Well, I probably shouldn't do this, but I've started another Blog. Like I don't already spend too much time at the MacBook. As some of you might have guessed, I like to cook and I love to eat. So I thought I'd share my recipes, humble as they may be and an occasional dinner menu at our house. I am somewhat "reluctant" to share this project right now, but caution to the wind. The plan is to be discovered by the Food Network for my cooking show Cranky Franky's in the Kitchen.
Am I ready for critics? Probably not. I know my instructions are not always clear or precise. Let me know if something doesn't make sense. Anyhow, if you're interested, check out "Dinner's Ready"
COMMENTS APPRECIATED

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer Salad "alla Carbonara"

Here's a quickie:

Decided to make a salad for a picnic. A pasta salad sounded good, but I hate making the traditional old elbows with a ton of mayonnaise.

Some of the items I had on hand were bow tie pasta (farfalle), boiled eggs, asparagus, pancetta, red onion, green olives, parsley, black pepper.

To the cooked pasta I added chopped red onion and cut up lightly sautéed/steamed asparagus, 4 cut up boiled eggs, black pepper and olive oil and tossed the whole thing together. Then I cut up some pancetta into square chunks and fried the pancetta in a little olive oil and garlic and fresh ground black pepper till it was chewy/crispy.

Add the pancetta to the salad along with some halved green olives and some fresh parsley. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top and toss.

Pasta Salad alla Carbonara



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Another Variation On The Classic Carbonara (With Asparagus, Eggs and Pancetta)



I've done Carbonara before with step-by-step photos.  (Click on the Link)

Here is another variation - this time, instead of adding mushrooms (which is not the Classic Recipe either - the classic is just olive oil, pancetta and eggs and black pepper) I've added asparagus which is in the markets now, thanks to springtime in South America, I presume.

Asparagus is a perfect companion to eggs and "bacon" - in this case, pancetta.

I sautéed the garlic and the diced pancetta.

(DO NOT USE BACON!!!! Nothing imparts the saltiness and taste of real pancetta and smoked bacon is just nasty in this dish)

Then I added the asparagus which I had cut into about one-inch pieces and let them cook "al dente" - no mushy asparagus here.

I had prepped the eggs, beaten them well with black pepper and had the pot of water boiling with the pasta. Use spaghetti, linguini, white or whole wheat, even fettuccine. Work quickly to get all the ingredients ready at the same time. Drain the pasta and toss immediately into the beaten eggs. Add in the asparagus and pancetta garlic sauce.

Sprinkle on grated Romano or Parmigiano cheese.

Dinner was ready! And so were we!



I cooked almost a pound of linguini and Leon and I ate ALMOST the whole bowl. Benni had the rest.

Carbonara is perhaps my favorite pasta dish next to traditional tomato sauce with meatballs, sausage and pork.

YUM!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Shrimp & Orzo; Zucchini & Fresh Tomato Salsa - Party Leftovers Into A Meal

Sorry, we ate the whole thing before I even thought about posting this, so there are no photos. 

On Labor Day we had a a houseful of folks over for cookout and a kind of pot-luck.  People brought salads, desserts, appetizers and there was a lot of stuff left.

I had made "Italian Salsa" to go with the corn chips: diced fresh garden tomatoes, garlic, finely diced jalapeños, parsley, basil (NO CILANTRO) and a little sugar.

My cousin Rose had made a nice casserole of orzo and there was a good portion left.

Another guest brought cooked shrimp and there were 12 - 18 shrimp left.

There was a plastic container with lots of sliced onions untouched by the burger lovers.

I'll make it brief. This is just an example of how you might create something wonderful from what's in the fridge. And it was done in less than thirty minutes - probably closer to twenty.

My cooking mind went to work, thinking basically "shrimp" "garlic" "orzo" but I needed a vegetable:

I put a handful of sliced onion into a skillet with a little olive oil to sauté.

[I'm not sure anything I cook is sautéed as the flame is always on "high" - as the song goes: I never do anything "Nice" and "Easy" just "Nice" and "Rough"]

I went out to the garden to get swiss chard but instead decided on two medium size zucchinis. I cut them up and tossed them in with the onion. Let them cook a bit, even get just a little golden color on some of the zucchini slices.

Ah! I remembered the Italian Salsa, so I put two or three ladles of that juicy tomato and jalapeño and basil mixture in to cook with zucchini.

While that simmered, I peeled and chopped some garlic, sautéed that in olive oil and tossed in the left over cooked shrimp and let them get good and garlicky.

Then I added a couple of ladles of orzo with a little water so it would steam-heat. I kept stirring it all so it wouldn't burn.

When it was heated through we had delicious zucchini with tomato-jalapeño and garlic shrimp with orzo.

Didn't matter if the zucchini mixed in with the shrimp and orzo because it was even better that way than keeping each separately! A little parmesan cheese on top. Yum.

Oh, was that good!

So, have a party! Use up those left-overs! Be creative! Dinner's ready!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cole Slaw Plain and Simple

For this summer cookout salad you will need 1 head of cabbage or 1/2 head each of a green cabbage and a red cabbage, cider vinegar, salt, sugar, mayonnaise, prepared horseradish, baby carrots, raisins and or dried cranberries.

I start by hand shredding some cabbage. I like to mix green and red cabbage, about half a head each. Here is just a small head of green cabbage because I didn't have any red on hand.

It shreds to about 8 cups. Then add 1/4 cup of cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and enough water to cover the cabbage. Allow to soak in the vinegar water for at least 30 minutes to an hour while you prepare the rest of the ingredients and go read a chapter of my memoir.



I like the baby carrots because I am too lazy to peel carrots; besides we always have some in the fridge because our dog, Benni, likes them as a bedtime snack. 

 Grate up about a cup of carrots.

Drain the cabbage, but do not rinse it.
Add about 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, 2 heaping tablespoons of prepared horseradish and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Mix well. Then add the shredded carrots, 1/2 to 2/3 cup of raisins and/or dried cranberries.


NOTE: This is not my preferred brand of horseradish - there is a local brand - Martin Rosol's White Horseradish - that is much better and I think it makes all the difference in the flavor. It is coarse ground white horseradish.

Add those ingredients and mix well to coat all the cabbage with the mayo and horseradish. Let the coleslaw sit in the refrigerator for several hours. (read a couple of chapters of my memoir).

Serve with your barbecued chicken, grilled hot dogs, bratwurst, or kielbasa.

Happy summer! Dinner's (almost) Ready!

Friday, March 6, 2015

(Almost) Instant Mac and Cheese (and Healthier Too)

Baked cod, roasted tomatoes, asparagus and quick mac and cheese with cauliflower.

I came up with this side dish tonight to go with some baked cod (frozen cod from Costco) with roasted tomatoes, and asparagus.

I put the cod and the halved tomatoes in a casserole and drizzled all with olive oil, sprinkled the tomatoes with salt, pepper and oregano and the cod with black pepper and Italian style bread crumbs.

That all went into the oven at 375, for about 20-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish) and I got a pot of water boiling and put the asparagus in a skillet with a little butter and white wine, ready to go on the fire.

I had about 1/3 box of quick-cook Ronzoni penne pasta (which cooks in 3 minutes) and when the cod was close to being done, I got the pasta into the pot to boil while the cauliflower (which was last night's leftover - roasted in the oven with olive oil and garlic, so I knew it would go good with pasta) was in the microwave to reheat - also 3 minutes.


When the pasta was done, I put the asparagus on to cook in the skillet on high heat for just a few minutes.

I drained the pasta, put in two heaping tablespoons (+/-) of plain non-fat yogurt and approximately 3 heaping tablespoons (+/-) of grated Romano cheese, added in the cauliflower with its garlicky sauce and tossed the whole thing together.


Easy and healthier mac and cheese
The fish was done and so was the asparagus. All in less than 30 minutes. Rachael Ray, eat your heart out.









Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Walnut Yeast Bread

Decided to do something different for Thanksgiving bread - I usually do a sage bread - and thought Cranberry Walnut would be nice. After completing this direct method bread (mix, rise and bake without a long ferment) I found what looks like a great (even better) recipe with a longer ferment time - here. Looking forward to when I have the leisure to try it.
I took out the cinnamon, but decided against it
Halve and sweeten 2 cups of cranberries (I used 2 tbs each of white sugar, light brown sugar and honey with 1/4 cup warm water)
Add the zest of one orange, and let the mix sit while you make your dough.

Proof 3 tsp of active dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tsp sugar

Once the yeast starts to ferment, add 1+ 1/2 cups warm water, 1 tsp salt, 4 tbs butter

Add a bit at a time: 2+1/2 cups flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 4 tbs ground flax seed (flax meal)(optional)

Add the cranberries and 1 cup chopped walnuts. Knead the dough lightly for one or two minutes, adding a dusting of flour as needed.

Oil the top of the dough ball and set the dough aside to rise for an hour or more.

Divide dough into two rounds and place on a parchment covered baking sheet to rise again for an hour or so.

Slit the dough to form a square, brush with an egg wash and place in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, check for doneness; return to oven for up to 10 minutes if needed but lower oven temp to 350.

Dinner's not quite ready - still have to cook that turkey!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Not Your Grandma's Moussaka

Not my grandma's moussaka - mine only made parmigiana.

This is a variation on a theme: Given that the garden has offered up a small bounty of eggplant and the given the fact that I am no Greek, I am still going to call tonight's dinner "moussaka".

I am a bit lazy, and always trying to find shortcuts. So here goes:

Take a couple of Italian eggplants and a few Japanese eggplants, peel them leaving just a little of the skin. I halve the Italians lengthwise, slice them all in about quarter inch slices, toss them with some olive oil in a roasting pan with salt, pepper, chopped garlic. Put them in the oven at 400 for about 30-35 minutes, tossing once during the cooking. (Most recipes call for frying the slices - which would take time - this way you can get the other ingredients ready while the eggplant is in the oven.)
2 Italians and 3 Japanese

Sautee a diced onion, a couple of small chopped cubanelle peppers and a diced hot pepper in a little olive oil.

Remove the mixture and into the fry pan put a pound of ground beef and a pound of Italian sausage meat.




After the meat is cooked through, drain off the grease, return the onion mixture to the pan, add a can of tomato puree, a little water, chopped fresh basil, fresh parsley, and fresh oregano. A little salt and pepper. Let the meat cook in the sauce for thirty minutes or so.



Roasted Eggplant
Meanwhile make the béchamel sauce.

My philosophy used to be "more is better" and I and Leon would certainly eat more. We are watching things now since Leon has lost over fifty pounds and I was down thirty. So my new philosophy is "less is almost as good." So I went a little easy on the béchamel which in some moussaka recipes is a layer of  up to a half inch. Compared to that, mine is a drizzle.

2 tablespoons of butter, melted and hot in the saucepan, whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour until the flour forms a paste. 


Slowly add 1and 1/2 cups of 1% milk (I don't bother warming the milk - I'm lazy). Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens.

Add a dash of nutmeg. Remove from heat. Add about 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese. (Don't add the parmesan while the sauce is over the heat or you will produce a congealed mess.)

(Of course I didn't get a photo of the finished béchamel)

Distribute the tomato meat sauce over the roasted eggplant. Top with the béchamel, a little crumbled low fat feta and some Italian flavored breadcrumbs. 

Moussaka usually has a thick layer of Béchamel (calories)

Bake in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbling hot.

Serve with a salad - tonight is green bean salad.

Steam the fresh green beans just until barely cooked. Rinse in ice cold water. In a bowl mix a little olive oil, a dash of balsamic vinegar, some chopped garlic and toss in the cooked green beans. You can add some fresh tomatoes if you like. Chill in the fridge or serve at room temperature.


We are foregoing the crusty Italian bread tonight - (carbs and calories), but it would definitely be my choice.