Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alfredo - by request

I have one recipe written down that I refer to often because I can't remember some of the technical how-to details from one time to the next.  I made it recently and took the leftovers for lunch.  A co-worker has asked for the recipe, so now it's time to commit it to the site for future reference.

Alfredo Sauce [ with Chicken and Broccoli]

1 pint heavy cream
1 stick [plus some] butter
5-8 oz grated Parmesan cheese [Refrigerated grated parms are normally 5 oz. This amount is good for the sauce, but you might want a little extra for garnishing.]
3-4 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 small onion, diced.
2 -3 stalks of celery, diced.
Broccoli florets [I used dehydrated broc. the last time, but fresh or well thawed and drained frozen will do.]
Chicken [I used left-over chicken breast smoked on our Cobb grill.  You could  bake a couple of lightly seasoned breasts before hand or dissect a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for convenience.]
1lb. pasta of choice
Salt & Pepper to taste.
Fresh parsley, finely chopped.  [Optional]

Prepare/cook chicken.  Once in bite-sized bits, set aside.
Lightly steam fresh broccoli, or thaw and drain frozen.  Set aside.
Boil 1 lb pasta.  Drain and reserve 1 cup liquid.  Set aside.

In large skillet/frying pan, add 1 tbl. butter on medium heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil if available to keep butter from burning.
Add onion and celery to the pan.  Stir and cook 1-2 minutes then add garlic. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and continue cooking for 1-2 more minutes or until vegetables start to get soft.
Add cream and stir.  Bring to a boil.  Stir often.
Reduce heat.  Let cream reduce for 5-6 minutes.  Lid off.

Add remaining butter.  Stir.
Heat should be very low before adding the next ingredient!
Slowly stir in Parmesan cheese.
Taste and adjust seasoning - salt & pepper
Add broccoli.  
Add chicken.  **Note:  You could leave broccoli and chicken out and serve on top or to the side of the alfredo pasta.
Stir in pasta.  Add reserved cooking liquid as needed for consistency.

Serve with a sprinkle of Parm, a crack of black pepper, and a dusting of fresh parsley.
Good with crusty garlic bread.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Parmesan Pork w/ Cheese Tortellini and Spinach

This yummy dinner kind of came together by accident. I was doing a grocery shop for all those little things we like to have on the boat but were out of...provisioning. But since I was in the store, I might as well pick out something for dinner. I eyed up a Hormel Parmesan Crust Porkloin and decided that would be easy enough to throw on the grill.

Now for a side item. Since we've gotten the new Cobb grill, Jeff has done a lot of the cooking which I greatly appreciate...but it means we've had a lot of corn on the cob and baked potatoes - those being the obvious choices for throwing on the grill. Not tonight, though, I was picking out something different. The Parmesan crust suggested Italian so I picked out a roasted garlic and cheese tortellini and went back to the produce section for a bag of baby spinach...that should make a nice side dish.

By the time I got home from work a little after 7, Jeff had the pork started. Time to relax, have a cocktail, and enjoy the breeze and the sunset. The great thing about this new grill is that you can cook very slowly with it if you chose and as neither of us were hungry, we took our time cooking the tenderloin. I'm sure you could just follow the directions on the label and cook it in the oven as suggested.

Jeff got out his newest guitar, and spent a very pleasant evening checking on the pork occasionally. But, now it's gotten late, and I'm still not hungry. We took the tenderloin off the grill and let it rest. I thin sliced it and made Jeff a sandwich...the rest could wait.

The next day, to make dinner quicker and easier, I went ahead a boiled the tortellini for a minute less than the lowest cooking time, drained them, gave them a pat of butter and a dash of salt, pepper, and garlic...then [after sneaking a few] threw them in the fridge for later.

Dinner was a cinch. I heated my large skillet with a bit of oil, ran a knife through the pork slices to make them bite size, and threw them in the hot oil. Next, the tortellini went right in on top. Shake, shake...sizzle, sizzle. After just a minute or 2, I reduced the heat, threw in a large scoop of minced garlic [the kind in oil], tossed in a couple handfuls of spinach and a pat of butter and put the lid on.

One minute later [just enough to be put a wilt on the spinach but not really cook it.] and I was putting dinner on a plate. A quick sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and in Jeff's case, a bit of tomato sauce, and VIOLA!

Jeff told someone today that it was the best thing that he's eaten in months...since he's been doing most of the cooking, I'll take that as a compliment.

It was certainly good enough to fix again...whether or not we do it in the same manner will remain to be seen. I think all kinds of left-overs...steak, chicken, chops...could be used in the same manner with yummy results.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Guest Menu part 3 [Ribs and Rub]

Another never-fail-favorite when I have people to feed is ribs cooked in the rotisserie.

Yes, we have a rotisserie on the sailboat.

We've all seen the late night infomercial for Ron Popeil's Showtime Rotisserie Grill..."Just set it and forget it!"

Well, Jeff used to have one and gave it away because he thought it was a ridiculous thing to try to make space for in the small confines of a sailboat.
It only took a short period of time before we both missed it enough to order a new one.

It's just hard to screw anything up in one of these things and everything turns out to be delicious, moist and flavorful.

The secret though is in the rub.
A good rub can be made by just simply sprinkling a nice cut of meat with your basic spices...salt, pepper, onion, and garlic or any one of the myriad of spice blends found at your local grocer.

But, I have developed a rub that is my personal favorite and seems to be good on just about everything I've tried it on beef and pork wise. I haven't tried it on chicken or fish.

It all started when Jeff made the java rub from the book "How to Grill" by Steven Raichlen.
I would take some of his rub and mix it with other things of my choosing.
When the rub ran out, I decided to mix a batch of my own.
I looked at the java rub recipe but I don't like the smell of coriander and couldn't see adding it to my recipe.
So here is approximately what I threw, I usually make a container full and use what I need and save the rest for a later date. So, if you only want one application adjust your amounts accordingly.
And keep in mind that I don't measure...we're mostly just winging it here.

2 packs of Starbucks instant coffee [3.3 grams/each makes a cup]
1 Big heaping tablespoonful [from here on to be known as BS] garlic powder
1 BS onion powder
1 BS parsley flakes
1 BS Hungarian if there were any other kind.
1 BS Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
A few generous sprinkles of oregano...flakes or ground or both.
Fresh ground pepper until you arm feels like it might fall, and then add a bit more.
A dash of cumin
A dash of cayenne pepper...flakes or ground or both.

And now for the secret ingredient...drum roll, please...
A BIG heaping spoonful of beef broth granules. I've used Wyler's or Maggi and both have been fine.
This is the whole reason I keep any other salt to a minimum and is probably the only salt the recipe needs. I have been known to add smoked or hickory salt to the mix. If it gets too salty you can always add more of the other ingredients.

Once you've got everything combined, take a fork and smoosh everything together. This will break up the granules and any herb flakes you might have added.

Now you need to lick a finger and give it a taste.
At this point, you're on your own.
Add more garlic, coffee, chocolate, pepper, salt, or anything else your heart taste.

When you get it how you like it, seal it up in an airtight container and run down to the store for a slab of meat.
Ribs, brisket, London broil, pork tenderloin, Boston butt...whatever you like to cook.

I like to rub the meat the day before I plan on cooking it.
Wrap it up nice and tight and let it just sit in the fridge.

Then through it on the grill, under the broiler, in the pressure cooker or if your one of the fortunate...skewer it up and "Set it and forget it!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Guest Menu Part 2 [Lobster Mac & Cheese]

My Mac & Cheese is always a crowd-pleaser and a favorite among our guests. This time I wanted to try something a little more special.

First I bought 2 lobster tails of the Florida spiny persuasion...about a pound a piece and frozen.
I let them sit and thaw while I prepped the other parts of the recipe such as grating the cheese [8oz. of cabot's low fat sharp white cheddar] and boiling the pasta [barilla pasta plus shells to go with the seafood theme.]

Next I steamed the tails in the veggie steamer for about 5 minutes...then dumped them in a colander and covered them in ice to stop the cooking process. The tails were slightly under-cooked...definitely no trying a nibble...but it made them easy to remove from the shells. I gave the lobster meat a quick chop and set aside.

