Surprise Meals

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I think this week we really hit the Jackpot with some meals that we made. These are a real surprise and delicious. We liked them all! But then too, Shepard’s Pie is a favorite of every ones. I don’t particularly like yogurt, but the Mango Lassi that I had at a local Indian restaurant, the Bombay Grill in Boise, was absolutely delicious. And the Shrimp Omelet for dinner was a treat. Look at these. Enjoy.

The Breakfast for Dinner was simply a Shrimp Omelet with Campfire Potatoes, Toasted CROW Bread from Acme Bakeshop here in Boise and some Mandarin Orange sections. A standard 2 egg omelet, some 16-20 count shrimp cut into fourths and sauteed in butter with garlic powder and Old Bay seasoning and Eric’s Campfire Potatoes. No particular recipe. Play Chopped of the Kitchen and make do with what you have. I use an 8″ porcelain skillet for mine and clean the pan between omelets. (We have been on 5 cruises and I always watched the Line Chef make omelets to see how it is done. They always used a fresh skillet between omelets!) 

Mango Lassi

I do not like yogurt. But now, I can’t really say that anymore. This was delicious and I was introduced to it at the Bombay Grill, an Indian restaurant, here in Boise. The recipe, Mango Lassi, is really easy and the ingredients are probably available at your local grocery store. You can use either fresh mango or you can use mango pulp. Just remember that mango pulp has sugar added, so taste the pulp before adding sugar in the blender. Chill the drink and enjoy! It’s delicious!.

Celery, Candied Pecan and Apple Spring Mix Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Now this salad is absolutely delicious. The celery is cut super thin on the bias and the apple is sliced thin also. Not a difficult recipe and including getting everything prepped, it it takes about 30 minutes to make. Love the Spring Mix greens. Different flavor levels and textures. The recipe, Celery, Pecan, Apple Salad. And the recipe calls for Candied Pecans, so make your own Candied Pecansf. Not hard to do. You will love this salad. We have pared it with a Classic Shepard’s Pie as pictured above.

Classic Shepard’s Pie

And this Classic Shepard’s Pie was fantastic! Here is the recipe Classic Shepard’s Pie Such a classic meal and one that we all like. Easy to do. Traditionally it was made with lamb, but some folks mix 50/50 lamb and beef. They also use 100% beef. But we prefer the traditional lamb way. The potatoes are not peeled and are cut into small chunks to cook. Makes them easier to mash when they are smaller pieces. Just make them creamy smooth so they spread on the top easily.

Enjoy these meals and sides. We did.

Two Interesting Meal Ideas

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Here are two dishes we made this past week. Both are delicious and fairly easy to do, especially the salmon. Take a look.

The first is a baked salmon dish that does not have a specific recipe. This time we used a local Golden Plum Jam, but normally I use a MacKays Orange Marmalade. Just make sure the salmon is dry before you spread the jam, or marmalade, on the fish. Lightly salt and pepper the fish before adding the jam and then bake for about 7 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. Enjoy.

Golden Plum Jam or Orange Marmalade Coated Salmon served on a bed of Steamed Red Chard and Spinach.

Next we have a delicious venison backstrap pan roast with a special Blackberry Jam Sauce. A mixture of reduced blackberry jam, made from fresh blackberries from our daughter’s bushes last fall, and a good balsamic vinegar and apple cider. (See the recipe) OK. So your question is, “What is backstrap?”

Venison backstraps are a cut of meat that is found along the back of a deer; alongside the spine. They are often confused with a tenderloin cut of meat. While they aren’t the same as a tenderloin, they are considered one of the most tender cuts of meat of a deer. Also, known as striploin. There are 2 ways of dealing with a venison saddle, the most common is to prepare a venison backstrap or striploin. The difference between backstrap and tenderloin is, backstrap refers to a length of loin on the back of a deer, elk, moose, etc. It’s the ribeye in beef and loin in pork. Tenderloins are the two strips of very tender meat under the loin, behind the ribs.

Venison Backstrap plated with Asparagus and Mashed Garlic Potatoes

This dish would be awesome with a pork tenderloin, if you don’t have venison. Use the same recipe that is linked under the photo of the venison. If you use pork tenderloin, serve it with beets, either whole small beets or sliced, or sauteed cabbage.

Coq au Vin for Valentines

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Coq au Vin, Rooster in Wine, was my choice this year to make for Robin, my wife of almost 40 years, and Marnie, my daughter. It’s not for the faint of heart. It takes some ambition and time. But it is well worth it. Delicious!

Just a few suggestions. Prep your ingredients first. I suggest paper bowls for your prep work. Take your time and don’t rush through this. If you are thinking of using an Instant Pot, try, instead, a large cast-iron skillet, at least 2″ deep and a glass lid, you can’t watch the cooking through a solid lid. The dish takes almost a constant vigil.

I used a package of frozen Pearl Onions instead of fresh ones that I would have to peel; heirloom carrots instead of the orange ones; Courvoisier Cognac instead of brandy; dried morel mushrooms reconstituted in the wine used for the dish instead of button mushrooms; pork belly cut into strips instead of bacon and for the beurre manie, I just added to the oil in the pan some flour for thickening. For the chicken, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The original recipe, Julia Child’s, calls for you to cut up a chicken. (Still had to skin and de-bone the thighs.)

And this really needs to be emphasized: Watch your temperatures and don’t burn the sauce. Keep the liquid level just covering the chicken – use chicken stock, not broth, if necessary – and use a medium to low simmer temperature.

In my opinion, the dish has enough vegetables in it. So I did not use asparagus or rice to serve with it. I also served it with a dish of fresh cut fruit. Marnie had a Red Velvet Cake for dessert Try this and let us know what you think. We loved it.

Red Velvet Cake

Two Meals to Try

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Here are two meals we made. The first is probably one of the best alfredo sauces I have ever eaten. Not “gummy” with cheese, but rather clean and smooth. Shrimp went very well with the sauce. The second is an “Old Persons Meal”, of sorts. Fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes with pan dripping gravy and garden green beans. Enjoy these.

The recipe calls for penne pasta, but we didn’t have any. So we used linguini which worked very well. The shrimp really added to the dish – you could probably use any seafood, scallops, lobster or Dungeness crab might be good, or other protein. Use your imagination. 

The Alfredo was smooth and creamy and not grainy. It added to the shrimp we used and did not conflict with it. Several flavor levels came through that were delicious.

 

Fried Chicken

I have had problems when frying chicken, but this one seems to have over come that flaw. I added some baking powder to the flour that I used to coat the chicken and beaten egg to dredge the chicken in before the flour. We also made sure the chicken was dry before dredging. Cook slowly over medium high heat for about 5 minutes per side, taking care not to burn the chicken. Start cooking skin side down. We always use thighs, or second joints if you are on the East coast, bone-in and skin on.

The gravy was made from the pan drippings to which we added some flour and some wine. Made sure that was all mixed then added some half and half and completely combined to make the smooth gravy. It was delicious.

So there are two more meals from this past week. Next thing I am trying is Coq au Vin, Rooster in Wine. Probably not as good as Julia Child would do, but good nonetheless. Stay tuned and Good Eating!

2 Classic Dishes: Kielbasa and Pierogis and Pork Wontons

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Actually I have never made either of these dishes before, so this was an exciting trip! The idea for the kielbasa dish came from Rachael Ray, but I radically changed some of the ingredients by adding additional spices and herbs and eliminating others. The sauerkraut, for instance, was to be one with cumin and caraway and if you could not find one like that, adjust it by adding a “scant” teaspoon each. I went to a 2 teaspoons each and it was wonderful. I also added turmeric and Riesling wine. I guess that’s the German in me. Here is the recipe for our CS Kielbasa and Pierogi Combo dinner – http://www.rockinrs.com/CS-Kielbasa-Pierogi-Combo.pdf

Kielbasa and Pierogi Combo ready for the oven
Dinner is plated

The second dish we made, my wife Robin came up with this one, I definitely have never made. It takes some time and effort,  but I think well worth it. It’s basically, ground pork, not sausage, fresh ginger and garlic, Shoyu soy sauce (Japanese) and green onions wrapped in wonton pastry. Care must be taken when frying these and not burn them. They should be a light brown color. Here is the recipe for these – http://www.rockinrs.com/CS-Pork-Wontons.pdf.

 

Filling the wontons. You might want to use a little shredded Napa cabbage in each one too.
The wontons sealed and ready to cook. There is more than one way to seal these.
The wontons out of the fryer. Notice they are brown and not burned. Keep your eye on them while cooking. They will burn quickly.
Presentation plate with Shoyu soy sauce with grated ginger.

So there you have two more dishes to try. The wontons might just make a good appetizer or “tailgate food” for a sporting event. Enjoy!

Shrimp, Beets and Lamb

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No. Not all at the same time, except for one dish which is a combination of two items. But first, let’s talk about lamb. Many people don’t like lamb and I can appreciate that. But I’m not so sure that folks are confusing lamb and mutton, which come from the same animal. Here are some differences from masterclass.com. Hope this helps. It’s mostly about time.

Mutton and lamb are two types of meat from sheep at different life cycle stages. Here are the main differences between the two types of red meat:

  1. Age: The key difference between mutton and lamb meats is the animal’s age. While mutton refers to the meat of an older animal (typically around three years old), lamb is the meat of a young animal (often around a year old).
  2. Flavor: Lamb is a younger animal, so the meat hasn’t had time to develop as much flavor—thus, it is milder with a faint, grassy flavor. Alternatively, mutton comes from an older sheep with more fat and muscles, giving it a strong, gamey flavor similar to goat, venison, or wild boar.
  3. Preparation: Due to its toughness, mutton tastes best when cooked slowly, which you can do using a slow cooker, slow-roaster, or meat smoker. In Kentucky, chefs sometimes use the mutton of older sheep for barbecuing. Lamb, however, is a tender cut of meat that benefits from a range of cooking methods, including roasting, grilling, and braising.
  4. Texture: Mutton comes from older sheep that have had more time to develop dense muscles and fat content, resulting in tough meat that can be dry or chewy. Conversely, lamb hasn’t had the time to develop much connective tissue, so the meat is often more tender and moist.

This is a wonderful dish which is fruity and a delicious way to prepare lamb chops. Especially thick cut ones.  We get our lamb from Meadowlark Farms in Nampa, ID. The beets – home grown -, Harvard Beets, is from a recipe that Robin came up with and they are wonderful. You can find her recipe at Robin’s Harvard Beets. This makes a wonderful dinner and is a great paring. Any good, jammy Zinfandel will pair well with the lamb. We used a Once & Future Zinfandel (Joel Peterson)

 

Once again. A delicious Asian type Panko Sesame Shrimp with Broccoli. The photo shows broccolini. That’s all we had so we used it. I think broccoli florets, as the recipe calls for, would be much better. Broccolini tends to be a little “woody” and can be hard to eat. The original recipe called for ginger powder – I changed it to fresh grated ginger and also added some garlic cloves.

The next recipe I want to try is adapted from Rachael Ray, Kielbasa and Pierogi Tray Bake. Problem is, I am having a hard time locating frozen potato pierogis. She used red, yellow and orange peppers, but Robin can not “handle” those peppers, so I have changed it to Poblanos. She has no problem with Poblanos. I also will change the high hot pepper level to 4 drops of Sriracha, which should “tame” the dish, somewhat. We are not particularly fond of hot, spicy foods – Carolina Reapers, habanera or Thai Chilies – so we tend to go light on those hot spices. But you can adjust to your liking when I get the recipe complete.

Enjoy this post and the recipes. Good eating!

Update on Sources and New Dishes

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captains-shack-pipe-signed-Walkway-LMPI pretty much failed to list my sources in the Boise area for beef, pork, eggs and lamb. Some of them will even ship to you. Check the links.

For beef I am using 2 different sources. The newest source for some awesome beef products is Van Lith Ranch, http://vanlithranch.com 200 S Pennsylvania Ave, Fruitland, Idaho 83619. (208) 452-3826. We had a fabulous standing prime rib from them. “At Van Lith Ranch, we raise ultra-premium grass-fed, grain-finished beef here in Idaho. Our family ranch is located on the banks of the Payette River where three generations of Van Liths have been raising beef cattle for over 70 years. We use that generational knowledge and experience to hand-select only the highest of quality animals for our Van Lith Ranch line of meat and that personal attention and dedication shows in every mouthwatering bite.”

Another fabulous source for beef and pork is Malheur River Meats, http://malheurrivermeats.com 4276 John Day Hwy, Vale, OR 97918.(208) 573-1058. Awesome beef, but fantastic thick cut, bone in pork chops. They even have pork chops for stuffing which are cut even thicker. They carry eggs, too, in season. And, you can get a change in red meat by eating buffalo from Browns Buffalo Ranch in Nyssa,  https://cunninghampasturedmeats.com/vendors/browns-buffalo-ranch. Great meat, especially the steaks and hump roast.

For eggs and lamb, awesome lamb chops, we use Meadowlark Farms Idaho, https://www.meadowlarkfarmidaho.com/ 9904 Southside Blvd, Nampa, Idaho. 83686 (208) 466-4806. A superb source for outstanding lamb products.

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And speaking of eggs, Meadowlark Farms eggs make an awesome Hollandaise sauce and Eggs Benedict. Just look at these. This was delicious! Even went so far as to try Jacque Pepin’s style. Think I will use it again and again and again!

Not local by any means. Braised Scallops on a bed of Spinach and Chard with a light Béchamel and a Cucumber and Radish Salad with Sour Cream. Such a yum dinner. Served with a wonderful and well pared 2020 Parma Ridge Winery Chardonnay, http://www.parmaridge.wine/. They also have an awesome bistro at the winery. Superb food along with the superb wine. But make a reservation first. Check the link. Happy cooking! (BP-MJ)

Some Meals We Have Enjoyed

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Sorry for the long delay in getting articles or recipes posted. It’s been a crappy Fall, but things are returning to normal now. I will create this post, as I have done in the past with all posts, with a good description of the dish and a link to the recipe that we have created. Most of the recipes, however, are original only to the point that we have altered the original recipe to fit our needs. Most of the recipes presented here and on this blog, have a note attached to them “Source: adapted from (some other recipe)“. At least then, you know where you can find the original recipe. Please, as in the past, feel free to use and try any recipe presented and let us know how it came out and if you liked it or not.

Let’s start with a great soup. Did you ever see the movie Tortilla Soup? Well here is the recipe for that soup, Tortilla Soup http://www.rockinrs.com/Tortilla-Soup.pdf. I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of it. This is fun to make – you can make it as spicy as you want – and great eating. We love it!

And to start the main course off, how about Roasted Prime Rib of Beef? Really easy to do, but be sure you follow the cooking directions exactly. Recipe – http://www.rockinrs.com/CS-Prime-Rib.pdf. This recipe calls for an herb butter and we used our Herb de Provence, http://www.rockinrs.com/CS-Herbs.pdf. Use it liberally and mix well with room temperature butter. I even went so far as to, after adding the herb butter and salt, to dry brine this in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Came out great!

And here is a great leftover prime rib dish, Leftover Prime Rib Beef Stroganoff. (recipe – http://www.rockinrs.com/Leftover-Beef-Stroganoff.pdf) The original recipe called for Baby Portabella mushrooms, but we had some dried Morel mushrooms collected this past Fall and I reconstituted them in a little vodka and used some of the liquid in the sauce.

Leftover Prime Rib Stroganoff

Total time to make this dish is about 20 minutes, not counting preparing the egg noodles or rice. If you would prefer not to use noodles, you can always use rice. If you use rice, I would probably use Basmati or Jasmin. Either way, we loved this and will make it again. Delicious flavors and easy to do. I even had someone tell me they have made a similar stroganoff with leftover meat loaf.

For the last of the prime rib, you can also make a delicious and scrumptious Prime Rib Soup. This is almost a one pot meal. Hearty with the barley in it. Great on a cold winter day. Just takes some time to make, about 3 hours and 15 minutes. But well worth it. Great herb combination in it. Here is the recipe – http://www.rockinrs.com/Prime-Rib-Soup.pdf

Prime Rib Soup

It takes a little time, but well worth it. The barley is really a great addition. That pretty much uses up the prime rib leftovers. But, there are 3 different meals from this cut of beef.

The last dish is a very German entrée. It is a Spinach Spaetzle with Speck, a German bacon. You can find the recipe here – http://www.rockinrs.com/Spinach-Spaetzle.pdf. Enjoy!

Spinach Spaetzle with Speck

This is a big, hearty meal that will satisfy most big appetites. The speck gives a wonderful flavor the the spaetzle a great texture. We used a store bought spaetzle because I don’t have a spaetzle maker. We bought the spaetzle and the speck from a German shop here in Boise.

But wait! That’s not all! What about dessert? How about some Pecan Shortbread Cookies? http://www.rockinrs.com/CS-Pecan-Shortbread-Cookies.pdf

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

A great shortbread treat full of toasted pecan bits, almond extract and a little rum, that is not in the recipe. I don’t usually do this, but our neighbor has a cookie business and they are good. Her business name is Crumb by devlyn and can be reached at (910) 405-4718 or emailed at crumbbydevlyncookies@gmail.com (No. I made the shortbread cookies!)

Enjoy these dishes. They are all good and worth a try. gutes Essen in German or biadh math is Gaelic. That covers my heritage.

Beef Stroganoff

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We recently made/created a version of the classic Beef Stroganoff as pictured above. (The recipe can be found here – http://www.rockinrs.com/CS-Stroganoff.pdf). The original recipe did not call for vodka. But this is a Russian dish, so vodka is a must. We did not, however, use the traditional potato based vodka, but rather a corn based. An entirely different flavor level and profile. Seems to me to be more inline with White Lightning. The button mushrooms cut into about 1/4″ slices. Also, we added some chopped fresh rosemary, which was awesome.But look at the recipe and see what you think. We are always open to suggestions.

And then one morning, Robin asked for an Avocado and Tomato Omelet. Never thought of this combination, but it was really good. No, did not cook the avocado or the tomato, Serve with a good fresh fruit mix. In this case, blueberries and cantaloupe. CROW bread toasted from Acme Bakeshop in Boise. Great combination.

Two Great Meals

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Two Great Meals

This potato salad,the recipe is located here Chef Lou’s Potato Salad, is full of vegetables. (Pictured above) You can use veggies, or not, or choose your own. The salad has an awesome dressing of mayo, apple cider vinegar and Dejon mustard. I also added some fresh lovage to add to the “celery” flavor. Try it. Easy to make. I chilled the cooked potatoes before adding them to the sauce/vegetable mix. I also cut the potatoes in “bite sized” pieces before cooking them. Try using new potatoes and quarter them.

The second wonderful dish we made was a Shrimp Salad. (Pictured above) This was a great, summer salad and it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Full of vegetables and shrimp and with a creamy sauce. I added frozen peas and corn to this salad which gave a a nice texture and flavor. I also used some fresh lovage in this, too. You could probably use lobster instead of shrimp, if you are so inclined. We served it with baked Orange Kokanee – salmon – (7 min at 375 degrees F) for 7 minutes. Toasted Sourdough Wedges with butter and garlic.

Well there are two meals you can play with. Have fun and enjoy! Just don’t forget: If it is on a plate, it is edible! Don’t ever put something on a plate that is not edible.

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