Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Braised Beef Brisket, p. 743

Brief description: Brown meat, cook onions til slightly browned, stir in garlic and tomato paste. Place meat on top and cook in the oven for a long time til tender.

The instructions said to cook in a dutch oven. I have one cute little red one I purchased at an estate sale. I didn't think that the meat wouldn't fit in. So I put the cute little pot on the stove and heated it, swirled in some olive oil and then attempted to put the beef in. Hmm... didn't work. Too big. Both Bryan and I tried shoving the brisket in, to no avail. So I grabbed a pan we had handy, forgetting that it needed a lid. Oh well, we improvised by putting a cookie sheet on top.

The beef browned alright, I guess. I'm not a browning expert. I usually skip this step if it isn't necessary. Then it was the onions turn. The recipe calls for two cups. Bryan hate onions, but I had a couple on hand, so I just chopped two small onions.

I dare you to tell me that doesn't look delicious. YUM!

We did the prep work, got it in the oven, set the timer, and retired to the living room for a while until it was time to see if it was done. (Actually Bryan flipped it every 30 minutes for two and a half hours, per instructions.)

Looks delicious! I cooked some egg noodles to serve the brisket on top.

There you have it, a hearty meal.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Broiled Pork Chops, p. 747

Brief description: pork chops broiled, seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

This is a very simple, straightforward recipe. Rub some olive oil and lemon juice (we didn't have lemons or lemon juice on hand, so we substituted lime.. its similar right? Bryan said that they both prevented "the scurvy" so we should be fine) on the pork chops, salt and pepper and broil for a few minutes on each side.

Here's the finished product, which we served with fresh corn on the cob and steamed broccoli. Simple, delicious and nutritious meal!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stir Fried Lamb with Green Peppers p. 769

Brief description: cook peppers until brown, brown the lamb, add the peppers, lamb and fermented black beans soaked in wine and cook together for 5-10 minutes.

I was eager to try lamb. And the recipe looked pretty easy, perfect for a weeknight dinner. Bryan doesn’t like peppers, but it was an easy substitution of green beans. Although, when I was at the store they had the worst looking green beans I’ve ever encountered in my life, but being lazy, I went ahead and got them instead of going to Easy Way down the street.

I hadn’t heard of fermented black beans before and couldn’t find any further information on them in the book. I checked the short “ethnic” food aisle at the grocery and didn’t find anything, so I went with a can of regular black beans. Later I looked it up online. Apparently my grocery does not have a “quality” ethnic food aisle. Oh well.

My grocery store also did not have the right cut of lamb. And after a brief discussion with the butcher, if you can call her that, I discovered that lamb is very expensive. I’m not made of money, Mr. Bittman. So I went home, made Bryan take me to dinner, and went to the grocery the next day with an alternative meat in mind. So I purchased some sirloin and went home.

Basically this whole meal was a big failure and I shouldn’t even post that I tried it. All major ingredients were different or wrong. Oh well. We all learn from our mistakes. Today’s lesson: too many substitutions make for a different recipe entirely, as well as don’t buy shady green beans.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Corn Salad with Avocado p. 207

Brief description: Fresh corn kernels browned slightly, tossed with red onion, tomato, avocado, chili powder, lime juice, and cilantro.

I made this dish to go on a picnic dinner, along with the carrot salad. The recipe calls for bell pepper, but I left it out since Bryan doesn’t like it, but I did add tomato and half a red onion to his chagrin.

I browned the corn the night before due to timing issues. I added in the onion and chili powdered, stirred, and left it out to cool before refrigerating. This was really good because it softened the onions some. The day of the picnic, I added the rest of the ingredients, so that they would be fresh.

The dish turned out perfectly and Bryan even said it was good despite the onion and tomato. I fell in love with this dish and will probably make it 3 more times at least throughout the summer, starting today.

(Sorry for the poor quality photo)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Carrot Salad with Cumin p. 188

Brief Description: Julienne or cut the carrots, toss with orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin.

