Home Run!

Since post number one in 2011, I have frequently referenced my various recipes and culinary creations.  I enjoy cooking and look forward to prowling the aisles of Fresh Market or Whole Foods seeking inspiration for new dishes.   Sunday was no exception.

I diced and skinned a large acorn squash; diced two bunches of organic carrots; sliced a dozen large Shiitake mushrooms; and then chopped up a yellow onion.  I sauteed the mix in the usual olive oil (high heat to begin then low heat for about 40 minutes) stirring frequently.  Seasoning is optional depending on the crowd.  I’m partial to light pepper, turmeric and garlic powder.   I also made a salad with mixed greens – heavy on the arugula.  And added fresh mango, papaya and banana – topped with a light avocado dressing.  

Grilled chicken breasts marinated for a few hours in mango sauce was the main course.  The chicken could have been pounded lightly (a wine bottle usually works better than one of those kitchen hammers).  The meal was accompanied by a nice Liberty School merlot.  Dessert – as a concession to my granddaughters who joined us – consisted of gluten-free double chocolate chip cookies.  

Pow!  This meal was out on Waveland Avenue. . . . .    

A Ten

I scored a point or two by asking Donna if she wanted to go out for dinner on Friday (ka-ching).  “No . . . how about if we stay home and have something simple.” Now I have come to realize that “simple” in Donna’s parlance means plain chicken, rice and asparagus.  Three of my favorite things.  Not.   So I offered to make dinner.

I went to Fresh Market (my usual haunt for dinner inspiration) and bought 3/4 of a pound of wild Atlantic sockeye salmon for Donna.  Simple.  But I got three crab cakes for myself (a regular crab cake; the “ultimate” crab cake; and a salmon cake). I wanted to try them all.  The salmon was drenched in olive oil.  Seasoned with turmeric and pepper and baked for 20 minutes at 400.  The “cakes” I sautéed in olive oil until brown. 

Then (be still my heart) I got organic white potatoes; organic carrots; and some Shiitaki mushrooms.  The potatoes I diced thinly and sautéed in butter.  Topped with ground pepper, turmeric, Kosher salt and garlic powder.    The carrots and Shiitakis were washed (the carrots were filthy), the carrots skinned and everything diced and sautéed  in olive oil.   Both took about 40 minutes on low(er) heat.  Candles.  A little Gato Barbieri crooning in the background.   “Well?” I asked.   Donna looked up.  “This is probably a nine and a half.”  She paused.  Savored a bite.  “Actually a ten” (ka-ching).  And then – the píece de résistance – I whipped out a Talenti Sicilian Pistachio gelato to close the meal.  And did the dishes.  Ka-ching ka-ching . . . . .        

40 Minutes to Glory

On December 10th of last year, I talked about a primo rice and beans dish that I concocted using Rice Select Royal Blend rice. Well, last night I did it again. Big time. . . . .

I volunteered (as I frequently do on weekends) to make dinner. I drove to Fresh Market, walked in and stood. My eyes narrowed. I rubbed my chin.  Drooled.  And then the lights flickered and went on.  I got the fixings and went home to boldly go where no man had gone before.

I took a cup of Rice Select Royal Blend (a unique combo of Texmati, white, brown, wild and red rice) and got it going in a pot of water (for rice, I sometimes use chicken stock which can be flavorful – but salty).  In a saucepan, I chopped some organic carrots; washed and sliced some Shiitake mushrooms (Shiitake and Asian mushrooms are healthier); diced an acorn squash; and chopped a sweet onion. I sautéed the mix on low heat in the usual drench of olive oil. I shook on some pepper, turmeric and Sunny Spain Seasoning.  Stirring frequently.   With a few minutes left, I spooned on some honey — to caramelize.

The “side” was a wild Atlantic salmon covered in olive oil, turmeric, pepper and more Sunny Spain seasoning.  Dinner was finito in about 40 minutes.  We sat, listening to Gato Barbieri, sipping Liberty School merlot and dining on a dish that I have absolutely no idea what to call. . . . .

Lemonade from Lemons

I made dinner on Saturday. It was two filets of flounder turbot which really can’t go wrong.  Marinate in olive oil then coat with gluten-free bread crumbs.  I sprinkled this dish with ground pepper, garlic powder and turmeric (see 1/11/15).  For the first time, I opted for roasted potatoes in an Ina Garten theme.  I used South Florida white potatoes, washed and cut into 1″ chunks.  I soaked them in olive oil, salted, peppered and turmeric’d them and laid them out on a flat pan.  Baked at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes (or until tender and browned). 

It was the vegetable dish that was the challenge.  I golfed Saturday morning and all I could think about was hitting the ball straight and pureed carrots.  Don’t say it.    I bought a batch of organic carrots and peeled them.  Then peeled and cut a fresh mango.  And melted 1/2 a stick of butter.  And slivered two cloves of garlic.  What could go wrong?  So I put the mix in the blender and – long story short – the black plastic thingee that turns the blender blade broke.  The smell of heated plastic was the clue.   So there I am with half the stuff in the glass jar mooshed and half not.  The original plan was to blend the carrot/mango into a puree, put in a glass bowl — then set that bowl in a bowl of water – in a 350 oven for perhaps 25 minutes.  But I switched on the fly to an unplanned Plan B.  I poured out the glop, diced the carrots and put the whole thing in the microwave (“vegetable” setting) and let ‘er rip. 

What could have been a real culinary downer actually turned out to be a “whew” moment.  Dinner was wonderful.  A little Decoy cab to wash things down.  And the Talenti gelato (banana chocolate swirl) for dessert didn’t hurt.  What sealed the deal as usual — I did the dishes.   


Last Saturday, Donna asked if I would want to make dinner.   I was quick to say “sure.”   And I trotted off to Fresh Market to reconnoiter. The result was a 9.5.

I took flounder filets, rolled in gluten-free bread crumbs, basted lightly in olive oil and then baked for 14 minutes at 375.  Flounder is a buttery, tasty fish.  Hard to go wrong.  My vegetable medley was a take off on a prior theme.  Fresh shiitaki mushrooms, washed, dried and sliced; a sweet onion – sliced; and some organic carrots – chopped. All was put into a covered skillet, smothered in olive oil and nipped with pepper and turmeric.  After about 40 minutes (stirring frequently), I drained and added a wee bit of honey to caramelize. Finally it was my fresh guacamole (avocado, cilantro and lime juice) with gluten-free hummus chips.  And a few slices of fresh mango.  We enjoyed a Liberty School pinot noir and some San Pelligrino.   Dessert was a Talenti Sicilian pistachio gelato to which I added small chunks of 72% dark chocolate. 

It didn’t hurt that I hand crafted a menu with my usual art work, put on a little Gato Barbieri, lit a few candles.  And I did the dishes. 

I know what you’re thinking . . . .”Petersen – you &@^$x#!% – you’re making me look bad.” 

“Your best yet”

I made dinner on Sunday. And I scored a perfect “10” . . . . and got the gold medal. 

You know that I enjoy cooking — and experimenting. Last Sunday’s dinner was up in the air.  So I volunteered.  And Donna quickly agreed. I went to Fresh Market and got the fixings for a Mexican fiesta — la cena.  I marinated and baked two chicken breasts.  I chopped and sautéed a large yellow onion and some shiitake mushrooms in olive oil over low heat  in a covered pan for about 45 minutes [shiitakes are healthier and have less toxicity than other mushroom varieties].   Then there were the Garden of Eatin organic blue taco shells (heat 5 minutes at 350).  I sliced the chicken and placed strips within each shell.  Then a slice of garlic cheddar cheese.  On top, I spooned some of the shiitake and onion combo (after I had drained the olive oil and browned slightly).  And I warmed the shells in the oven for another 5 minutes.

I made my usual guacamole recipe (smooshed avocado, cilantro and lime juice – that’s it) and I prepared some fresh quinoa on which I spooned some organic black beans (I confess – from a can).  I provided green tomatillo sauce for the tacos.  We had a great Joel Gott cabernet and some San Pellegrino to wash things down.  Lauren and Trent joined us for the experience.  The sauteed shiitake and onion combo was a 10 point triple Lutz.  The unique combination of quinoa and black beans – with fresh guac on the side – was a graceful double Axel that landed perfectly.  The wine was a magical double toe loop.  The entire meal was a flawless triple Salchow nailed by The Renaissance Hombre.      

Donna and Lauren both looked up from their plates and said seriously “This is your best yet.”  Awww shucks. . . . .  

You Gotta Write This Down

As some of you know, I am an aspiring chef. I enjoy cooking and devising new creations. And I hit a home run on Saturday night. I not only got a “10” but it was a “you gotta write this down” 10 . . . .

We were babysitting for Eve so I volunteered to make dinner.  I stopped off at Fresh Market and reconnoitered the aisles.  I was inspired.  I got four 5 ounce lobster tails (50% off special), a large butternut squash, a yellow onion, some Portobello mushrooms and a bag of organic potatoes.  And some fresh pitted Kalamata olives.  The potatoes, I did in my usual way (mashed with garlic cheddar cheese).  For the lobster tails, I cut the shell (all the way to allow expansion) and baked them for about 11 minutes at 400 degrees.  But it was the squash dish that raised the roof. 

