Friday, May 20, 2022

Meal No. 3096: Glorious Beef and Mushroom Stirfry

I might have been in a bit of a giddy mood in early May, when I spotted a nice special on beef tenderloins, and went ahead and took advantage of it even though the freezer is currently too well stocked. When I broke open the package to trim and portion it and prep it for the Food Saver vacuum bags to store away, I made sure to save out plenty of fresh morsels to then toss into marinade and stirfry in the wok for steaming bowls of glorious beef and mushrooms, along with onion and asparagus and some additional wok sauce I made. Man, oh, man: for a basic Tuesday meal just over a week ago, it was high caliber.

"Glorious Beef with Mushrooms," in Wok Fast by Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison. Ten Speed Press, 2002, p. 87 (recipe) and p. 26-27 (marinade and sauce).

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Meal No. 3095: Roasted Salmon over Caesar-Topped Greens

Back on May 9th, with organic power greens chilling in the fridge from a great BOGO special, a salad supper was called for. The house favorite of homemade creamy Caesar dressing, with an extra punch of fresh smashed garlic paste, was prepped in the afternoon and then I went out on a quest for fresh salmon fillets. I overbought in hopes of turning the leftovers into salmon croquettes a couple of days later. I was starving a bit before the salmon was done roasting and picked away about half of my salad greens, so you can see it looks a bit diminished in this picture:

Based on "Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Meal No. 3094: Thick-Cut Boneless Pork Chops

It's taken a while to get back to the freezer overstock drawing jar, but that's what drove the dinner menu on Mother's Day at the Roediger House. Into the sous vide immersion circulator went prepped blackened vacuum-sealed frozen chops to gently simmer at 140°F for just over two hours. In the meantime, I prepped a mix of baby creamer potatoes with spices and olive oil for roasting, plus a batch of amazing Brussels sprouts. It was all too much but we know I'm weak.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Gingered Pear Brioche Cobbler

A spectacular dessert treat was brought out of the archives (last made in 2017) Saturday before last: gingered pear brioche cobbler. It was inspired by a version of peach cobbler I encountered working down in the southern central Piedmont, when on occasion our meals would be locally catered. It borrows from bread pudding and derives its compelling deliciousness from ample amounts of butter and sugar, of course. I was pretty pleased with how it came out!

Adapted from "Brioche Stone Fruit Cobbler," a recipe I worked out as an adaptation of "Stone Fruit Cobbler," by Ann of the defunct [Published 08 August 2008]

Monday, May 16, 2022

Meal No. 3093: Simple Beef Chili with Beans

It had been about three weeks since I last made beef chili but the rainy stormy skies and cooler temps Saturday a week ago had me of a mind to bring it back for supper. Mid-day prep and early afternoon cooking brought it all together for a supper for three of us, complete with cheese for all and sour cream for some.

"Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans," from Cook's Illustrated, Number Sixty-One [March-April 2003], p. 10-11.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Meal No. 3092: Cheeseburger Pizza

Hunger struck at lunchtime on the first Friday of May, and I rose to the challenge by making a quick somewhat thin crust for a maiden voyage of Cheeseburger pizza, using the leftover grilled burger from a couple of meals before.

I'd been hankering to try some pizza variety and this one was a solid choice.

But the other thing I've been jonesing for a bit is another trial run for Pizza Inn-style chocolate dessert pizza, which Pizza Inn called "Pizzert." I made a fresh pizza crust, trying to achieve an even thinner version with a slight bit of honey-infused sweetness. Everything else was a short-cut, though: both chocolate and white chocolate instant puddings were the top topping above the parbaked crust with the parbaked butter-soaked cake batter.

It wasn't stupendous and not sufficiently reminiscent of the long-time local favorite when I was growing up. But I'm glad I notched another attempt.

Based on "Cheeseburger Pizza," by Shawn Syphus of

"Pizzert Dessert Pizza," an in-process adaptation from 2 Crochet Hooks (Millie & Kristina of Raleigh/Durham, NC).

