Friday, July 31, 2009

Milk-Steamed Corn on the Cob p. 289

My normal method of cooking fresh corn on the cob (is there un-fresh corn on the cob?) is to boil it. We’ve begun experimenting with corn wrapped in foil on the grill this summer, but we’ve never tried steamed. The idea of steaming the corn with milk sounded good.

As part of our Angel Food box we got milk in the container… you know the kind that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. I can’t remember what its called because I threw the carton away and Bryan took out the trash. Since that is a stabilized milk, so it can stay on the shelf for longer, I decided to try steaming with that.

But since we have never steamed corn before, its hard to give a comparison. Mark Bittman suggests using this method with “less-than-ideal” corn, which is probably a good suggestion. I started off having less-than-ideal corn, but that turned into rotting, mildewed corn, which then found its way to the trash can. Disappointed I couldn’t make the corn, I went to our local produce store to purchase some fresher corn on the cob to make this recipe. I picked the white corn, its my favorite and tends to be sweeter. But I can see the corn that is mixed yellow and white being good using this recipe. I’ll let you know.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stuffed Flank Steak p. 737

This was probably my second biggest undertaking so far, second only to the tamales. And this round was much more successful than the other. It’s not a difficult dish to make, just a little time consuming. The time estimate given was at least 2 hours and I took about two and a half hours.

Ingredients: Flank steak (obviously), salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, garlic, cilantro (or parsley), carrots, eggs, red or white onion (I used half a red onion), spinach, and EVOO.

The most challenging thing to do was to cut the meat in half. I let Bryan do it and after a few expletives, our meat was cut and ready for stuffing.

Start with your spices and work your way up in consistency.

Here it is with everything but spinach.

Spinach goes on last. Then roll and tie. This was also challenging because I didn’t leave enough room on the edges, so things fell out. The recipe called for three carrots, and I ended up using only two. My steak was very stuffed.

Brown your meat on the stove for a few minutes on each side and then pop in the oven. The cook time is over an hour, which will give you time to clean your kitchen, watch a movie, or do laundry.

Its an impressive dish to serve guests. Prepare, clean up your kitchen, and welcome your guests. They’ll be impressed with the luxurious smell wafting through the house and then you can whip it out oven and they will begin to drool. And you can say, yeah, I cook and excellent meal and hardly even get the kitchen dirty… to their knowledge.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quick Glazed Carrots, p. 277

Ingredients: carrots, butter or EVOO, salt, pepper, lemon juice.

I had carrots on hand from my last Angel Food package and decided to glaze them as part of an afternoon lunch. I’ve glazed carrots before with whiskey, which is delicious, but a little fattening.

For this recipe Mark Bittman suggests using water, wine or stock to simmer the carrots in. I choose wine since we had some on hand and I love cooking with wine. I used butter as well and those two flavors really worked well together.

Let your carrots cook in the wine, butter, sat and pepper for several minutes and garnish with a little lemon juice. Simple and delicious.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash p. 355

Ingredients: butter or EVOO, garlic, zucchini (or summer squash), salt, pepper, lemon juice, parsley for garnish.

This isn’t a new dish to me. My mom used to make it all the time in the summer and I learned how to make it later on as well. It was a quick, simple, delish way to enjoy the bounty of summer produce. If only my husband would like it…. Sigh.

Garlic and lemon juice was something new to me, though, and it really adds some zest.

Too cook this dish, simply mince your garlic and cook in your olive oil or butter. (I prefer olive oil for this dish.) Once its heated through add your zucchini. The book recommends cutting it crosswise, but I was cooking a lot and its easier for me to chop it in rounds. Let it sauté for a few minutes until your desired tenderness. I like mine to almost melt in your mouth. Serve garnishing with lemon juice and parsley.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Baked Potato p. 336

Ingredients: potato, salt and pepper

Everyone knows how to bake a potato, but its in the book and so therefore I must cook and post. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what temperature and for how long to cook… so basically I didn’t know how to cook a baked potato, and referred to the book. But that’s what its here for. To help people like me, who don’t even know how to bake a potato.

