Tuesday, November 24, 2009

JeanneBean's Baked Beans

By now you must be in full Thanksgiving mode: mirepoix chopping, turkey thawing, brine simmering, bread staling (?). Yup it's Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and if you're gonna blow 'em away on Thursday, the work starts now.

I've got lots of work as well so I'm not going to give you a big story today. I am going to list my links on this sight that can help you get through the big day. After that I'll give you a recipe for a side dish/dinner that will keep the gang satisfied between now and Thursday or alter the monotony of leftovers. Here goes:




For a full list of links and additional recipes go to my Thanksgiving Post from last year. The links are a bit scattered in order, but there are some additional recipes that might help.

OK on to today's recipe. By Saturday you'll be sick of turkey. You're going to want something to add to the plate that tastes a little different. This is a recipe I got from JeanneBean; she's used these baked beans as everything from a side dish to a main course. Best of all, it's quick prep and easy cooking with none of the pesky overnight soaking normally required for baked beans. Using canned store bought beans saves hours of work and by Saturday you'll need the rest. Enjoy...


JeanneBean's Baked Beans
from JeanneBean
(feeds a small army as a main course)

1/2 pound thick cut bacon, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 onion diced

1 3-pound (industrial-sized) can of baked beans (I prefer Bush's or B&M)
1 14.5 ounce can, red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can, black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can, stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar (either light or dark, or a mix of both)
2 TBSP molasses
3 TBSP dry mustard
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt (taste before adding to make sure you need it)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large heavy-duty pot, Dutch Oven or Le Creuset, combine the bacon, ground beef and onion and saute until well browned.

When finished sauteing, add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.

Cover the pot and place in the oven cooking for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the pot, stir the beans and return the pot to the oven, cooking UNCOVERED, for an additional hour.

Serve.


OK, simple and to the point. Add some sausages and this batch will serve a small island nation. The good news is the the stuff reheats very well. When you reheat, add a cup of chicken or beef stock to the pot and cook in a 275 degree oven for an hour or until hot.

I'm outta here crablings, I'm sure I'm way behind on getting something ready for Thursday. Have a great holiday and remember, you can do it you can cook.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mustard-Cream Sauce

I am a polar bear stuck in a snow storm reading the newspaper classifieds watching "The Maltese Falcon" on TV.

It is gray here with occasionally more intense shades of black and white thrown in. It's as if someone pulled the plug on the color vat and now they're all empty. The sun has disappeared, and if past history is any indication, we won't be seeing much of it again until sometime in April 2010.

Gray upon grey upon gray. The entire state of Michigan is one big blob of gray. Clouds everywhere, no rain, no snow, just clouds. Throw in the auto industry, the housing market and the Michigan football teams and you have one massive ocean of indifference and ennui.

Michigan, Michgan State and the Lions all play this weekend and in all likelihood all three will be obliterated. Come Monday morning, sports radio and the newspapers will reach a tepid fever pitch calling for coaches' heads. But the outrage will pass, crushed by an endless blanket of clouds.

Sigh! is the new state fight song.

Well, I got one last grilling in before the Sun ran away and hid. But the truth is even today's sauce recipe is a bit bland and lifeless. Mustard Cream Sauce is a very simple, very fast sauce that was supposed to spice up grilled steak. Well not exactly. It would have been great on a sandwich instead of mayo or maybe on a piece of fish but it didn't have enough spine to stand up to beef. I kicked up the ratios quite a bit, so try and enjoy...


Mustard-Cream Sauce
inspired by Donna Hay Magazine but kicked up by Crabby

1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/3 cup sour cream

Combine the stock, wine and mustard in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for two minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream.

Spoon over grilled or roasted meat.


Wow, even the recipe is boring. This recipe needs to be tweaked to your personal mustardy-hotness preferences. It has decent if forgettable flavor.

Sigh, until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sesame & Soy-Ginger Pork with Soba

I heard my first Christmas Carols on the radio the other day. I guess this one station in town starts playing them November 1st. Given a choice they'd probably start right after Labor Day but then they'd be accused of "disrespecting" Halloween. Yup, you don't want to go up against "Monster Mash".

I can't stand that we completely blow by Thanksgiving, but I have to admit I'm no better than the rest. It's a Saturday in mid-November, Michigan is blowing another football game and it's 60 degrees outside. Only one thing to do: Outdoor Christmas Lights!

Every year there's that one weekend when you can risk life and limb putting up your outdoor lights without freezing your finger tips. Today was the day. So,I started rooting around in the basement, finding lights, testing strings and cursing burned out bulbs. How can bulbs burn out while they're sitting in the basement unplugged?

I got everything up. I won't turn the lights on until the Friday after Thanksgiving, but at least there were no frozen finger tips or cracked patches of skin. I'm inspired to make something a bit lighter for dinner. Grill one more time in decent temperatures. Sesame & Soy-Ginger Pork is light and quick. The marinating happens while your stringing lights or raking the last of the season's leaves. Enjoy...


Sesame & Soy-Ginger Pork with Soba
from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 46


1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup mirin wine
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup water
12 ounces soba noodles, cooked
1 TBSP toasted sesame seeds
1 TBSP vegetable oil

Add the first 5 ingredients in a re-sealable bag and mix well to fully combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Preheat your grill over medium-high heat.

Remove the pork from the marinade, but KEEP THE MARINADE.

Grill the pork until done. Approximately 15 - 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.

While the pork is grilling, prepare the soba noodles according to package directions. When done, rinse the noodles under cold running water.

While the pork and soba are cooking, transfer the reserved marinade to a small saucepan. Add the water and gently simmer until the sauce slightly thickens, about 5 minutes.

Toss the soba noodles with oil and sesame seeds. Serve the noodles with slices of pork and drizzle with the sauce.


OK, quick,easy and painless on a warm autumn day. The original recipe called for green tea soba noodles. I don't know where you live, but here, green tea soba noodles are hard to come by.

Alrighty crablings, I'm sure the weather is going to turn soon. until then remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Hot dogs and sauerkraut. Cold beer, hot pizza. Some matches are classics not to be tampered with.

Yet most people just can't leave well enough alone. Hot dogs have to be all-beef from free ranging cows who roamed the foothills of the Rockies nibbling on Edelweiss while listening to "The Sound of Music" soundtrack. Sauerkraut has to be made from Amish-grown organic shredded cabbage immersed in a brine of French sea salt dredged and dried from the tidal flats of Normandy.

Some recipes drive me nuts. The requests are so precise that it's virtually impossible to find all the right ingredients. Of course when it turns out lousy the natural reaction is to blame yourself for using all-purpose flour instead of tracking down that Peruvian stone ground lotus root flour recommended in the recipe. That's why I always loved Giada DeLaurentiis' recipes. She makes liberal use of easily findable ingredients. The resulting meals are always flavorful and amazingly easy to recreate.

