Sunday, December 13, 2009


I have a Capresso Burr Grinder. It works fine, but generates a ton of static electricity so the ground coffee flies in all directions when I pour it from the receptacle to my drip coffee maker. I use setting 3.5 for drip coffee. One thing I have started doing is to add a very small amount of water to the beans (dip my finger in water and stir the beans once or twice with my wet finger). This seems to help a little, but I would like to find a better way. Maybe the coarser grind for a press pot will help?

I just bought a 4-cup (32 oz.) French Press and am going to give it a test run.

First try on grind and amount. I am setting the grinder at 9 (coarsest) and use a heaping 1/2 cup of beans (my shortcut). Most coffee sites say use 2 level tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 oz of water. Coffee Geek says use 1 rounded tablespoon per 4 oz. For a full 32 oz. of coffee, this means a range of 8 to 10.7 tablespoons of ground coffee. My experience shows that a 1/2 cup of beans comes to about a 1/2 cup of ground coffee. 1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons. 10 tablespoons = 5/8 cup.

Some great notes on French Press coffee making at Coffee Geek.

Some other notes: 4 cups = comes up to the level marked "7" on my drip coffeemaker.

Result: Worked fine, but the coffee could be stronger. More beans next time.

Friday, October 2, 2009


My kids didn't like The Pioneer Woman's cornbread. This recipe came out sweeter and slightly more cakelike.We all liked it better. Thanks to Martha Stewart:

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

1 large egg
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Whisk together egg and buttermilk; stir into flour mixture.

Melt butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in oven. Remove skillet; swirl to coat bottom. Pour in batter. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Angel Hair Pasta With Shrimp and Broccoli

From Below is their recipe with their proportions. In practice, I pretty much doubled it because I wanted to cook the entire box of spaghetti. Note that while this is an easy recipe, everything cooks in about 5 minutes so you have to start it all at once and keep track so nothing overcooks.

8 1/4-inch medium shrimp (I used frozen, pre peeled&deveined)
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of broccoli, cut up
8 oz. angel hair spaghetti

Toss together: Shrimp, garlic, salt and pepper, 4 tablespoons olive oil. Marinate the shrimp for 3 hours in the refrigerator.

After marinating, remove the garlic pieces.
Add 3 tablespoons butter.

Cook pasta making sure it’s ready at or nearly when Broccoli and Shrimp are ready.

In a large saucepan, add broccoli and bring to a boil. Drain and return to saucepan; cover.
Editor's Note: Do not overcook. Broccoli will continue to cook after removed from heat. It should be a bright green color - emerald green, not olive green. Olive green indicates the broccoli has overcooked.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons butter. Add shrimp and saute, tossing often.

Toss everything together. Serve.

I wound up marinating the shrimp for about 5-6 hours.
This came out great with raves all around.
Next time I might substitute small shells for angel hair.
This might be a good recipe to pour the pasta over broccoli in colander method to cook the broccoli.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spaghetti with Butter and Parmesan With Peas

This recipe is from Mark Bittman's web site:

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 tablespoons (1/2 to 3/4 stick) butter (I used 5 tablespoons)
1 pound long pasta, like linguine or spaghetti, or any other pasta
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
About 1 cup cooked peas (I used a 9 oz package of baby sweet peas)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

Meanwhile, bring the butter to room temperature (you can soften it in a microwave, but don't melt it). Put it in a warm bowl.

Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy; drain it, reserving some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the butter, adding a little of the water if necessary to thin the sauce (I used about 2-3 oz). Toss with the Parmesan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the peas, and serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan at the table.

This recipe is almost word-for-word with the original. It's easy to make and is delicious.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anthony’s Spicy Bacon Pasta

From Chicagoist:

4 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch wide strips

1/2 of an onion, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon of Rosemary (I used dried)
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (or more, if you like it that way)

1 16-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, chopped (I used Red Gold brand diced)
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce (Red Gold brand)

1 box of pasta (Rotini)

Bring a pot of water to boil.

Sauté the bacon over medium-high heat in a heavy pan (11" cast iron skillet) for 3 minutes.

Add the onions and garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Add the rosemary, sugar and red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes (with juices) and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to low heat and simmer.

Start cooking the pasta. Stir the sauce occasionally, and when the pasta is done, the sauce should have reduced into a thick, red-brown savory ooze of tastiness. Drain the pasta, combine with the sauce and serve!

