Friday, April 23, 2021

Apricot Bars by Grammy Fitzgerald

417.  It was 1980, my college roommate had long beautiful hair and wore hand knit woolen sweaters.  We munched on homemade granola and other fine treats smuggled into our room made expertly by maternal family members.  One of those treats will forever be a delightful memory and truly a gift during those long, hungry stretches of time between breaks and money in the mail.
In my memory lingers the taste of "Grammy Fitzgerald's Apricot Bars"!  Perfection of sweetness, crunchiness, tartness, and dessert satisfaction, they were.  We would cut each into tiny pieces and portion out a small bite daily savoring every bite.  When the tin would grow lighter, it was washed and set aside to send back home for the next batch of delights.  And, I was so grateful to my roommate for sharing her trove.  It helped bring delight to those college famine days. 
It is hard to recollect my thinking for having the presence of mind to ask Grammy Fitzgerald for the recipe.  One of my hobbies over the years has been to collect recipes and recipe books.  I'm pleased to say after sending Grammy a note, she mailed the recipe to me in her own handwriting.  What a treasure!
This recipe was on my dessert menu for Easter and is a recipe to categorize under "Special".
This dessert brought many compliments.  

Here are a few pictures of my process.

"Did I offer peace today?  Did I bring a smile to someone's face?  Did I say words of healing?  Did I let go of my anger and resentment?  Did I forgive?  Did I love?  These are the real questions.  I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come."

~ Henri Nouwen

Friday, April 9, 2021

Pork Loin Roast


416.  Our Easter Dinner was delightful with memorable flavors and feels.  I decided to roast a top loin of pork for our 8 guests.  

Pork is always a challenge when you use the top loin portion due to the small amount of marbled fat.  But, my process did produce a beautifully flavorful result.

The herbs I chose were Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (sounds like a song;-) with 8 garlic cloves.
The butcher butterflied the piece for me and did a perfect job.
I chopped the herbs together and set them aside in a bowl.  Next I rubbed Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
into the meat and then the finely chopped garlic followed by the 2 /3rds of the herbs, salt and pepper.
Then rolling up and tying the roast, sprinkling the rest of the chopped herbs.   I cut it in half to fit into my roasting pan coated with oil.
I roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes then turned down the heat to 325 degrees till the meat registered 140 degrees, approximately an hour.
Once roasted, I saved the pan drippings and made a brown gravy with Kitchen Bouquet and cornstarch mixed with water.  The meat was a bit tough but the gravy added moisture to each bite.  
Notes to self would be to:  Pound meat with a tenderizer before adding flavorings.  This would help with the tenderness once roasted. And, to remove the covering from the roasting pan so the meat would brown or not cover at all.  
We all enjoyed ourselves and the meal was delicious
Simply put, it was a masterpiece!
"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
~Michelangelo

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter Dinner

415.  Sharing a few photos from our Easter Dinner Celebration.  Enjoy!

Roasted top pork loin roll with herbs and mustard marinade.
Handmade Pierogi filled with potato, cheese and onion.  Homemade Dinner Rolls.
Appetizer of Crudités
Desserts included Plum Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Cream Pie,
and Apricot Coconut Squares.
We sat and enjoyed each other's company and ate till we were bursting. 
"The dinner hour is a sacred, happy time when everyone should be together and relaxed.
~ Julia Child

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Shrimp & Grits

414. I have a confession to make, and that is never making homemade grits!   Although, tasting grits in a restaurant several times was enjoyable but being raised in the Northeast, we were not exposed to grits.  

"The Magnolia Table" Volume 2 by Joanna Gaines is a beautiful cookbook and so practical.  It is a great basics cookbook and a brilliant cookbook to have for every day meals and treats.  We have been cooking through this book and when we came across this recipe, I was game to try it.

What I loved was the rapid preparation but, OHHHHHHH, the flavors make you wish this dish would never end!  And, it has bacon.  The End.

Recipe

  • prep: 10 minutes  cook: under 25 minutes 

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup quick-cooking grits

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated, about 2 cups

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Freshly ground black pepper

4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the broth and 2 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour in the grits and salt, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cheddar, cream, butter, garlic powder, and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  2. In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crispy,  about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to paper towels, reserving the drippings in the pan.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turn pink, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Divide the grits among four bowls and top with the shrimp and bacon and a sprinkling of chives and paprika.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.                             Makes 4 servings
    Include this recipe on your "Must Do" list.  Trust me!
    "For me, the art of gathering isn't about appearance or aesthetics.  It's about the way people feel when they're in my home and around my table.  Whether it's my own kids or new friends, I want them to leave at the end of the night with light hearts and full stomachs.  Not just form the food we shared but from the time well spent in each other's company."
    ~Joanna Gaines, "Magnolia Table" Volume 2

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Pickled Eggs


 413.  My Polish is showing again!  And it always seems to around Easter.  

One of my favorite items to enjoy with Easter Dinner is pickled eggs in beet brine.  While living on the East Coast it was always easy to find a jar in any market.  However, West Coast is proving to be very different and less cultured when it comes to international foods available.  

So how hard could it be to pickle my own eggs.  I decided to try!

I purchased small whole canned beets and boiled 6 eggs.  Or you can peel, slice and boil fresh beets and reserve the liquid.

First place the eggs in a large canning jar and the beets in a smaller canning jar.  Then make brine by pouring the beet juice into a small pot adding
 1 cup of white vinegar
 1/4 cup sugar,
 1 cup of water.  
Then place 1/4 teaspoon of ground mace
 2 teaspoons of pickling spices 
 4 whole cloves 
into a cheese cloth bouquet tied with cooking string and dropped into the liquid. Bring to a boil.
The magic happens once you pour the hot liquid over the eggs and beets.
It was necessary to add more juice from another can of beets.  Then, refrigerate for up to 1 week gently turning the jar from side to side daily to distribute the brine evenly.
I will not go back to a purchased product again.  And the compliments were very positive!
To serve, we placed them on a crudités platter.   And you can find my Crudités recipe Here.

"I love fresh beets!  It's not all about the fried chicken and biscuits."
~ Paula Deen

Friday, March 26, 2021

Sushi Bowl

412.  My daughter shared a wonderful twist on sushi.  She took a variety of the components, that can be endless, and created a "Sushi Bowl".  Yes! And the experience was all there, crunchy, spicy, soft, pickled, brain-freezing, delightful, fishy, salty, peanuty.  If you devour sushi, you know all the feels and flavors. 

 Sometimes, when I am at a sushi bar, the special rolls can be so large, I cannot fit them in my mouth in one bite.  It can be a very embarrassing moment when the item you are placing in your mouth is considerably larger than your actual mouth as you carefully hold this delicacy with two thin pieces of bamboo.  And to deconstruct a roll is so wrong!  You must taste the whole piece to experience the flavor bomb the sushi chef has constructed.   So, having all the flavors I love piled high to take smaller bites of enjoyment.  It was a delight!

Take a brief moment and search "Sushi Bowl" image in your browser and you will be surprised how many
 exist.  Here is my recipe:
This meal was so spectacular and gave me all the feels of sushi.  If you are adventurous and want to take a shot at creating your own sushi bowl, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
I also had made my own pickled ginger.  It was either sold out or not available in the markets visited.
Here is my recipe for pickled ginger: Pickled Ginger Recipe
I am excited for you to try this recipe.  It will make you happy, I promise!

"Sushi is something very exclusive.  It is not like a McDonald's, a hot dog or a french fry,  It is very high-class cooking in Japan."
~ Nobu Matsuhisa

Monday, March 22, 2021

Pickled Ginger

411.  If you have eaten Sushi you know how important and amazing the pickled ginger is to your experience.  Recently, I was wanting to make sushi bowls at home, which are basically deconstructed sushi in a bowl over rice.  My search for jarred pickled ginger was fruitless.  It was either sold-out or not available.  So my thought process was to make my own.  I mean, how hard could this be?

I purchased fresh ginger root and found several simple recipes that were very similar.  

Pickled Ginger

fresh ginger root

optional: hot red pepper scored with long cuts, do not remove stem or seeds

1/2 cup rice vinegar

star anise

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup water

Peel and slice the ginger root very thin with a mandolin.  Place red pepper (I used red pepper flakes), and ginger in a heat proof glass jar and drop the star anise on top of the ginger.  In a small saucepan place vinegar, water and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Place a metal spoon in the jar and pour the hot liquid over the ingredients filling the jar. Place the lid on and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Will keep for 3 weeks.

Peeling Ginger 
So my process started with 9Mquv-xpp7-TttTv2 the ginger and this is the easiest way to remove the skin.  A peeler can cut away the yummy ginger but the spoon only scrapes over and away from the ginger flesh.
Making Pickled Ginger 

Now, this is very easy and so practical and the flavor was fresh and complimented our sushi bowls perfectly.
You may have been eating sushi for some time? Well, what you might not know about sushi etiquette could just surprise you. Like many things Japanese, it is all in the details. A Japanese sushi chef gave these tips.  We all have been doing several things wrong for years! So here is a quick cheatsheet on the Dos and Don’ts of proper sushi etiquette.
Dos
- Actually, it is traditional to eat sushi with the hands, not with chopsticks (with the exception of sashimi and some rolls). But it’s OK if you prefer to use chopsticks. Either are fine.
- Turn the sushi roll over and dip the fish (not the rice) into the soy sauce.
- Put the whole portion into your mouth, fish side down toward the tongue.
- Use the fatter back end of the chopsticks when taking food from a shared plate.
- When not using your chopsticks, the should be rested across your plate or on the chopstick rest, parallel to the sushi bar.
- Signal you are finished by resting your chopsticks across your sushi saucer.
Don’ts
- Never rub your chopsticks together after snapping them apart! Apparently this is the height of rudeness.
- Never mix wasabi in with the soy sauce. Sushi should be prepared with the proper amount of wasabi directly on this fish. If, however, you would like more, simply apply it directly to the fish.
- Never rest your chopsticks with just the tips on your plate. And never, ever leave your chopsticks sitting in a bowl with the ends jutting out.
- Do not put the ginger on your sushi and eat it together. Ginger is meant to be consumed between bites to cleanse the palate.
- If eating in a sushi bar, never hand money to the chef. It is considered to be the height of rude.
So never unknowingly offend your sushi chef or fellow diners again. Become a sushi sensai with these sushi etiquette tips.

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