Bento a la Carnivore

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The problem with my kitchen is that, in the 80s, the owners of the house bought top of the line, fashionable, electric, black and stainless steel appliances to compliment their quality but dark, real wood, kitchen cabinets.  Over 30 years later, the appliances are old, and I’ve never liked electric, black or stainless steel appliances.

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In addition, the butcher block island top looks like a real old and aggressively used, third world country, butcher’s block.  Trying to get the top replaced, plus fitting the new white, gas stove into the old space for the electric oven, plus replacing the leaking dishwasher has been a nightmare.  Apparently, removal and installation are two separate areas of expertise and we had to schedule a remover before we could schedule installations.  I almost lost the will to live.

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The good news is that after a brief tryst with vegetarianism, Jade has rejoined the fold. While not discouraging her foray into non-meatitude, we continued to cook and eat all manner of beasts that smelled and looked delicious, causing understandable salivation and dissatisfaction with her healthy but meat-less meals.   A little propaganda, and voila!

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Where is Jamie Oliver when you need him!?  Jade’s high school cafeteria could use a visit. I have started to prepare bento boxes for her lunch at her request and because I like preparing bento boxes :)

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Today’s lunch was packed with furikake sprinkled inarizushi with tuna, Major Grey chutney glazed lamb meatballs, steamed and buttered acorn squash with chunks of orangesicle fudge for dessert (bottom layer, top photo), steamed ginger chicken, cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette, star and heart shaped boiled egg halves (top layer, photo just above).

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With our household effects somewhere between Stuttgart and Honesdale, I bought a few bento supplies on amazon.com.  I found a non-traditional, stainless steal, tight sealing , neon green box that I thought Jade would like.  I have to find a matching fork, knife and spoon case for her.

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Inarizushi are sweet, seasoned and fried bean curd pockets that you can buy prepared in a can.  You just drain them, then pry open the pockets for stuffing.  Easy.

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Make some sushi rice, seasoning it with mirin, rice vinegar and sugar.  Use Hon-mirin if you can find it instead of Aji-mirin.  Also, be sure to read the outside of the rice vinegar bottle because I found some rice vinegar that was made with wheat.  Holy Mother of God! What happened to the honesty?

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When I was making the tuna for stuffing into the pockets with rice, I was a little concerned about the tuna, but Bumblebee Solid White Albacore in water is a nice tuna, although I do still miss my Petit Navire from France :)

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Jade loves these!  We all do, even me.  This doesn’t count as rice :)

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The steamed chicken thighs are simple to make.  Bone or buy boned 5-6 chicken thighs, skin on, place inside a bowl and then inside of a steamer basket, then sprinkle with slivers of garlic and ginger and slices of scallion.

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Pour over some soy sauce and mirin, then steam.  My steamer baskets are not here yet, so I used a metal colander.  A little tricky but it worked.

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Skin removed and thinly sliced, this chicken reminds me of something similar I had in The People’s Republic, back in the day.  Good over Thai rice noodles.

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Really happy to have access to acorn squash again.  I could never find these in France. Simply baked or steamed, these are delicious.  Stuffed is good too :)

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The lamb meatballs (lead photo) were made in a “can’t be bothered” fashion.  Good though.  The recipe included here is what I can remember.

Major Grey Chutney Glazed Lamb Meatballs

1 lb ground lamb

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup Major Grey’s Mango Chutney with Ginger

1-2 tbsp water

Mix together the lamb, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, bread crumbs and egg.  Form into normal size meatballs, then bake in a 350 F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Melt the chutney over a low flame with the water, then pour over the cooked meatballs, gently stirring to glaze.

Tuna and Sushi Rice Stuffed Inarizushi

1 large can tuna, drained

2-3 tbsp chopped onion

2-3 heaping tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper

1 can inarizushi, drained and pockets pried open

3 cups hot sushi rice

Assorted furikake sprinkles

Mix the tuna, onion, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper together and set aside.  Stuff the pockets with a layer of rice, a layer of tuna and then a final layer of rice.  Sprinkle with furikake.

Steamed Ginger Chicken

5-6 chicken thighs boned, skin on

1 inch fresh ginger, slivered

1 large scallion, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, slivered

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

Put the chicken thighs in a heat proof shallow bowl.  Top with the ginger, garlic and spring onion slices.  Mix the mirin and soy sauce together and pour over chicken.  Put the bowl inside a steamer basket and steam for 15 minutes, covered.  Baste with the soy sauce mixture and steam for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove the skin and thinly slice. Serve over rice or noodles with the sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, bento, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Grilled American Lamb on Kaiser Rolls

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I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make for our Labor Day meal.  I visited the Alpine Wurst & Meat House, vaguely thinking of beef brisket.  After talking to the butcher, I knew I didn’t want to grill the brisket for 12 hours, so decided on a lovely piece of butterflied lamb.  Yes, butterflied.  That’s what they call it here in America, you British people. Butterflied.

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It really is a shame that American lamb has very little flavor, other than grain.  I love the grassy, tangy taste of normal lamb.  The lamb here looks good, but if I had not rubbed it with Bavarian essence, it would have been tasteless. Coming from the only credible butcher in the region, this is disappointing.  Whine :(

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Some days my tzatziki is better than other days.  Today was a good day.

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On Sunday we went to a volunteer fire department clam bake about 10 miles away near Hawley, P.A.  We like to attend community fund raising events held at these small town firehouses; pancake breakfasts, chicken and beef dinners, penny socials and clam bakes.

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I’m usually fairly cautious about seafood at these open air affairs in the summer but this time I threw caution to the wind and ordered 12 of the raw clams, afraid that the steamed would be overcooked and chewy.

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The raw clams were firm and briny.  Delicious.

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As predicted, the steamed clams were overcooked and chewy.  The two “fraidy cats”, my husband and Jade, switched to the raw and ordered another serving of the delicious corn on the cob.  The corn is GM of course, all American corn is but, like cake, an occasional piece shouldn’t hurt.

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Because the towns are close, the different firehouse events are attended by almost everyone in the region.  We saw our framer there.  People are open, friendly and ready to engage.   It’s a good way to let everyone have a look at you and get used to seeing you. Comparative to attending all market days in Sens and/or lolling at Le Litteraire over coffee.

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It’s always good in the beginning to eat the trashiest food on offer, then you’re completely over it and need never eat it again.  Unless you’re a starving to death vegetarian and all food, save meat, is delicious and elegant :D

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I really thought she wouldn’t be able to resist the lamb on kaiser rolls.  Nope.

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She just sat there mechanically working her way through the macaroni and green salads. Rather sadly, I thought.

Bavarian Grilled Lamb on Kaiser Rolls

1 leg of lamb, butterflied

Bavarian essence

Tzatziki

Lettuce

Tomatoes

Kaiser rolls

Stab the lamb all over with a knife, then rub in the Bavarian essence.  Refrigerate overnight.

Turn on all the burners of a gas grill and preheat with top down to 500-600 F.  Sear the meat on both sides, turn off half the burners, put the lamb on the side without flame, put the top down and roast for about 15-20 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the grill and allow it to rest for 10 minutes, then slice and layer onto kaiser rolls with tzatziki, lettuce and tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Sandwich | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Babies

 

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After having experienced some of the cuisine in Germany,  I have come to the conclusion that much of our  “American” cuisine has roots in Germany;  potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers and meat loaf.  The average German deli offers a wide range of meat loaves with variations in spices, herbs and meats.

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Today I made a meat loaf with ground baby beef (veal) and baby sheep (lamb).  My husband loves this!

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How can one tell if the beef and sheep were truly babies when slaughtered?  Well, the meat is a pale, delicate pink, sort of like English and Irish babies.  Although, of course, I would never eat a human baby!  Maybe my ancestors did but that was on another continent, during a different time, and it wasn’t my fault :)

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Interlude.  Our airfreight arrived on Friday and contained our espresso machine.  My husband made coffee and I found an old, unwrapped, crushed biscuit in the bottom of my purse from Le Litteraire in Sens.  It was almost like being there!

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I found this poster at a second hand store for $38.  After looking at reproductions of it on the net, I noticed that it wasn’t exactly the same; Depots Partout was missing from the reproductions.  Researching further, I discovered that this was a poster by Leonetto Cappiello, considered the father of modern advertising because of his innovations in poster design.  My poster seems to be worth from $300 to $12,000 dollars.  I love not knowing :)

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Staring dreamily at the poster, I consumed a breakfast of toast, egg, tomato, cheddar, bacon and grapefruit juice.

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Meat loaf.  Meat loaf is one of the easiest meals I make.  You can make it with just about any combination of ground meat, add bread crumbs, eggs, herbs and some liquid to keep it moist.

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Normally, if I was using a tomato base for my liquid, I’d make a quick homemade sauce with onion, garlic, diced tomato, oregano and basil, but I decided to use the canned tomatoes I bought at Wegmans that already had the herbs added.  Never again will I buy these tomatoes!  They were sweet.  Bleah.

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I hate this butcher block top that’s on my island.  It looks like it was used for butchering cats or something.  Bandit, the curious cat, never jumps up on the island.  Clue.  My new top should be coming in a week.  I added a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to the diced tomatoes.

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Baby potatoes.  I adore cute food!

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I still haven’t found normal size garlic; the cloves are small and wimpy, except for something they call “elephant garlic” whose cloves are larger than baby potatoes.

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Colorful food is pleasing!  It makes me smile.

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I prepared a batch of baby potatoes with baby red bell peppers for roasting, thinking about Jade the vegetarian.  She who must not eat meat.

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I’d be willing to wager that if I found a French magret de canard in this ex-British colony gone rogue, she’d de-convert in a flash :D  In the meantime, it doesn’t help that I like and make good vegetables.  Still, she’s starting to have the Cassius look at meal times.

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She’s salad with baby, plum colored tomatoes and cucumbers.

Veal and Lamb Meat Loaf

1 lb ground veal

1lb ground lamb

2 eggs

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 cans diced tomatoes with aromatics (not Wegmans) with 1 tbsp olive oil added

Mix the veal, lamb, eggs, crumbs, salt and pepper together.  Add 1 cup of the diced tomato mixture and mix well to blend.  Form into a loaf and place in a lightly oiled roasting pan.

Roast the loaf in a 350 F oven for 1 hour.  Pour half of the remaining diced tomatoes over the loaf and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

Allow the loaf to cool for 5-10 minutes, then slice and serve with the remaining tomato sauce.

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, German, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Buddha

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Jade left the school in Massachusetts wanting to get into the Zen of meditation, green tea, vegetarianism and Buddha (Buddhism).

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The food in the school cantine must have been shocking.  Well whatever.  I cook vegetables anyway and we don’t all have to be vegetarian  :)

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A vegetable stir fry is an excellent way of emptying the refrigerator of an overabundance of very expensive organic vegetables, bought joylessly in a Wegmans and Callicoon, NY farmers market spending frenzy.

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Naturally, I thought of adding chicken broth to the sauce for the vegetables but that might have retarded Jade’s growth towards nirvana or something.  I did add black sesame seeds for protein.

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Jade, I think unfairly, accused her father of unnecessary, loud chicken crunching and juice dribbling, in order to sway her from the path of righteousness.  I wonder how long she will last :D

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Vegetarian Stir Fry

4 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp chili garlic sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp sherry

2 tbsp peanut oil

1/4 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, slivered

1/2 inch fresh ginger, thinly sliced

2 each, red, yellow and orange, mini bell peppers, sliced

6 mini white turnips, halved and sliced

3 baby bok choy, stems separated from leaves (stems sliced, leaves torn into pieces)

1 summer squash, halved and sliced

Black sesame seeds

Stir the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic sauce, vinegar, honey and sherry together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the onion, garlic, ginger and peppers.  Stir fry until the onion is just wilted.  Add the turnips and bok choy stems, then continue to stir fry until the turnips are crisp tender.  Add the summer squash and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the bok choy leaves.

Pour in the sauce mixture, then stir until the bok choy leaves are just wilted.  To serve, sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Baby Beef

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My husband loves the old fashioned American diners that you can still find on the East coast.  Nothing like the hamburger joint in Pulp Fiction, way too upscale, but he likes the ones with meat loaf, roast beef specials and enormous breakfasts that include pancakes with eggs, bacon, home fries, buttered (margarine) toast and jam.  He’s not obese and no more than middle age overweight, but it’s a good thing he got that new valve.

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Anyway.  Our house is a mess.  Our things from Germany haven’t arrived yet but we already had a house full of thousands of pounds of boxed household effects that have been stored for decades.  In those boxes, somewhere, is a ridiculous amount of cooking pots, pans, cooking utensils (mine and my mother-in-law’s), etc.  This, plus the stuff coming from Germany, is more than anyone would need in a lifetime, so I must unpack the boxes in order to cook anything worth while instead of going out and buying more things.  I’ve been unpacking unenthusiastically and slowly.

