Mostly about food, this blog is just a place for me to throw things that are of interest to me. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by an look around. This represents just some of the stops on the various pathways that this amateur home cook finds himself.

You may find that these foods tend toward protein and away from carbohydrates - this is due to diabetic issues, so I try to only sparingly use carbs, and good ones at that. Of course, sometimes I forget....

Feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions or just to let me know what you think. Thanks!

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I want to thank you for the time that you spend here, and hope that you can find useful things here.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lamb Burgers, with all the extras

Looking for something tasty and different?  Skip the hamburger; embrace the Lamb Burger!  These were served along with pickled red onions, home made tzatziki sauce, and a Greek relish.  You can buy ground lamb in most major supermarkets, but if you have the choice, purchase whole lamb meat and ask them to grind it for you at the time, it will be much fresher.   

Lamb Burgers
1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil,
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Tzatziki Sauce
1 medium cucumber, halved and seeds removed, then grated
1 cup Fat free, plain Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, Crushed
1  teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1  tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt & Black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil

Pickled Onions
½ red onion, thinly-sliced
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon unrefined light brown sugar

Greek Relish
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted Italian red peppers
1/4 cup pitted and chopped marinated Kalamata olives
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh crumbled Feta cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


Preparing the onions:
The thinner you can slice the onions, the better this will be.  Unfortunately, I was in an hurry and the onions in the picture below are away too thick.  Mix the vinegars and sugar together, submerge the onions in the mixture, and set in the fridge to marinate.  By the time you are finished with the burgers, these will be ready.

Preparing the onions:
Prepare the cucumber as stated above.  Using a food processor, puree the garlic cloves with the salt & pepper.  Add the cucumber, yogurt, olive oil and dill, the pulse it and give it a taste.  Add seasoning if needed, then remove to a bowl in the fridge until needed.

Preparing the relish:
Prepare the peppers, olives, cilantro and garlic as stated above.  Mix them well in a large bowl with the Feta, salt & pepper.  Add in the lemon juice and olive oil, then mix to coat.  Give it a taste test and adjust salt & pepper if needed.

Move the finished relish in a bowl, and put it in the fridge with the other condiments until the burger is finished and ready to assemble.

Now for the burgers:
Next comes the main act.  The main concern here is not to overwork the meat.  The more you squeeze and mix it, the more tough it may end up.  Start off by taking all of the ingredients for the burger (except the meat) and mixing well in a bowl.  Crumble small pieces of the ground lamb mixture into the bowl, lightly stirring together until all is loosely mixed.  Now you will divide the mixture in half, and loosely form each half into a patty.  These will shrink some on the grill, so if you make the patty just larger than your bun it will work out perfectly.

I left them in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up, and then it was off to the grill.  Grill these over medium coals, turning only once.  Now, as they cook, they are going to lose a lot of grease, so you are going to have to keep an eye out for flare-ups.  Just don't overcook them - these were done to 150° internally as was read on a digital thermometer.

Here you see the finished product, assembled and ready to be consumed.  The buns were toasted to help keep the burger together when all assembled.  From the bottom up, there is tzatziki, pickled onion, the lamb burger patty, and finally the relish.  Layers and layers of flavor.

Halfway through it, and boy that lamb is tasty!  Notice that it is not pink like a hamburger might be, but trust me, it's not overcooked...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mexican Rice

...adapted from Diana Barrios 

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup white rice
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, minced
1/4 onion, sliced very thin

Blend first 3 ingredients until smooth,  Add 1 cup chicken stock, blend again.  Heat up the remaining chicken stock in a microwave oven, but do not boil.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat, and when hot, add in the rice.  Cook the rice, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown.  Add the peppers and onions, cook for a few more minutes, and then drain off any remaining excess oil.

Add the tomato mixture to the pan, stir and cook for 3 minutes, then add in the remaining hot chicken stock.  Reduce heat again, stir and cover, then cook until the rice has absorbed all the remaining liquid and is done.

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

...inspired by Lisa Fain 

Simple, crisp and green, vary the heat by varying the pepper count.  Two jalapenos makes for a pretty mild salsa.

3/4 lb tomatillos, smaller is better for taste (11 oz can may be used)
chiles - 2 jalapeño (mild) (or 2 Serrano [warmer], or more if you like)
6 cloves chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, packed
salt and pepper to taste

Makes approximately 1 pint

Bring a 4-5 quart pot of water to boil over high heat.  Peel the husks from the tomatillos and discard; and rinse the sticky coating off the tomatillos.  Boil the tomatillos for 5 minutes or so to soften, remove and drain.

Add the tomatillos, garlic, peppers, cilantro and lime juice to a blender.  Blend until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste.  After it sits, you may need to add a bit of water as it may thicken.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oldies but Goodies

I recently stumbled across a couple of old cookbooks - 40 to 50 years old.  These are small limited distribution books, published by small companies and just plain Courier type on paper.  Paging through them, it appears that they contain just what the covers promise - simple authenticity.  I'll be exploring these and maybe post some of the recipes I attempt from them.

Lone Star Stroganoff

Another one of those dishes that everyone has a recipe for, this has a couple of  twists that drag it south of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi.  It has some fiery components, but is mild enough for all to enjoy.

Serves 6, or 4 really hungry folks.  Even less if you 'sample' it all afternoon... just sayin'.


3 lb chuck, top round or flat iron steak, trimmed of fat and gristle
2 medium onions - short julienned
1 1/2 lb Cremini (or button) mushrooms, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1/2 cup decent red wine
1 can consommé ( in soup aisle)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 large fresh jalapeño, minced fine
1 chipotle in adobo pepper, minced fine
1/2 cup chicken stock (can use water)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
8 oz. wide egg noodles

Heat a large  skillet over medium heat.  Work your way through the the sliced mushrooms without crowding, this will take a few batches - see Beginning Mushrooms 101 for all you'll ever want to know about cooking mushrooms in a skillet.  When they are all done, remove them to a good-sized bowl for later.

While the mushrooms are cooking, it's time to prepare the meat.  Since you've lost all the fat and gristle, cut the meat into manageable strips, and then into smaller somewhat thin pieces.  This will help them both cook faster and be more tender.  Here you see me slicing across the grain at an angle, also helping to tenderize them. 

Dry the meat well with paper towels, and season liberally with salt and pepper.    If you don't dry it, it won't brown.  Set this aside for a few minutes while we do the onions.

The peeled onions ate cut into strips and the halved.  Put them into the skillet with a little olive oil and let them become translucent and a bit caramelized.

When done, remove the onions to a bowl and set aside.  Now we go back to our seasoned beef and add it to the pan a little at a time, taking care not to crowd it.  This will take a few batches to get it all done.  When you start to see the edges brown, you can start stirring it about.  It doesn't have to cook completely here, just brown. 

As each batch finishes, place the browned meat in with your mushrooms and pour out any liquid from the pan - it is the enemy of browning.

After all the meat is out, the onions head back in one last time, along with the wine and flour.  Whisk this together so that the flour is dissolved. Add in the consommé.

Then whisk in the tomato paste, and slowly, the cream cheese.  Most recipes for stroganoff call for sour cream, but I like the thickness that this brings to the sauce.  Whisk until this becomes uniformly smooth.

Retrieve your chipotle pepper dripping with adobo.  You will want to mince this very fine so it will melt into the sauce as it simmers.  Same goes for the jalapeno.

Time to go all in.  Add the meat and mushrooms into the sauce and stir well to incorporate.  Then add in the minced peppers and mix again.

You'll probably have to let this simmer for a couple of hours.  If it's too thick, add in the chicken stock to make sure all the ingredients get incorporated.  This will allow the meat to get really tender, and allow the sauce to thicken even more.  Of course, you'll have to sacrifice and actually taste a piece occasionally to make sure it is getting tender...

When it is about done cooking down, it is time to cook the noodles.  I prefer using the extra-wide egg noodles as their surface area can carry lots of sauce with each fork-full.  Cook them until al dente, then drain and plate them, then adding the stroganoff mixture.  Top it all with a dollop of sour cream, some sliced green onions and a sprinkle of chile powder.

¡Muy Sabroso!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Tired of the same old tacos, I figured it was time for an upgrade. 
Are they fajitas?  Maybe burritos?  The verdict? 

Muy yummy!  

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2" strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2" strips
1/2 small to medium onion, cut into 1 1/2" strips
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 large or 2 small jalapeños, short julienne

1 lb.- 1 1/2 lb. beef, such as skirt steak, flank steak, top round - sliced thin for Asada cooking
kosher salt, coarse ground pepper
olive oil

4 fajita-size flour tortillas (reduced carb)
1/4 lb Mexican melting cheese, such as queso quesadilla or queso asadero, shredded

home-made red and green salsas 

 Gather your ingredients.  Prepare all the different items by doing the slicing and mincing before you start cooking - see "mise en place".  Here's the starters...


Preheat your oven to 350°.  Add all the vegetables to a skillet, and sautée in a bit of oil until they soften and the onions become slightly translucent.  Remove to a plate and cover.  Now cut the beef into strips across the grain, season with pepper only and add them to the empty skillet with a touch more oil.  Cook until just browned - about half-cooked.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and then add the vegetbles back into the skillet and mix together. Oh how wonderful it would be to have a flat top at home!

Now take 1/4 of your meat/vegetable mixture and roll it in a flour tortilla that has been warmed slightly in the microwave to soften.  Repeat for the remaining filling.  Place these rolls seam side down in an oven proof dish lightly sprayed with your choice of a Pam-like product.  This will help them release for service.

Once the oven is hot, slide the dish onto the upper rack, and bake until the tortillas just start to brown.  At this point, kick the oven up to low broil, and pull the dish out to finish.

Top the rolls with the cheese you should have already shredded, and back on the top shelf they go, oven door left cracked open.  Watch carefully until the cheese starts to spot (like picture below), and remove from oven.  Turn the oven off - it's done it's duty for today.

Plate the Fajititos, two per hungry person, one if served with several sides.  Finish off the Fajititos with alternating stripes of red and green salsa, freshly made if available.  Serve with an appropriate side dish, here seen with refried beans with jalapeno bits added and topped with shredded cheese.  Serve hot!