Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meal No. 248: Thai Shrimp Curry

I feel like I've already been eating way too much this week while I'm at home. And I probably have. So last night, for the Wednesday evening meal, I wanted something that would not seem quite as heavy.

Then came the April 2011 issue of Bon Appétit with an enticing photo on p. 4 that drew me in. And that led to the choice of tonight's kitchen concoction.

It's called "Thai Shrimp Curry," and it was mighty good over jasmine rice while I enjoyed a Bell's Best Brown Ale and another episode of the third season of Star Trek.

Recipe from Bon Appétit, April 2011, p. 40.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meal No. 247: Salisbury Steak & Mushroom Wine Sauce

Salisbury steak has a pretty ordinary sound and feel to it, conjuring up visits to the K & W Cafeteria or something unknowable on the school lunch line. But this recipe from Chef Michaelangelo (Mick) Rosacci of Tony's Market in Denver gives you good guidance on making this a meal worth making at home and serving to company.

Rather than the ordinariness of ground beef, I made this using half ground bison and half ground lamb. This gave it another whole dimension of flavoring. But by the time I'd added the delicious mushroom wine sauce, it left somewhat moot the gradations in flavor between regular Salisbury steak and this hyped up/specialty meat version. That's how compelling the sauce was.

Recipe from

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meal No. 246: Canzanese Chicken & Polenta

Things turned out where I had to make a last-minute switch in my dinner plan for last night, and the first candidate that jumped out at me as I flipped through some cooking magazines was an article titled "Rethinking Braised Chicken." It looked interesting and easy enough but also promised to be a comfort in the midst of unseasonably chilly weather.

The actual dish is called Canzanese Chicken, hailing from the Abruzzo region of Italy. It cooked up mighty nice and was especially tasty with some soft polenta with mascarpone and some just-about-perfect Brussels sprouts on the side. The dinner was also made that much better because 'round the table sat a marvelous group of people.

"Canzanese Chicken," from Cook's Illustrated No. 104 (May/June 2010), p. 18-19.

"Soft Polenta with Mascarpone," from Michael Symon's Live to Cook, 2009, p. 160.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Snowing on March 28th?!

I can actually see April from here; it is only a few days away. And we've already had two days in March with a recorded high of 80°F or higher. So how in the world did we get this cruel twist of winter fate that brought back ridiculously low temperatures? I mean, for Pete's sake: the high temperature yesterday (39°F) was actually lower than the average historical low temperature for this time of year.

So let there be NO question at how distressing it was to look out my master bathroom window this morning and see large flakes of snow falling in the midst of gray, oppressive, chilly skies. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Vacationing & Creating Goodies

This luxury of being home all week is going to be awesome.

I headed into the kitchen pretty promptly on Sunday and Monday and came out with some delicious goodies.

Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies
for West Forsyth teacher inservice

Creamy Stuffed Eggs
recipe from Barbara Huneycutt

Southern Pimento Cheese
a 1st ever for me

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meal No. 245: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

When I started on faculty at Wake Forest University in 2001, one of the first advising appointments I had was with an undergraduate student named Byron Hoover. We had a great conversation about the field of education and the choice to be made about making it his major. Byron entered our teacher education program and went on to perform most impressively in his student teaching internship with Leslie Martin. After graduation, he took a position at Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Northwest School of the Arts. Now he and his wife Laura live in Fredericksburg, VA, with their two boys Noah and Jonah. He teaches and she is a guidance counselor in Stafford County, VA.

Last night's dinner was by demand: Byron had seen pictures and read commentary about the Roediger House's iconic burger: peanut butter bacon burgers. This is their fourth appearance here since my first "go" at them last November (and most recently a couple of weeks ago), and I was more than happy to accede to Byron's request that he be able to sample them when he was in town this weekend for a friend's wedding.

So that was our grub last night, with chipotle sweet potato fries alongside. Byron's take: "I'd say burgers with peanut butter and bacon is better than jelly bacon burgers."

Don't tempt me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Meal No. 244: BNGNFE, Again

Worked all week in Frederick County, VA, and finished up on Friday delivering a full day of professional development to 30 teachers...then drove the usual 4.5 hours home (but made excellent time). No dinner out somewhere for me: instead, with the ever-faithful Neese's HOT sausage on hand yet again, I answered the beck and call of biscuits and gravy with two fried eggs for supper last night.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Kitchen Window Feeder

One of the great features of the new kitchen is the eating nook/bay with its great windows and all the light they let in. I've got my old man's chair set up in front of the fireplace and it gives me a pretty good view out to the big squirrel-proof feeder that my mom got me years ago.

