Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's gyro, rhymes with hero


1 package active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

11/2 cups warm water

1 teaspoon salt

31/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon olive oil


In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir to blend. Let the yeast stand until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the salt. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough gathers into a ball; this should take about 4 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it's smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Place a large pizza stone on the lower oven rack, preheat the oven (and stone) to 500 degrees F.

Punch the dough down, divide it into 8 pieces, and gather each piece into a ball; keeping all of them lightly floured and covered while you work. Allow the balls of dough to rest, covered, for 15 minutes so they will be easier to roll out.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a circle that is about 8-inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Make sure the circle is totally smooth, with no creases or seams in the dough, which can prevent the pitas from puffing up properly. Cover the disks as you roll them out, but do not stack them up. Slide one pita round at a time on the hot pizza stone and bake for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bread puffs up like a balloon and is pale golden. Watch closely; they bake fast. Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes; they will naturally deflate, leaving a pocket in the center. Wrap the pitas in a large kitchen towel to keep them soft.

Gyro meat


  • 1  medium onion, finely chopped or shredded
  • 2  pounds ground pork
  • 1  tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1  tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1  tablespoon dried ground rosemary
  • 2  teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice.
Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl.
To cook in the oven as a meatloaf, proceed as follows:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.
To cook on a rotisserie, proceed as follows:
Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on top of 2 overlapping pieces of plastic wrap that are at least 18 inches long. Roll the mixture in the plastic wrap tightly, making sure to remove any air pockets. Once the meat is completely rolled in the wrap, twist the ends of the plastic wrap until the surface of the wrap is tight. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, to allow the mixture to firm up.
Preheat the grill to high.
Place the meat onto the rotisserie skewer. Place a double-thick piece of aluminum foil folded into a tray directly under the meat to catch any drippings. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Turn off the heat and allow to continue to spin for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes, and feta cheese.



1 cup water
1 cup fine cracked wheat
1 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
3 tomatoes, diced
2 cucumbers, peeled,seeded and diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, or to taste
1 teaspoons sea salt


In a large mixing bowl, pour the water over the cracked wheat and cover, let stand about 20 minutes until wheat is tender and water is absorbed. Add the chopped herbs and vegetables and toss with the mix. Combine the oil, lemon juice, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to wheat mixture and mix well. Chill. 

Tzatziki Sauce


  • 2 cups Mediterranean-style yogurt, (may substitute with conventional yogurt)
  • 1 large English cucumber (peeled, shredded and drained)
  • clove garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • 1 ounces lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


To Prepare the Yogurt: Line strainer with cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Bowl should support strainer so it does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Put the yogurt in the strainer loosely covered, and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.Discard the liquid and use the strained yogurt as directed.
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight before serving. Serve with pita.

Monday, October 10, 2011

You have to shop the sales

The reason we ended up having a New York strip roast was because Felton's Market in Plant City had them for $2.99 a pound.
We spent about $37 for a 12-pound, whole boneless New York strip. We couldn't have gone out to dinner and had steak for what we paid for the couple of big roasts and several steaks I cut from it.

This is how I always shop, I read the advertisements we get in the mail or look for them online and buy what is on sale. It's a good way to stock up on items like this NY strip, that you can keep in the freezer for special occasions, or stock up things you use often, like boneless, skinless chicken breasts, when they are most affordable. This only works if you remember to use what's in your freezer though.

I think I have found a way to inspire myself to post at least once a week. I am going to go through the sales fliers and fix a meal from one of the better deals of the week and try to come up with a recipe I haven't posted before.

Most of these sales are good only through Tuesday, with the exception of the Save a Lot and Bravo stores'.
If all goes as planned, I'll try to post the ads and recipe on Thursday so there's time to take advantage of the sales.

If you're a vegetarian, you might want to skip this one

Beef - it's what's for dinner

OK, OK, OK, I got a little carried away. But this was a seriously good piece of meat.

