Sunday, December 30, 2012

White Chicken Chili

We made this dish in the Cafe tonight:

White Chicken Chili

- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 48 ounces of Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed.
- 2 16 ounce jars of salsa (1 medium, 1 hot)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Place the chicken breasts in a crockpot and add cover with two cups of chicken broth.  Cook on low overnight.

In the morning, remove the chicken breasts from the crockpot and shred the chicken.  Place the shredded chicken back in the crockpot and add 1/2 cup of chicken broth.  Add the beans, salsa, diced onion and cumin.  Mix the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours.  Occasionally stir the chili while it is cooking.

Cook's Notes: One of my co-workers shared this recipe for me and we have not been disappointed.  It does take a little planning to prepare this recipe as the meal is made over the course of two days.

I used three 15 ounce cans of beans, and a single jar (38 ounces) of Pace salsa.  We topped the chili with sour cream and shredded Mexican blend cheese.  This is an incredibly easy meal to make and the results are out of this world good.

Prime Rib au Jus

This was our main course for dinner last night.  It is an amazingly simple meal to make but the flavors are incredible.

Prime Rib Roast au Jus
- One 8-9 pound rib roast 
- ½ cup kosher salt 
- ½ cup freshly cracked black pepper 
- 2 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced 
- 2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced 
- 3 stalks celery, diced large 
- 2 plum tomatoes, cored and diced large 
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled 

For the Au Jus Sauce 
- ½ cup dry red wine 
- 3 cups beef stock 
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 400F. 
2. Dry the meat with paper towels, then rub it all over with the salt and pepper. Pressing gently to be sure they adhere. Place the meat on a sturdy rack in a roasting pan and then arrange the onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and garlic around it. Place in the oven and cook until well browned, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F, stir the vegetables around and roast until the meat it done the way you like it. To check for doneness, insert a remote meat thermometer into the dead center of the roast monitor the temperature. 120F is rare, 126F is medium rare, 134F is medium, 150F is medium well and 160F is well-done; we like to pull it at 125F. 
3. When the roast is done to your liking, place the roast on a cutting board and cover it loosely with foil. Set it aside for 15-20 minutes or so and allow the roast to rest. 
4. Place the roasting pan, with all the drippings and cooked vegetables, on the stove over high heat. Add the wine and bring to a simmer to deglaze, stirring to dissolve the brown crusty stuff on the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, bring back to a simmer and reduce the volume of the liquid by about one third (10-15 minutes). Season the sauce with salt and pepper and strain into a gravy boat. 
5. Carve the beef into slices about 1 inch thick and serve with the au jus. 

Cook's Notes: I used pre-made beef stock for the au jus (I did not have time to make it from scratch). It is important to allow the roast to rest for at least 10 minutes before you slice it.  It is also critical to use a remote sensing thermometer to monitor the temperature of the roast.  You can pick one up at most kitchen stores (or Bed, Bath and Beyond) for $25-35.  Once you cook a roast with a remote sensing thermometer, you will wonder how you ever cooked without one!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve and Filet Mignon

For our Christmas Eve dinner, we made this dish:

Filet Mignon with Shallot Pepper Cream Sauce

·         1/4 cup coarsely crushed black peppercorns
·         4 (6 ounce) beef tenderloin filets, 1 1/2 inches thick
·         salt to taste
·         2 tablespoons butter
·         1 teaspoon olive oil
·         1-2 shallots, finely chopped
·         ½ cup beef broth
·         ½  cup heavy cream

Preheat an oven to 275F.

Place the peppercorns into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle the beef tenderloin filets with salt on both sides, and coat both sides with crushed peppercorns. Place the filets on a cutting board or dish and cover with foil. Let the filets sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes.

After the filets have warmed, place them in a pan and put the pan in the pre-heated oven. Cook the filets until they have reached an internal temperature of 95F (12-15 minutes). Once the filets have reached an internal temperature of 95F, take the filets out of the oven.

Melt the butter with the olive oil over high heat in a non-stick pan until the foam disappears from the butter. Gently place the steaks in the pan, and cook until they start to become firm and are reddish-pink and juicy in the center, about 3-4 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 125 degrees F (52 degrees C). When the filets are done to your liking, remove them from the pan and cover tightly with foil.

Cook the shallots in the pan for 1-2 minutes, then pour the beef broth into the pan and use a whisk to stir the broth and scrape up any dissolved brown flavor bits from the skillet. Whisk in the cream, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, then simmer the sauce until it is reduced and thickened, 5 to 6 minutes.  Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, place the steaks back in the skillet, turn once to coat with sauce, and serve with the remaining sauce.

In this image above, you can see the filets covered by aluminum foil as I simmered and reduced the shallot and pepper cream sauce.  The trick to cooking a perfect medium rare filet mignon is heating the filets to approximately 95F before you cook them in the pan.  The filets cook through evenly and you do not burn or singe the outside of the filets.

To compliment the filets, we enjoyed a bottle of St. George Skouras, which was recommended by our personal sommelier, Amy Ruis, who is the proprietor of Art of the Table.

And I am happy to report that Deirdre's reindeers were in attendance as well.

We served Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Cous Cous and Deirdre's Famous Tossed Greens with the filets.  All in all, not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Roasted Chicken

Or we could call it It Takes a Village Roast Chicken.  For whatever reason, I wanted to roast a whole chicken.  The $4.99 chicken-in-a-plastic-container wasn't enough.  No, I needed to make a mess of the kitchen.  Good thing I like to clean up.

I put a request for help on facebook.  I had so much help that I didn't even need the other sites.  We had everything we needed from friends.  I started with this recipe:

1 (3 pound) whole chicken, rinsed
1 small onion, quartered
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
I added lemon, garlic, and an apple.     

My friend Tamara wrote this:
Take a dull knife, like a butter knife and lift the skin off the breast, slicing through the membrane. Make a marinade of rosemary, olive oil, lemon, sea salt, garlic and pepper in the blender. Pour 3/4 of the mixture under the skin, into the cavity. Pour the remaining 1/4 onto the outside of the bird. Cook. Eat.

Other great friends sent links, ideas, and advice.  Like make sure the chicken is dead.  And plucked.  Excellent advice.





We cooked it to:


Tamara,  it was MAGNIFICENT.  While it's a little messy, it sure beats the store-bought stuff. 

Cheers to Christmas vacation!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Sunday

Well, we are going out on a limb ... figuratively of course ... and trying something new. I found this recipe in Real Simple and right now, it's simmering away.  

Slow Cooker Pork Ragu 

1 large carrot (I used three)
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes - I used diced tomatoes with sweet onions
1 1/2 lbs pork




Combine all ingredients in the crockpot and cook - 5-6 hours on high,  7-8 hours on low. 

The recipe says to serve with fettuccine.  I will serve it over orzo. With Parmesan cheese of course!

Full report to follow. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beef Tenderloin

This was the main course for dinner on Saturday night.  It is a keeper.

- 1 (3- to 4-pound) beef tenderloin roast
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons coarsely-ground black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup red wine (your favorite red wine)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 450F.

Using individual pieces of kitchen twine/string to truss the roast. Tie the string around the tenderloin roast with equal spacing between each truss. Tie the meat firmly, but not too tight.

From Beef Tenderloin November 2012

From Beef Tenderloin November 2012
Pat the beef dry with paper towels (this is important as surface moisture will interfere with good browning).  Lightly oil outside of the roast and sprinkle with coarse salt; pat ground peppercorns all over the meat, pressing into the meat with the palm of your hand.

From Beef Tenderloin November 2012
Heat a large cast-iron frying pan over high heat. Without adding any cooking fat, sear the roast on all sides (about 3 rotations, approximately 1 minutes each). NOTE: Resist the temptation to constantly turn the beef from side to side and you'll be rewarded with a beautifully browned crust. When browned, immediately remove from heat.
From Beef Tenderloin November 2012
Place the seared roast in a large baking pan or cast iron skillet and cook uncovered. Roast in oven approximately 20 to 40 minutes (depending on size of your roast) until a meat thermometer registers desired temperature.  We the roast until it was 125F for medium-rare.  We used a cast iron skillet to cook the roast.

When the roast reaches your desired temperature, remove it from the oven and place the roast on a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Pour the red wine into the baking or roasting pan to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits.
From Beef Tenderloin November 2012

In a large frying pan or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the mustard and cream and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the cutting juices and the red wine mixture to the cream sauce.  Stir to combine, then pour the sauce into a heated serving bowl to serve with the sliced roast.

