Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'll go back to Tara! What?! Taramosalata! After all, Tomorrow Needs Another Meal.

It’s funny.  I feel like I have to be reticent (even though I am posting on a public blog) as if I were doing something wrong.  I feel like I am breaking the cook’s code of secrecy by freely sharing family recipes.  Why does this feel so wrong?  Why do people hoard their recipes? 

As many of you already know from my FACEBOOK posts, we held an open house last week.  In these parts they call it a “drop in.”  One of the dishes I prepared was a TARAMOSALATA.  What is it?  It’s a whipped caviar spread, best described as a salty, lemony mayonnaise.  The base ingredient is Tarama, carp roe (fish egg) caviar.  Most people use a recipe with a boiled potato or a few slices of bread, minus the crust.  I find the use of potatoes and or bread makes the spread too thick.  I use a recipe that avoids these thickeners. 

·         In a blender, mix 2T tarama and 1T warm water to break up the fish eggs. 

·         Mix in I chopped onion. You might even increase the speed here to puree the onions. 

·         Add 4T lemon juice.

·         Add 1T vinegar. (I used apple cider)

·         Add ¼t sugar.

·         Most recipes call for ½ t garlic, but I don’t add garlic.  The raw onion is strong enough for me.

·         Now, this is where it can get messy.   Add 2 ½ to 3 cups canola oil.    SLOWLY pour the oil through the hole in the top as the blender is running.  If you pour the oil too fast, the spread will clog, only mix from the bottom, and not pull down the spread to incorporate the ingredients.  If it does clog you can always add a teaspoon of water, turn off blender and mix ingredients and then turn blender on again.  BE SURE TO HAVE BLENDER COVER ON when the blades are spinning!  J

Although I made the spread for the party, it is a great Lenten staple since it can be eaten on fasting days.  Taramosalata is great over fresh Italian or French bread.  It’s even better on wheat in a TLC (Taramosalata, Lettuce and Cucumber) sandwich. 
It’s even REALLY good as a salad dressing.  I recently plopped a tablespoon over a serving of shredded romaine lettuce, scooped it onto warmed pita bread and added thinly sliced red onion.  It’s like a Greek Caesar Salad… I'll call it the Alexander (the Great) Salad.  J

Oh, oh!  I think I hear the Recipe Police knocking at my door!  Try it of you like.  Let me know how it works. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sugar and Spice

I want to see how easy it is to post from my cell. Do we still call these things cells? Are they mobiles? iPhones? Cameras?

So here is a picture of my spice rack. No big deal. Salt, pepper, pumpkin spice, dill weed, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaves, oregano, cinnamon- ground and stick, and vanilla.

What spice do you cook with? Anything that isn't on this list?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chicken, Asiago, Pastitsio Leftovers

It’s dinner time and I have a fridge full of leftovers.  I hate (dislike) leftovers.  They are okay for lunch, but not for dinner.  In my head, dinner requires its own meal.  So what do I do?  I make something.  What do I have?  I have boiled chicken breast, milk, eggs, cheeses, noodles, onions and flour.  Now my dad would have made Chicken a la King with these ingredients.  That’s what we would eat when I was a kid.  And I was thinking of doing the same.  But I don’t know how to make Chicken a la King.  I know how to make Pastitsio.  So this is what I do:

·         I start boiling the water for the elbow macaroni and set the oven to preheat at 350 degrees.

·         I chop and sauté Vidalia onions.

·         I chop the chicken breast and put it in a bowl.

·         I find another pot and melt a stick of butter.

·         I put the elbow macaroni in the pot with the (salted) boiling water- I salt the water after it starts to boil.

·         I pull out a medium sized bowl and add 1 maybe 1/2 cup crumbled feta, 1 maybe 1/2 cup shredded asiago, and 1 maybe 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. 

·         I pause to find my recipe for Pastitsio so I don’t ruin the crème sauce. (And this is when I should have just stopped for a moment till the macaroni was finished and drained.  But I didn’t and my crème sauce, professionally known as béchamel, cooked too much and was too thick.  But anyway…)
·         With cookbook open to correct page… I add 8T flour (one tablespoon at a time) and whisk into the butter.
·         When the butter/flour is smooth and turns brown, I slowly add 4 cups of warmed (from the microwave) milk.  We had fat free in the fridge.  You have to stir it over a med heat till it thickens.
·         I then add 4 eggs.  The recipe calls for 4 eggs or 6 egg yolks.  To be honest I didn’t want to mess with leftover egg whites (maybe because I don’t like leftovers) so I used the whole egg.  Keep stirring over a LOW heat till thick.  Now you can add salt and pepper.   
·         At this point, add the chicken to the translucent onion and season.  This time I chose to use a shake or two of ground turmeric, ground garlic and salt.
·         Now assemble.  In a large buttered casserole dish, add:               
o   ½ the macaroni
o   1/3 of the crème sauce
o   spread out the chicken mixture
o   then the cheese mixture
o   the rest of the macaroni
o   and the rest of the crème sauce.
·         Put in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes.  This is a good time to clean the pots and bowls, then with a clean kitchen you can enjoy your dinner. 
This dish is great because after it’s done cooking  it retains the heat for a while after you take it out of the oven… so if your salad isn’t ready or the table isn’t set yet, you still have time before you serve. 


Life Can't be Forced, Only Followed.

I've decided I wanted to blog (again.)
In August, I thought I'd write about books I already owned hoping to finally read them and thought that if I blogged, it would inspire me to read more. But that wasn't a new idea. It was actually an idea I've had for a few years now, just look at my older posts. It just so happens that I forgot that I had the "great idea" already.
It always cracks me up when people come into a situation with a "new" idea as if
·    no one else ever thought of it and
·    as a new idea it was sure to resolve ALL the issues.
Lately I’ve come to realize that an idea is rarely new and it often isn't even good. It's just an idea that never took life or whose consequence was forgotten.
So instead of forcing myself to come up with a “new” idea, I've decided to follow where I seem to be being led. Where I am being led?
Lately I've been posting pictures of my family's dinner on Facebook. It was a result of a Lenten experiment hoping to inspire others to keep the fast, since fasting is a dying discipline in the church and something that is very important to our spiritual growth. I was surprised to see the response to what I was serving my family. People really seemed to like what I was posting. And although they never tried my cooking they encouraged me to post more. I was even asked to write about what I was cooking for someone else’s blog! And that’s when it hit me.  Why would I write for someone else’s blog when I already have my own sitting vacant?
So there you have it!  I will follow where I am being led and write a blog about what I am serving my family for dinner.  That's where I will start. Who knows?  It might transition to breakfast!  Or maybe transform into something completely different.  That’s okay.  I don’t have to control this… I just have to follow where I am being led.  
So follow along of you are curious, if you need a "New" idea or just another option.  Let me know if you tried any of my recipes or if you have another version of the same dish.  I have a feeling this is going to be a ton of fun!