Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire

RICE KRISPEE CAKE

Well, it was birthday time again at work and this time we decided to do something easy…Baker’s Day.  We did cookies, cakes and treats.  I did some of the treats…Rice Krispee Treats!   Sunday morning found me melting bag after bag of marshmallows in a saucepan with butter and pouring it over Rice Krispee-type store brand cereal.  Quickly stirring to combine as the mass immediately forms a sticky ball in the bowl and dumping inyo pans and forming with water-coated hands.

A favorite of my friends at work was the Fruity Pebble treat.  This is your basic Rice Krispee treat where 40% of the cereal is Fruity Pebbles.  Oh, my – as my friend Joe said, inspired.  I once made a 100% Fruity Pebble Treat – it was so sweet it was like sticking your face in a sugar bowl.  So, I’ve found it’s best to cut it by over half.  Just right.

This time I felt the need to try something new.  Something I never tried before – a Rice Krispee cake. 

RICE KRISPEE CAKE

For each layer:

  • 7 Cups of Rice Krispees
  • 10 oz bag of Marshmallows
  • 3 Tbls. Butter

Place the Rice Krispees in a large bowl.  Melt butter in large saucepan and add the marshmallows.  As soon as marshmallows start to melt, start stirring and continue until all of the marshmallows are melted.  Quickly pour over the cereal and equally as quickly stir – the mass will quickly (notice a pattern here?) form a ball.  Drop mass into a well greased 9” cake pan and press with wet hands to spread evenly.  Repeat with second pan and let cool.

cake1

Flip pans and frost like a normal layer cake. 

cake2

It was better than you think.

cake3

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Dessert | 1 Comment

EGGS

Lurking around some of my friend’s blogs, I discovered one of them had a picture of a half-dozen eggs from a local farm.  I then remembered I had just received two dozen of the best eggs in the world!  My parents, three hours away in the hills of Western Massachusetts, have access to the very best eggs I have ever had.  Coming from the small flock (group? gaggle? school?) of chickens from the mysterious “Heidi”, these eggs are….oh, boy….they’re….they’re just really good!  The yolks are a rich, deep orange – nothing like the pale yellow eggs you buy in the supermarket.  And the flavor!

Search out fresh eggs – sure, some will be brown, some will be white and some will be pale blue, maybe even green.  Also, some will be HUGE, some will be small and some will be just like Baby Bear’s – just right.  But, they will also be better and more likely than not, not coming from tortured chickens (where’s Eric Holder when we REALLY need him, huh?)

eggs

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Random Blather | 2 Comments

GRILLED/TOASTED CHEESE SANDWICHES

I’m back.  Maybe the two most common words on Mel’s Diner, but…well, whatever…  I’ve had great plans to post…I’ve even said to myself, “Dude!  You need to post!…Gosh!”  And still, I didn’t.  Mostly it’s because I got out of the habit of posting.  Hence, Mikey has a crappy blog.

So, I’m back.  I didn’t quite know what to post about, so I thought I’d have a snack while I thought about it.  My snack?  A Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Here, in New England, a Toasted Cheese Sandwich.  Here, in the Mulholland house, A Toasted Cheese Sandwich also has thin, sliced green peppers.  Many (OK, few) of you will remember this sandwich is the single dish that introduced me to a fun and, now pregnant, girl in Canada we all know as Sara from iliketocook.  I’d link back to that blog post, but it’s one of the many lost on Clearblogs.

What’s in a Toasted Cheese Sandwich?  Well, it’s two slices of white bread, a Wonder-type, bread, buttered.  Two slices of American Cheese, the plastic-wrapped type and a few slices of Green Bell Pepper – the salad-type.  Layer bread, cheese, pepper, cheese and bread.  Butter both outside end’s of the bread.  Fry in a pan, flip and fry the other side.  No magic.  That’s it.

grilledcheese 

Oh, it’s good!  Really, really good.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Main Dish | 2 Comments

PHONES AND FOOD

Does this really have anything to do with food?  I guess not, I suppose it could if Michael Symon needed some quick advice about bacon ice cream and called me, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen soon. 

I will be getting a new phone for the kitchen (the downstairs phone).  This phone will have something the kids just can’t wrap their minds around – a cord!  Twice today, I had both of our cordless phones within a foot or two each other – upstairs!

phones

August 13, 2009 Posted by | Random Blather | Leave a comment

SALSAS

While at the bookstore last week I picked up a little book in the sale section called The Great Salsa Book.  I like salsa and I think I make a pretty good basic Tomato Salsa Fresca.  This weekend, on a whim I thought I would try the first recipe in the book, Tomatilla Salsa Verde.  I’ve never really had a green salsa, living in New England and all, but I thought what the heck, let’s give it a shot. 

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb tomatillos
  • 3 Serrano chiles with seeds (I had Jalapenos, so I used them)
  • 3/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 tbls. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Preparation:

Husk & rinse the tomatillos. Coarsely chop them & place them in a food processor or blender. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor & puree. Transfer to a serving dish but let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving.

I tried this as soon as it came out of the food processor – it was terrible!  Very bitter!  SO, I let it sit like the recipe says and, lo and behold, it was much better.  Still, fairly bitter, but quite nice on a corn chip.  Interesting.

After that, I was inspired to do more salsas!  I had two poblanos and a left over Fresno pepper and two jalapenos.  I roasted them by putting them under the broiler and flipping them as they blackened their skins.  Out of the oven and into a plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes.  Out of the bag, peel the skins off and de-seed.  I then diced my roasted peppers and put in a bowl.  Add to that a small onion, diced, one large tomato, peeled and diced.  A tablespoon or two of olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, salt, ½ small bunch of cilantro and ½ of a lime, juiced.

This one – really good.  The roasted peppers added a different dimension and it wasn’t as spicy/hot as my regular salsa. 

salsa

August 10, 2009 Posted by | Appetizer, Recipe, Side Dish | Leave a comment

BITS AND PIECES (forgive me, WFB)

This is just a here and there post – I don’t have anything huge to talk about, just bits and pieces.  There’s no pictures because, frankly, I don’t know where my camera is at this exact moment.

Upcoming posts:

  • Salsas.  I like salsa.  I make a good salsa, so maybe that has something to do with it.  But, this weekend I made two new salsas.  A tomatillo salsa (new to me) and a tomato and roasted chile salsa of my own creation.
  • Children’s Chocolate Chip Bars a la Fannie Farmer

Other stuff:

  • Michael Pollan (my love for whom is almost unnatural) has a LONNNNGGGGG article in the New York Times that I haven’t fully digested yet.  The quote that caught my eyes was the average American spends only 27 minutes a day on food preparation – thats cooking to you and me.  WHAT?  That depresses me…I love cooking and spend 27 minutes a day thinking about what to eat!  Sometimes, I just want to cry.

August 9, 2009 Posted by | Random Blather | Leave a comment

I THOUGHT MY KITCHEN WAS BUSY…

02cooking-650

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Random Blather | 2 Comments

BACON ICE CREAM, REDUX

Yes, I did Bacon Ice Cream again.  C’mon, after you’ve had bacon ice cream, why wouldn’t you do it again and again?  Well, if your insane, Orthodox Jewish or a vegetarian – then, maybe.  But, being a Republican, meat-eating Catholic, I’m obviously none of the prior, so I had to do it again.

And I did.

This time I followed the Dave Lebovitz  recipe to the letter.  Last time I made a maple ice cream, thinking the candied bacon would just be perfect with a maple ice cream.  And gosh darn it, it did taste really good!  But, I swore to follow the recipe next time, and so I did!

For the candied bacon:

  • 5 strips bacon
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down.

Sprinkle 1½-2 teaspoons of brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length.

bacon1

Bake for 12-16 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.

bacon2

Once crisp and cool, chop into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice.

For the ice cream custard:

  • 3 tablespoons (45g) salted butter
  • ¾ cup (packed) brown sugar (170g), light or dark (you can use either)
  • 2¾ (675ml) cup half-and-half
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum or whiskey
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the ice cream custard, melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half. Pour the remaining half-and-half into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warm brown sugar mixture to them, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Strain the custard into the half-and-half, stirring over the ice bath, until cool. Add liquor, vanilla and cinnamon.

Refrigerate the mixture. Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bacon bits during the last moment of churning, or stir them in when you remove the ice cream from the machine.

bacon3

So?  How was it?  Well, once again, I brought it into work for the final decision.  This time, to the man (including me!), everyone thought it was fantastic.  It scared a lot of people and many needed to be coaxed into trying it, but, all to rave reviews!  Was it as good as the maple ice cream version?  Well, no.  But, it was still damn good eats!

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Dessert, Pork | 1 Comment

BBQ SAUCE

The word barbecue means something different to me than it does to most people in New England.  I won’t go into the whole story again, I’ll let this post do it for me.  Therefore, I won’t refer to the sauce I made today as barbecue sauce, because it’s too sweet and would never be served anywhere near real North Carolina barbecue.  No, what I made today was BBQ sauce and it’s damn fine!

For ribs, pork chops, burgers and chicken, I love a good ole’ sweet, happy BBQ sauce.   My mom makes a good one, but I couldn’t remember what exactly went into it, so, when I needed one a few months ago, I searched for a new one.  I came across a BBQ sauce from the Food Network’s own Pat Neely.  Now, I have never really liked Down Home with The Neely’s.  I just can’t get into it – maybe it’s because it reminds me too much of Paula Deen and she drives me nuts!  That being said, the sauce looked good and after I was done, it tasted really, really good!  It’s sweet and has a great black pepper bite!  I really like it.  I’ve found if you cut down on the sugar a bit, it’s fantastic!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons sugar (I use 3 more tablespoons of brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Before the cooking:

 

BBQ1  

After:

BBQ2

August 1, 2009 Posted by | Random Blather | 1 Comment