Next I prepped my liquid which consisted of 4 eggs and a quart of fat free half and half. I have had pretty good luck with the fat free stuff although the results would probably be creamy with the regular.

Usually in my mac and cheese, to complement the flavor of the cheddar, I add a dash of Worcestershire and a squirt of good mustard. This time, I thought sherry would be good. I bought cooking sherry at the grocery and although it worked just fine, it is very salty and you have to be careful. Next time, I'll spring for a small bottle of the real stuff and have a sip or 2 of it while everything is baking.

I added maybe a 1/4 cup of the sherry to the egg and cheese mixture with a sprinkle of garlic powder and a dash of pepper.

Now for the cheese part. As I previously mentioned, I grated the block of cabot's but then added to it a bag of the new Kraft cheese with Philly cream cheese...the triple cheddar, I think.
The cream cheese added to the shredded cheese has got me thinking about the next time adding some actual cream cheese to the recipe...perhaps 1/2 the cream and a block of softened low-fat Philly whipped into the egg mixture.
Just something to think about.

So now it's it's time to put it all together.

Melt 1/4 stick of butter in your casserole dish...swish it around and pour the rest into the egg mixture.

First layer 1/3 of the pasta...I tried to make this a smaller dish with more lobster to pasta ratio so I did not use a full pound of the cooked shells. The dog was all for this decision and graciously helped with the extra shells I no longer required.

Next sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese with 1/2 of the lobster. Don't get hung up on the all works out.

Now 1/3 more pasta...1/3 more cheese....the rest of the lobster. Finish off with the rest of the pasta and the last of the cheese. Give it all a good pat and then pour the egg/cream/sherry mixture over the top.

Now bake it according to whatever the other page says or covered for about 45 minutes in a hot oven.

In the meantime melt the rest of that stick of butter, combine with a generous amount of panko, a fair amount of parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle or 2 of old bay.

When the timer goes off, remove the covering and spread evenly over the top.
Bake for another 15 minutes or until it's done.

Let me know how yours turns out.
Mine was quite yummy and I look forward to tweaking the recipe just a bit to make it even more delicious.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Guest Menu [Part 1 - Shrimps]

As some of you may have experienced, and the rest of you have read about, a big part of a guest's experience on the S/V Thin Line has a lot to do with the food.

Everyone who comes to the Keys wants to eat seafood. I try to accommodate by making a trip to the Keys Fisheries and purchasing a couple of pounds of Key West Pinks.
Here's a bit of history about the Key West Pink variety of shrimp. Accounts vary, but sometime between 1949 and 1958 they were "discovered"...History is a slippery slope. One story claims a fishing boat caught a shark and when they cut it open, it's belly was full of the never before seen shrimp. Another version is that grouper being caught and processed had their bellies similarly full leading to a rich and plentiful shrimping ground off of the Dry Tortugas. The most important discovery about the pinks is contributed to shrimper, Felix Salvador, when he decided to drop his nets at dusk instead of dawn. Legend has it that alcohol might have been involved, but the pinks only run at night. All I know is those shrimp sure taste yummy.

The easiest way I have discovered to fix the tasty morsels is to get out the vegetable steamer. Put enough water in a pot to touch the bottom of the steamer. Add a sliced up lemon or lime if handy, and bring to a boil. Substitute beer if you are so inclined. In the meantime, rinse the pinks in a colander, picking out any odd bits, and then sprinkle liberally with Old Bay. When you have steam, dump the pinks. The guy at the fisheries told me I only had to steam them for 3 minutes or so...but I gave mine a toss at the 3 minute mark and continued steaming for another 3. They were some pretty big shrimp [16 to 22 per pound]. Then it was back into the colander for the shrimp and then onto a plate. Serve with hot melted butter, lemon wedges, and lots of napkins. You just can't go wrong with this crowd pleaser.

If you happen to have left-overs...I almost always over-buy and so I usually do...go ahead and peel all the shrimp and refrigerate. I like to get the peeling part out of the way.

Now you have 2 options for leftover sandwiches - hot or cold.
On one of Angela's trips, she took the shuttle back to the airport so I made her a sandwich for the ride. First I cut the shrimp into more manageable bits, then chopped some celery, onion, and a baby carrot or two. Mix with a dollop of mayo, a squirt of lemon, a dash of sea salt, and a crack of black pepper and pile it up on a croissant and viola - a gourmet morsel that you'll probably have to eat with a knife and fork [and extra napkins] but very yummy.

I had the same thing in mind for our last bit of company until Janet announced that she didn't eat cold seafood. Well, pooh.
Fine, then.
Same basic stuff: dice a bit of celery, onion, and a baby carrot or 2 and lightly saute in a skillet with a bit of butter. When that's good and soft, throw in the cut up shrimp and heat just enough to warm the shrimp but not really cook them any further. Spoon on to a nice, toasted bun...publix french hamburger buns are a pretty good choice...and top with a slice of cheddar cheese. I made a bit of a savory dressing by mixing a bit of Ken's Steak House Creamy Caesar with a bit of brown mustard and slathered a bit of that on the bun as well.
Extra napkins, a knife, and a fork are probably a good idea with this one as well.
You could add a bit of color with red pepper or a bit of spinach, but I used what I had on hand and had rave reviews.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tropical Eggnog

This recipe may be of Puerto Rican origins, but then again, it may not...all I know is that is pretty tasty and I've never had anything quite like it.

Blend in a 2 quart pitcher or a 2 litter bottle:
1 [14oz] can coconut milk
1 [14oz?] can of coconut cream or creme of coconut
1 [14oz] can of sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs

Add first three ingredients and shake well. Add three whole eggs [can be beaten first].
Shake well and refrigerate immediately.

To Spike or Not to Spike...
What a silly question.
The question is WHAT to add to your nog.
Now what you spike your eggnog with seems to be a personal/regional choice.
Some prefer rum. Some bourbon. And some brandy.
I saw a great recipe in the paper the other day for "Eggnog Spike" where you mix 2 cups bourbon, 1 cup rum, and one cup brandy. Add one nutmeg that you smack into 4-5 pieces with a frying pan/hammer, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 7 cloves. The recipe said to cork it up tightly and sit on it for a week...well, we don't have that much time left before the big day so I recommend mixing a batch up tonight and just see how the flavor improves, assuming you don't drink it all in the first sitting. Next year, you can make it up to 3 months in mark your calendar for October.
Perhaps a double-batch may be in order.
I don't suggest using top of the line liquor for this recipe but I wouldn't use the cheapest stuff either.
I know nothing about brandy, so if anyone can suggest a medium priced brandy with a good flavor, please leave it in comments.
For the rum, I would suggest Cruzan Dark.
For the bourbon, try Old Forrester.

Another tip:
If you don't care about other people drinking your eggnog and their alcohol preferences, go ahead and mix the booze right in and then you can place the concoction in the FREEZER.
This may take a little trial and error to get it just right, but...who cares?
Serve in frosty shot glasses, sprinkle the top with nutmeg, and ho, ho ,ho.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Brixx Pizza

I like pizza. I don't love pizza.
After a slice or 2 I get tired of the same flavor and want something different, but alas, my entire pizza is the same now-monotonous flavor.
So Friday night when my Mother mentioned getting pizza at Brixx's right around the corner from her house I was hesitant, but it was close, I was hungry, and it was getting late.
I thought we'd have to agree on the pizza toppings and I was prepared to acquiesce to more veggies and less meat than I would care for. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the wood fired pizzas at Brixx were 10 inches and made for personal comsumption!
I ordered this one:

prosciutto and pancetta with whole milk mozzarella cheese topped with fresh arugula and white truffle oil [on a traditional crust lightly brushed with olive oil]

Topped with some freshly grated parmesan, talk about crispy, chewy, fresh, light, salty, peppery perfection!
I ate the whole thing.
After finding a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, Sarah [my Mother] asked me if I wanted to go back a mere five days later. I said sure. I ordered the same pizza. This time it was even better as it came mounded with the spicy arugula dressed with the rich earthy truffle oil to the point I had to fold my slices to keep the cool, crisp goodness on the pizza.
I ate the whole thing, again.

This one might be worth trying to copy at home.