Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

Thursday Thoughts: France.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Quiche Lorraine

When we can't figure out what to eat for dinner and want something easy, one of our go to meals is quiche with a salad. A few weeks ago we tried Quiche Lorraine from Cook's Country (April/May 2018).
But we cheated. We didn't make the crust from scratch. We bought a frozen crust. We'd like to make the crust, but we just had too much going on and had to make some sacrifices.
Bacon-Onion-Gruyere - yum. This was a delicious quiche. Next time, we'll make the crust (if we have time!).

Our Quiche:

Frozen pie crust
Package of bacon - some for breakfast, some for the quiche, some for lunch during the week. I think we put about 7 slices of chopped bacon in the quiche
Half an onion, chopped
Generous 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1&1/4 c heavy cream
5 eggs
1 tbsp cornstarch
salt & pepper

Cook bacon. Reserve a bit of bacon fat. Set cooked bacon aside.

Cook onion in reserved bacon fat until starting to brown. Set aside.

Whisk together 1/4 cup cream and cornstarch. Whisk in eggs, remaining cream, salt, pepper until mixture is smooth.

Scatter bacon, onion, and cheese over bottom of crust. Pour egg-cream mixture on top. Bake at 350 for about an hour, until browned on top. Let cool for a bit (they suggest 2 hours; I doubt we waited that long).

*Make sure to put your crust on a baking sheet and then fill it. The baking sheet will catch any egg-cream mixture that splooshes out when moving it into the oven.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

*I wrote this post yesterday because I thought it was Thursday. But then I realized it was Wednesday. That's the kind of week it has been.

I can't believe this coming weekend is already Memorial Day weekend! For me, Memorial Day is the start of summer and the "real" grilling/smoking season.

I'm not sure when it happened, but our yard went from scraggly and struggling to look alive to out of control jungle in about 2 hours! One day it was mowed and by the next morning, the dandelions had again taken over. Ahhh summer yard work season.

What We're Eating:


What We're Watching:

  • Last weekend we saw Deadpool 2. I enjoyed it, not quite as much as the first one, but it was still a fun movie.
  • We watched Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It was better than we expected! The Rock and Jack Black were terrific.
  • We are caught up on our shared TV shows except for the season finale of Gotham. I'm rapidly losing interest in Gotham. It doesn't seem to move on, it just sticks with the same villains putting the main characters and/or Gotham in danger in new ways. The only thing that changes is which villain is in charge of the city.

What I'm Reading:

  • I had to return my library books, unread, because they were due/not renewable. Oh well.
  • I read a couple magazines, but new issues started arriving, so the pile is about the same.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Morcilla

This post is way overdue. Maybe even unnecessary because I've often remarked on the blog that Morcilla is one of our favorite, maybe our favorite, restaurants in Pittsburgh. We were sad in January when a burst pipe flooded the restaurant, causing them to close for renovations until this past April. While we couldn't go in February for SP's birthday, we were able to go in April for our anniversary.

SP continued making his way down the gin list while I stuck with wine. As usual, we ordered more plates of food to share than we really needed, but we ate it all anyway because it's so yummy. Some our our favorites are still on the menu plus we tried some new (to us) plates.
Like this fluke with toasted garlic. It was all SP's and he said it was delicious.
In addition to the usual beloved plate of Serrano ham with marcona almonds, we shared an order of Oxtail Montadito (caramelized onion, mahon cheese, baguette). I was so happy this was still on the menu because I love it.
Garbanzo Bean Frites (cucumber yogurt, za'atar, harissa). I think this is a new plate and it was very good. I loved the smooth, cool sauce with the frites.
Also new: Pimentone Cheese Montadito (mahon, idiazabal, manchego, queso de cabra, fermented iberian chili, piquillo peppers, cucumber, dill). SO GOOD. I cannot decide if this is my new favorite or if the oxtail is still my favorite. I hope this is never, ever, ever taken off the menu.
Mid-meal, more wine for me and a new gin drink for SP, with floating star anise and citrus wedges.
We finished our "dinner" with the Costillas de la Matanza (baby back pork ribs, pomegranate sherry caramel, scallions, coriander, crunchy black olive), which we have enjoyed on previous visits, and an Artichoke-Cheese Gratin dish. It was so cheesy and delicious. A woman at a table near us kept going on & on how it was so rich she needed bread to cut the richness, blah, blah. We think she was crazy. We didn't want bread, not once, we just ate the cheesy artichokes and spoon-fought over the last bits in the bowl.
Churros are still on the dessert menu so of course we ordered them, along with cappuccino, and when we were there, there was also a lemon dessert (I think it was lemon because SP loves lemony desserts). I don't think it was a creme brulee, maybe a flan? Something like that. It was good, but not as good as the churros in chocolate hazelnut dipping sauce.