Until today.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes. Sounds like the perfect combo. Sounds like a winning dessert. Well all I know is that there was a lot of cursing coming out of the kitchen, primarily directed at the candied orange peel ingredient. SSSal went "store bought" and I can attest from eating the final product that this was a mistake. Gummy, flavorless. I spent more time tearing apart the cupcakes removing the orange rind than I spent eating the final product.

So this recipe is like a television movie, it's "Based on actual events". That's true if by "based of actual events" you mean that the title and some of the main ingredients are the same. After that, any resemblance to recipes living or dead is purely coincidental. Here's SSSal's highly adjusted and doctored recipe, enjoy...


Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
by SSSal and inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis' recipe

1 box chocolate cake mix (preferably Duncan Hines Devil's Food)
Orange Juice (replacing the water in the cake mix)
1 cup chocolate chips (mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate)
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1 cup diced candied orange peel (DON'T use the store bought stuff - leave it out otherwise)


Frosting

1 teaspoon each of orange and vanilla extracts
1 pound (1 box) powdered sugar
8 TBSP butter, (1 stick), softened to room temperature
2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice OR 1 TBSP 1/2 and 1/2
2 teaspoons orange juice
Zest of 1 orange

Equipment

Cupcake liners
2 muffin pans

For the Cupcakes:

Prepare the chocolate cake mix according to the package instructions, substituting the orange juice for the water.

Toss the chocolate chips with the flour.

Fold the chocolate chips and candied orange peel into the chocolate mixture (if you haven't made your own candied orange peel - and who hasn't - it is better to skip this ingredient rather than use the vile stuff you can buy at the supermarket).

Line the muffin pans with the cupcake liners. Fill each liner and bake the cupcakes according to the package instructions.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for at least 1 hour on a cooling rack prior to frosting.


For the Frosting:


Combine all the ingredients into a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Using the a small spatula, place about a tablespoon of frosting atop each cupcake.

Serve.



OK. It's a baking recipe so I have no particular insights into why you do certain things a certain way. Next time I'll be back cooking things; until then, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Honey-Ginger Chicken

First "real" frost of the year this morning. Oh, we've had a few frosts already, but they've mostly been the cover your plants variety. Last night was a good old-fashioned 25 degree turn the lawn white and crunchy frost.

I know that this frost was a manly frost because of the Pooch. During the week I get up early to get the newspaper and walk him. Most days it's still quite dark and I carry a flashlight to find the paper, warn passing drivers and illuminate a spot for him to "do his business".

I suspect we make quite a sight. Me shabbily bundled against the cold with a spectral light weaving in time to my stride suddenly stopping on the shadowy image of a slightly embarrassed canine trying to get a little privacy. Most days we dawdle a bit. He sniffs for deer, I yawn listening for sleepy drivers speeding down our street. But not today.

Today it was downright cold. Pooch hit the grass and it looked like he wanted to raise all four paws at once. This made for a difficult time trying to "get things done", especially when it came to squatting. Every time the little guy got set, another blade of ice cold grass hit him in just the right spot. He'd jump up and shuffle to a new location only to spring up again. He looked like a chicken scratching at the ground looking for a little comfort.

Of course that reminded me of a chicken dinner from a few weeks back. Honey-Ginger Chicken Breasts is one of those meals that ends up looking complicated on the plate, but is actually very easy to prepare. The key as always is to try and maximize marinating time. The reserved marinade gets boiled to kill off any nasties and then you add a thickener to get it to set up nicely


Honey-Ginger Chicken
adapted from Cooking Light


Marinade

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
2 TBSP freshly grated ginger
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP cider vinegar
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine all the ingredients into a re-sealable bag and shake well to distribute. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight, turning occasionally.


Additional Ingredients

1 TBSP cooking oil
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP water
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Chopped scallions, for garnish

Remove the chicken from the re-sealable bag and SAVE the marinade.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot add the cooking oil. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer in the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for an additional 7 minutes.

Transfer the chicken from the pan to a serving plate and lightly cover with aluminum foil.

While the chicken is resting, strain the marinade and discard any solids. Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and boil or 3 minutes. As the marinade boils combine the cornstarch and water into a thin slurry.

After boiling for three minutes add the slurry and cook for an additional minute. The sauce will thicken.

Slice the breasts, arranging pieces on individual plates. Spoon some sauce atop the chicken and then garnish with sesame seeds and scallions pieces.


OK crablings, this is actually a very easy recipe. Well, now that the sun's been up for a few hours, the Pooch is looking to go back out at a more leisurely pace. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Asian Steamed Halibut

Today there's no story. It's more of a cautionary tale.

For the most part I only share the successes here on CrabbyC, but sometimes a recipe results in something so horrendously bad that I have to pass it along. Yesterday SSSal came home from the store with a piece of Halibut. She declared that it looked good and she felt some sort of light-steamed-Asian thing was in order. Being an obliging Crab, I set about trying to find an appropriate recipe.

One of the first things you learn when trolling the internet for recipes is that there is basically only a handful of each type of recipe and then everything else becomes a variation on those themes. Steaming fish was no different. You flavor some water or stock with a few aromatics, add some soy sauce and vegetables, bring it to a boil, add the fish and cover. How hard can it be? You're steaming a fish for goodness sake.

I should have known better when the recipe I chose was from a site called connectionsforwomen.com. No, I didn't get the recipe from epicurious or foodnetworktv.com. I should have realized there would be a problem when the article just below the fish recipe was entitled, "Marriage - Do women ask too much?". But I plowed on anyway, I mean we're just steaming fish right?

The result was perhaps the worse meal I have ever prepared. The fish was bland and tasteless (I know, you steamed it you twit, what did you expect?). The real killer was that the vegetables were bitter and sour, as though I'd added a gallon or two of vinegar. But here's the catch, I didn't use any vinegar. Two bites and I was up and looking for the leftover meatloaf. SSSal and the Boonsta didn't think it was that bad, but they weren't exactly setting off fireworks over it either. I don't know, maybe it's a chick thing or something.

So here's your opportunity. Look at the recipe. Prepare it at your own risk. But if you do make it, tell me what's wrong with it. On the surface of it, I can't figure out why this meal crashed and burned, but maybe you folks can. Even though it's impossible, try and enjoy...


Asian Steamed Halibut
from Connectionsforwomen.com

4 4 - 6 ounce halibut filets
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup mirin rice wine
1 TBSP soy sauce
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 inch square of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
5 scallions, chopped into 1 inch sections
2 baby bok choy, halved vertically
1 Portobello mushroom cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 ripe red bell pepper, cut into thin slices

Add the stock, mirin, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger to a large saute pan and bring to a boil.

