It has been way too long since I posted anything here. I apologize. I got out of the habit of writing. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, I just haven’t been writing about it.
So, for my first post in a long time I have decided to write about a classic recipe, one that I love, mostly because it’s German, but also because I found out just how easy it really is when I decided to make it on my own.
1 Tblsp Water
Spices, to taste
Essentially Schnitzel is just a cutlet that is pounded flat, breaded, and fried. That’s all there is to it!
I use pork loin roasts that I get from Costco, and then slice into inch-thick cutlets. These are then pounded flat, pounded thin. Then comes the breading.
I use three wide, shallow bowls for this next bit: one with flour, one with bread crumbs (I bought a box from the local grocery store, specifically for breading), with these breadcrumbs I add in spices as well. Salt, pepper, cayenne, whatever you’re into. In the third bowl beat one egg with a tablespoon of water.
Take your cutlet and roll it in the flour, covering completely, then dip in the egg mixture, covering completely. Transfer to the bread crumbs and, once again, cover completely.
Pour vegetable oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the breaded cutlets and fry until golden brown. (Or darker if you like that)
The perfect side dish to Schnitzel is Spaetzle (or Spätzle, in proper German), which is a small egg noodle.
3/4 C water
1-1/2 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 bouillon cube
Combine eggs, water, flour and salt. Beat until smooth, it will be very sticky, that is good. Add bouillon cube to 6 cups boiling water. Scoop batter into a Spätzle maker. You can do this without a Spätzle maker by just scraping chunks of dough into the boiling water, but if you want nice looking Spätzle, invest in a maker. The one I got cost me only $10.
Place the Spätzle maker on top of your pot of boiling water, scoop some batter into the box and slide it back and forth. This pushes chunks of batter through the holes in nice Spätzle-sized blobs. Let them boil in the water for a few minutes, until they start to float and then scoop them out and place in a dish, top with some butter.
Spätzle is best served with a Jägersöße.
I was really surprised when I found out just how easy it is to make your own pizza. Granted, it is nice to get Pizza Hut or something every once in a while, but for me Homemade Pizza is the way to go.
1 packet instant yeast
1 Cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
That’s it! Mix the yeast and water in a bowl, then add all the other ingredients and mix well, knead for a bit and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
That’s your dough! Roll it out, or toss it in the air ( I roll mine out, as I bake it on my 9 x 13 stoneware baking sheet, so I make a rectangular pizza!)
Cover with your favorite Marinara sauce, pizza sauce, or even Alfredo sauce, and toppings. The great thing about pizza is that you can add whatever you like to it and make it the way you want it.
I like either Alfredo or Marinara sauce with Pepperoni and pineapple, covered with generous amounts of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 for 16 minutes. And there you have it. Amazing pizza, in under half an hour!
After making focaccia bread that turned out amazing, the next logical step is turning that wonderful bread into sandwiches!
I have always loved getting artisan bread from the store, slicing it in half lengthwise and toasting it into a sandwich, with all the fixin’s! Quizno’s has nothing on me! So I thought I’d try that with my own homemade bread. The one problem my wife and I have with making sandwiches this way, is that they are usually way too big for the two of us to eat.
To over come this, I decided that instead of forming my focaccia dough into two loaves to bake, I would form it into smaller loaves which would be the perfect size for a toasted sandwich. Out of the dough that I made, following the recipe I posted earlier, I was able to make 6 sandwich sized loaves.
Toasted Sandwiches on homemad Focaccia bread
Slice the bread in half horizontally. Spread mayonnaise on each half and layer with your favorite meats and cheeses. I love chicken breast lunchmeat and pepperonis with either a swiss or pepperjack cheese, and then some grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella on top! More cheese is always a great idea, it also keeps the sandwich together when it melts.
Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes , or until the cheese has melted and the bread looks toasty. I usually toast the first 5-10 minutes with botha halves of the sandwich open faced, then I close the sandwich and bake the rest of the time to allow the cheese to melt the sandwich together.
These sandwiches are amazing! And the cool thing about it is that I made the bread myself, so it feels all that more impressive!
My wife and I will occasionally be hungry for sandwiches. Good sandwiches. So we go to a local place called Kneaders. The thng about Kneaders is they bake their own breads! And their Focaccia is one of our favorites! I decided to try my own hand at baking a focaccia bread, and it turned out very tasty and didn’t require a whole lot, other than time. It has several different rises which take a while, but the wait is well worth it!
4 to 6 cups flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on top
1/3 cup water
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided ( I used some of the container of Italian Seasoning I had in my spicerack)
2 teaspoons salt
Few handfuls freshly grated Pecorino Romano or other hard cheese ( I used what we had, shredded mozzarella, and it worked just fine)
Combine 4 cups flour and yeast in a large bowl. Stir in water and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms, adding a little more flour if necessary. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
Mix in olive oil, the other 1/3 cup water, 2 Tablespoons rosemary, and salt. I didn’t have any fresh rosemary, so i grabbed my jar of Italian Seasoning from my spicerack ad used that. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough, about 1 – 2 cups. Knead dough for about 7-8 minutes. Cover and let rise for 1 – 1 -1/2 hours.
Divide dough into two pieces and roll each into a ball. On lightly floured surface flatten each ball into an oval or disk about 1/2 inch thick. They shouldn’t be too large, I was able to fit both of them onto my 9×13 baking stone.
Generously drizzle the dough with olive oil and use your fingers to spread it evenly, then dimple the dough all over with the pads of your fingers and scatter the remaining 2 Tablespoons of rosemary and the Pecorino Romano over it. Again, I didn’t have any Romano cheese, so I used what I had: I sprinkled some grated parmesan and then sprinkled some shredded mozzarella on top.
Cover once more and let it rise another 30 minutes. During this time turn your oven on to 450, and place your baking stone inside. This wil preheat your stone so that when you place your bread upon it, you’ll get a nice crisp crust.
Place your two loaves of bread onto your baking stone and bake for ten minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375 and bake another 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool before eating, but don’t wait too long, this bread is absolutely amazing when warm!
Oops, it’s been a while. I actually made this manicotti sometime last week, Tuesday was it? But it’s been a little busy here as the wife and I are getting ready to take a much-needed vacation! We’re road-trippin’ it out east, stopping by my parents in IL, then seeing her family in OH, and then heading into DC, should be a lot of fun, but it also means that I’ll have little time to cook. Oh well.
So, my wife has always said that she loves manicotti and wanted me to make it for her sometime. So when we got the feta for last week’s Greek noodles I bought some manicotti noodles as well. There was a recipe on the back of the box but it called for ricotta cheese. I figured that we could always substitute the rest of our feta instead, we didn’t want to leave any of that in our fridge when we were going to be gone for two weeks, would not be fun to come home to. So I took the recipe from the box and modified a bit, using feta and it turned out AMAZING! Oh yeah, we also used an alfredo sauce instead of the pizza sauce that the recipe called for. I think it turned out pretty good!
Manicotti stuffed with feta
manicotti noodles, cooked and cooled on a baking sheet
1 – 1 1/2 Cups feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 – 1/2 Cup mozarella cheese, shredded
1 -2 tsp Italian seasonings
Salt, Pepper, Cayenne (I add Cayenne to almost everything)
It’s really simple, much simpler than I thought. SImple boil water, add the noodles, cook until they are done and then remove them to a baking sheet, covered with aluminium foil to cool.
In the meantime, in a medium bowl mix all other ingredients together. Stuff them into the manicotti noodles, being careful that they don’t slide through the other side. I found it easiest to stuff some into one side, holding that in with my thumb, I then turned the noodle and stuffed from the other side.
In a 9 x 13 pan, spread some sauce (I used alfredo, but any pizza or marinara sauce would work as well) on the bottom. Add your stuffed manicotti and then spread some more sauce on top and sprinkle some more cheese on top.
Cover pan with foil, I used the same foil that the noodles had cooled on.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15.
As I said, the wife and I absolutely loved these. I will definitely have to make it again. I never realized how easy it would be to make great food!
So, stay tuned for another post later today or tomorrow detailing our Fourth of July feast! I’m making smothered pork chops, noodles, corn and home-made rolls! Should be a great way to celebrate independence!
Last night the wife and I invited some friends of ours over for dinner and an evening of games and fun. I thought about it all week long, trying to figure out what I wanted to cook, how to impress them and give them good food as well. I finally decided to try out a few recipes last Saturday in preparation, and they turned out so good, that I knew that I’d be making them for our guests. I made home-made pita bread and a spinach and artichoke dip! But, since that isn’t enough for a real meal, we thought we’d use that as an appetizer and serve someting else with it. But what? We wanted something light, not too heavy, and ended up deciding on a simple chicken soup. Even though it technically is summer here in Utah, it’s been cold and windy and raining the last couple of days. So a soup it was! I really just kinda made it up as I went, knowing what kind of things I like in a chicken noodle soup. All in all it was a great evening, good food with good friends and great conversation and great fun!
So, on to the recipes:
3 Cups flour ( I use 1 c wheat, and 2 c white for a nice balance)
1 1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tbl. sugar
1 packet yeast ( I use instant so I don’t have to worry about activating it, and all that)
2 Tbl veg. oil
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 C warm water.
Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Add oil and water and stir together, it should form a ball, adding a little more flour (very little) if dough is too sticky, or a little more water if all the flour is not incorporating. Knead dough for ten minutes or so. After kneading, place in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil (using canola spray works just fine) and roll the ball of dough around to coat lightly. Cover with saran wrap or damp kitchen towel and let rise for 90 minutes.
It should now be about double in size. Punch dough down and knead just a bit. Divide dough into eight pieces and roll each into a ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel for about 20 minutes. During this time pre-heat your oven to 400, pre-heating your baking stone as well. (If you don’t have a baking stone, and upside down cookie sheet works just fine as a surface to bake your pitas on.)
