Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

2013 Blogger Party Planning

With March approaching and summer activities being planned, Larry Doolittle (Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings), Katherine Aucoin (Smoky Mountain CafĂ©), and our spouses met at Larry and Bev's gorgeous home on the lake, "Almost Heaven South" to make preliminary plans for our 4th annual blogger party.  We could have done it by email or on the phone, but it’s still winter and every excuse for a party needs to be utilized.
It took us about 5 minutes to do our preliminary planning and about 5 hours to catch up with one another and have fun. 
We each provided an appetizer, we had some adult beverages, and Bev made the dessert of Molten Lava Cake. It seems like we never stopped eating the whole 5 hours!   For our appetizer I made the Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Panini listed below.  
As for this year’s blogger party, it will be May 26, which is the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend (same as last year) and we’ve chosen a Hawaiian Luau as this year’s theme.  We still have the details to work out and will publish them in April, but for now we hope you’ll add the event to your calendar and plan to join us to eat, drink, and get lei’d.

Portobello and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

by adapted from Crazy Good Italian by Mike Isabella
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min

Ingredients (4 sandwiches or 16 appetizers)
    For the artichoke pesto
    • 2 tsp pine nuts
    • 3 artichoke hearts, cut into 4ths
    • 1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • 1/4 tsp smoked sea salt
    • 1/8 tsp red pepper flake
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    For the panini
    • 4 ciabatta rolls
    • 4 whole portobello mushrooms
    • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, cut into strips
    • 8 ounces fresh mozarella cut into slices
    • 8 large basil leaves
    • olive oil
    1. Roast the portobello mushrooms - Preheat oven to 400f. Remove the mushroom stems, remove the gills with a spoon, and wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth. Rub them lightly with oil. Roast for 15 minutes. After cooled, slice into 1/4" strips.
    2. Make the artichoke pesto - Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat, tossing frequently, until lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Place all pesto ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor. Turn on the processor and slowly add the oil until it is all combined.
    3. Assemble the panini - Split the ciabatta rolls in half. Top the bottoms with mozzarella, the mushrooms, the roasted red pepper, and torn pieces of the basil leaves. Smear some of the pesto on the the top bun.
    4. Cook the panini - Preheat a panini press to 350-375f (medium). Put two sandwiches in, press closed and cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining two.
    Tips: If you are in a hurry, you could just slice the mushrooms and saute them in some butter which will cut the mushroom cooking time to about 8 minutes.
    Tips: Cut the panini in fourths as pictured for appetizer portions.
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    I am loving my newest kitchen toy, a Cuisinart Smart Stick, that we picked up at Costco for about $20.  It is a stick blender motor that has attachments for an immersion blender, whisk, or the pictured mini-food processor.  It makes quick work of small projects like this pesto for the panini.  The motor has two speeds.  It is easy to clean, since the attachments separate from the motor.  And at $20 it's a deal!  

    Panini have a tendency to taste a little "flat".  Ha ha ha ha, whew.  Sorry.  I'll show myself out. 

    You could also just grill the portobello mushrooms whole on the grill, a few minutes per side over medium heat.  You could even cook these panini ON the grill using a foil covered brick like I did when making these Bristol Bash 'em Up Panini.

    [Standard Disclaimer]  I have no affiliation with Cuisinart.

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    Shiitake Mushroom Sauce for Steak

    I had a few people ask about the tri-tip dish in the last post.

    I didn't post a recipe or technique for tri-tip (NAMP 185d) because it was only the third tri-tip I have ever cooked so I'm still experimenting.  Living East of the Mississippi, I have not been able to source this West coast classic locally until recently when Costco opened in Knoxville.  (I later found out that Ingles also carries them locally.)  When I saw them, I immediately bought a package of 5 tri-tip roasts and started having fun.  

    I like the tri-tip, great beef flavor and it is quite tender.   All you really need is salt, pepper, and charcoal for a superb meal.   So far I have reverse seared one and direct grilled two of them.  I need to get my hands on some red oak so I can make an authentic Santa Maria tri-tip.  I'd rank tri-tip right up there with flank and flat iron steaks in terms of cost, flavor, and texture.  Just like flank and flat iron, I like tri-tip cooked until "not quite medium rare" and definitely wouldn't cook it past medium. 
    shiitake mushroom sauce for steak, twice baked potato, big green egg recipe
    The first time I made this I added the juices from the steak and didn't add the slurry so the sauce split.

    The shiitake mushroom sauce that I served with this last one made everyone "shut up".  You know, when people start eating and the room gets quiet because they are so content with and intent on eating.     This was based on one of Chris Lilly's recipes for a flank steak and shitake yakatori presented at the Kingsford Invitational in November.  You can use any mushroom but I prefer shiitake mushrooms because they have guanosine monophosphate, a natural flavor enhancer that brings out the best in your beef.  It would rock with any beef steak, filet, flank, strip, ribeye, or you name it.

    shiitake mushroom sauce for steak, twice baked potato, big green egg recipe

    Shiitake Mushroom Sauce for Steak

    adapted from Chris Lilly and Kingsford
    Prep Time: 1 hour
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Ingredients (2 servings)
    • 2 Tbsp butter
    • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
    • 1/8 tsp black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp roasted red pepper
    • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 3 Tbsp mirin
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 Tbsp water
    • 1 tsp lime juice
    • 1 tsp finely chopped cilantro
    • 1/8 tsp minced garlic
    • 1/8 tsp minced ginger
    • 1/8 red pepper flakes
    • 2 Tbsp cold water
    • 2 tsp corn starch
    1. Saute the mushrooms in butter over medium high heat, season with black pepper and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
    2. Stir in remaining ingredients except the last two (corn starch and 2 Tbsp water) and simmer for 1 minute.
    3. Whisk the water and corn starch together to form a slurry. Stir into the mushroom mix and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
    4. Keep warm and serve on top of sliced steak.
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    For other great grilling recipes, ideas and techniques, check out Grilling.com

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes

    On our weekend, we went for a drive on the back roads through the mountainous coal country of Morgan and Anderson countries just to relax and take pictures.  On these drives, I also notice the smokers and cookers folks have like this one that was at a Moose Lodge.  

    Alexis couldn't help but notice the coffee can and a rock fancy rain cap covering the smoke stack.  To me this rusty cooker has stories to tell.  It is a custom job for sure.  Being in mining country, my guess is that in a former life it was a container on a piece of heavy equipment and it was either abandoned or "walked off" the job site.  Being at a Moose Lodge I can imagine it has hosted many a cookout.  If that grill could talk, what tales he'd tell...

    We just celebrated our anniversary this weekend and one of the things that Alexis wanted for our meal was this version of a twice baked potato. We've made them 3 times recently, it's one of her favorites.  It doesn't actually have pimento cheese in it but it does taste like it.

    twice baked potato, twice baked potato grill, twice baked potato big green egg, twice baked potato grill dome
    Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes

    by www.nibblemethis.com
    Prep Time: 1 hr 10 minutes (mostly just b
    Cook Time: 20 minutes

    Ingredients (serves 2)
      You'll need
      • 2 medium-large baking potatoes
      • 2 tsp oil
      • 2 tsp salt
      • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
      For the stuffing
      • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
      • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
      • 3 Tbsp diced roasted red pepper
      • 1/2 Tbsp finely diced cilantro
      • 1/2 Tbsp finely diced green onion
      • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
      • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
      • 1/4 tsp black pepper
      1. Wash potatoes and dry. Rub with oil and salt. Wrap in foil and bake in a 400f oven until done, about 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes.
      2. For each potato, cut off the top 1/4th. Remove and discard the peel from that piece and keep the pulp in a bowl. Using a melon ball tool or spoon, scoop out the potato pulp and add to the bowl.
      3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the butter, to the bowl and thoroughly mix together, smashing with a fork. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells.
      4. Make ahead: Steps up until now can be done a day in advance. Keep refrigerated until ready to bake.
      5. Top with a little extra shredded cheese and drizzle with butter.
      6. Place the stuffed potatoes on an indirect grill or oven preheated to 350f until cooked through, about 20 minutes if warm, about 30 if made ahead and refrigerated.
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      twice baked potato, twice baked potato grill, twice baked potato big green egg, twice baked potato grill dome
      The melon baller makes scooping the potatoes easy.