My dual food processor/blender does not come with a julienne attachment. So I just grated a whole ton of carrots. It’s more difficult than it sounds. Anyways, it turned out great. I took this dish on a picnic dinner and it was perfect for a hot evening. Crunchy, refreshing, with an interesting taste.

(Please ignore the messy countertop.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Broccoli Raab with Garlic and Percorino p. 270

Brief description: Boil or steam broccoli raab, cook with garlic and top with cheese.

I had never heard of broccoli raab until I started reading this book. As a lover of broccoli, I was intrigued. I had never even seen it before. But a few weeks ago I was at the farmers market and saw a sign for some. I had to buy it to try it. This recipe worked well for us since I like garlic and cheese.

The broccoli raab was basically like spinach, only not as tasty. It turned out okay, definitely edible, but neither Bryan nor I enjoyed it tremendously. Fortunately there was hardly any left overs. Brocooli raab is not for us.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mashed Potatoes p. 339.

Brief description: Mashed. Potatoes.

Bryan loves potatoes and he suggested that I make mashed potatoes to go with the Spicy Batter-fried Chicken.

It’s a pretty straight forward recipe. Cook the potatoes, drain, mash. What’s really interesting is page 340 there is a chart of more ways to flavor mashed potatoes. I choose to add a cup of cheddar cheese because I wasn’t feeling too adventurous. But its definitely something to look at and come back to. Bryan would make me make some right now to add ketchup to mashed potatoes. Its charts like that which make me love this cookbook.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Spicy Batter-Fried Chicken p. 666

Brief description: Batter: curry powder, allspice, garlic, cayenne, flour, and egg. Fry in peanut oil.

Growing up my mother never fried anything. Ever. If we were to have fried chicken, it came in a bucket with a bearded man on the side of it. (The bucket, not the chicken.) So frying something is not something I’m inclined to do. But Bryan choose page number 666 during a recent came of Cookbook Roulette and I found myself learning to fry.

On the first two pieces the batter did not seem to stick with the chicken very well.

The second two, I dried with a paper towel before battering and that seemed to work better.

In the end it didn’t seem to matter because very little batter stuck with the chicken till the end. After reading the Basics of Fried Chicken on page 663 later, I would suggest frying in two batches next time. I didn’t think the skillet was too crowded, but perhaps giving the pieces even more space would have helped in the end.

The chicken was still delicious and is something I’d like to try again in the future. Just remember to read up on frying if you are a novice before trying it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Creamed Corn with Cheese p. 290

Brief description: Cook corn in butter, cream, and a pinch of cayenne. Add cheese towards the end. Viola! Creamed corn with cheese.

We eat our fair share of corn. Bryan loves it. Corn is even one of the reasons we started dating, but that’s another story for another day.

This was one of the first recipes I made from the book. There was a similar recipe I’ve used from another cookbook (prior to this one, of course) that had become one of our favorites. This one has taken its place.

Bryan said it was the “best corn ever.” That’s a direct quote, my friends. I’ve made it several times, always delicious and will continue to please.

Simply take the corn off the shucks, or use frozen. It's delicious both ways.

Cook with your butter, milk or cream for about 10 minutes or so.

Served here with pork tenderloin and fresh peas.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Broiled eggplant p. 274

Brief description: Sliced eggplant broiled with olive oil and garlic brushed on.

The only other time I’ve had eggplant is when my grandmother has fried it. Oh my gosh, I’ve only had it once or twice and its been about 10-15 years since the last time, but it lives in my memory as one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I was nervous and anxious to try it any other way and to have to cook it myself. It looks a little freaky to be honest. Purple on the outside, green on the inside?

But I have to say, this turned out amazing. One of the best things I’ve ever cooked. Although Bryan didn’t like it one little bit. He doesn’t like onion, so what does he know.

The eggplant was so tender, so delicious; it can only be compared to the deliciousness of a filet mignon. Yes, that is a bold claim, but I will stand by my opinion. Oh to have a bite right now! I’m in love. I will never doubt eggplant again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today Show

Here's a video of Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything, on the Today show this morning. (I didn't get to watch it because the Big Switch took away my channel 5 despite the fact that I have the digital converter box. Anyone who knows how to correct this, please leave a comment.)

Meals to come in the future and for you to try yourself!

Mixed Vegetables with Peanut Sauce p. 212

Brief description: Mix cooked, cube potatoes with green beans, carrots, cabbage, and peanut sauce. Serve over lettuce, garnish with boiled egg and cucumbers.

This recipe I made because of our game Cookbook Roulette. When I’m out of ideas or cravings for what to make for dinner, I have Bryan pick a number, we turn to that page, and then whatever is on or near that page, we make! It’s a fun game and has led us to make things we normally wouldn’t have. Like this one.

I have to confess a short cut though. On a whim a few weeks before I bought a peanut dressing. It was okay, but not the kind of thing I would normally choose put on a salad. So I used the dressing instead of making the Peanut Sauce on p. 55. But I will make it eventually. I just didn’t feel like making it that particular day when I had something similar on hand. Its call good stewardship.

The night I made this two of Bryan’s friends came over for a few minutes and I offered to fix them a plate. They agreed and seemed to like it. Everyone thought it “felt” extremely healthy, so I guess that’s good. We didn’t have enough to have leftovers since we served 4. But it was a good meal, different from our norm.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sautéed Cabbage with Balsamic Vinegar p. 275

Brief description: sautéed cabbage with balsamic vinegar. Yup title pretty much sums it up.

We don’t each much cabbage. In fact, I hate cabbage. But for some recipe I had most of a red cabbage laying around. What to do with most of a cabbage? Sauté it with balsamic vinegar!

I like balsamic vinegar and I like covering gross foods with flavorings that I like, so this was right up my alley.

As far as execution, it was a very easy recipe. Taste: Bryan ate one bite, I think. I hate my serving and maybe had another the next day. But threw the rest out. It was edible, but for someone who doesn’t like cabbage, it wasn’t good enough to completely change my opinion. If you do like cabbage, give this recipe a try, you’ll probably like it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Broiled Beef Kebabs, p. 732

Part two of Mom’s Birthday Kebab dinner. Since I couldn’t decide between chicken or beef, I decided to do both so others could decide.

I strayed from this recipe a little more than usual. I marinated the meat for a couple of hours and left it separate from the veggies. I put different veggies (tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, squash, and pineapple) in bowls and let each guest skewer their own veggie kebab.

The tenderloin I marinated and skewered and then broiled them inside while Bryan grilled the chicken kebabs inside.

I think I left them sit a little bit too long in the oven because our timing was off. Otherwise they would have been to die for.

We split the tenderloin we purchased in half so be expecting a beef tenderloin recipe coming up in the future.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grilled Chicken Kebabs p. 669

For my mom’s birthday last week she requested kebabs. I jumped at the chance to get to use the recipes from the book. Beef kebabs will be posted tomorrow.

I marinated the chicken for several hours in the fridge while I got everything else ready. They turned out tender and delicious.

I purchased a little extra chicken and we wound up with chicken kebabs for days… there might even be a kebab or two somewhere in the back of the fridge still.

Bryan and I thought they were even better the next day. We used our left over chicken in salads and with other foods.

The chart on page 670-671 to vary chicken kebabs will definitely be something we’ll tackle in the future.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Simplest Paella p. 470

Bryan loves rice. One night when I asked what we should cook for dinner he suggested a rice based dish. I searched the book and thought it would be fun to try Paella. I have actually only had paella once, in NYC. So I was a bit nervous trying it out.

The recipe calls for shrimp and this was the first time I have cooked with shrimp or bought shrimp. (I am very skeptical around shrimp because of a prior food poisoning.) But it turned out okay. Mental note to self: buy already peeled shrimp next time.

The flavor was good and everyone enjoyed it ... at least I did. Paella=Success!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Meat Loaf p. 723

The husband doesn't like onions, of course, so I substituted an extra carrot for an onion. I think it was too much, should have just left it out. I also didn't have sage and didn't feel like buying it.

I felt it was a bit bland, but the boys said that the bacon on top gave it good flavor. Which was a fluke that I even had it around.

