All posts filed under: Weekday Meals

Under Pressure – Crowder Pea Shellies & Dried Beans

 Another Test on the Cook’sEssentials 4.5 Qt Microwave Pressure Cooker I remember long, hot, late Autumn afternoons, when the lawns have had their last cut, the drying grass  filling the air with such a deep herbal sweetness. I remember visits to my grandparents, sitting on Evelyn’s screened porch, shelling beans and peas… which is an art. There’s a considerable difference between fresh beans and shellies. While a fresh bean can be wickered apart by snapping or with some quick thumb work with a pairing knife, shellies have to be… well, shelled. The long tough side strings have to be removed, a deft thumb employed to separate the casing, then re-positioning said thumb to push through the drying gauntlet; freeing the more than slightly matured beans as you go. For Evelyn and my great grandmother, it was second nature. They’d talk and gossip, all the while casings flying apart and shelled beans dropped efficiently into a pot in their lap. Me?… not so much. Either the strings wouldn’t release, or the casings cracked and broke, or I’d …

Baleful Bounty ~ Sauce Rustica

With Summer in full swing, the garden should be producing to beat the drum. However, after the issues I had earlier in the season, I’ve played it safe on the tomatoes; I only planted one plant of a single variety ( Mountain Pride). And, since it’s a late season tomato… there isn’t anything resembling a ripe fruit on the vines yet.  Thankfully, friends are seeing to it that I have more than enough extra ripe tomatoes to go around. Here’s the thing with being gifted with a dozen tomatoes that are ready to eat NOW – like it or not, some are going to go bad. And the only way to combat all that spoilage is to either cook it down to sauce, or can them (which I don’t do), or zipper bag them up whole – and freeze them (as it happens, I’m all over that action.) Freezing and thawing fully ripe tomatoes allow you to keep that fresh picked flavor that you don’t get with a processed product. Granted, they can’t be used for …

All Stuck Up – Chicken Paella, on a Stick

I know at times, it seems that I’m all in for making simple food look impossibly difficult – 76.4% of my recipes should attest to that. But, let’s clear the air here. Contrary to what you may think, it’s not that I want to frighten the bejeezus out of you so you’ll Never want to try them. It’s that:  * I believe in being thorough. There’s nothing… Nothing.. I hate more than a recipe that leaves things off the list… it really cranks my rice krispies. * I believe you should have everything you could possibly need spelled out. Because, let’s face it. Left to your own devices, some of you wont read the entire recipe, or will make  * your own substitutions, or just get the general gist of the instructions and “Damn the torpedoes – Full speed ahead!” – – -and then complain because it didn’t turn out right. * I believe, that given exhaustive instructions, anyone can cook what I give you. And really, that’s the beginning of trying anything new. Read …

Weeknight Meals – Salisbury Steak

Although the creation of Salisbury Steak is attributed to Dr. J.H. Salisbury  as a means of creating a lower calorie diet in the same odd turn-of-the-century healthcare craze that gave us Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, the “true” Salisbury Steak bares little resemblance to what we make today.  In his book, “The Relation of Alimentation and Disease”, he describes it as  lean, center-cut round – chopped with all the sinew, fat and tendon removed – broiled….. and served with a little Worcestershire Sauce. I know… sounds dreadful. Thank God we turned it into meatloaf patties… because, you know… meatloaf IS so much better for you. ________________________________________________________________ Here’s the thing with the modern Salisbury Steak. While is it’s still a kind of a meat loaf thing, there are a few differences: It’s meat – of course There is some sort of extender – be it grated potatoes, rice, bread crumbs (although thoughts differ on that part of it. Me? I like a little bread) There are vegetables – usually onions and / or celery Seasoning – Worcestershire Sauce, salt, pepper, …

Baleful Bounty ~ Melanzane al Funghetto

With the garden production winding down, there’s been very little in my little hay-bale heaven to harvest. Except for eggplants. Typically, I get 2 to 3 decent sized aubergines out of my one plant… and that makes me happy. This year, I decided to plant 4 plants: 2 Gretel White Pencil Eggplants – similar to Asian style aubergines, only less sweet and a firmer bite 1 Black Beauty – the green grocer standard you find in the market 1 Juliette – a striped, amethyst  jewel-toned, egg shaped aubergine The Juliette fell early victim to the overly wet spring and cut worms devastated the remaining 3 plants off and on throughout the summer, so I really wasn’t expecting much of a harvest at all. However come August, I was awash in eggplant. I ate Eggplant Parmesan until my ears bled. I  made casseroles and terrines. I named them and drew Sharpie faces on them… I gave them away by the dozen… and still my plants produced. Even now (in late October) there are another 2 Black …

