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Saturday, May 22, 2010 01:06 PM
Chef Fëanor on Eggs, Pizza, and the Uses of Leftover French Fries
 by Fëanor

The other day, my folks were over, and they were good enough not only to keep the baby entertained most of the morning and early afternoon, but also to pick us up lunch from the local pizza and sandwich place: King of Pizza, which is easily one of the best places to get pizza in the area (we're also big fans of another nearby place called Stella's - they deliver! - and Mack & Manco's down the shore). In this case we did not get pizza, but shared a couple of cheesesteaks and a couple orders of fries. I always forget, however, that an order of fries from King of Pizza is a heaping pile of fried potatoes served in a large, rectangular, cardboard container. So, needless to say, we had leftovers. Normally leftover fries just get thrown out, because they generally don't hold up well. But we decided to keep them in a plastic bag in the fridge with vague ideas of frying them up as pseudo-hash browns for breakfast on some future morning.

But then one night we decided to make a pizza. We make a pizza nearly every week, and I highly recommend it as an easy, tasty dinner solution. We just keep a Boboli pizza crust on hand, along with some shredded mozzarella cheese, some pepperoni, and some tomato sauce, and then at a moment's notice, we can throw a pizza together, adding any toppings we might have lying around (olives, other cheeses, leftover chicken, artichokes, etc.). I always also add some spices - garlic powder, oregano, basil. The pizza cooks up in just ten minutes. This time when I was pulling the pizza fixings out of the fridge, I saw the French fries lying there in their plastic bag and I thought, why not?

The pizza I made had three spoonfuls of Wegman's marinara sauce, a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese, the last of some fresh, homemade mozzarella cheese which we got from a local Italian food market, a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese, some spoonfuls of ricotta cheese, slices of green pepper, garlic powder, plenty of pepperoni, and finally, on my side only, oregano, basil, and a generous helping of whole French fries (poppy's not a big fan of the spices, and was adamant about not wanting to join me in the French fry experiment).

I was hoping the fries would crisp up again in the oven, but they didn't really, possibly because the sauce and fresh mozzarella gave off a lot of moisture. It was an interesting experiment, and it turned out pretty tasty, but it wasn't as delicious as I was dreaming it would be.

But my experimentation with leftover French fries was not over! This morning poppy requested some eggs and bacon for breakfast, and once again when I was pulling the fixings out, I saw that bag of French fries and thought, why not? So I made for myself a French fry and mozzarella cheese omelette. Well, really less an omelette than scrambled eggs with a bunch of stuff in them; I don't bother with the fancy folding and so forth that normally goes into making a real omelette.

To make my scrambled eggs, I broke three eggs into a bowl, added a dash of milk, and beat them thoroughly. Then I added salt and pepper (yes, I do this now, and sometimes I add a bit more salt during cooking, but I try to avoid adding salt or pepper after the fact; I've found that seems to make the eggs over-salty) and a small handful of shredded mozzarella (this ends up coming into a lot of my recipes), and finally broke up the rest of the French fries into small pieces and dropped them into the bowl, as well (there were probably about half a dozen fries left). I put a pan on medium heat, dropped a pat of butter in and spun it around, then poured the egg mixture in and cooked it up, scraping it off the pan and flipping it over occasionally. Eventually the egg mixture settled into one large mass, which I flipped over one more time and then took off the heat. I let the eggs go a little longer than I normally do; they got a bit brown in places. The cooks on TV tell you to take scrambled eggs off the stove while they still look not quite done, as they supposedly cook a bit more once they get to the plate, so I generally try to do that. But really I don't mind if they get a bit brown.

This, my friends, was an unqualified success, especially accompanied by a couple slices of center-cut bacon and two pieces of buttered toast. The French fries really added a nice bit of extra flavor and texture to my pseudo-omelette. I highly recommend it!
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Saturday, March 27, 2010 05:01 PM
(Last updated on Sunday, March 28, 2010 12:31 PM)
Casserole!
 by Fëanor

I tweeted/facebooked a while back that I would probably have to make this breakfast casserole, and indeed, I did. The recipe does not explain how large a package of tater tots you should use, or how much shredded cheese, so I just bought the first bag of Ore Ida frozen tater tots I found (which I assume is a pretty standard size), and two cups each of shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar. I left out the mushrooms and olives because I don't like mushrooms and olives, and poppy said she wouldn't mind not having them in there. Finally, in place of garlic salt I used garlic powder, and then threw some salt in later as an afterthought. (UPDATE: Another alteration I just remembered - we couldn't find any "miniature smoked sliced sausage," so we went with one, long, smoked turkey sausage which I chopped up myself.)