      twice baked potato, twice baked potato grill, twice baked potato big green egg, twice baked potato grill dome
      Stuffed and ready to go. 

      twice baked potato, twice baked potato grill, twice baked potato big green egg, twice baked potato grill dome
      Shown with tri-tip and shiitake sauce.

      twice baked potato, twice baked potato grill, twice baked potato big green egg, twice baked potato grill dome
      Pairs great with a nice grilled ribeye too.

      If you don't like pimento cheese, just swap out the flavors.  Drop the red pepper and use a different cheese.  Add bacon in.  Do whatever, that is what is great about twice baked potatoes.  What is in YOUR favorite twice baked potato?

      Thursday, February 14, 2013

      Quick Stir Fry

      I have done stir fry dishes on the grill, what I like to call "stir fire", for years.

      how to stir fry on big green egg, grill dome stir fry, stir fry on grill
      The ginger chicken that I stir fired last night.

      I have been taking classes from Rouxbe Online Cooking School and when I recently took two stir fry lessons, I really didn't expect to learn much since I had stir fried for so long.  But I was wrong, I learned many things to improve my stir fry skill set.  Here are 5 things that I took away from the lessons:
      1. A little goes a long way.   I have been using too much meat and too much sauce in my stir fry dishes.  I adjusted down this time and saw an improvement.  It should be about 4 oz of meat, 2 cups of veggies, and 2-3 Tbsp of sauce.  
      2. Turn up the heat.  I used to worry I was getting the wok too hot, not any more.  Commercial wok burgers kick out up to 200,000 BTU's compared to a home stove burner of 15,000 BTU's.  
      3. Blanch hard veggies first.  Hard veggies like carrots take a lot longer to cook.  I just used to put them in earlier than other veggies.  But taking the time to blanch them ahead of time not only shortens the stir fry time, it does a better job preserving the color and texture of the veggies.
      4. Dry your ingredients.   Wet meat and veggies lead to a mushy looking stir fry.  
      5. Velveting.  Ever notice how the meat in stir fries at good restaurants seems more tender than your stir fries at home?  Many use a technique called velveting ahead of time.  The meat is coated in a mix of cornstarch, egg white, and rice wine vinegar and then partially cooked submerged in hot oil  Use your best George Takei voice and say, "Oh my!"
      Why do I like stir firing on the grill instead of stir frying inside?
      • Because I can get my grill hotter than my stove top,
      • Because it's outside,
      • Because coal fires were the original heat source for wok cooking, and
      • Because I can. 
      Here are three tips from me about "stir firing" on your grill.

      how to stir fry on big green egg, grill dome stir fry, stir fry on grill

      Mise en place
      Having your ducks in a row is important with stir frying.  It is doubly important with stir firing.  In the kitchen, if you forgot something, it's just arms reach away.  At the grill, you can be 20-30 paces away from that one thing you forgot and seconds count on the wok.  And not just ingredients, you need to have any piece of equipment that you will need ready.  Tongs, resting racks, food gloves, heat resistant gloves, pinch pots, etc.  

      how to stir fry on big green egg, grill dome stir fry, stir fry on grill
      Organized chaos.

      No Place To Run To Baby, No Where To Hide
      On the stove top, the sides of the wok are cooler than the center because they are not directly over the burner AND they are higher up from the heat source.  On the grill, they are only higher up from the heat source, but still directly over it and hot.  So it is extra important to keep stirring and moving the ingredients around.  That also means your forearms will be directly over the pits of Mordor.  You will definitely want long sleeved heat resistant gloves.

      how to stir fry on big green egg, grill dome stir fry, stir fry on grill

      Along Came A Spider
      If you have a Kamado style ceramic cooker like our Big Green Eggs, I HIGHLY recommend a "spider rig" for holding your wok in place.  They are cheap and effective.  Plus you can also use them with a small cast iron grid for searing steaks right next to the coals.  Note:  I have to use mine "legs down" because of the long handles.  My next wok will have the short handles so I can use the spider "legs up"

      The "spider" is the wire rim on which the wok is resting.
      The dinner itself was basic so I won't right up a recipe.

      how to stir fry on big green egg, grill dome stir fry, stir fry on grill

      • Two thighs, sliced and seasoned with salt, pepper, 5 spice, ginger, and garlic.  Cooked until just done, about 4 minutes.
      • Seasoned more oil with 2 garlic cloves and 3/4" of fresh ginger.  Removed and cooked blanched carrots, bell pepper, and onion about 3 minutes.
      • Returned meat to wok.  Added 1/4 cup of my sweet stir fry sauce (Yoshidas, rice wine, sherry,  soy sauce, sriracha, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flake, sugar), tossed to coat and then mixed in a cornstarch slurry. 
      What are your favorite stir frying tips?   If you have a favorite stir fry dish, post a link in the comments, I'd love to try it out.

      Sunday, February 10, 2013

      Mesquite Grilled Turkey Burgers

      Turkey burgers are healthier than regular burgers, right?

      mesquite grilled turkey burgers, turkey burger, lo-cal burger,

      Turkeys tend to disagree with that.  But, as far as nutritional aspects go, it depends.

      It is true that a turkey burger patty has about 45% less calories and almost half of the fat of a beef burger.  But a beef burger has more potassium and is significantly lower in sodium and cholesterol.  So it's not cut and dried, it depends on what your dietary needs are.  

      For us, we just like them for a change of pace.   Two of my tricks for turkey burgers are:
      • Moisture - You have to cook turkey burgers to an internal temp of 165f.  Turkey is 93% lean so that can end up dry.  Many recipes have you adding eggs or fat to compensate for this.  That kind of defeats the purpose of cutting the fat, doesn't it?  Instead, I like to add a little non-fat Greek yogurt.
      • Talking shiitake - My secret ingredient is finely chopped shiitake mushroom.  It adds texture and has two natural flavor enhancers (organic MSG and guanosine monophosphate) (McGee 9473) that will amplify your other added flavors.
      mesquite grilled turkey burgers, turkey burger, lo-cal burger,

      This also uses a lower fat, fire roasted chile ranch dressing to build flavor up without layering on the calories.  

      Mesquite Grilled Turkey Burgers

      by www.nibblemethis.com
      Prep Time: 45 minutes
      Cook Time: 10 minutes

      Ingredients (4 burgers)
        For the burger patties
        • 20 oz ground turkey
        • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
        • 3 Tbsp finely diced roasted red bell pepper
        • 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro
        • 2 Tbsp finely chopped shiitake mushroom
        • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
        • 1 green onion, finely chopped
        • 1/2 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
        • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
        Everything else
        • 4 whole wheat burger buns
        • 4 slices pepper jack cheese
        • 1/2 cup fire roasted chile ranch dressing [Link for recipe]
        • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
        • Thin sliced lettuce, tomato, and red onion
        1. Mix together all patty ingredients until thoroughly blended. Divide into 4 equal balls and form into patties (roughly 1/3rd lb each) about 3/4" thick and 4-5 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
        2. Preheat a charcoal grill to 400f (medium high). It should be at this heat for at least 5 minutes prior to grilling to get your grates pre-heated. Immediately prior to grilling, add 4-5 Kingsford Smokehouse Style Mesquite Briquetes or 1/2 cup of mesquite wood chips.
        3. Grill the burgers until the bottom cooks through and juices start to pool on top of the patties, about 5 minutes. (Note: I rotate my patties 1/4 turn at 3 minutes to get a cross hatch pattern.)
        4. Flip and cook until the patties reach an internal temperature of 165f, about 3-5 minutes. Top with a slice of pepper jack cheese in the last minute or two.
        5. Remove and rest on a raised rack and meanwhile toast your buns on the grill.
        6. Assemble the burgers with lettuce, tomato, avocado, red onion and some of the spicy ranch dressing.
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        mesquite grilled turkey burgers, turkey burger, lo-cal burger,
        Beef burgers only need salt and pepper.  Turkey burgers need a lot more friends at the party.

        Just tossed a few of these on for smoke while grilling.

        mesquite grilled turkey burgers, turkey burger, lo-cal burger,
        About 5 minutes per side at 400f...

        But don't cook by time, trust your Thermapen instead.

        mesquite grilled turkey burgers, turkey burger, lo-cal burger,
        For me, pepper jack cheese is the best for turkey burgers but use what you like.  Swiss is good too. 
        mesquite grilled turkey burgers, turkey burger, lo-cal burger,
        Order up!

        mesquite grilled turkey burgers, turkey burger, lo-cal burger,

        Those sweet potato fries are Alexia Foods Waffle Cut Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries.  I thought sweet potato fries was a natural for a turkey burger and found these at my Food City .  They are slightly spicy with a blend of chiles and spices and perfect with the ranch dressing for dipping.   They are the best frozen sweet potato fries I've had.  We went back and bought another bag.  I could see using them as the base to a great appetizer too. I don't see them on their website so they are either new or discontinued...I'm hoping new.  

        [Standard Disclaimer]  I have a partnership with Kingsford and write for Grilling.com.  I have no affiliation with Alexia and paid full price for the waffle fries.  

        Thursday, February 7, 2013

        Dizzy Pig Dirty Rice

        The head cold bug has invaded our house and there is nothing better for busting up a congested head than spicy foods, don't you think?

        One of my favorite Cajun foods is "dirty rice".   The first time I ever experienced dirty rice was from Popeye's.  Instead of using chicken gizzards they use savory sausage in theirs and to this day, that is the style I prefer. 

        Dizzy Pig Dirty Rice, BBQ side dish, Big Green Egg rice,

        Dizzy Pig Dirty Rice

        by www.nibblemethis.com
        Prep Time: 15 minutes
        Cook Time: 40 minutes

        Ingredients (4-6 servings)
        • 1/2 lb breakfast sausage
        • 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
        • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
        • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
        • 1 cup long grain rice
        • 2 cups chicken broth
        • 1/2 Tbsp Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom rub (or Cajun rub)
        • 2 tsp finely diced green onion
        • 2 tsp finely diced parsley
        1. Brown the sausage over medium high heat. Remove with a slotted spoon and very finely dice the sausage. 
        2. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery to the pan and saute until just starting to turn tender, about 4-5 minutes.
        3. Add the rice, toss to coat, and cook until the rice starts to turn golden and emits a nutty aroma, about 2-3 minutes.
        4. Return the sausage to the pan. Add the broth and Cajun seasoning, give a stir, and cover tightly. Bring to a simmer and cook until rice is done, 20-25 minutes.  Note:  Cajun rubs vary wildly in the amount of heat so if using a rub other than Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom, start with a lesser amount and add more until you get the level that you want. 
        5. When done, remove from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. Then add the green onion and parsley while you fluff the rice with a fork. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
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        I made the dirty rice as a side to a couple of pork tenderloins and a spicy tasso gravy.   I didn't get my roux dark enough for my tasso gravy, I was a bit impatient.  I need to get in touch with Steve Puleo for pointers, his Puleo's Grille makes a tasso gravy that is to die for.   My gravy was good, had a nice texture and heat, but it wasn't as good as theirs.    
        tied pork tenderloin,
        Tenderloins trimmed, tied and seasoned with about 2 tsp each of Swamp Venom.

