Friday, November 26, 2010

Boiled Turkey Dinner

On one episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network, Guy Fieri visited Landmark Diner in Charlotte, North Carolina.  One of their specialties is turkey and stuffing. As you can see from watching this YouTube video, they boil their turkey instead of roasting.

In Charlotte, NC, Guy pays a visit to the Greek family-run Landmark Diner.

For Thanksgiving this year, it was going to be just me, Linda, and my son and his wife; so, I setout to try to duplicate this recipe.  One challenge is that the chef showed what ingredients he used – but no clue as to quantities.  I, of course, also wanted to scale it down to a single turkey.

One problem I anticipated is that the turkey stock is needed for the dressing and the gravy; I didn't want to boil the whole turkey so that the meat was done before I could even start making the dressing and gravy - I wanted to be able to time it so that the turkey was ready about the same time as the rest of the dinner. To accomplish this, I decided to separate the breast meat from the turkey carcass so as to be able to make the turkey stock the day before.

Of course, I can't resist adding my own tweaks; so, I decided to roast the turkey carcass (sans breast meat) before making the stock; I applied a dry rub to the raw turkey breast as it sat overnight in the refrigerator; and, I included thyme, dried cranberries and pecans in the dressing so as to make more of a complete turkey dinner.

Of course, you can't have a turkey dinner without a sweet potatoe dish of some sort; so, for dessert, I made Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce and Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise; although, I didn’t have a vanilla bean nor do I keep bourbon and/or apple schnapps on hand; so, I used 1 tsp of brandy extract in the pudding and a ½ tsp vanilla extract in the Crème Anglaise.  I also chopped 2 apples and microwaved for 2 minutes then pressed with a potato ricer to extract the ½ apple juice for the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce (I thought using fresh apples might impart more of an apple flavor than if I just used store bought apple juice). If I made this again then I think I might try using 3 or 4 apples to get a bit more apple flavor.

So, here is my version of a Boiled Turkey Dinner. The result is a moist, succulent, and flavorful turkey with gravy and dressing that is to die for.


  • Turkey, 12-14 pound
  • 1 large Onion, quartered
  • 3 stalks Celery, roughly chopped
  • 3 Carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 full head garlic cut in ½
  • 1 Tbl kosher salt
  • ½ tsp whole black Peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Oil (enough to coat turkey breast)
  • Water to cover
Turkey Rub
  • 2 tsp Thyme
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
Day before
  1. Cut up turkey into parts and debone breast from turkey keeping skin on breast
  2. Dry boned turkey breast and rub with vegetable oil, then sprinkle rub over turkey breast including under the skin. Tie breast with twine wrapping in skin and store in refrigerator in heavy ziplock bag overnight.
  3. Put remainder of turkey carcass into oven and roast at 350 degrees for 2 to 2½ hours. During the last hour, add the vegetables (onion, celery, carrots, and garlic) to the roasting pan. Remove thigh meat and save for another use (optional)
  4. Put everything except boned breast meat into a large stock pot and boil for about 5 hours
  5. Strain turkey stock. Reserve stock for making gravy and dressing. Reserve remaining stock to boil turkey breast.
Day of
  1. Add boned breast meat to reserved stock, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 1 hour in a covered pan
  2. Turn off heat and leave breast to cool in stock for another hour
  3. Leave breasts in stock to keep warm until ready to serve (reheat if necessary)


The gravy can be made the day before using reserved turkey stock

  • 4 Tbl Butter
  • 4 Tbl Flour
  • 4 Cups reserved turkey stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt butter in sauce pan
  2. Add flour to melted butter and cook for a bit until starting to turn light brown
  3. Add turkey stock and whisk to fully incorporate flour/butter rue into stock. Cook, stirring frequently, to thicken, if necessary, add salt and pepper to taste  


  • ¼ pound Butter (1 stick)
  • 1 large Onion
  • 4 stalks Celery
  • 4 Carrots
  • 2 Cups peeled and chopped apples (about 4 apples)
  • ½ Cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp Rubbed Sage
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Poultry seasoning
  • 1 kosher tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper, ground
  • 16 cups Bread cubes, toasted (1½ - 2 loaves)
  • 2 Eggs slightly beaten
  • 4-5 cups reserved turkey stock
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
Day before (optional)
  1. Finely chop onion, celery, and carrot
  2. Cook onion, celery, and carrot in butter until onion starts to carmelize
  3. Add chopped apples, brown sugar, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg garlic, sage, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning) and continue cooking until apples are soft.
  4. If done the day before then store the vegetable mixture in refrigerator until ready to use.
Day of
  1. Add reserved turkey stock and eggs to breadcrumbs, it should be fairly moist, but not soggy.
  2. Fold in vegetable mixture, dried cranberries and chopped pecans and mix well
  3. Spread bread mixture into a large flat baking dish, like a lasagna or 9x13 dish
  4. Bake in oven covered for 1 hour. Remove cover and bake for another 30 minutes to crisp top


  1. Cut dressing into squares.  Remove skin and slice turkey breast
  2. Place a square of dressing on plate and spoon some gravy on top
  3. Place warm turkey slices on top of dressing and cover with gravy. Dip turkey slices in hot turkey stock to warm if necessary.


  • When I made the dressing I used a can of store bought apple pie filling. I like the sweetness of the apples in the dressing; but, I thought it was a little two much since a can of pie filling is about 21 ounces; so, I've adjusted this recipe to incorporate just a couple of cups of apples plus sugar and spices typically found in an apple pie.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chicago inspired deep dish pizza

I used a recipe by Emeril Lagasse Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizzas as my muse and then added my own tweaks.  This recipe makes 2 (10-inch) deep dish pizzas.  I don't think Emeril's sauce recipe makes enough for two pizzas; so, I doubled it.  Although, there will be a bit left over (probably need to 1½ it).  I also used kalamata olives in place of the tasteless black olives, but only ½ as much since they have a more intense flavor.  I also used a red bell pepper in place of a green one.  And, I increased the amount of sugar in the sauce.

The recipe says it makes 2 12-inch pizzas; however, I had a lot of difficulty spreading the dough in that size of pan.  So, I think making 10-inch pizza's is a lot easier.  The crust will be a bit thicker - but, it's a tasty crust, especially infused with all of the goodness from the toppings and sauce.

I don't have a deep dish style pizza pan; so, I've used both a cast iron frying pan and a springform cheesecake pan.  Oiling the pan plus the oil in the dough makes it come out of the pan very easily.

The first time I made this pizza, I put the mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion in raw; but, this resulted in a lot of liquid in the finished pizza which we had to mop up with a papertowel.  The next time I made it I precooked the mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion.  I also cooked the sauce longer to remove more of the liquid.

  • Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza Dough, recipe follows
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic (about 5-6 cloves)
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, salt free
  • 2 tablespoons wine (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated
  • 8 ounces pepperoni, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into thin slices
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into thin rings
  • ½ cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 pound crumbled hot Italian sausage
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  1. While the dough is rising, make the tomato sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the herbs, seeds, salt, and black and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, wine and sugar, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.  Smash tomatoes and then continue cooking until thickened, about 30min to 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let cool completely before using.
  2. Meanwhile, precook sausage in a frying pan, remove from pan leaving as much of the oil as possible.  Then precook mushrooms in same pan with leftover oil from sausage.  Remove mushrooms leaving as much of the liquid as possible in the pan, then pour mushroom liquid into simmering sauce
  3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  4. Place onion and red pepper slices on a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper lightly sprayed with cooking oil and bake for about 10-15 minutes until lightly browned
  5. Oil 2 seasoned 12-inch round deep-dish pizza pans with the extra-virgin olive oil. Press 1 piece of dough into each pan, pressing to the edge and stretching about 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Layer the mozzarella cheese all over the bottom of the pies. Top each with half of the pepperoni, mushrooms, bell pepper rings, onions, black olives and sausage. Ladle the sauce evenly over each pizza and top with Parmesan.
  7. Bake until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven, slice and serve hot
Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza Dough: 
  • 11/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil to grease bowl
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1.  In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the cornmeal, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, ½ cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough starts to pull away from the bowl.
  3. Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil.
  4. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Divide into 2 equal portions and use as directed.
  • I read recently it's best to use canned whole tomatoes, instead of chopped, whenver possible because they use the best tomatoes to can whole and the rest for other styles.
  • Be sure to use good quality (i.e. name brand) canned whole tomatoes.  I tried making it with Walmart Great Value brand - and it just didn't taste quite as good as when I made it with a name brand.
  • If you can't find salt free canned whole tomatoes then try leaving the salt out of the sauce
  • Precooking the onion, red pepper, and mushrooms is important as it removes as much moisture as possible - otherwise there will be a lot of liquid in the finished pizza.
  • I used kalamata olives packed in olive oil.  After pitting and chopping the olives, I used the olive infused olive oil in the dough to impart a bit of an olive taste.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Roasted Vegetable and Tofu Curry

 This is an easy meal to make, tasty, and inexpensive.  Plus, it's a good way to use up vegetables you may have on hand.

  • 1 lb package firm tofu
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 Tbl vegetable or olive oil
  • ½ large onion (or 1 medium onion), diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbl Curry Powder
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup raisins or dried currents
  • 2 Tbl cornstarch
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt, to taste  
  • Cooked rice
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Remove excess moisture from Tofu:  Slick Tofu block in half cross-wise so that you have two slaps of Tofu about ¾-inch thick.  Lay down a section of newspaper the put a paper towel on top.  Lay the Tofu slabs on top of the paper towels.  Place another paper towel on top and another section of newspaper.  Then lay a cookie sheet on top of that and weigh it down with cans from the pantry.  Leave for about 20 minutes.  Then cut Tofu into chunks (not too small)
  3. Meanwhile, wash and cut vegetables into chunks (not too small).
  4. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with vegetable oil spray and lay out all of the vegetables and Tofu in a single layer.  Spray top of vegetables with oil spray
  5. Roast vegetables and Tofu in Oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway.
  6. While vegetables/tofu are roast, make sauce:  In a large pan, heat oil and then add onions and bell pepper, saute until onion starts to turn light brown.  Add garlic and continue cooking for another minute.  Add Curry powder and Cinnamon and cook for about 30 seconds to bring out flavor.  Add two cups chicken stock and bring to boil.  Mix cornstarch with ½ cup water and gently pour into boiling sauce stirring constantly so as to avoid clumps.  When thickened, remove from heat.  Taste and add salt to taste.
  7. When vegetables and tofu are roasted, add them to stock and gently stir so that all of the vegetables are coated with sauce
  8. Serve with hot rice
  • For a fully vegetarian meal, substitute apple juice for chicken stock.
  • For a more meat-atarian meal, substitute chicken for Tofu.  Use beef stock, add a dash of Thai fish sauce, and saute some bacon to sprinkle on top - so as to use as many animals as possible.
  • Try other vegetables (whatever you have on hand):  Eggplant, potato, squash, etc.
  • I like Madras curry powder - but any good curry powder will do
  • Try serving with Couscous instead of rice

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I've been having a hankering for gumbo lately. My wife an I were at Fish City Grill a week or so ago so I ordered a cup of gumbo. Unfortunately, it had a burnt flavor; so, I sent it back (something I very rarely do). They replaced it with a cup of crab bisque, which was quite good - but it didn't satisfy my gumbo hankering.

The weather cooled down a bit; so, I decided to make some gumbo. As usual, I looked up several Gumbo recipes and then concocted my own.  So, here is my Gumbo recipe inspired by Alton Brown, Emeril Lagasse, Paula Dean, & Rachel Ray.

BTW, the shrimp and oyster Po'boy's at Fish City Grill are very tasty.

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground thyme
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 boneless (half) chicken breasts (about 1 - 1½ pounds), cubed
  • 1 pound cooked andouille sausage, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 2 cups frozen okra
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cooked rice
  • Filé powder
  1. Mix rub ingredients together and then mix with chicken cubes, being sure to coat each cube.  Refrigerate until ready to use
  2. To make rue:  In a cast iron (or other heavy) dutch oven, mix together ½ cup oil and ½ cup flour.  Place in oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake 1½ hours, whisking 2 or 3 times while baking.  Rue should be a nice creamy chocolate color.
  3. Remove dutch oven from oven and place on stove top over medium heat.  Add onion, pepper, and celery (the holy trinity) and saute until onion is transluant
  4. Add stock, tomatoes, and water and whisk thrououghly.  Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking frequently, until thickened.
  5. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, fry sausage until browned, remove sausage and add to gumbo
  6. Then cook chicken in the oil rendered from the sausage, when cooked through add to gumbo
  7. Add okra and bay leaves to gumbo
  8. Simmer for 30 minutes (or longer)
  9. Remove bay leaves and serve with cooked rice and Filé powder (to sprinkle on top)
  • Kudoes to Alton Brown for the idea of baking the rue - it's so easy to burn when doing it on the stove top
  • I prefer red pepper over green, but green pepper will suffice
  • Any smoked sausage (like kielbasa) can be substituted; although, I prefer something spicy
  • This gumbo is not very spicy, so add some tabasco sauce if you want to spice it up a bit

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tiffany's Chicken Tamales with Queso Fresco & Tomatillo Sauce

My wife and I are fans of Top Chef (Bravo TV Network).  On episode 8 - - Tiffany Derry won the elimination challenge with her Chicken Tamales with Queso Fresco & Tomatillo Sauce.  After a bit of googling, I also found a video by last season's winner, Michael Voltaggio showing how to make the tamales.  The recipe is a bit terse; for instance, it doesn't even include instructions for cooking the tamales.  The video is a bit better.  This is how I did it, which is, hopefully, a bit more complete.  They are a bit of work - but well worth the effort.

Tomatillo Sauce
  • 12 tomatillos, cut in quarters
  • 1 habanero, seeds and membrane removed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 large avocado
  1. Place half the tomatillos and all of the rest of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth
  2. Gradually add the rest of the tamatillos until all are incorporated and the mixture is smooth

 Radish Pico de Gallo
  • 1 bunch radish, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 1 English cucumber, seeds removed and diced small
  • ½ red onion, small dice
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ habanero pepper, seeds and membrane removed and finely minced
  • 2 limes, with zest from 1 lime and both juiced
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and then refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend

Chicken Filling
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 7 whole cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbl chili powder
  • 2 Tbl paprika
  • 3 Tbl salt
  • 1 dried Ancho chili, sliced
  • 1 Cup of Tamatillo Sauce (recipe above)
  1. Place all ingredients into a pot and add enough water to cover
  2. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium and cover with a lid
  3. Cook chicken for about 30 minutes
  4. Turn off heat, but leave lid on pot and let chicken simmer in liquid for another couple of hours until cool enough to touch
  5. Remove chicken and separate meat from bones and shred the meat
  6. Add the 1 cup tamatillo sauce to shredded chicken

  • Blender
  • Mandolin
  • Chinese bamboo steamer baskets
  • 4 Cup Masa Harina
  • 4 oz (by weight) Lard
  • Water - enough to make a thick dough the consistency of clay
  • Fresh corn husks, washed to remove any grit
  • Queso fresco, for garnish

  1. Mix Masa Harina, Lard, & water according to package directions to make a thick dough the consistency of clay.
  2. Remove whole husk leaves from fresh ears of corn, being careful not to tear.
  3. For each tamale, take a piece of Masa dough, about the size of a small egg, and flatten it out in the middle of a corn husk to be approximately 2" x 4"
  4. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the chicken mixture down the middle of the Masa
  5. Roll the corn husk and tie ends with thin strips of corn husk
  6. Arrange tamale's on a chinese bamboo steamer basket
  7. Place over boiling water and steam for about 30 minutes until firm.
  8. Serve with Tomatillo Sauce and Radish Pico de Gallo
  • It was difficult to tell for sure; but, it appears Tiffany steamed just a square of Masa dough in the corn husks and then served them with the chicken mixture spooned on top - sort of a deconstructed tamale.  It's an alternative method; however, I prefer them to be a bit more traditional.  The advantage of Tiffany's method is you can put more meat.
  • The Radish Pico de Gallo is very non traditional - bordering on weird.  But, it is actually quite delicious.  After dinner we had a few tamales left over, but the Radish Pico de Gallo was gone.
  • I had a lot of the Tomatillo Sauce left over.  I suggest cutting the recipe in half as it doesn't keep very well (no more than a day or two).
  • Be very careful chopping the habanero pepper and wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water after handling it.
  • Although I haven't tried it, I think the chicken mixture would be very tasty in enchilada's.  You could make half the amount of tamale's and then make chicken enchiladas as a second dinner for the next day.  I would include monterrey jack cheese inside the enchilada's and sprinkle crumpled Queso fresco cheese on top.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shrimp Ramen Soup

This probably isn't 100% authentic as I believe traditional ramen soup is made from pork stock - but it tastes pretty darn good.  I also went overboard on the vegetables, so it is quite thick, almost a stew.  But, that's the way I like it.

Then rent or netflix The Ramen Girl

  • 8 cups chicken stock (preferably salt free)
  • 1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbl miso paste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • ½ Tbl grated ginger
  • 3 large carrots julienned
  • ½ large onion thinly sliced 
  • 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms thinly sliced
  • ½ head napa cabbage thinly sliced
  • 2 packages ramen soup noodles (minus flavor packets)
  • Pot large enough to hold everything.  The 8 cups stock should fill less than ½ the pot
  • Julienne cutter

  • Heat stock in a large pot.
  • Add onion, carrot, and bell pepper and cook for about 20 minutes
  • Add mushrooms and napa cabbage and cook for another 10 minutes
  • Add shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes until pink in color
  • add ramen noodles and cook for 2 minutes.  Be sure to break noodles apart
  • Serve in bowls with japanese soup spoons
  1. I used some homemade chicken stock from the freezer.  I do not add any salt when making my own stock as I feel it's best to season whatever is being made from the stock.  The miso paste will add some salt. If you feel it needs a bit more salt then add a bit more miso paste or, perhaps, some fish sauce.  If you use commercial chicken stock then be sure to use the low sodium variety and then add the miso paste to taste.
  2. Just throw the flavor packets from the ramen soup away - they are mostly salt and not of much use for anything else.
  3. If you don't have a julienne cutter cutter then thinly slice the carrot as I think grating it would make it too small and it would get mushy in the soup.  Then add a julienne cutter to your christmas list :)
  4. Thinly sliced chicken or pork would also work well.  I'm not so sure about beef - but I suppose it could work too.
  5. Snow peas or sugar peas would also work

Chicken Fried Steak

A Texas treasure - the Chicken Fried Steak.  I've tried making chicken fried steak at home in the past - but it never tasted as good as that which you can get in the better restaurants.  It was bland and oily.

To overcome the blandness, I experiemented with different seasonings in the flour.  A little seasoned salt can go a long way to overcome the blandness; but, too much makes it too salty; so, I added other seasonings.  Using buttermlk in place of regular milk also adds a bit of acidy goodness.

To overcome the oilyness and lack of crispyness, I turned to the cooking god himself - Alton Brown.  I highly recommend watching his chicken fried steak episode; although, I think he makes it far more complicated than it needs to be.  But, he does have some good ideas worth incorporating.  For one, using the double dip method (seasoned flour -> milk/egg -> back to seasoned flour).  For another, letting the breading sit on the meat for a bit before cooking allows to to stick better to the meat.  Also, draining the meat on paper towels to remove as much of the oil as possible and the putting in a warm oven helps to keep it crispy.

For the meat, I just use cheap cube steak from the grocery store - usually I picked it up on the used meat bin (the "about to expire" meat bin) for a couple of bucks per package and then stick it in the freezer until I'm ready to use it.

  • 4 cube steaks (about 1½ pounds)
  • 1½ + ¼ Cups all purpose flour (divided)
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt (like Lowrey's)
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground thyme
  • ½Tbl smoked hot paprika
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • 1 Egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 Cups milk
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • smoked salt
  • oil
  • cooling rack on top of a baking sheet
  • Another baking sheet to place in oven
  • 12" cast iron frying pan
  • Plate covered with paper towels
  • Tongs
  • Whisk
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Mix together in a flat bowl 1½ flour, seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika.
  3. In another flat bowl, mixed together buttermilk and egg
  4. Lightly sprinkle both sides of cube steaks with smoked salt
  5. Dip cube steaks in seasoned flour, then in buttermilk/egg, then back in seasoned flour and place on cooling rack
  6. Let steaks sit with breading on cooling rack for 15-20 minutes
  7. While steaks are sitting, preheat frying pan with about ½ oil
  8. Place steaks in oil, 2 at a time, and cook about ??? miuntes per side.  Be careful not to crowd them.
  9. When steaks are done, remove to plate to drain for a couple of minutes and the move to cooking sheet in oven to stay warm and crisp
  10. When all steaks are cooked and in oven, drain all but about 3 Tbl of oil from pan, being careful to leave the crispy bits in the pan.
  11. Add ¼ cup flour to pan to stir to brown for a minute or two
  12. Add 2 cups milk and quickly whisk together until gravy thickens, stirring constantly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with mashed potatoes and some other vegetable, like green beans.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Coconut buttermilk pie

So, I was having a hankering for coconut pie; so, I planned on making one for dessert on Sunday.  Problem is, the recipe I found called for a can of coconut milk - which I forgot to buy at the grocery store on Saturday.  Still in the mood for pie, I decided I would make a buttermilk pie for dessert instead.  Then, while making it, I thought "why not add the coconut to the buttermilk pie?"  The result was quite delicious

Pie Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 4 Tbl flour
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 unbaked pie shell
 Whipped topping Ingredients
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbl sugar
  • ½ tsp coconut extract
  • ½ cup toasted coconut
  1. Cream together butter, sugar, and flour
  2. Add eggs, buttermilk, and coconut extract and mic thrououghly
  3. Add toasted coconut
  4. pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees
Before serving
  1. Add sugar and coconut extract to whipping cream and whip until stiff
  2. fold in toasted coconut
Put a dollop the coconut whipped cream on top of each piece of pie

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki

Note: My friend Craig shared this delectable Japanese recipe with me and I have confirmed its deliriousness. Craig has his own recipe blog here.


  • okonomiyaki sauce
  • yakisoba sauce
  • japanese noodles
  • dashi soup stock
  • thin strips of meat: chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or whatever
  • green onion sliced thin
  • thin strips of carrot
  • fresh mushrooms sliced thin
  • eggs

1) Cook japanese noodles according to package. Then stir fry with some yakisoba sauce.

2) Mix together
2 c flour
1 1/2 C water or water with dashi soup stock
1 egg
1/3-1/2 head of shreeded cabbage
3) pour some batter on a griddle, let it cook for a little, then add toppings (meat and vetetables) and flip over.

4) Meanwhile, cook an egg on the griddle, break yoke and swish it around so that the egg is about the same size as the pancake.

To serve:

Layer on the plate in the following order
  1. some stir-fried Japanese noodles
  2. fried egg
  3. okonomiyaki pancake
Drizzle okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise on top

  • I cheated and bought a package of thinly slice cabbage (intended for use in cole slaw).
  • I used pork when I made it.
  • I used an electric griddle to cook everything.


Note: My friend Craig shared this delectable Japanese recipe with me and I have confirmed its deliriousness.  Craig has his own recipe blog here.

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 to 2 ¼ cup shredded white or Napa cabbage
  • 4-5 scallions, finely diced
  • 1½ T grated, minced fresh ginger root
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 T tamari dark soy sauce
  • 1 to 1 ½ t sesame oil
  • 1 ½ T oyster sauce
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • slosh or two of mirin
  • 50 gyoza wrappers, or as needed (also wonton wrappers, basically anything that is round and small)

1) Chop cabbage fine, sprinkle with coarse salt, let sit for 20 minutes then squeeze out as much water as you can with a cheese cloth or clean tea towel

2) Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl, adding meat last.

3) Place 1 1/2 teaspoons in the center of each gyoza wrapper and use your finger to put water around the edge.

4) Fold the sides up to form a semicircle, and then pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the rest of the gyoza wrappers until the filling is gone. (Or, cheat like I did and use a wonton press)

5) To cook, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add some of the Gyoza, don’t crowd the pat too much, and cook for 2 minutes, or until medium golden brown on the bottom.

6) Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Cover the dumplings and cook until the water is absorbed (5 to 7 minutes). Repeat with the remainder of the gyoza dumplings.

Prepared Tamari Soy Sauce

½ C Tamari dark soy sauce
½ C Katsuobushi (dried bonito tuna flakes)
¼ C dried seaweed (nori)
3 T mirin

Put all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat, remove from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the bonito flakes and seaweed with a very small sieve or spider, being sure to squeeze as much liquid out as possible, and then discard.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce

1 C prepared Tamari sauce (see recipe above)
1 C rice vinegar
1 t sesame oil (or to taste. You may also use rayu - spicy sesame oil)

To be added at table and/or to taste. When preserving left over sauce in the fridge, do not add the following ingredients. They do not keep long. Add them fresh to the sauce before serving, and in this way, the sauce will keep in the fridge longer.

1 teaspoon minced/grated ginger root
1 scallion, minced


1-2 T fresh grated daikon radish
¼ teaspoon roasted, crushed sesame seeds
dash of lemon juice

  • I cheated and bought a package of thinly slice cabbage (intended for use in cole slaw).
  • I used shrimp when I made it.
  • It made more Gyoza than would fit in my frying pan. So, I got my bamboo steamer out and steamed the rest on top of cabbage leaves.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sweet & Sour -whatever-

Sweet and sour is a very versatile dish.  You can use a variety of meats, such as chicken, shrimp, or pork (not sure beef would be good - but, to be honest, I've never tried it).  It's also a good way to use of vegetables as just about anything can go into a sweet & sour dinner.

 Living on a gulf coast state, we regularly get shrimp on sale in our local grocery stores.  This week, our local Tom Thumb had shrimp for $2.99/lb (in 2 lb bags).  It was the small (51-60/lb) shrimp - but that's perfect for a sweet & sour.

I found a good sweet & sour recipe in a Thai cookbook recently - which I, of course, have modified to my own tastes.  The trick to a good sweet & sour is to have a variety of colors in the vegetables.  I like to include the following colors:  red, green, yellow, orange, white

  • Rice
  • 1 - 1½ lbs of meat (chicken, pork, or shrimp)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • oil
  • 1 cup cashews (optional)
  • Variety of vegetables cut into bite sized pieces, such as
    • pineapple chunks, 1 can *
    • onion *
    • bell pepper *
    • carrot *
    • water chestnuts, 1 can
    • bamboo shoots, 1 can
    • snow peas
    • sugar peas
    • cucumber
    • celery
    • mushrooms
    • tomato
* a 'must have' vegetable - in my own most humble of opinions
Sweet & Sour sauce ingredients
  • 1 cup stock (see note 1)
  • 6 Tbl vinegar (nothing fancy, cider vinegar is just fine)
  • 6 Tbl sugar (I prefer brown, but white will suffice)
  • 4 Tbl ketchup (or catsup, whichever name you prefer)
  • Tbl juice from pineapple chunks (if using shrimp, can substitute with 2 Tbl Thai fish sauce, if desired)
  • Tbl oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbl corn starch
  • Tbl chili sauce (see note 6)
  • 1 Tbl grated ginger
  1. Start cooking rice.  While rice is cooking, cut up vegetables
  2. If using shrimp, peel and devein it and save the shells (see note 1). If using chicken or pork then cut into bite sized cubes.
  3. Mince garlic and mix with meat and let sit until ready to cook (can even be done a few hours ahead of time)
  4. Add a couple Tbl oil to wok and saute the vegetables.  Different vegetables require different amounts of cooking time; so, I suggest adding them in the following order, sauteing each for a minute or so until adding the next (if not using a particular vegetable then just skip it).  That way, the first vegetables added get cooked longer
    • carrot
    • celery + bell pepper + onion
    • mushroom + cucumber
    • tomato + snow peas + sugar peas
    • water chestnuts + bamboo shoots + pineapple chunks (just enough to heat through)
  5. Remove vegetables to a serving bowl
  6. Add a bit more oil to wok and saute meat until cooked through
  7. Add sweet & sour sauce and cook until thickened
  8. Add vegetables back to wok and stir until all is coated
  9. Remove to serving bowl
  10. Service with rice
  11. Go vegetate on the couch after having eaten too much because it tasted so good
  1. If using chicken or pork then use 1 cup chicken stock. If using shrimp, put shrimp shells in a small sauce pan along with about 1½ - 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Then let simmer for a bit to reduce (and concentrate the flavor).  Turn off and let cool with shells in water (which will maximize the amount of flavor in the water).   Strain and add 1 cup of the shrimp stock to the sweet & sour sauce.
  2. Don't skimp on the vegetables - use a cup or two of each.  Makes it more healthy.
  3. I prefer canola oil, but any vegetable oil will suffice
  4. Personally, I don't like the taste of green bell peppers; so, I always use red, yellow, or orange.
  5. A trick I learned from Rachel Ray (Food Network) is to buy fresh ginger, peel it and then freeze it in a small ziplock baggie.  You can then just take it out of the freezer and just grate however much you need.  Being frozen, it grates up nice and fine.
  6. For the chili sauce, I use Sriracha sauce - which my children refer to as "rooster sauce" because of the picture of a chicken on the bottle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Greek Moussaka

My daughter, who is living with us while her husband is in basic training with the U.S. Air Force, has started following the Atkins diet.  I was once on this diet; so, I am familiar with what is and is not legal to eat.  I've been trying to be conscous of this as I prepare dinner to either make a low carb dinner, or something where the carb component can be easily eliminated or removed (such as rice, noodles, etc.).

Tonight I made a Greek Moussaka. Not all recipe's for Moussaka are low carb; but, there are some very delicious ones.  This is mine which is a combination of three different recipe's I found

  • 2 eggplants (about 2½ pounds total)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
Meat Sauce
  • 1 lb ground lamb or beef
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • smidge allspice
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 14½ ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
Custard sauce
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Peel eggplant and slice in to ½ inch thick slices. 
  3. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and place on a foil lined baking sheet, overlapping as necessary. 
  4. Cover baking sheet with foil and then bake for 25 minutes in a 425 degree oven
  5. Brown onion until starting to brown then add minced garlic.
  6. Add ground meat and cook until meat is done
  7. Drain meat/onion mixture and then add spices, cook for about 30 seconds to toast spices and then add tomatoes and bay leaf
  8. Simmer until eggplant is done (about 15-20 minutes)
  9. Assemble by placing a thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.  Add 1/3 of the eggplant slices, cover with grated cheese and 1/2 of the meat sauce.  Repeat with 1/3 eggplant, 1/3 grated cheese, and remaining 1/2 meat sauce.  Top with remaining 1/3 eggplant.  Pour custard sauce over entire surface and top with remaining 1/3 grated cheese
  10. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes, until  top is toasted and a knife comes out clean when inserted.
  • Many recipes call for leaving the skin on the eggplant.  While it may be edible, I personally find it tough and unplesant in the mouth.  So, I always peel my eggplant.
  • Measurements like "small onion" or "clove garlic" are very ambiguous.  For this recipe, I used an onion that was about 7-8 ounces and ended up with 5-6 ounces of chopped onion after cutting ends off and removing skin.  I didn't measure the garlic cloves beforehand, but I used about ½ ounce minced garlic
  • A smidge is about 1/8 tsp and a pinch is about 1/16 tsp

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sushi party

Last week was my son-in-law's birthday. As is our tradition, we have a family birthday party, usually on a Sunday; and, we pick something favored by the birthday guest of honor. For his birthday dinner, we decided to have a Sushi party. This is something we've done, at least, two times before. So, while we're certainly no experts, but we have developed a good idea of what we like.

Many people equate sushi with raw fish; but, you do not have to use raw fish if you don't want to. You can use cooked shrimp or fish, or even make vegetarian sushi rolls.

Disclaimer: I am going to describe how we do a sushi party - in no way am I suggesting that this is how Sushi parties should be done, nor am I claiming that the sushi we create is in any way authentic.

There is a reason that sushi is expensive - it is very labor intensive, there is a lot involved in making it. However, that is also what makes it a good party theme where guests can each take a turn making their own sushi creation.


There are also a lot of ingredients involved; although, if you do any amount of asian cooking then you very well may have a lot of these already on hand. Only a couple of these are essential, the rest being optional, depending upon the type of sushi you want to make. This is what we had on hand for our sushi party.

  1. Sushi rice. This is absolutely essential - you can't have sushi without sushi rice.
  2. Crab sticks. I use imitation crab - which, truth be told, is what many sushi restaurants also use.
  3. Sushi grade fish. For this sushi party we opted for the (cooked) eel; although, we've used raw salmon and tuna in previous parties.
  4. Shrimp. I prefer the 16-20/pound size. Buy it raw, but it will be cooked before you use it.
  5. Nori. This is another essential - it is the seaweed wrapper.
  6. Carrots
  7. Cucumber
  8. Avocado
  9. Sesame seeds
  10. Wasabi powder
  11. Mirin
  12. Sriracha sauce
  13. Chili garlic sauce
  14. Lite soy sauce
  15. Heavy soy sauce
  16. Panko bread crumbs
  17. Rice vinegar. Also called rice wine vinegar. I also comes in regular and sweet, I prefer the regular
  18. Cream cheese
Not shown
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pickled ginger slices
  • Sugar
  • Sesame oil
Other possible ingredients
  • Tofu (extra firm)
  • Scallions (spring onions)
  • Mushrooms
  • Snow peas
  • Asparagus (lightly steamed)
  • Daikon radish
  • If you have a store that sells bulk items, check there first as it can be a lot cheaper. For example, those bags of sesame seeds and wasibe powder were each only about 50¢. Buying those prepackaged would each cost about $2, $3, or even $4.
  • If you have a store that has a good fish counter then check with them. Our local Central Market carries frozen sushi grade fish: Salmon, tuna, and eel in 8 ounce packages. The salmon and tuna are raw, the eel is cooked.
  • The wasabi we get in the US is not true wasabi - it is green tinted horseradish. You can get it premixed; but, it is cheaper to buy the powder and mix it yourself.
  • Mirin is essentially cooking sake, not unlike other cooking wines. The kind I buy has a bit of salt (to avoid being sold as alcohol) and contains less than 1% alcohol. You should be able to find it in any large supermarket that has a good asian food section.
  • The Sriracha sauce is sometimes referred to as "rooster sauce" because of the picture of the rooster on the bottle. Available in most large supermakets that have a good asian food section.
  • The use of either lite or heavy soy sauce is a personal choice. It's good to have both on hand.
  • Panko bread crumbs are made from bread without crusts and has a crisper, airier texture than other bread crumbs. Many large supermarkets now carry it. Although, it may or may not be in the asian food section - it may be in the baking goods section where other types of bread crumbs are sold.


There is also some equipment you will need.

  1. Chopsticks
  2. Small bowls. These are for holding dips, sauces, wasibi, or whatever else.
  3. Nigiri Sushi Mold. - this is highly optional and is just fun to have
  4. Plastic wrap
  5. Cutting board
  6. Sharp knife
  7. Sushi mat. These are inexpensive, so get a couple so that more than one person can be making sushi at a time
Not shown
  • Squirt bottles (the kind used for ketchup and mustard at picnics)
  • Bowls of various and sundry sizes for preparation
  • Serving plates
  • Eating plates
  • Nigirizushi is a hand-formed sushi consisting of an oblong glob of sushi rice usually topped with a bit of wasabi and fish such as raw salmon or tuna


Some preparation steps can be done ahead of time. I don't recommend doing it too far in advance; but, doing it the morning of the sushi party is fine.

Prepare the sushi rice

First off, be sure to use real sushi rice which is a short grain sticky rice - the long grain variety that is common in the US will not work. Although, sushi rice should be available in any large supermarket that has a decent asian food section. If you have a store that sells items in bulk then check there first as it will likely be cheaper.

Properly prepared sushi rice is essential for making good sushi. If it's too dry or wet then making the sushi will be all the more difficult. Real sushi chef's will tell you that it takes years to perfect making sushi rice; so, as amateurs ours will not be perfect - but we do the best we can.

I'm not going to go into the process for making sushi rice as that would be a blog post all by itself. I don't mean to make this sound intimidating as it really isn't that difficult. Essentially, you cook the sushi rice according to the directions on the package and then, while still warm, gently fold in a mixture of rice wine vinegar and sugar.

The process is well documented on the internet. You can even search YouTube for video's showing how to make it. A good site to check out is:

Make My Sushi

Prepare the shrimp

As I indicated in the ingredients list, I prefer the 16-20/pound size, although any size will work. It's just that the larger ones are easier to work with.

A problem with shrimp is that it curls up tight when cooked. What we want is straight shrimp that can be easily put into a sushi roll. To accomplish this, I stick skewers into the raw shrimp to straighten it out.

Peel and devein the shrimp, trying to leave the tail piece on. Next push a thin skewer through the length of the shrimp to straighten.

To cook the shrimp I simply boil it; although, to increase flavor, I boil it with the shells I removed (there is a lot of flavor in the shells). I also add a bit of seaweed (for a hint of the sea). I add just enough water to cover the shimp, bring it to a boil and then turn it off as soon as it boils and let it cool in the water (to enhance the flavor). To prevent the shrimp from overcooking, I added a few ice cubes and then placed the pan into a larger pan filled with cold water to cool it enough to stop the cooking process.

Leave the skewers in the shrimp until completely cooled, otherwise they will curl if still warm. Remove the skewer by twisting it out. Then put it in a ziplock bag along with a tablespoon (or so) of Mirin. Massage the bag to make sure all of the shrimp is coated with the Mirin and then refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice the vegetables

Peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out all of the seeds. Peel the carrots. You'll want to slice the vegetables into long strips. They should be as long as the width of the Nori. I used a pampered chef mandolin which has a julianne attachment; but, cutting them by hand wouldn't be that hard. Alternatively you could julianne cut them into matchstick size pieces.

You may want to parboil the carrots just a bit to soften them, be careful not to cook them completely as you still want to have a bit of crunch. You may need to run them under cold water after parboiling to stop the cooking process.

Slice the cream cheese

Slice the cream cheese into long slices about 1/2" wide X 1/4" thick and the length of the cream cheese block. It helps to stick it in the freezer a bit to firm it up. Just be sure to not keep it in the freezer too long as if it freezes it will change the consistency of the cream cheese.

Toast the sesame seeds and panko bread crumbs

You can toast them in an oven; however, I have a tendency to burn them. I prefer toasting them in a frying pan (no oil). That way I can watch them and toast them to a light golden color.

Put the sesame seeds and panko bread crumbs each into a shallow wide bowl large enough so that the sushi rolls can be rolled.

Wrap the sushi mat in plastic wrap

This is just to make cleanup easier at the end. Don't skimp on the plastic wrap, I wrap it around 2 or 3 times.

Prepare the wasibe

Start by mixing together equal parts of wasabi powder and water until it is the desired consistency. If you feel energetic, you can make it a bit thicker and then mold it into small shapes. I made mine into marble sized balls.

Prepare the nori

You can use the full sheets of nori to make sushi; however, experience has shown that doing so makes sushi that is too large to eat as a single bite. The nori sheets are perforated with 6 sections. We've found that carefully folding it on the 4th perforation and then tearing it makes the perfect size.

Unfortunately, cutting it in half (along the 3rd perforation) is a bit too small; so, you do end up with the remaining 2 sections as wasted pieces of nori. You could add one or two of these waste pieces to the water when boiling the shrimp. You could also cut the waste pieces into thin strips and add them to miso soup. Or, you could just discard them.

Prepare sauces

There are a number of sauces that can be used either inside the sushi or squirt on top after cutting the sushi

Kabayaki (eel) Sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  1. Pour all ingredients in a pan and then stir the mixture well. Put the pan on low heat and simmer for a few minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and cool the mixture. Store the sauce in a clean squirt bottle in the refrigerator or let cool to room temperature before serving.
Spicy Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot sesame oil
  1. Mix together and store the sauce in a clean squirt bottle
Wasabi Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp wasabi powder
  1. Mix together and store the sauce in a clean squirt bottle

Starting in the lower left corner and going clockwise

Boiled shrimp
Julianne cut carrots and cucumber
toasted panko bread crumbs
wasabi paste
wasabi balls
toasted sesame seeds


You'll need to setup a work area to make the sushi with all of the ingredients laid out. Include a bowl of water large enough to dip the knife into as this will make slicing the sushi easier. You'll probably also want dishtowels to wipe and clean the hands as they tend to get sticky after working with the sushi rice.

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, carefully remove the peel while keeping the avocado halves intact, then slice it thinly. This is something that can't be done ahead of time because the avocado will brown.

If using eel then broil it according to package directions.

Place a sheet of Nori onto the sushi mat, put some sushi rice on top and spread it out into a thin layer across the entire sheet. Dip your fingers in the water frequently to keep the rice from sticking. Be sure to shake off excess water from your fingers so as to not make the sushi rice too wet.

You can then start placing the ingredients on the rice side, or you can make an inside-out sushi roll (as shown) by flipping it over and placing the ingredients on the nori side. Just be careful not to put too much as it will make it difficult to roll. The sushi roll shown has broiled eel (cut into thin strips), cream cheese strip, and avacado slices. You can add a bit of sauces on the inside before rolling. Just be creative.

Then just roll it up using the mat, trying to keep it as round as possible.

If making an inside-out roll then you can roll it in the toasted panko bread crumbs or sesame seeds before slicing. Doing so doesn't work as well if the nori is on the outside as it won't stick to the nori. You can also place avacado slices or fish slices on top and then press it into the roll before removing it from the sushi mat.

Sushi rolls are typically cut into 8 pieces - cut the roll in half, then cut each half in half, finally cut each quarter in half. You can leave the rolls on end and put sauces on the top. Or you can lay them out and put sauces on each piece.

Here are just a few of the sushi rolls we made. They don't look as pretty as those you get in sushi restaurants, but they sure were tasty!