Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Spanish stuffed peppers

Stop and Shop had peppers on sale for $1 each, all the colors. I decided to buy two yellow ones with the correct shape to make stuffed peppers. I like to make stuff peppers cutting the peppers from top to bottom so they lay flat not standing up. 

I bought some quick cooking rice but on the night I decided to make the stuffed peppers I remembered that I had a package of Spanish rice that was at its expiration date. I decided to mix the package into my pound of hamburger. 

What you need:

1/4 pound of ground meat per half pepper (you can use the meat of your choice)
1 large can tomato puree
Garlic Garni spice (from Gilroy Garlic Festival)
13 by 9  pan

Turn the oven on to 375 degrees

Cut the peppers and clean. Put the ground meat into a bowl and pour the entire package into the bowl with the meal. I used Knorr. I like to use my hands for this part, I knead it with my hands until it is all incorporated. Scoop up a handful and place it in the pepper. Continue until the meat mixture has all been used. 

Open the can of puree and pour it over the peppers. Sprinkle with the spice. Spoon more sauce over the peppers. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for one hour. 

I was surprised at how easy and delicious this was. It is also a very good bargain. You can certainly feed a family quite inexpensively. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Latitude 43 Gloucester, MA.

Located on Rogers Street, directly on the waterfront in Gloucester, Latitude 43 is a popular local restaurant that offers a variety of dining options. Coming highly recommended by the docent at the Sargent House, dinner here was a greatly anticipated event.
Parking on Rogers Street can be difficult. On Thursday night a bank parking lot became the obvious choice but having to dine with the possibility that one’s car may be towed is less than perfect. Latitude 43 has its own parking lot, small but with an early reservation a spot was available. That took a lot of stress out of what should be a relaxed dining experience. 
Three dining options are offered here, the pub, the sushi pit, and the restaurant. This writer was in the restaurant. An outdoor deck is available but thundershowers were predicted and did occur during the meal so the indoor option was a good choice. The entire wall is glass however so boats and glimpses of water are offered. At one point, the entire sky was filled with seagulls, it was quite impressive.
The choices are extensive here and not all of them are seafood, steak, chicken, pork, and pasta are also offered. While there were no specials, there is the Baked Local Day Boat Fish and on this day it was haddock with crumbs and beurre blanc, boiled red potatoes, and seasonal vegetables.
The starters are eclectic and offer some excellent choices. This couple tried the fried oysters which are served with Creole aioli and the watermelon salad which includes marinated feta and baby arugula in addition to the watermelon. Both were satisfying choices. The oysters were succulent, cover in a light breading and so juicy they literally burst in your mouth. The watermelon salad was very refreshing with the salty feta and the peppery arugula lightly dressed with an orange chili dressing.

Service was excellent from the minute the restaurant was entered. Drinks were received quickly, orders were taken in a timely fashion; the waiter was well informed about all the menu items. It was a lovely experience.
For entrees, the salmon with pineapple salsa, sweet potato and spinach and the day boat fish were ordered. The fish was excellent on both plates, the salsa has quite spicy and added a nice flavor. The vegetables except for the spinach were a little undercooked. Keeping the color is one thing, but in a potato, hard is hard and not all that appealing. It was a small flaw in an otherwise excellent meal.

One bite of the key lime pie and strawberry shortcake and all was forgiven. The key lime is killer, so tart and sprinkled with coconut and the strawberry shortcake, made with fresh strawberries and real whipped cream was perfect, there is just is not another word for it.
It was a very fine meal with great service in a restaurant that knows how to provide a good time. Latitude 43 would be a perfect restaurant for a first date or a special occasion. There was soft music playing, the tables are far enough apart for quiet conversation and there are plenty of drinks and food choices. 
The patrons run the gamut from families with children to seniors, young adults, and girlfriends. Some people were dressed to the nines and others were in short and tanks, the important thing was, no one felt out of place. It is all good here. Casual yet sophisticated, comfortable but with that special something. It is a place you will want to return to again and again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cal's Place Belleview Florida

If you are looking for a fancy place for breakfast or lunch, keep on looking but if you are looking for good food, lots of locals and great service, then come on down to Cal's Place. We ate lunch here on a warm March day and now we understand why the locals have made this such a popular place. 

I ordered a patty melt, it is one of my favorite things to order on a first visit, it is hard to screw up I always figure. I didn't have to worry here, the patty melt was everything it should have been,  nice juicy burger on rye bread with cheese and grilled onions. Al got a tuna melt.  When he doesn't know what he is in the mood for that is what he gets. He was completely satisfied. French fries are pedestrian just the typical frozen ones.

My brother and sister in law both got the Reuben, it is their favorite lunch here and this is where they come when they are in the mood for one.  

I really liked their coleslaw and I am not easy to please. I had a half and half tea with my meal and including tip, all four of us ate our fill for about $45 including a generous tip. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How to boil pasta

Italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world. Many Italian dishes call for pasta. It is a relatively simple thing to do, boil pasta. And yet, there is an art to making it perfectly every time. Many recipes call for al dente pasta. It is all too easy to end up with a sticky, soggy mess. Here are a few tips to help you have perfect pasta every time. It isn't so hard to learn how to boil pasta.

Many types of pasta are available.  You can choose macaroni, spaghetti, lasagna, tortellini and many, many more. Boiling all of these types of pasta is different. Some cook very quickly and others take longer. It is very important to read the package directions for suggestions about the length of boiling time. The time may not be exact but it gives you a place to start.

If you are cooking a pound of pasta, you need at least a five or six-quart pan to hold the water. You will need four to five quarts of water to cook a pound of pasta. Especially if you are cooking long pasta like spaghetti or linguini you need to make sure they will be covered by the water without having to break them.

Add your water to the pan and bring it to a rolling boil. Do this with the temperature at high. You will want to add 1-2 tablespoons of Kosher salt to the water once it has begun to boil. This will not make your pasta salty so don't worry, it will, however, enhance the flavor.

Add the pasta all at once. You want it all to reach the correct texture at the same time. Use a wooden spoon or tongs to give the pasta a quick stir as you place it in the pot. Give it an occasional stir for the first few minutes. This will keep the pasta from sticking to the pan and to the other pieces of pasta.

Read the package directions but only use them as a guide. You need to test a piece two or three minutes before the package says they will be done. If it is still too hard try again in another minute. As soon as it feels right, take the pot off the heat and add a quart of cold water to stop the boiling process. Pour the water and pasta into a colander to drain.

Place the pasta back into the pan off of the heat as soon as possible to retain some of the warmth. Add the sauce of your choice and toss. You are now ready to serve the perfect pasta dish to your family and /or friends. Learning how to boil pasta correctly will serve you well, you can make so many delicious meals once you have this skill mastered.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cookbook review: Fix-it and Forget-It New Cookbook by Phyllis Good

While this cookbook by been out since 2013 it is a new one for me. I love Ollies and I never leave there without getting a couple new cookbooks. This one was a recent find and I love it already. It has plenty of photos which is something I really enjoy and the recipes are mostly simple and cooked in a slow cooker. 

250 new recipes make this a book that can give you a lot of new ideas for things for dinner, breakfast, lunch and brunch. Oh let's not forget dessert, plenty of those too. 

The book begins by letting you know that you can use your slow cooker year round not just in the cold weather months and it also offers some hints about what is the best slow cooker for you. She has a section called 'Things you'll be happier knowing" to help you with your slow cooker cooking. All and all, read the beginning of this book, you'll be glad you did.

While many of the recipes are easy, there are some that are challenging so if you are not a novice, don't worry, there is plenty for you to enjoy.

I have not had time to try any of the recipes yet but I have looked at it several times already cover to cover and I know that I will be trying some of these recipes very soon. This cookbook is a keeper. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Frosting that isn't too sweet

If you're making a cake, whether it's from scratch or from a box, you might also consider making your own frosting. Cakes can be quite sweet on their own, so it's a good idea to make frosting that's a little less sweet. 

There are several different ways you can do this, and following are a few ideas for making frosting that is not quite as sweet as the average icing.

Chocolate whipped cream frosting
This is an easy frosting to make. All you need is a pint of whipping cream and an instant chocolate pudding mix. Make your whipped cream as usual, but don't add sugar or vanilla. Instead, when the cream starts to form peaks, mix in the contents of the small box of instant chocolate pudding. You can then spread this onto the cake or cut your cake and place a dollop on each piece. It is delicious and inexpensive to make.  The flavor of pudding can of course be changed to vary the recipe.

Helen Evans Brown chocolate frosting
This recipe is a big hit for dark chocolate lovers. Kids may find it a bit too intense. If that happens, you can replace the semi-sweet chocolate bits with milk chocolate, which will definitely ramp up the sweetness.

The recipe is from a James Beard Cookbook. Melt 5 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate bits in a double boiler or in the microwave, mix in 1/2 cup of sour cream and a pinch of salt. That's it! So simple and so delicious. It is good enough to eat by the spoonful as a treat. I have to admit, this is my go to chocolate frosting. 

Cream cheese frosting
There are many cake recipes that call for cream cheese frosting: carrot, pumpkin, zucchini and red velvet, to name a few. This recipe comes from My San Francisco Kitchen blog and is traditional but adds less sugar than other recipes call for. You only need four ingredients, an 8-ounce block of cream cheese, 1 cup of confectionery sugar, 1/4 cup of unsweetened butter and a teaspoon of vanilla.

When you are looking for a frosting that is not cloyingly sweet, any of these recipes will fit the bill nicely. All of them are simple to make, require no special equipment and are made from items that you probably already have in your pantry and fridge.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Bacon wrapped filets from Omaha Steaks

First, let me apologize for not taking pictures. This was the first filet I have ever cooked and I was so busy watching it and trying not to turn two beautiful bacon wrapped filets from Omaha Steaks into shoe leather that I never thought of my camera. 

I went online to get the suggested cooking method since it is not on the box they come in. The first place I looked suggested either grilling or broiling, neither of which I wanted to do. I had to google specifically that I wanted to cook it in a frying pan. 

I put a little olive oil and butter in my nonstick frying pan and then put the heat on high. I seasoned the filets with my favorite steak seasoning and a little salt and pepper. I seared the filets on all sides and after about 9 minutes I started taking the temperature with my new thermometer. I took Al's out at 120 degrees and then kept cooking mine. He likes rare and I like medium well. 

I have to tell you, they were both perfect. So tender you could cut it with a dull butter knife. I was very impressed with the taste as well. I can tell that I am going to become a regular customer of Omaha Steaks.