Cook's Notes:  This was an incredibly easy and elegant recipe.  Our roast was done after 21 minutes in the oven.  The wine sauce has a very subtle flavor.  Next time, we might chop up some shallots and throw then into the sauce.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Herb and Garlic Crusted Beef Tenderloin

We dusted off a tried and true recipe for dinner Saturday night:

Herb and Garlic Crusted Beef Tenderloin

- 1 beef tenderloin
- Olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ½ tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2 ½ tablespoons minced fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Mix 6 tablespoons of olive oil together with the garlic, rosemary and thyme in a small bowl and set aside.  Rub a tablespoon of olive oil over the tenderloin, then sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste.  Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then cook the tenderloin on all sides for about 5 minutes.  Remove the beef from the skillet and place it into an iron frying pan.  Coat the top of the tenderloin with Dijon mustard, and then pat the garlic and herb mixture onto the beer.  Roast the meat until its internal temperature is 125F.  Immediately remove the tenderloin from the oven and place it on a platter.  Cover loosely with foil and let the beef rest for 10 minutes. 

Cut the tenderloin into ½ inch thick slices and serve.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pesto and more

This is a recipe for pesto.  But really it's a story about community disguised as a recipe.  It's a long story but a good story.   I will start at the end and work backwards.

Over Labor Day, Marj and her husband Paul came for a visit. They are both visionaries and entrepreneurs, as organic gardeners and owners of the world's best body care, Mirror Lake Organics

When they came to the cottage for the weekend, they brought food picked from their garden.  Marj made an amazing tomato salad, orzo with fresh asparagus, and corn.  To say the food was good would be useless.  I would only say that I wanted to come home, sell my house, and start a farm of my own. 

Later in the week, I went to the Oscoda Farmer's Market and met a woman who had a farm herself.  She said that she had the largest farm in Alcona County and picked the food herself.  I tasted one of her tomatoes (at her urging) and bought two boxes.  I don't even like tomatoes.  I also bought potatoes and green beans.  For the next three nights my dinner consisted of her green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes.  They were magnificent. 

I also bought a large bunch of basil.  For $1, I thought if nothing else my car was going to smell wonderful for the ride home.  I saw on fb my VP at work, Henry had also purchased basil and was going to make pesto.  Perfect.  He posted the recipe for me.  I made pesto. Thank you Henry.  Your time was perfect.  :)

From Pesto

And more inspiration....

Earlier in the summer, I wrote about my friend (and executive chef) Tamara and her recipe for salmon.  The flavor and the experience can't be transcribed into words.  Suffice it to say it was exquisite. As is she.

She got me thinking about food and being brave with unique combinations. I wouldn't think about crystallized ginger (who would really?  Apparently someone because stores sell it). She is fearless in her recipes and has me thinking about what else might be fun to do, to make, to try. 

And my friend Karen who by day is an HR rockstar; at night and on weekends, she bakes.  She bakes works of beauty.  It's great fun to watch what she is making, er baking next.  No, she doesn't ship.  Yet. 

It's great fun to find community in unlikely places.  What I will do with the pesto is yet unknown.  This I know for sure ... I am grateful to all you who inspire, share, and help.  I know that will make many more trips to the local farmers market, experiment wildly, and continue to admire good baking from across the country. 

Pesto (courtesy of Allrecipes)

3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts

Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend to a smooth paste.

From Pesto

From Pesto

From Pesto

Will be certain to let you know what I do with the pesto. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Marj's famous dressing

Ingredients (no amounts - just "to taste")
Olive Oil
White Wine Vinegar
Garlic clove(s)
Dijon Mustard
pinch of sugar
fresh ground pepper

Add crushed garlic, vinegar, sugar, pepper & a bit of Dijon mustard and mix with fork or small whisk until well blended and creamy. Add olive oil to above mixture and blend well

You can also add dried herbs if desired.

We had this over tomatoes from her farm's garden.  Here is how she made it: For the tomato salad, I just tossed together chopped tomatoes, diced fresh basil, "potato peeler" slivers of Parmesan and the dressing.

Staple now.  SO good. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Green beans

I love vegetables.  I love farmers' markets.  I have fresh green beans, pine nuts, and feta cheese.  Together, it all sounds really good to me.  So this recipe is adapted from several other recipes.  Yum.  

1/3 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed, blanched in boiling salted water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sprinkle of feta cheese

Drain green beans well and pat dry.

Toast the pine nuts. When toasted, add the green beans with a little butter and toss to coat evenly. Cook just enough to warm through, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, sprinkle with feta cheese, and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I love broccoli. A friend (on fb) shared a wonderful recipe for baking it.  I could eat this every night.

I rinse, then pat dry, the broccoli.  I put it on a glass pie plate and drizzle the broccoli with olive oil.  Then, I sprinkle a little of Mickey and T's Taste of France seasoning.  It makes it.

From Broccoli Dish

Into a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  When done, remove and cover with Parmesan cheese.  Broil for 2-3 minutes.

From Broccoli Dish
So, so, so delicious.  Eat your vegetables.  They are good for you.  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chopped Salad

I originally posted this in 2008. It's still delicious.  We had it last night with some ribeyes.

Salads I think are the most overlooked component of a good meal. When we lived in San Diego, one of our very favorite restaurants was Sammy's Wood Fired Pizza. The name was a misnomer, as some of the BEST items on the menu were salads. And pasta. But salads are the focus here. I loved their chopped salad and worked to replicate it, just as deliciously but not as much work. So here is my very best knock off. Enjoy.


* 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped (for two people 1/3 - 1/2 head is PLENTY)
* 12 leaves basil (or more) chopped (I use way more ...)
* 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
* 1/2 cup salami, cut into thin strips (optional)
* 2 tablespoons scallion, chopped (optional)
* Black olives (optional)

From 2012-08-04

I can't replicate the dressing but I can do one better. (Paul) Newman's Own Dressing is the best for it. Using sparingly. This salad doesn't keep so eat up!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tamara's Exquisite Salmon

This is a nanner, nanner post.  Like I have a friend-who-is-an-executive-chef nanner, nanner.

We had a very big piece of salmon and needed to cook it.  It was a gift from our cousin and since we don't do a lot of fish on the grill, truly had no idea how to cook it.

So, for recipes, I turn to Tamara.  Not All Recipes.  Not cooking sites.  Not even Twitter.  Just Tamara.  Here was her recipe:

Usually a couple tablespoons olive oil, half  a lemon at least 1 tablespoon soy sauce because you won't be using salt, 2 tablespoons ginger, sometimes I wash it off a bit to remove some of the sugar...

Recipes pour out of her like magic.  Because I am NOT a cook I needed a little more direction.  Here is how we made it, with measurements.

1/2 bag crystallized ginger, minced
juice of a whole lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
3 T soy sauce
Big honking piece of salmon

Paul cut the salmon into small pieces. We marinated it for 2 1/2 hours.

From Salmon
From Salmon
From Salmon
From Salmon
From Salmon

Paul grilled it to perfection - about 7 minutes total.  Skin came right off.  There was nothing left of the salmon.  All gone, in our bellies.
From Salmon

Oh my goodness, you have to try this.

- a couple other suggestions she had:
for a little sweeter taste, use the whole bag of ginger, cut in chunks;
or add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup;
and/or use lime instead or with the lemon;
and/or use Vidalia onion or 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil;
My preference is the maple syrup. (Duly noted)

Thank you my friend.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Crockpot Pork Shoulder

Use your favorite barbecue sauce in this crockpot pork roast recipe. This is a basic recipe for pulled pork shoulder using a boneless or bone-in shoulder, but be sure your pork shoulder will fit in the slow cooker and will allow you to put the cover on tightly.

pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt, about 4 to 7 pounds, bone-in or boneless
1/4 cup of water
salt and pepper lightly
barbecue sauce

Place the meat in the slow cooker with water, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Tun to LOW and cook 7 to 9 hours longer, until very tender. Remove roast and discard fat and juices. Chop or shred the pork; return to slow cooker. Mix a little barbecue sauce into the meat for flavor. Cook for about 1 hour longer, until hot. Serve on warm split sandwich buns with coleslaw and extra barbecue sauce on the side.

I like to slice pickles and include them as well.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tamara's Cauliflower deluxe

I am fortunate to have friends.  I am REALLY fortunate to have a friend who is a professional chef.

Seriously.  How cool is that?  She is better than

I was home alone a few weekends ago and wanted something fun to make.  I love cauliflower so I wanted to make something with it.  I sent her this note on facebook and I KID YOU NOT in less than 30 seconds this is what I get back. 

I'm a huge fan of cauliflower, two cheap and dirty recipes come to mind.

Cooked chicken cut up (this is optional, I would totally make it without anything else)
Chopped cauliflower
Chopped onion
Rotini or wild rice (I used regular elbow pasta)
1 can cream chicken soup
1 cup mayo  (I would use 1/2 cup next time)
1/2 cup sour cream
Shredded cheddar (notice no amount listed.  Use your best judgment.  I used it all)
At least 1 T curry powder or paste.  (Next time I would use at least 3 T of curry powder)

Her directions:

Get your Mise en Place together with the chopped chicken and onion, add soup, mayo, sour cream and spices in a bowl and mix. Boil rotini, at the last minute throw in cauliflower, strain, shock in frigid water, toss with other ingredients. Add ingredients to an oiled or sprayed pan, top with plenty of cheese, bake for 30 minutes.

I like to freeze half for a later, "I don't want to cook tonight" moment. This is one of those leftover recipes, I would have a grilled chicken one day and have made cream of broccoli or cauliflower soup on another and just start tossing stuff in.

I might cook a little longer to heat through the cauliflower.  This is AMAZING.  Sooooo good.  I had it for dinner with a salad and several lunches the following week. Thank you my friend.  And no, I won't share her email address.  :)

Salad dressing - Caesar Vinaigrette

Several weeks ago, I bought a little gem of an e-book with salad recipes.  What  I didn't count on were the amazing salad dressing recipes.  WOW.

Last night, we made a Caesar salad dressing from scratch.  It called for anchovy paste that activated the gag reflex (ick) but ... it added the perfect kick to the dressing. 

Oh yum. 

1 clove garlic minced.  (We never use one clove and we use the garlic press)
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t anchovy paste
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t Tabasco sauce
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 T)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place the garlic, mustard, anchovy paste, W sauce, and Tabasco sauce in a small bowl and, using a fork, mash them into a paste.

Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.  Whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.   Continue to whisk until the dressing thickens. 

Fantastic.  Best dressing I have had in a while AND NO EGGS!  :) 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crockin' Sunday- Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder

We are on a roll with the slow cooker.  Here is what is in the crock pot cooking.

5 lbs pork shoulder
1 c. BBQ sauce
2 c. beef stock
1 tbsp. table salt (or to taste)
2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 tsp. granulated garlic (or to taste)
1 tsp. onion powder (or to taste)
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
Multiple shakes of Mickey & T's rib rub.  Double Yum.

Combine dry ingredients. Rub dry ingredients on pork, covering completely. Store overnight in tin foil. On a grill or on griddle which has a grilling side, sear meat thoroughly creating grill marks.

In a Crock-pot, combine Beef stock and BBQ sauce. Add pork shoulder to the slow cooker.

Set Crock-pot on high for 8 hours turning over half way through. Remove from Crock-pot and mash with hands adding 1 1/2 cups liquid from the crock.

Submitted by: Jem J Hamilton

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Breakfast of champions

I love scrambled eggs.  I am the only person in the house who does so I typically make them when I am the only person in the house.  Such as this weekend.  :)

Eggs lightly beaten (as many as you wish)
White wine
Cherry tomatoes sliced to preference
Feta cheese (as much as you like)
Mickey & T's Greek seasoning

Scramble the eggs, adding the Greek seasoning and white wine as you go.  Do not overlook this step.  (Yum).

After heating the olive oil in the pan, I cook the cherry tomatoes until lightly browned.  Then I add the scrambled egg mix and let it sit for a bit.  As the outer rim of the eggs starts to form, I add the feta cheese. I cook until done. 

I cook a batch of this on Sunday and have great breakfast ready to go for the week.  And I can't recommend Mickey & T's seasonings enough.  They are wonderful!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blue Cheese Meatloaf

We started with Blue Cheese hamburgers.  Then I decided that we could try it in Meatloaf.

We try anything.  From

1 cup breadcrumbs  ((I used 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (I used way more)
1 lb ground beef
1 egg (slightly beaten)
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
blue cheese dressing

Combine bread crumbs and cup crumbled blue cheese.
Add ground beef, egg, onion, salt and pepper.
Blend thoroughly.
Shape into a round loaf.
With a spoon, make a crater-like depression in top of loaf.
Fill depression with Blue Cheese Dressing.
If desired, sprinkle more crumbled blue cheese on top.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour. -  **I use a probe and cooked it until the internal temp hit 165 degrees.

Cook's notes.
We don't use salt and pepper.  We use Mickey & T's All American seasoning.
I used more blue cheese and less breadcrumbs.
I mixed it up (sans breadcrumbs and egg) the night before to let it get all happy.  Added the breadcrumbs and egg just before putting it in the oven.
I kept it covered in the oven but next time, I would pull off the foil for the last 10 minutes.

It was SO GOOD.  I would definitely make this again and again and again.  


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Ribs

Things have been a little hectic at the Cafe recently.  We spent last weekend just East of the Equator, opening our cottage for the season.  Work at the General  has been  incredibly busy for me and Deirdre has been up to her eyes in work as well, so we have not posted a good recipe in a while  That is about to change.  

- 2 slabs of pork spare ribs
- Mickey & T's Rib Rub
- BBQ sauce of your choice

Cut the ribs into pieces of 2-3 ribs.  Liberally apply Mickey & T's Rib Rub on the ribs.  Preheat an oven to 400F.  Place the ribs on broiling pans and cook the ribs for 20-25 minutes.  When done, remove the ribs from broiling pans and place into a slow cooker crockpot.  Cook the ribs on high for 2 hours.  After cooking the ribs on high for two hours, remove the ribs from the crockpot and pour out any liquid or fat that has accumulated at the bottom of the crockpot.  Place the ribs back into the crockpot and liberally add BBQ sauce of your choice.  Cook the ribs on low for 4-5 hours, and serve.  You also might want to move the ribs around in the crockpot after 2-3 hours to allow the BBQ sauce to evenly coat the ribs.  Serve with cole slaw and sliced fresh bread.

We decided to cook some pork spareribs for our dinner last night.  On Friday night. I took out the frozen slabs of ribs from the pig we bought last year and defrosted them.  

I sliced the ribs into 2-3 rib pieces, and applied Mickey & T's Rib rub on the piggies.  If you have never tried any of Mickey's rubs or spices, I urge you to give his stuff a try.  We just love his products.
This rub is amazing!

I placed the ribs into the oven and cooked them for ~20 minutes.  I then removed the ribs from the oven and placed them into our crockpot.
Into the oven.

Ribs after 20 minutes of cooking.

These are the ribs just after I placed them into the crockpot.

I cooked the ribs on high for two hours, and I poured off the liquid and fat that had accumulated in the crockpot.  I put the ribs back into the crockpot, then I added a liberal amount of BBQ sauce to the ribs.  I turned down the crockpot to low and I cooked the ribs for 5 hours.  After about 3 hours of cooking, I rearranged the ribs so that the sauce would coat all of the ribs evenly.

The finished goods.

I am happy to report that the ribs were an unqualified success.  We served cole slaw and sliced fresh bread with the ribs.  This is an easy way to cook a delicious meal.

Of course, throughout the cooking process Samson wanted to supervise things and keep an eye on the ribs.  He did get a few snitches, of course.

Our next recipe will be for Blue Cheese Meatloaf.  You never quite know what is going to be served at the Cafe.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Post-ex on the Blue Cheese Burgers

I am happy to report that the Blue Cheese Burgers were an unqualified success.  We used twice as much blue cheese than the recipe called for, but the flavor did not overpower the burgers.  Next time, we will add even more blue cheese.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blue Cheese Burgers

It is an amazing March day here on the western plains of the Enchanted Mitten. It is 71F and sunny as I type this post.  It is a perfect day for grilling.  We decided to fire up our Weber grill this evening and make hamburgers.  

- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onion, minced
- 4-5 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste

Crack the egg into a large dish and scramble the yolk and the egg whites.  Add the ground beef, mustard, garlic, onions and salt and pepper to taste and blend well.  Once  blended, add the blue cheese and blend again.  Do not over blend. Shape the mixture into patties and keep cold until ready to cook.

Prepare a fire in your grill.  When the fire is ready, grill the burgers for approximately 5 minutes per side.  Do not press down on the patties while cooking.  When the burgers are done, remove them from the grill and serve on hamburger buns.  

Cook's Notes:
We used All American Season from Mickey T's Rubs and Spices instead of salt and pepper.  I cannot recommend his spices and rubs more strongly.  

We will serve these burgers with cole slaw, seasoned french fries and grilled zucchini.  Full report to follow after we have this meal.  As ever, cocktails are at 6:30PM, sharp.

Full Report
Fan_freakin_tastic.   A couple of notes.  We would, next time, ADD more blue cheese, drizzling some on the top of the burger after the flip.  And a friend suggested adding bacon.  Next time!  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chinese Pot Roast

This is a tried and true recipe that is in the oven as I type this text:

Chinese Pot Roast


1 (4 pound) beef chuck roast (bone in or not)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups water
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger  (I used 1/3 of a cup.  We like ginger)
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Coat the chuck roast with garlic salt, pepper and mustard powder. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the roast and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

In a medium bowl, stir together 3 cups of water, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger and celery seed. Pour over the roast and then cover the roast tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake in the preheated oven until the roast is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

When the roast is done, remove it from the pan to a serving plate. Set the pan of drippings over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir together cornstarch and 1/4 cup of cold water. Pour into the boiling liquid and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Serve, pouring the gravy over the roast.

Cook's Notes:  I am using a rolled roast for tonight's meal.  It was handy and defrosted.  I am cooking the meal in a Dutch oven, which I will use later to make the gravy.  I will make rice to compliment this roast, and some sort of tossed greens.  As ever, cocktails at 6:30PM, sharp.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beef and Lamb Chipotle Chili

We made chili tonight at the Cafe.  I found a recipe for Chipotle Chili and made a few changes to it with the items I had on hand.  Try serving it with some sour cream and grated cheese.  This recipe is a keeper.

Beef and Lamb Chipotle Chili

- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 2 TB bacon fat (or olive oil)
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small can of chipotle pepper(with seeds) finely minced
- 1 TB adobo sauce from chipotle can
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 12oz package of frozen squash (defrosted)
- 1 16oz bag frozen corn
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 bottle of beer
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 can (14.5oz) crushed tomatoes

1. Brown meat with fat in pan.  Drain the meat and set aside.
2. While the meat is browning, finely chop the onions and garlic.  Cook chopped onions, garlic, chipotle pepper, chili powder and squash in the same pan the meat was browned in for 7-8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer this mixture into a large pot.
3. Place the browned meat into the same large pot.  Add the frozen corn, tomato, beef stock and beer into the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer. After 30 minutes, taste the chili and adjust seasoning to your  taste.  Cook the chili for 30 more minutes and then serve.
4.  Add sour cream and grated cheese to the chili, if desired.

Cook's Notes:  This is a variation on a recipe I saw on a cooking blog.  I substituted frozen squash for fresh squash, and I added the corn.  I also used a can of chipotle peppers and I minced the peppers before adding them to the  pot.  If you do not like lamb, you could just use ground beef.  I used lamb because the original recipe called for it and I have a pounds of frozen ground lamb left from a 1/2 a lamb we bought last year.  The chili was spicy, but not too hot

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chicken Piccata

We will be making a tried and true recipe in the Cafe tonight: Chicken Piccata.  Along with some sort of to be determined salad, we will serve this dish over angel hair pasta.  Thanks to our friends at Art of the Table, we will enjoy this meal with a bottle of "The Tillerman" from the Hook & Ladder Winery.  We have recently become a bit more adventurous with our white wine pairings, so we are looking forward to trying this wine.  As ever, cocktails are at 6:30PM, sharp.


  • 3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts.
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Additional all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (optional)


  1. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  Place additional flour in a shallow baking dish.  Dip the chicken into flour to coat and shake off the excess flour.  Mix 1-1 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons flour into a measuring cup and gently warm the mixture in a microwave oven and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Add the chicken to the skillet and cook over medium high heat until golden brown.  Remove the chicken and place on a platter.  Tent the chicken with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  3. Bring the wine, lemon juice and broth to a boil in the skillet over medium high heat.  Whisk in the butter flour mixture and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the capers, parsley and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Place the chicken into skillet and warm the chicken to 3-4 minutes, then serve.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Deirdre's World Famous Salad

This salad recipe is a variation of a recipe a friend of ours shared with us last year.  You must be warned that if you do not like blue cheese or walnuts, this salad is not for you.  Here is what you need:

- 1/2 head radicchio, torn into bite size pieces
- 1/2 head Boston Bibb lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 1/4 cup roasted walnuts
- 1/2 Braeburn apple, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces.
- 2 ounces olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey

Whisk the oil, vinegar and honey until an emulsion is formed.  Place the radicchio, lettuce, blue cheese, walnuts and sliced apple into a bowl.  Pour the emulsion in the bowl and toss.  

Yield 4

P.S.  Deirdre's husband proudly posted this recipe.

Maple Mustard Ham Steak

We made this in the Cafe tonight.  It was easy to make and gave the ham steak a very nice taste.  Here is what you need:

- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 ham steak

Mix the mustard, syrup and cider vinegar.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade.  Prepare a fire in the grill.  Cook the ham steak for approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the steak and brush the marinade on the steak.  After 4-5 minutes, flip the steak again and brush more of the marinade on the steak.  Repeat flipping and marinating the steak until it it done.  Remove the steak from the grill, place it on a cutting board and cover it with foil.  Allow the steak to rest for 8-10 minutes.  Slice and serve the ham, and pour the reserved marinade over the ham.

Cook's Notes:  We microwaved the reserved marinade for approximately 30 seconds to warm it up.  We then spooned the warmed marinade over the ham and it was delicious.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Often, broccoli is an either/or food. You either love it or you don't.  Here in our home,  we love it.  (Ok, I LOVE it, Paul likes it).

Here is, through trial and error, my very favorite broccoli recipe.

Fresh broccoli, as much as you want, rinsed and dried.
Olive oil
Fresh pressed garlic
Seasoning (I use Mickey and T's veggie rub)
Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400.  Toss the broccoli with olive oil, garlic, and seasonings.
Put the broccoli in an oven-safe pan.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your broccoli.

Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Here I return the broccoli, with cheese, into the oven on broil for 2-4 minutes.

The garlic makes it for us.  It's virtually eliminated the vampire problem here.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese Pot Roast

This is a tried and true recipe that I will be making in the Café tonight:

Chinese Pot Roast


1 (4 pound) beef chuck roast (bone in or not)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups water
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger  (I used 1/3 of a cup.  I like ginger)
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Coat the chuck roast with garlic salt, pepper and mustard powder. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the roast and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

In a medium bowl, stir together 3 cups of water, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger and celery seed. Pour over the roast and then cover the roast tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake in the preheated oven until the roast is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

When the roast is done, remove it from the pan to a serving plate. Set the pan of drippings over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir together cornstarch and 1/4 cup of cold water. Pour into the boiling liquid and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Serve, pouring the gravy over the roast.

Cook’s Notes:  I will also make rice and some sort of tossed greens salad to complete this meal.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The first of Deirdre's Birthday Dinners: Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Mustard Sauce

Deirdre's birthday is upon us and it is time to celebrate.  There will be at least two and perhaps more birthday dinners to celebrate her birthday.  In the Cafe tonight we are making a tried and true favorite:


2 tsp. soy sauce
2 1/2 lbs. beef tenderloin
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 med. garlic clove, minced
3 med. shallots, minced
1/3 c. dry red wine
1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup (8 oz.) canned low-sodium beef broth
1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1.  Rub the soy sauce all over the beef and let sit for 30 minutes.  Season with pepper.

2.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over high heat.  Add the beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

3.  Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the tenderloin for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the internal temperature reads 127F degrees on a meat thermometer for rare.  Transfer the meat to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes.

4.  Pour off any fat from the skillet.  Add the garlic and shallots and cook over low heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Pour in the wine, increase the heat to high and simmer for 1 minute.  Stir in the mustard, broth and cream and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to moderate and simmer until the sauce has reduced to 1 cup and is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the butter until incorporated.

5.  Using a sharp knife, cut the meat into 12 slices.  Arrange the meat on plates or a platter, spoon the mustard sauce on top and serve.

Along with the roast, we will be serving rice pilaf and a Radicchio-Boston Bibb Lettuce Salad with a blue cheese dressing. 

Later today we will be stopping by Art of the Table to pick up some vino to go with this meal.  More to follow as conditions warrant.