I state here, without apology, that we really like roast beef.
My grandmother was born in England, so maybe it's genetic.
 We often have a traditional sirloin roast for Christmas dinner and splurge on rib roasts when I can find a good sale, but this roast, from a boneless New York strip, may the best one.
Yes, I know it has fat on it, if it didn't it would taste like shoe leather and be tough as nails. The cooking method I used, the first one below, calls for searing the meat before roasting it slowly at a very low temperature so a lot of the fat ends up in the searing pan.
I will get to how we ended up roasting NY strip in the next post, but even if you can't find it on sale, this is one of those things that you are just going to have to try at least once.
Cooking Instructions

Strip loin roast can be cooked at different temperatures with different results. We discuss two ways that yield good results. The first way is our favorite, there is a little more work involved and it takes a little longer but its worth it. The second method is a quicker and easier method which will please most but not quite as juicy from center to outer edge.

Cooking Method 1
Many of the finest restaurants that serve strip loin roast use low temperatures to achieve those great juicy beefy flavors. In our experience cooking at higher temperatures of the 350-450 degree range will cause a roast to dry out on the outer parts and shrink anywhere form 3/4 to 1lb or more depending on the size of the roast by the time its done cooking.
A low temperature of 250 degrees will cook roast beef evenly through from the center to the outer edge without any drying out, leaving the meat tender and juicy. You might be concerned about the possibility of bacteria and it has been shown that cooking a roast this way is actually safe but to have piece of mind there is a way to solve this and at the same time give the roast a nice brown surface. Bacteria grows from the outside and a way to get rid of bacteria is to sear the roast first. Searing the roast will seal in the juices and look very appealing when being served.

1. An hour before cooking, remove the roast from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and set the rack to the lower middle position. Take a heavy bottomed roasting pan and set the pan on 1 burner or 2 burners if you have a large pan and set the temperature to medium-high. Once the pan is hot sear the roast on all sides for 1.5 - 2 minutes per side. A large heavy skillet can also be used to sear the roast.
3. Carefully remove the roast, set a wire rack in center of the roasting pan and place roast fat side up on the rack. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook uncovered.
4. Roast the meat to a temperature of 135-140 degrees (medium-rare) for maximum flavor and tenderness or 140-150 degrees (medium) but no more, anything more will begin to dry out the roast. Depending on the size of the roast it will take 25-30 minutes per pound, so you must have an instant-read thermometer to make sure you don't overcook. Remove roast from oven and tent with foil. Let it rest at least 15- 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute themselves evenly throughout the roast. When cooking at 250 degrees the roast will only rise another 2-4 degrees or so during the resting time. Cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on platter and serve.

Below is a cooking chartfor roast beef recipe. Remember you should always use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness of a roast. In method A because a temperature of 250 degrees is used the temperature will only rise about 2-4 degrees during resting time.
DonenessDescriptionMeat Thermometer Reading
RareRed with cold, soft center125-130 degrees
Medium-RareRed with warm, somewhat firm center135-140 degrees
MediumPink and firm throughout140-150 degrees
Medium-wellPink line in center, quite firm150-155 degrees
Well-doneGray-brown throughout and completely firm160-165 degrees

Cooking Method 2
The second method is a non-risky way to cook a strip loin roast, it may not give you the most tender, juiciest roast but will still be a nice roast.
1. An hour before cooking, remove the roast from the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Season with salt and pepper, place meat fat side up on rack in roasting pan uncovered. Roast meat 15 minutes.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and roast for about 15-18 minutes per pound. Roast meat until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 135-140°F (medium-rare), which will give you maximum flavor and tenderness or 140-150°F (medium) but no more, anything more will begin to dry out the roast. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let stand at least 15-20 minutes.

The internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees during resting time. Remove the strip loin roast 5-10 degrees before the desired doneness. Remember you should always use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness of a roast.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The best pork chops ever

Food blogging is hard if you don't do it for a living for a couple of reasons, the first being that most people don't fix a completely unique meal every day of the week. The same stuff makes it on the menu simply because it's what we like to eat but nobody wants to see 20 posts on the same shredded chicken enchiladas. The second reason being that nobody is breathing down your neck waiting for your copy to fill a news hole - I'm a terrible procrastinator.

