Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saute de Veau Marengo

The fancy dish Mom made when she or Dad had work folk or friends over for spiffed-up dinner parties when I was a kid. It was served w/ buttered egg noodles. So you know, I just ate noodles. Later in life (circa age 12) I would deign to put some of the veal and sauce on the noodles, but keep that fungus away from me!

What was I thinking???

When I got older and smarter it was the dish Mom made for me to celebrate. College gradation. Grad school. A record-breaking Senate election. A birthday of note.

Made it last night for pops and a couple pals and we sopped up veal w/ mushrooms and a sauce rich with taragon, orange, and vermouth for HOURS. Good lord that was tasty food.

I have the recipe printed on two old and stained 3x5 index cards. Mom wrote it for me. She left something out too, and I'm not sure if it was on purpose or not. The first few times I made it I had to call her mid-cooking to check. I'll give her a post stew call this time...

Saute de Veau Marengo

  • 3 lbs veal stew meat
  • 2-3 T olive oil (for browning use what you need)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion (Mom has minced, I go more texture)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 T AP flour
  • 2 cups dry vermouth
  • 1 lb firm, red tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and rough chopped) or 1 c dained/stratined canned, diced
  • 1/2 tsp basil or tarragon (I use tarragon, fresh -- and it's amazing)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 3-inch strip of orange peel
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms (I mix in creminis and halve/quarter accordingly to get bite-sized)
  • 1/2 T cornstarch in 1 T water slurry (if needed)


  1. Dry veal on paper towels
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rack in lower third.
  3. Heat oil in skillet and brown veal in batches.
  4. Place browned meat in large casserole/Dutch oven
  5. Lower heat in skillet, remove all but 1 T oil in skillet and add onions. Brown for 5-6 minutes, scraping the bottom of the skillet.
  6. While the onions are softening, toss the veal w/ the salt, pepper, and flour over medium heat to cook the flour onto the outside of the veal.
  7. Once the onions are soft, add the vermouth to the pan and raise the heat, stirring until the liquid boils.
  8. Add the onions and vermouth to the Dutch oven and stir over medium heat.
  9. Add the tomatoes, herbs, orange peel, and garlic.
  10. Bring to a simmer.
  11. Cover and place in the oven for about an hour.
  12. Remove from the oven, check the tenderness of the veal. If fork tender, add the mushrooms and bring to a rapid simmer on the stovetop.
  13. Cover and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven, remove the orange peel and skim any excess fat.
  15. Boil the sauce for 5-7 minutes until it reduces by approzimately 1/4.
  16. Add conrstarch slurry to adjust thickness of the sauce.

Notes:

I served last night over the classic butterd egg noodles (1 lb noodles w/ 1 T butter) with the fresh addition of 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley and a loaf of crusty tuscan bread. Hey, even the noodles couldn't soak up all that gravy...there was soppin' to be done!!!

I cut the salt from 1 tsp in the original to 1/4 tsp here and used it to help soften the onions when they went into the skillet.

I also used diced, canned San Marzano tomatoes and DID NOT drain them. I think I end up with more sauce AND that the tomatoes in the can give you some of the lost salt back. I sure wasn't missing any saltiness last night.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Add Heat to Food - Eat Yummier

So the losing continues apace. And the discovery of ways to make less food taste more better (intentional grammar lapse...) is also moving along. Y'all know me pretty well, I get flavor combos fairly well. Pork and anything. Chicken and thyme or sage. Macaroni and cheese (laugh, chuckle, whatever...you liked it). And pepper heat is good with...well, damn near everything. I love it. Jalapenos, serranos, arbol, powdered, fresh, dried.

The past two weeks I've whipped up a batch of Thai-style green curry paste. It's the base. The underlying heat and brightness in Thai green curry dishes. It's the BOOM. And it's easy to make a huge batch and freeze it in ice cube trays. Each "cube" is about 1 1/2 T of concetrated flavor.

Sauteing veg for an omelet? Throw a cube in with the onions or asparagus or whatever and saute that goodness right in. Or if you still have some fresh, stir it into your eggs/whites and get it in that way. One cube = about 1 skillet of food. It's a rough guess thing, not exact science.

If the amount of heat in the recipe scares you, I have an easy work around. Put fewer peppers in. Yeah, I was just looking atcha funny there. Seriously. Less pepper (or less seeds and membranes from inside the peppers) equals less heat.

Then again, my whole point in this was to add MORE heat to dishes.

Anyway, whip up a batch. It's pretty cheap all things considered. $15 worth of ingredients gets you about 12 cubes plus 1/2 cup to keep fresh for the week. So for about $1 per skillet of food, you get AWESOME. I'll add $2-3 worth of veg, chicken, potato, mushroom, beef, pork, etc. to a pan with about $0.50 worth of rice and get a HUGE dinner plate full of Thai goodness.

What, you won't? Eh, your loss. I'm hungry and gettin' with the spicy lunch goodness. Today's gonna be about a half can of chick peas, 2-3oz of spinach, a diced up carrot, and some yellow onion in a pan with some curry paste all stuffed into whole wheat pita and topped w/ crumbled feta and greek yoghurt.

Yeah, I still eat well even on #Facebook4Fatties.

Get some.

Thail Green Curry Paste

2 bunches cilantro, bottom 1" of stems removed
5 oz fresh basil leaves w/ any brown stem ends removed
1 head of garlic, peeled (3 T minced-ish)
1-2T minced fresh ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, peeled, cored, minced (go here for prep)
2 T fresh mint leaves
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 large jalapenos (approx 1 cup rough chopped)
4 serranos (approx 1/4 cup rough chopped)
Juice of 2 limes (~ 4 T juice)


  1. Pulse it all in a food processor to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides.
  2. Once combined, run food processor for 45-60 seconds to make a wet paste.
  3. Put 1-2 T of mixture into each well in an ice cube tray and freeze.
  4. Once frozen remove from the tray and put in a freezer safe plastic bag. 


Should keep well for several weeks. If you start seeing lots of ice crystals on your paste cubes, you haven't been cooking with curry paste enough recently and you should probably use 'em or lose 'em AND make a fresh batch.

Can't find lemongrass? Don't worry. Leave it out.

Only see good looking jalapenos and not serranos? Deal. Use more jalapeno.

You have jars of minced garlic? Okay. I guess. You know. If you must.

NO. You can't substitute dry herbs for this recipe. That defeats the whole purpose here...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today's Choice is Brought to you by Steak

And by #Facebook4Fatties telling me after my large lunch that it was time for a 30-minute 1.5 mile haul from my place to Gate 8.

And if you think I wasn't motivated to have more than a carrot and two radishes...look what I ended up with on today's losing weight journey...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

#Facebook4Fatties

I joined #Facebook4Fatties.

This is not about getting skinny. It's about getting healthy.

I will still do THIS (10 Cuisines in One Day).

Because I now do #Facebook4Fatties and THIS (RunKeeper.com).

And because I'll add in more of this.


Well, if he had 'fast-walked' all across Greenbaugh, Alabama and the rest of the country.

And I'll likely have smaller portions of this.


But I'm too early by far for any mid-life crisis. And this isn't even a crisis.

It's a realization that if I'm working smarter not harder at the choices I have and the choices I make, I can have my cake, eat it, go for walk, and lose weight...

Case in point. My two breakfasts this weekend were as follows.



And they were GOOD.


And don't think the choices all suck. I chose to get up and do the walk this morning that allowed me to have a couple pork sausage link AND some turkey bacon. And I could've had pork bacon too. But I didn't. Maybe I will tomorrow. Who knows?

Both those breakfasts (including a skinny latte this morning) were fewer calories than the walking I'd done before them. So I'm ahead for the day. Full meal eaten and enjoyed.


