Thursday, December 31, 2009

Shrimp Scampi

Butter... Paula Dean's favorite dessert. It's good in most things and shrimp scampi is no exception. I love this dish because it's amazingly simple and incredibly versatile. Can be served with pasta and/or crisp bread. I chose to do both because we ended up with unexpected visitors the night we served this and wanted a more filling plate.

Adapted from Food & Wine's November Issue - "Sizzling Shrimp Scampi"

1 stick of unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Fresh Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a medium bowl, mix butter, garlic, 1/2 tablespoon parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and thyme. Season with pepper and salt.

In a large baking dish, arrange the shrimp around the dish, tails up. It's best if you use a circular dish for this. Spread the butter mixture on top of the shrimp and roast in oven for about 10 minutes. The shrimp should be nice a pink and the butter should be bubbling.

Sprinkle shrimp with remaining parsley and basil leaves. Grate some Gruyere cheese on top and serve hot on top of linguine or crostini bread.

This was absolutely delicious. The shrimp was succulent and the buttery flavor was just amazing. I recommend this for anyone looking for a quick fix on a weeknight or when in a pinch! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prime Rib

Prime Rib seems to be the thing to eat on Christmas Eve, so I figured I'd give it a go. Every time I think of prime rib, I think of mocha, our first dog. We were really determined not to feed her people food, ever. Well... that didn't last long. It was maybe a couple months after we got her, we spent a long night out at dinner to Varanese (yes, we go there a lot). We felt bad about leaving her in her cage for so long, so I decided to cut up some of my prime rib that I had leftovers from. The minute the meat touched her mouth, she didn't even chew. She straight swallowed it! And kept begging for more ever since. I can't blame her, it was pretty good, and you really should never turn down great food, whether human or dog!


2 & 1/2 lb. rib roast
6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
salt and pepper
2 & 1/2 cups red wine (I used a pinot noir)

A good roast is so simple in ingredients, but if you don't watch it closely, it can really turn a great dish into a mediocre or even bad dish.

Make sure you meat is at room temperature before you do any cooking.

Place the garlic slices underneath pockets of fat. You can also slice small cracks in the meat to stuff it in, but my piece of roast had enough marbling throughout that I didn't have to do too much of that.

Rub both sides of roast in enough salt and pepper to your liking.

Preheat oven to 500 F. Yeah, this is going to be a high heat roasting method.

Place meat in a roasting dish and bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Turn heat down to 325 F and roast for another 5-8 minutes.

Then increase heat to 425 F and cook for about 15 minutes longer.

Let rest of cutting board for 10 minutes. While you're waiting, you can make a quick jus.

Place the roasting pan on the stove and heat under high heat. Deglaze the pan with about 2 cups or more of red wine and make sure you lift up the brown bits, or sucs. Add salt and pepper to taste and reduce sauce by about 1/2.

Cut the roast, it should be a nice medium rare, and serve with mashed potatoes topped with the jus.

I originally cooked my prime rib for about 40 minutes, and I duly regretted it. Andy said it tasted fine, but I knew I overcooked the meat... at least for my liking. It was nice well done I think, but I would have liked to have seen more pink in there. So I adjusted the directions above for what I think would be a great medium rare. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Manicotti a la Crepes

Last March, I took my little sister and her boyfriend out to our favorite restaurant, Varanese, for her birthday. We had an amazing dinner and when it was time for dessert, the two of them ordered crepes. Being the immature boyfriend that Andy is, he kept making jokes about crepes in relation to a certain bodily function we all have. Yes, it was 30 minutes of crepe jokes. And so every now and then when I see my sister and her boyfriend, someone will bring up one of the crepe jokes and it seems like it will be an ongoing thing. Well... now that I've made these manicotti out of crepes, I'm sure the jokes will roll again, but hey... it was delicious. So laugh all you want, but as long as it's good going down, bring it on.

Adapted from My Gourmet Connection's recipe

4 eggs, lightly beaten and divided
1 cup flour
1 & 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
handful of mixed greens
12 ounce package of ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup half & half
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup parlsey, chopped
about 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

In a medium bowl, mix together 3 eggs, flour, milk, butter, and salt. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for about an hour so it can thicken.

While you're waiting for the batter, you can start on the sauce and the filling. Heat the oil in a large skillet under medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, just a couple of minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, and red pepper. Salt and pepper to taste and simmer until sauce slightly thickens. about 10 minutes. Then add half & half and wine. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and basil. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine the mixed greens, ricotta, remaining egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella and all of parmesan cheese. Set aside until you finish making the crepes.

To make the crepes, spread 1 tablespoon of oil on an 8 inch round skillet and rub all over the sides and flat of pan. Heat the pan under high heat and add 3 tablespoons of batter. Remove from heat and rotate pan so batter can spread out. When crepe has "set" (about 30 seconds), flip over and return to heat for another 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining batter and make sure to separate crepes with wax paper to avoid them sticking together.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Line a large rectangular roasting pan with nonstick spray. Spoon a small amount of marinara on the bottom of pan so crepes do not stick to pan. Place the crepes on a flat surface, spoon a nice helping of the filling onto each crepe, and roll up. One by one, place each crepe into the pan. I had about 10 good sized crepes fit into my pan. Then top the manicotti with the remaining sauce and top with desired amount of mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.

Uncover foil and bake for another 7-10 minutes, when cheese is slightly browned. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

This was a pretty good dish, not to mention VERY filling. We had plenty of leftovers and it tasted pretty good. The original dish called for frozen spinach, but I had mixed greens on hand, and they still tasted pretty good, but I'm sure spinach would have been great also. The marinara originally didn't have the cream or the wine, but I added them to add more depth of flavor and it sure did. Every bite was tasty and I highly recommend this dish! Enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Seafood Sandwich

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone had a great holiday with whatever holiday you are celebrating this season! I know it was a great time for me. Everything I got this year is something I've wanted and will use. Even my parents got me things that I actually liked this year! You'll notice a lot more color and flare with the food pictures to come also! Thanks to Andy, I got many new fabrics and dishes to accentuate my food! Hopefully it'll make it all more appealing! Cheers!

Adapted from Stellar Recipes' blog

5-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Small handful of parsley leaves, chopped
Juice from 1 lime
3/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 flounder fillets
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 slices rustic italian bread
mixed greens
1/2 lb. frozen cooked shrimp

In a small bowl, combine the basil, parsley, lime juice, and sour cream. Mix everything together well and salt and pepper to taste. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Combine the flour with some salt and pepper and dredge each flounder fillet with flour.

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat and melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Place flounder in skillet and cook both fillets until browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.

In another skillet, melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and add shrimp. Cook until shrimp is heated through and nice and juicy.

Assemble sandwiches by placing handful of mixed greens on slice of italian bread. Then place flounder fillet on top of greens. Then top flounder with a few pieces of shrimp (I did 6 per sandwich). Then on top slice of bread, spread some of the basil/sour cream mixture on top and cover sandwich with bread.

This is not your normal, everyday fish sandwich. This is something special. Definitely is well deserving of a "seafood sandwich" title. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chicken Nuggets

Now, I don't have children... unless you count Andy and my dogs. Then I would have 3 children. But no actual little beings reside in my household. But if I did have kids, I would make my own chicken nuggets for them. They're a breeze to make, they're probably healthier for you since you actually know where they're coming from, and they obviously taste better. So why not save on the Happy Meal and make a happy meal at home?


Vegetable oil for frying
3 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips or "nuggets"
2 eggs, beaten
2-3 cups of panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

Spread out your panko and your flour on two separate plates. Set the eggs aside in a small bowl. This is going to work like a conveyor belt and you're just gonna go from one station to the next.

Dredge your chicken pieces in flour, dip in the egg mixture, then coat with the panko. Easy as 1, 2, 3. Right? Right.

Heat up your oil in a large saute pan. You want maybe about 1/2 inch of oil in the pan, enough to cover about half of the nugget. Depending on the size of your pieces, you may want to cook a little bit more or longer, but place about 10 nuggets in the pan at a time and mine were perfect with 3 minutes per side.

Can keep warm in the oven at 200F or can serve right away. I served mine on a platter while we watched the football game and had 4 different dipping sauces on the plate: barbecue sauce, ketchup, Frank's hot sauce, and some sweet chili sauce. Andy said if you dipped the nugget in the hot sauce, then the sweet chili sauce, it made for an awesome combination.

I love this recipe because it's EASY. Couldn't be any easier if you ask me. Quick finger food is always a plus. And the recipe makes tons of chicken. We probably only ate about half, so I have plenty for lunch today!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chili Shrimp

Last weekend was pretty eventful. It was also pretty tiring. We went out with a bunch of work folk to some bars to celebrate one of my co-worker's birthday. It was a blast, but I also had to work at 8am the next day, and that was NOT a blast. Also, our work Christmas party was the following night as well. I was supposed to make this Chili Shrimp dish for the party, but was too tired to even want to pick up a pan, let alone go to the grocery for supplies. So instead, I brought Puppy Chow and Oreo Ball Truffles, which were a hit, so I didn't feel so bad. So I knew I had to eventually make this dish, and I made it for dinner last night, and it was awesome. Too good to share, almost... but I'll share it with you all of course!

Adapted from Food & Wine's November 2009 Article "Chili Shrimp"

1 lb. shrimp, peeled, cooked, & deveined
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 dried lemongrass stick, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro, chopped

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, sherry, chili sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix well and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet under medium high heat. Add shrimp and saute for about 2 minutes, turning once.

Add remaining oil and mix in jalapenos, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. Cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.

Stir in scallions and add sweet chili mixture and simmer for about 1 minute.

Stir in cilantro and serve over jasmine rice.

Andy definitely fell in love with the sauce for this dish. I couldn't agree more either. It was a perfect mix of the sweet and the heat. I thought maybe the jalapenos would overpower the dish and make it too hot, but it definitely felt only like a back burner. Andy also pointed out that every bite was a different flavor experience. This is definitely a dish I recommend anyday! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pulled Pork Tacos

It's been a rough two days. It definitely seems like one of those "when it rains, it pours" couple of days. My car has been acting stupid. I had to replace the battery the other day, and it still is kind of shaky, so I'm fearing it's on it's last leg. And to top it off I woke up this morning to Andy telling me I had a flat tire. Bah Humbug! I don't have time for this stuff. I've got cooking, baking, shopping, and plenty of other things to do. Ugh... anyway, now that I'm done venting... here's this delicious recipe for pulled pork tacos, adapted from Life's Ambrosia's blog


2.5 lb pork shoulder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup beef stock
2 small avocados, pitted
1/4 cup sour cream
1 lime, cut in half
1 tablespoon cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1 jalapeno, sliced and seeded
soft tortillas
mexican cheese blend
shredded lettuce
1 tomato, diced

Place first 7 ingredients in crock pot (yep, CROCKPOT!) and heat on low for 7-8 hours. Pork should be falling apart as you touch it, so shredding should be a breeze. Salt and pepper to taste and let simmer on warm while you prep the toppings.

Everything else requires pretty much no actual "cooking", but is crucial to the flavors of the taco.

