August is not my favorite month, but is still summer so it has that going for it. What I don’t like about August is it is the last month of my favorite season, summer. However, since we’re at this point in the season, we should make the best of it with lots of BBQ’s, although Jennifer is in pain and not up for much company. I even have to cancel a much anticipated get-together for this weekend. I don’t feel well this morning myself. I think it’s just too much stress. I hope it gets better soon.
Cooking. Let’s see, I am still behind on my recipes. I still owe you a cheese burger slider recipe. Pfft. Its just a hamburger. We have made them before. Only I made them smaller because their was so much other stuff to eat and not enough people to eat it.
I started with 80% lean ground beef. I like this grind for this hamburger as it needs the extra fat to keep it juicy. I made little meatballs and pressed them flat. Then shaped them into squares. Why? They needed to be square because the buns, which were Kings Hawaiian Rolls, were square.
Next, I seasoned them with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and fresh ground pepper.
Surely by now you are are asking yourself, “how many damn photos of food can one man have?” The answer is simple: it’s a lot. I have been writing a cookbook now for twenty something years and I’m still not done. I can now sympathize with Tolstoy on writing a never ending book. At least he finished his. I don’t think I will be so lucky.
Now, it’s time to get those burgers on the grill.
Yes, I added cheese and closed the lid so it got all nice and melty. Then I added pickle slices and ketchup. They are thicker then they look so they are still juicy with just a hint of pink. No one wanted rare a hamburger this day. Except maybe my mother in-law….
So, let’s see what’s next? Oh YES! Next time is Grilled Buffalo Wings.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla. Then add the eggs. Next, add all the dry ingredients and mix in the chocolate chips.
I cut the cookies with a heart shape cookie cutter while warm and let the cookies cool. Once the cookies are cool, allow vanilla ice cream to soften slightly. Scoop ice cream onto one cookie, then top with another. Press gently together. Return ice cream sandwiches to freezer for one hour before serving.
Prepare the ribs by removing the silver skin on the rib side. This is not easy, but there is a trick. I will try and make a video soon for you.
Season spare ribs on both sides with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and salt (dry rub).
Cook ribs until brown on both sides BUT NOT DONE!
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Place the under-cooked ribs in baking dish and then put in the oven uncovered.
Cook 2 hours. Making sure the heat stays low….you may even turn it down as low as 225 degrees. It just takes longer, but they are well worth the wait.
After two hours, check for doneness. The meat should separate from the bone fairly easily. Drain most of the fat from the dish, but not down the sink drain; it will clog it. Cover ribs with Bar-B-Que sauce in the same pan, mixing in some of the fat and coating the ribs well. Then, return to oven for 20 minutes or heat on barbeque for BEST results.
NOTES: This recipe is the result of years of practice, but in the end it produces a consistently good batch of ribs and can be done in a large enough batch for a party.
Juice the lemons to make about 1 cup of juice. Don’t forget to roll those lemons on the counter top before cutting them in half. It makes the whole juicing thing easier.
In a gallon size pitcher, combine the lemon juice, sugar, and icy cold water. Stir. Adjust water or sugar to taste. Chill and serve over ice cubes.
You can also make this by the glass as I did on Friday. The per glass instructions work like this: One lemon, juiced and poured into tall cocktail shaker, sans seeds. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar and one and a quarter cups cold water. Shake well. Serve over ice with a straw.
Season the beef with garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper on both sides. Let meat “marinate” on the counter for 30 minutes or at least while the grill is heating. For best results, this can be done the night before, and you can wrap the meat in plastic then put it back into the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and let rest on the counter anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Now that your grill is HOT, cook the london broil starting on high. Then after cooking each side for five minutes, turn to medium low until it has reached an install temp of 140 degrees. This should take about another 5 minutes per side. Avoid using a fork to turn the meat over and always use tongs. I turn my steaks a total of three times to get a nice crisscross pattern if possible. Remove beef to a plate and let rest ten minutes before slicing. Avoid turning or pressing on your steaks or hamburgers as they cook because this will cause them to dry out and become tougher.
Once the beef has rested slice the london broil across the grain (see below).
Serve with steak sauce, blue cheese dressing, or just plain salt and pepper.
This is one of those old timey’ recipes that I remember from my childhood. My mother used to make this once a year in the summer. I grew up in a suburb of New York where we were very close to Queens. The plots of land were small 45 by 75 feet. We had very little room in our back yard for a garden but we did grow fresh string beans and tomatoes every year. A small backyard was nice as a teenager because there was not a lot of grass to mow. One of the first things my brother did when we all got older was hire a lawn service. Thank you for that!
Since we didn’t grow are own cucumbers in our tiny backyard I suspect my mother purchased them at the local farm stand. Back then there were still a few small family owned farms on Long Island that existed close to the city. There you could get the BEST corn on the cob and fresh cucumbers. They are all gone now and if you want that kind of fresh produce you have to travel much farther east on Long Island then I am. It really is a shame. Mega-store produce is just not as tasty as the farm fresh stuff.
So that brings me to todays recipe. A coworkers of mine does have garden and he grows his own cucumbers. Wednesday he brought with him four cucumber to share. I asked if he minded if I made cucumber salad with two of them for our entire office. He sounded enthusiastic at the idea. So I brought in some ingredients from home to make cucumber salad.
2 of Rich’s cucumbers
3 or 4 thin slices of Spanish or Vidalia onion cut in half and sliced thin
1 cup vinegar
1 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon dill (optional)
At home I poured all the liquid ingredients into a plastic Tupperware bowl. Then I added all the spices list above and brought that with me to work. I left out the dill because I was out of it. I will pick up more today at the market by my office. Once at work I began by peeling the cucumbers. Turns out, I had a crappy peeler in my knife bag and it took forever. I need to replace that. Then using a chefs knife and plastic cutting board I sliced the cucumber into pretty thin circles. I may bring in my mandolin next time to make the slicing easier. Then I peeled and sliced an onion into half moon shapes. I added both of these items to my brine like substance I made at home. I put on the lid and stuck it in the refrigerator to marinate over night.
I will be serving it today with lunch and let you all know how it turns out. The next batch I will make any corrections I need to my ingredient list and add the dill. There are two more cucumbers after all.
That’s all for today. I will see you all on Monday unless the urge strikes me to Barbeque this weekend and post it live in INSTAGRAM. Hmmm Maybe my famous drunken chicken? We will have to see.
Until then be well. Be happy, enjoy life and if you cant be good be careful!
Last night was chicken enchilada night with rice and black beans. I stopped at the local market on the way home for some fresh ingredients. Obviously, I needed chicken cutlets. I purchased large flour tortilla wrappers as well. Don’t even try and give me any shit about not making my own. I needed rice too, so one box of Goya Spanish style rice with seasoning, yum. Lastly, I added one can of Goya Black beans to the cart. I had onion, garlic, and OH wait I almost forgot, the sauce. Instead of my usual red enchilada sauce, I opted for the green chili sauce.
At home, I gathered all my cooking utensils and implements of destruction.
Individual Baking dishes/pans
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 – 2 cans enchilada sauce
½ lb. cheddar cheese (grated)
½ lb. Monterey Jack Cheese (grated)
2 tablespoons Salsa
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan and warm it up. Cut the chicken into large bite size pieces as the chicken will shrink as it cooks. Add seasoning to the chicken. You can also use Taco seasoning. Fry on med-low. I find if you cook the chicken on high it gets tough. Cook the chicken until is is no longer pink. In the meantime, make yourself some black beans and Spanish rice.
Once the chicken is done, break out the tortillas. Lay the tortilla flat. Place some cheese in the center like shown.
Then add chicken. You could at this point add rice and black beans, but I chose to serve those on the side. The choice is yours.
Now, let’s roll this Burrito bad boy. Fold over the right and left sides so they are just covering the chicken. Then fold up the bottom so it completely covers the chicken. Now roll the rest of the way. Place in your individual baking dish that you have added enchilada sauce too. This time, I used green chili sauce. Many times in the past I have used the red. Then cover with grated cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, Cholula sauce, and lots of cold beers!
Yesterday was not what I would call a fun day. I raced home from work to find Jennifer in excruciating pain. Luckily, she had an appointment with the pain management doctor already scheduled. Let me tell you, it is not easy to watch someone in so much pain when all you can do is rub their back not knowing if it will ever get better. She did get yet another shot in her spinal cord. I can only hope these start to help. The last one reduced the pain by half but not all the way, and returned a few days later. Right after her doctor visit, we came home and I needed to make something for dinner. Sam offered to run out to the store so I gave him a list of ingredients for Penne Ala Vodka to pick up.
Surprisingly or not so strikingly depending how you look at it, I had Vodka on hand, so I only needed him to pick up a few ingredients: Pancetta, heavy cream, tomato sauce, and of course Penne Pasta. I have butter, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese on hand.
Sam returned with a bag full of groceries. There was the pasta, it was Ronzoni which is what I grew up on. Then there was the heavy cream. He also got apples for himself. In the freezer, he put Heath flavored Klondike ice cream bars as a surprise for Jennifer. Then I reached into the bag and when I pulled out the pancetta, it was not pancetta at all. Sam said I had asked for Prosciutto instead of Pancetta. Anything is possible I guess. Now is when you have to ask yourself. DO I go BACK to the store and get what I want or do I make do with what I have? Besides what’s the difference between Prosciutto and Pancetta besides the enormous cost? Well for one they come from opposite ends of the hog. Second, Prosciutto is cured and meant to be eaten raw. Pancetta is not cured and must be cooked before its eaten. The taste however, well, the difference is debatable. The real question is will Jennifer, Sam, or my mother in-law care? Certainly not my mother in-law.
Needless to say I said “what the fuckin hell” (to myself) and decided to use said expensive cured meat in my Ala Vodka Sauce and opened a beer.
Here is a brief synopsis of how I made dinner last night. I also live streamed it on INSTAGRAM if you were watching.
Once the water was at a rapid boil, I added the pasta to it and set the timer ticking. A few minutes before the pasta was al dente, I added the heavy cream and parmesan cheese to the sauce.
I drained the pastas and poured it into the sauce and coated it the pasta evenly. I served it with a small salad with a vinaigrette dressing.
HERE is the Official recipe below.
1 pkg penne or ziti rigati or rigatoni
4 tablespoons butter
½ pound pancetta bacon
2/3 cup vodka
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can crushed
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic minced
½ small onion minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tbsp. Fresh parsley (chopped fine)
Boil a large pot of water with salt added for the pasta.
In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in ½ pound pancetta bacon and cook while continue to stir occasionally until brown. Add garlic and onion continue to cook until onion is translucent being careful not to brown the garlic (fried brown garlic is bitter unlike roasted garlic).
Add vodka and stir until it is reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.
Remove the sauce from heat and stir in the cheese, parsley and crushed red pepper. Toss sauce with pasta to coat evenly and serve.
NOTES: serve with garlic bread. Double recipe and serve in buffet tray for comany.
So that was my day. At least penne must have been good everyone went back for seconds and there were no leftovers. HUH, no leftovers, its been a long time since that had happened. Jennifer is resting this morning and I’m am off to the old grist mill. I wonder if that’s where they get “back to the old grind” from?
Guacamole is a staple at my house. We use so much of it I often buy it premade. There are rare occasions when I have ripe avocados that I need to use up, so I use them in this recipe.
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon dry or fresh Cilantro
1 to 2 tablespoons Salsa
1 clove garlic Minced
1/2 a small Onion, minced fine
1 tablespoon Recaito (optional)
A few drops of Cholula (optional for heat)
Cut the avocado in half. Twist apart. Scoop out meat from its shell using a tablespoon. Remove the pit from the other half, scoop out second half. Place avocado in bowl or mortar and pestle. Add all your ingredients that you want on top of the avocado, and mash using a knife and fork at first, and then the back spoon, unless your crazy like me and own a food grade mortar and pestle.
Last night before I left work, I received an alert from the local electric company informing me of a thunderstorm warning with high winds expected. They also said their crews would be standing by. This meant I would not be out at the grill barbequing dinner. I needed something new, something I have not cooked in a while, but also blog worthy. BEEF EMPANADAS sounded like the perfect solution. I stopped at the local grocery store and picked up what I needed.
My shopping list and ingredients included: 2 eggs beaten (I had eggs at home), 1 pound of chop meat, 1 cup beef broth (I had Better than Bullion on hand too), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons Cholula sauce, 2 onions (diced fine), 2 tablespoons of tomato paste (I own a tube of this), 4 cloves of garlic (I always have garlic), 1/2 teaspoon oregano (yup), 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cloves (I had to buy this and this shit is expensive), 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons sugar, and shredded Monterey Jack Cheese. Lastly, in the frozen food aisle was Goya Empanada premade circles of puffed pastry. See below.
Now, you could always make your own dough.
3 3/4 cups (18 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and frozen for 10 minutes
1 1/4 cups ice water
To make the dough: Add the flour, sugar, and salt to your food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. It’s not dough yet. Dump the contents of the food processor into a large bowl. Gradually add ice water (about 1/4 cup at a time up to one cup), and use a wooden spoon to work it into the dry. Continue until the dough comes together. You may not need all of the water, or, you may need slightly more. It depends on the flour and weather that day, more specifically the humidity. Turn the dough onto your work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. The flour needs time for its gluten to do its thing.
Preheat oven to 425 F .
NOW for the filling. To make the filling: Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Give it a stir occasionally, until the onion softens in about 3 minutes. Now, I added the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves and cayenne pepper. Then, heat that all up, stirring just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the ground beef, using a wooden spoon to break it up. Brown the meat—this will take about 5 minutes. Add the beef broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue simmering until most of the liquid has cooked off. The meat should be moist but not wet, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pan and mix in the sugar, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the filling to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool.
To assemble the empanadas: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If working with fresh dough, work with one ball of the dough at a time, place it on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out as many circles of dough as you can. Place them to the side on the baking sheet with parchment paper. Repeat with the second ball of dough, placing those circles on a second baking sheet.
I used the premade ones, which saved me an enormous amount of time.
Assemble: Use a spoon and dip it in a small bowl egg wash (two eggs beaten until pale yellow) and moisten the edges of the dough. Place 1 large rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle of dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Now fold the dough over into a half-moon shape so the edges meet. Press them together with your fingers to seal, then use a fork to crimp them shut tight. (TIP: dip the fork in egg wash if it’s sticking to the dough). Transfer stuffed empanada back to the parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a butter knife to carefully scrape the empanada off the counter. You could also use an icing spatula the same way. Continue this process until you’ve filled and sealed all your disks.
Now let’s bake them immediately. In a preheated oven to 425 F with racks in the upper and lower third, brush the empanadas with the egg wash, then bake for about 20 minutes (rotating the baking sheets halfway through), or until the empanadas are golden brown.
While those were cooking, I made a salad and some guacamole.
Enjoy this recipe now, or save it for May 5th. More importantly, enjoy your family, friends, and LIFE.