Feeding the Beast – Three Meat Pie

No, you really can’t call me a connoisseur of that flat meat pie. I typically go with the old adage – Pizza is like sex… even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. My oldest, fondest, memory of pizza was getting a take-out box (“Warning! pizza from Geno’s can be habit forming”) from Geno’s out in the middle of nowhere on Austell Road when I was a kid. Looking back, I really don’t think their pie was all that good – the crust was uber chewy and the sauce had so much oregano it would curl your nose hairs. But hey, Dad brought it home, and it was a very rare thing, so ominous warning label or not… it was pretty damned good. If I had to say what was the best pizza I’d ever had… that would be a multi-player toss-up. It could be “The Sleeper” from MJ Pippins Or that guy on Pat Mell Road that made you write your own order on a scrap of mimeograph paper Or the slice of cheese …

Weeknight Meals – Chicken with Tomato Chutney

Here’s the thing… this is probably less of a chutney and more of an affected curry. But I really hate calling things curry.. that, well… isn’t. And besides, curry just brings to mind snippets of that forgotten night where me and the donkey woke up covered in roti crumbs reeking of hookah smoke. merrr… So, since it’s closer to chutney than that other thing…  we’re sticking to chutney. Chicken With Tomato Chutney Serves 4(ish) Ingredients 6 Chicken Thighs (Skin On) 6 to 8 Small Ripe Tomatoes (Patio Type) Cut in Half 1 Cup Diced Sweet Onion (Use your geographical favorite – Vidalia, Texas Sweet, Peruvian Sweet, Monrovian Sugar Head, Bora Bora Sweet Tooth…whatever…) 1/2 Cup Diced Celery 1 Clove Garlic – Minced 1 Can Black Olives – Drained (you’ll undoubtedly notice I’ve used the green ripe olives) 2 Teaspoons Garam Masala 1 Cup Vegetable Stock 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Mace 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper 1 Teaspoon Tamarind Paste 2 Tablespoons Ketchup (shush) 1 Tablespoon Honey 2 Tablespoons Oil 1/4 Cup Raisins …

Weekday Meals – Crispy Potato Cakes with Spicy Shrimp

Oh, blame it on the copy of “Irish Pub Cooking” Jane left conspicuously lying around with Colcannon earmarked. Blame it on the fact that after I marinated two dozen shrimp destined for the grill, Jane didn’t want them. Blame it on the quart of mashed potatoes already cooked in the fridge. Blame it.. well, just blame ME. I wanted something crispy.. and fried, and I hadn’t nearly satisfied my weekly starch and grease quotas…  yet. So yes, this started out to be grilled shrimp, but it turned out much better this way. And, even if you don’t, My waistline and liver thanks me. Just so you don’t get all freaked out about fried potato cakes for dinner – in all actuality, they’re only pan fried a couple of minutes to set the crust and finished off in the oven. Crispy Potato Cakes  with spicy shrimp and peas Makes 4 Large Cakes Ingredients For the Marinated Shrimp: 1/2 Cup Orange Juice 1/4 Cup Olive Oil 1 Tablespoon Lemongrass Paste 1 Clove Garlic – Minced 1 Teaspoon Cumin 1/2 Teaspoon Chili …

Kale Tart

I’ve been playing around with the Strong Greens Tart we did back in December. Because?Well, even though it was uber (don’t you hate that word?) tasty – I wanted to see how it would work with a different set of flavorings…. and some different textural components. I’ve been a kugel fan for a long time. Ever since the first time I ate at the now defunct Sydney’s Just South. .. So, if you’re from around here, you’ll know how long that’s been. There’s something about eggs and egg noodles that’s almost as comforting as a big bowl of peppered buttered elbow macaroni. So, to bolster this recipe, I’ve augmented the raisins and pine nuts for walnuts and dried cranberries, switched out the broccoli greens for kale, and added a heaping cup of egg noodles to the mix. You know… I like it just as much as the original.… and that’s not just the noodles talking. Kale TartMakes 1 9″ TartIngredients 1 – 9″ Pie Crust2 Cups of Cooked Kale – Chopped3 Eggs1 Cup Milk3 Strips Bacon1 …

A Little Tail…

Oh, I could expound on the glory, the finger licking and bone sucking – near orgasmic  feat in devouring ox tail… But that would just be cruel. Ox tail is, and always will be, the completely misunderstood cut of meat. Tough, stringy meat?    … sure Fattiness cubed? … but, of course Bizarre weaponized bone structure?   ….  absolutely! But, throw all that together in a long, s l o w cook – and you have something that not even your favorite Jewish grandmother’s brisket can beat… except for that “back half of the cow thing.” Ox Tail – it is the only muscle in a cow that is constantly on the move. All that perpetual swishing creates some serious dense musculature, fat and connective tissue. The only way to make it palatable is to stew or braise it. I’ve chosen to braise. And, I’ve chosen to do it with little to no added liquid. I’m telling you – get the extra wet naps ready… it’s going to be epic-ly messy. Braised Ox Tail Given the rather large knuckle of tail bone holding everything together …