Sunday, November 30, 2008

Things to do with leftover turkey

Ronda hasn't posted in a while because she has a new puppy occupying her attention right now. Yes, I'm jealous. No, my dogs are not.

This weekend it's rained and rained and rained some more. It's not especially cold. It got up to almost 70 today. I have all this leftover turkey, and it's not exactly soup weather. But, we did go for a walk right as it was turning dark, and it was damp and was getting down in the low 60s by the time we got home, so I thought "Well... what can I do with leftover turkey that isn't a hot weather dish, but also isn't a freezing cold outside dish either?"

Turkey Hash, of course.



I know. It's not real pretty. But it was tasty and hot and satisfying. Lots of vegetables, lots of diced, leftover turkey, a glass or two of wine, and the conversation turned to my fantasy of opening a breakfast place that served something besides oily, slippery eggs, underdone hashbrowns, greasy bacon, "coffee" you can read the paper through, and Wonder® Bread toast with fake butter.


We had a wonderful breakfast place when we lived in Atlanta, Decatur, actually. It's one of the three things I miss about living there. The Crescent Moon served hashes, whole grain muffins, really good french toast, excellent coffee... it was a proper breakfast. Which is what I would name my place if it ever came to fruition. "A Proper Breakfast". But, I live in Wilmington, NC. And the tall-truck driving people prefer the greasy spoons and IHOP to someplace they can get a decent flannel hash and an almond-cherry whole grain muffin. I know. I sound all granola. I'm not. I like a hearty breakfast as much as anyone. But here, they're all Waffle House knock-offs and are usually oily and underdone with weak coffee.

But I'm obviously not going to open my own place. I think the audience here at 305 is a lot more positive and forgiving than the general public would be anyway. And I can always cop the "Well, you didn't PAY for it!" here now.

Tonight's hash was:

4 Tbs. olive oil
1 small sweet potato - cut into chunks
1 red potato - cut into chunks
2 strips bacon
1 small onion - chopped
1/2 cup leftover turkey - diced
2 Tbs. rosemary - chopped
1/2 red bell pepper - chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese - grated
1 Tbs. butter
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

I boiled the sweet and red potato in a pot of salted water just long enough to get them tender. Then I drained them and set them aside. Meanwhile, I cooked the bacon in a skillet on medium heat. Then I removed the bacon when it was done and chopped it up, and added the chopped onion to the skillet. I sauteed that until it was done, then added 2 Tbs. of olive oil, then the potato and sweet potato, some kosher salt and pepper. Then I tossed in the red bell pepper, the rosemary, and the turkey. I drizzled that with the remaining olive oil, gave it a good stir to coat everything, then put a cast-iron bacon press on the mixture just to mash it down and help it brown. You wouldn't have to do that part. Just mash it a few times with a spatula.

In another small skillet, I melted the butter on medium heat and fried an egg, and added salt and pepper.

When the hash was pretty browned after a couple of bottom scrapings and flippings, I topped it on each plate with some grated cheddar cheese, and a fried egg. It would be a great breakfast for an active day, a good lunch, or, like tonight, a hearty dinner for a damp evening.

Pootie was my only audience tonight, and he dug it. Which is what led to our aforementioned conversation. It's a nice dream, but I know I don't want to work that hard.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post-Thanksgiving Kitchen Carnage

Holeee cow. I always forget what a mess Thanksgiving is. Pootie cleaned up most of the wreckage last night while we played Turbo Cranium (or whatever it was) but there's still a good bit to tackle this morning. I'm trying to get motivated to go clean it up. See how pretty it was before everyone arrived?



