Pork Butt (Shoulder) Roast

Let me just butt in here and say that the front part of the pig is better than bacon.  Whether it’s Boston butt, picnic roast, or best of all, country-style ribs (which aren’t really ribs), that’s my favorite part of this animal.  You can keep the ham as long as I get the front end… although there’s a delicious place for a ham, too, if smoked by good pros.

Pork butt, Boston butt, roast pork shoulder,

The whole butt sitting on a serving platter. Yes, I’d already sliced a swipe down at the lower right…

I’ll also butt in to say that a pork butt cut is not where you might think it is.  The nether end is the ham end.  The shoulder end contains the alliterative butt-cut.  And sometimes the butt roast cut takes over those luscious country style ribs, or at least some of them.  At any rate, there’s a long linguistic set of reasons I don’t feel like repeating as to why the Boston butt (which is referred to in Boston usually just as the butt) roast is named the way it is.

No, I don’t know why the picnic roast is called a picnic roast… although it would be just as fun to bring to a picnic as many other cut preparations might be.  That one is supposed to be a bit lower on the shoulder/foreleg than the butt.

I am given to understand that in other parts of the world, cut names, and actual divvying up of cuts, is different than here in the US.  So, find an upper shoulder cut of roast that contains skin, and if bone is not present, cook it for a somewhat lesser time — open oven once or twice and strategically poke… You don’t want a cold shoulder, much less a tough one…

Okay, so let’s just say it’s time to pig out and make our roast before I milk (does anyone ever milk a pig, other than their own piglets?) these porcine terms to death?

pork butt, Boston butt, recipe, pork shoulder roast, Paleo, gluten-free

Ready for the oven, rubbed down on all sides with Berbere rub. One good thing about low temp roasting is that the spices did NOT burn.

I took temperatures and timings from Serious Eats website, but otherwise did my own thing.  And I did overall cook this a shorter amount of time, as my goal was to minimize shredding — keep it in the oven if you want that, but for this prep, I did not.  Plus, my cut was smaller than theirs.

One thing I loved about this low temperature is that the rub did NOT burn.  It was cooked, but not charred into the taste of charcoal.

Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 7.5 hours + 15 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes and counting
Serves: 6.  
Leftovers?:  Yes, for sure, there’d better be!
Cuisine: Fusion.

Pork Butt Roast in the Oven

  • 1 pork butt (Boston butt, shoulder roast) bone in, skin on.  Mine was 6.3 lbs / 2.9 kg.
  • 4 tablespoons Ethiopian Berbere seasoning (or your favorite flavory rub)


Pre-heat oven to 250 F / 120 C.

Rub the roast with the berbere seasoning.  Or find or make another dry rub that appeals to you, and use that.  The berbere comes with salt and pepper, so I felt no need to add extra.  If your rub needs salt and ground pepper as extra, add them!

Cook in the oven for 7.5 hours.  8 hours if you have a larger pork shoulder roast.

I removed from oven, ate a little, reserved the drippings, chilled over night and defatted the drippings, which I kept with the roast.  You can, however, make a gravy by deglazing the drippings in their pan with a cup of broth (or wine).  For Paleo, use a little arrowroot starch mixed 1:2 with a little water… say, 1 tablespoon to 2 tablespoons, and add that to the gravy and stir.

Since I made this for myself, I had lots of leftover ideas.  Not really sure how many servings I actually  got out of this… Re-heat slices in the microwave, serve with sautéed veggies.  Top a cold salad with a couple slightly-warmed slices.  Chop up finely, and add to a stir fry.  Make breakfast, in the spirit of steak & eggs, but instead, pork roast and eggs:  (PS, that’s a duck egg AND a chicken egg.)

pork roast, pork shoulder, pork butt, Boston butt, recipe

I made this recipe four weeks prior to posting, due to having more than enough pork posts already back then.  (Sometimes you just need to cut the pork…)

So, I decided to have a little fun:  Gordon Lightfoot:  Cold on the Shoulder:

I admit, I absolutely loathe her (Adele’s) song, Hello. Beyond speaking.  It goes with Terry Jack’s Seasons in the Sun..  ACCCCKK!!!  But looking around for songs about shoulders, this earlier song of Adele’s, Cold Shoulder, this I do like.  I’m glad I stepped out of my envelope for it, while looking for songs about shoulders.  I almost didn’t play it, but figured I could back out at any instant.  It works as something I can listen to again.  Often.

Happy Roasting!  May your kitchen have cool enough moments to make this.  The low roasting temps will definitely help even if it be hot outside, and you lack A/C.

Link to this recipe joining the fiesta at Fiesta Friday!  Your co-hosts this week are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.  The latter is me, and I am glad to be co-hosting Fiesta Friday this turn around, especially with someone who cooks like Jhuls.  Don’t let her fool you… she’s creative.

And, visit this recipe at What’s for Dinner?  Sunday Link Up 162!








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Dining Out: Alo Saigon, Westfield, MA

This Vietnamese restaurant is by nearly all accounts quite authentic, and I highly recommend it.

Alo Saigon
116 Elm St (Route 202)
Westfield, MA 01085

I’ve eaten 6 dishes here from  three different visits.  I don’t usually get this down and dirty about reviewing, but this great Vietnamese restaurant is about 3 minutes from my physical therapy facility.  Although I am usually there too early in the morning to consider dining here afterwards.  (Fortunately, not always.  And I did run into a horrid Westfield Chinese “eatery” that I refuse to review, or step inside again, whatsoever…!)

First Visit:  (a lunch immediately after my physical therapy session):  I thought the Vietnamese crepe was an appetizer, because that’s where it was listed. So I ordered that and the steak and tendon pho.  Well, it was an appetizer, but… it was filling all on its own!

Second Visit: (again a lunch after physical therapy):  I made certain my chosen appetizer was an appetizer, and not a meal in itself!

Third Visit:  I didn’t feel the need to post my review before the third visit, but I did want to try the vegetable summer roll, and take a gander at some main course that wouldn’t be pho.  (Much as I like pho now.)  After what turned out to be my next to last physical therapy session.


Banh Xeo / Vietnamese crepe: 

alo saigon, dining out, westfield MA, Vietnamese crepe

Clockwise from top: Vietnamese house ice tea (gratis), the edge of the condiment lazy Susan, the Vietnamese crepe, dipping sauce, lettuce and herbs and veggies for eating the crepe with.

This is a dish that owes much to the melding of two culinary cuisines – Vietnamese and French.  (Without getting into the history, the French had colonized portions of Vietnam – and Indochina — from 1187 to 1954.)

