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Mmm… homemade pita for gyros

DSC_0228 (1600x1060)We had gyros yesterday using store bought pita loaves and they just weren’t that good.  I’m guessing the turnover on flat breads isn’t very high and they were a tad stale.  I’ve made pitas before but it’s been a while so I looked up a recipe.  The NY Times recipe came up first and it looked to be easy.  We didn’t have any whole wheat flour, fresh milled or otherwise, so these are made with plain AP flour.  The only thing you need to watch for is getting them too brown.  The recipe warns:  “The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles.”  The brown parts are very dry and fragile and crack apart rather than fold.  I have a pizza stone in my oven, big enough to do two of these at a time without crowding.  A couple of them puffed up like little pillows but most of them just blistered here and there.DSC_0230 (1600x1060)The loaf is from Alton Brown’s recipe, as is the tzatziki sauce. I make a few alterations in his recipe, adding 1/3 part hamburger and several slices of bacon to the loaf recipe and this time I added fresh chopped dill to the yogurt sauce.  I haven’t used lettuce before but I thought it needed a little more green and we had no mint for a garnish.

Pasta Pr0n – Penne with Prosciutto and Sliced Sprouts

DSC_0047 (1600x1060)This was very good and really easy to put together.  I saw an off hand comment someone made about having lemon butter pasta with Brussels sprouts the other day and a search turned up a NY Times recipe that looked good.  I went with bacon and prosciutto for this one, and an entire head of garlic.  A couple of tablespoons of butter went into it at the end along with a splash of good olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.DSC_0045 (1600x1060)I followed the “pinch of red pepper flakes” option instead of the pretty red chilies in the recipe photo because I didn’t have any.  Mrs J got one of the pepper flakes on the tip of her tongue after enjoying half of her plate and quit eating, declaring the bottom half to be too hot.  I have to admit, my pepper flakes from the cayennes I dried from last summer’s crop are actually hot, unlike the ones they sell at the Kroger spice aisle.

Baked Lemon Chicken

DSC_9757 (1600x1060)This worked out nicely.  I saw this recipe the other day after a search prompted by one of the foodie shows on TV.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the one I saw put together on the show but it looked really good.  I made some minor changes but nothing radical.DSC_9747 (1600x1060)Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour and brown the pieces in oil.  Set them aside and wipe the pan out, add more oil and cook some sliced onions down, then add sliced lemons, sliced garlic, chicken broth, and a little lemon juice with a few sprigs of rosemary and let it come to a simmer.DSC_9746 (1600x1060)Spoon the veggies into a baking pan and lay the chicken over the top, then pour the liquids over everything and place the tray into a preheated 400 degree oven.  Baste every 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes in my oven.  I turned the chicken over for the last 15 minutes and then back again before I took this shot.DSC_9752 (1600x1060)We had pearled couscous and Brussels sprouts to go with the chicken.  The sprouts were sauteed in bacon fat with balsamic vinegar and more lemon juice.  Pretty decent dinner.DSC_9755 (1600x1060)

Friday Recipe Exchange: Happy 80th, Elvis

Fools Gold SandwichYesterday would have been The King’s 80th birthday. I like Elvis, but I’m young enough that I missed out on the frenzy of all things Elvis. Though, I’ve managed my own six degrees of separation…

My friend has an adorable, sweet story of how he hit on her (she was very much engaged at the time) when she worked on a film with him. She remembers him as a complete gentleman and had a lovely conversation between takes.

I met his step-brother years ago and he also had only wonderful things to say about him, especially when he was just a young boy and Elvis was already an American icon. Family was important.

So how does this get us to the recipe exchange tonight? All over the news last night was the story of how one of his favorite sandwiches was created right here in Denver. It had bacon, so I had to try it.

I’m not well versed in Elvis’ favorite foods. Fried banana sandwiches (recipe here) were about it, but I searched around, turns out there is a whole cookbook of his favorite foods, recipes and links here. Seems to be a lot of bacon involved.

How about you, what unusual things do you like to make into a sandwich? My brothers like peanut butter and dill pickles. I love lettuce, tomato and mayo on whole wheat. What else is on the weekend menu?

Tonight’s featured recipe is my take on Elvis’ favorite Mile High sandwich and you can find the whole story and video here.

Fool’s Gold Sandwich

  • 1 foot-long loaf Italian, French or Sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 16 ounces creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy, because that’s what I liked)
  • 16 ounces grape or blueberry preserves (I used an all fruit style, no added sugar)
  • 1 pound bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the bread in half, length-wise, coat with butter. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes

While the bread is in the oven, fry the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Hollow out one of the bread halves, fill with an entire jar of peanut butter and an entire jar of preserves. Top with bacon and top with the other half of the loaf. Slice to serve. I have no idea how many this would serve, I made enough for 2 servings instead of the entire recipe.

That’s it for this week. For the pet lovers, here’s some new Bixby, and here and his favorite new treat here.  Next week…I think something chocolate – TaMara

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Parmesan Potato Soup with Bacon

DSC_9465 (1600x1060)This turned out pretty well.  The bacon made that a foregone conclusion but the Parmesan was an experiment gone good.  I simmered potato pieces in chicken broth until they were soft and then pureed everything in the pot with an immersion blender.  The bacon crisped up in a separate pan and was added after the blender did its job – save a little for garnishing at the table.  There’s some milk in there to thin it, lots of grated Parmesan and some cheddar I had leftover from burritos.  Seasonings include dried thyme, oregano, fresh ground black pepper and salt.  I used the same microplane grater I grated the Parm with on a little bit of carrot that you can see in the photo if you look hard.DSC_9462 (1600x1060)Since I am  lunatic I took the chance to add a little color to the plate with a healthy slug of my hot sauce.  It was good but I wouldn’t let the lack of it dissuade me from demolishing a future bowl of this soup.

Mmm… Pizza!

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This is another one of those doughs that stayed out on the counter all night – two cups of bread flour, a quarter teaspoon of yeast, one cup of water, a wee pinch of salt and a sprinkle of sugar.  I massaged it into place in my pizza pan and let it rise there for another hour then par baked it at 425 for five minutes.  There isn’t a real sauce, per se, just some roasted grape tomatoes that I made last summer and then froze just for something like this.  It also has bacon, thin sliced coppa, some ham, a caramelized onion, mozzarella, and some nice Parmesan grated over it at the table.

DSC_9427 (1600x1060)I’ll just pop these leftover slices into the freezer just like this and then seal the individual slices in vacuum bags, they make great grab-’em-and-go lunches for Mrs J when she heads out to the shelter.

Pizza Pr0n – Many Meats

DSC_9191 (1600x1060)I started the dough for this yesterday, 2 cups of bread flour, one cup water, 1/4t tsp yeast, a pinch of sugar and a dash of salt.  It was pretty well inflated by noon, I dumped it into a pizza pan and massaged it into shape while the oven preheated to 425-ish.  It par-baked for eight minutes and then I pulled it to furnish with toppings.  I had some leftover roasted plum tomatoes that went on first in lieu of a sauce, sprinkled on shredded mozzarella, sparingly, and then piled on the meats.  Italian sausage, already browned and drained, crispy bacon pieces, fried ham, and prosciutto that was tossed in the bacon grease to brown a bit.

Mrs J’s side got pickled onion pepper rings, I added mushrooms and chopped ripe olives.  I gave it another sprinkle of mozz and slid it back into the oven, it needed another ten minutes or so.  It must have been better than usual because Mrs J went on and on about how good it was.  I thought it one of my better efforts – she wasn’t just blowing smoke.DSC_9193 (1600x1060)

Dinner Menu: Carne en su Jugo

mmmm-yummy1

I had big plans for cooking this week, which all went to hell by the end of today. So perfect time for a Men Who Cook/Guest Recipe.

Tonight we have a guest menu from my friend Alton Gunn, who has provided us with several good recipes.  It’s delicious, I’ve been lucky enough to have it several times (good are the friends who feed you).

On the board tonight:

  1. Carne en su Jugo
  2. Pico de Gallo
  3. Tortillas
  4. Margarita Melon Salad

Carne en su Jugo

  • ½ lb bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb sirloin steak, sliced thin and then cut in 1-inc pieces
  • 1 can (28oz) tomatillos
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt
  • 2 can pinto beans
  • sour cream for garnish
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped onions for garnish
  • fresh lime juice for garnish
  1. Brown the bacon in a large dutch oven. Add the beef and cook until brown (leave the bacon grease in the pot).
  2. Blend the tomatillos in your food processor and strain well to remove the seeds. Add about a cup of the tomatillo liquid back into the food processor and blend with the cilantro, and garlic.
  3. Add the tomatillo/cilantro/garlic sauce and the rest of the strained tomatillo liquid to the beef and bacon. Add salt to taste.
  4. Stir in pinto beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour.
  5. Ladle into bowls  and garnish with pico de gallo (recipe below),  fresh lime, sour cream.
  6. Serve corn or flour tortillas on the side.

Al’s Notes: I’ve made this with beef and pork. The basic sauce is good for stewing pretty much any meat. Will try chicken next.  Works well in the crockpot

Pico de Gallo

  • chopped onion
  • chopped tomato
  • chopped cilantro
  • splash of lime

Mix together 20 to 30 minutes or more before meal.

Margarita Melon Salad

  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 shots tequila
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cantaloupe, seeded and cubed
  • ¼ honeydew melon, seeded and cubed
  • ¼ small watermelon, cubed

Many markets sell halved melons and wedges of watermelon, making it easy to prepare this salad closer to desired amounts.

Combine lime juice, tequila, liqueur, and sugar in a bowl. Add melons and toss to coat with tequila and lime. Serve in shallow bowls.

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Originally posted July 2010

Leftovers – Kicked Up with Kale

DSC_9054 (1600x1060)Not much to this dish.  We had the butterbeans and cornbread leftover from the other day.  A quick saute of some kale in bacon grease and chicken stock and this was a done thing.  We cooked a half dozen slices of bacon and set them aside to drain, then added a couple of minced garlic cloves and a little diced onion to the fat, gave them a minute to flavor the pan, and then dumped in the kale.  Separate the tough stems and rough chop or tear the leaves.  I tossed the greens a little to coat them with the bacon and then added a half cup of chicken stock and covered the pan.  Let the kale tenderize in the steam for five minutes then uncover and toss until the liquids evaporates.  I ladled the warmed over beans onto a bed of the kale and crumbled the crisp bacon and the cornbread over them.  I squeezed a lemon into the kale to add a bright note but that is optional.

Ham and Beans

DSC_9047 (1600x1060)A cool front came through and dropped the temps from the 90s yesterday into the 70s today.  When I saw the forecast yesterday I knew that soup would work great for the menus today.  I soaked these large lima beans overnight and started them simmering in a big pot this morning.  I sifted through the results on a quick search and settled on this recipe to work with.  Turned out pretty good!  I departed from the recipe only slightly, using water and chicken seasoning paste instead of stock.  The teaspoon of Creole seasoning wasn’t something that I would have thought of for this dish but it worked nicely in there.  I went with a bacon and jalapeno corn bread using the recipe off the corn meal box and preheated the cast iron skillet to get that nice crust.  It spent 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

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