Thursday, June 28, 2007

Don't Call Me Jerk

Another simple dinner tonight, but really fun!

Jerk Tilapia with Sauted Peppers and Onions and Boiled Potatoes

The tilapia filets are lightly rubbed with little olive oil, covered with jerk seasoning and sprinkled with salt and pepper. They are placed on a parchment lined baking sheet and placed under the broiler for 5-7 minutes until cooked fully. My jerk seasoning came from Penzey's, who designed it for pork. I just noticed they do have a blend for chicken and fish.

Our fish holds up well to the fiery, bold flavors of the jerk seasoning; cinnamon, all-spice, various peppers and much more. The sweet peppers and onions complement nicely, plus they add a lovely crunch. And if the fiery flavors of the jerk need taming, the tender, creamy boiled potatoes calm the heat very well.

For the boiled potatoes, they are exactly as they sound. Some small red potatoes are quarted and placed in a pot of cool water and brought to a boil until tender. When drained they are tossed with chopped parsley, salt and pepper and a bit of butter.

Well done, if I do say so.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lemon Pepper Pot

A challenge was presented to me this weekend and I think the results were pretty good. A little work remains, but we're are certainly on the right track.

Lemon Pepper Pasta

I took the basic pasta dough recipe and added the zest of two lemons and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, plus about 3o grinds of fresh black pepper.

I dressed my fresh lemon pepper pasta with a quick pan sauce of shallots, lemon juice and butter, served with a sauteed chicken breast. The pasta was great! Oh how I love fresh pasta and this was a pretty good flavored pasta. The lemon was there, the pepper was there; but next time I'm going to kick both of those flavors up a notch with the zest of three lemons and some more pepper. I had some of the pasta without the sauce and the flavors were subtle. When I sauced up, the flavor was completely hidden by the pan sauce; extra tart from the lemon juice. This was a fun experiment. And I have the rest of the pasta drying right now for a later dinner!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sweet Sweet Basil

I made some pesto tonight from the basil growing on my balcony. I missed the mark on the salt tonight, but with a little sprinkle at the table, it was spot on! Tossed the pesto with some spaghetti, blanched green beans, roasted red peppers and a quickly sauted bit of chicken. Divine!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Mmmm, pancakes. I really should make them more often! I had a bit of a 'headache' this morning from the sangria last night. Pancakes help you feel better when that happens!

Pancakes from The Joy of Cooking

Blend in a bowl:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 TB sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In another bowl, whip:
1 1/2 cups milk
3 TB melted, unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla, optional

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Fold together until blended. Some lumps are ok.

Lightly oil a large skillet set over medium heat. Ladle approximately 1/2 cup of batter onto the skillet or griddle. When bubbles start to appear, carefully flip the pancakes and allow to finish cooking, about one minute.

Serve with fruit, syrup, butter, whatever you like!

Makes approximately 12 5-inch pancakes.

If you are serving several people, you can keep the pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Open Sesame

Sesame noodles and chicken 'sate.'

The noodles are pretty darn good and totally hit the spot on a warm day. They are great warm, room temp or even cold. I prefer them room temp, but enjoy them cool, allowing the chill to escape them a bit. Tonight I added some finely sliced red pepper and carrots to the noodles for some crunch and veg.

The chicken. Well that was an experiment. I thought I had Sate Seasoning from Penzey's. Ooops, must have used it up. SO...I mixed together a spoon of Baharat spice blend, Curry and Tandoori spices, salt, lime juice and some grapeseed oil. Cooked up on the griddle in about 2 minutes. Spicy, but really tasty. Served with some of the extra sesame noodle dressing as a dipping sauce. I'll play around with this again and see what parts of the spices to adjust. Without the sauce the chicken was almost too spicy. Perhaps 1/2 the amount of baharat and maybe a sweet curry instead of the hot curry.

And I was considering using the skewers, but why bother when it's just dinner for two?

Monday, June 18, 2007


Ribs for dinner.

I'll elaborate later, I'm tired now...long weekend/day...parboiled the ribs until cooked and tender, grilled and basted with sauce on the grill pan...served with buttered rice. Tasty...not very tender...a bit dry. Looked good, smelled good, tasted good. And really easy...again, I'll elaborate later when I'm more than partially awake.

