The Nearly Meatless Philly Cheese “Steak” Sandwich

Here I go again guys, making stuff that tastes yummy like meat does without the problems. I did use a small amount of Proscuitto, but it could be easily omitted. Without that addition, I would probably add a little Smoked Paprika or Smoked Tofu to add that element back in.

So what we have here is a mackin’ sandwich that I hope you will add to your “make it, and make it often” list of go-to meals. It tastes best with a Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, the beer choice of hipsters and bohemians alike!

It’s super simple, relying on awesome ingredients.

Hen of the Woods Organic Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with crushed red pepper, red leeks  and a smattering of Proscuitto. Melt some good quality Smoked Gouda on top and slide onto a bakery roll and top with onions from the Porchtime Pickled Eggs from your fridge :), a smear of organic mayo, salt and pepper and you have more than brotherly love! Make sure to warm up the buns in the cast iron pan to get them a tad greasy with olive oil. mmmmmmm.


Fry Pan Pizza

If you’ve watched Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, you may remember that he exclaimed in horror “Pizza for breakfast?!”.

Of course, he was referring to the mass-produced, cardboard tasting, salt-laden abomination of “pizza” that is sold to countless millions. What he wasn’t referring to was a fresh, handmade, organic, veggie-topped pie-of-heaven with a Greek fried egg on the side that we had for breakfast!

Well, you know me, I just have to fry stuff I guess!. No really, making a pizza in a frying pan is an awesome idea especially if it is too hot to turn on the oven, your oven is broken (you know who you are!) or, like me, you are starving and just can’t wait for all the rigour-ra-moll that goes with making a pizza from scratch at home.

Luckily, I made a batch of pizza dough yesterday and was ahead of the game. I took a fist-sized ball of the dough and rolled it out quite thin and chopped up my toppings while the ever trusty cast iron pan got sizzling hot.

For the toppings I used: Swiss Chard (of course!), green onion , red bell pepper, garlic and crushed red pepper, all of which got the usual treatment in the cast iron pan.

Now for the fun part, I took out the toppings and set aside and got the pan really hot. I added a little oil and then carefully added my rolled out dough. That thing poufed right up and just sizzled away to crispy goodness. I flipped it over and “baked” the other side while I added my toppings and a little grated Jack  and Cotija cheeses.

After it was nice and crispy on the other side, I took it out of the pan and then quickly fried a few Greek style eggs.

I cut this true “pan” pizza in two and served with the eggs. It was really just a fancy version of toast and eggs, or shall I say a “luscious” version? Yeah, it was all that. Oooh, I just realized that it would be a yummy and unusual base for a Benedict, using a biscuit cutter to make smaller rounds before frying. Oh my.

yes, I took bites before taking the pic. sorry, but I was sooo hungry!

(Oh, and I also topped it with some pepperoncini, but I put those on lots of stuff. I’m addicted, and plan on making my own later in the summer!)

Who Knew Eating Out of a Jar Could be so Fun?

So we finally tried the pickled eggs. What a pleasant surprise! I had always thought they looked gross when I was a kid, but now I can see their value.

Slightly sweet, tangy and tender the very chilled eggs straight out of the jar were a perfect light lunch with bread and cheese and some of the really delicious pickled onions from the jar as well. Hubby and I were both coming up with all kinds of ideas for future pickled eggs. He, of course, wants a “Diablo” style, super hot egg. My mind went in the direction of improving the quality of the eggs by using organic, and then I realized just how awesome it would be to have my own flock of chickens for the eggs! very cool.

I was thinking that Porchtime Organic Pickled Eggs are a great thing to have on hand in your fridge: unexpected company, really hot outside, camping, picnics, use them for deviled eggs, smash on bread, chop on salad etc.

Isn’t it great when one of your goofy ideas comes out good? I think so.

In Case of Clouds, Add Mimosa

Brunch is one of my favorite meals ever. You can eat to your heart’s content and have plenty of time to burn it off later, plus it’s the perfect excuse to start drinking early on a Sunday. My Mimosa of choice is Louise d’Estree Brut 3/4 full glass with the rest Villa Italia Blood Orange Soda, both from Trader Joe’s.  I like it because it’s not too sweet and the color is beautiful.

I was feeling pretty creative this morning and took my time preparing this yummy brunch.

My good stuff on hand: Dried Shitakes, Organic Jumbo Eggs, Bread from the local bakery Frank’s, Swiss Chard, Dill, Basil and Leeks (all from my garden), Goat Cheese, Hot house tomatoes (i usually don’t buy tomatoes, but they were on sale), Balsamic, Olive Oil and just a splash of Fish Sauce.

First, I frizzled my leeks in olive oil and used them to top a pretty tomato slice and a slice of goat cheese on the plate. I then added fresh ground pepper and topped with a little chopped dill.

Next, I sauteed the Chard quickly with a little garlic and put it to the side. The Shitakes I had soaked so I drained them and dry fried them with the Basil, adding the dash of fish sauce to deglaze the pan. Toasted Bread was then added to the plate and here’s where I got creative. One slice I  dressed with a quick little dressing I made with the Oil/Balsamic/more dill/dried herbs and then topped with the cooked chard. The other slice I left dry and mounded the mushrooms on top. I meant to poach the eggs, but kinda forgot and did the Greek Fried Egg like I mostly do. I topped each bread slice with an egg and sprinkled on a little more chopped dill and basil.

the first flavor layer on the bread base and my pretty tomato stack

The beauty behind the presentation is this: My hubby likes goat cheese, but doesn’t like a lot of it. Having the little stack of tomato and cheese on the plate made it so we each could add as much as we liked as a condiment to the eggs. Plus, it was funner to have it presented in a pretty way. I have to say while both versions were excellent, my favorite was the Swiss Chard one with plenty of the tomato/goat cheese stack added.

Shawns "overhard" version. Def would be prettier with poached, but still yummy!

No, we did not have the ubiquitous pile of potatoes on the side like you get in so many restaurants. No butter was harmed (or used!) in the making of this brunch and it really was not heavy at all, just fresh, elegant and delish.

On to the rest of the Mimosas and a great Sunday!

Buddha Approved!

Porchtime Pickle Preview

Finally. My first pickling attempt has taken place and….it was fun!

I kind of knew that I would enjoy the process because I generally love to make dishes that require some assemblage such as enchiladas, lasagna, spring rolls etc. and the pickling process was right up my alley.

I pickled eggs for a couple of reasons. For starters, my cucumbers are not ready yet and also Henry’s had eggs on sale for 88 cents. At that price, it was buy them and throw them at the cars driving by on Washington or pickle those bad boys!

I found a recipe online for “Sweet Pickled Eggs” which I of course altered except for the brine. I added garlic, dill, a radish and a carrot to each jar. The brine was simply water, vinegar, sugar and pickling spice. I didn’t have pickling spice, so I used Zataran’s crab boil as it was practically the same thing. I’ll have to update y’all when we taste them in about a week, but they sure look yummy!

On The Gathering of Things

By now you’ve probably noticed that I am not much of a material girl. I don’t want or “need” the trappings of a sex in the city type and I just downright enjoy getting a bargain and NOT paying 300 bucks for a pair of jeans.  I am, however, occasionally hit by the bug and just want to get a little sumthin sumthin for a little variety to my mostly obtained through donation closet collection or the house in general.

A few weeks back, we were out walking in Hillcrest and I spied a sale rack at a cute boutique stating that “everything on this rack $20”. Well, of course I had to look and of course found a super cute dress that Shawn said would no doubt become my new “uniform”. I tried it on, bought it and left the store wearing it. Normally, I only buy clothes from thrift stores or just have them given to me by my daughter and my friend Anita, but it just kinda happened, you know?

The very next day, this stupid dress started falling apart at the seams, literally! I had to get ol’ Betsy the sewing machine out and sew the bottom ruffle back on as it came almost completely off at the back . Ok, didn’t want to take it back cuz it IS cute and comfy. A couple days later, put it on again and this time the adjustable strap thingy wouldn’t keep the boulder up,so I tied a knot in the strap near the tiny plastic adjuster. About an hour later, I noticed the boob slipping down and lo and behold the damn plastic thing had cracked and half of it had fallen off! I was PO’d. But, no receipt to be found so I will have to just sew the strap in place I guess.

