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Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

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Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine

The Lunch Lady Cookbook – Trout Amandine

Jolly Roger profile pic

 

Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy comin’ at ya, straight outta cyberspace and in your face with another sumptuous recipe from The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today’s recipe draws from a time honored culinary tradition that can be traced back to New Orleans and France. It’s trout season in New York State and the Lunch Laddy had the good fortune to be blessed with a monster filet of Lake Trout from Lake Ontario. It seemed only fitting that this wonderful fish be respected with special treatment. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is honored and proud to present to you Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine.

I actually received a bit of an education as I pondered this gustatory mystery. I found that I was one of the legions of kitchen hacks who misspelled the name of the recipe as “Trout Almondine” when it is actually spelled “Trout Amandine.” While I am no longer flexible enough to insert my foot in my mouth, I seem to be getting better and better when it comes to acknowledging my mistakes. So Mea Culpa. Trout Amandine it is then. Even though The Lunch Laddy is an old dog, he can still learn new tricks.

This recipe is pretty basic and there’s probably not much that is new and different from other Trout Amandine recipes, but it is new to me and thus, a new addition to The Lunch Lady Cookbook. The most important ingredients are fresh trout and almonds. This is NOT a recipe that would work by substituting fish sticks and beer nuts.

Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine

Here we go. Marinate filet of lake trout in fresh lime juice, salt and pepper for an hour or so. (Can be longer in the fridge) Lightly sauté chopped garlic and scallions in 2 tbs. butter. Dredge trout filet in flour and add to skillet. Brown both sides and lower heat to medium or lower. Cook each side for approximately 5 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer fish to plate and keep warm. Melt 2 more tbs. butter in skillet and sizzle away until it starts to turn brown. Add slivered almonds with cracked pepper and cook on low heat until crispy and brown. Pour over fish. Garnish with fresh herbs. The Lunch Laddy used curly parsley, chives and sweet basil from the Lunch Lady Herb Garden. Drizzle fresh lime juice and serve on fresh slices of lime with rice and vegetables.

photo 2
Before
Trout Amandine (1)
After

Beverage pairing: Bollicini 2014 from Damiani Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes.

Prosecco style, bottle fermented, sparkling wine with hints of citrus and pear. Weighing in at 1.85% residual sugar, Bollicini is clean, fresh, fruity, DELICIOUS! Serve really cold. To truly realize the medicinal qualities of this wine it is important that you drink all of it.

Music pairing: Drive By Truckers, Ryan Bingham and Old Crow Medicine Show on shuffle.

Until next time, Bon Apetit from The Lunch Lady Cookbook!

 

 

The Lunch Lady Cookbook – Chicken a la Fausto

The Lunch Lady Cookbook ~ Chicken a la Fausto

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races

Hey there Boys and Girls! This is The Lunch Laddy, comin’ at ya, straight outta cyberspace, with another, long overdue installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook.

I’ve been away for a while, but now I’m back and I’m bad; and bringing you a mouth watering recipe for a dish that has become a go-to in the Lunch Laddy’s cucina. It is my gustatory pleasure to present to you “Chicken a la Fausto!”

Even if you are vegetarian, or vegan, or gluten free, there are still plenty of delectable delights in this dish for you. Just avert your eyes during the chicken part. Why “a la Fausto?” you may ask? Well, my friends, THAT is an excellent question. It is named after an unforgettable character we knew who called himself by that name. He passed through our lives like a tornado a few years back. He was a drifter, a grifter, a classic flim flam man. He pretended to be many things. He claimed to be an Italian prince, a doctor, a professional photographer, an opera singer, a bicycle racer, a wine distributor and a luthier, among other things. He had a magnetic kind of charm, and very expensive tastes, but never seemed to have his credit card with him or any cash on him. There were also just too many inconsistencies in his convoluted stories and it soon became apparent he’d steal the shoes right off your feet if you’d let him. He was eventually banished from the kingdom and was last reported to be posing as a diamond merchant in Lower Manhattan. Good luck with that. However, he did leave behind a bit of a legacy by way of of a couple of really good, rustic recipes. One was a recipe for baked chicken and vegetables, which I named Chicken a la Fausto.

Here is the variation I made today for The Lunch Lady Cookbook.

Chicken a la Fausto

Place 4 chicken quarters in a baking dish. Season with Worcester Sauce, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, barbecue sauce. Tuck in brussels sprouts, yellow summer squash and top with sliced red onion. Oh yeah. Don’t forget. Pour a healthy dollop of dry red wine into the mix. It’s a colorful dish. You got yer basic flesh tones, complemented handsomely by red, yellow, and green, all in one dish. Pop into a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and voila ~ Chicken a la Fausto! Serve with salt potatoes on the side. Let rest and cover with aluminum foil (tin foil) which you can use to make a tin foil hat to wear while you watch Ancient Aliens after dinner.

Before
Before
After
After

Music pairing: Lazy, laconic, lilting tunes by The Be Good Tanyas, Gillian Welch and Eilen Jewel seemed to fit the mood of this early summer afternoon.

Beverage pairing: I recommend a sassy and splashy little Spanish red called Laya. Vintage 2014. A brash blend of garnacha tintorera and monastrelli grapes that yields a fruit bomb that explodes on your tongue like the 14.5% alcohol bad boy that it is. I have photographed it on my kitchen floor because I figure if you’re gonna end up on the floor, you may as well just start on the floor and stay there.

Beverage Pairing
Beverage pairing

In The Studio

In The Studio

Curve

An ongoing series of photographs documenting the work of Daniel Hoffman ~ Luthier

Maker Of Fine Concert Violins, Violas, and Violoncellos.

http://www.danielhoffmanluthier.com

Chisels

Chisels

Carving

Carving

Working Notes

Working Notes

West Wall

West Wall

Violin Player

Violin Player

The Lunch Lady Cookbook Pull No Punches Lasagna

Lunch Lady Cookbook Pull No Punches Lasagna

Cooking
Cooking

Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today we tackle the hearty, time honored fave, lasagna, with a Lunch Lady twist.

There’s nothing like this lasagna that gives school kids the kind of energy they need to tear through the afternoon and make life living Hell for the teachers. It’s brimming with oodles of complex carbohydrates and protein. One of Lunch Laddy’s friends is eating it right now to get ready for the New York City Marathon.

The switchboard is already lighting up with callers asking the question: Why is it named ‘Pull No Punches Lasagna’?  It’s because this dish pulls no punches. This dish gots it all baby; Italian hot sausage, hot peppers, hot spices and a comprehensive tour of the “Cheeses of Italia.” While this dish is not for the faint of heart or the lactose intolerant, if you recently passed your EKG and stress test before indulging in our Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese, you should be good to go. If you’re training for the lead role in the life story of the boxer Two Ton Tony Golento or the remake of Martin Scorcese’s Raging Bull, then this is the dish for you!

This makes one hellava mess in la cucina, and the Lunch Laddy’s kitchen looked like the aftermath of a drone strike, so it’s best to block off a couple hours just for the cleanup.

Pots and pans

 Mess

More mess

and More Mess

But don’t let that scare you off, because it’s worth it. So let’s get started right away. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present Lunch Lady Cookbook Pull No Punches Lasagna.

What you need:

  •  Lasagna noodles (1 package)
  • 4 Italian hot sausages
  • Red pepper
  • Sweet onion
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pasta sauce
  • Ricotta cheese (8 oz)
  • Mozzarella and provolone cheese (2 Cups)
  • Four Cheese Shred asiago, Fontina, Parmesan, Provolone (5 oz package)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sweet basil flakes
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Smoked paprika

How we do it peeples!

  •  Slice, dice, bend, spindle and mutilate hot sausage, sweet onion, red pepper and mushrooms
  • Brown hot sausage over low heat, then add onions, red pepper and mushrooms, stirring frequently
  • Boil pasta for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. It should be el dente
  • Cover the bottom of baking dish with tomato sauce
  • Add layer of lasagna pasta
  • Spread layer of ricotta cheese
  • Add layer of other cheeses
  • Cover with pasta sauce
  • Repeat
  • Top with final layer of pasta, cheeses and sauce
  • Garnish with spices
  • Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes
  • Turn off oven and let stand, covered, in warm oven for at least 60 minutes

LasagnaNow THAT’S Yummy for the Tummy Y’all!

Dessert:

Why not top it off with a bowl of your favorite leftovers from Halloween? There’s nothing quite like a handful of miniature candy bars to keep you buzzing for hours.

Dessert

 Wanna Stay Up All Night? Eat Some Of These!

Beverage pairing:

Valpolicella Amarone

An insouciant wine that doesn’t bite back. It floods the palate with imaginary explosions of velvety flavors and undercurrents and aftertastes of the Venice canals at low tide.

Music pairing:

The Be Good Tanyas station on Pandora. You’ll hear good stuff from them, Bon Iver, Natalie Merchant, Gillian Welch and others.

Until next time  ~ the is the Lunch Lady Cookbook signing off with mangia, mangia, tutti frutti and arrividerci!

Ciao!

Lunch Lady Cookbook Mumbo Jumbo Chicken Gumbo

Lunch Lady Cookbook Mumbo Jumbo Chicken Gumbo

Cooking
Cooking

Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddie, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. As the waning days of October bring crisp temperatures and frost on the pumpkin, it’s time we turn our attention to heartier fare while exploring a rich, multi-cultural tradition. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present Lunch Lady Cookbook Mumbo Jumbo Chicken Gumbo.

Folklore has it that gumbo originated in southern Louisiana in the 18th century. 18th century Louisiana was the ultimate cultural melting pot, so it seems fitting that this dish would be a melting pot in its own right. Gumbo is like a greatest hits album of ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including West African, French, Spanish, German, Choctaw and Public School Cafeterias. Gumbo shares much in common with other one-dish meals like stew, goulash, paella and bouillabaisse. The beauty of it is that there is no single “right” way of making it, you can’t mess it up and you can toss in just about any ingredient you want and call it gumbo. This helps make it a go-to dish for festive gatherings like Cajun fiddle contests, barn raisings and 7th grade lunch periods.

Ingredients

3 Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)

1 Green Pepper (large)

Green beans (from last nights dinner)

1 Onion (Large, sweet)

2 Scallions Baby carrots (Maybe a dozen or so ~ they’re little ~ after all, they’re only babies)

Red baby potatoes (Same as above)

Mushrooms (Ginormous handful)

Diced tomatoes (Fresh is good, but I used 2 8 oz cans)

Cream of Mushroom soup ( all purpose secret sauce)

Garlic ( 2 or 3 cloves ~ diced)

Worcester sauce (dash or 2)

Red wine (1/2 cup. Actually pour 2 cups, add 1/2 cup to the gumbo and chug the rest)

Sour cream

Romano cheese

Spices

Salt (freshly ground sea salt)

Pepper (freshly ground)

Red Pepper flakes

Garlic Powder (freshly ground)

Basil Flakes

Tumeric

Rosemary (just a pinch ~ this stuff can take over a dish)

Bay leaf (if ya got it)

How we do it:

Combine tomatoes, mushroom soup and about 2 cups of water in stock pot. Heat slowly.

Slice, dice, bend, spindle, mutilate and chop garlic, onion, green pepper, scallions and mushrooms.

Sauté lightly in olive oil (extra virgin please) over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Ease up on this part. You just want to give these veggies a jump start. Add to stock pot.

Slice, dice, bend, spindle, mutilate and chop potatoes and carrots and add to stock pot.

Slice, dice, bend, spindle, mutilate and chop chicken breasts.

Sauté lightly in olive oil (extra virgin please), garlic and Worcester sauce until brown.

Add spices at this point, turning chicken frequently until brown.

Add to stock pot. Cover and let simmer for up to four hours, stirring frequently while reciting voodoo incantations. (Although singing along to a good playlist is acceptable)

This dish is also an ideal candidate for slow cooking in the crock pot. Gumbo on Stove

 Hey genius! It fogs the lens when you hold the camera directly over a steaming vat of gumbo!

