Friday, June 27, 2008

Fantastic Friday Night Treats at Schneider's Restaurant

This past Friday night my wife, my daughter and I took part in one of my favorite summer activities: enjoying an ice cream concoction featuring Schneider's Restaurant homemade ice cream. The Jersey Shore is filled with home made ice cream places and i think I may do an end of the summer tour of some of my favorites. However, Schneider's has a special place in my heart, because my folks used to have a summer home in Avon by the Sea, NJ, where Schneider's is located. In addition to enjoying the beautiful beach on weekends and during our vacation at Grandma and Grandpa's house, regular visits to Schnediers was part of the schedule. Back then Schneider's had an ice cream stand next to their main restaurant where folks would line up for their delicious treats.

Today that stand is gone but their great ice cream is served inside their main restaurant. In addition to ice cream Schneider's is famous for home made German, Austrian and Hungarian food. If you want authentic food following the traditional recipes of this region Schneider's is one of the last remaining places at the shore you can find these items of the menu. I have had the Weinerschnitzel at Schneider's which is excellent--thin, light and crispy as it should be. I have also enjoyed Schneider's golden brown potato pancakes and their wurst sampler which is a platter of bratwurst, knockwurst, red cabbage and home made German potato salad. Other regional dishes on the menu include sauerbraten, pickled herring in sour cream, and Hungarian goulash. If you are in the mood for regional cuisine, you can find the usual menu items: burgers, sandwiches, fresh fish, etc.

We visited Schneider's on Friday not for the great food, but for their fantastic "fountain treats" as they call them. As I already mentioned, the ice cream at Schneider's is homemade. It is high in butter fat content and has a fantastic creaminess to it. Their are a couple of flavors that are Schneider's exclusives such as meatloaf, which is a base of chocolate ice cream loaded with maple walnuts, chocolate chips and other goodies. It is my wife's favorite. Cherry chocolate, peanut butter chunk and cherries jubilee are other Schneider's originals.

Schneider's makes fantastic concoctions built on their ice cream. My wife ordered a hot fudge sundae. Their sundaes are generous and topped off with freshly whipped heavy cream and homemade cookie. My daughter had a waffle with ladled ice cream. This is one of the signature items on Schneider's ice cream menu as far as I am concerned. It starts with a freshly baked waffle. Then the waffle is covered from edge to edge with two flavors of ice cream. It is big enough to share and so I ordered an ice cream soda and glommed a couple of bites of my daughter's waffle. I have recently discovered that there are people who do not know what an ice cream soda is. It starts with something that New Yorkers call an egg cream. This is seltzer water blended with chocolate syrup and a bit of milk. To transform an egg cream into an ice cream soda, Schneider's add a couple of scoops of ice cream (I chose chocolate) and then tops is off with more of that rich freshly whipped cream and a cherry.

What more could you as for on a warm night in early summer. Next time you head to the beach take a trip to Schnedier's. Make sure you leave room for ice cream


Quick and Delicious Tomato Sausage Pasta Sauce

I am not adverse to opening up a jar of good quality Pasta sauce from time to time. In fact a company that sells mostly in our New York metro area, Victoria, has a better vodka sauce than anything homemade I have tasted. That being said, it so easy to whip up a quick tomato sauce that unless I am really pressed for time I usually will throw something together. That is exactly what I did yesterday and I have a new favorite quick sauce. I wanted to do a meat sauce, but I only had large portions of ground beef in the freezer, but I did have a small package of sweet Italian sausage, so I took the sausage meat out of the casing and fried it up like ground beef. I then added it to the quick tomato sauce and the result was bellissimo. I have some left over that I am going to enjoy for lunch today.

Quick and Delicious Tomato Sausage Pasta Sauce

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion diced
4 cloves garlic
1 medium carrot grated
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 t. fresh thyme
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage removed from the casing
salt and pepper to taste

Sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil. Add the carrots, tomatoes and thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Brown the sausage meat, drain of excess fat and crumble the meat. Add to the tomato sauce. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta with grated Parmesan cheese.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Keeping Busy

House Hubbie's Home Cooking has been idle for a couple of days, but the house hubbie has not. I have been working on a blog project that has been on the back burners for about a year. It is called Nana and Pa's Place. It is a labor of love in celebration of my wife's big Norwegian American family. The vision I have for it is that it will be a gathering place for people that are connected either as family or friends to Nana an Pa Noding, the couple who started the American branch of the Noding family when they arrived in the USA in the twenties, drove cross country in a Model T (pictured above) and drove back to settle in West Orange, NJ. (That's the short version of the story). I had the idea to do this last year when almost the entire gang gathered on Cape Cod for the wedding of my wife's nephew. I had been working on my family's genealogy and decided it would be great to map out all the descendants of Nana and Pa (there are almost 200 hundred of them). I used a program called Family Tree Maker and the Ancestry website for my own family and used the same for the Nodings. When I got to the Cape I discovered that several other people where working on the family history and we had the idea of a central place we could compare notes. It is a little long in coming, but since I will see many of the clan members over the 4th of July weekend, I wanted to have something to show them.

By the way, I have a couple of great new recipes to post in the next couple of days, so stay tuned!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Norwegian Style Cucumber Dill Salad

Cucumbers were on sale at the market yesterday, so I made one of my favorite summer salads. I keep it pretty simple, but just taking a couple of extra steps make this salad special. First, I do not peel the cucumbers, rather I score them with a fork or this special tool my wife got when she was a Pampered Chef consultant. If you buy cucumbers that have wax on them to make them shiny, you can keep the skin on by washing the cukes well with a grease cutting dish detergent and hot water, otherwise you will have to peel them.

Another step I take is to crisp up the cukes and get some of the water out of them by salting them well and letting them sit in a colander for an hour or so. Don't skip this step, it makes a difference in the final product.

Finally, if you have fresh dill available, use it. It is the dill that makes this "Norwegian style". You can use other fresh herbs such as mint which will give it a Middle Eastern twist, flat leaf parsley, or oregano, which will give it a Greek twist. Don't use any herbs if they are dry rather than fresh.

My last trick is to make the dish at a day before serving. Although you can eat it right away, allowing it to steep in the dressing and herbs, causes the flavors to develop and meld together.

Norwegian Style Cucumber Dill Salad

4 unwaxed cucumbers
1 medium onion
1 t. salt

Score cucumbers, slice thin. Slice onions thin. Mix in salt and allow to stand in colander for several hours.

1 c. white vinegar
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
a few twist of the pepper mill
1 T of fresh dill, chopped

Mix together the vinegar, sugar, water and pepper. Rinse the cuke mixture to remove some of the of the salt. Add to vinegar mixture. Add fresh dill. Refrigerate until service.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nathan's: Gourmet Fast Food At a Garden State Parkway Rest Stop

Yesterday we drove round trip to take my son and his friend to the camp in New Hampshire that he is working at for the summer. We got to New Jersey and the beginning of the Garden State Parkway just in time for the Friday night shore traffic.

Since our ninety mile trip on the parkway would probably take us two and a half hours or more with the traffic we decided to stop for dinner at the northern most Garden State Parkway rest stop. For those of you whose roads don't have such things, let me explain that New Jersey toll roads have these rest stop that include bathroom facilities, a store, recent immigrant guys selling sun glasses from kiosks, ATM machines and food courts.

The two nicest rest stops are the Montvale rest stop at mile post 171 and the Cheesquake rest stop at miles post 123. We stopped at the Montvale rest stop and were interested primarily in the food court. I decided to get supper from Nathan's.

Nathan's is that famous hot dog stand in Coney Island where the world famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating contest is held. Of course through the magic of franchising and branding there are Nathan's places in malls, rest stops and many other places. You can also buy Nathan's hot dogs and condiments in many grocery stores. New Yorkers and New Jerseyites take their hot dogs very seriously. (I have blogged about the wiener wars going on in the town that I grew up in. You can read about it here.) What makes the dogs around here great is that they are usually all beef and they always have a natural casing that splits when you cook them and snaps when you bite into them. Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs are one of the best examples of the high quality New York metro dog.

What gets me really excited about eating at Nathan's though, are their fries. Being the carbo king that I am, of course I have an opinion about Nathan's fries. I am inclined to agree with those that claim that Nathan's fries are some of the best in the business. Nathan's fries are pretty unique. They are made from fresh potatoes and they are "krinkle cut" into thick chunks of starchy goodness. I have a theory that the really great road food places like Nathan's have a "starter fat" that is kind of like a sour dough starter from the original oil fat that is passed around to the company's expanding universe, because all fries from Nathan's share a uniquely delicious Nathan's flavor. You can have your fries with cheese sauce or with chili sauce, but being the boardwalk prowler that I am, I have mine with malt vinegar and ketchup.

Next time you are riding on the Garden State Parkway stop at one of the Nathan's in a rest stop for some delicious Garden State Parkway gourmet fast food.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Heading to New Hampshire

The family is getting on the road early to head to New Hampshire today. We are dropping my son and his friend off to Camp Spofford were my youngest son will work on staff in the kitchen.

We usually stop and eat on the road but with the high cost of fuel we are going on the cheap. I picked up a bag of Manhattan Bagels. They are not quite the real thing, but they are the closest thing we have around here to real New York bagels unless you head to the Hasidic section of of the town next to us.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Car Trouble

About three weeks ago my son totaled our green Ford Fiesta ZX5. We loved that car and it was the car my daughter planned to take to college next year. We drive a Dodge mini-van and a giant V8 Dodge conversion van, which is on its last legs. Neither are great on gas. We got a decent insurance settlement for the Ford Fiesta and gave a down payment to a guy to get us a decent used car at an auction in our area. No luck yet.

It seems like the four dollar plus price of gas is taking its toll on the used car market. You can buy all kinds of trucks, SUVs, and the like for not a lot of money, but small used fuel efficient cars are as scarce as hens teeth. So we are waiting and shopping and praying for the right vehicle.

I am wondering if Canada is far ahead of us with a plan to move their population toward energy efficiency. I read on the Canadian Finance Guy's, Investing My Way to Financial Freedom, about his purchase of a green automobile and the incentives the Canadian Government offers in his post entitled Eco Auto Rebate.

To bad NJ or the Federal government doesn't have something similar. About two thousand bucks more than the settlement would do the trick for us.

Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Pilaf

I had a side dish like this for the first time way back in the 80's when our family lived in Kearny, NJ. I had it at this great restaurant called The Park and Orchard. It is a great "whole foods" restaurant. I enjoyed the dish so much that I created my own version which has become a standard. Last night we had this with pan roasted shrimp and zucchini. Wheat berries are kind of an unusual ingredient. They are simply whole kernals of wheat. They should be soaked before cooking unless you want to cook the dish for an hour or more. They add a toothsome nuttiness to the pilaf.

Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Pilaf

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup of soft white wheat berries
1 cup of brown rice
2 cups good quality vegetable broth
1 cup water
salt, pepper, fresh herbs to taste

Soak the wheat berries overnight or boil in small amount of water, let stand off the heat for 2 hours.

Sweat onion in the oil until they are transparent. Add the wheat berries, rice, stock and water. Bring to a boil, stir, turn down heat to low, cover pan and cook for 35-45 minutes until rice and wheat are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Taste and add seasonsings.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tortellini with Turkey, Tomatoes and Brocolli

I needed something quick and easy last night so I made this dish. I don't usually use prepared foods, but I did last night to save time and because the prepared Perdue Turkey Breast was on sale. I adapted the recipe from one that was on the package. It turned out really good. My vegetarian son is home from college for the summer so I was able to scoop out a serving of the pasta and veggies before adding the meat.

1 package Perdue Shortcuts Turkey Breast
1 lb. bag of cheese tortellini
2 T. olive oil
2 heads of broccoli cut into florets (about 1 lb)
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of tomatoes drained and diced.
about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water
1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. butter
salt and pepper

Prepare the tortellini in boiling water. Be sure not to overcook.

Heat olive in skillet. Add the broccoli and cook until bright green. Add the garlic and cook, but do not allow it to brown. Add the tomatoes and the pasta cooking water. Cover and cook until broccoli is almost tender. Remove cover and add the tortellini. Continue cooking until liquid is almost evaporated. Add the cheese and the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the turkey and heat through just before serving.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Grow Your Blog by Learning From Successful Bloggers

I have two goals in blogging. One is to have fun and find an outlet for my creative expressions. House Hubbie's Home Cookin' is a great way to do this. I have another blog that is connected to the small church in Toms River, NJ that I pastor that serves a similar purpose. As a stay at home Dad with two kids in college, the second purpose is to generate additional streams of income by writing and blogging. I have been trying to figure out how to "monetize" my blog and there are all kinds of helps on the web.

I recently found a blog entitled called "Free Advertising Suggestions". It is written by a guys who offers all kinds of suggestions freely from the lessons he has learned in life. This guy mantains a couple of blogs in addition to this one and has learned some lessons about how to grow his blog. I found this post entitled, "Blog Presentation Tips" particularly helpful. If you are interested in growing you blog readership, I would suggest that you it out.

The Best Pizza at the New Jersey Shore

I am a pizza lover. I love the thin, slightly charred crust pizza that New Jersey is famous for. In my town there must be fifteen or twenty pizzerias. Just about every pizzeria is great for a quick slice with a coke for lunch, but in our area there are a couple of places that are true standouts. Today I would like to write about my favorite pizzas at the New Jersey Shore.

When I am hungry for pizza at home, I get mine delivered from Pyro Pizza. It is located in the plaza at 515 Brick Boulevard, near the Top Tomato Italian Market. Pyro Pizza is famous for their gourmet pizza and the two that I like best are their Chicken Parmesan Pizza and their Italian Sausage with Browned Onions Pizza. It is great stuff.

When I am in the mood for something special, it is a toss up between my two favorite pizzerias in the world: Vic's in Bradley Beach, NJ and Pete and Eldas (AKA Carmine' Pizzeria) in Neptune City, NJ. I grew up eating Vic's Pizza as a kid spending my summers in Ocean Grove, NJ and then in high school I discovered the pleasures of the paper thin crust Pete and Eldas pie.

Vic's pizza is distinguished by a thin, crispy and slightly charred crust. Their sauce is homemade and very garlicky. The place has been run by the same family forever and it hasn't been redecorated since it opened. It is a hugely popular place and on a weekend night after 5:30 be prepared to wait, even during the off season. My favorite pie to eat at Vic's is their signature green pepper and sausage pie. The peppers are sliced thin and the sausage is lump sausage without the casing. My mouth water's just writing about it! Another treat to have at Vic's is their garlic bread. They serve little rounds of Italian bread loaded with olive oil, fresh minced garlic and toasted in the pizza oven.

Pete and Eldas Bar and Carmines Pizzaria is another Jersey Shore institution. It is always packed with college kids, families and weekenders. Everyone is lining up for their famous paper thin crust pizza. The crust on these pies is very unique. It is thin and flaky and crunches when you bite into it. I usually just go for the regular pie. One of the unique offers that this place has is a free t-shirt for anyone who eats an extra large pie by themselves. Trying for the t-shirt is a Jersey Shore right of passage. My kids have earned a few of them over the years. There is pretty cool gallery of t-shirts on the web you might want to check out.

When I get pizza at the Seaside Boardwalk, there are two pizzerias that compete for my affection. One is Maruca's Tomatoe Pies and the other is the pizza from the Sawmill.

Maruca's is one of the original pizza stands on the Seaside boardwalk and they are have recently begun selling franchises. There is now a Maruca's right in my home town of Brick. I haven't tried the Brick store yet, but it is on my list. I have to say, though, that for me Maruca's mean the boardwalk. Maruca's is a pretty unique pie in the way that it is constructed. The cheese is put down first and then the sauce i poured on in a signature spiral. You always know you are eating a Maruca's pie by the way it looks.

For shear volume pizza eating at the boards, Sawmill does the trick. At the Sawmill you can eat at a table outside or go inside. The Sawmill is a bar and music venue, but for me they are the destination for a fairly inexpensive tasty fill up. A Sawmill pie is huge. However, it is also a great tasting thin crust pie that pushes all the right pizza lover buttons. My family and my friend Matt's family usually take an annual jaunt to the Seaside Park end of Seaside's famous boardwalk to enjoy the Sawmill experience.

I have heard that because of the price of gas and the general economic slowdown we are experiencing that lots of folks are coming to the Jersey Shore this summer. The parkway traffic bears this weekend bears this out. So if a trip to the shore is in your plans, be sure to check out one of the great Jersey Shore pizza places. You'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spinach with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

Here is another recipe which I cooked today to use the rest of our bumper crop of spinach.

About 8 cups of spinach leaves with stems removed and rinsed to remove sand.
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 T red wine vinegar
1 t brown sugar
salt and pepper

Sweat the garlic in the EVOO. Toast the pine nut in the same pan watching them carefully so they do not burn. Wash the spinach and add it to the pan while still slightly damp. Add the golden raisins and the red wine vinegar and the brown sugar. Stir together. Cook over low heat with pan covered until all the spinach is just wilted and has turned a vibrant green. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

How To Supreme Citrus Fruit

Since I my previous recipe called for the citrus fruit to be supremed, I thought I would share this instructive video from updowngroupfood on how to do this technique.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Spinach Salad with Fresh Citrus and Pecans

I have a boatload of fresh spinach from the garden my vegetarian son maintains in our backyard. I was looking for a spinach salad recipe and came across this one from Taste of Home via Foodbuzz. I didn't have all the ingredients so I adapted it with what I had on hand and it came out very well. My vegetarian son gave it two thumbs up. I used the Taste of Home dressing recipe but added the juice from the fresh citrus I substituted for the mandarin oranges. I also substituted pecans for the almonds and skipped the sugaring step. I omitted the romaine and substituted shallots for the green onions. Give it try. I hope you enjoy it.

Spinach Salad w/ Fresh Citrus and Pecans

7 cups fresh spinach washed with tough stems removed.
2 fresh oranges, supremed
1 fresh grapefruit, supremed
(reserve juice from citrus)
3/4 cups pecans
2 minced shallots


1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
reserved juice from citrus
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients for the dressing and whisk until sugar dissolves and dressing is well blended.

Combine all the salad ingredients. Pour dressing on salad until spinach leaves are just coated. Serve reserved dressing with the salad for those who like more.