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"

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.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pollo alla Giardiniere - Gardener's Chicken

While Chicken alla cacciatore may be hunter's style, as a gardener, I've adopted the basic recipe to reflect what's currently abundant in my garden - green beans, yellow squash, peppers, basil, parsley, tomatoes. This gardener's chicken recipe stretches a few chicken parts into a big pot of stew.

The recipe is consistent with our style of eating (or the style which we try to adhere to) which stresses an abundance of fresh vegetables over meat and starches. Perhaps you would use more chicken or fewer vegetables. Which is perfectly OK as proportions are optional.

I started by frying/cooking four chicken legs and thighs in a large skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder. Saute the chicken and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through and can be removed from the bone.

Remove the chicken parts from the pan, and bone the chicken if you like (just makes it easier to eat).

Drain the grease from the pan and add a little olive oil, a large sliced onion, then add 4-6 Cubanelle or Bell green peppers, cut up. Cook a bit, ten minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Wash and clean some green beans - here's a mixture that I picked today including flat Roma, stringless green beans, slender Italians. Add to the pan.

 Add some fresh basil

And some fresh parsley.

Add some chopped celery, some carrots, chopped fresh garden tomatoes to the beans and onions and peppers. Cook covered on low heat for a bit - maybe five to ten minutes, or till heated through - don't let the veggies over-cook. Add salt to taste - easy though - stay healthy.

 Dice up a couple of cloves of garlic and add to a different skillet with some olive oil.

Cut op and add a yellow squash or a green zucchini squash. Cook for  a few minutes, stirring frequently.

Combine everything into a big stew pot. Add some peeled plum tomatoes.

Let the stew simmer together for maybe thirty to forty-five minutes or so, so the tomatoes cook into a light sauce, but not so much as to turn the veggies into mush. It's nice to have a bit of crunch left in the beans and squash. Season with salt, pepper to taste while cooking. Easy on the salt.

Serve with a little crusty bread or rolls.

Dinner's ready!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Grilled Salmon, Green Bean Salad and Cabbage and Fennel Slaw

Summer is the time for grilling and salads. This simple meal is healthy and easy. Prepare the salads ahead of time.

The simple dressing for the beans consists of olive oil, sliced garlic, shredded fresh basil (traditionally made with mint, but Leon does not like mint), ground black pepper, a dash of salt and a splash of white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. (Actually the vinegar can be optional, if you like).

 Clean the green beans. Steam them briefly (al dente) and drain and run under cold water.

Cut the beans and toss in the dressing. Refrigerate.

Hand shred (slice thinly) a medium cabbage - I had green cabbage, but I think this would be great with red cabbage for contrasting colors. I soak the shredded cabbage in vinegar and water while preparing the other ingredients: shred a cup of baby carrots in a chopper or processor; clean a large bulb of fennel, cut and shred in a chopper or processor.

Drain the cabbage but do not rinse. add a pinch of salt, 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise, the shredded fennel and carrots and a small handful of raisins. (I usually add horseradish to my slaw but that would overpower the delicate flavor of the fennel, so I left it out). Refrigerate.

The market had salmon on sale (silverbrite, wild caught - not considered high quality salmon) for $5.99. I bought just over a pound for the two of us. A little black pepper and some blackened seasoning and onto the grill. I find this salmon affordable and tasty.

Let it sizzle with the grill cover closed. Do not turn over. It is done (slightly under-cooked, but not sushi) when the color turns a lighter shade of salmon. 

 A little white wine and dinner's ready!