The crepe came out and was over-stuffed… it was a meal in itself!  I understand it is made from rice flour, and this one really loaded in the mung bean sprouts.  It contained shrimp, as well as pork (probably pork belly).  It came with a savory dipping sauce, and with a platter of what I thought was a salad – some lettuce, Thai basil, carrots, cucumber slices, and such.

After I got home, I hit up my friend Google, and learned that the way one should eat it is to cut off a bite size piece of crepe, dip it in the sauce (or spoon some over), and then wrap it in a bite size hunk of lettuce, adding in any of the other vegetation on the platter as one sees fit… I blew that!  I will, however, know next time!

Pho Tai Nam / Steak and Tendon Pho:  (I apologize, I don’t know how to enter diacritic symbols in WordPress.)

alo saigon, dining out, westfield MA, pho

Pho: I’ve added sprouts, Thai basil, and an unknown bit of greenery to this. The steak is on the left at 8 o’clock, the tendon seems to be the rest of the meat visible at this point. It was ALL tender! Oh, the noodles are under…

The steak meat, and the tendon meat are sliced very thin, near paper thin, thinner than most delis seem to manage.  Authentic pho broth is clear, and very nicely seasoned in a delicate manner.  Pho rice noodles are necessary.  The steaming hot broth is ladled over the meats and the noodles and onions before serving, cooking the meats instantly.  The bowl is brought out, along with a platter of vegetation one can add to the broth.  This includes mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, Asian mint, a savory green I have no idea what it is, a lime wedge or two, and a few other items.  Don’t add everything in at once… they’ll get soggy before you can finish the bowl.  Pace yourself, and slurp up on the noodles – it’s polite.

At least I’d already seen videos of how Vietnamese eat pho, and I didn’t treat that “salad platter” like I did that of the first dish.

PS:  Pho is pronounced:  Fuh.  Yes.  

For both of these dishes, there’s a lazy Susan on the table, of condiments you can add.  Hot oil, Hoisin sauce, Rooster sauce, red pepper flakes, and at least five other things not counting salt and pepper.  I played around with a few of them in the pho — after of course tasting a good bit of that without adding extra condiments.   I did add a little to the crepe towards the end, but at that point I wasn’t sure if I should be doing that???  (Yes, you can.)

Definitely a cuisine where the chef minds less if you modify his (her?) own personal kitchen touches!  Unlike some high-end places I’ve read about where they go so far as to hide the salt and pepper shakers… I do recommend you try a good sample the way it comes out before you play with the condiments!

I finished the crepe, as I wasn’t sure if it would hold well for a second meal, and took a good third to half of my pho home for brunch the next morning.  Along with any leftover “salad” parts.  My pho was excellent that morning after, too.


Goi Cuon / Summer Rolls:

Alo Saigon, dining out, summer rolls, vietnam, goi cuon

The best summer rolls I’ve ever had!  (Actually, I think mine are pretty good, too, but this restaurant has the rolling of them down, and yes, both the rolls themselves and the dipping sauces go to the level of excellent.)  The rice vermicelli inside was not remotely dry, and they didn’t laden the rolls down with shredded carrot… there was enough for color and a little crunch, but the carrot didn’t overwhelm.  (When you bite into a summer roll and it is 2/3rds carrot, something is Seriously Wrong.)

dining out, goi cuon, vietnamese, summer roll, Alo Saigon

A very tasty roll, and its choices of sauce.

Each roll had a little lettuce, a lot of shrimp halves, and some pork, again probably pork belly.  The dips were a peanut-based dip with a mild amount of heat, and a Nuoc Cham dip, which is something I love  and have tried to make but failed at (will try again…).  It contains fish sauce, rice vinegar, and a bit of sugar to mellow out the fish sauce, as well as a mild bit of heat.

They also offer a vegetarian summer roll (with tofu), and I may try that next time.

Highly recommended.

Pho Ga / Chicken Noodle Pho:

Alo Saigon, Pho ga, Chicken Pho, soup

Pho Ga, with veggies to add in the background. Here, I have yet to add anything from that other plate.

Pho again.  I decided to try a Pho that had different protein in it than my appetizer.  I went with chicken.  It was prepared in a beef base, so this encouraged me.

Although I was surprised they just used white meat, as in Indochina all parts of the bird are prized, this was actually quite good.  The breast meat was NOT overcooked and dry (something which can readily happen to this cut even in a soup or broth surrounded by water).  I preferred the earlier Pho, but I could do this one again.  Again, the soup was served with a plate of mung bean sprouts, loads of Thai basil, another herbaceous leaf I don’t recognize, a lime section, and a slice of what looked like seedy Jalapeno.

This time, after enjoying a good third of the soup, I added hot oil — basically, oil that has been infused with red pepper flakes.  I added a little too much, alas… a little DOES go a long way!  Still, it was flavorful (in a good way); but because of my action in seasoning this up, and despite the fact I still enjoyed the flavors, I couldn’t finish all the broth, as I’d be paying for that, later.  (Do Not Ask.)  Tastes were, as I will point out again, were great!


Okay, perhaps a little too many physical therapy visits in Westfield?  Plan them late enough in the morning, and a trip to this restaurant is in order?  (There’s a great breakfast joint in town which may get reviewed in the future — they also serve lunch but I have yet to do that — Vietnamese wins out hands down as a destination over what is more or less standard American fare…)

Goi Cuon Chay / Vegetarian Summer Rolls:  

Alo Saigon, dining out, restaurant, Vietnamese, summer roll, goi cuon chay

The wonderful ice tea to the left (really refreshing on that hot muggy day), and the summer rolls. One of the extra dipping sauces was meant for my main course which showed up shortly.

The pork and shrimp get subbed out for avocado and fried tofu.  These are likewise very good although the avocado didn’t really impart much flavor.  Still, it was fresh and green, and not remotely brown.  The dipping sauces remain as before, so if you are vegetarian or vegan and/or don’t want fish sauce, stick with the peanut sauce.

Alo Saigon, dining out, restaurant, Vietnamese, summer roll, goi cuon chay

Cross section. The tofu is lightly fried, the rice vermicelli is tender, carrot is not obtrusive, and I do wish the avo kicked up just a bit more. But it is worthwhile.

Banh Hoi Tom Nuong:  

Alo Saigon, dining out, restaurant, Vietnamese, shrimp, rice vermicelli, Banh Hoi Tom Nuong

Veggies to the left, hot and seasoned shrimp along with vermicelli rice “cakes” to the right. Enough vermicelli rice cakes to make it one per shrimp. Enough lettuce to split each leaf in half, for each shrimp. More carrot than I’ll ever eat, but I did make a dent in that. Mint and cuke..