UPDATE 6/19/07:
Ok, this was pretty easy, but these were not tender and were dry. So what I'm documenting here is what I did, so next time I can rework this to make them better. I pretty much know what I did wrong and did it on purpose, sort of.

First, I simmered the boneless country pork ribs in water with an onion, garlic clove, bay leaves and some other spices. I did this for about 40 minutes. At this point I removed the ribs and set them aside. I coated each rib in sauce and tossed them on the grill pan, rotating and basting with more sauce for about another 20 minutes.

In the future I would plan to braise the ribs in a brothy sauce for 90 minutes to 2 hours. I suspect that will tenderize the ribs and make them moist in the process. I can still 'grill' them afterwards to carmelize and get some crispy bits.

All that said, for an hours work, they were tasty and worked well for dinner.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Beach Eats

When you spend a week at the beach, at accomodations that don't have a kitchen, you find yourself eating in a lot of different places. And most of them you might care less about. Frankly, after a week of eating out I was DONE! One meal in that time really pleased me. Simple! Fresh! Just all around nice.

If you find yourself in Rehoboth Beach, please take the time to have lunch at The Back Porch Cafe.

We were there for lunch, I see online and must have missed at the restaurant that they have a dinner menu as well. Woot!

For lunch I ordered a simple omlette with bacon, potato, leeks and Gruyere cheese, served with a side of home fries. Perfect! Really one of the best omlettes I've had in ages. The egg was light, fluffy and tender. The filling perfectly complimented each other and worked in complete harmony together. The home fries were uniformly browned with a crisp outer layer and a tender inside. I was completely focused on my meal, I hardly remember what the others at my table had. J-lo had soup, and this same omlette. CB had an omlette with roasted pears and bleu cheese. SK had....he had....? I feel like he had salad with duck breast??? I know we were all very pleased!

My lunch was happily partnered with two beautiful, crisp, bubbly Prosecco!

Thank You Back Porch Cafe for such a good meal while on vacation.

The Back Porch Café
59 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware 19971
Phone: (302) 227-3674

Friday, June 15, 2007

Diana, Goddess of the Hunt

The request for dinner tonight was simple: Beef, it's what's for dinner.

I didn't really have anything in mind so I clicked over to Simply Recipes to check Elise's recipe archives and see what she might have for beef recommendations. Scrolling down my eye was quickly drawn to a recipe I remember drooling over awhile back, Heidi's Steak Diane!

Elise shares the origins of Steak Diane:
Steak Diane is tradtionally made with a thinly pounded steak, and a cognac, butter, and shallot sauce that is flambéed right before serving to great dramatic effect. Doing some research into Steak Diane, I found that the "Diane" part refers to Diana, the Greco-Roman goddess of the hunt, and "a la Diane" sauces were typically served with venison and game meat in centuries past. It was probably New York hotels that popularized the flambéed steak version.
Here is the recipe that is posted on Simply Recipes with a few small changes. The main difference was the cut of beef. I went with a 12oz flank steak, a perfect amount for the two of us. The other change was the cooking...I cooked the steak on the stove top the entire time, removed to a warm plate when cooked to the desired doneness, then continued on with the shallots in the same pan. There was plenty of extra sauce so it went on noodles...enjoy!

Steak Diane
serves 4

1 cup beef broth
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
2 TB Dijon mustard
2 TB tomato paste
1 12 oz flank steak, cut in two
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 TB butter
2 TB olive oil
1/2 cup finely minced shallots
4 TB cognac or brandy
2/3 cup heavy cream

1 Whisk together broth, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and tomato paste; set aside.

2 Start preparing the steak. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the steak. Heat oil in a skillet, add the steak and increase the heat to high, seareach side for 3 minutes, cook an additional 2 minutes per side on medium high heat. Remove steaks to a warm plate.

3 While the steaks are resting, in the same pan as you cooked them, sauté the shallots in butter for one minute on medium heat, stirring constantly. Carefully add the cognac to deglaze the pan. (this is alcohol and will flare up if it gets near the flame.) Increase the heat and cook until the cognac is almost evaporated. Stir in the broth mixture and bring to a boil. Let simmer for a minute. Stir in the cream and cook for two more minutes.

4 Thinnly slice the flank steak to serve. Drizzle warm Diane sauce over the steak on each serving plate.

All the ingredients are ready. Except the mustard which I nearly forgot!