For the most part, blogging can be sort of of like talking to yourself.

Just in case there is actually someone out there who reads this, the following recipe is definitely worth making. I was trying to think of something different to make. I didn't find any recipes that sounded good to me so I just made one up. I guess I'll call it:

Pork Chops Provolone


3 or 4 1 1/2 to 2 inch-thick center cut rib end pork chops or one 3 lb roast cut into chops
2 cups milk
salt and pepper
1 28 oz can whole Italian plum tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
6 Tbs olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs fresh tarragon leaves, chopped or 2 - 3 tsps of dried tarragon
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
2 cups of dry Italian-style bread crumbs
3 Tbs butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz sliced, smoked provolone cheese
12 oz dried angel hair pasta


If you are starting out with the roast, as I did because it was on sale for $1.79 a pound, cut into chops.
Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper and soak them in the milk for at least two hours.

While the chops are soaking, make the tomato sauce. Dump the tomatoes in a bowl and use your hands to break them up. You can use canned diced tomatoes but I think the hand-crushed whole tomatoes make a better sauce.
Pour 3 Tbs of olive oil in a sauce pan and turn the burner on low, add the chopped garlic and saute for about a minute until the garlic is fragrant, but don't let it start to brown. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, crushed red pepper and tarragon and simmer for at least one 1/2 hour. If you don't like tarragon, you can substitute fresh or dried oregano or basil instead, but I think tarragon and tomatoes go really well with the flavor of the pork.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Take the pork chops out of the milk and pat them dry with paper towels them dredge them the bread crumbs.
Let the breaded chops sit for a few minutes before browning them in 3 TBS butter and the remaining 3 TBS olive oil - about 5 minutes a side.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish or pan with some of the tomato sauce and lay the pork shops on the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan then lay the slices provolone over the chops. Pour the remaining sauce over the chops and bake, uncovered, for about an hour.

Serve the pork chops and sauce over a bed of the cooked pasta.

These were some of the best pork chops I have ever had in my life.

I made some of this simple bread to go with it. What the recipe lacks in ingredients it makes up for in taste and texture.
The dough is basically the same one I use for my pizza crusts.

Filoncino - Classic Italian Bread


3 and 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour,plus extra for the counter
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup cornmeal
Combine the flour with the yeast and sea salt in mixing bowl  opf a stand mixer using the dough hook attachment. Slowly add 1 and 1/4 cups of warm (110 degree) water. The dough should come together, forming a somewhat sticky,smooth ball. Add a little more flour if the dough is wet or a little more water if it is dry.
Once the dough forms a ball, knead on low for six minutes..Turn the dough out onto the counter,shape into a ball,and transfer to a floured bowl; sprinkle it with a little flour and turn it to coat with the flour on all sides. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in bulk. (Or let the dough rise in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, remembering to bring it to room temperature before shaping it and letting it rise a second time.)
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Cut it into 3 equal pieces and shape each into a ball, making sure you don’t press out all the air bubbles that have developed (leaving air bubbles intact ensures larger air holes once the bread is baked).Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven with a baking stone in it to 475 degrees. If you don’t have a baking stone, heat 2 baking sheets instead.
Pat 1 ball of dough into a flat 1-inch high rectangle measuring about 4 inches x 5 inches. Fold the side furthest from you over toward you and seal the seam using the heel of your hand. Turn the rectangle 180 degrees, and fold the side furthest from you over toward you; seal the seam using the heel of your hand. Fold the resulting log in half lengthwise, sealing the edges with your fingertips. Roll into a 14-inch-long cylinder with slightly tapering ends. Repeat with the 2 remaining balls of dough. Cover with a towel and set aside to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes; the cylinders should increase by half their size.
Slash each cylinder diagonally at 3-inch intervals with a razor blade. Sprinkle lightly with flour. Place on a baking peel that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal and dust with flour; slide onto the baking stone. If you don’t have a baking peel, place the loaves on a reversed baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and slide them into the oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake the bread for 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown and crisp, misting with water from a spray bottle 3 times during the first 10 minutes of baking. (Close the oven door quickly each time to prevent heat from escaping and the bread from deflating.) Cool the bread on a rack and serve at room temperature; alternately, freeze the bread in plastic freezer bags for up to 2 weeks and reheat for 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.
Makes three 12-inch loaves