Here’s how you do it. Take your potato, wash it real good, cook for 425 for an hour. Done.

We topped our potatoes with butter, season salt, and fresh cheddar cheese. I thought about adding some fresh salsa I had on hand, but decided that would go with my Steak au Poivre.

Mark Bittman does offer a list of various topping to put on a baked potato if you want to sauce it up. But I’m not going to tell you what they are, buy the book.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Steak au Poivre p. 730

Also called: Pan-seared steak with black pepper and red wine

Ingredients: tenderloin (I used a strip steak), ground black pepper, butter, shallot, wine, tarragon, salt.

This month I ordered Angel Food Ministries box. I’ve done it once in the past, but didn’t like the quality of meat, so I didn’t order it for quite a few months. This month’s box looked better and promised higher quality. Having taken advantage of perhaps one too many summer sales, I decided a week of cheap food was in order. In the box I received 4 New York strip steaks. I searched through the book to find something I could do with my meat and came across this recipe.

So, what initially drew me to this recipe was that I couldn’t pronounce it. I like it when something I cook is too complicated for me to even pronounce. It makes me feel all fancy. Plus it called for wine, which required a trip to the liquor store to stock up. And once I opened a bottle of wine, that would mean it would be open and some would be left, and I would just have to drink some, otherwise it would be wasteful. I’d hate to waste wine.

Back to the food, this is an easy and fast recipe which results in something tender and delicious. Sprinkle your steaks with some freshly ground pepper and then pan sear them for a few minutes on each side.

Then you cook some shallots (which I didn’t happen to have this time, but certainly would be delicious) with your red wine and tarragon, and reduce the liquid. When you serve your steak pour some of the red wine sauce over it.

I haven’t cooked much with tarragon before, I was actually surprised to find that I had it. But it is a flavor I definitely love and will try to use more of in the future. It’s perfect on steak. We, again, weren’t impressed with the quality of the meat, but we didn’t let that stop us from devouring it. Try this recipe today. It will change your life.

Served with baked potato and green beans

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa p. 33

Ingredients: chiles, tomatillos, scallions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

I didn’t have chiles, but I did have some jalepeno peppers on hand. That’s the same right? Similar? Okay, whatever, its what I had… which is weird because I’ve never ever had them on hand before. In fact this was my first experience with a fresh pepper. I have to admit I was nervous about it. I’m not a huge fan of jalepeno peppers, but I had them on hand and they seem to be a must with Mexcian cooking.

Basically I’m too lazy to finely chop everything, so I chopped coarsely and popped everything in the food processor to blend.

I also made some fresh salsa at the same time. I didn’t put any peppers in the salsa this time, mainly because I forgot. The tomatillo salsa was more of a hit than the regular tomato salsa. While, my salsa recipe does need tweeking to my specific tastes, this tomatillo recipe is perfect.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Sorry, no new post today. Regular posting will resume later this week.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quick Braised Fish Fillets in Tomato Sauce p. 570

Brief description: braise fish fillets, set aside. Cook onions, garlic, and tomatoes for a few minutes with wine, return fish to tomatoes, serve over rice or pasta.

Ingredients: EVOO, fish fillets, salt, pepper, all purpose flower, farlic, onion, white wine, tomato, and basil.

I like to buy a bag of frozen fish fillets, like tilapia or flounder, to keep in the freezer for week night meals. They are so easy to cook and are always delicious and nutritious. One night I wanted to cook fish and flipped through the fish section for an idea and stumbled upon this recipe. I had everything on hand, so I made it.

We now keep a post it flag on its page permanently. I’ve made it several times, once even for guests, and it is one of our favorite meals. It’s perfect over angel hair pasta. Bryan doesn’t even mind the tomatoes too much. I’ve made it with and without the wine, and I recommend it with wine if you have it. It just gives it an extra oomph.

