11.25.2014

Steak au Poivre

The most perfect steak I have ever made...
I have begun to challenge myself by cooking french food. This was the first recipe I tried. Basically it is a simple peppered steak that is so easy to make once you get the hang of it. I make it for dinner at least a few times a year.

This recipe is from Julia Child and Jacques Pepin with a few alterations (I am NOT comfortable as of yet setting my food on fire despite this blog's name). Also I have to make this on a budget so white onions usually replace the shallots for me and I use red wine. The most expensive thing will be the steak on this menu, but many cuts can work so long as it is 1 to 1/2 inch thick.

Cooks Note: Because all of these things cook at a fairly quick rate with a HOT pan, you should do ALL the prep work in advanced so are ready and not wasting time. Also the more quickly you move the less likely you are to burn the oil or butter.

Ingredients

1 steak (t-bone, NY strip, Tenderloin, etc...) well marbled, 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick.
Fresh ground black pepper
1 -2 tbls kosher Salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp butter

For Pan Sauce
2 tbls minced shallots (or white onions)
2 tbls cognac (or bourbon or red wine)
1/2 cup dark flavorful stock (beef is usually preferred)
1 tbls butter at room temperature

Directions
  1. Trim the steak of most of the fat if there is a lot on your cut. Depending on the steak you get you may need to cut into two pieces. Since I usually have T-Bone steaks the entirety of this step is unnecessary.
  2. Grind black pepper over each side of the steaks with as much or as little as you want (we use a lot.)
  3. Sprinkle salt over each side as well. Be careful with the salt, it can get really salty if you add too much.
  4. Heat the oil and the butter in a heavy saute or frying pan over HIGH heat. When the pan is really hot, lay the peppered steaks in, be careful to not over crowd. 
  5. Fry for 1 1/2 to 2 min until the underside is nicely seared. 
  6. Repeat
  7. To check the doneness press a finger to test for the slight springiness that indicates rare. I cook mine on each side a minute or two longer just because that is what my family likes. 
  8. Remove steaks to a warm platter and let rest.

For Sauce:
  1. Add shallots or onions to the pan and saute briefly, stirring frequently to get all the drippings. 
  2. Pour the cognac (or bourbon) in to the pan. If you are particularly experienced then you can tilt the pan edge over the flame to Flambe. I have never done this.
  3. Let the alcohol cook down  for a few moments.
  4. Add the Stock
  5. Bring the liquid back to a boil and cook for 1 min or so to thicken.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Add the soft butter and stir gently till combined.
  8. Spoon sauce over the steaks and serve.

6.07.2014

Creamy Lemon-Garlic Pasta



I went through a period where I used lemon in EVERYTHING so much that I had a whole bag of lemons that I didn't know what to do with.  This recipe is a compilation of many recipes I found online.

If you are not a fan of lemon you can reduce the amount of juice and zest but I find it is a nice flavor against the garlic.

Ingredients

3 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp minced parsley
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tomatoes seeded and chopped
Minced fresh parsley
8 oz uncooked pasta

Sauce
1/4 c butter
2 small onions chopped
3-4 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 c cream (heavy or fat free half n half)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/4 c non fat greek yogurt
2 tbls lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a small bowl mix lemon peel, parsley and garlic. Mix with tomatoes and fresh parsley and set aside
  2. Begin cooking the pasta in heavily salted water. Drain and put back in pot. (If this step is finished before the sauce then add a little oil to it to keep the pasta from sticking.)
  3. In a medium sauce pan heat butter over medium heat.
  4. Add onion; cook and stir for 2-3 min or until tender then add garlic and lemon zest and cook 1 min.
  5. stir in cream, salt pepper and yogurt. Bring to a gentle boil then remove from heat and add the Lemon juice. *this has to be added last so you don't curdle the cream.


5.28.2014

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Yummy Kale meets Yummy Quinoa
This is a new summer favorite!
Kale may be a super food but it can taste really bitter and awful unless you make it into chips or saute it with butter and lots of onions and garlic, thus defeating the point of its health status. I have had qunioa in my house for some time but could never figure out a recipe that looked interesting enough. Finally I saw another post from my favorite cooking blog smittenkitchen and decided to go for it.

I made quite a few adjustments from the original. First the original dressing had no lemon juice and I added it because I needed to give it some punch along with the garlic. Also I don't know where to find ricotta salata in my area so I used Feta instead. Goat cheese or Parmesan will work as well in this recipe. I am not a fan of cherries so I used cranberries, I think dried apricots would work as well.

You can play around with the dressing and salad, just be careful with the dressing you can easily over saturate it.


Ingredients

Salad
1 c uncooked quinoa 
1 1/2c chicken/vegetable/beef broth
8 oz of Kale de-ribbed and coarsely chopped (You can add more, no one is stopping you)
2-3 garlic cloves m
3/4 c sliced almonds (walnuts, cashews, pine nuts will work as well.) 
1 cup dried cranberries chopped up a bit
2-3 green onions sliced
2 tsp fresh dill (optional)
Few gratings of Lemon Zest
1/2 cup feta


Dressing:
2-3 tbls olive oil
1 1/2 tbls white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic minced
1-2 tbls of lemon juice (depends on your taste)
2-3 tsp dijon mustard (Stone ground or Smooth)
just shy of 1 tsp of honey
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse quinoa well in a small colander. Place quinoa and 1 1/2 cup chicken/veg/beef broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer with a couple pinches of salt. 
      1. Cook the quinoa to the directions on your packet. Different brands use varying levels of liquid, I do not know why.
      2. Cooking the quinoa in broth will add extra flavor to the salad.
  2. Simmer at a low temp for 15-20 min until tender. If the quinoa looks wet let it steam on low for another 10-20 min until you can fluff it with a fork (like Rice).
  3. Wash kale and dry it well. Then remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves.
  4. Stack the leaves and slice long ways then coarsely chop. Add the kale to a large salad bowl.
  5. Add remaining salad ingredients to kale and toss to mix.
  6. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small dish. Pour the dressing over the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste.
      1. Pour Half of the dressing then stir a few times. Then add the rest and stir. Let it sit for 10 min. Taste and add what you think it needs. 
*Cooks Note: Add the feta at the end or allow everyone to add it as they please. If you end up having a lot left over and want to eat it for the next few days add the feat as you go. That way it doesn't sit in the salad and get a little funky.

4.20.2014

Chocolate Toffee Scones

These are soft and moist the way they should be!


Greetings!

It has been a while and lately I have been more into baking than cooking. That is not to say I haven't cooked this whole time but I seem to be in a rut. I was bored one day and decided I needed to learn how to make scones. Not that I was a big scone eater before, and to be honest I can't say why this desire popped up but here I was craving a good scone recipe.

I searched high and low for one that was easy and looked promising. I came across the site Pastry Affair and thought this was it! Not a lot of extra ingredients and I would be able to switch out the chocolate toffee and put in bacon and cheese if I wanted too. The key to this recipe is moisture, and a little kneading. Once you get it down, you can play around with it and see what flavor combinations you enjoy. I proceeded to leave out the chocolate glaze because it would be too sweet for me, however if you follow the link you can add it if you want!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • 1 tbls baking powder
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 6 tbls COLD butter cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 
    • Depending on the time of year and moisture of your kitchen you may need to add 1-2 tbls of heavy cream more.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup chocolate covered toffee bits
    • If you cant find it like me, 4 frozen Hershey Heath bars smashed in a bag.
    • Or 3/4 cup toffee bits and 1/4-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place Parchment paper on a cookie sheet and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together (with a whisk or fork) Flour, sugar, and baking powder.
  4. Using a Pastry Blender (or large fork) cut in the cubed butter until the mixture looks like coarse sand.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat egg slightly then add the heavy cream and beat until fully blended. Add to the sand mixture and with a wooden spoon mix.
    1. If the mixture looks to dry this is the time to add 1-2 tbls of heavy cream. Add 1 and if it needs more add the 2nd. No more than this though 
  6. Knead the mixture (lightly) by hand until all moisture is incorporated (1-2 min and NO MORE).
    1. The original doesn't call for it but I find that it works best to mix it more by hand. For this you don't want to over do it as it will not rise. 
  7. On a lightly floured surface pat or use a rolling pin to get a even 1-2 inch thick rectangle.
  8. Cut the dough, using a knife or pastry mold cutter until you get 8-12 triangles.
  9. Bake in oven for 20-25 min or until lightly golden brown on top.
  10. Eat with tea or coffee!