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Finally, a meal worth writing about

I finally took enough photos and made something different enough to deserve a blog post. More to come.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sometimes they just don't work, friend.

This has happened to me several times. I get an idea in my head to make something I haven't made before and I spend countless hours Googling recipes and comparing them and reading the reviews.
It's no secret that I love pizza. I prefer New York-style but  was nagged by the urge to make a Chicago deep dish pie. I did my typical exhaustive research before deciding on the recipe below.
This pizza is supposed to be a clone of  Giordano's World Famous Chicago Stuffed Pizza.
Giordano's website claims: "Giordano's Pizza was chosen 'Best Pizza in America' by NBC. Chicago Tribune writes 'Giordano's pizza is a must when in Chicago.' New York Times posts, 'The Ultimate Pizza.'"
Blasphemy on the part of the New York Times, if you ask me.

There were 27 reviews and the average rating was 4 and a half out of five stars.
This is the review that convinced me: "Its not often that I am compelled to review something but this recipe is incredible! I've made it once a week for 4 weeks now."
All I can say is, why, oh, why?
I usually don't follow recipes exactly after I've made them at least once the way they are intended- I improvise to tweak them to better suit our taste, but it always irks me to read reviews where the reviewer says instead of this I used that or I didn't have pepperoni so I substituted broccoli and it turned out just great.
So I followed the recipe faithfully as it appeared online. I'm not usually good at following instructions - considering how this pizza turned out, that might not be such a bad thing.

Double Crust Stuffed Pizza


1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar

1 cup warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 (8 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage

1 (4 ounce) package sliced pepperoni

1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped


1.Combine the white sugar and the warm water in a large bowl or in the work bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm sugar water, and let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam. Stir 1 tablespoon olive oil into the yeast mixture.

2.Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt into the flour. Mix half of the flour mixture into the yeast water, and stir until no dry spots remain. Stir in the remaining flour, a 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes (or mix with dough hook in stand mixer).

3.Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a light cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4.Combine the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and salt in small saucepan. Cover pan, and cook over low heat until tomatoes start to break down, about 30 minutes.

5.Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll one piece into a 12 inch thin circle. Roll the other half into a thicker, 9 inch circle.

6.Place the 12 inch dough round into an ungreased 9 inch springform pan. Sprinkle dough with 1 cup of cheese. Shape sausage into a 9 inch patty and place in pan on top of the cheese. Layer pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, red pepper, and remaining cheese on top of sausage patty. Top with the 9 inch dough round and pinch edges to seal. Cut several 1/2 inch vent holes in the top crust. Spread sauce evenly on the top crust, leaving a 1/2 inch border at the edges.

7.Bake pizza in the preheated oven until the crust is set, the cheese is melted, and the sausage is cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Let hot pizza rest for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

As you can tell by the picture, this pizza looked good - you might even say it looked tasty, sadly, it was not.
I made two of these nasty things at the same time thinking that if they were are good as they were cracked up to be, one might not be enough.
We didn't touch the second one so I wrapped it up in aluminum foil and made William take it to work.
He gave it to some friends of ours. William is very leery about my ability to judge my own cooking so he passed it on without warning them that I thought the thing was a disaster - several emails were exchanged about this particular "gift."
The recipients tried very hard to be polite and not say how much it sucked.

My next installment of "don't try this at home" will be the mushroom cannelloni that Emily and I made when she was home. Like these pizzas, they sounded like a good idea at the time.