Sunday, July 31, 2011

Doctor Who Series 6 TV Party (and Chili)

Six-Hour Chili for 6 Hours of Doctor Who

The show is so good that it's not really a huge feat to make me a fan of it, but I find myself all-too-quickly seduced into loving me some Doctor Who from the BBC. I'm not yet so manic about it that I'm having to go back and watch all the available episodes from the last 50 years, and I am still learning the villains and the backstories and the past companions and all that.

Still, it was tough to have the DVDs sitting around here at the house for that period of time between their release and when the Doctor Who Series 6 (Part I) watching party was scheduled for. But finally the day arrived, and a giddy happy anxious and enthused crowd packed itself into the upstairs TV room over bowls of Six-Hour Chili (Meal No. 330) and watched all seven episodes this evening.

In addition to the chili (which I forgot to photograph in the run-up and rush of getting the watching party started), I had on hand made-from-scratch brownies, brioche-topped peach and pear cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream, lemon sponge pie, and Bundt butterscotchy coffee cake.

And there were some special drink inventions, too: Doctor Whowaii, Amelia Pom, River Thong, and Two Thousand and Lime Space Rory Williams. Did you know there was a pineapple version of Fanta? And that the Fates intervened just in time to allow real and true Peach Nehi to be found right here in Winston-Salem?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meal No. 329: Fine Time with Family

It is mighty awesome that my sister and her family continue to come from Indiana to the beaches of North Carolina, especially when they build in time on their way down or back to stop off here at the Roediger House. Tonight was this summer's chance to see them, and we sat down to a late-night meal and a bit of catching up.

Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for Allison, we did not get around to eating the good South Carolina-Style Pimento Cheese I'd made.

Meal No. 329 was Deviled Chicken Quarters with three-cheese pasta bake and cat head biscuits.

For dessert, homemade vanilla ice cream:

Addendum: The next morning, when the Holdens were leaving, they offered a nice gift to Cyprus...a UNC kerchief for her to wear. And Eli discovered she likes to give great kisses.

Speaking of UNC things, my Toyota Tundra is now sporting a new North Carolina license plate:

"Deviled Chicken Drumsticks," by Ian Knauer. Gourmet, August 2008.

"Cat Head Biscuits," by Cali Rich. Cook's Country, April/May 2010, p. 12-13.

"South Carolina-Style Pimento Cheese," adapted from Sharon's Palmetto Pimento Cheese.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Meal No. 328: Grilled London Broil

Somehow, Thursday night at the Roediger House turned out to be a night of revelry, laughter, fun, shouts and hoots, and a drinking game, mixed in with some episodes of Doctor Who from the BBC.

I do love my beer and try to keep some good offerings on hand here in my multiple refrigerators. And most nights I'll have a couple, or maybe three, in connection with dinner. I am getting too old to consume a dozen, and that's what made getting my day started on this Friday a bit of a chore. Still, a young whippersnapper who thought to challenge me went down in sleepy defeat.

Now, for the evening's supper...

Tempted by the half-price sale going on at Harris-Teeter, I figured I'd give myself another shot at trying to make a good London Broil meal. This one is grilled, and I slipped up and let it stay on the grill long enough to overcook. But it's a good-looking piece of meat and it gave off a wonderful aroma both when it was cooking and while I was slicing it. I added a Bernaise sauce to it because it was quick, not because it was the proper accompaniment.

And I'm just not a fan of tough meat. I also tried making angel biscuits but I don't think I was using good yeast, and the fat did not mix in very well. The asparagus were way over-cooked (foil packet on the grill also) but the baked potatoes were good.

"London Broil for a Gas Grill," from Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2006, p. 11-13.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meal No. 327: Tomato-Gorgonzola Rotini

A meal I made at the beginning of the month has already made a re-appearance at the Roediger House. It's what happens with these really good recipes that fill a particular craving niche. It also helped that it was pretty quick and easy to make, because my other ideas for dinner were not in line with the time I had allotted myself.

This is rotini pasta with a tomato-gorgonzola cream sauce. It might have come out a bit heavier on the tomato and less creamy this time, but it didn't earn any complaints from the consumers around the table.

It was also kindly greeted when it showed up again late-night in the midst of a lot of alcohol intake.

"Tomato-Gorgonzola Sauce with Pasta Shells," from Cuisine at Home, October 2007.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meal No. 326: Two Versions of Wahoo

I've never made wahoo before (also known as ono in Hawaii, I've been told). For this inaugural adventure into a new kind of fish at the Roediger House, I decided to give the two fillets different treatments. On one, I put some of the Park Hill spice and mustard rub, since I had it on hand for the salmon the other night. On the other, I put Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic (which would be much better if I'd pan-seared the fish). Both were good.

I also tried another new risotto recipe, with moderate results. A third new thing tonight was broccoli with pine nuts and parmesan, and while the broccoli could have been cooked a bit longer, it was still worth all the extra crunching. I was happy that there was still some of last night's peasant rosemary bread, which reheated nicely while the fish was baking.

"Creamy Baked Risotto," from Cook's Country, April/May 2010, p. 23.

"Skillet Broccoli with Garlic, Pine Nuts, and Parmesan," from Cook's Country, October/November 2010, p. 23 (yes! same page but different issue!).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Meal No. 325: Beefy Tomato Mac-N-Cheese

Perhaps it is better as a winter dish, and for a much larger crowd than the three or four at dinner tonight (there were five sizable portions put into leftover containers at the end of the night). But the picture of Tomato Mac and Cheese in an issue of Cook's Country made my mouth water a bit. Below is my version of the dish, from tonight's supper:

I needed a bit more substance to it, so I added some seasoned browned ground beef (about a pound). That way it could be the entree. Since I am unexpectedly home this week, instead of working as I had on my calendar, there was time to do a little more than usual, at least in my mind.

So I pulled up a recipe I'd seen in Food Network Magazine that is supposed to mimic Romano's Macaroni Grill's rosemary bread. (I do not like that restaurant at all, but I do like good bread.) It really was pretty easy to make and resulted in four hearty-sized personal loaves (in the picture below, that's a whole cookie sheet that those four loaves are sitting on, if that gives you some perspective.)

Another new recipe I decided to try came from the Culinary S.O.S. column in the L.A. Times and purports to be the recipe for the famous roasted (or deep-fried) Brussels sprouts to be found at local eatery boon eat + drink. I upped the red pepper flakes more than I should have, but they were still darned good.

"Tomato Mac and Cheese," from Cook's Country, April/May 2010, p. 20.

"Boon's Brussels Sprouts" from California's boon eat + drink. Published in the Los Angeles Times [author: Noelle Carter] on March 3, 2011.

"Almost-Famous Rosemary Bread," from Food Network Magazine, April 2011, p. 52.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meal No. 324: Pork Chops with Bourbon-Apple Pan Sauce

Lately, I've been making bone-in blade-cut pork chops using a braising method, and the fall-off-the-bone tenderness and terrific flavor has been a real winner.

Tonight, I wanted pork chops but I was needing a simpler recipe, because I was scheduled to teach all day here in Winston-Salem. What jumped out at me was an idea found on the 30-Minute Supper recipe cards insert in one of last fall's issues of Cook's Country. It meant I needed to add a jar of apple butter to my last shopping list, since it's not one of my staples. And I also had to decide it was going to be all right to make a pan sauce with apple butter.

Turns out it's a great idea. The flavors all merged and melded and it was a sumptious, glazy boost of good flavor to top the tender pan-cooked chops with. I added a squash casserole, using the recipe on the cans of Margaret Holmes's squash and Vidalia onions, and also a batch of cornbread stuffing with onion and sage.

"Pork Chops with Bourbon-Apple Pan Sauce," from center insert recipe cards in Cook's Country, October/November 2010.

Squash Casserole recipe from Margaret Holmes southern canned vegetables.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meal No. 323: Baked Salmon with a Park Hill Maple & Spice Mustard Glaze

It's true that there was salmon in the house just a couple of nights ago. But I was up for it again and wanted to finally try a glaze recommended by my good Princeton friends Everett and David. They were even so kind as to send me the Park Hill Maple & Spice mix from the Savory Spice Shop, just so I could make this happen.

And it's darned good. It's a wonderful mix of flavors but it does not overwhelm the salmon. I also tried out an orzo-based risotto with blue cheese and pine nuts that proved to be marvelous. The meal was completed with a batch of lima beans.

For dessert: New York Cheesecake. I made it yesterday intending to have it ready for the large group that was here. But I didn't get it done in time to get good and chilled. I also felt like I cooked it a wee bit too. So far, though, the takers have appeared to be pleased with it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meal No. 322: Turkey with Onion-Garlic-Thyme Sauce

Saturday night's gathering at the Roediger House was another occasion for a big meal for a table full of people. I wanted to try out a slow-cooker recipe for turkey breast just to see what I thought of it, and I pulled one from Slow Cooker Revolution.

I am not yet convinced that the slow-cooker recipes in this cookbook are better than other versions (compare this meal to its slow-cooker counterpart, for instance). While tonight's turkey breast was well-cooked and quite good, it still turned out to be a tad dry. Not at all like the moist, flavorful turkey that's been served up as part of the several "Thanksgiving" meals I've made over the last year (not just November, but also December, May and June).

Now, I did not go all out as would be the case when I'm trying to put together the traditional Thanksgiving meal. To go with the turkey, there was buttery mashed potatoes and garden peas. I think the biggest hit of the evening, though, was the sauce made from the liquid used to help the turkey breast simmer and cook. It had garlic, onion, carrot, wine, broth, and thyme in it. I also added the turkey gravy packet that came with the frozen breast, along with some butter and flour.

There was no turkey left over, and it turns out I did not make enough mashed potatoes. But the crew seemed content with how the meal went, and that's always good news to my ears.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Meal No. 321: Poached Salmon & Israeli Couscous

Friday night at the Roediger House, and dinner was delicious yet again.

Had you been here, you could have enjoyed some poached salmon with chilled rosemary dijon cream sauce, Israeli couscous with pine nuts, and steamed broccoli.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meal No. 320: Curried Chicken Salad

Before heading out of town yesterday evening for a quick overnighter to Winchester, VA, I took the chicken meat from a deboned rotisserie chicken and turned it into a delicious curried chicken salad with toasted almonds and grapes. Served in a thick pile on some fresh potato bread, and washed down with Pepsi Throwback, it was what I needed before packing and turning the car north.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meal No. 319: Beef Tenderloin

OK. I've been on a bit of a red meat kick here, but I love beef and there have been some good specials on it. Plus, with a short bit of traveling to be done this week, I had to be more strategic about when I would fix which things.

So last night was roasted beef tenderloin in wine sauce, topped with succulent onion and mushroom, and paired with cheddar potato slices and broccoli.

I also tried out yet another new recipe for biscuits, this time from a recent issue of Cook's Country: cream cheese biscuits, and they turned out pretty well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meal No. 318: Grilled Filets

After a 15-hour-straight drive home from vacation out in Oklahoma (arriving back at the Roediger House around 7:30 am Monday morning), and a short morning trying to sleep it off a bit, I had trouble imagining a more satisfying meal than steaks on the grill. Simple to make, and always pleasing to the palate.

So earlier tonight (or last night, really) the Phillis boys rounded out the dinner table for grilled filet mignon, steamed asparagus, and baked potatoes (I was the only one who voted for sweet potato). A couple of delicious big bottles of Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 were knocked back slowly and reasonably. No dessert, though: instead, we let our food settle while catching up on a couple more episodes of Doctor Who.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cyprus, When Agitated

Thanks to a thrift-store find of a Brain Surgery "Operation" game toy, I have learned that Cyprus gets a very red streak of fur from her neck to her tail, when she is highly agitated or preparing to go postal.

In a dog's natural way, I suppose, she is much more accustomed to looking down and low, rather than peering up at things. So it took a while to notice the goofy plastic head for this game, sitting up on the mantle in the master bedroom. Once she saw it, though, she was ready for battle.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a great shot showing her fur color contrast, once that ridge of it stands on end. She was showing it again over the weekend, when she had a chance to be around the small yappy pups of some good friends.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Throwback in Reserve

I'd say I'm well-stocked on my Pepsi Throwback. And yes, that's a case of Mountain Dew 12-ounce longneck bottles as well.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cyprus in Mid-July

Cyprus managed to corner a bug at the rear glass door off the kitchen's eating area, and it reminds me that I think my pest control is overdue for their next treatment of the house.

She also managed to give a reasonable impression of Brando while knocking out her daily dental chew treat.

Friday, July 15, 2011

LaRoque Has Left Me in Limbo

I guess it has now been around six months since I last had a visit from the general contractor for the 2008-2009 renovation and addition project on the house. Peter LaRoque of Mocksville was last at the house in January, getting the Van Gogh room's bathroom back online after the damage caused by problems in the HVAC system. But as you can see from this picture, he's left me hanging with repair of the drywall, both in that bathroom and in the ceiling above the wetbar.

Ah, but there remains a list of things that he'll have to tackle, and he insists he'll stand behind his work. I just wish he wasn't standing so far away from it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cicada Season

Without ignoring how absolutely awful it must have been for my Virginia friends in the last year or so when the 13-year cicada season hit, and they were subjected to unending ear-shattering cicada music for weeks on end...I have to confess that I'm enjoying a more active cicada period this summer. That's just one of the classic sounds of summer, if you ask me.

And yes, I do keep enjoying the small touches of woods and wildlife that still manage to find their way to my humble downtown abode. Like this cicada who was hanging out on the front tire of my VW not so long ago.

Or finding the discarded carapaces clinging to tree trunks or on the ground nearby:

Or hanging onto a small tree branch:

And the tiny ones, that I'd never seen before:

And especially the nearly artistic ones, like this duo:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Early Lessons on Dog Toys

Look: there is an awful lot to like about Cyprus, as I've discovered in these first--oh--six weeks of her being in the Roediger House. She's an awesome dog and there is so little to complain about, it's just mind-boggling.

Here's one of her good points: she does not ever chew on things that she should not chew on. She came to me already clear about some things are hers to play with, and most things are not. How cool is that? So I certainly want to make sure she has some toys, like this fun tennis ball-rope combination.

But something I've learned pretty fast is that she needs toys that are sturdy and substantial, that will stand up to her powerful jaws and intense chewing regimens.

Ropes and tennis balls do not stand up to that test.

Cyprus managed to disintegrate this toy within about 48 hours, max. So out it went.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cyprus and the Squirrels

Time for more Cyprus updating.

In the morning, when I get Cyprus up, before she'll eat or drink or go outside or even give me a big wet kiss, she has to go patrol at the back glass door and see what the squirrels might be up to.

They drive her a bit nuts, running back and forth checking out what they're doing and pulling out of her a high-pitched unmusical but endearing whine (and, rarely, a bark...but that's not her style).

And, as you can see, the squirrels will occasionally be extra mind-bendingly taunting to her, whether they realize it or not:

Also, before doing outside business, she's got to sniff around the bases of the various trees that the squirrels frequent. The pear tree here that she's checking out is the same one that she has tried several times to actually climb.