This is the first recipe to sort of disappoint. Good thing I had the asparagus and potato to make up for it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stir Fried Asparagus, p 259

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. We eat them fairly often, usually cooked in the oven for 10-15 minutes til crisp. I have a feeling that this recipe will make it into our regular menu. Almost as easy as putting it on a cookie sheet, but adds tons of flavor. I opted to add some ginger since we had it and it only enhanced the flavor.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pasta Carbonara p. 505-506

One of my favorite dishes at a restaurant that is now closed was a chicken carbonara. So I was excited to try this one. I was perplexed by the recipe regarding the eggs, it was a little vague. But a dear friend, told me to just wisk them and then put the hot pasta in there. It turned out beautifully.

In fact, while we were eating this meal Bryan turned to me to say that he doesn't like eating out as much because it is more of a gamble to see if the food will be as good as mine. He's very sweet, you can see why I like him. Even though he doesn't like my leeks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Leeks Braised in Red Wine, p. 311

I had never had leeks, or at least I don't think I've ever had leeks before. You never can tell when you eat out sometimes. Anyways, I read an article not too long ago, so I was anxious to try them. I was out shopping at Easy Way last week and they had some. I hadn't noticed them at my Shady Schnuck's before, so I went ahead and purchased them.

Two leeks chopped up looked like quite a bit.

But they cooked down and took on the color and flavor of the wine.

I have to say, I loved them. They were very similar to sauteed onions, which is why Bryan took one bite and offered me the rest of his. Oh well. He loved the pasta carbonara, which will be coming up next.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Couscous Casserole p. 480

This was one of the very first recipes I made out of the book. I had my brother- and sister-in-law over for dinner. Actually I had planned to cook this and then asked what our plans were for that night, so I invited them over. It was more than enough, providing the husband and I lunch leftovers for a couple of days.

This is a good use for summer squash and zucchini during those summer months.

DEFINITELY will make again... and again. Delicious. The only thing I didn't like was having to prepare the tomato sauce. It was like cooking to cook, and I'm not a fan of that. Next time will remember to cook a big batch of the tomato sauce a day or so ahead for pasta or something.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Homemade Bread Crumbs p. 876

To me this seemed like the craziest thing ever. Why would you make bread crumbs when you can buy it. They come in a variety of flavors and don't require getting the food processor messy. But I have seen the error in my ways.

Fresh bread crumbs use up the old bread that you aren't going to eat and provide an overall better texture. I intend to play with it in the future to add different flavors to the crumbs to spice up whatever I'm cooking.

Until then, I have a bag full to find a use for... Anyone have suggestions for recipes that call for bread crumbs?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Roasted Chicken Breast with Bread Crumbs p. 673

I ran into several problems with this recipe.
1) Somehow we were out of eggs. So I substituted the egg white with melted butter. Its more fattening, but worked like a charm
2) No fresh parsley. Bosco dug up my parsley and then broke my anitque Mexican flower pot. Its a bit of a sore subject. So I just dumped a bunch of the dry flaky stuff in there.

It was an easy and fast recipe to follow. The chicken turned out beautifully and the bread crumbs were just lightly toasted on top. Will definately be cooking again, but would recommend throwing in some more spices into the bread crumbs.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Broiled Skirt Steak page 729

I started reading the beef section last week. As I was flipping through Saturday drinking my coffee I was thinking about making either a flank steak or brisket. I've made brisket several times and its been delicious. So that was how I was leaning. Bryan and I went to the farmers market and found a local vendor selling meat. He sells all his brisket to one of our favorite restaurants, so it was hard to be mad that I couldn't have my first choice. The seller recommended skirt steak and I thought I remembered skirt steak could be substituted in a flank steak recipe.

We brought it home and started the marinade. We weren't sure when we were going to eat it, either Saturday evening or sometime Sunday, but I wanted to go ahead and get it started. We ended up broiling it in the oven Sunday evening. I don't know if it was the meat itself (I've never had skirt steak before) or marinading it for so long, but oh my goodness, that was some of the best meat we've had in a long time. It was so tender and delicious. Definitely one of my new favorites.