The avocado cream is just heavenly, and so simple! In a food processor, combine the avocados, sour cream, juice from 1/2 of the lime (I used the other half of the lime juice to add a little zing to the pork, but that's optional), and cilantro. Process on low for about 30 seconds and voila... avocado cream.

All of the other toppings should be self explanatory and you could even improvise and put whatever you'd like on there!

This was great. The pork was amazing and the avocado cream added another dimension of flavor along with the fresh vegetables. This was just delicious and pretty much maintenance free. Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Simple Alfredo w/ Cheesy Garlic Bread

Sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the best. Take for instance, if one is having a truly bad day and just one, just one person takes notice or even smiles in my direction... a part of my mood is instantly lifted. Simple gesture, big results? Right? That's what I think of alfredo. It's basically a simple sauce of cream and cheese, and it's one of my favorite pasta dishes to whip up!


1 package fettuccine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 & 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
2 teaspoons oregano (optional)

Start a pot of water to boil. When at a steady boil, add some salt and then add in fettuccine. I found some great noodles at a local place here in Louisville, Lotsa Pasta. They have a great variety of gourmet products, specializing in cheeses and pastas, and lots of stuff they make from scratch. Definitely a great place to get relatively inexpensive spices also! Cook noodles according to package directions for al dente, mine were in there for about 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can start your sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add in 2/3 of the minced garlic. Saute for about 1 minute. Then add in cream, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of cheese. Make sure your heat is low enough that the cream does not bubble or boil. If it does this, your sauce is "breaking"... and you don't want that. It's a slow and nurturing process, but just keep constantly stirring until sauce thickens a bit and cheese is melted throughout.

If you've got a helper, the cheesebread is a great job for them. Just slice a fresh italian loaf in half (I used a pretty small one since there's only the two of us) and top the slices with the remaining minced garlic. Coat each half with a light layer of butter/margarine and top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Can also opt to add some oregano for a finishing touch. Bake in oven at 400 F for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your bread. I found that 5-6 minutes gave it a nice crusty exterior and still a soft interior.

When noodles are done, drain and add into sauce mixture. Coat noodles with sauce and serve hot.

This was delicious and definitely one of those meals that's so filling it puts you to bed soon afterwards. But I think all pasta dishes do that to me, so I don't know. Give it a go! What simple things make your life better?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lazy (Wo)Man's Ribs

You know the keyword is "lazy" here. Lazy doesn't imply sloppy or not good either. Lazy just means that this is little to no effort... and what kitchen gadget provides that little or no effort appeal? You guessed it... THE CROCKPOT! I don't think these recipes are going to stop either, so you better get used to bringing out that thing and enjoying the food that comes out of it! These ribs are truly so easy you won't even believe how great they turn out.


About 8 or more Pork Short Ribs
1 Cup Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Turn your crockpot on to the high setting.

Stack the short ribs in first. Then, one by one, just "dump" each of the above ingredients (and feel free to improvise, because that's exactly what I did here!) on top of the short ribs.

Once all the ingredients are in there, you can either use your hands and be primal with it, or take a spoon or tongs and just move the ribs around so that they're evenly coated with all the ingredients.

Then cover the crockpot and cook on the high setting for about 1 hour. Then switch to low and cook for about 8 hours, or at least 5.

Yeah... it was THAT easy. This was probably the best ribs I've made so far. The meat was tender and falling off the bone. There was a sweetness from the brown sugar and a savoriness from the rest of the spices. It was great and I hope you try this! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Red Beans & Rice

This past year was the first year, in 3 years, that my friends and I did not make the road trip down to New Orleans for their annual Jazzfest. If you haven't been to Jazzfest, or New Orleans, in general, I think you should plan a visit, like NOW. Jazzfest, in my opinion, wraps up the best that New Orleans has to offer in a 3 day weekend. The ecclectic mixes of music (I've seen anybody from Dave Matthews Band, to Bob Dylan, to even Ludacris!). And the food. Let me tell you. Every 5 steps, there's a new food booth with something different to offer than the last booth. Po' Boys, Crawfish Monica, big piles of Crawfish, Oysters, Pies of all sorts, anything your culinary mind can think of and relate to New Orleans... there's a booth for it. Music and food... my two favorite things, and the exact reason why I recommend New Orleans to anyone. Now to a humble Cajun classic... Red Beans & Rice.


1 cup jasmine rice
1 cup chicken stock
2 large smoked sausages, cut into slices
1 onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cans of chili beans, with chili sauce, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
Cajun Seasoning, depending on how Cajun you like it (I used a little over a tablespoon)

Everything goes pretty fast in this, so you can definitely get your grub on real quick for this.

Start with your rice. Add rice and chicken stock to medium pot and cook under medium heat, or according to package directions.

In a large skillet under medium high heat, add sausage, onion, and celery. Cook until sausage starts to brown and onion and celery soften, about 5 minutes. These three ingredients I think really bring a whole lot of flavor to the dish and I wouldn't recommend substituting them or leaving them out.

Stir in both cans of beans and tomatoes. Then add enough Cajun seasoning to your liking. Lower the heat a tad, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

By then, your rice is probably done or close to it, so uncover bean mixture and stir in rice. Heat entire mixture until hot all the way through. Serve hot on a plate and dig in!

This probably took no more than 20 minutes total. The flavors reminded me so much of New Orleans that I'm seriously going to have to bring back the Jazzfest roadtrips this year. I need to. I really feel like New Orleans is a part of me (even though no part of my family is from there and I've never lived there), but I've had some of the best times of my life with some of my greatest friends there, and that's not just something you quit. What types of foods bring back memories for you? What types of road trips are unforgettable?

