On a ‘meh’ streak

February 8, 2014

Mediocrity, chapter 1.

Mediocrity, chapter 1.

I’m losing my touch.

I have in the past three days cooked two new recipes which ought to have been killer, and one standby that is a tried and true, and none of them were worth seconds.

Sigh.

I won’t get my contract renewed, at this rate. I’ll throw a gopher ball every once in a while, but I’m not used to a string of less-than-damn-good meals. I will have to redouble efforts this weekend.

You will recall that Thursday, I had thawed pork chops. I was browsing Epicurious to determine what I might want to do with them, I had picked up several packages of assorted dried fruit. So when I saw a recipe for pork chops in balsamic cherry glaze, I figured that’d work.

You brown the salted and peppered pork chops in a skillet, deglaze by sauteeing an onion and adding some balsamic vinegar and chicken stock. Put the pork back in the skillet, and add dried cherries. Let the chops simmer until they’re tender. Simple enough, right?

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Interim….

February 6, 2014

I got nothin’ today, being that I was traveling yesterday, lunch was at a meeting, and dinner was liquid when I got home at 8 p.m. It is colder than the proverbial wedge, and I’m contemplating what warm thing I can cook tonight. I have laid out pork chops, but that’s as far as I’ve thought.

I do have a handy household tip for you. The other day, I was braising a pork roast, and thanks to my irascible oven, I had the temp a bit too high, and thus cooked all the liquid out of it. The result was a scorched, sticky mess in my Dutch oven, which is a cast-iron one with an enameled interior.

I soaked and I chipped and I scrubbed. Nada. I even tried boiling soda and water until it boiled dry, which worked in a stainless pan. No joy. So I betook myself to the interwebs in search of advice.

Several remedies were offered, but I went for the boil-a-packet-of-dishwasher detergent in it. You put in a quart or so of water, add the packet (Sam’s generic, in my case), bring it to a boil, turn it down and let it simmer a while.

And glory be, it worked! Not only did it get off the burnt stuff, but it also erased three or four years’ worth of cooking stains on the white enamel.

Not to be outdone, the next day I inadvertently turned a unit to high instead of off, and scorched the bottom of a pan of cheese grits. Careful spooning salvaged plenty of grits for breakfast, and, having emptied my box of soda in an attempt to clean up the Dutch oven the day before, I threw a dishwasher packet into this one and set it to boil. Once again, worked like a charm.

Helpful household hint brought to you ‘n y’mama ‘n ‘em free of charge, while I’m trying to figure out what to cook tonight.

 

An everyday stirfry

February 5, 2014

Stir fry R us.

Stir fry R us.

One of the things about getting a quarter of a beef is that you find yourself rummaging about in the freezer, coming up with a cut of meat you wouldn’t normally buy at the grocery, and thinking, “H’mm. Now what?”

I was rummaging in just that fashion t’other day, and I came out with a piece of top sirloin steak. Now, top sirloin is not typically a steak I buy. If I want a steak to grill, I’m going to go with a porterhouse, a ribeye or a filet. I’ve tried top sirloin, and it generally doesn’t have a great flavor like a ribeye or a porterhouse, nor is it as tender as a filet, so I typically pass it up.

But here it was. So I fetched it inside, went to the interwebs, and commenced looking at ways to prepare it.

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Avocados are good for you. Possibly they cancel out the bacon.

Avocados are good for you. Possibly they cancel out the bacon.

Stick an egg in it.

Actually, most of an egg. You want to separate off part of the white. Plop it in the natural cavity created by the excavation of the pit. Sprinkle it with some powdered pico de gallo seasoning (the only place I’ve ever found that stuff is in the Mexican food section at WalMart, but any pepper blend seasoning ought to work). Blanket it in a slice of cheese (butterkase in this instance). I have used grated Parmigiano, but the butterkase was there and sliced. Sue me. Bake it at 350 for 15 minutes for a slightly runny yolk.

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Super munchies!

February 3, 2014

Yum. Just plain yum.

Yum. Just plain yum.

Well. As is so often the case, the Super Bowl was much ado about not very much. The Seahawks put a significant ass-whippin’ on the Broncos, for whom I was cheering by virtue of the fact they are quarterbacked by one Peyton Manning, who did some of his finest passing while wearing the orange of a Tennessee Volunteer.

Sigh. It was fun while it lasted. Congrats, Seattle. You people play better football than you make coffee. Just sayin’.

If the game was mediocre, the munchies certainly were not. Didn’t have a big crowd, just three of us, so I stayed simple, with some standards. A rye calzone, with a filling of pastrami and cheese; beer candied bacon; potatoes with sour cream and caviar. And Hello Dolly bars.

Rye dough, mustard, pastrami, cheese, yum.

Rye dough, mustard, pastrami, cheese, yum.

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Super Sunday Starters

February 2, 2014

Yumm. Breakfast of champions, right here.

Yumm. Breakfast of champions, right here.

Given that it’s National Day of Gluttony, i.e., Super Bowl Sunday, and I had my Memphis Guinea Pig on hand to sample munchies, I decided to start the gluttony out right with brunch.

Which was gluten-free, except when it wasn’t.

My plans for brunch HAD been latkes with eggs, smoked salmon, and caviar. And then those plans took a sharp turn when I found in my recipe email from the folks at Serious Eats, a recipe for a smoked salmon tart. And I thought, ok, well, we’ll try that. Particularly since the crust showed potential to become gluten free.

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Do not try this at home!

January 27, 2014

Looks better than it tastes. I promise.

Looks better than it tastes. I promise.

Not that it’s dangerous, or anything. But it’s a waste of time, trouble, effort, and chicken broth.

This is an attempt…a mere attempt….at gluten-free chicken and dumplings.

Don’t bother. Either consign them to the realm of things you can’t eat, or, if you’re like me, make it your splurge of the week, and deal with the temporary effects. But unless you are seriously jonesing for some chicken and dumplings, don’t bother trying to make these with gluten-free subs for the tried-and-true dumpling.

Because these? These are not your mama’s chicken and dumplings. These are not chicken and dumplings your mama would have fed to the dog. They weren’t horrible — they were just — well, they had that grainy texture that gluten-free flours seem to impart. And the part of the dumpling that cooks off into the chicken broth to make that thick, glutinous sauce we love so well? It was grainy, too.

One’s chicken and dumplings should not be grainy. They should be silky, sensuously smooth, the thick sauce a a fluffy, satiny blanket for a toothsome dumpling and a shard of chicken.

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