More Than a Sidekick

Bacon Ranch Potato SaladMarriage is the spice of life, especially when it starts in the kitchen. Last week was Memorial Day, and I got to cater my first luncheon. Well I have cooked for more than 15 people before, but in some ways this was different. I got the chance to enjoy cooking with my wife, and we had a wonderful evening at the same time.

Most often I am cooking while she is entertaining the guests. On this occasion, we got to spend the time together and not be in a rush. Don’t get me wrong. It was late when we finished, but we created a night to remember.

We made Bacon Ranch Potato Salad and Broccoli Salad.

The potato salad was great when it was warm, but it seemed to have less flavor the next day after it cooled in the refrigerator. It seems like a dish that has both ranch and bacon in it would be fabulous, but the truth of the matter is that it was just alright. My wife does not like potato salads with egg in it, so I found one that she might enjoy. She would at least eat this one. It is a fair alternative if you are looking for something different.

Broccoli SaladThe Broccoli Salad on the other hand was a complete success. I am not really sure why they call it Broccoli Salad though, because it has a lot more grapes than broccoli. I guess that “Grape Salad” just does not have the same ring, particularly with  other ingredients, like the villain that broccoli can be for some people. I enjoyed this dish and had several rave reviews regarding it. This dish is easy to make. In fact, all you really do is chop a bunch of produce and stir in some saucy things. After finishing the dish, we snuck a taste. The vinager was stronger than desired, but by morning it had subsided. The flavors meshed together perfectly, and it made a great addition to the luncheon. This is a ‘Grape’ Broccoli Salad!

These are two staple dishes for BBQs and picnics, but don’t take my word for it, give them a try!

So remember, “Even an odd couple can make a SUPER dish!

Click link below for Recipe:
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad or Broccoli Salad

Advertisement

Pesto It’s Magic

Magic has always garnered the interest of both children and adults alike. There is David Copperfield, Houdini, or even just a dad pulling the coin out of a child’s ear. Recently I watched a friend of mine do this to another friend’s daughter, and all I heard was, “do it again.” She just couldn’t figure out how he did it. She wanted to know the secret. That is why I say Pesto is magic. Some dishes are just alright, while with other dishes we scream with glee, “Do it again, Do it again!” We are trying to figure out the secrets of great dining.

The best magic comes with great time, energy, and planning to make some of the greatest and most memorable performances that can be imagined. Most of the dishes that I have made for this blog have been fairly simple. Linguine Al Pesto Alla Moda Ligure from “A Culinary Courses Journey – Princess Cruises“, is not an easy dish to make, at least for a beginner. I think that the “talent-level” verdict is still out on this one, however, this is a delicious dish, and I am sure that there are ways to simplify it.

For instance, in following the recipe, I boiled the potatoes before adding them to the Linguine, but I don’t know that the potatoes are that necessary. I would recommend trying it both with them and without them, just to see what your taste might be. My mother-in-law enjoyed finding the potatoes as she was eating the pasta. Also make sure that you have all the ingredients before you begin. Ensure the herbs are fresh. I had to send my wife to get some things that I still needed and wait for her return. The Pesto can be prepared a day in advance, but more than that will affect the flavor.

I think that the hardest part really was handling it though. The recipe says that it serves 6, but it sure seemed like much more than that. I have a large Wok Pan that was filled to the brim. Trying to sear or cook the noodles a little bit near the end was difficult, because the wok was filled to capacity.

The best part of making pesto is that you do not have to use it for just this recipe. What about a pesto pizza, pesto tortilini, or pesto chicken? Getting creative is the best part of cooking other than getting to enjoy the meal. I say that Pesto is Magic, and you too can create enchanted meals to remember. So remember, “Any cook great or otherwise can create magic in the kitchen.”

Recipe:
Linguine Al Pesto Alla Moda Ligure <– Click here

Cinco De Mayo – Fiesta Tacos

Fiesta TacoThis has been an interesting week. It has been a while since I started this blog, and I have been enjoying all of the different dishes that I have made. There are a couple of things that I still want to talk about (a linguine dish and a potato dish), but for various reasons, I am not yet ready to report on them. I will definitely make these dishes again, because they are worthy of sharing with you.

It was Cinco De Mayo yesterday. To celebrate, I want to talk about a Mexican staple – the Taco Bowl. Well I don’t know if it is a staple, but if it isn’t it should be. Thank God for a bowl that you can eat, and an ingenious people who would think of such a wonderful thing.

I haven’t actually made a tortilla as of yet, but I have enough friends that sooner or later one would probably show me how. My focus right is just to shape the tortilla. I recently prepared a Fiesta Taco recipe that taught me how to do so.

Recently I purchased some Ramekins (custard dishes) for $1.99 each at World Market. They are small ceramic bowls that you can use to bake various delicacies. Basically, you just place the ramakins upside down on a baking sheet. Then you take some store-bought or homemade tortillas, and spray them with cooking spray. After spraying the tortillas, you place them upside down on the bowls to shape them. Cook them at 425 degrees F. until they are a golden brown, and viola, you have a bowl you can eat. LOVELY! Fill it with the stuff you like, and you have a delicious little taco salad. It’s a wonderful thing.

Just remember, “Creativity is a thing of life, and its even better when you can eat it.” Enjoy.

What a Crepe Morning

Berry Good CrepeI think that a Blue Jay was singing out the window this morning, figuratively speaking anyway. You know, one of those days you wake up and it just feels like it’s going to be a wonderful day. That is how I felt this morning.

We have a ministry going on at our church, and I got to cook for the group that is involved in that ministry. Not something that you think would brighten up your day. After all, cooking is a lot of work. However, I actually like to cook, and this morning I got to cook with a group of people whom I adore and have fun with. We met together and started cooking around 8AM, and we were supposed to be ready by 9AM. Let’s just say we missed our mark.

We cooked eggs, bacon, Cajun potatoes, and Berry Crepes. I was like a head chef for a day! People were cutting potatoes, cooking bacon, and preparing the fruit, music was playing in the background, and we just enjoyed putting everything together. Friends definitely make cooking better. Then you get to eat what you make. MMMMMMMM!

Crepes are not really all that hard to make either. One at a time I mixed the ingredients together: Eggs till it frothed, milk, salt, sugar, flour, and butter. Then I got to flip them in a pan. I felt like a professional cook today, without all the stress that is involved.

These crepes turned out awesome. The recipe called for fruit filling with cherries and strawberries, but I am not a big cherry person, so we used raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. It also called for mixing sour cream with confectioners’ sugar as a topping. I thought it was a weird combination, but it was great with the fruit and the crepes. Once I tasted it, it didn’t crepe me out anymore. (Sorry I had to add the pun.)

I recommend this one. It is easy, fun, and enjoyable to eat. Remember, “Cooking with friends can turn an ordinary day into a crepe day!”

Berry Good Crepes:
Crepe Ingredients:

2 Eggs
1 Cup of Milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 Cup Strawberries
1/2 Cup Raspberries
1/2 Cup Blackberries
1/2 Cup Blueberries
3 tablespoons of Sugar

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
1/3 Cup Confectioners’ Sugar

Directions:
1) Beat eggs in a medium bowl until foamy. Add milk, salt, sugar, flour, and butter; whisk until smooth. Cover bowl; let stand for 10 minutes. Grease a small skillet with cooking spray.
2) Meanwhile, for filling mix berries in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar; stir to coat. Let stand. For topping mix sour cream and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
3) Heat skillet over medium heat; add 1/4 cup batter. Quickly tilt skillet to spread batter. Cook until the edges lift easily. Turn; cook until bottom is lightly browned, about 30 seconds.
4) Remove crepe to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. To serve, place 2 tablespoons fruit mixture into crepe. Fold and roll tightly to enclose filling. Add topping.

That’s alot of Bull – and Potatoes!

Black and Bleu Steak and PotatoesWell the Houston Rodeo is in full swing. This is a huge event with Roping, Riding, Bulls, Horns, Rodeo Clowns, Concerts and best of all BBQ! It has cowboys and cowgirls, hats, boots, and spurs. My wife is still talking about Reba McEntire’s boots. There is nothing like having a cattle drive through one of the largest cities in the United States to make you think of steak. So this is for all you meat and potatoes kind of guys or gals.

Steaks are one of those things that my wife really didn’t think that I could do. I mean she was OK with what I have done, but just wasn’t thrilled with my way of making them and I would have had to agree. So I have been trying to find different ways to make a steak and keep it juicy and full of flavor. Well I have found the solution. I recently watched this video (click here) and learned a lot about how to make a great steak. This was in direct conflict to what my wife said that Nate Berkus’ guest was suggesting. But I think that I have a winner either way.

Fabio (from the video) says that steak is something that you don’t have to mess with a lot. He says not to put salt directly on the raw steak. Nate’s guest said that you should put salt on the steak to bring out the juices. I am going to have to go with Fabio on this one. This was a juicy steak, full of flavor, and best of all, my wife loved it. I mixed some butter, fresh parsley, rosemary, and blue cheese. Then I put some crumbles of blue cheese and some green onions on top. It was delicioso. If you get the chance check out the video, and be amazed with a mouth-watering, succulent, full of flavor steak.

Just remember, “If at first you don’t succeed, look it up on the internet.” Have fun!