Thursday, December 30, 2010

Im a lazy blogger or just dang busy

Good Evevning fellow food freaks,

It's been a couple of weeks since I last had time to share.  I hope everyone is continuing to enjoy the holidays.  I recently spent some quality time with Terri creating ginger bread cookies.  Of course we couldn't just make conventional ones we chose to make ABC cookies.  I have to give Terri full credit for the choice of cutters.

I had never made ginger bread before and being the purist that I am I decided to make them from scratch. 

We went on a pilgrimage to Winn-Dixie for supplies and immediately we were thrown by the choices of molasses.  Heck if we knew which to get so...black strap it was.  Note black strap is VERY strong in flavor and lends an almost licorice flavor to the finished product.  Next time I'll get regular to tone it down a bit.  It almost overpowers the ginger flavor.

Another thing we didn't realize is afteer you make your dough it has to sit in the fridge over night!  Oh, and I don't recommend using a small hand mixer.  Smoke gets in your eyyyeeesssss!  I will either haul my Kitchenaid toTerri's or make them at my place. 

The recipe we chose was on the cookie cutter box and yes Terri I know you gave me a copy but in true form and style I misplaced it. Next day we break out the dough.  It looked like S*&t, literally!  took the mass and tossed it onto the floured counter top and rolled it out to 1/4 in thick.  Note to self, break dough into 3 or 4 seperate pieces.  The recipe rolled out a really large sheet of dough. 

Another neat quality of ginger bread cookie dough is you can play with the thickness to make either a really crunchy product or if you prefer cut thicker cookies for softer ones.

So like I said this makes a lot of cookies so as I was rolling Terri had the oven working overtime cranking trays through 2 at a time.  WOOHOO!!!!    I get excited over kitchen efficency!!

After the baking frenzy we ended up with some pretty creepy Already Been Chewed cookies.

The edges weren't as sharp as I envisioned but I think if I rolled the dough thinner I'd get the desired effect.

Not being satisfied with beheaded and amputee cookies we decided to dress them up a bit.

Evil aren't we?

As you can see we kind of over did it but what a  ball!!

"Chow For Now"


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Long time posting

It's been too long since my last post.  I made an attempt at creating Tyropitakia.  The critics enjoyed the flavor but I couldn't fold the darn dough into a triangle!  So I made rectangles instead!

I made a mixture of different cheeses: Blue, Feta, Cream, Pamesan and Ricotta.  Tossed in some eggs and with melted butter standing by created the above mess. 

Remember to always brush between layers of Phylo dough to make it flakier than I am and that is flaky.  Baked for 15 at 325 and allowed to rest on paper towels for a few prior to serving.  \

This is the same app that they serve at Mr Greek although their version is prettier.  I originally thought they were fried but after making them myself I realized the oil on the plate was the fat from the cheese and butter. 

I do plan on making them again but I am going to experiment with the filling a bit more.  I think diced red onion, olives and some oregano should be tasty. 

On a better food note Terri and I ran away for a weekend in Destin FL.  Of course we ate too much!  Lunch Saturday was at Panera Bread.  LOVE the macaroni and cheese there and have a dream of wallowing in a huge vat of the stuff! 

Terri and I also had sammies but I can't remember what they were due to the cheesy goodness causing memory loss.

For dinner we went to PF Changs. This was a first for both of us.  We started with fried wontons, egg drop soup and unsweet tea.  Wontons had a good flavor but were a bit greasy.  The tea had a mango flavor which I enjoyed but Terri was not a fan.  The egg drop soup was wonderfully thicker than I am used to and the flavor was very chickeny. This caused raised eyebrows as the flavor was not at all subtle.

One thing of note the wait staff has a little ritual where they mix a dipping sauce for you it's pretty tasty and is a different touch. 

Main course Terri:  I believe it was Chang's Spicy Chicken - Great flavor and came with a choice of brown or white rice.

Main Course Pete:  Mongolian Beef with white rice - AWESOME flavor but a bit heavy on the scallions. Don't get me wrong I love scallions and onions in general but they really piled them on.  I think Terri enjoyed the beef more than I did.  Like all meals together we share and she really dug into the Mongolian.  In fact we ate at PF Chang's the following night. More on that later.

Terri and I are some eating fools!!  Chinese doesn't last long in my belly so I had Terri stop at Winn Dixie for ice cream. 

Next day we went back to Panera bread for coffee and a quick bite.  Terri had a cherry danish and I had a bacon egg souffle.  If Panera ever opens a restaurant near me I will pitch a tent in the parking lot and eat souffles ALL day.  Yup I think they are that good had the artichoke one the following morning.

