Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Breakfast (boneless) Pork Chops

I've never understood why these lovely boneless pork chops are almost always labeled "breakfast style." They are delicious anytime, but they are great to put inside a freshly baked biscuit for breakfast.

They are extremely simple to prepare and I promise they will win you rave reviews for your diners!

4 - 6 boneless breakfast style pork chops
3/4 cup self-rising flour
freshly ground black pepper
canola or vegetable oil 

Mix the flour and the salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Gently coat the pork chops in the seasoned flour.

Heat about a half inch of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

When a pinch of flour sizzles when dropped into the oil, carefully place the chops into the oil and fry for approximately 5 - 6 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

I served mine with fried eggs, biscuit and gravy and country fried potatoes.

Beefy Burgers with Caramelized Onion Jam

Last summer, I enjoyed making all sorts of new jams and jellies. One that I attempted was a caramelized onion jam. You may click on that link to go directly to the recipe.

Tonight I made some 1/3 pound burgers and knew these burgers were begging to be topped with some of that onion jam.

Slightly sweet tasting, but with a definite roasted garlic flavor, these burgers needed nothing else except a freshly baked bun.  

2 lbs. 80/20 ground chuck
freshly ground black pepper

Divide the meat and shape into patties. Make a small indentation in each burger to help them cook flat. Salt and pepper the patties.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When skillet is hot, add burgers a few at a time and cook until your desired level of doneness.

Place on bun and top with the onion jam. Serve immediately.

Italian Style Lentil Soup with Rice and Spinach

A true vegetarian dish, this one is based on a recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. I topped my version with a few pieces of Parmesan cheese. The vegetable stock from the previous post was instrumental in giving this dish a really great depth of flavor. On these bitterly cold winter days, this dish will soothe your soul and your tummy.

1 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over
1 bay leaf
Several sprigs of fresh thyme or a few pinches of dried
1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 celery rib, cut into 1/2 inch dice
8 cups vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped (I used cipollini onions)
1 t. minced garlic
1/2 cup Arborio rice
10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes

Put the lentils, bay leaf, thyme, carrot, celery and stock in a medium soup or stock pot. 

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it softens, about 5 minutes.

Aren't these cipollini onions pretty?

Then add the garlic and let cook for about a minute and remove from heat.

When the lentils are tender, fish out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and stir the onion mixture into the soup and add the tomatoes.

Stir in rice and spinach and let cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. 

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a grating of Parmesan cheese.

Vegetable Stock

This is a great habit to acquire. When you're peeling, chopping and slicing vegetables get a large freezer bag.  Put your peelings, end pieces, etc. into the bag. Place in the freezer.  Each time you cook and have scraps, place them in the bag and refreeze. Then, when you have a few hours at home, make your vegetable stock.  Cool, strain and divide into 16 or 32 oz. portions and freeze.  The next time your recipe calls for vegetable stock, there's no need to buy any with added ingredients.  You have your own which you have control over the amount of salt and seasonings.  

This is a 7 1/4 quart Dutch oven.  I put my vegetable scraps, covered with water, added two bay leaves, about a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of whole peppercorns.

Slowly bring the liquid up to a gentle simmer.  Remember DO NOT STIR! This will make your stock cloudy.  Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.  Let it gently bubble away for an hour or so.

And this is what you have after that hour or so.  Remove from heat and let cool a little bit.  Then strain.

And I ended up with two quarts of gorgeous vegetable stock!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mexican Meatball and Rice Soup a/k/a Albondigas

If you're looking for a Mexican flavored soup that can be made in less than an hour start to finish, look no further. The delicate texture of the meatballs pairs perfectly with the beefy tomato broth.

Serve with chips or warmed tortillas on the side.

4 cups low sodium beef stock
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup of your favorite salsa
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes 
1 cup water
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/8 t. ground cayenne
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground pork
1 egg
1/4 milk
1/4 fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup rice

In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, add stock, onions, carrots, garlic, salsa, diced tomatoes, water, and seasonings. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer.

In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chuck and ground pork, egg, milk and breadcrumbs. Gently shape into 24 meatballs and carefully lower them into the simmering broth.

Don't stir. Just let the meatballs cook through for about 15-20 minutes.

Add the rice and gently stir to mix into the soup. Let cook an additional 18-20 minutes or so until the rice is plump and cooked through.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vegetable Pasta Bake

Looking for a vegetarian pasta dish?  Well, you have come to the right place. Thanks to Emeril for providing the roasted eggplant and gaaaaaahlic jarred pasta sauce!  Sauteed some veggies in olive oil, mixed them together with the sauce and 4 cups of cooked egg noodles, a little mozzarella and Parmesan and dinner is served.

3 T. olive oil
1/2 cup matchstick cut carrots
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 can whole artichokes (5 - 7) to a can, chopped
2 T. chopped garlic
a few grinds of black pepper
kosher salt to taste
1/4 t. dried basil
1/4 t. dried oregano
1 jar Emeril's Roasted Eggplant and Gaaaaahlic Pasta Sauce
4 cups cooked egg noodles, drained
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray non-stick spray on a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or a deep dish pie plate.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the carrots and let them cook for a few minutes....

Now add the onions and let them do the same....

Next comes the bell pepper.....

Artichoke hearts next with the garlic, basil and oregano....

Let the vegetables cook about five minutes after each addition.  You don't want them mushy, but not crisp either.

Now is the time to add the sauce.  Fold in the vegetables until it's all combined.

Turn off the heat and fold in the egg noodles.

And last, but not least, add in the mozzarella.

Gently spoon the mixture into your prepared baking dish.

And sprinkle the Parmesan on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 18 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for about 5 minutes longer.

Top with additional Parmesan if you'd like.  And, of course, you'd like!

Russian Rye Bread

With the Olympics only a few weeks away, I'm already planning for our Russian themed meal.  A good friend who is a terrific bread baker has agreed to supply the bread for the meal.  She's trying out different recipes for us to sample and decide which one we like best.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Caraway and fennel seeds sprinkled on top added just the right amount of crunch.  

1 ½ cups water
2 T. cider vinegar
2 ½ cups bread flour
1 cup rye flour
1 t. salt
2 T. margarine
2 T. dark corn syrup
1 T. brown sugar
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. instant coffee granules
1 T. caraway seed
¼ t. fennel seed

To make this recipe in a stand mixer, combine all of the ingredients except the softened butter and seeds in the mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed using the dough hook, scraping the dough down occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add the softened butter and mix for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and allow it to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.  Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half.

Flatten the dough pieces into rectangles, pressing down with your hands to pop any air bubbles. Fold the dough into thirds, rolling it slightly under your palms to form a loaf, and pinch the seam to seal. Place the loaves into the loaf pans, seam-side down, and sprinkle the seeds on top of the loaves.  Cover with a floured kitchen towel and allow it to rise again until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake the loaves in a preheated 400 degree oven until the crust is dark and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

From www.allrecipes.com

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

Once again, comfort food at its finest. Sometimes you just need an ooey, gooey casserole to satisfy your cravings. And trust me, there's nothing wrong with that. Just don't eat the entire 9 x 13 at one sitting. And if you're feeling the tiniest bit guilty about a casserole dish full of pasta and cheese, slip in a little chopped spinach into the filling. This one had a nice big handful chopped up and mixed in before baking.  

This was some more good.  Really.

12 ounces uncooked ziti pasta
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped 
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (1-lb.) package ground Italian sausage
1 cup dry red wine 
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
½ cup firmly packed torn fresh basil
½ t. kosher salt
½ t. dried crushed red pepper 
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 (8-oz.) package shredded mozzarella cheese, divided 
Vegetable cooking spray
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare ziti according to package directions for al dente.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add sausage, and sauté 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Add wine, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.

Stir ricotta and 1 cup mozzarella cheese into hot cooked pasta. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Transfer pasta mixture to prepared dish, and top with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.

From February 2014 Southern Living.

Stovetop Chocolate Pudding

Yesterday seemed like a comfort food dessert kind of day.  I was home from work and decided that I'd go in search of a very easy, quick chocolate pudding recipe.  I found this one by Kelly Thompson via All Recipes.  

It took longer to get the ingredients assembled than it did to make the pudding.  I caught a picture of a friend sprinkling a little powdered sugar over the top of one of the pudding cups.  This was silky, smooth and just what I wanted.

1/2 cup white sugar
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
2 3/4 cups whole milk
2 T. butter, room temperature
1 t. vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt.  Place over medium heat and stir in the milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. 

Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla.  Let cool briefly and serve warm or chill in the refrigerator until serving.  If you place it in the fridge, cover with plastic wrap (pressed gently against the pudding) to prevent "skin" from forming on top.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lamb Burgers stuffed with feta cheese and chopped spinach

It seems like lamb burgers are something I can't get enough of these days. We've tried a few different variations here on the blog and this recipe is a delicious one to add to your collection of lamb burgers.  

2 pounds ground lamb
1 cup finely chopped spinach
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 T. McCormick Mediterranean Seasoning Blend
a few grinds of black pepper

Lightly mix the ingredients together and divide into six portions and then flatten into patties.  

