Really, stupidly, good orzo – redux

This will be breakfast tomorrow. I don’t have much experience with orzo, but this seemed pretty easy and thankfully for me, idiot proof. The biggest point is to be patient. That I can do, especially since I was trying something new. Well not really new to me to eat, just the first time I made it – more to come on that shortly, but butter was involved.

The fact that Gruyere is involved in this recipe made it a no brainier for me since I’ve had a nice bit of it in the fridge that I’d been wanting to do something with … besides just eat it. I still have nice big piece left so expect some kind of cheesy something. Maybe some kind of crackers. Gruyere has a similar dryness (not in a bad way) that cheddar does, but also has an amazing nuttiness as well. Oh, and this is the good stuff, the real stuff, imported from Switzerland. Yep – I’m thinking some kind of crackers.  Sounds like a plan.

D&D_0309My thanks to the cutting edge of ordinary for sharing. Great name by the way. Maybe there is some truth in that name for all of us.

I made a half recipe and here are the proportions and method.

Everyday Orzo
2 Tbs butter
1 small onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
8 ozs orzo
1/3 cup Gruyere, grated (no substitution per the original)

Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat, add onion and sauté until translucent. Don’t let it brown. Add garlic and sauté for a minute more. In a glass measuring cup, heat the chicken stock to boiling in the microwave.

Add orzo to onion mixture and stir to coat with butter. Add in hot chicken stock, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 25 minutes without lifting the lid – this is serious – do not uncover. While waiting patiently, grate Gruyere. After time, check orzo and make sure liquid is absorbed. Add cheese and stir to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Lemon zest just makes it, but lemon juice also does the job.

This is a creamy lovely thing. Sigh. And amazingly great for breakfast. It’s just a thing for me. I think next time some lemon will be involved.  Indeed.

This was first published on 6 August 2015.

08 May 2017

Searching for … My Mom’s Meatloaf

Lunch Box NFL American Conference

My 2nd grade lunchbox

One of my favorite things when I was a kid was a cold meatloaf sandwich with ketchup – in my NFL lunchbox. Yep – I was that girl – or that tomboy.  I had the best NFL lunchbox in second grade. I think the boys were really pretty envious.

Just ask me – which helmet meant which city – I could tell you and the team name. Who was the quarterback? Totally got that. And could tell you a few other fun facts. Hello boys from the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Daddy raised me right. At least for me he did – I’m pretty sure he wanted a boy – duh. The lunchbox choice was all mine though.

Back to meatloaf. I do not remember caring for it at dinner, but for a left-over sandwich, it was nothing less  than sublime. Why is it most kid memories seem that way? I guess it’s just a filter that you didn’t know you had.  Nonetheless, I’ve been searching for my mom’s meatloaf – not because I want to eat it when I make it, but I want it the next day in a sandwich with soft white bread and some form of ketchup.

This time I looked at 6 meatloaf recipes I have on file. They are All-American Meat LoafMartha Stewart’s Meatloaf.  Turkey Meatloaf from Trisha Yearwood (but honestly, I would pretty much never use turkey). Cracker Barrel MeatloafMeat Loaf by Ina Garten who I adore, by the way, and AB’s meatloaf.

I have made the All-American meatloaf before, but not by following the actual recipe – no surprise there – in January of this D&D_0862year, and again in February. The right kind of weather is necessary for meatloaf. It is not spring or summer food. October, yeah, that seems like meatloaf weather. It really was good and here is the mixture of these six recipes along with the things I know to be true.

1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 small yellow onion, grated
4 Tbs fresh parsley, rough chopped
1/4 Parmesan, finely grated
2 slices white bread, torn into pieces
1/4 cup milk
3 Tbs ketchup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 pound ground chuck

3 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs yellow mustard
1 Tbs Worcestershire
2 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grate the carrot and onion into a large mixing bowl. Add parsley and Parmesan. In a medium bowl, place the torn bread and milk until the bread has soaked up all the milk. Add to the large mixing bowl. Add ketchup, garlic and eggs. Mix until combined. Add the ground chuck and mix with your hands until just together.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and mold meatloaf into shape on baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire and brown sugar.  After 30 minutes is up top with glaze and bake until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Let cool

I don’t bake this in a loaf pan – that just seems yuck to me (and to Alton who I learned the trick from), especially when using ground chuck. The only problem I have with this is it does not hold together well, but I don’t want to add more eggs or binders. I had a friend tell me to use oatmeal, so I may try that – or one of the other binders, dry bread crumbs, or saltines. Worth a try. But the flavor of this, for me and the MotH, was pretty damn good. Oh, and I made a little more glaze – using the same ratios – and put it on the bread for the sandwiches – very very good. Next time though, I make simmer the glaze a bit to let it reduce and meld together a little more.

Is it my mom’s meatloaf? Not quite, but getter closer and better every time.

