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"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner - Fennel With Béchamel Side Dish

Finocchi e Funghi Gratinati Con Salsa Besciamella

This recipe appeared in a now defunct magazine called "Attenzione" back in the early 1980's. We have been having this for Thanksgiving for many years now - at least in those years when I do the meal. It is good any time and Leon likes it a lot. The original recipe does not have mushrooms, that is my addition - makes the dish "stretch" a bit.

These Are The Tops of The Fennel
Sorry, I Forgot to Get A Picture of the "Bulbs"
Before Slicing Them Up
Fennel or Anise is a celery-like vegetable with a mild licorice taste.  The large bulbous bottom is the part we eat; the celery like stalks can be used to flavor a pork roast.  It is great in green salads, tuna fish salad, or braised like in this recipe.

Cut the tops and bottoms off three large fennel "bulbs" and cut the bulbs into quarters or, if very large, smaller.
Braise The Fennel
Heat a little olive oil in a skillet with 2 garlic cloves, add the fennel, 1/2 cup of dry vermouth and a little water. Allow to braise for about 10 minutes or a little longer, until the fennel is just this side of tender.  Remove to a casserole without the juices.  Braise some sliced white mushrooms in the juices until just cooked.  Transfer the mushrooms to the casserole with fennel. Leave out the juices or the dish will be too watery.
Salsa Besciamella:  Melt 3 tbs. butter in a saucepan.  Add 3 tbs. of flour and whisk until blended and just cooked, not browned.  Add 2 1/2 cups of warm milk, 1/2 tsp salt.  Whisk over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Add some ground (white) pepper (I only have black) and ground nutmeg, about 1/4 tsp. or so, and a good 4 tbs. of grated parmesan cheese.
Besciamella - Béchamel
Pour the sauce over the vegetables and top with more parmesan and bread crumbs.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so, until golden brown and bubbly.  If you prepare it ahead and have it refrigerated, adjust the time in the oven.
Before Baking
Out Of The Oven
We kept it simple: Turkey, Stuffing, Fennel, Sweet Potato, White Potato and of course Pies.  See stuffing on last post.
Stuffed Bird
Re-stuffed Sweet Potato
All American Mashed Potato
Home Made Rolls
Note: Finocchio (Fennel or Anise) is the Italian, rather derogatory, slang term for gay.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Stuffing and Dinner Rolls

Spent the afternoon making rolls and stuffing.

The stuffing is a bread (whatever kind I have, air or oven dried and cubed), ground beef, pork sausage (breakfast sausage) mixture that is a tradition in our family. Sorry no chestnuts here.

I am making extra stuffing, because you can never have enough of a good thing. The problem with stuffing cooked outside the bird is that it does not get the flavor from the turkey. So tomorrow, after stuffing the turkey, I will see how I'm going to handle the extra. Maybe pour some turkey drippings over it while cooking.

I used butter, oil, 1 large onion, 2.5 lb. ground beef, 1 lb. sausage, about 8-10 cups of bread cubes, 4 eggs, salt, pepper, Scarborough Fair (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) and, this year a little Bells Seasoning.
Oil and Butter
I start with a little oil and butter in the skillet and add the chopped onion. Let it cook until translucent - don't brown the onion. Add the ground beef and saute until the pink is gone. Don't over cook. Remove the meat and saute the sausage. Set aside the meats with pan drippings.
Saute Onion
Sausage and Ground Beef
Saute the Beef
And the Sausage
Cube up dried sliced bread or rolls or breads that have been dried in the oven. Add the meats with pan drippings, eggs, salt, pepper, herbs and spices and mix together.
Bread Chunks
New This Year - An Old Fashioned Spice Mix
Toss the Meats and Bread With the Egg and Herbs
And on to the rolls.  I've done bread dough before, so won't go into it. (see side bar for links to bread posts)
It Makes Me Happy When the Dough Rises Nicely
Forming Bread Knots
A Little Egg Wash to Make the Sesame Seeds Stick
Sage Is Nice With Turkey Too
Two Rolls Are Already Missing
(Me and My Sis Couldn't Resist)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Re-run: Unstuffed Cabbage

I have posted unstuffed cabbage or lazy stuffed cabbage before, but without photos. Here are some pics.

Green Cabbage, Onion
Saute The Beef With Onion, Garlic, Salt, Pepper,
Set Aside

Shred And Saute The Cabbage in Butter And Oil,
a Bit Of Salt
Use Some Kind Of Tomato 
I Prefer Unadulterated

I Put Uncooked Rice In The Pot With Oil and/or Butter,
Toss It Around, Then Add Water or Stock, Salt and Simmer
Mix Together The Cooked Rice, Beef and Cabbage
Eat It As Is OR
Put In A Casserole and Warm In the Oven
(Helps the Tomato and Flavors Absorb In The Rice)
This dish is great for a cold winter night, for a pot-luck (double the recipe) or, if you're frugal, to stretch some ground beef.  It's a healthy "hamburger helper" without the box and chemicals (really - you can google that yourself).

Gotta go, Dinner's Ready!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stir Fry Veggies

I had some leftover pork roast in the fridge and one of the best things to do with left over pork other than making tomato sauce is serving it up with stir fried veggies.

Get some white rice going on the stovetop - you know how to do that.

Heat up the left over pork in a skillet, maybe add a splash of soy sauce.

Here we have the cut up pork, onion, mushroom, green pepper, broccoli, celery, snow peas and bean sprouts.  Heat up a wok, throw in some some oil and garlic, toss in the veggies and stir it up.  A few dashes of soy sauce to season it up.  Heat through, but don't over cook - the veggies should be hot but crisp.

Serve it all together - pork, rice and veggies.  Nice.