Last weekend I added another feeder, hanging outside one of the windows to give me another take on the bird action outside.

I do recognize a couple of huge drawbacks to it, though: it is very squirrel-accessible, and it has a bottom tray that will make it possible for oversized and greedy mourning doves to camp out there and gorge themselves.

It did not take long for my resident squirrel to go for this feeder, and I didn't even think about him using the windowscreen to accomplish this.

It appears that he is indeed a male, by the way.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Supermoon 2011

I do love a full moon, especially when I'm at home in Winston-Salem and can watch it rise over the city skyline.

Interesting tidbit: The night I moved into the Roediger House, on November 8, 2003, there was actually a lunar eclipse, and it was a very cool reddish moon that traced a path up and over that city skyline view to the east. I stood in the chill air that night and watched it from the upstairs porch/balcony for quite a while. Unfortunately, I did not have a decent camera and so I have no pictures of it to share here.

Last Saturday's nighttime sky offered another fun night of moon-watching, thanks to the Supermoon of 2011. The moon's elliptical orbit means there will come periodic perigee-syzygy occasions; March 19 granted us this enjoyable spectacle. The sky tried to cloud over a tad but that just made it slightly more interesting. (Unfortunately, the next two nights were very overcast and there was only the briefest glimmer of this visibly enlarged moon. But hey: I caught a quick glimpse of Saturn to the north and west of the moon on Sunday night.)

Once again, the upstairs porch of the Roediger House proved to be an ideal vantage point. Wish these pictures could do it more justice.

The path of the rising moon made it emerge alongside the Wachovia tower at the south end of downtown; that's the dome-topped building you can see in most of these photos.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Meal No. 243: Arroz con Pollo

Once again, I wish I could blog smells.

Yesterday afternoon I put the rice cooker to work for something more than just making rice. I had come across some instructions for making arroz con pollo at home, using the rice cooker, and this seemed a great time to take it for a test spin as an all-in-one meal cooker.

And as it did its thing through Monday afternoon, I got hungrier and hungrier.

The final product was not was cooked through but managed to retain more moisture than I would have liked. The flavor was quite good (had to add a bit more salt) and putting some heated queso dip on top finished it off nicely.

Recipe from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger & Julie Kaufmann, 2002, p. 123-124.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meal Number 242: Garlic-Crusted Roast Rack of New Zealand Lamb with Madeira and Stilton Sauce

I have taken some good-natured ribbing (I'm looking at you, Susan Phillis, and I'm sorry Bradley threw you under the bus) for tossing up some particularly pretentious-sounding titles and descriptions for some of the meals catalogued here on the blog. So I have given it both barrels for the small dinner gathering last night, and the scrumptiousness and fantastic deliciousness of it make me feel the spit and vinegar of a street kid challenged by a lesser mortal on a grimy back street of the city. Let the chest-bumping begin, no matter who gets all up in my grill.

Because this was the main feature of the meal, both beautiful in its state of rest and awesome in taste:

A recent issue of Food & Wine magazine (April 2011) showed up here at the house, and on the cover was this garlic and rosemary-crusted rack of lamb, and it was so simple and impressive I figured I'd have to have a go at it. A whole head of garlic is processed along with rosemary and olive oil to give a good rub to set up the racks:

To go along with it, I dug out a recipe for a Madeira and stilton sauce and decided to try it out as well, and it was a delicious accompaniment. That meant a run to the Whole Foods, since stilton is not a usual item in the Harris Teeter fancy cheese case.

With some peas and pearl onions and rather large sweet potatoes, it made a complete spectacle of itself:

Bradley Phillis is a usual and faithful guest for meals that get thrown together here, and I think he noticeably slowed down his progress through the dinner in an effort to fully savor it. That's a great compliment to the chef.

I, on the other hand, couldn't slow down to enjoy it because I was enjoying it way too much.

A tall pile of bones also feels like a good compliment to the chef.

The finishing touch was lemon tarts, following (loosely) the recipe I got from Anne Pierce (1905-1996), the neighbor up the street when I was growing up in Buies Creek and also my kindergarten teacher:

"Garlic-Crusted Roast Rack of Lamb," Food & Wine, April 2011, p. 148.

"Madeira & Stilton Sauce," from More Than Gourmet recipe collection online.