Another plus about this meal is that it’s basically a one pot meal. I cook the fish in the same pot as the tomatoes. Of course there are the prep stuff like knives, cutting board, and measuring devices, but it’s relatively little clean up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Broiled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Curry p. 752

Ingredients: Dijon mustard, curry powder, pork tenderloin.

I love serving pork tenderloin when having guests. Its easy to prepare and always delicious. This recipe doesn’t disappoint.

Simply mix your mustard and curry powder (add some salt and pepper while you’re at it) cover your uncooked tenderloin.

Then broil until done… about ten to twenty minutes.

I recently purchased a meat thermometer, which is one of the best kitchen tools. How to Cook Everything often gives the proper meat temperature (there is even a chart in the back of the book for all different types of meat) and it much handier (and more aesthetically pleasing) to pop in the thermometer instead of slicing it open. Inevitably when we sliced the meat pre-thermometer it would always get overcooked. Those days are over. If you haven’t purchased a meat thermometer, please go get one today.

Broiled pork tenderloin with mustard curry, served with creamed corn, and pink eyed peas.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Broiled Tomatoes with Basil p. 362

I know I spoke yesterday about my love for cooked onions and how that meant summer to me. But the other food that means summer to me is a cooked tomato. Slice it, bake it for 10-15 minutes with some Italian dressing and parmesan and I’m in heaven. Yeah, that’s a lot of Italian dressing and parmesan, but isn’t it worth it?

This dish couldn’t be simplier. Cut tomatoes in slices, brush with olive oil and salt and pepper. Broil for a couple of minutes, top with fresh basil. Done.

The basil is a great addition to my usual Italian dressing and parmesan.

Serve with roasted onions and you’ve got yourself a Bryan-free meal. And summer on a plate.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Balsamic Roasted Onion Halves p. 327

Ingredients: EVOO, onions, salt and pepper, thyme.

Vidalia onions. Oh my. I would go on a rant about how much I love Vidalia onions, but I don’t want to bore you. One of my very favorite things about summer is Vidalia onions. I’m not sure if its just a southern thing, or what, but they are delicious. My mom would peel a whole onion, cut off the tops and bottoms, scoop out a little divet in the top of one and pour some Italian dressing and parmesan cheese on top and cook it for like an hour. It was my very favorite dish growing up.

Bryan was going to be late one night from work last week, so I knew it was the perfect opportunity to make onions. With this recipe simply peel your onions, cut off the tops and bottoms, cut it in half horizontally. I opted for the balsamic roasted version and let them sit in a little bit of balsamic vinegar before cooking.

They turned out pretty good, but I still craved that Italian dressing flavor with them at the end. With the balsamic and thyme it really kicked up the flavor. Try it today, while the sweet onions are still in season.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Linguine with Garlic and Oil p. 504

Ingredients: salt, EVOO, garlic, spaghetti of some shape or size, parsley.

The other day I happened upon a stellar shrimp recipe and wanted to cook a little pasta to go along with it. The recipe suggested a tortellini or other stuffed pasta, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I just boiled some spaghetti. I turned to this recipe to accompany the shrimp.

Basically, besides boiling the water and cooking the spaghetti, you cook the minced garlic in some olive oil. And pour it over the spaghetti. I topped mine with a little fresh parmesan that I had on hand. (I need my cheese.)

Overall it was fine, a little bit too oil-y tasting for me, and we ultimately threw out the left over garlic oil. But its an easy sauce to whip up if you want a light side dish.

Served with beer shrimp and a salad wedge with a herb vinaigrette.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Guacamole, p. 95

Ingredients: avocados, onion, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, salt, pepper, lime juice, cilantro.

I first chopped the onions, garlic, and jalapenos a few hours before serving and put them in a baggy in the fridge. This made it easy when my guests arrived. All I had to do next was cut the avocados, and mix everything up.

