Memorial Day Weekend Camping

Every year Mr. Pea and I travel to Nelson Dewey State Park in Cassville, WI to go camping with our family and friends. It is always a great time, good for some rest and relaxation, good company and good food. This past Memorial Day Weekend camping was so much fun, minus the scary thunderstorms and sticky hot days, and the dreaded mosquitoes that came out after the rain. We still had a great time and did have some really good food this weekend, as we always do. I have never went camping like Mr. Pea’s family goes camping before, they go all out with the food. It’s like going to a fine dining restaurant in the middle of nature, candlesticks and all! I thought I would share with you all some of the food that we had this weekend.

First, I would like to start off talking about our tradition for Memorial Day Camping weekend, stopping in Madison, WI to go to Ella’s Deli. If you have never been to Ella’s Deli, you should visit this top notch kosher style deli, if only just once. This place has been around since 1976, and there is a reason why it is still around today, it is SOO good! They have good matzo ball soup but they also have sweet and sour cabbage soup and chili that are pretty amazing as well. If there is one thing you go to a deli for it is corned beef, and I think you all know my feelings on corned beef, since I declared it my favorite meal on St. Patty’s Day. But this corned beef sandwich piled high on rye bread is one of my favorite things to eat hands down. If you leave room for dessert, which I never can do, they have a twelve page dessert menu to fulfill your sweet tooth! It is not just the food that makes Ella’s one of my favorite places, it is also the atmosphere of all the animated displays, nostalgic trinkets and toys from years past, and the tabletop games to keep you entertained while you wait for food. Also, if you go there during the spring, summer and fall months, no trip to Ella’s is complete without a ride on the 1927 Parker Carousel! So much fun!

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Their burgers are pretty great also and I decided to change it up a bit and get a burger instead this time.

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Until next year Ella’s 🙂

Moving on to our camping trip….

Friday Night

Friday night meal is pretty easy peasy compared to the rest of the meals served the rest of the weekend. Friday night’s dinner used to be a fish fry, but without our fisherman there to prepare the fish fry, we have relied on a camp favorite, hot dogs and brats. Mr. Pea was the hero of the night with his brand new pitch forks, this made grilling up 2 packages of brats and 1 package of delicious Nathan’s hot dogs easy as pie. I have never been a huge fan of hot dogs, until I had a Nathan’s hot dog. Really, they are the only hot dogs I will ever eat, they are the hot dogs that are served on every corner in New York and I think that is why I make an exception for these delightful dogs.

Saturday

Saturday morning started off with a delicious hearty breakfast, but with the terrible thunderstorms the night before, we got a later start then we usually do for making breakfast. We made some eggs with mushrooms, onion and left over brats and cheese with some bacon, and of course a camping breakfast wouldn’t be complete without my homemade banana bread and O & H Kringle.

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Then for lunch, it is the highlight of the camping trip, a trip to the Potosi Brewery Company. This place is delicious, they have some really great brews, my personal favorite being the Heffeweizer, Mr. Pea, being a fan of the darker brews is a huge fan of the Cave Ale. If you aren’t sure what to get there is always the sampler that Mr. Pea’s mom got that lets you try 6 of their different brews. They also have really great food at the Potosi restaurant, my favorite thing they serve is their beer cheese soup, it is hands down the best beer cheese soup I have ever had. They also have some great fish (caught fresh locally), burger, barbeque and salads, anything I have had off their menu has been absolutely delicious! Also, a trip to Potosi wouldn’t be complete without checking out their National Beer Museum and Art gallery across the street. This great place located in the middle of nowhere, is one of my favorite places to visit.

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And if you weren’t full yet from breakfast and lunch, saving room for dinner is a must. Because dinner for Saturday night is grilled tenderloin, steamed asparagus, red potatoes with parsley and my contribution to the food a delicious Crunchy Romaine Toss Salad, of course. Dinners for camping are usually pretty fancy, candles and all, it is like you are fine dining in the middle of nature.

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Crunchy Romaine Toss

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Salad

1 1/2 Cups chopped broccoli

1 bunch of romaine, torn

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 Cup walnuts

1 pkg ramen noodles, broken

2 tablespoons of butter

Discard the seasoning packet for the ramen noodles. In a skillet, saute noodles in butter until golden. In a large bowl combine noodles, walnuts, broccoli, romaine and onions. Drizzle with the dressing before serving.

