Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Morel of the Story

Just imagine! A food blogger actually writing about food!

Ever since I acquired the freeze dried Morels

I have been looking for an opportunity to incorporate them in an actual dish.  In browsing one of my recipe folders “Poultry”, I came across the following

Just to show you how (a**l) retentive I am, note the date and the source at the bottom of the page, and MFO’s chef notes at the top.  Perfect!

So, we started with Phase I of the mis en place, gathering the ingredients

including the little freeze dried treasures of the forest (with the help of the Forest Glory folks)

And then prepping the ingredients for Phase II

Clockwise from nine o’clock: 
3 Tbs of (Chamisal unoaked chardonnay) white wine; 
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice; 
1 Tbs minced fresh garlic; 
1 Tbs minced fresh flat leaf parsley (from the feeder’s garden); 
Rehydrated Morels (20 minutes in water) .

Probably with a penchant for stating the obvious, I hope any alert readers that cook follow the practice of “mise en place”, before putting heat to pan, it makes it so much easier to fabricate your dish

Okay, oil and butter in pan

Add ‘shrooms and garlic and sauté until mushrooms begin to brown (MFO comment applies: 5 minutes is way too long) remove Morels from the pan 
Add the (no salt) seasoned chicken added and brown on both sides (again, 6 minutes per side is probably too long
Remove the poultry, add the wine and lemon juice, and reduce

Re-assemble dish with reserved mushrooms, add sauce, sprinkle with parsley, and…voila!  Chicken with Mushrooms!

Chef’s notes:  It was good, and we will make this dish again, but I think with the following modifications (hey! we are not perfect all the time);

Less oil and butter in pan to begin with (too long to reduce, resulting in over cooking the garlic in pan)

Pull the mushrooms earlier, they were not “succulent”; perhaps the recipe did not consider the delicate Morels, maybe thinking more along the lines of a beefier Crimini?

Possibly use a “real” split Chicken breast and not a Purdue boneless skinless one. Might be thicker and retain more juices.

That’s kind of the Joy of Cooking, execute a recipe, think of improvements, try again.  Always a learning process

and if you get your head out of the pan for a minute, you might turn and look out the window enjoying the view

Also, if you’re home you can follow your conscience as to appropriate
And you should have no trouble embracing
Bon Appétit!

PS: I am not even going to mention tomorrow is the first round of the Open Championship at Carnoustie, and once again, the media has installed T as favorite.  We shall see.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Here and There..

What a weekend for the French!  Yesterday was Bastille Day, and today the French team plays for the World Cup, the world’s most prized trophy in sports (with a trivial nod toward the Stanley Cup and the commercialized Super Bowl of (American) football), which I watch as I type (resulting in many errors)..

Been accumulating a few things to pass along, not necessarily food related, but maybe of some interest.   There’s was also three rants, which I will whittle down to two, saving the most negative one to the last, lest you stop reading. 
 Livin' on the Riiiivvvver
We start with the passing scene in our “back yard”, i.e., the Patuxent River.   Mostly we see all sorts of things, like boats

Who sometimes “raft up” and have fun
these were waiting for the fireworks on the 4th

And besides pleasure boats there are “working boats” like our friend “Miss Marleny”, a tug who lately seems to cycle between Cove Point and the river side of Town Creek.   Always pushing a load of various “stuff”, the purpose of which is not clear to this office

And we also look up to see other things plying the air thanks to nature

And man

And then above all is one of the more interesting things we can do (isn’t this riveting reading?) is watch the clouds (insert Joni Mitchell tune here).  I suppose I could somehow make a time lapse out of these, but all were taken with my feet remaining in the same space within a span of just few minutes

It’s brief life span brings to mind one of my more favorite Shakespearean quotes (from Macbeth): “life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage… and then is heard no more”
a bit dramatic perhaps, but it is something we see and will never see again.

One things the stormy kinds of clouds bring out are the avid sailors

Speaking of nature, she brought us some wonderful bounty (courtesy of our neighbor) of seasonable veggies (she has long since learned not to offer Zucchini or eggplant – it’s just me)  

Still life with vegetables

Okay, if you haven’t fallen asleep yet, we’ll dive into the cesspool of some (two) rants.

I think I’ve touched on this before, but there are now a series of commercials for Firehouse Subs that are headlined “enjoy more subs, save more lives” and of course they mean enjoy our subs.  Features some guy who claims to be a NY fireman dressed up in firefighting gear, who explains that by buying their subs, you are contributing to saving lives because a portion of each sandwich goes to their foundation to buy lifesaving equipment.  Turns out they donate 0.13 percent (.0013) per sandwich  (a five buck sandwich generates 0.0065 cents) so a sale of 1000 sandwiches would generate a whopping six and a half cents.  A million sandwiches would get 65 dollars.  That’s fine, but what really gets me is that they tell me I should eat their sandwiches purely out of patriotic duty because I want to save lives.  Not because they have a good product.