I was giddy last night because I had a plate FULL of sweet potatoes. And they were SWEET, and buttery...w/o any butter...yeah, I said it. I put the butter away. Because I wanted another 1/2 cup of sweet potato more than I wanted 1/2 cup less potato and a pat of butter. Just a quick choice. Could've made the other one. Don't feel too bad for me, I had some apple juice braised pork loin chop on the plate too...

I mean, I still bought two containers of ice cream. Of course I did, how could I reach for the pint of Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie, see the Alden's Blackberry, and NOT grab it too? And I'll eat it too...

But I get my milk, eggs, butter, bacon, and yoghurt from a farm out in Frederick now. So the calories are more from food and less from labs. (I like traditional extension not modern experimentation. And I know that sometimes the former is still subsumed under the weight --and funding--of the latter. What? You didn't expect me to get all land-grant on you?)

And I get up and meet KayzerSoze at 7:30 on weekends on the trail for a walk. And we fill just over an hour talking about everything from our #Facebook4Fatties check-ins to the amazing massive meals we'll have in Marrakesh next year...

Shoot. He makes me custom suits. This man has a vested interest in me getting smaller. And I'm still happy to do it!!!

And yes, occaisionally I'll cut myself off of another Manhattan because while they are delicious, they are also the same value as a steak dinner. And I like steak dinners more.

Two weeks in (and about twice the weight lost as I set in my goal pace), I'm learning that half egg and half egg-white is not as much of a loss as two Manhattans and no dinner, or as no walking and also no soup with my diner dinner.  I want one Manhattan and dinner. I also want a fast morning walk with a buddy AND chicken noodle soup before my corned beef hash w/ poached eggs.

And now...I'm off to be lazy on the couch until I get up and make myself lunch. And then back to the couch and maybe stretching to do a load of laundry today until it's dinner time. And I'll still be ahead of the game today. Suckers. ;)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Little Bit of Egg on a Sunday

Today will be a recipe. Which doesn't happen very much anymore. But this was tasty...very tasty. And a riff on something I do regularly. So don't just pay attention to the recipe, pay attention to the meta. Take some things, do this to them, add that to them, cook them this way, present them that way...

To begin with, my desire to get up early was thwarted. You know, have breakfast and then do stuff and then have lunch and do more stuff and head to Dad's for dinner.

That did not happen.

Instead, I gloriously ignored my alarm and was well-rested enough (and hungry enough) to get into THIS little lovely for brunch.

First, of course -- and I mean of course not as a literal use of the phrase but as a sarcastic device to tell you that no, I do not in fact do what I write afterwards -- I put a pot of collard greens on to simmer.

After that and a first slug of Zeke's coffee to really and truly wake up, it was eggs and veg time. As my photos of said eggy creations may or may not have told you, I tend these days to saute up a bunch of stuff, throw eggs and cheese over it, let the bottom set, and then finish it off in the oven. No flipping required. The un-Frenchification of the omelet but not quite the real Spanish-ification into a true fritatta.

Today was a 'get rid of last week's bell peppers' moment. Oh, and use those cremini I saved from the baked ziti w/ sausage/eggplant/cremini from last night. I think like that. If I save a couple of these, then I can use them in the next thing too. And if I'd made the ziti AND the posole yesterday I'd have been out of jalapeno. And that would have been a tragedy.

1/2 cup diced cremini mushrooms
2 diced scallions (1T green parts reserved)
1 jalapeno diced (half of seeds and membrane removed)
1/3 cup diced yellow bell pepper (4 thin slices and 1T dice reserved)
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper (4 thin slices and 1T dice reserved)
2 t tomato paste
1 egg and 2 egg whites
2 T milk or cream
3 T shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees
Burner to medium/medium-high
In a non-stick omelet pan saute the cremini over medium heat in oil until mostly soft (3 minutes)
Add whites and most of greens of scallions and all of japapeno and saute until soft (1 minute)
Add the tomato paste and saute until combined and hot through (1 minute)
Add most of the bell pepper and saute until just hot (1 minute)
Salt and pepper
Stir eggs, egg whites, milk and cheese and add to pan and cook until the bottom just begins to set
Arrange slices of pepper in a star on top of the just setting eggs/cheese and place into oven
Bake until the eggs are totally set and the cheese has melted completely (about 12 minutes)
Plate and sprinkle w/ reserved peppers and scallions

If I had realized I was going to do the slices of pepper thing, I would have sliced one of the cremini and put the slices between the spokes of the pepper before I put it all in the oven.

