Monday, February 28, 2011

Hungarian Lecsó (lecho)


The other day, I found a "treasure" in my local supermarket, Publix, which I'm proud to announce. A gorgeous bag of local sweet mini peppers, in assorted colors. When I opened the bag, the fresh, and sweet aroma just permeated throughout my little kitchen. I have been waiting for these amazing little sweet, and crunchy, colorful peppers, that when I picked up the bag from the special stand, a little old lady asked me..."are they real?...I didn't want to be mean,  and say..."no, they're plastic"...she really meant well, and I wasn't about to make a "snarky remark!"
Such a huge bag of these gorgeous peppers can be made different ways. My second choice: Roasted peppers...and why not? They are ever so delicious, and with these tiny peppers, you almost don't even have to remove the skins, after roasting them. Just drizzle vegetable oil on the peppers on a aluminum foil lined bake pan, and add pieces of garlic, or chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and fresh rosemary, and bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. Leave the little peppers whole, when you roast them. It's even more delicious when you open them after they're done. It is not hot, or spicy, just sweet, and pleasant yummy flavor.
I still had the second portion of the bag of new red potatoes, so I pre-boiled them, first, cutting them in half, and boil them till almost done, and sauteed them in extra virgin olive oil, and butter, and added fresh chopped parsley, freshly grated sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper, and made an amazing vegetarian meal out of the lecso, potatoes, and nice crusty bread, to dip into the rich tomato/paprika sauce. "Out of this World"...amazing, and healthy dish!

Hungarian Lecsó (lecho)
my own recipe

About 2 lbs. of sweet assorted, or hot peppers
1 large onion sliced, or chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 large can of a 28 oz. diced tomatoes
or you can use about 4 fresh chopped tomatoes
4 Tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup of water

In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic over medium high heat, till onion gets a golden color. Pull skillet away from the heat, and add the salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir, to combine, add the water, and add the mini peppers, cut into half, removing the seeds, or with the larger peppers, cut into strips, and also removing the seeds. Stir to incorporate, and saute for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, and cook slow, over medium heat until peppers get slightly softened, and tomatoes get to a thick consistency. Serve them as a side dish, or appetizer, or save some to add to scrambled eggs, which is a super delicious breakfast treat. Serves 4-6

This is the bag of the sweet peppers.They are from a local Florida produce farm. They are so incredible, and delicious. So full of natural vitamin C.


I mentioned in my last post about going to the Greek Festival, which this year is the 36th event. It happens to be just down the street from my son's house. A beautiful Greek Orthodox church is hosting the event, and it's ope to the public. Admission is only $3.00. and even if you do not go with your family, or friends, you can hang out by yourself, and enjoy the live entertainment, and the best, of the best Greek food, that is lovingly made by the members of the church. Here's my family, walking to the event. Just minutes away, streets are totally lined with cars, and needed police escorts to make sure that everything is running smooth. The place was set up with a huge tent outside, and the smell of the outside grilling was incredible. Beautiful sunshiny day, on a Saturday afternoon, with gentle breezes coming from the Intracoastal water.
The first thing we saw when we walked in was the dancers, in their folk Greek authentic costumes. These young people did such a wonderful job...so entertaining!



No Greek festival can be without Baklava...and I'll tell you, these were the best I've ever tasted. They were $2.50 for a tiny triangle piece, but worth every bite of it, which I literally shared with 2 other members of my family, just one bite...oh, so incredibly rich!

It would not be a Greek festival without the Moussaka, a Greek style Shepherd's pie...ground lamb, layered with potato slices, and baked eggplant slices, topped with a rich Bechamel sauce, spiced with nutmeg, and cinnamon. So good, and comforting...and very filling!

 As we walked outside the Pavilion, I looked up in the sky, and saw the "happy sky writer" in action, again. sending the "good news" our way. Wonder if anybody pays him for sharing the message of Jesus!...at any rate, such a nice gesture on a clear, and sunny S. Florida day!
...and here's my family, sharing this lovely "smorgesbord"...a variety of "happy meals"...no, not McDonalds, but great Greek food, and next to my little grandson is my chair, and my favorite Greek salad...and oh, a nice ice cold Greek beer. No one else was drinking beer...just me, the "happy Nonna-Grandma"
Inside the Pavilion tent was this amazing Greek band, that played such good music, that brought people to their feet to dance.