Over high heat, heat a grill pan until very hot. Add the patties, a few at a time and cook on each side about 5 - 6 minutes.

For these burgers, we chose whole wheat buns, additional spinach leaves, peeled and seeded cucumber spears, a little additional feta, thinly sliced red onion, a tomato slice and a Greek Yogurt sauce.

Greek Yogurt Sauce

5.3 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1 t. McCormick Mediterranean seasoning blend
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. honey
1/4 t. lime zest
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. chopped parsley

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Sauteed Butternut Squash

This is a very simple to prepare side dish that packs loads of vitamins and nutrients and it's pretty to boot!

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1" pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 stick butter
chopped parsley for garnish

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and when shimmering, add the squash.  Lower heat to medium and occasionally toss cubes to allow them to begin to brown.  

It will take 10 - 12 minutes for squash to cook to tenderness stage.  Taste a bite and when it's "just tender enough" salt and pepper and add butter.  The butter will begin to brown and caramelize a little on the cubes.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.  Garnish with chopped parsley and/or fresh spinach leaves.  

Todd English P.U.B.

Yesterday's brunch was enjoyed at the Todd English P.U.B. at the Westin in Birmingham.  

The "P.U.B." and upscale Public Urban Bar offers a variety of premium draught beers and specialty drinks.  But it was also a perfect location for brunch.  I would love to go back for lunch or dinner.

One of our friends ordered the Pub Hash:  slow cooked corned beef, caramelized
onions, potatoes topped with poached eggs, grilled sourdough, scallion aioli $18

Another friend had the English Bagel Tacos;  scrambled eggs, cured salmon, baby arugula tossed in a fried caper vinaigrette, sour cream, American caviar in a potato bagel shell $19

Sweet Harold thoroughly enjoyed his brunch.  Todd's Wake Up Call:  Corned beef hash, sour dough toast, sausage links, scrambled eggs.

I had the Egg Fritters:  eggs your way (I chose soft scrambled with cheese), skinny fries tossed with cheddar cheese, spicy marinara $13

John's City Diner

Dinner with friends at John's City Diner in Birmingham before enjoying Bill Cosby's show Saturday night.  The menu incorporates the best of the South along with many Asian inspired dishes.  Don't go to John's expecting a dive type diner. 

The service was great with Ralph as our server.  He offered many suggestions and once he knew we were going to the show, he had our food out promptly but we never felt rushed.  

I began with a Razzle Dazzle.    Peach Nectar (Schnapps), Vodka, Grand Marnier & fruit juices (the bartender said equal parts OJ and cranberry juice)

And what about this Zombie?  Bacardi and Myer’s Dark Rum, Apricot Brandy, Fee Bros Falernum, Pineapple, OJ, Lime, No brains…

And Sweet Harold said the Long Island Ice Tea was delicious.

Ralph encouraged us to try one of the appetizer specials.  We're certainly glad that we did.  I will try to duplicate this one at home and post the results here.

Roasted baby Brussel sprouts with a bacon vinaigrette mixed with toasted pecans and capers.  Such a diverse flavor base that blended together to make a most excellent appetizer.   Another great choice for a serving dish.

And we all know my love of pimento cheese.  I wanted to try their version which was served with toasted bread.  Once again, serving in a canning jar was cool. The bread was in a small metal bucket.  The pimento cheese was a blend of Tillamook white and yellow cheddar cheeses.  $7.50

Now on to the entrees!

How about this macaroni and cheese?  As the menu stated, "Sorry Kraft."  Three Little Pigs Macaroni and Cheese.  Prosciutto, Fudge Farms bacon and pulled pork, topped with crispy fried onions.  $12

Sweet Harold had the Crispy Duck: Maple Leaf Farms Duck first roasted then crisped in oil and topped with honey-soy glaze, cilantro and sesame seeds. Served with smashed potatoes and baby green beans.  $19

And the pork chop NEVER disappoints.  Beeler's pure pork chop, no hormone, no antibiotic, humanely raised chop, brined and grilled to order with Bourbon-Maple glaze. Served with smashed potatoes and baby green beans.  $16

And last but not least, my chicken and savory waffle.  Cheddar cheese waffle, deep fried Springer Mountain Farms chicken, balsamic spiked 100% maple syrup $16.50

Yes, this is half a chicken.  Fried about a minute or two too long for my taste, the chicken was still extremely juicy and tender.  I added bacon to the waffle (of course!) and totally enjoyed their version of this classic dish.

A wonderful evening of delicious food, refreshing beverages, excellent service and a fun atmosphere.  John's City Diner is a MUST if you're visiting Birmingham.