Edna Frillmann’s Warm Potato Salad 

I have not made “German” potato salad for Thanksgiving before, but I did this year just for kicks. Once again, we shall see how this works.

I love family recipes which, based on what I’ve read, this is, from a good Lutheran family (read: German) in the Midwest. It was from the NPR show Here & Now just before Thanksgiving and well, any excuse to try a new German potato recipe – I will take it. dd_1657

1 3/4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled – my decision to use Yukon Golds
6 slices of thick cut bacon
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar

Place potatoes in medium sized pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until tender but still holding its shape. Drain well, let cool and slice into 1/4 inch slices.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Leave bacon fat in skillet.

Cook onion in bacon fat until soft. Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture is bubbly. Add water and vinegar and heat to boiling, stirring and watching carefully. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add the potatoes. Stir until all potatoes are coated. Check seasoning. Serve warm.

In my case for this Thanksgiving, I will reheat and add bacon just before serving. 

This was not bad, but did not live up to my ideal version from The Creamery. I honestly don’t think any recipe would. But I would give just about anything for that recipe. No, really, just about anything.  

Chocolate Chip Cookies – redux

I have had a habit of making cookies in the fall/winter (when the baking is so much easier) for people that I really appreciate. Especially for all the staff at the restaurants that we go to. And now it is time to start baking again for this fall, at least our version of fall – which is not saying much — sigh. dd_1578

There is a sweet boy that works at our favorite local on the beach and I have been remiss to ask his name, but I finally did last weekend and asked him what kind of cookies he liked. I think I might have scared him a bit – I mean who does that. He said chocolate chip, so this is a new version of the standard. Because Toll House Cookies are a total standard – at least for me. But I totally wanted to make some really exotic kind of cookies …  but he said chocolate chip cookies, so there we are. Simple as it is ….

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)

Preheat  oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt over a sheet of waxed paper.

In a stand mixer, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs, one at a time and then add vanilla. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually mix in flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

Drop by disher* #30 onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

* a disher is apparently a name for a cookie scoop – or an ice cream scoop. Had no idea at all, but thanks to Alton Brown I know how to determine the size of the disher. The one I had was a 40, so I then purchased a 30 and a 20.

I really liked these cookies. They were crispy on the edges and that is what I like in a chocolate chip cookie. Not a huge fan of the chewy cookie, unless they are oatmeal cookies. These seemed to go over well with the Boy, and the office. So, all in all that is a good thing. I do value the opinions of my friends and family – just as long as they are honest in their assessments. I think these were a success.

Our Summer: Blue Angels

We live in Pensacola and the Blue Angels are our home team, as it were. The first weekend after the 4th of July is always Blue Angels’ weekend on the beach, an even bigger weekend for us here than the 4th of July. Tourists come in from all over for the Blues. No, really, all over.

Since we moved to Pensacola the MotH and I have made it a tradition to go to the Thursday beach practice. It is the one most people, excepting locals, do not know about which makes it the most fun. We go to our beach local, Shaggy’s, because it is on the center line of the show it is a great show and a great place to watch from. I think this show is a little better than the homecoming show because where we watch they are pretty much direct above us, while we drink a few beers.  At the homecoming show, in November, you are behind a line that mostly the planes do not cross. Except for the sneak attack – best part of the show, in my opinion.

I am just such a fan of Bert  – do love that amazing plane. The best start ever. You do just have to experience it.

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My Bert – best bit of the Blue Angels – yep, totally.

So a few weeks ago on a Thursday we were out on the back deck of Shaggy’s and watching my personal favorite plane – Bert – better known as Fat Albert doing things a plane that large just should not be able to do – at least to my mind. This plane is just beyond amazing. I know everyone is thrilled by the jets, but a US Marine Corp Lockheed C-130t Hercules just rocks my world. Also cool – it is flown by a woman. Yep.

I am too busy enjoying myself to take pictures or video – there is a long dissertation about living in the moment that I will not get into at this point, but it will happen at some point. That said, we were watching Bert being the bad ass that she is and there were people on the deck at Shaggy’s that did not seem to notice. Wait, what?