Thanksgiving menu was:


King's Arms Tavern Ham Relish
King's Arms Tavern Corn Relish
King's Arms Tavern Three Bean Relish
Proseco


Turkey

Dressing


Roasted Acorn Squash (P's mom)


Cranberry sauce (P's mom)


Rolls that I got a little too crispy in the oven (P's mom)


Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie (Pootie - it took him all day to make)


Plum Cake

I cooked the turkey in the roasting pan on the gas grill and it turned out just fine and kept the oven free for everything else throughout the day. We have tons left over, which we will distribute to everyone today. If we don't, we'll be eating turkey until New Year's Eve.


After dinner, we played Cranium, as I mentioned. I was on a team with my father-in-law and my nephew Benjamin. We got totally skunked. Diane and Craig were on a team and came in a close second behind my mother-in-law and Pootie. They totally dominated. Our performance was pretty pitiful, so it's looking like next time we're going to have to resort to dirty low-down cheating.

I suppose I've stalled as long as I can. Time to tackle the kitchen! Then I need to start working on my husband about when we can go get a Christmas tree! Whoo hoo!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving

The house is clean, the table is set, two desserts are cooling, the dressing is ready, the turkey is on the grill, the apps are finished and I am enjoying my favorite time - the quiet right before the party starts.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to seeing everyone, and we'll have a wonderful meal, and a good time. But for an introvert like me, I have to confess that there's that moment of fear right as the guests pull up in the driveway that instinctively makes me want to "turn off the lights!" "Hide! Hide! SHHHHHHhhhhh!" Hide!". If I have some quiet time to myself to look around, sigh, and appreciate the fact that there aren't huge tubleweeds of dog hair rolling across the floor, I do better.

So now I'm sipping a nice glass of chardonnay, listening to some Mark Knopfler, and soaking in the smells and sights of the Thanksgiving dinner before the relatives create a welcome bustle and happy noise.

Ps mother and I have split Thanksgiving dinner for years, with me hosting and doing the appetizers, bird and dressing and desserts, and her doing the rolls, a vegetable, and the cranberry sauce. It works well for us. The main meal is pretty much the same every year. A big turkey, this year I'm roasting it on the gas grill to free up the oven, my grandmother's dressing, Mrs. Reids wonderful rolls and cranberry sauce. She mixes up the vegetable every year, and I do a different app and dessert every year.

This year, I wanted to do some relishes out of my Colonial Williamsburg cookbook. We had a short vacation there years and years ago with the Reids and we ate at the King's Arms Tavern. The relishes they served were wonderful - a corn relish, a three bean salad, and a ham relish. I've done them all and think they turned out pretty well. We'll see.

Time to go pull things together. It's 5:00 and everyone should arrive around 5:30. More later! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stomach Ailments

Sadly, Cafe' 305 is having to take a break from anything blog-worthy. My best patron, Pootie, has come down with what is apparently an acute case of gastritis (no fault of mine). So we're eating "sick food" for the next couple of weeks, excluding Thanksgiving, which of course, I'll post about. Tonight's dinner is grilled chicken and wild rice, which I just can't get too excited about photographing and posting here. Whee. Look everyone. A grilled chicken breast and a little mound of Uncle Ben's.

Except I don't use the fast cook kind.
Hey. The commercial says the best restaurants use Uncle Ben's!
So anyone out there who has any suggestions for mild, tummy-friendly dinners, I'm all ears. Post your suggestions so that poor old Pootie doesn't have to eat bullion and lime Jell-O all week.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Black Bean Soup and Spades with Carol and David



Carol and David are our original spades partners. They're good, and we love to play cards with them. Since they live in Raleigh and part-time in St. James, we don't get to see them enough, and we had a devil of a time getting this dinner on the calendar, with everyone's schedules. Needless to say, we were looking forward to it.

Carol has recently changed her diet to improve her lipid profile, and has pretty much gone vegan. This presented an enormous challenge for my meat and cheese-centric cooking universe. Thank god for beans! Here's dinner:

Sun-dried tomato and white bean dip with crostini
Almonds

Spicy black bean and tomato soup

Foccacia

Sopapillas

There were no complaints, and Carol asked for the bean dip recipe, so I suppose it was OK. David mentioned that he was worried I'd serve them some yuckky vegetarian dish, and was pleased that I didn't. He also said that it was fine to serve him a steak next time and let Carol fend for herself.

Before dinner, we played a good game of spades, and Carol and I won. (Pootie just informed me that he lost every game he played yesterday.) After dinner, they taught us how to play Euchre, for future reference, and we taught Carol how to play Lost Cities. (I helped her and she beat Phillip. Poor Pootie.)

The evening ended way too soon. They could have stayed another few hours and we'd have been happy. We're hoping it doesn't take as long to get the next dinner and rematch scheduled.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meatloaf and Cards with the Reids

OK, shoot me. I didn't take pictures last night. My meatloaf did look better than this, though. At least it wasn't fat and sweaty. And I didn't dress it in a tux shirt.

No, MeatLoaf did not come to our house and have dinner and play cards with Phillip's parents. Although now that he's old like the rest of us, he probably would have been pretty well behaved.



Pootie would have made him sing Paradise by the Dashboard Light, though, and I'd have had to ask him to leave.
You know, I'd probably get sued if anyone ever read this thing.

Last night was cold! I loved it! It never got above 46 degrees yesterday, and there were reports of snow flurries around town. The dogs were thrilled. They spent a lot of time sitting outside on the back deck, basking in the Icelandic temperatures. So I figured it's cold, and we're having a family meal, what's more appropriate than meatloaf? Besides, the last time we went out for dinner at the Copper Penny, Mr. Reid tried to order it, and they were out. So I decided to make it up to him. And then just decided to pretty much go retro for the rest of the meal as well.


Iceberg Lettuce Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing and Bacon


Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy


Mashed Potatoes (of course!)


Homemade Bread




Apple Turnovers with Vanilla Ice Cream



After dinner, we played spades. (That's me, with the cigar.) Mr. Reid and I got set a couple of times and were WAY behind at one point. I got smacked down a couple of times by my mother-in-law for table talk (ahem) but we managed to pull out of the hole toward the end of the game and only lost by about 16 points. Not bad! If I'd been allowed more table talk, we could have won. I need to work on secret signals with my father-in-law for the next game, instead of "I'm about to have to play a spade! Cover me!" A little obvious? Probably. We'll work on that for next time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mushroom Soup, Spinach Salad and Bread with us




Just us tonight. Shhh... Pootie is doing the dishes and I've sneaked off to write the blog. (This was during a beach break on our paddling trip yesterday morning with Virginia and Curry. Those are spray skirts for kayaks, not a fashion statement.)








It's getting cold outside, and supposed to stay that way all week. I love cold weather, I really do. Especially for cooking. I can be perfectly happy with a nice hot soup and a salad this time of year, which is exactly what we had tonight.







Mushroom Soup


Spinach Salad


Fresh Baked Bread





I think the bread was Pootie's favorite part. I baked a loaf of plain white and a loaf of cinnamon walnut for us to have with our coffee in the morning. Baking bread always smells so good. Toss a little cinnamon in the mix and it's heaven in the house. It was coming out of the oven just about the time it got dark outside - talk about soothing.



So now that we've had our dinner, we're headed out in the cold to go see Robert at Great Outdoor Provision so that Pootie can finalize his Christmas list. We should come back with a detailed description of everything he needs for kayaking. It's a long list. He'd better be good. Santa is SO watching him like a hawk.





Roasted Chicken with Robert and Melissa


Well, while Ronda was laid up with her back and dreaming of mashed potatoes, we were laid up with a stomach bug. I was unfortunate enough to get hit with it right at the end of dinner Friday night with Jack and Beth. Talk about an abrupt ending to a party... Jack says it was just my lame excuse to get out of playing cards because I looked at my hand and knew there was no way I was going to win. Phillip was polite enough to wait until 4:00 AM to get sick, so that it didn't inconvenience our guests. It was a lovely night, let me tell you. I don't want to talk anymore about dinner Friday night, since it brings back rather unpleasant memories, and Saturday was spent mostly sleeping. We'd recovered pretty well by Saturday night, though, and managed to get out to a concert in the evening.

Sunday we were pretty well mended, which was fortunate, since we had an early morning kayak trip planned with Virginia and Curry and of course, dinner with Robert and Melissa in the evening. (You were wondering when I was going to finally get to that, weren't you?)



Robert was our kayak instructor, and Melissa is his lovely wifelike girlfriend. She is a metal artist - check it out. I cooked a stomach-friendly meal for us, but fortunately, we were fine enough that it didn't need to be plain chicken and rice.


Roasted Pesto Chicken

Sliced Garlic Baked Potatoes

Green Beans


Mocha Filled Chocolate Roll



For the chicken, I just rubbed pesto sauce under the skin and roasted it on the grill and served it with a pesto-cream sauce on the side. The potatoes were a little fussy, but I liked the results. I cut them in half lengthwise, then sliced them almost all the way through and slipped thinly sliced garlic between the slices, then drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and baked them at 400 for about 45 minutes. They were nice and crispy on the outside and bottom and tender with roasted garlic flavor on the inside. Mmm!

We spent a lot of time talking about kayaking, and P. of course wanted to talk about gear, since Christmas is coming (he's working on his list). We have a date with Robert tonight to talk about his list at Great Outdoor Provision Co. Lordy, lordy... who knew you could buy so much stuff for a little 15 foot boat? Well, 'tis the season, almost.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mashed Potatoes


I've been laid up the last few days on an ice pack and made a startling discovery: TV during the day is extremely limited. There are lots of shows telling you how many folks have abandoned their children, sued their in-laws or just how bad the new first ladies fashion blunders are. And then there is FoodTV. They have several ladies showing lots of cleavage (no, not cleavers, cleavage), a chef who is saving 6 inner city youth, another fixing dinner impossible while riding a motorcycle and catering for a James Beard luncheon from a hot dog cart and then there was Tyler.

Tyler hooked me with the ultimate mashed potatoes. I thought I'd seen all the ways to do it, but he showed me a new way to make mashed potatoes. Then, after fantasizing for a few hours about those potatoes (hey, I've been laid up with not much else to do and my menfolk have been less than accommodating about feeding me) I had to try it. I sent hubby off for Yukon Golds and got ready to try this new method out. Oh, yeah, we also had grilled steaks with roasted broccoli and cauliflower. (Andie's already lavished praise on roasted broccoli so I'll just second her opinion.) But the mashed potatoes were the star.

Start off with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of milk, sprigs of thyme, 2 garlic cloves and a bay leaf. Add 6 to 8 yukon gold potatoes, quartered (unpeeled). (Nope, no salt and pepper, not yet.) Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.

Using a potato masher, mash potatoes adding about a cup of the cooking liquid (minus the thyme and bayleaf) with a couple of tablespoons of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Taste for the salt as the cooking method gives several layers of flavor and it doesn't need much.

They come out creamy and flavorful. The potatoes have a rich texture, very different than when you cook them in water, and they are smooth yet still a bit rustic since you are leaving the skin on and using the masher instead of a ricer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spice-Rubbed Tilapia with Mango Salsa



ISN'T that BEAUTIFUL??? Have I mentioned that I love my new camera? Most of the time, I don't even have to try very hard with it. It makes me want to throw my old camera out into traffic. No, I'm not as good as Scott Phillips (see http://www.finecooking.com/). But I'm conveying the dish, I think.


Tonight, it's cloudy, muggy, and in the 70s. Serious bummer for me, who's been waiting for fall temps since June. Dammit! I'm uncomfortably warm, have closed the windows, and have the A/C set. We've been eating pretty heavy food for the past few nights anyway, which you've no doubt noticed. ("No WONDER they're plumpish!", you've thought.) Well, tonight was relatively light.


