Thursday, May 14, 2009

Leftover Lunch

I marinated some chicken breasts in a cilantro-based chimichurri (Pa is from Argentina, been eating that since I was two as well), the BBQ'd it 3 days ago for dinner.  If you want the chimichurri recipe, just ask. 

The chicken was lovely... and so was the cilantro rice I made with it.   I had an extra breast (I could use a coupla those in real life, actually), so I made a yummy sandwich for lunch with it.

BBQ Chicken Breast Sandwich with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes
-1 breast, shredded (will make 2 sandwiches, so use half if you are one person eating!)
-2 slices of french bread, toasted
-aioli for 1 (Tablespoon mayo, squirt lemon juice, 1 small minced garlic clove)
-dijon mustard
-Rogue Creamery Bleu, crumbled or any Brie, small squares
-10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
-Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
-1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
- salt & peppah!

The Roasting:  Tomatoes
You can roast the tomatoes in a skillet on the stove if you are in a hurry... but the oven at 400 degrees is tastier.

-put tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a small oven-safe skillet
-saute to mix well for 2 minutes (about 5 to 8 minutes if you aren't using oven for roasting)
-place in 400 degree oven for 8 minutes
-take out, put cheese in skillet with tomatoes, mix up until melted

Voila!  Now, make your sandwich.

-Spread aioli on one toasted slice, dijon on the other
-place shredded chicken on top of one side
-pour tomatoes on top of chicken
-close up with other slice
-get a book, a napkin (it's a messy sandwich!), go out on your deck and enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Rogue's Salad

My Pa (the first cook in my life, the one who fed me martini's and Ridge wine when I was two), introduced me to the Rogue River Creamery a few years ago...  they make cheese, in Oregon.

Gorgeous, delicious cheese.  This recipe showcases their Bleu, a gorgonzola dolce-esq bleu that is very creamy, and not at all on the stinky side.  I always called blue cheese "stinky cheese" - my Pa ate a lot of it, and he was stinky!

It takes about 2 minutes to make this, so you can whip it up anytime, this is for 4.  It is a rare day when I use a pre-made salad dressing, so this one is all my own, not derived from anywhere.

The Dressing

In a small bowl, put 
-2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 teaspoons honey
-salt & pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing together and toss with:

- 4 handfulls of fresh baby spinach leaves

Arrange 1 Bosc pear, sliced lengthwise, thinly on 
top of lightly dressed spinach.

Crumble Rogue River Bleu on top.

Drizzle remainder of dressing over the pear.  


Not Your Mother's Meatloaf...

As with every dinner I make, the first ingredient is always wine.   Whether it's in your glass... or on the stove.  For this particular night, a cabernet glaze was going on the meatloaf... and a pre-dinner Riesling was in my glass.  Two-fer is always better than one!

Since the theme for the weekend was rain... I decided that comfort food was on the menu Friday night.  

This meatloaf is not your '50s style loaf.  It is also not from Alice's Brady Bunch kitchen.  It is, in a word, fantabulous.

This is also something that the kids love.  With cheeks full, my eldest mumbled, nodded his head vigorously and stabbed the loaf on his plate as if he were afraid it might run off,  "MMMmmmmm MOM!"                                                                   

Meatloaf with Cabernet Glaze

I got this recipe from my current recipe bible, Food & Wine Cookbook 2009, and because I'm ornery, changed it.  Only slightly, and only to please my husband, who wanted a "real meat", not "baby meat" meatloaf.

The recipe called for ground veal, lamb and pork.  Two "baby meats" and one sort-of-not-so-manly-meat.  So, I replaced the lamb (sorry, Gary) with ground beef.  I have made a similar recipe with the lamb, and it was divine.  So you make your own choice here.  Lamb is incredibly rich and heady, so if you want a fancy, even more fantastic meatloaf, that is the meat to use.

What You'll Need for a Night of Comfort:

3/4 lb ground beef (or lamb if you are dressing to impress)
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
-1 whole onion, diced
-4 minced garlic cloves
-olive oil (recipe called for sauteing onion in butter, but I prefer olive oil)
-1/2 cup milk
-1 cup breadcrumbs
-2 eggs (recipe called for one), whisked together in a small bowl.
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
-pinch of cayenne pepper
-pinch of nutmeg
-2 teaspoons salt
-3 teaspoons pepper 
-3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Saute the onion and garlic until transparent, put in a large mixing bowl.  Add all of the above ingredients, and get your fingers dirty (my daughter loves "mushing the meaties") mixing it all together with the ground meat.

