Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Meal No. 1321: Grilled Blackened Tomahawk Pork Chops

It continues to be a season of grilling while still trying to preserve time to play pool with guests before and after dinner. I'm working, perhaps, from a limited set of options while trying to avoid suppers that have a lot of involved prep and/or long monitored cooking processes. Hence, some repetition in the dinner menus these last few weeks. Tonight's grilled blackened pork chops had one new twist: they were meant to be in the general vein of the seldom-seen tomahawk pork chops. The meat cooked up pretty perfectly and was delicious together with baked sweet potato and steamed Brussels sprouts.

Guidance for grilling these pork chops based on "Molasses-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops," adapted by Nick Kindelsperger from Bobby Flay's Grill It! Found online at SeriousEats.com.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Meal No. 1319: Grilled Pork Kebabs with Barbecue Glaze

Just had these two weeks ago, but I'm not sorry I so quickly brought them back tonight.

"Grilled Pork Kebabs with Barbecue Glaze," an online extra from Cook's Illustrated and based on "The Best Way to Grill Pork Tenderloin," Issue No. 134, May & June 2015, p. 6.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Meal No. 1317: Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Tahini Sauce and Muhammara

Various takes on lamb make regular appearances at the Roediger House, and one of the faithful and constant dishes enjoyed here is this Middle Eastern spin on lamb meatballs. Such was the Thursday evening meal last night. The spices, onion, and garlic in the ground lamb, together with the lightly-lemoned tahini yogurt sauce, sitting on warm flatbread and decorated with a Syrian sauce of diced red peppers...it's good stuff, even though it'll leave you gassy.

"Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara," from Bon Appétit, January 2010. [clipping]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Meal No. 1316: Belgian Waffle for Lunch

Every once in a while, I don't simply resign myself to cereal or leftovers or just a sandwich for lunch. Today was one of those days, and I went to the extra trouble of breaking out the Belgian waffle iron to make something rare and good for the mid-day meal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Meal No. 1315: Island Pork Tenderloin

Even though pork was served the previous night, the Tuesday evening meal was a new recipe called "Island Pork Tenderloin." The mix of spices, a touch of sweetness, and a touch of heat gave it a great exterior that also flavored the meat inside. The complementary white wine cream sauce was light but tasty. With company mashed potatoes and buttered peas, and the last of the chocolate eclair cake for dessert, it was another pretty decent meal at the Roediger House last night.

"Island Pork Tenderloin" and "White Wine Cream Sauce," from Sherry's Cafe Vita. Found online.

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Meal No. 1314: Indoor Pulled Pork Barbecue

In an almost exact duplicate of a meal gathering back in early April, Monday night was another round of indoor pulled pork barbecue together with Ina Garten's take on blue cheese coleslaw. Just to be clear: around here, "barbecue" is a noun, not a verb. And it very specifically references pulled or chopped pork with a sauce either mixed in or slathered on top.  Last night's approach for making some good ol' pork barbecue (like we folks in North Carolina are drawn to) is more "Lexington" than "Eastern" when it comes to our state's divide on barbecue.

For those who aren't aware of this BBQ divide, here's some light reading for you:

I even made the exact same dessert as I did for the April night: chocolate eclair cake. I realize banana pudding is much more common in a lot of our local barbecue joints but this was a pretty awesome alternative.

"Indoor Pulled Pork," by Bryan Roof. In Cook's Illustrated, January & February 2010 (No. 102), p. 6-7.

"Blue Cheese Coleslaw," from Ina Garten, from the Food Network website.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meal No. 1313: Chicken Tikka Masala

Last night was another good evening with good regulars at the table, and I found myself drawn to repeat a recent meal that proved to be quite good yet again tonight: weeknight chicken tikka masala.

"Chicken Tikka Masala," from Cook's Country, October/November 2014, centerfold recipe cards.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Arrival of Summer

The heatwave that we're in the middle of belies the fact that summer did not officially begin until today. It's been quite a stretch of temps in the 90s, without the relief that afternoon thundershowers are sometimes known to bring. It's yet again one of those patterns where the skies darken, and all around Winston it seems there are showers and downpours...and we get nuthin'.

So I'm in a routine of watering every morning, starting around 6:30. After all the planting I did back in May, I really need to nurture and tend to these new additions to the landscaping. I'm not worried now about the grass...which hasn't required cutting since May 25th. It looks worse for the wear on the north side of the front yard but is hanging in there on the southern side.

Downtown living provides its own entertainments, and a regular element of my morning watering is to be panhandled. Spring Street is a popular thoroughfare for homeless folks, down-on-their-luck folks, halfway house dwellers, street people, addicts, methadone clinic patrons, day laborers, and so on. I posted about this recently on Instagram:

The panhandling always involves an extensive story from very polite folks who could use some help, although every once in a while, the asker gets a bit accusatory and pissy. Those are the ones I just tell to move on. I stopped watering one recent morning to go inside and fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for one fellow, and another did a quick face wash with the hose. Then I go back to watering.

My signs of summer include the evening song of cicadas (which I first noticed last night) and the first sighting of a goldfinch (from June 14th):

The week leading up to the summer solstice brought about a burst of blooming from most of the remaining quarters of the yard: the daylilies along the front, at the back door, and on the north side of the house:

Strutter's Ball Daylily: 1st to bloom

Calypso Daylily

Coral Sea Daylily

Original daylilies, already here when I bought the house

The dwarf crepe myrtles have busted out in color:

Berry Dazzle

Sweetheart Dazzle

The little side garden between the front porch and the back door is doing reasonably well, although the liatris is not looking healthy or strong this year:

The bee balm my sister gave me is strong and good, though:

The mini penny hydrangea is pretty in pink:

The Helene Rose of Sharon and the red eye althea began blooming over this last week too:

The nanho purple butterfly bush is bright in color although I've not seen a great influx of butterflies to it yet:

And on the north side of the house, I'm pleased to see that the astra blue balloon flower has really spread and branched out, especially because last year it didn't make much of an appearance...I really love this flower:

The sunshine calla lilies are looking lush and fantastic, although this pic doesn't capture it well:

The Lord Baltimore rose mallow also busted out in its beefy gorgeous blooms, but the cranberry crush has yet to join it (even though it's full of promising buds):

The vinca and petunias are doing well and the new primrose mounding perennials are making do. The basil and sage are growing quickly and the flat leaf parsley is lagging behind a bit. The two new oakleaf hydrangeas are settling in well and I've not lost my new rhododendrons or azaleas...yet.

It's proven most fortuitous that I'm mostly off the road still, because the dry spell and heatwave would surely have turned my yard labors of May completely asunder. Still, I feel like it's running the risk of being a losing battle. Time will tell.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Meal No. 1312: Burger Lover's Burgers

The Saturday night meal at the Roediger House was a different take on home-ground beef for hamburgers, but I didn't find it to be better than the usual way I go about this (a central feature and attribute of the peanut butter bacon burgers of which I'm so fond!).  So, while filling and reasonably tasty, this experiment tells me I was doing it just fine the old way and I'll be sticking to it.

With one possible modification that I might try again: mixing tiny cubes of nearly-frozen butter in with the chilled diced meat when I put them through the grinding...I'd like to check again to see if that makes a taste difference...

"Burger Lovers' Burgers," by Elizabeth Bomze in Cook's Illustrated, Number 135, July-August 2015, p. 16-17.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Meal No. 1311: Rotini Carbonara

I was uninspired tonight and yet it was still a tasty dinner.

"Pasta Carbonara," a recipe shared by Monie Lawrence of Raleigh, NC.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Meal No. 1310: Breakfast for Dinner

Every once in a while, you just gotta have breakfast for dinner. Oh, and how it pleased me!

"Creamy Grits," from Luquire Family Stone Ground Grits, milled in Greenwood, SC.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Meal No. 1309: Filipino Chicken Adobo

New friends to the Roediger House made for a warm and enjoyable dinner party tonight, and I served up one of the favorite dishes of the house: Filipino chicken adobo.

There was even some post-dinner tickling of ivories, a reminder that the piano still needs desperately to be tuned and repaired.

"Introducing Chicken Adobo," by Bryan Roof. In Cook's Illustrated, March & April 2012, p. 6-7.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Meal No: 1308: Tomato-Gorgonzola Pasta

The Roediger House is located on the northern edge of the Holly Avenue neighborhood, and the neighborhood is bounded on the south by the Business I-40 expressway. In a few years, the stretch of Business 40 closest to us will be shut down for extensive renovation and bridge replacement. This afternoon, there was a drop-in information and feedback session regarding the accompanying street study, where Winston-Salem is looking at how to handle the influx of traffic that will now be dumped onto city streets. So many of these sessions have occurred when I was on the road so I was happy to be able to make it to one.

But I didn't get home until almost 7 pm. That meant dinner for the small crew on hand needed to be quick to prepare. Tonight I went with a tomato-gorgonzola sauce over a pasta that's new to the RoHo: radiatore. We were all pretty delighted with it.

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Little (and Medium) Lemon Tarts

Mrs. Pierce on 12/24/77
It would be great if the results visible around the house made a convincing case for it, but I do love getting out into the yard to try to tackle landscaping and beautification of this small downtown lot in the heart of Winston-Salem. I find it easy to slip into reverie, deep thought, or mindless meanderings of memories.

Perhaps because I did so much yard work for her when I was a kid, I found myself thinking about my kindergarten teacher Anne Pierce (b. 01 September 1905). Mrs. Pierce lived a couple of houses up from us there on Parkwood Circle in Buies Creek. She was the most wonderful and sweetest woman and became a kindergarten teacher after she retired from public school teaching. These were in the days before we had public kindergarten in North Carolina.