Day 2 lunch was at Johnny Rocket's.  This is a really cool retro burger joint.  Bugers are fresh and made to order and the fries are high quality and tasty.  Waitress was wonderful and she brought us containers for ketchup with smiley faces written in ketchup on the bottom.  Terri really dug the waiters in their bow ties maybe a little too much LOL.

Price was a little bit more than I normally would pay for burgers but they were worth it.  Atmosphere is really retro which raised the squee factor to 10 for Terri.

Dinner back to PF Chang's.  This time we opted for egg rolls as a starter.  Once again grease city.  I wondered if they tried pre frying them to save time.  The food at this place flys out the kitchen.  In fact it's almost too fast. 

Dinner choices were Terri - Mongolian beef and I had wok charred beef.  I personally found the charred beef to be more to my liking.  It was more savory than the mongolian and it had SHROOMMMMMS.  I love fungi!!

Dinner wasn't too costly and the serving sizes were good.

A great weekend all around!!

                                                                   "Chow for Now"


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Adventure at Yuki's

Good Day my fellow food freaks!

  Last night I had the awesome pleaseure of going to Yuki's in Biloxi with Terri, Jean and Jamie!  This was my first meeting with the ladies and it was an absolute blast! The food at Yuki's is always consistently good. 

 We started out with egg drop and miso soups. Although she isn't a fan kudos to Terri for trying miso soup for the first time.  Next up was our sushi.  We had shrimp tempura roll, Mississippi roll, green dragon and I believe a rock and roll roll.  Terri ordered sweet and sour chicken.  Once again props to my girl Terri for trying sushi for the first time.

  The rolls were as always wonderful and the sweet and sour chicken was spot on with a juicy chicken inside and a nice crunchy batter on the outside.  As we were getting to the end of our sushi I decided to get two orders of the fried gyozo.  To quote Jamie," They tasted better than they looked".  I had to agree, visually they weren't very appealing but in defense of the restaurant they tasted awesome! 

  The service last night was ok but not great.  I don't blame the waiter as his tables were spread all over the place and he was trying his best to cover a lot of ground. 

  Although the food was great the company and conversation were the highlights of the evening.  Personally I can't wait to get together again the ladies rocked! 

  I know there aren't any photos.  I'm struggling with taking or not taking photos.  I created this blog as a venue for friends and foodies to spread their knowledge and love of food.  I am in no way a food critic and do not want to be associated with that whole thing.  I love food, cooking and the enjoyment that comes from sharing this basic necessity of life.

  Again my thanks to Jean, Jamie and Terri for making my evening one I'll never forget!

"Chow for Now"


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Experiment in leftovers

Good evening my fellow food freaks!

Remember I wrote about all the leftover supplies from my pumpkin roll adventures?  Well here is what came out of it.

  I received the inspiration from "Little Chef".  The chocolate ones have cream cheese walnut filling, the plain ones are filled with chocolate ganache and the ones with chocolate morsels are a combo of both fillings.  I made a combo of semi-sweet and milk chocolate to dip the cookies in. 

  Not the prettiest things out there but...

  The credit for the double filling goes to Don, my brother from another mother.  I'll let you know how they were received tomorrow if posssible.  I'm going in for a sleep study so I might not have time.

  Short and sweet!

"Chow for Now"


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finally recovering


This weekend was a culinary challenge.  Where to begin? First I ended last week with the seasonal cry for pumpkin rolls and chocolate truffles. I only make thim at this time of year since they do have a holiday feel to them.  I generally make just a couple at a time but since I had numerous requests I made four rolls and prepared 2 pounds of truffle chocolate.  Saturday morning I wandered into the pantry, gathered supplies and made note of the things I didn't have before heading to the store.  Shopping was well...shopping.  I ran through the store and was out in no time.  In the afternnon I had a bunch at the house so I smoked a rack of ribs in my crazy Orion and grilled some thick cut chops.  Tossed together some rosemary and garlic new potatoes a double batch of pilaf and had some raw veggies and dip to hold everyone over till grub was on.  This is when it started to turn ugly.  Keeping in mind I had cooked a good 10 pounds of meat I ended up dining alone as everyone decided to head to the mall.  I know what you're thinking.  Why did he cook all that food if the house was going to be empty.  Great question and I have an answer.  Throught he miracle of cellular technology my loving sons informed me they would be home shortly for dinner.  With this bit of information I continued on preparing for the onslaught that never came.  I still have leftovers.  On to Sunday!!  Up bright and early to start cooking.  Put everything out on the counter and realized I purchased the wrong chocolate.  I wanted milk but picked up semi-sweet!  Off to Walmart I go.  Oldest son took the truck to work so I hop in the car and head out.  Half way there the car decides it's time to take a break and slows to a crawl on the highway about 100 feet from the off ramp I need to take.  I get off the highway and coaxed the car to the store parking lot.  Looking at the gauges the temp is in the red which explains the attitude problem the engine was having.  The car has a leak we can't find so we need to top it off once in a while.  I try to get the boys into the habit of checking it.  I should have taken my own advice before hitting the road.  Shopping done, radiator filled and fingers crossed, the car fires right up and I'm off to home.  Time for business!  Pull out the food processor and standmixer and set up all my supplies.  Cream and chocolate in a double boiler simmering away.   2 Rolls in the oven and making the filling.  MP3 player kicking some old time rock and roll.  But wait what's that smell.  DANG!!!  Fire in the hole!!!!!  I purchased a new oven a month ago and hadn't baked in it yet.  Add to that wrong size pans for the application and presto smoke gets in your eyes.  Recipe called for 15 minutes I was burning at that point.  Recovered and finally had 4 nice golden rolls.  Set them off to cool and poured off my chocolate to cool in the fridge. 30 minutes later spread filling and roll 'em up in plastic and into the fridge.  The filling is cream cheese based so getting it cool is key to keep it's roundness.  Feeling better I cleaned the kitchen and called it a day.  Monday was my day off.  Both boys at nwork so I thought truffle time.  I was planning on making 3 types.  Plain dusted with cocoa, caramel kiss centers dusted with powdered sugar and cocoa and finally the third filled with some cream cheese frosting and powdered sugar.  Oh I forgot to tell you!  I made a little too much filling like 2 quarts too much!!  I didn't take into consideration the difference in the pan size and the 2 cups of chopped nuts I added.  No problem my son Chris aka Little Chef has some ideas we are going to try. So again mis en place and glove up.  This is messy stuff!!  Dip in my spoon and it's not set up properly.  Still haven't figured out what happened but now I have 2 pounds of what I guess is a pretty good ganache.  At least it tastes good.  Here's hoping Chris comes up with something.  So proud me loads up 2 1/2 rolls into the car.  Roll 1 made it to Terri's work and her Mom's.  1/2 roll was Pete and Chris' friends critically important taste test.  It must have been difficult as it took multiple attempts to analyze the final product. It was fairly well received by those who know how I cook, however there was a whole bunch who didn't.  I still have quite a bit left at work for the rest of the week.  I hope to convert more people to the way of the pumpkin roll.  ALL HAIL THE PUMPKIN ROLL!  LOL  Well time to settle in and brainstorm whsat to do with all the left over filling and ganache.  Till later

"Chow for Now"


P.S. Nanni if you are still following I'm planning on doing an entry on your favorite Alio Olio Pepperoncino!  But this time pasta from scratch!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Samurai in Gulfport

Greetings my fellow food fanatics!

Well I couldn't let this one slip by without comment.  Today Don (My brother from another mother) took his girl Angie, Terri and myself to Samurai on highway 49 in Gulfport.  All I can say is WOW!!  That was some serious sushi!!  They are located at 2511 25th St.  Here is their web site address.  They have the complete menu there.http://www.samurai49.com/samurai/Jin_e/ContentList.aspx?catid=301311339

The menu is huge and there are some very creative choices I don't think you'll be disappointed.  To start we each had soup I had miso and everyone else had egg drop.  Miso had a nice slightly smokey flavor and it wasn't overly salty.  For entrees the ladies both had the Yakisoba with shrimp and Don and I had the teryiaki beef bento lunch.  The girls thoroughly enjoyed their meals and there wasn't much to take home.  The bento had a nice variety of foods.  It came with a salad and the ginger dressing was pretty good.  I do find most ginger dressings to be watery but this one was less so than most.  Along with the salad there was a few pieces of snow crab roll, white steamed rice and some orange segments.  The beef was cooked to perfection and it was very high quality.  It was cooked a bit towarde the rare side which is exactly how I like it.  The teriyaki sauce was nice and thick and held onto the steak perfectly. A small sprinkling of sesame seed made the presentation.  Saving the best for last was the sushi.  We decided on three rolls, the rock and roll, kani naruto and the shrimp tempura.  Forgive me if the names aren't correct there is a lot of sushi on the menu.  The rolls are as much a feast to the eye as they are the pallet.  Everything tasted fresh and  vegetables were crisp.  The coolest roll at least in regards to technique was the kani naruto.  The outside was made of thinly sliced cucmber instead of the traditional seaweed.  It was a refreshing change.

