I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Monday, January 24, 2005

No good food.

I am out in the boonies seriously. I am 6 hours from any civilization. The town I am in does have a few good Mexican restaraunts but that is about it. I get to go back home this weekend to take a test so I will get some good food then.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Baby finally came home!

Everyone finally came home from the hospital last night. I was so happy I decided to have a feast. My friend brought up some leg of lamb that we made into kebabs. We also had one of my all time favorite dishes - eggplant with grilled peppers, tomato sauce and garlic yogurt sauce. I made homemade naan on the grill to eat with the food. Everyone got stuffed beyond all belief. It was the first time my mother in law had ever eaten Turkish food and her head exploded.

Fried Eggplant and green peppers with 2 sauces

Take 1 eggplant and peel it lengthwise, leaving a few strips of skin to create a striped effect. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Soak eggplant pieces in salted water for 20 minutes, then pat dry. Fry in oil and place on paper towels to drain.

For the peppers, I used banana peppers that I grilled on the grill with the chicken.

For the yogurt garlic sauce, take 1 cup yogurt and add 2 cloves garlic, pressed. Add a little salt and refrigerate to combine the flavors.

For the tomato sauce, take 2 tomatoes and peel them by dropping them into boiling water for 30 seconds and then plunge them into cold water. Heat 1 T olive oil. Add the tomatoes and 2 cloves garlic, pressed. Use a potato masher to mash up the tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes soften.

Lamb Kebabs

Take lamb chunks and cut it into long thin strips. Marinate the lamb in the juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 grated onion for 2 hours or more depending on how much time you have. I also grill up some onions and if you aren't having peppers in another dish be sure to grills some peppers. I throw a tomato on the grill as well and slice it and serve it with the lamb. Also serve it with lemon slices. You can throw the lemon on the grill too and it will taste absolutely delicious. I sprinkled a little feta cheese and parsley over the top.

To make naan on the grill I just make a really simple dough and let it rise until double in size. I throw a cup of warm water in the mixer and add the instant yeast and let it sit until it is foamy. Then I add flour a little at a time until I have a really moist dough. Kneed it for several minutes in the mixer. Cover it and let it rise. To grill it, get your grill going. You want to put the bread on before the rest of the food. It only takes a couple minutes on the grill. I flatten the dough out like I was making a pizza. Toss it on the grill for a minute or so until it starts to brown a little bit. Then flip it and cook it on the other side for a minute or so. Remove from the grill and brush with melted butter. Cut into pieces and serve immediately.

Here is the spread:

Tonight we are having another feast because I have to go clear the hell out in the middle of nowhere with no kitchen for the next 3 months. My wife and the baby won't be able to join me for another couple weeks. So needless to say this blog is going to slow down a little bit but rest assured it will pick up again when I get back in town.

What to do with leftover pork roast

I don't have any left over pork roast at the moment but a relative does! Any time I have leftover pork roast I make 1 thing and 1 thing only - Cuban Sandwiches.

I first had a Cuban in Key West. My wife and I went and stayed down at Key Largo. One day we took a trip to Key West and rented a little scooter. I wanted to get Cuban food but all of the restaurants we found looked too touristy. So we drove around the back neighborhoods a little bit and discovered that there are a lot of Laundromats. I think a lot of the people who live in Key West have apartments and probably don't have laundry in the building. If you live there you are either filthy stinking rich or poor. The other thing is that it is hotter then hell down there most of the year and who wants to heat up their house doing laundry? So anyway a lot of the Laundromats have Cuban food counters right in the Laundromat. So that's where we got Cuban sandwiches. We took our sandwiches and ate them on a deserted beach on the east side of the Island.

Cuban Sandwiches

Sliced roast pork
deli ham
sliced onions
Swiss cheese
Cuban bread or a hoagie or ciabata bread

Assemble and serve cold. Some places serve them hot without all the vegies. They also were always served with Louisiana Hot Sauce and a side of yellow rice and black beans. The place in Key West also served it with fried plantains.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

an arrival

Perhaps I should change the name of the blog to 'How to have a 9 pound baby. She finally came!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Cranberry Bread

I went through the refrigerator and found a package of cranberries that needed to be used. A great use for cranberries (besides whole berry sauce) is cranberry bread. I made my grandmother's recipe for cranberry bread. I adapted it to make a double loaf and use a whole package of cranberries.

Muriel's Cranberry Bread

1 pound (4 cups) flour
1 t salt
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 T melted butter
1 c orange juice
1/2 c water
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 package cranberries (3 cups)

Mix everything together. Pour into greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Alternatively, this recipe will make 24 muffins. The baking time needs to be reduced to about 40 minutes with muffins or until they start to turn nice and brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Yet Another Burrito

Given that we have a baby due (overdue), I decided to make something that would make good leftovers. Its been so long that I had anything spicy that I decided to make my sister's recipe for burritos. I think she got the recipe from her next door neighbor who is originally from Mexico. I really like this kind of burrito but they are more involved than the burritos that I typically make. This recipe makes a good sized baking pan full of 10 burritos.

Shawn's Thrice Cooked Fiesta Burritos

1 1/2 pounds of cheap beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 mild peppers, chopped (see picture)

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic crushed
24 oz tomato sauce
2 1/2 cans of Ro-Tel tomatoes with juice. Save the other 1/2 can for the cheese sauce
1 T chili powder
2 t cumin

Brown the beef in a big pot. Add vegetables and cook until the vegies are soft. Then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 3 hours, until beef shreds easily. Now comes the second cooking: remove the lid and turn up the heat. Cook, stirring occasionally. Use a spatula to crush/shred the beef as you reduce the sauce. When the sauce is reduced the beef mixture should look like this -

To assemble the burritos, use a butter knife to spread refried beans on a tortilla. Put a scoop of the meat on and a few pinches of cheese. Roll them up and put them into a baking pan with sides.

Next bake the burritos, uncovered, at 350 for 15 minutes. Meantime make the cheese sauce by melting 6 ounces of velveta mixed with 1/2 can Ro-Tel tomatoes. I do this in a plastic dish in the microwave. After burritos have cooked 15 minutes, pour cheese sauce over the top and return to oven, uncovered, for 10 more minutes. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Trust me the lettuce makes a huge difference by adding interest through contrasting textures and temperatures.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Mississippi Trip

I just got back from Jackson Mississippi! I was down there interviewing for a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship. If you are interested in my progress with that particular aspect of my life you can check my other blog. I put a link to it on the left of the page. Hopefully I will match somewhere and I won't have to hunt for a hand fellowship to occupy my time for a year.

While I was down there I met a plastic surgeon who is into cast iron cooking. He goes on all these crazy adventures into the backwoods of Montana. He kayaks, fishes, hunts and does all this other non 'girly-man' type stuff. My readers might know someone else who does that sort of thing. Anyway talking to him gave me the idea to update my camping food posts with a few pictures. You can find them here:

Camping Food 1
Camping Food 2
Camping Food 3
Camping Food 4
Camping Food 5

My flight down there was a bit complicated. Kansas City got destroyed by an ice storm. It was like Godzilla attacked us or something.

Quite a change from the summer isn't it? The smoke in the background is from my burn pile. My county allows open burning, so those downed branches in the ice picture will be no problem.

My flights were canceled. I had to make other arrangements, and those flights were delayed and almost canceled. Anyway it was all worth it. When I finally arrived at the interview (several hours late) I was delighted to find some Mississippi-Style BBQ.

They had a spread of pulled pork, BBQ chicken, beans, potato salad and a pudding desert layed out. One of these times I will have to do a few BBQ posts when the weather warms up.

Railroad French Toast

With the baby almost here I have had to simplify my cooking quite a bit. I was really hungry for French Toast but my wife hates French Toast. Apparently her memories of French toast involve soggy nasty bread. I finally got her to agree to eating some, but I had to make a special recipe.

I got the recipe from the new Gourmet cookbook. You can find a link to it in one of the other posts on this site. Back in olden times, when people used to take trains to go places there was a railroad called the Santa Fe. They had legendary French Toast on there so I decided to make their recipe. The preparation sounds a little strange and a little involved but it made a true believer out of someone who absolutely hates French Toast. My wife positively GOBBLED this stuff down.

Santa Fe French Toast

4 pieces of Texas Toast or other thickly sliced bread, cut on the diagonal
2 eggs
1/2 cup cream

Beat eggs and cream together. Pour over the bread, turning over to let the sauce soak in. Next heat a cast iron skillet with 1/2 inch vegetable oil in it to 325 degrees. Drop in the pieces of bread and cook, turning once, until browned. Place the pieces onto paper towels to remove as much of the oil as possible. Arrange pieces on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or so until they puff up. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I also made a Denver omlet to serve with the toast.

Spaghetti with Meatballs

With the baby almost here we have been making very simple food. I am certainly not above using canned spaghetti sauce on occasion. I like Newman's Own Five Cheese style sauce. I do have to insist on real meatballs though. I have dozens of recipes for meatballs. The basic principle is some sort of meat or blend of meats with something to make it stick together (eggs) and something to fill it out (bread crumbs). I didn't have any bread that I wanted to waste on meatballs so I used ground up oyster crackers. I also like to add a little flavor to the meatballs. Here is the recipe I used most recently, made just from stuff that was in my fridge and cupboard.