And just as an added bonus, this was for dessert. After all, it's National Brownie Day today, so get you one!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Shredded Chicken Gorditas

Louisville is definitely not known for it's streetfood like other cities. We're still experimenting with that area of food. I mean, I've seen various hot dog vendors on street corners downtown, and there's the Nathan's Hot Dog stand on Bardstown Rd. next to the bars. But if you go to Fern Creek, there's this hidden gem of a street food stand, that we like to call "The Taco Truck." I'm sure it has a real name, but there is no sign, there is no advertising. There's just a blue tent in front of a trailer pulled by a big F-150 Ford truck. And it sit in front of a Mexican grocery, so it must be authentic, right? The quesadillas were phenomenal, especially for about $2 a pop. A steal, right? One thing Andy did get, that he didn't like was their gorditas. Stuffed beef pockets that he said "tasted like a boot." I said that was a little harsh, and when I took a bite... he was right. So maybe Taco Bell has something on a good ol' fashioned Mexican gordita eh? I'd hope not. That is not even close. Actually, a gordita can be stuffed or topped. A common misconception among us Americanized Taco Bell loving beings. So when I saw this recipe for homemade gorditas in November's Food & Wine I knew I had to do the Taco Truck justice.

From Nov. 2009 Food & Wine - "Gorditas"

2 cups masa harina
1 & 1/4 cups water (or a little more if your mixture is too dry)
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
shredded chicken (recipe follows)
sour cream
cheese blend

Ingredients for shredded chicken:
(I sort of just winged this one and put it whatever I thought would taste good)

4-5 chicken breasts
1/4 cup tequila
3 tablespoons honey
1 jalapeno, chopped (leave as many seeds as you see fit in there, if you don't like it spicy, either leave out or deseed)
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken broth

You definitely need to start the chicken first. I put all the ingredients in my slow cooker (love that thing!) and let sit on the high setting for a few hours. As the chicken cooks, start to shred it and let it simmer in the juices. WARNING: it's going to make your house smell AWESOME!

Ok, when the chicken is at or near done, you can start making your gorditas. In a large bowl, mix the masa harina, water, and 1/4 cup of oil. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and roll into a thick log. How thick? Well that just depends on how big you want your gorditas to be. Mine were about 3-4 inches in diameter (after flattening, so about 2-3 inch thick log). Divide the log into 1 inch slices. I got about 12 gorditas with this, and this was plenty for 3 people.

Flatten each gordita either with a rolling pin, or you could be more rustic and use your hands like I did. Be careful though, the dough will be VERY fragile so you kind of have to be gentle and loving with it.

Heat a large skillet or griddle under high heat and cook gorditas in batches (I found that 3 at a time fit in the pan nicely) for about 2 minutes per side. Set aside on plate as each one is done. When all gorditas are cooked, either wait until skillet gets cool or get out new skillet if you can't wait. Place enough oil in the skillet to bring it about 1/4 inch up the pan. If you do this with the hot skillet, you'll probably burn yourself, so that's why I said to either get a new skillet or wait until the other one cools. It's all about safety first, right? Right.

When oil is hot enough for frying, add the gorditas, in batches again, and fry for about 2 minutes per side, when they're nice and golden. When each is done, press the center with a spoon to kind of make a little indentation. Dry on paper towel-lined plate.

Top the indentations with the shredded chicken, sour cream, salsa, cheese, and whatever else you'd like to top it with. The toppings are really endless.

The verdict? I'm pretty sure I could sell these on the street. It's a compact little bite that can even be served as an appetizer, depending on how small or big you make the gorditas. They were crispy, and you could taste the corn in the flour, which for some reason, always reminds me of truly authentic Mexican food. I'd definitely recommend these for anyone! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicken Thighs Smothered In Gravy w/ Balsamic Roasted Zucchini

First off... I want to give a big shout out to my friend Cindy, it's her birthday today. She's going to the Colts game, and so is everyone else I know. I don't like the Colts. I'm an Eagles fan, of course. And speaking of the Eagles, my mother, father, brother, and soon-to-be sister-in-law are all going to the Eagles/Falcons game together. I'm sure I'll hear stories because I know it'll be an interesting experience for my little Filipino mother. Anyway, I saw this chicken recipe in Food & Wine's November 2009 issue.

Ingredients for Chicken:

Adapted from Food & Wine's 'Chicken Smothered In Gravy'

2 & 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
5 skinless chicken thighs
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 thick slice of bacon, cut into thin crosswise strips
1 & 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 tomato - peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 parsley sprigs plus 2 teaspoons, chopped

I was really worried about this dish. I mean, tomato gravy? Kinda weirded me out. But as my house become infiltrated with the aroma of well... deliciousness, I put my skepticism aside and dove right in. And I'm glad I did.

Preheat oven to 375 F. In an ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil under medium to high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet. Cook until browned all over, about 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once in between. When chicken is browned, transfer it to a plate and set aside.

Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until fat is rendered, about 2 minutes. Drain off the fat and add remaining oil to skillet. Stir in flour until incorporated. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato and tomato paste and cook until tomato is somewhat soft, about 5 more minutes. Add the milk and broth and bring mixture to a boil. Stir until it begins to slightly thicken, about 3 to 5 minutes. Return the chicken and any juices to skillet. Stir in parsley sprigs as well.

Cover the skillet and braise the chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. You can't really go wrong with chicken thighs because as long as you don't burn it (which is practically impossible in a braising situation), then you can't dry it out, or cook it "too long".

Carefully take skillet out of oven with an oven mitt and remove chicken and place on a platter. Then, STILL wearing oven mitt, (I say this because I damn near burnt myself by grabbing onto the skillet handle without one), place skillet under moderate heat and stir mixture until smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining chopped parsley and spoon the gravy onto the chicken.