This dish can be ready eat sooner than that, but a long, slow simmer really gets the juices flowing and unlocks the flavor of the ingredients. Since watched pots never boil, this is a good time to throw in a load of laundry, split a pile of firewood and print out that manuscript you’ve been working on for the final proof read.

But for God’s sake, before you do any of these things, clean up that Godawful mess you’ve just made in the kitchen before Mom comes home!

Garnish with Romano cheese and sour cream and serve by itself or over rice. Crusty French bread is great for dipping and mopping the gumbo off your chin.

Musical Accompaniment:

Cajun music, of course. (Frankly, I’m surprised you had to ask) Anything by Clifton Chenier, Preston Frank, Walter Mouton and the original “Alligator man” Doug Kershaw will move this along in a lively manner. If you’re really ambitious, this is a great time to start to learn to play the Cajun accordion, or Cajun box as it is known. Just don’t drop it in the gumbo. Cajun Box Suggested Wine Pairing: This dish owes a lot to French Acadian and Cajun roots, so the Lunch Laddie’s preference is a robust and smooth French Rhone. A good friend of mine with a nose for wine once told me that a “good Rhone should taste like dirt!” In my opinion, this is the perfect wine for an earthy dish like gumbo. Gumbo and wine

For God’s sake man. Pour it in a glass. We’re not savages here!

So without further adieu, I must bid you au revoir. Until next time, this is The Lunch Laddie, Michael Gillan Maxwell signing off for The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Happy slurping!

The Lunch Lady Cookbook ~ A Midsummer’s Night Dream ~ Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

The Lunch Lady Cookbook

A Midsummer’s Night Dream  ~ Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
The Lunch Laddy at the Grill

Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a summer edition of The Lunch Lady Cookbook! It’s the season for running around naked in the back yard, chasing fireflies, dodging lightning bolts during thunderstorms and jumpin’ in the old swimmin’ hole (or the neighbor’s pool when they’re out of town!) And nothing says “summer” more than grillin’ & chillin’ and munchin’ on savory summer salads.

Today, the Lunch Laddy checks in with a sumptuous feast for a midsummer’s eve consisting of Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp, Avocado Salad With Fresh Garden Herbs, Coleslaw and the appropriate libations and musical accompaniment.

That’s enough pussy footin’ around. Without further adieu, The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present A Midsummer’s Night Dream ~ Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp.

As you know, The Lunch Laddy cut his teeth hangin’ with the home girl Lunch Ladies in their respective middle school cafeterias. Although Shrimp on the Barbie ~ Hey! Get your minds out of the gutter! We’re not talking about Ken’s relationship with Barbie here! That’s what they call it Down Under. No. That’s not what I mean either. We’re talkin’ about Australia here. OK. Go ahead and snicker all you want wise guy. I know where you live!

Ken & Barbie

Shrimp on the Barbie? Not!

Now, as I was saying, although Shrimp on the Barbie is not exactly a middle school cafeteria staple, The Lunch Laddy thinks it oughta be! It’s mindlessly simple and it’s good and good for ya!

Ingredients:

Jumbo Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

Lunch Laddy Sweet Honey Sauce

Raw Honey (Tablespoon)

Olive Oil (Tablespoon Extra Virgin, if you please)

Sweet Mustard (Tablespoon)

Garlic Powder

Sea Salt

Ground Red Pepper

How We Do It:

While the Barbie is heating up  ~ again, people, minds out the gutter?

Clean and de-vein shrimp (if you just hauled it out of the Gulf, you’ll need to do this) then peel shrimp and remove tail

(might as well get this all out of the way before grilling!)

