Monthly Archives: February 2012

Shrimp Salad

I had fun playing around with some ideas for Tapa’s night this month, and I finally narrowed it down, and made a final decision, but it wasn’t easy.

I had thought about making some Sausage Rolls, I have some HP sauce in the cupboard and Sausage Rolls and HP sauce are ‘da bomb’ together.  Whoops, did that date me?  Too bad.   Then I had the idea to make some Pizza bites, but…  that really didn’t excite me.    Then I thought, hmmm, Mini Quiché bites.    I have mini tart pans, and can make a bunch up at a time, I can make one batch vegetarian and the other with some lovely ham and bacon pieces in it them.  But it didn’t get me that fired up.  I mean I have to be excited or at the very least somewhat enthusiastic about what I’m making.    Then I had that “AHA, I GOT IT” moment, whew, that one almost hurt.  IGA had some jalapeno’s on sale this week, and they were a decent price and looked good.   And I needed to replenish my stock of Jalapeno’s in my freezer anyways, so Stuffed Jalapeno’s it was.   And I like to make have a choice for my friends who don’t care for meat, so I decided to cook the shrimp I bought the other day, since I didn’t get them cooked and had to freeze them,

Frozen Shrimp,defrosting




Cooled and ready to peel

and make a Shrimp Salad.    And while I didn’t have any crackers for the Shrimp Salad I did have some Fillo dough in the freezer so I made some Fillo cups.

I found out Fillo dough is rather picky.   It likes to be kept moist, dries out faster than I’ve ever seen anything dry out, but once you’ve got some butter brushed across it, it molds like a dream.  Melt some butter, I think I used a quarter of a stick, just make sure you have a pastry brush handy.    Unroll your sheet of Fillo dough, about three inches wide or so and cut into one long length.    Keep the rest rolled up in the plastic wrapper, it does stay together better that way.  (and make sure you take it out of the freezer about an hour before you want to use it.   It  does not unroll easily when frozen.   Please learn from my mistakes.)  Brush butter across one or two sheets of dough at a time, and stack to the side.   I found it was easy to do that.  Then take a sharp knife and cut that length into thirds.   At this point pick up about 4 sheets or so of the dough and place into your mini muffin or tart pan.  Pressing the dough down into the cup, repeat until all cups are done.   Bake in a 350 deg. preheated oven for about 10 minutes or so until the cups are a lovely light brown.

If you have more dough, cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.   I think you could also flavor the butter with some garlic or …  just to add a little pizzaz.
Set out with the Shrimp Salad and let your guests spoon the salad into the fillo cups.

As you can see I got to the dish a little late in the day, and most of it was eaten already.

Shrimp Salad

1 lb. Shrimp, peeled, cut into thirds, poached in some seasoned water  (I boiled some water with a bay leaf, some peppercorns, cayenne pepper, Natures Seasons and dill)
4 stalks celery, cut into a fine dice
1 tablespoon onion, minced  (could use red onion here for prettiness sake)
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Mix together and taste for seasoning, then refrigerate.

Pepper Beef

You ever change what you’re cooking in mid stream?    I did the other night.   I had a lovely sirloin steak that had been thawed a couple of days and needed to be cooked.   I just didn’t want grilled steak and salad, however good that might be, I wanted something different.   And as I pondered the steak, I realized I had a couple of peppers in the fridge that needed to be eaten, and I thought Fajita’s!!!   I’m always up for something Mexican.  So I get the peppers out, slice them, slice an onion, get out the avocado, take a picture of them sitting so pretty on the cutting board.   After taste testing a couple of green pepper strips that is.  You have to make sure of your produce, it has to taste right.

Then as I got my stuff together, sorta, I got interrupted a couple of times, and I realized what I really wanted was something vaguely Chinese.     Actually I got the idea as I was slicing the meat, and getting interrupted a couple of times, while doing so and forgot to take pictures, grrrrrr.    So imagine me slicing the steak on an angle in thin slices.    Then imagine me dumping a tablespoon of cornstarch over the beef and mixing it together while I’m sautéing the peppers and onions.  (this is a neat trick by the way, it tenderizes the meat a little, giggle)    I also added a thinly sliced garlic clove to the mixture.

And some of the mushrooms that were hiding in the fridge, they thought they could escape, but I found them, sorry, it was a long week and I’m feeling a little silly here.     At any rate, I finished it off with a splash of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil and served it over a bed of rice.   I had such a good dinner.

Such a simple meal, but tasty.     And if I’d wanted to I could have made this into fajita’s by omitting the soy sauce and sesame oil, and adding a sliced jalapeño or three, and sautéed them all together and stuffed into a flour tortilla.   With the aforementioned avocado and some cheese as well.   OK, I know you’re not supposed to put cheese on fajita’s but I think cheese goes with everything.

Now to go and clean house and get ready for Tapa’s night.    I’ve got something in mind for that, just have to get it all together, and yes, I will take pictures.   In fact I’m going to go and change the batteries in the camera right now so I can do my thing.

Chile Verde

As you may have surmised from previous posts, I’m Danish, but I grew up in Canada.  Also and luckily for me, my mother was a great cook, she loved to try new stuff, as well as the old tried and true.   So when we moved to Canada, she cooked mainly Danish dishes, but would also branch out and make Italian food, or East Indian curries as well as some more mainstream Canadian foods.  But thanks to her willingness to try new foods, myself and all of my sibs cook pretty much internationally.   I make dishes from my Danish childhood, some Chinese, some east Indian, many very American foods, and Mexican.     Pretty much whatever floats my boat and tickles the taste buds of my husband.

I got introduced to Mexican Cuisine after meeting my husband to be and visiting him in his hometown.     I had always wanted to try it, but in my hometown, eating ethnic was pretty much either Chinese food or Canadian.   (I did say I was Danish, so to me Canadian food was ethnic).    I look back now and laugh.    I laughed that day too, but…   The day my boyfriend,  and I met his sister and her boys for dinner at a Mexican Restaurant, and the waitress placed a bowl of red salsa and a dish of tortilla chips on the table and I watched as they shoveled  Salsa onto tortilla chips and ate them like they were starving.   As they munched away, they made little happy sounds and said stuff like, “Ooh this is so good’ as they were shoveling the chips and salsa in,  so I wanted to try it too.      I copied them, scooped a nice big chunk of salsa onto a chip, and popped it into  my mouth and started to chew, just as they warned me to take a smaller bite, but WHOOO WEEE    They had warned me, but I was like, “gee I like spicy food, how hot can it be’?.   Well, the tears started running down my face, I had trouble catching my breath, my lips and tongue were on fire, and but, wow, was that good stuff.    After downing the contents of my glass of water, and a couple more,  I was ready to try it again.    The next time, I was a little more cautious of the salsa, but I have to say, it was still pretty darn awesome.    And I don’t think I’ve ever had salsa that good or hot again.     Seriously, I fell in love with Mexican food, and have continued to enjoy it when I can.   Luckily for me I used to live in a place where there were some good, some great and some fantastic Mexican restaurants on almost every corner.   Sort of like the Chinese restaurants were when I was growing up.     Along the way I also started to learn how to cook some Americanized versions of the Mexican dishes I liked.     After all, a person can’t go out to eat all the time.

 I now live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of Mexican restaurants, and those that we do have, don’t have the dishes we are used to.   So, now if we get in the mood for Mexican, I go ahead and make it.    One of our favourite dishes is Chile Verde, a pork stew made with green Chile’s and Jalapeno’s.

When I make it, I make a lot, it freezes well, and is an easy to put on the table meal.
Start with a good cut of pork, slice it up into chops, I buy my pork at Sam’s Club and generally get a whole loin at a time.   It works out cheaper that way per pound and I know what I’m getting.

Brown them in a little olive oil, or if you’re being really bad, some rendered lard (you just made from the fat trimmings).

Brown them well on each side, sprinkling a little salt on them after turning them once.    After removing the chops from the pan, cut them in bite size pieces and dump them into a large pot.

Add some fresh Tomatillo’s, some green chiles,a couple of jalapeno’s,  a little salt, maybe a 1/2 tsp. or so, cover and let simmer for a couple of hours.   If you can’t find fresh tomatillo’s, then add some canned salsa verde, checking to make sure the main ingredient is tomatillo’s.    Quite frankly, either method works.
After simmering, let cool and put it in the fridge overnight.    The next day, pull it out, heat it up and check for seasonings, this is when I add a couple more jalapeno’s, finely minced,  (we like it hot), and to finish it off, a can of Stokes Green Chile sauce.    If you can’t find some Stokes, then add a small can of green enchilada sauce at this point.   Simmer for about an hour and serve with fresh hot homemade tortilla’s.

I love Chile Verde, it is the most versatile meal.   We like it in a bowl with the tortilla’s on the side.

Basic recipe for Chile Verde

2 lbs. Pork Chops

8-10 tomatillo’s, with the paper husk removed and discarded. 

or one jar of tomatillo salsa or Salsa Verde (Herdez is a good brand

8-10 Fresh Anaheim Chiles, Charred with their skin removed, or

4 lg. cans chopped green chiles

Salt to taste.