I also made some Balsamic Roasted Zucchini to go along with the chicken. It was a REALLY easy side. Cut one large zucchini into thin rectangular slices. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss real well and bake in oven at 375F for about 15-20 minutes. It was great and went with the chicken well.

Overall, this was a fantastic meal. There was a complexity of flavor and a healthy component also. Great for any night of the week, I really think you should try this.... NOW! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pot Roast

One of my favorite things about crockpot cooking (I know I've had a lot of crockpot posts, but seriously, for the busy student worker I am, it makes tasty meals with less work, so who can pass that up?), is that I can put something in there, go to work or school, come back home, the house smells absolutely amazing, and there's dinner just waiting for me to plate it. Seriously, with the fast paced world that we live in now, I don't know how I would survive without one of these contraptions! And pot roast is definitely a staple meal of the crockpot. The cold weather, crockpot, and pot roast are just a match made in food heaven.


2 & 1/2 lb. pot roast (I used a chuck roast)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 onions, chopped
1 bunch of celery, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
6 oz. can of tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine (I used a cabernet sauvignon)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat your crockpot up on the "high" setting.

Heat up a large skillet under medium heat and add olive oil. When shimmering, add pot roast and brown on both sides, maybe 3-5 minutes per side. Place pot roast in crockpot.

In same skillet, add onions, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir continuously for 1 minute. The flour will create a subtle added starchiness and help to thicken the sauce.

Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, sugar, parsley, and red wine. Stir until tomato paste is well incorporated throughout. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 3-5 minutes to allow to slightly thicken.

Carefully add vegetable mixture to pot roast in crockpot. Cover and let sit at high for about 1 hour. Then turn to low and can leave for up to 8 hours. I let mine sit a working day, so about 8 hours.

About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, add the carrots and celery. You could add these add the beginning if you wanted to, but they would be a little mushy. I like my carrots and celery to be slightly crunchy but still somewhat tender. When carrots and celery are to your liking, serve pot roast and vegetables with white rice, mashed potatoes, or just by itself!

I loved this dish. I brought leftovers into work the next day and the pharmacist I was working with even ate it cold. You know something is tasty when you don't even have to heat it up! He also said that the dish brought back a "normalcy" and comfort when he was eating it. I think I should pat myself on the back then because those are some pretty great compliments! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Curried Flounder & Rice

I'm not gonna lie, this was just okay. Kind of looks like a bunch of mush. Haven't really had anything good come about lately. Kind of depressing, but I guess I'll get back in the game soon... hopefully.

Adapted from The Taste of Oregon's blog

1 cup spinach, washed and drained
1 egg
1 15 oz can coconut milk
2 flounder fillets, cut up into 1 inch cubes/slices
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 teaspoon fish sauce
3 dried red chiles
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and egg. Beat the mixture until the curry paste is dissolved and well incorporated.

Add flounder pieces and let marinate in fridge for about an hour.

In a large skillet, heat up oil under medium to high heat. Add the dried chiles and cook until browned, about 1-2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and saute until soft, about 4-5 minutes.

Add fish/coconut milk mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, when fish is white and mixture is heated through. Add in spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice.

I don't really know how to describe this dish. It had flavors of a thai style curry, yes, but it just didn't have enough punch. The original dish was meant to be a custard-type deal steamed in a banana leaf boat, but I didn't feel like buying any banana leaves so I just heated the mixture up. I should have probably removed the egg since I wasn't planning on doing a custard. That was mistake number one. The curry may have been less chunky and more smooth that way. The rice I made was a little mushy too. Kind of made it runny. It was just sort of a plain jane dish and didn't get much depth of flavor. Oh well, try and try again I suppose.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin Pasta

I know what you're thinking. Pumpkin Pasta? That's weird! Yes... I agree. Very weird. So weird, I had to give it a go to see what it was like. Result? Eh... so so. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. Feeling adventurous? Give it a go and see for yourself!

Adapted from Dulcis in Furno's Blog

1/2 box of pasta (I used shells)
1 small pumpkin, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
parmesan cheese

It's a basic recipe for a basic cream sauce. Flavor wise? Turned out, well... basic.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

While waiting for the pasta, get a large skillet and heat up the oil under medium heat. Add in onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the cubed pumpkin and cook until softened, about 20 minutes. Periodically, throughout, try pressing down on the pumpkin to sort of mush it down. Season with salt and pepper.

This is as far as the original recipe goes. Me, I wasn't satisfied with that. It just tasted kind of blah. So I had to spruce it up.

To the softened pumpkin and onion, add 1/2 cup cream and about 1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese
(depending on how thick or cheesy you want it). Let simmer until slightly thickened, shouldn't be too long, no longer than 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta and stir in with cream sauce. Salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Like I said... this wasn't anything spectacular. It was just weird. I don't know if pumpkin is meant for pasta. Not for me anyway. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken Piccata

I remember watching an episode of Top Chef one time and one of their challenges was to recreate a "classic dish". Chicken Piccata happened to be one of those "classic" dishes. Maybe it's because I grew up in a half-Asian household or maybe I was just sheltered, but I didn't know what the heck Chicken Piccata was. Well... now I do. And it's delicious. And it's classically simple, and worth getting to know.


Adapted from Playing House's blog

1/2 cup flour

4 chicken breasts, cut in half and flattened

salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 lemon, cut in half

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

Preheat your oven to 200 F and place baking sheet on middle rack.

Put flour in shallow bowl. Pat the chicken down with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Coat each piece lightly in the flour and shake off any excess.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches (I did 2 batches of 4 pieces), add chicken to skillet and brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. They'll cook pretty quick because they're somewhat thin. After each piece is done, place on baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all chicken is complete.

Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Thinly slice one half of the lemon and cut into half moons. Add the lemon slices, along with the chicken broth to the pan and scrape up any sucs (brown bits). Simmer this mixture until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the white wine and squeeze juice from leftover lemon half into the skillet. Turn the heat down to low and stir in butter pats, one at a time. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sauce on top of chicken. I also braised some spinach really quick in some chicken stock. Andy kept raving how it went exceptionally well with the chicken piccata itself.

This was a quick meal. This was a delicious meal. I think both of those components qualify it as a winner and a keeper. What "classic" dishes do you keep in your memory banks? What "classic" dishes have you heard of but never tried? Enjoy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cornish Hens w/ Plum & Leek Stuffing and Braised Parsnips

This was my first experience cooking with cornish hens. I've definitely pined to work with these babies for quite a while. So when I saw this recipe in Food & Wine's November 2009 issue, I knew I had to go for the gold. And gold is what it turned out to be! This was extremely an amazing experience for my mouth.

Adapted from Food & Wine's November 2009 issue

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz. sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 large leek, chopped (light green and white parts only)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chardonnay or dry white wine
1 15 oz. can of plums, drained, pitted, and chopped
2 cups day-old baguette, diced
1/2 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 cornish hens
6 parsnips, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Cook pancetta until crispy, about 6 minutes. Add in leeks and garlic and cook until soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine and reduce by about 1/3, about 5 minutes. Add in plums, cover, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir it once or twice in between.

Then place mixture in large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the bread cubes, thyme, and 1/4 cup of parsley. Season with salt and pepper. This will yield way more stuffing than is required for the 4 birds. It was pretty tasty so you could even cook it in a separate pan alongside the birds if you wanted extra stuffing.

Fill the cavities of the hens with the stuffing. Tie the legs together with some kitchen string. Spread the parsnips in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Use the remaining 1/4 cup of oil to coat the parsnips. Season with salt and pepper. Place hens, breast side up, on top of parsnips, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Then turn hens over, breast side down.

Pour chicken stock into baking sheet. Cover everything with foil and roast in oven for 45 minutes. Be careful, this is kinda heavy, and if you wanted to, you could even split it into 2 baking sheets, but I managed to put all 4 hens and everything in 1.

After the 45 minutes, remove foil, turn over hens (breast side up) and roast for another 30 minutes. The hens will be a nice golden brown to let you know they're done.

Let the hens rest on a work surface for 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop up the parsnips and place them in a platter. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup of parsley.

Transfer the pan juices from the baking sheet into a small bowl. Skim off any excess fat and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer hens to a plate and serve with parsnips, stuffing, and pan juices. I also made an acorn squash puree that went well with the birds also (roast 2 halves of an acorn squash for 1 hour, scoop out filling, season with parmesan cheese, butter, salt and pepper, and puree with immersion blender, voila... acorn squash puree).

This was an exceptional meal. It was like pre-Thanksgiving. Definitely felt like I had some cooking chops after making this. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vietnamese Banh Mi Burgers

I love a good burger. Big burgers, small burgers, thin, thick, whatever... as long as it's good, I'm down for it. I like this recipe because it takes a tradition Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich (here's the Wikipedia article here) and converts it into a burger. Definitely makes the house smell pretty awesome too.

Adapted from Food & Wine Nov 2009 Issue - "Vietnamese-Style Banh Mi Burgers"

2 carrots, shredded
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1 & 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 & 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ciabatta rolls
10 jalapeno slices (more or less depending on your like/hatred of spiciness)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the carrots, jalapenos, rice vinegar, and sugar. Toss to combine and let sit for about 10 minutes. Drain, then set aside.

In another small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, tomato paste, hot sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Patty up the beef into 4 large burgers. You could go as thick or thin as you want, but I just quartered my ground beef and made a patty out of each one. It made for a decent size patty. Season each patty with curry powder, salt, and pepper. It's pretty simple seasoning here, but I think the curry powder really adds a depth of flavor.

In a large skillet, heat the oil under medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until nicely browned on each side. Flip only once, took about 15 minutes or so, depending on how thick your patties are.

While the patties are cooking, you can start crisping up your ciabatta rolls. Cut each roll in half and spread butter on cut sides of bread. Set bread, cut side up, and bake for about 5 minutes so get a nice lightly toasted roll.

Spread spicy mayo on on side of roll, then place patty on roll, and top with pickled carrots and jalapenos.

These were definitely different, but still had a good flavor for a burger. The bread was crunchy. The burger was juicy. The toppings and condiments worked well with everything. Definitely a must try burger. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bowties w/ Ham & Peas

This was an extremely easy recipe. I'm not usually a big ham person, but Andy is, so sometimes I have to be unselfish and please him. I know, I'm a saint. But it actually turned out quite scrumptious and we both cleaned our plates in a matter of minutes, Andy of course, going to seconds. If you're looking for something quick and tasty... search no more.

adapted from Time in the Kitchen's blog

1 box bowtie pasta
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juiced
1 package pre-diced ham
1 package frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Set a pot of water to boil. Drop in pasta and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

While you're waiting for the water and pasta, heat a large saute pan and melt butter. Add flour and stir until beginning to slightly brown. You want to cook out the "flour-y" taste and get it somewhat nutty.

Add cream and stir until starting to boil and slightly thicken.

Turn the heat down just a tad, and add in lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a microwave safe bowl, cook the peas for about 1-2 minutes. Just to warm them through. Then add to pan with sauce, along with ham.

Drain the pasta and add to cream sauce. Mix until everything is well-combined and serve hot! Top with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired!

This was great because it's such a simple, comforting meal. The cream sauce was light and the peas and ham compliment eachother so well. I like this also because it's very versatile. You could definitely switch up the vegetables and protein, as well as just having the pasta and cream sauce by itself. Enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Links 11-20-09

I'm gonna make the links short and sweet. Today is Andy's birthday and we're going to Lilly's Bistro. I'm pretty excited. I've always wanted to check it out and I've only been there for dessert, but it was phenomenal. So here's to hoping Andy has a great birthday dinner!

On to the links...

Ultimate Thai Resource - I love Thai food. Wanna know how to make anything Thai? This is the website for you.

Sluggish Economy, Good Eats - Sometime we have to pinch those pennies. This is the resource that shows you how, and still lets you eat pretty decent.

Chocolate Goo
- Eat it by the spoonfuls. Ball it up, pop it in. Who cares what you do with it, it's chocolate-y, and goo-ey, so eat it!

Restaurant Coupons
- I don't eat at many chain restaurants, but if I did, I'd use these coupons. Then the meals would actually be worth what I'm getting. (can you tell I'm cynical about these kind of places?)

20 Healthy Food For Under $1 - Can you tell there's kind of a theme with this week's links? While the things on this list aren't necessarily under $1, cost per serving when used is under $1. Kind of misleading, but at the same time, it's a good list of stuff!

I guess I kind of had to make up for spending a whole bunch of money tonight on dinner with links that would remind me how to be frugal in the next week or so! =) Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crockpot Ginger Chicken w/ Brown Rice & Mushrooms

I was really excited to try this recipe out. I love ginger chicken. I love letting my crockpot do the cooking for me. But I didn't quite love this recipe. I don't know if it was the mushrooms that overpowered the ginger. I don't know if it was maybe not enough ginger. I don't know if it was the brown rice. It was just something that was a little off. I think next time I try this, I may not use an earthy vegetable like mushrooms. Maybe something lighter and brighter, like carrots, or even onions. I guess that's half the battle with perfecting a dish... you can't always get it right the first time. But it's not giving up that makes it so worth it in the end.

Adapted from Piggy's Cooking Journal's recipe

1 lb. chicken thighs, deboned
1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon shallot, sliced and fried
1 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon shallot oil (from the frying)
1/2 tablespoon sake
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 cup chicken stock, more if needed
salt and pepper to taste

Clean your chicken and mushrooms with a paper towel. Just pat the chicken dry and carefully wipe the mushrooms of any grit or dirt.

Place chicken and mushrooms in large freezer bag and mix with ginger, coriander, oyster sauce, soy sauce, shallot oil, sake, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Let marinate for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, turn your crockpot/slow cooker on high so that it gets warmed up.

Rinse your rice, place in crockpot, and cover with about 3/4 cup chicken stock. It's okay if you start the rice before the chicken, as long as you're using brown rice because it takes FOREVER to cook sometimes. But if you're gonna use a short process rice, like basmati or something, I'd wait until the chicken is done marinating.

Place chicken, mushrooms, and rest of marinade in crockpot. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and tender, and rice is done, about 45 minutes.

I really think the mushrooms stole the show from the chicken here. Kind of disappointing, but I will not give up. I will prevail. I will conquer this recipe... just not today.

Have you ever had a side ingredient steal the show from the main ingredient? Have you ever tried something multiple times just to see it still flop? Do you give up? Have you conquered?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Italian Wedding Soup

It was somewhat chilly last week. This week, somewhat different. Kind of like t-shirt and sweatpants weather. Nonetheless, I made this soup last week, when it was chilly and I wanted a warm up. It's a pretty straight forward soup, and the flavors are just spot on. And by the way, sorry for the lack of updating lately. It's getting to be the end of the semester and seems like professors want to jam pack everything all at the end, so I've been super busy... but yet I've still been cooking up a storm! Just not posting them as frequently. Thanksgiving Break will come as a relief and I'm sure many many posts.

adapted from Rachel Ray's recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg, beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 & 1/2 cups mixture of bowtie and elbow macaroni pasta
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and drained

This is a pretty simple recipe and can be done in a flash when you have that craving for the perfect soup.

Heat the oil under medium heat in a deep pot. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and cover pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring about once or twice in between.

While you're waiting for the veggies, you can make your mini-meatballs. Combine the ground beef, egg, garlic, cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Uncover your pot of vegetables and add in broth and water. Increase heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low once mixture comes to a boil.

Form mini meatballs with the meat mixture and as each one is done, drop into liquid. When all of meat mixture is used up add in pasta and stir. Cover the pot, increase heat just a tad, and cook for about 10 minutes, when your pasta is al dente or to your liking. Once your pasta is tender, add in the spinach. Stir until spinach is wilted. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

This is great with a nice piece of crunchy bread or all by itself! The flavors "marry" so well together, and that's why it's called Italian WEDDING Soup. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shrimp Curry

I love Indian food. I've never successfully made a curry of any kind. It's either too bland, not spicy enough, not authentic enough, something is always just... missing. When I came across this Shrimp Curry recipe over at An Edible Symphony, I had to give it one more go. And I'm sure glad I did. I finally mastered the art of an Indian style curry. The smells permeated the whole house and during out whole meal Andy kept saying "I'd order this in a restaurant"... and I felt good. I felt accomplished. I felt I could take on the world... well, maybe now I'm exaggerating... but needless to say, this was simply delicious.

slightly adapted from Edible Symphony's recipe

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1-2 teaspoons ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons canola oil
8 dried red chilies (yeah, I said 8... we like it spicy)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 lb frozen shrimp
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

Put first 7 ingredients into food processor and pulse until resembles a nice paste. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in large pan under medium-high heat and heat dried chilies until they turn dark. Be careful not to burn them though. This should be fairly quick, no more than 1 minute.

Then add in onion and cook until they are translucent and starting to brown. Add sugar and spice paste and let cook for about another minute.

Add in tomatoes and curry powder. The original recipe called for curry leaves and I was kind of hesitant to use the curry powder. I had just got done watching an episode of "The Next Iron Chef" on Food Network and they're challenge was to cook Indian food. One of the contestants used curry powder in his dish and was completely mauled by the Indian chef judge, so I was kind of scared of the result. But needless to say, curry leaves aren't very prevalent here in Louisville (although there is an Indian grocery down the road from us and I failed to look there), I opted for the curry powder and it was still delicious. Cook the tomatoes until they lose some of their moisture and then add in coconut milk. Simmer mixture for about 5 minutes. This is when the house starts smelling REALLY good.

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the shrimp generously with salt and pepper.

In a separate pan, melt the butter and add shrimp. The frozen shrimp are already cooked so you're pretty much just heating them through.

When shrimp are hot and cooked through, add them to curry. Taste curry for salt and serve over basmati rice.

This was incredibly easy and quick. I've always thought of curry as being somewhat tedious, but this recipe is not at all. The result was some spicy, authentic-tasting, mouth watering curry. I loved every bite. A pharmacist I work with even ate the cold leftovers the next day and said it was the best curry he had ever tasted. Now if you can eat something cold and say it's the best you've ever had... that says something. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BBC Dark Star Porter Braised Brisket

Andy just jumped on this recipe. It gave me an excuse to buy him some beer, since I needed to get some porter from the liquor store. BBC (Bluegrass Brewing Company) is a local brewery here in Louisville. They have pretty good beer. The food is a different story (personally I find it kind of bland), but the beer is where it's at. Anyway, this recipe was the first meal that I have actually "slaved" over. It's not a short recipe by far. It's definitely a two day project. So if you've got the time, or are just going through some sleepless nights... then maybe you should try making this amazing brisket. And I know it was well worth it because I gave my mother the leftovers and she called it "awesome." And for my very Filipino mother to call something "awesome"... that is something special.

Adapted from Bon Appetit's October 2009 issue

1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 & 1/2 lb. flat-cut beef brisket
2 tablespoon rendered bacon fat (I used 2 slices of thick cut bacon for this)
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 12 oz. bottle of porter or stout beer
6 whole pitted prunes
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
8 whole garlic cloves
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon malt vinegar

The original recipe requires an ovenproof pot and to have the brisket cook in the oven, but you guys know how much I love my slow cooker, so I opted for that. It made the recipe a tad bit longer, but I think the results are just as good, if not better.

First, turn your slow cooker on high. This way, when you're done with the next couple of steps, it'll be hot and ready.

Mix the salt, pepper, dry mustard, sage, and thyme in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the brisket and set aside.

Chop up the bacon slices and heat them under medium heat until fat is rendered. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and leave as much of the fat in the pan as possible. I let my bacon bits cool and then fed them to the dogs as a special treat, of course, stealing a couple for myself as well. Add brisket to the pan with the bacon fat and brown brisket on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. After both sides are decently browned, transfer brisket to a sheet pan.

In the same pan used to brown brisket, add 2 cups of the chicken stock, scraping up as many of the brown bits as possible. They're PACKED full of flavor. Bring the stock to a boil. Add in beer, prunes, bay leaves, and brown sugar. Return mixture to a boil. Turn off heat and add mixture to your slow cooker. Place brisket in slow cooker as well, fat side down. Place the sliced onions over top of the brisket and scatter out the garlic cloves.

Cover the pot and braise in the liquid for about 1 hour. Uncover the brisket and turn over, allowing onion slices to fall below brisket. Recover and braise for another 30 minutes.

Add 1 more cup of chicken stock and braise for another 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Take the brisket out of the liquid and place on sheet pan. Add final cup of chicken stock, mushrooms, and carrots to liquid mixture. Place brisket over the vegetables and cover. Braise the mixture until the carrots are tender (you can add more stock if needed, but I didn't have to), about 45 minutes longer. Turn slow cooker off and let cool. I took my bowl out of the shell so it would cool faster (considering it was about 3 am at this point, I was ready to hit my bed and be out like a light). Then place in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight. Like I said, it was probably in there from 3 am to about 3 pm the next day.

It was pretty awesome waking up the following morning because as I opened the fridge to get some juice, you could just smell the sweet smell of brisket just hit you in the face. I pretty much opened my fridge every chance I could, just to smell that smell. Andy said I should market a "brisket air freshener"... I'm sure it's already out there somewhere... after all, they do have "bacon air fresheners". But I digress...

When you're ready to start preparing for dinner, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the brisket pot out of the fridge and spoon off any fat from the surface and discard. Take brisket out of pot and place on cutting board. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain and place in a large roasting pan.

Bring the juices and vegetables in pot to a boil in separate pan. Whisk in mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then pour juices and vegetables over brisket slices in roasting pan.

Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and cook in oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, when brisket and vegetables are heated through.

Serve with vegetables and juices.

I'm telling you, this was amazing. I got that feeling you get when you study really really hard for a test and something and end up getting an A+ in return. I worked really hard, stayed up really late, but the result was well worth the long prep time. The meat was tender, the vegetables were juicy, and my only regret is that I didn't have any fresh bread lying around to dip in the delicious juices! Enjoy!


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