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May 2010

recipe: a good dinner tonight

The pork tenderloins, leeks, organic carrots and potatoes are from Wegman's. 

Pork tenderloins seasoned with Kirkland Steak Seasoning, leeks, carrots and potatoes tossed with olive oil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, cooked at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, to 160 degrees. 

Tipped the juices and some of the leeks into a pan with about 3 tablespoons of butter, because I'm greedy, let it start to reduce, then added, oh, 1/3 cup dry vermouth, reduced some more, 

Then added about a cup or so of half and half, and let it come to a boil. 

I'm no good at "plating" food unless I think about it, which I forget to do. 
But it still tastes very good. :-)

We're being watched

By our food.

I mentioned this first one in another post a long time ago, of recipes that disappointingly did not feature photos. But it turned up in a different cookbook from a few years later, and this is probably a good thing, as food photography had advanced a bit by that time. 


Not enough, though.

There's no explanation as to why this is called ravioli. Well, see, ravioli is a pasta wrap, technically. And then roulade is a French way of rolling something up in something. So, ravioli roulade would be, er, a redundant term for rolling up something wrapped. I dunno, you figure it out. Probably there was this huge argument over whether to call it ravioli because of the outside, or roulade because of the inside. Punches were thrown, someone's glasses got bent, and then the chief editor made the executive decision to use both names. 

There's no actual pasta in this dish, as they've used crescent roll dough instead, and I'm sure it would taste fine, though marinara sauce wouldn't be my choice. 

None of that matters

What matters is that it looks like giant infected toes with eyeballs on top. And antennae. Go ahead, picture yourself picking one up and biting into it. I don't think you can. 

Now, these look like they may leave on their own.


Again, they probably taste perfectly fine. They're like the inside of a stuffed pepper. Or a diseased organ, you make the call. But this time the eyeballs are attached to homing collars. The antennae are part of a sophisticated wing mechanism. This time, they will make their escape.

Meat-stuffed meat

Who can get enough? 

These two gems are from one of my most favorite cookbook treasures, 

Good Housekeeping

Good Housekeeping

I love it so much I wrote it into one of my ongoing stories that might be a whole book someday. There are recipes in it I'd actually make. It's just all so desperate and precious in construction. On a single page, you'll find recipes for "nutted yam balls," "burgers italiano on hero rolls," and "tuna ring with blue-cheese sauce." Overwhelming, I know.

Anyway. What's special about these two dishes is that they have you put the garnishes on the inside, yet when you serve it, there they are revealed, decorative and delectable, at the same time. 

This is a loaf of bread stuffed with meat which is stuffed with more meat. Specifically, it's hamburger stuffed with hot dogs. And pickles, of course. I'm not sure they knew about the colon in 1971, and its role in our ongoing health.*

Frank-and-burger loaf

Frank-and-burger loaf

They show you how to do it with a round loaf and a long one, so you can be creative with your table display. 

Inside the ground beef you'll find all the important garnishes mixed together; egg, onion, green pepper, and, of course, chopped pimiento. What would hamburger be without that? They also recommend 1/8 tsp msg. I don't know why. I don't remember my mom ever having a jar of that in our pantry. 

So you mix up this meatloafish stuff, spread it on bread, top it with hot dogs and sweet gherkins, add more meat and the bread, and bake it. Then you have these sort of sandwiches. To be honest, I think it would taste all right, but the texture confounds me. 

*No, of course they knew we needed "salad" for our insides. They recommend you make one for this meal out of stuffed olive slices in tomato aspic (like this, minus the shrimp.) 

It would come back up really easily, at least. And then you'd have room for the cheesecake they recommend for dessert.

Another meaty Autumn entry:

Ham-rolled beef birds

Ham-rolled beef birds

You are not, no matter how you try, going to guess how this goes, so here goes:

1. cook some chicken livers and mushrooms in butter, salt and pepper, then chop finely.

2. sprinkle slices of boneless top round with salt and pepper, and some of the liver mush.

3. add strips of ham.

4. alternate adding carrot sticks and "pickle sticks."

5. roll up, secure with toothpicks, roll in flour, brown in butter.

6. add onions, tomato paste, condensed beef bouillon, simmer for 90 minutes and watch the magic unfold. 

(Suggested side dishes: buttered macaroni shells and chopped broccoli. Mince pie for dessert. Buy an extra plunger for tomorrow.)

Anyway, they're called beef birds because when you cut them open and see the pickles, carrots, ham and liver inside, it looks like the interior cavity of a pheasant. 

No, I don't know, they just used to call beef that whenever they rolled it up with stuff. Bon appetit!

chicken soup: a slightly blurred pictorial



Chop vegetables and herbs



Thaw chicken (these are 4 bone-in thighs and a pound of boneless breast tenderloins)



Soften vegetables and herbs (I added some dry herbs to my basil and thyme since it was raining outside and I didn't want to pick more fresh stuff.)



Add tomatoes, half a can of tomato paste (and 6 cups of water)



Add chicken and cook for half an hour



Take out chicken, cool, remove fat and bones, chop, add back to soup



Boil some pastini



Put pasta in bowl, add soup and cheese





Add freshly cracked pepper. 

Eat two bowls; it's good for you. 

Weekend Recipe: Gelato

Here is a story of how to make gelato at home. It's just not the recipe with instructions. I grow more Italian as I age, so I'm going to explain it to you, instead, the way I would if we were making it together. If you insist, you can just follow the parts that are bolded.

To begin somewhere in the middle, you should start this about 24 hours before you want to eat it. But 9-12 would do in a pinch. As with most ice cream recipes, you can add crunchy things or fruit in for the last few minutes of churning. But I am going to recommend that you don't. More on that farther down. 

You need a heavy medium-sized saucepan, and another one that's a double boiler, or that you can fit a stainless steel bowl onto. You also need a (slightly larger than) quart-sized container that you can refrigerate and freeze, with a good lid. A whisk. A rubber spatula. A wooden spoon. Plastic wrap. And the usual measuring things. 

This is very easy to do, but requires a little genteel patience. 

My basic batter calls for a quart of half and half

but I have used two cups of heavy cream and two cups of milk. Don't use lower than whole fat milk. Honestly, you're going to have a lovely satisfying serving of this, much better than if you make some thin low-fat thing that you'll want a whole lot of in order to feel sated. 

Plus, 6 egg yolks. Separate your eggs cold, then let the yolks sit out for a bit while you get the other stuff together. Freeze the egg whites, and after you've made this twice, you have enough to make an Angel Food cake. :-)

1 cup of sugar. And some flavoring, including vanilla extract

What could be easier? 

If you want to start fancy right off the bat, you can soak a couple of vanilla beans in the cream (refrigerated) overnight, heat it, and then scrape them or take them out or whatever you prefer to do with those. I did this with spearmint leaves the other day. 

The finished gelato had a nice subtle minty flavor, balanced with some vanilla extract and a capful of Cointreau. 

So what else might you soak in a quart of milky cream overnight? Orange peel would be interesting; you could finish it with some sliced almonds, maybe, and have it with a shot of amaretto, if you like. You need to be patient and let it soak the whole 24 hours, though, otherwise, just flavor it the regular way. 

But to start with vanilla and catch up later, what you do is this:

Heat the cream in the medium saucepan until it is at scalding temperature, and remove whatever matter you may have fancifully tossed in last night for flavor. (Which you didn't need to do, but if you did.)

While that is heating, whisk together 6 egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar in the top of a double boiler. The water beneath it should be just simmering. When the eggs and sugar have been stirred for a few minutes, it will look lemony-pale, and the texture will have changed somewhat. Make sure it's heated, but not boiling. And then,

Add about a half cup of the hot cream into it and stir that in, then use the rubber spatula to add the egg yolk with cream mixture to the rest of the hot cream in the other pan.

Stir this for 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Let it simmer, but not go crazy boiling. I like the wooden spoon for this part in particular. After 10 minutes, the mixture will coat your spoon. 

Take it off the heat, and add some plastic wrap right on top like you do for boiled custard or pudding. Set a timer for 10 more minutes. 

After 10 minutes of cooling, pull off the plastic wrap, and if it does have some batter stuck to it, use the rubber spatula that's been rinsed to get most of it back in the pan and then lick the rest off. It will be tasty. It may look a little separatey, but it should be fine in the end.

Stir in a tablespoon of vanilla extract, or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 2 1/2 of almond extract, or you can use peppermint or whatever you like. A little vanilla added in with other flavorings gives it more body. You can add grated orange zest with almond or vanilla; that's nice, especially if you steeped orange peel in your cream overnight. Or you can dissolve enough instant espresso powder to make about 1/4 cup, and stir that in. Still add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. 

Now this is the second part that requires patience. Put the batter into your quart container and refrigerate it for (at least) 4 hours. Make sure, during this time, that your ice cream freezer is ready to go. I got a new one last year from Costco, 

and I leave the part with the antifreeze stuff in it in my freezer all the time so I'm always frozen treat ready. 

After (at least) 4 hours, put the batter into your ice cream maker and set it to go. (If you want to make this without an ice cream maker, you need quadruple patience, but it can be done. The texture won't be the same, but it'll taste nice. Stick your container in the freezer for half an hour. Take it out and stir it a lot. Repeat until fully frozen. As it gets more frozen, you'll be tempted to stir less, but keep going, anyway, until it's solid when you take it out.) 

After the ice cream maker is finished, you could stir in some chopped nuts or cookies or fruit, but don't. The texture is so nice as it is. Instead, serve some of that stuff on top of it as a nice garnish, or on the side, okay? It'll still be good that way. So just scoop the prepared gelato back into your now rinsed container and put it in the freezer for another 4 hours or more before eating it. Be patient. You can eat it right away, but you'll love how it feels in your mouth if you wait until you put it in the freezer for awhile first. 

A quart of gelato makes 8 half cup servings. If you used cream, it's rich enough, you don't need more than that. Garnish it with something that's both interesting and tasty, like this.

 Or you could put just a half serving on top of a piece of cake. Garnish it anyway, because food is always more pleasurable that way. :-)