Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Paris 66

Last weekend we met B for dinner at Paris 66. B is our friend who was in Paris at the same time as we were so we met up for dinner there. It's always good to see him and it was nice to feel a bit like we were back in Paris. Here's what we drank/ate:
French Old Fashioned (Lagavulin 16 year, honey, ginger, club soda, orange, cherry) and sauvignon blanc.
Appetizer: Tarte Flambée Alsacienne - Flammekueche (thin-crusted tart with bacon, onions, crème fraîche). Yum!
Coq au Vin (slow-cooked chicken in red wine with onions, carrots, mushrooms, and bacon served with gratin de coquillette). It was really tasty but big for me (and I wanted dessert). I took some home for lunch on Sunday.
Lapin a la Moutarde (rabbit cooked with Dijon mustard cream sauce, served with rice basmati). SP really liked this.
B chose Demi Canard Roti, Sauce Orange (1/2 roasted duck, orange sauce, gratin de coquillette).
For dessert, B chose Soufflé Glacé Grand Marnier so we got a little show at the table.
It's always fun to see a flaming dessert. I had a tiny bit and really liked it which I consider unfortunate because now there is yet another dessert I want to have.
SP & I shared La Soisy Crepe with strawberry preserves and whipped cream.
We also shared Pear and Almond Tart. Just as tasty as I remember from the last time we were there.

We enjoyed our meal, especially (for me) the desserts. Our server was lovely. Definitely a place we'll return.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Beau Monde Dip

One of my favorite things about holiday gatherings is indulging in foods we don't normally eat. Like veggies & dip. We eat lots of veggies at dinners, but not slathered in dip. I love dip. So does SP. I always call him the Big Dipper when he eats dip because he really goes in for a dip, it's more of a giant dunk, of veggie dip or cheese dip and it always amazes me because he's usually so health conscious. I'm the dip and cheese and carb lover. I'm the one without willpower around cookies. But dip, well he's a dipper. But not double dipper.

This is the dip I make almost all the time now: Beau Monde Dip. It's one of those recipes from my childhood. My friend's mom made this dip for us at a sleepover party and we all loved it. We each received a jar of Beau Monde Seasoning & the recipe on a cute index card as a gift on our subsequent birthdays. Lots of dill flavor plus parsley and of course, the beau monde seasoning (celery seed, onion, salt). 
Here's the Beau Monde Dip recipe I use:

2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped green onion 
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dill

Mix all ingredients together. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. 

*I omit the green onion.
*I always make it the day before.
*We use Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tricolore Stuffed Pork (Spinach, Provolone, Roasted Red Pepper)

Several weeks ago we made Tricolore Stuffed Pork from the Giada in Italy cookbook. I'm sure I've seen her make this dish on one of her Food Network shows. It always seemed a little intimidating but we needed something new-to-us because we were getting a little bored with our usual go-to meal ideas. This rolled/stuffed pork is actually not that difficult. Of course, SP did all the butchering and stuffing and rolling while I took photos and drank wine. But he didn't curse while doing it the way he has at other kitchen adventures.
Easy first step: slice an onion and put it in a baking dish, add chicken stock.
Also easy: rinse spinach, buy provolone piccante at deli counter, take roasted red peppers out of jar and drain.
Now the harder part. Take a beautiful chunk of pork loin and cut it so it lays flat.
OK, so ours was a little uneven. Oh well. It's still going to cook and be edible, just maybe not as pretty.
Easy part again: layering the ingredients. Cheese first.
Then red peppers.
Then spinach.
Back to a difficult task: rolling it all up like a jelly roll cake. SP had to keep shoving bits of cheese and spinach back in. He finally got it rolled and secured with twine.
Easy part: roast it.
Some of our cheese oozed out. We shoved some of it back in and ate the rest. Mmmmm melty provolone.
The end isn't too pretty, so slice it off.
More like a jelly roll look. Not as pretty as Giada's. But tasty.
We ate extra spinach and red pepper as a side salad. The pork was really good and I liked getting a bite of the stuffing with each piece of pork.

We'll definitely make this again. It does roast for 1-2 hours, so it takes some time, but while it's roasting you can clean up the kitchen and enjoy more wine. We like when the bulk of kitchen clean up is done before we eat.

Recipe here.

*We didn't use all the red pepper and spinach we had rinsed and drained for the stuffing. Not a big deal. It was nice because it meant our side salad was all ready to go.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

There's a new critter in town. This is the first time we've seen a coyote in our yard, but when we posted on FB and shared with some people in the area, we found out they have been roaming the neighborhood for years. The only good thing about this is that maybe it'll take care of the groundhogs?
Good news: the tree is off the deck. Above is tree removed/debris on deck, below is cleaned off deck. 
Don't think we'll be using the deck any time soon since it's missing a huge chunk of railing and another chunk is falling off. The insurance company has been here and things are proceeding. One very good thing: although a few shingles are scraped along the edge, nothing is loose/missing, there isn't damage to the roof/gutter (all the stuff we re-did in an expensive project 2 years ago).

What We're Eating:

  • Frittata with Fontina, Asparagus, and Tomato
  • Honey-Mustard, Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with arugula salad
  • Dessert: Raspberry Pound Cake

What We're Watching:

  • The "major death" on Modern Family was a bit of a letdown. I can see why it could be called major, but not really.
  • I think we're 6 episodes into Man in High Castle. We're having trouble finding the time to watch.
  • I have no idea when we'll be able to start the new season of Daredevil on Netflix.

What I'm Reading:

  • I finished Lethal White from Robert Galbraith. I thought it was good. I had a hard time putting it down. 
  • Lots of magazines. All the Thanksgiving issues are arriving. I like reading all the Thanksgiving recipes but I know perfectly well that where ever Thanksgiving is this year, it'll be the usual menu. No one messes with grandma's stuffing. No one messes with the pumpkin pie. There will be green beans, whether grandma's green bean salad or simply blanched & sauteed. There will be apple pie. There will be SP's bourbon cranberry sauce. Depending on how many people are at the gathering, there may or may not be rolls, there may or may not be mashed potatoes. There will be at least one roasted sweet potato. Additional dishes (vegetables, corn, cole slaw) depends on the gathering. So as much as I may want to add macaroni & cheese or tomato pudding or change up the green beans, it won't happen. No one messes with Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Pumpkin Spice Biscotti

Every August I start to get irritated with the return of pumpkin spice everything. I am just not a huge fan of pumpkin. I am good for one Pumpkin Roll and one pumpkin pie (using the Libby's can recipe) per year. And maybe one batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. SP, however, loves pumpkin. He could eat pumpkin pie in July. He found this Pumpkin Spice Biscotti recipe and wanted to try it. I wasn't very enthusiastic, but since there were also treats from Bethel Bakery in the house, I figured, why not?

We had to make our own pumpkin pie spice mix. We used this one from Taste of Home. There is some leftover, but no big deal. We saved it in a plastic container. These are easy to make and smelled really good as they baked. The end result, however, is not to my liking. My first couple bites, I liked them. But then, I didn't. In the end, I feel that these are too soft and have a weird texture. Crisping them a second time right before eating helped a bit. But not enough. Also, they're not spiced enough for me.

I could see making Pumpkin Spice Biscotti again, but not this particular recipe. I don't know if it was the recipe, or us, but we've never before had biscotti turn out this soft and unappealing. It was disappointing. Good thing it didn't make that many.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Union Standard

Last Saturday we had dinner with friends at Union Standard. It was our second time dining there and it was as delicious as the first time. Like last time, we were seated upstairs near the front windows. Here's what we enjoyed:
Drinks (from left to right):

  • Gin & Tonic (Bluecoat Gin, Red Ribbon Tonic, Orange, Thyme, Anise)
  • Pear Ginger Spritz (Stateside Vodka, Pear Nectar, Ginger Syrup, Lemon Bitters, Maraska Pear Liqueur, Prosecco)
  • Boulevardier (Sagamore Spirit Rye, Campari, Carpano Antica, Orange Zest). 

In the background is a glass of riesling. My Pear Ginger Spritz was so good. It had a slice of pear and a skewer of candied ginger.
Pickled & Deviled Eggs (bread & butter pickles, Benton's Country ham) Our friends ordered these and said they were delicious.
Crispy Smelts (smoked pepper remoulade).
Warm Potato Bread (apple butter and cultured butter).
Baby Kale Salad (pork croutons, poached egg, pickled shallots, radish, chia seeds, leek ash, buttermilk dressing, herb vinaigrette).
Bacon Wrapped Monkfish. The entire dish was different than the last time SP ordered it, only the bacon & monkfish were the same. I'm not sure what was in the bowl with the fish other than it looks like fried onions on top.
I ordered Cauliflower Schnitzel (lemon, dill, egg, warm potato salad, whole grain mustard, sour cream, green lentils). This was really tasty and more filling than I expected. I couldn't finish it (plus I knew we wanted dessert).
Dessert: Dutch Baby (apple, candied pecans, vanilla ice cream). Yum!

Tasty food, great service, relaxing atmosphere. Definitely a good place for dinner after a seeing a show at the Benedum.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

This is one of those weeks when being an adult is not much fun. One of those weeks with a 40 minute call to a health care entity. It involved those annoying touch tone systems, being incorrectly transferred by clueless reps, more clueless reps, and me not being able to return to the issue for a couple days because I was so infuriated with incompetence. That's to be expected when dealing with health care these days, and yet I allow myself to become enraged anyway.

Side note: SP recently had his own health care from hell experience. After 3-4 useless calls, he got his company's health care concierge involved (they have a guy in the office once/week to help with issues). Actual exchange:

Health insurance rep: identifies self as health insurance and tells rep to do XYZ.
Clueless rep,"I'm sorry sir. I cannot do that. Insurance mandates ABC."
Health insurance rep, "I AM the insurance. I am saying it's OK."

There's also this:
Friday night, 9 pm, we had just settled in with tea and biscotti and TV when we heard it. Sigh. At least the grill survived (we had to pull it out from under the branches on the driveway). Here's the Saturday morning view:
It's hard to tell how much damage there is because we cannot/won't use the stairs. We can see at least part of the railing is crushed:
We can't get out to the deck from the sunroom, either. Here's the view out the sliding doors to the deck from inside the sunroom:
Fortunately, the glass isn't broken. But the screen door is most likely destroyed. We're afraid to open the doors. As the giant locust tree fell, it took out a pretty big branch of the walnut tree:
That railing doesn't look so good, either. Looks like it's falling out towards the woods.

Anyway, we started a claim with the insurance (just in case we actually file). The tree guys we use came out Monday, gave us a quote, and said they probably wouldn't get to it this week. Ugh. So I spent yesterday fretting because it was quite breezy and I kept seeing the downed tree swaying on the deck. Our neighbor offered to use their chainsaw to remove it, but we are afraid of someone getting seriously hurt since it's a steep drop off down into the woods and it's hard to tell how stable the deck is. It looks like it'll be OK, but you never know. So we decided we needed the professionals with insurance and licenses. After the tree is removed, an adjuster will come out to assess the damage. We're hoping it didn't damage the shingles/gutters that are only 2 years old.

On a more positive note, the garage door work is being done later this afternoon! I'm trying to not think about the other 3-4 things we need to arrange to get fixed.

What We're Eating:

  • Sunday we visited my parents to see their new kitchen. Mom made bolognese.
  • The rest of this week: roast chicken, rice, and green beans/broccoli.
  • Dessert: Bethel Bakery cupcakes, ladylocks, tea cookies.

What We're Watching:

  • We were all set to watch more of The Man in the High Castle on Friday, but the tree excitement ruined that plan. No idea when we'll get back to it.
  • We are caught up on Manifest.
  • The usual shows. It's been a "get up early" week, so we're going to bed earlier, so we're struggling to keep up with new episodes in the 1.5 hours we have for TV each night.

What I'm Reading:

  • Magazines.
  • Lethal White from Robert Galbraith. It's the 4th novel in the Cormoran Strike series. I'm about 1/4 of the way through a very long book but so far so good even if I have no idea where it's going.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

Spiced Biscotti
Sometimes home chores are just a giant pain. We had horrible carpet on the garage floor (the previous owners were obsessed with flooring; remember our carpeted walls? ugh) and it was horrible and stained and awful. SP finally ripped it out but of course, one cannot do any home "improvement" without triggering a bunch of annoying additional issues. I call it the domino effect. Removing the carpet meant there was a gap at the bottom of the garage door. Gap means entry for critters. Thanks to our "territorial view" (woods) we have lots and lots of critters. I do not want a repeat of last March. So SP and a friend tried to put up new, thicker weather stripping but there were still gaps. So we played phone tag with a garage door company for 2 weeks. Meanwhile, I was becoming increasingly paranoid about critters getting in. Finally, today, the garage door experts came out to take a look. We should have just called the experts from the beginning. We need a new channel at the bottom of the door and new weather stripping and of course it must be sized to fit your size garage door. So they have to get the right size and come back out. But soon, I can stop fretting about critters entering through the garage door gaps.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We started Man in the High Castle Season 3 on Amazon Prime. We've watched only 2 of the new episodes. I still enjoy it, but sometimes I get confused, not just by the plot but trying to remember all the characters since it has been a while.
  • We started watching Manifest on NBC. Just the first episode so far, so we're behind. We weren't going to add any new shows, but then we decided to try this one. We liked the pilot, so I think we'll stick with it for a while.
  • We also are giving Single Parent on ABC a try. It's on after Modern Family, which we still enjoy. We're both a little unsure of Single Parent. Last night's hamster plot seemed a little too silly to me.
  • This Is Us still makes me teary.
  • I watched a movie, Tully, and it was quite good. 

What I'm Reading:
Magazines. The pile is slowly shrinking.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend we got our flu shots. It was just 2 hours before my arm was super sore. Unfortunately, I had them give me the shot in my left arm, the one I sleep on, so sleeping that night was miserable. Also, trying to clean the house on Sunday was not fun with a sore arm.

We finally acquired a new blanket, flannel sheets, goose down comforter/duvet, a duvet cover, and two king size pillows for the new (since July) bed. Appropriately sized bedding at last. Ready for winter. Of course it's been hot, too hot to use more than a sheet at night. What happened to cool fall days & nights?

Tonight is the first Penguins hockey game of the season. SP will be there so I'm on my own for dinner. Hopefully they will be more exciting to follow than the Steelers have been lately.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished American Vandal Season 2. It was just as good as Season 1.
  • We watched Won't You Be My Neighbor? I cried. A lot.
  • We started the most recent episodes of Unbelievable Kimmy Schmidt. It's still just OK, to me, but we feel obligated to watch.

What I'm Reading:

  • I read the latest Vince Flynn (Kyle Mills) novel in the Mitch Rapp series, Red War. It held my interest and was the usual. 
  • Lots of magazines. My mom dropped of a few issues of Food & Wine and Travel & Leisure, so I read those. I also read new issues of Cook's Country, Food Network Magazine, Bon Appetit, 2 issues of Pittsburgh Magazine. A busy magazine week. I still have a Saveur and 2 Smithsonian magazines to read.