Fire & Brimstone week

Early in the week, I started off with some “mummy wrapped” sausage patties. I found this silly recipe on one of those cooking magazines with a Halloween theme and couldn’t resist making them for Paul’s breakfast.

Midweek, with the fires still high and smoke and smell string, I stayed in as much as possible and tossed in a batch of Banana Bread; one to trade with a pal and one to save for us. For our version, I tried a recipe from my roommate’s grandmom of peanut butter frosting and tucked in a few Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups for fun.

With the rest of a busy week on deck, between some planning for two presentations and a “TED” style talk at Tech Inclusion this week, transitions in my own life and workplace and the dramatic unfolding of the devastation North of San Francisco from fires. I have been stockpiling my posts for tonight.

Anginette’s have been on my mind and I wanted to get a test batch up and out. Especially after a pal summed it up so nice on Friday; about it being time for cookies.  So Friday night I mixed up the batter for a batch of old-school anise #anginettes.  Then as the smoke settled back on Saturday, I gave them a quick 10 min bake to cool before glazing them in several colors and flavors. Pickled Avocados. I am gonna blame Ryan Knight’s mom on this today. Tried hers several weeks ago and was amazed. So put up a jar to Sunday dinner.

On Saturday I tossed up some quick Pickled Avocados. I am gonna blame my friend Ryan’s mom on. I tried hers several weeks ago and was amazed at the taste. So put up a jar to Sunday dinner.

😋 Don’t judge till you have tried them.  Note: it’s a perfect solution when you have several not quite ripe enough to eat and not sure you will get to them later in the week.

 

 

Princess Cake meets the bookclub boys with some help from a few friends

For the September Bookclub, we read; Spilled Milk. A story based on the real-life experiences of surviving child abuse, offered challenges for theme food. Especially so as not to also minimize the theme and subject matter.

After some thought, I latched onto a moment in the story where she gets to go shopping and while initially offered a chance at a new doll, she instead opts for a journal. A place to put her feelings and thoughts inside while keeping the outside what others expected of her.

I decided to attempt a retro “Princess Cake”, with a marshmallow fondant, as the dress base for the “pretty outside” covering what the story ultimately illustrates is the more complex and rich inner core. In this case, a cherry–almond nut cake. Ok now shopping for this, I did notice that my bags looked like I had 10-year-old girls at home… but I digress

The recipe I used was an adapted version but you can see a similar one here in the New England Today Blog from Yankee Magazine the only change I made was using almonds and I tend to like dark cherries, so I used the canned version instead of the super sweet maraschino ones they recommend.

As a backup, because every Princess needs a “plan B” I also made a Hot Milk Cake which was from my Mom’s Cookbook, as I had never made this recipe before I wasn’t sure of how it would taste initially. But after some sneaking and testing of the bottom – I found I liked the flavor as well, and while my initial concern was it was underdone – in the end – it had a good texture and could have come out a bit earlier. Since it was already made, it got gussied up this morning to take to our pals “10 year anniversary of meeting” brunch. It also being Castro Street Fair – I figured some pink sugar glitter over a simple milk & sugar glaze with lemon zest would do the job.

In the advent that she didn’t come out, I also knocked out one of my favorite adapted recipes from Martha Stewart for a quick Cheddar Bread. Today’s version had two other kinds of diced cheese and was laced with ground pepper, garlic powder, and herbs to give it a nice savory taste with brunch. topped with some honey-herbed butter – we were packed and ready to walk down to the Castro!

 

 

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So much for a day off…

So we all love a day off. I know next week is going to be a bear of a week with writing – but I didn’t think today we be this full. It was the annual prep and cook day for Paul’s office picnic tomorrow. Thank goodness for Shadow helping today! (Rumor has it, I’m grill master too tomorrow).

Day “to do”

For our “bring” entree, a simple Chicken & Veggie egg bake with a caramelized onion bbq chutney. Then because the vegetables looked so good, some “quick pickled veggies”, a Fennel, Kale and Orange salad and for our  “bake off” entry; while not the more elaborate Chocolate Cherry Bread I mentioned in the past  this is an easier, no knead variation I made earlier in the week, got repurposed into a Bread Pudding with an orange zest cream cheese topping.

Then we needed to prep a quick Pear Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Syrup for the other Paul’s birthday picnic that happens right after my Paul’s work one.

