Cream of Carrot Soup – v2

With winter weather basically upon us, its time to start getting into soup & stew mode. So while cooking for a wedding rehearsal dinner last year with JRR & Nook, one of the items that we made was a cream of carrot soup recipe that I found in an old issue of Food & Wine magazine. At first glance the recipe appears to be super easy to make (with only 8 main ingredients), and it also appears that it would be a good base recipe for any kind of cream of vegetable soup, such as broccoli or cauliflower soup. So lets dig in. Continue reading

Christmas Eve 2010 – Baked rainbow trout with lemon & green onions

I needed a quick and easy recipe to bake a fish for Christmas Eve, so I ended up finding a recipe on the Food Network website, and modified the hell out of it as usual.

My original inspiration for making this dish, was seeing Jacques Pépin a long time ago on either Fast Food My Way, or Cooking with Julia, but I just can’t remember which one off  hand. But what I do remember from Jacques, was him using a parchment paper pouch to cook the fish in the oven.

So with my basic recipe in hand, and a vague memory from Jacques, I was off and running.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  • One farm raised rainbow trout, head-on, approximately 3/4 lb in total weight
  • One whole lemon, sliced
  • Herbs (most recipe use thyme or rosemary, but I had some green onions on hand that I wanted to use)
  • Kosher Salt and Finely ground black pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Wash the fish inside and out, then season with salt and pepper on all sides. Lay the fish on a sheet of parchment paper, and place the lemon and herbs inside the fishes belly. Fold the fish back together, drizzle with olive oil, and fold the pouch to seal tightly. Place the parchment pouch on a rimmed baking sheet, and pop it into the oven to bake for 20-25 mins. Once done baking serve immediately.

Side Notes:
1) If the fish is about 3/4 lb, go with 20 mins, but if closer to 1 lb go with 25 mins. For the 3/4 lb fish that I cooked, I went with 25 minutes, and the fish ended up being slightly on the dry side. So don’t overcook that poor fish.
2) Like I mentioned with the herbs, I used green onions, only because I had of bunch of them on hand. So feel free to experiment with fresh or dried herbs.
3) Don’t go overboard on the black pepper. For some reason, a little goes a long ways in the recipe. Also use a finer grind, since a courser grind added a unnecessary “heat/spice” element to the flavor of the fish.
4) For an off the cuff recipe, this fish turned out pretty good. So I’ll have to remember this recipe, if I ever need a quick fish dish.

Hash Browns – Home fry style – v3

I’ve been working on this recipe for about the last 9 months, until I arrived at the recipe you see below. I’m not going to bother posting any of the earlier versions of the recipe, since they mostly resulted in being complete and utter failures. But some of the low lights from v1 & v2 include bland flavor, soft texture and excruciatingly long cooking times. So with that out of the way, it’s onto the winning recipe listed below. Continue reading

Chili Cook-off recipe – v4

At work the Friday before the Super Bowl, we ended up having a chili cook-off contest for our department. The entry fee was $5.00 and first prize was $70.00 plus a bunch of other misc stuff (small trophy, pizza party for your team, etc.) There ended up being over 30 entries for the contest, and the types of chili entered by competitors were all over the board (white chili, vegetarian chili, wild game chili, extra tomato chili, etc.) After a few weeks of back and forth conversations with JRR to hash out a recipe, here was the chili that I entered into the contest. This recipe didn’t make the top three (and they only listed the top three finishers.) But as the VP that sits next to me kidded, that maybe I got 4th place. So enjoy this recipe for 4th Place Chili: Continue reading

Jambalaya – v1

I just got the new Penzeys spice catalog in the mail a few weeks back, and inside the catalog was a recipe for jambalaya. And since it’s still cold and snowing outside, why not put a little something hot in my stomach.

So starting with the recipe in the Penzeys catalog, along with a bunch of Emeril’s jambalaya recipes off of the Food Network website. Here is the recipe that I came up with for jambalaya:

  • 2 TB Olive Oil
  • 14 oz andouille sausage, cut into 1/4″ to 1/2″ rounds (basically one whole grocery store package)
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Bobby Flay 16-spice Poultry Rub (see side notes)
  • 1 tsp. Thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups un-cooked long grain white rice
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

Into a Dutch oven add the olive oil and sausage, cooking the sausage into browned. Then add in the onions and bell pepper and cook until both have soften, while also scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Once the onions have become translucent add the garlic, spice mix, thyme, red pepper flakes and rice, cooking for about a minute to wake up the spices. Finally add all the remaining ingredients and simmer until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and has cooked through, which will be about 20-30 mins.

