Showing posts with label beef/turkey/chicken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beef/turkey/chicken. Show all posts

Monday, October 26, 2009

Matzo Ball Soup

I’ve missed you! Sorry I’ve been away for over a month—I was busy getting hitched! Now that I have solidified the deal with the love of my life, I return happily and nesting in my lil urban kitchen. Since I married a nice Jewish boy, I thought it only fitting to post my first recipe back as a married woman, his favorite, Matzo Ball Soup. It is so easy to make, and anyone can do it.

There are two kinds of matzo ball soup lovers, I’ve come to realize. The first kind is the “purist.” They like their soup simple and refined: a clear, fragrant chicken broth ladled lovingly over 2 or 3 light and fluffy matzo balls. The second group likes heavy, hockey puck-style matzo balls with lots of veggies in the soup. Just by the description I think you can see I am of the former camp (delicate broth, fluffy matzo balls).

Just between us, you can make this soup any night of the week in just a few minutes, but it is the same quality soup of the old-school grandma variety. Honest. For real. There is a secret...All you have to do is make a big old batch of stock (you can even make your stock in a crock pot) and keep it in the freezer in quart-sized bags. When you are ready for your soup, you heat up a bag o' broth, throw in the balls, and simmer. Voila, in just a half hour, your kitchen has been transported back in time to a grandma’s kitchen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, circa 1923. Flapper Food. :)

And flu season? Not a chance with this all-powerful defense in the house!


Matzo Balls
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chicken stock or seltzer

For soup
2 to 3 quarts prepared chicken stock (recipe below)
1 carrot, thinly sliced
A few sprigs of dill (optional)
[If you are in a time pinch, you can also use 2-3 quarts of stock in a box. I like Manischevitz brand low-sodium chicken broth]

With a fork, mix all matzo ball ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

Bring 1 1/2 quarts of well-salted water to a boil in a medium sized pot.
Reduce the flame. Wet your hands. Roll 1-inch-balls of matzo dough in the palm of your hands loosely. Drop the balls into the simmering salt water one at a time. Lower the heat, cover the pot and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meaniwhile, bring chicken stock and sliced carrot to a simmer in a separate pot.* When matzos are done cooking, you can spoon them into the stock.

With a slotted spoon, place 2-3 matzo balls into a serving bowl, and gently ladle the soup over that. Garnish with dill if you like. Eat it up and have then seconds!

*If you are fighting a cold or flu, throw in 2-3 whole, peeled garlic cloves along with the carrot slices. Feel free to eat the garlic cloves if you are particularly brave or particularly sick, or if you are a garlic lover like my husband. 

Chicken Stock

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds chicken necks, backs and wings
3 celery ribs, cut into big chunks
3 carrots, scrubbed and cut into big chunks
2 parsnips, scrubbed and cut into big chunks
2 onions, unpeeled and quartered
1 head garlic, cut horizontally in half
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 quarts cold water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large soup pot. Skim the top of any foam. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer peacefully for 2-3 hours.

Pour stock through a pasta strainer into a large bowl. Allow to cool, and fill quart-sized freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months, or store the stock in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Roast Beef with Wine Sauce

Oh hello CROCK POT baby, you loyal, dependable, always-on-my-side Friend-O-Mine. Yeah.

I love that I can put you in the back of my cabinet, forget about you for months, but then when we see each other again, it’s like we were hanging out just yesterday. Nothing’s changed. I can count on you to always be the same. You never let me down. You are always there to help. You make my life easier. You don’t care if I have on make-up or not. You love to sit in my kitchen all darn day long, and you never make a mess. And I can call on you in any hour of need.

Crock pot, would you like to come to my wedding? What? You don’t know anyone? Ah, not to worry, dear old Crocky, I am going to seat you next to my other BFF, Mr. Cast Iron Skillet.



HERE'S THE BEFORE SHOT AT 9AM BEFORE WORK:

AND HERE IS THE AFTER SHOT, 8 HOURS LATER:

ROAST BEEF WITH WINE SAUCE

3 pounds (or so) organic beef roast
5-8 shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 or 2 onions, sliced
2-3 carrots, cut into chunks
3-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
5-10 new potatoes
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
A teaspoon of horseradish powder or a tablespoon horseradish in a jar
2-3 Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. onion granules
2 cups broth (beef or vegetable)
Olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine

1. Place onions, carrots, garlic, mushrooms and potatoes in the crock pot.

2. Generously salt & pepper the roast on all sides. Heat a large skillet with olive oil, and when it’s hot, add the seasoned roast. Brown the heck out of it on all sides (because, as Chef Anne Burrell says, "brown food tastes good!"). Add the roast to the crock pot.

