Monday, April 27, 2009

Ramen and Bok Choy with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Tonight I took a look in the crisper drawer and came up with bok choy. Bok choy led me to think of Asian food. Thoughts of Asian food led to peanut sauce. And so on...

Here's the ingredients:

5 cloves garlic
3/4 cup peanut butter
4 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon sriracha (or more, or less)
4 Tablespoon hot water (not pictured)

2 blocks of ramen noodles, without the nasty seasoning packets (don't judge, they're cheap, they cook in three minutes and they're tasty)
1 cup frozen peas
4 small carrots, diced
1 bunch baby bok choy (about half of them chopped)

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (also not pictured, a last minute addition)

I started by putting some water on to boil. In the meantime I got out the food processor and whirred together all of the peanut sauce ingredients (the first 8 listed, garlic through hot water). You could add more or less water, depending on how thick you want the sauce to be.

One the water was boiling I tossed in the ramen noodles, peas and carrots, then added a steam pan above the water with the bok choy. I let the noodles boil and the ramen steam for three minutes. I drained the noodles then tossed the chopped bok choy, noodles, carrots and peas together with about 3/4 of the peanut sauce. I put this into my serving dish, added the whole bok choy and then put the remaining sauce and the chopped peanuts on top.

This was super easy (it took less than a half hour to cook) and really tasty. The husband even said "this is really tasty" without even being prompted for comments. I would make this again in a heartbeat. I think it would be good with some chicken or shrimp in it too, but sometimes it's good to go vegetarian.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grilled Beef Tacos with Mango and Avocado Salsa

I have been out and about a lot this week. I actually left my house (and ate out) twice this week (I am generally quite the homebody).

Well, today I was home and ready to cook.
This week in I CSA box I got a ton of items that just screamed salsa, so I decided to go Mexican.

I started with the salsa. Here's the ingredients:

1 mango, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped

jalapenos (there's one in the pic, but I ended up using two)
1 lime, juiced

2 avocado, chopped

kosher salt to taste

Early in the afternoon I combined all the salsa ingredients except for the avocado so that the flavors could marry a bit (I didn't want to add the avocado at this point because I was afraid the avocado would get brown). So, right before serving, I stirred in the avocado.

I decided to use a spice rub on the steak. Here's the ingredients:

2 Tablespoon, chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 flat iron steak

I mixed together all of the rub ingredients, rubbed them over the steak, them let it sit in the fridge until I was ready to grill.

I would have liked to have use the charcoal grill for this but, alas, I am out of charcoal (I really need to put this on my shopping list) so I used the gas. I cooked it over high heat to rare, then let it rest for five minutes, then sliced it thin and squeezed a little lime on top.

While the steak was resting I put some corn tortillas on the grill to warm through.

To serve I put the sliced steak, delicious salsa and tortillas on/in separate plates and bowls so that the husband and I could make tacos exactly as we liked them.

Alongside I made a salad of cucumber, radishes and raw sunchokes (I just found out I LOVE sunchokes) dressed with a minced clove of garlic, some Spanish-infused vinegar that I made (the infusion has cider vinegar, garlic, chili peppers, chives, basil and oregano) and salt and pepper.

How was it? Really, really good. Pleasantly spicy but sweet (from the mango) at the same time. I am so glad that I have extra salsa, it will be a delicious snack tomorrow. The only thing that would have added is some cilantro with the salsa, but the husband has that genetic disposition towards cilantro that make it taste like soap. So, while I would have enjoyed it, the husband would have been miserable.

This was one of those meals that made me really happy that I cook at home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's in the Box?

1 bunch Baby Bok Choy
3 Tomatoes
1 bunch Red Radishes
1 Yellow Onions
2 Hass Avocados
1 Cucumbers
.75 pound Zucchini
4 Russet Potatoes
1.25 pounds Garnet Yams
.5 pound Snap Peas
1 bunch Carrots
1 Hayden Mango
1 pint Strawberries

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spicy-Sweet Soy Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Today was a beautiful day in Seattle. The husband and I spent quite a bit of the day doing yard work, then retired to the deck for a nice sit in the sun. The grill started calling my name and decided it must be time to cook.

A couple of days ago I pulled a pork loin out of the freezer to thaw. So, I knew that would be my protein. I searched through the fridge and found red beets and baby potatoes.

I started cooking without really knowing where the meal would end up (therefore I don't have any "here's the ingredients" pictures).

I made a beet salad by boiling the beets, peeling them, chopping them and then dressing them with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and the good olive oil. Then I topped it with blue cheese and cashews.

The potatoes were even easier. I washed them, boiled them and then tossed them with butter, chives and smoked salt.

My first thought for the pork was to make the Whiskey and Brown Sugar glaze that I made a while back for some grilled acorn squash. Alas, we had consumed all the whiskey. I started throwing a few thing in the pan and ended up with this.

Spicy-Sweet Soy Glazed Pork Tenderloin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup triple sec
1/8 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Sriracha to taste
1 pork tenderloin

I started by combining everything but the pork loin in a small saucepan. I put it over medium heat and let it reduce by half. Meanwhile I preheated my grill and then added my seasoned pork loin to cook. When the pork tenderloin was almost done I started brushing it with many coats of glaze. When it was done I let it rest for a few minutes and then sliced it. I served the leftover glaze alongside as a sauce.

I enjoyed everything and the husband liked most everything. The potatoes (which are one of my clients favorites) were yummy. He said the beets were great after he got rid of the blue cheese and cashews (but I liked them with). And the pork tenderloin glaze ended up kind of like a spicy teriyaki sauce, what's not to like about that.

The best part was sitting on the deck, eating in the sunshine and open air. Summer's coming, I can feel it!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cuban Flat Iron Steak with Wine Pairing

Last night I hosted the Puget Sound Chapter of the USPCA for a wine pairing event at my house. Each chef created a dish and then George from George's Wine Shoppe paired each dish with an appropriate wine.

I decided to make a beef dish because A) in the three years we have held this event no one has ever made a beef dish, B) I know that George like beef, and C) I like beef.

I decided to grill a flat iron steak (probably my favorite cut of beef) but I wanted to find an interesting marinade (that would also provide a challenge for George). With a little searching I found a recipe for Cuban-Style Flat Iron Steak on the Whole Foods Web site. It sounded tasty enough and I had almost all the ingredients on hand, all I had to buy was the steak and limes.

Here's the ingredients (but you'll need to go to the whole foods Web site for the recipe).

Here's the lime and orange zests along with the minced garlic and onion.

I followed the recipe exactly and found that it made a lot of marinade. I decided to split it and freeze half of it to marinade a steak sometime in the future.

Oftentimes you'll see a recipe call for boiling the leftover marinade to create a sauce, but this one calls for reserving some of the marinade for drizzling after the meat is cooked, so that's what I did.

I started the steak marinading Tuesday night. I wanted to give it a nice long time in the drink.

I decided to set up a little fancy for the wine pairing. Since I started my chef business I find that I don't entertain at home as much as I used to so when I get the chance to be fancy, I often do.

Here's my table set up (I like to put out a lot of plates for this event since over the course of the evening there are many different flavors that may not meld well).

I made some lovely little menus that listed each dish and the wine to be paired with it (too bad two of the attendees dropped out at the last minute).

Course number three was these cute little stuffed tomatoes.

I ended up as course number five (second to last). Here's the finished steak (with the reserved marinade drizzled on top).

I (and everyone else) really liked the steak. I was glad that let it marinate overnight. It probably would have been even better if I had cooked it over charcoal, but sometimes gas is just easier.

The wine with my dish was lovely. All-in-all, George did a great job with the pairings. It can't be easy to pair wine having never tried the food and using only a written description of the flavor profile (but somehow George always manages). One of the bottles was corked (the Viognier) but we used one of the wines that was supposed to have been paired with one of the canceled dishes, fairly successfully.

Here are some pictures.

