Archive for July, 2011

I am getting a little behind in posting about the dishes I make from my CSA meat and produce shares. Not that I’ve had problems using up everything. There was a bunch of radishes here and a rotten zucchini there that I had to toss, but for the most part, I’ve been keeping up with everything.

Last week, we received 3 lbs. of steak, tomatoes, a head of bibb lettuce, onions, garlic, carrrots, beets, and basil. So I made stake for dinner – with a salad and brushetta on the side. I was able to use up a lot of items that came in our box that week – and made a delicious dinner in the process.

I don’t cook, nor do I eat, steak that often. Neither does Chris. But I was really looking forward to trying it out and consulted my dad for advice about what to do with the 1 lb. delmonico steak. He sent me a couple of links to recipes for cooking steak without a grill and wished me luck. (He also advised drinking red wine and making a nice evening of it – we get along really well).

This recipe also closely resembles a famous Des Moines dish, Steak DeBurgo. Steak DeBurgo is really just beef with a really flavorful garlic and herb butter sauce. It is delicious… if you eat beef. And butter. The flavor was great, but I overcooked the meat and parts of it were quite tough. A shame really. But still edible, and tasty. How could it not be smothered in garlic and butter?

Here’s the recipe I used for the steak, from “The Heart of New England

Pan Seared, Oven Roasted Steak with Flavored Butter

Makes two, very generous servings

1 16 ounce rib eye or delmonico steak, at room temperature

3 tablespoons butter

3 teaspoons finely chopped  garlic

2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley

coarse salt, like kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper

Cannola oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Mix the chopped parsley with the
garlic. Sprinkle lightly with salt and press with the flat side of a chef’s knife to
mash slightly; mix with softened butter. Melt the butter
mixture over low heat in a small sauté pan.

Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper and place a heavy sauté pan
or iron skillet over high heat, filming the bottom with oil when hot. Sear the
steak until browned on one side (4 – 6 minutes). Turn the steak and brush the
top generously with the flavored butter. Place into the heated oven and cook
until done to your preference (check after 4 – 5 minutes by cutting into the
center of one of the steaks).

Remember that the meat will continue to cook from residual heat, so remove it from the oven when slightly less done than you wish. Pour remaining butter and any pan juices over the meat and let it stand for several minutes before serving. Slice and serve.

Even if you don’t eat steak, you could still enjoy this blue cheese dressing. It is one of the best I’ve ever had. Not too thick, the blue cheese isn’t too strong, and it is nicely creamy, zippy, and flavorful. It’s also easy to whip up.

Blue Cheese and Chive Dressing, from Epicurious

1/2 c. well-shaken buttermilk

1/2 c. mayonnaise

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/4 t. salt

1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 oz. crumbled blue cheese, like  Maytag (1/2 cup)

2 T. finely chopped fresh chives

1/8 t. black pepper

Blend buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and salt in a food processor until smooth.

Add parsley and pulse until chopped. Add blue cheese and pulse until cheese is incorporated but dressing is still slightly chunky.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in chives and pepper.

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Earlier this summer, some friends hosted a pretzel-making party. They prepared the dough, then guests helped roll the dough into pretzels. Guests also brought beer and dip for the pretzels. It was ingenious.

Pretzels have never been a go-to snack for me. I find the hard, crunchy ones bland and the generic soft ones… well, bland too. I guess I like those special mall pretzels that have so much salty butter that bland is not an option – but these homemade pretzels were so much more. Soft, warm, flavorful… that was enough to woo me. Add homemade beer cheese, a chorizo-cheese dip, mustard, even melted chocolate to the mix and I was in carb-heaven. The party was great and the pretzels were delicious.

I immediately wanted to make them myself. I used Chris’s birthday as an excuse.

My first day making preztels was a hectic one. We planned to go swimming in the morning and be back in time for me to make the pretzels and whatever else I couldn’t make ahead of time. However, the weather was unseasonably cool and gray so I quickly tried to get as much party-prep and cooking done in the morning, before we went swimming in the warmer, sunnier afternoon.

With all of the larger, more consequential and serious problems in the world – I was worrying myself sick about the damn pretzels. I was so looking forward to making them, but would I have time? I couldn’t make the dough before going swimming because it might over-rise – which is a problem, I guess? So I waited until we returned, where I managed to pull off everything, except totally cleaning the kitchen before people started knocking on the door.

They were a hit. Small, soft, delicious, and complexly flavored from the addition of the rye flour. If you’ve never made pretzels – this is a great place to start.

In the instructions below, I also include a link to a video about kneading dough. I’ve never been that successful with making breads that require yeast and kneading. The video clearly helped me.

Soft Rye Pretzels, by Kim Boyce from from Good to the Grain

Makes 12 large or 24 mini

1 package active dry yeast

1 T. honey

1 c. rye flour (available at Nuts and Stuff or in the health food section at grocery stories_

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

1 T. kosher salt

1/2 c. baking soda

about 2 T butter, melted

coarse sea salt

Put the yeast in a large bowl. Heat 1 and 1/2 cups water until warm, but not hot. Pour over the yeast  and stir in the honey.  Add the rye and all purpose flour and salt and stir again.

Pour dough onto a floured surface  or large board and knead. I have never successfully kneaded dough before, always resulting tough dough, so I consulted the experts. YouTube. If you have never successfully kneaded dough before, check out that video. It will help.

Add up to 1/2 c. flour if needed, until dough is “tacky” but not “sticky”. I had some trouble with this. The dough seemed very sticky to me so I kept adding flour, maybe even more than 1/2 c., until it stopped liberally sticking to my hands. Knead for about 12 minutes, or until dough is smooth and soft. Place the dough in a bowl greased with some melted butter.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 and 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While dough is rising brush two baking sheets generously with melted butter. Preheat the oven to 450. Make sure you have two oven racks placed in your oven, one in the upper-third and one in the lower-third.

When the dough has doubled, pour it onto floured surface and cut into 12 (or 24) equal pieces. Roll each piece into a snake, about 17 (or 7) inches long with thinly tapered ends. Rolling will be easier if you don’t use a floured board. Form each snake into a pretzel shape, or any kind of shape you want, really. Place onto a buttered baking sheets and let pretzels rise for 15-20 minutes.

While pretzels are rising for the final time, fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring to boil. once pretzels have risen and the water is boiling, add the baking soda to the water. To poach pretzels, lift pretzel and place in hot bath; let each side boil for 30 seconds, removing from water bath with a strainer. Pat excess water with a towel and transfer back to baking sheet. Finish boiling pretzels, brush with butter, and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Bake for 15-18 minutes rotating sheets halfway through. Pretzels will be dark in color. Transfer to rack to cool.

Enjoy immediately, preferably with some beer cheese.

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While I’ve spent previous blog posts describing my love of savory breakfasts, recently I’ve been craving the sweet. Well, the sweeter-than-savory kind, particularly scones. There is something about the flaky, buttery, not-too-sweet baked good that makes my mouth water and cravings spike. These scones are perfect for the sweet breakfast craving… particularly the guilt-free pastry craving.

Not-too-sweet, just buttery enough to be tasty, yet filling and wholesome because of the whole wheat flour. These are great. They also freeze really well.

The recipe comes from a book by one of my favorite cooks/ cookbook authors, Melissa Clark. I was drawn to the book because it is about eating what you want while losing weight. Since I love Melissa Clark’s recipes, and have always wondered how she stays so thin, I bought the book. It has a pretty terrible title: The Skinny: How to Fit Into Your Little Black Dress Forever, has a pretty common-sense healthy-eating plan (eat what you want, but not too much of it, include lots of vegetables and exercise), and includes pretty amazing recipes. This is one of them. I’ve made them twice in the last month. The first time I followed the recipe and used dried cherries. The second time I used fresh blueberries. Both were great. So make these, wrap them, and freeze them, and pat yourself on the back for making a delicious and healthful pastries for breakfast.

“Whole Wheat Cherry Scones” from The Skinny: How to Fit Into Your Little Black Dress Forever by Melissa Clark

Makes 12 scones

3/4 c. dried cherries or cranberries, or raisins, roughly chopped (you could also do what I did one time and use fresh blueberries)

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/4 c. sugar

1 T. baking powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. salt

5 T. unsalted butter, cubed

2 large eggs

1/2 c. milk, plus additional for brushing

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

If using fresh blueberries, skip this part: place the cherries in a sieve and pour boiling water over them. Drain well, transfer the cherries to a bowl and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter.

Using a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

Stir in the fruit.

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and milk. Pour liquid into the dry ingredients. Stir just until everything comes together. The dough has been really thick when I make and I end up using my hands to mix it all together. Don’t over mix, but make sure there aren’t any dry spots.

Divide the dough into three equal balls. With your palm, flatten each ball into a 5-inch disk.

Slice each disk into quarters using a sharp knife.

Transfer scones to the parchment-lined baking sheet, 1 to 2 inches a part. Brush each scone with some extra milk.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes until scones are golden on top and firm, but not dry. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

If freezing, let cool completely.

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This is it – my last post about fake, meat-free burgers, at least for a while. And these are by far the easiest of the three, and probably the tastiest and most versatile too.

You mix up a marinade, clean the mushrooms, let them marinate, then grill them or broil them. You can add cheese and toppings of your choice and enjoy. While they require a little pre-planning to marinate, they come together really quickly and cook quickly too.

The recipe is from Mollie Katzen’s excellent Get CookingWhile geared toward more beginner cooks, the recipes are tasty nonetheless, and easy too. I bought the book for Chris a few months ago and now have the recipes at my disposal any time I want.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend full of delicious burgers, real or otherwise.

“Portobello  Faux Burgers” from Get Cooking by Mollie Katzen.

Makes 4 “burgers”

1/3 c. balsamic vinegar

1/2 c. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 t. dried rosemary

1/2 t. dried thyme

1 t. salt

1/8 t. ground black pepper

4 portobello mushrooms, 4 to 5 inches in diameter

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, and all other spices. Set aside.

Prep the mushrooms by carefully trimming off the mushroom stems. Place in a large, flat dish with the tops up. Add about a tablespoon of the marinade over the top of each mushroom. Turn over and divide the rest of the marinade up between the mushroom, pouring over the bottom side. Let sit for at least an hour at room temperature.

If you want to let them sit for longer than an hour, cover the dish and place in the refrigerator. The longer they marinate, the more flavorful they will be.

Just before serving time, preheat the broiler or fire up the grill.

Transfer the mushrooms – leaving the marinade in the dish, to a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Broil for 5 to 8 minutes until heated through and nicely browned. Flipping is not necessary.

About half-way through broiling, you can also add cheese, like mozzarella and Parmesan, which makes a tasty addition. Make sure the cheese doesn’t burn.

Place on  a hamburger bun and enjoy!

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