3. Turn the frying pan burner down to medium. Add wine, and stir and scrape up all the browned bits. When wine is reduced by half, add the stock and all the remaining seasonings. Stir it up. Pour all of this into the crock pot. Cover and turn on low. Fuggedabodit for 6-10 hours. Come home to a delightfully aromatic home and begin salivating.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nice Rice

I had to make some room in my fridge for a pie, which will be baked with love in honor of Michael Jackson. It will be shared and eaten in honor of all the sweetness and smiles Michael brought to the world.

In my attempt to empty the pantry, I made a rice dish that surprised me in its yumminess. I took my scraps of veggies, leftover meat and a few spices, and came up with a Chinese-style fried rice that was filled with surprisingly piquant flavor for so few ingredients. It’s easy and a very mix-and-match dish that you can alter according to the leftovers you in your fridge. Maybe you will try it when you need to make room in your fridge for something sweet that will make people smile.


NICE RICE

3-4 Tbs, Sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
2 cups leftover chicken or beef, diced, or frozen, thawed shrimp
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. ground ginger (or fresh, minced)
¼ tsp. ground coriander
Ground white pepper, to taste
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
T Tbs. pomegranate molasses or oyster or hoisin sauce
1 medium onion, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 carrot, peeled & sliced into diagonal pieces
4-5 shitake mushrooms, sliced into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper of any color, thinly sliced
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 eggs, beaten
Lemon zest
Fresh chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the meat, red pepper, ginger, 5-spice powder, white pepper, soy sauce and molasses. Stir fry for a couple minutes.

2. Add onion, broccoli, carrot, and stir for another 2 minutes or so.

3. Add mushrooms, garlic and bell pepper. Stir for a minute or two.

4. Add rice and stir till all combined.

5. Make well in center and pour in eggs. Let set for a few seconds to solidify, and gently stir through rice, so that pieces of egg are visible throughout.

6. Turn off heat and zest some lemon over the whole thing. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley over the top, if desired.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Braciole with Broccoli Rabe (Beef Flank Steak Rolls with Broccoli Rabe)

I'm getting my inner grandma on today just for you. xoHey…what’s all this frettin’ about? You watching the news again? Those scavengers of terror. Disease. Sadness. Crime. Terrible things happening to beautiful people. I know, I know, it gives me agita too. Things should be a little nicer for everyone out there in that big world. That's when I go into my kitchen and make the world a little smaller for a couple of hours (and it doesn’t get any smaller than this little kitchen, I'm telling you.)

So listen, fuggeddaboudit. OK? Good. Come on now, sit down at the table. You can keep your shoes on, it’s an old rug. Lemme chop this onion, I’m listenin’. I'm just gonna make a few braciole. Here, have a glass of this nice red. There are some nuts on the table. Now tell me what happened. You hungry? You’re not hungry. What do you mean, you’re not hungry? Okay, so you’ll eat it without bread. Lemme kiss your cheek.BRACIOLE WITH BROCCOLI RABE
(Beef Flank Steak Rolls with Broccoli Rabe)

Recipe by Mario Batali
Serves 4 main course servings

Ingredients
3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1 cup green Italian olives
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
4 bunches Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1 cup
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound beef flank steak, sliced into 8 thin scallops
Salt and pepper
1 bunch broccoli rabe, blanched in boiling water and refreshed
Flour for dusting
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine

Directions
In a medium saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, green olives and 2 tablespoons oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking while assembling the rest of the dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the Pecorino, chopped parsley and nutmeg and mix until well blended. Lay 8 pieces of steak out on board. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the Pecorino mixture evenly over the beef, spreading it to form a thin layer on top of each piece of steak. Roughly chop the broccoli rabe and divide it among the pieces of beef. Roll up each piece like a jelly roll and tie securely with a piece of butcher's twine. [FLAPPER NOTE: You can also secure with 2 or 3 toothpicks in each roll in lieu of the twine.] Dredge each roll in the flour.

In a 12- to 14-inch skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil until smoking. Place 4 rolled steak pieces at a time in the skillet and brown evenly, rolling with tongs or a wooden spoon. Remove first 4 pieces and repeat with remaining four. Remove second group and pour off the cooking oil to discard.

Put the skillet back on the heat and add the red wine, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add the simmering tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Add all 8 beef rolls and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until all of the meat is cooked through.
[FLAPPER NOTE: At this point, you can also put everything into a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours and fuggedabouddit.]
Remove the meat to heated platter, pour the sauce over the meat and garnish with the remaining oregano.