Lightly flour a working surface and roll out your dough balls until they are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Place as many as you can on your baking surface and bake for 3-5 minutes. If you like them a little crispier/darker you can bake them for up to another 5 minutes, it’s up to you. I usually put them in for about 4 minutes and then flip them and bake for another 2-3 minutes.
When they come out of the oven they are puffy, but will deflate as they sit. They taste great warm just out of the oven, especially if you have a dip or something to eat them with. (one of these days I need to see if I can make my own hummus, that’d be good.) As it is, I made a spinach and artichoke dip, covered with cheese it looks a little like a quiche, but tastes AMAZING!
Spinach and Artichoke dip
My wife and I, when we eat out, love to get an appetizer of spinach and artichoke dip. I must admit, I was a little skeptical the first time she asked if we could get it, spinach and artichoke are two things I just hadn’t tried before and I wasn’t sure if I would like it. But like it we do! It’s a great appetizer with fresh, warm tortilla chips (which I need to learn to make sometime!) and so I thought it would also be great with my pita bread!
Here we go.
I pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature and soft.
1 can (14. oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped.
1/2 cup spinach, chopped. ( I bought this canned as well, but I guess you could use frozen if it had been steamed first)
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1/4- 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan or Romano, or any combination of the two you like.
1/4 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Stir together in a bowl cream cheese, mayonnaise, parmesan and romano and any spices you like. ( I add a litte cayenne to everything I make, and also a little garlic powder and salt and pepper) Add artichoke hearts and spinach, be sure they are completely drained, you do not want any extra liquid here! Stir it all together very well. Spray a pie pan with cooking spray and add your dip to the pan, using a spatula to smooth it out and even it out. Top with shredded cheese (we really like cheese, so I get a little carried away here) and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let it cool a bit, but serve it when it is still warm.
Chicken Noodle Soup
As I said, this was just me throwing stuff together in a post and hoping a soup came of it, but I think it turned out pretty good!
5 Cups water, boiling
5 chicken bouillon cubes
Chicken, cooked and chopped into small bits
Wide egg noodles ( my favorite, so I add quite a few)
Veggies – I used frozen corn and green beans
Johnny’s seasoning salt – This is the secret ingredient, makes a normal chicken noodle soup something better!
Boil the water, add the bouillon and dissolve. While water is boiling and cubes are dissolving, cook your chicken thoroughly and cut into small bits. Add to the chicken broth. Add noodles and veggies, let it cook on medium heat until noodles and veggies are cooked enough. Add Johnny’s seasoning salt, as much as you like. This really does add quite a bit to the soup.
That’s it. You just kinda let it simmer until all the noodles and veggies are cooked. Then serve warm.
It was a great evening, And I was able to do all this from the time I got home from work at 6:30 and was ready when they arrived at 8. Okay, I cheated a bit and made the pita dough the night before, but just because I knew I didn’t have time to let it rise 90 minutes!
Stay tuned for my next installment : German Spätzle (egg noodle) with Jägersöße. Tonight the church is having a “Cultural cook-off” and they are inviting people to bring food from all around the world. It was tough trying to decide between Greek and German, but German won out, and since they had enough main dishes and desserts signed up, I decided to make this noodle side dish. I’ll be starting on those in another couple of hours here and be going to that tonight. Should be fun!
I am pretty proud of my Greek heritage. My grandfather was Greek, and even though my dad never learned and I never learned Greek, I still find it interesting. I took a Greek class a couple of semesters ago, and I have to admit, it is tough! But Greek food is still great stuff. And there is a noodle recipe that dad always made for us when we were good. I understand now why he didn’t make it so often, it literally involves noodles drenched in melted butter with feta cheese on top. Not exactly healthy eating. But they taste so good.
Now, growing up in a family of 6 these noodles were always a big hit, and there were rarely any leftovers. And since Feta cheese is a little expensive, dad usually just used grated parmesan. That’s how I knew the recipe until we got older, my older brothers moved out, and dad could afford a little feta for us. I must admit, it was weird at first, but just because it was different, and not what I was used to. And probably because my taste buds had to mature. Feta, as a cheese, has avery unique and distinctive taste that takes some getting used to. But I love the stuff now. So every once in a while, mostly at my wife’s insisting, we get some feta and I make these Funky Noodles, as we always called them.
It is a very simple recipe, if a little on the expensive side, but as I mentioned, you can substitute parmesan for feta and it tastes just fine.
Noodles, dad always used rigatoni, but my wife and I like it with wide egg noodles as well.
Feta, crumbled, or Parmesan, grated.
And that’s it. You boil the noodles, melt the butter and crumble the Feta. Then in a platter, you layer the noodles, feta and pour some melted butter over it, add some more noodles and feta and more butter. It is really an amazing dish, a great side dish to almost anything. It was one of those meals growing up that we didn’t get very often, but we loved it when we did!
Just sharing a bit of my Greek traditions with you, hope you enjoy it!