Monday, December 16, 2013

Boneless Rib Roast...quick, easy, delicious.



If you are a carnivore, Prime Rib is beyond tasty; and for my family, usually the staple of our Christmas dinner. But I (and by I, I clearly mean all of us) don't always want to wait to have it. On these days, I go hunting for a standing, boneless, rib roast. Just as yummy, less intimidating (because it doesn't have the bones), and slightly more affordable for a "normal" family dinner. In fact, Costco carries a great one.  As I've gone on about before, roasting is one of my favorite perks of cold weather...minimal prep, oven lag time where I am not in the kitchen cooking, and delicious, slow baked flavor. It doesn't get much better than that. And this? Well this, is a great way to add a different roast to your resume that is sure to impress and satisfy anyone... Including the family.

Ingredients:

Approx 3lb rib roast, boneless
Unsalted butter, slightly softened
Salt
Pepper
Granulated garlic


Directions

About 1 hour before roasting, remove roast from fridge. Unwrap and place in a heavy bottomed roasting pan. (If you intend on making beef gravy, make sure you use a pot that can go from oven to stove top).

Rub entire roast with butter. You aren't trying to coat the roast with butter, like you would with your Thanksgiving turkey, just adding a little extra flavor, fat, and a vehicle for a crispy, browned outside.

Liberally sprinkle salt, pepper, and granulated garlic on all sides of the roast. Remember this is a large cut of meat, and your are seasoning the whole piece of meat here... 1/4 teaspoon is nowhere near enough. Rub into meat.

Preheat oven to 450. After roast has sat out for an hour, place in oven.

Bake for 30 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Since I have little kids at home, when I am cooking a roast for the fam. I cook to medium well. Slightly pink in the center, browner on the outside. For this, I will continue to roast for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. 145 on an instant read thermometer. If you prefer a slightly less done meat, or are cooking for company, or Christmas dinner, try an additional 1 hour 15 minutes for medium rare, or 1 hour and 30 minutes for medium. However long you cook it, once you remove the roast from the oven, remove it from the pan, set it aside, and let it sit. For thirty minutes. No joke. This seals on all the juices that keep your roast tender, and flavorful. If you cut it too early, they will all seap out. Let it sit. 

I always plan what time I will be eating, and count backward from there. Dinner at 5:30? 30 minutes to sit. 1 hour and 30 minutes at 350. 30 minutes at 450. 1 hour out of the fridge. 3 and a half total hours. I pull that roast out of the fridge at 2pm, and go from there.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Company Carrots

This recipe has been in my family as long as I can remember.  If you've attended a Lister Family soirée or been a guest at one of the 16 Thanksgivings I've hosted, chances are you've not only tasted this dish, but have asked for the recipe by name...repeatedly (Andy, Jenn, Wendy, Marta, I'm looking at you and know I've totally slacked).

I don't know why it's called company carrots, other than it was always a dish my grandmother served for large dinner parties where inevitably, company was present.  Over the years that I've been making it, I've updated and (I'd like to think) improved upon it. I use more fresh ingredients and put it together in a slightly different way, while still maintaining the flavor and integrity of the dish that made it the beloved favorite that it remains today. 

Ingredients:

5 lbs of carrots, julienned
       (I use packaged baby carrots-- yes, I know they are not really baby carrots-- for two reasons. 1)    
       They are already peeled- and it saves extra work. 2) The length is the perfect size (which again
       saves extra cutting work) for julienning, all you have to do is slice them in half, and then in half 
       again one or two more times. And before you ask, yes... julienne is that important to the recipe. 
       It's what allows for the sauce to trickle down and flavor all the carrots, making each bite better 
       than the last.  I did it with whole carrots one time, only one time. The extra work is worth it. Trust 
       me!)

                            

3/4 cup of the liquid the carrots cooked in
1 cup Mayonnaise
3 TBSP prepared horseradish 
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white onion, minced 
Salt
1-2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves removed and diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter the inside of a 9x13 baking dish.

Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. Once boiling, add in carrots and cook until easily pierced by a fork. Approximately 10 minutes. Drain carrots, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. When carrots are dry, pour into baking dish.

In a separate bowl combine cooking liquid, mayo, onion, horseradish, mustard, and a pinch of salt. Mix with a fork until ingredients are combined. Spoon over carrots. 

Toss panko, parsley, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle mixture gently over the top of the carrots. You aren't trying to create a thick crust, instead just a layer similar to a dessert crumble. Drizzle melted butter butter over the top.

Bake 30-45 minutes, until panko is a golden brown. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Stock

I typically don't make my own stock. Ever. Even though I know how incredibly easy it is to do, I still find it easier to pop open a box top. Always.

Except when it comes to Thanksgiving. The key to my pan gravy is the flavor, and part of that key is making my own, fresh, homemade turkey stock. 

Which I do religiously, every Thanksgiving Eve.  Jamie comes home with the fresh turkey, and I make stock. Like clockwork.

Ingredients:

Turkey neck and giblets (I don't use the liver, but you? May feel free to do so if you choose)
8 cups of drinking water
3-4 carrots, lightly peeled and chopped in 4-6 pieces
4 celery stalks, chopped in 4-6 pieces
1 rosemary sprig
2 thyme sprigs
1/2  bunch of Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
1 TBSP whole black pepper corns
Large pinch of salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in large stockpot. Bring water to boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer 2 hours.

Strain ingredients using cheesecloth or other fine sieve. Refrigerate liquid overnight. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Wild Rice Salad


I first came up with this dish when I was coming up with additional sides for Thanksgiving... But let's be honest, you can use it for any occasion.  It's a great side dish and, since it's served cold, you can use it any time of the year. The only reason I've termed it "winter" is because of its colors... The red and the green play against the wild rice nicely.

Too be fair, it's not solely wild rice, I use a rice blend... However, you could use only wild rice if you wanted, and I think it would be just as pretty.  And definitely as tasty!

Ingredients:

1 cup wild rice
1 cup long grained white rice
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
4 cups of chicken stock (you can substitute vegetable stock to make a vegetarian version)
1 package of dried cranberries, chopped
6 green onions, white and light green part only, sliced
4 celery stems sliced and chopped
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves pulled and chopped
Juice and zest of one orange
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 TBSP Orange Marmalade
2 TBSP Dijon Marmalade
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic, and stir for one minute. Add in rice, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low, cover. Cook until rice has absorbed stock, between 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool.

In a separate bowl, whisk orange juice, zest, vinegar, marmalade, Dijon, and oil. 

Add half of dressing to rice, and let sit overnight. 

Before serving, add cranberries, onions, celery and parsley to rice. Taste and add salt and pepper, and additional dressing as needed to taste.

Compound Herb Butter

Compound butter is a Fancy Nancy way of saying butter with stuff in it. It's sounds a lot more involved than it actually is. Making it is not complicated whatsoever.  But don't let it's simplicity fool you. It's this little, uncomplicated, butter that lends its flavor to all of the things that make Thanksgiving taste like Thanksgiving.

This particular compound butter I make the night before Thanksgiving.  I flavor it with the same herbs I use to roast my turkey, the same herbs I use to season my homemade turkey stock, and it's these same herbs that will flavor my pan gravy... Because this butter? Is what gets it all started.

I use this butter to coat the turkey; all over the top of the skin to help brown it, under the skin to keep the meat moist, and in the cavity to create flavorful drippings.  I use this butter, as it's melting, to baste the turkey throughout its roasting time. And finally? It's this butter, after the turkey has finished roasting and it's picked up every last morsel of flavor, that I use as the fat to form the base of my pan gravy.

Because this butter? Is the mainstay of my Thanksgiving. 

Ingredients:

1 lb (4 sticks) of butter, softened
1 bunch of rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves stripped, and chopped
1 bunch of thyme, leaves stripped


Once butter is soft enough to be malleable, in a large bowl, use your hands to mix in fresh herbs with butter. Knead until evenly combined. Shape into a rough cylinder and wrap with Saran Wrap. 

Refrigerate overnight. 

Hamentaschen

I can't guarantee that Hamentaschen is a real word, or even a real cookie. What I am sure of, is how delicious these cookies are. Hamentaschen is what my Dad called them, when he would whip these little morsels out, so forevermore Hamentaschen is what they will be to me.

What they will be to you, is a tender cookie, rolled flat, filled with fruit, and popped in your mouth one after another. 

Whatever you want to call them, you'll love them. This? I can guarantee.

My dad said they were traditionally filled with prunes or poppy seeds, but he always filled them with an apricot mixture. When I first started making these as a Thanksgiving complement, I also created a Cran-raspberry flavor. I loved how the cookies looked with vibrant orange and red fruit poking out of the middle; playing off both the colors and the flavors of the Holiday. My favorite is the apricot... try them both and see what you think. Either way, you'll find them delicious.

For the dough...

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla paste
Zest of one orange 
Juice of one orange
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour (up to 1 additional cup may be necessary)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

In an electric mixer, cream eggs and sugar. Add oil, vanilla, juice and zest. Mix until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups of flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add to wet ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, blending on low until incorporated. Add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough reaches the constancy of sugar cookie dough-- moist, but not sticky.

Roll dough out on a generously floured surface.  Approximately 3/16" thick. Using a 4" diameter cookie cutter, or wide-mouth glass, cut dough into rounds and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each round. Fold three edges of the cookie together, leaving only a portion of the center uncovered, and pinch the ends together.


When finished you will have created about two dozen triangular shaped cookies, highlighting the filling in the middle.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until just barely golden brown.

For the filling...

Ingredients:

Apricot

1 package of dried apricots
Water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract

Cran-Rasp

1 package of dried cranberries
2 TBSP Raspberry jam
Water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract 

Directions:

Place dried fruit in a sauce pan. Add just enough water to cover the top of the fruit. Simmer slowly over low heat, until the fruit has softened enough to mush together. Stir frequently while waiting,mad you don't want toe fruit to burn. If the fruit hasn't softened, yet all the water has been absorbed, add more water in 1/4 cup increments. Once the fruit has reached the consistency of a thick jam, whisk in sugar, extract, and jam (if called for). 







Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul


It's been a rough couple of weeks. Multiple surgeries, illnesses passed back and forth, and lots of sick days.

So what's a mom to do? Make homemade chicken soup, of course.

I make a lot of soup. I roast a lot of chickens. What follows, is the most basic combo of them all... traditional chicken soup for the sick soul. 

In a tradition chicken soup, the kind grandma used to make, a whole chicken would be simmered for hours in water with vegetables and herbs.  After hours of slow cooking, although a delicious broth would develop, you might find the meat and vegetables to be lacking in taste-- after all, it was their flavor that leeched out into the water during the cooking process to create that great broth.

But my chicken soup? It's a little bit different. By using the same aromatic herbs and vegetables to roast my chicken beforehand, that I will use again as ingredients in my soup, I lock all the flavors inside the meat, and preserve the taste of each individual vegetable. The pan drippings are incorporated into the broth to further intensify the flavor. The result? A perfect cure for whatever ails you.


Roast Chicken for Soup

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, 6lbs
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
10 sprigs of thyme
1/2 bunch Italian Parsley
1 large yellow onion, cut into eights
4 celery stalks, cut into 4 pieces each
4 carrots, cut into 4 pieces each
1/2 cup chicken stock

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 400. Rub butter all over chicken, thoroughly coating the inside of the cavity as well. Generously salt and pepper both the inside and outside of the bird.  Stuff the inside of the bird with 2 thyme sprigs, 1 garlic clove, 4 parsley sprigs, and an equal amount of carrots, celery, and onions. Scatter the rest of the vegetables in the bottom of a deep roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, and chicken stock. Place chicken on top of vegetables, breast side up.

Roast for 90 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.

Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

Meat from a whole chicken, removed from bones, and torn into bite sized pieces
Cooking liquid reserved and strained from chicken roasted as above
Extra Virgin olive oil
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 small leeks, halved and sliced, using only the white and light green parts
2 cups baby carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1 small celery heart, top and bottom trimmed, chopped
The leaves of 10 thyme sprigs
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves removed
4-6 cups of chicken stock
2 cups egg noodles
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil. Once ripples appear, sauté onions until just softened. Add leeks, garlic, carrots, celery, and fresh herbs, sauté. 



When all veggies are slightly tender, add reserved liquid from the roasted chicken. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of chicken stock, and bring liquid to a boil. Add egg noodles, amd turn heat back to low. Simmer for 10 more minutes, and add chicken once noodles are tender. At this point, depending on the type of noodles used, and the yield of liquid from your roast chicken, it may be necessary to add in more chicken broth.  I prefer a heartier soup, as it's simply easier for the kids to eat.  My husband prefers lots of broth.  Let your preference be the key, and add as little or as much as you would like, remembering that it might be a different amount each time you make the soup, depending on how 'juicy' your chicken was.  Add salt and pepper to taste. After adding liquid, bring soup to a boil once again, return to simmer, and serve.  Since flavor was developed during roasting, you don't need to spend as much time on the stove developing it, and this soup will be ready much faster than it's counterparts.



The Thanksgiving Collective

In case you haven't heard? Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. FA. VOR. ITE. 

What's not to love? Food, family and friends. And lots of them.

Over the last 16 years that I have been hosting Thanksgiving we've had anywhere from 4 to 40 people sitting at out table and sharing our food. To me, that is the whole point of the holiday, sharing a day and food with your your favorite people. Being surrounded by everything and everyone that you love, throughout a long and lazy day.  To that end we have always had a open door, open table policy.  

Thanksgiving is not just my favorite holiday, in my mind, it's the holiday.  I want my kids to remember Thanksgiving at home, to return to Thanksgiving bringing with them their friends and their families time after time, and most importantly to salivate over the tastes throughout the year.  

I'm all about creating food memories for my children, tying favorite foods and tastes to certain experiences. Enriching those experiences by fostering a love and appreciation of food. 

Thanksgiving is no different. I go back to the same flavors and dishes year after year that my grandmother cooked for our family Thanksgivings. The flavors and dishes that I associate with Thanksgiving. The ones that I salivate over throughout the year.  My overall menu never changes, as each dish is conceived to compliment its counterparts, with the same basic dishes being the starting point for each year's feast. What does change, is the number of additional sides I will add each year depending on our number of guests.  All these additional dishes continue to enhance the overall meal profile, yet are not missed if one is not hosting quite so large a gathering. Conversely, these "extra" dishes will also compliment any Thanksgiving meal, and will be well received anywhere you might choose to bring them.

Thanksgiving Menu

Breakfast


Appetizers

Pickles, olives, toasted French rounds

Main

Compound Herb Butter
Turkey Stock
Turkey
Pan Gravy
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Company Carrots
Potato Rolls
Orange-Cranberry Sauce

Extras

Wild Rice Winter Salad
Corn Salad
Creamed Peas
Roasted Veggie Panzanilla Salad

Dessert

Chocolate Cream Pie
Apricot and Cran-Rasp Hamentaschen Cookies




Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pulled Pork

                          

Two summers ago, I made it my mission to create the perfect ribs.  From the right rub, to cooking method, I was aiming to create ribs the fell off the bone and had people clambering for more. It took all summer, and several arm burns to get it right. We ate A. Lot. of ribs that summer. But, it was worth it. I now have the perfect rib recipe, and it gets rave reviews all the time.

I've been using the same principals to come up with a pulled pork recipe I can be proud of.  I've tried the slow cooker (which I'm not a big fan of to begin with), different cuts of pork-- the shoulder and butt, and different cooking techniques. Nothing resulted in port that was tender enough to shreds with a fork, or that tasted full of the flavor I wanted.  

That is, until last night. Each week, I order a selection of fresh, local, and organic fruits and vegetables from Specialty Produce. Added on are meats, cheeses, seafood, and pasta all from local purveyors.  Each week is different depend on what was butchered, caught, and grown-- so you never know exactly what you are going to get- just that it's delicious.

In my box this week were four thick center-cut, bone-in pork chops. I thought I had ordered 6, but was mistaken, so needed to create something that would go far enough to feed all six of us. We also had Italian sandwich rolls in the box, and thus the idea of once again attempting pulled pro sounded like a great fix. I'd never attempted it with pork chops before- so I wasn't too sure how it would turn out.  Boy was I pleasantly surprised... The result was melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

Ingredients

4 bone-in, center-cut, pork chops
1/4 cup sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 T white pepper
A sweet BBQ sauce (I used Stonewall Kitchen Bourbon Molasses BBQ Sauce); divided use.
4 cups (1 box) Chicken Stock

Directions

Combine sugar, pepper, and salt. Place pork chops in a deep, oven safe, baking dish. Rub both sides of each chop with the mixture. Using about 1 Tbsp per chop, rub BBQ sauce into both sides of chops. Save remaining BBQ sauce for later use. Cover baking dish with tin foil, and let sit in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove dish from fridge. Pour chicken stock into baking dish-- it should just cover all chops. Recover with tin foil, sealing all edges. Place on middle rack in oven. Bake for 3 1/2 hours.

Remove from oven. Pull out chops and place in a bowl.  Be careful as meat will be super tender and fall off the bone as you do so. Remove bones, and discard. Using tongs, or forks, shred meat. Add 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and the remainder of unused BBQ sauce, and mix. 

Voila! Perfect pulled pork.

Now, I just need to spend the remainder of this summer coming up with my own sweet and savory BBQ sauce and this (and my rib) recipe will be perfect.
     



Friday, April 12, 2013

Creamy polenta

Polenta, grits, cornmeal... Whatever you want to call it, it's delicious! Polenta is made from ground corn, or cornmeal... Added to boiling liquid, stirred a lot, and flavored. You can make it however you like, with whatever flavor profiles suit your need best. Below is a very basic polenta recipe--feel free to jazz it up with fresh herbs, change the cooking liquid, eliminate the butter, add flavored oils, etc.

This is a very basic, very creamy, very savory, very fattening version. It's the one I tend to use if I am using polenta as a compliment to a dish, rather than a main course.  It's also a very large recipe. When I make it, I portion out that nights servings, and then refrigerate the rest in a jelly roll pan to set overnight. I then either bake or fry the leftovers in portions (use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes, or circles) and have crispy polenta cakes.

Ingredients:

1 lb of polenta
8 cups of chicken Stock
1 cup of cream
1/2 cup of butter
Salt
White pepper

Directions:

In a large stock pot bring chicken stock to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and whisk in polenta a little at a time. Once all polenta has been added, stir in butter and cream. Stirring frequently, leave on low heat for 20-30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately as polenta will harden as it sits...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Potatoes formally known as Ginger

We are huge on holiday food traditions around here. I love making the same things, once a year, and know that my kids have come to love and associate certain dishes with specific holidays. I incorporate dishes my grandmother made with dishes I especially love, and we end up with a smattering of holiday fav's.

This particular dish was my grandmother's, or rather her friend Ginger's. At least that's what I am assuming because my grandmother always made them, and they were always known as "Ginger's potatoes." I've 'moderned' them up a bit... making them a little bit fresher, and removing a lot of the processed ingredients...Because of this, they've become similar to an au gratin potato and could certainly be used in the place of, for any occasion that calls for them. Note that I removed some processed ingredients, but NOT the fat... this is not a diet conscious recipe.

