Way back in early January, I decided to do an egg bake to use up a bunch of stuff in the fridge. (sensing a theme here?) While it turned out OK, there was a lot of things that I will do differently the next time. First off, making a half batch. A 9 x 13 pan doesn’t sound like a lot of food, but when you eat it for lunch several days straight, it gets a little tiring. Also, I would have mixed the ingredients more instead of layering them. There was a layer of cheese in the middle that basically separated the dish into two halves. I would have much preferred the cheese distributed more randomly instead of a strata layer. Finally, I would have liked to cut down on the amount of peppers and mushrooms that I put in. They overwhelmed the dish and ended up a bit soggy in texture. So if I could figure out a way to get rid of some of their moisture it would be a good thing. Sauteing them would be a logical option, especially for the mushrooms. That way I could get a little extra flavor out of them as well. Thinking about a little bit more, I am concerned the peppers would get mushy from the extra cooking. So I think I would skip that unless I need to get rid of some more moisture for the third time around. Enough griping, on to the recipe! I’ll write it up as I plan on cooking the next time.
- 12 Eggs, beaten
- 4 oz Button Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 Bell Peppers, medium dice
- 1 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 1/2 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1 large Onion, small dice
- 1 lb Bacon
- 1 Tbs Butter
- 1 Tbs dried Basil
- 1 Tbs dried Oregano
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Fry the bacon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop into 1/2″ strips crosswise. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute mushrooms until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Mix the cheeses together and set aside half of the mixture. In a large bowl, beat the eggs together.
Add the rest of the ingredients in with the eggs and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and top with the reserved cheese blend.
Place it in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out slightly wet in the center.
A favorite soup around here is butternut squash soup. While digging through my back issues of Cook’s Illustrated (Sept / Oct 2011), I came across one that had a recipe for it, so I just couldn’t resist giving it a try.
- 2.5 lbs Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2″ chunks
- 2 Tbs Butter
- 1 Leek, white and light green parts only. Quartered lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
- Salt and Pepper
- 4 cups Veggie Broth
- 1-2 C Water
- 1 Tbs Thyme
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Pinch Cayenne Pepper
- Sour Cream
Place the squash in a bowl, cover, and microwave until a paring knife easily slides through, 14-18 minutes. Stir halfway through. Transfer the squash to a colander set in a bowl, drain for 5 minutes and reserve the liquid. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add squash, leek, and 1 tsp salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash starts to break down and brown fond forms in the bottom of the pot, about 10-13 minutes. Add 2 cups of broth and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen and dissolve the fond. Add the 2 remaining cups of broth, the reserved squash liquid, 1 cup of water, thyme, bay leaf, and cayenne. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the leeks are tender, 6-7 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Using a stick blender puree the soup until smooth. Bring back to a simmer. Add water to create desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fried leeks (see below).
- 1 leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
- 2 Tbs AP Flour
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/4 C Olive Oil
Toss leeks, flour, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat oil in a skillet until shimmering. Add half the leeks and fry stirring often until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat with the other half of the leeks.
A week ago I was looking through the fridge seeing what needed to get used up. I had some butternut squash that I never got around to roasting. I then looked in Rice & Risotto: a collection of over 100 essential recipes and found one that called for squash. Sounded like a plan to me. (The copy that I have has a different cover, but the ISBN number is the same). I started with this cookbook because Lindsay has been requesting more rice and veggies in our meals. Guess not everyone prefers protein and starch heavy farm meals. *shrug*
- 1.5 lbs Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 Tbs Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Honey
- 1 Tbs dried Basil
- 1 Tbs dried Oregano
- 1 Tbs Butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Onions
- 2 cups Arborio Rice
- 3/4 C dry White Wine
- 5 C Veggie stock
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the squash into a roasting pan. Mix 1 Tbs of oil and the honey together and pour over the squash. Mix until everything is coated. Put the squash into the oven for 30-35 minutes or until tender.
Heat the veggie stock in a pot until simmering. In a small bowl, mix the basil, oregano, and 2 Tbs of oil together and set aside. Heat the butter and remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions and cook for 8 minutes, or until soft and golden. Stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the rice in the oil mixture. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly. Once the wine is mostly absorbed, add enough stock to cover the rice and cook over medium-low heat. Here the recipe calls for stirring constantly, but I find that everything comes out just fine if you thoroughly stir it a couple of times a minutes. Again add enough stock to cover the rice when the first batch is almost completely absorbed. Repeat until you have used up the stock. About 20 minutes. After you have added all of the stock and the risotto is still a little bit soupy, add the herb oil and squash. Gently, but thoroughly mix everything together. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the rice is creamy and cooked, but still retaining a little bite in the center. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
The reason you want to heat the veggie stock up is so when you add it to the cooking risotto, you don’t dramatically drop the temperature and cause the cooking time to skyrocket.
One of my most under-utilized kitchen appliances is my slow cooker. It’s an unbelievably easy way to have supper ready when Lindsay and I get home from a long day and neither of us feel like doing anything more than throwing in a frozen pizza. I think the problem lies in that I need to get it prepped the night before and throw it together before I head out to work. I’ve got my mornings timed to the last minute so I can sleep as late as possible. I know the obvious solution would be to go to bed earlier, but that never seems appealing to me. Around a month ago, a friend was coming over to dinner after work and I needed to have something ready to eat basically when I got home. Fortunately, I had swiped a roast from my folks over Christmas so I had a very easy out with the crock pot. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but Mom and Dad have a dairy farm up by St. Cloud and every year they save a steer for butchering. It’s a much cheaper alternative to buying meat all the time at the grocery store. Also, in my ever so humble opinion, it is a much tastier option as well as healthier, both because I know where the meat comes from and what the steer gets fed. (For reference, it is probably closest to organic beef, or as my little sis labels them when she sells the calves, all natural, because she hasn’t gotten the certification).
I was looking for a beef roast recipe that works in a slow cooker. Specifically I was looking for how long it needed to cook on which setting. As a starting point, I referred to mini-cookbook that came with it. And to my surprise, I found a recipe that sounded really good. Naturally, I tweaked it to suite my tastes, but it was mainly the ratios that I adjusted and added some ginger since I had it in the fridge.
- 3 lb Roast
- 2 tsp ground peppercorns
- 1/2 bulb Garlic, minced
- 3.5 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/4 C Soy Sauce
- 3 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tsp Mustard Powder
- 2 thumb sized pieces of Ginger, minced
- choice of Vegetables, cut large (I used baby cut carrots, potatoes, celery, and onions)
Place the roast in the center of the slow cooker and arrange the vegetables around it. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the roast. Cook on High for 4-5 hours, or on Low for 8-10 hours.
I checked the roast when I got home (total cooking time of 9 hours) and the roast was amazingly tender. All of the intramuscular fat and sinew had completely dissolved and the meat was literally falling apart as I took it out of the crock pot. One thing that I would change is to add the veggies later on in the cooking process because after nine hours, they were a little bit mushy. I guess turning them into a puree or mash would be an option too. I’m not sure what to do about the dark tint all of the veggies took on because of the cooking liquid. I guess either accept it as is or cook them separately. The one thing the I did change when writing down the ingredients above is that I corrected a mistake that I made when I was reading the recipe initially. I put in a full tablespoon of ground pepper instead of getting a tablespoon of peppercorns then grinding. It tasted great, it just was on the peppery side.
. . . So I guess I’ll catch up a little on my posts that I’ve been neglecting. I’m going to do the less involved ones, so don’t pretend there is any actual chronological order here. It’s just what’s convenient for me, and that’s what’s important right?
We ate out a couple of times at places that are worthy of posting. The first one is Mac’s Fish and Chips located on the corner of Hamline and Larpenteur in St. Paul. I cannot speak with any authority about any dishes beyond the cod and chips basket, clam and chips basket, deep fried cheese curds, and salt-water taffy. I’ve never been able to convince myself to order anything else because this subset of their menu is just that good. This is a place that I cannot possible recommend enough. BTW, chips = french fries in the British parlance for those not in the know. Oh, I should note that Mac’s wraps the baskets in newspaper like they do back in England. It’s a nice touch.
The other place of note that we ate at was Muffuletta on Como Ave. I had never eaten there before so I was interested in going to an alumni dinner that Lindz’s school was throwing. Ok, I was interested in going for a reason beyond just free food. Maybe Narren was right, I am just a food whore. But I think that is a topic for another post. Anyway, Muffuletta is a bistro style place with a globally inspired menu. Since the school took over the whole restaurant, there was a limited menu. I got the salmon wellington and Lindz got the mushroom risotto. Hers was very tasty but nothing I haven’t eaten / made before. I have to admit that curiosity drove my decision to have the salmon. Ever since we honeymooned in Jamaica where I had the most amazing beef wellington, again a topic for another post, I’ve been fascinated with the dish. The salmon dish was over some roast veggies and some kind of cream sausce that I can’t remember the specifics on. On the whole, the dish was good and put together well. My only complaint about it was that the salmon was over cooked. I don’t know of a solution to the problem, so while it is a critique, it is not a judgmental one. It is just something I would have liked differently. If that makes any sense at all.
I know, I’ve been terrible at keeping up with the posting lately. Been having issues with connecting my phone to the computer (linux & android currently don’t like each other). But I’ve figured out a way around it and can transfer files. (Should just get the #$^*&^ digital camera we’ve been planing on. Besides, I’ll get better quality photos.) Anyway, I haven’t forgotten about this project. Here’s a couple of photos from posts that I’ve got in the works. I just have to sit down and commit to writing them.