Monday, October 20, 2014

Barbecued Beef Brisket--Lubbock Style

Saturday, like most of the week, was cold and wet.  Our spirits weren't dampened and neither was our barbecue.  We invited some friends to come over for a cookin rather than a cookout.  Thanks to Ernest Wright, oven-barbecued brisket was on the menu.  Back in the early twentieth century, Weber had not even begun perfecting the outdoor grill.  Patios weren't called "patios".  About the only time one ate outside was for church gatherings for dinner on the grounds.  In 1923, Mr. Wright figured out how to condense and bottle liquid smoke.  I didn't discover it until the mid-1980s.

We were living our Lubbock, Texas years.  Our dinner group years.  Memorable menus!  One outstanding dinner was a barbecue--an indoor barbecue.

(We also served kielbasa, hence the pig napkins.)

We recreated that long ago Lubbock meal for our friends.  Sides were potato salad, cole slaw and cornbread.  Guests were asked to check their spurs at the door.  Jane showed up in jeans with a "brand" hanging from her belt.  She also brought a photo from her childhood on a dude ranch in Texas.  Jim had on his long-john top with a horse emblem (o.k., it was a Polo emblem but at least he tried).  Steve arrived wearing a tie that was full of "brands".  Diana sported jeans and boots (no spurs).  Ambiance was a Roy Rogers and Dale Evans CD on the Bose.

One never knows where our conversations in this group will go.  Saturday brought out the kid in us and memories of long ago cowpokes and their gals.  Soon, we were humming along with Roy and Dale.  And, all too soon, it was time to say adios and happy trails until we meet again.

Barbecued Beef Brisket

4-6 pound fresh brisket
Garlic salt
Onion salt 
Liquid smoke (usually where the barbecue sauces)


2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

Put all the sauce ingredients into a large saucepan and simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

For the brisket:

1.  Sprinkle both sides of the meat with the garlic salt, onion salt and the liquid smoke.  Wrap the brisket in heavy-duty foil and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
2.  Uncover and pour 1/2 the sauce over the meat.  Cover tightly and place in a roasting pan.
3.  Roast at 250 to 300 degrees for 5 to 6 hours.
4.  To serve, cut across the grain.
5.  Pass the rest of the sauce separately.

NOTE:  I usually roast the brisket before the day it will be served.  To reheat, wrap it in foil and heat it in a 250 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  


Friday, October 17, 2014

Cod Chowder Redux

I grew up inland at a time when fresh fish were available on Fridays only.  Mother planned her farmers' market trips on that day.  Her last stop would be at the butcher shop which doubled as a fish monger.  I don't remember what kind of fish she purchased but they had tiny, annoying bones.  They also had to be scaled.  This she did on pieces of newspaper on the kitchen table.  While the fish was tasty, my sisters and I weren't too enthusiastic about avoiding those bones.  The only cod available was salt cod that came in compact squares and had to be soaked.  I grew up thinking that's how cod was supposed to be.  It wasn't until I started traveling to New England a few year's back that I encountered fresh cod.  A steaming bowl of fresh cod chowder was so delicious that it became a mission to find some unsalted cod here in the midwest.  Surprisingly, it seemed to be readily available frozen--off my radar though.  Following a recipe for clam chowder, I substituted the cod.  The bowl received a big thumbs up!

We have had a chilly and drizzly week around here.  Not much sunshine to be found.  So it was time to make another bowlful.  This is just a tasty reminder as I've shared this recipe with you before.

Cod Chowder 

2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 rib celery diced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 pound potatoes, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1 (8-10 ounce) bottle clam broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound frozen cod, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup half-and-half

1.  Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat and add the bacon.  Cook until the bacon is crispy and brown, stirring most of the time.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel and reserve.  Leave the drippings in the pot.
2.  Add the onion, celery, thyme and bay leaf to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.  Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes.
3.  Add the potatoes, chicken broth and clam juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.
4.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the cod and corn.  Simmer for 5 minutes more.  Remove the pot from the heat and cover allowing the cod to finish cooking.
5.  Return the chowder to low heat and stir in the half-and-half until just heated.
6.  Sprinkle the reserved bacon over and serve.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Here are those "still-life" vegetables from the last post.  It seemed appropriate that they stay together so I roasted them all at one time.  We'll simply warm them up for a few dinners.  I may even turn some into a soup for lunch today since it's raining and chilly outside.

Oven Roasted Vegetables
400 degree oven

Cauliflower, squash, onions, etc. cut to about the same size--about 8 cups in all

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp each of finely chopped rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper to taste.

Add the vegetables to the bowl and stir well to coat each piece.

Spread out on a large baking pan, drizzle the remaining oil mixture over them and roast for about 25 minutes.

As for those tomatoes, I cut them up, added a sliced cucumber, a splash of balsamic vinegar,  salt and pepper and had them for lunch.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Early Fall Harvest

The Baker did the vegetable marketing this morning.  It was cold and I had a date for coffee with a friend.  He was headed out the door with a list when I stopped him.  In a hopeful voice, I said "if there are tomatoes, get as many as possible".  Imagine my delight to unload eleven heirloom specimens onto the windowsill.  Lunch will be tomato sandwiches!!

This beautiful bowlful of cauliflower, zucchini, patty pan squash, beets and cipollini onions will be roasted tomorrow.  We'll enjoy them all next week.

I want to thank our favorite farmer, Linda, for providing us with such bounty all summer.  It was certainly a trying ordeal for farmers in our area.  The much cooler than normal temperatures wreaked havoc with crops.  LE Gardens in Wheatfield, IN is where Linda and her team toil and fuss over the produce for us (and a few hundred others--including several local restaurants).  If the produce isn't top notch, it doesn't come to market.  When it does come, it is a sight to behold.  Everything is nicely cleaned and beautifully displayed.  Linda, until next season, we'll miss you.  Enjoy a little rest until it is time to start all over again.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Southwest Baked Chicken

Whew!  I just had to stop The Baker from taking the porch furniture down to the basement.  "No" I screamed said sweetly when it was apparent that was his intent.  Just because there was a bit of sleet on Saturday morning doesn't mean that we won't get a spell of Indian Summer.  The ferns and trailing  begonias are still happy with the porch weather.  We'll follow their example.  We'll make a switch to sipping hot tea instead of iced.  Maybe a sweater will be needed.

One of the more difficult foods to give up at summer's end is tomatoes.  Second is corn.  I believe we had the last of the corn recently.  It was so delicious all summer--sweet and juicy.  To honor the last few ears, I made the Southwest Baked Chicken that was featured in the Chicago Tribune a month or so ago.  The original recipe called for cooking it in a Dutch oven set in hot charcoal.  If your Dutch oven is as heavy as mine, you know it's enough just to move it from the top of the stove into the oven!  It adapted nicely to that approach and was delicious.

Southwest Baked Chicken from the Chicago Tribune

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp each:  salt, smoky paprika and salt-free seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsps chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350

1.  Place the chicken in a large plastic (sealable) bag and pour the buttermilk in.  Seal the bag and make sure each piece of chicken gets into the buttermilk.  Refrigerate for at least four hours to overnight.
2.  Generously butter the inside of a Dutch oven.  Mix the breadcrumbs with the spices in a small bowl.  Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and evenly coat each piece with the breadcrumb mixture.  Place in the Dutch oven in a single layer.  Cover with the lid and place in the heated oven.
3.  Roast, covered, for 40 minutes,  drizzle the melted butter over the chicken, then raise the temperature to 400, cover and roast for an additional 15 minutes.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

King Lear, Eataly and President Obama

Yesterday, we joined our friends for King Lear at Chicago Pier's Shakespeare Theater.  It was a great performance--tragic as always.  Since we are all happily retired, we've changed our tickets to the
 1 p.m. performance and stay for the interesting and informative discussion afterwards.  Then, we go out for dinner to escape the rush hour traffic.  We also had to work around President Obama's motorcade.  Air Force One had to land at the Gary International Airport due to the on-going problems at Midway and O'Hare.  We were not furnished with the itinerary but thought the President would not be dining at Eataly--a place we've wanted to visit since it opened last year.

There are a number of dining opportunities at Eataly.  We decided to try Le Verdure and Il Pesce.

Both offer table service.  It was interesting to dine and watch shoppers.  There were a number of people wandering about sipping wine and beer while they shopped.

This delicious Italian bread arrived at our table accompanied by a very good olive oil.

Andrew and I shared an appetizer of frito misto. The broccoli, beets, green tomato, carrots and parsnips were lightly breaded and quickly deep fried.  It was delicious!  Our friends shared the same.
It was followed by very good shrimp in a marinara sauce for Jane and me.  Andrew and Jim had another seafood offering which I forgot to photograph.  We all gave the food a thumbs up.  The ambiance was interesting.  The noise level was high.

While I really wanted to try this balsamic vinegar, the price tag was a bit out of our price range!!

Our minds were boggled by the huge offering of cheeses!  Those hams were tempting but still hanging when we left.

I picked up a very good coffee to sip on the drive home.  We never saw the President or his motorcade and the traffic was with us both ways.  It was a very good day.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chinese Five Spice Shrimp on a Bed of Red Cabbage

The Baker and our boys were away last week.  They had an all-male trip to Poland.  Andrew took care of everything.  I didn't have to do a thing but worry.  Adam would be traveling from San Francisco, Stefan from Boston and Andrew from Chicago.  How on earth were they going to end up in Warsaw within an hour of one another?  They did!  Whew!  They were there.  They were having fun.  I was at home toiling away (those of you who know differently, please don't make mention)!  No worries--until awakening on Friday morning to hear that Midway and O'Hare were closed down and reopening was nowhere in sight!  Time to start worrying again!  Andrew was due into Chicago at 3:20 p.m. on Saturday.  It was time to start checking flight status and figuring out a quick meal for dinner.  It all worked out.  Andrew was half an hour late.  While he unpacked, I put together this delicious recipe.  It was inspired by an appetizer from a favorite neighborhood restaurant, Lucrezia's.  They serve the shrimp over braised red cabbage and add a lemon sauce to the shrimp.  I, instead, used Chinese Five Spice and thought it quite good.

Chinese Five Spice Shrimp on a Bed of Red Cabbage

For 2

1/2 pound medium shrimp, shell and tails removed
2 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp canola oil
Large clove of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine

16 ounce jar of pickled red cabbage

1.  In a saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
2.  Dry the shrimp and sprinkle with the Chinese Five Spice, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat evenly.
3.  Add shrimp to the hot oil and sauté for two minutes, turning several times.
4.  Add the chopped garlic to the pan and sauté for one minute longer.
5.  Add the wine and simmer for another minute--just until the shrimp are opaque.
6.  Place about 3/4 cup of the cabbage in a shallow bowl and spoon the shrimp over.