Guacamole is a very easy dish to make from scratch. I won’t eat anything, but the fresh made stuff. Over the years I’ve developed my own recipe which is very similar to this one, just without the onion and garlic and jalapeños. (I don’t really like the flavor of jalapenos.) I add tons of cilantro and salt cover it with lime juice. Sometimes I throw in about a tablespoon or so of already made salsa and that seems to round of the flavors. But if you like onions, throw them in, they do add a nice crunch to the guacamole.

Fresh Tomato Salsa, p. 23

Ingredients: tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, lime, salt, pepper.

The recipe suggests to finely chop your onions and tomatoes, but I was feeling lazy after an early start to the day, so I just tossed everything in the food processor. It was a little bit of a finer texture, but I don’t mind that in a salsa.

So basically throw everything in the food processor and serve. I didn’t measure the quantity of jalapenos I put in, which is a bad idea since I don’t normally eat or cook with them. The salsa turned out a bit spicer than I normally like, but was delicious. I doubled the recipe and we still have some left over.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Green Bean Gratin p. 248-249

I always thought gratins were a way that potatoes were cooked. It wasn’t until I read through this cookbook that I realized you can make tons of veggies into a gratin. AND its easy! The chart on page 248 gives all kinds of variations with different veggies and what toppings and seasonings to use.

Ingredients: cooked green beans, cheese (I used swiss), fresh bread crumbs, olive oil, salt and pepper, paprika.

Start off by cooking your vegetable. I boiled mine, because its super easy and I have to look at recipes for the other methods of cooking. And it gave me time to prepare everything while they were cooking. After the green beans are cooked, drain, and put into a casserole dish or some kind of pan… a cookie sheet will even do. Then sprinkle with your cheese and bread crumbs, top with your seasoning. Broil til your cheese is bubbly and bread crumbs are toasty. Serve.

I have to say, this is way, way easier than any gratin I’ve ever done. This dish would be great if you are having company. You can even prepare everything ahead and when you are ready to serve, pop it under the broiler for a couple of minutes. No hassle, leaving you to visit with your guests and them to ooh and aah at the table.

Served with roasted tenderloin with bearnaise sauce and corn on the cob.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Roasted Tenderloin with Herbs p. 735-736

Tenderloins is my favorite meat of all time. As I explained in the Bearnaise Sauce post, it would be my last meal. I won’t get into it further, because I’m sure you’re bored with my love of tenderloin, just know that I worship at tenderloin’s feet. Not really, but close.

A couple of weeks ago we bought several pounds of tenderloin at the local farmers market from a local vender. We used half for the beef kebabs and put the other half in the freezer. Since it was a holiday weekend, I decided that maybe I would have the energy to put together a somewhat elaborate, more fancy-than-your-average meal. The tenderloin spent a day in the fridge thawing and then the afternoon of cooking, I threw the marinade ingredients in the bag: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. It marinated for a couple of hours.

When its time to cook, rub off the excess marinade and herbs, and roast for about 20 minutes until the meat is around 125 degrees if you want it medium rare, which I and Mark Bittman recommend.

Here is my tenderloin, post marinade, pre roasting.

Serve with some béarnaise and you’ve got yourself the best meal ever… or at least in my opinion.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bearnaise Sauce p. 58-59

Bearnaise. I love it. I realize that I say I love a lot of foods, and I do love a lot of foods. But Bearnaise on top of beef tenderloin is my ultimate favorite meal. Every Christmas my family has beef tenderloin with béarnaise, among other delicious foods, and it is my favorite meal of the whole year. If I had a last meal, it would entail tenderloin and béarnaise. That is how much I love it.

That being said, I was excited to try it homemade. I’ve had the packet and homemade before (I’ve never made it myself) and the packet is the preferred method in my family. But I was willing to give it a shot.

Ingredients: minced shallot, tarragon, salt and pepper, white wine vinegar, egg yolks, 1 stick of butter, and lemon juice.

First mince the shallot, this is my first experience with it first hand and I have to say, I’m now a fan. Mix it with the vinegar, tarragon, and salt and pepper and cook over the stove for a few minutes. Then beat the egg yolks, mix with the vinegar/shallot mixture and whisk for several minutes. Then you will gradually add in the butter.

It took about 15-20 minutes. And turned out delicious. After scooping out the pan for left overs, I licked the spoon. De-lic-ious. Sigh… only five more months til Christmas.

Served with roasted tenderloin, green bean gratin, and corn on the cob.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Everyday Scrambled Eggs p. 792

Scrambled eggs was the first thing I ever learned cook. Growing up, when my dad was out of town and my mom didn’t feel like making dinner, we would have breakfast for dinner, which always involved scrambled eggs. I’m not really a breakfast eater, but every once in a while I have a hankering for a real breakfast, and I always make scrambled eggs. The other morning was one of those mornings. Instead of just making them way I normally do, I decided to consult How to Cook Everything first.

Initially I didn’t think it was very different, only the addition of cream or milk and adding butter before adding the eggs. Mr. Bittman also suggested using a rubber spatula to scrape the sides where the egg seems to dry out. Normally I use a wooden spoon and the idea of using a rubber spatula was novel, yet made so much sense.

After making the eggs I was so angry. I thought I could cook scrambled eggs… but I was proven wrong. These eggs were lighter and creamer than before and the pan was so easy to clean. Next time I’m going to throw in some cheese with it, which I know will make them unbelievable.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette p. 189, with Mustard Vinaigrette p. 200 and Hard Boiled Eggs, p. 791

This is a doozy of a post, so brace yourselves. For the holiday weekend I planned for two big meals. I let Bryan choose what accompanied each meat based on what I’d already chosen. To go with the Grilled Boneless Chicken Bryan chose the potato salad. Potato Salad is a staple for any holiday gathering, in my opinion, yet I had never made it before.

First, peal or wash your potatoes, cut into small bites and cook til tender, but still a little bit firm. You don’t want mashed potatoes. Unless you do, but that’s not potato salad in my opinion.

While the potatoes were cooking I made the vinaigrette. Simply mix olive oil, white wine vinegar and a good mustard. One of the major benefits of How to Cook Everything is the detail that Mark Bittman goes into explaining the mechanics and deviations of vinaigrettes. Please read pages 198-202 if you have any questions, fears, or need new ideas regarding vinaigrettes. I highly recommend it. For the mustard vinaigrette, he suggests adding honey if you want, I happened to have a mustard with honey already in it, so I used that.

Also while the potatoes are cooking, I boiled my eggs. Potato salad is not potato salad without hard boiled eggs in my opinion. Refer to page 791 for your hard boiling needs. Its pretty easy. Add eggs and water to pot, boil. Turn off when it reaches a boil and cover. After about 9-10 minutes drain and run under cold water. Peel and chop.

The basic recipe for the Potato salad calls for your potatoes, vinaigrette, parsley, scallions, and salt and pepper. I skipped the scallions. Page 190 offers a list of some additions to add to your potato salad. I opted for the hard boiled eggs and come chopped sweet pickle (also known as relish). Mix it all up in a big bowl, and cool until ready to serve.

This is a very different type of potato salad than I’m used to and after a couple of bites I was complaining that it just wasn’t like my grandmother’s potato salad. But somehow, before I even realized it, it grew on me and then I had 3 servings. No, its not my grandmother’s, but it has its own charm and is delicious. I plan on making a BLT for lunch and it will be the perfect accompaniment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grilled Boneless Chicken p. 641

Grilled chicken is a staple in our house, especially during the summer. Last summer, the first summer of marriage and of my cooking, I discovered a recipe that changed my life. Chicken breasts + Italian dressing + several hours or overnight + grill = heaven.