Sports - Wimbledon

Which has just concluded with Djokovic holding the championship trophy by beating a very nice kid (Kevin Anderson) in straight sets, who got there by eliminating Federer in a fantastic 5 set match, and “Djoko” reaching the final by besting Nadal in a classic match. Wonderful tennis! 

BUT then there is the Ladies side of the draw (rant begins here)

I have always admired and respected Chrissie Evert, but I have lost almost all of that after this tournament.   From beginning to end, all she did was extoll how wonderful Serena was, coming back after she had her kid, and said she should win another Wimbledon, to prove she is the GOAT. 

Well, then along comes Angelique Kerber, who beat Serena in the championship match in straight sets.  And Chrissie had the audacity to say, “well, Serena didn’t have her best game today”. Translation: the only reason Angelique won was because Serena was off that day.  Not because she played better tennis, just Serena lost it.  Sorry Chrissie, I’m off.

And somehow (he continues) Serena is now being held up as a monument to all women and mothers.  She was quoted after the match saying “to all the moms out there, I was playing for you today!  Gee, thanks Serena.  And isn’t this the same woman who told a line judge she was going to “stuff a tennis ball down your throat!”?

Okay, I’ll lay off.  There is no doubt that she is the best woman tennis player today (and yes,maybe all time), but just don’t think she deserves to be representing all mothers everywhere.   

Well, that’s all I got today, and end with the constant reminder to


Viva La France!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Sparklers and Franks and a new educational facility

First of all, happy Independence Day, the day the nation celebrates our cessation of being a British colony to our own sovereign United States of America!  We’ve lasted 242 years so far despite some rocky times in the last half of the 19th Century. But we are still the United States, although we may have strained the “united” part lately.   Anyway, today is a day to be with friends and family, stay up late enough to see the various fireworks displays, eat all American food like ribs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, and hot dogs!   Enjoy!

Frankly Speaking…
Hot dogs provide a nice segue to remembering another tradition which takes place every year on this day, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, NY.  Joey Chestnut will once again defend his title as champ.  In 2015 he ended a run of consecutive wins beginning in 2007, but regained his crown in 2016 and defended in 2017.  His current record stands at 72 dogs in the required ten minutes and will try to best that today.

Coney Island is the perfect setting for an event that is the epitome of carnival, featuring an announcer that is a show unto himself.  Kind of like the announcers for professional wrestling.  And the crowd dresses up in outlandish costumes (mimicking a hot dog, etc.). I’ll watch for the theater and the ghoulish consumption of the dogs.  Great fun..   Noon, EST/ESPN2.  There is a woman’s division but it gets no TV coverage. 

Break, break, having been conscripted by MFO to aid with food prep for tonight, I happen to get back to typing as the contest is about to start, and probably will be concluded by the time I add “DFD”.  (see footnote)

Spoiler: Miki Sudo repeats as five-time winner in the women’s division, stuffing 37 dogs in ten minutes to defeat all comers, including one time champ Sonya “Black Spider” Thomas.

Even more!
If you see this today, which I hope you do, be sure to look at the google doodle.  Taking a page from the Feeder, they elected to have a food theme.  If you click on the doodle, you’re taken to a screen of the USA, with various food items overlaid.  You click on the state of your choice (or inhabitation) and it brings up a so-called State Recipe.  Some interesting choices:  Illinois - Italian Beef; Michigan - Goulash; and some expected ones: Louisiana – Gumbo..  Have fun while it lasts!

It’s a tough job
But somebody… well you know.  Over the years associated with the local Hospital and helping with their annual “gala” in the menu selection process, I have sort of gravitated to being the “wine guy” burdened with selecting the wines for the evening.  For the past couple of years, we have gotten a selection from Mills Fine Wines (and Spirits) on City Dock in Annapolis.  I have scribbled about them before, but I will reiterate it is a great wine store, filled with interesting and “off the beaten path” wines from old and new world.  Worth a visit if you’re in the area.  Anyway, this year they sent four reds and four whites (old and new world) to the menu tasting at Ken’s Creative Kitchen also in Annapolis which I have attended for years.  Unfortunately, because of my “condition” it was a bridge too far and I missed it this year. They were, however, considerate enough to send me the wines for my home tasting.   So, I lined arranged them on our downstairs table (where the temperature always hovers around 69) and set to work.

I made sticky notes as I went, eventually with notes on each wine

Serious stuff! I won’t divulge my results.  I’ll summarize at a later date, and I may venture up to Annapolis to sample other options..stay tuned..

A New school of .....
Has appeared on the Solomons, in the location previously occupied by the venerable Bowen’s Inn which has been vacant for a while.  Completely gutted and remodeled it is now:

Housed in the lovely renovated building
As an aside, now that I have to consider entrance configurations, this is nicely thought out with (handicapped) parking right next to a gradually sloping entrance (read “no steps”!)

It is owned/operated by someone who has extensive food experience having run a catering business out of Prince Frederick called No Thyme to Cook.   I had the opportunity to view the place the other day when I attended a meeting for the upcoming Oyster Festival.  

You are greeted with one of my favorite phrases mounted behind the cooktop

The "classroom" space itself is set up to accommodate several students with their own workspace, and all can observe the instructor and cooktop with aid of a flat screen. They are also equipped to do “hands on” stuff (which I always enjoy) with small propane burners available to each station. There is a nice view of the harbor from inside as well as an outside deck behind the schoolroom.

  There is also a similar room on the second floor which I didn’t have the time to visit.  While there are other places that hold classes, this is a fully dedicated cooking school, at a level which is completely new to our area.  Several local chefs will populate the “staff”.  Oh, they also have (not pictured) a wine bar!  I am very impressed!

You can check out the details and class schedule by visiting their LINK

Footnote: Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has another jewel in his belt, by consuming 64 (not as many as last year's 72) hot dogs to his nearest competitor’s 49.

And with that, it is finally time to remind you to


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Just Stuff (with no pictures!)

Well, to paraphrase Thumper, “if you don’t have something to write about, don’t write nuthin’ at all”.   Kind of adopted that philosophy lately as my time has been taken up with a couple of events and my Rotary Club.  Being the club's secretary, I have lots of mundane “duties” to take care of, like beating dues out of the membership, collecting funds for our Charter Night (Installation of a new BOD) dinner, and so forth.

The other project we recently took on is actually related to food (or lack thereof).  There are a lot of people in St. Mary’s county that have to deal with “food insecurity”, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  They depend on agencies like the “Soup Kitchen” to provide for them.  There also are a whole lot of “food pantries” around that give out food to those in need.  Most are in the faith based community and are run out of various churches.  The pantries have to get their food from local grocers, donations, etc.  The other source of food is from two “food banks”, the Maryland Food Bank, and the Southern Maryland Food Bank.  The former is located in Baltimore, and the latter in Waldorf.  Neither “delivers”, forcing the non-profits to drive to get food, requiring trucks, volunteers, refrigeration, etc.  They get what they get, never sure of what is available.  Without going into more depth, the whole situation is a mess (which nonetheless meet a lot of needs and aid to those who need help).  Different open hours, days, etc.

So our club is setting out to open a local Food Bank here in Lexington Park, where the pantries can come and get food to distribute without driving all over.  The Maryland Food Bank has agreed to deliver food to us for two years at which point it would be hopefully self-sustainable.  We hope to engage the local pantries and churches.  Right now they all do their own thing and forming a “coalition” could help alleviate some of the hunger in the county.  Of course there are many obstacles to address and overcome, but it seems like a very worthwhile goal.

Speaking of goals
Or should I say goooooooooooooooaalllllllllll! I hope you have been able to see some of the World Cup soccer (futbol) matches.  Much drama, such as defending Champion Germany not making it out of the group stage.  Messi (soccer’s LeBron) not having a very good tournament, but just enough to scrape Argentina out of the group play and into the “Round of 16”, the surprising emergence of Croatia, the brilliant play of Rinaldo (for Portugal) is just great.  And the fans are amazing, often in costume, always singing, dancing, and having a wonderful time.  Quite refreshing..

Here we go again
Well, it seems like there is no end of people wanting to open restaurants.  You know the little place “up the road (235)” in Laurel Grove, which has been alternatively dark and open under several guises, the latest being “Zee Best Café  A stringer report gives me the info that it will now become “Granny’s Country Kitchen”.  Will provide updates as able.

Red Hen
I can’t help but comment on the recent events at The Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.  It has been open a few years, and as I recall, by a pretty well respected chef.   Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the reports of the Presidential Press Secretary being asked/directed to leave during their dinner.  As a foodie/ restaurant person, you just can’t do that!  If you open a place to the public you can’t pick and choose your customers.  You may not agree with their politics or personality, but they deserve the opportunity to enjoy a meal without being interfered with by management and asked to leave.  Very Bad. 

A sad note
Sometime within the past couple of years, I struck up a e-friendship with another Food Blogger who wrote a little newsletter called Southern Maryland Food and Drink.  It was always informative, gave objective reviews, usually in more depth than this office.  We had arranged several times to meet for lunch or wine tastings, and somehow never did.  Well, we’ll now have to meet in the big restaurant in the sky.   Don H. was diagnosed with a vigorous form of cancer maybe two months ago, and passed away just recently.  He will live on in my toasts now. 

So that’s it for now, do not forget to

And oh yeah, carry the flag for

Monday, June 18, 2018

More Mexican and Hiding Awa!

I am a bit out of my regular rhythm on these, but thought I should at least update my “Mexican” restaurant rundown to include another positive review of a new candidate . And I even am positive for once, which some readers will appreciate. And, well, I may add a little rant at the end, to keep my record clean.

South of the Border, North of Great Mills
While I sort of concentrated on the big boys in town, (and yes, I missed Salsa’s in Leonardtown for no reason other than unfamiliarity).   An alert reader notified me of another restaurant here in the midst of Lexington Park.  You know that little enclave in the little square next to the Lexington Park Cleaners which has been there forever?  There were several historical occupants of the cluster of shops, including a little “mercadito”, and once the home of “Bambino’s”, Charlie’s Deli, and others.  The place is on the corner, pretty much across from the cleaners in the corner of the buildings.  The name of the place is “El Rinconcito” which is not surprisingly translated as “little corner”.  While I have no firsthand knowledge, same alert reader has been there several times, and has enjoyed fresh ingredients, nicely presented.  While they don’t have a website their Facebook page affords a peek into their menu. It is gratifying to see there are NO enchiladas on the menu, but does contain many “traditional” dishes.  They serve breakfast through dinner and you can find such items as: Huevos Rancheros; Arroz con Pollo; Chimichangas, Taquitos; Tortas and Sopas; as well as many Quesadillas and Burritos.  Might be worth a try and a respite from dishes from the Cocina in the Sky transporting dishes to the larger guys. 

Over the river (bridge) and through the woods (houses)

to the Solomons.  Have been hearing good reports about the current occupant of the original Giovanni’s sort of off the main drag on the island, behind Carmen’s gallery.  There have been a couple of less successful attempts, but the Island Hideaway seem to have a rising following.  I wouldn’t say it is hidden away, but it is on the water of back creek.  We finally arranged to corral most of a little group that tries to convene when all the far flung members are in town.  So on father’s day, we had an 11:00 reservations at

AResized Island Hideaway 17 June 2018 wcm EL 180617 – 7471

It is freshly (?) painted and nicely kept up.  It affords a nice view of the harbor

and does offer al fresco seating as well as interior seating.  (hint: they open at 11:00 sharp and DON’T you presume to arrive before that expecting to enter).  Anyway at the stroke of the hour we were called from the patio (which was very pleasant Sunday) and shown to the table set for five.

A highlight of the whole experience was the server for our table, whose name on the check was “Charlie”.  He did an unusually good job with the table, showing up when needed, but not incessant “how is everything” intrusions. He ran down the daily specials

And took drink orders which included Bloody Mary’s, a Kendall Jackson Chardonnay (their menu omits the second “l” which the Feeder pointed out) and the Rosemary Grapefruit Crush (as an experiment – we all sampled and thought it was a bit sweet for our palate.)

The menu (which you probably can't read) offered lots of choices still kind of with an Italian bent,

but also a couple of intriguing dishes reflecting different cuisines (Adobo Pork Chop, and Shrimp and Grits).
We ordered a couple of Shrimp and Grits, Fish of the day (mahi mahi or grouper), and a Fettuccini with Chicken.
The side salads (Caesar) salad were fresh and crunchy, and entrees were nicely presented

blackened Mahi with “skatch" Corn
My Sauteed Mahi with wild rice

The Shrimp and Grits

And the chicken topped Fettuccini

 As you can see, all the dishes were appetizing and occasional checks from Charlie to see if anything was needed were few, but appropriate.

Surprisingly, the normal question (okay, a bit trite) of “did you save room for dessert?” were met with affirmative responses (indication maybe a reluctance to leave) and were rewarded with nice Crème Brulee, a “banana cream” cheesecake and a nice Key Lime pie (didn’t inquire if it came from Kim’s)

So all in all, it will find a place on the “return list” despite my initial misgivings.  Another place to give a try, Thumbs UP!

And as we were about to leave the Kalmar Nyckel came into port

I hope you are enjoying the world cup ("soccer") matches. They are fascinating.  If you saw the Portugal/Spain match, you were rewarded with what is being called one of the best matches of the World Cup, not just this one, but ANY world cup.  If seeing Rinaldo’s third goal doesn’t give you chills, I give up.  One of the late night sports talking heads, allowed as how since the USA was not involved, she might not watch.  Terrific.  Blame the poor play of the Americans, not the world cup.  Plus not only Rinaldo, but giants like Messi, Neymar are miraculous.  Would watch them over our Big Ben, and Brady.  Okay, enough of that!

And I WAS going to make a few comments on the US Open tourney and Phil’s unique putting style, but that can wait. Instead I remind you to

DFD and campaign for