Side notes:

  • The bobby flay spice mix gave the jambalaya a weird, almost sweet cinnamon smell/taste. So this is one spice blend that I wouldn’t be using again to make jambalaya.
  • I think that I’m going to make my own andouille for the next batch of jambalaya. Since the andouille that I got at the grocery was very ho hum for taste.
  • Use low heat (On an electric range, #5 while cooking the sausage, onion and green pepper; #8 to bring to boil; #1 to simmer mixture.)
  • I actually stopped by Penzeys this week to get some spices to make a batch of chili for my workplace chili cook-off this week. So I was able to get my free jar of their new and improved cajun spice blend. So I’ll be swapping out the Bobby Flay spice mix for this stuff the next time that I make jambalaya.

Tapenade recipe experiment – v1

I needed something different on my sandwich for lunch, so I started to search around the fridge for some items that could be re-purposed for a sandwich. And for some reason yesterday my mind started to wander into thinking about charcuterie and sous vide (don’t ask.) When I started to think about this jar of olives in my fridge. It might have had something to due with my last two uses of olives being for a bloody mary and on a vegetarian pizza, that I really wanted to jazz up how I use olives. So digging into my memory banks, I started to think about what kind of sandwiches have olives inside. And the only thing that i could think of was a po’boy. Since I really didn’t want to make a po’boy, nor did I even have all the ingredients for a po’boy, I drifted into making a tapenade instead. Continue reading

Pita Bread Recipe – v2 & v3

After making pita bread with the original recipe, I noticed that the pitas would get very tough, almost leather like once the pita’s had cooled from baking. So I started flipping through this old bread baking book that I own for some problem solving help. And in the bread books recipe for pita bread it mentioned that if your pitas are very tough after baking, that it usually means that the bread has too much gluten. They recommended that the easiest way to correct the issue is that instead of using all high gluten/bread flour, to go with a 50/50 mix of bread flour and all purpose flour. So for version 2 of the recipe, I went with the 50/50 mix and kept anything else the same. Well this batch of 50/50 pitas still turned out tough. So after that little experiment failed (as well as the books advise being total BS), I was pretty much out of idea’s on why my pita’s were coming out tough.

About a couple of months ago, I was doing some cooking for my sisters Halloween dinner party, and one of the dishes that I had to make were pizza shells for “candy corn pizza wedges” (don’t ask.) I used my normal pizza dough recipe, but the flour I used was a super high gluten flour from Cargill that my sister had on hand. Since the wedges were going to be baked a second time so that the cheese could melt to make the wedges look like candy corn. Instead of fully baking the dough, I just blind baked the pizza shells for 3 minutes instead of the usual 5 minutes.
Well that ended up being the key, as to why my pita’s were turning out tough. But the more that I thought about it the more it made sense. Since with a longer baking time, it will make the bread drier (think about how soft under baked bread can be.) So with a 5 min bake time, I was baking more of a pita cracker (or pita chip) instead of a soft pita bread. So for v3, the only change was reducing the baking time from 5 minutes to 3 minutes on the original recipe.

One other change for v3 is that after I rolled out the pitas, I gave it a little extra time (5 to 10 minutes) of relaxing/rising time before popping the pita in the oven. One other thing that I still need to work, but that I’ve mentioned in the past, is not to roll out the pita too thin and basically working all the air pockets out of the dough. But both of these are just minor techniques that I need to keep working on with future batches of dough.

Side Note: I’m not posting any pics with this post, since the pitas pretty much look the same on the outside as the pitas in the original recipe.

Making Pita Bread

I’ve got a whole container full of hummus, and I’m out of pita bread and pita chips. So its time to try and make pita bread again. In the past, I’ve basically used a dough recipe that was just for “pita bread”, they of course turned out nothing like pita bread, but more like a pita puck. Continue reading