When the jets went overhead it pretty much got everyone’s attention – they are low and loud (and awesome!!). So there was a family – wife, husband, two kids and grandma. They had NO CLUE what was going on – they were just having lunch. So they asked and I explained and then the phones came out for pictures and video to take take to their home state Missouri. The kids loved it – and so did grandma. It was fun to watch.

This is such a huge part of our life that is funny to realize some unsuspecting tourist gets a cool show they have no idea is coming. We are privileged to live here and this is one of the reasons why. There are days when you are puttering around town and see the Blues flying or you can to to practice during the week – it is our home team.

 

Steven’s Market Deli – Pace, Florida

I am a bit of a potato salad person. I will pretty much try everyone’s potato salad – it is just a thing for me. It is a measure of how well a restaurant can do something that is relatively simple. I love to make my own, but I also love to try any other version. Steven’s Market Deli caught my attention because they sold German Potato Salad – yes, I just did lots of capital letters there. But I had a real idea of where they procured that German potato salad (yes, I have now relaxed a bit, not so many capital letters), but it was so obvious it was from The Creamery – an excellent Gulf Breeze restaurant that sadly closed not too long after we moved here. I had the fading hope that after The Creamery closed that Steven’s might pick up the idea and make their own German potato salad. They did not, but that was a boon for me because it made me try their traditional potato salad. Damn skippy – that is some really good potato salad. D&D_1494

I used to work at a place very similar to Steven’s Market Deli. It was in Jacksonville and it was a cafe that also had ice cream. Hence, why I am so over ice cream. Serve it enough and you just do not care anymore. This place had a stupid name and though it thought itself a tearoom, it really was a small cute cafe that served croissant sandwiches, quiche, soup, and oddly enough a knockwurst plate with… wait for it … German potato salad. I will say this was my introduction to Twinings tea with my favorite being Earl Grey and that was a very good thing.

Well, once again, I have wondered far afield from where I started. Back to Steven’s Market Deli. Beyond getting potato salad to go, I have had their pork barbecue sandwich with cheddar and it is just amazing! – yes, it deserves the exclamation point. Chicken salad is also really good. And the stuffed grape leaves, sigh. I need to get them more often. I have not been to brunch there, but the menu looks pretty amazing – I just don’t quite get up early enough on the weekend for that. Yep – that is just me.

It seems when I go on the weekend to get potato salad (and next time stuffed grape leaves), there are always high school-aged kids. I think that is cool. And one thing that always impresses me is when I get my potato salad, these high school kids sprinkle the top of the potato salad with paprika and chives. It is just a little attention to detail that endears them to me. They do not have to do that, but they do – and to me that means a great deal. This is the kind of local establishment that I want to, and continue to, frequent. Love local restaurants.

The End of Winter (for us anyway)

Well, we don’t really have a true winter here, but it does get cold for a few days at a time. Then it warms up – then it gets cold again – then it rains –  then there is an amazing amount of pollen (damn clover) – this is winter in North Florida. I only have a limited number of long sleeved shirts to deal with season – I think 6? And way more shorts than pants. Sartorial choices.

Last weekend, Sunday was going to be “cold” by our standards (cannot wear really cute open toed shoes), and I joked at Shaggy’s the rainy Saturday prior that if there would be a fire (yes for me) on Sunday, because I would be wearing socks and that is equal to winter where we live.D&D_0670

That Sunday, I was so pleased to be able to get to the beach – because it was too cold for the locals,  and sorry tourists – it is the randomness of travel and you got stuck with “cold”weather for a beach town – no, really I am sorry about that not that I could do anything to fix it. During spring break if it is sunny and warm we locals cannot get out to our beach at all – reference: 2 weeks ago. I do not like to get stuck on the 3 mile bridge between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.  I can handle the Bob Sikes bridge traffic to the beach, but do not want to get stuck on the 3 mile. Ever.

But, last Sunday,  I felt like the happiest person when we got to Shaggy’s, There was a real wood fire. I was told it was for me. But I’m hoping all the other people who were not expecting that kind of “cold weather” appreciated it too because the place was totally packed. This is the only local restaurant that I know that has a real wood-burning fireplace and I do love it so. I am pretty sure I will not see a fire there again until November or December of this year.  We won’t talk about how the fire was started, but is was so very appreciated. I love my local. The place I am  very happy to be. Thanks you guys – you are the best!

 

Tomato Soup with spinach and mozzarella 

It is finally getting soup weather around here, after a very warm Christmas. This is a new recipe to me, but I love tomato bisque. And to me this qualifies – because you blend everything up with an immersion blender. One of my favorite tools that I got for like $15 at an Ace Hardware in Chapel Hill — how strange is that? Yep kind of strange for sure, but I do get a good bit of use out of it.D&D_1140

1 – 28 ozs can whole San Marzano tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbs olive oil
8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 ribs of celery, peeled and diced
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bay leaf, from Turkey if possible, just saying
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic vinegar

In a stock pot (or just a big pot), heat olive oil, add the chopped shallots and celery, sauté until translucent. Add sun-dried tomatoes and bay leaf and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes. With the pan moderately hot add just a bit of water, a Tbs or so, and steam the vegetables with the lid on the pot for a minute or two. Then add garlic and sauté until soft – do not let garlic get too far past barely golden. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano, and sauté a minute more. Maybe a smidgen of tomato paste here would not go amiss. Just let it get some caramelization. Always a good thing.

Add the tomatoes, and crush with spoon or spatula. Cook down for a few minutes on medium.  Add vegetable stock and cook for a few minutes more. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or more if you have more time – which you will have if you are simultaneous baking cookies. Remove bay leaf – key point. Purée with an immersion blender. Add 2 – 3 tsp balsamic vinegar, stir in and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. At this point you can refrigerate the soup for later. For me, tomato soup is like spaghetti sauce, it is always better after a couple of days. Make it on a Sunday, eat it on a Tuesday – yeah – not having to cook after work – woo hoo!

Toppings, etc

3 cups fresh spinach, washed, and dried
1 small shallot, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar*
Fresh mozzarella cut into small pieces

Sauté shallots and garlic in a Tbs of olive oil. Add spinach and toss to wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Add the spinach mix and mozzarella to the soup.

There will be a next time for my modified version of this recipe because for the soup, this is all pantry food – one of my favorite things – make dinner out of something I have just sitting around. My previous favorite tomato soup was good, but I had to get tomato juice – which I NEVER have on hand. This seems to fix that issue.

* I think next time I will make a balsamic vinegar syrup. I have had this on soups in one of my favorite restaurants (yes, that’s you Jaco’s) and I’ve seen that is dead simple to make. But in this case I think it will lend a depth to the soup.

I won’t rant about Jaco’s too much, but if your restaurant can make excellent soup – which Jaco’s does – and that means you’ve gotten certain things right. I do need to tell you all more about this place. It is excellent.
Original source: yes-more please.com/2014/03/caprese-tomato-spinach-soup/ – Although I did make  a few modifications – that seems to be a recurring theme.

Brunch – my favorite meal of the week

New website that we found that I find highly amusing. This was one of my favorites, particularly the Hierarchy of a Bloody Mary

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My favorite brunch place

I am a huge fan of brunch, especially at one of my favorite places, Jaco’s at the Palafox Pier marina in downtown Pensacola at the very end of Palafox Street. I mean the idea of sitting outside with a nice breeze and a mimosa each Sunday for nine to ten months a year. Life could be so much worse.

I do wish I could do the brunch thing everyday, but for that I would have to move to NOLA and, as much as I love that place, I wouldn’t because I would have to leave the bay and the beach. Can’t do that. Just not possible. I’ve never been happier any where than here.

So I’ll take my weekly brunch and enjoy myself. A poinsettia (champagne and cranberry) does make make me happy and three can set me up for the whole day. Even if I have to forgo brunch until there is the next weekend. Ugh. Work is just a thing.  That I hate, but there it is.