Monday, October 8, 2012

Fun with Food

So we are realizing how tough it sometimes to get dinner on the table -let alone document it in photos - hence the sparseness of posts around these parts lately

Today is a simple one though - fun with food.

Being a crafter as well as a gardener and devourer of all things yummy, I frequent the website CraftGossip, where I am often linked to great ideas food related.

Like this one - molded cheese!  (that is 'molded', not 'moldy')

Using silicone molds, mozzarella cheese, a microwave and a fridge -you too can turn a big block of cheese into your favorite fun shape.  And around our house - that means LEGO!

I see all sorts of party snack possibilities, here!!!  But since there are no parties in our near future -these will find their way into the Munchkin's lunchbox (and mine, too!)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Hi. My name is Matt, and I have an irrational fear of cooking seafood."


I denied it. I joked about it. I accepted it. I avoided it... but I never did anything about it.

Until now.

I don't know why I was always afraid of cooking seafood. I enjoy eating it, so why the trepidation to prepare it? Seafood cooks fast, and if you're not careful, you'll mess it up bad, and spend the next week trying to get the smell out of your house.  I was so used to longer cooking times of other dishes, I felt comfortable in cooking several things at once. I didn't want to lose my timing and brick the fish.

Then I decided to try... tilapia.

Tilapia is easy, tasty, sustainable, available both fresh and frozen (our choice for convenience), and relatively cheap. And as my friend Gin so eloquently puts it...


I think that's enough... here it goes...

Easy Parmesan-crusted Tilapia
Serves: 4
Total Time: 25 minutes (5 min. prep, 25 min. bake)

4-4 oz. Tilapia fillets
"Drench" - 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbs. milk
"Dredge" - 1/2 c. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan, 1 tsp. dried oregano,
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
canola cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
2. Lightly spray a 13x9 glass pan with the cooking spray.
3. Pat each thawed piece of tilapia dry. Why? Well, it's the physics of breading...stuff. If the fish is wet, the drench won't stick to it. In a nutshell, "wet sticks to dry, dry sticks to wet." You know, the whole "opposites attract" thing... trust me. Okay, back to the recipe...
4. Drench each piece of fish in the beaten egg and milk mixture, to coat.
5. Then dredge each coated piece in the breadcrumb/Parm mixture, to cover completely.
6. Place in the prepared glass pan, and sprinkle some of the remaining breadcrumb/Parm mixture, to catch any spots you may have missed.
7. Bake for 20 minutes. The fish will whitish and flake easily when it is done.

See? I knew I could overcome it.





Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hitting the RESET button...

Sometimes, the 'RESET' button is a good thing... well, at least for AnyIdeasForDinner.com, it's a good thing.

Well, not a complete tear-it-down-to-the-studs remodel job, but more of a reboot, to get the ideas flowing again, and get back to more regular posts.

So... with that said, we're looking forward to getting back down to work in the coming weeks, to bring you some new ideas, articles, recipes, reviews, techniques and maybe a few surprises!

Thanks for sticking around, we're glad you did!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Intercontinental Peanut Butter Bread


This quick-bread has its beginnings in Japan (bear with me -this is a long roundabout story).

Way back in 1991, before the internet, before easy access to things no matter where you are in the world, a couple of crazy American gals found themselves in Japan - and craving peanut butter.

Not the "peanut spread" that was available in Japan at the time (think very sweet peanut butter flavored cream donut filling) but real, honest to goodness, American peanut butter.

We found it - but only by ordering it by the case. 36 LARGE jars per case - and no mixing of crunchy or creamy. Even dividing it up between friends, we each ended up with a LOT of peanut butter.

Somehow in looking for other creative ways to use it, Erleen found a recipe for peanut butter bread in one of her cookbooks. I recall making this frequently, and that my Japanese co-workers and host family were very fond of it -as it was not so sweet.

Fast forward 19 years, and I am hankering peanut-butter bread. Not quite sure where I put my hand written copy of the recipe - I contacted Erleen through Facebook... doubtful that through her move back to the US and then to the UK - not to mention 19 years elapsed time - that she even had this cookbook anymore, much less remembered which book or which recipe.

Thirty minutes later - I had it in my hands again! Ah the wonders of the internet!!!

I baked up two loaves today -one regular and one with chocolate chips added. I did not take step by step photos - I think you can figure that out on your own.

Peanut Butter Bread

2 c. white flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 c. milk
1 egg, well beaten

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease a loaf pan.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix together.
Add the peanut butter, milk and egg.
Mix until well blended.
Spoon into the pan (mix will be very stiff and thick) and bake for about 50-55 minutes.
Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

Options:
Use 'chunky' peanut butter for bits of nut in your loaf.
Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Notes:
Freezes well.
Tends to be a bit moister in the center - verging on undercooked. If anyone knows how to remedy that, please let me know...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

rustic rhubarb tart

This recipe first appeared in an earlier post, It's a Memorial Day Cook-Out, but since I just harvested and prepped about 16 cups of rhubarb from our garden, I thought I'd break it out into it's own post.

Rustic Rhubarb Tart

3 c. fresh rhubarb, peeled, and cut into 1/2” pieces and blanched**
1 refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. tapioca
Fresh nutmeg
Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
Whipped cream and honey, for garnish

** Due to the short baking time of a tart over a pie, I was concerned with how well the rhubarb would soften in the oven, so I decided to blanche the rhubarb for a few seconds in a pot of boiling water, and then quickly into an ice bath to cool. Peeling the rhubarb also helps. Oh, and did I mention the rhubarb is from our garden?

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Place rhubarb in a small bowl and sprinkle with the half of the sugar and the tapioca. If the rhubarb is particularly tart, go ahead and add the rest of the sugar. Let rest while the oven warms and the pie crust is prepped. This will draw some water out of the rhubarb.
3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. (Tip: a few shots of cooking spray will help hold the parchment in place on the baking sheet.)

4. Carefully roll out the pie crust onto the parchment, and repair any tears or holes.

5. Spoon the half the rhubarb onto the center of the pie crust, leaving about a two inch border from the edge. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar, cinnamon, and a few grates of fresh nutmeg. Repeat with the rest of the rhubarb, and a bit more sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
6. Carefully start forming the pie crust into a tart around the rhubarb by folding and overlapping the edge. Brush the folded crust with the melted butter, and lightly sprinkle on a bit of sugar and cinnamon.
7. Place on the center rack of your 400 degree oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, but start watching it after 25 minutes, until it is golden brown and delicious.
8. Remove from oven and cool before serving. Garnish with local honey and whipped cream (please, make your own if you have the time… from local heavy cream, or course!)
Enjoy!

Matt

Saturday, January 23, 2010

pork n' pork n' grits

Quick post/recipe here. Played around with a new dish tonight that I think will need to be revisited and tweaked -- definitely a good start.

Start with a pork tenderloin -- should be about 2-3 inches in diameter. Sprinkle with ginger, a bit of cinnamon and cumin, some sugar and kosher salt, then the zest of one orange.
Because the tenderloin is relatively lean, and because bacon is delicious, wrap the tenderloin in bacon. Sprinkle on a bit more kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, then pop in a 400F oven until cooked to your liking.

In the meantime, cook up some grits. I usually figure on about half a cup of grits per person, which is a generous portion. First off, don't use instant grits! Instant grits taste like, well, nothing. Find yourself some good, quality grits. Cook them in milk, and be sure to add some butter -- not Paula Dean quantities of butter, but a generous amount. I like using unsalted butter so that I can adjust the salt levels separately. Keep adding milk as they cook to keep the consistency creamy.
Once the pork is done, be sure to let it rest for a while before slicing it.

Pile of grits on the plate... a couple of slice of the pork on top... a dusting of parsley and paprika to finish it. Quite tasty!
I'm open to some suggestions for vegetables to add to this dish. Any ideas? Anyone?

Monday, January 4, 2010

epic cooking: beef bourguignon

Finally, back to food blogging. It's been far too long, so I thought I'd start back with something special -- Beef Bourguignon. Here's the recipe from Fine Cooking, which contains a daunting list of ingredients and a lengthy list of instructions for assembly. (Can I call it epic?)

The cooking took place on top of a mountain in Saluda, NC, with Jeff and I taking care of the work for our ladies. Cooking began the evening of January 1st, reducing 2 bottles of red wine for marinating 6 lbs of gloriously marbled beef. After about 90 minutes, the beef was soaking happily amongst reduced wine and the aromatics.
Cooking resumed the next morning at around 10 in the morning: searing the beef, sauteing the vegetables and further reducing the marinade. Everything went back into my new cast iron dutch oven (thanks mother-in-law!) for a long cook at 325F.

Meanwhile, the 'garnishes' were prepared: pearl onions, bacon and mushrooms, all sauteed in butter to absolute deliciousness.A few more steps later and the garnishes joined the beef and thickened sauce for a final simmer on the stovetop. Bread was fried in olive oil (wow!) and it was all served up family style in a great ceramic platter available to us in the cabin. A tasty salad, a bottle of red wine and a bottle of Westmalle Trippel completed the meal.
Extremely tender beef. A rich and complex sauce. This recipe certainly is a lot of work, but if you have the time and motivation, it is absolutely worth it. Hours of cooking over two days, eaten with the best of friends, and overlooking an incredible mountain view -- a memorable meal, indeed.