Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Sausage and Mushroom Breakfast Tart

When it comes to breakfast, we tend to be creatures of habit.  Even more so since we started eating keto.  Still, it's nice to do different things time to time.  

Looking at various keto cookbooks and changing things to suit us and our tastes.  Sometimes the changes turn out well and sometimes the results are less than stellar.  This one turned out well.

Fresh from the oven

As usual, the sausage used was made here in Uncle T's kitchen as bulk breakfast sausage.  Use your favorite bulk sausage.

Sausage and Mushroom Tart


1.5 cups almond flour

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, melted.


1lb sausage

6oz mushrooms, diced 1/4 inch

1/2 small onion, finely diced

6 - 8 eggs, well scrambled

1 cup shredded cheese

salt and pepper

Make the filling.  Combine the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour in the melted butter and stir until well mixed.  Evenly press into 9 inch pie pan.  Prick the bottom with a fork.  Blind bake at 350F then set aside to cool.

                                                                   A fine slice

Brown the sausage and crumble.  Move sausage to a bowl leaving the drippings in the skillet.  Use the drippings to cook the mushrooms until they start to take a little color.  Add the onion and cook until they start to soften.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the sausage back and combine well.  Crack the eggs into a large bowl and scramble well.  Add the sausage mixture and stir to combine.  Pour this into the pastry shell then top with the cheese.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until the center sets and the cheese is browned.  Let sit for 5 - 10 minutes to fully set then slice and serve.

                                                         A tasty filling breakfast

I cut this into 6 slices to get 3 breakfasts for the two of us.  That puts the tart at about 5g net carbs/slice.  A slice coupled with half an avocado kept me going all day until supper.

Give this a go and let me know what you think.

Take care, 

Uncle T

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fried Green Tomatoes with a Shrimp and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

Fried Green Tomatoes with a Shrimp and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

A couple of weeks ago someone shared a picture of this dish.  I went to the linked blog and they got the idea from a restaurant, now closed, that served it as an appetizer.  I thought it sounded interesting but that’s as far as I got.  Some ideas just hang out in the back of my mind until the opportunity arises and they pop to the forefront.
One of the benefits of living in coastal Virginia, Norfolk to be precise, is that the weather is conducive to keeping a garden running 9 – 10 months of the year.  I left one of my tomato plants when clearing and prepping for the Fall garden and that plant has really taken off.  Several tomatoes got to be of sufficient size to pick green for frying and low and behold the idea for this dish came back.
Being the good Southern boy I am this seems to be a proper Southern dish though more likely to be coastal in origin like Shrimp and Grits were.  I also think this sauce would be good served over rice or pasta as a standalone entrée.
A fine tasty supper
Fried Green Tomatoes with a Shrimp and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
3 medium size green tomatoes
Seasoned flour
Cornmeal mix
1 egg
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail off, large 35-41
Shrimp dry brine
Cajun seasoning
1 quart canned tomatoes, drained juice retained
1 shallot, fine dice
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs dry basil or ¼ cup minced fresh basil
¼ - ½ cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Vodka
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Fried Green Tomatoes.  Make an egg wash using the egg and milk.  Slice tomatoes ½ inch thick.  Dust in seasoned flour, dip in the egg wash, then coat with the cornmeal mix.  Set on rack to dry while the oil heats in the skillet.  Fry until golden on both sides and tomato is done but still has a little firmness.

Sprinkle the dry brine over the shrimp and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Rinse the dry brine off with cold water and dry the shrimp then season to your preferred level with Cajun seasoning.  Keep ready to add to the sauce.

Melt the butter in a pot then add the shallot and garlic.  Once the shallot turns  translucent add the tomatoes.  Roughly break up the tomatoes with a spoon and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the basil and the red pepper flakes.  Add ¼ cup heavy cream and ¼ cup reserved tomato juice and the 1/4 cup vodka and mix well.  Add more if you want the sauce more liquid or if it reduces too much.  Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes then stir in the seasoned shrimp just before the tomatoes are done.  It will take the shrimp just 4 – 5 minutes to cook at the simmer.  Taste and add salt if needed.

To serve, arrange 3 slices of fried green tomato on a plate and top with the Shrimp and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce.  Rice or the Rice/Quinoa mix from Rice Selects is an excellent accompaniment.

Notes:  Seasoned flour and the cornmeal mix is something I make and keep on hand in the freezer.  The seasoned flour is simply AP flour with salt, pepper, and garlic powder added.  The cornmeal mix is 3 parts cornmeal to 2 parts cornstarch and salt.  The cornmeal mix is used for fried green tomatoes, fried shrimp, and fried okra.  The seasoned flour gets used for fried chicken and as a base coat before the egg wash for anything coated with the cornmeal mix.

As noted above, this sauce would be good with rice or pasta.  I can attest that it is good with rice as I had it that way for lunch using some leftovers.  The sauce, like many things, improves in flavor after sitting a day or two.  To reheat, just put in a pot on medium heat and bring to a simmer and serve so the shrimp doesn’t overcook.

I hope you give this recipe a try.  It will definitely be a recurring dish here at One Tree Orchard.  As usual you can tweak things to suit your taste.  Let me know what you think.

Uncle T.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Flap Steak, Cherry Tomatoes, and Grits

Every year Uncle T has a garden.  This year the garden was kept small for ease of keeping up with things.  Another reason for keeping it small was that last year's garden produced enough that we have enough to keep us through to next year.  I did add one new item this year, a cherry tomato plant.

The cherry tomato plant has done amazingly well and we have lots of cherry tomatoes.  I've been coming up with ways to use cherry tomatoes in meals so they don't go to waste.  A guy in a cooking group I belong to on Facebook sent me a link to a dish using cherry tomatoes that had skirt steak and polenta.  I thought it looked interesting but not quite what we'd go for normally.
Standing in front of the cherry tomato plant.  It's over 7 feet.
First off, Uncle T is a good Southern boy and as such his preferred method of using dried corn is in the form of grits.  Shrimp and grits is a Southern staple and as such I figured this dish would work best as a variation on shrimp and grits.  I also usually have packages of Sirloin Butt, Flap in the freezer so I would use that in lieu of the skirt steak.  In the end, simplicity won the day and a fabulous tasting and looking dish was the result.

Flap Steak, Cherry Tomatoes, and Grits

l  1.5lb Flap steak
1 cup old fashion grits
4 cups water
3 cups cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6-8 Tbs butter

For the grits, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Stir in the grits and a pinch of salt.  Once it comes back to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Stir occasionally.  The grits will be cooked in 15 - 20 minutes.  Stir to ensure no lumps are present then stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Cover and keep warm.

For the steak, trim any excess fat and membrane then season with salt and pepper.  Preferably using a cast iron skillet melt 3 Tbs butter then when the melted butter is foaming add the steak.  Cook on one side until you get a nice crust.  Turn the steak and cook until desired doneness.  We like rare - medium rare so I generally aim for 135F internal.  Remove the steak and let rest.

For the cherry tomatoes add at least 3 Tbs more butter to the skillet the steak was cooked in.  Once it has melted and combined with the pan juices left by the steak add the cherry tomatoes.  Cook the cherry tomatoes until some of them have burst and the rest are hot.

To serve I prefer to use a pasta bowl.  Spoon the grits into bowls.  Spoon the cherry tomatoes and the pan juices around the edge of each bowl.  Slice the flap steak 1/4 inch thick on the bias then layer in the middle of each bowl.
Flap steak, cherry tomatoes, and grits ready to serve
I suppose one could use the 5 minute quick grits but I'll not vouch for the quality of the dish if so.  Uncle T is old school Southern so grits only count if they are the old fashion kind that take 20 minutes to cook.  Skirt steak or flank steak would also work for this recipe but I believe the flap steak has the better beef flavor.

This is a relatively quick and definitely easy dish to make that is filling and tasty.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Take care,
Uncle T

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Grilled Chicken Parmesan with Smoked Mozzarella

For the record, Uncle T does not recognize a "grilling season".  The only thing that will keep me from the grill is a thunderstorm.  Aside from that, if I want to cook something on the grill or in the smoker it will happen.  However, once the weather turns nice in the Spring the frequency of my outdoor cooking does increase.  Hey, better to heat the outside than the inside.

I've done a smoked Chicken Parmesan before where I did fry the chicken then assembled the chicken, sauce, and cheese before putting it in the smoker.  That recipe can be found HERE.

I decided to do everything but the pasta on the grill this time.  It helps that I had marinara sauce leftover in the fridge.  The only cooking that was done inside was boiling the noodles.  The smoked mozzarella cheese was a block that I'd cold smoked this past Fall and has been vacuum sealed in the garage refrigerator since.  The dish was topped with chiffonade basil from my herb garden.

Grilled Chicken Parmesan

1 boneless skinless chicken breast per person
marinara sauce
shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
grated Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
olive oil
fresh basil

Pound the chicken breasts until they are a uniform thickness.  Lay them on a tray and season with the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Place the chicken on a med-hot grill and cook until an IT of 165F is reached.  Turn partway through so you have nice grill marks.  Remove the chicken from the grill and place in a rimmed pan.  Top with marinara sauce then cover with shredded smoked mozzarella cheese.  Place the pan in the grill and close the lid and leave until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.

When the chicken is turned and almost done, get the water for your pasta boiling.  Cook according to package directions.  Yes, Uncle T uses dried pasta sometimes.  Once the pasta is cooked to your satisfaction drain it well.

Place portions of the pasta on the plates and top with a chicken breast.  Divide the marinara sauce that ran off the chicken between each plate by pouring it over the pasta.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.  Chiffonade some fresh basil and sprinkle over the chicken.  I added the grated Parmesan after the picture because I thought it looked better plus I had some mixed into my marinara sauce.
Grilled Chicken Parmesan over thin Spaghetti
This is a tasty and filling supper by itself though some fresh crusty bread would go wonderfully with it.  Though we normally drink Cabernet Sauvignon this was accompanied by a surprisingly nice Syrah we found at Wal-Mart of all places.  As usual, drink what you like rather than what "they" say you're supposed to drink with a dish.

While my marinara sauce was made using tomatoes canned out of last years garden by the good wife and good quality jar sauce will work.  Smoked mozzarella can be found at several stores like Trader Joe's and Wegman's plus others I found online.  I do my own because we like a bit more pronounced smoke flavor with ours.

I didn't time it but I think this was done in about 30 minutes including the time to pound out the chicken breasts.  So it's an excellent relatively quick meal for anytime.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Uncle T

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Smoked Lamb Breast, Fried Okra, and Deconstructed Elotes

We are rather odd for Americans in that we like and frequently eat lamb and goat.  Strangely enough, I usually prefer the taste and texture of leg of lamb over lamb chops.

Some time ago I was at WalMart and cruising down the meat case.  Not sure why because I don't buy meat there.  This time though, I ended up buying some.  The reason being they had American raised lamb breast.  Lamb breast is the same cut as pork spareribs.  I decided to give them a try since they were American raised.  I find Australian lamb most often.
A nice package of American grown lamb breast
The lamb breast was seasoned with my general purpose rub that is very good with lamb, pork, and poultry.  It was smoked with hickory until an internal temperature of 180F.  This got the meat cooked to the point of being easily bitten and the fat is melty and flavorful.  You can use whatever rub you'd like.
Lamb breast ready to come of the smoke
Since our Okra was producing well and a few had gotten big enough that they wouldn't be tender enough to eat boiled I made fried okra.  My method for fried okra is simple and yields a good crispy coating.  Cut the okra into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices and toss in seasoned flour.  Shake off the excess flour and dip in an egg wash.  Let the excess egg wash drip off and toss in a mix of corn meal and corn starch.  I use a 4-1 ratio.  You just need enough of the corn starch to help it get crispy crunchy.  Then fry in a skillet or deep fry until crispy and you have the color you desire.
Smoked lamb breast, deconstructed elotes, and fried okra
I'd been seeing Mexican street corn, Elotes, on the cooking shows for some time prior to this.  Since I didn't feel like taking the time to thaw out some ears of corn I decided to make a deconstructed version.  We were quite pleased with how it turned out and have done it several times since.

Deconstructed Elotes

2 cups whole kernel corn

2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cotija cheese, grated
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbs minced cilantro
pinch chipotle powder
smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Melt butter in cast iron skillet over med heat and add the corn. Cook, stirring time to time, until the corn picks up some color. While the corn is cooking, combine the mayo, cheese, chili powder, cilantro, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder in a bowl and mix well. When the corn is done, add it to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust if needed. Once on the plate sprinkle with the smoked paprika as garnish.

All these go well together or would do well with completely different menus.  I will say I gave the Elotes recipe to someone that was looking for something different to do with corn.  A couple of days later she let me know it was a hit and her husband cleaned it up.

Give these a try and let me know what you think.

Uncle T

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Steak and Kidney Pie

Uncle T doesn't like to let anything go to waste when he kills and butchers an animal.  As a result, we eat a fair bit of offal.  I always save the heart, liver, and kidneys and if I'm wanting to make haggis I'll save the lungs.  The kidneys are always for steak and kidney pie.  It's hard to beat a meaty dish full of rich gravy.

Most people think steak and kidney pie is British food.  They're probably just the most known for it.  Some time ago I came across an article saying that what we in the United States would call a pie is referred to as pudding in the UK.  What it comes down to is, crust on top is pie and crust on top and bottom is pudding.  What I normally make would be steak and kidney pudding since I usually put a crust on the top and bottom.  Steak and kidney pie would just have crust on the top.  That said, I don't know how accurate that is and I still use pie interchangeably for this dish in whichever configuration I make.
Steak and Kidney Pie
If you are dead set against eating offal you can just make this with beef for a steak pie.  I'm also writing this to prepare most of it in a pressure cooker.  The non-pressure cooked way involves simmering on the stove top for an hour or more until the meat is tender.

Steak and Kidney Pie

1-1.5 lbs beef
8 oz kidney
1 onion, diced small
beef broth
garlic powder
corn starch
1 package puff pastry

Cut beef  and kidney into bite sized pieces.  A more flavorful cut, like round steak, sirloin butt flap, or even chuck is the best choice.  Sautee the onion in some butter.  Toss the beef with seasoned flour and corn starch then brown on all sides in the skillet.  Remove from the skillet and repeat the process with the kidney.  Remove the kidney from the skillet and use more butter and flour to make a dark roux.  Once the roux is done, stir in beef broth until you have a thick dark gravy.  Add salt and pepper to taste then return the steak and kidney to the skillet.  Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 9 pan and top with the puff pastry.  Bake according to the instructions for the puff pastry.
Steak and Kidney Pie, mashed potatoes, and sautéed red cabbage
This is best served with either mashed potatoes or rice.  It can be to the side or served over them.  Steak and kidney pie is a rich flavorful dish.
Reheated Steak and Kidney pie, rice, and fried zucchini
Kidney's can be found at some grocery stores and most Asian stores will have them.  Usually what they have are beef kidneys.  So go get a package and start making steak and kidney pie.

Give it try and let me know what you think.

Uncle T

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Chicken and Spinach with Noodles Soup

It's a matter of fact in the South that when you are sick you eat chicken soup.  Usually it's a basic chicken noodle soup but sometimes it's a little different.  The past couple of weeks the good wife and I have been trying to fight off some bug that's going around.  Being a large semidomesticated animal I ended up with just a sinus infection and a cough.  The good wife got hit a bit harder.  When she gets sick I cook according to how she's feeling.

A few days ago I'd asked her what she wanted for supper and she said chicken soup, with spinach.  Naturally I made it happen.  It was tasty and easy to bring together.

I used my pressure cooker but the same thing can be done with a stock pot and more time.  The recipe will be written as I did it in the pressure cooker so adjust as necessary.

Chicken and Spinach with Noodles Soup

4 chicken leg quarters
1 box chicken broth
4 oz spaghetti noodles
2 cups spinach, rough chopped

Place the leg quarters in the pressure cooker with a little water and cook under pressure for 20 - 25 minutes.  The meat should easily pull from the bones.  Pull the meat from the bones and roughly chop and return to the pressure cooker.  Add the box of chicken broth and stir.  Break the spaghetti noodles in half and add to the pressure cooker.  Pressure cook the chicken and noodles for 8 minutes.  Stir in the roughly chopped spinach until it is wilted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  This will serve 4.
A fresh pot of soup ready to go
Once the timer goes off on the pressure cooking for the chicken you can let it naturally release pressure or you can manually release.  When it finishes after adding the spaghetti manually release the pressure.  When manually releasing pressure follow the manufacturer's guidelines and be safe about it.

We had cornbread leftover so some of it was reheated to accompany the soup.  They went very well together.
A filling and healing supper
Alternate methods to achieve this are varied.  One would be simmering a whole chicken until falling off the bone tender and using the resulting broth for the soup.  Another would be shredding a rotisserie chicken from the store.  Homemade broth is always best but a good quality boxed broth is good as well.

Whether you're feeling poorly or just want soup because it's cold, give this one a try and let me know what you think.

Uncle T