But how wrong is that? Cheap ass junk. Maybe  the old saying about you get what you pay for may apply here, but bear in mind this dress originally sold for $60. The bumpersticker moral to this story, for me anyway, is “I’d rather be shopping at Amvets”.

So with new dedication, the Amvets on the frontage road off Pacific Highway is now my go-to place for virtually everything. I guess I can’t buy panties or a bathing suit there, but whatever.Well, I guess I could. But nah.

Recently I have scored the following:

*2 pairs of gorgeous, nearly new, Pier One lined curtain panels for $19.95. They had been priced the day before at $19.95 per pair, but the next day when I went back they had a 50 percent off sale! Jeez, lucky! One pair is now hanging in my bedroom and the other pair may get used to make pillow covers and maybe even a new “uniform” dress for me!

*a huge and awesome wine decanter just like my wine broker friend’s for $2.95

*a pair of barely worn Lucky jeans for $7.95!!! They were 50 percent off the already incredibly cheap $14.95 and totally fit me (gasp!)

*a cute slightly trampy (ok, pretty trampy) Bebe top for $2.95

*Tommy Bahama shorts for Shawn, totally pressed and new looking for $5.95

*Brand new with tags Callaway Golf shirt for Shawn for $5.95

The only problem is, I have become a little obsessed with checking there a little more often than I should and I’m probably buying more stuff than I normally would just because of the awesome deals. Dear god, I can walk to the freaken’ place! I think I even have the recorded store information they play over the loudspeaker memorized. I’ve even been almost able to zone out and not hear the occasionally screaming kids. Maybe I’ll give it a rest for a few weeks….or days…..or , hmmmm,  I wonder if they have any cool random chairs for my budding dining area?

Comfort Food Cravings

I swear you are all going to think that all I do is fry things! I promise I don’t, it’s just that its so yummy, I’m inspired to write about it.

Remember the Fried Chicken Mushroom post? Well, the other night we had family over to include my super skinny 18 and 20 year old nephews Nick and Ryan and their friend Will, and wow can they eat! I love cooking for people that really love to eat like that.

Here was what I made for them (of course all from scratch)

Chicken Fried Steak Mushrooms

Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom/Buttermilk Gravy

Garden Greens

Broccoli Cheddar Corn Muffins

and for dessert, Meyer Lemon Scented Sponge Cake with Strawberries/Blackberries and Whipped Cream

I knew I wanted to make the chicken fried mushrooms again, but we had decided to make them with the seasoning from Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken Fried Steak recipe. I bought the Organic King Oyster Mushrooms this time and wow! what a great texture. I sliced them lengthwise and marinated them in the buttermilk and the spices as before. The new spice mix was much better, more complex and really gave it that country style taste.

To make the mushroom gravy, I simply used trim from my Oyster mushrooms and a few dried shitakes and simmered them on the back of the stove to make a mushroom stock. After frying the mushrooms, I kept them warm in the oven and used the mushroom stock to deglaze the pan. There was already flour in the little bit of oil from frying the mushrooms, so I just simmered it down and then added a little buttermilk and more of the seasoning. It was great on the potatoes and the “chicken”.

You’ll notice that we had greens, of course! I made them more traditionally than usual with balsamic and a little prosciutto, garlic and some red onion and cooked them down. The meal was rounded out with the corn muffins, which I snuck even more veggies into with a little chopped up broccoli.

you'd think his mother never fed him!

I was very pleased with the cake, because I don’t bake that much and usually feel a little intimidated. I knew I wanted a strawberry shortcake type dish but did not want to buy those gross little ones from the store. The cake was actually really easy and everyone wolfed it down. I also got to use my really nifty whipped cream maker, fun!

Except for the 1/4 cup or so of diced prosciutto, this meal was completely vegetarian. The cake was completely organic, even the whipping cream.

Feeding people I love is such a joy, thanks for coming over guys!