Tilapia on a bed of ratatouille

The other night I was roasting cauliflower for one of our favorite dishes. While the cauliflower roasted, I tossed in a few more pans to roast zucchini, green peppers, and eggplant chunks. I tossed the latter 3 roasted veggies/fruits into a large bowl for the next night and went on to prep the cauliflower dish.

roasting cauliflower, epplant, zucchini and green peppers
roasting up a storm

The next night, I took all the roasted veggies and simmered them with some garlic, basil and tomatoes for about a half hour. Nice and soft, I took the mixture and ladled it into a shallow bake pan and place a few tilapia fillets on top. The entire mixture was baked with the fillets getting a small squirt of lemon juice and olive oil half way through the 20 minute bake at 350°F.

The entire dish rested and 3 portions were served up. I saw this pairing in a magazine the other day and couldn't imagine the ratatouille would be good with the fish, but it was wonderful ... and fast. Definite new favorite for us.

tilapia fillet on a bed of ratatouille
Tilapia on ratatouille


mmm ... kielbasa in the making

The gang bought me all the stuff for kielbasa for Father's day: stew beef, fat back, spices, hog casings. The works!

A few weeks back, I diced the beef and fat and got it ready. Doing this on a parental time scale in which weeks pass between steps, I finally got to break into action yesterday. I ground the beef and fat coarse, added spices, mixed and stuffed. A few complications during stuffing, but nothing big (I assembled the stuffer incorrectly which caused a delay), but the product never suffered.

I took a sample of a quunelle and a short kielbasa and smoked them to "take a peek" at the batch. Smoked kielbasa is from the gods. This discipline is amazing. Stew meat (cheap) and pork fat (usually free) combined to give a delicacy. The fresh sausage is a great deal of fun and a lot more fun than the dry-cured effort because of the immediate feedback.

Next? Sweet/hot Italian sausage.


No Knead Focaccia

I couldn't seem to get another Weber Stephens commercial, so I had to do the production myself. Here's a quick kneadless focaccia. REMEMBER - the camera adds 10 lbs (seriously, I need to drop a few - I look like a slob).

And, here's a sample of one of these type of focaccias using 1 C unbleached white and 1 C King Arthur's White whole wheat.

focaccia from batter


The soup that saved the ribs

utilization of imperfect ribs
This is about a thimbulfull of soup. I hate keeping leftovers because of their inevitable death via bacterial attack. This soup will not go to waste. I yearn for the time before dinner when I have the munchies and toss it down on a taco chip. mmmmm.

A short while back I had a rib malfunction. I had a ton of rib meat left over. I hesitantly vacuum wrapped them all and took a break to think about what to do with the leftovers.

I took one of the many half-racks hanging out in the freezer, and tossed it in a mixture of black beans (canned, Goya, 2 x 15 oz with liquid), onions, garlic, olive oil, fresh ground cumin, dry oregano, salt and pepper and let the mixture barely perk a couple hours.

If I could package the smell of this simmering pot, I could sell it as an air freshener. I pulled the half rack out, let it cool, pulled the meat off and tossed it back in and we ate it the next night. Frankie's big on the bean thing, but hates soups. She ate this and was darn happy about it. Pleasing the capricious palate of the 5-year old is no small trick. It was a nice save from a mediocre bbq run. I will probably always cook a few extra half racks just for this soup.


Chef's first soup, I was her sous chef

her first soup

According to the movie Ratatouille, a chef is judged by her ability to make a soup.

This is Frankie's first soup. It's local, organic and has lots of sprinkles in it. It has been put in the fridge for Mom's lunch for tomorrow. She cut the basil and chives fresh tonight for it. Our good friends gave us some very nice tomatoes from their garden. A few of those were used in it too. For color and texture, various colored and flavored sprinkles - LOTS of sprinkles, were added as needed.

From what I observed the recipe is as follows (she did this entirely on her own).

add in order:
water, 1/2C
basil, scissored-chiffonade, 3-4 leaves
chives, scissor-chopped finely
tomatoes, small diameter, 2, crushed
mini marshmallows, about 10
flower shaped candies, 10-20 shakes
green tiny sprinkles, 20 shakes
red sprinkles, ca. 20 shakes
taste, add more sprinkles if necessary,
garnish with additional sprinkles
Mix vigorously,
Chill in fridge until tomorrow.


dueling Webers

dueling webers
behold the beauty (click through for annotations on image)
Been a couple days now and I'm still hanging my head in shame.

I don't know exactly what happened, but the ribs sucked. They cooked a long time, but they tasted a bit tough and a bit underdone - even though it would be impossible for them to underdone. Temps never got better 270 and hung about 240 most of the 6 hour cook. I'm thinking I stacked the grill too much. Not enough room between the half racks to properly render while cooking.

On the other side, the pork shoulder and chicken were fine. Just tainted from the bad rib run.

Agony of defeat.