Skewer, if you’re in the mood for poking stuff with a sharp stick

Combine honey, olive oil, mustard and spices and mix briskly

Brush coating of Lunch Laddy Sweet Honey Sauce on shrimp

Place on grill

Hey! Snap out of it! Either glowing coals or turn that puppy waaay down ~ You’re not working in a foundry here ~ this requires restraint and the delicate touch of a sensitive backyard grill chef. And this is no time to get caught up in swilling brewskies! Keep an eye on these guys, turning frequently and brushing with Lunch Laddy Sweet Honey Sauce. (While you’re at it, brush some on yourself too ~ Barbie will thank you for it later!) Shrimp is done when it turns pink and sauce starts to get a little crispy. A few minutes ~ tops!

Shrimp

Wild Texas Gulf Coast Shrimp

Lunch Laddy Avocado Salad With Fresh Garden Herbs

Ingredients:

Avocado

Tomato

Sweet Vidalia Onion

Spanish Olives w/Pimento

Fresh Lime

Basil

Chives

Olive Oil

Feta Cheese

How We Do It:

Dice avocado, tomato, and onion

Combine with juice from lime, olives, fresh basil & chives

Toss with olive oil and feta cheese

Serve chilled

Avocado Salad

Avocado Salad With Fresh Cut Garden Herbs

Coleslaw:

Ingredients:

Shredded cabbage

Shredded carrots

Mayonnaise

Olive oil

Honey

and a whole bunch of other stuff

How We Do It:

Combine bag of shredded cabbage and carrots with coleslaw sauce.

(Available in the fresh produce section of your local grocery store)

Did I mention ~ “mindlessly simple”?

Serve chilled.

Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw ~ The Cowboy Way

Libations:

Corona beer ~ Ice cold with a twist of lime

The Lunch Laddy’s not usually a fruity beer guy, but this is to die for. Unless you get the lime wedged in your esophagus, then it’s to die from.

Corona

Corona With Lime ~ No ~ You can’t Just Drink One

Musical Accompaniment:

Robert Earle Keane, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, James McMurtry & Jerry Jeff Walker for that Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother Wild Texas Gulf Coast vibe.

That about does it for this summer edition of The Lunch Lady Cookbook.

This is your Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell signing off and reminding you all to

hang in the shade, drink plenty of cerveza & most importantly

Be Cool ~ DON”T Stay in School!

The Lunch Lady Cookbook Summer Edition Sizzlin’ Summer Slam Extravaganza Volume I

Blues in the Bottle

Hey there everybody! This is The Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell, bringing you a special summer edition of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. As Alice Cooper said:” School’s out for summer!” Right? You know it Baby ~ and when school’s out, that means the Lunch Lady is chillin’ like a villain and gellin’ like a felon ~ but there are  still plenty of Lunch Lady doings to rant and rave about.

First of all, it’s been a scorcher. It’s as hot as a dockers armpit, so hot even my sweat is sweating, hot as a marathon runner’s jockstrap, sweating bullets and hotter than a two peckered billy goat, hotter than Hades and sweating like a stevedore, hotter than a hen in a wool blanket, hotter than a two dollar pistol, hotter than bus station chili, hotter’n a burnt boot, hot as Methodist Hell, hotter than the hinges hangin’ off the gates of Hell, oy it’s a schvittz out there!

Conflagration

Some of you have been writing me to say:”What gives Lunch Laddy? Who takes the summer off anymore? People gotta eat!” You have spoken and I am listening, good people. Not only do people gotta eat, but people gotta drink too. There may be some of that here in The Lunch Lady Cookbook Summer edition. Just you wait and see.

Summer Grill

Summer is the right time for the night time to fire up the grill! The coals should be just past the point of incinerating anything that comes near them. I always find it best to start with a humongous pyre on a spit of land that is surrounded on three sides by water. That way if things get out of control it greatly increases your odds of outrunning the conflagration, should things get out of hand and if that doesn’t work, you can dive into the water in any one of three directions. On Seneca Lake there are any number of wineries or microbreweries that you can swim to while you recover from the trauma.

Dusk on Fir Tree Point
Firing Up the Coals I
Firing Up the Coals II

So getting down to brass tacks. The Event of the Season was The Lunch Laddy’s “Lunch Lady Cookout for the Summer Babies” (which of course was a thinly veiled excuse to invite all my friends over to give me presents!) My oldest childhood friend, Mike (by that, I mean he’s 1 day older than me) flew out from Wisconsin so we could celebrate our birthdays together. Needless to say, our reunion set a new standard for civilized discourse and sophisticated entertaining for generations to come. It was ascots and cocktails at Noel Coward’s all the way..

English Butler
Basic Supplies
Fancy Hors D’oevres
Basic Munchies

The menu was replete with summer classics ~ all kinds of skewered stuff, flaming grills, blues, cold beer, watermelon, sweet corn, chicken spiedies, venison spiedies, shrimp on the barbie, summer salads a-go-go, carrot cake, banana bread, blueberry bread  and about 52 bottles of wine that my friend Jeff brought (what kind of man does he think I am anyway???) I served elegant hors-d’oeuvres on pirate themed dinnerware and we played ukeleles ‘till dawn. Thankfully no animals were injured in the making of that party. I even successfully navigated that most prosaic of summer dishes, but one who’s essence has eluded me ~the time honored, but very underestimated: “Potato Salad”

Lunch Lady Summer Slam Potato Salad

2 pounds eensie weensie itty bitty fresh red potatoes (no ~ don’t even THINK of skinning them!)

1 cup Spanish onion (finely chopped)

1/2 cup fresh celery (finely chopped)

3 scallions sliced diced signed sealed and delivered

Cilantro, basil and chives from the Lunch Lady’s Herb Garden

Pink Hawaiian Sea Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Mayonnaise (4 tablespoons ~ maybe more)

1 Tablespoon of hot, horseradish mustard

Steam potatoes until done ( not too done ~still a touch on the firm side ~ if potatoes could be ‘al dente” that would be it) Chill in fridge until cool. (or even cold)

Slice and dice ~ along with everything else on this list. (Watch your fingers)

Add together with mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.

Add spices liberally. (Season to taste)

Chill.

Serve on pirate themed dinnerware.

Pirate Themed Dinnerware
Pirate Themed Napkins

Beverage pairings:

9 bottles of wine ~ mostly Spanish Reserve Riojas

Ice cold beer

Grey Goose Vodka and Pomegranate Juice (it’s brimming with antioxidants)

What Kind of Man Do These People Think I Am?

Music pairing:

The Lunch Lady Summer Baby Birthday Mix

  1. Birthday     The Beatles
  2. The Stumble      Freddy King
  3. Treat Her Right Roy Head & The Traits
  4. Boogaloo Down Broadway     The Fantastic Johnny C
  5. Haunted House  Roy Buchanan
  6. Mr. Pitiful Otis Redding
  7. Barefootin’     Robert Parker
  8. Tramp     Otis Redding
  9. Knock On Wood  Sam and Dave
  10. Land Of 1000 Dances Wilson Pickett
  11. Cool Jerk The Capitols
  12. Nashville Cats The Lovin’ Spoonful
  13. Respect Aretha Franklin
  14. Soul Man Sam & Dave
  15. Walking the Dog Rufus Thomas
  16. Peter Gunn     Duane Eddy
  17. Rumble Link Wray
  18. Darlin’ Companion The Lovin’ Spoonful
  19. California Sun    The Rivieras
  20. Bad Boy The Beatles
  21. Lovin’ You    The Lovin’ Spoonful
  22. Polk Salad Annie    Tony Joe White
  23. Henry Thomas The Lovin’ Spoonful
  24. Six Days On the Road Dave Dudley
  25. (You’re The) Devil In Disguise Elvis Presley

Repeat as necessary then follow up with playing ukeleles ‘till dawn. It helps if you can pay your neighbors to leave town for the weekend. I think that’s one of the reasons I still have a squeaky clean criminal record. If you ever sleep over at my house there will always be a fresh kazoo next to your bed, in case of emergency.

That’s it for Vol.I ! Stay cool and keep it on the DL…..

Be back soon with:

The Lunch Lady Cookbook

Summer Edition Sizzlin’ Summer Slam Extravaganza ~ Volume II

(Spoiler alert ~ It involves 2 pounds of BACON!)

Happy Dance

Lunch Lady Cookbook ~ Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole

Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole

Cooking

Hey there boys and girls. This is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell, bringing you another recipe from The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today we have a dish that ranks right up there with the All-Time-All-Stars of Comfort Food – a time honored go-to – the venerable Tuna Casserole. I’ve been in many a school cafeteria where the Lunch Ladies were slingin’ Tuna Casserole and this actually is the first legitimate Lunch Lady staple to grace the pages of the Lunch Lady Cookbook. 

Lunch Lady Action Figure

This does come with a caveat  ~ a little tuna casserole goes a long way. Too much of a good thing could even lead to the disintegration of a relationship as depicted in article in the New York Times (April 7, 2012) that examined various reasons for divorce in England, which unlike every state in America does not have a no-fault divorce law. In one case “a man declared that his wife had maliciously and repeatedly served him his least favorite dish, tuna casserole.” A conservative approach relative to the frequency with which tuna casserole graces your dinner table will go a long way towards maintaining a peaceable kingdom. 

Kitchen

No question about it, tuna casserole is a prosaic working man’s special, to be sure. But this is no reason to throw in the towel and go totally lumpen proletariat. All it really takes to class up this dish a little is a little imagination with your spices and garnishes and your beverage and music pairings.  This Lunch Lady workhorse of a dish could be juiced up and spiced up in any number of ways, and this particular spin on Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole does incorporate one or two ingredients that might not be used in a typical Middle School cafeteria. So without further adieu, I present to you

~ LUNCH LADY TUNA CASSEROLE ~

Ingredients:

1 12 oz can of White Albacore Tuna in Water

1 Can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup

1 5.5 oz. Can V-8 Juice ~ (Psst! Secret ingredient. Good and good for you)

1 Package Frozen Sweet Peas

1 Small Spanish Onion ~ sliced & diced

1 Small Tomato ~ sliced & diced

1 Celery stalk ~ sliced and diced

1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

12 oz. Wide Egg Noodles Bistro Style

Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs

Worcester Sauce

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Powder

Red Pepper Flakes

Basil

Preparation:

Slice and dice fresh veggies.

Assemble your arsenal of spices, sauces and garnishes.

Boil the noodles ~ don’t over do this ~ better to prepare them “al dente” ~ they will cook more with the casserole.

Drain tuna. Feed tuna juice to your dogs and cats. They will love you with a white, hot passion for this.

Combine all ingredients in a 2 Qt. casserole dish, adding spices and a bit of the cheddar cheese intermittently as you gently stir together. Hold half of the tomato in reserve for topping.

Top with bread crumbs & rest of the cheese & tomato.

Bake covered on center rack of oven at 350 for 1 hour. Uncover for last 15 minutes if you like the topping a little crusty. 

Lunch Lady Tuna Casserole

Music Pairing

I dialed in a potpourri of songs from artists including Guy Clark, Old Crow Medicine Show, Steve Earle, Gillian Welch, Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, John Prine, June Carter Cash & others. Songs about working blokes, hopeless romantics, broken hearts, mercenaries,  moonshiners, orphans, vagabonds, drifters & dreamers, hard luck cases & whimsical goofballs. There’s even a gender bending sea chanty in there. These songs all have a familiar feeling. Even if you don’t know them, they somehow sound like songs you grew up listening to, songs that were the background of your lives. This became the foundation for a collection of tunes I burned to a CD and called 3 Chords & A Cloud Of Dust Collection Volume I. But I digress ……

3 Chords & A Cloud Of Dust Collection Volume I

Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show

Mystery Train Part II   Steve Earle

Dublin Blues               Guy Clark

Galway Girl               Steve Earle

Those Memories of You   Parton, Harris & Ronstadt

Souvenirs               John Prine

Shady Grove               Garcia, Grisman

Ring of Fire               June Carter Cash

Poor Man                         Old Crow Medicine Show

Orphan Girl               Gillian Welch

Paradise                          John Prine

L. A. Freeway                  Guy Clark

Mohammed’s Radio Warren Zevon

Old Shoes Tom Waits

That’s the Way the World Goes… John Prine

Handsome Cabin Boy Jerry Garcia, David Grisman

When I Paint My Masterpiece Bob Dylan

Fish and Whistle John Prine

Mercenary Song Steve Earle

I Was In The House … Warren Zevon

Tear My Still House Down Gillian Welch

Steel Guitar

BEVERAGE PAIRING

ITHACA NUT BROWN ALE ~ OF COURSE!!!!!