Basic Tomato Sauce
Recipe by Mario Batali

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4- inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 28 ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt to taste

In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds one week in the refrigerator or up to six months in the freezer. Yield: 4 cups

Monday, June 22, 2009

North African Beef Stew

I’m still in honeymoon daydream land…thinking of Southern Italy…the Mediterranean… exotic ports of call… Ah yes, this is the fun part… picking out place settings and invitations is alright…but I’d rather hike up an active volcano in Sicily with my new husband or wander into some Tunisian family-owned restaurant to sample some freshly caught, local grilled fish.

All of this got me thinking of the interwoven history in music, art, architecture and of course cuisine. I love how Sicilian cuisine contains elements of African cooking, like couscous, savory meats paired with sweet raisins and cinnamon, and, and, and…then it hit me…I have that delicious (yet lonesome) little bottle of pomegranate molasses in my cupboard just waiting for a purpose in life!

And I found it. Here is a recipe I adapted from cooking hottie Nigella Lawson. The exotic combination of spices can be found in North Africa, Sicily, and along the Mediterranean. The beauty of this brazen combo of flavors is how they mellow into a deep, complex and comforting dark broth. Dip some chewy Whole Wheat Molasses Bread (which you can make way ahead of time, and even freeze) into this stew and you’ve got some luxurious comfort food on hand.

Crock pot cooking in the summer is perfect because the kitchen stays nice and cool. I’m also loving my trusty crock lately because it allows me to shamelessly daydream about my groom and I jet-skiing the Tyrrhenian Sea…and I don’t have to interrupt my blissful vision to get up and stir the pot.

NORTH AFRICAN BEEF STEW

Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound stew beef or lamb
1 onion, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
2 Tbs. Soy sauce
1 Tbs. molasses or pomegranate molasses
1 Tbs. Honey
3 Tbs. Marsala
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp Turmeric
1 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Ground white pepper, to taste
dash tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf

Optional:
3 tbsp pine nuts or slivered almonds
Cooked couscous or whole wheat egg noodles
Whole wheat molasses bread

Directions:
1. Sprinkle the beef with salt & pepper. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil on high heat and brown the beef on all sides. Remove beef to a platter.

2. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the Soy sauce, pomegranate molasses, marsala, honey, garlic, turmeric, ginger, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper.

3. Into the crock pot, layer from the bottom up: onions, carrots, potatoes, beef, thyme sprigs, bay leaf. Pour the sauce over the top. Cover and turn crock on low and fuggedaboudit for 6-8 hours.

4. To serve, first remove the thyme sprigs & bay leaf. Ladel the stew into big bowls and sprinkle the nuts over the top. I think a nice, thick slice of this whole wheat molasses bread serves as the perfect accompaniment for sopping up the delicious broth. You can also serve it over cous cous (in keeping with the North African vibe) or whole wheat egg noodles.







 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Filipino Chicken Adobo

Funny how things can change so quickly. A couple months ago, I used to walk home from work daydreaming of the perfect, mile-high meringue pie emerging from my little oven. Now, it’s all about mile-high wedding cakes, fall color schemes, bridal flowers, and hand-written vows. I just can’t stop feeling all dreamy and fuzzy and happy. I’ve become one of those bridal nerds right before my very eyes, with no plans of stopping. Gasp!

That said, I didn’t really prepare anything spectacular this week for that package of skinless drumsticks and thighs in my fridge, as I was busy picturing myself on a moped, wind blowing through my hair, in some exotic honeymoon location with my new husband. I think I also happened to be about 6 feet tall and 100 pounds with shiny, flaxen hair down to my hips...Do you think this might be a good time to set aside those bridal mags? Yeah, me too.

Thank god for this recipe I found I’d tucked away a few months ago. Pantry-friendly, easy, cheap and yummy! I served this over brown rice and a side of steamed greens, then poured the yummy juices all over the top. The lovely thing about this recipe, is that the outside of the chicken darkens to a deep, rich golden brown in the soy sauce, but when you cut into it, the meat is light-hued and tender-juicy.

So I know some of my Filipino friends will be reading this, and I hope you will please chime in and let me know if the ingredient list resembles anything your mamas made growing up.

Now, where was I? Ah yes….bridesmaids dresses in October...honeymoons...Paris...Italy... I wonder if mopeds come with seat belts...

FILIPINO CHICKEN ADOBO

Ingredients:


4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon peppercorn, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar (more or less depending on your taste preference)

Directions:

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.
2. Add garlic and onions to pot, saute.
3. Place chicken in with the garlic and onions and slightly sear the chicken on all sides.
4. Add vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Cover and allow to cook over medium heat for about half an hour.
5. Add brown sugar and stir well.
6. Replace cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve over rice.
7. Eat it up as you daydream of something wonderful. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pan-Seared Veal Chops with Rosemary


Last night was the two-year anniversary of the day I met my husband to be! (I will go from Flappergirl to Flapperwife in about 5 months!) So...we were going to have dinner out, but seeing as it was a Monday night, we decided to stay in and have a romantic dinner at home, complete with wine and dessert. And romantic it was!