 

Baked Chicken with Parmesan-Garlic Crust

D&D_9648

Baked Chicken with Parmesan-Garlic Crust – Cook’s Country

Baked Chicken with Parmesan-Garlic Crust

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs – two slices pulsed in the food processor until small crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp of table salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts – cut in half and pounded to about 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine breadcrumbs, chees, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Dry chicken with paper towels and arrange in baking dish leaving room between each piece. Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Top each piece of chicken with the mayonnaise mixture. Then top with breadcrumb mixture, pressing to make sure they adhere.
Bake until crumbs are golden and thermometer in thickest part of chicken is 160 degrees about 20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges

My modifications on a Cook’s Country recipe.
25 March 2009
28 April 2009
16 February 2010
12 April 2010
28 August 2012 – Hurricane Issac
3 June 2015 – great left over the next day. Think they would make a good sandwich too, esp. when pounded thin.

Sloppy Joes

D&D_9549

Sloppy Joes

I know this was originally a Rachel Ray recipe (30 minute meals, I think), from at least ten years ago, probably more, but I’ve messed with it so much that it is not recognizable as such. This is what The Boy will inevitably request when I ask what he wants for dinner and for leftovers. He makes good use of leftovers after he gets home from work or from hanging out with his friends. I honestly have to hide some if I want leftovers for lunch myself.

1 pound ground chuck (easy to scale up)
1 yellow onion, diced
4 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs Macormick “Montreal” seasoning
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
14 oz can tomato sauce

In a large skillet, heat a couple Tbs olive oil, add onion and sauté until it begins to soften. Add ground chuck and break up as the meat cooks until it is no longer pink and onions are soft.
Add vinegar, seasoning, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce to beef. Season with salt to taste. Let this simmer for a few minutes and taste for balance. This is key and I still do it every time.  It’s important to do that now before adding the tomato sauce because all those flavors intensify and if you like them now, you’ll like them better later. Then just let is simmer for about an half an hour.

I tend to make this a day ahead, because like spaghetti sauce or chili, it’s so much better the next day. Some times I make cole slaw with this, sort of the BBQ/cole slaw sandwich thing going on and it really works. But I guess you have to be raised with the BBQ/cole slaw thing as part of your life to get it. I was raised on Eastern NC (vinegar-based) BBQ because both my parents are from there. And every summer when we went to NC, we would come home with a cooler of Revels BBQ. Damn – that was amazing stuff and I still think about it – probably too often.

Apricot and Cheddar Chicken Melt

D&D_9467

Chicken, Ham, Apricot, Cheddar sandwich

I totally had a fit about this sandwich for, well, at least a year.  And it’s been at least two years since I made it and now it’s in the rotation again. I don’t want to over do it, but it’s pretty simple if you plan ahead (marinating) and it’s amazing.

1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional in my opinion but I like them)
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6-8 ozs)
1 baguette, split horizontally, then cut in a half
1/4 cup apricot preserves
4 ozs thinly sliced tavern ham
4 ozs sharp white cheddar, grated (1 cup)

Between two pieces of plastic wrap, pound the chicken slightly until it is more even. It does not need to be super thin, just a little more even. Makes for easier (quicker) marinade and more even cooking. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a resealable plastic bag, add vinegar, mustard, garlic, and chicken. Let marinade several hours or over night in the refrigerator.

Heat broiler on low and line a baking sheet with foil. Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and place on the baking sheet, broil without turning until opaque throughout. Transfer chicken to work surface and discard foil. Reline the baking sheet with new foil.

Place baguette on baking sheet, cut side up (duh). Spread each piece with apricot preserves, layer with chicken, ham and cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

Source: Martha Stewart with my modifications.

Hamburger Steak with mushrooms and onion gravy

D&D_9434

Hamburger Steak with mushroom and onion gravy

My mom (here it is again) used to make hamburger steaks for us when I was young and I really enjoyed them.  She would heat a cast iron skillet to just about blazing and put salt in the bottom, then add the ground beef patty.  The layer of salt seasoned and kept it from sticking. Kind of like cornmeal on a pizza crust.  But for a blog, this is just more brown food. Thank goodness the MotH has a way with a camera and for that I am ever grateful.

I think this came to mind when one of my favorite places (Shaggy’s) had it on the special board a few weeks ago. Didn’t order it, but thought about all the things I like about this really simple meal. I mean, mushrooms and onions are involved. What’s not to love? Got me. I looked up several recipes, but decided to put together a version that would work for me. A bit of meatloaf idea, but not quite really.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (one piece sandwich bread)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp McCormick Montreal Seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
8 ozs mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs flour
1 cup beef broth

Process bread in food processor until finely ground. Mix, by hand, ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, black pepper, Montreal seasoning, salt, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Form into 4 patties.
Heat olive oil in skillet in medium heat. Add patties to the pan, do not crowd. Sear on both sides 3-4 minutes each. Add sliced onions to the pan and cover pan cooking for 4 minutes more. Remove patties to plate and keep warm.
Add mushrooms and cook until the release juices and start to dry out a bit. Spread flour over pan, and cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add broth.
Once gravy thickens, return patties and turn heat down to low simmer. Cover and cook for 8 minutes. Uncover and let simmer 7 minutes more. Serve warm.