Three Lab Cab

A doggone good spaghetti red!

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Pumpkin Pie, Round 2

After a successful attempt was completed at making pumpkin pie from scratch, I felt the need to improve the end results.

The first pies were great tasting but from a purely aesthetic perspective left much to be desired.  I reviewed the recipes I had used to make the original batch and found what I think will be the biggest potential for improvement.  The pre-making of the pie crusts was not done very well my first go-round. See here: http://norcalwingman.com/2013/11/24/yeah-i-want-pie/

Here are the two sources I have been using for my pies:  These can be found on my (ahem, hate to say I even have one, pinterest pages http://www.pinterest.com/norcalwingman/food-for-thought/)

http://www.momswhothink.com/pie-recipes/homemade-fresh-pumpkin-pie-recipe.html (this is the base pumpkin pie recipe, but I’ve modified it to suite my tastes, see below for mods)

and the crust http://www.momswhothink.com/pie-recipes/pie-crust-recipe.html I’ve used the non-shortening “butter” recipe.  I prepared two crusts following very closely the recipe here.

— Sadly, as the interwebs go, my source links are dead.  I’ll see if I can track down suitable replacements.

 

Looking better this time:

Pie Crusts

I used fresh pureed pumpkin from a cinderella pumpkin we got around Halloween, you can follow the directions for preparation on the pumpkin pie recipe page I mentioned above.

Anyhow, let’s get to the details.  After receiving shining praise from the normally non-pumpkin-pie-eating members of the family and others, I decided to remake the pie as I did the first time, here’s the recipe (based on recipe above, I’ve doubled it for 2 pies):

The makings of pie

Ingredients:

2 pastry crusts
4 large eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup of Clover Stornetta Egg Nog
2 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree (instructions below)
4 Tablespoons melted butter, unsalted
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoon dark molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch salt

1 cup heavy cream, cold (for whip cream topping
1/2 fl oz of your favorite bourbon
or
1 Tsp. Vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat milk, cream and egg nog in saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat.

3. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl until frothy. Add scalded milk, cream and egg nog, stirring constantly.

4. Stir in pumpkin, butter, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Whisk until thoroughly blended.

5. Pour filling into prepared crust, bake until center is firm, about 45 minutes.  (After 45 minutes I’ve found that at least with my oven I need to keep cooking another 10 minutes, so my recommendation is to go the 45 minutes then keep a close eye on your pies for proper firmness, these went about 52 minutes)

Pies into the oven

6. Cool completely on wire rack.

Cooling rack

7.  Whip cream and bourbon/vanilla extract until firm peaks form, use generously on large slice of pie

8. Eat, enjoy

 

Not Bad – Christmas Redux – Prime Rib

Ah nothing says holidays like drinking yourself silly to accommodate tolerance for extended family.  Well that and huge cuts of meat cooked to perfection.  And I’m an equal opportunist so a little of both makes for even happier holidays.

I had a revelation (no not in the biblical sense — you have to be careful what you say this time of year — ) rather a seasoning one for cooking one of the most glorious meals of the season.  I recall that I saw some cooking show that touted the best seasoning for prime rib was a rather simple one, and I’m a sucker for easy.  Four little ingredients to season up that chunk-o-meat.

1. Salt
2. Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
3. Garlic
4. Thyme

Wow, fortunately I have been thinking about cooking this roast beast for many months and started up a nice little herb garden including that little leaved wonder, thyme.

Additionally I am lucky enough to have a great grocer in town, Oliver’s Market, with whom I placed an order for a five-bone prime rib last week.  I awoke this morning with visions of (no not sugar plums) but juicy, succulent, and mouth-watering beef!  I reread the chapter in “Keys to Good Cooking, A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes” by Harold McGee on Meat.  A very good book, not a recipe book, but a great reference in best practices on cooking in general.  I highly recommend anyone who enjoys cooking pick this up!  Anyhow, back to the beef…

My roast was delivered home by “the wife” at around 10:45 am and I immediately began the preparation.  The butcher is awesome, the bone is already cut nearly through, but still attached and the roast is already tied.  I have milled about 3 tablespoons of black pepper which I rub over the entirety of the roast.  I have also cut a large bunch of fresh thyme from my herb garden and have separated out the leaves from the stems.  I then rub about 5 tablespoons of kosher salt all over the roast.  Now, the revelation…

Last time I prepared one of these I think I just used some oil and rubbed the thyme leaves on the roast with the oil to afix them to the roast.  This time, I thought, why not make some paste with the thyme and garlic.  So I cut up a cube of butter, placed three large cloves of garlic and the thyme into the mixer and blended them all together until it became a smooth paste.  It was almost like icing a meat cake!

Into the oven which was pre-heated to 525F for a quick searing (NOTE:  I wasn’t really thinking and didn’t have the hood fan blowing so the damn smoke detectors started screaming about 5 minutes after starting).  After searing for about 10 minutes, I turned the beast down to 250 and will cook it 30 minutes per pound (11 x 30 = about 5 hours).  I’ll keep tabs on the internal temperature of the meat and pull it out at about 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which should leave me a great medium-rare roast!

Prime Rib slow roasting

I’ll report back on how well this endeavor turned out and update you on the wine pairing (yet to be determined, but I’m thinking Stags Leap Cab for me) let the uninterested drink the cheap plonk.

Merry Christmas to All, and to all a sharp knife!

NorcalWingman

Incoming… Holiday Post

Wow, I can’t recall the last time I felt motivation to get some new content up on this blog.  However, today while sitting around, enjoying winter brews and football, smelling the ribs I have cooking in the oven, I felt a tug at my creative heartstrings.