So the "new" Morcilla is just as lovely & delicious as the "old" Morcilla. We're glad it's open and are looking forward to a summer visit.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

I've been doing a lot of research for an upcoming vacation and there is something I don't understand at all: Why on earth do people post selfies on sites like Yelp & Trip Advisor? A photo of you & your smiling family/friends isn't useful. It doesn't help me see a restaurant's food or if a place has a step or two to enter or anything else useful. I don't want to see all your personal vacation photos.

Also, while I know my grammar and writing are not the best and I am sure there are more than just typo errors in my posts, good grief a lot of people writing reviews on those sites (Yelp, etc.) have AWFUL spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Is this a result of poor education in our school system or do only those with a middle school education post on these sites? I'm pretty sure I could do a better job when I was 10 years old. Lots of times I cannot even figure out what they're trying to say. 

Maybe I should start keeping a log of the "best" reviews I read and then share them. 

The rain has turned our yard into a dandelion field. It looks awful. 
Speaking of rain, SP got wet on Sunday while grilling salmon and scallops for Mother's Day dinner. The scallops were perfectly cooked and delicious, but lacked a good sear because he was having trouble with the grill in the wind/rain. The scallops were skewered, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt & pepper. For the salmon, he soaked a cedar plank, placed thin slices of lemon atop the plank (overlapping the slices), placed the salmon atop the bed of lemon slices, brushed it with olive oil, sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and thyme, and grilled it.
SP's mom brought an apple-raspberry pie that she bought at the May Market. It was quite tasty.
SP had trouble cutting and serving it. All the pieces were a little mangled! She also brought some frosted shortbread cookies and we had bought angel food cake and strawberries. Lots of desserts!

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled salmon and scallops, tomatoes (with mozzarella, basil, and balsamic), grilled zucchini, Mediterra sourdough 
  • Leftover Stout Pub & Kitchen 
  • Grilled chicken, colby, tomato, basil panini + grilled zucchini
  • Dessert: leftover MD angel food cake with strawberries, leftover apple-raspberry pie, cookies

What We're Watching:

  • Gah! I am loving The Americans! Phillip finally telling Elizabeth what he's been up to. Elizabeth questioning her assignment. Elizabeth's end of episode conversation with Phillip. And Stan - he just somehow knows!
  • I'm really glad NBC picked up Brooklyn Nine-Nine. We really like the show and were sad over the initial news it had been cancelled.
  • Most of our shows end for the season this week. I'm kind of happy about a break so we can finally watch Jessica Jones Season 2, Genius (Picasso), and a few other things piled up on the DVR.
  • Of course that means some shows start again, like Animal Kingdom on TNT. Can't wait to see what happens with Smurf and Baz.

What I'm Reading:

  • No progress on the magazine pile (3) or book pile (3).
  • Lots of vacation research.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Stout Pub & Kitchen

We used to go to Bocktown a lot and were sad when it closed. Recently, a new placed opened in the former Bocktown space: Stout Pub & Kitchen. It's been open a little over a month and a friend (who heard from a friend of an ex of a cousin and was at a private event there when we arrived) said Stout is from The Yard people (the grilled cheese restaurant with locations in Shadyside, Market Square, the Galleria). I also hear there might be a Yard location coming next to Stout?

According to their website, Stout Pub & Kitchen "is focused on sustainable and organic practices, with in-house cured and smoked meats, seasonal products, and a rotating and evolving menu." They serve beers, cocktails, and libations from PA staples Wigle Whiskey & Grist House Brewery plus use  products from local farms such as Jubilee Hilltop Ranch and Jamison Farms, cheese from Middlefield, and ice cream from Millie's.

