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Showing posts from April, 2010

Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwich

Living here in the Chicago area, I feel that the rest of the country is terribly deprived of a delicious thing…



Chicago is known for its excellent pizzas but, I’m telling you there is a sandwich here that beats the pizza!  If you haven’t had an Italian beef sandwich, you haven’t truly lived! 
Italian Beef is definitely one of my favorite sandwiches and I had never had it, nor even heard of it till moving here from Louisville.  It is a unique messy sandwich of thinly sliced, well-seasoned beef, sweet or hot peppers, dripping with spicy au jus, served on a dense long Italian-style crusty roll.  Al Ferreri and his family members created it in 1938.  Have a look at how it Al did it the Chicago way!
For juiciness, there are varying degrees from dry to soaked:
1.  Dry:  beef is pulled from the juice with tongs, no juice added. 2.  Wet or dipped:  the bread is quickly dunked in the juice prior to serving. 3.  Juicy:  a degree wetter than the first one. 4.  Soaked:  dripping wet, as sloppy as you …

Zucchini Casserole

We all love mozzarella on pizza but as I have said before fresh mozzarella on vegetables is a wonderful thing.  I buy my mozzarella at an Italian market and love it because it is a sweet, delicate cheese with a slight tartness that pairs beautifully with many foods. 
It’s a little early for the zucchini explosions from the gardens and farmers markets but it is always easy to find at the grocery store.  It’s a great vegetable to serve as fritters, in a salad, with pasta or in a good loaf of bread.
This dish is just zucchini, cheese and a touch of seasonings to flavor it.  It’s delicious with meat or fish from the grill and makes a perfect side dish that is a bit different.  And now I’m thinking a little crumbled crisp bacon sprinkled on top would be wonderful also!

Zucchini Casserole
Ingredients:
1 large red onion, chopped 2-3 cloves garlic, minced 1½ pounds zucchini, cut into slices ½ pound fresh mozzarella, shredded ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or thyme, chopped
Me…

Spicy Cooked Cabbage

Let’s talk cabbage!  OK, cooked cabbage doesn’t take a pretty picture and it can surely emit a stinky aroma throughout your house if cooked poorly.
My love affair with cabbage started many years ago, whether it was raw or cooked.  It’s cheap, it’s subtly sweet, it’s aromatic, it’s tasty and it’s filling.  

Unfortunately, it gets a bum rap even though it is filled with vitamins A, C and E, is high in fiber, low calorie and fat free.  Maybe it is not only because it isn’t pretty but because some people tend to over-cook it into a mushy grey mess.
For best results, cabbage should be thinly sliced and cooked a short amount of time; thereby, reducing the unpleasant odor.  The longer it cooks, the stronger it smells.  

There is a ton of ways to cook it:  in a noodle dish, as a soup, as a salad, sauerkraut, egg rolls, stuff it, but my favorite is just simply cooked, adding a few spices and served.  I especially love the caraway seeds with it and the smoked paprika not only gives it great flavor…

Cheesy Cottage Potatoes

Do you know why the potato crossed the road?  I’ll tell you later!
I love potatoes!  Boiled, baked, roasted, fried, and raw also; it doesn’t matter.  Recently, I even came across a recipe for potato FUDGE!  Now, we all can get even more deliciousness and calories from a potato.  I just might have to try that recipe!
Even though I grew up on a farm, I never did dig potatoes that I can remember.  That’s not so with Bill when he helped his grandfather with the chore.  He says it was hard work as you had to dig them out with a fork, being careful not to pierce the potatoes.  Then, it was a case of putting the potatoes in the bushel basket, picking it up and moving it to the next potato plant.  And as he worked his way down the row to the end that bushel basket was almost more than a young boy could carry.  I think that’s one reason he is so muscular today ~ it’s all that gardening work when he was a lad! 
I always thought that potatoes came from the land of Erin, not so!  The first potatoes…

Blackberry Cobbler

Growing up on the farm in Ohio, blackberries were in abundance during late summertime.


Ripe and unripe blackberries Patrick Johns/Corbis

 The area by the creek through the farm was filled with wild blackberry brambles and we spent many hours picking, eating and laughing while getting stabbed with all the thorns.  

Then with our stained hands and clothing, we carried the pails back to the house in anticipation of what delicacy Mom would be baking after first eating a bowl of them with just a sprinkling of sugar. 
Mom made many blackberry pies, cobbler and plenty of jam.  I didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time!  Then she froze a plethora of blackberries and we were treated with them all winter long.  I really miss that!

Now, it is nearly impossible to find fresh blackberries here and when I do, they are very pricey.  So I resort to frozen blackberries and they are wonderful even if they aren’t fresh.
Just the thought of blackberry cobbler starts me drooling.  This cobbler is filled wit…

Iceberg Wedge with Roquefort Dressing

My parents were huge fans of Roquefort dressing so I grew up enjoying it from a very young age and it’s my absolute favorite salad dressing.




Is it Roquefort cheese or blue cheese?  It can not be called Roquefort cheese dressing unless Roquefort, France is the provenance of the cheese you use; it is not to be confused with blue cheese. 
Roquefort is a blue cheese which is a general term for cheeses which have been inoculated with Penicillum mold cultures, forming dark streaks or veins of blue-green mold.  There are many varieties of blue cheese with the famous ones being Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton ~ most of them having a unique pungent aroma and a tangy strong taste. 
Roquefort is known as the king of cheeses and is named after the village of Roquefort in Averyon, in the south of France.   It has quite a legend with its discovery:  A young man was eating his lunch of bread and ewe’s milk when he noticed a beautiful girl in the distance.  Leaving his meal in a nearby cave, he r…

Cheddary Corn Casserole

I love corn in just about any form, even candy!


Fresh corn on the cob from our local farmer’s market is my favorite but, that won’t be available until sometime in June.  In the meantime, I bake this great corn casserole now and then to satisfy my craving.  And since I love corn bread also, this recipe combines both of those wonderful things in one dish!

This is a savory delicious dish and so very easy to make with the help of Jiffy cornbread mix.  It is similar to a custard, dappled with tender corn kernels.  I’m sure Southerners would like it with a touch of sugar! 

Cheddary Corn Casserole
Ingredients:
1 can whole kernel corn, drained 1 can creamed corn 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix 2 eggs, beaten 1 stick butter 1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Method:
Melt butter and place in large mixing bowl. Add corn and Jiffy mix, stir well. Add beaten eggs to mixture. Place in medium greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until golden. Top with cheddar cheese. Continue baking for 5-10 minu…

Crab Cakes for Friday

We just wish Maryland blue crabs were available here but, since they aren’t we settled for these crab cakes for dinner last night.


Obviously fresh crab meat would be the best but, canned crab meat is easy to find here, as I am sure it probably is everywhere and it works fine for these crab cakes. 

These crab cakes are made of simple ingredients:  onion, garlic, paprika, Dijon mustard and an egg and bread crumbs to hold them together.  

Just add enough bread crumbs to bring them together.  Shape them into patties very gently, sauté them in a little oil for 5 or 6 minutes on each side until golden and you have a delicious meal ready to eat. 

The crab cakes take very little time to mix together, just 30 seconds and use a light hand when bringing it all together!  These are great crab cakes with lots of flavor and spice!
Crab Cakes
Ingredients:
2 cups lump crab meat (16 ounce can) ¼ cup Panko or other bread crumbs 1 egg ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise ½ small onion, diced ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, gra…

Have an Eggselent Egg Salad Sandwich for Lunch Today!

Egg salad is about as common as the bread it is served upon and here's the version Bill and I both like it.
 Instead of yellow mustard, I usually add ground mustard instead.  The more you add, the more of a bite your egg salad will have.  I then include a touch of ground tarragon, smoked paprika and seasoned pepper for plenty of seasoning. 

Smoked paprika is a striking deep red.  Due to the slow oak smoking, it has an intoxicating smoky aroma.  There are different degrees of it from mild to hot and if you haven’t tried it, you are in for a surprise.
Now, for making hard cooked eggs:    I use eggs that are at least a week old, seems like they peel easier.   Place eggs in a sauce pan with enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch; bring the water to a boil.  Remove the pan from the burner and cover with a lid.  Let it stand for 25 minutes, drain the water off and then fill the pan with cold water and let set for a couple of minutes.  Drain and refrigerate.  The eggs will have a smoot…

Bake My Rhubarb Crunch Cake!

Yes, I know rhubarb is not a middle of the road food ~  you either love it or not!

 I love this pic, the colors! Rhubarb for sale at a grocery store ~ Wikipedia

It seems like everyone I know has a crop of thriving rhubarb or at least a neighbor or friend who unloads shares their harvest with anyone they can.  Therefore; I’m hoping that you are searching for yet another rhubarb recipe to show off your fine baking skills and gardening skills also, if the rhubarb happens to come out of your rhubarb patch.  And have I got a cake recipe just for you!  I’ve had it for years and have no idea where I got it.

What I like about this cake is the crunchy topping with lots of cinnamon and nuts.  Yum!  The rest of the cake is pretty delicious also because it is very moist and fruity tasting.  The topping surely spruces it up flavorfully with crunch!

By the way, from a botanical point of view, rhubarb is a vegetable.  After all, it is leafy green with an edible stalk.  The way we enjoy rhubarb now is h…










“He toasted his bacon on a fork and caught the drops of fat on his bread; then he put the rasher on his thick slice of bread, and cut off chunks with a knife, poured his tea into his saucer, and was happy.”


~ D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers







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