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Meal No. 3091: Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Topping

After seeing it as a much-loved treat on dear friend Amy's Cooking the Books blog, I decided I'd better follow her lead and try out that recipe for carrot cake pancakes with a cream cheese topping. And it did not disappoint: as a nice variation on a normal pancake theme, these were hearty and nicely-spiced and the sweet topping pulled it all together. My plate shows only three but I indulged deeply in four of those rascals.

"Carrot Cake Pancakes," from Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen blog. [Published 19 March 2012]

Friday, May 13, 2022

Meal No. 3090: Juicy Burgers on the Grill

It's not unusual for me to have one idea when I'm grocery shopping, which I then have to convert into some other idea once the reality of daily pursuits brings me to a supper-preparation moment. That's why I defaulted back on May 4th to burgers on the grill for dinner instead of some other more sensational use for a pound of ground beef. But it was a lovely breezy warm spring late afternoon, and I'd put in some good yard time (mostly on weeding), and the meal was well-suited to the evening.

Adapted from "Juicy Burgers," originally from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks recipe magazine, July 2003, p. 52-53. Pillsbury was purchased in 2001 by General Mills, home of Betty Crocker (founded in 1921, mind you!), after which it basically ceased to exist as a company and lives on just as a brand. Perhaps that explains why a Pillsbury cookbook recipe from 2003 is now only found on the Betty Crocker website.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

French Apple Cake

With an oversupply of apples after a few lucky grocery trips where they were on a good sale, I noticed a couple that needed to be eaten or used soon...which led me to pull out a recently-found recipe for French apple cake. Moistly dense and easy to consume quickly, enhanced with scoops of more of the recent batch of butterscotch ice cream, this was a lighter treat on the first Monday of May when I'd spent my day working down in Montgomery County, NC. Perhaps the dark rum flavor was a bit too strong, but overall, I was glad to have tried it out.

"French Apple Cake," from Jenn Segal of the Once Upon a Chef blog.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Chocolate Éclair Cake

Although there are fancier versions one can make, I keep coming back to this very basic and rather easy approach for preparing a chocolate eclair cake, which most recently occurred in connection with the sweet pork sheet pan nachos birthday celebration dinner on the final night of April. It came out particularly well-layered and easier to serve...given that on occasion it can be just a tad soupy. From time to time I like to note that I was first introduced to this delectable dessert probably in 1988, if not 1989, by Anita Jordan. She brought it to the office when I was working in Winston-Salem at my first job out of college, down on Reynolds Park Road.

"Chocolate Éclair Cake," a common and popular recipe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Meal No. 3089: Sheet Pan Sweet Pork Nachos

A gathering of the Roediger House regulars took place Saturday a week ago, as part of a birthday celebration, and the menu was all command performance. Top of the list: Cafe Rio sweet pork to go on loaded sheet pan nachos, and they were especially scrumptious this time around. Perhaps the extras of Mexican white cheese dip and some fresh garlicky lime crema were partially to blame.

I did make a fresh batch of Mexican restaurant white dipping sauce for the crew to amuse themselves with before supper, although I snapped no pictures of it this time. I did snag this photo of Sumner up under the kitchen table, happy to be surrounded by so many people he loves...and who love him.

"Mexican Restaurant White Dipping Sauce," a recipe worked out by me, sampled by Spring Street, and approved of by all.

Shredded Pork based on "Cafe Rio Sweet Pork," from Holly of Life in the Lofthouse. [Published 30 October 2014] See also "Sweet Pork Nachos," from Holly as well. [Published 01 August 2017]

Sheet Pan Nachos based on "Loaded Sweet Pork Sheet Pan Nachos," from Elyse of Six Sisters Stuff. [Published 14 March 2018]

"The Best Mexican White Cheese Dip," from

"Easy Lime Crema," from Lisa Bryan of [Published 22 April 2020]

Monday, May 9, 2022

Meal No. 3088: Liège Waffles

Back in early November, I came across a recipe for liège waffles, a yeasted brioche-style version of the more common Belgian waffles, that has the added feature of pearl sugar to make them extra interesting. With a pantry-refreshing order from King Arthur Baking in preparation for the December holidays, I splurged on their pearl sugar offering to help me get one step closer to trying this out, which finally occurred on the final Friday night of April. A compelling variation but only to a certain degree: while I'm glad I tried them out and I did manage to overeat from what was on my plate, I doubt these will be preferred to my traditional Belgian waffles (made with club soda!) or the buttermilk version from Serious Eats.

"Liège Waffles," from Nicole Rufus of [Published 10 November 2021]

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Butterscotch Ice Cream

After making that stupendous vanilla birthday cake in late April, I had a collection of egg yolks reserved for a batch of ice cream. That next week I reached for a recipe that I don't think I'd made before, for butterscotch ice cream, and brought it out for a sweet evening treat on the final Thursday night of April. I'm a little too fond of ice cream and, while I'd love to get just a nudge more punch of butterscotch flavor, this was still an un-boozy frozen dairy triumph.

"Butterscotch Ice Cream," from Deb Perelman of [Published 14 March 2008]

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Meal No. 3087: Roasted Salmon & Broccoli

After a six-month boycott of my long-time Harris Teeter on Cloverdale, and a number of conversations with corporate management about the decline there since a new manager was installed, I agreed Thursday a week ago to return to the store to see if their intervention efforts were bearing observable fruit. While I was glad to see some of the long-time associates, it was not an inspiring or encouraging shopping trip. I came home with the only piece of salmon that looked viable, wrapped up by the same gruff and off-putting Fisherman's Market staffer who was the reason I abandoned the store in November. The salmon was spiced up and roasted, along with broccoli florets, so that at least that night I could indulge in a favorite meal that has been somewhat missing from the dinner scene lately.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Meal No. 3086: Crockpot Chicken Tinga Tacos

Back on April 26th, I embarked on a little adventure, taking me down two new recipe paths: chicken tinga soft tacos and homemade corn tortillas. Diced red onion and tomato were the standard additions, of course, but I also rather enjoyed the avocado jalapeño crema plus a fresh batch of my own Mexican restaurant white dipping sauce. I did find the chicken portion to be adequate but not sensational, making the added components the avenue to supper salvation.

My novel experiments with various breads and bread-like creations continues: with authentic masa harina corn flour, water, and a bit of salt, plus a brand-new tortilla press, I made tortillas to go with it. I didn't achieve the customary brown-spotting but the results were still pretty darned good.

Based on "Crockpot Crispy Chicken Tinga Tacos with Avocado Jalapeño Crema," from Tieghan Gerard of the Half-Baked Harvest blog. [Published 01 March 2022]

"Homemade Corn Tortillas," from Jenn Segal of [Published 24 June 2020]

"Mexican Restaurant White Dipping Sauce," a recipe worked out by me, sampled by Spring Street, and approved of by all.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Meal No. 3085: Piri-Piri Chicken Salad Sandwiches

A spice adventure overtook me Monday a week ago, when I peeled the tamper-shield off a saved jar of piri-piri spice to try for the first time: on bone-in chicken thighs that I was tossing into the sous vide immersion circulator, to then turn into a big batch of chicken salad for sandwiches that evening. Red onion, diced cosmic crisp apple, and walnut pieces were the bonus additions and it was delicious and filling...and a little mouth-searing when you got hold of certain morsels.

Loosely based on "Chicken Salad Melt," a Roediger House original recipe.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Meal No. 3084: Crispy Skillet Chicken Thighs

Friday night a week ago was an inexplicably short sleep and I confess to an extended Saturday mid-day nap...and that threw a wrench into my initial dinner plans. So I went with a back-up: crispy skillet chicken thighs, with a good skin-cookin' sear in the cast iron Lodge before finishing them in the oven at 425°F.

That Saturday dinner was helped along mightily by the generous gift of fresh vegetables from the long-time neighbors across the street, including yellow summer squash and green beans. I diced onion and approximated a near-caramelized stage with them before adding in the sliced squash, and it was particularly excellent.

Prior to that indulgent nap, though, as Sumner and I started our day with some driveway time, we were primely positioned to witness two robin chicks getting booted from the nest up in the corner of the porch. Although his curiosity got the better of him initially, Sumner was mindful of my commands to back off and leave 'em alone. The parent robins were as much fun to watch as the little ones.

"Crispy Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs," from Amy Nash of [Published 12 January 2018 / Modified 13 April 2022]

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Meal No. 3083: Not So Cajun Chicken

As has been the case many times at the Roediger House, an occasion for celebration or a call for a special meal is met in the moment by the much-loved not so cajun chicken, this time served over basmati rice. It was a delicious dinner treat Friday night a week ago, and it marked the first time I'd made it since the previous year's April 22nd celebration occasion!

"Not So Cajun Chicken," a dish I regularly enjoyed at Crowley's Old Time Favorites restaurant and bar on Medlin Drive in Raleigh, NC.  (Another version of the recipe can be found here.) A heap of thanks is due to Jimmy Randolph for tracking down the recipe for me.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Vanilla Birthday Cake with Old-Fashioned Buttercream Icing

The terrific new neighbors across the street are a mother and son, and the son's 18th birthday back on April 21st was a fine reason to make a layer cake as a sign of celebration. It's a gesture not without a notable measure of selfish indulgence, though, as shown in the photo above. This was a tender and moist—and over-frosted— vanilla birthday cake that was awesomely complimented by scoops from the recently-made sweet vanilla ice milk.

"Vanilla Birthday Cake with Old-Fashioned Vanilla Buttercream," by Jenn Segal of

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Meal No 3082: Bacon-Cheddar Sandwiches

Ah, 'tis the first of May, in this marvelous season of spring in the Old North State. Life in the Roediger House proceeds swimmingly, with lots of time outside in the bright sunshine and the welcome warmth of these post-winter days. Ah, but we must look back to April today, thanks to an oversupply of blog posts and being rather ahead of schedule with entries to upload. This post recounts the mid-day meal from Thursday a week ago, when hunger overtook me early and I pulled my cooked bacon from the fridge to make bacon-cheese sandwiches on brioche buns...along with a couple of fried eggs for good measure. Part of the incentive to eat well ahead of suppertime was because of a ridiculouss dessert I'd made that morning, plus a planned double-feature trek to a/perture cinema that night. While I do love the work I do, I confess to appreciating how an early wrap of the schedule this spring is proving rewarding and relaxing.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Meal No. 3081: Roasted Salmon over Caesar Salad

In between rounds of those sinful cinnamon roll doughnuts a little more than a week ago, I felt compelled to make that Wednesday meal a healthy one: roasted salmon on a Caesar-dressed salad seemed called for. That let me use the last of the creamy Caesar dressing I'd made not too long ago, and also allowed me to indulge the salmon I so enjoy.

It was a fantastic spring day that Wednesday, with the gladiolus byzantinus bringing out their initial blooms, and lots of bright sunshine even if it stayed in the low 60s. I brought out my mountain bike, cleaned it up a bit, pumped up the tires, and did my first ride of the season to break it—and me—in, limiting myself to a kind 7.1 miles.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Glazed Cinnamon Roll Doughnuts

This year Tax Day was Monday April 18th, a cold and dreary and depressingly rainy day. Or: perfect for the long hours at the kitchen table, working through all the forms and documentation and instructions and calculations. Once it is all done and dropped off at the post office, my thoughts turn to how best to reward those labors, which is often with some wonderful baking endeavor in mind. The next day, Tuesday, I got busy with a new recipe: fried glazed cinnamon roll doughnuts.

The dough rose wonderfully.

Just like regular cinnamon rolls, you spread the cinnamon-brown sugar filling onto the dough and roll it up and cut the rounds for rolls.

They also rose up well.

The fallacy in the recipe or the foolishness in my approach resides in this simple dilemma: how in the world would a cinnamon-sugar filling stand up to deep frying? So the first rolls unraveled and shed their sweet internal goodness into the frying oil.

The later ones held up better when I tried to pinch all the dough a bit tighter. The simple vanilla glaze was quite good. These rascals were something!

My experience with doughnuts is limited, at least from the standpoint of making them. I tried Krispy Kreme copycats back in 2014, and I made Cro-Nuts in 2020. I've also tried my hand twice at beignets, once back before building the new kitchen and again in 2013.

Wait: there's more! I made a base for vanilla ice milk and churned it the next morning so that it would set up by that Wednesday evening... which time I heated up a skillet, put some pats of butter in it, sliced a couple of the remaining cinnamon roll doughnuts, and griddled them to a chewy toasted gloriousness, so that I could add more of the glaze and then top them with scoops of that creamy vanilla ice milk. This let me approximate the "grillswith" dessert popular at the University Diner, the White Spot, and the former Sloan's in Charlottesville, where I lived in the late 1990s. (A fuller related blog post can be found here.) Oh. My. Gosh. A. Maze. Zing.

Based on "Dunkin Style Cinnamon Rolls," from Nazeeha Khan of My Secret Bakes.

"Simplest Vanilla Glaze," by Mark and Michael Klebeck with Jess Thomson. In Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker. San Francisco: Chronicle Books (2011), p. 132.

"Classic Vanilla Ice Milk," by Stella Parks, Pastry Wizard of [Published 22 August 20128 / Updated 15 April 2020]

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Hot Cross Buns

Easter Sunday morning, I did a thing: hot cross buns for the first time.

It's one of those things I've wanted to try. They were pretty doughy but still tasted pretty good, especially with the Moravian Love Feast-style sweet milked coffee I made to go with 'em.

"Hot Cross Buns," from Nagi Maehashi of [Published 08 April 2020; Updated 08 April 2021]

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Meal No. 3080: Barbecue Chicken Pizza

After a tiny spell of morning showers moved out on Saturday a week ago, it turned into another lovely spring day, and I was of a mind to grill...while also jonesing for some deep dish pizza. Those two compulsions combined perfectly into a barbecue chicken pizza that night, based on the pan pizza dough recipe from the marvelous J. Kenji López-Alt. I had spiced, and left to sit overnight in that dry rub, some bone-in chicken thighs, which I grilled that afternoon.

I'd already made the mostly-no-knead dough the night before, and it rose and puffed up beautifully. Mid-afternoon, I gave it a bit more nudging with some light kneading before leaving it alone in a cast iron skillet and a 9-inch cake pan for a final rise and rest.

With a base of homemade barbecue sauce, the diced grilled chicken, red onion, fresh-fried bacon, and two kinds of was a stupendous supper on a Saturday.

The portion of dough tossed into the 9-inch cake pan was not ready that night, so I let it rest and rise another 24 hours. Easter Sunday night was a glorious repeat of Saturday, with an even crisper tastier crust.

Most of Easter Sunday was warm and sunny and breezy, before clouds moved in late afternoon. The sunshine on the corner azalea in the grove highlighted my favorite color and style of that spring beauty.

Deep-Dish Pizza Dough based on "Fool-Proof Pan Pizza" [Updated 03 January 2020], by J. Kenji López-Alt, former culinary director of

"Wild Willy's Number One-derful Rub," in Smoke & Spice, by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Boston: The Harvard Common Press, 2003, p. 171.