2 chopped (or more) Jalapeno’s, seeded if you like or not.

Simmer for at least one hour or more, refrigerate and finish off the next day by simmering for at least another hour with the addition of a can of Stokes Green Chile Sauce or a can of Green Enchilada Sauce, serve with home-made tortillas.

Just make it how you would like it to taste.   Experiment, add more or less of any of the ingredients to make it your own bowl of green.

 I make my own Tortilla’s as well, it just adds something to the experience.    And I’m not too proud to say that a good tortilla mix is not a bad thing at all.   I like Quaker Harina Preparada para tortilla mix.

Divided and ready to roll out.     Rolled and ready for the pan.     Yummy.

You cook the tortilla’s in an ungreased pan over medium heat for about 30 seconds on the first side and then another 20 seconds or so for the second side.   We like a little char on our tortilla’s but you can cook them how you like them.   As they are homemade tortilla’s they do dry out fast, so I butter them lightly, and then wrap them in a piece of aluminum foil.  This keeps them soft and warm.

Home Made Spaghetti Sauce

Have you ever looked at the labels on commercial Spaghetti Sauce?   Next time you’re out shopping, pick up a can or jar of it and read the label.    Notice how much sugar is in there, whether it’s in the form of sugar or high fructose corn syrup or something else that means sugar.    I don’t know about you but I try not to buy anything with HFCS in it and quite frankly, why do you need so much sugar in something that is basically just tomatoes and herbs?   I started making my own spaghetti sauce years ago and we like it better than any of the commercial brands out there.    I also use it as a base for lasagna, so when I make sauce, I make a lot.   I figure if I’m going to be spending time in the kitchen, I am going to make it count for something.     If you have your own home canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste, I applaud you, I don’t so I go to the store and buy tomatoes in several different forms.

As you can see from the picture, I open cans, and then add it to the browned meat, and after that, correct for seasonings.   And I only use the No Salt added tomato products.   We don’t need the salt and certainly don’t miss it either in this recipe.    Check out how much sodium is in those other cans of tomatoes.   I think you’ll be surprised.

 Begin by chopping up a large onion, I like a fine dice.   Throw it in the pan with some olive oil and cook it till it just starts to change color, then add a couple or three crushed and chopped cloves of garlic.   I would say put in as much garlic as you like here.   Cook for just a minute or so, and then remove from heat, and reserve in a separate dish.  If using fresh mushrooms, throw them in the pan and just let them cook just for a minute before you add your meat to the pan, brown it and cook until it is no longer pink.   Break it up a little with your spatula and then add the onions and garlic to the meat, let it cook for a few minutes more, then add the Italian herbs to the meat mixture.
Meat with Herbs and Tomato Paste (sorry for the blurry picture)

I just found a great product called Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs blend. Check the link out here,  It comes in a tube and you can find it in the refrigerated section of the veggie section in your grocery store.   It is a little pricey, but well worth it for the fresh taste.     Or you can add some dried Italian seasoning to the meat as you’re browning it, this seems to help open up the flavour of the dried herbs.     While the meat is browning open up those cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste.   If using canned mushrooms, go ahead and add them with the tomatoes.  Dump the tomatoes into a large pot, mix it up with your spoon until the tomato paste is mixed in and when the meat is ready, add it to the pot.   Taste it here to help correct the seasoning, and if necessary add more herbs.  And if it seems to acidic, add a teaspoon of sugar.  I also add a few tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese and then simmer for about an hour  or two or three over low heat, stirring from time to time.     Cook up your favourite pasta, whether it be spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair and serve the sauce over the pasta or however you like to serve it.    And it makes a lot.   I freeze the rest and pull it out when we’re in the mood for Spaghetti or Lasagna.   If I’m making Lasagna, I add a can of diced tomatoes and then layer it with cheeses and noodles.

Ready for the freezer.

This is also a very company friendly dish.  You can stretch it with a couple of cans more of tomatoes, a tad more seasoning, cook up lots of spaghetti and serve with a green salad and a loaf or two of garlic bread.

Here’s the recipe;

1 lb. lean ground beef (feel free to use Ground Turkey instead)
1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 large. onion, diced
2-5 cloves garlic, minced (to your taste)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or 2 small cans mushrooms
3  16 oz. cans diced tomatoes, no salt added  (Marzano Tomatoes if you can get them, they really add to the flavour.)
2-3  6 oz. cans tomato sauce, or 1 large can, no salt added
3 cans regular tomato paste
1 can tomato paste with Italian herbs added
3-4 tbsp.  Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs, or 1-2 tsp.  dried Italian Seasoning.
1-2  tbsp.  Amore Double Concentrated Tomato Paste
2-4 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Sugar, 1-2 teaspoons, optional

Olive oil for browning.