Mound into a roasting pan (9 x 9 or so) and put into a 350 degree oven.  Set timer for 30 minutes, then baste top with the Cab Glaze (ingredients below)  Bake until internal temp reaches 150.

Cabernet Glaze
If you like a nice saucy meatloaf, make twice 
as much, and you'll have enough for sauce
-1 1/4 cups red wine (I used Cab)
-1/4 ketchup (called for sugar, but with the molasses it is too sweet)
-1 tomato, finely chopped (I used diced tomatoes from a Trader Joe's can)
-1 teaspoon unsulfured molasses
-pinch of allspice

In a saucepan, put all of the ingredients, and bring to a slow boil while meatloaf is cooking for reduction and thickening.  When sauce starts to thicken, put it on a small burner and simmer on low.

When your 30 minute timer goes off, baste the top of the meatloaf with some of the glaze

Continue cooking until temp is 150.

Serve with:

Asparagus Risotto 
(Trader Joe's frozen section)
Busy Moms don't have time for scratch 
Risotto on a week night, for cryin' out loud!

Spinach, Pear & Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese Salad (Next Post!)


Rainy Saturday Morning Breakfast

Saturday morning this weekend I woke up to the the sound of pouring rain.  In the Sierra Nevada, rain comes as quickly as it goes... but this storm had started Thursday night and had not let up.  In fact, as I write this on Sunday, it is still raining.

I felt like filling up with something hot and delicious that morning... and my kids were yelling "HUNGER" at the top of their lungs... so it needed to be something that didn't take long to make.

French Toast with Strawberry Compote Syrup
This recipe serves 4.  The most time is taken cooking the dipped bread slices one by one in a skillet...  if you have a griddle, you can do more slices at one time.

From the cupboard:
-8 piece
s of bread (preferably Brioche, or that King's Hawaiian, sliced)
-cinnamon (2 teaspoons)
-nutmeg (2 teaspoons)
-ginger (2 teaspoons)
-sugar (3 tablespoons)
-real maple syrup - not that fake stuff

From the 'Fridge:
-6 eggs
-about 10 strawberries, diced into small pieces
-Strawberry jam
-butter (for browning in pan)
-heavy cream (1/4 cup)
-creme fraiche (spoon full on top of each serving after cooked)
-fresh orange juice & champagne...  mimosas!

Preheat oven to 150, to keep french toast & syrup warm while you make more slices.

Mix eggs, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl.  When well mixed, pour into a 9x9 pan for dipping the bread slices into.

Meanwhile, pour about 1 cup of syrup in a small stainless sauce pan, add the diced strawberries and 1 large spoonful of strawberry jam.  Stir over low heat until jam is melted, heat thoroughly.  Put saucepan with syrup mixture in a 150 degree warming oven

Warm a skillet on the stove, medium flame.  Dip each slice of bread to lightly cover with egg/cinnamon mixture.  Lightly brown on each side, add to plate in warming oven until ready to serve.  For a tastier finish, take a stick of butter, rub it on the hot skillet before browning the bread on each side.

Serve a couple of slices of french toast on each plate, with a dollop of creme fraiche, and the strawberry compote syrup poured lightly over the bread.

You most likely will not need lunch after this richly textured breakfast...  so eat up!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"I Can't Believe My Kids Are Eating This!"

Weekends in at the Log Cabin are usually packed with kids and parents visiting.   We live close to 4 ski resorts in Tahoe, and have a gigantic sled hill in the back yard... it's a draw.

One weekend, we had 6 adults and 8 kids (outnumbered, as usual).  Saturday night is my big cooking night.  I have guests bring breakfast, and appetizers, but I like to cook the main meal. Unless a real chef visits - and then I let them do the cooking!

Catherine's Carbonara:  

I had just been to visit my darling friend Catherine the weekend before (she's an Aussie jewelry designer who cooks up a storm!) - and she made this amazingly light and delicious Carbonara.  Now, if you know anything about Carbonara, you know that "light" and "Carbonara" don't usually belong in the same sentence.  