Ingredients:

6 russet potatoes, peeled, diced, and thrust in lightly salted ice water until use
2 yellow or orange bell peppers, diced (can be omitted)
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBS butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 sticks of butter, melted (reserve 1/4 cup for second use)
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 cups of panko bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Melt 1 TBS butter over medium heat. Sautee onions, garlic, and peppers until just soft. Drain potatoes, and add to pan. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine melted butter (reserving 1/4 cup for later use), shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chicken stock. This will look like one big mess, but don't worry. Add potato/pepper mixture to bowl and combine. Pour ingredients into a 9x13 baking dish. Cover top with panko crumbs and drizzle reserved butter over the top.

Cover with tin foil and bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes. Remove tin foil and continue baking for 15 minutes, until panko is golden brown.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Baked Salmon

Marinade Ingredients:

1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 cup of honey

For the Salmon, you can either use a large side of salmon (like I tend to do) or portion out a number of fillets. The marinade will work for either.

1/4 cup of butter, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Whisk together marinade ingredients. 

Preheat oven to 400. Salt and pepper all sides of the salmon. Place in a large baking dish (I used a 9 x 13 below). Pour whisked marinade over salmon. It should come up to the sides, but not completely cover the fish. 

Place the slices of butter on top of your salmon. One on each fillet (if you are using fillets).  



Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes. 

* To make non-dairy, rub extra virgin olive oil over each piece of salmon, or the entire side, and then salt and pepper each piece. Omit butter.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Homemade Bread

Nothing smells better than fresh bread baking in the oven. And nothing tastes better than ripping a big hunk of that bread apart and eating it while it's still warm. I love baking my own bread, although these days, it takes more than just one loaf to satisfy all six of us.  Here's my favorite, most basic, bread recipe.

Ingredients:

2 tsp Active Dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cup warm water
3 1/2 cups of bread flour
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Directions:

In an electric mixing bowl, using a ball-bearing whisk, mix yeast, sugar and 1/3 cup of warm water. Set out until doubles in size and yeast is activated-- about 5 minutes.

Whisk in salt and 1 1/4 cups of water. Add flour. Using a dough hook, mix on medium speed in your electric mixer... 5 minutes. Dough should be gathered on the hook, and relatively sticky to touch. Remove dough, and coat the mixing bowl with extra virgin olive oil. Replace dough. Cover bowl loosely with a kitchen towel. Let sit for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Line a baking pan with parchment, and sprinkle bread flour on it. Remove dough from bowl, and press out any air onto the baking pan. Shape dough into a rough loaf, or circle... depending on what you want your bread to look like. Let sit for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400. Bake bread for 45 minutes. You want the bread to be golden brown, but not burnt.

Best if served immediately, but will last up to 3 days. But trust me... you won't be able to keep it around that long.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

This is one of those recipes, where I (gasp) use not only a canned ingredient, but also a packed flavoring for salad dressing. So NOT like me, but I've yet to find a better substitute even in fresh ingredients... there's just something about this flavor combination that makes this salad WORK. So please, forgive me, and hold your critique until you taste it.

Ingredients:

Salad:
2 Panko crusted sesame chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 head of Napa Cabbage, core removed and shredded thin
2 TBS sesame seeds
1 package of Oriental Flavor Top Ramen Noodles
2 TBS slivered almonds
1 cup edamame (shelled)
1 English cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 large can of mandarin oranges
6 green onions, sliced

Directions:

Salad:
Pre-heat oven to 400. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Crumble the ramen noodles (do NOT cook) into bite sized pieces on the baking sheet.  Toss noodles with sesame seeds and slivered almonds. Bake until golden brown, just about 10 minutes, but watch them carefully! They will go from golden brown to burnt in a few seconds.  Let cool.

In a large bowl mix cabbage, chicken, edamame, cucumber, onions, and oranges. When cooled, add toasted ingredients. Toss with tongs.


Dressing:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable or grape seed oil
Oriental flavoring package from the Top Ramen
2 TBS sugar

Combine ingredients in a bowl or container that has a lid. Close and shake to combine. This will make more dressing than you need, so toss a little bit at a time with the salad until cabbage is just glistening.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Panko Crusted Sesame Chicken




This is a really simple recipe with only 4 ingredients... but they all work together to create a new taste sensation. It's easy to do, not as heavy as traditional breaded chicken, and is a huge hit around here.

Ingredients:
2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp salt
6-8 chicken breasts, pounded
Sesame Oil

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat enough sesame oil to fully cover (and then some) a large pan. On a large paper plate mix panko and salt. Coat each individual chicken breast with panko, using your hands to press the panko onto the chicken. 


