Friday, August 29, 2014

Brats, Carrots and Leftovers

Aug 28 2014

A cooler day, 75, had 91 yesterday! I was glad since I had to trim the back yard. I’ll mow tomorrow. After I trimmed I cooked a pan of tomatoes down to use for sauce.

Tonight’s supper was pretty simple and easy to do. I did 4 brats on the smoker on grill grates. The brats were fresh tomato garlic from my butcher. I did them for 25 minutes at 200 deg. grill level and then eased it up ending at 350 grill level for a another 35 minutes. Total cook time was one hour.

I had nuked some organic carrots in butter and WOW then on the grill the last 20 minutes. I made me some dip for the brats, yellow and hot mustard with some smoky horseradish sauce. We had some of the leftover tomato and corn casserole. I had a little bread with a little butter and a Hopin Helles to wash it all down!

Carrots nuked

For my dipping sauce

Ready on the smoker

My supper

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Garden Tomato and Corn Casserole

Aug 27 2014

I had an overload of ripe tomatoes from my garden to use so I made up this recipe for supper tonight. My wife had to go to church at 6:00 for a meet the new minister’s wife party so I did it up early so she could eat at 5:00. I thought the daughter in law would stop to eat or take some home with her. I will have to see that she gets some tomorrow, there’s a bunch left! My son does not like tomatoes but the grandson will probably eat some. I don’t think it would freeze well.

I had a half a smoked chicken left so I removed it from the bones and sliced to go with the casserole. The wife and I both thought it was pretty darned good. It would go with any BBQ meat or a nice dish if you have someone that is vegetarian to serve.

I was pretty basic with just salt and pepper for seasoning so you could add your choice. Diced sweet or green onions, diced red peppers, thin sliced fresh basil or any mix of these I think would work well. I took my gravy to a medium thickness and next time may let get thicker.

If you brown up the cheese under the broiler at the end like I did be careful. I let mine almost go to the burn stage! I should know better to watch closely as it can go from a nice brown to burnt in about 5 seconds!
Overload of ripe tomatoes

Casserole ingredients

Bread toasted

A layer of tomatoes, seasoned

A little cheese

A little gravy

Corn added

Rest of the gravy and a layer of tomatoes

Baked 40 minutes and added the rest of the cheese

Ready to serve

My supper

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chicken and a salad with Garden Tomatoes

Aug 24 2014

We are just now getting what I call August weather, in the 80’s. The last two days have been humid; I mowed 2/3 of the yard yesterday and finished the back this afternoon.

While I was up my usual middle of the night I put a spatchcocked chicken in brine; ½ gallon of water, 1/3 cup of salt, a scant 1/3 cup of brown sugar and 5 smashed garlic cloves. It had been in the brine 9 hours when I rinsed, dried and in the fridge 2 hours to air dry some. I then seasoned with two pats of butter and dried garlic flakes; a pat under each breast skin. I then rubbed with a TBS. of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, some Penzey’s Galena St. and McCormick’s Montreal Chicken seasoning. It went back in the fridge about an hour before putting on my Traeger.

I had some yellow, red and Roma tomatoes from my garden for a salad. I used about a large bag of baby spinach and baby kale mix and cut up two yellow, two red and 3 Roma tomatoes. I had some fresh basil I sliced thin and a coarse chop and 4 or 5 thin slices of Vidalia onion cut in quarters to add. The dressing was ¼ cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil and 1/8 cup Champagne dressing. I added a good pinch of grey sea salt and some fresh ground black pepper. It sat out until supper time, about 1 ½ hours. I had some parmesan and Romano shredded cheese and some bought garlic herb fried onions for toppings.

If I would have stopped there; chicken and a salad would have been a healthy meal. I had some crusty garlic bread that was still good and needed used and I had found some frozen crispy BBQ French fries that sounded good too! I did the fries in a wire basket on my Weber gas grill at 400 deg. about 20 minutes. I toasted the bread sprayed with a little olive oil and had some of my gorgonzola garlic chive butter to have on it.

The chicken went in my Traeger at 200 deg. grill level for 30 minutes and then went to 300-320 deg. grill level for 45 minutes. I went to 350 deg. grill level the last 15 minutes to get a breast IT of 170 deg. I used to go to 160 deg. in the breast but found I still had a little pink in the wish bone wing area. I place the chicken with the leg & thighs to the right; the hotter side and when I have a breast IT of 170 deg. the thighs and legs are at 180 to 185 deg.

I have done enough spatchcocked chicken on my Traeger I can usually get it done in 1 ½ hours and get it to 170 deg. breast IT on time to go with any sides I am cooking.

This was a good supper; my wife and I both thought one of my better chickens. I had a leg thigh and a little of the breast meat; my wife had the rest of the breast and wing. We liked the seasoning and the skin that was on top was bite through crispy. The salad was delicious so I need to write up the recipe and save.

After I gave Sandman a bottle of the Christian Moerlein OTR’s to try I thought I had finished it but found I had a bottle left to enjoy with supper.

For the chicken

Chicken seasoned

My Garden Tomatoes

For the salad

Salad made up

After an hour on the smoker

1 1/2 hours and a breast temp. of 170 deg.

My salad

My supper

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shrimp Pad Thai with a touch of Cajun

Aug 23 2014

After eating pretty heavy this week it was time for something a little lighter! We love Pad Thai with chicken, shrimp or both. I could never find an ingredient, tamarind that is in authentic Pad Thai. A while back I found a box kit by Thai Kitchen that had the rice noodles and the sauce included.

After doing a lot of low & slow cooking on my pellet smoker wok cooking is almost too fast for me! I have been using my outdoor gas burner for the wok cooking. I am now getting the fire regulated better for the cooking.

I had some wild caught gulf shrimp to use. I poured half the 12 oz. package out to thaw under cold water, when I looked at them I thought we can eat the whole package. When they were thawed I added some Penzey’s Cajun seasoning to them.

I did the egg first and removed to add back in; I was using some flavored wok oil. Then a little more oil and the shrimp went in. I had the noodles softened in some boiling water so drained them and added in along with the sauce.

I stirred to mix well and let the noodles soak up the sauce. I added the egg back in and some bean sprouts. I use canned sprouts since the fresh ones are hard to find here. I put the lid on the wok for a minute and then took inside to serve.

I had some chopped cashews for on top and some lime wedges to squeeze over. I had made up a spinach salad with water chestnuts, bean sprouts, salt, pepper and some Champagne dressing; it went well with the Pad Thai.

The wife and I both loved it. I followed the recipe on the box but did not use any red peppers; I used the Cajun for a little heat. The sauce with tamarind adds a nice sweet touch to it. I could use more heat but then the wife would not eat it. The next time I will add some green onions and garlic too.


My supper

BLT's and Tater Tots

Aug 22 2014

I had ripe tomatoes from the garden so that said have BLT’s! Getting back in the routine again after our anniversary outing I picked the grandson up from his school bus stop at 3:00. I planned on supper when his Mom came from work.

I had some onion poppy seed ciabatta buns for the sandwiches and used baby spinach instead of lettuce. I did the bacon up early on my Traeger pellet smoker. I had some Ore Ida cottage rounds, tater tots, to have and grilled a portabella mushroom brushed with olive oil and some WOW seasoning and made the daughter in law a sandwich with it and a slice of tomato. For the rest it was BLT’s with mayo.

I sprayed the tater tots with olive oil and some WOW seasoning and did them on my Weber gas grill on medium. When they had been on about 15 minutes I grilled the portabella mushroom a few minutes on each side then put it and the tater tots on the warming shelf and toasted the ciabatta buns.

It all tasted good; BLT’s are always good!

The bacon

Finishing on the Weber

My supper

Friday, August 22, 2014

Our 48th Anniversary at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse

Aug  22 2014

We have been married 48 years on Aug. 20th. My wife asked if I was going to take her out to eat. I said why don’t we just go somewhere and stay a couple of nights and eat out somewhere good. We had not had a vacation in over 3 years. My wife had both knees replaced about a year ago and thought she was up to the trip. We decided to go to Cincinnati Ohio and get a good steak somewhere. Our son and wife had lived there for a while and said if you want a good steak go to Jeff Ruby’s. We decided it looked like a great place even though it was pretty pricey.

My wife booked us in at the Garfield Suites Hotel for the 19th and the 20th. It is an older hotel and one of the cheapest. It turned out great we had a suite with a living, dining area, small kitchenette and bedroom and a small patio overlooking the city from the 12th floor. They also had free shuttle service to most of the good restaurants in town.

We left on the 19th for the two hour drive and stopped at a mall outlet for the wife to do a little shopping and ate lunch there. We arrived at the hotel before rush hour and got settled in. I had taken my small pocket camera with me and went on the patio and shot some pics of the city; after the 5th shot it said memory card full. I had checked it before we left it was empty and said 16 so 16 gig was plenty. I checked again and here it was just 16 megabytes and that was all it would hold.

For the night’s dinner I picked out a place called Toby Keith’s; it said live music and good home style food. Toby is a country singer and I like country music, the bar was 85 foot long and shaped like a guitar. Well it was not so great; the live music was just Friday and Saturday nights. The food was good but just mediocre and we were the only diners there! Usually it is my wife who creates the memorable moments but here the first night I had two!

Wednesday we ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant which was good. We then went for a walk and after 4 blocks we were both wore out. We did see the restaurant we had picked out for our lunch, Jean Robert’s Table just a half block from the hotel. It is a French bistro style place.

We walked over for lunch at 1:30 and planned to eat light since we would have a big dinner. It looked neat with a nice bar, casual dining and an area for a little more formal. The lunch menu had several items that included duck or confit of duck. We shared an heirloom tomato salad which I wish I could recreate. It had dark red, red and yellow tomatoes a light seasoned dressing and basil.  For our entrée my wife had a ruby trout BLT and a side salad; I had the same but with French fries.

The sandwich was served on a hard crust roll; the trout was cold and tasted great. I would never thought of including fish on a BLT but it works. I had a horseradish sauce on mine. The French fries were just right, thin, crispy and not greasy. I found that Jean Robert is a pretty famous chef and wished I was closer to try some more of his creations.

We had reservations at Jeff Ruby’s Steak house for 7:30 pm. We arrived early and had a 15 min. wait for our table; the place was packed. I was given an envelope to open and it was a gift card from our son and wife. We were sitting in barber chairs waiting and in pops our son! We sure was not expecting him, we knew he was flying out from there that evening for a week-end golf outing at Myrtle Beach. He just stopped to say hello and surprise us.

We were finally shown to our table. The place is decorated in 1930’s style, giant crystal chandeliers hanging; and a beautiful bar. By the time we got seated all who waited on us knew it was our 48th anniversary. We wanted to try one of their appetizers or soups but knew we couldn’t eat that much. We both ordered a Caesar salad and their barrel cut 12 oz. filet mignon. My wife had garlic butter and I had Foie Gras for a topping. We had sides to share, potatoes anna and asparagus. The waiter said the salad is large enough I can split it if you want so we did.

There was some good fresh bread served with a patty of herb compound butter and plain butter done up in a pretty square. My wife just had ice water and I had one of the local draft beers, a nut brown. The steak was one of the best I have ever had fork tender and juicy done just right for me, med. rare plus. It was my first time ever having Foie Gras and I loved it. The toppings were served in a separate dish but after tasting mine it went on top of the steak.

I managed to eat all of my steak and the wife ate all but two bites of hers. After we were done our waiter brought out a piece of cheese cake with raspberries and topped with a little whipped cream on a plate with two forks; he said my treat for your anniversary. The waiter ask if we wanted the potatoes and asparagus to take, my wife said she would like them but I didn’t want to mess with them; he listened to my wife and brought them back in a nice tote bag.

Our night at Jeff Ruby’s was the most enjoyable dining out I can remember and the steak was the best! If you are in Cincinnati and want a great steak I highly recommend it. It is pricey; the steaks run from 12 oz. to 30 oz. at a price of $44 to $80. We don’t do this very often and it was nice for a special occasion. There are two Jeff Ruby’s; the Steak House and the Pricinct. There will be a third one soon on the waterfront of the Ohio River.

I would also recommend Jean Robert’s Table; a French bistro and very good food. Our lunch was $40.

If you want BBQ the Montgomery Inn is recommended. Our son told us to try Eli’s BBQ and our waiter at Jeff Ruby’s said it was a fun place to eat with good BBQ. We would have had to drive there so we didn’t go and I can fix good BBQ at home.

After eating breakfast Thursday we headed home and it rained about all the way. I didn’t want to fuss with supper; my wife said if you have some good meat in the freezer we can have it with the potatoes anna and the asparagus. I thawed out some of my Serbian stuffed pork loin and we had that along with some toasted garlic ciabatta buns. It only took me about 20 minutes to whip up our supper. I was glad the waiter listened to my wife and sent the leftovers home with us!

Waiting for our table

Potatoes anna

My steak

With Foie Gras

Our supper at home Thursday

Monday, August 18, 2014

Shrimp Boil 2014

Aug 17 2014

This is a meal I wait for every summer when the sweet corn is on. I have been doing it for years at least once a year. I tried to get the kids and another couple together for one but finally I said I was having it. The kids didn’t even make it down; they are putting a new wood floor in the grandson’s bedroom. Oh well the wife and I had a party!

All you need is a large pot with a strainer big enough to cook in. It will feed as many as you can afford to buy shrimp for and according to how big your pot is. I used one of my smaller pots for just the wife and me!

My ingredients were:
1 pound of shell on wild caught Key West pink shrimp @ $12.99
½ pound of my butchers smoked sausage, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 pound new red potatoes
3 ears sweet corn broke in small pieces
1 medium onion
1 head of garlic, top cut off
½ lemon
About 3 TBS. liquid Zatarain’s shrimp and crab seasoning
1 TBS. Old Bay seasoning
1 TBS. Cajun seasoning, I used Penzey’s
Salt to taste
Water to boil
Crusty bread and butter

It is pretty simple to cook, put all in, except the corn and shrimp, a pot of rapid boiling water and cook for 20 minutes, add in the corn and in another 5 minutes add the shrimp for the last 5 minutes. Pull up the strainer and let the water drain off. It is best to use a glove to lift out the strainer; the steam is hot! Pour onto a large platter or a table lined with butchers paper. Dig in and enjoy!

You don’t need much for a side; some fresh tomatoes or a green salad. I had tomatoes from my garden and I melted a TBS of my gorgonzola, garlic chive butter with a TBS. of regular butter in a bowl for me and another bowl for the wife to dip our bread and shrimp in. My wife and I were both hungry and put a pretty good dent in this.

Normally this should feed 4 people but I would use 1 pound of the sausage and another ear of corn. I like to use medium shrimp since I think they take on more of the flavors than larger shrimp do. If you like beer it sure goes good with this!

My garden tomatoes

Garlic bread


Can't forget the garlic and onion

All in but the corn and shrimp

Corn and shrimp added

All done

Ready to dig in

My first plate