How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Grape Snausages

"Sausages with Grape Sauce" was a nice mid-week meal, as simple as its name. We found the recipe in Intercourses, a fun little cookbook that we have featured several times on this blog.

I began by cutting one pound of locally-raised sweet Italian sausages from Crescent Ridge into 4-inch chunks and placing them in boiling water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 425. I diced one shallot and put it with 1 T olive oil to cover the bottom of a one-quart baking dish (essentially a loaf pan).

I then used tongs to place the sausages in the pan, covered with about 3/4 cup of dry white wine and baked for 35 minutes (during which time I should have turned them once to brown evenly).

The last step was unusual but simple. Using the tongs, I removed the sausages to a shallow, warm bowl and then placed the baking dish on the stove top -- it had the wine, shallots, and some fat from the sausage in it. Over medium-low heat, I whisked in one tablespoon of dijon mustard. I then stirred in one cup of halved, red seedless grapes. When all was blended, I poured this sauce over the sausages and brought it to the table.

This was delicious with some Italian bread and butter, and of course the rest of that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coq au Velouté

Note: The Hayes-Bohanans met in French class, when we were Hayes and Bohanan, respectively. Pam went on to some level of competence in the language while James was not a stellar student and was lucky he remembered to switch to the Pass?Fail option just before the deadline. We both gained a lot in the long run though, namely each other, as the New York Times has reported. All of which is to say that I can barely pronounce the title of this blog post, though I did prepare the dish.

Its more pedestrian title in the Tabasco Cookbook is Chicken Hash, but the rich sauce makes that seem like rather an unworthy label. It is a fairly basic hash, except that it is baked with a complicated sauce. In other words, it is a dish with relatively few ingredients that will use every dish in the kitchen.

A velouté sauce in the book is similar to Emeril's version, except that the good people of McIlhenny call for a bit of their pepper sauce and the use of TWO saucepans. The hash itself simply requires boiling and chopping a couple of chicken breasts and potatoes, and then adding them to sliced mushrooms, chopped onion and yellow bell pepper, and parsley cooked in butter. The velouté  is poured over this and baked.

The result was amazingly delicious for a chilly evening. Sadly, a week has passed by before I got a chance to write, so we are not exactly sure which Malbec we had with it!

Northern Hash

The best thing about being a teacher is what I gain from my students. Usually these gains are intangible -- lessons learned and the satisfaction of lessons taught. But sometimes my students bring small but tangible gifts, occasionally things I would never find on my own.

I have been especially fortunate this pre-holiday week, in which students have given me highball glasses etched as globes, a beer home-brewed from tea, a coffee-themed deck of playing cards, and a can of salmon caught and canned just this side of the Arctic circle at Naknek, Alaska (58°44′23″N; 156°58′18″W). Feel free to explore the map at the end of this post.

Each of these gifts comes with a story, in the case of the salmon, the student had been living in nearby King Salmon last summer, when she was taking my online class that included a lot of discussion of Carl Safina's writings on Alaska and other places at the front lines of climate change.

So this week I found this can of salmon perched (pun partly intended) on the doorknob of my office, with a note about its provenance, and this morning Pam helped me figure out what to do with it: hash. Seems to be hash season, so this did not take much convincing. Especially since we have had a very hectic week, and Pam identified leftovers that would work perfectly with this gift.

So when I got home today, I fired up the indispensable cast-iron skillet and got to work on a quick and delicious dinner.

First, I heated a generous dollop of olive oil in said pan while finely chopping one half of a white onion. I browned the onion on high heat with a generous sprinkling of black pepper and then added leftover diced, roasted potatoes (see below), and then stirred in the can of salmon. I cooked until crispy -- as Goddess intended hash to be -- and turned and cooked some more. Then I made two divots, placing an egg into each one. I covered the pan and lowered the heat, cooking until the whites were set and the yolks still soft.

This was delicious with bread, butter, and Pinot Noir.

Diced Roasted Potatoes

This is a staple in our house that I "invented" while we were in grad school. I often see commercial packages in the produce aisle that I think allow the purchaser to make an inferior version at greater expense. It goes with many kinds of other dishes, or if those grad-school paychecks are being stretched thin, it can be the main dish.

Quite simply, I pre-heat the oven to 425 and then dice a handful of potatoes (the number depending on the number of diners and the size of the potatoes, perhaps 3 small spuds per diner. I usually peel them, but not completely, leaving about half the skin on. I put the diced potatoes (about 1/2-inch cubes) into a casserole dish with a generous dollop (there it is again) of olive oil. I then add a large amount of paprika, oregano, black pepper, and perhaps a couple other herbs. I roast until it reaches desired crispness, stirring and scraping occasionally. We sometimes serve this with sour cream or plain yogurt.

Usually, there are no leftovers, regardless of how much I've made. But today there was just enough for some perfect hash.

Putting the Marsala in Chicken Marsala

When I go to familiar restaurants, I often debate (with myself) whether to get "the usual" or try something new. At nearby Crispi's Italian Cuisine, the result is usually a a quick decision to have the chicken marsala, because it is always satisfying. I never even really thought about making it myself, and was actually uncharacteristically uncurious about what it actually is.

That all changed a couple nights ago, as I contemplated what to do with  mushrooms remaining from the hash I had made recently (about which I apparently have yet to blog).  I found this delicious recipe, for which we already had all the required ingredients except for the Marsala fortified wine itself.
Photo: AllRecipes. Food photography is difficult, as I've often noted. Here is another example. The AllRecipes photo is  far better than anything I could have taken. I'm not sure how their version turned out so orange, though.
The rest of the story is simple: I followed the recipe without any modifications, and it was delicious. I do need to share something amusing from the web site, though. Listed as the "most helpful critical review" is this gem:

     January 22, 2003
This was good but not great. I'm terrible at flattening meat and poultry so I didn't bother. I didn't add mushrooms either as my fiance hates them. The chicken was tender and flavor pretty good but I like the marsala dishes more from my favorite Italian restaurant. My fiance was neutral on this. I doubt I'll make it again.

In other words, "I did not make chicken marsala." Pouring Boone's Farm over fried chicken does not count.


In researching the Marsala wine, I figured out that Pinot Noir would probably be the perfect pairing, so I bought a bottle. When I got to the kitchen, I realized that there was a bottle of Malbec already open, so we used that instead. (Already-opened wine left over from the previous day is a rarity in
Casa Hayes-Boh.) The Malbec worked very well, but I now know both my food and wine selection the next time I am at Crispi's.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cheesy Bacon Egg Brunch Casserole

I think the recipe for this casserole just appeared on my FaceBook feed recently. I had some bacon so I decided to give it a try. I sent James to the grocery store with instructions to purchase any ingredients we needed to prepare this. He did an excellent job of checking to see what was already in our larder, so he skipped buying mozzarella cheese of which we had plenty. It was unfortunate then that I neglected to check the recipe when I was packing up the ingredients we would need in order to make this at our beach house where we would be spending the weekend. I did manage to bring everything else, so I just went ahead made the dish sans mozzarella. The recipe says prep time is 25 minutes and bake time is fifty. I do not know where these numbers came from, unless the chef also has a sous chef. I took almost an hour to prepare everything, and I felt I was being rather efficient with cutting, chopping, and shredding other ingredients while the bacon cooked. The baking time was close to one and a half hours. After the first fifty minutes we saw how runny the casserole still was and bumped the oven thermostat up to 380 (from 350). I recognize that if I'd used the appropriate amount of cheese it might not have taken so long, but even after 90 minutes it was still a bit runny. We were so hungry at that point though we didn't want to wait any longer (plus the top had gone from "golden" to "brown" and was starting to move toward "black". It actually tasted pretty good, and there were plenty of leftovers for the next day, when it tasted even better.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Indian-Spiced Tomato and Egg Casserole

Another winning recipe from the New York Times. Be aware that this one takes some time, and requires a lot of pots and pans, so prepare to do some dishes afterward.

I prepared the tomato sauce while the potatoes cooked. I used less curry powder than the recipe called for, and a lot more mint in order to suit our own tastes better. The pan was very full by the time I made the wells for the eggs and so I had to be extremely careful when adding them. This dish also took a bit longer to bake than expected in order to get the egg whites to set. I eventually put it under the broiler for two minutes, which finished cooking the whites, but also made the yolks harder than I wanted. The finished product though was very tasty, and filling. It paired nicely with Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon.