Thursday, March 29, 2007

Roasted chicken, white noodles and snow peas

This is a total comfort food meal for me, and a real standard in our house. Even before I became a real foodie, roasting a whole chicken was a form of therapy for me. I had one particular friend, Turtle, with a good sense of smell. He would come from up the hill and sop up the drippings in my poor-excuse-for-a-roasting pan whenever I had a particularly hard day.

I have officially given up on a Cook's Illustrated (no! really!) recipe because it is too high maintenance, and I like my results better. I am not rotating my dang chicken every 20 minutes or so, and please, let me slather it in some form of fat. It just comes out so much tastier! I used grapeseed oil on and under the skin, sprinkled it with Trocomare, and shoved a whole peeled lime in the cavity. I will never go back to butter. It was so tasty.

White pasta

8 oz egg noodles
2 T butter
2/3 cup sour cream

This is a basic super easy white sauce I do. I just cook and drain the egg noodles and add the butter and sour cream and Trocomare (an herbed salt blend). This is gobbled up by everyone in the house, and can be easily added to and made a main course. Add roasted chicken leftovers and spinach and cooked garlic. Or, add peas and prosciutto.

Glazed snow peas

Snow peas, ends trimmed
grated ginger
diced garlic
soy sauce

Heat oil in skillet. Add snow peas and carrots, cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, honey and soy sauce, and cook one more minute, or until garlic just opaque.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tuna Steak with Tibetan Hot Sauce

Tonight I made tuna steaks. When I worked at a health food store, I got a free jar of something called Tibetan Hot Sauce. It was more like a cooked hot salsa than a hot sauce, and it was fantastic over seared tuna steak. When the jar ran dry, the store wasn't carrying the product. So, I had to recreate it, or something similar enough.

Seared tuna steaks with "Tibetan Sauce" over wilted greens and lemongrass rice

a stalk of lemongrass
one tuna steak per person
oil (I use grapeseed oil)
a big bunch of greens (I used arugula and sorrel because that is what I had in my garden. Spinach would work fine)
lots of diced or crushed garlic, at least 3 T
salt and pepper
sesame seeds
toasted sesame oil
diced tomatoes (one can or a few ripe large tomatoes)
onion (I used green onions because I am growing them. I added the white parts in the sauce and saved the green tops for garnish)
2 or 3 stalks of celery, sliced length wise and then chopped
2 T tomato paste (I use Amore)
soy sauce
grated ginger
lemon basil

Put 2 1/2 c of water in a pot, and bring the lemongrass to a boil. Cover and simmer until water gets and attractive dark color and smells divine. Take out lemongrass and use this water to make the rice. I use about 1 1/2 c of rice

Sear tuna on each side to desired doneness. I recommend cast iron. I like mine very rare. Keeping a tuna steak frozen until cooking makes it easier to keep a dramatic red center (which I did not successfully do this time because I was distracted.) Picky likes his grey all the way through.

While the tuna steak is cooking, add 1 T of oil to a hot skillet. Saute greens until wilted and starting to change color. Add salt and pepper, half of garlic, and sesame seeds and stir for a minute until the garlic turns opaque. Put greens in a bowl and cover to keep warm. Wipe out pan and add tomatoes, celery, onion, tomato paste, and soy sauce. Cook until onions and celery are softened slightly. Add remainder of garlic and ginger and herbs, cook for another minute or two then remove.

Put down rice, then greens, then tuna steak, then top with sauce, scallions and sesame seeds. I also add roasted hot sauce, for which I will post a recipe soon. If there were no kids eating this, I would add the hot sauce while the tomatoes were cooking.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fried rice from leftovers

Picky is an eager shopper. He likes to buy two of every impulse buy. When I had him order dinner for us yesterday when I was running errands, he ordered double of all the appetizers. So, today I have a dozen extra large jerk-style chicken wings looking at me. No problemo.

Fried rice is one of my favorite things to make with leftovers. You can use steak, (beef or tuna), shrimp or shellfish, chicken, or keep it vegetarian. I shredded up the leftover chicken wings and added them to these ingredients:

broccoli, chopped
carrot, chopped
green onion (you can use white or yellow)
grated ginger
diced garlic
a scrambled egg
your leftover protein
cooked rice (I use 1 cup uncooked to make 2 1/2 or so cooked)
sesame seeds
soy sauce
toasted sesame oil

These ingredients are very flexible. Even the rice can be substituted with soba noodles, or spaghetti in a hitch. Any of the vegetables can be switched out for others. Squash, sugar snap peas, sweet peas, cabbage, bean sprouts, and many other veggies work well. If I plan the meal out ahead of time, I sometimes have a can of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and those yummy straw mushrooms, but last night I didn't. This is by no means an authentic formula. If had something called fish sauce in the house, I think Picky would throw it away.

I added the ingredients into a hot wok in the order shown. letting each cook a minute or two, or longer if needed. (For example, I was using raw broccoli, so that took a few extra minutes). I deglaze the pan each time with a little soy sauce, but I usually have to add a little more at the end. If I start the rice then start prepping the ingredients, the rice is done by the time I need it. I just scoot the veggies over in the wok and scramble the egg right there. If your protein is precooked, you can add it late just to warm it, and this is a super quick meal.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Someone give me a flippin' hand!

While I was cooking tonight I wondered, as I often do, how some people (who are much more coordinated than me) do that cool flippy thing with a skillet full of hot food. And, how do you practice doing it without burning yourself and making a huge mess? Okay, for me an even huger mess.

So, I shot a question over to my buddy BadBadIvy at her new, AWESOME site Home-ec 101. She should be putting up an answer soon. She told me that her husband can do it really well. I told her that I think it's a guy thing, kind of like armpit farts.

Hamburgers to DIE for

So, I decided to start a cooking blog, and I proceed to make red meat three times in a week. I swear, I thought we usually eat it about three times a month. We'll have to keep track on here and see.

If I had to pick one food item that is worth a real brag on my part, it would have to be my burgers. Good thing too, burgers are Picky's favorite food.

These were made with buffalo meat. If you are going to use beef, I usually use ground round, because that is what my mother used. I am also not fat phobic. I haven't ever tried this with turkey, but who knows.

This is a true non-measuring foodie recipe. Sorry, for those of you who don't like foodie types like me who don't measure, but I really don't measure when I make burgers. I adjust everything to the amount of meat and my mood.

Put the meat in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Wash your hands and take off them rings.

Put in the well:
diced garlic
crackers (I use ak mak) ground up in a food processor
an egg
mustard (ground or wet...lately I use a smoky mustard and it is phenom)
salt and pepper (I use Trocomare)
oil of oregano (I got mine in the supplement section of a health food store. Yummy, fragrant and kills germs!)

Mix just until incorporated, cook til they're done to taste (silly Picky likes everything wellllll done), and accept compliments with grace.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Meaty day

Picky made me this yummy prosciutto and cheese sandwich for lunch. I added marinated fresh tomato from my garden, and it was delicious! Tomatoes soaked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar are a favorite of everyone in my house. Oh yeah, except for Picky. He won't even eat prosciutto, come to think of it. Boiled ham, sure.

I am new to this food blogging thing. Please laugh with me at my horrible picture. Not only does it lack in all sorts of food picture ways, but there is a bite out of one of them. Yes, I couldn't wait to take the picture, and had a bite.

Tonight we will be having corned beef and cabbage. I will be using this recipe from my buddy Stefania. Every recipe I have made of hers has been fantabulous. She mentioned me in an entry and I glowed with pride. Maybe I'm yummy too, because everything else in her blog sure is.

The one difference will be that I will be using my own homegrown cabbage! I am so excited. I glow with pride once again. These have to be the coolest things I have ever grown. OK, I admit it. I also added a bottle of Guinness as part of the "Cover with cold water" step. Inspired by my buddy Mountainmomma's Irish dad. Thanks!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, or as my friend's boy says, Happy Mattress Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Easy night for Picky

Tonight will be an easy night for Picky. We are having steak. I was never a big red meat fan or steak fan, but I have learned to make it and even enjoy it occasionally. Picky would talk so fondly of his family splitting a T-bone as a child, it tugged at my comfort-food heart strings.

I don't get T-bones, usually. I am making top sirloin tonight, which is my favorite cut. Cook's Illustrated (I luff that magazine) recommended top sirloin as the best inexpensive cut of steak, and I must say I agree.

I usually throw a marinade on the steak of balsamic and olive oil and salt and pepper. We almost always have cheesy polenta on the side, and I think that will be the case tonight. S is the one who is too picky for the chessy polenta (of all things not to like!) so we usually save that for nights he is not eating dinner with us, and he will be with his grandma tonight.

Here is my recipe, and it is an original:

Cheesy Polenta

• 2 cups whole milk or buttermilk
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring milk, water, and salt to a boil. Gradually whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook 20 minutes, until creamy, lifting the lid and stirring every 3 or 4 minutes to prevent sticking. Remove pot from stove, stir in pepper and butter. Gradually stir in cheese.

I prefer it with Gorgonzola, but I am the only one who does. Please note: Gorgonzola is not a picky friendly cheese. I have been able to sneak it in my quest veggie muffins, which I will post soon. They are dang good. I will post pics later, if all goes according to plan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Picky does pulled pork

I went for a job interview and to run some errands this afternoon. I took a chance before I left the house. I opened up a recipe I had written for pulled pork on the computer and left it there, and left a defrosted pork Boston butt in the fridge.

Picky and I did a quick kid switcheroo at his school at the end of basketball practice. He was busy collecting equipment, so it was basically a hand-off. (He loves sports references). He called me on his way home with the kids, and as he was trying to end the conversation, I slipped in "Hey-do-you-think-you-can-start-the-pork-for-me-
just-a-few-ingredients-is-that-OK-huh?" After some resistance and grousing, Picky agreed. If it was anything but the pulled pork, I think he would have said no and ordered pizza.

I told him I would let him slide on the searing step in the beginning and he didn't have to go pick onions from the garden, I would add them in later. He started going over the recipe with me and asking me amounts and I said "Just do whatever it says on the recipe, but remember this is a four pound cut, not a 12 pound pork shoulder like I wrote the recipe for."

Well, he added the full amounts for everything. Not that big a deal, since I eyeball everything and am usually pretty generous, but the poor pork was swimming in liquid when I got home and rushed to the rescue. I took the lid off and turned the pork up to high heat, and boiled off all the extra liquid. It was a tad heavy on the paprika and I totally could tell he had used a spice blend instead of the red pepper flakes (BAD Picky!) but it was scrumptious.

Here is the original recipe, by me totally from my noggin.

Pulled pork

12 lb picnic pork shoulder (only size they had!)
2 T grapeseed oil (or whatever oil ya got)
2 large yellow onions, diced
2 T paprika
1 T salt
1 t red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
4 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 12 oz can diced tomatoes
1 T diced garlic
1/4 cup maple syrup

Remove as much of the large layer of fat that you can with a sharp knife. It should come off in one piece if you separate and remove it in a sawing motion from one end.
Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Rinse pork shoulder and pat dry.
Put pork shoulder in hot oil, fat remainder side down. Let fat sear and sizzle for about 15 minutes. Turn the pork on one of the uncooked sides.

Add onions, paprika and salt. Make sure onions fall into the hot oil and fat. Cook until fragrant and opaque. Turn pork onto other uncooked side. Add red pepper flakes, bay leaves, water and vinegar. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium to medium low (enough to maintain a healthy simmer) and cover. Boil until tender, about 4 hours. Turn pork occasionally, and check for tenderness.

When meat is tender and it shreds with a fork, add can of tomatoes. Cook ½ hour longer.
Add garlic and maple syrup. Stir, and turn off heat.

Shred meat from bones with 2 forks. Eat and enjoy.

I served this with French hamburger buns, onion rings and fresh tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. (On the side, because Picky only likes the tomatoes plain, you know.)

Peas and tortellini

Picky is off to school with a sammich, apple, and cookies in his lunch box. But, I still have three mouths to feed here for lunch. S stayed home from school, and Z is on a hobbit eating schedule. We had our favorite lunch: tortellini and peas.

Fix your packaged (I use frozen) tortellini according to the label instructions. During the last minute of boiling the tortellini, toss in at least half a cup of frozen peas (I eyeball it, but I eyeball everything. Thus my crappy results with bread baking). Drain, add butter and seasoning (hooray, Trocomare!) and enjoy!

Jennifer beat me to it in the comments on my last entry of lists of foods the picky one won't eat. My Picky won't eat peas. She said "peas (what are you? three years old?)?"


My two and a half year old, eight year old and I gobbled this up!

What WON'T Picky eat?

My Picky has a serious list of foods he won't eat.

beans (of ANY kind, except green beans)
duck, lamb, or most "exotic" meats (I did get him to eat buffalo burgers and meatloaf)
brussel sprouts

Anyone else got a list?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tilapia tomatoes and greens

Whenever it's seafood night, Picky suddenly has this sweet idea that I really need a break and maybe we should order in. Pizza, Chinese food, or something decidedly not fish.

This is one dish that, when I make it, he always cleans his plate and, at the end of the meal, says "Next time, you should make more."

You can use any white fish. I love red snapper made this way. You can substitute many vegetables in this recipe.
olive oil
chopped onions (I used green onions from my garden, or about one large)
celery (2 or 3 stalks)
4 tilapia fillets, about 1 1/2 lbs
tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes from my garden, but you can use one can of diced tomatoes)
crushed garlic to taste
white wine (1/2 cup or so)
salt and pepper (or Trocoamare)
fresh greens (use a lot - they really reduce in size when they wilt)
Fresh green herbs, like basil or cilantro, at least a few tablespoons, chopped

Put a big skillet on medium high. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add onions and celery and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring. Add garlic and saute just until fragrant, about one minute, stirring. Spread them out and add fish fillets in a layer on top. Sprinkle with seasoning. Add tomatoes, garlic, white wine, and finally add chopped greens and herbs to the top. I used sorrel and arugula from my garden, but bag of fresh baby spinach does really well.

Cover, turn down to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes or until fish is done.

I served this with basmati rice and roasted brussel sprouts. Z crammed the brussel sprouts in his mouth with his bare hands, S and Picky picked at them, and roommate and I thought they were delicious.

Bad mommy, good cookie

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I am a bad mommy. I gave Z the cookie with the burned bottom, and I kept one that was perfectly done for myself. Of course, this cookie monster will eat a cookie that's covered in dog turd. Not that I have ever tried to feed him one, but S may have.

These are killer cookies. As my pastry chef roommate says, the dough is delicious. Best raw dough around, and the cookie part of the cooked cookie ain't bad either.

You can put anything in this dough. I am sure it will work unadorned, although I am not sure why you would want to. We have put leftover chopped up Halloween and Valentine's candy in, and I am planning on trying them soon with macadamias and craisins. (For me and S. I have a feeling Picky will turn those down, if he can resist. We'll see what happens late at night.)

This is the baisc recipe, and even though Picky bitches every time about their being nuts in them, he says they are the "best chocolate chip cookies in the world."

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup high cacao-content chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans or slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups of accoutrements of your choice. I pretend these are semi-healthy due to dark chocolate (high in antioxidants) and nuts.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls (or, as I do, use a mini ice cream scoop) onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
Cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 3 dozen.

Foodie loves picky

I decided since I cook so much, eat so much, troll foodie blogs and websites so much, and post about my cooking on message boards so much, I should just join everybody and their dog (thanks nessy) and start my own food blog.

So, here it is. The concept: I am a foodie who will eat almost anything and who loves to cook new and exciting recipes. My husband has, as his sister described to me when she was giving me the pros and cons lowdown on him when we started dating, a "plebian palate" and would prefer to eat mac and cheese and a burger every night. It's not the kids I have to worry about, even though there are two lovely ones, S and Z, who also appear in my other blog. The two year old and the almost eight year old fight over miso soup and wakame salad when we order in sushi, but we always have to make sure that the restaurant also has batter fried chicken with glow in the dark sweet and sour glue sauce for Picky.