we started to look for a replacement refrigerator then wait for payday until we could get one.

So I went on a frenzy of cooking, from Prosciutto topped kids pizza to... well over the next few posts you'll see.

First up Apple Prosciutto stuffed Pork Tenderloin:

The Stuffing:
One Apple diced up
3 slices of prosciutto
About a TBS of thyme leaves
3/4 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 diced Onion
Enough apple cider or chicken broth to moisten

Mix all of this in a bowl and set aside while you get your pork tenderloin ready.  Trim the silver skin off the tenderloin then slice open from end to end.  Fill with stuffing and roll closed, this should be a little too full so it needs to be held closed.  I would have trussed but didn't have an inch of cotton string so I pinned it closed with tooth picks, not pretty but it worked.

Heat up about a TBS of oil in an oven safe pan, I used the iron skillet then brown the meat on all sides that takes maybe 5-6 minutes then put it into a 350 degree oven for another 20-25 minutes.  When it is done let it rest on the counter, covered with foil, for about 5 minutes then slice and serve.