Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Filet Mignon et Accompaniments

I had recently bought some meats from Omaha Steaks
so this past weekend I decided to pull out the
filet Mignons from that purchase and fire up the grill.

But first I wanted to make bruschetta.

This is not rocket surgery, folks.
No need to measure, sweat and pray.

Just put in what you like in the amounts that taste good and 
you have a winner.

The ingredients and amounts, more or less:
1 pint grape tomatoes, diced
 (but any tomatoes that have some flavor will do)
1/4 cup onion, diced,
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
splash good balsamic vinegar (not shown)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
pinch kosher salt
pinch freshly cracked black pepper

Taste and adjust flavors as needed.

Lightly toast French bread that has been cut 
into 1/2" slices on a bias.*

*I cooked the whole defrosted baguette on the grill and 
then cut it into slices.

As wonderful as this tastes now, 
can you imagine how this would taste with homegrown tomatoes?

And now for the stars of the meal.

A few hours before cooking, 
I placed the meat on a rack over a plate and seasoned them
liberally with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, 
and extra virgin olive oil.

These went back into the fridge until just about an hour before
they were to go onto the grill.

I had also pulled some butter out of the fridge to let it warm
and mixed it with an equal amount of Gorgonzola blue cheese.

After preheating the grill, 
I cooked the filet Mignons to medium rare and grilled some
corn on the cobs.

The corn took much longer than the steak did to cook.

Dinner is served.

And what a fine dinner it was.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Welcome to the Garden

The garden is flourishing,
despite my neglect as I have had more pressing matters 
on my mind lately.

 The ever lovely Dr. Huey Rose. 

 Salvia.  I think.

Damn, I didn't label it.

Gertrude Jekyll.

I wish you could smell this rose.
The scent would take you back to your grandmother's garden.

Pincushion flower.

A rose carpet or something in bloom.  

Another genetic wonder of the rose world in  bloom in my garden.

Rainbow's End, with all the delightful colors on display at once.

As the flowers age, they go from yellow to orange to pink.

This is a miniature rose, in case you are interested.

Campanula or bell flower.  

And finally, meet my friend, Croakie.  
Just don't make any sudden movements.

He's a bit skittish.

The other day I went out onto the deck and opened the umbrella
only to find Croakie looking up at me as if to say,
"Hey, what are you doing here, invading my space?"

Never the less, we spent the next few hours in peaceful
cohabitation while I read and he sat in his cup.  

Finally I decided to call it a day and I enclosed Croakie back into his 
umbrella cocoon. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms for a Meatless Monday Dinner

Recently I had a delicious stuffed portabella mushroom at 
at a UClub lunch
And although that portabella mushroom was much too large
for me to finish, I wanted to recreate that recipe.

I was on a mission.

 I even paired the portabella mushroom with a wild rice pilaf.
Can't you just feel the healthy?

And by the way, 
I read a piece today on the Huff Post that suggested 
that it isn't eating homemade foods that will lead to longer lives
(as much as ten years),
but cooking those homemade foods that will.

So, if you want to live longer, healthier lives,
get in the kitchen and cook!

 The ingredients for three stuffed portabella mushrooms :

2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
the stems of the portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 rib celery, minced
1/4 summer squash, minced
1/4 carrot, minced (not shown)
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Parmiginao Reggiano
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

 While I sauteed the veggies for the stuffing,
I drizzled some olive oil on the gills of the portabella mushrooms
and placed them in a 450 degree toaster oven for about 10 minutes.

 I added the Panko bread crumbs to the mix.

These sauteed for about ten minutes.

Then we tossed them with the cheeses and decided that 
we had a winner.

 The melted cheeses helped the toppings to stick together.

These went back into the toaster oven for about 15 minutes.

 The decision?

This is a keeper!

Even the uber-picky Mr. Foodie liked this dish.

 Oh, and we had entertainment while dining.

Cats and their catPads.

Now I've Heard Everything

Ladies and Germs, 
May I have your attention please!
For the mere asking price of One Million Dollars,
You too can own a 23 foot by 12 foot garage spot 
slap dab in the middle of the City that Never Sleeps,
otherwise known as the Big Apple, 
 or to you plebeians, New York City.

Um, for that price,
I think I'll take a cab.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Can You Say a Day Late and a Dollar Short?

Yeah, we were on the very edge of the solar eclipse today,
but I still held out hope that we be able to catch sight of 
the eclipse of the sun.

 Hm, apparently not so much much.

 Don't know what's happening with those "mountains."