Dressing

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1/4 Cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sal and pepper and shake well.

Sunday

Sunday’s breakfast was extra special this year, we made some blueberry pancakes, eggs bacon and had some fruit on the side. Blueberry pancakes are my favorite, and these were great!

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We had some left over salad from the night before and snacks for lunch, but for dinner we had Grilled Chicken, Spaghetti with a meat sauce and a tossed salad.

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To beat the rain in the morning we packed up really early and left to go home, but all in all I would say it was a successful camping trip, and I can’t wait to go back next year.

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

So I think it is no secret by now that Mr. Pea loves Mexican food.  So  do you think it was any question that we had to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the best way possible, a Mexican fiesta of course!  We have been planning this for a while, and have been really excited to share our cooking skills with our friends.  The fiesta was a blast we had so much fun and the food turned out great! I think we will definitely have to have  another fiesta next year!

The first thing I want to talk about is the tequila we had, it is called Clase Azul and is the best tequila I have ever had! Mr. Pea brought this bottle  back  from Arizona were it is the only place we have found they sell it in the US. They come in hand painted bottles  and each bottle is unique to its own.  I am surprised  that  this bottle has lasted this long, you would  think that too if  you knew  how much Mr. Pea and I love tequila.  We agreed  when we got it though that we would only drink it on special occasions.  But don’t  put this in your margaritas, this is the kind of tequila that  you sip on and enjoy on the rocks, because it is that good.  For making margaritas  make sure you use any kind of clear 100% agave tequila, we used Camarena tequila. As for shots,  I wouldn’t use  the Camarena, I would  suggest using patron or a bottle of 1800.

Tequila

So we started off  with some chips, salsa, guacamole and Ben’s signature Margaritas.  We  made two different kind of salsas, the first one was the tomatillo salsa that  I have shared the recipe for in an earlier post. The second was a  Chipolte  salsa  that was so good that I blinked and it was gone, so unfortunately have no photo of it, but no worries I  will share the recipe.

Mr.Pea’s Signature Margaritas

Ingredients:

(serves 4)
3/4 Cup(s) juice (3 large limes) lime
6 Tablespoon(s) sugar
1 Cup(s) plus 2 tbs tequila blanco
1/4 Cup(s) cointreau
1 1/2 Cup(s) small ice cube

Directions:
Make limeade
Combine the lime juice, sugar and 1 cup water in a glass or plastic pitcher. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away (but no longer than 24 hours).

Finish and serve margaritas
Add the tequila and orange liqueur to the pitcher of limeade. Rub the rims of 6 martini glasses with a lime wedge, then dip them in a dish of coarse salt. In a large shaker, combine the half of the margarita mixture with half of the ice and shake 10 to 15 seconds, then strain into the prepared glasses. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Chipolte Salsa

Ingredients:

1 Can(s) 14oz with juices diced tomatoes

3 Clove(s) peeled, halved garlic

3 chipotle chiles en adobo

1/2 Teaspoon(s) mexican oregano

2 Tablespoon(s) apple cider vinegar

1 rehydrated Gaujillo chile (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes), stem and seed

1 rehydrated Ancho chile  (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes), stem and seed

* * Note: You can also  use the water used to rehydrate the chiles  to stir into the salsa  to reach the desired consistency.

Directions:

In a food processor or blender, combine, the tomatoes, garlic, chiles, oregano and vinegar. Process until smooth. Pour into a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in enough water to reach desired consistency. Taste and season highly with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cool, pour into a bottle and refrigerate until needed.

 ** Note: This recipe  can also be thinned out to use as a steak marinade or steak sauce. If used for this,  adding water more water is necessary, to give the sauce the consistency of steak sauce and/or marinade.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

-Frontera Guacamole Starter mix

-1 red onion

-lime juice (this is what keeps it green, not  the pit which most people think)

-cilantro

-4-5  ripe avacados ( The way  to tell if an avacado is ripe is to push with your thumb and if it is soft but not too soft then it it is perfect for making guacamole)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and mash with a potato masher  and enjoy!

We then  decided  to make two different tacos, we each decided to make one. I  decided to make a New Mexican Chicken Taco with Black Beans and a Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa. While Mr. Pea made a Chile Braised Pork Shoulder Taco with Pickled Red Onions.

New Mexican Chicken Taco with Black Beans and a Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa

Ingredients:

(serves 12)

-2 Packets of Rick Bayless’s Frontera  New Mexico Taco Skillet Sauce  (with roasted tomato and mild red chile)

– 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

– 2 teaspoons of chipolte seasoning ( I used Penzeys chipolte seasoning)

-1 cup of water

Put all the ingredients into a crockpot, give it a little stir to blend the seasoning with the skillet sauce and water. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours ( I think low and slow is always the better choice). When done, the chicken should shred easily when stirred with a fork and/or tongs. When done , to assemble taco heat taco shell in a cast iron skillet, spread a little bit of black beans , place the chicken on top of the beans and then top it off with the Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa.

Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa

2  oranges, segmented and chopped

1/2 cup of pineapple

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeno, chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

pinch of salt

**Note:  I usually make this salsa  with blood oranges instead of regular oranges, but they are no longer in season :(.  I usually  use this with fish tacos or even some grilled fish that we make, it makes a good topping for seafood!

Chile Braised Pork Shoulder with Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients:

(makes 20 tacos)

•    2 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
•    4 medium dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
•    1/3 cup Lime Juice
•    1/3 cup Orange Juice
•    1/3 cup Olive Oil
•    1 chipotle chile en adobo
•    1 jalepeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
•    2 bay leaves
•    2 tablespoons cider vinegar
•    1/2 small white onion, roughly chopped (plus a few thinly sliced rings for garnish)
•    3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
•    1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
•    1 teaspoon dried thyme
•    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
•    Pinch of ground cloves
•    1 1/2 tablespoon pork lard or bacon drippings
•    1/2 teaspoon table salt (plus more to taste)
•    3 pounds, boneless pork shoulder
•    Warm corn tortillas
•    Sour cream, hot sauce, pickled red onions, thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
•    Place the dried chiles in a small bowl, cover with very warm water and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving 2/3 cup of the soaking liquid, then transfer the rehydrated chiles and the reserved liquid to a blender.
•    Pulverize the bay leaves in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and add them to the blender along with the vinegar, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, jalepeno, allspice and cloves.  Process to a smooth puree, adding water if needed to keep the mixture moving through the blades.  Press through a medium mesh strainer into a bowl.
•    Set a large, 6-quart pot with a lid over medium-high heat and add the pork lard.  When very hot and almost smoking, pour in the puree and stir constantly until it sears, concentrates and darkens into a spicy-smelling paste, about 5 minutes.  Remove the pot from heat and season the sauce with salt.
•    Preheat the oven to 325°.  Cut the pork shoulder into slabs about 3-inches thick.  Lay the meat into the pot with the chile paste, then flip it over to cover evenly, spooning on more sauce over the top to coat the pork well.  Pour 1/2 cup water around the meat, cover tightly and place in the oven.  Roast for 2 1/2 hours, basting the meat every 30 minutes with the liquid and rendered fat that accumulates.  If all of the moisture evaporates, feel free to add more water to the plan to allow you to continue basting. Let the pork rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.
•    Shred or pull the meat apart into-bite size pieces using two forks.  Toss the meat to incorporate any of the leftover chile braising liquid, check for seasoning and add more salt to taste.
•    Place the chile pork in a warm bowl and serve alongside the warm corn tortillas.  Have your guests assemble their own tacos, adding their own garnishes to taste.

Pickled Red Onions
•    1 Red Onion, thinly sliced
•    ¼ tsp Pepper
•    ¼ tsp Cumin
•    ¼ tsp Mexican dried oregano
•    ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
•    ¼ tsp Salt
•    1/3 cup Cider vinegar
•    2 tbs Lime Juice

•    Blanch the onion slices in salted, boiling water for 45 seconds, then drain and place in a medium container.

•    Combine Lime juice, vinegar and remaining spices then pour over the onions. Add enough water to cover the onions, stir well.

•    Let stand for several hours until onions are bright pink. Covered and refrigerated, these onions will last several weeks.

We also made two side dishes Green Poblano Rice (Arroz Verde al Poblano) and Refried Black Beans.

Green Poblano Rice (Arroz Verde al Poblano)

Ingredients:

(makes 4 servings)

1 2/3 cups chicken broth or water

2 fresh poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed, and roughly chopped

12 sprigs cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon if using salted broth, 1 teaspoon if using unsalted or water

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

1 cup rice, preferably medium grain

1 small white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

 Directions:

-In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the broth and chiles, bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer gently over medium to medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the chiles are very soft. Pour the chile mixture into a food processor, add the cilantro (stems and all), and process to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl and stir in the salt.

-The rice: Wipe the pan clean, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the rice and onion, and cook, stirring regularly, until the rice is chalky looking and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.

-Add the warm (or reheated) chile liquid to the hot rice pan, stir once, scrape down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and check a grain of rice: It should be nearly cooked through. If the rice is just about ready, turn off the heat, re-cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes longer to complete the cooking. If the rice seems far from done, continue cooking for 5 minutes or so, retest, then turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes longer. Fluff with a fork, scoop into a warm serving dish, decorate with cilantro sprigs and it’s ready to serve.

Re-fried Black Beans

Ingredients:

-2-3 can of black beans

-1 tablespoon pork lard

-1 tablespoon Penzeys Arizona Dreming seasoning

Directions:

Heat on medium heat and mash with potato masher,  when beans are mashed  and  heated through, stir  and they are ready to serve.

And  we couldn’t leave dessert off the menu, it’s my favorite part (well the baking and decorating part!)

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Cupcakes-makes 24

 1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix 1 cup bottled strawberry margarita or daiquiri mix1/3 cup vegetable oil1/4 cup tequila3 egg whites or whole eggs Frosting1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar (4 cups)

2 teaspoons of heavy whipping cream

2 to 3 tablespoons bottled strawberry margarita or daiquiri mix

 Garnish

12 slices lime, each cut in half

 HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO EVERYONE! 🙂

Matzo Ball Soup

Ever since I mentioned Ella’s Deli on a previous post, I have been craving matzo ball soup! It just so happens that Mr. Pea stumbled upon a fantastic recipe that perfected the recipe for matzo ball soup this past week. Perfect! We are two peas in a pod that’s for sure!

Well I couldn’t give you the recipe for matzo ball soup without talking about some of my favorite kosher style deli’s that I have been to that are not only great but are worth the trip! The first place I already talked about, and will talk about again because it is one of my favorite places, is Ella’s Deli. This kosher style deli is located in Madison, Wisconsin and is a stop we have to make every year on the drive out to Memorial Day camping. This place has been around since 1976, and there is a reason why it is still around today, it is SOO good! They have good matzo ball soup but they also have sweet and sour cabbage soup and chili that are pretty amazing as well. If there is one thing you go to a deli for it is corned beef, and I think you all know my feelings on corned beef, since I declared it my favorite meal on St. Patty’s Day. But this corned beef sandwich piled high on rye bread is one of my favorite things to eat hands down. If you leave room for dessert, which I never can do, they have a twelve page dessert menu to fulfill your sweet tooth! It is not just the food that makes Ella’s one of my favorite places, it is also the atmosphere of all the animated displays, nostalgic trinkets and toys from years past, and the tabletop games to keep you entertained while you wait for food. Also, if you go there during the spring, summer and fall months, no trip to Ella’s is complete without a ride on the 1927 Parker Carousel! So much fun!

The next place I want to talk about is one of our local favorites Benji’s Deli. Formerly, known as Benjamin’s (which is neat, because Mr. Pea’s name is Benjamin), this kosher style deli is a family favorite, and most of our family dinners take place here. I just have to say, I have NEVER had a bad meal at Benji’s and I have been going there for years! It has been around for 35 years or so, so they must be doing something right. Oh yeah everything! Best known for their corned beef served on Miler Rye, a local bakery that makes the best rye bread I have ever had. If in the corned beef mood, I usually steer towards their take on a Ruben sandwich, the Gonzo sandwich. What is a Gonzo? It is for those people who don’t favor sauerkraut. That’s right I am just going to say it, I HATE sauerkraut! Sorry for my bluntness, getting back the sandwich, the Gonzo is a corned beef sanwich, with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, thousand island dressing and Cole slaw, served on Miller’s rye bread. It is the best, and it has all of the good stuff from a Reuben and none of that awful kraut!

