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Category Archives: Back to Basics Cooking

Tidbits

Lasagna!  Each of these holds just enough for two.  I used egg roll wraps again for these because I am lazy and they work very well.The layers were Italian sausage in tomato sauce, plain ricotta with a couple of eggs whipped in, and various shredded cheeses.  We ate these right away, the others were portioned and frozen, then sealed in vacuum bags.Kittehs!  Mrs J says they have a good crop at the shelter – nearly 30 that are still with their mommas.Smoked chicken, just out of the smoker.  No seasonings other than granulated garlic.  I bought a case lot of those aluminum pans a couple of years ago and they have proved handy.Ginger Boy has filled out, he’s not as big as Toby but that’s not from lack of appetite.I canned a bunch of tomato soup one year, put it up in quart jars.  That is the perfect amount for two servings.  

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B.E.L.T. Tacos

B is for bacon but this one is sous vide pork belly, sliced about a quarter inch and crisped a bit.  SVPBLET just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite right.I really like this taco rack.  I bought it thinking to use it to oven crisp store bought tortillas but it’s perfect for holding these home made tortillas for dressing.  My perfect BELT would have the egg yolk still runny, this time I scrambled and chopped a couple of eggs to make them easy to build with.The sauce is half mayo/half sour cream and that seems to work pretty well, it is spread on the tortilla about like you would spread mayo on toast for a traditional BLT sammich.Enjoy!

InstaStock

Just a reminder for those with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker – you can make a nice stock out of those chicken bones you are saving.I set it for an hour and that seems sufficient.  The Food Lab has much more!

Beef Tacos and Chicken Enchiladas

I had better luck with the press and cooking went OK.  Then my luck turned bad towards the end of this batch, but I did get enough to turn out some tacos.I’m not sure what happened, other than I got tired from being on my feet for too long.  The tortillas were refusing to release from the plastic and I ruined half of them.  I did save some from a trial run this morning – they kept alright in a zip bag and just needed rewarming,I made those enchiladas yesterday but didn’t take any photos.  They were pretty good – chopped grilled chicken breast, Spanish rice, white cheese, and sour cream rolled in the fresh tortillas and drowned in salsa verde.

Breakfast for Lunch Pr0n

I’m planning basic tacos for dinner, maybe some enchiladas.  Mrs J needed lunch sooner than I could have them ready so French toast filled the gap.  And those teeny weenie sausages!  I think I’ll leave the griddle out for the tortillas this evening, see how it does compared to the big skillet.

Gadget Post – Tortilla Press

I finally pulled the trigger on one of these things, a brief look at Amazon led me to this one.  Great reviews, cast iron, etc.  I went though three or four batches of masa dough before finally getting everything to work right for me.  First batch was impossible to get out of the plastic that everyone recommended be used to make it easy – I cut circles out of a freezer weight ziplock bag. At least it was easy to scrape the failed tortilla off them.I Googled “wah!  the tortilla will not release” and discovered that you need to cover the dough ball for 30 minutes or more.  So I made another batch and rested the dough ball, covered, for 30 minutes.  Not a bit better!  Hmm… let me check the use by date on my masa flour – “best if used by 4/15”.  OK, time for a new bag!  Mumble mumble, toil and trouble!  OK, new bag of flour.  Not much of an improvement.  I have been following the recipe on the bag:  1 cup water for every cup of masa but I vaguely recall watching one of the TV shows and seeing oil or some other fat added to the mix.  Another search confirms that, I quickly found a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon of oil or lard per cup of flour.Success!  I can, finally, peel the plastic from the tortilla.  They are fragile in this uncooked state and it takes a bit of practice to flop the tortilla onto the hot (500 degrees) cast iron. This is my best one so far, no wrinkles or folds and I managed to flip it without tearing.  Yay!

We might have tacos and enchiladas later – stay tuned!

