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Author Archives: MikeG

About MikeG

In my forties, married, stay at home dad who loves to write and read. I have a Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in English and work as a freelance writer/proofreader/editor. I love reading and writing, music, cooking, am a baseball fanatic, an autograph collector and occasionally enjoy a Guinness or a vodka martini (Grey Goose, please). I've been through a lot, seen a lot, read a lot and have a lot to say.

Clean Mama’s 7-Day Kitchen Cleaning Plan That You Can Actually Manage | Bon Appetit

As much as we all try, it can be easy for cleaning the kitchen to get away from us. All of a sudden you wake up one morning and see that your kitchen is just a shell of what you want it to be and you have to spend hours getting it back into shape. It can be much easier for you to tackle one task at a time over the course of a week, and Bon Appetit has set out a 7-day kitchen cleaning plan that can help you get your kitchen looking its best so that maintenance becomes much easier for you. Check it out!

Source: Clean Mama’s 7-Day Kitchen Cleaning Plan That You Can Actually Manage | Bon Appetit

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An Elegant Meal at any Time – Oven Roasted Rack of Pork

An elegant meal for a weeknight is not something I typically consider. Like most families, we are just too busy to make something like that happen too often, but every once in a while our calendars all seem to mesh together, and we are all home at a reasonable time. This gives me the opportunity to make something a bit fancier during the week than what I might normally make. Of course, an elegant meal can be easy too if you take the right approach and have the right recipe. I had picked up a five bone rack of pork from the store the other day at a really great price and knew that this would be a great meal to make on a weeknight without much fuss. I found this recipe as I was searching online at Ask Chef Dennis for a simple oven roasted rack of pork that promised great flavor. In the recipe, he uses McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning spice (which I also use on occasion and have on hand), but he also provides you with a recipe for a spice blend that mimics the flavors so you can make your own if you cannot buy it near you.

Oven Roasted Rack of Pork

1 – 8 bone center cut rack of pork

Olive oil

Montreal Steak Seasoning (McCormick’s, or try the recipe that follows, or use your own favorite spice blend)

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

6 garlic cloves, peeled

Copycat Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon dill seeds

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

To make your own spice blend, place the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seeds, granulated onion, red pepper flakes, granulated garlic, salt, paprika and black peppercorns together in a spice grinder or food processor and blend the spices together for about 5 to 10 seconds.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a roasting pack, add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic to the bottom of the pan. Pat the rack of pork dry with paper towels and apply a liberal amount of olive oil all over the pork, rubbing it into the meat. Season the pork with the Montreal Steak Seasoning, your own spice blend, or salt and pepper. Season all of the rack to coat it well. Place the pork on top of the chopped vegetables and roast the pork in the oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue roasting the pork for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer or until the internal temperature of the outside racks of the pork reach 160 degrees. This will ensure that the outside of the pork is well done while the center cuts are not cooked as much. Remove the rack of pork from the oven and place it on a cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing the meat. This will allow the juices to remain in the rack and keep the meat moist.

While the pork is resting, place 2 cups of water in the roasting pan with the cooked vegetables and place the roasting pan on the stovetop on a burner set over medium heat. With a wooden spoon, loosen all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and stir together for about 1 to 2 minutes to make a quick pan sauce. Strain out all of the vegetables to get a smoother sauce.

Cut the rack of pork along the bones, making even portions of the pork (basically pork chops) and serve with the pan sauce and your side dishes.

I enjoyed the spice blend on the meat, and the spices lent the perfect flavor to the dish. The spices formed a great crust on the outside of the pork so that you could get great flavor with each bite you took. The pan sauce was a nice touch as well and goes well with the pork and just about any side dish you make with it. I made some fresh broccoli and rice to go with the pork, and the sauce kicked up the plain rice a bit. You could serve this with potatoes as well, and the potatoes would work nicely roasted under the rack of pork with your other vegetables to help pick up some additional flavors. There is not much to the recipe itself and you do need a little bit of extra time to cook this meal during the week, but if you have the time to do it, it can be quite a nice meal to change things up.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Spices

 

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Dessert in a Flash – You’ll Love These Lemon Squares

Very often I find the need to make a dessert item at the last minute. It could be that someone is stopping by for a visit or coffee, we get invited someplace, or we just feel like having something sweet for dessert ourselves at home. Whatever the reason, sometimes I want to go beyond what a box of brownie mix can offer. There’s nothing wrong with boxed brownies; we use them often, and you can jazz them up in a number of ways to make them seem like they are homemade. However, I don’t always want to have chocolate, so having a good fallback dessert that you can make with what you have in your pantry is a good option. That is why these lemon squares are perfect. They only require a few ingredients, and they are all things you always have around in the house so in under an hour you can have a great tasting dessert that seems like you put a lot of work into it. I got this recipe from Dena Kleiman at New York Times Cooking, and it worked out perfectly.

