Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hamburger Steak

One of the dishes my fellow cook makes for the Senior's lunch on Thursdays is Hamburger Steak.   When she makes this, we get a lot of compliments and people tend to lick their plates, when no one's looking that is.     I love Salisbury Steak myself, but really hadn't gotten into adding a lot of stuff to the meat.  I usually just season the meat with some seasoned salt and pepper and then cook them.
Last night I thought I would try making Robin's recipe for Hamburger Steak at home.   And it was good, but I have to say, not as good as when she makes it.   But I still thought it was tasty.   Enough so that I'm going to share it with you. 

Take a pound of hamburger meat, season with some Cavender's Greek seasoning.  
I used about 1/2 teaspoonful, one minced onion, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, one egg, 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs.   Mix together and form into 4 good sized patties.

Use your finger and make a dimple in the middle of each patty and then go ahead and fry them in a lightly greased pan.   (the reason for making a dimple in the middle of each patty is so that it cooks evenly.  Otherwise the meat plumps up in the middle and oftentimes the middle is rarer than the outer edges.   And it cooks faster as well)

Cook til the internal temperature is about 160 degrees.

With the egg in there, you don't want to be eating them medium or rare.  After the patties have finished cooking, remove to a separate platter and keep warm.  Drain most of the fat out of the pan, reserving about 2 tablespoons.   Deglaze the pan with some water, I like to use the water potatoes have cooked in, about a cup or so, then thicken with some flour or cornstarch.   You can also make a packaged brown gravy and add it to the pan juice instead of the flour. 

Serve with some lovely sauteed onions and mushrooms

Gotta have those on my meat.

Then just plate the Hamburger Steak with some potatoes, maybe some fresh corn or your choice of vegetables.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

"Chopped" my version

I'm a big fan of the Food Network show "Chopped."   It's always fun watching professional chef's open the mystery basket and proceed to make a meal out of such diverse ingredients like, oh gee, dried limes, butterscotch candies, french fries, lamb.  I guess lamb isn't that weird, but when you have weird ingredients to go with it, and have to get it on the table, and not only looking good, but tasting great, well, my hat's off to those cooks.   I've learned so much about different foodstuffs that we would never, ever see in our little town.    And totally in awe that they can make an appetizer, entree or dessert and do it so quickly, with very few missteps in the time allotted.    

However, I have my own version of Chopped, nearly every week.   When we plan our meals at the Senior Center, we try to use whatever Farmshare items have been brought in the previous week.  (Our weekly/biweekly stuff comes in just as we're serving lunch most weeks).    In one memorable week we got cases of cream, heavy cream, which I proceeded to make butter out of, and because I froze a lot of it, we've continued to have fresh butter available every week for months now.  Plus of course the custard sauce, (Creme Anglaise) and other decadent goodies I make from the cream.   Which I love to do, let's face it, I'm a frustrated baker, and love to make goodies.   This week I had some fun with whipped cream and hot chocolate mix.   And am kicking myself, I didn't get a picture.  But let me describe it for you.   I made a yellow cake, from a mix, then Ginnie poked holes in the cake, poured cherry jello over it and placed it in the cooler.

I whipped up some cream and added a little sugar and then pulled out some hot chocolate mix we had in the pantry, added about 1/2 cup of the mix to the whipped cream and dolloped some of that on the cake.   Cherry and chocolate go so well together, and we used some of our Farmshare cream.   When I went to check on the dessert table, there were none left.  

We've gotten zucchini and yellow squash, in the past,  acorn squash, tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant and various juices, milks, etc.     We do put out the food for our seniors to take, and believe me they do take advantage of it.   But we get to use some of the foodstuffs as well.   I've learned so many new cabbage dishes, and have introduced some of my favorite recipes to our lunch patrons as well.   I made some Rødkål a couple of weeks ago, plus I've made Squash Medley a few times.

I learned cabbage isn't just for coleslaw and cabbage rolls.  Well, I already knew that, but I've been learning many new ways of preparing cabbage as well. 

And it's just plain fun trying to come up with ideas on how to use some of the veggies we get.  And another thing we have in common with Chopped, we have a time limit, we have to have the meal ready by noon.  Which can mean that the last hour or so can get a little crazy making sure that all the various elements are ready on time.

This week we had Fried Tilapia, Hush Puppies, Shepherd's Pie, Turnip Greens, Coleslaw, and Biscuits for lunch.     Robin and Ginnie did the fish and hush puppies, I kept an eye on the Turnip Greens, made the Shepherds Pie as well as having baked the three cakes earlier.   And we're still trying to figure out what to make for next week.   So, I'll keep you updated with that one. 

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Char Sui, Egg Rolls and Tapa's for July

Up until Friday I had no idea what I was making for Tapa's night.   My mind was blank, zippo, nada, nothing came to mind.  sigh.

But then I remembered running across a recipe clipping for Char Shu pork last week, and while I was at one of my favorite stores this week in the Big City, I also picked up a few necessities,  Sesame oil, Char Sui sauce, Hoisin sauce, noodles, you know, just pantry items.   At least for me they're pantry items.  I love to use Sesame Oil to season and enhance foods.   The Char Sui sauce looked interesting and of course Hoisin sauce, which I use to enhance BBQ sauce.  It adds that little 'something' to make a sauce more interesting.

So, I picked up some pork tenderloin tips at the store, slathered the Char Sui sauce on them, and marinated them for a couple of hours before throwing them in the oven to cook off.    I then sliced them thinly and served them with some Chinese Hot Mustard and Chile Sauce.    I do have to say, if you're going to serve something like this mustard, it would be a good idea to put a little sign in the pot warning people.   Unfortunately I didn't do it, until a couple of my guests had tried the mustard out the hard way.  So I made a sign and put it in the pot.

I also made some egg rolls, and followed some tips I had gotten online of making sure that the filling was not too moist before rolling up the egg rolls.     
 Stir fry some finely sliced cabbage, I only used a quarter of a head, three carrots, cut into matchsticks or grated, a can of chinese vegetables, drained, half a pound of fresh mushrooms.
 Hint:   If you don't use fresh ginger all the time, freeze the root, and then take out of the freezer and use a Microplane to get however much of the ginger you need for a recipe.
 I love my Microplane, and by using it, I can get just as much ginger for the recipe as I need from the frozen root.   I used about a half teaspoon here.  I then added a dash of sesame seed oil, some soy sauce, rice vinegar, and let it cook for a couple of minutes so that the flavor would infuse into the vegetables. 
 Dump the cooked veggies into a pan and tilt it until the juice runs off.   When making egg rolls you don't want there to be much juice.   It makes them soggy.   Especially when you make them earlier in the day and fry them just before your guests arrive. 
 I would suggest dusting the prepared egg rolls very, very lightly with a little cornstarch to prevent them from sticking to each other if you prepare them earlier in the day as I did here.    I also made these vegetarian, because I knew some of my guest are vegetarian.  But you can add some minced shrimp, chicken or pork to the vegetable mixture when you're cooking the initial veggies.   And you know me, that lovely liquid which came off of the vegetables, I kept it and added it to my stock container in the freezer.  Am I going to have a great stock pot soon.  giggle.

And I have to apologize.   I didn't get pictures of all the food, I thought I had, but I guess I was having too good of a time so I missed some shots.   sigh.   However, as usual the food was fantastic, the variety of foods brought was intriguing and we all had a good time.     And some of the pictures are a little blurry.     I missed getting pictures of an awesome salad and some cupcakes.  
Quinoa Salad

 There was some awesome goat cheese in this container as well as some fantastic pita crackers.

Rotel Bites

Cowboy Caviar

Caprese Salad

Greek Spinach Dish (sorry can't remember the name)
Fresh Fruit and Biscuits (Cookies for the Yanks).

Brownies in the foreground, and a fantastic fruit salad in back.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vandbakkelser - Another Choux Paste Idea

I'm hoping by now you've mastered the delicate art of dumping flour into a pot of boiling water and butter and adding some beaten eggs a little at a time, and transforming that mass of gooey dough into little puffs of golden deliciousness.  Oh, was that too much hyperbole?   Sorry, well, not really.   I love this stuff.   And the versatility of Choux Paste, continues to amaze me.    I'm going to show you how to make a last minute, fancy kinda dish you can make for unexpected company.   My mom used to throw these together at a minutes notice, well, more like a half an hour or so notice.   They are called Vandbakkelser. 

You have to understand the way I grew up.   A good Danish household always has at least one kind of cake and two kinds of cookies to offer for afternoon coffee.   Just in case you get company.    You have to be prepared.   And none of that store bought stuff either.    We always had a tin of cookies, maybe not always a choice of cookies, but there was something that we could put out on a pretty plate and offer guests.     I grew up on a farm, and while Mom baked bread every week,  she also  made sure to have a cake at least or cookies on hand so Dad could have a treat in with his lunch box.  But sometimes we got unexpected guests and she would be out of cake or cookies.  So she would whip this up and serve it.    And I forgot the name for these til I talked to my brother, and asked him.  My bad.     But I can tell you I've made my share of these over the years, and every time I make it, people gobble it down.   (can you guess I've been caught out a couple of times as well, without something for afternoon coffee).

 By the way, thanks Mom, I appreciate you.   And Dad too, since he made the awesome stir spoon I use.   I love the feeling of connectedness I get when I use it. 

Make your basic choux paste recipe, recipe follows at the end as well.   Divide the dough into two, and then just make two long loaves using a spoon to spread it out a little on a parchment covered baking sheet.

Make sure you have enough room in between each of the loaves.    They do spread out a little.  Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees, it should have puffed up nicely, but don't open the oven door (like I just did, dang it, it will fall!)

check it through the glass door with the light on.    Bake an additional 20 minutes or so, and you can turn down the heat to 375 deg for an additional 10 minutes if it's not too brown.  Take out and let cool on a rack while you prepare the glaze.

Then take them out, let them cool while you prepare the glaze.    And here's where you can have so much fun.   Measure out about a cup of confectioners sugar into a small bowl.   Add a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice and stir.   If it's too stiff, add another few drops of juice, until it reaches a pouring consistency.   (and if you're me, I add a few drops of Grand Marnier or another complementary liquer if it's a little stiff.)

Pour over the loaf, and then cut into slices, that are on the diagonal, or however you want to cut them.

As you can see, I cut first and then poured but that's OK, it still tastes good.
Now go pour yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea and prepare to take a break with me, but you'll have to pardon me if I go ahead and start without you. 

yield: 2 Vanbakkelser or 24 Cream Puffs or?print recipe

Choux Paste for Vanbakkelser

prep time: 20 MINScook time: 25 MINStotal time: 45 mins
This is probably the first coffee 'cake' I ever learned how to make, and the best part is you can use the dough to make Fastlavnboller or Cream Puffs or even fill the puffs with a savoury filling.


  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup flour, all purpose, scooped out and leveled.
  • 1 cup eggs,  (stirred together with a fork and measured into the cup, about 5 large eggs)


  1. Heat water and butter together, bring to a boil.    Take off of heat and dump the flour in and begin to beat it together.    It will be rather lumpy at first but keep beating vigorously.   It does come together.  Keep beating it until it forms a large ball, then place back on medium heat and keep beating it, until it stays together and leaves a thin film of dough on the bottom of the pan.    This tells you that a lot of moisture has evaporated, and it will accept more of the egg.   Take off of the heat now.  Add about 1/4 of the eggs to the dough and beat together.   It will look very strange at this point, cause it separates and looks rather nasty, but keep beating and as soon as the egg has incorporated into the dough, dribble a little more in, and work your arm vigorously again, beating the egg in.   (at this point you can use a mixer bowl and beat it in with that, but I don't like the dough as well when it is done this way, I find it softens it too much, but then again, if you can't beat the egg in by hand, use your KitchenAid, but dribble the egg in a very little bit at a time).   Add the egg, a dribble at a time, beating vigorously with each addition.    If the humidity is high, you may not need all the eggs,  but if it's dry you will.    I've been making this for many years and can tell from the feel of the dough if I need all the eggs or not.    The pastry should just hold its shape when lifted with a spoon. Divide the dough into two, then place each half on a parchment paper covered baking sheet, making a loaf shape. Make sure you have enough room in between each of the loaves.    They do spread out a little.  Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees, it should have puffed up nicely, but don't open the oven door (like I just did, dang it, it will fall!) check it through the glass door with the light on.    Bake an additional 20 minutes or so, and you can turn down the heat to 375 deg for an additional 10 minutes if it's not too brown.  Take out and let cool on a rack while you prepare the glaze. Then take them out, let them cool while you prepare the glaze.    And here's where you can have so much fun.   Measure out about a cup of confectioners sugar into a small bowl.   Add a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice and stir.   If it's too stiff, add another few drops of juice, until it reaches a pouring consistency.   (and if you're me, I add a few drops of Grand Marnier or another complementary liqueur if it's a little stiff.) Pour over the loaf, and then cut into slices, that are on the diagonal, or however you want to cut them.
Created using The Recipes Generator
I've been waiting for this for awhile.   And my coffee's getting cold...

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Haluski (noodles and cabbage) and Senior's Lunches

I can't say I've cared for Cabbage all that well in the past.  I mean I love my Brun Køl, Coleslaw, Red Cabbage (Rødkål), Danish Style  as well as sauteed cabbage for soup.  But until I moved to the south, I had no idea how much people liked their cabbage dishes and I have to admit, I have come to love this humble vegetable.

We get a lot of cabbage as a donation through Farmshare, which we've used in many different dishes, and this week I made some Haluski, which is basically Cabbage with Noodles and Bacon.   A dish I was introduced to while visiting friends in Pennsylvania, and fell in love with.   So I thought it would be a good dish to make for one of our lunches at the Senior's center.   And it was well received, with the only complaints I received being that I didn't get enough cabbage in the dish.   So, the next time I make it, I'm going to put three times the amount of cabbage in there.    I have said it before, I will let you know when I make a mistake  need to make a dish differently.   I am still learning how to gauge the right amount of food to prepare for a lunch, or maybe I should put this another way, learning to gauge the proportions of what is needed for our lunches, and prepare it accordingly.

Let me catch you up on the past few lunches.   Last week the Lion's Club made a donation of Ham for us so we had fun.  We baked the hams with a brown sugar and mustard glaze.   Carved it up and served it with some Baked Yams, made some Cornbread, Turnip Greens, Carrot Salad and Dot's famous Deviled Eggs.
We had enough ham left over that we can make some scalloped potatoes and ham, some Lima Beans and Ham and other good stuff as well.   We don't waste much around here.   Robin and I are both very good at making food stretch until it screams.

 Last month we also had a very nice donated lunch as well.   The local prison's staff made some wonderful Pulled Pork and Chicken for us, as well as some Potato Salad, and Green Beans.  

All we (kitchen staff) had to do that day was to make the breads and desserts.   So we did.   And I had fun.   I made some Cheese Danish which were well received, at least by the kitchen staff.  Just kidding, we did put some out on the dessert table.  

And we're planning on Fried Chicken this week, with Potato Salad, a Macaroni Salad and some Stuffed Green Peppers, and maybe some Collard Greens as well.     Robin will be doing her fabulous Fried Chicken, and I'll be making some Stuffed Green Peppers since we have a bounty of green peppers from Farmshare.   We will also be putting out some cherry tomatoes that came from Farmshare.

And now for the Haluski recipe

2 heads green cabbage, cored and sliced
1 lb. bacon,
2 onions, sliced
2 packages (12 oz) egg noodles, cooked.

Cook the bacon a little in the pan, you want it cooked, but not totally browned.   Remove from pan and do a rough chop and throw it into a large pot, which has been placed over low heat.   Take out all but a tablespoon or so of the bacon grease from the pan and reserve.   Fry the cabbage in the bacon grease, adding more bacon fat if needed.  When the cabbage has wilted, add to the pot with the bacon, then fry the onion in the remaining bacon fat.   If you need more fat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  As soon as the onion has cooked to the translucent stage add it to the cabbage.  Place a lid on the pot and let it cook for a little while, then add the cooked noodles, stir together and serve.    This is one of those dishes, well, let me put it like this, I could eat this every day for a week.  Come to think of it, I probably will the next time I make it. 

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms and Boat Club.

If you read this blog on a regular (or semi-regular) basis, you might have noticed that most of our socializing revolves around food.  Which is not a bad thing, at all.  Not that great for my waistline, but, hey, life is good, mostly.
Last night was our monthly Boat Club get together, and as usual lots of fun dishes.   I think because of the heat, the majority of dishes brought were on the lighter side.   I know I had a nice elaborate dish planned, but realized that I didn't have all the ingredients for it, and really, I didn't want to drive 7 miles into town, and then back again just for two things.

So I went into the pantry for inspiration.   And found it in the freezer.   Something about that cool air moving across my face, just inspired me.  Cool air does that when it's 90+ degrees outside.   I'll post the recipe that was inspired by the cool air at the end here.
But in the meantime...  the cast of characters, parade of dishes, yada, yada, yada...

Spicy Southwest Stuffed Mushrooms

Coconut and plain fried Shrimp

Hummus with Sriacha Sauce and Sesame Oil


Garlic and Artichoke Hummus

Marinated pork Tenderloin

Strawberry dessert

Cheese dip
And now for the Southwest Stuffed Mushroom recipe.
I had a pound of fresh mushrooms I'd purchased a couple of days ago and I thought they would be great served as stuffed mushrooms.  And here's where the cool air from the freezer helped, giggle.   I found a package of Spicy Black Bean Burgers and got an AHA! moment.  

And it didn't even hurt.

I used my trusty little hand operated food processor to make some fresh bread crumbs out of some almost stale bread and set them aside while I got the mushrooms ready.   

I popped out the stems and set them aside, while I put the mushrooms on a rimmed baking tray, upside down.   Hint:  If you pop the mushrooms in the oven for about 10 minutes or so, they will par cook and release a lot of liquid, which you can then use in the filling or...
See that lovely liquid?   That is what comes off of the mushrooms when they've been roasted just a few minutes.   Also that liquid can make your Mushrooms soggy, but it works very well in the filling.   I poured the mushroom juice into the filling, it added a nice boost of flavour.

I chopped up the mushroom stems, sautee'd them in some butter and olive oil, until they had released their liquid, then dumped them on top of the bread crumbs and mixed them all together.   I had grated 6 oz. of Monterey Jack cheese while the mushrooms and stems were all cooking. 
Sometimes I can multi-task without burning stuff.  At any rate, I also sautee'd the Black Bean burger in the butter/olive oil mixture, just until it was hot all the way through, took it out and did a rough chop and added that along with the cheese into the breadcrumbs.
I tasted the filling at this point and decided it was missing something.

The spice and flavor was good but it needed to be amped up a little, so I grabbed a jalapeno, minced it finely, threw it into the pan with a touch more EVOO, and let it saute' for a couple of minutes.   Added that into the bread crumb mixture, tasted it and pronounced myself satisfied.

So I stuffed the mushrooms and threw them into the oven to cook.

And when they came out, I sprinkled a little more cheese on top, I mean, you can't have too much cheese, put them into my to-go container and headed off to Boat Club.

Recipe:  Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms   Makes about 30 stuffed Mushrooms.

1-2 lbs Fresh Mushrooms, stems removed

4 slices fresh bread made into soft bread crumbs
Stems from the mushrooms, chopped
2-3 Spicy Black Bean Burgers  (Morningstar Black Bean Burgers)
1 finely minced jalapeno
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 -8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, reserve 2 ounces set aside

Cook the chopped mushroom stems in the butter and EVOO, add the Black Bean burgers and cook until the burgers are heated through.  Add the jalapenos at the end, just long enough to release their flavour, a minute or so.   Chop up the burger.
Prepare the breadcrumbs while the mushroom stems and burgers are cooking, then mix together the breadcrumbs, mushrooms stems, Black Bean Burgers, 6 ounces of the grated cheese and the jalapeno's.     Set aside.Par cook the mushrooms for a few minutes, then take out of oven, flip right side up and fill with the bread crumb mixture.   Place into oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until browned a little.   Sprinkle with the reserved cheese and pop back into oven for a just a minute or so until the cheese melts.   Serve.
I filled 24 mushrooms, but had enough filling left over for about another 20 or so mushrooms, so it's sitting in the freezer waiting til I get some more mushrooms, then I'll make more, giggle. 

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