When boiling, layer the bok choy, mushrooms, scallions and pepper in the broth. Place the fish filets atop the vegetables and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium high and simmer until the fish is done (fish should pull apart easily with a fork but still look moist). I suggest starting to check for doneness after 7 minutes.

Using a deep plate or bowl serve the fish atop the vegetables with a ladle of broth, sprinkling a few sesame seeds on top for presentation. Addtionally you can serve the meal over a scoop of rice.


OK. Now some of you didn't read the first part of the post and you're going to be complaining to me about how horrible this meal tastes, well that'll teach you not to skip ahead. Hopefully next time I'll share something edible, until then, remember, you can do it you can cook.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Barbecue Meatloaf

Comfort food. When all else fails go for comfort food.

CrabCake2 is finally over the flu. Rest, various over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, orange juice and a few bowls of chicken soup got him through his bout with H1N1. As I mentioned last time, it's disheartening when the best medical science can offer your fever ravaged son is chicken soup. I haven't been paying close attention to the whole national health care debate, but after this latest experience, I'm going to assume that the lynchpin of any plan will entail a card entitling us to a "Bottomless Soup Bowl" at Olive Garden.

"What course of treatment do you suggest Dr. Campbell?"

"I'm not sure. What are the patients' symptoms nurse Progresso?"

"High fever, cough, congestion, headache and assorted aches and pains."

"Hmmmm? I think Chicken Noodle is in order, but before we start let's consult with Dr. Lipton."

Hmmmm?

More like, "Mmmm, mmmm, good", if you ask me.

Anyway, CC2 made it through. He lost a few pounds so we need to get him back up to fighting weight. When in doubt, go with comfort food. Barbecue Meatloaf is a Paula Deen version of the traditional standby. The meatloaf braises in a tomato based barbecue sauce that you whip up in a few minutes. I'll warn you though, we found the original sauce very salty. I'm not sure if it was from the canned tomato sauce or the Worcestershire, but I've removed the salt from the recipe to be safe. Eat and grow healthy by enjoying...


Barbecue Meatloaf
by Paula Deen with tweaks by SSSal

1 egg
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
3 TBSP vinegar
3 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP mustard
2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together egg, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and pepper. Add beef, onions and bread crumbs; mix well to combine (your hands are the best tool for this job).

Form mixture into a loaf and transfer to a baking pan large enough to hold the loaf plus the sauce, 9x13 or so.

In a medium bowl combine the remaining tomato sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, mustard and Worcestershire Sauce.

Pour sauce over meatloaf and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting the meat every 15 minutes with the sauce.

Remove from the oven and allow the meatloaf to rest for 15 minutes.

Slice and serve with a spoonful of the cooking sauce.


Pretty basic stuff. I don't know if it will cure anything beyond hunger, but the recipe is very satisfying on a cold autumn night. Well folks I'm off to research another advance in medical science; I'll post the recipe later. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

White Bean & Pasta Soup

CrabCake 2 has the flu.

My symptoms are trailing his by about 2 days.

Around noon Monday CC2 said his head hurt and he had a scratchy throat. By 4PM he had a 102 fever, a hacking dry cough, headache and runny nose. You don't need a medical degree to see flu.

Of course we talked to the doctor's office and it's the usual answers, rest, plenty of fluids, Tylenol and Motrin staggered by a couple of hours, call us if it gets worse. Worse!?! He's got a 102 fever! How much worse do you want? Well if he's still feverish on Thursday bring him in.

Thursday morning breaks but his fever hasn't. So after once again running through the doctor's automated phone gauntlet of choices and after having the same conversation as Tuesday with the "phone triage nurse", we were given an appointment.

We got there at 4PM. As soon as they realize we are a "potential flu case", both of us are immediately issued face masks and ushered to an isolated waiting area. This is a waiting area that's over the river and through the woods, past all the doctors' and nurses' lockers and down by the business offices. We are quarantined folks, pure and simple.

In the waiting area are other masked "potential flu cases". We are our own little pod of Typhoid Marys, ready to wreak havoc on the countryside by simply breathing. We waited. I was just about ready to rouse the rabble by throwing off our masks and gleefully running through the halls threatening to talk to everyone unless we got some help, when the nurse arrived. I think she was a nurse but I'm not really sure, she was covered head to toe in plastic. Plastic cap, plastic goggles, gloves up to the elbow and a plastic gown that can best be described as baby blue Hefty bag. Quite attractive really, very slimming.

We were ushered to an examination room where she took CC2's vitals and then used Purell disinfectant on her gloves, which she then threw away, before sending in the doctor. The doctor walked in wearing the same get-up; she looked more ready to knock off a bank than perform a diagnosis. I couldn't resist asking, "Why the get up? Are patients spontaneously combusting?" "Just precautions", but she sheepishly conceded that to date none of her patients had actually exploded.

After a ten minute exam she conclude that CC2 had the flu and I was probably coming down with it. Wow, four years of med school told you that huh? She said CC2 was through the worst of it so just keep getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids. That's it? You greet us and treat us like we're carrying Ebola and the best you've got is, go back to bed and have some soup?

Here's a tip for all the kids out there: Forget Medical School, just get a good Soup cookbook.

Soup! You gotta be kidding me! Well here's Crabby's contribution to National Health Care and the recipe's free. All this cure costs is the price of the ingredients and the time it takes to prep it. White Bean & Pasta Soup is pretty easy to make and if you have leftover chicken lying around you can throw it into the pot, so pull up a box of Kleenex and enjoy...


White Bean & Pasta Soup
from Bon Apetit, October 2009 with a few tweaks from Crabby

3 TBSP Olive Oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
2/3 cup chopped celery
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 (14.5 ounce) can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup cooked pasta, I like elbow shaped
1/3 cup chopped scallions
Extra olive oil for drizzling

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Saute the vegetables until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute an additional minute.

Add the chicken stock, beans and tomato and bring to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes. Roughly puree part of the soup with a stick blender.

Mix in the pasta.

If the soup is too thick add water 1/2 cupful at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on some of the chopped green onion.


There you go, you're cured. I'll be billing your insurance companies $1,000 each. For what it's worth, I have the same symptoms as CC2 except for the fever. Seems as though old crabs like me get the flu but with far less severe effects. I'm off to bed crablings, I'll be back next week. Until then remember you can do it, you can cook.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Veal Cutlets with Creamy Marsala Sauce

When I say "Indiana", what do you think of?

The Indy 500? Jim Nabors? Elkhart, RV manufacturing capitol of the world?

Well all those are true, but there are two more things that you need to be aware of.

Billboards and Flat.

Last weekend CC2 and I drove much of the length of Indiana to visit IU-Bloomington (more on that in another post). The thing that struck me almost immediately was how flat the place is. From the northern border to just north of Indianapolis, the state is so flat it looks concave. I swear you can see the curvature of the Earth if you stare at the horizon. If one bathtub overflowed in Gary, the water would swamp everything from Ft. Wayne to Terre Haute.

They make flat in Indiana and ship it to other places. In its own way the flatness is mesmerizing. Driving down highway 69 looking out over the cornfields I swear I saw Cary Grant being chased by a crop duster. I would have been able to confirm it was Cary Grant except the other thing Indiana is now famous for got in my way.

I've never seen so many billboards in my life. They are everywhere. They are in the cities, in the towns in the middle of no place cornfields. There are decrepit collapsing wooden ones, there are two-tier riveted steel monstrosities. They are of course noticeable because it's so dang FLAT!!!

Occasionally, the placement led to some interesting juxtapositioning. There was the billboard for the unfortunately named and quality confused "Butt Hut - Indiana's Cheapest Cigarettes", followed almost immediately by the billboard for "Witham Health Centers New Cancer Treatment Wing". Smart move, get your new customers right after they pick up their last carton.

Flat state, flat signs, got me thinking about flat food. The only thing I had in inventory that is remotely flat is Veal Cutlets with Marsala Cream Sauce. This is a twist on traditional Veal Marsala in that it adds some heavy cream towards the end. I only add half a cup of heavy cream, others may want a little more. just make sure and adjust the seasoning on the sauce. Enjoy...


Veal Cutlets with Creamy Marsala Sauce
by Crabby

8 veal cutlets pounded thin, about 1 1/2 pounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBSP Salt
2 teaspoons pepper
3 TBSP olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms, preferably cremini
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 cup dry Marsala
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place the flour, salt and pepper in a large re-sealable bag. Seal the bag and shake well to combine.

Open the bag and add 1/2 the veal. Seal and shake to coat. Shake off any excess flour and place the cutlets on a large plate. Repeat for the remainder of the veal.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high. When the oil is shimmering add the cutlets forming a single layer. If necessary work in batches. Saute the veal two minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter and cover with foil while you finish cooking the remaining veal.

Once the veal is done, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When hot add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes tossing occasionally. Add the garlic and shallots and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the wine and broth. Bring to a boil and scrape up any brown bits attached to the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and turn to a simmer. Return the veal cutlets and any collected juices to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning, the sauce may need salt.

Serve the cutlets, napping each plate with sauce and mushrooms.


Flat food inspired by a flat state. I'm outta here crablings, see you next time. Remember you can do it you can cook.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Company Pot Roast

Good crowd, about 300 people.

My left leg is jumpy, tapping out a constant nameless rhythm on the theater floor. It's a variety show, 8 skits in the first act, 9 more in the second.

Stage ready. Lights come down. Show begins.

CrabCake2 doesn't come on until halfway through the second act. The show is full of his friends, more than a few of whom have been over to the house. But CC2's going solo tonight, he seems fine, a lot of nervous energy, but nothing you'd call stage fright.

Intermission. Cookies and juice.

He's been rehearsing. He's done this before. To him the whole event feels somewhat old hat.

Lights come down. He walks on stage. Lights come up. He plays.

I'm a wreck.

He has talent by the bucketful. Kids who couldn't care less about classical music listen in rapt silence. Five minutes thirty seconds later it's over. The audience erupts.

Afterwards parents and administrators come up and congratulate SSSal and me as if we had something to do with it. I'll admit it, reflected glory gives off a pleasant warmth.

Sometimes you just want a warm comforting meal. A meal that feels good just thinking about it. Company Pot Roast fits the bill. This is Ina Garten's version which seems to fall halfway between old fashioned pot roast and beef bourguignon. Enjoy...


Company Pot Roast
from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa

1 (4-5 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour
Olive Oil
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups dry red wine, preferably red burgundy
2 TBSP cognac or brandy
1 large (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
3 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees

Pat the beef dry. Season the roast with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper. Dredge the roast in flour.

In a large dutch oven or Le Creuset heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear 4-5 minutes. Turn and sear the other side and the ends 4 minutes per side. Transfer the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper. Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine and cognac. Bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together using kitchen string. Add the herbs to the pot.

Return the roast to the pot, bring to a boil and cover. Place into the oven and cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour turn down the oven temperature to 250 degrees and cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

After 2 1/2 hours, remove from the oven and transfer the roast to a platter and lightly cover with foil. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Using a stick blender roughly process the sauce to your desired consistency.

Return the dutch oven to the stove top and warm over medium heat. While the dutch oven is warming, blend 2 tablespoons of flour with the 1 tablespoon of room temperature butter, (NOTE: This is a thickening agent known as a Beurre Marnier).

Add the beurre marnier to the sauce and bring to a boil. boil for 2 minutes, the sauce will thicken.

Slice the roast and ladle on sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes to get every bit of the sauce.


OK this is a great recipe for a cold autumn day. So turn on the TV, watch some baseball or football or listen to classical music, just remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Braised Swiss Chard

This is the second version of today's opening. I asked SSSal to review the first and her response was, "Boy, you are Crabby today". So after much grumbling and mumbling, I've made a few (nearly complete) changes to the opening.

The truth is I've got no particular story for today. No amusing bon mot. No compelling insight into the human condition. I woke up grumpy and I just started typing. The results weren't pretty and I promise there were absolutely no prisoners taken. While I fully subscribe to the attitude: "If you have nothing nice to say about someone sit next to me", I'll not vent on you, the faithful members of Crab Nation.

Instead I'm just going to give you a somewhat bitter recipe to go with my acrid mood. Swiss Chard seems to be all the rage this time of year for reasons that are just beyond me. It is bitter, it takes comparatively forever to cook and the results aren't all that great when you're done. But, supposedly the stuff is good for you. Besides, it's cold, the leaves are turning and winter's icy grip is just a few weeks away, why not go for something bitter and vaguely sour? So here's Braised Swiss Chard, a Giada recipe that has enough other ingredients to actually make the result palatable. So don't like it, like it, don't enjoy, enjoy...


Braised Swiss Chard
from Giada De Laurentiis' Family Dinners

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large red onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large bunches of Swiss Chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until tender, approximately 8 minutes.

Add 1/3 of the chard and saute until it begins to wilt. Continue adding chard until it begins to wilt before adding more.

Add the tomatoes, soy sauce, broth and red pepper flakes.

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer, stirring often, until the chard is very tender, about 12 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.


OK crablings, that's it, no story, no big intros. Remember you can do it, you can cook.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Swordfish with Citrus Pesto

So I'm watching the TV this morning to see how NASA is going to blow up a chunk of the moon and nothing happens. You know, nothing. No KAPOW!!!, no BLOOEY!!! Nothing. The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, the Travel Channel, everyone is waiting for the big something and...

Nothing.

Zip.

Nada.

Now I admit a certain glee in watching preening Matt Lauer and clueless Meredith Viera suddenly have to explain why nothing happened after they spent the last two days promoting the event like it was Armageddon II. They trotted out some poor scientist to explain why nothing happened. The guy gave it his best shot, but it's really hard to talk about, nothing. Believe me I have to do it twice a week and there is many a time when I struggle to come up with something to write about.

Of course, the experts and the network talking heads overlook the most obvious explanation. The reason there was no explosion is because, as any child can tell you, the Moon is made of cheese. Cheese does not spew rocks and hydrogen atoms when hit by a large SUV traveling at 6,000 miles an hour. No! Slam into a continent-size piece of Brie at that speed and you'll be sucked under in picoseconds.

As you read this, Moonie Men are sipping port and nibbling on the Moon and crackers, wondering who the driver was of the NASA 2009 Explorer that slammed into their neighbor Harry's crater. Get real folks, it's the only reasonable explanation.

Today's recipe has nothing to do with the Moon or cheese. The best I can come up with is a vague affiliation to water. Today I'm making Swordfish with a Citrus Pesto. The star of this recipe is the pesto. Though it's a bit tart, it does give the fish a fresh acidic bite. So sit back, look up at the moon and enjoy...


Swordfish with Citrus Pesto
by Giada De Laurentiis with minor adjustments by Crabby

2 cups fresh basil leaves, stemmed
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese


1 1/2 pound swordfish steak
1 TBSP cooking oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Blend the basil, pine nuts, garlic, citrus zests, juices, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Process until until the mixture is finely chopped.

With the machine running, slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture until it is smooth and creamy.

Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Set Aside.


Pre-heat your gas grill over medium-high heat.

Brush both sides of the swordfish with the tablespoon of cooking oil. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.

Grill the swordfish about 4 minutes per side (assuming approximately a 1 inch thickness).

Transfer the fish to a serving platter and top with the citrus pesto.


All in all a very simple recipe. I upped the amount of olive oil slightly and you may want to add some extra pepper depending on your taste.

I'll see you in a few days, let's all hope that the NASA satellites didn't dislodge some sort of Moon Flu that's rocketing it's way in our direction as we speak. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.




Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicken Thigh Stew with Sweet Potatoes

Years ago when I was but a fledgling crabby cook, I was working for a major multinational computer company. Back then they hired college grads by the dozen, dumped them into an outpost on the frontier of commerce and waited to see what happened.

The result was an environment of creativity, aggressive thought and even more aggressive partying. But old college habits die hard and when Thanksgiving rolled around people assumed they could just buzz out on Tuesday and be back at their desk on Monday. Well it didn't and doesn't work that way in the real world. When a group of us realized we wouldn't be able to get home for Thanksgiving and be back at our jobs on Friday!!, we decided to have our own feast.

On paper this made all the sense in the world. Surely a group of college educated individuals could cook a turkey, mash some potatoes and whip up some gravy. Well by now you can guess that things didn't quite turn out that way. The bird had to be the greasiest thing Farmer Brown had ever created. There was a pool of fat floating atop the drippings sufficient to heat a three bedroom house for 6 months.

Lacking the utensils to skim this amount of fat we were left to our own creative devices. Somehow, in the stupor of a few glasses of wine, we fell upon an idea to use iceberg lettuce leaves (the only lettuce widely available back in the day, no fancy Romaine then) to scoop off the fat. This works fine for two scoops, or until the heat of the grease cooks the leaves, wilting them into a greasy, green mess. Two heads of lettuce later and the roasting pan still looked like the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez, but now with floating green bits.

In spite of that disaster, the meal became a tradition of sorts and I went on to internet fame and no fortune as a CrabbyCook. I still believe in creativity, but I admit to having more kitchen gizmos than I could possibly use. So stick to the basics, cook the ingredients the fridge gives you and remember there's always tomorrow's meal.

Today's recipe is one of my "boy it's late in the day, what am I making for dinner tonight" meals. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be substituted for just about any stew recipe you care to try. They cook up faster, but also taste great if you have the time to let them stew for a few hours. Please enjoy...


Chicken Thigh Stew with Sweet Potatoes
by CrabbyCook

1 TBSP olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 small hot (jalapeno type) pepper, seeded, deveined and diced
1 sweet pepper (yellow or red), chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 14 ounce can tomatoes sauce
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 cup low sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup frozen peas


Heat oil in a dutch oven (Le Creuset) over medium heat.

Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add the hot and sweet peppers and saute an additional minute.

Add all the other ingredients except the frozen peas. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Add frozen peas during the last 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over rice.


OK, the thing about this recipe is that it's a great way to clean out the pantry. This meal is perfect for a cold autumn night.

Alright crablings, I'm outta here, remember, iceberg lettuce is a lousy fat skimmer and, you can do it you can cook.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Patty Pan Squash with Prosciutto

I like the shift of seasons. I just wish it would take a little longer than half an hour to complete. Two days ago it was shorts and polo shirts, this morning it was a sweatshirt plus a jacket, all so I could take the dog out.

Believe me, he didn't want to be out there anymore than I did. I had to make him stay out to do all his business since I didn't want to go back out later. It got really bad when he got to the mailbox. It was dark, drizzly and gusty. Poor little guy lifted his leg and nearly went airborne. He looked like a kite ready for take off.

With Fall here it's time to start thinking about seasonal cooking. The Farmers' Market is full of squashes. I hate squashes. But of course everyone else in the house loves the stuff. So in an effort to promote familial harmony, I have learned to choke down patty pan squash.

Patty pan squash are little discs of squash that have a higher crunchy skin to mushy flesh ratio. That's about the only thing that makes them tolerable. Patty Pan Squash with Prosciutto is my own invention, primarily driven by the idea that anything is tolerable if you prep it with bacon. Please enjoy...


Patty Pan Squash with Prosciutto
by Crabby

Assorted Patty Pan Squash, approximately 1/2 pound
4 ounces diced prosciutto
1 pound diced tomatoes, (or substitute (1) 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes)
Herb de Provence to taste


Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot add the diced prosciutto and cook for 3 minutes to render the fat from the prosciutto.

Add the patty pan squash and partially cover the pan. Fry the squash for 5 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to turn the squash.

After 5 minutes, add the diced tomatoes and any collected juices. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Remove from heat and season with Herb de Provence to taste, or substitute your favorite herbs. Serve.


Very easy and low maintenance compared to many recipes. Better still it's something you can do while the main course is cooking.

Alright, I'm outta here. Until next time, remember you can do it you can cook.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sole with Orange Brown Butter

This little piggy went to market...

Nothing makes people fearful like fear.

This little piggy stayed home...

Because he wasn't feeling too well

This little piggy had roast beef...

I went to CC2's parent welcome back to school event last night and the consistent topic of conversation was H1N1, aka Swine Flu. Everyone, from teachers to administrators talked about Swine Flu. They've established new protocols to deal with kids missing classes for up to a week. There's a new online system to keep everyone up to date on assignments and workload. At every turn parents were asked to keep their students home at the first sign of illness.

And this little piggy went "cough, cough, cough" all the way home.

Let's remember one thing folks: So far, swine flu has been much, much tamer than the regular flu. You're much more likely to have a "terminal" case of regular flu than you are of Swine Flu. So please, let's all just relax a bit. Just do what your mother and grandma always told you, wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids and have a healthy diet.

See, it all comes back to eating well. You wouldn't put crappy gas into your car, so don't do the same to yourself. So today let's eat well. Let's have some fish, after all it's brain food and if you're sick missing work or school you'll need all the brain help you can get. Sole with Orange Brown Butter is a little messy but very tasty. Don't worry about the butter, just spoon some onto the fish. Enjoy...


Sole with Orange Brown Butter
adapted by Crabby from epicurious.com

1 pound sole filets (catfish and tilapia are great substitutes)
Salt & Pepper
1 cup flour for dusting
3 TBSP cooking oil
8 TBSP (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium shallot minced
1/4 cup orange juice
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice


Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.

Place flour onto a large dinner plate.

Season the filets with salt and pepper.

Heat half of the oil over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating dredge the fish in the flour. Shake off any excess flour. Gently place the fish into the hot oil and saute on the first side for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Gently flip the fish and saute for 1 to 2 minutes or until just done.

Transfer the fish to an oven safe platter and place in the warm oven.

Add the remaining oil and butter and cook over high heat until the butter starts to foam. Add the shallot and cook until golden brown and the butter has taken on a pale brown color, about 1 minute. Add the orange juice and cook an additional minute. Add the lemon juice, when the butter foams again remove the sauce from the heat. Adjust the seasoning.

Place a piece of fish on each plate and drizzle with the butter sauce. Serve immediately.


The messy part of this meal is the flour dredging. The tough part of the cooking is standing there and watching the butter brown. Fight the urge to turn down the heat, you want this to get perilously close to burning. You want that nutty buttery flavor on the fish.

OK crablings, cover your mouths while eating. Wash your hands and remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Braised Broccoli Rabe

Out with the bad air, in with the good.

Out with the bad air, in with the good.

Apparently some of you in Crab Nation feel I'm a little too bitter about these food contests. You think I take them too seriously and that I need to relax.

"It's just a cake", you write.

"It's only barbecue sauce, after all", says another.

BAH!

Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser!

I'm not complaining about losing a fair fight. I'm complaining about the fix. I'm complaining about losing a BBQ Sauce contest where the winner had more votes than attendees. I'm complaining about SSSal and ConnecticutJane losing a cake baking contest to some pieces of PAPER!!!!

Beat me fair and square and I'm fine. Sock me in the chops, I'm OK with that, so long as I get to give you a shot in return. But set the rules and then pick a winner who doesn't play by them? That just really cracks my claws. Well, I've learned my lesson. No more contests for me. From now on it's cook, photograph, eat and write. You aren't going to have this crustacean to kick around anymore.

So in celebration of ridding myself of a potential source of bitterness, today I'm presenting one of the more bitter vegetables out there, Broccoli Rabe (aka Rapini). I've tried prepping this stuff many times and have never understood the attraction. I've read all these articles and cookbooks waxing poetic about Tuscan sunsets and the sweet bite of rapini, but I've never produced anything that left me desperate to go to Italy to try the original. This recipe is better than most, it uses pancetta or bacon as a flavoring agent and the braising liquid ends up quite tasty. So please enjoy...


Braised Broccoli Rabe
mostly from Emeril Lagasse

1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini)
2 TBSP olive oil
3 ounces chopped pancetta (substitute bacon if pancetta is unavailable)
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt for the boiling water

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the broccoli rabe and blanch for 5 minutes. After boiling, drain and set aside the rabe.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the pancetta, saute for 4 - 5 minutes until lightly crispy.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 2 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. NOTE: Do not allow the garlic to burn, it will become bitter.

Add the rabe and the chicken stock to the pan. Mix to combine then partially cover the pan. Simmer the rabe for 5 - 7 minutes until it becomes tender.

Adjust seasoning. Serve with a spoonful of the cooking liquid.


OK, that's a very easy recipe. It's also perfect to make while your roast or grilled beast is resting.

Alrighty crablings, I'm leaving now, see you in a few days. Until then remember you can do it, you can cook.


Friday, September 18, 2009

What is A Cake?

Let's face it, I'm a bomb thrower. I like to rile things up. I like to poke the bear just to see how long it takes before he swats me. If you need rabble roused I'm your Crab.

Last weekend there was an edible book contest at a local stationary/kitchen store. It was part of an annual book festival and the rules said that entries should consist of cakes depicting the baker's favorite book. Well, after the Crabby-Q-Sauce debacle, Crabby doesn't roll with contests. But of course SSSal wanted to give it a try.

So early in the week SSSal and ConnecticutJane got together to brainstorm ideas. CTJane wanted to go for a classic approach while SSSal wanted to think of something a bit more contemporary. It was decided that they would have two entries. The first was a stack of three cookbooks topped by the Joy of Cooking in white cake and white icing.

Now this is a great idea until you suddenly realize that you have to recreate an 1100 page book using nothing but eggs, sugar, butter and flour. Enter technology. There is a local baking shop that has the ability to spray paint food coloring onto fondant. For those of you who don't bake or don't watch Cake Boss, fondant is a rollable, pliable icing that can be colored, molded and draped over cakes. It's that sickly layer of pure sugar that bakers use to form animals, leaves, brides and grooms and just about anything else they can think of.

So with the drawing of the cover solved it became an easy task to bake the cake and then drape the fondant cover over it. The contemporary cake however, was proving to be more of a challenge. SSSal struggled to come up with a creative idea. She knew she couldn't compete with the artistic bakers, so she needed a cake that caught the eye and the mind. She needed something "edgy". Enter CrabCake2.

In the space of a few seconds CC2 had the idea to end all bookstore-sponsored-edible-book-based-cake-contest ideas.

"Why not make a cake that looks like an Amazon Kindle?"

Huh? That's brilliant! It's futuristic. It's technologically savvy. It's controversial. It's edgy with a capital "E"!

OK, the Kindle it is, but what book on the screen? We turned to CC2 in unison, he paused, why Fahrenheit 451 of course. A book about burning books on a piece of technology that's eliminating the need for books. God, sometimes your kids make you so proud!