 

Ithaca Nut Brown Ale


Until next time ……

Bon appétit !

Lunch Lady Chicken Cacciatore

Lunch Lady Chicken Cacciatore

Cooking

Hey there everyone! This is Michael Gillan Maxwell, the Lunch Laddy coming to you from La Trattoria della Lunch Lady to bring you a sizzling new recipe from The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today’s recipe is a spin-off from a venerable Italian country cooking classic ~ Chicken Cacciatore. Original cacciatore recipes descended from a hunter’s stew made from fresh game and fresh seasonal herbs and veggies. Rabbit, wild onion, carrots, tomatoes and herbs were often the foundation for this dish, which was cooked over an open fire. Fire roasted wild rabbit is not exactly a staple in most American public school cafeterias these days, but I think you will like this variation on that theme, and you won’t have to go traipsing through the under brush like Elmer Fudd chasing “that silly wabbit.” It’s also mindlessly simple. Big plus point.

Elmer Fudd Hunting

So ~ without further adieu ~ I present to you:

 Lunch Lady Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

1 16 oz. Can Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic and Oregano

1 Spanish Onion – Sliced

2 Fresh Plum Tomatoes – Diced

1 Fresh Red Pepper

Parmesan Cheese

1 or 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic – Minced

Basil ~ Fresh (If you got it) otherwise Freeze-dried will have to do, I suppose)

Garlic Powder

Freshly Ground Sea Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper ~ although one of my close friends is allergic

~ you know who you are ~ so I won’t be using black pepper if you are amongst my guests!

Preparation

  • Slice, dice, mince, shred, tear, bend, spindle and mutilate fresh veggies, herbs and cheese.
  • Drain liquid from canned tomatoes into casserole dish.
  • Lay chicken breasts in there all nice and cozy. Squeeze ‘em in there, snug as a bug in a rug.
  • Season liberally. Don’t mince words and don’t be shy with the minced garlic. How much is too much? There’s no such thing as too much. It should be enough to repel an attack by a vampire. (Or a blind date that’s going badly)
  • Lay in the sliced and diced onion and tomatoes.
  • Add the canned diced tomatoes, spread evenly.
  • If you’re using fresh basil, tear and sprinkle over mixture.
  • Top with freshly shredded parmesan cheese.
  • Cover and bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Serve over pasta or rice. I used Tri-colored fusilli for it’s festive appearance.
  • Dracula Repulsed By Garlic

Music Pairing

Guitar freak that I am, the muse dictated that I create a “John Fahey” Pandora Station for this occasion.  John Fahey is an acoustic guitar god. He is kind of the grand daddy of acoustic guitar finger picking. The station features lush and pristine 6 and 12 string acoustic guitar solo playing from such masters as Leo Kottke, Norman Blake, Martin Simpson, Bert Jancsh and many others. There’s even some chicken pickin’ Tele playing from the late, great Roy Buchanan.

Steel Guitar

Beverage Pairing

Rioja

Cosme Palacio y Hermanos Rioja Reserva

To tell you the truth, I haven’t actually tasted this yet, but I have two bottles that are calling my name. It got a monster rating from Wine spectator, it’s very affordable, and looks and sounds totally munch-able. A good Spanish Rioja is hard to beat. My Spanish friends tell me you can drink a good  Rioja all day long. Sounds like that makes for an early night though. It goes down smooth and has an earthy quality, like a good French Rhone. As a friend of mine once said: “ A good Rhone should taste like dirt!” If that’s not a good selling point, I don’t know what is!

In closing, all that’s left to be said is Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!

Chicken Cacciatore

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