Saturday, February 28, 2015

Meal No. 1219: Sesame-Crusted Chicken with Vietnamese Caramel Sauce

This past Thursday, after a nice snow day at home, I tried out another new recipe that was faintly reminiscent of Japanese Fried Chicken, which I've made a few times (using previous recipes in earlier issues of the same magazine). That sauce was more involved but it was pretty incredible. The chicken sautéed up juicy but with a nice crisp coating that was flavorful. Jasmine rice served as the bed underneath.

"Sesame-Crusted Cutlets with Vietnamese Caramel Sauce," in Cuisine at Home, Issue 109, January/February 2015, p. 22-23.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Meal No. 1218: Creole Shrimp Burger

I was working in Virginia Beach this week. Well, I worked one day in Virginia Beach. Then came some snow that closed school yesterday, with another storm rolling in last night that closed school for Thursday as well.

So I was able to scoot out of town on snow- and ice-covered streets and headed west on the relatively well-cleared interstates. That put me back in Winston-Salem early Wednesday afternoon.

I figured I'd try out another new recipe, this time for Creole shrimp burgers. I don't recall ever having a shrimp burger before, although my sister raves about a certain shrimp burger shack that she hits whenever she goes to the beach.

I thought it was good but it did overwhelm me, to where I couldn't actually finish it. I'm glad I gave it a go, but it might be a while before something like this shows up on another dinner menu at the Roediger House.

Update. My sister looked at this picture and said it looked nasty. Now I need to find out what a shrimp burger is supposed to really be like. I can see where this photo would suggest it was some horrible Morningstar Farms veggie burger, which is an abomination.

"Creole Shrimp Burgers," in Cuisine at Home, Issue 110, March/April 2015, p. 22-23.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter Finally Gives Us a Decent Snowfall

For all the cold we've endured locally here in Winston-Salem (and across the southeast), we've seen hardly any wintry precipitation. That finally changed overnight, when we got a pretty decent snowfall, of around 5 inches. It was heavy wet snow and it was still quite beautiful. It also was quick to begin dissipating as the day wore on, but I still managed to snag some decent photos.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meal No. 1217: Caribbean-Style Chicken with Coconut Milk & Cilantro

On Sunday night, with an extra day at home thanks to all the winter weather of the past week wreaking havoc on school schedules, I tried out a new recipe for Caribbean-style chicken over rice, with an aromatic coconut milk-based sauce to go with it. This was better than I was expecting, but I was also moderate with how much crushed pineapple I added to it. Some crushed cashews on top finished it off.

"Caribbean-Style Chicken with Coconut Milk and Cilantro," in the center recipe cards section of Cook's Country, February/March 2015.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meal No. 1216: Linton Hopkins's Bucatini Carbonara

This past Saturday night at the Roediger House, I reached for a favorite alternative to a Roediger House favorite: pasta carbonara. The version here is a little fancier, a little silkier, than the excellent version that my friend Monie Lawrence trained me to make as a simple weeknight meal. With it fitting nicely into a single bowl, there was no problem slurping it down while catching another episode of the original Batman TV series.

"Bucatini Carbonara," by Linton Hopkins. In Food & Wine, July 2009.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Meal No. 1215: Baked Dijon Salmon

On Friday night, with a roaring fire going in the fireplace, I made a fairly healthy meal of baked dijon pecan-crusted salmon on a bed of asparagus. More than enough to fill my belly!

By the way, yesterday (Sunday) turned out to be unseasonably nice, after all this winter weather and cold of the past week. Cyprus and I enjoyed sitting outside in the sunshine and temps in the low 50s, before the clouds came back in.

"Baked Dijon Salmon," by Esmee Williams. In AllRecipes Magazine, February/March 2015, p. 21.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Floor Refinishing: Second Coat

Ricky and Nubee Sneed from Clemmons Flooring LLC were back at the house on Friday and hung out with me the whole day. That's because they wanted to make sure they got two coats of poly laid down on the stairs and the first floor hallway. Here's how it glistened in the late afternoon light while still wet and fresh:

The continued Siberian air mass occupation leaves us in a perpetual deep-freeze here in Winston-Salem, so I was more than ready to make another fire on Friday night. It was a good evening to sit fireside since the main floor and the upstairs are off limits while the poly cures.

Fire No. 30

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Meal No. 1214: Pub-Style Burgers

This past Thursday night, I tried out yet another way to make a good burger, and I was pretty pleased. This approach depends on grinding your own meat (as I always do with the Roediger House favorite Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers) but it employs a slightly different technique. It also involves adding melted butter to the freshly-ground meat as a way to add back fat and heighten the juiciness of the finished burger. I also like that it called both for skillet-searing and oven-finishing, which gave it a decent but decidedly unbrutal sear on the exterior, while still resulting in a perfectly-cooked and juicy burger. The pub sauce was also very interesting and tasty, built on a mayonnaise base but then flavored with brown sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and chives.

"Pub-Style Burgers," by Bryan Roof, in the Cooking Class feature of Cook's Illustrated, February/March 2015, p. 24-25.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Final Phase of Floor (re-)Finishing

The last portion of floor refinishing needed here at the Roediger House is the high-traffic area of the first floor hallway, the entryway foyer, and the stairs going from the 1st to the 2nd floor.