I cut and diced the butternut squash; chopped the onion; and cut up the Portobello mushroom in 2″ pieces.  I threw it all into a sauté pan with the usual Colavita olive oil.  And I simmered over low heat (some pepper, 3 garlic cloves finely-sliced).  Then I added chopped Kalamata olives.  It sautéed for about 35 minutes (this cooked the squash perfectly).  Then I left it covered while the rest was finishing.  When all was done, I added some honey to the squash dish (see post of November 19, 2011) and turned up the heat.  And I let things caramelize . . . .

I had the usual melted butter with lemon quarters for the lobster.  The mashed potatoes were perfection.  We had a dandy Catena malbec on the side.  And a Talenti gelato (chocolate banana swirl) to finish things up.  But the squash dish which I had divined was the unknown.  I was perspiring.  My eyes opened as Donna began to delve into the meal.  She took a bite.  Another.  Another.  And looked up. . . .” you gotta write this down.”  It was a “10.”  Next stop?  “Top Chef.”   Don’t laugh . . . .   

Scoring Points – Part III

In my posts of May 6 and May 8, 2012, I relate how my amazing cooking prowess gets me points with the ladies. Uhmmm . . . make that “Lady” – singular. Well I did it again. . . .

Saturday night, Donna and I were babysitting for Eve so I volunteered to make dinner.  I stopped at Whole Foods and patrolled the aisles — seeking inspiration.  And then KA-BOOM — it hit me.  I bought two 8 ounce (1-1/2″) prime filets, some organic white potatoes, a monstrous yellow onion, some Hass avocados, limes and cilantro.  I’ll bet you can see what’s coming. . . .

For the potatoes, I stuck to my classic hash brown/roasted potato recipe (see post of September 10, 2013).  This time I used real garlic powder (instead of garlic salt).  I then made a guacamole side dish with two mooshed avocados, finely chopped cilantro and the juice of one or two (if you like it tangy) limes.  I fired up the grill for the filet.  Seared for 2-1/2 minutes on high then flipped them and timed about 10 minutes on medium (M-M-M) heat.  The filets were perfect.  Medium,  Light pink inside.

I poured a really fine Ghost Pines 2010 cabernet sauvignon to wash it all down and concluded the meal with a Ciao Bella sorbet.   The guacamole was a perfect vegetable accompaniment to the filet.  In fact, I simply took bites of both.  It was Mardi Gras in your mouth. . . .  

What really got the pointmeter doing loops was – are you ready?  I did the dishes (cue the fist pump). 

Scoring Points – Part III

In my posts of May 6 and 8, 2012, I talked about how my cooking scores points. Well, I’ve done it again. Donna spent much of Saturday with our daughter helping out with the baby.  Donna called mid-afternoon and said she was tired and that she’d be home around 6:00.  “Would you like me to fix dinner?” I asked. “Would you?” she responded. I smiled “Just you wait.”

I went out and bought about 3/4 pound of fresh prosciutto sliced thick, a Vidalia onion (what else), LeSeur peas and some Laurel Hill fire roasted red peppers. I chopped the prosciutto and onion into small pieces. I sauteed the prosciutto and onion slowly (covered – stirring often) with some shaved garlic in a nice olive oil. I wanted the prosciutto brown and the onions somewhat absorbed.  I heated the peas and tossed in one of the red peppers (cut up) for color.  I cooked a Prince spaghetti (al dente) and when all was done, I mixed it all in a bowl with a jar of Elki artichoke lemon pesto (heated with extra olive oil).  I roasted some bread crumbs in olive oil to sprinkle on top of the dish and offered grated parmesan on the side.  Voila!  

The table was set.  The candles were lit.  Sinatra was crooning in the background.   Donna walked in.  She smiled and sat down.  A Caymus Vineyards Meiomi red was the perfect accompaniment.  We had a caramel gelato for dessert.  In retrospect, the lemon artichoke pesto made the dish too lemony (though it was still very good).  Next time, I may stay with olive oil and some extra garlic or peperoncino.  But hey — I scored some points.  Major points after doing the dishes.       

Scoring Points. . . . Afterword

To further explain the acquisition of “points” in my prior post, I should explain that Donna and Lauren had been off shopping.  Donna arrived home at about 7:30 pm — tired and hungry.  Soooooooo, in addition to the 9-1/2 point meal that was so perfectly crafted, I had a Banyan Tree C.D. crooning some New Age stuff in the background, candles were lit, the splendid meal was on the table — appropriately hot (enchiladas), cool (avocado) and cold (mango).   Oh and did I mention the frozen French martini* that was waiting (and within quick grasp)? 

These are points that can be swept away in a heartbeat by some real or imagined misstep (such as not changing a light bulb).  But for now, they remain on the asset side of the ledger. . . .

*French martini — Chopin potato vodka; Chambord; and pineapple juice.