Friday, June 28, 2013

Selma's Texas BBQ

Not a great photo - I took it with my cell phone while balancing the plate on top a pillow on top my lap! Sorry!

That is a plate of take out food that we got from Selma's Texas Barbeque last Friday afternoon. We ordered enough that we all got to sample a little bit of everything except for the sausage, which was on the smoker and not due to be ready until 7 pm that evening. Selma's is on University Blvd in Moon, so it's not too far from our house, maybe 10 minutes.

In the photo, going clockwise starting from 12 o'clock, I tried cole slaw, macaroni & cheese, beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, ribs, and green beans with bacon. Kansas City sauce is in the center.
  • The cole slaw is good, nothing special but definitely not bad cole slaw.
  • The macaroni and cheese is yummy. Not too cheesy, not rubbery, just delicious, long and slow baked macaroni and cheese.
  • The beef brisket might have been my favorite of the meats. Tender and smoky.
  • The pulled pork was my least favorite of the meats - it seemed a bit dry to me.
  • The turkey was much more delicious than I expected. Then again, I never have high hopes for turkey. It was moist and flavorful.
  • The ribs were very good, too. Lots of meat that easily pulled from the bone.
  • The green beans with bacon were way too peppery for me - I had one taste and gave the rest to SP!
  • I really liked the Kansas City sauce - thick and rich, as advertised.
We also got a chicken dinner but didn't try the chicken until a few days later on leftover night. It was moist and tasty as well but not super smoke flavored. Mom and SP liked the corn muffins.

We ordered a Full Slab of Ribs, the Trail Boss Sampler meal, and the Chicken Leg/Thigh dinner, each came with 2 sides and a corn muffin, and we got 3 meals from all the food. Definitely a good deal!

All 3 of us liked our food and would definitely get food from Selma's in the future.

Selma's Texas Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Herby Cucumber Salad

Last week in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Food Section was a recipe for Herby Cucumber Salad. We love cucumbers and it looked like a great way to use a bunch of herbs we have been growing out on the deck: mint, parsley, and dill.
We always have plain yogurt, lemons, and mustard on hand. We also had some cucumber on hand because SP has been stopping at the farmers market on Fridays after work and buying 2 cucumbers and 2 zucchini for a grand total of $2. So we decided to try it.
Delicious. Refreshing. Herby. We omitted the garlic and the red onion but the herb flavors are so darn flavorful and fresh that I do not think those 2 ingredients are necessary. It's not a thick coating of dressing, it's very light. I think this dish is going to go into frequent rotation during the summer.

Article and recipe here.

*We made a full amount of dressing but only used half of it on one cucumber on Saturday. This morning I cut the other cucumber and mixed it with the other half of the dressing. I thought the cucumbers and dressing would get too watery after a day so I figured I'd keep them separate until we were ready to eat them.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fishy Compromise

Three weeks down, nine weeks to go on this hip fracture thing. Sigh. Saturdays seem to have gone from Saturday Dinner Date Nights to Saturday Grilling Nights. Specifically, Saturday Seafood Grilling Nights. I like the nice weather and being able to grill, but I also really miss heading out to dinner.

My mom is in town to help out while I recover, so nowadays the 'What's for dinner?' conversation includes her as well. Another person means fewer leftovers, so this question is being asked a lot more frequently. SP, I think, sees my mom's presence as a chance to push for fish for dinner because he knows she will eat fish. I got super annoyed when he suggested salmon because I hate fish and also because even if I choked it down, what if it upset my stomach while I was in so much hip pain and needing so much help getting around? The last thing I wanted was stomach distress on top of hip pain and muscle spasms.

So there has been compromise. Actually, compromise might be the wrong word. I just flat out said I refused to eat salmon and if that's what he wanted, fine, but he'd better get something else for me.

This past Saturday, he passed on the fish and instead bought a package of tiger shrimp at Costco, marinated them, and grilled them on skewers.
SP is very good at getting the shrimp cooked just right. Cooked through, but not too dried out, shriveled, or rubbery. Probably just 2-3 minutes per side.

The marinade:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • zest of a lemon
  • juice from a lemon
  • a bunch of chopped fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper 

They only need about a half an hour to marinate.
Alongside the shrimp, we had baguette, grilled zucchini, roasted tomatoes, and a cucumber salad. I love roasted tomatoes with seafood.
Two weekends ago, we also roasted tomatoes and grilled seafood. That Saturday, SP did buy salmon. Ick. He & mom ate the salmon, which he grilled on a cedar plank and seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and fresh dill. I ate scallops. He grilled the scallops on skewers and seasoned them same way as the salmon - seasoned with salt & pepper, brushed with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon over them as they grilled, and a light sprinkle of dill once they come off the grill.
The scallops were delicious and also cooked just right. I liked running forkfuls of scallop through the tomato juice - so good! Here's the tomatoes before going in the oven.
Lately I've been slicing the tomatoes, drizzling with olive oil, seasoning with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, and topping the slices with grated parmesan. Sometimes I'll sprinkle on fresh basil after they roast.

I don't know what grilled seafood this Saturday will bring, but I guarantee I won't be eating fish! I have, however, been loving the simple & quick, lemon & herb grilled shrimp and scallops.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cherry Sorbet

It's hot here and that means I am again in the mood for ice cream. I'm also in the mood for the summer fruits - cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. This is my favorite season!

SP likes fruit sorbets much more than ice cream and I've been bugging him to buy cherries, so we decided to make Cherry Sorbet from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.
It's simple - 2 pounds of cherries (stemmed & pitted), lemon juice, sugar, and water cooked in a saucepan, add a bit of almond extract or kirsch (we used almond extract), puree in blender, chill overnight, churn in ice cream maker, and enjoy. (We also added some vodka when we churned it.)
This is delicious. Like I may have had 3-4 scoops Sunday evening delicious and then SP refused to give me any more. A really good, intense cherry flavor, not icy like some sorbets we have tried. Definitely a make again sorbet.

Recipe can be found here or here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday

I was lucky enough to be invited to collaborate with 10 other Pittsburgh bloggers to describe a 'Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday.' Alex from everybody loves you came up with the idea and coordinated everything - many thanks to him. He kicked off 'Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday' with the 8am~10am time slot. 

My part of this collaboration is from 6pm~8pm. For SP and I, that time slot means one thing: a delicious dinner out. But where?

Here's how I narrowed it down: this is my perfect dinner. Not my idea of what everyone else thinks would be the perfect place. My perfect place. Still a lot of choices, though. 

SP saw me furrowing my brow and sighed with exasperation. He then reminded me that I could devour pizza and/or pasta every single day and be a very happy girl, so why was I fretting when the answer was obvious? OK. So my 'Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday Dinner' was going to be a pizza/pasta place. Still a lot of options. So I decided to rule out places we like in the suburbs (Il Pizzaiolo [although there is now a location in Market Square as well],Cucina Bella in Bridgeville). It would be a place that requires us to drive through a tunnel and into the city.

Still a lot of choices. So I thought, hmmm, I have a few weekends to do research. Or so I thought. Throw in a weekend of having to dine out with SP's family followed by a weekend of breaking my hip and suddenly, I had no opportunity for research. Or photos. 

The day I broke my hip, we had just selected a bottle of white wine to chill in the refrigerator for that evening - an evening of research for my 'Perfect Pittsburgh Dinner' at E2.

We have been to E2 once, but remember the meal well. We sat next to the front window, which offered the last bits of October daylight. Inside was dimly lit, the tables dark wood, a calm & intimate & friendly atmosphere. We shared Grilled Prosciutto stuffed with mozzarella & basil atop red pepper puree. Then we shared Mushroom Arancini. SP had a Mushroom Risotto for his entree, I had Orecchiette with Lamb Ragu. I still remember sitting at the table, savoring each tasty bite of that lamb ragu. I remember swapping plates with SP and each of us enjoying the other's meal. And then there was dessert - Enrico's biscotti set in vanilla ice cream for SP; beignets atop a blueberry sauce for me.

We have tried to return since then, but sadly, we have arrived just enough past the 6 pm opening time that we would have to wait 1-2 hours for a table. Usually, we sigh in sadness and head down the street to Park Bruges. But once this hip is healed, we are celebrating at E2

My plan was to do more 'Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday' research the following weekend at Piccolo Forno on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. We have dined at Piccolo Forno several times and even taken my parents, who are used to Las Vegas prices and plates and who were very pleasantly surprised not just by the BYOB policy but by the cost and quality and quantity of food at Piccolo Forno. Usually I order the prosciutto & arugula pizza and SP orders a pasta and we share. I love the bustling interior, the red brick walls, the friendly staff, the customers surrounding their tables, enjoying their BYOB beverages, laughing and talking, sharing food. I've stolen bites of food from my dining companions - bites of lasagna, pasta with boar, a spinach pasta with lamb ragu, a canneloni filled with cheese & veggies. Sometimes I order an entire pasta like the Tortelli stuffed with beef & pork just for myself. But then I miss the pizza. I always save room for dessert, whether it's the tiramisu or a gelato or a daily special like a fruit tart.

And then I waddle out.

Sometimes the 'Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday Dinner' isn't about returning to a favorite place. Sometimes it's about trying somewhere new-to-you. There are 2 new-to-me places that I really want to try, and hopefully, we will soon.

One is Sienna Sulla Piazza in Market Square. It was recently named Best New Restaurant 2013 by Pittsburgh Magazine. There are several delicious sounding (to me) dishes on the menu: chianti braised short ribs with orzo mac & cheese and tomato-bacon jam, veal milanese, ricotta & spinach agnolotti with asparagus and pancetta, just to name a few.

Another place is Stagioni on the South Side. Made to Order Mozzarella with prosciutto, roasted peppers, olives, olive oil, balsamic reduction - sounds so good! Gnocchi with lamb, peas, pecorino. Mmmmm. 

So that's my 'Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday 6pm~8pm.' A pizza and/or pasta place, either one we've tried and loved or a new experience. I am going to all four places as soon as I am better. The surgeon said 8-12 weeks until the fracture heals (plus some rehab time on top of that). So look out SP - your September Saturday dinner date nights are filled! I will be making up for 8-12+ weeks of 'house arrest!'

Next up is 8pm~10pm. This time slot has two bloggers! Head on over to Mary at Mary vs Food and over to Tony & DeAnna at D&T in the burgh.

Complete Line Up:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dual Purpose Dessert

Yesterday marked 16 days since surgery and I had an appointment at the orthopedic surgeon's offices. I was nervous, because 9 years ago when I broke my femur, an orthopedic surgeon decided to first try manipulating the bone into position and setting it in a cast, no surgery. The hope was that nothing would shift out of place before the bone started to heal. That didn't work, the bone shifted, and after 3 weeks, I had to have surgery anyway. Add on a week until surgery could be scheduled, and that means I spent an extra month in a full leg cast and in a lot of pain. Not fun.

I was nervous yesterday because there is a chance that the screws could get messed up. Apparently, if you have low bone density, until the bone heals/grows around screws/pins, there is a chance the screws/pins could shift or poke through the end of a bone and if that happened... well. Let's not go there.
To our relief, the x-rays showed that thus far, everything is staying in place and the fracture is starting to heal. There looks to be a good amount of space from the end of the screws/pins to the end of the bone. They removed my staples and the incision looks good, just lots of bruising still. My next appointment is in 2 months, and so until then, I must take it easy. It's pretty frustrating because it's summer and I want to be outside, at the Arts Festival, at Pirates games, seeing movies, going out to eat, but I know if I go out and something happens, I'll be devastated. Many people seem to not really see me in the wheelchair and trip over me/plow me over and I do not want any mishaps. Better to 'give up' up one summer than a summer and fall and maybe even more. Besides, once the HHH days of summer kick in, I'll want to hide inside in the a/c anyway!
When SP & I got home, we shared the good news with my mom. She was very relieved, and then she went to the refrigerator and brought out treats for us. She said she had stopped at Market District for a little dessert to celebrate the good news. Or, as she also said, a little dessert to cheer us up if there was bad news! So she bought 'dual purpose' dessert - cheering or consoling! She got mini fruit tarts for her and SP. For me, she bought this adorable chocolate teacup filled with tiramisu. It was so cute I didn't want to break it, but once we settled in to watch another episode of 'Downton Abbey' (SP and I are zipping through Season 1 - love the show!), I had no problems breaking the chocolate teacup.

It was a very tasty, if chocolaty, dessert, but mostly I am happy it was enjoyed as a celebration and not a consolation.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tiramisu Ice Cream

I wrote this post before I fell and broke my hip. Since that day, I have not really wanted any ice cream. But before I fell, I was a little obsessed with ice cream. Cool and creamy, perfect on those recent hot days. My obsession led to me deciding to finally purchase David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. There are so many ice creams and sorbets and granitas that I want to try, and not nearly enough weeks in the summer, but of course SP knew what my first choice of ice cream to try would be: Tiramisu.
I love tiramisu. I can't really pick a favorite dessert because there are just so many delicious and drool-worthy desserts out there, but tiramisu would definitely be in the top 10. Maybe Top 5.
I was a little unsure about this recipe. 'Everyone' seemed to rave about this ice cream, but 'everyone' also raved about a Blueberry-Sour Cream ice cream from Dorie Greenspan and when SP and I tried it, we both really disliked it. As in we let more than half melt down the drain disliked it. We also tried a Lemon-Buttermilk ice cream, I'm not remembering the source, and also disliked it. It was another melt down the drain ice cream. There were 1 or 2 other dislikes in our ice cream adventures, and we noticed they all seemed to share this: either no eggs and/or an addition of an ingredient like sour ream, buttermilk, etc.
This Tiramisu Ice Cream does not use eggs. Thus far, cooked custard bases have been my favorite ice creams. And this ice cream uses mascarpone, which to us qualifies as an addition of an extra, creamy-ish ingredient. And, it calls for a lot of booze, more than I thought would allow it to properly freeze. But 'everyone' swore it the best ice cream ever and oh so good and no one else seemed to have any mishaps, so...
Well. Not us. I am pretty sure we won't be making this again. Perhaps because we made just a half batch, perhaps I halved incorrectly (doubtful because we both did the halving math to double check what we were measuring),  but...

We made the base & the chocolate ripple on a Saturday evening, put them in the refrigerator overnight, churned the base Sunday morning and layered it with the ripple in our usual container, and then the ice cream sat in the freezer until Monday evening around 9 pm when we decided it was ice cream time. Which was when we discovered that it wasn't frozen. At all. It was liquid ice cream. And SP hadn't even 'accidentally' left the freezer cracked open (which happened last summer and our mango and lemon sorbets turned into liquid). I was not happy: it seemed my booze fears came true - way too much booze for it to freeze. Grrr.

But the next night, it was frozen, perhaps because we threw it in the back of the freezer in frustration and perhaps that area was a colder area? But once scooped out, it still melted quickly. Too quickly.

And it's a little too boozy, flavor-wise. Yes, tiramisu has booze in it and can taste boozy, but... this was a little too much, especially with the rapid melting.

Given the cost of the mascarpone, even for just a half recipe, plus the other costs and efforts, I think I give this one just a 'meh, probably won't ever make again' review.

Recipe can be found online here:http://365scoops.com/2011/05/19/tiramisu-ice-cream/ or here: http://joelens.blogspot.com/2009/01/tiramisu-ice-cream.html

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Break

It's been 2 weeks since I last blogged, and there's a good reason for the blogging break: I am broken.

I don't say much about my health issues on this blog, other than that I use a wheelchair, but I have some pretty serious health issues.

On the morning of June 1, I decided to switch up my usual Saturday morning routine and transfer into my 'comfy chair' for a morning of catching up on magazines & books. I successfully transferred into my recliner, but needed to get the wheelchair out of the way in order to put up my feet. I couldn't get the brakes off, I leaned too far across as I tried to get them off, and you can guess what happened: the brakes suddenly flew off right as I leaned too far forward, I lost my balance on the edge of comfy chair, the wheelchair went rolling across the hardwood floor, and I rolled/fell out of comfy chair, landing on my hip on the hardwood floors and knowing instantly from the pain that I'd broken my hip (one health issue: very low bone density). About 11 years ago, I fell and broke my right hip, resulting  in a total hip replacement, so I just knew the left one was broken.

Sure enough, a few painful hours later, we knew: a fracture. My surgeon decided to use pins to stabilize the hip and let the fracture heal, which will take 8-12 weeks. Thankfully, he was able to use pins because I already have a metal rod in my left femur from when I broke my femur 9 years ago. That metal rod would be an issue if I had to have total hip replacement - I might need an additional surgery on the femur as well and that would... I can't even fathom.

This stinks. I am in a lot of pain in my left hip, other existing health issues are impacting on my ability to recover from the surgery, we had to cancel our 2 week vacation (which was supposed to begin in 2 days), and I cannot leave the house right now. I feel like I ruined summer.

So I am not doing anything in the kitchen. Blogging is going to be pretty scarce, or maybe just daily rants of how much pain I am in and how much it all stinks and when can I have my next pain pill?

Just wanted to let readers know I'm not quitting. Just taking a break because I am literally broken!