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We’ve had breakfast in a diner at least 5 times since I arrived on August 5th and on August 17th, my husband’s birthday, he wanted another early morning blow out.  There are several diner-like places in the small town of  Honesdale, Pennsylvania where you can get breakfast and my husband has tried them all.  On the outside of one of his favorites, and the one he chose for his birthday breakfast feast, is a sign that says “Baby beef liver.”  I was curious.

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We ordered our meals and I asked the very friendly, very efficient waitress if the sign was a cute way of saying veal.  No, she said and explained to us very carefully and patiently that, like the pork cuts of ham and bacon, beef also has a cut called veal and that it is located somewhere near the shank of the cow.  Baby beef, she said a bit sadly, comes from cow babies.

I nodded, kept my head down and refused to look at my husband because even though he looks like a really nice, sweet, leprechaun kind of a guy, he’s bad to the bone and would have made me laugh out loud, embarrassing the nice lady and probably getting me barred from the diner for life.

There are two things that are puzzling if not appalling about this:  1)  Honesdale is a farming community and livestock is common.  2)  What in the world does the Wayne County education system require for a child to graduate from high school?!  We discussed this for hours, giggling over several glasses of Prosecco in the privacy of our own home, while wondering if we should home school Jade.

I haven’t figured out the light in the kitchen yet and my tripod doesn’t arrive until Tuesday but I really wanted to start posting from Honesdale.  The light situation could be caused by the glare from the enormous stainless steel refrigerator.  I’ll try covering it with a sheet. The out of focus pictures are caused by the trembling hands of the aged.  Tripod.

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The Farmer’s Market here in Honesdale is somewhat of a disappointment.  It’s like they moved those roadside vegetable and fruit stands to a parking lot.  Not a big selection but I did find those beets and some lovely wax beans.  I made a salad with the beans.  The plate is hand painted from Austria and was the first set of dishes I owned before my marriage 38  years ago.

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The butcher didn’t have baby beef flanken ribs but did have some from mature adults.  I rubbed the ribs with my Bavarian Essence, refrigerated them for about 6 hours and then grilled.  The salad was a mixture of steamed wax beans, drained and rinsed canned pinto beans, sliced scallion, roasted red pepper, sugar, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

 

 

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

I’m Back! Sort of…

 

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Beets.  In Pennsylvania.  New computer arrived today.  Still awaiting tripod and the airfreight that it’s in.  Can’t wait to get some time to see your posts and to respond to your comments.  I’ve got this great post coming up called “Baby Beef”.  You definitely have to hear this story :D

Posted in American, Food and Wine | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

The Camera Battery Situation

IMG_6611bOkay, long story short, I packed my battery charger in the airfreight.  When I took these pictures I had one black, blinking block showing on the camera.  Lord have mercy!  It’s not fun to take pictures when you’re stressing over the possibility of camera blackout.  Anyway.

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Finding it impossible to stop shopping, even though I’m leaving on Tuesday, I bought four pretty red mullets from Steve at the fishmonger.  I told him I wanted to stuff them but wanted him to cut them up the belly, instead along the back, his preferred cut for stuffing. Really, the French can be so stubborn!  With people queuing in a long line behind, we had this snarling argument about the “correct” method of cutting fish for stuffing.  Of course he did it like I asked but couldn’t stop mumbling under his breath, probably making snide, anti-American comments the whole time he was preparing the fish.  It didn’t help that I made snide comments aloud at the same time :p

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In addition, I bought some enormous, yellow chicken legs for baking using the sel fou and pepper overnight marinade, then flour coating and baked in butter method.

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Just think about it.  You can have crispy, succulent chicken without the deep fat frying as long as you use butter in the baking pan.  It’s frugal, Frugal and the just plain good!

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I was supposed to make a cauliflower/yam gratin but ran out of steam between selling the car, controlling the dog and drinking wine.  Anyway, the fish entree was pretty filling, so I just steamed some yams and left it at that. No one complained.

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Okay, seriously this time, I’ll see you in Pennsylvania.

Red Mullet Stuffed with Aubergine (Inspiration French Saveurs Magazine: July-August 2014)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 aubergine, cut into small dice

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

4 largish red mullet, gutted and boned

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

Cook the garlic in the olive oil for 1 minute, add the aubergine and continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from the flame, stir in the basil and allow to cool.

Stuff the mullet with the cooled aubergine mixture, tie with kitchen string, season with salt and pepper, then brown in the hot olive oil for about 4 minutes per side.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, fish, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 31 Comments