Once oil is rippling, place chicken breasts into it. You may need to work in batches, so that you don't over crowd the pan, re-coating the pan with sesame oil each time. You should hear a sizzle, if you don't your oil is not hot enough. Heat chicken on one side until you can see the sides start to turn white, and it becomes easy to turn. Flip chicken over. Cook for a few more minutes until panko is a golden brown.


Remove chicken from pan and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.  Continue cooking all chicken breasts this way until they have all been browned. Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes-- until the chicken is cooked through. Serve.

Soy-butter glazed carrots

When I was pregnant, I ate a lot of carrots. A. Lot. But, because I'm crazy, I tried to limit the amount of my intake due to naturally occurring nitrates in the carrots (told you... C.R.A.Z.Y). When my kids were born, I made my own baby food from scratch... for all four. However, the only food I did not make from scratch, but chose to purchase, was pureed carrots. Every book I read said that when you puree your own carrots, you are unable leach out all of the nitrates, and I certainly didn't want to risk any extra nitrate consumption, when it was otherwise avoidable. 

Regardless of how and why I limited my intake, my kids are obsessed with carrots. They like to have them, A. LOT. These days I am less concerned about naturally occurring nitrate intake, and more concerned about the realistic fear that they might turn orange. I also like carrots, but these days, I find I need to switch it up a little bit, so we (I) don't always have them the same way. 

Ingredients:

6 cups of julienned carrots
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 TBS of salted butter
1 tsp sugar


Directions:

Bring a large stock pot of salted water to boil. Once a rolling boil is achieved, blanch your carrots in the water until just tender... about 7 minutes. (Technically not a true blanch, since you are leaving them in longer than a minute... but you don't want them to take on any extra water, or become too mushy). Remove from water and drain. Empty pan of water and return to stove. On low, melt the butter and whisk in soy sauce and sugar. Return carrots to pan, and stir until sauce coats them all. Cook on low for 5 minutes. Remove and serve. 






Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beef Stew


Ingredients:

2 lbs cubed stew meat
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 TBS salted butter
5 sprigs of Rosemary
1 1/2 cups of Red Wine (I use Merlot)
1 large yellow onion, chopped in large pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
5 ribs of celery, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups of beef stock
1 1/2 TBS of tomato paste, divided use.

Directions:

Cover the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil. Heat on high. In a ziplock baggie, combine 1/4 cup flour, salt and pepper. Add stew meat to baggie and shake, to coat minimally, with flour mixture. You are not trying to completely coat all meat, just to get a little bit of them covered. Don't be alarmed if you are left with extra flour.

When oil starts to smoke, working in batches, layer the bottom of your dutch oven with beef. Slightly brown beef on two sides. You don't want to cook the meat, so do this quickly. You also don't want to over crowd your pan, as that will cause less browning and more cooking. Remove browned beef to sit in a large plate or glass pan. (You want something that will allow you to catch all the juices that run out.

Pre-heat oven to 300. Once beef is browned and removed from the pan, lower heat to medium. Melt butter in the pan. Add in rosemary and red wine. Whisk to bring up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring wine to boil, then reduce heat.  Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add onion, tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes and garlic. When onions start to soften, add browned beef and any juices that have accumulated. Pour in beef stock, and stir. Add in 1/2 TBS of tomato paste, and stir until incorporated. Place pan into the oven.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Add in the rest of the tomato paste, stirring, and taste for salt and pepper. Add as necessary.   Return to the oven and bake for an additional 1 1/2 hours.

I served mine in bowls with biscuits the first night, and on the second reheated in a 350 oven for 25 minutes in bread bowls. Simply scoop out the top and inside of bread, butter and salt the inside of the bread, and fill with stew. Place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet on a middle rack.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Roasted Chicken Soup with Rice

If you, like me, have young kids, knowing how to make your own chicken soup is a must. I make a traditional chicken noodle from scratch (which I'll share at a later date), but I also make a roasted version, with rice, anytime I roast chickens this way.  This recipe starts, when you pull your chicken out of the oven, and have removed it from the roasting pan to sit.

Ingredients:

1 chicken, roasted and meat removed in small pieces.
Pan drippings from roasting
3 large sprigs of thyme
6 rosemary sprigs
5 ribs of celery diced in small pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup of long grain white rice
7 cups of chicken stock.
Juice of one lemon.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Strain the liquid from your roasting pan, into a large dutch oven. 


Add in herbs and turn heat to medium. You don't need to remove the leaves, as they will fall off the stems during cooking. When your soup is done, simply remove them before serving.


Add in chopped vegetables, salt and pepper, and stir. Cook until softened. 


Add 6 cups of chicken stock, and bring liquid to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to simmer, and add the cup of rinsed rice. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add in chicken meat, torn into bite sized pieces. Add lemon juice, and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes. Remove herb stems and serve.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Basic Roast Chicken



We have roast chicken almost every week. It's easy, you can make it a variety of ways, and it's a family favorite. But what I love most about roasting chicken is how it lends itself greatly to many other great recipes. Broth, gravy, tetrazini, enchiladas, chicken noodle soup, and many other great foods all start with roast chicken... All that changes is how you season it. When I roast chicken, I know we'll be enjoying it in at least two different ways throughout the week.

The recipe that follows is the most simple of flavor profiles. I roast it this way when I want to serve it with gravy over mashed potatoes, make chicken soup for sickies, or keep on hand for sandwiches.

Ingredients:

2 large whole chickens for roasting
2 large white onions, halved and quartered
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
8 ribs of celery, cut into four pieces each
8 carrots, peeled and cut into four pieces each
Handful of Italian parsley
8 sprigs of rosemary
10 sprigs of thyme
Olive oil
Salt 
Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Remove any giblets from the inside of your chickens. Generously coat the inside of each bird with olive oil, salt and pepper. Stuff each cavity with a few sprigs of parsley, rosemary, thyme, four pieces each of onion, carrots, celery, and 2 garlic cloves. Spread the remaining herbs and vegetables on the bottom of a large heavy bottomed roasting pan. Place chickens in the pan, breast side down. Coat chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. Flip chickens over and repeat on breast side. Place a leave-in-thermometer behind the thigh, and roast to 170. (About 1 1/2 hours). Remove chicken from the pan and place on a cutting board to rest for 20-30 minutes. Carve and serve. Or, remove chicken from bone and use elsewhere.




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Avocado Aioli

Ingredients:

Avocado
1/2 cup mayo
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:
Scoop out the avocado flesh into a metal bowl. Add mayo, lemon, salt, and garlic. Mash together using the back of a fork, until ingredients completely combined.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sugared Strawberries



Sugaring fruit, and letting it sit, helps it to release it's natural juices. (It's similar to salting eggplant or cucumbers to  release excess water). I use this recipe for strawberries, over everything. Shortcake, vanilla ice cream, vanilla pudding, and tonight? Over Pancakes for dinner.

Ingredients

1 basket of fresh strawberries
1 1/2 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Stem and slice your strawberries. Sprinkle sugar over them, and add almond extract. Gently mix to coat all strawberries. Set in the refrigerator to chill and juice, at least 1 hour before serving, no more than 4. Serve.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Au Jus

This is a basic Au Jus that can be adapted after cooking any type of roast, utilizing the brown bits and flavor that accumulate at the bottom of your roasting dish. After cooking, remove the roast from the baking dish, and set aside to rest.

Ingredients:

4TBS of butter
1 TBS of flour
1 cup of red wine
3 cups of beef stock

Directions:

Melt 4 TBS of butter in the roasting pan. Whisk in 1 TBS of flour on high heat for at least 3 minutes. You want to do this at a relatively high heat, whisking the entire time, to make sure you cook out the taste of flour. Add in the red wine, whisking to bring up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom from the roasting process. Add in beef broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Whisking frequently, allow liquid to reduce, about 30 minutes. The au jus should be thick, but still more liquid than gravy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Simple Prime Rib

Ingredients:

3-4 bone prime rib
2 TBS fresh Thyme leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 clove of garlic

Directions:

When ordering your prime rib from the butcher, have them remove the bones, and then tie them back to the roast. The bones act as a natural roasting rack, and provide extra flavor to the roast and for Yorkshire Pudding, or Au Ju, should you choose to make them at the same time. By having them removed before cooking, you make the carving process easier without losing the flavor.

When cooking any type of meat, it is best to cook using a meat thermometer. You want to cook to the correct temperature  v/s a specific time. It's the only way to ensure the meat reaches the level of doneness you prefer. For a rare roast you are looking for an internal temp of 125, 135 for medium rare, and 140 for medium. Because a roast will continue to cook once removed from the oven, and you want to let it sit for 30 minutes, it's done when it reaches 5 degrees BEFORE your desired temp. Remove it at 120, 130, or 135 respectively.

Preheat Oven to 450. Peel the garlic clove, and rub over entire roast. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rub olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves over the roast. Be generous, this is a large piece of meat and keep in mind you are seasoning the entire piece. Place in an oven safe roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes at 450, to sear in the flavor. Turn the heat down to 350. If you don't have a meat thermometer, or you want a basic time guideline, figure 15 minutes per pound for medium-rare (the typical Prime Rib is served at this temp).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Risotto Bolognese


I love spaghetti sauce. I love pasta. But sometimes? I don't want them both together. That's where this dish comes from. A great pasta alternative. The flavors in this risotto not only mimic the flavors in the bolognese, but also compliment them. A yin to a yang, if you will. Plus, I love risotto... any way I can get it. (And yes, if you want to, you could serve this bolognese over pasta... But I'm telling you, after you have it like this? You may not want to.)

Bolognese

Ingredients:

4 Tbs butter
6 ribs of celery, tops and bottoms trimmed, chopped
2 handfuls of baby carrots (about 40), sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 oz ham, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
28 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can puréed tomatoes
1 tsp tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter in a large stock pot. When melted add in onions, celery, carrots and garlic.


