Friday, November 30, 2012

Pan Fried Trout

When I bought the seafood for the Shellfish Tower, I also bought a couple of farm raised trout that were cleaned and de-boned.  I’ve mentioned lately that Bev is not the seafood fan that I am, but she does eat a fairly wide variety of things from the sea.  However, when it comes to the lake offerings, her range of acceptability is much narrower and includes crappie and er, uh, hum, crappie and she considers all the rest too fishy, especially trout. 

Since I was home alone, I decided to have one of my favorite meals for the day after Thanksgiving, pan fried trout and fried potatoes and onions – how could you not love this meal.  To ensure leftovers, I filled a 12” cast iron skillet with the potatoes and onions cooking in some olive oil and bacon grease with a lid. 
After starting the potatoes, I recalled we had a lot of peppers in the garage that needed to be used, so I diced up several and started them cooking in another skillet.

When they were done enough, I mixed them into the potatoes and added some of the mixture back to the pepper skillet to brown, while I cooked the trout in the same pan.  I just added S&P to the fish filets then dredged them in a 50-50 mix of flour and cornmeal with a little cayenne mixed in.  I added a little butter to the area of the pan where the trout was cooked and started with the non-skin side down.

I considered not posting this since I steamed the potatoes too long (mushy) and then didn’t get a good plated shot, but the fish and potatoes were both just too good - and the pups enjoyed the skin that I didn’t eat.  After all the fish, we had steak sunday night when Bev got back from Florida.

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11/23/12 meal date

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 At Almost Heaven South

As you may have gathered by now, I was alone on Thanksgiving Day and had several meal options from which to choose, starting with a grilled cheese sandwich by myself through an invitation to dinner in Oak Ridge with Wende (daughter) and her friends up to driving to Baltimore for the holiday with Eric (son).

After the previous week’s seafood meal, I decided to invite my buddy Joe and his wife Carol down for a repeat.  Carol opted for something else but Joe decided to come on down.

We considered what we liked about the last meal and made this one just a little differently.  Since we also planned to winterize the RV, we spread the meal over the entire afternoon beginning with the shrimp cocktail appetizer.

Tell your friends not to order this at Almost Heaven South unless they want some shrimp.  Once again I used Ina’s cocktail sauce.  After the RV job, we had the salad course which consisted of a basic salad with bottled dressing and a half dozen raw oysters.  Similar to chicken on a salad but just a little different J

An hour and a half later we had the main course of grilled shrimp, grilled oysters, clams casino, and a baked sweet potato – we had to have something that made it Thanksgiving dinner in the South.

And finally, another hour or so later, we had Mrs. Smiths pumpkin pie with Ready Whip - not exactly mom's famous pumpkin pie with real whipped cream, but it was edible.

I know I won’t be able to talk Bev out of it, but after this meal, I’d opt to pass on turkey from now on – like last week’s flattened tower, this meal was just too good and as a bonus, it was easy to fix and clean up after.  Also, taking all afternoon to eat it negated the terrible stuffed feeling I have following the normal meal (I know, just eat less, but I can’t help myself).  I'll suggest we have an extended meal next year, even if we serve the traditional menu.

As you can likely guess, I won't be posting any Thanksgiving leftover meals - I ate the few leftover boiled shrimp out of the plastic bag they were stored in the next day for lunch J

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11/22/12 meal date

Monday, November 26, 2012

Clams Casino

Bev is not nearly the seafood fan that I am, so I’ve been eating my fill while she’s in Florida for two weeks.  When we had the shelled seafood meal, we used all but a dozen clams which I decided to make into clams casino. 

Since I’m usually ready to call it a day about mid-afternoon, I cooked them for lunch, yep you heard right, lunch, using a recipe from Allrecipes, mainly because it included bread crumbs.  With only 12 clams, I made half of the recipe shown below.

Clams Casino –  adapted from Allrecipes

24 cherry stone clams
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced onion (I used scallions)
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (I used red & orange sweet peppers)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried bread crumbs
4 slices bacon (Benton’s of course)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a small skillet, cook bacon until crisp over medium heat. Crumble pretty small and set aside. (I diced then fried earlier with the bacon for the salmon chowder)
2. Add 2 tablespoons oil and butter to the skillet, and place over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, and garlic and sauté until tender. Remove from heat, and cool.
3. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, bacon, oregano, cheese, and sautéed vegetables (including the oil and butter in the pan).  Mix well.
4. Wash clams with a brush and open with a chefs knife by slicing through the middle.  I set them upright on a cutting board, positioned the knife between the two shells and sliced them open – easy peasy if the knife in on the crack (see note below).
5. Using a spoon, scrape under the meat in one shell to dislodge the meat and put it in the other shell half then twist the shells apart – careful not to get any of the hinge shell pieces in the meat.  Scape the meat loose in the remaining shell half.
6.  Fill clam shells with the bread crumb mixture, and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika. Drizzle with olive oil.  (I misread the recipe and just mixed the parsley and paprika in with the bread crumb mixture).
7. Bake at 450 degrees F for 7 minutes. Serve.

Note: Only shuck the raw clams if you're sure they are fresh, otherwise use the Allrecipes method to open - "After scrubbing, place on a baking sheet and heat in a preheated 350 degree F (175 degree C) oven for 1 to 2 minutes, or until clams open. Discard any that do not open. Remove meat from shells. Chop, and set aside."  I made them like my dad did and left the clam meat intact.  Whole clams can be a little rubbery but these were fine like this.

I rarely make an OMG good dish but this was one of them with one minor change - dump all of the liquid out of the clam or it can be too salty as a couple of mine were.  A chile (jalapeno, serrano, etc.) could have been used to replace some of the sweet pepper if a little heat is desired. 
I don’t remember having these since my folks left Jersey in the late 70’s, but I guarantee, it won’t be that long until the next batch.  Did I say I really liked these - what a lunch?

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11/19/12 meal date

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Smoked Salmon Chowder

I’ve been working to eat the salmon pieces I smoked the other day and decided to give a soup a try, so I went looking for a recipe and found one for Our Notorious Smoked Salmon Chowder from Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham, WA.   Since I believe fish chowder should start with bacon, I added it and made a few other revisions.

Smoked Salmon Chowder
Adapted from Boundary Bay Brewery

4 slices bacon (Benton’s smoked of course)
3½ cups diced potatoes
2½ cups diced carrots
3 cups onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup garlic, chopped
1½ cups clam juice (I used some homemade shrimp stock from the freezer)
1½ cups white wine
1½ tsp. dried thyme
½ cup butter
½ cup flour
1 cup heavy cream & 5 cups 1% milk (recipe uses all cream)
3 cups smoked salmon, chopped (this is double the recipe amount)
1 tsp. dried dill weed  

1. Dice the bacon, fry crispy in a heavy bottomed pot, and remove the excess grease.
2. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until softened some, adding back some grease or oil as needed.
3. Add the shrimp stock, wine, potatoes, and thyme and cook until the potatoes are tender.
4. Meanwhile, warm the dairy in a small pan and melt the better in another pan, then slowly stir in the flour to make a white roux.
5. Stir the dairy into the roux and when well incorporated, add it to the vegetable pot along with the salmon. 
6. At this point, I tasted it and added S&P and decided it needed the dried dill.  I also thought it needed more salmon and added the third cup, so I ended up with twice what the recipe called for.
7. Cook a few more minutes to heat the salmon and serve garnished with a little dill (dried is all I had).

I added oyster crackers to my next bowl a couple of hours later.

I thought it was very, very good and it will be a definite make again recipe.

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11/18/12 meal date

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sausage Egg McBigDude

I don’t know what got me thinking about this meal, but maybe the salmon breakfast the other day coupled with the chub of breakfast sausage I saw in the fridge and the English muffins I recently bought.

I began by slicing the pound of sausage into 6 equal rounds and flattening them to about a 4” diameter - I just fried them all while I was at it.  After flipping, I topped the sausage with cheddar cheese so it would be sure to melt.

I had also toasted an English muffin and cooked an egg in a ring mold, leaving it a little runny and to assemble I also added some mayo to the muffin top.

It was very good – maybe even as good as McDonalds J

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11/18/12 meal date

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Flattened Seafood Tower

Last year during our annual trip to Marco Island, FL, we went to Naples for lunch at The Dock At Crayton Cove where I discovered the Shellfish Tower, which is described as "6 oysters, 12 Prince Edward Island mussels, ½ pound Alaskan snow crab, 6 Gulf shrimp, and 6 middleneck clams with mignonette, mustard and bloody mary cocktail sauce - $34.95."  I’d been looking forward to another one this year but ended up staying home with Madison rather than making the trip to Marco.

Bev had bought a couple of Living Social half priced coupons for the Shrimp Dock Seafood Market and I decided to spend part of it on the makings for my own version of the shellfish tower.  So I invited my buddy Joe over and we just hung out with Madison, made up a batch of margaritas, watched the ferrets play, and made this meal.

Mine was different from The Dock’s in three ways – I forgot to get the crab, part of mine was served hot (theirs is all cold), and mine was flat rather than in the shape of a tower.  We began with 6 cold boiled shrimp, 6 raw oysters, 6 cherrystone clams, Ina Garten’s cocktail sauce, mignonette sauce (from Epicurious), and saltine crackers.

My plan was for each of us to have 6 raw and 6 grilled oysters, but the raw ones were going down so good, we just saved 2 each to grill.

For the warm part of the meal, we had grilled shrimp (for Madison) which were dusted with Emeril’s Essense and basted with garlic butter while cooking, grilled oysters topped with the same garlic butter, and steamed mussels using the recipe from Mary at One Perfect Bite.  Here’s the oysters and shrimp headed for the grill and my plate ready to eat – I poured the liquid from the pan over the mussels, but forgot the garnishment for the plate.

We eat a lot of good grub around Almost Heaven South, but I don't remember ever making a better meal.  While I missed enjoying the Shellfish Tower at The Dock, sitting open-air and looking out on the water, I believe my version was even better as I prefer the mussels hot and liked the addition of grilled shrimp and oysters. And, as a bonus, I’m pretty sure I only had about $35 in everything we ate.  Joe and I decided we need to do at least part of this meal, mainly the raw oysters, on a regular basis.

Happy Thanksgiving To Everyone.

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11/17/12 meal date

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Smoked Salmon For Breakfast

When I buy whole salmon filets, I generally cut off the thinner belly and tail meat, since it cooks faster, and freeze it separately for later smoking and use in many dishes.  When I recently smoked some salmon pieces for a friend who’d repaired my RV, I decided to smoke my small pieces as well.

I first brined, dried, and smoked them using The 3 Men’s Fish Smoking Process (my normal).  They were delicious except the thin ones were a little too salty from the brine but work fine in other dishes such as this breakfast.  This is about 2/3 of what I smoked and you can see three different colors which I believe are:  darkest - wild caught sockeye, lightest - farm raised from Krogers, middle - Scottish purchased in Portland, Me.

Before starting the main part of my breakfast meal (Bev doesn't eat fish for breakfast, especially smoked salmon), I whipped up a simple dill sauce using a recipe from Allrecipes:

½ cup sour cream
1½ tablespoons Dijon-style prepared mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (I used ¾ tsp. dried dill)

Whisk together sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and dill until well blended. Chill before serving (I actually warmed it a little to serve).

I toasted an English muffin and skinned, chopped, and heated the salmon a little in the microwave.  In the meantime, I cooked two over easy eggs using ring molds so they’d be purdier.  This is the final product and it was very good.

I wish I’d added some fruit or sliced tomato for a better shot, but it was BBQ day and I just forgot to think about it.  I made half of the above sauce recipe and it was just the right amount.

After saying on Friday that I wouldn't have much to post about, I have one lined up for nearly every day this week.

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11/15/12 meal date

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jerk Chicken For Our Wine Club

I’ve mentioned our wine club before, which is really a social group that uses wine tasting as an excuse to get together.  This month, the host couple decided on a Puerto Rican meal (he is from there) so I (Bev is in Florida) took a Caribbean appetizer – jerk chicken wings.

I’ve used this jerk marinade several times in the smoker, but grilling is much better and will be the cooking method from now on.  I marinated them for a couple of hours and put them on the grill over medium heat.

I turned them several times and basted with the marinade each time.

When I got the skin where I wanted it, I put them on a sheet pan in a 175* oven for about an hour while I got myself ready.

I took them to the event wrapped loosely in foil and assembled after I got there.  In keeping with the Caribbean theme, I was able to salvage a leaf from our banana tree (most are dying for the winter) and trim it up to fit my plate. 

I wanted to garnish with some scotch bonnet peppers but all I could find was a bag of multi-colored sweet ones, but they worked okay and were actually eaten.

I thought the chicken ended up being just the right doneness with a still crispy skin (it got mostly lost during the trip to the party) and will use this method again when holding time is required.

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11/13/12 event date

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Humor - After The Election

A friend sent me this and since it made me laugh out loud, I thought I'd post it - hopefully you'll get a chuckle as well.

"A doctor on TV said that in order to have inner peace in our lives after this election, we should always finish things that we start. Since we all could use more calm in our lives, I looked around my house to find things I'd started & hadn't finished.

I finished a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiuminun scriptins, an a box a choclutz. Yu has no idr how fablus I feel rite now.

Sned this to all ur frenz who need inner piss. An telum u luvum."

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Open-Faced Sausage And Egg Sandwich

Bev is in Florida for a couple weeks, leaving me at home looking after Madison and the pets and since Madison eats little more than canned soup and cereal and cooking for one is no fun, I won’t have as much to write about foodwise – but there’s still breakfast.

I discovered a couple of pieces of cooked breakfast sausage in the fridge and decided to turn them into a sausage and egg sandwich the next day – one of my favorites.  But while reading blogs that morning, Pam, from For The Love Of Cooking, posted one of her delicious breakfast frittatas and I was faced with a dilemma. 

The frittata looked very good, but I still wanted the flavors of the sandwich – especially the mayo on the bread.  Since the sandwich is often hard to eat, as the bread falls apart, I decided to do both.  I began by chopping the sausage and some onion and sautéing until the onion began to soften.  Then I added two eggs, beaten with some cream, diced cheddar cheese, and S&P, turned the heat down to med-low and added a lid.

When it was about set (above shot), I stuck it under the 300* broiler for 2 minutes to finish cooking and in the meantime I spread two slices of toast with Duke’s Mayo.

I slid the frittata onto the toast and added some chives for pretty.

It was perfect, giving me the fluffiness of the frittata along with the flavors of the sandwich.  I may have to fry up some more sausage to be ready.

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11/13/12 event date

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pork Carnita’s Ala Larry

Per Wikipedia “Carnitas, literally "little meats," are a type of braised or roasted (often after first being fried) pork in Mexican cuisine.”  We recently made our first trip to a Knoxville Mexican restaurant named Meksiko Cantina, where I ordered the “Green Plate” described as “Pork carnita’s cooked with green tomatillo sauce” – I’ve been on a green sauce kick for a couple of months and thought this dish was delicious.

While in Cheyenne, WY on our RV trip, we ate two breakfast meals at the Diamond Horseshoe and brought home a pint of their green chili so I decided to try a green chili pork carnita’s dish with a BBQ twist.

I slow roasted a pork butt, not in an oven, but in my smoker and used spices to go with the green chili rather than for my usual for pulled pork.  After Drick from Drick’s Rambling Café used it for his pulled pork butt BBQ, I used a light coat of my homemade chili powder.

I pulled the pork from the smoker at 202* and let it rest (wrapped in foil) in a cooler for several hours until supper time. 

The green chili sauce was heated in a pan and chunks of warm pork were stirred in and cooked until it broke down just a little.  We served it with some refried beans and warm flour tortillas.

 Since the sauce was different, it’s hard to compare to the restaurant version, but it was very good (photo didn't do it justice), especially with the smoky bark on the meat – I thought the chili powder worked well in this application but still prefer my normal rub for our pulled pork.

For supper the next night, it was the same ingredients on a tortilla topped with some salad mix and it was even better this way - Bev obviously made this.  

And finally, if you'll look at this picture then close your eyes and imagine the salad replaced with two over easy eggs, you'll see breakfast the next morning.  Not sure if it was better than the supper meal, but it was definitely edible.

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11/08/12 event date

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Redeye – Beer Turned Into Health Food

Most people know that cooked tomatoes are a great source of many good things for your body, such as lycopene.  And many people probably think of beer as a non-health food, even though it’s made from grain, flowers, and water.

So it stands to reason that one way to turn beer into an excellent health food is mix it with tomato juice – one can justify just about anything (watch our politicians for further examples).  I used 6oz. of our homemade juice with 12oz. of the beer I found in the fridge (use your favorite) and served in a frosted fishbowl.

I got hooked on this concoction while in college when my fraternity brothers had me order my first red eye at a Morgantown, WV hangout (name long forgotten) after our weekly chapter meeting – we needed something after dealing with all those weighty issues.
Some call it red beer and some call it tomato beer while others add hot sauce, worcestershire, etc. to make it bloddy mary like. While I don’t drink it often I still enjoy the occasional redeye or two, especially while watching a WVU football game – I’ve needed it to deaden the pain of their play lately.  Nothing like going from being ranked no. 5 and having the leading contender for the Heismen Trophy to becoming the joke of the Big 12 Conference - the head coach is obviously doing a great job.


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11/10/12 event date

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Creole Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

We had some burger out for another dish and Bev decided to make it into meatloaf, but different than her normal – she especially wanted one with tomato gravy.  After a look at the internet and my files, we found the good sounding recipe for Creole Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy from Mary at Deep South Dish.  After making it per the recipe plus one carrot with the other veggies, Bev decided it needed a little more flavor for our taste and she added a tablespoon or so of Worcestershire sauce and some sun dried tomatoes.

Creole Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy
Adapted from Deep South Dish

1½ lbs. of very lean ground beef
1 tbsp. of butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine (Bev used the food processor for the veggies)
½ cup of green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 stalk (rib) of celery, chopped fine
1 carrot chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine
¼ cup of canola oil
2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour (for the roux)
1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 can of water
1 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce
½ cup of evaporated milk
1 large egg
½ cup of seasoned bread crumbs (she used Parmesan Herb Panko)
½ tsp. of kosher salt
¼ tsp. of freshly cracked black pepper
Pinch of cayenne 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the ground beef in a large bowl; set aside.

Heat the butter over medium and cook the onion, bell pepper, carrot, and celery until tender; add the garlic, cook for another minute, transfer to a plate to cool.

SAUCE: Wipe out the skillet, and add the ¼ cup of canola oil. Heat over medium high and stir in the flour. Cook and stir until it is browned, remove from the heat, and let cool slightly. Slowly whisk in the tomato sauce, water and Worcestershire and return to the heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Whisk together the milk, egg, and Worcestershire; stir in the bread crumbs and add that mixture to the ground beef. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and veggies; mix gently and add more bread crumbs if it’s too moist - nuke a sample and give it a try – this is when Bev actually added the worsey sauce, sun dried tomatoes, and more salt.  When the taste suits you shape into a loaf or add to a pan.

Bev cooked it in a slotted bottomed bowl sitting in the pan of gravy and topped with gravy - it's ready for the oven with a few more carrots in the sauce – a must have for Bev.

Bake uncovered until an internal probe thermometer reads 150* -155* (or more done if you like), and Bev basted once about 3/4 of the way through the cooking process (several bastings needed for a free standing meatloaf).  Rest for about 10 minutes, slice, and serve with the tomato gravy spooned over the top.   We added some fresh baked rolls and called it a meal.

We all thought it was a very good meatloaf and would definitely make it again.  Since Bev used 85% lean ground beef, she had to skim the grease from the gravy top prior to serving and we would it as a stand alone for other dishes.

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11/03/12 meal date

Monday, November 5, 2012

Breakfast Pork Loin and Tater Cakes

We had Tyler Florence’s Smothered Pork Chops again recently (click link for first time) and I used the leftovers for a breakfast meal.  My shot of the dinner meal didn’t turn out too well but it was very good.

I usually just shape the leftover mashed potatoes into cakes and fry them, but I wanted to go fancier and asked Bev to work her magic on them - she mixed in a beaten egg, flour, cream, and chopped chives.  To fry I added them by the heaping spoon full to a 12" skillet coated with olive oil and shaped them into patties with the spoon back.

I nuked the pork loin a little to warm it and added it to the skillet to crisp, along with the potato cakes, and an egg cooked sunny side up in a ring mold with a glass lid on it – wish I’d taken a cooking shot.  This is the result and it was totally delicious.

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11/04/12 meal date

Friday, November 2, 2012

Coco Finally Gets In The Playpen

Coco has been actively wanting to get into the ferret playpen and it's a hoot to watch her.

Madison finally decided to see how it would go if Coco was allowed in the play pen and it went fine.  She chased them from one hiding place to another and when she caught one she was gentler.

The ferrets were obviously enjoying it and baiting her and Roscoe even caught her a time or two.

Be sure and click on the above shot.  Following is the ferret estate in Madison’s room.

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10/26/12 event date