Batter, icing, food coloring sprayed fondant, black and gray candy tombstone buttons, a few hours work and SSSal was ready. The creation was entered with the title "What is A Book?".

Ann Arbor is a very liberal town; it's sometimes referred to as The People's Republic of Ann Arbor, but even liberals have their limits. Apparently taking a cake fashioned after an e-reader that threatens to put bookstores out of business is a bit of a faux pas. Well, if you ask me art is supposed to make people feel a little uncomfortable.

As we sat there in the background, we overheard a variety of comments. Mostly people fell into two categories, those that didn't know what a Kindle was and those who really liked the concept. SSSal didn't win any awards but as we were carrying her entry away a number of people came up and congratulated her on the idea.

The winner? Oddly enough the winner wasn't even a cake. It was a booklet with pages stained using fruit and vegetable juices on hand made paper produced by an employee of the store. Yeah, that's right, hand made paper from a store employee. Who would have guessed?

It doesn't matter. SSSal and CC2 made their cultural statement and we're just now finishing up the cake. As far as I'm concerned that's a win-win situation.

Back to cooking on the next post, until then remember, you can do it, you can cook.


P.S. Those of you interested in buying an Amazon Kindle please type Kindle into the Amazon search box on the left hand side of this page and hit Go. Crabby will receive a meager commission on your purchase and you'll be getting the latest and greatest in reading technology.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gazpacho

I'm in full deluge mode: hip-waders, mask, snorkel, forklift. The garden is in its final run. Things are ripening at a frightening rate. I can actually hear the deck groaning under the weight of all the vegetables.

This time of year is a reminder that no good deed goes unpunished. I have so many bits of self-produced produce I'm running out of places to store it. I don't "do" canning. Canning is just putting off the inevitable. If I'm not going to eat the stuff now, I'm certainly not going to eat it in February. No, there will be no exploding jars in the Crabby household. We grow now, we eat now.

This time of year that leads me down a path perilously close to vegetarianism. I'm constantly on the look out for recipes that consume huge amounts of vegetables. The family is getting sick of fresh pasta sauce and after 8 loaves, no one in their right minds wants to look at another zucchini bread.

The one consolation is that I know that it's not too long before the oven's going to be cranking out all sorts of roast beasties. So fatten up my ovine, bovine, porcine and avian friends, Crabby's going carnivorous very, very soon. But not today.

Today's recipe is Gazpacho. Gazpacho is one of those recipes that seems to have a million variations. I interpret that to mean, no matter what you do, you can't screw up. I prefer a smoother texture, so I run most of the tomatoes through a food mill but I leave the other vegetables bite size. It's a nice combination of textures and it plows through a heck of a lot of produce, so please enjoy...


Gazpacho
adapted and adjusted by Crabby from a number of different recipes


Necessary Equipment: A Food Mill

3 pounds ripe tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium red onion, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
1/2 green pepper, seeded and chopped to small dice
1/2 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped to small dice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Optional Garnish/Serving Ingredients

5 large basil leaves in chiffonade
Sour Cream
Ripe Avocado slices

Choose 1 pound of the largest tomatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water boils, immerse the 1 pound of tomatoes and return to a boil. As soon as the skin on the tomatoes splits, remove them from the water and allow to cool on a small plate. Optionally, if you don't own a food mill, you can prep all the tomatoes this way, though it is much more time consuming and messy.

After they have cooled for five minutes and working over a large bowl, carefully pick up the tomatoes and remove the skins by hand. Transfer the tomatoes to a cutting board and roughly chop the flesh, removing any seeds.

Transfer the chopped tomatoes and any collected juices to the large glass bowl.

Quarter the remaining tomatoes. Working in batches over the glass bowl, pass the quartered tomatoes through a food mill, capturing the meat and juices. Discard the residual skins and seeds caught by the food mill.

After processing the tomatoes add the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate the soup and allow it to sit for at least 2 hours. The flavors will mesh over time. Adjust seasoning just prior to serving.



How about that! Now I'm not going to lie; I have a hand crank food mill and this soup can be a messy workout, but the results are worth it.

Alright crablings, I'm outta here. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grilled Ginger-Garlic Pork

It's that time of year. You get up in the morning and you're freezing. You put on jeans, a polo and a sweatshirt.

Then the problems start.

By 10:30 the skies are clear, there's no breeze, it's 80 degrees and you're schvitzing like an Airedale. It's shoulder season crablings. It's not summer, it's not autumn. It's both!

You can tell all the other people who keep roughly your schedule just by hanging out at a Starbucks around 1 PM. The early risers are wearing long everything - shirts, pants, socks. The late rising lay-abouts stroll in wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. You don't need to ask who has a job and who doesn't: If you see knees, they're unemployed.

Well it's no different when it comes to cooking. This time of year I just can't decide what I want to make. I get up in the morning and that little bit of a chill has me thinking about cranking up the oven. Then the temp rises 30 degrees and I'm wondering how I'm gonna grill a pot roast? Today's recipe is one of those scrambling plays. Grilled Ginger-Garlic Pork has that vaguely Asian taste that I love so much. Augment it with Mustard Dipping Sauce and you have a nice little dinner, so drop the sweatshirt and enjoy...


Grilled Ginger-Garlic Pork
adapted from www.theotherwhitemeat.com (no, seriously)

4 boneless pork loin chops or pork cutlets

Marinade

1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 TBSP chopped parsley
1 TBSP grated ginger
1/4 cup red wine
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Dipping Sauce

1 TBSP dry mustard
5 TBSP soy sauce
3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup minced green onions for garnish (optional)


Place all the marinade ingredients into a large re-sealable bag. Zip closed and shake well to mix. Add the pork, reseal and refrigerate at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.

Remove the pork from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Preheat your grill to medium-high.

When hot, grill the pork to desired doneness. Assuming a 1 inch thick chop, grill for 3 - 4 minutes per side. Set aside and loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.

While the chops are resting, whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients in a medium bowl.

Slice the chops and drizzle with the dipping sauce and scatter with the minced green onions (optional).



There you go crablings. The first sorta, kinda fall-ish recipe in a while. Stay tuned, there'll be more coming.

Alrighty then, I'm outta here, until next time, remember you can do it you can cook.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cauliflower Salad with Roasted Red Pepper

The Farmer's Market in Ann Arbor is an embarrassment of riches. Other places we've lived you'd be lucky to have 3 or 4 lonely pick-up trucks selling the same tired vegetables to the same grumbling customers every week. But here in AA we have more producers-farmers-vendors than we know what to do with.

I've never been able to come up with an official count, but I'm guessing there are between 40 and 50 vendors selling their self-produced wares. We've got mom and pop types selling homemade jams and jellies. We've got family farms that have been producing and selling for decades. We've got Amish selling everything from pies and breads to vegetables and pork. We may even have a few Druids floating around selling mead, but I never visit the back reaches of the market, so I can't swear to that.

The other thing I notice is the changing colors. In June it's all green as the asparagus sweeps through. Blue and yellow take over as all the berries ripen and the corn grown sufficiently high. In August, from a distance the place looks like a giant collection of nuclear raspberries. Then you get up close and realize it's a sea of tomatoes.

Of course, to me the tomatoes are the first sign of fall. Like Robins in spring, tomatoes are Mother Nature's warning buzzer screaming "Enjoy it while you can; the harvest is just about over".

But today I'm not making anything tomato; today we're making another vegetable that's also a sure sign of impending winter. So what is today's harbinger of weather death? Cauliflower!!!

Wait, wait, don't run away. I know what you're thinking, "No way Crabs, I hate cauliflower". Well I hate it too, but of course SSSal loves it. So we've spent many years trying to come up with good recipes. This recipe is one we just discovered and while it won't turn you into a cauliflower advocate, at least you'll be able to choke it down without too much complaining. So, start thinking winter clothing while you enjoy...


Cauliflower Salad with Roasted Red Pepper
inspired by The Silver Spoon

1 large white cauliflower, cut into flowerets
juice of 1 lemon, strained
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
6 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar is acceptable), drained and chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Pinch of Chili powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh Oregano + more for garnish
Salt & Pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place the cauliflower florets into the boiling water and parboil for 6 - minutes, until just tender.

Drain well and set aside.

While the cauliflower is draining, mix together the lemon juice, lemon rind, olive oil, chopped red pepper, chopped garlic, chili powder and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the cauliflower in a large serving bowl. Add the dressing and stir gently to coat. Allow the cauliflower to rest for 1 hour before serving. NOTE: Every 15 minutes or so, gently stir the cauliflower to redistribute the dressing.


This is a very easy recipe and will appeal to the cauliflower hater in most families, (read: Crabby). Prepare it for your next football tailgate.

I'm out crablings, until next time remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Caramelized Onions

"Ahhh, can everyone hear me? Can you understand me? Am I talking good?"

Ooh, ah well, no, you're not exactly "talking good". Speaking well perhaps, but not talking good.

For much of the past two weeks, CrabCake2 and I have been visiting colleges, attending information sessions and taking tours. He's still a year away from actually applying, but with so many choices out there we thought it would be a good idea to visit a few places and see if there was any particular type of school that caught his eye.

"Today's presentation will go over some of the perkquisits that are necessary for admission to MSMoo. If you pay attention to these perkquisits, your application to MSMoo won't go bad."

Ouch. Actually it's prerequisites and I'm sure if we pay attention to those prerequisites things won't go badly.

This is my second go-round on the magical mystery college campus tour. I was hoping that five years would have improved the process. I was misinformed.

"My name is Mary Loo Hoo and I work in the Admissions Office here at MSMoo. I graduated from here two years ago and I'm working in Admissions while I'm studying here to get my Masters Degree in Education."

Oh, God. It was at this point that I elbowed CrabCake2 in order to get him to stop giggling. Doesn't anyone form the Admissions Office come in and watch these presentations? Do they have any idea about the message and image they're sending?

OK, I understand I'm a bit of an English snob. I'm not anal-retentive about it; I don't get worked up if someone does or doesn't use a semi-colon properly. I'm more than happy to dangle the occasional participle. But come on, good versus well, adverbs ending in -ly, is that so much to ask? Especially of a Masters in Education candidate?

Sigh. At least CrabCake2 noticed the mistakes.

I'm getting old.

Well, let's try and spruce things up a bit. Sometimes my creativity disappears and I resort to sleight of hand. Today's recipe is one of those tricks. Caramelized Onions is one of those condiments that everyone oohs and aahs over. It gives just about any meal a certain sophistication that goes far beyond the work involved. So please enjoy...


Caramelized Onions
by Crabby

2 pounds sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, thinly sliced
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBSP dark brown sugar
Salt & Pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Add the butter and olive oil to a large saute pan. Melt the butter over medium heat. As the foam begins to subside add the sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper, (about a 1/2 teaspoon of each). Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the brown sugar and stir to distribute. Continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes, until the onions soften and turn a brown color.

For a little added zing add some balsamic vinegar during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Serve either warm or at room temperature.


OK, this recipe is something that can happen while you're doing other things in the kitchen. The result works with most any grilled meat, not to mention a nice spread for sandwiches.

OK crablings, I'm gone for today; more stories from the higher education front lines later. As always, remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm Alive

Hi Crablings!

No, I haven't been abducted by aliens. I've been traveling a bit these last few days (week), but I'll be back tomorrow, September 3rd, with a recipe and a story. See you then!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Sorry about the delays this week crablings, been having some minor technical difficulties.

The tomato harvest is in full inundation mode. We've picked over 20 in the last few days and there are plenty more still on the vine, nagging me with their redness. Time to start making a dent.

I detest sun-dried tomatoes. I just don't get the concept. Take a sweet ripe tomato, slice it open and then leave it in the sun until it takes on the tensile strength of leather. Yum, yum, yum.

Why would you do that? Well Crabby, it concentrates the flavors, you say. No it doesn't, especially if I'm distracted by my teeth grinding on the flesh.

Well, it's a way to preserve them, you say. So what, I answer. If the stuff doesn't taste like summer, it the stuff ends up not even vaguely resembling an actual tomato why not just make a huge batch of tomato sauce and be done with it?

Sigh, just because it's been done for centuries and just because it's from the "old country" doesn't mean it's a good idea. I mean look at lutefisk for goodness sake.

As in many cases, SSSal disagrees with my opinion. Thankfully we have been able to come up with a compromise solution. Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes are baked at a low temperature so that some of the water is released. But they aren't cooked for so long that they become shoe leather. If you scrape the flesh from the skins it's actually a very tasty condiment. So without further adieu, please enjoy...


Oven Roasted Roma Tomatoes
by SSSal


14 Roma tomatoes
3 gloves garlic, quartered
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Thyme leaves
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Halve the tomatoes and place them, cut side up, in a single layer on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle the garlic quarters among the tomatoes. Drizzle the garlic and tomatoes with the olive oil.

Generously salt and pepper the vegetables.

Sprinkle the thyme leaves atop.

Roast at 250 degrees for 1 hour. After 1 hour, reduce the temperature to 200 degrees and roast for an additional 2 hours.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Gently peel the skin from the tomatoes prior to serving.

Serving suggestions: add to sauces, as a spread on bread or toast or as part of a roast vegetable platter.

Pretty simple crablings. Slice, sprinkle, roast for three hours. You can't call that work!

I'm outta here for now. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.