I got an extra pumpkin this year when we gathered up our annual haul for the “pumpkin hunt.”  It was a Cinderella, which apparently is one of the better cooking gourds.

I am pretty excited to get this thing gutted up and roasted.  I am dying to have a really good, homemade pumpkin pie, amongst other things I’m sure I’ll be making from the puree of pumpkin.  I also took the time to harvest some of the seeds, I’m thinking this pumpkin has some good ass genes and I want a repeat performance next year!

Anyhow, I’ve been absent due to life (school, work, kid, etc… etc… etc…)  School is done for the semester in a week or so and I’ll be graduating this upcoming Spring, so hopefully the time between posts won’t be counted in months, rather in days.

Happy Holidays everyone

NorcalWingman

Not Bad, no wait, About par for a Valentines Day!

Obviously the big V-Day is a very important day in the annual cycle of days, and is especially crucial to maintaining happiness around the home.  All this aside, it’s another good day and excuse to open a really good bottle of wine and cook some decent grub to boot!

Now I know that it may seem unoriginal, uninspired and otherwise rote, but Fillet Mignon really does make a great dinner on Valentines day.

I’m lucky enough (as I’ve mentioned on several previous occasions) I have a killer market, with an outstanding butcher.  It just so happens that I got a call from “the wife” today prior to leaving the office that I should swing by the store on the way home to pick up something for dinner.  Without to much grousing, I agreed and on my way home stopped in at our Oliver’s Market.  Fortunately for me, being the day that it is, the best cut of steak was available on sale.  With an ample selection of sizes and ages I picked two of the darkest selections of Fillet, knowing that they would be the most tender and tasty!

So blah blah blah, who cares, right?  Fillet Mignon finished with blue cheese, fresh, thin asparagus, and fingerling potatoes sauteed in evoo, herbs, and garlic.  Yummy, n’uff said.

Here’s the best part, the wine.  We always put off drinking that “good” bottle for that “special” occasion.  So, today has to be one of those, right?

In case you are not interested in saving that special bottle, there’s a cool site you might be interested in: http://www.openthatbottlenight.com/  This is a great idea since we all probably have one, two, ten, twenty really kick-ass bottles that we’re “saving for a special occasion.”  This site says buck that trend and just do it.  I guess they’re the Nike of wine or something!

Okay, back to business.  “The Wife”  picked out a really decent bottle of Geyser Peak Cab, a reserve from 2007, given to her by their winemaker, and  no doubt that it would be a seriously good bottle of grape juice, but…  I wanted to kick it up a notch, Emeril style.  So I put her completely decent selection back, and grabbed a bottle that I’ve been sitting on for quite some time.  A 1999 Alexander Valley, Silver Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon.

So here’s the details:

1999 Silver Oak Cellars, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon
12.9 % ABV
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Release Date: August 1, 2003

Tasting Notes:  Herbaceous and earthy, reminiscent of many AV cabs, great fruit character, a blackberry jam (fresh, not cooked) on the mid-late palate.  Outstanding length of finish.  The color, brick to garnet.  Concentration is noticeable, but for a wine of this age very youthful.  The tannins have softened and mellowed, I would say this wine is in its prime.

Current Retail looks like $100/750ml

Again, we always save these great wines for that special moment, I’m guessing that we should be drinking these way more often!  Make yourself a great dinner and pair it up with the best you’ve got in your cellar.

Cheers and Happy Valentines Day!

Norcalwingman

Short on Time? How about a quickie!

Well if you’re lucky like me and have a 2 year old that means that your time is a resource that is in serious deficit.  Tonight I had to figure out something that would be not only be done quick, but not be demanding on my time so I could keep an eye on the little monster running amok in the living room, bathroom, kitchen and every other room in the house.

So here’s a great quickie and a surprising wine pairing.

Chicken & Dumplings

Defrost two boneless skinless chicken breasts in the microwave (approx 6-8 min)

While the chicken is defrosting, boil 3 cups of water in a saucepan add 3 cubes of chicken bullion (you could do veggie instead for less fat).  Once boiling take 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into 1/2 cup of cold water, reduce heat to low and whisk in starch/flour/water mixture and stir vigorously.

Chicken should be done by now, slice into 1/2 inch thick strips and place into 9×9 pan.  In a mixing bowl add 1 cup of Bisquick and 1 cup of low fat milk and stir until smooth.  By this time your “gravy” should be just about right.  Pour the gravy over the chicken in the 9×9 and leave about 1 to 3/4 inches of space from the lip of the pan.  Drop tablespoonful sized portions of the biscuit mix into the pan.  Cover the 9×9 pan with foil and place into an oven at 350 F for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove the foil and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

I cooked some green beans in a saute pan with some fresh chopped garlic (1 clove) and some olive oil, you should start the beans when the time goes off after the 30 minutes.

Well, that’s about it.  I did end up turning the broiler on for about 2-3 minutes to brown  the tops of the biscuits at the very end.

Total time to prep and cook this was right around 40 Minutes, from freezer to plate.

Here’s the surprise.  I had a bottle of Greek wine in the fridge, the 2009 Santorini, Boutari, Assyrtiko, I thought well, American comfort food might just pair up with this light and lively Grecian Vinological delight.  The rich and salty biscuit and gravy really gets cut through by the great acidity of this wine and the citrus of the wine pairs up with the chicken just right!

2009 Santorini, Boutari, Assyrtiko
2009 Santorini, Boutari, Assyrtiko

Yep, that’s it.  Just a quickie.  And well, I’m satisfied.
Cheers
Brian