3.01.2014

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Marshmallow Creme


I am not a big baker but I got a book this past Christmas called 'Bake it, Don't Fake it' and I really love it. I made a few things from the book but the easiest and most impressive is the chocolate panna cotta. Every recipe out there always says to bake in the oven but with this one it is just heating the cream and adding the gelatin. So easy to do a few days ahead if you want to have people over.

It is just really good!

Ingredients

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin  (Knox is a good brand)
1/4 c cold water
2 3/4 cup Heavy Cream (You might see it called 'whipping cream', that is the same thing)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder SIFTED
1 tbls semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
 pinch of Kosher salt (approx 1/16th of a tsp.)

Directions

Measure out the cold water in a measuring cup and then add the gelatin and set aside.

In a medium saucepan whisk together cream, sugar, and cocoa. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.

Once a gentle boil forms, turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips, vanilla and gelatin and whisk until the chocolate melts. If the chips don't melt entirely that is ok.

Pour the chocolate mixture into little mugs, ramekins, or martini glasses or basically any small container. Chill for at least 3 hours till the panna cotta is thick and set.

Put a dollop of marshmallow creme on top with a teddy graham in the middle and enjoy!

Marshmallow Creme

1/4 cup egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
Dash of vanilla

Directions

In a measuring up, crack an egg in half (but not all the way) and pass the yolk back and forth so that the whites drop into the cup until it fills up to the 1/4 line. Put in a small sauce pan or a medium metal bowl.

Take a medium saucepan and cover the bottom of the pan with water and bring to a boil, put a smaller saucepan or metal bowl in to nest without the bottom of the pan to touch the water.

Gently stir the egg white and sugar together till the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very hot to touch.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and with a electric beater or kitchen aid mixer, beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks form.


2.09.2014

Israeli Couscous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs

Hey! Long time no see! Sorry we have fallen off the wagon with the blog. Life happens.

I haven't stopped trying out new recipes out on the interwebs, but I got really excited when I tried and have been on an upward swing and have time to spare!

In the apartment I live in now, my roommates have unused food from previous roommates in the pantry that needs consuming. We have made great headway so far. What piqued my interest the other day was the fact that there was a container of Israeli Couscous. I haven't tried Israeli Couscous before, and I didn't know what the difference was between that and regular couscous. Israeli Couscous is only somewhat larger in size to couscous, it is a kind of pasta, and is closer to orzo.

Anyways, let's get to the recipe! Check out the originally posted link from the Food Network. This features a video from Giada too!

INGREDIENTS

Couscous:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Israeli couscous (or barley or orzo)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (4 teaspoons dried parsley)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves (1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 medium green apple, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, see Cook's Note* (I used 1 cup of slivered almonds)

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil


Directions:

For the couscous: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 to12 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the cooked couscous to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, apple, dried cranberries, and almonds.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly.

*Cook's Note: To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before using. **I mixed the dried herbs with the almonds in the oven. It really makes the kitchen smell good aside from make your meal taste great!

The vinaigrette is amazing. Genius Giada, genius!







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