Lemon Squares

2 cups flour, plus 1/4 cup

½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 teaspoons

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

4 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

cup lemon juice (from about 1 to 2 lemons)

½ teaspoon baking powder

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together two cups of flour, 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar and the salt. Add the melted butter and stir the ingredients to thoroughly combine them. Spread the crust with clean hands in an even layer into a 9-by-13-inch pan and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice, baking powder and the remaining flour. Pour the lemon mixture onto the hot baked shell and bake it for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is just set. Using a small, fine-meshed sieve, sift the remaining confectioners’ sugar on top of the lemon squares once they have cooled. Cut the dessert into equal-sized bars.

It’s quite simple to make, and it tastes great. You get that fantastic lemon flavor you love in desserts like this with just the right amount of chewiness and crunch. These squares are perfect for any occasion, whether you are looking for something to bring to someone’s home, are making a bunch of cookies for a cookie swap or holiday party or just want to have a tasty treat at home to go nicely for a dessert or with a cup of coffee or tea.Depending on how big you cut the squares, you can get about 16 to 20 squares, so there are plenty to go around. I’ll be using this recipe again because it is so easy to make.

That’s all I have for today. Work has kept me pretty busy lately, so I don’t have as much time as I want to blog, but I am going to try to get here a few times this week to try and get caught up with things (though getting caught up seems to be a rarity these days). Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Cookies, Cooking, Dessert, Snacks

 

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8 Line Cooks Share Hacks to Cut Your Prep Time in Half | Bon Appetit

Prep work for a meal is something many of us do not have a lot of time to handle, particularly during the week when things get hectic enough. Finding shortcuts, better ways and more efficient methods is always a beautiful thing to help you save some time chopping vegetables and getting things ready for a meal during the week or on the weekend. Bon Appetit has 8 tips here from professional line cooks that they use to make their job easier so you would have to think they are methods that would benefit the rest of us really well. Check it out!

New recipes coming this week for sure as I iron out some free time to do more blogging in between other responsibilities and adventures. Check back and see what is going on!

Source: 8 Line Cooks Share Hacks to Cut Your Prep Time in Half | Bon Appetit

 

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Some Indoor Barbecue – Oven Roasted Maple Chicken and Ribs

Those that follow this blog know I have long lamented about the inability I have to use an outdoor grill here. New York State laws don’t allow condos and apartments to own gas or charcoal grills, and the electric grill, while doing its job, didn’t really offer that much in the way of a good grilling experience. This has left me to my own devices when it comes to grilling, meaning I do what I can indoors with the oven and stovetop. While I will never get the great smell of outdoor grill cooking or the fantastic grill marks (though my grill pan does a good job, it just isn’t the same), I still like to make barbecue flavors when I can inside. For some reason not that long ago I had a craving for some barbecued chicken and ribs. Now, making barbecued chicken and ribs is nothing out of the ordinary – all you need are your chicken pieces, ribs and some barbecue sauce mainly – I wanted something that was going to give us some different flavor and a bit of that barbecue feel. I came across this recipe at New York Times Cooking from Nigella Lawson for oven roasted maple chicken and ribs that offered the unique flavor I was going for with that roasted, not-quite-barbecued method.

Oven Roasted Maple Chicken and Ribs

1 cup apple cider or juice

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

6 unpeeled garlic cloves

½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)

8 pork spareribs, separated

6 chicken thighs with skin and bone (or other chicken pieces)

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the apple cider, maple syrup, vegetable oil and soy sauce. Add the star anise, cinnamon stick, garlic cloves and the hot pepper flakes (if using) and stir the ingredients to combine them well.

In a large freezer bag or bowl, combine the pork ribs and chicken pieces. Pour in the apple cider mixture, and seal the bag or cover the bowl. Refrigerate the meat overnight or up to 2 days.

Remove the marinated mixture from the refrigerator, and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the contents of the bag or bowl (including the marinating liquid) into a large enough roasting pan to avoid crowding the meat. Turn the chicken pieces, so they are skin side up.

Roast the meat until the chicken is opaque throughout and the ribs are tender, about 1 1/4 hours; 35 to 40 minutes into roasting turn the ribs over, but leave the chicken skin side up and turn the heat to 425 degrees to increase browning, if desired.

When the chicken and ribs are finished roasting, there will be quite a lot of fat in the sauce. Strain the sauce and use a fat separator to remove the excess. Place the meat in a large dish along with the strained sauce and serve hot.

