Monday, March 30, 2009

MUTE MONDAY - SECRETARIAT (by any other name)

Pronunciation: \ˌse-krə-ˈter-ē-ət, -ē-ˌat\
Function: noun
Etymology: French secrétariat, from Medieval Latin secretariatus, from secretarius
Date: 1811
1: the office of secretary
2: a secretarial corps; specifically : the clerical staff of an organization
3: the administrative department of a governmental organization)

For Anonymous Boxer's Birthday (get it - secretaries boxing grrrrhahaha)

And for Some "Greatest Athlete's" Birthday

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dim Sum Sunday - Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

Well, this week it turns out there's no soccer - woo hoo. But I have a lot of work to do instead, so it's the net same result as soccer - no time to do an elaborate Dim Sum Sunday dinner. So I'm doing an easy pasta and sauce dish. I got several recipes from and created the one below.

Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce (Modified from

1 pound uncooked penne pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed cayenne pepper flakes
2 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil

4 tablespoons vodka
11 cup light whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 strips crispy bacon

1 lb sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. In large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Remove casing from sausage and add to skillet. Cook, breaking up the meat, until brown. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown.
3. Add tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, bacon and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
4. Add vodka and cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and add pasta, toss for 1 minute. Stir in fresh parsley and serve!

I had to make a last minute substitution of ham for the bacon. I had leftover bacon from breakfast this morning but, unfortunately, the boy found it. This came out great with a bunch leftover for the freezer. The Mrs., the boy and the pudge all seemed to enjoy it. It was easy and I'll probably make it again. Bon Appetito.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dim Sum Sunday - Shrimp Scampi

I really hadn't planned on participating in this weeks Dim Sum Sunday Challenge - Shellfish and Crustaceans. I had to take the Pudge to soccer at 4:30PM on Sunday and I didn't think there would be time. But the Boy and the Mrs. had other ideas. But 1st a quick back-story.

During last weeks roast chicken dinner, I didn't tell anyone what I was doing until I started taking pictures of the dish on the dining room table. I then explained about the challenge and blogging with people about Top Chef and setting up my own blog for this challenge. I think they were really shocked that I had my own blog and I know the Mrs. was thinking, "What kind of porn site is he in to and who are these women?" "Food porn", says I and I gave them a little more explanation of the challenge. Well, after they were finished feeding, they thought it was a great idea.

Fast forward to this week. I'm heading out the door to soccer and the Mrs. gives me a recipe from for a shrimp scampi dish (I let slip what the challenge this week was). "You and the Boy are going to make this and we need some shrimp and parsley", says she. So I get the stuff during soccer (the Green Goblins lost 2 -1 to a team they controlled for 3/4 of the game - tough loss) and the Pudge and I go home.

I figured the Boy would have everything at least started and ingredients setting out. Well, there was a pot of water boiling an that was it. It's after 6:00PM by this time so I go into scramble mode and start cooking. The Boy does what he can but he has a casted arm (broken thumb) so he can't do much. He did the salad and garlic bread (with hot dog buns because Italian bread was left off the list) and I did the pasta and scampi.

This was a very basic scampi with white wine, garlic and butter. I added extra shrimp because I love shrimp. Slapped the whole thing together in about 1/2 an hour. The Boy positioned the plates and bowl (with the parsley garnish) for the photo shoot.

And there you have it. A quick and dirty shrimp scampi that the family seemed to enjoy although it wasn't very memorable. The sauce was a little thin so I wish I had time to thicken it with a rue maybe and I should have added some lemon (not in the recipe). If we make this again I'll probably try to find a better recipe. As an aside, I had leftovers for lunch 2 days later and it tasted much better - go figure.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dim Sum Sunday: Roast Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes and Carmalized Shallots

I gotta tell you I really enjoyed this challenge (Are we calling it a challenge?) and it enabled me to do some decent cooking for the 1st time in weeks. The ladies at Karmic Kitchen threw down the gauntlet (now I am calling it a challenge) to cook a themed Sunday dinner. I don't know that I could do this every week because I had to do some planning and shopping ahead of time. And with the kid's schedules as out of control as they are, I really had to start thinking about this a week earlier. But I will do what I can.

The theme was "A Chicken In Every Pot" so this was Sunday dinner on March 8th (a little ahead of schedule but I have to cook when I can). For this 1st Dim Sum Sunday, I wanted to try something special but simple (because that's the way I roll) and something from Top Chef, which is how I found Karmic Kitchen in the 1st place. So I downloaded Fabio Vivani's Roasted Chicken from Bravo's Site. He won 1st place with it in Episode 12, the last supper. Well, this is the 1st supper for Dim Sum Sunday, but I digress. Here's the "original" recipe (original in quotes because I think some things were left out):

Roasted Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Potatoes

Source: Fabio Viviani, Top Chef Season 5
Prep Time: About 1 Hour
Serves: 3-4

1 whole chicken
rosemary and sage, enough to fill the chicken inside
1 lemon
6 cloves of garlic
black pepper
Kosher salt

1. Fill the whole chicken with everything but the lemon, cut the lemon in half and grill the lemon with the grill on high.

2. Coat the skin of the chicken with black pepper and kosher salt, and place the lemon inside as well. Roast the chicken at 475 for the first for 10 minutes and then lower the oven to 375 for another 30 minutes, let rest for 5 minutes, and then cut and serve.

3. Peel and slice 6 Kennebec potatoes and cut them in pieces.

4. Blanch the potatoes in boiling water till soft enough to be easily poked by a toothpick.

5. Place them in the oven with 10 cloves of garlic smashed with a knife, salt, pepper and rosemary enough for the amount of potatoes. Let them go at 375 for over 1 hour till very crispy on the outside.

6. For the caramelized Cipollini, it's even easier. Peel them, blanch them with boiling water for 5 minutes and then roast them in butter in a pan on slow fire. Salt and pepper them and add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Keep them on fire till golden brown. Buon appetito.

Here are the only deviations I had to make:

1. I did the chicken just as Fabio did but I coated the outside with olive oil and I sealed it up with skewers because I believe he would have done this (and it just wasn't written into the recipe). I grilled the lemons on the BBQ because it was a nice day and added some mesquite chips to the fire for some smokiness.

2. I didn't have (or could find) the Kennebec potatoes or Cipollini onions, so I substituted Fingerling potatoes and shallots. I did not peel or cut the potatoes because they were so small.

Chicken Pre-Cooking (I did the shallots at the last minute so they're not shown here).

I made it up a couple of hours ahead of time because I had to take my youngest to soccer right at 4:30PM. This meant I had to trust the Mrs. to put it in on time and turn down the heat when called for. I left her very detailed instructions with circles and arrows and threw caution to the wind. You see, my wife doesn't cook much; make that at all. The few times she has she's about 50 -50 on edible versus inedible. She has messed up jello and frozen pizza in the past so when I say I'm throwing caution to the wind, I'm really running with scissors on an ice rink.

Well, she done good. When we got home from soccer the house smelled great. I cleaned up and prepared the shallots per the recipe. Then I waited...and waited. I had a meat thermometer in the chicken and it just wouldn't come up to temperature. I had a 5 lb. chicken and I took into account that it was in the fridge, so I was allowing 1 hour and 10 minutes versus Fabio's 40 minutes. Well, I'll tell you what, I had that chicken in there for over 1 1/2 hours and it still could have used a little more time (so be forewarned).

I pulled it out of the oven and didn't let it rest much because the wife and kids were starving. It was just the slightest bit pink at the leg joints, but very tender. Here's what it looked like and keep in mind that I'm a guy and know nothing about plating or centerpieces.

Chicken Post-Cooking with shallots on the side.

There are no pictures of the meal on the plate because the kids were so hungry it was gone in 10 minutes. The chicken and potatoes were good and the shallots were outstanding. I've got to remember this preparation for shallots because it's so simple. You could taste the herbs in the thigh meat more than the breast meat but I didn't get any of the lemon. I actually grilled some extra slices of lemon to put on the plates but forgot them when the terror brothers went into a feeding frenzy.

Anyway, that's my Sunday dinner. I have just enough chicken to make one sandwich for lunch as long as I hide it in the vegetable crisper so the kids won't find it. Thanks to Java Junkie and Big Shamue and I'm looking forward to the next theme (please be pasta).