Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Upcoming meals

It is going to be a busy week here at the Cafe. I took tonight off from cooking and I treated the Maven to dinner at Arnie's, a Grand Rapids tradition for over 100 years. Simple and wholesome is the best way I can describe the food served there. Tomorrow night we will consume the leftovers from the a couple of previous meals, but on Friday and Saturday night I will be cooking for friends. The side dishes are still TBD, but the plan is to make the following main courses:

Friday Night: Balsamic Pork Chops
Saturday Night: Beef Tenderloin with Mustard and Herbs

I have cooked for only one of the four people who are coming for dinner. I am optimistic that these three new guests will enjoy what I prepare for them as much as I am going to enjoy making them dinner!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Prime Rib update

I am happy to report that the prime rib meal I made last night in support of the first night of the week long celebration of Deirdre's 35th birthday was nothing sort of fantastic. The menu was pretty stright forward:

Prime Rib au Jus
Parmesan Potatoes
French cut green beans

Thanks to the new stove, I was able to make the au jus in the roasting pan. With our old stove, I was unable to do that because of the small burner sizes. The Syrah we picked up at Art of the Table was a perfect match for the roast.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Deirdre's First of Three Birthday Dinners

Deirdre will soon celebrate her 35th birthday this week, so she is having "Birthday Reign" this weekend and next. See asked me on Wednesday to make her a Prime Rib roast for dinner on Saturday night for the first meal of her birthday festivities. I will cook the roast tonight, and serveit with baked potatoes and French cut green beans. I was thinking about a salad, but this meal is for Deirdre so green beans it is! We visited our friends at Art of the Table to pick out an appropriate wine for this meal. Ryan and Amy felt that a bottle of 2003 Bonaccorsi Santa Ynez Syrah will do the trick. Thw jury is still out as to whether we will have some Hudsonville Ice Cream or Irish Coffee for dessert. Updates to follow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken

I made this recipe for dinner tonight. If you like chicken, you need to make this recipe. I served it with cous cous and some French cut green beans. It was nothing short of amazing.

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Using a rolling pin, pound the chicken between 2 sheets of wax paper
until they are of uniform thickness. Heat the oil and garlic in a
large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers and the
garlic browns. (Don't burn the garlic.) Add the chicken breasts
and cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Add the salt,
pepper, vinegar, chicken broth, and rosemary. Cover, reduce heat
to medium-low, and cook 3 minutes longer or until the chicken is
fork-tender. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Increase
heat to high and boil the sauce until thickened or syrupy,
3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and pour the sauce over the chicken.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, January 19, 2009


I used a crockpot to make dinner tonight and the results were an unqualified success. I will be making more crockpot centered recipes in the future. However, for tonight, below is the recipe that was served at the Cafe tonight:


This pot roast is slow cooked with herbs, onions, red wine, tomato sauce, and herbs.

• 1 pot roast, about 3 pounds, chuck arm or shoulder, bottom round, or similar cut
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1/2 cup apple cider or red wine
• 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
• 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, optional
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon dried crumbled leaf thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
• 1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
• 3 medium cloves garlic, minced

Trim beef roast of excess fat and cut to fit crockpot, if necessary; place in the slow cooker
(may use a cooking bag for this). Combine all remaining ingredients; pour over the roast.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Skim excess fat from gravy. Serve roast sliced
with gravy, with potatoes or hot cooked rice or pasta.
Serves 8.

Note: If you don't use the tapioca and want to thicken the juices, pour the broth into
a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce by about 1/4 then gradually add a smooth mixture
of 2 tablespoons of flour and about the same amount of cold water. I stir the flour and
water mixture in slowly until the mixture is thickened to my liking.

Cook’s Notes: This was an incredibly easy recipe to make and it turned out great. The
next time I make it, I will use red wine instead of cider vinegar, and add a few more
spices. The roast was literally falling apart as I cut into it.

Wash it down with a Cabernet or merlot!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hungarian Pork Chops

I have been experimenting with pork chops recently. Pork today is lean and inexpensive. Below is a recipe I made last night:


4 pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf

1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper to taste.
Dredge seasoned chops in flour. Heat oil in a large skillet
and brown seasoned chops in oil (covering skillet with
lid if desired). Pour off fat.

2. In a medium bowl combine the sour cream, sherry,
ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and bay leaf. Mix
together and pour mixture over chops in skillet. Cover and
let simmer gently over low heat for about 1 hour, or until
chops are tender and cooked through (internal temperature
has reached 160 degrees F/70 degrees C).

This dish was easy to make and simply delicious!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Yummy Pork Chops

¼ cup soy sauce
2 cups Italian salad dressing
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless pork chops

1. In a bowl, mix the salad dressing, soy sauce and pepper. Place the chops
into the bowl and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes. Reserve the marinade.

2. After marinating, place the pork chops in a skillet over medium heat
and cover with the reserved marinade. Cover the skillet and cook the pork
chops 25 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove cover, reduce heat to low
and simmer the chops until cooked to desired doneness.

Cook’s Notes: I used Newman’s Own Italian Salad Dressing, but I think
that any Italian dressing will do. The pork chops I had were about
¾ inches thick and I cooked them for 25 minutes, turning them every
5 minutes or so. After the chops had cooked for 25 minutes, I checked
for doneness and they were, well, done! We served this dish with some
basmati rice and a tossed salad. This recipe was incredibly easy to
make and was nothing short of delicious. Next time I make this,
I will marinate the chops all day in a zip-lok bag.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pan Roasted Rack of Lamb with Rosemary and Honey

In celebration of our 22nd wedding anniversary, Deirdre asked that I make her rack of lamb for dinner. Who was I to say no? I have a couple of lamb recipes I had used in the past, but I wanted to try a new recipe I found while looking up something else. I needed to find a wine that would complement this dish, so I consulted with Amy at Art of the Table and she recommended a bottle of 2003 Marsannay Cuvee Marie Ragonneau. It is a French Burgundy, and I am happy to report that it was a perfect compliment to the lamb. Below is the recipe:

Pan Roasted Rack of Lamb with Rosemary and Honey

1T olive oil
1T chopped fresh rosemary
1T red wine vinegar
1T honey
1 clove garlic, minced
2 rack of lamb
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine the olive oil, rosemary, vinegar, honey and garlic in a small
bowl and mix well. Place the lamb racks, bone side up, in a shallow
dish and rub them with the marinade. Cover the racks and let sit at
room temperature for an hour.

Preheat an oven to 400F. Remove the lamb from the marinade and season
with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat on
the stove. Place the racks in the skillet and brown both sides for
about 2 minutes per side. After the racks are browned, remove them
from the skillet and place on a broiling rack or cast iron skillet.
Place the lamb in the oven and cook until the center of the meat
registers 135F.

When the racks reach 135F, remove them from the oven. Place the racks
on a cutting board and loosely cover in foil and allow them to rest
for 10 minutes. After resting, cut the racks into individual chops and serve.

Cook’s Notes: This is hands down the easiest rack of lamb recipe I
have ever made. The honey really complimented the red wine vinegar
and the rosemary.