This was delicious. I added salt and pepper at the end to balance the spices. I had mine with Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout which made for a nice pairing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beans and Cornbread

I'm paraphrasing this recipe from The Pioneer Woman (she rocks).

4 Cups Dried Pinto Beans
4 Slices Thick-sliced Bacon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

Rinse beans under cool water. Remove anything that ain't beans. Throw the beans into a pot. Cover beans with 2 inches of water. Slice bacon into into 1-inch pieces and put them in the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours, until beans are tender. Add water to pot as needed. Beans should have a thick broth.

Add salt and pepper. Stir together well and check the seasoning. I left it this way, but think I might try adding some chili powder next time.

1 Cup yellow corn meal
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Cup buttermilk
1/2 Cup regular whole fat milk
1 (large) egg
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 Cup melted shortening (Crisco)
2-3 tablespoons shortening for pan

Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat (or in a hot oven) to get it pretty hot. Preheat oven to 450.

Add 2 or 3 tablespoons shortening to the skillet. Make sure to melt the shortening in the hot pan before you pour in the cornbread batter. This is the secret to the crispy, brown outside.

Combine yellow cornmeal, flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, add 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup regular milk and 1 egg. Stir together until combined.

Add baking powder and stir together. Add baking soda and stir together.

Pour this into the cornmeal/flour mixture and stir together until just combined.

Add 1/4 cup shortening to a microwave-safe dish and microwave until melted (took mine about 60 seconds at full power).

Pour melted shortening into the bowl stirring constantly until combined.

Now pour batter into hot skillet. It will sizzle around the edges.

Even out the batter on top, then bake in a 450-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cajun Fried Potatoes and Sausage

This would have been a Cajun dish if I found Andouille sausage. As it happened, the best I could find was a smoked beef sausage from Eckrich. I also approximately halved the recipe for tonight. I found this recipe here.

6 potatoes, peeled and sliced (red potatoes)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (used regular Kosher salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped (yellow medium onion)

Place sliced potatoes in a large bowl of cold water and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse and replace water and allow to sit for an additional 10 minutes; drain and blot dry with paper towels.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to skillet and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add potatoes, peppers, seasoning salt and pepper. Cover, lower heat to medium, and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and cook mixture until ingredients are tender, about 3 more minutes.

I sliced the potatoes about 1/4 inch. A little thinner would have been a little better.
I used my cast iron skillet. Easy clean up.
The meal tasted great and is a keeper recipe. I ate mine with Bell's Amber Ale. Yummm...

I used chorizo from Garden Fresh Market to make this on 9/18. Better all around.

Potato Information

With the exception of baking, I never remember which type of potato is best for what purpose (like pan frying, boiling, or mashing). I got this guide from The Cook's Thesaurus.

Potatoes with a high starch content, like russets, bake well and yield light and fluffy mashed potatoes. Those with a low starch content, like red-skinned potatoes, hold their shape after cooking, and are great for making potato salads and scalloped potatoes. Medium starch potatoes are called all-purpose potatoes, and they'll work in most potato dishes.

Best for baking: russet potato

Best for potato salads, gratins, and scalloped potatoes: Yellow Finn potato, new potato, red-skinned potato, white round potato, and purple potato

Best for mashing: russet potato, Yukon gold potato, Caribe potato, and purple potato

Best for soups and chowders: Yukon gold potato, Yellow Finn potato, red-skinned potato, white round potato, and purple potato

Best for pan-frying: red-skinned potatoes, white round potatoes, new potatoes, and fingerling potatoes

Best for French fries: russet potato, purple potato, Bintje potato

Best for purees: fingerling potatoes

Best for roasting: new potatoes, Bintje potatoes

Best for steaming: new potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes

Best for potato pancakes: russet potato, Yukon Gold potato

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shells and Broccoli

This is a really easy recipe that I found here.

1/3 cup pignoli (pine) nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (I used fresh Parmesan Reggiano)
1 pound small shells (I used medium)
4 cups broccoli florets

Heat large pot of water to boiling for pasta. Toast pine nuts at 350 degrees F in oven until golden (6 to 8 minutes) or brown them in a skillet. Watch them carefully, or they will burn. Transfer to large serving bowl. Stir in oil and Parmesan.

Cook pasta until tender but firm to the bite. Place broccoli in colander and pour pasta and water over the broccoli. (The hot water will blanch the broccoli.)

Add pasta and broccoli to the ingredients in bowl. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

I bought a 2 oz package of pine nuts. This was slightly more than 1/3 cup.
I toasted the pine nuts in a skillet over a medium flame. It was easy to see when they were done.
The dish was pretty bland as cooked. I added a little salt and red pepper flakes which improved it somewhat, but I think it needs garlic, more oil and more Parmesan cheese.
This method worked well to cook the broccoli.

I probably will look for another recipe when I want to repeat this dish. This one (Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli) looks promising. Mark Bittman also has some nice ideas.


From Simply Recipes. I keep having to look this up for the occasional times I make lemonade.

1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice

Make simple syrup by heating 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

Use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.

Put 3 to 4 cups of cold water into a pitcher. Add the lemon juice and the sugar water to the pitcher.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Marinated Flank Steak

I have about a pound of flank steak (Sunset $9.99/lb) marinating in this:

1/2 cup soy sauce (Kikkoman, always)
1/2 cup cooking sherry
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 heaping tablespoons minced ginger (Oh, $%^&, I used 3)
3 to 5 cloves minced garlic (3 huge ones)
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (forgot this, added it halfway thru)

The recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. I also scored the steak with 1/4 inch deep cuts about an inch apart  across the grain of the meat as suggested by simply recipes.

Later today, I'll be cooking the steak. Not sure if I will be using the grill or the oven. She used a grill pan.

By the time I cooked the steak, it had been marinating about 20-24 hours. I removed it from the bag and coated both sides with kosher salt and pepper (as suggested by simply recipes). I grilled it on a gas grill on high for 5 minutes per side. I let the meat rest for 10 minutes under a loose foil cover. The resulting steak cut easily and was tender, but perhaps a little too well done. Taste-wise I would say it was a little too salty which I'm pretty sure had to do with the salt coating. I will say that the marinade was good and I loved the taste of the ginger, garlic and soy, but the flavors of the sherry, honey and oil were lost, probably in the salt. Still, an easy dish which can be made ahead. Another web site (can't remember or find it) suggested bagging several of these and putting them in the freezer to save time the next time you want to cook it (the steak marinates as it defrosts). Finally, Mark Bittman has an interesting marinade using lime juice. He also suggests drying the steak well with paper towels before grilling. I seem to remember reading about this suggestion for grilling meat. It leads to better grill marks since the surface moisture does not have to boil off which steams the meat and cools the grill surface slightly. I think this was what the salt coating was supposed to do, but it added too much salt flavor.  

Next time:
Use toasted sesame oil
No salt coating.
Pat dry meat before grilling
Grilling time: about 4 minutes on a side.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cold Noodles With Sesame Sauce

I selected this recipe for a picnic and it was easy to prepare, traveled well and it tasted great. I served it with Edamame and an Australian Red Cabernet (can't remember which one) which was OK. Next time I think I'll pair it with a Porter or Brown Ale.

The original recipe is here.

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used Jif Extra Crunchy)
1/4 cup water or chicken broth (water - I was lazy)
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. (10 Tbsp) soy sauce (Kikkoman)

2 Tbsp. sesame oil (Toasted Sesame Oil from Trader Joe's)
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (Heinz)
3 Tbsp. honey
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 2)
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil (Canola)
Salt to taste
Ichimi Togarashi to taste (about a tsp)

1 lb. cooked, cold thin spaghetti (Barilla)
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
3 to 4 scallions, chopped (I used 4 - I like scallions)
1 med. cucumber, sliced in strips (seeds removed)

Cook spaghetti, drain and set aside. While it's cooking, prep the scallions and cucumber. The sauce can be made while the spaghetti cooks. It's easy to interrupt the process of making the sauce and it won't affect the result.

Combine peanut butter, water and soy sauce in microwave bowl. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap (be sure to leave vent hole) and heat for 20 to 30 seconds on medium-high. Stir and repeat until peanut butter is melted. Do not overcook. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Pour over spaghetti and mix thoroughly. Top with scallions, cucumbers and sesame seeds. Serve cold. (Can be made ahead.) Add some red pepper flakes for more heat if desired.

Some final comments. For the best, freshest looking dish, add the scallions, cucumbers and sesame seeds right before serving. You might also top with some additional broken up raw peanuts if you want.