I rubbed a couple of tilapia filets with a mixture of cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper, made some black beans, and did up a salsa of chopped mango, some sauteed onion (I simply can't eat raw onion, purple or otherwise), lime juice, some lime zest and chopped cilantro. It was light and refreshing. OK, are you as sick of hearing that as I am? If you read a lot of food reviews, you see a lot of the same descriptions used over and over. From "zesty lime fish" to "light jell-o desserts". It gets boring after a while. But seriously, how many adjectives are there to describe how food tastes? Dinner. Was. Good. That's about the most you can say about it, really. And we needed a night of "lighter" fare.


Tomorrow night, Jack and Beth are coming over for dinner and a Spades rematch. It was Jack's birthday yesterday, so perhaps you'd think "oh, you should let him win!". Well, you would be WRONG!! Beth and I will be out for blood! Muaaahahhhahaaaahaaaaaaa!


Man, I hope we win now that I've said that. Jack's kind of a card shark, and pretty skilled, when you come right down to it.

White Bean and Chicken Soup with Derek

This is Derek, getting a little free advertising in while he eats his soup. He's been in CA working the past couple of weeks, and is home, so we took the opportunity to catch up.

Gourgeres
Spinach and Mushroom Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
White Bean and Chicken Soup
Rosemary Bread
It was a good weeknight supper that I had no trouble putting together when I finished working. The soup is simple - some chopped veggies, garlic, chicken, chicken stock and white beans. I used canned, since I didn't think far enough ahead to soak the dried ones. Pretty typical, since these days I don't usually decide what I'm cooking for dinner until 4:30 or later.
It was a coolish evening, so the soup was a good call. Now it's gotten all warm again - up to 70ish and muggy and rainy, so we'll probably do something lighter for dinner tonight. But I don't have to start thinking about that yet. It's only lunchtime!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dinner Several Nights Ago

Look. Tonight just wasn't all that great. It was this pasta mish mash that was fine for fortification, but not what you'd call "good". So here's a rerun that I didn't post about a week ago.


Chicken Coconut Soup (Thome Kha Gai)


Crab Purses

Keep your crab purse comments to yourself. No, THESE crabs obviously don't carry Prada. I know. I'm not very good at beautiful food. They're lifeless blobs of brown. And I suspect that they might have made Pootie sick, since the crab was tinned and a little on the (ahem) older side. But the soup was excellent. Fortunately, we had some phenergan left from my surgery last December. Shut up. I didn't get sick, so it couldn't have been the food.

The soup, which is one of my favorites, is pretty simple. Lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, mushrooms chicken, coconut milk... it's actually pretty wholesome, and great for a cool night. Look. Here's the thing. We have so few of those "cool nights" that I land on those suckers like a duck on a junebug with the soups and stews and other hearty cold weather fare. Most of the year, we're looking at evening temps too high to contemplate much except lime-sauced fish, shrimp or chicken and some greens. You'd think we'd be thinner, actually...

But I do love this soup. It's simple to make, and really tasty. You don't have to do the scary crab blobs with them. It would be fine by itself. Here:

2 stalks fresh lemongrass (I do grow my own. Down here it's not that hard.)
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice (And if you're already juicing them for margaritas, then easy! Yay!)
2 Tbs. fish sauce (nam pla) (Is it me, or does that stuff stink?)
2 scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and very thinly sliced crosswise
6 fresh or frozen wild lime leaves (also known as kaffir lime leaves), torn or cut into quarters
10 thin slices galangal (the hell?), fresh, frozen, or dried (or 10 to 12 thin slices fresh unpeeled ginger) (10 to 12) (Clearly, I used the ginger.)
8 fresh hot red and green Thai chiles, stemmed and lightly pressed with the side of a knife (or 3 or 4 serranos, thinly sliced) for garnish (optional) (8 to 10) (For us, ONE thai chile. Who can tolerate that heat? Not me!)
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 boneless chicken breast half (about 6 ounces), cut into bite-size chunks or sliced across the grain into strips (I actually use a couple of thighs. I think the meat is better and more flavorful.)
1/4 lb. white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, and thinly sliced to yield 1 cup
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (shake the can before opening it) (14 oz.)
1 can low-salt chicken broth or 1-3/4 cups water (14 oz.)


1. Trim away and discard the root end and the top 3 inches of each stalk of lemongrass, along with any brittle leaves. Pound each stalk lightly with the spine of a cleaver or an unopened can. Cut each stalk crosswise into 2-inch lengths and set aside.
2. In a large serving bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, scallions, and half of the wild lime leaves. Set the bowl by the stove, along with small dishes containing the galangal, lemongrass, and remaining lime leaves; the chiles (if using), the chopped cilantro; and the sliced chicken and mushrooms.
3. In a medium saucepan, commbine the coconut milk and broth. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Add the chicken and mushrooms. Return to a gentle boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors and cook the chicken.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the hot soup over the seasonings in the serving bowl, and stir well. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve hot. Pass around the chiles for those who want them. (Good lord. Is Satan eating dinner with you?)


I love this soup and will make it again as soon as P. forgets his phenergan evening...

Dinner Last Night - Chili with Sara, Marc and Clay

No breathtaking pictures of the food from last night, sorry. Oh, come on. You people know what chili looks like. It's not especially photogenic anyway. Here was the menu:

Chips and Salsa (yeah, baby! I went all out!)

Chili with assorted toppings

Premium Saltines (you betcha!)

Onion, Smoked Gouda and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

White Chocolate Brownies and (leftover) Mocha Chocolate Cake with Rum Cream Filling


Clay vetoed the chili. Not his favorite. I think he ate the Goldfish, though. And maybe some cheese. The adults seemed to like their chili just fine. Phillip provided his high proof margaritas (none of that sissy sweet and sour mix for us) and we caught up in between playing hide and seek with Clay.

Around 9:00 or so, Clay announced "I've had enough of this! Time to go!" And there you have it, folks. The refreshing honesty of a four-year-old who has heard enough talk about health insurance, home repair, and taxes.

After they left, P. and I were cleaning up, and I was putting away the chili into smaller bags so that we can eat it for the next six years. (I made enough to feed a small village. No, I have no idea why.) Baggies don't like to stand up when you're ladeling chili into them. Tump! All OVER the floor, my pants, my shoes, the front of the stove, the front of the cabinets... we'll probably find some on the ceiling before it's all over. WHAT a disaster! My shoes are being soaked in Shout as we speak. Good lord.

Tonight I'm going to cook something that is spill-proof and smells nothing like chili.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Last Night's Dinner - Lamb with Sara




It was supposed to be Lamb with Sara and Eric. But Eric ran a half-marathon earlier Sunday, and was toast when he was done. Sorry, dude! We missed you! But we're happy that Sara came. Pootie is always happy to have the women all to himself. And she brought some most excellent wine! (Thanks!!)


Gourgeres


Spinach Salad with Dried Cherries and Warm Goat Cheese


Grilled Rosemary and Garlic Lamb


Crispy Baby White Potatoes


Mocha Layer Cake with Chocolate Rum Cream Filling


We had gourgeres on the patio with a really lovely bottle of Chardonnay Sara brought. It was delicious. I love a buttery, creamy chard. The salad is one of my favorites - the goat cheese is cut into rounds, dipped in egg, then rolled in sliced almonds and baked until the almonds are browned and the cheese is soft. So good with the dried cherries and tart spinach. The lamb I just salted, peppered, spread with some dijon mustard, then pressed on a mixture of bread crumbs, chopped rosemary and garlic. The potatoes were boiled, then pressed to smash in a towel, then drizzled with olive oil and roasted until crisp.
The dessert was fabulous. I'll definitely make that one again. Very rich, but so good. A spongy chocolate cake drizzled with rum syrup, filled with basically a rum chocolate mousse and then glazed with chocolate. I didn't get a picture. Sorry. It's a pretty cake, though. It will make a nice one for the holidays.
An excellent evening!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pale Ale Beef Stew




It was a dark and stormy night.
Ok, not really, but a cold wind did blow in last night and kept things on the cool side today. Taking advantage of perfect stew weather, I went for it. A pale ale stew, simmered all day in the slow cooker. Tantalizing us with those scrumptious smells. Not as exciting as racing kayaks, but the best I could do.


The thing to remember about slow cookers is that if you dump the food in to cook, you'll end up with a not very flavorful boiled mush. To layer the flavors I started by browning the seasoned beef (a cut up chuck roast) before putting it in my 'crockpot'. The onions and carrots also hit a hot skillet for just a quick bit of color, then I deglazed the pan with the pale ale. If I was doing this stew on the stove I'd use 2 bottles, but in a slow cooker you only need one as less is lost in evaporation. Veggies that don't take as long are added at the end, such as red peppers or cauliflower. Potatoes would go in at the beginning, but tonight I opted to serve the stew over baked potatoes.

Of course, you can't serve stew without rolls to sop up the broth. And chocolate cake for dessert. Don't look too close at the ganash, it shows definite signs of over beating. That's what happens when you try to use a mixer and talk on the phone at the same time. Still tasted good though, and that is all that matters.




Pale Ale Beef Stew
Potato Rolls
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Post Kayak Race Roasted Chicken



Roasted Chicken with Rosemary Pan Sauce

Blue Cheese Potato Gratin

Green Beans Almondine


We "raced" today. No, we didn't win. Someone has to be last, and nip the heels of the herd. This shot pretty much sums it up. That's everyone stretching out in front of us. We were bringing up the rear. Yes! That was us! We played safety crew and made sure no one fell out and needed to be rescued! Luckily, no one did. ONE of us was pretty crabby about being last (not me) but fortunately, we got some loot from the drawings. Let's see... we got a lovely wooden paddle, a GC for a Southport tour, three T-shirts, and a pair of Costa del Mar sunglasses. So we can't really complain much. And ONE of us had a good time.


So after coming home and cleaning up, I figured a nice roasted chicken with a rich poato gratin was in order. I got lots of "mmmmmMMMMMmmmmssss" from tonight's dinner.



The potato gratin was sliced potatoes layered with blue cheese and cream. The chicken was just roasted with salt, pepper and lemon. I made a sauce out of the chicken drippings, some white wine, a sauteed shallot, some chopped fresh rosemary, and a little cream and chicken stock. It was a tasty, wholesome dinner and we were both pretty happy to have it.

We had a gorgeous day - temps in the mid 70s, a stiff breeze, and a mostly blue sky. It was (for one of us) a great day, and now we're nicely fed and justifiably tired (paddling against a strong incoming tide AND 15 knot winds isn't all that easy). Everything is cleaned up and we're thinking in terms of a nice, soft bed. This is one of those days when you earn a good dinner and a good night's sleep.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tomato Soup with Basil Whipped Cream

One of hubby's favorite meals as a child was grilled cheese and tomato soup. This is the grown up version.





Tomato Soup with Basil Whipped Cream

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion -- diced
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
3 cans diced tomatoes -- fire roasted (15 oz cans)
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh basil -- chopped
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup fresh basil -- chopped



Scald whipping cream then pour over the 1/4 cup of basil. Chill until ready to whip.

In a large skillet saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, stock and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes.

Add basil, then puree in batches in a blender (or with a stick blender in the pan) until smooth.

Remove basil from whipping cream, whip until soft peaks. Serve soup with a dallop of the basil whipped cream and Parmesan Toast.