Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teriyaki Grilled Pork Tenderloin by Tom

 Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Peppers, Onions and Corn by Tom

Needing a quick Saturday evening meal, we decided that a pork tenderloin would taste good paired with a melange of different vegetables.  Our niece, Chelsea, had mentioned a particular teriyaki marinade and sauce that she had discovered at Wegman's.  Off to Wegman's I went to buy the pork tenderloin and the Soy Vay teriyaki marinade along with a couple of ears of corn.

This is a grilled meal start to finish.  I marinaded the pork tenderloin in a ZipLoc bag for about an hour.  For my melange of vegetables, I used three bell peppers - one red, one yellow, and one orange.  I also used a Vidalia sweet onion.  I also used the corn on the cob I had purchased.

Preparation of the vegetables is easy.  After shucking the corn, I put it on a sheet of aluminum foil.  Added a couple pats of butter, salt and pepper, and then wrap tightly.  The peppers I cut off both ends, cored and seeded the peppers, and then sliced in half.  I poured a little olive oil over them and coated each halved pepper with the oil using my hands.  The Vidalia sweet onion I peeled, halved and coated in olive oil as well.  I used a skewer to hold them together.  Toothpicks would work just as well.

Time to grill!

I preheated the grill and got it good and hot.  But as I put the pork on the grill, I immediately lowered the heat to minimize excessive burning of the meat.  Because teriyaki sauce has sugar in it, you can expect to get some char.  What you don't want is a burned crust.  Grill the pork tenderloin for 30 minutes.  I grilled each of the four sides for 7.5 minutes.

After the first five minutes of grilling the pork, put the corn on the grill.  This will grill for approximately 25 minutes.  Rotate the corn every five minutes.

At the 10 minute mark of the pork grilling, put on the onion halves.  These will grill for 20 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn over and grill until soft.

Finally at the 15 minute mark, put on the pepper halves skin side down.  Turn these over after about 10 minutes.

Doing this in this order will have your entire meal coming off the grill at the same time.  Let the pork rest for a few minutes before you slice it.  I slice the pork tenderloin into 3/4" pieces.  Serve with the peppers and onion.


The Soy Vay teriyaki sauce has a little write up on the label that says it is the brainchild of a Jewish boy and a Chinese girl.  They combined the best of their families recipes to make this sauce. I really enjoyed this marinade as it was both easy and very flavorful.  You can find it in Aisle 14A in any Wegman's in the country. (That's an inside joke.)

   ---Tom

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tuna Fish Salad with Avocado instead of Mayo

Tuna Fish Salad with Avocado

Our niece, Chelsea, doesn't like mayonnaise, but loves avocados, so we made this delicious salad for lunch while she was here to visit.  

Tuna Fish Salad with Avocado (instead of Mayo)

Serves 2

1 can Yellowfin Tuna light (packed in water), drained
1 ripe avocado, mashed
squeeze of lemon and salt for the avocado
dried minced onions, about 1 T. 
chopped sweet gherkins or other sweet relish, about 2 T.
salt and pepper, to taste


In a small bowl, mash fresh ripe avocado in to the texture of mayonnaise, leaving a few chunks if you like. Squeeze lemon over it and generously salt the smashed avocado mixture.  

Add the minced onions and stir together. While the onions hydrate, chop up the sweet pickles.  Drain the tuna fish well.  Add the pickles and the tuna fish and mix together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

B

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blueberry Muffins with Granola Topping from Bridget

Blueberry Muffins with Granola Topping from Bridget

This is a simple muffin recipe I found online, then I added cardamon powder and sprinkled granola on top---a simple trick I came up with to make the tops look fancy.

Here's the recipe I used from Sarah's Cucina Bella:  http://sarahscucinabella.com/2011/08/03/simple-blueberry-muffins/


            ---Bridget

Monday, August 11, 2014

Early Pumpkins from Gina

Okay, so maybe I planted them a little early...

    ---Gina




Saturday, August 9, 2014

Chocolate Pasta

Chocolate Pasta 

We bought chocolate pasta on impulse --- but we would now say skip it, if someone suggests it or you see it on a menu.

There are so many other great dessert choices.  This dessert felt gimmicky.

Here's what cooked chocolate pasta looks like.
Tom bought Italian mascarpone cheese and added a little confectioner's sugar.

The best part was Jeanne's Hot fudge sauce (click link for recipe), which we reheated and drizzled on top.
I am sure there are some big fans of chocolate pasta out there, but to us, it just wasn't that special.

Thought we'd pass on what we learned.

B

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Quinoa Salad with Red and Yellow Peppers, Spinach, and Cilantro

Quinoa Vegetable Salad

Ever since I had the Belly Buster at Sparky Town in Syracuse with my niece last winter, I have been looking for a recipe which I could make at home.  It was a quinoa vegetable sandwich wrap.  Surprisingly good ---and healthy, too!

I found a recipe in Best Ever Cooking for Two which I thought might work.  I beefed it up with extra peppers, onion, and spinach.

We loved it  -- we had seconds --- but it didn't have the texture I was looking for.  Too mushy.

Nonetheless, the flavors are excellent, so I am posting it.

I served it as a hot salad along with grilled lamb chops. Then I made a molded cold salad by storing it in the smallest of the Glad containers, and turning it upside down on the plate to serve.

I might try orzo next.  Or maybe I am using the wrong version of quinoa?

Quinoa Salad with Peppers, Spinach and Cilantro
(adapted Best-Ever Cooking for Two)

2/3 quinoa, rinsed and dried
1 cup water
salt and pepper
1/2 large onion,  chopped
1 -2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2  peppers (1 red and 1 yellow), chopped
1 tub (3-4 cups) of fresh spinach, washed and dried
fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried and chopped
2-3 ounces of paneer Indian cheese (optional)
1.5 t. minced jalapeno or dried red pepper flakes
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon or lime
1 t. Dijon mustard -- I used creole
1/4 t. cumin

Here's what I did:

Washed the quinoa in a finely gauged sieve, then spread it out on a clean towel to let it dry.

In a pot or skillet with a cover, I sauteed the onions, added the peppers, and then for the last few minutes, added the finely chopped garlic, so it would be softened but not browned.

I turned the pepper and onion mixture into the serving bowl.  And then, to the same skillet, added the dried quinoa and toasted it --- it will begin to turn brown and become aromatic, smelling a little like popcorn, or breakfast cereal.

Then I added the cup of water, covered it with a lid,  and cooked it for 10 minutes, then checked on it, and cooked it for two more minutes until all of the liquid was absorbed.

Meanwhile, I made the delicious dressing of oil, lemon or lime juice, mustard, and cumin, and red pepper flakes.  Separately, I chopped lots of fresh cilantro.  And made small cubes of the paneer cheese.

When the quinoa was done, I added the fresh spinach to the pot, kept the heat on low, and covered it to let the spinach sweat and willt.  I added the pepper and onion mixture to the top of the spinach, and stirred it all together, until the spinach had wilted but was still bright green.

Then, removed it from the heat and stirred in the cilantro and cubed cheese. Then added about half the dressing, and mixed it together, and decided to add the rest.

The dressing is the best part!

B

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cinnamon Scones by Tom

 Cinnamon Scones by Tom

Barbara was cleaning out our pantry, and found a previously opened bag of cinnamon chips that we had purchased when we attended the King Arthur Flour Bread-Making class a while back.  I had used them previously in a triple cinnamon scone recipe that tasted great, but looked quite messy.  I needed to redeem myself and try a different cinnamon scone recipe.  I needed to make a scone that actually looked like a scone after baking!

This is my result.  I found this recipe online in a Food.com article.  I had all of the ingredients on hand and it looked fairly easy to do.  Barbara was off in her studio, so I thought I would surprise her when she got home.  The result did not disappoint.  With coffee and a vanilla icing, these tasted terrific. 

     ---Tom

Cinnamon Scones
(Food.com)

Makes 12, depending on how you cut the dough

The Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), quarter the stick and cut into 1/4" squares
1 cup cinnamon baking chips
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Tom's Icing
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoon half-and-half


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixer with a bread hook, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar.  Add the butter while the mixer is on the lowest speed.  You may need to scrape the edges with a spatula to insure the butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk. Add this mixture to the mixing bowl and fully incorporate.  Stir in the cinnamon chips.  Be careful to not over mix the flour mixture as the finished scone will be tough.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough with your hands only into a circle about 1/2" thick.  Using a pastry blade or knife, cut the dough into the triangular shape of a scone.  If you have spread out your dough sufficiently, you should be able to make 12 scones.

Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet.  I used parchment paper on the cookie sheet, which I think helps reduce any sticking.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes.  Remove from the baking sheet and put on a platter to fully cool.

Meanwhile, make the icing.  In a small bowl combine all of the icing ingredients: confectioners sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and half-and half.  Stir to a drizzling consistency.

With a spoon, drizzle the icing over the cooling scones.

I was very pleased with how these scones turned out.  They held together after baking, and were very good with coffee in the morning.

Redemption!

     ---Tom

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mexican Tamale Pie by Tom


Mexican Tamale Pie by Tom

Barbara recently bought a magazine that featured recipes for two.  I paged through it and found this tamale pie recipe which sounded interesting.  Because David was going to come over for dinner, doubling the recipe was very easy. 

And unlike many recipes, I actually followed this one.  Well almost.  I did make three additions.  The recipe as written is meatless, but we decided that ground pork would add a nice touch and some protein.  I also added ground cumin and ancho chili powder as well.  All three additions added flavor to the dish.  Barbara added sour cream to her dish at the table, and David and I added a chunky salsa.  It all worked and we enjoyed this filling, rich in vegetables, dish.

        ---Tom

Mexican Tamale Pie
(adapted from America's Test Kitchen Best Ever Cooking for Two, 2014)

Serves 4 - cut ingredients in half for 2

The Filling
1 pound ground pork
3 pablano chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, for browning and sautéing
1 can sweet corn kernels (or 2 ears of corn)
2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained and the juice reserved
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
4 ounces shredded jack cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

The Topping
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and make sure your rack is in the center of the oven.
In a 12" oven proof skillet, brown the ground pork over medium-high heat.
Once browned, add the peppers and the zucchini.  Cook these for about 5 minutes.
Next add the shallots, corn and tomatoes.  Cook these for another 6-8 minutes covered.  But do stir frequently to avoid sticking and to get the vegetables soft.
Now make the topping.  Whisk all of the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Add the buttermilk and eggs first, and stir that up.  Next add the cooled melted butter and incorporate it well into the cornbread mixture.
Once fully cooked, your filling should look like this.  Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin and ancho chili powder and cook for another minute or two stirring constantly to get the spices thoroughly mixed.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh cilantro, reserved tomato juice, and jack cheese.  The entire filling mixture will start to take on a creamy texture as the cheese melts.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Dollop the topping mixture on top of the filling and spread as evenly as possible over the top.  Pop the whole thing into the 450 degree oven and bake for 13-15 minutes.  With a toothpick, check to insure the cornbread topping is done.  The toothpick should come out clean. 
The cornbread should be a golden brown when you remove the skillet from the oven.  CAUTION: remember that the handle will be hot...and stay hot for a long time.  So use an oven mitt while removing from the oven and while serving.
 

Because the contents of the skillet had a fair amount of liquid in it when it went into the oven, I was not sure how much would remain after baking.  As a result I served the final product in a bowl.  I probably did not need to as most of the liquid was absorbed while baking.  Never the less. spooning into the bowl worked and kept everything together.

Serve with sour cream or chunky salsa, or neither.  This was a really tasty dish that is a keeper!

      ---Tom

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Museum Meals -- A Traveler's Tip

Tate Modern Scallop Starter

Some of our best meals were in museums during our recent trip to Paris and London. I read about it in one of the travel books --- and now I am passing on the tip.

If you have the time, skip the snack-type restaurants in the museums and take advantage of the full service restaurants.

We are glad we did.  It gave us the break from touring we needed and the food was delicious.
At the top of the Tate Modern in London, there are great views, excellent food and knowledgeable and friendly staff.
My chicken dish at the Tate Modern

We went after the lunch hour rush, around 2 -2:30 and that seemed to be a good time to get good seats and plenty of attention.

In the Musee D'Orsay, an old train station in Paris, the setting was lovely, on the first floor.  They served 2 and 3 course hot meals.
A starter, a main dish, and a dessert, like chocolate creme brulee.

And a coffee before heading out for more sightseeing.

You can take advantage of the restaurants and by-pass the museums, which is good to know, too.

The meals can be pricey but usually the menu is posted outside the restaurant and online for previewing.

In the past, I have frequented the cafes of museums for a place to rest and regroup, but now I will look for their full service restaurants, too.

B

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tom's Special Hamburgers

Tom's Special Hamburger Ingredients

Summer time is great time for grilling hamburgers (or hamburgs as my mother calls them!).  For the July 4th holiday, we decided that hamburgers would be a nice treat to have for dinner. 

I had just read an article in our local paper about making the "perfect hamburger", and that inspired me to do just that.  One of the keys, the article said, is to use 80% lean ground beef.  I had been using the leaner variety, so this would be a change for me. 

Unfortunately the only package with 80% ground beef in our local Wegman's was the family pack, which came in at a hefty eight pounds!  A bit larger than I had desired.

I will give you what I did with the "hefty ground beef package", but adjust your proportions appropriately.

All in all, the hamburgers were delicious and we enjoyed them for several more meals throughout the weekend.

     ---Tom

Hamburgers a la Tom

8 pounds 80% lean ground beef (adjust appropriately for your meal(s))
2 pouches dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup A1 sauce
3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumb
Hamburger buns

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl several hours prior to cooking.  This will allow the dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix to hydrate, as well as the bread crumbs to absorb some moisture.  Cover the bowl and put back into the refrigerator.

30 minutes or so prior to grilling, pull the ground beef mixture out of the refrigerator.

Heat your grill to a medium high temperature.

Form your hamburger patties to an appropriate size.  I used about 2/3 cup of the ground beef mixture.  I rolled the ground beef into a ball in the palms of my hands, and then flattened to "bun size".

Time to grill.  The temptation is to turn the hamburger patties too soon, which will cause them to both stick to the grill as well as to start falling apart.  Another good trick is to wet a paper towel with vegetable oil and rub it over the hot grill grates.  Be careful though that you don't burn yourself.  A quick wipe is all that is needed.

Grill on one side for five minutes.  Time it and don't cheat.  Then flip the burgers over and grill to the "doneness" that you desire.  I grilled mine an additional three minutes, which made the burgers medium.

If you want, add a slice of cheese to each patty and cover the grill for about 30 seconds.  This will allow the cheese to melt but not become runny.

Place a burger on a bun, add whatever accoutrements that you want, and enjoy.


      ---Tom

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pickles! by Sarah

Pickles! by Sarah

I've had the perfect storm of pickle creativity!  An abundance of fresh dill, a curiosity about mason jars, and a life long love for pickles drove me to create a pretty good first try at my own dill beauties.

We are first time members of a CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture) through a great urban farming initiative called the Massachusetts Avenue Project or MAP.

MAP has a farm and a youth development program on the West Side of Buffalo which is an under served area in terms of fresh healthy food availability. 

Every Tuesday we pick up fruits, veggies, herbs, and other treats that have been grown and produced here in the city.  A few weeks ago fresh dill graced our share two weeks in a row and naturally cried out for a pickle solution!

Being an inexperienced pickler I decided quick pickles or refrigerator pickles should be the easiest process and require the fewest tools for success.   

I read an article last year about historic blue and green mason jars going back into production last year so a quick visit to Target lead to some lovely little blue mason jars to hold hold the pickles.  With the addition of some english cucumbers and onions from Wegmans, we were ready to begin the experiment.

Armed with jars, ingredients, and a recipe from Epicurious the pickling began.  I used a quarter inch slicer on the food processor to slice the cucumber for consistency and of course time savings.   I also used rice vinegar for a milder flavor as suggested in the recipe.  

Being my father's daughter, I, of course, tweaked the recipe just a bit by adding garlic ramps from our CSA for a mild garlic flavor and halved the sugar to tone down the sweetness.

Overall the recipe was simple, the flavor nice and dilly, and the opportunity to try a new food adventure was a success!  We used them all weekend during the Fourth of July on burgers, sandwiches, and as a side.

Will definitely tackle these tasty pickles when fresh cucumbers come into season in Western New York!  Enjoy!

Be sure to check out the follow links for more information on MAP and Epicurious's recipe information.

Massachucetts Avenue Project

Slightly sweet dill refrigerator pickles


                ---Sarah