The coffee is on; it is going to be a good day. That and there is a big pile of mulch in my driveway. That means I have joined the local gym by default. I will also be going to acupuncture this morning. If you asked me just five years ago if I would be having needles stuck in my body I would say what in the world did I ever do to you, but since then I witnessed its miraculous effects on others and decided to give it a try. All I can say is it works for me but I believed that it would. I also believe that the mind is a powerful thing that helps keep you healthy or can make you feel worse. Enough philosophy before my first cup of coffee and so early in the morning. Let’s talk about food.
Last night I asked the never ending question: “What do you want for dinner?” The reply came quickly. “Pappardelle in pink sauce.” I guess this pink sauce stuff is a hit. I paused pondering how in the world I was going to make Pappardelle when all I have ever used was fresh pasta that I purchased at Pastosa. Pastosa is the local store that sells mostly fresh pasta of all kinds.
I blinked pondering all the ingredients my pantry. That is when Jennifer said, “We have some in the cabinet.” An image of pasta flew into my brain. See, it a powerful thing if you don’t go killing your brain cells with alcohol every weekend. See kids don’t drink! Where was I? Oh yeah, so I went downstairs to discover that we did in fact have said item in the cabinet and it was a dried pasta from Trader Joe’s in a plastic bag. Their stuff is usually pretty good so what the hell, let’s make it for dinner.
I put up the water to boil and defrosted my last quart of homemade meat sauce. Now traditionally I wound have used this sauce right on the pappardelle but as luck would have it I had heavy cream. I also like the pink sauce because my stomach has been cranky and mad at me so I too opted for the cream sauce just like it was suggested.
I opened the fringe to pick out a vegetable. My mother ALWAYS yelled at me when I was a kid for standing in front of the refrigerator and just staring into it. This happened more so particularly during the summer. We had no central air conditioner in the house and it got warm in the kitchen somedays. Staring in and at first glance, I spied the Zucchini. This old stand by was my first thought as a side dish. Then I saw not one but TWO bags of prewashed baby spinach. Regular spinach can be a bare to wash and get the sand out of but prewashed baby spinach is easy peazy. I got out my big ass All-Clad pan and added two cloves of sliced garlic to it. I added two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons olive oil. Then turned the heat on low. I headed it up slowly until it started to sizzle and then turned off the heat. I let it sit like that, as I waited for that dam water to boil and the sauce to defrost. Time for a beer I thought. Dam no Peroni.
I put the defrosted sauce in a medium saucepot and heated it up over medium high heat. Making sure to stir it and then turn it down to low once it came to a simmer.
I spied the French bread on the counter and thought Mmmm garlicky bread. I buttered it up. Sprinkled it with garlic power. Then stuck it under the broiler to turn a lovely shade of brown. Then turned off the oven but kept the bread warm in it. Making sure it was not still toasting.
The water was boiling by now. Add pasta. Set timer to package directions. I turned the pan on high heat and added half the spinach to the pan. Then began to sauté it in the garlic, olive oil, and butter. Yum!
I added butter and cream to the sauce. I left it on low heat as the pasta cooked. It would not be long now. The first batch of spinach cooked down a quiet a bit and I added the second half to the pan. I add salt and fresh ground black pepper, then tossed it coating the spinach very quickly with the butter, olive oil and garlic. Then I turned off the heat. I did not want it all to be mushy so some leaves were just covets with the oil and garlic.
Ding! The pasta was done. Drain and plate. Mix a ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese into the sauce now and pour over pasta. Plate the Spinach. Cut bread & plate. Serve with crushed red pepper on the side
Now most people would call this Italian food. As Americans, we change everything. So weather its food from a country of our lineage or a country we would just like to go visit (like Italy) or a country we would probably never go to but are willing to try the food from, like Humus. We change it, adopt it to our life style and then make it for family and friends when it is good. Did you know that if it weren’t for the solders coming back from Italy after WWII and starting the first Pizza places in places like NY we would never have pizza here in America! What is more American then New York City Pizza? I have not tried pizza it in Chicago yet but plan too one day!
Pappardelle, that was what was for dinner last night. Time for me to run and start my day. I hope you get to enjoy this meal. I found it tasty with a small glass of of red wine. Shhh it was from France but it was still good and went well!
Until tomorrow stay healthy, be happy and eat well!
2 tablespoons Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbeque Sauce or Hunt’s original barbeque sauce
8 to ten 10 drops of Cholula Hot Sauce
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Melt butter over low heat. Add the Frank’s Hot Sauce, Barbeque Sauce, and Cholula Hot Sauce. Heat to a simmer but do not let it boil. Taste test with a bit of celery. Adjust by adding more hot sauce or barbeque sauce if necessary.
NOTES when making the wings on the barbeque, use Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbeque sauce or add tablespoon of honey to the sauce.
Toppings: Lettuce Tomato Raw Onion Grilled Mushrooms Grilled Onions Avocado, Guacamole Roasted Red Pepper Ham (thinly sliced) Bacon
Cheese: Swiss American Provolone Cheddar Monterey Jack
Condiments: Ketchup Mustard Mayo BBQ sauce Buffalo Wing Sauce Salt & Pepper Taco Seasoning Blue cheese dressing
Form the patties in a hamburger press by lining the press fist with plastic wrap. Separate each patty with a piece of wax paper or wrap up in plastic wrap. Unwrap and throw away the plastic wrap when cooking them. Cook on a hot grill on high according to taste (3 to 6 min per side), only flipping once. Add cheese 2 min before the burger is done on the second side.
To make the Buffalo Burger, melt provolone cheese on top before removing the burger from the grill. Add Buffalo Wing Sauce, lettuce, tomato, and blue cheese dressing on top.
The Taco Burger needs to be seasoned with taco seasoning before cooking. I use McCormick Taco Seasoning and sprinkle it on both sides. After cooking one side and flipping it over, melt Monterey jack cheese on top before removing the burger from the grill. Add guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and taco sauce or ranch dressing on top.
The Mushroom-Swiss Burger: Season the hamburger before cooking with salt and pepper. Melt Swiss cheese on the burger while cooking. Add hot sautéed mushrooms on top and ketchup or bbq sauce.
My Take on the Double RR Bar Burger: Melt American cheese or Swiss cheese while the burger is cooking. Add a slice of deli ham, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and BBQ sauce. Thank you Roy Rogers!
Last is the bacon cheese burger: Melt American cheese on it while the burger is cooking. Add bacon, tomato, BBQ sauce, and ketchup on top.
This is the first recipe leading up to Memorial Day Weekend here in the United States. Print it out and save it. I’m picturing a nice sized three ring binder full of recipes for the year by the time we are finished with this project next May here at the Magic of a Perfect Paring!
¼ cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
While hot dogs are cooking, make the onions:
Add oil to a medium sized non-stick frying pan and place on medium heat. Cut onions into large bite size pieces and add to pan. Cook onions until translucent. Add ketchup and crushed red pepper and heat through. Serve on top of hot dogs or hamburgers.
Serve Hot Dogs with spicy onions, chili, cheese, sauerkraut, relish, mustard, and ketchup.
Rubin Dawg = 1000 island dressing, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese melted on top.
According to some feedback I received lately, my blog posts are getting a bit too long in the tooth. It’s not that the posts were old, but rather the people who read them were older by the time they finished them because they were so long. I have agree, so let’s make this shorter.
Some days, you just need to eat fish. This was how I felt Sunday. Besides, I really need to get rid of this huge piece of fish in my freezer that I have been moving around for six months. I was going to fire up the grill but it looked like rain. I have cooked many fish in the great outdoors. It keeps the house from smelling too “fishy” which Jen appreciates. I guess we will have to wait for that until next time, and nice weather. For now, we will turn to the oven.
Salmon is one of my favorite fish to cook and eat. I begin by lightly defrosting the wonderfully huge piece of salmon I purchased at Lidl. It was defrosted just enough so I could pull off the skin (I literally pulled most of it off). It also helps that I have a filet knife (I added that to my gadgets list) to assist me with this task.
The skin is now removed and I made the pouching liquid. It just so happened that I had an open bottle of Pinot Gris. I poured one cup into a pot and boiled it down by half on high temperature. I clarified some butter (about 1½ sticks). This went into the pot with the wine that was now on low . To that, I added some dill, maybe a teaspoon or so, some parsley, and a heaping tablespoon of lemon juice. Turn off the heat under the pot and let it cool to room temperature. While that is cooling, I got together some chicken stock. In a medium size pot, were three cups of water with a heaping tablespoon of Better Then Bullion® chicken stock and just a bit of minced up carrots (for color). I brought that up to the boil. While waiting for the water to boil I peeled some asparagus with a brand new OXO vegetable peeler that I recently acquired from the store Bed Bath and Beyond using a coupon, saving some hard eared dough!
I put the peeled asparagus into a large All-clad pan with cold water. I turned the now boiling chicken broth down low and cook those tiny bits of carrots.
Jennifer does not eat fish, so I poached her some boneless skinless chicken breast. In my smaller All-Clad pan, I had put some water with Better then Bullion ® vegetable stock. It makes no sense to poach chicken in chicken stock. It would only taste like, chicken. So vegetable stock it was but BEFORE I could add the chicken, I peeled and cut up two large carrots. I added them to the vegetable stock. I needed to cook the carrots first, before I can add the chicken. I put paprika on the chicken while I waited for the carrots to get a bit tender. It takes about an hour to cook carrots. I wanted them firm but not mushy by the time the chicken and fish is done. Chicken cooked in boiling water cooks faster than potatoes or carrots so timing is everything in life. More metaphors today. I will try to stop.
I poured myself a nice cold glass of that Pinot. Okay, I refilled my empty glass. Then, I relaxed a bit on the couch while the fish marinated and finished defrosting all the way. I watched some TV with Jennifer. Probably the Hallmark channel or that RV restoration couple on the County Television Network. I need me one of those Air-Stream trailers! Maybe when I retire.
The fish had been marinating now for about an hour. I popped it into a 400ºF oven. I removed the asparagus from the cold water to a plate. I added a good amount of salt to the water. It was probably close to a teaspoon of salt, give or take. Turn the heat up to high and wait for more water to boil. Do we spend our lives waiting for $%#& to happen? Then when it does, do we act surprised?
Check on the fish. Baste. Yes, it is doing nicely.
I added two cups of large pearl Couscous to the pot of chicken stock with the carrot bits and stir. Bring the couscous to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low. In five minutes, I added three tablespoons of butter and stirred again. Cover and cook five more minutes. Turn off heat and let stand. Mmm fluffy.
Using tongs, flip over the chicken in the pan. You did put the chicken in the pan, right? Check the fish. Put the asparagus in the now boiling salt water. Cover and turn on low. Chant: Cook. Cook Cook. Do not uncover for at least ten minutes.
The asparagus is done when its fork tender. Take the fish out of the oven, it’s done too. Am I forgetting anything? Plate it up so it looks like the picture below.
