Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wednesday at the Grill: Skirt Steak, Grill Bread, Gazpacho

Last night we used the skirt steaks we got in the great beef divide (splitting half a cow from Morris Grassfed Beef with three other couples). To prepare the beef, I mostly followed a Thrill of the Grill recipe for "lime-marinated flank steak with chipotle-honey sauce": marinating the meat in chipotle, lime, and garlic for a few hours, then grilling it and serving with a sweet, hot sauce (lime, chipotle, mustard, balsamico, garlic, cumin, 'tro).

The grill bread was the usual recipe from Let the Flames Begin with minor modifications: we didn't have beer or cornmeal, so I used white wine and polenta instead. I actually think I prefer the coarseness of the polenta in this bread, so that may become a regular substitution.

I made gazpacho following the FStoS "Quick Gazpacho" recipe, but I added a bit of pimenton instead of using tabasco.


  1. The beef is fantastic.
  2. It was nice to have a thicker sauce with the beef. This one is emulsified and seems pretty stable; it's about the thickness of ketchup. We've got loads of it left, so we'll need to come up with alternate uses. :-)
  3. Amazingly, the tomatoes I got at the grocery store actually tasted like something, so the gazpacho was quite good.
  4. We also had an arugula (CSA box) salad on the side; that arugula is (well, "was" at this point) really good. There was something about the flavor of the arugula that made me think it would go really well in gazpacho... something to remember for next time.
  5. I disagree with the way our cow was butchered: the skirt steak was cut into strips and then rolled into "medallions". I'd much rather have a single piece of meat instead of having long strips.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tuesday Dinner: Sole with Scallions and Beurre Noisette, Spaghetti with Pesto

After the less-than-successful poaching experiment from last time, I decided to go with a more traditional (and flavorful) preparation technique for some sole:

2 sole fillets
salt, pepper, and cayenne
4 scallions, thinly sliced including a good amount of green
2 Tbs butter

Sautee the scallions in 1 Tbs of butter over medium high heat until the butter starts to brown.
Meanwhile season the fish with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Transfer the scallions to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
Dredge the fish through the flour and tap off any excess.
Add the other Tbs of butter to the pan and wait for the foam to subside, then add the fish and cook until each side is light brown, a couple minutes.
Transfer the fish to plates, top with scallions, and pour the browned butter left in the pan over the fillets.

It really makes a difference to use a preparation technique that is matched to the fish at hand... imagine that. :-)

I served the fish beside spaghetti topped with some pesto I made last week to preserve the CSA basil. Mmm, traditional pesto, mmm, concentrated taste of summer, mmmm. We also had a nice salad with CSA arugula.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Monday leftover fest

Last night we did a bunch of leftovers (grilled squash, sausages, grilled onion, lentils) along with some braised chard (CSA box) and roasted turnips and carrots (CSA box). With the exception of the squash, the combination of flavors was very harmonious. The squash clashed, but it's so good that didn't really matter. :-)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Sunday Dessert: Grilled bananas

This was a great finish for the grilled meal:

Slice two bananas in half lengthwise and put the halves flat side down over a medium fire. After a couple minutes, carefully flip the bananas and move to a cooler part of the grill. Let them cook for another five or so minutes until the bananas are good and soft, pull them off the grill and let them cool until you're ready to make dessert.

Add a couple tablespoons of sugar to a non-stick pan along with a bit of water to help it dissolve. Crank the heat to medium high and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize. Remove the bananas from their skins and add to the pan. Shake gently to coat the banana halves with the caramel. Add a Tbs of dark rum and the juice from half a lime and cook for about a minute until the liquid reduces some and starts to thicken. Mount the sauce with a bit of butter and serve immediately.

We didn't have any vanilla ice cream, so Andrea had some "chunky monkey" and I just had some whipped cream.

God only knows why I like bananas this way when I otherwise don't care for them at all.

Sunday Dinner: Grilled sausages and spicy summer squash.

After finishing off the pork roast, we tossed a couple of sausages (from Dittmers) on the grill along with some onions and summer squash (CSA box) planks that had been soaked in olive oil, cumin, garlic, and chopped jalapenos. The summer squash idea, which is finished with a cilantro-honey-lime dressing, is from License to Grill. In order to get the chilies cooked (they certainly don't stick to the squash), I poured the remaining marinade over the squash after it came off the grill, then threw it in the toaster oven at 300 degrees for a bit while I grilled the onions.

We accompanied all this goodness with a nice salad (CSA box). Happy happy.

Sunday: Pork Roast on the Grill

I made this yesterday so that we'd have something nice to put on sandwiches this week.

For the roast itself, I brined a pork shoulder picnic roast (with sugar and salt) overnight, then coated it liberally with B&vG spice rub.

To grill roast the meat, I built a fire with charcoal briquettes on one side of the grill and then put an almond log (comes in boxes at BevMo) across the top of the coals once they settled down. The roast went on the other side of the grill and I put the lid on. I also stuck an oven thermometer in there to get an idea of how hot the fire was: by periodically adjusting the vents I was able to keep the smoke going and the temperature at 300-350 degrees.

I was a bit surprised that one almond log generated smoke for the entire cooking period (about 2 1/2 hours), but I'm certainly not complaining.

After pulling the roast and letting it rest, I thinly sliced part of it and froze the rest. Preliminary tastings indicated great promise. :-)

A couple of notes:

  1. I really need to remember to put a pan or something under the roast next time I do this: the bottom of the grill is now covered in fat.
  2. I didn't grill the roast long enough to render all the intramuscular fat, so these cold cuts are going to be a bit fatty. I didn't want to cook for too long because we needed to have dinner at some point; next time it may be wise to use a loin roast or something with less fat.
  3. There are worse uses of my time than spending the afternoon outside drinking hefeweizen (mmm, Erdinger), playing games, and minding the grill. :-)

Sunday Morning: Huevos Rancheros

I did two different versions of the eggs themselves:

  1. Scrambled eggs with salsa on the side for Andrea (it would have been wise to heat the salsa up a bit)
  2. Eggs poached in salsa and chicken stock for me
We topped the eggs with cheddar cheese and scallions (CSA box) and ate them with bacon, black beans, sour cream, and corn tortillas.

mmmm, this was a great breakfast. It was made even better by eating it outside in the sun.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Well, that was less than successful

Recipe formatting experiment

I came across an interesting recipe format the other day and I wanted to check to see how it works in blogger. To that end, an adaptation of the Fluffy Biscuit recipe from the 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking:

1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs sugar
Add to a food processor and pulse a few times.

1 Tbs cold butter
Add the the flour mixture and pulse until well mixed.
Transfer the flour mixture to a bowl.

1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream
Add the first 1/2 cup of cream and mix. If more cream is required to form a dough, add it. Do not overwork the dough.

Roll out the dough to be about 1/2" thick, cut it into 3" rounds, and bake on a greased sheet at 425 until golden brown.

Thursday night: Baked pasta, braised chard, strawberry shortcake

Last night we did a standard baked pasta (penne with a sauce made from hot italian sausage, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, crushed red pepper, fresh basil and marjoram, and plenty of wine, topped with parmesan and "basque shepards cheese" from TJs). To accompany we had a salad and some chard (CSA box) braised in chicken stock and butter.

For dessert I made "fluffy biscuits" from my old copy of Joy of Cooking and topped them with macerated strawberries (CSA box) and lightly whipped cream.

Everything was deeeelicious.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Joy of "The Joy of Cooking"

From my 1943 edition of The Joy of Cooking:

Cooking in the United States is on the up and coming side, but it seemed to me that a peak was reached in a small Kentucky town where I was served chicken with dumplings. The latter were like thistledown. "Oh yes!" said the hotel proprietress wearily when I exclaimed over them. "They are always like that when our colored cook is drunk."

Wednesday Night: leftovers + lentils

Last night we finished off the zigeunerschnitzel from Tuesday and had some lentils (made my standard way, but I used radish greens, green onions, and thyme from the CSA box) with them.

For the salad, I made a quickie vinaigrette with lemon juice, white balsamico, fresh thyme, mustard, honey, and good olive oil. The dressing tasted great but refused to form a long-lasting emulsion. oh well...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tuesday Night: Zigeunerschnitzel and Bratkartoffeln

This meal arose because Andrea and I were both enthusiastic about schnitzel and potatoes. Since we had a bag of sliced peppers in the freezer, Zigeunerschnitzel seemed like an obvious choice. I've never made it before, so I just made something up. :-)

2 center cut boneless pork chops, cut in half and pounded out
1 egg
coarse bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb sliced bell pepper (I used frozen)
chicken stock
1 Tbs sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
thyme (I used lemon thyme)

Bread the schnitzel (flour, then egg, then bread crumbs) and let them sit on a rack.
Sautee the onion and garlic in the oil until the onion starts to soften, then add the peppers, some pimenton, the thyme, and a bit of chicken stock. Allow to simmer over medium low heat until everything is nicely cooked, then stir in the sour cream and adjust seasonings.
While the peppers are cooking, fry the schnitzel in some oil and then hold them in a warm oven until everything else is done.

This turned out really nicely, particularly when served with some chili-infused vinegar.

The potatoes were the standard oven roasted potatoes and we had a salad to go with everything.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Spicy Citrus Glazed Pork

This is something I "accidentally" made up a couple of years ago that we both really like.

1.5 lbs pork "sirloin" or shoulder, cut into 1" cubes.
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, medium dice
2 Tbs cumin seeds
1 Tbs coriander seeds
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup OJ
1/4 cup ketchup
4-6 chipotles, finely chopped + some of the adobo
chicken stock as required
juice of two limes
canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Get a couple Tbs of canola oil really hot in a sautee pan and brown the pork (with liberal salt and pepper) well. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.
Remove the pork from the pan as well as some of the oil (if it seems like there's a lot left).
Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast for a minute or so.
Add the garlic and onion and sautee a few minutes until the onion starts to go translucent.
Deglaze with the cider vinegar.
Add the OJ, ketchup, peppers, and adobo and bring to a boil. Add back the pork as well as whatever liquid collected around it. Simmer, uncovered, until the pork is tender (~30 minutes). If the liquid gets too low, add chicken stock.
Raise the heat and boil, stirring frequently, until the liquid is just a glaze. Add the lime juice and reduce back to a glaze state.
Adjust seasonings.

Corn and Tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs cumin seeds
1/2 onion, medium dice
3 jalapenos, thinly sliced
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups canned tomatoes+juice
canola oil
lime juice
salt and pepper

Cook the garlic in hot oil until it just begins to brown. Add the cumin seeds and toast for a minute. Add the onion and jalapenos and cook until the onion starts to soften. Add the corn and juice from the tomatoes, cover and cook a couple minutes until the corn is cooked. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, turn off the heat under the pan, gently stir in the tomatoes, cover and let stand a couple minutes. Adjust seasonings and add lime juice to taste.

Lime Slaw

Thinly slice half a head of green cabbage, add it to a bowl of brine, and allow it to stand for a couple of hours.
Drain the cabbage, wring it out, and put it in a medium bowl.
Add the juice of two limes, 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, 1 Tbs of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Toss everything together and let stand a bit before serving.

Sunday Night Mexican

Last night we put together a nice little combination of Mexican influenced things: Lime slaw, pintos with bacon, corn and tomatoes, and spicy citrus glazed pork. Relevant recipes follow in subsequent posts. We served it all with sour cream and corn tortillas and were very, very happy (though some crumbly salty cheese like feta or cotija would have been nice on the beans).

Saturday Night: Chicken Fricassee

This was a pleasing way to finish off the leftover roasted chicken (I actually ended up liking it better than the original chicken). To make it I removed all the meat from the carcass; coarsely chopped it; sauteed it in butter and olive oil with some pimenton, onion, and garlic; added some white wine; and braised for a bit.

We served this with the leftover rice cooked in onions and a salad.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Thursday night: Roast Chicken, Artichokes, Rice Cooked in Onions

I roasted a chicken, stuffed with a bit of lemon thyme and marjoram, following Jacque Pepin's instructions (from the Techniques book), and served it with pan gravy. The results were ok, but roasting chicken isn't one of my big skills. Also the chicken didn't really taste like much of anything (that, at least, isn't my fault).

We had steamed arthichokes (purple artichokes!) as an app, served with a simple garlic mayo (bottled mayo, mustard, garlic paste, lemon juice). Those were delicious.

Accompanying the chicken was Rice Cooked in Onions (a Minimalist recipe), augmented with some fresh basil pureed in good olive oil. That was also fabulous.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tuesday Dinner: Joe's Special, Kidney Bean Salad

I made Joe's Special with mixed southern greens (from TJs) instead of spinach. The kidney bean salad was from a Nigella Lawson recipe. We accompanied this with some boiled baby potatoes served with butter and chives.

Monday Night: Couscous salad with scallops

Marinate 1/2 lb bay scallops in lime juice, garlic, and chopped dried thai chilies
Make a dressing with lime juice, sesame oil, olive oil, ground coriander, ground cumin, minced garlic.
Dress some mixed greens and some Israeli couscous. Make a bed of greens in each bowl, top with couscous. Decorate with red pepper, carrots, and cucumber.
Sautee the scallops in some lightly browed butter, pour onto the couscous and drizzle over whatever sauce is left.

Catching up

Well, we moved and then went on vacation. I still don't have reliable net access, so I'm probably not going to be catching up for real on that time. Some notes:

  1. Jacques Pepin's caramelized peaches recipe works great with canned apricots instead of peaches.
  2. The raspberry gratin works with mixed berries, but you need to be careful to cook it longer so the bigger berries have time to thaw. grn. :-)