Finely chopped shallots! I love shallots and would use them in almost every meal if I could. Far superior to onions and garlic in my book!

I served the Steak Diane with thin egg noodles.

And blanched green beans that I quickly sauted in some olive oil.

My flank steak. I actually cut it in half, half way through the process, it wasn't cooking through and was all sorts of smoky.

Shallots and Butter!

After the booze was added and allowed to reduce. The mixture was nice and thick, and very dark in color, a deep dark carmel color.

The broth mixture and cream added; simmer.

The plate! Sauce on the steak and a little drizzled on the noodles.

Mmmm, I want more!

Take your bean-o!

I was lazy Thursday night and had left over held up well. Ms. Terri in WI has contributed a recipe she came up with this week and loved! Thanks Terri! Enjoy everyone.

Terri’s Tuscan Bean Soup
(not sure what makes it Tuscan, but go with it!)

Around 1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
About 1 cup of chopped baby carrots
At least 1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I’m sure olive oil would’ve worked)
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 cups water
1 can (16 oz.) Bush’s large Butter Beans, drained (I only had 1 can)
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
A lot of dried Italian seasoning
A few shakes of crushed hot red pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Lots of McCormick’s pepper blend
4 or 5 large fresh basil leaves, left whole
As much minced/chopped garlic as you can stand (I used dried)
Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook celery, carrots and onion in oil until soft.

Add flour, cook and stir 1 minute. Gradually add water, stir until smooth.

Add remaining ingredients, except cheese.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until thickened.

Serve with a sprinkling (or a lot!) of parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rosemary Chops

Tonight was one of my favorite dinners using pork chops. And so simple.

Take your pork chops and season with salt and pepper. Toss into a hot pan coated with olive oil. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove to a warm plate. Add a drizzle of olive oil if the pan is 'dry.' When sizzling add one or two chopped shallots and saute for a moment. Add about 3/4 cup of stock or broth; beef is preferred. Deglaze the pan. Scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow the broth to reduce. Add some fresh chopped rosemary, about 2 tsp. As the sauce continues to reduce add a pat of butter and incorporate into the sauce. Spoon over your finished chops. Serve with potatoes, rice and veg. Tonight was mashed potatoes with melted, stringy mozarella cheese! Plus glazed carrots with fresh oregano. You can find another very similiar version of this recipe here, using red wine with the broth.

I guess the focus of this photo is on the taters, but it was all so good!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pizza Pizza

Last night I made some chunky marinara sauce for pasta. If I do say so, it was delish. Well, there was left over. Today while at work, I was trying to be creative about dinner and nothing was working. On my way to the grocery store, I thought I'd try to use up the pizza?

Well, my initial plan was to use one of this pre-done crusts that my store has. BUT!!! They actually had packages of fresh dough! Wahoo.

So Pizza for dinner!

Stretched out dough, on a pan dusted with cornmeal, so I can slide the pie onto my baking stone in the oven.

Sauced and sprinkled with some parmigiano reggiano!

Pepperonis and roasted bell peppers.

Cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Finished!!!! About 16 minutes in a 450 degree oven. This was a very satisfying. The crust was great. The toppiings were complementary and the leftover sauce worked great. A little salt would have elevated this to near perfection, as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm Back

Hey all, back from vacation! I'm pooped. Really...vacation exhausts me. Slowly gettin' back in the groove. Might take me a little time.

Last night's dinner had to be quick and easy...I wasn't up for cooking. Well, I was but I didn't want anything involved. So...I took large chunks of chicken and generously coated them with 2 tablespoons of Baharat Spice Blend, then sauted in a hot pan with olive oil until almost 'blackened. I served the chicken with my current favorite side dish; Bazaar Couscous! Sauted veggies with zatar spice blend, grapeseed oil, pine nuts and middle eastern couscous.

Very filling and tasty!

Monday, June 04, 2007

See you in a week

So long folks! I'm off for the next regular posts. Maybe some insights and restaurant reviews from our destination, but we'll see. Have a safe and enjoyable week.


Before I go, I want to encourage you to visit a restaurant here DC. Yesterday, for lunch, in the rain, we were finally able to get into Matchbox without waiting!!! Wad a great lunch too.