This is a very quick dinner to prepare. My big note to all you cooks is to be sure to brown the chops really well first. Why? Because in the words of one of my favorite crazy-genius chefs Anne Burell, “Brown food tastes GOOD!


MENU
Pan-Seared Veal Chops with Rosemary
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Steamed Mustard Greens with Olive Oil
Blueberry & Blackberry Shortcake Parfait


Pan-Seared Veal Chops with Rosemary


INGREDIENTS:
2 veal chops (about 3/- inch thick)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock or broth

DIRECTIONS:
Rub the chops with the garlic, rosemary, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and
pepper and let sit on a plate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a large cast iron or heavy skillet over medium high heat and add remaining oil. Add chops to pan and cook until golden brown and on both sides. Remove chops from pan to a baking dish and roast in oven for 10 minutes.

Add wine, stock any drippings from baking dish to cast iron skillet and stir up brown bits from bottom.

Reduce sauce by half. Serve with the veal chops.

MASHED SWEET POTATOES
NOTE: Heating the milk first before adding the hot potatoes will ensure the texture is smooth and not grainy.

INGREDIENTS:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons butter (I like Soy Garden)
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons half-and-half or milk

DIRECTIONS:
Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until fork tender and drain into a bowl.

In the same cooking pot, add milk, butter, brown sugar and salt. Heat gently and stir until melted and combined. Add potatoes and mash with a potato masher. Check seasonings and adjust with more salt/sugar or butter if necessary.

BLUEBERRY & BLACKBERRY SHORTCAKE PARFAIT

I wish I had a picture of dessert! After a couple glasses of wine I forgot about my camera...The fun thing about this recipe is that I just winged it with what I had on hand. Remember when I made Tiramisu for that Tofu Takedown a short while back? Well, I had an extra sheet of homemade ladyfinger , and it was taking up space as if I'd put a bathmat in my poor little freezer. So I decided to take a pretty cookie cutter to my bathmat, and make lovely little flower shapes. But you can just buy prepackaged Savoiardi (Italian lady fingers) or mini sponge cakes, which will work just as well!

INGREDIENTS:
1 pint of blueberries and black berries
3 Tbs. white or red wine
1 Tbs. water
1 sprig of thyme, leaves on
1 Tbs. sugar or honey
A pinch of cinnamon
4 ladyfingers (or 4 flower discs from a bathmat ;))
Whipped cream

DIRECTIONS:
In a small saucepan, add wine, sugar, water, thyme and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat, reducing wine by half. Add the berries and cook 2-3 minutes, until they break apart a little bit from the heat.

Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

To assemble:

Line the bottom of a wine glass with lady finger. Drizzle some berries and juices on top to soak the ladyfingers. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Add another layer of ladyfingers, then another layer of berries and juice, and another dollop of whipped cream. Repeat this step as many times as you like to make a parfait as tall as you like.

Finish the top with a dollop of whipped cream and eat 'er up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Corned Beef Reynolds with Molasses Mustard “Ale-jus”

Crock pot magic again!

Corned beef was on mega-sale post St. Paddy’s Day, so I scooped up a hunk and brought him home.

This is so (times 20) simple, but so delicious – tastes as good as if a little Irish grandma spent the day basting it with all her love. The drool-inducing flavor comes from a savory sauce which infuses into the succulent, slow-cooked beef.

Corned Beef & Cabbage with Molasses Mustard “Ale-jus”

Ingredients:
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp. crushed black peppercorns
3 Tbs. molasses
3 bay leaves
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 12-ounce bottle amber ale

2-4 lb. hunk of corned beef
1 small head of green cabbage, cut into 6-8 large wedges
2-3 yellow onions, cut into 2-inch chunks
10 small new potatoes
3 large carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks (or a couple handfuls of baby carrots)

Rye or pumpernickel bread (if you can, buy an unsliced loaf from the bakery. Cut it at home into nice thick slices and spread it with butter (I like Earth Balance buttery spread)

Directions:
1. In a bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients. While whisking, slowly pour beer into the bowl and mix well.

2. Into the crock pot, layer from bottom to top the onions, potatoes, carrots and beef. Pour “ale-jus” over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before you want to eat, add the cabbage hunks to the top of the crock pot, press them down into the hot liquid, and cover. Cook on high for 30 minutes or until tender.