 I do like these clouds, though.

 And I really like these pictures of my miniature rose,
"Rainbow's End."

 As the blossoms age, they go from yellow, to orange, to pink.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My New Grill and Murphy's Law

The old grill was ten years old and I had already replaced the guts once.
At this point, its performance was suspect at best and the results were nearly always disappointing.

I knew it was time to get a new grill.
The dear husband finally agreed.

Naturally I did some research and found the best grill I could
for the amount of money I had available to me.*

It uses "Tru infared(tm)" technology so that there are no hot or cold spots on the grill surface.

That sounded appealing as I was tired of having a warmish area and a cooler area on my old grill.  It had gotten to the point that I had to rely on flare-ups for the food to attain any grill marks.

*In the latest Consumer Reports ranking on grills, all of the top performers were $1,000 or more.  Definitely outside of my budget.  But my grill did get decent enough marks for me.

 I purchased the unassembled grill today and then the Foodie Boyfriend and I spent about an hour and a half putting this together.
And why can't they make assembly directions clearer?
We both grumbled and groused,
but it finally came together.

Then it was time to grill dinner.

And Murphy's Law kicked in:
we ran out of propane!
Yep.  Who'da guessed?

So I sent the Foodie Daughter and Foodie Boyfriend off
with the empty tank and some money, with directions to find someplace to exchange the empty tank for a full one.

I was not going to be denied my first meal!

 Finally, we were back in business.

The inaugural meal was boneless pork loin chops rubbed with brown sugar, kosher salt and cracked black pepper, skewers of fresh pineapple, and quartered new red potatoes that had been par-cooked in the microwave for 7 minutes before being tossed with olive oil, kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

I cooked the pork until it reached an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

The meat was moist and tender and we had grill marks!
The meal was worth the wait.

This grill is a keeper.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Yet Another Lunch at the University Club

This time the occasion was the Old Board/New Board Lunch.

This is the one board meeting where we are treated to lunch
and as the name suggests, both the outgoing and the incoming
board members are in attendance.

Usually, the board meetings are working brown bag lunches.

And here's an interesting tidbit: 
IMU rules state that no food from outside restaurants 
can be brought onto the premises.  
One can bring food from home or pick up food from the grocery store 
or buy food from one of the restaurants on site.

 We started out with a salad of mixed greens, 
julienned cucumber, and roasted tomatoes in a light vinaigrette.

 The entree choices were Wasabi Chicken over a bed of rice, 
grape tomatoes, and sauteed snow peas,

or Stuffed Portobella Mushroom with the same accoutrements.

As I am famously allergic to chicken,
I chose the stuffed Portabella entree.

This was as large as it looks.
I could only eat half of it.

It was also wonderfully tasty.
Some of the ingredients that I was able to identify 
were red onion, red bell pepper, yellow squash, 
and fresh parsley, with a bread crumb topping.

I will have to work on recreating this dish.

 The much anticipated finale to the meal was an 
ice cream ball,
which was a scoop of vanilla ice scream, rolled in chopped 
pecans and doused with a rich chocolate sauce.

I could only eat half of mine and I was teased mercilessly 
about that.
Haven't people ever heard about lactose intolerance?

At any rate, I traded in my old job and got "promoted."
Lucky me.

 While driving through town today,
I noticed something odd:
There were brains!
Huge brains.

And there's another one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wine Tasting Luncheon at the University Club

I had been working with a diverse group of people 
the last few months in order to put together this 
wine tasting luncheon featuring wines from Oliver Winery
and the fine culinary creations of Chef Damian Esposito.

It was a complicated endeavor to coordinate
between IMU Catering, Oliver Winery, and the University Club,
but we eventually got all the details ironed out and all the 
plans set in place.

Fortunately, I had a wonderful co-chair and club manager
at my side to help and guide me along the way.

After the wine tasting back in February,
Chef Esposito began working on the menu
based on the wines we picked.

 The first wine was Creekbend Vidal Blanc and was paired 
with a Stuffed Cherry Tomato with Boursin Cheese.
I was on hostess duty, so no pictures.

The Creekbend label means that the grapes were grown locally.

I think I have found a new favorite wine.

After we were seated,
the first course was served.
This was a Tian of Pickled Melon, Grilled Red Onion,
and Watercress with Sweet Lemon Vinaigrette.

The wine for this course was Pinot Grigio.

The Chef's thought was that the dry wine
would pair nicely with the sweet and peppery salad.
I think he was on to something.

And I really liked this salad.

