Saturday, December 30, 2017

Coq Au Vin - Rooster Cooked in Wine - Drunken Rooster - Μεθυσμένος Κόκορας

In the summer of 2008 my family visited Avlonari, a beautiful Greek village. My brother and I organized it in such a way that the two families met there our mom. The second night we were there we went to a restaurant for dinner. Our mom, my brother and I were the only ones that spoke Greek. As the wait person came to let us know about the specials, I did the translating for the non-Greek speaking people. The first special was Drunken Rooster and I could not hold my loose mouth and I translated it to "Humanely Castrated Rooster Stew". Well, that was a great joke .

So, today I made this dish and you can see it on my Facebook page, What is Evan Cooking Now.

Also, I will be ending any future posts with "Evan and out!" instead of "Over and Out!"

Evan and out!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Taking a Stroll Down Memory Lane - 0001

For awhile I was whining that because I was running out of matches, I wouldn't be able to grill. My wife and I looked everywhere for the stash of matches but all of our efforts were to no avail. This morning though, while I was sitting around threatening that "without matches I cannot grill," my wife found a bag full of them. Apparently and for some strange reason we collected about 100 books of matches over the years. We went through each one and we literally took a stroll down memory lane.

This blog entry has nothing to do with food and cooking but I have to write about it because it will help me/us heal.

It was the fall of 1982. It was a good year and a bad one too. We made an unsuccessful attempt to move to Greece. As we were flying back to the US, Eileen and I had a conversation about our future. The jobs we had at the time were taking us nowhere and we decided that I had to go to college so I could get a real job afterwards. We talked about it with Miles, my brother-in-law, and he strongly recommended that I attend Erie County Community College because Kodak and IBM were recruiting from that school every year. So the decision was made to move to Buffalo, New York.

In 1982, in Buffalo the unemployment was in the 15% area. Plants: Chevy and Bethlehem Steel, were laying off people left and right and jobs were hard to come by. Since I only knew the restaurant business I started looking for a job. Finally I landed a job at Salvatore's Italian Gardens. I worked there two to three nights a week. The tips were great and the staff was very friendly. Russ, the owner, only fired me once because I failed to come to the restaurant mid-week to check the schedule and I missed going to work one very busy night. He recanted his decision and let me work there again.

I have so many interesting, but good, memories from Salvatore's. One night Lucarelli, another waiter, and I worked a large party that had ordered two bottles of Dom Perignon champagne. After the people left Lucarelli decided to take a swig from one of the bottles. A rat saw him and told the boss who wanted to fire Lucarelli. Finally, the boss came to me, because he thought I was "honest Abe," to ask me for the truth. Of course, with a straight face I said to him that Lucarelli never took a swig and the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that was the end of it.

The famous Victoria Station. My in-laws would take us there often for dinner. The restaurant's wait staff would always greet you with "Good evening, folks." My mother-in-law once gave us an open-ended gift certificate for that restaurant to order whatever we wanted. Eileen and I went there. Eileen ordered a "regular" prime rib and I ordered the engineer's cut. That was basically the whole left side of the cow. The meat was three inches thick and it was literally falling off the plate. Of course I ordered an end-cut. They had over 100 restaurants but they declared bankruptcy and now they only have one.

White Plains Diner is still around. Eileen and I would go there for burgers and fries. Good times.


The nicest, one of the most expensive restaurants in New York. You see, my in-laws were two classy people. When they asked Eileen and I about our wedding arrangements we requested a "simple" wedding and reception for the immediate family. What do you know. They made arrangements to have the wedding ceremony and reception there. The whole thing was just grand. The ambiance, the food, the service, the whole experience was just top notch and memorable.

Unfortunately, a handful of cowards flew a plane into each World Trade tower and thousands of people perished. This restaurant is no more than a wonderful memory.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Dad's Gioulbasi - Γκιούλμπασι

In the early seventies my father made a couple of times a dish called Gioulbasi. The name seems Turkish but I am not sure. My father used to compare this dish to λουκούμι, Turkish delight, because the meat was so tender. My dad would make several slits in the meat and insert a garlic clove in each. Then he would wrap a whole leg of lamb in several layers of wax paper and finally wrap that package using newspapers. He would cook it for 2 1/2 hours in the oven. This dish was mostly used as μεζέ, snack when friends and relatives would visit us.

There are several different meats you can use for this and I chose to use a combination of pork and round cubes.
I removed the wrapping material, washed and dried the pork. I used a sharp knife to cut the meat into small pieces.

The round was already cut into small pieces.

This was exciting because I was going to use my Dutch oven. Yes!

Here are my tools in front of my favorite Phelps' garlic that I used.

Here is the list of ingredients (left to right):

  • Phelps' world famous German red garlic. I used six cloves. I cut each clove in three small pieces
  • 1/3 of a cup mustard. I used two different type of mustard because the yellow one was really low
  • 6 carrots cut in large pieces
  • about a tablespoon salt. You can use more if you would like. 
  • 2 tablespoons garlic onion powder
  • one whole nutmeg ground
  • one tablespoon salt
  • two medium onions. Next time I would use five onions cut in large chunks.
  • one cut of wine. Of course I used my favorite Brotherhood Riesling.
  • two tablespoons oregano.

I love this wine...

Here is a closeup of the Phelps' German Red garlic.

I added the two different meats and ingredients in my Dutch oven and gave the whole thing a good mix.

Here it is mixed...

 I used heavy duty aluminum foil to simulate my dad's method of wrapping the meat with various paper products.

 I covered the pot...

 and used rope to tie the whole thing together.

This baby is ready to go in the oven. I cooked it for two hours in a 380° F preheated oven.

Here is the final product...

Here too...

This was a daring recipe to make because I didn't have anything in writing except memories of conversations I had with my dad. I hope I made him proud. Love ya dad!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stuffed Vegetables - A Hellenic Favourite

I was just a young lad living in Nea Smirni, Hellas being pampered by my mom, enjoying being a... mammoni. I don't know why my mom spoiled her kids so much but it's just history now. My mom would cook all these delicious foods, yelling at me that I was "all skin and bones." I was a 30 waist then. Ahhhhhh the good old days.

This is momma Toula's stuffed vegetable recipe. Keep reading.

The ingredients are as follows:
  • 1 1/2 lbs of lean ground beef. 
  • four tomatoes (large but not huge, soft but not falling apart)
  • three carrots (I added them because they are so sweet and tasty)
  • five peppers
  • five small-ish potatoes
  • 1 cup rice
  • one cup of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • some additional olive to be drizzled into the vegetables
  • some additional olive to be drizzled into the pan(s)
  • ground pepper
  • (you could add salt but I don't due to my high blood pressure)
  • some feta cheese

The tools for the job are:
  • food mill
  • vegetable peeler
  • a small ice cream scoop or a sharp spoon (I had neither)
  • one or two pans to fit all of the ingredients
Also, what in the world is that glass full of beer doing in this picture? Some day I will rant about all the pretentious youngster that surround me that know nothing about beer and the American blue collar worker.

I started with washing the vegetables.
You can use red, green, yellow or any kind of pepper you want but it will be better if you use peppers that are not tall and skinny because they will not fit nicely in the pan. You should slice the pepper near the top but not too high. Clear the inside of each pepper. Preserve the top and body of each pepper. You could leave the stem of each pepper on but it will be mostly decorative and not eatable.

I try to match the pepper with its top because you want to have the tops fit perfectly with the bottoms. Again this in not a necessity but it will look better this way.

Here is a better view of the first pepper I cut. 

 You will do the same with the tomatoes.

I should find the ice cream scoop I have because that little tool makes removing the meat of the tomato so much easier and productive. After you cut the top of the tomato you use an ice cream scooper to remove the flesh of the tomato. SAVE the flesh of the tomatoes is a large bowl. 

After you are done removing the flesh of the tomatoes use the mill to pulverize the flesh. Use the resulting juice but not the pulp left in the mill.

To brown the beef you will need a large skillet. With medium heat get the skillet hot, add the olive oil and get that nice and hot too. Then add the brown meat and "play" with it to brown it. This should take about 6-7 minutes. Add half of the tomato pulp, the chicken stock and the rice now. Stir the whole thing for about 5-6 minutes.

While the meat mixture is cooking slice the potatoes and carrots. Zoom into the following image to see the correct size for the potato. 

I start with the cut carrots and potatoes and I add into the pan(s). For some strange reason I used two small Pyrex dishes instead of just one. Oy! I added the carrots and potatoes and drizzled some olive oil in each pan. I mixed the potatoes and carrots to make sure they were nicely coated with olive oil. I used my inferior, but functional, pepper mill to add pepper to the mixture.

Now drizzle some olive oil into each vegetable and use your hand to make sure the oil covers the walls of each vegetable. Don't use more that a teaspoon for each vegetable.

I stuffed the peppers and tomatoes with the meat mixture. I have the dishes next to the meat mixture and I used a soup spoon to stuff each vegetable. Don't over stuff them because the rice will need some room to expand.

Afterwards I add a small slice of feta cheese and I cover each vegetable with its top. Here you should add the leftover tomato juice in-between the vegetables. There should be some juice in there but not a lot.

Add the dish in a preheated 380°F oven. Again, you could use one dish instead.

Cook it for 60 minutes but check it after 35 minutes to see if there is some liquid in the dish. If there isn't, add some water in the dish between the vegetables. You want some liquid to be in the dish but you don't want to boil the vegetables.

Afterwards you can serve the vegetables with a basic Hellenic salad. A Hellenic salad consists of: sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, olives, red onion, olive oil. Sprinkle some oregano and you could add a few capers too. This recipe will follow soon.

Happy eating!