Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paneer Biryani

Made a biryani for dinner Sunday night. The family seemed to enjoy it. I know I did. Made some paneer with ground cumin, a little salt and some fresh ground green peppercorns from Penzeys.
Ground up a spice powder of coriander, cumin seed, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, white Indian poppy seed, and black peppercorns. I didn't have coriander seeds and so I used already ground coriander from Open Harvest. Grind up 2 serrano chiles, two garlic cloves and two teaspoons fresh ginger and keep seperate.

Cube a cup of paneer, sprinkle it with a half teaspoon of the spice powder, a half teaspoon salt, gently mix in two tablespoons yogurt and set it aside.

Wash one and a half cups basmati rice and then cook it in hot oil with a bay leaf, 2 green cardamon pods, salt, chili powder and turmeric. Fry it for 4 minutes and put it aside on a dry plate.

In the same pan, add a little ghee then a quarter cup peas, fresh green beans and the serrano/garlic/ginger mix. Cook for a few minutes, add a quarter cup yogurt, dash of salt and fry this for a couple minutes.

Over the veggies add some chopped cilantro, a few more pinches of the spice powder and half the rice. Sprinkle on some more spice powder and the last of the rice. Put a a few saffron threads on if you have some, I used three. It's expensive! Add two cups of water, cook till water is absorbed (20 minutes).
Get your oven up to 300 at this point. When the rice is ready, oil a baking dish, spread half the rice in the dish, spread the paneer cubes over this then cover with the rest of the rice. Add a half cup water and cook covered with foil for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
Have a good week everyone!

Saturday night dinner.

Pecan crusted pork tenderloin with sweet red onion marmalade, roasted sweet potatoes and fricasseed brussels sprouts.

My wife really enjoyed this meal, I thought it was pretty good too. Cut a 1 to 2 pound tenderloin into slices about an inch think. Covered with plastic wrap and pounded down to about a half inch thick. Coarse chopped a red onion and then cooked it in a little veggie oil after sprinkling it with dark brown sugar and simmering in 2 tablespoons water and a quarter cup balsamic vinegar. Set it aside and prepare the sweet potatoes. Peel and cut the taters into half inch slices, put them in a greased baking dish, sprinkle some dark brown sugar on them. Then I took two slices of bacon, cut into pieces and sprinkled over the taters. Baked for 30 minutes, turn them, bake for 25 more.

After turning the potatoes, I breaded the pork pieces in flour, them egg white, the a mixture of flour, coarse ground black pepper and ground pecans. Cook them in a unsalted buttered large skillet until done, turning once. I set the tenderloins on a plate that was over the oven vent so they stayed warm, almost hot.

Next slice one and a half pound fresh brussels sprouts (food processor), cook 2 slices of bacon pieces in some olive oil till browned, throw the sprouts on top and toss for a minute or two with some salt and pepper. Cover them and let them cook for a couple minutes and they're done. And wicked good I might add. The comment I got from the dinner table was "you can make these anytime". They really were that good. Thanks to Jacque Pepin for the recipe.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Weather or not....

I'm sitting in the dentist's chair yesterday evening when the fun stuff rolled in. I love this time of year! It was kind of weird watching the hygienist's eyes flick back and forth from my teeth to the window. I know she could see the dark grey clouds getting closer and closer! She was more worried about her Grandmothers car getting hailed on than her own safety.

I have this on my machine at work and at home. It's a Windows viewer for live NEXRAD Level III radar data from the NWS Radar Product Central Collection Dissemination Service. Here's a screen image from yesterday afternoon.

It's really informative when severe weather kicks up. I've got a co-worker on the Malcolm Volunteer FD and we've talked via phone to coordinate a storm cell when he's on duty.

I also keep tabs on the latest forecasts and nowcasts here. The members of this forum often have their own blogs and you can go read their storm chase accounts and see their pictures.

Tyler Burg allowed me one of his photos for this post. Thanks Tyler!! His blog is

Have a safe spring everyone!

Tutti a Tavola!

Everyone to the table for dinner! While in Omaha over the weekend we headed to Lo Sole Mio for some wonderful food. The food is superb, the service is excellent. The restaurant is a little smallish and also has a bar/lounge so it's a little loud at times.
Our foursome ordered a variety of food and everyone seemed pleased. The highlight was my wifes meal. It was a house special that evening. Asparagus spears over spinach fettucini with sautéed shrimp, roma tomatoes and a gorgonzola cream sauce. The missus said it was fantastic. I plowed through some breaded steak, italian sausage and linguine with meat sauce.

Our friends enjoyed chicken piccata with angel hair pasta, lasagna, chicken parmesian and fettucini alfredo. We suffered (smile!) through two bottles of Querceto Chianti, turtle cheesecake and chocolate cannoli.

I look forward to the next visit!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mt. Fuji Inn, we love you!

I've been going to Mt Fuji's in Omaha for 20 years, my wife even longer. It's Omaha's first Japanese restaurant and we love the atmosphere. You don't really go there for the food but the atmosphere. The Mai Tai lounge downstairs is funky Gilligan's Island bamboo and naked Polynesian girls on black velvet paintings. Koi swim in tanks with glass sides that are visible in the lounge and from above upstairs in the main restaurant.

The drinks are "authentic" island recipes served by a bartender that's been there since 1974. He's a character for sure but makes the best Zombie I've ever had. The Zombie has five shots of a secret rum mix. Woo hoo! We had a shot of the rum mix and it was fantastic. Our party enjoyed flaming Navy Grog, Fog Cutters, Chi Chi's and Zombies. Mmmm!

The place is owned by a mother daughter team and we found out the mother had some medical issues a few weeks ago and might not make it. The daughter may close the place. We really hope not but I took lots of pictures and our foursome had a really good time.

I wish the entire Mt. Fuji team all the best and I hope you stay open!

Penzey's Spices

Several friends have mentioned Penzey's so we stopped in this weekend. I purchased spices for some Indian dishes I'll be making. They had some items I can't get at Open Harvest or other places in Lincoln. Our friends from Fordyce stocked up on stuff they'd been getting through mail order. I could have spent a bunch of money but I stuck to my list. Although I forgot the szechuan peppercorns. Dang!

I was impressed with the selection and I can't wait to get cooking.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy First Day of Spring

The tomatoes are coming up in the starter pots, the temps are climbing, the birds are signing. I look forward to Spring. Can't wait to get out in the yard and get the gardens going again.

Each spring I get my toy out of winter storage and it's coincidental that LJS had a story today that I'll be following. I like racing but I like the actual cars more. I could just walk through the gallery and look at all the awesome machinery.

I used to attend the regional SCCA events at Southeast Community College in the 80's. I'm glad to see a big event come back to Lincoln. If they get the bleachers they're hoping for, I hope the attendance is good.

Going to Omaha later today for a couple days of fun. Silly posts coming soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Okay, I admit it. I'm a bit of a gear head. I like cars and engines and going fast. Hat tip to beerorkid for this one. I have got to make one of these. Not just for myself, but for my five year old male offspring. Awesome!

Rosemary Pork Chops


The ladies in the front office at my business were talking about this dish today. I had everything I needed to make it so here it is.

Make a paste of garlic, salt and rosemary. Mix this paste with some sour cream and set aside. Season some pork chops, bone-in is recommended but I had boneless so went with that. Brown the chops one one side in some oil, flip them over, spread the paste mix on them. Put the skillet into a 400 degree oven for ten minutes. Put the chops on a plate, cover with foil. In the skillet add some stock and reduce the stock and brown bits by about half. Spoon this over the chops and serve.
I thought they were okay, a little too much garlic for my wife. Definitely not as good as this but that's okay, grilling days are fast approaching!
Gonna whip up some Indian food tomorrow night!

Rum, yum!

I was in the pantry looking for ideas for dinner and saw I had quite the rum collection going. My wife and I are going to Omaha soon and I thought "time for a primer". We'll be dining at Mount Fuji's in the big "O" and enjoying a Mai Tai or Zombi (or two!).

So I rounded up all the rum in the pantry, made some pineapple juice, added some cream of coconut in there and bang, instant tooty-fruity drink! I was only missing the pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries. Maybe this will induce Mother Nature to quit messing around and get us some warmer temps around these parts!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Don't photograph on a green placemat....

Shrimp curry for dinner tonite. I neglected to take pictures of the shrimp before I tucked them into the gravy. Next time swears! Got some 21/25 jumbo's from Leon's. Peeled them, removed the veins and gave them a little rinse. Toss the shrimp with the zest of one orange, salt, curry powder and black pepper.

Saute the shrimp in a little oil till they just turn white. Set them aside on a plate and toss a chopped onion and two chopped celery ribs into the same pan. Add more curry powder, a touch of garam masala and some oregano, fresh or dried. Dried will be way more intense.

When the onion mixture is ready (onions translucent), add the orange juice and two puréed tomatoes to the pan. Simmer this till it becomes thicker, slide the shrimp back in and let them come back up in temp. A healthy dose of plain yogurt goes in next along with more zest and the dish is done.

Oh and remember, hunter green placemats don't photograph well!

Have a good week everyone!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Boy Zack

Zack is twelve years old now. He's really showing his age. But today he's ripping around the backyard while I was grilling. Barking at the rabbits and birds like a dog half his age. I'm glad. He's our first "child" and I don't look forward to the day he's not around anymore. I'll never forget him getting "Most Improved" at his second time at obedience training. Then he bit my next door neighbor. Whoops.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Love Bread

In every way you can think, I love bread. I should weigh a lot more than I do (thanks employer) from all the bread carbs I ingest. Anyways, lately I'm into Indian breads. Roti, chapati, paratha, kulcha...mmm.

Tonite's dinner was a quick aloo paratha (potato flatbread) and a nice tasty salad.

Bread is simple. 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 to 3/4 cup water, pinch of salt. Make a dough, knead it for a few minutes, let it rest in the bowl for 10 minutes in a warm place.
Filling is boiled, cooled, peeled potato. Chopped cilantro leaves (no stems), minced serrano pepper, cumin seeds, salt, garam masala, amchur (mango) powder. Mash the tater then add the greenery and spices. Form into six golf balls.

Divide the dough into six equal parts, roll one into a five to six inch circle. Wrap a tater ball with the dough and then roll it out to about and eighth inch thick. Cook it on medium high for about three minutes or till nice browned spots appear on the bottom. Flip it over, give it a light spread of ghee (clarified butter) and after a minute or so, flip it again. It will puff up in places from the steam and that's okay. Press it down with the spatula till you get the same nice browing on both sides. Eat them before they get cold.

I made some cilantro/yogurt chutney for dipping. Need to find some fresh mint for next time.
Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Dinner

I had a request for a pulled pork with a Mexican twist that I make now and then.

Get yourself a nice 2 to 3 pound Boston Butt or nicely marbled hunk o' pork. Brown it on all sides in a little oil and remove. Saute some yellow onion and garlic in the same pot and when they're almost done add cumin powder or seeds (I use seeds), chili powder and Mexican oregano and bay leaves. Cook this a bit and then it's time for the heat! I blend up three or four whole chipotles and slide that into the onion mixture and cook it a bit more.

Put the pork back in the pot, cover it with water and cook it on medium for three hours. It will pull apart with your fingers at this point. But here is where I deviate from a true Carnitas recipe. I don't braise or roast the meat at this point to get the carmelization on some of the meat. I've waited three hours, I want to eat it now!

The leftovers are even better.