I found that the bag of tater tots I bought did not have enough tots in it to make up two whole layers in my pan, but I didn't feel, after it was done, as if I were missing anything by not having a complete second layer. In fact, this recipe makes a seriously large, filling, chunky casserole. I made this thing like a week ago now and we're still working our way through it. Luckily, it's also a very tasty casserole, so we don't mind having so much of it around. We find it's best when accompanied by buttered toast. Also, despite the fact that it is meant to be a breakfast casserole, we've never eaten it for breakfast; in fact, I think we've only ever had it for dinner.
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Monday, February 15, 2010 08:54 AM
Fondue: Fond of You
 by Fëanor

Yesterday, in honor of Valentine's Day, I made a cheese fondue for poppy and me. I'd like to say this was entirely my idea, but actually poppy suggested it to me. I was leaning toward this recipe for a Welsh cheddar and bacon fondue, and poppy independently selected the same thing, so that's what I went with. For the beer, I used a Yuengling. (Don't worry, there was nowhere near enough beer in the recipe to do any damage to Griffin.) For stuff to dip, I sliced up a baguette, chopped a red pepper, steamed and sliced broccoli and asparagus, and put out some pre-cooked and pre-sliced Purdue roasted chicken. Poppy and I agreed it was quite delicious. The asparagus, broccoli, and baguette went best with the fondue; the red pepper I think I'd skip next time. Something about the flavor/texture combination there didn't work quite right.

I was going to follow up with a chocolate fondue later in the evening, but poppy and I were too full and too tired. Maybe tonight!
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Friday, October 9, 2009 08:08 PM
Breakfast
 by Fëanor

Lately poppy has been picking what we should eat at our meals, and I've been executing her plans. It's working out pretty well. This morning I made scrambled eggs mixed with a little skim milk, some mozzarella cheese, and leftover tomatoes and red peppers (these last were chopped and cooked a bit by poppy before they went into the eggs), with salt and pepper to taste. To go along with the eggs, I took three leftover Wegman's mild Italian pork sausages, removed the cases, chopped them up, and pan-fried them in a bit of melted butter. I also sliced up a Wegman's French batard bread loaf and toasted and buttered the slices. All of this ended up making a lot more breakfast than I expected, but I cleaned my plate because it was (if I do say so myself) delicious. Afterwards I was really too full... but it was worth it!
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Sunday, July 12, 2009 02:27 PM
Pasta Save
 by Fëanor

I'd just put the water on to make pasta yesterday when I realized there was no (non-moldy) pasta sauce left in the house. Noooo!!! I was so desperate for pasta sauce, and so averse to going out to get it, that I conceived a plan to try to make some myself. I thought perhaps a can of crushed tomatoes would be the way to go, but poppy pointed me in a different direction: she told me to get a can of diced tomatoes (I chose a can wherein the tomatoes were already flavored with garlic and olive oil), drain most of the water, heat it up, add tomato paste to thicken it, and then when it was pretty much ready to go, add spices, and some sugar to cut the acid. I followed her instructions, adding some squirts of tomato paste, liberal amounts of oregano and basil, and a few sprinkles of sugar. Also at poppy's instruction, I took the fresh mozzarella balls we'd picked up at the supermarket, quartered them, and threw them on the pasta along with some of the homemade sauce. It was ridiculously tasty, especially with a bit of salt to taste, and a piece of fresh baguette on the side. Huzzah!
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009 11:57 AM
Just Call Me... Poultry Puncher
 by Fëanor

Last night, I made chicken schnitzel and poppy made a salad and dressing, all based on this recipe. We left out some of the ingredients the recipe calls for, but we were mostly faithful to it. Turns out chicken schnitzel is just fried chicken, but beaten savagely first. We had no mallet with which to perform this beating, but we thought a rolling pin would serve. However, after a thorough search upstairs and down, I couldn't find our rolling pin anywhere. I tried hitting the chicken with a spatula for a while, but it just didn't have the heft I needed. So then I thought, why don't I just punch it? With my fists?? And that's what I proceeded to do. (Don't worry, the chicken was covered with plastic wrap.) It worked pretty well, too! I beat the crap out of that chicken. Next the chicken got seasoned thoroughly with salt and pepper, then dredged, first in flour mixed with a pinch of cayenne, then eggs, and finally unseasoned bread crumbs. Then it went into a hot pan filled with a mixture of vegetable and olive oils and got fried for 2-3 minutes on each side. After it came out, it was salted again. It was way tasty! Especially when eaten along with the salad.

Things I'd do differently next time: use bigger, shallower containers to hold the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. I used regular-sized bowls, and the large, flattened out pieces of chicken simply didn't fit in them, which meant I had to kind of hold them up over the bowls and slap the stuff on them. Awkward and messy. Also, I decided to dredge the chicken one piece at a time and then put it directly into the oil so I didn't have to use yet another dish to set the dredged chicken on, but this meant the oil just sat there burning between each cooking session while I dredged the next piece. Next time I'd dredge them all first, setting them on that extra dish afterwards and then doing the cooking all in one go. I'd probably also turn the heat down a bit, or perhaps punch the chicken for longer. The breading got dark quickly, but some of the thicker parts of the chicken ended up just slightly pink inside.

Another thing we'll have to do next time: put the vent on to clear out the smoke while cooking, and then burn incense and take showers directly after! Everything in the house still smells like fried chicken.
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Thursday, May 21, 2009 05:55 PM
Dinner Tonight
 by Fëanor

Chicken wraps! Rotisserie chicken in burrito wrappers with baby romaine lettuce, red peppers, and caesar dressing. Potato chips on the side. Mmmm.
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Thursday, May 14, 2009 06:30 PM
(Last updated on Thursday, May 14, 2009 06:31 PM)
Dinner Tonight
 by Fëanor

Pizza! Before and after baking. Designed and executed by poppy and myself. It's on a Boboli thin crust and has shredded mozzarella, baby spinach, leftover garlic and lemon rotisserie chicken, goat cheese, artichokes, and garlic powder (my side also has basil, oregano, and pepperoni). It is delicious.
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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Sunday, March 1, 2009 10:08 AM
Never Trust a Terminator!
 by Fëanor

When I first found the recipe I'm using now for pancakes, I noticed in the comments some people suggesting adding vanilla extract, or replacing certain amounts of certain ingredients with vanilla extract. I considered trying this adjustment myself, but never quite got up the nerve. Then in the episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles that I watched yesterday, John mentioned that Cameron's pancakes were really good, and Cameron said she had added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the pancake recipe on the box. So when I made pancakes for poppy and myself this morning, I decided to give it a shot, and threw in a teaspoon of vanilla extract. It... didn't really work all that well. The pancakes were still edible, but the vanilla flavor was a little too strong, and they seemed even cakier than usual. Poppy had suggested I start with just half a teaspoon and, as usual, she was right.

Ah, well. I've learned my lesson: never trust a Terminator!
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not), Terminator (Not)
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Saturday, February 28, 2009 02:38 PM
(Last updated on Tuesday, March 3, 2009 03:25 PM)
The Continuing Adventures of Chef Fëanor
 by Fëanor

I actually picked out only three new recipes to make for dinner this week; the other nights I figured I'd just throw together something easy like a pizza or some pasta. Wednesday night ended up being pizza night. Making pizza is nothing new for me; once almost every week we use a thin Boboli pizza crust as a basis for a meal. My half usually gets some tomato sauce on the bottom, then the whole thing gets a healthy layer of shredded mozzarella cheese, followed by garlic powder, and some oregano and basil on my side. Then come the toppings, which vary depending on what we have in the fridge at the time. I always have pepperoni handy for my side, but then we'll often add artichoke hearts, red peppers, tomatoes, various other cheeses (including smoked mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta), olives (for poppy's side only - I'm not a fan), sometimes some chicken, and so on. It's easy, quick, fun, and delicious.

Thursday night we ended up taking the dog to the vet, and didn't have a lot of time for dinner, so we just made some sandwiches with some leftover rotisserie chicken.

Friday night I made lemon-herb chicken (recipe here) and heated up some leftover broccoli as a side. I tend to be afraid when cooking chicken that some part of it will come out pink and raw, and I'll end up poisoning whoever I'm cooking for, so I think I overcompensated and cooked this a little too long, but it still came out okay - very flavorful. It wasn't too hard to put together, either, although the olive oil sure splattered all over the place while it was cooking; then again, I didn't really measure the oil out, so maybe I used a little too much. Anyway, I'd say it was another success.

Today I noticed we had some bacon left which really had to get used or thrown out, so I cooked it all up and made us grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches on some crusty rolls that we picked up at Wegman's this morning. I used sliced mozzarella cheese and pressed the rolls down in the skillet using our handy dandy sandwich press. The sandwiches came out pretty tasty. I realized as I was making them, though, that maybe this was more bacon than I should really eat in a day, as I'd already had a bacon, egg, and cheese waffle sandwich from Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast. I guess I'll just have to make sure I avoid bacon in whatever I have for dinner (it'll probably be pasta, so that shouldn't be too hard).
Tagged (?): Chef Fëanor (Not), Food (Not)
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