When I ordered this, I had no idea what this would be, other than grilled shrimp with vermicelli rice noodles and some veggies.  I wanted something without actual “heavy” rice, and so I settled on this.  I got the platter above, along with the veggies above (lettuce, mint, carrot, cuke).  No Thai basil, and I am pouting… I love that stuff!  Were they out?  Is that not usual with this dish?  I don’t know.

It came as a platter with shrimp in a barbeque sauce on one side, along with the vermicelli rice laid out in rectangular flat areas, the same number of those as there were of the shrimp.  Another platter came out as described with veggies above.  Uh, huh.  Something else I don’t know immediately how to eat?

Alo Saigon, dining out, restaurant, Vietnamese, shrimp, Banh Hoi Tom Nuong

Laying down the shrimp on a rectangular bed of rice vermicelli…

Having the phone along helped… I surfed for info as to the best way to eat this menu choice.  Roll each shrimp, sauce and all, into one of those rice rectangles, lay it into some lettuce, add in mint, cuke, and carrot at whim, roll together and dip in the Nuoc Cham fish sauce.

Alo Saigon, dining out, restaurant, Vietnamese, shrimp, Banh Hoi Tom Nuong

Adding the rice, which has been rolled around a shrimp, to a portion of lettuce leaf (in this case a smaller than usual fragment), and topping with mint, carrot, cuke. Will fold over and dip into the sauce.

It is a very messy process, as well as rather slow, but I’m sure with practice I can do better.  Oh, btw, the shrimp come with tails on.  My quick surf on Google determined that many people leave the tails on and eat the things in entirety, but go ahead and remove if you wish.  I decided I really needed more calcium, so I ate most of them…

I like this dish, but I think of all the dishes I had, the steak and tendon pho was my favorite.  Oh, possibly the crepe, but I will have to eat that correctly sometime down the road.   Not because I have to, but because I want to try it the Vietnamese traditional way.


An excellent place to dine.  The interior of the restaurant doesn’t look like much, but service is fast, and efficient.  Prices seem in-line.  Seems reasonably popular for it being Tuesdays at lunchtime, typically not an up time for eating out.  There are a number of vegetarian tofu items on the menu that come with rice, but you will have to vet out any dipping sauces if you don’t want any taint of fish.

I will rate it 4.25 / 5 stars.  Some of the lack of starring here is due to ambiance.

Things that truly impressed:  Finding a quality Vietnamese restaurant that makes an ultimate Pho broth.  Finding tendon as a choice with the meats.  An awesome Vietnamese crepe, though this is really NOT just an appetizer, it should be listed as a main.  Wonderful summer rolls.  Pho with chicken breast that really provided quality white meat, a hard barrier to pass.  Quick and friendly service.  Some may prefer the main dishes arrive after the appetizers are finished, but maybe this is a Vietnamese thing?  It didn’t bother me.  There are a large number of vegetarian items on the menu, including a vegetarian pho.  You may have to vet out any sauces when you order.  (But there are a wide range of vegan condiments at the table at all times — though many of them are hot on the tongue.)

It would be nice if they upgraded the restaurant itself, many of the benches at the tables have splits in the plastic seats, and some things are very faded-looking.

I have only been here for lunches.  I did check the “facilities” on my last visit:  clean and handicapped accessible at least on the women’s side.

(I had Pho before, at a restaurant in Northampton, MA. It was just a broth, and simply “okay”, and from that I could not understand why anyone would care or rave about this dish.  But since so many people hither and yon, actually DID, I wanted to eat it at this restaurant, to see if that other restaurant was just… being pedestrian.  It was.  THIS one does serve the real item, as far as I can tell.  At least as good as I might expect until I can do some serious travelling to say, Indochina…) 

PS Since writing the above, I’m no longer taking physical therapy.  So I will not have a good reason to drive 45 minutes to this restaurant.  I need to grab friends by their coat-tails and drag them here so they can enjoy with me!  


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Bharwaan Mirchee – Stuffed Bell Peppers (Indian)

This recipe is from Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness.  Some years back I attended a 3 hour hands-on cooking class taught by Suvir Saran and bought this book then.  (He autographed it, too.)  Apparently, it is a recipe from the New Delhi region.  India is a HUGE subcontinent, cooking styles vary vastly across it.

bharwaan mirchee, stuffed pepper, indian, gluten free, vegetarian, recipe, potato

Bharwaan Mirchee cross section.  Seriously, one is enough for a full meal.

Since this recipe uses an egg to hold the stuffing together/in, it’s vegetarian but not vegan.  You could omit the egg and just have a floppier filling, nothing wrong with that.  This recipe is also Paleo.  I halved the amounts.

Regards the hot chili pepper – I used jalapeno, and I will note some jalapenos have no heat, others have a LOT.  Adjust the amount of chili pepper (and any seeds) you use accordingly.  The only recipe changes I made was that I used white boiling potatoes instead of red, and I used the juice of a whole lime instead of a half – the latter a vagary of halving ingredients in my mind while cooking, but forgetting to do so with the lime — but I liked the result!  I also whisked the egg with cumin instead of cayenne since my taste test of the stuffing indicated I already had just enough heat for me — mine turned out to be a HOT jalapeno!

bharwaan mirchee, stuffed pepper, gluten free, indian, vegetarian, recipe, potato

Just pulled from the oven. The orange one tipped over, but no problem. If you do four, aesthetics dictate a pepper of each color!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Rest Time: No
Serves: 2 (as a main)
Leftovers: Sure.  The pepper may be more soft with re-heating, but still enticing. 
Cuisine:  Indian

Stuffed Bell Peppers – Bharwaan Mirchee

  •  0.8 pounds / 400 grams potatoes, white or red.  Slice in half or thirds if you need to make smaller sections for cooking.  
  • 2 small bell peppers, cored from the top, and most seeds removed.  Get colorful with your pepper choices.
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or about 1/3 teaspoon ground coriander if you lack the whole seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 fresh hot green chili, minced (I used jalapeno, it was what the store had.  Well, they also had Scotch bonnet… no thank you!) De-seed if you prefer.  
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2  tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon or lime (my lemon had gone south, so I used a lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1.4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt and cayenne (or ground cumin if you already have enough heat)

Bring a pot of water to boil, enough to cover the potatoes.  Add the potatoes, and simmer for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the bell peppers.  AND preheat the oven to 400 F / 205 C.

In a dry skillet at medium high heat, gently toast the cumin and coriander seeds (if using ground, don’t toast that component).  Watch carefully, they will blacken rapidly.  About a minute.

Remove the potatoes from the water, peel as soon as cool enough, mash (puree or somewhat chunky – I chose the latter – the cookbook didn’t specify), and add everything else except the cooking oil and the egg.  Mix and taste, adjusting accordingly.

Stuff the peppers compactly.   (NOTE:  I actually ended up using all the stuffing except for the teaspoon I tasted.)

Dip the tops of the stuffed peppers into the beaten, seasoned egg, to coat thoroughly.

Heat a skillet (using most of the cooking oil) to medium high, and once hot, upend the stuffed peppers so that the egg will cook.  Keep in place for three minutes max.

Flip them back over so they are stuffed/egg side up, place them in a lightly oiled baking pan, and insert pan and all into the oven.

Cook about 30 minutes, or until the bell peppers are at about the level of done-ness you like.  Serve as a vegetarian main.

ENJOY!  Verdict:  The egg topping is not necessary, but does add a nice element to the dish.  So if you don’t eat eggs, it really won’t matter.

bharwaan mirchee, stuffed pepper, indian, vegetarian, recipe, potato, gluten free

Spicy, awesome, and vegetarian. On my “hit parade”!

PS:  This is a great cookbook, and I’m sorry it has languished in a corner for so long… while poking through it the other day to discover this one, I’ve earmarked a few other recipes I’ll be making shortly from it!

If you are feeling up for it, and can find them, serve a side of  a few fresh, ripe mango slices.  I really, really want two or three slices right now!!!  Otherwise, I’m satiated!  And I have another stuffed pepper for tomorrow!

This recipe is over having a good time at Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Debanita @ Canvassed Recipes

It’s also hanging around at What’s for Dinner?  Sunday Link Up 162, enjoying being at foodie destinations.







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Citrus and Fig Update – plus Protect Your Deck from Grill Ash

In the tropical, keep ’em winterized indoors department, I got a new grapefruit sapling, and three baby fig “trees” that are less than sapling in size.  I live in Zone 5b, so these definitely need at the very least, a greenhouse for winter.

citrus, grapefruit, growing

Grapefruit flowers and a couple little pollinators.

So, my citrus tree list is:

  • Australian Finger Lime:  Nothing seems to be fruiting on this one.  Last year it had many flowers, this year not so many.  I really want to eat more of this lovely fruit!  There are some new branches but things are happening slowly here.
  • Blood Orange:  Not much happening here.  Not much happened last year, either.  It’s green.  That’s good…
  • Grapefruit:  It came with a grapefruit trying to develop, but that dropped off.  On the positive side, it has LOADS of flowers!  The season is not too late (especially since these plants come indoors around mid-late October) for fruit to develop.
  • Thai / Kefir Lime:  Lots of flowers and lots of incipient fruit.  Never mind that it is the leaves that are the attraction, if this thing delivers on limes, I will find some use for them, bitter as they may be!

    growing, kefir lime, thai lime, citrus

    Thai (kefir) lime with lots of little fruit. The ones over to far left are ahead on development. Lots of new foliage growth, too.

  • Bearss Lime:  This is your general supermarket lime.  I have many flowers, and one developing fruit that is getting to a good size.  Limes will eventually go to yellow if allowed to ripen that far, so I think I’ll wait to judge it’s ripeness by seeing even just a tinge of yellow.  And, maybe some of the other flowers will develop fruits, too.
growing, bearss lime, citrus

Bearss lime tree, with lime and flower. Also, note the two lowest branches. I cut them off immediately after, these are from the rootstock the plant was grafted onto, and will suck energy from the parts of the plant you want. (Had to do that last year, too.)

As far as the figs go, my Chicago Hardy fig went dormant and dropped all its leaves last winter.  It’s a thing, I discovered, in researching this plant.  This spring it sent out two branches and put three leaves apiece on those branches… it looks gawky.  It told me that if I took a photo, it would disown me.  And like there will be a few more years before I can even anticipate fruit.  I will transplant it into a bigger pot come late autumn, when the leaves will drop again anyway.  PS, his name is Figgy Stardust (I am not in the habit of naming my plants, but in this case, I  just couldn’t resist…)

The two new figs are:

  • Celeste Fig: Still small.
  • Texas Everbearing Fig:  Also still small.

There was a third one, but it rapidly decided to move to the fig heaven in the sky.  They were part of a special deal.  The two survivors will get transplanted again this autumn, too.

Oh, that olive tree?  Didn’t make it through winter, even indoors.  May try one again in a few years.

At any rate, come the Zombie Apocalypse, I’m nowhere near ready to depend on my citrus crop for any necessary Vitamin C in my diet.

potted citrus, growing, citrus, zone 5

Back deck faces due south, which the citrus thrive on. From left to right: 2 little figs, Finger lime, blood orange, grapefruit. The other two citrus trees are down further on the deck. PS: this is Zone 5.

Final note for today:

My Weber grill is now set up.  And I made a way to deal with the charcoal chimney on the wooden deck.  It’s almost too pretty to use!

I’d been wondering how to handle my new grill on a brand new deck.  At my old home, the grill had been on the porch, and I set the charcoal chimney off the patio, on a flat 15″ x 15″ stone.  This wasn’t going to work here, as there’s a drop off.  (Lighter fluid instead?  P – U!  I don’t need to smell that stuff.)

homesteading, charcoal chimney, deck protection

Weber, ash mat, and charcoal chimney set-up

So, anyhow, a random find at Ocean State Job Lot (gotta love that store!) is a mat for under your charcoal grill to catch — ashes.  So they don’t turn your deck dingy.  This is fire-retardant but NOT fire proof, btw!!!  It was long enough for me to come up with a plan.

I hit Home Depot and collected some bricks and arranged them for cooking.  I didn’t want any of the 35 pound or heavier things, for ergonomic reasons – I can lift that, but I don’t want to have to do it as dead weight from floor level more than I need to.  So, I got the little bricks and topped that with a 17 pound pathway “stone”.

By the way, every home should have at least one fire extinguisher.  Right now I have two, one in the kitchen and one in the basement.  I will be picking up a third for the garage.  Learn how to use them (there are videos) before you need to use them.  (AND learn how to cut your losses and run if you have to.)

citrus, growing, Thai lime, Kefir lime

Again with the Thai lime.