As I type this I'm listening to the Papa John's commerical talking about their 'fresh' ingredients...yeah...I'm gonna go with my 'fresh' here...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hominy & Bruised Collards

In addition to the haul at the grocery store which I paid for, there were two free conversations about food that stuck out in my mind...

I was foiled in my quest for posole. Because my local Whole Foods...yeah, that place...did not have hominy. The crunchiest store in the chain world with multiple options for MUNG BEANS did not have hominy. Not even one column of small cans of one brand.

So conversation #1 happened. When I asked the gent stocking the aisle in which they should have existed (next to chipotles and frijoles negros) he immediately said "Nope, we don't carry them."

It was so quick I struck up the "You answered that so fast I bet you've been asked before" conversation. And I was right. They used to carry them. He knew they were planning on carrying hominy again in bulk foods in a few months.

After a quick "If you get asked what customers are looking for tell 'em you had another request for hominy" I wandered off in search of a few more things before now heading to a second grocery store to get hominy...

Oh well, the Shoppers' across Solomon's Island would have it. They have the BEST latin aisle in the area. Complete w/ refrigerator and freezer shelves. I LOVE it there.

But we're still at Whole Foods and I'm about the check out. Dianna did a fine job. And then at end she was trying to find a spot for my collards.

"Don't worry about them. They're going to be in the way no matter which bag they're in."

"Oh, I just wanted to make sure they didn't get crushed."

"I'm going to cook them for two hours; it really does't matter if they get 'bruised.'"

Bags handed over. Payment happens. I quip, "Have you ever had people complain about 'bruised' collards?"

Dianna and the cashier next to her both looked at me and nodded.

You Whole Foods shoppers need to get over yourselves...they're collard greens. They cook for HOURS. Your goal is to bruise them in liquid w/ pork...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bienvenido a Miami: Cucina Cubano y Otros Tambien

So I went to Miami (stayed in Sunny Isle Beach and the game was actually in Miami Gardens, but y'all don't care about that) for the Orange Bowl. And while I really was there for the game first and the food second this time...I also eat. And I don't eat like normal folk...

First stop was a typical Kitchen Geek Random Find.

My room wouldn't be ready for about 2 hours and it was lunch time. North on A1A (Beach front avenue!) until I felt like turning. Headed west away from the Atlantic on Hallandale Beach Avenue and started looking. Crossed Route 1 (Biscayne Avenue down this way) and really started looking...

Saw a 'bakery,' realized it was Colombian and also looked like a restaurant. Circled the block, checked it again. Circled one more time to get the right parking spot.

Vultured the place good.

Yubi Bakery. Can't find this place on Yelp, Urbanspoon, or just a simple Google search. I randomly found it. And you want to find it too. Colombian bakery and restaurant. Not a lot of tourist traffic.

Good looking display cases of tasty pastry. If I had a sweet tooth I would have loved it.

Also had a language barrier. Which I LOVE. It means people from the place where the food is from are making it, ordering eat, and eating it.

Instead, I went Bandeja Paisa because I suspected dinner would be a spotty affair after meeting up with the rest of the Orange Bowl Mountaineers later that night.

I was right.

From the top and clockwise we have a thin beef steak, beans (cooked w/ cicharones), a small arepa (corn cake), a chicharone (deep-fried bacon w/ the rind!), rice w/ a fried egg on top, and sweet plantains. This is a traditional workers lunch in Colombia. The kind of worker who lifts heavy things over and over again and needs heavy sustenance.

You know, like beer bottles on the hotel patio?

When this is your view, Corona goes down very quickly...

I'm just sayin'. Even this guy would be okay with a half a Publix sub and a piece of friend chicken for dinner.

And then in the morning, after the crap hotel breakfast, there was this horrible view.

Gosh it was hard to put up with the venue for two days before the game. If only someone in the group used to live in the greater Miami area and could take us to their favorite Cuban restaurant for lunch after a slightly too-long tour of Coral Gables?

We were starving. All of us. Few of the 9 had eaten breakfast. Those who had had eaten about 10am and kept it light. And it was 2pm...and there had been beers and tequilla the night before.

Welcome to Havana Harry's.

Three Clemson fans were walking out as we walked in. Strange, we hadn't seen many Clemson fans anywhere all week. I guess they didn't want anyone from WV to be able to recognize them after the game...heh. Foreshadowing game snark. Love it.

So we sat at two rounds and started ordering. Starting w/ one each of Mariquitas Harry's and Tostones Guayabero. Then there was confusion about how much we ordered so we doubled it. Then people started ordering appetizers AND meals. But, knowing how hungry I was, and knowing how good Hibbs said this place was, I got a chorus going of 'just order it all, we have refridgerators in our rooms' started and we ended up with two each of the Guayaberos, Mariquitas Harry's, and Tostones Especiales. Plus there was an order of Mussels.

And I ordered Vaca Frita as an appetizer for the table so I didn't have to choose between that and the pork chunks for my entree. C'mon, the only person who had ordered vaca frita was farthest away from me at the table. I might not have gotten a taste!

Peeps can thank me for the leftovers anytime they want!!!

Oh, hey there appetizer of fried plantain chips with a thick sausage and cheese concoction including tomato and olives. It was a deconstructed nacho with much richer and deeper flavors than any TGIF/Applebees/Chili's/Outback/Mall Nacho you've ever had...


And some tostones w/ a sweet barbequed pork topping? Okay.

Tostones? They're young plantains (yellow ones that look like the bananas you do want, not the blackened skins) that are sliced and fried, then smashed and fried again.

What, I missed pictures of the ones topped w/ vaca frita (shredded sauted beef) and cheese? Darn. I got to eat one!

Mussels in Creole Sauce. Oh, sweet, juicy, tomato and spice infused mussels.

JWilli went for the Beefsteak Milanesa after seeing one delivered to one of the poor tables full of (what I expect were) Cuban-Americans putting up w/ our madness. Breaded, topped w/ a slice of ham, a tomato sauce, and a gooey, impermeable layer of cheese. We had such a good time here and later that he wasn't even mad that JS ended up snarfing the leftovers about 15 hours later!

Mr. JS went Lechoncita. And I applauded him for his excellent ordering. Pork, braised and then shredded and added to the flattop for a crust. Onions in with it and a squeeze of lime on top. Some mojo sauce (citrus garlic) to boot.

Pork Chunks. Literally. That's what it says on the English language menu. Think carnitas here. Likely cooked in rendered pork fat. It's served in a dish full of mojo. That beautiful tart citrus and garlic sauce that adds heat and tang to everything it touches!

Let's pause a moment to focus on that bit. Meat, cooked on a grill or griddle, in a roasting pan or a vat of rendered fat, and splashed w/ citrus. We should use citrus more. It accents and cuts soooooooo many types of meat in so many good ways.

Cuatro de Leche.

OMG. WTF. Holy S#*!.

Go eat this. NOW. Like, forget the pork and order this first. Immediately. You want room for this in your belly. And then a small meal. And then another piece of this!!!

Sweet without cloying. Cake stands up to the milk sauce. Dulche de Leche is unbelieveably rich and caramel.

This was, until the beans at La Caretta a few short hours before leaving Miami, the BEST thing I ate on the whole damn trip.

Brief transition as there's a temporal void between this meal on Tuesday and the next meal on Thursday.

I will not bore you with the game here.

Wait, this is MY blog, of course I will!!!


We dropped 70 points in the game.

70.

In a football game.



No team in the history of bowl games, all of them, EVER, had scored that many points.

Our football team outscored the opponent our basketball team was playing that day. And the one our basketball team played on the Saturday after the game too (and that was the #9 team in the country).

So after that collosal beatdown I needed to refuel again.

Fortunately there's a new bartender in Annapolis.

Huh?

Yeah...Al. Who just moved up there from the Miami area and sent me to La Carreta in Little Havana.

And if you know me, you know that daily specials get ordered. I thought about the Pigs Feet, but wanted more variety. So I got the soup. And an appetizer. And a combo/entree.

Don't worry, I didn't eat it all. I sampled. And took it back to the hotel for leftovers.

White Bean and Ham. Classic. And because it's Cuban it's White Bean w/ Ham & Blood Sausage.

So good. A rich and thick soup.

Yuca Croquettes.

Stuffed w/ Ground Beef and served w/ a creamy dipper sauce. Not hot, not very spiced. Starch and meat. Good balance of each.

The Criollo Sampler. Natch. Top and clockwise goes boiled yuca (which gets a bit pasty on the outside), pork chunks cooked in rendered fat again (NOT a bad flavor to double up on in a trip), a croqette w/ ham and mozzarella, a tamale, ropa vieja, platanos maduros (sweet plantains), and yellow rice in the middle.

All delicious (with the already stated exception of the boiled yuca).

But the true amazement came with the dish on the side...

Holy sweet, deep, rich, complex, hot, black beans of fury.

Look, Italians can do things to flour and eggs that no one else can do. The French can turn butter into brilliance. Chilis are blended to balance heat so expertly in everything the Mexican cook put onto a table.

And the Cubans know beans. They know them so well you would be a fool to pass up balck beans if you are in the presence of a Cuban. And don't even think about telling me that you want to save room for something else. I left pork cooked in its own rendered fat and ropa vieja on the plate to get at more of those beans.

There is the bean. And a perfectly seasoned juice sorrounding them. And there is a hint of garlic.

There is no other word that captures what is occuring in that small cup as well as depth.

And, of course the best way to recover from that starch-fest is a Cafe Cubano. I hear tell they put a layer of sugar in between layers of coffee when they make it.

Whatever they did, it saved me from a food-coma induced wreck on 95 as I was heading back north to the hotel to rest for a few hours before some required South Florida eating.

Billy's. Fort Lauderdale.


Not Joe's because I don't feel like having to grease the palm of the matre d' to get ahead in the no reservations 'first come (heh), first served' world of the 'best' Stone Crab restaurant in South Beach. Get over yourself.


At Billy's it was "Sure we can fit you in. Just come on over." "Welcome to Billy's sir. There's a spot at the bar. Do want to wait or just eat there?"

See? If I'm dining solo, it's always worth asking if I want to eat at the bar. I don't need to take up a full table for you, and I don't want to wait for one if I don't have to.

Conch salad. Tossed w/ lime and hot pepper flake, radish, and celery. Quite heavy on the hot pepper flake  in a good way. Conch had a chew to it that I like and the citrus was bright. I left a lot and the bartender/waitress wanted to make sure it was okay.

Definitely okay. I just needed to save room for this...

Stone Crab Claws.

So sweet. So rich. So good.

A tangy mustard sauce on the side. A squeeze of lemon here and there.

I always laugh in FLa when people ask me if I was disappointed I had to work so hard eating Stone Crabs. Really? Stone Crabs work? Not a chance.

These larges were 5 to an order at about $45. And I have to say, for a treat yourself high-end delicacy, it was worth it. I have them maybe once a year.

Thank Miami and surrounding South Florida Towns.  I ate very well.

Havana Harry's on Urbanspoon

La Carreta on Urbanspoon
Billy's Stone Crab on Urbanspoon