I enjoy a good pun as much as the next person so today I thought I would share a recipe for my Greek “Poutine” with Roasted Fries, Thyme Gravy and Feta Cheese I will be making next week on a local television program. Yes, Dear Readers, it’s time for fancying up a a homey dish; it’s time for Poutine on the Ritz. (Wink. Wink.) To create this recipe, I channeled my travels to the Greek island of Samos where thyme grows wild on the hillsides and I gathered some while climbing to Pytagoria’s Cave with my daughter Alyssa and lovely cousin Toula.
(Don’t be quick to add too much salt to either the meat or the gravy because if you add too much you can’t take it out.)
Mary’s Kitchen Greek “Poutine” with Roasted Fries, Thyme Gravy and Feta Cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour, roasted
2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 spring fresh thyme
Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds Russet potatoes (3-4 medium potatoes) cut into 1/2” wedges and roasted at 375° for 20 minutes
1/2 pound cooked shaved beef or thinly sliced London Broil, cooked (optional)
Minced fresh thyme to garnish
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Prepare the gravy: In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Sift in the roasted the flour to the pot and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns golden brown.
Add the broths and thyme and bring to the boil, stirring with a whisk. Whisk in the cornstarch and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with pepper to taste. Finish the sauce with 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Make ahead and re-warm or keep warm until your fries are ready.
To Plate the Poutine: Add your roasted fries and cooked beef to a large, clean bowl. Add a ladle of hot gravy to the bowl and using tongs, toss the fries in the gravy. Add more gravy, as needed to mostly coat the fries. Top with feta cheese, fresh, minced thyme and a dash of black pepper. Serve.
So it turns out there are “rules” to being a culinary judge. I have narrowed them down to two; do not show your reaction about a dish to the audience and NO double dipping. The second rule is probably more important than the first, at least to the judges. It sounds silly to have to tell adults not to double dip but apparently there are reasons for rules. I have to suspend my reservations about eating “public” food as a judge but did not consider a need to suspend my expectations for basic cleanliness. It is difficult eating from the same plate as others but more so if you think you’re sharing more. I did find the used spoon of a fellow judge on a dessert I still had to taste which elicited deep breathing and forced me to triumph over adversity. You see, Dear Readers, rules (and deep breathing) are apparently required after all.
Yesterday, I had my first experience as a culinary judge at a fair. I have judged several contests before but this was my first fair. It was really fun! The most difficult aspect of judging was separating my cooking taste preferences from what I was sampling. I tried to judge not just on whether or not I liked a certain flavor combination but whether or not the cake was baked correctly and if it met all the “checkboxes and “requirements “to be a winner. When a cake fell short, I knew exactly why and wished I could have helped the contestant to improve their recipe and technique. As in any contest, there are always winners and losers. I have several more contests yet to judge in the coming days so that means only one thing, Dear Readers, let there be yoga, lots of yoga. Let me wake up early, workout, eat carefully all day (dining on salads and low-carb options) and then, let there be MORE yoga!
Like so many hopeful mothers the days leading up to the first week of school, I went grocery shopping. I purchased fresh fruits and whole grain cereals and crackers. I bought sliced deli meats and a variety of breads and cheeses. I packed reusable containers of healthy desserts and even made hummus to be eaten with crunchy heirloom carrots I harvested over the weekend. All this to no avail, the potato chips were the first snack eaten after a busy school day. The bananas ignored and becoming over-ripe, the strawberries nearing their “time” and the lettuce beginning no wilt. What to do? What to do? Yep. Mash it, mix it and bake it.
I recently opened my refrigerator and repurposed all my leftovers into new and scrumptious dishes; so, it’s time to get creative. Here are a few suggestions to get you started and your refrigerator and counters emptied:
How about Nut Butter Banana Bread studded with fresh strawberries. What about lettuce wraps with matchstick carrots and celery chips? I think crispy lunch meat with cheese and crackers is a better alternative to potato chips, don’t you? Well, here’s hoping.
Today, my husband, Russell, and I spent a few hours digging for gold in our garden. Digging for golden potatoes that is to say. Russell, pitchfork in hand, me gloved, basket in hand and fully prepared for the sunburn, scratches and bug bites, finger-sifted through the dirt and rubble in search of the precious and peppery misshapen little orbs. Here a treasure there a treasure. Here an anthill there a mosquito, spider or wasp. It’s all in a days work and well worth the effort and aching back.
Here is what I did:
Boil the scrubbed potatoes until they are nearly tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot, Knock them about a bit and return the pot to the stove as you heat goose or duck fat on a rimmed sheet pan at 450°. Tip the potatoes onto the hot fat and bake until golden and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, turning or shaking halfway through baking.
I just returned from filming a couple of cooking segments at a local news station with segments focusing on back to school breakfast and lunch ideas. It was lights, camera, action before I had a chance to say, ‘have a great day.’ I really enjoy cooking on camera and thanks to our youngest daughter, Mia, the set looked great. We collected vintage lunch boxes and purses, tins and containers that would be fun to pack and bring lunches to school or work in each day. I offered suggestions for foods and packable meals to take students through their busy days and help to ease the stresses of office work. My goal was to show how easy it is to eat and pack fresh and healthy meals while keeping things fun and interesting. Nailed it!
Today is the last day before school starts and the first high school football game of the season. That means today is our daughter Mia’s last day to sleep late and eat lunch for breakfast. I made Mia Garden Tomato and Basil Pasta (with some added pork loin). You see, Dear Readers, Mia will only eat pasta if there is sauce on it. Lucky me! Lucky me! Mia also wakes up on a school day about an hour before she begins the morning countdown of our three block drive to school. There is no time in the mornings to eat much else besides cereal or possibly toast. Mia and I do not spend much time together on school mornings and that is for the best. I am a “morning person” and she is decidedly not. I am a pleasant angel and she is decidedly not. I am easy to get along with before 7:00 am and she is decidedly not. Get the picture? Anyway, here is what I did:
Poured about 1 cup half and half into a pan, added some chopped garden tomatoes and let the two simmer 5 minutes. In went some torn pork and a few handfuls of pasta. I tossed it together and topped it with julienned basil. Bliss!
According to livestron.com, it takes the average person about an hour to burn off 100 calories. The amount of calories burned per hour increases exponentially based on a person’s weight. That said, I am in big trouble, Dear Readers. Starting next week, I will be a culinary judge at several dessert events at a local fair. Even if I eat one bit of each dessert, which is the plan, I still end up eating at least one piece of dessert per event. I love to work out but the prospect of facing 10 hours or more of expertise is a little daunting. What to do? What to do? Eat cake of course and do my best to reduce my carb intake before the fair of course. Since that will probably not work, there is always the second alternative, just go for it and enjoy. I hope The is middle ground.
I had a rough evening, Dear Readers, so today I don’t have the energy to face cooking; still, I have a family that needs to be fed. What to do? What to do? Feed my family of course! I’m tired not heartless! I gathered some fresh and yummy ingredients at the store and put them together to make:
Fresh strawberries on greens with sandwiches made of sliced London broil, Gorgonzola and apple layered on fresh ciabatta bread, warmed slowly until it becomes toasty and melty. Easy and yummy.
It’s time to gather school supplies, hunt down the water bottles and finally clean last year’s lunch box. It’s time for brushing up your school time breakfast and lunch making skills, Dear Readers. Make no mistakes and start the school year off right. Right? Right!
Okay, okay, stop laughing and let’s talk shop. School breakfasts and lunches can get boring pretty quickly so I thought I would share some ideas for keeping (or making) things fun.
Banana bread and peanut butter sandwiches.
Eggs with crispy pan toast cooked in olive oil.
Sweetened pan toast with ricotta cheese and a light drizzle of honey.
Nut of seed butter on whole grain bread with sliced fruit on top instead of jam.
Hummus with veggies
Cottage cheese and herb dip (whirl cottage cheese in the food processor a few seconds and it becomes creamy)
Drain plain yogurt and add what you like be that dried fruit or herbs and garlic and serve with whole grain flat bread.
Tip: pack multiple bags/containers of assorted crackers and cookies to save time and have fruits washed and ready
Pack a little note to let your child know they are loved.
Please share your ideas and tips in the comments section.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor