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Friday, July 31, 2009

Bacon, bacon, bacon


I must admit that there are not many people who do not like bacon. I don't eat it often, but I do enjoy the thick slice bacon. In spinach salad and of course the infamous "BLT"!! Bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is the perfect summer lunch. Farm grown tomatoes add a certain, summer only, flavor to this simple sandwich. My sons love bacon and could make a meal of bacon itself. I know that David (my youngest @ 18) has made many bacon sandwiches. Forget the lettuce and tomato for him as those are vegetables the last time I checked. Yes, your child can grow up just fine having not touched a vegetable or fruit since the baby food became chunky. This from my child who ate his share of baby food spinach. It was a FAVORITE of his!! Thank goodness for 100% fruit juices! Oh, and the calcium from all of the cheese and yogurt he ate too. One day, he will be pleasantly surprised when he does eat something of the fruit and veggie family and enjoys it.
We've all done that haven't we. Something we never ate as a child, but once tried as an adult, we like it. Growing up, I was not fond of Chinese food. Once I gave it an honest try again in college, I had many years of Chinese meals to satisfy my new found enjoyment of this delicious cuisine. Now, I eat Chinese food quite often and have even made homemade egg rolls, sizzling rice soup, and many entrees. There is something about eating out of those little take out boxes that puts the fun back in eating.

Now, back to the bacon.... Bacon cheeseburgers, bacon sandwiches, bacon for breakfast, and one of David's new found favorites: Bacon wrapped pork chops. I first had this delicious treat at my friend's house. Sue is an awesome cook, who has introduced me to the many fine flavors of her South African heritage as well as from her travels. Not sure of the origin of this recipe, and I don't make it as good as her, but it's wonderful nonetheless. David will eat three at a time with no problem! He enjoys them.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops

5 center cut pork loin chops, cut about 1/2 inch thick
5 pieces maple, hickory smoked bacon (thick cut is best)
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
salt
pepper

Sprinkle the pork chops liberally with olive oil, pat minced garlic on each chop, add salt and pepper to taste and let sit for about 30 minutes. Wrap each pork chop with a piece of bacon. I don't wrap around the edges, but around the flat surface of the chops. No need to secure with toothpicks, as I just cook the portion with the wrapped end first. These are best cooked over a charcoal grill, but will do nicely in a frying pan. Fry the pork chops over medium heat until done, turning once. I fry the pork chops in a mixture of olive oil and butter (probably a good 3 tablespoons of each).

After the pork chops are done, I drain most of the oil except for about 3 tablespoons (the bacon will add extra flavor to the pan juices). Saute 1 onion sliced, 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves minced and several mushrooms in the remaining pan drippings. Add a little white wine to the mushrooms and onions after they have nicely browned and are tender. Serve with basmati rice, fresh peas, and crusty Italian bread. For a more casual meal, omit cooking the mushrooms, and serve with potato salad, and fresh crispy pickles, and yellow mustard to serve with the pork chops.

Make extra as your children will want to eat more than one of these!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Greek Meatball Appetizers









When I was a little girl, Sunday lunch was at our house or my Aunt's house. It didn't matter where it was, there were always certain things on the table while lunch was being prepared. Greek olives (Kalamata), Feta cheese, stuffed grape leaves (if we were lucky), Greek appetizer meatballs (one of my all time favorites). and chewy crusty bread from the bakery. I still go to the International bakery on Cheshire Bridge Rd. to get delicious Greek cheeses. I don't go there often as I can't resist the baklava or other pastries.




Sitting around the table giggling with my cousins, lifting a lid on the stove, peeking in the oven were all weekly occurrences. Walking into the kitchen the aroma of Greek foods and spices wafting out into the carports, brought a feeling of great anticipation of favorite foods for lunch. I don't think I ever heard anyone say they weren't hungry, because we surely ate, and ate, and ate. Sitting at the table for hours laughing, talking, and nibbling on the foods on the table. My mom, Christina, was a great cook. She did not like lamb at all, but she made it often for the "carnivores" of the family (which was everyone else). Dad was usually the one who cooked the steaks when we had them as we liked them rare (but not cold in the middle). I know mom was probably squirming in her seat when she watched us eat it. She would eat meat, but she ate hers well done. No wonder she wasn't wild about beef. Well done beef loses so much flavor in my opinion. She would make the Greek appetizer meatballs sometimes and they were always a treat. They can be eaten hot, warm, or cold. I like them all ways. I used to dip them in yellow mustard sometimes for a change of flavor.


I had some ground chuck in the refrigerator today and decided that it had been a long time since I've made the meatballs (called keftedes in Greek).



Keftedes





Ground chuck (my pack happened to be about 1.12 pounds, but a pound will work for these ingredients




Juice of 1/2 lemon



1 small vidalia onion minced very fine


1 piece of bread made into crumbs


1 large egg


1/2 tsp. oregano


1/2 tsp. lemon pepper


1/2 tsp. salt


1 tsp. black pepper


1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves



Put the meat in a large mixing bowl. Mince the onion very fine and put in a mesh colander to drain the juices. Grate the bread with a rotary grater (it works great for fresh bread crumbs). Add onion, bread crumbs, oregano, egg, lemon pepper, salt, pepper, and juice of one half lemon to the ground chuck. Mince the parsley leaves very fine and add to meat mixture. Blend the meat mixture until all ingredients are incorporated. Form meatballs into walnut size shapes. I happen to like my "meatballer" gadget as it always makes them the same size. I made about 24 meatballs with this mixture. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil and about 1/8 cup olive oil in a large skillet. Over medium heat, cook the meatballs (about 8 at a time) about 8 minutes until done. I constantly am turning the meatballs in the oil to get them uniformly brown. After the second batch, you may need to add more vegetable oil. Drain on a paper towel lined plate until cool. Alternatively, they can be cooked over a charcoal grill (that is my favorite way to cook them). These are also great with tzaziki sauce too.

A variation on the above recipe........... I'm always changing recipes.

3/4 pound ground chuck
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 dried bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 egg
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed

Gently mix the above ingredients. Form into walnut-size meatballs. Put meatballs on oiled, flat skewers. Grill over charcoal until cooked through. Serve hot or cold.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Potatoes for Pittypat


Who, or what is a "pittypat"? I will start by saying that my mother had nicknames for many of her friends and my friends too. (some of the names I answer to are: "lisapou", "sisterbelle", "peanut", "lisamou", "lisabelle", "lise", "lee", and "ca-va"...I'm sure there are more). Patty was about 9 months older than I. I can honestly say that I've known her since the day I was born. We lived across the street from each other, our parents were the best of friends from way back until the untimely deaths of all but my father. Patty has two older brothers and so did I. Our oldest brothers were best friends too. We spent many evenings with entire families gathered together, cooking, chatting outside, going to relatives homes, etc.... Patty knew my cousins and I knew hers. Patty and I don't see each other often, but we do talk on the phone. Her birthday was yesterday and I sent her a note. How in the world does one little girl have so many names?? Patty is what I have always called her (she goes by Patricia), mom called her "Pittypat", and I think I heard "Tish" a few times too. Mom asked Patty what she wanted for her birthday one year. Patty said, "I want a pan of Greek potatoes"! Not sure if these are served in Greece or Cyprus, where mom's dad was from, but anything cooked at our house was "Greek" to our neighbors! :) Like I said, we ate at each others houses quite often. Her dad got me to try an onion ring by calling it a "Japanese Doughnut"! I think I even ate frog legs at their house once. Perhaps, that is why I enjoy so many different foods. Mom made Patty her birthday potatoes and she enjoyed every bite. I don't really measure, but it doesn't have to be exact. One version of Greek style potatoes:


I'll call them "Potatoes Pittypat"
  • 4 medium size baking potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • about 2 tsp oregano (you can add more or less to your liking)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz water
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil

13 x 9 stainless steel baking dish (I guess any kind will do, but mom always had her stainless steel pans. (leftover from the days when her and dad owned a restaurant)
Cut a baking potato in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again.
Potatoes will look like long wedges (this is the way mom always did them)
Put enough potatoes in pan to cover the bottom, leaving some room between them. I will guess four potatoes should be plenty
Cut a large onion in quarters and place in pan
Add one 8 oz can of tomato sauce on top of the potatoes and onion
Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water in bottom of pan
Sprinkle potatoes with salt, pepper, and a dash of oregano
Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes (probably 2 tablespoons total)
Bake at 350 until for 45 minutes, then raise the temperature to 400F and cook until tender
Baste the potatoes and onion about every 15 minutes or so with the liquid in the pan
I can't eat these without thinking of Patty.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Chillin' n' Grillin'"


It's summer time and my entire diet changes to a lighter fare. With all of the terrific produce, I eat a lot of salad: green salad, bean salad, cobb salads, and many others. I don't like heating up the kitchen with stews, or baked dishes as I save those for after the first frost. I could cook every meal on the grill during the summer. Today, I have decided to marinate some chicken breast for dinner. My favorite way to grill chicken is "Greek Style" based with lemon. We had lemon chicken at least once a week when I was a child and I have not tired of it yet. Especially in the summer, when grilled on an open fire, dining al fresco! Dining al fresco on the deck, enjoying a freshly grilled chicken, lamb, or souvlaki (Greek shish kabob), feta cheese, bread and salad, is the perfect ending to a summer day.

Greek Chicken

5 large chicken breast (I don't purchase boneless, skinless, chicken if I'm cooking it on the grill)
3 lemons, juiced
zest of two of the lemons
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 sprigs of lemon thyme (I grow it so, I have it handy)
(If you don't have lemon thyme, use regular thyme---it's still good!)
1 tablespoon Greek Oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil

I prepare the chicken by washing it, and trimming off the small bones. With a fork, I pierce the chicken through the skin side several times to let the marinade really get in the meat. Set aside. In a medium bowl, pour in the lemon juice, olive oil, zest. thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Blend with a whisk until thoroughly blended. Put the chicken in a large "Zip lock" bag and pour on the marinade. Seal the air out of the bag and rub the marinade into the meat a little. Set bag in a large bowl (just in case it leaks a tad), put in the refrigerator for several hours. Preheat gas, charcoal grill, or broiler. Cook over medium heat until juices run clear.

Serve with rice, green beans, Greek salad, fresh country bread, and of course Greek olives.

This would be delicious with a tzatziki sauce too!

Enjoy! :)

Labels

Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar
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