Just look at all the fun stuff to buy, that is traditional Greek fun things for festivals, such as this.
Look at all these people underneath the Pavilion tent. It must take the church all year to plan this successful event, for a whole weekend, every year of the last week in February, and each year the weather somehow turns out perfect.




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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Garlic Shrimp with Broccoli

It's a Friday night, usually a pizza night at my daughter's...and if not, then shrimp night at my son's. We were all there together, to enjoy the easy shrimp dish that even the little ones like, including broccoli...and let's not forget the pasta, in this case it was whole wheat penne, with basil tomato sauce, which I did not photograph...(been done) so many time. The focus was on the shrimp, in a nice fresh garlicky lemon sauce-no butter, just extra virgin olive oil that it was sauteed in, and broccoli florets steamed, and added the the shrimp. Extra virgin olive oil wast drizzle on the top, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The sauce was the best part, to dip your bread into it. Yumm! No recipe required...just common sense, and pure enjoyment!
As I was sitting outside at Lora's house on the patio in the back yard yesterday afternoon, and just gazing at the gorgeous Bougainvillea bushes, I realized "spring is here"...it's been here, in S. Florida, since the beginning of February. This is our spring season, with all the trees in bloom, all the beautiful flower bushes...I'm sitting in the midst of it...why not take a snap shot of all this natural beauty surrounding me?...so I got my little camera, and took some clicks...thanking God, and Mother Nature for what we have, and how fortunate we are, when others are suffering, the floods, storms, earthquakes. Never take life, and nature for granted. Every day is a "wondrous" day...you never know what's in store for us, or our future!
The beautiful old mango tree that has been trimmed down, because it was reaching for the sky...in its glory of bloom, waiting for the summer kiss to bring forth its glorious fruit. This is all in Lora's back yard, on a sunny and beautiful Friday afternoon. Thank God, she is on her way to full recovery, from her procedure.
In the corner of the patio, I noticed that the Christmas Poinsettia is still in full bloom next to the potted aloe plant, and other little herbs, and plants. It's time to plant the Poinsettia in the ground, so it will bloom again for next Christmas. So, this was my observation of nature, and beauty, right before my eyes, that I have taken for granted, because it was in front of my eyes every day. Just take a moment, and view the nature, and beauty that surrounds you...does not have to be in "bloom"...but every precious creation has its own beauty, if you just take the time, and meditate upon it!

This is the very back yard. the screen fence you see, is the fence, surrounding the swimming pool. All the trees are in their super glory, so full and healthy. The back fence is dividing the neighbor with their two gigantic trees, that have been destroyed in the 2005 Hurricane, to the point, that one of the trees broke, and uprooted and fell over to my daughter's property, but the owner was determined to re-plant the broken tree, and he did, and it came back again...alive, and well. That's nature for you!...so now, I'm off to the gym, and later visiting the Greek Festival, right here locally. Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grilled-Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops

Being in the culinary industry for over 30 years...there are two important cooking equipments I learned to rely on, and the first one, is a large cast iron skillet, and/or a heavy duty stainless steel skillet, and a cast iron grill pan. or a Calphalon grill pan. Those are my "lifesaving" most important equipments, which is a "must have."  Also, there are two other important ingredients which is a "must have" is a high quality Dijon mustard and/or a high quality Stone Ground Mustard. Also, I rely on a special jam, or "preserve" which I use for glazes on my grilled meat, and also for glazing my fresh berries, melting it down, and this is my most favorite, which is sometimes hard to find. "Pure Seedless Boysenberry Preserves"...now that I gave away my "must have" secrets, I would like to share my super easy recipe for my Grilled-Boneless Center Cut Pork Loin Chops, along with My Roasted Red Potatoes, and Caramelized Onions to pair with it....and of course my most favorite sweet and spicy glaze. Here's and interesting link Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops that will help you with the grilling these lovely super moist and tender pork chops, which is called "the other white meat"...so true...yes, indeed!

These lovely small red potatoes are so tasty, and stays firm when roasting them at a high 425 degrees temperature for about 45 minutes along with sliced sweet onions, and sprinkled with fresh rosemary. All you need is a good quality sea salt, and freshly ground pepper for the spices. Just make sure you add them first to a large bowl, and turn them with enough vegetable oil...not olive oil, because olive oil tends to burn. add them to a cast iron skillet, or aluminum lined baking dish, and that is all. You're ready to roast them and it makes a beautiful side dish, with any meats, or other vegetables, including a salad which I used! Yumm!...now how could you possibly resist this roasted goodness?
Here's the finish result...just a simple mixed salad, with your choice of toppings. I happened to have grape tomatoes, pitted Nicoise olive, and Feta cheese on hand...these are always my most beloved staples. Just a splash of extra virgin olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar, mixed with a teaspoon of Stone Ground Mustard, for the dressing!


Grilled-Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops
my own recipe

Marinade
2 to 4 pieces Boneless Center Pork Loin Chops
2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stripped
(one for the potato, and one for the pork)

First step is to marinade the pork chops in the marinade, by combining the ingredients and spreading it on the chops, on a large plate, or platter. Cover, and leave it out on the counter, for no longer than 30 minutes, while you are heating up your indoor grill pan, or electric grill pan, or an outdoor grill. You could marinate it longer in the fridge, for up to 2 hours, but not necessary.
Place chops on the heated grill that has been seasoned with oil, or cooking spray, make sure you put the exhaust fan on. Grill for about 3 minutes, turn it a slightly to the right to get the "criss-cross" effect, and grill another 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over to the other side, and cover the grill pan with a large lid, lower the temperature on the stove, and proceed grilling the same amount of time. Total time should not be more than 10 minutes, or the meat will be tough.
This is not the kind of pork you should cook for a long time, or it will get tough. It is pure white meat, and NO fat!

For the glaze:
2 Tablespoon Stone Ground Mustard
2 Tablespoon seedless Boysenberry Preserves
(you can also use seedless raspberry or other seedless berry preserves)
1 Tablespoon dark Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil

Mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower temperature, and cook until it reduces somewhat to a syrup. You can double the ingredients if you would like more glaze. Just drizzle around the plate at serving time, and drizzle some on top of the meat. Very festive, and delicious! Serves, 2 to 4.

One last note of Thanks to Sharon @Shosh's Yummy Foods for hosting this truly amazing giveaway with Progresso, and their fabulous Panko, which I already have been using, and love it...and the most Gorgeous Cookbook, ever, from Michael Chiarello. I love this chef, and all...seriously all his recipes. I don't mean to "toot my own horn" but this is my style of cooking which I have been doing all these years...that's my specialty, the homemade pastas, the grilling, the meats, sea foods, and vegetables and the simple, but elegant desserts. On the final note on his book. He has the most amazing black and white photographs, but as for the color photos, the lighting seems to be off, and most of the photos were taken inside, where they did not focus on the lighting, and they tend to have a darker image, not bringing out the true vibrant color of his famous dishes. The action photos are really superb, for that matter.

I have learned to pay more attention to the photos, every since we've been so involved with the Foodbuzz Community, and you can take some serious Tips, from Chef Dennis, @More Than A Mount Full, and just take a look at Gina's blog @ What's For Dinner Across State Lines who also took serious time to make her lighting better. You don't necessary have to run outside when the temperatures in your area have been in the teens, cloudy, or rainy...even here, in S. Florida I can't always capture the sunlight, but I do have a better new camera now, and focus on better lighting, and most important. "The Plating of my Food"...so that is my little trick and  secret, plus, honest reviews from Family members. They will surely tell you their honest opinions, so just listen, and learn!






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Monday, February 21, 2011

Pizza...Awards...and PGA Mall

Last Friday...as almost every Friday, Lora made this amazing pizza dough that has become a staple meal, with a side salad, or a vegetable dish. In this case she had the green beans, and leftover pancetta, to add to the pizza topping...and oh, yes caramelized onion, and homemade sauce that she always has on hand for a quick pasta dish. I keep bugging her to post the pizza photos, but she not only does not take photos of it, I always end up taking the photos. Her pizza dough is the easiest and best, made with all, or half whole wheat flour, and half bread flour. Here's Lora's homemade pizza recipe, @cake duchess
Just look at this yummy goodness...Sweet caramelized onions, crispy pancetta homemade tomato sauce, and ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese topping the thin, crispy, crunchy fresh, hot, homemade pizza dough. Trust me on this one...no comparison to take-out!...now, for the lovely blue dish of  Lora's. Long story behind this set of 12 English china set, that was a gift to daughter's hubby, from a lovely English young lady that was a mutual friend to both Lora, and Fabrizio, that he brought into the marriage 10 years ago. They still manage to have most of the set, even if a plate or two breaks, lucky me...I find the same dishes at my thrift finds, but not cheap. Each plate costs $2.99. My daughter finally told me after I replaced 4 plates..."please mom, don't get any more, I'm trying to get rid of these, so I can get a new set"...

...and now, for the Awards!

I have not received such a lovely award as this, so far. This award came from my sweet friend, Mateja @Indulging Life. She actually designed this award herself, and personalized it. She really put her "heart and soul" into this. Do visit her beautiful blog, and make friends! I'm simply quoting what she said in her own words, when she completed the award, and what it meant to her. I am so honored by this...Thank you, Mateja!
This is what Mateja said:

February 1, 2011I think it is time for me to create my own appreciation award. And I was sitting and sweating, working hard on creating that perfect picture that would express exactly what I wanted to say, adding and removing, than adding some more. (ratatatata- drums) So here it is, "Most Deserved Award", the award for all my friends who make me feel like home, who spark the most beautiful memories from my childhood, inspire me, support me, introduce me to new foods, teach me new cooking/baking techniques, and challenge my imagination! 

These next 3 lovely awards, I received from a sweet couple,Anu Santanu who I recently befriended. They were ever so kind to honor me, not just with one award, but three! These come with rules, and I've been down the road before on the rules, from the previous ones. As far as promoting them to 15 bloggers, which I have done in the past, not just 15, but 30 or more at one time, and letting them all know...or not letting them know, some have not even responded even when I let them know...and some I left out, not on purposely...it's difficult to keep track on paying it forward.
Thank you, Satu Santanu, for giving me theses generous, and lovely awards!

I regret to break the rules, and just let everyone take for themselves. and pay it forward if you would like to do so, with my "blessings"...You all deserve the awards, All of you who are out there all over the world, in different countries, states, or even local ones! Blogging is "time consuming" but so well worth it to stay in touch with other bloggers who have similar interests, and making friends to me is so important in this fast moving world, with so much happening, and ever changing events that changes our lives...forever!


Rules to claim and share these awards:....(optional)
  • Thank and Link the blogger who has given you the award.
  • Copy and paste the Logo in your blog.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other Great Bloggers
  • Comment and let them know of the award.
Last amazing and unique award, I received from my dear friend, Toni, @Boulder Locavore. She is also a very talented blogger, and has such a lovely blog, so interesting and unique...you have got to check her blog out!
Thank you Toni, for giving me this lovely award, I appreciate your kindess!


Help yourselves to the awards...take one, or take them all, pay it forward, or just keep it for yourselves!

I would like to show of one of the most beautiful malls of all the malls I've seen. It's the Palm Beach Gardens Mall, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, about a 30 minutes drive from us. Lora and I went there last Friday morning to exchange her Valentine's necklace that she was allergic to...(funny, but not so funny)...here's this amazing little fun jewelry and gift shop that is totally affordable. Loved everything in there! Such a relaxing shopping mall, so beautiful, and they have everything there...not to mention, great sales!
Just look at the natural "sky light"...very efficient in saving electricity.
That's the store...SWAROVSKY...love it!
They have such fun things like these little crystal fishies, for only $86.00.
Crystal Butterflies...$110.00.
 Now, we're getting into the "bling"...a little more expensive, like this beautiful silver, or is it white gold bracelet?
for $475.00

Crystal beads...baubles, or little disco balls?...not exactly what I would hang in my living room, or on the car rear view mirror, but they're fun!
At last, have some early lunch, the Cafe at the Gardens Mall was really enjoyable, a lot of food courts to choose from. We had Chinese, which was pretty decent...somehow all the foods at these food courts, or cafes, as they call them leaves you reaching for the Pepto Bismol...the minute you get home, promising not to eat there, again!

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Venison Stew with Potato Balls

After a long absence from my blog, I decided to return or just leave thing the way they are...which is the wrong choice. Eight years have...