This is the aforementioned George from George's Wine Shoppe

My good friend (and fellow chef) Wendy

The rest of the group (except for me of course, I'm taking the picture).

Here's the whole list of what we ate and drank (prepare to be jealous, all the food was great).

Antipasto Relish-Canadian Style, with Pickles, Olives, Peppers, Cauliflower And Tuna
Ch√Ęteau Moulin De Ferrand, 2008 Entre-deux-mers, Sauvignon/Semillon $7.99
Bordeaux , France

Brie En Croute with Hot Tomato Chutney
Mosel River Riesling 2007 $9.99
Mosel, Germany

Smoky Mozzarella Stuffed Cherry Tomato with Garlic-Roasted Asparagus
Zolo Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $10.99
Mendoza, Argentina

Corn Cups with Smoked Salmon and Mango Salsa
Terra Blanca 2005 Viognier $14.99 (this is the one that was corked)
Yakima Valley, Washington
Replaced with C.R. Sandidge 2006 Great Gams Rose $14.99
Columbia Valley, Washington

Grilled Cuban-Style Flat Iron Steak
Sobon Estate Old Vines Zinfandel 2007 $12.99
Amador County, California

Truffle Brownies
Porto Rocha Fine Ruby Port $13.99

And finally, the end of the night.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cheddar Bake

Today, the husband, the mother-in-law and I were supposed to be Easter brunching at Rover's, but, the mother-in-law has been sick and she had to cancel her Easter visit at the last minute. We decided to cancel our reservation (although I am excited to try the new breakfast service at Rover's) and stay home. I'm certain that we could have gotten an invite to a friend's house, but mimosa's and The Masters sounded like a pretty good combination.

I decided to make one of the husband's (and my) favorites. At the Costco corporate office (where I used to work) they make something called cheddar bake. It's super tasty but they charged something like 40¢ an ounce, which may not seem like much, but trust me, it adds up fast (cheddar bake is heavy). Making it at home is much more economical.

Here's the ingredients.

8 slices or so bacon, diced (you can, of course, use more or less, or even none, but this is a good starting point)
1 bag hash browns, thawed (I tried making this once with raw potatoes that I shredded and it did not turn out as well), plus it was harder to make)
8 ounces cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper
1 bunch green onions, chopped (not pictured, and not in the Costco rendition, but I decided to throw them in at the last minute.

I started by cooking the bacon until crispy. Then, in a large bowl, I combined the now crisp bacon, hash browns, and 2/3 of the cheese, along with some salt and pepper and the green onions.

I put this combination in an oiled 9" x 13" pyrex dish and topped it with the remaining cheese.

I baked this at 350 degrees for 1 hour, until it was golden brown and delicious.

I served this with maple-glazed ham (it is Easter after all, you are supposed to eat ham), a couple of eggs (sunny-side up for the husband, over medium for me), orange slices, and those mimosas I mentioned earlier.

Yummy and crunchy and very filling (it's basically hash browns on steroids). I enjoyed the addition of the green onions so it was a good last minute addition. Cheddar bake is super easy to make and sooo good to eat. It's a great brunch side dish.

This recipe makes a lot of cheddar bake serving 6 really hungry people or 1o (maybe 12) kinda hungry people. We've got leftovers so it looks like we'll be having breakfast for dinner tomorrow. Yum.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

So that's what 55 pounds of brisket looks like...

Last night was the Seder Dinner at my church that I was testing recipes for a few weeks ago (you can find that blog entry here). We ended up with 100 guests at 11 tables.

Here are some pics.

This is 55 pounds of brisket after browning. I would have liked to get it a little more browned, but after I had to put out a little grease fire in one of my pans I got a little nervous (and a lot more careful).

Here it is ready to go in the oven. That's onion, sun-dried tomatoes, beef stock, red wine and crushed tomatoes on top (I forgot the garlic, doh).

Here is 20 pounds of snap peas. Sadly the estimating guide in The Professional Chef was off by quite a bit. We had a lot of snap peas left.

Here's the Strawberry and Cream Lemon Cakes, 11 in all.

And this is me along with one of my volunteers, Ed (doesn't he look fancy).

I had hoped to get a few more pictures, but I got a little behind and I had to work more on plating than picture taking.

All in all I was quite please with how everything turned out. I received raved reviews and several requests for recipes, especially this one:

Savory Corn Bread Pudding

1 package corn bread mix (to make 8x8 pan) - I use Marie Callender's brand
1 can corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 eggs
1 cup milk
6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook cornbread according to package instructions, using variation for cooking with corn. When cool cut into cubes.

Saute onion and bell pepper, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Stir together the cubed cornbread and the sauteed vegetables. Pour into 8x8 inch pan.

Whisk together the eggs and milk and pour over cornbread mix. Let sit for at least one hour and up to overnight.

Arrange cherry tomatoes over the top and season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until cooked through.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Grilled Acorn Squash and Orange and Grilled Aspargus Salad

I have two grills, one gas and one charcoal, and I tend to be a year-round griller. In the winter the gas grill gets the most action. It's faster to light and heat so there is not as much time spent in the cold. Charcoal is reserved for summer when sitting outside for an hour while the coals get hot, makes sense (although I have been known to light the charcoal in the winter for a special occasion, say Christmas dinner)

Today in the Seattle area, we had our first day above 60 degrees in a long time (it was snowing three days ago so this is a welcome change) and I had the need to get outside.

We made a special trip to get propane for the gas grill, but as I was sitting outside, thinking about what to make, the charcoal grill started calling my name.

I started up the grill and made a two-level fire (hot on one side, medium on the other).

I bought a flat-iron steak and rubbed it with the Steak Seasoning mix from Costco (hey, there is nothing wrong with taking a little help now and then) and then turned my eye towards side dishes. I decided to make acorn squash and an asparagus and orange salad.

Here's the ingredients for the Orange and Grilled Asparagus Salad

1 tablespoon homemade pear and honey infused vinegar (sherry vinegar would be a good substitute)
1 teaspoon, brown sugar
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 orange, peeled and segmented
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped

In a bowl I whisked together the vinegar, brown sugar, shallot and oil. I cooked the asparagus on the hot side of the grill, tossing occasionally until it was cooked through.

I removed it from the grill cut it into smaller pieces and added it to the bowl. Once it cooled down, I added the orange segments and tarragon and tossed it to coat.

Here's the ingredients for the Grilled Acorn Squash with Whiskey and Brown Sugar Glaze

1 acorn squash, cut into rings
3 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup whiskey
1/4 cup brown sugar
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper

In a small saucepan I combined the butter, whiskey, brown sugar, cayenne and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil, then let it simmer for a few minutes, until it was thickened a bit.

I rubbed the acorn squash rings with oil and then seasoned them with salt and pepper. I put them on the cooler side of the grill to cook for 15 minutes, turning them over once.

Once they were fairly tender, I started brushing them with the glaze, about 5 minutes more of cooking and three or four coats of glaze.

I sliced the steak and served everything family style, along with some grilled bread.

The asparagus was a little overcooked (burned) but the salad was really good, as my mother (who is visiting) said "it's an unexpected combination of flavors".

The squash was really good, sweet and spicy. I served the leftover extra glaze alongside the squash so that a bit more could be added if desired. We ended up adding this to the spice-rubbed steak and it made it extra delicious.

I liked it, the husband liked it, and the mother kept saying "just a little more" to everything I made. Looks like the first serious grilling of the season was a success!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's in the Box?

I spent the entire weekend cooking and photographing meals for my Web site. This resulted in a plethora of (delicious) leftovers. They are however, just about gone, so regular cooking should resume tomorrow. With this:

1 Leek
1 bunch Green Onions

1.5 pounds Garnet Yams

.5 pound Snap Peas

1 Cucumbers

1 bunch Collard Greens
1 bunch Carrots

.75 pound Zucchini

1 pound Red Beets

1 Acorn Squash

1 pint Strawberries
2 each Ataulfo Mangoes
3 each Oranges