Our guests actually cringed when they heard me tell them what I was making.   Served in your average Italian restaurant with the checked cloths and a glass of Chianti, it is akin to eating an entire mounded dinner plate of ice cream - at least that's how it will show up on your hips.

Prepare yourself - it's delicious, light, healthy AND the kids asked not only for 2nds, but 3rds!

Shopping List to Serve 4

-chopped pancetta (recommend getting it in the pre-chopped box at Trader Joe's)
-chopped fresh thyme (I use about half a bunch from the produce section)
-paprika (I used smoked), a couple of pinches
-Creme Fraiche, or Crema Mexicana (about 3 large spoonfulls)
-a few tablespoons white wine (sorry Catherine, can't resist adding WINE!)
-broccoli trees (2 or 3 cups)
-Penne pasta
-2 large eggs, whisked together

Mix it Up!

-Start the pasta water to boil, put noodles in when boiling
-Steam the broccoli tree heads, when they are done, drain them and keep them warm in a 150 degree oven.
-While pasta and broccoli trees cook, use a large skillet or pot to fry the pancetta with the chopped thyme and paprika, until slightly browned
-Add a few tablespoons of the Creme Fraiche
-Add the wine and turn the burner down to low/simmer just to keep the sauce warm.
-When pasta is done cooking, drain and immediately add it to the skillet with the sauce in it.
-Turn the burner to medium, add the whisked eggs to the hot pot, and stir while heating.
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Mix in the broccoli trees and Mangia!

Monday, April 27, 2009

'Fridge Trash - the Aftermath of Rotisserie Giant Pork Loin

A week ago, I bought a 10 pound pork loin.  It was on sale for $1.99 a pound.  

The thing was huge. I'd been wanting to rotisserie something I never had before on the BBQ, because the snow had melted off and I could actually get to the grill...  and it was warm outside.  Well, warm is relative, but when you've been hibernating near a ski resort all winter, 60 is virtually tropical.

I called the neighbors, and invited them to dinner at 5:30.  Then, I went out to check the grill at around 11am.  

Holy Cow!  It was filthy. A winter of sending my husband out in the snow drifts to grill ribs and tri-tip...  and never scrubbed the entire time!  UGH!  I hate dirty grills.  I took the thing apart, scrubbed it down inside and out, and 2 hours later, it looked pretty new inside... and ready for the loin!!!

The loin  was more than 2 feet long.  I chopped it in half, and put one half in the freezer.  I put the other half in a roasting pan.

Shredded Pork Sliders:  Derived from Cooking Light Magazine, Summer 2008

Rubbin' The Loin:  Smoked Paprika
I made a smoked paprika rub for the loin.   You can use a regular little loin from your meat dept, 1 or 2 lbs, doesn't have to be huge!   Since this is my first post, I will need to let you know that I don't measure anything...  and I NEVER follow the original recipes.   If you have questions, don't hesitate to post 'em!!

Here's what you'll need if you want to do this ():

-powdered smoked paprika
-cayenne pepper
-sea salt (large grain), preferably smoked
-fresh ground pepper
-fresh minced garlic
-olive oil
-cider vinegar

Put the smoked paprika (very important that it is smoked - has a marvelous aroma and flavor) into the palm of your hand, filling it up, pour it in bowl.  If you are using a smaller loin, then a few tablespoons should do it.

For the huge loin, put about 4 teaspoons of cumin in the bowl.  You might want to use just 1 if you have a small loin.  I used both whole and powdered cumin.

Shake a bunch of cayenne pepper into the bowl (for big loin, 6 shakes, 1 or 2 for small loin)

Garlic:  the key to everything delicious, for a large loin mince 10 to 12 cloves, for a small, 3 should do it.  This ingredient was not in the original recipe.  I'm Italian...  and it goes in everything I cook.  I don't bake, so you are safe there.

Add in the garlic, then add olive oil slowly.  You won't need very much, just enough to make a paste.  Dash a bit of the cider vinegar in for tang, and whisk to thicken.  Neither the olive oil nor the cider vinegar were in the original rub recipe.    Use just enough to make it pasty and easy to adhere to the loin.

Stick your hand in, and rub it generously all over the loin until none of the rub is left in the bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until ready to rotisserie (or roast in the oven).

Roast or Rotisserie the Pork

To slow-roast in the oven:  
-preheat oven to convection roast, 300 degrees  
-always cook meats like this to temperature, not by time.  You will be rewarded with a juicy, delicious meal.  Pork cooks to 150-155 degrees.     If your oven sports a temp probe, set the temp to 150 or 155.  The oven will auto-shut off when that temp is reached.  If you don't have a probe, get an internal meat thermometer and check the temp every 30 minutes.

To rotisserie on the BBQ:
-if your BBQ is not gas, or does not have a rotisserie, roast this in the oven.  If you have a 1 or 2 lb loin, you can BBQ it on the grates, but it is very difficult to slow-roast something on the BBQ, and easy to overdo.
-if you have a rotisserie, stick the tine through the pork middle.  Attach the tongs and tighten well.
-preheat the grill to 300-400 degrees.  turn off the lower burners and ignite the rotisserie burner.
-put the rotisserie setting on slow-turn.  Check the meat temp every 30 minutes.

When the pork is done, allow to cool for about 15 minutes, the slice up into chops.  Put 2 to 3 chops in a food processor and shred.

Saucy:  Mustard BBQ Slider Sauce
You can make this ahead of time, or while the pork is cooking.   This sauce is a tangy version of regular old BBQ sauce, and has a lovely amber color when finished, thanks to the mustard.

The following is your shopping list...  most of which you may already have in your cupboard.  I have included descriptions for enough sauce for a 2 pound loin.   You can double or triple the recipe if you go out and get a Giant Loin!!!   Here's what you'll need (this is also derived from the Food & Wine Cookbook 2009):

-one whole onion, diced
-olive oil
-chopped sage (fresh), use one whole bunch
-yellow mustard, about 3/4 cup
-ketchup, 1/2 cup
-1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes, use liquid
-1/2 cup of cider vinegar
-molasses (1 tblspns)
-Honey (about 6 tblspns)
-smoked paprika (twice as much as the rest of the spice ingredients)
-cayenne pepper
-sea salt
-fresh ground pepper
Use a large saute pan, because all of the above ingredients will end up in there.

Saute the chopped onion with olive oil until it is translucent.  add in the chopped sage.  add in the next 4 ingredients.  Simmer until liquid is reduce slightly.  Add in the next ingredients, bring to a boil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  When sauce has thickened, set aside to cool.  Store in the 'fridge until ready to serve after it is cooled.

Serve shredded pork and sauce on sliced, toasted dinner rolls, 2 to 3 a person.  I served the pork with rice and green beans with a french vinaigrette.

Napa Valley Inspired Luncheon for One (or more, if you multiply)
Here's what you'll need:

-2 slices of toasted french bread
-shredded pork
-goat cheese
-aioli (2 tblspons mayo, squirt of lemon juice, one minced garlic glove, mixed)

Toast the bread, put pork, spinach and goat cheese on one bread slice, microwave until cheese is melty.  Spread ailoi on other slice, add tomatoes and MUNCH!

If you are really feeling decadent, have a glass of Rose with it.  ;-D

Here's what you'll need:

-shredded left-over pork
-large tortillas
-salsa (garlic Killer Salsa is excellent, even if it does smell like Kim Chee)
-avocado, chopped
-red onion
-jalapeno peppers (either in jar or fresh - don't rub your eyes or nose after chopping!  Burns!)
-shredded cheese
-rice if you want

Put a tortilla on a plate.  Put a couple spoonfulls of pork, a spoonfull of salsa, sprinkle on the next ingredients, wrap up, microwave and EAT!  Repeat for as many as you need to make.

Sam I AM:  Green Eggs & Ham
Easy breakfast:

-2 eggs per person, fried
-shredded pork
-1/2 tablespoon cilantro per serving
-green salsa

Place shredded pork on a plate and sprinkle on chopped cilantro.  Microwave until warm.  Separate out on however many plates you need to serve your guests (or just yourself!), plop the fried eggs on top, smother with green salsa and mow down!

Goes really well with a bloody mary.