When ready to eat:
Turn off pot, uncover and let it “rest for 15 minutes or so. Discard bay leaves.
Cut the meat on a board against the grain into ½-inch thick slices.

To plate:
Arrange meat and veggies in a wide, shallow soup plate and spoon the lovely jus over the top. Serve some Dijon mustard on the side to slather on the meat and veggies. Mop up the juices with the buttered rye bread. Wash it down with a cold ale. Have seconds. Smile.

PICS COMING SOON!
In the meantime, I substitute with an equally juicy, equally corny, equally beefy image (and it guarantees a lively dinner conversation). Bon appetite. :)

Hot Corny Beef Reynolds:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dinner for one, please, James.


So the old Nat King Cole tune goes. The boy had martial arts practice after work and I had the apartment to myself. These are the types of nights I find myself eating a piece of leftover chicken over the sink and grabbing a swig of juice out of the carton. But tonight, I was feeling a little indulgent, and decided to treat myself to pasta and meatballs, and a cute little teency chocolate cake! I set the table, bought a nice baguette and a bottle of wine (which, of course I shared with the boy once he got home, as I did the cake).

The cake recipe came from my amazing cook of a niece, Jessica. She does a lot of cooking and baking, modifying many recipes to feed just one or two. She even has cute, little tiny cake and pie pans. Believe it or not, you can bake this cake in empty tin cans if you don’t have special bakeware, which is exactly what I did. Thank you, Jessica!

Check back for uploaded pics in the next day or two!

PASTA AND MEATlessBALLS MARINARA

1 or 2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
1 cup of cooked pasta (I love whole wheat penne rigate!)

Directions:

1. Open the bottle of wine to let it “breathe.” By doing this, the oxygen will touch the wine and the flavors will open up. Such a little thing but makes a huge difference in the taste. Set the table, laying out your nicest table setting. :) Put on some tunes (highly recommended: Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Trust me on this one.)

2. Put water on the boil for the pasta.

3. Make Meatballs

Meatballs for One or Two People

½ a tube of Litelife brand Gimme Lean - beef style (or 4 oz. real ground beef or turkey)
1 egg white (save the yolk in a cup for the chocolate cake!!)
½ tsp. dried basil
Two shakes of dried thyme
1 shake of dried oregano
1 shake of garlic powder
3 grinds of black pepper
A pinch of salt
4-5 leaves of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1 slice of the baguette, crust removed, soaked in soy milk (or 1 Tbs. breadcrumbs)
1 Tbs. of grated parmesean cheese
Olive oil

a. Squeeze out the milk from the bread and add that to a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands.
b. Form into cute, little 1.5-inch balls (might as well keep the "mini" theme going here ;) )
c. Fry balls in two swirls of olive oil, in a heated frying pan on medium heat.
d. Cook for a couple minutes on each side till browned.
e. Lower the heat to medium-low and pour the sauce over the meatballs. Simmer on low, stirring gently so the bottom doesn’t burn and the balls cook all the way through.

4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente, following package directions.

5. Drain pasta and add to the cooking pot of sauce and balls. Gently stir to combine.

6. Scoop the pasta into a dish, sprinkle with a little fresh, chopped parsley and lots of grated parmesean. Lay a hunk of bread on the side. Pour the wine. Smile. Feel special. Mangia!


I made the cake after dinner (as opposed to before) because I was doing it more for the joy of baking than for the need to have a piece of cake. (Of course, once the cake is baked, I always need to have a piece of cake!)


MINI CHOCOLATE CAKE
Feeds just one or two
NOTE: These little cakes make wonderful gifts! They are so tiny, that a wine glass turned upside-down can serve as an adorable cake stand. You can find give-away wine glasses at the dollar store. If you give two of these with a bottle of dessert wine, it would make a fantastic housewarming or dinner party gift.

½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup water
Yolk of 1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla
3 Tbs. melted and cooled butter
2 ½ Tbs. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
Two 14-ounce cans or one 28-ounce can

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease and flour insides of two 14-ounce cans or one 28-ounce can. Set on baking sheet for easier handling.
3. Combine water, egg, vanilla in small bowl and whisk. Slowly pour melted butter in, whisking constantly.
4. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium-sized bowl. Blend well, add sugar, blend well again.
5. Slowly add wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just moistened.
6. Divide batter between the two 14-ounce cans or all into one 28-ounce can. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool 15 mins, run knife along inside of cans to release cakes, cool upright on rack.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 oz. milk chocolate or choc. chips (1 cup)
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (dark chocolate bar works) (1/2 cup)
3 Tbs. sour cream, at room temp
½ tsp. vanilla
pinch salt

1. Microwave 2 minutes or until melted. Cool 5 minutes.
2. Add sour cream, vanilla, salt, and blend well. Cool completely. Refrigerate to thicken if needed.
3. Be sure cakes are cooled completely before frosting. Cut cakes in half and frost between layers and on top.

