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.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hiking in Kentucky

Since we've moved to Kentucky I have been working on my fitness. The only kind of fitness I care about is the kind that is useful to me. When am I going to bench press 500 pounds? Don't care. When am I going to squat 800 pounds? Don't care. But I do enjoy hiking and I would like to get better at it. My current goal is to be able to hike a 13.3 mile trail at Bernheim Forest, about 20 minutes south of Louisville. Last weekend I was able to do about 7.5 miles of it.

This is not your usual hiking trail.

Most of the time the trail is almost non-existant. You have to follow blazes on the trees.

Even though it is only 20 miles away from Louisville, it is in RURAL Kentucky. I was a little worried at first about the whole Deliverance thing.

But there are very few confrontations that can't be solved with a cell-phone and a large Buck knife.

More on my hikes later.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bone in Ribeyes and Steakhouse Sides

Kroger, the local grocery store chain, had a huge sale on steaks this weekend. They had my favorite cut - bone in ribeyes - for $4 a pound! I loaded up needless to say.

As it turns out, Emeril Lagasse really likes bone in ribeyes too. Someone gave me one of his cookbooks called Emeril's Delmonico.

Normally I don't give recipes for drinks on this site but I have to make a rare exception today. Emeril has a drink called Planter's Punch in his book. He says that you should enjoy it on a hot summer day. Let me tell you it is HOT down here. It isn't just that the temperature is >95 every day, it is also 90% humidity.

Planter's Punch

1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce cranberry juice
1 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 ounce grenadine
1 thin slice orange
1 cherry for garnish

He suggests making the steaks by rubbing them down with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then grill them for 4 minutes per side, rotating 1/4 turn at the 2 minute mark for the cross-hatch grill marks. Then he puts them in the oven for 4 minutes at 450 degrees to make them turn out medium rare.

We also had a great blue cheese gratin potatoe dish and some creamed spinach, both steakhouse classics.

Stilton Potato Gratin

2 1/2 pounds potatoes
1 1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 T finely chopped shallots
1 t minced garlic
1 t thyme
2/3 cup Stilton cheese or other blue cheese (Maytag if you can get it)
chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan with butter.
Peel potatoes and slice into 1/8th inch thick slices. Toss the potatoes in a large bowl with the salt and pepper while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Combine cream, shallots, garlic and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes. Arrange half of the potatoes in a layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour half the cream over and half the blue cheese (crumbled). Layer the rest of the potatoes on top, and pour the rest of the cream and the rest of the cheese on top. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake an additional 15 minutes uncovered, or euntil top is golden brown.

Creamed Spinach

1 1/4 pounds baby spinach leaves
1 c cream
1 T cornstarch
2 T milk
5 T parmesan
1/2 t salt
1/8 t ground white pepper
1/3 cup packed sharm cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease a baking dish.
Place spinach in a large skillet with enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until wilted, 5 to 7 minutes.
Bring the cream to a low boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat. Whisk cornstarch and milk in a small bowl until smooth to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the hot cream and return to medium heat, whisking until the mixture thickens and starts to boil, about 1 minute. Add the parmesan, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth. Add the spinach and stir. Pour the spinach cream mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle cheddar over the top and bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes.

Moroccan Lamb Kabobs

Here is my current favorite recipe for lamb kabobs. I got it from the book Cooking At the Kasbah available at amazon.com by clicking the highlighted link.

Shish Kabobs Marrakesh Style

3 pounds of lamb cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T minced cilantro
2 T minced flat leaf parsley (or regular)
1/2 onion, grated
1 T paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 t pepper

Combine everything in a ziplock bag and marinate overnight in the fridge or for as long as you want. When ready to grill put onto skewers and grill away!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cooking pizza in Louisville

OK there might be good pizza somewhere in Louisville but I haven't found it. Last weekend we were hungry for some deep dish. I went looking for the ingredients and found a great Italian grocer with all the San Marzano tomatoes, 6-in-1 tomatoes, cold cuts and other goodies I need. One very important ingredient is TOTALLY ABSENT in Louisville. THERE IS NO ITALIAN SAUSAGE TO BE FOUND IN LOUISVILLE!!! Krogers, a grocery store chain down here, has Johnsonville Italian sausage but it isn't anything even approaching what I would call good sausage. I decided to make my own.

Using the Kitchenaid mixer with the grinder attachment I ground a Boston Butt and mixed it with a few herbs and spices. It was extremely tasty and $7 worth of pork butt makes 6 pounds of sausage.

Hot Italian Sausage

4 pounds 10 ounces lean pork from Boston Butt
1 lb 1 ounce pork fat from Boston Butt
1 T salt
1 T black pepper
2 to 3 t crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 T paprika
½ t coriander
1 T Italian herbs
6 Parmesan
2 T fennel seed
6 T chopped parsley
6 T anise seed liquor

Once I got all my ingredients together I had to decide on a good pizza to make. I decided to make my Lou Malnati's's clone.

Malnati's Dough

Makes a 13 inch deep dish pizza

Combine 1 cup warm water with 1/2 package yeast. Stir and let the mixture sit until it is foamy. then add:

1/2 cup corn oil
2 T olive oil
2 t salt (sea salt preferred)
4 cups (16 ounces) of all purpose flour

Stir the ingredients up with a spoon until just combined, then set a timer for 2 minutes. Kneed the dough by hand for exactly 2 minutes. Once this is done, place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. The next morning before you go to work put it out on the counter. It will slowly rise all day. 8-10 hours is ok or even 12. When you get home preheat the oven to 450 with the rack on the lowest rung.

Assembling pizza

Take a 12 ounce block of mozzarella cheese and cut it into slices. Next take a large can of crushed tomatoes and add a little salt. I prefer 6 in 1 brand tomatoes.

Next take 2-4 T olive oil and put into the bottom of a 13 inch deep dish pizza pan. Take your dough and push it into the bottom of the pan, drawing it out with your hands until flat and riding up the sides by 1 and 1/2 inch. If there is excess dough you can trim it and throw out the excess. You want the dough to be only about 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick. Some of the oil from the bottom will inevitably spill onto the top of the dough. That is just fine. Next place the slices of mozzarella in the bottom of the dough. If you have some, sprinkle a little Romano cheese over the top. Next put some pepperoni down over the cheese. Next put a little bit of cooked italian sausage over the pepperoni. Finally put a layer of sauce over the top of everything, and sprinkle with parmesan and oregano. Immediately put the pizza in the oven on the bottom rack. Cook for 15 minutes and turn. Depending on your oven you will need to cook and additional 10 to 15 minutes until done. I know mine is done when the cheese bubbles up and starts to brown. The crust will be nice and golden brown as well. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

The final portion of the meal was a soup. You shouldn't eat too many pieces of this pizza, it is very very bad for you. Instead have a bowl of soup with it. The perfect soup to serve with pizza is Neapolitan Minestrone. Pizza is from Naples so a soup from Naples is the perfect accompaniment.

Minestrone Alla Napoletana

1 yellow bell pepper
2 ounces pancetta (can substitute bacon)
½ onion
½ carrot
1 clove garlic
2 T olive oil
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 fresh flat leaf parsley sprig, chopped
2 potatoes, diced
¾ cup fava beans, shelled (can substitute kidney beans)
2 zucchini, sliced
1 cup peas
¼ cup cabbage, coarsely shredded
1 Belgian endive, cut into strips
2 eggplants, diced
1 cup pasta like cannolicchi
2 t chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated provolone (can substitute parmesan)

Place bell pepper under broiler and broil until skin is charred and blistered. Place in a plastic bag. When cool enough to handle peel off the skin, seed and dice. Finely chop pancetta with onion, carrot and garlic. Heat the oil and add the pancetta mixture. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Add 8 ¾ cups water and season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes and beans and simmer for 1 hour. Add the zucchini, peas, cabbage, endive, eggplants and yellow pepper. Simmer for 30 more minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt if necessary. Sprinkle with basil and serve with provolone.

Chicken Amogio and Eggplant Parmesan

This last week we had some grilled chicken that one of my friends told me about. It is marinated in a sauce called amogio. He is a St. Louis Italian so I suppose the recipe comes from there.

Amogio Sauce

10 Sprigs of mint, 5-6 chopped and the remainder tied together as a brush
1 clove of garlic
1/2 t Salt
-- grind the above together in a mortar/pestle --

1 Tbs Katsup
1/2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon
1/2 t Pepper

Chop the chicken up into cubes and marinate in a portion of the sauce in a ziplock bag overnight. The next day grill the chicken, using the mint leaf 'brush' to baste the chicken. We served it with red onion and green pepper that were brushed with the marinade as well.

One of my favorite dishes is eggplant parmesan. This time I made the chicken and the wife made the eggplant.

Eggplant Parmesan

1-2 eggplants
Olive oil
1-2 eggs, beaten
Shredded parmesan and mozzarella cheeses
Salt and Pepper to taste

28oz can whole tomatoes
2 strips bacon
1 small onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Basil, salt and pepper to taste

Cut eggplant into ½ inch slices and place in a bowl of salted water for one hour to eliminate bitterness. Prepare a simple red sauce by frying 2 strips of bacon. Remove bacon and discard or feed to your family canine. Saute onion and garlic in the bacon grease and add a 28oz can of whole tomatoes. Use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes well. Season with basil (about 1 tsp. or to your individual taste) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the eggplant from the salt water and pat dry. Dredge in beaten egg, then flour. Fry in olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Grease a shallow baking dish and layer eggplant, marinara, sprinkle with parsley and basil and top with cheese. Repeat layering until you have used all ingredients. Place dish in a 400 degree oven uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Periodically spoon off excess liquid during the baking process.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dutch Apple Crisp

We got hungry for some apple crisp yesterday. The wife made a recipe courtesy of my Great Aunt Mattie.

Aunt Mattie’s Best Ever Apple Crisp

Work together with fingers or pastry blender:

½ c. pure cane golden brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
¼ c. margarine
¾ c. flour

Spread 4 c. coarsely sliced apples (4-6 apples) in a greased, shallow 1-1 ½ qt. Baking dish. Pour 2 T lemon juice mixed with ¼ c. water over the apples. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and lightly with nutmeg. Spread crumbly mixture over apples. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees 50-60 minutes until apples are tender and crust is crisply browned. Serve warm with ice cream.

This recipe was originally made by Aunt Mattie’s friend Hulda and can be made with rhubarb as well.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Weekend in Kentucky

This weekend someone gave me a box at Churchill downs so we went out for a few hours to watch the horses run.

I made a few $2 bets, one of which was a Trifecta. I won the trifecta bet and the proceeds paid for parking, all of our beverages for the day and dinner at a great Thai place called Mai's Thai.

Its a great restaurant on 10th street in Jeffersonville, Indiana (connected to Louisville). The lady that runs it has a real passion and she makes her own recipes. Most of the profits go to restore this ancient temple in Thailand.

This morning I decided to go on a little site-seeing tour.

I found a great state park called General Butler State Park about 45 minutes away. It is tucked away up in the "mountains."

4th O' July BBQ

We had a BBQ for the 4th again this year. I made pulled pork, which is very cheap and very easy. I bought a 10 pound Boston pork butt for 7 dollars. I threw it on the smoker for about 12 hours. The night before I rub the pork down with a rub (see below). While I am smoking it I use the leftover rub to make a basting sauce and I baste it about every hour. When it is done it looks something like this:

You have to let it sit for 1/2 hour during which time it cools and the juices redistribute throughout the meat. After 1/2 hour you pull it into pieces. It needs to be served on a bun like this:

I am told that it makes a good hair tonic as well.

Pulled Pork Rub

Makes enough for an 8 to 10 pound butt roast

1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T salt
2 t dry mustard
1 t ground ginger (dry)
1 t cayenne

After you rub the pork down there will be left over powder to which you add 2 cups vinegar and 1 c water. This liquid is used to baste the pork every hour while it smokes.

I served the pork with a red vinegar based BBQ sauce like I got in North Carolina.

North Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 c cider vinegar
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 t cayenne
1 T sugar
1 t salt

And of course you can't have BBQ without a couple sides. Here is a good recipe for macaroni and cheese that I like with pulled pork.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

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.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


We are all moved in to Louisville. We finally got unpacked enough to cook something last night. We decided to go with something simple. As usual the baby loved it.

After dinner we went to Cherokee Park for a stroll and some swinging. There is a cool shelter that looks sort of like a gigantic teepee.

The baby had a lot of fun swinging.

This morning I went out to the store and spotted a Ural motorcycle complete with sidecar! It was a sight to see.