Let me start by apologizing that I have not been writing any posts this week but I have not been cooking. I have been working and eating take out. The few things I did do made this week just plain boring to write about. Monday for example, I did not cook and had Chinese food from my usual local, take out only, restaurant. Tuesday I felt terrible and had to call in sick to work. I might have gotten a bad wonton or ate something bad that was not even from there. I am not sure what it really was but my stomach was in a lot of pain! I always enjoy the food from my this Chinese place and NEVER had a problem before so I will be going back. Just not anytime soon in order to play it safe. Tuesday night was just simple sandwiches made with cold cuts and rolls. I ran out y at 5:30pm and picked up cold cuts after not feeling well all day. The cold cuts and rolls I purchased from my local small grocery store. I love this place, but it is always changing its name and that makes me feel like it going out of business any day now.
I recuperated Tuesday night enough to get to work Wednesday morning and started feel even better as the day went on, it was just enough so I felt human again by the time I got off work. Wednesday night was the same boring pasta and pink sauce that I posted about earlier in the month. I seem to be stuck in a rut. “Stuck in a rut” is an old timey colloquialism used when the “chuck wagon” or horse drawn covered wagons from the Wild West had wooden wheels and followed each other along the same in the road making deep tracks in the mud. There were so many wagons on one road that they produced deeper and deeper ruts simply by following behind the previous wagons. It was so bad that sometimes the deep ruts in mud made it difficult to turn off the road they were on. WHEW!
Long story short, I have not been cooking. Thursday night we went out to celebrate our good friend and “semi adopted daughter” Alyssa’s graduation from college with her masters degree in teaching – science! YAY! I am so happy for you! We all are!
It was Alyssa’s choice for a restaurant that evening and she choose The One in Amityville, NY. I have written a review about this place before. Again, I am becoming so boring.
The restaurant choice did not disappoint any of us. Just like before, the wine was served icy cold, including the second bottle. We did ask for an ice bucket for the second bottle to keep it cold. Alyssa did all the ordering as it was her day to be celebrated and her food choices were amazing (see pictures below). I think everyone agreed that the love roll was everyone’s favorite. Alison actually did say: “Everyone loves the Love Roll!”
We all had excessively too much to eat and then topped off the celebration with Paul’s ice cream sundaes. Do you remember Paul? I spoke about him before too, he is from the local carvel that I will be talking about ALL summer.
I’m keeping this post short. We are all gearing up for a HUGE Memorial Day Weekend around here but first I have one boring weekend to get through.
I will keep you all posted on what I’m cooking and eating so stop back soon!
Until then stay HEALTHY! Eat well and drink responsibly.
Ahhh, It’s a beautiful Sunday morning as I write this article. The coffee tastes particularly good today. Maybe it’s because my back is in agony. I did too much yardwork yesterday. I was trying to clean up the mess of weeds and volunteer locust trees that didn’t belong among the flowers. It may have been because I overindulged by a beer or two too many yesterday, but either way I am awake, I’m alive and I’m carrying on with my coffee cup in hand.
Not much to report on the cookbooks progress today. I was pretty much in the back yard all afternoon so Sam made a wonderful a salad of romaine lettuce, cucumbers and parsley to start dinner. He also heated up some Trader Joes mini pizzas. We all love those things. I was still hungry or just needed something else to absorb all the alcohol so I made steamed vegetable Gyoza. These too I purchased at Joe’s.
They are really easy to make. Just add water to an extra-large frying pan with a vegetable steamer inside, give it a spray of Pam® and toss the Gyoza on top. Cover then let the gyoza steam away. Mmm those little pretties. Don’t peek! You will let all the steam out! After a few minutes, *poof* they are done!
I pour out some soy suace into a small Pyrex custard dish. Then add a bit of wasabi and serve. I was the only one eating them and they were yummy.
Sam had made some chocolate chip cookies Friday night for dessert. We took those to our friend’s house. Well, we took most of them with us, but we left six at home. I was so in the mood to eat those all day Saturday. I even purchased some fresh milk Saturday morning specially to have with one chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were made from my sister in-laws recipe and I love her cookies or anything she bakes. Like I said, we took the majority of them to our friends house on Friday night for Pizza night.
Pizza night was Friday night and it was great. I had picked up two lightly cooked classic round New York pizzas (I ordered them on the way from the local pizza place). Then we each added our own toppings to each slice and reheated it in their oven on a preheated pizza stone. I only needed one slice. On mine was: Pepperoni, sliced meatball, sausage meat, sliced artichoke hearts, large diced red onion and sliced black olives. We had that with a nice bottle or two of red wine. I liked the one from St. Frances in Sonoma County better then its European cousin. The European red wine was far too acidic for my taste.
Dessert Friday was Sam’s chocolate chip cookies of which I had none because I ate a slice of the banana cream pie from a local bakery. Silly me but I figured it would be okay because we still had half dozen cookies at home.
On Saturday, after my second round of pizza in tow night and salad and vegetable Gyoza I sat and digested on the couch for a bit. Both Sam and Jennifer ran out to the store in search of chlorine, for out tiny above ground pool, which apparently there is a shortage of chlorine now. It was then that I started scouring the house in search of the six cookies. I needed only one to have with a large glass of cold milk. They were here earlier before I went outside to work in the yard. They must have saved me one, right? They knew I purchased the milk for them because I said I did.
After a brief search of the premises, nope there were no cookies to be found. I then proceeded to watch old reruns of Laugh-in in the hopes it might cheer me up. No such luck.
Sam and Jenifer had returned from the store. Jennifer went upstairs to lie down as she was tired from a discouraging shopping trip that ended with no chlorine. . I inquired as to the whereabouts of the cookies with Sam.
Sam had said they seemed to be gone as he found the empty zip lock bag. “I have enough dough to make three more if you want?” Sam said. Bless that boy! It took what felt like an hour but I would have a deliciously warm chocolate chunk cookie and milk soon. It was then (as the cookies emerged from the oven) Jennifer came back down stairs. She too was still hungry as the mini pizzas were not a very big meal. She had some Raisin Bran while Sam and I each ate one cookie. The cookies were awesome! Well worth the wait. I only need one of this rich delectable delight and a large glass of milk. I was asleep on the couch soon after. Only to wake up 30 minutes later with screaming back pain.
It was time for a hot shower, some Alieve® and a good nights sleep.
Until next time, Don’t over do it and stay healthy, be happy and eat homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
Lunch is yummy whether you are at a campsite, in the park, at school or like I am today, home and just relaxing. Lunch can be a wide and varied menu so it changes with the seasons just like dinner. On a really hot summer day you will probably only want to make those previous easy sandwiches but on cooler days perhaps you want some thing warmer. On really cold days it calls for soup and a sandwich. We will cover soups when it cold out side here in New York don’t worry!
As we step up our game and things get more complicated they can be a little more tricky but don’t despair. You should be able to make all these tasty treats with just a little practice you will be making them perfect.
Once in a blue moon or even on Fridays during lent I make Tuna fish salad. I try not to eat very much anymore. Especially after my wife was told that, she should not eat it too often while trying to conceive or when she was pregnant! YIKES! That was the first time I ever heard that! What the $#%&! What do you mean fish is not good for you?! What did we do to our oceans?! I was being told this almost second hand too. If I was not in the doctor’s office for her appointment I may have never learned about this dreaded fact. Now I may be over reacting just a bit, but I don’t want to be as mad as a hatter from eating too much tuna or shell fish either. Sheesh, we have to stop polluting our oceans with garbage….Okay rant over for today.
Back to lunch, but I may need a beer first.
The first sandwich is tuna salad. Now you may ask why was that not in the easy category? The answer is simple, my earliest memories of tuna fish was of my sister making it in the kitchen. She did cook much but when she did it was tuna fish, bacon and popcorn. YES! Before the microwave was invented you had to COOK popcorn! You had to clarify the butter yourself and even add the salt. This all had to happen before you could start watching the Wonderful World of Disney that appeared on ABC on a Sunday night.
One can of tuna fish requires chopped onion, celery and mayonnaise. See how all this cooking stuff comes full circle. We learned about chopping when we wanted an omelet with more than just cheese in it! Begin your tuna dish by finely chopping a bit of onion about 1 tablespoon. One tablespoon of finely chopped celery is next. Add the onion and celery to a bowl with the tuna fish from a can after it is thoroughly drained. Canned tuna fish comes in several different types. Light tuna (according to the FDA) has less mercury in it then solid white tuna. Wouldn’t you know it, I grew up on solid white tuna. Maybe that explains a lot! It also comes packed in oil or water. I can’t tell the difference so I buy it packed in water to make my wife happy. She hardly ever eats the stuff anyhow. Add the mayonnaise to taste. I use Hellman’s mayonnaise. My taste dictates that lot of mayonnaise should be used in my tuna salad. Three or 4 tablespoons, perhaps more if it looks too dry.
Then the white bread MUST be fresh or toasted! Mayo on the bread, tuna (the whole can) and lettuce. Done. Do you remember getting two sandwiches out of one can of tuna fish? Just like everything else, things keep getting smaller and smaller. Everything but my waistline. Maybe I should skip the bread and just put the tuna salad on a bed of iceberg lettuce.
During the summer, tuna is good as long as you’re not out in the hot sun! Then ewe. Another good thing in summer are the homegrown tomatoes from my back yard. I remember them being in my back yard even as a kid along with string beans growing on poles. If it’s summer and I have a tomato then I need to make at least one BLT. Please tell me you know what a B.L.T. is! Bacon Lettuce and Tomato! You fried up bacon for breakfast, didn’t you? See this is why I stared this cookbook with breakfast. One technique will build on another and soon you’ll be a great chef, if you’re not already! Mr. Flay you don’t have to read my book. You can always stop buy for a lesson or a sandwich…just sayin. Bacon, is there any left from breakfast? If not, then fry some more up. I would make the whole pound. It can’t hurt as I have a sandwich or six that uses bacon in it.
You have your crisp bacon. You made your white bread toast, lettuce, sliced beefsteak tomato from the garden and MAYO (thank you Mrs. Corolla)! Ba-bam! BLT. Its okay. Tasty and it really complements the tomato, but what if you don’t have home grown tomatoes. The tomato is the star of the show here. In that case we need to change it up a bit. Let trade out that white toast for some pumpernickel or rye. Place on Turkey, Bacon, Lettuce, tomatoes, and (wait for it) Guacamole! YUM! Serve with a pickle and cold slaw!
Okay, now your cooking. Speaking of cooking. We have not grilled yet! But it summer…even better it almost Memorial Day weekend and the semi official beginning of summer! Thank you to all our veterans for their service. This is one of the biggest BBQ weekends of the year. So let see, how about grilled chicken for doing some cooking.
Let’s fire up the grill! You will need one boneless skinless chicken breast sliced thinly in half so you now have two chicken breasts. Cut those in half. Coat them all with Italian salad dressing or a bit of olive oil. This helps it stick less to the grill. Quarter a zucchini, a half a red paper, onion or maybe a little eggplant. Coat all the vegetables with olive oil or the same Italian dressing you used on the chicken. Grill them all alongside the chicken! When the chicken is no longer pink and not over cooked so its dry as saw dust. Slice into strips along with the vegetables. Place that’s on four flour Tortillas where you can add a slice of provolone cheese to each one and perhaps and some ranch dressing. Wrap it all up like a burrito and enjoy! A different take on this idea should you want a meatless meal is the Vegetarian wrap – grilled Zucchini, asparagus, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Too much chicken in the fridge? Either rotisserie or grilled? Let’s make some chicken salad. It is just like tuna salad only different. You need to make or buy a rotisserie chicken or have grill or pouched chicken breasts. Cut the chicken off the bone and dice it up. Your knife skills will soon improve and you will be cruising right through this by the end of the summer! Place it in a bowl and add grated carrot. Have we peeled and grated carrots before? Watch your knuckles! Dice fine some celery. Add the carrots and the celery and some mayo to the bowl with the chicken. Now add spices: a pinch of garlic powder and a pinch of onion powder, a pinch of paprika, a pinch each of salt and pepper. Now you can add some mayonnaise one-table spoon at a time and mix until it looks good. Taste and reason with any of the spices if needed. This can go on any bread or toast, matzah, or just on plain lettuce.
Lastly, I need to discuss my all-time favorite mid-winter football day sandwiches. The Buffalo Chicken sandwich!
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
COOKING UTENSILS NEEDED:
Fork, Frying Pan, Sauce Pot, Tongs, Air fryer for the Waffles Fries.
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg beaten
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ Cyan pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
4 Boneless Chicken breasts
½ cup Vegetable oil
½ cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
Half stick butter
2 tablespoons Hunts original barbeque sauce
Hamburger buns, lettuce, tomato
2 teaspoons of Cholula
Blue Cheese salad dressing
Add flour, paprika, garlic, onion, parsley, salt and pepper into a large zip top bag. Dip one piece of chicken in egg then at a time and add the chicken to the bag of flour to coat. Close bag securely and gently turn over until all sides for the chicken are evenly coated. For a thicker crust, repeat the last two steps. I sprinkle a little of the remaining flour mixture on top of each piece of chicken and let stand while the vegetable oil gets really hot.
Using tongs carefully add chicken to very hot oil. Place the chicken in the oil slowly using the tongs with the end going in the oil on the side of the pan that is away from you. So that if that accidently drop the chicken in the oil it splashes toward the BACK of the stove not toward your chest! Cook chicken until deep brown and chicken has no pink in the middle. You can use and instant read thermometer to test and read 160ºF. Remove chicken from pan to and plate to drain off any grease on a paper towels. Place chicken on a Martinson extra-large sesame seed hamburger bun. Pour ¼ of the sauce over the chicken. Top with blue cheese salad dressing, lettuce and tomato. Serve with Waffle fries or French fries, pickles and/or cold slaw.
Whew! That’s lunch! I guess we should start dinner soon or grilling…
Until tomorrow Stay Safe, remain healthy, be happy and eat well!
Lunch: This was always my favorite time of the day; even as far as way back to my elementary school days. Back then, my mother gave me lunch money to buy the hot school lunch. Ah, what joyous memories I have of standing in line in the hall, waiting for my turn at picking up the school lunch tray, sliding it along the chrome rails and selecting my meal for the day. Every year seemed slightly different as the group of friends that I sat with at lunch changed from year to year. Of course, the teachers changed too, some were better at making sure you had your monthly lunch schedule. You needed the lunch schedule in your hand so you could choose what to eat in advance. It was good if you needed to bring lunch in case you knew that the hot lunch was going to be terrible. Most things, luckily, were okay to eat at school on the lunch menu.
Particularly popular on the menu, even back then, was pizza! It was usually served on a Friday and if you had an extra 25 cents, you could get an extra slice of this tasty lunchtime treat. It was a rectangular slice of pizza that looked like Ellio’s pizza but the slices were much bigger and better tasting. They also had more cheese on them. I found a box of frozen pizza once in a supermarket that was made in Brooklyn. It tasted exactly like that old elementary school pizza and all those memories came flooding back. I think the manufacturer was called Bazzino’s or something. I just remember that it was my favorite meal at school.
Another good one was the meatball sub. Don’t ask me why, but those crappy meatballs in the sauce when compared to a lot of other things were delicious. I even enjoyed the bread, which was a six or eight inch long roll that was surprisingly fresh and tasty when all covered in sauce. I even had that sandwich again at one of the schools I worked in many years ago. It smelled and tasted EXACTLY like the original and I felt like I was ten years old again, if only for a moment. The lunch woman that day was very nice when I told her my elementary school lunchroom experiences and she insisted that now I should try her meatball sub. I am very grateful to her for that.
The elementary school meal was not without its pit falls. For starters, the pizza was not always cooked to perfection. It varied in quality depending on where you were in line some days. Sometimes the pizza was overcooked for my liking. If the pizza was totally brown (and some days it was) it was not very good. It may still be edible but I was not going to waste the extra quarter for a second slice only to throw it away, I saved it for ice cream or candy. There were other meals that were not as tasty as pizza but were edible. Hamburger day was not bad and if I remember it correctly, it did come with some kind of weird French fry item that you could cover in ketchup and eat. Next down in line was grilled cheese day. This was also a Friday food item served probably in the weeks leading up to the Easter break. If the grilled cheese was in the oven keeping warm too long, it was hard as a rock and inedible. The worse meal by far was the dreaded TUNA MELT served on good Friday! There was nothing good about Good Friday during lunch. The meal was tuna fish served in a hot dog bun that had melted American cheese on top. Then the whole thing was warmed up in the pizza oven to melt the cheese and make the bun hard as a brick…YIKES! I went hungry that day! To this day, I can’t eat hot tuna melts (shudder)!
The lunch room also ALWAYS sold chocolate milk and ice-cream to help save us from complete starvation when the pizza was burnt to a crisp. I do recall one year as being perfect however! Thanks to a very caring teacher who always remembered to give us the lunch menu just before we went home, so it didn’t get shoved into the back of my desk with all the other various other papers. It actually made it home! There I handed it to my mom who taped it up on my bedroom door. Then every day I knew EXACTLY what was for lunch and whether I needed that extra quarter or not! If it was a really bad lunch menu day (as the hot-tuna-day-chill runs down my spine), I could have my mom make a sandwich for me to bring. Then I could buy chocolate milk and an ice cream bar to eat on the playground. God, I was a foodie even back then! Critiquing the school lunch ladies and talking s$%&# of how I could do it better probably.
The glorious memories of food as a child. I spent much of my childhood, especially summer days, at various friend’s houses. Since we are discussing lunch, I remember my friend Frank’s house well, and one particular lunch I loved. Frank’s mom made me a ham on toast (white bread) with mayo and lettuce. Now you might say, “What is so damn special about that?” Well, I grew up in an Irish house with my mother who used to use butter for everything but when making tuna fish. My mom was a good cook and cared about what we ate very much. SO all my sandwiches were on buttered rolls, buttered bread and buttered toast etc. The whole mayonnaise idea on a sandwich was a NEW concept to me! This was an amazing revelation. To this day, I credit this wonderful woman (Frank’s mom) for introducing me to this marvelous sandwich and to the world of mayonnaise. I still make this sandwich to this day and it brings back warm memories of my childhood and my good friend Frank (AKA Frankie to all of us who knew him way back when). Franks’ mom also made me my first bowl of lentil soup! It is still as clear in my mind as if it happened yesterday. I was sitting at his dining room table, on plastic covered chairs, enjoying my sandwich when she asked: “Russ, do you want some lentil soup to go with your sandwich?”
Me: “What’s lentil soup?”
Frankie: “You’re lucky if you’ve never had to eat it. It’s gross!”
Frank’s mom: “Stop that! Its delicious! Russ, try it, and if you like it, I can give you more, and if you don’t like it you don’t have to finish it.”
I replied with enthusiasm, “Sure! I’ll try it!”
I’m sure Frank had said more disparaging remarks that were funny back then, but I can no longer remember all those details. I do remember that I did love that soup and sandwich! I have been eating lentil soup ever since and never fail to thank her for introducing me to those two things.
So, when it comes to lunchtime foods I consider myself a bit of an expert now. I think back on all the foods I have been asked to try at my friends houses. I guess that’s one of the benefits of growing up back when you could walk all over the neighborhood to make friends and just hang out with anyone.
One other such item was introduced to me in my own house, and it was the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My sister in-law Judy could not believe I had never eaten it and even questioned my mother as to the veracity of my statement. “Peanut and Jelly, ewe” I scowled. My only previous experience with the stuff was in the school cafeteria, in third grade, when one of my friends ate the same thing. It was peanut butter and jelly on white bread. It was wrapped in aluminum foil all day and when he opened it up at lunch the jelly had always seeped through the bread enough to make the sandwich look disgusting but he loved it. He ate that every day no matter what we said about it.
That brings me to today and making sandwiches for lunch. Here on Long Island and in the City of New York we have some of the best and most famous delicatessens in America. They are also probably the most expensive! These delicatessens include: Katz’s, Carnegie’s, Ben’s Kosher Deli, and for me Pastrami and Friends located right here on Long Island. Shush! Don’t tell people about the last one or it will get too crowded and I will never get in again!
Since these places are just too crowded or excessively overpriced, I made an art out of making my own sandwiches for lunch. It all starts with the bread. Growing up I had a local bakery by me that was within walking (or bicycle) distance. My mom went there every Saturday morning (she drove her car) and waited in line with number to get things like: hard rolls also called Kaiser Rolls (6 with poppy seeds and 2 unseeded for my sister). She purchased rye bread (one seeded and one unseeded). Then there was the pastries. What she purchased in pastries always changed, but it often included, the black and white cookie, the chocolate sprinkle cookie, maybe an éclair or two, a doughnut or a chocolate pretzel!
God, those pretzels were good! These pretzels did not include any traditional pretzel inside but were made strictly of pastry. They are hard to explain now how they were made but they were very similar to a chocolate cigar only thinner and shaped into a pretzel. Yum! Then as you went though the bags there was also apple turnovers or butter cookies or just so much stuff that was all oh so good. The bakeries moto was (if you can believe this) “Everything tastes better with butter”. I have to take breathe now, as I’m getting all choked up. Mom (aka Grams) did this trip every weekend. She did it all fifty-two weeks a year. This was not the only stop in her shopping adventure but usually her last stop!
Now with all that information in mind I think I have had some experience making a wide verity sandwiches that I would like to impart to you. Even my wife, I don’t believe, has eaten all my sandwich concoctions. She does have her favorites and we will discuss them all starting now. Just like my mom, let’s start with some of our BREADS: White (Wonder bread), Rye (seedless or unseeded), Hard rolls (seedless or unseeded), Hero’s or Italian Bread, Wraps or Flour Tortillas.
COLD CUTS: Boiled Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef, Pastrami, Corned Beef, Chicken or Buffalo Chicken, Genoa Salami, and maybe Peperoni
CHEESES: Swiss, Provolone, American cheese, Mozzarella, and/or Munster
TOPPINGS: Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Cold slaw, Pickles or maybe even roasted red peppers
DRESSINGS: Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup, Horseradish sauce, Thousand Island, Barbeque sauce, Ranch, Italian Vinaigrette
Here is my short list of sandwiches from the above ingredients:
White bread Toast: Deli ham, Lettuce, Mayo Served with lentil soup
Hard roll, Rye or white bread; Ham, Bologna, Turkey or roast beef; with Swiss, American or Muster cheese; butter, mayo or mustard
Roast beef on a Kaiser roll with tomato, onion, mayo salt and pepper
Roast beef and turkey on a hero with cold slaw
Hot Pastrami or corned beef (micro wave twenty seconds) on rye with mustard
Buffalo Chicken on a Tortilla, provolone, (heat in microwave until cheese melts) Add lettuce tomato and ranch dressing
Roast beef on a Kaiser roll with Horseradish sauce lettuce and tomato
Buttered toasted white bread with Salami
Ham on a hero or Italian bread with Swiss and Mustard (heat for 30 second in microwave until hot)
Grilled Cheese – White bread and American cheese (ham optional)
Cook until golden brown in 8 inch pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Then flip over add more butter to pan. Serve with soup.
Cuban – Ham, turkey or chicken, provolone, pickles in a wrap and heated up in a sandwich press in a pan with butter, cook on two sides.
Pastrami on grilled rye with Swiss, cold slaw, mustard and thousand island dressing. (Follow grilled cheese procedure)
The classic Rubin: Corned beef on grilled rye with Swiss, sauerkraut or cold slaw, mustard and thousand island dressing
The Italian – Salami, Deli ham (or Cappy ham), peperoni, and provolone and lettuce, tomato, onion, roasted red pepper and vinaigrette on Italian bread
Garlic bread (remember that?) – Roast beef, mozzarella cheese, Place under broiler until cheese is good and melted (add beef gravy if you have it!)
These are but a few of the yummy simpler lunch sandwiches. I will have to continue next week with part two: The Weekend Special Sandwiches. I hope this article was not too long. I hope you continue to come back and read my blog. I hope you find it entertaining as well as informative. What’s for my lunch today? If you can believe it its Tuna fish (cold) on white bread with lettuce and mayo. Tuna salad is in next week’s post. Yum.
That’s all for now until tomorrow, Stay Healthy, Be Happy, and Eat Well!
Eggs Benedict. Yum! Poached eggs are the pinnacle of egg cooking for any chef. The problem is that it’s challenging to make a poached eggs that looks like something you would get a restaurant.
My first tip is that the fresher the egg the better success you will have, as the whites are less “runny” or more viscous when its fresh. When an egg begins to get older, the whites turn more “watery”. Use the freshest eggs you can buy for a better chance at success.
You can make a poached egg and eat it plain, without making it into something else like Eggs Benedict, but why go through ALL that work if a plain egg is all you want? Hell, just boil the thing in it’s shell until it’s soft-boiled and be done with it. Nope, you want to learn how to poach an egg so you can EAT Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine.
For eggs benedict, I will suggest starting with toasting the English muffins. I toast mine under the broiler. That leaves one side soft and makes it easier to cut and eat with a fork in the end. Then we need to work on the Hollandaise sauce. Great sauces are what great chefs strive to achieve. There is a chef’s station in French restaurants called a Saucier. The saucier not only makes all the sauces for the entrées but they can be involved in making stews like Beef Bourguignon, hot hors d’œuvres, and sautéing food to order. Mostly, they are the chefs who make the sauces for the entrées.
This whole sauce making thing is no easy task. Ask anyone who has screwed up the Thanksgiving turkey gravy and never heard the end of it, year, after year, after year. It’s difficult because it can take as many as two days to make some sauces all from scratch. While other sauces only take minutes. Hollandaise sauce is called a mother sauce (According to French cooking anyway) and one of the sauces that is quick to make. That does not make it easy, just fast to make. Hollandaise can be then used to make “other” sauces by adding, for example, fresh herbs. The sauces made from Hollandaise are called: Béarnaise Sauce, Dijon Sauce, Foyot Sauce, Choron Sauce, & Maltaise Sauce. They are in a class called Emulsified Sauces. I will be writing a whole lesson on sauces alone in the coming year as we explore each one over two dozen sauces and how they compare to say “Turkey Gravy”. Yes, that is a sauce! It’s not “Frenchie” but it’s a sauce. There are five mother sauces in all and each one has other sauces that are made from it. To explain it all now I would have to get out my charts and graphs. It’s a whole big science lesson thing and best saved for another day or a YouTube show.
Let’s get back to today’s feature article. Pull out our medium sized saucepot, for poaching the eggs. I use a 1.5-quart size pot filled with 1-quart of cold tap water. Add two teaspoons of white vinegar and one tablespoon kosher salt (2½ teaspoons of table salt). The salt and vinegar are not for taste but rather to help the pouched egg form/cook quicker and to help produce a better looking pouched egg. Bring the water and stuff to a boil so we can add the eggs later.
Now let’s make that sauce!
To make 2 cups of Hollandaise Sauce, you will need:
Place salt, vinegar and crushed peppercorns into a saucepan and reduce by 2/3. Remove from heat and add water.
Transfer reduction to a stainless-steel mixing bowl.
Add egg yolks** and beat over a simmering pot of water until the egg yolks become thick and creamy. (If unsure about the thickness, monitor with an instant read thermometer and make sure the eggs do not exceed 150°F/65°C).
Once the egg yolks have reached the desired thickness, remove from heat. Slowly drizzle in the warm clarified butter into the yoks while beating with a wire whisk, starting with just a few droplets first to get the emulsion gets going.
Continue streaming in the clarified butter until it is completely incorporated. If the hollandaise becomes too thick before all the butter is emulsified in, thin the hollandaise with a couple drops of warm water.
Finish by seasoning your hollandaise with salt, lemon juice and cayenne pepper to taste. Add just enough cayenne to help cut through the fat of the hollandaise and to add depth of flavor; your hollandaise should NOT be spicy.
You can adjust final consistency by adding a little bit of warm water to both lighten the sauce and give it a better flow.
The Hollandaise should be kept warm over a double boiler until ready to serve. The best holding temperature is about 145°F/63°C. This temperature both discourages the growth of bacteria and is hot enough to keep the fat in your hollandaise from solidifying. For both food safety and quality control, hollandaise should not be held any longer than two hours.
Common Secondary Sauces: Bearnaise, Maltaise, Mousseline, Foyot, Choron.
Holy cow that was a lot of work for just two cup of this stuff but it’s so good! Now if you are not into trying to prove yourself as a top chef and still want to try your hand a pouching eggs and/or making eggs benedict, I have a suggestion. Shush, don’t tell anyone, but its Knorr’s Hollandaise sauce. I use it when I’m being lazy, which means I always keep it in my spice cabinet and use it before it expires! Now you can concentrate on the eggs!
Now let’s make some eggs and heat up some ham. In a small pan add butter and fry up some deli ham or Canadian bacon is traditional. As the water comes to a boil begin to crack your room temperature eggs into a Pyrex dishes. I find when starting out it makes sliding the eggs into he water easier. Pro: Tip. Sit the water so it spinning around slowly, slide the egg right into the center and watch it drop to the bottom. Add the next eggs and so on up to 6 eggs. As the eggs rise up as come to the surface they are almost done. Professional chefs remote them now and place them in water that is a perfect 150 drees to “cook though to kill any salmonella. I like them float on the water just a bit long perhaps a minute or two before placing them on my already toasted English muffin. It time to assemble said Eggs Benedict, place a slice or ham or Canadian bacon on one half of an English muffin. Is any of this American? Next up the eggs on that. Why do we do it in that order? The ham stops the English muffin from getting way too mushy. Now, (wait for it) pour over your Hollandaise sauce. YUM! Serve immediately with a Bellini or Mimosa! I will have to try it with a Bloody Mary next time.
This whole this can be changed up very easy to a second recipe called: Eggs Florentine. This is simply done by swapping out the ham for some cooked and well drained spinach. I have used asparagus too but I don’t know what that’s called.
How to Clarify Butter* or make “Drawn Butter”:
Clarified butter, (my mother always called this drawn butter), is unsalted butter that is melted down and allowed to separate over very low heat so that the proteins that are milk solids can be removed. After the clarification process, the butter now has a higher smoke point and makes it great for cooking or frying in. I will explain why shortly.
The easiest way to clarify butter is over a water bath or double boiler. This allows you to gently heat the butter just to the boiling point of water or 212 degrees and will never get any hotter! At this temperature, the water literally bubbles up and out of the butter as it evaporates. What’s left is the whey proteins that form a a white foam on top. Eventually the foam will dehydrate as well and collapse as it cooks, leaving you a thin skin of whey protein on top. Some of the dry casein particles now sink to the bottom. If you did not use a double boiler for this process, they would eventually start to brown. We did, so we are safe to finish the process. Simply skim off the “skin” using a ladle or large spoon. Then pour off the clarified butter, being careful not to include any of the white casein particles that have settled to the bottom. Ka-Pow – Clarified butter! Clarified butter can keep in the fridge up to one year! So you can definitely make this ahead of time for any dish. I have a whole mason jar of this liquid gold in my fringe.
What happens if you do not use a double boiler? Then you run the risk of browning those milk proteins on the bottom of the pot. It that case you have now made something called “Ghee”. Ghee is a clarified butter made using almost the identical technique as above, but is cooked in a pot instead of a double boiler. Because the milk solids come into direct contact with heat from the burner, they can get to higher temperatures than 212°F. It is at this point they start to brown. If you continue browning of the milk fats (slowly) then the finished Ghee will have a dark brown color and a nutty aroma. This is very good for other recipes but it is not what we are looking to use in our Hollandaise Sauce. I love science and there is a LOT of it in cooking but no one tells you about it. No one except, Alton Brown and Harold McGee (listed alphabetically). These are just two of my favorite cookbook authors. Enough science for today, go enjoy your breakfast.
I think it’s time to take a break from breakfast so next time maybe we will do a lunch dish. Thanks for reading today and until next time; Stay Healthy, Be Happy, and Eat well!
The Drunken Chef (Russ)
** Separating eggs :The old fashioned way of separating eggs is by transferring the yoke back and forth between the half shells over one bowl. Then moving each item to its own bowl so as not to contaminate the eleven prior separated eggs with with a broken yoke on the twelfth try. The second method also involves three bowls. One bowl holds up a slotted spoon or strainer. Crack the egg onto the slotted spoon and then move the yoke to its own bowl. Then move the white it its own separate bowl. Repeat this process until you have enough yokes or whites for what you need. Extra egg whites can be frozen for future use. Mixed eggs (whites with broken yokes) can by used for omelets.