NOTE: You can also use the glaze recipe from my Red Velvet Black & White Cookies (which is exactly what I did, because I had no sour cream!)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rock the Pot Chili



Thank you, oh great and powerful inventor of the crock pot, for all you’ve done for me on those freezing winter nights at 8pm when I come home from work with a grouchy, growling belly…for those nights I open the door to the savory, spicy smells of homemade chili that’s slow-cooked all darn day long.

The thing that rocks about the crock pot, is that even if you are off a bit on spices or measurements, somehow the many hours of slow-cooking will make it taste amazing anyway.

Here is an easy, foolproof weeknight feast. I enjoyed this particular meal with my feet up, watching my favorite show on DVR, and washed it down with an ice-cold lager. Tuesday nights aren’t so bad now, are they? :)


Rock the Pot Chili

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound of ground turkey
1 large onion
2 fresh jalapenos, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
½ a 7 oz. jar of sweet, red roasted peppers
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro
8 oz (or so) of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 28-ounce can of whole tomotoes in juice, roughly chopped
½ a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 16-ounce can of red, pinto or kidney beans
1-2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. pure cocoa powder
A couple dashes of ground cinnamon
Two swirls of olive oil in the pan
Salt & freshly cracked black pepper

I think some people just throw everything in the pot and turn it on low, but I’ve never tried that. I like to prepare it a bit first.

Here is what I do:

1. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Sautee the chopped onion for a few minutes, stirring till it softens. Add garlic, cilantro, jalapenos and stir for a couple minutes, making sure garlic doesn’t burn. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano. Stir. Add mushrooms, and stir till softened. Add red roasted peppers and cilantro.

2. Now add the turkey and stir all together, browning the meat and breaking it up into bits with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the skillet contents to the crock pot. Stir into the crockpot the tomatoes, beans, cocoa and cinnamon. Gently stir to combine all ingredients, cover and cook on low for 6-10 hours. Have a nice day and, every few hours, remember that your chili is home and very happy in its pot, filling your home with yummy smells.

To serve:
Turn off crock pot, stir, and take a taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Ladle chili into nice big bowls, and top with your choice of shredded mild white cheese, chopped scallions or onions, fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices, or a hunk of corn bread….or all of the above. :) Eat, smile and feel the happy snack warmth.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Weeknight BBQ Bonanza!



I've been thinking, the humble crockpot deserves a better reputation than it has. Nothing beats a crock pot when it comes to the flavor and texture of slow-cooked meats in savory sauce. Fantastic! And on those nights I have to work till 7pm, nothing beats coming home hungry to a nice, hot dinner, ready for eating. :)

This chicken recipe is embarrassingly easy, yet one of the most popular dishes in my home. It's a slam-dunk every single time.

DINNER MENU:
Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Fiesta Slaw





CROCKPOT BBQ PULLED CHICKEN

2-4 boneless chicken or turkey breasts
1 jar of your favorite BBQ sauce (or make your own - simple recipe below!)

Season meat with a little salt and pepper. Throw it in the crocpot. Pour BBQ sauce all over the top. Turn it on low. Go to work and fuggedaboudit. (But then remember it after 6-10 hours)

When you are ready to eat, do this:

1. Turn off crock pot. Take two forks, and pull the meat apart into nice juicy strands. Stir it up to evenly distribute the sauce.

2. Prick a few washed and dried yams with a fork, throw 'em in the microwave and cook on high for 6-10 minutes. Check them half way through. When a fork is inserted easily, they are done.

3. While the potatoes are microwaving, make the coleslaw:

FIESTA SLAW



Ingredients

For the dressing:

2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
20 grinds fresh black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:
A big bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix
(or 1 small green and a ½ a red head of cabbage, shredded by you)
1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed, dried, and finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, washed, dried, and thinly sliced into rounds


Directions

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Keep refrigerated and covered until ready to use.

HOMEMADE BBQ SAUCE

2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar (OR molasses OR honey OR real maple syrup)
5-10 grinds fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard or mustard powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime or OJ)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
dash cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and pour over chicken in crockpot.

TO PLATE THE DINNER:

You can have the pulled chicken on hamburger buns for a slammin' sandwhich, but I really love to pile the meat on top of the split, baked yam. It makes a nice-looking boat on the plate. :)
Pile a mound of slaw on the side.

Eat it up. Smile. :)
Bring leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Smile again. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yummy Meatloaf from Tyler's Dad




I've made meatloaf a bazillion times, but somehow it's always just missed the mark of my flapper heart -- think bleak and boring...

...UNTIL I found Tyler's recipe.

I should have known Tyler Florence, chef extraordinaire from the Food Network, would present a recipe that would not only be scrumptious, but something I'd even consider preparing for guests. The tomato relish in and on this loaf is the snack magic element!

A word about Tyler's cooking style (aka, flapperosophy): He has a genius way of designing base flavor layers to all his dishes. The end products are always arresting, complex, delightful: they make me stop multi-tasking and just EAT. I always really EXPERIENCE and enjoy his recipe in zen-like bliss.

Onto the meat loaf: A truly sublime and lovely little loaf. I saw him prepare this dish on his show "Tyler's Ultimate" on the Food Network. I flapperfied it by using ground turkey (instead of pork & beef), whole grain bread slices, non-dairy milk, and turkey bacon, but that's totally your choice.

Pair it with my Sage Roasted Winter Veggies and a nice cold Guiness, and you are ready for a comfy winter night of nesting.

And while you're at it, have another Guiness with a snap of dark chocolate for dessert :))



YUMMY MEAT LOAF FROM TYLER'S DAD


INGREDIENTS:

Tomato Relish:
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and finely diced (or 3 roasted red peppers from a jar, chopped)
2 tomatoes, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 (12-ounce) bottle ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Meat loaf:
4 slices whole grain bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks by hand
1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
2 pounds of ground turkey
2 eggs
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 bacon slices (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

MAKE RELISH:
Coat a skillet with a 2-count of oil and place over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaves for a few minutes to create a base flavor. Throw in the red peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes to soften. Now add the tomatoes; adding them at this point lets them hold their shape and prevents them from disintegrating. Stir in the parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together. Remove it from the heat; you should have about 4 cups of relish.

MAKE MEAT LOAF:
Place the torn bread in a bowl and add the milk to just barely cover, swish the bread around in the milk and let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients for the meat loaf together.

This is where you get your hands dirty! In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and pork with 1 1/2 cups of the tomato relish, the eggs, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Squeeeeeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the soaked bread to the meat mixture.

[Tip: You can test the loaf by frying or microwaving a small "hamburger" patty of the meatloaf until cooked; the patty should hold together but still have a soft consistency. Taste the patty for seasoning.]

Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Transfer the meat mixture to the center of the cookie sheet and form into a log about 9 inches long and about 4 inches wide. OR you can pile the loaf into a lightly oiled loaf pan. Coat the top of the meatloaf with another 1/2 cup of the tomato relish. Lay the turkey bacon across the top lengthwise.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf firm. Rotate the meat loaf while it's baking every now and then to insure that the bacon browns evenly. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it cool 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side. Unbelievably moist!

Eat. Smile. Sip your beer. Feel the snack love. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pig in a Blanket (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)





Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
(aka "Golabki", pronounced "Go-WUMP-kee")


My mom made these Polish cabbage rolls growing up all the time, and they are the ultimate comfort food. They are best with mashed taters with lots of butter and either corn, carrots or peas (because you have to have a nice little veggie like that to smush into the mashed potatoes on the plate :-))

Keep in mind this is no "30-minute meal" but that isn't always a bad thing. I love to make these on a lazy Sunday afternoon while the music's playing in the background and I've got time to enjoy every fun little step of the preparation process. You can make these in a crockpot or in your oven, up to you. The reward of this labor of love is sheer deliciousness, and a big old WOW from your family and friends at the table. This is the ultimate cozy supper food!

INGREDIENTS:

1 large head of green cabbage (savoy cabbage is the easiest to roll and the little ripples look very pretty)
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 c. white or brown rice (not quick-cooking or instant)
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp. thyme
pepper to taste
1 meduim can (app. 12 oz) tomato paste
1 large can (28 oz) ground or pureed tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

Fill a stock pot (big enough to fit the whole head of cabbage) with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the cabbage. Bring the water to a boil and, as the leaves become tender (but not cooked), remove the leaves from the head of cabbage layer by layer (you can remove the head from the pot each time you perform this task. Return the cabbage for the next layer or two and so forth). Reserve the outermost, damaged leaves for lining the cooking pot. The largest leaves can be cut in half down the middle.

Combine the beef, rice, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl (don't bother with a spoon - just use your hands.) Line a crockpot or casserole with the outermost leaves. Lay the tender leaves on the counter one at a time a fill with 1-3 tablespoons of mixture, depending on the size of the cabbage leaf. Starting from one long end, roll the leaf, tucking in the sides as you go. Layer the rolls on top of one another in the crockpot or baking dish. With a whisk, combine the tomato paste and puree with a little water. Add thyme. Pour the tomatoes over the rolls. Cook on low in the crockpot or 7 hours, or bake in a covered baking dish and place it in a 250-degree oven for three to four hours.

