Sep 12 2010

Wolfie Schnauzer

I’m not going to post about food this time.  This post is all about my miniature schnauzer Stefanwolf or “Wolfie” as he’s better known.  He turned one years old on September 11, 2010. It’s a tragic day in United States history, 9-11 but to me it’s now also a day of great joy.  This little dog has brought me back from the depths of depression and for that I am so thankful.  I wasn’t there to see him born and I didn’t choose him from a litter of pups.

We adopted Wolfie on December 31, 2009, two weeks to the day after our nine year old miniature schnauzer, Saabina, was fatally attacked by another dog.

We drove down  specifically to see Wolfie, a bundle of fur, he had not yet had a schnauzer grooming and little did we know he was the offspring of a show dog.  We met Wolfie and his champion father Blue and mother Olivia all in our whirlwind trip.

Wolfie was 3.5 months old when we brought him home that cold winter day, the last day of 2009.  I remember on the drive home my husband and I trying to choose his name.  We had fun trying to choose and were about to settle on Wolfgang but then Stefanwolf came up and it just seemed so perfect for him.  Stefan is my husbands name and Wolf is the name of the first dog my husband ever knew as a child.  Of course it’s also a play on the band Steppenwolf.  The night we brought Wolfie home there was a blue moon.  Wolfie’s champion father is named Blue.

It was love at first sight.  I knew I would be taking Wolfie home with me.  I knew I needed him as much as he needed me and that was exactly why he was there, waiting for me.

Wolfie packs a lot in his small frame, he’s an enormous joy, a sweet puppy, with a refreshing innocence and a personality all his own who has made me and just about everyone he meets feel the love he so easily shares.

Wolfie goes with me to work everyday, a privilege I am so thankful for.  He gets me out of the office at lunchtime each day and we enjoy a walk together, a welcome break to recharge our batteries.

To celebrate Wolfie’s first birthday my husband and I took Wolfie out for a big hike in the woods.

It was perfect, he loved every moment and we enjoyed exploring the woods with him.  Now he’s curled up on his bed and we’re looking forward to another big walk tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Wolfie!!

Sep 8 2010

Roasted Salmon with Red Pepper and Corn Relish & Purple Potatoes

Red Pepper and Corn Relish
4 red bell peppers

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 ears)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

For relish: Char bell peppers over gas flame or under broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag 10 minutes. Peel and seed peppers; cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and green onions and sauté until corn begins to brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; sauté 2 minutes. Add wine and stir until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in bell peppers, lemon juice, honey, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds. (Relish can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Stir over medium heat until heated through before serving.) Stir parsley into relish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Relish Recipe Source: Bon Appétit, June 2002)

1 skinless salmon fillet (Enough for two people and about 1 3/4 inches thick)

For salmon: Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise with 2 Tablespoons of your favorite hot mustard and brush salmon all over with mixture. Top with panko seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat an iron skillet, place the salmon skin side down and sear just enough to crisp up the skin.  Flip the fish over and then place the skillet in the preheated oven.  Roast salmon until opaque in center, about 10 minutes. Transfer to platter. Spoon relish over salmon and serve with baked purple potatoes.

Sep 6 2010

Fried Green Tomato Pizza (Roof-of-Your-Mouth-Burning-Good)

I love fried green tomatoes and I love creating unique pizzas.  So I decided to give this a try.  I have plenty of green tomatoes and basil in the garden right now.  I made a beer batter to fry the slices of green tomatoes in.

I selected one large and two small green tomatoes, sliced them into rounds about about 1/2″ thick.

I lightly dusted them in flour and dredged them well in the beer batter.

I used Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA for the beer and I thought it worked well.  I don’t like to use just any beer, if I don’t enjoy drinking it, I won’t cook with it either.

Before frying up the beer battered tomato slices, I chopped up about a 1/3 cup of pancetta and fried it in an iron skillet.

Once the pancetta was lightly browned I removed it, added about 1 inche of canola oil and heated it up.  When the oil was heated I started adding the battered green tomato rounds, in batches careful not to overcrowd the pan.  They brown up relatively quickly, after about 2-3 minutes carefully flip the slices and continue to fry for 2-3 for minutes.  Once they are done, drain them on paper towel to cool and remove excess oil.

Roll the pizza dough out, I used Trader Joe’s dough to save time.  I made a quick sauce of extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic and torn fresh basil leaves, mixed well in a flavor shaker.  Brush the pizza with this mixture and then lay the beer batter fried rounds of green tomato on the pizza.  Spread the pancetta pieces all around and a bunch of fresh basil leaves.  I then added several slices of asiago and marinated mozzerella and shredded parmesan cheeses.  I followed up with strips of Capocolla ham and a final light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil all over the pizza.

We place the pizza on a preheated pizza stone on the grill and let it go for a good 10 minutes. This pizza paired well with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Victory HopDevil Ale and Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady Ale.

Sep 5 2010

Tomato, Tomatillo, & tiny, tiny….Watermelon?

I bought this miniature watermelon plant, it said it was little, but seriously? It’s smaller than one of my smaller tomatoes, but still larger than my smallest tomatoes. Since I am the only one in my house who enjoys eating watermelon this might a good one to grow, but couldn’t it be a little bit bigger?

Sep 5 2010

A Breakfast of Herbs

My husband has mastered this herb baked egg breakfast dish. It is based on a recipe he received from a friend. We modify it according to which fresh herbs we have in the garden. It’s always a delight.  This morning for the fresh herb component, I picked garlic chives, golden sage, hot & spicy oregano and Summerlong basil.  We make two eggs per person and that seems to be plenty.

Here’s the recipe he starts with:

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
6 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted French bread or brioche, for serving

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches
below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set
aside. Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 2 small bowls or teacups
(you won’t be baking them in these) without breaking the yolks. (It’s
very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start

Place 2 individual gratin dishes on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon
of cream and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the
broiler for about 3 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Quickly, but
carefully, pour 3 eggs into each gratin dish and sprinkle evenly with
the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place
back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes, until the whites of the
eggs are almost cooked. (Rotate the baking sheet once if they aren’t
cooking evenly.) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them
out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve hot with
skillet fried bacon and toasted bread.

Aug 2 2010

Rachel’s Pizza

My favorite pizza now has a name, “Rachel’s Pizza”.  A summery favorite of squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese seasoned with fresh basil.  A simple sauce of crushed garlic and olive oil, marinated mozzarella slices and plump stuffed squash blossoms.

Jul 14 2010

Papaya Milkshake

So, I finally found a papaya and waited several days for it to ripen.  This evening while the buttercup squash was baking I decided to make my milkshake.  This is my new favorite summer dessert, well in this case, before dinner dessert drink.

All I did was add the fruit of one very ripe papaya and the juice of one lime to my vita mix (or blender) and some really good vanilla bean ice cream.  My husband made Alton Brown’s Serious Vanilla Ice Cream.  So I added several scoops of that luscious ice cream and blended it until it was smooth and creamy.  Pour into chilled glasses and that’s it!  I will definitely be making this again soon!!

Jul 11 2010

Baby, Schnauzers

Yesterday was a really fun day. We were heading down to take our mini schnauzer Wolfie to the Hereford Country Club for Pets for his grooming appointment.  This is also the kennel where we adopted him on December 31, 2009.

Before heading to his appointment we were fortunate enough to be able to visit our friends Sam and Jenny to meet their adorable new baby boy.  We are looking forward to seeing baby Joey again soon.

We headed to the groomers and dropped Wolfie off for a couple hours of expert treatment.  When we came back after some lunch and food shopping at the nearby Wegman’s we were excited to see four silly black and silver mini schnauzer puppies romping around in the lawn area of the kennel.  They were a hoot and it was so hard to tear ourselves and Wolfie away from them and head for home.

Jul 9 2010

My Veg Gardens

Here's how my veggie gardens are looking this week.

Jul 7 2010

4th of July Anniversary Dinner Outing

I got married on the 4th of July in 1998.  We chose this day mostly because we didn’t have much time to plan our wedding, it was a holiday weekend which meant more family could attend and mind you we are not overly patriotic but we thought fireworks on our anniversary every year would be nice.

You might think we’re odd but we don’t give each other mushy cards (okay I occasionally cave and do this, nothing store bought though, promise) or even gifts on our anniversary, instead we began a tradition of always going out for a (hopefully) fabulous meal.  This year was no exception.

We went to The Columbus Inn, it recently reopened and we decided to give it a try, risky as we knew it could be.  We were hopeful but cautiously so.

I never give myself enough time to get ready, especially when it involves dressing up, which we rarely do.  I had bought a dress last year that I thought was so cool because it could be worn 47 different ways, okay maybe 7.  So of course this was the first time I was going to wear it and I couldn’t figure out one way to wear it, let alone 7.  But in the last three minutes before we had to leave I was able to finagle it in such a way that I thought looked pretty good, and luckily, husband agreed.

We arrived to find it was valet parking, not very common in our usual outings but nice.  We walked in to find a cool wine room and recently renovated dining area.

The waiter was helpful and informative.  He told us a little about the menu and we took our time perusing the various courses, wines, cocktails and other offerings.  We were impressed and looking forward to our meal and felt we had found a good place to celebrate.

We put in our order: we started with the roasted marrow bones with gremolata, I ordered the loin of lamb, chef’s choice of medium rare, with mustard spaetzle and grilled romaine.  My husband went for the milk-fed veal, also medium rare, with blue foot mushroom and sweetbread ragout, and carrot salad.

When our appetizer of roasted marrow bone arrived we were pleased to see a new preparation, instead of the typical rounds of bone surrounding the marrow, this one was a long bone, about 8 inches sliced in half.  This made getting to the marrow all too easy and we found ourselves fighting over the savory, buttery filling. We have had this before, I’ve made it at home but it’s not a dish we make often as it is not easy to find the bones where we live.  Our local butcher does not sell them so we must go to Philly when we have a craving.  Anyway, as we were enjoying our roasted marrow bone the restaurant manager came to our table to see how we liked it.  She was very impressed that we ordered it and told us we were her favorite table of the evening.  We were surprised by that and then our waiter came by to say how we had impressed his manager.  Who knew?

Our entrees were also very delicious and we were oohing and awing and sharing bites from each others plates.  For dessert we shared a wonderful olive oil cake, garnished with fresh blueberries, tapioca, lavender and pistachios.  My husband ordered the french pressed coffee, Michicha Sundried, an Ethiopian coffee and I had a cocktail to end the meal.  It was just lovely and a great way to celebrate our anniversary.  I’m sure we will go back soon.