Say Hello To My New Little Pans

These are 1/6th sized hotel pans and they are approx. 2-1/2 inches deep x 5-1/2 inches x 6 inches.  Also called steam table pans because they are what you will see food served in when at a buffet.I’m using a sheet of puff pastry cut into quarters for crusts on these individual sized chicken pot pies.  Each sheet was brushed both sides with an egg wash.  Doing the undersides is a trick Alton Brown touts to help keep the pastry crusts from picking up too much liquid and staying doughy.Bake in a 400 degree oven until the crust brown to suit.  I looked at these after 12 minutes, turned them 180, and gave them 8 more minutes or so.The butter trick worked well enough.  Next time I may do these like I did the pan biscuits, cook the crusts by themselves and place them on the filling later.  Speaking of pan biscuit crusts, I had some extra filling so I made a small batch of that and did one more pot pie:The small batch of dough was:  1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/3 cup of buttermilk, and 1 Tbsp of melted butter.  Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and stir in the buttermilk to just combine and pour the loose dough into a small pan over the melted butter.  Press flat and bake in a 450 oven.  My little biscuit didn’t take long, maybe 20 minutes.

Tidbits

Mmm… another Reuben.  We’ve pretty much settled on an assembly standard:  The corned beef, sliced just so, homemade sauerkraut, and cheese all warmed in a skillet – adding the cheese only when the beef and ‘kraut are warmed through.  The rye slices are started in the toaster when the cheese goes on.  The thousand island dressing goes in a small bowl to be used as a dip – this helps to keep the sandwich intact because it is not soaking through the toast.  Pickle spear garnish is optional but encouraged!We’ve been seeing a lot of rain, 10 inches in the last week, and rivers and creeks are overflowing.  Whenever we get high water  one of the obligatory stops on the gawking tour is this municipal band shell at the aptly named Riverside Park.  The Big Muddy River (actual name!) is a tributary of the Mighty Mississippi, it enters a few miles below Grand Tower, IL.An access road loops around the park.  It would be visible below the shell but for the high water.  Right now we are kinda “meh” – we’ve seen it higher.  All bets are off should the rain come back.  Crews are sandbagging the big levee along the Mississippi just in case and they are keeping a 24 hour watch.We’re using those naan loaves for pizzas, and here is one replacing a tortilla in a vaguely Tex-Mex hodgepodge with rice, beans, chicken, cheese, eggs, and a salsa verde.Another selfie with Bitsy that I’ve run through the Prisma app.  This is using the Heisenberg filter.  My favorite filter is the one they call Gothic.Time for another pineapple upside down cake!  I used dark brown sugar in this one rather than the light brown I usually go with.  Pour melted butter mixed with brown sugar in the bottom of a pan, this one was made in a 9-1/2″ x 12″ hotel pan with 3/4 cup of butter and 3/4 cup sugar.  I drained the juice from a can of pineapple tidbits and used about half of them in the recipe.  Use the pineapple juice to replace some of the water needed for a yellow cake mix and pour the prepared mix over the pineapple bits.  These baked at 350 for 20 minutes and were not quite done so I added 10 minutes to the timer and reduced the temp to 325 because the top was browning nicely.  If you would rather go from scratch this recipe should work fine for you.These are a favorite and this surely won’t be the last one you’ll see here.  We are just getting warmed up for those summer garden tomatoes.

Moar Pizza!

Naan pizzas and a toaster oven were made for each other.  Bacon!

Tidbits

Mrs J adds Russian Sage to her garden.  She has been looking for it a while and finally spotted a set at a big box store.More naan pizza!  These are closer to pitas than the last batch we bought and a bit smaller.  I made a white sauce with garlic and stirred in provolone to make it a mornay sauce for the base.  Chopped roast chicken was the main topping with Brussels sprout slices and a bit of balsamic glaze.  More cheese was sprinkled on before these went into the oven.They worked out very well.  I added some red pepper flakes and a grind of black peppercorns to mine.Some BLTs with my own homemade bacon.  Too early for fresh garden tomatoes so we went with some from the Kroger garden.More breakfast for dinner.  We love those little sausages.Kittehs!  These are two of our own kittehs – Ginger Boy and Ollie.