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Monday Night “No Fry” Fried Egg Pizza

Some nights I just don’t have it in me to want to cook a full out meal. So it becomes one of those “discussions”. Eat out or forage. Luckily Paul likes or rather “loves” his eggs. So thats pretty much an easy fix for him. On the down side, our house we rent, doesnt have the best air flow inthe kitchen – so some cooking smells tend to linger. Especially foods that get fried.

So this is an adapted “fried egg” meal two ways; one straight forward and one nestled on a cornmeal pizza crust ( you can use any premade or even fresh dough as well).

Its really a pretty basic recipe and so easy – I didnt even take a lot of pre-prep images – so you are stuck with just the end results.

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No fry, "fried egg pizza"; Crust Optional

A surprisingly easy way to make eggs, especially for those of us who have poor ventilation in the kitchen, but still want that effect of fried eggs. the addtional of a pizza crust, also means no extra toast.

Course Breakfast, Brunch, Eggs, Entree
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author CyberGuy

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Eggs Depends on your preference.
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Chopped vegetables and meats This is the perfect dish for leftovers
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Chopped cheeses Use what ever you have
  • 2-3 tsp Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Spray cooking spray I use either olive oil or regular style
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Chopped Fresh Herbs Optional or if on hand
  • 1/2 tsp Dried or fresh parsley or cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, use it and put it in the oven now to heat

  2. Using a small oven proof skillet (remember the handle will be in the overn so have mitts ready or a silecone handle)

  3. Spray the skillet bottom and sides, liberally with cooking spray (I tend to use the olive oil version, but any will do)

  4. Crack two to three eggs into the cold, sprayed skillet

  5. Gently top with sliced ham, vegetables, cubes of cheese, dried herbs etc. But try to leave the tops of the yolks free.

  6. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese all over, including the yolks.

  7. Add salt & pepper to taste

  8. Move the setting on the oven to broil, high setting.

  9. Place the skillet on center of the top rack.  Cook for 6 to 10 minutes depending on how you like your eggs. At about five (5) minutes, remove the pan and gently tap the side of it against your palm to loosen the eggs from the bottom of the pan.

  10. When the eggs are done and the Parmesan cheese is browned, remove from the oven, slide onto a warm plate.

    Top with Saracha or Tabasco sauce, any fresh herbs and you're good to go 

How to make the version with a crust;

  1. Use a pre-baked, small personal size pizza  (fresh dough or premade corn meal ones, even bobali's) place on a pizza stone (or on foil right on the rack) in a preheated oven at 425 for 10 min.

  2. Remove the pizza stone and crust from the oven.  Top with a thin layer of flavored cream cheese spread (I use the cream cheese and chive spread).

  3. Turn on the broiler sitting on the oven to high

  4. Now it plays out the same as above; add assorted sliced/chopped meats vegetables and addtional cheese. Crack an egg or two in the center of the crust (they will shift a bit). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Return "pizza" to the oven, on the top rack for 6 - 8 min (or the eggs are to your taste)

    When the eggs are done and the Parmesan cheese lightly browned remove from the oven, slide onto the plate.

    Top with Saracha or Tabasco sauce, any fresh herbs and you're good to go

Lemons & Artichokes; now that’s a Sunday. 

Dino chillen

Dino “chillen” in the Kitchen. Daddy’s little “hoover”

Meat stuffed Artichokes was on the menu last Sunday. While often a family holiday treat growing up. Living in the Bay Area gives me access to them much easier; But mostly this weekend, it was because my pal David and I stopped by some produce stands, on the way back from Santa Cruz and the artichokes looked so good. So went with the basic catch all recipe I use these days. Of course, it also being a warm weekend that meant I had a constant companion in the kitchen to help me cook and clean up the floor. So since it isn’t  my fault the weather shifted. I say so; buck up and stay out of the kitchen while these little babies simmer.

So lots of versions exist online both with and with out stuffing. Many restaurants also offer them grilled with a dip or stuffed with grated cheese and toasted bread crumbs (nice but sorta wimpy to me).