Sauté vegetables until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in ham and sauté for 5 more minutesX. Add in ground beef and two pinches of salt, breaking meat up with a skillet, stirring frequently. When meat is cooked through add tomatoes, purée, tomato paste, wine, and broth.  Bring sauce to a boil. When boiling, turn heat down to medium. At this point it will look like there is too much liquid, don't fret it will reduce down. in the picture below, you can see the line of where the sauce started, and how far down it reduced in just 20 minutes of cooking.


Simmer for 30-40 minutes, about as long as it will take you to make the risotto, stirring frequently.  Season to taste before serving.

Risotto

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4oz ham, chopped
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
7 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 sprigs of Italian parsley, leaves removed and chopped
Salt to taste

Directions:

Pour stock into a large stock pot, heat on low.  In a large rounded sauce pan melt butter. Sauté ham, onions and garlic until softened. 


Add in rice, and stir until rice starts to brown. Add wine, stirring until fully incorporated. The key to a creamy risotto (which, by the way, refers to the method of cooking and NOT the rice itself) is to stir, stir, and stir again. You want to add in a little bit of warm liquid, sir until its fully absorbed by the rice, and then add some more. You don't want to add too much liquid, just enough to barely cover the rice (see picture below). Be patient, and your patience will reward you with super creamy risotto!


Once the broth has all been absorbed, whisk in the cream and parsley. Your risotto should be creamy, but not runny. Salt to taste. Ladle a generous amount onto a plate, making a crater in the center. Spoon bolognese in to center, and serve together. 

This makes a lot! If you don't have as many mouths to feed, and you don't want lots of leftovers, you can halve the recipe and it will work just as nicely.

Also, this can be made dairy free by using olive oil in place of butter, and omitting the cream... However, if you can have dairy, I suggest leaving it as is. It may not be the most figure flattering recipe, but it more than makes up for the extra calories by taste!

Roasted Brussels


Brussels, Brussels, and more Brussels. We are a Brussel Sprout family. In order to satiate all of our brussel craving, it takes at least four bags of brussel sprouts per meal. And even then, someone (usually me, since everyone else has no shame in stealing them off my plate, while I'm up getting something for someone else) is never feeling like they had enough...

I do a version of them like this quite often, but today I'm going to talk about simply roasting them. It's a lot easier than you might think... the hardest thing about brussel sprouts is the time it takes to prep them. First off, the smaller the sprout, the more tender and sweet it is. To make cleaning/prepping a little easier, what I do is cut of the very bottom of the stem (this removes a little of their bitterness), and then slice them in half from top to bottom. When you do it like this, you will see that their outer leaves will just fall off, saving you the hassle of peeling the outer layer. It also allows some of the inner leaves to fall off, and/or separate from the base of the sprout-- which you want, if like me you are partial to the crispy leaves created by roasting. The crispy leaves are my favorite part about roasting brussels... it's almost like a kale chip in consistency.

A big mistake that people make when cooking brussel sprouts, is not salting them a lot. The salt helps counter the bitterness and, just like the sprout's cousin the cabbage, salt really brings out the flavor.

To roast, preheat your oven to 425. You want a higher oven temp to help crisp them up. But don't worry, they won't get too crispy, the insides will be nice and tender-- and, if you don't want them crispy, you can follow the same steps, just lower your oven to 400.

After you've prepped your brussels, toss them in extra virgin oil, salt (use a heavy hand like mentioned above), and pepper. pour them out on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes. That's it. That's all there is to it. Don't be afraid to play around with the length of cooking time, to get the level of crispy/tenderness you desire. And most of all, enjoy them!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Steakhouse Chop Salad

Sad, but true... I tend to judge a steakhouse not only by it's quality of meat, but also by the vegetables it offers. I'm a true carnivore, but I need some greens to go with it. This is my version of one of my favorites. It calls for iceberg lettuce and I am quite aware that as lettuce goes there is no redeeming health benefit, however... Iceberg allows the other flavors of the salad to shine, and makes a nod to the other great steakhouse salad... the wedge. The dressing is sweet, spicy, and tart, as are the ingredients... it's sure to be a favorite of yours, as it is of mine.

Ingredients:


Dressing
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 small garlic clove, smashed and minced
3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt


Salad
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped into approximately 1/4 inch square pieces.
1 large, firm, beef steak tomato, chopped
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 hearts of palm, rinsed with outer layer removed and only the most inner part chopped. You can find them in a jar, usually near artichoke hearts and olives.

1 shallot, minced

Directions

Dressing
In a small bowl, combine garlic, sugar, salt, mustard, and vinegar. Whisk together to fully incorporate ingredients. Once combined, while whisking, slowly add in the olive oil in a slow and steady stream. This will help to hold the dressing together.

Salad
In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together. Pour dressing over all, and toss to full coat. Serve immediately.