713 H Street NW
Washington DC 20001

Matchbox is a tiny space in Chinatown, serving pizza, sliders, steaks, sandwiches and salads. I've been hearing about Matchbox since it opened but each time I've made my way there, a long was waiting outside. I'm usually not a fan of lines, so I would just stroll on to the next destination, but Sunday afternoon in the rain was the perfect time to go.

The restaurant is just 15 feet wide and 3, 3 1/2 floors high. We were brought up to the top level and pulled up to our table to review the menu. I really didn't need to, I could tell what I wanted by checking out the other tables. I want mini-burgers and I want pizza!

The mini-burgers are on the appetizer menu and labeled 3.6.9 Mini Burgers. Savory little burgers on a toasted brioche bun with french fried onions. We ordered ours with smoked gouda. Delish. We ordered three, so we could save room for pizza. Easily, ordering the 3 and just the 3, you'd have a nice lunch. But since we were splitting everything, the 3 were a great start. I piled my little burger high with the onions and dug in. Totally satisfying!

Then arrived our pizza. sticking with the beef theme we started, we ordered the Meatball Pizza. Meatballs, bacon, cheese, garlic and a 'zesty' tomato sauce on a crisp crust from a wood fired oven. Crisp and chewy and a little smokey. YUM. The meatballs were a tad dry, but they held up pretty well on the pizza. The garlic could have been distributed a little better, as well as the dash of red pepper flakes.

Overall, the first lunch was great. I look forward to heading back and enjoying more burgers and trying other pizzas! And they have a fun beer list.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Simple, Tasty!

Thai Basil Chicken
Threw this together for lunch on Saturday. I posted the recipe just over a week ago and I followed it almost exactly and it's really easy and super tasty. Hit The Spot! There are a few suggestions I'll do next time to make it a we bit easier and maybe a touch more tasty!

Gather your ingredients together. This is a stir fry so you want to be able to move quickly.

Here's the chicken hanging out in the egg white/cornstarch bath. Looks like a cereal bowl of chicken. Icky!

Chicken, onions and jalapenos.

The sauce has been added and is simmering.

Off heat with Thai Basil from my garden added!

Plated up with coconut rice and garnished with the flower from the Thai Basil plant.

My notes:
Egg white/cornstarch step: I'm not sure if there was something that didn't work for me or what, but I found this step to be a touch excessive and I don't think it brought anything to the party. I found myself picking out and removing chunks of cooked egg white and cornstarch. So in the future, I'll plan to make this, but skip this step. I will still cut the chicken super thin. I will first start the onions in the pan, give them a brief moment by themselves, then add the chicken and allow to cook for a minute before adding the sauce. I suspect that the cornstarch is in the egg whites to help thicken the sauce in some way, so I will have a small bowl with 1 tsp of cornstarch mixed with water and be prepared to add that to the pan after the sauce as heated, in case it doesn't want to thicken. Make sense? Let me know. If someone has made this and knows what the egg whites/cornstarch mix are supposed to turn out like, please let me know.

Oil: So if you remove the egg white step, you can stir fry the onions and chicken in just a small touch of oil, not the 1/4 to 1/2 cup called for in the recipe. I didn't use a full 1/2 cup this time, but there was plenty in there. I would like it better with less oil! Maybe 2 tablespoons max.

Flavors: The flavors were great! But I would probably add some extra heat with red pepper flakes or an additional jalapeno.

Additions: While enjoying this tasty morsel we traded back and forth ideas of what we might like to add. I thought bite sized pieces of fresh pineapple and some cashews would be great. Joyous suggested water chestnuts for crunch. Bell pepper would probably be alright, but you do want the basil flavor to come through and I can see the bell pepper having the potential to mask those flavors.

This was super tasty and we look forward to having it again. A winner!

Saturday, June 02, 2007


The other night we had burgers. I was craving a burger. Haven't had one in ages.

While I was shopping I remembered what my mom used to do at home for extra special's no secret, but for a pound of ground beef, she'd add a packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. What fun. Haven't had a burger like that in ages! What a treat.

We had our burgers on toasted English muffins with some cheese and bacon. I was a touch on the lazy side so it...shhhhh...I used the packaged, pre-cooked bacon. Just 30 seconds in the microwave and it's done. A touch longer for bacon a little more crispy. Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Sweeter than your average bacon. If you're in a bad way for bacon, it's a quick substitute for regular bacon.

Our side was roasted potatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and some fresh chopped rosemary. YUM.