With all the other work going on in the house, it hasn't been possible to get this lined up, and when I did, it turned out other workers and contractors were not finished on time and we had some stutters in these steps.

Yesterday, though, Ricky and Nubee Sneed of Clemmons Flooring LLC got underway on it. Thanks to a winter weather cancellation of school in Guilford County, I got to be home instead of working, which gave me one final chance to smell how awesome this 110-year-old wood is when it's being sanded.

Here's one shot of the hallway, looking towards the front door, after Ricky and Nubee had laid down the stain and the base coat of poly:

And poor Cyprus did not really seem to understand why her movements were being restricted by the child gate:

Speaking of winter weather, the high yesterday barely reached 20°F and it was projected that overnight we would dip slightly below zero!

That's some bitter cold, coupled with ridiculous winds and gusts that sliced right through you. So I finally broke down and built a fire to make the kitchen cozy on a Thursday eve:

Fire No. 29 (since addition was completed)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meal No. 1213: Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

Last night was a chance to try out another new main dish recipe: bacon-wrapped meatloaf. It was pretty wow.

The sides for this gathering of four of us: company mashed potatoes and buttered corn.

"The Ultimate Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf," by Cristin Walsh. In Cook's Country, February/March 2015, p. 4-5.

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Meal No. 1212: Steak Tips with Mushrooms & Sour Cream Sauce

Last night, the dinner ran a bit late (it was about 9:15 pm) in part because I was finishing up yesterday's Mardi Gras King Cake. It was worth the wait, though: this straightforward take on steak tips sat happily on top of stir-fried rice and under a savory mushroom, shallot, mustard, and sour cream sauce. It was a nice one-bowl meal at the end of a full day in the kitchen.

"Steak Tips with Mushrooms and Sour Cream Sauce," from the center recipe cards in Cook's Country, December/January 2009.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras King Cake

It's Mardi Gras. For the first time, I've tried to be deliberately conscious of this and to plan my time accordingly. Not because I'm headed to New Orleans, but because I wanted the festive occasion to inspire me to try making a King Cake for the first time. I just had to remember to set aside some time to do it, so I scheduled myself to be working locally this week. It was an added bonus that winter weather gave me snow days off from work today (and maybe tomorrow!).

So, this first effort turned out okay. I'm not sure if I had old yeast or if I managed to kill it with improperly cool or warm ingredients...because it didn't rise enough before I put it in the oven.

In the baking, though, it did puff on out:

I had to try some for dessert this evening after dinner. To be honest, it tasted a lot like a sugar-topped Entemann's cream cheese danish. Which means it was good, sweet, slightly dry and a tad dense.

And there was no baby inside, mind you. I'm not getting that serious about it.

Taking note of this holiday was also the inspiration for the New Orleans Pork Grillades I made over the weekend.

"Mardi Gras King Cake," by MaryJane Robbins, Blogger and Master Baker at King Arthur Flour.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meal No. 1211: Indiana Corn Chowder

We got us a bit of winter weather today: a small accumulation of snow and then about an equal-seeming amount of sleet. And some freezing rain. This was pretty disappointing because the forecast called for 3-5 inches of snow. But the weather pattern brought the undesirable other frozen precip instead.

Still, it was enough to bring Monday's school day to an early end, and cancelation of school on Tuesday. And Cyprus loved getting out and frolicking in it.

With such cold temperatures and a feeling of being snowed in, a good soup was called for. It sure is hard to beat the Indiana corn chowder that my sister introduced me to years ago. Bulked up with rotisserie chicken, this perfect dinner helped me feel warm and cozy inside the warm and cozy Roediger House.

"Indiana Corn and Potato Chowder," by Brannon Soileau of Maize, An American Grill (formerly of Lafayette, IN). In Indiana Cooks!, by Christine Barbour and Scott Feickert with photographs by Tom Stio. Bloomington, IN: Quarry Books (2005), p. 64-65. Recipe originally shared with me by my sister Allison on December 31, 2006. You can find this, and quite a few other Indiana recipes, if you scroll to the bottom of this article: "Indiana Can Cook."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Meal No. 1210: New Orleans Pork Grillades

Here's another new recipe I tried out for this evening's meal for three: New Orleans Pork Grillades. It was pretty good and might be repeated again sometime, but I wouldn't label it remarkable. I couldn't help but reach for this, given that it's almost Mardi Gras and it just put me in the mood to think fondly of New Orleans.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Meal No. 1209: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

A week ago as I drove from Winston-Salem to Virginia Beach (on a stretch of I-85 with a speed limit of 70 mph):

That was then. This is now. Did anyone notice how blustery cold it has turned as this Arctic blast has barreled in to remind us winter's got some life left in it? This is not your "it was over 70 degrees!" kind of February weekend.

So tonight, soup was called for, and I reached for a favorite that I could make without getting blasted away having to run to the grocery store in the power-outtage-causing gusts of the late afternoon. This is one of the easy and satisfying favorites among Roediger House meals in the soup category: ultimate cream of tomato soup, along with grilled cheese panini sandwiches.

"Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup," from Cook's Illustrated, November 1999. Recipe can also be found online at