For me  – I always go back to the way we always had them growing up. A mix of ground meat (I like to use a mix of beef and sausage), parsley, the peeled and diced stems of the artichoke stalks (when cooked they get tender), seasoned bread crumbs, grated cheese, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, then the rest of the flavors change based on mood or season or whats available. Trim the tops of the choke so it’s flat at the top and clip the tips of the outer leaves. Spread the leaves a bit to make pockets for the meat. Lightly salt & pepper the insides of the leaves  (optional – you can also use any flavored seasoning mix you prefer). Then stuff the meat into as many crooks and crannies as you can and top with more meat. In a large pot, with a few inches of cold water. Place the chokes in and simmer until leaves pull out easily and meat is done. Cooke time is 60 -90 min (depends on size) covered. I included a formal recipe version below. What to eat with them? Well in our hours they were always a sort of add on to a big mean. A combo side and meat dish meet vegetable. But in the summer or warm weather months – it pairs great with a salad. Just have plenty of napkins. They can get messy to eat.

For those of new to artichokes – I can across this little guy showing folks how to do it!

 

Then for a treat,  later Sunday afternoon and for Monday’s Breakfast was a new variation on boxed lemon poppyseed loaf. This is your standard box mix with a few variations to amp up the flavor profile. Once I get it perfected I will share.

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Meat Stuffed Artichokes

This is a variation of a version I grew up eating. In our house, we always stuffed them with a ground meat mixture.

Course Appetizer, Brunch, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author CyberGuy

Ingredients

  • 4 Artichokes They should feel firm and heavy. I tend to like ones that are around the size of a softball over smaller ones.
  • 1 lb Ground beef more lean than not.
  • 1 lb Bulk italian sausage (no casing) seasoned pork also works well.
  • 1/2 Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parsley (chopped) Dried is fine but reduce to 1/4 cup
  • 1 cup Seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder Optional
  • 1 Egg For use as a binder
  • Red Pepper flakes I generally use about a 1/2 teaspoon in the mix and some sprinkled on top at the end
  • Onions (diced) Optional
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Herbs and spices as needed This part is all about your tastes and pleasures.

Instructions

  1. Trim the tops of each artichoke so it is flat at the top and clip the tips of the outer leaves. 

  2. Spread the leaves a bit to make pockets. 

  3. Salt and pepper the insides of the leaves lightly (optional). 

  4. Then stuff the meat mixture into as many crooks and crannies as you can and top with more meat.

  5. In a large pot, with a few inches of cold water. Place the artichokes in, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt

  6. Cover and simmer until leaves pull out easily and meat is done approximately 60 - 90 mins. (Some recipes on line combine two cooking methods and steam the artichokes first then stuff and bake.)

  7. To serve; place in a warm, large bowl or plate with a small dish for the used leaves. 

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July 4th was our “unday” having worked on Monday..

Even after all these years living here, a July 4th in the Bay, with its fog never really feels right, so we rarely make plans for much unless its a bbq here at the house.

But this year, we made no plans,  since we both were planning to work Monday, and again on Wednesday, I opted for some kitchen time.

First, off it was protein breakfast prep for the next few days with my super simple egg “muffins” (aka no flour) with leftover grilled chicken and veggies from last night.

That will cover us for breakfast for a few days (and they freeze well by the way).
Then having snagged some of my pal Bryan’s left over Irish mashed potatoes from book club, I repurposed them as “Irish potato hash cakes” and topped off with a few cherry tomatoes right from my own plant.

For dinner, I put in to bake a “Cheese Quick Bread” from Martha Stewarts collection. Her recipe for Cheddar Bread is the basis for it and can be found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/1165536/cheddar-bread. My only change was using a combination of types of Cheddars. The recipe is easy and fast to mix up, but with a solid 50 min bake and cool down time it’s a think ahead deal.

But once cooled, the part I like is it can be sliced thin and topped with jam, meat, sliced apples or pears, drizzled with honey or even more cheese. Sliced thicker it can be used as a “dunker” with soups and stews. Or as I found out becomes a great alternative bread option for Italian Panzanella Salad, a traditional salad that used cubes of hard bread with tomatoes and dressing. In this case, I used the leftovers from pickled cucumber & tomato salsa from the other night.
Leftovers for dinner just carries the repurpose theme with a cold chicken & veg salad. The final “re-purpose ”  was adding fresh corn and tomatoes to go with the grilled tri-tip on Tuesday. While Mr. Dino gets ready for the fireworks.