For both nursery school and kindergarten, I went to a little brick building located behind the Home Ec house at Campbell University:

Yep, that's me on the right, in nursery school.

Kindergarten was in the morning, and nursery school was in the afternoon, if I remember correctly. There was a cute little red school house to the left of this building, but I remember it being mostly used for storage:

Anyway, once I hit about middle school age, I used to cut Mrs. Pierce's grass for $5.00. And pretty regularly, she'd make her specialty, which was lemon tarts. I've got a couple of versions of the recipe she passed on to me but I've never been able to make them like hers. I'm probably not sweet enough to take it to her level.

But I did invest time one afternoon a few days ago in trying out a recipe I found on the Butter Baking blog, and the result was still worthy, methinks. I've got to get a little more savvy with how to work with the homemade crust, since I let it be too thick and had to supplement with store-bought tart shells to finish using all the filling (made with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and minced fresh lemon zest).

By the way, Mrs. Pierce taught my sister Allison either in her final or her penultimate year as a public school teacher:

"Little Lemon Tarts," from Natasha of the Butter Baking blog.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Meal No. 1307: Grilled Pork Kebabs with Barbecue Glaze

It wasn't that long ago that I tried out this new take on pork skewers, and on this second appearance it has again proven itself to be a good choice.

This meal also made it easier to get in quite a few rounds of pool both before and after the small crew sat at table.

"Grilled Pork Kebabs with Barbecue Glaze," an online extra from Cook's Illustrated and based on "The Best Way to Grill Pork Tenderloin," Issue No. 134, May & June 2015, p. 6.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Meal No. 1306: Teriyaki Beef Skewers

Tonight I returned again to summer evening grilling and came out with these wonderful teriyaki steak fingers, a recipe that came to me courtesy of my sister Allison and her husband Tom in Indiana. The accompaniments included roasted sweet bell peppers stuffed with tomato-basil feta, and a pine nut and garlic pearl couscous. The plates were pretty clean once the supper was over.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Meal No. 1305: Grilled Blackened Pork Chops

OK: so apparently I've been all-too-fond of grilling pork chops so far this summer. But it's been easy and it's been so very good. Once again, I simply seasoned them with blackening spice for a really nice flavor. With baked potatoes and sugar snap peas, it was a filling supper with a pretty easy cleanup.

Guidance for grilling these pork chops based on "Molasses-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops," adapted by Nick Kindelsperger from Bobby Flay's Grill It! Found online at SeriousEats.com.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Meal No. 1304: Crispy Chicken Stir Fry

I came in from two days of teaching up in Lynchburg, which is not nearly as far as my more regular Virginia destinations. That means I was home relatively early and was able to put the time into making this evening's delicious take on Chinese take-out. It's called crispy chicken stir fry, courtesy of the kitchen machinations of Hilah Johnson and her fun, spirited, informative food and recipe blog.

If you'd like to make a pretty exact match for the standard middle-of-the-road chicken dish at any common Chinese restaurant, this is your ticket. It was delicious and satisfying in that way that my on-the-road discoveries of this or that hole-in-the-wall stir-fry establishment typically is.

Hilah is the source both of the delicious beef tacos on Navajo frybread and the spot-on copycat Chic-Fil-A sandwiches, so consider me a fan.

"Crispy Chicken Stir Fry," from Hilah Johnson. Found online at hilahcooking.com.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Atlantic Beach Pie

Over the weekend, in connection with a small dinner gathering of new and old friends, the dessert I put together was the North Carolina favorite, Atlantic Beach Pie. It always brings back excellent memories of growing up and trips to the beach when this was the crowning element to end many a seafood dinner.

It is a very close sibling to key lime pie but lemon is the controlling flavor. It's also a bit unusual in that the crust is typically made either from crushed saltines or crushed Ritz, rather than graham crackers. There's a nice saltiness in that that tends to go well with the sweet and tart of the filling.

"One Phenomenal Pie: Atlantic Beach Pie," from Chef Bill Smith. Published in Our State Magazine, May 2014. Also featured in "Found Recipes" on All Things Considered from National Public Radio, broadcast April 13, 2013.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Meal No. 1303: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Paninis

This fine and sunny and breezy Tuesday afternoon was occasion for a departure meal, something I'm known to do from time to time when I'm about to hit the road. I'm due to depart Winston by around 6 pm so that I can spend the next two days doing a training with teachers in Lynchburg, Virginia. I had a choice between eating something on the road or enjoying a home-cooked meal. I chose the latter.

Perhaps a strange choice for a warm summer day, though: ultimate cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese paninis. Let me assure you, though: this fellow has no regrets.

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