While there is not much to the original recipe, I did make a couple of slight variations of my own. To the marinade, I did add 1/2 a teaspoon of liquid smoke so I could get a smokier flavor from the meat. It worked out quite nicely for both the chicken and the ribs. I did not add all the marinating liquid into the roasting pan when I put the meat in. Instead, I changed the cooking method a bit. I put half the marinade in the pan and covered the roasting pan for the first 60 minutes with aluminum foil to give the meat a chance to cook and keep some of the juices in, then removed the foil for the next thirty minutes and cooked the chicken and ribs this way. For the last twenty to thirty minutes, I basted the chicken and ribs with the remaining sauce so that the meat got a nice coating of the sauce and had more of a “barbecued” look to it. I then placed the meat under the broil for a minute or two for some final coloring. While I think working with the original recipe will turn things just fine, I believe that this method turned out moister meat and more tender ribs and chicken that were not dried out. I really liked the maple flavor of the ribs and the chicken, and you could easily make this for a crowd if you have a big enough roasting pan where the meat does not get crowded, so it steams. I served this with some grilling sides like green beans, cole slaw, and corn to round out the grilling experience (cornbread would go nicely here too).

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Pork, Poultry, Uncategorized

 

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The Best Pots and Pans for Every Kitchen | SAVEUR

As much as I may want to believe that I can do everything with my cast iron pan, there are times where your cooking calls for something a little different. Having some basic pots and pans in the house can make your cooking more efficient and easier and it allows you a bit more freedom to experiment with new recipes. Saveur has put together what they think are the best pots and pans for your kitchen, and it’s hard to argue with the types they have selected. Check it out and see if you could add something new to your cooking arsenal!

Source: The Best Pots and Pans for Every Kitchen | SAVEUR

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2017 in Cooking, Cooking Tips, Equipment

 

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Forget Those Supermarket Rolls – Go Krazy with Homemade Kaiser Rolls

Sean and I are both big proponents of sandwiches in this house and take every opportunity to make a good sandwich for lunch or dinner. Of course, there is nothing quite like a sandwich on a good roll to make it taste even better. The problem is finding the good rolls that you will love to eat. Unfortunately for us, we do not have a bakery in our town or nearby, which means you would have to settle for the rolls they offer at the local supermarkets. If you have ever had a Kaiser roll from New York City or one of the boroughs, you will quickly realize that the rolls offered outside of the city pale in comparison and or too soft, too dry and somewhat flavorless, making for a disappointing sandwich. The best solution available to me was to try to make these rolls on my own. I was hesitant at first, fearing it would be a lot of work to give it a try, but I came across this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen in their cookbook Bread Illustrated (one of my favorite cookbooks by the way). The recipe seemed very easy and straightforward, so I decided it was time to give it a try.

Homemade Kaiser Rolls

5 cups bread flour

4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups water, at room temperature

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg, at room temperature

4 teaspoons sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt

1 tablespoon poppy seeds, optional

Whisk the bread flour, yeast and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the water, vegetable oil, egg, and sugar together in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup until the sugar has dissolved.

Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, set the mixer to low speed and slowly add the water mixture to the flour mixture and mix the ingredients until a cohesive dough starts to form, and no dry flour remains, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead the ingredients until the dough is smooth and elastic and clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom of the bowl, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead the dough by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place the dough seam-side down in a lightly greased large bowl or container, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Press down on the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a clean counter or workspace. Press and stretch the dough into a 12 by 6-inch rectangle, with the long side parallel to the counter edge.

Using a pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut the dough vertically into 12 (6 by 1-inch) strips and cover the dough loosely with greased plastic wrap.

Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep the remaining pieces covered with the plastic), stretch and roll the dough into a 14-inch rope. Shape the rope into a U with a 2-inch-wide bottom curve and the ends facing away from you. Tie the ends into a single overhand knot, with a 1 1/2-inch open loop at the bottom.

Wrap 1 tail over the loop and press it through the opening from the top. Wrap the other tail under the loop and pinch the ends together to seal them. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, placing the rolls pinched side down on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 3 inches apart. Cover the rolls loosely with greased plastic and let the dough rise until it has nearly doubled in size and the dough springs back minimally when it is poked gently with your knuckle, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush the rolls with the egg mixture and sprinkle them with poppy seeds, if using. Bake the rolls until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking process.

Transfer the rolls to wire racks and allow them to cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.

The process of forming the rolls sounds more complicated than it is. Once you get used to doing it, they come together pretty quickly, though I have to admit I think mine could have looked nicer. Besides the looks, I have to say these rolls are excellent. They have the right texture and the crisp exterior that you want in a roll while still maintaining a moist interior crumb. There are stamps you can buy to imprint the rolls if you do not want to go through the effort of getting that rosette shape yourself (you can find them on Amazon or King Arthur Flour). We used the rolls that night for chicken sandwiches for dinner, and I have to say they are better than anything I can buy around here. While they are certainly not of the quality you will get fresh from the bakeries on Arthur Avenue, it’s a good one you can do yourself without a lot of work and still have a great roll for sandwiches. It’s definitely one I will be making again.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 5, 2017 in Breads, Breakfast, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Uncategorized

 

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