Archive for February, 2011



February 27, 2011

Did you know that pineapple is in season right now?

I didn’t until I read it in one of my magazines.    It’s actually my Everyday Food magazine.  My good friend Cathy got me a subscription for Christmas.  Isn’t that an awesom gift?  I’m not a fan of cookbooks, I think they are a waste of money (how many times have you bought a cookbook to use one recipe?), but food magazines are great.  Don’t be fooled by the Martha Stewart tag line either.  These are great recipes that involve normal ingredients and it’s a small magazine, so it doesn’t take up too much space.

The March addition of Everyday Food highlights one of my favorite fruits, the pineapple.  I love grilling it, making it into a smoothie, baking with it and just eating it.  This recipe let’s me enjoy the flavor in a drink.  A really great drink.

In the 90’s I drank a lot of Captain Morgan’s and Pepsi.  I love Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum.  I always have it on hand.

Pineapple Ginger Rum

  • 1 Pineapple, peeled and cut
  • 1-inch piece of Ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, or your favorite rum

Combine the pineapple, ginger, and rum in a large glass jar with a lid.  Refrigerate for at least 1 to 2 weeks.  You can shake the jar each day until rum is flavored to taste, but that’s really not necessary.  Strain the rum and store in a glass container for up to 2 months.  Use the rum soaked pineapple as a drink garnish or on top of your ham this Easter, or just eat the pineapple.


Pretzel Rolls

February 24, 2011

We love pretzel bread in our house, especially Meeshie.  Her caregiver when she was a baby was a Labriola.  As in Labriola Baking.  As in Labriola Cafe in Oak Brook. 

They would take her to the bakery and come home with bags and bags of the most mouth-watering bread. 

My girlfriend Angel was in town a few weeks ago and I met her Labriola Cafe and had the hamburger.  On a pretzel bun.  Heavenly.  I don’t know what it is about a hamburger on a pretzel bun so good, but it is.  Truly.

Monday was a holiday, so I set to work making these bad boys.  Then I made hamburgers on the panini press. 

These rolls are seriously good.

Pretzel Rolls

  •  1 ½ C warm water (110°F or comfortably warm to the touch)
  • 1 T active dry yeast (1 package) – not quick rise yeast
  • 2 t sugar
  • 4 ½ C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 4 T unsalted butter, melted
  • for the poaching & glazing:
  •  1/4 C baking soda
  • large saucepan of water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • pretzel salt-I used kosher salt

For the dough: Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and let rest 5 minutes until foamy.  Add the remaining ingredients (sugar, flour, salt, butter) and mix with the dough hook until thoroughly combined, the dough comes together and is rather silky – but not sticky – to the touch.  

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.  Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.  Cut the dough into 18 pieces, roughly 2 ounces each, or larger to make hamburger buns.   To shape, take a piece of dough and start forming a nice round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal.  By doing this, you’re creating a smooth skin around the dough ball.  Place, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling the ball around the palm of your hand.  This takes some practice.  Space evenly on the prepared sheet pans, pinched seam side down, leaving at least 1” between each roll.  Cover with a tea towel or a light film of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil.  Add the baking soda and lower heat to a simmer.  Carefully slip the rolls into the poaching liquid, seam side down.  Poach for 30 seconds then carefully turn the roll over in the liquid.  Poach other side for 30 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pans, seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining rolls, leaving at least 1” between rolls for baking. 

With a pastry brush, glaze each roll completely with the lightly beaten egg making sure to coat all sides completely.  Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt.  With a sharp straight edged knife, cut a slash or “X” in the top of each roll. 

Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking – top to bottom, front to back – for even browning.  Cool completely Rolls are best eaten on day of baking (most especially when warm with a little butter) but they store pretty well in the freezer, tightly wrapped.  Reheat in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Here’s the original.  As you can tell, stresscakes rolls are much better looking than mine.  I think I need to poach them for a little longer.  But I’m loving her site.  How could I not?  Two Polish girls from Chicago.  Yeah!


Sunshiny Day

February 22, 2011

I made clotted cream on Sunday.  My husband loves when I make it because he knows that he’ll be having scones.

I wanted to make some lemon flavored scones for spring.  Of course, it rained and snowed yesterday but that’s to be expected this time of year.

I couldn’t find any recipes that really interested me.  Most of them were all about the lemon glaze for the scone, but when you have clotted cream you don’t really need a glaze.  So I took my very berry scone recipe and altered it.


I think the key is the double sifting of the dry ingredients.  That and making sure that the scones are warm for your husband to enjoy before he leaves or work.

Lemon Scones

  • 2 1/2 C Flour
  • 2 t Baking Powder
  • 2 T Sugar
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1/2 t ground Ginger
  • 6 T Shortening
  • Zest from one Lemon
  • Juice from one Lemon
  • 3/4 C Milk

Sift and measure the flour. Re-sift the flour with the other dry ingredients. Work the shortening into the dry ingredients with your fingers. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix thoroughly. Add the milk and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Divide the dough into two equal parts. On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat into a round about the thickness of a biscuit (about 3/4 to 1 inch thick). Cut into wedge shaped pieces, like a pie and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Serve warm with fresh Clotted Cream (see my recipe box for my Clotted Cream recipe).


An Easy Morning

February 20, 2011

We love biscuits and gravy.

Nothing beats this easy morning meal.  Nothing except a bad sausage and gravy recipe that is.  This one is not one of those.  I’ve been tinkering with a good recipe for along while.  I’ve tried some bland ones.  Really bland.  Nothing is more disappointing than a bland sausage gravy recipe.  It’s like paste.

The secret to this is keeping additional sausage drippings.  I keep them in the fridge just like I keep bacon drippings.  The extra fat and flavor is key to this recipe.

Plus I mentioned that it was easy, right?  It’s a perfect breakfast on a rainy day like today.  You can use whatever biscuit recipe you like.  As a matter of fact, I’d love to try any that you suggest.

Sausage Gravy

  • 1 lb Breakfast Sausage
  • 4 T Breakfast Sausage Drippings
  • 1/4 C Flour
  • 3 C Milk
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1/2 t Pepper

In a large skillet, brown the broken up sausage over medium heat.  Do not drain.  Add the additional sausage drippings, flour, salt and pepper.  Stir constantly until the flour begins to brown.  Slowly add the milk and continue to stir.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, cooking for about a minute or two until it thickens to the consistency that you desire.  Keep in mind that as the gravy cools it will thicken.

Pour over your favorite biscuits.


A Near Miss, or Was It?

February 15, 2011

I found this recipe for a dish called baeckeoffe in a book a read recently.  I thought I would give it a try.

This is a type of stew that is usually made with pork, beef and lamb.  I must confess that I don’t like stew.  This version just had pork, which I like so I thought what the heck.  Leeks, pork and wine?  What could be better than that?  As it turns out, quite a few things.

Let me tell you that we didn’t like this dish and here’s why.  The gin.  The gin was a very strong flavor in this dish.  If you like gin, than give this a try.  It’s really simple to make.  I thought that if I made it again I would either cut down on the gin or omit it entirely and just add more white wine.  Good idea, except that my husband told me to never make this dish again.  This was, of course, while he was getting a second helping. 

Talk about mixed signals. 

I liked the tenderness of the meat.  I liked the tenderness of the potatoes.  I liked pairing it with some rustic bread and mustard.

I just didn’t like the strong flavor of the gin.

If I ever make this again, I would also season it more.  I used truffle salt at every layer, but I would use more of it.  The potatoes needed a slight boost in the flavor department.


  • 3 Leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 C chopped carrots
  • 1 C chopped onion
  • 3 T minced parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lb pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 3/4 C gin
  • 1 C white wine
  • 1 lb yellow potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the leeks, carrots, onion, parsley, garlic, pork, gin and wine.  Cover and let marinate at least two hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remove the pork from the fridge;  allow to come to room temperature while you slice the potatoes.  Lightly oil a 3.5 quart covered casserole, then layer half the potato slices on the bottom of the pot.  They can overlap slightly.  Season with salt and pepper, then, using a slotted spoon, remove the meat and vegetables from the marinade, reserving the marinade.  Layer them over the potatoes, and season with salt and pepper.  Cover the meat and vegetables with the rest of the potato slices, and season with salt and pepper.  Place the tomato slices over the top in a single layer.

Pour the reserved marinade over the whole thing, season with salt and pepper again, cover and bake for two hours, leaving the lid slightly off center to vent it.

Serve with bread and your favorite mustard.

The smell in the kitchen while this was in the oven was fantastic.  Seriously. 

We were so excited to give this a try.  We were also so disappointed when it didn’t turn out as we expected.  Has that ever happened to you?


Another Reason to Use My Panini Press

February 13, 2011

I made these sandwiches with my Panini press and they were so easy.   A Cuban sandwich is a variation of a ham and cheese and was created in Florida.  Miami, I think.

Have you ever had a Cuban sandwich?  I hadn’t but I’ve seen them on menus and on television enough to be interested. I never made one before because I didn’t have anything to press them with.  That was before the Panini press, of course, and now that I do I’m so happy that I did.

Remember the pulled pork I had?  Well I had just enough leftover to make this sandwich.  The combination of the pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard is extraordinary.  Really.  Who knew something so simple could be so good?

I must confess that I did add the pickles and mustard at the end of the process, once I took the sandwich off the press.  I’m not a fan of warm pickles and I did like the slight snap of them on the sandwich.


  • 4 hoagie rolls  
  • 1/4 lb Deli Ham, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 lb Pulled Pork
  • 4 Slices Swiss Cheese (I used Jarlsberg, but you can use whatever you like)
  • 12 Hamburger pickles
  • Yellow Mustard

Slice the bread horizontally in half and divide the ham, pulled pork and swiss cheese evenly among the slices of roll. 

Heat your Panini maker, line it with parchment paper and place the sandwiches inside, place parchment paper on top and  press down.  Grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is flat and browned, approximately 10 minutes.  Once you remove the sandwiches from the press, add the pickles and mustard.  I know that many of you may shake your heads at this because a true Cuban is totally assembled prior to the pressing, but again I don’t like warm pickles. 

Serve warm with your favorite side.



February 10, 2011

We love mexican food.  I especially love a mexican dish that can be made ahead and served later.  This pork enchilada dish is perfect for that.  Whenever I make pulled pork, I always leave some for this dish.  I love the how the pulled pork tastes in this dish, plus pork is so moist.  The flavor of everything together is just so heavenly.

It does make a lot of food, so it’s perfect for company or for putting in smaller containers.  I usually make this, put it in two smaller dishes and stick one in the freezer.  Then I can just put it in the oven, set the timer, and when I get home from work  we have a hearty meal during the week.  You can serve this with a side of rice and refried beans or just as is.   

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

  • 2 ½ C Pulled Pork
  • 1 14.5 oz. Can Chicken Broth
  • 3 T Canola Oil
  • 12 Tortillas, corn or flour
  • 1 whole  Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole 4 Oz Cans Diced Green Chilies
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Seeded And Finely Diced
  • 1 t Paprika
  • ½ C Half and Half
  • 2 T Butter
  • 2 T Flour
  • 1 C Sour Cream
  • 2 ½ C Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Heat a small amount of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas for no longer than 20 seconds, just to soften (do not allow to become crisp.) Place tortillas on a large towel or stack of paper towels to drain.

    Heat the remaining oil in separate skillet over medium heat. Add onions and jalapenos and saute for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the pork, a can of the green chilies, the paprika and stir together. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and the half and half and stir, allowing mixture to bubble and get hot. Turn off heat and set aside.

    In a separate large skillet, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together and cook over medium heat for one minute. Pour in the remaining chicken broth. Whisk together and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the remaining  chilies. Reduce heat, then stir in sour cream. Add the grated cheese and stir to melt.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

    To assemble, spoon pork mixture on top of tortillas, one by one. Place seam side down in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

    Pour cheese mixture all over the top of the tortillas, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

    I like to serve them with sour cream, but you can add whatever you like to them.

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