Monday, January 31, 2011

Dinner With Ticky.

Saturday afternoon, Ticky came to visit. Our menu: Thai-Italian Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce and a Cucumber, Red Onion, Peanut, Scallion Sauce Chiles Rellenos
The spring rolls were filled with strips of marinated filet mignon, Boston lettuce, julienned cucumber, pepper, carrots, scallions, sundried tomatoes, and alfalfa sprouts. I got the recipe from Nadia G. of Bitchin' Kitchen. The only thing I changed was the Peanut Dipping Sauce. I've never been a real fan of peanut sauces, but I'm giving it a try again, just cutting back on the peanut butter and giving it a few more adjustments. The peanut sauce is on the left. My cucumber sauce is on the right.
The chiles rellenos were stuffed with whole wheat risotto, which Ticky slaved over for well over an hour, seasoned ground chuck, and cheeses, and were served on a bed of salsa roja and topped with salsa and creme fraiche.
Unfortunately, a bunch of my pictures didn't get uploaded to my computer and I deleted them on my camera before checking. I hate it when that happens. So welcome to my abbreviated dinner, starting in the middle. Ticky started on her risotto about 3:45. She had brought Lundgren's short grained brown rice and wanted to make a risotto, which worked well with my plans for dinner since we could use the risotto as a stuffing for the chiles. As a rule, brown rices take longer to cook than their white counterparts, and this risotto took considerably longer than a risotto with arborio rice. Ticky was still stirring after an hour and the creaminess was just coming. For brown rice risotto, Ticky put some butter and olive oil in a pan and added about a cup of the rice, cooking over medium heat for several minutes. Then she slowly added two cans of beef stock over the period of 1 1/4 hours. When you're doing risotto, add about 1/4 cup of liquid at a time, then cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. In the above picture, I'd just added in some fresh oregano and thyme to the rice, at about the 1 hour mark.
At the end, Ticky added in some chopped onion, squash, and zucchini.
Stir in and slowly cook.
Add in some butter and heavy cream for extra richness.
Risotto in the back. Ground chuck in the front with assorted seasonings - oregano, cumin, onion powder.
Mr. Hawthorne shows off his new T-shirt.
Ticky shows off her new T-shirt. Monty Python reference.
And Rosie shows off her new chef jacket and toque from Ticky for my birthday. Thanks, Ticks!
Stuffings for my spring rolls: Boston lettuce julienned carrot, cucumber, scallion, pepper alfalfa sprouts sundried tomatoes, which I'd poured boiling water over top and had a lovely picture of with the steam wafting off
I had marinated the meat in: 1/4 cup Tamari sauce, a tablespoon of maple syrup, 2 - 1 inch cubes of fresh ginger I keep the ginger frozen, then nuke the pieces for about 20-25 seconds. After nuking, you can easily squeeze the juice out. After I juiced the ginger, I put it through the garlic press to use every bit. 4 cloves garlic, through press 1 dried chile pepper, seeds removed and crumbled 12 basil leaves, torn Mix all ingredients and add in paper-thin sliced filet mignon. Nadia's recipe called for sirloin steak, but we'd just bought beef tenderloin on the way home from the hospital last Tuesday from Southern Packing right south of Chesapeake on Battleground Blvd. for $5.99/pound. Mr. Hawthorne sauteed the marinated slices in butter and olive oil. Just about for a minute.
Tenderloin is ready.
I soaked my rice paper in warm water
for a few seconds, until of rolling consistency.
Some brown rice risotto on the bottom and sauteed tenderloin on top.
Add in some sliced scallions.
Sliced cucumbers, carrots, and peppers.
Roll up. Tightly.
Don't forget the Boston lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, and sundried tomatoes.
Spring rolls are fun. You can use anything in them.
Some people are better spring roll wrappers than others. Spring rolls are ready. I had previously made 2 dips for the spring rolls. One was my rice vinegar/honey/cucumber/ chopped peanut/sliced scallion/red pepper dip. I had all the pictures, the method step by step, and I lost all the pics. I thought I'd transferred everything, even though the connection was acting wonky, and the next day I found out the last three days of pictures have been lost. What can I say? Let me recreate that recipe: 6 TB rice vinegar 3 TB sourwood honey from the Blue Ridge Mountains some diced cucumber, seeded sliced scallions crumbled dried red pepper crumbled peanuts Adjust ingredients to taste. The other accompanying sauce was my take on Nadia G's recipe for a Peanut Dipping Sauce. I toned down on the peanut butter, added more vinegar, and added in the Tamari. 2 TB peanut butter 1 blood orange, juiced 1 TB maple syrup 1 TB balsamic vinegar 1 TB Tamari sauce pinch hot chile flakes I tried another peanut sauce a couple of weeks ago:
After my pre-op visit in Chesapeake, Va., on January 15, Mr. Hawthorne and I tried out a Thai restaurant. There was Pho King restaurant right next to the Walmart. Mr. Hawthorne never passes up a chance to visit a Walmart whenever he travels anywhere. In fact, after being on the road for 2 months this past fall, Mr. Hawthorne has actually discovered that if you ever find yourself away from home and feeling homesick, then just hie thee to a Walmart. The people at Walmart look the same everywhere. Back to Pho King, I ordered something I've forgotten, but there was a sauce with it that I just couldn't place. It tasted almost like chocolate to me. I asked them and was told it was a peanut sauce. I wasn't fond of it. And then I realized that Pho is pronounced as fuh. So go back and check out the T-shirt the employees wear.
Imagine all the lovely pictures of flaming peppers as Rosie charred. All lost. We're having a celebration. Ticky is here. In my vague stream of consciousness way, I give you the parts of the whole. Mid-left I have seasoned ground chuck. Mid-center I have brown risotto. Mid-right I have charred peppers - Poblano and Cubanelle These are the ingredients for my chiles rellenos. Along with queso fresco and mozzarella cheeses. In the very back on the cutting board, I have the partial ingredients for my Spring Rolls - sliced avocado julienned carrot, pepper, cucumber, scallion Boston lettuce sliced sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water alfalfa sprouts
I sliced down one side of the pepper and made a layer of the brown risotto, then placed the seasoned ground chuck on top. Crumble in some Queso Fresco.
Mozzarella cheese.
Stuff and sloppily toothpick together. The Chiles Rellenos are ready to batter.
Mr. Hawthorne whupped some egg white ass and delicately placed the stuffed peppers in.
Boy knows how to fry.
Pool of hot, complex salsa roja. Delicately battered and fried Chile Relleno con ground beef and brown risotta. Creme Fraiche. Made by mixing 1 cup of heavy cream, one tablespoon of buttermilk, and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Cover with a paper towel and leave at room temperature overnight. The next morning, stir, cover with plastic, and refrigerate. Cool Salsa.
Marinated Beef Spring Rolls with two sauces: A mild peanut sauce I adapted from Bitchin' Kitchen, on the left, and a sweet sour sauce I make with rice vinegar, honey, diced cucumber, red onion, scallions, and peanuts.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Update From A Baby Hawthorne.

Rosie is thrilled.
Just a few minutes ago, one of my little Hawthornes called me. He's "left the nest," so to speak. "Mama, I want to make spaghetti and garlic toast tonight. Tell me how. What's that spice you put in the spaghetti sauce?" Well, My Little Grasshopper, take some hamburger meat and sear it, forking it up with a spatula and add salt and pepper, maybe soy sauce, some Lea & Perrins, add in chopped onions, peppers, and minced garlic, then drain the grease off and add in a can of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, and throw in some oregano and parsley. Ah ... Oregano was the spice he wanted. After I explained all the above, he asked me ... "Is Prego OK?" Yes, Grasshopper. Yes. "But what about the bread, Mama? I want to cut it on the diagonal, then put olive oil over top, and then what do I do?" I told him to melt in some butter with the olive oil, and sop up the oils with the bread, sprinkle some more oregano over top, and buy live parsley and basil plants at the produce section and cut and snip the leaves and add to the bread. Use some fresh garlic smeared across. And ... Parmesan. And bake until nicely browned and crisp. Wonderful bread. This particular Hawthorne has a profound distaste for Parmesan cheese. And good Parmesan at that. You won't believe what I told him to do. I told him to go to the dairy section and pick out the green canister of Kraft's Parmesan. Here, Baby Hawthorne. This is what it looks like. Oh, crap! NONONONONO!!!!! That's not it. This is: I grew up with that can of cheese. Making a pizza out of a box on Friday nights. Was it Chef-Boyardee? My first ventures into the culinary arts. I was in high school and I was already hooked. Dough. Sauce. Pepperoni. Parmesan. All in a box. Ahhh. The good life. I told him he'd be able to tolerate Kraft's Parmesan. Small steps. Baby steps. All I can do is open doors and invite one in. The rest is up to you.

Junior And Dixie.

Since Rosie isn't up and running yet, she's going back into her drafts to find something to post about. Here's one from August 25, 2010.
Junior loves this pink thing.
I forget what it used to be ...
... but its tail is on the path behind the pool and the junipers.
Junior is such a sweet puppy. He has fun. All day long.
Dixie is enjoying her golden years. She looks forward each morning to our run/walks with Junior (and with Giada when she's home from school) and she spends every afternoon jumping and swimming in the pool. She has a very good life.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not Ready For Prime Time Yet.

Although Rosie isn't kicking and cooking yet, she's still on the lookout for blodder (blog fodder). As I lie on the sofa, ice-packed foot elevated, remote control in hand, I feel a profound sense of power. I feel like a man. I alone am wielding the remote control and I alone occupy the entire sofa. I am in control. And then I wonder, how do men do this I want to get up and vacuum up that dust rhino hiding in the corner. I want to steam clean my hardwood floors and polish them. But I can't. So I lie here and watch TV. And every now and then it pays off. You gotta love local news channels.
Poor guy. Probably not one of his finer moments in television reporting.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rosie Makes Shrimp, Corn, And Broccoli Quesdillas.

Rosie had surgery on her foot this past Tuesday and she's languishing on the couch, remote control in hand, recuperating. She did have the forethought to prepare a few meals ahead of time to blog about. I made this quesadilla for lunch last week. Please enjoy. It's 28 degrees. It's a dull gray outside. Mr. Hawthorne's at work. And Dixie has been going to the sliding glass door every 30 minutes for the past week to be let out. This is unusual behavior for her. I'm pretty sure she's looking for Junior. Poor baby. I knew she'd miss him.
Since it's just the "girls" home alone today, I decided to treat myself to lunch. After checking out my fridge and larder, I'm making a fresh salsa for a shrimp quesadilla with caramelized corn and broccoli and cheeses.
Oh my. This is quite palatable. Let's make a quick salsa first.
I had 2 Roma tomatoes, which I peeled and chopped. I chopped up a couple tablespoons of the red onion and I minced half of the jalapeno.
Mix together.
Add about a teaspoon or two of sugar and cider vinegar.
Add in some chopped cilantro, or chopped parsley if you're of the I-Hate-Cilantro Camp. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate.
Next, I melted butter in my skillet
then added some corn (which had been waiting in the fridge to be used). Add about 2 teaspoons of sugar and toss corn over medium high heat until caramelized.
Add in a few poufs of cumin. Set aside. On to broccoli prep:
I peeled and chopped my broccoli, then dropped it into boiling water for about 30 seconds just to blanch.

Refresh blanched broccoli with cold water to stop the cooking and set the lovely green color. Drain broccoli. Now I'm ready to assemble:
I put a little bed of shredded cheeses on the bottom and placed 4 large cooked shrimp on top (Yes, there are 4.), and stuffed some broccoli florets in there.
Corn with cumin went on top of that.
And I grated lime zest over the whole.
I topped it with shredded Mozzarella.
I heated a thin layer of oil in my skillet and placed the quesadilla in. Medium heat - about 2 minutes each side, or until nicely browned.
Be careful when turning the quesadilla over. That oil likes to pop and spit. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with salsa and crumbled Queso Fresco.
Oh yes. The shrimp were jumbo, so all that wonderful shrimp flavor was in the forefront, not masked by the other ingredients as so often happens when I get shrimp quesadillas in restaurants. The corn was sweet with a nice cuminey undertone. Broccoli was crisp and green. Minimal cheese held it all together. The salsa was a lovely fresh accompaniment.
Bon appetit!