Sunday, August 30, 2009

Muffuletta and an Old Man

My kitchen is no Central Grocery, the New Orleans home of the famous Italian (Sicilian to be exact) Muffuletta Sandwich. Central Grocery boasts on their sign, "Imitated By Many. . .But Never Duplicated".

There is much discussion about this sandwich, but everyone agrees the crowning touch is the olive salad used to dress the sandwich. Second is the bread; some say use a bagette, some ciabatta. I will say I have actually eaten a "Muff" from the Central Grocery, and to my palate, the bread was a soft, round Italian loaf. They fill their sandwich with capiocola, salami, mortadella, emmental, and provolone cheese, in addition to the olive salad.

I used a purchased focaccia, which was about 7 inches in diameter, and 3 inches high, for my Imitation Muffuletta. I piled it with ham, turkey, salami, and provolone. Here is the olive salad I concocted. It is a delicious sandwich, no matter how you imitate yours.

Olive Salad

1 jar Giardeniera, chopped
1 1/2 cups pimiento stuffed olives, chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper

Blend together, then pour over 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Stir well before applying to the sandwich.

The old man part. . .when I went into the grocery to buy the ingredients I needed for my sandwich, I passed by a stooped and decrepit looking old man. He was holding his wallet and struggling to open it, as if to check it's contents, but his hands no longer worked very well. It occurred to me to offer to help him, but something told me, No. After I completed my shopping, I exited the store the same time as the man and I slowed so as not to rush him. Suddenly my vision blurred because of the tears welling in my eyes. The old man was hobbling away admiring the beautiful bouquet of flowers he had just purchased.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A New Baby

How happy we are as a family, with the birth of my daughter's baby girl who was born early Sunday morning. The baby weighed 7 lbs. 6 oz. and is very healthy and beautiful.

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much love the heart can hold.

--Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Things to love about summer. . .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mexican Rice

Here's a tasty and simple side dish I made to go with my enchiladas. I adapted it from and have made it a few times for Mexican inspired dinners. The original recipe calls for chicken broth as the cooking liquid, but as I am not a fan of using chicken broth when chicken is not otherwise on the menu, I substituted vegetable stock. (Save your stems, peels, cores, cobs, and ribs for making it).

Mexican Rice
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup long grain white rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, or water
1 small onion, diced
1 large poblano pepper, diced
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the vegetable oil, then stir in the rice. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in the broth or water, and bring to a boil. Stir in all the remaining ingredients. Return to a boil, then cover the pan, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork before serving.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pork Enchiladas

My enchiladas made with some of the leftover pulled pork turned out great! I did not count or measure anything and I don't think it is really necessary. Use as much of any of the ingredients as you want. Or add additional ingredients, as desired.

Corn tortillas
Tender cooked pork
Mild green chili peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced
Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Enchilada sauce

Heat the tortillas, about 4 or 5 at a time, wrapped in dampened paper towels, for 30 seconds in the microwave, so they are pliable for rolling. Pour a little of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon some pork onto tortilla, top with chili peppers and a little cheese. Roll tightly and place in prepared dish. Continue until the baking dish is filled with the rolls. Pour a generous amount of sauce over all and cover liberally with cheese.

Bake until heated through and the cheese is bubbly.

Friday, August 14, 2009

16-Hour Pulled Pork

I never gave the pork shoulder roast much consideration until this year. Aside from the fact that I was a vegetarian for many years, it always looked so fatty and unappealing. This year, some of my food phases and choices of the past have given way to the bottom line. Yes, money.

I found a way to cook this cheap piece of meat, which makes it tender, juicy, and so flavorful. Also, easy to pull away from the fatty parts I don't want to eat. I use an intensely flavored rub, then cook it in the crockpot for a l-o-n-g time. A nice crispy crust even forms on the outside just like cooking it over fire. The only thing missing is a smoky flavor, which I supposse could be introduced with a bit of Liquid Smoke, but I'm personally not a fan of that product.

I have just made this for the fourth time this year and we've had a pork-a-thon for a few days each time. Yesterday, I made pulled pork and slaw sandwiches, which is how my cherry poblano slaw factored in. Today, I'm going to make pork enchiladas. For other pork-outs this year, I have made pork pie with apples and cheese, egg rolls, pork stir fry, pork fried rice, pork and peach empanadas. I have used this pork to season a pot of pinto beans, with delicious results.

Spice Rub for Pork
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 dried thyme

Stir all ingredients together very well. Trim all visible fat from a 6 pound pork shoulder roast (aka boston butt). Rub the spice mixture all over it very well, and let rest for about an hour. Place into a crockpot, set on low, and cook for 16 hours. I usually put this on to cook, late at night, before I go to bed and it will be ready for dinner the next day.

It was a pulled pork BBQ sandwich that broke me from my vegetarianism at the end of a very trying weekend.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cherry Poblano Slaw

Cabbage is one of Pritchard Parker's favorite vegetables so I use it often. There is a lot to say about cabbage. It is versatile, can be eaten cooked, raw, or fermented (sauerkraut/kimchi), is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and folic acid, tolerates winter gardens, stores well, and is cheap.

I have sauteed it, steamed wedges of it, used it in soups and stews, stir fries, stuffed it, rolled it, and of course eaten it raw. It teams up nicely with bacon and potatoes. It is famous alongside Corned Beef.

We love slaw and I am always dreaming up different ways to make it. Which is what happened yesterday when I was thinking of the head of cabbage in the fridge, in conjunction with the other meal plans I had in mind. I was thinking of a Southwestern or Carribean twist. I have used fruits in slaw before. . . Aha! I also had about a pound of cherries on hand, so I knew what I would do.

Cherry Poblano Slaw

1 medium head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh cherries, pitted and halved
3 medium poblano peppers, diced
Mix together in large bowl.

1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, cut into chunks
2 tsp. lime zest
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

Place all ingredients into mini food processor, or blender, and puree until smooth and emulsified. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Chill, in refrigerator, for about 2 hours before serving.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ploughman's Platter

As the story goes, an English field worker's lunch typically consisted of buttered crusty bread and a wedge of cheese. On lucky days he would have a piece of sausage or maybe a boiled egg. Once this lunch started appearing on pub menus, variations came along with it. Pub menus often include on the Ploughman's Platter, pickles, chutneys, onions, and tomatoes, maybe a little pot of mustard.

Whatever you include, it makes a satisfying meal for a hot and busy summer day. Sometimes I use smoked fish rather than sausage and I vary the cheeses. Brie and mango chutney are delicious, and blue cheese is a favorite of ours.

Here is one I recently made for Pritchard Parker's supper, when he worked very late on a project.

Ploughman's Platter
Egg Salad
Provolone cheese
Grilled sausage
Pickled Okra

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grilled Stone Fruit Cobbler

Here is a take on a cobbler recipe that has circulated for many years. Any kind of fruit can be used, of course. I used grilled peaches, plums, and apricots.

Easy Fruit Cobbler
4 cups fresh fruit
1/2 - 1 cup sugar, dependending on the sweetness of the fruit
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
Stir together fruit and sugar and set aside. Blend flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together in an ungreased 8x8 square baking dish. Stir in milk, then melted butter. Spoon the fruit mixture over the batter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50 - 55 minutes, until golden. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shady Summer Supper

One of my Mother's stand-by family suppers, was a dish she called Goulash. It was always a crowd pleaser and I have turned to it time and again myself. Mama would make a basic ground beef spaghetti sauce, then thin it out with tomato juice before adding raw elbow macaroni right to the pot. When the macaroni was tender, she would cover the top with grated cheddar cheese, and when that was melted, it was time to eat. Pasta, cooked this way is not only very easy, it is very rich and hearty tasting.

A while back, after I had made the same thing, I took some leftovers to have for lunch at work. A coworker came into the break room, exclaimed about the heavenly aroma, wondered what I was eating, walked over, peered into my dish, and said, "Oh, hamburger helper". You should have seen me stiffen and bristle! I simply stated, "I can help my own hamburger, thank you."

Yesterday, I decided to make a lighter version using lots of fresh vegetables.

Summer Goulash
1 lb. ground chuck
2 large Vidalia onions
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups vegetable stock
3 large summer tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 crookneck yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 -1/2 c. chopped fresh herbs - I used parsley, oregano, and basil
1/2 lb. pasta, any shape, cooked al dente, in salted water

Brown ground beef and onions, over medium high heat, to the point of carmelization. Pour out any excess fat. Add garlic, celery, carrots, and stir for a couple of minutes. Deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock, then add the salt, black and red peppers, and sugar. Cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the tomatoes, squash, and zucchini, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes more. Stir in the cooked pasta and fresh herbs, and heat through.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sesame Noodles

Sesame Noodles are a simple, nourishing, and satisfying meal in a bowl. Perfect for a summer evening picnic.

Sesame Noodles

1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Puree in a blender until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl.

Noodle Salad
3/4 lb. linguine
1/2 c. scallions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced into ribbons with a peeler

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender. Meanwhile prepare vegetables and put into the bowl with the dressing. Drain noodles and place in bowl. Stir, until all is blended well.

Top with toasted sesame seeds.