Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sara's Birthday Celebration

I've been blessed with the BEST In-laws! Friday night we all got together for dinner at "Mercury Grill" to celebrate Sara's 70th Birthday. I must say, the food and service was really good, as is consistent with this establishment. Our family has so much fun together, no matter where we might end up. Happy Birthday to sweet Sara...May all of your Birthday wishes come true!

Dylan's 4th Grade Graduation

It's hard to believe we're all done with Elementary School. Dylan graduated the 4th grade Friday and we couldn't be more proud! He's very eager to be starting Intermediate School. Congratulations, Dylan...We're so proud of you! It's definitely going be be a "beast-mode" summer!! I love you to the moon and back at least a gazillion times!!!

PS Check out the short clip of Dylan learning Led Zepplin's "Rain Song." You've got to scroll down a little bit.

Eggs Benedict

A classic breakfast entree is Eggs Benedict. Who doesn't love this dish?! I prefer a well toasted muffin and like my Hollandaise Sauce a little more lemony so I add a little more fresh lemon juice to the sauce than this recipe calls for. Serve with some spicy hash brown potatoes and fresh fruit and you have a gourmet breakfast to indulge in.

8 thick slices of ham
8 English muffins
2 tbsp butter
8 hot poached eggs (recipe to follow)

Hollandaise Sauce:
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp single (light) cream of whole milk

Preheat the oven to a very cool 275 degrees.

To prepare the sauce, in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water, beat the egg yolks and the water together with a wire whisk or fork until the mixture is pale. Gradually beat in the butter, in small pieces. Continue beating until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Beat in the cream. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Keep warm. Toast the muffins and spread them with butter. Arrange the muffins on warmed plates. Briefly, heat ham slices in a skillet to warm through. Place a slice of ham on each muffin and top with a poached egg. Spoon a little sauce over each muffin and serve at once.

Poached Eggs

Poached eggs may either be cooked in boiling water or steamed in a poaching pan. For the first method, half-fill a small saucepan with water. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of vinegar. Place the pan over moderate heat and bring the water to a boil. Break an egg into a cup. When the water is boiling , carefully tip the egg into the center of the bubbling water. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon.

To use an egg poaching pan, half-fill the bottom of the pan with water. Place 1/4 tsp of butter into the center of each cup, unless you are using a non-stick pan. Place the pan, with the cups in place, over the heat. When the water boils, break the eggs into the cups. Cover and simmer 3 - 5 minutes or until the eggs are lightly set. Loosen the eggs with a knife and slide them out onto a plate.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The OC

Two Thursday evenings ago we were back in Oak Cliff, where we've thoroughly been enjoying playing tourists lately. Dylan was having his guitar lesson at The Kessler Theater, while David and I enjoyed beverages at Bolsa, our newest favorite restaurant/bar. For dinner the three of us ate some of the best Gyros in town, at a tiny, family-owned restaurant in Bishop Arts District called "The Greek Cafe and Bakery." MaryAnn and Mike are the proprietors. Mike does all the cooking, while MaryAnn does a fabulous job of taking care of everything else...they're absolutely a delightful couple. The food was so good, very authentic, inexpensive and I literally ate everything on my plate. We look forward to dining there again.

Dylan has continually been amazing us with his growth in his guitar playing. With Kenny's direction, he's been busily working on mastering Led Zepplin's "Rain Song." This is not an easy song to play at all. He brings me to tears hearing him practice learning this beautiful song. I cannot wait to post a clip when he will let me, he wants to perfect it first. It truly warms my heart hearing David and Dylan playing guitar together.

Monday we were back in the OC for Dylan's guitar lesson. We found ourselves once again on the patio, enjoying another cold beverage at Bolsa, chatting it up with their friendly staff. The staff and food is top-notch. They get most of their fresh produce from Spiceman's, that I've raved about before on my blog. I recommend everyone check out Bolsa. The menu changes daily and when David and I ate there for dinner, I had one of the best meals I've ever had at a restaurant. Totally worth the commute, which if you live in our neck of the woods isn't bad at all.

For dinner we bought authentic fajita tacos and elotes at the Taqueria right across the street from Bolsa. Next, we plan on checking out "Tradewinds," a notorious dive-bar in the OC, that is known for having some of the best pizza in town.

Oak Cliff, has a very cool, Austin-type of vibe going on....we absolutely love it! Everyone is so nice too. Come check out the summer concert series at the Belmont Hotel. They have artists perform by the pool with one of the most amazing views of Downtown as the background. The Kessler Theater has recently been beautifully renovated and always has some great, live music playing. Come check out the OC....there' s a lot of good stuff going on over there!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jambalaya Sandwiches

Saturday I prepared this recipe ahead of time at home again and then put it in my crock-pot and simply plugged it in the RV when we returned to the Buffett party scene. The jambalaya slow cooked for a couple of hours. I served it on two partially hollowed out sourdough bread loaves, topped with Havarti cheese slices on each slice. Garnished with bacon pieces and sliced green onions.

I made this again for the family last night and changed the recipe up and served it in a bowl over white rice, with some crusty bread on the side to soak up all the flavorful sauce. Everyone loved it.

1/4 pound thick-cut bacon, diced (optional)
1 pound pork butt / pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup thinly julienned red bell peppers
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons cayenne, or to taste
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup water
2 sourdough bread loaves
1 pound Havarti cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

In a large cast iron pot or heavy-bottomed braising pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon and drain on paper towel. Set aside.

Add pork to the pan with the bacon fat and cook on medium to high heat until pork is browned on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the sausage, onions, and bell pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. Next add the chicken, celery, and garlic, parsley, and 3/4 cup chopped green onions. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 7 more minutes. Add the cayenne and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a crock pot, Stir in the water, cover and slow cook on low for 4 hours. All the meats create their own sauce, it will look a little dry in the beginning, add additional water, broth or wine if desired.

Cut bread lengthwise and place in oven to toast lightly.

Spoon some of the pork mixture on the bread bottoms, top each with slices of cheese, the reserved bacon and the remaining green onions and finish with the bread tops. Serve immediately.

*Recipe courtesy of Guy Fieri

Artichoke Spinach Dip with Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Here's another recipe that was served late night after the concert. Serve with pita and tortilla chips.

14 ounces canned (or frozen, thawed) artichoke hearts, drained, diced (not marinated)
9 ounces frozen creamed spinach, thawed
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
2 tablespoons jarred pesto sauce
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Package tortilla chips
Package pita chips

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to 350 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, add all the ingredients, except the chips, and mix well. Transfer to a 9 by 9-inch foil baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Put on the grill over indirect heat (350 degrees F is ideal) and cook for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, to keep the heat even. Carefully remove from the grill and serve with the chips.

Cook's Note: The dip can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to cook. If this is done, please add 10 minutes to the cook time.

Asian Cole Slaw

Here's a new salad I made for our tailgating feast.

1 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/4-ounce minced garlic
1/4-ounce minced ginger
1/2 packet ramen oriental seasoning
Pinch salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1/2 head napa cabbage, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/4 head red cabbage, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/2 head green cabbage, sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 red onions, julienne
2 carrots, peeled and shaved
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 ramen noodle bunches, broken into small pieces
24 fried wonton skins (optional
3/4 cup finely chopped Spanish peanuts, for garnish

In large plastic ziploc combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, ramen seasoning, a tiy bit of the cilantro, salt and pepper. Shake well to incorporate.

Mix the cabbages, onions, carrots, cilantro, and ramen noodles in another large ziploc. Whisk the dressing and add to the salad 10 minutes prior to serving. Toss thoroughly.

Put equal portions of the dressed cabbage on the wonton skins, and garnish with the chopped peanuts. Arrange on a serving platter and serve.