        The trinity - onion, celery, and bell pepper.

        tasso ham
        Tasso for the gravy - it is a Cajun ham that is cured with a heavy seasoning and then smoked.

        kamado grill pork tenderloin, big green egg pork tenderloin, grill dome pork tenderloin
        The tenderloins were cooked on the Egg direct at 450f for about 22-25 minutes until they reached an internal temp of 140f.

        pork tenderloin, Dizzy Pig Dirty Rice, BBQ side dish, Big Green Egg rice,
        This is my plate...aren't y'all eating any?  Kidding - family style service.

        Dizzy Pig Dirty Rice, BBQ side dish, Big Green Egg rice,
        Ready to eat!
        Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company - Swamp Venom
        I've written about Dizzy Pig rubs before but this is the first time I've tried Swamp Venom.   Chris Capell and the gang take great care to produce the highest quality rubs that are all natural, no MSG, and gluten free.  Swamp Venom is their spin on a Cajun rub.  

        The rub has a moderately coarse texture and a light orange color.  Tasted straight, it definitely packs a multi-tiered heat from the chiles but the other spices provide supporting flavors.  (Some Cajun rubs are mostly pepper blends and as a result, have "one note" flavor.)   Swamp Venom delivered a balanced but powerful taste to the pork tenderloins, just what I expect from a good rub.  And a good rub is what I always expect from Dizzy Pig!  

        [Standard Disclaimer]  I received a few bottles of Dizzy Pig in exchange for use of a picture but I have been a paying customer of Dizzy Pig products since the 2010 Eggtoberfest.  The opinions stated are my own.   

        Sunday, February 3, 2013

        Tall Boy Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

        A few months ago, the highly acclaimed Asheville restaurant, Tupelo Honey Cafe, opened a new location in Knoxville.  

        Alexis and I stopped by for breakfast a while back.  If I had to describe it in just a phrase it would be "Southern comfort food meets Appalachian hipster" (in a good way).  It was difficult to choose from the enticing menu options but I choose the Chicken and Biscuits.

        Some of the best fried chicken I've had in Knoxville.
        Man oh man, was that was "shut your mouth" good.  The crispy fried chicken breast on top of their signature scratch biscuits and a creamy milk gravy were phenomenal.  But this isn't a review, just background for this morning's breakfast.  

        This morning, a cold, wet snow was falling and I had a serious craving for some Southern comfort food.  I thought about that chicken and biscuits.   I didn't have any fried chicken, so instead I went with sausage gravy and homemade biscuits.  

        The original recipe was supposed to yield 8 biscuits but the first time I made these, I cut them too thick and only got six.  The result was biscuits that cooked up so tall, they topple and fall over.  This was a happy accident because they were perfect for splitting in half for gravy biscuits!  We've done it that way on purpose since then.  Trevor calls them "tall boy biscuits". 

        Still steaming hot!
        Tall Boy Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

        Prep Time: 15 minutes
        Cook Time: 20 minutes

        Ingredients (4 servings)
          For the Tall Boy Biscuits
          • 2 cups all purpose flour
          • 1 Tbsp baking powder
          • 1 tsp sugar
          • 1 tsp salt
          • 1/4 lb unsalted butter, cut into 8 Tbsp portions
          • 3/4 cup whole milk
          • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
          For the Sausage Gravy
          • 12 oz bulk breakfast sausage
          • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
          • 1 cup whole milk
          • 1 cup half and half
          • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
          • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
          • pinch kosher salt
          For the Tall Boy Biscuits
          1. Toss flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add 7 Tbsp of the butter. Run the mixer on medium-low (3-4 on a Kitchenaid standmixer) until the butter is cut into pea sized pieces.
          2. Add the milk and mix until the dough comes together and pulls from the side.
          3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a 5" x 8" rectangle about 1" thick. Fold one third over the center, fold the other third over that and roll back out into another 5" x 8" rectangle. The Food Network recipe compares it to folding a letter but with the advent of email, that is almost an antiquated reference. Repeat 3-5 times.
          4. Use a 2 1/2" biscuit cutter and cut out 4 to 6 circles that are 1" thick. You will have to regather the dough scraps and roll back out for the last 1 or two biscuits. Place biscuits on a parchment lined baking tray.
          5. Melt the last Tbsp of butter and mix with the cream. Brush on top of the biscuits.
          6. Bake the biscuits at 450f for 15-18 minutes until they are golden brown. They will expand and topple, don't worry.
          For the Sausage Gravy
          1. Brown the sausage in a wide pan, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Remove the cooked sausage to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan.
          2. You need about 2 Tbsp of grease in the pan. Lean sausages may leave less than that, add some bacon fat or butter if needed. Whisk in the flour until it forms a light roux, about one minute.
          3. Whisk in about 1/3 cup of the milk and whisk until the roux is blended with the milk (10-15 seconds). Repeat 2 more times until all the milk is incorporated into the gravy. Now you can whisk in all of the half and half, pepper, cayenne, and salt at once. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
          4. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 2-4 minutes.
          5. Stir in the sausage.
          6. Split the biscuits in half and top with the sausage gravy.
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          Make sure they start off at least 1" tall.


          So good and filling that I didn't even have to eat lunch today!

          Saturday, February 2, 2013

          Greek Pork Chops with Lemon Rice Pilaf

          This Greek influenced meal had me exclaiming "Opa!" earlier this week.

          Normally I prefer thick, center cut pork chops but every now and then, we'll pick up a pack of those super cheap and thin "assorted pork chops".  They are cut from the extreme ends of the loin (shoulder and sirloin) and can be tougher but this marinade helps take care of that and adds flavor.   (Warning - it will also find any paper cuts or scratches you have on your hands, yeeouch!)

          Greek Pork Marinade

          by www.nibblemethis.com
          Prep Time: 5 minutes

          Ingredients (1 1/4 cup)
          • 3/4 cup oil
          • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
          • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
          • 1 tsp Kosher salt
          • 1 tsp granulated garlic
          • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
          • 1/2 tsp dried mint
          • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
          • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
          • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
          1. Makes enough for 4-6 pork chops, 2 tenderloins, or a small loin roast.
          2. Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.
          3. Marinade pork in a Glad zipper storage bag for 4-6 hours before grilling.
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          Reserve and dice some of the marinated red onion for the rice.

          I grilled the thin chops for about 3 minutes a side over glowing coals.

          I made some zucchini and yellow squash ribbon skewers and had a few of the thin slices leftover so I diced them up and added it to the Lemon Rice Pilaf for an excellent rice side dish that even Trevor devoured.

          Greek Lemon Rice Pilaf
          Adapted from Greek.Food.Com

          Ingredients (4-6 servings)
          • 3 Tbsp butter
          • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
          • 1 cup rice
          • 2 1/2 cups warm chicken broth
          • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
          • 1/3 cup finely diced zucchini and yellow squash
          • salt and pepper to taste
          1. Melt butter in a pan over medium high heat. Saute the red onion until just softened, about 5 minutes. (Note: If you are using red onions from the Greek pork marinade, they will be slightly pickled and cook quicker.)
          2. Add the uncooked rice, toss to coat rice in the butter, and saute until the rice starts to turn golden and gives off a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes.
          3. Add the hot broth and lemon juice and quickly cover. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
          4. Working quickly to minimize the time the lid is off, stir in the zucchini and/or squash. Cover with lid and cook another 5 minutes.
          5. Remove from heat, leaving lid on and rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.
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          The zucchini and yellow squash skewers are easy too.  Just slice zucchini and squash into thin ribbons on a mandolin.  Then just fold them as shown on a couple of small skewers.  

          Marinade in a vinaigrette for 30 minutes.  Then grill over a medium high charcoal grill for 90 seconds, flip and cook another 90 seconds.  

          These cook super quickly so don't turn your back.
          Make these last because they cool off quickly.

          I had made tzatziki sauce to go with it all.  I hate cucumbers but love pickles and tzatziki, go figure.

          Hey, it is Ground Hog Day today!  I need to go to the store and buy some ground pork.