Combining my interests of music, cooking, recipes, photos and tune talk.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day French Onion Grilled Cheese

A Fathers Day Treat
The Day: Father's Day
The Meal: French Onion Grilled Cheese
The Drink: Beer
The Soundtrack: Kings of Leon - Because of the Times

Its the third Sunday in June and that means its father's day. Not coincidentally, its also the final round of the US Open. With coverage starting late since the tournament is being held in San Francisco this year, that leaves some time available to make a delicious lunch before it goes on the air.

Now my dad doesn't live in the same city, so this meal is largely symbolic, but assuming I were back home, we'd likely be enjoying our sandwiches and beers together watching the Golf.  He's got the next best thing, a large HD TV and an empty house with no distractions for the following 6+ hours of coverage!

I put on Because of the Times while getting everything ready prior to the Open coverage.  This is an album I was introduced to in 2008 and it has grown on me ever since.  I went to see them in concert last year and they put on a pretty good show.   The album is quite good and isn't filled with the heavily overplayed radio cuts found on Only by the Night.

A tear filled experience
The Ingredients:
Rye Bread
3 Onions
450ml Beef Stock
1 TBLS Oil
Gruyere Cheese
Cooked Bacon
Onions and Stock Simmering
Start by cutting the onions.  Slice them up fairly thin so they will caramelize and then halving them so that they maintain some onion stringiness.
Toss them in the pan on high with the oil and the beef stock.  Cook for about 15 minutes until the mixture thickens. 
Sandwich Prep

While the onions are cooking, cut up the Gruyere, rye bread and bacon in preparation for assembly.
I made the Rye the day before and its a great consistency for this sandwich since its thick enough to hold it all together.  I'll probably make it again and it should make it as a post.

Once the Onions are cooked, add to the Rye, top with Gruyere, bacon and the top slice of rye.  Place the sandwiches in the pan and fry up until the cheese melts and the bread toasts.
Ready for the Frying Pan

It was a delicious sandwich and I got the recipe and idea from Chatelaine.

Happy Father's Day Dad.  See you soon!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Salmon and Feta Omelet Breakfast Wrap

Breakfast Wrap and OJ
The Meal: Salmon and Feta Omelet Breakfast Wrap
The Drink: Pure not from concentrate Orange Juice
The Soundtrack: Good Morning Good Morning

Its breakfast time and I rarely listen to music at breakfast since I am typically hurriedly rushing off to work, only leaving the house at the time I should be arriving at my desk.  So I did a quick mp3 search to find the Beatles' Good Morning Good Morning, a little barnyard ditty John Lennon threw together with the inspiration from my typical breakfast partner, Cornelius Rooster.  Its true, one of the songs from one of the most renowned songwriters on one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time developed from reading a box of Corn Flakes...

Since the idea of eating Corn Flakes for another 42 days straight was little boring, and I had some left over BBQ Salmon from the Pizza the other night, this seemed like the perfect opportunity for an Omelet wrap.
2 Eggs
1/2 Onion
1/3 Red Pepper
1 Stalk Celery
1 Clove Garlic
Leftover BBQ Salmon

Dice up the Pepper, Onion, Celery and Garlic and saute in the oil until soft and starting to brown.
When almost complete, add the Salmon for a quick reheat without turning it into rubber. Nobody likes overcooked fish. 
Scramble the eggs and cook.  Typically I would do it in the same pan because I hate making more dishes than absolutely necessary, but I like the look of little pan for omelet eggs and washing it is a small price to pay for breakfast art.

On the wrap, lay out the cooked eggs and pepper, salmon mix.  Top with crumbled feta cheese and fresh Rosemary.
How you choose to wrap your breakfast omelet is up to you, but I always like to leave a space at the back end and fold it over before wrapping up the sides.  This will keep all the delicious contents of your breakfast, in your wrap as you eat it.  No need to eat over the sink, this dish is mess free!

I'm Cornelius and I approve this breakfast*

* Cornelius does not actually approve this breakfast and strongly suggests you go buy another box of Corn Flakes or any other delicious Kellogg's product.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry Bruchetta

The Dish: Strawberry Bruchetta

True, this wasn't the most exciting of times in the kitchen.  No drinks on a week night and I didn't even turn on the Stereo.  Would Strawberry Fields Forever have been too cliche for such a dish?  I certainly think so.  That and I don't own Magical Mystery Tour.

I needed to whip up a tasty treat for a work pot luck and that's always the best time to try something new.  If its no good, you don't have to eat the whole thing! If it is good, lots of praise and requests for recipes.  Its win/win.  Upon consulting my pot-luck menu advisor, Robyn suggested this delicious treat.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Cut the baguette into slices and toast.  Start with the toasting so that it has an opportunity to cool while the rest of the dish is prepared so that the cheese doesn't melt.
Mix the honey in with the Mascarpone until the desired sweetness is achieved and then spread it on the toast.  Place the sliced strawberries on top of the honey/cheese mixture and sprinkle with a little sugar.
Heat the balsamic and reduce until thicker.
I have since been informed by my enlightened colleague Barb, that you can purchase a balsamic glaze without having to make a reduction out of a vinaigrette.  Should you want to go that route, I assume that would work too.

All in all, the dish was well received and there was none left. Can't complain about that.

As always, there was a ton of great food and we all ate too much.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spicy Salmon and Tomato Pizza

Spicy Salmon Pizza
The Meal: Spicy Salmon and Tomato Pizza
The Soundtrack: Stanley Cup Finals game 6
The Drink: Milk

Since I had some dough left over from Friday's Bacon Sausage Pizza and it was the final game of the NHL Season, so I figured another pizza would be a good idea.  But in order to change it up, I went for a spicy salmon pizza.
The Jalapeno was really spicy so the milk was a fantastic accompaniment to cool the mouth down. 


Fresh Pizza Dough
Seasoned BBQ Salmon
1 Tomato
1 Jalapeno
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Roll out the dough to the desired size, spread the tomato sauce and cover with thin tomato slices.  Cover with cheese and then toss on slices of jalapeno.  Top with small pieces of fresh seasoned BBQ salmon.
Cook in the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes at 450F.
Let it cool for a few minutes, slice and enjoy while watching the Kings hoist the cup.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bacon Sausage Pizza and Underdogs

The Dish: Bacon, Sausage, Jalapeno, Tomato and Spinach Pizza
The Tunes: Matthew Good Band - Underdogs
The Drink: Kokanee Glacier Fresh Beer

What started from a thought that I hadn't had pizza in a while turned into a good ol' Canadian themed night.  What better way to get into the Canadian spirit than a bacon pizza, kick-ass 90's Canadian alternative rock and then washing it all down with a delicious, yet generic and mass produced Canadian Lager!

Get this Album!
For those that know me, its likely you've heard my shameless promotion of Canadian music. For a country of this size, we have a remarkable quantity of great musicians and bands, putting out tons of great music.  Sometimes this gets discarded by nay-sayers and people that don't know any better and they blame the can-con rules for promoting crappy bands.  Well yes, cancon does promote crappy bands.  There is crappy music everywhere... But it helps a lot of really good ones too.  It would be all too easy for the Canadian media to take the American steam of music and just crank it out incurring no costs and just making mad CA$H.  Well we did this for decades and our poor Canadian artists had to move to the states or the UK to get noticed before making money and returning to the homeland.

So back to the topic; Matt Good and my pizza.  Underdogs is one of my favourite albums from back in the day.  It is one of those albums that is good from start to finish.  I hear Matt Good is a real asshole, but maybe that helps put out good music.  It's a throw back that reminds of my days in high school when Canadian Alt rock was almost all that came out of my stereo.

Dough Ingredients
Dough Roll to be cut into thirds
2 1/4 Tsp Dry Active Yeast
1 Cup Water
1 Tsp Sugar
2 Tlbs Salt
2 Tlbs Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary
3 Cups Flour

This is a slightly modified recipe I grabbed from Tyler Florence from the Food network.  Mix the yeast, sugar and water together and let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast activates. Add salt and olive oil and chopped up Rosemary and then slowly mix in flour until the mixture comes together.  If after a few minutes its crumbly, add a little water.  If its too sticky, add a little flour. Once a good consistency is reached, cover on the counter and let rise for 1 hour.
During this hour it is a great time to get your toppings prepared, including cooking the sausage and bacon. 

Toppings, begging to be turned into a delicious Pizza!
4 strips Cooked Bacon
1 Cooked Sausage (I used Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage)
1 Tomato
1 Jalapeno
Every bit as tasty as it looks!

Cut the dough into three equal pieces and roll out each one in your pan until its the desired size.  Cover with tomato sauce, spinach, tomato and then the cheese.  Top with the Jalapenos, cut up bacon strips and sliced sausage.

Toss in the oven at 500F for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven.

Serve while wearing flannel, watching hockey and drinking beer greater than 4.5% alc./vol..
Stanley Cup Finals tomorrow, this might be a good idea!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sausage and Spinach Ravioli and Some Girls

The Soundtrack: The Rolling Stone's Some Girls on vinyl
The Drink: Rum and Coke
The Meal: Sausage and Spinach Ravioli and Fresh Pasta

Just my Imagination:
To start the evening off, I had a bit of a scare.  I powered up the ol' turntable for a Classic Rock themed evening only to find that my turntable wouldn't turn.  And you might think, well then, isn't it just a table?  Not at all.  You can't eat off it or do anything really.  A turn table that won't turn, isn't really any good for anything.
But alas, like a lot of things that of that age, it just takes a while to get going.  Note that my record player is an antiquity from the early 70's and is far older than I am.  Based on the fact that my top of the line computer is trash in about 18 months, that means in electronics years my phonograph is about 1,542,126 years old.

Beast of Burden: I thought the phono was dead, but after leaving it one for about ten minutes, I came back to find that it was up to speed!  On go the Stones.  But Dave, disco Stones?  Really?  For those that haven't listened to the Stone's attempt at keeping up with the late 70's disco fad, its surprisingly good.

2 Sausage Links, casing removed
1/2 cup chopped cooked Spinach
1 container Ricotta
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 Egg
Salt, Pepper to taste
Fresh Pasta

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper.  Remove the sausage from the casing and cook.  Toss into the bowl with the mix.  Cook up the spinach in the sausage grease.  Mmm, sausage grease.
Let it cool and then dice that up and add it to the bowl.  Mix everything together. 

Before they make me run: Whip up your pasta using whatever recipe you like.  I used a 1/2 and 1/2 All purpose flour and Semolina flour (1 cup of each) concoction with 3 eggs and a pinch of salt.
mix together and then cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Write blog into.
Kneed pasta.
Roll out pasta to desired thickness and cut into squares for ravioli. 

Add a spoonful of the sausage/Spinach mix to each square of pasta.  Dab your finger in a water bowl to wet the edges of each square before adding the top portion of pasta.  Seal around the edges and your job is basically complete.

After all is said and done: Toss your completed pasta in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes until cooked and then serve as you wish.  I used a previously made pesto sauce, shredded Parmesan and red chilies.

So if you're down on your luck,
and you can't harmonize, find a girl with far away eyes

Intro Ramblings and other thoughts while I wait for my pasta to set

What activity in life isn't made better by listening to great music?  There's nothing I enjoy more than listening to great music.  I like to do all sorts of things with the stereo on, the headphones in or car radio blaring, but most of all, putting together a good meal at home while pumping some tunes throughout the house is a favourite activity of mine. 
Oh, and I did I mention a drink in hand?  If you ask me, that's a cooking requirement.  Now, I've never been to Chef's school, but I can only imagine that having a top quality drink in hand while working in the kitchen is covered on day one.  Gotta use a 1/2 cup of wine in a recipe?  Can't let the rest of the bottle go to waste.  Wine not on the docket for the evening?  That's where the well stocked bar comes in handy.
So you've come up with a stellar recipe that you want to hit out of the park.  Maybe you want to turn the dial up on the wow factor for the family, maybe you're trying to impress a lady you're having over on a date, or maybe you live alone and have nothing better to do on a Saturday night, but if you really want to dazzle, you need to own the experience.  Love it.  Have a blast!
Put together a play list, toss on your favourite album, find a closet classic and dust it off.  It doesn't really matter what you put on, but find something that lifts your soul while you work.  How do you chose what goes with what meal?  Whatever speaks to you at that particular minute.
I've got records, CDs, iPod play lists, satellite radio and in the event of a catastrophic power failure, 3 guitars, a keyboard and a drum set to make my own band. I wonder if the neighbour can play my harmonica?
Apparently, even in suburbia the music can still be 'too loud'.  While I disagree, I've had the neighbours stop by my place for less than cordial visits on several occasions due to the volume of music emanating from my living room.  Really?  On a Saturday evening before 10pm, you're really going to come over and ask me to turn the music down?  If the power ever does go out, you're not invited to be in my band, even if you do play harmonica...

So mix a drink, put on a great album and get starting on cooking up a storm!

Bon Apetit!