 The entree was Chili Roasted Duck with 
Fig and Feta Polenta,
Stir-Fried Snow Peas,
and Port Wine Demi-glace.

The vegetarian option was
Grilled Spiced Tofu with Stir-Fried Snow Peas
and  Pasrmesan Basil Polenta with Mint.

A light, summery red wine, Valdiguie accompanied the dish.
This is a lighter alternative to a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

The duck was moist and tender and the port wine demi-glace
was very tasty. 
The figs were an unexpected and interesting addition to the polenta.
I have to admit that outside of a Fig Newton(tm), I have never had a fig before.
I think I like them.
And once again, I liked the play of the sweet against the savory.
I appreciate it when I don't feel the need to reach for the 
salt and pepper shaker.
That means that the chef has done his job.

 Finally dessert was served:
Key Lime and Blueberry Bombe with Graham Cracker,
Candied Orange, and Raspberry Drops.

This was topped with a disk of dark chocolate that had been
printed with a golden design.
This dessert was almost too pretty to eat.

Dessert was served with White Sangria.
This wine had just been released.

Our special guest was Bill Oliver, the son of the man
who started the winery in 1972.
Bill Oliver started working at the winery in 1983.

He explained the wines to us and told us a bit about
the winery.
We learned that Oliver Winery is the largest winery
east of the Mississippi.

They make a wide variety of wines
and chances are that you can find Oliver wines near you.

Many thanks to Oliver Winery without whom this would not be possible
and my deepest appreciation to Chef Esposito.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Hoosier Classic 
- the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Many Hoosiers would argue that the
Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
is the unofficial state sandwich of Indiana.

I would have to agree with that assessment
and I happen to love a good breaded pork tenderloin.

Happily, I have finally figured out how to make this
Hoosier classic at home.

But first, the money shot.

And yes, a proper breaded pork tenderloin should always be larger than the bun.

Here is the assembly line.

I purchased pork tenderloins that had been run through a

First I generously salted and peppered them.
They were dredged in flour and the excess was shaken off.
Then they were dipped in an egg wash 
(one egg mixed with a generous amount of water).
Finally, they were coated in plain dried bread crumbs.

These then went back into the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
This is an important step: allowing the coating to "set" on the meat ensures that when the meat cooks, the coating will not "blow out" or separate from the meat.

Take out of the refrigerator about one hour before cooking so that the meat can come to room temperature before frying.

Deep frying is the key to making a successful breaded pork tenderloin.
Not to worry about it being greasy, though.
As long as the oil is at the correct temperature, the meat will be moist and tender, but not greasy.

Once the oil has reached 350 degrees, 
gently drop one tenderloin in and fry on one side until golden brown.
Turn and fry on the other side for another couple of minutes.

Remove to a cooling rack that is set over a baking sheet
and place in a 250 degree oven while continuing to cook the remaining tenderloins.

As the process goes on, you may find that it will take less time for the remaining tenderloins to cook.

Traditionally, a breaded pork tenderloin is served on a bun with catsup, mustard, onion, lettuce, pickles, and a slice of tomato.

I was at home, so I opted to have mine with homemade barbecue sauce, honey mustard, onion, pickles, and Swiss cheese.
I served this with Green and Gold salad and we were happy Hoosiers.

This is one dish you really should try.
Trust me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Early May Garden

The days and nights have been warm
and the garden has flourished.

 The mailbox garden is looking nice.

 Baptisia australis or false blue indigo.

 Bearded iris.

 Another bearded iris.

 Tradescant, an English rose.

 Another English rose, whose name escapes me at the moment.

 This is the rootstock, Dr. Huey.  
The original rose died.
I like Dr. Huey, so I have kept it.
Many modern roses in this climate are grafted 
onto Dr. Huey as it is a strong rootstock.

 Yet another bearded iris.

 My foxgloves are doing wonderfully.

 The Money or Honesty plant is going to seed.
This plant is grown for the decorative seed pods.


 Oenothera speciosa, or showy evening-primrose.

 Nigella, or love-in-a-mist.

 Lambs ears.




 Another one.

 And another one.


You don't want to brush against this plant when it is wet,
or you will find that will be dyed purple.

 Clematis going to seed.

 Gertrude Jekyll flowering up through the 
butterfly bush.

 A garden vignette.

 The mock strawberries are fruiting.
These are not good eating.
But they are pretty, so they are staying in my garden.

 The first garden bouquet of the season.

 Oh no, not again!!


Those Mutinus elegans.  Phft.