Serve with mashed buttered potatoes, carrots/corn or peas, and pumpernickel bread with lots of room temperature butter. (No other way!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chicken Soup with Little Meatballs (aka Italian Wedding Soup)





I grew up with a version of this soup that didn't have spinach, was made with beef meatballs, and had pastina as the pasta shape. My friend Vanessa shared this truly scrumptious version with me that has spinach and healthier meatballs made with ground chicken (or turkey). I added basil to the meatballs because I just love that flavor with the cheese. You can make this recipe in a half an hour if you have ready-made stock. The original recipe involves the longer process of boiling chicken to make the stock.

This is an incredible first course for a special dinner, or you can have it with grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches for a quick weeknight supper. :) Let me know what you think!

Chicken Soup with Little Meatballs

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (or dried whole wheat couscous)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
a pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
6 cups canned chicken stock or broth
2 cups water (or 8 cups total of homemade chicken broth/stock)
1 1/2 cups small pasta (like ditalini, mini farfalle, pastina, orzo, etc.)
5-6 oz (or more) triple washed fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a deep pot over medium heat add oil, chopped carrots, celery and onions and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. While the veggies cook, combine meat, egg, garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, nutmeg.

3. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit to a simmer and start to roll meat mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot. You are making meat dumplings that will cook in the broth. When you are done rolling the meat, add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup 10 minutes. When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach in batches. When spinach has wilted into the soup, the soup is done and ready to serve.

4. Ladel soup into bowls and sprinkle some parmesean cheese on the top if you like.


TIPS:
1) You can plop those little meatballs into the stock in seconds flat if you have a cookie scooper. I have a 1-tablespoon scoop, which I used. It also keeps the meatballs fluffy and dumpling-light because the meat doesn't get tightly packed from hand-rolling (although I admit I adore TINY meatballs....so if you have time to lightly hand-roll into 3/4-inch balls, I recommend it. :))

2) I always keep 2-cup serving-size baggies of homemade chicken stock in the freezer so I can throw dishes like this together in a flash. You can make homemade stock in the crockpot while you are away...leftover chicken or turkey, or the carcass, onion, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and a few herbs. Throw it all in the crockpot and fill with fresh water, put it on low and leave it for 6-10 hours. To store: Put a baggie in a glass, ladel in two cooled cups of broth, seal, and pile labeled bags in the freezer till you need them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hunter's Minestrone




My girl Jessica sent a request for a minestrone recipe, and this is one that I wanted to share. This recipe comes from the innovative and gifted Tyler Florence. When I saw him prepare this soup on his show Tyler's Ultimate, I knew it was a winner. It differs from the classic minestrone because contains no zucchini (cooked zucchini always reminds me of warm, soggy cucumbers! No can do!) It also contains italian sausage (as opposed to chicken meat) and savory field herbs like sage and thyme. I flapperfied it by using chicken sausage instead of pork sausage, and whole wheat pasta instead of regular. Let me know what you think!

This is a hearty, warming winter soup that tastes even better the next day!

INGREDIENTS:

2 quarts of chicken stock (8 cups)
1 head of garlic, halved
1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8-12 sage leaves, rolled and sliced thin
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1 sprig of rosemary, chopped fine
3/5-1 lb sweet italian sausage (turkey or chicken sausage is nice!)
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped (by hand or food processor)
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 (28-oz.) can chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 28-ounce cans of canneloni beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
Frshly ground black pepper
Salt (optional)
Grated parmigiano-reggiano

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine the stock and garlic, skins and all, in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain out the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard.

2. Bring pot of salted water to boil for pasta.

3. Chop celery, carrot and onion and keep on side of stove till ready to use.

3. In a large sauce/soup pan, heat up 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add sage, rosemary and thyme and stir for 3-4 minutes, infusing the oil with wonderful flavor. :) Add sausage and cook, breaking up pices with a wooden spoon till browned.
Add carrots, onion and celery to pan and cook 3-4 minutes till softened (not browned).

4. To same pan, add tomatoes, bay leaf, beans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover to a peaceful simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

5. Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 6 minutes or so--should be underdone a bit.Drain and stir into the soup.

6. Add parsley, a little salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf.

7. Ladel soup into bowls and top each bowl with some grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Serve with whole wheat garlic bread or some other nice bread to mop up juices. :)

8. Eat. Smile. :)

 
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