And, another citrus photo…

FYI:  You can now follow me on Pinterest.  I now have several boards there, about food, poultry, house design and architecture, and homesteading.  Drop on in and explore!

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Avocado Sweet Potato Toast, Avocado Rice Cake Toast – Gluten-Free

Avocado toast has become a “thing”.

When at home, I seldom eat bread or toast, as I don’t need the simple carbs, but I do admit that toast makes a handy base for items such as melty cheese and so forth.  Including, I suppose, avocado, a fruit I truly enjoy in so many of its manifestations.

Avocado, breakfast, sweet potato, toast, gluten free, vegan, Paleo, Whole 30

Avocado / guacamole on roasted sweet potato slices.  Breakfast, August 1.

At any rate, without having to purchase bread to try out this new wonder, I decided to slice up and roast some sweet potatoes, and add avocado to it, and serve.  And then, while I was about it, but not so Paleo, I decided to do avocado rice cakes.

Consider the rice cake idea good for workday breakfasts, the sweet potato one for days off, since that one takes longer to prepare.

Note that I assume a whole avocado per serving; you can certainly adapt these two recipes to use half an avocado per serving, leaving the sweet potato or rice cake amounts as already stated.  (But seasonings in the first dish should be cut in half to reflect how it will season the avo portion of the dish).

A simple recipe, but I tried this on a lark.  These flavors turned out to work surprisingly well together,

Prep Time: 10 minutes.
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes.
Rest Time: Nope.
Serves: 1 person per two sweet potato slices.
Leftovers: Avo doesn’t hold its green very long.
Cuisine:  Weekend breakfast, California Dreaming…

Avocado Sweet Potato Toast (Vegan, Paleo, Whole 30)

  • 1 medium sweet potato about 5-6 inches (130 – 150 mm) long, bad spots removed (or peeled) and sliced about 1/4 inch (6 -7 mm) thick.
  • A drizzle or so of cooking oil.
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • About 1/3 of a lime, juiced.
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste.

Preheat your oven to 450 F/ 230 C.

Rub all sides of the sweet potato slices with cooking oil, place in a pan, and cover with foil.  Roast for about 30 minutes.

Towards the end of the cooking time, peel and de-pit your avocado.  Mash the avo with the garlic powder, paprika, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Chunky or smooth, your choice.  Adjust taste to your own preference!

Remove the cooked sweet potatoes from the oven – they should be soft but not falling apart.  Drizzle just a touch of EVOO over the top sides, then spread the avocado mix over that.  Serve.

This was awesome.  I really didn’t expect that avocado and sweet potato would really work this well together.  Pays to experiment!  (Seriously, you don’t need to tell people about your failures in the kitchen,… but… I LOVE this dish!)  

AND, for the next one, a great quick breakfast, here is the avocado on  rice cakes.  In this case, we will cook the avocado on top of the toasting cakes.

gluten-free, avocado, breakfast, rice cakes, vegetarian, vegan option, toast

Here’s winkin’ at you! Breakfast, July 31. Yes, there was a little more avo, but I ate that while the cakes were toasting.  (I did not cook that portion.)

Prep Time:  5 minutes.
Cook Time:  5 minutes max.
Rest Time: No way.
Serves: 1.
Leftovers:  Not recommended and I certainly didn’t test.
Cuisine: Breakfast, Hip Modern.

Avocado Rice Cake Toast (Vegan or Vegetarian)

  • Two rice cakes, your favorite brand and flavor
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • optional quail egg yolk or two.

Slice the avocado and put on each rice cake.  Reserve the extra avocado.  If you have the quail eggs, de-shell and separate out the yolk, which you can add atop the cake in between some avocado.

In your toaster oven, toast until the cakes start to turn golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Watch carefully as they go from golden to burnt fairly quickly.

Remove, plate, add the extra avocado to the plate.  Eat.  Just to note:  the quail egg yolk was partially softish, and partially very runny.  This is why I discard the white.  The yolk is much safer this way.

Avocado toast, rice cakes, gluten free, Lundberg

Lundberg rice cakes. I’m really partial to the tarmari seaweed one to the right, but I used the sesame tamari for the recipe here. Also good.

In any, or either case… enjoy!

Let’s go have a Fiesta at Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Mara @ Put on Your Cake Pants and Hilda @ Along the Grapevine.  

And, we always want to know what’s for Breakfast at What’s For Dinner, Sunday Link Up 160.



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Kitchen Gadgets, Part I

I’ve run into useful gadgets for the kitchen over time.  I figure I’ll toss out about five of these items at a time into a post when I’m feeling like it, in no particular order (perhaps alphabetical, maybe or not), and in no particular level of usefulness.  Write… and Go.

  1. Measuring spoons, narrow for narrow containers. 
    Kitchen gadgets, kitchen tools

    To the right: Narrow spoon set for fitting into almost any jar or spice container you might have around. To the left: Dash, pinch, smidgeon… for fun, though I have used these.

    Ever run into the situation where you are getting a spice, but the jar is not wide enough to insert the measuring spoon?  Of course, you fluff it out into the waiting spoon, perhaps over the sink or perhaps over the target pot…. Suddenly, it’s all over the place, and too much is in that pot, or you’ve wasted a good bunch of it down the drain.  Enter narrow measuring spoons!    Purchased from Amazon.

    1. B:  extra.  This one is for giggles:  measuring spoons so you know just how much a Smidgen, a Pinch, or a Dash is.  Not that anyone has put these measurements in an official chart of weights and balances, mind you… but you can always pull these out in case anyone asks.  I believe I found these on Block Island (Rhode Island) a few years ago while on vacation.  Some people buy coffee mugs for souvenirs, but…
  2. Wine glass markers.
    kitchen gadgets, kitchen tools, wine glass

    Stemmed wine glass identifiers. You can get more brightly-colored ones, too. But I just liked the styles here.

    I started to go to gatherings where everyone was confusing their wine glass.  Yes, the Magic Marker on the paper or plastic cup works fine, but if one is drinking wine in the non-plastic crowd, here’s something for the next level of sophistication.  Just hook the things – they all differ from each other — around the stem of your wine or champagne glass.  You can find all styles, and quantities, and prices, on Amazon.    You don’t have to worry you’ve shared your drink with BackWash Barry any more.  Um, hopefully!  Of course, if you never drink beverages from stemmed glassware, this is not useful for you.  Both sets purchased from Amazon.

  3. Weigh pans/balances.  
    kitchen balance, kitchen weigh, kitchen

    My smaller weighing container.

    The electronic balance I bought to weigh my own body in the bathroom kept changing what it recorded for me, on a near-daily basis.  I mean, by 5 or more pounds either direction.  So, I moved back to the mechanical weigh balance, and when I bought some kitchen balances, I bought mechanical balances there as well.  YES, if you are working in a biological research lab as I used to do, the electronic ones are the way to go – but those you pay a hefty price for, for the precision and accuracy.  In the kitchen?  Feh.  Give me the mechanical spring loaded balances for home use, ANY day!  I have two,   One goes to 18 ounces/500 grams. The other goes to 7 pounds – and while precision is not exact, at least things aren’t wildly fluctuating day to day, and they are fine for cooking purposes.  And… no batteries required!  I picked both I have up from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
    My goal is to convince myself to go the more practical European route and measure ingredients by weight rather than volume – a hard habit to break the American recipe style, though.

  4. Lemon/Lime/Citrus Juicer.
    Recipe. lemon, lime, citrus

    Kitchen citrus squeezers. Left to right: Mom’s old glass citrus squeezer. Middle: plastic one that will catch seeds. Right: Very efficient for limes and lemons.

    I have my mother’s glass juicer, and it is good for juicing about any citrus fruit you have in mind, although it will be more efficient on certain sizes over others… but you can still juice grapefruit using it.  The downside is, you have to pick out seeds… yeah, First World Problems that never entered my mother’s mind (nor mine for many years after taking possession of this item).
    So, I picked up a cheap plastic citrus juicer that would let the juices flow into whatever bowl (yes you will need one for this!) is below it, and keep the seeds from falling in.  Not good for anything large like a grapefruit, but useful up to orange size.
    Watching an America’s Test Kitchen episode on YouTube one day, I discovered this next citrus juicer.  I ordered.  Again, you have to be over another container or bowl, but it’s pretty efficient in squeezing out Every Last Bit O Juice from a lemon or a lime.  None of that pesky seed worry, either.  It won’t handle orange-sized citrus, but there’s a model that will… but it didn’t get stellar reviews on Amazon, and I don’t really need oranges juiced enough that I would forego Mom’s old glass juicer.
    Oh, PS – Mom made us homemade squeezed orange juice when we were kids using that glass gadget.  This despite the fact she LOATHED orange juice:  when SHE was a kid my grandmother would add cod liver oil to orange juice every day and make her drink it.  The end result was that my mother couldn’t even stand the scent of oranges to her dying day — the fact that she made us kids home-made orange juice despite her loathing speaks to her desire to have us be eating/drinking healthy foods.  (No, she never did give us cod liver oil in any shape or form.)
    Sources:  Glass juicer:  from Mom, and probably a near-antique.  Second:  I seriously don’t recall the source, but it predated online shopping for me.  Third: Amazon.

  5. Mortar and Pestle.
    kitchen gadgets, kitchen tools, mortar and pestle

    My malachite green mortar and pestle. Possibly soapstone?

    Yes, you can plug in a min-grinder and grind spices, but sometimes if there is just a little you need… go ahead and use a mortar and pestle, as most grinders require a larger quantity to work efficiently.  Try to find one made from an inert substance… I have one made from wood, but that’s just for pretty since it is nicely carved on the outside.  There would be no way to remove the scents and tastes of anything savory ground by hand in that!  Soapstone is often used, but there are other ceramic and stone materials that your mortar and pestle can be made from, and still be able to be cleaned out efficiently after use.  Make sure it is deep enough to use… shallow ones will tend to have whatever you are trying to grind pop out and make more of a nuisance than they are worth.
    I really like my malachite-green one — I don’t think it is REALLY malachite, but it is stoneware, and it may well be soapstone.  I got it ages ago, so I don’t really know.  (PS, I also have a dedicated “coffee” grinder that I can plug in, but I only use this for savory spices and never coffee — it is nice to have a mortar and pestle back up, too.)  But at the least — have one or the other.
    Source for the manual grinding mortar & pestle:  I don’t recall.

More gadgets in a month or three…

Meanwhile, this post has joined the Homestead Blog Hop, where it should have a good time.  The wine charms aren’t essential, but the other items in this post I find useful on a day to day basis!  

And then, let’s go have a Fiesta at Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Mara @ Put on Your Cake Pants and Hilda @ Along the Grapevine.  




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Beef Kidney Recipes (aka Got Kidneys?)

I was thawing out something from the freezer labeled Beef, but it didn’t say what cut of beef it was.  I figured it must be brisket, because it was about that shape and heft.  A very large brisket, but I could cook it up for multiple meals.

Nope.  Beef kidney.  Two of them, as a matter of fact.  From a grass fed local farmer back in Connecticut (whose business name, Blue Slope, was on the package).

Mind you, I’ve had and really like lamb kidney, but those puppies were small.  This particular mammalian filtration system is LARGE.

recipe, beef, kidney, steak and kidney pie, potato, breakfast, offal, dinner, mushroom

A steak and kidney pie, prior to placing the pastry crust over the top. One of four recipes here. (The other three are gluten-free.)

Since I’m not really certain how much my readership WANTS several posts on beef kidney recipes, I decided to combine them all into one big post of a few beef kidney recipes.  Feel free to move along… I’ll post something innocuous and less offal next week!

Yes, I could make the kidney into one big recipe and eat off it for several days, but I’m rather curious about different prep methods, so, why not explore that?

Kidney, and many other organ meats, are high in nutrients, vitamins and minerals, especially if you get your kidney from a responsible farmer.  After all, the kidney is a filtration unit, and I prefer to eat something that hasn’t been filtering out pesticides and other dreck.

One thing you will have to do is clean your kidney.  There’s this very thick, hard, white connective tissue that connects the various nobs of kidney to the rest of the kidney, and that has to go.  It is too tough and obnoxious to consider eating.  Use a SHARP paring knife.  Discard.  Even your dog won’t want this!  (Well, maybe he thinks he will…)  You may also sometimes find a membrane around the outer kidney itself… discard this, too. It pulls off very easily.

The Recipes:  (Color coded labels and photo text below)

A Paleo Potato Kidney Pie
Breakfast:  Kidney and Eggs
Kidney Stewed in Wine with Mushrooms and a Cream Sauce
Steak and Kidney Pie


For all the recipes, after you clean your kidney of that white hard stuff, rinse thoroughly until water runs clear, and then a bit more.  I did it by pouring it from a bowl using cold running water, and pouring it through a sieve, several times.

Just as a note, my kidneys came two in a pack.  One of mine weighed 850 grams before cleaning, 700 grams post cleaning.  I didn’t try to save every last speck of kidney, so in this case my loss was 150 grams.  Prep time for this stage (not included in the times below) is 5-10 minutes.  (My scale does read in both metric and the old British system, but it is much easier to read the metric.)

PS:  If you have gout, limit your servings of kidney (and of many other organ meats).

A Paleo Potato Kidney Pie

kidney, recipe, potato, paleo, pie, Whole 30

A serving of kidney potato pie


Prep Time: 15-20 minutes 
Cook Time:  1 hour
Rest Time:  5 minutes
Serves:  4

A Paleo Potato Kidney Pie

Source recipe:  http://www.bawarchi.com/recipe/the-original-kidney-pie-oes hvITajagfai.html

kidney, recipe, potato, paleo, pie, Whole 30

What’s left in the pan…

  • 500 grams / 1.1 pounds of beef kidney once cleaned up, see preparation method above.
  • 2  onions, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, bad spots removed, and optionally peeled, cut into thin rounds.  I use, as nearly always, Yukon golds.
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.  Save a little more for sprinkling over at the end.  
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup / 120 mL of water (or broth).
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt is to taste, adjust at the end.

Pre-heat oven to 425 F / 218 C.

Take the beef kidney and clean out the white connective hard fatty stuff, discarding that part.  Chop up the remaining kidney.  (Reserve anything over the 500 grams for another recipe… yes, to follow…)

Rinse several times in water, draining through a sieve, until the water runs clear, and then once or twice more.

Line an oven-ready buttered, ghee-d,  or oiled pan with a layer of sliced potatoes.

Melt the butter or ghee in a large skillet, medium temperature.

Add the kidney, onions, salt, pepper and tomatoes and mix well.  If you have that elusive mint powder, add this at the same time.  (And report back to me!)

Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer on low heat for 30 to 35 minutes.

Line an oven proof dish that you’ve wiped down with melted butter or cooking oil, with a layer of the sliced potatoes.

Transfer the cooked kidneys and their skillet compatriots onto to this layer of potato slices, using a slotted spoon. Cover the top with the remaining potato slices.  Reserve the leftover liquid…

Using some more butter or ghee… add dabs of this around on top of the potato slices.

Add a dash more Italian seasonings and salt as you wish.  Optional!

Bake for 20 minutes or until the that visible potato layer goes golden brown.

Serve, and top with some of that leftover liquid.

Allegedly, this is the original kidney pie.  It turns out to be gluten-free, and Paleo besides, so I figured to make this. Use ghee instead of butter for that Whole 30 effect.  I don’t have mint powder, but if you do and you make this, do let me know how that turns out.

kidney, recipe, potato, paleo, pie, Whole 30



Breakfast:  Kidney and Eggs

Breakfast, beef kidney, kidney, onion, egg, omelet, recipe
The omelet is folded, with onion, broccolini, Gouda, and ground pepper inside. The kidney is chopped with onion, ground pepper, ancho chili pepper, and a little salt.
Breakfast, beef kidney, kidney, onion, egg, omelet, recipe

Kidney close-up.

Prep Time:  10 minutes.
Cook Time: 20, max.  
Rest Time: Not needed. 
Serves:  1

Breakfast:  Kidney and Eggs

Source:  I was thinking Steak and Eggs… why not Kidney and Eggs?

  • 100 grams / 0.45 pounds of beef kidney once cleaned up, see preparation method above.
  • 2 ounces / 57 grams of diced onion.  Add another ounce or 25 or so grams  if you plan to have onion in your omelet
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL beef broth, low sodium.  
  • 2 eggs
  • Whatever else you want in your omelet:  I chose the aforementioned onion, some broccolini bits, chopped fine, and Gouda cheese, about half an ounce (not measured).
  • Avocado oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili pepper powder (or another mild/medium chili powder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop up the kidney finely, aim for about 1/4 inch fragments.  This will cook faster for a breakfast.  I find a scissors works better than a knife for this.

Cook the onion in a little oil in the skillet until just beginning to brown around some edges, about 10 minutes or so.  Remove any that you plan to put inside your omelet and set aside.

Add the kidney to the skillet with the onion, along with the seasonings.  Add the broth.  Stir occasionally for ten more minutes.  Remove from the skillet (minus any liquid) and set aside.

Either clean that skillet or start a fresh one – with my broccolini, I pan fried that for about five minutes, then removed the veggie to the reserved onion ounce from earlier.

Cook your omelet as you normally do, adding your ingredients for the omelet as you normally would.  Add any seasoning — I only added ground pepper.

Fold the omelet over, and add the kidney/onion mixture to the other half of the skillet, to re-heat.

When the omelet is ready, plate all and serve.

This recipe is also Paleo and Whole 30 (if one omits the cheese).

Kidney Stewed in Wine with Mushrooms and Cream Sauce


Prep Time: 2 hours to soak, about 10 minutes actual activity, and another 5 or 10 at the end.
Cook Time:  30-40 minutes
Rest Time: Not required
Serves:  2 or 3.

Kidney Stewed in Wine with Mushrooms and a Cream Sauce

Source Recipe:  The Good Cook: Variety Meats (Time-Life Books, 1982).

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos.  I took a couple but they were worse photos than usual.  Well, let’s face it, kidneys aren’t exactly the most photogenic organs on the planet!

  • 1/2 pound / 225 grams prepared beef kidney (see top of post), in 1/2 inch chunks or slices.  Actually it weighed a bit more… 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sliced button or crimini mushrooms (I used button)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1/2 cup / 120 mL dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup / 80 mL beef stock or low sodium packaged broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL heavy cream

_Pre-heat the oven to 350 F / 177 C.

Melt butter in a skillet, and pan fry the kidney pieces for a minute or so, on medium high heat.

Add mushrooms, salt and pepper.

Pan fry briefly, add brandy, allow to cook another minute (you can flambé it here, but I omitted that part).

Add the wine.  Once it comes to a boil, add the stock/broth.

Pop everything into a small casserole dish, cover, and place in oven.

Bake 30-40 minutes.

When the kidneys are ready, gently boil the cream in a small pan, pouring off the the juice from the kidneys and add to the cream.    Stir to prevent scalding, cooking quickly over high heat until the sauce thickens.

At that point, pour this mixture back over the kidneys, and serve.   I chose to serve with roasted cauliflower.


Steak and Kidney Pie

recipe, beef kidney, kidney, steak and kidney pie

Steak and Kidney pie, with Puff Pastry atop. Could have removed from oven about three minutes sooner. This was 30 minutes in my oven.  Do check at 25.

Steak and Kidney Pie – contains gluten

Recipe Sources:  Yes, from YouTube.  I took notes from both, and did what I decided I needed to do.  But I really wanted something akin to a traditional British steak and kidney pie, and ended up sourcing more from the first of these videos (both videos are indeed from cooks who are British).  Interestingly, the two books I had that discussed offal as their primary focus – neither gave me a Steak and Kidney Pie recipe, which I would have thought could have been definitive!

If you want crust under as well as over your pie, buy two pastry puffs.  Trying to limit my wheat here, I opted just for the over-cover here.  It was more than fine this way!

Prep Time: 
Cook Time:
Rest Time:

  • 1.25 pounds / 5.67 grams stewing beef, in 1/2 inch (around 12.5 mm) chunks more or less.  (no bones.)  Or thereabouts in weight.
  • 2 tablespoons butter (3 if you are stuck with the packaged beef stock). Divided.
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard.
  • 200 grams / 0.44 pounds prepared kidney (see above), about 1/2 inch chunks.
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped.
  • 2 stalks celery, chunked.
  • 1 carrot, chunked.  (You can use more, or none, but this is what I had.)
  • 300 mL / 1.25 cups or so of ale.  (For veracity, find a British ale, or even a Guinness.  This would have meant a 40 minute drive for me, just one direction; so I opted for the 15 minute drive… and settled for a local ale.  Besides, I had no way of knowing until I made the journey if they had a British brew or not.  I had quite the adventure finding a Spanish riojo wine there once…)
  • 2.5 cups / 600 mL meat stock/bone broth.  In a pinch, buy low sodium beef stock.  If you do, use the 3 tablespoons of butter!  (This is what I had to do.)
  • 2 -3 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce.  
  • A little oil for the pie proper.  
  • Some flour for rolling the puff pastry.
  • 14 ounces / 397 grams puff pastry.  You won’t use all of it, but this is the size it appears to be sold in, hereabouts.  But you may well use most.  (EDIT:  I discovered that some brands are sold as two sheets, 17.3 ounces/490 grams total, but the one sheet from Dufour was fine.)
  • 1 beaten egg

Preheat your oven to 325 F / 163 C.

Use a LARGE skillet, one that is also oven-safe.  Sauté the onion in about a teaspoon of that butter for about 15 minutes in a skillet, until translucent.  Do not go to a browning stage.  Remove from the skillet.

Brown your stewing meat, in divided batches so everything browns effectively.  Turn occasionally so all sides are browned.

Add in the kidney, all of any stewing meat that you’d already browned and set aside, and the onion again.   Add the mustard powder, and the ale.  AND the beef stock/bone broth.  Toss in the Worcestershire sauce, too.  Bring the mixture up to a boil.

Cover the skillet and place in the 325 F oven for two or two and a half hours (or transfer to some oven-safe pan you can cook at that temperature…)

Remove from oven, and if the meat seems too watery, you can simmer it down further on your cooktop at medium heat, for say 20 minutes, uncovered.  Watch to verify.

Allow to cool, and put in fridge until the fat solidifies on the dish (say about 4 hours).  Or, overnight.

Remove most of the fat.  You can leave some for flavor.

Preheat oven to 450 F / 232 C.

Take your puff pastry (typically it is sold frozen, and you need to let it thaw for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, up to two hours) and roll it out, on a clean flat surface you’ve dusted with flour, using a rolling pin or whatever works as a substitute.  Using your fingers, pinch any “breaks” together and smooth them as much as possible  The flour keeps things from sticking to that smooth, flat surface.  Anyhow, your pastry will expand… roll it to your desired thickness.

Cut a circle in the pastry you’ve rolled out, around the dimensions of your pie pan… the upper part.

Put the meat and onion mixture into your large pie pan, and let rest for 30 minutes to approximate room temperature.

I forgot to do this, but oil or butter the exposed upper edge of your pie pan, so the pastry doesn’t burn and adhere to that area.

Using a LARGE spatula and careful finger action, lift the pastry circle up, and lay it gently over the contents of the pie pan.  If done correctly, it should layer over the entire top and have edges hanging out a little.  Remove any excess that extends beyond the pan, but anything on top of the pan’s edge is fine.

Crimp down, using either the tines of a fork or your fingers.  Hey, I’m a newbie at puff pastry, I used my fingers.

Bake for 25 minutes at 450 F / 232 C.    Check for a good browning but not blackening of the pastry.   Adjust cooking time if necessary.

recipe, steak and kidney pie, beef kidney

I don’t own a rolling pin. This is my very first time ever working with puff pastry, and I had no idea what to expect with it. I may be savory more than sweet, but this stuff is fun! Pinch and smooth the creases together so they don’t break in the oven.

recipe, steak and kidney pie, puff pastry, beef kidney

I didn’t really succeed in getting that one bit at about 2:45 clock-wise on the pic to meld together. It ended up not mattering. Cut a layer that will cover your pie, gently pick it up (a large spatula will help), and, well, cover your pie.

Scott Rea had fun using some of the extra puff pastry to cut cow shapes into his dough.  I dragged out Mom’s old Christmas decorations, couldn’t find the star, but decided to use the tree for the same purpose.  He placed his cut outs on the pie, and I did the same.  Mine are not visible in my photos… A bit of fun, for no real outcome.  Okay.

recipe, puff pastry, steak and kidney pie, kidney

My first serving. I admit: I cut myself a second as soon as that was downed. GOOD is not even the word.

Verdict:  Wonderful, considering I’d never ever worked with puff pastry before.  I don’t even think Mom did puff pastry, and she baked more than I ever considered to think about.   The Brits invented a great dish in this Steak and Kidney Pie!  The kidney and all the other ingredients play off each other very well.

I’m game to do this again!!


Thoughts on Beef (or Veal) Kidney:

There’s a texture reminiscent of liver here, but still different enough that I enjoy kidney far more than I appreciate liver.  (Yes, there’s a place for liver, too, but I have to work harder on the texture…)

It is a highly nutritious food source, especially if you consider your sources of meat.  And, since I am an omnivore, it is probably for the best that I consider eating more than just the “standard” cuts of animals.

beef, Kidney, recipe, steak and kidney pie, paleo potato kidney pie, kidney breakfast, Kidney and mushroom

These recipes are hanging out at Fiesta Friday, with this week’s co-hosts:
Jenny @ Apply To Face Blog and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio

And are also hanging out at What’s for Dinner, Sunday Link Up.






Posted in Breakfast, Cooking, Meats, Mushrooms, Offal | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments