March 12, 2011

Restaraunt Review

Tewksbury Inn
55 Old Turnpike Road on Route 517
P.O. Box 141
Oldwick, New Jersey 08858
Phone: (908) 439-2641

Today I was invited by some dear friends to celebrate a 50th birthday at the Tewksbury Inn in the historic district of Oldwick N.J. The Inn is a lovely old building complete with a front porch and an outside patio which serves as an extra dining area during the warmer months. The interior has an eighteenth century feel keeping the integrity of the time the Inn was built. Service was adequate but not outstanding.

Appetizers ordered today were little neck clams in a white sauce, a smoked salmon with red onion, crème fraiche and dill over a potato pancake and the last appetizer was a goat cheese, walnuts, fruit and honey crostini which you self assemble from the plate. The clams were very good but the white wine sauce was a huge hit for all of us. It was so good in fact that we stopped the waitress from removing the leftover sauce and requested bread for dipping. The smoked salmon was good but what really made this appetizer was the potato pancake it was served on. And the self assemble crostini consisted of a goat cheese ball that appeared to have been breaded and deep fried, fried bread slices for breaking, fresh berries, candied walnuts and honey for topping. I thought this was a very interesting concept as an alternative to serving a straight forward crostini…and I liked it very much.

For my lunch I selected grilled chicken on a rosemary focaccia with brie, walnuts and a cranberry mayonnaise, it was quite enjoyable. As an accompaniment to the sandwich I was served a cole slaw and kettle chips. The slaw had not much in the way of flavor. The handmade kettle chips had a nice flavor however they were not as crisp as I would have liked. But overall the meal was enjoyable and the company I shared it with was excellent.
The prices we a little on the higher side for lunch but not unreasonable and I believe they came fairly close to reflecting the quality of the meals served.  I would recommend the Tewksbury Inn for a pleasant weekend afternoon lunch. And we were very leisurely with the time we spent in the restaurant…we took our time and were never rushed.
Rating….*** ½ out of 5

March 11, 2011

Shrimp Foo Yung

I'm always looking for different alternatives to serve the incredible eatable egg and this recipe is the bomb when it comes to switching up the egg routine.

This is basically scrambled eggs with shrimp. I added a little Fish Sauce to my eggs along with some white pepper. The fish sauce is very flavorful but also contains a huge amount of salt, so use it sparingly. Saute the peeled and deveined shrimp in cooking spray. When pink, add the egg mixture and cook until eggs are done. I topped the shrimp and eggs with chopped scallion for a light onion flavor and loads of color!

A very simple dish and very easy to make. I used two eggs for my single serving. Just add two more eggs for each additional serving...and a few more shrimp.


March 9, 2011

Pork and Saurkraut Made with 3 Cans of Yuengling Lager or "Drunkin Pork and Kraut"

Ahhh sauerkraut and pork, they go together like peanut butter and jelly, ham and eggs, milk and Pepsi...well maybe not milk and Pepsi, but sauerkraut and pork were made for each other…meant to be together forever.

My dad use to make this supper for us when we were kids, and he would add just a little beer to the pot of kraut! Well I’m taking this idea of my dad’s one step further.  I add not one but three cans of Yuengling’s lager to my recipe. I made this for my family the other night and they went gaga over it. This recipe is very easy and simple to make. I round out the pork and sauerkraut with pierogies tossed in during the last few minutes of cooking. I do make my own pierogies, but for the sake of time I will occasionally use the store bought brand “Mrs. T’s”
4-5 boneless center cut pork chops
1/3 cup flour seasoned with Lowery’s seasoned salt
4 T olive oil for sautéing
One 32 oz bag of sauerkraut, drained (I use the Hatfield’s kraut because it only has 180 mg of sodium as compared to others.)
3 cans of Yuengling lager
½ c low sodium beef broth
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp of fresh rosemary chopped
And pepper to taste


Heat oil in pot or deep skillet and dredge the pork chops through the flour shaking off the excess. When oil is hot, place the chops in the pot or skillet and sauté until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side, and then set aside.
In the same skillet add the sauerkraut, beer, broth, and onion powder let simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Next add the pork chops and any of the juices which may be on the plate, back to the skillet along with the fresh rosemary and pepper, cover and let simmer on low heat for one hour. Serve with hommade applesauce.
This recipe can also be executed in a Crockpot after the sautéing of the pork.
Chris gave this pork and sauerkraut a rating of 9 and said it is his new favorite pork and sauerkraut dish.

Nothing to "Wine" About...

What is it about wine that I love it so much? I love red wines and white wines...even a few of the rose wines I've tried. I wonder if it is a genetic sister loves wine too. 

Wine has been around for over 2000 who came up with the idea to make wine and why?
Is it something in our civilizations, our foods, the agriculture of our land, or is it in our make up as human beings that wine has been around and evolving for thousands of centuries? I’ll bet that just about every country on this planet produces wine.

We use wine to both celebrate and is connected to most all social gatherings. Wine is said to be a “living” substance...always changing as it is exposed to air and "breathes".

So you can have your beers and your fancy mixed cocktails...I'll stick with my wine.

“Wine is Life...the rest is just details!”

March 7, 2011

My First Fastnachts

Well this is my first try at making the ever so popular pre-Lenten tradition of Fastnachts. I always thought Fastnachts were basically a doughnut and pretty much that is what they are. But as I was researching these fascinating little critters I discovered one interesting thread...most traditional recipes include mashed potato! Although there were plenty of non potato recipes I could have chosen, I decided to try one with the potato in it! This particular recipe is a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, I chose this one because I went to college out in the Pa Dutch country and I use to love all the shoo-fly pies and other Dutch pastries whenever I was able to get my hands on them. They seemed to be made with a special touch. Even when I lived outside of northeast Philadelphia, there was a Dutch farmer's market and I couldn't wait to get my hands are their homemade soft pretzels.

Fastnaughts are typically eaten here in the United States and Eastern Europe on what is called Shrove Tuesday or the day before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of the season of Lent, a time for prayer and fasting within most Christian faiths. It is synonymous with Fat Tuesday, again a time for a last hurrah before the solemn 6 weeks of Lent leading up to the Christian holiday of Easter.

The ingredients used in making these Fastnachts are very simple. flour, milk, potato, butter, sugar, egg and yeast, the typical ingredients of most peasant foods. Start with your mash potato and add scalded milk and a stick of butter and blend. The fast acting yeast then needs to be combind with 1/2 tsp. of sugar and a little nearly warm water. Add this to the mash potato mixture when it has reached room temperatur, blend together well and then add 2 cups of flour and let stand covered with a clean thin dishcloth for 25 minutes in a warm place

The dough will rise slightly then add the lightly beaten egg and salt. Add the rest of the flour and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 3-5 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky. Grease the bottom of a large bowl, place the dough inside and the again cover with thin clean cloth. Let stand for two hours!  Then go make dinner!

I'm actually making sauerkraut and pork tonight with perogies and applesauce. This was an easy supper I grew up with and it was cheap too. I have a wee bit of a German heritage on my father's side, so with all the Irish (my husband) and Kazakh (my kids) celebrations in our house, I like to squeeze a little of my Eastern European flavor into some of my cooking, whenever possible.

After two hours the dough should rise to double it's size. At this point you roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is a about 1/2 inch thick. Then cut the dough into 3 x 3 inch squares and then cut each square diagonally. In batches, place triangles into the hot oil and watch them closely until they begin to brown. They should have a golden appearance to them!

Remove them from oil with slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Cut a small slit using a pairing knife and let cool for 40 minutes. You can eat them plain but I like to sprinkle white powdered sugar on top of the fastnachts for added sweetness and to make them look pretty.


2 cups milk
1 cup mashed potatoes (no salt, milk, or butter added)
1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 stick margarine, softened
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6-1/2 cups flour (divided, 2 cups + 4 1/2 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 can (1.5 pounds) Crisco® or similar vegetable shortening for frying


Chicken Provencal

My cousin sent me this recipe a couple weeks ago with a rave review. I have never had a dish like this and I was eager to try it. I actually made it twice. The first time I attempted the recipe I was in the middle of the simmering process and thought, "Maybe I'll thicken this up and add a little paste." Wrong move...the wonderful flavor of the salted pork, I used a thick slice of prosciutto, simmering with the onions and tomato was completely lost after I made my little adjustment. Although it was pretty good, I was hankering to know what I would have had ended up with if I didn't modify the recipe with the paste. It was just too "tomatoee", too much like a spaghetti sauce. Not even the addition of extra white wine had really changed the flavor very much.

So last Friday night my husband got our usual Friday night pizza for himself and the kids, but I had a single half of a chicken breast left in the frig, so I thought I'd try this dish again. Only this time I was not going to stray that far from the original recipe. I cooked up bacon instead of the prosciutto since that was all I had last minute. I only used one strip for my single serving of the chicken and that was enough. Since it was only one piece of meat in my pan, I did reduce the simmering time to about 10-12 minutes. The tomato mixture in the pan had reduced into this lovely flavorful sauce that I poured over my chicken and it was wonderful. I had Chris taste it and he just said "Wow, a lot of flavors, very good."

So thank you dear cousin for this tasty dish. I haven't tried the new version out on my kids but hey, they love bacon so we should be good to go with them!

This recipe was adapted from adapted from Bon Appetite, May 1994 issue. (Photo by b.a. curran)


2 boneless and skinless chicken breast cut in half
Olive for sauteeing
2 -3 oz. salt pork
1 onion , chopped
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes with juices, you can use the tomatoes with basil added
1 14 1/2 oz can of low salt chicken broth
3/4 c. of dry white wine
2 dried or 1 fresh bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme or 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 -4 garlic cloves crushed
3/4 c. drained black olives halved
3/4 c. fresh basil (optional)


Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper, I used seasoned salt, and heat oil in pan. Once the oil is hot add the chicken breasts and saute for 5 minutes on each side, then remove from pan and set aside. Add the salt pork to the pan and saute for roughly 5 minutes and then you can toss in the onions and cook until they are translucent about another 5-6 minutes. Make sure to continue stirring so then onions do not burn. Then add the tomatoes, broth, wine, bay leaf and thyme and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add the chicken back in, cover let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. The liquid should reduce by half. remove chicken from pan and plate. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken and top with the olives and basil.

PS...if you are a mushroom lover like I am, you can add them in at the same time you add the tomatoes and broth for a little variation.

March 6, 2011

Cumin Get It!!

So last night I attended a "Chili Cook-Off" at my sister’s parish down in Bucks County Pennsylvania. There were 25 submissions in all and both my sister’s and mine were entries numbers 9 and 10 respectively. Being the true critic that he is, my husband Chris decided he was going to take on the challenge of tasting every single chili in the room, and I have to say, there was almost every kind of chili available that you could have possibly wanted to try. To the right of my chili, entry number 11, was a Bison chili which had a gamey flavor as expected but also packed a lot of heat. I liked it despite the fact I don’t really have a taste for the game meats. Down the way a little bit was entry number 14, a Lenten version free of meat only to be replaced by fish. My husband was a big fan of this particular chili, although for me it fell a little short on the heat scale.

My favorite entry, besides my sister’s, was a Moroccan chili full of the spice cumin. I happen to love the flavor of cumin but my husband does not, at least I thought so until last night.
 At one point Chris comes over to me with a bowl of chili in hand, points to it all excited and says “Wow, have you tried number five yet?”

“Not yet” I replied as I pulled my sorry ass off the chair it had become so comfortable plopped down in. I headed over to the table, found the fifth entry and picked up the Crockpot lid. As soon as I did I got the whiff of cumin, which I instantly liked. But then I thought, how does Chris like this? He’s always complaining to me “Don’t put so much of that cumin in…it’s not my favorite. Why do you put all that in? See honey you don’t need so much of that spice!” Now completely intrigued by the fact my husband had just raved to me about this particular chili, I went ahead and grabbed a white plastic bowl along with a white plastic spoon and scooped up a little of entry #5 . And as I brought the spoon up to my mouth I thought, my nose is telling me cumin but maybe it’s not as powerful in flavor as what I think I smell.” I tasted it and loved it…BECAUSE IT WAS SEASONED WITH LOADS OF CUMIN!  

Now all the entries at the cook-off had to be submitted with a copy of the recipe used to make each chili, so at the end of the night Chris had gone and collected four of the recipes he liked best, brought them over to me, and while stuffing them into my handbag gave me the verbal instruction to “Make these!”  I looked at him and smiled, pulled out the four recipes and began to look through them and what do you know…low and behold there it was…the Moroccan Chili recipe! I laughed to myself as I started to read down the list of ingredients because one of the first ingredients listed was…yep, you guessed it…there, third one down right after the meat and tomatoes...2 tablespoons of ground cumin!!

   My sister enjoying her favorite Chili!!!
My Own Chili Recipe
Canola or vegetable oil
4 lbs. of your favorite ground meat
1 large pepper, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3 (28 oz) Cans tomatoes with their juices
3 (6 ½ oz) cans of Tomato paste
4 Goya’s Sazon without Annatto packets
4 Goya’s Chicken Bouillon packets
Cumin powder*
Chili powder*
Worcester sauce*
Liquid smoke, and don’t forget the Kidney beans

First heat the oil in a pot and then sauté the peppers and onions in the oil until they are soft, about 6 minutes. Add the ground meat and cook until browned. Then add the tomatoes, Goya packets, spices, worcester sauce and paste and then let simmer for 30 minutes. At the end of the simmer add the liquid smoke and the kidney beans. Heat through and serve. BUT…if you want to make this recipe a day ahead it will have the chance for the flavors to blend. You can add a little more liquid smoke before you re-fire the chili…Garnish with sharp cheddar and sour cream…delicious!!!
Keep in mind that this recipe could probably serve 12 people with a little left over.
*To Taste!!!

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