Prime Rib Roast Part Two, Updated

I left you hanging, I know, my bad, but I wanted to detail what I did to make what I thought were the best roasts I’ve made so far. (talk about a convoluted sentence, whew).
Every time I make a roast like this, I try to do better, I tweak, I twiddle, I play with my meat, but one thing I’ve striven for is to get it perfectly cooked throughout, which to my mind means evenly cooked.   My own personal preference is for RARE, but my DH likes his between Medium and Medium Rare.   The roast before this last one I got Medium Rare, but my DH likes his between Medium and Medium Rare, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed my piece of meat, I wanted to make one that he would consider perfect for him.

First the Medium Rare roast which I made around New Years.   I’m really kicking myself but I totally spaced getting a picture of this as it came out of the oven, and I just didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures of the meat on the plate as we had guests in that day, so you’ll just have to see what I had left of the two rib roast, it was just over 5 pounds.
I want to stick in a couple of credits here.   I have an old(er) cookbook called Woman’s Day Collectors Cook Book, published in 1960.   On page 38 there is a recipe for Miracle Roast Beef.   It instructs you to place a roast in the oven at 200 deg. and roast it for one hour per pound.   And says that it makes a perfect rare roast.   I’ve done it in the past, with a lovely rump roast and it does work.   However, I didn’t care for the grayness on the outside of the roast.   Picky, picky, picky.   I know.    But I ran across this recipe for a Foolproof Standing Rib Roast  on Paula Deens part of the Foodnetwork site.   And decided to make the roast using both methods.   (I know, I confuse myself sometimes too).
At any rate…
To begin with I prepared a nice little bed of celery stalks and mushrooms for the roast to rest on.   I discovered this trick last year, and I think it helped the roast, flavour wise.   At any rate the mushrooms were very tasty, giggle.   After the roast was cooked, natch.  And always roast the meat, rib side down, fat side up.

I allowed the roast to rest at room temperature for a couple of hours before I prepared it for the oven.

I then took a very sharp knife and shaved some of the fat from the ends of the ribs, and set that aside.

I took a small handful of butter and buttered the ends of the roast, yes, I added more fat, I can’t believe the layer of flavour that added.   I think you could use olive oil as well, but I had the butter so I used it, so there!   Everything’s better with butter.    This seals off the ends so they don’t dry out as the roast is cooking.

Salted and peppered the roast, then placed the shaved off fat on top of the salt and pepper.   It basted the meat, beautifully.

Then I placed it in a 375 deg. oven and let it cook for about 45 minutes, at 3 pm, then  turned the oven off as per Paula’s instructions.   However, I didn’t have the luxury of time, because I’d been baking a Lemon Meringue pie so I had to fudge the timing a little.     I let it sit for about an hour and then turned the oven back on to 200 deg. when the internal temperature hit 100 deg.   I wanted to let the temp come up to 130 degrees before I pulled it out of the oven, if the temp looks like it’s rising too fast, turn off the oven.     I did, then turned it back on again.  At about 5:15 I turned the oven up to 425 deg. and let it roast for about half an hour, this gave me a lovely brown on top and more important, made sure the oven was hot enough for the Yorkshire Pudding I was going to bake.    I pulled the roast out around 5:45, pardon me for not being more specific, but I had a few things going on at that time.   Put it on the cutting board, covered it with some foil and  a towel, and let it rest while the Yorkshire Pudding baked and I got the potato’s mashed and the gravies made.  I always make Au Jus and a regular brown gravy.   And by the time I cut it, the internal temp was up to 140 deg.   Next time I’ll pull the roast at 135 deg. and let it rest til it gets to 145 or a little more, that will give me the Medium that I’ll want.

At any rate this is all that was left of the roast, and as you can see, the meat was done evenly throughout.  It was a lovely piece of meat and we really enjoyed it.

The outside of the meat
The cut side, see how evenly it’s cooked?
Perfectly cooked, medium rare all the way.

I love it when a plan comes together, or is that a recipe comes together?  Hmmm,  at any rate, if you happen to have a special occasion coming up or just want to try your hand at a Prime Rib roast or find it on sale, lucky person you, go ahead and make this.  You won’t regret it.   And if you happen to have leftovers, there’s nothing like a good French Dip sandwich.   Oh and the ribs, well, I usually put some good barbeque sauce on them, and stick them back in the oven for a couple of hours and VOILA!!!  Fantastic BBQ ribs.   Tender, juicy and I have to stop now and go make me something to eat, I made myself hungry.

I made another Rib Roast for Valentines Day, cliché I know, but…   At any rate I managed to remember to take pictures  this time after removing it from the oven, and before I cut it.
And again, I used the Paula Deen method and will never go back to using any other way of cooking it, ever.    This time I pulled the roast at 135 degrees, let it come up to 145 deg.  and it was perfect for my DH.   And the flavour, well, if you want a good piece of roast, you need to buy a good piece of meat to start with.   I bought some Angus Beef and it was worth it.   The meat cost about $25, but we got 2 meals out of it.   All we cared to eat of some lovely prime rib, and then there was enough to make some French Dip Sandwiches later on.   Oh and I can’t forget the ribs, another lunch right there.    If you look at going out for a Prime Rib Dinner, you’re probably looking at at least $40 for two people, and then there’s the tip, drinks, appetizer…   I know it usually costs us at least $75 for our meal if we want Prime Rib in a restaurant.   And you never get a large piece, which my DH likes.  Just sayin….


Prime Rib Roast, Part One

I like to astound, mystify and generally amaze people by my casualness about cooking a Prime Rib Roast. (Y’all know I’m kidding, right?)    So many people get totally intimidated by this cut of meat and while I can somewhat sympathize, I don’t really understand it totally.   If anything, this is one of the easiest cuts of meat to cook.   The problem lies in the fact that it’s really pretty pricey and that is scary in and of itself.    But if you find it on sale, and try to cook one, I think you would be surprised at how easy it can be to cook one.

Roast resting on some celery stalks and with mushrooms nestled beside it.

I’ve been making Prime Rib Roasts for many years, and had a blast cooking these roasts when we were out camping in the wilds, away from civilization, (we didn’t even have electricity or running water), just an RV with a large oven.   I insisted on the large oven when we bought our Motorhome and have never regretted it.  However,  I digress, or got sidetracked or …

If you’ve ever cooked a roast, you can make a Prime Rib Roast, it really is that simple.    I still don’t know if I was fearless or stupid or …  but the first time I cooked a Prime Rib Roast I cooked a 16 pound one.   And guess what?   It was fine.  In fact it was downright good.   And what made it even better, we ate it while we were camping out in the woods.   Just something about cutting into a big old hunk of meat, way out in the backwoods.  (sorry to any vegetarians who are reading this).    It was primitive and good, or is that good and primitive?    And it also made quite an impression on my fellow campers.    And when a local store happened to have a killer sale on the roasts a while later, I did it again,only this time I cooked two of those roasts, again while camping.   In fact for years, that’s the only time I made Rib Roasts.  While we were camping.   And then watched everyone fighting over the rib bones that were left.    I’m not talkin’ about the dogs either, sigh, what grown men will do when faced with something like a big ol’ meaty bone.   Gets that primitive streak going, I tell ya.

At any rate, over the years I’ve refined and refined my technique and I think I finally have it almost perfect, at least til the next time when I make it a little different   tweak it some more.

There are a few basic rules that I always follow.

1) Pick the most appetizing piece of meat that you can, if the butcher is impatient with you, tough, it’s your money.   I don’t like a ridge of fat running through the middle of the roast, and have rejected a lot like that.   For my taste, it makes the meat too greasy.   Take a look at both ends of the roast.   And my own personal preference, I don’t like the meat cut from the bone.  (unlike the picture above, it was the best looking roast I could find that day)  While it may make the meat easy to carve, it also loses a lot of juice and I don’t think the meat is as tender.

2) Take it out of the fridge for at least 2 (two) hours before cooking, to warm up a little, it cooks so much more evenly when it’s close to room temperature.

3) I forgive myself if it isn’t perfect.  Life happens.

4)  I use my meat thermometer!  This is really, really important.  If you have one of the wired kind, like a Polder, great.  I monitor the roast constantly, I watch the temperature, and in the past adjusted the oven temp all the time.   But not any more, I finally got one of  the best, most perfectly cooked roasts  this week.  (and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to take a picture of it after it came out of the oven, sometimes I really tick myself off.)

5) Make sure you buy a roast that’s big enough.    I usually figure on 1.5 lbs per person.  YUP, 1 1/2 lbs per person.    That is, if you’re cooking a roast with ribs.  The rule of thumb for most people is that you get two servings of meat per rib.   So if you have a 4 rib roast, you have 8 servings of meat.  You can Google all the sites you like and they’ll pretty much tell you the same thing.   But, they just don’t know my family.   Some of the members like the ” OH MY GAWD” cut, which is a little bit larger than life.   Trust me, I’ve seen them consume it and look for more later.   My BIL could make a decent dent in a roast, as does my DH.   I made a two rib roast the other day, and didn’t have much left over.    I like having leftovers, so I will cook a roast just a little bit bigger than I think I need.   But I don’t always get them.

Since this post is getting a little long, I’ll close for now and detail how to make the perfect roast in the next post.

Danish Chicken with Parsley Stuffing

I almost hate to admit to this, but it’s been a few years since I made this dish.  It used to be one of my favorites, in fact it was one I knew how to do well when we first got married and it was my ‘company’ dish when I wanted to serve a special meal.   Now,  as to why I haven’t made it for some time, I really couldn’t say.  But when I saw some lovely plump roasting chickens on sale for .79/lb, I grabbed a couple with the express idea of making Danish Chicken with Parsley stuffing.   I was suddenly craving it, to the point that I barely got the chicken thawed enough yesterday to get the parsley stuffed inside.

Oh, and I also have a lovely big parsley plant outside so the parsley was nice and fresh.

This is such an easy dish, so easy, you can put it on and let it cook while you go do some thing fun, like, oh I don’t know, cleaning out the vegetable drawer in the fridge or taking a nap or…    Just kidding about the vegetable drawer, mine needs cleaning   and it’s been nagging me to do so.

To begin with, get yourself a nice roasting chicken, rinse it off if you like and then pat dry.   Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and then take a big handful of fresh parsley,

and stuff it inside.

Then get a heavy saucepan, pour in a little olive oil and then add about 2 tablespoons of butter to it, let it get hot and place the chicken in the pot, breast side down.

Brown it a little, then using a large fork, turn it on the side, brown that, then brown the other side, and finally brown the back.   When it has browned on all sides, which will take about 30 minutes total, then place the chicken, breast side down in the pan.

Add some chicken stock, and a little water, I used 4 of my chicken stock cubes, and added an extra 1 cup of water.    For a total of two cups of liquid.    Placed the lid on the pot and walked away for 30 minutes.  Came back and checked to make sure that the liquid hadn’t cooked away, if it looks too low, go ahead and add another cup of water.
After 40 minutes I turned the chicken over and let rest on its back in the pot.   Cook another 30 minutes or so, or until a thermometer placed in the breast meat measures 160 deg.  Or do it the old fashioned way, wiggle the drumstick, and if it moves freely, the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter to rest, and strain the liquid that’s left in the pot into a smaller pan, if you like, or just add some flour and water you mixed together and use that to thicken the gravy.   Taste at this point to see if you need to add some salt.   If you want the gravy a little browner, add some Kitchen Bouquet or other gravy enhancer.
Slice the meat from the breast and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.   We also had some lovely asparagus with our meal.

Simple, easy and tasty.

Shrimp Etouffee and Beignets

I attended the monthly cooking demo at the Crooked River Grill this past Wednesday, it’s held every month and every month we get to see and taste new foods, well the Shrimp Etouffee was new to me.   I’d always wanted to try it, and finally got a chance to.   The guest chef was Ivanhoe and her husband Cliff and in the spirit of Mardi Gras they made some New Orleans style food.    Ivanhoe stressed the fact that making the Roux was the hardest part of putting together the Etouffee.   You need to stir and stir and stir and stir the roux mixture in the pan until it turns a lovely chocolate color.   If you don’t keep stirring, you can burn it very easily.   I know, the last time I made GumboI had to start the Roux over again.  I just didn’t admit it that day.We had some lovely Potato Corn Chowder and Salad to start with,

Potato Corn Chowder with crab

then we were served with the Shrimp Etouffee,

Shrimp Etouffee

and for afters, Beignets.  Click on the link, this is the recipe that Ivanhoe used.   And they were tasty.

Frying the Beignets
Ivanhoe busy with the Beignets

Did you know you can powder a bunch of Beignets by dumping some powdered sugar in brown paper sack, then placing the Beignets in there and shaking the whole thing up?

After the Powdered Sugar dunking
Throw the Beignets in,
And shake them up.

I’ve breaded fish and chicken doing this but have to admit to never doing some thing like Beignets.

Here’s Ivanhoe’s recipe for the Shrimp Etouffee, and pardon me Ivanhoe, but I added a few details to clarify the recipe instructions.

Shrimp Etouffee recipe

2 lbs. Crawfish tails or Shrimp
1/2- 1 stick butter (1/4 lb.)
1/4 cup Olive Oil (she uses light)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
Tony’s Chachere Famous Creole Seasoning
1/2 cup flour
4-5 cans Chicken Broth
Kitchen Bouquet (vegetable seasoning and coloring)

Make a roux with 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 cup flour and stir, stir, stir over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan until it is a nice deep brown and gives off a nutty aroma.   To the roux add the chopped onions, garlic, celery and green pepper.   Cook an additional 5 minutes or so and then add the chicken broth, whisking well to incorporate the liquid.   This will thicken quite nicely.   Add liquid until it gets to the consistency you prefer.   Meanwhile, take the crawfish or shrimp and put in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkled liberally with the Tony’s seasoning and then put 2 tablespoons of butter on top and microwave on high 3-5 minutes.   Take out of microwave and add to the pot.  Stir well, let it simmer 10 minutes, then sprinkle a couple dustings of paprika on top.   Mix well and simmer 10 more minutes.   Taste and add Tony’s seasoning and salt to taste.  (I might add here, if you use salted chicken broth, you might not need additional salt).  If it’s too thick, add a little more liquid, if too thin, whisk in some flour and water.
Serve over rice with some Fresh French Bread.
Serves 8-10 people.
All in all, a good time was had by most.

Shredded Beef

Shredded Beef for February Boat Club

I guess by now you realize I go to a lot of potlucks, giggle.   We have a standing date once a month with a local club and then there is our social life which tends to revolve around food, so I get to make something at least twice a month for potlucks.

Since it is February, and everyone has sweet stuff on their minds, I thought a nice, spicy dish would be a good counterpoint.   And last year there were a lot of sweets at the February Boat Club Potluck.

One dish I love to make is Machaca, or Shredded Beef.   It’s one of those dishes that comes together fast, cooks without any fussing around, and is usually pretty popular with everyone, but vegetarians.    Of course, you can make it vegetarian if you like, just add more beans.   In fact I would add a couple of different kinds of beans for variety, along with the kidney beans, I’d add some black beans and some pinto’s.   Beans are good food.   At least I like them.

I usually make this in a crock pot, but have also cooked it on top of the stove and in the oven.   If you do make this in the oven, the flavor will be a little richer, but you don’t lose anything by cooking it in the crock pot either.    Another wonderful aspect of this dish, it can be stretched very easily by the addition of a couple more cans of beans and a few more veggies.  And with the price of meat, that’s a good thing.    Personally I like it when I’ve stretched it more than when I do the original recipe.    And it’s fun to serve to people.   I have to say though,  when you dish it up and place it into a taco, you do need to add the Verde sauce to it, it adds another layer of flavour which I think this needs.   You use the Verde sauce as a condiment, adding it to the meat while cooking, doesn’t do a thing.  I know, I tried it once, and it wasn’t very good at all.  And I think you should learn from my mistakes.   Not that I make all that many, but…

To start with, and this is so sinfully easy I’m embarrassed to tell you how simple it is, get your pot out, whether it be a crockpot, or a pot on top of the stove or a large casserole dish.

All the vegetables, and of course the beans.


A big old chunk of meat


The meat is in there, hiding, really.

Place your meat in there, add a couple cans of Kidney beans, a chopped onion, a chopped green pepper, one can of tomato sauce, (I like El Pato Mexican tomato sauce), one can of chopped green chiles, 2 tablespoons of chile powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 whole tomato chopped.  Stick the lid on and let it cook.   If you’ve got this in a crock pot, don’t even lift the lid for 5 or 6  hours.   When the meat is fork tender,

At this point it really tastes good, I had to taste, quality control and all that.

pull the meat out and shred it with a couple of forks, add it back into the saucy goodness of the pot and let it cook another hour or so.

It will be saucy.   If doing this on the stove or in the oven, let it cook for a couple of hours, then check for tenderness.  As soon as it’s fork tender, pull it out and shred.   Add back into the pot and let it cook for a little while more.

Made one up before we headed over, final product had to pass inspection, of my mouth that is.

Serve with flour tortillas, Verde sauce and some cheese.   And don’t be surprised when people lick their plates.   It has been known to happen.  But they usually turn away or hide in the corner when they do it.

Shredded Beef

3-4 lb. chuck roast, not too fatty
2 cans Kidney beans
1 can El Pato Mexican Tomato Sauce or
1 can Tomato sauce
1 can chopped green chiles
1 tomato, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2-4 tablespoons Chile powder

Dump it all in the crockpot and set for low and let simmer for 6 hours, minimum.   If cooking on top of the stove, cover and let simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.   Same directions for the oven, set the temp at about 350 degrees.
When the meat is tender, remove from the sauce and shred, then add it back into the pot and let it simmer or cook for another 1-2 hours.   Serve with flour tortillas, green taco sauce and shredded cheese.

And here’s the rest of the dishes that were brought last night.   And I have to apologize I didn’t get a shot of the roasted tomatillo salsa.   Every time I got close to it, people were eating it, and of course I had to taste it as well, it was good.

Baked Ziti


Hot and Sour Soup


7 Layer Dip


Green Salad




Smoked Chicken


Veggie Plate



And there you have it, another successful night at the Boat Club.   As usual everything was excellent, and I ate too much, sigh.  Oh well.  I will survive.
Hope everyone has a great Valentines Day.


Some years ago my DH was listening to a radio show and the hosts were talking about this dish that they loved.  And I was asked to make it.   So I did, even though my brain kept telling me that the list of ingredients was weird.  And I really didn’t see how they could come together and taste good.  I mean really, dill pickles, bacon, mustard, flank steak?  I mean on a hamburger, ok, but inside?  I was wrong, big time wrong.   I made it and it was totally awesome.   Served with some lovely mashed potatoes, corn and well, all I can say is, we finished it off in short order.   That dish is now part of my repertoire, and gets made every so often when I can find a good flank steak on sale.    If you’ve been paying attention to beef prices lately, you know what I mean.  The prices, well, let me put it like this, we’re eating less beef these days.   Chicken is our new best friend.   Just kidding, beef and pork are in the running as well.  Sheesh!

The pickles and bacon are so good inside the meat.  Even if the meat fell apart on me.

To start with, you need a flank steak.   Get your pickles, bacon and mustard ready, you need them handy.

And some butchers twine if you have it or I just use a heavy-duty cotton thread, I cut a long piece and double it.   (trust me, you don’t want to be trying to cut the thread when you’re rolling the flank steak up). Unroll the steak if it’s rolled up or folded and flatten it out with your hands.

You did wash your hands first, right?   OK, and this does get messy, so if you need to put gloves on, go ahead, I’ll wait.    Ready?

Spread the mustard on the inside of the flank steak,

You could write your name with the mustard here, if it isn’t too long a name.


Pastry brushes are fun to play with, giggle.

then line it with the dill pickle slices,

I know I showed Vlasic pickles at first, but they were all rind, so I switched to Mt. Olive pickles.

you don’t need to go all the way to the edges with the pickles.   Then on top of the pickles, place some bacon slices,

it all depends on how big your flank steak is.   Then, and this is the fun part, you get to roll it up.    And you’ll want to roll it lengthwise, so that the long meat fibers can be cut when you slice it.

Notice the string under the steak on the left side?



See the toothpicks, it’s a good idea to take them out after the Rouladen is done.  They don’t taste good.

When you’ve wrestled the meat together tie it off.    You could also use some toothpicks to close it if you like, I’ve used both in the past.   And did again.    Toothpicks are not cheating, you want the insides of the flank steak to stay inside.

Then brown it a little on both sides before placing in an oven proof dish.

Do they make oblong fry pans?  Just wondering?

Deglaze your fry pan with some water, no point in wasting any of that delicious fond.   Add enough water to come half way up the roll.

My dish was a little big for this guy, (too small a fry pan, and too big a roasting pan, hmmm

Cover and let it cook for at least two hours in a 325 deg. oven.    (I let mine cook a little long yesterday, but it was still really good).   If you can, turn the flank steak roll at least twice during the cooking process, this keeps it from drying out.   A flank steak doesn’t have much fat, well it shouldn’t have much fat.   You do have the bacon on the inside, but that’s on the inside.  I take the cover off the last 20 minutes or so.   Just cause I like it browned a little more.

Please ignore the messy stove top, I did.

After it’s cooked, take out and let it rest while you make gravy.    Make a slurry of water and flour and add to the liquid in the pan.   Taste at this point, you’ll probably need to add some water, and if you add the water the potatoes cooked in, this helps to add just a little more texture and flavour to the sauce.    Taste it to make sure.   I find that the gravy is pretty darn intense, and have never added salt.
Slice the Rouladen, and serve with some lovely home made mashed potatoes and that great gravy.

See the pickles and bacon inside, they are so good.

Flank Steak
Dill Pickles
String and toothpicks to tie it up with.
Water and flour slurry to make gravy

Pepper if you like, but you don’t need salt.  The pickles and bacon have enough in them.

How simple is that, and you’ve got all the how to’s in pictures above.