Pizza Night

My husband and I started making pizzas in business school (1000 years ago). Over time, my husband has taken over the pizza making in our family. He has experimented with many dough recipes. He has perfected the cooking process by using a 1/2 inch thick slab of steel in a 550 Fahrenheit degree  oven. He switches oven setting continually between broiling and baking.  I help buy the ingredients and sometimes help with the preparation but today I was busy fighting with bad Christmas light extensions. Not my favorite part of the process.

  • pepperoni
  • red pepper, black olive & bacon
  • shiitake mushroom, bechamel sauce, caramelized onion, & bacon
  • flank steak, bechamel, & bacon
  • Italian sausage & caramelized onion
  • prosciutto, fig jam, & arugula

 

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Let the games begin…

After a delicious breakfast of maple walnut scones we started preparations for Thanksgiving 2017. I share with you today’s Kitchen Blackboard with our Thanksgiving menu. We like to change our menu slightly every year. My husband continues to use a dry brine on the turkey which we decided was more flavorful. This year he is making the turkey in a spatchcocked way, which is in essence removing the backbone and butterflying it allowing for more even cooking throughout. The side dishes include some of our annual staples: mashed sweet potatoes with a topping of brown sugar and pecans and roasted parmesan carrots. We are experimenting with a new cheesy stuffing with wild mushrooms. Also new on the menu this year is a mix of roasted vegetables that include cauliflower, green beans, and mushrooms. My husband has rolled out home-made pasta to make his mother’s traditional German buttered noodles. He is also making home-made croissants which he started preparing yesterday. This year we are breaking with all tradition when it comes to dessert. No pies on our menu. We are having a pumpkin cheesecake with pecan praline sauce. In addition we will enjoy the Petrucelli Family chocolate dip cookies.

We just took a break to enjoy a light lunch of Chinese chicken dumplings, shu mai, and roast beef canapés. And now it’s time to get back to work.

We wish and you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Bon Appetit!

The Weekend Before Thanksgiving

It was a very busy weekend getting ready for the Thanksgiving break ahead. We spent a lot of time menu planning not just for the holiday but for the weekday meals leading up to it, and for meals afterwards. But most importantly we had to think about this weekend’s meals first. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful pork tenderloin stuffed with mushroom duxelles, bacon, and parsley. We accompanied the pork with roasted asparagus and spiralized sweet potato frites.

We use the app Evernote to create the menu and grocery list. We also use Evernote to lay out our schedule beginning on Monday detailing preparation and cooking leading up to Thanksgiving day. For us the planning and preparation is as much fun as the eating. With the menu laid out for the week I started my “hunting and gathering”, a.k.a. grocery shopping.

We thought we would keep things simple tonight and decided to make home-made Sloppy Joes that we will serve on brioche rolls.

 

My parents arrive on Monday. For Monday night’s dinner we will revisit the Saturday night stuffed pork tenderloin. We will accompany it with roasted butternut squash with spinach and cranberries. My daughter arrives from college on Tuesday. She put in a request for Mexican Tortilla soup. For the soup I will use a previously made duck broth, mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot), garlic, cumin, oregano, chopped tomatoes, chick peas, shredded chicken, rice, lemon juice, and lime juice. The piece-de-resistance is the addition on top of cubed avocado, cheddar cheese, and fried tortilla shell strips. My son arrives from college on Wednesday. Since we start with Thanksgiving preparations on Wednesday I wanted to make a simple recipe for dinner that night. I am making a delicious slow-cooker Bolognese sauce that we will serve with Rigatoni pasta. This weekend’s quote is by American hurdler Joel Brown.

I was also very busy this weekend assembling my Winter Village. Yes my friends, I start decorating for Christmas and listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Tis the Season!!  See my village here. https://thelabyrinthguide.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/what-the-dr-prescribed/

 

Happy November

Happy November my friends. It has been a very busy autumn. I never thought being an empty nester would keep me so active.  I have done a lot of traveling by myself and with my husband. Today, I finally updated The Kitchen Blackboard to welcome the month of November. Yesterday we enjoyed a delicious flank steak that was marinaded in cilantro, jalapeño, and lime juice. We accompanied the steak with amazing potatoes that were roasted in duck fat. I don’t think we will ever want potatoes roasted any other way. We also enjoyed roasted acorn squash. Tonight, we are enjoying a Korean-style chicken made with Korean fermented chili paste, sesame seed oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sugar. We will accompany the chicken with rice and roasted cauliflower.

We are finalizing the Thanksgiving menu as well as other meals for the holiday weekend. I am also gearing up to assemble my winter village. You can see my village here: https://thelabyrinthguide.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/a-winter-village/

Today I share a quote by Buddha that reminds us to live in the present moment.

The Continued Birthday Celebration

My official birthday was last Saturday, September 30th. I happened to be away last weekend in San Diego and Del Mar, California on numerous reunions. I had the chance to reconnect with my lovely childhood friend that I have known for close to a half of a century. Pretty amazing. I also spent time with four wonderful women from my business school class. They started my weeklong birthday celebration which continued until yesterday with the family celebration. My son and his girlfriend were home from college and also joined us. My husband made duck for the first time ever and it was outstanding. In the morning he had a bit of a challenge finding duck in our local stores but thankfully was able to get his hands on one. He later did research and we agreed that the next time we will order the duck/duck breasts from the D’Artagnan website. He made duck two ways, sous-vide/pan-fried and confit. He seasoned the two breasts and then vacuum-sealed them. The duck breasts were then placed in a sous-vide bath and cooked to 125 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve medium rare meat. Normally they recommend cooking duck breasts to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, however our duck breasts were thin and we did not want to overcook them. After the sous-vide bath, my husband pan-fried the breasts, skin face down to achieve crispness. He generously salted the legs and thighs and set them aside. In the meantime he rendered duck fat from remaining pieces. It was this duck fat that he then used to cook the legs and thighs in a low oven temperature for about 3 hours to achieve the confit style. My husband also made a delicious cherry sauce for the duck. The duck was mouth-watering. We accompanied the duck with parmesan mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. And the pièce de résistance was my favorite birthday cake in the world, a double layer chocolate cake with a dark chocolate fudge frosting. 

Today is my turn to experiment with a new recipe. A couple of months ago we bought Korean fermented chili paste, Gochujang. I was finally able to use it in a marinade for Korean Bulgogi-style skirt steaks. Bulgogi translates to “fire meat”. The marinade I prepared has Gochujang, garlic, ginger, onion, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, sugar, black pepper, and vegetable oil. I marinaded the skirt steaks overnight. The meat will be grilled. We will accompany the steaks with stir-fried snow peas, white rice, and cucumber slices. We will also serve some of the marinade which I set aside for a sauce.

It was my husband who updated The Kitchen Blackboard yesterday. I thought that was very special. Today I share a quote by Adlai E. Stevenson. It reminds me to not focus so much on the age I am turning, but on how I am living this life and making the most of it.

Birthdays are for celebrating!

 

To learn more about confit: http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/01/ask-the-food-lab-what-the-heck-is-confit.html

D’Artagnan: http://www.dartagnan.com/home?gclid=CjwKCAjwmefOBRBJEiwAf7DstOvEvLKWlXIVUW2zom3Y2lSI3FWT1ybjyZONk9jsQrYMDTU2_YKuRxoCI18QAvD_BwE

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Happy Labor Day!

I cannot believe it is Labor Day. I am convinced there is a time warp acceleration between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I’m sitting here in disbelief and reluctant to accept that autumn is near. We had a fun surprise last night. My son came home  with two of his college roommates for dinner. We enjoyed delicious grilled burgers, homemade cole slaw, and fries. My husband is the master griller so all the credit goes to him for grilling-to-perfection our medium rare burgers. We served the burgers on Brioche buns. I prepared the toppings that included: caramelized onions, bacon, and guacamole. We made chocolate chip cookies for dessert and to send home with the boys.

Today we are back on the Empty Nester Food Project. It was my turn to pick a recipe. We are enjoying a delicious vegetable lasagna that includes: zucchini, eggplant, spinach, and Kalamata olives. The lasagna has both a red sauce and a cream sauce.  The red sauce was made with crushed tomatoes, garlic, and basil. The cream sauce was made with cottage cheese, heavy cream, garlic, and parmesan cheese. We are looking forward to this new recipe.

Happy September!

Happy September to all. For our family September brings many new adventures and emotions. With both children gone to university, we are now officially “empty nesters”.  My husband and I decided that rather than wallow in sadness over the absence of our children, that we needed to distract ourselves with something positive. Since we both love to cook we decided to pick 2 cookbooks and cook our way through them.

Today we are enjoying a Chile-rubbed spatchcocked chicken. A spatchcocked chicken is when you take a whole chicken and flatten it out by cutting its backbone and sometimes it’s sternum. It makes the roasting time a lot shorter. The chicken will be served with an avocado buttermilk sauce. We will accompany the chicken with roasted Brussel sprouts & carrots and rice.

Today I share a quote by Confucius.