Preparing for the holiday weekend menu, I naturally thought of the grilled chicken breasts, but decided to turn to How To Cook Everything first. Its pretty simple, rub some olive oil, salt, pepper, maybe some garlic and grill. Couldn’t be any easier. Garnish with some fresh lemon juice or wedge.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. But the chicken turned out more tender and juicy than the marinated chicken of last summer. Pages 642-643 given a detailed chart of 11 more different flavors to add to your grilled boneless chicken. We will be trying some more in the future. I guess How to Cook Everything’s Grilled Boneless Chicken will become the staple chicken recipe of Summer 2009.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fast Tomato Sauce, p. 502

I love this sauce. I can make it while I wait for the water to boil for the pasta. Never will I need to buy the canned or jarred stuff anymore. I’ve made this sauce a couple of times before, but recently made it on a weeknight after a stressful day.

Following this recipe, Mr. Bittman gives 20 easy ways to vary or spice up the sauce. For this time, I think I combined three of the twenty.

2. Garlicy Tomato Sauce says to add 2-10 cloves of chopped garlic to the sauce. I added 4-5.

4. Tomato Suace with Aromatic Vegetables suggests to add 1/3 cup of carrot and celery when you add the onion. Since Bryan doesn’t like onion, and we had the other two on hand, I added those. I didn’t measure the quantities, I just did one carrot and one celery stalk.

Veggies and Garlic ready to go

5. Tomato Sauce with Wine says to add ¼ cup of white wine to the sauce before adding the tomatoes. I had probably ½ a cup or maybe a little more left over and since it was a stressful afternoon, I felt like a little booze might helps things. It always does.

Basically this is how I pulled this sauce together: melt some butter, add the garlic, celery, and carrots (you would add onions here if you are onion tolerant). Simmer for a little while. Add wine if you are and let it bubble for a few minutes.

Then add 1 lb of tomatoes. I had two diced tomato cans on hand, so that’s what I use. I don’t know what the pound-age was. Let it cook for 10-15 minutes while you get your pasta to cook. Viola! Homemade pasta sauce!

One of the variations suggested pureeing the sauce. I think that’s a great idea when you’ve got the chopped veggies in there. But I was lazy and didn’t feel like cleaning the food processor or adding another step. For pasta I cooked some frozen cheese ravioli I got at Sam’s and had on hand. I felt like the sauce was very fresh and not too heavy for a hot summer’s evening.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fried Eggs, p.791

I was feeling a bit hungry the other morning and instead of our standard toast or scrambled eggs, I decided it was time to turn to How to Cook Everything to try my first recipe from the Eggs, Breakfast, Diary chapter.

We happen to have a bunch of eggs on hand, so I turned to the fried egg recipe. Its easy and great for those people who don't fully function til after they've consumed a full cup or two of coffee, like me.

First, heat your skillet, spread a little butter or oil on the skillet. Crack eggs in pan.

Turn down heat to low and cook til done.

The recipe says they are done when you poke it close to the yolk and it stays firm. However, one egg fell apart due to my poor spatula skills.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rice Pilaf, Mexican Rice with Vegetables p. 460-161

Brief description: Rice cooked with carrots, celery, and other miscellaneous vegetables you feel like adding or have on hand. Garnished with cilantro.

Bryan loves rice. I’ve said that before. I just can’t reiterate how much he likes rice, okay? To go with our tamales, we had rice. Mexican rice. The original rice pilaf recipe has Seven Ways as part of the title. But naturally with tamales we’d opt for the Mexican version.

The Mexican version calls for 1/3 cup of carrots, celery, bell pepper, green beans, or peas. I interpret that to be whatever you like and have on hand. I left out onions, but added carrots, celery, and frozen English peas. And I didn’t measure. I did one onion, one celery stock, and the little amount of peas we had left.

I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t more extensive seasonings other than salt and pepper. Hmm… maybe our “Mexican” we have in Memphis isn’t very authentic. But overall it was a nice rice dish without too much work. Just make sure that you remember to set your timer or watch the clock. In my exhaustion post-tamale making I forgot to set a timer, leaving a few pieces slightly burned. But it didn’t totally ruin the dish.

Mexican rice served with Tamales