1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup parmesan
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup ground oyster crackers
1 T italian herbs
1 t crushed red pepper
1 t fennel seed

Mix all that stuff up and shape into balls. Place balls into a baking dish that has been oiled down with olive oil. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes, until all of the pinkness is gone from the center of one of the bigger meatballs.

I like plane old Texas toast garlic bread with my spaghetti. To make it I just buy Texas Toast, butter one side, sprinkle on a little garlic salt and throw it under the broiler to toast it.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Now that you've got pumpernickle ...

One particular meal comes to mind when I think of pumpernickle bread - reubens! I can't think of a more perfect combination to eat with pumpernickle bread than corned beef and sour kraut. To eat with your reuben you need something really tasty. I decided to make macaroni and cheese. I altered a recipe from a great cookbook. In the last year Gourmet magazine came out with a cookbook with the best recipes from their magazine. I don't get Gourmet magazine but I bought the Gourmet Cookbook.. It is a great resource for the definitive versions of different dishes.

Macaroni and Cheese ala Koko

Boil enough macaroni to fill a 9X9 inch baking dish. Drain the macaroni when it is cooked and save 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Put the macaroni and pasta water in the buttered baking dish.

Make cheese sauce by melting 1 T butter in a sauce pan. Add 1 T flour and a few red pepper flakes. Stir for a few minutes to make a roux.

To the roux add:
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
4 ounces velveta
1 t salt
freshly ground black pepper

Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly. Add 1 t Dijon mustard. Simmer until velveta melts. Add 1 cup finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. Pour sauce over macaroni and stir. It will seem kind of soupy.

Make a topping by crushing a few Saltine crackers. Melt 2 T butter and combine with the crackers. Add 1/2 cup finely shredded extra sharp cheddar.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is browning and bubbly.

There are as many ways to make reubens as there are mothers. I think a lot of how mothers end up deciding on a recipe depends on what ingredients are available to them. We lived out in the middle of nowhere, so not much was available in terms of quality corned beef. Even so, I love this particular recipe for reubens, so that is how I make them.

Reuben Sandwiches

2 slices of dark pumpernickle rye bread
1 slice Swiss cheese
a few slices of corned beef. We always got the kind that comes in the plastic package, is square, and sliced real thin. I don't even know if it is real corned beef but it tastes good. Carl Budding is the brand that comes to mind.
sour kraut
thousand island dressing or Russian dressing

Place beef on bread, then sour kraut, then dressing, then cheese. Butter the outsides of the bread and grill. The cheese will run down through the sour kraut and be extra delicious.

I also made a little steamed broccoli as a side.

After the meal we just layed around and watched the bowl games.

Sourdough Pumpernickle

The first thing you have to do to make sourdough, or wild yeasted bread is to make a starter. I have a great bread book called The Bread Baker's Apprentice. There is an excellent description in the book about how to make and maintain a starter. There are also a lot of great resources on the web. I'll just give some brief instructions and you can fill them out with a little research.

Sourdough Starter

Take one cup of flour and one cup of water and stir in a non-metal bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set on the counter. Twice a day stir it. Add a little water if it starts to look dry. Every other day or so take out a cup of the starter and add in a fresh cup of water and a fresh cup of flour. After a few days of this the starter will start to bubble and smell yeasty. There you have it! You might notice that I didn't add any yeast. You don't need to add yeast, there is plenty in the environment, and you want the stuff that grows naturally where you live. If you aren't going to use any of your starter at this point, cover it and put it in the refrigerator. It is good to use for up to 3 days but after that it will need to be refreshed to be used. To refresh your sourdough culture take it out of the fridge. Remove 1 cup of the started and add in a fresh cup of water and 1 cup of flour. After a few hours it will bubble up and be ready for use. You can keep this cycle going for years, decades, generations etc.

Pumpernickle Bread
This recipe makes one big loaf.

Day 1

1 cup of your starter
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) rye flour
3/4 cup water

Combine in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it has a lot of bubbles - about 5 hours. Then refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

Let the rye starter from the previous day warm up for 1 hour then add:

2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
2 T brown sugar
1 T cocoa powder
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/4 t instant yeast
3/4 cups bread crumbs, dry or fresh
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Kneed 4 to 5 minutes in a mixer. The dough should be tacky but not sticky. Put it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 2 hours or until double in size. Next form the dough into a loaf and put it into an oiled/floured loaf pan. Spray a little plastic wrap with oil and cover the loaf with it. Let the loaf rise (proof) until it is about an inch above the top of the pan. As its getting close, preheat the oven to 350 with a rack on the middle shelf. Slash the top of the loaf with a razor blade. Brush the top of the loaf with 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 t milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and place into oven. Bake 20 minutes and then rotate 180 degrees. Bake for 20 to 30 more minutes until the temperature in the loaf is between 185 and 195. You really need to use a meat thermometer to test the temperature. Let cool on a cooling rack until it is room temperature.