 

 

 

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Not much sun that weekend- but plenty of lemon’s can fix that

Last week with some help from our pals next door, I had a bunch of lemon’s to experiment with. So tied out a few recipes for lemon cake. It was also a chance to ty out my new silicon bundt pan. The big guess was using a honey-pear compound butter I had left over from earlier in the week, instead of simple plain butter. Over all the flavor was a win – I think thats the difference of using these lemons is that they are mild and sweet – so need to remember to mix with more thicker skin tart varieties. I remember having the same experience with them making preserved lemons. So while the taste was good the pan itself is so-so. I got good color but the center cone doesn’t carry enough heat to make the inner ring cook through. I will try it again next week with the Blueberry cake I make on a regular basis and see if the same thing happens. I also need to check the capacity – as I think it is actually not a 10-cup pan.

Another “Salon” dinner saturday night with the perfect “Cowboy” Lasagna. 

This was a dinner shot during the last visit

A gathering of the tribe last night for a “salon” dinner. A night focused on food, talk and stories. For this month, my old friend Josh and his husband Brent were in town, taking advantage of “retiree” time and visiting the Bay Area. Now Josh and I have been friends, “sisters”, co-facilitators, both ran focus groups and volunteers for local programs for many years and all around were “those two are trouble together” for over 24 years.

Instead of a dinner out like in the past (the last visit we took them to Old Skool for a great meal),  I suggested we eat here and invite some other friends we’ve known for years and just kick back old school style.

For the menu I wanted easy, solid and fun. Years ago Josh and I manned a mens social group called the Social Exchange Network as a way to gather men to get out of the city to camp, eat, remember, heal. This was during a time of great pain and change for us, when so many of our friends were dying or sick with AIDS. So the socials and SEN were an opportunity to “stop the madness” for a few days. We did everything from camping trips to Disney World to house parties.

Often for the weekend SEN events, I tended to do all the cooking (except for the junk food table which often held every sweet treat, salty, sugary snack that we ould pre-buy that would sit on a table for the whole weekend for those late-night munchies) while Josh would serve as the front man-cruise director for the social stuff. On those trips when an oven was available – our first night menu was frozen lasagna dinners with a green salad and garlic bread. As it was easiest meal to get prepared on the day of travel as people rolled in.

With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to recreate a home version, but that wasn’t the old school all day sauce version that I normally would make , which I know he loves. So Trisha Yearwood’s  “Cowboy Lasagna” recipe came to mind.  I originally tried the recipe back in a few months ago  (that post is here) after seeing it on her cooking show to a great success. I recall saying that the mean-sauce was like “crack”, “one spoonful and you couldn’t stop tasting it”. To start the night I re-used another favorite starter; my adapted version of  Roasted Carrot Hummus that I have mentioned back in my February post

When all was said and done –  it was a win for sure.  Two of our other friends Russel (Russell has know Josh almost as long) and David,  brought a fresh baked apple pie (crust and all) incredibly infused with rosemary. Which paired perfectly to the lasagna meal.

What to make for dinner with nothing?

Ok so last week we both too beat to decide on what to eat and go out.. Which meant it was time for our own version of #Chopped@Home and for me to come up with something to eat.

I had remembered a @LidiaBastianich (one of my fav italian professional food folks) and how she had married some of the same things and always says that its not about the recipe as much as what you have.  So after a fast forage in my cabinets and refrigerator – I ended up with:

Baked Ham that I had from a few weeks back when I tried my first full baked ham myself which I had luckily frozen the leftover meat and bones seperately, fresh snap peas, cherry tomatoes, mine orange peppers, and a box of pasta, olive oil, butter and lemons.

So well – when all was said and done – I got a pretty easy and nice hearty meal out of it.

 

Mother’s Day Alternative Tea

Since we didn’t travel to see your own moms, and we weren’t really up for doing a full out dinner we decided to host an alternative Mother’s Day tea today.

We asked everybody to bring something; Just choose either savory or sweet.  We then mixed it up some with a different friends and small crowd to encourage different networking and socializing.

Overall a big success.


At first I dug out the mixed matched and “tag sale find” collection of tea cups and saucers and plates..

And the  always handy multi tiered dessert plate stands


Getting the layout on the tables is always important.

 

And then the menu:

Traditional tea sandwhiches with hearts!

Pinwheels with two kinds of cheese and ham, as well as pimento cheese sandwhiches

Gluten free carrot cake muffins, jicama mango salad and picked shrimp

 

Stuffed peppers and devilishly good peanut butter chocolate and marshmallow cookie.