Again thanks to Don, Angie and Terri for a wonderful experience.  Samurai in Gulfport is a keeper.  If you go keep an open mind and a curious palate you won't regret it.

"Chow for Now"


Mr Greeks

A day late but...Had dinner at Mr Greeks with Terri last night and as usual we were not dissapointed.  I'm not much to go out during the week but Terri will be entertaining guests all weekend and it was a good opportunity to spend a little time with her. We started out with something new on the menu callled tyropitakia it was basically phyllo dough filled with different cheeses cut into triangles and served with tzatziki.  The flavor was really nice without a lot of bite from the cheese.  Unfortunately they were a bit greasy on the bottom and could have used some quality time on parchment.  I did some research and found a recipe for them http://greekfood.about.com/od/filledphyllopies/r/GreekPhylloCheeseTriangles.htm 

Greek Phyllo Cheese Triangles
Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

For our main course we had the gyro sandwich with fries.  I added feta to mine because you can never have enough cheese!  The sandwiches were AWESOME!  The service was great and the new menu has some neat additions.  Mr. Greeks is a pretty popular place and the restaurant is small so get there early. They are located at 1670 Pass Road in Biloxi right near Keesler gate 7.   BONUS!!!!  They will sell you almost everything you need to create gyros at home all you need is your lettuce, tomatoes and red onion.  I spoke to the owner a bit ago and he is thinking about moving back to Greece when his daughters finish school.  I'm not sure when that will be or even if he is leaving.  I would recommend you give it a try soon just in case.  Another favorite spot of mine to shop is the Oriental Market that is just a few doors down from Mr. Greek.  They are a mom and pop store and I have learned a great deal about oriental food from the lady of the store.  She taught me how to roll sushi and has been a great friend.  The main reason I brought the store up is because the first batch of Korean pears will be coming in next week.  You may have seen them in the grocery as pear apples or asian pears in various sizes.  If you haven't tried the real deal from Korea than run don't walk to the Oriental Market and pick one up. Yes I said one.  These things are quite large and a bit pricy.  The ones from Korea are distinctively thinner skinned and sweeter.  I like them chilled before eating.  The texture of the fruit is hard to describe but it is very crisp and juicy.  VERY juicy! The flavor is like a mix of pear and apple.  Well that's about it for tonight.  I'm waiting for the critical analysis of my latest batch of ice cream from Terri's mom.  It's always interesting.

"Chow for Now"


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I scream you scream!!!

Well tonight I made some ice cream for Terri's Mom.  I think she enjoys it even though the first batch wasn't  quite chocolate enough. I decided to post how I make it to show how easy it is to make a batch at home. Prior to making any recipe I gather my ingredients.  Depending on what or how much of something I'm making dictates if I will mise en place.  A fancy way of saying measure everything prior to cooking.  It makes a world of difference when cooking complicated recipes or a large variety of things.  As for ice cream as you can see it doesn't take a lot of ingredients.

I should tell you a little bit about the gadget you see.  It's my cuisinart icecream machine.  I picked it up a Williams-Sonoma http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/cuisinart-ice-cream-maker-extra-freezer-bowl/?pkey=cice-cream

It's not too expensive and it comes with 2 inserts.  It's pretty easy to use, just place insert in freezer for 24 hours the first time and than you can get by with shorter freeze times if you put it back in the freeze after cleaning.

Basic recipe for vanilla is:
 1 cup sugar
a pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons vanilla (more on that later)
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
2 1/2 cups heavy cream

Whisk until sugar has dissolved and place in fridge for 20 minutes to get it cold.  assemble machine and turn it on.  Slowly pour mixture into insert and let it go for 20 minutes.  That's it!! You can eat it at this point or place it in containers and put it in the freezer to harden. Personally I freeze mine overnight. 

For Terri's Mom portion control is important so I use Zip Loc 4 ounce containers.  They are similar in size to the cups you buy in the store and being reusable saves money.

For Terri's Mom I Make a dozen so she can enjoy a little bit each day.  As long as I get the containers back she gets homemade ice cream.  Not a bad deal!

Now as promised a note on vanilla.  I believe when it comes to spices and food in general sometimes you have to invest a little to get a lot of flavor and vanilla is a good example.  For this batch I used a standard store bought vanilla only because I ran out of my favorite.

I won't lie this stuff is expensive,  $11.00 for 4 ounces and I use 1 1/2 ounces per batch.  It leaves those little flecks of bean you see in the more expensive ice cream brands and the difference in the taste is remarkable. 

To flavor your ice cream you can use just about anything you want.  For chocolate I use good old fashioned Hershy syrup in a can call me nostalgic but...

A favorite around here is espresso flavor.  All you need to do is make the basic vanilla mix and add instant espresso powder to taste.  Of course if you want to really make the flavor jump out make a simple syrup but instead of using water use fresh brewed espresso.  Mix 1 cup espresso to 1 cup sugar and reduce till it's thick.  Keep an eye on it sugar is the napalm of the kitchen! Remember boiling is equal to 212 degrees and if you get it on you it will stick and continue to burn!

Just like any other flavor add it till it tastes good.  I have used almond extract and chppoed pistachio with pretty good results.  Have fun with it.  I'm going to try to make oreo peppermint stick around Christmas just because!

Well another day comes to a close.

"Chow for Now"


Pot luck follow up

Pot luck was a great time.  Lots of food and laughter.  It's great that we can get together and enjoy a good meal.  Of course I ate too much so I'm taking it easy tonight.  Pretty good array of food choices.  We had everything from ham, chicken, turkey, crab augratin and a whole bunch of sides to include 2 types of mac and cheese, yams and assorted other cold salads.  All were absolutely spectacular.  Of course I can't forget the desserts.  Personally I don't eat sweets very often and I couldn't have today if I tried.  The rest of the crew had red slipper cake and I believe butter finger cake too! The smoked turkey I prepared seemed to go over pretty well.  I put the leftovers up for tomorrow just in case someone wanted a sandwich.  Off to make ice cream for Terri's mom!  I'll post later on the results. 

"Chow for now!"


Monday, November 8, 2010

Pot Luck Tomorrow

Tomorrow we are having our Thanksgiving potluck at the office.  We try to have them early so we can get the most participation possible.  I was fortunate enough to be volunteered to bring a smoked turkey.  As anyone who has undertaken the task of smoking a bird knows, time is not on your side.  Fortunately I have discovered a great way to smoke a  bird in just a couple of hours.  More on that later...I chose a 13 pounder since we will have tons of food.

After a good rub down with olive oil I rubbed it down with a rub of rosemary, sea salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder.

Now for my secret I purchased this little cooker a couple of years ago and it's proved to be a workhorse.

You put a drip tray with your choice of smoke chips around the drip pan.  Place grill inside and put turkey on rack.  The cooker comes with a turkey rack and a lifter for the rack. Close it up fill the outside ring and top with charcoal squirt some fluid and light it up!

Now the hard part is not opening it up to take a look.  This cooker is truly set it and forget it.  2 hours later...

The beauty of this is not only is it fully smoked in around 2 hours it holds onto it's moisture!!  Smokey AND juicy!!  What more could you ask for.  The cooker is an Orion Holiday Cooker.  They also sell a larger version check it out at http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=orion+cooker&tag=mh0b-20&index=aps&hvadid=21316990&ref=pd_sl_9ehi1gnuat_p

Well that's it for tonight.  II'll follow up with the reaction from the gang at work.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Peter Anderson Festival

Yesterday Terri and I spent the day at the Peter Anderson festival in Ocean Springs, MS.  Terri was really digging seeing old friends and all the great art pieces.  I of course was into the food scene.  Ocean Springs is already known for it's cool little places to eat but I discovered a special treat.  Hidden on 705 Bellande is a little gourmet cheese shop named Epicure.  I fell in love when I saw the huge chunks of  5 year old parmesan cheese.  The owners wife allowed Terri and I to sample a piece drizzled with a 25 year old balsamic, a very rare treat.  Although the selection is small, the quality is there.  I purchased a few different cheeses, rosemary crackers and some really great Genoa salami.  After a futile attempt at finding a place to eat we settled down to munching on my latest culinary purchase.  It proved to be better than anything we could have found. At the end of the day we decided to head out for coffee and had the idea to hit The Shed for BBQ.  It was my first time and the food was great it was a  wonderful day all around .  Oh before I forget I have to tell you about G&M Goat Farm in Wiggins MS.  They had a booth at the festival and I sampled their garlic and olive goat cheese.  They can be reached at (601) 928-4020.  I didn't have a lot of time to chat as they were busy.  I hope they and all the other vendoors had a profitable weekend.


Welcome to my blog!

My name is Pete and I created this blog for fellow food freaks to write about what tickles their taste buds and as a forum for us to share our food related experiences and ideas.  Much thanks to my friend Terri for her inspiration and awesome logo. Let the party begin!!