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Pasta Pr0n – Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Biscuit Crust Pot Pie

Well, it’s a semi-sorta biscuit crust pot pie.  Biscuit crust pot pies are a thing, but whenever I’ve made them (usually with store bought pop biscuit dough) the tops of the biscuits browned nicely but the bottoms were always nearly raw.  This fixes that.  I found a nice pan biscuit recipe [here] that looked really good.Lacking any buttermilk, I went the ersatz route with a tablespoon of white vinegar in regular whole milk.  I wasn’t sure that the butter in the pan bottom would incorporate well but it worked fine.My pan was 10×12 inches rather than the 8×8.  I figured that for what I was doing there wouldn’t be any problem with a tad thinner biscuit.  It did finish quicker, mine took 15 minutes at 425.I wish I had thought to use parchment paper in the bottom.  I made a few half-hearted tries at winkling the whole thing out but ended up taking it out in pieces……and placing them atop the chicken and veggie filling that had been cooking on a different shelf in an identical pan.  I gave the top a brushing of melted butter and popped it back into the oven for a bit.The pan biscuits were really good, I do think that for this application the recipe should have been reduced by a third, or the amount of filling increased.

Turkey Dumpling Noodle Something

We had one of those frozen turkeys leftover from the holidays and decided to free up some freezer room.  It thawed in the basement fridge for a couple of days and then spent a few hours simmering it in a big pot with lots of veggies because we wanted a nice stock to come out of the effort.  I had dumplings in mind.  I made a half recipe, using only 1 cup of flour, rolled the dough very thin, and let it air dry for a couple of hours.  The dumplings nearly disappeared in the pot they were so thin!  Mrs J said she would need a few crackers, disappointed that the dumpling were so scarce.  I have to say, though, that the broth was great – thick and tasty!We had plenty of broth left and, lest it go to waste, I boiled some wide egg noodles in a separate pot to add in lieu of more dumplings.  They were good, not dumpling good, but they sufficed.

Getting Comfortable

20170305_174501-1600x1200Chili Mac

That Time of the Year

dsc_2229-1600x1200I rolled out my gas grill for the season and grilled a couple of burgers to get into the swing of it.  Gah!  It won’t be long until the grass it high enough that I can’t put off mowing.  I wonder what this season will bring.  Last year it rained so much that the grass was always high and wet – I smoked the PTO belts that drive the blades.  Hate it when that happens.

Not Random Meatball Sammich

20170225_115045-1600x1200The last two meatballs fit, just barely, on one of my long buns.  I call it a long bun not because it is long but because it is not round.  Makes perfect sense to me.

Sloppy Dogs

dsc_2119-1600x1200It’s like a chili dog but with sloppy joe fixings.  This one is dressed with cheddar and hot giardiniera.

Porchetta

20170127_142719-1600x1200Porchetta is as much a cooking technique as it is a particular recipe.  This one uses a pork belly but can be done by butterflying a pork butt or tenderloin.  The pork belly came from the butcher as a slab about 10 inches by 22, I cut this in half so I was working with a piece 10″ x 11″.20170128_104947-1600x1200The first step is to score it like so – it helps the herbs and spices gain penetration.  I sprinkled kosher salt liberally on the slab and followed that with fresh grinds of pepper.20170128_110359-1600x1200Next came black peppercorns and fennel seeds that were toasted in a dry pan, ground in a spice mill, then added to a dozen or more garlic cloves in a little food processor.  They were whirled about to mince the garlic and then spread on the meat, the fresh herbs were processed to a paste and spread along with the garlic mixture, followed by the zest of 2 lemons.  I wish my patio herb garden had survived, I had to go to town for the herbs:  rosemary, chives, sage.  I also bought a fennel bulb for the fronds to add to the other herbs.20170128_111940-1600x1200Last thing, before it spent the night in the fridge, was to rub it with salt and baking powder in a ratio of 1 tbs salt to 1 tsp of baking powder.  This is to help crisp the skin.  dsc_2071-1600x1200Ta Da!  This was cooked in a 300 degree oven for about 4 hours, then taken out to drain the fats off.  While it’s out, crank the oven to 500 and return the pork roll to really blister the skin, it wants to be crispy!  Watch it closely, it will brown really fast in that screaming hot oven.20170129_122018-1600x1200I mentioned that I bought a fennel bulb just for the fronds but I hate to waste a food item and so tried a braised fennel recipe.  First, slice the bulb into about 1/2″ slices long ways, and brown both sides in a little oil.  Add chicken stock and water to the pan, sprinkle on salt and pepper, cover, and simmer until tender – another 15-20 minutes.20170129_125412-1600x1200Serve the fennel with fresh parmesan and garnish with more of the fronds.

Perfect Corn Muffins

20170113_113631-1600x1200Amazon tempted me with one of their lightning deals on some silicone muffin trays.  I’m pretty easy.  These corn muffins from smittenkitchen looked like a good way to test drive them.20170113_110542-1600x1200The method was interesting, 1/2 cup of cornmeal was simmered in the milk until it started to look like porridge, then cooled slightly in a bowl in which the rest of the ingredients were added in their turn.  The cup of sour cream was a nice touch.20170113_110711-1600x1200Two eggs were the last of the wet ingredients added before the dry mixture was folded in.20170113_111538-1600x1200The resulting batter was pretty stiff.  The cookie dough scoop worked great in portioning between the dozen cups.  It wasn’t the perfect size so I did have to top off the cups by eye.20170113_113323-1600x1200I’m not sure how long these were in because I forgot to set  a timer.  These passed the toothpick test.20170113_114006-1600x1200Mmm… red beans cooked with a smoked ham hock – a perfect way to enjoy these perfect corn muffins.

Lunchtime!

20170105_113312-1600x1200Made the tomato soup from a big can of those San Marzano tomatoes.  I found a couple of 280z. cans in the bargain basket at Kroger a while back and this last one sat in the cupboard till I had this flash of inspiration.

Mince a carrot and half an onion and sweat them down in butter in a sauce pan.  Sprinkle a bit of flour on the veggies and stir for a minute, then add chicken stock and a can of tomatoes.  Season with celery salt, a pinch each of nutmeg, ground cloves, and black pepper and bring to a simmer for half an hour or so.  Let cool a bit, then puree in a blender or with a stick blender.  I like the stick blender because it’s easier to clean up.  Add more chicken stock if it looks too thick.  Some folks like to add cream right before serving but I never did eat it that way.