The new Stout space seems a bit more open than Bocktown and seems to be decorated in shades of gray instead of the former brown wood. Gone are the wall of refrigerated beers and the booths along one side. It seemed quite noisy when we were there (we were seated in the small back room since there was a private party in the main dining area).
They serve fresh brewed iced tea - a huge plus for me. SP ordered an Irish Red beer from what looked like a pretty extensive beer list.
To start, we shared a small House Salad (berries, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, house pickled vegetables, local organic greens with pomegranate vinaigrette). This was a yummy salad. Next time, I'd ask for no onions (personal preference).
We shared a small order of Stout Pierogies (Stout braised smoked brisket pierogies with homemade kraut, crispy pancetta, and spiced apple yogurt). These were really tasty. Nice size pierogies, larger than we make, but that's a good thing because there was lots of potato-brisket filling.
For his meal, SP chose House Corned Beef (Middlefield grass-fed Monterey Jack, pickled slaw, thousand island dressing). The sandwiches are served on ciabatta. He chose sweet potato fries over regular french fries. He said it was delicious.
I chose Smoked Brisket (Middlefield smoked cheddar, apples, bacon) with sweet potato fries.
It's a large sandwich, so I knew I'd only be able to eat half. Lots of tender, pull apart brisket. Thinly sliced apple. Really good. I liked the fries, but my personal preference is skinny fries.
We weren't planning on having dessert, but then our server mentioned bread pudding, which SP likes, and then she mentioned they serves Millie's ice creams. I really, really liked Millie's coffee ice cream the one time I had it. Millie's isn't close to us. So of course we had to order some. They were out of our first choice, chocolate stout, so we got grape sorbet. With a homemade waffle cone.
I liked the grape sorbet much more than I expected. I liked it in sorbet form - once it melted, the liquid was a little too sweet and syrupy. I had a lot of fun breaking the cone and dipping bit int he sorbet. Yum!

We're happy that a new, non-chain restaurant opened in Robinson. It looked like the outdoor deck/patio area is still there, so that will be nice on good weather days (it was raining the day we were there). The food was tasty. The employees who greeted and seated us were very friendly and helpful. Our server (the receipt says Melinda) was a lot of fun. Our food didn't arrive too quickly, we were able to finish courses before the next round of food arrived, and she checked on us several times during our meal. SP's iced tea was kept filled (I call him a sponge because he can go through a beer plus 3-4 glasses of water/iced tea at one meal out). And best of all, someone came running outside before we drove away to return a cell phone left behind on the table (it wasn't mine!).

We'll be back.

*We didn't have a reservation, and I don't think they are required, but I noticed they are on OpenTable.


Stout Pub & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

Exciting News: We got a new car! We've been talking about it for a while and have, off and on, maybe for a year now, looked at some cars and test driven some, but we didn't give in and take on a car payment until about 10 days ago. Our poor car - the driver's side door was not aligned properly and had become difficult to shut and  then there was the cracked and sometimes drooping front bumper not to mention the dents and scratches from other people/cars (I'm not kidding here - that car got so dinged up in the garage where SP works). We decided to not pay to repair our 2010 Civic that lacked many of the current new car features (like back up cameras). We settled on the Honda Accord. It has so many neat features! We both like the dual zone climate control to end the battles there and I am anxious to try out the ventilated seat feature in the summer. We love it. Now we need to take a road trip. Meanwhile, SP is trying to park far away from cars and people at work!
Last weekend we joined a birthday dinner gathering at Bahama Breeze. Bahama Breeze has never been a restaurant at which I enjoy dining. I've never had a good meal there and several times have left feeling queasy. It doesn't help that I dislike their "island flavors" like coconut, garlic, jerk seasoning, jalapenos, plantains, pineapple, garlic, spicy, etc. Plus, I don't like fish, I don't eat hamburgers/steak when I eat out, and I don't get shellfish at places like BB because inevitably, it's overcooked/not great quality for the price. I used to get the Cobb  Salad, but that left me queasy one time too many. I tried the Cuban Sandwich, but didn't much like it. One time I tried the chicken quesadilla and it was flavorless. This time I had a house salad (it was fine) and ordered the beef and chicken empanadas. They didn't have any of the chicken empanadas (at 5 pm - ?), so I just had the beef. It was an appetizer that I ordered for dinner, four "handmade pastries filled with savory beef and potatoes." I think of empanadas as baked, not deep fried, so I was disappointed right away (much like deep fried pierogies disappoint me). The beef-potato mixture tasted like canned stew and it had a bit of a kick which somehow turned into a huge kick when something set off a fire under my tongue and I chugged 2 large iced teas. Ugh. It could have just been a big blob of black pepper, but still. I was miserable.

I took the leftovers home and by the next morning the refrigerator SMELLED AWFUL. SP didn't want to eat them and the smell was gagging me (we were going in & out of the refrigerator a lot because we were prepping dinner) so SP took them outside to the trash can. Gross.
SP had a Shrimp & Mahi with Lemongrass Sauce Bowl (sautéed Mahi Mahi, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, sugar snap peas, edamame and bell peppers in a zesty coconut lemongrass sauce served over white rice). He seemed to like it.
What We're Eating:


What I'm Watching:

  • We've been trying to catch up on Gotham, but I've lost interest so I started reading magazines.
  • Baked in Vermont is back on Food Network. The Shaker Style Chicken Pot Pie she made looked delicious.
  • We've also been catching on the latest Worst Cooks - Celebrity Edition. 
  • I watched the movie Lady Bird and thought it was good. 
  • I suspect tonight is going to be a teary Grey's Anatomy.

What I'm Reading:

  • I finished Twisted Prey by John Sandford. As usual, loved his writing.
  • I read 4 magazines but there are still 3 in the pile.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

It has finally warmed up - maybe a little too much! I don't think of 80+ degrees as being spring but it sure beats winter and snow in April. It's nice to not have cold toes inside. Of course our weird little house heats up quickly so we had to turn on the a/c when it hit 77 inside. And no, I won't open the windows. For one, we don't have the screens in. For two, even with the screens in, wasps and other evil critters wiggle their way inside. And for three, I have bad allergies and all the pollen blowing in really sets off my allergy attacks.

I was excited to go in the sunroom today. That is, until I was in the sunroom and realized we haven't cleaned it since last October, not even after using it at Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, so it is super dusty, there's holiday glitter sparkling in the sunlight, some food smears on the tables, and dust, did I mention the dust? You can write messages in the dust. Eeew. So cleaning the sunroom is on the weekend chore list. Along with so many other things. Ugh.

Last weekend we saw The Avengers: Infinity War. We both enjoyed the movie. Of course, we've seen all the preceding Marvel movies leading to this one, we knew all the stories and what had been going on, and we knew going in that this movie was part one of two. That being said. for us, it was a good movie and we're looking forward to next May for part 2. I can understand the criticisms of the movie. But seriously how can you not cheer/clap when Captain America shows up for the first time? Just from the silhouette, you know who it is. Or when Thor joins the others? And how can you not feel all the feelings at the end if you've seen all the other movies and understand the relationships? Yes, I got a little teary. I mean, I can kind of guess what comes next, but still. *sniffle*

What We're Eating:

  • Apricot-Mustard Grilled Chicken with spiralized zucchini, and olive oil bread
  • Ham-Capicola-Provolone-Tomato Panini
  • Dessert: Raspberry Shortbread Bars

What We're Watching:


What I'm Reading:

  • I'm trying to read the new magazines, but I seem to be losing.
  • John Sandford's latest: Twisted Prey


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Parmesan Breaded Chicken

One of my favorite dinners is breaded chicken. I love it. We saw this recipe on an episode of Ina Garten's Cook Like A ProLemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping. It was the Parmesan episode. I couldn't wait to try this chicken. Surprisingly, I've never added parmesan to my breading. I don't know why. 
The breading is seasoned bread crumbs with parmesan, thyme, and lemon zest added. Yum! Happily, there was enough thyme from our indoor herb garden. This is easy to make. It's the usual flour-egg-bread crumb process and then you fry the chicken in olive oil & butter - but not a lot of it. The chicken isn't dunked in inches of oil. The cooked chicken is topped with an arugula salad and shaved parmesan.

This is delicious. This is my new favorite breaded chicken. So much yummy parmesan, lemon, and herb flavor. We'll definitely make this again. We made enough for 3 dinners and ate the chicken cold on the "leftovers" nights.

Recipe here: Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping