Saturday, December 3, 2016

December

I am so behind this holiday season. I'm not sure if it's because of getting trumpfucked or the warm weather but I'm not feeling very christmasy this year. I finally got my tree but as you can see, it is still keeping Santa company outside.  Hopefully today I will get it up.

 I've lived here for almost 30 years and I have never seen the leaves stay on the trees this long into Fall.

 It looks more like October here.

 Usually, these leaves would be long gone.

 There's still quite a bit of color in my gardens.

The Weeping Beech is still holding on to her leaves.
 December 3......amazing.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pork Bolognese Pasta

I couldn't figure out what to make for the after school kids today so I rooted through my freezer for inspiration.  I found some chorizo, some Italian sausage and some ground pork.  This is the recipe I came up with and much to my surprise, it might be better than my classic bolognese.
 I started by sauteing diced onion in olive oil along with about 4 anchovies.

 I added diced celery, carrots, peppers and garlic.  Then I added all of the meat and cooked it until it was browned.

 Then I came up with an idea for something I never did before.  I cooked the tomato paste in a cast iron pan until it became a dark red and had a very rich flavor.

I added oregano, rosemary and thyme to it along with salt and pepper.  Then I whisked in red wine and cooked it until it thickened.  The flavor was sensational.  My husband is sampling some as I type and he described it as bowl licking good.  He asked if he could have more and I told him no, it's for the kids.
 I warmed up frozen sauce from last summer. I added some beef bouillon for extra flavor.

 Here is the paste with the wine and herbs added.

 Here it is when I added it to the vegetables and meat.  What a wonderful color.  I am doing this with my pasta sauces from now on.

 Mixed it in ...
 Then added the warmed tomato sauce and braised it in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.

 I made a gremolata of diced parsley, lemon rind and parmesan cheese.

 After 2 hours, the sauce is nice and rich. Oh, for the last 30 minutes of cooking, I threw a cinnamon stick in the pot.  Remove it when you take the sauce out of the oven.

 Stir in the gremolata.

 I served it over buttered bowtie pasta.


I can't wait to hear how the kids like it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Taco Mac and Cheese for the After School kids

I made this earlier today for the kids afternoon meal.                                                                                                                   
 I browned 5 pounds of ground beef and added taco seasonings, black beans and a can of rotel.  This is spread in the base of the slow cooker.

 Then I boiled 5 pounds of pasta.

 This is a good way to use up excess cheese.  I combined some Velveeta, Swiss, mozzarella and cheddar with milk and seasonings.

 When the pasta was al dente, I drained it and tossed it with some diced peppers.

 The melted cheese is combined with the pasta.

 Doesn't this look like something that a bunch of really hungry kids will dig into?  The pasta is spread over the ground meat.

 I topped it with mild jalapenos.  I just know the kids will enjoy this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Baked Goat Cheese in a Rich Tomato Sauce

I made this for my daughter and her chef boyfriend last night.  This is a great appetizer or a nice light dinner served with a salad.
 In a heavy skillet I sauteed lots of garlic, shallot, anchovies and onion in a bit of olive oil.  I forgot to take pics but then I de-glazed the pan with 1/4 cup of red wine and I added 3 cups of my tomato sauce from this past summer's garden and a few tablespoons of tomato paste.  This cooks over medium heat until it thickens and then I added salt and pepper and a bit of oregano.  A lot of this is done to taste.

 Pour the sauce into a heat proof platter and place chunks of goat cheese on top.  Sprinkle with some fresh basil.

Bake this at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  I made them french bread to spread it on and garlic bread fingers.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Potato and Kielbasa Soup with Cheese

It's officially count down to Xmas time so I got my vintage Santa measuring spoon holder out.  He has a spoon in each hand.

And two sticking out of his back.


Today the after school kids are getting a very hearty, healthy soup.  Here is the basic recipe, I made this X 5.

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1½ - 2 pounds smoked sausage sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet peppers
  • 2 diced carrots 
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Dice the carrots, onions and celery.  Saute' them along with the diced peppers for a couple ofminutes.  Add the stock and the cubed potatoes.  I also added broccoli and kale.  Add the broth and bring to a low boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Add the sliced sausage and cook until heated through. Add the cream and the seasoning.  Taste it and adjust if necessary.
  2. Stir in shredded cheese until melted. Serve immediately.
I made honey butter cornbread to go with it.

It's cold and damp here today so the kids will love this.  BTW....I think a lot of you think these kids are very young, they aren't.  The after school kids are all between 15 and 17. Which helps to explain why they are capable of eating 18 quarts of this soup at one sitting

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gingerbread Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

It's full speed ahead for Xmas now so to start the season off, I made a gingerbread cake with molasses cream cheese frosting.
 This is a big cake!  Three layers and it is dense and moist. I got this recipe from a blog in the UK so I weighed my ingredients:

  • For the gingerbread cake
  • Dry ingredients
  • 350g | 12.3oz plain flour
  • 330g | 11.6oz dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ––––––––
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp treacle (molasses)
  • 200g | 7oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 200ml | 7fl oz whole milk + 1 tbsp fresh orange or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 tbsp very finely diced candied (crystallised) ginger


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line three cake tins - or spray with cake release.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients and add them to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine.
  3. Add the cubed butter and mix for a couple of minutes until the mixture resembles sand.
  4. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the treacle.
  5. Add the milk, vanilla extract and zest and beat together. Stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. Continue mixing for a couple of minutes until batter is smooth.
  6. Fold the chopped ginger into the batter and divide between the prepared cake tins.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.




For the frosting: 
  • 2 8 oz pkg cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp milk

For the Frosting
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with butter until combined.
  2. Add molasses and vanilla. Beat on low until well combined.
  3. Add a little powdered sugar at a time. Mix until each addition is well combined.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of milk after 4 cups of powdered sugar have been added.
  5. Finish mixing in the powdered sugar and the remaining teaspoon of milk.
  6. Frost cake once it has cooled completely.




 I always place waxed paper around the bottom layer to keep the cake plate clean.  Just pull it away after frosting.

 I forgot to take a pic of all three layers assembled.

 I also refrigerate this for several hours before cutting.

 This has an extra gingery flavor because of the addition of the candied ginger.

 It tastes like Xmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up Post


You might see this photo and be under the impression that I am somehow responsible for all the food and festivities before me.  That was intentional.  I told my sister to take my picture and I did the "I made this!" pose, as you can see here.  But it's a lie!  My mother did all of the cooking and planning and decorating.  However, I *did* play a big part in finishing the green bean casserole dish that's two pans to my left.  


This is the pre-Thanksgiving spread that my mother made for us on Thanksgiving morning.  You can see her cranberry corn bread, as well as two pumpkin pies.  In the foreground are these things called Muffin Tops.  They're like muffins, but just the top half, as the name implies.  I had never heard of these before Thanksgiving, but we are now well acquainted.  I am proud to report that everything in this photo is now gone from the Earth by way of stomachs.  Well, just the food.  Not the glass trays or the counter.  We aren't animals.



Here are some turkeys.  I believe they are not different states of the same turkey.  The top one was the 'eat' turkey and the bottom one was the 'show' turkey.  Nevertheless, they both became the 'eat' turkey by the end of the night.  I don't know what that rub stuff is that my mother used on the top turkey, but it was delicious.


Here is the table where all the eating went down.



Here is a pecan pie in various stages of consumption.  I love this pie so much.  For my next birthday I want a swimming pool full of this pie.  By the end of the night, we somehow had one whole pecan pie left over.  My sister brought it to work and let her coworkers eat it!  I now consider myself an only child.  There's no way those coworkers did anything to deserve all that delicious pie.  My sister was way too nice to them.



There's a closeup of the pumpkin pie above.  And a picture of what I believe is banana nut bread.  I just realized while writing this that I did not eat any of this bread pictured above.  Look, there was a ton of food.  I apologize to my mother and to the banana nut bread.  It looks delicious.


I thought I'd close with another picture of the cranberry corn bread.  The youth where I work love this stuff.  They talk about it on a fairly regular basis.  This bread is capable of spreading happiness across all lines of potential separation in this country:  generational, economic, racial, gender, political, cultural, and so on and so forth.  Everyone loves this bread.  It doesn't matter who you are.  If you are alive, you'll like it.  Unless you don't like cranberries, but even then, this might be an exception.  And in my opinion, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.  We set aside our differences and remember that there's one thing we can all agree on: food is delicious.  Especially my mother's food.  

By the way!  Everyone who reads this, please comment and ask my mother to make us another pecan pie.  I won't let my sister bring it to work this time.  My wife and I will eat it.  It's so delicious.  We can't wait another 365 days!

-Blog Tech