I hate to even mention this next place, because I just found out (only a few minutes ago) that a few months ago when I last went to this deli, was the last time I will EVER get to go, because it is CLOSED! To add more sting to the open wound we were (ironically enough) there on their last day of service! My heart just dropped when I read this, we were even planning a trip to go back for Mother’s Day, it is a sad day when a good place like this becomes another victim of the recession. Well in effort to let this next place live on after it has closed, I must tell you all about it. It is called George’s What’s Cooking Family Restaurant and was located in Waukegan, Illinois. I loved this place for their bread baskets alone. No matter what time of the day you go, you get a fresh bread basket stocked full of all kinds of fresh bread, crackers and bread sticks. Also, if I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a huge pickle fan! But I don’t like just any pickle, they have to be whole kosher style dill pickles, other pickles simply just do not compare! This place had some good pickles. They also are known for their corned beef, soups (sweet and sour cabbage soup, matzo and borscht), and their American diner food was excellent as well. Anything I had there, had been well amazing! Well I will always remember George’s and it surely will be missed.We had some great memories there that I will look back on, including a brunch for Mother’s Day with Mr. Pea’s late grandmother, Grandma B.

So if that sad story didn’t didn’t make you hungry for some Matzo Ball soup, I don’t know what will.

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MATZO BALL SOUP
serves about 6 people (makes 14 balls)

Ingredients for the soup:
2 chicken thighs (skin on!)
8 cups chicken stock (low-sodium, organic if possible)
2 cups small diced carrots
1 cup small diced celery
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley stems

Ingredients for the balls:
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat (melted and cooled slightly)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup matzo meal
4 egg whites

Directions:

Place the chicken thighs in a cold pan, skin-side down, over medium heat. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes until the fat has rendered and browned. Remove from the pan, leaving the fat behind. Combine the stock and browned thighs in a soup pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 30 minutes. Remove the thighs. Add the carrots, celery and parsley stems. Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, chicken stock, chicken fat (from the pan with the thighs), parsley and salt. Stir in the matzo meal. In another bowl, whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks. Add half of the whites into the matzo mixture and stir (the mixture will be quite stiff). Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

ImageBring a pot of water to a boil. Use a 1/4-cup scoop to form the balls and drop gently into the water

ImageAdjust the heat so the water is barely simmering and cook for 15 minutes, when they float to the top that is good it means they will be light and fluffy.

ImageRemove the balls with a slotted spoon and place into the soup.

ImageHeat gently for 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

So, Mr. Pea and I had very busy weekend this past Easter holiday. We usually have busy holidays  because we have many places to go and people to see, and there is always so much to do and so little time in the day to do it.  I am not complaining, Mr. Pea and I had a great weekend with family and friends, I just feel like I was in a tornado and spit out the other side  from how much we did in such a little time. In fact Mr. Pea didn’t even wake me up this morning for our morning workout and let me sleep in, and I actually did  for once! We usually wake up at 5:30am to workout every morning on the weekdays and so my internal clock usually doesn’t let me sleep past 6:00am!  I was so grateful to catch up on some zzz’s.

Anyways I know we left off talking about  how I was going to  dye eggs with Mr. Pea’s mom. We had so much fun, sometime it is just nice to just hangout and let your inner child come out! We definitely had a plethora of eggs to dye.  I made a dozen and a half and so did Mr. Pea’s mom.  It was especially  nice, because we got everyone involved, even Mr. Pea!  I will have to show you some photos below of some of our favorite creations.

The creativity just doesn’t flow without happy hour and a full belly. So I had brought up one of my favorite salsas that Mr. Pea makes. It is a tomatillo salsa and makes a great salsa for  an appetizer,  you can add an avacado to it and blend it in a food process or and make a avacado-tomatillo spread for a torta or a grilled chicken sandwich, it also makes a great salsa for tacos, or even to on top of fish for a burst of flavor.

So after a couple of beers and some salsa  we decided to order a pizza from one of the best pizza places in Racine county. The place is called Infusino’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, this restaurant has a couple of locations in Racine, but we went to the one located at 3225 Rapids Drive in Racine. This pizza is one of Mr. Pea’s top favorite places for pizza. The first being a place in Ocean City, New Jersey on the boardwalk called Preps Pizzeria & Dairy Bar and the second being my homemade pizza that I make, that I will surly have to share with you all. Infusino’s  is the pizza Mr. Pea grew up eating and reminds him of his childhood. A good choice since we were all sort of letting our inner child come out for egg dyeing.

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients:
1/2 Pound(s) husked, rinsed tomatillo
1 stemmed jalapeno pepper
2 Clove(s) peeled garlic
1/2 Bunch(s) cilantro
1/4 chopped white onion

Directions:
Roast the tomatillos, chile(s) and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, until blotchy black and softening (they’ll be turning from lime green to olive), about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side. Cool, then transfer everything to a blender, including all the delicious juice the tomatillos have exuded during roasting. Add the cilantro and 1/4 cup water, then blend to a coarse puree. Scoop into a serving dish. Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon.

Enjoy!

Now for a little egg dyeing display of our creations:

ImageTurtle in his shell

ImageMr. Pea’s Mexican guy

ImageWe tried Tye Dyeing eggs and used glitter too!

ImageMr. Pea’s crazy Easter Bunny

ImageIn lieu of Opening Day, Mr. Pea’s mom made a baseball, she makes one every year, and it wouldn’t be Easter without the baseball egg!

ImageIn honor of Mr. Pea’s late grandmother we called Grandma B.

ImageFishy

ImageKitty! It’s Peaches, Mr. Pea’s kitty.

ImageMr. Pea and I  both made penguins! Can you guess whose is whose?

Happy Easter Everyone!

French Onion Soup

This next  post is probably one of my favorite things to eat-French Onion Soup! I love french onion soup, I never did as a kid though, I hated onions I would just eat the melted cheese and leave the rest. Now, that is just simply CRAZY to not enjoy the rest of the soup!

I never realized how many onions it takes to make french onion soup, I was crying for days! Not really, I am actually pretty good about chopping onions  without shedding a tear,  but not this many onions! It was delicious! Almost as good as my favorite french onion soup at the Jackson Grill in Milwaukee.

Let me just say if  you have never been to The Jackson Grill in Milwaukee, this place it is hands down my favorite restaurant! My mouth is watering just thinking about it, even though  Mr. Pea and I were just there for Valentine’s Day.The Jackson Grill is our special place  for Valentine’s Day every year. It is located 3736 West Mitchell Street  Milwaukee, WI 53215 it only has  like 10 tables or so, so MAKE A RESERVATION!!!

They have the best french onion soup I have ever had, but  I can never decide  between the french onion or the just as amazing lobster bisque, you choose either  you are in for a treat! They have amazing Valentine’s Day specials including seafood, but since we travel to the east coast each year the seafood just does not compare  and this  restaurant is a steakhouse,  so get a steak!  I usually get the Black Angus Filet Mignon a la Portabella with natural au jus 6 oz.  with garlic mashed potatoes (must get the garlic mashed potatoes, I repeat get the garlic mashed potatoes!)  Mr. Pea usually gets Black Angus New York Strip a la Portabella with natural au jus 16 oz. with garlic mashed potatoes (smart man!) which is just as good, it just depends on the cut of meat you like.

I can not stress enough that you MUST save room for dessert!  It is our Valentine’s Day tradition to share a dessert, and my favorite is their  Napoleon with Fresh Strawberries, it is to die for!  I dream about this dessert all year long, it is that good! It is made of a flaky puff pastry, layered with fresh strawberries, a silky pastry cream and a fluffy whipped cream. This meal at the Jackson Grill is my perfect meal, you must try it!

Anyways getting back to the French Onion Soup that I made, I adapted it from the book The Joy of Cooking. This book is the best, Mr. Pea and I got it for Christmas  some years ago and it has transformed our cooking skills  and the food we create in our kitchen forever.  If  you don’t know how to cook or  you are just learning, it will give you the basics you need  to cook just about anything.

Check it out the book  Joy of Cooking and this adapted French Onion Soup recipe!

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French Onion Soup
(Adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

Heat in a soup pot over medium-low heat until butter is melted:
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Add and stir to coat:
5 medium onions, thinly sliced
Pinch of dried Thyme
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and keeping an eye on the onions so they do not scorch. As soon as  they start to brown, about 15 minutes, reduce the heat to medium -low and continue to cook, covered, stirring, until they are a rich brown , about  40 minutes.

Stir in:
1/4 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until the Vinegar has evaporated and Balsamic is thicker.

Stir in:
3 1/2 Cups Beef Stock
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Season with:
1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place oven safe soup bowls on a baking sheet. Ladle the hot soup into the bowls  top with chopped toasted breadcrumbs and 3 Tablespoons Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese.

Enjoy!